Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for October 2014

Indie Speculative Fiction of the MonthIt’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”, this time with a special Halloween edition or rather one that just happens to be published at Halloween.

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

Once again, we have a broad spectrum of titles, featuring science fiction, space opera, horror, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, steampunk, cyberpunk, biopunk, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, historical fantasy, Asian fantasy, YA fantasy, weird western, space western, paranormal romance, gothic romance, demons, werewolves, superheroes, psychic powers, GLBT characters, fairy tale retellings 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 Heidi Garrett, 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:

Pack of Lies by Annie BelletPack of Lies by Annie Bellet

Let sleeping dogs lie. Wolves, on the other hand…

Recovering from a broken heart and coming to terms with her family history, all sorceress Jade Crow wants is to resume running her comic book store and gaming with her friends. With a town full of strange wolf shifters, a hundred-and-fifty-year-old peace accord hanging in the balance, and the Justice who broke her heart back in her life, Jade’s plans go out the proverbial window.

Wolves are killing wolves, innocent human lives are caught in the crossfire, and not everyone in town is who they appear to be. As the bodies stack up and the doubts build, Jade and her friends race to find the true killer.

And then Jade’s evil ex-lover makes another move…

Pack of Lies is the third book in The Twenty-Sided Sorceress urban fantasy series, following Justice Calling and Murder of Crows.

Wave Links by Randall BoleynWave Links by Randall Boleyn

They feared how the truth might alter Llad Fleck. No one told him about his talented ancestors, their extraordinary heritage, or how they died. He never learned that a powerful research institute in London considered him a lethal threat. Other than the need to move on to the safety of a different city every few months, the only thing Llad knew for sure was that the men he played ball against said he had “mad skills not suitable for a fifteen-year-old.”

When Llad meets an eccentric parapsychologist, Dr. Jemma Rask, she explains that she has waited decades just to teach him how to expand his mind and utilize the unique traits which she believes he has inherited. Even though Dr. Rask and her stories come across as way too weird for Llad, he begins studying her techniques. He quickly realizes that just because the link might be there, it doesn’t mean he actually has the talent or the patience to develop his abilities.

After multiple killings shatter Llad’s life, he still doesn’t know who is behind the brutal murders or why he’s involved. But he knows now that he’s fighting for his life against a fanatical enemy. He must discover more about his family tree and learn how to control his psychic gifts?if he has any. Alone with his grief, Llad searches for clues about his cryptic lineage while being haunted by reoccurring dreams of a mysterious girl trying to help him master the bizarre talents he will need to survive.

Once Upon a Time at the End of the World by S. Elliot BrandisOnce Upon a Time at the End of the World by S. Elliot Brandis

Meet the android with no name. Seventy years ago, he was freed: his permission chip was removed and a gun placed in his hand. He was sent to fight for his country.

It was the war that ended the world.

Now, America is a wasteland. Wild towns have emerged across the frontier, lawless places filled with drunks and opportunists. The android rides from town to town, collecting warrants and seeking justice. Life is violent and meaningless—full of blood, whiskey, and dust.

When he meets Sierra—a fiery southerner with a chip on her shoulder—they embark on an unlikely journey, a dangerous search for vengeance.

Heart of Fire by J. DamaskHeart of Fire by J. Damask

Jan Xu, wolf and pack leader, faces more dangers when she saves a foreign male wolf in love with one of her ancient enemies, a jiang shi, a Chinese vampire. Throw in a love-struck drake—and Jan finds her situation suddenly precarious, with her reputation and health at stake. How much is a wolf going to take when everything is out of control again and her world thrown into disarray? How is she going to navigate the complexities of Myriad politics while keeping her pack and family intact without losing her mind? The third book of the Jan Xu Adventures will see Jan Xu’s continual fight as pack leader, her clan’s Eye (seer) and mother of three young children. Her mettle, courage and love for her family will be tested to her utmost limits.

This is the sequel to Wolf at the Door.

Blades of Illusion by Terah EdunBlades of Illusion by Terah Edun

Sara Fairchild, duelist and combatant, is out for vengeance. Her father was betrayed. Her mother is dead. All she has left is her desire for revenge and a quest for answers.

Now a member of the Mercenary Guilds’ elite guard, she fights on the front lines of her empire’s first civil war. But Sara’s priority isn’t winning the war for the crown or empire. It’s finding out the true circumstances of her family’s downfall while keeping one mild-mannered curator alive.

As emotionally detached as she is from everyone around her, Sara can’t seem to shake the stubborn affection of her one friend. When she stumbles upon the secrets of not one but two Kade mages, she soon finds out that neither of their lives is worth anything to either side.

As she fights to outmaneuver a group of fiendish imperial assassins and win a war that grows more complicated by the day, Sara Fairchild knows that no matter what, the empire will never be the same.

This is book 2 of the Crown Services series, following Blades of Magic

Wizard of Ends by Vanessa FinaughtyWizard of Ends by Vanessa Finaughty

When Lashlor Leaflin offers to escort Queen Narraki Dragonsbane to the Jeltar Woods, he’s unwittingly caught up in a magical adventure of the type he would rather not have.

The sorceress Assassa believes the Land of Ends to be rightfully hers, but King Lanaran refuses to hand over his crown. In retaliation, the sorceress conjures creatures of darkness to hunt the queen and end her life. Lashlor helps where he can, but it isn’t easy when the Guards of Ends who protect the queen believe him to be false.

A confrontation with Assassa will be the death of him, Lashlor is certain. However, the king insists on his help and it soon becomes apparent that he may have no choice.

King Ruins by Michael John GristKing Ruin by Michael John Gist

“The twists & drama of this roller coaster ride are wild from the start.” – Bethany.

The Arctic ice is gone, blasted apart in decades-long resource wars, and global tsunamis have scoured the world into ruin. Survivors hide in utopian cities behind vast flood-walls, or on lawless floating slums on the open ocean, living in fear of the next big wave.

Ex-Arctic marine Ritry Goligh isn’t afraid. His enemy Mr. Ruins is dead, crushed by a tsunami at the edge of the slums, and Ritry’s long nightmare is finally over. Then comes an explosion that makes no sound, but blows all his thoughts to shreds. In an instant Ritry is prey again, hunted by a power so vast he can’t even comprehend it.

This is King Ruin, and before him all Rit can do is run, so far and so fast he starts to forget who and what he is. Soon half of his mind is gone, the King is closing in, and the souls of billions are at stake. Because King Ruin wants the Bridge, a direct path into the minds of every living thing, and only the lost and broken Ritry Goligh can stand in his way.

This is book 2 in the Ruins Sonata series, following Mr. Ruins.

After the Winter by Mark R. HealyAfter the Winter by Mark R. Healy

The Earth is in ruins. Cities and nations destroyed. Those who survive the onslaught succumb to the cold blackness of winter. A handful of machines finally emerge into the light, lost and directionless. They are the last remnants of civilisation.

Brant is a synthetic – a machine who has the appearance and emotions of the humans who made him. He is hunted across the wasteland by cruel scavengers known as Marauders who are intent on cannibalising his body to prolong their own lives.

Brant carries a great burden as he tries to return home: a secret that can change the world. Against the unforgiving desert, the twisted denizens of this new world and his own dark past he needs to find a way back at any cost.

Consumption by Michael Patrick HicksConsumption by Michael Patrick Hicks

You Are

Reclusive chef Heinrich Schauer has invited six guests to a blind twelve-course tasting menu.

What You Eat

While snow blankets the isolated Swiss valley surrounding his estate, the guests feast eagerly, challenging one another to guess at the secret tastes plated before them.

Meat Is Murder

As they eat, each guest is overtaken by carnal appetites, unaware of their host’s savage plans…or of the creature lurking below.

One thing is clear: There is more on the menu than any of them have bargained for.

Consumption is a 12,000 word (approx.) short story. It contains graphic depictions of sex and violence, and is intended for mature audiences.

Sol Shall Rise by G.P. HudsonSol Shall Rise by G.P. Hudson

The Sol System was conquered and humans lived as slaves for 500 long years.

Now, after years of brutal warfare, humanity has been liberated. Liberation, however, comes at a cost. And the Sol System has become nothing more than a puppet state for a vast galactic empire.

For Jon Pike, a war hero who has lost everything, there is no substitute for freedom. And he blames the aliens for humanity’s troubles, especially the one living inside him.

But when he is sent on a top secret mission into unexplored regions of the galaxy he discovers that humanity’s troubles are just getting started.

Can he find freedom for himself and humanity?

Diabolical Taste by Ros JacksonDiabolical Taste by Ros Jackson

Kenssie just wants her fellow demons to respect her. A little hero worship now and then wouldn’t go amiss either. But as the lowly thrall of Rak, an embarrassment demon, she’ll take whatever crumbs she’s offered.

When the demon council turns against her master, Rak and Kenssie are forced to relocate to the countryside. It seems Rak has been holding out against his thrall and keeping a secret that will shake her trust in him forever.

When someone from Rak’s past returns to claim him, Kenssie has to fight for much more than his attention. The lives of innocents and not-so-innocents are on the line. How much of herself is she willing to sacrifice for someone else’s happiness?

The Registry's Secret by Jana JaneawayThe Registry’s Secret by Jana Janeaway

“I feel lost in the middle of a weird dream I can’t wake up from. Where everything is upside down, and all the rules have changed.”

Jessica Mitchell didn’t know just how true that statement would turn out to be.

Living the carefully constructed life that the Registry dictated, under their firm thumb and watchful eye, was starting to feel more and more like a prison sentence. The stifling existence had only one redeeming factor, amid the endless restrictions and constant scrutiny; Craddock Daniels, Jessica’s husband for all intents and purposes.

Even as discontentment spurs despair, they continue to find solace in each other, clinging to the hope that their imagined future together might still be possible.

But they soon learn that not everything is as it seems. It is much, much worse.

On the run again, joined by old and new friends, Jessica and Craddock try to reclaim their lives… by taking on the Mengliad community’s most powerful agency.

THE REGISTRY’S SECRETS is book two of THE MENGLIAD SERIES, following The Mengliad.

The Idiot King by Patty JansenThe Idiot King by Patty Jansen

Johanna, Roald, Nellie and Loesie have come to Florisheim finding many of their kinsmen there. The survivors from the burning of Saardam who have come here are the nobles who were never great supporters the old king, and it is likely that they won’t support his son either, even if he was normal. They support his marriage to Johanna even less and Johanna’s position as the new king’s wife would be improved immensely if she produced an heir, but so far that’s not happening.

Florisheim is alive with evil magic, and that magic is starting to affect the Saarlanders who are unused to it. They suffer apparitions of ghosts, people driven to injure themselves, or taken prisoner to work in a mysterious hole in the ground. Johanna knows that they have to get out of that evil place, but where can they go when the violence covers the entire known world?

This is part 3 of the series For Queen and Country, following Innocence Lost and Willow Witch.

Mission: Lights of Langrenus by V.A. JeffreyMission: Lights of Langrenus by V.A. Jeffrey

Something is rotten in Langrenus.

Or technically, north of the city.

Bob has settled down into work and family life but beneath the surface things have changed. He’s a secret agent now, building a budding network of people searching for the alien shadow groups on Earth and working to stop the coming alien invasion from beyond the solar system. But for now, all of that is far away.

The Boss, the mysterious head of Vartan, Inc. sends Bob to the moon city of Langrenus to investigate the Transient Lunar Phenomenon, which has changed pattern and intensity over recent years. No one knows why. At first, Bob suspects he’s been sent on a fluff mission. But the more he investigates, the more questions are raised in his mind as to what is really going on. The heart of the problem lies within the lunar mining communities and the increased frequency of the beautiful lunar lights are the result of something far more sinister than Bob ever imagined.

This is the sequel to Mission: Flight to Mars.

Hellcat's Bounty by Renae JonesHellcat’s Bounty by Renae Jones

Lesbian romance meets adventure in the first Rosewood Space Western.

The hellcat of Rosewood station is the best of the best. Anelace Rios is a good old-fashioned troublemaker, fiercely independent, and best of all, a steady hand with a flamethrower. Carnivorous amoeba are slowly taking over the half-abandoned mining port, and the freelance exterminator rakes in big bounties killing them off—then she spends those bounties in a grand way. Work hard, play hard.

Meidani Sintlere’s reputation is exactly the opposite of her wild friend. She’s the station’s hardworking black market doctor. She’s shy. She’s nice. She’s got a weakness for imported chocolate and pastel dresses. And she gets mad as a sani-vacced cat when Anelace shows up missing chunks of skin.

The hellcat never lacks for a willing partner. Even so, Meidani’s got notions to cut to the front of the line and stay there. She upends everything Anelace knows about good girls and the bad girls who don’t deserve them, and in a blisteringly hot night they go from friends to lovers.

But their new closeness forces the kind of reckoning even tough Anelace can’t escape unscathed. She thrives on her job, relishes the payoff, but now she’s endangering more than her own adrenaline-junkie hide—every run risks Meidani’s happiness. For the first time, Anelace is risking her shot at love.

Praying for the Surgeon by Frank D. LawrencePraying for the Surgeon by Frank D. Lawrence

“Praying For The Surgeon” is a fast-paced novel with lots of twists and turns that keep smashing its reader’s head against the wall… It is full of action, drama, and suspense – all set in a future where genetic engineering and total data control is running rampant. It combines cyberpunk, 80s retro style and the modern genre of biopunk into a thrilling ride of a book!

Witness what happens when Philip K. Dick meets Mickey Spillane… Deckard and Mike Hammer are about to have a little baby – and it is nasty!

The Commorancy: Orientation by Al K. LineOrientation and Contamination by Al K. Line

Nobody noticed as it swept around the globe – until billions began to die. Then it got a name: The Lethargy. Everyone just gave up, all interest in life relentlessly gnawed away. 15 generations later humanity is on the brink of extinction.

The only safe refuge is the fabled Commorancy, where Marcus Wolfe, tyrant, oligarch and absolute ruler offers those lucky enough to pass Orientation one of the seven Rooms, where life extension, knowledge of The Noise and more is there for the taking. But running such a home is not without its consequences – Marcus is institutionalized and has to fight daily with a madness that threatens his very reality.

As The Commorancy comes under attack young Letje finds herself out of her depth amongst a group of strangers with a millennium of experience between them. Haughty goats, an almost mythical man obsessed with changing his clothes at every available opportunity, and doors that go whoosh don’t help her situation as the very future of mankind hangs in the balance.

Now Marcus has to protect not only The Commorancy and his guests, but try to hold on to his sanity as well.

Moons of Solisticia by K.A. MadisonMoons of Solisticia by K.A. Madison

Ten years ago, humans created machines so powerful that they became aware of the world around them. The bots improved themselves until their intelligence far surpassed all of humanity’s. They used this intellect to take over everything. Their awakening ushered in a time of darkness for all mankind.

Now, Aiden is determined to find a way to help the resistance infiltrate the bots’ network. Working with his soul mate, Kyra, he must find a way to harness the unimaginable power of the Nether for his fight against the machines.

The fate of two worlds hangs on their shoulders. They must not only face an unbeatable foe on Earth, but race to find a traitor on Solisticia that will stop at nothing to do the unthinkable.

This is book 2 in the Nether Chronicles, following The Awakening.

Chase the Dark by Annette MarieChase the Dark by Annette Marie

Piper Griffiths wants one thing in life: To become a Consul, a keeper of the peace between humans and daemons. There are precisely three obstacles in her way.

The first is Lyre. Incubus. Hotter than hell and with a wicked streak to match. His greatest mission in life is to get Piper into bed and otherwise annoy the crap out of her. The second is Ash. Draconian. Powerful. Dangerous. He knows too much and reveals nothing. Also, disturbingly attractive — and scary. Did she mention scary?

The third is the Sahar Stone. Top secret magical weapon of mass destruction. Previously hidden in her Consulate until thieves broke in, went on a murder spree, and disappeared with the weapon.

And they left Piper to take the fall for their crimes.

Now she’s on the run, her dreams of becoming a Consul shattered and every daemon in the city gunning to kill her. She’s dead on her own, but there’s no one she can trust — no one except two entirely untrustworthy daemons . . . See problems one and two.

CHASE THE DARK is the first book in the Steel & Stone series. BIND THE SOUL, Steel & Stone Book 2, is now available for pre-order.

The Final Solution by R.M. MarshallThe Final Solution: A Half Way Home Story by R.M. Marshall

They started with five hundred, but their numbers are decreasing every day. Exponentially.

Science Officer Brent and Medical Officer Kelley are tasked with discovering who – or what – is picking off colonists from their expeditionary settlement on the seeming Eden of this alien planet.

But science and logic are no match for their rapacious nemesis, as they race to find a solution before their colony becomes unviable and the unthinkable becomes reality.

“The Final Solution” was a finalist in the Hugh Howey / Booktrack fanfic short story competition, and is set in a new colony in the “Half Way Home” universe, with Hugh’s kind permission.

Mirrorfell by Grace McDermottMirrorfell by Grace McDermott

Magnolia Hammond encounters Solstice, Blue Earth, and even a god whilst the mirror is falling – and a poison that slows Agent Taylor enough to take him out of the field, and away from combat.

This is a short companion story to Mirrorfall.

 

 

 

Island of Glass by Ruth NestvoldIsland of Glass by Ruth Nestvold

Seventeen-year-old Chiara Dragoni is a master glassmaker of Venice, a position that is both a privilege — and a trap. For the glassmakers of Murano are forbidden to ever leave the islands of the Venetian lagoon.

When Chiara’s uncle is caught on the mainland and thrown into the dungeon of the Doge’s Palace, she must use all her talents, including magic, to help free him. But the gift she creates for the prince of Venice has unintended consequences, and now Chiara must decide whether to give up everything — and everyone — she knows and loves in order to save her dream.

Set in an alternate historical Venice with alchemists, witches and magic, the story uses familiar motifs from the beloved fairy tale “Cinderella” to tell a tale with a very different message.

A Call to Arms by Shiriluna Nott and SaJa H.A Call to Arms by Shiriluna Nott and SaJa H.

War is brewing on the eastern border of Arden. The shaky truce between Arden and the neighboring realm of Shiraz has all but dissolved, and both sides are building their forces for battle. But in the quiet farming community of Willowdale, the rumors of war are the least of young Gibben Nemesio’s concerns. With both parents dead and two younger brothers to care for, Gib doesn’t have time to focus on anything besides keeping food on the table. Everything changes the day he receives a conscription notice and must report to Arden’s capital.

In Silver City, Gib is forced to leave his life as a farmer behind when he enters the legendary Academy of Arden as a sentinel trainee. If called to war, he will have no choice but to go, for the Sentinels of Arden are the realm’s first line of defense against the evils beyond the border.

A newcomer to this breathtaking city of stone, Gibben finds himself thrown into a world of cutthroat politics and scandals that run deeper than he ever imagined. Caught between the responsibilities to his family and to his country, Gib struggles to find balance. When he unwittingly overhears a sinister plot–that if seen to fruition will bear dire consequences for all of Arden–the young sentinel trainee must find a way to warn those in power before it is too late.

Talking with the Dead by K.L. PhelpsTalking with the Dead by K.L. Phelps

Having recently come to terms with her psychic gift of communicating with the comatose, all Kat Parker wanted was a bit of relaxation and to replace her broken cell phone. But her uncle’s death reveals a new and potentially dangerous wrinkle to her abilities — she can see and talk with the dead.

Phoneless, fed up, and worried for her sanity, Kat is still determined to help her uncle. Discovering he had more than a few secrets, she embarks on a treasure hunt for the one object she believes will help him rest in peace. Standing in her way is the CIA, a Mexican drug cartel kill squad, a group of mask-wearing gang members, and a wild alligator determined to eat her pet turtle.

As things spiral out of control, the absurdity of it all has Kat wondering if she hasn’t already gone insane, if she’ll be forever saddled with babysitting her uncle’s spirit, and if she should even bother to replace her phone.

This is book 2 of the Kat Parker series, following Mind If I Come In.

Sympathetic Magic by Christine PopeSympathetic Magic by Christine Pope

Some guys have all the luck….

Warlock “Lucky” Lucas Wilcox has a gift that ensures his success in all things, but his magic fails him completely when it comes to sexy Margot Emory, the vibrant “elder” of the McAllister witch clan.

Margot’s own magical gifts weren’t enough to protect her from a terrible romantic betrayal, and she’s wary of repeating past mistakes—especially with a Wilcox—even if it means she’s destined to live her life alone.

When Lucas sets his sights on the one woman he wants but can’t have, it may take a bit of sympathetic magic for the couple to have the happy ending they deserve.

This is book 4 in the Witches of Cleopatra Hill series, following Darkangel, Darknight and Darkmoon.

First Daughter by Susan Kaye QuinnFirst Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn

With the war begun, Aniri, Third Daughter of the Queen, has to battle not only a prince with a deadly skyship, but her own sister, the First Daughter, who finally sees her chance to become Queen. With their mother gravely ill and the Second Daughter kidnapped along with Aniri’s husband-to-be, Aniri embarks on a desperate mission to save the people she loves from a war that will tear all three countries apart.

First Daughter is the third book in the The Dharian Affairs Trilogy following Third Daughter and Second Daughter. This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance that takes place in an east-Indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue. And, of course, kissing.

The Body Electric by Beth RevisThe Body Electric by Beth Revis

The future world is at peace.

Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift–the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother–to help others relive their happy memories.

But not all is at it seems.

Ella starts seeing impossible things–images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience–and influence–the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love–even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…

Someone’s altered her memory.

Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.

So who can she trust?

Dirt Magic by Hollis ShilohDirt Magic by Hollis Shiloh

Trey has dirt magic. It’s messy and not very fun. But some miners in his old hometown are trapped underground, and he feels duty-bound to see if he can help. He doesn’t expect to meet a nerdy, weird gay romance writer who just might have a talent or two of his own. But Leo has a way of growing on Trey—and together, they might just have what the situation requires. Not to mention each other…

A quirky gay paranormal romance
Length: 18,000 words
Heat level: low

Naked Moon by Brian SpanglerNaked Moon by Brian Spangler

An unexpected storm.
A sudden distraction.
For one traveler, the sight of a naked moon might just mean the difference between life and death.

Excerpt
I DIED THIS morning on a winding road in the Ohio Amish Country. Rainy daylight spilled around me while heaping clouds piled high into the sky. In the distant west, the sky bore a giant bruise, sending a curtain of stormy green and black over my head. When the winds became sudden, a howling gale blew leaves and twigs across the road like a child throwing a tantrum. That is when I should have slowed down. That is when I should have eased into the turns and the sharp curves. But I never let up on the gas and marched forward without giving it a second thought.

The weather fronts played together in thundery efficacy while sunlight peered in through a closing blue window, hinting that the storm might soon pass. A torrent of rain and hail came then, pelting the road and ticking off of my windshield and roof. The hollow sound bounced in my car and rang in my ears like an old mechanical phone…

Mists of Seacliffe by Rosselyn SparksMists of Seacliffe by Rosselyn Sparks

Amanda Shorr, 32, lands a job as the private teacher to the children of action movie star Jace Jencks. When she arrives at his coastal California estate, it seems the ideal job: sunny California with a view of the ocean, on-site swimming pool and gym, and a talented private chef.

But the sun is often hidden behind the mists, the star’s son has emotional problems, and Amanda begins to have bad dreams–about a young woman, her French lover, and her cruel industrialist husband. As her dreams grow stranger and begin to invade her waking hours, her lifelong skepticism about ghosts crumbles.

Then comes a series of accidents, ones that she suspects are not accidental at all. Is someone is out to scare her? Is it the star himself, his son, the gray-haired housekeeper, the chef, the handsome estate manager, or the bodyguard? Is she being haunted? Or is it just possible that Amanda is losing her mind?

Gifted by H.S. StoneGifted by H.S. Stone

In a kingdom where the Gifteds are captured and thrown into fights to the death, Voima is fortunate that she is just a Regular. However, her brother, Vendd, isn’t so lucky. Since his Power started manifesting itself, the siblings have lived a life on the run, barely escaping the king’s soldiers.

Just as Voima and Vendd have settled into a new home, a fleeing Gifted enters their lives, begging for help but bringing soldiers after him. Despite the siblings’ efforts, the soldiers discover Vendd’s Power. Now Voima, an outmatched Regular girl, must find a way to defeat the kingdom’s most dangerous Gifteds in order to save her brother from certain death.

Frost by J.E. ThummelFrost by J.E. Thummel

Ember Frost kills demons. It’s what she knows, and she’s damned good at it. Lately, though, the job isn’t doing it for her like it used to, and after a quick fling begins to look more serious, she’s flirting with the idea of finally getting a life outside of work. Unfortunately, there are a couple of catches.

First: a slight misunderstanding at work just might have landed her on top of her employer’s hit list

and…

Second: a Black Hood named Lazarus. He’s made a pact with a powerful demon and is looking to tear down the Rule of God. But first he’s coming after Ember, and he’s willing to destroy everything she cares about to get to her.

Trying to survive life, work, and keep the faith can be a real bitch. But then again, so can Ember.

Kill Me, Red by Kelsey Warren-BryantKill Me, Red by Kelsey Warren-Bryant

Red Riding Hood: A Tale of Horror

Red is determined to find her best friend who was dragged into the woods by a giant wolf. She doesn’t know the source of the mysterious growling outside her window every night. She doesn’t know why all evidence of the wolf seems to vanish into thin air.

She doesn’t know if she’s being hunted.

 

The Very Last Days of Mr. Grey by Jack WorrThe Very Last Days of Mr Grey by Jack Worr

When Mason signs up for an experimental drug to treat his insomnia, he hopes he’ll finally be able to fall asleep when he goes to bed that night.

Instead, he falls into another dimension.

Now he must battle super-powered government agents and risk his sanity to unravel the mystery of why they are after him. His only guidance comes from a fair-weather ghost who speaks in riddles and appears only at peak inconvenience, and a mysterious woman who seems intent on killing him.

The Very Last Days of Mr Grey is a fast-paced science fiction thriller about reality, the mysteries of our world, and why some things are better left unknown.

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A Canadian Crime Bestseller

The Helen Shepherd Mysteries (watch out for two new stories as well as a series bundle coming soon) sell surprisingly well at Amazon Canada. Now The Cork and the Bottle has even hit two category bestseller lists there.

 

 

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Try an app and get Mercy Mission for free

The good people of Page Foundry who sell e-books via various apps as well as via the Inktera and Versent Books online stores, are running a promotion for their e-book apps. And one of the books you can get for free with a promotional code is my own Mercy Mission.

And here is how it works: Download any of the Page Foundry e-book apps onto your Android or iPhone (no Windows phone apparently, sorry). The link is for the Morgan Rice Books app, which is a speculative fiction focussed app, but they have several other apps available, e.g. TribBooks, the e-book store of the Chicago Tribune, Caffeine Nights, Ever After, Diversion Books, Cricket eBooks, and IndieReader.

After you’ve installed the app, tap on any book, click redeem and enter the PIN code “buhlert” and you’ll get a free copy of Mercy Mission. Best of all, I’ll still get paid for the book, since Page Foundry covers the costs.

The PIN Code is good for eleven downloads (ten plus one for testing purposes, but since my family only has Windows phones, we can’t use it, so I’m putting it up for offer as well.), so what are you waiting for. Get your free copy of Mercy Mission now.

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How to make book trailers using free online services

Let me tell you a secret. When I was young, I didn’t want to be a writer. I wanted to be a film maker. Specifically, I wanted to make big budget science fiction and fantasy movies in Hollywood.

I wanted to be a film maker from the age of five on, when I first saw Walt Disney’s Dumbo and thought, “I want to make something like that”, well into my early twenties. I even briefly flirted with the idea of going to film school, but at the time the only film schools in Germany were in Munich (far away and full of people with funny accents) and Potsdam (far away and full of people with funny accents and in East Germany, which might just as well have been Siberia). And the people who went to those film schools only ended up directing the dull crime and family dramas that saturated German TV. If I wanted to work as a director in Hollywood, I’d have to go to UCLA (which was even further away, but at least not East Germany or Bavaria).

So I put the film school plan on hold, but not the dream. And so I wound up joining a local film group that shot documentaries which were broadcast on a citizens’ TV channel (which I couldn’t even receive, because we didn’t have cable). I worked on documentaries about traffic problems, war memorials and the volunteer fire brigade. I did features about local artists and music events and climbed a wind turbine for a documentary about wind power.

I also learned how to use the video equipment of the analog era, shot videos with bulky cameras the size of a suitcase, did video and sound editing on equipment that looked like the TARDIS console, I did voice over work and manned the vision mixer at two different live broadcasts, which still ranks among the top ten most stressful events of my life, particularly when the sound mixer broke down right next to me and I had to continue my work, telling my camera operators to get some good visuals (since we didn’t have sound), while people were frantically trying to get the sound mixer back on line.

After approximately three years, I realised that film making wasn’t for me after all and concentrated on writing instead. However, one thing that I learned – apart from how to operate now long obsolete analogue editing equipment – is that even a five minute video clip is a whole lot of work, when done properly. And I always prided myself in doing things properly.

Now, some twenty years later, my laptop has more powerful editing equipment than my entire film group of old and uploading a video to YouTube can get you more views in a day than the old citizens TV channel got in a year. One thing, however, hasn’t changed. Making a professional looking video is still a whole lot of work.

And hence, even though I bought a digital HD video camera that is smaller than the batteries of the cameras of old, I don’t use it nearly as often as I’d like, because editing the footage is still a whole lot of work, work that takes time away from writing at that.

Luckily, the internet has not just given us YouTube, it has also given us programs and websites which allow anybody to produce a professional looking video with very little technical knowledge and a lot less work than if you do it from scratch.

I have tried out a few of these websites and programs over the years to produce book trailers and short videos. So far, I’ve only found two I really like, because they’re easy and intuitive to use and the results look great.

The first of these is the now sadly defunct Xtranormal (though it might be coming back), which allowed you to type in some text and have it spoken by CGI characters. There was a selection of voices and characters as well as backgrounds available. You could also add gestures and change camera angles.

Altogether, I made three videos with Xtranormal, though I lost one of them when the site closed down with hardly any advance warning. And indeed my experience should serve as a warning to always download any video you make using an online service, because otherwise you could lose your video and all your hard work, if the service goes down.

Here is an example of a book trailer I made with Xtranormal, for The Butcher of Spain, then known as El Carnicero, a historical romance novelette set in Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. The clip has Napoleon Bonaparte, who was one of the CGI characters on offer, expressing his outrage at the slanderous story (the hero is a British officer, the heroine a Spanish guerilla fighter and the villain a French commander) and helpfully informing viewers where to purchase copies for a book burning. I had a lot of fun writing Napoleon’s dialogue.

With Xtranormal gone, I started looking for alternatives and hit upon Stupeflix, an online service which allows you to create videos from images you upload. You can choose from several themes and also add in titles, text overlays, voice overs, maps and music. You can create regular resolution videos for free, but have to pay for HD as well as for some themes. Stupeflix seems to be mainly aimed at creating videos from vacation or party photos, but you can also use it to make book trailers.

One drawback of Stupeflix is that many of the themes work best with images in landscape format and have problems with images in portrait format, which is of course also the default format for book covers. Some of the themes also don’t support text overlays or support only very short text fragments.

My first attempt at creating a Stupeflix video was a short clip about myself and my books, assembled from book covers and some personal photos. I picked some music and a cool comic/pop art theme. You can see the result below:

For my next attempt, I decided that I wanted to create a book trailer for the Shattered Empire series. However, merely uploading the covers of the existing four books plus the series bundle made for a rather short and boring clip. A bit more content was needed. So I got some spacey stock art, uploaded it and used the opening narration of the Shattered Empire books (basically a kind of series blurb) as a text overlay, followed by the covers of the books themselves. Finally, I picked some suitable music. Here is the result:

The corkboard theme doesn’t look all that science fictional, but it has the advantage of supporting text overlays (I’ve done voice over work, so I know I’m not suited to it) and displaying the covers in their full glory.

Because I was quite happy with the Shattered Empire trailer, I decided to create a new trailer for the Silencer series, since the old one I made with Xtranormal was a bit outdated by now. Now the Silencer stories are pulp thrillers set in the 1930s, so finding suitable images took a bit of work. In the end I used various vintage public domain graphics, postcards and photos to introduce the characters and their world. I used the corkboard theme again, because IMO it works best for book trailers, and added some jazz music. The result is below:

The most important rule of making videos and book trailers using online services like Stupeflix and Xtranormal is still the same as it was back in the analogue era, when I was making local documentaries. Just assembling some footage and/or images doesn’t make for a compelling video. You need to have a plan and a story a tell. Thankfully in the digital era, you can change around your clips and images with the click of a button rather than wasting hours of work, when you changed your mind and needed to recut your video. Nonetheless, you still need a plan.

Having story to tell is even more important. If you look at TV commercials, nearly all of them have a story to tell. It’s not necessarily a good story – I for one am not really interested in Ms. Sommer telling suburban housewives which coffee brand is best – but it is a story.

This is where writers have an advantage, because we already have a story. However, we still need to condense a novel or – worse – a series of novels into a short video clip of one to three minutes. There are different approaches how to do this. In the general trailer, I basically introduce myself and my books. The Shattered Empire trailer focusses on the universe of the series and overarcing plot. The Silencer trailer focusses more on the individual characters, while hinting at the conflicts between them. The Butcher of Spain trailer finally takes a (peripheral) character and lets him shares his view on the proceedings.

Do these trailers sell books? I honestly don’t know. I believe having a presence on YouTube is a good idea. You can also share the videos on your social media. Many retailers such as Amazon, Smashwords or DriveThruFiction also allow you to post videos on the respective book and author pages.

Finally, they are really fun to make and will help you to look at your story in a new way.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month: September 2014

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

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

Once again, we have a broad spectrum of titles, featuring hard science fiction, space opera, Steampunk, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, Wuxia fantasy, Arabian Nights retellings, demons, werewolves, vampires, shape-shifting dragons, superheroes, immortals 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 Heidi Garrett, 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:

Voyage by Ellisa BarrVoyage by Ellisa Barr

In this harrowing companion novel to Ellisa Barr’s book, Outage, the devastating effects of an EMP attack are experienced all over again, only this time the story unfolds on a cruise ship far out to sea.

Sena Morgan has just begun the voyage of a lifetime, but she’ll never reach her destination. A terrorist-launched EMP destroys the ship’s power and communication systems and starts a fire onboard, leaving thousands of passengers stranded in the cold, northern Pacific.

As food and water dwindle, strangers with a deadly secret are brought aboard the ship. Sena’s only hope of survival is to get as far from them as possible. At sea, there’s nowhere to run.

Sena meets a couple trying to get home to their daughter in a small town in Washington. Together they will face unspeakable challenges as they try to reunite with their families despite a terrifying new reality.

Written for all fans that love apocalypse stories, Voyage is a Young Adult survival novel that mixes an action packed story with themes of family, hope, and determination.

Murder of Crows by Annie BelletMurder of Crows by Annie Bellet

They say you can never go home again. If only that were true…

Game store owner and nerd sorceress extraordinaire Jade Crow knows death stalks her in the form of her murderous ex-lover, Samir, a sorcerer who wants to eat her heart and take her power. With the help of her friends, and sexy tiger-shifter Alek, Jade trains for the inevitable confrontation.

Until her estranged father shows up begging for help. Someone or something is murdering the crow shifters of Three Feathers ranch and her father believes sorcery is the only way to stop the killings.

Faced with an unknown foe, a family that exiled her decades before, a deepening relationship with Alek, and Samir’s ever-present threat, Jade will need all the power she’s gained and then some to stop the Murder of Crows.

Murder of Crows is the second book in The Twenty-Sided Sorceress urban fantasy series, following Justice Calling.

The Disillusioners by Adam BishopThe Disillusioners by Adam Bishop

Jarvis is an investigative journalist with a penchant for making ill-advised sarcastic remarks to powerful government officials. He works for a small, rebel newspaper called The Disillusioners whose approach to tackling the news is explained in their motto: “Dispelling the Illusions of power.” A large amount of money from the government’s budget has mysteriously gone missing, and Jarvis is trying to figure out why. But the Hammers – the aristocrats who control Cirilia’s government – are determined to make sure the story never comes out.

A political mystery set against the backdrop of a magically-powered industrial revolution, The Disillusioners chronicles the economic upheaval sweeping across Cirilia. Small, family-owned businesses struggle to keep up with the ruthless efficiency of the magicorporations. The old order is overthrown as money, not magic, becomes the dominant form of social control. And a few powerful men believe the changes are a signal that progress must be brought to every corner of the globe, by force if necessary.

As Jarvis races to uncover the fate of the missing money, he will confront the role that magic has played in determining who has power and how they get to wield it. He will be challenged to figure out where the line is drawn between luck and intention. And he must fight to reveal his government’s secrets and hope that in the absence of power, truth is enough.

Lokte by K.J. BryenLokte by K.J. Bryen

Marianne Garcia is a struggling actress in New York City. With a dead career and her mother dying of cancer, she begins to lose faith in a better life.
That is, until Logan Lokte shows up.
The mysterious Logan offers her everything she has dreamed of, promising that he can not only make her a famous actress, but can stop the cancer spreading in her mother’s body. All Marianne has to do is sign a contract.
Marianne doesn’t believe in magic, and she has lost all faith in miracles. So why does she find herself strangely drawn to him? Who is Logan Lokte? And if she were to sign the contract . . . what would the consequences be?

In this tale of passion, murder, and deceit, Marianne’s decision thrusts them both into a spiral where choices are crucial, and evil comes from within.
But they also must learn that, in life, not every door is locked.

Chronocrime by K.M. CarrollChronocrime by K.M. Carroll

Indal, chronomancer and werewolf, has been in exile for six months, and survived everything the desert could throw at him.

Now he has to survive multi-world gangsters.

His friends, Carda and Michelle, drag him home and present him with Michelle’s corpse–sent back in time from the near future. But Indal’s efforts to check out the timeline reveals that the corpse is a killer construct, out to murder them all.
While trying to discover who sent it, Indal stumbles into a crime ring of smugglers, blind alchemists, magic-stealing elves, and breakdancing gravity mages. They want him and his friends dead.

Because plans are in motion to that will shake the entire multiverse. And only Indal and his friends can stop them.

This is book 2 in the Spacetime Legacy series, following Storm Chase.

Mindguard by Andrei CherascuMindguard by Andrei Cherascu

I have always disagreed with his following into my father’s footsteps and becoming a mindguard. I said to him, ”Son, the mind can be a very powerful enemy.” He never listened, though. I remember his answer was always, ”It might be your enemy, father – he never called me dad – it might be your enemy, but it isn’t mine!”
– Robert Ayers, father of suspect Sheldon Ayers – Enforcement Unit Archives, File number 986697714, Investigation of Ayers-Ross Thought-Protection Agency on one count of treason against the IFCO, with intention to overthrow the Council of Presidents.

In a future world where telepathy has left the human mind exposed and mindcrimes are a constant threat to information and privacy, powerful telepaths specialize in protecting their clients’ thoughts.
Before his mysterious early retirement, Sheldon Ayers had been the world’s most accomplished mindguard, a legend in the field of thought-protection. Now, he is merely an eccentric recluse.
When influential businessman Horatio Miller requests his services, Sheldon is convinced by his former partner to come back for one more mission.
The assignment is to protect an information package located inside the mind of a young woman who claims the knowledge she holds is vital to the future of mankind. Sheldon and his team must help her cross the most dangerous territory in the man-inhabited universe – the Djago Desert.
Meanwhile, Tamisa Faber, a tough and determined army cadet with a troubled past, struggles to climb the ranks of the Enforcement Unit and become the first successful female enforcer in over two decades. When she is granted her first field command, she sees an opportunity to finally prove herself. Her orders: stop the delivery of Horatio Miller’s information package.
Threatened by the brutal Desert Dwellers and relentlessly hunted by Tamisa and the enforcers, Sheldon’s team must fight to keep the carrier alive and guard the integrity of her mind. But nobody suspects that Sheldon also has a dark secret, and it could end up changing the fate of the mission.

Kill It With Magic by J.A. CiprianoKill It With Magic by J.A. Cipriano

Sixteen-year-old Lillim Callina is good at two things: running away and magic.

Now, Lillim’s half-demon ex-boyfriend is contacting her for help, she has somehow gotten herself mixed up in a kidnapping, and her long-dead rival has risen from the grave.

So when a dragon plotting to take over the world offers her a choice- work for him or else-

Lillim Callina is going to choose else.

Puck you, Mr. AshburyPuck you, Mr. Ashbury by Cian Garrett

Puck You, Mr. Ashbury is a 8300-word light comic fantasy novelette.

When hired to track down a delinquent vampire, Mr. Ashbury tries to untangle the fallout of that job while trying to get out of his forced partnership with the trickster fairy Puck. But will he succeed when a troll crashes Puck’s morning shopping, their friend is kidnapped, and Oberon calls in an ancient favor?

 

The Sunken by S.C. GreenThe Sunken by S.C. Green

In the heart of London lies the Engine Ward, a district forged in coal and steam, where the great Engineering Sects vie for ultimate control of the country. For many, the Ward is a forbidding, desolate place, but for Nicholas Thorne, the Ward is a refuge. He has returned to London under a cloud of shadow to work for his childhood friend, the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Deep in the Ward’s bowels, Nicholas can finally escape his strange affliction – the thoughts of animals that crowd his head. But seeing Brunel interact with his mechanical creations, Nicholas is increasingly concerned that his friend may be succumbing to the allure of his growing power. That power isn’t easily cast aside, and the people of London need Brunel to protect the streets from the prehistoric monsters that roam the city.

King George III has approved Brunel’s ambitious plan to erect a Wall that would shut out the swamp dragons and protect the city. But in secret, the King cultivates an army of Sunken: men twisted into flesh-eating monsters by a thirst for blood and lead. Only Nicholas and Brunel suspect that something is wrong, that the Wall might play into a more sinister purpose–to keep the people of London trapped inside.

Return to Innocence by Travis HillReturn to Innocence by Travis Hill

An unexpected visit from Davis, Elian’s closest companion, reveals a frightening tale that is impossible to believe. Except Davis is becoming mortal again, and The Ellensburg Group, the ancient enemies of night walkers, are behind the “infection” that goes far beyond any threat immortals have faced before. When Davis comes up missing, Elian travels to the Ellensburg’s compound near Missoula, Montana to exact revenge.

The Ellensburgs have laid numerous traps, but Zedira, Elian’s maker and an original Priestess of Alem, along with a small group of other immortals in the area, arrive to lend a hand, hoping to destroy their mortal enemies once and for all. Zedira’s display of true supernatural power evens the odds, but The Ellensburg Group has always played the long game…

Survival in Shades of Orange by Patty JansenSurvival in Shades of Orange by Patty Jansen

Humanity has expanded. Interstellar colonies exist in the far-flung frontiers of space.

After an interstellar war, Mauro and Gabriela arrive at the frontier base on the world Vittoria. But before their arrival, the space fleet commander shares a secret: The previous settlers were not victims of the war, but they have mysteriously disappeared.

Alone in a hostile environment, they have to find out why…

A hard science fiction short story first published in Analog, November 2012

Elevated by Daniel S. KaplanElevated by Daniel Solomon Kaplan

Rose doesn’t want to be an Elevated. She refuses to have her power unlocked on Elevation Day, unlike her other classmates. The irreversible treatment reveals powers that range from a benefit or a nuisance. For her father, it transformed him into an Unsound, forcing him to a life of exile.

Her hand is forced after a chance encounter with a previously undiscovered power activates her ability. Living as an Undocumented Elevated, Rose needs the help of others who hide under the government’s radar to learn to control her unwanted power. Among them, she unravels secrets about the treatment, the powers, and what happened to her father. Fed up with lies, Rose wants nothing more than to learn the whole truth–even if it means accepting her fate as an Elevated.

Flower's Fang by Madison KellerFlower’s Fang by Madison Keller

In the Kin-Jegera Empire the strength of your magic or your claws determines your destiny – too bad our heroes are short on both!

Prince Se’ls, one of the magical flower Kin and only child of Queen Se’uan, has a terrible secret – he has no magic. Forced by his mother, the Queen, to tour the empire to search for his magical companion, Se’ls is terrified of returning home empty handed.

Arara, long-furred runt and joke of her pack, is dreading the upcoming hunt, where the young Jegera show off their strength by taking down one of the fearsome armored hukra by claw alone. Arara is terrified that her superstitious pack will tear her apart if they learn her secret, that she was born telepathic and telekinetic.

With assassins and dark plots threatening the empire, Prince Se’ls and Arara must band together to save it, or perhaps to destroy it.

Danny Dirks by S.A. MulraneyDanny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon by S.A. Mulraney

Danny Dirks wants nothing more than to play baseball in his father’s orchard now that school is out, but he’s finding out that he is no ordinary boy. With the approach of his fifteenth birthday, Danny’s begun hearing voices and seeing visions of his dead mother. He’s also fairly certain that the cute girl next door is really a shape-shifting dragon. All of these things lead Danny to the discovery that he is the heir of the legendary Arthur Pendragon and the linchpin in a pact established between man and dragon centuries ago. Now, rogue dragons threaten that pact and the peace that comes with it. They aim to reopen the portal through which they originally came to Earth in order to bring back a rebel dragon army. It’s up to Danny to learn to channel the power that is Excalibur and, with his new friends, prevent the portal from being opened.

A Chronetic Memory by Kim O'HaraA Chronetic Memory by Kim O’Hara

In 2215, the science of chronography allows researchers glimpses of the sights, sounds, and smells of the past, as recorded in chronetic energies. But these promising explorations have become mired in politics and greed. When seven-year-old Jored Wallace goes missing, only one person, chronography intern Danarin Adams, realizes he’s gone. Soon she finds out that Jored’s disappearance is only the first of many timestream disturbances. Who can she trust to help her set things right?

 

Little Gou and the Crocodile PrincessLittle Gou and the Crocodile Princess by Robyn Paterson

“Every last member of the Mao family will die by the Hour of the Rat a fortnight from now.”

With these words begins a race against time, as the roguish martial artist called Little Gou hunts across the back roads and waterways of Old China to find a young bride-to-be who has become a pawn of the mysterious Lady Moonlight. He must outwit friends and foes alike, all of whom are dancing to the Lady’s song, and unravel a scheme that could see thousands dead or enslaved and the Middle Kingdom aflame with rebellion if he fails. But, worst of all, he has to face the woman who abandoned him in the name of family duty- the love he can never be with, or forget.

Influenced by Legendary Wuxia novel writers Gu Long and Jin Yong; and in the spirit of movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Little Gou and the Crocodile Princess is a martial arts action & adventure thriller set in the Jianghu martial underworld of Old China. Through a combination of wits, swordplay and kung fu, the martial artist Little Gou, and his companion the warrior nun Sister Cat, must uncover the truth behind a deadly plot to bring the martial underworld to its knees, or die trying.

One Thousand Nights by Christine PopeOne Thousand Nights by Christine Pope

Lyarris Deveras, Crown Princess of Sirlende, takes a leap of faith and accepts an offer of marriage from the ruler of the far-off kingdom of Keshiaar, although she knows it means she will never see her family or her homeland again. Betrayed by his first wife, her new husband has vowed never to love again. But with a little luck — and a bit of magical intervention — Lyarris plans to melt her new husband’s stony heart in this novel inspired by the Thousand and One Nights, set in the world of the Latter Kingdoms.

 

Heir Expectant by B.J. PriestHeir Expectant by B.J. Priest

WAR IS COMING
Ten days have passed with no sign of the rebellion.
Alone, Asher waits
as new Knights are made
and festivities are raised.
Hannah’s coronation approaches,
and the Queendom makes ready,
but everyone knows
the Scion is coming.

Book #4 in a series of fantasy novellas.

Novum: Exile by Joseph RheaNovum: Exile by Joseph Rhea

Beneath the surface of a distant water planet in the last human colony of Civica, fears of an ancient enemy walking among them have brought tension levels to a boiling point.

Captain Jacob Stone wants nothing more than to live a peaceful life aboard his ship, the Rogue Wave, but while on a routine cargo haul, he and his crew discover a dark secret that could unravel the fabric of their society and ignite civil war.

When an act of sabotage kills thousands and throws the colony into chaos, Jake is caught in the middle, and must seek answers in a place no one believes exists. Can he find them before it’s too late?

Exile is the second book in the Novum series and sequel to Novum.

Outlaw by Edward W. RobertsonOutlaw by Edward W. Robertson

IN THE YEAR 2010, an alien virus nearly wiped out the human race. A thousand years later, mankind has recovered and ventured into space. There has been no sign of the aliens since. Humanity remains confined to the Solar System.

All that is about to change.

Mazzy Webber is a lowly janitor on a third-rate cargo ship. Deeply in debt, when his captain decides to turn pirate, he leaps at the chance.

A modern Robin Hood–minus the part where he gives back to the poor–Webber lays down a few ground rules. No attacking manned ships, and no stealing from anyone who can’t afford it. Within months, he and the crew are out of debt. Their next target will make them rich.

But the attack goes all wrong. The target’s cargo could be the death of them–or it could be the key to reaching the stars.

The Plains of Kallanash by Pauline M. RossThe Plains of Kallanash by Pauline M. Ross

Thousands of years after a magical catastrophe reshaped the world and pulled the moons out of alignment, the secret of magic has seemingly been lost. At the centre of the vast, forbidding Plains of Kallanash lies a land ruled by a secretive religion, whose people fight a never-ending war against the barbarians in the wilderness beyond the border.

Amongst the nobility, double marriages are the norm. Junior wife Mia always dreamed of attracting the attention of the dashing lead husband, but never dared to compete against her lively older sister. Hurst has spent ten frustrating years as junior husband, longing to test his skill with a sword in battle, longing for his beloved Mia to turn to him.

The mysterious death of Mia’s sister thrusts the marriage into turmoil. As Mia and Hurst struggle to adjust and find out what happened, they uncover sinister truths about the ruling religion. But the gods are unforgiving; even Mia’s innocent questions carry a terrible punishment. Hurst is prepared to risk everything to save her, even if it means taking up his sword against the barbarians, his own people, and the gods themselves.

The Alukah by Jessica RydillThe Alukah by Jessica Rydill

When student Jim Hopkins gets the bus home to Stoke Newington one night, he has an encounter that changes his life – and his views on magic and vampires.

 

 

 

 

Robert and Louie by Hollis ShilohRobert and Louie by Hollis Shiloh

Hired to redecorate the Skeffield country home, Louie is both attracted to Robert Skeffield and abashed by him in equal measures. Louie, who favors bright clothing and has never been called butch in his life, has little in common with gorgeous, masculine, and closeted army officer Robert. But not everything is as it appears, at Skeffield Manor or in their hearts…

Takes place after “Wes and Kit”

This story contains some minor steampunk elements, magical elements, mysterious elements, flirting, a dog, and a strawberry-colored waistcoat.

Sensual rating: very low
Length: 30,500 words

What Follows, edited by April Steenburgh and C. LennoxWhat Follows, edited by April Steenburgh and C. Lennox

How would an Immortal deal with the End Times?

The world will inevitably come stumbling into apocalypse, and They will be there to witness it. Dryads, demi-gods, deities of every pantheon- is it possible for the Eternal to handle an ending with grace?

Should it come through disease, disaster, or religious fervor, discover What Follows…

Stories by Lyn Thorne-Alder, M.J. King, Joyce Chng, Kate Larking, Nina Waters, K Orion Fray, E.V. O’Day, Crystal Sarakas, Sarah Lyn Eaton, and Ross Bennett.

Buddy by Jeff TanyardBuddy by Jeff Tanyard

Kevin just wants to finish his senior year of college and graduate.

Before he can do that, though, he must finish his summer internship. When his boss’s genetic engineering experiment goes awry, Kevin gets sucked into an adventure he never wanted.

It will change him forever… if it doesn’t kill him first.

Buddy is a 10,000-word story. It contains some violence and adult situations.

Strangers in Flight by Joe VasicekStrangers in Flight by Joe Vasicek

FATE HAS BROUGHT THEM ACROSS TIME AND SPACE, BUT WAR WILL DRIVE THEM FARTHER

For countless ages, Reva Starchild has slept in perfect cryostasis. Frozen in secret to escape a catastrophic death, she awakens only to find herself the sole survivor of a people whom history never remembered. Light-years from her homeworld, among a culture she finds both perverse and obscene, she must somehow build a new life for herself where misplacing her trust could be fatal.

With nowhere safe to run, she finds refuge on a small starship with a mysterious young man who seems to be fleeing something as well. Where others have sought to enslave her, though, he treats her with unexpected kindness. As they slowly open up to each other, she learns that he too carries a burden—one she can barely comprehend.

Isaac Deltana indeed carries a burden. The failure of his mission at Colkhia has brought untold calamity to the Outworld forces and almost certainly led to the death of his brother. Now, he flees from the Gaian Imperials to prevent them from obtaining the secret technology he carries—one that will change the face of interstellar war forever.

Little does he know, the Imperials aren’t the only ones hunting him in

This is book 3 of the Sons of the Starfarers series, following Brothers in Exile and Comrades in Hope.

Facade by R.M. WebbFacade by R.M. Webb

Claire Jacoby is desperate to remember who she is and where she comes from. Isolated by the fact that she can’t remember her past, she builds a life, however hollow, out of the fragments of herself that remain. In the seven years since awaking alone and confused in the woods, she’s learned to hide behind social customs, creating a facade to protect the secret she hides from the rest of the world.

Claire is struggling with disconcerting flashes of information, unsettling thoughts and images that she fears are memories. When William Foley comes into Claire’s favorite cafe, his very presence demanding her attention, she’s overcome by the sense that she knows him. He sweeps into her bitter, colorless little life, unconcerned about hiding his unnaturally quick movements and cold skin, and starts putting Claire back together piece by piece.

William knows Claire and has the answers to questions she’s been asking for seven years. He also knows she has dangerous enemies. William must protect Claire as she learns more about herself, each piece of the puzzle bringing her ever closer to those who have sworn to see Claire dead.

1/2986 by Annelie Wendeberg1/2986 by Annelie Wendeberg

“A girl deeply wounded, more afraid of life than of death, may just be the best hope for mankind’s survival.”

Remnants of humanity are scattered high in the mountains, far from the deadly disease that wiped out ten billion lives. While everyone claws for survival, Micka cuts lines and numbers into her skin. The day she decides to press the blade deeper, a stranger steps into her life and makes an offer she finds hard to decline.

Warning: This book is not for the faint of heart. Do not buy if you abhor violence, intense language, and non-explicit sex.

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Overdose and the Eight Hour e-Book Challenge

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

I took part four times so far and have become quite fond of the challenge, because it is so wonderfully motivating.

Because I was away for a couple of days in September, I initially had planned to skip the challenge for this month. However, after launching Seedlings and Debts to Pay earlier this month, I found myself with some time on my hands and no project clamouring for my attention, so I decided to do another eight hour challenge after all.

I also decided to write another mystery, because once I have a plot and a solution to the whodunnit and why, I find them easy and straight forward to write, which makes them ideal for these eight hour challenges. I also decided reuse Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd, Police Constable Walker and forensic medical examiner Dr. Rajiv from The Cork and the Bottle, because I kind of liked them and besides, it saved me the time and trouble of coming up with new characters.

The case I picked for Helen Shepherd and her team involves a suspicious drug overdose. I got the idea from several sources. One was a mystery that used a fake drug overdose to cover up a murder. Another source was how some people are automatically assumed to be taking drugs, even if they aren’t, whereas for others it’s assumed that they would never ever take drugs. Quite often, these assumptions are wrong. And so Caroline Murray, the victim, is initially considered just another dead addict, because she fits a certain demographic. Meanwhile, everybody who knew her insists that Caroline would never ever take drugs.

While writing the story, I realised that “Nu-U”, the name I had chosen for the suspicious plastic surgery clinic, was actually borrowed from the film Logan’s Run in a classic case of cryptomnesia, though Logan’s Run spelled it “New You”.

I didn’t see a reason to change the name – after all, it wasn’t as if Helen Shepherd was working as a cop in a dystopian future charged with hunting down those doing a runner before the mandatory execution on their 30th birthday. So I decided to run with the parallels and name the plastic surgeon after Michael Anderson Jr., the actor who played the treacherous doctor in Logan’s Run. Meanwhile, the receptionist of the Nu-U Clinic is modelled after Farah Fawcett, who famously played the clinic receptionist in Logan’s Run. Farah Fawcett’s character in Logan’s Run is named Holly, but since a prominent character in my Shattered Empire series is also called Holly, I decided to name the receptionist Jill, after Farah Fawcett’s character in Charlie’s Angels, and use the surname of the actress.

Indeed, using real people like actors, politicians, sports figures, friends and family, etc… as inspiration is a good way of coming up with names, appearances and personalities for characters for these eight hour challenges. Now I’m a very visual writer and mostly see the characters in my head. But when doing an eight hour challenge, you usually don’t have the leisure to spend a lot of time coming up with names, appearances and personalities, particularly for walk-on characters. And the Helen Shepherd Mysteries have a lot of walk-on characters in the form of witnesses and suspects. They’re all described in rather broad strokes, though I still try to sneak in some neat details such as the Game of Thrones inspired t-shirt worn by Caroline’s boss.

Apart from looking up Logan’s Run in IMDB, the research I did for Overdose mostly focussed on plastic surgery and anaesthesia, if and how local anaesthesia drugs can kill, etc… Methiovalizine, the drug that kills Caroline Murray, is entirely fictional, by the way, because making up a fictional drug was quicker than looking up real anaesthesia drugs and their side effects.

Overdose ended up the longest of my eight hour challenge books to date, clocking in at 7700 words, which theoretically takes it into novelette territory. However, have no fear, for the price is still 99 cents.

The Cork and the Bottle by Cora BuhlertBecause Overdose is the second Helen Shepherd Mystery, I now had a series and hence had to come up with a branded look for the covers. I actually quite like the original cover for The Cork and the Bottle, but it does not lend itself well to branding, so I changed the cover for The Cork and the Bottle along with creating one for Overdose to give them a unified look. You can see the new cover for The Cork and the Bottle on the right, by the way. The new look is very basic, a single significant object (the murder weapon in both cases) on a white background, the title in a hand-drawn looking font and author name in the same grungy typewriter font I use for all my crime fiction. I think the result is rather effective.

I’ve also made a special series page for the Helen Shepherd Mysteries.

Finally, here is Overdose, the second Helen Shepherd Mystery and fifth eight hour fiction e-book:

Overdose
Overdose by Cora BuhlertWhen Caroline Murray is found dead in an underground parking garage with a needle in her arm, the case seems clear. Caroline died of a drug overdose.

However, everybody who knew Caroline insists that she was vehemently opposed to drugs and would never have taken any. And what was Caroline doing at 544 Grant Road, a building to which she had no known connection?

Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd is quickly convinced that Caroline Murray’s death was not a simple drug overdose. But who had reason to want Caroline dead and why?

For more information, visit the Overdose page.

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

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A new sales channel and interview and more Bestsellerdom, this time in France

I have begun uploading my books to Smashwords, following some recent policy changes on their part. I’ve also done one of their self-serve interviews, so check it out.

What is more, one of my books has hit yet another international Amazon bestseller list or three, since Seraglio is currently ranking in a couple of category bestseller lists at Amazon France.

°4.484 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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A Trio of Australian Bestsellers

The Shattered Empire series has been getting some love on Amazon Australia, because Mercy Mission, Seedlings and History Lesson all hit the Amazon Australia space opera and adventure SF category bestseller lists:

Mercy Mission:

Seedlings:

History Lesson:

 

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Free 3-month Scribd trial available via Teleread

The e-book subscription service Scribd has been a very pleasant surprise for me so far. My books have only been available at Scribd for a little over two months (via the good folks at Draft2Digital) and yet Scribd already makes up between 5 and 10 percent of my sales.

Scribd already offers a free one-month trial. However, now they also offers a 3-month free trial via Teleread.

So what are you waiting for? Try out Scribd for three months for free and maybe read some of my books, while you’re at it.

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Two new Shattered Empire stories available: Seedlings and Debts to Pay

Today we’ve got a double release in the Shattered Empire series to announce, because both the long awaited novella Debts to Pay as well as a new Shattered Empire short story named Seedlings have just come out.

Seedlings is another story focussing on Holly di Marco and Ethan Lord Summerton, whom we first met in Mercy Mission and History Lesson. It was originally intended as the opening scene of an upcoming novella, but somehow it didn’t really fit in with the rest of the novella. However, the characterisation and worldbuilding would have been a pity to lose, so I finally decided to turn it into a standalone short story.

Debts to Pay, which features Holly’s friend and fellow mercenary Carlotta Valdez on a solo mission, had an even more complicated history, because it is an extensive rewrite of a short story called “The Nighthuntress” that I wrote more then twenty years ago during my second semester of university. When I looked through my inventory of finished stories, I also came upon “The Nighthuntress”. The writing needed a lot of work and besides the story tied in to the now defunct Femla universe, a space opera universe I developed in my teens and that’s basically unusable now, though parts of it survive in the Shattered Empire series.

As I read “The Nighthuntress” again for the first time in twenty years, I thought, “Some of this is actually quite good.” I also realised that it would work quite well as a solo mission for Carlotta Valdez. So I rewrote the entire story from scratch and also added in some elements, e.g. the Smoofs don’t exist in the original story at all.

I’m quite happy with the result, plus we learn a lot more about Carlotta, including the identity of her mystery lover who is mentioned in History Lesson. And can I just say how happy I am about the cover art, especially since it’s so difficult finding SF stock art featuring women who don’t look like strippers or sex workers as well as any kind of stock art featuring people of colour at all.

Seedlings
Seedlings by Cora BuhlertOnce Ethan Summerton was the heir to a lordship, and a whole planet besides. But all that was taken from him, when his father decided to side with the Galactic Rebellion against the Fifth Human Empire and was murdered for his troubles along with the entire Summerton family, leaving Ethan the only survivor.

Now, cooped up with more than two thousand other Rebels in the eternal night of the planet Pyrs, Ethan Summerton is reduced to tending the rebel base’s greenhouse. Not that he minds – Ethan has never been a snob and besides, he’s always liked gardening. Besides, it gives him the chance to impress his new best friend Holly with the crops he’s growing.

A hardened mercenary, Holly di Marco doesn’t have much use for gardens and greenhouses and strange leafy things. But they matter to Ethan and since Holly is supposed to take care of him, she tries to feign interest as well.

But then one day, an incident involving a lost little girl, chickens and batavia lettuce shows her what Ethan Summerton is truly made of.

For more information, visit the Seedlings page.

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

Debts to Pay
Debts to Pay by Cora Buhlert Once Carlotta Valdez was a mercenary, working for the highest bidder. No job was too dirty or too dangerous as long as she got paid.

But then Carlotta had a change of heart. She joined the Rebellion against the Galactic Empire and met rebel leader Arthur Madden, perhaps the only man in the universe she genuinely admires.

However, the past has a nasty habit of catching up with you when you least expect it. And so, while on a mission for the Rebellion, Carlotta runs into Darius Gilroy, crime lord, all around scumball and her former boss. Gilroy had a job for Carlotta and he won’t take no for an answer. And to emphasise his point, he threatens to hand her over to the Empire, if she doesn’t accept.

So Carlotta finds herself en route to the rimworld of Rothea III to take out a drug lord who has been encroaching on Gilroy’s territory. The drug lord certainly won’t be missed, but how can Carlotta reconcile an assassination job with her newfound rebel convictions? And how can she get Gilroy off her back, lest he threaten her and her comrades again?

For more information, visit the Debts to Pay page.

Buy it for the low price of 3.99 USD, EUR or GBP at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Casa del Libro, Scribd, Inktera, txtr, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Der Club, Libiro, Nook UK, DriveThruFiction, OmniLit/AllRomance e-books, Flipkart, e-Sentral, You Heart Books and XinXii.

Finally, I also want to mention that you can buy a bundle of all Shattered Empire stories at DriveThruFiction for only 5.99 USD.

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