Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for February 2017

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

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have urban fantasy, epic fantasy, a whole lot of space opera, military science fiction, post-apocalyptic science fiction, dystopian fiction, science fiction romance, alternate history, Cyberpunk, LitRPG, horror, dragons, aliens, werewolves, cyborgs, supersoldiers, galactic empires, FBI witches, Appalachian monsters, zombie insects, revenge of nature, The King in Yellow 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:

After the End by Cora BuhlertAfter the End - Stories of Life After the Apocalypse by Cora Buhlert

When the apocalypse has come and gone, life still goes on for the survivors struggling to adapt to the new normal.

In a drowned world, the descendants of surface dwellers remember the cities that were lost, the inhabitants of ocean floor colonies cling to outmoded customs and scavengers search the flooded ruins for anything that might be of use. In a world ravaged by droughts, two college students come face to face with how the other half lives. A lone explorer traverses the icy wasteland that used to be Europe. A group of children travels across a zombie-infested America in search of shelter and safety. After a robot uprising, a police officer is assigned to clean-up duties and finds an unexpected miracle among the ruins. And in a world blasted by electromagnetic solar storms, a nineteenth century technology suddenly becomes the sole means of long distance communication.

This collection contains eight stories of life after the apocalypse of 24500 words or approximately 85 print pages altogether.

Cyborg Legacy by Lindsay BurokerCyborg Legacy by Lindsay Buroker:

Former Cyborg Corps soldier Jasim Antar was relieved to come out of the war alive and looked forward to switching to a less violent line of work. But nobody wants to hire a brawny cyborg to do anything that doesn’t involve brutalizing people on a daily basis. Stuck working as a debt collector alongside an eccentric pilot who enjoys knitting gifts for her grandkids when she isn’t blowing people up, Jasim longs to find a more peaceful existence.

Coalescence by Zen DiPietroCoalescence by Zen DiPietro:

Fallon's back, and ready to settle things with Blackout once and for all. If she and her team can't take control, the PAC will splinter and galactic war will decimate the populace.

Can one little rebellion save an empire? Avian Unit--and their friends--are sure as hell going to try.

Sieging Manganela by Charon DunnSieging Manganela by Charon Dunn

When you’re waging war against the people who sold your ancestors those multigenerational bioengineered supersoldier enhancements, you can pretty much predict they’re not going to meet you face-to-face, especially if they happen to have an endless supply of remote controlled drones.

The city of Manganela has been sending drones after the army camped outside for the past several years, and now it looks like the war might be ending soon, and Corporal Turo Berengar might even get to meet that city girl he’s been surreptitiously texting. Assuming he can survive the drones.

Heretic by C. GockelHeretic by C. Gockel:

The day of reckoning is coming …

Commander Noa Sato has almost reached the Kannukah Cloud. Within hours her crew may be able to reach Sol System through a hidden time gate. If they make it, she and her crew won’t just save their own lives--they’ll save millions from genocide at the hands of Luddeccean fanatics.

But the Luddeccean "fanatics" may not be as mad as Noa believes.

If the Ark reaches Sol, Professor James Sinclair will be revealed as the imposter he is. Designed to be the perfect spy, James's love for Noa seems to be the only thing truly his own. But what can love be to an agent of the gates?

When the final confrontation occurs, and the truth of the gates is revealed, James and Noa will have choices to make ... Choices that may divide them forever and lead to the destruction of the human race.

The Final Reconciliation by Todd KeislingThe Final Reconciliation by Todd Keisling:

Thirty years ago, a progressive rock band called The Yellow Kings began recording what would become their first and final album. Titled “The Final Reconciliation,” the album was expected to usher in a new renaissance of heavy metal, but it was shelved following a tragic concert that left all but one dead.

The sole survivor of that horrific incident was the band’s lead guitarist, Aidan Cross, who’s kept silent about the circumstances leading up to that ill-fated performance—until now.

For the first time since the tragedy, Aidan has granted an exclusive interview to finally put rumors to rest and address a question that has haunted the music industry for decades: What happened to The Yellow Kings?

The answer will terrify you.

Inspired by The King in Yellow mythos first established by Robert W. Chambers, and reminiscent of cosmic horror by H. P. Lovecraft, Laird Barron, and John Langan, comes The Final Reconciliation—a chilling tale of regret, the occult, and heavy metal by Todd Keisling.

Continue Online Together by Stephan MorseContinue Online Together by Stephan Morse:

Since stepping through the gateway to Continue, Grant has been many things: a dying hero, a malevolent imp, a robotic space explorer, and felon seeking redemption. Now he’s added a new role to the list—married man to a virtual woman. In his mind, nothing could be more perfect, but his newlywedded bliss is in jeopardy.

Trillium pulled the trigger on a digital Armageddon and the games have changed. Virtual people are being hunted down then deleted forever. Players’ characters are removed if they die three times. The AIs have a plan to fight back and protect their citizens by storing as much data as possible into a haven, including Xin’s.

To help secure the survival of his friends and wife, Grant will seek the secrets to salvation left behind from the game’s first heroes and programming team. Along the way, Grant reunites with old companions, sets aside past grudges, and pulls out every trick he’s ever been taught to help him in the race against digital death.

Failure means Grant will lose Xin a second time, but success may cost him even more.

Age of Order by Julian North:

In a world where all people are not created equal, Daniela Machado is offered the rarest commodity: hope.

For a girl from plague-infested Bronx City, the opportunity to attend the elite Tuck School in Manhattan is too tempting to turn down. There, among the so-called highborn, Daniela discovers an unimaginable world of splendor. But her opportunity soon turns into peril as Daniela discovers that those at society’s apex will stop at nothing to keep power for themselves. She may have a chance to change the world, if it doesn’t change her first.

Age of Order is a dystopian thriller filled with intrigue and unexpected relationships. It explores the meaning of merit and inequality in a world where the downtrodden must fight for a better future.

Recon: A War to the Knife by Rick PartlowRecon: A War to the Knife by Rick Partlow:

Tyler Callas is the pampered heir of a high-level Corporate Council executive, groomed from birth to take a seat beside her as a member of the ruling class of the Commonwealth society. But the bloody war with the alien Tahni has hit close to home and Tyler wants to join the military, something his powerful mother won’t allow.

Desperate to escape her control, Tyler changes his identity to Randall Munroe, a product of the poverty-stricken Underground, and enlists in the Marines. There he flourishes, becoming a member of an elite Force Recon unit and striking deep behind enemy lines. But when his platoon is assigned to take back the colony on Demeter from the Tahni, the mission falls apart, most of his comrades are killed and Munroe is wounded, separated from his unit and left for dead on an enemy occupied world.
With no other choice, he organizes the civilian colonists into a resistance movement and begins fighting against the occupation with limited supplies and no support. As the situation becomes more and more desperate, what began as a high-tech, interstellar conflict will become a war to the knife…

Special Agent in Charge by T.S. PaulSpecial Agent in Charge by T.S. Paul:

The Magical Crimes Division of the FBI has a new boss!

Agatha Blackmore's Probationary period is over and she has been promoted to Special Agent in Charge. Now armed with a new team of Paranormal investigators she is setting out on a new adventure.

An innocent Werewolf child has been murdered. Local FBI Investigators have discovered that Slavery still exists in the modern world. The new team must combat deceit and corruption in their pursuit of Justice and Salvation for the Paranormals of the Midwestern United States.

What happens when the hunter becomes the hunted?

Fruiting Bodies by Guy RiessenFruiting Bodies by Guy Riessen:

It’s 1979 and a secret all-out war between science and nature has erupted in the forests of the eastern United States.

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, also known as the Zombie Fungus, infects the brains of ants. A daring military mission has recovered samples and it looks like the fungus just evolved into humanity’s worst nightmare.

A Sci-Fi Horror Short Story of 5500 words.

Greenwood Cove by Celia RomanGreenwood Cove by Celia Roman:

I had three loves in my life: my daddy, him what my mama killed in cold blood; my son Henry, God rest him; and tall as an oak Riley Treadwell.

I lost all of 'em, one way or t'other, 'til Riley showed up on my stoop with a monster problem and tried to wiggle his way back into my life.

Only, weren't no monster bothering him; was the one bothering his ex-girlfriend what'd stirred up a hornet's nest out on Lake Burton amongst the muckity mucks. Weren't no never mind to me, see? I was fine letting well enough alone, 'cept curiosity got the best of me, and Riley, well. He weren't above using that silver tongue of his to persuade me 'round to his way of thinking. If I'da listened to my gut, maybe I woulda avoided stepping knee deep into somebody else's trouble.

Then again, I ain't never been one to heed a warning when monsters come a-calling.

Author's Note: Greenwood Cove was written in the native dialect of the narrator, found in the rural areas of the Southern Appalachians. The grammar, spelling, and syntax are not standardized American English.

The Mercy of the Tide by Keith RossonMercy of the Tide by Keith Rosson:

Riptide, Oregon, 1983. A sleepy coastal town, where crime usually consists of underage drinking down at a Wolf Point bonfire. But then strange things start happening—a human skeleton is unearthed in a local park and mutilated animals begin appearing, seemingly sacrificed, on the town's beaches. The Mercy of the Tide follows four people drawn irrevocably together by a recent tragedy as they do their best to reclaim their lives—leading them all to a discovery that will change them and their town forever. At the heart of the story are Sam Finster, a senior in high school mourning the death of his mother, and his sister Trina, a nine-year-old deaf girl who denies her grief by dreaming of a nuclear apocalypse as Cold War tensions rise. Meanwhile, Sheriff Dave Dobbs and Deputy Nick Hayslip must try to put their own sorrows aside to figure out who, or what, is wreaking havoc on their once-idyllic town.

Keith Rosson paints outside the typical genre lines with his brilliant debut novel. It is a gorgeously written book that merges the sly wonder of magical realism and alternate history with the depth and characterization of literary fiction.

Chronicles of the Last Days by Amelia SmithChronicles of the Last Days by Amelia Smith:

Myril doesn't need prophecy to see that her world is going to end – the city is sinking before her eyes. Foreign ships fill Anamat harbor, bringing traders bent on pillaging the city’s treasures – with help from the governor – as its people flee to hostile lands.

Her guildmaster calls on her to help save the Chronicles of Anamat from the pillagers. Meanwhile, her old friend Darna needs healing, Iola wants to go to her death in the dragons’ realm, and the Defenders are airing their secrets at just the wrong time.

How will any of them survive when the waters rise again?

Duchess of Terra by Glynn StewartDuchess of Terra by Glynn Stewart

When Terra knelt to an alien Imperium
They guaranteed our safety and our future
But now their enemies are coming for us

To preserve humanity’s survival and freedom in a hostile galaxy, Annette Bond tied her world to the A!Tol Imperium, taking on the mantle of Duchess of Terra to rule humanity in the Imperium’s name.
The A!Tol have provided technology, ships, and money to uplift the new Duchy of Terra, but those gifts come with strings attached. The Imperium has their own plan for Terra—but Bond has tricks of her own.

With enough time, she can build Earth a place in the galaxy. But as Bond’s many enemies gather their forces, the clouds of war threaten not only the recovering Terra but the entire Imperium.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Sieging Manganela by Charon Dunn

Release date: February 17, 2017
Subgenre: Dystopian fiction

About Sieging Manganela


When you’re waging war against the people who sold your ancestors those multigenerational bioengineered supersoldier enhancements, you can pretty much predict they’re not going to meet you face-to-face, especially if they happen to have an endless supply of remote controlled drones.
The city of Manganela has been sending drones after the army camped outside for the past several years, and now it looks like the war might be ending soon, and Corporal Turo Berengar might even get to meet that city girl he’s been surreptitiously texting. Assuming he can survive the drones.

Excerpt:


The siege had been going on for seven years.
Manganela was not quite an aircity, but it was similar to one because it was enclosed, and self-sufficient. A cluster of shiny white towers and bubbles, eight thousand meters square, one thousand meters tall at its tallest point, extending a good distance into the ground below. Capacity for half a million people, supplying them with food and solar power, filtering the torrential winter rains and adjacent seawater for them to drink, and converting their trash and sewage into useful products, like drones.
They had no soldiers, in fact. Anyone on the enemy side who might be considered a soldier was fighting over the mineral deposits in the Canyon Belt, far to the east. In Manganela they just sent various kinds of drones out through a doorway that was guarded by chemicals and bacteria. The soldiers outside had given up trying to get inside after the first several months of siege, which had culminated in a gruesome measles epidemic, and ever since, the standing order had been to kill anyone trying to get in, or out, while leaving the city itself alone.
Turo hadn’t been here long. Only a couple of months.
“… intrusive memories?” Quicksilver was looking at him expectantly.
“No, can’t say that I have.”  Turo turned around and folded his arms.
“You’ve got a history that indicates potential for behavioral disturbance. And you did jump in front of a drone.” 
Turo’s anger rose. Quicksilver saw it and flickered his eyes toward a nearby alarm button, and Turo froze and took a deep breath, reflecting that whatever tools the medic had used to put him back together could probably disassemble him rapidly. “Don’t be a nox. If I get kicked out on a crybaby discharge, I lose my pension and my mother gets kicked out of her hospice.” 
“There’s no one else?”  Quicksilver’s face was very sincere, but Turo still didn’t entirely trust him.
“Just mom is left. She’s in one of those homes where old ladies live. Needs attendants. Blind.”
“What does she get if you die an honorable combat death?”
“Full pension,” he answered right away. Then he wondered if he should have pretended he didn’t know that.
 “You almost died in your last assignment.” 
“Rage plague. I guess you know all about it, being a doctor.”   It came on like the flu, then the symptoms went away, and the next thing you knew, you were spontaneously bursting into a fit of violent rage. Most sufferers would try to kill anybody near them, passing the infection along to anybody that got close enough to sustain a wound.  Some would get self destructive instead. If they still had enough presence of mind to figure out how to operate weapons, things could get very ugly. They’d rage and rage, without eating or sleeping, until they dropped dead. It usually took a few days.
“I know about it.”  Quicksilver grimaced.
“My whole unit caught it.”  Turo returned the grimace. “I was the only survivor. Got promoted to corporal and sent here.”
“They’re going to release the cure.” Quicksilver suddenly said after a long pause. “Some of their scientists got caught, and they wanted to avoid the war crimes tribunal so they gave up the recipe. This is recent, couple days ago. Decisive victory will happen soon, and you heard it from me first.”


Amazon 

 

About Charon Dunn:

Charon Dunn originated in Maui, lives in San Francisco, and is leaping into self-published science fiction authorhood with a series of YA adventure novels set in a far-future, asteroid-reconfigured earth. She does nerd stuff for trial lawyers in the daytime, and she loves tandoori chicken, video games and her thirty pound cat, not necessarily in that order.
Sieging Manganela is a standalone side novel that accompanies the Adventures of Sonny Knight trilogy. Volume one, One Sunny Night, is available on Amazon, and volume two, Retrograde Horizon, will be out later this year.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for February 24, 2017

Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with discussions about dystopian fiction, lots of new awards nominations, including the Nebula, Bram Stoker and David Gemmell Legend Awards, comments on Logan 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:

Comments on Logan:

Awards:

Reviews:

Science and technology:

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fruiting Bodies by Guy Riessen

Release date: February 16, 2017
Subgenre: Horror

About Fruiting Bodies:

 

It’s 1979 and a secret all-out war between science and nature has erupted in the forests of the eastern United States.

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, also known as the Zombie Fungus, infects the brains of ants. A daring military mission has recovered samples and it looks like the fungus just evolved into humanity’s worst nightmare.


Excerpt:


There wasn’t enough starlight filtering through the branches to light up shit. Johnny “Shrub” Kieterman reached up and snapped on the IR LED, switching the goggles to active-vision. Looking down, he saw filaments glowing in the infrared, filling the hole, looking like spider webs or arteries. He could see and feel the stuff undulating and writhing around his calves.
     Shrub tugged at his legs, pulling up at his right knee with both hands. His leg remained stuck. He yanked his tac-knife from the sheath on his thigh and jabbed and sawed into the glowing threads. In the green light, more glowing white goo leaked from everywhere along the sides of the hole, staining his pants, blade and hands. He cut with his right and dug and pulled at the filaments with his left. The hole seemed to be filling with the thin webbing faster than he could cut it away. As he watched, a thicker vein of material as big around as his gloved thumb slithered and jerked out of the muddy side, flopping wetly from side to side, twisting and moving like a worm freshly baited on a hook. 
     Shrub’s breath came hot and fast now as panic set in. He could see the thick, white, probing thing twisting closer to his boot. As soon as it touched the canvas and leather, it pulsed out from the side of the hole, twisting, wrapping and entwining from the heel of his boot up his calf. The pointed tip, glowing wetly in the artificial light appeared to back up, then jabbed into the back of his knee, right between the straps of his knee pad. Pain shot through Shrub’s leg, like alcohol poured on an open wound.
     The pain urging him on, Shrub sliced through the pulsing thumb-thick appendage and hauled his feet out of the grip of the thrumming webs. He fell backwards, knocking the AN/PVS-5 off his helmet. Gooseflesh raised across his skin; He scraped and rubbed with both hands where the white root had penetrated his knee. He grabbed the sample case again and tried to race for the tree line. His knees weren’t working at all, so he shuffled on his thighs and forearms, his knife still gripped in his right hand. With his left, he dragged the case.
     Painful heat was spreading out from the wound. The tree line was getting closer.
His eye caught his pale reflection in the knife blade. His face a grimace of pain and determination, and what the hell?  He looked at his reflected eye, and he could see the red veins from the corner to iris bulging, even pulsing. His sclera writhed with motion beneath the surface.
     Shrub grabbed the red smoke grenade from his tac-belt. The bad-shit-is-going-down red smoke. He pulled the paper-tabbed wire ring with his teeth and threw it as hard as he could through the trees and out into the clearing. He could see the red puffs beginning to billow and spread from the aluminum can. His arms twitching and not quite responding, he pulled the silver sample case up and back to the side. He saw the flesh of his forearm start to bubble. Lumps rose and fell, tracks of raised, web-like tracings sliding and moving just below the skin.
 

Amazon | Apple iTunes | Kobo | Google Play 

 

About Guy Riessen:


Guy Riessen is an American author of contemporary dark fiction spanning the science fiction, horror, fantasy and crime genres. Born in 1967 in South Dakota, he grew up in the Southern California beach town of Huntington Beach. He moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1985, graduated with a degree in English from UC Berkeley, and has been living in the wild lands north of San Francisco ever since. After nearly two decades of creating artwork in the visual effects industry for feature films, he returned to his first passion: writing speculative fiction.

Website

 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Mercy of the Tide by Keith Rosson

Release date: February 21, 2017
Subgenre: Alternate history, magical realism

About The Mercy of the Tide:

 

Riptide, Oregon, 1983. A sleepy coastal town, where crime usually consists of underage drinking down at a Wolf Point bonfire. But then strange things start happening―a human skeleton is unearthed in a local park and mutilated animals begin appearing, seemingly sacrificed, on the town's beaches. The Mercy of the Tide follows four people drawn irrevocably together by a recent tragedy as they do their best to reclaim their lives―leading them all to a discovery that will change them and their town forever. At the heart of the story are Sam Finster, a senior in high school mourning the death of his mother, and his sister Trina, a nine-year-old deaf girl who denies her grief by dreaming of a nuclear apocalypse as Cold War tensions rise. Meanwhile, Sheriff Dave Dobbs and Deputy Nick Hayslip must try to put their own sorrows aside to figure out who, or what, is wreaking havoc on their once-idyllic town. 

Keith Rosson paints outside the typical genre lines with his brilliant debut novel. It is a gorgeously written book that merges the sly wonder of magical realism and alternate history with the depth and characterization of literary fiction.

Excerpt:


Trina learned to fear the bomb two weeks after her mother died, and she fell into that fear like someone slipping into bed after a hard day’s work. Fell into it with a relief that bordered on gratitude. When she thought of the bomb, she felt like someone who was gravely ill witnessing a terrible and violent event: a merciless distraction, but at least one outside of her own body.
When thoughts of her mother came now, thoughts that made her ache and curl up in bed like a plant without sunlight, she read The Looming Error. She read about Mutual Assured Destruction—M.A.D.—and at night those three letters ran the plainsong of their zippered teeth along her heart as she stared at the ceiling wishing for sleep. It was a lullaby that made her heart fearful and clumsy, those three letters, that idea, but—and this was the important part—it took up too much room to worry about anything else. To feel sad for herself. To miss her mom. The world, Trina knew, was doomed, and it was terrible, but there was some part of her that felt glad that at least this part of it would be over. The world wouldn’t survive, and there was something freeing about that, like finally throwing up after you’ve felt sick for a long, long time.
Those three letters, M.A.D., and how they spelled the end of everything. The book lay under her bed and sometimes it felt like she slept above a bomb for all the power it had.
The thing she hated most about the Soviets and the United States both was their babyishness. How much they seemed like grumpy, spoiled kids playing with toys they didn’t want to give up. There was a lot about the negotiations in the book, and she could picture it all too well, the two countries discussing things in a big room somewhere, everyone with their own glass of water by their hands, old white men in suits trying to work out trades in practically the same way that she and Sam had bartered the gross parts of their school lunches when she was a baby back in first grade:
United States: We want you to reduce the number of your SS-20 missile launchers in Europe, okay? You have 243 of them and we want you to only have 75.

Russia: Hmm. Okay. If you also only have 75 launchers for your Tomahawk cruise missiles there as well.

United States: Fine by us.

Russia: Ha! Except we both know that your Tomahawks carry four warheads compared to the one warhead of the SS-20, so you would have like 300 warheads to our 75! Cheater!

Trina knew they did not actually talk like this, but still. Practically.

Amazon | B&N | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Goodreads | Meerkat Press

 

About Keith Rosson:

Keith Rosson is the author of the novels THE MERCY OF THE TIDE (2017, Meerkat) and SMOKE CITY (2018, Meerkat). His short fiction has appeared in Cream City Review, PANK, Redivider, December, and more. An advocate of both public libraries and non-ironic adulation of the cassette tape, he can be found at keithrosson.com.

Website | Twitter 

 

About Meerkat Press

 Meerkat Press is an independent publisher committed to finding and publishing exceptional, irresistible, unforgettable fiction. And despite the previous sentence, we frown on overuse of adjectives and adverbs in submissions. *smile*

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | YouTube | Pinterest

 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Continue Online Together (Part 5 of Continue Online) by Stephan Morse

Release date: January 24, 2017
Subgenre: LitRPG, Cyberpunk

About Continue Online Together:

 

Since stepping through the gateway to Continue, Grant has been many things: a dying hero, a malevolent imp, a robotic space explorer, and felon seeking redemption. Now he’s added a new role to the list—married man to a virtual woman. In his mind, nothing could be more perfect, but his newlywedded bliss is in jeopardy.

Trillium pulled the trigger on a digital Armageddon and the games have changed. Virtual people are being hunted down then deleted forever. Players’ characters are removed if they die three times. The AIs have a plan to fight back and protect their citizens by storing as much data as possible into a haven, including Xin’s.

To help secure the survival of his friends and wife, Grant will seek the secrets to salvation left behind from the game’s first heroes and programming team. Along the way, Grant reunites with old companions, sets aside past grudges, and pulls out every trick he’s ever been taught to help him in the race against digital death.

Failure means Grant will lose Xin a second time, but success may cost him even more.

Excerpt:


Commencement
X-O This

Attention!
Due to recent changes in the Trillium policy, this event is now being televised nationally. Any entity working on the event quests may be viewed by people who do not actively play Continue Online or might have been blocked from joining until the event is complete.
Be aware that you may opt out of being observed directly. This does not prevent watchers from seeing your actions through other Travelers or certain skills and spells. However, allowing access to your character may provide bonuses if enough attention is received.
“Look at this.” The single mother pointed at a digital display screen. Elizabeth had spent the last hour trying to find the display feed for her slightly younger twin brother. The idiot was in the middle of his latest insane virtual life crisis.
“Really, Mom? You’re going to keep spying on him?” Her daughter stood in the front room with half a sandwich remaining. The other portion had been eaten in five large bites with little signs of chewing.
Liz’s front room was directly adjacent a wide open archway that went into the kitchen. Liz preferred working out here since it had the least cluttered wall space in her house. Larger projections made seeing finer details easier.
Half of the wall was currently taken up with an image of her brother, Grant. He was in game and busy working on setting up a campfire and tent. Beth and Liz both got a strange third-person view of the man as he moved around. A shovel, which had been used to dig a pit, lay to one side. Objects appeared in Grant’s hand and were driven into the ground.
“It’s not spying. It’s like watching the latest season of Biggest Loser,” Liz said.
Beth’s eyebrows slid downward while she chewed. Her nose wrinkled and one hand brought up the house’s digital display. She poked at the buttons to search for the show her mom had mentioned.
“Wasn’t that show canceled, like, when you and Uncle Grant were in diapers?” Beth said. Another portion of food went in her face.
“There’s a show for it?” Liz turned and took note of her daughter’s unsightly eating habits. “I always thought it was the story of the Legates’ life.”
Liz went toward one wall and pressed a button. Out popped a small circular machine designed to clear the floors after her daughter got done making a mess. The device was a gift from Liz’s mother—with a note that said no woman should be forced to slave away on cleaning.
“Mhm. Latest date didn’t work out? I told you a man named Ulrich probably wouldn’t be any good.” Beth finished her sandwich and looked around.
The small robot started vacuuming up crumbs.
“He wasn’t. I swear, I’m going to have to buy an ARC myself. Maybe there’s a program on there to remind me what a decent man feels like.” Liz left up the screen with her brother on it. With her other hand, she flipped through a website for work. Eventually she would find more than a short assignment. Employment was getting more difficult to find, even in her field.


Amazon

 

Part 1, Continue Online Memories will be free until February 23.

 

 

About Stephan Morse: 

Stephan Morse was born the year 1983 in San Diego. The next fifteen years were spent slowly escaping California and surviving a public education system. Thus far he's made it to the Seattle (WA) region with little desire to go further. When not trying to shove words together into sentences Stephan spends time reading, catching up on sleep, and otherwise living a mundane life.

Website | Facebook | Twitter


 


Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Deep Wood (Sunshine Walkingstick, Book 2) by Celia Roman

Release date: February 17, 2017
Subgenre: Urban fantasy, folklore

About The Deep Wood

 

When my boy Henry was killed, I tracked a pooka through the deep wood for three days with no food in my gut and only my daddy's hunting knife for comfort. Was what got me into the monster killing business, that pooka, and I ain't regretted a single day of it since.

The day I stumbled on a four-legged critter with human eyes, the rightness of my revenge begun to unravel, leading me to a clan of two-natured shifters what'd been living under my nose the whole time. And when the two-natured started showing up in odd places, stalking humans in a very unnatural way, weren't nothing I could do but dig to the bottom of it.

And what I found turned my world and ever thing I knowed upside down.

Author's Note: The Deep Wood was written in the native dialect of the narrator, found in the rural areas of the Southern Appalachians. The grammar, spelling, and syntax are not standardized American English.

Excerpt:


Riley leaned back, slumping into the couch’s worn cushions. “What about you? You find anything?”
“Tall tales, legends. Nothing to explain why them painters is acting the way they is.”
I pursed my lips together, hesitant to tell him about the human eyes of the painter me and David found. Letting Riley read an encyclopedia about fairies weren’t nothing a’tall. He couldn’t get hurt sitting on my couch a-reading, but the more I told him, the deeper he’d sink into this dark, dangerous world I lived in. Did I really want him to see that side of me? Did I really wanna throw him in harm’s way without proper cause?
Riley tucked a finger in the book, holding his place, and slid his free hand up and down my thigh, up and down, soothing me. “What’s wrong, baby?”
I shook my head. “Nothing. It’s just…”
“It’s just what?” he asked gentle like, and the wealth of patience in his voice sparked something in me, something lonely and small and in need of the friendship he offered.
“That painter me and David found?”
“What about it?”
“It had human eyes.”
His hand paused and them hazel eyes of his widened. “What?”
“Human eyes,” I repeated. “Like mine or yourn. You know. Round of pupil? Not like a cat’s a’tall.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
I shrugged. “Didn’t seem important.”
He sat there a long time just looking at me, his expression dead and flat and somehow bleak. At last, he said, “What kind of animal has human eyes?”
I don’t know why, but his answer lifted a weight off my shoulders I weren’t aware bore down on ‘em. “Shifters and such. Transmogrifiers.”
“Like werewolves?”
“Them’s the most common.” Or the most talked about anyhow, but that didn’t seem pertinent, and I weren’t sure I wanted him to know more about them sorts of critters nohow.
“You ever hear of panthers in this area turning into humans?” His shoulders shifted impatient like under his t-shirt. “Or humans into panthers.”
“No, but that don’t mean they ain’t none.”
“Maybe that’s what you should be looking for, then. It might explain the panthers singling you out.”
I narrowed my eyes on him. I hadn’t told him word one about my suspicions along them lines, so how’d he know? “Who you been talking to?”
“Missy told me about the panther you saw on the trail between here and Fame’s. And then the one at the wedding?” He shrugged, this’un looser and casual. “Seems logical.”
I clucked my tongue at him. “Riley, honey, ain’t nothing logical about monsters.”
“Sure there is.” He held up the book he was a-reading and waggled it at me. “Every creature in here operates by rules of some sort, biological or societal or whatever. You just have to figure out what rules govern the panther-humans.”
“If they is human.”
“You’ll figure it out.” He flopped over on me and planted a big smooch on my mouth, and
sorta laid there for a minute, looking at me all serious. “Don’t ever hide anything from me again, Sunny. Not anything.”
I couldn’t quite agree to that, but lucky for me, he drawed his own conclusions and went back to his studies. Me, I picked up the Foxfire book like he hadn’t rattled me good, and pretended to search for answers ‘til the butterflies in my stomach settled down and I didn’t have to pretend no more.

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About Celia Roman:


Celia Roman lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina in an historic farmhouse built by her great-grandfather. Her stories are inspired by a natural interest in the paranormal and too many late night reruns of Supernatural.

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