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!

eSPEC EXCERPTS – SELK-SKIN DEEP


proof-tbobafThis is a part of our series of excerpts connected with our campaign for The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries. All of the authors have been selected based on fan and reviewer recognition as some of the best examples of Bad-Ass Faeries, representing over a decade of this award-winning series. If you are interested in learning more about The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries, please check out our Kickstarter. #Make100


Selk-Skin Deep

Kelly A. Harmon

Cade Owen stood on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Livingstone, watching the crew of an ammunition ship loading armaments on board. The night sea cooperated. Gentle waves in the Gulf of Tonkin lapped at the two navy vessels. Men from the other ship, the USS Redoubt, sent over bomb after bomb until a crewman from the Livingstone pointed to a large wooden crate and made a cutting motion with his hands, halting the transfer.

Cade itched to know what the man’s agitation signaled. But from this distance, and under these lighting conditions, he couldn’t make out the problem. The carrier needed those munitions. Without them, the fighter jets couldn’t make their ordered strafing runs north of Hanoi in the morning, and he couldn’t rendezvous with the other SEALs later in the week with the Biet Hai Commandos in Da Nang.

Thank Manannán mac Lir. And President Kennedy, he thought, who created the SEALs only recently. He hoped this special mission would grant him a reprieve from the boredom his nearly immortal life provided him, even if he had to live among humans to find surcease. Humans weren’t a bad sort; he just couldn’t fathom why they seemed to live their lives so intensely.

Didn’t they realize that life is a series of up and down cycles? What made it so hard for them to accept that and move on? How can there be anything worth fighting over—dying over—when all things circle back in the ebb and flow of life?

He would love to discuss it with Friedman, but that would mean telling Friedman his bunkmate wasn’t human. Perhaps they’d known each long enough to swim that current. Long days confined together with the threat of war hanging over their heads had shaped their friendship far more quickly than a casual friendship might have. He’d give it some thought.

Until then, he would observe their intensity first hand. For now, he was just another man on the ship. And if he died serving? More the better, for it gave his life a purpose: something more than living and dying with the sea; yet, still living and dying by the sea.

The trident insignia of the Navy SEALs on his lapel gleamed in the moonlight. The brooding look on his face took on a more thoughtful aspect. He reached within his coveralls and pulled a small, rolled fur from around his neck. Shaking out the seal-shaped pelt, he moved into the darker shadow cast by an F4 Phantom and stripped out of his clothes. He draped the skin over his shoulders, letting the length of it drape down his back. Then, he grabbed the edges, pulling and tugging, smoothing the skin around himself until it grew large enough to cover him, turning him into a seal.

In an instant, the darkness disappeared, and Cade could see almost as well as if there were daylight. He opened his mouth, tasting the salty tang of the ocean on his tongue. He drew in a large breath, savoring the smell. He had waiting too long to return to true form. It always felt this way to him, after the change, like the sea wooed him back. If he were his human self, he would have smiled from the pleasure of it.

He dove into the water, falling forty feet through the air, cutting into the sea in a graceful arc. He plunged deep into the water, then surfaced and made his way around the side of the carrier and closer to the argument.


Kelly A. Harmon used to write truthful, honest stories about authors and thespians, senators and statesmen, movie stars and murderers. Now she writes lies, which is infinitely more satisfying, but lacks the convenience of doorstep delivery. She is an award-winning journalist and author, and a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. A Baltimore native, she writes the Charm City Darkness series, which includes the novels Stoned in Charm City, A Favor for a Fiend, and the soon to be published, A Blue Collar Proposition. Her science fiction and fantasy stories can be found in Triangulation: Dark Glass, Hellebore and Rue, and Deep Cuts: Mayhem, Menace and Misery.  

Ms. Harmon is a former newspaper reporter and editor, and now edits for Pole to Pole Publishing, a small Baltimore publisher. She is co-editor of Hides the Dark Tower along with Vonnie Winslow Crist. For more information, visit her blog at http://kellyaharmn.com, or, find her on Facebook and Twitter: http://facebook.com/Kelly-A-Harmon1, https://twitter.com/kellyaharmon.

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – KELLY A. HARMON


eSpec Books interviews Kelly A. Harmon, contributor to The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, currently funding on Kickstarter as a part of the #Make100 campaign.

eSB: Can you tell us a little about your story, “Selkskin Deep”, that was selected for The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries?

baf3front-smKAH: In Selkskin Deep, you’ll meet Cade Owen, a selkie who is also a Navy SEAL. He’s deployed on the aircraft carrier USS Livingstone during the Vietnam War. During a routine delivery of munitions to the carrier, Cade notices the bombs they’re taking on board date back to the 1930s. It’s a recipe for disaster.

sealThe selkie bit is pure fiction, but the situation — old and degrading munitions delivered to an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War is history. The Livingstone, and the fire emergency onboard, is modeled after the 1967 USS Forrestal tragedy.

eSB: What would your fae character’s signature drink be and why?

KAH: As a seal, Cade definitely prefers a good single-malt scotch. But as a SEAL, he’s stuck drinking cup after cup of badly-brewed government coffee—probably from a tin mug. Poor guy…

eSB: What do you like most about The Bad-Ass Faeries series, and why?

 KAH:  I like the variety of fairies included in the series. I’m always surprised when I turn the page and start a new story—and with so many volumes in the series, I’m never at a loss to find a good tale to curl up with.

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

 KAH:  The selkie bits were easy, but marrying the myth to American history created a small roadblock. I knew I had to have a Navy story, since the selkie is a water creature, but my knowledge of Naval history is sketchy. I had to do a lot of research.

eSB: What interested you in writing for this series?

KAH: I never bought into the “sweetness and light,” version of faeries as a kid. It might have been my dark nature, but it just seemed too Pollyanna. Faeries, in my opinion, were nothing more than little demons. So, when I heard about a series of books that was going to highlight bad faeries – the true nature of faeries – I knew I wanted to contribute.

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

kelly-a-harmon-stoned-in-charm-cityKAH: I write the Charm City Darkness series—an urban fantasy that takes place in Baltimore. 

You know that old saying, ‘No good deed goes unpunished.’?


Case in point for Assumpta Mary-Margaret O’Connor.  Her good deed gets her demon-marked, making her fair game for any passing demon (and a few specific ones). But she’s managed to survive—kelly-a-harmon-hides-a-dark-towerwith help from angels, ghosts, and witches—through three books so far: Stoned in Charm City, A Favor for a Fiend, and A Blue Collar Proposition.  A fourth book in the series about Assumpta’s best friend Jo, should be available in May.

For folks who love short stories, I’ve co-edited two dark fiction anthologies with Vonnie Winslow Crist:  Hides the Dark Tower and In a Cat’s Eye.  We’ll be reading for a third anthology in March, Dark Luminous Wings, which should be available in October.


kellyaharmon

Kelly A. Harmon used to write truthful, honest stories about authors and thespians, senators and statesmen, movie stars and murderers. Now she writes lies, which is infinitely more satisfying, but lacks the convenience of doorstep delivery. She is an award-winning journalist and author, and a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. A Baltimore native, she writes the Charm City Darkness series, which includes the novels Stoned in Charm City, A Favor for a Fiend, and the soon to be published, A Blue Collar Proposition. Her science fiction and fantasy stories can be found in Triangulation: Dark Glass, Hellebore and Rue, and Deep Cuts: Mayhem, Menace and Misery.  

Ms. Harmon is a former newspaper reporter and editor, and now edits for Pole to Pole Publishing, a small Baltimore publisher. She is co-editor of Hides the Dark Tower along with Vonnie Winslow Crist. For more information, visit her blog at http://kellyaharmn.com, or, find her on Facebook and Twitter: http://facebook.com/Kelly-A-Harmon1, https://twitter.com/kellyaharmon.  

SOCIAL MEDIA USER IDs

Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/kelly.a.harmon1 or https://www.facebook.com/Kelly-A-Harmon-181895972644/

Twitter –  @kellyaharmon

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/Kelly-A.-Harmon/e/B0036RDB32

Blog Address – http://kellyaharmon.com

 

NEW KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN – THE BEST OF BAD-ASS FAERIES


Currently, Kickstarter is running a promotional campaign Make/100. As a part of that campaign, creators launch a project that includes a limited edition, 100-Backer reward.

eSpec is taking this opportunity to launch a project that is near and dear to my heart, a Best of Bad-Ass Faeries anthology commemorating a decade of this award-winning anthology series that has shocked and delighted readers through four epic volumes. The series is out of print, but we will bring you the highlights of its glory. <grin>

proof-tbobaf

The stories selected for inclusion, based on fan and reviewer response, are as follows:

Bad-Ass Faeries  

  • Brian Koscienski & Chris Pisano – The Ballad of the Seven-Up Sprite  
  • Keith R.A. DeCandido – House Arrest
  • Adam P. Knave – Futuristic Cybernetic Faerie Assassin Hassballah  
  • Jesse Harris – Hidden in the Folds  

Just Plain Bad  

  • James Chambers – Way of the Bone  
  • CJ Henderson – Do You Believe?  
  • Danielle Ackley-McPhail – Within the Guardian Bell  
  • John Passarella – Twilight Crossing  
  • Jeffrey Lyman- Grimm Necessity  
  • Bernie Mojzes – Moonshine

In All Their Glory  

  • L. Jagi Lamplighter – A Not-So-Silent Night  
  • John L. French – So Many Deaths  
  • James Daniel Ross – The Natural-Born Spy  
  • Robert E. Waters – At The Grasshopper’s Hill  
  • Kelly A. Harmon – Selkskin Deep  

It’s Elemental  

  • DL Thurston – The Face of the Serpent  
  • Patrick Thomas – Looking a Gift Horse  
  • Jody Lynn Nye – Fifteen Percent  
  • Lee C. Hillman – Bad Blood  
  • NR Brown – Melia’s Best Wave

We hope you will help us celebrate these great authors!

 

CONVENTION RECAP – BALTICON 50


Whew! Can you say exhausted? I took yesterday off to recover and I’m still beat!

Balticon was a series of new experiences this year. After almost 15 years of attending, the last ten or so at the same location, the convention moved back down to Baltimore’s inner harbor for it’s celebrated 50th con.

This was a big one, folks. Loads and loads of guests, new venue, bonus Guests of Honors from years past. Needless to say all of these changes elevated the level of chaos this year as everyone scrambled to figure out what they were doing, when and where. There was a lot of walks down long corridors and wandering the maze to figure out where such programming rooms were, but all in all–other than my feet–the experience was less painful than I feared it might be.

On Friday night my first panel was Starting Your Own Small Press. This was very well attended for 5pm on a Friday night. The discussion was informative and well received and the audience had loads of great questions. If only it hadn’t been such a hike to find the room.

The only other thing I had on Friday was Meet the Guests. I showed up at the right room a little early to find a sign saying it had moved to the con suite, but never did see any of those who were supposed to participate and so wandered off to the bar with Jennifer Povey and The Weird Wild West contributor Ken Schrader, after waiting about fifteen minutes for something to happen.

Oh…and a fire scare. The whole building was evacuated around 7:30pm. I’m told someone one thought a smoke machine would really add some atmosphere to a concert going on…they were right. But no one was there to enjoy it once the alarm went off.

0527161830a
Me, Mike McPhail, John L. French, and Patrick Thomas waiting for the chaos to resume.

No programming for me on Saturday…or so I thought. Discovered that was when my reading was, and fortunately I discovered in time to actually attend because the room was pretty packed for the four authors reading. My Meet eSpec Books panel, however, had been moved to Saturday night without my knowledge and so I hung out for a little while in my room, then went to the game room where my good friends Alf and Cynthia regretted teaching me to play Ascension, then wandered off for a little while to Gail Z. Martin’s impromptu pre-release party for Modern Magic…instead of being where I was supposed to be.

0529161430a-1Now Sunday…we’ll have to talk about Sunday. The crazy descended. Con: I had to wake up uber early for a Book Design and Layout panel I was slated to give. That went REAL well, but was nowhere near long enough. Then right off to the dealer’s room where I got to meet Jody Lynn Nye and hug Larry Niven.

I participated in the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading, organized by Randee Dawn, then I rushed off to organized everything for the Gaslight and Grimm launch party. Discovered a bunch of supplies weren’t showing up, then arrived at the party room to discover everything was half tables…only about one foot wide! We pushed two together for all the food tables and left the congregating tables as is. We had loads of people and load of authors0529161317b-1 showing up to oggle our books and covet the impressive array of raffle prizes we gave away at the end of the night. Everyone was wonderful helping out, especially the Chrises Hiles (squared) Alf and Cynthia, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Kelly A. Harmon, Jean Marie Ward, Wrenn Simms, Vickie DiSantos and loads of other people I can’t remember now because my brain was on overload.

The party was a huge success and surprisingly we were able to donate food to the Game of Thrones party following ours. Many, many books were sold and happy authors and attendees abounded.

0529162011a-1-1
Back (left to right): Danny Birt, Jonah Knight, Jeff Young, Robert E. Waters, David Lee Summers, Chris Hiles, Eric Hardenbrook, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Dustin Blottenberger, Drew Bittner, Christine Norris, Ken Schrader. Front (left to right): Greg Schauer, me, Mike McPhail, Jean Marie Ward, Gail Z. Martin, and John L. French. Not pictured here: Vonnie Winslow Crist, Brigitte Winter, Kelly A. Harmon, Bud Sparhawk.

 

I don’t have any photos of the party, other than this one of the editors, authors and artists, but hope to share some once they are sent to me.

All in all a great time, though the added expense of parking and eating was a blow, as was the inaccessibility of places to pick up last-minute party supplies.  

 

LAUNCH PARTY UPDATE – THE PRIZES #8


For those who missed our earlier posts, Gaslight & Grimm will be launching at Balticon 50 this year, along with our other three anthologies: The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, The Weird Wild West, and Dogs of War – Reissue.

The convention has moved back to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, at the Renaissance Hotel, over Memorial Day Weekend. The launch party will be the Sunday of the convention.

  • Where: MD Salon B (The New Garden Room)
  • When: Sunday, May 29th
  • Time: 7pm to 9pm

Our Final Batch of Featured Prizes

These are some of our contributor prizes. The books are donated by their respective authors: Kelly A. Harmon (Gaslight and Grimm) Jean Marie Ward (Gaslight and Grimm) and James Chambers (The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, and Gaslight and Grimm); the Fairy Catmother tote bag (x2) is donated by Gaslight and Grimm editor and contributor Diana Bastine; and  the amazing steampunk snowman is both created and donated by Dogs of War contributor Judi Fleming of Fleming Gourds. 

I expect there will be other prizes I haven’t cataloged, but hey…you get the idea 😉

So remember, it’s all fun and games…until someone else wins the prize! Don’t let that happen to you. Join us at the launch for your chances to win!

How it Works

Just a note on how you can win said prizes. At any event where we are holding a launch party we have a standing practice that whoever buys one of the books launching gets a free raffle ticket for each one. Once you have a free ticket, if you wish you can purchase additional tickets for $1 each, all the way up until the drawing. Once you arrive at the party you can peruse the prize table and see if any of them interest you. At that point you take your two-part raffle ticket and separate the perforated sides. You put one half of the ticket in the bin in front of the prize you want to win, the other half you put back in your pocket until it is time for the drawing. No need to put your name on either half of the ticket because you–or someone representing you–must be present at the time of the drawing to collect your prize.

LAUNCH PARTY UPDATE – PRIZES #6


For those who missed our earlier posts, Gaslight & Grimm will be launching at Balticon 50 this year, along with our other three anthologies: The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, The Weird Wild West, and Dogs of War – Reissue.

The convention has moved back to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, at the Renaissance Hotel, over Memorial Day Weekend. The launch party will be the Sunday of the convention.

  • Where: MD Salon B (The New Garden Room)
  • When: Sunday, May 29th
  • Time: 7pm to 9pm

Today’s Featured Prizes

This is our Robert E. Waters library prize. The first book is Fantastic Futures 13, published by Padwolf Publishing, with stories by both Robert E. Waters and Danielle Ackley-McPhail, the second books is Hides the Dark Tower, edited by G&G contributor Kelly A. Harmon and includes a story by Robert E. Waters, and the final book is Wild West Exodus, with a story by Robert E. Waters. And, you’ve guessed it, this bundle has been donated by Robert E. Waters. 

How it Works

Just a note on how you can win said prizes. At any event where we are holding a launch party we have a standing practice that whoever buys one of the books launching gets a free raffle ticket for each one. Once you have a free ticket, if you wish you can purchase additional tickets for $1 each, all the way up until the drawing. Once you arrive at the party you can peruse the prize table and see if any of them interest you. At that point you take your two-part raffle ticket and separate the perforated sides. You put one half of the ticket in the bin in front of the prize you want to win, the other half you put back in your pocket until it is time for the drawing. No need to put your name on either half of the ticket because you–or someone representing you–must be present at the time of the drawing to collect your prize.