Goodreads Sweepstakes: Updraft by Fran Wilde

Updraft by Fran WildeAbout Updraft: Welcome to a world of wind and bone, songs and silence, betrayal and courage.

Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother’s side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city’s secretive governing body, the Singers, demand that she become one of them instead. In an attempt to save her family from greater censure, Kirit must give up her dreams to throw herself into the dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City.

As she grows in knowledge and power, she starts to uncover the depths of Spire secrets. Kirit begins to doubt her world and its unassailable Laws, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to a haunting choice, and may well change the city forever—if it isn’t destroyed outright.

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(Ends August 3)

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Why Dinosaurs?

The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milan
Written by Victor Milán

When I was discussing possible topics for this post, my pal Larry Hays said, “‘Why dinosaurs?’ Duh—dinosaurs.”

Yeah. Pretty much.

I love dinosaurs. I’ve loved ’em since I was an infant in the 1950s, when one of the first books my Mom read to me from was The Golden Treasury of Natural History. Many of its brightly-colored pictures captivated baby me, but none more than those of dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs have been kicking the public in its imagination at least since 1831, when English paleontologist and obstetrician Gideon Mantell published a paper called “The Age of Reptiles,” based on pioneering work done by Georges Cuvier, Mary Anning, and William Buckland on mysterious monster fossils that had been turning up for years. Sir Richard Owen named the taxon Dinosauria in 1842, helping Dinosaur Mania snowball so much a that in 1853 Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins pitched a gala New Year’s Eve dinner inside a sculpture of a (mistakenly quadrupedal) Iguanodon he was creating for London’s Crystal Palace.

In the late 19th century US the rivalry between Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope to find, name, and publicize dinosaur species out west got so crazy it was dubbed the “Bone Wars.”

The public love for dinosaurs ebbed and flowed throughout the 20th Century. But it never got killed off, even by the dominant paradigm that they were inert, cold-blooded, tail-dragging lumps, some so huge they had to live in water to support their own body weight—some even so dumb they needed helper brains in their butts to help work their hind-sections. I was taught that as a child, and believed it for years.

It was all wrong.

The 1970s revolutionized dinosaurs, with the then-heretical realization that dinos were really active, vigorous, and largely warm-blooded. Jurassic Park’s runaway 1993 success popularized that vision, and the dinosaur love has built ever since.

Nowadays, thanks to technological advances in detecting, handling, and analyzing dinosaur remains, we know more species, and more about them, than ever before. We’re in Golden Age of Dinosaur Paleontology, learning things about their physiology and behavior that, when I was a child, it was “known” we never could learn.

That thrills me. Millions of other people, too.

So what strange secret do these ancient animals possess?

Real. World. Monsters.

We love scary thrills. We love monsters, from the physically smaller, more intimate threats posed by vampires and zombies, to lumbering natural-disaster-sized daikaiju like Godzilla. Who, like so many of his Fifties Lizard Fear Cinema kindred, started life as a pseudo-dinosaur.

Dinosaurs, and the bizarre flying and swimming reptiles who shared the Mesozoic Earth with them, were monsters: fabulous, alien creatures, some literally monstrous in size and sometimes menace, who actually existed.

Some people don’t like the New Dinosaurs. They don’t think they’re as scary as the old model. And what’s with the feathers? They’re just big birds!

(Not really. But birds are dinosaurs. I love that too. Then again, I also always loved birds.)

It’s okay to like what you like. But here’s the deal: I spent way longer believing in the old model than most… and I say: do you really think the snarling monster in the picture is less intimidating than a guy in a rubber suit?

Even if he’s covered in feathers, you’re gonna tell me you wouldn’t be scared of a forty-foot long meat-eating dinosaur animal that weighs more than a Humvee and has teeth the size of axe blades?

Careful not to trip on your cape, there, Superman.

Dinosaurs: they’re monsters! Who were real! And we can even meet (and eat) their less-threatening descendants! How is that not cool?

I love dinosaurs. You too, I hope.

That’s why dinosaurs.

Preorder The Dinosaur Lords today:
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Follow Victor Milán on Twitter at @VictorMilan, on Facebook, or visit him online.

The Trauma of Time Travel

Time Salvager by Wesley Chu
Written by Wesley Chu

My job as a novelist requires that I write books. Inspiration be damned. It’s great to have inspiration, but it’s not a job requirement.

That said, storytelling is my only worthy contribution to society. I’m basically unemployable. I have resigned myself to the fact that in the zombie apocalypse, I’m the guy they’ll use as a decoy while the doctor, soldier, farmer, lawyer, and Labrador retriever escape to safety.

It is no surprise, however, that I am often asked “What’s the inspiration for your book?”

Whenever I see that question, my brain melts. Just a little. The honest answer is I want to eat and pay my mortgage and my dog needs a new sweater. Part of that statement is a lie; Airedale Terriers never need sweaters. Remember that, folks. Airedales wearing sweaters have poser parents.

However, in the case of Time Salvager, I’m going to make an exception. I love telling this book’s origin story because it comes from an experience that changed my life.

I warn you, it’s kind of sad.

The idea came from an article I read about a South African photo-journalist named Kevin Carter. He took a very iconic photo (warning: graphic) of a child in the Sudan Famine crawling toward an aid station. There’s a vulture behind the child, just hopping along, waiting for him to die. At the time, Kevin thought it was his job to record the events but not to intervene. He took the picture and left. He won a Pulitzer for that photograph and then committed suicide a few months later. Some of the facts have been subsequently contested, but that was the version I read at the time.

It’s the kind of story that stays with you. Sometime later, I dreamt that I was a time traveler on the Titanic. I had jumped in a few days prior and my mission was to steal the Hope Diamond. I was supposed to steal the diamond just as the ship was sinking, so that all traces of my activities would be washed away by the disaster. In the dream, I spent days interacting and befriending the crew and passengers as I tried to locate the diamond, knowing full well they were all doomed to die when the ship sank. They were all dead-people walking.

But, it wasn’t my job to intervene.

And I didn’t.

I woke up right as the ship sank (not sure if I ever found the diamond), knowing all those people were going to die and I couldn’t do anything to help them. I experienced an overwhelming sense of sadness. It was a short jump from there to Time Salvager. Jumping back in time, before disasters, to retrieve important items, seemed like a great use of time travel without actually changing history.

I knew there were costs though. There had to be. Not the cost to society, or to the laws of energy, or to the integrity of the timeline, but the cost to the person who had to watch and observe and do nothing. Watching and being unable to help had to be suffocating and traumatic. I knew then that I had questions that needed to be answered.

What were those emotional and mental costs?

What happens when those costs become too great and the time traveler decides to intervene?

What happens when the time laws are broken?

They’re questions I had to answer for myself, to give me peace. I hope you want to know the answers as much as I did.

Buy Time Salvager today:
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Follow Wesley Chu on Twitter at @wes_chu, on Facebook, or visit him online.

Punk is Dead, Long Live Punk

The Unnoticeables by Robert Brockway
Written by Robert Brockway

Atmosphere is everything.

Well, it’s most everything.

Well, it’s definitely a thing, anyway.

Hi, I’m Robert. I wrote The Unnoticeables, a very strange book about angels and monsters and faceless psychopaths and the hidden code behind the universe. I did this because I don’t know how to do normal human things like build furniture or mortgage.

Am I using that right? Is that a verb, or what?

I think that’s a very important step in writing a book: Not being able to do other things.

Another very important step is nailing down the atmosphere. The first half of The Unnoticeables takes place in the punk scene of New York City, 1977. Some folks think it’s easier to set your novel in a real place, and maybe they’re right—but NYC, 1977, may as well be a spaceport orbiting Jupiter. It doesn’t exist anymore. All the iconic punk venues featured in the book have either fizzled out, exploded like an M-80 in a beer can, or worse: slowly bloated, grew a ponytail, and started catering to tourists. The Bowery is a great place to get a cappuccino now; it used to be a great place to get stabbed.

So I couldn’t just hop on a plane to get a sense of how my setting actually moved and breathed. I needed a time machine. Luckily, I had one: Music.

In the course of writing the book, I have assembled several massive playlists, ordered by time, by place, by the attitude of the character I was writing, or just by some drunken impulse that I no longer recall.

The younger version of one of my protagonists, Carey, just wants to drink and have sex. He’s only good at one of those things. You can guess which. He really doesn’t want to be involved in my plot. He doesn’t want to see angels, or fight faceless maniacs in the sewers, but they keep messing with his friends and he needs those to bum beer money off of. Young Carey is all the bouncy, goofy grins of The Ramones. He’s the tattered arrogance of Richard Hell, the slurred fight in the MC5, and the unapologetic immaturity of The Dictators.

Flash forward thirty years, and Carey is now an old man. He’s homeless, living on the streets of LA. The decades-long fight against these inconceivable monsters has claimed every friend he’s ever had, and what was once a big, never-ending party has long since devolved into alcoholism. Older Carey is the barroom dirge of Rocket From The Tombs. He’s the aimless fury of The Damned, and the wry, world-weary cynicism of Gang of Four.

Ugh, listen to me ramble like I know what I’m talking about. I was born three years after the whole scene imploded. I’m not an expert on New York City, classic punk, or even music in general. In fact, I’m not even very good at being a fan. I can’t list every member of every band I listen to, where their best album was recorded, or who mixed it. I don’t even read the liner notes. The only thing I know about music is that I can’t write without it. My first business expense was a damn fine pair of headphones, which I wear for twelve hours a day, every day.

And that’s because for atmosphere—for vibe, for attitude, for feeling how a dead place moved back when it was alive—nothing beats the beat. If you can feel that beat in this book—if it smells like stale beer, sounds like cheap guitars played poorly but with great enthusiasm, and reading too many chapters at once gives you a vicious hangover—then I’ve done my job.

Buy The Unnoticeables today:
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Follow Robert Brockway on Twitter at @Brockway_LLC, on Facebook, or visit him online.

Goodreads Sweepstakes: Dragon Heart by Cecelia Holland

Dragon Heart by Cecelia HollandAbout Dragon Heart: Where the Cape of the Winds juts into the endless sea, there is Castle Ocean, and therein dwells the royal family that has ruled it from time immemorial. But there is an Empire growing in the east, and its forces have reached the castle. King Reymarro is dead in battle, and by the new treaty, Queen Marioza must marry one of the Emperor’s brothers. She loathes the idea, and has already killed the first brother, but a second arrives, escorted by more soldiers. While Marioza delays, her youngest son, Jeon, goes on a journey in search of his mute twin, Tirza, who needs to be present for the wedding.

As Jeon and Tirza return by sea, their ship is attacked by a shocking and powerful dragon, red as blood and big as the ship. Thrown into the water, Tirza clings to the dragon, and after an underwater journey, finds herself alone with the creature in an inland sea pool. Surprisingly, she is able to talk to the beast, and understand it.

So begins a saga of violence, destruction, and death, of love and monsters, human and otherwise.

In Dragon Heart, Cecelia Holland, America’s most distinguished historical novelist steps fully into the realm of fantasy and makes it her own.

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(Ends July 31)

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Femme Fatale eBook is Now on Sale for $2.99

Femme Fatale by Carole Nelson DouglasThe ebook for Femme Fatale by Carole Nelson Douglas is now on sale for $2.99!*

About Femme Fatale: Irene Adler is the only woman ever to have outwitted Sherlock Holmes… and the one who has come closest to stealing his heart.

She has competed (and sometimes cooperated) with the famous fictional detective over six popular and acclaimed novels, featuring her daring investigations across the Continent. All along, the beautiful and brilliant American diva-turned-detective has managed to conceal her background and history, even from her dashing barrister husband, Godfrey Norton, and her devoted companion and biographer, English spinster Nell Huxleigh.

But she has had some help along the way to do this, from such unlikely sources as the Baron de Rothschild, Sarah Bernhardt, and Bram Stoker, as well as the soon-to-be-infamous Nellie Bly, a daring American journalist who helped Irene hunt Jack the Ripper. Now Nellie has wired Irene some astounding news, news that will shake her world: Irene’s mother is the target of an assassin.

Irene’s past is shrouded in secrecy, and at first she is unwilling to divulge anything that would link her to America. But a series of bizarre killings in New York City draws her reluctantly back to her native country, where she must race with a murderer to find her mother, a woman of mystery who may turn out to be the most notorious woman of the nineteenth century.

As Irene forges a trail into her own hidden past, Nellie Bly draws another ace investigator across the Atlantic to join in the hunt for a serial killer, the last man on earth Irene Adler wants to discover anything about her shocking past… Sherlock Holmes.

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*sale ends July 31

Rebellion eBook is Now on Sale for $2.99

Rebellion by Ken ShufeldtThe ebook for Rebellion by Ken Shufeldt is now on sale for $2.99!*

About Rebellion: Bailouts and ambitious plans for recovery have failed to rescue the United States’s crumbling economy. As the country stands on the brink of total economic collapse, the president takes a desperate gamble and strikes a bargain with China to write off America’s debt. It seems a brilliant move—until the Supreme Court is destroyed by a cruise missile in a shocking attack and Manhattan is invaded. China has come to claim what’s theirs.

With American captives executed daily in national broadcasts by the attackers, the government in disarray, and US military forces shattered into local militias, all seems lost.

But deep in the heart of Texas the American spirit lives on. John David Drury, a young, untried, but highly qualified “four-star general” of a scrappy militia, along with Molly Spitz, a highly-ranked graduate of the Air Force Academy, prepares to lead a strike against New York City.

As in 1776, America’s fate once again hinges on rebellion in this action-packed novel by Ken Shufeldt.

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*sale ends July 31st

Sneak Peek: Forbidden by Cathy Clamp

Forbidden by Cathy ClampRead an excerpt from the newest book of the Sazi, Forbidden, by USA Today bestselling author Cathy Clamp, publishing August 18th.

CHAPTER 1

Fear wasn’t something Claire Evans thought she’d ever feel again, but an all-too-familiar buzzing filled her ears while bile rose into her throat. Adrenaline raced through her veins, and her muscles flexed involuntarily, as though striking at an invisible foe. The sensations were hardwired into her from that time, long ago. But now she was just a passenger in a car in rural Washington, with no enemy that she could feel or smell. Yet she was alert and wary.

“You feel it too, don’t you? The dark tightens around your throat like a hand.” Danielle’s tremulous whisper beside Claire made her start and turn her head to look at the lovely African-American woman driving the car.

She tried to shrug it off. “I’m a Sazi … a wolf. The dark doesn’t scare me.” So why is my heart pounding like it’s going to leap out of my chest? She stared out the windshield where the bright headlights barely held the night at bay, looking for something … anything that would explain what she was feeling. Analyze the fear, Claire. Force it to reveal itself.

Continue reading

Earthseed eBook is Now on Sale for $2.99

Earthseed by Pamela SargentThe ebook for Earthseed by Pamela Sargent is now on sale for $2.99!*

About Earthseed: Ship hurtles through space. Deep within its core, it carries the seed of humankind. Launched by the people of a dying Earth over a century ago, its mission is to find a habitable world for the children—fifteen-year-old Zoheret and her shipmates—whom it has created from its genetic banks.

To Zoheret and her shipmates, Ship has been mother, father, and loving teacher, preparing them for their biggest challenge: to survive on their own, on an uninhabited planet, without Ship’s protection. Now that day is almost upon them…but are they ready to leave Ship? Ship devises a test. And suddenly, instincts that have been latent for over a hundred years take over. Zoheret watches as friends become strangers—and enemies. Can Zoheret and her companions overcome the biggest obstacle to the survival of the human race—themselves?

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*sale ends July 31

Book Trailer: The Unnoticeables by Robert Brockway

UnnoticeablesTitleCard
The Unnoticeables by Robert Brockway

From Robert Brockway, Sr. Editor and Columnist of Cracked.com comes The Unnoticeables, a funny and frightening urban fantasy.

There are angels, and they are not beneficent or loving. But they do watch over us. They watch our lives unfold, analyzing us for repeating patterns and redundancies. When they find them, the angels simplify those patterns and remove the redundancies, and the problem that is “you” gets solved.

Carey doesn’t much like that idea. As a punk living in New York City, 1977, Carey is sick and tired of watching strange kids with unnoticeable faces abduct his friends. He doesn’t care about the rumors of tar-monsters in the sewers or unkillable psychopaths invading the punk scene—all he wants is to drink cheap beer and dispense ass-kickings.

Kaitlyn isn’t sure what she’s doing with her life. She came to Hollywood in 2013 to be a stunt woman, but last night a former teen heartthrob tried to eat her, her best friend has just gone missing, and there’s an angel outside her apartment. Whatever she plans on doing with her life, it should probably happen in the few remaining minutes she has left.

There are angels. There are demons. They are the same thing. It’s up to Carey and Kaitlyn to stop them. The survival of the human race is in their hands.

We are, all of us, well and truly screwed.

Preorder The Unnoticeables today:
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Follow Robert Brockway on Twitter at @Brockway_LLC, on Facebook, or visit him online.