Saturday, December 10, 2016

Interview with Robert J. Fluegel, author of Secret of the Master

Robert J. Fluegel, whose new release Secret of the Master was featured here on December 6th, has kindly agreed to answer our ever-changing interview questions.

Do you use Scrivener or Word? Or another word-processing program? Or even pen and paper? 
I am a Word user.  I have an IT background and would be comfortable on pretty much any platform, but I use Word because I have a lot of down time at the office to write and that’s what we use there.

Do you have any pets? Do they influence your writing?  
I did have a dog but it was at a crazy time in my life when we had 5 kids under the age of 5 so adding in not only a dog, but a rambunctious little puppy to the mix seemed fun in concept.  In reality it was really hard and we weren’t able to devote the time necessary to our little puppy.  Maybe when the kids are all grown up we’ll try again.

Would you rather see your stories on the big screen or the little screen?  
I think my stories adapt well to the big screen.  In fact, many of my readers have told me they would love to see the movie version.  They’ve even begun casting parts for my characters.  

Are you hooked on any of the shows on the sci-fi channel? If so, which ones? 
Not really a sci-fi channel enthusiast.  I did watch Supernatural a bit and enjoyed it.

What films are you watching now?  
I really do like the Marvel movies.   I am getting bored of the typical action movies I used to watch though.  They are so formulaic I can pretty much predict the outcome 5 minutes in.  
What is your favorite Science Fiction (or Fantasy) film? 
My favorite film is Return of the King.  The charge of the Rohirrim down the fields of Pelennor still gives me chills every time I watch it.  Peter Jackson took many liberties through the first three films I wasn’t thrilled with but Return of the King was nearly perfect.  Funny enough and I know you didn’t ask but my least favorite movie of all time is The Hobbit.  Jackson took my favorite book and mangled it beyond comprehension.  I can forgive a lot, but I’ll never forgive that.
Do you have any views on Game of Thrones
I’ve watched it but I know it’s almost sacrilege to admit I didn’t enjoy it and quit.  Is the interview over now?  Have I been kicked from the club?  Where did everybody go?
How did you come to like the Fantasy genre? 
I got my hands on The Hobbit and nothing has ever been the same.  I suppose, like my main character Tommy, I wanted to jump into a book.  I wanted to live in Middle Earth and go on the quest to the Lonely Mountain.  After reading the rest of the series I was hooked on fantasy forever.  Most of the time I was just trying to recapture the feeling of reading Tolkien.  
Are you a Luddite? Or do you prefer to be on the bleeding edge of technology? 
Simple answer is yes.  I like technology and all its comforts.  I like writing in that environment.  I also like the thought of me at an old wooden desk in the forest with nothing but a lantern to read by.  
Are you--or have you ever been--a gamer? 
Yes I have played Borderlands, Call of Duty, Left for Dead and Counter Strike.  I tried Warcraft and luckily got out before it got addicting.  If not I may not be here today.  
Do you cook? What is your best/favorite/most popular recipe? 
I make all my meals from scratch.  I love the low carb lifestyle.  My favorite recipe is low carb pizza with a cheese and almond crust.  
Do you have a garden? Have you ever grown your own food? 
I live in the desert so gardening is limited here but I do have some tomato and pepper plants.
Would you choose tea, coffee, or something different? 
Hot chocolate all the way.  
Would you prefer an independent bookshop, or a big chain? 
Indy book shops are the way to go.  I love being able to talk to the owner right behind the counter.
Do you have your own office, study or writing space, or can you write in a cafe or the library?  
I have an office both at work and at home where I can write in peace.  Writing in crowded places could provide a different kind of muse I suppose, but so far I’ve never made the attempt.
Who do you consider are your major influences in writing?  
Tolkien, Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and my kids are my major influences. My kids first and foremost though.  We discuss what they read and what they like, we brainstorm ideas, they are my greatest advantage as a writer.
If you were marooned on a desert island and could take just seven books, what would you choose? 
The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Harry Potter Deathly Hallows part 2, The Bible and War and Peace (haven’t read it, but I might need toilet paper) 
What writer, living or dead, would you most like to meet? 
John the Revelator, He saw some crazy stuff and I would love to hear it in his own words.
if you could have any director to shoot the film of your books, who would you choose? 
Probably Chris Columbus because I really appreciated how true to Harry Potter books 1 and 2 he kept it. 
How would you define Speculative Fiction?  
I view Speculative Fiction as asking the question what if.  For example: What if you were pulled into the last book you read and you are the main character but not with their history, their talents, their abilities but your own?  The Master of Books series is one way of answering that question.

About Robert Fluegel:

Robert J. Fluegel is an American author, father of 8 wonderful girls and 1 very special little boy. This is the second in his popular World of Books series with many more expected. He will keep writing until the world ends or death takes him, whichever comes first.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for December 9, 2016

Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with discussion about Westworld, lots of Best of 2016 lists as well as the usual mix of awards news, writing advice, interviews, reviews, awards news, con reports, crowdfunding projects, science articles and free online fiction. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Best of 2016 lists (and a look forward to 2017):


Writing, publishing and promotion:




Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Mission: A Venus Affair (Mission, Book 6) by V.A. Jeffrey

Release date: November 9, 2016
Subgenre: Space opera

About Mission: A Venus Affair


 Bob and his family are going on a much-needed vacation towards the hottest destination in the solar system: Vepaja City, Venus! But as soon as they reach Venus someone from his past makes an inconvenient request: make a secret deal that promises to benefit Bob, U-net and the Boss. Who is this mysterious character? Does this person really care about helping him or is there a darker agenda? Is this side mission really in Bob's best interest? If he agrees to the deal U-net could reap an advantage in the coming war. But is this mission legitimate or is it a trap?



I glanced around nervously. The gazelle was long gone. As I turned I heard a terrifying sound that explained why the gazelle had been fleeing in the first place. A creature, about nearly as tall as me, and lizard-like, darted through the brush toward me. Through the swirling wall of butterflies I saw the brown and green blur grow more distinct. Its upper hide was brown and its underbelly green as dark jade and it had green and shimmering gold markings on its face. It was a raptor.
With my heart in my throat I jumped on my speeder bike and tried to escape only for the creature to leap up and come down right on top of me, biting at my head. One of its teeth slashed my scalp but the force of the creature’s weight was so powerful and its speed so great that it knocked me from the speeder and went tumbling over the speeder and down what had remained hidden to me until now – an unseen cliff into a narrow ravine below, housing a hidden river. The creature nearly took me with it. I glanced over the edge.
Now dangerously close to hanging over the cliff I grabbed hold of some green vines, climbing up the cliff. The bike was tangled in the vines right underneath me, with my leg caught up in the vines as well. The lizard was hanging onto the bike, its sharp and deadly toe talons scraping off the metal from the speeder into curly spirals that flew off and floated down. Whipping its long snake-like tail in agitation it roared and bared its teeth, looking very much like a hungry and very irritated velociraptor I’d seen in one of my son’s books.
Reaching for my pistol I shot it twice as it quickly reoriented itself right side up, getting ready to position itself to rip a chunk out of my leg. All the shifting and moving caused the bike to slide and fall on top of the beast and they both dislodged from the carpet of vines and plunged into the blue-black waters of the river below. I quickly fastened my pistol back to my belt, fearing I would fumble and lose it forever. I felt my own sweaty arms and hands slide down and the smaller vines snapped under my weight and then I, too, fell into the waters of the hidden river below.


Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords


About V.A. Jeffrey:

Victoria A. Jeffrey grew up in Portland, Oregon, attended Portland Community College and studied graphic design. She is an author and an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy. She also enjoys reading historical fiction and non-fiction. She has written four collections of poetry and some short stories. She is a content developer for the Middle-Earth Network, the author of the Red World myth-fantasy trilogy. She has two upcoming series for this year, the Mission space opera series and a steampunk science fiction series.

Website | Google+


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Secret of the Master (The Master of Books, Book 2) by Robert J. Fluegel

Release date: November 25, 2016
Subgenre: Portal fantasy, Young adult fantasy

About Secret of the Master


It’s been two weeks since Tommy Travers broke a deadly curse in his town, one he accidentally brought with him from the World of Books. Being trained how to control his new power is more important than ever. As Tommy enters a book under the guidance of his trainer Amelia, however, the repercussions of the curse are not yet over. A wizard escaped from the World of Books read Tommy’s mind and he knows where the Gifted are. If the evil wizard finds a way to unlock his magic, the warehouse, the Gifted—the world—will be his.
Tommy and his new friends must find a way to gain back all they’ve lost. But time is running out, and there’s something Amelia hasn’t told him. A secret—one that makes him, an amateur Gifted who’s hardly begun training, the only one who can defeat Mephitis before it’s too late. 

In this sequel to Gift of the Master, join Tommy as he finds his true place among the Gifted and braves his most dangerous book yet.



I looked at Yalta’s body, the swelling seemed to have subsided, he looked more like the curly haired young man I had gotten to know the past few days.  Yalta had insisted on being the last one to make sure nobody got left behind.  The children began to hum and sway back and forth, still bowing their heads.  Fala suddenly broke into a slow mournful song, the other children repeated the lines after her.

To the four winds we commit our brother
To the four winds we let him go
Up to the stars his spirit keeping
Down to the mother he must go
Dear Turona take him safe into thy bosom
Dear Turona take him from this place
Keep him safe until all things fail
Keep close our memories of his face
Life is but a fleeting moment
Life is but the changing from winter to spring
Dear Turona keep him safe in thy keeping
Keep him safe until death has no sting

The song ended and the children didn’t move.  They stood in silence around the body of their brother.  I didn’t know what affected me more, the sad song or the silence.  “He is in Turona’s hands now.” Fala said, turning from the group and walking back up the path.  I squeezed Kara’s hand and smiled at her before letting go and following Fala.  Many of the group stayed behind, their heads bowed, and their eyes closed.  Many tears flowed freely.
“I’m sorry,” I said when I reached Fala.  Her lip quivered, her eyes welled with tears.  She threw herself into my arms and broke down, sobbing.  I patted her back and held her tightly, feeling the same ache.  After some time Fala calmed and pulled away.  “It was my fault,” I said, “It was my idea, if I hadn’t come along Yalta would still be alive.”
“Nonsense!”Fala’s eyes were swollen and red from her tears, “You have helped us escape the clutches of this evil place.  We all knew the risks when we attempted escape, Yalta more than most.  Why do you think he always insisted on being in the back?”
“I know, but . . .”
“There is no but, if it weren’t for your leadership we would have spent the rest of our days walking in circles.  In a way, we were all already dead and you have saved us.” Fala’s red eyes were adamant. 
“I just feel so bad about this,” I countered, “I should have been able to get all of you out.”
“Pride,” Fala accused.
“Do you think that you are a God?  That you cannot fail?  You led us boldly, you tried your best and your best saved all but one of us.  Do not diminish Yalta’s sacrifice by belittling it with could-have-beens.  I would have given my life to see my brothers and sisters to freedom, Yalta did so purposefully.  Let us honor his sacrifice not with regret, but with gratitude.  He has bought our freedom with his life.  What more honor can a person have?”



About Robert J. Fluegel:

Robert J. Fluegel is an American author, father of 8 wonderful girls and 1 very special little boy. This is the second in his popular World of Books series with many more expected. He will keep writing until the world ends or death takes him, whichever comes first.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instafreebie

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Crimson Queen by Alec Hutson

Release date: December 5th 2016
Sub-genre: Epic fantasy

About The Crimson Queen: 

Long ago the world fell into twilight, when the great empires of old consumed each other in sorcerous cataclysms. In the south the Star Towers fell, swallowed by the sea, while the black glaciers descended upon the northern holdfasts, entombing the cities of Min-Ceruth in ice and sorcery. Then from the ancient empire of Menekar the paladins of Ama came, putting every surviving sorcerer to the sword and cleansing their taint from the land for the radiant glory of their lord.
The pulse of magic slowed, fading like the heartbeat of a dying man.
But after a thousand years it has begun to quicken again.
In a small fishing village a boy with strange powers comes of age… 
 A young queen rises in the west, fanning the long-smoldering embers of magic into a blaze once more…
Something of great importance is stolen – or freed – from the mysterious Empire of Swords and Flowers…
And the immortals who survived the ancient cataclysms bestir themselves, casting about for why the world is suddenly changing…


Alyanna extended a filament of sorcery into the riftstone, sliding inside it like a key into a lock. She gave a twist, and the stone’s power blossomed.
Before her a circle of air began to shimmer and undulate, as if it was a length of silk caught in a strong wind. The quartz pillars and awakening garden encompassed by this floating portal slowly faded, and was replaced by another scene from a very different place. 

It was darker there, hundreds of leagues to the west, a few stars still visible in a charcoal sky. Shadows draped huge, tumbled rocks and pine trees, and the silhouettes of mountains in the distance bulked stark and black against the gray dawn. A chill wind slipped through the rift, and Alyanna shivered, pulling her cotton robe – the heaviest clothing she kept in the gardens – tighter around herself.

Sighing, she stepped through the portal and into the forest that bounded the southern Frostlands.

The grass was coarser, the dew colder. There was the faint sound of swift-running water from somewhere nearby, no doubt one of the countless small rivers that veined the north and carried snowmelt down from high in the Bones. She summoned a small orb of wizardlight so that she wouldn’t trip over anything on the uneven ground, and cast about for the other half of the riftstone. It did not take her long to find.  

The genthyaki was propped against a rock near the edge of a stream. It was motionless, its head slumped forward, an impossible tangle of scales and thorns and sharp angles. Alyanna brought her wizardlight closer, and clucked her tongue when she saw the state her servant was in.

What scales were left on its hide glistened wetly, but most had been sloughed off by some terrible heat, leaving charred black patches across its body. Under one of these wounds, which spread over much of its left shoulder, Alyanna could clearly see bone beneath the blistered flesh.

To her surprise, the creature stirred as she approached.

“Mistressssss,” it hissed, with great effort lifting its ruin of a face.

“Slave,” she replied, shaking her head as if in great disappointment. “You have failed me.”

A harsh, wet coughing wracked the creature, until it finally spat up a wad of black phlegm that landed in the grass near her feet. Wrinkling her nose in disgust, Alyanna stepped farther away.

“Mistress, it burns . . .”

“I should think so. It smells like someone’s bathed you in dreadfire.”

“Burnssssss . . .”

A frozen wind gusted, and she knew that they were no longer alone. Three ragged shapes now crouched among the rocks, watching.

mistress, the false man dies.

“I can see that,” she said. “But I need to know who did this.”

About Alec Hutson:


Alec Hutson was the Spirit Award winner for Carleton College at the 2002 Ultimate Frisbee College National Championships. He has watched the sun set over the dead city of Bagan and rise over the living ruins of Angkor Wat. He grew up in a geodesic dome and a bookstore, and currently lives in Shanghai, China. The Crimson Queen is his first book. He has previously been published in Ideomancer Magazine and the anthologies The Newcomer and You Are Here: Tale of Cartographic Wonder. He has a short story appearing in the next issue of Timeless Tales Magazine.