FROM THE PUBLISHER – 200 SCIENCE FICTION WORLDS STORY BUNDLE


my-story-harms-way

Have you heard of StoryBundle? They have been around for a while and most people are familiar with them, but for those who aren’t, these are special deals where you can get loads of ebooks for a really deep discount!

eSpec Books is currently participating in the 200 Science Fiction Worlds StoryBundle where you can get over 200 stories for an insanely cheap price. There is a base package where you can get four books for $5, or all fifteen books for just $20. That is a lot of fiction! The bundles only run for about three weeks and we have just one week left in this one.

I am well familiar with many of the authors participating and I don’t think you could get a better deal. There are nearly a hundred and fifty great authors featured in these books, if I do say so myself. Here are the bundled titles:

Base Bundle

  • Escape Vector by Bryan Young
  • Shout Kill Revel Repeat by Scott R. Jones
  • Tangents & Tachyons by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • The Way of the Laser by Eric M. Bosarge & Joe M. McDermott

Bonus Bundle

  • A Metal Box Floating Between Stars by Jamie Lackey
  • Beamed Up by Ariele Sieling, V. S. Holmes and more!
  • Fix the World by Bryan Cebulski, J. Scott Coatsworth and more!
  • In Harm’s Way by Mike McPhail
  • Into the Black – Tales from the Cassidyverse 1 by Adam Gaffen
  • Lost Signals edited by Charles E. Gannon
  • Mirror Shards edited by Thomas K. Carpenter
  • Once Upon a Star by Anthea Sharp, Alethea Kontis, and more!
  • Soulmates by Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn
  • The Future Will Be Written By Robots edited by Laura Morrison
  • Transcendent 4 edited by Bogi Takács

Still not convinced to check it out? Here is an excerpt from my story “No Man Left Behind” from In Harm’s Way, edited by Mike McPhail.


No Man Left Behind

an Alliance Archives Adventure

Danielle Ackley-McPhail

IHW-DAMcP

Sergeant Justin Krougliak of the 428th Recon woke with a start, confused as someone delivered a powerful kick to the cot he lay on. If not for the pong of drying blood surrounding him, he would have expected he was late for PT or duty. He opened his eyes and struggled to sit up. The first thing he noticed was a Dominion officer staring down at him with icy blue eyes brimming with hatred. (The man wore no rank, but the uniform and posture were unmistakable.) The second thing Justin noticed was that his own uniform was covered in blood—mostly, from what he could tell, someone else’s. The third thing he noticed—and the most troubling—was that his radio-frequency tags were missing from around his neck.

Justin fell back on the cot and just stared up at the enemy, saying nothing.

The officer pivoted and walked out, calling back to two soldiers Justin hadn’t noticed until now, “Bring him.”

He didn’t resist, but he didn’t exactly cooperate, as they came to either side of the cot, gripped him by the upper arms, and hauled him to his feet. Justin’s head swam and if not for their rough hold on him he would have fallen. Maybe more of the blood was his than he’d thought. He struggled to regain his balance as they marched him from the cell, having no doubt they would drag him otherwise. They led him outside and across a barren compound to a Quonset hut that seemed to serve as temporary command of the makeshift camp. Though the bright sunlight caused his head to pound violently, Justin forced his eyes to stay open, doing his best to scan the terrain without seeming to. Not that the grunts hauling him around were paying any attention. Other than the blockhouse they held him in and the hut, there were no permanent structures. There were, however, plenty of soldiers bivouacked beneath the towering old-growth trees. He nearly slumped in relief. Not at the soldiers, but at the landscape. It appeared they were still on Demeter. One point in his favor, anyway. If he could just disappear up into the canopy…

Memories began to surface. He and the 428th had been securing a new sector. Coop was running Treybot, their bomb-detection robot, with the rest of the unit following behind, dealing with any explosive ordnance discovered. As they cleared the treeline, they encountered a company of Alliance infantry pinned down by the enemy. The last thing he remembered…well, that would be the last thing he remembered.

They must have joined the fight and, clearly, it hadn’t gone in their favor…or at least not in his. He had to assume some soldier had stripped him of his RF tags when they’d snatched him from the battlefield. The absence of their slight mass resting against his chest weighed heavy on him. With those tags and the right codes, the enemy could learn pretty much anything about him. Nothing critical, just his personal details. Given time they could learn more if they had resources inside Alliance territory. But nothing right now. Nothing that would endanger his unit.

How had they faired…? He shut down that line of thought fast. He couldn’t think about Coop and the others. They were either out there or they weren’t. He chose to believe they were, but he couldn’t depend on it, and worrying would only mess with his head. With deep, centering breaths, he shut down his emotions and focused on the shit-basket he was currently in now…and how to get out of it.

The guards let him trip over the doorframe he wasn’t paying attention to. Justin kept his expression carefully neutral and picked himself back up, standing at attention (out of habit) and seemingly staring at nothing as he assessed the room: A desk, a single chair (occupied by the officer from earlier), and nothing else. No help there. The guards remained outside, but a medic filed in and started laying out his kit on the desk: bandages, tear-tape, alcohol swabs, liquid sutures, a white transdermal pain patch. That’s it, nothing usable there—though the pain patch was a surprise. They must have plans if they were wasting that on him.

“If you would sit on the edge of the desk,” the medic instructed him, his tone businesslike and impersonal. Without hesitation, Justin complied. He didn’t know why they wanted to patch him up, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to improve his chances at getting free. Justin watched closely as the guy treated his wounds. He frowned.

There was a ring on the medic’s finger. A simple, silver-tone band. Flat and kind of thick. A wedding band? That’s what it looked like. Most soldiers—on either side—abstained from such open signs of attachment. Why hand the enemy a tool to use against you? Anything was a source of intel during wartime. Of course, he could be conscripted. Justin kind of envied the guy, his own finger never felt so bare as it did now. A fleeting image of his wife Kelly rose in his memory, wearing her trademark smirk and her flight gear.

Again he shut down his emotions, hard.

Justin watched closely as the guy treated his wounds. Motions quick and confident, but relaxed, as if he was just another patient, not an enemy soldier. The guy was good. Efficient. Not too rough, though there was a time or two before the pain patch kicked in where Justin couldn’t help but hiss. When the medic was done he rested his hand on Justin’s wrist, the cool metal of the ring pressed against his skin. Justin started to tense and pull away, feeling a faint prick as the medic tightened his hold.

Something wasn’t right. Justin’s breath came faster as his body tingled. Every impulse shouted at him to get clear, to break the medic’s grip. By then, of course, it was too late. He didn’t know what they’d done but his blood began to burn and every muscle in his body went stiff and unresponsive. If he could have, he would have screamed. All he managed was a grimace and he’d had to fight to manage that. A memory surfaced from his childhood of his mother warning him not to make faces: If you’re not careful, it will freeze that way.

What do you know? Justin thought. Mom was right. Silently, he laughed, but even in his mind, there was an edge to it. He knew when he was fucked.

The medic quickly stepped back, his hands falling to his side. Justin met his gaze and saw regret reflected back before the man looked away. With haste, the medic packed up his kit and left. For untold agonizing moments, Justin and his captor sat in silence. Justin had no idea how long, but his need to scream in rage increased exponentially. His grimace slowly shifted into a snarl as the muscles of his face relaxed. Or fell back under his control, at least.

“If we wanted to kill you,” the officer said in a cold matter-of-fact tone, “we could have done so on the battlefield, Sergeant Krougliak. But let’s just say we’re reserving that option for now.”

He pulled open one of the desk drawers and tossed a new uniform in Justin’s direction. Then he took something else out. Justin couldn’t move his head to see what it was but then he didn’t have to. The officer stood and walked around the desk to stand in front of him. In his one hand were Justin’s name tape, rank marker, and unit patch. In the other was a circular object.

“Your demolition skills are useful to me,” the officer said as he held up the patches, “but I am not a fool.” He then held up the object, a metal band much like the ring the medic had worn, only larger. Bracelet-sized, large enough to fit a man. Knowing what was coming, Justin struggled to move. His jaw clenched and his fingers twitched, but the rest of his body betrayed him as the Dominion officer secured the manacle snug around Justin’s wrist. He had regained enough sensation to feel the tiny pinpoints just touching his skin. “You’ve had a small taste of the neurotoxin from Corpsman Pierce’s ring…just enough to appreciate the severity of its effects. This…” The officer tapped the metal band. “This will kill you outright; don’t give me a reason to activate it.

“I’m through losing men and territory because of Allied soldiers. You work for me now, Sergeant. Krougliak…or for your life…however you care to think of it. Once you can move, change. My men will escort you back to your new quarters.”

CONVENTION SCHEDULE – BALTICON 56, 5/27 – 5/30


Oh my! This isn’t our first convention back, but it is the biggie! Both excited and a little anxious to be returning to Balticon after two long years away. I can’t tell you how much we are looking forward to seeing our fan fam after so long.  Mike McPhail is easing his way back into the circuit and coming just for support and enjoyment this year, but Danielle has a rather nice schedule that leaves her plenty of time to both man the dealer’s table and socialize, the particulars of which you can find below.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail

FRIDAY

8:30 PM    Homeland
How to Incorporate Critique (In-person)
Brandon Ketchum (moderator), Geoffrey A. Landis, Adeena Mignogna, Wen Spencer, Danielle Ackley-McPhail
________________
Someone’s read your work in progress… and they have feedback. How do you know what should be incorporated, and how can you do it so that changes feel consistent with what you’ve written? How can you deal with conflicting suggestions? How do you tell the difference between impartial constructive feedback and a reader’s personal preference?

SATURDAY

2:30 PM     Homeland
Writing the Fight Scene   
John Appel (moderator), D.A. Xiaolin Spires, Brandon Ketchum, Wen Spencer, Danielle Ackley-McPhail
________________
A good fight scene can improve the pacing of your novel, raise the stakes for your character, and add immediacy to your writing. But how do you do it well? How do you determine what weapons your character would use and how do you convincingly portray that? Short of studying martial arts for ten years and achieving a black belt, how do you research the combat skills so essential to a pulse-pounding action scene?

SUNDAY                     

10:00 AM     Homeland
Sustaining Tension in Your Writing     
Elektra Hammond (moderator), Lezli Robyn, Brandon Ketchum, Nancy Springer, Danielle Ackley-McPhail
________________
Narrative works maintain audience interest through the buildup and release of tension, but how do creators balance this with the requirements of character development and plot construction? How can tension be maintained when audiences can see how many pages (or minutes) are left, or are familiar enough with genre conventions to know what to expect?
         
11:30 AM     St. George
Readings: Christie Meierz and Danielle Ackley-McPhail
Christie Meierz, Danielle Ackley-McPhail
________________
The authors will read from their new and upcoming works.
7:00 PM       Baltimore Ballroom A
eSpec Book Launch 
Carol Gyzander, John L. French, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Hildy Silverman, Michelle D. Sonnier, Robert E. Waters
________________
Please join us as we celebrate the release of our most recent titles: The Clockwork Solution by Michelle D. Sonnier, Chessie At Bay by John L. French, Daire’s Devils by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Eyes of the Wolf by Robert E. Waters, Even in the Grave edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander, and Devilish & Divine edited by John L. French and Danielle Ackley-McPhail (with stories by stories by Robert E. Waters, Michelle D. Sonnier, and Hildy Silverman). There will be authors, books, homemade cookies, fun, and prizes! (Just a little different than the launches we have a reputation for throwing, but we hope you will come to help us celebrate just the same.)                              

MONDAY

1:00 PM      Guilford
I Sold a Novel! Now What? 
Gail Z. Martin (moderator), Joshua Bilmes, Danielle Ackley-McPhail
________________
So you have sold a novel, either through a traditional publisher or via the self-publishing route. Now what? How do you make sure that people buy (and read!) your work? We’ll talk marketing, publicity, touring, and other ways of infecting the public with your mind virus.                     

AUTHOR INTERVIEWS


Things have been a little crazy lately, wrapping up projects and once more taking part in in-person events. My apologies for being behind, but here are a couple of interesting interviews with our Systema Paradoxa authors Mary Fan and Carol Gyzander, featured on the blog of book blogger Paul Semel.

Enjoy!

Mary Fan – Forgotten Footage

Carol Gyzander – Forget Me Not

ITSY BITSY BOOKS REVIEW LIBRARY


Want some free review copies? Itsy Bitsy Books hosts a Library where you can request digital review copies (or have one posted, see site for details.) The catch? Well… you write and post a review.

Currently, eSpec has two titles in the library, which you can access via the link.

Our titles are as follows (links take  you directly to the sign-up sheet):

Available through April 24th – Daire’s Devils by Danielle Ackley-McPhail

FB-McP-DairesDevils

Give the Enemy Hell!

At the ass-end of the galaxy, Allied Forces—including the 142nd Mobile Special Ops Team, better known as Daire’s Devils—stand ready to defend the contested colony planet Demeter from military invasion and corporate exploitation.

 But when the ranks are infiltrated by those determined to secure the top-secret designs of AeroCom’s new prototype flagship, the Cromwell, the newest member of the Devils, Corporal Katrion Alexander, finds herself facing off against an unexpected menace, synthetic operatives indistinguishable from living beings.

She and the Devils must neutralize this new threat, but how when the enemy wears a trusted face?


Available through May 28 – Vox Astra: The Black Box, by James Chambers

VA - Black Box 2 x 3The Stars Will Sing Our Songs Long After We Are Gone…  

…but who will remain to listen? Who will hear their sagas of conflict and discovery, their hymns of honor in the face of political intrigue, their ballads of tough calls made against the opposition of friends and enemies alike?  

 Open your ears to these unyielding revelations which sing of humanity’s place in the cosmos among distant worlds, of beings that exist outside our reality, and of shocking futures. Listen to their tales. Sometimes there are no good choices only hard calls. Though humanity may one day vanish, the stars forget nothing. We can only hope Vox Astra will be kind when they tell of us.  

NEW RELEASES – SYSTEMA PARADOXA


Cover Master TemplateApril has turned into a pretty busy month for us here at eSpec and Systema Paradoxa. We have a whole lot of titles coming out all at once due to some shuffling of the SP titles in the Cryptid Crate Boxes. Our congratulations to all the authors and our thanks for their talent and patience, and our thanks to Box Mountain and Cryptid Crate for inspiring this series.

All of the below titles will officially release on April 21st but are currently available for pre-order.


SP - Alone in the Muck 2 x 3

Alone in the Muck, as accounted by Anton Kukal

After what felt like a lifetime in the sewers, Inspector Max Dalton would have thought he’d seen everything. He would have been wrong. When his trainees discover something inexplicable in the muck, life changes radically for all of them, including Max’s granddaughter, Gwen.

News of their discovery gets out and bounty hunters invade the tunnels beneath the city, forcing Max’s cooperation in their search. With life and love and liberty in the balance, Gwen will need help from an unexpected source to evade those looking to capture her new friend.

 About the Author

Anton Kukal is an author, actor, and adventurer. After serving in the United States Army as an armor officer, he graduated from law school and enjoyed a highly successful legal practice, then he decided to embrace his creativity. Anton is now a full-time writer. His fiction appears in the award-winning Defending the Future anthology series. His website is antonkukal.com.


SP - Chessie At Bay 2 x 3

Chessie at Bay, as accounted by John L. French

Same ol’ Syn, all new mischief…

Just when Theodore Syn starts thinking about sinking roots, the military comes calling, needing a man with his… unique qualifications to deal with a need-to-know problem that’s cropped up in the Chesapeake Bay.

Something is out there, frightening fish and fishermen alike.

But that’s not the real problem. Someone is masquerading as a military official on American soil, and with war on the horizon, steps need to be taken to safeguard the East Coast, before the Axis Powers drive a U-boat—or something more unexpected—right up the mouth of the Bay.

About the Author

JOHN L. FRENCH is a retired crime scene supervisor with forty years experience. He has seen more than his share of murders, shootings, and serious assaults. As a break from the realities of his job, he started writing science fiction, pulp, horror, fantasy, and, of course, crime fiction.

John’s first story “Past Sins” was published in Hardboiled Magazine and was cited as one of the best Hardboiled stories of 1993. More crime fiction followed, appearing in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, the Fading Shadows magazines, and in collections by Barnes and Noble. Association with writers like James Chambers and the late, great C.J. Henderson led him to try horror fiction and to a still-growing fascination with zombies and other undead things. His first horror story “The Right Solution” appeared in Marietta Publishing’s Lin Carter’s Anton Zarnak. Other horror stories followed in anthologies such as The Dead Walk and Dark Furies, both published by Die Monster Die Books. It was in Dark Furies that his character Bianca Jones made her literary debut in “21 Doors,” a story based on an old Baltimore legend and a creepy game his daughter used to play with her friends.

John’s first book was The Devil of Harbor City, a novel done in the old pulp style. Past Sins and Here There Be Monsters followed. John was also consulting editor for Chelsea House’s Criminal Investigation series. His other books include The Assassins’ Ball (written with Patrick Thomas), Souls on Fire, The Nightmare Strikes, Monsters Among Us, The Last Redhead, the Magic of Simon Tombs, and The Santa Heist (written with Patrick Thomas). John is the editor of To Hell in a Fast Car, Mermaids 13, C. J. Henderson’s Challenge of the Unknown, Camelot 13 (with Patrick Thomas), and (with Greg Schauer) With Great Power

 You can find John on Facebook or you can email him at jfrenchfam@aol.com.


SP - Eyes of the Wolf 2 x 3

Eyes of the Wolf, as accounted by Robert E. Waters

When a sudden trail of death and desolation sweeps through south and central Texas, elements of the case trigger an alert with a division of the FBI that tracks possible supernatural influence.

Agent Chimalis Burton, a specialist in cryptids of the Americas, has a history of vanquishing such monstrous creatures. When she is assigned the case, she scrambles to find answers before the situation worsens.

Evidence begins to suggest an evil that has festered for centuries; an evil that now rises to reclaim its power.

An evil that rests in the soulful eyes of a wolf.

About the Author

Robert E Waters is a technical writer by trade but has been a science fiction/fantasy fan all his life. He’s worked in the computer and board gaming industry since 1994 as a designer, producer, and writer. In the late ’90s, he tried his hand at writing fiction, and since 2003, has sold over 7 novels and 80 stories to various online and print magazines and anthologies, including the Grantville Gazette, Eric Flint’s online magazine dedicated to publishing stories set in the 1632/Ring of Fire Alternate History series.

Robert’s first 1632/Ring of Fire novel, 1636: Calabar’s War, (co-authored with Charles E Gannon), was recently published by Baen Books. Robert has also co-written several 1632 stories, including the Persistence of Dreams (Ring of Fire Press), with Meriah L Crawford, and The Monster Society, with Eric S Brown.

Robert is the author of The Mask Cycle, a Baroque fantasy series that includes the novels The Masks of Mirada and The Thief of Cragsport (Ring of Fire Press).

For e-Spec Books, Robert has written several stories which have appeared in the widely popular military science fiction anthology series, Defending the Future. All seven of his stories that appeared in the series were recently collected into one volume titled Devil Dancers.

Robert currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his wife Beth, their son Jason, and their two precocious little cats, Snow and Ashe.


SP - Forget Me Not 2 x 3

Forget Me Not, as accounted by Carol Gyzander

What is legend? What is truth?

 A monster is said to lurk beneath the waters of Lake Erie. Jane and her twin brother Rob are haunted by just that. As children, they lost half their family to a terrible boating accident. They haven’t left dry land since. Only, at the age of sixteen, they allow friends to lure them onto the lake.

But should they have held their ground?

When something nearly swamps their boat, years of secrecy are swept away and the children’s father shares their family history with the supposed Monster of Lake Erie.

Will the tale bring closure or just more tragedy?

About the Author

Carol Gyzander read classic science fiction and Agatha Christie mysteries non-stop as a child. Now that her own kids have flown the coop, she writes and edits horror, suspense, dark fiction, and sci-fi stories from the outskirts of New York City. Twisted tales that touch your heart!

Her story, “The Yellow Crown,” was nominated for the HWA Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in a Short Story. It can be found in the Stoker-nominated anthology, Under Twin Suns: Alternate Histories of the Yellow Sign from Hippocampus Press.

Carol has stories in over a dozen other anthologies, including Stories We Tell After Midnight from Crone Girls Press; Across the Universe: Tales of Alternate Beatles from Fantastic Books (amidst stories by Cat Rambo, Spider Robinson, and David Gerrold); Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse from Camden Park Press; and The Lost Librarian’s Grave: Tales of Madness, Horror, and Adventure from Redwood Press.

As editor-in-chief and one of the founders of Writerpunk Press, she’s edited four anthologies of punk stories inspired by classic tales, including Merely This and Nothing More: Edgar Allan Poe Goes Punk and Hideous Progeny: Classic Horror Goes Punk. She co-edited the Even in the Grave anthology of ghost stories, with James Chambers, from the NeoParadoxa line of eSpec Books.

She works with James Chambers as Co-Coordinator of the Horror Writers Association New York Chapter and as co-host of the HWA-NY Galactic Terrors online reading series (on the second Thursday of every month—see HWANY.org for details). She is also one of the overall Chapter Program Managers for HWA.

Carol’s a member of Horror Writers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Broad Universe, and Historical Novel Society. Find her at http://www.CarolGyzander.com or on Twitter and Instagram @CarolGyzander.


SP - Found Footage 2 x 3

Found Footage, as accounted by Mary Fan

The camera doesn’t lie… but it has been known to hold a secret or two.

High-school student Jenny Chen captures a glimpse of an unbelievable creature when filming a student movie in the woods near Princeton, New Jersey. Despite her proof, only her best friend believes her.

Determined to reveal the truth about the strange creature, Jenny returns to search the woods, only to end up in a terrifying game of hunt and chase. Someone wants her discovery silenced…but who?

About the Author

Mary Fan is a sci-fi/fantasy writer hailing from Jersey City, NJ. She is the author of the Jane Colt sci-fi series (Red Adept Publishing), the Flynn Nightsider YA dark fantasy series (Crazy 8 Press), the Starswept YA sci-fi series (Snowy Wings Publishing), and Stronger Than A Bronze Dragon, a YA steampunk fantasy (Page Street Publishing).

She is also the co-editor of the Brave New Girls YA sci-fi anthology series about girls in STEM (proceeds are donated to the Society of Women Engineers scholarship fund). In addition, she has had numerous short stories published in collections including MINE!: A celebration of liberty and freedom for all benefitting Planned Parenthood (ComicMix), Magic at Midnight (Snowy Wings Publishing), Tales of the Crimson Keep (Crazy 8 Press), and Thrilling Adventure Yarns (Crazy 8 Press).

In her spare time, when she has any, she can usually be found in choir rehearsal, at the kickboxing gym, or tangled up in aerial silks.

CONVENTION SCHEDULE – HELIOSPHERE 2022


Sorry for the delay in sharing these officially, I was putting in a lot of hours at work.

HELIO-Rainbow-Logo-web-1

We are very much looking forward to seeing those of you who will also be at Heliosphere in Piscataway, NJ this weekend. This is our first forey back into in-person events and we couldn’t be more excited! Please do look us up either in the dealer’s room or at one of the following panels if you don’t spy us kicking around the con. We can’t wait to reconnect!

Devilish & DivineLow ResTo note the highlights of the weekend, I will have a reading on Saturday at 3:15pm in the library, which I am sharing with David Walton. And in a slightly less recognizable form than pre-‘Rona, we will be holding an eSpec Book Launch with many authors in attendance, including Amy Grech, Gordon Linzner, Teel James Glenn, Robert Ottone, John P. Collins, Jonathan Lees, Marc Abbott, Christopher J. Burke, Hildy Silverman, and Keith R.A. DeCandido, celebrating all the orphan books that grew up in isolation, most particularly Even In The Grave, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander, and Devilish & Divine, edited by John L. French and Danielle Ackley-McPhail.


Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Friday 5:15 pm-6:20 pm Salon A/B (Dealers)
Books-n-Brews: Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Bjorn Hasseler (you are welcome to have your own table or join forces, if the two of you wish)

Saturday 2:00 pm-3:05 pm Salon C
Villains and Dark Stories

Saturday 3:15 pm-4:20 pm Library
Readings with Danielle Ackley-McPhail and David Walton

Saturday 8:00 pm-9:59 pm Salon C
Espec Book Launch / EVEN IN THE GRAVE anthology group reading

Saturday 10:00 pm-10:59 pm Salon C
The Care And Feeding of Psychological Horror

Sunday 1:00 pm-2:10 pm Salon D
Build-a-Book Workshop

Mike McPhail

Saturday 11:30 am-12:45 pm Salon A/B
Books-n-Brews: Alex Shvartsman and Mike McPhail (You are welcome to have your own table, or join forces if both of you would like that.)

Saturday 8:00 pm-9:59 pm Salon C
Espec Book Launch / EVEN IN THE GRAVE anthology group reading

Sunday 10:00 am-11:15 am Salon CJudging a book by its cover

Sunday 2:20 pm-3:30 pm Salon C
The Relationship between Sci-Fi and Occult / Speculative Interests

COVER REVEAL – EVEN IN THE GRAVE


Seems like only yesterday we concluded our funding for this book…

Okay, a week ago, but thanks to a lot of hard work and dedicated hours by those involved in producing Even in the Grave we are just days away from going to press. Crossing our fingers and petitioning our lucky spirits that we can have books in time for Heliosphere (March 25-27), which is in just :::gulp::: eighteen days! Our plan is to launch the book at the convention, Saturday from 8pm to 10pm (see the program book for location). If you are attending, we hope to see you there to celebrate this monumental effort — see what I did there? LOL

The book can be pre-ordered via the eSpec Online Store.

Anyway, enough nattering. I give you the most amazing cover for Even in the Grave, art and design by the esteemed Lynne Hansen.

Low Res

“In death – no! even in the grave all is not lost.” –Edgar Allan Poe

Wandering souls! Restless spirits! The vengeful dead! Those who die with unfinished business haunt the living and make their presence known from the world beyond: 

  • A scientist’s invention opens a window onto a terrible afterlife.
  • A New York City apartment holds the secrets of the dead.
  • A grandmother sends text messages from the grave.
  • A samurai returns to his devastated home for a final showdown with his past.
  • A forgotten TV game show haunts a man with a dark secret.
  • A tapping from behind classroom walls leads to a horrible discovery.
  • The specter of a prehistoric beast returns to a modern-day ranch.
  • And the one seeing eye knows all—including what you did.

Haunted from the other side, these stories roam from modern cities to the shadowed moors to feudal Japan to the jungles of Central America, each providing a spine-chilling glimpse into the shadows not even death can restrain. 

Do you dare open these pages and peer into the darkness they reveal?

Stories by Marc L. Abbott, Meghan Arcuri, Oliver Baer, Alp Beck, Allan Burd, John P. Collins, Randee Dawn, Trevor Firetog, Caroline Flarity, Patrick Freivald, Teel James Glenn, Amy Grech, April Grey, Jonathan Lees, Gordon Linzner, Robert Masterson, Robert P. Ottone, Rick Poldark, Lou Rera, and Steven Van Patten.

eSPEC BOOKS AUTHOR READING SERIES


Time for one more recap!

Once again, there are going to be a lot of videos in this one. Many, but not all, are from the #GhostsAndGhoulsAndOtherCreepyThings campaign, which ended on the third, but these books can also be pre-ordered from the eSpec store.

Because most of these are from the anthology Even in the Grave, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander, I’m going to put the book description here, rather than repeat it with each video:

“In death – no! even in the grave all is not lost.” –Edgar Allan Poe

Wandering souls! Restless spirits! The vengeful dead! Those who die with unfinished business haunt the living and make their presence known from the world beyond:

  • A scientist’s invention opens a window onto a terrible afterlife. *A New York City apartment holds the secrets of the dead.
  • A grandmother sends text messages from the grave. *A samurai returns to his devastated home for a final showdown with his past.
  • A forgotten TV game show haunts a man with a dark secret.
  • A tapping from behind classroom walls leads to a horrible discovery.
  • The specter of a prehistoric beast returns to a modern-day ranch.
  • And the one seeing eye knows all—including what you did.

Haunted from the other side, these stories roam from modern cities to the shadowed moors to feudal Japan to the jungles of Central America, each providing a spine-chilling glimpse into the shadows not even death can restrain. Do you dare open these pages and peer into the darkness they reveal?

Stories by Marc L. Abbott, Meghan Arcuri, Oliver Baer, Alp Beck, Allan Burd, John P. Collins, Randee Dawn, Trevor Firetog, Caroline Flarity, Patrick Freivald, Teel James Glenn, Amy Grech, April Grey, Jonathan Lees, Gordon Linzner, Robert Masterson, Robert P. Ottone, Rick Poldark, Lou Rera, and Steven Van Patten.

Hope you enjoy!


The eSpec Books Author Reading Series

Lou Rera reading an excerpt from “The Spectacles” from the upcoming EVEN IN THE GRAVE, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander, available for pre-order on the eSpec store.

About the Author

Lou Rera writes horror, supernatural crime and subjects that delve into the darker side of humanity. He is the author of SIGN, a supernatural thriller of deception and murder. His collection titled, AWAKE: Tales of Terror, features 13 stories of horror, supernatural crime, and murder. He is a professional designer, media producer, writer, and musician. He is an experienced music producer, working in studios in Western New York and Los Angeles.

He is a member of the Horror Writers Association, New York Chapter, Just Buffalo Literary Center, and IMDB. His short stories have appeared in the Canadian anthologies, Group Hex Vol 1, and Vol 2. His collection of flash fiction: There are no doors on a cocoon, is a caustic look at the seedier side of existence. His flash fiction has won awards in Art Voice Magazine. His flash fiction and short story work have been published in Queen City Flash, The Writer’s Eye, Twisted Dreams and The Flash Fiction Magazine. Lou writes occasional reviews for Horror Novel Reviews.

Lou holds an M.A.H. in Information Design from the University at Buffalo. He lives in New York State with his wife MaryRuth, a personal chef, and their wire-hair fox terrier.

Robert P. Ottone reading an excerpt from “After Trevor Vanished” from the upcoming EVEN IN THE GRAVE, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander, available for pre-order on the eSpec store.

About the Author

Robert P. Ottone is an author, teacher, and cigar enthusiast from East Islip, NY. He delights in the creepy. He can be found online at SpookyHousePress.com, or on Twitter & Instagram (@RobertOttone). His collections Her Infernal Name & Other Nightmares and People: A Horror Anthology about Love, Loss, Life & Things That Go Bump in the Night are available now wherever books are sold.

Oliver Baer reading an excerpt from “Insubstantials” from the upcoming EVEN IN THE GRAVE, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander, available for pre-order on the eSpec store.

About the Author

Oliver Baer was the editor of Cthulhu Sex Magazine and Two Backed Books. His epistolary novel, Letters to the Editor of Cthulhu Sex Magazine, was published in October 2019. His short stories have appeared in April Grey’s anthologies as well as others. His essays have been on blogs as well as books. His poetry has appeared in Goodreads Best Poems 2020, Paper Teller Diorama, Hell’s Mall: Sinister Shops, Cursed Items, and Maddening Crowds, Birds Fall Silent in the Mechanical Sea, Cthulhu Sex Magazine, Horror Between the Sheets, Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcase Vol. II and other publications. His book of poetry and photographs, Baer Soul, came out in 2011. His CD of poetry set to music, Gathering Souls, which came out in 2013, spawned the show A Conclave of Baer. The band Lucky Witch and the Righteous Ghost, released an EP, Dreams in the Witch House, that is inspired both by HP Lovecraft and his poems. He has appeared as an indescribable horror from the depths, sometimes with a lightsaber, and his likeness has appeared on tv and film while his voice has been heard on internet radio as well as a podcast or two. There have also been various artistic renditions created of him. He is visible using the virtual spectrum of social media by following him on Twitter https://twitter.com/obaer and/or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/obaer3 Much of his work can be found at http://tentacularity.wordpress.com.

Michelle D. Sonnier reading an excerpt from her story “As Ye See, So Shall Ye Find” from Devilish & Divine, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and John L. French. 

Hell Bound or Heaven Sent?

Some of us will never know until it’s too late.

From an infernal fiend reduced to baking cookies to distract a small child, to a pastor’s kid rescued from a fall from grace by an unlikely pair, and every iteration in between, Devilish & Divine explores the spectrum of mankind’s encounters with beings of power beyond our comprehension.

Are you ready to explore otherworldly hosts—both heavenly and otherwise? With stories by James Chambers, John L. French, Robert E. Waters, Jenifer Purcell Rosenberg, Christopher J. Burke, Michelle D. Sonnier, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Russ Colchamiro, Michael A. Black, Patrick Thomas, Hildy Silverman, and John G. Hartness

About the Author

Michelle D. Sonnier writes dark urban fantasy, steampunk, and anything else that lets her combine the weird and the fantastic in unexpected ways. She even writes horror, although it took her a long time to admit that since she prefers the existential scare over blood and gore. She is the author of The Clockwork Witch and Death’s Embrace and has published short stories in a variety of print and online venues. You can find her on Facebook (Michelle D. Sonnier, The Writer). She lives in Maryland with her husband, son, and a variable number of cats.

James Chambers reading an excerpt from his novella The Eyes of the Dead, volume 4 of his celebrated Corpse Fauna series, which can be pre-ordered on the eSpec store. 

About the Author

James Chambers is an award-winning author of horror, crime, fantasy, and science fiction. He wrote the Bram Stoker Award®-winning graphic novel, Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe. Publisher’s Weekly described The Engines of Sacrifice, his collection of four Lovecraftian-inspired novellas published by Dark Regions Press as “…chillingly evocative…” in a starred review. His story, “A Song Left Behind in the Aztakea Hills,” was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.

He has authored the short story collection Resurrection House and several novellas, including The Dead Bear Witness and Tears of Blood, in the Corpse Fauna novella series. He also wrote the illustrated story collection, The Midnight Hour: Saint Lawn Hill and Other Tales, created in collaboration with artist Jason Whitley.

His short stories have been published in the anthologies The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the Crucible, Bad-Ass Faeries, Bad-Ass Faeries 2: Just Plain Bad, Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory, Bad Cop No Donut, The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries, The Best of Defending the Future, Breach the Hull, By Other Means, Chiral Mad 2, Chiral Mad 4, Dance Like A Monkey, Dark Hallows II: Tales from the Witching Hour, Deep Cuts, The Domino Lady: Sex as a Weapon, Dragon’s Lure, Fantastic Futures 13, Gaslight and Grimm, The Green Hornet Chronicles, Hardboiled Cthulhu, Hear Them Roar, In An Iron Cage, Kolchak the Night Stalker: Passages of the Macabre, Man and Machine, Mermaids 13, No Longer Dreams, Qualia Nous, Shadows Over Main Street (1 and 2), The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, The Society for the Preservation of CJ Henderson, So It Begins, The Spider: Extreme Prejudice, To Hell in a Fast Car, Truth or Dare, TV Gods, Walrus Tales, Weird Trails, and With Great Power; the chapbook Mooncat Jack; and the magazines Bare Bone, Cthulhu Sex, and Allen K’s Inhuman. He has also written numerous comic books including Leonard Nimoy’s Primortals, the critically acclaimed “The Revenant” in Shadow House, The Midnight Hour with Jason Whitley, and the award-winning original graphic novel, Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe.

He is a member and trustee of the Horror Writers Association, and recipient of the 2012 Richard Laymon Award and the 2016 Silver Hammer Award. He lives in New York. Visit his website: http://www.jameschambersonline.com.

The eSpec Guest Author Reading Series

Gordon Linzner reads an excerpt of his flash fiction “St. Ives Surprise”, from the anthology Lost Lore and Legend, edited by David Green.

About the Author

Gordon Linzner is the founder and former editor of Space and Time Magazine, as well as the author of three published novels (The Troupe, The Oni, and The Spy Who Drank Blood) and dozens of short stories in F&SF, Twilight Zone, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, and numerous other magazines and anthologies, most recently Corporate Cthulhu, Baker Street Irregulars II, Release the Virgins! and the forthcoming The Mountains of Madness Revealed. He is a lifetime member of SFWA, a licensed New York City tour guide and lifelong resident of that city, edits, cat-sits, and leads the Saboteur Tiger Blues Band, among other distractions.

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – GORDON LINZNER


These interviews are related to our GHOST AND GHOULS AND OTHER CREEPY THINGS campaign. For those just joining us, we are crowdfunding three projects on Kickstarter and also taking some time to introduce you to our participating authors, some of whom are new to eSpec. The campaign is in its final hours! Check it out to see how we’re doing, and how many amazing bonus rewards we’ve racked up!

eSpec Books interviews Gordon Linzner, contributor to Even in the Grave, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander.


eSB: Even in the Grave is a collection of ghost stories, without spoilers, is your story a part of a greater universe stemming from other stories you have written, or does it stand alone? Whichever your answer, can you tell us about what makes that universe unique?

GL: This story is one of several I set in ancient Japan, all of which are stand alone, but of course they do share a common folklore, one which I found fascinating. Every culture has its ghosts and demons, but in the lore of this island nation in particular they felt to me more intrinsic than, for example, in that of the western world.

eSB: Okay, first, off the top of your head, who is your favorite ghost and why?

GL: My favorite fictional ghosts vary depending on my mood and what I’ve read (or watched) most recently. I greatly enjoy most of the spirits, particularly the scout leader, in the original British version of “Ghosts” – the U.S. version is okay, but not as good. As for real ghosts…one of my side jobs involves giving ghost tours here in New York, and much of the appeal of those spirits depends greatly on their back story. One of my favorite stories involves an unreal ghost, that is, not the spirit of a dead person but one created by a mind obsessed with a certain character. There’s a house on Gay Street in Greenwich Village said to be haunted by a figure in formal dress and a cloak which a pulp writer who lived there in the 1940s claimed he created with his mind, being so invested in the character. That writer was Walter Gibson, and it was in that building that he wrote his final adventure of The Shadow…the mysterious figure who haunted the place for years afterward.

eSB: Do you believe in ghosts, and why? Is there an experience in your life you can share with us that strengthened that belief?

GL: Despite a few eerie experiences, and as mentioned leading the occasional ghost tour here in New York, I am not a firm believer in ghosts. Rather, I think what we perceive as the dead returning as things we interpret as such simply because we don’t have a real-world explanation, and therefore are interpreting as best we can (sometimes even if we don’t believe our own idea). That said, I can’t resist mentioning the time, over a decade ago, when a group of us (including the late Lisa Manetti) decided to extend our NeCon weekend at the Lizzie Borden house. Some of us were more aware of paranormal activity than others; I, for instance, only realized the next morning we may have been re-enacting some events from more than a century earlier. Without the bloodshed, of course.

eSB: Other than horror, what genres do you write in? Tell us something about your other works and what makes those genres different from writing horror.

GL: I actually started out doing more sword & sorcery than horror. That genre also has its share of horrific elements but allowed me much more flexibility in world-building. The market is somewhat limited these days, alas! I’ve done more than a few urban fantasy and historical fantasy tales, and dabbled a bit in (soft) science fiction and mysteries. In the latter area, to my own amazement, I sold four Sherlock Holmes stories last year!

eSB: What is your least favorite aspect of being an author, and why?

GL: Staring at a blank computer screen for hours, trying to come up with a new story. To some extent I miss the typewritten sheets I started out with, last century. It’s easier to simply delete a paragraph that isn’t working than to throw the page away and start over, although I can’t help feeling the latter helped one concentrate more, gave more thought to what you plan to put on the page before your fingers hit that keyboard.

eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?

GL: I have a variety of short stories scattered all over the place right now, but Crossroads Press has kindly reprinted all three of my novels from the late ‘80s: The Troupe, The Oni, and The Spy Who Drank Blood.

eSB: What advice would you give aspiring horror writers?

GL: The same advice I’d give any genre writer; sit down and do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. Read and analyze, figure out why something works in a story and something else doesn’t. If you can, join a group of similar interests and don’t be afraid to give or take criticism. I was fortunate to meet a group with some very talented writers but before that, I learned a lot from publishing a small press magazine: in seeing why a certain submission didn’t work, I’d often realize a story of mine had similar flaws.

eSB: How can readers find out more about you?

GL: In addition to my occasional postings on FaceBook the isfbd site has a fairly complete list of my shorter work, though it’s a bit behind on my recent publications (2021 was, happily, a busy year for me).


LinznerGordon Linzner is founder and former editor of Space and Time Magazine, and author of three published novels and scores of short stories in F&SF, Twilight Zone, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, and numerous other magazines and anthologies, including Footprints in the Stars (eSpec Books). He is a member of the Horror Writers Association and a lifetime member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

Learn more about Gordon Linzner:

ISFDB  *  GoodReads  *  Amazon  *  BookBub

Follow Gordon Linzner on social media: 

Facebook  *  YouTube

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – ALLAN BURD


Another in our series of GHOST AND GHOULS AND OTHER CREEPY THINGS interviews. For those just joining us, we are crowdfunding three projects on Kickstarter and also taking some time to introduce you to our participating authors, some of whom are new to eSpec. The campaign is nearing the end! Check it out to see how we’re doing, and what awesome stretch goals we are close to unlocking!

Today’s interview is with Allan Burd, contributor to Even in the Grave, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander.


eSB: Even in the Grave is a collection of ghost stories, without spoilers, can you tell us a bit about your story and how you came up with the idea?

AB: I’ve always been fascinated with plausible, scientific explanations for what’s currently considered paranormal. And as humanity advances, so does our scientific knowledge. I’ll have to just leave it at that.

eSB: What was the greatest challenge you had coming up with an idea that would stand out among the other submissions?

AB: I favor the high concept. I’m glad that was enough for my story to be included amongst this fantastic group of authors. Whether that makes it stand out or not I’ll leave up to the readers.

eSB: Is your story a part of a greater universe stemming from other stories you have written, or does it stand alone? Whichever your answer, can you tell us about what makes that universe unique?

AB: My story was written as a contained chapter (the first) in part of a larger collection of ghost stories that I’m currently writing that all share the same literary sphere.

eSB: Do you foresee writing more stories with this character or in this world? Whichever your answer, why?

AB: Yes, simply because the concept allows for a multitude of twists and turns for me to explore as a writer.

eSB: Have you ever incorporated aspects of your own experiences in your fiction? Tell us about it.

AB: Not really as I mostly write about monsters and aliens, but from a character point of view I do pull things from real life that readers can relate to and implant them into my characters.

eSB: What haunts you as an author?

AB: Low readership 😉  While my work generally gets positive reviews, there are so many stories out there, it’s tough to cut through the clutter. I’ll just keep at it and hopefully keep rising upward so more readers can see.

eSB: Other than horror, what genres do you write in? Tell us something about your other works and what makes those genres different from writing horror.

AB: I actually don’t consider myself a horror writer. My few forays into the horror genre were for charity. I far prefer writing sci-fi, action adventure with monsters, and YA because that’s more where my head is at.

eSB: What is one thing you would share that would surprise your readers?

AB: I wrote a chapter book with my son when he was much younger and put it out there on Amazon. It called The Crazy Invisible Kid vs. The Eye Monster (because who better for someone invisible to lock horns with). It’s cute. I wish more people would check it out.

eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?

Hellion Ad 3AB: The Roswell Protocols was my first novel. I wanted to do a realistic take on what would happen if the incident at Roswell repeated itself in our current day and age and what would happen if the ship did NOT crash in the United States. Even though the book was published over a decade ago, it’s still my best seller. My most recent novel is Hellion, a YA romp that features monsters, magic, and mayhem all firmly grounded in the suburbs of fictional Westville. This one I consider my best written.

eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?

AB: I have a few more short stories in the pipeline, along with a novel looking for a home, and a few screenplays I’ll be pitching sometime this year.


IMG_4990 copyAllan Burd is a science fiction author hailing from Long Island, New York that loves penning exciting stories about the supernatural and aliens. He also occasionally dabbles in children’s books and short stories. His first novel, The Roswell Protocols, about a second crashed UFO, published in 2009 got the ball rolling and he’s been writing ever since. He is a contributor to The New York State of Fright.

Learn more about Allan Burd: 

Website  *  GoodReads Amazon  *  BookBub

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – CAROLINE FLARITY


These interviews are related to our GHOST AND GHOULS AND OTHER CREEPY THINGS campaign. For those just joining us, we are crowdfunding three projects on Kickstarter and also taking some time to introduce you to our participating authors, some of whom are new to eSpec. The campaign has passed the halfway point! Check it out to see how we’re doing, and what awesome rewards are left to be had!

eSpec Books interviews Caroline Flarity, contributor to Even in the Grave, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander.


eSB: Even in the Grave is a collection of ghost stories, without spoilers, can you tell us a bit about your story and how you came up with the idea?

CF: My story is inspired by the infamous Old Hag Syndrome, a form of sleep paralysis usually reported by men who claim that an evil old hag sits on their chests and tries to smother them in their beds. I wondered, who is the “old hag”? The story is told from her perspective.

I first heard about the Old Hag Syndrome listening to a paranormal show on Coast to Coast AM, back in the day when legendary broadcaster Art Bell hosted. This show and others on the subject of sleep paralysis fascinated me because I experienced sleep paralysis as an adolescent. There were plenty of nights as a teen when I lay terrified and unable to move in bed, my mind awake, my body numb, and felt the presence of something malevolent in the room.

eSB: Is your story a part of a greater uinverse stemming from other stories you have written, or does it stand alone? Whichever your answer, can you tell us about what makes that universe unique?

CF: This is a stand-alone story told from the perspective of a ghost, a widow who died shortly after the end of WWII.

eSB: Do you foresee writing more stories with this character or in this world? Whichever your answer, why?

CF: No, this is a one-off. I think the ending is the spookiest part, and what happens to the ghost next is best left to the reader’s imagination!

eSB: Do you believe in ghosts, and why? Is there an experience in your life you can share with us that strengthened that belief?

CF: Yes, I believe consciousness survives the death of the body. I believe in ghosts. I had a friend who lived in Santa Cruz, California. When visiting her house, I often felt uncomfortable walking down a mirrored hallway that led to the bathroom, but didn’t think much of it. During one visit, her son was not home and she invited me to sleep in his room. I lasted about five minutes in that kid’s room once the lights were out. I felt like an invisible presence was two inches from my face, glaring at me. I left and slept on the living room couch, waking up in the middle of the night in a state of high alert. Something was buzzing in my ears. I was flooded with adrenaline, my heart shrieking, hoping it was a bug. The blinds stared rattling, but the windows were closed. The buzzing began to sound like something trying to form words. I bolted into my friend and her husband’s bedroom and slept on the carpet at the foot of their bed! The next day she told me that her late mother was a witch who used to practice the dark arts with her peers in the Santa Cruz mountains. For most of my friend’s life, she’d felt the protective presence of what she called “The Watchers.” And her children now felt the same presence. I never went back.

eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?

CF: My first novel The Ghost Hunter’s Daughter was published in 2019. Supernatural meets Mean Girls in this YA horror debut for older teens. Anna is the grieving daughter of a paranormal investigator with a hoarding problem. When a parasitic evil invades her town (and mind), she must harness its power before it destroys the only family she has left. To do so, she’ll have to keep her increasingly dark urges at bay. The story is relentless and creepy but ultimately uplifting.

eSB: As a horror author, where do you find support for your writing?

CF: Other horror and dark speculative fiction writers are a great source of support. Sometimes I find that attending writing workshops with people who don’t appreciate horror is counterproductive. Not always, of course!

eSB: What advice would you give aspiring horror writers?

CF: Read as much as you can in your genre and be kind to yourself. Find joy in the process because writing is hard work that’s often unrewarded.

eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?

CF: I just finished a solid second draft of my new novel Sometimes in Daylight, a psychological horror with a sci-fi element. A woman is confronted with a terrifying theory about the origins of her insomnia after locating the cousin who abandoned her decades earlier.


Flarity

Caroline Flarity is a freelance writer living in NYC. Her fascination with fringe topics and scary movies led her to begin her writing journey penning creepy screenplays. Her debut novel The Ghost Hunter’s Daughter began its life as a feature script, placing in the finals of the StoryPros Awards and as a semifinalist in Slamdance Film Festival’s writing competition. The Ghost Hunter’s Daughter was named a “Best YA of 2019” listee by Ginger Nuts of Horror and won Crossroad Reviews’ 2019 Indie Book Award. Caroline is a proud member of the Horror Writers Association.

Learn more about Caroline Flarity:

Website  *  Amazon  *  GoodReads  *  BookBub

Follow Caroline Flarity on social media: 

Twitter  *  Facebook  *  Instagram

eSPEC BOOKS AUTHOR READING SERIES – 2/26/22


eSpec-ReadingBannerFinalTime for another recap!

Once again, there are going to be a lot of videos in this one. Many, but not all, are from the #GhostsAndGhoulsAndOtherCreepyThings campaign.

Because most of these are from the anthology Even in the Grave, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander, I’m going to put the book description here, rather than repeat it with each video:

“In death – no! even in the grave all is not lost.” –Edgar Allan Poe

Wandering souls! Restless spirits! The vengeful dead! Those who die with unfinished business haunt the living and make their presence known from the world beyond:

  • A scientist’s invention opens a window onto a terrible afterlife. *A New York City apartment holds the secrets of the dead.
  • A grandmother sends text messages from the grave. *A samurai returns to his devastated home for a final showdown with his past.
  • A forgotten TV game show haunts a man with a dark secret.
  • A tapping from behind classroom walls leads to a horrible discovery.
  • The specter of a prehistoric beast returns to a modern-day ranch.
  • And the one seeing eye knows all—including what you did.

Haunted from the other side, these stories roam from modern cities to the shadowed moors to feudal Japan to the jungles of Central America, each providing a spine-chilling glimpse into the shadows not even death can restrain. Do you dare open these pages and peer into the darkness they reveal?

Stories by Marc L. Abbott, Meghan Arcuri, Oliver Baer, Alp Beck, Allan Burd, John P. Collins, Randee Dawn, Trevor Firetog, Caroline Flarity, Patrick Freivald, Teel James Glenn, Amy Grech, April Grey, Jonathan Lees, Gordon Linzner, Robert Masterson, Robert P. Ottone, Rick Poldark, Lou Rera, and Steven Van Patten.

Hope you enjoy!


eSpec Books Author Reading Series

Randee Dawn reading an excerpt from “Fetch” from the upcoming EVEN IN THE GRAVE, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander, funding now on Kickstarter.

About the Author

Randee Dawn is an author, journalist, and lucky denizen of Brooklyn. Her first novel, the humorous pop-culture fantasy Tune in Tomorrow, will be published in 2022 (Solaris). Her short fiction has appeared in publications and podcasts including 3AM Magazine, Well-Told Tales, Where We May Wag, Children of a Different Sky, Magic for Beginners, Dim Shores Presents, Another World: Stories of Portal Fantasy, Dim Shores, Horror for the Throne, and Stories We Tell After Midnight 3. She has a short collection of dark speculative fiction short stories, Home for the Holidays, and co-authored The Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion. She co-edited the speculative fiction anthology of “what if” stories about The Beatles, Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles. When not making stuff up, Randee publishes entertainment profiles, reviews, and think pieces regularly in outlets including Variety, The Los Angeles Times, Today.com and Emmy Magazine, and writes trivia for BigBrain. She can be found at RandeeDawn.com and @RandeeDawn (on Twitter).

Meghan Arcuri reading an excerpt from “In the Machine” from the upcoming EVEN IN THE GRAVE, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander, funding now on Kickstarter.

About the Author

Meghan Arcuri is a Bram Stoker Award-nominated author. Her work can be found in various anthologies, including Borderlands 7 (Borderlands Press), Madhouse (Dark Regions Press), Chiral Mad, and Chiral Mad 3 (Written Backwards). She is currently the Vice President of the Horror Writers Association. Prior to writing, she taught high school math, having earned her B.A. from Colgate University–with a double major in mathematics and English–and her masters from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She lives with her family in New York’s Hudson Valley. Please visit her at meghanarcuri.com, facebook.com/meg.arcuri, or on Twitter (@MeghanArcuri).

Marc L. Abbott reading an excerpt from “The Bells” from the upcoming EVEN IN THE GRAVE, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander, funding now on Kickstarter.

About the Author

Marc L Abbott is the author of the YA novel The Hooky Party and the children’s book Etienne and the Stardust Express. He is the co-author of Hell at Brooklyn Tea and Hell at the Way Station, the two-time African American Literary Award-winning horror anthology with award-winning author Steven Van Patten. His horror short stories are featured in the anthologies, Hells Heart, Hells Mall, Under Twin Suns: Alternate Histories of the Yellow Sign and the Bram Stoker Nominated horror anthology New York State of Fright. In film, he is the writer and director of the horror shorts SNAP and Being Followed. A two-time nominated best actor for his role in the science fiction film Impervia and Best Actor winner for the film Identity Check. In storytelling, A 2015 Moth Story Slam and Grand Slam Storyteller winner. The writer and performer of the storytelling solo shows Love African American Style and Of Cats and Men: A Storytellers Journey. He is the host of the monthly storytelling show Maaan, You’ve Got to Hear This! in Bushwick, Brooklyn. In addition to being an active member of the HWA New York Chapter, Gamma Xi Phi Fraternity and co-host on Beef, Wine, and Shenanigans, he also heads the Beyond the Tropes reading series with the Center of Fiction in Brooklyn, NY. Find out more about him at http://www.whoismarclabbott.com.

Trevor Firetog reading an excerpt from “What’s Your Secret” from the upcoming EVEN IN THE GRAVE, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander, funding now on Kickstarter.

About the Author

Trevor Firetog writes out of Long Island, New York. He is the author of the horror-thriller novella, Usual Monsters. His short fiction has appeared in various magazines and anthologies. Aside from writing, Trevor collects and restores vintage typewriters. When he’s not reading on the beaches of LI, or scavenging used bookstores, he’s usually holed up in his office, working on his next project. Find him on Twitter and Instagram @TrevorFiretog.

Michelle D. Sonnier reading an excerpt from chapter 2 of her novel The Clockwork Witch

The Humiliation of the Sortilege Line

The seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, Arabella is destined to disappoint, when she was expected to shine. Though she descends from a long line of gifted witches she has earned the moniker of a “brown bud” showing no sign of magical talent.

When it truly seems her lot can grow no worse, she discovers an unnatural affinity for…of all things…technomancy. Not only are the mysteries of the mechanical world open to her, but her newfound ability allows her to manipulate them, making her the first-ever clockwork witch and anathema to the nature of the witching world.

How will she come to grips with her new power when she must question if she will survive the judgment of her family and her peers? Or, more daunting yet…The Trials?

About the Author

Michelle D. Sonnier writes dark urban fantasy, steampunk, and anything else that lets her combine the weird and the fantastic in unexpected ways. She even writes horror, although it took her a long time to admit that since she prefers the existential scare over blood and gore. She is the author of The Clockwork Witch and Death’s Embrace and has published short stories in a variety of print and online venues. You can find her on Facebook (Michelle D. Sonnier, The Writer). She lives in Maryland with her husband, son, and a variable number of cats.

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – APRIL GREY


These interviews are related to our GHOST AND GHOULS AND OTHER CREEPY THINGS campaign. For those just joining us, we are crowdfunding three projects on Kickstarter and also taking some time to introduce you to our participating authors, some of whom are new to eSpec. The campaign is approaching its final week! Check it out to see how we’re doing, and what awesome rewards are left to be had!

eSpec Books interviews April Grey, contributor to Even in the Grave, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander.


eSB: Even in the Grave is a collection of ghost stories, without spoilers, can you tell us a bit about your story and how you came up with the idea?

AG:  My writing group was doing a gothic story challenge and I was inspired by my apartment house and next-door community garden to write about a disabled vet and her challenges as she struggles to rebuild a life for herself.

eSB: Okay, first off the top of your head, who is your favorite ghost and why?

AG: Zero from The Nightmare Before Christmas. He’s man’s best friend and devoted to Jack Skellington.

eSB: Have you ever incorporated aspects of your own experiences in your fiction? Tell us about it.

AG: Yes, my novels take place in NYC (where I’ve lived for nearly 50 years). As I’ve lived much of that time in old tenement buildings, I often incorporate what it’s like to live in a place where you walk up five flights of stairs, have inadequate heat and hot water, deal with pests, walls that are cracked and ceilings that cave in.

eSB: What haunts you as an author?

AG: Fear of alienating readers and friends when I deal with controversial subjects. I fear going too far.

eSB: What drew you to appreciate the horror genre? What inspired you to write in it?

AG:  Horror is an incredibly flexible genre. As long as you are invoking a sensation of unease or fear you can write with elements of other genres: There’s romantic horror, gothic horror, SF horror, horror westerns, comic horror, cosmic horror, you get the idea. It’s an emotion and so as far as world building goes there are fewer rules. Just scare people!

eSB: What is your least favorite aspect of being an author, and why?

AG:  Self-promotion and marketing. It can take up a huge amount of time and effort possibly better spent writing. This is harder on a novelist than a short story writer as most publishers have it in the contract that the author will at the least maintain a social media presence.

eSB: Could you tell us about one of your most amusing experiences promoting your books?

Grey_HellsMallAG:  Two teenagers walked up to me at the HWA booth at Comic Con and said their teacher recommended to his students to read the anthologies I produce. I thought at first someone was pulling my leg. I was deeply touched that I was helping young people become fans not just of horror movies but also short stories.

eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?

AG: I have three urban fantasy novels out, and I am editor of the Hell’s series: Hell’s Garden, Hell’s Grannies, Hell’s Kitties, Hell’s Heart, Hell’s Bells, Hell’s Highway, and Hell’s Mall.

eSB: As a horror author, where do you find support for your writing?

AG:  Broad Universe and The Horror Writers Association—both excellent organizations.

eSB: What advice would you give aspiring horror writers?

AG:  Read and write every day, and understand your genre and the business aspects of being a writer.


GreyApril Grey’s short stories are collected in The Fairy Cake Bakeshop and in I’ll Love You Forever. She is also the author of urban fantasy novels: Finding Perdita, Chasing the Trickster and it’s sequel, St. Nick’s Favor.

She edited the anthologies: Hell’s Heart: Tales of Love Run Amok; Hell’s Bells: Wicked Tunes, Mad Musicians and Cursed Instruments; Hell’s Garden: Mad, Bad and Ghostly Gardeners, Hell’s Grannies: Kickass Tales of the Crone and last year’s, Hell’s Kitties and Other Beastly Beasts. She is a co-editor on the Stoker Award nominated New York State of Fright.

She and her family live in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC in a building next to a bedeviled garden. Gremlins, sprites, or pixies, something mischievous lurks therein. Someday she’ll find out.

Learn more about April Grey:

GoodReads  *  Amazon

Follow April Grey on social media:

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AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – JONATHAN LEES


These interviews are related to our GHOST AND GHOULS AND OTHER CREEPY THINGS campaign. For those just joining us, we are crowdfunding three projects on Kickstarter and also taking some time to introduce you to our participating authors, some of whom are new to eSpec. The campaign has passed the halfway point! Check it out to see how we’re doing, and what awesome rewards are left to be had!

eSpec Books interviews Jonathan Lees, contributor to Even in the Grave, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander.


eSB: Even in the Grave is a collection of ghost stories, without spoilers, can you tell us a bit about your story and how you came up with the idea?

JL: Power Out, Wind Howling takes place in multiple points of time in the life of Anderson Mathis, an heir to extreme wealth and privilege, as he confronts something dredged up from his family’s legacy of greed and malice. I wanted to mix in a little of the creaky, haunted imagery I grew up loving into a very modern story.

eSB: Do you believe in ghosts, and why? Is there an experience in your life you can share with us that strengthened that belief?

JL: I do believe there is something watching me from the darkest corners of my room. I only sleep facing the bedroom door. When I flip to the other side I begin to hear things or sense something behind me. Are these ghosts or a psychological problem?

I’m the type to shout at the screen during horror films when characters make the worst decisions and then quickly realize I would be that kind of character.

eSB: Have you ever incorporated aspects of your own experiences in your fiction? Tell us about it.

JL: Always. Whatever my current obsessions are I tend to weave into a semi-personal narrative from something I’m working out myself or through observations of others. Basically, ranting through fiction.

eSB: What haunts you as an author?

JL: Not being around long enough to finally put to paper some ideas that have been terrorizing me for forever. I gotta prioritize. No excuses.

eSB: What drew you to appreciate the horror genre? What inspired you to write in it?

JL: It might have been the bright orange Crestwood House books on movie monsters that I refused to give back to my elementary school library or the hours spent watching Creature Double Feature on Channel 56, but my appreciation deepened in the tales of the author, John Bellairs. I felt a kinship to him, not only because he lived only a couple towns over from me, but also in the way he explores the curiosity of children. He maximizes the energy and precociousness in his young characters while escalating the tense, surprisingly scary, scenarios in what is considered a middle-grade read. I think he exceeded what was expected for that age group and probably scarred a couple kids along the way. Didn’t hurt that the books were illustrated by the incomparable Edward Gorey.

eSB: As a horror author, where do you find support for your writing?

JL: I have been so lucky to stumble upon some of the greatest group of people I’ve ever met at conventions like StokerCon, organizations like HWA, reading series like Matt Kressel and Ellen Datlow’s Fantastic Fiction at the KBG in New York. No matter where you are on Earth there is always someone you can connect with.

Give your stories to people in the genre but more importantly give it to people who aren’t. They sometimes give you the best advice.

eSB: What advice would you give aspiring horror writers?

JL: Oh man. Easy. FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED. It’s worth the agony to push through something and a great way to learn your strengths in a first draft. It’s always going to transform. Embrace the edit. Challenge yourself. Make yourself uncomfortable. But if it’s really not working out, toss that sh*t aside and keep it moving. We don’t have enough time here.

eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?

JL: I’m so excited to see some of my work unleashed in anthologies such as Other Terrors (ed. Rena Mason, Vince Lugiano), Chiral Mad (ed. Michael Bailey), The Horrible Book of Hidden Horrors (ed. Doug Murano) and Even In The Grave! I’m always proud to be part of a book that is created by people who care deeply for the genre.


LeesIn addition to over a decade of creating strategies and video series for outlets ranging from Complex Media to TIDAL, Jonathan Lees has also spent twenty years championing filmmakers through his programming work with the New York Underground Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, TromaDance, and now, Final Frame hosted by StokerCon.

His first published story, The Ritual Remains, debuted in the NECON anthology, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, and he is looking forward to ruining your dreams for years to come.

Follow Jonathan Lees on social media: 

Twitter  *  Facebook  *  Instagram