Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for June 2015

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 May 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. We have science fiction, space opera, military science fiction, science fantasy, paranormal romance, post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, YA fantasy, epic fantasy, time travel romance, Steampunk, weird western, horror, vampires, dragons, djinns, starships, magical schools, teen superheroes, otherworldly dogs, magical bookstores, vampiric bees, villainous teabags 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:

The Lost World by Susan AlisonThe Lost World by Susan Alison

Lily’s life was dog-free and uneventful until one night when it became absolutely the reverse.

That same night Matt Lannings was reluctantly drawn into the fantastical scenario that Lily’s life had become – the only thing was that Lily believed she’d been chosen to save another world in another universe – and
Matt didn’t.

Matt didn’t believe any of it!

Katie Fforde (internationally best-selling author, and President of the Romantic Novelists’ Association) said of ‘The Lost World’ — ‘Magical! Full of warmth and humour.’

Malevolent by K.M. CarrollMalevolent by K.M. Carroll

Libby is a high school senior who should be preparing for graduation. Instead, she’s been bedridden for six months with valley fever, stuck on her father’s farm in California’s central valley.

When the beekeepers arrive in February, bringing their bees to pollinate the almond crop, one of them looks like a vampire, acts like a vampire, says his name is Malevolent, and tries to murder Libby’s lousy boyfriend. Yet he offers her honey that dramatically improves her illness, and his bees sing words that she can understand.

Mal took up beekeeping in order to preserve the last remnants of his humanity. What started as a simple trip to California quickly turns into something far more complicated, as he meets a lovely girl who is deathly ill, infected by Mal’s own brother. Feeling guilty and responsible, Mal sets out to heal her with his precious,
magic-infused honey, and with each passing day, comes closer to breaking his personal creed:

Befriend Many, Serve Some, Trust Few, Love None.

Once healed, Libby has the strength to break up with her boyfriend–touching off a war between Mal and his brother. This escalates into a realm of awful magic Libby has never dreamed of, where she is both pawn and prize in the battle against a Necromancer. In the end, Libby must face her growing feelings for Mal, and decide whether to destroy him–or rescue him from his soulless existence.

Transcend by Stacy ClaflinTranscend by Stacy Claflin

Eylin is hiding in the underground city from the group of ancients who want her dead, but she’s not safe even there. On the other side of some massive tunnels, an unknown group is systematically removing magic from each underground city.

As pressure mounts, Eylin has big decisions to make, and each could have deadly consequences. After being personally attacked, she makes a bold decision, and goes after it with the hopes of saving those she loves.
She becomes deeply invested in an ancient culture. If she gets too close, she could put all of her loved ones at risk.

This is book 8 of The Transformed series.

Hunted Hero Hunting by Timothy EllisHunted Hero Hunting by Timothy Ellis

Jonathon Hunter’s world grows darker each day. Assassins, Pirates, Bounty Hunters, Mercenaries, and Retros, all want a piece of him. Each trap leads to yet another trap. When the unthinkable happens, the prey becomes the predator. The hunted goes hunting. But how does a young spiritual warrior cope, as the kills mount?

The Hunter Legacy series:
1. Hero at large
2. Hunted Hero Hunting
3. Send in the Hero ***forthcoming***

Alex Armstrong: Awakening by Hayes FarleyAlex Armstrong: Awakening by Hayes Farley

Alex Armstrong is definitely not telekinetic.
But he will be. And all it takes is a little red pill.

Welcome to Pal Tech, the top-secret school for kids with latent telekinetic powers. Like the other freshmen, Alex was recruited sixteen years ago, when neonatal scans revealed his capacity for telekinesis. Now that he’s of age and his powers are ripe for unlocking, he can begin his training.

Alex excels. Whether he’s navigating a mock Star Wars Trench Run in lab class, crushing his friends in a game of no-hands basketball, or dodging a paintball-shooting helicopter drone during his Simtest, Alex makes telekinesis look easy.

Pal Tech’s president takes notice, moving Alex out of the simulation rooms and into field work with the upperclassmen. His first assignment: join the juniors as they oversee the school’s latest diamond shipment.
But somebody talks, and what should have been a routine delivery gets intercepted by a rogue telekin—a rogue telekin who’s already murdered two senators in his quest to kill Pal Tech’s founders.

With the other students scrambling to survive, Alex must stop the telekin before he causes any more destruction. There’s just one problem: The bad guy can fly.

The Twiceborn Queen by Marina FinlaysonThe Twiceborn Queen by Marina Finlayson

Kate O’Connor’s had a rough week. Thrown into the middle of a war of succession between the daughters of the dragon queen, her introduction to the hidden world of the shifters almost proved fatal. Now, because of Kate and her new powers, that hidden realm has been revealed to the world, which hasn’t exactly won Kate any popularity contests.

Still, it’s not all bad news. After all, it’s not every day someone you love comes back from the dead. Throw in a hot new boyfriend, and suddenly Kate’s got a lot to live for—which is bad timing, because now the queen’s set a bounty on her head and every shifter in Sydney is trying to collect it.

Kate may have defeated a dragon already, but there are plenty more where that one came from. As her enemies close in and the body count mounts, Kate begins a desperate search for allies. The deadly game of the proving continues. If Kate is to save the people she loves, failure is not an option. The rules are simple: win or die.

The Twiceborn Queen is the second book in the urban fantasy trilogy The Proving.

Revelation by Kevin HardmanRevelation by Kevin Hardman

The pressure of being a super – especially a teen super – can get to anyone, as Jim (aka Kid Sensation) has witnessed firsthand. Now he wonders if he himself might be succumbing to the strain in some way, as he can’t shake the feeling that he is now being watched by some new stalker. Moreover, despite his wide slate of powers, he hasn’t been able to discover to a single clue to substantiate the existence of this potential new enemy, making him wonder if it’s all in his head.

Looking forward to a few days of R&R and hanging out with his friends, Jim’s downtime is interrupted by the unsettling news that Alpha Prime, the world’s greatest superhero (and Jim’s father), is missing. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Jim finds his world rocked by an even more ominous revelation: his deranged half-brother, Paramount, has escaped from confinement in a maximum security installation.

In the course of investigating these events and trying to ascertain what connection, if any, there is between them, Jim becomes privy to information concerning a potent alien device capable of laying waste to the entire planet. But he’s not the only one – an enigmatic villain wants the alien technology for his own purposes, and it’s up to Jim to find a way to stop him before the world pays the ultimate price.

The Hartshire Bank by R.D. HendersonThe Hartshire Bank by R.D. Henderson

Crepier is missing and the bank he created is foundering at the start of Hartshire Bank, the fourth novella in the Nambroc Sequence, a fantasy novella. His disappearance sends members of Watley Greywall’s crew reeling. Crepier was the longest-serving lieutenant in Watley’s crew.

Sir Sander Guyle, a reputed crime lord who wants to be thought of as legitimate merchant, steps into the void created by Crepier’s disappearance to lead the bank. He seizes the opportunity of managing the bank to complete the evolution to becoming a tycoon.

Things become dangerous and precarious when Crepier’s dead body is discovered on the rocky banks of the Waterford River a few leagues outside of Hartshire. The cause of death was several stab wounds in the chest.

Several senior members of Watley’s crew suspect that Sir Sander Guyle was responsible for Crepier’s death.

Watley, on the other hand, does not seem to be too troubled by the murder of Crepier, her most loyal and longest-serving lieutenant.

It appears Watley Greywall is hiding something, but what is it?

Planet Bloom by Jessie JasenPlanet Bloom by Jessie Jasen

The year is 2350.
Earth is in the Planetary Alliance with aliens who claim to be our creators. But not everybody agrees with the new doctrine.

Starship Scorpius is sent to explore space in search of advanced extraterrestrial technologies that will give us an advantage over our alien allies.

The battle for supremacy begins here…

The race is on when Scorpius encounters an alien phenomenon that leaves a mysterious extraterrestrial technology stranded on the ship—a strange machine that can teleport the crew to parallel dimensions.
But a deadly accident forces Captain Megan Ashley to forbid further usage of the machine. First Commander Sy Race supports Ashley’s decision, but secretly starts exploiting the technology when he realizes he can create his own parallel worlds and use them to attain his personal goals.

The STARSHIP SCORPIUS SERIES is infused with aliens, AIs, ghosts, starships, high-tech, mysterious space phenomena, battle between good and evil, and the central question of what it means to be an individual within the collective—human and alien—in the galaxy of the 24th century.

The Shadowseeker by Victor KlossThe Shadowseeker by Victor Kloss

Spellswords, Wardens, Traders, Scholars, Diplomats – the five departments of the Royal Institute of Magic an apprentice must master to become a full member.

Ben Greenwood has no idea what to expect when he begins his apprenticeship, but he quickly realises his family history is going to make life difficult. On his very first day, a Shadowseeker – a mysterious and dangerous dark elf – surfaces, and Ben suspects the dark elves might be trying to capture him again in an effort to flush out his parents.

When Ben renews his own search for his parents, he soon discovers they are closing in on a piece of Queen Elizabeth’s legendary armour – the only weapon strong enough to defeat the dark elf king once and for all – but it is guarded by something even more deadly than a Shadowseeker.

A race against time ensues, with Ben desperate to warn his parents they’re walking into a death-trap, while somehow completing the first level of his apprenticeship and securing his place at the Royal Institute of Magic.

Through a Mirror Darkly by Kevin LuciaThrough a Mirror, Darkly by Kevin Lucia

There are a lot more truths in the books we read, than we’d like to admit.

What if a book delves into the lives of the very town you live in? Reveals to you some personal stories of people you know? Or thought you knew.

Bookstore owner Kevin Ellison faces this truth when a mysterious book shows up in Through a Mirror, Darkly by Kevin Lucia.

Through a Mirror, Darkly is a Supernatural Thriller collection masked as a novel. With elements of mystery, suspense, and otherworldly horror, Through a Mirror, Darkly successfully delves into the worlds of Lovecraft, Grant, and the mysterious Carcosa.

“Arcane Delights. Clifton Heights’ premier rare and used bookstore. In it, new owner Kevin Ellison has inherited far more than a family legacy, for inside are tales that will amaze, astound, thrill…and terrify.

An ancient evil thirsty for lost souls. A very different kind of taxi service with destinations not on any known map. Three coins that grant the bearer’s fondest wish, and a father whose crippling grief gives birth to something dark and hungry.

Every town harbors secrets. Kevin Ellison is about to discover those that lurk in the shadows of Clifton Heights.”

Through a Mirror, Darkly is a Supernatural Thriller collection masked as a novel. With elements of mystery, suspense, and otherworldly horror, Through a Mirror, Darkly successfully delves into the worlds of Lovecraft, Grant, and the mysterious Carcosa.

Ranger Rising by Salvador MercerRanger Rising by Salvador Mercer

A thousand years ago, on the world of Claire-Agon, a war raged between men and dragons, destroying both the creatures and the land’s many civilizations.

When his family is enslaved, Targon Terrel must battle the sinister Kesh wizards to save them, but a desperate group of refugees from his home country of Ulatha needs his help, too.

With the unexpected aid of a Druid of the Arnen, Targon discovers his destiny as a Ranger, but far from solving his problems, this discovery will soon reveal a personal betrayal. Targon’s fate brings him closer to long-buried truths about the ancient war between wizards and dragons — truths that could plunge his world into darkness forever.

Fallen by Christine PopeFallen by Christine Pope

When a group of rogue djinn attack the sanctuary of Taos, New Mexico, Jessica Monroe has no choice but to activate the device that was designed to destroy the elementals’ supernatural powers. With her lover Jace and the other friendly djinn in Taos doomed to a weakened half-life as long as the machine is active, Jessica and the other members of the community launch a desperate mission to retrieve the one man who might be able to help them — Miles Odekirk, the scientist in Los Alamos who invented the device in the first place.

The threat of retaliation by the Los Alamos survivors is only one of the perils facing Jessica, however. For Jace has his own enemies, and when an ancient rival returns to seek his own revenge, Jessica may have to make the ultimate sacrifice to save not only the man she loves, but everyone in the Taos community, human and djinn alike.

This is book 3 of The Djinn Wars.

McSorely's Evil Tea by Helen RyanMcSorely’s Evil Tea by Helen Ryan

Sky Swift lives happily in a cosy home with her mother. She enjoys the simpler things in life like drinking tea, munching biscuits, oh and sniffing everything. One day evil pays a visit. Her world has changed forever. Stalked by an evil tea bag and chased by an evil tea company that will stop at nothing to get her.

They want her for their wicked plan.
Sky is in trouble. She needs help.
But who can she turn to?

A Prospect of War by Ian SalesA Prospect of War by Ian Sales

Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it, but those who ignore history do so at their peril. The Empire was born in civil war and now, 1,300 years later, a fresh civil war is brewing. But who is the mysterious “Serpent” who threatens the Imperial Throne? And what can the renegade naval officer known only as the Admiral, and her single battlecruiser, do to combat him? Casimir Ormuz, a young man of low birth, may be the key. Whoever controls him is most likely to win—but he is determined to be his own master.

And then the historical origin of the Serpent’s conspiracy abruptly intrudes into the present… And the civil war becomes a battle for the Empire’s survival.

Set in a colourful and richly-detailed universe, An Age of Discord tells an epic story of derring-do and intrigue, while subverting space opera sensibilities and traditions.

Wake by Maia SeppWake by Maia Sepp

It’s 2020, and there’s an environmental crisis brewing in the depths of the Greenland ice sheet that’s a threat to everyone on the planet. But California girl Camilla Brightly is an expat just trying to make a buck, working for an offbeat PR firm. Their latest project? Everyone on staff has to get their “domestic helpmates” –anything from dishwashers to disco balls–networked via a new client’s “smart” home automation system. Camille doesn’t want Big Brother knowing that the only thing in her freezer is the makings for a vodka smoothie, but that’s not the worst of her problems.

A hacker intent on taking down one of her firm’s customers stumbles across a secret Camilla didn’t even know she was keeping, and her refrigerator turns out to be so smart it’s figured out how to stalk her. On top of that, there’s an environmental crisis brewing in the depths of a glacier halfway across the world that’s a threat to everyone on the planet. Global warming has reached a tipping point–and so has Camilla. She can’t stop the impending apocalypse but can she save herself?

With the help of an adorably nerdy co-worker and his polyamorous cousin, Camilla has to untangle herself from her less-than-harmonious home, foil a blackmailer, and face down an ecological disaster that might change life as she knows it forever.

“Wake”–the prequel to “An Etiquette Guide to the End Times”–is a novel of climate change, unruly appliances, and finding a place to belong.

The Magician of Dustville by Hollis ShilohThe Magician of Dustville by Hollis Shiloh

Magic, danger, and love in the Old West

A small yet powerful magician moves to Dustville. He’s prickly about his height (or lack thereof) and extremely private about his past.

Magician meets sheriff, also private about his past and quite firmly in the closet. It is, after all, the only safe place to be in the little almost-town of Dustville.

Attraction blossoming between them promises pleasure, and possibly more. Can this become what they both truly want — a real relationship?

And can they survive cruel villains, dark pasts, and a grave magical danger that will test them both to their limits … or beyond?

Enchanted by Ella SummersEnchanted by Ella Summers

Born in the land of magic, Ariella has never cared for the nightmare world of technology beyond Elitia’s borders: airships, bombs, some dubious thing the humans call fusion energy. Her last encounter with technology very nearly killed her, and she’s not eager for a rematch. But then her friend Davin, the crown prince of Elitia, is abducted by agents of the Avan Empire. To save the man she secretly loves, she has to travel beyond Elitia to the Avan capital city. Her only hope lies with rogue mercenary Everett—and trying to fight technology with magic.

Everett, mercenary and rescue mission expert extraordinaire, knows he’s in for trouble as soon as he sees his latest client. Ariella is Elition; the enormous glowing sword she carries around won’t let him forget that, just as he can’t forget the last time he crossed paths with Elition magic. Ten of his friends died, victims of telekinetic sorcery, and Everett learned to be very wary of magic. But Ariella is offering him a substantial reward for his help—if they can save Davin before the Avans’ unknown endgame plays out.

Enchanted is the first book in the Sorcery and Science fantasy adventure series.

The Wanderer by Vincent TrigiliThe Wanderer by Vincent Trigili

Episode one of The Silverleaf Chronicles follows the life of Silverleaf, a dragonmaster who was born into a world without dragons, and doomed to die as a madman alone in the wilderness until a young woman enters his life, and a mysterious army marches across the land destroying all in its path.

The Silverleaf Chronicles is the first season in The Dragonmasters and is made up of seven episodes, each around 70 pages in length.

Godspeed by Michael TrinidadGodspeed by Michael Trinidad

The America of the late 21st century is a pale shadow of its former glory. Decades of war and the growing divide between the poor and the wealthy leaves all but the super-rich in the grips of the greatest depression since the 1930’s.

This is the world that sixteen-year-old Sharon Hall lives in. With her city teetering on the razor’s edge of dying, the dream of graduating and getting the diploma she needs to get a real job and save her family grows more distant with each passing day.

However, a team of television developers has other plans for her city. In exchange for around 140 high school students selected at random, her city will receive the millions of dollars it desperately needs to jump-start its broken economy. Before Sharon knows what the developers are really filming, she’s drafted into the production, known simply as “The Battle.”

But, “The Battle” is anything but simple. While touted as an ordinary wilderness survival show, the game is, in fact, a staged war that splits Sharon’s circle of friends in two and equips everyone involved with rifles, machine guns and other deadly weapons of modern warfare.

Of course, Sharon is going to survive. She has a family that needs her. But when the cost of her survival is the lives of her friends on the other team, it may be a more expensive price than she’s willing to pay.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hunted Hero Hunting (The Hunter Legacy, Book 2) by Timothy Ellis

Release date: June 1, 2015
Subgenre: Science fiction, space opera

About Hunted Hero Hunting


Jonathon Hunter's world grows darker each day. Assassins, Pirates, Bounty Hunters, Mercenaries, and Retros, all want a piece of him. Each trap leads to yet another trap. When the unthinkable happens, the prey becomes the predator. The hunted goes hunting. But how does a young spiritual warrior cope, as the kills mount?

Book 1 in the series is Hero at Large. Book 3, Send in the Hero, will be available in July.

Excerpt:

 

I was dreaming of bikini clad babes on a beach, when the danger alert alarm went off. I jumped out of bed, changed the belt into fatigues, and raced for the bridge.
"What have we got Jane," I asked, as I dropped into my chair.
"Long range contact, barely showing on the nav map, but it looks like ships coming through the Bad Wolf jump point. They all show red. No identification yet."
"Interception course. Full speed."
"Confirmed."
I sat there waiting, as the next few hours went by.
We closed on the enemy force, until at last, Jane said, "Identification available. Lincoln class Corvette, twelve Gladiators." Lincoln class? I looked it up. An American built standard Corvette.
"Who are they?"
"The Corvette is on Mr. Norbett's list. Captained by one Julian Beare. The squadron shows as 'Reinhart Squadron'. They are listed as rogue ex-Mercs, by the Mercenary Guild, with an 'approach with caution' notation, followed by 'apprehend if possible'."
"Are we in coms range yet?"
"Just barely."
I opened a channel to the Mercs.
"Gunbus to Reinhart Squadron, state your intentions."
Another channel opened.
"Ah, Mr. Hunter I presume. Good. We were hoping to run into you. Julian Beare of the Unthinkable. We have come to reclaim some property that belonged to a friend of mine. Do us all a favour and surrender quietly. Your new Heavy Transport is no match for a real Corvette and a squadron of heavy fighters."
"Them's fighting words sir. Care to put them to the test?"
"Done." Both channels closed.
I strapped in and eased back on the speed, to what would be normal for a Corvette. No sense in telling them this ship had enhancements before they found out the hard way.
Head to head, the distance closed quickly.
At the maximum range for FF missiles, I started pumping them out from both launchers. I had thirty from each on their way ahead of me, before I had to start thinking about what I was doing.
Well Mr. Beare, how are you at playing 'Chicken'? I smiled in a predatory way.
The Gladiators were in V formation ahead of the Corvette. Someone has importance issues, I thought, letting the hired help go first.
I locked up the lead Gladiator for my IR's, selected cockpit as the secondary target, and fired off five of them. Immediately I changed target lock to the Corvette and sent off the remaining fifteen. I told Jane to reload the front launcher.
The lead fighter staggered. I went over the top of him and back to head to head with the Corvette. The Corvette was getting big in the forward screen now, and as some of the missiles started to hit, I gave it a full salvo from the front guns, and five torpedoes. At the last second, I pulled up and over it, my side and rear guns raking it as I sped past.
I pushed speed to maximum and ran for a minute, to give myself room to turn widely. My turrets were actively taking down enemy missiles. I checked my shields. I'd taken a few hits.

 

Amazon

 

About Timothy Ellis:

Timothy Ellis lives on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. He has been a farm worker, Antique Dealer, Computer Programmer, Systems Analyst, Operations Manager of a small retail chain and Retail Store Owner. He now works as a Spiritual Healer and helper, and Author.

He has long been a player of Space Genre computer games, and since 2004, has been writing game guides for the Egosoft X Universe series, culminating in the X3 Handbook, available now on Kindle. He has also designed major mods for the various games, and dozens of mini mods.

After leaving behind the corporate and business worlds, he was opened to his Spiritual gifts. Now a Feng Shui Master, Feng Shui led him to Buddhism, Karma and back to western spiritualism. Since 2006 he has been writing spiritual articles and helping people via spiritual forums and Facebook Groups. He has also written various e-books about spiritual subjects as well as the Hunter Legacy series.

Website | Mailing List | Facebook | Quora



Friday, June 26, 2015

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for June 26, 2015


And here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this time with yet more Hugo debate, including a completely new facette which has nothing to do with puppies for once.

Speculative fiction in general:

Awards:

Hugo controversy:

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Lost World (Book 1 of Hounds Abroad) by Susan Alison

Release date: June 17, 2015
Subgenre: Urban fantasy

About The Lost World

 

Lily's life was dog-free and uneventful until one night when it became absolutely the reverse.

That same night Matt Lannings was reluctantly drawn into the fantastical scenario that Lily's life had become - the only thing was that Lily believed she'd been chosen to save another world in another universe - and Matt didn't.

Matt didn't believe any of it!

Katie Fforde (internationally best-selling author, and President of the Romantic Novelists' Association) said of ‘The Lost World’ — ‘Magical! Full of warmth and humour.’ 

Excerpt:

 

The wind added to the chaos by moaning and howling. Who would be out on such a night? The very question made her pause – who would be out on such a night? And she didn’t have a spy-hole in her door. She’d been meaning to get one installed for ages.
            As though her visitor knew of her hesitation he thumped on her front door again. It was an imperious command as if to say she should stop being so sluggardly, and jump to obey. Lily hissed through her teeth. She disliked him already.
            The banging on the door redoubled both in volume and in pace. Whoever was out there was shouting at her through his fists, pounding on the door as though to smash it in, sod waiting! The storm also increased in ferocity, its efforts at tearing down the close-knit houses in her street no doubt resulting in flying roof tiles capable of decapitating unwary passers-by.
            Reaching the door, Lily hesitated. It was late, and she was on her own. Leaning against it, she shouted, "Who's there?"
            But no matter how hard she pressed her head to the door she could hear nothing but the wind and the rain and the clatter of flying objects, and then she heard a yelp as though one of those missiles had connected with her visitor. Now without thinking she threw back the bolts, turned the key and pulled. It didn’t take much effort because as soon as there was a gap the storm whirled in and slammed the door back against the wall, narrowly missing her. She leaned out into the night, but could see no one.
            As well as a spy-hole, she needed to get the light on the front of her house fixed. She couldn't see anything even with the street lamp just down the road. In the murky night air its orange glow didn't spread very far. Puzzled, she looked all around, her hair flying across her face, slapping into her eyes. She made to step back into her house when she heard someone say: Take me in. Take me in.
            The voice was very clear with an underlying current of anxiety. It made Lily feel desperate. The owner of that voice needed her, and with no idea of how she knew, she knew she needed him, too.
            She felt compelled to look down. There had been a definite yelp of pain and she dreaded seeing a body, or an injured person, lying on her doorstep. But all she saw was a black mass, blacker than the night that surrounded it. From that mass the merest glint of light showed, disappeared and showed again repeatedly as though from an eye blinking against the force of the storm. She was being stared at in a way that made her feel there was nothing else in the universe to look at but her.
            It was a dog! Or maybe a wolf. It appeared to be very large.

 

Amazon 

 

About Susan Allison:

Susan Alison paints pictures and writes stories for a living, and her cafetiere is always hot.

Dogs tend to enter into the pictures, and the prose, quite a lot, Susan living under the paw as she does.

Monty and Rosie (and Jeff-Dog now, too) are her Border Collies - they keep an eye on her artwork to make sure she keeps earning kibble, and every now and then they round it up and post it to her artwork blog.

There are more romantic comedies on the way, but in the meantime some illustrated doggerel books are going to put in an appearance - the first being 'The Corgi Games' to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee and The Olympics.

Susan Alison is the Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner for 2011. She has won competition awards for short fiction and sold numerous stories to commercial publications.

Website | Blog  | Twitter | Facebook


Monday, June 22, 2015

The Twiceborn Queen (Book 2 of The Proving) by Marina Finlayson

Release date: June 11, 2015
Subgenre:  Urban fnatasy

About The Twiceborn Queen:


Kate O’Connor’s had a rough week. Thrown into the middle of a war of succession between the daughters of the dragon queen, her introduction to the hidden world of the shifters almost proved fatal. Now, because of Kate and her new powers, that hidden realm has been revealed to the world, which hasn’t exactly won Kate any popularity contests.

Still, it’s not all bad news. After all, it’s not every day someone you love comes back from the dead. Throw in a hot new boyfriend, and suddenly Kate’s got a lot to live for—which is bad timing, because now the queen’s set a bounty on her head and every shifter in Sydney is trying to collect it.

Kate may have defeated a dragon already, but there are plenty more where that one came from. As her enemies close in and the body count mounts, Kate begins a desperate search for allies. The deadly game of the proving continues. If Kate is to save the people she loves, failure is not an option. The rules are simple: win or die.

The Twiceborn Queen is the second book in the urban fantasy trilogy The Proving.

Excerpt:

 

They say hindsight is 20:20 vision, but still I can’t help that niggling feeling, the one that whispers that I should have known. Mothers are supposed to have ESP, right? Or at least eyes in the backs of their heads. There must have been some sign that things weren’t right, some little clue to tip me off, if only I’d been paying more attention. But I was still high on happiness, my world one giant bubble of joy, and the only thing I was paying much attention to was how good my son’s hot little head felt nestled under my chin.

I was so happy I’d forgotten bubbles always burst.

The chief reason for my happiness sat on my lap, his attention riveted by the small TV that hung from the ceiling. His sweaty curls tickled my chin as we squished together into the visitor chair by the side of the bed. Like hospital rooms everywhere, this one was cramped and smelled of disinfectant and sick people.

The window showed a grey day outside, with a light summer rain falling. Other wings of the hospital stretched off to the left and right, with the multi-storey car park hulking in all its concrete glory in the distance. Not a view to lift anyone’s spirits, but mine were in no need of lifting.

I hugged Lachie a little tighter and he wriggled in protest—though he didn’t take his eyes off the TV. Typical. Screens of any sort have a magnetic attraction for ten-year-old boys. After seven months of believing him dead, I had my boy back. I’d been to his funeral, spent months in a hell no mother should ever have to go through, all courtesy of his father’s scheming—and now, here he was, alive after all. Talk about a miracle. The parting of the Red Sea had nothing on it. Not even the thought of my ex and the pain he’d caused me could dent my bright new happiness.

The other reason for my smiles lay in the hospital bed asleep, looking like a Greek god with his curly dark hair and chiselled jaw. I shifted one hand to cover his big one where it rested on the crisp white sheet. Ben had suffered nearly as much from Jason’s scheming as I had, knowing that Lachie was alive but unable to tell me. Jason had promised to kill Ben’s own nieces if he gave me even a hint that I was grieving for nothing.

Dragons. Such a class act.

“Hey, look, Mum!” Lachie’s bony little elbow nudged me. “It’s you again.”

“Uh-huh.”

The TV replayed the footage from New Year’s Eve. Like half the population of the planet, I’d seen this footage at least a dozen times in the last few days, but I watched again, fascinated by the sinuous curves of dragon necks and tails, the power of those golden wings as the two fantastic creatures swooped and soared over Sydney Harbour in their deadly battle.

Seeing yourself like that was strange—especially when you hadn’t even known dragons existed a week ago.

And now I was one.


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About Marina Finlayson:

Marina Finlayson is a reformed wedding organist who now writes fantasy. She is married and shares her Sydney home with three kids, a large collection of dragon statues and one very stupid dog with a death wish.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for June 19, 2015


And here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this time with yet more Hugo debate and way too many genre deaths.

Speculative fiction in general:

Awards:

Hugo debate: 

Writing, publishing and promotion: 

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

McSorely's Evil Tea by Helen Ryan

Release date: May 9, 2015
Subgenre: Children's fantasy, humour

About McSorely's Evil Tea:

Sky Swift lives happily in a cosy home with her mother. She enjoys the simpler things in life like drinking tea, munching biscuits, oh and sniffing everything. One day evil pays a visit.
Her world has changed forever. Stalked by an evil tea bag and chased by an evil tea company that will stop at nothing to get her.
They want her for their wicked plan.
Sky is in trouble. She needs help.
But who can she turn to?

Excerpt:


It all started with an evil tea bag used to make an evil cup of tea. As you know tea is generally not evil in fact it’s considered one of the most wholesome drinks there is. This is true; most of the time.
The evil tea bag was dropped into the rubbish bin. If you listened hard enough you could hear it moaning, ‘Mmmmmmmurggggghhhhhhhhh.’ And if you narrowed your eyes and looked closely, you would see a faint black cloud of steam rising from the bin. It was pure out and out foul nastiness.
The evil cup of tea waited patiently. It sat upon a matching china saucer with a sugary shortbread biscuit resting beside it.
‘Tea’s up Sky,’ said Sky’s mum.
Sky sat down and looked at the evil cup of tea. It didn’t look particularly evil. The tea actually looked quite nice in the white china cup.
She studied the shortbread biscuit intently. Sky bent her head down to sniff the tea.
Hmmmmm … something different, she thought. She pursed her lips.
‘Drink up before it gets cold,’ said her mum. She was busy arranging flowers in a glass vase at the kitchen sink.
Sky picked up the biscuit. ‘Sniff, sniff, I hate shortbread.’
‘Sky,’ said her mum firmly, ‘you love shortbread.’
‘Not today,’ she said. ‘It’s too sunny.’ She sniffed the biscuit again.
‘I wish you would stop sniffing stuff. For goodness sake!’ said her mother, sighing. ‘Go to the press and see what you can find.’
The evil tea slowly swirled around in the cup. If it was herbal tea it would be calm chamomile but with evil stirred in.
The evil tea bag was still seething with anger and malice in the bin. What’s the hold up? Drink the tea! Just guzzle it all down!
Sky dragged a wooden stool over. She climbed on top of the stool and opened the press full of goodies.
‘Yes chocolate chip cookies!’ she yelled. ‘Mum, can I have one instead?’
‘Yes Sky,’ she answered, ‘but just the one.’
‘Thanks,’ said Sky.
‘I’m going upstairs to make the beds,’ said her mum, putting the vase of flowers on the kitchen table. ‘Be back in a minute.’
Brrrrrr! thought the evil tea bag. I’m getting really cold here.

Read more here.

 

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About Helen Ryan:

Helen Ryan was born in Wexford in the South-East of Ireland.
She worked in the science and technology world for many years receiving her Masters of Science Degree from Dublin Institute of Technology. Helen has a life long love of the written word a passion ignited in early childhood by her mother. In recent years Helen worked as a teacher another passion of hers. She is now busy writing in a happy house, in a tiny town in Ireland with her husband and three kids.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Mission: Harbeasts of Mars (Book 4 of Mission) by V.A. Jeffrey

Release date: June 6, 2015
 Subgenre: Science fiction, Space Opera

About Mission: Harbeasts of Mars:

Crash landing!

After a rowdy victory celebration after the battle of Europa, Bob goes for a stargazing trip in the desert and wrecks his speeder. Stranded, he soon finds he isn't alone. Harbeasts, the savage, fearsome, genetically engineered predators that roam the Martian deserts are hot on his trail!

With no water or food, limited air supply, no working vehicle, and the nearest way-station days away, Bob finds himself in a dogged fight for survival. Unfortunately, he also finds that the harbeasts aren't the only predators out to get him.

Excerpt:

 

She landed several yards away from me on a small, rocky plateau. She growled, her teeth and terrible looking fangs bared. Saliva dripped from her mouth. Her eyes were now orange slits as she gathered her haunches ready to pounce. I could see the powerful muscles in her forelegs rippling through the skin armor and fur. I grabbed my rifle and looked around desperately for a hiding place. I had only a few more shots before the rifle would be rendered useless.

This time the rifle did not seem to give her pause at all. I climbed and then leaped up onto a higher plateau, turned and fired. I hit a boulder at the edge of the plateau. Part of it cracked and slid off. The harbeast had nearly cleared the boulder but its hind leg caught on it and it slipped and fell down with the boulder. Even as she fell she twisted with the lethal grace of a cat in mid-air. I watched in fascination as she fell back toward the lower plateau. Again, she leaped in for the kill and had swiped at my weapon, her cruel claws extending out from those powerful, scaly paws, and barely missing the barrel of the rifle. While I'd pressed the trigger to kill the creature, the loss of energy caused the reaction time of the weapon to slow down considerably and what would have killed her had missed. However, the last, singing blast of the rifle threw me back and had blown another large piece from the boulder. I forced myself up and climbed farther, half leaping, half climbing until I reached a small cave. Thankfully, its opening was so small that only one person at a time could get through. It was too small for her to get to me. I sat down with my guns in front of me. The atomic rifle was completely spent of energy and without an extra power supply it was only useful now as a stick or a makeshift bat as a weapon. But I still had my dragon left which I would need to use judiciously. I peered out at the orange sky and the shimmering white sun, now sinking on the horizon. I heard the bone chilling, full-throated roar of the female harbeast outside my hiding place and the answer from her mate farther away. She peered into the mouth of the cave, her eyes like two flames, piercing the safe darkness. And I wondered what to do next.

 

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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.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Graveyard of Ships (Starship Scorpius, Book 2) by Jessie Jasen

Release date: May 11, 2015
Subgenre: Space opera, military science fiction

About Graveyard of Ships:


The year is 2350.
Earth is in the Planetary Alliance with aliens who claim to be our creators. But not everybody agrees with the new doctrine.
Starship Scorpius is sent to explore space in search of advanced extraterrestrial technologies that will give us an advantage over our alien allies.
The battle for supremacy begins here…

On its mission to deep space, United Starmarine starship Scorpius arrives on the Delta Moon. Scans reveal atmospheric anomalies on the surface. First Commander Sy Race and Cadet Maya Scott fly to the surface to explore.

Scott and Race discover a graveyard of ships hidden in a volcanic cave to be the cause of the anomalies. Upon closer inspection, they discover the fragments of the Explorer shuttle, a United Starmarine vessel that disappeared twenty years ago when it collided with a black hole. Have they discovered the first known wormhole in the First Quadrant?

STARSHIP SCORPIUS SERIES is infused with aliens, AIs, ghosts, starships, high-tech, mysterious space phenomena, battles for life and death, and the central question of what it means to be an individual within the collective—human and alien—in the galaxy of the 24th century.

Excerpt:


“MY STOMACH always hurts before an away mission,” Cadet Maya Scott says and blinks at Commander Sy Race.
She takes a deep breath and runs her hand through her shoulder-length brown hair.
“The idea of being squeezed into a small shuttle,” she says, “and having limited control over what’s happening gets my stomach upset.”
I sneak up behind Maya. With one jerk of my knees, I jump in front of her. She doesn’t notice me, of course, but I notice her. I notice everyone on starship Scorpius. Who am I? Well, Milk, of course! I’m the greatest ghost in the Universe, and the smallest ghost in height. Most of the crew are taller than me. Some are tall enough for the top of my head to reach their upper thighs, but not their hips.
Cadet Maya Scott is a medium-sized human female compared to other females on the ship, which means that the top of my head reaches little more than her hips. She is from Canada, a country of North America. I like to call her Maya—just Maya, not Cadet or Scott. I like her name. I look at her whenever I can, meaning whenever I’m not looking at somebody else. Whenever I’m not exploring somebody else’s mind.
Just see how worried she appears to be as she’s putting her breakfast tray into the tray rack here in the ship’s mess hall where we’re standing. She’s all a bundle of nerves, but she won’t admit it. The training she had undergone before she came to serve on Scorpius should have cured her fears and worries concerning away missions, but for some reason, she still acts like she has never undergone astronaut training.
Our starship Scorpius of the United Starmarine arrived to the orbit of the Delta Moon one day ago. The away mission to the moon’s surface will be conducted by Cadet Maya Scott under supervision of First Commander Sy Race. During the away mission, Scorpius will remain in the orbit to observe the moon from the distance.
Commander Race shoves his breakfast tray above hers in the tray rack. The ship’s mess hall is busy this morning.
“Why do you get upset before an away mission?” he asks. “This is not the first time you’re going on one. You’ve been on a dozen away missions before. The procedure is always the same: we board the shuttle, fly down to the surface of a planet or a moon, and do our research. After we gather enough data to complete our research, we board the shuttle and return to Scorpius. And then we call it quits. What’s the big deal?”
Maya smiles embarrassingly. “You make it sound so easy, Commander.”
“But it is easy. We’ve never encountered problems before.”
“That doesn’t mean we won’t encounter them this time.”
“You see troubled waters where there are none,” Commander Sy Race says.
They leave the mess hall and head towards the landing deck where their shuttle is waiting. I follow them, eager to see how Maya is going to handle the situation. I know all about her worries and her perpetuated anguish when she’s about to board a shuttle.
“You look a bit tired,” Race tells her as they walk through the hall towards the jet lift. “Did you sleep well last night?”
“Yes, of course I did.”
“Cadet, you’re not supposed to be lying to your superior.”
Maya turns red in the face. “Nothing escapes you, does it, Commander?”
“Not when it comes to the safety of my crew.”
“Okay, I’ll tell the truth,” she sighs. “I hardly closed an eye last night.”

 

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About Jessie Jasen:

Jessie Jasen writes science fiction and fantasy books. Writing is her greatest passion—one she has been pursuing since her childhood. She loves people, nature, animals, geeky stuff, and sharing her visions of the Universe and the future with her readers. She lives and writes in Vienna, Austria. You can reach her at contact@jessiejasen.com

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