It has been a while since I have done one of these so the span is more like a month in reviews, rather than just a week. We are very pleased to share with you the accolades some of our titles have recently received. Congrats to the authors for this recognition of their hard work.



“Intriguing magic, gender politics, and historical detail weave together in this coming-of-age fantasy debut […] Readers will especially enjoy Sonnier’s inventive worldbuilding.
Publisher’s Weekly







“All the familiar and fun elements of the previous book are there […] Unicorn Precinct was enjoyable.”
SF Reader






“…DeCandido has presented is a police procedural set in a standard Dungeons & Dragons world. And I’m OK with that. […] A pleasant way to spend a few hours with characters that come to life in a world you can easily lose yourself in.” –SF Reader







“A fascinating premise, one that plays teasing meta-games with the whole notion of fiction and story. […]There’s certainly something here for everyone.” –Don Sakers, Analog (The Reference Library, May/June 2018)





“These stories tackle the emotional minefields that await military personnel in the reaches of space. If you like David Drake, Joe Haldeman, or Jack Campbell, you’re bound to like this anthology.” –Don Sakers, Analog (The Reference Library, May/June 2018)


“Danielle teaches a great path for any stage of writer.” -JAnn Bowers, Goodreads

“The conversational tone is appealing and accessible. This book is worth reading as a very broad overview of the writing and publishing process.” -Darcysmom, Goodreads

The Literary Handyman by Danielle Ackely-McPhail is filled with great advises for aspiring writers. The book is structured in small articles and very easy to read.”
– Guy Lou, Goodreads

“Much of the information included in this volume might be a bit basic for more accomplished or connected authors, but I think this could be a handy reference guide for just about anyone — sometimes it’s easy to forget the basics when you’re stuck in a rut.” – Jane, Goodreads



“All in all, an enjoyable collection of steampunk tales.” – David Lee Summers, Goodreads






eSpec Books interviews David Lee Summers, contributor to After Punk: Steampowered Tales of the Afterlife, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Greg Schauer, funding now on Kickstarter.

eSB: What can you tell us about the story you have written (or plan to write) for After Punk?

DLS: My story is about a spiritualist who is invited to a mummy unwrapping party. When she arrives, she finds the place is swarming with scientists, some of whom have called her a fraud. She soon begins to thinks they may be playing her for a fool, but it turns out the party’s host has an experiment in mind and she’s a key element.

The story was inspired by panels I’ve done with magician Dyno Staats at a few different steampunk conventions. Ostensibly we’d talk about how Victorian science was incorporated into magic shows of the period, but no topic related to science and the mysterious was off limits. Mummy unwrapping parties and séances often found their way into our discussions.

eSB: Why did you choose that particular aspect of the afterlife to ‘punk up? How did it lend itself to the theme?

DLS: Mummy unwrapping parties were, strangely and sadly, a thing during the Victorian period. Strange because it involved inviting people over to your house to unwrap an ancient, dead body. Sad because of the total disregard it represented for another culture. Of course the whole point of Egyptian mummification was to send the dead to the afterlife with body and soul. Mummies are so lifelike, I can see where it would be tempting to think one could wake them and talk to the dead.

There’s also an aspect of the story that has to do with hauntings and ghosts, as one might infer from having a spiritualist character. Although I’m a skeptic where ghosts are concerned, I have seen and experienced things that I can’t easily explain and I wanted to bring some of that mystery to this story. Of course, spiritualists and séances were a big part of the Victorian era.

eSB: Does you story introduce new characters, or are they old friends you revisit often…to torment mercilessly?

DLS: My story introduces new characters. However, I have to admit, that prim and tormented spiritualist Dinella Stanton and showman-like chemist Augustus Harriman grew on me in their short tale and they may well have to appear again. Harriman especially has a kind of arrogance that deserves further torment.

eSB: What traditions or beliefs were you raised on regarding death or the afterlife? Did that influence your story at all?

DLS: I was raised in an evangelical Christian household with an idea that faithful Christians would have everlasting life in a paradise. To be honest, that idea didn’t much influence my story. A bigger influence from my upbringing was visiting the Tutankhamen exhibit that toured the United States when I was in elementary school. It engendered a fascination with Ancient Egyptian culture and funerary practices.

eSB: Describe your ideal vision of the afterlife.

DLS: In addition to being a writer, I’m a professional astronomer and I’m confronted by the sheer enormity of the universe on a day-to-day basis. My ideal vision of the afterlife would be to come into the presence of the mind that set all that in motion. I’d also hope that I could somehow use an eternal, spiritual existence to explore the vast multiverse in some form.

eSB: How would you ‘punk the grim reaper?

DLS: Forget the scythe, I’d give that boy a steam-powered combine harvester. His wardrobe is also a bit medieval. Maybe ditch the robes and give him a black tuxedo and top hat combination with a red waistcoat.

eSB: The coffin or the pyre, which one for you and why?

DLS: I always liked the fate Captain Kirk had planned for Spock at the end of The Wrath of Khan, launched into the atmosphere of a planet to go out as a shooting star.  Barring that, I lean toward the pyre. Once I’m done with my body, I don’t need it anymore. It seems the easiest way to deal with what’s left behind.

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

DLS: Readers can look for my horror novel set at an astronomical observatory called The Astronomer’s Crypt. My Clockwork Legion steampunk novels are Owl Dance, Lightning Wolves, The Brazen Shark, and Owl Riders. I’m one of the editors of Maximum Velocity: The Best of the Full-Throttle Space Tales which features a story by eSpec’s own Danielle Ackley-McPhail.

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

DLS: My fourth Clockwork Legion steampunk novel, Owl Riders, is due out this spring. I also have a spooky story about electricity rousing the dead in the anthology DeadSteam coming out this October from Grim and Grimmer Books.  My ghost story “Evicted from Heaven” will appear in the anthology Hotel Haunted coming from Wolfsinger Publishing later this year.

eSB: How can readers find out more about you? 

DLS: The easiest way for readers to learn more about me is to visit my website at and read my blog at


David Lee Summers is the author of eleven novels and numerous short stories and poems. His most recent novels are the global steampunk adventure, Owl Riders, and a horror novel set an astronomical observatory, The Astronomer’s Crypt. His short stories have appeared in such magazines and anthologies as Cemetery Dance, Realms of Fantasy, Straight Outta Tombstone, and Gaslight & Grimm. He’s one of the editors of Maximum Velocity: The Best of the Full-Throttle Space Tales from WordFire Press. He’s been nominated for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Rhysling and Dwarf Stars Awards. When he’s not writing, David operates telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Find David on the web at


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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.



eSpec Books interviews Greg Schauer, editor of The Awakened Modern, with Hal Greenberg, now funding on Kickstarter.

eSB: What challenges did you find editing stories for a pre-existing shared universe?

GS: For me, hardest thing about playing in someone else’s world is making sure everything meshes with, in this case, Hal’s vision. We have brought together some very talented people to play in his world. This being a modified version of our world means that the things we take for granted in our modern need to stay consistent story to story.   .

eSB: Can you tell us a little bit about your favorite story or stories from the book and why?

GS: My favorite stories involve the human/animal bonds that form after the second moon appears in the sky.

eSB: Sunrise or stargazing?

GS: Definitely Stargazing

eSB: What other projects have you worked on previously?

GS: Stories in Between from Fantasist Enterprises a collection celebrating the 30th anniversary of my bookstore, Between Books, With Great Power from Dark Quest, The Society for the Preservation of C.J. Henderson, The Side of Good/ The Side of Evil from eSpec Books, Arden House by Rob Bryan

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

GS: Most of my time is spent working on projects for eSpec, mostly as a copy editor. There a few things of my own in process but none are close to being finished.

Greg Schauer has been a bookseller for over 33 years as the owner of Between Books in Claymont Delaware. He has also helped produce concerts by local and national bands at the Arden Gild Hall in Arden Delaware, one of the country’s oldest continuously run secular utopian art colonies, for the past 10 years. He has previously worked on Stories in Between: the Between Books 30th anniversary anthology with W.H. Horner and Jeanne Benzel, Steampowered Tales of Awesomeness Vol 1 by Brian Thomas and Ray Witte, With Great Power with John L. French, and The Society for the Preservation of CJ Henderson with Danielle Ackley-McPhail. He can be contacted at


Facebook –Greg Schauer, Between Books


eSpec Books interviews Ed Greenwood, contributor to The Awakened Modern, edited by Hal Greenberg and Greg Schauer, which is currently funding on Kickstarter.

eSB: What kind of challenges did you find writing for this series?

EG: Cutting back on my natural urges to write madly off in all directions, detailing lots of territory and writing about the intertwined lives and subplots of a huge cast of characters. I cut down to a single focus, and had fun that way, instead.  

eSB: What interested you in writing for this series?

EG: Hal Greenberg asked me to, I thought the central idea was fun, and I liked my co-contributors…and have liked them more with each GenCon breakfast with them I’ve managed to attend. It’s been a blast so far!

eSB: If you could have a special power or familiar, what would it be and why?

EG: I would want the special power of being able to stop time (with objects frozen in mid-fall, cars and people in mid-rush, and so on) so I could improve my failing-with-age powers of doing sixteen things at once. Without dropping anything.

eSB: Sunrise or stargazing?

EG: Both. As a writer and late-night reader, I see the stars often. And as a husband with a day job and a wife to care for, I see the sunrise all too often!

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

EG: As a young boy, I created the Forgotten Realms fantasy setting, later adopted as the “world” of the Dungeons & Dragons game, and have published over 20 Realms novels. I’ve also written five Aglirta novels about The Band of Four, a Falconfar trilogy, a Niflheim duology, a steampunk novel entitled The Iron Assassin, and many more; I’ve written, co-written, or contributed to over 300 books thus far. Yes, my house is groaningly crammed full of books. And I’m taking it easy, these days: I’m writing only a novel a month.


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

EG: I’ve started a new transmedia publishing venture, The Ed Greenwood Group, for creatives interested in working in new genre settings I’m creating, such as Hellmaw (daemons lurking among us on Earth, who consider us food; dark urban fantasy); Stormtalons (a medieval-cum Renaissance world in which a tyrant archwizard tries to control other wizards, and is defied by priests of the Six gods, as magical mists, the Stormtalons, ravage the world, and the mighty Sleeping Dragons stir; high fantasy), and almost 30 other settings.

eSB: How can readers find out more about you? 

EG: On the web, drop in on (where I blog at “The EdVerse”) or, or find me on Facebook (I’m, yes, Ed Greenwood) and on Twitter at @TheEdVerse

Ed Greenwood is a New York Times-bestselling Canadian writer, game designer, and librarian best known for creating The Forgotten Realms® fantasy world fifty years ago. His 350-plus books have sold millions of copies worldwide in more than three dozen languages. Ed was elected to the Academy of Adventure Gaming Art & Design Hall of Fame in 2003, and has won multiple ENNIE and Origins and other awards. Through The Ed Greenwood Group, he now helms many shared storytelling worlds he’s created; they can be found at


Our next campaign is about to launch:  

eSpec Books is working in conjunction with The Awakened editor and game designer Hal Greenberg to bring you the first-ever incursion of The Awakened phenomenon in the modern world.  

The sudden appearance of a second moon in Earth’s sky awakens latent abilities in humanity…a link to a familiar, control of the elements, and so much more becomes possible as the second moon takes effect. What impact will this sudden change have on society? Only time will tell.  


  • Wolves Run by Night by Ed Greenwood  
  • Little Sisters of the Hourglass by James Chambers  
  • Cold Snap by Ty Johnston  
  • Return of the Devis by Torah Cotrill  
  • Silverback by Hal Greenberg and Ken Shannon  
  • Whiteout by Erik Scott de Bie  
  • Details in Death by Jennifer Brozek  
  • Song of Tyrta by Drew Bittner  
  • Fire and Brimstone by Walt Ciechanowski  

If you would like to check it out, the URL is  





Hard to believe that Philcon is already coming up. eSpec Books will have a table in the dealer’s room, for those who need to bring their library up to date. We will also be holding a launch party Saturday from 7pm to 9pm in the Con Suite (823). Hope to see you there! Below is our full schedule.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail
Sat 7:00PM in Executive Suite 823 – The eSpec Books Launch Party, Hour 1
Sat 8:00PM in Executive Suite 823 – The eSpec Books Launch Party, Hour 2

Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail (mod), Mike McPhail, Jeff Young, Robert E. Waters, James Chambers, Eric Hardenbrook, Lawrence M. Schoen

eSpec Books launches their new titles, The Best of Defending the Future, edited by Mike McPhail and Danielle Ackley-McPhail, POST by Brenda Cooper, and In the Lamplight, by L. Jagi Lamplighter. Join the authors and editors for food, fun, and prizes

Sun 11:00AM in Plaza III (Three) – Marketing Multi-Genre Works
Sun 1:00PM in Plaza III (Three) – So Should I Just Self-Publish Through Amazon, or What? 

Mike McPhail
Fri 9:00PM in Plaza III (Three) – “Reverse the Polarity? But that Would…!”

Sat 11:00AM in Executive Suite C – Shared Storytelling in Games
Sat 12:00PM in Plaza II (Two) – What To Do When Real Science Outpaces Your Current SF Project 
Sat 7:00PM in Executive Suite 823 – The eSpec Books Launch Party, Hour 1
Sat 8:00PM in Executive Suite 823 – The eSpec Books Launch Party, Hour 2