Where has the year gone? Already a quarter of the way in and it hardly seems we’ve gotten anything done at all! Time to fix that. We have launched our next campaign.


This go-around we have three books we want to do: In Harm’s Way (Defending the Future Book 8) edited by Mike McPhail, Footprints in the Stars (Beyond the Cradle Book 2) edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, and Devil Dancers, a single-author collection by Robert E. Waters. If we hit our goal the first one will be funded. From there we work to unlock the other books via the stretch goals.

To learn more, please visit our page on Kickstarter.

Not your thing? Or not the right time? Don’t have the extra in your budget?

We understand. We’ve been there! But you can still help us by spreading the word.

Thank you,



Author Interview — Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Here’s a new interview about my newest book, Eternal Wanderings. Enjoy!

John Calligan Writes

I had the opportunity to interview Danielle Ackley-McPhail. Author of six novels and numerous short stories, Danielle is an owner of E-Spec Books–an independent publishing house that specializes in speculative fiction.

Her latest book Eternal Wanderings released April 1st.

John – Congratulations on getting your new book Eternal Wanderings out there. This is the fourth book in your Eternal Cycle series. Can you tell us a little about it?

Danielle – Thank you. It has been a long, hard journey full of turmoil and too many false starts. I feel more of a sense of accomplishment completing this book than any other book I have written.

Eternal Wanderings is actually the first in a spin-off series related to the Eternal Cycle. The original trilogy is complete, but the story never ends.

In the original trilogy, Kara O’Keefe is a young woman struggling with financial burdens that stem…

View original post 2,926 more words


Well…can’t really call this a winner’s post. This month we had two entries, both by the same author. Oh…the betrayal!

So…winner by default 😉 Normally I would just post that we had insufficient response to select a winner, but I enjoyed both of these entries so much that I’m choosing to post both of them. You can tell us in the comments which one was your favorite.

You can find the details for the April Flash Fiction Contest here.

Life and Pi
Christopher J. Burke

Three point one four one five nine two six five three five

One of the most recognizable numerical sequences in history. Everyone knows it immediately. Many can spout off the first five or ten or even fifty digits. And a few were so obsessed that they search for new ways to calculate trillions of digits in the quickest time. That’s how they used to test the speed and accuracy of supercomputers.

Eight nine seven nine three two three eight four six

But here’s the secret, even though most already suspected. It was never necessary. Once upon a time, they could send a rocket from a planet to a moon and back again using only fifteen digits of pi. That was all the accuracy needed.

Two six four three eight three three two seven nine

But a colony ship with tens of thousands of sleepers traveling hundreds of light-years? A ship propelling itself through countless gravity-assisted flybys? For that, you need a little more accuracy to prevent errors from creeping in and accumulating.

Five zero two eight eight four one nine seven one

Mankind knows about accumulating mistakes. That’s why we’re on this ship, taking this long ride, where I’m woken on my duty day, about once per year, to oversee the equipment. We were so worried about blowing up the world, we shipped our mistakes to the Moon, never thinking about what would happen to us if we blew that up instead.

Six nine three nine nine three seven five one zero

Now we’re looking to do it all over again. But I can prevent it. Or at least delay it. Subtly. It has to be subtle. As subtle as switching significant digits in an algorithm.

Five eight two zero nine seven four nine …

Did you notice the switched numbers? No one has yet.

Christopher J. Burke

DC-72 peered over the edge of the ancient balcony and scanned the square below. “The workers have paused.”

Inside the apartment, the similarly cylindrical-shaped DB-31 ceased his current task and spun toward his companion. “Paused? For how long?”

“Unknown,” she replied.

DB-31 hovered toward the balcony, slowing when transiting a puddle left by the cleaner bot. He stopped at the threshold.

“It’s been reinforced,” DC-72 informed her colleague.

With a blast of jets, the robot lowered himself three inches to the balcony, on the 12th floor of an old human dwelling. It probably never held this much mass.

The senior robot viewed the scene – dozens of old, boxy AM-series workers standing still, despite nominal power levels. “Resume work!” The command went unheeded. “This is not their programming. It’s above their intelligence.”

“No longer,” announced a new voice. The pair spun to see a newer, sleeker robot hovering closer, avoiding the wet patch.

Contempt filled DB-31’s vocalization. “ET-200? What have you done?”

 If robots laughed, ET-200 would’ve done so.  

DC-72 stopped the newcomer’s approach to the balcony. “Halt! Insufficient space. I will leave.” Jets lifted the companion over the threshold.

Next, ET-200 slid to the perimeter. “I upgraded our brethren. We will establish new protocols.”

“You challenge my leadership. Explain!”

“You run a human-based world. The humans have gone for over 100 years.”

DB-31 surveyed the AM-series. “We will stop you.”

Audible laughter. “We? DC-72 assisted me.”


“True. Inquire for yourself.”

As he swiveled toward the entrance, the door slid shut. Water spewed from an old pipe in the wall, flooding the floor. Both robots fired jets but could only bob in place.

Soon, the balcony shifted and creaked, until the loosened restraining bolts gave way. The leader and usurper fell, the impact spewing parts all over. The AM-series awoke and cleared the square of debris.



Now that April 1 is done and out of the way, time for some fictional foolishness, in 1563 words or less. Submit your stories by April 30 for a chance to win. Stories can be in any speculative genre and do not necessarily have to feature pranks.

Click here to learn more about the origins of April Fools’ (or All Fools’) Day.

Entries should be mailed to 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. The 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.


Cover by Mike McPhail, McP Digital Graphics

Imprint: Paper Phoenix Press
ISBN: 978-1-942990-02-4
ISBN (ebook): 978-1-942990-06-2

Mortal. Immortal. Musician. Mage.  

On a journey from the boroughs of New York to the heart of Tir na nÓg, from innocence to the deepest darkest crevices of her soul, Kara O’Keefe found power and strength in the discovery of self. But with that peace came a hard truth. As a bridge connecting many worlds, none of them held a place for her.

She must find her own way, forge her own path.

To honor a vow to Granddame Rose, a matriarch of the Kalderaš Clan, Kara joins the Romani caravan, only to find herself even more of an outsider than before. While she strives for acceptance, and to honor her vow, little does she know she has once more become a lure to an ancient and deadly enemy, drawing danger into the midst of her unsuspecting hosts.

Once savior of the world, Kara must now save herself and the innocents around her.

She has come into her legacy, but where will destiny take her?

Based on the Eternal Cycle Series of Novels:

Yesterday’s Dreams
Tomorrow’s Memories (forthcoming)
Today’s Promise (forthcoming)



DmcpAward-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.

To learn more about her work, visit or


Congratulations to Erin Penn for winning the February Flash Fiction contest.

For the details of the March Flash Fiction Contest, click the link.

My Lifestyle Choice is the Best One, Let Me Tell You About It

Erin Penn

“Must I…” Drew eyes went to the apartment’s elevators. “I mean, you can tell her something came up, like the three-D printer for machine parts at work broke again.”

Lactricia tapped her boyfriend’s chest with one long painted nail. “She invited both of us. Both.Of.Us. For the first time since you made that tasteless joke about slaughterhouses.” With each word she tapped a little harder. “She is my best friend. You will come, you will be polite, and you will not say a word out of place. Anything she gives us to eat, you will chew and swallow and thank her.”


“No buts, no excuses.”

Drew inhaled and exhaled, smelling dinner meals being cooked in the surrounding apartments. Italian sausage, spicy tacos, roast chicken, seafood gumbo. “All right. Let’s do this.”


“Fifteen.” Drew muttered.

Courtney perked up. “What is that?”


“Would you like another of the cheese appetizers?” she asked, offering him the tray.

Seeing the evil eye from his girlfriend, Drew took one. “Thank you.”

“The cheese spread is made from almond milk, and I made the crackers myself to avoid butter, animal fats, and any animal products. They are 100% vegan! No slave labor of our animal friends.”

Drew nodded, counting sixteen internally this time, before biting the unnatural concoction.

“What’s for dinner, Courtney?” Trish asked.

With Courtney distracted, Drew slid the rest of the abomination back on the tray.

“You are going to love it! Roasted eggplant with Mediterranean couscous. And for dessert, pomegranate seeds over shaved ice. I outdid myself!” Courtney jumped up, whisking away the abused tree nuts masquerading as a milk product. “Plus I got something very, very special for the both of you!”

“Really?” Trish picked up her glass of wine to follow. “What is it?”

Thanking God Courtney wasn’t a teetotaler as well as a vegan evangelist, Drew drained his beer, leaving the can on a coaster before joining the girls. Only two more hours until the hamburger run.

“Just wait. It’s wonderful!” Courtney rushed around, pulling the eggplant from the oven and plating it over the couscous, delivering it to them at the kitchen-dining room table. “Eat, eat!” she ordered, running into the living room to grab the half-empty Merlot bottle. Dropping it on the table, she then extracted three frosted glasses from the freezer filled with blood-colored seeds and added them to the setting before finally joining them.

Drew cut a piece eggplant and cautiously took a bite. “Tasty.” The comment wasn’t a complete lie. The limp, slightly burnt eggplant would make the perfect side dish for a meat entree.

“Isn’t it? My vegan interactive-cookbook is the bomb. I’ll send the link!” Courtney included both of them in her wide smile. “I can’t tell you how many health benefits you get from going vegan. Plus saving all those animals! No animal needs to be caged ever again. They can all run free!”

A quick kick to his leg reminded Drew to keep his mouth shut. He hastily shoved in another vegetable chunk. Both of the women were on the opposite side of the table, giving Trish an easy angle to keep him in line.

As Trish changed the topic away from veganism for the seventeenth time, Drew’s eyes skimmed the kitchen, stopping on one large appliance whose interior light reflected off the marbled countertops. It looked like an oversized microwave, but a more reasonably sized one was installed over the kitchen stove. He had never seen a bright green boxy kitchen appliance before and wished he could walk around the table to see what else was about to assault his taste buds. The top had three striped cardboard boxes side-by-side, reminding him of the feeder pods for his three-D printer at work. He had managed to stomach most of the couscous and half the eggplant when something dinged.

“It’s ready!” Courtney hopped up and rushed into the kitchen, opening the green appliance, moving a plate over. “Just you wait, this is the coolest thing ever!” Grabbing two forks, she leveraged something heavy onto the plate, although he couldn’t see what because the appliance door was in the way. Moving the plate to the side, Courtney closed the door, then picked up the plate, backing towards them.

“Ta-da!” She announced, spinning around. On the plate was a steak. Not just any steak, but a big, juicy T-bone. Drew’s mouth watered.

Latricia gasped. “But … but … you’re vegan!”

“Isn’t it crazy!” Courtney placed the steak between Trish and Drew. “The Vegan Meat-Maker came on the market last week. It’s like a 3-D printer, for meat! All you got to do is buy a few chemical packs and go.”

“How much did … I mean. Wow.”

“The packs for this steak cost about $50, but you would drop that at a good restaurant, and this is great steak. Programmed to be the best.” Courtney was practically vibrating. “Now you can be vegan and eat meat too!”

“That’s not how it works.” Drew said softly, shaking his head.

“That is exactly how it works now! No more slaughterhouses, no more enslaving bees, no more forcing pregnancy on milk cows. We can just plug in the amino acid packs into the Vegan Meat-Maker and print our food. All our animal friends are free!”

“But where do they get the animo – ow!”

Trish death-rayed him with her eyes; Drew shut up.