Shattered Dreams: The Shardies War

Whew! November is very busy for us these year. This coming weekend is the only one we don’t have a convention.

Here are the schedules we have been assigned (subject to change without prior notification.) 

As always, we can be found in the dealers room at each convention when we are not on panels. Unless, of course, the dealers room is closed, in which case you’ll find us somewhere if you try hard enough, but I can’t tell you where 🙂

DerpyCon – November 9 – 11 – Morristown, NJ

Schedule for Mike McPhail and Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Opening Ceremony Friday 2 PM-3 PM Main Events
Book Design for Beginners Friday 9:15 PM-10:15 PM Panel 2

Crowdfunding for the Beginner Saturday  2:45 PM-3:45 PM Panel 1

Publishing Q and A Sunday 10:15 AM-11:15 AM Panel 2
Sunday Morning Mad Libs Sunday 12:15-1:15 PM Panels 3 (Danielle only)

Philcon – November 16 – 18 – Cherry Hill, NJ

Schedule for Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Fri 6:00 PM in Plaza II (Two) (1 hour)
    [Panelists: Chris Kreuter (mod), Paul Levinson, Danielle
    Ackley-McPhail, April Grey, Michael D’Ambrosio, Russ Colchamiro]
    When is it better to shop your book around to publishers, and when
    does it make more sense to put it out yourself
Fri 7:00 PM in Executive Suite 623 (1 hour)
    [Panelists: Darrell Schweitzer (mod), Danielle Ackley-McPhail]
Sat 12:00 PM in Plaza II (Two) (1 hour)
    [Panelists: Alex Shvartsman (mod), Aaron Rosenberg, Danielle
    Ackley-McPhail, Paul Levinson, Ken Altabef]
    From cover design to distribution options, where do you take your
Sat 4:00 PM in Executive Suite 623 (1 hour)
    [Panelists: April Grey (mod), Elizabeth Crowens, Sally Wiener
    Grotta, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Roberta Rogow, Elektra Hammond]
Sat 7:00 PM in Executive Suite 823 (1 hour)
    [Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail (mod), Mike McPhail]
Sun 1:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Three (1 hour)
    [Panelists: Vikki Ciaffone (mod), Steven Brust, Marshall Ryan
    Maresca, Bernie Mojzes, Danielle Ackley-McPhail]
    We’ve talked a lot over the years about how to avoid infodumping, or
    at least, giving your readers information in a way that is
    entertaining and easy to parse. But sometimes the question you ought
    to ask is not how to insert all the facts about the world you’ve
    built, but “is it necessary?
Schedule for Mike McPhail
Sat 10:00 AM in Plaza II (Two) (1 hour)
    [Panelists: Mike McPhail (mod), Chris Kreuter, Leighland Feinman,
    Glenn Hauman, Aaron Rosenberg, April Grey]
    How to plan the project, manage time, and stay on budget
Sat 1:00 PM in Plaza V (Five) (1 hour)
    [Panelists: Nathan Lilly (mod), Lisa Hertel, Heidi Hooper, Tess
    Kissinger, Mike McPhail, Robert Walters]
    Artists are always being asked to work for exposure. When is working
    for free (or “on-spec”) a bad idea? When is it a good idea? How
    do you know the difference
Sat 3:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Two (1 hour)
    [Panelists: Ray Ridenour (mod), Alan Beck, Eric Hardenbrook, Nathan
    Lilly, Mike McPhail]
    What are the best art applications? Platforms? Where do I learn to
    use them? Is a digital pen and tablet needed
Sat 7:00 PM in Executive Suite 823 (1 hour)
    [Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail (mod), Mike McPhail]
Sat 9:00 PM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)
    [Panelists: Michael Swanwick (mod), Martin Berman-Gorvine, Eric
    Hardenbrook, Mike McPhail]
    Science Fiction is the genre best suited for ideas that challenge
    the status quo, because it is not bound by our reality as we know
    it. At the same time, SF has existed for long enough that it has
    become full of ossified paradigms that no longer force us to examine
    our perspectives. How do we keep our ideas relevant given the
    evolutionary nature of the genre while also dealing with the natural
    tendency of fiction to recycle cliches, frameworks, and touchstones
    that are familiar to us
Sun 12:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Three (1 hour)
    [Panelists: Vikki Ciaffone (mod), Brenda W. Clough, John Monahan,
    Mike McPhail, Russell J. Handelman]
    You’ve got maps, star charts, cultures developed for a multitude of
    different races, and a timeline of the main historical developments
    over the last 1,000 years. But what you don’t have is any clue what
    to do with it all! Let’s see if we can help with that.

ChessieCon – November 24 – 26 – Timonium, MD

Schedule for Danielle Ackley-McPhail
Running a Small Press Friday 6:45pm GS1
Reading: Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading Friday 9:15pm GS2
**Moderator Time Management for the Overachieving Creator Saturday 10:00am GS1
**Moderator It’s OK to Not Like Things… Saturday 5:30pm GS1
Group Signing Saturday 6:45pm Atrium
Reading: Danielle Ackley-McPhail Sunday 11:15am C1-2
Schedule for Mike McPhail
Real Life Military vs SF/F Friday 8:00pm GS1
Put a Pretty Face on It – Cover Design in the Age of Digital Art Saturday 12:30pm GS2
Group Signing Saturday 6:45pm Atrium


Shattered Dreams: The Shardies War

Shattered Dreams: The Shardies War

Will Humanity’s First Contact Prove to Be Its Last?

The opening salvos of a deadly war take mankind’s planetary colonies unaware. Jeaux is lost and the Naval courier Provance barely escapes on a course to the planet Morrow, only to discover the alien forces have given chase.

The fledgling colony of Morrow receives a garbled warning it can scarce believe. Before they can decide what course to take, the crystalline aliens strike with brutal force, nearly wiping all evidence of humanity from the planet. Out of thousands of colonists, a mere scattering survive, unaware of the greater war.

On the planet and among the stars, humanity fights to survive with resources sadly lacking against the aliens’ nearly unfathomable technology and tactics.

In an effort to combat the Shards, military command makes the hard call to adapt captured tech, instancing mortally wounded Marines into cyber weapons, leaving many to wonder…

To Defeat the Enemy, Have We Become Them?

Bud Sparhawk is the author of the novels Distant Seas, Dreams of Earth, and Vixen, as well as two print collections: Sam Boone: Front to Back, and Dancing with Dragons. He has three e-Novels available through Amazon and other channels. 

Bud has been a three-time novella finalist for the Nebula award: Primrose and Thorn (Analog, May 1996), Magic’s Price (Analog, March 2001), and Clay’s Pride (Analog, July/August 2004).  His work has appeared in two Year’s Best anthologies: Year’s Best SF #11 (EOS), David Harwell-Editor) and The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Fourteenth Annual Collection, (St Martins Press, Garner Dozois – Editor.)

His short stories have appeared frequently in Analog Fact/Fiction, less so in Asimov’s, as well as in five Defending the Future and other anthologies, publications and audio books. He has put out several collections of some of his published works in ebook format.  A complete bibliography can be found at:

He also writes an occasional blog on the pain of writing at



Just out of curiosity, we looked over our sales for the year and are delighted to share with you the following bestsellers to date for 2018. You can click on the image to check out the book.

eBook Best Sellers – from left to right


lg-book-wwwSister Paradox web















Print Book Best Sellers – from left to right


Goblin Precinct 2x3

















According to SF History.Net, on September 13, 1999, on the show Space 1999, a catastrophic nuclear failure sent the moon out of earth orbit, careening into space. In honor of that event, this month’s theme is Lunacy.

Give us an inventive story in 1999 words or less by September 30. Stories can be any genre. Email your submissions to

One lucky winner will receive publication on the eSpec Blog and an electronic copy of the eSpec Books/Paper Phoenix Press title of their choice.


Less than two days left to get your entries in for the August flash fiction contest!

eSpec Books

horn-dog2Magical Beasts…time to get things done…equal representation…All things we’ve heard of but rare few have seen. This month’s theme is Mythic.

Give us an inventive story in 1500 words or less by August 31. Email your submissions to

One lucky winner will receive publication on the eSpec Blog and an electronic copy of the eSpec Books/Paper Phoenix Press title of their choice.

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horn-dog2Magical Beasts…time to get things done…equal representation…All things we’ve heard of but rare few have seen. This month’s theme is Mythic.

Give us an inventive story in 1500 words or less by August 31. Email your submissions to

One lucky winner will receive publication on the eSpec Blog and an electronic copy of the eSpec Books/Paper Phoenix Press title of their choice.


Sorry for the delay, this has been a hectic month.

Congratulations to David M. Hoenig, winner of the June Flash Fiction Contest. His prize is publication on the eSpec Blog and a digital copy of the eSpec Books title of his choice.

The flash fiction contest will resume in August with Mythic.

David M. Hoenig

“C’mon, brother!  I overheard the Captain and Arsenault saying it’s the hottest place on the station.”

“But, yanno, is it safe, Gord?”

Gordon Blaive stared incredulously at his shipmate just outside the neon-lit club, Rubbed Elbows, as music from inside washed over them.  “The Kaethra are the friendliest species you could ever hope to encounter.  I know it’s your first trip with us, but you’ve heard the stories, right?”

Jax Tanner shrugged like it was no big thing, but managed to look uncomfortable nonetheless.  “Sure, but actual sex with them?  What about diseases and stuff?”

Gord laughed.  “Diseases… and stuff?” he gasped between paroxysms.  “It’s a totally alien biology, man!  It’s impossible to catch something from them.  We go in, buy a few drinks, and when a willing Kaeth sidles up to you and lets you know it’s interested, you just pay for a room and go at it.”

“Uh, how does it actually…work?”

Gord clapped a hand on Jax’s shoulder.  “Don’t tell me you haven’t watched any of them pornos on the Luck!  Basically, you stick your dick in one and fuck it til you’re done.  Then you go back to the ship with some once in a lifetime memories and more interesting stories than hauling ice and jerking off in your cabin for the last four months.”

Jax blushed.  “But…?”

“Shit.  You going to ask questions all night, or are we going to get some alien poon?”  Without waiting for a reply, Gord grabbed the other man’s wrist and tugged him into the club.

Inside the music was louder, but not uncomfortable.  There were weird harmonics in it, along with a sweet scent in the air.  “I’d swear that was honeysuckle,” Jax said wonderingly.

A Kaeth ‘hostess’, delicate wings shimmering prismatically in the club’s light, moved to greet them.  Its eyes glittered like faceted crystal as it handed them each a translator to pin to their clothes.  It then hummed an interrogative at the two men, and the devices did the rest.  “Welcome, gentlebeings.”

Jax couldn’t take his eyes from the Kaeth’s insectoid body.  Gord elbowed him.  “Gives new meaning to the term wasp-waisted, don’t it?”  He grinned at the hostess.  “Thanks.  You’ll have to pardon my friend; he hasn’t met one of you before.”

The Kaeth hummed something which the translators rendered as tinkling laughter.  “And you’re the expert, hmm?”

It was Gord’s turn to blush.  “Well, I, uh…How could you tell?”

The hostess interrupted with more musical speech.  “We know many things.”  It motioned peremptorily with a wing, and another Kaeth approached them bearing a tray with glasses on it.

Gord and Jax each took one, and sniffed at the amber liquid within.

The new alien kept its eyes downcast but trilled a response.  “Whiskey,” the translators rendered.

The spacers drank as the hostess stretched its gossamer wings forward to lightly brush them.  “Please be welcome.  You understand our customs?”

The men glanced at each other before Gord answered.  “Yes.  We wait to be approached before we find a, uh, partner.”

“Excellent.  Enjoy yourselves, gentlebeings.  We thank you for servicing us.”  Both Kaethra moved off.

Jax let out a breath.  “Whoa!”

“Totally hot, right?”

“Uh, I guess.”

Gord grinned lasciviously.  “Like the man said, ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet’, brother.  Let’s find us some company.”

They moved further into the club, where a white fog rose from vents in the floor to lend a magical ambiance.  The wreathing vapor teased them with half-revealed glimpses of both humans and Kaethra waiting alone, or together.  “What’d she mean by ‘servicing us’, Gord?” Jax whispered.

“What do you think, numbnuts?  Just hold onto your pecker—it’s all good.”


“Quiet!” Gord hissed, as a Kaeth loomed out of an eddy of fog.  It reached one appendage out towards them.  Gord glanced at Jax, then licked his lips.  “Well, if you won’t, I’m gonna.”  He put his hand out to hold the alien’s delicate hand-appendage, and it turned to lead him away.  “See you back at the ship,” he called back over his shoulder.

“Shit!  Don’t leave me here all alone!”

Gord didn’t answer, but disappeared into the fog.  Jax began to breathe more rapidly, and backed slowly away.  “Shitshitshit,” he muttered.  “This is crazy!”

Then another Kaeth came out of the mist, and held out its hand-appendage to him, and the spacer looked at it helplessly before he took it.  He shuddered as it turned to lead him through the fog to a hatchway with a cred reader on the wall beside it.  It leaned close and trilled.  “Rent us a room so we can be together, lover.”

Half dazed by the whiskey, the scents, and the alien music, Jax fumbled out his credit chip and swiped it at the reader.  The hatch unlocked and the Kaeth led him inside.

The alien closed the door behind him, letting him hear music which sounded like the alien speech playing softly in the small room.  He turned.  “What do I…?”

It raised its hand-appendage and touched his lips softly, then stepped in to press itself against him.  “You feel so warm.”  The Kaeth rubbed its pelvis against his and hummed something the translator didn’t bother with.

The alien proceeded to strip him from his jump suit, gooseflesh rising all over even as his phallus jutted out eagerly.  His eyes bulged as he felt the soft, warm flesh of the Kaeth press against him.

Then it had turned and fallen back against the bed, pulling him down on top.  Its humming came now with a certain urgency.  “I want you inside me, lover.”

“Uh, where…?” Jax began, but exhaled sharply as it guided him into a wet, warm, soft place which enveloped him completely.  He began to thrust over and over, and the alien clung to him and moaned a complex scale of harmonics as he rode it.

The orgasm hit him like a supernova, causing him to gasp with its intensity.  His hips kept shoving as the pleasurable spasms went on and on, and the Kaeth moved with him, the sounds of its own apparent pleasure chorusing with his.

Jax’s face reddened as he looked down at the alien below him.  “Uh, I’m sorry…it’s, it’s just been a long time, and, and I…”

The amusement in the Kaeth’s musical reply needed no translation.  “Do not fret; I’ve enjoyed myself immensely.  Thank you for servicing me.”

The spacer’s uncertain expression relaxed into a hesitant smile.  “Then it wasn’t, uh, too fast?”

“Just right, lover, just right.”

Jax worked his jaw like he wanted to say something more, but no words came.  He pulled out and stood up.  There was something pathetic about the man as he looked at the alien reclined on the bed, now that the deed was done.  It watched him languorously as he awkwardly got his jumpsuit, then turned back.  “Uh, is there a place…?”

It pointed past him to the corner of the room, and when he looked that way he saw a sink and towels.  He cleaned himself and dressed hurriedly, then looked back to see the Kaeth regarding him appraisingly with its crystalline eyes.  “Uh…”

“Farewell, traveller,” it trilled.

The spacer hunched his shoulders and left, closing the hatch behind him.  Outside he saw Gord exiting from a similar hatch nearby.  “Hey!” he called out.

His shipmate looked over and grinned.  “Was that amazing or what?”

Jax shrugged, arms crossed tight.   “Yeah, I guess.”

Gord snorted.  “Shit, try to sound more excited after banging your first freaking alien, okay?”


Gord just laughed as the ‘hostess’ who’d greeted them earlier arrived through the mists.  “I trust all was to your satisfaction, gentlebeings?”

“Hell yeah!” said Gord.

Jax nodded wordlessly.

The ‘hostess’ gestured with its wing, and another Kaeth came over, eyes downcast.  “This one will lead you out.  Please return the translators and farewell, gentlebeings.”  The two men unpinned the small devices and handed them over, then left; one strutting, the other with hunched shoulders.

Once they’d gone, the hatches to the rooms they had occupied opened and the Kaethra emerged to stand with the ‘hostess’.  “How did we do this cycle?” trilled one, the musical sounds translated incidentally by the devices.

“Quite well.  Six sixes plus a third of a six.”

“So many!” marvelled the other.

The hostess peered in the direction of the departed spacers.  “Yes.  These humans are astonishing creatures, aren’t they?  All thanks to the Universe for bringing them to us.”

The others made appropriate sounds of agreement.

After some moments of silence, the one which had lain with Jax spoke.  “Do you think it will hurt them much?”

“Not until the very end.  Why do you ask?”

“The one I mated with tonight seemed different than the others; hesitant, most unsure of itself.”


“Yes.  I wonder if that will affect the eggs I laid in him.  I’d hate my young to be defective.”

“The Universe provides as it will.  Now, back to work.”

“Yes my queen,” the two chorused.