eSPEC EXCERPTS – THE STEADY DRONE OF SILENCE


proof-iwhk-coverAn excerpt from If We Had Known

The Steady Drone of Silence
Danielle Ackley-McPhail

“Excuse me? Lieutenant Kolby…excuse me!” Christopher James spoke softly into the headset attached to the helmet the lieutenant had jammed onto his head before they’d left the transport. “I need to know what’s gone wrong…”

Just ahead, Kolby snapped around to look over his shoulder, his features hard-set and his gaze unyielding. His posture projected urgency.

Christopher fell silent as he felt his eyes widen and the rest of him go cold. This must be how a rabbit feels caught in a hawk’s sights, he thought as he swallowed hard and fought the urge to duck his head. Kolby looked away and continued his hurried, but methodical progress through the brush, his eyes continually scanning in all directions, even straight up into the sky.

A shiver ran over Christopher. Why would the lieutenant look up?

Clutching the straps of the rucksack holding his tablet computer, he did his best to move as quickly and quietly as the soldiers escorting him. Fat chance of that, though. He was a civilian contractor. An engineer. A tech head specializing in unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. Two weeks ago he’d been pulled from his current research project with no explanation. Now he found himself on the butt end of Demeter traipsing through the wilds, destination unknown. He didn’t have to ask to know the soldiers escorting him weren’t any happier about it than he was.

Maybe he should have been paying more attention to where he was walking, instead of worrying over where he was going. Abruptly, his forward motion switched to downward as a root or something snagged his foot, tripping him. Christopher started to cry out only to find himself gripped by what felt like two steel bands, one across his mouth, the other around his upper arm. He had the vague impression the rest of the soldiers around him had dropped low to the ground and gone still. Christopher himself couldn’t help but tremble as he came eye to up-close eye with Lieutenant Kolby.

“Do you want to die?” The words were so low and emphatic Christopher questioned if he’d actually heard them, either way the message was clear in Kolby’s gaze.

Christopher shook his head.

Kolby looked over at the soldier to their left. Samson, if Christopher remembered correctly. Hanging from the man’s neck was an electronic device. Some kind of tracker-slash-monitor. All Christopher knew was the little green light on the top of the housing meant they were good. If the red one went on, they were screwed. The man nodded and Kolby nodded back. Only then did he release his grip on Christopher. One hand dropped to the rifle hanging from the strap slung across Kolby’s chest, the other rose slowly into the air in an obscure gesture Christopher had to guess meant ‘proceed’, because—as if they were guided by one brain—the six soldiers rose from where they crouched and continued through the brush with barely a sound.

Christopher couldn’t move.

The soldier behind him gave him a controlled shove. Not enough to make him fall, but enough to break the grip of the fear anchoring Christopher in place. He was terrified of messing up again. He was terrified of whatever was out there that had Kolby treading so lightly. He was terrified of never making it home.

Christopher had no place being on this mission.

Apparently the military felt otherwise. Or at least someone up the chain of command did.

Christopher just wished he knew what they were thinking because the only thing worse than being out here was having no clue why.

 


 

Danielle Ackley-McPhail

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.

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 A Legacy of Stars, Consigned to the Sea, Flash in the Can, and Transcendence, the non-fiction writers’ guide, The Literary Handyman, and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Gaslight & Grimm, Dragon’s Lure, and In an Iron Cage. Her short stories are included in numerous other anthologies and collections.

She is a member of Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.

Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail and three extremely spoiled cats. She can be found on Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail) and Twitter (DMcPhail).

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PROJECT UPDATE – IF WE HAD KNOWN


proof-iwhk-cover

edited by Mike McPhail

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

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

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


Contents

The Necessary Enemy by Ian Randal Strock

The Steady Drone of Silence by Danielle Ackley-McPhail

The Last Man on Earth by Jody Lynn Nye

Chasing the Ball by Peter Prellwitz

The Janus Choice by Jeff Young

Between Scylla and Charybdis by Patrick Thomas

The Star Gazers by James Chambers

Giraffe Children by Robert E. Waters

Good Advice by John L. French

Egg by Christopher M. Hiles

Youth by Judi Fleming

Meeting the Other by Nancy Jane Moore

The Third Heaven by Robert Greenberger

PROJECT UPDATE – MAN AND MACHINE


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

$6000 – DOUBLE UP BONUS #4

Can you help us spread the word, or maybe even chip in a dollar or ten? Everyone wins in this campaign! http://tiny.cc/DTF7

Thank you,

Danielle

KICKSTARTER – MAN AND MACHINE


It’s that time again! eSpec Books has just launched its next Kickstarter campaign. The book is Man and Machine, book seven in the award-winning Defending the Future anthology series edited by Mike McPhail. The campaign will run through July 4th and has the potential to fund up to three additional books, including If We Had Known, the first book in the Beyond the Cradle hard science fiction series, also edited by Mike McPhail.

To learn more about the campaign visit http://tiny.cc/DTF7 or watch the below video and check out the campaign page.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/e-specbooks/defending-the-future-man-and-machine-military-sci/widget/video.html

The plan had been to un-man the battlespace; replacing flesh and blood with steel and carbon fiber. Machines, both remote-guided and autonomous, would fight and be destroyed in the name of freedom, sparing the troops. However, as with all arms races, the opposing side’s technology eventually catches ups to yours, resulting in the need to put lives back on the frontline to deal with the unknown.

Gear up! This fight is far from over in 13 new stories of the struggle to survive, the new machines of war. 

With stories by Bud Sparhawk, Jennifer Brozek, Ronald Garner, Aaron Rosenberg, Brenda Cooper, James Chambers, Nancy Jane Moore, Patrick Thomas, Jeff Young, Eric Hardenbrook, Robert E. Waters, Anton Kukal, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail.