Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: A Long Time Until Now by Michael Z. Williamson

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

A Long Time Until Now by Michael Z. Williamson
Hardcover, 672 pages
Expected publication: May 5th 2015 by Baen

Book 1 in a new series from the creator of the best-selling Freehold Universe series.  A military unit is thrust back into Paleolithic times with only their guns and portable hardware.

Ten soldiers on convoy in Afghanistan suddenly find themselves lost in time. Somehow, they arrived in Earth's Paleolithic Asia. With no idea how they arrived or how to get back, the shock of the event is severe. They discover groups of the similarly displaced: Imperial Romans, Neolithic Europeans, and a small cadre of East Indian peasants. Despite their technological advantage, the soldiers only have ten people, and know no way home. Then two more time travelers arrive from a future far beyond the present. These time travelers may have the means to get back, but they aren't giving it up. In fact, they may have a treacherous agenda of their own, one that may very well lead to the death of the displaced in a harsh and dangerous era.

Time travel, dinosaurs, and a clash of armies from different eras and places? Count me in.

IWSG - Wasted Years

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a once-monthly blog hop originated by our very own sci-fi ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. On the first Wednesday of every month we gather to connect with one another, to share our thoughts and our insecurities, and to offer one another the kind of guidance and reassurance that only another author can provide.

My father has always been one of my biggest supporters. I think back to my childhood, to our family vacations, and what I remember most is that he always made sure we found a used bookstore for me to browse. Back before e-books, back before the internet, he was the one who fed my tattered paperback habit. I don't ever remember him rushing me through a store or questioning whether I really needed another book.

Similarly, when I began writing, he was the one who would make a point of asking how it was going and what I was working on. He's never been a reader himself, so he's never pretended to an interest in the words themselves, but he's always looked after my efforts and celebrated my successes. For that reason, I've always had it in the back of my mind that my first novel would be, at least in some way, dedicated to him.

While my father still with us - and hopefully will be for years to come - his recent health issues have made me think about my wasted years. If I can't get a handle on my priorities, stop my procrastinating, and get over my fear that a manuscript isn't perfect enough to share, then that dedication will never see the light of day, much less hit print while he's still around to appreciate it.

I haven't been all that successful in getting my ass in gear, but maybe I just haven't been doing it for the right reasons . . . or the right person.

A to Z Challenge: Anything That Moves

This year, I am once again taking part in the April adventure that is the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it's basically about 26 posts (we don't post Sundays), preferably on a theme, blogging our way through the alphabet from A to Z. My theme this year is all about TV Tropes, celebrating random tropes with some sort of weird, odd, unusual, controversial, or taboo element that appeals to my warped sense of literary adventure.

Kicking things off, we have Anything That Moves (check out the page for a complete definition, but your first guess is probably pretty close to the mark). After a quick perusal of the Literature examples provided, I've gotta go with:

"In The Golden Globe by John Varley there's a drug that inflicts this. It's banned because male recipients have electrocuted themselves attempting to couple with light sockets. It's administered to a rare straight character so that he'll sleep with his technically male fellow actor playing Juliet. This performance only, Romeo attempts to hump Friar Laurence's leg! It Makes Sense in Context..."

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cover Reveal: Indelible Ink by Matt Betts

It’s What’s Inside That Counts

Something lurks inside Deena Riordan. She never once questioned her life in the criminal underworld as the star of Mr. Marsh’s illegal empire and his youngest assassin. Her ruthless demeanor and dark magical powers have kept her at the top of the heap for years. But one day she pushes the sorcery too far and something snaps. Only then does Deena realize she’s always been a puppet of that dark power with no true will of her own.

Now, in order to get out of the crime business for good, she needs to save her sister from Marsh’s angry clutches. It won’t be easy. She’ll have to make her way through friends turned foes, dodge determined federal agents, and stay out of a particularly stubborn fellow hitman’s sights. Worst of all, Deena will have to wrestle with the darkness inside to keep it from swallowing her up again.


About the Author

Matt Betts was born in Lima, Ohio some years ago. Lima is just a stone’s throw away from several other towns with excellent throwing stones. During and after college, Matt worked for a number of years in radio as an on-air personality, anchor and reporter. He has written for Blood, Blade and Thruster Magazine and Shock Totem. His fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous magazines, journals and anthologies.

Matt currently lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and sons. He is hard at work on the next adventure of the crew of the airship Leonidas Polk. And watching old horror movies. And maybe reading comic books. He can feel you silently judging him and doesn’t like it one bit.

Monday, March 30, 2015

As Above, So Below By Laura Bickle (Guest Post - Review - Giveaway)

As Above, So Below
By Laura Bickle

Things are rarely what they seem, especially in the town of Temperance.

Temperance, at the crossroads of Yellowstone National Park and ranch land, was founded by an alchemist back in the Gold Rush days. The alchemist, Lascaris, was able to conjure enough gold from rocks to keep the town running. That is, until he died mysteriously in a fire.

But some of his alchemical experiments remain behind, persisting to the present day. They adhere to the principle of “as above, so below” – that the world above reflects the inner, hidden world. And there’s a whole lot to hide in Temperance.

The Alchemical Tree, the Lunaria, represents that principle. Its roots dig deep into the earth, with branches reaching to the heavens. It stands at the center of a warren of secret tunnels stretching for miles underneath a cattle rancher’s field. The Lunaria has its secrets – it’s a remnant of Lascaris’s quest to find the secret of eternal life. It’s the source of power for the local undead, the Hanged Men. The Hanged Men were created over a century ago among the branches of the tree. They must return to the Lunaria every night to decompose and be reformed. They can’t wander far from the shadow of the tree, and are forever in the company of their raven familiars.

One of the oldest Hanged Men, Gabriel, has masqueraded as human for all this time as a ranch hand for the cattle baron who owns the land around the tree. Later generations of the Hanged Men lost the ability to speak, memory, and even human appearance as the power of the tree waned. The Lunaria’s leaves are beginning to curl and fall. Whatever power remains, the Hanged Men must protect it to survive.

Petra Dee, a geologist, has come to Temperance to find her missing father and escape her own personal demons. She only believes in what she can see and bring to light beneath her microscope. But she discovers the hidden world beneath Temperance when she digs up an artifact that dates from Lascaris’s time – a golden compass. The compass has the ability to locate magic, and runs on blood. It leads her right to the doorstep of the Hanged Men, who will kill to defend their underground secret.

The Hanged Men are not the only threat Petra faces. Caught in a war between the local meth lord and a ruthless cattle baron, Petra stumbles across a string of bent and twisted corpses. The bodies are calcinated beyond her ability to explain scientifically. Are they the product of fresh alchemy gone bad? She must suspend disbelief to explore what lurks beneath the surface, before the things beneath the ground find her.


About the Author

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology – Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams.

Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016. THE HALLOWED ONES and THE OUTSIDE are her latest young adult novels.


About the Book

Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle

On-sale: 3/24
ISBN: 9780062389862

Stephen King’s The Gunslinger meets Breaking Bad in Laura Bickle’s novel Dark Alchemy.

Some secrets are better left buried…

Geologist Petra Dee arrives in Wyoming looking for clues to her father’s disappearance years before. What she finds instead is Temperance, a dying Western town with a gold rush past and a meth-infested present.

But under the town’s dust and quiet, an old power is shifting. When bodies start turning up - desiccated and twisted skeletons that Petra can’t scientifically explain - her investigations land her in the middle of a covert war between the town’s most powerful interests. Petra’s father wasn’t the only one searching for the alchemical secrets of Temperance, and those still looking are now ready to kill.

Armed with nothing but shaky alliances, a pair of antique guns, and a relic she doesn’t understand, the only thing Petra knows for sure is that she and her coyote sidekick are going to have to move fast, or die next.

Available at

Amazon    BN  

Google Books    HarperCollins



An odd mix of urban fantasy and supernatural horror, with a strong heroine, a kick-ass coyote familiar, and a fascinating villain, all adds up to one of the more refreshingly unusual reads I've enjoyed in a long time. Unlike so many books in the genre, Dark Alchemy isn't concerned with saving the world, defeating the ultimate evil, or consummating the perfect paranormal romance. Instead, what Laura Bickle has crafted here is a story of weird people, weird history, and weird science, all told on a rather intimate scale that keeps the action focused and compact.

Bickle starts throwing mysteries at us right from the first page, offering just enough hints to really intrigue the reader. What's up with the two strange skeletons found in the field? What secrets are Sal protecting? What is Petra running from? What's with the odd coyote and its buried treasure? Why does such a small hick town have so many hick tweakers? What's up with drunken Frankie and his talk of prophetic ravens? What's the deal with Gabriel, a man who seems older and wiser than even his quick-healing flesh would suggest? Just how do Sal's secrets line up with Gabe's, and what do ravens and coyotes have to do with it all?

And that's just the first four chapters.

Yes, there's a bit of a Gunslinger feel to this, as the cover blurb teases, and it's easy to see the Breaking Bad element, but it's the small town Twin Peaks oddness to the town of Temperance that pulls it all together. I really liked the idea of The Hanged Men, led by mysterious Gabe, and Luneria (the Alchemical Tree of Life) was a very cool element that was incorporated into the story in ways I didn't really expect. Petra's story alone could have made for a decent book, and setting her against Sal could have made for an interesting conflict, but it's the addition of these supernatural, alchemical elements that really elevates the story to the next level. Petra and Gabe were, by far, my favorite characters in the story, and despite being a stereotypical villain based on the oft-used trope of the corrupt small-town landowner, I still loved the scene-chewing grandeur of Sal.

Dark Alchemy plays with the typical urban fantasy tropes, but puts a unique spin on them all. The magic and the mystery are the hook, but the characters are what will keep you reading. It's a fast-paced adventure, with something significant happening in every chapters, all racing towards a suitably epic climax that satisfyingly ties up all the loose ends . . . but which leaves the door open just a crack for another adventure.


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Saturday, March 28, 2015

From the Shelf to the Page: This Week in the Ruins

A busy week this time around, book-ended by a couple of author visits, with some great features and reviews in between.
For those keeping tabs, you'll also noticed I've added a page above to track my reading progress with the 26 titles of the Great Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off. Please keep an eye on it for updates as I go.


Stacking The Shelves and Mailbox Monday are a pair of weekly memes that are about sharing the books that came your way over the past week, and which you've added to your shelves - whether they be physical or virtual, borrowed or bought, or for pleasure or review.

Just a few new additions this week, all them small/indie press titles that I'm excited about.

First up is The Shadow Cartel by Layton Green, the latest in his Dominic Grey series, which puts a paranormal spin on the international thriller genre. Each book in the series has been better than the last, so I'm really excited to see what this latest adventure will bring.

Next up is Through A Glass Darkly, the just released haunted house horror tale Donald Allen Kirch, which will be my third read from his shelves. I've already enjoyed his old-school brand of vampires, bloody and monstrously evil, so I have high hopes for his take on hauntings.

Finally we have Heart of a Lion, the first book of Dark Sun Dawn by Stephen Zimmer. I've heard a lot about Rayden Valkyrie, bane of the wicked and corrupt, and the most loyal and dedicated of friends. Zimmer's know for his epic fantasy novels, so I'm excited about this one.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is another weekly meme, this time focused on what books are spending the most time in your hands and in your head, as opposed to what's been added to your shelf.

• The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
A very oriental kind of fantasy, with a pantheon of gods and floating airships, in which we journey across seven kingdoms with two young men who find their friendship tested by ideas of justice and power, leading them into to war.

• Vostok by Steve Alten
A 5 million-year-old subglacial lake located beneath two-and-a-half miles of ice in Antarctica, a team of scientists and covert operatives, a prehistoric monster, and evidence of extraterrestrial life with huge implications all adds up to epic adventure.

What's topping your shelves this week?