Friday, November 21, 2014

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for November 21, 2014


  Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web:

Speculative fiction in general:

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Odds and ends: 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Celebrate Imagination - A guest post by Deirdre Gould

Today, we welcome Deirdre Gould here at the Speculative Fiction Showcase to talk about the Celebrate Imagination event: 
So what is Celebrate Imagination anyway? It’s a new event including a party and epic book sale for Science Fiction and Fantasy lovers. On November 20th, 26 authors will be hosting a facebook event to kick off the holiday season. We’ll be giving away ebooks, paperbacks, audiobooks and other goodies. One lucky winner will receive a Kindle Paperwhite chock full of science fiction and fantasy novels. We’ll also be doing our favorite thing, talking to readers!
 In addition to giveaways, we will have dozens of books listed at huge discounts and for free. They run the gamut including paranormal, space opera, fantasy, post-apocalyptic, dystopian, cyberpunk, and techno thrillers. For a sneak peek at our entire catalog, the sales we’ll be offering and to grab a few free reads to tide you over until then, visit Celebrate Imagination at www.scullerytales.com .
 Tell your friends, come to the party, win great stuff. Most of all, it’s a celebration of the science fiction and fantasy stories we all love. We’ll have reviewers, bloggers, podcasters, readers, and authors all mingling and getting our geek on.
Our event kicks off on November 20th on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/372340212919168/  and linked free books will be free at least for that day (most will be free for the weekend following) and discounted books will start that day as well.  We've prepared links to our free books on amazon here:
hyperurl.co/fantasyandparanormal 
hyperurl.co/spaceanddystopian
and to all other vendors as well, on our own site here: 
 And discounted books (all 2.99 or below):
hyperurl.co/discountfantasypara
hyperurl.co/discountsciencefic
and on our own site for all vendors: 
About Deirdre Gould:  
Deirdre Gould lives in Central Maine with her three children and husband. She's also resided in northern Idaho, coastal Virginia and central Pennsylvania, but all of them just led her back home.The winters sure are cold, but that just means the zombies run slower. The area is isolated, but that just means the apocalyptic diseases don't spread as quickly. And the storms are bad enough that no one thinks you're crazy for "prepping." It's kind of ideal for a post-apocalypse writer when you think about it.
Visit her website, follow her on Twitter or buy her books at Amazon.
 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

To Make a Witch by Heather Hamilton-Senter

Subgenre: YA urban fantasy
Release date: November 11, 2014

About To Make a Witch

On December 17th, 2013, a vandal painted the tomb of Marie Laveau—the famed Voodoo Queen of New Orleans—bright pink. It is believed that the vandal’s intent was to cover the X marks that had been scratched into the tomb. This story takes place just after that event.

At her old high school, Lacey found herself on the wrong side of a conflict between Celtic gods. Making a new start in an exclusive boarding school in New Orleans, she hopes to forget that she was once on the verge of becoming a powerful witch—and everything she’s lost both since and before then.

When a gruesome murder occurs in the very heart of Westover Academy, Lacey discovers a connection between it and the desecration of the tomb of Marie Laveau, the famed Voodoo Queen. Haunted by a trauma in her past, Lacey must solve the mystery before she becomes the killer’s next target.

Circumstances beyond her control may once again make Lacey McInnis—cheerleader, scholar, and all-around good girl—a witch. 

To Make A Witch is a novella featuring the enigmatic Lacey McInnis from Bound In Blue: Book One of the Sword of Elements series. While the events of the book takes place after Bound In Blue, To Make A Witch can be enjoyed on its own. 

Excerpt:


Grabbing my wrist, Ethan tugged me around to the right side of the structure. “Come see this.” I glanced at Ava, but she was kneeling and squinting at a small plaque on the front of Marie Laveau’s tomb.
The reflected light of a streetlamp shone directly on the side wall. With his free hand, Ethan pointed to a patch where the plaster was gone and brick showed through. He pushed on the exposed brick with his finger and a piece of it shifted.
When he smiled, he looked nothing at all like Peter. “You see, chère, I wasn’t exactly telling the whole truth. I actually spend a lot of time here. There’s always a tourist who’s wandered off or some kid sneaking in after dark on a dare. Easy pickings. I found the paint in the garage of a house down the street; it must have come from a little girl’s bedroom. The color didn’t matter. I just had to break the binding spells protecting the tomb.”
“Why?” I whispered.
He shrugged. “I don’t know why actually. It’s what the creature asked me to do. I never saw it clearly; it hid in the shadows.” He laughed and his accent deepened. “When I came back the next day, do you know what I found?”
Prolonged contact was proof that Ethan’s hand wasn’t just cold from the night air; it was a band of ice around my wrist. He leaned in close and his breath was sour against my face. “Or to be exact, what I didn’t find.” Placing his other hand flat against the wall, Ethan gave a push and several bricks fell into the tomb, leaving an opening just big enough to put your upper body through. A foul smell emanated from it, but I wouldn’t give Ethan the satisfaction of seeing me gag.
He looked disappointed. “Don’t you get it? All the bones were missing—poor Marie Laveau and how many others of her kin she was mingled with—but their loss was my gain. I’ve now got a nice little hidey-hole for my special friends when I’m done with them.” He smiled and his teeth were white and sharp in the pale light of the crescent moon. “After all, what good is a tomb if it’s empty?”

Amazon

 

About Heather Hamilton-Senter

Heather Hamilton-Senter grew up in a family where books of myth and legend were used to teach the ABCs and Irish uncles still believed in fairies. Raised with tall tales, she has always told stories too- first as an actor and singer, then as a photographer, and now as a writer.

Heather lives in rural Ontario, Canada raising Summer, Holly, and little Stephen to tell their own stories, cheered on by her biggest fan, her husband Steve.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Journey of the Hunted (Werewolves in the Renaissance 2) by Tracy Falbe

Subgenre: Historical Fantasy
Release Date: November 8, 2014

About Journey of the Hunted:

Facing uncertain destinies, Thal and Altea must escape Bohemia. The Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand himself has signed the warrant for Thal’s capture on charges of shape shifting and the killing of Jesuits.

A hefty reward attracts countless bounty hunters into the heart of this 16th century Christian empire. Thal emerges from hiding with his young wife Altea who is barely recovered from torture at the hands of witch hunters. With his werewolf powers, he battles the bounty hunters and begins a daring journey across the Holy Roman Empire.

But more than men stalk him. Servants of Tekax, sorcerer to the Turks, have been unleashed upon his trail.

The werewolf Rotfeng covets the enchanted fur that lets Thal change form at will, regardless of the phase of the moon.

Worse yet comes Janfelter, an undying fext created in the dark fortress of Tekax.

These heartless killers are tasked with stopping Thal from reaching his father Sarputeen, the arch nemesis of Tekax. Thal’s only refuge awaits him in what is left of the Kingdom of Hungary after a Turkish conquest. In the remote castle Vlkbohveza the ancient sorcerer Sarputeen lives untouched despite widespread persecution of magic users and pagans.

Although Thal longs to be with his own kind, he worries about the reunion with his father. It was Sarputeen’s magic that made Thal a werelord, a master of wolves. But what shall the sorcerer require of his creation now that Tekax aims to settle an old score?

Excerpt:

Mileko left and Thal bundled his possessions in his cloak. Holding the fur around his waist, he waited. Anticipation nibbled beneath his skin. His deep longing for the time when he had been only a wolf welled up. The legacy of his many years in the forest approached. They were slipping over the mountain top. Their hot breath passed over meaty tongues. They had been running all day. From the sky a raven streaked down like a black stone and seized upon a perch near Thal. A single tired croak was its greeting. The horses uphill neighed nervously, and Thal prepared his heart to meet his kin.

The wolves appeared among the trees like bubbles breaking the surface of still waters. On wide silent paws they loped on lanky legs. They were sleek in summer coats, brown, gray, and black, and eyed him with the utmost interest.

Thal gasped when their spirits collided against him. After months as a man he saw again the beauty of the animal that was his soul. Wise faces held brutal jaws. Their strong bodies glided over terrain, every step an instantly choreographed marvel of movement.

The wolves slowed, overwhelmed as well by the sight of he who had called them.

“My children,” Thal whispered reverently.

As they advanced, their menace diminished into excited curiosity. Thal went to his knees and beckoned them. Twenty two wolves surrounded him but there was no malice in them. They circled and whined.

Thal breathed in their lupine scent, and vivid memories filled his head. He was back in a den surrounded by a pack and enclosed by the Earth.

A big gray male with white legs and chest came closer. A scar across the top of his skull told of a hard battle on a bitter day, but this fine alpha had only been made stronger by it.

Sniffing and with his tail high, he went to Thal who gently touched the pack leader’s fluffy cheek. The wolf leaned against him and Thal embraced him.

“Thank you for coming,” he whispered.

Then the other wolves mobbed him and he had to pet them all. They licked and sniffed his body and fur and armor. Their adoration pushed aside his sorrows and regrets and for a moment he knew only love and acceptance.

This fleeting joy ended when several of the wolves raised their snouts into the wind and growled. The rumble from the biggest alpha male was especially disapproving.

“Our enemies are coming,” Thal acknowledged sadly and stood up. When he began to chant the spell of transformation the wolves backed off and watched him with awe.

He was panting at the completion of his transformation. Fatigue weighed on his thick muscles and ravenous hunger tore at his gut. His great physique was not powered by magic alone and he felt the bony grip of hardship as he faced fierce battle.

Without question the wolves accepted his magnificent leadership.

He led them down the slope at an angle to flank Rotfeng’s oncoming group. The riders were just starting up. Their tired mounts stepped slowly and often snorted in protest. Thal and his wolves faded into the shadows with the stealth of their kind.


I was born in Michigan in 1972 and grew up in Mount Pleasant. It's called the "Mountain Town" but there is no mountain and it's debatable about whether it's pleasant. They say it's a party town and based on extensive research as a young adult I can concur.

Because I always had the childhood fantasy of running away and joining the circus, I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1995 and lived there until 1997. Those who only stay a week are wimps, but I will say that it's the second year in Vegas that wears you down. Then I realized the pioneers were trying to get to California, so I moved to Chico, in Northern California and lived there until 2009.

In 2000, I earned a journalism degree from California State University, Chico with the conscious ambition of becoming a fiction writer. With the rapid demise of the newspaper industry and journalism in general, novelist is not such a daft pursuit after all. It's not like I'm actually going to get a job that values my education. Luckily I'm cursed with the impulse to write in a popular yet competitive genre.

My wandering has circled back and I'm currently residing in Battle Creek, Michigan, and for now my existence within the post-apocalyptic Rust Belt is suitably fascinating.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for November 14, 2014


  Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web:

Speculative fiction in general:

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding and good causes:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Odds and ends:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mr. Wilson by Jeff Tanyard

Subgenre: Science Fiction
Release Date: November 3, 2014

ABOUT Mr. Wilson:

Terry Wilson has had enough of Earth.

Nothing remains there for him but painful memories. So when the Wagon Train project offers him the chance to settle a new planet, he jumps at the opportunity.

But when important news arrives from Earth, and the space mission experiences unexpected challenges, Terry wonders if he'll ever feel at home again.

Mr. Wilson is a 10,000-word short story. No sex or obscene language. It does contain some mild violence. Rated PG.

Excerpt:

“You understand, Mr. Wilson,” said the young bureaucrat in the cheap suit, “that once you sign this contract, everything is final.”

Terry nodded his old gray head. “I understand.”

The man wrote something on his notepad. “You will have no way of communicating with any friends or family you leave behind on Earth, even before you go in the pod.”

“I understand.”

“You're absolutely certain? You have a son, correct? You can live without ever speaking to him again?”

“I said so, didn't I? I passed my psych test, didn't I? Isn't that enough?”

“It's my job to be certain. Tests aren't completely accurate. The government wants an element of human judgment before giving the final go-ahead. I'm that judge. And I don't like the idea of sending a family man into deep space. Familial bonds are powerful forces, and we need people who are going to be completely focused on the task at hand, not distracted by loved ones left behind.”

Terry leaned forward with a scowl. “Listen, kid. I know you're just trying to do your job, but you don't know anything about me. Yeah, I've got a son. But I haven't talked to him in years. We had a fight one day, a real blow-up, and he took off, and that was that. He wants nothing to do with me, and it's taken me a long time to come to terms with that. But I have come to terms with it. And your attitude isn't helping. I don't want to talk about Keith, and I don't want to be reminded of him. The whole point of this trip is for me to leave everything behind, including him. There's too much pain here. I want a chance to start over on a new planet. A chance to be happy, even if just for the few years I've got left. Do you understand what I'm saying here?”

The man nodded and wrote on his pad again. After a few moments, he stopped and looked up. “All right, Mr. Wilson. I'm giving you final approval.” He pushed a form across the table. “Just sign here.”

Terry signed.

* * *

When the day came to leave for Layover Station, Terry was ready. His belongings, carefully chosen by size and weight, had been squeezed into his flight-issue backpack. He carried personal things only, things with sentimental value. Mundane items like clothes and toiletries and entertainment devices would be provided when he arrived. It was far cheaper to make those things in space than to ship them up from Earth.

He entered the waiting area near the hangar. The others were already there. Numbering fifteen total, they were young, in their twenties and thirties. He had known for a while that he would be something of an outsider due to his age, but stepping into that room with all those relative children really brought the issue home. Would he be able to fit in? Or would they think of him as just dead weight? Then again, the “wisdom of years” was supposed to be his unique asset, so perhaps they'd come to value him in time.

“Hey, Mr. Wilson,” said a young man. He extended a hand. “Glad to see you made it. We weren't sure they'd give you final approval.”

Terry shook his hand. “Thanks, Brent. Yeah, I wasn't sure, either. But here I am. And I'm ready to settle a new world. How about you?”

Brent grinned. “Absolutely.”

Terry made the rounds, shaking hands and greeting everyone. Good manners had never been more important. These people would soon depend on one another—and on him—for their lives as they eked out a living on virgin soil. He was determined to get every relationship off on the right foot.

“All right, people,” said a voice over the intercom. It was Jason Hurral, the manager of the Wagon Train settlement project. “Time to load up. The Surly Bonds is now boarding.”


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Hunting in Bruges (Hunter's Guild #1) by E.J. Stevens

Subgenre:  Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: November 11, 2014

ABOUT Hunting in Bruges:

The only thing worse than being a Hunter in the fae-ridden city of Harborsmouth, is hunting vamps in Bruges.

Being shipped off to Belgium sucks. The medieval city of Bruges is quaint, but the local Hunters' Guild is understaffed, the canals are choked with dead bodies, and there's no shortage of supernatural predators as likely suspects.

On second thought, maybe Bruges isn't so bad after all.

With a desire to prove herself, protect the innocent, and advance within the ranks of the Hunters' Guild, Jenna Lehane hits the cobbled streets of Bruges with blades at the ready. Someone, or something, is murdering tourists and dumping their bodies in the city's scenic canals. With the help of a mysterious stranger, Jenna begins to piece together clues that are dotted throughout the city like blood spatter.

Determined to stop the killings, Jenna delves into a bloody local history that only raises more questions--but some secrets are best left buried. Jenna must put her combat training to the test as she struggles to unearth the truth about an ancient enemy.

Hunting in Bruges is the first novel in the Hunters' Guild urban fantasy series set in the world of Ivy Granger.

Excerpt:

“Help!” A woman’s scream pierced the night and all thoughts of sleep fled as adrenaline pumped through my body. I sprinted down the street in the direction of the woman’s cry, scanning the sidewalks and alleyways and listening for any sign of trouble.

“Please, somebody help me!”

The voice was weaker now, but I nodded to myself, suddenly sure of where the attack was taking place. I put on more speed, vaulted over a metal railing, and raced down the embankment toward the canal. The woman’s scream had come from beneath the bridge—the same bridge that hid the mouth of the sewer tunnel with the bloody grate and magically warded door.

I palmed a silver combat knife and a wooden stake as I ran, a fierce snarl curling my lips. I was not going to allow another vampire kill. Not on my watch.

Heart pounding, I eyed the narrow ledge leading into the dancing shadows beneath the bridge. There was no way I could make my way across that expanse of moss slick stone without discarding my weapons.

“Damn,” I muttered.

I shoved the wooden stake into a loop in my battle skirt and bit down on the silver knife, holding it between my teeth. I’d need both hands free to make the climb to the bridge. If I was dealing with vamps, I’d rather lead with the stake, but there was a chance that this was a mugging or rape. Vampires weren’t the only monsters that preyed on the weak.

It would be foolish to bring a stake to a knife fight. Everyone knows that.

Shoulders tight, I shimmied across the ledge. I was exposed, vulnerable, but the whimpering sound ahead of me kept me going. As my foot hit the wet platform with a splash, a clawed hand grabbed my leg in an iron grip.

My attacker wasn’t human.

I slashed out with the silver knife and the hand retreated, leaving behind a searing pain in my calf where the creature’s talons had punctured flesh. Working fast, I retrieved the wooden stake and with a flick of the wrist, turned on my flashlight and tossed it into the shadows. The flashlight spun, illuminating a crumpled heap near the iron grate and three vampires; one to my left, one to my right, and one scuttling along the ceiling like a cockroach.

It was a god damned ambush.


E.J. Stevens is the author of the Spirit Guide young adult series, the bestselling Ivy Granger urban fantasy series, and the Hunters' Guild urban fantasy series. When E.J. isn't at her writing desk she enjoys dancing along seaside cliffs, singing in graveyards, and sleeping in faerie circles. E.J. currently resides in a magical forest on the coast of Maine where she finds daily inspiration for her writing.