FROM THE PUBLISHER – STATE OF THE ‘SPEC 2019


Hard to believe we have been at this for five years, come October. That is a lot of blood, sweat, and cuss words…let me tell you! We have learned a lot and we have grown. We are making a name for ourselves and doing what we love. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like we are making too much progress, but then we look back and think “Damn!”

I did that today. My entire day has been nothing but entering and calculating data to see exactly what it is we’ve accomplished, by the numbers. So! Here it goes…

  1. We’ve published nine titles in electronic format only.
  2. We’ve published 39 titles in both print and electronic format.
  3. We have eight titles currently under review or in production.
  4. We have originated three imprints: eSpec Books, Paper Phoenix Press, and AGM Publications.
  5. We have three staff members: Danielle McPhail (publisher), Mike McPhail (art director/graphic designer), Greg Schauer (editor).
  6. Eight times out of eight times, we have paid out royalties either early or on time.
  7. We have zero company debt.
  8. We have a positive balance in each of our company accounts.

Those last three fill us with the greatest sense of accomplishment.


All-Time Top Bestsellers

  1. The Clockwork Witch by Michelle D. Sonnier
  2. The Sister Paradox by Jack Campbell
  3. The Weird Wild West
      edited by Misty Massey, Emily Lavin Leverett, and Margaret S. McGraw
  4. Issue in Doubt by David Sherman
  5. In All Directions by David Sherman
  6. Gaslight and Grimm edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Diana Bastine
  7. Dragon Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido
  8. The Best of Defending the Future edited by Mike McPhail
  9. Goblin Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido
  10. Unicorn Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Proof-4-5-Clockworkproof-front-sisterlg-book-wwwes-iid-final-proof

In All Directions 2 x 3G&GRed-Gold Leaf-150Proof-DragonPrecinctNew-Proof-DTF1b

Goblin Precinct 2x3Proof-UnicornPrecinctproof-iwhk-coverproof-tbobaf

All-Time Highest Grossing

  1. The Sister Paradox by Jack Campbell
  2. The Clockwork Witch by Michelle D. Sonnier
  3. The Weird Wild West 
        edited by Misty Massey, Emily Lavin Leverett, and Margaret S. McGraw
  4. Issue in Doubt by David Sherman
  5. In All Directions by David Sherman
  6. Gaslight and Grimm edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Diana Bastine
  7. Dragon Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido
  8. The Best of Defending the Future edited by Mike McPhail
  9. If We Had Known edited by Mike McPhail
  10. Best of Bad-Ass Faeries edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Highlights of the last five years:

  • One title made it to the Bram Stoker Recommended Reading List.
  • Four titles were finalists for awards.
  • Two of those titles won those awards.
  • We have funded twelve successful crowdfunding campaigns (including one that is running right now – Defending the Future: In Harm’s Way.)
  • We have had the honor of publishing Faith Hunter, Jack Campbell, Brenda Cooper, David Sherman, Jody Lynn Nye, Jonathan Maberry, Bud Sparhawk, James Chambers, Jack McDevitt, Robert Greenberger, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Jeff Young, Michelle D. Sonnier, Bernie Mojzes, Aaron Rosenberg, Peter David, John C. Wright, Eric V. Hardenbrook, Christopher M. Hiles, Patrick Thomas, CJ Henderson, Judi Fleming, John L. French, Christopher L. Bennett, Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin, Misty Massey, Mike McPhail, John G. Hartness, RS Belcher, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Misty Massey, James R. Tuck, Robert E. Waters, David Sherman, Tonia Brown, Liz Colter, Scott Hungerford, Frances Rowat, Ken Schrader, Bryan C.P. Steele, Wendy N. Wagner, Christine Norris, Danny Birt, Jean Marie Ward, Elaine Corvidae, David Lee Summers, Kelly A. Harmon, Jonah Knight, Diana Bastine, Brian Koscienski & Chris Pisano, Adam P. Knave, Jesse Harris, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, John Passarella, Jeffrey Lyman,  L. Jagi Lamplighter,  James Daniel Ross, DL Thurston, Lee C. Hillman, NR Brown, John A. Pitts, Jennifer Brozek, Ronald T. Garner, Nancy Jane Moore, Maria V. Snyder, Lawrence M. Schoen, Andy Remic, Charles E. Gannon, John G. Hemry, Ian Randal Strock, Peter Prellwitz, Drew Bittner, Ty Johnson, Torah Contrill, Walt Ciechanowski, Hal Greenberg and Kenneth Shannon III, Erik Scott de Bie, Ed Greenwood, Christopher J. Burke, Jim Knipp, Herika R Raymer, Anton Kukal, Marie Vibbert, CB Droege, David Bartell,  Rie Sheridan Rose, Jean Buie, David M. Hoenig, Jamie Gilman Kress, Jean Rabe, David Boop, Leona Wisoker Robert M. Price, Leona Wisoker, Edward J. McFadden III, Tony Ruggiero, Janine K. Spendlove, Bryan J.L. Glass, James M. Ward, Kathleen David, and Vonnie Winslow Crist
  • We have projects in the works by Robert E. Waters, Christopher L. Bennett, Michelle D. Sonnier, James Chambers, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail.
  • We have anthologies in the works with stories by Gordon Linzner, Lisanne Norman, Dayton Ward, and  Russ Colchamiro.

If you’ve made it all the way to the end here, thank you. It’s a lot of content but we are covering five years 😉 We’ll be making periodic posts throughout the year up to the anniversary. Thanks for joining us on this adventure!

TODAY’S GUEST – BRYAN C.P. STEELE (THE WEIRD WILD WEST)


On The Weird Wild West

by Bryan C.P. Steele

As we draw closer to the release of the Weird Wild West anthology, the team has asked us to give some thought about the project – and perhaps our respective stories involved. Who am I to ignore a request from such great people?

Where to start? Hmmm… so, westerns collectively were always my uncle’s forte and they only speak to me when they are really, really good. The droves and droves of John Wayne flicks and Eastwood forays never did much for me, but then in high school I came across a brilliant example of what westerns could be – Tombstone. Kurt Russel, Val Kilmer, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn… it was the ensemble cast to beat ensemble casts, and it delivered. I saw what my uncle had always been telling me about what westerns could be, and I felt like I understood. There would end up being more examples of good westerns as time moved on, but nothing would ever leave a mark on me like Tombstone.

Even if I didn’t “get” all of the early westerns, their idea of a frontier world filled with danger and uncertainty where people had to work, hunt and sometimes kill to get by. I’m used to sinking my teeth into stories about different untamed wilderness, hostile savages, and survival instincts, which – in a sense – puts the ideals of westerns in dozens of different settings. The first time the idea of the “weird, wild west” was put in front of me, it was in the form of a roleplaying game (my primary industry) called Deadlands. From the undead, steampunk, mad science and magic of Deadlands, everything else mixed liberally into the western backdrop seemed absolutely normal by comparison.

With that in mind, when a writer colleague of mine pointed out the Kickstarter campaign moving forward to create a weird, wild west anthology, I jumped at it. Not only did I back it, but I immediately reached out and discovered that I might be able to throw a few thousand words their way and be part of it, too. So I did.

A week or two of inspirational movie watching and some keyboard time later and Via Con Diablo took shape on my screens. I knew I wanted to have a story with a more supernatural feel rather than aliens or super science, so that’s why I landed where I did. It needed to have a mysterious draw to it, where the reader and the narrator both are a little confused about what is going on, especially considering the story begins with a first hand look at what it might be like to be hanged – old west style.

I don’t want to give too much away about my story (I want you guys to get the book and read it for yourselves!), but I had a lot of fun writing it and I hope the readers have as much fun getting to see where my pro-antagonist’s strange, alien actions take him. He’s a strange one, he is, but when you guys see exactly why… you’ll know why I’m tap dancing around things. I hope you understand, or maybe you’ll just think I’m weird.

Which, I suppose, is the point after all.


TW3-COVER-REVAMPAn excerpt from Via Con Diablo
by Bryan C.P. Steele,
from The Weird Wild West, edited by Misty Massey, Emily Lavin Leverett, and Margaret S. McGraw

“…and may God have mercy on your soul.”

Those were the last words I heard before the floor dropped out from under me, the rope snapped tight, and the world went black. It wasn’t so bad, gettin’ hung, not really anyway. Yeah, there was a bright light, and I reckon it would’ve been nice to head on toward it, but that wasn’t in the cards for me. No, there ain’t no pearly gates for Johnny Hollow. That bright light lasted for a tick, then it was gone. Everything got real dark and real cold, real fast. I felt like I was drowning in ink. The world was black and I was treadin’ darkness.

I went and got myself dead.

Sure, I lived hard. Hard as a ten penny, and I probably earned that rope. My trigger put nails in quite a few men’s coffins, I bought half a dozen horses on stolen dollars, and I left my share of broken hearts around the frontier. My name was spat by every lawman within five days’ ride from Cripple Creek, and my ugly mug was charcoaled on more than a few posters. A lot of folk might say I am…I was…a bad man.

Yeah, I wasn’t goin’ out and gettin’ fit for a bright white hat or a nickel-slick badge, but I did what I had to. What I was good at. Bit of a welch, you know? A carpenter puts up a good house, a barman pours a good glass, a whore gives a good…smile, and an outlaw slings a good pistol. And I was one hell of an outlaw. I was just doin’ what the Lord put me on this Earth to do, and it got me killed.

Anyway, back to that day…or days…or weeks. Who knows how long I was floatin’ in that darkness. I felt nothin’, saw nothin’, heard nothin’. It was like that one old Greek fella once said, or somethin’ like it, I was becomin’ part of that darkness all around me. I was lost in it.

All of a sudden, like Momma’s Good Book said, there was light. Blindin’ light. Imagine that first stab of day hittin’ your lids on a rye whiskey and loose saloon gals hangover. Now turn that feelin’ up a few dozen times and stick hot hatpins in your face at the same time—that’s how this light felt when it blazed on. All around me was hot, bright, and hurtin’. I went from nothin’ to high noon in a flash.

The light was painful, but the voice was worse.

Johnathon


Born in northern Indiana just months after the original Star Wars, Bryan C.P. Steele grew up with a powerful imagination—something that has since fueled nearly two million published words, countless plotlines, game designs and more. He grew up with his nose in comics and roleplaying books, often turning the pages with an action figure or little lead miniature. Never reined by the banality of the world around us, Bryan defined himself through creativity.

Working on award-winning projects with a number of different publishers over the years, he has had input on several fan favorite games such as the Iron Kingdoms, Traveller, Shadowrun and RuneQuest. Bryan has also been fortunate enough to work with such fantastic settings as Conan, Babylon 5, Starship Troopers and Judge Dredd over the years. His work was even featured as a bonus in Lauren Beukes’ amazing Zoo City (English-speaking release).

Bryan is the proud father to his young son Conor and soon-to-be stepdaughter Nori, who will soon be playing some of daddy’s games and reading daddy’s stories. With his beautiful partner in crime, Natalie, at his side, Bryan wants to make the world a more enjoyable place one page turned at a time.



The Weird Wild West
edited by Misty Massey, Emily Lavin Leverett, and Margaret S. McGraw

The untamed frontier is a challenge, a test of character, a proving ground for the soul. It’s a place where pioneers rewrite their future, or end their days…for better or worse. In the spirit of Bret Maverick, Cat Ballou, Kwai Chang Caine, and James West, The Weird Wild West blends western grit with the magical and mysterious unknown that waits beyond the next horizon.

With thrilling stories by Jonathan Maberry, Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin, John Hartness, RS Belcher, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Misty Massey, James R. Tuck, Robert E. Waters, David Sherman, Tonia Brown, Liz Colter, Scott C. Hungerfold, Frances Rowat, Ken Schrader, Bryan C.P. Steele, Wendy N. Wagner, and a bonus story by New York Times bestselling-author Faith Hunter, you’ve hit the Mother Lode!

Now available on Amazon.

NetGalley (available here for review through the end of January): https://s2.netgalley.com/catalog/book/77412

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – BRYAN C.P. STEELE (THE WEIRD WILD WEST)


Bryan C P Steele

eSpec Books interviews Bryan CP Steele, contributor to The Weird Wild West edited by Misty Massey, Emily Lavin Leverett, and Margaret S. McGraw.

eSB: What is your favorite western movie and why?

BCPS: Tombstone. I adore Val Kilmer’s Doc Hollywood, and the chemistry he and Michael Biehn had was legendary. It has one of the best ensemble casts ever, and extremely memorable scriptwriting.

eSB: What does the wild frontier mean to you?

BCPS: An untamed land full of wonder and adventure, similar to a fantasy setting… but with guns, wide-brimmed hats, and tons of dusty trails.

eSB: Who would you say is your Wild West role model and why?

BCPS: Wild Bill Hickock; not only did he earn an amazing job earning his reputation, but he has one of the most epic deaths in Wild West semi-history.

eSB: What is your favorite spec fic/western mash-up?

BCPS: Cowboys vs. Aliens. It was kind of low brow and goofy, but very pretty and filled with interesting ideas.

eSB: What would you say is required reading for fans of Weird Wild West fiction?

BCPS: Our book! No seriously, although it takes place mostly on another planet, Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars has many of the same feelings and fun ideas.

eSB: Can you tell us anything about your story for The Weird Wild West?

BCPS: My story is a different take on the “lone wanderer” or “pale rider” sort of tale. Told from the point of view of a bad man waking to a confusing set of circumstances, the story follows him as he figures out his fate.

eSB: What interested you in working on this project?

BCPS: A fellow writer friend of mine pointed me in its direction, I read the project synopsis, and I was immediately intrigued. I love mixing aliens and demons and magic where they shouldn’t be!

eSB: How do you research to capture that western feel?

BCPS: In this instance I decided to watch a couple of different films to get me in the mood. Tombstone, 3:10 to Yuma, and Fallen. That last one will become more evident as to why when you read the story.

eSB: Have you had any weird western experiences of your own? Please tell us about it.

BCPS: Not especially, but I did think every prairie dog in a huge field near my father’s house were watching me once. I felt they had some kind of prairie dog hive mind.

eSB: Describe your idea of a weird western chuck wagon meal.

BCPS: Grubs of some indeterminate origin, but of immense size, spit roasted over a campfire. “Hey Cookie, cut me off a piece of that slimer!” Yeah, that would work.

eSB: Which Wild West archetype (Gambler, Outlaw, Saloon Girl, School Marm, Railroad Man, Pioneer, Cowboy, Lawman or Indian) would you chose to be and why?

BCPS: Gambler, all the way. I love going to the casino even now, and the idea of getting to play my way across the frontier… oh yeah, that would be the life.

eSB: Have you written/created anything else in a weird western vein? Please tell us about it.

BCPS: Back in the days when I wrote for Privateer Press, I did a lot of fiction in their Iron Kingdoms line. While technically fantasy/steampunk, there were a few settings that could feel weird west a bit.

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

BCPS: Honestly, most of my previous work is in the gaming industry. Look at things like the Conan Roleplaying Game, early Iron Kingdoms stuff, and a lot of sci-fi licenses. Also, I have another short story published in the back of Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City, but that is really heavy sci-fi – no west at all.

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

BCPS: I’ve been focusing a lot on designing board and card games lately, but I keep plugging away on a novel for an existing sci-fi property that I’m not supposed to talk about until they announce it. Rest assured… I’m happy to be part of that team.

eSB: How can readers find out more about you?

BCPS: You can totally follow me on either Facebook or Twitter, www.facebook.com/bryan.c.steele and @seventhcrown respectively. Drop me a message, I’d love to chat!

SOCIAL MEDIA USER IDs

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/bryan.c.steele

Twitter – @seventhcrown     



TW3-COVER-REVAMPThe Weird Wild West
edited by Misty Massey, Emily Lavin Leverett, and Margaret S. McGraw

The untamed frontier is a challenge, a test of character, a proving ground for the soul. It’s a place where pioneers rewrite their future, or end their days…for better or worse. In the spirit of Bret Maverick, Cat Ballou, Kwai Chang Caine, and James West, The Weird Wild West blends western grit with the magical and mysterious unknown that waits beyond the next horizon.

With thrilling stories by Jonathan Maberry, Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin, John Hartness, RS Belcher, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Misty Massey, James R. Tuck, Robert E. Waters, David Sherman, Tonia Brown, Liz Colter, Scott C. Hungerfold, Frances Rowat, Ken Schrader, Bryan C.P. Steele, Wendy N. Wagner, and a bonus story by New York Times bestselling-author Faith Hunter, you’ve hit the Mother Lode!

Now available on Amazon.

NetGalley (available here for review through the end of January): https://s2.netgalley.com/catalog/book/77412

  

NEW RELEASE – THE WEIRD WILD WEST


by Rachel Fernandez

STRATFORD, NJ (December 2015) ― eSpec Books and editors Misty Massey, Emily Lavin Leverett, and Margaret S. McGraw are proud to announce their newest release, The Weird Wild West, a triumphant collection of riveting tales that will instantly transport you to the western battleground of frontier land. This title is available on NetGalley for review through January 31.

The ebook is now available on Amazon and the print book will be available by the end of December.

TW3-COVER-REVAMPThis speculative collection includes a multitude of thrilling stories by both best-selling and award-winning authors such as Jonathan Maberry, Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin, John G. Hartness, R.S. Belcher, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Misty Massey, James R. Tuck, Robert E. Waters, David Sherman, Tonia Brown, Liz Colter, Scott C. Hungerfold, Frances Rowat, Ken Schrader, Bryan C.P. Steele, Wendy N. Wagner, and a bonus story by New York Times bestselling-author, Faith Hunter.

Artist Jason Whitley returns with nine stunning illustrations.

“[In The Weird Wild West] eSpec Books has pulled together a fine collection of tales with just enough weirdness, fandom is bound to enjoy every page.” Ricky L. Brown, Amazing Stories.com

The west is a place where gallant trailblazers either ride off into the sunset or crumble beneath the hardships they face. In the fine tradition of media frontiersmen such as Bret Maverick, Cat Ballou, Kwai Chang Caine, and James West the characters in The Weird Wild West take on the unknown and encounter unconventional challenges that test their strength and character.

UPDATE – THE WEIRD WILD WEST


eSpec Books is proud to share with the Table of Contents for The Weird Wild West (final order yet to be determined)

  • Diana Pharaoh Francis – Grasping Rainbows
  • James Tuck – From Parts Unknown
  • John Hartness – Redemption Song
  • Gail Z. Martin and Larry M. Martin – Ruin Creek
  • Tonia Brown – Frank & Earnest
  • R S Belcher – Rattler
  • Jonathan Maberry – Son of a Gun
  • Robert Waters – Mungo Snead’s Last Stand
  • David Sherman – Rocky Rolls Gold
  • Liz Colter – Sundown
  • Scott C. Hungerford – Fifteen Seconds
  • Frances Rowat – Abishag Mary
  • Ken Schrader – Haven
  • Bryan C. P. Steele – Via Con Diablo
  • Wendy N. Wagner – Blood Tellings
  • Misty Massey – (As Yet Untitled)
  • SUPER SECRET SURPRISE!

Congrats to everyone, this is going to be one hell of a book!

Based on the current progress, the book is scheduled to release sometime in October.

We also have a few surprises up our sleeves…but we are not at liberty to let those cats out of the bag yet!

PROJECT UPDATE – THE WEIRD WILD WEST


I was waiting to share this with you until I had the full Table of Contents to present, but there has been a delay in my receiving that information and I did not want to hold off on this announcement too long.

Congratulations to the following authors who will be fleshing out The Weird Wild West!

Liz Colter – Sundown
Scott C. Hungerford – Fifteen Seconds
Frances Rowat – Abishag Mary
Ken Schrader – HAVEN
Bryan C. P. Steele – Via Con Diablo
Wendy N. Wagner – Blood Tellings

The editors are currently working their magic to polish and put together the manuscript. Once we have the production schedule set I will let everyone know when the book is expected to release.