Saturday, February 28, 2015

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for February 2015

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some 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, 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 hard science fiction, military science fiction, space opera, science fiction romance, paranormal romance, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, horror, weird western, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, young adult fantasy, werewolves, vampires, witches, dragons, ghosts, djinns, magic schools, pirate airships, monkey queens, demon hunters, repentant assassins, erupting super-volcanoes 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:

Exit Ruinland by C.J. AndersonExit Ruinland by C.J. Anderson


Beautiful and impoverished, Lauren Vasquez joined the United States military in her youth. She never expected to witness the destruction of Earth. In the year 2131, nuclear and chemical war fueled by religion obliterates all of civilization. Trapped in underground bunkers Lauren and other survivors face homicidal artificial intelligence and fabricated metal assassins who police their new dystopian reality. An unplanned pregnancy by a sociopath further complicates her situation and Lauren will do whatever it takes to protect her unborn child. She holds on to the dream that her baby will not be formed with the emptiness of the father. Explore a possible future of human and synthetic beings as Vasquez enters, survives, and fights to find an exit from the ruined land. You will question the origin of life and embrace the dreams of androids. This is a powerful story about the mystery of love, the finality of death, and the struggle to find hope in a devastated world. Exit Ruinland contains the first four books in the Ruinland series.

Fairies and Felicitations by Eleanor BeresfordFairies and Felicitations by Eleanor Beresford

Anne has always thought of herself as middling. Middling looks, middling position in the form, middling magical Gift and just a middling curve to the tip of her ears.

Her best friend, Lady Emmeline Eversleigh, commonly known as Kitty, is not middling anything. And when Kitty drags Anne into playing a Saint Valentine’s Day prank of truly wicked–and magical–proportions on one of the prefects, Anne finds herself in more than a middling muddle of trouble.

A stand alone novelette of 10,000 words in the Sorcery and Scholars series 

Partners in Crime by Cora Buhlert

The Premier Imperial Bank of Houshou is the financial institute of choice for the rich and the crooked of the Fifth Human Empire. The bank boosts a two thousand year history of excellent but discreet service and its vaults and computers are thought to be impenetrable.

However, the Premier Imperial Bank of Houshou has not counted on Ethan Summerton and Holly di Marco, ex-aristocrat and ex-mercenary respectively, finding a way to breach its impenetrable security system and redirect the ill-gotten gains stored at the bank to the coffers of the Galactic Rebellion.

On the other hand, Holly and Ethan, whose murdered family was among the select clientele of the bank, have not counted on the Premier Imperial Bank of Houshou‘s rather eccentric idea of good customer service.

This is book 5 in the Shattered Empire series.

The In-Betweener by Ann ChristyThe In-Betweener by Ann Christy

Two years ago a new medical nanite advance divided humanity into three types: humans, deaders and the frightening in-betweeners that crave human flesh. Emily’s world has grown quiet and ordered, her day bounded by mornings killing deaders at her fence and nights huddled alone in a warehouse office. She’s begun to believe life will always be this way, alone with the dead or fighting in-betweeners for her life. But even that life is better than the alternative.

Everything changes when one of the deaders at the gate isn’t a deader at all. He’s an in-betweener different from any Emily has seen before…and he has a message.

The In-Betweener is book one of the Between Life and Death series. Book two, Forever Between, will release in March 2015. Book three, Between Life and Death, is scheduled for release in May 2015.

The Between Life and Death series is suitable for ages 16 and up, with occasional violence and mild language.

ShiftofTimeBIGShift of Time by Audrey Claire

Rue Darrow is a newly made vampire, and she’s alone in New Orleans, no boyfriend, no son, and no friends. All she sees is an eternity spent working at menial jobs just to pay the bills, hunting where it’s safe, and holding onto the her flagging human emotions.

Then Rue saves the life of a man in a dark alley. What she didn’t realize was the man was Fae, and the attackers were demons. The grateful Fae wants to hire Rue to get back a treasure that was stolen from him, but he won’t tell her what it is. Rue, who has never been in a fight in her life–before the alley scuffle–is thrust into a new, darker world where there are not only Fae but werewolves, demons, unidentified creatures, and even her old “buddy” Death.

Rue’s not sure if she should take on the job, but well, it beats shift work.

Star Splinter by J.G. CresseyStar Splinter by J.G. Cressey

Lieutenant Callum Harper hadn’t intended on punching his commanding officer quite so hard. But maybe it wasn’t such a bad turn of events. Court-martialed and dumped on a reject raft bound for Earth, Cal feels optimistic about a life where getting blown up, shot, or even eaten is altogether less of a concern. And, more importantly, a life where the only person he’s responsible for is himself.

Unfortunately, fate doesn’t favour the mundane. Crash-landing on a lethal planet, and with technology failing all around him, Cal must take his fellow passengers under his wing in order to survive and unravel the reasons behind their situation.

But the cause is far worse than any of them could have imagined, for theirs is a small part of a much larger crisis. Colonized space is under attack. Humanity is on the verge of chaos. And those who enjoy such anarchy are already beginning to thrive.

Yet Cal and his new companions will discover that mankind isn’t the true threat” – not by a long shot.

Under the Stars of Faerie by Robert DahlenUnder the Stars of Faerie by Robert Dahlen

“You were right about her. She is a hero.”

When a love-crazed gremlin kidnaps pixie waitress Mandy, Michiko Koyama, a.k.a. the Monkey Queen, and her partner in adventure Beth McGill journey to Faerie to rescue their friend. Circumstances force them to ally with the crew of a pirate airship, led by the mysterious Captain Ash. Dangers await them in the sky, on the ground and in their hearts.

And an old enemy waits for them, his trap set and ready to be sprung…and it could mean the end of the Monkey Queen.

This is book 3 of the Monkey Queen series.

81kMye+KhQL._SL1500_The Family Business by Marina Finlayson

Renardo and his brothers are up to their eyeballs in debt, with one last chance to save their merchant business (and their gonads) from the moneylender. The great city of Tebos is holding its Festival of Song in three days’ time, and they have a wagonload of songbirds to sell.

There’s just one large, man-eating problem: the bored sphinx who guards the city’s gates, and her deadly riddle game. Renardo doesn’t even want to be a merchant, but somehow it falls to him to outwit the sphinx.

No pressure. All he has to do is come up with an unanswerable riddle.

A short story (4,000 words) for lovers of humorous fantasy.

The Gate by Charlotte GreyThe Gate by Charlotte Grey

When Shannon wakes up in the middle of a forest, confused and disoriented from her sudden and unexpected death, she follows a path that leads to a small, dilapidated town full of silent spirits who repeat the same tasks over and over again, completely unaware of their surroundings. And the worst part? She might be trapped there forever.

She’s alone and terrified until she runs into Ben, a charming but cautious man from Victorian England who’s been trapped in the town since his death in 1894. He tells her she’s the only person who’s spoken to him since he arrived. With his experience and her creativity, will they be able to find a way out of the town and into a better afterlife?

“The Gate” is the beginning of an emotional and haunting story that depicts a budding romance between two people who never met in life, and can only be united in death.

This is Part 1 of a series of novelettes, and is approximately 9,000 words.

Bad Hunting by Kyra HallandBad Hunting by Kyra Halland

Cowboys and gunslingers meet wizards in this high fantasy series inspired by the American Wild West. Silas Vendine is a mage and bounty hunter, on the hunt for renegade mages. He’s also a freedom fighter, sworn to protect the non-magical people of the Wildings from ambitious mages both lawless and lawful. In his line of work, Silas knows to expect the unexpected, but he never expected to end up with a partner like Lainie Banfrey, a young woman born in the Wildings who is both drawn to and terrified of her own developing magical powers.

Silas and Lainie have defeated the dangerous rogue mage who brought Lainie’s hometown to the brink of open warfare. But the town of Bitterbush Springs isn’t big enough for two wizards, or even one, so they’ve hit the trail. Then Silas gets word that another mage hunter down in the dry and desolate Bads is onto something big and needs backup. He and Lainie head into the badlands only to find one mage hunter dead and another one missing… And Silas could be next.

This is book 2 of Daughter of the Wildings, following Beneath the Canyons.

Hondus Pointe by R.D. HendersonHondus Pointe by R.D. Henderson

The first book in a fantasy novella series takes place in the Nether Realm featuring a cadre of rogue black elven intelligence operatives believing black elves should return to the surface to rule the Earth Realm like they did nearly two thousand years ago.

Author’s Note: The word count is 30,043.
91f-Bes8nlL._SL1500_Rynlee’s Song by Eliza Marie Jones

Rynlee Nalis is a demon hunter. She is a Purator, belonging to an organization who slay demons to serve their King. Even though she’s a candidate to succeed the High Purator, eighteen-year-old Rynlee doesn’t want the responsibility.

Her entire world is turned upside down when Jeynen shows up at the temple that is her school and home. She thought he died five years ago. And he has no idea who she is.

When an assassin comes for Jeynen and he manages to flee for his life, Rynlee rushes after him. As she tries to discover the truth about him, she stumbles onto an ancient prophecy and challenges those who want to destroy the balance of magic.

Birthright by Tammi LabrecqueBirthright by Tammi Labrecque

At the request of an agent of the Crown, Tyrnill helps investigate a series of unexplained deaths.

This is a novella length sequel to SongHealer.

Carus & Mitch by Tim MajorCarus & Mitch by Tim Major

Carus is only fifteen but since their mum disappeared, looking after her little sister Mitch is her job. There’s nobody else. Not in their house and not outside, either. There’s something out there, scratching and scraping at the windows.

The barricades will hold.

They have to.

The Smoke-Scented Girl by Melissa McShaneThe Smoke-Scented Girl by Melissa McShane

In a world very much like our own Victorian England, the country of Dalanine is at war. The implacable, unstoppable Despot has been pushing northward for over a year, conquering everything in his path with military and magical force, leaving nothing but destruction in his wake. For Evon Lorantis, Dalanine’s most promising young magician, the war represents the same kind of work he’s always done, inventing and developing new spells for his country’s defense. But as good as he is, he’s still stumped by the mystery the government’s department of Home Defense brings him: a rash of spontaneously occurring fires, hotter than any natural force can produce, melting stone and vaporizing flesh wherever they strike. Home Defense believes it’s a weapon that will finally defeat the Despot. And they want Evon to harness it.

In investigating the problem, Evon discovers these fires are no accident; there’s a magician behind them, a woman using the fire to prosecute justice on her own terms. Evon sets off on a journey across Dalanine to track down this rogue magician, hoping to persuade her to turn aside from her vigilante crusade to serve her country, afraid of finding only a madwoman at the end of his quest. But the woman he does find is nothing like he expected, the mystery far greater—and older—than he’d imagined, and the secret of the fire more potent than anyone could have guessed. As Evon attempts to untangle fact from myth, what began as an assignment becomes a challenge that will require every ounce of magical ability he has—and will irrevocably change the course of his life.
Chosen by Christine PopeChosen by Christine Pope

It began as a fever of unknown origin that its victims dubbed “the Heat,” but as it burned through most of the world’s population, it became known simply as “the Dying.” And for those left behind, the struggle has just begun….

In the aftermath of the Dying, survivor Jessica Monroe is protected and guided by the gentle voice of an invisible being she thinks of as her guardian angel. When she reaches the sanctuary he’s provided for her, however, she realizes that her unseen companion is no angel at all. The destruction of humanity was only the first step in a much larger plan, and now Jessica must struggle to discover her own role in a frightening new world where everything has changed.

Crone by Jennifer R. PoveyCrone by Jennifer R. Povey

Bruton is a community struggling to survive – and to retain some of the values of the old world. Led by tough former lawyer Helen Locke, it’s a small town where people struggle to remain civilized, to keep their technology and to survive. Until Tom Milkins shows up – and Locke knows he’s trouble right away. When a young scout is brutally murdered, it’s clear that Bruton – and Locke – might have more than they bargained for. Can they keep the light of civilization in a world full of wild children and dangerous, patriarchal men?

This is part 2 of the Silent Years series and the sequel to Mother.

Fire from the Ashes by B.E. PriestFire from the Ashes by B.E. Priest

“Come, Little Dragon. The sun rises, and so must you.”
The Scion King sits Riverdale’s throne.
Rebels mass near the Western Sea.
Having lost everything,
Asher flees to the edge of the broken realm,
where he must find redemption
or die alone.

Book 5 in the Southwind Knights series.

Entropy's End by Chris ReherEntropy’s End by Chris Reher

Ships are disappearing in subspace. Traders, rebels, pirates, and even military vessels are losing their way in the Big Nothing that makes space travel possible. Deep-cover agent Sethran Kada joins the investigation after his own navigator, Ciela, barely escapes the void with her mind intact. It soon becomes clear that this subspace trap is more than some natural phenomenon,

Seth’s search for answers leads him to a brutal penal colony on the brink of revolt, and uncovers a plot to destroy an entire planet. When evidence points to the return of the dangerous subspace entities known as Dyads, Air Command mobilizes to annihilate the threat at any cost.

Seth and Ciela pursue a Dyad who has infiltrated a key research complex where they discover that the inexorable subspace peril will not just threaten a single planet. It will mean the end of interstellar travel and destroy their Commonwealth civilization.

This is book 3 in the Targon Tales – Sethran series.

Suckers by Z. RiderSuckers by Z. Rider

“What we have here is a very high-quality junkie novel that happens to be about a unique case of vampirism.” —Evan Clark, author of Movers

WHEN WORN-OUT MUSICIAN DAN FERRY decides to take a shortcut back to the band’s hotel, he picks the wrong dark alley to go down. Within days of being attacked by a bat-like creature, he becomes consumed with the need to drink human blood. Terrified of what will happen if he doesn’t get his fix–and terrified of what he’ll do to get it–he turns to his best friend and bandmate, Ray Ford, for help. But what the two don’t know as they try to keep Dan’s situation quiet is that the parasite driving Dan’s addiction has the potential to wipe out humankind.

Poignant and terrifying, heartfelt and ingenious, Suckers is a story of sacrifice and friendship in the face of an alien contagion that threatens to destroy humanity.

Finding Faded Light by Jarrett RuschFinding Faded Light by Jarrett Rush

The government has collapsed, RomaCorp is rising in its place, and Weber Rexall threw the first punch in a fight with Roma that he and his friends weren’t ready to finish. With Roma looking for him, he’s fled New Eden for the Outer West, hoping to give his friends time to prepare for an inevitable second round. He just never expected that to take two years.

Scratching out a new life far from home, Rexall thought he had longer to stay out of Roma’s reach. But with a hefty reward on his head, desperate thugs are eager to turn him in, and a relentless Roma security agent he knows all too well has come to bring him back.

Rexall could run again, but RomaCorp won’t stop unless he can finish the fight he started. Yet to do that, he needs more help and resources than the Outer West can offer–and if he fails a second time, there won’t be a third.

This is book 2 of the New Eden Series/Rexall Cycle, following Chasing Filthy Lucre.

My Partner and Me by Hollis ShilohMy Partner and Me by Hollis Shiloh

Being mates makes everything perfect—doesn’t it?

Sean is happy with his mate, Tom. As far as he’s concerned, life is golden. Except for when it isn’t. Their work is dangerous. While Sean’s recovering from his most recent injury, he hears a little girl in his head, calling for help. And his wolf side is acting up: too sensitive, too vulnerable. He needs Tom more than ever, especially when it means facing his family and old wounds. Even if things are never truly right for his wolf side, at least he has a mate who will never leave him…right?

Takes place after My Partner the Wolf
 89,000 words. Some angst. Some wolf stuff. Lots of love. Happy ending. (I promise!)
Sexiness level: Medium-ish

Mutineer by J.A. SutherlandMutineer by J.A. Sutherland

Just as Midshipman Alexis Carew thinks she’s found a place in the Royal Navy, she’s transferred aboard H.M.S. Hermione. Her captain is a Tartar, free with the cat o’ nine tails and who thinks girls have no place aboard ship. The other midshipmen in the berth are no better. The only advice she’s offered is to keep her head down and mouth shut – things Alexis is rarely able to do.

This is the sequel to Into the Dark.

Outland by Dennis TaylorOutland by Dennis Taylor

When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, it’s up to six university students and their experimental physics project to prevent the end of civilization.

When an experiment to study quantum uncertainty goes spectacularly wrong, physics student Richard and his friends find that they have accidentally created an inter-dimensional portal. They connect to an alternate Earth with identical geology, but where humans never evolved. They go panning for gold and become millionaires overnight, while fantasizing about Nobel Prizes and patents.

Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts on Earth in an explosion large enough to destroy civilization and kill half the planet. Richard and his friends have less than an afternoon to get as many people as possible across to Outland before Nebraska is covered in a lethal cloud of ash.

Now Richard finds himself in charge of a disorganized and frightened band of reluctant pioneers, on a world with none of the modern infrastructure that people have come to depend on. Richard has been a loner all his life, and has always wanted to be part of something bigger– but this is far more than he bargained for. If he doesn’t get this right, it’s not just the lives of the people in his care that could be lost– it may very well be the end of human civilization.

Epiphany - The Golding by Sonya Deanna TerryEpiphany – The Golding by Sonya Deanna Terry


First in the two-volume Epiphany series, The Golding is a captivating story-within-a-story that alternates between the work of an 18th-century author and the present-day lives of those who study his book.
Rosetta Melki, part-time tarot reader, struggling sole parent and full-time idealist, begins a reading group to examine a fantasy novel, and discovers the book to be anything but fiction.

The book, written in the 1770s by Edward Lillibridge, is a hidden history that reveals the true beginnings of the global monetary system. Lillibridge’s tale surrounds ancients from a gold-obsessed empire and the sprites they oppress: intuitive clan dwellers whose currency of choice is kindness.

Whether discontent in rich and poor alike will ever make way for the Currency of Kindness, whether anyone can believe enough in humanity’s true ancient history to activate the dawn of a benevolent new era, remains to be seen, but the time-crossing sprites of Lillibridge’s descriptions have set their sights on Rosetta. Their attempts at providing a companion to assist in the quest they have planned for her leads to a clumsy introduction to Matthew Weissler, a feet-on-the-ground finance executive who is disturbed to find he’s being followed by an elf.

It would seem Matthew and Rosetta have nothing in common, and yet the sprites believe if the two work together, a renaissance known as The Silvering will occur. But someone from the empire of the past is intent on preserving Earth’s pattern of pain, and is determined to prevent the sprites from succeeding.

Bone Dry by Cady VanceBone Dry by Cady Vance

Sixteen-year-old Holly Bennett is a comic book nerd, a con artist, and a shaman. Ever since her mom’s mind got stuck halfway between the spirit world and ours, Holly’s been forced to act as the breadwinner of the family. She uses her burgeoning shaman powers to set up fake hauntings and “banish” the so-called ghosts from her wealthy classmates’ bedrooms. For a fee, of course.

But when actual spirits start manifesting, Holly discovers that other shamans have come to town, summoning life-sucking spirits for their own ends. And as her mom’s mind slips further away, Holly has to fight to save her, and the rest of the town, before they get sucked into Lower World permanently.

Sacrificed by Emily WibberleySacrificed by Emily Wibberley

Fifteen-year-old Clio should have never been the Oracle of Sheehan. That power is passed from mother to eldest daughter, and Clio is the youngest of four sisters. But when her entire family is murdered by Mannix, the king’s adviser, Clio is left all alone and heir to a power she never wanted and doesn’t understand.

Hunted by Mannix, Clio seeks refuge in a foreign city where oracles are absolutely forbidden. If she’s found out, she will be sacrificed atop its great pyramid.

Clio has no choice but to win the trust of Riece, an enemy warrior. Despite the growing feelings between them, Clio knows that if he finds out who she really is, he won’t hesitate to kill her.

Clio tries to hide her budding powers, longing to be a normal girl who can fall in love, but the visions she has of Mannix bringing a barbarian army into Sheehan torture her conscience. She alone has the strength and foresight to stop him, but only if she can embrace her destiny and sacrifice everything.

Solstice Magic & Mayhem by Stella WilkinsonSolstice Magic & Mayhem by Stella Wilkinson

It’s the Summer Solstice and it’s a full moon too. Natural Witch Emily Rand has been doing her best to keep her distance from gorgeous Werewolf Aaron Fletcher, but fate has other plans. Fletch’s new pack Alpha has heard of Emily’s powers and is coming for her. He wants to bond his wolf to her witch and make himself the most powerful Werewolf in Britain. Can Emily and Fletch combine forces to outsmart the Alpha before the Solstice magic takes away their choice? Emily has never had great control over her powers and being forced into a battle to stop the Alpha can only result in complete mayhem.

A humorous paranormal romance. Book Three in the Magic & Mayhem series.

Winemaker of the North by J.T. WilliamsWinemaker of the North by J.T. Williams

Sviska is an assassin questioning the sanctity of his lifetime of bloodshed in service to an ancient sect. Perceiving their acts have become random and senseless, he refuses to murder a young child. He wishes to leave his life with the Order, but they have another assignment for him and if he refuses this too, he will be killed.

Sent to an isolated mountain city called Elinathrond, Sviska finds a place where a plague is rampant; a wine used to prevent the ailment has run out. Sviska’s task is to ferment a medicinal wine for the people and it is here he discovers that magic, an extinct force in his lands, is very much alive. But why the Order would send him here to procure this life saving elixir for those they wish dead, confuses him.

In this last refuge for magical peoples, a weakening spell exposes more of them to the sickness with every moment. Rumors are spreading that the city is no longer safe, and a malicious evil is growing beneath the streets. If he fails to procure the wine, Elinathrond faces desolation, but the death of the last winemaker was no accident, and Sviska may be next.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for February 27, 2015

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

Speculative fiction in general:
Writing, publishing and promotion:
Science and technology:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Shift of Time (Rue Darrow, book 1) by Audrey Claire

Release date: February 18, 2015
Subgenre: Urban fantasy

About Shift of Time:

Rue Darrow is a newly made vampire, and she's alone in New Orleans, no boyfriend, no son, and no friends. All she sees is an eternity spent working at menial jobs just to pay the bills, hunting where it's safe, and holding onto the her flagging human emotions.

Then Rue saves the life of a man in a dark alley. What she didn't realize was the man was Fae, and the attackers were demons. The grateful Fae wants to hire Rue to get back a treasure that was stolen from him, but he won't tell her what it is. Rue, who has never been in a fight in her life--before the alley scuffle--is thrust into a new, darker world where there are not only Fae but werewolves, demons, unidentified creatures, and even her old "buddy" Death.

Rue's not sure if she should take on the job, but well, it beats shift work.




I stirred from my thoughts and focused on the manager. His high color indicated he had called my name more than once, and I detected an elevated heartbeat. I didn’t center on it because the pulse from a human heart was like waving candy before a child. Best to focus on the manager’s expression of annoyance.


A few snickers rose from the crowd. Did I mention vampirism brings on sarcasm? Truly, it does. Scout’s honor.

The manager’s temperature crept higher. “I need to switch around your schedule for tomorrow through the rest of the week.”

I had no problem with this and was used to working the desk, acting as a bellman, and even washing dishes in the kitchen. I did it to get paid. The jobs were menial, and I had one requirement.

The manager flipped through the clipboard pages and scratched down some information. “Lloyd’s going on vacation, so you’ll fill in. He works from six a.m. until two p.m., so tomorrow—”


Heads swiveled in my direction. I froze, realized I stood too still, and shifted my weight to the other foot. The manager threatened to pop a capillary. I hoped he wouldn’t.

“Excuse me?”

I tried not to stare at the bulging vein in his forehead.

“You’ll work where I place you. Everyone here understands hours change. Sometimes you work early, sometimes afternoon or overnight. We don’t play favorites, and everyone pays their dues.”

I could talk to him later and change his mind. For some reason, my glamouring worked perfectly when convincing people to forget I drank their blood. Other times, not so much. Either I flubbed what I intended to say, or I tried too hard, and I’ll just say, I could use a little glamouring on myself to forget those incidents. If you’ll recall I have never killed a human. Let’s enjoy that stainless record and move on.

Someone elbowed me, and I glanced over to find it was Carl. His eyes were round, and the smile was absent from his face. “Say okay, or he’ll fire you,” he whispered. “He’s in a terrible mood.”

I turned to the manager. The room lay in silence as everyone listened to the argument play out. “I will work any position,” I said, my voice more deadpan than I had meant it to be. “I don’t work days. I’m a night owl, and it shouldn’t be a problem since most people like the day shift.”

“It is a problem!”

I knew this wasn’t going to end well for me, mainly because we were in a room full of his subordinates, and men tended to have that darn thing called an ego that they were bound and determined to protect. He stabbed the pen he held in my direction.

“You’re going to take over Lloyd’s hours permanently, or you’re fired.”

Work the day shift in a sunlit lobby, not to mention frequently running out to the driveway to assist guests? He must be joking.




About Audrey Claire:


Audrey Claire is the author of contemporary and urban fantasy mysteries. She is the mother of two grown sons and lives in the south of the United States. She enjoys traveling and reading. One day, she will be brave enough to live overseas and have lots of adventures. For now, everything is in her imagination, but that can be fun too!

Website | Newsletter | Google+

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Author Interview: Jarrett Rush

The Speculative Fiction Showcase interviews Jarrett Rush, author of the New Eden Series/Rexall Cycle and the Jackson Cane Adventures.

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?

Actually, I move quite a bit. My wife and I have a little girl who is almost 3. She is nothing but energy. Once I get home from work I’m either chasing her around the park across the street or giving her horsey rides around the living room or playing some other game she’s made up that evening. But it’s great. She’s amazing. I didn’t think being a dad would be this much fun, but it really is. It’s fascinating to watch her learn and discover and make connections. And it’s great that I appreciate that since we are about to start over. Baby two comes in June.

Apple or PC?

In a previous life I worked in newspapers. I wound up on the production side of the business and was tangentially connected to all of the artists and photographers. I got a real appreciation for Apple watching all of them work. But, for myself, I’m a PC guy. I do words. I have two requirements of my computer: Have a decent word processor (Or have one available) and don’t cost me a month’s mortgage when I buy you. For all of the great things about Apple, their computers are expensive.

Do you use Scrivener or Word?

Being a PC guy, I use Word. Like Apple, I know there are some great things about Scrivener. Really great. But I’m a creature of habit, and this creature has used Word for too long to change now.

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

We have a chocolate Labrador named Molly, and she’s the best. She’s still a big puppy. The people we’ve talked to say that we are coming up to the point when she’ll calm down. Honestly, I don’t know if I want her to calm down. Yes, she can get on my nerves, but I’ll miss her happy-go-lucky personality that she has right now. As far as influencing my writing, I’m sure she does. I never stopped to think about it, but I don’t see how she couldn’t.

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

Unfair question. I’d imagine everyone says “I’ll take both.” But if you make me pick then I’ll take small screen. I like that the story can be open-ended in television. Plus, the world my stories take place in is big enough that it’d be interesting to see where someone else takes things once they have moved past my original concepts.

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

I try not to get too attached to anything genre related on TV. Seems like when I do they all get cancelled.

Almost Human
Life on Mars

I know there are others, but my track record is pretty lousy. So now I wait for shows to get a season or two in before picking them up on Netflix or another similar service. I may try Agents of Shield soon. And Helix. And no one will kick me out if I admit to never having seen Firefly, right? I need to watch that one as well.

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

There are copies of this in my house. They belong to my wife. I bought them for her as a gift. We may have watched them once or twice. We do, however, stop and watch them when we come across them on TV. The Lord of the Rings trilogy and traditional fantasy in general is really my wife’s thing. I enjoy it, but not in the same way.

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

I have seen all three parts of The Hobbit, and I enjoyed them all. The second was my favorite. Of course, it was long, but all those movies are long. That one, though, felt like a complete tale. I don’t think I can say that about the others. That’s especially true about the third one. You had the satisfaction of wrapping up the story, but really the movie felt like set piece after set piece.

Your New Eden/Rexall Cycle series is dystopian science fiction. What is it that draws you to dystopian fiction?

For me it’s all about the setting. Even if the plot of the story is man against man, there’s an underlying man against nature that’s still there. The world these characters are living in is always changing in ways that, at the end of the day, could kill our antagonist. In my stories, these people are at the lowest point they can get. They are just struggling for survival. So there’s a challenge there as a writer to not bring a little hope to what may seem like a hopeless situation. I think I did that in the first two books of my New Eden series. At least, I hope I did.

You write both dystopian science fiction and urban fantasy, both subgenres that are currently experiencing something of a boom. So what is your favourite dystopian novel or respectively your favourite urban fantasy novel not written by yourself?

There are a series of YA books that I love: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. He’s a pre-teen criminal mastermind who goes up against fairy named Holly Short. I found them by chance on a staff recommendations shelf at a local bookstore. I read all of them quickly.

I think I love them because they are pure story. If it doesn’t move the plot forward it’s not there. No tangents of introspection. No heart-warming side stories. It’s just the main story. And they are fun stories.

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

I’m not a luddite, and I’m not an early adopter. Like a lot of folks, I’m probably somewhere on the spectrum in between. I will jump on a technology a few generations in so many of the bugs and problems can be worked out. I don’t want to pay to be a beta tester.

I will admit to probably adopting a lot of technologies later than I’d actually like to, but a lot of that has to do with price. I can have a hard time justifying expenses to myself, especially those that I see as going to a want rather than a need.

Now, if my books became crazy successful I’ll want to come back and change this answer. With a bit more disposable income I could see me becoming an early adopter.

Have you ever been to Starbucks or any other coffee shop?

It’s weird. I spent the first 15 years of my working life in newspapers, where they practically install a coffee-filled IV into your arm when you start. For some reason, though, I just never took to drinking it. Something about the taste that I don’t like. Well, didn’t like. I do drink coffee now, but it’s only occasionally. When I do, I like it to taste as much like hot chocolate as possible.

So, to answer the question, I have been to Starbucks. My wife has actually started buying me Starbucks gift cards so I can satisfy my coffee craving. I also volunteer at my church a few Sundays a month. We have a coffee shop there, and I’ll buy something most weeks.

Something to note, I’ve never written at a Starbucks or any other coffee shop. Closest I’ve ever come to that kind of public writing was at the library where I could take a bottle of soda to my desk with me. It was actually very productive.

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

I don’t do any of those things, but I do pray. Like I mentioned in the answer about coffee, I’m a churchgoer. My faith has helped get me through a couple of layoffs and the other challenges that life can throw at you, and it’s very important to me.

Do you consider yourself a slave to the muse?

We tend to want to romanticize the creative process. Like there is some sort of magic to it. In reality, it’s all about butt in chair. Writing, and I’d imagine almost any other artform is, gets easier the more you do it. And I’ve found that when something is easy, the muse tends to show up more frequently. But, to answer the question, no. I don’t consider myself a slave.

About Jarrett Rush:

Jarrett Rush lives outside of Dallas with his wife, Gina, their daughter, Ellie, and an  overly energetic chocolate Labrador, Molly. When not chasing the dog around the back yard, Jarrett likes to write stories about common people put in uncommon situations. He tends toward darker stories, so those uncommon situations usually involve guns and explosions. They may also include a science fiction element.

He started writing as a kid, but didn't pursue his dreams until he met Gina. She gave him the push that he needed to make those dreams a reality.

When he's not writing, Jarrett cheers on the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers and lives out his own baseball dreams by playing rec-league softball.

Website | Twitter

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Under the Stars of Faerie (Monkey Queen Book 3) by Robert Dahlen

Release date: February 24, 2015
Subgenre: Comic adventure fantasy

About Under the Stars of Faerie:

You were right about her. She is a hero.”
When a love-crazed gremlin kidnaps pixie waitress Mandy, Michiko Koyama, a.k.a. the Monkey Queen, and her partner in adventure Beth McGill journey to Faerie to rescue their friend. Circumstances force them to ally with the crew of a pirate airship, led by the mysterious Captain Ash. Dangers await them in the sky, on the ground and in their hearts.

And an old enemy waits for them, his trap set and ready to be sprung...and it could mean the end of the Monkey Queen.

Cover art © 2015 Willow, and used by permission. See more of her work at


The view deck was already crowded. Many of the passengers had gathered there, some at the railing to watch the departure, others settling onto benches. Crew members, mostly pixies and gremlins, hurried past in their ornate outfits. There was a crude but loud PA system, and the announcer, who switched off between routine reminders and history lessons, sounded almost as bored as the tour guide Beth had seen earlier.

Beth was definitely not bored. She and Michiko had staked out a spot right along the rail. The wind was already strong, and would get stronger as the airship took flight, so Michiko had removed the pillbox hat she had been wearing under her seeming and tucked it in her pocket before leaving the bedroom. Beth noticed that their seemings even mimicked how the "clothes" they wore blew about in the wind.

Then, the bored spiel of the PA announcer was interrupted by a loud whistle, which got almost everyone's attention and woke up a few of the elderly or overworked passengers. The voice that followed was clear and pleasant. "Good afternoon all," it said. "This is your captain speaking. We'd like to welcome all of you on board. Please prepare for departure."

Beth could feel a faint vibration that quickly grew. She glanced back at the walkway and saw crewmen untying the airship from the dock. Then, the propellers kicked in, pushing the airship up and away from the tower. Between the aerium in the frame and the hydrogen in the sealed balloon, the airship didn't take too long to get to top speed.

Beth could see the terminal, the other airships, the gloriously clear sky above, and Dawnhome below her, and she tried to take it all in, remember it all. She noticed the young pixie from the elevator was near her, sitting on her father's shoulders, beaming with joy. Then, she looked at Michiko, standing next to her, and saw that her friend's smile mirrored the young pixie's, and her own. "You were right!" Michiko said. "This is awesome!" Beth nodded, too happy and thrilled to speak, as Folly's Flight climbed, banked left and headed north.

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About Robert Dahlen:


Fantasy novelist, all-around wisecracker and penguin aficionado, Robert Dahlen lives in California with lots of penguins (no surprise), a tablet stuffed with e-books and works in progress, and a nice hat. He is hopefully working on more Monkey Queen stories as you read this. And FYI, his last name is pronounced "duh-LANE", as in "The rain in Spain falls mainly on Dahlen," which made Henry Higgins cry bitter tears...

Website | Facebook | tsu

Monday, February 23, 2015

Carus & Mitch by Tim Major

Carus & Mitch by Tim Major

Release date: February 23, 2015

Subgenre: Dystopian

About Carus & Mitch

Carus is only fifteen but since their mum disappeared, looking after her little sister Mitch is her job. There’s nobody else. Not in their house and not outside, either. There’s something out there, scratching and scraping at the windows.
The barricades will hold.
They have to.

Carus & Mitch is a novella with elements of post-apocalyptic fiction, psychological horror and urban fantasy. Fifteen-year-old Carus’s knowledge of the dangers of the outside world is limited, so readers will need to piece together the mystery from her fragmented memories.


I’m awake and upright and clutching the blankets. A name echoes from my dream.
Did I shout my sister’s name when I was asleep? I glance at her bed. The blankets are thrown back. It’s empty.
I stand up and pull my own blanket around me against the cold. Underneath, I’m still dressed from yesterday.
“Mitch!” My voice is cracked and dry.
I burst out of the bedroom and stumble down the stairs. The bare wood creaks and splinters snag against my socks. The blanket trails behind me like a cape.
It’s icily cold downstairs. The kitchen is empty and the dishes are laid out from yesterday, licked clean of crumbs.
“Mitch! This isn’t funny! Come here!” In a quieter voice I add, “Please.”
Sunlight glows through the streaks on the kitchen window. I remember my dream. Sunbeams dipping into water like loose coils of rope. The only noises I hear are the whistling of the wind and low murmurs from beyond the library.
It won’t do for Mitch to see me upset, when I find her. I’m her big sister, so it stands to reason that I have to be the brave one. I pat the plaits in my hair. Neat enough. I push at the heavy door to the dining room.
The usual hubbub greets me. The smell of droppings makes my stomach heave. The floor is a carpet of shifting grey and orange, lit only by the sunlight coming through the door. Chickens cover every surface and fill the upturned packing crates we use as nesting boxes. A few birds shuffle around my feet, making exploratory pecks at my toes through my thick socks. One of the cockerels watches from a vantage point on top of a crate.
A long trough filled with straw is set in the centre of the table. There’s a collection of freshly-laid eggs nestled in the straw. On each egg is a letter drawn with felt-tipped pen. They spell out the message, HAPPY 15 BIRD DAY CARUS.
I turn. Mitch stands partially hidden behind the door.
“It wasn’t me. It was the chickens,” she says, bouncing up and down. “Happy birthday, Carus! I mean bird day.”
I’d totally forgotten my birthday but Mitch is particular about keeping track of the date. I manage a grin and pull my little sister into an embrace. Often, lately, I’ve found myself surprised by her height. Surely she’s taller than most seven-year-olds? That is, if there were any others to compare her to. One of these days she will look just like me, a gawky, stringy teen. What will I look like, by then?
“Thanks, Mitch.”
The chickens bustle around her feet as she leans over the feeding trough to a crate tucked away at the back. It’s the only one we don’t remove eggs from for trading.
I try to peer into the crate too. “Anything?”
She turns with a disconsolate look on her face. “The mum chickens are just sitting there. I can’t even see the eggs.”
“Well, that means it’s all working just right.”
“They look sleepy. What if they’ve forgotten what to do?”
“Don’t worry. They never forget. Mums just look after their kids without even thinking about it. They couldn’t stop it if they tried.”
There’s an awkward silence and I can’t think how to fill it. Mitch pulls away from the incubation crate and hugs herself with both arms. I’ve seen her do that several times recently and I’m not sure I know what it means. I slip my own arms around her chest from behind and we stand like that for a bit, like interlocked statues surrounded by the chickens.
I speak quietly because my mouth is right by her ear. “It’s okay. It’s all going to be okay.”
She doesn’t say anything. Her breathing is like the swell of the wind.
I stop myself from saying anything about the marked eggs. The letters will have to be scrubbed off again before I can let them leave the house.

About Tim Major:

Tim Major lives in Oxford in the UK with his wife and son. His love of speculative fiction is the product of a childhood diet of classic Doctor Who episodes and an early encounter with Triffids. Tim’s short stories have featured in Interzone and the Infinite Science Fiction anthology, among others.

Contact Tim via Twitter @onasteamer, his Goodreads author profile or his blog, Cosy Catastrophes.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Family Business by Marina Finlayson

Release date: February 11, 2015
Subgenre: Funny fantasy

About The Family Business:

Renardo and his brothers are up to their eyeballs in debt, with one last chance to save their merchant business (and their gonads) from the moneylender. The great city of Tebos is holding its Festival of Song in three days’ time, and they have a wagonload of songbirds to sell.

There’s just one large, man-eating problem: the bored sphinx who guards the city’s gates, and her deadly riddle game. Renardo doesn’t even want to be a merchant, but somehow it falls to him to outwit the sphinx. No pressure. All he has to do is come up with an unanswerable riddle.

A short story (4,000 words) for lovers of humorous fantasy.


“I’m not asking riddles any more,” said the sphinx.

“Really?” The merchant raised his face from the dirt hopefully.

“Really.” The sphinx shifted her wings, which jiggled her bare breasts in a most interesting fashion. She saw the merchant’s gaze drift and frowned. “You shall ask them instead.”

The merchant’s eyes shot back to her face, alarmed. “Me?”

“All of you.” The sphinx’s nod took in the waiting caravans and the line of delegates behind her current victim, all toting their heavy riddle books under their arms. “Union regs only say I shall test each traveller and admit the worthy to the city. There’s no rule that says I have to ask the riddles. A person could get tired of creating riddles after a few centuries, you know.” She sniffed. “No one appreciates the work that goes into a good riddle.”

The merchant had too much on his mind to sympathise. Like just how big the sphinx was close up—bigger than a horse. Bigger than two horses, maybe. Not to mention the size of her teeth.

“Well?” said the sphinx, her snake-like tail twitching impatiently.

“Well what, your graciousness?”

“Are you going to ask me a riddle or shall I just eat you straight off?”

The merchant scrambled back in alarm. “Just a minute, your ladyship.”

He reached for his riddle book and she growled. “And that’s another thing. No more riddle books.”

“No more—?” The merchant cast an anguished glance at his well-thumbed copy of Riddle Me This. His father had presented it to him before his first journey to Tebos, and it had served him well ever since, though there had been that tense patch when the sphinx had decided that riddles were passé, and knock-knock jokes would introduce a little levity into the proceedings.

“Tick tick tick,” said the sphinx. “Time is money, you know.” She yawned, luscious, bee-stung lips pulling back to reveal wicked canines. Sweat sprang out on the merchant’s brow.

“Um …”

The sphinx flowed to her feet as the merchant hesitated. He scrambled backwards as she paced towards him, his eyes riveted on her face. “No, please. Just a minute, your magnificence. Mercy. Just—just—give me a second.”

His foot slipped and for a moment he windmilled on the edge of the precipice that looked down over Tebos. She waited, crouched down so they were nose to nose, till he stopped gasping.

“Lovely view,” he said with a sickly smile.

“The riddle, merchant.”

“What’s … what, um …” His brain had seized with terror. He rummaged desperately through the echoing spaces inside his skull for a riddle. Any riddle.


About Marina Finlayson:

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

Her other work includes the novel Twiceborn, an urban fantasy.