SNEAK PEEK – THE SISTER PARADOX BY JACK CAMPBELL


An Excerpt from The Sister Paradox by Jack Campbell, now funding on Kickstarter.


Chapter One

With death on four legs and two wings heading straight for me, I finally turned to run, but slipped on the loose rocks and bare dirt on the edge of the large hollow.  I caught a brief sideways glimpse of the charred, dead trees standing bare-limbed around the hollow as I landed on my shoulder, then I started cart-wheeling down the slope accompanied by a shower of rocks, pebbles and dust.  The slope seemed a lot longer that it had looked, but that was probably just because I was picking up fresh bruises on every bounce of the way down.  Finally I slid to a stop at the bottom, accompanied by a pile of rubble and a cloud of dust that kept choking me while I tried to make the world stop going around in dizzy circles.

I’d just about managed to stop coughing and start seeing straight again when the dragon I’d been trying to run away from in the first place came slamming down to earth a few feet from me.  Yeah, that’s right, a dragon.  The earth quivered from the impact, making the little collection of rocks and pebbles I’d brought down the slope with me jump around like they were panicking.  The bones of some of the things unfortunate enough to have gotten here well before me, which carpeted the bottom of the hollow, quivered as if given a few seconds more of life to be afraid.  Up close, the dragon looked even bigger than I’d first thought, especially when it hissed and spread its jaws really wide.  I hadn’t managed to get up, but I tried to backpedal away.  The dragon just took two steps and stood right over me, jaws gapping.

If you’re like me you’ve probably played one of those video games that claims to be totally realistic.  Don’t believe it.  Having a real dragon standing over you with its jagged teeth dripping saliva is very, very different from whatever thrills you get out of a game.  If there’d been an escape key I’d have been punching it like crazy just then.

The dragon reared back a little and prepared to chow down on me.  I just stared at it, unable to move and unable to think of any way out of this mess.

Did I mention that I wouldn’t be in this mess if it wasn’t for my sister?

Did I mention that I don’t have a sister?

#

I guess I should start at the beginning.  Like, this morning. 

There’s two things you have to know about me right from the start.  First, my name is Liam.  Liam Eagan.  Second, I don’t have a sister.  Or a brother.  I’m the only kid in the family, the only kid my mother and father have ever had.  It’s been that way all my life, and it hasn’t been all that bad.  I mean, sometimes I’d wish I had a brother to toss a ball back and forth or something like that, but I had friends I could hang around with instead.  I never wished I had a sister.  No way.  Never.

There are advantages to being an only kid.  No competition, for one thing.  No fighting for the bathroom, or having someone else pawing my stuff, or complaining that they wanted something else to eat tonight when I wanted pizza.  No one else asking mom and dad for expensive but important junk.  Just me.  All in all, life was pretty good for sixteen year old Liam Eagan. 

This morning started off as usual.  I lay in bed awhile after the alarm went off, took my time getting ready because I knew I wouldn’t have anyone else hogging the bathroom, and slid down the stairs and into the kitchen with just enough time to spare. 

Mom was already there, going over some stuff related to her job selling real estate.  She gave me a quick glance.  “About time you got down here.  You’re going to be late for school.”

“No way,” I assured her while I pulled out a box of cereal.

“Yes, way.  Hurry your breakfast, mister,” Mom ordered me.

I shrugged and dug in the cereal box until I had a handful, then shoveled it into my mouth before answering.  “Okay, okay,” I mumbled around my mouthful.

She gave me that look that moms get sometimes.  “Nice.  What happens when someone else in this house wants to eat that cereal?”

“You told me to hurry up, and nobody else in this house eats that cereal,” I pointed out, quite reasonably I think.  “You eat that twigs and bark stuff and Dad just has coffee in the morning.”

“That’s not the point,” Mom informed me.  “Besides, what if we had a guest?”

That reminded me.  “Hey, speaking of that, when can I have the spare bedroom?”

Mom looked baffled, though I couldn’t imagine why.  “The spare bedroom?  You want to move into the spare bedroom?”

“I want the spare bedroom, yeah”

“What’s wrong with your bedroom?”

“Nothing.”

She waited as if thinking I needed to say something else, then sort of frowned at me.  “Why do you want to move out of your bedroom and into the spare bedroom?”  Mom said the words really slowly as if she thought I’d have trouble understanding them.

“I don’t.  I don’t want the spare bedroom as a bedroom.”  Mom just kept waiting, so I explained even though it should’ve been obvious.  “I need a place to hang out.  You know, a room where I can play video games and music and stuff with my friends.”

“You mean like your bedroom.”

“No!  Give me a break, mom.  I need another room for that stuff.”

She just leaned back and stared at me.  Finally, after several seconds, Mom shook her head.  “Just what makes you think you can have two bedrooms for yourself?”

“Because there’s no one else using the spare bedroom.”  Which was perfectly true.  I didn’t see how Mom could argue with that.  “And it’s not like you and Dad are doing anything with it.”

Mom buried her face in her hands for a moment, I guess while she thought about what I’d said.  “And where would guests stay when they come here?”

“There’s that new hotel a few miles away.”

She raised her face and stared at me again.  “You want our guests to shell out money for a hotel and have to drive several miles to and from here to see us each day while you use the spare bedroom to do things you can do perfectly well in your own bedroom?”

The way Mom said it made it sound like I was being unreasonable.  “If it’s all that big a deal-”

“It’s that big a deal.”  Mom leaned forward.  “Hello, Earth to Mr. Liam Eagan.  Have I got your attention?  Listen carefully.  You are not the only person in the world.”

I knew that.  “I know that!”

“You won’t be getting the spare bedroom to use as a playroom.  Forget it.”

“All right, all right!”  Obviously, I’d have to work on this a bit before Mom and Dad gave in.  “But when we get the new TV-”  

“Mister, you’ve got plenty of toys as it is.”

Calling my stuff toys was not cool, but it did remind me of something.  “Oh, yeah, I also need a new phone.”

“A new phone?”  Mom shook her head.  “The one you’ve got is less than a year old.”

“It’s eight months old!  There’s a new model out with better memory!  If I want to use the newest apps I need–“

“You don’t need anything, Liam,” Mom interrupted.  “You want more stuff.”

Oh, here it comes.  The lecture about kids starving in Sudan, like that has anything to do with me.

But the clock in the living room bonged, causing Mom to check the time and dash for the door.  “Don’t be late for school!”

“No problem.”  And it wasn’t.  I’ve got the walk timed down to the second.  I slid through the school door just before the bell rang.

Bill, my best friend, socked my shoulder.  “Dude.”

“Dude.  Looking forward to playing Demon Disaster in death match mode after school?”

Bill shook his head.  “Nah.  Sorry.”

“No?”  I made a grabbing gesture toward him with both hands.  “No?  We’ve been planning this since Monday, remember?”

“I know, I know.”  Bill waved my hands away.  “I’m stuck at home watching my little bro.”

“Can’t you ditch him?”

“He’s three years old.  He needs me.  My parents are counting on me to watch him.”

“So?  I made plans!”

Bill shook his head again.  “Sorry.  If you had a brother or a sister you might understand.  Listen, you can come over to my place-”

“You don’t have the latest game console!  And your little brother would be nagging at us!  How am I supposed to have fun while you -?”

“Look, we have to get together somehow to go over those book reports.”

I hauled my mind away from sulking about no dual-Demon Disaster play tonight.  “Book reports?”

“Yeah.”  Bill squinted at me like he wasn’t sure I was serious.  “Liam, the book reports are due tomorrow.  We agreed that I’d read the first half of the book and you’d read the second half, and then we’d get together to write our reports.”

“When was this?”

“About three weeks ago!”

Like I’m supposed to remember something I said three weeks ago?  “I’ll look something up on the web.  Some, uh, notes or something –“

Bill interrupted me, looking seriously upset.  “You know Mr. Weedle checks stuff against online sources to see if it’s been copied!  You know he insists on details from the books that aren’t in online sources so he can be sure we read the books!  How could you let me down this way?  You promised me, man!”

“I don’t remember saying-  Look, I’ll get it read, and I’ll call you tonight early enough so we can both get the reports done.  Happy?”

“You’re almost done reading your half?” Bill asked.

“Uh, yeah.”  What’s two hundred pages of small type?  I could skim through that in, say, half an hour.  “I’ll call you by…eight o’clock and–“

“Eight o’clock?  Try seven.”

“That won’t leave me much time to play Demon Disaster before I start homework,” I complained.

His face got a little red as Bill answered me.  “Dude, sometimes the world does not revolve around you.”

I should have known this day was going to be strange when my best friend started sounding like my mom.  “What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked as we walked to English class.  It’s not like Bill had put himself out when something important like playing a new game with me was involved.

Then Caithlyn went by and I perked up real fast.  “Hey!”

She glanced at me, then away.  “Hey, yourself.”

“Uh…”  But Caithlyn was already heading off down the hall while I stood there trying to think of something cool to say.

“Wow,” Bill whispered to me sarcastically, “she is so into you.”

“She just has to get to know me better.”

“She does know you.”

“What does that mean?”

“You don’t spend a lot of time worrying about other people, you know,” Bill replied, apparently still steamed at me over the game thing and the book report thing.

“I do, too!”  I tried to think of some examples of how much I worried about other people, but we reached the classroom before I came up with any.

I wanted to forget all about the book report, but Mr. Wheedle started English class by reminding everyone about it.  Like I needed another reminder.  Then he said if anyone needed extra time we should let him know now.

I could feel Bill looking at me, but I sort of shook my head and stared at my desk.  We could get it done.  Probably.  I mean, the report wasn’t due until tomorrow, so dealing with any problems could wait until tomorrow, couldn’t it?  And maybe something would happen like Mr. Weedle being sick or me being sick, or whatever.  Never stick your neck out if you don’t have to.  That’s what I always say.

In English we started learning about something called splitting infinitives, which sounded like it might be fun to do, especially since Mr. Weedle said some grammarians insisted we weren’t supposed to do it.  But it just turned out to be something about organizing sentences, which is boring if you ask me, and Weedle said it was okay with him if we did it, so what was the point? 

Boring, by the way, is Mr. Weedle’s specialty.  You’ve probably heard of teachers who can make any subject exciting and interesting.  Mr. Weedle is sort of the anti-matter version of that.  He could make anything boring.  It wasn’t really his fault, I guess.  The tests force all the English teachers to go over the same old books chosen by a bunch of people who think reading doesn’t count unless you have to force kids to do it. 

So instead of worrying about obscure grammar rules and about society in a small town in 18th century England, I was thinking about what size TV to put in the spare bedroom when my parents gave in.  But then one of the school office assistants stuck her head in the classroom.  “Liam Eagan?”

Everybody looked at me, while I tried to think of anything I might’ve done lately.  Or something I maybe didn’t do and should’ve done.  Aside from the book report thing, that is.  Then Mr. Weedle pointed at me.

The office assistant made a “come here” gesture.  “You’re needed in the office.”  I started to get up.  “Bring all of your books.”

This looked bad, but I had no trouble looking confused instead of guilty, because I sure hadn’t done anything.  Bill had gotten over his attitude enough to give me a worried ‘what’d you do?’ look, but all I could do was shake my head to say I didn’t know as I gathered my books up and dumped them into my backpack.  The office assistant waited, tapping one finger on her arm impatiently until I got to the door, then led the way toward the office.

She led me right through the outside waiting area.  I was so worried by this time that I didn’t even notice if anyone was in there.  We went directly back to the principal’s office, where the assistant knocked, looked in, then waved me in and closed the door behind me. 

Ms. Lockridge was the sort of woman kids did not mess with.  She had this way of pinning you with her eyes so that you felt she was reading your thoughts and knew everything you had even dreamed of doing wrong.  She sat there at her desk and frowned at me so hard that I wanted to yell “I didn’t do it” even though I had no idea what “it” was. 

Finally, she pointed to her phone.  “We haven’t been able to contact your mother or your father, Mr. Eagan.”

That happens.  “Mom usually keeps her cell on, but when she’s doing real estate stuff she sometimes goes places where she can’t get coverage or has to shut off the phone.  And dad’s on a business trip out of town.”

“I see.  Since we’ve been unable to contact your parents,” Ms. Lockridge paused as if trying to prolong my agony, “you’ll have to take your sister home.”

Have you ever heard something that’s so completely strange that you just can’t understand a word of it?  This was like that.  I heard everything Ms. Lockridge said, every word as clear as a bell, and I couldn’t understand it at all.  Ms. Lockridge looked at me, waiting for me to say something, so finally I just said, “Excuse me?”

“I said that you’ll have to take your sister home.”

“My…sister?  Ms. Lockridge, I don’t have a sister.”


If you enjoyed this excerpt and would like to read more, please help us get this book funded. Make a pledge or spread the word, it all helps, and there are plenty of bonuses to be had, http://tiny.cc/Novels2016.

An interview with the author – AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – JACK CAMPBELL


thumbnail_jack-campbellJack Campbell (John G. Hemry) is the author of the New York Times best-selling Lost Fleet series, the Lost Stars series, and the “steampunk with dragons” Pillars of Reality Series. His most recent books are THE LOST STARS – SHATTERED SPEAR, THE LOST FLEET: BEYOND THE FRONTIER – LEVIATHAN, and the Pillars of Reality novels THE SERVANTS OF THE STORM and THE WRATH OF THE GREAT GUILDS. In May, VANGUARD will be published, the first in a new trilogy set centuries before the events in The Lost Fleet series. John’s novels have been published in eleven languages. This year, Titan will begin bringing out a Lost Fleet comic series. His short fiction includes works covering time travel, alternate history, space opera, military SF, fantasy, and humor.  

John has also written articles on declassified Cold War plans for US military bases on the Moon, and Liberating the Future: Women in the Early Legion (of Superheroes) in Sequart’s Teenagers From the Future. At somewhat erratic intervals he presents his talk on Everything I Needed To Know About Quantum Physics I Learned From The Three Stooges, showing how Stooge skits illustrate principles of quantum physics.  

John is a retired US Navy officer, who served in a wide variety of jobs including surface warfare (the ship drivers of the Navy), amphibious warfare, anti-terrorism, intelligence, and some other things that he’s not supposed to talk about. Being a sailor, he has been known to tell stories about Events Which He Says Really Happened (but which cannot be verified by any independent sources). This experience has served him well in writing fiction.  

He lives in Maryland with his indomitable wife “S” and three great kids (all three on the autism spectrum).


 

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT – RICHARD P. CLARK


eSpec Books interviews Richard P. Clark, cover artist for The Sister Paradox by Jack Campbell, now funding on Kickstarter, http://tiny.cc/Novels2016

 richard-clark

eSB: Welcome, Richard. Thank you for joining us. We are here to discuss your cover art for the novel The Sister Paradox. Can you tell us something of your process in coming up with the cover design?

RPC: Well, thank you for having me, eSpec Books. Literally wouldn’t be here without you. 🙂

Cover design jobs vary wildly. In this instance, I had a pretty specific set of parameters in which to work, so there wasn’t a ton of preliminary blue-sky thumbnailing.

eSB: You have a pretty diverse style, what are the different mediums you work in?

RPC:  You name it, I probably have worked in it or am willing to. I’ve worked with most traditional painting & drawing media and also ply my trade with digital art, both vector and digital “paint.”

eSB: Where do you find your inspiration when working on a new project?

RPC: Goodness, it can be almost anything. A piece of music, a news article, a piece of fiction or just the landscape outside my window. I honestly believe inspiration can be found almost anywhere for any kind of project–all it takes is keeping one’s mind open to accept a given stimulus as inspiring.

eSB: When you aren’t working on a commission, what art do you make for fun? Are you the type of artist that likes to tell a tale with a particular style or do you like to experiment?

RPC: If given my druthers, I’m still as wildly diverse when working for my own ends as I am when seeking assignments. While I do stop short of complete non-objective painting (it’s just not my personal thing), I do like to exaggerate and distort as much as I like to reign it in.

eSB: What is your favorite medium to work in and why?

RPC: If forced to pick, I’d stick with oil paint. It’s by far and away the most versatile and stretchable medium. (Driers can speed up the drying time, it works really well both thinned out and heavily applied–it can do most anything.)

eSB: How did you get into art?

RPC: Wow–that goes so far back that I can’t really remember. I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil, so it just must have been something that always made me happy.

eSB: This is not your first time creating cover art, can you tell us about some of your previous projects?

RPC: I’ve worked for a variety of clients in a variety of industries–institutional, editorial, book, advertising and comics–so the list is kind of nutty in its diversity. I’ve made art for HBO, Playboy, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and scads more. The types of art I’ve done range from super-exaggerated caricature (George Carlin’s “Complaints & Grievances” for HBO) to the more staid (observational landscapes for the Bergen County Zoo).

eSB: What was the most awesome project you ever worked on and why?

RPC: This one because it’s the most current! If I’m not super-stoked about what I’m working on, I worry about flubbing it. I try to maintain a high level of excitement for every current gig.

eSB: Could you tell us about one of your most amusing experiences promoting your work?

RPC: I got a call once from someone identifying himself as (name) from (publication). I politely said that I wasn’t interested in a subscription only to have the person say he was an art director for that publication & he was calling regarding one of my promotional pieces. I nearly died of embarrassment right on the spot.

Fortunately, we ended up working together on dozens of assignments together and we still stay in touch from time to time.

eSB: What is one thing you would share that would surprise our readers?

RPC: My right foot hurts as I type this as I broke a bone in it almost a week ago. I think I’ve covered for the limp while typing this pretty well…. 😉

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

RPC: Star! Please go to Kickstarter and look up “Star: 72-page series debut” in the search field. The project is two months behind right now–life and its unforeseen circumstances (argh)–however I’m posting fairly regular updates on it and will have ordering info for the post-fulfillment phase soon!

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

RPC: See above…. 🙂

eSB: How can our readers find out more about you?

RPC: Home base is zippystudio.com and I post pretty regularly on Twitter. Drop on in and say “hi!”

Richard P. Clark – Zippy Studio (The Sister Paradox)  Born in a crossfire hurricane (actually Cleveland, OH), Richard P. Clark’s illustration career began in 1993 while still an undergraduate at The Columbus College of Art and Design. Working in a variety of styles, his clients include HBO, Playboy, The Wall Street Journal, Duke University, Marvel, DC and Dark Horse comics among many others. 

Mr. Clark currently resides in Upstate NY with his wife, daughter and more pets than he’d like to have. 

You can find out more about Richard at zippystudio.com and follow him on Twitter @zipyrich.

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AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – JACK CAMPBELL


eSpec Books interviews Jack Campbell, author of The Sister Paradox, now funding on Kickstarter, http://tiny.cc/Novels2016 

 Jack Campbell

eSB: Hi Jack, thank you for joining us. We are here to talk about your upcoming novel, The Sister Paradox. Can you tell us a little about how you came to write this novel?

JC: One day I had a random thought about a boy meeting a sister he didn’t have.  I can’t remember anything that triggered it, just some scene about a guy trying to come to grips with meeting his non-existent sister.  Then I imagined him having to take her home to his mother, and how the mother would react to suddenly discovering that she had a teenage daughter.  After that, the whole rest of the story rolled out pretty fast.  

eSB: As an urban fantasy novel, this is a bit different from your usual fare of military science fiction or steampunk, what challenges did you face?

JC: In some ways this was a bit easier, sort of like being GM for a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.  I laid out the background for the player characters, set them onto their quest, encountering various puzzles and challenges and monsters on the way, and let them handle things.  The biggest challenge was remembering those heady, early days of D&D (I’ve got the original rules published in 1973 when I was pretty young and orcs were orcs) to build a proper quest for my characters.  The nice thing about writing SF or fantasy of any sort is that anything can be research.  You never know what might come in handy for a story.  So, experience with fencing helps understand sword fights, different myths of dragons gives different ways of seeing them, and so on.  The biggest challenge is always to combine things into a story and background that are unique yet familiar, and recruit characters who readers will want to follow through the story.

eSB: What inspired you to write a young adult novel? Is it something you’ve been kicking around for a while, or did the idea ambush you?

JC: It just hit me.  I’ve always been a fan of works like those of Andre Norton and Edgar Rice Burroughs and Heinlein’s juveniles, and perhaps those inspired this sort of adventure suddenly hitting someone head-on story.   My stories tend to be the sort that people of all ages can enjoy because that’s just the way I write.  The protagonists are sometimes older and sometimes younger, but adventure knows no age limits.

eSB: Did you do any research in preparation for writing The Sister Paradox? Can you tell us something about it?

JC: As I said earlier, everything is research.  Anyone writing about a setting like Kari’s world needs to have a good background in different mythologies of the world, mythical creatures, and how other authors have handled such stories and worlds in the past.  Aside from that, the biggest part for me in preparing to write is figuring out the rules for the story.  One thing that always bothers me in a story is if important things seem to be completely arbitrary.  Something has to be done because the plot demands it.  There’s a time limit that doesn’t seem to have any reason behind it.  That sort of thing.  So when I’m preparing a story I try to both lay out how things work in the story, and what can’t be done, because in the end what your characters can’t do can be more important than what they can do.  Just like in real life.  We are forced into difficult decisions because we can’t do something else that would be a lot easier.  It’s the same for characters in a story.  There need to be good, structural reasons why they can’t do common sense things to solve their problems without facing terrible challenges.  Why does the big thing need to be done?  Why does it have to be done now?  Why won’t various short-cuts work?  Even fantasy should feel real in the sense of “this could happen, and if it did it would work like this.”  That was Tolkien’s genius in The Lord of the Rings.  He treated his world as real, which meant what happened made sense, and that made it all the more powerful a story.

eSB: Was it difficult to shift gears from writing in adult heads to writing teen boys and girls?

JC: We never really leave high school, do we?  Those days and how we thought and the things we did stay with us.  (Even when we really wish we could forget a lot of them.)  I delved into those times, remembering how simple many things seemed and yet how complicated it all was, and how the world turned out to be a bit different from what it appeared during those years.  There’s an idealism that’s already being battered by experience, and an intensity of feelings that isn’t tempered by “been there, done that.”  And above all else, anything still seems to be possible.  Like having your world turned upside down, or actually living up to your dreams of doing something important.

eSB: Could you tell us about one of your most amusing experiences promoting your books?

JC: When I was going around to bookstores in the UK a couple of years ago, my British publisher (Titan) sent a young lady to make sure I didn’t get lost and showed up where I was supposed to when I was supposed to.  It turned out that she had been an extra in the last Harry Potter movie.  What had she played?  She was a Slytherin.  Once I thought about it, that made perfect sense.  Where else would publishers recruit from to find people willing to be editors?

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

JC: My Pillars of Reality series (“YA Dystopian Steampunk Fantasy SciFi Action-Adventure Romance” starting with The Dragons of Dorcastle), my Lost Fleet series (space opera/military SF starting with Dauntless), and my Lost Stars series (more space opera/military SF) beginning with Tarnished Knight.  

eSB: What other projects  do you have coming up?

JC: There are two trilogies in the works.  One is The Genesis Fleet trilogy, set in the Lost Fleet universe centuries before the events in the Lost Fleet.  It covers the period when humanity was rapidly expanding into that part of space, and has a bit of a wild west feel to it.  The first book in that trilogy is Vanguard, due out in May.  The other is the Legacy trilogy, a follow-on to the Pillars of Reality series.  The first book in that series will be Daughter of Dragons and should come out from Audible around the first of the year.  Plus the Lost Fleet comics, the first edition of which is currently planned for early 2017.

 

Jack Campbell (John G. Hemry) is the author of the New York Times best-selling Lost Fleet series, the Lost Stars series, and the “steampunk with dragons” Pillars of Reality Series. His most recent books are THE LOST STARS – SHATTERED SPEAR, THE LOST FLEET: BEYOND THE FRONTIER – LEVIATHAN, and the Pillars of Reality novels THE SERVANTS OF THE STORM and THE WRATH OF THE GREAT GUILDS. In May, VANGUARD will be published, the first in a new trilogy set centuries before the events in The Lost Fleet series. John’s novels have been published in eleven languages. This year, Titan will begin bringing out a Lost Fleet comic series. His short fiction includes works covering time travel, alternate history, space opera, military SF, fantasy, and humor.  

John has also written articles on declassified Cold War plans for US military bases on the Moon, and Liberating the Future: Women in the Early Legion (of Superheroes) in Sequart’s Teenagers From the Future. At somewhat erratic intervals he presents his talk on Everything I Needed To Know About Quantum Physics I Learned From The Three Stooges, showing how Stooge skits illustrate principles of quantum physics.  

John is a retired US Navy officer, who served in a wide variety of jobs including surface warfare (the ship drivers of the Navy), amphibious warfare, anti-terrorism, intelligence, and some other things that he’s not supposed to talk about. Being a sailor, he has been known to tell stories about Events Which He Says Really Happened (but which cannot be verified by any independent sources). This experience has served him well in writing fiction.  

He lives in Maryland with his indomitable wife “S” and three great kids (all three on the autism spectrum).

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Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/172583651591/?pnref=lhc  and

https://www.facebook.com/john.hemry

Amazon Author Page –

https://www.amazon.com/Jack-Campbell/e/B001H6W4PU/ref=ep_sprkl_at_B001H6W4PU?pf_rd_p=479564851&pf_rd_s=auto-sparkle&pf_rd_t=301&pf_rd_i=jack%20campbell&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0CRNZJVFTGXYJ8G7108X

KICKSTARTER UPDATE – WE FUNDED PRIZE PACK ANNOUNCED


Hi, everyone.

Hope you enjoyed your weekend and are rested up for the start of a new week.

Our Kickstarter campaign for new novels by Jack Campbell and Brenda Cooper is doing well at 66% with three weeks to go. We have 90 backers currently. Just 10 more unlocks the first Bonus Backer reward, an ebook copy of David Sherman’s 18th Race novel, Issue In Doubt.

Also, we have finalized our We Funded Prize pack. Here are the details.

WE FUNDED PRIZE PACK – All backers at the $20 or higher level will have a chance to win:  

  • Children of Men (Blu-ray)  
  • City of Ember (DVD)  
  • Dungeons and Dragons complete animated series (DVD)  
  • The Neverending Story 1 & 2 (DVD)  
  • Keep Portland Weird T-Shirt (actual design dependent on availability at the time the campaign completes, but I’m hoping for the one pictured here because I want one too.)  
  • J2 by Phoebe Wray (print)  
  • So It Begins, edited by Mike McPhail, with stories by David Sherman, Charles E. Gannon, John C. Wright, James Daniel Ross, Jonathan Maberry, James Chambers, Patrick Thomas, Andy Remic, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jeffrey Lyman, Jack Campbell, Mike McPhail, Bud Sparhawk, Tony Ruggiero, and CJ Henderson (print)  
  • River: An Anthology, edited by Alma Alexander, with stories by Mary Victoria, Tiffany Trent, Irene Radford, Jay Lake, Deb Taber, Jacey Bedford, Keffy R.M. Kehrli, Joshua Palmatier, Brenda Cooper, Seanan McGuire, Ada Milenkovic Brown, Joyce Reynolds-Ward, and Nisi Shawl. (print)  
  • An honest-to-goodness, one-of-a-kind Dragon for your very own

dragon-cat-wallpaper-cuteimages-net

(Actual picture not yet available…dragons being elusive and all.)

We will also, as with campaigns past, have a pre-funding bonus reward level once we hit the $3000 benchmark. Details are not yet available, but I will update you as soon as they are.

If you know someone who might find this campaign of interest, please let them know. The sooner we hit this goals the sooner everyone gets bonuses, not to mention two fantastic books. We have faith we will get there, so much so that both books have already begun the editing process and POST is ready to go to production, so this won’t quite be instant gratification, but it will be darn close.

The url is http://tiny.cc/Novels2016.

Thank you,

Danielle

FROM THE PUBLISHER – ON THE TOPIC OF CROWDFUNDING


Hello, everyone.

This morning I discovered there were some potential misconceptions circulating that need to be clarified.

Right now eSpec Books is running a Kickstarter campaign for two novels by bestselling authors Jack Campbell (The Sister Paradox) and Brenda Cooper (POST) (http://tiny.cc/Novels2016).

A comment made on one of their posts regarding the campaign startled me this morning. The person commenting was under the impression that the author was running the campaign and that they would only write the book if the campaign funded.

My apologies to the authors for this outward perception.

To our audience, please be assured of two things. One, eSpec Books is the creator of this crowdfunding campaign (more on this in a moment); and two, both novels that are the focus of this campaign are and have been written for quite some time.

Now…back to the business of crowdfunding.

I cannot speak for all authors and publishers who use this tool, but this is the reasoning behind eSpec Books use of crowdfunding as a part of our business model.

As an independent publisher we have the knowledge and the skill to run our business, but not the capital. Traditionally those going into small press accepted that there will be a period of years where their company will run in the red (accumulate debt, rather than profit), but eventually turn a profit. Many publishers function and have functioned successfully under this principle. Many more have crashed and burned because their profit margin has never caught up to their debt. Others bear the stigma that comes with low-budget production and in their imperfect dealings with their authors and vendors when they can’t keep up.

Not only is this bad for the industry and the authors, but it is a great source of stress for the publisher. Having been in this industry for over two decades as both a publishing professional and as an author, I have seen companies, lives, and dreams crumble under the weight of that pressure. This is one of the reasons for the longest time I swore I would never become a publisher.

Then along came crowdfunding at the same time various publishers I worked with were beginning to crumble. I experienced my first campaign as a participant and saw the potential. It was possible to pre-sell a book. It was possible to pay more than a pittance to authors and artists and other various individuals that make a book happen. It was possible to create something and yet be in the black right out of the gate.

Now, before any more misconceptions sprout, crowdfunding is not free money. It isn’t buckets of profit. It’s not easy. eSpec has run seven successful crowdfunding campaigns and I have been a participant in a handful more. They take exhaustive work to set up, promote, and fulfill, and that is beyond the work of actually producing (in our case) the book or books funded. Most campaigns are not successful. When they are, at least in our experience, in the end there is little actual profit coming directly out of the campaign and whatever monies are not used for production are shared equally with the author(s) for their efforts.

So, building a company with crowdfunding as a part of your business model helps create a more stable platform that eventually will not require crowdfunding in order to produce works. Yes, this is the goal. But what most do not realize is that crowdfunding is not solely a source of funding. It is a platform where we as creators can build a community, an audience for our works. We show good faith and our backers show loyalty. In an industry where it is difficult to get noticed because of the sheer volume of work produced each day, that is more value by far than the funding itself.

We hope that has made things a bit more clear and we thank you for your patience when we go into promotion mode. Of course, we always are hopeful that you might also find what we are doing of interest and check it out.

Our current campaign is for two very different coming-of-age novels.

In Jack Campbell’s The Sister Paradox 16-year-old Liam is an only child who suddenly finds himself with a sword-wielding sister from an alternate dimension. And if that isn’t strange enough, she’s come to take him on an important quest…involving cursed keeps and dragons.

In Brenda Cooper’s POST 16-year-old Sage has grown up almost exclusively within the confines of a botanical garden, a safe haven from the post-apocalyptic collapse of the outside world. Sage, however, is tired of the sheltered life and wants to discover the world rebuilding itself outside the garden’s walls. She learns hard lessons on the way back to civilization…

Thank you for giving us the time to share with you and we hope you might take a moment to visit our campaign page and learn more about these wonderful books. http://tiny.cc/Novels2016

eSPEC BOOKS WEEK IN REVIEWS


Just wanted to share with you a bit of good news. We were contacted by The Steampunk Journal this morning to inform us they had reviewed Gaslight & Grimm. It has received a score of 9.3 out of 10 and been awarded the Splendid! Award.

Congrats go to Elaine Corvidae, Jody Lynn Nye, Danny Birt, Jean Marie Ward, Bernie Mojzes, Jonah Knight, and Christine Norris for being spotlighted in the review.

“Gaslight & Grimm can easily be considered a class act. […] If you like steampunk and fairy-tales, then I highly recommend this book. It will keep you thoroughly entertained again and again.” Nemma Wollenfang, The Steampunk Journal

ON A SEMI-RELATED NOTE

We are one week in to our current Kickstarter campaign. This is our first novel campaign and we are featuring books by two bestselling authors, Jack Campbell and Brenda Cooper. If you could help us spread the word or even check it out yourself, that would be great. The URL is http://tiny.cc/Novels2016

Here is are the descriptions of the books:

THE SISTER PARADOX

by Jack Campbell

Liam is his parents’ only child, and that’s just fine with him.  

Until the day the sister-he-never-had shows up at school. 

Just to make it worse, the sword-wielding Kari tells him they have an important quest to complete. 

 And that’s how Liam finds himself dragged into another world, facing basilisks and unicorns, cursed objects, elves, and even a dragon, all magical and dangerous, but none more so than the sister he didn’t have until that morning. A sister who turns out to be quite good with her sword, and ready to use it when faced with things like a dragon as long as her brother is at her side.   

Liam begins to realize two things: it’s going to be a very long day, and having a sister can be weird.  

But most unsettling of all, he’s not sure he minds…

POST

by Brenda Cooper

The world, for some, has crumbled.   

Disease and natural disasters have brought on social collapse in the Pacific Northwest.  

For Sage, born and raised in the safe haven of the Oregon Botanical Gardens, that has never been more than academic. What more could she ask for than to be safe and fed?  

But life in the Garden is static.  

Sage longs to experience the world beyond the Garden walls as society climbs from the chaos. Her reckless exploration forces her elders to give her a choice: Stay here, hidden in safety, or go and never return.  

Sage chooses to leave.  

Will she learn soon enough on her journey that the world outside the Garden follows no law? 

That there is no predator more dangerous than man?  

Will she learn soon enough that to rebuild the world one must be ready to fight for it?  

She will need to if she chooses to live.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN


eSpec Books is proud to announce the start of our next Kickstarter for two original novels by Jack Campbell and Brenda Cooper.

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To check out the campaign visit http://tiny.cc/Novels2016

You can read more about this on Brenda Cooper’s blog.

THE SISTER PARADOX

by Jack Campbell

Liam is his parents’ only child, and that’s just fine with him.  

Until the day the sister-he-never-had shows up at school. 

Just to make it worse, the sword-wielding Kari tells him they have an important quest to complete. 

 And that’s how Liam finds himself dragged into another world, facing basilisks and unicorns, cursed objects, elves, and even a dragon, all magical and dangerous, but none more so than the sister he didn’t have until that morning. A sister who turns out to be quite good with her sword, and ready to use it when faced with things like a dragon as long as her brother is at her side.   

Liam begins to realize two things: it’s going to be a very long day, and having a sister can be weird.  

But most unsettling of all, he’s not sure he minds…

Jack CampbellJack Campbell (John G. Hemry) is the author of the New York Times best-selling Lost Fleet series, the Lost Stars series, and the “steampunk with dragons” Pillars of Reality Series. His most recent books are THE LOST STARS – SHATTERED SPEAR, THE LOST FLEET: BEYOND THE FRONTIER – LEVIATHAN, and the Pillars of Reality novels THE SERVANTS OF THE STORM and THE WRATH OF THE GREAT GUILDS. In May, VANGUARD will be published, the first in a new trilogy set centuries before the events in The Lost Fleet series. John’s novels have been published in eleven languages. This year, Titan will begin bringing out a Lost Fleet comic series. His short fiction includes works covering time travel, alternate history, space opera, military SF, fantasy, and humor.  

John has also written articles on declassified Cold War plans for US military bases on the Moon, and Liberating the Future: Women in the Early Legion (of Superheroes) in Sequart’s Teenagers From the Future. At somewhat erratic intervals he presents his talk on Everything I Needed To Know About Quantum Physics I Learned From The Three Stooges, showing how Stooge skits illustrate principles of quantum physics.  

John is a retired US Navy officer, who served in a wide variety of jobs including surface warfare (the ship drivers of the Navy), amphibious warfare, anti-terrorism, intelligence, and some other things that he’s not supposed to talk about. Being a sailor, he has been known to tell stories about Events Which He Says Really Happened (but which cannot be verified by any independent sources). This experience has served him well in writing fiction.  

He lives in Maryland with his indomitable wife “S” and three great kids (all three on the autism spectrum).

 


POST

by Brenda Cooper

The world, for some, has crumbled.   

Disease and natural disasters have brought on social collapse in the Pacific Northwest.  

For Sage, born and raised in the safe haven of the Oregon Botanical Gardens, that has never been more than academic. What more could she ask for than to be safe and fed?  

But life in the Garden is static.  

Sage longs to experience the world beyond the Garden walls as society climbs from the chaos. Her reckless exploration forces her elders to give her a choice: Stay here, hidden in safety, or go and never return.  

Sage chooses to leave.  

Will she learn soon enough on her journey that the world outside the Garden follows no law? 

That there is no predator more dangerous than man?  

Will she learn soon enough that to rebuild the world one must be ready to fight for it?  

She will need to if she chooses to live.


Brenda Cooper

Brenda Cooper writes science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories, and sometimes, poetry. Her most recent novel is EDGE OF DARK, from Pyr and her most recent story collection is CRACKING THE SKY from Fairwood Press. SPEAR OF LIGHT was released from Pyr in June of 2016 and POST will be out from eSpec Books in late fall 2016.  EDGE OF DARK was a finalist for the PK Dick Award and is a finalist for the ENDEAVOUR Award.

Brenda is a technology professional and a futurist, and publishes non-fiction on the environment and the future. Her non-fiction has appeared on Slate and Crosscut and her short fiction has appeared in Nature Magazine, among other venues. See her website at www.brenda-cooper.com

Brenda lives in the Pacific Northwest in a household with three people, three dogs, far more than three computers, and only one TV in it.

PROJECT UPDATE – THE BEST OF DEFENDING THE FUTURE


 

As a part of our Man and Machine campaign we were fortunate enough to also fund a Best of collection. We have made our final determinations and are proud to share with you the following:

The embers of war still glow as memories of strange skies over an alien landscape, light-years from home, bring back the sensations of battle; a time when personal sacrifice meant the difference between salvation for all, or total destruction.  

Gathered here is a cross-section of stories from the first decade of the Defending The Future series. Written by the known and up-and-coming in the military science fiction genre, these stories represent the fan-requested highlights from the series.

DRUM ROLL….

And now, we are excited to announce the stories selected for The Best of Defending The Future, in no particular order.

From Breach the Hull  

  • Jack McDevitt – Black to Move  
  • John C. Wright – Peter Power Armor  
  • Lawrence M. Schoen – Thresher  
  • Jeffrey Lyman – Compartment Alpha  

From So It Begins  

  • Andy Remic – Junked  
  • Danielle Ackley-McPhail – First Line  
  • Charles E. Gannon – To Spec  
  • Bud Sparhawk – The Glass Box  
  • CJ Henderson – Everything’s Better with Monkeys  

From By Other Means  

  • James Chambers – Mother of Peace  
  • Jeff Young – Blankets  
  • Mike McPhail – Sheepdog  
  • John G. Hemry – Dawn’s Last Light  
  • Robert E. Waters – Devil Dancer  

From No Man’s Land  

  • Nancy Jane Moore – Gambit  
  • Maria V. Snyder – Godzilla Warfare  
  • Brenda Cooper – Cracking the Sky  

From Best Laid Plans  

  • Keith R.A. DeCandido – The Stone of the First High Pontiff  
  • David Sherman – Chitter Chitter Bang Bang  
  • Judi Fleming – Iron Horses

COMING NEXT…

As a company we cut our teeth on anthologies. Now we are ready to graduate to something more meaty. Our next campaign begins Monday and we are really excited about it. 

>This one is for two original novels: The Sister Paradox, a fantasy offering by Jack Campbell; and POST, a science fiction dystopia novel by Brenda Cooper. You can check out the campaign in advance at http://tiny.cc/Novels2016.

FROM OUR FRIENDS…

Finally, for those who haven’t heard yet, Joshua Palmatier of Zombies Need Brains started a new campaign yesterday. This one is for three anthologies, about Robots, Water, and Death. Check it out here: http://kck.st/2craV5X. One day in and they are a third of the way there. There are some really awesome authors involved, like Jody Lynn Nye, Faith Hunter, Gini Koch, Misty Massey and Rosemary Edgehill, just to name a few.

Have a good night and enjoy your weekend. Me, I’m off to Star Trek Mission New York at the Javits Center. If by chance you happen to be there a well, come say Hi! I’ll be at the Quidd booth, which is #331.

Best,
Danielle

FROM THE PUBLISHER – SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT


PARADOXICAL JACK CAMPBELL NOVEL FINDS A HOME WITH ESPEC

STRATFORD, NJ (July 2016) ― eSpec Books is proud to announce their newest acquisition, The Sister Paradox, a new fantasy novel by New York Times bestselling author Jack Campbell. The book will be funded through Kickstarter later this year with an eye toward a Spring 2017 release. An official launch event is scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, to be held at Balticon 51 (www.balticon.org) a major science fiction convention in the Baltimore area, which Mr. Campbell attends.

The Sister Paradox is a young adult fantasy novel about a young boy who suddenly acquires a full-grown sister from an alternate dimension. Only he seems to realize she was not there before, giving an all-new twist to the concept of sibling rivalry.

Jack Campbell is the pen name of John G. Hemry, a retired Naval officer, in fine family tradition. He has twenty-six novels to his credit, including the bestselling Lost Fleet, Lost Stars, and Pillars of Reality series, and two short story collections. His short fiction has appeared in Analog, Amazing Stories, and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, as well as in anthologies by Baen Books, Dark Quest Books, and Marietta Publishing. Mr. Hemry is represented by the JABberwocky Literary Agency.

To learn more about his work visit http://www.jack-campbell.com/

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If you’d like more information about this topic, or to request an interview with the author, please contact Danielle McPhail at dmcphail@especbooks.com.