Cora goes to WorldCon 75 in Helsinki, Finland

Ursa Major, WorldCon 75Next week, I’m off to Finland for WorldCon 75 in Helsinki. I’ll be leaving on Monday and am really looking forward to the experience.

So there will be light to no blogging next week and plenty of photos and con reports and Hugo discussion (come on, you know there’ll be Hugo discussion) once I get back.

In the meantime, the Speculative Fiction Showcase and the Indie Crime Scene will still be chugging along, including (somewhat truncated) link round-ups.

But should you find yourself in Helsinki for WorldCon 75, say hello to me.

You can also find me and several other fine folks on the following panels:

 

Alien Language in Science Fiction

As easy as a Babel Fish is, usually alien languages are handled differently in science fiction. The panelists discuss various alien languages and how they are understood.

 

The Hugo categories are based on paper publishing. With more and more writing and art ending up on the internet, in shapes not constrained by publishing houses, shipping, printing and paper, the categories are getting less and less relevant in the light of what is created and what people actually read.

Do the Hugo categories need to change? Do the categories reflect what you read and watch? How do we create a set of categories that get enough nominations and votes, but still mesh with the historical traditions?

Do we need to rethink the traditional fiction formats based on length? How about Best Related Work, which used to be called Best Non-Fiction Book, but now is used to nominate among other things internet platforms, larps, pods, scientific papers and internet essays – do we need to split it into (at least) two? The recent influx of non-fictional future speculations in blogs, articles, TED talks and lectures: are they relevant and pervasive enough that a future category should be discussed? Why do the zines categories assume periodicals with issues? Where is art published – does it need to appear in print?

Unless we think about change now, the future could take us by surprise.

What is the current state of machine translation? The rough-n-ready web page translation provided by Google, the apps you speak into, film dubbing/sub-titling, and translating SF books themselves all present unique technical challenges. If machine translation is commonplace, will fewer people learn English (or Chinese) as a lingua franca, and will the American cultural steam-roller’s effects be reduced? We’ll also look at the risks and benefits of translation making foreign countries less foreign to visitors.

Blogging/vlogging about books has caused some recent controversy. Some authors have claimed bad reviews in book blogs have resulted in poor sales. Book bloggers and authors discuss the importance and power of book bloggers/vloggers.

 

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The July Short Story Challenge 2017 – 32 Short Stories in 31 Days

Yes, you read that correctly. I wrote a bonus story for this year’s July short story challenge, so there’s actually 32 stories to come out of the challenge this year.

But let’s backtrack a bit. In 2015, Dean Wesley Smith announced that he was planning to write a short story per day in July. It seemed to be an insane writing challenge, but nonetheless I decided to play along, at least for a week or so. So I wrote a story and then another and I kept it up throughout the entire month of July, as chronicled here. I found the experience incredibly rewarding and illuminating. What was more, in the end, I had 31 brand new short stories, most of which are published now.

Fast forward a year to 2016. July rolled around and Dean Wesley Smith announced that he was going to do another story per day challenge and that he was also aiming for 200 stories per year. The latter wasn’t doable for me, but the former definitely was, especially since I had done it before. So I decided to play along once again and write a short story every day in July. Dean Wesley Smith himself eventually dropped out, when he was assaulted by an idea for a novel (as novel ideas are want to do), but I kept it up, wrote 31 stories and blogged about my experiences here.

Doing something twice is almost a tradition. And so, when July 2017 approached, I found myself thinking about doing another July short story challenge, even though Dean Wesley Smith has switched to challenging himself to write four novels per month in one of his established series this July. He still does short story challenges on occasion, but in different months.

Still, since I had already designated July as my “story a day” month, I decided to just run with it and see where it takes me. And guess what? Here I am, 31 days and 32 stories later, exhausted (because let’s face it, writing a new story every day is exhausting) and very happy about the progress I made.

As in the last two years, the vast majority of the stories I wrote were some flavour of science fiction, fantasy and horror (my first love) as well as crime fiction (my second love). So let’s take a look at the genre/subgenre breakdown:

  • Post-apocalyptic science fiction: 6 stories
  • Space opera: 5 stories
  • Epic fantasy: 4 stories
  • Horror: 4 stories
  • Dystopian fiction: 3 stories
  • Alien invasion/aliens: 3 stories
  • Men’s adventure/pulp thriller: 2 stories
  • Crime fiction: 2 stories
  • Spy fiction: 1 story
  • Steampunk: 1 story
  • Time travel: 1 story

Once more, the subgenres do tend to blend into each other. For example, I wrote space operas or post-apocalyptic stories that were also alien invasion stories. Meanwhile, dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories do tend to run into each other. Pretty much all of the space operas I wrote have romantic elements. Once more, the horror stories all had an undercurrent of dark humour, since I still seem to be incapable of writing straight horror. The pulp and spy thrillers are also crime fiction. One story is a crime thriller in a dystopian setting. The Steampunk tale is also a spy thriller. Several of the stories feature plenty of action and adventure. Several are also romances.

The story lengths range from 650 words for the shortest to 5400 words for the longest. Three stories are flash fiction length, i.e. under 1000 words. Meanwhile, seven of the stories are longer than 3000 words, while the vast majority is in the 1000 to 3000 word range. Altogether, I wrote 73000 words in July 2017, i.e. almost one and a half NaNoWriMos.

Dean Wesley Smith always wrote a lot of stories in established worlds or series for his short story challenges. Meanwhile, I tend to write more standalone stories. In 2015, not a single story to come out of the challenge was in an established world or series. In 2016, five stories were part of established series. This year, four and a half stories are part of an established series. There is a new Hallowind Cove story, a new Silencer story as well as two new In Love and War stories, so fans of these series can look forward to new installments. The “and a half” story is an edge case, a crime story where Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd shows up at the end to arrest the criminal. It doesn’t fit into the Helen Shepherd Mysteries, because the Helen Shepherd Mysteries are narrated only from Helen’s POV, whereas this one is narrated from the criminal’s POV and Helen is only a supporting character.

There are also two potential series starters among the stories to come out of this year’s July short story challenge. One is the Steampunk story, whose two main characters, an airship captain and his aristocratic fiancée, clearly have other adventures in them. The other is an adventure story inspired by the cover of a 1950s men’s adventure magazine (found in this fabulous art book, which is a treasure trove of inspiration for me, both for the covers and the ridiculous headlines). The protagonist Todd Donnovan is an adventurer and freelance troubleshooter who is hired to locate and rescue a missing botanist and tangles with a drug lord and a pit full of venomous scorpions. The story was really fun to write and Todd could easily have further adventurers. Should I ever write another story about Todd, I’ll be calling the series Two-Fisted Todd.

The July short story challenge relies on quickly coming up with characters and story ideas. Using an established world or series is ideal for this, because the world and the characters have already been built. I know how the world works, I know how the characters react, how they talk, how they think. All I need to do is jump back in. Coincidentally, this is also why Helen Shepherd shows up in an otherwise unrelated crime story, because I needed a police officer and Helen was ideal for the part. However, the fact that I already know the world and the characters can also be a disadvantage during a challenge like this. Because established characters also have history and their share of baggage. Two-Fisted Todd Donnovan has no established supporting cast and nowhere to go after his adventure, but the Silencer will go home to Constance, kitten Edgar and baby Kenny, the newest addition to the household (introduced in St. Nicholas of Hell’s Kitchen). Anjali and Mikhail from In Love and War will banter about Anjali’s love for soap operas and be reminded of their respective lost families in a way that brand-new characters probably wouldn’t. Hallowind Cove is a bit of the exception here, since it’s more of a shared world type series than a character focussed series, which is probably why I’ve found myself writing new Hallowind Cove stories during the July short story challenge two years in a row.

As in the previous two years, I found that the stories I wrote tend to cluster around certain themes: As in 2016, there is a cluster of post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories (I foresee volume 2 of After The End – Stories of Life After the Apocalypse in the medium near future). I suspect it’s because we’re living in dark times and they haven’t exactly become better since last year. Another mini-theme – probably related – was subverted horror, i.e. stories which put a twist on such horror tropes as summoning a demon or the entire hordes of hell, changelings and monsters stealing babies and mysterious, shadowy stalkers outside the window. There’s also a related theme of epic fantasy clichés subverted.

A third mini-theme was aliens. I’ve recently noticed that though I write a lot of science fiction, I rarely write aliens. The In Love and War universe is entirely human and while the Shattered Empire universe does have sentient aliens, we only meet them in a single story. The alien saucermen in The Day the Saucers Came are never seen and the focus is entirely on the human characters. Indeed the point of the entire series is that various more or less mundane dramas are interrupted by a 1950s B-movie style alien invasion. And while there are aliens in several of the stories in Bug-Eyed Monsters and the Women Who Love Them and Operation Rubber Ducky, none of them are remotely serious.

I’m not sure why I write so rarely about aliens. I suspect it’s partly because the depiction of aliens in SF is so often a cliché. The evil insectoid/reptilian aliens the manly space marines can shoot without any remorse, for they’re evil because they’re evil. Humans with latex masks and bumps on the forehead. Aliens which only exist as an allegory for some aspect of human nature. I find most of these approaches boring. Not that there aren’t excellent depictions of aliens – from the very human to the very alien – in contemporary SF. But for some reason, that’s not what I write. My subconscious pounced on this realisation and started producing story ideas about aliens. So I wrote three not entirely serious stories about aliens on Earth (since I apparently still have problems taking aliens seriously) – a thwarted invader, an ordinary alien just trying to make a living and a trio of aliens just looking for a good time.

I also noticed that about 99 percent of the space opera and military science fiction categories at Amazon consists of stories about humanity locked in a mortal struggle with evil aliens (who are of course either insectoid or reptilian or – if we’re going to be really original – a Cthulhu knock-off) and only Captain Manly McMannerson and his ragtag crew of misfits and outcasts can save humanity. A lot of the time, the blurbs read like something that might have appeared in Astounding Stories or Amazing Stories in the 1930s to 1950s. My reaction to such novels is usually “been there, read that and besides, Heinlein did it better”, but apparently there is a huge and hungry audience for such stories, since they are inexplicably popular. So I wondered if I could write a very traditional humans vs. evil aliens story and did. Don’t let it be said that I can’t write to market at least once.

So let’s talk about inspiration: Where on Earth do you get inspiration for 32 stories, one for every single day? As in previous years, I used writing prompts (Chuck Wendig’s are always good), random generators (particularly name generators are a godsend, because you’ll have to come up with a lot of names for 32 stories) and images – mainly SFF concept art, but also vintage magazine covers – to spark story ideas. By now I have a whole folder on my harddrive which contains inspirational images – basically my own catalogue of concept art writing prompts. Other sources for inspiration were a call for submissions for a themed anthology, a Pet Shop Boys song I heard on the radio, 1980s cartoons that were basically glorified toy commercials, an article about dead and deserted shopping malls in the US, a news report about a new system to prevent the theft of cargo from truckbeds, a trailer for a (pretty crappy by the looks of it) horror film, the abominably bad Latin used during a satanic ritual in an episode of a TV crime drama, a short mystery where I found the killer (the least likely person, of course) a lot more interesting than the investigation. In one case, googling a research question for one story, namely whether there it’s actually legal to shoot looters after a massive disaster (it’s not, though there have been cases where law enforcement personnel was given carte blanche, with predictably terrible results) led me to the story of a man who bragged that he had shot more than thirty alleged looters after Hurricane Katrina (thankfully, it seems he was lying or at least massively exaggerating) and who amazingly was not arrested as a serial killer. This made me actively angry, so I wrote a post-apocalyptic story where a shooter of looters gets his comeuppance.

Especially towards the end of the challenge, different sparks of inspiration also combined into new ideas. A piece of concept art of an armed man walking down a moss-overgrown escalator combined with a news article about dying shopping malls in the US led to a post-apocalyptic tale about a scavenger exploring a shopping mall after the apocalypse. A call for submissions for a themed anthology and a piece of concept art sparked a story idea, while two different pieces of concept art combined to spark a story. Every day, we are surrounded by dozens of potential story ideas. One of aspect of the July short story challenge is that it forces you to grab those sparks of inspiration and run with them.

Coincidentally, one of the best aspects of the July short story challenge is that it gives you room to just experiment. Want to try out a new genre, a new POV, a new kind of protagonist or a new technique? No problem, it’s just a short story and you’ll write another tomorrow. During the July short story challenge, I wrote two second person stories (and I almost never write second person POV), a confessional “tell-all” type story and an epistolary story among others. I also experimented with genres I rarely write such as horror and men’s adventure. What is more, I don’t particularly like writing blow by blow action scenes (I much prefer dialogue), but nonetheless I found myself writing street fights and shoot outs, an ambush at a mountain pass, fights against aliens, scorpions and crocodiles and much more.

Another positive aspect of the July short story challenge was that I learned a lot of new stuff. During the course of the challenge, I found myself researching the nuclear blast shadows of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, leprosy, Antarctic research stations, scorpions, crocodiles, dairy farms in Upstate New York, 1930s trucks, demon summing rituals and much more.

Once more, I found myself writing a huge range of very diverse characters with very different backgrounds, ranging from a 10-year-old boy in post-apocalyptic Kenya via a Swedish scientist in the Antarctic, a teenaged sniper in the far future and a scriptwriter for toy tie-in cartoons in the 1980s to an old lady in the Bavarian Alps. Nine stories have female POV characters, seven stories have POV characters of colour, five have non-human POV characters (two aliens, a robot, a demon and a dragon respectively), one story has a gay POV character. Even a story set in the Bavarian Alps, a setting that’s about as white and German as you can get, features a gay man and a Pakistani immigrant as supporting characters. So really, there is no excuse for defaulting to straight white Anglo-American men as main characters for such a challenge.

For the third year in a row, I’ve found the July short story challenge an incredibly rewarding experience. Will I do it again next year? Probably, if I find the time.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for July 2017

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

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

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have urban fantasy, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, post-apocalyptic fiction, space opera, military science fiction, hard science fiction, science fiction mystery, alternate history, Norse mythology, horror, vampires, elves, ghosts, valkyries, FBI witches, space outlaws, unicorn killers, murder in space, intergalactic slavers, haunted prisons 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:

Victorious Dead by Marie AndreasVictorious Dead by Marie Andreas:

The galaxy was in for a world of hurt—chaos unseen since the violent, sadistic Asarlaí ruled. For the first time in her life, Vas doesn’t know if she can fight hard enough to stop it.

Vaslisha Tor Dain was a simple sort of mercenary starship captain. She fought hard, drank hard, and killed people when all else failed. Those were the good days–blown to interstellar dust when a band of crazed monks tried to resurrect a race of long-dead homicidal rulers: the Asarlaí.

Vas and her crew defeated the first wave but at great cost, both professional and personal.

Now lying low, she’s been taking tedious recovery jobs with a new ship, a new second-in-command, and a galactic government that has gone into hiding but is still on the hunt for her and her ship. But there are noises in the distant corners of the galaxy that the Asarlaí have found new allies and another way to come back from the great beyond. A painful and brutal way that will destroy worlds.

In the darkest night of deep space, if she sits too still and thinks too long, she still misses her former ship, scattered in pieces across the universe, and Deven, her former second-in-command, also scattered in pieces across the universe.

When what should have been an easy job with easy money backfires in her face, the cosmic conspiracy engulfs her again. The ghost–make that ghosts–of her dead lover appears, as do the deadly, long-gone Asarlaí who want their empire of worlds back, never mind that other beings live there. And Vas realizes lying low was never a possibility, not for the Warrior Wench, and never for her.

Death is final. Except when it isn’t.
But the righteous in battle are always
VICTORIOUS DEAD.

Strangeways by Robert J. BrunnerStrangeways by Robert J. Brunner:

SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD!

Thomas Griffin has heard the legends about Strangeways Federal Penitentiary — tall tales and whispered rumors.

Ghost stories.

Now a guard has died, and the FBI agent is summoned to the century-old prison to investigate.

Inside the massive stone walls, Griffin finds a drug-fueled madhouse of violence and hate. He kills a man in self-defense only to see him rise from death and murder an innocent. Inmates commit horrific suicides using the only weapon at hand — the prison walls themselves. The trail of grisly deaths lead Griffin to the greatest threat — not just to body, but to soul — the disciples of an ancient, blood-thirsty cult.

The Gate at the Grey Wolf Star by M.D. CooperThe Gate at the Grey Wolf Star by M.D. Cooper:

In the Age of the Orion War…

After nine long years of searching the Inner Stars, Jessica and the crew of Sabrina have finally found the president’s brother, Finaeus Tomlinson.

Now Finaeus has convinced them to take a shortcut through a jump gate–a new technology none of them have ever used before–located at a secret dwarf star mining operation.

But a mysterious group within the Transcend Space Force, known as the Grey Division, has orders to intercept and capture both Jessica and Finaeus.

Trapped at the bottom of a steep gravity well and surrounded by enemies, Jessica and the crew of Sabrina must find a way out of the Grey Wolf System and deliver the crucial information Finaeus carries back to New Canaan before even their allies are forced to turn against them.

Piper Deez and the Case of the Winter Planet by M. FennPiper Deez and the Case of the Winter Planet by M. Fenn:

Detective Piper Deez, newlywed but still hardboiled, is a solar system away from home investigating murder and thievery on Alta-na-Schell, the Winter Planet. Who can she trust? Who should she trust? Why didn’t anyone tell her monogamy was going to be this difficult? Eye of the Storm, a domed city riven by clan rivalries and corruption—with only fingerlengths of shielding protecting its denizens from certain death—may hold some answers and, perhaps, even the end of Piper Deez.

If monogamy doesn’t get to her first…

 

Selling Out by Zen DiPietroSelling Out by Zen DiPietro:

Begin a fun, exciting epic science fiction series that spans an entire galaxy. Selling Out continues the Dragonfire Station universe with Cabot’s story.

It’s all just fun and games unless a profit can be made.

Cabot Layne is a trader, through and through. Some might call him a pirate, but he never breaks the law. He only bends it. One thing’s for sure–he’s certainly no hero. Except a certain BlackOps officer seems to think he is, and sends him off on a mission only a trader can pull off.

That only a very good trader can pull off.

War is good for business.

Cabot’s not concerned with the safety of an allied planet, or even the PAC itself–everyone knows guys like him are privateers who only care about themselves. But if he can save the planet and make a profit too…well, that might not hurt his reputation too much.

Sometimes a shady guy needs to play good guy.

A Magical Reckoning by N.R. HairstonA Magical Reckoning by N.R. Hairston:

By Any Other Name
Rye must risk her life to save her best friend and fellow Scope agent from the drug runner bent on draining him of valuable skunk oil. Having skunk DNA herself, she’ll do anything to shut down the illegal operation and get her friend back, but putting her trust in a stranger may lead to an unexpected tryst, as well as the ultimate betrayal.

I Was Asked to Kill Him
Delia is a pacifist who never wanted to kill her boyfriend, Greg. In a world full of powerful beings, she only wants to stay under the radar. She paid her debt to society and only wants to get back to a quiet life – but Greg isn’t finished with her yet.

Pear Town Ruckus
A game of Spades is all that stand between telekinetic Leah and paying her rent this month. When fellow card player, Xavier offers to be her partner, she’s delighted, that is until she finds herself fighting for her life in Pear Town, a place even cops dare not enter.

Belle of the Ball
All Kerry wants is to go home. Swept away from her hopeless existence into a life of strange luxury in an alternate universe, Kerry isn’t convinced her luck has changed. As she discovers the ugly truth buried under the world of opulence and indulgence, she also discovers that she may not be as helpless as she thought, which is good, because what they have planned for her is a fate worse than death.

A Gathering of Succubi
In a race against the clock, Kia only has twenty-four hours to discover which of her fellow Succubi is killing humans. All supernatural beings are under the rule of the powerful First Families, who have laid down their mandate – find the killer, or all Succubi will suffer the consequences.

New Wings by N.D. IversonNew Wings by N.D. Iverson:

Anahira Clarkson. Dating app addict. Problem drinker. Supernatural newbie. Screw up.

When mauled bodies start piling up in Calypso City, Anahira and her crew are hired to hunt down the rogue werewolf responsible. No mercenary could refuse such a fat pay check. Too bad word spreads. With the Magistratus breathing down her neck and competing mercenaries hot on her heels, the case is messier than the werewolf’s meals.

If that’s not enough, her crew is being picked off one by one. Screw money, now it’s personal. Anahira has no choice; it’s time to woman up and track down the killer before her friends and co-workers become puppy chow.

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

DEFENDING THE VEIL

Rachel Farran returns in the third book of the POTOMAC SHADOWS series! When the evil Spinner begins an all-out attack on Rachel and everything she holds dear, Rachel must draw on all the resources at her disposal to defend herself and her allies. Can she survive the challenge or will she be doomed to haunt the shadows alone for all time?

Beacon’s Fury is the third book in POTOMAC SHADOWS, a paranormal fantasy series set in the Washington, DC metro area.

 

Deal with the Devil by Eugene Kirk and Garan MadDeal with the Devil by Eugene Kirk and Garan Mad:

She may be just an actress, but Shay the Savage She-Wolf’s out to prove her bark is nothing compared to her bite . . .

With her career as a bio-augmented E-tainment superstar making a rebound, Shay’s hopes and dreams finally seem to be taking form. But when a brush with urban violence leaves one of her neighbors shot and another kidnapped, her life is abruptly thrust into turmoil once more.

With the cops set to do nothing, Shay sets out to find her neighbor and rescue him before the unthinkable happens. But when the trail leads to one of the biggest drug lords in Miami, Shay quickly finds herself in over her head.

Now, she’ll have to use her brains as well as her genetically enhanced brawn to navigate Miami’s seedy underworld and find her friend before it’s too late.

But to do so, she’ll have to make a shaky deal with a devil she knows she can’t trust.

Sagitta by Ruby LionsdrakeSagitta by Ruby Lionsdrake:

Dr. Tala Matapang thought the most challenging part about getting kidnapped by slavers from another planet would be escaping, not butting heads with the obstinate Star Guardian captain who rescued her. She’s been working in his sickbay, and it’s refreshing not having to deal with the politics and bureaucracy she faced as a surgeon back home, but Captain Sagitta is as infuriating as he is handsome. He’s got this crazy plan to take her and the other women home against his government’s wishes, and he didn’t even consult them about it first.

Captain Sagitta “Sage” of Dethocoles believes in doing the right thing. That’s why he’s defying his government to take Tala and the other Earth women home. Unfortunately, he has a couple of problems. First, his government is sending a surprisingly aggressive pursuit after them. Second, he’s having a hard time imagining dropping Tala off and never seeing her again. She’s a capable doctor and is doing an excellent job heading up his sickbay. More than that, he’s attracted to her and is starting to care about her. Too bad he’s better at barking orders than sharing feelings, and he seems to argue with her every time they speak.

With trouble stalking the ship from behind and obstacles blocking the route ahead, Sage and Tala will have to form a bond and learn to work together, or neither of them will see their home worlds again.

Revenge by Dominique MondesirRevenge by Dominique Mondesir:

When the entire universe is determined to destroy you…

With a ship accrued and allies on hand, Phoenix Jones believes his life is finally ready for some smooth sailing. But Holger Portendorfer has other plans as he launches an all-out war against Phoenix.

As Phoenix fights back with every ounce of his being, old enemies resurface, forcing him to question who he trusts. While battles are won and lost, Phoenix’s friendships crumble.

Against all odds, in a David and Goliath tale told like never before, can one man and his motley crew defeat a space lord and his armada before more innocent people get hurt?

How many pieces of your soul could you give up, to do what’s right.

One man and his crew, are about to find the answer to that very question.

Night of the Unicorn by T.S. PaulNight of the Unicorn by T.S. Paul:

Someone is killing Unicorns and the Magical Division of the FBI has been assigned to stop it. Special Agent in Charge Agatha Blackmore has an edge to solving this new case. Her familiar and friend Fergus is a talking Unicorn. But he doesn’t want to help, even if it’s his own Herd he’s be saving. Sacrifices don’t come back is all he will say. The team has to track down a killer while dodging Blood Magick and more Godly interference along the way. What is a Witch to do?

 

 

Young Parisians by P.J. PostYoung Parisians by P.J. Post:

Ten years ago, the world ended.

Ten years ago, a handful of orphaned kids were infected with a bioweapon virus. They called themselves the Pixie Girls.

Ten years ago, raging fires ended the Battle of Freemont; half of the Pixie Girls escaped to the river.

Ten years ago, the others didn’t.

The Pixie Girls refuse to give up hope, and as they come of age, searching for one another, they transform from terrified refugees into ruthless seasoned warriors: Wanted, dead or alive.

Surrounded by Bounty Hunters and Slavers, by zombies and mutating lands, the Pixie Girls remain honor bound and vigilant, committed to finding their sisters, to protecting each other, and no matter what, to living to fight another day.

But after ten years, hope is becoming liability.

Frigga's Lost Army by Juli D. RevezzoFrigga’s Lost Army by Juli D. Revezzo:

In the winter of 1943, Benjamin is just a grunt and Army cook—until he finds himself captured, along with his unit, taken prisoner by Mussolini’s troops after the Battle of Tunisia.

Transported to a POW camp in Italy, Benjamin is plagued with intense visions of the Norse Goddess Frigga and her retinue of Valkyries, berserkers, and other magical beings.

When he encounters a woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to the goddess, he wonders if he hasn’t been entangled in a battle between the natural and the supernatural—a battle for the present and the future.

Equality by Alasdair ShawEquality by Alasdair Shaw:

Harry Robinson lives an idyllic lifestyle. A brilliant computer engineer, he made his fortune pushing the limits of android design. When a neighbouring planet is hit by a global nuclear strike, he feels compelled to help. A chance encounter with a group of offworld soldiers launches him on the trail of the perpetrators.

Prefect Olivia Johnson leads a Legion of disillusioned soldiers from both sides of the civil war. She blames herself for failing to prevent the attack. Now her mission is to hunt for its architect. But first, she must reclaim their adopted home from a different enemy. An enemy who won’t even talk.

The Indescribable Joy of Destruction is Johnson’s best friend and closest ally. Despite the lives they have saved, artificial intelligences are still the victims of fear and prejudice. The shadowy warship fights to defend the first place it felt accepted, and for equal rights for its kind.

First Love by Aria SparkeFirst Love by Aria Sparke:

Lily Winter has never had time for boyfriends. All she has ever wanted is to be a doctor, but her life is unraveling. With the death of her father and her life coming apart at the seams, she and her mother move oceans to the watercolor world of Wicklow. In the midst of her pain, she meets Flynn Cooper—intelligent, handsome and caring. Their attraction to each other soon proves overwhelming and undeniable. Flynn’s wealthy and ancient family hide dark secrets and Lily finds herself ensnared in their strange world. After meeting Flynn’s charismatic and hypnotic father, her life becomes increasingly complicated leaving her to question everything about the universe she held as true. When the Ruberios call upon her to help their family, Lily discovers her decisions can’t be undone, entrapping her in a terrifying web.

Onset: Blood of the Innocent by Glynn StewartONSET: Blood of the Innocent by Glynn Stewart:

A war older than the nation
An enemy with agents at every turn
An ancient foe with an offer of peace

The alliance with the Elfin Warriors has allowed the United States Government’s supernatural forces, the Omicron Branch, to hold the line against the demons and take the war to the Vampire Familias, defeating them in battle and reclaiming their resources.

Victory against the vampires, however, leaves David White with a moral dilemma as he captures an entire convoy of freshly turned vampires: beyond saving, but innocent of their species’ crimes. Duty only allows one fate for them—but then an ancient vampire arrives to negotiate for their freedom.

Letting them go drags David into the middle of a political nightmare as the Omicron branch must decide which is more important: Omicron’s authority and revenge for their dead, or the very Constitution and people they are sworn to defend…

Virago One by John TriptychVirago One by John Triptych:

Virago: the codename for a top secret project between ACE Corp and USAF Space Command. Its goal is to deploy the first fusion-powered battleship to ensure American domination of any potential conflict in space.

There’s only one problem: Virago has been stolen.

The world is now at the brink of war as the hijacked spacecraft forges a path of destruction across known space. The task to intercept and retake this dangerous adversary falls on corporate troubleshooter Stilicho Jones and NASA Special Agent Darian Arante, who must overcome their mutual distrust and antagonism just to survive. This time the stakes are higher, the price of failure too catastrophic to imagine.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for July 2017

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, craft mysteries, small town mysteries, science fiction mysteries, romantic suspense, police procedurals, psychological thrillers, crime thrillers, military thrillers, men’s adventure thrillers, serial killers, terrorists, assassins, murder in amusement parks, museums and zoos, crime-solving dogs, the FBI, the Chinese mafia, adventures in 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 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:

Broken Blue Lines by Ariadne BeckettBroken Blue Lines by Ariadne Beckett:

Nick Aster is a felon. He’s also one of the FBI’s most valuable consultants, and Agent John Langley’s best friend and partner. When Nick is arrested and brutally assaulted, he must bring down some of the most powerful and corrupt men in the NYPD in order to survive the fallout…. and Agent Langley must defend the man he’s come to love from the system they both serve.

They say the bond between law enforcement partners can be as strong as the one between couples. Agent Langley is straight and married to the love of his life. But when nursing Nick back to physical and emotional health brings the partners closer than ever, John and Nick realize they don’t just love each other; they’re in love.

Can an apple-pie wholesome FBI agent with a traditional marriage, a dog, and a perfect career adapt to the concept of another man joining the family? And can one man change the entire NYPD and erase a stain that has destroyed thousands of innocent lives?

Celebrities and Chaos by Cindy BellCelebrities and Chaos by Cindy Bell:

A new TV show is filming on the beach in Garber and Dune House is full to the brim with crew members and celebrities. Suzie and Mary are run off their feet trying to keep up with the demanding guests. But that turns out to be the least of their concerns when someone is found murdered.

Chaos erupts as Mary is the prime suspect and Dune House is out-of-bounds because it is a crime scene. Suzie and Mary join forces with Paul to try and weed through the web of suspects to find the killer. They are in a race against the clock to clear Mary’s name and get back to business as usual at Dune House.

Will the murderer be found before Mary lands up behind bars and the reputation of Dune House lands up in tatters?

Shanghai Tang by Mick BoseShanghai Tang by Mick Bose:

A betrayed assassin is thrust into the secret life of Shanghai’s underworld
Dan Roy, ex Black Ops legend, is becoming a new legend in the infamous blood fight tournament called Kumite, in Hong Kong. He is carving himself a new life, when disaster strikes his loved ones back home. He gets a phone call, and he cannot deny Kimberly Smith’s plea for help. Not only is Kim’s life endangered, the rumbles of discontent have reached the White House…
A devastating secret lurks inside the glamorous night life of Shanghai. Political interests are involved, and soon Dan finds himself in a ruthless and twisted struggle for survival. He gets help from Xiao Wei-Ling, A Chinese woman who is on the run herself. An ambitious Triad boss is making a bid to over rule the whole of Shanghai, and Dan Roy has become a thorn in his side. The Triads have help from the police, and all eyes are on Dan – alone in a foreign land.
Get prepared for a white knuckle ride from Hong Kong and Shanghai to the corridors of power in Washington, as we follow Dan on a terrifying adventure that could be his last.
Will Dan meet his nemesis in the murky underworld of Shanghai? Or will he fight to live another day?

Child of Mine by V.J. ChambersChild of Mine by V.J. Chambers:

A teenage girl found murdered.

Lorelei Taylor’s autistic son, Simon, is a suspect. But he didn’t even know the girl. Did he?

Simon is sixteen, vulnerable, and diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Lorelei knows her gentle son could never harm another person.

But then she finds Simon’s camera full of photographs of the murdered girl, and her certainty begins to waver.

As the police circle in on her son, Lorelei has only one choice—to solve the murder and exonerate Simon. But does she know her teenage son as well as she thought she did?

Piper Deez and the Case of the Winter Planet by M. FennPiper Deez and the Case of the Winter Planet by M. Fenn:

Detective Piper Deez, newlywed but still hardboiled, is a solar system away from home investigating murder and thievery on Alta-na-Schell, the Winter Planet. Who can she trust? Who should she trust? Why didn’t anyone tell her monogamy was going to be this difficult? Eye of the Storm, a domed city riven by clan rivalries and corruption—with only fingerlengths of shielding protecting its denizens from certain death—may hold some answers and, perhaps, even the end of Piper Deez.

If monogamy doesn’t get to her first…

 

Final Check Out by CeeCee JamesFinal Check Out by CeeCee James:

When Maisie takes a day off from the hotel business to visit a popular amusement park, the last thing she wants is to trip over a dead body in the Maze of Mirrors. The only witness to the murder is a park employee dressed in a princess costume. ??

Things take a turn as Maisie watches the princess run off and nobody seems to know who she is. And the Federal Marshal who was first on the scene has disappeared, too. ??

As Maisie follows the twists and turns of this not-so-funhouse, she hits one dead end after another—until she discovers that the person she should have been chasing has really been chasing her all along.?

Steele on a Roll by Chris LordSteele on a Roll by Chris Lord:

Death can come on the next roll for Ashley Steele, when you gamble searching for a killer!

Ashley Steele’s compassion causes him to land his plane The Good Fortune to save some refugees in the waters off of Cuba. The rescue gives him a friend he couldn’t have guessed in his quest to save Ella. Everyone you meet could be a friend, and every friend has connections. Some good. Some bad.

Captain Juan Diaz of the Cuban Naval Intelligence seems to be someone who becomes a friend to Ashley in his hunt for the ex-husband of the woman, Ella Fair, the only woman he loves” Ella’s ex-husband, Roderic Wright, and her brother, Donovan Walker work with the terrorists the S.I.A. and are the only two things standing between him and the safety of Ella.

Using the resources of his plane The Good Fortune, and the antiquated ship of Captain Diaz, The Cuban Queen, Ashley has a chance to catch Roderic Wright, a slim chance of getting out of Cuba alive, and an even slimmer chance of seeing Ella again.

Penguins and Mortal Peril by Ruby LorenPenguins and Mortal Peril by Ruby Loren:

When the penguin keeper is found dead at the bottom of the penguin pool, zookeeper Madigan Amos is determined to find out what happened to him… even if it means apprehending armed intruders, getting caught in the middle of a terrorist attack, and sparring with a machete wielding murderer.

The police struggle to conclude whether or not the death was accidental, but it’s not the only recent, unexplained happening at Avery Zoo. Since the tragic, avoidable death of a serval, animal rights activists have plagued the zoo. Activists with a reputation for extremism. Do they have something to do with the penguin keeper’s demise?

Madi also has her suspicions about two new zoo employees, but what exactly do they have to do with the goings on? Are they activist spies, or do they have their own scores to settle?

By the time Madi figures out things are not as they seem, she’s already in too deep. Someone has a hidden agenda, and they’re willing to kill to keep it a secret.

The Rushing Noise of Death by Gretchen Mullen and Phyllis JobeThe Rushing Noise of Death by Gretchen Mullen and Phyllis Jobe:

“It was almost midnight on New Year’s Eve. Martha Leland poured herself a drink, her labors worthy of celebration. She stood before the mirror and toasted her reflection. The clock began to strike and the big fireworks on the bridge behind her reflected their lurid blossoms in the glass. The great booms began and when the bullet struck dead center at the back of her skull, she might have seen the blinding splintered light of the finale, she might have heard the great white rushing noise of death.”

On New Year’s Day, Oklahoma Detective Hiram Flagg is called in to the Bliss County Court House by the newly installed Chief of Police. Initially, Flagg feels that he must, for the first time in his career, ask to be relieved from a case. He and Martha Leland have crossed paths before. Ultimately, however, he knows he must see this case through to the end.

Suspects begin to emerge from Martha Leland’s immediate family and close circle of friends: the daughter, Anna Leland, and alcoholic undergoing psychiatric analysis with a secret wish for revenge; the son, Walker Leland, hungry for easy money and running with the wrong crowd; the ex-husband, Jack Leland, and his new young wife Margo, bitter after the messy divorce and quick remarriage; Martha’s sister, Shirley, and her husband Jim Boyd, harboring a painful secret; portrait artist Gordon Grimes, motivated by greed and a desire to elevate his standing among the wealthy matrons of the town; and gigolo Jeff Sinclair, friend to Martha’s son Walker, claiming to be Martha’s most recent “love” interest.

With the discovery of a second body, the pace quickens and subplots converge during the lakeside memorial service of Martha Leland, when all suspects are present the identity of the murderer is revealed through the attempted murder of yet another victim and a surprise twist at the end.

Murder at the Museum by Melanie MyersMurder at the Museum by Melanie Myers:

She’s used to dealing with ancient bones, not fresh corpses…

In sleepy Chowan Cove, a seaside town in Maine, an exciting day for local museum curator Maree Lilley is one where her favourite cafe owner makes fresh cinnamon buns.

So when she finds her boss’ body in her office, less than an hour after arguing with him, Maree knows it’s not going to be just any normal day. Trained as an archaeologist, Maree has always been about unravelling puzzles, especially when it turns out she’s the main suspect in her boss’ murder.

With her best friend Abby’s help, Maree sets out to solve the case and clear her name, despite the local police chief being less-than-enthusiastic about Maree’s involvement.

But as she delves deeper into the investigation, Maree finds herself in the murderer’s crosshairs. Will she be able to solve the case before she becomes the next victim?

Murder at the Museum is the first book in the Museum Murders series. A light cozy mystery with a dog-loving amateur sleuth, her quirky artist best friend and a small-town setting.

False Signs by Travis StarnesFalse Signs by Travis Starnes

Retired Special Forces Sergeant John Taylor is hiding from the world. Still dealing with his captivity by terrorists and a near fatal collaboration with Federal law enforcement, Taylor has sworn off any future heroics. A call from a friend inside the FBI and the pleas of a desperate mother force Taylor to change his mind and end his self-imposed exile.

A National Guard armory has been destroyed in west Texas, and all eyes have turned to a possible terrorist attack by a missing corporal. The agents in charge of the investigation refuse to listen to claims of innocence by the soldier’s mother, forcing her to turn to Taylor and hope his first-hand experience with terrorists and past success with the Bureau can help clear her son’s name.

Granted access to the case but saddled with a beautiful yet stern Bureau baby-sitter, Taylor runs head first into the FBI’s refusal to look beyond their preferred theory of the crime. As he digs up clues of a frame-up and hints of a much more sinister motive behind the explosion, Taylor races to stop a dark conspiracy hiding in small-town America.

Murder in Crimson Velvet by Karen Sue WalkerMurder in Crimson Velvet by Karen Sue Walker

What’s worse than an actress who’s a diva? A dead one!

Max Walters, a talented bridal consultant, is called upon to help with the costumes for Romeo and Juliet just days before opening night. When an actress confesses that a psychic told her she would be murdered, Max doesn’t take her seriously until the actress ends up dead. Is it a tragic accident as everyone is meant to believe, or is it really murder? With her friend and assistant Keiko, Max searches for the truth. Will she find it? Or will a murderer go free?

 

Icy Stares by Cyrus WintersIcy Stares by Cyrus Winters:

Twenty years ago when she was just a young girl, a man abducted Nadine Shields for twelve hours and has been in her nightmares ever since. In spite of her childhood trauma, Nadine forged ahead bravely and left the past behind, establishing herself as a crime solving specialist within her state’s city precinct.

But tonight Nadine’s inner strength will be tested in ways it never has before. The monster who abducted her all those years ago has inexplicably reached out, wanting to draw her back into his sick world of terrifying mind games and abuse.

With the lives of innocents threatened and time running out to save them, Nadine must work with her colleagues to solve the one crime she never wanted to face – the crime that had been committed against herself.

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New Helen Shepherd Mystery Available: Parlour Game

Blogging has been very light this month, since I’m currently trying for a repeat of the July Short Story Challenge, where the aim is to write a story per day in July (for previous editions, see here and here). I just finished story number 16 and I’m really happy with what I have written so far.

In other news, I am currently participating in a Christmas in July promo, where you can get lots of Christmas books for 99 cents. And if you want more cheap books, Smashwords is currently holding its annual summer sale, where you can find lots of e-books at a reduced price, including several of mine.

What is more, I also have a new release to announce. That is, it’s no longer quite so new, but I was so busy with translation work and Hugo voting and the July Short Story Challenge that I didn’t get around to announcing this new release so far.

The new release is another Helen Shepherd Mystery, the 11th in the series by now. Though it’s not necessary to read the previous ten, cause they all stand alone.

This Helen Shepherd Mystery is entitled Parlour Game and it’s basically my version of the classic country house mystery. Helen and her team (plus DCI Simon Westmoreland from Counter Terrorism Command who is dating Helen) are called to investigate a mysterious death in a manor house (and yes, there are manor houses to be found in Greater London, though Honeydew House is fictional) and find themselves faced with a library full of suspects.

When writing Parlour Game, I finally understood just why classic mystery authors like assembling all suspects in a single place so much. Because when you gather all suspects in a single place, they inevitably start to accuse each other. All the detective has to do is listen and watch. Coincidentally, the scene was also a whole lot of fun to write, because the characters did all the work.

So if you’re in the mood for a modern take (did I mention that there are references to Star Wars and Midsomer Murders among other things?) on the classic country house mystery, check out Parlour Game:

Parlour Game
Parlour Game by Cora BuhlertWhen Edgar Asheford-Browne is found dead in his palatial home, with a hole in his head and a bloody fire poker next to his body, the cause of death seems obvious. Edgar Asheford-Browne was beaten to death.

But as Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team begin to unravel the case, it suddenly seems much less clear. For Helen has to deal not only with contradictory evidence, but also with an entire library full of suspects who are all accusing each other.

 

 

 

More information.
Length: 10800 words
List price: 2.99 USD, EUR or 1.99 GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

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Our Six Year Anniversary

July 3 marks Pegasus Pulp’s six year anniversary, so it’s time for another overview post. In those six years, our catalogue has grown to 109 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 and 2016 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. 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 2017

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 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 urban fantasy, epic fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction, space opera, military science fiction, paranormal romance, horror, anthologies, non-fiction, dragons, elves, quests, Russian witches, magical princesses, space marines, officers, galactic empires, planetstriders, intergalactic prison breaks, killer virusses, repentant pickpockets 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:

Into the North by Annie BelletInto the North by Annie Bellet:

The mute elven archer known only as Killer. Azyrin, a half Winter-orc shaman and his human swordswoman bride, Makha. Drake, the charming, swashbuckling rogue. The fireball-slinging pixie-goblin, Rahiel, and her mini-unicorn, Bill. These are the Gryphonpike Companions.

Taking on their most dangerous quest yet, Killer fears she won’t survive to break her curse. Tasked with finding the source behind a magical winter without end far to the north on the isolated island of Imaldor, Killer and her companions sail north. There they must face off against the elements and an unknown foe to end the deadly winter before it ends them and all hope Killer has of ever going home.

This is the final adventure fantasy novella in the Gryphonpike Chronicles series.

Orphans in the BlackOrphans in the Black: A Space Opera Anthology by Lindsay Buroker, Amy J. Murphy and others

We’re all Orphans in the Black …

Strap yourself in for nineteen thrilling short stories of space pirates, time travelers, aliens, AI, and more! Meet determined heroes forging their own path through the universe, men and women who won’t go down without a fight.

Be transported to nineteen fantastical new worlds by award winning and bestselling authors. Download this exclusive collection today.

 

Foreshadow by Cynthia Joyce ClayForeshadow by Cynthia Joyce Clay:

“I am Princess Royal Burta, and I call out your challenger!”

In a time when dragons and gods seduce mortals, greedy kings plot to overthrow the tiny, impoverished kingdom of Allsongs, tempted by the promise of its future. It is said the hope and best defense of Allsongs lies in the person of a small child, Tristabé-airta, the Princess Royal, whose magic always works. Yet, it is the king and sword souled dragon born children whom the enemy kings fear will usurp their kingdoms. An assassin is sent to kill them. One of these children is surely a threat, Princess Burta who trains in arms for the day she can snatch the Allsongs kingdom from Tristabé-airta. While Tristabé-airta knows Burta hates her, Tristabe-airta must do what she can to save her or Allsongs will fall when they come of age.

Press the Line by Chris FoxPress the Line by Chris Fox:

Imperalis has been lost. The Nameless Ones have returned. The Coalition refuses to fight, leaving the Ganog to wage a war they cannot win.

Betrayed and cut off, Khar and Zakanna struggle to survive. Nolan and Burke bring Alpha Company to reinforce the Nyar home world, only to be overwhelmed by the mighty Void Wraith Omegas. Fizgig and Takkar are captured by the sadistic Kthul fleet leader, Azatok.

Only one guttering flame of hope remains. On Nyar, Nolan finds an ancient Void Wraith Omega, weathered and damaged. If he can restore it, they might just have a weapon strong enough to fight back.

Chameleon's Challenge by B.R. KingsolverChameleon’s Challenge by B.R. Kingsolver:

Libby’s chameleon mutation has led to a lucrative career as a thief and assassin. She normally doesn’t worry about the comfort of corporate executives, but when she stumbles onto the grisly murder of a rich man’s mistress, it gets her attention.

The murder leads Libby to believe her best friend’s life is in danger, and she vows to protect her. The killings continue, some in broad daylight, but no one ever sees the killer.

For a chameleon assassin, the scenario feels uncomfortably familiar.

Cut Down to Size by Eugene Kirk and Garan MadCut Down to Size by Eugene Kirk and Garan Mad:

Someone is killing people in the name of profit . . . and it’s up to Tina and Doc to stop them.

A year into their contract with Imperial East Africa, Tina and Doc have gained some measure of notoriety. But when they’re sent into IEA Madagascar with only sketchy intel, they find themselves defending more than just their professional reputation.

Outmanned and outgunned, their only chance for survival is to call a shaky truce based upon an even shakier mercenary code of honor. But when a compromise can’t be reached, the future of both their company and their client hangs in the balance. Pushed to the edge, Tina doubles down with a risky business move that could either see them raking in millions or winding up dead broke, if not just plain dead.

With the stakes higher than ever, just how far will Tina go to win? Will she pull it off at the risk of compromising everything she believes in?

Or will she be the one finally cut down to size . . .

Through the Abyssal Gates by Brian J.W. LeeThrough the Abyssal Gates by Brian J.W. Lee:

From the author of The Keeper of Pulau Purba, sixteen new dimensions of horror emerges.

You stand before a series of dark portals, each of which will take you to a reality worse than the next.

Step into the shoes of a modern day technician, who discovers a strange hatch in a rarely-used and secluded toilet.

Cower with a teenager who’s all grown up, as a strange new neighbour moves in next to him, bringing along strange barrels of vinegar and mannerisms.

Join a woman and her boyfriend as they run an ultra-marathon, only to discover that something has been pursuing them.

Wake up to find yourself on an island city as overpopulated as it is futuristic, where a waitress clings on to her traditions even as everything is grasping to take it away.

Or enter a world rife with ancient artifacts and deadly creatures, where a young man must risk all to save his father.

Many more worlds await, and once you enter the abyssal gate, there is no turning back.

In a collection of eight short stories and eight flash fictions amounting to 120,000 words, there’s always a little something for everyone beyond the threshold.

Oh, and watch your head.

The Goddess's Choice by Jamie MarchantThe Goddess’s Choice by Jamie Marchant:

In a world where the corrupt church hides the truth about magic, the fate of the joined kingdom falls on the shoulders of two young people from opposite ends of the social hierarchy.

Crown Princess Samantha’s life begins to fall apart when she starts seeing strange colors around her potential suitors. She fears that she’s going insane–or worse that she’s defying the Goddess’s will. Robrek is a lowly farm boy with incredible magical powers. He has been biding his time waiting to get revenge on those who call him a demon.

Thrown together by chance, they must overcome their differences to fight their common enemy Duke Argblutal, who, with dark magic, is slowly poisoning the king’s mind and turning him against his own daughter. Time is running out for those chosen by the Goddess to prevent the power mad duke from usurping the throne and plunging the joined kingdoms into civil war.

Breakout by Dominique MondesirBreakout by Dominique Mondesir:

He has one shot–to get out, to save himself, and to protect his family.

Looking for a major payoff, Phoenix Jones will do anything to save the people he cares about. With his brother and sister suffering in a hospital, he needs money–and fast. But when his temper lands him in prison light years from home, everything changes.

Now all he’s ever known and loved is on the line. It’s up to Phoenix to break out of jail and battle vicious aliens he never knew existed. But can he save the only place he’s ever called home before it’s too late?

Shade of Honor by T.S. Paul and Taki DrakeShade of Honor by T.S. Paul and Taki Drake:

Bereft of their elders in magic, hired out to strangers to feed their families. Survival was a constant battle for the Russian Witches. Despised by other witches for their rigid focus on contracts, they were without a moral compass, honorless. That was not good enough for some. For the young witch, Zhanna, life was not worth living without honor – or her magic. Could she find both in her homeland? Would her desire and drive be enough to locate her shade of honor?

 

 

Coins for Charon by P.J. PostCoins for Charon by P.J. Post:

The people of Freemont have always fought for their own, and the end of the world hasn’t changed a thing. They opened up the armory, fueled the World War II trucks and even got the old generators working. They turned on the lights. For the survivors of the War, Freemont is a beacon of hope.

Five days ago Lane went searching for the missing kids, and now he’s brought them here, to the rendezvous, to Freemont, only to find Cart People, Crayton Mercenaries and thousands of townsfolk fighting through the streets and neighborhoods, for their city and for the lives of the millions of refugees that have found salvation.

Sam’s down there, somewhere.

And so is the Button Eye plague.

Retribution by Guy RiessenRetribution by Guy Riessen:

Brian Lockewood grew up knowing the pain of abuse and loss, but his own turn toward hatred and violence will teach him that retribution is a dish best served cold…and wet…and filled with rats.

A Dark Psychological Supernatural Horror Novelette

 

 

 

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

Being an officer means balancing many conflicting demands. Making the wrong decision can have serious consequences. It takes a special kind of person to cope with the responsibility.

The Officer 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.

 

 

Lock by Hollis ShilohLOCK by Hollis Shiloh:

Drew leads an ordinary, boring life—until one day the ESRB assigns him a bodyguard because he’s in danger. They don’t know why, only that he is.

It’s the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to Drew. Naturally, he develops a massive crush on his bodyguard, Neal, as the two try to figure out why he’s in danger and what it has to do with the ESRB.

When Drew turns out to have an unexpected—and rare—talent, things take a turn for the worse. Because Neal might not be enough to keep him safe after all.

 

Syndicate Wars: First StrikeSyndicate Wars: First Strike by Justin Sloan, Kyle Noe and George S. Mahaffey Jr.

With an alien invasion and survival of the human race at stake, service in the Marines was no longer simply about honor and duty, it was a matter of life and death.

This was especially true for Quinn, a Marine sergeant who was hell-bent on ensuring that her young daughter had a world to grow up in. But one thing separates Quinn from the others:

She’s a certifiable badass.

And as the aliens will learn, it’s tough to keep a good woman down.

The Job: A Darklight Chronicle by Greg L. Turnquist:

What if a pickpocket had a change of heart?

Snitch and her partner in crime decide to knock over a pawn shop. But something goes wrong. What should she do next?

 

 

 

Rocket Surgeon by A.E. WilliamsRocket Surgeon by A.E. Williams:

A.E. Williams presents his thoughts on a variety of subjects of interest to thinking persons.

Bringing together a lifetime of experience as a science fiction author, former aerospace materials engineer, cyber-security expert and irascible genius, Williams provides big picture views on our place in the Universe.

Based on a series of blog articles written for the “Speculative Fiction Showcase” and including material reviewed while performing research for his series “Terminal Reset”, Williams explores and questions some of the most basic precepts of science and physics.

The recent popularization of physics in television and movies has opened up this field to the ordinary lay person.

In these articles, Mr. Williams looks at why we, as a species, crave to leave the Mother planet, and venture out into the hostile territories of uncharted space.

Williams explains, with his own unique and perceptive worldview, just how the Space Race, once the core being of America’s science programs, has defined the processes and bureaucracy of space exploration today.

Williams provides a narrative of his own experiences, working on high-tech and cutting edge programs that led to the technological marvels we take for granted today.

From jet engines to smart phones, from “Star Trek” to “Interstellar”, Williams helps readers to understand just how much the world has been impacted science and technology.

Is a Mission to Mars or other form of manned space flight our future?

Can we afford to spend our resources on these efforts, at the expense of other critical problems facing us today?

Follow Williams down the Rabbit Hole, as he looks at Fake News, the Presidential Election, AGW and other contentious events in our world, and body-slams them using logic and the Scientific Method!

A.E. Williams makes a compelling argument that manned space exploration is not just viable, but necessary to the survival of the species.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for June 2017

Welcome to the second 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, historical mysteries, small town mysteries, police procedurals, legal thrillers, crime thrillers, murder in small towns and country houses, skeletons in the closet, unpredictable events, bartering angels, Steele strangers, remorseful pickpockets, crime-solving dogs, lawyers, the Russian mob, adventures in 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 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:

Kicked the Bucket in Grady by Kate BellKicked the Bucket in Grady by Kate Bell:

Grady, Arizona is home to the desert heat and murder. Gracie Williams’ friend, Frannie has been murdered and she’s determined to find the killer. Her snooping enrages the killer and she stands to lose all she holds dear. With help from her faithful canine Sophie and her friends, Aggie and Bernie, can she find the killer before the killer finds her?

 

 

 

Parlour Game by Cora BuhlertParlour Game by Cora Buhlert

When Edgar Asheford-Browne is found dead in his palatial home, with a hole in his head and a bloody fire poker next to his body, the cause of death seems obvious. Edgar Asheford-Browne was beaten to death.

But as Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team begin to unravel the case, it suddenly seems much less clear. For Helen has to deal not only with contradictory evidence, but also with an entire library full of suspects who are all accusing each other.

This is a mystery novelette of 10800 words or approximately 38 print pages.

On the Side of the Angel by J. David CoreOn the Side of the Angel: A Bartering Angel Story by J. David Core:

Lina Forman has an assumed name, a vendetta, a résumé of varied skills, and the knowledge to make her a force to fear.

Known in the criminal underground as The Bartering Angel, a mysterious “fixer” whose help keeps the bad guys out of trouble, she assumes the name Lina when she arrives in the Pittsburgh area in 2005. When the son of a local drug runner murders a convenience store clerk during a botched thrill robbery, Lina must keep him out of jail to prove her worth to the local criminal underground. Despite her elaborate scheme to confound the evidence and mislead authorities, two local cops threaten to disrupt her plans and steer the FBI on a path to avoid her red herrings.

Can Lina preserve her reputation and make good on her promises before she has to abandon her vengeance, change her name, and start again? Or will a careless oversight expose her secrets?

Winter Downs by Jan EdwardsWinter Downs by Jan Edwards:

Bunch Courtney stumbles upon the body of Jonathan Frampton in a woodland clearing. Is this a case of suicide, or is it murder? Bunch is determined to discover the truth but can she persuade the dour Chief Inspector Wright to take her seriously?

In January of 1940 a small rural community on the Sussex Downs, already preparing for invasion from across the Channel, finds itself deep in the grip of a snowy landscape, with an ice-cold killer on the loose.

 

 

Traffic by Richard C. HaleTraffic by Richard C. Hale:

Family is everything.
Would you kill to protect it?

When Jaxon Jennings witnesses a woman attack a man and kill him, his only thought is to apprehend the woman and bring her to justice. But when he discovers the mysterious and deadly woman, Adi Jordan, is on a mission to save her kidnapped daughter, he can only imagine doing one thing.

He must help her.

In a race against the clock and insurmountable odds, Jaxon joins forces with Adi in a desperate battle with the Russian mob to track down her daughter and get her back before the trail grows cold and Adi’s daughter is lost to the world of human trafficking.

Adi’s dark and mysterious past only adds to the pressure as her brutal and ruthless tactics bring Jaxon to a place he’s never been before. But will her actions destroy any chance they have of finding her daughter and surviving? Jaxon must walk a thin line between what is right and wrong. Will it be enough?

From the first sentence of his latest Jaxon Jennings Thriller, Traffic, author Richard C Hale piles on the suspense and kicks it into high gear. A pulse-pounding, thrill ride that pulls you in and never lets up, Traffic will keep you on the edge until the surprising end.

Steele Stranger by Chris LordSteele Stranger by Chris Lord

Cassie Steele didn’t recognize the man who came home, she was expecting her husband.

Seven years has passed since her husband had left to work in the Middle East post 9-11, and six years since the last letter. But she’s told he’s still alive and coming home.

Just before he could be declared dead she got the news. Ashley was coming home!

The news of Ashley returning caused her hands to shake and to remember how he chose duty over love. When she sees him at the airport it’s his face, his body, but not his soul. She’s on her own–to everyone else he’s the same old Ashley.

Cause not everyone who returns is the same person and Casie she has to find out if this is her Ashley Steele. Or a Steele Stranger.

Steele Tempted by Chris LordSteele Tempted by Chris Lord

Ashley’s searching for An elusive beauty in a deadly paradise!

Ashley Steele’s guilty drinking catches up with him in a bar with a beautiful woman who rescues him from a man with no neck. This chance encounter gives him a reason to climb out of the shallow end of a bottle with the vision of rebuilding his life with her.

Working to get her a job as the only stewardess of the flying yacht, The Good Fortune, little does he know the strings that are attached to the woman will pull him into a family of drugs, white slavery, and terrorism.

Only after he’s let his heart fall for her does he realize that this elusive beauty he’s been searching is connected in a web of crime… a web that is deadly for any who get’s caught in the deadly paradise of the waters of St. Croix, in this Ashley Steele Caribbean action adventure thriller.

Unpredictable Events by Cecilia PeartreeUnpredictable Events by Cecilia Peartree:

This is the 13th book in the Pitkirtly Mystery series, set in a fictitious small town on the Fife coast in Scotland. Not a million miles from Culross, and yet rather different from it.

Christopher finds that going away on holiday is a lot more trouble than it’s worth, while a wedding in the Cultural Centre isn’t without its problems. Amaryllis tries to keep a low profile as she teases out secrets from the tangled threads of everyday life, and Christopher’s sister Caroline allows obsession to lead her into danger.

 

 

Injustice For All by Rachel SinclairInjustice For All by Rachel Sinclair:

Harper must deal with two high-profile death cases. One involves her beloved friend, Stephen. The other involves an underprivileged black youth accused of murdering an undercover cop.

Harper is assigned another high-profile case, as 18-year-old Darnell Williams is accused of killing a Kansas City Police Officer. At first, this seems like just another dead dog case that Harper wouldend up pleading out. But as she gets deeper into the specifics of the case, she realizes that she has stumbled into something much, much bigger. She ends up being warned to back off, or face disciplinary charges of her own. But the more she is brushed back, the more intrigued she becomes. She becomes convinced that a true injustice is being perpetrated on her client and she must fight the system to prove his innocence.

With the fast-pace that you’ve come to expect with a Harper Ross LegalThriller, Injustice for All is a book that is not to be missed!

Murder at Hartigan House by Lee StraussMurder at Hartigan House by Lee Strauss:

There’s a skeleton in the attic!

After a weeklong passage over the Atlantic from Boston to Liverpool, Ginger Gold arrives at her childhood London home–Hartigan House–to find decade-old remains from some poor woman on the floor in the attic. Ginger’s Boston terrier, Boss, noses out a missing phalange from under the bed.

It’s a mystery that once again puts Ginger alongside the handsome Chief Inspector Basil Reed. Who is the victim? And how did she end up in Ginger’s home?

Clues lead Ginger and her good friend Haley Higgins to a soirée hosted in 1913 by Ginger’s late father, George Hartigan. A shadow of suspicion is cast on her father’s legacy, and Ginger isn’t so sure she wants to know the truth about the man she dearly loved.

Ginger decides to host another soirée, inviting the guest list from ten years previous. Before the night is over, another person is dead.

The Job: A Darklight Chronicle by Greg L. Turnquist:

What if a pickpocket had a change of heart?

Snitch and her partner in crime decide to knock over a pawn shop. But something goes wrong. What should she do next?

 

 

 

The Flapper Caper by Victoria L.K. WilliamsThe Flapper Caper by Victoria L.K. Williams

Old Cars, Old Costumes, and an Old reason for Murder…
Megan and Aiden, along with Barney, are back to solving murders, and this one makes friends out of foes.
New characters arrive at Citrus Beach to help solve the mystery, working along with the town’s sleuths. While Megan has her hands full with one zany writer, Aiden, tries to keep the new lawman on the right path.
But its Barney that saves the day again— with the help of his sidekick-Gypsy and a pair of feathered watchmen.

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New Helen Shepherd Mystery available: Kitchen Witch

If you took a look at the brand-new Indie Crime Fiction of the Month round-up I posted two days ago, you might have noticed that one of the new releases listed was a new Helen Shepherd Mystery. So here is the official new release announcement for Kitchen Witch, the tenth Helen Shepherd Mystery to date (and there are at least two more coming up).

The inspiration for this particular Helen Shepherd Mystery was culinary. For you see, I’m very fond of wild garlic a.k.a. ramsons a.k.a. wood garlic a.k.a. bear garlic, a tasty and healthy leafy herb. Wild garlic is only available for a few weeks in April and early May, so I have it as often as possible when it’s in season. My favourite way of preparing it is lightly sauteeing the leaves in olive oil, tossing them with garlic, tomatoes, olives and red pepper flakes and serving it with pasta. Here’s a pic I took last time I had wild garlic spaghetti.

I buy my wild garlic at the supermarket, but quite a few people forage their own. And so, during wild garlic season, I came across an article that warned of the dangers of mistaking the leaves of autumn crocus or lily of the valley, both of which are highly poisonous, for edible wild garlic. This got my mystery writer’s mind working and wondering what if someone deliberately switched harmless wild garlic leaves for poisonous autumn crocus?

Now there are few things that get a mystery writer’s mind going faster than a good murder method. And so I came up with the story of Eudora Pembroke, herbalist, eccentric and self-styled witch, who ends up dead in her favourite armchair, after eating a wild garlic salad that contains a lethal dose of autumn crocus leaves.

As always, Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team question several witnesses and potential suspects. One of these witnesses/suspects is Tara Willows, owner of a New Age shop. I enjoyed writing Tara a whole lot, so much that I decided to keep her around and give her her own spin-off.

I’m not a “write to market” person at all, but I am interested in genres and subgenres and how they are defined. Now I’ve explained before that the definition of crime and mystery fiction is quite different in Germany and the US and that the definition of “mystery” in the US is much narrower than the definition of “Krimi” a.k.a. “crime fiction” in Germany. As a result, most of the crime shorts collected in Murder in the Family and elsewhere (Murder in the Family, Volume 2 is coming soon BTW) are Krimis, but they’re not mysteries in the US sense. But unfortunately, the crime fiction category at Amazon is something of a wasteland – mystery is where the readers and the sales are. So I tried to write a crime story that would fit into the narrower US definition of mystery and so the Helen Shepherd Mysteries were born.

Now one of the most popular mystery subgenres are cozy mysteries featuring an amateur sleuth, usually a woman, solving mysteries, often using specialist knowledge about cooking, baking, crafts, etc… Cozy mysteries are not easy to come by here in Germany – the crime fiction sections in bookstores are dominated by thrillers and suspense – though I enjoyed the atmosphere and quirky characters of those that I’ve read. I also considered writing one, provided the right protagonist came along. When Helen and DC Walker walked into Tara’s shop to question her, I realised at once that Tara was the amateur sleuth protagonist I’d been waiting for. So look out for the first Tara Willows Mystery soon.

But for now, here is Kitchen Witch, the latest Helen Shepherd Mystery:

Kitchen Witch
Kitchen Witch by Cora BuhlertWhen Eudora Pembroke, a self-styled witch, is found dead in her house after ingesting a poisonous plant, everybody suspects a tragic accident. After all, Eudora was elderly and might have mistaken the poisonous plant for a benign herb.

But Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd is sceptical. Would a skilled herbalist like Eudora Pembroke really make such a beginner’s mistake? And who might have had a motive to poison her?

 

 

More information.
Length: 12500 words
List price: 2.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for May 2017

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 April 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 urban fantasy, epic fantasy, historical fantasy, Arthurian fantasy, Asian fantasy, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, Cyberpunk, space opera, military science fiction, near future science fiction, science fiction romance, fantasy romance, gothic romance, paranormal romance, paranormal mystery, horror, young adult science fiction and fantasy, dragons, vampires, witches, magicians, shamans, mercenaries, superheroes, star dogs, werewolves in space, galactic empires, planetstriders, intergalactic plagues, time travel, telepathic space pirates, killer clones, jackalope wives, kidnapped fae, King Arthur reincarnated 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:

Blue Gold by David BarkerBlue Gold by David Barker:

The near future. Climate change and geopolitical tension have given rise to a new international threat – a world war for water. This most vital of resources has become a precious commodity and some will stop at nothing to control its flow.

When a satellite disappears over Iceland, Sim Atkins thinks he knows why. He is given the chance to join the hallowed Overseas Division and hunt for the terrorists responsible. But his new partner Freda Brightwell is aggrieved to be stuck with a rookie on such a deadly mission.

Freda’s misgivings are well founded when their first assignment ends in disaster – a bomb destroys a valuable airship and those responsible evade capture. Seeking redemption, the British agents follow the trail to a billionaires’ tax haven in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and uncover a web of deceit that threatens global war. Whom can they trust?

As the world edges ever closer to destruction Sim and Freda must put their lives on the line to prevent Armageddon – and protect the future of ‘blue gold’.

Magic Waking by Eva ChaseMagic Waking by Eva Chase:

Die, reincarnate, repeat. It’s been a long fifteen hundred years…

Reborn wizard Emma Hale has three goals in life, or rather lives: Track down the present incarnation of the legendary King Arthur, fend off the shadow creatures that hound him for as long as she can, and break the spell that binds their souls in this morbid cycle.

If only she had a better idea how she’d cast that spell in the first place. And if only Arthur’s current host wasn’t so cocky yet distractingly good-looking. Because Emma is falling even harder for the man she can’t have.

When a fae mercenary with power to rival Emma’s puts her king in his sights, Emma burns through all her tricks just to stay one step ahead. Now her only chance is to find some way to destroy the mercenary before he and his army of dark forces destroy Arthur.

No human Emma’s ever known has managed to kill a fae. But if she can’t, and quickly, this death might be their last.

Looking for a story full of sarcastic wizardry, cruel fae, and a star-crossed love centuries in the making? Scroll up and grab this Arthurian-flavored urban fantasy today!

Starfang by Joyce ChngStarfang: Rise of the Clan by Joyce Chng:

Is a clan captain going to sacrifice everything for her clan? Tasked to kill Yeung Leung by her parents, powerful rival clan leader of the Amber Eyes, Captain Francesca Min Yue sets out across the galaxy to hunt her prey, only to be thrown into a web of political intrigue spreading across the stars. Is Yeung Leung collaborating with the reptilian shishini and playing a bigger game with the galaxy as a price? Is Francesca’s clan at stake? Welcome to Starfang: Rise of the Clan, where merchants and starship captains are also wolves.

“Wolves should not be in space, but here we were, a clan of wolves and merchants. Instead of the preserved forests of New Earth and Noah’s Ark, we were in ships of steel and armor, reading data scans and commanding officers on the bridge. Wolves within the uniform of merchants and mercenaries, human seeming, claws and teeth sheathed.”

– Captain Francesca Ming Yue, of the warship Starfang.

Welcome to Starfang, a space opera with werewolves, politics and intrigue.

Human by Karen DiemHuman by Karen Diem:

Death? Acceptable risk. Taxes? No problem. Ancient magical cutlery of mass destruction? Bad, very bad.
Following a brief foray into the world of superpowered vigilantism, extreme sports enthusiast and halfhearted tax preparer, Zita Garcia, wants her old life, her shiny new abilities, and none of the consequences. She’s even willing to hide her powers since the alternative means endangering her family and living life as a literal lab rat.
Unfortunately, supervillains are searching for the pieces of a decrepit magic dagger, hurting innocents and fueling nasty anti-super protests. Her close friends, who helped before, are barely speaking to her, and one of them stands in the path of the violent hunt for the knife.
Zita better dig out her mask—fast.
Human is the second in the Arca superhero urban fantasy series, and as a movie would be rated “R” for immoderate language, lame sexual innuendo, and comic book violence. While Human can be read as a standalone, it contains spoilers for the first book in the series.

Retrograde Horizon by Charon DunnRetrograde Horizon by Charon Dunn:

A fast-paced epic science fiction adventure set in 3748 on an earth with a very different climate, not to mention configuration, chemistry and composition. For Young Adults and Old Children.

TRIGGER WARNING: contains potentially upsetting material about explosions, terrorists attacking schools, malfunctioning robots, school bullies, mean principals that assign a bunch of extra homework, paparazzi, poverty, affluenza, bad neighborhoods, public transit, precipitous drops in socioeconomic status, police drones, police, clandestine lizard fights, exploding roller coasters, unicorn attack, industrial steam calender malfunction, pissed-off chef with a deep fryer … I’d better stop, I’m starting to get into spoilers and I’m barely into the second chapter.

In volume one, Sonny made his way home. Now he’s in volume two, and those pesky clones are still trying to kill him – or worse. Meanwhile, his family is still trapped in a comfortable suburban development on the clones’ super secret mist-shrounded volcanic island somewhere in the South Pacific. It’s starting to look like he’s going to have to go get them, if he can get past the assassination attempts, and avoid getting distracted by true love.

Toric's Dagger by Jamie EdmundsonToric’s Dagger by Jamie Edmundson:

Toric’s Dagger is just another religious relic, until it’s stolen. Belwynn and her twin brother, Soren, volunteer to lead a team tasked with its retrieval. Drawn into a world of danger and treachery, they must rely on Soren’s magical abilities, and on the telepathic bond they share.

Now, as kingdoms and empires start to fall, the twins confront the dark forces that threaten them. They must not let the Dagger fall into the wrong hands. But when mercenaries, zealots and sorcerers are all hunting for the same weapon, who should they trust?

Book One of The Weapon Takers Saga, an Epic Fantasy Series in the tradition of Tolkien, Tad Williams & GRR Martin

Behind the Lines by Chris Fox:Behind the Lines by Chris Fox:

A brand new adventure in the Void Wraith universe

Mechs, kaiju, epic space battles, and galactic archeology…

The Void Wraith ravaged our galaxy, nearly eradicating both humanity and our enemies, the Tigris. Captain Nolan vowed it would never happen again, that he would find the Void Wraith’s dark masters.

Nolan leads a company of mechs into uncharted space, where a new foe lies in wait. The Coalition’s fleet is destroyed, and Nolan’s squad is stranded behind enemy lines. Between them and escape stand three Planetstriders, thousand meter monstrosities capable of destroying an orbiting capital ship.

In order to survive, they must disable these titanic war machines, an impossible task made even more difficult by the discovery of a terrible secret – one that must reach fleet command, no matter the cost.

Fire Wall by Dana FraserFire Wall by Dana Fraser:

RESIST

The men in the bunkers have sent a hit squad to Cash Bishop’s Tennessee homestead. They want to take his woman—and his life.

RESIST

Hannah Carter just found out that she could be the key to bringing down Project Erebus if she can leave behind everyone she loves and infiltrate the Black Diamond facility.

If she tries, the only guarantee she has is that there will be blood.

RESIST

Cash won’t stand by while Hannah puts herself in danger. Even if he has to drag her complicit brother along by the balls and kill every damned soul inside Black Diamond, he will find and protect the woman he loves.

And bring down the corrupt government that ended America.

RESIST

Jess Rising by D.M GuayJess Rising by D.M. Guay:

Seventeen-year-old Jess Flowers sees the killer in visions. He slaughters the helpless with fire and lightning. And she’s next on the kill list.

Billy Combs is the gorgeous outcast with the electrifying secret. He’s stolen Jess’ heart, but his own past may be darker than he’s let on.

As the body count ticks higher, a growing pile of evidence links Billy to the crimes. Jess’ heart says no, but she’s the new kid in isolated Salt Creek, Ohio, a town with a life-changing secret, a town where people aren’t what they seem, a town where it’s hard to know who to trust.

Can she tame the mysterious powers surging within her and identify the real killer before it’s her turn to die?

Magic Reborn by Carly HansenMagic Reborn by Carly Hansen:

On the run and disguised as a boy, Fenix Graystone finds sanctuary when a witch opens her home, arms her with charmed knives, and transforms her into a fearsome fighter. But when an enigmatic vampire overlord arrives seeking help to solve the murders of three young women, Fenix’s newfound peace shatters.

 

 

 

Black Site by Michael Patrick HicksBlack Site by Michael Patrick Hicks:

Are you prepared to enter the BLACK SITE?

Inside an abandoned mining station, in the depths of space, a team of scientists are seeking to unravel the secrets of humanity’s origin. Using cutting-edge genetic cloning experiments, their discoveries take them down an unimaginable and frightening path as their latest creation proves to be far more than they had bargained for.

Perfect for fans of H.P. Lovecraft and Alien comes a new work of cosmic terror!

Black Site is a short story of approximately 10,000 words.

Sky Dancers by E.E. IsherwoodSky Dancers by E.E. Isherwood

Can discovering sunshine trigger the next apocalypse?

Elle is a typical doomsday bunker teenager, living under the crush of routine. She attends classes, tries to follow the rules, and endures the same petty jealousies and anxieties teens have endured since fire was used as the first hangout. But a crumbling section of tunnel exposes a big lie about her world, and Elle’s life quickly spirals downward.

She’s harassed by the enigmatic Commander. She must ward off unwanted advances from older male survivors. And, as the ultimate insult, everyone seems to know more about her past than she does. Elle seeks freedom in the plague-ravaged wasteland outside her home, but discovers the true threat to her people, and her own future, lies coiled inside the dark tunnels she left behind.

Can Elle uncover and expose the secrets buried with her underground home? Or will they fade away like the memories of everyone who thinks to oppose the Commander?

Sky Dancers is a dystopian read that will have you turning the pages! If you like mysterious wastelands, abandoned bunkers, and strong female leads, you will love the Eternal Apocalypse series!

Shadows of Our Fathers by Rex JamesonShadows of Our Fathers by Rex Jameson:

Imagine a war between angels and demons that extends across our universe. Now, think bigger. Imagine that the fight between Lucifer and Jehovah extends across not only our universe but also involves two more ancient universes filled with demons and the remnants of the proud elven race.

Angels and demons fall as the Great War between Order and Chaos comes to a close. For those who thought Jehovah’s days of smiting stopped in the Old Testament, it’s time to give the devil his due.

In the face of democratic and social reforms, the Chaos Universe struggles with its past while pursuing the future that King Lucifer promises. While the demons thrive, the creator of the Elven universe looks to his own past for the salvation of his favorite immortals. Jehovah’s wife Gaea and son Isaac seek asylum in Chaos as Lucifer and Jehovah have their final, apocalyptic battle.

“Shadows of Our Fathers” is the last book of the Lucifer’s Fall trilogy, and book three in the Primal Patterns series.

Contamination by Patty JansenContamination by Patty Jansen:

Jonathan Bartell is a young man, just out of university, when he signs up for the position of Quarantine Officer at the Orbital Launch Station.

He is part of a crop of students who flocked to study exo-biology when bacteria were discovered on Mars, and who are now all making their living flipping burgers, because the jobs are few and hard to get.

He is lucky to get a job in space, no matter how mundane.

Or so he thinks…

Gaby Larsen is a doctor at the tiny hospital at the space station, and she keeps secrets, not because she wants to keep them, but because she is too scared to share them.

Because out in space, your worst enemies are your fellow travellers.

Prelude to Insurrection by J.C. KangPrelude to Insurrection by J.C. Kang:

Only an orphan half-elf spy can avert a rebellion before it starts.

Jie’s superior senses have made her the perfect lookout. Now, as the adopted daughter of the Black Lotus Clanmaster, she wants to prove her pointed ears aren’t a liability when she’s tasked to infiltrate a rebel lord’s castle.

In this prequel to Songs of Insurrection, Jie must decide between her duty to the emperor and her sense of compassion toward the downtrodden. No matter her choice, it will have explosive consequences for her, the realm, and the upcoming war.

Jackalope Wives and other stories by T. KingfisherJackalope Wives and Other Stories by T. Kingfisher:

Winner of the Nebula and WSFA Short Fiction Awards

From award-winning author T. Kingfisher comes a collection of short stories, including “Jackalope Wives,” “The Tomato Thief,” “Pocosin,” and many others. By turns funny, lyrical, angry and beautiful, this anthology includes two all-new stories, “Origin Story” and “Let Pass The Horses Black,” appearing for the first time in print.

 

Once Giants by Eugene Kirk and Garan MadOnce Giants by Eugene Kirk and Garan Mad:

The future is a no-holds-barred free for all, but all in a day’s work…when you were Once Giants.

The year is 2189, and a wormhole leading to five habitable planets has been discovered, prompting a new global space race. Political undermining and sabotage abound, creating the perfect blend of chaos and opportunity for newly minted NETwork operator Tina Thompson to put her augmented, former pro-wrestler body to the test in the mercenary game.

But her celebrity past isn’t so easy to outrun. And when her infamy botches her latest job in Imperial East Africa, her actions trigger repercussions that affect former rival Shay Santiago as well.

As Tina and Shay both struggle to salvage their lives, a bigger threat looms. A mysterious gravitational anomaly has appeared, threatening to destroy the solar system itself. And Shay’s old high school flame may be the only person on Earth who can stop it.

Richly textured, interweaving narratives introduce new characters and bigger military sci-fi threats in this second installment of Once Giants, offering a thought-provoking look at how one person’s actions can affect the entire world.

The Metaverse by William KurthThe Metaverse: Virtual Life – Real Death by William Kurth:

An FBI Agent more comfortable hunting criminals the old fashioned way. A brilliant scientist who kills using Virtual Reality. And an Artificial Intelligence with an agenda of its own.

The Metaverse, more than the “internet of things,” is a place where humankind has devised a way to comfortably and seamlessly merge the biologic and the digital to the point that neither is readily distinguishable from the other. As people in ever greater numbers choose to live, work and play “In World,” so too do those who prey on their fellow man.

The Metaverse is a fast-paced Crime Thriller that takes place in the not too distant future with technology that even now is a part of our world.

A Dark Inheritance by Erme LanderA Dark Inheritance by Erme Lander

“I do not require your eternal love or devotion Ms Johnson, merely what is inside your veins.”

When Tina Johnson, single mother, forty, wakes up in an isolated castle in Central Europe she simply wants to return to her daughter as quickly as possible. She doesn’t expect to find that she has been kidnapped and brought into a world where power is the key to survival and sanity is an optional extra.
Tina discovers she has been watched for many years, she has a rare genetic structure that makes her attractive to vampires and has the possibility of living for well over a century, if she allows herself to become infected. Kalmár has stolen her and intends to keep her captive, hiding her from both her family and other vampires. She meets Wolfie, his bonded servant, unable to disobey the orders given by his master whether he wishes to or not. Normality becomes a frightening place as Tina struggles to escape those holding her and to fights to keep her daughter, her lover and her freedom.

Pirate Nemesis by Carysa LockePirate Nemesis by Carysa Locke:

Killers. Thieves. Pirates. Family.

Mercy Kincaid is a fugitive from her own family. Her dangerous telepathic gifts make her a target. So is anyone she gets close to. When her best friend is captured and tortured, Mercy’s only hope is to reunite with the family that tried to murder her as a child. She trusts few among her blood relatives, but finds herself intrigued by an enigmatic and dangerous killer.

Reaper has spent a lifetime watching his people die. He’s vowed to kill anyone who jeopardizes their survival. Mercy’s gifts are the biggest threat they’ve faced in eleven years, since a biological weapon nearly annihilated the pirate colonies. But Reaper realizes her talents can either destroy them, or save them. He must decide if he’s fallen victim to her power, or if he can truly trust the beautiful woman and her compelling abilities. If he makes the wrong choice, everyone dies.

Pirate Nemesis is the first book in an ongoing space opera series. If you like compelling world-building, fantastic characters, and romantic adventure, then you’ll love Carysa Locke’s new twist on an old genre.

The Rending by Carol Holland MarchThe Rending by Carol Holland March:

The saga of The Dreamwalkers of Larreta continues . . .

Deadly time rifts threaten Earth and Larreta. The rifts have swallowed people, buildings and the land itself. They must be stopped before the very fabrics of both worlds are torn apart.

Dreamwalker Leo can look backward in time. Jesse can walk into the future. Both of these abilities are needed to create the dangerous truan passage to locate and defeat the mysterious instigator of the rifts.

But Jesse is a volatile newcomer, unable to completely control his abilities. And Leo is still uncertain of his personal feelings for Jesse.

Working past their issues is key to discovering the location where the rifts originate. But the dark force behind the rifts has other plans—ones that won’t allow the two dreamwalkers to remain together. And only together can the rifts be stopped.

Physllis Wong and the Girl who Danced with LightningPhyllis Wong and the Girl Who Danced with Lightning by Geoffrey McSkimming:

When Phyllis Wong’s friend Clement finds a seemingly ordinary old movie poster in an antique shop, little does Phyllis know that the discovery will fling her on a journey into the past … a journey that will lead the brilliant young magician and clever sleuth to a forgotten mystery surrounding one of the most famous stories ever written!

 

 

Moonlight, Roses & Murder by Lori MoultonMoonlight, Roses & Murder by Lori Moulton:

Selina is a woman with a secret and she has been hiding it for a very long time. With her nieces, she runs Luna’s, a nightclub in downtown Seattle, catering to Steampunk and Goth clientele. When someone leaves a body behind her club, she is drawn into a web of mystery and murder. Puncture marks on the body indicate a vampire might be responsible and when more women are killed, a red rose is left by their bodies. As a vampire hunter comes to investigate, Selina wonders, who she can trust…

 

Feral by P.J. PostFeral by P.J. Post:

He’s just a teenager, hollow and lost, looking to keep the past buried, to forget. He surfs the backwash of the westward migration across a dead America; a war-torn desolation devoid of electricity, infrastructure and civilization. It has become a strange and unrecognizable land, rife with the worst of humanity. And his is a life without hope, equally dark and solitary.

Until he meets Feral.

Once was boy, selfish and directionless.

Now is love.

Now is reason.

Now is vengeance.

She is his vow, his purpose, and to save her, he’ll murder the world.

Children of the Shaman by Jessica RydillChildren of the Shaman by Jessica Rydill:

When their aunt is taken ill, thirteen-year old Annat and her brother are sent from their small coastal town to live with their unknown father. Like Annat, Yuda is a Shaman; a Wanderer with magical powers, able to enter other worlds. As Annat learns more about her powers, the children join their father on a remarkable train journey to the frozen north and find a land of mystery and intrigue, threatened by dark forces and beset by senseless murders that have halted construction of a new tunnel. But Annat’s doll, her only remembrance of her dead mother, may hold a dark secret – and when her brother Malchik is kidnapped, Annat and her father must travel onwards to find him before it is too late.

Between uncertain allies, shadowed enemies and hostile surroundings, it is only in the magical kingdom of La Souterraine that they can find answers – and it may be that only a Shaman can save the family and the Goddess.

Missing Things by Hollis ShilohMissing Things by Hollis Shiloh:

Is there a way to save the captive fae?

Jocelyn and Ellis, magicians and life partners, grapple with dilemmas and a miasma of magic and mystery.

Jocelyn searches out magical artifacts, and struggles with the troubling gap in his memories — and the feeling that his and Ellis’s partnership is falling apart.

Meanwhile, Ellis works desperately to dig into a wicked injustice being perpetrated against a kidnapped fae…and finds it may be too much for him to handle alone.

43,000 words
Men of Magic book 2
Very low heat

Rimward Stars by Glynn StewartRimward Stars by Glynn Stewart:

A helpless ally calls for aid
A ruthless enemy strikes without mercy
The fate of empires turns on even the smallest actions

When a minor trade partner sends the Castle Federation a desperate call for aid, they have few resources to spare from their all-consuming war against the Terran Commonwealth. Unwilling to be seen failing their allies but able to spare only a tiny force, Castle sends a hero to command the task group: Captain Kyle Roberts, the Stellar Fox.

Beyond the Rimward frontier of the Federation and its allies, little is as it seems. The pirates are being armed by an outside force, and the politics of these worlds is made deadlier by their poverty. When the Coraline Imperium—the Federation’s oft-difficult ally—sends forces as well, it risks a conflict that could undermine the Alliance protecting them both.

There are deeper games afoot as local schemes play the great powers against each other. Captain Roberts is caught in the chaos as fire and blood explode across the region. There is only one certainty: these Rimward Stars must not fall.

Star Dog Corruption by Lucas C. WheelerStar Dog Corruption by Lucas C. Wheeler:

After the Star Dog Fiasco, as it was termed by the media, Star Dog is joined by Nathan, Nicole, and Clancy while trying to rebuild his life. In the midst of a serial jewel theft and deepening conspiracies, can Star Dog truly fit into society, or will society reject him like a bad organ? Will he be able to stop the thefts and honor his name, or is there something more sinister at work?

 

 

Witch Spelling by A. WoodleyWitch Spelling by A. Woodley:

A fictional tale of witches, warlocks and wizards trying to fit in with the mundane way of life but always fearful of the consequences of being found out, especially after having already been persecuted and driven out of another town previously.
An accidental skirmish between two differing species, (both of which were once witches and warlocks) banished to adjoining worlds in an alternative dimension.

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