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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An Interview and the August Eight Hour Fiction Challenge revisited

First of all, I’ve been interviewed again by fantasy writer Judy Goodwin at My Writerly World. I talk quite a bit about research and the Silencer series.

What is more, you’ll probably remember that I took part in the August Eight Hour Fiction Challenge, which is one of the best ways of getting your arse in gear as a writer.

Now the talented Donald Rump, dean of fart fiction and currently master of ceremonies for the Eight Hour Fiction Challenge, has posted the August results. There are sixteen stories altogether of varying genres, lengths and styles. Best of all, many of them are free.

If you like my Eight Hour Challenge process posts, German writer Thomas Diehl (who was inspired to give the challenge a try by one of my previous posts) has written a process post of his own. I must confess that hearing other people talk about their experiences is one of the best parts of the Eight Hour Challenge for me.

Finally, I’d like to point you again to the Speculative Fiction Showcase. Heidi, Jessica and I have posted lots of great content these past few weeks and there’s a lot more coming. So keep checking back for new releases, author interviews, guest posts, speculative fiction links and more.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month: August 2014

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

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

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

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

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

And now on to the books without further ado:

Justice Calling by Annie BelletJustice Calling by Annie Bellet

Gamer. Nerd. Sorceress.

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

As long as she doesn’t use her magic.

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

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

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

Geodesic by Morton BlakeGeodesic Episode 1: Fabio by Morton Blake

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

A storm of undead is coming to the Louisiana swamps.

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

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

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

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

Strikers by Ann ChristyStrikers by Ann Christy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She’s wrong.

And now everything may be over—for everyone…

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

Accession by Terah EdunAccession by Terah Edun

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

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

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

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

Half Faerie by Heidi GarrettHalf Faerie by Heidi Garrett

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

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

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

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

The Tree Hugger by Heidi GarrettThe Tree Hugger by Heidi Garrett

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

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

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

Warriors by C. GockelWarriors by C. Gockel

When science meets Chaos, what could go wrong?

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

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

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

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

A126608-NJL._SL1500_Mr. Ruins by Michael John Grist

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

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

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

From Death by Nigel HenryFrom Death by Nigel Henry

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

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

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

High Coven by Mona HannaHigh Coven by Mona Hanna

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ruin by Harry MannersRuin by Harry Manners

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Part 1 of 5

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

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

Part 2 of 5

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

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

Code Burn by Elizabeth Noble DayCode Burn by Elizabeth Noble Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the sequel to Jump When Ready.

Darkmoon by Christine PopeDarkmoon by Christine Pope

The answer to the end lies at the beginning….

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

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

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

Terminus Shift by Chris ReherTerminus Shift by Chris Reher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Deviant Underground by Elisabeth RoselandThe Deviant Underground by Elisabeth Roseland

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

Kathryn should be institutionalized or incarcerated.

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

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

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

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

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

The Glass Mountain by Jessica RydillThe Glass Mountain by Jessica Rydill

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

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

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

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

This is the sequel to Children of the Shaman.

Wes and Kit by Hollis ShilohWes and Kit by Hollis Shiloh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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