Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Seedlings by Cora Buhlert

Release Date: September 5, 2014
Subgenre: Science Fiction, Space Opera, Adventure

ABOUT Seedlings:

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

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

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

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

Excerpt

A commotion somewhere among the endless rows of green leafy things attracted Holly’s attention. A little girl, much too young for any sort of useful work, was stumbling through the plot on unsteady legs, chasing after the ubiquitous chickens. The chickens outran her easily, for the girl was barely able to walk, much less run. Nonetheless, she did not give up, apparently having decided that a chicken would be a fine catch indeed, though Holly had no idea what in the universe the kid wanted with such a screechy, feathery thing. But then, children were weird.

Holly leant back to watch the uneven chase, a smile on her face, though she did not quite know why. And then it happened. The race between child and chicken was decided once and for all, when the little girl stumbled and fell face first into the soft brown ground, flattening a bunch of delicate leafy greens in the process. The child immediately erupted into a wail of pain and frustration, while the chicken fluttered away in a blur of wings and feathers.

“Uh-oh, kid,” Holly thought, a sinking feeling in her stomach, “You’re in trouble now.”

The girl’s wail was loud enough that Ethan and Stuart stopped discussing whatever vitally important thing they were discussing and turned around to see what was going on. It didn’t take them long to spot the source of all that uproar, for the little girl was not just wailing louder than a life-support failure alarm, she was also trying to push herself back to her feet again and managed to crush even more plants as a result.

“Now you’re really in trouble,” Holly thought.

Stuart scowled and set off towards the girl, but Ethan held him back. So he was going to deal with this tiny threat to his precious plants himself. A few long-legged strides and he had reached the little girl, who was still trying and failing to get up. Ethan bent down and picked the child up. Holly averted her eyes. She did not want to see what came next.

She expected more crying, but to her infinite surprise the little girl quieted down. So Holly made herself look and saw that Ethan had crouched down beside the kid and was gently brushing dirt from her clothes. Tears were still streaming down her little dirty face, but at least she was no longer wailing. She was also standing on her own two feet again.

Blood was seeping from a gash on the little girl’s knee, so Ethan reached into a pocket of his coverall and produced a tissue to wipe the blood away. The kid made a face, as the disinfectant did its work, but she did not start wailing again.

“Yes, I know it stings,” Ethan said, “But if you blow on it, it stops hurting, just like magic.” To prove his point, he blew some air on the kid’s scraped knee. “See? It’s already better.”

It was all bullshit, of course, but then kids were naïve and believed pretty much anything. And so the little girl stopped crying, wiped her eyes with her little hands and flashed Ethan an uncertain smile.

Ethan picked the kid up and settled her onto his hip. “And now come on, sweetie. We don’t want to keep Holly waiting, do we?” He planted a kiss on the kid’s forehead.

Holly watched as the little girl nestled against him, her tears already forgotten. And as she watched Ethan with the kid, she couldn’t help but think that this was the way the universe ought to be. A universe where a child did not have to fear beatings and punishments for a simple mishap. A universe where she would not have to work as soon as she was old enough. A universe where someone dried her tears when she was crying. A universe without pain or terror.

Her eyes stung with stupid, silly tears. Angrily, Holly wiped them away. Damn those blasted plants!

Ethan — wouldn’t you know it? — caught her just as she wiped away the last of the silly tears that ran down her cheeks. Even worse, he noticed.

“Holly, I… — What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Holly said. She pulled a not very clean tissue from a pocket of her uniform and heartily blew her nose. “I’m just allergic to your bloody plants, that’s all.”

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Cora Buhlert was born and bred in North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. Cora holds an MA degree in English from the University of Bremen and is currently working towards her PhD. Cora has been writing since she was a teenager, and has published stories, articles and poetry in various international magazines. When she is not writing, she works as a translator and teacher. Visit her on the web at www.corabuhlert.com or follow her on Twitter under @CoraBuhlert. You can buy her books at AmazonBarnes & NobleApple iTunesKoboAllRomance e-booksDriveThruFiction and XinXii or borrow them at Scribd.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month: September 2014

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

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

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

And now on to the books without further ado:

Voyage by Ellisa BarrVoyage by Ellisa Barr

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

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

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

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

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

Murder of Crows by Annie BelletMurder of Crows by Annie Bellet

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

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

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

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

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

The Disillusioners by Adam BishopThe Disillusioners by Adam Bishop

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

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

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

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

Marianne Garcia is a struggling actress in New York City. With a dead career and her mother dying of cancer, she begins to lose faith in a better life.
That is, until Logan Lokte shows up.

The mysterious Logan offers her everything she has dreamed of, promising that he can not only make her a famous actress, but can stop the cancer spreading in her mother’s body. All Marianne has to do is sign a contract.

Marianne doesn’t believe in magic, and she has lost all faith in miracles. So why does she find herself strangely drawn to him? Who is Logan Lokte? And if she were to sign the contract . . . what would the consequences be?

In this tale of passion, murder, and deceit, Marianne’s decision thrusts them both into a spiral where choices are crucial, and evil comes from within.

But they also must learn that, in life, not every door is locked.


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

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

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

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

This is part four of the Shattered Empire series, following Mercy Mission, Seedlings and History Lesson

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

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

Now he has to survive multi-world gangsters.

His friends, Carda and Michelle, drag him home and present him with Michelle’s corpse–sent back in time from the near future. But Indal’s efforts to check out the timeline reveals that the corpse is a killer construct, out to murder them all.

While trying to discover who sent it, Indal stumbles into a crime ring of smugglers, blind alchemists, magic-stealing elves, and breakdancing gravity mages. They want him and his friends dead.

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

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

Mindguard by Andrei CherascuMindguard by Andrei Cherascu

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

In a future world where telepathy has left the human mind exposed and mindcrimes are a constant threat to information and privacy, powerful telepaths specialize in protecting their clients’ thoughts.

Before his mysterious early retirement, Sheldon Ayers had been the world’s most accomplished mindguard, a legend in the field of thought-protection. Now, he is merely an eccentric recluse. When influential businessman Horatio Miller requests his services, Sheldon is convinced by his former partner to come back for one more mission.

The assignment is to protect an information package located inside the mind of a young woman who claims the knowledge she holds is vital to the future of mankind. Sheldon and his team must help her cross the most dangerous territory in the man-inhabited universe – the Djago Desert.

Meanwhile, Tamisa Faber, a tough and determined army cadet with a troubled past, struggles to climb the ranks of the Enforcement Unit and become the first successful female enforcer in over two decades. When she is granted her first field command, she sees an opportunity to finally prove herself. Her orders: stop the delivery of Horatio Miller’s information package.

Threatened by the brutal Desert Dwellers and relentlessly hunted by Tamisa and the enforcers, Sheldon’s team must fight to keep the carrier alive and guard the integrity of her mind. But nobody suspects that Sheldon also has a dark secret, and it could end up changing the fate of the mission.

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

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

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

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

Lillim Callina is going to choose else.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Return to Innocence by Travis HillReturn to Innocence by Travis Hill

An unexpected visit from Davis, Elian’s closest companion, reveals a frightening tale that is impossible to believe. Except Davis is becoming mortal again, and The Ellensburg Group, the ancient enemies of night walkers, are behind the “infection” that goes far beyond any threat immortals have faced before. When Davis comes up missing, Elian travels to the Ellensburg’s compound near Missoula, Montana to exact revenge.
The Ellensburgs have laid numerous traps, but Zedira, Elian’s maker and an original Priestess of Alem, along with a small group of other immortals in the area, arrive to lend a hand, hoping to destroy their mortal enemies once and for all. Zedira’s display of true supernatural power evens the odds, but The Ellensburg Group has always played the long game…

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

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

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

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

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

Elevated by Daniel S. KaplanElevated by Daniel Solomon Kaplan

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

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

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

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

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

Arara, long-furred runt and joke of her pack, is dreading the upcoming hunt, where the young Jegera show off their strength by taking down one of the fearsome armored hukra by claw alone. Arara is terrified that her superstitious pack will tear her apart if they learn her secret, that she was born telepathic and telekinetic.
With assassins and dark plots threatening the empire, Prince Se’ls and Arara must band together to save it, or perhaps to destroy it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Thousand Nights by Christine PopeOne Thousand Nights by Christine Pope

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

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

WAR IS COMING
Ten days have passed with no sign of the rebellion.
Alone, Asher waits
as new Knights are made
and festivities are raised.
Hannah’s coronation approaches,
and the Queendom makes ready,
but everyone knows
the Scion is coming.
Book #4 in a series of fantasy novellas.

Novum: Exile by Joseph RheaNovum: Exile by Joseph Rhea

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

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

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

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

Outlaw by Edward W. RobertsonOutlaw by Edward W. Robertson

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

All that is about to change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Alukah by Jessica RydillThe Alukah by Jessica Rydill

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

Robert and Louie by Hollis ShilohRobert and Louie by Hollis Shiloh

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

Takes place after “Wes and Kit”

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

Sensual rating: very low
Length: 30,500 words

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

How would an Immortal deal with the End Times?

The world will inevitably come stumbling into apocalypse, and They will be there to witness it. Dryads, demi-gods, deities of every pantheon- is it possible for the Eternal to handle an ending with grace?
Should it come through disease, disaster, or religious fervor, discover What Follows…

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

Buddy by Jeff TanyardBuddy by Jeff Tanyard

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

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

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

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

Strangers in Flight by Joe VasicekStrangers in Flight by Joe Vasicek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1/2986 by Annelie Wendeberg1/2986 by Annelie Wendeberg

“A girl deeply wounded, more afraid of life than of death, may just be the best hope for mankind’s survival.”
Remnants of humanity are scattered high in the mountains, far from the deadly disease that wiped out ten billion lives. While everyone claws for survival, Micka cuts lines and numbers into her skin. The day she decides to press the blade deeper, a stranger steps into her life and makes an offer she finds hard to decline.

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

Author Interview - Scott Colby


The Speculative Fiction Showcase interviews Scott Colby, author of Shotgun and the A Date with Death series.

These days, most writers are glued to their laptops, tablets, and/or ereaders. A few still swear by print books and typewriters, the question is: Do you move at all?  

I move a lot, actually. I found it's really helpful to write in a variety of places, and there still isn't anything easier for making that work than a notebook and a pen, so I carry that stuff with me most places I go - although I'm certainly not above taking a laptop to the coffee shop for a few hours. I've done what I think is some of my best work while scribbling in a journal in the bar. I prefer to have some background noise. 


Apple or PC?

Both have their uses, but I gravitate to my Mac more than my PC. It's just less of a hassle. And it goes better with the Jobsian black turtlenecks I wear everywhere.



Do you use Scrivener or Word?

OpenOffice! It's free, open source word processing all the way for this dude.



Would you rather see your stories on the big screen or the little screen?

TV. I think the translation from literature to film is easier when you aren't trying to shove it into a two hour running time. Take the recent Ender's Game adaptation, for instance. As a movie it felt rushed and abbreviated, and it didn't really give the viewer much reason to care about any of the characters. As a TV miniseries with a slower burn, however, it would've been fantastic.



Are you hooked on any science fiction or fantasy TV shows? If so, which one(s)?

Does WWE Monday Night Raw count? No? Then no. Although I enjoy Game of Thrones when I remember to get caught up on it. I was addicted to True Blood until I just couldn't take it anymore about three episodes into the final season.



You're not quite happy with the current state of the fantasy genre. What changes do you think are needed?

I'd like to see fantasy writers take more and bigger risks. We're talking about a genre where pretty much anything can happen, so why does so much of it fall into set patterns and archetypes? Magical stories and settings should be wild and out there and pushing the limits - and to me, that goes for presentation and tone as much as it goes for the people and events in a narrative. Let's have more fun with it!

You write humorous fantasy, which is still fairly uncommon in a genre that usually takes itself very seriously. So what is your favorite funny fantasy novel?

I'm a big fan of Good Omens, if that counts.




Are you a Luddite? Or do you prefer to be on the bleeding edge of technology?

Computers are stupid, but they sure are useful when they work. I'm somewhere in the middle. I work a full time IT job and I've got my fair share of toys, but I'll never camp out at Best Buy the night before a new phone is released.



Are you--or have you ever been--a gamer?

Console video games are my jam, yo. I like blasting aliens, rebuilding struggling sports franchises, managing teams of plucky RPG heroes, the works. I know some people prefer their PC gaming, but for me there's nothing like leaning back on the couch with a controller in hand and not having to deal with PC crap to make a game work. Borderlands 2 is probably my favorite game of the last five years.



What kind of foods do you eat? Are you a health-food-nut or is it strictly junk?

I photosynthesize. It's great.

But when the sun's not out, I eat relatively healthy. I avoid pre-processed crap and I don't really snack in between meals, but I also won't hesitate to eat an entire pizza covered in eight kinds of bacon. I'm definitely a meat and potatoes kind of guy.



Have you ever been to Starbucks or another coffee shop?

I spend more time at Dunkin' Donuts than Fred the Baker used to. It's not good. There are three distinct stores where they see me walk in and there's a medium iced coffee with cream and sugar waiting for me when I get to the counter. I should buy some Dunkin' stock.

Coffee or Tea or Water? Espresso, Drip, Instant, or French Press? Bag or Looseleaf? Bottled, Filtered, Tap or Rainwater?

Manhattan. Rye, up with a twist. Occasionally Miller High Life served in a champagne flute.



Do you wear socks?

Not if I can help it. I'd be barefoot all the time if it were socially acceptable.



Does life fascinate you?

You have no idea. People fascinate me to no end, probably because so many people make very little sense to me. I love the little absurdities I spot whenever I'm out and about. I've been trying to integrate more of that sort of stuff into my characters and settings.




Frustrated with the generic, paint-by-numbers state of modern fantasy writing, Scott Colby is working hard to give the genre the kick in the pants it so desperately needs. Shouldn't stories about people and creatures with the power to magically change the world around them be creative, funny, and kind of weird? Scott thinks so.
Born in 1983 in Manchester, New Hampshire, Scott now resides in Somerville, Massachusetts. He can often be found reading or writing in the area's various watering holes of ill repute.
You can buy his books at Amazon.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Tree Hugger by Heidi Garrett

Subgenre: Fairy Tale, Dystopian
Release Date: August 26, 2014

ABOUT The Tree Hugger:

After decades of decline due to a poor national diet and abolishing the Right to Defense Act, Imyrika has become occupied by Kyintan nationals who take Man vs. Nature to a new level. But is there another path? A path of union...

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

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

The Tree Hugger is a dystopian retelling of Han’s Christian Andersen’s “The Dryad."

Excerpt

I loved Magnolia from the moment I saw her, I reckon. Sept I caint rightly remember when that was. It must have been when I was a tot, cause I’ve never not loved her. Somethin about her dark green eyes, pale white skin, and cocoa-brown hair draws me to her. She’s the shade of a tree on a high summer day when your face gets sunburnt just crossing the yard, a necessity. We good friends. I’m the best friend she got, although I confess that’s not saying much since I’m the only friend she got. Mags aint real friendly. I don’ blame her. A lot of folks think she’s lazy, on account of she can stay quiet and still for so long. But she aint lazy, she’s thoughtful and deep. Real thoughtful and real deep.

I’m not the best lookin guy in our settlement. I’m also not the smartest or the strongest, but I reckon, one day, I’m gonna be the tallest.

One day Mags and I was stretched out in the field watching the clouds float on by when she announced, “None of that other stuff matters, Graham, cause you got a right true heart, and a right true heart is the thing in this world that’s got the most value.”

I’d been lying still with her for half the day when she spoke up and said that. It kinda made it worth it. My Pa sez being quiet and comfortable in another person’s presence is proof of companionability.

Mags and I is definitely companionable.
Heidi Garrett is the author of the contemporary fairy tale novella collection, Once Upon a Time Today. In these stand-alone retellings of popular and obscure fairy tales, adult characters navigate the deep woods of the modern landscape to find their Happily Ever Afters. She's also the author of the Daughter of Light series, a fantasy about a young half-faerie, half-mortal searching for her place in the Whole. Heidi's latest project is a collaboration with Billie Limpin. They're cooking up a yummy paranormal romance!

Heidi was born in Texas, and in an attempt to reside in as many cities in that state as she could, made it to Houston, Lubbock, Austin, and El Paso. She now lives in Eastern Washington state with her husband, their two cats, her laptop, and her Kindle. Being from the South, she often contemplates the magic of snow.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for September 26, 2014



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

Speculative fiction in general:

Writing and marketing:

Interviews: 

Book and movies reviews: 

Crowdfunding:

Odds and ends:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Author Interview - Emily Martha Sorensen


The Speculative Fiction Showcase interviews Emily Martha Sorensen, fantasy writer and comic strip creator.


These days, most writers are glued to their laptops, tablets, and/or ereaders. A few still swear by print books and typewriters, the question is: Do you move at all?

I have a desktop computer.  I'm not a fan of laptops.  I also prefer reading print books to any kind of digital screen.  As such, I put a lot of love into my print book layouts.  (I'm a font and typesetting geek.)


Apple or PC?

PC with Linux!  Apple bugs me.


Do you use Scrivener or Word?

Neither!  I use WordPerfect, or occasionally OpenOffice.  And I use Notepad (well, a Linux equivalent of it) for my e-book formatting.


Do you have any pets? Do they influence your writing?

I used to have pets, when I was a kid.  Now I have children.  It's a toss-up whether dogs or toddlers are more destructive to everything.

Would you rather see your stories on the big screen or the little screen?
Little screen!  I'd absolutely love to see some of my stories made into TV shows.  (And I would want to be the head of the writing team.)


Are you hooked on any science fiction or fantasy shows on TV? If so, which one(s)?
There are loads I love (and own on DVD).  But among my favorites are Babylon 5, Star Trek: TNG, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: DS9, Charmed, Birds of Prey, Andromeda (the first two seasons, before they changed the writing team), Eureka, Warehouse 13.
I'm currently watching Once Upon a Time, and I LOVED Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.  (An Alice in Wonderland adaptation that actually portrays Alice's personality correctly!)

My current favorite is of course new Doctor Who, because it's awesome.  But I'll admit I liked Russell T. Davies better than Steven Moffat.  And I miss Christopher Eccleston.

Do you own copies of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings DVDs? The extended version? Do you ever watch them?
My husband's a huge Tolkein fan, so of course we do.  He watches them much more often than I do.


Have you seen the first two parts of the The Hobbit? Are you planning to see the final installment?
Yes, and the second movie ending was an annoying cop-out.  I felt like I watched three-quarters of a movie.  Still, I plan to suspend judgment until we see the final movie.  Given that we have three children under the age of four, it probably won't be in the theater.  (We watched the first two on DVD.)

You're not just a prose writer, you also create comics. So which comic strip or series is your favorite, excluding your own?
My favorite comic strip is FoxTrot.  But Freefall (http://freefall.purrsia.com) also deserves an honorable mention.  It's an awesome science fiction story, smart and thought-provoking, told in a light and humorous way. 

My current favorite full-page comic is Not a Villain (http://www.navcomic.com).  It's a post-apocalyptic science fiction story in which the main character (a hacker who was probably responsible for the apocalypse) is trying desperately to become a hero, instead of a villain, through virtual reality.

Talking about comics, we're currently experiencing something of a golden age for comic movie and TV adaptations. In you opinion, which of the many comic book movies and TV shows out there captures the spirit of the source material best?
The X-Men movies that Bryan Singer directed.  That would be X-Men, X2, X-Men: First Class, and X-Men: Days of Future Past.  (We're really looking forward to X-Men: Apocalypse.)


Are you a Luddite? Or do you prefer to be on the bleeding edge of technology?
I'm not really a Luddite.  But I am a chronically late adopter.  I still don't have a flat-screen TV, for instance.  I usually wait until the thing that's working perfectly well breaks down before I replace it.

Are you--or have you ever been--a gamer?
Sure.  I love games.  I just only ever have time to play them when I'm relaxing (which doesn't happen often).  I'm particularly fond of RPGs, although I don't love the move towards more action, less turn-based -- it's more stressful, less relaxing, and more about pushing random buttons than strategy, to me.  I also don't like the move towards increasing "difficulty" by increasing frustration or time-consuming tedium.




What kind of foods do you eat? Are you a health-food-nut or is it strictly junk?
I do try to be careful with what I eat.  For me, that means a lot of protein, a moderate amount of carbohydrates, and very low fat intake.  I've found that's what makes me most healthy.  Vegetables, ironically, are not really healthy for me.  I've found that if I eat more than a tiny amount, I'm very sick with indigestion and heartburn the next day.  I've also noticed that the more meat I eat, the healthier I am.  (Excluding pig meat, which makes me sick.)

I'm fine with wheat, but I'm allergic to most alternative "healthy" grains.  Dairy is excellent.  Basically, I eat a carnivorous diet that is almost the opposite of what most "healthy food" junkies will tell you is healthy.  And it's the most healthy diet I've ever had in my life.  The most important thing to do is to listen to your own body, not listen to what works for other people's bodies.


Do you cook? What is your best/favorite/most popular recipe?
I don't like to cook.  However, most prepackaged foods don't have all the protein I need.  (Sigh.)
One of my favorite things to eat currently is Jack Link beef jerky, cut up into small chunks, heated in the microwave until all the fat has liquified (usually about three to five minutes).  I drain it, squeeze the chunks in paper towels, and get most of the fat out.

Then I make macaroni and cheese, mix the cooked beef jerky in it, put this on top of two slices of whole wheat toast, and eat it.  Yummmm!
It also works well to do that with hamburger patties.

Have you ever heard of or had a green smoothie? If you’ve ever had one, what did you think about?
I've had one once.  I thought it was disgusting, and I felt bleh afterwards.  Then I gave it to my mom.  She thought it tasted delicious and said it made her feel great.  So, once again, everybody's different.

Do you have a garden? Have you ever grown your own food?
My garden keeps dyyyyyyyyyyying!  (Sob!)  Maybe it would help if I actually watered it more often.  Actually, my blackberry bush and strawberry plants seem to be at least surviving this year, which is encouraging.

Coffee or Tea or Water? Espresso, Drip, Instant, or French Press? Bag or Looseleaf? Bottled, Filtered, Tap or Rainwater?
Filtered water.  I don't drink coffee or tea.

Do you wear socks?
All the time.  Shoes, too.  No, literally.  I wear socks and shoes 24/7, including when I sleep.  I have excessively dry skin that cracks and peels after an hour without shoes on.  It's very painful.  Shoes and socks and Vasaline every night make this problem go away.
(Unfortunately, my daughter seems to have inherited my excessively dry skin, and has eczema all over her body . . .)

What are you wearing right now?
Clothes.  (I don't pay much attention to fashion.)

Do you do your own laundry?
Usually my husband does it for me.  He's a full-time homemaker and father.  He's also the best husband ever.

Does life fascinate you?
I consider the ideal to be constantly in a state of wonder and eagerness to learn.  It's why I love fantasy: I want to explore fascinating new possibilities, and worlds and cultures that are unusual and plausible.
I find history fascinating, for similar reasons.  I read history and sociology and science for my nonfiction, and fantasy and science fiction for my fiction.  I don't think this is a coincidence.

What would your animal totem be?
A unicorn.
Do you recycle?
I actually drive my husband crazy with how gung-ho I am about recycling.  We don't have automatic pickup, so we have to drive it to the recycling plant every month, usually when the piles get so high that he starts threatening, "If we don't go to the recycling place on Monday, I'm going to start throwing things away!"

On a scale of 1-10, how eccentric are you?
A 10.  Very eccentric.  I like to think I'm an iconoclast.  I try to make my choices based not on what society thinks, but on my own personal and religious beliefs.  I try to ignore peer pressure and choose for myself what I want and need.  This is why I don't have a cellphone, I wear skirts and not pants, I have hair down to my knees that I never plan on cutting (I want it down to my ankles), I have a comic strip with romantic interests for almost everybody EXCEPT the main character, and I write optimistic and hopeful stories instead of grim, scary dystopias that are so popular nowadays.

What’s your astrological sign?
I'm a Cancer, which I've always thought is hilariously ridiculous, because it's pretty much the opposite of my personality.  If I had been a Leo, that would make sense.
Do you consider yourself a slave to the muse?
Of course not!  The Muse is a close friend.  Sometimes she shows up, sometimes she doesn't, but she's welcome anytime and often hangs out with me.
Emily Martha Sorensen has always loved fantasy. Growing up, she would devour the works of C. S. Lewis, Michael Ende, Diana Wynne Jones, and Patricia C. Wrede. She loves humor, and she has a particular fondness for fairy tale retellings.
At the age of nineteen, in 2003, she started publishing her comic strip, A Magical Roommate. (You can read it at http://amr.comicgenesis.com.) She started her second comic, To Prevent World Peace, in 2009. (You can read it at http://worldpeace.emilymarthasorensen.com.)
She has a husband named Ben, who also writes, and a daughter plus twin sons. They all live in Provo, Utah.
Her main website is http://www.emilymarthasorensen.com. You can buy her books and comic collections at Amazon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Chronetic Memory by Kim K. O'Hara

Subgenre: Hard Science Fiction, Adventure
Release Date: August 25, 2014

ABOUT Chronetic Memory:

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

Excerpt

Back in the lab, Dani was in a considerably lighter mood. She glanced at her eyescreen to check her schedule again. No changes. Good.

A real investigative recording awaited her. She caught herself humming again as she went to the shelves to retrieve Object 097113, which turned out to be a small iron padlock. She looked it over, trying to imagine its history. “What have you seen?” she asked it conversationally. “What have you heard and smelled, that might make them want to get sounds and scents from you?”

It hadn’t escaped her notice that the time frame she was about to bracket was within her own lifetime. Even if this hadn’t been a commissioned investigation, that aspect alone would be interesting. She smiled to think of Kat’s reaction if she knew. Anything more recent than a hundred years ago would make Kat start preaching privacy invasions. She placed the padlock within the imaging chamber, activating the seldom-used audio and olfactory recorders, and sealed the door.

The requested time frame was for a little more than five minutes. She waited for the sensory integration, set the viewing elevation, beginning time, and duration, then flipped the switch to begin.

Immediately, she realized her mistake. The view surrounded her on all sides as well as overhead. This was supposed to be a narrow angle, not a full-circle image! She reached to turn off the switch and start again when she caught something around S30E that startled her. A hand reached for the lock and jiggled it, evidently testing it to see if it was locked. Viewing and hearing it as she was, from the lock’s point of view, everything around her jiggled side to side, and the fingers obliterated pretty much everything else. Normally, she’d only be able to see the fingers, with the view angle that had been requested. But because of her mistake, she could see the whole hand. Apparently, the lock had held. As the hand retreated, she got ready to change the settings, when she saw the face behind the hand, and realized it was a face she recognized. That hand belonged to someone she knew very well: Marak Wallace.

She snatched her hand back from the screen. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Time searches were tedious, boring, and completely devoid of anything personal. How many times had she told Kat that?

Guiltily, she changed the settings to reflect her assignment. As she finished the five-minute recording, barely aware of the events she was seeing, she tried to console herself. It was an honest mistake. No harm done, right? It just felt really strange. She realized that, up to this moment, she hadn’t actually believed these images were of people who had lived and breathed, not really. They had felt more like characters in works of fiction.

But now? Her whole perception had changed.
Kim K. O'Hara is a high school math and publications teacher who lives in Lacey, WA, and relishes frequent visits from two irresistible granddaughters. She loves reading, writing, and recreational math, but seldom gets in the mood for housework. You can reach her by email at kimkohara.author@gmail.com. Sign up for new book notifications at www.pagesandnumbers.com.

She is currently planning the next book in The Chronography Records series, teaching four classes of high school math, and producing a yearbook.
Kim K. O' Hara on Facebook