Monday, February 29, 2016

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for February 2016

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. We have space opera, military science fiction, science fiction romance, paranormal romance, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, historical fantasy, horror, steampunk, alternate history, post-apocalyptic fiction, lots of young adult SFF, witches, demons, zombies intergalactic conspiracies, alien invaders, were-foxes, magical swords, beleaguered queens, alternate history PIs, Valentine’s Day in space, Victorians in space, increasingly transparent girls, bioengineered jellyfish terrorists 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:

Emerald Emergent by James AaronEmerald Emergent by James Aaron

Emmie’s mother never lets her forget that an obsession with ancient magic killed her father and left Emmie horribly scarred.

When her best friend Bryte offers Emmie a chance to explore an ancient city, Emmie is torn between her father’s sense of adventure and her mother’s common sense. She also can’t deny her fascination with bookish Bryte.

Following her heart, Emmie will face her fears and discover secrets bound to change her life forever. . . once she chooses to stand up and fight.

Book 1 in the Adventures of Emerald of Elegaia, a thrilling new science fantasy series offering a world of action and romance to explore and love.

Welcome to Elegaia, where the past can kill you.

Valentine's Day on Iago Prime by Cora BuhlertValentine’s Day on Iago Prime by Cora Buhlert

Kai and Maisie are about the celebrate their first Valentine’s Day on the planet Iago Prime. However, the holiday traditions they established back on Earth such as celebrating Valentine’s Day with a picnic on the beach are impossible to maintain in the hostile environment of their new home. But in spite of the many limitations imposed by living on Iago Prime, Kai pulls out all the stops to give Maisie an unforgettable Valentine’s Day.

This is a science fictional Valentine’s Day story of 2200 words or approx. 10 print pages.

Station 332 by Darcy CoatesStation 332 by Darcy Coates

For Charles, responding to Station 332’s emergency help request starts out no different than any other mission. She’s been paired with a near-retirement medic, Robin, and a lax mechanic, Jay. Their job is simple: check the station, kill any threats, provide assistance if needed, then return to Central.

But this is unlike any assistance request Charles has been on before.

Someone or something has destroyed the station, smashing the control panel and upending equipment. They find two bodies–murdered–in the bedroom, and the third staff member is missing.

Robin labels it a murder-suicide, but Charles has doubts.

Something is killing Central’s best fighters, leaving humanity defenceless. It’s spreading quickly. And the danger lives closer to home than anyone ever expected…

Station 332 is a short story in the five-part Cymic Parasite Breach series. Each story can be read independently.

The Memory Thief by Sarina DorieThe Memory Thief by Sarina Dorie

What would the Victorian era look like if they had “rediscovered” space flight? Would the British really be interested in colonizing the continent of America if they could colonize an entire planet?

Imagine a Neo-Victorian alternate history romance set on a shogun-like planet. Felicity is a young lady betrothed to a British noble of rank and fortune who will someday inherit a space station. Her life should be happy and perfect. Alas, she fears she will never achieve happiness—or wholeness—until her memories have been returned by the man who stole them.

In pursuit of her past, Felicity returns to an alien planet where she once encountered descendants of Japanese colonists from Earth who had settled millennia before. After a seven year absence, she finds the world much changed. The climate and geography have been altered, the planet has been colonized by her own Victorian culture, destroyed by unethical surveyors, and she is told the man she believes may have stolen her memories—a man she once loved and trusted—is dead. Her only hope for finding answers about her mysterious past is performing the Jomon courtship ritual of memory exchange. The idea of trusting another man enough to perform the ritual after what she has been through is too much and she doesn’t know if she can go through with it. Worse yet, she finds herself falling in love with the alien planet’s leader, even though she is already engaged. Only when she learns to let go of her fears can she learn the secrets that may aid in the freedom of the Jomon people—and herself.

One Sunny Night by Charon DunnOne Sunny Night by Charon Dunn

On March 20, 3748, terrorist clones in submarines made of bioengineered jellyfish attacked the stadium where fifteen-year-old Sonny Knight was watching the clashball championship game, kidnapping his family and his two best friends.

But the day wasn’t a total loss. Sonny got to meet one of his favorite sports heroes, he got a new dog, and he ran into an extremely tattooed man who has a really fast ship. Which might have been fast enough to get Sonny safely home in a couple of days if they hadn’t run into the tsunamis, and the pliosaurs, and the cattle stampede, and more clones, and all those other complications.

Complications fly fast and furious in this fast-paced adventure story set in a far future in which the climate has changed significantly, making travel difficult.

The Strength to Serve by Claire FrankThe Strength to Serve by Claire Frank

Home after their long absence, Daro and Cecily want nothing more than to pick up the pieces of their life and return to normalcy. But outside events intrude and the memories of what they lived through aren’t so easy to leave behind.

Pathius languishes, an unchained prisoner in a foreign land, doubtful of his place in the world. In Imara, he is offered a chance for a new life, if he can release the ghosts of his past and accept the man he has become.
As an invading army threatens their homeland, Daro, Cecily, and Pathius are drawn back into the political turmoil of Halthas. An assassin wreaks havoc in the city, a dangerous artifact is stolen, a force bent on conquest marches toward their border, and they all must take up arms to defeat an enemy their kingdom is not prepared to face.

Lay Me Down by Tamara Hart HeinerLay Me Down by Tamara Hart Heiner

Life is more than just breathing.

Kylee Mansfield knows what it is to be alone. Her dad left when she was seven, and her mother remarried an abusive alcoholic. Kylee finds ways to escape reality, usually by substituting one pain for another.
Things take a deadly turn when a jagged cut shows up on her arm, and she doesn’t know where it came from. She enlists her neighbor, Price Hudson, to help her uncover the truth. But Price shows her much more than just her past—he shows her what it is to be alive.

A heartbreakingly beautiful teen/young adult paranormal romance that will chill you to the core.

Starfall by John HegenbergerStarfall by John Hegenberger

After rescuing Annette Funicello’s stand-in from the amorous clutches of Guy Williams, Stan Wade, young, LA-based PI, gets a new, but secret, assignment from his number-one client, Walt Disney. The elder cartoonist and filmmaker wants Stan to investigate a death at Edwards Air Force Base. The victim, who drowned while testing an outer-space uniform, was the eighth astronaut candidate for America’s new space agency, NASA. Working out of his cramped office in the back of the Brown Derby restaurant where he’s employed as a part-time “bouncer,” Stan uncovers much more than a suspicious death…putting his own life—and the lives of those closest to him—in danger.

An Alternate History Mystery

Dream Stalker by Amy HopkinsDream Stalker by Amy Hopkins

All Emma wanted was to sell her enchanted teas in peace; instead, she’s caught up in the chase for a killer who’s stalking the streets of London. He’s targeting half-bloods, people with limited magical ability. People just like Emma.

The police are baffled by the long string of deaths, but they’re not willing to put in the legwork to make an arrest. After all, magic users can take care of themselves, right? Except, those with real power don’t give a damn about half-bloods. So, when Emma wakes from a strange dream that nearly gets her killed in the waking world, she knows she has to deal with it herself.

With only her boggart shop-assistant and the two strange men who have offered to help, can she thwart the killer and make the city safe again?

Stop the Sirens by E.E. IsherwoodStop the Sirens by E.E. Isherwood

When the sirens end, "post-apocalypse" begins.

Exhausted after two weeks of rolling chaos since the sirens, Liam and his family prepare for their biggest challenge yet.

Fifteen-year-old Liam Peters starts his day in a muddy creek. The Air Force tried to wipe his subdivision off the map, but luck and fast feet helped him find refuge from the big bombs. When he looks up, he sees his whole life has been swept away by fire. And Grandma? He'd been successful getting her out of the city, and across suburbia, but she was snatched from him minutes prior to the attack. She'd gotten a one-way ticket to a brutal government facility set up to research the cure.

As a studious reader of zombie literature, Liam knows the dangers of being without shelter or direction during the zombie plague. He'd already been attacked by angry looters, malicious refugees, and hordes of zombies. His house had been riddled by a chain gun--twice--before the final bombs fell. He tried to look ahead, but saw little hope. He was bolstered by Victoria, but without Grandma by his side he felt defeated.

And yet, hope was out there. People were coming together to survive and help each other. One such group was at the Beaumont Boy Scout Reservation. It was an enclave of peace within the swirl of zombies and death engulfing all of metropolitan St. Louis. There Liam and his family might find a base from which to search for Grandma Marty.

As book 3 concludes, Liam will learn the origin of the plague, the fate of Grandma, and whether a couple of teenagers have anything to look forward to in a world filled with zombies

The Necromancer's Daughter by Patty JansenThe Necromancer’s Daughter by Patty Jansen

One brave woman’s struggle against magical forces.

Queen Johanna’s position in Saardam is fragile. The Barons and Kings of the countries in the hinterland are not happy that she helped the royal family to survive and is now about to ensure the next generation. They vow to teach this little upstart country a lesson for once and for all.

Of course it is not so much about petty rivalry, but about access to the sea port that connects the hinterland with the lucrative ocean trade.

Johanna knows that if it came to a fight Saardam could never survive, so she has invited all the heads of state and other important people for talks to invest in the city’s shattered infrastructure for the benefit of all.
As a congregation of royal families gathers such as the lowlands have never seen, the magicians travelling with the esteemed guests prepare the final and most insidious attempt to get control of the upstart little country and its usurper, commoner queen: through her baby daughter.

Mission: Blackguard Conspiracy by V.A, JeffreyMission: Blackguard Conspiracy by V.A. Jeffrey

The Dark Energy Project, started by a group of far-thinking engineers, scientists and programmers many years ago has come roaring back like a storm!

Meant to catapult human exploration and civilization out to the farthest reaches of space, it centered around the groundbreaking information on how to build working stargates. Except, the information was stolen and its founders and all other humans attached to the project killed by alien loyalists. Thereafter, it was renamed The Blackguard Project, the linchpin of the entire drama between humans, alien rebels and the alien loyalists. It’s a shortcut for the aliens in the approaching Black Fleet who abandoned their dying planet and are heading to the solar system to invade Earth and wipe out humanity.

Bob receives a copy of the Blackguard files by The Boss with a new mission: stop the inaugural activation of the new stargate at the annual Sci-Tech Convention. To most people, this is a momentous year in the history of science and space exploration. However, Bob and his U-net band know that this gate is a Trojan Horse! It must be stopped and the aliens behind this sinister plan exposed, no matter the cost.

The Full Moon by David NethThe Full Moon by David Neth

Kathy and her sister, Samantha, have always been a team. Throughout their time as witches, they’ve taken out more than their share of bad guys. But after Kathy meets Will, who she learns is a demonic Dark Knight, her loyalties begin to change.

Meanwhile, Samantha doesn’t trust Will or his intentions. Still, Kathy can’t help but feel tempted by the dark side as she falls deeper in love with Will. Crossing over would give Kathy the freedom to do whatever she wanted with her magic. No rules. No limitations. It would also mean breaking the bond she has always shared with her sister, who has made it clear that she wants nothing to do with the dark side.

When Will proposes they take over the underworld, Kathy loves the idea of having power. But it also leaves her with a choice that will change her life: abandon her family and the life she has always known, or give up the love of her life forever.

The Forgotten Engineer by T.S. PaulThe Forgotten Engineer by T.S. Paul

Ensign Athena Lee was on her first engineering assignment. She was helping to build a secret space station. There was a war on and this new station was vital. When the engineering fleet was attacked and destroyed she was left lost and alone. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. She was going to have to Engineer her way home. 

Desert Planet by Jim RudnickDesert Planet by Jim Rudnick

“After 55 years of waiting for an answer to the invite to join the RIM Confederacy, the planet Enki has responded with an alternate idea—that the RIM Confederacy join them instead. Captain Tanner Scott is sent on the Diplomatic mission to get the Enkians to reconsider.

What he and the Atlas crew do is to help the new Ambassador to find a way to both diplomatic as well as the Enki into the RIM Confederacy without exposing to them the secret of why that is so important. If the Enkians can be persuaded, the RIM could gain access to the newly discovered metal ores that appear to make a ship invulnerable.

But all of the RIM wants to shortcut the process so the Atlas needs to quarantine the planet as well as maintain full diplomacy with the Enkians. When the Caliphate gets involved and back room deals are made it all comes to a head at the Atlas Adept Officers trial for Terrorism.

Captain Scott will try to defend his officer by acting as his defense counsel—a job that is made even more difficult as the Enkian society and justice system are both hard to learn and hard to navigate within the law…”

Wind Chill by Patrick RutiglianoWind Chill by Patrick Rutigliano

What if you were held captive by your own family?

Emma Rawlins has spent the last year a prisoner. The months following her mother’s death dragged her father into a paranoid spiral of conspiracy theories and doomsday premonitions. Obsessing him, controlling him, they now whisper the end days are finally at hand.

And he doesn’t intend to face them alone.

Emma finds herself drugged and dragged to a secluded cabin, the last refuge from a society supposedly due to collapse. Their cabin a snowbound fortress, her every move controlled, but even that isn’t enough to weather the end of the world.

Everything she knows is out of reach, lost beyond a haze of white. There is no choice but to play her father’s game while she plans her escape.

But there is a force far colder than the freezing drifts. Ancient, ravenous, it knows no mercy. And it’s already had a taste…

Foxed by Hollis ShilohFoxed by Hollis Shiloh

Wallace Avery, bookworm extraordinaire, is not out at work in either sense, as a gay man or as a fox shifter. He likes his privacy, and he’s quite content in records management, thank you: filing papers and spending his off hours quietly.

When the opportunity he never wanted is thrust into his lap, he has to decide what to do about it. Police work and a pay raise, and probably stress up to his eyeballs, or trying to stay in his old life and pretending he’s not capable of so much more?

Whatever he chooses, he definitely doesn’t want to fall for someone from his workplace. Especially not that cop . . .

Spirit of the Sword by Frances SmithSpirit of the Sword: Faith and Virtue by Frances Smith

Michael has survived his battle with the Voice of Corona, and is determined to walk the path of service to the immortal Empress Aegea. But opposing him is none other than his own beloved brother, Felix, who was thought dead but is the chief servant to Michael’s enemy, Quirian.

Meanwhile, the quarrels between the Empire’s feuding factions continue as Miranda finds herself increasingly entangled in the treacherous currents of Imperial politics. As plots multiply, Miranda finds herself increasingly unsure of her loyalties to anyone but her lover Octavia and her dear friend, Empress Portia. But as the Empire hurtles towards civil war the day approaches when she will have to choose a side once and for all.

The roads of Michael, Felix and Miranda entwine in Eternal Pantheia, the Empire’s capital, where betrayals and revelations try their resolve. As the city burns around them the three divided siblings must reunite and put their faith in one another, for only together can they save the Empire, or let the fires of its hubris consume the nation.

The Increasingly Transparent Girl by Matthew StottThe Increasingly Transparent Girl by Matthew Stott

Things live between awake and asleep. In the moment after your eyes grow too heavy to stay open, but before the dreams take you.

One day, Melody May begins to disappear from view. Her hands, her knees, her face, her everything. A monster’s enchantment has ensnared her, and now Melody must travel across a strange and dangerous land between awake and asleep to reclaim herself; otherwise, in 48 short hours, she will never have existed at all…

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Interview with Steve Vernon, author of Kelpie Dreams


The Speculative Fiction Showcase welcomes Steve Vernon whose new book Kelpie Dreams is currently the subject of a Kindle Scout campaign. Vote for Kelpie Dreams here!


Spec Fic: Apple or PC?

Steve: The first computer I ever bought was an IBM 286 and I am pretty sure that it had a stout hamster running on a wheel inside of it. The IBM lasted me about ten years and I learned all of my bad habits on it. I would be afraid to try and use an Apple for anything except making a pie.

Spec Fic: Do you use Scrivener or Word? Or another word-processing program? Or even pen and paper?

Steve: Again, I am old school. I am most comfortable using Word. I do hope to someday tackle Scrivener – but with a day job, trying to keep a writing career afloat keeps me pretty busy. Maybe too busy to learn a new program – but I keep thinking really hard about trying Scrivener. I have heard an awful lot of good things about it.

Spec Fic: Do you have any pets? Do they influence your writing?

Steve: I have a large black cat by the name of Kismet – or Kizzy for short. She rarely comes into my writing cave, although the door is always wide open. Still, she makes me grin regularly – and grinning is a great kind of muse. I also have a family of crows, a couple of random bandit blue jays and a whole pack of gangster grackles who I feed every morning. I go out there in my pajamas and do the old fart thing, scattering bread crumbs for the little ones, peanuts for the big ones and cat crunchies for all.

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

Steve: I have got two separate projects that I really would love to see made into movies. One of them is my novella, SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME: A STORY OF HOCKEY AND VAMPIRES, a story that just reeks of good old-fashioned horror. I wrote it thinking of a weird sort of cross between Paul Newman’s SLAPSHOT and Stephen Niles 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. I have got a couple of Canadian producers looking at it. The other movie-worthy project is SINKING DEEPER: MY QUESTIONABLE (POSSIBLY HEROIC) DECISION TO INVENT A SEA MONSTER I believe would make a wonderful YA version of the movie THE GRAND SEDUCTION – only with a sea monster and gum-booted dragon dancers instead of cricket and five dollar bills. I’d love to see some old fart actors like William Shatner or Gordon Pinsent or Rutger Hauer or even Dolph Lundgren in it.
As for the small screen – well, with the possible exception of BREAKING BAD, television usually messes good things up, given time. Sooner or later somebody decides that a perfectly good television series needs a grand story arc and a conspiracy theory or two and some conflicting melodrama and things all go to rat shit.
And oh yes, I should mention that I am a little big on subtitles.



Spec Fic: Are you hooked on any of science fiction/fantasy shows? If so, which one(s)?

Steve: Well, I was hooked on CONSTANTINE, but they pulled the plug on that. I’ve been enjoying GOTHAM and I really wanted to like the reboot of the X-FILES but they went and got all conspiracy-theory and grand arc and lost me on it.

Spec Fic: What is your view of Star Wars, and the latest episode (if seen)?

Steve: Okay – so I went to see the new Stars Wars movie intending to hate it with an intensity that would put erupting volcanoes and mad scientist death ray laser beams into the shade – but it turned out that I really liked it, which surprised me because I absolutely HATE JJ Abrams take on Star Trek and I was REALLY afraid that Star Wars was going to go the same way, but it turned out I liked it just fine. I have heard some folks moan about it being just the same old story – but heck, remember that Lucas made the original movie thinking about an old-fashioned oater – a western, set in space. The thing about westerns is you want to see that dude in the white hat putting a half a dozen slugs into the dude in the black hat in the middle of main street with a mariachi band playing in the background. You don’t necessarily WANT something that is unique or ground-breaking or mind-bending. I go to a Star Wars movie wanting to see the good guy pull out a space blaster and put a smoking hole in the bad guy’s retro-thruster – and that’s just what the new STAR WARS movie did for me.
Now if only Kylo Ren wasn’t such a great shivering wuss-ball things would have been perfect. We need a villain in the Darth Vader weight class for the next flick – never mind Mr. New Age Neo-Goth Puppy-pants.
(It’s funny – but I swung over to IMDB because I couldn’t remember Kylo Ren’s name – and it looks as if the bulk of the critics hate everything I like about the movie. It’s funny – but some fellows keep forever trying to improve upon a classic cheeseburger – by adding French fries and jalapeno peppers and avocado and Portobello mushrooms to it. Me I am a cheeseburger and cold beer kind of man. Nothing flashy, fancy or sophisticated, I just know what I like.)

Spec Fic: What is your favourite Science Fiction (or Fantasy) film?

Steve: Wow. I always hate these sort of questions. There are so many great movies out there – but I think that the one movie I turn to time and again is Peter Jackson’s original LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. My wife and I sit down and smoke the whole darned pack at least once or twice a year. It stands up to repeated viewings. We also dig the original STARSHIP TROOPERS as well as BLADE RUNNER.
Don’t talk to me about his HOBBIT movies though. I watched the first one – watched in horror as Peter Jackson decided to go all Jar-Jar Binks on the race of  dwarves – (and I never did really appreciate him letting Legolas get all the Errol Flynn action and leaving Gimli with nothing but the comic relief) – and I just lost all heart for anything more. I never have watched the second or third HOBBIT movie. Or was there four of them? I can’t remember. But I will sit down with a cheeseburger and a beer and Peter Jackson’s LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and happily burn away an entire Sunday.


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

Steve: I am a Luddite with my head in the clouds. I don’t own a cell phone and probably never will. But I do Tweet and you can follow me at @StephenVernon and I Facebook and I keep a blog and I am signed up for Linkedin and I even keep a Pinterest page going. I do not always know just exactly what I am doing with some of these systems – and quite often I am doing the Hustle while everyone else around is in a hip-hop frenzy.



Spec Fic: Are you--or have you ever been--a gamer?

Steve: I have been a bit of a gamer but last year I found myself seriously zoning out on endless games of digital Mah Jong and Solitaire as well as a couple of Tower Defense games that were seriously digging into my writing time. I came to realize that what should have been simple stress relief had become an escape that was verging upon addiction – so with a great effort last August I completely stopped online gaming and I do not intend to return to it again. Some folks can take or leave those kind of games with ease – but I find them way too sticky for my cheeseburger brain.
I also, in my ill-spent youth, was a serious diehard pinball junkie and I still keep half an eye out for a good table but they are hard to find these days.

Spec Fic: Do you cook? What is your best/favorite/most popular recipe?

Steve: I learned to cook late in life – when my stepfather caught me trying to make French Toast in a sauce pot by pouring milk and eggs on top of toast crammed into the pot.
I’m not saying I was all that talented.
Later on in my thirties, I began making soup and stews. I really enjoy taking some good fresh ingredients and chopping them up and either boiling or frying or baking them into something that makes folks sit up and yell for beer. I am a bit of a peasant cook – nothing too fancy, but I can guarantee a really good old school feed.
I would have to say that my favourite recipe is HE-MAN BEANS – which you find in my blog right here!

Spec Fic: Do you have a garden? Have you ever grown your own food?

Steve: I’ve had a garden for many years. I primarily raise flowers – mostly perennials because I like to see them poking up out of the dirt in the spring time like surprise Easter eggs that you find in June.
But I also have great luck growing tomatoes and peppers and herbs and peas and beans. I don’t grow greens because the slugs are far too plentiful.
There is a great peacefulness that you find yanking weeds out of your garden and there is nothing that feeds a body’s soul like getting a little good honest dirt beneath your fingernails.




Spec Fic: Have you ever been to Starbucks or another coffee shop?

Steve: I love coffee shops and Starbucks has a pretty good dark roast – but I usually prefer the smaller quieter coffee shops. Someplace where I can find some good dark stick-your-coffee-spoon-upright Blue Mountain coffee. Something dark, with a bit of a bite to it. Unfortunately, I find that most of the coffee shops close to where I am are far too noisy with great clusters of droning and chattering socialites and worse yet, those dudes with their laptops who insist upon monopolizing entire tables while they nurse their mini-mocha-mecha-lattes.

Spec Fic: Would you prefer an independent bookshop, or a big chain?

Steve: Wow. This is another one of those kind of questions. I love little tiny obscure indie bookstores – but I also love the nonstop corporate wallow of those big box bookstores where a fellow can clamber up a nearby climbing wall and free launch himself into great heaps of books, splashing around like Scrooge McDuck in his vault full of money. I also really enjoy poking around those mangy, dusty, moldy used bookstores where little mole men peek out at you from cobwebbed stacks of teetering volumes. I love to root for treasure and funky little pulp novels and big obscure coffee table books.
All right – I am a book addict. What can I tell you?

Spec Fic: Do you have your own office, study or writing space, or can you write in a cafe or the library?

Steve: I have a little office that I refer to as my writing cave. It is far too messy to put a photograph out. Besides, the last photographer that came into my writing cave fell into a manuscript and search parties are still looking for him. As for writing in coffee shops or libraries – I am afraid they are just too noisy for this old hermit crab.

Spec Fic: Who do you consider are your major influences in writing?

Steve: Let me the get the most obvious suspect out of the way. It was Stephen King’s SALEMS LOT that first put the I-want-to-write-a-horror-novel bug into my brain. I wrote DEVIL TREE right after reading SALEMS LOT and I wrote TATTERDEMON thinking about SALEMS LOT, only with scarecrows instead of vampires. I also owe a lot to Hemingway’s short fiction and Bukowski’s poetry and the writing of Joe Lansdale as well as J.A. Konrath, Robert Parker and Carl Hiaasen are also kindling upon my campfire.


Spec Fic: What writer, living or dead, would you most like to meet?

Steve: I guess I’d love to sit down and have a beer with Stephen King. There, I have said it. I am a geeky uber-fan boy. I would also enjoy talking to Neil Gaiman. I actually DID talk to him over the telephone once for a Cemetery Dance magazine interview. He was a well-spoken gentleman who was a treat to interview. I’d love to meet him in person some day.

Spec Fic: If you could have any director to shoot the film of your book(s), who would you choose?

Steve: PHANTASM and BUBBA HO-TEP’s Don Coscarelli comes to mind, as well as Frank Darabont – the only director who EVER ought to tackle a Stephen King story.


Spec Fic: How would you define Speculative Fiction?

Steve: I’d have to define it as a bucket into which somebody has poured an equal portion of horror, science fiction and fantasy into. I would define it as nice combination of what if and why not and how would it be if? It is a genre that blatantly sticks its tongue at bookshelves and cataloguers and the strictures of the Dewey Decimal system.

Spec Fic: On a scale of 1-10, how eccentric are you?

Steve: Oh you are going to have to count a little higher than that.

Spec Fic: Do you consider yourself a slave to the muse?

Steve: Oh no. That is talking poetry and fancy and implies a pinky-finger artfully poked out. I tend towards the redneck blue collar who puts on his work boots before sitting down to the typer.
All right – so I am not actually wearing work boots. I am currently wearing a pair of big gray fuzzy socks – my favourite winter writing footwear.

About Steve Vernon:

Steve Vernon has been writing for over forty years. He started out writing short fiction for small press magazines such as CEMETERY DANCE, THE HORROR STORY, CTHULHU SEX and others. He has written over sixty books including a children’s picture book, several YA novels, a whole lot of horror novels and a half a dozen regional ghost story collections.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for February 26, 2016

Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with lots of award nominations, including the Nebula and Bram Stoker award shortlist, several literary deaths, the Sherrilyn Kenyon vs. Cassandra Clare lawsuit, a nasty case of convention harassment, articles about Stan Lee, comments about Deadpool and the revived X-Files as well as Game of Thrones characters invading suburbia. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Deaths:

Comments on the Sherrilyn Kenyon versus Cassandra Clare lawsuit:

Comments on the revived X-Files:

Comments on Deadpool:

Awards:

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Increasingly Transparent Girl (Tales From Between, Book 3) by Matthew Stott

Release date: February 14, 2016
Subgenre: Children's fantasy, weird fiction

About The Increasingly Transparent Girl:

 

Things live between awake and asleep. In the moment after your eyes grow too heavy to stay open, but before the dreams take you.

One day, Melody May begins to disappear from view. Her hands, her knees, her face, her everything. A monster’s enchantment has ensnared her, and now Melody must travel across a strange and dangerous land between awake and asleep to reclaim herself; otherwise, in 48 short hours, she will never have existed at all...

Excerpt: 


That night, Melody thought she awoke to the blackness of her room, but she did not. It was certainly her room; at the very least it looked an awful lot like it. And it was certainly dark, there was no question of that, but things were not altogether as they seemed.
Soon Melody could feel it. The quiet had a presence. She thought back to drifting off to sleep under the twisted oak in Carsters Wood. She had experienced a similar silence then, had she not?
Melody sat up and clicked on the bedside lamp. Her heart leapt into her throat; it was the only thing that prevented a startled scream from forcing its way out.
‘Hello,’ she said finally, as her frantic heart returned to its normal position.
‘Hello,’ replied the thing crouched in one corner of her room, its voice like fingernails on a coffin lid. It was dressed in tattered rags that slowly waved in the air, as though the thing were underwater, and its skin had the mottled, moist look of a week-old corpse.
‘Why are you in my room?’ Melody asked.
‘I’m not. Not really.’
‘But I see you right there. Crouched in one corner of my room.’
‘Yes. You see me. I don’t see you though.’ It smiled, if that was what the expression could be called. It was cruel, mocking, and it caused the hairs on the back of Melody’s neck to stand on end as a shiver danced up and down her spine.
‘Please leave.’
‘Soon. Soon.’
Melody wondered if she should scream. Scream for help. Scream for her Dad to come racing through to see off this vile, sorry-looking creature. But what if she did? Perhaps she would only be putting her poor, silly Dad in mortal danger. She decided to wait; she would only call for help if she really thought she needed it.
‘What are you?’
‘I am ... hungry. I have opened my eyes and I am very hungry, Melody May.’ The thing looked at her as though it expected pity.
‘Do you know what happened to me? To my visible body?’ Melody felt strangely sure that this creature knew that very thing.
The creature placed an elongated finger to its cheek and slid it down, its jagged fingernail opening a wound from which a spider scuttled. ‘Perhaps, Melody May. Oh, perhaps I do.’

Amazon

About Matthew Stott:

Matthew Stott writes strange stories.

Influenced by the likes of seminal TV show 'Doctor Who', and writers Neil Gaiman and Stephen King, he crafts stories full of creep, wonder, and adventure.

Matthew Stott has scares to tell.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Spirit of the Sword: Faith and Virtue (The First Sword Chronicles, Book 2) by Frances Smith

Release date: February 12, 2016
Subgenre: Epic fantasy, historical fantasy

About Spirit of the Sword: Faith and Virtue:

 

Michael has survived his battle with the Voice of Corona, and is determined to walk the path of service to the immortal Empress Aegea. But opposing him is none other than his own beloved brother, Felix, who was thought dead but is the chief servant to Michael’s enemy, Quirian.

Meanwhile, the quarrels between the Empire's feuding factions continue as Miranda finds herself increasingly entangled in the treacherous currents of Imperial politics. As plots multiply, Miranda finds herself increasingly unsure of her loyalties to anyone but her lover Octavia and her dear friend, Empress Portia. But as the Empire hurtles towards civil war the day approaches when she will have to choose a side once and for all.

The roads of Michael, Felix and Miranda entwine in Eternal Pantheia, the Empire’s capital, where betrayals and revelations try their resolve. As the city burns around them the three divided siblings must reunite and put their faith in one another, for only together can they save the Empire, or let the fires of its hubris consume the nation. 

This is the sequel to Spirit of the Sword: Pride and Fury

Excerpt:

 

"I see," Miranda growled, seeing nothing. "Thank you for that enlightening piece of information, my lord. Good day." She turned away, and began to walk towards Metella and Felix, hoping that Octavia had had better luck with them.
Octavia met her halfway, her face pale.
"Did you find anything out?"
"It's more than just Felix and Metella," Octavia said. "Aelia, Danaus, Telamon...I think all of the Lost are in the palace."
"All of them?" Miranda said. "That can't be right? Why?"
"I don't know, they wouldn't tell me," Octavia said. "I think...I'm not one of them any more, and they don't trust me because they know that I'm with you. But...Felix wouldn't meet my eyes and Metella... I know it's hard to tell with her, but I think she's upset about something. She keeps grabbing hold of her knife and then letting go of it, as though she's nervous. But I've never known anything make Metella nervous before. Miranda, something's going to happen here...I'm scared."
"So am I," Miranda confessed, feeling the ice grip the pit of her stomach. "Your sword is still in your room, isn't it?"
"Yes," Octavia said. "But I've sent for it, and for Ascanius and Julian, too."
"Good," Miranda said. She looked around the room. The press was too thick, she couldn't see Portia or Demodocus anywhere. "I need you to find Portia and her husband, and then bring them over here at once, do you understand, they have to come with you. We’re leaving, all four of us. I’ll join you in a moment.”
"Where are we going?"
"Away from here," Miranda said. "Somewhere safer than this, less exposed. The Emperor's quarters, with that heavy door. Off you go, I'll catch up."
"Why don't you come with me?"
"I need to speak to Quirian again, first," Miranda said. She watched Octavia go, and then caught Romana's eye. The former princess tilted her head quizzically, and Miranda gestured for her to join her as she went back to Quirian, who had not moved and, indeed, looked as though he had been expecting her.
"Ah, Filia, back again," he said lightly. "I had no idea our separation pained you so much."
"You lied to me," Miranda hissed. "You told me you would accept my decision!"
"Have I not accepted your decision, unpalatable as it was?"
"Then what is going on?" Miranda said. "I know something is planned for today; if you mean to go against me, if you mean to hurt Portia or her husband I will stop you. I told you I would not allow any harm to come to them."
Quirian smiled sadly. "There was a time when I swore that I would protect all my dear friends the same way. Alas, as I told you, Filia, in life we do not always get what we fondly desire."

Amazon

 

About Frances Smith:

 

Frances Smith has led a rather uneventful life, which did include studying ancient and modern history at Oxford. The combination of a lifelong passion for classical history and the consumption of large numbers of fantasy novels led to the creation of the Divine Empire, with its many Greco-Roman stylings.

When not exploring fantasy worlds, Frances works as a data analyst in the Life and Pensions industry.
 

 

 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Memory Thief by Sarina Dorie

Release date: February 12, 2015
Sub-genre: Romance, Science Fiction, Neo-Victorian


About The Memory Thief:


What would the Victorian era look like if they had “rediscovered” space flight? Would the British be interested in colonizing the continent of America if they could colonize an entire planet?
Felicity is a young lady betrothed to a British noble of rank and fortune who will someday inherit a space station. Her life should be happy and perfect. Alas, she fears she will never achieve happiness—or wholeness—until her memories have been returned by the man who stole them.
  
In pursuit of her past, Felicity returns to an alien planet where she once encountered descendants of Japanese colonists from Earth who had settled millennia before. In doing so, Felicity finds herself falling in love with the alien planet’s leader, even though she is already engaged. Only when she learns to let go of her fears can she learn the secrets that may aid in the freedom of the Jomon people—and herself.


Excerpt:


A sudden cry erupted from my throat. I covered my mouth as if I could stuff the pain back inside. I swallowed the tears and calmed myself. It was a long moment before my voice worked again.       
     “You’re lying. My sister is dead.”
     From the fur pouch at his belt he removed a folded piece of paper. He opened it and held the paper out to me. On it was a crayon drawing of the jungle, plants and flowers depicted in vivid colors that only an artist could capture. FE was signed in the corner. Faith Earnshaw.
     I shook my head. “Anyone could have drawn this. Anyone who found her crayons. And it’s too advanced for her skills.”
     “Too advanced for the child you left, but not a young woman. This was drawn by Faith-san.”
     He could even say her name correctly. I wanted to believe my sister lived. Imagining her as an adult filled my heart with so much longing, I couldn’t imagine refusing him. I folded the paper up and held it out to him. “If my sister is alive, you will show her to me first and then I will agree to your conditions.”
     He shook his head at the paper I held out to him. “She is too far. I will bring Faith-san to you after you agree and the weather is clear. You need only consent to the wife-swap. I will not take your virtue. We will only trade memories.”
     It was hard to say which I valued more, my virtue or my memories. I unfolded the paper and stared at the drawing again. I had come here to retrieve one lost treasure, only to be offered another.



About Sarina Dorie:



Sarina Dorie has sold over 100 short stories to markets like Daily Science Fiction, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Orson Scott Card’s IGMS, and Cosmos. Some of her novels include: THE MEMORY THIEF Series, SILENT MOON, DAWN OF THE MORNING STAR, URBAN CHANGELING, and GHOSTS, WEREWOLVES AND ZOMBIES—OH MY!
By day, Sarina is a public school art teacher, artist, belly dance performer and instructor, copy editor, fashion designer, event organizer and probably a few other things. By night, she writes. As you might imagine, this leaves little time for sleep.

You can find info about her short stories and novels on her website: www.sarinadorie.com

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Valentine's Day on Iago Prime by Cora Buhlert

Release date: February 12, 2016
Subgenre: Science fiction romance, short story

About Valentine's Day on Iago Prime


Kai and Maisie are about the celebrate their first Valentine's Day on the planet Iago Prime. However, the holiday traditions they established back on Earth such as celebrating Valentine's Day with a picnic on the beach are impossible to maintain in the hostile environment of their new home. But in spite of the many limitations imposed by living on Iago Prime, Kai pulls out all the stops to give Maisie an unforgettable Valentine's Day.

This is a science fictional Valentine's Day story of 2200 words or approx. 10 print pages.

Excerpt:


It would be Maisie and Kai’s first Valentine’s Day on the newly settled Earth colony of Iago Prime.
Of course, on Iago Prime a year was only two hundred and sixty two days long. But for religious and traditional holidays, the colonists still adhered to the old Earth calendar, even if it meant that Valentine’s Day fell into the middle of summer — or at least what passed for summer here on Iago Prime.
Back on Earth, Maisie and Kai Jones — together for more than six years now and married for one and a half, mostly to fulfill the outdated requirements of the colony settlement board — had always celebrated Valentine’s Day by having a picnic on the beach.
Of course, February wasn’t the ideal time for a romantic picnic on the beach at all, not when the beach was in Wales rather than California. But it was the tradition that Maisie and Kai had established for themselves and they were determined to stick to it, even if it meant shivering together on a blanket in Aberystwyth, eating sandwiches and drinking champagne from plastic cups and hot tea from a thermos.
Kai and Maisie had met, when they were both students at the University of Cardiff, she of communication science and he in the engineering department. They shared a beer at the student union and bonded over their shared dream to go out into space one day, to become pioneers, the first humans to set foot onto a brand new world.
However, in those days, space had seemed very far away indeed, even if the university campus was plastered with recruitment posters for the colony settlement board, all of them showing intrepid pioneers posing in front of awe-inspiring alien landscapes, calling out to all those students who felt that Wales was so suffocating that they’d even board an interstellar spacecraft to escape.
And so for their first date — during the height of summer in the Northern hemisphere — Kai and Maisie drove to the seaside town of Aberystwyth instead. They took the vintage funicular railway up Constitution Hill, enjoyed the view and visited the equally vintage camera obscura, stunned that both the railway and the camera obscura were both lovingly maintained and still functional after almost three hundred years. They duly admired the vintage machinery and marvelled at the artistry of people who hadn’t even developed moving pictures yet, let alone lasers and holograms and flight and space travel. Afterwards, they had a picnic on the beach — with sandwiches and salad and a cheap bottle of wine. And finally, they’d enjoyed a night of hot and sweaty sex in one of the historical bed and breakfasts along the promenade.
It had been a truly magical day, so magical that Kai had decided to recreate it for their first Valentines Day together. Of course, neither the funicular railway nor the camera obscura were open in February — three hundred year old antiques apparently did not like winter, even if they were meticulously restored. So Kai and Maisie had simply settled for a picnic on the beach and a night spent at a bed and breakfast. And thus a tradition was born.
When Kai and Maisie got married shortly before disembarking for Iago Prime, they celebrated on Constitution Hill and had a big combined wedding and good-bye party for all their friends and family. They also had their photo taken in front of the funicular railway, Kai in a stiff black suit and Maisie in the traditional white gown with the traditional veil fluttering in the wind. The photo now sat in a silver frame on the nightstand of the rather utilitarian quarters they shared, a cheerful reminder of the world and the life they had left behind.
Iago Prime was one of the few places in the known universe that managed to be even more unpleasant than Aberystwyth in February. It was rocky all over without a single trace of vegetation. The oceans here were blubbering hellholes of liquid ammonia. The atmosphere was poisonous and even at the height of summer, the temperatures rarely cleared minus forty degrees Celsius, which made it officially colder than Wales in midwinter. In short, Iago Prime was not just the sort of world where only the really enthusiastic and/or desperate pioneers would go, it was also about the only spot in the known universe that was less suited to a Valentine’s Day picnic than Aberystwyth.

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About Cora Buhlert:

Cora Buhlert was born and bred in North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. Cora holds an MA degree in English from the University of Bremen and is currently working towards her PhD. Cora has been writing since she was a teenager, and has published stories, articles and poetry in various international magazines. When she is not writing, she works as a translator and teacher.

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