Cora is considering starting a Patreon and wants your input

I’m considering starting a Patreon in 2021.

Don’t worry, I will still be keeping up this blog, because I don’t believe in putting everything behind a pay wall. But some posts will go up earlier on Patreon than on the general blog and there may be the occasional bit of exclusive content. You’ll probably also be able to get my e-books via Patreon.

However, I need your help. What sort of content would you like to see me offer on Patreon? And what would you be willing to pay for it?

Therefore, I have created a survey to gauge interest, which you can find here. It would be really helpful, if you could fill out the survey, even if you don’t necessarily want to become a patron.

Thanks a lot for your help.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for November 2020

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 and small press authors (as well as the occasional Big 5 book) newly published this month, though some October 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 urban fantasy, dark fantasy, paranormal mysteries, paranormal romance, time travel romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, humorous science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, biopunk, agripunk, steampunk, gaslamp fantasy, time travel, alternate history, horror, LitRPG, vampires, aliens, dragons, dinosaurs, gargoyles, alien invasions, interstellar wars, space marines, mercenaries, pirates, thieves, interstellar brides, crime-busting witches, crime-busting psychics, samurai barbers, ninja haristylists 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:

The Trouble at Turtle Beach by Carrie BedfordThe Trouble at Turtle Beach by Carrie Bedford:

ROMANTIC GETAWAY BUZZKILL:
DEATH NEVER TAKES A HOLIDAY!

Harried, overworked architect Kate Benedict has no sooner stepped off the ferry to a tiny, remote island in Seychelles, primed to de-stress and celebrate at a destination wedding, than she spots imminent danger – auras spinning above the heads of two people on the dock. One’s a stranger, but the other’s the groom!

Kate has a gift – or possibly a curse. Unfortunately for her, she can predict death. When she sees the spinning circle of air above someone’s head, her heart sinks. She calls it an aura, and unless she can locate the source of danger and intervene, the person is destined to die within a matter of days.

But since the potential victim must be convinced of the danger, usually there’s no way to intervene with a stranger. When the second man is found drowned, Kate knows she has to tell her boyfriend Josh that the groom, Josh’s close friend from college, has an aura.

It’s hard to convince Josh’s friends that a murderer is lurking among the gracious islanders, the chill tourists, and serene natural beauty – but with a suspicious fire and a third aura sighting, the evidence is mounting. Until they can find the murderer, Kate and Josh have to keep the groom safe and fend off the worst wedding crasher ever – Death!

Folder by Raymond BoltonFolder by Raymond Bolton:

Eric Folder has moved to Oregon to attend Portland State University when an automobile accident leaves him stricken with migraine headaches. The resulting visual effects—something medical professionals term an aura—render him virtually blind and defenseless when a gang of street thugs attacks him. Desperate to see and needing to protect himself, Eric reflexively tears at the luminous lines of light and finds they have become tangible. When he pulls them aside, his present reality folds away with them, leaving him in better circumstances with his enemies vanished. Attempts to fold his way out of successive perils leave him in increasingly strange situations until, eventually, his world becomes a nightmare.

Neutral Ground by Cora BuhlertNeutral Ground by Cora Buhlert:

Two old soldiers share a coffee and fight for their lives

The Republic of United Planets and the Empire of Worlds have been at war for eighty-eight years now. But nonetheless, Colonel Brian Mayhew, deputy commander of the Republican Special Commando Forces, meets with his Imperial counterpart General Roderick Crawford to discuss an incident that’s a problem for both of them. For two of their elite soldiers fell in love and ran away with each other, an embarrassment to the Republic and the Empire both.

However, this secret meeting is not as secret as the two men think. And so Mayhew and Crawford are soon fighting for their lives side by side…

This is a novelette of 9500 words or approximately 32 print pages in the “In Love and War” series by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert, but may be read as a standalone.

Ballroom Blitz by Cora BuhlertBallroom Blitz by Cora Buhlert:

Anjali and Mikhail go on a Valentine’s Day date. Trouble ensues.

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.

It’s Valentine’s Day and so Mikhail and Anjali enjoy a well-deserved romantic dinner. But their date is rudely interrupted, when they find themselves caught in the crossfire of a turf war between two rival gangsters.

This is a Valentine’s Day novella of 23200 words or approximately 78 print pages in the “In Love and War” series by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert, but may be read as a standalone.

Secrets of the Sword by Lindsay BurokerSecrets of the Sword by Lindsay Buroker:

After helping my steady dragon Zav with his family problems, I thought life would get back to normal. As normal as it can be when you’re a hit woman responsible for hunting down bad guys.

That was before a strange artifact showed up in a bog and turned my ancient dwarven sword into a magical beacon. Now my enemies can sense it from hundreds of miles away. More than that, every club-toting, over-muscled orc, ogre, and troll who would like a magic sword can sense it.

Usually, fighting off opportunists wouldn’t be a problem (they don’t call me Ruin Bringer without reason), but even I can only handle so many attacks at a time. And Zav isn’t as much help as you’d think, since he’s busy on a quest for a ring.

No, it’s not a Lord of the Rings kind of quest. My boss put it in Zav’s head that since we’re mated in the dragon way, we should also be married in the human way. Now, he’s off to find the perfect engagement ring. Given his taste in human footwear, I may be in trouble for more reasons than my marked sword.

Not only is there no chance of my life getting back to normal any time soon, but if I can’t figure out how to fix my sword, I’ll be dead long before I can get married.

Leads and Lynxes by Rebecca ChastainLeads and Lynxes by Rebecca Chastain:

Be careful what you ask for…

Kylie got into journalism to write important stories. Ones about gargoyles and dryads, elemental warriors, and thwarted magical attacks on her city. The bigger the story, the better. So when she lands the opportunity to ask an enchanted everlasting tree for the answer to any question she desires, she doesn’t have to think about it. She wants the story of a lifetime.

So does her nemesis, Nathan. If anyone is going to write a high-profile story, the senior journalist believes it should be him—and Nathan’s not above playing dirty to get his way. Kylie must work fast or risk losing control of her story.

But with every new lead forcing Kylie and her gargoyle companion, Quinn, deeper into a deadly maze of murder, warped magic, and monstrous beasts, rushing could prove fatal. Kylie is determined to publish her dream story, but she is beginning to wonder…will she survive long enough to write it?

Rika Destroyer by M.D. CooperRika Destroyer by M.D. Cooper:

If the Nietzscheans want war…

…then Rika will bring it to their doorstep.

With the enemy embarking on a scorched earth withdrawal, Rika has few choices available. Either she spreads her Marauders out to protect the Genevian worlds, or she strikes at the enemy’s heart when they least expect it.

Even though her Marauders are fearless and have never been defeated in battle, they’ve also never faced off against the full might of the Nietzschean military. Rika’s plan doesn’t involve going toe to toe with the enemy—though she’s not above tricking them into thinking that by layering feints within feints.

Poised for victory, what Rika didn’t plan for is the internal machinations of Nietzschean politics and how far Admiral Hammond is willing to go to secure the empire for himself.

Aided by an old friend, Rika will push herself further than ever before in order to save her Marauders and the fledgling nation she’s pulled back from the brink.

Tales From a Scarygirl Two: Darkly Sinister by Marie Anne CopeTales From a Scarygirl Two: Darkly Sinister by Marie Anne Cope:

THEY WALK BESIDE YOU. THEY SHARE YOUR BED. THEY EVEN KISS YOUR KIDS GOODNIGHT.
Are you SURE you know your friends and family as well as you think you do?

These Darkly Sinister tales will challenge your view of those closest to you as they delve into the minds of a selection of murderers; all calm and composed on the outside, but harbouring depths of depravity within.

When someone says, ‘I love you’, have you considered the small print if you were to sign? When you make a desperate call for help, can you trust the person who responds? And, when you chase that adrenaline rush, have you considered the price may be your life?

In Darkly Sinister, volume two of Tales From A Scarygirl, Marie Anne Cope takes you on a journey to discover the wickedness of the human psyche and how, when it comes to being scared, you should look at those close by.

If you enjoy spine tingling short stories that leave you unsettled and feeling uneasy, Marie Anne Cope’s latest collection, encompassing the darkness of Stephen King and the visceral gore of Jack Ketchum, is the very reason you will sleep with the lights on.

Samurai Barber versus Ninja Hairstylist by Zed DeeSamurai Barber Versus Ninja Hairstylist by Zed Dee:

Change is in the hair.

Ninjas are wreaking havoc by cutting people’s hair without their permission. Behind this follicular terrorism is a master ninja, the Ninja Hairstylist, whose chaotic hairstyle embodies the anarchy that is about to tear the city apart.

The Samurai Barber must step up and cut down the evil strands on the Ninja Hairstylist’s head. It is not just keratin that is at stake. The Samurai Barber must fight for one of the cornerstones of modern civilization; the freedom and self-determination to choose your own hairstyle.

Bugs and Loopholes by Rachel FordBugs and Loopholes by Rachel Ford:

A fully immersive virtual reality system. A beta testing opportunity that’s the stuff of dreams – or a nightmare that may never end.

Jack Owens is stuck in Marshfield Studio’s newest virtual reality videogame. To escape, he needs to win. He’s started assembling his team of heroes, which brings him one step closer to leaving the virtual world forever.

Until Jack finds the mother of all bugs: his companions vanish into thin air. The same companions he needs to have a chance at winning the game.

Luckily for Jack, there’s no rule against utilizing cooperative mode to finish the quest. Level developer and beta test supervisor Jordan Knight spins up her character, and jumps in.

The problem? Cooperative mode is even buggier than single player…

Dryker's Fall by Chris FoxDryker’s Fall by Chris Fox:

Humanity’s End is Upon Us

The Tigris have declared a Sacred Hunt against Earth. During the last battle Dryker’s daring plan turned back their vanguard, but now the entire fleet has arrived.

Thousands of Tigris vessels converge upon our world, with only a few dozen battleships, and our remaining orbital defense platforms to shield us.

Captain Dryker is placed under the command of the sadistic Doctor Reid, and sent to reactivate an ancient Void Wraith factory. Within this factory slumbers an army of Void Wraith, and a fleet of harvesters. But if he succeeds those forces will not work for Earth.

They will begin the Eradication, and wipe out everything.

Rebel Mate by Grace GoodwinRebel Mate by Grace Goodwin:

A rebel alien roaming the far reaches of the galaxy. An Interstellar Bride on the run for her life. When her life crash lands into his on a remote planet, they’ll need each other to survive.

The Interstellar Brides Program guarantees it can match any female on Earth, even a cynical, street-wise, and very jaded Zara, who just wants to start over. But when she arrives on her new home planet… she gets more than promised:

Murder? Check.
Smugglers? Check.
A sexy as hell pirate who demands she follow his orders? Um, what?

Zara didn’t volunteer for this mess, but she’s a fighter. A survivor. She’ll work with a sexy–did I say bossy?–rebel to bring down the bad guys and take on a Rogue 5 legion in order to obtain what she wants, a white picket fence kind of life in outer space… if she can live long enough to get it.

Wicked Wedding by Lily Harper HartWicked Wedding by Lily Harper Hart:

You are formally invited to the wedding of Ivy Morgan and Jack Harker.

Before they walk down the aisle, though, there’s one more mystery to solve.

Ivy, who is finishing up the last days of her community service, inserts herself into a tense situation when the alarm at the domestic violence shelter she is working at sounds and she goes off to make sure all the women and children are accounted for. She expects a malfunction. What she gets is a violent man trying to remove his daughter from the facility. She reacts out of instinct … and magically thwarts the attempt.

Unfortunately for her, that’s only the beginning.

Because the man managed to escape, Ivy and Jack find themselves working together to track him down. On top of that, since the location of the building is supposed to be a secret, it appears an insider might be selling information.

More than anything, Ivy and Jack want to slide into happily ever after. However, neither of them can rest until they’re sure those most vulnerable are safe.

Ivy’s powers are growing. Her relationship with Jack was always destined to be. They’re both about to get everything they ever wanted … as long as they survive to make it down the aisle.

The big day is finally here.

An Enigma in Silver by Simon HaynesAn Enigma in Silver by Simon Haynes:

England, 1871. A quiet country village is rocked by murder. Police have no leads and no clues, apart from the grisly state of the victim’s body.

Evidence points to a supernatural killer, but Professor Twickham is curiously reluctant to lend his assistance.

Roberta, his daughter, has no such qualms, and she involves me in the case as well… only to turn around and abandon me for a sick friend.

Now I must unmask the vicious killer on my own, but had I only known the truth, I’d never have got involved…

This standalone novel is the second title in the Mysteries in Metal gaslamp fantasy series.

The Almost Good Witch by Erin HussThe Almost Good Witch by Erin Huss:

Abigail was your average evil witch, complete with the hat, the cat, the cackle, and the bad habit of turning people into slugs on a whim. Cursed with eternal life because of a hex gone wrong many centuries ago, Abigail spent her days exacting revenge on those she found to be the vilest of humans, from evil dictators to shoppers who didn’t return their grocery carts.

The line between good and annoying may have gotten blurred over the years.

Sick of spending immortality frozen at the age of twenty-five, Abigail does the only thing she can—turn herself into the Supernatural Crimes Department. Now she’s a member of Dark Magic Anonymous with a three year probation and a parole officer who is annoyingly powerful and more annoyingly cute.

Oh, and she’s traded in her broomstick for a Prius.

After centuries of being evil, Abigail struggles with entering the workforce and being good. But that pesky probation means one slip up will result in a life sentence. She’s not about to let that happen, and things are going well until her boss turns up dead with all evidence pointing to her.

Will Abigail be able to maintain her new good witch ways while she hunts a killer, or will she slip up and spend the rest of forever behind bars?

The Vampire by Erme LanderThe Vampire Duology by Erme Lander:

“I do not require your eternal love or devotion Ms Johnson, merely what is inside your veins.”

When Tina Johnson, single mother, forty, wakes up in an isolated castle in Central Europe she simply wants to return to her daughter as quickly as possible. She doesn’t expect to find that she has been kidnapped and brought into a world where power is the key to survival and sanity is an optional extra.

Tina discovers she has been watched for many years, she has a rare genetic structure that makes her attractive to vampires and has the possibility of living for well over a century, if she allows herself to become infected. Kalmár has stolen her and intends to keep her captive, hiding her from both her family and other vampires. Normality becomes a frightening place as Tina struggles to escape those holding her and to fights to keep her daughter, her lover and her freedom.

Those wanting teenage kicks and thrills had better stand aside. This is a story of a woman held hostage with only her own exhausted brain to help. The slow seductive burn of sleepless nights. The nightmare of a horrific reality setting in and the endless patience of a dark being who has time on his side.

Sitting somewhere between Anne Rice and Bram Stoker this is perfect for fans of paranormal romance that want something different to savour. The Vampire Duology is a modern twist on the classic vampire tale.

Please note that this duology consists of “A Dark Inheritance” and “A Dark infection” both available on Amazon as single books.

The Witch Is Back by Amanda M. LeeThe Witch Is Back by Amanda M. Lee:

Bay Winchester is living the high life. She’s engaged, owns her own business, and is undergoing a magical transformation, complete with growing powers at every turn. All that changes when a local teenager goes missing at a festival and nobody knows who took her.

The girl’s friends saw the abduction but the description they provide doesn’t match anybody in town. The only other witness is Marcus, her cousin Thistle’s boyfriend, and he was seriously injured in the attack and can’t provide additional information.

Bay is determined to solve the case, although she’s not sure where to look. On top of that, her normal partner in crime is otherwise engaged, which means her mother has decided to tag along for the ride.

Bay is the sort of witch who is willing to put herself on the line to save those who need saving. Unfortunately, this time around, the answers she finds only lead to more questions. On top of that, her great-aunt Willa and cousin Rosemary have arrived in town out of nowhere and they seem to be harboring their own secrets, and it’s something that could change the entire trajectory of Bay’s life.

The Winchesters are loyal, and it’s going to take all of them working together to solve this one. It seems new magic is afoot, and whoever is wielding it is deadly.

Magic, mystery and mayhem are about to collide. Batten down the hatches. The Winchesters are about to take you on a wild ride.

Tiny Planet Filled With Liars by Stephen M.A.Tiny Planet Filled With Liars by Stephen M.A.:

So, a fussy ex-military amateur sleuth walks into a brothel and saves the world.
(Stop me if you’ve heard it.)
A comically tragic spectacle; a cathartic balm for our times; a cerebral pack of filthy lies.

A shuttle pilot once remarked to me, “You know, no one needs a monthly visit from an undying alien armada just to remember rent’s due.”

But you’d be surprised.

For generations, the Unified Fiduciary Dominion has relied on the military contractors of the Board to defend our planet (and its revenue streams) from Fleet Eternal. Now, those preening corporate punks have left us dangling.

Armed with exclusive investigatory powers, I’ve collaborated with Zhou—Ruby District madame—to scry the mysterious conspiracy unfolding over our heads.

Why are time-tested battle plans of the Alpha Vector Defense Corps suddenly failing? And why is the Board sitting idly by as casualties pile up in the Divisions? Does inventory attrition prevention mean nothing anymore?!

Not to belabor the many faults of these Incorporated scoundrels, but just know this: A few weeks ago—after I discovered they’re probably about to get us all boiled alive in orbital battle radiation—I’m pretty sure one of the fuckers ruined my best jacket by ordering a lackey to put a knife through it on a busy industrial boulevard. While I was still inside it.

My best jacket.

The verdict is clear. (ahem) That is—the verdict is clearish. Let this report serve as our collective judgment all the same.

Behold, fellow plebs; take heart in these dark days, and stand tall once again.

The Board may not fear Fleet Eternal, but it will fear The Interviewer.

Trust me.

When Luck Runs Out by Terry MixonWhen Luck Runs Out by Terry Mixon:

After years of battle, Kelsey Bandar and Jared Mertz are finally ready to face the master AI enslaving the Terran Empire. With just a bit of luck, this nightmare will finally be over.

Only luck can run out just when you need it the most.

Outnumbered and outgunned, they must salvage victory from certain defeat. Failure means extermination, invasion, and the loss of everyone they love. Can they beat the odds just one more time?

If you love military science fiction and grand adventure on a galaxy-spanning scale, grab “When Luck Runs Out” and the rest of The Empire of Bones Saga today!

First Strike by Scott MoonFirst Strike by Scott Moon:

Joining the fight for the Galaxy isn’t required. It’s a choice.

The United Galactic Government is mired in a decade-long war for control of a key planet. Weakened by overextension and political intrigue, they could lose everything.

When a child of privilege gives up everything to enlist and fight for what is right, he learns what it means to become part of a team. He encounters refugees, aliens he never expected to empathize with, and the loss of comrades. In the end he must develop the courage to stand up, not only to aliens and governments, but his own family.

Eight Cylinders by Jason ParentEight Cylinders by Jonathan Parent:

Sebastian “Seb” McAlister has run out of luck in Vegas. Cornered by a trigger-happy gang and shot through the stomach, he makes a desperate escape in his supercharged Hellcat. Fate guides Seb safely out of Sin City and into the desert, but as his wheels fade into the horizon, he fades into darkness.

He awakes among a tiny community in the middle of nowhere. A mountain range circles the hodgepodge of shacks like prison walls looming high. And the warden that resides in those mountains is big, ugly, and deadly—a creature straight out of a Lovecraftian nightmare.

If Seb hopes to escape that wayward way station, he’ll need enough cunning to outwit a force beyond comprehension… and a fast car. With a little luck and a ragtag group of would-be monster mashers racing alongside him, Seb just might have a shot of making it through the mountains alive.

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

The Impure by Kaitlyn PenningtonThe Impure by Kaitlyn Pennington:

Twenty-one-year-old Daniella Reilly always believed that her mother’s tales were nothing but fiction. But when she is taken to Seattle by her long-time friends, Madison, Derrick and Masen, Daniella meets people that she had been told did not exist. That is when she realizes that her mother’s stories of monsters and magic might actually be true. Vampires, Werewolves, Warlocks and Witches all exist among us, and Daniella finds herself launched into their world. She finds that not only does she have family in this strange, new world, but her mother is not who she believed her to be.Now knowing the truth of her childhood and family, Daniella joins Andrew, James, Amaelia, and Oliver on a mission to bring her mother’s work to a stop and to find a man that may not want to be found.Daniella’s main goal after discovering all that she has, is to make sure that her newfound family and herself all survive what’s coming and stick together despite the obstacles.

Longshot by Sean Platt and Johnny B. TruantLongshot by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

While Las Vegas burns, John Abbot is on fire.

What’s a Gambler to do when the kind of winning streak he’s only ever dreamed about hits just as aliens invade and it looks like the world is coming to an end?

Even while Las Vegas catches fire all around him, John Abbot decides to let it ride. For the first time in his life it feels like he can do no wrong. But it’s gonna take more than a boatload of chips to survive the alien apocalypse. It might even require him to pull together the motley crew of left-over lowlifes and Vegas vagabonds to embark on a high-risk crusade.

In order to get a dying alien to Area 51, and hopefully save the world, John’s only hope is a disillusioned showgirl, a snarky comedian, a cynical slot maching junkie, and the rest of the Las Vegas leftovers.

Unless they die, and destroy the universe along the way.

It’s a race against time as the aliens arrive in this new stand-alone book in the Invasion universe by masters of story Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant, authors of The Beam, Robot Proletariat, The Dream Engine, and more.

Ascendant by Joyce Reynolds-WardAscendant by Joyce Reynolds-Ward:

WHAT DOES ASCENSION TO POWER REALLY COST?

Six months after the triumphant collaborative conclusion of the AgInnovator Superhero game show, Ruby Barkley and her ex-husband Gabriel Martiniere still struggle with the professional and personal fallout from their victory. The Superhero money allowed Ruby to launch her line of agricultural biobots. But one of the RubyBot spinoffs, the Defender, leads to unsettling revelations about crop tampering using body-modified indentured workers. Their son Brandon uncovers even more disturbing information about the abuse of indentureds as he campaigns to end it. All of these disclosures lead back to the Martiniere Group, the family corporation controlled by Gabe’s malevolent uncle, Philip Martiniere.

Meanwhile, Ruby and Gabe wrestle with what form their resumed relationship will take, as Ruby contemplates whether she wants to take on the role of a Martiniere wife. The revelation that Gabe’s father is not who they thought, and Philip’s attempt to force Ruby away from Gabe once again confirms her decision. But the need to rescue one of Brandon’s valued indentured informants turns celebration into catastrophe. Will Ruby and Gabe be able to recover from this disaster—or will Philip triumph yet again in his campaign to destroy Gabe?

Realization by Joyce Reynolds-WardRealization by Joyce Reynolds-Ward:

THEY’VE ALMOST REALIZED THEIR DREAMS…BUT CAN THEY REMAIN THEMSELVES?

The indentured labor wars heat up as Ruby Barkley and Gabriel Martiniere struggle with medical complications that interfere with their fight to stop the sinister goals of Gabe’s father Philip. Discoveries by their son Brandon about the degree to which Philip and the family corporation, the Martiniere Group, are involved in unethical, interdicted human experimentation push them into accepting a questionable treatment to speed their recovery.

Philip’s direct challenge initiates Gabe’s final push to take over the Martiniere Group. Ruby and Brandon consolidate family support behind Gabe. When a high-profile assassination attempt at a political banquet reveals the existence of cyborged Martiniere descendants and clones of Philip intended to provide him with replacement parts, Ruby and Gabe must take action. One clone—Michael—still survives.

Along with their bid to win control of the Martiniere empire, Ruby and Gabe now face the dilemma of what is to be done with Michael. Can they save both the family and Philip’s clone—or should they even try?

The realization of their dreams is within Ruby and Gabe’s reach. Can they fulfill it while still remaining true to themselves?

Raven's Course by Glynn StewartRaven’s Course by Glynn Stewart:

Old friends have turned to foes
Old oaths have shattered
But old ties still promise redemption

Amid the ruins of a fallen empire, humanity fights to secure the fates of once-enslaved worlds. Captain Henry Wong and Ambassador Sylvia Todorovich of the United Planets Alliance have mustered force and diplomacy alike to drive their former allies in the Kozun Hierarchy back from their invasion.

With their superiors unwilling to fight a war this far from home, Todorovich leans on the Drifters, old allies of both the UPA and the Kozun, to broker a peace summit that could bring peace to a dozen worlds—if she can trust anyone.

Fearing treachery, Captain Henry Wong and the battlecruiser Raven accompany Todorovich to the summit. Even among former friends, he can trust no one—not the Drifters and, most especially, not the old friend in command of the Kozun delegation!

Stranded by Rosalind TateStranded by Rosalind Tate:

A modern girl. A door to the past. No way back.

When Sophie Arundel falls through a hidden portal into 1925, she assumes she’s dreaming.

Except she isn’t.

Then the portal disappears.

Mysteriously invited to stay in a grand house, Sophie must navigate high-stakes rules to find a wealthy suitor. But that’s the least of her problems.

History is unfolding differently in this England. Millions are starving, desperate and angry. When Sophie’s soulmate is attacked by a baying mob and his life ebbs away…

Can Sophie save him?

Stranded is the first book in the Shorten Chronicles romantic fantasy series. If you like time travel, adventure and heroic dogs, you’ll love Stranded.

The Diamond Device by M.H. ThaungThe Diamond Device by M.H. Thaung:

After diamond power promises to replace steam, an unemployed labourer and a thieving noble unite to foil an international plot and avert a war.

Alf Wilson resents the new technology that cost him his factory job, especially as his clockwork leg bars him from army enrolment. He daren’t confess his unemployment to his overbearing mother. Desperate over the rent, he ends up in a detention cell with a hangover.

Impoverished Lord Richard Hayes maintains his expensive parliamentary seat by a mixture of charm and burglary. During a poorly planned break-in, he inadvertently witnesses a kidnapping. To cap it all, the police arrest him for the crime. At least he’s using a fake identity. The real criminals make off with not just the professor who discovered diamond power, but her plans for a diamond-fuelled bomb.

When Rich encounters Alf in the neighbouring cell, he sees an opportunity to keep his noble reputation intact. He persuades Alf he’s a secret agent who needs an assistant. This chance association will take them to the oddest locations. But law-abiding Alf’s first assignment? Break Rich out of jail.

Within the Fog by Charles WelchWithin the Fog by Charles Welch:

The same ancient evil that killed 115 people at Roanoke, Virginia in the late 1500’s has arrived in a small eastern Colorado town. A fog covers the small town and closes in on Tom Benton and his family. The evil that lurks within the fog feeds on humanity but has special plans for those with anger deep inside. Tom Benton’s son Bobby has seen the face of evil outside his bedroom window in the darkest hours of the night. The man who appears at his window offers a veil of redemption to those holding onto anger and rage. As the fog wraps around the Benton family home there will only be a narrow chance at survival. Can Tom Benton and his family escape the issues of their past in time to save themselves from Croatoan?

Wearing Skin by Simon Paul WoodwardWearing Skin by Simon Paul Woodward:

None of us are what we seem to be on the outside. We are all pretending. We are all wearing skin.

The Angel of Loughborough Junctions: An amoral filmmaker experiences the horror of the world through an angel’s eyes.
Children of Ink: A living tattoo breaks one of the Five Laws of Ink and suffers the terror of life away from flesh.
Wearing Skin: Bigotry conquers true love in a blood-splattered tale of body swapping, sex and immortality.
American Sexual Lobster: A seafood chef loses his mind and body on a night of shellfish slaughter.
Manny & the Monkeys: An egotistical writer’s life is ripped apart by escalating, and increasingly bizarre, coincidences.

These 12 unsettling short stories include the British Fantasy Society award-winning Manny & The Monkeys.

If you’re a fan of Stephen King, Joe Hill or JT Lawrence you’ll love these dark stories with a twist. Get ready to stay up all night with award-winning horror author Simon Paul Woodward.

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The Mandalorian finally finds “The Jedi” and Baby Yoda finally gets a name

Now I have this week’s Star Trek Discovery review out of the way, it’s time for my episode by episode reviews of season 2 of The Mandalorian again. Previous installments may be found here.

Also, since Star Wars is a Disney property now, may I remind you once again that Disney is not paying the royalties due to Alan Dean Foster and possibly others as well.

Warning: Spoilers under the cut! Continue reading

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for November 2020


Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of crime fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some October 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.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have cozy mysteries, holiday mysteries, historical mysteries, Victorian mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, paranormal mysteries, Steampunk mysteries, hardboiled mysteries, noir, police procedurals, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, psychological thrillers, domestic thrillers, action thrillers, spy thrillers, horror thrillers, police officers, FBI agents, amateur sleuths, private investigators, lawyers, spies, thieves, terrorists, organised crime, heists, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, crime-busting seamstresses, crime-busting psychics, murder in Scotland, Belfast, Wyoming, Virginia, Los Angeles, Australia, the Seychelles and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime 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:

Murder After Midnight by Liam AsheMurder After Midnight by Liam Ashe:

Notorious profiteer Gustafson Graves has everything a man with great wealth could expect—a lavish estate, a king’s ransom in precious metals and too many enemies to count. With the Great War now just a memory, he hides from his past behind the closely guarded doors at River’s End. Justice, however, will not be denied. As the clock strikes twelve, Graves’ past comes calling with brutal results.

A bloody corpse, a houseful of suspects, a missing fortune and a locked room. Sleuth and former spy Mafalda Marchand claims nothing is beyond her legendary intuition, but in this impossible murder has she finally met her match?

A Fraying of Schemes by Blythe BakerA Fraying of Schemes by Blythe Baker:

Forced to stay at a local hotel while their home undergoes repairs, Iris and Lily Dickinson find themselves uncomfortably close to a violent crime. Risking a potential stain upon their reputations, the sisters delve into the deadly secrets of the hotel’s inhabitants.

With the guilty party determined to evade capture, will the Dickinson sisters uncover the truth – or be buried with it?

 

 

They're Gone by E.A. BarresThey’re Gone by E.A. Barres:

Two women’s husbands are murdered on the same night in the same way–and their investigation uncovers a terrifying connection.

Two men from vastly different backgrounds are murdered one after another on the same night, in the same fashion with two bullet wounds: one in the head, another in the heart. The two slayings sends their wives on a desperate search for answers–and a desperate attempt to save their families’ lives.

Grief takes a heavy toll on northern Virginia freelance editor Deb Linh Thomas when she learns of her husband’s murder. And utter dismay sets in when, just a week after the funeral, she discovers that he had been the subject of an FBI investigation after withdrawing a large sum of money from their shared accounts.

Elsewhere, Baltimore bartender Cessy Castillo is less bereft when her abusive husband, ex-cop Hector Ramirez, is killed. But it turns out that he was deep in hock–and now Cessy’s expected to pay up.

Deb and the FBI agent assigned to her case start digging into her husband’s murder and learn that he had been the target of criminals. As Deb and Cessy join forces to learn the truth, their investigation reveals an ever-darker web of clues, but if they’re not careful, they may just end up like their husbands

The Reluctant Witness by S.L. BeaumontThe Reluctant Witness by S.L. Beaumont:

In the weeks leading to Christmas, Liam McArvey, lead singer of The Fury, falls for enigmatic Bella, a waitress at his local café. However, little does he know that she is hiding a dangerous secret. After a photograph of the couple, taken outside a London recording studio, surfaces on the internet, Bella panics and prepares to move on.

But Liam enlists his friend, and sometimes sleuth, Stephanie Cooper, to help Bella unravel events in her past. Together, they uncover a crime within a crime, and Bella must decide where her loyalties lie.

The Reluctant Witness introduces new characters into the Carlswick world along with some old favorites and can be read as a standalone.

The Trouble at Turtle Beach by Carrie BedfordThe Trouble at Turtle Beach by Carrie Bedford:

ROMANTIC GETAWAY BUZZKILL:
DEATH NEVER TAKES A HOLIDAY!

Harried, overworked architect Kate Benedict has no sooner stepped off the ferry to a tiny, remote island in Seychelles, primed to de-stress and celebrate at a destination wedding, than she spots imminent danger – auras spinning above the heads of two people on the dock. One’s a stranger, but the other’s the groom!

Kate has a gift – or possibly a curse. Unfortunately for her, she can predict death. When she sees the spinning circle of air above someone’s head, her heart sinks. She calls it an aura, and unless she can locate the source of danger and intervene, the person is destined to die within a matter of days.

But since the potential victim must be convinced of the danger, usually there’s no way to intervene with a stranger. When the second man is found drowned, Kate knows she has to tell her boyfriend Josh that the groom, Josh’s close friend from college, has an aura.

It’s hard to convince Josh’s friends that a murderer is lurking among the gracious islanders, the chill tourists, and serene natural beauty – but with a suspicious fire and a third aura sighting, the evidence is mounting. Until they can find the murderer, Kate and Josh have to keep the groom safe and fend off the worst wedding crasher ever – Death!

Silver Bells and Murder by Beth ByersSilver Bells and Murder by Beth Byers:

December 1926

Violet and Jack take the train to Scotland with their friends for the holidays only to arrive and realize that the village has been exposed to scarlet fever. Given the delicate babies in their family, they determine to insulate themselves at the lodge they’d taken.

Nearly desperate for some peace and holiday cheer, they intend nothing but lolling by the fire, diving into cupfuls of eggnog, and feasting.

Only, once again, they discover a body. The worst of it is that they were alone at the lodge when the crime was committed. Is it possible that one of them is the killer? Join Vi and friends as they determine their loyalties and hunt a murderer.

Misjudges by James ChandlerMisjudged by James Chandler:

Sam Johnstone was hoping for renewal when he took a job at a boutique law firm in rustic Wyoming. The mountains and streams of the west would be a refreshing, quiet place to start over after years of war and turmoil in his personal life.

But after a local woman is brutally murdered, Sam realizes that things aren’t so quiet in this rural American town. The accused is one Tommy Olsen, a known delinquent who had been sleeping with the victim. Sam is repulsed by the crime and wants nothing to do with the case, but meets with Tommy to make sure he has legal representation.

Yet things are not as they seem.

What begins as a cut-and-dry case becomes infinitely more complicated as new facts are uncovered, and Sam agrees to serve as Tommy’s defense attorney.

With the killer’s identity still unknown, Sam is enveloped in the small-town politics and courtroom drama of a murder investigation that keeps getting more shocking.

But if Sam can’t uncover the truth, an innocent man might be punished…while the real killer watches from the shadows.

Tales From a Scarygirl Two: Darkly Sinister by Marie Anne CopeTales From a Scarygirl Two: Darkly Sinister by Marie Anne Cope:

THEY WALK BESIDE YOU. THEY SHARE YOUR BED. THEY EVEN KISS YOUR KIDS GOODNIGHT.
Are you SURE you know your friends and family as well as you think you do?

These Darkly Sinister tales will challenge your view of those closest to you as they delve into the minds of a selection of murderers; all calm and composed on the outside, but harbouring depths of depravity within.

When someone says, ‘I love you’, have you considered the small print if you were to sign? When you make a desperate call for help, can you trust the person who responds? And, when you chase that adrenaline rush, have you considered the price may be your life?

In Darkly Sinister, volume two of Tales From A Scarygirl, Marie Anne Cope takes you on a journey to discover the wickedness of the human psyche and how, when it comes to being scared, you should look at those close by.

If you enjoy spine tingling short stories that leave you unsettled and feeling uneasy, Marie Anne Cope’s latest collection, encompassing the darkness of Stephen King and the visceral gore of Jack Ketchum, is the very reason you will sleep with the lights on.

Tooting Moon by Brigid GeorgeTooting Moon by Brigid George:

A Dusty Kent mystery by an Amazon Best Selling author!

In one of Brigid George’s most ingenious mysteries, Dusty Kent must expose a killer of women.

Beautiful Tiri Welsh and her husband Blake Montgomery were iconic Hollywood stars adored by millions around the world. All that changed one dark night in the Indian Ocean, when Tiri drowned under mysterious circumstances. The truth behind her death was never uncovered.

For seventeen years, Tiri’s sister fought tirelessly to expose Montgomery as his wife’s murderer. Finally, she turns to Dusty Kent

Dusty travels to Broome, Western Australia where the actor now lives aboard his private yacht. She is immediately suspicious of Blake Montgomery, suspecting his urbane charm hides a sinister side. However, to get to the truth, Tiri’s is not the only mysterious death Dusty will need to solve.

Wicked Wedding by Lily Harper HartWicked Wedding by Lily Harper Hart:

You are formally invited to the wedding of Ivy Morgan and Jack Harker.

Before they walk down the aisle, though, there’s one more mystery to solve.

Ivy, who is finishing up the last days of her community service, inserts herself into a tense situation when the alarm at the domestic violence shelter she is working at sounds and she goes off to make sure all the women and children are accounted for. She expects a malfunction. What she gets is a violent man trying to remove his daughter from the facility. She reacts out of instinct … and magically thwarts the attempt.

Unfortunately for her, that’s only the beginning.

Because the man managed to escape, Ivy and Jack find themselves working together to track him down. On top of that, since the location of the building is supposed to be a secret, it appears an insider might be selling information.

More than anything, Ivy and Jack want to slide into happily ever after. However, neither of them can rest until they’re sure those most vulnerable are safe.

Ivy’s powers are growing. Her relationship with Jack was always destined to be. They’re both about to get everything they ever wanted … as long as they survive to make it down the aisle.

The big day is finally here.

An Enigma in Silver by Simon HaynesAn Enigma in Silver by Simon Haynes:

England, 1871. A quiet country village is rocked by murder. Police have no leads and no clues, apart from the grisly state of the victim’s body.

Evidence points to a supernatural killer, but Professor Twickham is curiously reluctant to lend his assistance.

Roberta, his daughter, has no such qualms, and she involves me in the case as well… only to turn around and abandon me for a sick friend.

Now I must unmask the vicious killer on my own, but had I only known the truth, I’d never have got involved…

This standalone novel is the second title in the Mysteries in Metal gaslamp fantasy series.

The Almost Good Witch by Erin HussThe Almost Good Witch by Erin Huss:

Abigail was your average evil witch, complete with the hat, the cat, the cackle, and the bad habit of turning people into slugs on a whim. Cursed with eternal life because of a hex gone wrong many centuries ago, Abigail spent her days exacting revenge on those she found to be the vilest of humans, from evil dictators to shoppers who didn’t return their grocery carts.

The line between good and annoying may have gotten blurred over the years.

Sick of spending immortality frozen at the age of twenty-five, Abigail does the only thing she can—turn herself into the Supernatural Crimes Department. Now she’s a member of Dark Magic Anonymous with a three year probation and a parole officer who is annoyingly powerful and more annoyingly cute.

Oh, and she’s traded in her broomstick for a Prius.

After centuries of being evil, Abigail struggles with entering the workforce and being good. But that pesky probation means one slip up will result in a life sentence. She’s not about to let that happen, and things are going well until her boss turns up dead with all evidence pointing to her.

Will Abigail be able to maintain her new good witch ways while she hunts a killer, or will she slip up and spend the rest of forever behind bars?

Resident Spy by Ethan JonesResident Spy by Ethan Jones:

When terrorists attack a black site, they burn it down and kill everyone, except for two CIA operatives who disappear. Were they kidnapped, killed, or complicit?

As the CIA’s foreign liaison, spymaster Justin Hall is called in. He’s not in the best physical or mental state, a fact he’s hiding from almost everyone.

A fact that could dangerously affect the entire mission.

Alone, with no evidence, no leads, and enemies on all sides, Justin must find out what happened. All before the terrorists use the ill-gotten intel to attack other black sites and free the detainees the agency has worked so hard to capture. Fighting on all sides, including his own, will Justin survive the overwhelming odds against him?

Behind Closed Doors by Phillip JordanBehind Closed Doors by Phillip Jordan:

A VIOLENT KILLING. A SUSPECT OFFERING NO DEFENCE. AN OPEN AND SHUT CASE?

Detective Inspector Veronica Taylor is summoned to assist in the aftermath of a horrific domestic incident.

With the suspect offering no opposition to the charges and with witness testimony and his own violent history stacking up against him, the charge officer deems the case open and shut.

As the victim’s influential Mother pressures her police contacts for a quick resolution and with only one lone dissenting voice speaking out, Taylor guided by her own intuition must uncover the circumstances leading up to the tragic events that played out BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS is an introduction to Detective Inspector Veronica Taylor and the gripping Belfast crime series.

Explore the historic yet infamous city of Belfast in this lightning-fast police procedural from a new voice in British and Irish crime fiction that will keep you hooked until its shocking conclusion.

Eggnog, Extortion and Evergreens by Tonya KappesEggnog, Extortion and Evergreens by Tonya Kappes:

Welcome to Normal, Kentucky~ where nothing is normal. A Campers and Criminal Mystery Series is another brainchild of USA Today Bestselling Author Tonya Kappes. If you love her quirky southern characters and small town charm with a mystery to solve, you’re going to love her new cozy mystery series!

Mae West is busy this Christmas season. She’s running around Normal getting the town ready for the first Winter Festival, which she hopes will become an annual event for the tourist town.

The freshly fallen snow sure does make the Daniel Boone National Park beautiful and ready for Santa’s arrival, but it also makes the curvy roads through the forest very slick. Unfortunately, Mae finds out just how slick the roads are after her car slides off the road and hits a tree, putting Mae into a deep coma.

Mae is one of the lucky patients who does wake up and happy to celebrate Christmas with family and friends.

One of the patients in the emergency room with Mae didn’t die that night of natural causes, and Hank Sharp has himself a new homicide case on his hands.

Mae starts having memories about the fire that took her family and a memory of a murder plot that she thinks happened when she was in her coma. Only, she’s having a hard time distinguishing between the two memories and the clues seem to have blurred lines. There’s one thing she does know for sure, both incidents come with clues that neither were accidents.

Once again, Mae West with the help of the Laundry Club Ladies put on their ameatur sleuth cap to help solve the mystery of the murders before the killer sends her Christmas gift she can’t return.

The Witch Is Back by Amanda M. LeeThe Witch Is Back by Amanda M. Lee:

Bay Winchester is living the high life. She’s engaged, owns her own business, and is undergoing a magical transformation, complete with growing powers at every turn. All that changes when a local teenager goes missing at a festival and nobody knows who took her.

The girl’s friends saw the abduction but the description they provide doesn’t match anybody in town. The only other witness is Marcus, her cousin Thistle’s boyfriend, and he was seriously injured in the attack and can’t provide additional information.

Bay is determined to solve the case, although she’s not sure where to look. On top of that, her normal partner in crime is otherwise engaged, which means her mother has decided to tag along for the ride.

Bay is the sort of witch who is willing to put herself on the line to save those who need saving. Unfortunately, this time around, the answers she finds only lead to more questions. On top of that, her great-aunt Willa and cousin Rosemary have arrived in town out of nowhere and they seem to be harboring their own secrets, and it’s something that could change the entire trajectory of Bay’s life.

The Winchesters are loyal, and it’s going to take all of them working together to solve this one. It seems new magic is afoot, and whoever is wielding it is deadly.

Magic, mystery and mayhem are about to collide. Batten down the hatches. The Winchesters are about to take you on a wild ride.

Murder on Holiday Lane by London LovettMurder on Holiday Lane by London Lovett:

It’s a warm and sunny Christmas season in Los Angeles. Things are slow at the Starfire Detective Agency, but Poppy is sure things will pick up after the holidays. When a pretty young starlet who works part-time as an elf at Santa’s Workshop on Holiday Lane is murdered, Poppy’s close friend, the up and coming director, Wyatt Blaze, becomes a prime suspect. Wyatt needs Poppy’s help to find the real killer. Gossip travels fast in Tinseltown and an arrest, even a false arrest, will destroy Wyatt’s career for good.

Now Poppy must start from the very beginning to find out just who had it out for the elf. Is it possible Santa himself is behind the diabolical deed?

Alter Ego by K.A. MassonAlter Ego by K.A. Masson:

Pounding on the door. My seven-year-old son shaking me awake. My head fuzzy with sleeping pills. The hallway flashing with blue light. This morning my life will change forever.

Alex Kendrew is juggling single parenthood, work and dating; with a wild, impetuous streak that’s hard to keep in check, she struggles to find a balance and feels perpetually guilty for the choices she makes.

In K.A. Masson’s domestic noir thriller, Alex begins a passionate affair when an old flame gets in touch. But one morning, the police arrest her for his attempted murder. Someone is framing her; can she prove her innocence as the evidence mounts against her?

Eight Cylinders by Jason ParentEight Cylinders by Jonathan Parent:

Sebastian “Seb” McAlister has run out of luck in Vegas. Cornered by a trigger-happy gang and shot through the stomach, he makes a desperate escape in his supercharged Hellcat. Fate guides Seb safely out of Sin City and into the desert, but as his wheels fade into the horizon, he fades into darkness.

He awakes among a tiny community in the middle of nowhere. A mountain range circles the hodgepodge of shacks like prison walls looming high. And the warden that resides in those mountains is big, ugly, and deadly—a creature straight out of a Lovecraftian nightmare.

If Seb hopes to escape that wayward way station, he’ll need enough cunning to outwit a force beyond comprehension… and a fast car. With a little luck and a ragtag group of would-be monster mashers racing alongside him, Seb just might have a shot of making it through the mountains alive.

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

Not Dead Yet by Willow RoseNot Dead Yet by Willow Rose:

Has former FBI-profiler Eva Rae Thomas finally gotten herself in deeper than she can handle?

When the body of Nancy Henry is pulled out of the water of Sykes Creek by two local fishermen, they soon realize she’s not dead.

Not yet.

Before she disappeared, Nancy Henry appeared to have everything: a successful husband who adored her, two beautiful children, a modeling career, and a charming home in south Merritt Island with a heart wreath on the door.

Now that she is back five years later, everything has changed. Her husband is with another wife, and her children are almost grown.

Everywhere she turns, people are telling her the same thing: We thought you were dead.

What happened to her?

Nancy claims she doesn’t know where she has been. She remembers nothing after a blow to her head. She doesn’t want to talk to the investigation team lead by former FBI-profiler Eva Rae Thomas, who has agreed to help with this bizarre case.

The sheriff’s office soon wants to give up on the case, but Eva Rae doesn’t quite believe in quitting. She sees fear in Nancy Henry’s eyes that makes her think she is lying to them, maybe to protect herself.

What secrets is she carrying?

To get to the truth, Eva Rae must get to the bottom of what really happened on that night five years ago when Nancy Henry disappeared from her home in what looked like a home intrusion. But the past isn’t always easy to dig up, especially not when someone wants it to stay hidden and will go to great lengths to make sure it does.

Someone obviously tried to kill Nancy Henry. Will they come back to finish what they started?

The Diamond Device by M.H. ThaungThe Diamond Device by M.H. Thaung:

After diamond power promises to replace steam, an unemployed labourer and a thieving noble unite to foil an international plot and avert a war.

Alf Wilson resents the new technology that cost him his factory job, especially as his clockwork leg bars him from army enrolment. He daren’t confess his unemployment to his overbearing mother. Desperate over the rent, he ends up in a detention cell with a hangover.

Impoverished Lord Richard Hayes maintains his expensive parliamentary seat by a mixture of charm and burglary. During a poorly planned break-in, he inadvertently witnesses a kidnapping. To cap it all, the police arrest him for the crime. At least he’s using a fake identity. The real criminals make off with not just the professor who discovered diamond power, but her plans for a diamond-fuelled bomb.

When Rich encounters Alf in the neighbouring cell, he sees an opportunity to keep his noble reputation intact. He persuades Alf he’s a secret agent who needs an assistant. This chance association will take them to the oddest locations. But law-abiding Alf’s first assignment? Break Rich out of jail.

The Boy in the Gutter by John TriptychThe Boy in the Gutter by John Triptych:

1947: While Los Angeles is mesmerized by the sensational Black Dahlia murder, an Asian boy’s mutilated body is found in a back alley of Chinatown. With the thoroughly corrupt LAPD unwilling to devote their already strained resources to cracking the case, it seems this grisly crime is destined to remain unsolved.

Tommy “Dapper” Luoo, a Chinese American college student, has dreams of becoming a private detective. Incensed and frustrated by the police’s lack of concern, he decides to help his community by finding out what truly happened.

But all is not what it seems as Dapper is drawn into a web of deceit and danger at every turn. For the City of Angels hides a dark underworld, where devils prey upon the damned and the desperate. Dapper is undaunted however, and he’ll keep on digging for answers, even if it kills him.

If you like hardboiled detective fiction with equal helpings of James Ellroy, Walter Mosley, Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, and Dashiell Hammett, check out this newest crime noir novel by John Triptych. CAUTION: mature themes.

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Star Trek Discovery visits the planet formerly known as Vulcan in “Unification III”

It’s time for the latest installment in my ongoing episode by episode reviews of season 3 of Star Trek Discovery. Reviews of previous episodes may be found here.

Warning: Spoilers behind the cut! Continue reading

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Two New “In Love and War” Stories Available: “Neutral Ground” and “Ballroom Blitz”

I have another new release announcement to make. This one is for the two latest stories in my In Love and War space opera romance series.

Now I don’t always write in chronological order and I’m in good company there, since Lois McMaster Bujold and Fritz Leiber didn’t do it either and they’re both highly acclaimed multiple award-winning authors. And so, both new stories slot into an earlier place in the In Love and War chronology. Besides, the In Love and War stories largely stand alone anyway, though you’ll get more out of the series, if you read them all.

The first of the two new stories is another one to come out of the 2020 July Short Story Challenge, where the aim was to write a short story per day during the month of July. It’s something of a side story, set just before Collision Course and featuring Mikhail’s former commander, Colonel Brian Mayhew of the Republican Special Commando Forces.

It’s been established throughout the series that Mayhew has contacts in the Imperial military. In this story, we finally get to meet one of those contacts, General Roderick Crawford, who’s basically Mayhew’s Imperial counterpart or rather the counterpart of Mayhew’s boss General Honold. Even though they’re theoretically sworn enemies, Mayhew and Crawford get along really well with each other. Unlike Mikhail and Anjali, they don’t draw any conclusions from this at all.

In this story, Mayhew and Crawford meet over tea, coffee and pastries to discuss the very embarrassing matter of Mikhail and Anjali running away together. And yes, there are recipes in the Author’s Note.

So accompany Brian Mayhew and General Roderick Crawford, as they meet on…

Neutral Ground
Neutral Ground by Cora BuhlertTwo old soldiers share a coffee and fight for their lives

The Republic of United Planets and the Empire of Worlds have been at war for eighty-eight years now. But nonetheless, Colonel Brian Mayhew, deputy commander of the Republican Special Commando Forces, meets with his Imperial counterpart General Roderick Crawford to discuss an incident that’s a problem for both of them. For two of their elite soldiers fell in love and ran away with each other, an embarrassment to the Republic and the Empire both.

However, this secret meeting is not as secret as the two men think. And so Mayhew and Crawford are soon fighting for their lives side by side…

This is a novelette of 9500 words or approximately 32 print pages in the In Love and War series by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert, but may be read as a standalone.

More information.
Length: 9500 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Vivlio, 24symbols and XinXii.

The second new In Love and War story originally came about, when I was putting together my annual round-up of Valentine’s Day themed science fiction, fantasy and horror stories and thought, ‘You know, you ought to write another Valentine’s Day story, because holiday stories usually do well.”

So I wrecked my head trying to come up with an idea and finally thought, “Why don’t I write a Valentine’s Day story for the In Love and War series?” After all, it’s space opera romance set in a universe where everybody is descended from people who originally came from Earth, so it makes sense for there to be a Valentine’s Day in that universe. And so the idea was born to send Anjali and Mikhail on a romantic date that’s rudely interrupted by people with blasters.

Unfortunately, it was maybe two weeks before Valentine’s Day 2020, when I had the the idea to write a Valentine’s Day themed adventure in the In Love and War series. Besides, what had been supposed to be a short story turned into a fully fledged novella instead, so the story was not finished in time for Valentine’s Day. And then the pandemic happened and I found myself rather unexpectedly nominated for a Hugo Award and so the story ended up on the backburner for a while, until I picked it up again in the fall of 2020. However, I didn’t want to hold a finished story back until next February either, so instead of being released in time for Valentine’s Day, the story now comes out closer to Christmas.

Anjali and Mikhail celebrate their first anniversary in The Taste of Home. The Valentine’s Day story happens at an earlier point in their relationship, so I rearranged the series order yet again and slotted it inbetween Bullet Holes and Dead World.

Romance, action, crime, food, gratuitous destruction of property – this story has it all. So follow Mikhail and Anjali, as they get caught up in a…

Ballroom Blitz
Ballroom Blitz by Cora BuhlertAnjali and Mikhail go on a Valentine’s Day date. Trouble ensues.

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.

It’s Valentine’s Day and so Mikhail and Anjali enjoy a well-deserved romantic dinner. But their date is rudely interrupted, when they find themselves caught in the crossfire of a turf war between two rival gangsters.

This is a Valentine’s Day novella of 23200 words or approximately 78 print pages in the “In Love and War” series by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert, but may be read as a standalone.

More information.
Length: 23200 words.
List price: 2.99 USD, EUR or 1.99 GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, Vivlio, 24symbols and XinXii.

The title Ballroom Blitz is a reference to the eponymous 1973 song by the British glam rock band The Sweet by the way. I chanced to hear it on the radio one day, while writing the story, and thought, “This is the perfect title for the up to then untitled story.”.

This covers for both stories are by the hyper-talented Tithi Luadthong. In the case of Ballroom Blitz, the cover actually came before the story, because I liked that image so much that I modelled the club where Anjali and Mikhail go for a night of romance and dancing after the image. And yes, that giant chandelier plays an important role in the story.

If you want to give the In Love and War series a try before buying, Double-Cross, another adventure of Anjali and Mikhail, is this month’s free story, which you can read right here on this blog.

And if you want to read the entire series of sixteen stories, the cheapest way to do so is via this handy series bundle, which is available exclusively at DriveThruFiction.

There’ll be at least one more new release announcement for 2020, maybe two, closer to the holidays. But for now, stay safe and healthy and have a happy Thanksgiving and/or First Advent, if you’re celebrating.

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Tha Mandalorian and Baby Yoda meet up with old friends and enemies in “The Siege”

Now I have this week’s Star Trek Discovery review out of the way, it’s time for my episode by episode reviews of season 2 of The Mandalorian again. Previous installments may be found here.

Also, since Star Wars is a Disney property now, may I remind you that Disney is not paying the royalties due to Alan Dean Foster and possibly others as well.

Warning: Spoilers under the cut! Continue reading

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Star Trek Discovery goes on an unsanctioned mission in “Scavengers”

It’s time for the latest installment in my ongoing episode by episode reviews of season 3 of Star Trek Discovery. Reviews of previous episodes may be found here.

Warning: Spoilers behind the cut! Continue reading

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Two Articles in One Day

I’m blogging elsewhere yet again and I had not one but two articles go up today.

The first article is at Galactic Journey. It’s a follow-up piece to last month’s article about East and West German comics in the 1950s and 1960s and focusses on the wide and wonderful world of French, Belgian and Dutch comics. There are a lot of samples of the various comics discussed as well as some historical photos of Brussels and Antwerp in the 1960s.

Why Brussels and Antwerp? Because that’s where I originally discovered and read many of the comics in question as a kid in the 1980s. In retrospect, I should have included some photos of Rotterdam as well, because that’s where my Dad worked in the 1980s and where I discovered and read a lot of those comics as well, almost always in the store, because Franco-Belgian-Dutch comic albums were pricier than US comic books and my reading appetite was more voracious than my pocket money plentiful. I’m also still grateful to the nice booksellers who just let me read in peace, even though they probably knew that I only bought something, when I had saved up enough money.

But even though I’m familiar with all of the comics featured in the article and consider many of the characters childhood friends, the article nonetheless required more research than I initially assumed. For starters, I only read the comics in album form, mostly in the store, so I had no idea where which strip had originally been published. In many cases, I didn’t know the names of the creators either, not to mentioned that many French and Belgian artists work under one word pseudonyms. And if that wasn’t confusing enough, many comics have a French and a Flemish title. Furthermore, most of these titles have never been out of print since they first appeared in the 1950s or 1960s. However, publishers, logos and covers change and therefore a 2020 copy of e.g. Astérix et Cleopatra does not look like a 1965 copy of the some album. Luckily, there are some excellent French and Belgian comic databases and websites. Even better, I can read French and Flemish well enough to navigate them

Finally, I had little idea for how long many comics had been going. In retrospect, it should have been obvious that the sword and sorcery comics I enjoyed as a teen clearly dated from the 1970s and 1980s, but sword and sorcery comics just weren’t a thing in the 1960s. But several strips I thought originated in the 1960s – particularly those with female protagonists like Yoko Tsuno, Comanche, Franka and Natacha – turned out to date from the 1970s and beyond. The Franco-Belgian comics world of the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s was very much a boys’ club with few female characters other than Wiske and Aunt Sidonie of Suske en Wiske fame and Bianca Castafiore of Tintin fame. Though the original Barbarella just slipped in, since her adventures first appeared in 1962. So did Lieutenant Blueberry, the western series Jean Giraud drew before he became Moebius for good, which debuted in 1963. Meanwhile, Valérian et Laureline just missed the boat, since they won’t appear until 1967.

Nonetheless, I had a lot of fun writing that article and revisiting a lot of old friends. It also makes me wonder why the Franco-Belgian-Dutch comics are not more appreciated in the English speaking world beyond some staples like Tintin (and note that Tintin lost the 1944 Retro Hugo to a not very good and racist Wonder Woman comic) and The Smurfs, because the sheer variety and quality of Franco-Belgian-Dutch comics is just amazing.

The other article of mine that went up today is on a subject that immensely important, though not nearly as enjoyable as Franco-Belgian-Dutch comics. For it turns out that Disney has not been paying royalties to Alan Dean Foster for his novelisation of the first Star Wars movie (which would subsequently become known as A New Hope), Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, the first ever Star Wars tie-in novel, as well as the novelisations of Alien, Aliens and Alien 3 since they bought up Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox. Today, Alan Dean Foster and Mary Robinette Kowal, president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, went public with the issue and held a joint press conference. I covered the press conference for File 770 and wrote an article about it. My fellow Best Fan Writer Hugo finalist Adam Whitehead also reports about the issue at The Wertzone.

Basically, Disney claims that they purchased the rights to sell the novels in question, when they purchased Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox, but that they did not purchase the obligations to pay Alan Dean Foster royalties, as required by the original contracts. This flies in the face of every contract law in the world. As I said in the File 770 article, I translate a lot of contracts for my day job and every single one contains a clause that in case of a merger or buyout, any rights and obligations are transferred to the legal successor of the company that signed the contract. So what Disney is doing to Alan Dean Foster is flat out illegal.

I own a copy of the original Star Wars novelisation, which has the distinction of being the first English language science fiction novel I ever read, as well as Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. My battered paperback copy of Star Wars, purchased in 1988 at an import bookstore at three times the cover price, proudly states on the cover “5 Million in Print”. I can only imagine how many more copies must have been sold in the thirty-two years since.

As Mary Robinette Kowal said in the press conference, the potential implications of Disney’s behaviour are huge. Hundreds of Star Wars tie-in novels have been published since Alan Dean Foster wrote Splinter in the Mind’s Eye, not to mention comics and other media. Disney also purchased the rights to 81 years worth of Marvel Comics, a whole lot of X-Files tie-in novels which came out in the 1990s and early 2000s, lots of Muppets and Simpsons related books and other media, novelisations for all sorts of other movies and TV shows, etc… And Disney isn’t the only huge media conglomerate out there. There are others who may be just as bad. Alan Dean Foster’s case may very well be just the tip of the iceberg.

Two years ago, I wrote that Disney gobbling up media companies like potato chips was cause for concern, even if they had largely been benevolent so far, though there were signs of that changing. Disney’s behaviour in the Alan Dean Foster case is far from benevolent and I hope that they will come around and pay the outstanding royalties soon.

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The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda get their bacons saved by “The Heiress

Now I have this week’s Star Trek Discovery review out of the way, it’s time for my episode by episode reviews of season 2 of The Mandalorian again. Previous installments (well, actually just two and an aggregate review of season 1) may be found here.

Warning: Spoilers under the cut! Continue reading

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