We are getting closer! Now it is just a matter of fine-tuning and putting everything into position!

Here is a test render of Corporal Katrion “HellKat” Alexander, but mostly referred to as just Kat, unless you’re Scotch and get away with calling her “Kittie”. She is the main character of Daire’s Devils.

It is quite exciting to participate in the process of forming this image.

Can’t wait to show you the final art and get these books ordered!

Hope you are all enjoying this holiday season, however you may celebrate.



Just a little update. Progress continues to be made on Daire’s Devils. The book itself is done and set. In fact, I must restrain myself from going back over it yet again… for the fifth or so time… while I wait for the cover to be done. But no worries. I am certain it will be worth the wait!
Here is a test study as we work out the poses for the individual characters on the cover:

This is Scotch and Spec. You’ll learn more about them later. Scotch’s expression is a little goofy, but don’t let that put you off. We are just testing body poses right now and haven’t yet fine-tuned the expressions.
I am so excited to see this cover come to life!
More news for you soon…


One week in on our Kickstarter campaign and In Harm’s Way is already funded. We are also about a quarter of the way to funding Footprints in the Stars.

While all of that is going on, we have moved into high gear on completing the first book. The stories are nearly all in and edited, with several authors having already supplied their final versions. 

Mike McPhail (McP Digital Graphics) is hard at work on the cover elements. Below is a test render of the figures to be featured on the cover:


In Harm’s Way is the eighth book in the award-winning Defending the Future anthology series. (All of the books are stand-alone, the number designation only indicating publication order.) The theme for this volume is rescue and recovery stories, and the contributors are Brenda Cooper, Bud Sparhawk, David Sherman, Robert E. Waters, Jeff Young, James Chambers, Lisanne Norman, Robert Greenberger, Aaron Rosenberg, Christopher M. Hiles, Eric Hardenbrook, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail.

Want to be among the first to get your hands on a copy? Please consider supporting our Kickstarter. There are a lot of amazing rewards you can only get through this campaign. Less than three weeks remaining to get in on this deal. Early backers are already receiving up to four bonus books, in addition to their pledge reward.



Humans and elves, dwarves and gnomes, wizards and warriors all live and do business in the thriving, overcrowded port city of Cliff’s End, to say nothing of the tourists and travelers who arrive by land and sea, passing through the metropolis on matters of business or pleasure-or on quests. The hard-working, under-appreciated officers of the Cliff’s End Castle Guard work day and night to maintain law and order as best they can.

Arra Cynnis is the youngest child in one of the most powerful families in the wealthy district of Unicorn Precinct. When she’s found murdered, with the culprit’s identity hidden from the magickal examiner’s spells, the Captain of the Guard sends his best investigators. Ex-soldier Torin ban Wyvald and half-elf Danthres Tresyllione have two viable suspects: Arra’s fiancé, who is the cousin of another member of the Castle Guard, or the unknown person with whom Arra was having a torrid affair.

Torin and Danthres must navigate the difficult political waters of Cliff’s End’s upper classes in an attempt to determine the girl’s killer. Complicating the case is the unexpected appearance of Torin’s estranged father, who has come to return the detective to his far-off homeland of Myverin, and he won’t take no for an answer . . . .

An all-new adventure of the Cliff’s End Castle Guard!

“A fascinating excursion in genre-bending; worth a try even for readers who usually take either their procedurals or their fantasies unadulterated.” Booklist

“Unicorn Precinct is a fantastical, funny twist on the traditional murder mystery, with many likable characters and enough twists and turns to keep things interesting.” —Sci-Fi Bulletin

“Reading Unicorn Precinct felt like meeting old friends … I felt immediately at home in Cliff’s End.” —Unreality SF

KEITH R.A. DeCANDIDO is a white male in his late forties, approximately 200 pounds. He was last seen in the wilds of the Bronx, New York, though he is often sighted in other locales. Usually he is armed with a laptop computer, which some have classified as a deadly weapon. Through use of this laptop, he has inflicted more than fifty novels, as well as an indeterminate number of short stories, comic books, nonfiction, novellas, and anthologies on an unsuspecting reading public. Many of these are set in the milieus of television shows, movies, games, and comic books, among them Star Trek, Cars, Doctor Who, Supernatural, World of Warcraft, Orphan Black, Alien, Marvel Comics, and many more. We have received information confirming that more stories involving Torin, Danthres, and the city-state of Cliff’s End can be found in the novels Unicorn Precinct, Goblin Precinct, Gryphon Precinct, and the forthcoming Mermaid Precinct, Phoenix Precinct, and Manticore Precinct, as well as the short-story collection Tales from Dragon Precinct. His other recent crimes against humanity include the urban fantasy novel A Furnace Sealed; the Orphan Black coffee-table book Classified Clone Report; the Alien novel Isolation; the Tales of Asgard trilogy of prose novels featuring Marvel’s Thor, Sif, and the Warriors Three; short stories in the anthologies Aliens: Bug Hunt, the two Baker Street Irregulars volumes, The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries, The Best of Defending the Future, Joe Ledger: Unstoppable, Nights of the Living Dead, The X-Files: Trust No One, among others; and writing about pop culture for and Patreon. If you see DeCandido, do not approach him, but call for back-up immediately. He is often seen in the company of a suspicious-looking woman who goes by the street name of “Wrenn,” as well as several as-yet-unidentified cats. A full dossier can be found at


After a bit of a hiatus while we relocated and regrouped, eSpec Books is back with three delightfully punky tomes for your reading enjoyment. Won’t you help us make these fantastical books a reality? We bring you familiar favorites and shiny new names, but as always wonderful fiction. This campaign will allow us to cover production costs, pay the authors, and possibly include artwork in these books. It hasn’t launched yet, but you can check out the campaign here. And below you can read about the upcoming books…. 

 THE CLOCKWORK WITCH by Michelle D. Sonnier 

 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…technology. Not only are the mysteries of the mechanical world open to her, but her new-found 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 judgement of her family and her peers? 

 SPIRIT SEEKER by Jeff Young 


 The Kassandra Leyden Adventures 

 The Leydens were people of extraordinary means. The father a well-known adventurer. The mother a spiritualist oft consulted by the government of New Britain. 

The daughter, Kassandra, inherent of both the skill and sense of adventure that made her parents great. But when her mother vanishes without a trace, and her father turns toward spirits of a fluid nature as he loses himself in memory, Kassandra is left to find her own way and purpose. She quickly learns a sense of caution as she discovers there is as much intrigue as adventure about the world she lives in. And not all those she’s had faith in are to be trusted. 

 With the whispers of spirits in her ear and unlikely allies at her back, Kassandra strives to defend both the living and the departed…after all… It’s the Spirit of the matter…

 AFTER PUNK: STEAMPOWERED TALES OF THE AFTERLIFE edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Greg Schauer 

 While mankind can scarce hope to pierce the Veil without crossing it, a few intrepid souls will ever bend their will against the aether, combining artifice and the arcane to uncover its secrets. 

 From voodoo death cults to the Day of the Dead, mummy parties, the wheel of reincarnation, the practice of death portraits, and so much more, these tales leave no gravestone unturned. 

 Be it heaven or hell or the limbo in between, the hereafter is about to get ‘Punked. 

 With stories by Jody Lynn Nye, David Sherman, Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin, James Chambers, Michelle D. Sonnier, Jeffrey Lyman, Bernie Mojzes, Travis I. Sivart, Jeff Young, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail.  

Once again, you can preview the campaign for Tales of Paranormal Steampunk here, it should be launching in just a few days.




edited by Mike McPhail

Beyond the Cradle of mankind, the universe is vast, unknown,
dangerous to the unwary…or those caught in the path of intrepid explorers proceeding without forethought.

Thirteen authors explore what it is to pioneer the future with tales fraught with danger and remorse, tempered with hope, luck, and serendipity. We face the monsters. We face the truth. We face ourselves.

Whether the frontier is that of science or space, there is no doubt that at some point one must ask …If we had known, would we have followed this course?


The Necessary Enemy by Ian Randal Strock

The Steady Drone of Silence by Danielle Ackley-McPhail

The Last Man on Earth by Jody Lynn Nye

Chasing the Ball by Peter Prellwitz

The Janus Choice by Jeff Young

Between Scylla and Charybdis by Patrick Thomas

The Star Gazers by James Chambers

Giraffe Children by Robert E. Waters

Good Advice by John L. French

Egg by Christopher M. Hiles

Youth by Judi Fleming

Meeting the Other by Nancy Jane Moore

The Third Heaven by Robert Greenberger


We are excited to present to you the cover of Man and Machine, Defending the Future Volume 7. After a three-year hiatus, editor Mike McPhail has given us another great volume for your reading enjoyment, featuring series veterans Brenda Cooper, Bud Sparhawk, Jennifer Brozek, James Chambers, Patrick Thomas, Jeff Young, Robert E. Waters, Eric Hardenbrook, Nancy Jane Moore, Judi Fleming, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail, plus our newest recruits: Ronald T. Garner, Aaron Rosenberg, and Anton Kukal.

In addition, the collection contains a final farewell from CJ Henderson, written just before his passing, about his participation in the Defending the Future Series.


Back Cover Copy

The plan had been to un-man the battlespace, replacing flesh and blood with steel and carbon fiber. Machines, both remote-controlled and autonomous A.I.s, would fight and be destroyed in the name of freedom; sparing the troops at the cost of the nation’s treasure.

However, as with any arms race, the opposing side’s technology eventually catches ups to yours, resulting in the need to put lives back in harm’s way on the frontline; to deal with, and adapt to the unknown, as only humans can.




As a part of our Man and Machine campaign we were fortunate enough to also fund a Best of collection. We have made our final determinations and are proud to share with you the following:

The embers of war still glow as memories of strange skies over an alien landscape, light-years from home, bring back the sensations of battle; a time when personal sacrifice meant the difference between salvation for all, or total destruction.  

Gathered here is a cross-section of stories from the first decade of the Defending The Future series. Written by the known and up-and-coming in the military science fiction genre, these stories represent the fan-requested highlights from the series.


And now, we are excited to announce the stories selected for The Best of Defending The Future, in no particular order.

From Breach the Hull  

  • Jack McDevitt – Black to Move  
  • John C. Wright – Peter Power Armor  
  • Lawrence M. Schoen – Thresher  
  • Jeffrey Lyman – Compartment Alpha  

From So It Begins  

  • Andy Remic – Junked  
  • Danielle Ackley-McPhail – First Line  
  • Charles E. Gannon – To Spec  
  • Bud Sparhawk – The Glass Box  
  • CJ Henderson – Everything’s Better with Monkeys  

From By Other Means  

  • James Chambers – Mother of Peace  
  • Jeff Young – Blankets  
  • Mike McPhail – Sheepdog  
  • John G. Hemry – Dawn’s Last Light  
  • Robert E. Waters – Devil Dancer  

From No Man’s Land  

  • Nancy Jane Moore – Gambit  
  • Maria V. Snyder – Godzilla Warfare  
  • Brenda Cooper – Cracking the Sky  

From Best Laid Plans  

  • Keith R.A. DeCandido – The Stone of the First High Pontiff  
  • David Sherman – Chitter Chitter Bang Bang  
  • Judi Fleming – Iron Horses


As a company we cut our teeth on anthologies. Now we are ready to graduate to something more meaty. Our next campaign begins Monday and we are really excited about it. 

>This one is for two original novels: The Sister Paradox, a fantasy offering by Jack Campbell; and POST, a science fiction dystopia novel by Brenda Cooper. You can check out the campaign in advance at


Finally, for those who haven’t heard yet, Joshua Palmatier of Zombies Need Brains started a new campaign yesterday. This one is for three anthologies, about Robots, Water, and Death. Check it out here: One day in and they are a third of the way there. There are some really awesome authors involved, like Jody Lynn Nye, Faith Hunter, Gini Koch, Misty Massey and Rosemary Edgehill, just to name a few.

Have a good night and enjoy your weekend. Me, I’m off to Star Trek Mission New York at the Javits Center. If by chance you happen to be there a well, come say Hi! I’ll be at the Quidd booth, which is #331.



Due to recent life events I haven’t posted much about this here, but we are in the final hours of a Kickstarter campaign that was initially for the anthology Man and Machine, book 7 in the award-winning Defending the Future series, with stories by Brenda Cooper, Bud Sparhawk, Nancy Jane Moore, Jennifer Brozek, Ronald Garner, Aaron Rosenberg, James Chambers, Patrick Thomas, Jeff Young, Eric Hardenbrook, Robert Waters, Anton Kukal, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, and a special Afterword by CJ Henderson (posthumous).

KSC-FrontPageNewNot only did the campaign fund quickly, but it has unlocked sixteen stretch goals, including funding a tee shirt, a mission patch, and two additional books: If We Had Known (book one in the Beyond the Cradle anthology series) and The Best of Defending the Future. 

Here is a list of all the bonus rewards all backers at the $5 or higher level will now receive in DRM-Free format:

  • Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s short story “By Any Means” a prequel to her story in Man and Machine.  
  • Jennifer Brozek’s short story “Found on the Body of a Solider”.  
  • Robert E. Waters’ short story “Old Soldiers Never Die”.  
  • Soothe the Savage Beast (anthology), 
  • “A Second Away” by John L. French (short story), and 
  • “Mercenary” by Bud Sparhawk (short story)  
  • David Sherman’s story “Going After Yeechiphooie” ACHIEVED! 
  • Time Traveled Tales 2 (anthology), 
  • “Grilg Friendly” by James Chambers (short story), and 
  • “Sign of Iron” by Peter Prellwitz, writing as HK Devonshire (short story).  
  • Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s short story “Last Man Standing” a prequel to her story in Man and Machine.  
  • Nancy Jane Moore’s short story “Borders”.  
  • Brenda Cooper’s short story “A Hand and Honor”.  
  • Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s solo science fiction collection A Legacy of Stars, 
  • “Written in Light” by Jeff Young (story), 
  • “12:70” by Peter Prellwitz, writing as HK Devonshire (story)  

We have also unlocked the following production goals which are available via the add-on section of the campaign or select pledge rewards that have been added:

  • If We Had Known (Book 1 in the Beyond the Cradle series)
  • Dogs of War custom Tee Shirt
  • Defending the Future Mission Patch
  • Best of Defending the Future anthology

And, I made an executive decision. I’d really LOVE to see From the Archives funded so I have reshuffled the rewards so all our lovely backers have a chance at even more great fiction than they are already getting. That means we are just $170 away from unlocking a FOURTH book! With five hours to go, that should be no problem! I have also added From the Archives to the pledge rewards and add-on section. Now, there are just FIVE hours left…What mischief can we get up to? Here are the remaining stretch goals:

220 Backer Bonus – DRM-Free copies of all five Radiation Angels: The Mission Files stories by James Daniel Ross.

$5000 – At this stretch goal we will fund a fourth book: From the Archives, a short story collection edited by Greg Schauer and including stories by Mike McPhail and Danielle Ackley-McPhail.  

$5300 – A Man and Machine Mission Patch will be produced and added to the Pledge rewards and Add-on section.  

$5600 – A DTF Man and Machine Challenge Coin will be produced and added to the Pledge rewards and Add-on section.  

$6000 – DOUBLE UP BONUS #4

Can you help us spread the word, or maybe even chip in a dollar or ten? Everyone wins in this campaign!

Thank you,



We have two lovely reviews to share with you this week. Please click the link for the full reviews.


On The Weird Wild West

“This anthology offers twelve short stories with full on spectacular weird west. […] I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in trying the genre. It’s the perfect anthology to get your feet wet with.” 3 Stars, Hope Sloper, Amazon

Hope’s favorites in the collection were the stories by Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin, R. S. Belcher, Jonathan Maberry, Robert E. Waters, John G. Hartness, and Faith Hunter.


On The Society for the Preservation of CJ Henderson

“CJ Henderson was a writer’s writer. He could fluidly move between genres. […] in ever story his talent shows even more.” 4 Stars, Renfield1969, Amazon


We are very pleased to announce that the Kindle edition of Gaslight & Grimm is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

G&GRed-Gold Leaf

Once Upon a Time…

…ageless tales were told from one generation to the next, filled with both wonders and warnings. Tales of handsome princes and wicked queens, of good-hearted folk and evil stepmothers. Tales of danger and caution and magic… classics that still echo in our hearts and memories even to this day, told from old, cherished books or from memory at Grandma’s knee.

Oh yes, tales have been told…but never quite like these. Journey with us through the pages of Gaslight and Grimm to discover timeless truths through lenses polished in the age of steam.

With tales by

James Chambers ~ Christine Norris ~ Bernie Mojzes ~ Danny Birt ~ Jean Marie Ward ~ Jeff Young ~ Gail Z. and Larry N. Martin ~ Elaine Corvidae ~ David Lee Summers ~ Kelly A. Harmon ~ Jonah Knight ~ Diana Bastine ~ Jody Lynn Nye.


Excited to say we should be going to press on this book within a day. Hard to believe we are just over a month away from the launch!


G&GRed-Gold Leaf
Gaslight & Grimm linocut art (c) Dustin Blottenberger Cover design and treatment, Sidhe na Daire Multimedia


Gaslight and Grimm: Steampunk Faerie Tales
edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Diana Bastine

Once Upon a Time…

…ageless tales were told from one generation to the next, filled with both wonders and warnings. Tales of handsome princes and wicked queens, of good-hearted folk and evil stepmothers. Tales of danger and caution and magic…classics that still echo in our hearts and memories even to this day, told from old, cherished books or from memory at Grandma’s knee.

Oh yes, tales have been told…but never quite like these. Journey with us through the pages of Gaslight and Grimm to discover timeless truths through lenses polished in the age of steam.

With tales by

James Chambers ~ Christine Norris ~ Bernie Mojzes ~ Danny Birt ~ Jean Marie Ward ~ Jeff Young ~ Gail Z. and Larry N. Martin ~ Elaine Corvidae ~ David Lee Summers ~ Kelly A. Harmon ~ Jonah Knight ~ Diana Bastine ~ Jody Lynn Nye.


Well, we are in the final week of the campaign ( and all we can say to our backers is Thank you! Their support has made this project possible and will allow us to pay those involved, include art, and so much more. 

So many people have gotten behind the project, that we wanted to recap exactly what the backers–current and future–are all getting for their pledge, in addition to the book Gaslight and Grimm: Steampunk Faerie Tales.

$1500 Pre-Funding Bonus Rewards – UNLOCKED!

  • James Chambers’ “A Cat’s Cry in Pluto’s Kitchen.”
  • James Daniel Ross’s “Not One Word”
  • Jeffrey Lyman’s “Lord of Fire, Lord of Wind”
  • Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s “Carbon Copy”

$2000 Pre-Funding Bonus Rewards – UNLOCKED!

  • Gail Z. Martin’s “Airship Down”
  • L Jagi Lamplighter’s “Feeding the Mouth That Bites You”
  • Jeff Young’s “A Talent Beyond My Talents”
  • Jean Marie Ward’s “The Wizard of Woodrow Park”

And our Funding Goal Prize Pack, which one lucky backer at the $20 or higher level has a chance to win once the campaign ends. The prize is now finalized. To celebrate the release of his new novel, contributor David Lee Summers has added autographed copies of all three books in the series to the prize pack. Here is the full list of prizes along with pictures. (NOTE: the hair stick shown is not an actual image of the set the winner will receive. Unfortunately we were not able to get a photo of the one that comes with the prize pack so this one is there just for representation. The actual pair that comes with the prize is darker and much nicer.)

Funding Goal Prize Pack – UNLOCKED!  

  • David Lee Summers’ Owl Dance, Lightning Wolves, and Brazen Shark
  • Season 1 of Grimm on DVD
  • Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (Unrated Cut) on BluRay and DVD
  • Snow White and the Huntsman on BluRay and DVD
  • a physical copy of Jonah Knight’s original album: Age of Steam
  • The Kassandra Leyden Go-Bag (consisting of the Steampunk Tarot, an “ectoplasm carrier, carved wooden “lightning bolt” hair sticks, and steampunk belt box – prize donated by contributor Jeff Young based on his upcoming collection “The Kassandra Leyden Adventures”)  


  • David Lee Summer’s “The Slayers”.
  • Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s steampunk story “On the Wings of an Angel”.
  • Jean Marie Ward’s “Four for More”.
  • Gail Z. Martin’s “Grave Voices”.
  • Kelly A. Harmon’s newest Charm City Darkness short story, for a limited time only available through this campaign.


We are just $190 away from unlocking the next goal:

$4200 – we will add an original story by Jody Lynn Nye, based on “The Red Shoes,” to the collection.

$4500 – Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s steampunk story, “Looking Back”.

$4800 – Jean Marie Ward’s “Dangerous Dames”.

$5100 – we will add an original story by Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin based on “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” to the collection.

$5400 – Jeff Young’s steampunk collection The Kassandra Leyden Adventures.

$5700 – Jean Marie Ward’s “Glass Transit”.

$6000 – Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohamad.

$6500 – Danny Birt’s original album “Songs Of My People (Let Me Sing You Them)”.

$10,000 – we will produce a hardcover edition of Gaslight and Grimm

We’d really like to hit those bonus story goals. Were you thinking of backing? Now would be a great time to do so. We’ve already funded. And you can see all the amazing bonuses you get no matter when you pledged.

If you have a moment, and the inclination, could you help us spread the word? It really is the more the merrier:




So, we have a number of deadlines approaching that you might want to know about.

Contest Updates

The Side of Good / The Side of Evil Good Reads Giveaway – This ends in less than two days. Don’t miss your chance to win one of three autographed copies of the book.

Author Spotlight Contest – Danielle Ackley-McPhail – 10 days left to get a free ebooks.

This is how it works:

  1. Between now and 12/25, take a look at my GoodReads profile
  2. Decide which book of mine you would most like to read
  3. In the comments at the bottom of the profile page tell me which book that is and why. There will be a special surprise for the person who leaves me the best or most creative reason why.

If I have the electronic files for that book in my possession and permission to circulate it, you get a free copy (formats may be limited).

If you leave a review of it when you are done, you can choose a second book under the same terms.

December Flash Fiction Contest – I Want to Believe… – Two weeks left to submit your entry into this month’s flash fiction contest.

In the popular TV series The X-Files, on December 22, 2012 the aliens invade Earth. In tribute to that monumental…if miscalled event…tell us your tales of alien invasion in 2012 words or less.

Submission Deadline: December 31. Entries should be mailed to as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf attachment. Please include your name, story title, and contact information in your document. If we cannot identify your entry from the file you will be disqualified. Reprints (with proper citation) are acceptable if they meet the terms of the contest, but original fiction is preferred. 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.

Visit for a list of titles.


Production Updates

The Weird Wild West – We are in the final stages of production. The artwork has been completed, the book is typeset, and the galley proofs have gone out to the authors. We expect to go to press by the end of the week. eBooks will distribute by the end of the month and we expect print books early in January. We thank you all for your patience.

NEW PROJECT ALERT – Gaslight and Grimm: Steampunk Faerie Tales – There isn’t much there yet, but we are preparing for our next Kickstarter campaign to fun a great new anthology of steampunk faerie tales. This is a resurrection of a project we were working on for another publisher some years ago but fell through so we are happy to say that nearly all the preliminary work is done on the stories and we anticipate the book will be out by March, once the project is funded. Authors on the project include: James Chambers, Jean Marie Ward, Jonah Knight, Elaine Corvidae, Bernie Mojzes, David Lee Summers, Jeff Young, Kelly A. Harmon, Christine Norris, Danny Birt, and Diana Bastine. The campaign will go live on January 5th. We hope you will use the link on the preview page to schedule a reminder.