Monday, August 22, 2016

The Harvest Moon (Under the Moon, Book 2) by David Neth

Release date: August 6, 2016
Subgenre: Urban fantasy

About The Harvest Moon

A legacy of magic and danger.
All Danielle Bowen wants is a normal life: white picket fence, kids in the nursery, and peace and quiet with her husband Simon. But she can’t escape the fate her family has wrought for her. Born into a tradition of witchcraft, she has also inherited a deadly enemy: Toxanna, a dark witch who will stop at nothing to destroy the last of the Bowen line.

But will Danielle’s powers be enough to save her family—or even herself? And when Toxanna sets her sights on Holly, Danielle’s only daughter, will anyone have the strength to rescue the newly fledged witch? The darkness is closing around the last of the Bowens. In a world of wizards and powerful demons, how can one family of witches survive?


Excerpt:



“Husband?” Danielle choked. She couldn’t believe Toxanna would ever take a husband.
“I’ve just been telling him all about your family and what your grandmother did to me all those years ago, and I seem to have gotten him riled up.” She now had one hand leaning on the pallet just above Danielle’s shoulder, further pinning her in place. “And what a surprise that you’re here.” She tilted her head to the side. “Unfortunately for me, I have plans with Dragonox, and I can’t kill you myself.”
Danielle kept her eyes locked on Toxanna’s. She had no way to escape, and she had just blown their cover. She was kicking herself for being so stupid. Simon would be worried about where she was. Her walk home usually only took her ten minutes.
“I have some friends that can take care of you themselves.” She raised her free hand, and three puddles circled around her. From them, bodies emerged. They didn’t have faces or any other distinctive features. The puddles had simply come alive themselves, and each took on the form of a person.
“Enjoy!” Toxanna smiled and patted Danielle’s cheek before turning and walking off with Dragonox.
Danielle lunged from her spot and tried to take cover behind the pallets, but one of the water creatures slipped through the holes in the pallet and struck at her face. Clasping a hand over her mouth, she turned and ran around the back end of the warehouse.
She stopped short when an abandoned utility truck blocked her path. Before she had time to think of the best way around, the water creatures slammed into her back, pushing her against the truck and soaking her to the bone. She slid down the truck and onto the ground.
Squirming and kicking, she struggled to get away from their grasp, but there was nothing for her to grab on to. They were made of water, and every time she kicked or punched them, her hand simply went through them.

From the liquid you were born,
I turn you now to solid form.

The creatures lurched as their bodies turned gray. Danielle could no longer see through them, and she delivered a satisfying kick into the stomach of one.
A woman with dark hair came up from behind and swatted at another with a board from one of the pallets. She delivered a powerful kick into the third one’s side and reached her hand down to help Danielle up.
Once she was back on her feet, Danielle opened her palms toward the creature and fired her magic at them, turning them to ice. The woman took a swing at each of them with the plank, and they shattered to pieces on the ground.
Out of breath, Danielle turned to the woman. “Thank you! I was a little scared for a minute.”
The woman smiled. “My pleasure.”
Danielle extended her hand. “I’m Danielle Bowen. Who are you?”
“I’m Samantha Harper.”

Regular edition:

Amazon | Kobo | Apple iTunes

 

Deluxe edition (includes an exclusive short story):

Amazon | Kobo | Apple iTunes

 

About David Neth:

David Neth is the author of The Blood Moon, the first in the Under the Moon series. When he's not writing, he works at a local history magazine, despite his non-existent passion for history. He lives in Batavia, NY where he dreams of a successful publishing career and opening his own bookstore.

 

 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for August 19, 2016

Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with tributes to Kenny Baker, comments on Suicide Squad, speculation about Star Wars: Rogue One and Star Trek: Discovery and yet more debate about the Fireside Fiction report about the state of black SFF as well as the usual mix of writing advice, interviews, reviews, awards news, con reports, crowdfunding projects and free online fiction. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Tributes to Kenny Baker:

Comments on the Fireside Fiction report on the state of black speculative fiction:

Awards:

Writing, publishing and promotion: 

Interviews: 

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Wild Mage (Legacy of the Blade, Book 2) by Joseph J. Bailey

Release date: August 3, 2016
Subgenre: Epic fantasy, dark fantasy

About Wild Mage

 

Heaven has fallen.
The legions of Chaos have overrun the world.
Uërth is in ruins.
With the Heavenly Host's fall, Angel Swords rained from the heavens, littering the world in what was.
Only the most honorable and purest of heart are able to take up the Angel Swords and wield them against the throngs of Chaos. These mighty Empyrean Knights are all that stands between Uërth and annihilation.

Maeraeth is neither a hero nor a great warrior. Nor does he wish to become an Empyrean Knight.
He just wants to be left alone with his studies.
And not be killed by demons.
But, with the destruction of the Chaos Gate, Uërth may have a chance at redemption.
If the hordes of Chaos can be contained and if no more portals to the Abyss are created.

Maeraeth's teacher, Master Nomba, has other plans for him. Plans that involve both containing demons and preventing their arrival.
So much for his studies.
And not being killed by demons.

Wild Mage is a quirky, dystopian dark fantasy adventure with elements of sword and sorcery and humorous fun.

Excerpt

 

“Maeraeth!
“Run!”
A roiling cloud of Darkness erupted from the bare earth, a living rift into the bottomless Abyss, darker than the void between stars. The night sky above disappeared before the demon’s ebon sweep, a living sea of evil intent on engulfing our souls.
I felt the chill emptiness of the demon’s presence from afar, a cold so deep it brought my soul to a shuddering halt.
Master Nomba stood firmly before the Darkness, one small, brave old man reaching his arms out in a futile attempt to halt a raging flood with his bare hands.
Run!
Years of training kicked in, breaking the spell of my stupor: countless lessons spent at my master’s side, obeying his every command.
At least this I could do.
I ran.
I sprinted away from my master at full speed, muttering the very spell of warding against extradimensional invaders we had spent so long mastering even as I pumped my knobby arms and my long, bony legs loped down the rocky slope away from my teacher, the man who had given my life purpose.
My spell complete, magical energies gathered, wreathing me in the energies of Creation.
Finished with the incantation, I looked back over my shoulder toward Master Nomba, who was now bathed in incandescent azure flames, while a shower of ivory flower petals looped and whorled around me, a fluttering halo of sweet-scented aromatic bouquet.
Daisies?
White light flashed, so bright I think that I actually saw the explosion through the back of my skull. Then there was no seeing as I was catapulted through the air on a tumultuous wall of roaring sound.
At least a remnant of vision was restored when my head cracked against the earth some indeterminate distance away from my point of launch, and a universe of stars briefly occupied my vision.
When I finally woke up, surprisingly still alive, my protective halo of flowers was still hovering around me.

 

Amazon

 

About Joseph J. Bailey:

When not at play with his family, Joe enjoys reading, writing, and relaxation. When he can, Joe also practices various martial traditions in which he has attained the Victim level of proficiency.

 


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Of Bots and Beans by Colin Spindler

Release date: July 28, 2016
Subgenre: Humorous science fiction, short story

About Of Bots and Bones:  

 

Colin Spindler's CULT Group Coffee Sequence is a mystical space yarn for lovers of psychedelic science fiction.

CULT Group, a corporate entity shrouded in mystery and connected somehow to humans' colonization of Mars, is promising the impossible. It claims that the human mind can be separated from the body via a strange VR-like process called Sequencing. If CULT Group's claims check out, then human beings might just be able to cheat death.

Could disembodied immortality be at last within humanity's grasp? Or is CULT Group full of beans? The mysterious Participant sets out to investigate.

Of Bots and Beans
introduces readers to the reclusive actress Dame Saffron Von Scruplescotch, the fumbling Director Jerubimbo Gripebagger, the mysterious Participant, the eccentric ideas of Sir Francis Buildobare, and the ever-present metamorphic nanobiotech bots crawling all over everything.


Of Bots and Beans is a Kindle Unlimited short read SF fans won't want to miss.



Excerpt: 

 

In practice, Director Jerubimbo Gripebagger proved to be more like a nuisance than anything else. Whatever he was supposed to be doing, he was obviously screwing up.
"The directory of reasons for being Sequenced is getting longer and more cross-referenced by the day," said Director Jerubimbo Gripebagger, and then, "I won't presume to know why you've registered with us," saying, effectively, nothing.
"I've been sent to make sure you're keeping things on the up and up," the Participant might have said; or, "I have no ulterior motive. I'm simply a student of Enlightenment." Or else, said the Participant, "I want to go out of my body before I go out of my mind."
Or something else.
Something far-out, something wicked.
The Participant could very well have said all of these and more (or nothing at all), and the cumulative effect on the proceedings would've been nil. 
Participation was not yet required of the Participant.
The Voice continued, "Imagine yourself as a mind without a body, a consciousness without weight and without mass."
"Body-consciousness is a problem for everyone," said Director Jerubimbo Gripebagger.
The Voice went on, "We ask you to imagine yourself this way first, so that the Sequencer can take hold of your imagination, your evil-eyed secrets and precancerous passions..."
Muffled jangling. A low hum, gamma brightening, and then --
"The calibration is just about..." said Director Jerubimbo Gripebagger.
Director Gripebagger fidgeted with one last thing. "There! Should be good now. How do you feel?"
If the Participant had a reason for being here, for agreeing to try out this mishmash of tech-worship and temporary ego-death, it was gone, replaced with absolute calm, a sense of feeling without the imagery of the senses, being without a body, thinking without a brain.
"Excellent!" exclaimed Director Jerubimbo Gripebagger. "Move with the Sequence. Be moved by the Sequence."
Absolute calm cannot be integrated into the body's blood-reliant neural framework. Absolute calm is an inorganic condition, incompatible with being a thought-thinking, drink-drinking, walking, talking skin bag of blood, guts, bone and bile.
No calm to be had by anybody, comes the Participant's thought. Not like this.
Like the paradoxically calm feeling of hyper-focus that comes from having consumed too much coffee too quickly, absolute calm invites its own disruption.
"Your body is either a tomb or a womb. You must leave your body behind, while you still can. Your body's short-term purchase on your eternal mind is already slipping," said the Voice.
From beneath the calm surface, fear lurched on the psychosomatic scene.
To call the feeling simply "fear" would be incomplete, if not incorrect.
It's terror on a level beyond the body, divorced from the body's means of spatial ascertainment, a trembling before the divinity of death, akin to fearing without organs and the blood stream, without nerves and spinal fluid, without cortisol, without adrenaline.
Director Jerubimbo Gripebagger hummed an old tune and asked with delight, "You a ghost yet?"
"Molt and slither out of yesteryear's coil," said the Voice. "Wriggle out of your body before it's too late. Loose yourself of the bondage of the body's tyrannical demands. Participate in the world beyond. It's the most important thing you'll ever do." 

 Amazon

 

About Colin Spindler:


Aside from self-publishing coffee-flavored metaphysical space operas via Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and Amazon Kindle Singles, Colin writes articles about video games at smashthegamestate.com and gamemoir.com.

Colin lives in Durham, NC. 

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bite the Hand that Feeds (New Breed Vampires, Book 2) by Lucy Eldritch

Release date: August 15, 2016
Subgenre: Urban fantasy

About Bite the Hand that Feeds

 

The leader of the new breed, Robert James, is missing. The few remaining vampires are being picked off, one by one.

Vampiress Elaine Sullivan is keeping her head down, working as a barmaid and trying not to attract attention. Until, that is, she falls for a man who claims he can cure her vampirism. It's her only hope for survival and she grabs it. The trouble is: he lied.

'Bite The Hand That Feeds' is the follow-up to 'The Young Vampire's Survival Guide' and the second in the 'New Breed Vampires' book series. Written in British English, it can be read as a standalone novel. This new adult horror book contains bloody violence, swearing, lashings of vampires, paranormal strangeness, sex and other good times.

Excerpt:



"Laney?" Tyler shouted.
    I ignored him.
    He repeated himself, louder this time. "'Laine? That creepy guy is here, staring at you again."
    'My name is Elaine', I thought to myself. 'Not Laney. Not Ellie. Not 'Laine. It's Elaine, you sleazy twat.'
    I was proud of myself for not going over to the manager - all shiny, slicked back hair and even shinier teeth - and punching him through the wall dividing the bar from the staff area.
    Don't kill the management. After the incident at All Bar One, I even had it written on my hand for a time.
    "Thanks for the heads-up, Tyler," I said out loud.
    I was, and this is no joke, working as a waitress in a cocktail bar. I didn't have much choice. Career opportunities for vampires were quite limited.
    I busied myself washing glasses behind the bar for a minute or two. Then curiosity overcame me, and I couldn't help but take a quick glance at the table 'creepy guy' usually occupied. There he sat, making patterns with a gnarled finger in the condensation around his pint glass. Fosters. Always the same drink. One pint of Fosters, half an hour of staring at me without speaking then he'd sneak away when my back was turned. Definitely odd, certainly creepy. If I hadn't been a vampire, his behaviour might have scared me. As it was, it was just annoying. Today, though, I'd had enough.
    I knew I could cover the space between where I stood and his table far quicker than 'creepy guy' could react. Vampirism has its advantages. I would have done it, too, if the bar hadn't been filling up with the usual after-work crowd of media professionals, students, and locals wanting a cheeky drink before going home.
    Instead, cleaning cloth in hand, I worked my way around the tables. I mopped spilled wine from one; picked a couple of empty glasses from another; flirted with a regular or two. I kept moving, inching closer to 'creepy guy', his face hidden by the dirty grey hood he seemed never to remove. Every time I took a peek, he was still running his finger in criss-cross formation across his beer glass. A thousand yard stare told me he was in his own world. Good. He wouldn't even see me coming.
    Or so I thought.

                    *******


    "Hello, Elaine," he said. He hadn't even looked up from his drink.
    I pushed a strand of lustrous black hair off my face and peered down at the guy. For the first time since he'd been coming into Apotheca, the cocktail place where I worked, I caught a glimpse of his face. Putting the empty glasses down, I gripped the table hard, causing part of his pint to spill. I tried not to stare. I failed.
    Painful, un-healing sores and deep crevices covered every inch of what, on a normal man, would have been described as his skin. But he didn't have skin. Not really. Instead, it was like one of those 'Nightmare on Elm Street' Halloween masks. Most of the flesh was gone. What was left was cracked and raw.
    I composed myself.
    "Do I know you?" I said. I kept my voice casual sounding, but inside my heart beat in double time and the first beads of a nervous sweat formed under my hairline. Whatever this man was, he wasn't truly human. A vampire? I didn't think so. Like all of the new breed, I could smell vampires.
    "Yes, Elaine, you know me."
    His voice was parched and unrecognisable, like someone who had spent years chain smoking without stopping. He could have been twenty years old; he could have been two hundred. I couldn't tell.
    "Sit." He indicated a spare chair with the same knotted finger he used on his glass.
    I sat, arranging myself so that Tyler, the tiresome little jobsworth, didn't notice I wasn't, technically, working.
    "Well?" I asked, "Who are you?" I leaned across the table to get as close as I could stand. I revealed my fangs, just for a brief moment. I figured it might intimidate him. It didn't.
    My reward was a croaked laugh and an almost imperceptible shake of the head.
    "Who I am doesn't matter, Elaine." The man paused and met my gaze. Something about his eyes was familiar to me. They shone with a life that belied the rest of his appearance.
    "What matters," he continued, "is what is coming next."

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple iTunes


About Lucy Eldritch:

 

I'm Lucy. I write paranormal horror urban fantasy vampire fiction set mainly in Manchester (the one in the UK, not the one in New Hampshire) and London. I also love red wine, but I suspect that's not really something I should mention. Not professional. Something like that. So, consider it un-mentioned.

Website | Twitter  

Monday, August 15, 2016

the real pleasure in life, an interactive digital novel by Al Dixon

Subgenre: Interactive digital fiction, mystery
Release date: July 21, 2016

About the real pleasure in life



"I started imaginary books as a way of exploring the creative potential of digital storytelling. The Real Pleasure in Life, our first title, is a formal revolution: it rejects standardized language, animates the text, and blurs the line between text and image in order to tell a story that couldn't be told any other way. The technique was developed especially for this novel. The novel is a mystery, and the formal innovations are part of the mystery."


Imaginary Books Releases World’s First Digital Novel Written in Interactive, Animated Text for Free Online
“Dynamic typography” ebook offers mysterious misadventure into Athens, Georgia   

The creative innovators at imaginary books are about to unveil the world’s first digital novel written in “dynamic typography,” or animated text, in which the text moves and transforms on screen to correspond with the plot. Releasing the novel online and via a custom app for free in June 2016, the real pleasure in life is a funny, moving, and possibly magical story of a guy trying to navigate his life when it takes a turn for the strange, aided in that quest by a group of larger-than-life eccentrics in America's most legendary college town, Athens, Georgia.

The next read for music fans of Neutral Milk Hotel and REM, as well as literary lovers of Eli Horowitz’s interactive digital novels The New World, The Silent History, and The Pickle Index, the real pleasure in life packs the literary punch of a classic novel but is more fun than a conventional, static e-book. The book takes advantage of the possibilities of digital storytelling, asthe movement of every word reveals an intriguing clue, plot twist, or compelling insight.

At just over 100 pages (with episodic chapters that take about ten minutes each to read), the real pleasure in life was written with HTML and Javascript, and will be available for free on RealPleasureinLife.com, iBook, Amazon, and Kobo. The novel’s intentional misspellings and textual animation are intrinsic to the plot, along with images that interplay with the text to make a one-of-a-kind reading experience.

the real pleasure in life: After receiving a mysterious communication from a long-extinct coffee shop in Athens, Georgia, Al Dixon leaves his  pregnant wife in Texas to investigate the surreal summons. Drawn into the heart of the musical incubator town that birthed REM and Neutral Milk Hotel, the mystery becomes even more bizarre. Why, at ten o’clock in the morning, are bars the only thing open? Why are all the street signs misspelled? Why does everyone assume he’s moving there? Why can’t he get in touch with his wife? On top of everything, when he finally finds the impossible coffee shop, the enigmatic man behind the counter greets him with an accusation: “You’re late.”

After an unforgettable night spent in the company of larger-than-life eccentrics and new friends, Al comes to a shocking realization that will change his life forever. By turns philosophical and slapstick, wry yet heartfelt, the real pleasure in life offers a funny, moving confrontation with eternal truths that can only be revealed through a raucous night in America’s most legendary college town.

Get your free copy here.

 

About Al Dixon:

imaginary books are a team of literary engineers on a mission to redefine the way books are read and experienced. Al Dixon is an English professor at the University of Georgia, Athens, and is a self-taught programmer and textual animator.

Website | Facebook 

 

 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for August 12, 2016

Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with yet more debate about Suicide Squad as well as the usual mix of writing advice, interviews, reviews, awards news, con reports, crowdfunding projects and free online fiction. 

Speculative fiction in general:

Awards:

Comments on Suicide Squad

Writing, publishing and promotion:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Odds and ends: