Tolino hits the coffee shops

The Tolino e-reader, which was developed and marketed by an alliance of German bookshops, has just passed Amazon’s Kindle with regard to market share in the (still tiny) German e-book market (well, sort of) and now Tolino has landed a new coup. Because now an older Tolino model, the Tolino Shine, is available at Tschibo at the drastically reduced price of 69.99 EUR, down from 99 EUR. There’s even a free e-book – Endgame by James Frey – included.

For those who are not German, an explanation of what Tschibo is would be in order. Tschibo and a similar, now defunct chain called Eduscho started out as coffee companies. Tschibo and Eduscho coffee was mainly sold via bakeries (and there are a lot of bakeries in Germany), which either had a Tschibo or Eduscho licence. Sometime in the early 1970s, Tschibo had the idea to sell products other than coffee, because a new law forbid them from adding premiums to coffee packages, so Tschibo simply sold off the superfluous premiums, mostly stuff like coffee tins and the like, via its bakery network. This was a huge success, so Tschibo and rival Eduscho started offering a weekly changing roster of products ranging from clothes via jewellery and toys to household goods and electronics. And because the products were sold in neighbourhood bakeries, they were pretty much ubiquitous. Eventually, Tschibo also opened its own network of stores that sold only Tschibo products and coffee, took its weekly specials (and its coffee) into supermarkets and drugstore chains and opened an online store. They also offered insurances and banking services for a while and still offer package holidays, mobile phone services and gas and power supply services. Not bad for a coffee company.

These days, racks of Tschibo specials are everywhere, in supermarkets, drugstores and maybe even in your local bakery. And because Tschibo products are so ubiquitous, pretty much every German household owns at least a few. My first camera was a pocket camera from Tschibo for fifteen Deutschmarks, a thrilling birthday gift when you’re nine. At the age of fifteen, I had a silver and gold and zirconia ring from Tschibo (I still have it somewhere, though it no longer fits me). Until they bought a DeLongi a few years ago, my parents used a Tschibo espresso machine. I still have a Tschibo indoor/outdoor thermometer somewhere.

So in short, Tschibo is ubiquitous in Germany, even if you don’t drink their coffee and haven’t drunk it in a long time. And now they’re selling cheap e-readers. This is a pretty big coup for Tolino, because it brings e-readers to a new audience, namely the many, many people who buy Tschibo stuff. And this new audience will not be buying at Amazon, but at the various Tolino stores (apparently eBook.de is the one that’s integrated into the reader itself, though users can purchase e-books at all Tolino alliance stores and indeed all stores that sell ePubs). This is also quite a big deal for indies, because the Tolino stores are far less indie-friendly than Amazon.

There is a catch, since the Tolino e-readers will apparently be only available via Tschibo‘s online store and not on racks in bakeries, supermarkets and drugstores throughout Germany. Here is the relevant page at the Tschibo online store. Note the vaguely creepy image of the woman biting into her brandnew Tolino reader, as if it was a particularly tasty piece of cake.

So once again, Tolino is proving itself to be a viable challenger to Amazon. Indies should definitely take note.

PS: Browsing the Tschibo online store, I noticed that they’re offering a 3D-printer for 499 EUR. Damn it, I’m almost tempted now.

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New German spy story available – Neue Spionagegeschichte auf Deutsch erhältlich: Auf der anderen Seite des Vorhangs

I have a new release in German, namely the German language version of The Other Side of the Curtain.

I initially planned to announce the new release on November 9 to tie in with the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the inner German border. But then I got ill, several vendors were rather slow to update (I’m still missing a couple of smaller Tolino stores) and besides, the usual jerks decided to pollute what should’ve been a joyful anniversary with their personal political agenda.

So I decided to postpone the announcement until the book was actually available everywhere and instead celebrate on November 9 what I’ve always celebrated on that day, namely the 95th birthday of my late grandmother.

***

Ich habe mal wieder ein deutsches e-Book anzukündigen, nämlich die deutsche Fassung der Spionagegeschichte The Other Side of the Curtain.

Ursprünglich wollte ich die Geschichte am 9. November pünktlich zum 25jährigem Jubiläum des Mauerfalls ankündigen. Aber dann wurde ich krank und einige der Händler waren doch sehr langsam darin, das Buch hochzuladen und außerdem haben die üblichen Verdächtigen sich daran gemacht, ein eigentlich freudiges Jubiläum mit ihrer persönlichen politischen Agenda zu verpsten.

Also entschloss ich mich, die Ankündigung zurückzustellen, bis das Buch tatsächlich auch überall erhältlich ist (na ja, einiger der kleineren Tolino Partner fehlen noch), und stattdessen den 9. November als das zu feiern, was er in erster Linie immer für mich war, nämlich der 95. Geburtstag meiner leider inzwischen verstorbenen Oma.

Und jetzt das Buch:

Auf der anderen Seite des Vorhangs
Auf der anderen Seite des Vorhangs Leipzig, 1966. Major Werner Gottwald hat sein Leben dem Dienst am Vaterland gewidmet und beobachtet als Stasi Agent westliche Besucher in der DDR. Sein neuester Auftrag ist der amerikanische Millionär Zane Smith und dessen Geliebte, die schöne Shoushan Kariyan.

Auf den ersten Blick scheint es ein Auftrag wie jeder andere zu sein. Aber an Zane Smith ist mehr dran, als es auf den ersten Blick scheint, und so steckt Gottwald bald schon bis zum Hals in Schwierigkeiten. Denn es stellt sich heraus, dass Gottwald die Verschlagenheit der kommunistischen Brüder vom KGB unterschätzt hat. Und er hat definitiv Shoushan Kariyan unterschätzt…

Mehr Informationen.
Länge: 9000 Worte
Preis: 2,99 EUR, USD oder GBP
Erhältlich bei Amazon Deutschland, Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Niederlande, Amazon Frankreich, Amazon Italien, Amazon Spanien, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australien, Amazon Brasilien, Amazon Mexico, Amazon Japan, Amazon Indien, Kobo, Apple iTunes, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Der Club, BOL, Otto-Media, Donauland, buecher.de, buch.de, eBook.de, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, txtr, Inktera, Smashwords, Casa del Libro, Flipkart, e-Sentral und XinXii.

Dieses Buch gibt es auch auf Englisch.

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A German Perspective on Serials and Novellas

One effect of the e-book revolution in the English speaking world has been a resurgence in the popularity of short stories, novellas and serialized fiction. I already wrote a couple of posts about this topic, which you can find here, here and here.

Now the renewed popularity of novellas and serials in e-book form is something new for the English speaking world, where both novellas and serialized fiction largely died out with the demise of the pulp magazines in the 1950s.

However, in Germany the pulp novella never really died out. Indeed, it just happily chugged along through the postwar area in the form of the so-called “Romanhefte”, novella-length stories published as digest-sized 65-page magazines and sold at newsstands and in supermarkets.

Spinner Rack

A Romanheft spinner rack at my local supermarket. Note the Bastei Banner on top. Bastei is of course one of Germany’s biggest Romanheft publishers.

“Romanhefte” come in a wide variety of genres. Romance is the most popular with the subgenres medical romance, aristocratic romance (stories about fictional princes, counts and other aristocrats), “Heimatroman” (stories set in the Alps), family romance and gothic romance, but there are also westerns, crime fiction, horror/dark fantasy, historicals, war fiction, adventure stories, and science fiction. Some “Romanhefte” are complete standalones (romances mostly, but also westerns and war fiction), some are series featuring the same character in more or less self-contained adventures (many crime, fantasy and horror series, but also medical romances), others are continuing serials that have been running for decades on end in some cases. I’ve written about “Romanhefte” on my blog several times and also have also published a number of articles on specific genres and series.

Romanhefte

Random “Romanhefte” from my personal collection. Lots of romance and westerns for some reason.

The parallels between the “Romanheft” model (novella and novelette length stories, low price, wide variety of genres, high publication frequency, bundling*) and the indie e-book publishing model are obvious. As a result, one would also assume that “Romanhefte” would be ideally positioned to take advantage of the e-book revolution. And indeed, the three big “Romanheft” publishers, Bastei Lübbe, Kelter and Pabel-Moewig all offer their “Romanheft” lines past and present as e-books. Particularly, Bastei Lübbe and Pabel-Moewig also have detailed digital strategies.

Here is an article from Deutsche Welle about Bastei Lübbe‘s digital strategy. It’s a lengthy read (and only in German), but quite interesting, especially since Bastei is using similar strategies to many indie authors and is also expanding internationally by offering e-books in English and Chinese, written as “word for hire” by local authors, because this is supposedly cheaper than hiring translators, which I for one find a little disturbing.

Meanwhile, the German e-book news site Lesen.net offers up the longrunning SF series Perry Rhodan, published by Bastei‘s rival Pabel-Moewig**, as a model for a successful digital serial publishing. The article also discusses German indie SF serials modelled on Perry Rhodan.

Perry Rhodan has been running since 1961, which makes it one of the longest running “Romanheft” series. However, the longest running “Romanheft” series focussed on a single main character and one of the most successful is G-Man Jerry Cotton, which chronicles the adventures of the New York based FBI agent Jerry Cotton***. Jerry Cotton solved his first case back in 1954, which means that the series turned sixty this year. This article on Deutsche Welle marks the anniversary, though it sadly can’t resist snarking about the series and using derogatory terms like “Trivialliteratur”.

Also from Deutsche Welle, here is another article about the “Romanheft” phenomenon, which attempts to explain why these novellas are so popular in Germany. Once again – well, it is Deutsche Welle – the author can’t really lay off the snark and has to use terms like “Trivialliteratur” and “Heftchenromane”. He also comes to the conclusion that the reason “Romanhefte” are so popular in Germany is because Germans love happy endings and escapism. I guess the author has never seen a Harlequin/Mills & Boon romance.

*Unsold “Romanhefte” are returned to the publisher, stripped of their covers and then bundled as collected editions based on genre or series.

**Perry Rhodan and its spin-offs are now the only “Romanheft” franchise still published by Pabel-Moewig, since they stopped publishing their other “Romanheft” franchise, the WWII series Der Landser, in 2013 after protests that the series glorified Nazi war crimes. Of course, Der Landser has been published since 1957 and has always been its icky war-glorifying self (When buying one for research purposes, I always felt dirty), though for some reason the periodic complaints about this never bothered anybody until 2013. What is more, Der Landser survived its demise and reappeared under the title Weltkrieg, now published by a Swiss company that seems to be affiliated with Neo-Nazis.

***Together with the horror/urban fantasy series Geisterjäger John Sinclair, Jerry Cotton and Perry Rhodan make up the big three of the German “Romanheft” world.

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Tolino passes Kindle – or does it?

This Friday, the news dropped that the Tolino, an e-reader developed and marketed by an alliance of several German, Austrian, Swiss and soon Dutch booksellers, had passed Amazon’s Kindle with regard to market share. According to the report, Tolino now has a share of 45% of the (tiny) German e-book market, up from 38%. Amazon has 39%, down from 47%. The remaining 14% are split between Kobo, Apple and Sony. The figures are based on a consumer survey, since Amazon doesn’t release sales figures.

This is pretty big news, particularly considering the dominance of Amazon in the e-book market in most countries where they are operating. But then Amazon has lately been getting some bad press in Germany, most unjustified. Plus, the Tolino alliance is marketing its readers quite heavily and just recently introduced the first waterproof e-book reader. Plus, Tolino allows people who dislike shopping online to testdrive its e-readers in the very stores where they buy books.

However, the German e-reader news and review site Alles e-book took a closer look at the figures and noted that if you add the pre-alliance market shares of the various Tolino stores together, the growth of Tolino no longer looks quite so remarkable, since the overall Tolino market share matches that of the different Tolino partners. Plus, a new Tolino partner, Libri a.k.a. eBook.de joined the alliance recently and the Tolino market share growth of 7% almost exactly matches Libri‘s marketshare.

I remember being quite stunned when I first saw the market share of Thalia, Weltbild, Buecher.de and other Tolino alliance stores in the German online book market, since I’ve been buying my books at Amazon for more than ten years now, longer than most of those stores even had an online presence (though BOL was around back in the early 2000s). Everybody I know buys books at Amazon as well, so where did all of those Weltbild and Thalia shoppers come from?

However, I’m hardly the usual German book buyer – for starters, because I buy mostly English language books. And readers of English language books along with academics and university students were early adopters of Amazon, because Amazon was the best and often only place to get foreign language books and obscure academic books. So I basically lived in a bubble of early Amazon adopters who’ve been using Amazon for more than ten years and thus never considered switching to any of the German stores. I have an account at Thalia and sometimes buy books there, but I’m still mainly an Amazon shopper.

However, the average German book buyer who wants popular fiction and non-fiction and doesn’t care for foreign language books switched to online shopping much later than the early adopters (online shopping only really took off in Germany in the past five years or so) and once they did, they went to buy books where they had gone to buy them before, at the online stores of the same brick and mortar stores they had been patronising before. Plus, the German stores offer some payment option such as payment against invoice that Amazon doesn’t offer to my knowledge.

Nonetheless, indie authors should take note of Tolino‘s success, because this is a part of the market that you won’t reach via Amazon. And though Tolino is currently very focussed on German language books and the range of English language books on offer is often pitiful, not to mention overpriced due to distributors of trad pub books taking a hefty cut, expect this to change in the future.

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Familienkutsche featured at Kobo Next and other news

Familienkutsche, the German version of my crime short Family Car, is a featured selection at Kobo Next, Kobo’s own promo site, this week, along with a whole lot of other good books such as When the Music’s Over by German SF writer Myra Çakan.

If you’re waiting for more German language books, I have a new one in publishing right now and hope to announce it in time for the anniversary tomorrow, e-book vendor gods willing.

In the meantime, I’ve got a profile on the new social network tsu (where you can get a sneak peak at the new German book), so drop by, if you’re there. What is tsu? Here is an explanation.

Finally, Heidi Garrett, Jessica Rydill and myself keep posting all sorts of interesting content at the Speculative Fiction Showcase, so check it out, if you haven’t already.

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How to write short mysteries fast

As some regulars here may know, I’m a big fan of the Eight Hour Writing Challenge instigated by Donald Rump of KBoards. It’s a great way to make yourself produce something publishable in a short period of time and increase your catalogue.

The stories I have written for past Eight Hour Challenges have included fantasy (Old Mommark’s Tale) and science fiction (The Iron Border), but my main challenge story genre so far has been mystery and crime fiction. I produced a whopping five mystery and crime stories for this challenge (six actually, since Seeing Red is a two-pack containing two short stories). I have also inadvertedly created a new series, the Helen Shepherd Mysteries.

Some of my earliest attempts at writing were crime fiction, largely because there was a thriving (well, sort of) market for short crime fiction in German magazines. For a while, every German women’s, TV listings, gossip or general interest mag included a short crime story. There sometimes was other fiction as well such as the “complete romance novel” (normally more of a novelette), True Confessions type stories and even serialised novels, but the crime short was ubiquitous. It’s also the only type of fiction you can still find in (some) German magazines, long after the romance novelettes and serialised novels have vanished into the aether.

However, writing in English for a market that mainly exists in German wasn’t the best of ideas. Besides, the German definition of crime fiction is wider than the rather narrow mystery genre in the US. Never mind that the US mystery genre has plenty of subgenres such as “cozy”, “police procedural”, etc… that don’t really exist in Germany at all.

I initially found it very hard to write crime stories that conformed to the expectations of the mystery genre, i.e. stories where the crime is a puzzle to be solved by an investigator. So I was quite pleased when I found myself writing a true mystery with The Cork and the Bottle, the first Helen Shepherd mystery. When I had another idea for a mystery for the next Eight Hour Challenge, I decided to reuse Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd, her assistant Police Constable Walker (I’m going to have to promote him to Detective Constable soon, since Police Constables don’t really do that sort of work) and the forensic medical examiner Dr. Rajiv. And so the Helen Shepherd Mysteries were born.

This month sees the release of two new Helen Shepherd Mysteries, Bank Job and Open Season. It also begets the question why I can write the Helen Shepherd Mysteries so quickly, while stories in other established series such as Shattered Empire or The Silencer normally take me much longer.

The answer lies in the nature of the stories. First of all, there is something of a formula to the Helen Shepherd Mysteries, established in the very first story. There is a crime, usually involving a dead body, that seems pretty cut and dried at first glance, such as a robbery leading to murder in The Cork and the Bottle, a drug overdose in Overdose, a bank robbery with hostage in Bank Job or a hunter shooting a serial rapist in the process of attacking his latest victim in Open Season. Helen Shepherd investigates, asks questions, notices some discrepancies and eventually finds out that what really happened is quite different from what it seems. The true killer(s) is/are arrested. The end.

It’s a simple formula and yet one that leads itself to telling a lot of different stories. It requires two main ingredients. A crime that seems pretty obvious and what really happened.

So where to take the crime from? Real life is one option. Another and one that often works better is other mysteries. Crime dramas on TV are one possible source of crimes, though most of them seem to aim at creating particularly unusual and bizarre crimes. The point of the Helen Shepherd Mysteries, however, is that the crimes look rather mundane at first glance. So I turned to another source.

Remember those crime shorts in the backpages of German magazines that I mentioned above? I still read them, whenever I get my hands on a mag that still has crime shorts (mostly via my Mom). They are ideal as inspiration, because due to their short length (one magazine page and therefore under 2000 words), those crime shorts need to keep their central crime fairly simple. Some of those crime shorts spark a “What if?” train of thought, which eventually gives me the rough plot for a short mystery.

For example, Open Season was inspired by a crime short where an intended rape/murder victim is saved by the appearance of a hunter ex machina, which initially caused me to roll my eyes. Yeah, like a hunter would just happen to be in the area when a rapist attacks his victim. But then I thought, what if it wasn’t a coincidence? What if the hunter had laid a trap for the rapist and used the hapless jogger as bait?

Once I have a story idea and a basic plot, I start writing. I don’t plot out every detail in advance, e.g. the Northern Ireland connection in Open Season only occurred to me later on, when I needed more connection between the characters than just living in the same neighbourhood and being members of the same club. Indeed, I sometimes have to go back to layer in extra clues such as the bandaged hand in Bank Job.

This is another point where the basic structure of the Helen Shepherd Mysteries works for me. For starters, there is only one POV character, Helen, which keeps complications down. The next advantage is that the stories are eighty to ninety percent dialogue. There are a few establishing paragraphs, where the setting and/or characters are described, but Helen largely solves her cases by talking to people. And since I find dialogue much easier to write than description, the fact that the stories are eighty to ninety percent dialogue makes them very quick to write. Especially, since I also know what the dialogue needs to do, namely reveal information that Helen can use to nab the criminal(s).

Another useful skill writing the Helen Shepherd Mysteries has taught me is how to introduce characters in fairly few words and still keep them distinctive. Except for Helen and her team (and we don’t know that much about them either), every single character in every Helen Shepherd story to date is a walk-on character whom we’ll never see again in a future story. So the one or two scenes per story they appear in is usually all the space I have to introduce said character and keep them from blending together with all the other characters. For example, Bank Job features three different female guest characters, Ellen O’Hare, Karen Carling and Madeline Whitby. Ellen and Karen get one scene each, Madeline gets two. And yet I think I’ve managed to make them different enough from each other that anyone who’s read the story wouldn’t get them mixed up with each other.

As the setting for the Helen Shepherd Mysteries I’ve chosen London, because it’s a city where I lived for half a year as a student and which I know very well, which makes it easier to visualise settings without doing a whole lot of research (which would massively slow down the process, particularly for an eight-hour-challenge story). Plus, Greater London is big enough that you can have pretty much every kind of setting within its boundaries. Of course, the London setting introduces some constraints, e.g. firearms will be uncommon because of the strict British gun laws and indeed in only one story to date the murder weapon is a gun. And because London was already plastered with CCTV cameras back when I lived there and things have only gotten worse since then, checking CCTV recordings for clues plays a big part in resolving every single mystery. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since it gives me the opportunity to hand Helen and friends a few extra clues, whenever needed. And if a CCTV camera would have revealed whodunnit too early, it’s easy to disable it for story purposes or simply make sure that there isn’t a camera around for once.

Besides, while London is always specified as the overall setting, the exact details of where a given crime or scene takes place remain fairly vague. The name of the bank in Bank Job is never specified (largely because I didn’t want to take on HSBC or Royal Bank of Scotland or Barclay‘s or whoever), neither is the exact location. All we learn is that it’s across the road from a major football stadium, but there are several of those in the Greater London area. What is more, any street- or estate name that appears in the Helen Shepherd Mysteries is entirely fictional. I can’t guarantee that such a street doesn’t exist somewhere in London – it is a huge city, after all. But the only places mentioned in the Helen Shepherd Mysteries that really exist are Ruislip Woods from Open Season (because it is one of the fairly few large nature preserves in the Greater London area and the only one where I could ascertain that hunting was allowed) and the Euston – Birmingham train line from Bank Job, which I mostly picked, because I used to live approx. 200 meters away from it and therefore had no problems visualising it. The derelict brick factory is fictional – however, there are many factories, both derelict and not, next to the railway line.

London is a very diverse city and I try to reflect that diversity in the cast of the stories. Of the main cast, Dr. Rajiv, the forensic medical examiner, is Pakistani, while his assistant Miss Wong, who briefly appears in Bank Job, is Hongkong Chinese. I also try to make my guest cast diverse, which I find fairly easy to do, because those characters only exist to play a specific role, so I can make them any race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation (if that plays a role) I want. So far, Open Season is the only story that features only white guest characters and two of them are not British.

One more thing I like to do is hide some geeky references and easter eggs in the stories. The first time, it was more of an accident, when I found out that the dodgy plastic surgery clinic in Overdose shares a name with the equally dodgy plastic surgery clinic in Logan’s Run, so I peppered Overdose with Logan’s Run references. In the later stories, the easter eggs are more deliberate. They also match the overall theme of the story in question, e.g. Bank Job has references to V for Vendetta, Guy Fawkes masks and the Occupy movement, whereas Open Season has references to hunting and wilderness related literature such as Tarzan and “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell as well as a character whose surname literally means “savage” in French. Come to think of it, even the “You can be young and beautiful forever, as long as you’re willing to die at thirty” world of Logan’s Run matches the theme of Overdose.

I’ve had a lot of fun writing the Helen Shepherd Mysteries and I will certainly write more in the future, whether in- or outside the eight-hour fiction challenge.

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Two new Helen Shepherd Mysteries available: Bank Job and Open Season

Pegasus Pulp is pleased to announce two new stories in the Helen Shepherd Mysteries series. What is more, there is also a discounted series bundle available exclusively at DriveThruFiction.

If you want to know a bit more about how the Helen Shepherd Mysteries were written, check out this post.

And now on to the stories:

Bank Job
Bank Job by Cora BuhlertAt first glance, the robbery in a small bank branch doesn’t seem overly mysterious. After all, the CCTV footage clearly shows a masked robber threatening bank clerk Jim Carling with a gun before disabling the cameras.

However, the robber knew a bit too much about the inner workings of the bank, so Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd quickly suspects that the robber had inside help. But who of the five bank employees is the insider? And what happened to Jim Carling after the robber took him hostage?

 

 
For more information, visit the Bank Job page.
Buy it for the low price of 2.99 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, OmniLit/AllRomance e-books, Casa del Libro, Flipkart, e-Sentral, You Heart Books and XinXii.

Open Season
Open Season by Cora BuhlertAbsolutely no one is sorry when the infamous Ruislip Wood Ripper, a serial killer who has already raped and murdered three women, ends up dead in the forest, shot by a hunter while on the cusp of attacking his fourth victim.

But there are just a few coincidences too many in this case for the taste of Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd. Was it really just pure luck that hunter Reginald Hargreaves just happened to be in the right place at the right time? And why did no one warn French tourist Anne Marie Sauvage that there was a killer on the loose in Ruislip Woods?

 

For more information, visit the Open Season 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, OmniLit/AllRomance e-books, Casa del Libro, Flipkart, e-Sentral, You Heart Books and XinXii.

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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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