We are at it again! Kicking off the year with a brand-new campaign: Full Steam Ahead!

Yes, we are funding more books. Yes, we would love if you would check them out, maybe show your support. But don’t think you have to do it blind. Here is a taste of Grease Monkeys: The Heart and Soul of Dieselpunk, an anthology that takes a look at the mechanics that keep the tech running and even mod it out beyond its original capabilities, striving for efficiency and peak performance or just keeping things going.

The other two books funding through the campaign are Grimm Machinations – the sequel to Gaslight & Grimm, bringing you even more steampunk faerie tales; and A Cast of Crows, a Poe-inspired steampunk collection created in conjunction with the Tell-Tale Steampunk Festival, but more on those later.

Over the course of the campaign, we will be sharing these excerpts so you can get to know our authors’s style.

Grease Monkeys 6 x 9

No Man’s Land
John L. French

He’s in the trenches, one of thousands, maybe tens of thousands. He looks to his left, an endless row of men. To his right, there is another endless row. All are like him, soldiers with tin pots on their heads and rifles in their hands. The dead are piled behind, and in front. They have long since run out of sandbags and now their comrades protect them one last time. Across the killing field, a trumpet blows. Drums beat. Men march slowly and steadily toward them.

The order is given. As one, they take aim through the gaps in their dead. On command, they open fire. The front row of the enemy goes down. The second row returns fire, guided by the muzzle flashes in the night. Men on either side of him fall. Some moan in pain, others lie silently and await their deaths.

Those still standing continue to fire. Those approaching shoot back. Men on both sides go down.

He takes a quick break, looks left then right. He thinks he can see the ends of each row. He turns back to the gap in the dead, sees the enemy still advancing. They march and shoot, march and shoot. With each volley, more of his comrades fall.

They should be on top of us by now, he thinks but somehow, they are not. He fires into their midst, over and over and over. He has fired his rifle maybe more than a hundred times. He does not remember reloading.

The number of men on either side of him is lesser and lesser. The number of the enemy is seemingly endless. Until they are not.

He stops firing and looks through the gap. No man’s land is filled with the enemy. None are standing. A ragged cheer runs through the trench, as if they had won a great victory. Well, they survived another night, which is victory enough.

Then the cheers turn to cries of horror. He looks out on the field. Through the fog of night and the mist of blood, he sees the bodies of the enemy rise. The endless number that has fallen stands up. After a minute, their lines reform and they resume their march.

He again starts firing, knowing what he does is pointless. You can’t kill what is already dead. Having fallen once, they will never go down.

Again, he looks to either side. There is no one left, no one but him. Still, he fires and fires and fires, and the dead come closer and closer and closer.


In the early morning just before sunrise, Victor wakes up screaming. His cries disturb the sleep of some of the patients on the ward. Others find them a relief, for his shouts have woken them from their own nightmares. The sisters go from bed to bed, doing what they can to ease their pain and calm their terror. There are too few to quickly attend to them all but still they try, and their very presence is a comfort.

In the distance comes the thunder of long-range guns. Even as Victor consoles himself with the thought, It was just a nightmare and for now, it’s over, the thunder reminds him that for the men on the line, the nightmare continues.

French 2017JOHN L. FRENCH is a retired crime scene supervisor with forty years’ experience. He has seen more than his share of murders, shootings, and serious assaults. As a break from the realities of his job, he started writing science fiction, pulp, horror, fantasy, and, of course, crime fiction.

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

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

John’s Amazon Author Page  *  John’s Facebook Page

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