STATE OF THE ‘SPEC – APOCALYPSE EDITION


Well, folks, like everyone else we are hunkered down and riding out the tidal wave caused by this sh*t storm.

We are working steadily on the books we would have launched at Balticon, normally our biggest convention of the year. It is so surreal…this is the first time in seventeen years we will not be at Balticon, which we consider our home show. It will be the first time in fifteen years we haven’t had our annual launch party there. I can honestly say that one event has become the focal point of my year, prepping the books, making the food. And sadly, this isn’t the only event lost this year. If I had the time, I would be feeling adrift right now. 

Of course, I don’t, as I work in healthcare. But we aren’t going to go there.

I wanted you all to know that life goes on despite the chaos and the uncertainty. Here are some things we’ve already accomplished this year:

We have re-released books 2 and 3 in James Chambers’s Corpse Fauna Series: Tears of Blood and The Dead in Their Masses. The fourth and final book in the series, Eyes of the Dead, is due out in October of this year. Here is a guest post he wrote for Speculative Chic.


We have re-released Megan Mackie’s books Saint Code: The Lost and The Finder of the Lucky Devil. We have one more book to re-release, The Saint of Liars, then we are free to focus on her two new titles, The Devil’s Day and Saint Code: Constable. All of these books take place in an alternate, futuristic Chicago we’ve coined cyber-magical Chicago. If you aren’t familiar with Megan, here is a guest post she wrote for Speculative Chic.)

 


We released Michelle D. Sonnier’s novella, Death’s Embrace, which is a prequel to her debut novel, The Clockwork Witch. (Don’t worry, Michelle is nearly done with the sequel, An Unceasing Hunger.)


Our next re-release is Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn: A Steampunk Faerie Tale, written by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohamed. This is a steampunk retelling of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Here is a guest post that Danielle wrote for Speculative Chic.

Proof-BabaAli

What We Are Working On Now

Despite how everything has gone topsy-turvy, we are still hard at work on some pretty amazing books. 

First and foremost, we have a nearly complete manuscript for David Sherman’s military science fiction novel To Hell and Regroup, the long-awaited conclusion to his 18th Race trilogy, which also includes Issue In Doubt and In All Directions. Due to health concerns, the final volume is being co-written with Keith R.A. DeCandido.

In conjunction with the above release, we are also working on a new novel by Christopher L. Bennett, Arachne’s Crime, the first book in a brand-new duology, to be followed by Arachne’s Exile.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail is hard at work on Build-A-Book Workshop, a new volume in the Literary Handyman series. This book focuses on the elements that go into professional book design, not how to use book-design software or artistically design a book. She is also working on her first science fiction novel: Daire’s Devils.

And finally, editors Danielle Ackley-McPhail and John L. French are currently working on the upcoming anthology Horns and Halos, tales of devils and angels.

Please stay tuned for more information, and possibly check out some of the above links for great fiction from our authors. Given the need for social distancing and sheltering at home, we have put all of our ebooks on sale for only $0.99 for both eSpec Books titles and Paper Phoenix Press titles.

Not sure if our books are for you? You can still help us out! All of these links are Amazon Associate links, so we receive a portion of your sale no matter what you buy, with absolutely no additional cost to you.

Not a fan of Amazon? We have a link for that! You can order copies of all of our books via our eSpec Books Square Store and we will ship direct as long as the post office is active.

NEW RELEASE – BABA ALI AND THE CLOCKWORK DJINN


Well… not quite released yet, but coming real soon! Releasing in April through eSpec Books’ reprint imprint Paper Phoenix Press, Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohamed. There is a pre-order link available, and the book is currently available on audiobook.

Proof-BabaAli

Come, Best Beloved, and sit you by my feet. I shall tell you a tale such as sister Scheherazade could have scarce imagined…

In the Nejd there is nothing at all…except secrets. A band of thieves wishes such secrets to remain hidden.

In England, far from his desert home, Ali bin-Massoud serves as apprentice to the famed Charles Babbage. One night a mysterious box is delivered by a clockwork falcon and Ali’s world is never the same again. Heartache, danger, and thieves mark his journey as Ali is summoned home at the death of his father.

It will take faith, knowledge, and yes, love to realize his destiny, and more than a little skill with steam-driven technology. Can he unravel the mystery of the puzzle box and the clockwork djinn before it is too late? An ancient legacy and Ali’s very life depend on his success.

Hear you the tale of Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn.

“Rich with steampunk, magic, and an enchanting setting, this story casts a spell and won’t let go until the very last page!” —Maria V. Snyder, New York Times Bestselling Author

“Readers of steampunk and Middle Eastern-inspired fantasy alike will adore this lush foray into a world seldom explored by the genre. Buckle up for a wild ride across the deserts of your imagination!” —Tiffany Trent, award-winning author of The Unnaturalists

 “A charming retelling of the famous classic […] Whether you are a fan of Steampunk, of exotic fairytales, or just of good writing, this story should delight.” —L. Jagi Lamplighter, award-winning author

“Beautifully evocative of the fairy tale tradition in parts that the modern, steampunk nature of the tale is completely encapsulated in a wonderful adventure.” —Luke’s Reviews


Kickstarter DMcPhailAward-winning author, editor, and publisher 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 Eternal Wanderings, A Legacy of Stars, Consigned to the Sea, Flash in the Can, Transcendence, Between Darkness and Light, and the non-fiction writers’ guides, The Literary Handyman and The Literary Handyman: Build-A-Book Workshop

She is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Gaslight & Grimm, Side of Good/Side of Evil, After Punk, Footprints in the Stars, In an Iron Cage, as well as many others. Her short stories are included in numerous other anthologies and collections.

In addition to her literary acclaim, she crafts and sells original costume horns under the moniker The Hornie Lady, and homemade flavor-infused candied ginger under the brand of Ginger KICK! at literary conventions, on commission, and wholesale.

Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail and three extremely spoiled cats.

To learn more about her work, visit www.sidhenadaire.com or www.especbooks.com.

DayDay Al-Mohamed is an award-winning filmmaker, author, and disability policy executive. She is a host on Idobi Radio’s Geek Girl Riot (https://idobi.com/show/geek-girl-riot/) with an audience of more than 80,000 listeners, and her most recent novella, The Labyrinth’s Archivist, was published July 2019. Her recent publications are available in Daily Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, and GrayHaven Comics’ anti-bullying issue “You Are Not Alone.”

She is an active member of Women in Film and Video and a graduate of the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop.  Her most recent film is screening both nationally and internationally: The Invalid Corps (https://invalidcorpsfilm.com). However, she is most proud of being invited to teach a workshop on storytelling at the White House in February 2016.

Day is a disability policy executive with more than fifteen years of experience in both the public and private sector. She is currently a Senior Policy Advisor with the Federal government. She has also worked as a lobbyist and political analyst. For more information on work in disability policy, please check out: www.DayinWashington.com.

Day presents often on the representation of disability in media, most recently at the American Bar Association, SXSW, and New York ComiCon. A proud member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, she lives in Washington DC with her wife, N.R. Brown and guide dog, Gamma. She can be found online at www.DayAlMohamed.com and @DayAlMohamed.

COVER REVEAL – BABA ALI AND THE CLOCKWORK DJINN


Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn 6X9
The Clockwork Djinn (c) Danielle McPhail, McP Digital Graphics

Come, Best Beloved, and sit you by my feet. I shall tell you a tale such as sister Scheherazade could have scarce imagined…

 In the Nejd there is nothing at all…except secrets. A band of thieves wishes such secrets to remain hidden.

In England, far from his desert home, Ali bin-Massoud serves as apprentice to the famed Charles Babbage. One night, a mysterious box is delivered by a clockwork falcon and Ali’s world is never the same again. Heartache, danger, and thieves mark his journey as Ali is summoned home at the death of his father.

It will take faith, knowledge, and yes, love to realize his destiny, and more than a little skill with steam-driven technology. Can he unravel the mystery of the puzzle box and the clockwork djinn before it is too late? An ancient legacy and Ali’s very life depend on his success.

Hear you the tale of Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn…


“Rich with steampunk, magic, and an enchanting setting, this story casts a spell and won’t let go until the very last page!” —Maria V. Snyder, New York Times Bestselling Author

“Readers of steampunk and Middle Eastern-inspired fantasy alike will adore this lush foray into a world seldom explored by the genre. Buckle up for a wild ride across the deserts of your imagination!” —Tiffany Trent, award-winning author of The Unnaturalists

 “A charming retelling of the famous classic […] Whether you are a fan of Steampunk, of exotic fairytales, or just of good writing, this story should delight.” —L. Jagi Lamplighter, award-winning author

“Beautifully evocative of the fairy tale tradition in parts that the modern, steampunk nature of the tale is completely encapsulated in a wonderful adventure.” —Luke’s Reviews


Kickstarter DMcPhailAward-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 (www.especbooks.com).

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 Eternal Wanderings, A Legacy of Stars, Consigned to the Sea, Flash in the Can, Transcendence, Between Darkness and Light, and the non-fiction writers’ guide, The Literary Handyman, and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Gaslight & Grimm, Side of Good/Side of Evil, After Punk, and Footprints in the Stars. Her short stories are included in numerous other anthologies and collections.

In addition to her literary acclaim, she crafts and sells original costume horns under the moniker The Hornie Lady Custom Costume Horns, and homemade flavor-infused candied ginger under the brand of Ginger KICK! at literary conventions, on commission, and wholesale.

Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail and two extremely spoiled cats.

Day

Day Al-Mohamed is an author, filmmaker, and disability policy executive. She is co-author of the Young Adult novel, Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, is a host on Idobi Radio’s Geek Girl Riot with an audience of more than 80,000 listeners, and her most recent novella, The Labyrinth’s Archivist, was published July 2019 by Falstaff Books. Her recent publications are available in Daily Science Fiction, Apex, Crossed Genres anthology “Oomph – A Little Super Goes a Long Way,” and GrayHaven Comics’ anti-bullying issue “You Are Not Alone.”  

Her current documentary, “The Invalid Corps” is on the festival circuit. 

She is an active member of Women in Film and Video and a graduate of the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop.  However, she is most proud of being invited to teach a workshop on storytelling at the White House in February 2016.

Day is a disability policy executive with more than fifteen years of experience. She is currently a Senior Policy Advisor with the Federal government. She has also worked as a lobbyist and political analyst on issues relating to Health, Education, Employment, Technology, and International Development. For more information on work in disability policy, please check out: http://www.DayinWashington.com.

                 Day presents often on the representation of disability in media, most recently at the American Bar Association, SXSW, and New York ComiCon. A proud member of Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 24-01 (5th District Southern Region), she lives in Washington DC with her wife, N.R. Brown and guide dog, Gamma. She can be found online at http://www.DayAlMohamed.com and @DayAlMohamed.

OCTOBER EVENTS


small_dodo_transparentThe next round of conventions is about to hit. Myself, Mike McPhail, and Christine Norris will be at the Collingswood Book Festival in Collingswood, NJ this Saturday. But our next convention is Capclave in Rockville, MD on October 18-20. An intimate comfortable show where the focus is reading, literature, and the business of publishing.

eSpec, of course, will have a presence in the dealer’s room, as well as on programming.


Our attending authors are:

You can access their schedules by clicking on the above links and then clicking on the link next to their bio on the Capclave site. Please be sure to come by and say hi if you are there. It is the perfect time to get your books signed or to ask us your questions. There is a Meet the Pros event scheduled, and, as the convention is rather informal, most of us tend to hang out and chat in the public spaces in between responsibilities.

For those not attending Capclave, Misty Massey will be at  The Palmetto Pirate Festival in Moncks Corner, SC on October 12 and at MultiverseCon in Atlanta, Georgia October 18-20, along with John Hartness!

If you are at any of those shows, please come be social!

Best,

Danielle

GUEST BLOG – DAY AL-MOHAMED


I’m grateful to Dani letting me indulge a little and share with you some of my favorite “Book Secrets.” Think of them as the “Extras” on the DVD. 🙂  

One of the most fun things about steampunk novels are the airships, right? So of course, Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn HAD to have an airship. But I didn’t want this to be something “just made up” so was determined that our “Thaddeus Lowe” would be designed off of a REAL airship. But which one? The Hindenburg was the largest, the British R101 was the most luxurious, but the one that I fell in love with, that the whole world at the time fell in love with, was the Graf Zeppelin.

Graf Zeppelin over Jerusalem

 I owe a lot of thanks to airships.net. I cannot say enough about this great resource that introduces airships in all their beauty and complexity in a way that lets you really understand the impact they had on the world. The site was the first place I read about the Graf Zeppelin and fell in love with her. To quote their website:

The most successful zeppelin ever built, LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin flew more than a million miles on 590 flights, carrying over 34,000 passengers without a single injury.

During its nine-year career, Graf Zeppelin made the first commercial passenger flight across the Atlantic, the first commercial passenger flight around the world, flew a scientific mission over the North Pole, made the first regularly scheduled transatlantic passenger crossings by air, and aroused intense public enthusiasm around the globe.

Graf Zeppelin over Pyramids

 Even today, there is significant interest in this specific zeppelin.  There are so many photos of her trips. In fact, I’m willing to bet, 90% of the iconic airship photos you’ve ever seen have all been the Graf Zeppelin: Over the North Pole, with the pyramids in Egypt, by the mountain ranges in Japan, celebrated in New York City…

With the increasing use of airplanes, the Graf Zeppelin was retired and set up as a museum. Sadly, with the advent of World War II, on March 4, 1940, Hermann Goring, Germany’s Air Minister ordered her melted down for parts to feed the German military machine.

Graf Zeppelin Sleeping Quarters (Poor Ali got stuck with the top bunk)

 In addition to images of her exterior, there were shots (and video) of her interior, which a goldmine of information. So yes, our descriptions in the book will mirror very closely some of these photos.

Graf Zeppelin Dining Quarters

 A friend accused me of having a bit of a crush on the Graf Zeppelin and I can’t say that he’s wrong. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a few more “Book Secrets” and letting you inside the workings of the text. It’ll be fun! Let us know what you think in the comments.

I hope you enjoy this Update. If so, please feel free to Share it and our Kickstarter with friends, family, groups, and communities who might be interested. Spreading the word is what makes the difference.

http://kck.st/31N0rSQ

Best,

Day Al-Mohamed

eSPEC EXCERPTS – BABA ALI AND THE CLOCKWORK DJINN


Our campaign is one week in and nearly 300% funded. I can’t tell you how excited Day and I are to bring this book back to the fans. It has always been one of our most popular titles as authors. With three weeks to go, we are hoping we might add illustrations this time around as the book just cries out for visuals to go with the rich language and fairytale esthetic. Currently, we are just $190 away from adding our first two illustrations. For those not familiar with the book, we thought it would be nice to share an excerpt. We hope you enjoy. And if you are curious about the campaign for Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, please do click the link. If you are particularly moved, please consider sharing this excerpt or the link with the world. We would be quite grateful for the boost.  


BabaAliandtheClockworkDjinn
The cover of the previous edition, artwork by Autumn Frederickson

An Excerpt from Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohamed

The moon lit his way as he scurried down to the oasis. His first instinct was to fill his goatskin and flee back toward Wadi Al-Nejd before the night grew any older, but as he knelt beside the pool, he could not control his gaze. At first, it merely darted toward the dune and back again. His eyes locked upon the slope a while longer, his mind furiously working on the puzzle of how the dune hid a cavern. He longed to go in, to explore. To know for once and certain that this was the place he sought.

The next he knew, Ali stood where the lead thief’s footprints still shaped the sands, between the rock outcropping and the arta bush with the twisted trunk, his hand toying with one of the robust red blossoms from the branch in his hands as his teeth worried his lower lip.

He should not do it. Allah knew he should not do it.

“Open, Sesame.”

The words were but a whisper across his lips, barely spoken before the sands again separated to reveal the rock outcrop. His eyes widened as next the stone facing slowly slid beneath the desert. Ali forgot once more to breathe. He had not believed it would work. He had been sure the sun had baked his brain. But there it was: the secret cavern, spilling its steady light upon the oasis.

The blossom snapped off in Ali’s tightened grip. He barely noticed as he crept into the cave. As he passed the entrance he noted two divots in the chamber floor that mirrored where he’d stood outside. Ali stopped and turned toward the oasis. It would be best to not betray his presence. “Close, Sesame,” he murmured, recalling the leader’s words; hoping they would work from the inside.

And the earth swallowed Ali whole.

His first impulse was to pound upon the rock, to order it open once more. Instead, he turned and allowed his gaze to sweep the cavern. He could see no sign of the guardians his father’s letter had warned about. Perhaps they had been released by his grandfather’s passing, for they were not here. Still, Ali’s hand crept down to rest upon his satchel, which contained the puzzle box, the travel diary, and his father’s letter. Reassured, he took in the wonders of the cave. The first thing he noticed was the camelids standing in ranks against the far wall, their curved brass flanks dully gleaming. He gasped as he realized these were the ‘ships of the desert’ mentioned in his grandfather’s diary. The ache to explore their inner workings was so strong it was almost physical.

Knowing he could not, Ali dragged his gaze away to examine the rest of the treasures. What he saw dazzled his eyes. Without a doubt, this was Nader Shah’s treasure. A jewel-encrusted platform stood in the center of the cavern. Twelve pillars—each capped by two peacocks with fanned tails—supported a canopy, the underside of which was covered in rubies and diamonds, emerald and pearls. The whole of it rested on four gold feet. Ali shivered in awe at that splendor alone. He had heard of the fabled Peacock Throne, but it had not occurred to him that it would be the centerpiece of his family’s sacred charge. Closest to the platform rested elegant urns filled with chalices and golden platters, some plain, others likewise encrusted with gems. Stacked around these were chests made of precious metals and rare wood. Ali marveled at the finely carved cinnabar and ivory that filled them. Part of him had scarcely believed he would find the treasure of Nader Shah hidden in the heart of the Rub-Al Khali. It was evident that part of him had been wrong.

On the fringes of the shah’s treasure, the thieves had piled canvas sacks and ceramic jars brimming with more pedestrian blessings: common-day coins and costly spices, aromatic perfumes and sparkling jewels, bolts of silk and casks of fine tea. There, shoved to the sides, blanketed in dust, he spied bundles of glass, copper, and brass piping that set his artificer’s heart tripping. The things Ali could make with such supplies! He closed his eyes and turned from the sight, lest avarice take root in his soul. If he was meant for such wealth, Allah would provide.

In the corner beyond the camelids, Ali noticed a workbench the likes of which he’d only seen in his dreams. This, more than even the shah’s treasure let him know that he had found the secret place his father had been searching for.

Charcoal sketches similar to those in Al-Jazari’s book were pinned to a board that leaned against the cavern wall, their black marks softened by a thick layer of dust. Half-finished inventions resembling sketches from his grandfather’s diary gathered dust on the work surface. He sighed, knowing he dare touch nothing, lest he betray himself in some way to the thieves.

His fingers hovered above delicate tools and sturdy spanners his meager coin could never afford. Even these were coated in fine dust and sand, as if long without use, though surely the camelids required maintenance. Glancing more closely, Ali could discern initials engraved on the handles. Were these his grandfather’s tools? They looked to have been well-used at one time, but obviously, that time was long past.

With all his heart, he vowed to reclaim his family’s legacy.

Beside the workbench stood a vat of oil and two barrels, one filled with copper gears, the other black tar for fuel. Beyond that, in the shadows, someone had piled a junk heap of scrap metal and defunct parts next to which stood one of the camelids, its body darkened by smoke residue along one side and the torso open on its hinges. He peered within and noticed a bent cog had twisted one of the shafts. A simple enough thing to fix, and yet it was clear by the coating of dust on the camelid’s back that the thieves had neither interest nor skill for such things. Ali resisted the urge to make the repair himself, instead examining the mechanism with a careful eye. Even damaged, the inner workings of the construct enthralled him. The design was similar to some he had seen at Ustad Babbage’s side, but this was more elegant; as much art as engineering. Inside, a compact copper boiler connected to narrow pipes that led from the tank to an intricate assembly of gears, rods, and pistons, two to each side, corresponding to where the legs attached. Another rose through the aperture where the construct’s neck connected to the body. He could not identify what directed the locomotion, but what he did see gave him some understanding of how the smooth, league-spanning stride of the camelid’s walk was achieved. Ali avidly studied the design, storing the knowledge for future use…assuming he ever had enough coin to do more than dream of crafting such complex engineering. Since Kassim had ordered Ali’s return to Wadi Al-Nejd, there had been little opportunity—or coin—for true invention, only the tinkering that supplemented his dwindling reserve. Sighing, he turned away from the workbench, lest he be tempted to touch.

Oh, what Ali would give to linger in this place for the rest of his days, creating magnificent constructs. But no, he had already lingered too long. Even now, his shoulders tightened and he caught himself darting glances around the room.

It was as if eyes were upon him, causing the skin across his back to crawl. Ali turned to examine the cavern in its entirety, rather than just the riches it held. He spied no one, but for the first time, he took note of the cave itself, marveling at the workmanship. This was no natural cavern but had been crafted by human hands. He could almost make out tool marks, likely from some rock-boring construct. The walls were only partially visible for the lattice of steam pipes crisscrossing overhead and down to the floor. Most of them were copper, but intermixed were glass tubes emitting a soft yellow light from no source Ali understood. Those pipes framing the entrance to the cavern were all glass, thick and gleaming, with brass fittings. To either side of them, Ali saw a complex assembly of great-toothed gears in a variety of sizes, interlocked and showing signs of wear. They appeared to operate a pulley system as a massive metallic cable ran up to the ceiling and down into the ground. He recognized elements of the design from The Book of Knowledge. He would have examined these workings more closely as well, only a sudden movement distracted him.

Inside those pipes by the entrance swirled lavender mist too delicate to be mistaken for steam. For a brief instant, Ali would have sworn there was a flutter, as of eyes blinking. Surely he was mistaken…and yet, the sensation of being watched increased.

Trying to ignore it, Ali continued wandering. Repeatedly, he had to remind himself not to touch each new thing he discovered. He told himself he was blessed just to be here in the secret place his grandfather had created and his father had long sought; it was enough to feel surrounded by their spirits, to see such glorious things, to smell the fragrance of the spices and costly perfumes that sweetened the chamber. Almost, Ali believed the lie. Thinking of the thieves, he fought the urge to lash out. This was his family’s responsibility, his family’s charge, his family’s treasure to guard. That last bore remembering. These riches were not his and never would be, but he could not help but wish just once to hold such wealth in his hands, to know, however briefly, what it felt like to be a rich man. No. No good could come of such thoughts.

Ali sighed. The sound echoed in the chamber until he nearly overlooked the softer sigh that followed his own. And then the light brightened and Ali stiffened as a woman’s voice filled the cavern.

“What have you in your hand, Child of Adam?” The voice was like the crackle of a fire, darker notes beneath the light.

Ali spun. He saw no one.

“What have you in your hand?” the voice repeated. Sweeter than a nightingale, the surging power in that voice sent Ali to his knees, fervent supplication to Allah on his lips, though he had no breath to utter them. His gaze fell upon the glass pipes by the entrance where the roiling mist had taken on a darker, violet hue.

“Tell me!” All sweetness and light fled both the woman’s voice and the chamber.

Ali thought desperately. He did not pick up anything. He purposely had not touched even one piece of treasure. No, not even the bent cog. In the darkness, he focused, startled to realize he did, in fact, cup something in his right hand. Slowly, he reached over with his left and ran his fingers across the sturdy anthers of the arta blossom he had plucked from the bush outside the cavern.

He tried to speak and it was as if the desert itself once more filled his throat.

The darkness took on more weight at his continued silence, but the voice did not speak again. Ali frantically coughed and cleared his throat.

“A flower…” His voice sounded harsh and grating to his ear.

A gasp answered him. The longing in that single sound tightened his chest. Light once more flooded the chamber. Before him, the mist swirled in agitation. Following instinct, Ali crept forward, still on his knees, and laid the flower beside the pipes, the small anthers only slightly bent for having been clutched in his hand.

When he looked up, a woman formed out of the swirling mist; perfect in all proportions, but no larger than a ferret, her body cloaked in smoky robes. The glass tube held a djinni. Her solid black gaze locked on the blossom. Here, at last, one of the guardians of which his father wrote, though Ali wondered how well she could guard from within her encasement.

“He planted them for me,” she whispered. “My master planted them for me. It has been so long since I have seen evidence of his gift. Not since his passage into Death’s Garden.”

FROM THE PUBLISHER – BABA ALI AND THE CLOCKWORK DJINN


 

We’re at it again. In the next day or so we will be launching a campaign to fund Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, a unique retelling of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, written by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohamed. Previously published by Dark Quest Books, the title has been out of print for a number of years, but interest has never seemed to wain. We plan to re-issue the novel under our Paper Phoenix Press imprint. Below is the cover from the previous edition. Sadly, we can’t afford the artist’s price to reuse it, though it was custom art for this book. However, we’re sharing it here because it is lovely and we don’t have anything to replace it with yet (thus the need for funding 😉

We are hoping to raise enough money not only for new custom art but also interior illustrations, which we weren’t able to include the first time around. If we do real well we will also fund a new novella by Michelle D. Sonnier set in the same universe as her novel, The Clockwork Witch… If we do crazy well beyond our wildest imagination we may just do a limited edition numbered hardcover edition…heck…maybe even a handful in full color! Why not? If the funds are there we are more than glad to reach for the moon! Can you help us get there? The campaign isn’t live yet, but please feel free to share the link in this post with your friends if you think they might be interested in Middle Eastern Steampunk or Faerie Tale retellings with a mechanical flare. Once the project goes live, this link will redirect to the active campaign page.

BabaAliandtheClockworkDjinn
The cover for the previous edition, art by Autumn Frederickson.

Come, Best Beloved, and sit you by my feet. I shall tell you a tale such as sister Scheherazade could have scarce imagined…

 In the Nejd there is nothing at all…except secrets. A band of thieves wishes such secrets to remain hidden.

In England, far from his desert home, Ali bin-Massoud serves as apprentice to the famed Charles Babbage. One night a mysterious box is delivered by a clockwork falcon and Ali’s world is never the same again. Heartache, danger, and thieves mark his journey as Ali is summoned home at the death of his father.

It will take faith, knowledge, and yes, love to realize his destiny, and more than a little skill with steam-driven technology. Can he unravel the mystery of the puzzle box and the clockwork djinn before it is too late? An ancient legacy and Ali’s very life depend on his success.

Hear you the tale of Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn.


Praise for Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn

“Rich with steampunk, magic, and an enchanting setting, this story casts a spell and won’t let go until the very last page!” —Maria V. Snyder, New York Times Bestselling Author

“Readers of steampunk and Middle Eastern-inspired fantasy alike will adore this lush foray into a world seldom explored by the genre. Buckle up for a wild ride across the deserts of your imagination!” —Tiffany Trent, award-winning author of The Unnaturalists

 “A charming retelling of the famous classic […] Whether you are a fan of Steampunk, of exotic fairytales, or just of good writing, this story should delight.” —L. Jagi Lamplighter, award-winning author

“Beautifully evocative of the fairy tale tradition in parts that the modern, steampunk nature of the tale is completely encapsulated in a wonderful adventure.” —Luke’s Reviews


Kickstarter DMcPhail

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 (www.especbooks.com).

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 Eternal Wanderings, A Legacy of Stars, Consigned to the Sea, Flash in the Can, Transcendence, Between Darkness and Light, and the non-fiction writers’ guide, The Literary Handyman, and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Gaslight & Grimm, Side of Good/Side of Evil, After Punk, and Footprints in the Stars. Her short stories are included in numerous other anthologies and collections.

In addition to her literary acclaim, she crafts and sells original costume horns under the moniker The Hornie Lady Custom Costume Horns, and homemade flavor-infused candied ginger under the brand of Ginger KICK! at literary conventions, on commission, and wholesale.

Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, and three extremely spoiled cats.

To learn more about her work, visit www.sidhenadaire.com or www.especbooks. 

Day

Day Al-Mohamed is an author, filmmaker, and disability policy executive. She is co-author of the Young Adult novel, Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, is a host on Idobi Radio’s Geek Girl Riot with an audience of more than 80,000 listeners, and her most recent novella, , was published July 2019 by Falstaff Books. Her recent publications are available in Daily Science Fiction, Apex, Crossed Genres anthology “Oomph – A Little Super Goes a Long Way,” and GrayHaven Comics’ anti-bullying issue “You Are Not Alone.”  

Her current documentary, “The Invalid Corps” is on the festival circuit. 

She is an active member of Women in Film and Video and a graduate of the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop.  However, she is most proud of being invited to teach a workshop on storytelling at the White House in February 2016.

Day is a disability policy executive with more than fifteen years of experience. She is currently a Senior Policy Advisor with the Federal government. She has also worked as a lobbyist and political analyst on issues relating to Health, Education, Employment, Technology, and International Development. For more information on work in disability policy, please check out: http://www.DayinWashington.com.

Day presents often on the representation of disability in media, most recently at the American Bar Association, SXSW, and New York ComiCon. A proud member of Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 24-01 (5th District Southern Region), she lives in Washington DC with her wife, N.R. Brown and guide dog, Gamma. She can be found online at http://www.DayAlMohamed.com and @DayAlMohamed.

michelle d. sonnierMichelle D. Sonnier is a fiction writer with a specialty in mythic fiction, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, and classic horror. She delights in giving a giggle and a shiver. Her debut novel, The Clockwork Witchreleased through eSpec Books in 2018. Look for upcoming projects from Sam’s Dot Publications and Otter Libris.