Sunday, August 31, 2014

Author interview - Stan Smith

The Speculative Fiction Showcase interviews Stan Smith, author of The Search for Bryant Hunter.

Apple or PC?

Apple, since the very first Mac, though I've used and programmed PCs.

Do you use Scrivener or Word?

Word, unfortunately. I much preferred Word Perfect in the beginning, but since its demise, I've been using Word. I've never had experience with Scrivener, though I've heard that it's a great program.

Do you have any pets? Do they influence your writing?

My wife and I have four dogs, and have a dog sitting business on the side. We've had as many as 10 dogs in the house at one time (too many!), but I've never minded their company. I'd say the only influence they have on my writing is that they tend to distract me from it when they want attention!

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

That's an interesting question. I suppose it depends on the length of the story that's involved. If the story is one that can support an extended viewing, it's only fitting that it receive the time that it merits, à la Game of Thrones. Otherwise, of course I'd like to see my work on the big screen. I graduated from UCLA as a Film Writing major, so scriptwriting is something I've always been interested in. My first book, The Search For Bryant Hunter, actually started out as a script.

Are you hooked on any of the shows on the sci-fi channel? If so, which one(s)?

We're watching Defiance pretty regularly. I like The Walking Dead and The Strain as well.

Do you own copies of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings DVDs? The extended version? Do you ever watch them?

We have the complete set of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. My favorite is The Return of the King. We don't have the extended version, but watch at least one of the films every year.

Have you seen the first two parts of the The Hobbit? Are you planning to see the final installment?

I wasn't as fond of the film versions of The Hobbit, since I was never a fan of the book. In fact, had I read The Hobbit before I read the "Rings" trilogy, I never would have picked up the latter. I found The Hobbit to be kind of a plodding read. The films are more energetic, and I enjoyed the second one; we're definitely going to see the last one.

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

I spent 30 years working for a leading-edge technology corporation, associating with scientists and engineers who made history with our products. I always wanted to work in a scientific enterprise, but never had the skills (math) to be a scientist myself. So it was kind of a gas to be able to work with people who were world-class scientists (we built the Lunar Lander for the Apollo missions, as well as the first laser weapon capable of destroying an artillery shell in flight). "I'm not a scientist, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn…"

Are you--or have you ever been--a gamer?

I play Starcraft when I can find the time.

What kind of foods do you eat? Are you a health-food nut or is it strictly junk?

I'd say it's a bit of both. I like a good ribeye steak on the grill, but I'm endeavoring to eat more healthfully. Living in the Oregon wine country is not conducive to that effort—bread, cheese and wine…who can resist?

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

I do cook, and enjoy it immensely. Having a daughter who attended culinary school is a bonus, as she shares a lot of what she's learned with me. I won my wife over with a chocolate mousse on the first date; does that count as a "best" recipe?

Have you ever heard of or had a green smoothie? If you’ve ever had one, what did you think about ?

Never heard of a green smoothie, and it sounds way too healthy to be good.

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

We have raised garden beds on our backyard deck, and have a wealth of produce growing, including onions, shallots, herbs, carrots, snap peas, green beans and tomatoes. We've been able to utilize all of that in our cooking.

Have you ever been to Starbuck's?

I have been to Starbuck's only as a companion to others who choose to be there. I worked for a small California-based coffee store chain (since expanded exponentially) called "The Coffee Bean," so I was surrounded by (in my opinion) much better coffee for 4 years. I was never a fan of coffee until I had a cup that was properly roasted and prepared. That's not Starbucks.

Coffee or Tea or Water? Espresso, Drip, Instant, or French Press? Bag or Looseleaf? Bottled, Filtered, Tap or Rainwater?

Lime Diet Coke. Red Wine. Good Oregon well water from our well.

Do you wear socks?

Doesn't everybody?

What are you wearing right now?

Levis, worn running shoes, a Costco Hawaiian shirt.

How often do you wash your hair? 


Do you do your own laundry?

My wife and I alternate; we do it when it's necessary. Sometimes it's me, sometimes it's her.

Does life fascinate you?

Life is the most fascinating thing there is. Endlessly changing, full of challenges, full of blessings, an emotional roller coaster, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

What would your animal totem be?

I've always been partial to canines, so I suppose the totem would be the archetypical "dog": a Wolf.

Do you recycle?

Doesn't everybody? Shouldn't everybody? We should all be stewards of the Earth.

Do you do Yoga? Meditation? or Deep Breathing? Does it help you cope?

I've never found the need to do anything other than live my life. There's nothing that you can't overcome if you have a positive attitude.

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


What’s your astrological sign?

Virgo, but I don't think I'm typical.

Do you consider yourself a slave to the muse?

I'd be a lot more successful if I were. Sadly, there are too many distractions in my life that take me away from my writing.

Stan Smith has been a DJ, an ice truck driver, door-to-door encyclopedia salesman, assistant manager of one of L.A.'s largest theaters, manager of a coffee store, a title insurance officer, a copywriter for the Washington Post, and a 30-year marketing communicator for a major defense contractor. He retired to Oregon in 2012, and lives with his wife, four dogs, two goats, and two sheep. He is at work on his next novel.

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for August 2014

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 popular feature on Cora's blog that will now be also available here at the Speculative Fiction Showcase. “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month” is a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some July 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, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have a broad spectrum of titles, featuring science fiction, space opera, epic fantasy, Steampunk, paranormal romance, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, urban fantasy, Chinese mythology, Norse mythology, fairytale retellings, zombies, shapeshifters, shamans, witches (lots of witches for some reason), angels and demons, time travel, superpowers, sea adventures and much more. We've even got a bonafide Campbell award nominee this month.

This is also one of the most international “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month” round-ups, featuring writers from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Poland and Thailand.

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:

Justice Calling by Annie BelletJustice Calling by Annie Bellet

Gamer. Nerd. Sorceress.

Jade Crow lives a quiet life running her comic book and game store in Wylde, Idaho. After twenty-five years fleeing from a powerful sorcerer who wants to eat her heart and take her powers, quiet suits her just fine. Surrounded by friends who are even less human than she is, Jade figures she’s finally safe.
As long as she doesn’t use her magic.

When dark powers threaten her friends’ lives, a sexy shape-shifter enforcer shows up. He’s the shifter world’s judge, jury, and executioner rolled into one, and he thinks Jade is to blame. To clear her name, save her friends, and stop the villain, she’ll have to use her wits… and her sorceress powers.
Except Jade knows that as soon as she does, a far deadlier nemesis awaits.

Justice Calling is the first book in The Twenty-Sided Sorceress urban fantasy series.

Geodesic by Morton BlakeGeodesic Episode 1: Fabio by Morton Blake

When Fabio Velazquez arrives on the secretive military base on Io, he knows two things: one, that he's had his memories erased and modified and two, that he has a secret. Except because of one, he has to piece together from bits of memories what two is.

The portents aren't good: he's hated by his fellow soldiers, responsible for "the greatest fuck-up in military history", traitor and human guinea pig. Yet, he managed to be trusted with a secret so big that the military has almost killed him and still haven't gotten their hands on it.

His nickname might be Escape Artist, but in the hostile environment of Io there is no way to escape. Or so the military thinks.

Unlocked by K.J. BryenUnlocked by K.J. Bryen

New York, 1985.

Sophia Parks is used to battling demons. But when she is approached by a girl who needs help banishing a demon, Sophia struggles to help her, and must go up against the most powerful demon she's ever faced. To fail might mean losing everything she loves . . .

This short prequel to "Lokte" (coming in September) delves into Sophia's past, and incorporates some unlikely characters from the novel.

Zombie Flood by Victoria ChampionZombie Flood: Disaster of the Dead by Victoria Champion

A storm of undead is coming to the Louisiana swamps.

In the churning fury of the strong winds and rain of a natural disaster, an unnatural contagion is born. The sickness is carried within the storm surge's relentlessly advancing tide.

As the first wall of the hurricane assaults the lush swampland, humans and innocent creatures are infected. Their resultant mutation brings with it an insatiable and shocking hunger. The savage herd of monstrosities goes in search of food.

Guided by one-hundred and thirteen mile-per-hour winds at their backs, the gruesome horde slogs towards a small rural town known for its alligator tours.

Stranded by the flooding in Lustre Perle, federal agents fight alongside local Cajuns against the horrifying and deadly invasion, and although they are from different worlds, they must overcome their prejudices, fears, and distrust and rely on each other if they are to survive.

Strikers by Ann ChristyStrikers by Ann Christy

One hundred and twelve years after the fall, the Republic of Texas is built on two foundations: total freedom and total responsibility. A law broken means a strike against the lawbreaker. Five strikes means execution. The only hope for the law breaker is to escape Texas—to go Striker—before justice comes for them.

Sixteen-year-old Karas Quick has never had it easy. The daughter of a Striker and an alcoholic mother, she’s gotten everything she has the hard way — even the strike on her neck. Yet try as Karas might to stay above-board with the authorities, there are some things you just can’t plan for.

Like seeing the face of her long-lost father paraded through the town square in chains.
In the blink of an eye, Karas’s life changes forever. Potential strikes be damned, she has to see her father one last time. What she discovers propels her upon an unimaginable journey, one she can only hope she’ll survive.

Benton, Vol. 2 by Jolie du PréBenton: A Zombie Novel, Volume 2 by Jolie du Pré

Jennifer Benton’s family died in the first wave of zombie attacks. She found friends in a small group of survivors, and she’s fallen in love with Mark, the charismatic young man leading them.

Though the survivors now have a fragile sense of safety, some of Jennifer’s new friends die, and she has a beautiful blonde rival. Jennifer thinks jealousy will bring Mark back.

She’s wrong.

And now everything may be over—for everyone…

Part 2 of the Benton series, following Benton, Volume 1.

Accession by Terah EdunAccession by Terah Edun

Sixteen-year-old Katherine Thompson wasn't trained to rule a coven. That was her sister - perfect, beautiful Rose. But when a mysterious plane crash kills off the heir presumptive of the Sandersville coven she has no choice.

After stepping in to fill her sister's shoes, Katherine realizes she didn't have a clue - faery wars, depressed trolls and angry unicorns are just the beginning.

For centuries, her family has served the high Queens on both sides of the Atlantic but it is a well-known rule that mid-level witches stay away from high-level Queens.

But when Katherine's youngest cousin vanishes without a trace in the Atlanta court and no one wants to investigate, Katherine decides to step into the darkness on her own. She will soon discover that nothing, especially in a queen's court, is as it seems.

Half Faerie by Heidi GarrettHalf Faerie by Heidi Garrett

Melia is an eighteen-year-old half-faerie, half-mortal who longs to fly like the full-blood faeries. She also yearns for a life that's truly her own, which might prove more difficult than sprouting wings. Her faerie mother practices black magic and her mortal father plots to bring war to the enchanted world. No matter how she yearns to distance herself from them, Melia can't seem to escape their long shadow.

After the half-faerie is accused of being her father's spy, her best friend advises a trip to the Illustrator. The mysterious woman marks Melia's forehead with an ink blotch, then claims the indigo stain will call a green-eyed stranger from distant lands to the half-faerie's aid. Spooked more than comforted, Melia dismisses the woman's words. Rather, she travels to the mortal world to confront her father.

The fallout from her visit destroys what's left of their already fractured family. Melia's mother is unforgiving. The punishment she metes out will leave her middle daughter torn between guilt and ecstasy, challenge the bonds between three sisters, and complicate Melia's relationship with the green-eyed stranger. The half-faerie is sucked deeper into the vortex of her family's dark history when her younger sister pursues their parents' damning legacy. Melia and the green-eyed stranger must stop her--or risk the rise of Faerie's darkest queen.

Daughter of Light is a spinoff of the 14th century French fairy tale, Melusine. A high fantasy with fairy tale elements, it's great for readers who enjoy fairy tales retold. The variety of female characters, layered story, and intriguing cosmology make it a great read for young adult and older readers.

The Tree Hugger by Heidi GarrettThe Tree Hugger by Heidi Garrett

Born and raised in the Free Territories, Magnolia Lee Winthrop, prefers the company of trees and nature to spending time with most people. Although she’s not much of a talker, she’s got plenty of strong opinions about life and how it should be lived, just like her mother and grandmother.

After the settlement’s forest farm is burned to the ground, Magnolia’s life can never be the same. To cope with her grief, she’ll have to leave behind everything she’s ever known and loved for a hard journey through a foreign, paved, and abandoned world.

The Tree Hugger is a dystopian retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Dryad.”

Warriors by C. GockelWarriors by C. Gockel

When science meets Chaos, what could go wrong?

Bohdi Patel is keeping the revelation that he is Chaos incarnate a secret, and handling the revelation about as well as one would expect. He’s in a downward spiral: losing his lease, totaling his car, and trying to keep everyone he cares about at arm's length.

Veterinarian Amy Lewis is wondering what happened to the funny, flirty, curious Bohdi she knew in the land of the Norns. He’s become moody and sometimes cruel. She is definitely glad she didn’t become romantically entangled with him ... most of the time.

When tragedy strikes Amy’s beloved mutt Fenrir, and Odin strikes Bohdi’s best friend Steve, they have to work together again. Amy’s knowledge of science, Bohdi’s talents for theft, and both of their survival skills are put to the test. But more than Steve and Fenrir’s lives are at stake. Amy and Bohdi may unlock the key that saves mankind from the gods … or bring about the apocalypse.

This is Part V of the I Bring the Fire series.

A126608-NJL._SL1500_Mr. Ruins by Michael John Grist

In the tsunami-drenched dregs of a ruined future world, ex-Arctic marine Ritry Goligh is a loner with no roots, future, or ambition. He works as a diver of minds in the floating slums beyond the tsunami wall, smoothing language injects into gray matter. He spends his nights in an alcohol-fueled blur of petty violence and sex, until a shadowy figure with an excellent hat drops the corpse of Napoleon at his feet.

This is Mr. Ruins. He offers Ritry a better future, and in the rusted hull of a belly-up cathedral ship, in the abandoned remnants of old-war infrastructure, unveils an awesome truth: the memories of the dead linger on, and can be consumed for strength. Ritry signs on, and with that new strength begins to grow again.

But Mr. Ruins asks a terrible price. In a metaphoric world where memory is magma and consciousness is a chord of seven lost marines battling through the mind's molten core, Rit must learn to fight for his sanity, and the sanity of every person he loves. Because Mr. Ruins knows them now, and wants them for himself.

From Death by Nigel HenryFrom Death by Nigel Henry

Every year Tobin North and his father make the months-long trek to Miner's Quarry on behalf of their village. They always return home with a fresh supply of encircling crystals, the one item that can protect humans from the undead demons that swarm outside their doors every night. But this year is different, because this year Tobin and his father were told they aren't getting a new batch of crystals. To make matters worse, their old supply is running low, which means their village is on borrowed time.

And time's almost up, because families are starting to die.

This is book 2 in the Demons of Sedona series, following The Healer's Pact.

High Coven by Mona HannaHigh Coven by Mona Hanna

Ariel is getting used to being a new mother and is excited to see her best friends Hallie and Sean again. She just wants to spend time with them and relax and hear about their wedding. Unfortunately, relaxing is the last thing any of them can do on this visit.

Thrust into a new place, the High Witches are delighted to find the fourth—but the circumstances couldn’t be worse. A group of men are determined to stop them from casting a spell that could change the world, bringing immense joy but also great disaster. The risks of the spell might be beyond their ability to handle.

A great darkness is coming. It will take more than two High Witches to stop it: it will take a coven.

High Coven is the third and final book in the High Witch series, following High Witch and Witch Emerging.

Blood of the Water by Jamie MaltmanBlood of the Water by Jamie Maltman

Fire returned in a blaze of war and destruction.
What will Water bring to the one who finds her?
A slave dreams of freedom for all.
An aristocratic soldier yearns for power.
A sculptress covets revenge.
But the painter she loves urges her to use her Talent for peace.

When those aims collide, new friends join in the desperate race through foreign lands and ancient ruins to uncover knowledge of the mysterious Damoz. What do they want? Can they be stopped?

Blood of the Water (Arts Reborn: Book II) continues the journey of Simon, Elysia and Persei that began in Brush With Darkness.

Ruin by Harry MannersRuin by Harry Manners

Before the End there had been great cities, knowledge, power, bustling billions. All silenced when the vast majority of the world’s population, quite suddenly, vanished.

After forty years, an ominous force is laying waste to the survivors, and famine has struck. Norman Creek is struggling to feed the many mouths of New Canterbury, which clings to life while thousands starve or burn out in the wastes. Yet still they collect books, computers, art, saving all they can. They have a mission: to begin again.

And Norman has a destiny: to lead them, prophesized at birth to bring about the return of civilization. But all he ever wanted was to disappear into the crowd, and turn his back on the legend.

When a barbaric horde sets out to conquer the British Isles, and past misdeeds spell the city’s doom, Norman must overcome self-doubt and mount their final stand, as the last war of mankind begins.

A Rip in Time by Monique MartinA Rip in Time by Monique Martin

An old enemy returns threatening to destroy not just Simon and Elizabeth but the timeline itself. To keep that from happening, they travel back to 1888 London to find Jack the Ripper…and save his life. If he dies, the timeline changes, everything they know and their lives together, will be lost. But they soon discover the only thing harder than saving a monster is finding him.

The Crosses are back in book 7 of the Out of Time Series.

Liquid Blue by S.A. MulraneyLiquid Blue by S.A. Mulraney

Part II continues the story of Caeden Llewellyn. With Caeden's apparent death, his father and best friend investigate what caused the Jupiter mining rig malfunction. Meanwhile, a not-so-dead Caeden is reunited with a long lost relative and discovers the creatures behind a plot that could bring war to Earth's solar system.

Liquid Blue, Part II is 20,000 words and the second of three parts. Liquid Blue, Part I is here.

Spirit Blade by M.A. NillesHunters and Chains by M.A. Nilles

Part 1 of 5
Nadia wants no part of the shevoru, the dark blade that has gained power by possessing the souls of raging half-bloods and monsters she has killed. Since learning the secret of the dagger and the spell that the sorcerers taught her to use, she has freed herself from its influence. She is finally ready to make the journey to rid the world of its evil by using the power of an ancient device.
The Adept leaders desire the power of the dagger to serve their purposes, but the messenger they sent to retrieve it from Nadia is the last person she wants to see…

Part 2 of 5
Nadia wants no part of the shevoru, the dark blade that has gained power by possessing the souls of raging half-bloods and monsters she has killed. Since learning the secret of the dagger and the spell that the sorcerers taught her to use, she has freed herself from its influence. She is finally ready to make the journey to rid the world of its evil by using the power of an ancient device.
When Lord Je'Kaoron is taken captive by an enemy demonlord, Nadia is determined to free him, but she has to free herself first…

Code Burn by Elizabeth Noble DayCode Burn by Elizabeth Noble Day

Everyone in the small, secluded town of Mahogany has a Gift -- including absorbing electricity, Knowing the future, putting people to sleep, and causing earthquakes.

Lilliana Cooper, seventeen, is a Fire Wielder. When an ominous red streak appears in the sky, Lilliana's Gift changes. Instead of releasing fire from her palms, her entire body bursts into flames. Code Burn, a twenty-four hour time period where Gifts are amplified, has begun.

A lantern can end Code Burn and restore Mahogany back to normal -- but it is missing.

With people like Belle (who has a job ringing the bells in the bell tower but has no sense of rhythm), Darlene (Lilliana's grandmother who recently returned after a long absence. The last time Lilliana saw her, a man died in a fire), Boris (an alarm technician who uses hammers to crush alarms -- because that's how you stop an alarm from ringing, right?), and Francis (the shoe salesman who doesn't wear shoes), Lilliana navigates Code Burn and searches for a way to end it -- before it causes Mahogany permanent damage.

Memories from a Different Future by David PandolfeMemories from a Different Future by David Pandolfe

For Nikki, it feels like no time has passed since they rescued Henry’s sister from her abductors. After all, in the in-between realm, time is completely different than for those still “living.” Even though it’s been almost twenty years, only lately has Nikki started crossing between realms again. She’s been checking on Ian—the person they knew as Curtis before he jumped into a new life. Nikki hasn’t admitted it to the others but she’s been curious. Could Ian’s life really be as good as it seems? Can she find the courage herself to try the other realm again despite what happened last time?

When Nikki suddenly starts receiving ghostlike visits from Curtis—all these years since he returned to the physical realm—she can’t imagine how it’s possible. She also realizes it has to mean something serious. Nikki soon learns that, three days from now, an incident on Earth will end Curtis’s new life. Now, Nikki, Henry and Jamie must find a way to alter the outcome of a future event only they know will take place. They’ll also have just minutes to make that happen. Otherwise, Curtis is going to die again, taking with him any hope Nikki and her friends had for starting over.

This is the sequel to Jump When Ready.

Darkmoon by Christine PopeDarkmoon by Christine Pope

The answer to the end lies at the beginning....

One hundred and fifty years ago, a terrible curse descended on the Wilcox clan, dooming generations of women to an early death should they bear a child to the bloodline of Jeremiah Wilcox. Now Angela McAllister is carrying Connor Wilcox’s child, and if she can’t find a way to break the curse, that same doom will fall upon her.

The solution to her dilemma lies somewhere in the past—her own, and that of the woman who cast the curse so many years before. Angela’s quest to find the answers she needs will transform the lives of everyone she knows, Wilcox and McAllister alike, and will forever change everything she has ever believed about herself.

This is Part 3 of the Witches of Cleopatra Hill series, following Darkangel and Darknight.

Terminus Shift by Chris ReherTerminus Shift by Chris Reher

Seth Kada, a deep-cover agent working for the Commonwealth, has tracked a group of rebels to the remote Tayako Orbiter. But before he can seize them, the rebels are captured by a powerful rival faction and spirited away.

Seth manages to re-capture one of the rebels, a subspace navigator named Ciela, and soon realizes that her crew's origin and purpose are far more pivotal than anyone could have suspected.

Caught up in a violent clash between rebel factions, Seth and Ciela's divergent loyalties must be put aside to prevent the destruction of a peaceful civilization - and find her people before their ultimate destiny is realized.

Watch Over Me by Alice M. RoelkeWatch Over Me by Alice M. Roelke

On a grasslands world, a hero's daughter falls for a shape shifter—the one man she can never have.
When a shape-shifter attacks 15-year-old Meri, a mysterious guy named Porse comes to her rescue. He’s also a shape-shifter—the friend of Meri’s hero, the dead freedom-fighter named Balile.

When Porse tells Meri that she's really Balile’s daughter, and the current ruler wants her dead, it turns her world upside down. Porse brings her to a town hidden from danger in the midst of the grasslands. There she grows up, making friends and enemies and meeting her only living relative.

She also inherits her father’s blue sword—and falls increasingly in love with Porse, the one man she can never have. Consumed by her first love for her rescuer and friend, Meri struggles to find her place in the world, all the time knowing some will always wish to kill her.

Sometimes it seems as though only Porse stands between her and danger, and he's the most trustworthy person in the world. But is he? Meri would give anything to have him return her feelings, but he claims he doesn't. Yet he gives off mixed signals.

And will he always be here to protect her like she wants to believe, or will he disappear without a moment's notice, the way her aunt claims?

The Deviant Underground by Elisabeth RoselandThe Deviant Underground by Elisabeth Roseland

Even with the ability to stop time, you still can run out of it.

Kathryn should be institutionalized or incarcerated. That’s what happens to deviants—people born with unusual abilities. And if the government knew she can teleport and stop time, she can say good bye to her freedom. Not that her life is all that great anyway. Her inability to control her gifts forces her to keep everyone at a distance. Few friends. No meaningful romantic relationships. Until Susan introduces her to Charge, that is.

When the 6’4” guy with the caramel-colored skin and million-watt smile shows up at her door, she lets her guard down. What she discovers is that her best friend and her new lover have gifts of their own, and there’s an entire underground network of undetected deviants living freely in society. Kathryn’s brought into the fold with open arms, and she’s finally found something she’s never had—a family.

But now, people are disappearing. Some come back weeks later with strange scars, sutured wounds, and missing limbs, with no memory of what happened. Some don’t come back at all.

When Charge becomes the next victim, Kathryn is willing to teleport to the edge of the world to find him, but confronting the mastermind behind the kidnappings puts her life in jeopardy. And when the rescue attempt goes horribly wrong, she wonders if dying might have been a better idea.

Warning: This book contains teleportation, mind control, and sparks that fly in sexy--and possibly deadly--ways.

The Glass Mountain by Jessica RydillThe Glass Mountain by Jessica Rydill

Now aged sixteen, Annat is living in the city of Masalyar and training as an apprentice shaman. Struggling with the pangs of first love and a wish for freedom, she is horrified to see the crows flying over her city. Something she thought destroyed for ever has risen again: a spectre from the past.

When her brother disappears, she and her aunt set out to find out what has become of him. But Annat is caught and imprisoned in the Glass Mountain, a place from legend.

A powerful Magus needs their souls and their father's heart to cast his greatest spell, to bring a dead man to life. Unless he can be stopped, Annat, her brother and their father will die; and the country will be overthrown.

But there is something hidden in the Mountain that will change their lives. They must fight to protect their own world, and to save another: one so small it can be hidden in a suitcase.

This is the sequel to Children of the Shaman.

Wes and Kit by Hollis ShilohWes and Kit by Hollis Shiloh

Wes has a soft heart—even if it is a gear heart from when he was mechanicalized during the war. Now close to homeless and in desperate straits, he still finds himself taking on a stray dog—and helping out an injured man he stumbles across in an alleyway.

That's how he meets Kit. A harmless, gentle clock repairman with a heart condition of his own, Kit is in danger…because he's working on a certain clock.

He hires Wes to protect him until the danger is past…whatever its cause. But they find their feelings for each other are becoming too strong to ignore, despite the danger.

When a chance to solve the mystery presents itself, Wes finds he might just lose the man he's come to love…if he can't find Kit in time.

The Fingers of the ColossusThe Fingers of the Colossus by Keith Soares

From the author of The Oasis of Filth comes a collection of ten short stories covering science fiction, fantasy, horror, and revenge. Includes:
  • The Space Between - One in a million odds can seem a lot more dangerous when you're millions of miles from home.
  • The Last - When you can't remember your past, do you still have a future?
  • The Vacancy of Dreams - A prequel story in the world of The Oasis of Filth.
  • Black Fire - Of all the mages, Huldrych was, by far, the least respected, and for one simple reason: he was incapable of producing black fire.
  • All That You Know is Lost and Abandoned - An innocent conversation is one way to pass the time, even for those who may not be innocent.
  • Tilting - In the frigid waters off Kodiak, Alaska, a man can lose himself. Or be lost.
  • The Fingers of the Colossus - Failure is not an option for a colonel in the queen's forces, even when the entire planet may be against him.
  • Time in Time - Some things are never really lost.
  • Have a Seat by the Fire - Angela Vengaza sits in a small house in the middle of nowhere on a mountainside, hoping to hold on for an hour.
  • Walking on the Spot - A grandfather and grandson, like mirrors through time, debate fate before taking an important journey.
The Archer Who Shot Down SunsThe Archer Who Shot Down Suns: Scale Bright Stories by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

A sampler of short stories taking place before and connected to SCALE-BRIGHT in chronological order. Chinese mythology retold from the time of humanity's creation to contemporary Hong Kong.

"The Crows Her Dragon's Gate" (first published in BENEATH CEASELESS SKIES, 2013. Ed. Scott H. Andrews). The story of Xihe, the mother of suns, when she was young and the world was new: how she met her husband, lost herself, and found it again.

"Woman of the Sun, Woman of the Moon" (first published in GIGANOTOSAURUS, 2012. Ed. Ann Leckie). Houyi rose in heaven, bow and arrow in hand: the hunt was her joy, the slaying of demons her delight. But most delightful was a serving girl called Chang'e.

"Chang'e Dashes from the Moon" (first published in EXPANDED HORIZONS, 2012. Ed. Dash). Chang'e has been a prisoner on the moon while the world turns and cities rise. For centuries Houyi has looked for a way to free her wife, and now she has found it in a distant grand-niece: a young mortal woman named Julienne.

The Rise of the Fallen by J.J. ThompsonThe Rise of the Fallen by J.J. Thompson

Thirteen year old Christopher Wright was a kid from the streets. When word got out that he could heal with a touch, a gang known as Talon tried to recruit him. When Chris turned them down, the gang attempted to take him by force. On the run, Chris met Judge Hawkes, the head of a mysterious group known as the Angelic Dominion. The judge informed the skeptical teen that he was one of a group of young people who had been born with the souls of angels. They had been sent to Earth to stop the forces of Hell from bringing about the Apocalypse.

To escape Talon, Chris reluctantly accompanied the judge back to his home to learn that he had, in fact, been telling the truth. He met others like himself and discovered that he wasn't simply the bearer of an angel's soul. His was the soul of one of the very first archangels: Sariel, brother of Michael and Lucifer.
Doomed to dwell in Purgatory and guard the Gates of Heaven, Sariel is determined to stop his Fallen brother's forces here on Earth before they can destroy humanity and march on Heaven itself.

This is part 2 of the Angelic Wars series, following Confronting the Fallen.

Admiralette by Andrzej TucholskiAdmiralette - A Swarm of Black Birds by Andrzej Tucholski

Smart and brave Sephira, the Admiral’s daughter, believes that she can handle anything.

No one warned her, however, that a massive mutiny is about to rage across her floating country. Powerful social and political players clash and exploit ancient sea-faring traditions in order to destroy the stability of the multi-cultural Fleet. Will Sephira be able to diffuse this time bomb? Or will the demons of the past catch up with the current events and make things even worse?

In order to save her nation, Sephira embarks on a wind-powered adventure full of ocean breezes, strong sun, and true friendship.

The Chains of War by Dean F. WilsonThe Chains of War by Dean F. Wilson


The first of Agon’s chains has broken, and the others are straining. It is only a matter of time before he is free, before the world is engulfed in chaos and death.

There are few left to stop him. Most of the gods can only sit and watch in horror from their prison in the heavens, but the resurrection of the father god Corrias gives the people of Iraldas a sliver of hope, a fighting chance.

Yet the memory of Corrias' failure to defeat Agon in ages past plays heavily on all minds. Many know that it is only the might of the Warrior-god Telm that can defeat the Beast. That god is dead, but his power lives on in his bloodline, in Ifferon and others like him, and they are tasked with waging a final war against the Beast.
Enter the world of Iraldas. Break the Chains of War.

This is the third book in the Children of Telm series, following The Call of Agon and The Road to Rebirth.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Author interview - Cora Buhlert

Cora is one of the co-hosts of the Speculative Fiction Showcase, and has agreed to be the first to do one of our author interviews. The questions will vary somewhat from interview to interview.

And now - over to Cora!

  1. These days, most writers are glued to their laptops, tablets, and/or e-readers. A few still swear by print books and typewriters, the question is: Do you move at all?

Sitting too much is something of an occupational risk for writers. I try to counter this by making sure I get up regularly (and not just to go to the loo either). I also exercise and do yoga. Sometimes, I even go hiking in the woods near my home.

  1. Apple or PC?

PC since approx. 1987, that is pre-Windows days.

  1. Do you use Scrivener or Word? 
     Up until approx. 2010, I used mostly Lotus Word-Pro, because I'd been using it for years. But              these days I use Word. In my day job, I'm a tech and business translator and Word is what most          customers require. I've heard good things about Scrivener, but I haven't tried it yet. 

  1. Would you rather see your stories on the big screen or the little screen?

As long as the adaptation is good, I don't have a preference. The Shattered Empire and the Silencer series would probably work best as TV series, my standalones would probably be more suited to movies.

  1. Are you hooked on any science fiction or fantasy TV shows? If so, which one(s)?

I'm a comic book fan from way back, so I watch Arrow and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and am looking forward to the new comic book related shows Agent Carter, The Flash and Constantine. I also watch Game of Thrones, though my enthusiasm has somewhat flagged during the most recent season, and am looking forward to Outlander.

  1. Do you own copies of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings DVDs? The extended version? Do you ever watch them?

I own them, extended edition even, but I must confess I don't watch them all that often. The Star Wars movies, particularly the original trilogy, and the Marvel Avengersverse movies get far more of a workout.

  1. Have you seen the first two parts of the The Hobbit? Are you planning to see the final installment?

Not yet. I'm waiting for the DVD boxset. I rarely go to the theatre anymore, because movie theatres are rather pricey and the experience isn't all that pleasant.

  1. Are you a Luddite? Or do you prefer to be on the bleeding edge of technology?

It really depends on the type of technology. For example, I use a fairly basic cell phone (and a really ancient one, too, until my old phone died last year) and not a smartphone, because I'm not a phone person. On the other hand, I have an extensive collection of computer equipment.
With regards to reading, however, I am a Luddite. I own an e-reader, a Kobo Glo, but I mostly use it to check my formatting and when travelling. For reading at home, I still prefer print.

  1. What kind of foods do you eat? Are you a health-food-nut or is it strictly junk?

I eat fairly healthy. Lots of vegetables, some fish and chicken, some dairy, very little red meat and very few prepared and processed foods. Of course, I sometimes like junk food as well, but even with potato chips and chocolate (What would a writer do without chocolate?) I try to go for the higher quality brands. Luckily, there is a gourmet chocolate outlet store near my home, where you can buy a big bag of chocolates for a fracture of what a small box normally costs.

  1. Do you cook? What is your best/favorite/most popular recipe?

I love cooking and cook pretty much every day, though I sometimes eat out as well or make something ahead. I cook a lot of pasta, curries, vegetable and rice dishes, because that's what I like. I don't make a lot of traditional German dishes (though I could make them, if required), because they're mostly too heavy and too bland for my tastes.
The big exception is herring salad made according to a recipe handed down from my grandma, which we always have between Christmas and New Year. Though I've adapted my grandma's recipe a bit, because the original is designed to feed an army. Plus, raspberry juice has become almost impossible to procure, so nowadays I use cranberry juice.

  1. Do you have a garden? Have you ever grown your own food?

I live in a semi-rural suburb, so we have a vegetable garden and a greenhouse. It's great, because it means we always have fresh vegetables (and freeze the surplus for the winter). Plus, it's cheaper than buying them at the supermarket and some of the rarer vegetables are very difficult to get hold of. We grow beans (several types), peas, tomatoes, potatoes, kale (kale is very big in North Germany), cabbage, spinach, lettuce, kohlrabi, turnips, chilli peppers, strawberries, herbs, etc… We also used to grow pumpkins and zucchini, but it's usually cheaper to buy them.

  1. Have you ever been to Starbucks?

I think I've been inside a Starbucks maybe twice in my life, when there wasn't another option available. But mostly I prefer independent coffeeshops and local chains. Germany has a great selection of independent coffeehouses, usually tied to a bakery and pastry shop, that have a lot more character and a more interesting range of products than the chains. One drawback is that independent coffeeshops mostly don't offer free WiFi. But when you're writing, WiFi is more of a distraction anyway.
Some of my favourite coffeeshops are Café Knigge in Bremen, founded in 1889 and famous for its Klaben, a type of Christmas cake, Café Burrichter in Vechta with an interior straight from the 1930s and the best Spekulatius cookies anywhere (the rest of their pastries are also awesome) and Weyman's bakery, wine bar and coffeeshop in Twistringen, which is among my personal top three bakeries in North West Germany.

  1. Coffee or Tea or Water? Espresso, Drip, Instant, or French Press? Bag or Looseleaf? Bottled, Filtered, Tap or Rainwater?

I always make myself a pot of tea, usually looseleaf, before sitting down to write, though I also drink a lot of water throughout the day, mostly bottled, sometimes tap. I'm not a big coffee drinker, but since we got one of those Italian coffeemakers, I find myself drinking more coffee than I used to, mostly latte.

  1. Do you wear socks?

Sure. Right now, I wear yellow cotton bamboo socks. Earlier today, I wore mint green socks, but then I went into the garden and had to change them afterwards.

  1. What are you wearing right now?

Sweatpants and a Superman t-shirt. And yellow cotton bamboo socks.

  1. Do you do your own laundry?

Sure. Sadly, writers aren't all issued with a clone of Thomas Mann's very devoted wife Katja who took care of pretty much everything, so her husband could write. However, I'd prefer my personal Katja Mann clone to come in the form of Chris Hemsworth or John Barrowman or Anthony Mackie or – well, you get the idea. Though I suspect Thomas Mann would have preferred that version as well.

  1. Does life fascinate you?

Of course. If you're a writer, I think it has to.

  1. Do you recycle?

I'm German. Recycling is our national pastime.

  1. Do you do Yoga? Meditation? or Deep Breathing? Does it help you cope?

I regularly do some yoga exercises and feel much healthier, since I started a couple of years ago.

  1. On a scale of 1-10, how eccentric are you?

Maybe an eight. I actually used to think I was pretty boring (and as a teenager I guess I was). But nowadays, when I happen to come across some former classmates, they've mostly become really boring and conservative and set in their ways. I think writing (and teaching and translating) keeps you a lot more open to new experiences and makes you a more interesting person.

  1. What’s your astrological sign?

Aries, like pretty much every female member of my family.

  1. Do you consider yourself a slave to the muse?

She's my slave. Or rather, she's a very dutiful employee (cause slavery is a horrible thing) who shows up for work when I do. Though sometimes, she also calls in sick or insists on doing unscheduled overtime, when I don't have a whole lot of time for her.

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. Visit her on the web at or follow her on Twitter under @CoraBuhlert. You can buy her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Kobo, AllRomance e-books, DriveThruFiction and XinXii or borrow them at Scribd.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Half Faerie by Heidi Garrett

Subgenre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: July 30, 2014

ABOUT Half Faerie:

The Daughter of Light trilogy is... Coming of Age and Coming into Power

As a half-faerie, Melia is an outcast in the enchanted world where she lives with her two sisters and full-blood faerie mother. Their father has been exiled to the mortal world for breaking his faerie troth. He's determined to return to the Realm of Faerie by harnessing the power of Umbra--an accumulation of psychic ash which dwells in the Void.

Melia becomes entangled in her father's obsession by way of their telepathic connection. Uncertain about her own nature--is she evil or has she been tainted by her father's contact with Umbra?--the half-faerie seeks aid from the Illustrator. The mysterious woman marks Melia's forehead with a strange emblem meant to draw the help of a green-eyed stranger from distant lands.

Before the young priest--an authority on Umbra--arrives, a tragic accident destroys what's left of the half-faerie's fractured family. Melia's mother is unforgiving. The punishment she metes out will leave her middle daughter torn between guilt and ecstasy, challenge the bonds between three sisters, and complicate Melia's relationship with the young priest.

In Half Faerie, the first exciting installment in the Daughter of Light trilogy, an intriguing world backdrops Heidi Garrett's fantastical tale of mythical creatures and heart-breaking family relationships.


A flap of wings approached to her right—a flock of field faeries most likely.

Someone giggled. Melia’s body stiffened as she searched the hill’s grassy incline for Tatou. If she were here, they’d leave her alone.

“What have we here?” Verbena, a loathsome flower faerie with the most gorgeous amber wings, entered Melia’s field of vision. Her two best friends, Clementine and Brigitta, traipsed behind her. Specks of gold in Verbena’s wings glinted in the afternoon sun. Melia had to shade her eyes with her hand to look at them. “Why, if it isn’t Melia, daughter of the great mortal druid, Elynus,” Verbena announced as if everyone present didn’t know who she was.

Clementine and Brigitta tittered. Their leader had said something clever. Melia pressed her lips into a sullen line.

The haughty flower faerie stepped forward, pulled her skirt with a flamboyant swish, and folded herself into a graceful pose in the grass beside Melia. “Exactly who I was hoping to find.”

Clementine’s and Brigitta’s mouths dropped open. Verbena patted the ground and her friends sat.

Still no sign of Tatou.

“You must be lost,” Melia said. The hill wasn’t where flower faeries usually gathered. They preferred the Danu Meadows, the banks of the Nyssalei River, and the shops in Bryndale.

Verbena winked at her friends. “We missed you in class today, didn’t we?” Brigitta’s and Clementine’s heads bobbed. “Melusine thought I could find you up here.”

Melia’s heart thumped in her chest. She thought her older sister’s best friend was Gisele, not this hag. Where was Tatou? “I want to ask you a question,” Verbena said.

The faerie’s smug demeanor rattled Melia. Had Melusine told her about last night? The alternative, that someone besides her mother and sisters had heard her laughing in the dark moon night, was too awful to contemplate.

“The rumors about your father...” Verbena stretched the word father to full effect.

“What a dull subject.” Melia snuck another sideways glance at the flower faerie. Was she trying to glamour her?

Full-blooded faeries could affect a mortal’s thoughts and emotions with a focused gaze, but faeries couldn’t glamour one another, and most couldn’t glamour Melia or her sisters. Pressina had always been the exception. Nevertheless, Melia made a point to look away. Her gazed settled on Brigitta’s wings. They weren’t as pretty as Verbena’s, but their unusual color made them striking. Melia shifted her gaze to Clementine’s sad, dandelion-colored wings—the plain appendages bolstered her.

“Is he going to incarnate Umbra?” Verbena asked.

“I don’t know anything about it.”

“I don’t believe you,” Verbena’s tone turned nasty. She must have figured out her glamour wasn’t working. “Everyone is talking about last night.”

Melia imagined one of the tall pine trees cracking at its roots and smashing the flower faerie in the head.

“How you were laughing outside the tree house,” the flower faerie’s words dripped with malice.

At least, she hadn’t accused her of howling.

“I heard it was a horrible, evil laugh.”

How did everyone know?

“Melusine said it made her skin crawl. She thinks you’re going to help your father destroy Illialei.”

Melia’s head was spinning. Had her sister told every single creature she’d met on the way to the river this morning?

Melusine was a statuesque redhead who didn’t stutter. Socially fierce, her lack of wings had never hindered her popularity among the flower faeries. Spiritually, she was one of them. Melia couldn’t fathom how she managed it, and secretly envied her for it, but hated whenever her sister gossiped about her. Which was far too often.

“I think you’re his spy.”

The accusation stretched Melia’s thin patience beyond its limit. “I don’t even talk to him!”

“Oh, did I touch a nerve?” Verbena’s sickly-sweet voice rotted in the air between them.

Melia’s heart raced so fast it threatened to escape her chest. “Leave me alone!”

“Or what, you’ll turn me into a toad?” the flower faerie snickered.

Fear and anger surged in Melia’s chest. She needed to get away from Verbena, but it was too late. By the time she jumped up, her reality was already shifting.

Acrid smoke burns the inside of my nose and lungs.

I turn in circles.

Tendrils of grey-white smoke rise as mist; charred tree stumps thrust jagged and menacing from the ground. Dark rivulets streak blackened rock.

Verbena’s, Clementine’s, and Brigitta’s lifeless bodies lie a few feet from where I stand. More bodies—twisted and unidentifiable, form a grotesque heap farther down the hill. Mud, soot, and blood stain my fingers and palms—accusing me of slaughter.

Vindication possesses me; wave after wave of satisfaction washes over me. My father’s disembodied voice applauds.

Heidi Garrett is the author of the contemporary fairy tale novella collection, Once Upon a Time Today. In these stand-alone retellings of popular and obscure fairy tales, adult characters navigate the deep woods of the modern landscape to find their Happily Ever Afters. She's also the author of the Daughter of Light series, a fantasy about a young half-faerie, half-mortal searching for her place in the Whole. Heidi's latest project is a collaboration with Billie Limpin. They're cooking up a yummy paranormal romance!

Heidi was born in Texas, and in an attempt to reside in as many cities in that state as she could, made it to Houston, Lubbock, Austin, and El Paso. She now lives in Eastern Washington state with her husband, their two cats, her laptop, and her Kindle. Being from the South, she often contemplates the magic of snow.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Indie Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for August 28, 2014

Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about indie speculative fiction from around the web:

Speculative fiction in general:
Writing and marketing:
Movie and book reviews:
LonCon3 and Nine Worlds con reports: