Tag Archives: scifi

Author Showcase – Tracy A. Ball (Dragonfly Dreams)

Print Length: 107 pages

Everything changed with one jump.

Shattered, Leaf fled to the last place she wanted to be- Onyx Narpole’s world…Onyx Narpole’s arms.
Leaf Harper was Onyx’s enemy; he made sure of it. Onyx could forget everybody and everything, but he could not forget why.

***

In the Elven world of Cassenia, there are good guys and then there was Onyx. The war was over for everyone but him. He took it upon himself to establish his father as the leader of the Elven Alliance. But, he didn’t count on Leaf. Leaf allied to Roman, Onyx’s cousin, and rightful heir. Leaf, set to marry Bin, Onyx’s sworn enemy. Leaf, trembling in his arms, melting under his touch and setting him on fire…

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Snippet 1 

 

“I’m supposed to trust you?”

“You don’t trust me?”

“We’re talking about a war.” She sipped some more.

 Onyx leaned in again, took the cup out of her hand and kissed her while her lips were still coffee-warm. “Trust that.”

She wanted to. This was so…special. He was…wow. But… “How many girls trust your kisses?”

He didn’t hesitate. “Too many to count.”

That wasn’t good. “You want me to trust something that’s clearly not true?”

“There’s a difference.”

She waited.

“I didn’t ask them to.”

 

Snippet 2

“You didn’t see anything, except what I wanted. I’d been in her bed all night. Trust me, if I had intended to shag her, it would have been accomplished hours before you got there. Hell, her panties were still in place.”

Roman didn’t want to know. “Why are you sharing?”

“Because I now owe you allegiance. And, for some incomprehensible reason, you mean something to her. Your opinion matters…to her. I won’t have you or anybody thinking less of her because of me.”

In spite of himself, Roman felt both relieved and a nagging growing respect for Onyx’s feelings toward Leaf. “May I ask why the charade?” He pointed back down the hall.

“You know my father. Had I not completely compromised her, and took the entire situation out of his hands, would he consent to a Fada?”

“Don’t call her that again.”

“I’ll call her any damned thing I want.”

“I’d rather not see you with Leaf. What’s stopping me from going back and telling them you used me?”

“Leaf knows what did and did not happen between us. I don’t recall her making any denials. I don’t recall her saying anything. You can go back there if you want to stand in the way of her happiness and a truce between our fathers. Besides, when you get right down to it, who gives a shit about your jealousy? I know there’s a part of you that wishes for a different relationship with Leaf. But, you roped it in for West. Keep doing that.”

 

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Novelist, Reviewer, Content Editor, Blogger, T-shirt Wearer, and Professional Snacker; Tracy A. Ball is a native Baltimorean and a veteran West Virginian whose family is blended from three cultures. She has opened her home to foster children, drug addicts, AIDS victims and anyone who needed an assist. She knows people who have committed murder and people who have dined with the Pope.

Which is why she writes sweet stories about tough love…and takes naps.

 

KAYOS: The Bad & The Worse

The Tiger & The Snake

The Right Way To Be Wrong

Dragonfly Dreams 

 

Coming soon:

Left on Marriottsville (Our Secret Nook Anthology)

The Villain (Siren’s Lullaby Anthology)

 

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Author Showcase – Rebecca Chastain (Madison Fox Urban Fantasy Series)

Reading Order

1. A Fistful of Evil

Madison Fox just learned that her ability to see souls is more than a sight: It’s a weapon for fighting evil. The only problem is she doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing.

On the positive side, her money problems are over and her coworker is smoking hot. On the negative side, evil creatures now actively hunt her, and deadly experiences are becoming the norm.

When she thinks it couldn’t get worse, a powerful evil sets up shop at a local hotel’s video game convention, and it’s got its eye on more than the gaming geeks—it’s hungry for Madison’s soul. Madison needs to become an expert illuminant enforcer overnight to save her job, her region…and her life.

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2. A Fistful of Fire

 

Madison Fox survived her first week as California’s newest illuminant enforcer, but if her grumpy boss, Mr. Pitt, was impressed, he hasn’t told Madison. In fact, there’s a lot her boss has been closemouthed about, including the dark secret haunting his past.

But Madison’s problems are just igniting. Neighboring regions report an uncharacteristic flare-up of evil, fire-breathing salamanders blaze unchecked across the city, and Black Friday looms. Trapped doing cleanup amid mobs of holiday shoppers, Madison watches from the sidelines as dubious allies insinuate themselves in her region.

As suspicions kindle and the mysterious evil gains strength, Madison must determine who she can trust—and whose rules to follow—before her region and career go up in flames.

 

 

 

2.5 A Fistful of Flirtation 

Madison finally gets her date with Dr. Love—and if they had picked any other restaurant, she might have had a chance of enjoying it, too . . .

~~ NOTE TO READERS  (From Rebecca) ~~

If you have not read A Fistful of Evil and A Fistful of Fire, this novelette will include SPOILERS. Catch up on the series first so you don’t miss out! 

A Fistful of Flirtation will be available to readers who sign up for my VIP newsletter http://www.rebeccachastain.com/newsletter/

 

 

3. A Fistful of Frost

Madison’s job—and soul—are on thin ice.

Madison Fox is determined to reform Jamie, her half-evil pooka, but the bond linking her to Jamie works both ways. Already, it has manipulated her into bending the rules. If she continues down this path, she could doom her soul. Since her judgment can’t be trusted, a high-ranking inspector now dictates Madison’s every interaction with Jamie, and each directive drives them further apart. 

Unfortunately, Madison has bigger issues than the potential degradation of her soul. Winter has struck with a vengeance. Frost moths plague the entire state, reinforcing the artificially frigid temperature. Worse, cold-blooded, soul-stealing enemies are flocking into her region from the north—creatures Madison has little defense against. 

With the inspector scrutinizing her every misstep, Madison is in for the battle of her life. If she hopes to survive, she must make an impossible choice: save herself and her region or save Jamie.

An imaginative urban fantasy filled with heart, humor, and plenty of butt-kicking action—A Fistful of Frost is a book you won’t want to miss.

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I expected the inspector to look like an Army Ranger, tall, muscular, and radiating an “I could kill you if I wanted to” vibe. The woman who stepped from the car shattered my assumptions. Midfifties, petite, and pale, with a slash of bright auburn in her chin-length white-blond hair, Inspector Pamela Hennessey didn’t look authoritative until her assessing gaze landed on me. Then I fought not to squirm.

“Madison Fox and the pooka Jamie,” she said, not quite a greeting and not a question. It would have sounded rude if not delivered in her posh British accent. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“All good, I hope,” I quipped.

She eyed me up and down, giving me a noncommittal, “Mmm.”

My smile froze at the corners.

Rose climbed from the driver’s seat and shut the car door with more force than necessary. The Latina empath gave me a curt nod, as if we were strangers and not coworkers and friends. What the hell? I stopped pretending to smile. Jamie shifted closer, brushing his gloved hand against mine, worry crinkling his eyebrows as he read the tension of the group. I gave him a shoulder bump to reassure him, pretending to be relaxed. Pamela’s gaze snapped from our touching hands to our shoulders to our faces, and I fought the urge to leap away from Jamie as if I were doing something wrong.

“Give me a net and let’s get your purity test out of the way, Madison,” the inspector said.

“Pardon me?” Wasn’t a purity test a medieval way to judge a woman’s virginity? Not only had that ship long since sailed, but I also didn’t see how it would be relevant—or anyone’s business. I checked Brad’s neutral expression. Did details about my sex life fall under the impress her or don’t embarrass me category?

The inspector rounded on Brad, wispy-fine hair flaring on either side of her pink headband earmuffs. “She doesn’t know what a purity test is? You haven’t tested her once in the last five days?”

“Madison’s purity has never been in question.”

A warning frizzled down my spine at Brad’s bland tone. She’d put him on the defense. I glanced to Rose for a clue, but she only grimaced and looked away.

“Don’t let your recent victories make you arrogant, Brad,” Pamela said. “Of course her purity is in question. She’s bonded to a pooka.”

Aha! This wasn’t about virginity; this was about Jamie’s dual nature and the metaphysical bond he’d placed on me. I’d been warned—repeatedly—to be careful of Jamie’s darker half; more than one bonded enforcer had been corrupted by a pooka’s morally ambiguous influence. No one had mentioned purity tests.

“This is to see if Jamie has . . . changed me?” I asked, choosing my words carefully in deference to Jamie. Nothing in his expression said he took offense to the insinuation that our link might have tainted me. He saw nothing wrong with wielding atrum as readily as lux lucis, and if I failed a purity test, it’d probably make him happy.

“Changed you?” Pamela echoed. “No. I need to know if the pooka’s bond has sullied you.”

So much for being tactful. I peeked sideways at Jamie, but he hadn’t reacted, his gaze focused beyond Pamela on the people walking by.

“Is there a problem?” the inspector asked.

“No. Of course not, but, Inspector Hennessey—” I shot Brad a desperate look.

“Call me Pamela. Never Pam.”

“Got it. Um, Pamela—”

“She doesn’t know how to make a net,” Brad said for me.

“Why not?” Pamela demanded, spinning to confront my boss again, the hem of her wool coat flaring to reveal the calves of her pale leather boots.

“I haven’t had the luxury of instituting a methodical training regimen with Madison.”

“Mmm,” Pamela said.

I was starting to hate that noise.

“And if she encountered a frost moth?” she asked.

“She has a lighter.”

One I’d purchased this afternoon at Brad’s insistence. Shaped like a small blowtorch, with a trigger to ignite the flame, it was the fanciest lighter I’d ever owned. It also had the distinction of being the only lighter I’d ever purchased with the intention of using as a weapon—or at least I thought that was the plan. I pressed my lips together. Now wouldn’t be a good time to confess that after reading Val’s entry on sjel tyver, I’d completely forgotten to ask the handbook about frost moths—what they looked like, where to find them, or how to kill them.

“I can instruct Madison on nets now,” Brad offered.

The inspector shook her head. “Let’s get the inquisition out of the way.”

The what?

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Buy books 1,2, and 3 today: 

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REBECCA CHASTAIN is the USA Today bestselling author of the Madison Fox urban fantasy series and the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles fantasy trilogy, among other worksInside her novels, you’ll find spellbinding adventures packed with supernatural creatures, thrilling action, heartwarming characters (human and otherwise), and more than a little humor. Rebecca lives in Northern California with her charming husband and two bossy cats.

Website: http://www.rebeccachastain.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rebeccachastainnovels
Twitter: @Author_Rebecca or https://twitter.com/Author_Rebecca
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5660379.Rebecca_Chastain

 

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Author Showcase – G.E. Stills (The Witch and the Squirrels)

Print Length: 23 pages

As a fireman in a small town, Chad’s life is laid back, easy going. The worst problem he has is tolerating Jerry, his so called friend. Jerry sees himself as a gift to women. He’s a player and Chad has a difficult time dealing with that. Chad’s life is destined to become much less peaceful and serine when Heather appears in town. From the very first time they meet, he is strongly attracted to her. To his consternation, Jerry imposes himself between them and tells lies about Chad in order to win Heather’s favor. 

Jerry vanishes, as does Heather. Then one day on the way home from work, Chad encounters her again. Having discovered Jerry’s lies, she invites Chad to join her for dinner. Cheerfully, Chad accepts. With Jerry out of the picture it’ll be just him and Heather. Things are about to get very interesting for Chad.

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Excerpt

Chad resisted the urge to break into a run when he passed the run-down house. If not for the fact it was along the route he used when he walked to work . . . You’re a grown man, not some scared little boy. Still—something about the place gives me the willies.

Cold and dreary looking, the dilapidated two story structure sat on a lot that encompassed the entire block. An unkempt yard, overgrown with vines and shrubs, surrounded it. Nobody had lived in the place for years.

Not since old lady Jameson vanished a number of years ago.

That was long before he’d moved here.

His steps carried him away, putting the house behind him. The somber feeling of foreboding lifted from his shoulders as the distance increased. Two blocks farther, he entered a two story eight-plex. Taking the steps two at a time, he then paced down the hallway to his apartment door located on the left near the rear of the complex. Soon he forgot the eerie feeling. Changing out of his uniform, he put on faded blue jeans and buttoned up his sport shirt.

Locking the door behind him, he left for the small bar a short distance away. When he opened the door, the smell of whiskey and stale cigarettes assailed his nose.

Why do I come here?

He answered his own thought immediately.

Because this may be a hole in the wall, but they have an excellent burger. He usually treated himself to one at the end of his shift. The bartender poured a glass of ice water and set it in front of him on the counter.

“The usual, Chad?” the bartender asked.

“Yes, thanks.”

The bartender walked away to place his order.

“What’s up, Chad my man?” a familiar voice said. He stifled a groan when Jerry sat down next to him.

Why me?

“Not much. Just got off work.” For some reason, Jerry had glommed onto him from the start.

Maybe because I was new in town. Maybe because I didn’t know him any better. That and the fact he has an apartment in the same building as me. And he and I are both single.

“Wanna come to the club with me tonight? There might be some fresh meat there. Ya never can tell, with that new catalog ordering center opening up. I hear they’ve hired a number of women. About damn time this shitty little town got some new businesses.”

Translated, new women who don’t know you and what a player you are, Jerry.

“If you hate this place so much, why do you stay? Why don’t you move to a larger town?”

“Maybe I will someday, but in the meantime I haven’t bedded all the eligible ladies in this one.” He winked.

And some that are not eligible, Jerry.

Chad shook his head and smothered his sigh of disgust. Even after all these months of knowing Jerry, he found it hard to believe his attitude toward women. He found it even more difficult to accept.

“So what time should I pick you up?” Jerry asked.

“I’m kind of tired. Just got off my three day shift.”

He should have known that Jerry would not be discouraged that easily.

“Aw, come on. You don’t do anything but lay around over there unless there’s a fire.”

“We do other things, besides fight fire in this town, you know.”

“What, rescue cats from trees?” Jerry scoffed.

He rolled his eyes and bristled at hearing his job belittled. “It’s not worth arguing about. I just don’t feel like going out tonight.”

“You aren’t still mooning over Anna are you?”

Jerry had to mention Anna. The one good and bad thing Jerry had done was introduce them.

“Damn it, Jerry. You had to bring her up. Sometimes you’re a real asshole.”

Most of the time, he amended mentally.

He and Anna had hit it off surprisingly well, considering she was a cousin of Jerry’s. He surmised that Jerry hadn’t hit on Anna because they were related.

Memories of Anna flooded his mind, bringing on dismal emotions. The two of them had done most everything together from the time they met. Then her employer had offered her a promotion. The trouble was it entailed relocating. He hadn’t wanted to move and she had wanted the promotion. The breakup had been amiable, but it still shattered his heart.

“She’s gone, man. Time to spread your affections to others and stop sitting around wishing things were different.”

“Spread my affections, like you?”

“Maybe. Love ‘em and leave ‘em. Don’t stick around long enough for messy entanglements. There’s always another one waiting around the corner. Besides, variety is the spice of life.”

“I’m not like that.”

“Pity. We’d make a good team. Well, anyway, I’ll stop by your apartment at eight.”

Clearly, Jerry was not going to take no for an answer. He sighed in defeat. “Fine. Now go away and let me eat my burger in peace.”

Chuckling, Jerry swaggered away.

Sure enough, Jerry was at his door at eight. At the club, Jerry scoped out a table of four new women, and introduced the two of them. Later that night, Jerry disappeared with one of the women. No warning or anything. They were on the dance floor one moment and the next, the two of them were gone. That left Chad to entertain the other three. He knew he should be mad at Jerry, but he was used to it.

After visiting and dancing with the remaining three, they parted and he went home . . . alone.

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Normally zany and often naughty talking, G. E. has a serious and compassionate side if you can find it. He cares deeply for his friends and hasn’t met an animal yet he didn’t like. He is terrified of heights so hasn’t braved the tramway ride in his home town. He lives in the southwest while longing to live by the sea. He often says, “We have the sandy beaches but where is the water?”

He heeds the call of the many characters that pop into his mind and demand to have their stories put in print. Their tales are both serious and humorous. A multi-published author his stories cover many genres including contemporary romance, paranormal romance and science fiction. His stories are both erotic and non-erotic in nature. G.E. is the leader of a local writers group and in addition hosts a meeting of his own locally on fiction writing bi-monthly.

G.E. Stills loves to hear from his readers and can be contacted at any of these sites.

Website / Blog
Personal Facebook Page / Facebook Author Page
Twitter / Amazon Author Page  

Goodreads / Google+

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Author Showcase – David M. Kelly (Joe Ballen series)

~~ Book One ~~

Meet former space engineer, Joe Ballen. These days, he’s scraping a living flying cabs in flooded-out Baltimore, trying to avoid the clutches of his boss and the well-meaning advice of an old friend. When one of his passengers suffers a grisly death, Joe is dragged into a dangerous web of ruthless academic rivalry centered on a prototype spaceship.

As the bodies pile up, Joe becomes suspect number one, and his enemies will stop at nothing to hide the truth. With the help of an enigmatic scientist, a senile survivalist, and the glamorous Ms Buntin, can Joe untangle the conspiracy and prove his innocence before it’s too late?

Mathematics Of Eternity: the first in an explosive SF thriller series by a fantastic new Canadian author. 

The future’s about to get a lot more action-packed!

 

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Chapter One

 

“Negotiations between the assembled Earth nations and Atoll negotiators broke down today, with no relaxation of the restrictions on Earth-based extra-orbital operations. General Chadwick, from the combined Atoll security forces, stated there would be a vigorous response to any attempt by Earth to increase operations outside Low Earth Orbit, other than the Mars mining operation. He also said that this boycott included the starship—”

I stabbed the off-button hard enough to make the plastic click sound like a gun had gone off inside the car. The news shouldn’t have bothered me, but it did. The fact that I used to work in space was part of it—the fact that I couldn’t any longer was another. But mostly it was because the Atolls were right—we didn’t deserve another chance.

I pulled up outside The Kase waiting for the traffic lights to change. The rain on the windshield distorted the garish neon and holo-projections from the bar into painful tracks that burned ghostly afterimages on my retina. I rubbed my face to ease the ache in my eyes, a two-day growth of beard rasping against my palms. Time to polish yourself up a bit, Ballen, otherwise someone’s going to think you stole this cab. It had been that kind of night. The only thing keeping me going was the thought that my tour was over for another twelve hours.

The cab bucked and I grabbed the shuddering controls, wrestling the car into a level attitude. The door hissed open as someone slid in the back. The turbines whined as the stability systems fought to compensate for the shift in weight distribution and for a second I thought we were going to plummet to the ground.

I cursed loudly, my fingers only slowly releasing the death grip I had on the controls as the motions steadied, not caring if my new passenger heard. The old adage was true—there really is always one.

“You better watch yourself, chief.” My cab had been almost a meter away from the Jump-Off platform—a potential disaster when you’re sixty meters up at L4. “That’s not a choice likely to take you to retirement.”

All I could see in the mirror was a dark shadow filling the entire back seat. “I’m off duty. You’ll have to call someone else.”

“Two-Seven-Three Fairland Road, Ell-One. Rossmoor.” The voice had a liquid rasp that didn’t sound like it came from drink alone. More like the death rattle from a set of lungs drowning in a sea of flesh.

Maybe he hadn’t heard. I sure didn’t want a forty-kilometer detour on my own clock. “The light’s out, chief—I’m off-duty. Give me a break and get out.”

I nudged against the Jump-Off and re-opened the door. He didn’t move, and I turned round to get my first proper look at him. Purple and red bar lights reflected on his waxy skin, and he must have weighed well over a hundred-eighty kilos. A sweat-drenched green jacket molded itself to both his torso and the seat, making his face look sickly. I couldn’t remember ever seeing anyone so overweight, outside historicals. Everything about him was bloated. From the head that flowed directly into his shoulders without the benefit of an intervening neck, to the corpulent fingers gripping the worn parahyde seat as if he were scared he’d fall off the world. It was no wonder the car had struggled—he was a one-man weight-restriction violation.

Sometimes when the circuits fail, all you can do is accept it and reroute. There wasn’t a chance I’d be able to get him out single-handed. It would be easier to take him where he wanted to go and hope he was sober enough to get out under his own steam.

I shrugged and hit the meter. The lights had long since gone green, so I eased the throttle forward to minimize any motion sickness. The last thing I needed was the alcoholic excess in his gut emptying in the back of the cab. Then, as if I needed anything else to make my night miserable, an asshole in a Saber cut me up from below. His streamlined tail almost clipping the front of the cab as I wrestled to keep things together in the turbulent wash from the arrest-me red sports car.

I shook my head. “Life’s too short,” I muttered.

“Your statement carries a paradoxical veracity that forms a Universal comedy.”

I hadn’t meant to be overheard and didn’t generally start conversations with drunks. His quirky mannerisms singled him out from the usual fare, though. It’s true you see pretty much every aspect of life while driving a cab, and after two years I’d seen them all. But I’d never had anyone using phrases like paradoxical veracity—not even sober.

“It was a rather discourteous maneuver. You should tag him.”

My jaw tightened. Decades ago, the Saber driver would have been handled by the national sport known as “drive-by shooting.” Now, with the promotion of civic thinking, we had the more humane, if less immediate, option of tagging anti-social behavior. The all-seeing Argus brain reviewed each tag and, if judged guilty, the appropriate points were added to your citizenship record. Amass enough, and you faced fines, community service, or “attitudinal re-adjustment” in severe cases. An electronic voxpop bringing peace and tranquility to the teeming streets and suburbs of the United States and Provinces.

I should have tagged the guy, but I’d never really bought into the idea. My previous life had left me used to the rough and tumble of a more anarchic environment, where you relied on personal relationships and dealt with problems by rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in when needed. Marking someone with a coded low-energy laser felt a little unsatisfying, not to mention cowardly.

“I guess I’m not quick enough,” I said. “No harm done.”

My passenger’s deep-set eyes seemed to darken in the RearView. “You have a good heart, sir. Most people find it easy to use that particular reflex.”

“You’ve definitely had too much to drink.” His manner and old-fashioned speech piqued my curiosity enough for me to break my own rule and attempt a conversation. “A good night, chief?”

“Good night?” He hesitated. “In the bar?”

“Sure. You were in The Kase, right?”

“Was that its name? I didn’t really take much notice.” He looked out of the window as the city lights from the buildings slipped past us. “I don’t get out much.”

His size made that seem likely. “You must have had a good few drinks if you don’t know where you were. Was it a celebration?”

“Oh, I wasn’t drinking. I’ve been in so many bars tonight I don’t remember them all.”

I was getting annoyed now. Not with my passenger, but with myself. I’d broken my no-engagement rule, and now it turned out he was simply another drunk who couldn’t remember how much he’d had, or where he’d been. Besides, I should have been home. “What were you doing then? Those places only have one purpose.”

“I bought a lot of people drinks. They seemed to enjoy it.”

“That’s pretty generous. You must be one of those eccentric millionaires I see in the trashy Solidos.”

“Millionaire?” He seemed genuinely surprised and coughed wetly. “No, I’m not especially wealthy. Money doesn’t matter anymore.”

“It does to some of us, chief.”

I followed Broadway south, passing over the bloated wetlands that stretched across the old Inner Harbor and Federal Hill. The once grand buildings footed several meters in the water lapping around their crumbling lower levels. Many were flood-thrus, but I could see faint glimmers of light creeping out of the grimy windows. Wet-foot didn’t care where they lived. All they wanted was a roof over their heads. Danger and disease didn’t deter them in the slightest.

“They should put those people in proper buildings.” The liquid voice rolled out of the darkness of the back seat. He must have followed my gaze and guessed what I was thinking.

The Big Shake and rising sea levels had driven people inland, away from the encroaching ocean. Waterfront property no longer commanded a premium—it was a danger to be avoided. As a result, even the most precarious of condemned buildings held groups of otherwise homeless residents. Not all of them lived there illegally—as long as you stretched the definition of legal. City health ordinances were often “overlooked,” and upper-level apartments in buildings that should have been torn down, or concrete-filled as sea defenses, were frequently rented out. Sometimes at ridiculous prices, but when you’ve lost everything, even crap is better than nothing.

We swept over the distended extremes of the Patapsco, pushing west until we hit Silver Lake, then I settled the car into Airway Six which followed the path of the old Highway One, heading southwest. I kept the car within the 100/100 ‘City’ zoning limits as we followed the track of the highway, the ribbon of crumbling pavement lined with equally crumbling buildings that looked like splintered teeth pushing out of a jawbone of some huge leviathan.

“Housing isn’t the problem,” I said. “There are subdivisions past the old Beltway virtually empty, thousands of homes—but those people can’t afford even subsidized rent.”

“That can’t be.”

My passenger sounded shocked, and I wondered where he’d been hiding. The FabHome scandal had left swathes of houses built with taxpayers’ money lying empty and slowly falling apart, while city officials enjoyed generous business trips. It was an old story even back when Ramses was building pyramids, but fresh enough to fill the news for the last three months. Human altruism at its finest.

We finally escaped the limiters past Larch, and I lifted the nose, bringing the cab up to 500 meters while boosting to 200 klicks. The landscape was flat, and outside the managed traffic zone I was free to use my own discretion, as long as I didn’t break the general free flight regs for an AeroMobile. Of course, the cab could have managed all this on its own, but since the ICab debacle, a human driver was mandatory.

“They should let those poor unfortunates have those houses for free. Are people really that selfish and greedy?”

“Free? That’s a four-letter word with a lot of people.” The Pilot beeped several times, warning me of our imminent arrival. I throttled back and did a slow drift, spiraling around the U-shaped apartment building as I brought the car down outside the main entranceway at L1—ground level. “Talking of which, we’re here, and you owe an even fifty-five.”

He didn’t answer, so I turned to encourage his exit. I could hear his breathing, the wheezy inhalation of air followed by an almost spluttering exhalation. For a moment, I thought he’d fallen asleep and cursed, wondering how the hell I’d get him out. Then I noticed tears rolling down his fat cheeks.

“There’s a girl.”

“There usually is…” Something in his tone made me think he wasn’t using the word girl euphemistically. “Maybe you should keep that to yourself though.”

He leaned forward, and I tasted his fetid breath as it filtered through the screen. “Take care of her.”

“Sure… don’t worry, chief, I’ll take care of it.” All I wanted was to get him out of the cab so I could go home. “Now go sleep it off. Everything will look better in the morning.”

“Sleep? Yes. ‘What dreams may come?'” His voice sounded tiny and afraid—like something was eating him up inside. “I don’t want to be alone.”

“No one does. Call your girl tomorrow and apologize. It’ll be fine.” It was time to draw this melodrama to a close. “Look, chief, I’ve got a wife and kids waiting. If I don’t get home soon, I’ll be alone too.” It was a lie, but claiming a family usually helped with drunks.

He dragged his credit chip out from a pocket and tapped it against the payment scanner. A couple of seconds later it let out a doleful beep, and the screen flashed with a red declined warning. The doors locked automatically, and the plastic security window between me and the passenger compartment shuttered tight.

“I have no money left?” His tear-streaked face swam close to the transparent barrier. “I must have spent it in the bars. I’m so terribly sorry.”

It was more likely the bank had stopped his credit chip if he’d been as generous as he claimed, but my patience was exhausted. I got out and manually unfolded the back door, opening it wide. “Come on, chief. Forget the money and get out.”

“I’m sorry for causing trouble, I really am.” He shuffled part way through the door. The car dipped alarmingly on its landing gear, and I was glad I was dropping him off at ground level. “I have some cash in my apartment. I’ll get it and return immediately.”

“I may look stupid, but I’m not. I am tired though.” I sighed. “Get out of here before I change my mind. I won’t even watch what direction you go.”

He struggled out, barely making it even with the door opened fully and again I wondered how he’d managed to get in at the lights. Maybe he was an acrobat under those layers of flab, but it seemed unlikely.

“Please, don’t be angry.” His eyes shone like two titanium bearings freshly bathed in oil. “I will bring you some money, I promise. This won’t take very long.”

My boss is pretty tight when it comes to non-payers, but I really didn’t care. All I wanted was a hot shower and a cold beer—not necessarily in that order—but if agreeing would get him out of my hair then I’d play along. “Okay, you get some cash. I’ll wait five minutes and if you choose not to come back, don’t worry. I won’t be disappointed.”

He nodded profusely, tears running down his face as he waddled towards the arched entrance. I was surprised when the entry system recognized him and allowed him into the protected interior. I leaned against the car, wondering whether to cut my losses or give the guy the benefit.

The condo had that bare functionality mixed with quality workmanship typical of late-twentieth architecture, all sharp lines and black quartz walls mixed with a pinstripe steel exoskeleton. It was probably part of the growth of designed communities that enjoyed a brief popularity before their eco-conscious designers gave up and went back to making money. It wasn’t the kind of place I’d associate with drunken non-payers, but that didn’t mean anything. His claim to have real cash was intriguing. I hadn’t seen any in years and wondered if I’d still recognize it.

A light flickered several floors up, outlining a pagoda style section forming the top floor corner of the U, and I saw an unmistakable shadow totter past thinly screened windows. A penthouse then—maybe he was genuine.

There was a faint smell of cooked meat in the air. It could have come from the apartments, but at that time of night, it was more likely a NeverSee in the sewer. It wasn’t pleasant—maybe cat or something even worse. I pulled out my Scroll and, with a slight sense of embarrassment, called up the inappropriately-named WorldLink News—one of the sleaziest news-tabs. I’d be the first to admit it was mostly mindless dross, but it held a perverse fascination. I opened up the classifieds—nothing else reveals the true depths humanity can sink to any better—and scanned various enigmatic headlines.

My mind was toying with the delights of “Willy. Got the powder, you still got the meat? H.,” when a sickening wet impact shattered my guilty entertainment. A heartbeat later a burning snap of something stabbed deep into the back of my shoulder, and I staggered forward. Time seemed suspended in the dust-heavy wind as the Scroll slipped from my fingers and clattered on the rough concrete paving.

I turned—not having to look far for the source of the sodden explosion. A lump of still-quivering gelatinous protoplasm was splashed over the pavement a few meters away. Snakes of uncoiled intestine slithered towards me as the moist, salty odor from the steam drifted into my nostrils on the cold night air.

Twin rows of burst ribs reached upwards through the green jacket, like claws from a pair of cupped hands begging for more. Remnants of a head were scattered across the sidewalk, its once precious cache discarded in a casual puddle of gray and crimson mucous.

I wasn’t going to get my fare after all.

…Copyright (C) David M. Kelly. Read more at http://davidmkelly.net/moe/ .

 

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~~ Book Two ~~

Ballen’s back in another action-packed sci-fi noir thriller, guaranteed to keep you turning the pages.

 

PERIMETER – In space, treachery runs deep

Joe Ballen’s working on a new ore-processing platform in the harsh environment around Mercury. When a savage Atoll attack decimates his crew, Joe is injured and must return to Earth to recover. While it’s a setback for the project, at least it means he can rebuild his relationship with his wife after nearly a year away.

But then the security forces come calling. Vital starship engineering files are missing, and without them Earth has no hope of escaping Atoll domination. Someone has to locate the files, and Ballen is bulldozed into the not-so-choice assignment.

But he’s not the only one in the hunt. As Joe struggles to find the data, he becomes tangled up in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. It’s a journey that will take him to the perilous depths of space, where no one is quite what they seem. Can old enemies ever make good allies? And can Joe trust even the people closest to him?

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David M. Kelly writes intelligent, action-packed SF. He is the author of the novel, Mathematics of Eternity and the short story collection Dead Reckoning And Other Stories. He has been published in Canadian SF magazine Neo-opsis.

David’s interest in science and technology began early. At the age of six his parents allowed him to stay up late into the night to watch the television broadcast of Neil Armstrong stepping on to the surface of the moon. From that day he was hooked on everything related to science and space.

An avid reader, he worked his way through the contents of the mobile library that visited his street, progressing through YA titles (or ‘juveniles’ as they were known back then) on to the classics of Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Harry Harrison.

David worked for many years in project management and software development. Along the way his interests have included IPSC combat (target) pistol shooting, crew chief on a drag racing team, and several years as bass player/vocalist in a heavy rock band. He also managed to fit in some real work in manual jobs from digging ditches and work on production lines to loading trucks in a haulage company.

Originally from the wild and woolly region of Yorkshire, England, David emigrated to Canada in 2005 and settled in Northern Ontario with his patient and supportive wife, Hilary. Foot surgery in 2014 temporarily curtailed many of his favourite activities – hiking, camping, piloting his own personal starfighter (otherwise known as a Corvette ZR-1). But on the plus side, it meant a transition from the world of IT into life as a full-time writer—an opportunity he grasped enthusiastically.

David is passionate about science, especially astronomy and physics, and is a rabid science news follower. Never short of an opinion, David writes about science and technology on his blog davidmkelly.net. He has supported various charity projects such as the Smithsonian’s Reboot The Suit and the Lowell Observatory Pluto Telescope Restoration. He also contributes to citizen science projects such as SETI@home.

 

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Author Showcase / Interview & GIVEAWAY CONTEST – Simon Lindley (Mannethorn’s Key: Book One of the Key of Life Trilogy)

Welcome, Simon Lindley!
 
 

  1. For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?

(Simon) I got the bug early. My first literary work, The Magic Skates was picked up by my elementary teacher. I was six. First gold star! That was it. Hooked. The problem that accosted me later was that although writing fiction, especially fantasy, turned out to be my lifelong calling, the realization also struck me that I wasn’t very good at it. So somewhere between age six and fifty-one I broadened my writing abilities. I’ve written about a dozen books but I wouldn’t put any of them ‘out there’. I refer to them as my ‘growth phase’, which is a euphemism for working at sucking less. Mannethorn’s Key was a culmination of over a decade’s worth of work. I’m proud of it. It’s my first work that I feel has earned a place in the literary ether.

 

 

  1. All writers fear the dreaded “block”. Please tell us how you handle it.

(Simon)  I am not so much cursed by the block as I am the Mull. I am a muller. I write a paragraph, analyze it, read it back, demand that it speaks to me, write a fake following paragraph just to coax it, and then delete it and rewrite it. I never have a block. In fact, at times, I’ll write 10,000 words in a single shot. My issue is that I will then spend four weeks mulling over it.

 

 

 

  1. Will you please share with the visitors what genre(s) you write? Also, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

(Simon)  I love writing epic fantasy. For me, no other genre provides more firepower for my imagination or lets me fully immerse myself while writing. It delivers the palette to create a unique world that doesn’t limit the scope. As George R. R. Martin proved, it can be terribly dark, vulgar, violent and sexual while still world building. Besides, there’s a lot of mutants, vampires, zombies and dystopian futures out there, according the number of scribes chronicling such tales. Don’t get me wrong. Some of the best books produced this decade are in those sub-genres. I have read some brilliant works, and many are far beyond my writing and imaginative abilities. However, I believe there is still a place and a desire from many readers for the epic.

 

 

I am also a huge fan of science fiction but I’m not that smart. To write really good sci-fi these days requires, in my humble view, a commanding grasp of physics and science. In fact, many of the best writers in the genre are brilliant physicists.

When I’m not writing I’m hiking in the alpine, crooning in the basement while playing my guitars (badly), outside chopping wood, or building very questionable additions onto our house in the Rockies.

 

 

  1. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

(Simon)  They do now! It’s funny. I’m the reverse of that, I guess. I’ve played the corporate game. I was a newspaper publisher and, for a while groomed for upper management with all the ‘perks’. I walked away. It was killing me both spiritually and physically. I’m a fortunate man because I had the choice to do so but it’s been a struggle nevertheless. I am both a musician and writer. That’s what I put ‘out there’. Yeah, I picked some real winner careers for making the big bucks but it is what I love. Friends and family have been incredibly supportive and believe in what I’m doing.

(Kam) I’m thrilled you have a solid support team behind you. 

 

 

  1. Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.

(Simon)  Yeah, I’m with you on that one. There are so many amazing writers. However, I have my all-time favorites, no doubt. Stephen R. Donaldson was a genius with the Thomas Covenant series, really launching the dark, introspective side of fantasy. David Eddings has been a huge influence. Tolkien, well – we can just leave it there. Terry Brooks, Robin Hobb, Raymond Feist, Isaac Asimov, Piers Anthony, and I quite liked the Runelord series by David Farland. The first books of Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkind were stellar but then I just got bogged down – or they did. Still, they impacted my own writing, no doubt, even if it was just to remind me to treat the reader with respect and keep the story moving.

 

 

  1. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?

(Simon)  Wow. That’s a tough one. I would have to say the Belgariad series by David Eddings would make my dream list. However, it is so painful to watch great books get butchered by the movie industry. The first three LOTR’s were done reasonably well. I won’t talk about the Hobbit. Let’s not speak of Eragon.

If it was done right, with a great screenwriter, it would top those that have preceded it. The most unsung face for a wizard has to be Tommy Lee Jones. He would make a perfect Belgarath! Maybe Mr. Ratcliffe could launch a new career as Garion??

(Kam) Eragon, I actually loved the movie. Never read the book but the movie wasn’t half-bad. 

 

 

  1. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

(Simon)  Ha! No, let’s be open and avoid any covert ops. I have two buns in the oven. The first, of course, is the sequel to Mannethorn’s Key, called Outworlder. I have the full plot of the trilogy laid out and have penned about a third of Book Two already. It’s slated for a winter, 2018 release. My other project is one that I am quite excited about, an urban fantasy entitled Gaia’s Assassin. It’s dark, a bit dystopian, but I feel it’s quite unique from the work we’re seeing in the genre.

(Kam) Can’t wait to check them out! 

 

 

  1. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

(Simon)  Mannethorn’s Key is my debut work. You can find it on Smashwords, Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and in many fine bookstores. The book is out in both ebook and paperback editions.

 

 

 

  1. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

(Simon)  I am always excited to hear from readers. They can contact me through my website ,  Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or at AllAuthor. 

 

 

  1. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

(Simon)  Remember the internet when the vision was about freedom and access? I know – I’m dating myself – but we are at that point again with literature. At our doorstep is the opportunity for a diverse voice unlike any time in our history. For the first time, you, the reader can access independent bloggers, reviewers and authors in a way that was unfathomable a decade ago. Keep it that way. Support new authors. Write a review, and buy your books from alternatives that support a free and open marketplace of ideas, not a monopoly that ends them. Sure, we don’t all have the marketing and editing resources of the big boys, but that’s why we have sites like this to help you discover the gems.

Thank you for supporting indies like me, along with independent blog and review sites.

There. That’s my plug. Thank you for reading!

(Kam) And thank you for giving me and our lovely visitors the chance to get to know you a wee bit better. Also, I appreciate the opportunity to host you and this amazing, generous giveaway.

FYI: Any reader would be lucky to have Mannethorn’s Key so, if you want to add this epic fantasy novel to your library, stick around for more details! 

 

 
  
 

Ladies and Gents, I hope you enjoyed my interview with Simon Lindley. Now lets discuss the giveaway!

Prize up for grabs — A KINDLE COPY of the Mannethorn’s Key: Book One of the Key of Life Trilogy.

To enter the contest – Leave us a comment below. Say howdy, leave a smile/heart, or ask a question.

One entry per person. International residents are welcomed to enter, too! 

The contest will end Friday at 11:59 p.m., central time. On Saturday, I will select a winner, post their name on a comment, and be in contact with him or her  SO……. have your settings open to receive messages or follow the comment thread and be ready to give me or Simon your kindle email address. 

 

Thank you and Good luck.

 

~~ PRIZE! ~~

TWO WORLDS. TWO SPIRITS. ONE POWER.

At the end of an age, a Bearer wielded the Key of Life and ended Dragon’s Rule. Such powers and heroes, long dead or lost, must again be raised and found…

Algarth Willowbrow is about to gamble everything. His once-powerful Order is in ruins, and he faces an unwinnable battle to save his life and his people. In a last, desperate attempt, he lures his arch nemesis deep within his keep, hoping to utilize him and reclaim a long-hidden magic, powerful enough to save the world – or destroy it.

Bartholomew Waxman, former derivatives broker extraordinaire has gambled everything – and lost. Bankrupt, unemployed and divorced, his only hope for salvation is to try and rebuild his self-inflicted shattered life. But at his first job interview, he is grabbed by a spell and thrust into the netherworld of Between. There, he is groomed to wield a power so vast that it will decide a world’s fate.

The land’s only hope is the reluctant and unprepared Bartholomew, the wizard Algarth whose powers are gravely in doubt – and the Key of Life, with its true power hidden from all.

Delve into the beginnings of a vast fantasy epic that embraces a man, a wizard and a world seeking redemption.

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EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER SIX, MANNETHORN’S KEY:

 

The wind picked up with a sudden, icy bite. He smiled and ended his melody. The gust had not originated from the waning heat of the departed sun or the hills beyond. It was born from a Seether landing on the road ahead.

Behind three of the wolf boars who had taken position directly in front of the cart’s path, dust and gravel churned up from the flaps of massive, leathery wings. The stranger saw nothing but the black silhouette of a two-legged beast towering twice the traveler’s height. It blotted out the early stars; the only discerning features were its yellow phantom eyes, now assessing its prey.

The Seether spoke, snakelike, assuring its hunters, “Itsss a wizzard! It bearsss the mark. But itsss magic iss ussselesss. Rip it to piecesss!”

The wolf boars were ecstatic. A meal was coming sooner than expected, but only the three who stood ahead of him on Ferryman’s Way advanced.

The wizard stood silent with eyes focused on the road ahead, as if his enemies were invisible.

Slowly, cautiously, the entire pack tightened its noose. The three forward gained courage as they sensed no meaningful defense from their prey, saliva dripping from their muzzles.

The stranger remained motionless, the only tension was in his fingers, taut about his staff, knuckles white.

“Ghaawww!” The wolf boars attacked, lunging for the quick kill, one for the stranger’s neck, the other for the legs, with the last to rip open his abdomen and feast on his guts.

The wizard’s arms rose just as the wolf boars leapt – and the air cracked.

A soundless percussion reverberated out from the crowd of odd company on Ferryman’s Way. The attackers momentarily hovered in the air, frozen in the eerie wave of dark power. The remaining wolf boars looked on in confusion and fear, but they too were frozen in the vile energy. The ground underfoot and surrounding fields along the roadway trembled, and the boulders in the fields glowed with a fiery tinge as if ignited to life.

A second passed, and the night awoke anew, the spell over. Three wolf boars lay dead only inches from the traveler’s bare feet; their bodies twitching and bellies split open, blood spilling from their wounds in great black pools, reflecting the resplendent stars above.

“By the Grail! He wieldsss the Han! He isss one of usss!”

The traveler under the cowl grasped the staff and the harness of his wagon but remained ominously silent.

“My lord, forgive uzzz. Why hide your Order?”

The stranger spoke. “I answer to no subordinate. Am I your Lord, Seether?”

“You wield the Han, my Lord. Yesss,” it replied.

“Good. Then answer me this. Are you the Seether of the conquered Plains, keeper of the Map of Ismantrutna?”

“Yesss, Lord. Do you ssseek the power over the Zzzhin puppetsss? It showzz uzzz all the ancient HanZzzhinSsshasss. I keep it ssssafe.” From a pouch strapped to the creature’s barreled chest it produced a scroll in its clawed grasp.

“How is it that you approach an unknown enemy carrying such a valuable relic and take no precautions to ensure your master’s property remains safe?”

“I. I –”

“Just as I suspected. Mindless beast. Must we Mil-HanFanthas and the Hanlord do everything ourselves? Give it to me.”

“I will take you to it, Massster. I am the keeper of the map.”

“Not anymore.”

“Have you permisssion from Hanlord Grailborn to take the Map from me, my Lord?”

The stranger paused. “Here is my permission.”

He raised his arms, staff held high overhead, and to the dismay of the remaining pack, the wizard let loose the dark Han magic upon the night once more. With a look of satisfaction, the wizard forever released the wide-eyed Seether and his wolf boars of their duties.

 

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