Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Using Kickstarter’s Drip Platform to Write a New Kind of Novel: guest blog by Craig Engler

The Last Days of Earth starts when everyone on the planet learns the world will be destroyed in six months. It follows the lives of six characters who are uniquely impacted by the news and who will find their lives changed and intertwined in unexpected ways.

It was inspired by a quote from Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who said: “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” 

I originally wrote The Last Days of Earth as a TV pilot, but realized when I was done it needed to be a novel first. But not just any novel. The story felt like it would be best told in serialized installments. So I decided to write a serial.

Then when I began working on it I saw that it was going to be bigger than just a single novel. So, not just one serial novel but three short serialized novels that would be delivered with breaks between them, like TV seasons.

That felt closer to the shape of the story but still wasn’t quite right. So I decided that as people read the story, they’d also receive physical objects in the mail timed to arrived at key points in the narrative. 

Wait, what?

That idea might sound odd, but it actually has its roots in narrative theory. Specifically with an idea called paratext. 

Paratext is anything that accompanies the main text of a work but isn’t directly a part of it. Like a foreword or a blurb or the cover art of a book. While paratext is separate from the primary work, it influences how we experience the text.  

Literary theorist Gerard Genette suggests paratext can create “a better reception for the text and a more pertinent reading of it.” Paratext also asks the question, where does narrative end and the “real world” begin?

With The Last Days of Earth I wanted to push paratext to the extreme and create physical objects that would influence how people read the main narrative and help put them into the story, which is a present day thriller about the end of the world. That felt like the last piece I was missing.

But now that I finally knew how the story needed to be told, there was no mechanism to publish a novel like that. Readers wouldn’t buy the book in the traditional sense. Instead they’d subscribe to it. I needed a platform for both payment and digital distribution, which I didn’t have.

Then a chance encounter with my friend Margot Atwell, the Director of Publishing at Kickstarter, gave me just what I needed. Kickstarter was going to launch a new platform called Drip. While Kickstarter was designed for one-time funding, Drip was created as a venue for ongoing funding, such as recurring subscriptions.  

Even better, Kickstarter members can use their existing logins to seamlessly access Drip, giving Drip an installed base of more than 13 million members. Far more than something like Patreon.

So with the help of Kickstarter and Drip, The Last Days of Earth was born. It’s currently in its founding period, which means anyone who signs up now becomes a Founding Member. Founders get special rewards and will forever have a privileged status with the project. With The Last Days of Earth, Founders also become part of an advisory board for the project, able to influence how it develops.

You can sign up for The Last Days of Earth at

About Craig Engler:

Craig Engler is a TV writer who co-created the hit Syfy series Z Nation, currently in its fourth season. He’s written articles for publications like The New York Times and Wired, as well as comics, short stories, a non-fiction book and films. His new project The Last Days of Earth can be found at

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Chameleon's Death Dance (Chameleon Assassin, Book 4) by B.R. Kingsolver

Release date: December 12, 2017
Subgenre: Post-apocalyptic, dystopian

About Chameleon's Death Dance:


Even a chameleon can be a target.

Libby makes her money as a thief and an assassin, but a girl has to have a cover. To her surprise, her business installing security systems in 23rd century Toronto is taking off, as is her romance with Wil—North America’s top cop.

Then an insurance company hires her to recover a fortune in stolen art and jewelry. Bring them the stolen goods and they'll pay an outrageous fee, no questions asked.

The Vancouver art scene is hot, in more ways than one. Billionaires compete for bragging rights, and they aren't picky who they deal with.

With big money and reputations on the line, Libby is on a collision course with the super-rich. When too many questions make the art thieves uncomfortable, one of the world’s top assassins is hired to eliminate those who know too much—including Libby.



Danielle Kincaid hit the Vancouver social scene with a splash. Variously called ‘a breath of fresh air,’ ‘an arrogant bitch,’ ‘refreshingly open and intelligent,’ ‘a promiscuous slut,’ ‘a spoiled rich girl,’ and probably a few dozen other labels—depending on the particular commenter’s point of view—she was certainly prominent. In a city with entrenched, and some might say fossilized, upper-crust families dating back before The Fall, the Kincaid name gave her instant access to high society that no one could deny.
Scion of the industrial dynasty founded by Daniel Kincaid two hundred years before, Danielle was a tall, dark blonde girl in her mid-twenties, beautiful, educated, and uninhibited. That she was wildly wealthy went without saying. She was a Kincaid.
Daniel Kincaid had been a visionary. Founder of a computer software company in Scotland at the end of the twentieth century, he paid close attention to the scientists who foretold an environmental catastrophe as humanity polluted the planet and changed the climate. He expanded his business empire to Northern Ireland, and then to Canada.
His three sons and one daughter inherited their father’s smarts and ambition, further expanding the business that became a dominant player in computer controls for solar, wind, and hydro energy production and distribution. Also like their father, they evidently enjoyed procreation and had a lot of children, who also had a lot of children. The business grew and prospered, and the family grew and prospered.
Danielle was the dynasty founder’s great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter. At her birth, the family probably expected her either to join the business, or to marry well and extend their wealth, influence, and power. Or both. But the older corporate families that controlled the world’s economy considered it quite acceptable for members of their newest generation to sow a few wild oats after university. Whether it was called ‘seasoning,’ or ‘gaining a broader perspective,’ it kept the young inheritors’ wild and undisciplined behavior out of the corporate halls until they were ready to settle down and get serious about making a few more billion or trillion credits to pass on to the following generation.
That would have been Danielle’s path in life had she survived past her first birthday. Not only had Danielle died at an early age, but her parents and her younger siblings, who she never met, had taken an ill-fated airplane ride a few years later, leaving no close relatives.
Since the Kincaid clan was so large, and spread so widely around the world, it was easy to take her identity and create the person she might have become. Through manipulation of various databases, including those inside Kincaid Controls Corporation, plus the planting of fake news stories on various net sites, she came back to life.

“Danielle! I’m so glad you could make it!” Marian Clark leaned close and we air-kissed each other’s cheek. Marian was the kind of effusive, cheerful woman whose speech was always somewhat breathy and excited. She was also the hottest and most exclusive hostess at the top end of Vancouver society. Her dark hair was perfectly coifed, her blue silk dress cost enough to support a middle-class family for a year, and her jewelry was even more lavish than my own.
I’d been in town for over a month, and had finally managed an invitation to one of her soirees. Of course I came. I would have crawled over broken glass to get there. If I could impress Marian and her friends, I’d be in—on the guest list of everyone who was anyone.
She introduced me to Sheila Robertson and Laura Henriquez—women who were also members of Vancouver social royalty—and turned me over to them to take me around and introduce me.
I recorded everything with a device in my bra. That was not the time to miss a name or forget an expression. Any of those people could be useful or harmful to my reasons for being in Vancouver. Not to mention linking a name to some of the jewelry they wore would help later to identify its location. In general, the jewelry was incredible. I tried not to drool, and was glad I hadn’t scrimped on my own wardrobe and accessories. Nothing about Marian or her guests could be described as understated.
Marian also was as subtle as a sledgehammer. The purpose of the cocktail party and dinner was to raise funds for Marian’s favorite charity, and I was quickly steered toward her secretary, who was collecting the guests’ contributions. Cheryl Frind, who had helped me to get the invitation, suggested that ten thousand would be a proper donation. But I was playing a Kincaid, and I didn’t plan to take years climbing the social ladder. The fifty thousand I contributed caused the secretary’s eyes to widen slightly, and she gave my face a thorough study. I gave her a slight, acknowledging smile, and received an almost imperceptible nod in response. We were on the same page, and that was good.
Cheryl retrieved me from Sheila and Laura and handed me a flute of champagne immediately after the funds changed hands.
“I don’t know what you gave, but you impressed a couple of people,” Cheryl muttered. “I could see it in their faces.”
I smiled at the curvy, short-haired blonde who had become my closest friend in Vancouver. Barely over thirty, she had grown up in one of the city’s prominent families and married into another.
“It’s only money,” I said, taking a sip of the bubbly. “Getting in the good graces of this crowd is worth it.”
She gave me a searching look. “That sounded almost like a business comment. You’ll damage your party girl reputation if you’re not careful.”
With a laugh, I said, “Kincaids are given a shot of business with our mothers’ teats every morning. If I stumble across an opportunity, why wouldn’t I let my family know about it? They didn’t send me to university to study art.”
“You know, that’s part of what I like about you,” Cheryl said. “You don’t try to pretend you’re just a pretty face.” | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon DE | B&N

About the Chameleon Assassin series:

Book 1: Chameleon Assassin

Book 2: Chameleon Uncovered

Book 3: Chameleon's Challenge

Book 4: Chameleon's Death Dance


About B.R. Kingsolver:

BR Kingsolver, author of the Telepathic Clans and Chameleon Assassin series, grew up surrounded by writers, artists, myths, and folklore in Santa Fe, The City Different, in the Land of Enchantment.

After living all over the US and exploring the world--from Amsterdam to the Romanian Alps, and Russia to the Rocky Mountains--Kingsolver trades time between Baltimore and Albuquerque. With an education in nursing and biology and a Master's degree in business, Kingsolver has done everything from construction to newspaper editor and jewelry to computers.

Kingsolver, a passionate lifetime skier, currently spends time writing and working with computers while living nine blocks from the harbor in Baltimore as servant in residence to a very demanding cat.

Website | Mailing List

Monday, December 11, 2017

Steaks, Walls and Dossiers: The Best Trump Anthology Ever, edited by George Donnelly

Release date: December 3, 2017
Subgenre: Humor anthology

About Steaks, Walls and Dossiers: The Best Trump Anthology Ever


Time assassins. The entire nation of Scotland. Satan himself.
You thought President Donald J. Trump was outrageous? See 13 fictional Trumps combat absurd enemies in these amazing 16 short stories — the BEST ever.
Some classy but most downright ludicrous, these tremendously winning stories are going to take care of your need for entertainment, Little Reader Man. Believe me!
We’re making fiction great again for billions and trillions of incredible readers just like you. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it. Grab your copy now!
These stories are imploding, and soon will explode. To miss out would cause an absolute and total catastrophe. Buy the book now before the price goes up!
WARNING: Not suitable for low-energy types, weak men, losers, lightweights, zeros, Crazy Megyn, Crooked Hillary or Lyin’ Ted!
What are you waiting for? Do your thing, Little Reader Man!





by Pat Woods


President Trump looked at his reflection in the gold-framed, diamond-encrusted mirror. He liked what he saw.
“You’re the guy,” he told the reflection, making some of his favorite facial expressions. “You’re gonna have a great day.
“Sorry, where were we?” he said, turning back to his embattled Chief of Staff. He had forgotten this one’s name; they came and went pretty quickly.
The pale, nervous man shuffled his papers. “Bad news. The SNP—”
“Is it Baldwin? Is he back?” Trump snatched up his phone and tweeted a scathing review of the actor’s latest performance (“When will @AlecBaldwin give it up? Latest performance a joke!!! Beating a dead horse. Sad.”). He never missed an episode. He was working on his own Alec Baldwin impersonation; it was a gas.
“Ah, not SNL, the SNP. The Scottish National Party.”
“Nationalists? Like it. Go on.”
“There was a referendum—”
“You think I’m stupid?” Trump yelled, slamming his comically small fist on the desk, scattering gold sharpies. “That’s old news! I made Brexit happen, believe me! It was the Trump Effect! And it was great, bigly! People said, a lot of people, they said it was incredible. Left those clowns in the EU looking like idiots.”
“Mr. President, they’re rejoining the EU. The vote passed less than an hour ago.”
Trump considered. “Good for them,” he decided. “My mother was from there, so I’m half-Scottish. Nobody is more half-Scottish than me. Got two great golf courses there.”
“That’s the thing, Mr. President. The Act of Scottish Independence has granted all privately owned land in Scotland to the people. They’ve reclaimed your golf courses.”
Trump’s face, already an unnatural shade of orange, changed hue, passing through puce into volcanic scarlet.




About George Donnelly:

Author of dystopian, conspiracy and space opera science fiction novels that shatter the page-turning limits of freedom and the heart-thrilling cavitations of love, George Donnelly terraforms his topopolis-to-be at 22,000 KPH in near-Earth orbit, in his spare time. Former altar boy turned truancy fugitive, George is an expat vagabond who prefers zombies to aliens but is primed for any meatspace apocalypse minus grey goo. Relieve the solitude of his forlorn cryostatic exile by visiting


Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Ghost Club - Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror by William Meikle

Release date: December 10, 2017
Subgenre: Horror anthology 

About The Ghost Club - Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror:


Writers never really die; their stories live on, to be found again, to be told again, to scare again.

In Victorian London, a select group of writers, led by Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker and Henry James held an informal dining club, the price of entry to which was the telling of a story by each invited guest.

These are their stories, containing tales of revenant loved ones, lost cities, weird science, spectral appearances and mysteries in the fog of the old city, all told by some of the foremost writers of the day. In here you'll find Verne and Wells, Tolstoy and Checkov, Stevenson and Oliphant, Kipling, Twain, Haggard and Blavatsky alongside their hosts.

Come, join us for dinner and a story:
  • Robert Louis Stevenson - Wee Davie Makes a Friend
  • Rudyard Kipling - The High Bungalow
  • Leo Tolstoy - The Immortal Memory
  • Bram Stoker - The House of the Dead
  • Mark Twain - Once a Jackass
  • Herbert George Wells - Farside
  • Margaret Oliphant - To the Manor Born
  • Oscar Wilde - The Angry Ghost
  • Henry Rider Haggard - The Black Ziggurat
  • Helena P Blavatsky - Born of Ether
  • Henry James - The Scrimshaw Set
  • Anton Checkov - At the Molenzki Junction
  • Jules Verne - To the Moon and Beyond
  • Arthur Conan Doyle - The Curious Affair on the Embankment
Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.



Wee Davie Makes a Friend

Robert Louis Stevenson

Wee Davie Seton was a very sick boy. That, in itself, is not unusual in the cluster of busy mill towns of Lanarkshire where he was born and bred; a county of industry, chimneys and brickwork, where lads are put to work before they have got more sense than schooling by foremen who have little enough of either.
Davie was not, however, so sorely afflicted by birth as to be one of the working poor, having had the good fortune to be born into a wealthy family. The daily toil required to put bread on the table was something he’d never need to worry about. No, Davie’s sickness was not made in his father’s spinning mill on the banks of the upper Clyde, but rather came from having a difficult birthing and suffering too long with insufficient lungs. Difficulty in taking a breath is indeed a serious problem in those damp environs of Western Scotland, where you are as likely to meet a cold mist as a warm heart.
Indeed, wee Davie was deemed to have been so poorly at birth that it was thought he might not survive his first night—or his second for that matter, but the lad proved sturdier than he appeared. He was coddled and doctored through that first winter, at any moment in danger of slipping away, but better health came with the spring, and once Davie began to walk he seemed to have put the greater part of his earlier problems behind him. For several years he had as normal a childhood as any other mill owner’s son, being schooled in the classics by day and sent to bed early to avoid being any annoyance to his father. He had no friends—the only other lads of his age in the town worked in the mill, and Father would not have a son of his mixing with the workers. Davie had some books, a patient tutor and, not knowing any other life, was indeed happy enough with his lot.
The full extent of his ailments did not resurface until the damp winter of ‘85, just after his ninth birthday, which saw poor Davie taken to bed before Christmas with a fever that refused to be placated. It was only then that his much reduced lung capacity was truly noted for the first time.
Davie’s father threw the full weight of his, not unsubstantial, financial means into an attempt to ensure the lad’s good health, but no number of doctors, apothecaries, or prayers could make Wee Davie any better. Through the course of a long spring and early summer the lad was poked and prodded over most of his painfully thin torso, took more medicine than he did solid food, and slept a great deal more than he was awake.
Once it became apparent that Davie’s health was not showing any signs of improvement, and indeed seemed to be failing rapidly, the lad was dispatched across the country to his uncle, in search of drier climes and sea breezes. His father’s hope was that a change in Davie’s circumstances might bring about a change in his constitution.
It is here, along the windswept southeastern coast of the Firth of Forth, just to the south of the Bass Rock, where our story starts in earnest. It begins with Davie in a new bedroom, plagued by the same old ills of bad health and boredom that, far from being dispelled, had indeed traveled east alongside him.



About William Meikle:

I am a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with over twenty novels published in the genre press and over 300 short story credits in thirteen countries. I have had books published with a variety of publishers including Dark Regions Press, DarkFuse and Dark Renaissance, and my work has appeared in a number of professional anthologies and magazines with recent sales to NATURE Futures, Penumbra and Buzzy Mag among others.

I live in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company and when I'm not writing I drink beer, play guitar and dream of fortune and glory.

I don't know where the ideas come from. I'm just glad that they come. It's been over twenty five years now. I think it's enthusiasm that keeps me going. I just love adventure stories with guns, swords, monsters and folks in peril.

I'm just a big kid at heart.

And therein lies my secret. I haven't grown up.

Website | Blog | Crystal Lake Publishing


Friday, December 8, 2017

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for December 8, 2017

It's time again for the weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with various best of 2017 lists, The Shape of Water, Star Trek, Justice League, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Punisher, Runaways, the importance of reeprsentation, an uproar about changes to Patreon's fee structure as well as the usual mix of awards news, writing advice, interviews, reviews, awards news, con reports, crowdfunding campaigns, science articles and free online fiction. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Comments on The Shape of Water:

Comments on Star Trek Discovery and Star Trek in general:

Comments on Justice League:

Comments on the season 5 premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 

Comments on The Punisher:

Comments on Runaways


Writing, publishing and promotion:




Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: