Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Tag: Peter Grant

If only Mondays could be delayed

There will be a blog later today. I have some errands to run this morning and I need to get some writing done. In the meantime, there are two blog posts, both by fellow MGCers Dave Freer and Dorothy Grant, I’d like to point everyone to.

The first is Dave’s post today. I warn you ahead of time. I am not liable for ruined keyboards or homework or monitors or anything else. This is Dave in full Dr. Monkey mode and I love it. Here’s a small taste:

To save the Puppy Kickers over at file 770 effort and time I would like to accept responsibility on behalf of the Sad Puppies (for whom I neither speak, nor represent, but these details have always been mere trivia to the Puppy Kickers) for Brexit. I figure as it is all going to be our fault anyway, regardless, I may as well accept responsibility now and save us all from the smell of burning of brain-sawdust that they’d have to fill the air with, coming up with convoluted bizarre theories as to why this particular thing is also our fault. You know, we white Mormon men (especially female ones and those who would have to pour on whitewash by the bucket every morning, let alone those poor blokes trying to fake special underwear) plan on world domination, or just untrammeled eeeeevil, and the entire grab-bag of …isms.

For the record we also caused Global Warming, Global Weirding, Oceans rising, Rains of Frogs, Reigns of Frogs, Mondays (my personal contribution), bad hair days and of course George Bush. So everything they used to blame on him is really our fault. And as that took inventing time travel, we’re also responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs (we introduced them to the AR15 and techno music and tobacco, oversized sodas, and those that didn’t die from smoking went mad and shot each other, baring those who exploded because there were no regulations to stop them drinking too much soda – except for the ancestors of the chicken who were too chicken) and everything else, including the heat death of the universe. That happened because I personally forgot to turn the lights off, when the dolphins finally left.

Dorothy has done what I haven’t taken time to yet. She parsed some of the data from the dataguy and Author Earnings and posted it for us. There is a great deal of information and she breaks it down into easily digestible pieces. Check it out.

In the meantime, check out Dave’s latest book.

TOM

Tom is a cat in trouble. The worst possible kind of trouble: he’s been turned into a human. Transformed by an irascible old magician in need of a famulus — a servant and an assistant, Tom is as good at being a servant as a cat ever is. The assistant part is more to Tom’s taste: he rather fancies impressing the girl cats and terrorizing the other toms by transforming himself into a tiger. But the world of magic, a vanished and cursed princess, and a haunted skull, and a demon in the chamber-pot, to say nothing of conspiring wizards and the wickedest witch in the west, all seem to be out to kill Tom. He is a cat coming to terms with being a boy, dealing with all this. He has a raven and a cheese as… sort of allies.

And of course there is the princess.

If you were looking for ‘War and Peace’ this is the wrong book for you. It’s a light-hearted and gently satirical fantasy, full of terrible puns and… cats.

From Peter Grant, Dorothy’s husband:

Brings the Lightning (The Ames Archives Book 1)

When the Civil War ends, where can a former Confederate soldier go to escape the long memories of neighbors who supported the winning side? Where can Johnny Reb go when he can’t go home?

He can go out West, where the land is hard, where there is danger on every side, and where no one cares for whom you fought – only how well you can do it.

Walt Ames, a former cavalryman with the First Virginia, is headed West with little more than a rifle, a revolver, and a pocket full of looted Yankee gold. But in his way stand bushwhackers, bluecoats, con men, and the ever-restless Indians. And perhaps most dangerous of all, even more dangerous than the cruel and unforgiving land, is the temptation of the woman whose face he can’t forget.

When you can’t go home again – go West!

And I haven’t pushed this book recently:

Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1)

War is coming. The peace and security of the Ardean Imperium is threatened from within and without. The members of the Order of Arelion are sworn to protect the Imperium and enforce the Codes. But the enemy operates in the shadows, corrupting where it can and killing when that fails.

Fallon Mevarel, knight of the Order of Arelion, carried information vital to prevent civil war from breaking out. Cait was nothing, or so she had been told. She was property, to be used and abused until her owner tired of her. What neither Cait nor Fallon knew was that the gods had plans for her, plans that required Fallon to delay his mission.

Plans within plans, plots put in motion long ago, all converge on Cait. She may be destined for greatness, but only if she can stay alive long enough.

Indie Author Beginning of Summer Sale

Need something new to read for the long weekend? Looking for a new series to start or want to discover a new author? Check out the following e-books. Of course, the standard disclaimer applies. Always check the price before clicking the purchase button. Some of these books are already on sale and others will go on sale over the next 24 hours. (Updated to include two new titles.)

 

***

Stardogs

By Dave Freer

On sale for $2.99

The Interstellar Empire of Man was built on the enslavement of the gentle Stardogs, companions and Theta-space transporters of the vanished Denaari Dominion. But the Stardogs that humans found can’t go home to breed, and are slowly dying out.

As the ruthless Empire collapses from its rotten core outward, an Imperial barge is trapped on top of a dying Stardog when an attempted hijacking and assassination go horribly wrong. Trying to save its human cargo, the Stardog flees to the last place anyone expected – the long-lost Denaari motherworld.

Crawling from the crash are the Leaguesmen who control the Stardogs’ pilots by fear and force, and plan to assassinate Princess Shari, the criminal Yak gang, who want to kill everyone and take control of a rare Stardog for their own, and an entourage riddled with plots, poisons, and treason. But Shari and her assassin-bodyguard have plans of their own…

***

Sword And Blood (Vampire Musketeer Book 1)

By Sarah Hoyt

The France of the Musketeers has changed. Decades ago, someone opened a tomb in Eastern Europe, and from that tomb crawled an ancient horror, who in turn woke others of its kind.
Now Paris is beset by vampires, the countryside barren and abandoned. The Cardinal has become a vampire, the church is banned, the king too cowed to fight.
Until now, the three Musketeers, Athos, Porthos and Aramis have stood as a bulwark against the encroaching evil, their swords defending the innocent and helpless.
But last night, in a blood mass, Athos was turned into a Vampire. And a young vampire orphan has just arrived from Gascony: Monsieur D’Artagnan.
Things are about to get… complicated.

 

Death of a Musketeer (Musketeers Mysteries Book 1)

by Sarah Hoyt

When D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis discover the corpse of a beautiful woman who looks like the Queen of France, they vow to see that justice is done. They do not know that their investigation will widen from murder to intrigue to conspiracy, bring them the renewed enmity of Cardinal Richelieu and shake their fate in humanity. Through duels and doubts, they pursue the truth, even when their search brings them to the sphere of King Louis XIII himself and makes them confront secrets best forgotten.

 

Ill Met By Moonlight (Magical Shakespeare Book 1)

by Sarah Hoyt

Young Will Shakespeare is a humble school master who arrives home to find his wife and infant daughter, Susannah are missing, kidnapped by the fairies of Arden Woods, the children of Titania and Oberon. His attempts at rescue are interrupted and complicated by a feud over throne of fairyland, between Sylvanus, king regnant, and his younger brother Quicksilver who is both more and less than he seems. Amid treachery, murder, duel and seduction, Shakespeare discovers the enchantment of fairyland, which will always remain with him, for good and ill.

Witchfinder (Magical Empires Book 1)

by Sarah Hoyt

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.

Wings

by Sarah Hoyt

From Elizabethan England to the Far Future, discover who really was Shakespeare and why Marlowe was called The Muses Darling. Discover the horrifying secret that Leonardo DaVinci found beneath a cave in his home village. In the far future, find a new way to keep Traveling, Traveling. Use cold sleep to find your love again, and join the (high tech) Magical Legion.
Seventeen short stories from Prometheus Award Winning Author, Sarah A. Hoyt. This edition features an Introduction by Dave Freer and a Bonus Short Story “With Unconfined Wings.”

 

***

Burnout: the mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281

By Stephanie Osborn

On sale for 99 cents.

Burnout is a science fiction mystery about a Space Shuttle disaster that turns out to be no accident. As the true scope of the disaster is gradually uncovered by the principal investigators, “Crash” Murphy and Dr. Mike Anders, they find themselves running for their lives, as lovers, friends and coworkers involved in the investigation perish around them. What happened to the Shuttle? Who is responsible and why? Why is the government calling it an accident? Why is someone willing to kill to keep it a secret? And how big is the conspiracy?

 

The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival

By Stephanie Osborn

Displaced Detective is a science fiction mystery in which brilliant hyperspatial physicist, Dr. Skye Chadwick, discovers there are alternate realities, often populated by those we consider only literary characters. Her pet research, Project: Tesseract, hidden deep under Schriever AFB, finds Continuum 114, where Sherlock Holmes was to have died along with Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. Knee-jerking, Skye rescues Holmes, who inadvertently flies through the wormhole to our universe, while his enemy plunges to his death. Unable to go back without causing devastating continuum collapse, Holmes must stay in our world and adapt.

Meanwhile, the Schriever AFB Dept of Security discovers a spy ring working to dig out the details of – and possibly sabotage – Project: Tesseract.

Can Chadwick help Holmes come up to speed in modern investigative techniques in time to stop the spies? Will Holmes be able to thrive in our modern world? Is Chadwick now Holmes’ new “Watson” – or more?

And what happens next?

***

Tales from the Uplands

By Alma Boykin

Free!

Uncanny things haunt the high country, where mountains bring justice and men tell mysterious tales. A place where churches seek the lost and deadly forces lurk below the peaks.

Contains eight short stories drawn from locations and legends of Central Europe, including the Drachenberg version of a famous folk-tale, and an excerpt from the next Cat Among Dragons novel.

 

Four Dragon Tales

By Alma Boykin

New Release!

If dragons walked the earth . . .

From a missing hiker (with really bad taste) in the Appalachians to WYRD and Drako’s Dark Roast all-night show, to a water-expert with a talon-t for trouble, and a search for justice, this quartet of stories explore life in a world where dragons and humans live side-by-side.

Short story set, 15,000 words.

Mischief, murder, mayhem, and music to rock the night away!

***

The Scent of Metal (Argonauts of Space Book 1)

By Sabrina Chase

On Sale for $1.99

The expedition ship Kepler races to Pluto, intent on uncovering the secrets of the alien structure recently discovered under the ice. Computer scientist Lea Santorin can’t wait to figure out the alien technology. Instead, she wakes it up … and it continues its long-interrupted journey across the galaxy, taking Lea and Kepler with it.

 

Jinxers

By Sabrina Chase

On Sale for $0.99

Young Jin survives on his own in the streets of Thama, using his wits and climbing skills to find food and shelter. On a bitterly cold night, desperate to avoid freezing, he enters the burned wreckage of a long-abandoned warehouse searching for anything of value. Searching despite the danger—for the warehouse once belonged to jinxers, and no one knows how their magic works…or how long it remains. Jin discovers a beautiful crystal sphere in the ashes—and suddenly finds himself transported to the desert world of Darha.

His foreign appearance immediately brands him an outsider, and he must rely on his Darha friends to conceal him from the mysterious rulers of the local fort. But Jin must face the fort’s dangers—for inside may lie the key to his return to Thama…and the key to his own hidden magic powers.

***

Hunted (Hunter’s Moon Book 1)

By Ellie Ferguson

Free!

When Meg Finley’s parents died, the authorities classified it as a double suicide. Alone, hurting and suddenly the object of the clan’s alpha’s desire, her life was a nightmare. He didn’t care that she was grieving any more than he cared that she was only fifteen. So she’d run and she’d been running ever since. But now, years later, her luck’s run out. The alpha’s trackers have found her and they’re under orders to bring her back, no matter what. Without warning, Meg finds herself in a game of cat and mouse with the trackers in a downtown Dallas parking garage. She’s learned a lot over the years but, without help, it might not be enough to escape a fate she knows will be worse than death. What she didn’t expect was that help would come from the local clan leader. But would he turn out to be her savior or something else, something much more dangerous?

***

Take The Star Road (The Maxwell Saga Book 1)

By Peter Grant

On Sale from May 28-30

Nineteen-year-old Steve Maxwell just wants to get his feet on the star road to find a better homeworld. By facing down Lotus Tong thugs, he earns an opportunity to become a spacer apprentice on a merchant spaceship, leaving the corruption and crime of Earth behind. Sure, he needs to prove himself to an older, tight-knit crew, but how bad can it be if he keeps his head down and the decks clean?

He never counted on the interstellar trade routes having their own problems, from local wars to plagues of pirates – and the jade in his luggage is hotter than a neutron star. Steve’s left a world of troubles behind, only to find a galaxy of them ahead…

***

Nocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives Book 1)

By Amanda S. Green

Free!

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

***

Ninth Euclid’s Prince

By Daniel M. Hoyt

Welcome to New Rome!

The far-flung heirs of the empire have been called home to the capital of worlds. In these mean streets, no wife is above suspicion, and no man above assassination. With the Emperor poisoned and prince Oswald in jail, Ninth Euclid, a mathematically gifted secretary from a rural backwater, must solve the knottiest problem of all: How will he keep his liege lord safe from daggers in the back and politically scheming trollops in the night?

***

Cat’s Paw (King of Cats Book 1)

By Robert A. Hoyt

Many humans know there is a mountain at the end of the universe to which a bird flies every thousand years to sharpen its beak, until the end of the mountain comes, and thus the end of eternity. What few of them know is that of the mountain only a few small grains of sand remain. And the bird that is to end eternity is alive and ready to fly. At half past noon at the end of the universe, the last great hopes of everything that exists, ever existed or has yet to exist, rests with a stray cat with alcohol issues, a Siamese cat with gender issues, and a Persian cat with pregnancy issues. Things are just about to get fun.

 

Ratskiller (King of Cats)

By Robert A. Hoyt

… Long before the bird reared its ugly beak, there was beer. And lots of it.

In the humble world of alley cats, Tom has everything he needs: interesting enemies, a long list of girl cats who’d like to scratch his eyes out, and enough beer to make sure his repressed memories and his mysterious destiny stay repressed.

Until Wild Rat microbrewery shuts down.

To restore his favorite beer to its former glory, Tom will have to fight prissy bureaucrats, streetwise alley cats, and Broxton’s most barbaric rats. And behind it all, an evil so great that even Broxton’s most hardened rodents dare not squeak of it.

***

ConVent (The Vampire Con Series Book 1)

By Kate Paulk

A vampire, a werewolf, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. Whoever picked this team to save the world wasn’t thinking of sending the very best. But then, since this particular threat to the universe and everything good is being staged in science fiction conventions, amid people in costume, misfits and creative geniuses, any conventional hero would have stood out. Now Jim, the vampire, and his unlikely sidekicks have to beat the clock to find out who’s sacrificing con goers before all hell breaks loose — literally.

ConVent is proof that Kate Paulk’s brain works in wonderfully mysterious ways. A sarcastic vampire, his werewolf best buddy, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. The “Save the world” department really messed it up this time.

***

Pixie Noir (Pixie for Hire Book 1)

By Cedar Sanderson

$0.99 from May 27-30

You can’t keep a tough Pixie down…

Lom is a bounty hunter, paid to bring magical creatures of all descriptions back Underhill, to prevent war with humans should they discover the strangers amongst them. Bella is about to find out she’s a real life fairy princess, but all she wants to do is live peacefully in Alaska, where the biggest problems are hungry grizzly bears. He has to bring her in. It’s nothing personal, it’s his job…

 

Memories of the Abyss

By Cedar Sanderson

Free from May 27-30

Violet is trapped in the prison of her own mind. Her body is dwelling in the insane asylum, but when her friend Walter is killed, she must make a decision to avenge his death, or stay safely locked in her own broken soul. He’d drawn her out of her shell, and she finds she still has honor left… But will anyone believe the crazy woman?

***

While not on sale this weekend, I do want to remind everyone that Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) is now available.

 Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3)

By Sam Schall

War isn’t civilized and never will be, not when there are those willing to do whatever is necessary to win. That is a lesson Col. Ashlyn Shaw learned the hard way. Now she and those under her command fight an enemy determined to destroy their home world. Worse, an enemy lurks in the shadows, manipulating friend and foe alike.

Can Ashlyn hold true to herself and the values of her beloved Corps in the face of betrayal and loss? Will honor rise from the ashes of false promises and broken faith? Ashlyn and the Devil Dogs are determined to see that it does, no matter what the cost.

Vacation’s over

The vacation is over and it is time to get back to work. The list of things to do is long and getting longer. But, after almost two weeks away from the desk — for the most part — and time spent with my son, I feel recharged and ready to get back into the swing of things.

One of the best things about taking the time off was it kept me from digging too deep into the latest BS swirling around the Hugos. Yes, I broke my silence one to comment on Tor artistic editor (director?) Irene Gallo’s comments calling Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, among other things, “extreme right wing to neo-nazi” and “unrepentantly racist, misogynist and homophobic.” Now I come back to find that there are those who feel the protests being sent to Tor and higher up the corporate chain all come from one or two people — all at the behest of Vox Day — who have hacked and botted and who knows what else.

All I am going to say on the matter is if you sent an email to Tor et al, follow it up with a letter. If you haven’t yet contacted them and feel you need to, then do so. You can find the pertinent addresses over at Cedar Writes. You will also find some very good guidelines about how to keep your letter business-like so it won’t be dismissed out of hand.

For another take on what has been happening and how it is impacting authors who are not part of Sad Puppies, much less Rabid Puppies, check Peter Grant’s blog. In particular, I recommend these two posts to see not only why he is taking the stance he is but the sort of unbelievable attacks being thrown at him because he dares to take a stand.

Do empty vessels make the most sound?

An appeal for help to all my readers.

Then there is the mischaracterization being tossed around by some that SP3 stands for no message in our fiction. That is, as I said, a mischaracterization. What we want is for story to be the driving force. Yes, you can have a message but don’t hit the reader over the head with it because, whether you want to admit it or not, it will turn most folks off it they think they are being lectured to.

Now, here is the important part. If you are eligible to vote for the Hugos, do so. Read the nominees and vote on them based on their merit — not on who backed them. It is that simple.

A few thoughts and some more recommended reading

The past week has been memorable and not necessarily in a good way. Accusations have been tossed around that the Hugo nominations were gamed, that the people behind Sad Puppies 3 are interested in only having white males of the misogynistic bent nominated and, therefore, winning. Media outlets have run with stories that fit square into the definition of libel, taking at face value the accusations without doing even the most minimum of fact checking. Some of those who claim to be against block voting are encouraging others to do just that — block vote No Award to block those evil Sad Puppy 3 nominees.

That is, perhaps, the saddest part of this whole thing to me. Here are authors and editors — and some fans but most of the calls I’ve seen have come from those directly involved in the publishing industry — to vote No Award without even reading the nominees. They have shown they are willing to condemn people and their work simply because they don’t like the way the nominees got on the ballot. To them, it is better to nave no awards handed out this year than it is to read those books and stories that have been nominated and possibly have to admit that there are some pretty damned good works on the ballot.

It has gotten so bad that there are folks out there blocking and/or unfriending people on Twitter and Facebook and other avenues of social media simply because they were on the Sad Puppy list — or because they have spoken out in favor of it. They aren’t even willing to have a discussion about the ballot and what Sad Puppies really means. After all, it is so much easier to just go with the shouts of racist and misogynistic and evil.

Some claim they will “consider” works on the SP3 list if those authors renounce Sad Puppies and distance themselves from Vox Day. That is a head-scratcher because Vox isn’t on the SP3 list. He wasn’t involved, to the best of my knowledge, in drawing up the list. But we are supposed to disavow him — wouldn’t that be a sort of negative way of saying he was involved? — in order to get the outraged gatekeepers of yore to consider our work.

Sorry, but the Hugo Award is not the diversity award. It isn’t the literary award. It isn’t the award for the most politically correct science fiction and fantasy (even though it might look that way if you study the last few years’ nominees). It is for the BEST science fiction and fantasy for the year. As I noted the other day, it is up to each of us to determine what “best” means. But to determine if a work is or is not better than another, you have to read it.

And that is all any of us is asking — read the nominees and then decide what is best. If, after having read them all, you feel, in good conscience, that there is nothing nominated worthy of winning the Hugo, then vote No Award. But do not act all righteous and go into this vote with a decision already made when you haven’t read any of the nominees.

Read the nominated works.

Let me repeat that again, READ THE NOMINATED WORKS.

Starting some time next week, I will be reviewing the entries in the novel and novella categories. I will try to get to the other literary categories as time permits. Oh, and before anyone asks, I did read everything I nominated and I did not follow a “slate”. Yes, I voted for some of the recommendations from the SP3 list. But if I felt there was something better, that is what I nominated. That is what everyone I’ve spoken to did. We nominated works we felt best deserved the Hugo.

Now, I’ve said more on the subject than I meant. Now here are some indie books I highly recommend — and, yes, I have read them all.

Pixie Noir (Pixie for Hire Book 1)
Cedar Sanderson

You can’t keep a tough Pixie down…

Lom is a bounty hunter, paid to bring magical creatures of all descriptions back Underhill, to prevent war with humans should they discover the strangers amongst them. Bella is about to find out she’s a real life fairy princess, but all she wants to do is live peacefully in Alaska, where the biggest problems are hungry grizzly bears. He has to bring her in. It’s nothing personal, it’s his job…

“They had almost had me, that once. I’d been young and foolish, trying to do something heroic, of course. I wouldn’t do that again anytime soon. Now, I work for duty, but nothing more than is necessary to fulfill the family debt. I get paid, which makes me a bounty hunter, but she’s about to teach me about honor. Like all lessons, this one was going to hurt. Fortunately, I have a good gun to fill my hand, and if I have to go, she has been good to look at.”

Take The Star Road (The Maxwell Saga) (Volume 1)
Peter Grant

Nineteen-year-old Steve Maxwell just wants to get his feet on the star road to find a better homeworld. By facing down Lotus Tong thugs, he earns an opportunity to become an apprentice on a merchant spaceship, leaving the corruption and crime of Earth behind. Sure, he needs to prove himself to an older, tight-knit crew, but how bad can it be if he keeps his head down and the decks clean?

He never counted on the interstellar trade routes having their own problems, from local wars to plagues of pirates – and the jade in his luggage is hotter than a neutron star. Steve’s left a world of troubles behind, only to find a galaxy of them ahead…

April (April series Book 1)
Mackey Chandler

April is an exceptional young lady and something of a snoop. After a chance encounter with a spy, she finds herself involved with political intrigues that stretch her abilities. There is a terrible danger she, and her friends and family, will lose the only home she has ever known, and be forced to live on the slum ball Earth below. It’s more than an almost fourteen year old should have to deal with. Fortunately she has a lot of smart friends and allies. It’s a good things because things get very rough and dicey. They challenge the political status quo, and with a small population the only advantage they have in war is a thin technological edge.

The Empire’s Corps
Christopher Nuttal

You Should Never Speak Truth To Power…

The Galactic Empire is dying and chaos and anarchy are breaking out everywhere. After a disastrous mission against terrorists on Earth itself, Captain Edward Stalker of the Terran Marine Corps makes the mistake of speaking truth to power, telling one of the most powerful men in the Empire a few home truths. As a result, Captain Stalker and his men are unceremoniously exiled to Avalon, a world right on the Rim of the Empire. It should have been an easy posting…

Well, apart from the bandits infesting the countryside, an insurgency that threatens to topple the Empire’s loose control over Avalon, and a corrupt civil government more interested in what it can extort from the population than fighting a war. The Marines rapidly find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of political and economic chaos, fighting to preserve Avalon before the competing factions tear the world apart. They’re Marines; if anyone can do it, they can.

The battle to save the Empire starts here.

Monday morning dawns

First of all, thank you to everyone who has e-mailed, PM’d called and texted to congratulate me on being nominated for a Hugo. I really appreciate it. It is a huge honor (despite what some are saying) to be included this year, especially when two of my fellow nominees for best fan writer (Dave Freer and Cedar Sanderson) are people I not only co-blog with at Mad Genius Club but who I consider friends and family. And that is all I’m going to say about the Hugos today. That’s not because there is nothing more to say — there is, a great deal. It is because I want to give myself a little more time to think about a measured response in face of all vitriolic attacks coming from certain people who have their noses out of joint over how the nominations turned out this year. But, as I said, there will be more on that later this week. I want the post to be based in fact and not on emotion, which it would be right now because those same people are attacking folks I respect.

So, what to write about today? Good question. One I’m still trying to figure out.  😉

Fortunately, FB, in the form of Uncle Timmy (Tim Bogeo, a man I greatly respect for all he has done to help promote sf/f and whom I was thrilled to see had garnered a Hugo Nomination for best fanzine). He posted about something he had read that bothered him. It seems, there was someone out there complaining about how much Military SF there is and how he didn’t feel it was a “valid SF area”.

As a fan of such authors like David Weber and Dave Drake, not to mention Heinlein, E.E. Smith and others, I had to go back and read that comment twice. I have a feeling I probably had the same look on my face as I did that Uncle Timmy had. Then the author in me reacted a bit more strongly. After all, under the pen name of Sam Schall, I write Military SF. Still, maybe the outrage I felt was a knee jerk reaction. So let’s think about it for a moment.

Nope. Not knee-jerk.

So, what is Military Science Fiction?

According to Wikipedia (I know, I know. I’m not usually one to like linking to it as an authoritative source but it is one of several sources I’m using right now), Mil-SF is “a subgenre of science fiction featuring the use of science fiction technology, mainlyweapons, for military purposes and principal characters that are members of a military organization involved in military activity; occurring sometimes in outer space or on a different planet or planets.”

According to io9, Military Science Fiction “is a term that applies to anything science fiction that depicts some element of the armed forces.” The article goes on to say, “[t]he stories military science fiction tends to tell are generally not about warfare: they’re about the people caught up in the flow of wartime events, and the impact of warfare on society.”

Mike Resnick, (another Hugo nominee, this time for best editor/short form, and someone else I respect a great deal) has written a wonderful article entitled Military Science Fiction: A Brief History. According to him, as well as to other sources, Mil-SF can be traced back to 1859. Then there was H. G. Wells (I think we’ve all heard/read/watched War of the Worlds). Mil-SF began hitting its stride in the 1930’s and 1940’s with people like E. E. “Doc” Smith and his Lensman series. I’ll let you read Mike’s article. There is a lot of very interesting information there.

So, to the question of whether or not Military SF is a valid for of SF.

I’m sorry, I have a hard time even taking the suggestion that it isn’t seriously. Part of me wonders if those who feel it isn’t are the same ones who subscribe to the belief that violence never solves anything and the only way to deal with bullies is to punish both the bully and the bullies (how else do you explain Zero Tolerance?). Or maybe they are the ones who feel that SF should now only be message fiction and push the message of inclusivity (as long as you are promoting the “right” form of inclusivity).

For what it’s worth, Military SF is a major sub genre of science fiction. As much as we might like to believe we would send exploratory missions deep into space, even colonization ships, we have to face reality. We don’t know what we will find out there. Security for the mission and for the mission personnel must be maintained. Even if we don’t find ET or BEM out there, there is the human factor to take into account.

For me, good Military SF is about the characters, why they do — or don’t do — something. Yes, the military is part of it, but the story is about the characters. Some Mil-SF is very definitely anti-war/aggression/whatever you want to say. The best Mil-SF isn’t necessarily pushing any sort of political agenda. Still, it manages to show that there are good and bad men and women in the military and even the best people can sometimes make bone-headed decisions. How they live with what happens next is what makes the story.

Would science fiction be better off without the likes of Heinlein, Pournelle or Doc Smith? Would it be selling as many books now — or sending as many imaginations flying — without the likes of Bujold, Weber and Drake? I think not. Newer faces on the landscape, such as Brad Torgersen, continue the growth of Military SF with entertaining stories with their own personal twist. Science fiction is better, and stronger, as a result.

The fact that indie authors like Chris Nuttal and Peter Grant (and yours truly to a lesser extent) sell as many books as we do shows that there is a market for Mil-SF. Our readers are those who enjoy a good story and who realize that the military is just one aspect of the story and not the end all, be all. As for me, I will always prefer having books that show honor and courage are good things and that sacrifice is sometimes necessary for the greater good.

But that’s just me, a reader and a writer who is also proud of the fact I come from a family with a long history of military service. Oo-rah!

For some examples of quality (imo) Mil-SF, check out these books:

chaplains warThe Chaplain’s War
Brad Torgersen

The mantis cyborgs: insect-like, cruel, and determined to wipe humanity from the face of the galaxy.

The Fleet is our last chance: a multi-world, multi-national task force assembled to hold the line against the aliens’ overwhelming technology and firepower. Enter Harrison Barlow, who like so many young men of wars past, simply wants to serve his people and partake of the grand adventure of military life. Only, Harrison is not a hot pilot, nor a crack shot with a rifle. What good is a Chaplain’s Assistant in the interstellar battles which will decide the fate of all?

More than he thinks. Because while the mantis insectoids are determined to eliminate the human threat to mantis supremacy, they remember the errors of their past. Is there the slightest chance that humans might have value? Especially since humans seem to have the one thing the mantes explicitly do not: an innate ability to believe in what cannot be proven nor seen God. Captured and stranded behind enemy lines, Barlow must come to grips with the fact that he is not only bargaining for his own life, but the lives of everyone he knows and loves. And so he embarks upon an improbable gambit, determined to alter the course of the entire war.

empire corpsThe Empire’s Corps
Christopher Nuttall

You Should Never Speak Truth To Power…

The Galactic Empire is dying and chaos and anarchy are breaking out everywhere. After a disastrous mission against terrorists on Earth itself, Captain Edward Stalker of the Terran Marine Corps makes the mistake of speaking truth to power, telling one of the most powerful men in the Empire a few home truths. As a result, Captain Stalker and his men are unceremoniously exiled to Avalon, a world right on the Rim of the Empire. It should have been an easy posting…

Well, apart from the bandits infesting the countryside, an insurgency that threatens to topple the Empire’s loose control over Avalon, and a corrupt civil government more interested in what it can extort from the population than fighting a war. The Marines rapidly find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of political and economic chaos, fighting to preserve Avalon before the competing factions tear the world apart. They’re Marines; if anyone can do it, they can.

The battle to save the Empire starts here.

star roadTake The Star Road (The Maxwell Saga Book 1)
Peter Grant

Nineteen-year-old Steve Maxwell just wants to get his feet on the star road to find a better homeworld. By facing down Lotus Tong thugs, he earns an opportunity to become a spacer apprentice on a merchant spaceship, leaving the corruption and crime of Earth behind. Sure, he needs to prove himself to an older, tight-knit crew, but how bad can it be if he keeps his head down and the decks clean?

He never counted on the interstellar trade routes having their own problems, from local wars to plagues of pirates – and the jade in his luggage is hotter than a neutron star. Steve’s left a world of troubles behind, only to find a galaxy of them ahead…

And. . . by yours truly

coverforvfaVengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 1)
Sam Schall

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.

For other quality Mil-SF, check out Baen Books and the Baen Free Library.

And the barriers come tumbling down

Finally, after weeks of fighting this novel for various reasons — and I won’t go back into them. You guys know what’s been going on — it looks like the barrier is finally down. Or maybe I have just finally given up trying to make the book obey and let me write it the way I want to. Whatever the reason, I’m not going to complain, at least not too much. I’m just glad to be writing again.

What I had forgotten during this time of drought is that I’m not the only writer to experience this sort of thing. Intellectually, I knew it. But that didn’t help all the much as I was pounding my head against the keyboard, trying to get something to come out that made sense. But that realization was brought home this morning when I read Peter Grant’s post over at Mad Genius Club. It seems Peter had been facing much the same thing, and for even longer, than I have. I’ll even admit that, in a perverse sort of way, it was good to see that I wasn’t the only one going through the drought. That said, I am even more glad he has pushed through it and is writing the next book in his Maxwell Saga.

(If you love science fiction, I highly recommend the Maxwell Saga. Take The Star Road (The Maxwell Saga Book 1) is the first volume. If you haven’t read it, why not? Go get it now. You won’t be disappointed.)

But his post also got me thinking. He talked about how he has learned that sometimes you have to alter how you do things. Sometimes you have to be careful not to plot yourself into a corner. You have to give yourself the flexibility to let your characters do what needs to be done without you putting what turns out to be artificial barriers in their way.

In a way, that is what I had done, not exactly with this book but with the way I ended Nocturnal Interlude. For the first time, I ended a novel on a cliffhanger. That meant I was very limited in how I could start Nocturnal Challenge. I hadn’t thought about that when I finished Interlude. Nor did I argue with my characters when they stomped their feet and said that was where the book needed to stop. (No, I’m not insane. I’m a writer. My characters talk to me and often disobey me.)

So, when I found myself having problems getting started with Challenge, I fell back onto an old habit. I tried to outline, as in doing a very detailed outline, of what needed to happen in the book. I already had the basic outline in my head. But, frustrated because the opening just wasn’t happening, I decided a general outline wasn’t enough.

And I wrote myself into a corner. Again and again and again.

And it didn’t work.

What did, finally, was to stop fighting the book and do what came naturally. Of course, this being me, it wasn’t writing the book in a linear fashion. As I noted the other day, the last section of the book wanted to be written. So I did. That was enough, it seems, to break open the dam. Now that the ending is finished, I’ve been able to go back and start on the beginning. It is still rough — hey, it’s called rough draft for a reason — but it is something.

So, here is the opening scene from Nocturnal Challenge. (Note, it is a rough draft and it will have errors and it will probably change by the time it goes through all the edits and is finally published.)

***

Perfectly manicured fingernails tapped an impatient rhythm against the steering wheel. Blood red polish caught the sun and an almost feral snarl escaped her lips. The primitive part of her nature she usually kept under such tight control fought for release. The hunt called to her and longed to spill the blood of those who disrespected her. But that was blood she couldn’t shed, not yet at any rate. Gone were the days when she would have been free to hunt in the shadows, stalking her victim without fear of detection. Technology was now the enemy. Too many cameras and too many cellphones meant too great a chance of discovery and capture. That, at least, was one thing her prey had been right about.

Prey. How wonderful that word sounded. Too much time had passed since she had been on a real hunt. Taking down the occasional deer or rabbit didn’t count. They simply did not present the challenge a human did, especially not someone like Mackenzie Santos.

Santos! Damn the woman.

Mackenzie Santos had been a thorn in her side from the moment she first heard the name. Not that she should have expected any different. She had grown up watching her father, and her grandfather before him, do battle against Santos’ grandparents. If it hadn’t been for them, their kind would not be living in the shadows, fearful not only of discovery by the normals but of war with the lycans as well. No, they would have assumed their rightful place as the predominant species and ruled as they were meant to do.

Instead, her grandfather and father – and now she herself – had to work slowly and cautiously, doing whatever was necessary to remove any obstacles to their ultimate goal. The fact that made her life easier was an added benefit. Unfortunately, Santos and her warnings about how dangerous their current path was had started others of their kind thinking. Worse, they were asking questions. If she wasn’t careful, Santos would stir up enough trouble to derail all her careful plans – or worse.

Cassandra Wilkinson fought the urge to yell in anger. Her cheetah was already too close to the surface, pushing at the frayed edges of her self-control. The last thing she needed was to shift. Not only would it ruin the rental car she currently sat in but it would lead to questions best left unasked. Worse, it would prove the validity of all Santos has said. Still, if she managed to shift without being discovered, it would solve one of her biggest problems.

A predatory smile touched her lips at the thought of her cheetah catching Santos unaware and dealing with her in the most permanent of fashions. Unfortunately, the likelihood of that happening was about as slim as that of her getting out of the car, stripping and walking down the street to the Justice Center clad in only her designer boots. From what she knew of Santos, the woman rarely, if ever, let her guard down. Now that she had come into her own as a shapeshifter, it was even less likely someone would be able to sneak up on her. Then there was the ugly truth that Santos’s jaguar was bigger and stronger than her cheetah. Her cat was built for speed and distance. Santos’ jaguar was built for strength. That meant the only thing Cassandra would have going for her in a fight between the two of them was experience and she was not about to risk her life and all she and her family had worked so hard for on just that.

So a fair fight was out and that suited her perfectly. She never had liked going into a situation without stacking the deck in her own favor first. Normally, that wasn’t a problem. Fate, however, had dealt her a potentially losing hand and it had already cost her too much.

Damn Santos and damn that fool Yazhari even more. If he hadn’t let his ego get in the way of everything, she wouldn’t be sitting in a rental car less than a block from Dallas’ Justice Center. For years, the man had been her right hand and enforcer. She had come to count on him to clean up any little problem that might present itself. But not this time. This time he had failed her on so many levels that she still found it hard to believe. Not only had he chosen the wrong people to carry out his orders, he had then failed to deal with them quickly enough and permanently enough to prevent their activities from being discovered.

That carelessness had brought their activities not only to the attention of Santos but to the local pride leader as well. Cassandra didn’t know which was worse. Michael King always said the right thing whenever they spoke and always presented a respectful and obedient face in their dealings. Not that it fooled her. She had long suspected that he no longer fully supported the Conclave. That belief had only deepened once Santos joined the pride. Not only had King quickly named the woman as his third, his enforcer, but he had joined her in arguing before the Conclave that it was time for their kind to be more careful to avoid discovery. Together they talked about scientific advances that made it more likely than ever that their existence would be discovered. Cassandra knew they wanted to find a way for their kind to go public without causing a panic but she was not ready for that. Not yet, at least, and not until she was confident in her absolute power over pures and lycans alike.

So she had sent Yazhari to Dallas to deal with his people and take whatever steps were necessary to prevent the local shapeshifters from realizing her connection to what had been happening. She had spent too much time, effort and money in carefully planned attacks across the country, all aimed at solidifying her hold not only on the Conclave but over all their people. This was not the time for anything to go wrong, much less to point back at her. So, trusting Yazhari to deal with it as he had dealt with so many other problems for her, she had left it in his hands.

And now she had an even bigger problem on her hands than before.

For whatever reason — whether it was ego or something else, she didn’t know and she didn’t care — he had tried to kill Santos. If he had been successful, Cassandra would not have minded. At least not as long as he had done nothing to implicate her in the process. But he had failed and, worse in many ways, he had managed to get himself killed in the process. Now it was up to her to deal with the fallout and to find a way to make sure Santos and King, as well as their supporters, did not look too closely in her direction as she did.

She just hoped it wasn’t already too late.

She leaned forward and focused on the front entrance of the Justice Center as the doors opened once again. Satisfaction coursed through her as she caught sight of her prey. Mackenzie Santos stepped into the late morning sun. She moved a few steps away from the doorway and paused, looking around. As she did, two others, a man and a woman, joined her. For a moment, Cassandra studied them before turning her attention back to Santos. The two didn’t matter. Not when it looked like Yazhari might not have completely failed her after all. Santos’s right arm was secured in an immobilizer, strapped to her side and across her abdomen. Even from a distance, Cassandra noted her limp and the swelling and bruising to her face. Injured as she was, the battlefield now favored Cassandra. Good. Very good.

Without a second thought, Cassandra stepped out of the car. A moment later, she moved quickly down the sidewalk toward the three. Senses alive and alert, she fought back her smile. The closer she got to her target, the more convinced she became that her plan would work. So far, neither Santos nor the coyote shifter with her gave any indication they sensed her approach. Luck might finally be in her favor.

Unfortunately, it didn’t hold. She knew the moment Santos realized she was there. The younger woman stopped and pivoted in her direction. At the same time, her left hand went to the small of her back where Cassandra assumed she had a weapon. A split second later, Santos’ companions reacted. The man, the coyote shifter, turned, his right hand disappeared under his suit jacket. The woman, a normal, stepped forward, placing herself between her and Santos. Interesting. Could the woman know who, perhaps even what, Cassandra was? That was something she would have to think about later. First things first.

“Hello, Mackenzie. I think it’s time we talk,” Cassandra said, her voice silky smooth but the weight of command obvious.

***

In case you haven’t picked up the three previous books in the series, or the novella, here they are.


nocturnaloriginscoveralternatenewNocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives Book 1)

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

nocturnal SerenadealternatenewNocturnal Serenade (Nocturnal Lives Book 2)

Lt. Mackenzie Santos of the Dallas Police Department learns there are worst things than finding out you come from a long line of shapeshifters. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself. It’s not that she resents suddenly discovering she can turn into a jaguar. Nor is it really the fact that no one warned her what might happen to her one day. Although, come to think of it, her mother does have a lot of explaining to do when – and if – Mac ever talks to her again. No, the real problem is how to keep the existence of shapeshifters hidden from the normals, especially when just one piece of forensic evidence in the hands of the wrong technician could lead to their discovery.

Add in blackmail, a long overdue talk with her grandmother about their heritage and an attack on her mother and Mac’s life is about to get a lot more complicated. What she wouldn’t give for a run-of-the-mill murder to investigate. THAT would be a nice change of pace.

nocturnal interludenewNocturnal Interlude (Nocturnal Lives Book 3)

Lt. Mackenzie Santos swears she will never take another vacation again as long as she lives. The moment she returns home, two federal agents are there to take her into custody. Then she finds out her partner, Sgt. Patricia Collins, as well as several others are missing. Several of the missing have connections to law enforcement. All are connected to Mac through one important and very secret fact — they are all shapechangers. Has someone finally discovered that the myths and bad Hollywood movies are actually based on fact or is there something else, something more insidious at work?

Mac finds herself in a race against time not only to save her partner and the others but to discover who was behind their disappearances. As she does, she finds herself dealing with Internal Affairs, dirty cops, the Feds and a possible conspiracy within the shapeshifter community that could not only bring their existence to light but cause a civil war between shifters.

515VFhr3iVL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Nocturnal Haunts (Nocturnal Lives)
(novella)
Lt. Mackenzie Santos has seen just about everything in more than ten years as a cop. The last few months have certainly shown her more than she’d ever expected. She’s learned that real monsters don’t always hide under the bed or in the closet. They walk the streets and can exist in the best of faimlies.

When she’s called out to a crime scene and has to face the possibility that there are even more monsters walking the Earth than she knew, she finds herself longing for the days before she started turning furry with the full moon.

Promotions

Promoting our work is the bane of many writers. We’d much rather be sitting at our desk — or in a coffee shop or the library or wherever — than trying to promote our work. Because of that, those of us who are part of the Mad Genius Club blog, are trying harder to do promo posts. That’s what we’re doing over there this morning and I’m carrying that over to here this morning. But don’t worry, I’ll be back later today with a “real” post. It’s just that I’m trying to push out some edits this morning and my mind is in that mode. If I take time to write a detailed post, I’ll get out of the edit mode and I can’t afford that right now. Anyway, here are my novels and a few others by friends I think you ought to take a look at.

nocturnaloriginscoveralternatenewNocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives) (Volume 1)
Amanda S. Green

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

nocturnal SerenadealternatenewNocturnal Serenade (Nocturnal Lives) (Volume 2)
Amanda S. Green

Lt. Mackenzie Santos of the Dallas Police Department learns there are worst things than finding out you come from a long line of shapeshifters. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself. It’s not that she resents suddenly discovering she can turn into a jaguar. Nor is it really the fact that no one warned her what might happen to her one day. Although, come to think of it, her mother does have a lot of explaining to do when – and if – Mac ever talks to her again. No, the real problem is how to keep the existence of shapeshifters hidden from the normals, especially when just one piece of forensic evidence in the hands of the wrong technician could lead to their discovery.

Add in blackmail, a long overdue talk with her grandmother about their heritage and an attack on her mother and Mac’s life is about to get a lot more complicated. What she wouldn’t give for a run-of-the-mill murder to investigate. THAT would be a nice change of pace.

nocturnal interludenewNocturnal Interlude (Nocturnal Lives 3)
Amanda S. Green
(This title will soon be available again.)

Lt. Mackenzie Santos swears she will never take another vacation again as long as she lives. The moment she returns home, two federal agents are there to take her into custody. Then she finds out her partner, Sgt. Patricia Collins, as well as several others are missing. Several of the missing have connections to law enforcement. All are connected to Mac through one important and very secret fact — they are all shapechangers. Has someone finally discovered that the myths and bad Hollywood movies are actually based on fact or is there something else, something more insidious at work?

Mac finds herself in a race against time not only to save her partner and the others but to discover who was behind their disappearances. As she does, she finds herself dealing with Internal Affairs, dirty cops, the Feds and a possible conspiracy within the shapeshifter community that could not only bring their existence to light but cause a civil war between shifters.

HuntedHunted (Hunter’s Moon Book 1)
written under pen name Ellie Ferguson

When Meg Finley’s parents died, the authorities classified it as a double suicide. Alone, hurting and suddenly the object of the clan’s alpha’s desire, her life was a nightmare. He didn’t care that she was grieving any more than he cared that she was only fifteen. So she’d run and she’d been running ever since. But now, years later, her luck’s run out. The alpha’s trackers have found her and they’re under orders to bring her back, no matter what.

Without warning, Meg finds herself in a game of cat and mouse with the trackers in a downtown Dallas parking garage. She’s learned a lot over the years but, without help, it might not be enough to escape a fate she knows will be worse than death. What she didn’t expect was that help would come from the local clan leader. But would he turn out to be her savior or something else, something much more dangerous.

 

 

Hunter's DutyHunter’s Duty (Hunter’s Moon Book 2)

written under the pen name Ellie Ferguson

Maggie Thrasher is looking for a man, not to love but to kill. Duty to her pride and loyalty to her family demands it.

Joshua Volk has betrayed pride, pack and clan. All he cares about is destroying the old ways and killing anyone, normal or shape-changer, who gets in his way.

Jim Kincade is dedicated to two things: upholding the law and protecting the pride from discovery.

When Jim is called to the scene of a possible murder, the last thing he expects is to discover the alleged killer is a tracker from another pride. Now he’s faced with a woman who is most definitely more than she appears. Complicating matters even more, there’s something about her that calls to him and his leopard is determined to claim her for his own.

Joshua Volk is looking for revenge. Maggie killed one of his own. His vengeance will bring Maggie’s worst nightmares to life. Is the passion between Maggie and Jim enough to defeat Volk’s plans or will Maggie’s determination to fulfill her duty to her pride be the death of them both?

Hunter's HomeHunter’s Home (Hunter’s Moon Book 3)
written under the pen name Ellie Ferguson

They say you can never go home. That’s something CJ Reamer has long believed. So, when her father suddenly appears on her doorstep, demanding she return home to Montana to “do her duty”, she has other plans. Montana hasn’t been home for a long time, almost as long as Benjamin Franklin Reamer quit being her father. Dallas is now her home and it’s where her heart is. The only problem is her father doesn’t like taking “no” for an answer.

When her lover and mate is shot and she learns those responsible come from her birth pride and clan, CJ has no choice but to return to the home she left so long ago. At least she won’t be going alone. Clan alphas Matt and Finn Kincade aren’t about to take any risks where their friend is concerned. Nor is her mate, Rafe Walkinghorse, going to let her go without him.

Going home means digging up painful memories and family secrets. But will it also mean death – or worse – for CJ and her friends?

 

coverWedding Bell Blues
written under the pen name Ellie Ferguson

Weddings always bring out the worst in people. Or at least that’s the way it seems to Jessica Jones as her younger sister’s wedding day approaches. It’s bad enough Jessie has to wear a bridesmaid dress that looks like it was designed by a color blind Harlequin. Then there’s the best man who is all hands and no manners. Now add in a murder and Jessie’s former lover — former because she caught him doing the horizontal tango on their kitchen table with her also-former best friend. It really is almost more than a girl should be expected to handle. . . .

coverforvfaVengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty)
written under the pen name of Sam Schall

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.

stardogsStardogs
Dave Freer

Revolution rises!

The Interstellar Empire of Man was built on the enslavement of the gentle Stardogs, companions and Theta-space transporters of the vanished Denaari Dominion. But the Stardogs that humans found can’t go home to breed, and are slowly dying out.

As the ruthless Empire collapses from its rotten core outward, an Imperial barge is trapped on top of a dying Stardog when an attempted hijacking and assassination go horribly wrong. Trying to save its human cargo, the Stardog flees to the last place anyone expected – the long-lost Denaari motherworld.

Crawling from the crash are the Leaguesmen who control the Stardogs’ pilots by fear and force, and plan to assassinate Princess Shari, the criminal Yak gang, who want to kill everyone and take control of a rare Stardog for their own, and an entourage riddled with plots, poisons, and treason. But Shari and her assassin-bodyguard have plans of their own…

Stranded on the Denaari Motherworld, the castaway survivors will have to cooperate to survive. Some will have to die.

And some, if they make it to the Stardogs breeding ground, will have to learn what it means to love.

 

 

witchfindercoverfinalWitchfinder (Magical Empires)
Sarah A. Hoyt

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trickster ebook cover

Trickster Noir (Pixie for Hire)
Cedar Sanderson

After the battle of Tower Baelfire ended, Lom lay dying. Bella was tasked with not only the job she never wanted, but the one she did. Could she keep Lom alive long enough for him to come to the rescue when their kingdom needed them? And what did Raven, mysterious trickster spirit and honorary uncle to Bella, want with them? If the threat was big enough to have the trickster worried, Bella knew she needed to have Lom at her side. Underhill might look like a soap-bubble kingdom, but Bella and Lom knew there was a gritty underside. Why else would fairyland need a dark man willing to carry a big gun and be the Pixie for Hire?

 

 

 

 

 

 

convent

ConVent (The Vampire Con Series)
Kate Paulk

A vampire, a werewolf, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. Whoever picked this team to save the world wasn’t thinking of sending the very best. But then, since this particular threat to the universe and everything good is being staged in science fiction conventions, amid people in costume, misfits and creative geniuses, any convetional hero would have stood out. Now Jim, the vampire, and his unlikely sidekicks have to beat the clock to find out who’s sacrificing con goers before all hell breaks loose — literally.

ConVent is proof that Kate Paulk’s brain works in wonderfully mysterious ways. A sarcastic vampire, his werewolf best buddy, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. The “Save the world” department really messed it up this time.

 

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00006]War To The Knife (Laredo War Trilogy Book 1)
Peter Grant

Laredo’s defenders were ground down and its people ruthlessly slaughtered when the Bactrians invaded the planet. Overwhelmed, its Army switched to guerrilla warfare and went underground. For three years they’ve fought like demons to resist the occupiers. They’ve bled the enemy, but at fearful cost. The survivors are running out of weapons, supplies, and places to hide.

Then a young officer, Dave Carson, uncovers news that may change everything. An opportunity is coming to smash the foe harder than they’ve ever done before, both on and off the planet. Success may bring the interplanetary community to their aid – but it’ll take everything they’ve got. Win or lose, many of them will die. Failure will mean that Bactria will at last rule unopposed.

That risk won’t stop them. When you’re fighting a war to the knife, in the end you bet on the blade.

 

 

 

 

 

murder world kaijuMurder World: Kaiju Dawn
Jason Cordova

Captain Vincente Huerta and the crew of the Fancy have been hired to retrieve a valuable item from a downed research vessel at the edge of the enemy’s space.

It was going to be an easy payday.

But what Captain Huerta and the men, women and alien under his command didn’t know was that they were being sent to the most dangerous planet in the galaxy.

Something large, ancient and most assuredly evil resides on the planet of Gorgon IV. Something so terrifying that man could barely fathom it with his puny mind. Captain Huerta must use every trick in the book, and possibly write an entirely new one, if he wants to escape Murder World.

 

 

baptism by fireBaptism By Fire (Edge of Faith)
Dave Pascoe

When a madman and a giant flaming thing attack James Lawrie’s Marine outpost, the medic and an explosively talented sergeant aren’t supposed to save the day. Life becomes no simpler when Petty Officer Lawrie returns home on leave to find federal agents investigating the disappearance of a young woman from his past. A young woman whose body turns up marked with eerily familiar symbols.

fancy freeFancy Free
Pam Uphoff

In the last parts of the Twenty-first century, AI, Artificial Intelligence is commonplace. Highly able computers, and nothing more . . . until some rare and as yet unidentified trigger creates an actual personality.

Artificial Personalities, APs or hals, are illegal. Destroyed upon discovery. Even Beowulf, the AP the government controls, and uses to hunt down emerging hals, isn’t legally recognized, has no right to existence.
So you’d think that when the Special Grid Security Unit started paying extra attention to the area where a certain cooking show operates, Fancy Farmer—the AP who runs the show—would be concerned.

But Fancy has a bigger problem.

She’s been stolen.

 


needyouNeed You Now
Taylor M. Lunsford

The last time Caine Maddox saw Melody Carr he broke her heart. Or she broke his. He was never quite sure. Now she’s moved back to Unknown, Texas and he’s sure of one thing – he’s not going to lose her again.

Mel returned home with a plan to put down roots as the town’s doctor and maybe start a family. The plan definitely doesn’t involve revisiting her past relationship with Caine, the town’s sexy mayor—and her childhood crush. Everything about him stirs up the passion she forced herself to forget but her heart’s been broken too many times to risk history repeating.

Caine’s got his work cut out for him trying to win Mel’s trust back. The town doesn’t want her there and the local gossip blog can’t stay the hell out of his personal life for even a day. When the animosity brewing in town turns to vandalism, Caine makes sure Mel knows he’s not going anywhere. Keeping Mel’s stubborn-as-hell self safe from whoever’s targeting her may be the only way to convince Mel he’s playing for keeps. Getting Mel to trust him again is going to be the hardest fight of Caine’s life, but he’s determined to prove the to her that she needs him by her side.

Some reading recommendations

I’ve been remiss on blogging lately and I apologize. I’m going to try to get back into the swing of regular posts next week. To kick things off, here are some books I highly recommend as well as a few of my own which, of course, I think are pretty good too.  😉

First up is Murder World: Kaiju Dawn by Jason Cordova and Eric S. Brown.Captain Vincente Huerta and the crew of the Fancy have been hired to retrieve a valuable item from a downed research vessel at the edge of the enemy’s space. It was going to be an easy payday. 

But what Captain Huerta and the men, women and alien under his command didn’t know was that they were being sent to the most dangerous planet in the galaxy. Something large, ancient and most assuredly evil resides on the planet of Gorgon IV. Something so terrifying that man could barely fathom it with his puny mind. Captain Huerta must use every trick in the book, and possibly write an entirely new one, if he wants to escape Murder World. 

This is the second Kaiju book by Cordova and Brown that I’ve read. The first was Kaiju Apocalypse. Apocalypse was good. Murder World is great. The characters were folks I’d like to go to a bar, buy drinks for and spend the evening listening to their stories. They are the type of folks I’d trust at my back and want at my side in a fight.

There was a realism to the story that struck home. How many of us have agreed to do something, usually against our better judgment, only to find out when it’s too late that some pertinent information has been withheld? That is exactly the situation Huerta and his crew find themselves in. Add in a kick-ass second in command, a rather pissed off (and rightfully so) ex-wife, mercenaries and Kaijus, and you have a very fun read. I highly recommend Murder World.

Next up is War to the Knife by Peter Grant. This is the first book in a new series by Grant but, from what I can tell, this series very well may tie in with his Maxwell Series, something else I highly recommend.

Laredo’s defenders were ground down and its people ruthlessly slaughtered when the Bactrians invaded the planet. Overwhelmed, its Army switched to guerrilla warfare and went underground. For three years they’ve fought like demons to resist the occupiers. They’ve bled the enemy, but at fearful cost. The survivors are running out of weapons, supplies, and places to hide. 

Then a young officer, Dave Carson, uncovers news that may change everything. An opportunity is coming to smash the foe harder than they’ve ever done before, both on and off the planet. Success may bring the interplanetary community to their aid – but it’ll take everything they’ve got. Win or lose, many of them will die. Failure will mean that Bactria will at last rule unopposed. 

That risk won’t stop them. When you’re fighting a war to the knife, in the end you bet on the blade.

I have yet to read anything by Grant that I haven’t enjoyed. This book, in a lot of ways, reminded me of reading Louis L’Amour. This is a good thing. There is a gritty realism to Grant’s characters and settings that L’Amour was the master of. L’Amour was also the consummate storyteller, something else Grant is proving himself to be.

This book celebrates the human spirit. So, cutting to the chase, if you enjoy stories of determination and individual action, of fighting for what you believe is right, this is the book for you.

Other books I’ve talked about before but still highly recommend:

Stardogs by Dave Freer
Revolution rises! 

The Interstellar Empire of Man was built on the enslavement of the gentle Stardogs, companions and Theta-space transporters of the vanished Denaari Dominion. But the Stardogs that humans found can’t go home to breed, and are slowly dying out. 

As the ruthless Empire collapses from its rotten core outward, an Imperial barge is trapped on top of a dying Stardog when an attempted hijacking and assassination go horribly wrong. Trying to save its human cargo, the Stardog flees to the last place anyone expected – the long-lost Denaari motherworld. 

Crawling from the crash are the Leaguesmen who control the Stardogs’ pilots by fear and force, and plan to assassinate Princess Shari, the criminal Yak gang, who want to kill everyone and take control of a rare Stardog for their own, and an entourage riddled with plots, poisons, and treason. But Shari and her assassin-bodyguard have plans of their own… 

Stranded on the Denaari Motherworld, the castaway survivors will have to cooperate to survive. Some will have to die. 

And some, if they make it to the Stardogs breeding ground, will have to learn what it means to love. 

Pixie Noir by Cedar Sanderson
You can’t keep a tough Pixie down…

Lom is a bounty hunter, paid to bring magical creatures of all descriptions back Underhill, to prevent war with humans should they discover the strangers amongst them. Bella is about to find out she’s a real life fairy princess, but all she wants to do is live peacefully in Alaska, where the biggest problems are hungry grizzly bears. He has to bring her in. It’s nothing personal, it’s his job… 

“They had almost had me, that once. I’d been young and foolish, trying to do something heroic, of course. I wouldn’t do that again anytime soon. Now, I work for duty, but nothing more than is necessary to fulfill the family debt. I get paid, which makes me a bounty hunter, but she’s about to teach me about honor. Like all lessons, this one was going to hurt. Fortunately, I have a good gun to fill my hand, and if I have to go, she has been good to look at.” 

While you’re looking at the books above, I’d appreciate it if you took a moment and considered buying my books as well.




 

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