eSPEC EXCERPTS – THE STEADY DRONE OF SILENCE


proof-iwhk-coverAn excerpt from If We Had Known

The Steady Drone of Silence
Danielle Ackley-McPhail

“Excuse me? Lieutenant Kolby…excuse me!” Christopher James spoke softly into the headset attached to the helmet the lieutenant had jammed onto his head before they’d left the transport. “I need to know what’s gone wrong…”

Just ahead, Kolby snapped around to look over his shoulder, his features hard-set and his gaze unyielding. His posture projected urgency.

Christopher fell silent as he felt his eyes widen and the rest of him go cold. This must be how a rabbit feels caught in a hawk’s sights, he thought as he swallowed hard and fought the urge to duck his head. Kolby looked away and continued his hurried, but methodical progress through the brush, his eyes continually scanning in all directions, even straight up into the sky.

A shiver ran over Christopher. Why would the lieutenant look up?

Clutching the straps of the rucksack holding his tablet computer, he did his best to move as quickly and quietly as the soldiers escorting him. Fat chance of that, though. He was a civilian contractor. An engineer. A tech head specializing in unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. Two weeks ago he’d been pulled from his current research project with no explanation. Now he found himself on the butt end of Demeter traipsing through the wilds, destination unknown. He didn’t have to ask to know the soldiers escorting him weren’t any happier about it than he was.

Maybe he should have been paying more attention to where he was walking, instead of worrying over where he was going. Abruptly, his forward motion switched to downward as a root or something snagged his foot, tripping him. Christopher started to cry out only to find himself gripped by what felt like two steel bands, one across his mouth, the other around his upper arm. He had the vague impression the rest of the soldiers around him had dropped low to the ground and gone still. Christopher himself couldn’t help but tremble as he came eye to up-close eye with Lieutenant Kolby.

“Do you want to die?” The words were so low and emphatic Christopher questioned if he’d actually heard them, either way the message was clear in Kolby’s gaze.

Christopher shook his head.

Kolby looked over at the soldier to their left. Samson, if Christopher remembered correctly. Hanging from the man’s neck was an electronic device. Some kind of tracker-slash-monitor. All Christopher knew was the little green light on the top of the housing meant they were good. If the red one went on, they were screwed. The man nodded and Kolby nodded back. Only then did he release his grip on Christopher. One hand dropped to the rifle hanging from the strap slung across Kolby’s chest, the other rose slowly into the air in an obscure gesture Christopher had to guess meant ‘proceed’, because—as if they were guided by one brain—the six soldiers rose from where they crouched and continued through the brush with barely a sound.

Christopher couldn’t move.

The soldier behind him gave him a controlled shove. Not enough to make him fall, but enough to break the grip of the fear anchoring Christopher in place. He was terrified of messing up again. He was terrified of whatever was out there that had Kolby treading so lightly. He was terrified of never making it home.

Christopher had no place being on this mission.

Apparently the military felt otherwise. Or at least someone up the chain of command did.

Christopher just wished he knew what they were thinking because the only thing worse than being out here was having no clue why.

 


 

Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Award-winning author and editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for longer than she cares to admit. In 2014 she joined forces with husband Mike McPhail and friend Greg Schauer to form her own publishing house, eSpec Books.

Her published works include six novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court, The Redcaps’ Queen, and Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, written with Day Al-Mohamed. She is also the author of the solo collections A Legacy of Stars, Consigned to the Sea, Flash in the Can, and Transcendence, the non-fiction writers’ guide, The Literary Handyman, and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Gaslight & Grimm, Dragon’s Lure, and In an Iron Cage. Her short stories are included in numerous other anthologies and collections.

She is a member of Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.

Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail and three extremely spoiled cats. She can be found on Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail) and Twitter (DMcPhail).

eSPEC EXCERPT – LITTLE SISTERS OF THE HOURGLASS (AWAKENED MODERN)


cover-proofAn excerpt from The Awakened Modern

Little Sisters of the Hourglass
James Chambers

They’re coming.

Weaver closed his book and rested it on his lap. He finished the last of the scotch in the crystal tumbler on the side table, ice clinking against glass, then stood and replaced the book on a bookshelf.

“We knew they would. Where are they now?”

Next door. My sisters and daughters are watching them.

The prospect of confrontation excited Weaver. He relished the chance to further test his Awakened abilities. He had always planned to move against Cortez one day. The chaos of the two moons had simply brought that day sooner by tipping the balance of power and rendering the conditions ideal. Distraction. Uncertainty. Streets up for grabs. The sex trade, the numbers rackets, drug trafficking, smuggling—all of it in play after years of suffocating under the thumb of that arrogant fucker Cortez, forcing Weaver to pay for the privilege of doing business. The two moons had brought Weaver the devil, and now the devil demanded his due.

He switched off the light in his study and descended to the first floor.

Two armed men stood watch in the foyer by the base of the stairwell.

“Be ready,” he told them.

They nodded, hands on their weapons.

Two more guarded the back door, and another pair joined Weaver in the den. They sat with weapons ready, straight-backed, leaning forward, afraid to make themselves comfortable. None of them liked being in his house, but he paid them enough not to care. If his newfound power served him as he hoped, they wouldn’t need to fire a shot or raise a fist.

They wander in the dark. I don’t understand.

“Wander where?”

In the home beside this one.

“They hope to catch us by surprise.”

We have observed them stalking us for weeks and taken six of their brothers. We have watched them tonight since they came in their rolling shell.

“They don’t know that. They have no idea what they’re walking into. Our goal tonight is to make sure none of them leave to warn anyone else.”

None of them shall.


James Chambers_2017

James Chambers is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of the original graphic novel Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe as well as the Lovecraftian novella collection, The Engines of Sacrifice, described in a Publisher’s Weekly starred-review as “…chillingly evocative….” He has also written the story collection Resurrection House and the dark, urban fantasy novella, Three Chords of Chaos. His tales of crime, fantasy, horror, pulp, science fiction, steampunk, and more have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines, including Allen K’s Inhuman, The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the Crucible, Bare Bone, Chiral Mad 2, Dark Furies, The Dead Walk,  Deep Cuts, Gaslight and Grimm, The Green Hornet Chronicles, Hardboiled Cthulhu, Kolchak the Night Stalker: Passages of the Macabre, Shadows Over Main Street, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Qualia Nous, Truth or Dare, Walrus Tales, and the award-winning Bad-Ass Faeries and Defending the Future series. He has edited and written numerous comic books including Leonard Nimoy’s Primortals, Gene Roddenberry’s Lost Universe, Isaac Asimov’s I*Bots, the graphic novel adaptation of From Dusk Till Dawn, and the critically acclaimed “The Revenant” in Shadow House. He is a recipient of the 2012 Richard Laymon Award and the 2016 Silver Hammer Award from the Horror Writers Association.

His website is www.jameschambersonline.com.

eSPEC BOOKS JULY FLASH FICTION CONTEST


Freedom

We are fortunate to have many freedoms in our lives. With that in mind, this month we are giving you the freedom to write about ANYTHING you want in 740 words or less. Deadline: July 31.

Entries should be mailed to especbooks@aol.com as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf attachment. Please include your name, story title, and contact information on your manuscript itself. If we cannot identify your entry from the file you will be disqualified. Multiple submissions are permissible, but reprints are not. Winning entry will be published on the eSpec Books blog and the winner will receive a free ebook copy of the eSpec Books title of their choice. Prize can be reserved for a future book if the winner already has the available titles.

Visit http://www.especbooks.com to learn about the available titles.

eSPEC BOOKS JUNE FLASH FICTION CONTEST


Just 24 hours left to submit to this month’s contest!

eSpec Books

ChangeLife is about to seriously transform for those of us working behind scenes here at eSpec Books. With that in mind, this month we want you to tell us your tales of Change in 628 words or less. Deadline: June 30.

Entries should be mailed to especbooks@aol.com as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf attachment. Please include your name, story title, and contact information on your manuscript itself. If we cannot identify your entry from the file you will be disqualified. Multiple submissions are permissible, but reprints are not. Winning entry will be published on the eSpec Books blog and the winner will receive a free ebook copy of the eSpec Books title of their choice. Prize can be reserved for a future book if the winner already has the available titles.

Visit http://www.especbooks.com to learn about the available titles.

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eSPEC BOOKS JUNE FLASH FICTION CONTEST


ChangeLife is about to seriously transform for those of us working behind scenes here at eSpec Books. With that in mind, this month we want you to tell us your tales of Change in 628 words or less. Deadline: June 30.

Entries should be mailed to especbooks@aol.com as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf attachment. Please include your name, story title, and contact information on your manuscript itself. If we cannot identify your entry from the file you will be disqualified. Multiple submissions are permissible, but reprints are not. Winning entry will be published on the eSpec Books blog and the winner will receive a free ebook copy of the eSpec Books title of their choice. Prize can be reserved for a future book if the winner already has the available titles.

Visit http://www.especbooks.com to learn about the available titles.

CONVENTION SCHEDULE – BALTICON 51


It’s that time of year again! Convention time.

This weekend Mike McPhail and Danielle Ackley-McPhail represent eSpec Books at Balticon, in Baltimore, MD.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Saturday May 27, 2017

Sunday May 28, 2017

7:00PM – eSpec Books Launch Party – With John Hemry, Mike McPhail, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Lee C. Hillman, Brian Koscienski, Chris Pisano, Jeff Young, Robert E. Waters, Peter Prellwitz, Chris Hiles, John L. French, Patrick Thomas and more.

Mike McPhail

Saturday May 27, 2017

Sunday May 28, 2017

Monday May 29, 2017