Sunset over the Charles River, Boston area. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jainsama/5351160288/

Time to wake up, Tori.

Sunset over the Charles River, Boston area. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jainsama/5351160288/

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jainsama/5351160288/

Tori and her fellow characters in the paranormal thriller Tori’s Row have had a long, long nap. That’s because life intervened for MCM and me, so the 18 chapters we’d written have been waiting for an ending.

At long last MCM and I are banging out the last nine chapters. We plan to have them ready in early March. For now you may want to check out the first two-thirds of Tori’s Row. It’s free! Here’s the blurb.

Tori McNulty has problems. As she’s putting her life back together, she’s attacked in Boston’s South End. She doesn’t remember much: mostly blood-drenched pavement and the crumpled body of her assailant. The good news is that she’s uninjured and not a murder suspect. The bad news is the obnoxious young man in 18th century dress shadowing her and confusing, violent flashbacks. Tori must figure out what happened that night before her stalker gets to her or she goes completely mad.

If you’d like a little more of a taste, check out this short bit of flash fiction I wrote last year. It’s a teeny bit spoilery.

Since this is just barely Tori’s Row-related, I’ll take this opportunity to pimp the most recent Strandline episode. It’s related because I’m taking a brief break from Strandline to finish up Tori’s Row. Episode 19 of Strandline will go live on February 4th.

Anyhoo, episode 18 of Strandline begins thusly.

The schooner’s patchwork sails marked it as one of the Greenmen’s ships just as much as the green man stenciled on the prow. Although Petra had no idea why Naveen was sprinting straight toward it, letting him get near a crew of witches couldn’t end well. Without breaking stride she hurled a verbal and psychic command at him: “Naveen, sleep!”

Naveen slowed, shook his head, then kept running. He was closing on the ship’s gangplank fast.

Read the rest, or start with episode 1.

Fallen angel. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fujur/157822428/

Review of Wormwood by D.H. Nevins

Fallen angel. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fujur/157822428/

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fujur/157822428/

What would you do if you were hiking and the world came to an end?

The start of Wormwood by D.H. Nevins begs that question. Young outdoorswoman Kali is strolling along when the ground churns and the sun disappears behind ominous clouds. Even more disturbing is the fact that Tiamat, a striking man she’d met ten years earlier, seems to be commanding the destruction from a rocky peak. Kali survives the initial chaos to discover that the earth is toast and Tiamat is more than he seems.

Wormwood is a post-apocalyptic novel of survival interwoven with a paranormal romance. I should note that post-apoc isn’t my cup of tea. The typical amount of destruction and despair is too depressing for me. I agreed to read Nevin’s manuscript after meeting her at Readercon 2010. Her enthusiasm for her story is infectious.

Overall I enjoyed Wormwood. Nevins has created a mythology that borrows from Christianity without being preachy. Kali is a tough, resourceful protagonist, and Tiamat a half-angel tortured by his orders from on high. The sexual tension between the two is palpable. Nevins does a good job describing the landscape before and after the apocalypse, as well as drawing the primary and supporting characters. She either is a proficient outdoorswoman herself, or has done her research. Survival for the remaining humans is difficult, but not impossible. Kali’s and Tiamat’s story comes to a conclusion, but leaves room for a sequel.

If you enjoy post-apocalyptic tales with a healthy dose of paranormal romance, Wormwood will not disappoint. I wish Nevins the best of luck with finding a publisher!

FRANKIE and FORMALDEHYDE cover art

“Family is forever” — a review of Frankie & Formaldehyde by M. Jones

FRANKIE and FORMALDEHYDE cover art

FRANKIE & FORMALDEHYDE by M. Jones

Know this:  I don’t like zombies.  At all.  They’re yucky and creepy and I’m very glad they only live in the land of make-believe.

The only reason I started reading Frankie & Formaldehyde is because I’ve enjoyed M. Jones’ other works, particularly 314 Crescent Manor.  I’m glad I pushed past my zombie bigotry for this novel.  It’s a fantastic, fun, and philosophical read.

Former retiree Frankie works 80 hours per week at the Happy Restful Afterlife Home.  Why afterlife?  Because Osmosis Industries, Inc. is peddling the Osmosis 37 enzyme, which grants life everlasting to the deceased who can afford the treatment.  The trouble is that the undead devolve into mindless, rotting, flesh-eating animals.  Grief and Osmosis’ marketing machine have blinded much of the populace to this fact.  Consequently, Osmosis has built tens of "afterlife homes" to keep their dead customers from consuming their living ones.  Jones has thought out the ramifications of this horrific business model and weaves them through the novel.

Frankie toils to support her husband George, who’d been incapacitated by a stroke.  George died in his sleep . . . and woke up.  He’s a "rogue," albeit a mysteriously benign one.  Although it’s a capital offense to harbor rogue undead, George is still Frankie’s husband.  There’s a bit of his soul in his pasty-skinned corpse.  Frankie can’t bring herself to turn George over to Osmosis, or worse, one of the afterlife homes.  So she attempts to maintain the status quo until the other shoe drops, and boy does it ever!

The grim setting of Frankie & Formaldehyde is lightened by black comedy and gallows humor.  How often do you see a zombie shop for Hawaiian shirts and Bermuda shorts?  I never thought I’d root for a zombie, especially one with such tragic fashion sense.

I recommend Frankie & Formaldehyde to zombie lovers and haters alike.  The romance aspect is almost platonic, so you don’t have to worry about mental images of the living getting it on with the dead.  It’s about life-long relationships, loyalty, and the natural order of things with a healthy dose of wit and social commentary.  The novel is kind of a philosophical "Shaun of the Dead," as evidenced by these quotes.

"A man’s got to choose how he lives. . . . He shouldn’t have to choose how he dies."

"Live, die, something else lives. The very soil humanity walks upon is built up from death. Digging into a flowerbed means digging into bones."

"The Happy Restful. Where all your screams are joyous."

Frankie & Formaldehyde is available through Smashwords.

OTHER SIDES cover art

Sci-fi/fantasy book giveaway!

OTHER SIDES cover art

OTHER SIDES speculative fiction anthology, published by ErgoFiction

I’m giving away books left and right anymore. :)

As part of my authorly duty to help promote the sci-fi/fantasy anthology Other Sides, I’m giving away one paperback copy. I’d use Goodreads’ nifty giveaway feature, but I’m not the publisher of the book—the fantabulous ErgoFiction is—so that’s not doable. So I made my own giveaway engine with Google Docs.

I’ll randomly select the winner at noon Eastern time on Wednesday, November 24.

Click here to enter!

If you’re still not convinced, see what other readers have had to say about Other Sides by scrolling down to the Press section on the book’s official site. Here’s one example.

“Ergofiction has skilfully cleaved signal from noise and compiled a very good collection . . . Any one of Other Sides’ authors writes far better than some of the authors being paid millions today.”
— inkspot on Violin in a void

And the winner is… Katherine K. of Germany! I’ll contact you soon, Katherine, to get your mailing address.

Thanks to everyone who entered! Remember, you can still download an electronic copy of Other Sides for free (PDF or ePub formats).

STRANGE LITTLE BAND cover art

Strange Little Band (the novel) launch!

STRANGE LITTLE BAND cover art

Strange Little Band by Nancy Brauer and Vanessa Brooks

Whew! After a year and a half of writing and a few more months of editing, formatting with InDesign, creating the cover art, and learning how to generate different eBook formats, the novel Strange Little Band is ready for prime time. Here’s the blurb.

Addison and Shane, two self-centered psychics, work for the cut-throat Triptych Corporation. Their insular lives are disrupted when, due to Triptych’s machinations, they become unlikely parents. How can they raise a child when they can’t trust each other?

If you’re not sure if this story is your cup of tea, check out the first four chapters for free.

Paperback, eBook, and collector’s editions are available at the new store. We’re giving away four copies through Goodreads too. Any sort of ratings or reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook, or personal blogs would be most appreciated. They all help spread the word!