Wednesday, 26 March 2014

An Interview With West of Paradise Author Marcy Hatch

I'm thrilled to have interviewed another long-term blogging friend and awesome writer, Marcy Hatch, for this week's Speculative Fiction Writer post. You probably know her by her blogging name, mainewords.

Hi Marcy. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit. Please follow me down to the seafront, where we can get ice creams and watch the waves. Don't forget your coat, though. It's still a little chilly. Here we go:

Q: What's your favourite day of the week, and why?

Mmm, yummy ice cream! Thanks! I like Saturday best because I can sleep in if I want and stay up late.

Q: If I visited you in Maine, where would you take me?

I would take you down to Pemaquid Point, which has a spectacular view, crashing surf, and an old lighthouse – very picturesque. Then we’d have to go over to Round Pond and the Anchor Inn for supper on the porch. It has a gorgeous view of the little harbour and the very best Baily’s Irish Cream Cheesecake ever. 

Q: Whenever I think of Maine, I think of Stephen King. Are you a fan?

I love Stephen King. I don’t necessarily like all his books but there are a few I like to read again (not many authors get that honor). Insomnia comes to mind, and The Stand, plus The Talisman with Peter Straub; I LOVE that book.

Q:  I see you're taking part in this year's A to Z blogging challenge. What's your theme?

My overall theme is 1881, the year my recently released book, West of Paradise, takes place. But there will also be a bit about some of my characters on the appropriate day.

Q: You've just published your first book. Can you tell us a little about it?

It’s a historical time-travel romance – Tombstone meets Romancing the Stone with a little Back to the Future mixed in.

Q: Would you like to share an extract?

Love to. This is the scene when Jack and Katherine first meet. He thinks she’s Alanna McLeod, a deadly but beautiful train robber who almost killed him…

“Who are you anyway? What do you mean by bursting into my room?”
“Jack McCabe, bounty hunter. Ring any bells?”
“What are you talking about?” She gave him the look she gave to people who had nothing she wanted to hear.
“Never mind,” he said. “I don’t have time to waste words with you. You and I are going on a little trip and then I’m going to collect my reward for bringing you in.”
“Then I suggest you think twice,” Katherine said, her gaze narrowing. “I’m not going anywhere with you. I don’t know who you think I am, but I can tell you right now there is no reward being offered for me. For Heaven’s sake, I just got into town!”
“Oh, really?” He drew out an old poster from his pocket, unfolding it before he threw it at her.
Katherine caught it and gave a little cry of dismay, seeing a face that looked exactly like hers.

Q: If you could go back in time to any era, which would it be?

The Regency – as long as I was a younger daughter of someone fabulously wealthy. Interesting times, not too much pressure to marry, gorgeous clothes.

Q: West of Paradise is published with WiDo publishing. How have you found the experience of working with a small press publisher?

Easy. I had a great editor and she made so many helpful suggestions and comments. I can’t say enough about her – thank you Amy McCracken!

Q: What is the number one piece of advice you'd give to someone considering submitting to WiDo or another small press?

It’s the same advice I’d give to anyone considering submitting anywhere.  Make sure you’ve revised your work and gotten lots of feedback from multiple critique partners. And practice – a lot!

Thank you Ellie for having me here today. It was fun :)

West of Paradise blurb

Katherine Kennedy has it all; she’s beautiful, she’s wealthy, and she’s engaged to the perfect man: Antonio D'Salvatore. There’s just one problem. She can’t marry him. Worse yet, she has no idea why. All she knows is there is suddenly nothing she wants, not Antonio, or any of the other hundred thousand things money can buy.

Jack McCabe comes home from the war with a pretty medal and a lot of ugly pictures in his head. He has little in the way of possessions, less in the way of wealth, nowhere to go and no one to go anywhere with. All he has is a vague sense of discontent, a restlessness that will not abate.

Separately, they are drawn to Paradise Tours on the privately owned Cristobel Island. There they meet Louis Cade, a man who offers them the unimaginable, something neither can quite believe until they actually find themselves over 125 years in the past, 1881 to be exact.

For Jack McCabe it’s the adventure he always dreamed of – until he meets a beautiful but deadly train robber. Katherine can't believe an ignorant bounty hunter has mistaken her for a criminal – until she sees the picture, which looks exactly like her.

You can find out more about West of Paradise and Marcy here.

Thank you, Marcy. I really want to visit you in Maine. It sounds like heaven. I loved the excerpt. I'm a big fan of time travel and westerns, so I know I'll enjoy West of Paradise.

That's it for this week. I'll be back on April 1st, when this year's A to Z blogging challenge starts. I'll be participating via my writing group, Untethered Realms. I can't wait to begin.

Monday, 24 March 2014

The Backworlds Book 5: Worlds on Edge

Today is the official release date for Worlds on Edge, Book 5 of M Pax's thrilling space opera series, The Backworlds. If you haven't started reading this series yet, I highly recommend it. You'll wish you'd started it earlier.

War is coming. A horde of merciless aliens poise just beyond the Edge. In a matter of weeks they will devour the worlds.

Racing ahead of the apocalypse, Craze returns to the Backworlds to warn them and plan a defense. Only he can’t go home. Banned from Pardeep Station, he must wage a more urgent battle. His moon is under siege, and his friends are dying.

Bad things come in threes, and the galaxy is no exception. An old enemy returns, attacking moons and defenseless globes, leaving a wake of destruction. Worse than that, they threaten to join forces with the alien horde.

Defeat seems inevitable. Craze may not be able to stop it. Yet home is worth the fight.

About The Backworlds

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendants to survive in a harsh universe. The first book in the series is FREE as an ebook. Available in all formats for all ereaders. Also available in paperback and coming soon to audio.

M. Pax is author of the sci-fi series, The Backworlds, and the new adult urban fantasy Hetty Locklear series. A Browncoat and SG fan, she’s also slightly obsessed with Jane Austen. In the summers she docents as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory where the other astronomers now believe she has the most extensive collection of moon photos in existence. No fear, there will be more next summer. She lives in stunning Central Oregon with the Husband Unit and two lovely, spoiled cats. Website

Have you read The Backworlds yet?

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

An Interview With Science Fiction & Fantasy Romance Author Susan Gourley

This week's Speculative Fiction Writer is long-time blogging and talented writing friend, Susan Gourley. She agreed to answer a few of my more probing questions, and survived the experience.

Hi Susan. Thank you for dropping by. Please take a seat and help yourself to a refreshing cup of tea and one of my rock cakes. Here we go:

Q: Which three words best describe you?

I’m so happy to be here on this cold, rainy day. My three words: Organized, multi-tasker and focused.

Q: If I came to your house for dinner, what would you cook me?

You would get a chance at my crockpot Mac-n-Cheese with bacon. It’s my kids’ favourite.

Q: What is your favourite non-writing pastime?

Like most writers, I love to read first and foremost, but I also enjoy baking, jogging, jigsaw puzzles, cross-stitch and working outside.

Q: Do you collect anything other than books?

Not one thing. I resist clutter of any sort. Whenever something is missing at our house, the family accuses me of giving it away.

Q: Star Trek or Star Wars?

Definitely Trek and I love the latest ones with Chris Pine.

Q: You write both science fiction and fantasy romance. Do you have any crossover readers or do you have two distinct groups of readers?

I have friends and family who read all my stuff but I’m not sure if my readers follow from genre to genre. I hope they do.

Q: I love science fiction. Would you like to share an extract from Marine's Queen with us?

Callie froze. What had she been thinking? Her earlier perceptions of the marines rose to haunt her. Lab creations. At the very least, he was a man she would leave behind as soon as an opportunity arose.
Joe’s arms loosened and then dropped away. He looked a bit dazed and certainly confused.
Guilt flooded Callie. She’d led him on, driven by her lust and loneliness. She was cruel, just as he’d accused her. And selfish. She knew herself as a woman plain in appearance with a figure too full and large for fashion. It flattered her to have a handsome man like Joe lusting for her.  For her and not her throne or her special gifts.
“I don’t know why you let me kiss you, Lady Callie.” Joe backed away. “Are you playing at some game for your own amusement? You may question my origins and my humanity, but I’m a man. I have a man’s desires and a man’s needs. Don’t offer to satisfy them unless you mean it.”
He stalked back to camp. Callie rubbed her arms against a chill caused by more than the setting of the sun. She didn’t fear Joe or his needs. She feared her own carnal urges. It wasn’t just his body or pretty face that drew her toward him. Was it gratitude? No.
In her duty as ruler of Giroux, she’d met many men in leadership positions. Some were labeled heroes, noble, honorable, or great statesmen for their people. For the first time in her thirty-three years, Callie felt she really understood the true meaning of nobility and honor. They were titles to be earned.
Honor was walking away from a woman who you believed would regret her actions if you took what she offered. Nobility was sharing the last drop of your water with a stranger in the desert.
Callie took a deep breath and let it out slow. She was a queen. It was time she started to act like one.

Q: Where do you write?

I have an entire room for my office with two desks put together to form an el shape. Everything is right at my fingertips. I love it but the door doesn’t lock. My family intrudes all the time.

Q: What is the best piece of writing advice you've been given?

Someone told me early on to always be working on the next project. Don’t wait to hear back from and editor or agent, get the next book started.

Thanks for having me here today, Ellie.

My blog: Susan Says

Twitter: @SusanKelley

Facebook: Susan Gourley

Thank you, Susan. I loved the extract. I'm certainly hooked. I had to laugh when you mentioned about clutter, I'm probably the opposite. I don't have loads of possession because I live in a small flat, but I do have lots of science fiction memorabilia and other items. I hate throwing anything away. I guess we are all different.

That's it for this week. I'll be back on Monday. Have an awesome rest of the week.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Stephen Tremp's Escalation Blog Tour: Women of Science and Science Fiction

I'm especially thrilled to be hosting Stephen Tremp today. He released Escalation, the final installment of The Adventures of Chase Manhatten on Monday. He's currently rocking the blogosphere with his Escalation Blog Tour and National Wormhole Week. Over to you, Stephen.

Women of Science and Science Fiction

Scores in math, reading and science posted by 15-year-olds in the United States were flat while their counterparts elsewhere — particularly in Shanghai, Singapore and other Asian provinces or countries — soared, according to the results of a well-regarded international exam released Tuesday.

While U.S. teenagers were average in reading and science, their scores were below average in math, compared to 64 other countries and economies that participated in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA. That pattern has not changed much since the PISA test was first given in 2000. Reference.

So We Have Some Work To Do: Wow! Reading and writing. The foundations of any 21st century society. There are many obstacles in our path trying to prevent us from moving forward. Time and space permits me to going into as why. So let’s focus on some positives that can inspire us to regroup and push forward to greater things like cures for sicknesses that have plagues us for generations. And reaching for the stars. Literally. Women from the past and present can inspire the women of tomorrow.

Did You Know: The Nobel Prize and Prize in Economic Sciences have been awarded to women 45 times between 1901 and 2013

Marie Skłodowska-Curie: Physicist and chemist who was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, in two fields no less, and in multiple sciences. She was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris.

Dr. Sally Rider: a physicist, joined NASA in 1978 at the age of 32. She was  the youngest American astronaut to travel to space. 

Lisa Randall: 2007, Randall was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential under the section for "Scientists & Thinkers". Randall was given this honor for her work regarding the evidence of a higher dimension. (Alrighty then, author of this post’s comments)

Bonus: Who said women can’t write Sci-fi classics ... not me. Science Fiction classics written by women:

Frankenstein: Mary Shelley. Many consider this the first Sci-fi classic.

The Hunger Games: Suzanne Collins. Need we say more?

The Empire Strikes Back: Leigh Brackett. She wrote the script for the George Lucas classic.

And far too many classics to mention. But it is certainly worth Googling famous female authors of Science Fiction.

So if you have a daughter, granddaughter, niece, student, or the like, take a moment to communicate to them a vision that is bigger than what they currently have.

Stephen Tremp is the author of the Breakthrough series. Together, Breakthrough, Opening, and Escalation follow the lives of the unlikely participants from innocence to a coming of age through sacrifice, betrayal, passion, lust, unconditional love, and hope. Escalation will appeal to fans of modern-day science fiction, action, horror, and even romance.

Stop by Stephen’s Blog for more information on the Breakthrough series. 

And to download Escalation: The Adventures of Chase Manhattan CKICK HERE.

Congratulations on your release, Stephen.

I agree with focusing on the positives and using them to inspire and educate our younger generations. I could add many more examples to those you've given, with Anne McCaffrey and astronaut Judith Resnik, who is sadly no longer with us, being my first thought. I'm sure anyone reading this blog post will have their own.

That's it for this week. Happy reading and writing, my friends.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

An Interview With Romantic Science Fantasy Writer Matthew Graybosch

If you are looking for my National Wormhole Week post, please click here.

As I've said before, I love my weekly Speculative Fiction Writer post because I sometimes get to discover new writers and hopefully make new friends. This week I had the pleasure of interviewing another new writer, Matthew Graybosch.

Hi Matthew. Welcome to my little corner of the world. Please take a seat and make yourself comfortable. Here we go:

Q: Are you a morning or evening person?

A: Definitely a night person. If I wanted to wake up at the crack of dawn every day, I might have pursued a military career.

Q: If I visited you during your day job, what would I find you doing?

A: You'd find me standing in my cubicle, with my keyboard, trackball, and one of the two displays connected to my workstation propped up on a side table I bought from IKEA for ten bucks. The other display sits on the shelf built into my cubicle.

I started standing at work a couple of years ago when I realized that sitting all day at work was making it difficult for me to stand or walk when I needed to. So now I stand and work for an hour or two at a time. It makes shopping trips with my wife easier.

Q: What is your biggest grammar peeve?

A: I think this is more of a usage issue than a grammar issue, but I hate it when people say "you need to" do something instead of "I need you to" or "Would you please" do something. It's inaccurate, since desire on one person's part does not constitute need on my part. Moreover, it's rude.

Q: On your website, A Day Job and a Dream, you say, 'You too can write a novel on your lunch break'. Is that possible?

A: I did it twice. Sometimes I only manage 500 words a day, but as I pointed out in a recent blog post on the subject, 500 words for 200 days will give you a 100,000 word novel. It adds up.

The first time was a 289,000 word draft of Starbreaker that I finished in May 2009. I sat on it for a while before I started revision. However, revision fell by the wayside for a couple of years due to demands from work.

I started rewriting Starbreaker again in 2011, and posted snippets on Google+. This brought me to the attention of Lisa Gus of Curiosity Quills Press, who wanted to publish it as a serial.

When I started sending in chapter drafts, CQ decided instead to offer me a contract to publish Starbreaker in three or four volumes. I had my titles within 15 minutes:

  • Without Bloodshed (published on 17 November 2013)
  • The Blackened Phoenix (in progress)
  • Proscribed Construct (in preparation)
  • A Tyranny of Demons (in preparation)

 I wrote Without Bloodshed the same way I did the original Starbreaker: a little bit at a time: on lunch breaks, after work, and on weekends. I did the edits and revisions in similar fashion, and now I'm three chapters into The Blackened Phoenix.

Q: The cover for Without Bloodshed is stunning. Who created your cover art, and how much of a creative input did you have?

 A: Ricky Gunawan did the artwork for Without Bloodshed. I had more input than many authors get.

CQ originally wanted to pair me with another artist, but she specialized in photo-manipulation covers more typical to paranormal romance and urban fantasy. It wasn't right for Starbreaker.

Fortunately, the marketing department decided that a high-concept cover might work better sales-wise, so I suggested a cover based on a tattoo most Adversaries get to represent the ideals of liberty, justice, and equality they uphold by diplomacy and force of arms.

Q: Would you like to share an extract with us?

A: Since Amazon provides samples of Without Bloodshed, how about a preview of the next Starbreaker novel, The Blackened Phoenix?

Josefine Malmgren stared at the code on her screen, wishing the junior developer responsible wasn't sitting beside her where he might see her rub her forehead. Her headache radiated from between her eyebrows, directly above the bridge of her nose. Instead, she turned her chair towards him, and pushed it back half a meter. "Wei, what were you thinking when you coded this class?"

"I needed cryptographic functionality, so I implemented it. What's the problem?"

Josefine yielded to the pain, and rubbed her forehead. It only helped on a psychological level. "Wei, I was able to crack the encryption you implemented without an AI's help. How did you test this?"

"That's not my job."

What would Claire do? Oh, wait. Assuming she wasn't too sensible to take a job obligating her to babysit apprentice developers barely capable of distinguishing between a compiler and a Cuisinart, she'd probably be halfway through ripping this kid a new asshole already. But he's only sixteen. I suppose I should be gentle. Rather than emulate her old friend, Josefine forced herself to take a deep breath and count down from two hundred and fifty-five in base sixteen before speaking again. "Wei, you're an apprentice, and you might not know better, so listen carefully. Testing your own code is part of your job, and it's more important than writing the code. Now, what do you think would happen if we let this code into production versions of Aesir OS?"

To the boy's credit, he provided the correct answer immediately. "Any hardware using my code would be vulnerable." He glanced down at his feet for a moment. "I'm sorry, ma'am. How hard will it be to roll back this changeset?"

Josefine shrugged. "That's not your problem. Instead, you're going to study the existing Aesir OS code, and the libraries we use. Under no circumstance are you to write so much as a comment. In fact, you are reassigned to the testing team effective ninety seconds ago. Instead of making life harder for everybody else, you're going to test everybody else's code. Now get out of my office."

"I already rolled back that code." Hephaestus, the AI in charge of building code from AsgarTech's various software projects, appeared on Josefine's screen and spoke as soon as a slump-shouldered Wei closed the office door behind him. "Don't you think you were a bit hard on the kid?"

"Maybe." Josefine rubbed her forehead again, found her bottle of aspirin, and chased two pills down her throat with a gulp of tepid coffee from a mug her friend Claire gave her for their last Winter Solstice at university. It was black, and had RTFM emblazoned upon it in bold white type. "I'm tired, and while my code might not be suffering, it's showing in how I interact with people."

"Then why not take some time off?"

"We're right up against the deadline. Since I rooted out that shit Wei injected into the code base, we might finally get acceptable results. I can slow down after we get the prototype activated."

"You said that after the last milestone, and found a reason to keep working."

"Now you sound like Claire. I get enough of that nonsense from her. Would you mind starting the AesirOS build and copying the new version to Aldebaran, Betelguise, and Rigel while I get dinner? Leaving the office for a couple hours might do me some good."

"Of course, Dr. Malmgren. If you don't mind, I heard from some of the other developers that a new restaurant called Memison's opened nearby, and they supposedly make excellent fish dinners."

Josefine nodded as she wrapped herself in her heavy navy wool cloak, a relic from her university live-action role-playing days. It was warmer than her pea coat, and it concealed her overtime-ravaged figure. "Thanks, but maybe next time. I was in the mood for an Agni Burger tonight."

The Agni Burger franchise three blocks from the AsgarTech Building was too crowded for Josefine's liking. She ordered her dinner to go, trailing the aroma of fresh ground lamb with goat cheese wrapped in naan, hot basmati rice, and Indian spices behind her as she returned to her office.

She started the AesirOS test runs on the virtual machines before unpacking her dinner and nuking it. As she began to eat, a notification chimed a request for her attention. She let it wait, and took some time to indulge in an opportunity to catch up on one of her favorite comics. After another installment in the adventures of a vampire-killing rock musician named Eddie Van Helsing, she checked the waiting notification. She thrust her fist skyward in celebration; AesirOS finally passed all of the initial tests.

Now the Project Aesir virtual machines would begin the real tests: a century of simulated life compressed into a few short hours. If the virtual personalities created by the tests exhibited no signs of psychosis, or any other form of mental illness that might make them a danger to themselves and others, then Josefine would begin the next phase. I might activate Polaris tonight, if everything goes well.

The Agni Burger's spices lingered on Josefine's tongue, warming her as she spread out the Japanese-style futon she kept for late nights on the job. She curled up on it, kicking off her shoes and wrapping herself in her wool cloak because she forgot to get blankets to go with the futon. She set her implant to poll the test machines while she slept. She would wake when the tests were finished.

"Oi, Josefine! Wake up and smell the napalm!"

Josefine opened her eyes and glanced up. "Claire?"

"Who the bloody hell did you think it would be, Josse? Were you expecting the Spanish Inquisition?"

Josefine struggled out of her cloak and retrieved the tablet from her purse. Activating the screen, she found an annoyed-looking Claire in an old Crowley's Thoth t-shirt wearing a headset with an attached microphone staring back at her through video chat. "I was expecting to get some sleep while these damn tests run. What's the problem?"

"Well, Josefine, I was expecting you to join me for some Ultraviolence. You know how I play. I need somebody to cover me while I rush the enemy."

Josefine blinked, wracking her brain for a moment before recollection finally came. "Oh, shit, Claire! I'm sorry. With all the overtime I work lately, I forgot all about it."

Claire removed her headset, and dragged her fingers through a mass of curls dyed the same red as a New York fire engine. "That's what you said last week, Josse. Not to mention the three times before that. I held my tongue yesterday while you worked on Winter fucking Solstice, but I'm done."

Josefine opened her mouth to protest, to insist upon the importance of her work at AsgarTech, but Claire pressed on. "I'm the last real friend you have, and I'm not going to give up on you, but you're really starting to get on my tits. It's not about the bloody game. You're killing yourself at that job, and showing classic signs of impending burnout. If you make it necessary for me to come down there, I swear by Xiombarg's favorite strap-on I'm packing Cluebringer so I can have a little chat with your boss."

"Dammit, Claire, we might as well date if you're going to complain about the time I spend at work." Josefine instantly regretted her words, which she hurled in frustration with her friend over yet another interruption-packed day working for the AsgarTech Corporation. Though her remark was rude, she feared Claire's response for other reasons. Nor did she want Claire coming to her workplace and brandishing the cricket bat she painted black and used as a threat to people whose foolishness annoyed her.

Claire flashed a coquettish smile and fluffed her hair on the other side of the video call they shared between London and AsgarTech headquarters in the domed Antarctic city of Asgard. "Really, Josse? You finally realized we belong together? Give me an hour to get ready, and I'll take the first maglev out."

"No, it's not like that." Josefine flushed at Claire's teasing, a staple of their friendship since their university days. A year older than Josefine, and almost her exact opposite in personality, Claire instantly took to her and became the friend she wished for as an introverted, awkward girl growing up in Stockholm. "God, you're such an incorrigible flirt. Aren't you seeing somebody?"

"You mean Sarah? She needs the sort of help I'm not experienced in providing to human beings. She got hurt in Boston, and she's convinced her scars make her repulsive. Utter bollocks, of course." Claire leaned forward, adopting a conspiratorial whisper. "After all, you remember the lads I used to bring back to our room at university."

"I saw more of them than I care to recall." Josefine recalled one young man in particular, whose slight build enhanced his overgenerous endowment. He left Claire sore, and unrepentant, for a week. "So she needs therapy. Are you going to stick with her, or just keep her in the rotation?"

Claire shrugged. "When do I stick with anybody, Josse? Seriously, though, what the hell are you doing at AsgarTech that demands these crazy hours? I'm ready to report the company to the Phoenix Society for worker exploitation on your behalf."

Josefine shuddered at the thought of AsgarTech, and her patron Isaac Magnin, being reported to the Phoenix Society. "I'm not getting pressured to work late, Claire, but I have responsibilities."

"So do I, but you don't see me living in a bloody office. What makes Project Aesir so demanding?"

"It's not Project Aesir. It's the people. I'm one of the few women holding a senior position in this company, and it feels like the men reporting to me are utterly bereft of anything resembling a clue." She glanced at Zero, the coal-black kitty emulator curled up on the desk beside her. He was the prototype for AsgarTech's EmCat product line, which Josefine helped develop in her first year at the company as an experiment in creating small, mobile AIs. The company considered stripping speech from the production models because of Zero's tendency towards profanity, but instead chose personality tweaks intended to make the cats more polite. "I bribe this furry bastard to guard my office door and stop intruders, but he never stays bought."

Zero rolled over, exposing the white patch on his belly, which Josefine called his creamy filling. "Fuck you, mommy. Gimme a belly rub."

"How do you put up with a cat capable of backtalk?"

"All cats are capable of backtalk. At least Zero and the other EmCats speak English."

"In his case, that's not a plus."

Zero hissed, and tapped at Josefine's tablet to disconnect the video call. "Who does that reject from a Heinlein fanfic think she is?"

Josefine used her forearm to shove Zero off the desk before calling Claire again. While her tablet renegotiated the connection, she scooped Zero up and exiled him from the office. "If you can't be polite to my friends, then go make yourself useful. Catch some mice or something."

"Oh, I'll catch some mice, mommy. And I'll leave what's left on your pillow."

"I love you too. Go play."

Josefine closed the door behind her, and found Claire waiting. "Seriously, Josse, why work at AsgarTech, where you can't even do your real work during normal hours because management can't give you the privacy you need? Not to mention that furry little monster you created. I know Isaac Magnin's your patron, but didn't you put in your time? Why do you care so much about building the most expensive stunt double in history?"

Josefine winced, stung by Claire's dismissal of her work. The Project Aesir specs included advanced self-repair capabilities, and it proved a simple matter to extend the functionality to provide self-alteration. The same subsystems that permitted an AI equipped with a Project Aesir body to repair itself also allowed such AIs to tailor their bodies to match their self-image. The code that allowed existing AIs to transfer into a Project Aesir body also allowed them to back up their memory and personality for transfer to a new body should the original be destroyed.

Josefine regarded the additional features as a major accomplishment, and her pride in her work demanded she rebuke her friend. "I know you like your little jokes, but Project Aesir matters. So many AIs feel trapped in their host machines. I'm working to give them the freedom and mobility we take for granted. I get to work with Dr. Magnin, and help him." Josefine flushed as she spoke. Why do I always get flustered talking about Isaac?

"You're blushing, Josse-cat." Claire paused, and shook her head. "Oh, I get it now. You're infatuated with Im-- Isaac Magnin."

"I am not." Claire constantly teased Josefine about Magnin, and despite her protests, she doubted she would say no if he were to invite her to his penthouse at the top of the AsgarTech building for a nightcap. Surely his competence and patience follow him to the bedroom. "Oh, fuck it. Maybe I am a little. He's a genius, he's beautiful, and I feel safe around him. Is that so bad?"

Claire fell silent for a minute. "No, it's not so bad. Just be careful, all right? I can't tell you everything, but you don't know Magnin as well as you think you do. I think he's the sort of man whose secrets make him dangerous."

"Is this because he's a 'white-haired bishounen'?" Josefine used the phrase Claire habitually applied to Magnin, which she claimed was a particularly untrustworthy character archetype in Japanese pop media. Because beautiful platinum-haired men usually proved villainous in anime and manga, Claire insisted upon distrusting Isaac Magnin. "And what were you about to call him before you caught yourself?"

Claire shook her head and flashed a coy smile. "Like I said, Josse, I can't tell you everything or the beautiful raven-haired man who makes me feel safe will kick my ass. Just be careful, all right?"

Q: Do you have a favourite character from Without Bloodshed. If so, why?

A: It's a big cast, so it wouldn't be fair to play favorites. I like different characters for different reasons. With that said, I have to be careful about the ladies stealing the show. I gave Naomi, Claire, Ashtoreth, Thagirion, and the others big personalities, and it can be a challenge to balance them with the men.

Then there's Isaac Magnin. He was the first character I created, because I wanted to write a better, more complex and compelling villain than any I'd read in fantasy the late 1990s. I wanted to create an alternative to dark lords and evil wizards hungry for world domination. He already rules the world, and he's trying to save it. It's hard not to make a hero out of him.

Q: What are your writing plans for the future?

A: I mean to finish The Blackened Phoenix, and write the rest of Starbreaker: Proscribed Construct and A Tyranny of Demons. I'm also thinking of dabbling in NA fiction, with an adventure from Naomi Bradleigh's youth. Given time, I could write an entire alternate history of the world around Starbreaker.

“All who threaten me die.”
These words made Morgan Stormrider’s reputation as one of the Phoenix Society’s deadliest IRD (Individual Rights Defense) officers. He served with distinction as the Society’s avenger, hunting down anybody who dared kill an Adversary in the line of duty. After a decade spent living by the sword, Morgan seeks to bid a farewell to arms and make a new life with his friends as a musician.
Regardless of his faltering faith, the Phoenix Society has a final mission for Morgan Stormrider after a dictator’s accusations make him a liability to the organization. He must put everything aside, travel to Boston, and prove he is not the Society’s assassin. He must put down Alexander Liebenthal’s coup while taking him alive.
Despite the gravity of his task, Morgan cannot put aside his ex-girlfriend’s murder, or efforts to frame him and his closest friends for the crime. He cannot ignore a request from a trusted friend to investigate the theft of designs for a weapon before which even gods stand defenseless. He cannot disregard the corruption implied in the Phoenix Society’s willingness to make him a scapegoat should he fail to resolve the crisis in Boston without bloodshed.
The words with which Morgan Stormrider forged his reputation haunt him still.
PURCHASE LINK - link automatically redirects to the appropriate Amazon site based on the reader's country.



Matthew Graybosch is a Romantic science fantasy novelist from New York who codes for a living. He’s also a gamer, a long-haired metalhead, and a geek who passes for normal by not talking about the nerdy stuff that excites him. He lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife, two cats, and a bicycle that nags him whenever he doesn’t meet his daily word count. He’s hard at work on the next Starbreaker novel.

Thank you, Matthew. That was an enthralling extract. Another book to add to my TBR pile. I admire your work ethic and commitment in writing every day. If someone wants something badly enough, they will find a way. And you did!

I'll be back on Friday, when Stephen Tremp will be travelling through a wormhole, bringing his Escalation Blog Tour with him.

Monday, 10 March 2014

2014 National Wormhole Week

It's that time of the year I get super-excited about - it's wormhole time. Thanks to Stephen Tremp, I get to release my inner geek. Before I start, I have a special anniversary to share with you today.

This time a year ago my first book, Passing Time: Nine Short Tales of the Strange and Macabre, was launched. What a year it's been. The response to Passing Time was overwhelmingly positive. I've been touched by just how many people, some I knew and some I did not, loved my tales and emailed me to say so or left reviews to let me know how much they enjoyed it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has read, reviewed, and supported me during my first adventure into indie publishing.

Now back to my inner geek. 

To celebrate the release of Escalation, Stephen Tremp is co-hosting the Second Annual National Wormhole Blogfest with Alex J Cavanaugh and L. Diane Wolf. This year's theme is to write about one thing where science advances mankind, and one thing where the science will go to far and set mankind back.

I'm choosing one advance for both, the Internet. 

The Internet is one of the greatest technological advances of the 20th Century. An information highway that connects people and institutions from all over the world. With the tapping of a few keys you can be looking up anything from making your favourite cocktail to that strange ailment you been afflicted with, or converse with people of all ages, walks of life, and from all parts of the world. Never have we as a society been so connected. 

But there is a price to pay. Stalking, trolling, bullying, con-artists, pedophilia, to name just a few. They are not the only dangers. As we live our lives increasingly online or attached to our social media apps, we are in danger of loosing the real-life connections with the people who surround us. Ever been annoyed when someone repeatedly looked at their mobile phone while you were supposed to be watching a film together? Ever found out something serious about a member of your family via Facebook? 

While I love the Internet and all the benefits it brings, I think we need to guard against it taking over our lives so completely we run the risk of losing what keeps our society cohesive and functioning.

What are your feelings about the Internet? Do you think that the advances out way the risks, or vice versa?

That's it for today. Congratulations to Stephen on his release. He'll be guesting here this Friday as part of his Escalation Blog Tour, when he'll be discussing Women of Science and Science Fiction. Don't forget to call back.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Cover Reveals From Stephanie Beerden & Sharon Bayliss

I love it when I get to reveal not one but two stunning book covers on the same day. A huge congratulations to both authors. I'm looking forward to reading both books.


The Lost Kingdom by Stephanie Beerden
(The Elements Series #1)
Publication date: May 28th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult


A Prophecy made long ago, announced the arrival of the new Ladies of Elements.

And now almost a millennia later, it finally came true …

All her life Arima thought she knew who and what she was. That is until the day of her sixteenth birthday came and her world is turned upside down, when she’s told she’s not a White Witch but Lady Spirit. And that she is the one that has been foretold, will unite the Five Ladies of Elements once again and save Ilendia and the Other Lands from Ahriman, the Demon King.

At first Arima refuses to accept her new fate, but when Shanums come and destroy her village and kill her loved ones, she has no choice but to flee and fall right into the destiny she never wanted.

As she grudgingly starts her journey into the unknown, she is accompanied by her unicorn familiar Sirrim, Blythe, a Vampire with a dark past and Myrddin, a mysterious Ljosalfar.

And the longer her journey lasts, the more Arima begins to realise that she can’t escape her own destiny and she must learn to control her powers and learn to be a Lady for the sake of the Sisters she doesn’t know and the people of Ilendia and the Other Lands.

However, things get more complicated when Arima comes into the possession of a key. Her instincts compel her to go towards danger when she discovers that the key she holds, can unlock the legendary kingdom of Eléssima, the home of the Ladies of Elements.

She will have to make the choice to follow her instincts …

…or stay on the path that has been laid out for her.


Stephanie Beerden was born on Friday the 13th (no joke, she really was) in a small city called Genk and has always been fascinated with the occult, magic and books. Her childhood and teen years were filled with reading lots and lots of books and imagining what life would be like as a Vampire. Until one day she decided that she wanted to try her hand at writing her own books and that was the beginning of her writing adventure.

Her first book is a YA Fantasy called De Elementen – Het Verloren Koninkrijk and after many, many trials and tribulations, one small Dutch Publisher, named Jaylen Books decided “Hey, let’s give this girl a shot”. Her second book De Elementen – Archandir has recently been published by same publisher and she couldn’t be happier about that.

Stephanie hopes to keep writing as long as she can and already has several writing projects in the works for the future.

Author links: Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Author Sharon Bayliss is thrilled to share the cover for Destruction (Book One of The December People Series), a family drama about dark wizards living in Houston.

Message from Sharon Bayliss:

"The butterfly will show up on the cover of all four books in the series, as a symbol of redemption, hope, and re-birth. Despite the dark themes in the series, I believe that the most important themes of the series are hopeful ones, such as love, family, and triumph against adversity, which is why the butterfly is in the center.

The broken glass surrounding the butterfly rather obviously symbolizes the concept of destruction, which is also a central theme. The title Destruction refers to the fact that dark magic is inherently destructive, but also refers to how a person can be destroyed, in body or soul.

One thing I was sure of, I wanted the word, Destruction, to be in "pretty" letters. I loved the contrast of having a dark and violent word look beautiful. This also fits the theme, as I wish to show the beauty in darkness and destruction, and the good in people who are supposed to be evil."

Here is the blurb for Destruction, coming out 4/14/14:

David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice.

Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without.

Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David's wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children.

Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.

Add this to your Goodreads list:
Destruction (Book One of The December People Series)

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If you're a book blogger or reviewer, you can also sign up to be part of the blog tour and/or get a free ARC: CLICK HERE

Wow. Two awesome covers. That's it for this week. I'll be back on Monday, when I'm participating in National Wormhole Week. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

An Interview With Multi-genre Author, Katharina Gerlach

Before I introduce this week's Speculative Fiction Writer, I have some news to share. Firstly, I'm over at Untethered Realms talking about World Book Day. Please drop by and help celebrate what is an important day in the world's calendar. Secondly, my close friend Rachel Morris has started blogging again after a long break. I'd love it if you could drop by and give her some encouragement. I know she would really appreciate it.

Back to Speculative Fiction Writer. This week I have the pleasure of introducing a new writing friend, Katharina Gerlach.

Hi Katharina. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit with me. Pull up a chair and take a seat. Don't forget to help yourself to some light refreshments. Here we go:

Q: Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, and what do you do when you're not writing?

Not writing? As any author can tell you that's not part of the job description. Even if I'm not sitting on my keyboard or scribbling in a notebook, I'm writing. I create worlds, hold interviews with my characters, listen to their complaints (yes they do become quite real for me given enough time), plan the next few scenes and more. My kids always chide me for being so absent minded.

Oh yea, about me… I'm a studied forester from Germany with an insatiable hunger for good, fast paced stories. Since I couldn't find enough at affordable prices, I began writing and publishing my own. I even do have an agent, but German publishers are a little too scared about the eBook revolution to take on projects without a clearly defined genre (and YA is NOT a genre in Germany).

Q: If I came to visit, what would I find on your bookshelves?

My private ones? Lots and lots of mythology, fairly tales, fantasy and science fiction, crime stories and even more childrens and Young adult books. My favourites are the stories by Diana Wynne Jones (I'm trying to write as imaginative stories as she did), Astrid Lindgren (I try to make my characters as likeable as hers) and Neil Gaiman (I'm trying to create worlds as intriguing as his).

 Q: If you could describe yourself using a punctuation mark, which would you be and why?


I always question everything. There's no word leading to more interesting discoveries then "Why…"

Q: What is your favourite writing quote?

O dear, there are so many good ones, I don't think I can settle on one. I've got a whole database filled with them. These are currently my favourites:

1. You cannot rewrite an empty page. (NaNoWriMo participant 2011)
2. If you follow all the instructions you will miss all the fun. (Kathrine Hebburn)
3 Anybody can make the simple complicated. Writing is making the complicated simple. (Charlie Mingus)

Q: You've published several fantasy, horror, and historical novels. Do you have a favourite genre?

Except for the horror anthology, all my stories are for young adult or middle grade readers because that's the sort of book I love reading myself (says a 45-year old who is probably insane). Still, I try to always add something that appeals to older readers too. Inside this age bracket, I'm wide open for everything my Muse sends me (that's my term for my creative side, and she likes being called that. Her name's Klio, BTW). My most favourite genre is fantasy, closely followed by SciFi and historical.

Q: Would you like to share an extract from one of your books with us?

How about something I haven't even revised yet? It's brand new from the press… screen… word processing software… whatever. You know what I mean, right? Here it is (I even changed the spelling to British):

Luna straightened as best she could with the chain leading from the shackles on her hands to the ones on her feet. She would show defiance even though her heart felt raw when she glanced at her brother. Bound with the same heavy iron chains, Mondo stumbled along by her side, staring blindly at the blue carpet with the yellow embroidery that lined the long way from the throne room’s door to the dais. Luna would have loved to take his hands to comfort him but due to the shackles that was impossible. Instead, she focused her anger on her father.

Two Royal Guards in blue and yellow uniforms dragged his limp body forward. He whined and whimpered – well, why did he have to jump off the castle’s wall? He should have known he’d break a leg or two. He should count himself lucky, Luna thought.

A guy in a flowing blue robe slammed a wonderfully carved staff on the ground. The thump reverberated through the floorboards and echoed through the big hall. “Roberto Ramirez – accused of stealing royal property.”

A squire stepped forward and presented a blue velvet cushion. On it lay a yellow rose. Luna marvelled at the craftsmanship, for this was no ordinary rose. It was cut from a single ruby. The petals had a beautiful yellow shine, and the rose’s heart glowed dark red. The lustre blazed despite the artificial light of the gas lamps on the columns that supported the hall’s roof. A single one of those roses would support a whole family for as long as they lived.

Luna understood why her father had tried to steal one. After all, the king was rumoured to have a whole box. Still, her dad was no professional thief. How could he have hoped to get away with this? He knew the laws as well as every citizen. She jutted her chin and stared defiantly at the king who was whispering with a man at his side.

Surprised by the age of the king’s advisor, he couldn’t be much older than she was, she forgot to curtsey as she had been instructed to do. She stared at the most handsome man she’d ever seen. His broad shoulders invited her to lean against them, and the slender waist needed hugging. Despite the trouble they were in, her heart ached to touch him. Pain shot through her back as the butt of a guard’s lance reminded her of her duty. She sank down until her knees touched the floor but she didn’t bow her head. Someone had to pretend the family’s honour was still worth a dime, and anyway. Lowering her head would mean she could no longer look at the king’s advisor.

“Well, culprit, is there anything you can say for your defence?” The young man beside the king didn’t look as if he was expecting an answer. Due to the king’s facial veil, Luna couldn’t see much of his features, but his hands looked soft and young. She dismissed him. Her gaze clung to the brown haired youth with the slender hips and the wide shoulders at his side. Startled, she realized the iciness in the Spokesman’s eyes. Although he made Luna hot all over, he studied her father with an expression that would have befitted a biologist analyzing a frog’s internal organs.

Q: What advice would you give to a writer wanting to publish in several genres?

Be prepared to write many more books per year than one genre writers. Financial success will take much longer if you've got to build three (or more) different brands. Most Indie authors I know write one or two series in roughly the same genre. The good ones already earn more than I do, but I'm catching up – slowly.

Q: What are you working on now?

A steampunk retelling of "The Beauty and the Beast" mixed with some romance. It's my first try at emphasizing the romance, and I find it fun, although I'll surely need to add a lot more in revision.


Since Bryanna grows up in Scotland, she is familiar with hobgoblins, selkies and kelpies from the tales of her mother country. But she is very surprised when she starts seeing these creatures one day. Is she hallucinating? Before she can ask her father's advice, he is kidnapped by a woman whose scent seems awfully familiar. Instead of calling the police, Bryanna follows the kidnapper and lands smack-dab in the middle of the adventure of her life. It's just as well she knows the old legends and myths well. The world she lands in is murderously dangerous. And even if she survives the journey, she is fated to kill her father.

Links: Amazon /

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Thank you, Katharina. Through the internet and social media, I've met writers from all over the world. However, you're the first writer from Germany. It was great getting to know you and your writing. Like you, I'm always scribbling notes or daydreaming plot lines. Writing is one of those professions where you just never have a day off.

I'll be back on Friday, with two fabulous cover reveals from Stephanie Beerden and Sharon Bayliss. Until then, happy reading and writing.