THE WEEK(s) IN REVIEWS


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.


Proof-4-5-Clockwork

 

“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

 

 

 


Proof-UnicornPrecinct

 

 

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

 

 

 


Proof-DragonPrecinct

 

“…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

 

 

 


proof-iwhk-cover

 

 

“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)

 

 

 


proof-tdis-final

“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)


cover

“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


spiritseeker.jpg

 

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

 

 

 

 


CONVENTION SCHEDULE – BALTICON


Hard to believe that Balticon is coming up in just two weeks. Once again, eSpec will be in the dealer’s room, when not on panels. We will also be holding our annual launch party on Sunday from 7pm to 9pm. Full schedule below.

How to be a Good Moderator    Room 8029          Fri 5:00 PM

Moderating a discussion panel at a convention is both easier and harder than it looks. Experienced moderators share their tips, tricks, and guidelines for getting the most out of the panel you’re moderating.

Writing Major Minor Characters    Room 8029    Fri 8:00 PM

They may not be your protagonists, but minor characters need to be fleshed out just as much as the heroes. How do minor characters enrich a story, and how can we make them interesting without letting them steal the spotlight?

Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading          Kent      Sat 1:00 PM

The authors of the Broad Universe writing organization share excerpts from their upcoming works.

eSpec Readings       St. George     Sat 7:00 PM

Authors Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Ken Schrader, and Michelle Sonnier read from their work.

eSpec Book Launch Party    Baltimore Ballroom A     Book Launches     Sun 7:00 PM   

Join eSpec Books for food, fun, and prizes in celebration of the release of their newest offerings of Paranormal Steampunk, The Clockwork Witch by Michelle D. Sonnier, Spirit Seeker by Jeff Young, and After Punk: Steampowered Tales of the Afterlife.

Outlining vs. Pantsing     Mount Washington     Mon 10:00 AM

Some storytellers require a detailed outline to start fleshing out their story, but others prefer to write by the seat of the pants. What are some techniques to help you get better at one when you prefer the other? Authors and game masters welcome!

COVER REVEAL – AFTER PUNK


eSpec Books is delighted to present to you:

Web-AfterPunk
(cover design by Mike McPhail of McP Digital Graphics)

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, David Lee Summers, L. Jagi Lamplighter, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail.

COVER REVEAL – THE CLOCKWORK WITCH


Proof-4-5-Clockwork

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?

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – MICHELLE D. SONNIER (THE CLOCKWORK WITCH)


eSpec Books interviews Michelle D. Sonnier, author of The Clockwork Witch, funding now on Kickstarter.

eSB: What inspired your concept for this novel?

MDS: The very first thing that inspired me for The Clockwork Witch was a necklace. It was a brass and silver chunky chainmail choker with gears and a large Lucite domed oval pendant that had small replicas of old Victorian keys suspended in it. I adored it then, and still do. My then boyfriend, and now husband, bought it for me in the Katsucon Dealer’s Room in 2010. I started to get a tickle of a Steampunk idea because of the keys and the gears, and since I usually write fantasy those elements started to creep in in the form of witches. And I started thinking, what would witches be doing in a Steampunk world? Why would keys be important to them? The first part that seemed to fall into place was the grand conclusion, which involved the keys, but as I developed the world and characters the keys and the conclusion I’d originally imagined for them drifted further and further away from the characters and plot lines that actually spoke to me. So, I’ve actually diverged quite significantly from what I originally imagined, but who knows? Perhaps my characters will lead me back to the keys and the original ending I envisioned, or perhaps they will take me somewhere even grander.

eSB: What is your favorite part of this universe?

 MDS: My favorite part of this universe is the shades of gray – in relationships, in characters, in the decisions the characters have to make. Much like in real life, almost no one is pure evil or pure good, and every decision has multiple consequences, some of them good, some of them bad, and some a mix of good and bad. Stark black and white decisions, worlds, and characters have never really interested me. It’s the shades of gray that fascinate me and make me want to dig deeper.

eSB: What makes it different from your standard steampunk realm?

MDS: Probably the political interplay between those who champion technology and wish to usher in an Industrial Revolution much like the one in our own timeline, and those who wish to keep to the old ways and keep technology small or non-existent. Of course, Arabella blows a hole right in the middle of this political jousting with her new powers and a shaky foot in each world.

eSB: What was your most unexpected development when writing this book?

MDS: The softening of Arabella’s mother was something that caught me by surprise. When I first outlined the book Minerva was strict, stiff, and completely intractable. She was most definitely Arabella’s biggest adversary. Then came the scene where Arabella’s father explains to Arabella why her mother is as tough as she is. We see Minerva in a more human light as we see the damage from her past that served as motivation for her emotional and psychic armor in the present. Minerva is still just as much as an obstacle for Arabella as she ever was, but there is a change in how Arabella sees her and deals with her as she begins to see her mother as fallible and human rather than a cold, monolithic presence in her life.

eSB: Which character did you enjoy writing the most, and why?

MDS: I think the twins, Jessamine and Josephine, were the most fun to write. They are playful and a bit secretive and appear a bit mad, so that’s fun, but are they really mad or are they playing at it for their own complex end game? And there is a bittersweetness to writing the twins in all their playful glory right now because I know what’s coming for them in future books. There is a darkness coming into their lives and I know I will cry for them when I have to write those scenes.

eSB: Which character surprised you the most, and how?

MDS: Julian Pattersby, without a doubt. When I started writing the novel I had no intention of giving Arabella a love interest so soon. She’s only 17 when the book begins, and while that wouldn’t be considered too young at all for courting and preparing for marriage in the Victorian time period, I didn’t want a romance being the central point of the narrative. I wanted Arabella’s growth and journey of self discovery to take center stage. But the first time Julian and Arabella come together, the look in their eyes and the spark between them was undeniable. I couldn’t not write Julian as a love interest for Arabella. He sees her as a force of nature to be honored and respected, and her power as a thing of beauty, which is very new for Arabella since everyone else in her life regards her and her power as either a burden or something to be used.

eSB: Do you have any plans to expand your story…or write in the same universe? If so, what more can your readers expect?

MDS: Absolutely! I have at least six more novels to write with Arabella as the main character (check out the grandfather clock scene in the novel, it will give you clues as to where we’re going), and I am currently finishing up a novella set in the same world but earlier in the timeline than Arabella’s story. The novella started out as a character study of an important character, named Macaria, who appears later in Arabella’s series. But Macaria kept talking to me and showing me her origins and poof I had a novella. Look for Macaria to make an appearance in book 3 or 4 of Arabella’s storyline, as a much older and wiser witch.

It’s also quite likely I’ll write more in this universe as time goes along. It’s a very rich world and it truly fascinates me. There are so many corners of that world yet to explore.

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

MDS: I have a short story collection called Charmed City: Thirteen Tales of the Peculiar and Obscure from Otter Libris, and many other short stories scattered through various anthologies, magazines, and websites. The Clockwork Witch is my first full-length novel.

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

MDS: I have a novel tentatively titled How the Night Ends that’s in editing with Otter Libris and expected out late summer or early fall 2018, and I’m working on a collection of novellas centered around the theme of death, tentatively titled Love Notes to the Reaper.

eSB: How can readers find out more about you?

MDS: I am most active on FaceBook, although I am in the process of rebuilding my website after it got eaten by gremlins. I’m also trying hard to get better at blogging regularly, but that is a work in progress.


Michelle D. Sonnier

Michelle 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. Look for upcoming projects from Sam’s Dot Publications and Otter Libris.

SOCIAL MEDIA USER IDs

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/michelledsonnier/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/michellesonnier

Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MDSonnier

 

Blog Address – http://michelledsonnier.com/

 

WE’RE BACK!


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 

SpiritSeeker

 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.

Best,
Danielle