COVER REVEALS


Yes… plural. We’ve been a little busy getting ready for ChessieCon in November. We will be having a special launch event that will include two of our Systema Paradoxa books, which just went to press in preparation. The books will not release until February 2022, but con goers will get an early shot at these volumes. One of the books, Chessie at Bay, by John L. French, was written specifically for the convention and features the local cryptid the convention was named for. And Maryland resident Robert E. Waters is going to make a special trip to the convention to showcase his upcoming volume, Eyes of the Wolf. We hope you will join us all in this celebration.

First, a bit on the Systema Paradoxa Series, which was created in conjunction with the Cryptid Crate monthly subscription box to feature cryptids that don’t receive as much attention:

There are creatures lurking in our world. Obscure creatures long relegated to myth and legend. They have been sighted by a lucky—or unlucky—few, some have even been photographed, but their existence remains unproven and unrecognized by the scientific community.

These creatures, long thought gone, have somehow survived; creatures from our nightmares haunting the dark places. They swim in our lakes and bays, they soar the night skies, they hunt in the woods. Some are from our past, and some from other worlds, and others that have always been with us—watching us, fearing us, hunting us.

These are the cryptids, and Systema Paradoxa tells their tales.

(Each cover, with its encyclopedic style, features original artwork by Jason Whitley.)


SP - Chessie At Bay 2 x 3

Same ol’ Syn, all new mischief…

Just when Theodore Syn starts thinking about sinking roots, the military comes calling, needing a man with his… unique qualifications to deal with a need-to-know problem that’s cropped up in the Chesapeake Bay.

Something is out there, frightening fish and fishermen alike.

But that’s not the real problem. Someone is masquerading as a military official on American soil, and with war on the horizon, steps need to be taken to safeguard the East Coast, before the Axis Powers drive a U-boat—or something more unexpected—right up the mouth of the Bay.


John L. French

JOHN L. FRENCH is a retired crime scene supervisor with forty years’ experience. He has seen more than his share of murders, shootings, and serious assaults. As a break from the realities of his job, he started writing science fiction, pulp, horror, fantasy, and, of course, crime fiction.

John’s first story “Past Sins” was published in Hardboiled Magazine and was cited as one of the best Hardboiled stories of 1993. More crime fiction followed, appearing in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, the Fading Shadows magazines and in collections by Barnes and Noble. Association with writers like James Chambers and the late, great C.J. Henderson led him to try horror fiction and to a still growing fascination with zombies and other undead things. His first horror story “The Right Solution” appeared in Marietta Publishing’s Lin Carter’s Anton Zarnak. Other horror stories followed in anthologies such as The Dead Walk and Dark Furies, both published by Die Monster Die Books. It was in Dark Furies that his character Bianca Jones made her literary debut in “21 Doors,” a story based on an old Baltimore legend and a creepy game his daughter used to play with her friends.

John’s first book was The Devil of Harbor City, a novel done in the old pulp style. Past Sins and Here There Be Monsters followed. John was also consulting editor for Chelsea House’s Criminal Investigation series. His other books include The Assassins’ Ball (written with Patrick Thomas), Souls on Fire, The Nightmare Strikes, Monsters Among Us, The Last Redhead, the Magic of Simon Tombs, and The Santa Heist (written with Patrick Thomas). John is the editor of To Hell in a Fast Car, Mermaids 13, C. J. Henderson’s Challenge of the Unknown, Camelot 13 (with Patrick Thomas), and (with Greg Schauer) With Great Power

 You can find John on Facebook or you can email him at him at jfrenchfam@aol.com.


SP - Eyes of the Wolf 2 x 3

When a sudden trail of death and desolation sweeps through south and central Texas, elements of the case trigger an alert with a division of the FBI that tracks possible supernatural influence.

Agent Chimalis Burton, a specialist in cryptids of the Americas, has a history of vanquishing such monstrous creatures. When she is assigned the case, she scrambles to find answers before the situation worsens.

Evidence begins to suggest an evil that has festered for centuries; an evil that now rises to reclaim its power.

An evil that rests in the soulful eyes of a wolf.


Robert Waters 2020Robert E Waters is a technical writer by trade, but has been a science fiction/fantasy fan all his life. He’s worked in the computer and board gaming industry since 1994 as designer, producer, and writer. In the late 90’s, he tried his hand at writing fiction, and since 2003, has sold over 7 novels and 80 stories to various on-line and print magazines and anthologies, including the Grantville Gazette, Eric Flint’s online magazine dedicated to publishing stories set in the 1632/Ring of Fire Alternate History series.

Robert’s first 1632/Ring of Fire novel, 1636: Calabar’s War, (co-authored with Charles E Gannon), was recently published by Baen Books. Robert has also co-written several 1632 stories, including the Persistence of Dreams (Ring of Fire Press), with Meriah L Crawford, and The Monster Society, with Eric S Brown.

Robert is the author of The Mask Cycle, a Baroque fantasy series which includes the novels The Masks of Mirada and The Thief of Cragsport (Ring of Fire Press).

For e-Spec Books, Robert has written several stories which have appeared in the widely popular military science fiction anthology series, Defending the Future. All seven of his stories which appeared in the series were recently collected into one volume titled Devil Dancers.

Robert currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his wife Beth, their son Jason, and their two precocious little cats, Snow and Ashe.

AUGUST NETGALLEY LISTINGS


Wow! Guess I lost track of things there. We have THREE listings in NetGalley this month. Usually, I try not to do more than two at once. The listings are more difficult to promote adequately when there are too many of them. If you have a moment, can you help spread the word? Going to be tricky getting the word out there evenly. 
 
If you have a NetGalley account you can request your free review copies today for the following eSpec titles, just click the title to go directly to the listing. We have a little something for everyone this month with science fiction, cryptids, and military fantasy by Jeff Young, James Chambers, and David Sherman! NetGalley accounts are free and quick to register. It is a great way to discover new-to-you authors.
See you next month for even more review copy opportunities!

Proof-Young-SF

Written In Light

by Jeff Young

Eighteen stories that span from the near future to the far, from next door to the deeps of space. Meet aliens who struggle to determine if we are a threat or equals. Discover what really makes us happy. Join the war effort to free the outer planets. Find out how far a man is willing to change to gain a true talent. Uncover the gift and the danger of memories. Includes the Writer’s of the Future award-winning story “Written in Light.”

“18 stories that ably demonstrate [Young’s] versatility and ability to imagine convincing alien societies […and] reliably provide both entertainment and food for thought.” —Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Jeff Young is a bookseller first and a writer second – although he wouldn’t mind a reversal of fortune.

He is an award-winning author who has contributed to the anthologies: Writers of the Future V.26, After Punk, In an Iron Cage: The Magic of Steampunk, Clockwork Chaos, Gaslight and Grimm, If We Had Known, Fantastic Futures 13, The Society for the Preservation of C.J. Henderson, TV Gods & TV Gods: Summer Programming, the Defending the Future Military SciFi Anthologies and the forthcoming Beer, Because Your Friends Aren’t That Interesting. Jeff’s own fiction is collected in Spirit Seeker and TOI Special Edition 2 – Diversiforms. He has also edited the Drunken Comic Book Monkey line, TV Gods and TV Gods –Summer Programming and now serves as the CMO for Fortress Publishing, Inc. He has led the Watch the Skies SF&F Discussion Group of Camp Hill and Harrisburg for nineteen years.


SP - Devil in the Green 2 x 3

Devil in the Green

by James Chambers

Summer on Long Island—hot, humid, idyllic… and terrifying?

When fledgling photojournalist Ben Keep lands a freelance assignment to document the rediscovery of supposedly long-lost cryptid remains, he partners with biologist Annetta Maikels for the story—but the strange bones only open the door to deeper mysteries and dark secrets.

As Ben and Annetta continue to investigate, evidence of more than one living, breathing cryptid surfaces in what wildlands remain between the summer hotspots of Eastern Long Island, leaving them wondering…

Will they solve this decades’ old mystery, or become one more vanishing chapter in the ongoing tale?

About the Author

James Chambers is an award-winning author of horror, crime, fantasy, and science fiction. He wrote the Bram Stoker Award®-winning graphic novel, Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe. Publisher’s Weekly described The Engines of Sacrifice, his collection of four Lovecraftian-inspired novellas published by Dark Regions Press as “…chillingly evocative…” in a starred review. His story, “A Song Left Behind in the Aztakea Hills,” was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.

He has authored the short story collection Resurrection House and several novellas, including The Dead Bear Witness and Tears of Blood, in the Corpse Fauna novella series. He also wrote the illustrated story collection, The Midnight Hour: Saint Lawn Hill and Other Tales, created in collaboration with artist Jason Whitley.

His short stories have been published in over forty anthologies and magazines. He has also written numerous comic books including Leonard Nimoy’s Primortals, the critically acclaimed “The Revenant” in Shadow HouseThe Midnight Hour with Jason Whitley, and the award-winning original graphic novel, Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe.

He is a member and trustee of the Horror Writers Association, and recipient of the 2012 Richard Laymon Award and the 2016 Silver Hammer Award.

He lives in New York.

Visit his website: http://www.jameschambersonline.com.


FB-DemonTech-Campaigns

DemonTech

by David Sherman

Devil Dogs Snap at the Heels of the Demon Lord

When a renegade prince and his demon hordes set out to invade the world, you better believe the defenders call in the Marines!

Surrender or Die

A demon delivers an ultimatum to a port city under siege. The infernal messenger is sent away to lick its wounds, but will reinforcements come in time?

Delaying Action

Sometimes it isn’t about stopping the enemy so much as slowing them down.

Haft and Spinner are on the march, coming to the aid of those beset by the Dark Prince’s forces. Along the way, they use cunning and distraction to slow the enemy’s advance, but will it be enough to turn the tide?

Get Her Back!

When headstrong Alyine sets off on her own to find her left-behind musician, life gets interesting for those who must go after her. Angry nomads, great hunting cats, and desert death matches stand between the Golden Girl and her rescuers. Using every trick at their disposal, Haft and his men are more than up to the challenge!

The final chronicles in David Sherman’s Bestselling DemonTech Series.

About the Author

David Sherman is the author or co-author of some three dozen books, most of which are about Marines in combat.

He has written about US Marines in Vietnam (the Night Fighters series and three other novels), and the DemonTech series about Marines in a fantasy world. The 18th Race trilogy is military science fiction.

Other than military, he wrote a non-conventional vampire novel, The Hunt, and a mystery, Dead Man’s Chest. He has also released a collection of short fiction and non-fiction from early in his writing career, Sherman’s Shorts; the Beginnings.

With Dan Cragg he wrote the popular Starfist series and its spin off series, Starfist: Force Recon—all about Marines in the Twenty-fifth Century.; and a Star Wars novel, Jedi Trial.

His books have been translated into Czech, Polish, German, and Japanese.

After going to war as a U.S. Marine infantryman, and spending decades writing about young men at war, he’s burnt out on the subject and has finally come home. Today he’s writing short fiction, mostly steampunk and farcical fantastic Westerns.

He lives in sunny South Florida, where he doesn’t have to worry about hypothermia or snow-shoveling-induced heart attacks. He invites readers to visit his website, novelier.com.

eSPEC EXCERPTS – DEVIL IN THE GREEN


An excerpt from our newest Systema Paradoxa release, Devil in the Green: A Tale of the Montauk Monster, by James Chambers. This is volume 5 in the series and was featured in the July 2021 Cryptid Crate monthly subscription box. 


SP - Devil in the Green 2 x 3Chapter One

I never intended to hunt monsters.

That strange summer that found me combing Long Island’s south shore beaches and wandering through its nearby Pine Barrens forever changed my life. The resolution to every mystery I encountered during those hot and humid months only led to greater enigmas, each one branching, hydra-like, when I believed it resolved, sprouting new lines of investigation that led me farther from the certainty of the ordinary world into one overshadowed by phenomena few people ever encounter.

The events of that summer provided me a glimpse at the inner workings of the universe and awakened in me a deep dread and understanding of humanity’s cosmic insignificance, although with too little information to make any sense of it. Perhaps there is no sense to it. Perhaps chaos defines all existence, a string of random biological, chemical, and physical actions and reactions. Atoms and molecules colliding, binding, reinventing their substance. The ceaseless transformation of energy. Mistakes of awareness. Sentience nothing more than a glitch in space and time. I don’t believe these things, but if existence does possess purpose, it reaches far beyond mere human experience and comprehension.

All of this, I realize, sounds like something out of a century-old pulp magazine or the liner notes for some Sixties prog-rock album, but to this day, I still grapple with how to describe my experiences. I struggle to explain, even to myself, how opening a shoebox full of old bones knocked my entire world off its axis.

I wonder if Dr. Annetta Maikels, who brought me to that time and place, suspected what her investigation into an animal carcass more than a decade old might uncover. Did she seek to open Pandora’s box? Or did she, as she explained when we first met, mean only to debunk a local legend?

A quirk of chance brought Annetta to my door late that June. Ethan Scapetti, a college friend of mine and a reporter for a Long Island daily newspaper, introduced us after he broke his leg and four ribs in a car crash. Two days before his appointment to cover Annetta’s viewing of the remains of the so-called Montauk Monster, a black sedan sideswiped his car off the road into a telephone pole, a hit-and-run accident. I had freelanced for his paper, shooting photo features of local events for its website. Ethan hoped to throw the work my way, knowing I sorely needed it and hoping I’d take the assignment more seriously than any of the jaded staff reporters who might cover it for him.

After wishing him a speedy recovery, I brushed up on the lore of the Montauk Monster, finding blessed little to learn. The infamous photo from the 2008 sighting of its carcass at Ditch Plains Beach, Montauk looked to me exactly as most experts described it: the remains of a small dog or raccoon, grotesquely distorted by decomposition and several days floating in salt water. The remains vanished soon after the sighting, reportedly removed by a local resident who then buried them on their property or stored them in a garage. They were never seen again. Thanks to a Gawker.com headline, the picture went viral and sparked the imaginations of millions around the world.

The group of young women who snapped the photo offered little information. After first embracing the limelight, they later shied away from it and the Montauk Monster altogether.

That single image, however, birthed an unforgettable beast. Reports of similar creatures followed from around the world, as close as Staten Island and as far away as Asia. None of them offered proof of anything other than that a few days of ocean exposure could dramatically alter the appearance of a small, dead mammal. Still, something in that first photo, in the deformed body and more so in the sharp, unnatural lines of its muzzle leading to a sort of beak nagged at me enough that I couldn’t firmly close the door on the possibility of another explanation. That odd head and beak conjured memories of illustrations in childhood books about prehistoric giant mammals, so out of place in 2008 that I understood why it fascinated many who saw it. More than a decade later, a second Ditch Plains sighting reignited interest in the so-called Montauk Monster.

A couple walking the beach discovered the second carcass, which resembled the original creature in almost every detail, except that it retained a bit more of its fur, bleached gray by sun and salt water. They shot a photo with a composition similar to the 2008 image, but it failed to achieve the same viral popularity. With all the grim, depressing news in the world that year, perhaps no one had the heart for monster stories. But for those already interested in Monty, as Annetta liked to call the thing, it offered hope of validation, opening a new chapter in the legend. More importantly, it inspired Annetta, a biology and zoology professor at King’s College in Brooklyn, to use her summer break to indulge her infatuation with cryptozoology and investigate an enticing lead. For that, I am forever grateful—because it brought her to my door.

Chapter Two

Annetta arrived at my house in Hicksville early on a Saturday morning.

Her stature and confidence intimidated me from the moment I saw her. Close to six feet tall, she almost matched my own height. She wore hiking boots and khaki shorts, a green T-shirt under a light, short-sleeved jacket loaded with pockets, and a satchel slung across her torso. With dark, brown skin and close-cut hair, she looked smart, adventurous, and official. The sight of her immediately altered my impression of the assignment, and I regretted answering the door in faded college sweatpants and an old Adventure Time T-shirt.

“Benjamin Keep?” she said.

“That’s me.” I invited her in for a cup of coffee while I changed clothes and gathered my camera, a high-quality digital SLR that had set me back several months’ worth of student-loan payments, and soon we hit the road. Annetta drove a Prius that seemed too small to contain her. She refused to share with me the address of our destination.

“I promised I’d keep it a secret,” she said, and when I pointed out that I’d learn it when we got there, she grinned and said, “Maybe.”

We merged into highway traffic and sped east along the Long Island Expressway, another furious insect joining the frantic scurry along the asphalt ant trail.

“What do you know about cryptozoology?” Annetta asked me.

“What the average person knows from watching Bigfoot documentaries and looking at pictures of the Loch Ness Monster online,” I told her. “But I’ve read up on the Montauk Monster.”

“Yeah? So, tell me what you know about Monty.”

I ran down what I’d learned from my research.

She nodded. “Well done, Ben, and yeah, I’ve heard all the explanations for why Monty isn’t a cryptid. Publicity stunt, dead raccoon, latex hoax. Maybe one of them is right—but maybe none of them are.”

“You hope to prove it one way or the other?” I slid a notebook and pen from my camera case. “This is for the record, by the way.”

“Nope, not looking to prove anything. Only theories require proof, and I have no theory yet. But I don’t like the other theories. I’m gathering evidence to form my own theory.”

“How did you learn the location of the remains, and what makes you believe they’re authentic?”

“The owner called me out of the blue. Said she heard about my interest from mutual acquaintances. But I don’t believe anything yet. I mostly expect at the end of this trip out to the ass-end of Long Island we’re going to wind up looking at a collection of squirrel bones. If we’re lucky, they’ll be dressed up to look like something weird, and we’ll be entertained.”

“Like the Feejee Mermaid.”

“Exactly. PT Barnum at his finest. Gold star for you. If we’re very, very lucky, though, they’ll turn out to be something special.”

“The remains of the 2008 creature?”

“Wouldn’t that be nice?”

I agreed it would, then shifted gears. “What attracted you to cryptozoology?”

Annetta laughed. “Now there’s a long story.”

“We’ve got a long drive.”

The nomadic tribes of summer thickened and forced us to slow down, to fall into place with the great migration of beach-seekers, wine-tasters, and antique-hunters fleeing stifling New York City and suburban boredom for Long Island’s once-pastoral East End. As a native Long Islander, I made a point of avoiding Montauk, the Hamptons, and the transplanted city social scene that flooded the Island every summer. Upper-East- and West-Siders, for whom most of the Island counted as the local flyover country, looked down their noses at we suburbanites. The “bridge-and-tunnel” crowd, they called us, but their snobbery never hindered their annual invasion of the South Fork from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Annetta frowned at the mass of surrounding cars, but as the sunlight warmed my face and I eyed the clear blue sky, it surprised me traffic moved anything above an absolute crawl on such a near-perfect summer day.

“Damn this traffic. We need to be there before noon. The owner was insistent about that. I don’t want to roll up at 12:05 and have a door slammed in our faces.”

The dashboard clock read 10:12. “We’ll make it. Might cut it close, but this traffic’s got to thin out sometime. Tell me your story and take your mind off all this.”

After a sigh, Annetta said, “Okay, you ever hear stories about the alligators in the sewers?”

“Where? In the City?”

“Right. People bring home baby alligators as pets from trips to Florida or Georgia or wherever. Their kids love them for a few weeks, then get bored and forget about them. The baby gators grow a little too big, flash some teeth, and then suddenly, a light bulb goes on in Mom or Dad’s head. This thing will get huge and need food. They don’t want to deal with it, and their kids hardly remember they have it. So, one night while everyone’s asleep or some afternoon while the kids are at school, they flush the poor gator down the toilet, good riddance.”

“Yeah, I know this one. There’s an old movie about it. The gator survives its toilet ride, winds up in the sewer, where it grows to full size, and roams around under the city, chowing down on sewer workers. It’s a classic urban legend.”

A tractor-trailer, finding a miraculous opening amongst the cars, flew by us, shuddering Annetta’s Prius with its backdraft. To either side of the road sprawled the Pine Barrens, dark and unkempt, one of the last great spaces of Long Island yet to face bulldozers and conversion into strip malls and townhome developments. Protected, for now, it persisted under development rumors that circled like sharks. Proposals for a 600-acre golf course, a casino, eco-housing, and even an adventure park had all tested the strength of the law protecting more than 100,000 acres of wilderness. Surrounded by it, Annetta’s story sounded like a campfire tale, and a shiver ran through me.

“My grandmother told me about the alligators when I was in second grade,” Annetta said. “Scared me silly. I refused to ride the subway for a month after that. My mother was furious with her because I made us walk everywhere or take the bus. One time we even took a cab because I cried so hard when she tried to carry me down the stairs at Jay Street Station. Eventually, my fear gave way to other worries, schoolwork, who was coming to my birthday party, other kid stuff. My mom promised me a Snickers if I took the subway again. She figured I’d see there wasn’t anything to be afraid of, and we could get back to normal. My first time back, though, wouldn’t you know it? I saw an alligator down there.”

“Wait, seriously?”

“Seriously, yes, but not really. My mother liked to board at the front of the train. We always waited near the end of the platform, with a view of the tunnel, and I saw all sorts of stuff on the tracks. Cockroaches. Rats. Litter. And that one time, in the darkness where the rails curved out of sight into the gloom, I saw something big and frightening with a mouth full of ugly, glistening teeth slither between the rails. I had no doubt it would climb the three little steps at the platform’s end and devour me. I grabbed my mother’s hand, too frightened to speak. Tears in my eyes. I looked up at her, pleading, and she gave me one of those ‘it’s all right, honey’ smiles parents use when they see you’re upset but don’t know why. I pointed to the monster in the tunnel, and when I looked back at it, do you know what I saw?”

“I’m guessing not an alligator.”

“A black trash bag blowing on the track. Our train pulled in then, funneling the air ahead of it, banishing that plastic bag into the subway depths. My mother hustled me onto the train. I never did tell her about my ‘alligator’—but I never forgot it.”

“Okay, but you saw what you saw because of the power of suggestion, the ideas your grandmother planted in your head. Your mind drew them onto a scrap of trash. How’d that lead you to cryptozoology?”

“The psychology of it isn’t the part of the experience that stuck with me. It’s the question, see? However briefly, I believed an alligator was on the train tracks. It was one hundred percent real to me until it wasn’t, but it left a question in my mind. Could an alligator really survive a flush down the drain then live in the New York City sewers?”

“No, right? It would be caught in filters along the way or snagged at a treatment plant, and that’s that.”

“Did you know how sewers worked when you were in the second grade?”

“No.”

“Me neither. Anyway, that’s what got me hooked. And here is our exit.”

Annetta’s story had distracted us from the traffic, and now she guided her Prius up the exit ramp, off the Expressway. A fair number of cars and trucks came along and stayed with us. My parents often spoke about their trips out to Montauk or Orient Point, the South and North Forks of the Island when they were young, back when potato farms occupied more acreage than vineyards. Then city people and tourists “discovered” those places, the Hampton Jitney started shuttling eager, summer-struck Manhattanites on a regular schedule every Friday afternoon and Sunday morning, and everything changed. I imagined the place undeveloped, like Annetta’s subway tunnel, a place where you could mistake a trash bag for a monster. An untamed place that had still existed not so long ago and maybe remained under the surface.

I don’t know if it came down to Annetta’s story setting the right mood, me simply getting caught up in her telling of it, or the shadows of the Pine Barrens, but barreling down Route 24, through Flanders, I believed that at the end of our drive, we might actually find that very special thing.


James Chambers2020

James Chambers is an award-winning author of horror, crime, fantasy, and science fiction. He wrote the Bram Stoker Award®-winning graphic novel, Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe. Publisher’s Weekly described The Engines of Sacrifice, his collection of four Lovecraftian-inspired novellas published by Dark Regions Press as “…chillingly evocative…” in a starred review. His story, “A Song Left Behind in the Aztakea Hills,” was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.

He has authored the short story collection Resurrection House and several novellas, including The Dead Bear Witness and Tears of Blood, in the Corpse Fauna novella series. He also wrote the illustrated story collection, The Midnight Hour: Saint Lawn Hill and Other Tales, created in collaboration with artist Jason Whitley.

His short stories have been published in the anthologies The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the CrucibleBad-Ass Faeries, Bad-Ass Faeries 2: Just Plain Bad, Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory, Bad Cop No Donut, The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries, The Best of Defending the Future, Breach the Hull, By Other Means, Chiral Mad 2, Chiral Mad 4, Dance Like A Monkey,  Dark Hallows II: Tales from the Witching Hour, Deep Cuts, The Domino Lady: Sex as a Weapon, Dragon’s Lure, Fantastic Futures 13, Gaslight and Grimm, The Green Hornet Chronicles, Hardboiled Cthulhu, Hear Them Roar In An Iron Cage, Kolchak the Night Stalker: Passages of the Macabre, Man and MachineMermaids 13 No Longer DreamsQualia Nous, Shadows Over Main Street (1 and 2), The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, The Society for the Preservation of CJ Henderson, So It Begins, The Spider: Extreme Prejudice, To Hell in a Fast Car, Truth or Dare, TV Gods, Walrus Tales, Weird Trails, and With Great Power; the chapbook Mooncat Jack; and the magazines Bare BoneCthulhu Sex, and Allen K’s Inhuman.

He has also written numerous comic books including Leonard Nimoy’s Primortals, the critically acclaimed “The Revenant” in Shadow HouseThe Midnight Hour with Jason Whitley, and the award-winning original graphic novel, Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe.

He is a member and trustee of the Horror Writers Association, and recipient of the 2012 Richard Laymon Award and the 2016 Silver Hammer Award.

He lives in New York.

Visit his website: http://www.jameschambersonline.com.

 

COVER REVEAL – DEVIL IN THE GREEN


I am a little late with this. My apologies. Life keeps getting away from me recently. I present to you the cover for the newest volume in the Systema Paradoxa series: James Chambers’ Devil in the Green (click the link to order). This volume featured in the exclusive July Cryptid Crate subscription box, and released on July 21. We hope you enjoy these cryptid novellas as much as we enjoy bringing them to you!


SP - Devil in the Green 2 x 3

There are creatures lurking in our world. Obscure creatures long relegated to myth and legend. They have been sighted by a lucky—or unlucky—few, some have even been photographed, but their existence remains unproven and unrecognized by the scientific community.

These creatures, long thought gone, have somehow survived; creatures from our nightmares haunting the dark places. They swim in our lakes and bays, they soar the night skies, they hunt in the woods. Some are from our past, and some from other worlds, and others that have always been with us—watching us, fearing us, hunting us.

These are the cryptids, and Systema Paradoxa tells their tales.

***

Summer on Long Island—hot, humid, idyllic… and terrifying?

When fledgling photojournalist Ben Keep lands a freelance assignment to document the rediscovery of supposedly long-lost cryptid remains, he partners with biologist Annetta Maikels for the story—but the strange bones only open the door to deeper mysteries and dark secrets.

As Ben and Annetta continue to investigate, evidence of more than one living, breathing cryptid surfaces in what wildlands remain between the summer hotspots of Eastern Long Island, leaving them wondering…

Will they solve this decades’ old mystery, or become one more vanishing chapter in the ongoing tale?


James Chambers2020James Chambers is an award-winning author of horror, crime, fantasy, and science fiction. He wrote the Bram Stoker Award®-winning graphic novel, Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe. Publisher’s Weekly described The Engines of Sacrifice, his collection of four Lovecraftian-inspired novellas published by Dark Regions Press as “…chillingly evocative…” in a starred review. His story, “A Song Left Behind in the Aztakea Hills,” was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.

He has authored the short story collection Resurrection House and several novellas, including The Dead Bear Witness and Tears of Blood, in the Corpse Fauna novella series. He also wrote the illustrated story collection, The Midnight Hour: Saint Lawn Hill and Other Tales, created in collaboration with artist Jason Whitley.

His short stories have been published in the anthologies The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the CrucibleBad-Ass Faeries, Bad-Ass Faeries 2: Just Plain Bad, Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory, Bad Cop No Donut, The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries, The Best of Defending the Future, Breach the Hull, By Other Means, Chiral Mad 2, Chiral Mad 4, Dance Like A Monkey,  Dark Hallows II: Tales from the Witching Hour, Deep Cuts, The Domino Lady: Sex as a Weapon, Dragon’s Lure, Fantastic Futures 13, Gaslight and Grimm, The Green Hornet Chronicles, Hardboiled Cthulhu, Hear Them Roar In An Iron Cage, Kolchak the Night Stalker: Passages of the Macabre, Man and MachineMermaids 13 No Longer DreamsQualia Nous, Shadows Over Main Street (1 and 2), The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, The Society for the Preservation of CJ Henderson, So It Begins, The Spider: Extreme Prejudice, To Hell in a Fast Car, Truth or Dare, TV Gods, Walrus Tales, Weird Trails, and With Great Power; the chapbook Mooncat Jack; and the magazines Bare BoneCthulhu Sex, and Allen K’s Inhuman.

He has also written numerous comic books including Leonard Nimoy’s Primortals, the critically acclaimed “The Revenant” in Shadow HouseThe Midnight Hour with Jason Whitley, and the award-winning original graphic novel, Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe.

He is a member and trustee of the Horror Writers Association, and recipient of the 2012 Richard Laymon Award and the 2016 Silver Hammer Award.

He lives in New York.

Visit his website: http://www.jameschambersonline.com.

JULY NETGALLEY LISTING


SP - All-The-Way House 2 x 3Request your free review copy of Keith DeCandido‘s new SP novella, All-The-Way House on NetGalley today!
See a side of the Jersey Devil you’ve never before considered!

There are creatures lurking in our world. Obscure creatures long relegated to myth and legend. They have been sighted by a lucky—or unlucky—few, some have even been photographed, but their existence remains unproven and unrecognized by the scientific community.

These creatures, long thought gone, have somehow survived; creatures from our nightmares haunting the dark places. They swim in our lakes and bays, they soar the night skies, they hunt in the woods. Some are from our past, and some from other worlds, and others that have always been with us—watching us, fearing us, hunting us.

These are the cryptids, and Systema Paradoxa tells their tales.

***

When there are talks of a monster sighted in the waves off the Atlantic City boardwalk, Coursers Valentina Perrone and Sarah el-Guindi—supernatural hunters-for-hire—are called in by the local Boss to… handle it. But echoes of the past send them into the heart of the Pine Barrens, where more than one secret hides, along with their answers.

Will history repeat itself? Or will the monsters find safe haven?

Either way, in the end, they discover there is always more than one way to deal with a problem.

“Well written, an easy read, and I was hooked on every word.” The Geeky Devil


keith-decandido

Keith R.A. DeCandido has written several other tales of Coursers (or Slayers) and their work keeping the world safe from supernatural threats, including the novels A Furnace Sealed and the forthcoming Feat of Clay (both from WordFire Press) and the short stories “Under the King’s Bridge” in Liar Liar (Mendacity Press), “Materfamilias” in Bad Ass Moms (Crazy 8 Press), and “Unguarded” in Devilish and Divine (eSpec Books).

His other work includes media tie-in fiction in more than thirty different licensed universes from Alien to Zorro, as well as fiction in his own worlds, including fantastical police procedurals in the fictional cities of Cliff’s End and Super City, as well as urban fantasy tales in the somewhat real locales of Key West and New York City. He also writes pop-culture commentary, primarily for the award-winning site Tor.com, but also for various books and magazines.

Recent and upcoming work includes the novels Phoenix Precinct (the next in his series of police procedurals in an epic fantasy setting, from eSpec Books), Animal (a thriller written with Dr. Munish K. Batra, from WordFire), To Hell and Regroup (a military science fiction novel written with David Sherman, from eSpec Books), and the aforementioned Feat of Clay; short stories in the anthologies Pangaea Book 3: Redemption (Crazy 8), Footprints in the Stars (eSpec), Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles (Fantastic Books), and Turning the Tied (a charity anthology from the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers); and new graphic novels from TokyoPop in the world of Resident Evil, tying into the Netflix animated series Infinite Darkness.

Keith is also a third-degree black belt in karate (he both teaches and trains), a professional musician (currently percussionist for the parody band Boogie Knights), an editor of many years’ standing (though he usually does it sitting down), and probably some other stuff he can’t recall due to the lack of sleep. Find out less at his website at DeCandido.net.

 

AUTHOR NEWS – DANIELLE ACKLEY-McPHAIL


Danielle Ackley-McPhailIt is with great pleasure that we announce that eSpec Books author and publisher Danielle Ackley-McPhail has been invited to be guest of honor at this year’s Chessiecon. The event is scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend (November 26-28, 2021) at the Lord Baltimore Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland.

Danielle has been a long-time participant of the convention, going back nearly a decade when the convention was still called DarkoverCon (original run as a part of the MZB/Darkover fandom.)

ChessielogoAs a part of the festivities, Danielle will be launching Daire’s Devils, her seventh novel, as well as several new volumes in the brand-new Systema Paradoxa series, including a special volume released specifically for the convention, based on Chessie, the cryptid namesake of the convention. The title for that book has not yet been announced, but Baltimore resident John L. French (author of When the Moon Shines, the premiere volume in the series) has agreed to pen this special release.

eSPEC EXCERPTS – ALL-THE-WAY HOUSE


Another Systema Paradoxa book, All-The-Way House by Keith R.A. DeCandido, to be featured in a future Cryptid Crate. We have a lot of these coming up as we get the series up to spead. But don’t worry, there are some exciting titles coming up in other genres too! The neat thing about the SP books, though, is that even though they are a series and all feature cryptids, each author has their own take and style, and not only do the stories draw on echoes of other genres, but some–like this one–are a part of the author’s larger literary universe! Win-Win!

We hope you enjoy!


SP - All-The-Way House 2 x 3Chapter One

Atlantic City
State of New Jersey, United States of America
February 2020

“Why are we even coming to the office? It’s freezing.”

Valentina Perrone smiled at the plaintive wail of her apprentice. She was trying to find the right keys to her storefront office on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and North Carolina Avenue. Her leather gloves made that search take a bit longer, which was probably why Sarah el-Guindi was standing behind her complaining and shivering.

Finally locating the right ones, she unlocked the padlock that kept the bolt in place. With the lock off, the bolt could be pulled out, thus permitting the metal gate to rise from its lowered position and allow access to the glass door.

“Finally,” Sarah muttered. “And you haven’t answered my question.”

Chuckling, Valentina bent over, grabbed the handle, and then threw the gate upward. Its metallic rattle echoed in the frigid air.

As she tried to find the other key, which would unlock the glass door, Valentina said, “Atlantic City ain’t the most crowded place on Earth this time of year, but that doesn’t mean there ain’t nobody here, y’know? We might still get clients.”

“Who can call us or e-mail us.” Sarah was now jumping up and down to keep warm, her hijab sliding back from her forehead a bit. “Which we can answer in your nice warm house in Hammonton.”

“We get walk-ins here, especially from people who work the hotels and casinos. They don’t like to talk over the phone about this stuff. And their bosses tend to read their e-mails. There it is!” Valentina found the right key and inserted it into the lock.

Sarah practically ran past Valentina once she got the door open. The office space was small, which was good, as it kept the price down. The rent she paid on this space in Atlantic City would rent an office four times this size in her hometown of Hammonton, which was thirty miles to the west.

But AC also had the clients with the deepest pockets.

Sarah flicked the switch to turn on a fluorescent light in the middle of the ceiling and then moved directly to the space heater that sat atop the minifridge in the corner and put it on high.

Valentina had retrieved the mail from the small metal box next to the front door and then came in and shrugged out of her down coat. “Y’know, it’s been, what, five years now since you moved here? You ain’t used to Jersey winters yet?”

Warming her hands on the heater as it hummed to life, Sarah glanced back and said, “I come from a desert people, what do you want from me?”

“Last time I checked, it got cold in the desert, too,” Valentina said with a chuckle as she went through the mail, tossing all the catalogues and advertisements and political flyers into the garbage can. That left the notice to pay the rent from the landlord and a handwritten envelope.

Holding up the former, she said, “File this, will you please, Sarah?”

Sarah glared at her, obviously not wanting to move away from the heater. She also hadn’t taken her coat off yet. Walking over to the desk to snatch the piece of cardboard, she then went to the file cabinet next to the minifridge. “I don’t know why they send you these things. You pay the rent electronically.”

“I finally stopped asking them to not send me those things after the tenth time.” Valentina shrugged. “They got a computer system that sends ’em automatically. So I file ’em, just in case there’s a problem down the line.”

“Have you ever had a problem?”

“Not yet.”

“And yet you save every single piece of paper,” Sarah said in a long-suffering tone after filing the rent notice with the others in a manila folder and closing the file cabinet drawer.

“You never know when you might need it. Hey, listen to this,” Valentina added as she sat down in the leather chair behind her desk. She had opened the handwritten envelope. “It’s a thank-you note from the Frank family. Well, it says it’s from the Frank family, but it’s really from their little girl, Helena. ‘Dear Ms. Perrone. Thank you for getting the ghost out of our house. It really made me and Mommy and Daddy happy. We all had a good night’s sleep for the first time in forever, and now Mommy and Daddy say I can get a puppy. We love you, Helena Frank.’”

Sarah just stood there, her hands clenched over her heart. “Okay, that is the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Valentina grinned. “It’s the little things.”

“So, when do I get to learn how to use weapons?”

With a sigh, Valentina said, “Not this crap again. I told you, I’m more of a magick items kinda gal. Weapons just means people get hurt.”

“I was talking with José Maldonado—”

Crossing herself, Valentina said, “Jesu, Giuseppe, Mari, do not take advice on being a Courser from José. If it was up to him, we’d just shoot everything with that stupid .45 of his. And most of the time, that don’t work.”

“He also said you always use magick items because your cousin owns the store over on Baltic and Indiana.”

“Yeah, I love my cousin Bobby, but you may’ve noticed I don’t actually buy nothin’ at his store. I go to Saladin’s back home in Hammonton. If nothin’ else, Bobby’s prices are through the roof ’cause he’s gotta pay AC rent. Plus, most of his stuff’s garbage, ’cause he sells to tourists.”

“I seem to recall a supply of silver sticks you purchased from him last week.”

“’Cause Saladin was out, and I needed ’em for those rabid werewolves.”

The glass door opened, and a man wearing a very expensive-looking trench coat over a thousand-dollar suit walked in. He removed his Ray-Bans and put them in the inner pocket of his suit jacket. “‘Bout time you opened, Val. Been waitin’ all mornin’.”

After shooting Sarah an I-told-you-so look, Valentina stood up. “We been here, like, fifteen minutes, Rocco, what took you so long to walk in?”

“I been waitin’ back at the hotel. I had Freddie across the street keepin’ an eye out. He called me when you showed up, and then I drove over.”

Sitting back down in her chair, Valentina shook her head. She hadn’t noticed anybody across the street, but Freddie could’ve been in one of the fast-food joints. “Always a pleasure, Rocco. What can I do for you?”

Rocco, however, was staring at Sarah. “Who’s this?”

“Oh, sorry. Rocco Amalfitano, head of security for Atlantic Resorts Casino and Hotel, this is my apprentice, Sarah el-Guindi.”

Rocco turned to stare confusedly at Valentina. “You got an apprentice? That’s, like, a thing?”

“How do you think we get new Coursers?”

“The hell do I know? Maybe you grow ’em in a lab.”

Valentina chuckled and indicated the guest chair that faced her desk. “Have a seat, Rocco, and tell me what you need.”

As he sat down, Rocco pulled a smartphone out of his trench coat pocket. “We got a thing on the beach. Clients’re freakin’ out. I need you to get it the hell off the beach before the bosses find out.”

Sarah asked, “How does anybody even know it’s there?”

“Whaddaya mean?” Rocco asked.

“Who would be going on the beach in this weather?”

Rolling his eyes, Rocco said, “Somebody’s always on the beach. We could have ten feet of snow, and somebody’d be on the beach.” He had been fondling the screen of his phone. Finally seeming to find what he needed, he handed the phone to Valentina.

Taking the phone, she stared at the image. A sandy beach dotted with shells in the foreground, breaking waves of blue-green water in the background, and right where the two met, a dark-green-scaled creature that either had two arms and two legs, or four legs—it was hard to tell at that angle—with a large round head, tiny recessed eyes, and a snout that looked vaguely fishlike.

“That’s the only picture we got, but at least three clients’ve seen it. They’re sayin’ it’s the Jersey Devil, if you can believe that garbage.”

Valentina handed the phone to Sarah so she could get a look at it. “Aw, c’mon, Rocco, you don’t think the Jersey Devil’s real?”

“Maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t, but I ain’t never seen it. And I seen some stuff. Why you think I keep comin’ back here?”

Shrugging, Valentina said, “My charm and good looks?”

Rocco snorted. “Well, you are pretty good lookin’, for a crazy Courser lady.”

Sarah handed the phone back to Rocco. “Can you e-mail us the picture, please, Mr. Amalfitano?”

“Absolutely. And hey, call me Rocco. Mr. Amalfitano is what people call me when they got a problem, and it gets me all nervous. But I’m the one with the problem, so call me Rocco.” Rocco started fondling the phone screen again, and then asked Valentina, “Same e-mail address as last time?”

Valentina nodded.

Tapping the phone screen with a flourish, Rocco said, “Sent,” and put the phone in his coat pocket. “You know what that thing is?”

“I got a few ideas,” Valentina said. “But don’t worry, I’ll have it off the beach and outta your hair within twenty-four hours.”

“Okay, great. So, I don’t gotta pay the usual rate for this, right? I mean, it’s the off-season.”

With a sigh, Valentina then engaged in her least favorite aspect of this job: haggling. It took about a minute and a half for her to convince Rocco that Coursers didn’t have an off-season even if casinos did, and for him to agree to her usual payment rate. Or, more accurately, her usual rate for the casinos, which was about twenty percent higher than it was for anyone else, as the casinos could damn well afford it. It was Valentina’s way of making up for how the casinos themselves overcharged for so much.

After that, Rocco took his leave. As soon as the door closed, Valentina crossed herself again. “Jesu, Giuseppe, Mari, every damn time.”

“He always tries to talk down the price?” Sarah asked.

“Yeah. If I charged twice as much, it wouldn’t be a helluva lot more than a damn rounding error in the casino’s budget, but no, he’s gotta try to nickel-and-dime me. And he pulls it every single time he hires me.” Valentina blew out a breath. “C’mon, we gotta take a trip up to the Pine Barrens.”


Keith R.A. DeCandido

Keith R.A. DeCandido has written several other tales of Coursers (or Slayers) and their work keeping the world safe from supernatural threats, including the novels A Furnace Sealed and the forthcoming Feat of Clay (both from WordFire Press) and the short stories “Under the King’s Bridge” in Liar Liar (Mendacity Press), “Materfamilias” in Bad Ass Moms (Crazy 8 Press), and “Unguarded” in Devilish and Divine (eSpec Books).

His other work includes media tie-in fiction in more than thirty different licensed universes from Alien to Zorro, as well as fiction in his own worlds, including fantastical police procedurals in the fictional cities of Cliff’s End and Super City, as well as urban fantasy tales in the somewhat real locales of Key West and New York City. He also writes pop-culture commentary, primarily for the award-winning site Tor.com, but also for various books and magazines.

Recent and upcoming work includes the novels Phoenix Precinct (the next in his series of police procedurals in an epic fantasy setting, from eSpec Books), Animal (a thriller written with Dr. Munish K. Batra, from WordFire), To Hell and Regroup (a military science fiction novel written with David Sherman, from eSpec Books), and the aforementioned Feat of Clay; short stories in the anthologies Pangaea Book 3: Redemption (Crazy 8), Footprints in the Stars (eSpec), Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles (Fantastic Books), and Turning the Tied (a charity anthology from the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers); and new graphic novels from TokyoPop in the world of Resident Evil, tying into the Netflix animated series Infinite Darkness.

Keith is also a third-degree black belt in karate (he both teaches and trains), a professional musician (currently percussionist for the parody band Boogie Knights), an editor of many years’ standing (though he usually does it sitting down), and probably some other stuff he can’t recall due to the lack of sleep. Find out less at his website at DeCandido.net.

COVER REVEAL – ALL-THE-WAY HOUSE


These covers have been illusively lurking, but here is the official cover reveal for Systema Paradoxa Volume 4 – All-The-Way House by Keith R.A. DeCandido, which releases 6/21/21 (Pre-order here or via our online store). We are very excited about this book and this series. Please join us in congratulating the author!


SP - All-The-Way House 2 x 3

There are creatures lurking in our world. Obscure creatures long relegated to myth and legend. They have been sighted by a lucky—or unlucky—few, some have even been photographed, but their existence remains unproven and unrecognized by the scientific community.

These creatures, long thought gone, have somehow survived; creatures from our nightmares haunting the dark places. They swim in our lakes and bays, they soar the night skies, they hunt in the woods. Some are from our past, and some from other worlds, and others that have always been with us—watching us, fearing us, hunting us.

These are the cryptids, and Systema Paradoxa tells their tales.

***

When there are talks of a monster sighted in the waves off the Atlantic City boardwalk, Coursers Valentina Perrone and Sarah el-Guindi—supernatural hunters-for-hire—are called in by the local Boss to… handle it. But echoes of the past send them into the heart of the Pine Barrens, where more than one secret hides, along with their answers.

Will history repeat itself? Or will the monsters find safe haven?

Either way, in the end, they discover there is always more than one way to deal with a problem.


Keith R.A. DeCandido

Keith R.A. DeCandido has written several other tales of Coursers (or Slayers) and their work keeping the world safe from supernatural threats, including the novels A Furnace Sealed and the forthcoming Feat of Clay (both from WordFire Press) and the short stories “Under the King’s Bridge” in Liar Liar (Mendacity Press), “Materfamilias” in Bad Ass Moms (Crazy 8 Press), and “Unguarded” in Devilish and Divine (eSpec Books).

His other work includes media tie-in fiction in more than thirty different licensed universes from Alien to Zorro, as well as fiction in his own worlds, including fantastical police procedurals in the fictional cities of Cliff’s End and Super City, as well as urban fantasy tales in the somewhat real locales of Key West and New York City. He also writes pop-culture commentary, primarily for the award-winning site Tor.com, but also for various books and magazines.

Recent and upcoming work includes the novels Phoenix Precinct (the next in his series of police procedurals in an epic fantasy setting, from eSpec Books), Animal (a thriller written with Dr. Munish K. Batra, from WordFire), To Hell and Regroup (a military science fiction novel written with David Sherman, from eSpec Books), and the aforementioned Feat of Clay; short stories in the anthologies Pangaea Book 3: Redemption (Crazy 8), Footprints in the Stars (eSpec), Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles (Fantastic Books), and Turning the Tied (a charity anthology from the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers); and new graphic novels from TokyoPop in the world of Resident Evil, tying into the Netflix animated series Infinite Darkness.

Keith is also a third-degree black belt in karate (he both teaches and trains), a professional musician (currently percussionist for the parody band Boogie Knights), an editor of many years’ standing (though he usually does it sitting down), and probably some other stuff he can’t recall due to the lack of sleep. Find out less at his website at DeCandido.net.

eSPEC EXCERPTS – BREAKING THE CODE


We have another Systema Paradoxa title for you, Breaking the Code by David Lee Summers, a part of the Systema Paradoxa series created in conjunction with Cryptid Crate. It releases May 21, but you can pre-order it now via the link.


SP - Breaking the Code 2 x 3Chapter One

Friday, February 20, 1942

Cheryl Davis parked her Ford Coup in the Gallup High School parking lot and walked to the gym under leaden skies. 1942 was off to a dismal start. The United States had declared war against Japan and Germany and now they needed young men to fight their battles for them. As a teacher, she’d been asked to spread the word among former students who might want to enlist in the Marine Corps. The Marine recruiter who contacted her was himself a former student. He showed a special interest in recruiting Navajos well-versed in their native language. Cheryl was part Navajo, on her mother’s side, but most wouldn’t know it to look at her. She had inherited her strawberry-blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair skin from her father’s side of the family.

Cheryl entered the gym and found the bleachers full. The high school band played “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” She groaned as a tuba went flat for two notes, but no one else seemed to notice. The crowd cheered and whooped as the band finished the song.

The principal, Sherman Smith, stepped up to the mic. After a burst of feedback, he introduced Cheryl’s former student, Duke Ogawa. She smiled as the young man approached the mic. She had taught him during her first year at Gallup High. He’d graduated five years ago. Now he wore a smart blue uniform with yellow and red sergeant’s stripes.

“It’s good to be back home,” Duke said. “I spent a lot of time in this gym learning teamwork and sportsmanship. I’m here today because I need people on my team for something far more important than beating Farmington in the basketball championships.” A cheer went up at that and Duke flashed a charming smile. “As you know, the United States is now at war and Uncle Sam needs your Tiger pride and your Tiger courage to defeat the Japanese and the Germans.”

“So why does the Marine Corps send a Japanese man to recruit Diné to do their dirty work?” A hush fell over the crowd and all eyes turned to a teacher named Frances Todachine. Cheryl noted the woman used the name the Navajos used for themselves. It was shorthand for the story of how five-fingered people came into the world. The small, wiry Navajo woman had earned a grudging respect around the school because she worked with known troublemakers and helped them find jobs around town when they graduated. Murmurs spread throughout the auditorium. Miss Todachine’s words seemed to have struck a chord with the audience.

Duke’s smile didn’t falter. He waited for the murmuring to die down, then responded with the certainty that had always served him well on the school’s debate team. “Ma’am, my parents were born in Los Angeles and moved to Gallup during the last big war to open a feed store. Their action helped feed the troops. The United States is the only country I’ve known. It’s my country.”

Cheryl clapped her hands at the succinct, polite response. Soon other people around the gym joined in. An icy chill went down her spine and she glanced toward Miss Todachine. The woman glared at her for a moment, then turned her attention back to Duke.

“Why should Navajos give their lives for a country that killed so many of them?” Miss Todachine shouted so she could be heard over the applause.

The applause ceased and the murmurs resumed.

Another Marine joined Duke at the mic. Cheryl didn’t recognize him. “My name is Sergeant Randall Yazzie. My people live over in Arizona, near Show Low.” A hush fell over the crowd. The man wasn’t a local like Duke, but he was Diné like many people in the audience. “I joined the United States Marine Corps because it gave me the chance to fight for my homeland. Adolf Hitler and Emperor Hirohito want to take our country away from us and we can keep that from happening.”

Miss Todachine scowled but fell silent. She couldn’t be more than a year or two older than Cheryl, but she carried herself like a much older woman. Several young Navajos huddled with the history teacher and spoke in hushed tones while Duke and Randall continued their presentation. The recruiters highlighted the rewards a soldier could expect, including good pay, regular meals, a pension, and lifetime medical coverage. Cheryl knew these things would all sound good to families who had scraped by through the Great Depression. Although Western New Mexico had been spared the dust storms that plagued the eastern part of the state, Navajos had still suffered through a bad drought.

“You’ll get valuable training in the Marines that will help you find a good job after the war,” Duke said.

Duke and Randall wrapped up their presentation and mentioned they would go to the gym’s foyer and sign up anyone who wanted to enlist. “We’ll be back on Monday to make another presentation,” Randall said. “Be sure to tell your friends. We’re interested in any recruits between the ages of eighteen and forty-four. A bus will pick up those who enlist a week from Monday. It’ll take you to Fort Wingate to be sworn in and then we’ll catch the train to San Diego where you’ll enter boot camp.”

They opened the floor to questions. Cheryl feared that Miss Todachine would try to cause more trouble. She couldn’t quite understand her fellow teacher’s objections. She knew relations between the Navajo—all American Indians, really—and the United States had been strained by westward expansion. She understood the bitterness, but did Miss Todachine really believe that Hitler or Hirohito would be better leaders than Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

Once the question-and-answer session finished, people filed out of the gymnasium into the foyer. Duke and Randall sat at their table and walked a handful of young men through the enlistment process. Cheryl hung back, hoping to speak to Duke. One of her current students, Jerry Begay, approached the recruiters. She couldn’t hear what they said to each other, but they shook hands and Jerry signed a piece of paper.

She looked around and noticed Frances Todachine along with a half dozen Navajos standing in the shadows. They also seemed interested in Jerry Begay’s conversation with the recruiters. His family had a hogan a short distance from town where they raised sheep. They may be poor, but Jerry’s grandmother was a respected matriarch in the Rock Gap clan and he was a good, well-liked student. People paid attention to Jerry and expected him to go far.

As Jerry Begay stepped away from the table, Miss Todachine and her followers seemed to lose interest. They stalked off into the cold night.

That was odd. Miss Todachine wore a fur coat—a strange choice for a Navajo. Most Diné considered wearing a predator’s pelt taboo. Then again, Cheryl couldn’t see the coat well in the dim lighting. It could well have been rabbit or imitation fur. Even with her fair skin, Cheryl wouldn’t wear fur at a gathering with so many Diné. There could be talk that the person wearing the fur might practice witchcraft. Though Cheryl was only part Navajo, she had grown up here. She knew the legend of the skinwalkers, witches who sought the knowledge of magic for power, not healing. Whether she believed or not, she would never give the community a reason to wonder about her the way Miss Todachine did.

Cheryl made a point of stopping Jerry Begay on his way out. “Did you just sign up?”

He flashed her a broad smile. “Yes, ma’am.”

“I’m pleased you want to defend your country, but don’t you think it would be a good idea to finish your high school diploma first?”

He shrugged. “I’m eighteen. I don’t need my diploma to enlist. What I’ll get from the Marines is more than the diploma will be worth. Plus, they said I’d get extra pay because I speak Navajo.”

Cheryl narrowed her gaze. “Did they say why that would give you extra pay?”

Jerry shook his head. “I should get going, my parents want me home before it gets too late.”

Cheryl sighed and nodded. “Have a good night. Will I see you in class on Monday?”

He nodded. “I’ll be there. The bus won’t come through for new recruits for another week.”

“Good.”

As Jerry left the gym, Cheryl began to wonder if Miss Todachine was right to question these recruiters.

“Penny for your thoughts?”

Duke Ogawa’s voice made her jump. He no longer sat behind the recruiting table, but had come up behind her.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you, Miss Davis.”

Cheryl put her hand to her chest and smiled. “It’s good to see you, Duke. It looks like the Corps is treating you well.”

He nodded and smiled. “Actually, my enlistment ended last month, but I signed on again after Pearl Harbor.”

Cheryl sighed. “Yeah, it’s a bad business and I’m glad the United States is finally taking a stand against the fascists and the imperialists, but…” Her voice trailed off as she followed the direction Jerry had gone.

“You don’t like seeing kids as young as Jerry Begay signing up for war,” he guessed.

She nodded.

Duke led Cheryl back to the table and introduced his partner. “Randall Yazzie, this is Miss Cheryl Davis, she was my math teacher here my senior year.”

“Pleased to meet you, ma’am” Yazzie said. “Call me Rand. So, who was that woman with the smart mouth?”

“Oh, that’s Frances Todachine.” Cheryl shrugged. “She’s a history teacher. She actually does good work with a lot of the kids. She helps them find jobs.”

“I got a strange feeling from her.” Rand shook his head. “I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there was something more than concern going on there.”

“Yeah, she had a chip on her shoulder. She was looking for a fight,” Duke said.

“Single woman, a group of close followers, all men,” Rand mused. “Back home, there’d be talk…”

Cheryl snorted a laugh. “You don’t think she’s having an affair with any of those young men, do you?”

Rand shook his head. “That wouldn’t be the worst of it.” He leaned in close and whispered. “They’d be talking witchcraft.”

~*~

As Jerry Begay drove home from the recruitment rally at the high school, snow began to fall. At first just a few light flurries drifted through the air, then the flakes fell heavier as he cleared the city limits and drove the ten miles south to his family’s land. Smoke wafting from the stovepipe poking from his family hogan’s roof gratified him. It would be warm inside. His mother no doubt left some stew on the fire for him. He guessed two inches of snow already blanketed the ground by the time he walked from the pickup to his front door.

The hogan was a small, cozy home. A cast-iron wood stove sat in the building’s center and the scents of lamb and vegetables simmering told him he had been correct about her having dinner ready for him.

“Yá’át’ééh,” his father said, speaking the traditional Diné greeting, which asked whether Jerry was well.

Jerry responded by saying he was well, “yá’ánísht’ééh,” and sat down at the table. His mother brought him a bowl of stew and he began to wolf it down.

“So, how was the meeting?” asked Jerry’s mother, Maria.

“Good,” Jerry said. “Lots of people showed up.” He took another bite, then swallowed. “I signed up.” He said the last quietly.

Jerry’s father, Javier, frowned. “We need you here on the farm this season more than ever.”

“You need to finish your high school diploma,” his mother chastened.

“I’ll earn money faster in the military and I’ll get skills that can help me after I’m back.” Everything the recruiters had said about joining up sounded better than continuing to feed sheep and take boring old classes. “Besides, if people don’t go, evil men like Adolf Hitler will send his soldiers to take our lands away from us.”

“It has happened before, and we have survived.” His father sounded tired.

“You sound like that history teacher at school, Miss Todachine.” Jerry scooped up the last of his stew.

His mother’s jaw tightened. “Don’t speak her name in this house.”

“What?” Jerry shrugged. “She’s just a loud-mouthed do-gooder. She found a job for John Claw, of all people. I thought the sheriff would throw him in jail for sure.”

Maria Begay nodded. “She consorts with all kinds of troublemakers and keeps them from finding justice. She spends way too much time with those high-school boys.”

Jerry snorted a laugh. “She’s not much older than we are. She’s gotta spend time with someone.” He took his bowl to a washtub near the wood stove and put it in to soak until the morning when it could be washed.

“Mark my words, she’s trouble,” Maria reiterated. She walked over to the woodstove and tossed in more wood from a nearby stack.

“When would you leave us?” Javier’s eyes narrowed.

“A bus will come through Gallup week after next. It’ll take us to Fort Wingate where we’ll be sworn in, then they’ll take us to San Diego for training.”

Javier grunted. “California is very far. How long will you be away?”

“Three years,” Jerry said.

Maria put her hand to her chest. “So long?”

Jerry held out his hands. “I’ll talk to the guys at school. I can find someone to help you here on the farm.” He walked over and gathered his mother up into his arms. For the first time he could remember, she looked sad and frail.

“Our need for help is not our main concern,” Jerry’s father said. “We’ll miss you.”

Jerry gave his mother a squeeze then sat down opposite his father. “If this were the old days, warriors would be sent out to meet a threat. This is no different.”

Javier pursed his lips and nodded. “I suppose you’re right…”

“But three years?” His mom shook her head.

“I’ll write,” Jerry promised. “And if you guys ever let them install a telephone out here, I could probably call now and then.”

“We’ll consider it,” Maria said, “but only for this reason.”

Javier reached out and took his son’s hand. “We’ll miss you, but I understand why you believe this is necessary.” He stood and walked over to the bed. “Now, this snow is arguing with my bones. I think it’s time to get some sleep.”

The hogan didn’t allow much room for privacy. Many families had moved into homes in town, only to lose those homes during the Great Depression and return to traditional dwellings out on their land. Jerry’s family was one of those. His parents had a bed along one of the hogan’s walls. Jerry’s bed was along the wall across from it. They’d set up an old-fashioned privacy screen between the two. Jerry’s dad blew out the oil lamp next to him. Cloth rustled as Jerry’s parents changed into their nightclothes.

Jerry followed suit and climbed under a stack of warm blankets. Despite the snowstorm outside, he was snug in his family’s home. The idea of sharing a barracks with other soldiers didn’t bother him. His parents began to snore, and the wind whipped outside. His eyes grew heavy and he began to drift off to sleep.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

The tapping caused his eyes to spring open. No trees grew up against the hogan to cause the noise. He listened. Maybe he’d just dreamed the sound as he’d started to drift off to sleep. His parents still snored. Whatever he had heard, it hadn’t awakened them. His eyelids grew heavy again.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Again, Jerry’s eyes sprang open. The tapping resumed. It sounded like it came from the wall beside him. He tried to picture the outside of the hogan. He didn’t think there was anything there but grass. The wall had been constructed from solid logs. Nothing light could make a tapping loud enough to wake him. He tried to dismiss it as his imagination.

Wide awake now, he thought more about the Marine Corps. He wondered what boot camp would be like. He had no doubt he would cut it. He’d been up early in the morning and working hard ever since his family moved back out to their traditional lands. His chest swelled with pride as he thought about continuing the long tradition of Navajo warriors.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

The sound returned. No doubt about it, this was no dream. He thought more about what could cause the tapping. He wondered if some wood had broken loose in the high winds, or if the roof had been damaged. It could probably wait until morning, but he thought he’d better go check it out. He wouldn’t get to sleep until he knew what it was. He shoved back the blankets, pulled on his trousers and heavy boots, and lit the lamp.

As he walked toward the door, he looked back at his parents. Still asleep. He went outside. The snow was coming down heavier than before and swirled in white eddies. He stayed close to the house, so as not to get lost in the storm, crunching through snow deeper than the tops of his boots. He reached the back wall of the octagonal structure, and inspected the building.

There were divots in the snow, as though an animal had been there and left. Had a sheep gotten loose and butted the wall?

He held up the lantern and looked around.

In the distance stood a tall figure on two legs. Its long ears lay back and it snarled, revealing long, sharp teeth. A forbidden word came to mind—a word as shocking as the vilest pornography. Although this did not involve ripping off clothes, it involved ripping off the very skin to reveal the monster underneath.

Yee naaldlooshii in the Diné language.

Skinwalker in English. It didn’t mean the same thing, but it sounded almost worse.

The creature turned and walked away.

He knew he should follow his path back to the front door, blow out his lantern, and forgot what he’d seen. Good sense almost prevailed, but curiosity got the better of him. He took a step away from the house and then another.

The skinwalker continued to prowl through the snow.

Jerry followed a few more steps.

The wind picked up. The snow came down faster until he lost sight of the creature.

He ran forward a few more steps, heart pounding furiously. The skinwalker had vanished.

The cold began to seep through his clothes. He needed to get back inside before the storm grew worse. All he had to do was keep a clear head, turn around and follow his path. When he turned, he could no longer see his footprints. He could no longer see the hogan. He should only be a few steps away. He began trudging the direction he thought home should be. Despite the cold, exhaustion came over him. It would be so good to lie down and go to sleep.


DLSummers

David Lee Summers is the author of a dozen novels and numerous short stories and poems. His most recent novels are the space pirate adventure, Firebrandt’s Legacy, 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, After Punk, and Gaslight and 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.  He’s also been known to drive lonely desert roads, watching for cryptids. Find David on the web at http://www.davidleesummers.com.

 

MAY NETGALLEY LISTINGS


It’s that time again. We’ve been running listings on NetGalley to promote the books and those listings certainly work better when you promote the listings themselves! So, this month we have two titles running and here’s a bit about them, along with the link to the NetGalley Listing.

For those not familar with NetGalley, it is a book listing site aimed toward librarians, booksellers, and reviewers. Anyone can sign up for a free account and request advance reader copies in exchange for posting review on blogs, GoodReads, Amazon, etc. For details, see the NetGalley site.

Click the below links to go to the NetGalley Listings for these titles.


FBMcP--FoxsFireTHE FOX’S FIRE: And Other Fantastic Tales  by Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Dance Among the Embers, But Don’t Get Burned…

From a kitsune slinking through the mists… to an elven champion tied to every crossroad in the moment of Midnight… to the heir of Underhill ruling the road on a Harley, the mystical and magical intersect nearly unrealized with the world of man.

Do you dare to walk among them with open eyes? Do you seek a glimpse of their power? Take care and proceed with soft steps among the folk of magic and moonlight. Fickle is the least of what is said of them. But well worth the risk, for those looking for something more…

Includes the Stories The Fox’s Fire, The Promise of Death, The Devil in the Details, A Moment Out of Time, Forever and a Day, Crossroads and Curses, Mis En Place, and Mama Bear


SP - Breaking the Code 2 x 3BREAKING THE CODE by David Lee Summers

There are creatures lurking in our world. Obscure creatures long relegated to myth and legend. They have been sighted by a lucky—or unlucky—few, some have even been photographed, but their existence remains unproven and unrecognized by the scientific community.

These creatures, long thought gone, have somehow survived; creatures from our nightmares haunting the dark places. They swim in our lakes and bays, they soar the night skies, they hunt in the woods. Some are from our past, and some from other worlds, and others that have always been with us—watching us, fearing us, hunting us.

These are the cryptids, and Systema Paradoxa tells their tales.

***

1942. Gallup, New Mexico. Marine recruiters have come to town looking to fill their ranks with a secret weapon against the Axis powers—what would become Navajo Code Talkers—but not everyone supports the prospect of young native men going off to war.

When one new recruit is found dead, and a rancher’s cattle are mutilated, whispers of witchcraft and skinwalker filter through the town and interest in enlisting wanes. Is there evil afoot, or is that just what opponents to the cause want everyone to think?

Whether guided by magic, mischief, or malevolence, without a doubt, nothing is as it seems…

COVER REVEAL – BREAKING THE CODE


A part of the Systema Paradoxa series under eSpec’s new NeoParadoxa imprint, this is Breaking the Code by David Lee Summers. A cryptid novella based on the skinwalker.


SP - Breaking the Code 2 x 3

There are creatures lurking in our world. Obscure creatures long relegated to myth and legend. They have been sighted by a lucky—or unlucky—few, some have even been photographed, but their existence remains unproven and unrecognized by the scientific community.

These creatures, long thought gone, have somehow survived; creatures from our nightmares haunting the dark places. They swim in our lakes and bays, they soar the night skies, they hunt in the woods. Some are from our past, and some from other worlds, and others that have always been with us—watching us, fearing us, hunting us.

These are the cryptids, and Systema Paradoxa tells their tales.

***

1942. Gallup, New Mexico. Marine recruiters have come to town looking to fill their ranks with a secret weapon against the Axis powers—what would become Navajo Code Talkers—but not everyone supports the prospect of young native men going off to war.

When one new recruit is found dead, and a rancher’s cattle are mutilated, whispers of witchcraft and skinwalker filter through the town and interest in enlisting wanes. Is there evil afoot, or is that just what opponents to the cause want everyone to think?

Whether guided by magic, mischief, or malevolence, without a doubt, nothing is as it seems…


DLSummers

David Lee Summers is the author of a dozen novels and numerous short stories and poems. His most recent novels are the space pirate adventure, Firebrandt’s Legacy, 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, After Punk, and Gaslight and 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.  He’s also been known to drive lonely desert roads, watching for cryptids. Find David on the web at http://www.davidleesummers.com.

eSPEC EXCERPTS – GONE TO GROUND


Yes… there is a theme here. Aaron Rosenberg’s Gone to Ground (Systema Paradoxa Vol. 2) released three days ago and we are so excited we have to share it with you. Today we have a brief excerpt for your enjoyment.


SP - Gone to Ground 2 x 3Chapter One

Everyone always agreed that, whatever else you might say about him, Trevor Kinkaid threw an excellent party. His house was of the larger variety, being done in the old style with high, vaulted ceilings, handsome inlaid floors, and a wide, sweeping staircase. It sat by the edge of the woods on one side and the sea on the other, thus taking advantage of both soothing sea air and welcoming shade. There were always plenty of spare bedrooms for those who imbibed too heavily and needed to be put up for the night. It was also a mark of distinction that it was even possible to imbibe, for Trevor was one of those who did not hold with Prohibition. He had no compunctions about acquiring whiskey and other potables from Canada and then making them freely available to his friends, or at least to those who chose to accept his frequent weekend invitations. He also stocked a good deal of food and nonalcoholic beverages, all of it of the highest quality, and as a result, his parties were the highlight of the season, and everyone made a point to attend.

This particular evening was no exception. The house was nearly full of people, or at least there were some in every room, so that while one could certainly still move around freely, it was also a bit of a challenge to find more than a moment of privacy. The women, mostly young and pretty, wore the latest fashions, with fringes and beads aplenty. Fascinators and feathers bobbed in time to their conversation, while cigarette holders dangled from their gloved fingers as they gestured. Their other hands cradled martini glasses, which they occasionally raised to brightly painted lips, hints of jasmine and rose and sandalwood and vanilla drifting about them. The men were either young and dashing or older and distinguished, dressed smartly in ascots and brightly polished shoes. Pipes or cigars outnumbered cigarettes, while martini glasses were as   prevalent as heavy cut-glass tumblers. Laughter and conversation rose everywhere, while music played from radios and record players, a different tune in every space but somehow not at all discordant, as if all the songs together melded into a single larger melody like flowers in a bouquet forming a harmonious whole.

Always the gracious host, Trevor drifted from room to room, carrying his habitual coffee mug rather than any actual glassware, pipe clamped firmly between his teeth, perhaps a touch paunchy now, his hair beginning to thin from its former thick waves, but his whiskers still neatly trimmed, his jaw still mostly firm, still a striking presence in his traditional red velvet smoking jacket. He knew most of his guests by name and always stopped to speak to each one, inquiring after their health, their recent pastimes—most of his guests were not so gauche as to have anything like an actual job!—their travels, and so forth before moving on with a smile and an encouragement to avail themselves fully of his hospitality.

It did not go unnoticed, of course, that for many of these perambulations, Trevor was not unaccompanied. This was nothing new, for he was still a handsome man and a charming one, if a trifle overbearing, and possessed of a fortune well in keeping with his grand home. Women were always eager to win his attention, and Trevor himself was more than happy to grant them such notice, for as long as it—and they—continued to amuse him.

At most parties, however, he played more of the gadfly, moving from lady to lady as easily as he went from room to room. Thus, the fact that one particular lady wandered with him for much of this evening drew some attention and a good deal of gossip. All of which seemed to entertain Trevor himself, while the lady appeared alternately flustered and determined to act as if oblivious of the whispers that trailed behind her like ribbons fluttering on the breeze.

Her name, it was gathered, was Lisette Barnes. She was from somewhere in the region, which is to say New England, and her manner and posture spoke of good breeding even if her robin’s egg-hued dress was only barely still in fashion, her scent more clean soap than expensive perfume, and her beads of polished stone rather than pearl. Still, she was striking with her bright blue eyes, pert nose, petaled lips, and feathered blonde hair, and she did appear to enjoy Trevor’s attentions, although there were those who wondered after they had disappeared from view whether indeed the pair were walking together or whether Lisette preceded their host, much like a scout before a patrol—or a lamb fleeing a wolf.

Still, no one heard her say a word to rebuff his advances, nor did anyone think that Trevor could be anything but gracious, even in defeat. Thus, when the couple failed to turn up in the next room after a time, those whose presence they had just vacated smirked amongst themselves, giggling and whispering and glancing furtively toward the upstairs, in the direction of Trevor’s grand master bedroom.

When Trevor did reappear, however, it was not by descending the stairs, nor did he look triumphant. Indeed, he wandered into the sitting room in something of a daze, his face red and beaded with sweat, mud spattering his trouser cuffs. He went straight to the sideboard and poured himself a stiff drink, adding it directly to his mug and downing the lot in a single go.

Of the young lady, there was no sign.

After a few moments, he seemed to collect himself again and began to glance around, smiling and engaging in small talk with those guests nearby, his voice slowly returning to its customary volume and cheer, the furrows in his brow and by his eyes steadily easing.

He was his usual self again, all geniality and consideration, by the time they heard the screams.


AaronRosenberg

Aaron Rosenberg is the author of the best-selling DuckBob SF comedy series, the Relicant Chronicles epic fantasy series, the Dread Remora space-opera series, and—with David Niall Wilson—the O.C.L.T. occult thriller series. Aaron’s tie-in work contains novels for Star Trek, Warhammer, World of WarCraft, Stargate: Atlantis, Shadowrun, Eureka, Mutants & Masterminds, and more. He has written children’s books (including the original series STEM Squad and Pete and Penny’s Pizza Puzzles, the award-winning Bandslam: The Junior Novel, and the #1 best-selling 42: The Jackie Robinson Story), educational books on a variety of topics, and over seventy roleplaying games (such as the original games Asylum, Spookshow, and Chosen, work for White Wolf, Wizards of the Coast, Fantasy Flight, Pinnacle, and many others, and both the Origins Award-winning Gamemastering Secrets and the Gold ENnie-winning Lure of the Lich Lord). He is the co-creator of the ReDeus series, and a founding member of Crazy 8 Press. Aaron lives in New York with his family. You can follow him online at gryphonrose.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/gryphonrose, and on Twitter @gryphonrose.

 

COVER REVEAL – GONE TO GROUND


Releasing in two day, Gone to Ground by Aaron Rosenberg. This is the second volume in our brand new series Systema Paradoxa, released under the NeoParadoxa imprint. The series–created in conjunction with Cryptid Crate–is a collection of novellas featuring obscure cryptids. This volume was featured in the April Cryptid Crate, which contained exclusive content created specifically for that box.

SP - Gone to Ground 2 x 3

There are creatures lurking in our world. Obscure creatures long relegated to myth and legend. They have been sighted by a lucky—or unlucky—few, some have even been photographed, but their existence remains unproven and unrecognized by the scientific community.

These creatures, long thought gone, have somehow survived; creatures from our nightmares haunting the dark places. They swim in our lakes and bays, they soar the night skies, they hunt in the woods. Some are from our past, and some from other worlds, and others that have always been with us—watching us, fearing us, hunting us.

These are the cryptids, and Systema Paradoxa tells their tales.

***

In the heyday of the Roaring Twenties, Trevor Kinkaid’s house parties were the highlight of the social season, with lively music, the most fashionable of clothes, excellent food, and, of course, illicit drink.

Not just the place to see and be seen, but the place to be noticed.

But when a fresh new face catches Trevor’s eye and she later turns up dead, no one sees a thing. Or do they? As the cream of society look on their host with speculation, his protests of innocence fall on jaded ears.

Even with some unexpected help, can the local detective unearth the truth in time? Or will the real perpetrator go to ground?

 


AaronRosenberg

Aaron Rosenberg is the author of the best-selling DuckBob SF comedy series, the Relicant Chronicles epic fantasy series, the Dread Remora space-opera series, and—with David Niall Wilson—the O.C.L.T. occult thriller series. Aaron’s tie-in work contains novels for Star Trek, Warhammer, World of WarCraft, Stargate: Atlantis, Shadowrun, Eureka, Mutants & Masterminds, and more. He has written children’s books (including the original series STEM Squad and Pete and Penny’s Pizza Puzzles, the award-winning Bandslam: The Junior Novel, and the #1 best-selling 42: The Jackie Robinson Story), educational books on a variety of topics, and over seventy roleplaying games (such as the original games Asylum, Spookshow, and Chosen, work for White Wolf, Wizards of the Coast, Fantasy Flight, Pinnacle, and many others, and both the Origins Award-winning Gamemastering Secrets and the Gold ENnie-winning Lure of the Lich Lord). He is the co-creator of the ReDeus series, and a founding member of Crazy 8 Press. Aaron lives in New York with his family. You can follow him online at gryphonrose.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/gryphonrose, and on Twitter @gryphonrose.

NETGALLEY POSTINGS – APRIL


Reviews are important for a book, but there are things more important than nice words. NetGalley offers the opportunity to get a title noticed not only by reviewers, but also librarians and booksellers. The service is used by publishers and authors at all levels and business models, from the big houses to the smallest.

It isn’t free to post, but many writers organizations have paid for memberships that allow them to post so many titles a month and they then ‘sublet’ those slots to members and the outside publishing community for a marginal fee.

This is invaluable to independent publishers and authors, who likely don’t release enough titles in a month to justify an ongoing membership, which can be costly.

eSpec Books makes use of an application offered by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and while there is no guarantee a title will receive reviews–or that the reviews it does receive are favorable–there is generally some noticable impact on future sales. Certainly enough to justify the $30 sublet fee.

As far as how NetGalley works, for those not familiar with it, if you have an account you can request titles for review. Those listing the titles will evaluate your request and determine if they will grant it. It is free to sign up for a NetGalley account and anyone can do so, but your responses on where you post reviews and how quickly and often you post them will contribute to whether or not your request for a particular title is approve.


This month, we have posted two titles (click the below links to request these titles on NetGalley):

Proof-KindlyOneThe Kindly One by Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Guilt, the venom running through humanity’s veins,
The cancer eating mankind’s soul.
Death, both courted and earned, well fed upon denial.

Balanced on the delicate edge between madness and damnation, clarity comes to us all. There is one thing more terrifying than the darkness at the edge of your vision staring back. The seed of that darkness peering from within your heart. What is real? What is imagined?

Right, or wrong, the price of your answer is your soul.

Includes the Stories:

The Kindly One, Skippy, Ruby Red, The Carrier, The Forest of a Thousand Lost Souls, Uncast Shadows, In the Dying Light, Burning Conviction, Purgatory

 


SP - Gone to Ground 2 x 3Gone to Ground by Aaron Rosenberg

There are creatures lurking in our world. Obscure creatures long relegated to myth and legend. They have been sighted by a lucky—or unlucky—few, some have even been photographed, but their existence remains unproven and unrecognized by the scientific community.

These creatures, long thought gone, have somehow survived; creatures from our nightmares haunting the dark places. They swim in our lakes and bays, they soar the night skies, they hunt in the woods. Some are from our past, and some from other worlds, and others that have always been with us—watching us, fearing us, hunting us.

These are the cryptids, and Systema Paradoxa tells their tales.

***

In the heyday of the Roaring Twenties, Trevor Kinkaid’s house parties were the highlight of the social season, with lively music, the most fashionable of clothes, excellent food, and, of course, illicit drink.

Not just the place to see and be seen, but the place to be noticed.

But when a fresh new face catches Trevor’s eye and she later turns up dead, no one sees a thing. Or do they? As the cream of society look on their host with speculation, his protests of innocence fall on jaded ears.

Even with some unexpected help, can the local detective unearth the truth in time? Or will the real perpetrator go to ground?