Thursday, September 29, 2016

Light in the Darkness Roundup 1

As promised, I'll be taking a closer look at the twelve books and authors in Light in the Darkness: A Noblebright Fantasy Boxed Set. To learn about the noblebright movement and for details about the set, you can read this previous post. There truly is something for everyone in this set: sword and sorcery, sword and no sorcery, sorcery and no sword, sixguns and sorcery, steampunk, magical realism, settings from modern day to alternate history to fantasy worlds based on Asian myths, from no romance to romance in a variety of flavors. Light in the Darkness explores a full range of fantasy, featuring good (if flawed) characters doing their best to do the right things in difficult circumstances, with an undercurrent of hope.

Note: Because of the size of this collection, 12 full-length novels plus several short stories, the price will have to go up to $1.99 when we upload the final file on Oct. 8. Preorder before then to lock in the 99 cent price!

And now, on with the first four books:

The King's Sword by C. J. Brightley
A disillusioned soldier. A spoiled, untried prince. A coup that threatens the country they both love. When retired soldier Kemen finds the young prince Hakan fleeing an attempted assassination, he reluctantly takes the role of mentor and guardian. Keeping the prince alive is challenging enough. Making him a man is harder. As usurper Vidar tightens his grip on power, Kemen wrestles with questions of duty and honor. What if the prince isn't the best ruler after all? Invasion looms, and Kemen's decisions will shape the fate of a nation. What will he sacrifice for friendship and honor?

About the author:
C. J. Brightley lives outside Washington, D.C., with her husband and their two young children. When she's not busy writing, she teaches karate, bakes too many desserts, and makes jewelry. She loves to connect with readers!

The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker
Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.

Worse, Sicarius, the empire's most notorious assassin, is in town. He's tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills... or someone wants her dead.

About the author:
Lindsay is a full-time independent fantasy author who loves travel, hiking, tennis, and vizslas. She grew up in the Seattle area but moved to Arizona when she realized she was solar-powered.

The Last Mage Guardian by Sabrina Chase
Most thought the Mage Guardians simply a myth, but their old enemy knows better--and of their number only one remains to thwart his plan of magical domination and revenge.

Miss Ardhuin Andrews, who ought to be learning elegant refinements at the Metan Seminary for Young Ladies, has instead fooled the headmistress and her late great-uncle’s servants into letting her stay at the old chateau–alone.  The better to avoid dancing lessons and study her forbidden magic.

But then the old chateau is attacked by powerful magic, and shortly after a strange young man, apparently immune to her magical distractions and illusions appears.  Is he connected to the attacks?

About the author:
"By day I am a mild-mannered software developer, making the world a better place for librarians. But when the sun goes down, I make stuff up for fun and profit.

"My background is in physics, where I got to play with killer lasers and synchrotrons. I live in the Pacific Northwest and am constantly supervised in my writing by two cats. If I did something wrong, they probably warned me about it."

Pen Pal by Francesca Forrest
Em is a twelve-year-old girl in a floating community off the Gulf Coast. Kaya is a political activist in a terrifying prison. They are pen pals. Em's wistful message in a bottle finds its way to Kaya, imprisoned above the molten lava of the Ruby Lake. Both are living precarious lives, at the mercy of societal, natural, and perhaps supernatural forces beyond their control. Kaya's letters inspire Em, and Em's comfort Kaya-but soon this correspondence becomes more than personal. Individual lives, communities, and even the fate of an entire nation will be changed by this exchange of letters. "Pen Pal" is a story of friendship and bravery across age, distance, and culture, at the intersection of the natural and supernatural world.

Find out more about the book at
The author's LiveJournal blog

Light in the Darkness will be released on October 18, but right now it's available for pre-order at:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

The current price is only 99 cents, but because of the size of this collection, 12 full-length novels plus several short stories, the price will have to go up to $1.99 when we upload the final file on Oct. 8. Preorder before then to lock in the 99 cent price! I know that Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo have pre-order price guarantees where even if the price does go up later, if you pre-order at the 99 cent price that's what you pay. I couldn't find the information for iTunes; if you shop at iTunes, check to see if they have a preorder pricing policy. Don't miss out on the chance to get this wonderful collection for only 99 cents!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Light in the Darkness: A Noblebright Fantasy Boxed Set

Note: Because of the size of this collection, 12 full-length novels plus several short stories, the price will have to go up to $1.99 when we upload the final file on Oct. 8. Preorder before then to lock in the 99 cent price!

And now for cool thing #3: Beneath the Canyons is going to be in a multi-author boxed set titled Light in the Darkness: A Noblebright Fantasy Boxed Set, available Oct. 18. Several months ago, I got involved in a discussion about noblebright fantasy on a writer's board I belong to, and some time later, C.J. Brightley, who started the discussion, invited me to participate in this boxed set. Being in a mult-author boxed set is another thing I've always wanted to do, and I would really like to see the concept of noblebright fantasy become more widely known, so of course I said yes!

So, what is noblebright fantasy? From the boxed set's description, "Noblebright fantasy characters have the courage to risk kindness, honesty, integrity, and love; to fight against their own flaws and the darkness of the world around them; and to find hope in a grim world."

Basically, it's the opposite of grimdark, where life sucks, the bad guys cheat and win, the good guys are corruptible, and anyone who isn't corruptible is a chump and a fool and probably dies an ignominious death.

Some more definitions of what noblebright is and isn't:

Noblebright is not equivalent to YA or children's books. While many (but certainly not all) YA books might fall into the category, noblebright books can also be very much for and about adults, from an adult perspective, about adult characters with adult lives and concerns.

Noblebright also is not necessarily "clean." There can be violence and swearing and sex. The emphasis is different; noblebright won't tend to wallow in blood and guts and bad language or glorify violence or purely exploitive or hedonistic sex.

Noblebright is also not the same as Christian fiction. While many or most Christian fantasy novels are probably noblebright, the core concepts of noblebright, that there exists objective right and wrong, it's worth it to try to do what's right no matter how hard it is, and anyone, no matter what wrongs they've done in the past, can try to do better, are not restricted to Christianity. I'm a Christian myself, and my books have been noted as having a Judeo-Christian worldview, but they are not explicitly or implicitly about Christianity or Christian characters.

The key is in the outlook: in noblebright, it's worth it to try to do the right thing even in the face of impossible odds; goodness, selflessness, love, compassion, honor, and nobility (of character, not of birth) matter regardless of the forces arrayed against the characters. Even if things don't turn out perfectly, there's still hope, and there's honor and comfort in knowing you did the right thing.

Finally, noblebright does not mean happy perfect people doing happy perfect things in a happy perfect world. It means good (if flawed) people choosing to do the right thing in the face of opposition and difficult circumstances, no matter how hard it is. After all, being a good person and doing the right thing when things are going well is easy. Being a good person and doing the right thing when the world is against you and it would be easier to do the wrong thing is much harder (and more interesting to read and write about!).

Sound good? Here's the lineup of books in the boxed set:
  • C. J. Brightley - The King's Sword: A disillusioned soldier. A spoiled, untried prince. And a coup that threatens the country they both love.
  • Lindsay Buroker - The Emperor’s Edge: A law enforcer being hunted for a crime she didn’t commit must work with a cold-hearted assassin to save the only person who can clear her name.
  • Sabrina Chase - The Last Mage Guardian: Most thought the Mage Guardians simply a myth, but their old enemy knows better--and of their number only one remains to thwart his plan of magical domination and revenge.
  • Francesca Forrest - Pen Pal: It starts with a message in a bottle and ends with revolution.
  • Kyra Halland - Beneath the Canyons: A bounty-hunting wizard and a rancher's daughter with untrained powers must stop a renegade wizard who is tampering with dangerous magic.
  • Angela Holder - Into the Storm: A massive hurricane will destroy Elathir unless Larine and her fellow wizards sacrifice everything to stop it.
  • Ronald Long - On the Shores of Irradan: Ealrin Belouve and his friends travel to a new land and face new dangers in search of a tree that may restore magic to one of their own.
  • Mike Reeves McMillan - Hope and the Patient Man: A talented young mage must overcome a curse to be with the wounded hero who loves her.
  • T. A. Miles - Six Celestial Swords: The dragon Chaos threatens the magical world of Dryth. Xu Liang sets out on a quest to unite the only six magical blades that can save it.
  • Christina Ochs - Rise of the Storm: When a renegade priest prophesies an imminent apocalypse, a conflict is sparked which will tip a continent into war.
  • Sherwood Smith - Lhind the Thief: Lhind enjoys life on the run, taking what she wants, until her secrets are uncovered one by one.
  • Emily Martha Sorensen - The Keeper and the Rulership: In a world where mathematics and magic are forbidden, Raneh's growing magic and can't figure out how to stop.

Most books in this set are appropriate for ages 13+, but Hope and the Patient Man [and, I would venture to say, Beneath the Canyons] is appropriate for ages 16+.

Light in the Darkness will be released on October 18, but right now it's available for pre-order at:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

The current price is only 99 cents, but because of the size of this collection, 12 full-length novels plus several short stories, the price will have to go up to $1.99 when we upload the final file on Oct. 8. Preorder before then to lock in the 99 cent price!I know that Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo have pre-order price guarantees where even if the price does go up later, if you pre-order at the 99 cent price that's what you pay.

I'll be taking a closer look at the books in this wonderful and diverse collection over the next couple of weeks, along with posting links to other blog posts about it, so watch for those. You can also learn more about the noblebright movement at And in the meantime, don't miss out on being able to get Light in the Darkness for only 99 cents!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Sneak Peek: Source-Breaker

Since the Weird Western StoryBundle and the accompanying blogging blitz ended, I've been trying to get caught up on other work. I'm making progress on both the first draft of Defenders of the Wildings, the follow-up to the Daughter of the Wildings series, and on the revisions of my upcoming release, Source-Breaker (formerly known under the working title The Source-Fixer). I don't have a cover yet for Source-Breaker, though I've ordered one from my cover artist and I'm eagerly waiting to see what he comes up with. My next book after Source-Breaker will be Heir of Tanaris, and I do have the preliminary sketch for the cover art for that, and it's gorgeous! Anyway, to keep you entertained in the meantime, here's a sneak peek from Chapter 1 of Source-Breaker, where Kaniev, our intrepid but struggling repairman of broken magical Sources, meets Fransisa, the priestess in charge at Source Chaitrasse (remember, this is an early version; there's still a lot of editing to go on it):
Somewhere deep inside the building, a bell rang. A moment later, a girl in a white robe opened the door and blinked up at him. "Yes?" she asked in a high, sweet, barely audible voice.

Green eyes, creamy fair skin, golden curls; she clearly wasn't from this part of the Kingdoms. Probably closer to the Kriethi border. She was very young, maybe thirteen years old or so; probably the youngest of several daughters, put into service here because her family couldn't afford a dowry for her. Poor child. "I would like to see Sera Fransisa, if you please," Kaniev said kindly.

The girl blinked again. She looked rather thin, her fair skin nearly translucent, as though she had been ill for a long time. "May I ask --"

"Aislinne." The stern voice of a woman cut off the girl's words. "Return to your studies. You are to let the stewards open the door and greet visitors."

The girl's cheeks reddened. "Yes, Sera Fransisa. I was only --"

"Now. Don't argue with me. It is unsuitable for you to be speaking with strangers, especially strange men."

The girl's flush deepened, and she lowered her gaze. "Yes, Sera Fransisa." Then she backed away from the partly-opened door, making room for the woman who replaced her there.

The first thing Kaniev noticed was her ample bosom, impressively corseted beneath the elaborately draped and pleated white robes. He wouldn't call Sera Fransisa fat, but she did have substance to her, something he appreciated in a woman. The woman was under a vow of celibacy, he reminded himself. Whatever his other faults, and they were many, he wasn't in the habit of seducing women who had made such vows.

Unless they wanted to be seduced.

Sternly, he made himself focus his gaze on her face, which was still considerably below his own eye level. Warm brown eyes set in a smooth, oval, olive-skinned face met his straight on. A few faint lines showed at the corners of her eyes and mouth. Her rich chestnut hair, done up in elaborate buns and curls, had only a few threads of gray in it. She wasn't young, neither was she far into middle age. Probably about his age, give or take a year or two.

"Yes?" Sera Fransisa said without the slightest sign of interest or any other emotion other than annoyance.

This one clearly had no interest in being seduced. Maybe, with luck, he could still over-awe her with his stunning good looks and masculinity so that she wouldn't laugh at him too much when he failed to fix her Source that chances were she didn't even know was broken. "My name is Kaniev. I..."

"If you're begging, you can go work in the fields, and at supper time we'll give you a meal and ten pennies."
As you can tell, this relationship is off to a wonderful start :P

Watch for the cover reveal and the release of Source-Breaker, a novel of Estelend, coming up later this fall. And to make sure you don't miss out on release news and special limited-time low introductory pricing, sign up for my email alerts.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Author Spotlight

Today I'm happy to introduce C.L. Hunter, the featured author from the Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia and Romance Readers, Writers and Reviewers group on Goodreads. C.L. is the author of the spicy paranormal romance Your Soul Was Made For Mine and the upcoming sequel, My Soul Belongs To You.

Your Soul Was Made For Mine (Soul Mate Series #1)
In her romantic erotic fantasy Your Soul Was Made for Mine, author C. L. Hunter magnificently weaves a tale of loss, pain, romance, and electrifying thrills that will keep you captivated until the very end. When their lives converge in Ireland, Nolan and Emmalyn will never be the same as dangers appear from Nolan's past and the lovers unravel astonishing secrets together. With their union guided by an angel, each new discovery takes them to places, events, and ecstasies they could have never imagined possible.

Available at:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo 

About the author:
 While on a trip to beautiful and mysterious Ireland, the characters from C. L. Hunter’s romance novel, Your Soul was Made for Mine, appeared to her in dreams. They did not leave her even after she returned home from the enchanted island. Once she started writing their words, Hunter couldn’t stop until the entwined relationships and mysteries of Nolan and Emmalyn were completely revealed. The author now shares their erotic tale with you.

C. L. Hunter lives in Florida with her husband, autistic son, and their Irish water spaniel named Brody. She also has two grown daughters and two amazing granddaughters.

Website | Facebook | Google+ | Twitter | Goodreads

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Last Call for the Weird Western StoryBundle!

The Weird Western StoryBundle is down to the last couple of days - it ends Sept. 8 at 9:00 pm Pacific Time. To give you a little more of a taste of this fantastic bundle of books, here are some tiny snippets from the beginning of each book excerpt posted over on the StoryBundle site. To read the full excerpts, along with reviews and notes by Bundle curator Blair MacGregor, head on over to the Weird Western StoryBundle page.

Haxan, by Kenneth Mark Hoover
Haxan, New Mexico Territory
Spring, 1874

I found the old man nailed to a hackberry tree five miles out of Haxan.

They had hammered railroad spikes through his wrists and ankles. There was dried blood on the wood and iron. Blood stippled his arms and chest. He was stripped naked so the westering sun could peel the flesh from his bones.

He was alive with I found him.

Spellslinger, by Joseph J. Bailey
I woke to the buzzing of flies.

The sound reverberated through my head like echoes from another world.

I could not open my eyes.

Where was I?

Why was I here?

Why couldn't I move?

Where were my guns?

Idyll, by James Derry
Marathon—if it still existed—waited in the east. Samuel Starboard led Titan that way, where the border of the family's ranch was defined by a ridge of quartz that was the color of old teeth. In some places the rock crystals rose in spires, four meters high. Titan wound her way up the brown slope to a large fissure in the ridge. A single beam of wood spanned the gap, and a hand-painted sign leaned against the beam. QUARANTINE. KEEP OUT.

West of Pale, by J. Patrick Allen
I consider it a special kind of madness that had me leaving the house that night, despite fears of something stalking me. Mania and curiosity mashed into a slurry of dread and a sense of looming mortality. Still, I had my head on enough to be considerate: I left money on the dining room table where Frau Sackoff would find it. Some little compensation for what I was about to steal.

Dragons in the Earth, by Judith Tarr
Dragons sleep in the earth here.

I feel them. Sometimes I see them—in my head, in dreams, in the hunched shapes of mountains curled around the flattened bowls of the valleys.

They're always there. I'm always aware of them, but sometimes the awareness sinks down deep, till I can almost forget them.

A Book of Tongues, by Gemma Files
The dream was always the same.

She appeared above him, blown by a black wind, her back-sloping forehead girded with a hissing serpent, her swirling hair stiffened with mud. Her round face was set with jade scales, irregular as leaves. The lids and orbits of her wide-spaced eyes were decorated, mosaic-style, with tiny chips of shell, mother-of-pearl and obsidian.

New World (New World #1), by Steven W. White *free newsletter bonus!*
As the stink of low tide washed over the village of Fort Sanctuary, a little boy named Simon Jones didn't want to get punched again. His nemesis, a seventeen-year-old thug named Marshall Dunster, was stalking him.

Stealth, that was the key. Change the usual routine. Don't walk home from the printing house down Sunrise Street like always, but turn left at Fife's pub, the Mermaid, where his father spent Friday evenings. Simon's skinny, nervous legs whipped along, taking him through that left turn–

"Gotcha!" Marshall's iron grip found his neck and pulled at his collar.

Hair of the Bear (New World #2), by Steven W. White
After nine weeks at sea, with nothing beyond the rail but rolling gray swells, the land of Mira beckoned at last. The hollow clang of the lookout's bell echoed down from the crow's nest.

Lisandra Jurgen, major in the Royal Guard sworn to uphold the law in Albueshire and its provinces and territories in Sept Algolus, tapped her fingers on the rail's worn oak. Finally, justice would be done. Finally!

Flash Gold Chronicles, by Lindsay Buroker
Kali McAlister tapped a wrench against her thigh as she contemplated her invention. She had stripped every extra piece of metal she could from the "dogless sled" and had even debated removing the brush bow, but that seemed unwise. Besides, it'd been so cold the last week that men were complaining of pee freezing before it hit the ground. The ice on Forty Mile Creek ought to be thick enough for the heavy steam sled. If it wasn't…winning the race would be the last of her worries.

Beneath the Canyons, by Kyra Halland
A stable stood between Mundy's Boarding House and the half-built hotel. A boy was tossing pebbles into a circle scratched in the dirt of the stable yard; Silas rode over and gave the boy a penny to watch Abenar and his belongings for a moment. He pulled on his long brown duster, which he had shed in the heat of the day and draped over the saddle behind him, then headed to the boarding house to inquire about a room.

A crash from inside the saloon across the street caught his attention. He turned to see a big-bellied, bushy-bearded man come flying backwards through the swinging doors of the Bootjack.

To find out even more about the books and authors in the bundle, check out the blog post link roundup on Blair MacGregor's blog. And also, Joseph J. Bailey was kind enough to interview me on his blog - go have a look!

Don't forget, the Weird Western StoryBundle ends Sept. 8. You can get the first four books for only $5, or all nine books for $14 (or more if you choose). Don't miss out on this great deal for an awesome collection of books!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Weird Western Roundup II

Finishing up my look at the books and authors in the Weird Western StoryBundle. The bundle is only available through September 8; don't miss out!
Haxan by Kenneth Mark Hoover

Hardboiled detective story meets westerns with suggestions of something deeper, timeless, and terrifying. A deceptively simple, haunting novel that left me wanting to know more about who U.S. Marshal John Marwood really is.

About the book:
Thermopylae. Masada. Agincourt. And now, Haxan, New Mexico Territory, circa 1874. Through a sea of time and dust, in places that might never be, or can't become until something is set right, there are people destined to travel. Forever. Marshal John T. Marwood is one of these men. Taken from a place he called home, he is sent to fight an eternal war. It never ends, because the storm itself, this unending conflict, makes the world we know a reality. Along with all the other worlds waiting to be born. Or were born, but died like a guttering candle in eternal night. . . . Haxan is the first in a series of novels. It's Lonesome Dove meets The Punisher . . . real, gritty, violent, and blatantly uncompromising.

About the author:
Kenneth Mark Hoover is a professional writer living in Dallas, TX. He has sold over 60 short stories and is a member of SFWA and HWA. His fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Strange Horizons, and many others.

A Book of Tongues (Hexslinger #1) by Gemma Files
 For various reasons, I approached this book with some trepidadation, but at halfway through I'm glad to report that while raw, graphic, gritty, and told in large part through the point of view of the "villain" rather than the "good guy," A Book of Tongues is also great fun. The story is told in a unique, engaging voice with characters you love and love to hate at the same time. Note: while some books in the StoryBundle are suitable for teen/YA readers, this book is very much for adults only.

About the book:
Two years after the Civil War, Pinkerton agent Ed Morrow has gone undercover with one of the weird West's most dangerous outlaw gangs - the troop led by Reverend Asher Rook, ex-Confederate chaplain turned hexslinger, and his notorious lieutenant (and lover) Chess Pargeter. Morrow's task: get close enough to map the extent of Rook's power, then bring that knowledge back to help Professor Joachim Asbury unlock the secrets of magic itself.

Magicians, cursed by their gift to a solitary and painful existence, have never been more than a footnote in history. But Rook, driven by desperation, has a plan to shatter the natural law that prevents hexes from cooperation, and change the face of the world - a plan sealed by an unholy marriage-oath with the goddess Ixchel, mother of all hanged men. To accomplish this, he must raise her bloodthirsty pantheon from its collective grave through sacrifice, destruction, and apotheosis.

Caught between a passel of dead gods and monsters, hexes galore, Rook's witchery, and the ruthless calculations of his own masters, Morrow's only real hope of survival lies with the man without whom Rook cannot succeed: Chess Pargeter himself. But Morrow and Chess will have to literally ride through Hell before the truth of Chess's fate comes clear - the doom written for him, and the entire world.

About the author:
Gemma Files was born in London, England and raised in Toronto. Her story "The Emperor's Old Bones" won the 1999 International Horror Guild Award for Best Short Fiction. She has published two collections of short work (Kissing Carrionand The Worm in Every Heart, both Prime Books) and two chapbooks of poetry (Bent Under Night, from Sinnersphere Productions, and Dust Radio, from Kelp Queen Press). A Book of Tongues, her first Hexslinger novel, won the 2010 DarkScribe Magazine Black Quill Award for Small Press Chill, in both the Editors' and Readers' Choice categories. The two final Hexslinger novels, A Rope of Thorns and A Tree of Bones were published by ChiZine in 2011 and 2012. Since then, she has published We Will All Go Down Together, and Experimental Film, the latter of which won the 2015 Shirley Jackson Award, and has been nominated for the Sunburst Award.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

99 cent Science Fiction and Fantasy Sale
Sept. 3-4: Don't miss the big 99 cent Science Fiction and Fantasy Sale! This one includes all the big retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play, and Smashwords. Tons of books are priced at 99 cents - science fiction, fantasy, sci fi/fantasy romance, dystopian, and even some multi-novel box sets! (selection varies by store)  Chosen of Azara is part of the sale, available at all the retailers, so if you haven't read it yet, now's your chance to get this multi-generational tale of magic, adventure, and love for only 99 cents.

Also, The Brilliant Career of Sajur Golu and Other Tales of Azara, a companion volume to Chosen of Azara, is only 99 cents right now (regular price will be $2.99). Available at the following stores:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | OmniLit |
DriveThruFiction | Smashwords

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Weird Western Roundup I

Here's a look at a few more of the books and authors in the Weird Western StoryBundle.

Idyll (Idyll Trilogy #1) by James Derry

First off, several days ago I posted an interview with Walt Starboard, the main character in Idyll. I had just started reading the book and didn't have much to say at that point except that I was hooked. Last night I finished it, and wow. Riveting book, and I'll just say that nothing is the way it appears. The combination of western-style adventure and a science fiction tale of settlement on a far-distant planet work perfectly together.

About the book:
Idyll is a rugged planet—a new, simpler start for some 10,000 settlers who have fled Mother Earth. But a strange 'plague' of contagious sleep has devastated their Settlement, sparked by a mysterious mantra called the Lullaby.

After a three-year quarantine, Walt and Samuel Starboard set out from their ranch on a mission to cure their comatose mother and find their missing father. For days they ride through a blighted landscape: deserted cabins and gravestones and the ruins of towns destroyed by fire. Just when the brothers are about to give up, they stumble upon a second pair of survivors, two beautiful and determined sisters.

Miriam and Virginia Bridge offer new hope, but they also present new problems. Stirrings of emotion and shifting priorities threaten to set the brothers against each other. Can Walt and Samuel overcome years of festering resentment, or will their rivalry tear them apart before they can reunite their broken family? And will any of them survive the revelation of who—or what—unleashed the Lullaby on their home world?

About the author:
James Derry has been writing or drawing stories since the day his parents let him borrow a ballpoint pen. That's when he created his first magnum opus in blue ink: a comic-book parody of Ghostbusters called 'Roastbusters.' Hey, he was ten.

He studied art in college, and eventually his aspirations shifted from being an illustrator to being a graphic designer. He returned to writing ten years ago after meeting his wife. He currently resides in Atlanta and spends large chunks of his free time working on (and reworking) a variety of fiction projects.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

West of Pale (Dead West vol. 1) by J. Patrick Allen

I read this well before hearing about the StoryBundle, and really enjoyed it. The gentle setting, the countryside of post-Civil War Missouri and its communities of German settlers, makes a wonderful contrast with the creepy horror of the monster stalking the countryside. The story of Charlie, a young boy whose father was killed by the demon, and the world-weary monster hunter he recruits to help him, and their adventures through the frontier on the path of this monster that materializes through water, is engaging, suspenseful, and enjoyable.

About the book:
Six-guns, blazing hooves, and the horrors that stalk the night.

Everyone brought something from the old country. Grandfather's watch, and grandmother's china; great-grandfather's folklore, and great-great-grandmother's fairy tales. What is never discussed, however, are the undying characters of the folklore: nix and fairy, goblin and vampire, dragon and eldritch things who all came to America's shores in time with the rhyme of their tales.

After Charlie's father is murdered by something impossible, he discovers a letter that leads him across the wild west. The man who wrote the letter promised to help, if things went wrong.

And things could not go more wrong. His father's murderer is on his trail, materializing from lakes, rivers, and stray pools of water. He will not rest until Charlie has joined his father...

Dead West: West of Pale is the first book in J. Patrick Allen's Dead West series. This novel picks up right where his Pulp Ark New Pulp Awards (2016) nominated short story, "Dragonfly Shadow," left off (featured in 18thWall Productions' From the Dragon Lord's Library: Volume One).

About the Author:

J Patrick Allen grew up exploring the American West with his family. He climbed mountains, fished, camped, visited the family cattle ranch, and explored a castle. Author of the Dead West series, JP writes about the monsters we take with us. Every other week you can listen to JP on the Rocket Punch Radio podcast on iTunes and TuneIn, where he and his friends hold round table discussions about all things geeky. In 2016 his story Dragonfly Shadow was awarded Best Short Story from the Pulp Ark New Pulp Awards. When he's not hard at work he and his wife can be found curled up with a beer and a book or game.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Flash Gold Chronicles I-III by Lindsay Buroker

If you read my Reading Roundups at all, you may have noticed a lot of books by Lindsay Buroker. She's one of my favorite authors, and I was really excited to see books 1-3 of her Flash Gold Chronicles included in this bundle. I also read this series before finding out about the bundle, and it's a lot of fun. Set in the Klondike Gold Rush, it features all the great stuff you expect to find in a Lindsay Buroker book: danger, adventure, magic mixed with steampunk, appealing characters, snappy dialogue, explosions, and a touch (or more than a touch) of romance.

About the book:
A half-breed tinkerer who's been an outcast her entire life.

A mysterious sword-wielding stranger on the run from the law.

A family secret that people are willing to kill for.

All Kali McAlister wants is to build an airship and escape the frozen Yukon where she was born. But the secret her alchemist father left her with, a magical energy source called flash gold, has put her in danger. Everyone from con artists to gangsters is hunting her down, and now a tight-lipped man with a sword has come into her life, offering to help. Kali is used to taking care of herself, and is about as trusting as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but when her enemies threaten to overpower her, she may have no choice but to join forces with the mysterious man.

Set in the Yukon's gold-rush era, this collection contains three adventures of action, magic, and romance:

Flash Gold

About the author:
Lindsay has early memories of convincing childhood friends, pets, and stuffed animals to play the roles of characters in her worlds, so it's safe to say she's been making up stories for a long time. She published her first novel, The Emperor's Edge, in December of 2010 and has written and published more than 30 more since then.

When she's not writing, she's usually hiking with her dogs, skiing, playing tennis, or eating entirely too much dark chocolate (she only does one of those things truly well, and she will let you guess which it is). She grew up in the Seattle area and still visits the Pacific Northwest frequently, but after realizing she was solar powered, she moved to Arizona where she lives in the mountains north of Phoenix.

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Next time I'll take a look at Haxan by Kenneth Mark Hoover and A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files (still reading as fast as I can so I can tell you what I think!). Remember, the Weird Western StoryBundle is only available until Sept. 8, so don't miss out on this great collection of books at a great price!