Love and Crime – A Round-up of Indie Valentine’s Day Mysteries and Crime Fiction

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Our monthly round-ups of new speculative fiction and new crime fiction releases by indie authors are a perennially popular feature. Therefore, we now offer you a round-up of our favourite Valentine’s Day mysteries by indie and small press authors.

The holiday mysteries cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have plenty of cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, culinary mysteries, animal mysteries, paranormal mysteries, historical mysteries, jazz age mysteries, police procedurals, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, amateur sleuths, crime-fighting witches, crime-fighting bakers, crime-fighting ghosts, crime-fighting dogs, masked vigilantes, missing children, kidnappings, sleazy lawyers, serial killers, assassins and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set on or around Valentine’s Day.

As always with my round-up posts, this round-up of the best indie holiday mysteries is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime 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:

Valentine's Day is Murder by Carolyn ArnoldValentine’s Day is Murder by Carolyn Arnold:

Cupid’s arrow may have missed its mark…

Jimmy finally takes a vacation–and a chance on love–only to be abducted. His female companion originally thinks he had cold feet about their relationship, but Sean and Sara know there’s more to it. Jimmy isn’t the type to just up and disappear, let alone leave a lady stranded.

Setting out on their private jet, Sean and Sara reach the tropical paradise of Ocho Rios, Jamaica with sightseeing as the last thing on their minds.

With a gold coin being their initial tie to Jimmy’s kidnapper, Sean and Sara even speculate about the involvement of pirates. Yet as the hours pass, and there’s no word from Jimmy’s captors, Sean and Sara will need to figure out the real motive before it’s too late.

With help from their friend, Adam, back in Albany, the pieces come together and not a moment too soon.

A Valentine for the Silencer by Cora BuhlertA Valentine for the Silencer by Cora Buhlert:

Valentine’s Day 1938: All Richard Blakemore a.k.a. the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer wants is to have a romantic dinner with his beautiful fiancée Constance Allen.

But on his way to his date, Richard happens upon a mugging in progress. Can he save the victim and make sure that young Thomas Walden has the chance to propose to his girlfriend? And will he make it to dinner with Constance on time?

This is a short Valentine’s Day story of 7200 words or approx. 24 print pages in the Silencer series, but may be read as a standalone.

He never brings me flowers...He never brings me flowers… by Cora Buhlert

He never brings me flowers…

Waiting for your boyfriend to finally come home from work can be hell, especially if it’s your anniversary and you suspect he forgot – again. But does the ringing of the doorbell promise roses and sex and the long overdue proposal or something far more sinister?

Lovers’ Ridge

A foundling, a newborn, abandoned and left to die. But tonight, he will have his revenge on the parents who deserted him. Tonight, they will pay, at the very place where the story once began, at Lovers’ Ridge…

This is a bumper edition containing two short crime stories of 3200 words altogether. Both stories are also available as part of the collection Murder in the Family.

Valentine's Madness, edited by Beth ByersValentine’s Madness: A 1920s Historical Mystery Anthology, edited by Beth Byers:

Welcome to a very flapper Valentine’s Day!

Are you ready for the roaring twenties? For spunky young women crafting their own lives? If so, you’ll love Violet, Julia, Abigail, Evelyn, and Rosemary.

Inside, you’ll find four short Valentine’s day adventures, 1920s style including roses, chocolates, kisses, and cocktails. With stories from The Violet Carlyle Mysteries, the Piccadilly Ladies Club Mysteries, the Abigail Dutcher Mysteries, the Jazz & Gin Cozy Mysteries, and The Lillywhite Mysteries.

Murder on Valentine's Day by P. CreedenMurder on Valentine’s Day by P. Creeden:

It’s Valentine’s Day and 20-year-old Emma Wright just wants her crush to take notice of her. But Colby Davidson, the K9 search and rescue deputy only thinks of her as a kid sister. How will she get him to take her seriously?

When her veterinarian boss calls her to pick up a cat at a potential crime scene, she finds herself at the house of the richest woman in Ridgeway. Her father—the sheriff—and Colby are there. They both dismiss the untimely death as a heart attack, but Emma finds clues that it might be something more. Did the software billionaire die of natural causes, or was it murder?

The Valentine Mystery by Kathi DaleyThe Valentine Mystery by Kathi Daley:

If you love small towns, endearing relationships, food, animals, and a touch of murder, you will love this new mystery series by Kathi Daley, author of the popular Zoe Donovan Cozy Mystery Series.

It is Valentine’s Day in White Eagle Montana and Tess and Tilly are busier than ever delivering Valentine Cards along with the daily mail. Of course it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day in White Eagle without a mystery to solve or a holiday adoption party to prepare for.

When Tess happens upon a vehicle accident where one man dies, she gets pulled into a mystery with roots into the past. With Tony’s help she not only tracks down a killer but she looks into the occurrence of a missing person as well.

Tony is still looking into the case of Tess’s father’s disappearance, meanwhile Tess and Tilly team up with Brady to make sure that every animal shelter resident finds their perfect match in time for Valentine’s Day.

A Valentine Murder by Steven DemareeA Valentine Murder by Steven Demaree

In this delightful combination of a whodunit mixed with humor, a woman, who has been celebrating her birthday and Valentine’s Day, is rushed to the hospital complaining of stomach pains and nausea. She grabs the doctor and tells him she has been poisoned, but before she can tell him any more, she dies. When Lt. Dekker and Sgt. Murdock investigate, they find out that no one liked her, with the possible exception of her husband.

 

 

Corridor Man: Valentine by Mark FaricyCorridor Man: Valentine by Mark Faricy:

BETTER CHANGE THE LOCKS. BOBBY DID.

Disbarred attorney Bobby Custer continues to use his main skill set; murder, treachery and perversion in an ongoing effort to increase his personal gains.

Ever the charmer, Bobby provides Emily with an unforgettable valentine that up until now she could only dream about . . . or maybe it was a nightmare. Together they forever mark the day with a memorable secret. Psychotic, sociopathic, always charming– and you thought he was here to help.

Valentine by Celina GraceValentine by Celina Grace:

A respectable, middle-aged housewife. An ambitious young lawyer. A student burlesque dancer. Three women with nothing in common – except for the fact that someone has sent them a macabre Valentine’s Day gift; a pig’s heart pierced by an arrow.

Is this a case of serious harm intended? Or just a malicious prank? Detective Inspector Olbeck thinks there might be something more sinister behind it but his colleague Detective Sergeant Kate Redman is too busy mourning the departure of her partner Tin to New York to worry too much about the case. Until one of the women receives a death threat…

Valentine is a novella in the best-selling Kate Redman Mystery series by crime writer Celina Grace.

The Ghost of Valentine Past by Bobbi HolmesThe Ghost of Valentine Past by Bobbi Holmes:

A romantic weekend at Marlow House Bed and Breakfast turns deadly when Earthbound Spirits founder, Peter Morris, is murdered. Plenty of people had a reason to want the man dead—especially Danielle’s current guests.

But it isn’t Morris’ ghost distracting Danielle on this deadly Valentine’s Day weekend, it’s her late husband Lucas. She has her hands full with suitors coming from all directions—both living and dead—while she tries to figure out if there’s a killer in Marlow House.

 

Ghoul You Be My Valentine? by Olivia JaymesGhoul You Be My Valentine? by Olivia Jaymes:

It’s time for another Ravenmist Whodunnit! A tiny Midwestern town with charming covered bridges, quirky residents, delightful antique shops, and more than their share of haunted activity.

Tedi has another packed inn of people for the Ravenmist Valentine’s Day Ball. The evening was a complete success until she and Jack find a dead body on the back patio with a Cupid’s arrow through his heart. There’s no shortage of suspects for his murder either. Jack will have his hands full paring down the list.

And Tedi? She’s staying out of this. No way is she going to be pulled into it. Not after last time. She has her own investigation. She and her friend Missy are trying to find why the town has suddenly been infused with paranormal energy. Ghosts are literally getting up and dancing around. It’s all going well too. That is until the investigation starts to hit just a little bit too close to home.

Hop into your ghostmobile and take a ride with Tedi as she meets a spirit who doesn’t think he’s dead, two ghosts in love, and a hard partying specter who just might have witnessed the murder. It’s a hauntingly good time in the little town of Ravenmist and you’re invited to the party.

Lady Rample and Cupid's Kiss by Shéa MacLeodLady Rample and Cupid’s Kiss by Shéa MacLeod:

Just when Lady Rample has given up on love, a former flame reappears, bringing with him all sorts of emotions she thought buried. Unfortunately, that flame comes with one very aggressive and rather angry almost-ex-wife. The ensuing catfight is almost worth the price of admission.

When the ex-wife is found dead in Hyde Park, stabbed with a hatpin in the shape of a heart, the police naturally assume the killer is the husband. Our intrepid heroine is not about to allow her love to go down for a crime he didn’t commit. Unfortunately, proving him innocent may put her own neck on the line.

Never one to shirk from danger, Lady R—with the help of her eccentric Aunt Butty—will need all her wits about her if she’s to solve the crimes of the Cupid Killer.

Enjoy the glitz and glamor of the 1930s with the sixth book in the popular 1930s historical mystery series, Lady Rample Mysteries.

Moonshine Valetnine by Tegan MaherMoonshine Valentine by Tegan Maher:

It’s Valentine’s Day, and Noelle has no idea what to get for Hunter. While she’s getting her hair cut and tossing around gift ideas, Coralee’s long-term boyfriend pops in and declares his undying love via a marriage proposal, breaking rule numero uno of their relationship clause.

He’s only the first to fall, though. When the men of Keyhole Lake start acting like lovesick lunatics, Noelle and Rae have to put their heads together to figure out what happened before the whole town goes loopy in love, or someone ends up in jail.

This story falls in between book 4, Murder and Mayhem, and Book 5, Murder and Marinade, in the Witches of Keyhole Lake Mystery Series.

Heart Attack by Terri MainHeart Attack by Terri Main:

When Smelling Roses, Watch Out for the Thorns

Strange things are happening in Armstrong City right before St. Valentine’s Day. Several women who found roses on their doorstep passed out inexplicably. Carolyn and Mike must figure out how this happened, who is doing it, and why?

A fun little mystery for the holiday of love.

 

Sweet Hearts by Connie SheltonSweet Heart by Connie Shelton:

Will there be Valentine wedding bells for Samantha Sweet and Beau Cardwell? (introduced in this mystery series opener Sweet Masterpiece) Sam’s bakery, Sweet’s Sweets is busier than ever this Valentine week, as she struggles to replicate the magical chocolate-making techniques of the enigmatic chocolatier who boosted her winter holiday sales into the stratosphere. However, candy classes take second place to a new mystery, when Sam meets a woman whose missing son’s case seems to have been dropped by the authorities. Marla Fresques learns that she is dying and needs for her son to come home and raise the daughter he left behind. Sam agrees to help, hoping that Sheriff Beau’s inside connections will bring about a quick and happy resolution.

But what about Sam’s and Beau’s own wedding plans? They may be in jeopardy when an entirely new development appears in the form of Beau’s ex-girlfriend who is determined to win him back.

With the familiar mix of mystery, romance and a touch of magic that has enchanted readers of this series, Sweet Hearts draws the reader even further into the captivating world of Samantha Sweet.

My Wicked Valentine by Lotta SmithMy Wicked Valentine by Lotta Smith:

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner… Love is in the air and so are the ghosts!

When Rick’s old friend, up-and-coming celeb psychic Brian Powers is accused of murdering an esthetician at a luxe gentlemen-only spa, Mandy’s cozy afternoon at home goes from cookie-baking to crime solving.

With baby Sophie and ghost-pal Jackie in tow, Mandy and Rick take to haunting the spa where the facials are fab and the intrigue is high-end.

Every suspect has a secret, but who’s willing to kill to keep theirs under wraps? [Seaweed wraps, that is.] Find out in this dangerously funny installment of the Manhattan Mystery series.

The Draed Arrow by Grigor WeeksThe Dread Arrow by Grigor Weeks:

Dark Space is strange, and so are the hitmen who live there. Strap in sweetheart. Love never hurt so good.

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine's Blizzard Murder by Linnea WestValentine’s Bizzard Mystery by Linnea West:

When a minor celebrity staying at the Shady Lake Bed and Breakfast dies of an allergic reaction during a blizzard, it doesn’t seem like it could get much worse. But was it really an accident?

Jake Crawford is a D list celebrity who loves to come back to Shady Lake to be the big fish in a small pond. This time, he brought his new wife back to Shady Lake for his honeymoon and they are staying at the bed and breakfast that Tessa Schmidt helps her family run. Jake is kind of a jerk, but then a blizzard hits and he dies of an allergic reaction. It seems like things couldn’t get any worse for a Valentine’s Day weekend. But Tessa is starting to suspect that the allergic reaction isn’t the horrible accident she had assumed.

As the blizzard stretches on and on, secrets keep coming out. It seems like almost everyone has a motive to kill Jake. Can Tessa figure out who wanted to kill Jake Crawford before the killer strikes again?

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A Science Fiction Promo and Richard Blakemore blogs

Blast Off with Sci Fi promo image

Today, I have two brief announcements to make. The first is an announcement for a science fiction cross promo at StoryOrigins.

What is StoryOrigins, you ask. StoryOrigins is a new service for free e-book giveaways. One of those is the Blast off with Sci Fi giveaway organised by C. Gockel.

You can get 18 science fiction e-books for free, including one of mine, if you enter your e-mail address and sign up for the respective authors’ newsletters. Just click the link below:

Blast off with Sci Fi
February 1 to March 17, 2019

***

In other news, Richard Blakemore, protagonist of the Silencer series, has started blogging.

How can he blog, when he’s fictional and lives in the 1930s, long before computers and blogs were a thing? Well, that’s the magic of the Internet.

You can find Richard’s blog here. So far, there isn’t a lot of content over there, just a brief introductory post as well as a repost of a “Meet My Character” feature about Richard I did in 2015, with some asides and comments from Richard himself (he wishes to make it very clear that he is not the Silencer). But there is more coming, since Richard just dipped his toes into the sword and sorcery waters.

Coincidentally, Richard Blakemore has also acquired an Amazon Author Central page, which was a lot more difficult to set up than I assumed, as well as a Books2Read page, which was a bit easier to set up.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for January 2019

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

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, historical fantasy, Asian fantasy, military fantasy, fantasy romance, paranormal romance, paranormal mystery, space opera, military science fiction, science fiction romance, science fantasy, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, horror, witches, ghosts, dragons, demons, elves, mages, robots, necromancers, alien invasions, cosmic junkyards, space marines, alien warlords, prison planets, rogue AIs and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

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

And now on to the books without further ado:

The Flood Dragon's Sacrifice by Sarah AshThe Flood Dragon’s Sacrifice by Sarah Ash:

Two rival clans. Two sacred pearls, the Tide Jewels, that can summon the Tide Dragons to protect the empire.

Two young men, Kaito and Naoki, one a Black Crane healer, the other a Red Kite shinobi, are sucked into an ancient, unresolved conflict between the gods of land and sea, when the exiled Red Kites steal the Tide Jewels and re-ignite a bitter clan war. Kaito must find a way to restore the emperor’s jewels – but how can it be done without betraying his own clan or angering the gods?

 

Bramble and Blood by Ashley BeasleyBramble and Blood by Ashley Beasley:

Welcome to St. Louis, home to mythological creatures, magic beings, and necromancer Eve Williams -expert on death and disappointment.

Especially disappointment since being fired from a prestigious job a with the Druid Brotherhood – the elite law enforcement of the magical community and the only family she’s ever known.

Now Eve’s left the magic community behind – except for her pain in the ass best friend who happens to be a witch – and she spends her time working for humans answering questions the faithfully departed left unanswered and avoiding the druids at all costs.

When a client asks for help to find a missing sister, Eve doesn’t see the harm in taking the unusual case – until her investigation uncovers the ritualistic murders of her fellow necromancers tied to the missing woman. Eve is reluctant to ask the druids for help but when an attempt is made on her own life, it forces her to work with the Druid’s Enforcer – a man who most in the magical community see as an assassin.

As onetime antagonists become hesitant allies while trying to find the killer, Eve finds herself knee-deep in sword-wielding druids, death magic, and psychotic witches.

Junkyard by Lindsay BurokerJunkyard by Lindsay Buroker:

McCall Richter works as a skip tracer, tracking down criminals, con men, and people who stop making payments on their fancy new spaceships.

Her job description says nothing about locating vast quantities of stolen maple syrup, but thanks to her helpful new android employee, she finds herself tramping through a “sugar house” on a frosty moon full of suspicious characters. The only witness to the crime? The junkyard dog next door.

Junkyard is a stand-alone novella set two years before Fractured Stars.

Shattered Prisons by D. Glenn CaseyShattered Prisons by D. Glenn Casey:

Julie is just an easy-going artist, who loves to paint pretty pictures and go for walks in the woods. Then, her grandmother dies and leaves her the house and she finds out there are secrets buried behind its walls.

Ripped out of a quiet life of art, she finds she is the centerpiece in a war that’s been going on since the beginning of time and like it or not, she is going to have to follow in her grandmother’s and mother’s footsteps. Whether or not she believes in other-worldly demons and evil, they believe in her and they will use any weapon they can to draw her out, including threatening those she loves.

Jump into the battle between good and evil with both feet and hold on. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Voice of Command by Melanie CellierVoice of Command by Melanie Cellier:

Elena has found the power in her voice—now she must decide how to use it

Finally accepted as a mage, Elena struggles with her commonborn roots. And when disaster strikes the kingdom, she can’t shrug off the death toll as the mageborn have always done. Yet the limitations of her spoken magic hold her back—both in saving lives among the people and in competitions in the Academy’s arena.

In desperation she turns to an unlikely source of assistance—Prince Lucas. But just as she begins to master her powers, she finds herself the pawn of stronger forces.

With everything she’s struggled for almost within her grasp, she must decide what—and who—is worth sacrificing to come into her full power and take her place among the mages.

Marine by Joshua DalzelleMarine by Joshua Dalzelle:

Aliens exist… and, as it turns out, most of them aren’t that friendly.

Jacob Brown wasn’t even born yet the first time they attacked Earth.
He was only fourteen the second time it happened.

When Earth finally came together and fielded its first spaceborne military, Jacob didn’t hesitate to volunteer. Serving aboard a mighty starship, he’d be able to defend his planet—and his family—when, inevitably, they came again.

Just as he’s about to graduate training, however, Jacob is approached by an officer from Naval Special Operation Command and given a choice: volunteer for a risky mission to a dangerous, lawless world, or give up his dream of serving in the military and go home. He has no idea why he’s being singled out in such an unusual manner, but now it’s either agree to their demands or give up his dream of being on a starship.

Soon, getting his career back on the right track will be the least of his concerns when it seems like everyone—and everything—he meets is trying to kill him. When he stumbles upon a secret most people on Earth are blissfully unaware of he realizes it’s not just the aliens he needs to be worried about.

Mindspace Infiltration by A.K. DuBoffMindspace: Infiltration by A.K. DuBoff

Prevent a stellar civil war… or die trying.

When Captain Kira Elsar comes face-to-face with a military assault mech inside a civilian research lab, it’s abundantly clear that MTech is up to no good.

Illegal alien nanotech experimentation. Clandestine political dealings. Disappearances. Connections all trace back to MTech’s newest research lab on Kira’s homeworld.

As the Tararian Guard’s sole telepath, Kira goes undercover to get to the bottom of the mystery. Hints point to a brewing stellar civil war, but she needs to gather proof. Except, the mysterious forces behind the conflict already have their own plans for Kira that will change her life forever.

Set in the internationally bestselling Cadicle space opera universe, the standalone Mindspace series is perfect for fans of sci-fi with superhuman abilities, political intrigue, military action, and devious aliens.

Destruction by M.R. ForbesDestruction by M.R. Forbes:

The Deliverance isn’t alone.

That’s not a surprise. The planet was chosen for a reason.

But the situation is more dire than Caleb ever imagined. The enemy he’s encountered isn’t the enemy he was seeking, and the conflict is expanding in ways he can barely conceive.

Taken prisoner by an opponent both familiar and foreign, he’ll have to prove himself one more time…

Or watch everything he’s fought so hard to protect be destroyed.

Destruction is the fourth book in the Forgotten Colony series.

The Demon Soul Invasion by C. GoldThe Demon Soul Invasion by C. Gold:

A summons gone very wrong, a demon lord bent on worldwide destruction, and a hated enemy turned temporary ally make this necromancer’s day a complete nightmare.

When a warlock calls asking for help, Marcus Blackmoor hangs up. After all, everyone knows the only good warlock is one who was never born. They murdered his parents, so this one can rot in prison where he belongs. But Marcus gets dragged into the investigation anyway since a soul needs interrogating and he’s the right necromancer for the job.

Except, all the souls have gone missing and there’s a terrible evil invading the spirit realm. It will take the combined help of his ghostly best friend, the warlock, and a kick butt fire mage to find the vengeful demon lord and banish him before he raises an army the likes of which has never been seen.

Touch of Eon by Anna HackettTouch of Eon by Anna Hackett:

She’ll do anything to free her sister and save the Earth from invasion, even if she’s blackmailed into stealing sacred alien artifacts…and becomes the prey of the dark, deadly warrior sent to hunt her down.

Special Forces Space Marine Lara Traynor wants to save her sister and her planet from annihilation by the deadly insectoid Kantos. Earth’s Space Corps give her one option: steal three gems sacred to the Eon Warriors. Lara has never failed a mission and she doesn’t plan to start now. What she doesn’t expect is the big, hard-bodied warrior the Eon sent to stop her.

Security Commander Caze Vann-Jad was born and raised to be the best Eon warrior in the empire. Honed by the military academy, his years as a stealth agent, and by his hard warrior father, he has never failed. He knows one weak, inferior Terran is no match for him. But when he finds himself face to face with the tough, skilled Lara, he realizes he’s underestimated the female warrior.

When they are attacked by a Kantos kill squad, it soon becomes clear that the Kantos are planning something far darker and dangerous. Caze and Lara are forced to change their dangerous battle of wits and skill into a fierce battle for survival. Neither of these fighters believe in love, but on the trail of a stolen gem, they will ignite an unstoppable desire, and discover that not only are their lives at stake, but their hearts as well.

The Serpent Waits by Bill HiattThe Serpent Waits by Bill Hiatt:

Amy Monroe’s journalistic instincts told her something was wrong in Santa Brígida. The town had too many strange disappearances, mental breakdowns, and bizarre weather patterns. Yet none of these anomalies got much press coverage, let alone serious investigation.

Planning to write a career-making expose, Amy goes to Santa Brígida undercover to find out the truth. She suspects clandestine scientific experiments, but from the moment a key source disappears—together with the motel in which she met him—she realizes that what’s really happening may be stranger than she could ever imagine.

Striving relentlessly to uncover secrets, Amy runs the risk of discovering the truth—that some secrets should stay buried.

No Man Can Tame by Miranda HonfleurNo Man Can Tame by Miranda Honfleur:

A human princess. A dark-elf prince. A kiss of fire and powder.

After a failed courtship in an ally kingdom, twenty-one-year-old Princess Alessandra returns home to a land torn apart by mutual hatred between the humans and the dark-elves. The “Beast Princess,” as Aless is known by courtiers, confidently sets her mind to ways of making peace, but her father has already decided for her: she is to marry one of the mysterious and monstrous dark-elves to forge a treaty, and go on a Royal Progress across the kingdom to flaunt their harmonious union. While she intends to preserve the peace, the Beast Princess has plans of her own.

Prince Veron has been raised knowing his life is not his own, but to be bargained away by his mother, the queen of Nozva Rozkveta, to strengthen the dark-elf queendom. When his mother tells him he is to marry a self-absorbed, vile human, he is determined to do his duty regardless of his personal feelings. After arriving at the human capital, he finds the “Beast Princess” rebellious and untamed—and not to be trusted.

Aless and Veron face opposition at every turn, with humans and dark-elves alike opposing the union violently, as well as their own feelings of dissonance toward each other. Can two people from cultures that despise one another fall in love? Can a marriage between them bond two opposing worlds together, or will it tear them apart for good?

Peace Maker by Isaac HookePeace Maker by Isaac Hooke:

Jain, a former SEAL whose mind is now the AI core of an advanced alien warship, has agreed to broker peace between humanity and the extraterrestrial race known as the Mimics.

Unfortunately, a new breed of alien has decided to crash the party. These newcomers, part of the hostile Link empire, aren’t very happy humanity is trying to coax a former member species into signing a treaty.

Jain and the Void Warriors have to fight off this new threat while struggling to salvage the smoldering ruins of the peace talks. Things certainly don’t look good, not just for themselves, but humanity: if they can’t secure allies against the Link, Earth will eventually be crushed.

Some days, having your mind stored in the AI core of a starship just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Rift by Nathan HystadRift by Nathan Hystad:

They’ve watched us for centuries through the Rift.

They’ve prepared.

Invasion is inevitable.

The Earth Fleet has known of the Watchers for years, unwilling to share the knowledge with humanity. Now it might be too late.

Hidden away from the Fleet, one man is creating a new colony ship destined for the other side of the Rift, but he’s missing a few pieces.

Three other people have varied paths to get there. Ace goes from the streets of Earth to the Fleet training facility on the moon. Flint, an ex-Fleet pilot, must decide if a job is worth his life, and Wren, imprisoned for a secret project years ago, is given hope as an unlikely ally whispers words of escape in her ear.

Their journeys lead to Councilman Jarden Fairbanks, who knows of the impending invasion, and has prepared. All they can do is wait for the Rift to open once again, and see what’s on the other side.

Rift joins an ensemble cast facing immeasurable obstacles. If you enjoy space battles, prison breaks, androids, and aliens, buried under a shroud of mystery, this book is for you. Try it today!

Not an Elf by Madeline KirbyNot an Elf by Madeline Kirby:

It’s Jake and Boo’s first Christmas together, and they’re heading to Waxahachie to spend it with Petreski’s family. As if meeting your boyfriend’s parents isn’t nerve-wracking enough, there’s also a mob of siblings, a town full of gossips, trouble with a holiday display, and someone’s been sending poison pen letters to the local priest. Oh, and the pie is a bit of a disappointment.

In a house full of Cats, the nights are anything but silent, and it’s not long before Jake is convinced the Petreski family home is haunted. The truth, though, may be even stranger.

Who said small town life was boring?

Now with extra chocolate and nuts! And an elf.

Game Changers of the ApocalypseGame Changers of the Apocalypse by Mark Kirkbride:

It’s always the end of the world when you break up with someone. This time it really is… Everyone on the planet has mysteriously disappeared, leaving exes Greg and Polly. They’ve survived the apocalypse, yet shouldn’t have. Battling each other and a malevolent entity that teases them with their fate, how long can they remain ahead? Even more terrifying than everyone else on the planet disappearing is what’s about to take their place…

 

Kragyn by Clarissa LakeKragyn by Clarissa Lake:

The war was over, yet the Sargans came and bombed his world to ruin…

They stole his life by making him a slave, but Kragyn Vermaktu was no slave!
He was a Farseek Warrior. His rebellion landed him on Julconi Prison Planet…
No guards, no rules…

A place where strength meant survival…

Stolen from Earth, sold as a slave Reanne Winter is forced to kill or be killed…
Earning her a one-way trip to Julconi…
Terrified by a mob of males outside the gate, she was sure she would be raped and killed before the day ended…

Enter Kragyn…

He calls her solmatu and offers to get her to safety.
A shock of attraction flashes between them as soon as they touch…

She knows she won’t get a better offer.

Can the passion that burns between them grow into the legendary solmatu bond?

Or is it just a symbiotic relationship born of the need to survive?

Freaky Deaky Tiki by Amanda M. LeeFreaky Deaky Tiki by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter is learning about life, love … and being a witch.She has a hot and hunky boyfriend, new friends, and family she didn’t know existed until recently.Her plate is full.Life gets even busier when a Detroit grim reaper named Aisling Grimlock hits Moonstone Bay for her honeymoon. Aisling is loud, brash … and pregnant. Unfortunately, she’s not one of those women who gets happy and develops a glow at the notion of a new baby.When a body turns up on the docks, Hadley decides to help her boyfriend Galen investigate. All she knows for certain is that the murder looks ritual thanks to the tiki mask left behind … and the gaping wound in his chest.Since she’s bored and limited, Aisling latches on to Hadley and volunteers to help. That means zipping around the island and investigating the local cult that lives in the forest.Aisling has specific ideas about what should be done. Hadley has her own ideas. And Galen wants them both to steer clear of his investigation.Things are bound to collide … and they do in spectacular fashion.What happens when Detroit’s mouthiest reaper and Moonstone Bay’s newest witch collide? You’re about to find out.The stakes are high, death is in the air … and a few more secrets are about to be unveiled. Strap in, because things are about to get freaky.

Company of Strangers by Melissa McShaneCompany of Strangers by Melissa McShane:

The wizard Sienne hopes to make a name for herself as a scrapper—someone who scours the ruins of the Empty Lands for treasure and lost magical artifacts. But first she must find someone willing to take a chance on a desperate beginner.

When Sienne finally catches a break, she becomes part of a ragtag group of adventurers—a desperate scrapper named Dianthe, her wizard-hating partner Alaric, the drunk priest Perrin, and a young fighter named Kalanath.

But finding the treasure proves only the beginning. They must learn to work together as a team. Their very survival may depend on it.

An epic adventure of daring quests, second chances, and the power of friendship.

Realm Source by Vincent B. MoneymakerRealm Source by Vincent B. Moneymaker:

Are there places beyond heaven and depths below hell? Explore the boundaries of existence by travelling worlds beyond measure in a story beyond belief where universes are born and die but a father’s love for his child lasts forever.

 

 

 

 

War-Sworn by Aaaron D. SchneiderWar-Sworn by Aaron D. Schneider:

Broken people with sharp edges can carve their own destiny.

Luce isn’t just hurt, he’s broken and he’s not alone.

The Twilit Kingdom is in flames as the Gythraul Legions play out their death throes across the vulnerable countryside, while Queen Meabh turns her attentions to dissidents at Mount Falchrreg. An ancient and long-absent power returns––shaken and confused––while an elder evil seeks to realize an apocalyptic vision.

Luce still hasn’t picked up all the pieces, but Armageddon waits for no man, so its back into the meat-grinder with his ragtag crew. They’ve got gambits to dare, prophecies to fulfill, and sacrifices to make, with nothing but blood and fire ahead.

The fate of more than just the Twilit Kingdom hangs in the the balance, and Lieutenant Bollham is still grasping at the veil that hides the most terrible truths which underpin the erupting conflict. The truth, so long hidden, is about to ignite a fire that could burn all of Other-Realm to cinders and holocaust shadows. Times are desperate like never before and Luce is going to have to make some unlikely friends and even that might not be enough to save a world that isn’t even his own.

But you know what they say: what doesn’t kill you, only delays the inevitable.

Validated by Valentine's by Joynll SchultzValidated by Valentine’s by Joynell Schultz:

Ivory has the perfect man, from his microchip processor to his flesh-like exterior.

Ivory hated that she loved her Christmas gift this year. Her sister gave her the perfect humanoid companion, but there’s just one problem: he’ll never be able to say he loves her, no matter how much Ivory falls in love with him.

Was her dream man a present or a curse?

But when Ethan (Ivory’s Dream Droid) looks at her with those sweet blue eyes and secretly earns enough money to enter her in the city-wide bake-off, she realizes she doesn’t care. He’s hers. And that’s the best gift of all.

Ivory’s perfect world falls apart the closer she gets to the bake-off. It starts with a lost entry and Ethan having a few programming malfunctions, then she discovers someone’s deliberately sabotaging her. What started out to be a dream Valentine’s day, begins to turn into a nightmare. A large supportive family, a caring artificial companion, and the best cupcake recipe in the world might not be enough to uncover who’s setting Ivory up to fail.

Barriers by Patrick SkeltonBarriers by Patrick Skelton:

Nathan Gallagher’s life on post-solar-flare Earth just took a turn for the worse.

Barrier Administration has ordered his quadriplegic son to be euthanized at a hospital deep in the solar badlands. Nathan’s only hope is his father, a brilliant aerospace engineer working on an experimental device that would enable Ian to walk again. Only healthy individuals can remain citizens of Barrier cities, and his father’s invention would grant Ian the right to live and re-enter the safe confines of the Barriers.

There’s just one problem: Nathan’s father is missing.
Can Nathan locate him even while the government watches his every step? And if he does find his father in time, can he really help?

BARRIERS is a sci-fi thriller set in a dystopian future where Earth is under siege by the sun. The powers that be decide who gets protection under the Barriers…and who doesn’t.

Jane Bond by V.R. TapscottJane Bond by V.R. Tapscott:

Jane Bond was just a simple elementary school librarian.

But then her life got sidetracked by digging up the AI Pilot of a 140 million year old spacecraft.

Now, she’s running all over the world looking for spaceship parts, falling in and out of love and trying to keep her friends from thinking she’s crazy. Not only that, but the ship she’s helping to recover starts sounding more like the Death Star than the Millennium Falcon.

When did life get so complicated?

A fun read with Bond-style gadgets, action, adventure, an alien intelligence for a sidekick and a little romance thrown in for good measure.

Neron Skies by Kerry TaylorNeron Skies by Kerry Taylor:

Dominion has Nova’s face and Reena’s name—Cyrillius will use and kill them if they’re caught. But being on the run in space isn’t so bad, Nova’s always wanted a different life, and she’s got it now.

It started with a rumor, that the Bahiri still exist—peaceful worshipers of the Nero and Neron. After what happened on Korpillion, Valen told Nova to find them, and to stay away from him. So that’s where the wanted crew aboard The Corsair is headed, across the entire galaxy to the G sector. Nova wants answers about what she did and how it’s possible.

She’s in denial. About what she might be. About where her heart lies. She knows Valen Nero is a bad man, so why is he the only one who fills the hollowness in her chest? Why does she ask him to keep his promise: I will come for you, Nova. And when he does, she’ll learn the truth about him, and what happened to shape him into the man he is today.

A.I. Apocalypse by James David VictorA.I. Apocalypse by James David Victor:

One rogue Artificial Intelligence to rule us all

Captain Eliard Martin has found himself in an alternate universe ruled by Armcore’s rogue artificial intelligence. Eliard and his alternate crew must take back the galaxy and return things to normal or humanity will never be the same. Can he change the past to save the future?

A. I. Apocalypse is the eighth book in the exciting Valyien series. If you like fast-paced space adventure, the rogue crew of the Mercury Blade will keep you entertained for hours.

Imperius Wrecks by A.E. WilliamsImperius Wrecks by A.E. Williams:

A Satirical Peek at the Future

What does our future hold?

If the recent turmoil in the United States is any indication, the outlook is possibly grim.

This short-story by acclaimed science fiction author and raconteur A.E. Williams explores one possible outcome.

Williams puts his redoubtable wit to the task of describing just what we’re up against, from a potential oligarchy, to the devastation of Earth from global warming, surgical nuclear strikes and the sheer ego of one man.

This modern parable of political will drags you kicking and screaming into your worst nightmare – or, perhaps, your ultimate fantasy.

You will be stunned, then shocked, then awestruck at how possible this scenario seems.

Qunatum Contingency by R.K. YoungQuantum Contingency by R.K. Young:

Few possessions are worth risking your life over, but she’ll roll the dice for her space freighter.

Andromeda “Mia” Spire lost her late father’s ship—and her home—in a dirty game of pulsar poker, and now she’s pulling out all the stops to get it back. But her pay sucks, and there’s no way in all the stinking swamps of Mandoorum that she’ll have the money in time to save it. The loan sharks will tear it apart for scrap. And she’ll be next.

Enter Toras Zaru, an eccentric hermit with too much money and a unique collection that’s missing an important element. He’s paying big bucks for someone to fly across the galaxy and face almost-certain death to get it. The payout would solve all her problems—except another crew has beaten her to the punch.

Luckily for Mia, Zaru thinks she’s got the skills they need to get the job done. If she’s willing to help the crew, they’re willing to give her a lift and a share in the profits. But after years of fending for herself, Mia isn’t much of a team player. If she wants her father’s ship back, she’ll have to learn to trust the crew, or risk being thrown out of the nearest airlock.

And that’s just the beginning of her troubles.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for January 2019

Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

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

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have plenty of cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, craft mysteries, animal mysteries, historical mysteries, 1920s mysteries, Civil War mysteries, Medieval mysteries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, action thrillers, historical thrillers, pulp thrillers, horror thrillers, police procedurals, romantic suspense, private investigators, amateur sleuths, stalkers, serial killers, axe murderers, assassins, vigilantes, forgers, lawyers, blackmailers, troubled priests, slaves and those who hunt them, crime-busting witches, crime-busting cats, crime-busting geneologists, crime-busting literary agents, missing mistresses, overweight detectives, murder on the seaside, in country manors and in small towns, in Chicago, New Orleans, Upstate New York, Paris and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime 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:

Murder in the Shallows by Beth ByersMurder in the Shallows by Beth Byers:

Violet and Jack go for a simple day on the water. They little expect their day of sun and fun to end with finding a body in the water.

The mystery of what happened to the young man in the shallows posses them both, and they unite in their desire to find out more. Will they be able to discover why Jack’s one-time friend was killed? Who would have done this and why?

 

 

North Country Girl by Anthony DeCastroNorth Country Girl by Anthony DeCastro:

Voices from the past are best left there.

Myrtle Beach PI Fuzzy Koella knows this better than anyone.

But when his old teammate Jo Jo Bigtree calls about a young vagabond accused of murdering a nun, Fuzzy doesn’t heed that advice.

In the frigid landscape of Upstate New York, Fuzzy finds a town with a penchant for violence and dark secrets. An abusive high school hockey coach. A Voodoo doctor. A corrupt Tribal Sheriff. Even his own friend and the good Sister, herself.

As the temperature drops and the body count rises, Fuzzy questions the wisdom of sticking around to catch another bullet. Or worse, freezing to death. But a scared kid sits in jail that nobody seems to care about except Fuzzy.

Fuzzy Koella returns in his second, exciting adventure. If you love witty detective novels with a dose of hard-boiled action, you won’t want to miss North Country Girl.

Damned by Jana DeLeonDamned by Jana DeLeon:

When young priest Nicolas Chatry took his vows, he thought the hardest thing he’d have to deal with was accomplishing his duties from a wheelchair. Until a murderer steps into the confessional. Unable to recognize the voice or maneuver quickly enough to get a look at the killer, Nicolas has no way of identifying who admitted to such a horrific deed. And even if he did, his vows prevent him from telling anyone about it.

Unable to live with the knowledge that a predator is walking the streets of New Orleans, Nicolas breaks his vows and hires Shaye to do the impossible—find the killer before he strikes again.

The Missing Mistress by Thomas FinchamThe Missing Mistress by Thomas Fincham:

What happened to Lana Anderson?

One beautiful morning, David Becker, a respected lawyer, jumps off an overpass and onto incoming traffic. Detective Dana Fisher and Detective Greg Holt are tasked to find out why Becker decided to kill himself in such a public manner. Before they could begin their investigation, Fisher is pulled away from the case. Her brother, Casey, is in trouble and he needs her help.

Private Investigator Lee Callaway will finally get to spend the entire day with his daughter, Nina. But when Callaway finds out who the jumper is, he has no choice but to begin his own investigation.

To solve the mystery of Becker’s death, Callaway must find someone who has seemingly vanished into thin air.

I Blackmailed Her Brother by Jessica FrancesI Blackmailed Her Brother by Jessica Frances:

I blackmailed her brother, so she took my heart and held it ransom.

I made a mistake.
I did something unforgiveable.
I broke her trust.
I shattered the life we were building together.
And I hate myself for the pain I caused her.
But then someone thought they could threaten her,
Thought they could come after the woman I love.
They need to think again.
I am stronger than I have ever been before.
I am determined to win her back,
And no one is getting in my way.
Not our friends.
Not her family.
And definitely not the crazy maniac who is after her.
I will protect her.
I will salvage what we had,
And I will make us stronger because of it.
Not every relationship can be built on solid ground,
And maybe betrayal and blackmail might not make for a great foundation,
But then again, as some people say: there is nothing quite like love at first … crime.

The Asylum by Nathan Dylan GoodwinThe Asylum by Nathan Dylan Goodwin:

The job presented to forensic genealogist, Morton Farrier, ought to have been simple and easy. But the surprise discovery of an additional marriage to his client’s father leads Morton on an enquiry, revolving around a mysterious death in the county asylum. Requiring his various investigative genealogical skills, Morton must work to unravel this complex eighty-year-old secret and finally reveal the truth to his client.

This is the first story in the Morton Farrier genealogical crime mystery series.

The Fat Detective by Christian HayesThe Fat Detective by Christian Hayes:

Private Detective For Hire. No Previous Experience.

Eugene Blake’s quit his job to become an old-fashioned private eye. He’s got everything he needs: a 1940s raincoat, a detective’s notebook and a little clicky pen.

When he meets the mysterious Melissa White she takes his breath away. Tasked with finding her missing husband, Eugene is drawn into the shadowy underworld of London and has to solve the dangerous puzzle of his very first case.

Once he’s been chased, punched and shot at, he wonders whether he should have stuck to his day job.

If you like your novels hardboiled you will love this funny, thrilling and very British twist on the private detective genre. The Fat Detective is the first book in the Eugene Blake trilogy by London novelist Christian Hayes.

Lie Like a Rug by Donna Huston MurrayLie Like a Rug by Donna Huston Murray:

While escorting Bryn Derwyn Academy’s most infamous student downtown to be scared straight by a Federal judge, Ginger Barnes is shocked to find her childhood babysitter, textile professor Charlie Finnemeyer, on trial for fraudulently aging an Oriental rug. Even more alarming, Gin learns that two witnesses against her beloved “Uncle Wunk” suffered suspiciously convenient heart attacks.

Eager to assist the professor’s attorney, the veteran amateur sleuth pries secret information from a university president and uncovers past transgressions of a TV craft show host—all while acquiring an overnight education in early American textiles from experts at Winterthur and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Others guilty of questionable behavior: two antique dealers, and Charlie’s overprotective wife.

Still, damning evidence can’t be swept under a rug. Before Gin can persuade anyone else that Charlie is innocent, she must first convince herself.

A Dead Market by CeeCee JamesA Dead Market by CeeCee James:

Stella O’Neil finally has her first listing! A cute cabin with a gorgeous lake on eighty acres of breathtaking land. There’s just one tiny problem: the body floating in the lake.

If that weren’t unsettling enough, her phone rings off the hook with hundreds of potential buyers. In fact, the property is overrun with them! Stella digs out the truth that the lake is the obscure clue in an old legend that has been solved on the Internet.

But if only her troubles stopped there. She runs into one buyer who won’t take no for an answer. He seems to have way too much personal information about Stella herself, but the police refuse to take the threat seriously. As mishaps continue to develop, she is certain that she being hunted by someone with some sort of grudge against her.

Stella has to solve the murder and figure out the riddle so she can untangle herself from this legal and personal mess… before things go too far.

Billette Hall by D.L. JonesBillette Hall by D.L. Jones:

Southern United States of America, 1858.

A slave auction goes wrong leaving a group of slaves, that were meant to be sold to Billette Hall, in the hands of a cruel slave master. That sale left slaves separated from their loved ones and family members. Marion’s life changes when Master Jesse of Billette Hall Plantation summons her into his quarters for an important task. She must sneak into the auction grounds and help the displaced slaves escape. Those slaves are to be brought safely to Billette Hall.

Armed with a Revolver and a single shot, Marion, the 15-year-old slave girl, must lead the displaced slaves on a 4-day trek through the wilderness to safety. The trek is harrowing and filled with danger as they are forced to avoid bounty hunters, slave catchers and their dogs.

Making matters worse, Marion and the rest of the escaped slaves soon discover that there are nightmares more frightening than the slavers. They are being hunted! A strange unknown man, covered in mud and wielding an axe, stalks them. Everyone who has crossed his path is dead. Marion and her tiny group of frightened men and women will suffer the same fate unless they can rise above their fear.

Billette Hall is the horrifyingly new American Slavery thriller by DL Jones

A Literal Mess by J.C. KenneyA Literal Mess by J.C. Kenney:

The first book in a new series featuring Allie Cobb brings the New York literary agent back to her Hoosier home town where a mysterious death keeps everyone on spoiler alert . . .

Allie Cobb left home for the literary circles of Manhattan to make her name out from under the shadow of her legendary father. Now his death brings her and her rescue cat Ursula back to the southern Indiana town of Rushing Creek, population: 3,216. But a tragic new chapter hits the presses when the body of her father’s hard-drinking, #1 bestselling client is found under the historic town bridge. The local police suspect foul play and their prime candidate for murder is the author’s daughter—Allie’s longtime friend.

Determined to clear her bestie, Allie goes into fact-checking amateur detective mode while trying to ignore the usual rumormongers. Those with means, motive, and opportunity include the vic’s ex-wife, his rejected girlfriend, the mayor, and a rival agent trying to mooch clients. With a rugged genealogist distracting her and the imminent Fall Festival about to send tourists descending on their once-peaceful hamlet, Allie needs to stay alive long enough to get a read on a killer ready to close the book on a new victim: Allie . . .

Not an Elf by Madeline KirbyNot an Elf by Madeline Kirby:

It’s Jake and Boo’s first Christmas together, and they’re heading to Waxahachie to spend it with Petreski’s family. As if meeting your boyfriend’s parents isn’t nerve-wracking enough, there’s also a mob of siblings, a town full of gossips, trouble with a holiday display, and someone’s been sending poison pen letters to the local priest. Oh, and the pie is a bit of a disappointment.

In a house full of Cats, the nights are anything but silent, and it’s not long before Jake is convinced the Petreski family home is haunted. The truth, though, may be even stranger.

Who said small town life was boring?

Now with extra chocolate and nuts! And an elf.

Freaky Deaky Tiki by Amanda M. LeeFreaky Deaky Tiki by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter is learning about life, love … and being a witch.She has a hot and hunky boyfriend, new friends, and family she didn’t know existed until recently.Her plate is full.Life gets even busier when a Detroit grim reaper named Aisling Grimlock hits Moonstone Bay for her honeymoon. Aisling is loud, brash … and pregnant. Unfortunately, she’s not one of those women who gets happy and develops a glow at the notion of a new baby.When a body turns up on the docks, Hadley decides to help her boyfriend Galen investigate. All she knows for certain is that the murder looks ritual thanks to the tiki mask left behind … and the gaping wound in his chest.Since she’s bored and limited, Aisling latches on to Hadley and volunteers to help. That means zipping around the island and investigating the local cult that lives in the forest.Aisling has specific ideas about what should be done. Hadley has her own ideas. And Galen wants them both to steer clear of his investigation.Things are bound to collide … and they do in spectacular fashion.What happens when Detroit’s mouthiest reaper and Moonstone Bay’s newest witch collide? You’re about to find out.The stakes are high, death is in the air … and a few more secrets are about to be unveiled. Strap in, because things are about to get freaky.

The Charming Man by Lisa M. LillyThe Charming Man by Lisa M. Lilly:

A blizzard rages. A young woman goes missing. A killer hides in the dark corners of an aging apartment complex.

As Chicago’s worst blizzard on record rages, a close friend asks Quille to help find a missing young woman.

The search takes Quille to River City, an aging apartment complex once seen as the cutting edge of Chicago architecture. When a well-known former resident is killed, downed power lines and multi-car pileups block police from reaching the building.

To prevent more deaths and find the missing woman before it’s too late, Quille must track the killer herself….

Assassin by Eugene Lloyd MacRaeAssassin by Eugene Lloyd MacRae:

When those close to Merlin Arthur Dragon become targets of an assassin, he immediately springs into action, throwing caution to the wind to hunt down the perpetrator. But Interpol’s Stopper soon finds himself the target of a massive manhunt by his own organization. How did things become twisted so quickly? And why? What – and who – is behind the French Gendarmerie Nationale threatening to hunt him down and kill him? Unless Merlin can find the truth to those questions, death will be the final answer.

 

Until Proven Guilty by Rachel SinclairUntil Proven Guilty by Rachel Sinclair:

Damien’s back! And this time, the murder case hits way too close to home.

Damien’s mother, Olivia, is being charged with murder. At first glance, Damien thinks that the murder charge is flimsy at best. Olivia’s friend, Dr. Tracy Dunham, died at her home of an apparent drug overdose. Olivia insists that she was simply sitting in her home, minding her own business, when Dr. Dunham came over to crash on her couch. She found him dead the next day.

The prosecutor’s office, however, charges Olivia with murder. Their accusation is that Olivia gave Dr. Dunham a deadly dose of pure heroin, which is what killed him.

As Damien gets further into the case, he finds that nothing is what it seems. Somebody apparently wanted Dr. Dunham dead – but who? And why? Damien discovers the shocking conspiracy that is truly behind the man’s death, but he finds himself in a race against time to find the evidence to prove his mother’s innocence. If he can’t get to bottom of who wanted Dr. Dunham dead, then his mother will go to prison for the rest of her life.

True, he doesn’t get along with his foul-mouthed, drunk mother, but she’s still his mother.

In the meantime, he also has to deal with a son, Nate, who is on the brink. Nate is slipping away, and Damien feels helpless to stop his son’s destruction. Can he save him in time?

Murder in Broadstowe Manor by Jason VailMurder at Broadstowe Manor by Jason Vail:

The adherents of Simon de Montfort from Herefordshire gather at Hereford Castle to select the county’s delegates to a Parliament Montfort has summoned in order to solidify his control of the kingdom. But the celebrations are interrupted when one of those put forward as a delegate, Sir Rogier FitzHerbert, is found hanged in his locked bedchamber alongside the body of a young man.The new coroner for the county rules the deaths a murder-suicide.But there are those who doubt that FitzHerbert could have murdered the young man and then hanged himself. And one of those faithful to the dead lord engages Stephen Attebrook to prove this was no suicide, but the cold-blooded murder of both.What looks like a routine murder inquiry, however, draws Stephen and his friends Gilbert Wistwode and Harry the carver into the game of shadows, for Montfort had sent the dead lord on a mission to the Welsh, bearing a letter with Montfort’s proposals for a secret alliance. Men would kill to get that letter, which went missing upon FitzHerbert’s death. Stephen finds himself in pursuit of that letter, for it seems to hold the key to the mystery.Stephen’s troubles pile up by leaps and bounds for he must dodge deputies sent after him by Sheriff Percival FitzAllan, who accuses Stephen of murder himself, and he delves deeply into Hereford’s underworld where death lurks in every alley and byway in his search for the truth. Murder at Broadstowe Manor is Stephen Attebrook’s most desperate adventure yet, for his life and fortune are at stake with his every step.

Louisa's Legacy by Rachel WrightLouisa’s Legacy by Rachel Wright:

When Maja Larsson learns that her father was murdered on a remote Pacific island eight years earlier, she embarks on a journey with lawyer Will Brownlie to find out what happened. It soon becomes clear that someone is trying to cover up the real story and as Will investigates, he realises their lives are in immediate danger. Jack Clayman, a skilled black-hat hacker, will stop at nothing to protect his secret, including killing anyone who gets too close.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for December 2018

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

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, cozy fantasy, grimdark fantasy, military fantasy, children’s fantasy, paranormal romance, paranormal mystery, space opera, military science fiction, science fiction romance, science fantasy, Steampunk, Cyberpunk, LitRPG, sword and sorcery, horror, non-fiction, time travel, a lot of holiday stories, vampires, witches, ghosts, dragons, robots, asteroid miners, space pirates, alien invasions, airships, enchanted swords, Krampuses, mermaids, tech mages, enslaved princes, valkyries and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

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

And now on to the books without further ado:

Minimum Wage Magic by Rachel AaaronMinimum Wage Magic by Rachel Aaron:

The DFZ, the metropolis formerly known as Detroit, is the world’s most magical city with a population of nine million and zero public safety laws. That’s a lot of mages, cybernetically enhanced chrome heads, and mythical beasties who die, get into debt, and otherwise fail to pay their rent. When they can’t pay their bills, their stuff gets sold to the highest bidder to cover the tab.

That’s when they call me. My name is Opal Yong-ae, and I’m a Cleaner: a freelance mage with an art history degree who’s employed by the DFZ to sort through the mountains of magical junk people leave behind. It’s not a pretty job, or a safe one–there’s a reason I wear bite-proof gloves–but when you’re deep in debt in a city where gods are real, dragons are traffic hazards, and buildings move around on their own, you don’t get to be picky about where your money comes from. You just have to make it work, even when the only thing of value in your latest repossessed apartment is the dead body of the mage who used to live there.

Fringe Legacy by Rachel AukesFringe Legacy by Rachel Aukes:

It’s a new age of heroes and sacrifices.

The colonies won their independence.
But they are not at peace.

New enemies come at the fragile Alliance of Free Colonies. Assassination attempts. Kidnappings. Murder.
When Aramis Reyne is nearly killed, he turns the tables and hunts the hunters. He learns things are not as they seem. When Critch disappears, he must make an impossible rescue.

If Reyne fails, the Alliance will fall. War will claim the colonies once again.
The race is on and time is running out.

Flights of Fancy: The Great Atlantic Run by Cameron Jon BernhardFlights of Fancy: The Great Atlantic Run by Cameron Jon Bernhard:

Join Captain Fancy and the crew of the Persephone as they take to the clouds in this riveting steampunk adventure.

The Great Atlantic Run is more than a passport to high-flying thrills and excitement; it’s a perilous two-day marathon over the ocean, where only the fast and strong survive. In a journey fraught with air pirates, rough weather and international spies, the risks are sky-high. The rewards, fame and fortune.

Take off on the voyage of a lifetime as you explore a grand world of flying ships, steam-powered machines, and incredible characters. Flights of Fancy is a fast-paced, unforgettable yarn as limitless and unpredictable as imagination itself.

The Bakery on Gloomland Street by Cora BuhlertThe Bakery on Gloomland Street by Cora Buhlert:

A legendary monster threatens Christmas…

It’s Christmas time in the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town of Hallowind Cove, which is also known as the “Harbour of the Weird”.

Rachel Hammersmith is new to Hallowind Cove and has recently taken over the bakery on Gloomland Street, after Marie Percht, the previous owner, retired.

However, Marie Percht didn’t tell Rachel everything, when she retired. She didn’t mention the fog, for starters, and she also didn’t mention that her bakery plays a vital role during the Christmas season and not just as a provider of holiday cookies either.

For the Krampus, a yuletide monster from alpine folklore, is coming to Hallowind Cove. And the only thing that can keep him from wrecking the town and ruining Christmas are pastries baked according to a secret recipe. Unfortunately, Rachel has no idea what the recipe is.

However, with the help of fellow newcomer Paul MacQuarie, Rachel will bake up a storm to pacify Krampus and save Christmas.

The Mermaid of Foghorn Point by Cora BuhlertThe Mermaid of Foghorn Point by Cora Buhlert:

The catch of the day at the Croaking Foghorn is not at all as expected…

Strange things keep happening in the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town of Hallowind Cove, earning it the nickname “Harbour of the Weird”.

Paul and Rachel’s date at The Croaking Foghorn pub is derailed, when it turns out that local fisherman Eddie Bramwell brought home no fish, but one hell of a story.

But Paul has one hell of a story of his own to tell and he’s not at all sure how Rachel will react.

This is a short story of 3400 words or approximately 12 pages in the Hallowind Cove series, but may be read as a standalone.

The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens by Cora BuhlertThe Standarounds of Twilight Gardens by Cora Buhlert:

Sinister shadows menace a family…

Strange things keep happening in the quirky little seaside town of Hallowind Cove, earning it the nickname “Harbour of the Weird”.

When the Hutchinson family buy the beautiful Beauregard mansion on Gloomland Street, they believe they’ve made the deal of a lifetime.

But unfortunately, no one told them about the fog that envelops Hallowind Cove for three hundred and forty days a year. Or about the mysterious shadows that stand around Twilight Gardens, staring at random houses…

This is a short story of 3300 words or approximately 14 pages in the Hallowind Cove series, but may be read as a standalone.

Dragon Tear by Lindsay BurokerDragon Tear by Lindsay Buroker:

Now that Jev is no longer obligated to marry a manipulative noblewoman, Zenia can finally pursue a relationship with him. But there’s something else she must deal with first. She’s learned that the magical dragon-tear gem she wears around her neck is linked to a living dragon, one that is being held prisoner and tortured.

Zenia owes her life several times over to the creature. She must set aside personal desires and lead a team to the distant and dangerous continent where the dragon is imprisoned.

But it took someone—or something—very powerful to capture such a great creature in the first place. Zenia, Jev, and their friends may not have the magic or might necessary to free their scaled ally. If they fail, the dragon will be enslaved forever by a cruel master, and Zenia and Jev may never see their homeland again.

Darker Days: A Collection of Dark Fiction by Kenneth W. CainDarker Days: A Collection of Dark Fiction by Kenneth W. Cain:

This collection of dark speculative tales will lead the reader on a roller coaster ride through the unknown, where things aren’t always what they seem.

Now that you’ve warmed by the embers, submerse in darker days.

The author of the short story collections These Old Tales, Fresh Cut Tales, and Embers presents Darker Days: A Collection of Dark Fiction. In his youth Cain developed a sense of wonderment owed in part to TV shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Now Cain seeks the same dark overtones in his writing.

There’s a little something for every reader within this collection. These 26 short speculative stories arise from a void, escaping shadows that ebb and weave through minds like worms, planting the larvae that live just under the skin, thriving upon fear. These are Cain’s darker days.

In this collection, Cain features stories from the Old West, of past lives and future days, the living and the dead, new and unique monsters as well as fresh takes on those of lore. Once more he tackles themes of loss and grief and the afterlife, always exploring the greater unknown. In “The Sanguine Wars,” Cain takes us to a future war where soldiers are made to endure the horrors of war. He explores the complexities of global warming and what lengths men and women alike sink to in “The Reassignment Project.” And, as often is the case, he ends on a lighter note, with “Lenny’s New Eyes” and “A Very Different Sort of Apocalypse.”

When the darkness comes, embrace it. Let it wrap you up in cold. Don’t worry, it’s not your time…yet.

Lasso by Mike CovilleLasso by Mike Coville:

A suspicious accident, a prized asteroid, and a game of politics to decide who rules the galaxy. Someone’s making a power play, but who?

Captain Greg Daniels of the DSM Boone is a handful of asteroids away from retiring when his plans are threatened by an explosion on his ship. With the risk of another more lethal attack, Greg must locate the source of the explosion or he’ll lose more than the priceless rock he just obtained – he’ll lose his life.

On the Lunar Community, Final Frontier Mining Director David Rivera has his sights set on become Prime Minister of the ISC. His hopes rest on ace miner, Daniels, bringing in the most profitable asteroid in the company’s history to keep himself in the spotlight. But when he discovers a conspiracy to destroy his company and put a stop to his political aspirations, David must hunt down his mysterious hacker while trying to save Greg, DSM Boone, and the asteroid it has secured.

One man fights for survival in deep space, another on the moon, but is there someone else pulling the strings of both? Only if they can work together, will they find the answers they need to survive.

Hunter's Terminus by Timothy EllisHunter’s Terminus by Timothy Ellis:

Tech and Magic must come together to survive!

Jon Hunter thinks he’s done enough. But since when did he get any say in the matter?

15,000 people, 4 main stations, and 15 large ships, somewhere in the galaxy, unexpectedly looking for a new start.

Jon sees himself as their protector, at least until his people build their own new society, without him in charge.

Thorn has been waiting for Jon Hunter for 82 years.

3100 years ago, Thorn had to save humanity. One week ago, Jon did save humanity. Just different groups.
Both have done the impossible. Both are tired. Both want out.

But in a galaxy newly restored to an older and much more dangerous configuration, just how much rest can either of these men get?

Especially when the three powers in the galaxy don’t want a fourth.

Is the galaxy’s crossroad, Hunter’s Terminus?

Krox Rises by Chris FoxKrox Rises by Chris Fox:

The Godswar Has Come Again

Nebiat has seized godhood, and now controls Krox, the most powerful elder god in the sector. Both Ternus and Shaya know she is coming, but their preparations cannot save them. She launches a strike at Ternus that cripples their home world, and shatters their fleets.

Voria desperately struggles to find a way to raise Shaya, or to rise as a goddess herself. She will do anything to oppose Nebiat, but fears it will not be enough.

Aran must confront the awful truth about the Skull of Xal, and make a deal with demons in order to gain the strength they so desperately need to overcome Krox.

And Nara must face the most awful choice of all. Will she murder the woman she most respects, or let the sector burn?

Possibilities narrow. Krox Rises. Shaya will fall.

Prince for Sale by Caroline GibsonPrince for Sale by Caroline Gibson:

Sold into slavery, saved by love

Vell once was a powerful sorcerer and a prince of Otharn. With his father and brother at his side, worlds fell at his feet. Now, he is a slave, cast out by his father, sold, used and abused. His rebellious brother’s desperate attempt to save him is his only hope for freedom, but first, he must go to Earth in chains.

David Thomen, scientist, inventor, defender of Earth, is living a lonely life with his inventions. Responsible for opening the gateway from Earth to Otharn, he must come to terms with his role as Vell’s newest owner and navigate the powerful forces of the joined worlds, who all seem to have an interest in Vell’s fate.

Joined by a magical binding which forces them into an intimate relationship against both their wills, can Vell and David learn to trust each other, find a way to break their bonds, and preserve the alliance of the worlds?

Note to readers: This is an MM Romance book for a mature audience, it contains dubious consent, memories of past rape, as well as consensual sex scenes. No graphic violence, mild descriptions of injuries.

The Scythian Crisis by J.J. GreenThe Scythian Crisis by J.J. Green:

Humanity’s last stand.

An attack by unknown aliens has devastated the Nova Fortuna colony. Its long-term survival seems impossible. But the colonists aren’t going down without a fight.

Ethan must prepare the Gens for their final battle. Geneticist Cariad must decide whether to reactivate the sinister Guardians to aid in the colony’s defense.

Earth is lost. The new world settlers are without hope. When the moment to decide humanity’s fate arrives, will they be ready?

The Scythian Crisis is book three in the compelling, provocative space colonization epic adventure, Space Colony One.

Ruby Heart by Donna Maree HansonRuby Heart by Donna Maree Hanson:

A book of manners, magic and mayhem.

Jemima Hardcastle has a sad history. After her father was murdered by a secret society of magicians, her guardian and new heir to Willow Park, Edward Huntington, packed her off to boarding school. In the four years she was there, she never saw him again until she escaped from school to a house party and there he was. He did not recognise her and he even flirted with her.

A disastrous kiss, a murder and a stolen jewel herald dire happenings. Jemima is shipped off to Willow Park in the care of Fulton, Edward’s man, to be under the chaperonage of the odious Aunt Prudence and the meek cousin, Milly. While avoiding stitching in the evenings, she discovers Edward’s scientific genius and the artificial leg he made for Fulton. Her esteem for Edward rises and she is actually looking forward to seeing him again when he does not arrive as planned.

When they realise Edward is abducted, Jemima schemes to go in rescue. She has cunning and she has money and with these she plunges herself and her companions into the world of dark sorcery and London shopping.

In London, Jemima and Fulton lead a double life as they search for Edward in the slums, manufactureys and even a bawdy house. When she final discovers Edward, her life is on the line.

While a vicious and bloody fight for survival is going on around him, Edward has to choose between saving her life or unleashing the unholy, vampiric beast Geneck on an unsuspecting London.

The Starfighter Invitation by Andrea K. HöstThe Starfighter Invitation by Andrea K. Höst:

The only thing bigger than the world’s first full virtual reality game is the mystery surrounding its origins. Who is behind Ryzonart Games? How was such a huge advance in technology achieved? Taia de Haas loves having her own virtual spaceship, and wants nothing more than to visit every planet in the solar system. But she cannot ignore the question of whether such a magnificent gift comes with strings attached. Is the game a trick, a trap, a subtle invasion? Or an opportunity to step up and fight for her own planet? Caught in a tangle of riddles and lies, Taia can’t resist trying to win answers from Ryzonart’s mysterious administrators. But will finding the truth cost her the Singularity Game?

Eternal Darkness by Marc JohnsonEternal Darkness by Marc Johnson:

The wizard Hellsfire is dead. Hellsfire is now an ordinary mortal, weakened and powerless. But two people are seeking him out: one wants to save him and one wants revenge.

Bryce is seeking retribution for the slaughter of his family. Running his blade through Hellsfire is the only way to fill the empty hole in his heart. He failed before. He won’t fail again.

Eager to explore her blossoming powers, Alyssa receives a vision from the gods telling her to go to Hellsfire. He may be the only one who can teach her to harness her magic. With no family ties, she’s ready to leave the only home she’s ever known to rescue a man she barely knows.

Hellsfire still has a crucial role to play in the fate of the realm—if he survives and remembers who he is. Will he regain his powers and his sense of purpose before it’s too late?

Swordheart by T. KingfisherSwordheart by T. Kingfisher:

Return to the world of Clockwork Boys in this all-new novel from T. Kingfisher!

Halla is a housekeeper who has suddenly inherited her great-uncle’s estate… and, unfortunately, his relatives. Sarkis is an immortal swordsman trapped in a prison of enchanted steel. When Halla draws the sword that imprisons him, Sarkis finds himself attempting to defend his new wielder against everything from bandits and roving inquisitors to her own in-laws… and the sword itself may prove to be the greatest threat of all…

The Megalodon Mix-Up by Amanda M. LeeThe Megalodon Mix-Up by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes’ life has taken a turn.

Not only is she working her dream job, but she’s also taken on a dreamy co-worker and is officially dating the office security chief.
Yeah, she’s still trying to wrap her head around it, too.

She doesn’t have much time because a high-profile incident in Florida means the team is on the hunt, and this time the likely culprit is none other than a prehistoric shark that’s been extinct for millions of years.

For Jack Hanson, the mere thought that a Megalodon is hunting the Gulf of Mexico waters is too much to bear. He’s on edge and irritated, and that’s on top of the fact that Legacy Foundation co-workers are starting to find out about his relationship with Charlie.

For her part, Charlie is enjoying herself. Not only is she looking for a giant shark, but she’s investigating in the middle of an author conference and the victim was the one person hated by absolutely everyone. She’s learning on the job … and it’s a tangled web of lies and intrigue to wade through.

There are suspects at every turn, blood in the water, and hungry sharks looking for a meal. It’s another fun-filled adventure, and the stakes in this one are graver than anybody anticipated.

Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space), edited by Catherine LundoffScourge of the Seas of Time (and Space), edited by Catherine Lundoff:

Think pirates are all about the rum and the pieces of eight? Let these fifteen tales draw you into the adventures of a new kind of pirate. Sail with them as they seek treasure, redemption, love, revenge and more. Raise the Jolly Roger and sharpen your cutlass (or recharge your raygun) and climb aboard for some unforgettable voyages. Featuring stories by Ginn Hale, A.J. Fitzwater, Geonn Cannon, Joyce Chng, Elliott Dunstan, Ashley Deng, Su Haddrell, Ed Grabianowski, Mharie West, Matisse Mozer, Soumya Sundar Mukherjee, Megan Arkenberg, Peter Golubock, Michael Merriam and Caroline Sciriha.

The Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona MarpleThe Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona Marple:

What if Father Christmas is on the naughty list?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Mystic Springs, but all is not still or calm with the department store Santa.

The amateur dramatics club is full of big egos and legends-in-their-own-heads, so their spats aren’t unusual. But when the theatre owner is shot dead during the Christmas play, it’s Santa who pulls the trigger.

With the arrival of an unwelcome ex, a petition to end Discrimination Against Spirits, and a second attack by St Nick, the chances of a quiet Christmas seem to be quickly disappearing.

Has Santa really gone bad? Or is there more to it?

Town medium Connie and her dead sister Sage are both avoiding their own festive conundrums. A mistletoe murder is just the distraction they need.

Phyllis Wong and the Vanishing Emeralds by Geoffrey McSkimmingPhyllis Wong and the Vanishing Emeralds by Geoffrey McSkimming:

When Phyllis Wong—that brilliant young magician and clever sleuth—happens upon a mystery from the past that has proved unsolvable, she knows she has to try to get to the bottom of it.

More than sixty years ago an astonishing emerald necklace owned by the famous pianist Isabella Beaufort seemingly vanished off the face of the earth! Ever since, the disappearance has stumped the police, detectives and those associated with the missing priceless jewels. How did the prized Flurtis Emeralds vanish? Where are they today? Is there any way they can be traced, after so many cobwebs have covered the case?

Another mysterious intrigue right up the alleyway of our favourite conjuring Transiter!

The sixth Phyllis Wong: Time Detective mystery.

Christmas in Silver Birch Valley by Lorri MoultonChristmas in Silver Birch Valley by Lorri Moulton:

A man spends the holidays in a small Northwestern town that may not be exactly what it seems…and rediscovers the true meaning of Christmas.

 

 

 

 

It's Alive: Bringing Your Nightmares to Life, edited by Joe Mynhardt and Eugene JohnsonIt’s Alive: Bringing You Nightmares to Life, edited by Joe Mynhardt and Eugene Johnson:

Nightmares come to life in this comprehensive how-to guide for new and established authors…

Book two in Crystal Lake Publishing’s The Dream Weaver series picks up where the Bram Stoker Award-nominated Where Nightmares Come From: The Art Of Storytelling In The Horror Genre left off.

It’s Alive: Bringing your Nightmares to Life focuses on learning the craft in order to take your story from concept to completion.

With an introduction by Richard Chizmar and cover art by Luke Spooner. Featuring interior artwork from horror master Clive Barker!

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction by Richard Chizmar
  • Confessions of a Professional Day Dreamer by Jonathan Maberry
  • What is Writing and Why Write Horror by John Skipp
  • Tribal Layers by Gene O’Neill
  • Bake That Cake: One Writer’s Method by Joe R. Lansdale and Kasey Lansdale
  • Ah-Ha: Beginning to End with Chuck Palahniuk and Michael Bailey (Discussing the Spark of Creativity)
  • They Grow in the Shadows: Exploring the Roots of a Horror Story by Todd Keisling
  • Sell Your Script, Keep Your Soul and Beware of Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing by Paul Moore
  • The Cult of Constraint (or To Outline or Not) by Yvonne Navarro
  • Zombies, Ghosts and Vampires?Oh My! by Kelli Owen
  • The Many Faces of Horror: Craft Techniques by Richard Thomas
  • Giving Meaning to the Macabre by Rachel Autumn Deering
  • The Horror Writer’s Ultimate Toolbox by Tim Waggoner
  • Sarah Pinborough Interview by Marie O’Regan
  • Conveying Character by F. Paul Wilson
  • Sympathetic Characters Taste Better: Creating Empathy in Horror Fiction by Brian Kirk
  • Virtue & Villainy: The Importance of Character by Kealan Patrick Burke
  • How to write Descriptions in a story by Mercedes Yardley
  • “Don’t Look Now, There’s a Head in That Box!” She Ejaculated Loudly (or Creating Effective Dialogue in Horror Fiction) by Elizabeth Massie
  • Point of View by Lisa Mannetti
  • What Came First the Monster or the Plot? In Conversation with Stephen Graham Jones by Vince A. Liaguno
  • Building Suspense by David Wellington
  • Conveying Horror by Ramsey Campbell
  • Unveiling Theme Through Plot: An Analysis of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark” by Stephanie M. Wytovich
  • Interview with Clive Barker by Tim Chizmar
  • World Building (Building a terrifying world) by Kevin J. Anderson
  • Speak Up: The Writer’s Voice by Robert Ford
  • Writing for a Better World by Christopher Golden
  • Shaping the Ideas: Getting Things from Your Head to the Paper or on Screen. Interview with Steve Niles, Mick Garris, Heather Graham, Mark Savage, and Maria Alexander by Del Howison
  • On Research by Bev Vincent
  • Editing Through Fear: Cutting and Stitching Stories by Jessica Marie Baumgartner
  • Leaping into the Abyss by Greg Chapman
  • Edit Your Anthology in Your Basement for Fun and Profit! . . . or Not by Tom Monteleone
  • When It’s Their World: Writing for the Themed Anthology by Lisa Morton
  • Roundtable Interview by John Palisano
  • The Tale of the Perfect Submissions by Jess Landry
  • Turning the Next Page: Getting Started with the Business of Writing by James Chambers

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Merry Happy Valkyrie by Tansy Rayner RobertsMerry Happy Valkyrie by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Norse myth and magic collides with a small town Tasmanian Christmas in this festive romantic fantasy!

Lief Fraser has mixed feelings about returning home to Matilda, the only Australian town where it always snows at Christmas. As a TV weather presenter, it’s her job to report on the strange holiday phenomenon… but as a local, it’s her duty to preserve Matilda’s many magical secrets.

Then pretty Audrey Astor rolls into town to shoot the ultimate romantic Australian Christmas movie with her film crew. Sparks fly, secrets unravel… and soon everyone will know exactly how Mt Valkyrie got its name.

“A sparkling holiday fantasy story full of deliciously fun characters and fabulous magic.” – Stephanie Burgis

Created for Christmas by Joynell SchultzCreated for Christmas by Joynell Schultz:

Need the perfect man? No problem—simply create him!

Ivy wanted nothing more for Christmas than to have someone to come home to…to have a companion to chat about her day with, and someone to show off at her family holiday celebrations.

This Christmas, she’s not going to be alone! Ivy decides to create her perfect companion at Dream Droids, the premier robotics company specializing in sentient humanoids. Ivy spends weeks with Dr. Pierce, creating her dream man, from his appearance, personality, and even his knowledge of her life.

There’s just a few problems: when a special gift she purchased for her father goes missing, and Dr. Pierce agrees to help her find it, she finds herself falling for him. After getting her heart stomped on by her ex-fiancé, there’s no way she can open it up again…besides, she just created the perfect man.

Finders by Melissa ScottFinders by Melissa Scott:

Cassilde Sam is a barely solvent salvage operator, hunting for relics in the ruins left by the mysterious Ancestors—particularly the color-coded Elements that power most of humanity’s current technology, including the ability to navigate through hyperspace. Cassilde is also steadily fading under the onslaught of Lightman’s, an incurable, inevitably fatal disease. She needs one last find big enough to leave a legacy for her partner and fellow salvor Dai Winter.

When their lover and former colleague Summerlad Ashe reappears, offering them a chance to salvage part of an orbiting palace that he claims contains potentially immense riches, Cassilde is desperate enough to take the gamble, even though Ashe had left them both to fight on the opposite side of the interplanetary war that only ended seven years ago. The find is everything Ashe promised. But when pirates attack the claim, Cassilde receives the rarest of the Ancestors’ Gifts: a change to her biochemistry that confers near-instant healing and seems to promise immortality.

But the change also drags her into an underworld where Gifts are traded in blood, and powerful Gifts bring equally powerful enemies. Hunted for her Gift and determined to find Gifts for her lovers, Cassilde discovers that an old enemy is searching for the greatest of the Ancestral artifacts: the power that the Ancestors created and were able to barely contain after it almost destroyed them, plunging humanity into the first Long Dark. Haunted by dream-visions of this power whispering its own version of what happened, Cassilde must find it first, before her enemy frees it to destroy her own civilization.

Death by Rosie ScottDeath by Rosie Scott:

Over the years of waging the War of Necromancers, Kai Sera has become known by many names. Mage of the Six Elements. Necromancer. God-Killer. Rebellion Leader. Liberator. War General. Goddess of Magic. Living Legend. Most importantly, Kai is the greatest asset of war that exists, and now her war is nearing its end.

Chairel is on the horizon. Kai’s home country has massive armies prepared to defend itself from her rebellion. Mortals and gods alike team up to put a stop to her intimidating advance, but Kai is not fazed. News of the final showdown brings unlikely supporters to Kai’s doorstep willing to bend their knee to her superior power, and her Seran Renegades collect the allies they’ve made over years of globe-trotting and war to face their foes head-on.

The greatest military in the world will come to a final bloody clash with the largest rebellion ever built. Both sides will suffer losses and heartbreak. The world and its occupants will be forever scarred. Kai started this war for political change and vengeance, and she will not relent until it is finished.

UnArcana Stars by Chris FoxUnarcana Stars by Glynn Stewart:

A humanitarian mission into unfriendly stars
A training cruise under the watch of a fortified fleet base
The closing jaws of a trap years in the making

It has been over a year since the UnArcana Worlds of the Protectorate of the Mage-King of Mars seceded, shattering the unity of the human race. The new Republic of Faith and Reason has raised new banners in defiance of the power of the Protectorate’s Mage aristocracy.

Now, Hand Damien Montgomery commands a relief mission to a Republic world ravaged by famine. His humanitarian mission collides with a newborn military beginning to flex its muscles–and a newborn nation prepared to accept no violations of its sovereignty, regardless of their needs.

Elsewhere, disaster strikes the Nia Kriti Fleet Base as an earthquake shatters their only communication with the rest of the Protectorate. Officer-in-training Roslyn Chambers is in the middle of the recovery effort when she realizes Nia Kriti is under attack.

The Republic is done with peace. They are coming for the Protectorate–and they will see the fleets of Mars break!

Elixirs and Elves by Astoria WrightElixirs and Elves by Astoria Wright:

The elves of Mount Vale are throwing a Christmas Party, and they’ve invited everyone! While the human residents of Moss Hill are excited to attend, many of the sidhe find the invitation beneath them. It’s no secret that they dislike mingling with non-faeries, but are they so hostile toward humans that one of them would commit murder? Carissa has never gotten along with the sidhe guard, but Varick of Vale has helped her on occasion. So, when he asks for her help after suspicion falls on him, it’s up to her to prove his innocence – if, that is, he isn’t guilty after all.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for December 2018

Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

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

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have plenty of cozy mysteries, holiday mysteries, small town mysteries, culinary mysteries, animal mysteries, historical mysteries, Victorian mysteries, Medieval mysteries, paranormal mysteries, YA mysteries, crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, spy thrillers, political thrillers, horror thrillers, police procedurals, romantic suspense, private investigators, amateur sleuths, hackers, human trafficking, serial killers, cannibals, spies, troubled boxers, suburban moms, missing children, crime-busting witches, crime-busting dogs, crime-busting bakers, crime-busting historians, murder in ski resorts and seaside towns, in coffee shops and country inns, in Russia, Denmark, Scotland and the Cotswolds and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime 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:

The Season for Slaying by Hillary AvisThe Season for Slaying by Hillary Avis:

All is quiet at the Pines and Needles Christmas Tree Farm. Too quiet.

It’s Christmas Eve, and Darla Cooper is merrily preparing for a family holiday when she witnesses a shocking murder in the woods.

Luckily, her son is a police detective. The problem? He doesn’t believe her—and the body is missing.

Darla must prove that a murder occurred, but she has no body, no witnesses, and no evidence except her own memory—which, to be honest, isn’t that great these days. Plus, she didn’t have her glasses on.

Join Darla as she hunts down a killer…just in time for Christmas.

The Season for Slaying is a short holiday cozy mystery story full of suspense, snowflakes, and sleighbells.

A Merry Murder at St. Bernard Cabins by Cindy BellA Merry Murder at St. Bernard Cabins by Cindy Bell:

A pet-loving sleuth. A perplexing murder. Will the murder be solved before the clues are buried forever?

Nikki Green is taking a break from walking and pet-sitting her loyal companions. She is going to a ski resort for the holidays for some quiet time with her family. To her delight her solo journey turns into a group excursion. However, the trip doesn’t go according to plan when Nikki lands up in the middle of a snowstorm.

Then things go from bad to worse when someone is murdered, and her brother is the prime suspect. With the roads impassable, and two inexperienced officers on the case, Nikki decides to take matters into her own hands and clear her brother’s name. She plows through a mountain of clues to reveal the truth before the snow melts and the murderer disappears forever.

It’s a slippery slope of suspects and danger as she goes hurtling towards the truth.

The Best Friend by Shalini BolandThe Best Friend by Shalini Boland:
‘I can tell we’re going to be the best of friends…’

When Louisa Sullivan takes her little boy to his first playdate at a new friend’s house she doesn’t realise life is about to change for her family. Because she’s about to meet Darcy Lane.

Darcy is a woman who has everything – a dream house, a powerful husband and enviable wealth.

She’s the perfect wife.

The perfect friend.

The perfect liar.

The Secrets of Palmerston House by Philippa Nefri ClarkThe Secrets of Palmerston House by Philippa Nefri Clark:

1853. A fateful game of poker changed the fortunes of two families forever. A home was lost. But what was left behind?

2018. The wedding of Christie Ryan and Martin Blake is only weeks away and River’s End is buzzing with excitement.

But when a stranger arrives at Palmerston House, a new mystery arises. How does he know so much about the Ryan family, and what do a nineteenth century diary, a grandfather clock, and an old key have in common?

As a dangerous plot unfolds, long hidden secrets threaten to change everything held dear to the town.

The Secrets of Palmerston House will sweep you on a journey to the past and back, where enduring friendships warm the heart, a sad goodbye brings a new start, and the power of true love shines.

Jingle Bells and Deadly Smells by Amber CreweJingle Bells and Deadly Smells by Amber Crewe:

“Each of the Sandy Bay mysteries are great! I think they just keep getting better.”

Christmas is that season…that season of pleasant surprises…delicious smells…and family and friends to share the holidays with.

This Christmas, Sandy Bay’s lovable bakery owner, Meghan Truman, gets a whole lot more than she bargained for…plus a dead body at the door of her favorite restaurant. Some people would rather sweep this murder under the carpet but something smells awfully fishy about the events surrounding it.

Will Meghan join Detective Irvin to find the murderer or will this event serve to etch unpleasant memories of this most wonderful time of the year?

Shamrock by Janie CrouchShamrock by Janie Crouch:

Every mission has a price.
He never meant for her to pay it.

Aiden has never left anyone behind. Not a comrade and certainly not an innocent. But when an undercover mission goes wrong, he’s forced to abandon a woman trapped in a human trafficking ring.

Violet learned brutally that no one is promised a happy ending. She knows Aiden blames himself for his part, but she refuses to let her abduction define the rest of her life.

She won’t be a victim again. And she’s going after what she wants: Aiden.

Watching Violet transform herself into a fierce warrior is the sexiest thing Aiden has ever seen. The honorable plan would be to stay away from her—let her heal and grow without the shadow of his mistakes clouding her progress—even though every instinct tells him to claim her for his own.

But when they discover the danger they thought they’d left behind is closer than ever, they’ll have to confront their fears and fight side-by-side in order to survive.

Twelve Days by Mark DawsonTwelve Days by Mark Dawson:

John Milton hasn’t seen Elijah Warriner for three years. The last time they met, Milton’s efforts to keep the boy safe didn’t go exactly to plan. Now Elijah is a promising boxer, preparing for the bout that will take him to the big time. Milton decides that he will spend the week before Christmas in London so that he can watch the fight.

But Elijah’s burgeoning fame has brought him to the attention of old acquaintances with long memories and grudges to bear. They have noticed Elijah, too, and decide that now is the time to settle old scores.

Can Milton keep the young man and his mother safe, or will Elijah’s old running mates get to him first?

Dead in the Shop by Dahlia DonovanDead in the Shop by Dahlia Donovan:

With love, wit, and a murder to solve, Valor and Bishan really need to stop life being so bloody complicated in this sweet gay romance.

Deadly fire? Check.

Fear-induced heart attack imminent? Check.

Time running out on them? Not good.

Valor Scott wants nothing more than to enjoy life in his little cottage with his boyfriend. The shadows of a serial killer continue to haunt him, though. He only wants the living nightmare to end. He battles one catastrophic event after the other, intent on bringing his loved ones through to the other side safely.

As their killer finally comes out into the open, Valor finds himself face-to-face with an obsessed murderer intent on destroying everyone in their path.

Trepalli's Christmas by Marcelle DubéTrepalli’s Christmas by Marcelle Dubé:

It’s Christmas eve day and Constable Marco Trepalli of the Mendenhall Police Department can’t wait to be off shift. He’s planning a big surprise for his girlfriend, Amanda. Something special. Something romantic.

Then a kid doesn’t return home after sledding and Trepalli forgets all about his plans in the mad scramble to mobilize search parties and interview the kid’s friends. And as hour after hour slips by with no sign of the boy, Trepalli braces himself for what could turn into the worst Christmas ever… for him and the kid’s family.

A Strange Twist of Fate by Debra ErfertA Strange Twist of Fate by Debra Erfert:

Gutsy, grieving Julianna is determined to find who murdered her husband. Hampered by agonizing loneliness, her obsessive-compulsive mother and her over-controlling father, she defies convention and the law to investigate on her own. When she runs up against a handsome police detective who’s determined to save Julianna from herself, she has to step up her rogue search for the killer before time, and dwindling leads, run out.

 

 

AntiAmerica by T.K. FalcoAntiAmerica by T.K. Falco:

AntiAmerica stands at the center of the largest US anarchist uprising in 100 years.

When hacktivist group AntiAmerica hacks the nation’s largest banks, the financial industry is left teetering on the brink of collapse. Hacker and teen runaway Alanna Blake is forcefully recruited by the government to track down the only link to AntiAmerica, her missing ex-boyfriend Javier. She relies on every bit of her social engineering cunning to navigate a conspiracy of lies and deceit, which imperils both the lives of everyone closest to her and the secrets to a past she longs to remain locked away forever.

This book contains content surrounding drug abuse, mental illness, physical abuse, and suicide.

Spirit of the Season by Cynthia E. HurstSpirit of the Season by Cynthia E. Hurst:

In a season of peace and goodwill, it was shocking for residents of the Cotswold town to learn a stranger had been murdered in their midst. It was even more shocking that he died on the doorstep of the town’s police inspector’s home as he was entertaining guests on Christmas Eve. It appeared Daniel Keegan’s only failing had been to fall in love with the wrong person, something that sends a chilling message to two of the inspector’s guests. Newlyweds Jacob Silver and Sarah Simm are used to criticism, but does Keegan’s death mean their own lives may be in danger?

‘Spirit of the Season’ is the eighth book in the Silver and Simm Victorian Mysteries series.

Retrieval by Ethan JonesRetrieval by Ethan Jones:

Can a lethal assassin have a soft side?

After a botched operation in Geneva, Javin Pierce and his partner are offered the chance to return to the CIS if they eliminate two senior ISIS leaders hiding in Iraq. Dispatched to the lawless lands, Javin and Claudia start to gather intel, and soon find themselves immersed in a sinister corruption scheme that reaches top-level Iraqi officials. Javin isn’t about to walk away.

Now, being hunted down by ruthless ISIS fighters, the team fights to survive and navigate crooked, ever-shifting allegiances. As Javin and Claudia forge bonds with unlikely local allies from a refugee camp, Javin gets more than he bargained for. The evidence leads to Europe and an elaborate retrieval that, if successful, will tear down the entire corruption scheme and bring desperate relief to the camp workers.

Javin now realizes his ticket back into the agency might be his most dangerous but satisfying mission yet. How will Javin clean up the targets, get back into the agency, and execute the seemingly impossible retrieval, all without leaving a trace?

Kinfolk by Matt KurtzKinfolk by Matt Kurtz:

Criminal brothers Ray and Eric Kuttner pulled off what they thought was a seemingly simple score, until Ray’s innocent wife, Rachel, was brutally murdered in retaliation. Hell-bent on revenge, the brothers delivered their own merciless payback.

Three years later, something sheds new light on Rachel’s murder and it requires the brothers to drive across Texas to Oklahoma on a new mission of vengeance that’ll finally bring them closure.

After an incident forces them to take back roads to elude the cops, they get stranded along a hunting ground patrolled by a family looking for fresh meat to feed their hunger for flesh.

In a race against the clock, Ray and Eric must fight their way out of the backwoods of Texas and still make it across state lines to accomplish their plan of revenge …all before one very large—and pissed off—family secret is unleashed to stop them.

The Megalodon Mix-Up by Amanda M. LeeThe Megalodon Mix-Up by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes’ life has taken a turn.

Not only is she working her dream job, but she’s also taken on a dreamy co-worker and is officially dating the office security chief.
Yeah, she’s still trying to wrap her head around it, too.

She doesn’t have much time because a high-profile incident in Florida means the team is on the hunt, and this time the likely culprit is none other than a prehistoric shark that’s been extinct for millions of years.

For Jack Hanson, the mere thought that a Megalodon is hunting the Gulf of Mexico waters is too much to bear. He’s on edge and irritated, and that’s on top of the fact that Legacy Foundation co-workers are starting to find out about his relationship with Charlie.

For her part, Charlie is enjoying herself. Not only is she looking for a giant shark, but she’s investigating in the middle of an author conference and the victim was the one person hated by absolutely everyone. She’s learning on the job … and it’s a tangled web of lies and intrigue to wade through.

There are suspects at every turn, blood in the water, and hungry sharks looking for a meal. It’s another fun-filled adventure, and the stakes in this one are graver than anybody anticipated.

Death Over Divorce by Jerri Kay LincolnDeath Over Divorce by Jerri Kay Lincoln:

This is the second book in the Rutledge Historical Society Cozy Mystery Series.

When a dead man that she knows falls out of Lorry Lockharte’s new car right in front of the sheriff, it doesn’t look good. Still, being hauled into the sheriff’s station isn’t what Lorry had expected. After a lawyer comes out of nowhere to get her released, Lorry struggles to prove her innocence and find the real killer.

 

Kousins Kan't Kill by Jerri Kay LincolnKousins Kan’t Kill by Jerri Kay Lincoln:

This is the third book in the Rutledge Historical Society Cozy Mystery Series.

When Lorry Lockharte’s cousin, Kasey, is accused of murder, Lorry feels like once again she must work to find the murderer. Did Kasey do it, or is she truly innocent as she claims? Lorry isn’t so sure about this one. Not only did Kasey have the opportunity and the motive, but she picked up the murder weapon. Will Lorry find the murderer only to discover that it really is Kasey?

 

Iced Inn by Karen MacInerneyIced Inn by Karen MacInerney:

It’s Christmastime at the Gray Whale Inn. The inn’s kitchen smells like ginger and spice, the ground is frosted with snow, and wedding bells are about to ring out for innkeeper Natalie’s favorite niece, Gwen. It’s a joyous time… until the families of the bride and groom descend on the island, bringing nasty tempers and a wicked winter storm with them. Add a baffling rash of thefts, a dash of romantic intrigue, and an unexpected power shutdown, and Natalie’s plans for a magical season are looking more like a recipe for disaster. Can Natalie find the missing gifts before the big holiday? And will the happy couple make it to the altar… or will the wedding go up in flames?

Shame on Me by Margaret MalShame on Me by Margaret Mal:

Everything in 17-year-old Julia’s life was boring and monotonous until she came across a real corpse. Since it happened near her best friend Kate’s cabin, Julia and Kate feel the urge to find the killer, as does the dead man’s best friend Nick, for whom Julia falls as soon as they meet. At first glance, the murder seems to be connected to the victim’s business, but what if it has to do with a serial killer on the loose in the same area?

‘Shame on Me’ is the first novel in the series.
The series revolves around two young friends from Russia, Julia and Kate, who love to take on the role of amateur sleuths. The novels are written in the form of email letters to their mutual American friend. Each book is written in first person, each from the point of view of one of the girls. The first book in the series is written from Julia’s point of view, the second from Kate’s, and so on. In addition to the mysteries and love stories, the series highlights interesting cultural differences between Russians and Americans and describes the life of a girl from a poor Russian family.

The Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona MarpleThe Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona Marple:

What if Father Christmas is on the naughty list?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Mystic Springs, but all is not still or calm with the department store Santa.

The amateur dramatics club is full of big egos and legends-in-their-own-heads, so their spats aren’t unusual. But when the theatre owner is shot dead during the Christmas play, it’s Santa who pulls the trigger.

With the arrival of an unwelcome ex, a petition to end Discrimination Against Spirits, and a second attack by St Nick, the chances of a quiet Christmas seem to be quickly disappearing.

Has Santa really gone bad? Or is there more to it?

Town medium Connie and her dead sister Sage are both avoiding their own festive conundrums. A mistletoe murder is just the distraction they need.

Phyllis Wong and the Vanishing Emeralds by Geoffrey McSkimmingPhyllis Wong and the Vanishing Emeralds by Geoffrey McSkimming:

When Phyllis Wong—that brilliant young magician and clever sleuth—happens upon a mystery from the past that has proved unsolvable, she knows she has to try to get to the bottom of it.

More than sixty years ago an astonishing emerald necklace owned by the famous pianist Isabella Beaufort seemingly vanished off the face of the earth! Ever since, the disappearance has stumped the police, detectives and those associated with the missing priceless jewels. How did the prized Flurtis Emeralds vanish? Where are they today? Is there any way they can be traced, after so many cobwebs have covered the case?

Another mysterious intrigue right up the alleyway of our favourite conjuring Transiter!

The sixth Phyllis Wong: Time Detective mystery.

Punitive Damages by Marti TalbottPunitive Damages by Marti Talbott:

A deathbed phone call made Private Detective Jackie Harlan’s heart skip a beat. Her agency specialized in finding missing people, yet the one person she couldn’t find was her own son, Brian, who disappeared at the age of two. Was what the caller said the truth, or was it a sinister ploy to take her off the trail of an important case she was working?

 

 

 

The King's Coroner by J-R- TomlinThe King’s Coroner by J.R. Tomlin:

A game of spies is afoot. The king’s new coroner, Sir Law Kintour, investigates the death of a mysterious stranger in fifteenth-century Perth, Scotland. The investigation is complicated by the civil war brewing as the king raises his army against a rebellious duke. Sir Law is pitched further into intrigue and betrayal when he discovers a hired assassin is lurking in Perth. No one knows who will be the next victim. Now Law must call on every resource he has to stop the killer.

 

Pineapple Gingerbread Men by Amy VansantPineapple Gingerbread Men by Amy Vansant:

Sheriff Frank asks newly-minted private detective Charlotte to help him crack the case, but she has no idea those darn gingerbread men will start showing up everywhere. What did Santa do that made them so angry? And what’s the secret in his colorful Christmas-themed bureau?

Charlotte is forced to split her time between searching for Santa’s killer and helping Declan’s crazy ex-Stephanie stop a corrupt district attorney in exchange for a book that could help solve more crimes in the future. She never thought she’d help calculating Stephanie with anything…but as this story comes to it’s shocking ending, you’ll find it could be Stephanie who’s finally bitten off more cookie than she can chew…

Tangled Destiny by Jenny WheelerTangled Destiny by Jenny Wheeler:

A promising proposal. A life-changing secret. Will she live out a lie or follow her heart?

New York, 1847. Elanora dreams of marrying her childhood sweetheart Eustace. The proposal on her 21st birthday is everything she hoped for, until her fiancé’s father dispatches him to the West Indies. After the promise of a white Christmas with the man she loves evaporates, she stumbles upon a secret that could tear Eustace’s family apart…

After a sudden death further sends Elanora reeling, she’s as vulnerable as ever until a gifted photographer comes to her rescue. With the tragic love triangle forming before her eyes and the secret burning within her, she has an impossible Christmas choice. Will Elanora obey the powerful men who want to control her or will she trigger generations of consequences by exposing the truth?

Tangled Destiny is a prequel novella to the Of Gold & Blood historical mystery series.

Songbird by Inger WolfSongbird by Inger Wolf, translated by Mark Kline:

On an early morning in May, the police find the heavily beaten body of Maja Nielsen in a public park in central Aarhus in Denmark.

She has fallen from a great height and her right arm has been cut repeatedly. Everything points to a suicide, and as the police dig deeper into the world of Maja, they discover a young woman plagued by paranoia and violent nightmares.

Something was tormenting her.

The investigation leads Daniel Trokic and his team to a distinct blood profile with traces of an unknown drug, a tattooed Colombian, and a particularly uncompromising animal rights activist who has been run over in a hit-and-run accident.

Elixirs and Elves by Astoria WrightElixirs and Elves by Astoria Wright:

The elves of Mount Vale are throwing a Christmas Party, and they’ve invited everyone! While the human residents of Moss Hill are excited to attend, many of the sidhe find the invitation beneath them. It’s no secret that they dislike mingling with non-faeries, but are they so hostile toward humans that one of them would commit murder? Carissa has never gotten along with the sidhe guard, but Varick of Vale has helped her on occasion. So, when he asks for her help after suspicion falls on him, it’s up to her to prove his innocence – if, that is, he isn’t guilty after all.

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Three New Hallowind Cove Stories and a Facelift for the Whole Series

This is the final new release announcement for 2018 and it’s a big one, for I have not one or two but three new Hallowind Cove stories to announce as well as a quasi relaunch for the series.

The origin of the Hallowind Cove series lies in a shared world anthology which fell through. So I took my story for that anthology, changed the names and filed off the serial numbers and published the story as The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock.

I didn’t intend to revisit Hallowind Cove. But then during the 2016 July short story challenge, I had an idea for a story that would be perfect for Hallowind Cove, a story which eventually was published as The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach. And so Hallowind Cove became a series.

During the 2017 and 2018 July short story challenge, I wrote two more Hallowind Cove stories. However, they languished on my harddrive, because Hallowind Cove series just doesn’t sell very well. And though I usually ignore conventional indie wisdom about marketing and cover design, it eventually became clear to me that the Hallowind Cove series was branded wrong and marketed at the wrong audience. The original monochrome covers (which you can still see here and here) had a horror vibe, but Hallowind Cove isn’t really a horror series, even though the town of Hallowind Cove is nigh permanently shrouded in fog and plagued by ghosts, monsters and vengeful zombies. However, the tone of the stories is humorous rather than scary and the attraction of the series lies in the quirky town and its equally quirky inhabitants.

In short, the problem with Hallowind Cove was that I was marketing the series to the wrong audience and had the two existing books in the wrong categories. Because Hallowind Cove is not horror, it’s cozy fantasy, a category which unfortunately does not exist on Amazon or any other online bookstore. However, the stores do have a cozy mystery category full of stories set in quirky small towns with equally quirky inhabitants, which are a large part of the attraction. Amazon even has a subcategory of paranormal cozy mysteries featuring witches, ghosts, etc… I’ve featured these books at the Indie Crime Scene (and they usually are crossposted to Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month as well) and know that they are massively popular. And the Hallowind Cove stories are certainly closer to those paranormal cozy mysteries than they are to straight horror. So I decided to aim them at the readership for paranormal cozy mysteries instead.

However, that left the problem of the covers. Because the existing monochrome photo covers were completely unsuitable for the cozy paranormal market, where candy-coloured cartoon covers and vector graphics rule surpreme. So I would have to rebrand the series and redo the covers as well and I would have to come up with a unified cover style that could be easily adapted for future books in the series. The new covers needed a cartoony look in keeping with genre conventions and I also wanted the covers to stress the maritime background of the Hallowind Cove series. Which was a problem, because the overwhelming majority of seaside related vector graphics available on the usual stock art sites were summery images of sunny beaches and palm trees. Whereas Hallowind Cove is permanently shrouded in fog and doesn’t have a single palm tree. So I put the two already finished Hallowind Cove stories on the backburner until I could figure out how to rebrand the series.

As longterm readers will know, I usually publish at least one holiday story every year. I initially planned for the 2018 holiday story to be an In Love and War novella, which is already partially written. However, the novella focusses on a character who hasn’t been introduced in the series proper yet due to a novel that has been giving me problems for two years now. Hence I set it aside (you’ll get it in 2019) and looked for another holiday story to write and came across a story start called A Hallowind Cove Christmas. So I got to work on the story and decided to use the opportunity to redo the covers and relaunch the whole series.

I also came up with an idea for the covers that was viable, doable with my skills, could be adapted for new stories in the series and also had a certain maritime flair that matched the series. The new Hallowind Cove covers are basically a vector graphic of a ship’s porthole. Inside that porthole, there is an image that fits the story in question, e.g. a zombie pirate for The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock and a tattooed arm for The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach. You can see the new covers for both stories below:

The Revenant of Wrecker's Dock by Cora Buhlert The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach by Cora Buhlert

Meanwhile, the Hallowind Cove Christmas story or rather the beginning thereof focussed on Rachel Hammersmith, a character who briefly shows up in The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach, where we learn that Rachel is a newcomer to Hallowind Cove who took over the local bakery. Now baking and Christmas go together, which makes Rachel the perfect protagonist for a Hallowind Cove holiday story. And indeed, the abandoned story start I pick up chronicled how Rachel came to Hallowind Cove and how she came to take over the bakery. Next came a scene where several notable citizens of Hallowind Cove show up in Rachel’s bakery and tell her that only she can save Christmas. And that was as far as I’d written. Why can only Rachel of all people save Christmas and from what is she supposed to save it? If I ever came up with an answer to those questions, I sure as hell didn’t remember. And in fact I suspect that’s the reason I abandoned the story back in the day.

So I brainstormed potential Christmas related dangers, preferably of a supernatural kind, and quickly hit upon a holiday threat straight from German folklore, namely the Krampus, a scary devil-like monster that is a companion of Saint Nicholas in South Germany and Austria and punished the bad kids with his birch rod. The Krampus is certainly a suitably scary Christmas threat. There was only one problem. I didn’t actually know much about Krampus, because German folklore is very regional and Krampus just isn’t a thing in my part of Germany. In my part of Germany, Saint Nicholas travels with Knecht Ruprecht, a man with a bushy black beard who gives the bad kids a thrashing with a birch rod. And across the border in the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas travels with the Zwarte Piet, a black man in faux orientalist garb who doesn’t really thrash anybody, but manages to be controversial nonetheless. And since the Krampus isn’t really part of the culture I grew up with, I had to do some research.

Since the Krampus is a monster that thrashes the bad kids with a birch rod or kidnaps them and – in those parts of the German speaking world, where Krampus is a thing – people dressed up as Krampus run wild in the street on the night of December 5 (i.e. the night before St. Nicholas Day), it was obvious why the Krampus would be a threat to the peace of Hallowind Cove or what passes for it at Christmas time. Now the next question was, how exactly could Rachel of all people save the town from the Krampus’ wrath?

Now Rachel is a baker and therefore, it was obvious that the solution should be bakery related. So I researched whether there were any pastries associated with Krampus and found that there were. Even better, it was a type of pastry I was familiar with, namely figures of sweet leavened dough that are known as Stutenkerl or Weckenmann in my region and as Krampus elsewhere. What is more, it turns out that in addition of the “dough man with pipe” Stutenkerl that I was familiar with, there were also Krampus shaped dough figures in the respective parts of Germany and Austria. According to legend, the Stutenkerl with his pipe represents Saint Nicholas with his bishop’s crosier, while the Krampus shaped figures represent the Krampus. And indeed, the Krampus that visits Rachel’s bakery picks up a Stutenkerl for Saint Nicholas.

If you want to make your own Stutenkerl or Krampus, here is a recipe. Meanwhile, inspired by the story I was writing, I bought a ready made Stutenkerl at Janssen‘s excellent bakery in Oldenburg

Stutenkerl

A Stutenkerl from Janssen’s bakery in Oldenburg, surrounded by some of their delicious cookies.

Since Krampus is traditionally the companion of Saint Nicholas, Santa himself show up near the end as well. And because Hallowind Cove is persistently fog-shrouded, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer appears as well, even though he has nothing whatsoever to do with the Krampus and the traditional Saint Nicholas legend and is instead a 20th century American invention. I even managed to sneak in another legendary winter figure occasionally associated with Krampus, namely the winter witch known in South Germany and Austria as Frau Perchta or Frau Percht. In my region, she is called Frau Holle.

Established Hallowind Cove characters such as Hugo the talking raven and Ian, the landlord of The Croaking Foghorn pub (who even aquires a surname in this story) also appear. And Paul MacQuarie, the other newcomer to Hallowind Cove who is the protagonist of The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock, shows up as well, first to buy a muffin at the bakery and later to help Rachel deal with the Krampus problem. The two of them quickly bond over their shared experiences and there’s even a kiss under the mistletoe.

Intrigued? Then read…

The Bakery on Gloomland Street
The Bakery on Gloomland StreetA legendary monster threatens Christmas…

It’s Christmas time in the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town of Hallowind Cove, which is also known as the “Harbour of the Weird”.

Rachel Hammersmith is new to Hallowind Cove and has recently taken over the bakery on Gloomland Street, after Marie Percht, the previous owner, retired.

However, Marie Percht didn’t tell Rachel everything, when she retired. She didn’t mention the fog, for starters, and she also didn’t mention that her bakery plays a vital role during the Christmas season and not just as a provider of holiday cookies either.

For the Krampus, a yuletide monster from alpine folklore, is coming to Hallowind Cove. And the only thing that can keep him from wrecking the town and ruining Christmas are pastries baked according to a secret recipe. Unfortunately, Rachel has no idea what the recipe is.

However, with the help of fellow newcomer Paul MacQuarie, Rachel will bake up a storm to pacify Krampus and save Christmas.

More information.
Length: 9300 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

Though it was written earlier (yes, I write series out of order), the next Hallowind Cove story is a direct sequel to The Bakery on Gloomland Street. For The Mermaid of Foghorn Point follows the newly minted couple Paul and Rachel on their first date to The Croaking Foghorn pub. But this is Hallowind Cove and so their date does not at all go as expected.

The Mermaid of Foghorn Point is one of three Hallowind Cove stories to date to come out of the July short story challenge, where the idea is to write a short story per day during the month of July. Like several of the July short story challenge stories, The Mermaid of Foghorn Point was inspired by an image, namely this piece of fantasy art by Axel Sauerwald, where some fishermen make a most unexpected catch.

Inspired by the image, I started writing a story about a fisherman returning to harbour and explaining to a customer why he came back empty-handed. After a few paragraphs, I realised that this was the perfect Hallowind Cove story. And so Eddie Bramwell, fisherman and captain of the ominously named The Doomed Privateer, regals Paul, Rachel, Ian and Old Hank with a marvelous bit of sailor’s yarn – or is it?

To find out, read…

The Mermaid of Foghorn Point
The Mermaid of Foghorn PointThe catch of the day at the Croaking Foghorn is not at all as expected…

Strange things keep happening in the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town of Hallowind Cove, earning it the nickname “Harbour of the Weird”.

Paul and Rachel’s date at The Croaking Foghorn pub is derailed, when it turns out that local fisherman Eddie Bramwell brought home no fish, but one hell of a story.

But Paul has one hell of a story of his own to tell and he’s not at all sure how Rachel will react.

More information.
Length: 3400 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens, the third new Hallowind Cove story is more of a standalone (not to mention a standaround) and focusses on another crop of newcomers to Hallowind Cove, the Hutchinson family who visit the town on one of the rare non-foggy days and wind up buying a mansion that’s for sale for a ridiculously low price (and of course, none of the locals mention the fog or the many weird things happening in Hallowind Cove with the exception of Hugo the talking raven. And no one ever listens to Hugo). But this is Hallowind Cove, after all, so it’s clear that the Hutchinsons are in for an unpleasant surprise.

The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens is another story to come out of the July short story challenge, the 2017 edition in this case. The inspiration for the story was watching a trailer for what looked like a very bad low-budget horror movie. A little more than a year on, I can’t even recall the title of the movie, which shows how forgettable it was. I had to comb through the weekly link roundups at the Speculative Fiction Showcase from July 2017 to find it again (and it turns out that a lot of bad trailers for forgettable horror movies came out in July 2017). That movie had the usual set-up of a group of people trapped in an isolated house and menaced by sinister shadowy figures. At one point in the trailer, someone freaks out about the figures out there and someone else asks what the figures are doing, whereupon the first person replies, “Nothing”, which made me break in laughter. And so the standarounds – shadowy figures who literally just stand around and stare at random houses – were born. The standarounds themselves are also briefly mentioned in The Bakery on Gloomland Street, which was written after this story. Sheriff Alastair Angus Aberdeen also appears in The Bakery on Gloomland Street, by the way.

So prepare to meet The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens. And don’t worry, they’re harmless.

The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens
The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens by Cora BuhlertSinister shadows menace a family…

Strange things keep happening in the quirky little seaside town of Hallowind Cove, earning it the nickname “Harbour of the Weird”.

When the Hutchinson family buy the beautiful Beauregard mansion on Gloomland Street, they believe they’ve made the deal of a lifetime.

But unfortunately, no one told them about the fog that envelops Hallowind Cove for three hundred and forty days a year. Or about the mysterious shadows that stand around Twilight Gardens, staring at random houses…

This is a short story of 3300 words or approximately 14 pages in the Hallowind Cove series, but may be read as a standalone.

More information.
Length: 3300 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Inktera, Playster, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

If you want to read the whole series, there is also a series bundle available at DriveThruFiction at a reduced price.

And that’s it for the year. Next year, there will be more In Love and War stories, including at least one novel, more The Day The Saucers Came… stories, a new sword and sorcery series , After the End 2: More Stories about Life After the Apocalypse, Murder in the Family 2 and much more.

Happy holidays, whichever one you celebrate!

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Magic under the Mistletoe 2018 – A Round-up of the Best Indie Holiday Speculative Fiction

Magic under the Mistletoe banner

Our monthly round-ups of new speculative fiction and new crime fiction releases by indie authors are a perennially popular feature. Therefore, we now offer you a round-up of our favourite holiday science fiction, fantasy and horror by indie authors.

These holiday stories cover the broad spectrum of speculative fiction. We have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, paranormal mysteries, science fiction, space opera, time travel, post-apocalyptic fiction, plenty of dragons, werewolves, were-reindeer, elves, Krampuses, telepathic detectives, crime-fighting witches, orphans in danger, troubled marriages, musketeers in space, alien invasions, Christmas in space and after the apocalypse, robots, sentient starships playing Santa and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set around the holidays.

As always with my round-up posts, this round-up of the best indie holiday mysteries is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

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

And now on to the books without further ado:

A Dark Root Christmas by April AasheimA Dark Root Christmas: Merry’s Gift by April Aasheim

When ten-year-old Merry Maddock makes a holiday wish on a shooting star, she has no idea how her life will change.
Suddenly, she’s become the parent to a strange baby owl, and the caretaker of what appears to be an enchanted tree.
But will her wish for a family Christmas be granted? Or will her mother’s desire for a year without a holiday win out?
Magick, mystery, and family take center stage in this charming witchy novella featuring the Maddock girls when they are young.
This 20k word novella is a prequel story to the popular Daughters of Dark Root series and can be read as a stand alone novel.

A Very Mercy Christmas by M.Z. AndrewsA Very Mercy Christmas: A Witch Squad Holiday Special by M.Z. Andrews:

It’s Christmas time at the Paranormal Institute for Witches. Excited to go home for the holidays and be reunited with their families, Mercy, Jax, Holly, Sweets, and Alba say their goodbyes. However, when an unpredicted snowstorm ravages Aspen Falls, the girls must scramble to figure out their next move. Tempers flare as blame is placed and feelings are hurt. By the looks of it, Christmas will surely be ruined.

But when a surprise visitor arrives, the girls are forced to find out what friendship really means and decide whether or not it’s worth saving. Visited by some blasts from the past, the girls are given glimpses into each other’s pasts and find out what life would have been like if they’d never met and formed the Witch Squad on the first day of classes.

A Very Mercy Christmas is the 5th book in the Witch Squad Cozy Mystery series – there is no mystery to solve, instead sit back and enjoy a Christmas story about what went down over the Witch Squad’s first winter break and get a glimpse into the lives of each of the girls before they met.

The Journey of Joseph Winter by John AnthonyThe Journey of Joseph Winter: A Christmas Fairy Tale by John Anthony:

A heartwarming Christmas story in the tradition of the holiday classics It’s a Wonderful Life and A Miracle on 34th Street.

Take a personal journey to discover the true magic of Christmas.

Joseph Winter is a good and gentle man, but he carries with him the pain and regret of a childhood mistake.

When a package mysteriously arrives on his doorstep, he is invited on a path to redemption.

Traveling far from his cozy little home in St. Paul, Minnesota, into the snowy landscapes of the Arctic, his touching Christmas journey takes him in search of the one man who may be able to help him find peace—Santa Claus.

An inspirational family Christmas tale in the style of the classic Christmas stories shared by families every holiday season, The Journey of Joseph Winter: A Christmas Fairy Tale is the inspiring story of a man in search of Santa Claus, his childhood, and ultimately—himself.

A Tale of Christmas Past by Katelyn A. BrownA Tale of Christmas Past by Katelyn A. Brown

A woman from the future, trapped in the past…

Avery Lawson expects to spend another holiday alone, with only memories of her parents and her abandoned faith for company. One chilly day, she reads an old journal that once belonged to a pioneer named Kathleen. Avery is captivated by the story, but she never imagined how much her own life would be turned upside down after reading it. In a strange twist of fate, she finds herself transported to a Kansas homestead in the year 1880, with no conceivable way to get home to the future.

Widower Jacob Cole is in desperate need of a housekeeper and nanny for his three young children. When the mysterious Miss Lawson shows up at his farm, his instincts tell him to trust her, despite the bizarre circumstances surrounding her arrival. She quickly becomes an important part of his world. Could she be just what his hurting family needs?

But being from the future, Avery has a dreadful secret. With Christmas fast approaching, can she stop another terrible tragedy from befalling the family? Will she ever make it home to the future? Or–with the Cole children and Jacob steadily breaking down the walls around her heart–does she even want to anymore?

Christmas on Iago Prime by Cora BuhlertChristmas on Iago Prime by Cora Buhlert

Eight-year-old Libby has come with her parents to spend a year at the newly established colony on the planet Iago Prime. Libby’s parents believe that this is a great opportunity for all of them, but Libby is unhappy on Iago Prime. There are no other children on Iago Prime and Libby can’t go anywhere, because she doesn’t even have a space suit. Worst of all, they will spend Christmas on Iago Prime, where there aren’t even any Christmas trees.

However, Libby’s parents, with a little help from Santa Claus himself, conspire to give Libby an unforgettable Christmas on Iago Prime.

This is a science fictional Christmas story of 6600 words or approx. 22 print pages.

The Bakery on Gloomland Street by Cora BuhlertThe Bakery on Gloomland Street by Cora Buhlert:

A legendary monster threatens Christmas…

It’s Christmas time in the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town of Hallowind Cove, which is also known as the “Harbour of the Weird”.

Rachel Hammersmith is new to Hallowind Cove and has recently taken over the bakery on Gloomland Street, after Marie Percht, the previous owner, retired.

However, Marie Percht didn’t tell Rachel everything, when she retired. She didn’t mention the fog, for starters, and she also didn’t mention that her bakery plays a vital role during the Christmas season and not just as a provider of holiday cookies either.

For the Krampus, a yuletide monster from alpine folklore, is coming to Hallowind Cove. And the only thing that can keep him from wrecking the town and ruining Christmas are pastries baked according to a secret recipe. Unfortunately, Rachel has no idea what the recipe is.

However, with the help of fellow newcomer Paul MacQuarie, Rachel will bake up a storm to pacify Krampus and save Christmas.

The Tinsel-Free Christmas Tree by Cora BuhlertThe Tinsel-Free Christmas Tree: A Not Really SF Short Story by Cora Buhlert

Bertha and Alfred, married for twenty years, enjoy a truly science fictional life in the twenty-first century. But in spite of all the technological marvels surrounding them, an argument about how to decorate the Christmas tree escalates and threatens their marriage.

This parodistic piece is a mundane short story of 2900 words or approximately 12 print pages, written in the style of science fiction’s “golden age” of the 1940s and 1950s.

 

Merry Chris Witch by C.K. DawnMerry Chris Witch by C.K. Dawn:

Magic is real and dreams do come true. Be careful what you WITCH for.

Chris Heron is a witch who loathes the holiday season. What’s even worse is getting expelled from private coven school on Halloween and having to attend public magic school, where Santa’s son is visiting and has all the girls in a frenzy. Fairies, mermaids, elves, even the trolls are swooning over Kris Kringle Jr. All except for one girl, and she’s a North Pole mystery that has Chris intrigued. Will he be able to put his prejudices aside in time to see the true magic all around him?

I Wtich You a Merry Christmas by Snow EdenI Witch You a Merry Christmas by Snow Eden:

A heart-warming story about Christmas, elves, Santa Claus…and a really mad witch.

There are many things Cinnamon Mercy Claus is struggling with this holiday season: the memories of long forgotten holidays when the Christmas season was about family; that she’s just found out her grandfather is Santa Claus; and that her grandmother is a witch—who is bent on destroying Christmas for them all.

This is a 30,000-word novella with a dose of Hallmark warmth and crazy witch mayhem!

It is a ‘clean’ read with no cursing. Situations should be appropriate for all ages.

Carrie Hatchett's Christmas by J.J. GreenCarrie Hatchett’s Christmas by J.J. Green:

It’s Christmas! The alien invasion has begun.

Carrie Hatchett’s hoping for a quiet Christmas. She’s got five times as much food as she needs, and she’s made a catnip surprise and a dogfood cake for her pets.

But there’s no rest for Carrie.

An ancient race seems intent on invading Earth. As a Transgalactic Intercultural Community Crisis Liaison Officer, Carrie’s duty-bound to respond to the threat.

The aliens have been spotted at Santa’s Grotto and in a pantomime. Will Carrie find them in time and send them packing before they ruin everyone’s Christmas?

Carrie Hatchett’s Christmas is a standalone novelette in the comedy sci-fi romp Carrie Hatchett, Space Adventurer.

Follow Carrie on her adventures today.

Bringing Christmas to the Dragons by Rinelle GreyBringing Christmas to the Dragons by Rinelle Grey:

She may not be a dragon, but it was her humanity they needed right now.

With time running out before his clan’s prince is discovered by mining or killed by enemy dragons, dragon shifter Jayrian needs to convince the elders to accept help from the humans. He hopes that the clever librarian, Gretchen, might be able to help him with that. He didn’t count on falling for her—that wasn’t part of his plan at all.

Gretchen longs for adventure outside of the books she reads in her job as a small town librarian. But not the kind that involves her moving to the big city to take the promotion her Aunt Mary offers. The cute guy who’s been hanging around the library seems far more exciting—there’s just something about him that draws her—so on impulse, she invites him to her family’s Christmas celebration. When a dragon lands on the front of her car on the way there, she wonders if she’s gotten more than she bargained for.

Together they must find a way to save his prince and clan, without sacrificing who they are, or their budding relationship.

Meet Douglas Fir by Kyndra HatchMeet Douglas Fir by Kyndra Hatch:

People put objects on trees? As a holiday tradition? The singing tree creature is a threat that needs to be eradicated.

Being human isn’t easy with robotic alien residents misunderstanding the simple stuff. Alex can’t imagine his family life without Bazin and Miaxa, though. Time to show them Christmas holiday traditions, preferably without space aliens blowing things up.

 

 

How Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. LeeHow Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. Lee:

Fourteen years ago, Christmas hit Walkerville with a bang. Or, rather, a big ball of fire.
When a local group home for orphaned children goes up in smoke right before the holidays, Tillie Winchester volunteers her family to take in some kids – even though her arch nemesis Margaret Little is dead-set against it. Of course, that’s part of the appeal for Tillie so she’s considering it a win.

Three boys – all of them with a little attitude – have no idea what to expect from the Winchester household. No matter what, Tillie is sure they’re about to get more than they bargained for. In short order, they’re welcomed into the family at the same time the town is on edge due to a second fire.

Tillie is determined to prove the boys are innocent while also finding them a forever home … even if she has to take on a local judge and declare all out war to do it.

So, hang your stockings by the fire and sit back for another Christmas with the Winchesters. You’ll never be the same again.

Note: This is a 28,000-word novella set in the Wicked Witches of the Midwest world. It’s set back in the past so it can be read in any order.

A Mind Reader's Christmas by Al MacyA Mind Reader’s Christmas by Al Macy:

Eric Beckman, a mind-reading private investigator, is spending Christmas in snowy Vermont with his wife and daughter. He needs a break from solving cases, but the townspeople convince him to look into the village mystery: Every holiday season, someone switches the baby Jesus with one of the other figures in the town’s Nativity scene.

With the help of his ten-year-old daughter, also a mind reader, he soon learns that some of the residents of the small town are not who–or even what–they seem to be. There’s something supernatural going on in Newburn, Vermont.

His investigation causes an escalation of strange happenings, and soon, swapped manger figures are the least of the town’s worries. If Beckman can’t adjust his view of the world–force himself to believe in things he never thought possible–the Christmas vacation could turn out to be his family’s last.

A Mind Reader’s Christmas may be read as a standalone book or as Book Four in the Eric Beckman series.

The Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona MarpleThe Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona Marple:

What if Father Christmas is on the naughty list?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Mystic Springs, but all is not still or calm with the department store Santa.

The amateur dramatics club is full of big egos and legends-in-their-own-heads, so their spats aren’t unusual. But when the theatre owner is shot dead during the Christmas play, it’s Santa who pulls the trigger.

With the arrival of an unwelcome ex, a petition to end Discrimination Against Spirits, and a second attack by St Nick, the chances of a quiet Christmas seem to be quickly disappearing.

Has Santa really gone bad? Or is there more to it?

Town medium Connie and her dead sister Sage are both avoiding their own festive conundrums. A mistletoe murder is just the distraction they need.

In Time for Christmas by Monique MartinIn Time for Christmas by Monique Martin:

At a time when interest in the Christmas holiday was waning, Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol and inspired the world.

But now, history is changing, and the book is never written. When the Council for Temporal Studies asks time travelers Simon and Elizabeth Cross to “save Christmas,” they think he’s joking.

But it’s anything but a laughing matter. Simon and Elizabeth must go back to 1843 London and convince Dickens to write his endearing story, or the Christmas holiday we all know and love will cease to be–forever.

Christmas in New York by Monique MartinChristmas in New York by Monique Martin:

Time-Traveling adventurers Simon and Elizabeth Cross return in an all-new Christmas novella!

Along with their young daughter, Charlotte, the Crosses travel back to 1937 New York City to visit an old friend, Charlie Blue. But Charlie’s in trouble — holiday-sized trouble — and their plans for a pleasant little Christmas vacation soon fly out the window.

Christmas in New York is the fast-paced and heartwarming tale of the true meaning of Christmas — and the importance of the people we share it with.

Not His Christmas by Annie NicholasNot His Christmas by Annie Nicholas:

It’s Eoin and Angie’s first Christmas together and he wants to make it special. But his dragoness is lacking holiday spirit and doesn’t want anything to do with celebrating. Does Angie think Eoin is the type of dragon who could ignore her unhappiness? Clipping on his jingle bells and grabbing the mistletoe, Eoin is on a mission.

 

 

 

Snowed in with the Alien Dragon by Sonia NovaSnowed in with the Alien Dragon by Sonia Nova

A Christmas without warmth…
Rachel hates her life in Alaska. She hates the weather, but even more, she hates her job which requires her to stay in the sodden state even for the holidays! Instead of going to visit her family in sunny California, she will be spending the holidays alone in the cold north. But when she encounters an unconscious, golden alien on the way home from work – amidst a massive snowstorm to top it all off – it looks like the holidays might not end up as boring as she’d thought after all!

A dragon paralyzed by cold…
Captain Erro of Traag never thought to go down in a battle. Even less did he think to find his mate on the surface of the planet he crashes on! Trapped in the planet’s frozen wasteland, Erro can hardly function in the cold climate. He’s a dragon, for heaven’s sake! He needs some heat! And yet, despite the icy weather seeping into his bones, every time the strangely beautiful alien female smiles at him, his inner flame burns stronger than ever. She is his mate, there is no question about that.

Now, if only he could understand what the hell she was saying…

Snowed in with the Alien Dragon is a standalone sci-fi romance novella with a scorching hot dragon, a HEA and no cliffhangers. Intended for mature audiences only.

When Birdie Babysat Spider by Kristen PainterWhen Birdie Babysat Spider: A Jayne Frost Short Story by Kristen Painter:

Welcome to Nocturne Falls, the town that celebrates Halloween 365 days a year.

Jayne Frost is a lot of things. Winter elf, Jack Frost’s daughter, Santa Claus’s niece, heir to the Winter Throne and now…private investigator. Sort of.

But none of that matters at the moment, because Jayne is headed back to the North Pole to visit her family, and leaving everyone’s favorite werewolf, Birdie Caruthers, to watch her cat, Spider.

With the heartfelt promise that all will be well, Birdie follows Jayne’s instructions to the letter. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop Spider from getting into trouble.

It takes the help of a gentlemen friend (and a few others), for Birdie to make things right again. But not before her love life takes a very interesting turn…

The Krampus Hunters by J.P. ReedmanThe Krampus Hunters by J.P. Reedman:

Krampus, haunter of the dark winter’s nights before Yule, comes bearing a switch to beat ‘bad children’…

Young Snoefrith, daughter of the Erl-King, leaves her homeland on a quest to find her lost mother…and a life. As she travels in wild, unfamiliar lands, she is accosted by Old Nickor, a red-robed goblin who flies the wintry skies in a sleigh pulled by coal-black deer, and his bestial companion, Krampus. Nickor sets Krampus upon Snowfrith, seeking to capture her to sell to the Kobold King who dwells under the mountains.
Rescued by Red Roo, a feisty girl who is the best archer in the Wandron tribe, Snoefrith believes she is now safe.
But Krampus is determined to capture his prey and please his master, Nickor. Under cover of darkness, he destroys the Wandron’s caravans and sends Snoefrith and Red Roo fleeing into the forest and beyond.
Soon they learn that they cannot flee forever.
The hunted must become the hunters….

KRAMPUS HUNTERS

A short fantasy novelette for all ages, 15,000 words.

Joyeux by Tansy Rayner RobertsJoyeux: A Musketeer Space Novella by Tansy Rayner Roberts

There’s mistletoe growing out of the walls, it’s snowing inside the space station, and a sex scandal is brewing that could bring down the monarchy. Must be Joyeux!

Joyeux on Paris Satellite is a seven day festival of drunken bets, poor decision-making, religious contemplation and tinsel. But mostly, poor decision-making. Athos and Porthos aren’t going to sleep together. Aramis is breaking up with her girlfriend because it’s that or marry her. Athos is not ready to deal with the ghost of his ex-husband. Oh, and no one wants Prince Alek to break his marriage contract by hooking up with a sexy Ambassador…

It’s down to the Musketeers and the Red Guard to save the space station and the solar system from disaster. So… that’s not going to end well.

This novella is a festive prequel to Musketeer Space, a genderflipped space opera retelling of The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.

Created for Christmas by Joynell SchultzCreated for Christmas by Joynell Schultz:

Need the perfect man? No problem—simply create him!

Ivy wanted nothing more for Christmas than to have someone to come home to…to have a companion to chat about her day with, and someone to show off at her family holiday celebrations.

This Christmas, she’s not going to be alone! Ivy decides to create her perfect companion at Dream Droids, the premier robotics company specializing in sentient humanoids. Ivy spends weeks with Dr. Pierce, creating her dream man, from his appearance, personality, and even his knowledge of her life.

There’s just a few problems: when a special gift she purchased for her father goes missing, and Dr. Pierce agrees to help her find it, she finds herself falling for him. After getting her heart stomped on by her ex-fiancé, there’s no way she can open it up again…besides, she just created the perfect man.

Jingle Stars by Jenny SchwartzJingle Starr by Jenny Schwartz:

When a starship decides to play Santa Claus…

Ahab is a mLa’an artificial intelligence embedded in the starship, Orion.

The campaign for AIs to be recognized as full citizens of Galaxy Proper is within reach of its extraordinary goal. The only thing that could stop it now is if an AI did something foolish…like take a space station hostage to save eight orphaned children.

***
And this is the letter to Santa that starts it all:

Dear Santa

I don’t know if yourreindeers work in space. But if you have room in your sleigh after you finishdelivering presents to the lucky kids with parents and homes, can you come and getme and my friends? Please?

We’ve been good. Well,we haven’t been really bad. We’re on Station Elphame, in the junkyard, and Zoeis sick. She’s bad sick. I think she’d be better on a planet. We don’t needpresents. We just need a way out of here. Ollie tried to sneak onto atrampship…he died.

Please, Santa, I don’twant any more of my friends to die.

Aiden.

Elves and Deer by Hollis ShilohElves and Deer by Hollis Shiloh:

Greer is a reindeer shifter working at a magical shipping hub up North. He has little use for or understanding of elves—such delicate, short-lived creatures—but he tries to do his best by the ones in his life. And it seems like more and more are coming into his life, confusing and frustrating him, needing help, needing rescued.

Since Greer is always busy, it’s easy to overlook the things he doesn’t want to acknowledge—until a terrible danger gives him unwanted time to think…and to realize there’s just one elf who means more to him than he’s ever wanted to admit.

A Christmas tale
38,000 words
Heat level: very low

Blood and Mistletoe by E.J. StevensBlood and Mistletoe by E.J. Stevens:

Holidays are worse than a full moon for making people crazy. In Harborsmouth, where many of the residents are undead vampires or monstrous fae, the combination may prove deadly.

Ivy Granger, psychic private investigator, returns to the streets of Harborsmouth in this addition to the bestselling urban fantasy series.

Holidays are Hell, a point driven home when a certain demon attorney returns with information regarding a series of bloody murders. Five Harborsmouth residents have been killed and every victim has one thing in common–they are fae. Whoever is killing faeries must be stopped, but they only leave one clue behind–a piece of mistletoe floating in a pool of the victim’s blood.

The holidays just got interesting. Too bad this case may drive Ivy mad before the New Year. Heck, she’ll be lucky to survive Christmas.

Cloaked in Christmas by T.F. WalshCloaked in Christmas by T.F. Walsh:

After fleeing her abusive ex, wulfkin Cacey Varg and her daughter settle happily with a new pack in Finland. As Christmas approaches, Cacey learns her ex has found them and is on his way to take their daughter back. But a massive snowstorm prevents her from packing up and leaving town – and instead delivers a sexy stranger to her doorstep. Can she trust that he isn’t one of her ex’s henchmen?

Second-in-command to Europe’s most powerful wulfkin, hunter Vincent Lyall’s spur-of-the-moment decision to check on his ailing mother soon finds him marooned at a cabin in the woods by the blizzard of the century. Trapped with this spirited vixen, resisting temptation is easier said than done . . . But she refuses to believe he is who he says he is.

Is love powerful enough to win when two sexy wolf shifters, an unwelcome past, and animalistic urges wreak havoc on the holiday season?
Sensuality Level: Sensual

A Most Apocalyptic Christmas by Phil WilliamsA Most Apocalyptic Christmas by Phil Williams:

On the night before Christmas, mercenary Scullion’s ride home is ambushed halfway between the last surviving cities in America. Concerned only with getting drunk for the holiday, his attempts to abandon his fellow passengers to bandits lead him on a collision course with a barbaric community who have utterly distorted the seasonal spirit. This is one madcap night he cannot survive alone, challenging his perceptions of the meaning of Christmas.

A Most Apocalyptic Christmas is a near-future dystopian novella, set in a war-ravaged land where chaotic city states are all that are left of once powerful countries. Born fighters like the thug Scullion are the predominant survivors in this desolate world devoid of resources, comforts and hope.

This is a Faergrowe Free State novella, set in the same world of the screenplay The Faergrowe Principle.

Elixirs and Elves by Astoria WrightElixirs and Elves by Astoria Wright:

The elves of Mount Vale are throwing a Christmas Party, and they’ve invited everyone! While the human residents of Moss Hill are excited to attend, many of the sidhe find the invitation beneath them. It’s no secret that they dislike mingling with non-faeries, but are they so hostile toward humans that one of them would commit murder? Carissa has never gotten along with the sidhe guard, but Varick of Vale has helped her on occasion. So, when he asks for her help after suspicion falls on him, it’s up to her to prove his innocence – if, that is, he isn’t guilty after all.

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Murder under the Mistletoe 2018 – A Round-up of the Best Indie Holiday Mysteries and Crime Fiction

Murder under the Mistletoe banner

Our monthly round-ups of new speculative fiction and new crime fiction releases by indie authors are a perennially popular feature. Therefore, we now offer you a round-up of our favourite holiday mysteries by indie authors.

The holiday mysteries cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have plenty of cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, culinary mysteries, animal mysteries, paranormal mysteries, historical mysteries, Victorian mysteries, WWII mysteries, romantic suspense, police procedurals, crime thrillers, pulp thrillers, men’s adventure, private eyes, masked crime fighters, telepathic detectives, crime-fighting witches, crime-fighting bakers, crime-fighting watchmakers, crime-fighting dogs, murder in circusses and aboard cruise ships, in ski resorts and cupcake shops, in small towns and the big city, missing children, missing presents, orphans in danger and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set around the holidays.

As always with my round-up posts, this round-up of the best indie holiday mysteries is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime 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:

A Very Mercy Christmas by M.Z. AndrewsA Very Mercy Christmas: A Witch Squad Holiday Special by M.Z. Andrews:

It’s Christmas time at the Paranormal Institute for Witches. Excited to go home for the holidays and be reunited with their families, Mercy, Jax, Holly, Sweets, and Alba say their goodbyes. However, when an unpredicted snowstorm ravages Aspen Falls, the girls must scramble to figure out their next move. Tempers flare as blame is placed and feelings are hurt. By the looks of it, Christmas will surely be ruined.

But when a surprise visitor arrives, the girls are forced to find out what friendship really means and decide whether or not it’s worth saving. Visited by some blasts from the past, the girls are given glimpses into each other’s pasts and find out what life would have been like if they’d never met and formed the Witch Squad on the first day of classes.

A Very Mercy Christmas is the 5th book in the Witch Squad Cozy Mystery series – there is no mystery to solve, instead sit back and enjoy a Christmas story about what went down over the Witch Squad’s first winter break and get a glimpse into the lives of each of the girls before they met.

The Season for Slaying by Hillary AvisThe Season for Slaying by Hillary Avis:

All is quiet at the Pines and Needles Christmas Tree Farm. Too quiet.

It’s Christmas Eve, and Darla Cooper is merrily preparing for a family holiday when she witnesses a shocking murder in the woods.

Luckily, her son is a police detective. The problem? He doesn’t believe her—and the body is missing.

Darla must prove that a murder occurred, but she has no body, no witnesses, and no evidence except her own memory—which, to be honest, isn’t that great these days. Plus, she didn’t have her glasses on.

Join Darla as she hunts down a killer…just in time for Christmas.

The Season for Slaying is a short holiday cozy mystery story full of suspense, snowflakes, and sleighbells.

Fatal Festive Donuts by Cindy BellFatal Festive Donuts by Cindy Bell:

Christmastime at the holiday market means mistletoe, colorful lights and…a dead body.

It is almost Christmas and Joyce and Brenda are excited to get a coveted spot at the local holiday market. Business is thriving and they are looking forward to celebrating the holidays.

But Christmas becomes the last thing on their minds when a dead body is found on ‘Donuts on the Move’. Not only is their truck shut down, but they become the prime suspects. With the evidence stacking up against them and a detective who thinks they’re guilty, they decide to take things into their own hands and find the murderer.

Joyce and Brenda’s investigations lead them straight towards danger. Will they find the killer before they land up in handcuffs or even become victims themselves?

Recipe Included: Baked Gingerbread Donuts with Ginger Glaze

A Merry Murder at St. Bernard Cabins by Cindy BellA Merry Murder at St. Bernard Cabins by Cindy Bell:

A pet-loving sleuth. A perplexing murder. Will the murder be solved before the clues are buried forever?

Nikki Green is taking a break from walking and pet-sitting her loyal companions. She is going to a ski resort for the holidays for some quiet time with her family. To her delight her solo journey turns into a group excursion. However, the trip doesn’t go according to plan when Nikki lands up in the middle of a snowstorm.

Then things go from bad to worse when someone is murdered, and her brother is the prime suspect. With the roads impassable, and two inexperienced officers on the case, Nikki decides to take matters into her own hands and clear her brother’s name. She plows through a mountain of clues to reveal the truth before the snow melts and the murderer disappears forever.

It’s a slippery slope of suspects and danger as she goes hurtling towards the truth.

A Bullet for Father Christmas by Cora BuhlertA Bullet for Father Christmas by Cora Buhlert:

When two men dressed up as Father Christmas rob a London jewellery store and one of them ends up dead on the floor, shot by his own accomplice, it’s certainly one of the more unusual cases for Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team. But as Helen begins to investigate, it turns out that the case is even more bizarre than she suspected.

This is a mystery novelette of 9300 words or approx. 30 print pages.

 

St. Nicholas of Hell's KitchenSt. Nicholas of Hell’s Kitchen by Cora Buhlert:

Christmas time in 1930s New York. After escaping through the chimney of an orphanage in Hell’s Kitchen, Richard Blakemore a.k.a. the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer is mistaken for Santa Claus by one of the children and learns that the orphanage is under siege by both a gang of brutal racketeers and an unscrupulous landlord.

Richard vows to help the children and their guardians. However, it turns out that the attacks on the orphanage are only part of a much larger plot, when Richard’s quest for justice leads him into the upper echelons of Manhattan’s high society.

Soon, the Silencer finds himself face to face with one of the most powerful men in the city, while Richard and Constance struggle to save the orphanage and give the children of Hell’s Kitchen an unforgettable Christmas.

This is a novella of 30000 words or approximately 100 pages in the Silencer series, but may be read as a standalone.

Merry Masquerade in Savannah by Hope CallaghanMerry Masquerade in Savannah by Hope Callaghan

Carlita, Mercedes, and Tony are gearing up to celebrate their first Thanksgiving at their new home in historic Savannah, Georgia. Along with the excitement of the upcoming holiday season, there’s a lingering sadness because part of their family won’t be there to celebrate.

When Carlita’s friend, Victoria “Tori” Montgomery, invites the Garlucci family to her “Merry Masquerade” party at Montgomery Hall, Carlita is thrilled to have something to take her mind off the approaching holiday.

Despite a recent theft and an assault on her butler, Tori moves forward with her party plans, a grand affair and a gathering of Savannah’s elite. The Merry Masquerade turns out to be everything it was billed to be and more, when one of Tori’s employees is found murdered inside the pool house.

Is the murder linked to the recent break-in and the butler’s attack at Montgomery Hall? Could the killer be living under Tori’s roof? Or was it a masked party guest trying to make it look like an inside job?

Join the Garlucci women as they help one of Savannah’s most prominent residents track down a killer!

Reindeer and Robberies by Hope CallaghanReindeers and Robberies by Hope Callaghan:

The Christmas Season is in full swing on board the cruise ship, Siren of the Seas thanks to Andy Walker, the ship’s cruise director who is all in on his new holiday theme, “The Reindeer Games.”

Millie and her co-worker, Danielle, are tasked with taking charge of the holiday theme and everything is running smoothly until one of the reindeer comes up missing. But the missing reindeer is the least of the security staff’s worries after a string of thefts are reported.

Millie jumps in with an investigation of her own that soon turns south when a stalker surfaces, determined to make her life miserable or worse yet.

Despite escalating incidents from the deranged stalker, Millie sorts the clues and discovers a possible link between the mysterious thefts and her stalker that hits close to home.

Can Millie survive the holiday season…or even more terrifying…make it out alive?

The Christmas Key by Philippa Nefri ClarkThe Christmas Key by Philippa Nefri Clark

A hot summer Christmas Day is just around the corner in the Australian seaside town of River’s End. Beachside BBQs and sumptuous dinners are on the menu.

But Martha Blake is like a dog with a bone, determined to solve the last of the cottage mysteries. She and great-niece Christie begin a secret investigation.

Meanwhile, Thomas is busy with his own clues and enlists the help of his reluctant grandson, Martin.

At Palmerston House, loving new couple Elizabeth and Angus face their greatest obstacle, throwing their happy future into doubt.

With everyone working at cross-purposes, who will find themselves in the middle, cast decades back into memories of a terrible mistake?

Is love enough this time, as the beloved residents of River’s End deal with the fallout of the old mystery? Who, or what, will bring them all together in time for Christmas?

The Christmas Key is a heartwarming novella rounding off the Christie Ryan Romantic Mystery series with the last of the secrets revealed, and delightful Christmas magic to touch the favourite residents of River’s End. Read as a standalone, or start the series with The Stationmaster’s Cottage.

Merry Buried Christmas by Lyndsey ColeMerry Buried Christmas by Lyndsey Cole:

Murder always ruins the best baked plans . . .

Annie Hunter has a lot on her plate just before Christmas, but it’s not all sugar and spice and everything nice! With an open house at her aunt’s new Blackbird Bed and Breakfast, all Annie hopes for is a drama-free day.

Of course, events never go as planned.

On top of preparing a whirlwind of food, holiday decorating, and keeping to a tight schedule, a surprise visitor is also on the menu. When that visitor turns up dead, Annie must search for the killer to keep everything from crumbling like a stale Christmas cookie.

Annie’s plan to flush out the murderer includes one tasty bribe, a pinch of needling, and a heaping tablespoon of accusation. When she is threatened, it’s time to put it all on the back burner.

But the killer has other ideas.

While the snowflakes fly, Annie finds herself caught between a cookie and a crazy person. This time, it looks like she bit off more than she can chew.

***Merry Buried Christmas is volume 12 in the Black Cat Cafe Cozy Mystery Series. Lyndsey’s books can be read and enjoyed in any order.

The Cop Who Stole Christmas by Christie CraigThe Cop Who Stole Christmas by Christie Craig:

It’ll take a tall, hot Texan and a little holiday spirit to mend a broken heart and catch a Christmas killer . . .

Savanna Edwards is feeling downright Scrooge-like. Who can blame her? A truly unjolly Santa—suit, beard and all—just repossessed her car because of her ex’s shady business dealings. She’d like to murder the no-good lying cheat, but somebody already did that for her—and left him right in the middle of her kitchen, wrapped up with a bow.

Detective Mark Donaldson has a rule against getting involved with his neighbors. He can look—and he’s studied every sweet curve of Savanna from across the street—but he can’t touch. So when she lands on his doorstep in need of help, he finds himself torn between being naughty or nice, and fights every urge to unwrap her like a shiny new Christmas present.

Trouble is, even Mark can’t resist a little holiday magic . . . and there’s definitely something magical happening between him and the girl next door.

Jingle Bells and Deadly Smells by Amber CreweJingle Bells and Deadly Smells by Amber Crewe:

“Each of the Sandy Bay mysteries are great! I think they just keep getting better.”

Christmas is that season…that season of pleasant surprises…delicious smells…and family and friends to share the holidays with.

This Christmas, Sandy Bay’s lovable bakery owner, Meghan Truman, gets a whole lot more than she bargained for…plus a dead body at the door of her favorite restaurant. Some people would rather sweep this murder under the carpet but something smells awfully fishy about the events surrounding it.

Will Meghan join Detective Irvin to find the murderer or will this event serve to etch unpleasant memories of this most wonderful time of the year?

Twelve Days by Mark DawsonTwelve Days by Mark Dawson:

John Milton hasn’t seen Elijah Warriner for three years. The last time they met, Milton’s efforts to keep the boy safe didn’t go exactly to plan. Now Elijah is a promising boxer, preparing for the bout that will take him to the big time. Milton decides that he will spend the week before Christmas in London so that he can watch the fight.

But Elijah’s burgeoning fame has brought him to the attention of old acquaintances with long memories and grudges to bear. They have noticed Elijah, too, and decide that now is the time to settle old scores.

Can Milton keep the young man and his mother safe, or will Elijah’s old running mates get to him first?

Trepalli's Christmas by Marcelle DubéTrepalli’s Christmas by Marcelle Dubé:

It’s Christmas eve day and Constable Marco Trepalli of the Mendenhall Police Department can’t wait to be off shift. He’s planning a big surprise for his girlfriend, Amanda. Something special. Something romantic.

Then a kid doesn’t return home after sledding and Trepalli forgets all about his plans in the mad scramble to mobilize search parties and interview the kid’s friends. And as hour after hour slips by with no sign of the boy, Trepalli braces himself for what could turn into the worst Christmas ever… for him and the kid’s family.

Winter Downs by Jan EdwardsWinter Downs by Jan Edwards:

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

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

 

Spirit of the Season by Cynthia E. HurstSpirit of the Season by Cynthia E. Hurst:

In a season of peace and goodwill, it was shocking for residents of the Cotswold town to learn a stranger had been murdered in their midst. It was even more shocking that he died on the doorstep of the town’s police inspector’s home as he was entertaining guests on Christmas Eve. It appeared Daniel Keegan’s only failing had been to fall in love with the wrong person, something that sends a chilling message to two of the inspector’s guests. Newlyweds Jacob Silver and Sarah Simm are used to criticism, but does Keegan’s death mean their own lives may be in danger?

‘Spirit of the Season’ is the eighth book in the Silver and Simm Victorian Mysteries series.

Potluck by Cynthia E. HurstPotluck by Cynthia E. Hurst:

The R&P Labs staff members are planning their Christmas potluck lunch when a stranger arrives on the doorstep with an announcement that threatens to turn several lives upside down. ’Tis the season to be wary, and in this short story, the five scientific sleuths have to do some rapid research to discover whether one of them will be getting a very unusual Christmas present.

 

 

Zukie's Gift by Cynthia E. HurstZukie’s Gift by Cynthia E. Hurst:

All sorts of things were donated for St Augustine’s Christmas bazaar — books, second-hand clothes, cookies, murder weapons …

Zukie’s Gift is a short story and part of the Zukie Merlino Mysteries series.

 

 

 

Big Top Treachery by CeeCee JamesBig Top Treachery by CeeCee James:

Christmas at the Circus!

What if the holly berry meant more than a cozy Christmas tradition? When Trixie, billed by the Concello circus as the world’s smallest Lady Godiva, finds a large ruby on the circus grounds, she thinks she’s one of the luckiest people on earth. Until she learns the stone’s past is stained as holly-red as the jewel itself. ??

When the police get involved, suspicion is cast not just on Trixie, but on her other friends at the circus. ??The pressure is on with Trixie getting threats from an anonymous source. When the calliope player is murdered, Trixie knows the threats she has been receiving aren’t just to scare her… she’ll be the next to die if she can’t find out the truth about the stone and unmask the murderer?

How Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. LeeHow Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. Lee:

Fourteen years ago, Christmas hit Walkerville with a bang. Or, rather, a big ball of fire.
When a local group home for orphaned children goes up in smoke right before the holidays, Tillie Winchester volunteers her family to take in some kids – even though her arch nemesis Margaret Little is dead-set against it. Of course, that’s part of the appeal for Tillie so she’s considering it a win.

Three boys – all of them with a little attitude – have no idea what to expect from the Winchester household. No matter what, Tillie is sure they’re about to get more than they bargained for. In short order, they’re welcomed into the family at the same time the town is on edge due to a second fire.

Tillie is determined to prove the boys are innocent while also finding them a forever home … even if she has to take on a local judge and declare all out war to do it.

So, hang your stockings by the fire and sit back for another Christmas with the Winchesters. You’ll never be the same again.

Note: This is a 28,000-word novella set in the Wicked Witches of the Midwest world. It’s set back in the past so it can be read in any order.

Cremas, Christmas Cookies and Crroks by Harper LinCremas, Christmas Cookies and Crooks by Harper Lin:

It’s almost Christmastime in Cape Bay, and another murder has everyone in town talking. A despised new drama teacher at the local high school is killed in the school’s parking lot. The police arrest a beloved teacher, Mrs. Crowsdale, but everyone else thinks she is too nice to murder anyone. Mike, however, says they have solid evidence that proves she did it.

Sammy is particularly devastated. Mrs. Crowsdale was her favorite teacher and still her hero. Sammy begs Fran to find the real culprit. Fran isn’t so sure. Mike would be angry with her for butting in on another case. And what if more danger befalls her? After all, there are some pretty dangerous people in town…

Includes 3 special recipes!

Pilfered Promises by M. Louisa LockePilfered Promises by M. Louisa Locke:

Holiday cover edition: It is November, 1880, and the future looks promising for Annie and Nate Dawson. Nate’s law practice is taking off. Annie has made the transition from pretend clairvoyant to a successful financial consultant. And they are looking forward to spending their first Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays together.

For Robert Livingston, the owner San Francisco’s newest grand emporium, the holidays don’t look so promising. Not if he can’t figure out how to stop whoever is stealing from his department store, the Silver Strike Bazaar. However, when he hires the Dawsons to investigate, they discover that behind the doors of his “Palace of Plenty,” nothing is quite what it seems.

Pilfered Promises, a sweet cozy historical mystery, is the fifth novel in the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series featuring Annie and Nate Dawson and their friends and family in the O’Farrell Street boarding house and it comes right before the newest novella, Kathleen Catches a Killer

Kathleen Catches a Killer by M. Louisa LockeKathleen Catches a Killer by M. Louisa Locke:

It’s the very end of December, 1880, and the servant Kathleen Hennessey expects to spend a quiet week taking care of the O’Farrell Street boarding house while her employers, Annie and Nate Dawson, are off spending the Christmas holidays with Nate’s family. However, when she agrees to help out one of her friends, Kathleen discovers that a simple case of a servant being dismissed without notice has turned into a complicated puzzle that she is determined to solve.

While featuring minor characters from Locke’s Victorian San Francisco mystery series, Kathleen Catches a Killer contains all the light romance, humor, and suspense of the longer works. Chronologically, this novella comes right after the events in Pilfered Promises, but it can be read as a stand-alone and an excellent introduction to this mystery series about the gas-lit world of the late 19th century.

'Tis the Season by Jean Louise and Michael Yaworsky‘Tis the Season: Two short holiday stories by Jean Louise and Michael Yaworsky:

Heartwarming stories of comfort and joy….

In Stealing Christmas, two modern-day Robin Hoods use a little fa-la-la-la-larceny to bring cheer to those who could use it most.

Tipping Point is the story of a single act of generosity that sets a series of acts into motion, touching a surprising number of people with the holiday spirit.

 

Iced Inn by Karen MacInerneyIced Inn by Karen MacInerney:

It’s Christmastime at the Gray Whale Inn. The inn’s kitchen smells like ginger and spice, the ground is frosted with snow, and wedding bells are about to ring out for innkeeper Natalie’s favorite niece, Gwen. It’s a joyous time… until the families of the bride and groom descend on the island, bringing nasty tempers and a wicked winter storm with them. Add a baffling rash of thefts, a dash of romantic intrigue, and an unexpected power shutdown, and Natalie’s plans for a magical season are looking more like a recipe for disaster. Can Natalie find the missing gifts before the big holiday? And will the happy couple make it to the altar… or will the wedding go up in flames?

A Mind Reader's Christmas by Al MacyA Mind Reader’s Christmas by Al Macy:

Eric Beckman, a mind-reading private investigator, is spending Christmas in snowy Vermont with his wife and daughter. He needs a break from solving cases, but the townspeople convince him to look into the village mystery: Every holiday season, someone switches the baby Jesus with one of the other figures in the town’s Nativity scene.

With the help of his ten-year-old daughter, also a mind reader, he soon learns that some of the residents of the small town are not who–or even what–they seem to be. There’s something supernatural going on in Newburn, Vermont.

His investigation causes an escalation of strange happenings, and soon, swapped manger figures are the least of the town’s worries. If Beckman can’t adjust his view of the world–force himself to believe in things he never thought possible–the Christmas vacation could turn out to be his family’s last.

A Mind Reader’s Christmas may be read as a standalone book or as Book Four in the Eric Beckman series.

The Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona MarpleThe Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona Marple:

What if Father Christmas is on the naughty list?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Mystic Springs, but all is not still or calm with the department store Santa.

The amateur dramatics club is full of big egos and legends-in-their-own-heads, so their spats aren’t unusual. But when the theatre owner is shot dead during the Christmas play, it’s Santa who pulls the trigger.

With the arrival of an unwelcome ex, a petition to end Discrimination Against Spirits, and a second attack by St Nick, the chances of a quiet Christmas seem to be quickly disappearing.

Has Santa really gone bad? Or is there more to it?

Town medium Connie and her dead sister Sage are both avoiding their own festive conundrums. A mistletoe murder is just the distraction they need.

Frostycake Murder by Summer PrescottFrostycake Murder by Summer Prescott:

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MISSY AND CHAS!!!

Life is full of surprises in the sleepy beachside town of Calgon, Florida, and the holiday season proves to be no exception. Echo faces a new reality that could change her life forever, Missy and Chas wrestle with the pain of facing their own limitations and uncertainties, while Spencer finds himself in a sticky situation relationally.

In the midst of all of the personal turmoil, a gruesome murder is discovered, and Chas once again has to take charge and hope that he finds the ruthless killer, before tragedy strikes a bit closer to home.

North Pole Unlimited by Elle RushNorth Pole Unlimited: Decker and Joy by Elle Rush:
Jaded P.I. Decker Harkness must track down a missing prototype if he wants a shot at a corporate security contract. Sexy cat-lady Joy McCall has her own investigation running after someone breaks into her animal shelter. When they cross paths during a triple kitten-napping, they’ll have to work together to close their cases. Will everyone make it home to celebrate a merry Christmas together?

Only Santa knows.

 

Blood and Mistletoe by E.J. StevensBlood and Mistletoe by E.J. Stevens:

Holidays are worse than a full moon for making people crazy. In Harborsmouth, where many of the residents are undead vampires or monstrous fae, the combination may prove deadly.

Ivy Granger, psychic private investigator, returns to the streets of Harborsmouth in this addition to the bestselling urban fantasy series.

Holidays are Hell, a point driven home when a certain demon attorney returns with information regarding a series of bloody murders. Five Harborsmouth residents have been killed and every victim has one thing in common–they are fae. Whoever is killing faeries must be stopped, but they only leave one clue behind–a piece of mistletoe floating in a pool of the victim’s blood.

The holidays just got interesting. Too bad this case may drive Ivy mad before the New Year. Heck, she’ll be lucky to survive Christmas.

Gusty Lovers and Cadavers by Anne R. TanGusty Lovers and Cadavers by Anne R. Tan:

Gusty winds…and a trail of destruction.

Graduate student Raina Sun is in for a season of mayhem and murder. When she volunteered to take the new foreign exchange student shopping on the last weekend before Christmas, she ended up in a riot for the last hot toy of the season and an abandoned baby. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be a Good Samaritan.

But calling the mysterious phone number in the diaper bag leads to more questions than answers. A strange man claims to be the child’s father, and his alleged mother turns up dead. The local police are more interested in keeping the town’s good name out of international news than considering if there’s foul play. And to make matters worse, she has less than a week to find his birth parents before the FBI takes over the case.

Raina summons her sleuthing skills to protect this baby and soon discovers everyone has a few skeletons in their closets. With her pimp-cane-toting grandma, she must track down a hidden killer before she becomes the next victim. There’s no place for an amateur when it comes to murder…

Don’t miss out on Raina’s new adventure–get your copy of “Gusty Lovers and Cadavers” today!

Pineapple Gingerbread Men by Amy VansantPineapple Gingerbread Men by Amy Vansant:

Sheriff Frank asks newly-minted private detective Charlotte to help him crack the case, but she has no idea those darn gingerbread men will start showing up everywhere. What did Santa do that made them so angry? And what’s the secret in his colorful Christmas-themed bureau?

Charlotte is forced to split her time between searching for Santa’s killer and helping Declan’s crazy ex-Stephanie stop a corrupt district attorney in exchange for a book that could help solve more crimes in the future. She never thought she’d help calculating Stephanie with anything…but as this story comes to it’s shocking ending, you’ll find it could be Stephanie who’s finally bitten off more cookie than she can chew…

Tangled Destiny by Jenny WheelerTangled Destiny by Jenny Wheeler:

A promising proposal. A life-changing secret. Will she live out a lie or follow her heart?

New York, 1847. Elanora dreams of marrying her childhood sweetheart Eustace. The proposal on her 21st birthday is everything she hoped for, until her fiancé’s father dispatches him to the West Indies. After the promise of a white Christmas with the man she loves evaporates, she stumbles upon a secret that could tear Eustace’s family apart…

After a sudden death further sends Elanora reeling, she’s as vulnerable as ever until a gifted photographer comes to her rescue. With the tragic love triangle forming before her eyes and the secret burning within her, she has an impossible Christmas choice. Will Elanora obey the powerful men who want to control her or will she trigger generations of consequences by exposing the truth?

Tangled Destiny is a prequel novella to the Of Gold & Blood historical mystery series.

Run-A-Way for Christmas by Victoria L.K. WilliamsRun-A-Way for Christmas by Victoria L.K. Williams:

Christmas is all about children, but usually not all the children at once.

Megan and her faithful beagle Barney meet a gang of runaway children at the beach. Soon the investigative duo learn of exploitation, injury, and murder and with the help of FBI consultant Aiden and his dog, Gypsy, begin to investigate.

Megan’s family and friends rally round and share the joy of Christmas with the children who need it most, while Megan finds that Christmas is truly a time of love.

Elixirs and Elves by Astoria WrightElixirs and Elves by Astoria Wright:

The elves of Mount Vale are throwing a Christmas Party, and they’ve invited everyone! While the human residents of Moss Hill are excited to attend, many of the sidhe find the invitation beneath them. It’s no secret that they dislike mingling with non-faeries, but are they so hostile toward humans that one of them would commit murder? Carissa has never gotten along with the sidhe guard, but Varick of Vale has helped her on occasion. So, when he asks for her help after suspicion falls on him, it’s up to her to prove his innocence – if, that is, he isn’t guilty after all.

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Just a Couple of Links

I’ve been planning to write a long blogpost about science fiction and originality, but I’ve been busy with writing, publishing, day job work, holiday related stuff, etc…, so I shelved that post for now. However, I have also been busy elsewhere on the web, so here are a couple of links:

For starters, I have a guest post up at File 770, a review of the anthology Terror at the Crossroads – Tales of Horror, Delusion, and the Unknown, edited by Emily Hockaday and Jackie Sherbow. As the title indicates, it’s a cross genre anthology, featuring stories that mix crime and mystery fiction with science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Furthermore, I’ve been interviewed for the Thrills and Mystery podcast by J. David Core. The direct link to the interview is here. And in case you’re wondering about the new release I’m talking about on the podcast, there’ll be a massive new release announcement in the next few days. At the moment, I’m just waiting for some of the slower retailers to get the books up.

Finally, the good folks at Magic Book Deals have organised a book fair for holiday and winter-themed books. Lots of holiday stories in different genres, including some of mine, all available for only 99 cents. For a full list of the books, go here.

Christmas Book Fair banner

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