Cora is elsewhere once again and shares a recipe

http://corabuhlert.com/2019/11/12/cora-is-elsewhere-once-again-and-shares-a-recipe/

http://corabuhlert.com/?p=32719

Yes, I will eventually post another post here. And in fact, I am currently working on a longer post about the latest reiteration of the science fiction versus fantasy debate that has broken out in the genre. I also have a new release announcement coming.

Today, however, I am guestblogging elsewhere yet again. I’m over at The Homepunks, a site chock full of recipes, household, gardening and DIY projects and tips for a more sustainable lifestyle run by Jen and Kate of the Skiffy and Fanty Show, one of my favourite SFF podcasts.

So head over to The Homepunks and check out my family recipe for delicious cider-pickled pumpkin. You know you want to.

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Cora is elsewhere yet again and recommends some books

http://corabuhlert.com/2019/11/07/cora-is-elsewhere-yet-again-and-recommends-some-books/

http://corabuhlert.com/?p=32663

As the title indicates, today I’m elsewhere on the internet again, namely at File 770, where I’m one of eighteen reviewers and fans from different European countries recommending their favourite recent-ish SFF books from their respective countries. The project was initiated by Bence Pintér from Hungary.

So if you always wanted to try some speculative fiction from Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain or Ukraine (plus Bulgaria in the comments), check it out.

And by the way, if you’re waiting for an e-mail from me, please be patient, because I’m very busy at the moment, so non-urgent e-mails occasionallyhave to be postponed.

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Cora time travels to 1964 and checks in on Perry Rhodan

http://corabuhlert.com/2019/11/05/cora-time-travels-to-1964-and-checks-in-on-perry-rhodan/

http://corabuhlert.com/?p=32641

Today, I’m over at Galactic Journey again with an article on the latest developments of Perry Rhodan – in 1964. It’s a follow-up to my earlier Perry Rhodan article from last July.

In addition to the latest developments in Perry Rhodan’s Solar Empire, you can also see some historical photos of East German pensioners visiting the West for the very first time as well as of the Bremer Freimarkt, featuring Anton Schwarzkopf’s awesome Sputnik ride, which unfortunately was already long gone by the time I was old enough to be taken to the Freimarkt. But I got lucky and got to ride Anton Schwarzkopf’s Zeppelin in the very few years it was touring.

I have taken a bunch of photos of this year’s Freimarkt and will post them, when I get around to it. Meanwhile, enjoy this video of the 1987 Freimarkt. I remember all of those rides well and rose most of them at some point. Except for Skylab and the Ranger, which were a bit too scary for me at the time. I eventually got to ride a Ranger years later and the ride actually looks much worse than it is. Unfortunately, I never got to ride the Skylab, because it was gone – sold off after two accidents, none of which were the ride’s fault – before I could get my courage together. And since the only surviving Skylab in the world is in Columbia, I doubt I will ever get my chance.

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First Monday Free Fiction: Loot

http://corabuhlert.com/2019/11/04/first-monday-free-fiction-loot/

http://corabuhlert.com/?p=32614

Welcome to the November edition of First Monday Free Fiction. To recap, inspired by Kristine Kathryn Rusch who posts a free short story every week on her blog, I’ll post a free story on every first Monday of the month. It will remain free to read on this blog for one month, then I’ll take it down and post another story.

LootNovember is the month for remembering the dead, so here is a humorous crime story set in a cemetery. You can read “Loot” both in a standalone edition and as part of the crime fiction collection Murder in the Family. “Loot” is based on a true story, by the way, which happened to an elderly lady of my acquaintance.

So prepare to accompany Eudora Pennington to the cemetery to bury a loved one and watch pursesnatcher Jack Slater get his comeuppance in…

 

 

Loot

Katrina hadn’t been well for quite a few days. She didn’t eat, she didn’t drink, she didn’t want to go outside, she scarcely stirred from her basket in the bedroom. She did not even enjoy sitting in her favourite spot on her owner’s lap anymore.

Eudora Pennington had been very worried. After a sleepless night, for both her and Katrina, she finally decided to call the vet. The vet came, examined Katrina and then told Mrs. Pennington frankly that there was nothing he could do. Old age was finally taking its toll. The best thing would be to put her to sleep.

Eudora Pennington had refused, of course. If you spent seventeen years with a pet, you didn’t just have it put down, once it became old and ill and useless. It was inhuman and simply wrong. And this was what she told the vet. The young man just shrugged and left. He hadn’t helped Katrina, in fact he hadn’t done anything except making Mrs. Pennington angry and he’d charged her twenty-five pounds for the privilege, too. Typical, those young doctors of today were interested in nothing but money.

But though Eudora Pennington was unwilling to let her sole companion of the past seven years go, the fluffy white Persian cat died peacefully the following night anyway. Mrs. Pennington was heartbroken. Katrina was the only friend she had left, after all, the only living creature to share the loneliness of a large empty house. Her husband Albert was long dead, and they’d had no children. And they’d always had preciously little contact with the relatives on either side. So all that had been left after Albert’s sudden death seven years before were a few friends and the neighbours who dropped in every now and then. And Katrina, of course. But now Katrina was gone as well.

The morning after Katrina passed away, Philip, Mrs. Pennington’s neighbour, came over to offer his assistance. Mrs. Pennington liked her neighbours. They were good people and had always been there for her, when she needed help. But that morning Philip wanted to take Katrina away. And Mrs. Pennington knew only too well where he would take her. He’d take her to the knacker’s. And Mrs. Pennington knew only too well would happen to her then.

“I will not have my poor Katrina end up as glue or as meat and bone meal,” she told him.

Philip had been very understanding. He assured her that he knew how she felt, though he was pretty sure that they did not actually make glue out of dead animals anymore. And meat and bone meal had been banned over that mad cow scare years ago. And he really wished there were some other way. But unfortunately it was forbidden to bury pets in the garden or anywhere else except at designated pet cemeteries.

The idea of a pet cemetery had crossed Eudora Pennington’s mind. Katrina would have a decent grave there, complete with a headstone and flowers. It was what Mrs. Pennington wanted for Katrina, what her trusted companion deserved. But unfortunately there was a grave problem. Pet cemeteries were very expensive. Too expensive for Mrs. Pennington’s small pension.

For two days, Eudora Pennington brooded over what to do with poor Katrina’s body. She considered simply burying Katrina in a nice corner of the garden or in a pleasant spot in the woods. But that was forbidden, just as Philip had pointed out. Besides it might poison the groundwater or something like that. To be honest, she didn’t quite understand all that. All she knew was that burying Katrina in the garden was against the law and Mrs. Pennington didn’t want to get in trouble with the police. She had always been a law-abiding citizen, after all. No, she would have to find another way. Then, on the second night after Katrina’s death, she had an idea.

There was one place where she could give Katrina a decent burial without accidentally poisoning the groundwater. And Katrina would have as nice a grave there as she would have had at a pet cemetery. What was more, she would even rest in the company of somebody who had cared for her almost as much as Eudora Pennington herself had.

Mrs. Pennington would simply take Katrina’s body to the cemetery and bury her in her husband’s grave. Albert would have liked to have Katrina with him. And this way, Eudora Pennington could visit the graves of both her loved ones at the same time. It was the perfect solution.

Of course, it was illegal as well. The cemetery was for humans, not for pets. But Mrs. Pennington had paid for that burial place, and a ridiculously high sum, too, for such a little plot of land. That grave belonged to her and she had the right to do with it as she pleased and to bury whomever she pleased in there.

Once she’d come to this solution, Eudora Pennington set out the very next morning to carry it out. Carefully, she wrapped Katrina’s body in a plastic bag. Then she put the plastic bag into her handbag, the big one of brown leatherette which she always used when she went grocery shopping. Finally, she took a shovel, a rake and a watering can and set off for the cemetery.

On her way she stopped once more to buy some pansies. Albert’s grave needed new flowers anyway, the old ones were dry and faded. Besides, if she were planting flowers, simply slipping Katrina’s little body into the grave would look entirely inconspicuous.

Thus prepared, Mrs. Pennington set out to bury Katrina.

***

Jack Slater spent a lot of time hanging out on cemeteries, purely for professional reasons. However, he was neither a priest nor a gardener nor a gravedigger nor an undertaker. Jack Slater was a thief, a pursesnatcher who stole the handbags of little old ladies. And there were plenty of little old ladies at Shady Grove Cemetery.

And little old ladies tended to be careless, particularly on cemeteries. Most of the time, they were so busy planting flowers and watering them, picking up snails and fallen leaves or simply sitting on benches, lost in memories of some long dead loved one, that they did not pay attention the large handbags they invariably carried. That was Jack Slater’s chance.

Even better, people on cemeteries were usually lost in their own private grief, so they never looked at each other, never paid attention to what was going on around them. Therefore, nobody ever noticed Jack Slater, nobody was ever able to describe him. A thief could not wish for a better turf.

Of course, it was thoroughly rotten, vile and evil. What crime could be more heinous than breaking the holy peace of a cemetery and snatching the purses of grieving old ladies? But everybody had to make a living somehow. And to Jack Slater this seemed as good a way as every other.

Besides, he was only taking from those who could afford it. Old people had money. In fact, people over sixty were the richest group in the entire country, so Jack had read in a newspaper he’d found on the bus. It all had to do with wars and hyper-inflations and how there hadn’t been either in such a long time that nobody lost any money anymore unless they were really stupid. But the ones that were not stupid just kept on amassing wealth. And old people, being old, were the richest of all. Jack Slater didn’t pretend to understand it all, but he got the gist of it. Old people were rich, and when they died, their heirs would become rich. The next generation would be a generation of rich heirs, so the newspaper headline had said.

Unfortunately, Jack Slater was not the heir of anybody, much less of anybody rich. For some reason, his parents and grandparents had missed the memo on amassing wealth for their heirs. Which meant that Jack Slater would never belong to that new generation of rich heirs. Therefore, it was only fair if he balanced the scales a bit by relieving those rich old people of some of the money before they could bequeath it to their heirs.

Armed with this justification cobbled together from half-remembered newspaper articles, Jack Slater roamed the cemeteries in order to take what he believed the world owed him. So far, he’d been quite successful. The loot had been varied, but mostly good. And he’d never been caught. The coppers had even put up signs warning of pickpockets. But people were never watchful on cemeteries and Jack did his best to look inconspicuous.

He always dressed nicely, when he went to “work”. Little old ladies tended to be so bloody judgmental of other people’s appearance. But if you looked proper, no one suspected you of being a crook. And so Jack always wore black jeans, a black shirt and a black jacket. He’d tried wearing a tie, too, but found that he couldn’t bind it the way it was supposed to look. On his feet were Chucks in the most boring black he could find. He’d tried wearing cowboy boots once, but he couldn’t run fast enough in those. And in his line of work speed was important. Furthermore, he always made sure to shower and shave and wash his hair before he went to the cemetery. And so, dressed as properly as he could manage, Jack went about his shady business.

When he roamed the cemetery, he always put on a very solemn expression. Sometimes he strolled along the gravel paths, pretending to look only at his feet. Occasionally he grabbed a watering can and pretended to water the flowers on a grave. And sometimes he just sat on a bench, seemingly lost in sad thoughts. Nobody noticed that he was surreptitiously watching his surroundings, always on the look-out for victims that promised good loot.

That day, Jack Slater sat on a bench enjoying the springtime sun, his legs stretched out before him. His face was hidden behind a newspaper, the Times Education Supplement unfortunately. Why did people never leave anything good like the sports pages on the bus? Still, it made a good disguise. Made him look smart and scholarly. And scholarly looking people were entirely non-threatening.

And so, while Jack was trying to make sense of an article on the higher education bubble, whatever that may be, he happened to notice a fat old lady in a camel hair coat. She was loaded down with a shovel, a rake, a watering can and a box of pansies. More importantly, she also carried a large dark brown handbag, which she clutched tightly to her chest. Surely, there was money in the bag. Perhaps even her pension. Those old birds tended to be so bloody stupid, getting their whole pension paid out in a single swoop. Still, she looked like a very promising catch indeed.

Jack watched intently over the top of his newspaper, as she stopped at a nearby grave, put down the rake, the shovel, the watering can, the pansies and finally also the large handbag. She picked up the shovel and stabbed it into the grave. The handbag was lying behind her in the grass, completely unattended.

This was the moment Jack had been waiting for. Soundlessly as a cat he crept between the gravestones, until he was directly behind the old lady and reached for the handbag. Alas, at that exact moment the old woman decided that she needed something in her handbag very desperately and reached behind her. When she did not find the bag where she had put it, she turned around and saw it in the hands of Jack Slater.

The old woman raised her shovel and opened her mouth to scream, but Jack did not wait for the shovel to come down and the scream to leave her lips. He spun around, still clutching the handbag, and ran as fast as his legs would carry him, jumping over several gravestones in the process.

“Come back, you villain,” the old woman cried after him, “There’s no money in there. There’s nothing in that bag that has any value to you.”

***

Eudora Pennington stopped in frustration, once she’d screamed herself hoarse. It was to no avail anyway. No amount of screaming would stop that punk. She slumped down in front of her husband’s grave, tears running down her cheeks, both from the exertion of screaming at the top of her lungs and from realising what she had just lost.

Mrs. Pennington’s screams might not have stopped the thief, but they did attract the attention of some other people in the vicinity and soon four or five of them were gathered around her to see if she was all right. They were all very sympathetic and completely outraged about the impunity of the thief.

A young woman dressed all in black with heavy make-up and earrings all over her face (Such a pretty girl, Eudora Pennington thought. Why did she have to disfigure herself like that?) called the police on her mobile and soon a young constable arrived to take Mrs. Pennington’s statement.

“We’ve been having a lot of thefts lately,” PC Higgins said, “We even put up signs warning the visitors.” He sighed. “You can never let down your guard these days, cause crime no longer stops at the cemetery gates. It’s a crying shame.”

Everybody agreed, from the retired mayor visiting the grave of his late wife via the Pakistani gardener to the girl all in black.

“So how much money was stolen, ma’am?” PC Higgins asked.

“Oh, he did not steal any money,” Mrs. Pennington replied. She opened her camel hair coat to reveal a pocket made from an old bedsheet sewn into the coat lining. “I always keep my money in here, ever since my Albert, god bless his soul, and I were robbed on a bus in Rome back in sixty-five.”

“That’s very clever of you,” PC Higgins said approvingly, “I wish everybody were that careful. It would certainly make our job easier. But what was in the stolen bag, ma’am?”

In spite of the situation Eudora Pennington had to smile. “You’d be surprised, Constable,” she said, “So will the thief.”

***

Still panting, Jack Slater bounded up the rickety stairs to his shabby flat. That had been too close for comfort. Damn that old bird for reaching for her handbag at the exact same moment Jack was trying to snatch it. And she’d tried to whack him with a shovel, too. So much for little old ladies being harmless.

Once inside, Jack Slater immediately flung himself onto an old green sofa and proceeded to examine his loot. The bag was dark brown, made of cheap leatherette that smelled of plastic and death. As for the design, that hadn’t been fashionable since World War II at least. Why, oh why did old people always have such ugly handbags? With all the money they were supposedly hoarding, would it kill them to spend some of it on a nice Prada or Gucci or Louis Vuitton handbag? Even an imitation, if they were real scrooges. Because there always was a market for designer handbags, real or fake, and no one ever asked where they came from. This ugly thing, however, was only good for the bin.

Well, hopefully the contents were better. So Jack opened the zipper. Immediately, a cloud of cemetery smell hit him, stronger than he’d ever experienced it before. Shit, it smelled as if something had crawled into that handbag and died.

Jack held his nose and looked inside the bag. The first thing he saw was the distinctive blue, white and orange design of an Aldi plastic bag. Probably the old bird’s groceries. He pulled out the bag and flung it rather carelessly on the sofa behind him. He would find out what he’d have for dinner tonight later. But right now, the other contents of the bag were far more interesting. So he examined the inside of the oversized bag and finally found a zipper. Side pocket. Bingo. That was where old people usually kept their money. Probably thought it was safer there. Yeah right.

But as he reached into the side pocket, all he found were two used bus-tickets and a faded library pass. No money. Jack Slater cursed and turned over that brown monstrosity of a bag. He found a lace-edged handkerchief, an imitation tortoiseshell comb, a half-empty roll of mints and a shopping list. No wallet, no chequebook, no credit card, no money. Nothing but junk. A whole day of work and all he had to show for it were some lousy groceries. Damn that old fossil.

To let out his frustration, Jack flung that hideously ugly handbag against the stained wall of his flat. Then he leaned back on the sofa and nearly landed on the plastic bag in the process. Curiously he pulled it on his lap. Might as well see what he’d have for dinner tonight. He just hoped the old lady wasn’t into health food or products for diabetics. That stuff tasted like crap. Jack should know — after all, he had eaten enough of it over the past year.

He sniffed at the bag. Whatever she’d bought, it smelled awful. Plus, she shopped at Aldi. Cheap, she was too. Still, maybe she had bought some meat, sausages maybe or perhaps even a frozen steak. There might even be a bottle of wine or, if he was extremely lucky, something harder.

His curiosity aroused, Jack reached into the plastic bag, when to his great surprise his fingertips touched something soft and fuzzy. He looked into the bag and saw nothing but thick white fur. Jack smiled. Perhaps the day’s loot was not as bad as it had seemed after all.

For there was no mistaking what the plastic bag contained. This was clearly a fur coat. Chinchilla or silver fox or something similarly luxurious by the looks of it. Of course, the market for fur coats was not what it used to be — screw those animal rights people. But a nice coat like this would still bring a good enough price. Perhaps he could even take it to one of those vintage fashion shops. Vintage was in — Jack had read it in a Fashion and Style supplement he’d found on the bus last week.

Briefly, Jack wondered why on Earth an old woman would carry a fur coat wrapped in a plastic bag around in her handbag at a cemetery on a warm and pleasant April day. Old people truly were weird.

But his attention quickly returned to more important matters, namely the loot, and so he proceeded to examine his prize. Gingerly, he reached into the plastic bag. His hand closed around the furry object to pull it out.

He held the day’s loot up to the light and immediately recoiled in horror. Disgusted, he dumped the furry thing on the floor. For there, in the middle of his fake Persian carpet lay the decomposing carcass of a furry white cat.

The End

***

That’s it for this month’s edition of First Monday Free Fiction. Check back next month, when a new story will be posted.

Check back next month, when there will be a new story available.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for October 2019

http://corabuhlert.com/2019/10/31/indie-speculative-fiction-of-the-month-for-october-2019/

http://corabuhlert.com/?p=32576

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

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some September books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, historical fantasy, dark fantasy, Asian fantasy, paranormal fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, fantasy romance, time travel romance, science fiction romance, space opera both gritty and cozy, military science fiction, dystopian fiction, Cyberpunk, sword and sorcery, fairytales, Renaissance magic, reality show demons, space pirates, space marines, bounty hunters, mercenaries, intergalactic cops, undead cops, crime-busting witches, tyrant slayers, literary characters come to life and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Star Pirate II: The Wrath of the Queen by Mia ArcherStar Pirate II: The Wrath of the Queen by Mia Archer:

Get the loot. Save the day. Get the girl.

That should’ve been Flynn’s happily ever after. It should’ve been a simple matter of selling off the haul from the greatest heist ever pulled in the civilized galaxies.

If only it were that easy.

It turns out selling off a stash of gems stolen from the most powerful and homicidal royal family in the civilized galaxies isn’t as easy as she’d thought. Sure there are plenty of fleets out there looking to take them off her hands, but they’re paying in turbolaser blasts and Flynn isn’t interested in selling at that price.

Her only hope is to get in touch with the mysterious Selevas Separtists and hope they’re stupid enough to buy her gems and paint the target on their back. The only problem? This is one rebel alliance that seems more comfy hiding out than they are in blowing shit up. What’s the most notorious pirate in the civilized galaxies to do?

Escape her mother. Strike out on her own. Get the girl.

That should’ve been Seleya’s happily ever after. All she wanted was to fade into obscurity and live her life far from the center of galactic power with the girl of her dreams.

Too bad the girl of her dreams is now the most notorious pirate the civilized galaxies has ever known!

Now she’s having the time of her life, but that life is always on the edge of ending thanks to the never ending battle fleets her mother is sending at them. Not to mention she’s discovering it’s a big adjustment going from the Selevas palace to a dingy modified pirate freighter where their idea of room service is fixing the food replicator!

A notorious pirate on the run. An exiled princess trying to find her place in this strange new world. All they have is each other, but that might just be enough to conquer galaxies!

Mementos and Memories by Cora BuhlertMementos and Memories by Cora Buhlert:

Once, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.

Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eke out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.

At a market on the tropical ocean world of Sentosa, Anjali and Mikhail come across a dagger for sale. This dagger is the signature weapon of the Imperial Shakyri Corps, and Anjali knows that no Shakyri warrior would ever willingly part with their dagger. So Anjali and Mikhail go in search of the lawful owner of the dagger and come across a long forgotten tale of forbidden love…

This is a story of 7300 words or approximately 25 print pages in the In Love and War series, but may be read as a standalone.

Forever, Lately by Linore Rose BurkardForever, Lately by Linore Rose Burkard:

1816, England
Julian St. John needs a wife. An oath to a deceased guardian must be kept. Miss Clarissa Andrews, a vexatious beauty, has dangled after him all season but he has no intention of choosing such a she-devil.

Maine, Present Day
Author Claire Channing is desperate to write a bestseller to save her failing career. She moves into her grandmother?s abandoned cottage to write the book, but a local resort baron wants to raze the place. Without the deed, the clock is ticking on how long she can stay. She thinks she’s writing St. John?s story. But when she discovers an old prayer shawl and finds herself in his Regency world, she falls in love with him, a man she thought she invented! Miss Andrews, however, is also real—and she’d rather see Julian dead than in another woman?s arms!

Claire must beat the clock to prevent a deadly tragedy, but can love beat the limits of time itself?

Half a Dream by E.P. ClarkHalf a Dream by E.P. Clark:

Magic meets mystery in a Renaissance fantasy!

The dark gods of battle are cruel and capricious, and require sacrifices worse than blood.

It’s been four years since Giacomo, bodyguard to Prince Luca of Fiori, followed his charge down into the shadowy world of forbidden magic. When Luca disappears once again, Giaco must cast aside his disbelief and delve into the world of fortune-telling and shadow-walking in order to find Luca and bring him back to safety.

And beyond that, he must face up to his own worst fears. Everyone considers Giaco to be a hero, but he is about to learn the true meaning of heroism. More than his own life depends on it.

Set in a magical world inspired by Renaissance Florence, this fantasy thriller will appeal to fans of dark and urban fantasy, as well as paranormal and occult suspense. This 35,000-word novella is the second book in the Giaco & Luca series, but can be read as a standalone.

Return to Kapteyn's Star by M.D. CooperReturn to Kapteyn’s Star by M.D. Cooper:

Tangel has decided the time is ripe for the ISF to strike out against the Hegemony. Given its significance, there is no better place to start than Kapteyn’s Star. With the Lantzer repaired, she gives the mission to Jessica and Sera. It should be a walk in the park….

 

 

 

Blink by David DelaneyBlink by David Delaney:

A thrilling prequel to the unputdownable Paragon Society Series

Fireball blasting battle-mages, shapeshifting soccer moms and a best friend who is more than happy to throw punches now and ask questions later—Wyatt Murphy is in for a supernatural thrill ride of reality-bending proportions.

If he can just avoid the school bully, survive the big dance and outrun blood-magic wielding bad guys, his night may turn out great.

Slaying a Tyrant by Mel DunaySlaying a Tyrant by Mel Dunay:

Journey to the country of Jaiya, in a world not quite like ours. Here the humans wield magical powers and fight against an Empire which seeks to enslave them, but they share their world with insect people and trollfolk, and stranger things lurk in the shadows…

Vanti would be happy to spend her life in dance and choreography, but her family chooses her as their champion in a deadly gladiators’ tournament. To save her country from enslavement, she must defeat King Obiar the Conqueror and his magical powers. But will the brooding trainer named Gurion be her guide in the battle to come…or a dangerously handsome distraction?

Note: Tyrant is meant as a standalone with a “happily ever after” ending. However, the heroes in the later books in this series are descended from Vanti and Gurion, who are also the ancestors of some of the characters in the original Jaiya series. The romance is on the sweet side, but there is some violence due to the villains’ actions and the tournament in which the main characters fight.

Humanity's Fight by J.J. GreenHumanity’s Fight by J.J. Green:

Fighting for freedom from galactic tyranny

General Cherry Lindstrom is responsible for the defense of the colony world, Concordia. This last outpost of human civilization lives under constant threat of attack from hostile aliens who claim the planet as their own.

But decades have passed since the last assault, and the colonists have grown complacent. Thanks to the effects of time dilation, only Cherry and a handful of others remember the devastation wreaked on Concordia previously.

The Concordians don’t understand the danger the colony is in. Cherry must find a way to convince them and to build effective fighting force—before it’s too late.

Two galactic civilizations. One planet. Who will win?

Kiss of Eon by Anna HackettKiss of Eon by Anna Hackett:

When the vital alliance between Earth and the Eon Empire depends on her playing war games with an arrogant, infuriating Eon warrior, what could go wrong?

Terran Captain Allie Borden has her orders. Take her ship, the Divergent, and strengthen the alliance with the Eon by carrying out training exercises with the Eon warship, the Desteron. The only problem…one annoying warrior who gets on her nerves like nobody else. Forced to work with Second Commander Brack Thann-Felis, Allie finds her diplomacy skills stretched to the limit…and her body betraying her with a white-hot desire that’s getting hard to ignore.

Brack Thann-Felis is dedicated to his ship, his warriors, and his job. Watching his parents’ disastrous marriage has ensured that he will never mate or fall in love. Working with feisty, opinionated Allie tests his patience, but the more time he spends with the dedicated captain, the more he finds he can’t stay away from her.

As mysterious, dangerous sabotage events strike their ships, it becomes evident that someone wants their alliance to fail. They might have traitors among their crew and they both know it has to lead back to their enemy—the ravenous insectoid Kantos. Soon, Brack and Allie find themselves in a fight for their lives, with only each other to depend on, and a growing desire that will not be denied.

A Fistful of Demons by Lily Harper HartA Fistful of Demons by Lily Harper Hart:

Hannah Hickok is slipping into her new life as owner of Casper Creek – a cosplay western town – and newly-minted witch. She thinks she has everything under control … until demons come calling.At first, she’s not even certain what she’s dealing with. A freak accident claims the life of a father, leaving him exposed during a sudden sandstorm, and his son’s reaction (complete with glowing red eyes) leaves a lot to be desired.Cooper Wyatt, head of security for the resort, wants to believe her when she explains what she saw but it’s not exactly easy for him. As the evidence starts to mount, though, demon possession becomes the name of the game.As a new witch, Hannah has no idea what she’s supposed to do. That doesn’t stop her from wanting to be proactive. Unfortunately for her, the emergence of new powers – coupled with the realization that something beyond a simple demon possession is going on – quickly becomes overwhelming.The workers at Casper Creek are going to have to join together – maybe even enlist some outside help – to figure out all the answers and solve the ultimate dilemma.A young boy’s life hangs in the balance and Hannah is determined to make sure she doesn’t lose an innocent soul so early in her reign as Casper Creek’s head witch. All she has to do is survive until the end and then everything will be revealed.That’s easier said than done.

Shadow Magic by Jayne HawkeShadow Magic by Jayne Hawke:

Looking for a kick-ass bounty hunter? You found her.

I’m the best at what I do. If a shifter goes feral, or a fae kills the wrong innocent, then I’ll be the one to hunt them down. It’s a dangerous gig, but I do what’s necessary to keep the roof over our heads.

Unfortunately, I’m at the bottom of the bounty hunter pay scale thanks to the need to keep my heritage hidden. If anyone ever found out what I am, and what I can do, the entire fae territories would be coming for my head. That means we live from pay cheque to pay cheque. So when the most dangerous fae in the country chooses me to help him with a case, I have no choice but to say yes.

Ethan Hale is a cu sith, one of the finest assassins in the fae territories. If he finds out what I am, he’ll have me begging for death. And yet, I accepted the job to work with him so I can figure out who’s stealing god magic and selling it. People are dying, and it’s down to us to put at end to it.

Now, I have to work alongside the sinfully-sexy fae while trying to keep my secrets under wraps. The closer we get to unravelling this mystery, the closer I am to losing everything. One wrong step and it’ll all be over.

Crown of the Sundered Empire by J.C. KangCrown of the Sundered Empire by J.C. Kang:

Only the demon in Tomas’ glass eye can save his village.

It might cost him his soul.

In a broken land where conquerors dream of empires, Tomas dreams of a day when the townsfolk won’t taunt him. After all, he’s the fishing village kid with a misshapen face.

Only the Rune vendor’s daughter treats him well. To win her heart, he relies on a quick wit and local superstitions to convince her he has Diviner’s Sight.

But if he did, he would’ve foreseen magic-fearing invaders plucking out his mismatched eye.

Or the demon trapped in the glass replacement. It reveals a world beyond human vision, while whispering temptations in his mind.

Now, with his village caught between the advancing armies of the Sun God’s mortal descendants and His Chosen People, Tomas must use a combination of calculation, cunning, and demonic insight to maneuver the forces of his world against each other—prince against prince, princess against princess, army against army—or see his home crushed forever beneath the wheels of war.

But to do so carries a dire risk.

Because using a demon could condemn your soul.

Only the Lost by Amanda M. LeeOnly the Lost by Amanda M. Lee:

Izzy Sage is settling into her new job, enjoying her new romance, and only has one thing on her mind: Choosing a new assistant to help her at Belle Isle’s death gate. All of that changes when the gate malfunctions. Instead of dragging someone over, though, it sends five people back.Years ago, a group of trainees disappeared while on a tour of the facility. There was no rhyme or reason to what happened and the higher-ups assumed they died during the malfunction. Five of them have returned though, and they haven’t aged a day.Naturally, the reaper world is buzzing with the news. Izzy, however, thinks something bigger might be going on. Her belief only becomes stronger when another creature shows up in the middle of the night and attacks.The malfunctioning gate is hiding a sinister secret, and it might just have something to do with what happened to Izzy’s parents so many years ago. Oliver has ties to the initial incident, too, and even though he knew the men way back then, he’s discombobulated by what’s happening now. When you add to that the arrival of Paris Princeton, Izzy has her hands full.Thankfully she’s not alone on the job. She has the Grimlocks to back her play … and serve as emotional sounding boards. Together, Izzy and the Grimlocks are neck deep in trouble and searching for answers. They need to find them before the unthinkable happens and they lose one of their own, because when the gate starts acting weird again, someone is going to have to cross over to the other side – face death itself – and reclaim the most valuable prize imaginable.Izzy’s life is about to take a turn. Somehow, she needs to stay on her feet to see it through. That’s easier said than done when death is your business but if anyone can make it to the other side and live to tell the tale, it’s Izzy.It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Blood Harvest by Russ LintonBlood Harvest by Russ Linton:

Hunted by Death, one man will face the forces of Hell to get back home.

Former Baltimore cop Eustace “Ace” Grant is on a quest to find lost sorcery. An apprentice shaman, Ace walks the spirit realm in search of a cure for his terminal illness.

When asked to recover a Civil War sword, Ace finds traces of a magic more potent than he’s ever experienced. Forged in England by a smith in possession of the Primal Flame, the blade had been intended for a different battle entirely – the one at the end of time.

That battle upon us, it’s up to Ace to recover the sword. Without it, the world as we know it will be plunged into a nightmare. He’ll find the sword or die trying. That is if his ghostly mentor, Atofo, will only let go of his soul…

Unfinished Business by Catherine LundoffUnfinished Business: Tales of the Dark Fantastic by Catherine Lundoff:

Haunted houses. Vengeful spirits. Wronged women. A glimpse of a grim future and a visit to a terrifying past. Step inside for a taste of nightmare, a bit of the unexpected and a touch of the weird. 12 stories by award-winning author Catherine Lundoff including:

The Mask and the Amontillado
A Splash of Crimson
Bluebeard’s Wife
Duchess
Medium Méchanique
Miss Lucy’s Glass
Cherubim
Preserves
Haunted
Home Staging, with Phantasm
Firebird
The Temporary

Unfinished Business marks the launch of Queen of Swords Press “Mini” series. These books will be shorter books that feature single author short story collections or novella length works, each grouped around a single theme or shared set of characters. Essentially, they will function like a tasting menu to introduce authors to new audiences. This particular volume represents a sample of award-winning author Catherine Lundoff’s short horror, dark fantasy and weird stories in a mix of reprint and new work.

Once Upon a Rose by Lorri MoultonOnce Upon a Rose by Lorri Mouton:

In this clean/sweet fairytale, a princess uncovers a plot against her kingdom and tries to stop it with the help of her friends.

 

 

 

 

The Brothers of Redemption by D.E. MurrayThe Brothers of Redemption by D.E. Murray:

The Journey You Start Isn’t The One You Finish

It’s 2165. The family is gone. The world is ruled by the ferociously competitive, hierarchical Council of the Brotherhood Orders. Sons are bred in cohorts created by Alphas and surrogates.

Half-brothers Jed and Max Kleer are middle-aged burnouts who share little except an Alpha and a mysterious, unbreakable bond.

When an abducted girl drops into Jed’s life, the brothers resolve to guide her home.

What could possibly go wrong?

Everything.

The journey they start won’t be the one they finish.

The Sundering by Vanessa NelsonThe Sundering by Vanessa Nelson:

Nowhere and no one is safe.

Stripped of her rank and her calling by some of her most trusted friends, Yvonne is left shocked and bleeding.

Worse is to come. Not only are children still going missing, but she learns that the death of an old friend might not have been natural.

With old friendships torn apart, Yvonne must work out who she can trust if she is to find the truth.

The Sundering continues the story started in The Gathering. If you like your fantasy with plenty of mystery and magic, and a strong heroine, you’ll want to continue this fantasy series by Vanessa Nelson.

Unseen Voices by Christine PopeUnseen Voices by Christine Pope:

Project Demon Hunters is canceled…but apparently no one told the demons.

Knowing how the horrifying events that took place while filming Project Demon Hunters shook his friend Michael Covenant to the core, Will Gordon readily says yes to Michael’s request to be ready — as a friend and as an Episcopal priest — in case psychic Rosemary McGuire calls for help.

Rosemary doesn’t know exactly why the show was canceled…other than a demon murdered the show’s producer, and the network buried every scrap of harrowing footage under a ton of hacker-proof security.

When an independent filmmaker shows up at Rosemary’s metaphysical bookshop with tantalizing clues that a backup copy of the missing footage exists, she promises Michael she’ll call some crusty old priest “in a pinch,” and begins following a trail of impossibly tiny bread crumbs.

But that trail doesn’t just lead her somewhere. It leads something to Rosemary, alarming enough that she calls Michael’s priest friend…who turns out to be way younger and heroically handsome than she could have ever anticipated. But the heat between them may be no match for the demonic fire that grows hotter and more dangerous the closer they get to the truth.

Carpe Glitter by Cat RamboCarpe Glitter by Cat Rambo:

A novelette from Cat Rambo, author of The Tabat Quartet. What do you do when someone else’s past forces itself on your own life? Sorting through the piles left behind by a grandmother who was both a stage magician and a hoarder, Persephone Aim finds a magical artifact from World War II that has shaped her family history. Faced with her mother’s desperate attempt to take the artifact for herself, Persephone must decide whether to hold onto the past–or use it to reshape her future.

 

Tetrach's Dilemma by Jaxon ReedTetrarch’s Dilemma by Jaxon Reed:

Raleigh and his crew are tasked with guarding an outlying planet from enemy incursions, when they capture an old friend off a smuggler’s ship. The possibilities for an enormous sum of gold prove tantalizing . . . if they can survive the League Navy’s attempts at eradication.

Meanwhile the frontier planet of Halcyon stretches its wings, and pulls in support from Lute to begin a new planetary alliance. And Sergeant Wilcox teams up with Julia Thrall to help soften up the Republic’s next target . . . if the Ultima Mule can successfully port them in without detection.

Don’t miss the latest installment of this action-packed space opera serial!

The Frontier by Chris TurnerThe Frontier by Chris Turner:

Two space mercenaries face down crooks and corruption in the frontier worlds of the far future.

Yul Vrean visits his home world only to get embroiled in a corporate conspiracy to cheat a ranch owner out of his estate. Regers gets caught in the crossfires of a gang war over deadly alien contraband. Two unlikely allies on a much greater mission…

 

 

Chalenge of Steel by James David VictorChallenge of Steel by James David Victor:

In a world of genetic engineering, fantastic aliens, and faster than light travel, conspiracies and the quest for unlimited power can still tear the galaxy apart.

Anders Corsigon has spent his life bringing galactic criminals to justice. When a bizarre murder turns into a string of assassinations, he has to run an off-books investigation to try and find a killer who is protected from the highest levels of the empire. In a world where genetic engineering and clones are real, he must find a truth that could cost him his life.

Challenge of Steel is the first book in the Memories of Earth space opera series. If you enjoy stories in fantastic worlds of aliens, space travel, and genetic engineering, the Memories of Earth series will be right up your alley.

The Collected A.E. WilliamsThe Collected A.E. Williams: Volume 1 by A.E. Williams:

For the first time, all A.E. Williams’ published works are available as one single volume!

This is the perfect gift for the science fiction reader, science nerd or irascible curmudgeon in your life!

Terminal Reset – The Coming of the Wave

The breakout science fiction novel that explores an alternate history where everyone one earth regresses forty years in age! Dr. David Harding and Dr. Tatania Golovonov must find a way to survive in a world gone mad! Regressed to teenagers, the two fight to find a way to reverse the effects of The Wave, a force from out of Time and Space. Filled with excitement and action, Terminal Reset will have you on the edge of your seat!

Terminal Reset – Return of the Wanderers
A strange spaceship enters the outer boundaries of the Solar System, returning from an eons long mission. But, who are the inhabitants and what do they want with Earth?

Taking place in the same universe as Terminal Reset, this story explores the implications of ancient civilizations and how they have affected our evolution. Mars isn’t just our neighbor in space! Another exciting tale for your science fiction enjoyment!

Rocket Surgeon
A.E. Williams essays on AGW, the Space Race, Hollywood and other tales to entertain and fascinate you! Get a behind the curtains peek at Relativity, rocket science, jet engine testing and other cool nerdy things that A.E. has done! Find out why the world probably won’t end tomorrow, but is sure to do so in the distant future! Travel in space and time and maybe learn a thing or two about our Universe. Climb aboard for another wild ride from the redoubtable A.E. Williams!

The Unholy Trinity Series
The infamous trilogy of cutting, biting satires that lampoon today’s headlines!

Second Coming – Jesus bets His half-brother, Lucifer that the bet God made with him regarding Job can be done, again, and better. The implications are breathtaking! Does the Big J wind up the victor? Or, does the Devil get his due?

Anno Domini – Jesus and Lucifer’s betting is getting out of hand! This time, Jesus bets that the souls of the most outstanding humans ever born can redeem Mankind from original Sin. But, there’s a catch! A Virgin Birth is part of the scheme, but maybe Jesus didn’t think everything through?

Imperius Wrecks – A satirical and humorous look at one possible future! A nightmare or a dream – you get to decide.
In the far distant future, a nun is tasked with ancient rituals descended from one man’s egotistical grasp for power and immortality. Could this really happen?

Filled with religious references, popular concerns of the day, and a cast of totally fictional characters, this satire puts a spin on current events that will have you spitting coffee all over yourself in shock, from laughing or pure unadulterated rage. You’ll be aghast at the content, the implications and the mirror held up to our world.

Come along as A.E. Williams once more pulls no punches as he slams the One Percent, Religion and Political parties of all stripes!

BLUB by Bradley WindBULB by Bradley Wind:

If light records everything we do, can even shadows hide our secrets?

Imagine your entire life is available for review.
Imagine each day any event can be watched over and over again – your birth, your first kiss, your recent shower, that private itch – all replayable from any angle. Now imagine these can be viewed by anyone at any time.

Is a world where there is far less ego, little crime, and even the smallest moments are recorded and available publicly through the ‘Grand Archive’ a Utopia or a Dystopia? Traumatized by memories he does not want to recall, artist Ben Tinthawin is recruited by the enigmatic, Grand Archive creator Dr. Mamon, who seeks help for his nextgen designs to enhance the world. Ben stumbles across a secret revealing the doctor’s true scheme in all its surreal splendor and questions whether the doctor really is the benevolent soul he claims to be.As the paths of a broken man and a brilliant revolutionary cross, the world shifts and cracks start to appear. Even our most fundamental codes can be encrypted – or corrupted. If the wrong information is discovered, more than Ben’s life will be in danger of total shut down.

Prepare yourself for full exposure.

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