Category Archives: New Release

2016: The Year in Books

chase-the-tiger01-duplicateAs the year winds down, my eyes are protesting. They have a point. My steely blue orbs have absorbed a lot of words these past twelve months. I made a point in 2016 of reading outside my usual comfort zones, as well as putting an emphasis on reading books from indie authors. Add in my own writing, plus editing jobs, plus trying to read menus in darkened restaurants, and I’m fortunate I can see at all.

But I can, so let’s recount the wonders of the written word! First, while I did cast the net wide for genre fiction and independently published works, I read my share of conventional literature as well. I finally got around to some Tolstoy, for example.  And I read The Commodore in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series, because I get the shakes if I go too long without reading one of those. I’m probably the last person to get on the Raymond Chandler bandwagon, but I’m making up for lost time. I read The Long Goodbye, and have another Phillip Marlowe mystery on deck.  I finished William H. Patterson Jr.’s Robert Heinlein: The Man Who Learned Better, 1948-1988, an exhaustively researched biography. I even worked in a couple political polemics, because it was that kind of year.

But the indie works really stood out in 2016. Nick Cole hit two homescreen-shot-2016-12-31-at-4-09-23-pm runs with Ctrl Alt Revolt and Fight the Rooster. The former won a Dragon Award for its sci-fi melding of AI, video games and caustic social commentary, while the latter is a manic romp about a Hollywood director trying to  break free from the chains of success.

Also standing out from the crowd was Liberty Boy by David Gaughran, a work of historical fiction set in Ireland that I enjoyed immensely.  The Missionaries by Owen Stanley was a fun skewering of do-gooder UN types set on a Pacific isle.

I’m one of Michael Bunker’s Patreon subscribers, so I’ve enjoyed the delicious chapters of Hell and the Sea as they’ve been released each month. The novel is a fictionalized account of the early days of the indie publishing revolution, and it has a big future ahead of it when it’s released in its entirety.

Part of my “reading outside my usual comfort zones” vow includes paying more attention to the romance genre. There is some great work being done on that side of the fence, like Place Your Betts by Katie Graykowski. The term “laugh-out-loud-funny” get overused a lot, but not in this case. Katie’s work just crackles with wit.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-4-19-01-pmOf course, my heart has always been in the science-fiction and fantasy fields, and I found some gems here in 2016. Vaughn Heppner is one of those indies who sells so many books it makes my head spin, so I downloaded Alien Honor, and admired how he set the table for an entertaining space opera series. I kept noticing The Long Way Down by Craig Schaefer in the also-bought feed for my Connor Rix series so I gave that a read. I snatched up a copy of Hugh Howey’s Beacon 23 when it went on sale earlier this year. It didn’t do much for me, but YMMV. Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia isn’t indie published, but it hit a populist nerve and won a Dragon award. It’s the beginning volume in a great epic fantasy, and entertaining as hell.

I read The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson, first published in 1912, one of the strangest science-fantasy books I’ve ever read, and I mean that in a good way. It’s set in a future so distant that the sun has burned out and all of humanity lives in one vast redoubt. Speaking of distant futures, I finally (finally!) found a battered paperback copy of Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth at Half-Price Books, devoured it, and then raced through Dan Simmons’ homage to Vance, The Guiding Nose of Ulfant Banderoz.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-4-06-18-pmThis was also a year for short stories. I started the year picking my way through Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning. I snacked on the wyrd western Ledge Town by Jason Anspach, and enjoyed  Jessup’s Door, a time travel story by Michael Bunker.  I’ve also been working my way through the variety of indie voices in The Expanding Universe.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-4-05-49-pmIn my role as editor, I get the first look at a lot of fun and compelling fiction. I’ve enjoyed working with Kate Baray on her Spirelli Paranormal Investigations series, Cate Lawley on her Vegan Vamp series, Anthony Whitt’s  Hard Land to Rule westernand Lori Ryan’s Sutton Capital series of romantic suspense novels.

Of course, I contributed to the indie market my own self, with the release of the dark fantasy Fight for the Night, and the fourth book in my Connor Rix series, Chase the Tiger. If you’d like to make an author happy in 2017, sign up for my newsletter over in the sidebar, and give one of them a look.

New Release! Chase the Tiger

chase-the-tiger01-duplicateThe 4th novel in the Connor Rix series is now on pre-order! Chase the Tiger is officially available on Thursday, October 20, but you can reserve your copy now on Amazon at a special introductory price and have it automatically delivered to your e-reader on launch day.

As with all the other Rix books, it’s a fast-paced science-fiction thriller set in a near-future independent Texas Republic. Have a problem with a violent superhuman outlaw? Rix is the guy you call to set things right.

CHASE THE TIGER

The day of the bio-engineered superhuman is here, and the only limit is human imagination.

When two Animal Kids—young women modified to resemble their favorite jungle cats—hire Connor Rix to recover stolen black-market biotech, it looks like a straightforward case. No problem for a guy like Rix, with his unbreakable bones, advanced optical implant, and rewired nervous system.

But the mystery runs a lot deeper than Rix could have guessed. Untangling it will require getting past lethal enforcers with bizarre modifications, and facing down the larger forces operating in the background.

Imagine a superhuman private investigator in a near-future independent Texas, and you’ve got Chase the Tiger, the fourth novel in the Connor Rix series of SF thrillers.

After the Apocalypse (Weird)

Short version: New release is only days away! Cover reveal below! Woo-hoo!

Long version (very): Okay, this requires some set-up. Many good things happened in 2015, but one of the disappointments was my paltry book release output. Normally I would have two or three books out in the course of a year, but last year I didn’t even meet that meager goal. That was not by intention. The year started well enough as I dove into the follow-up to my sci-fi space opera Gods and The City. I loved how this book was shaping up and was eagerly looking forward to a spring release.

But then an opportunity came my way. I was recruited by Michael Bunker to write a book in the Apocalypse Weird series. Michael, Nick Cole and some entrepreneurial partners had formed a new publishing company, Wonderment Media. They were constructing a shared universe of wonderfully bizarre end-of-the-world tales, all linked together by certain common story arcs and demonic characters. It was a bold undertaking, a “Marvel Universe” of post-apocalyptic characters created from the ground up by a cadre of mostly indie writers. It was exciting to be a part of it all as the books started to hit the market in February and March and the momentum began to grow.

I was asked to write a sequel to Texocalypse Now, co-authored by Bunker and Cole. In that novel, they had created a secondary character called “the Baron of the Scraps” that they wanted me to take and run with. I knew signing on with a start-up publisher was a risk, but the potential upside was definitely enticing. The publisher would have a greater market reach than I would on my own, and if one or two of these titles broke through to best-selling fame, we’d all benefit. Plus, Michael is a friend, and who wouldn’t want to be a part of an enterprise that included Bunker, Nick Cole, Eric Tozzi and so many other very talented writers?

So I agreed to do it and set aside my other projects to write the first draft of Fight for the Night over the spring and summer. It was a blast to work with characters created by others, building on the story, filling in the blanks. It was something I’d never done before and found I was enjoying it more than I thought I would.

However, even as I was finishing up the book, not all was well with the apocalypse. As my publication date got closer, the release schedule for the books was cut back. Publishing is a tough business, and it appeared that Wonderment was entering rough waters. My book was originally scheduled for a September release, and then was pushed back to December.

Still, Fight for the Night went through the editing process and feedback was extremely positive. But then the axe fell, with the October announcement that Apocalypse Weird would shut down at the end of November, with all books pulled from the market and the company disincorporated soon after. The month before my book was due out, the Apocalypse shut down.

It was a gut punch, as you can imagine, but that’s just business. Sometimes companies thrive, sometimes they fail, despite the best efforts of those involved. I took a risk and it didn’t pay out. It happens, and all you can do is move on.

So that left me with a completed book in an orphaned series. But Wonderment was treating its authors right, releasing the copyrights and the cover art back to the authors so they could independently publish the books, along with helping them transfer reviews. They freed everyone to use the common characters and the Apocalypse Weird brand, so the books would live on. It looked like there would be a place for my title after all.

Then the other axe fell.

Nick Cole and Michael Bunker decided not to reissue Texocalypse Now independently. It was being shelved, not to return in the foreseeable future. They had their reasons, which I can’t dispute. They both have bigger things on their plates, and if they don’t wish to continue the Tex Now storyline, that is certainly their prerogative.

But now, not only was I was stuck with a book in an orphaned series, but it was a sequel to a title that no longer existed. Krep.

I had to step back from this for a while, and rethink things. I turned to other article and copywriting deadlines in December while I planned the next step, and turned the book over in my mind.

That next step is revealed below. I revised Fight for the Night so it would stand alone, so that even if you had never read Texocalypse Now, it would make sense. I filled in backstory, I explained things that needed explaining. But I went even further than that.

You see, intellectual property is a funny thing. Wonderment went above and beyond what most publishers would do, in releasing rights and freeing up IP concepts and characters for its former writers to use. They handled it all with great integrity and decency, at least from my perspective at the margins. But the funny thing about intellectual property is that it sometimes gets sold, or inherited, or dragged into court in some dispute or another.

I therefore decided to rewrite Fight for the Night so that it truly stood alone—I recast the characters, I invented a new apocalyptic event, I dropped some elements of the original story. The AW villains, the 88, are gone, as is the black dragon. However, if you enjoyed Texocalypse Now I truly believe you will enjoy Fight for the Night. You’ll be able to identify the AW story that almost was. If you liked the Baron, you’ll like the Marshal. Fight for the Night is wild, pulpy, action-packed fun, and it is definitely still weird. But if you never read Tex Now, you’ll have no trouble following and enjoying the story.

And without further ado, the synopsis and cover reveal for Fight for the Night!

Fight for the NightIt’s been five years since the Doom shook the world to its foundations. Rivers of stars disappeared from the night sky, the sun erupted with an outbreak of flares that scorched the Eastern Hemisphere, and an infestation of previously unknown parasites turned millions of people into mindless roaming hordes of cannibals.

The survivors are scattered, few, and desperate. One band survives in the Texas Badlands behind the walls of a great fortress built from old cars. Led by The Marshal, the denizens of the Big Wreck scrape out a living by salvaging the remains of the old world, staying a step ahead of rival gangs, and avoiding the notice of the hordes.

Survival is tough enough, but when a mysterious otherworldly object alights in their territory, it brings with it creatures spawned from the darkest nightmares. Are these new arrivals aliens? Supernatural demons? Or simply the flesh-and-blood abominations of a post-apocalyptic world? And when a wandering band of Comanche indians shows up at the gates of the fortress, it appears that time itself has been twisted in strange new directions.

Fight for the Night is a novel of a weird apocalypse, a tale of desperate survival camped out at the intersection of where the Road Warrior meets the dark fantasies of H.P. Lovecraft.

Boxed Set Steal of the Year

CoversToT2

One of the really fun parts of being a writer is when I get to pass along screamin’ deals on great books.  This is one of those posts. The first novel in my Connor Rix series, Rules of Force, is included in the new boxed set Taste of Tomorrow 2, edited by Joseph Turkot. But that’s just the beginning. This bundle includes nine e-books for the spare-change price of $1.99. Some fantastic books by truly talented authors like Nick Cole, Michael Bunker, Saul Tanpepper and Tony Bertausky are included.

Taste of Tomorrow 2 will be released on June 11, but you can pre-order now and have it automatically shipped to your Kindle on launch day. Your summer reads are here!

Here and There

I kept my novel Gods and The City in Amazon’s Kindle godsandthecity-1Select/Unlimited program after its launch, but now the experiment has run its course and the exclusive period is done. My fast-paced space opera has now been released into the wider world. If you’re a fan of Apple’s iBooks store you can find it there, as well as from Kobo, Smashwords, and soon on B&N’s Nook platform.

The follow-up to this book is coming along nicely, so if you want to be ready for the new release, hit one of the links and give it a read. Your humble author thanks you in advance.

Instalanche!

Major thanks to Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit for shining the godsandthecity-1spotlight on Gods and The City today. His mention definitely jolted sales, although Amazon has been slow in updating the rankings today. I’ll follow up with an update when I find out how high it rises. And if you haven’t checked out Instapundit, well, prepare to bookmark a site you’ll want to visit daily. Or hourly. Glenn is a posting machine.

Something New For Summer’s End

AlienTexasSo, August is blazing away and you’re looking over at those big, fat unread novels and thinking, “It’s too hot. Big books make me sweat. Can’t anyone write crisp, refreshing short stories that I can read quickly, before sunburn and heat stroke set in? Preferably with space aliens? And Texas?”

I hear this all the time. Therefore, in order to cater to an underserved market, I have a solution right here. Alien Texas is a 10,000-word e-book that includes three short stories centered around what happens when invaders from space try to take on the residents of the Lone Star State. Alien Texas is just the right size for late-summer reading. Settle in with your e-reader, ignore the heat and let the invasions begin!