Cora is a Hugo Finalist Again!

Hugo Award Logo

As you probably know, the finalists for the 2021 Hugo Awards have just been announced. You can watch the announcement video on the DisCon III YouTube channel. And I promise you that the detailed analysis of the finalists, which I know you’re all waiting for, is coming as soon as I can get it done.

But for now, I want to focus on just one category, namely the 2021 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer. Cause if you take a look at that category, you will find – among most excellent company – my name.

Yes, I’m a Hugo finalist for Best Fan Writer again!

I’ve known about this for about three weeks now (for those who don’t know, the Hugo coordinators contact you beforehand to ask if you want to accept the nomination). Indeed, I got the mail from DisCon III about three hours after I posted my Open Letter to the 2021 Hugo Finalists on this blog.

It’s a great honour to be a Hugo finalist for the second time and I want to thank everybody who nominated me. I’m also in the excellent company of Paul Weimer, Alasdair Stuart, Jason Sanford, Charles Payseur and Elsa Sjunneson, all of whom are great fan writers.

Unfortunately, DisCon III recently moved their dates to the fourth advent weekend, which is way too close to the holidays for me to attend, even if the German and US government will let me travel. So sadly, I will lose out on my chance to attend the Hugo ceremony in person as well as the reception beforehand and the Hugo Losers’ Party afterwards again. That said, I got the full Hugo finalist experience in Dublin in 2019 as the designated accepter for Galactic Journey. But I’m still sad I can’t go, though on the plus side I don’t have to buy a new evening gown.

I also have a request. Like all Hugo finalists, I will be asked to put together a selection of writings for the Hugo voters packet. And that’s why I need your help. Which 2020 articles, essays or reviews of mine should go into the Hugo Voters packet? There is a full list here, so let me know in the comments which ones you think should go into the packet. You can still download my 2020 Hugo Voter Packet for free here BTW.

How can you vote for the 2021 Hugos? I guess pretty much everybody here knows how it works, but for those who don’t, it’s quite simple. If you buy a supporting membership for DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon, you can vote for the Hugo Awards as well as vote to select the location of the 2023 Worldcon. You also receive all of the convention publications and get access to the Hugo Voters’ packet, which contains most of the nominated works either in part or as a whole. If you buy a virtual membership, you can also attend the virtual panels and other events online. If you want to attend in person, you’ll need an attending membership.

As I said above, the detailed analysis of the 2021 Hugo ballot is coming soon. But for now, I just want to say thank you for nominating me.

ETA: Many thanks to Malka Older for pronouncing my name (and those of the other finalists) correctly. Her unicorn hat as well as Sheree Renée Thomas’ cyberpunk headgear were also a delight.

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“The Whole World Is Watching” The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

First all, I have a new article up at Galactic Journey today. This time around, I review the classic East German fairy tale movie King Thrushbeard, which stars a very young Manfred Kurg.

It’s time for my episode by episode reviews of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. If you want my thoughts on previous episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, go here. Also, may I remind you that Disney is still not paying Alan Dean Foster and others.

ETA: Camestros Felapton briefly weighs in on the episode as well.

Warning: Spoilers behind the cut! Continue reading

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First Monday Free Fiction: Angoraphobia

Operation Rubber Ducky by Cora BuhlertWelcome to the April 2021 edition of First Monday Free Fiction.

To recap, inspired by Kristine Kathryn Rusch who posts a free short story every week on her blog, I’ll post a free story on every first Monday of the month.

Since it’s Easter Monday, what could be more appropriate than a seasonal story? And so this week’s free story is “Angoraphobia” from my SFF collection Operation Rubber Ducky. No, the title is not a typo, though the story was inspired by someone mistyping “agoraphobia” as “angoraphobia”, whereupon I wondered, “So what would angoraphobia be then? A pathological fear of fluffy sweaters?” The story grew from there.

But what exactly makes a story about people suffering from a pathological fear of fluffy sweaters appropriate to the Easter season? Well, because there are also fluffy killer bunnies from outer space, ’nuff said.

So read all about the shocking new psychiatric condition known as…

Angoraphobia

“And this…” Professor Pohland came to a halt in front of a locked patient room. “…is a particularly interesting case. For you see, this patient suffers from an extreme form of angoraphobia.”

“Ahem…” One of the interns, a young man with pale skin and shaggy dark hair, raised his hand. Of course. There was always one. “Don’t you mean agoraphobia, Professor?”

“No, Mister…?”

Professor Pohland turned the full force of his glare onto the intern, who promptly crumbled.

“Zach… Zacharias.”

“No, Mr. Zacharias, I meant angoraphobia.” Professor Pohland turned on the rest of the interns, eyes blinking furiously behind his little round glasses. “So who knows what angoraphobia is? Anybody? Anybody?”

The interns exchanged glances, clearly confused. Finally, one of them, a young dark-skinned man with a chubby face, stuck up his hand. The clown of the group. Of course.

“Yes, Mr. Wendell?”

“Pathological fear of fluffy sweaters,” Mr. Wendell said, obviously barely able to keep himself from giggling.

“Well, this is surprisingly accurate, Mr. Wendell,” Professor Pohland said, “I’m stunned, I truly am. Though the official definition of angoraphobia is a bit wider than just pathological fear of fluffy sweaters. Indeed, angoraphobia involves a pathological fear of any products made from angora wool or similar materials due to the delusional belief that giant fluffy rabbits are trying to take over the Earth.”

Mr. Wendell broke down first, erupting into a fit of laughter. Soon all the interns were giggling.

“And that’s like… a thing?” Mr. Zacharias wanted to know, “I mean people believing that giant rabbits are trying to take over the Earth is honestly a thing?”

***

This story was available for free on this blog for one month only, but you can still read it in Operation Rubber Ducky. And if you click on the First Monday Free Fiction tag, you can read this month’s free story.

 

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier tangle with the “Power Broker”

Apparently, I am doing episode by episode reviews for the entire series of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, so if you want my thoughts on previous episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, go here. Also, may I remind you that Disney is still not paying Alan Dean Foster and others.

Warning: Spoilers behind the cut! Continue reading

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Clues and Easter Eggs 2021 – A Round-Up of Indie Easter Mysteries and Crime Fiction

Clues and Easter eggs bannerOur monthly round-ups of new speculative fiction and new crime fiction releases by indie authors are a perennially popular feature. Therefore, we now offer you a round-up of our favourite Easter mysteries, crime novels and thrillers by indie and small press authors.

The holiday mysteries cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, culinary mysteries, animal mysteries, paranormal mysteries, historical mysteries, police procedurals, crime thrillers, police officers, amateur sleuths, drug dealers, vanished bodies, stolen Fabergé eggs, missing children, kidnappings, deadly Easter egg hunts, crime-fighting bakers, crime-fighting hairstylists, crime-fighting dogs and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set on or around Easter.

As always with my round-up posts, this round-up of the best indie holiday mysteries 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:

The Easter Evader by Mathiya AdamsThe Easter Evader by Mathiya Adams:

MacFarland has been asked to solve a murder–but the body has disappeared!

The Easter Evader, a special holiday novella, just in time for those enjoying the Easter holidays who want something short to read. MacFarland must find out what happened to the body of a deceased teenager. Was it stolen for nefarious purposes, or is something even more sinister going on? Rufus and MacFarland join forces to solve the case of the Easter Evader.

 

The Easter Make Believers by Finn BellThe Easter Make Believers by Finn Bell:

When an innocent family is taken hostage in their home no one is prepared for how fast it all goes terribly wrong.

With the small community of Lawrence still reeling from shock, detectives Nick Cooper and Tobe White stand among the dead bodies knowing it’s not over. Relief that the two young daughters have survived quickly turns to fear for their missing father, somehow impossibly vanishing from a house surrounded by police.

The mystery deepens as Nick and Tobe realize they know every gunman lying dead here – up to last night they were the leaders of the biggest criminal gang in the country. The desperate search and rescue efforts soon collide with their own challenging investigation into a deeper, older tragedy.

Where they begin to learn just how far someone will go for those he truly, dearly hates.

Bloody Easter by Ray BoxallBloody Easter by Ray Boxall:

Crime thriller set in London in the present. Taking place over an eight day period during Easter, what starts as a massive police effort to finally end the criminal career of London’s biggest home-grown drug dealer turns into a nightmare as lives are lost, reputations destroyed, and personal relationships are shattered.

Nineteen years ago, as a teenager, Detective Inspector Ray Chalmers applied to join the Metropolitan Police Force, arguing it needed people like him from the City’s huge social housing estates as they could best relate to the criminals’ outlook and lives. But he told lies on his application form. Now, when agreeing to join the Serious Crime Squad that is after London’s biggest drug dealer, he omits to mention he once lived with the man’s sister-in-law.

In attempting to get his revenge on the man for destroying his teenage years, Ray leaves no stone unturned, using his private knowledge of the man. But no-one is prepared for the murderous response of the dealer’s secret Russian business associates.Then Ray’s secret past returns to haunt him when he meets the nineteen year old girl that he abandoned when she was only five months’ old. She has all the answers to the case, but is also the go-between for the drug dealer and his Russian associates, and has long written off her life as valueless. She also has her own secret agenda and, clashing with Ray, unleashes her resentment on him without caring about the possible consequences to herself. It leaves a guilt-stricken Ray with no choice but to prevent her from self-destruction, and stake everything on bringing the dealer and his associates to justice.

The Fabergé Easter Egg by Sharon E. BuckThe Fabergé Easter Egg by Sharon E. Buck:

Parker Bell is being yanked back to Po’thole once again. This time she’s involved in an international mystery surrounding a Fabergé Easter Egg and a Russian billionaire.

Snowbirds Anne and Chauncey Livingstone aka Tsar Chauncey and Tsarina Anne winter in Po’thole, pronounced Po Ho by the natives and Pot Hole by anyone north of the Georgia state line, from the frigid tundra north (Maine). They have a Fabergé egg. Is it real or is it a fake? What does Russian billionaire Anatoly Petrov have to do with it?

Bestselling author and computer company owner Parker Bell is back in her hometown for international mystery, intrigue, and, of course, Po’thole’s own brand of craziness with the Lady Gatorettes – Misty Dawn, Mary Jane, Rhonda Jean, Flo, and Myrtle Sue – five hormonal caffeine-and-sugar infused women who are die-hard University of Florida football fans.

Why are the Russians so intent on trying to kidnap or kill everyone over the Fabergé Easter egg? Why in Po’thole of all places?

A hilarious romp with crazy characters and believable enough that it might be true. The Fabergé Easter Egg is the 3rd book in the Parker Bell Cozy Mystery series.

Egg Hunt by Cora BuhlertEgg Hunt by Cora Buhlert:

When a priceless Fabergé egg goes missing from a locked room in the London townhouse of Russian oligarch Yevgeny Ivanov, everybody quickly suspects Eva Hart, Ivanov’s cleaning lady and single mother.

But Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd has her doubts about this theory, for Eva Hart has no motive, since the egg is unsellable on the free market. But what does Eva’s little daughter Emily know? And what happened to the egg?

This is a mystery novelette of 7500 words or approx. 25 pages.

Easter, 1929 by Frank W. Butterfield:

Sunday, March 31, 1929

Mrs. Wilson Jones (Louise) of Albany, Georgia, wakes up on yet another Sunday morning to discover her husband didn’t come home after carousing down at Louray’s by the river.

But she doesn’t have time to worry. Easter dinner will be at her sister’s house and Mrs. Jones has biscuits to bake. So, she turns on the radio, begins to sing with The Chambers Family Quintet, broadcasting over WSJ in Atlanta, and gets the buttermilk out of the icebox. There’s work to be done and Mrs. Jones is a good cook, keeps a clean house, and always delivers on her promises.

Welcome to a year of holidays with Nick Williams and Carter Jones!

This is the eight in a series of short stories all centered around specific holidays.

Each story is a vignette that stands on its own and takes place from the 1920s to 2008.

Easter Buried Eggs by Lyndsey ColeEaster Buried Eggs by Lyndsey Cole:

The smell of burnt cake is not a good omen for Annie when she arrives at the Black Cat Cafe. But little does she know that her Aunt Leona’s cooking disaster is only the first of many problems she’ll be served in a big basket of cracked Easter eggs.

Annie quickly learns that being in charge at the Black Cat Café isn’t all chocolate-covered strawberries and carrot cakes. In addition to the variety of tasty pastries she needs to make for Easter, she stumbles on a body and what appears to be a robbery.

With money disappearing from bank accounts, snooping seniors appearing out of the blue, and clues turning up in the most unlikely places, Annie’s problems sizzle more than Leona’s hot cross buns.

Determined to help her new friends, Annie and her therapy dog land in the middle of a murder investigation. Clues pile higher than a basket of Easter eggs, all pointing to one of the seniors. Annie searches for something to keep her friend from landing in a jail cell but instead, Annie ends up right in the killer’s crosshairs.

Easter Hair Hunt by Nancy J. CohenEaster Hair Hunt by Nancy J. Cohen:

Hare today, dead tomorrow… Can a stylish sleuth pull a rabbit out of her hat to solve an Easter murder in this to-dye-for cozy mystery?

When hairstylist Marla Vail attends an Easter egg hunt at historic Tremayne Manor, she’s only there to fix hair for a client, Bonnie “Blinky” Morris. But when she’s asked to comb the grounds for leftover goodies, Marla discovers more than just a few dyed eggs. The dead body in the bunny costume is definitely not having a good hare day. And Blinky seems to have disappeared down a rabbit hole.

When trying to solve a murder, everyone needs a friend who’s all ears. For Marla, that’s her husband, homicide detective Dalton Vail. They make an eggcellent team. Dalton isn’t the kind to leap to conclusions, but with his wife seven months pregnant, and knowing Marla finds crime-solving to be irresistible, he worries about her running off on another hare-raising adventure.

Marla’s peeps are hoping for a happy ending, but she may have found a basketful of trouble this time. Can she crack the case before Blinky becomes the next victim?

Big Bunny Bump Off by Kathi DaleyBig Bunny Bump Off by Kathi Daley:

Spring is in the air and with the warm weather comes an abundance of babies; human and otherwise. Things seem to be right on course until Jack Frost comes to town throwing the entire town of Ashton Falls into chaos. When Zoe sees the Easter Bunny running from a murder scene during a freak snowstorm she must track down the ‘Cartoon Bandits’ in order to catch a killer.

 

 

Easter Escapade by Kathi DaleyEaster Escapade by Kathi Daley:

In the first ever crossover episode, Zak and Zoe join forces with Hawaiian visitors Luke and Lani, to find out who killed a historian visiting Ashton Falls in order to find a treasure map left by his grandfather a hundred years earlier. Meanwhile, Ellie and Levi move in with Zak and Zoe while the boathouse is being renovated and Alex helps Ellie prepare the nursery for baby Eli who is due to be born any day. Throw in some humor and Easter fun and you have a Zak and Zoe crossover mystery.

 

Hippity Hoppity Homicide by Kathi DaleyHippity Hoppity Homicide by Kathi Daley:

It comes down to a few critical seconds as Zoe is forced to either outsmart a genius or watch her husband die.

With Easter only a week away, Zoe is pulled into a dangerous game after Zak is kidnapped, and the person who kidnapped him, challenges Zoe to The Sleuthing Game. Zoe is told that the only way to gain Zak’s freedom is to complete the challenges in the time allotted.

If she fails, Zak will die.

Zoe had promised she would retire from sleuthing now that she had an infant to care for, but the stakes are high, so she leaves the kids with Ellie, while she and Levi set out to beat a madman at their own game.

Lord James Harrington and the Easter Mystery by Lynn FlorkiewiczLord James Harrington and the Easter Mystery by Lynn Florkiewicz:

Meet Lord James Harrington and his delightful wife, Beth; residents of the tiny village of Cavendish, deep in the heart of West Sussex in England. They adore hosting seasonal events, running their country hotel, keeping the local folklore alive and listening to the latest murder mystery on the wireless. But mysteries don’t always remain on the airwaves…

It’s Easter and the Cavendish residents are discussing the traditional festivities along with the proposed Easter egg hunt on the Harrington estate. But when the vicar’s dog digs up a bone, things take a turn for the worse. Retracing the dog’s walk, James uncovers a skeleton buried in the woods. Studying the remains, he identifies a number of expensive items. With the likelihood that the victim could be someone well-to-do, James is concerned that he may know the victim and puts his sleuthing hat on.

With investigations under way and a long list of suspects with motive and opportunity, James is confident that it won’t take long to solve the mysterious death. But a chance conversation turns the whole enquiry on its head. With his good friend, DCI Lane, involved in a current murder enquiry, James takes it upon himself to delve deeper. His questions take him from the quiet village of Cavendish to the beautiful city of Boston where more surprises await. James calls upon many of his contacts to help him track down the murderer. Will he bring the killer to justice or is he on a wild goose chase?

Join James, Beth and the Cavendish regulars as they enjoy the Easter events and embark on another adventure.

Easter Sunday by Thomas HollydayEaster Sunday by Thomas Hollyday:

A father’s love and family anguish. Hank Green’s young son, Bobby, is lost in a cave beneath a water-drenched swamp of the Chesapeake Bay. The wilderness is known for Native American mystery as well as an unsolved World War Two secret. Even worse, a powerful Easter Sunday storm with its flood surge is barreling down. Hank rushes to join the team of experienced local firemen and friends who will try to find and rescue his son before the boy drowns. Yet he feels once again his own numbing personal terror. He is overcome by a lifelong claustrophobic fear of entering closed spaces like caves. It’s a phobia he inherited from his immigrant father, a displaced person from the 1945 European war, and his own Vietnam experience. He knows if the others lose hope and fail, he will go on alone and risk his life to save his child. He must find a way to conquer his weakness but time is running out.

Killer Easter Pie by Carolyn Q. HunterKiller Easter Pie by Carolyn Q. Hunter:

When a jewelry shop in the Old Market is robbed, and an expensive jeweled egg is stolen, it seems someone might be out to ruin Easter.

For pie shop owner Bertha Hannah, however, she has very little time to think about crime as she is preparing for the annual city Easter Egg Hunt at the community gardens. Businesses and churches from all over the city are contributing to the event, and Bert has a new pie recipe planned for the day.

Festivities are brought to a screeching halt, however, when a body is found in the bushes. Is this new death connected to the egg robbery? When the finger of accusation seems to be pointed in the direction of a friend, Bert knows it is up to her to solve this mystery before the Easter Bunny hops away with all the clues.

Easter Eggs and Shotgun Shells by Madison JohnsEaster Eggs and Shotgun Shells by Madison Johns

Being in charge of the annual Easter Egg Hunt is challenging enough for Agnes and Eleanor, but even more so when they assist Bernice in finding rabbits for the event. Unfortunately for the sleuths, instead of bunnies, they stumble across a body.

The sleuths are hunting for the killer now, but soon it appears the killer is hunting for them too. Can Agnes and Eleanor outsmart the killer or will they become the next victims?

 

Bunny Drop by Linda P. KozarBunny Drop by Linda P. Kozar:

To bunnies everywhere! From jackrabbits to cottontails to lovable lop-eared cuties, chinchillas, harlequins, dwarfs, angoras and each and every breed, I dedicate this mystery to the rascally rabbits of the world. Oh, and especially to chocolate Easter bunnies. My favorite kind.

 

 

 

The Easter Egg Ennui by Katy LeenThe Easter Egg Ennui by Katy Leen:

It’s almost Easter. Time for bunnies, bonnets, and bonbons. Not bedlam. Unless you’re Lora Weaver, that is.

With the scent of spring in the air and the promise of a long weekend looming, Lora is looking forward to a few days relaxing with her beau Adam, taking long walks and short naps snuggled together in the warm glow of Easter chocolate wrappers.

Until Lora spots a bouquet of Easter lilies at the home of bff Camille Caron’s aunt and soon finds herself donning a bunny suit and slinging more than Easter eggs.

Whiskers deep in a mêlée of sparring seniors, Lora must keep herself from falling into a rabbit hole she can’t escape. All while grappling with the clamorous Caron clan, mama-to-be Tina, and Lora’s enigma of a boss, Laurent, who may be hiding more secrets than a Kinder egg.

The Easter Egg Ennui is a holiday novella from the Lora Weaver series.

The Easter Sunday Slaughter by Imogen PlimpThe Easter Sunday Slaughter by Imogen Plimp:

APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY FLOWERS
And a bouquet of murderous intrigue…

Amateur sleuth (and ace baker) Claire Andersen is back! Winter melts to spring in scenic Galway, Maryland, uncovering blooming friendships new and old, a shyly budding romance, the rotten stench of organized crime, and family drama more garish than Claire’s emerging blood lilies.

Settling in just fine to her new Appalachian digs (and getting the hang of this whole proprietress of a B&B thing, too!), NYC native Claire Andersen is living a cozy small town fairy tale. There are quirky local characters and adorable little shops, not to mention a kitchen full of mouth-watering baked goodies. She’s a veritable June Cleaver—if Leave It to Beaver were nestled in the mountains and June were a recently retired empty nester, that is.

There’s just one problem. Claire can hardly say “Gee, golly” before her newly-acquainted and much-beloved neighbor winds up murdered in cold blood, right before Galway’s annual Easter parade. Hot off the heels of her last murder, Claire can’t help but get involved (much to the chagrin of the well-meaning albeit bumbling town sheriff). She can hardly help herself, after all. The murder did take place right next door … and the victim’s family is staying in her B&B… Ever the hostess, poking around is the least she could do.

Little does Claire know the victim’s family is just the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the iceberg consists of age-old secrets so duplicitous, they’d make Eddie Haskell run for the hills.

Mix in Claire’s feisty sidekick Evelyn, her ever-lovable bloodhound Rupert, and a mountain of mocha and strawberry buttercream cupcakes—and Claire finds she’s in business. The sleuthing business. Perhaps even the mafia business. But she’d better tread carefully—or she’ll wind up another discarded, frozen body in the aforementioned iceberg (with a spring thaw nowhere in sight).

Chicory is Trickery by Sheri RicheyChicory is Trickery by Sheri Richey:

It’s springtime in Spicetown and Mayor Cora Mae Bingham discovers there may be trouble blooming along with the rhododendrons!

With construction in full throttle in the new subdivisions and the income tax filing deadline looming over her head, Mayor Cora Mae Bingham is revamping the Annual Easter Eggs-Travaganza and trying to figure out who is in the Easter bunny suit this year, when a dead body has to be added to her To-Do list.

 

The Easter Egg Murder by Patricia Smith WoodThe Easter Egg Murder by Patricia Smith Wood:

Harrie McKinsey and her best friend and business partner Ginger Vaughn discover that some secrets are best left buried when retired Senator Philip Lawrence hires their editing firm to assist him with a book about the famous unsolved 1950 murder of a cocktail waitress that led to the end of illegal casinos in New Mexico. When the Albuquerque newspaper announces that Senator Lawrence is writing the book, one person with a connection to the case is murdered and another narrowly escapes death. Despite the best efforts of Ginger’s husband and an FBI agent Harrie finds infuriatingly attractive, the energetic pair cannot resist trying to discover who is so anxious to destroy the book, the senator and his big secret. But will their proficiency and pluck be up to the challenge when they land in a dark house with a cold, calculating killer who has nothing else to lose?

A Medium's Easter Epiphany by Chariss K. WalkerA Medium’s Easter Epiphany by Chariss K. Walker:

A boyfriend changes everything!

In book five of the Becky Tibbs cozy, ghost mystery series, Becky must learn how to juggle her personal and business life now that she has a real boyfriend! This is a first for Becky and her new schedule sometimes feels overwhelming.

At Becky’s encouragement, Bobby and Barbara have finally decided to accept their special ability too. At least, they are open to using their gift if the opportunity presents itself.

Barbara actually manages to help someone new with their ghost problem and the meeting turns into something more. Unlike Marty, Barb’s ex-boyfriend, this new person, Christopher, accepts Barbara and her capabilities exactly as she is. In fact, he is impressed.

Jealousy rears its ugly head!

Marty finally goes off the deep end and Becky must help Patty come to terms with his rage.

Becky’s epiphany, or sudden realization, is a concept that would be beneficial to everyone.

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Magic and Easter Eggs 2021 – A Round-up of Indie Easter Speculative Fiction

Magic and Easter Eggs bannerOur monthly round-ups of new speculative fiction and new crime fiction releases by indie authors are a perennially popular feature. Therefore, we now offer you a round-up of our favourite Easter speculative fiction by indie and small press authors.

These Easter stories cover the broad spectrum of speculative fiction. We have paranormal romance, paranormal mystery, children’s fantasy, science fiction, horror, dragons, werewolves, were-reindeer, Easter elves, magical geese, crime-busting mediums, fluffy killer bunnies from outer space and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set on or around Easter.

As always with my round-up posts, this round-up of the best indie holiday speculative fiction is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog 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:

Operation Rubber Ducky by Cora BuhlertOperation Rubber Ducky by Cora Buhlert:

Three short tales of anthropomorphic terror, featuring Trojan toys, axe-wielding ducks and fluffy killer rabbits from outer space.

When the world is besieged by Kaiju, the only weapon that can stop them turns out to be a rubber ducky with a deadly secret…

His name is whispered in terror: Mock Duck, the mad axe-man of Chinatown, deadly enforcer for the triads. No one has ever seen his face and lived to tell the tale. Which is probably for the better, because Mock Duck’s nickname is more accurate than anybody could have guessed…

It’s the latest psychiatric epidemic to sweep the nation: Angoraphobia, a pathological fear of fluffy angora sweaters. Those who suffer from the disorder claim that fluffy killer rabbits from outer space are trying to conquer the Earth and exterminate humanity. Are they merely deluded or could they perchance be right?

Three bizarro short stories of 7000 words or approximately 24 pages altogether.

Legend of the Easter Dragon by Kelsey HodgeLegend of the Easter Dragon by Kelsey Hodge:

Alwyn

Secrets and ancient prophecies are all make-believe, right?

I’m nobody special, just your average person looking forward to the one day a year I get to spend with my best friend. Suddenly, when fairytales and prophecies storm into my life, everything changes… quite literally.

Llewellyn

Some secrets are necessary when the truth is unbelievable.

Alwyn’s always been special to me, but there are things I keep hidden from him. Revelations that are too unbelievable for the human world. When my best friend is suddenly thrust into my world, the truth must be told, and our friendship and future change in ways I never expected—but always secretly hoped for.

Collected Easter Horror Shorts, edited by Kevin J. KennedyCollected Easter Horror Shorts, edited by Kevin J. Kennedy:

From the darkest recesses of some of the horror world’s most chilling minds, Kevin J. Kennedy brings back together some of the authors that brought you Collected Christmas Horror Shorts, alongside several new authors, from upcoming indie stars to Amazon top sellers.

Whether you like Easter or not, you’ll certainly have a different view of it after you read the stories contained within these pages.

Grab an Easter egg, dim the lights, get cosy and get ready for some chilling tales by some of the horror world’s finest.

C.S.Anderson – He Has Risen
Christopher Motz – Magic Awaits
Veronica Smith? – It’s Not All About Bunnies and Chocolates
Peter Oliver Wonder? – Easter Gunny
Mark Cassell? – The Rebirth
Andrew Lennon? – Trying To Write A Horror Story
Mark Lukens? – Mia’s Easter Basket
Lex Jones? – SonnesHill
JC Michael? – Lord of The Dance
Steven Stacy – Echoes of The Bunny-Man
Weston Kincade? & David Chrisley – An Easter Prayer
Christina Bergling? – Hatch
James Matthew Byers? – Killer Jelly Beans from Outer Space (poem)
Jeff Menapace? – Paying It Forward
Jeff Strand? – Rotten Eggs
Lisa Vasquez? – Bunny and Clyde
Mark Fleming? – Sulphur
Suzanne Fox – Last Supper
Briana Robertson? – Baby Blues
Latashia Figueroa – Easter Eggs
Amy Cross – Lamb to Slaughter
Kevin J. Kennedy – A Town Called Easter

Georgie's Eggcellent Adventure by Sam E. KraemerGeorgie’s Eggcellent Adventure by Sam E. Kraemer:

Georgie Peppermint

What’s an elf gotta do to get respect?

When I’m called to Administration, I’m skeptical that the summons is related to any appreciation the Claus’ feel about how hard I work in the Porcelain Department as a detail painter. I believe it’s somehow in retaliation for my misunderstood relationship with Jingle Bell. Much to my surprise—and concern—I’m given a new assignment to become the Ambassador to the Mystical Convention… I’m being sent to the South Pacific to assist the Easter Bunny.

What awaits me isn’t clear, but I’m determined to shine at my task and show all the nay-sayers that Georgie Peppermint is destined for greatness.

***

Remy Beauchamp

Spring. A symbol of rebirth with blooming flowers, trees, and the arrival of babies in every species. It was always my favorite time of the year, but this year it’s bittersweet. I have a lovely life that’s idyllic to everyone who sees it, but all I see when I look around is loss.

For years, I’ve provided the eggs for Peter Cotton, a local import/exporter on Rapa Nui—Easter Island to outsiders—who holds a worldwide food drive every Spring to celebrate the rebirth on the planet. Sadly, I lost my partner last year, and unless I can find some help, I won’t be able to produce nearly enough eggs to help feed the masses.

Enter the oddly beautiful man wearing tourist clothes and a strange little straw hat. He’s nice and hard-working, a friend of Mr. Cotton’s, and has been sent to the island to assist me. I’m not sure how he can help, but with the sweetly cynical man around, I’m a lot less lonely.

People say there’s magic on Easter Island, thanks to the gods and goddesses who watch over its inhabitants, but never did I believe I’d come face-to-face with the manifestation of the mystical forces. And it all starts with the arrival of Georgie Pepper.

This work of fiction is approximately 32,000 words in length and doesn’t end in a cliffhanger. It is part of the Easter series, “Elves After Dawn.”

The Elf's Easter Wolf by Beau LeFebvreThe Elf’s Easter Wolf by Beau LeFebvre

What’s a wolf to do when he’s the spare and not the heir to the Alpha of the pack?

Markos was looking forward to Easter, and now it’s been ruined by his father’s announcement that he is to be mated to an omega from another pack.

Not gonna happen.

Leaving his pack behind, Markos becomes lost and, guided only by his wolf’s instincts, finds himself in a valley filled with the colors of spring, the smells of chocolate, and a meadow full of numerous fluffy puffballs… Bunnies?

What was Fate thinking?

Estienne never expected his mate to show up out of nowhere, or to be a wolf, for that matter. And right before Easter of all times.

Maybe ignoring the big bad wolf would be the best idea for now…

But the Easter Bunny has other ideas, and Estienne’s own bunny isn’t so averse to the idea of Markos as a mate. Throw in the arrival of an entire wolf pack, and Easter preparations are tossed completely off the rails.

Just great.

The Elf’s Easter Wolf is a Paranormal MM romance of around 30,000 words featuring a workaholic elf bunny shifter and his surprise Easter wolf shifter mate.

My Clearwater Elf by Morgan MasonMy Clearwater Elf by Morgan Mason:

After a split with his business associate, Matthew moves in with his dad, determined to help him restore his old farmhouse. His world is turned upside down when a small stranger with pointy ears trespasses on their land and steals off with an injured rabbit they’d rescued. Together with his dad, Matthew goes for a hike into the forest near their property in search of the mysterious but gorgeous bunny thief.

Calaet is a conscientious, hard-working elf, who’s committed to helping his colony make every Easter into a success. The newly appointed hare in charge threatens to topple all of his hard work when he fails to show up in time to oversee the preparations for Easter. Cal sets out in search of the missing delegate and stumbles upon the most stunning brute he’s ever laid eyes on. When the same man turns up ill outside their protected grove, Cal feels compelled to help him. Even if that means bringing humans into their colony for the first time … ever.

With their mutual attraction growing, what begins as an offer that can’t be refused turns into an unexpected bond. Can Matt and Cal make what they’ve discovered last, or will their unorthodox mating be too much to handle?

The Reindeer's Easter Family by Elizabeth Ann PriceThe Reindeer’s Easter Family by Elizabeth Ann Price:

Tank, the largest and possibly most patient reindeer shifter in his herd, finds himself with a new task – guarding the charity center where a fellow reindeer’s mate works. Not a problem… that is, until two unspeakably adorable twins clamp themselves on his legs and their sister lets slip that she knows he happens to be a reindeer shifter.

Worried about their shifter secret leaking, Tank investigates and when he sees their mother in danger, well, what else is a reindeer to do but save the day?

But can Tank save Marion and her unbelievably cute offspring before a wolf shifter takes them away from him forever?

Elfing Up Easter by Sophie E. RussellElfing Up Easter by Sophie E. Russell

Arlo and Mr. Santa are enjoying their new life together, but when the actual Santa Claus asks them to help find the missing Easter Bunny, their relationship is put to the test. Arctic Elf twins, Finn and Torr, lead them on a wild duck(?) chase through the Appalachian Mountains while they try to get their new toy business off the ground and locate the missing rabbit(?) before the land dies, taking the magic of Easter with it.

 

 

The Goose That Laid Golden Easter Eggs by Emily Martha SorensenThe Goose That Laid Golden Easter Eggs by Emily Martha Sorensen

The family has a magical new goose. One that quacks and moos and lays magical eggs. So what happens when Junior feeds it his sister’s watch?

 

 

 

 

A Medium's Easter Epiphany by Chariss K. WalkerA Medium’s Easter Epiphany by Chariss K. Walker:

A boyfriend changes everything!

In book five of the Becky Tibbs cozy, ghost mystery series, Becky must learn how to juggle her personal and business life now that she has a real boyfriend! This is a first for Becky and her new schedule sometimes feels overwhelming.

At Becky’s encouragement, Bobby and Barbara have finally decided to accept their special ability too. At least, they are open to using their gift if the opportunity presents itself.

Barbara actually manages to help someone new with their ghost problem and the meeting turns into something more. Unlike Marty, Barb’s ex-boyfriend, this new person, Christopher, accepts Barbara and her capabilities exactly as she is. In fact, he is impressed.

Jealousy rears its ugly head!

Marty finally goes off the deep end and Becky must help Patty come to terms with his rage.

Becky’s epiphany, or sudden realization, is a concept that would be beneficial to everyone.

Blueberry Bunny Boy by Leona WindwalkerBlueberry Bunny Boy by Leona Windwalker:

Mallow is a walking disaster when it comes to all things Easter, and for an elf in Bunnyville, that’s the worst thing possible!

Mallow

I’ve tried every Easter production station possible. I sneezed the chickens bald, and there’s no way they are letting me anywhere near the ducks or bunnies now. Basket weaving? The less said about my attempts there, the better. Preparing the real eggs? I set the water to boil them on literal fire, and when they moved me to egg painting, I broke out in hives. I swelled up so big, they had to bring me down from where I floated up to the ceiling. If we’d been outside, I’d have drifted off like some errant cloud! Candy testing is out as I hate sweets, so it all tastes disgusting to me.

I’m such a disaster as an Easter Elf that Peter Cottontail himself had a meeting with Kris Kringle to figure out where in Kringle Enterprises they could safely put me. That’s how I found myself assigned to the human world, working for the Feed and Seed department. Arranging and collecting deliveries of fresh greens and stuff for the bunnies and chicks should be fine, right? I knew I’d struck gold when on my very first day, I found it- a place called Rabbit Food. And the human working there? Oh wow…I think he might just be my mate!

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for March 2021

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 newly published this month, though some February books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, Asian fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, fantasy romance, science fiction thrillers, space opera, military science fiction, YA science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, dragons, leprechauns, valkyries, aliens, telepaths, interdimensional portals, interstellar wars, space mages, space colonisation, menopausal werewolves, crime-busting witches, King Arthur in space, alien monster spiders from beyond 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:

Monster of the Dark by K.T. BeltMonsters of the Dark by K.T. Belt:

Carmen Grey always knew she was different.

None of the other children seemed able to read minds. None of the other children were able to manipulate their toys without touching them. On the morning of her sixth birthday, three men dressed in black arrive to remove her from the loving care of her parents.

She is taken to an underground facility meant for others like her, for Clairvoyants. Stripped of her name and identity, over the years she is fashioned into something scary—something lethal. Each day is an endless struggle and every night is plagued by nightmares. Yet Carmen’s ultimate battle won’t be to save her life but to keep her soul.

Spelunkers by Cora BuhlertSpelunkers by Cora Buhlert:

During a holiday in Belgium, college students Evan and Matt decide to explore an uncharted cave in the Ardennes. Also along for the ride is Evan’s sister Kate, who has been tasked with looking out for her brother since early childhood.

Deep inside the cave, Kate, Evan and Matt stumble upon a portal to another world. But does this portal represent the greatest adventure of their lives or a terrible danger…?

This is a science fiction short story of 3800 words or approximately 15 print pages.

Earth's Fury: Our Last Thanksgiving by Declan ConnerEarth’s Fury: Our Last Thanksgiving by Declan Conner:

WHEN THE SUN FLARES — EARTH’S MANTLE HICCUPS — SOCIETY SUFFERS

Rob Bell is financially screwed, although his wife doesn’t know it yet. His only hope is to sell a house that he’s constructed near to the beach. With one day to go to the sale, his, and everyone else’s world comes crashing down. Severe movement in the Earth’s tectonic plates caused by sun flares discharging positive charged particles into the mantle, go on to create a disaster that scientists failed to predict in its enormity. EMPs destroy the grid. Ash from volcanos darken the land. Floods divide the nation, with new mountain ranges created. The USA will never be the same again, changed forever.

Their home in a gated community is high in the hills of Santa Monica, overlooking the Pacific. They decide to stay put. Survival is the new game, money no longer an issue as death casts its shadow over the World and their community.

As their food supplies run low, and constantly under attack from outsiders, Brogan the head of their community security creates a mini fiefdom, with Rob’s wife in charge of rations. Under attack, and falling foul of Brogan, and with death stalking him, Rob knows the only way out is for them to travel to his dad’s bunker. Trouble is, io get there is a thousand-mile journey fraught with danger and his wife doesn’t want to go. Fiercely loyal, he will have to decide if he should leave or to stay.

His life and others will depend on the outcome

Leprechaun Luck by Addison CreekLeprechaun Luck by Addison Creek:

It’s St. Patrick’s Day and Lemmi, Charlie, and Liam are determined to have some fun before going to watch the guys play baseball.

What happens next is unexpected, to say the least, but Lemmi and Charlie are determined not to miss the baseball game. Now if only the leprechaun would tell them where Liam is . . .

This is a short story coming in at about 12,000 words.

 

Witchy Reservations by Stephanie DamoreWitchy Reservations by Stephanie Damore:

There’s nothing practical about magic—which is why I ditched my wand years ago.

Thirteen years, to be exact.

The day I left Silverlake.

Except now, a family emergency has called me back home, and quite frankly, I’d rather be anywhere but here.

But when my aunt raises her wand to cure a friend and he ends up dead, it becomes abundantly clear I’m not leaving anytime soon.

Welcome to Silverlake, a place where nothing is EVER as it seems… and where a witch can find, and lose, a lot more than herself.

Phantom Echo by Eldon FarrellPhantom Echo by Eldon Farrell:

His search for a killer will put him in the crosshairs.

The body of a college student is dumped in an alley far from campus. Is it a case of bad timing, or a drug deal gone wrong?

As the detective assigned to the case, Nathan Miller suspects something more sinister behind it. Convincing his superiors of this won’t be easy, though, and following his instincts will require more than just bending the law. He may need to break it.

But when his pursuit leads him to Syria, and then London, he’s forced to seek aid from the Phantoms—allies who might be enemies. Will they help the killer he’s after, or join him in seeing justice served?

First Runes by Rachel FordFirst Runes by Rachel Ford:

The war is over. The chaos is just beginning.

The North won, but peace is a distant dream. Youngling dragons plague the countryside. On the border to No Man’s Land, Knight Protector Ana Derel negotiates a tenuous peace between the slave warriors turned refugees, for whom only a death sentence waits at home, and the local populace, which wants no part in feeding or aiding their former foes. Far to the North, Knight Protector Brynja Evansdatter struggles with the ambitions and mistrust of the elven mages she freed from captivity. They’ve sworn off the Southern king who shackled them, but they’re not ready to swear fealty to the Northern queen.

And at the heart of all the chaos, with the power to command the races of dragons and destroy whole armies of men, are the most powerful weapons ever devised by men or elves: first runes.

Whoever controls them, controls the fate of the known world. Derel and Evensdatter fought side-by-side in the war. Now, they will need more than blades to bring peace.

Foxwood by Joe FleckFoxwood by Joe Fleck:

In an alternate future, fourteen-year-old Victoria has lived in a bunker for all her life, convinced that beyond the metal walls of her home is a mysterious “Nowhere.”

When she escapes, she is thrown into the futuristic city of Foxwood, rebuilt over Seattle after a catastrophic earthquake. Victoria was never supposed to leave her bunker and isn’t in the Network. Without a Network Chip implanted in her head, Victoria has no identity, an no place in Foxwood.

Despite lacking social skills or street smarts, she gets a job at a massive 3D printing business. This company is targeted by a terrorist team of humanoid machines that are indistinguishable from ordinary humans.

In an effort to prove her worth as a bunker child, Victoria attempts to expose an infiltrator before the terrorists get a chance to attack. On top of that, the education system controls overpopulation by killing the least intelligent people with a terrifying Birthday Exam.

Orange City by Lee Matthew GoldbergOrange City by Lee Matthew Goldberg:

Imagine a secret, hidden city that gives a second chance at life for those selected to come: felons, deformed outcasts, those on the fringe of the Outside World. Everyone gets a job, a place to live; but you are bound to the city forever. You can never leave.

Its citizens are ruled by a monstrous figure called the “Man” who resembles a giant demented spider from the lifelike robotic limbs attached to his body. Everyone follows the man blindly, working hard to make their Promised Land stronger, too scared to defy him and be discarded to the Empty Zones.

After ten years as an advertising executive, Graham Weatherend receives an order to test a new client, Pow! Sodas. After one sip of the orange flavor, he becomes addicted, the sodas causing wild mood swings that finally wake him up to the prison he calls reality.

A dynamic mash-up of 1984 meets LOST, ORANGE CITY is a lurid, dystopian first book in a series that will continue with the explosive sequel LEMONWORLD.

The Fearless by J.J. GreenThe Fearless by J.J. Green:

Space opera meets Arthurian legend.

The Britannic Alliance has been brought back from the brink of disaster by Taylan Ellis, a Royal Marine fighting to win back her homeland.

During one of the battles, the Fearless, the BA flagship, mysteriously disappeared and is now adrift in the Asteroid Belt. Taylan joins the expedition sent to find out what happened.

What she discovers out there is another clue in the riddle of the reappearance of King Arthur. What’s more, it means the Alliance could win back the Britannic Isles, but only if Taylan plays her cards right.

The fight goes on!

Wicked Honeymoon by Lily Harper HartWicked Honeymoon by Lily Harper Hart:

Jack Harker and his new wife Ivy have beaten the odds, and with that comes a little rest and relaxation. They have a two-week honeymoon planned, and the first leg involves a glamping trip down the river.

Jack has never been one for camping, and the truth is, he would’ve preferred anything but what they’ve got planned. Ivy, however, is desperate to prove that camping can be fun. What Jack wants most is for Ivy to have everything, so he gives in.

He may live to regret it. That is if he doesn’t die first.

What should’ve been an idyllic kayaking trip down the river, complete with gourmet meals and glamorous tents, turns into a mystery when one of the other guests finds blood on the ground on the second day. Jack and Ivy are instantly suspicious … but they seem to be the only ones.

There’s no body, so no reason to worry, and yet Ivy’s dreams won’t let her rest. Can you prove murder when there’s no body and nobody is missing?

That’s the plan for Ivy and Jack, although the trip will have them questioning more than their fellow travel-goers. It will have them questioning their instincts, too.

Strap in. Just because it’s a honeymoon, that doesn’t mean the ride won’t be bumpy.

Songs of Insurrection by J.C. KangSongs of Insurrection by J.C. Kang:

Only the lost magic of Dragon Songs can save the world. Only an awkward girl with the perfect voice can rediscover it.

The Dragon Singers of old summoned typhoons and routed armies, liberating mankind from the orcs before fading into legend. Now, with the world again facing a new cataclysm, the power of music stirs in Kaiya, a naïve misfit with the perfect voice.

Without a master to guide her, she must rely on Hardeep, a disgraced foreign paladin, to help awaken her latent magic. His motives might not be entirely noble. When he leads her to the fabled Dragon Scale Lute, which only a Dragon Singer can wield, it is up to Black Lotus Clan to intervene.

Because the instrument’s fell power can save the world…

Or destroy it.

Romancing the Crone by Amanda M. LeeRomancing the Crone by Amanda M. Lee:

Scout Randall has lived her life in the shadows, always wondering who abandoned her when she was a child and where the magic she boasts came from. Finally, she is about to get some answers.

It won’t be easy, though.

After a wild fight that saw shifters and vampires joining together to battle under an eclipse, things in Hawthorne Hollow are relatively quiet. Scout’s newly-found sister is locked in a cell, her grandfather is laying low, and the enemy appears to be regrouping.

That allows Scout and her boyfriend Gunner to make a trip to her childhood home. Upon their return, a shifter attacks and throws their world into a tailspin. He’s easily dispatched but appears to be suffering from a magical infection that has his body wasting and his mind collapsing.

It’s up to Spell’s Angels to figure out what’s going on, and because nothing is ever easy for Scout, the investigation is going to be harder than she imagined.

It seems there’s a new top vampire in town, and his powers are extensive for a creature who wasn’t born into his legacy. On top of that, he’s crossed paths with Scout before and knows exactly how to push her buttons.

Scout is a fighter but the world is closing in on her. She’s going to need her new co-workers and the family she doesn’t know to help her out on this one … and even then nothing is a given.

The road before her is winding but answers are finally here. Scout will finally know what she is. Whether she survives long enough to benefit from the knowledge is completely up in the air.

Death Kiss by Naomi E. LloydDeath Kiss by Naomi E. Lloyd:

With one kiss I can see when, where and how you will die.

Some would call it a gift. But not me.

My death kiss is a curse that has branded me a witch, with no human rights, and has turned me into the most wanted girl on earth.

Why? Because in a world where a vicious movement of sadistic killers are murdering random people to stop overpopulation, my kiss holds the power for salvation.

And makes me a prime target for abduction.

Which is where I am now. Captured by three brothers, burning with grief after witnessing my parents’ murder, and tormented with fear of what is yet to come…

For something doesn’t add up.

I’m trapped inside a deadly game of kiss and tell, but I know there’s a darker agenda at play.

What it is? I just hope I can live to find out.

Death Kiss is an adult, dark fantasy, romance novel which draws you into a world of magic, deception, seductive twists, and desire.

Blood Moon by Catherine LundoffBlood Moon by Catherine Lundoff:

The Wolf’s Point werewolf pack, born from the magic that calls small groups of middle-aged women to embrace their inner and outer wolves, has been protecting the town for generations. Now Becca Thornton and the Pack have their hands (and paws) full of all the trouble they can handle. Plus a bit extra. Pack member Erin Adams just found a dead body in the trunk of her car and confessed to murder. But no one’s sure who the victim is and Erin can’t remember what happened. Did Erin fall off the wagon and murder a former foe? She doesn’t trust herself and Becca’s beginning to have her doubts.

If that wasn’t enough, Becca’s ex-husband sold their old house and their new neighbors are clearly up to something. Can the Pack get the mystery solved and Erin’s name cleared before the next full moon? Or do the town’s new residents have other plans?

Valkyrie by David NethValkyrie by David Neth:

The end of the world might be sooner than they think.

The valkyries secretly hand-select fallen heroes to bring back to Valhalla to prepare for the final battle. While out at a nightclub, Kathy witnesses a valkyrie collect a dying man’s soul. Thinking the valkyrie is doing harm, she tries to fight her off, but loses.
Back in Valhalla, the valkyries view their lapse in secrecy as a sign that the final battle is beginning. They capture Kathy and bring her back to Valhalla while they rally their army to send into battle.

Meanwhile, Samantha is reeling from having told Steven she’s a witch. But when she discovers Kathy’s gone missing, she puts her strained relationship aside to save her sister, only to end up in just as much danger as Kathy.

With the valkyries preparing for war, Samantha and Kathy must prove that they mean no harm in order to return to their normal lives. But the end of the world might be sooner than they think.

Valkyrie is the third book in the Coven series, which serves as a prequel series to the Under the Moon series.

Heaven Fall by Leo PetracciHeaven Fall by Leo Petracci:

Draysky was born to die in the mines.

Like his father before him, his fate was to harvest treasures until the dust claimed his lungs. He’d die the lowest of society, a Knotted, buried with their thin cord still around his neck. He would never advance as a mage, never to learn of the forbidden runes of the kingdom magicians. But when he looks away from the northern mountains, he allows himself to dream that one day, he’d buy his freedom and escape the mines forever.

But the mines don’t relinquish claimed lives so easily. They draw him in deeper, pulling him into their depths, and when Draysky discovers the source of their treasures, he’s left with a choice.

Return to his labor, and be grateful for the years he has left, or risk his life by seizing the mines’ power. Becoming a threat to those who thrive supported on the backs of his people.

And discovering why runes are forbidden.

Chiral Justice by L.L. RichmanChiral Justice by L.L. Richman:

Old enemies never die.

The unthinkable has happened: an Akkadian assassin has helped broker peace between her star nation and the Alliance. Micah and the rest of Task Force Blue watch the peace talks with guarded optimism—but they know one thing the rest of the settled worlds don’t.

Clint Janus has vanished — with the Alliance’s most closely-held secret.

Micah Case is that secret.

Janus is now allied with Akkadia’s new premier, Asher Dent, but the man is not as peace-loving as he might seem. It’s going to be up to Micah Case and Task Force Blue to prevent Dent from achieving that which he wants most: total space supremacy over all the settled worlds.

Chiral Justice is the third book in the Biogenesis War series, and completes this first story arc in the Biogenesis Universe.

Lycan Legacy: Paladin by Veronica SingerLycan Legacy: Paladin by Veronica Singer:

Across the width of the world, Logan’s agony screams in my soul.

Shackled in silver which burns his flesh, he is trapped in a foreign country, lured to captivity by the kidnapping of his human daughter.

I am Luna, the leader of the pack, and it falls on me to lead a rescue mission.

Still, politics would stay my hand. After all, Logan isn’t family, just the runt of my pack; disobedient, combative, and always in trouble.

Wrong. Dead wrong. Pack is family.

Politics decree that I can’t bring the rest of my pack to avoid an international incident.

But nobody said I couldn’t bring Mike, my superhuman bodyguard, an ex-SEAL with the skills to survive anywhere.

And nobody knows about my magical talents, talents that would make the most vicious werewolf seem tame.

Screw politics. Luna White doesn’t leave a packmate in captivity.

The Blackwing War by K.B. SpanglerThe Blackwing War by K.B. Spangler:

Three thousand years ago, the Deep appeared without warning. This alien life form was quickly put to service teleporting people and cargo across great distances, which allowed mass colonization throughout the galaxy. It has also allowed Lancaster, the organization which controls access to the Deep, to grow wealthy and powerful. Cross Lancaster, and you are forced to travel between planets using standard faster-than-light technologies. Nobody wants that!

Tembi Stoneskin is having a very bad day. A Witch in service to the Deep, she spends her time disarming bombs in shipping stations. On her way home to Lancaster, the Deep shows her the aftermath of a weapons test powerful enough to slice a moon in half. While the Deep is a vast intelligence, it is a terrible communicator, and relies on its Witches to translate humanity’s requests into thoughts, moods, and impulses that it can understand. Tembi is a young Witch, but she is a skilled translator and she has learned how to speak with her powerful alien friend.

As they set off to find the source of the weapons test, Tembi and the Deep are pulled into the ongoing war between Earth-normal humans and genetically modified humans. But all wars are founded on excuses, and the Blackwing army has much more to hide than a simple shattered moon.

Last Light by Paul StephensonLast Light by Paul Stephenson:

The year is 2107. Earth is dying. For Wyn, Lois, and Judd, that’s the least of their problems.

Wyn is the pilot on the ISS Minos. Its mission: a race to the ice moon of Europa to cure the disease destroying humanity’s crops. But not everyone on board seems to have the same agenda.

Lois is an Interpol agent investigating the world’s worst criminals – those rich enough to get whatever they want and powerful enough to murder without consequence – and her cover’s been blown.

Judd is hiding as far away from humanity as he can, working in a cheap tourist attraction on the Moon. But when an old man pries a long-forgotten secret from his head, he can no longer hide from the truth he’d buried even from himself. Because Judd is a telepath, and a weapon badly wanted by both sides of an unseen war.

They might not know it, but each holds a key to Earth’s cure… and humanity’s survival.

If you like pulse-quickening action, blood-soaked science fiction, revelations, and revolutions, you’ll love this first episode in Paul Stephenson’s Sunset Chronicles, the new monthly sci-fi horror serial from the author of the bestselling Blood on the Motorway saga.

A Darker Magic by Glynn StewartA Darker Magic by Glynn Stewart:

A bloody war has ended in a restored peace
And the shield of Martian magic guards the stars
Two centuries of spell and steel to ward all humanity

Two years ago, Lieutenant Commander Roslyn Chambers stood witness to the surrender of the last remnants of the Republic. Fueled by atrocity against Mage and mundane alike, the secessionists who waged war against the Protectorate of Mars are finally defeated.

Now, a special commission from the Mage-Queen of Mars takes Roslyn deep into the former Republic to hunt the architects of that atrocity. Mages who betrayed their own, the creators of Project Prometheus must be brought to justice.

But hidden from even the Republic, Prometheus has woven magic and technology together once more. Here, hidden from all prying eyes, they have created a monster…one that even a Protectorate forged by the spell must call black magic.

Marauders by T.S. ValmondMarauders by T.S. Valmond:

How far is too far to save the human race?

Captain Dana Pinet is struggling to put her demons to rest while carrying the last of humanity still reeling from the loss of their world onboard the Starship Hope.

She and the crew will be tested yet again when they come into contact with a group of plucky aliens enthralled by their circumstances and eager to befriend them. Things turn ugly when the aliens make off with precious cargo and half their dwindling supplies.

In pursuit of the thieves, the crew discovers they’re not the only ones after the pirates, and getting caught in alien cross-fire will only make matters worse. If Dana can’t track down the pirates and their stolen cargo, it may bring about the extinction of the human race.

Marauders is the thrilling second book in the science fiction series Starship Hope. If you like intriguing first contact with aliens and survival at all-costs scenarios, you’ll love this second book by T.S. Valmond.

Katana of Trust by A.C. WardKatana of Trust by A.C. Ward:

Escaping death by her father’s hand was only the beginning…

Determined to prove herself to the gods, Shou will do anything to forget the journey that brought her to the island of the kami. Now is her time to rise up and take her place as the true chosen one.

But when enemies try to destroy Shou, another human saves her. She’s shocked that he bears the same mark as she. Suddenly, Shou questions everything about her history. Is she truly the chosen one of the prophecy?

Teaming up with Masaru, heir to the Date clan, is her only option to uncover the truth and save herself from death. As Masaru and Shou grow closer, one thing is certain: they’ve been wrong about the prophecy all along. Nameless and desperate, will Shou find her courage and fight for her place among the kami or forge a path of her own?

The Eighth Key by Laura WeyrThe Eighth Key by Laura Weyr:

The magic is gone…or is it?

Lucian is a jaded flirt and professional bard who knows all the old songs about sorcery. When he meets Corwin, a shy mage who can still use magic despite the Drought, Lucian finds his desire growing with each passing day—not just for answers, but for Corwin himself.

Sparks fly as they find themselves passionately entangled in adventure and each other. But learning the true origin of the Drought and the Key to ending it comes at a price that their bond may not survive…

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for March 2021


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 February 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, craft mysteries, animal mysteries, historical mysteries, Jazz Age mysteries, paranormal mysteries, hardboiled mysteries, humorous crime fiction, police procedurals, crime thrillers, adventure thrillers, environmental thrillers, science fiction thrillers, sea adventures, police officers, amateur sleuths, private investigators, FBI agents, journalists, burglars, gangsters, organised crime, missing violins, crime-busting witches, crime-busting socialites, crime-busting maids, crime-busting knitters, criminal leprechauns, murder and mayhem in London, Dublin, Belfast, the Caribbean 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:

An Unhappy Murder by Blythe BakerAn Unhappy Murder by Blythe Baker:

When Anna attends a play at a London theatre, death soon follows. Working together with Jerome Townson, Anna must locate a murderer before time runs out.

But even as she searches for the truth, Anna continues to be haunted by secrets from her past. A final revelation might just hold the answer to everything…

 

 

A Fabulous Little Murder by Beth ByersA Fabulous Little Murder by Beth Byers:

March 1926

When Vi and friends travel to attend the motor races, they are determined to have a fabulous time. They’re even hoping to try their hands behind the wheel. ??

They befriend one of the mechanics, so things go sideways for him, they agree to help. Perhaps, after all of this time, they should have expected the body, but they didn’t. ??

Now the race is on to find the criminals, and surely, they’re up to the task.

Leprechaun Luck by Addison CreekLeprechaun Luck by Addison Creek:

It’s St. Patrick’s Day and Lemmi, Charlie, and Liam are determined to have some fun before going to watch the guys play baseball.

What happens next is unexpected, to say the least, but Lemmi and Charlie are determined not to miss the baseball game. Now if only the leprechaun would tell them where Liam is . . .

This is a short story coming in at about 12,000 words.

 

Dublin Debacle by Kerry L. CurtisDublin Debacle by Kerry L. Curtis:

Kate is after Vince the Fence again after he slipped through her fingers last year she’s on her way to Ireland where she gets some unexpected help, she is trying to solve a twenty year old mystery and figure out what her brother is doing hint he’s in trouble and needs her help.

See what Kate is up to in this quirky romantic comedy cozy mystery

 

 

Witchy Reservations by Stephanie DamoreWitchy Reservations by Stephanie Damore:

There’s nothing practical about magic—which is why I ditched my wand years ago.

Thirteen years, to be exact.

The day I left Silverlake.

Except now, a family emergency has called me back home, and quite frankly, I’d rather be anywhere but here.

But when my aunt raises her wand to cure a friend and he ends up dead, it becomes abundantly clear I’m not leaving anytime soon.

Welcome to Silverlake, a place where nothing is EVER as it seems… and where a witch can find, and lose, a lot more than herself.

Knitted and Knifed by Tracey DrewKnitted and Knifed by Tracey Drew:

Wanted: Cat mum to manage a yarn store, corral two curious cats, all the while being tangled up in murderous mayhem and mystery.

A smart woman would dump her cheating ex, move from the city, and give herself a chance for a well-deserved do-over. A smarter woman—smarter than me, anyway—wouldn’t jump out of that same frying pan and return to Cape Discovery, a seaside village where her family is the nuttiest of all the nut-ball residents.

I’m a former high school counsellor, middle-child peacemaker, and current curator of lots of squishy/fuzzy goodness at my granddad’s little yarn store. Temporary assistant. Until I decide what to do with the rest my life. There’s only one knotty problem to untangle first. The knife sticking out of the most unpopular man in town, and the police detective trying to pin the murder on the donkey—otherwise known as my younger brother. With a pair mischievous cats determined to be underfoot and a craft group of Serial Knitters and Happy Hookers wanting the inside scoop, a girl could lose her mind. And if the killer has their way, maybe even my life…

Tessa Wakefield has her hands full juggling a cozy craft store, her crazy family, and two men who’d rather poke out their eyes than describe themselves as cute. Which they totally are. Cute, charismatic, and occasionally on her mind when she’s not stumbling over dead bodies and using her newfound sleuthing skills to track down murderers. Lucky she’s an excellent multi-tasker because digging beneath Cape Discovery’s surface can unearth secrets that kill.

Picture Perfect by Mike FaricyPicture Perfect by Mike Faricy:

An action-packed novel in the best selling Jack Dillon Dublin Tales series!

Killian Graham is paid every month to take a beautiful lady of his choice out to dinner. He stays in a five-star hotel, eats the best food, drinks the best whiskey, and enjoys the charms of a grateful companion . . .

Meanwhile, American gangster Jimmy Dugan has been ‘hiding’ out in the open.

US Marshal Jack Dillon and An Garda Síochána DI Paddy Suel, assigned to a human trafficking case, have their investigation interrupted by the suspected appearance of Jimmy Dugan. But what is he doing in Ireland? And how did he get through security?

Things are about to get crazy.

He doesn’t know it yet, but Killian Graham has a target on his back.

Two American students are kidnapped… maybe.

A mob hitman has just arrived and is about to end Killian Graham’s escapades…

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

Phantom Echo by Eldon FarrellPhantom Echo by Eldon Farrell:

His search for a killer will put him in the crosshairs.

The body of a college student is dumped in an alley far from campus. Is it a case of bad timing, or a drug deal gone wrong?

As the detective assigned to the case, Nathan Miller suspects something more sinister behind it. Convincing his superiors of this won’t be easy, though, and following his instincts will require more than just bending the law. He may need to break it.

But when his pursuit leads him to Syria, and then London, he’s forced to seek aid from the Phantoms—allies who might be enemies. Will they help the killer he’s after, or join him in seeing justice served?

Burning Water by Inge-Lise GossBurning Water by Inge-Lise Goss:

A Man Goes Up in Flames.

Was it an accident or murder?

Gwynn Reznick returns as a rookie private investigator…

…to find the truth.

Placed in an accounting role to watch the key players up close, she uncovers financial irregularities while delving into clues that lead her into dangerous situations. To obtain information, she becomes entangled with a tough crew of oil field workers. Their interpersonal jealousies and mysterious pasts intersect to obscure the truth.

Unraveling connecting threads that link to multiple disappearances, Gwynn discovers she’s pitted against polished criminal professionals and finds herself in the center of a devious scheme.

Money shortages and illicit affairs…

…point to several suspects.

Will her sleuthing blow her cover before her backup team arrives?

Any reader who enjoys action, adventure, murder mysteries, or just a plain good read will love Burning Water, the third book in the Gwynn Reznick series.

Wicked Honeymoon by Lily Harper HartWicked Honeymoon by Lily Harper Hart:

Jack Harker and his new wife Ivy have beaten the odds, and with that comes a little rest and relaxation. They have a two-week honeymoon planned, and the first leg involves a glamping trip down the river.

Jack has never been one for camping, and the truth is, he would’ve preferred anything but what they’ve got planned. Ivy, however, is desperate to prove that camping can be fun. What Jack wants most is for Ivy to have everything, so he gives in.

He may live to regret it. That is if he doesn’t die first.

What should’ve been an idyllic kayaking trip down the river, complete with gourmet meals and glamorous tents, turns into a mystery when one of the other guests finds blood on the ground on the second day. Jack and Ivy are instantly suspicious … but they seem to be the only ones.

There’s no body, so no reason to worry, and yet Ivy’s dreams won’t let her rest. Can you prove murder when there’s no body and nobody is missing?

That’s the plan for Ivy and Jack, although the trip will have them questioning more than their fellow travel-goers. It will have them questioning their instincts, too.

Strap in. Just because it’s a honeymoon, that doesn’t mean the ride won’t be bumpy.

Code of Silence by Phillip JordanCode of Silence by Phillip Jordan:

Belfast. A still divided city rising from the ashes of its past.

Detective Inspector Veronica Taylor has staked her all in bringing down the corrupt magnate and paramilitary godfather, Gordon ‘Monster’ Beattie and the prosecution has ended in failure.

For Beattie, his exoneration has come at a price, indebted to a shadowy global organisation seeking to exploit his insidious criminal empire for their own gain.

When the murder of a ruthless criminal plunges the two opponents again into conflict, Taylor comes under increasing pressure from superiors in how to direct her case and Beattie is forced to face the consequences of his newly secured freedom.

As it becomes clear the killers thirst for murder may not be randomly orientated but an organised and brutal retribution, Beattie confronts the lie that built his empire and Taylor is forced to face her demons.

Caught between her duty to intervene and her desire to let vengeance run its bloody course she finds herself trapped between exposing a revelation that could shatter the fragile peace and plunge her city back to violence or complict in the CODE OF SILENCE.

CODE OF SILENCE is the first novel in the gripping Belfast Crime Series.

Weddings and Whodunnits by Amanda M. LeeWeddings and Whodunnits by Amanda M. Lee:

Avery Shaw never saw marriage on the menu – and when she did, she avoided it like liver and onions – but it appears her life is about to change. She simply can’t decide if it’s for better or worse.

With matrimony barreling down on her, she needs a distraction, and she gets it in the form of a warning. Apparently, she’s on the hit list for a local dealer who is trying to move in on turf she’s responsible for cleaning up, and news that she could be marked for death has her fiancé Eliot Kane in a tailspin.

Avery likes it when things line up her way. Unfortunately, very little is going how she envisioned in her life right now. Between her archnemesis Tad Ludington being fully recovered and back to his old tricks and her mother demanding a say in wedding preparations, Avery has her hands full.

The drug trade in Macomb County runs deeper than anybody anticipated, and the more Avery digs, the more she realizes that the case she thought was closed up tight is still open and ongoing. With an intern on her tail demanding attention, Avery is determined to uncover a secret so big it could blow up certain political circles within the county.

Eliot is by her side but his fear regarding the new people in Avery’s life is palpable … as is Sheriff Jake Farrell’s annoyance when he realizes what Avery is chasing. He wants her cut off from information, which isn’t something she will just sit back and accept.

It’s a war of the worlds this go-around for Avery, and the only chance she has to walk down the aisle is to figure out exactly what is going on. That’s easier said than done when she’s got a price on her head and people actively trying to thwart her every move.

She wants her happily ever after, and she’s determined nothing is going to stop her … not even death. Strap in and get ready, because Avery Shaw is taking no prisoners. Not this time.

Romancing the Crone by Amanda M. LeeRomancing the Crone by Amanda M. Lee:

Scout Randall has lived her life in the shadows, always wondering who abandoned her when she was a child and where the magic she boasts came from. Finally, she is about to get some answers.

It won’t be easy, though.

After a wild fight that saw shifters and vampires joining together to battle under an eclipse, things in Hawthorne Hollow are relatively quiet. Scout’s newly-found sister is locked in a cell, her grandfather is laying low, and the enemy appears to be regrouping.

That allows Scout and her boyfriend Gunner to make a trip to her childhood home. Upon their return, a shifter attacks and throws their world into a tailspin. He’s easily dispatched but appears to be suffering from a magical infection that has his body wasting and his mind collapsing.

It’s up to Spell’s Angels to figure out what’s going on, and because nothing is ever easy for Scout, the investigation is going to be harder than she imagined.

It seems there’s a new top vampire in town, and his powers are extensive for a creature who wasn’t born into his legacy. On top of that, he’s crossed paths with Scout before and knows exactly how to push her buttons.

Scout is a fighter but the world is closing in on her. She’s going to need her new co-workers and the family she doesn’t know to help her out on this one … and even then nothing is a given.

The road before her is winding but answers are finally here. Scout will finally know what she is. Whether she survives long enough to benefit from the knowledge is completely up in the air.

Mangetout by Guy PortmanMangetout by Guy Portman:

Trouble has a habit of finding some people.

Kitchenhand Deron thinks he’s hit the jackpot when a routine delivery of vegetables turns out to be contraband. The problem is it belongs to somebody else. And they want it back.

Financier Hamish has got involved in the arms trade and business is good. However, he’s unwittingly made a formidable foe. One who will stop at nothing for revenge.

Ken’s fed up with the nine-to-five. An illegal venture with girlfriend Laura brings the job satisfaction he craves, but also attention from organised crime. This could all go horribly wrong.

These sharp, shocking and suspenseful stories are a must read.

‘Dangerously droll crime capers’ – Adam Riley, Comedian

If you like dark humorous crime, you’ll love Mangetout

Murder with Strings Attached by Mark ReutlingerMurder with Strings Attached by Mark Reutlinger:

Sometimes even the most carefully conceived burglary can take an unexpected turn. Florence Palmer has her eye on concert violinist Aaron Levy’s priceless violin. Unfortunately, she finds it’s already been stolen. Her surprise doubles when the virtuoso she’d planned to burgle offers to hire her to help him steal it back. But they’re not the only ones looking for the missing violin. When Flo inadvertently becomes the prime suspect in a case of murder, she and Aaron need to clear her name. Will they find the real killer and get the violin back to its rightful owner without anyone else, especially themselves, being killed?

Windfall by Byron T.D. SmithWindfall by Byron T.D. Smith:

Henry has hit rock bottom. A fifty-year old mystery could save him – or finish him off.

Henry Lysyk’s life is a mess.

With his marriage over and his accounting career marred by scandal, he retreats to the anonymity of a rented suite in a house shared with strangers. But the trail of a decades-old crime leads a murderous treasure hunter to his doorstep, and Henry is baffled by his neighbors’ cover-up.

An unexpected visit from his adventure-hungry niece, Frieda, further complicates Henry’s efforts to lay low. With his houseguest refusing to stay away from the danger, Henry’s terrified they’re about to expose secrets someone would kill to protect. Not knowing who to trust, they must choose which parts of the past to uncover, and which to leave buried.

A real-life ransom, a shadowy past, unlikely allies, and ruthless murder. Can Henry unravel this cold case before he and Frieda become its next victims?

If you enjoy absorbing mysteries, original characters, and a dash of true crime, then you’ll love Byron TD Smith’s clever “What if…” solution to the most captivating unsolved heist of the twentieth century.

Windfall is the first instalment in the Henry Lysyk Mystery series.

Murder at the Royal Albert Hall by Lee StraussMurder at the Royal Albert Hall by Lee Strauss:

Murder’s a pain in the aria!

Nothing ruins a night at the opera faster than a duchess falling to her death. Mrs. Ginger Reed, also known by some as Lady Gold, is at the Royal Albert Hall with her husband, Basil Reed, a chief inspector at Scotland Yard, and the two of them are immediately at the scene. Was the Duchess of Worthington’s fall accidental? Where was the duke?

And what does Ginger’s grandmother-in-law, Ambrosia, the Dowager Lady Gold have to do with the sordid affair?

Something went terribly wrong with the dowager’s “sisterhood” of friends back in the 1860s, and it’s all coming home to roost.

In Harm's Way by Ed TejaIn Harm’s Way by Ed Teja:

No good deed goes unpunished.

When Martin Billings and Ugly Bill come across a yacht stuck hard on French Reef in the Caribbean, they lend a helping hand, rescuing Donna Devro, the young woman on board, and getting the boat safely into harbor.

Now the authorities have found the boat’s owner dead in the cabin and Donna Devro has disappeared, leaving Martin and Bill to work out what sort of trouble she’s in (or up to), and find a way to keep from getting involved in whatever that trouble is. Fat chance.

Martin Billings left behind a shining career as an officer in the SEALs for this mess? All he wanted was a chance to make an honest living hauling cargo among the Caribbean islands on his freighter IRREPARABLE HARM.

Now, instead of hauling cargo, Martin and Bill are trawling for trouble, and Donna Devro isn’t eager to simplify their lives — nor is her husband.

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier meet “The Star Sprangled Man”

I’m still not sure if I’ll do episode by episode reviews for the entire series of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, because it is much less complex than WandaVision and I’m not sure whether it really deserves deeper analysis. Camestros Felapton in his non-review also isn’t sure if the show actually deserves a deeper analysis. That said, if you want my thoughts on other episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (well, there is only one post so far), go here.

Warning: Spoilers behind the cut! Continue reading

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An Open Letter to the 2021 Hugo Finalists, Whoever They May Be

DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon in Washington DC, will announce the finalists for the 2021 Hugo Awards in April 13.

Right now, no one except for possibly the Hugo administrators knows who those finalists will be. However, sometime in the next two weeks or so, some of you will receive an e-mail from DisCon III, informing you that you are a finalist for the 2021 Hugo Award and asking you whether you want to accept the nomination. Some of you will have received such e-mails before, for others it will be the first time.

But whether it’s your first or your twentieth nomination, congratulations! That’s awesome.

As a first time recipient of such an e-mail last year, here are a few things I’ve learned:

  1. The e-mail may not look like you think it will. When I got the e-mail from CoNZealand last year, the subject line was “CoNZealand Hugo Awards Confidential”. I was exhausted that day and waiting for two important e-mails, so I scanned right past that subject line, because I assumed it was the convention newsletter. I only opened the mail, because none of the two important e-mails had come yet, so I thought I might as well check out the CoNZealand mail while I was waiting. Good thing that I did.
  2. If you receive an e-mail from DisCon III, please reply as soon as you can whether you accept the nomination or not. If there are questions with regard to eligibility, answer them as soon as possible. The Hugo administrator and their team work very hard, so don’t make their job any harder than it has to be.
  3. The DisCon III team will also ask you to keep quiet about your nomination until the official announcement. Please don’t violate this, because you don’t want to steal DisCon’s thunder!
  4. The period between the time when the finalists are notified and when the Hugo finalists are officially announced can be weird, because while you know that you’re a finalist, almost nobody else does. I blogged a bit about my experiences last year here. Basically, I kept having the niggling fear that there had been some terrible mistake and that I wasn’t a finalist after all or that I only was a finalist because all twenty people who would have been ahead of me had withdrawn. From talking to other first time finalist, I learned that I wasn’t alone in this. And while I can’t guarantee that terrible mistakes won’t happen, the chance that the wrong person is notified about being a Hugo finalist is extremely small. So relax. You really are a Hugo finalist, even if nobody else knows it yet.
  5. You can tell a few people you trust about your nomination as long as you know they won’t blab it all over the internet. Before the official announcement, a handful of people knew I was a Hugo finalist. These include my parents (whose reaction was, “That’s nice,” before turning back to watch a rerun of Midsomer Murders), some folks from Galactic Journey and others in the SFF community, who knew not to say anything before the official announcement, as well as my accountant (because I asked her if buying an evening gown for the Hugo ceremony was tax-deductible) and the guy who repaired my patio, because he just happened to be there, when I got the e-mail. Neither the accountant nor the patio guy are SFF fans, so chances of a leak were zero. They both also probably thought I was quite mad.
  6. One thing I did not do is tell people about my nomination who might be up in the same category. Because I didn’t know who else was nominated (you don’t before the official announcement) and didn’t want anybody to feel disappointed, because I was a finalist and they were not.
  7. Even if you can’t publicly talk about your Hugo nomination just yet, there are still a few things you can do in the meantime. For example, you can update your bio to mention that you’re a Hugo finalist or write a bio, if you don’t have one yet. Important: Don’t upload your updated bio anywhere until the official announcement has been made! In fact, I spent a chunk of the evening after the Hugo finalists had been announced updating my bio everywhere it appears.
  8. In fact – and this is important – don’t upload anything that mentions your Hugo nomination anywhere on the internet, until the official announcement has been made. Even if you set a Tweet or blogpost to go live after the announcement has been made, don’t upload it yet. Because mistakes happen, you accidentally hit “publish” rather than “schedule” or a post goes live too early. I had my celebratory blogpost ready to go in Word, but I only uploaded it with links and a few comments added once the announcement had been made.
  9. Another thing you can do in the meantime is prepare a media kit, if you haven’t got one already. You can see mine here and there are also plenty of pages around the web that tell you what a media kit is supposed to contain. Important: Get permission to use any photos that you did not take yourself.
  10. Another thing you can do is write a press release about your Hugo nomination. It doesn’t matter which category you’re nominated in, whether it’s Best Novel or a fan category. Write a press release anyway. There are plenty of places around the web which tell you how to write a press release. It varies from country to country, so make sure you get the correct format for your country. My press release from last year (in German) is here. Then make a list of the contact info for the relevant newspapers, radio stations and other media outlets in your region. Once the nominations have been announced, send your press release as well as the link to your media kit to those media outlets. The press release linked above netted me two in-depth profiles and a bonus article in two different newspapers, which is much more than I’d hoped for.
  11. Consider whether you want to attend Worldcon and the ceremony. And yes, I know it’s difficult during the pandemic, since we don’t know how or when the ceremony will happen, whether it will be virtual or in person, or whether our countries will even allow us to travel. Nonetheless, get a Worldcon membership, if you haven’t got one already. Like most recent Worldcons, DisCon III offers an installment plan, so you don’t have to pay for a full attending membership right now. You can also start looking for flights, hotels, etc…, though I wouldn’t book anything until we know for sure what’s going to happen. If money is an issue, as it’s for many of us, think about crowdfunding your Worldcon trip, as several finalists have done in recent years. However, don’t start your crowdfunding campaign, until after the finalists have been announced.
  12. If you want to participate in programming, fill out DisCon III’s program participant form, if you haven’t already. Do this as early as possible, so the programming team doesn’t have to find suitable programming for you at the last minute.
  13. Finally, start thinking about the Hugo voter packet.

Finally, here are a few observations regarding what happened after the Hugo finalists were announced last year:

  1. A lot of people will congratulate you. These will be people you expect – friends, peers, etc… – but also people you don’t expect. After the newspaper articles mentioned above came out last year, I suddenly got congratulations from translation customers, various relatives and my Dad’s diabetes doctor among others. Enjoy the experience, thank everybody and don’t forget to congratulate your fellow finalists.
  2. Some people will also not congratulate you and again, some of these will be people you don’t expect. There are several reasons why someone might not congratulate you and most of them are not malicious. For example, some people might simply not have seen the news yet. Or they may not understand the significance, since not everybody is plugged into the SFF community. Of course, there will also be a few people who think that you don’t deserve your nomination. Ignore them!
  3. Your fellow Hugo finalists are not your rivals, they are your peers. You’ll probably know some of them already and if not, you’ll quickly get to know them. And yes, only one of you will get to take home the rocket in the end, but all six of you are amazing and in a way, you’re all winners. This also applies across categories. I met a lot of great people in the SFF community because we were on the Hugo ballot in the same year.
  4. As a Hugo finalist, you will get plenty of e-mails from DisCon III about anything from the Hugo voter packet via the program book to the ceremony itself. Pay attention to those e-mails, send any information requested in time and check your spam folder. You don’t accidentally want to miss something important.

Finally – and this is the most important point – enjoy your experience! You’re a Hugo finalist, i.e. your peers consider you and your work one of the six best in your respective category. That’s amazing, so celebrate!

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