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Just as a reminder, the Nebula Nominations end at midnight tonight. Here are a list of the eSpec Titles that are eligible for nomination.

eSpec Books

It is award season once again. For those interested, here is a list of our qualifying titles by publication month. For those eligible to nominate and vote for the Nebula Awards, files have been posted to the relevant SFWA forums, or you can contact the publisher.


Clockwork Solution 2 x 3NOVEL CATEGORY –
The Clockwork Solution by Michelle D. Sonnier

The Legacy of the Sortilege Line

Treated with disdain by her family her entire life for not living up to their expectations—or prophesy—Arabella Leyden forges her own path and attains her greatest wish: to join the Sisterhood of Witches, doing so in a manner no one ever anticipated.

As the first-ever technomancer, the way before her is fraught with peril. Can she survive the machinations of her order, or be ground between the gears of reluctant progress?

More important yet, can she succeed at her first assignment: find the root cause of the…

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We have already posted our Memoriam for David Sherman, but with the support and assistance of his family, we have put together this brief obituary. Apologies for the delay in posting, as we needed to confirm some of the details.

David ShermanDavid Sherman, aged 78, passed away quietly in the company of his friends and loved ones on November 16, 2022, in Ft Lauderdale, Florida, due to prolonged health complications. He was born on February 27, 1944, in Niles, Ohio. He joined the Marine Corps out of high school and served in Vietnam. David Sherman NamFrom April 1966 to September 1966, he was a squad leader with Combined Action Platoon and received numerous medals and citations.  After leaving active service, David moved to Philadelphia where he attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, becoming, for a brief time, an award-winning sculptor.

In 1983, David began his writing career with the novel Knives in the Night, published by Ivy Books, a division of Ballantine Books. He would go on to write over thirty novels, including the best-selling Starfist and Starfist: Force Recon series and the Star Wars novel Jedi Trial with co-author Dan Cragg, and his solo series, DemonTech. His short fiction appeared in Weird Trails, the award-winning Defending the Future series, and the award-winning Bad-Ass Faeries anthologies. Much of his fiction drew on his combat experience. For years, David was a fixture at many east coast science fiction conventions, including Philcon and Balticon.

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

In his later years, he found it difficult to continue to write about war, focusing instead on weird western and steampunk short fiction, but with the help of author Keith R.A. DeCandido he did complete his original novel series The 18th Race trilogy (Issue In Doubt, In All Directions, and To Hell and Regroup). In a nod to those who served, every character mentioned in the series was named after a recipient of the Medal of Honor.

Vest of the Pecos, a collection of his steampunk short stories, will be published posthumously by eSpec Books, under their Paper Phoenix Press imprint.

David is survived by his siblings, Bev Taylor, Robert Towles, Mary Carano, and their respective families. He leaves behind many friends and fans to give tribute to his memory.


The eSpec family has lost one of its beloved members. David Sherman passed away on the afternoon of November 16. He has been a friend and family by choice for nearly twenty years. He has supported and encouraged us from the moment we met. He contributed to many of the anthologies we curated and later published. When we formed eSpec Books, he entrusted us with his orphaned novels.

Best known for the Starfist series of novels, co-authored with Dan Cragg, and the DemonTech series, David is loved by fans all over the world.

The Works of David Sherman

Short Fiction
“Glass Shades” in After Punk
“The Price of Friendship” in In All Their Glory
“Vest of the Pecos” in Trouble On the Water
“Surrender or Die” in So It Begins
“Delaying Action” in By Other Means
“Contained Vacuum” in In Harm’s Way

The Night Fighters
Knives in the Night
Main Force Assault
Out of the Fire

A Rock and a Hard Place
A Nghu Night Falls
Charlie Don’t Live Here Anymore
There I Was
The Squad
The Junkyard Dogs
The Hunt

Rally Point
Gulf Run

(with Dan Cragg)
First to Fight
School of Fire
Steel Gauntlet
Blood Contact
Kingdom’s Swords
Kingdom’s Fury
Lazarus Rising
A World of Hurt
Wings of Hell
Double Jeopardy

Starfist: Force Recon
(with Dan Cragg)

Star Wars
(with Dan Cragg)
Jedi Trial

18th Race
Issue In Doubt
In All Directions
To Hell and Regroup (with Keith R.A. DeCandido)

In his later years, he created the 18th Race trilogy, but worsening PTSD prevented him from completing the last novel. He requested that Keith R.A. DeCandido, who edited the previous two novels (Issue in Doubt and In All Directions) complete the series using David’s existing copy and the notes he had written on the project. That final volume, To Hell and Regroup released in 2020.

David Sherman

When military science fiction woke too many old ghosts for him, he turned his creativity toward steampunk adventures with his infamous Kitty Belle and remembered that writing could be fun again. He was a quiet man who never wanted to impose, loved scones, and went down to the coffee shop to write. In his later years, he found the family he never knew he had and formed connections that were precious to him. Both they and the family David chose were with him in the end, and his passing was peaceful.

He leaves a hole in our hearts we can only fill with precious memories. May his writing continue to bring enjoyment to his many fans.


This is it, folks…

eSpec Books Fantastic Novels is in the final hours and I am holding my breath waiting to see exactly how many of those remaining rewards we unlock. If you haven’t already, please consider clicking the link and checking out the campaign. The more we raise, the more we can compensate the authors for their work, and the better we can make the books.

You’ve met all of our talents at least briefly, and Ef and Aaron in more depth, but now we delve deeper into the frenetic personality that is Keith R.A. DeCandido, the man with so many different voices in his head that I can’t even count how many books he has released anymore, or how many series he dabbles in. And you know what, all of them are delightful! You may already know this, but it bears saying, Keith is one talented writer! Here is what he has to say about Phoenix Precinct and other works he is currently working on.

eSpec Books interviews Keith R.A. DeCandido, author of The Precinct series of fantasy police procedurals, among many, many other things.

eSB: You have been writing in your Precinct universe for some time. Six novels and who knows how many stories. But my questions is, where did you get the idea for such a unique mash-up?

KRAD: The series is a mashup of two of my favorite sub-genres. I’ve been a fan of cop stories going back to my youth watching Barney Miller and Hill Street Blues, and I’ve been a fan of epic fantasy since being given J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Earthsea Trilogy as young child. I’d also had the characters of Torin ban Wyvald and Danthres Tresyllione bouncing around in my head for years—both were RPG characters I played in my twenties. I struggled for years to find a story worthy of the two of them, and I finally hit upon making them detectives.

eSB: Other than your main characters, do you have any favorites among those reoccurring, and why?

Tales from Dragon Precinct 2x3KRAD: Aleta lothLathna was just supposed to be a guest star in a single story, “Catch and Release” in Tales from Dragon Precinct. I was rather caught off guard to realize that she was going to pretty much force herself to become a major supporting character.

eSB: You have mentioned that there really is no room for expansion in your fantasy police force, no more precincts to focus on, but does that mean the tale is done after the final planned novel, Manticore Precinct? What hope can you give those who have fallen in love with these flatfeets?

KRAD: Oh, there are more stories to be told. I already have a notion in mind for the next book after Manticore Precinct. I’ll have to change the title style for the series, but that’s okay…

eSB: Law enforcement of one manner or another seems to be a reoccurring theme in your original fiction. Is there a reason for this, or is it just that they are fun to write? But if so, why do you find them enjoyable/inspiring?

KRAD: I mentioned above that I loved Barney Miller and Hill Street Blues as a kid, and some of my other favorite TV shows are The Wire, Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and The Shield. There’s something about the process of solving a crime that fascinates me, as well as the politics and bureaucracy that come with having a police force. Plus I absolutely love writing interrogation scenes. My favorite part of every Precinct novel to date has been the interrogation scenes…

eSB: You have a diverse cast among your characters, with a wide range of socio-economic groups and typical challenges and conflicts found in an urban setting, which is unavoidable with any police procedural. How do you approach them to put a fresh spin?

KRAD: Honestly, one of the advantages of working in an urban setting, whether it’s Cliff’s End or New York City, is that there are tons of stories to tell precisely because there are so many types of people of different races, classes, religions, desires, jobs, etc. It’s an infinite storytelling well to dip into.

eSB: What makes Phoenix Precinct different from the other cases encountered by the Cliff’s End Guard?

HaftScale-Proof-MermaidKRAD: One of the things I put into Mermaid Precinct to set Phoenix Precinct up was to have a population influx of refugees from Barlin, which suffered a major fire that displaced a chunk of its population. While the difficulties in integrating the refugees into Cliff’s End was a subplot in Mermaid, it’s front and center in Phoenix, and is inspired by anti-immigrant sentiment that you’ve seen throughout history, from ancient Greeks referring to non-Greeks as “barbarians” to the way Italian, Irish, and Asian immigrants were treated in this country when they first got here (it’s not widely discussed, but the biggest single mass lynching in American history wasn’t of African-Americans, but of Italians in New Orleans in 1891) to recent poor treatments of American immigrants who are Muslim or who come from Latin America.

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

KRAD: When my 2006 Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel Blackout came out, I was asked by a local NYC band, the Randy Bandits, to do a joint promotion/concert thing with them. I promoted the novel, they sang a couple of songs from the Buffy musical episode as part of their set, and we even did a dramatic reading of a scene from the novel. It was probably the most bizarre book event I’ve ever done, but I sold a bunch of books, so that was cool. I also sat in with the Bandits on percussion on a couple of songs.

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

KRAD: Well, I’m a fourth-degree black belt in karate, which probably won’t surprise all my readers, as I talk about it a lot. Of course, a lot of the people I encounter in my karate teaching and training would be very surprised to learn that I’m an award-winning author of SF/fantasy/horror, so there’s that…

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

SP - All-The-Way House 2 x 3KRAD: I have three other original series running. One is an urban fantasy set in New York that features monster hunters called Coursers. There’s one novel, A Furnace Sealed, with Book 2, Feat of Clay, due out next year, one novella, the Systema Paradoxa book All-the-Way House, and short stories in Liar Liar, Bad Ass Moms, and Devilish and DivineBad-Ass-Moms 2 x 3. One is a cycle of urban fantasy short stories set in Key West that involve rock music, SCUBA diving, Norse gods, folklore, and beer drinking, the first batch of which were in the collection Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet, and more of which will be out next year in Ragnarok and a Hard Place: More Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet. And I’ve written one novel (The Case of the Claw), three novellas (Avenging Amethyst, Undercover Blues, Secret Identities), and three short stories (in With Great Power, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, and Tales of Capes and Cowls) in the Super City Cops series, about cops in a city filled with superheroes—doing for superheroes what the Precinct books do for fantasy.

2022 has also been The Year Of The Short Story for me: I’ve got tons of stories out this year, in Phenomenons: Every Human Creature, Three Time Travelers Walk Into…, The Fans are Buried Tales, Zorro’s Exploits, Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2022, The Eye of Argon and the Further Adventures of Grignr, Ludlow Charlington’s Doghouse, and the aforementioned Tales of Capes and Cowls.

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

KRAD: Besides the ones I mentioned above, I’ve got a Resident Evil comic book debuting in October. This is the official prequel to the Netflix animated series Infinite Darkness, and it’s titled The Beginning; it’s got phenomenal art by Carmelo Zagaria. I’ve got stories coming in Joe Ledger: Unbreakable and Phenomenons: Season of Darkness. And of course, there will be Manticore Precinct. Plus I’ve got some other stuff in development…

eSB: How can readers find out more about you?

KRAD: Click on the links below….

Keith R.A. DeCandido

Keith R.A. DeCandido is a white male in his early fifties, approximately two hundred pounds. He was last seen in the wilds of the Bronx, New York City, though he is often sighted in other locales. Usually, he is armed with a laptop computer, which some have classified as a deadly weapon. Through use of this laptop, he has inflicted more than fifty novels, as well as an indeterminate number of comic books, nonfiction, novellas, and works of short fiction on an unsuspecting reading public. Many of these are set in the milieus of television shows, games, movies, and comic books, among them Star Trek, Alien, Cars, Resident Evil, Doctor Who, Supernatural, World of Warcraft, Marvel Comics, and many more.

We have received information confirming that more stories involving Danthres, Torin, and the city-state of Cliff’s End can be found in the novels Dragon Precinct, Unicorn Precinct, Goblin PrecinctGryphon Precinct, Tales from Dragon Precinct, and the forthcoming Manticore Precinct and More Tales from Dragon Precinct. His other recent crimes against humanity include an urban fantasy series taking place in DeCandido’s native Bronx (A Furnace Sealed and the forthcoming Feat of Clay, with more threatened); the urban fantasy short story collection Ragnarok and a Hard Place: More Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet; the Systema Paradoxa novella All-the-Way House; the graphic novel prequel to the Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness TV series, The Beginning; short stories in the anthologies Devilish and Divine, Three Time Travelers Walk Into…, The Fans are Buried Tales, and in the Phenomenons and Thrilling Adventure Yarns series; and nonfiction about pop culture for, the Subterranean Blue Grotto, Outside In, and Gold Archive series, and on his own Patreon. Among his known associates are collaborators in his crimes against humanity: Dr. Munish K. Batra (the serial-killer thriller Animal), David Sherman (the military SF novel To Hell and Regroup), and Gregory A. Wilson (the award-winning graphic novel Icarus).

If you see DeCandido, do not approach him, but call for backup immediately. He is often seen in the company of a suspicious-looking woman who goes by the street name of “Wrenn,” as well as several as-yet-unidentified cats. A full dossier can be found at

Where you can learn more about Keith:

WebsiteBlog – GoodReads – AmazonYouTube

And follow him on social media:

Twitter – Facebook – Instagram


Do you like free books? I guess I already know the answer that one…

Do you have a NetGalley account? If so, great! If no, they are free to sign up for and once you have one, you can request all kinds of book to review, some of them before they’ve even released! From large publishing houses and small. Here’s a link to NetGalley in case you want to sign up. 

So, normally I would be making this post at the beginning of the month, but for reasons, that didn’t happen. Our October listings only went live on NetGalley today, and deep thanks to those who made that possible because this clearly is the most ideal month for the following offerings. The first is Even in the Grave, a ghost anthology featuring many of the members of the New York chapter of the Horror Writers Association; and the second is Rags by Ty Drago, a brilliant bit of nostalgia steeped in stark terror. You can read more about both books below. Once you do, we hope you will click the links below to head over to NetGalley and request them.

Even in the Grave

edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander

“In death – no! even in the grave all is not lost.”
–Edgar Allan Poe

Low ResWandering souls! Restless spirits! The vengeful dead! Those who die with unfinished business haunt the living and make their presence known from the world beyond: 

A scientist’s invention opens a window onto a terrible afterlife.

A New York City apartment holds the secrets of the dead.

A grandmother sends text messages from the grave.

A samurai returns to his devastated home for a final showdown with his past.

A forgotten TV game show haunts a man with a dark secret.

A tapping from behind classroom walls leads to a horrible discovery.

The specter of a prehistoric beast returns to a modern-day ranch.

And the one seeing eye knows all—including what you did.

Haunted from the other side, these stories roam from modern cities to the shadowed moors to feudal Japan to the jungles of Central America, each providing a spine-chilling glimpse into the shadows not even death can restrain. 

Do you dare open these pages and peer into the darkness they reveal?

Stories by Marc L. Abbott, Meghan Arcuri, Oliver Baer, Alp Beck, Allan Burd, John P. Collins, Randee Dawn, Trevor Firetog, Caroline Flarity, Patrick Freivald, Teel James Glenn, Amy Grech, April Grey, Jonathan Lees, Gordon Linzner, Robert Masterson, Robert P. Ottone, Rick Poldark, Lou Rera, and Steven Van Patten.


by Ty Drago

RagsByTyDrago_FrontAtlantic City, 1982

One cold December night, sixteen-year-old Abby Lowell and her foster sister are rescued by a mysterious and deadly figure in rags and a large hood. Abby never learns his name and never sees his face, but he’s obviously good with that black-bladed knife of his, very good.

Abby dubs him “Rags.”

But Rags isn’t done, not by a long shot. With her foster family under threat from the ruthless Bernards, who are determined to tear down their dilapidated hotel in favor of yet another casino, Abby finds herself in desperate need of a defender. A part of her is relieved when Rags returns to protect her again. And again. And again.

Now, with an army of thugs and a terrifying Voodoo witch hunting her, Abby must not only understand the dark truth behind Rags. She must accept that truth, frightening as it is, before it’s too late.


I have learned not to form preconceived notions when it comes to Aaron Rosenberg’s writing. He is nothing if not versatile and creative. Yeti Left Home is no exception, a quirky and exciting urban fantasy, this book takes monster-of-the-week to a whole new level. Filled with cryptids and other assorted fae, it will keep you turning pages long into the night. Settle back and enjoy this sneak peek of Aaron’s cryptid-in-the-city adventure, which is funding right now as a part of our eSpec Books Fantastic Novels campaign (which is ending soon!), along with Keith R.A. DeCandido’s Phoenix Precinct and Ef Deal’s Esprit de Corpse. Still no cover, but enjoy!

Chapter Six

Wylie’s first instinct, born from his early years, was to go completely still. Of course, that had worked a lot better when he’d been clad in only his fur and was hoping to blend into the equally white snow all around him!

“I said stop!” the shouter continued in a deep, strong voice, which puzzled Wylie further. He had stopped! What was the man on about?

Heavy footsteps thudded on the sidewalk—someone his own size or perhaps even bigger, from the sound of it!

Wylie glanced behind him. And stared.

Because what he saw simply made no sense.

First off, the pounding was coming from a small figure he quickly recognized as the boy street artist. How was he making such a racket when he was so small and slight?

Second, the boy was running away from Wylie, not toward him.

Third, he was not the only one running.

A man was fleeing, or trying to—despite the differences in their size, the boy quickly caught up with him. He looked familiar, and after a second, Wylie realized it was the same guy he’d just bumped into over by the trash can. Maybe he’d been littering? If so, they were really strict about that around here!

“Hand it over!” the boy demanded, and the deep voice proved to be his as well. The man resisted—and the boy grabbed him by the front of his jacket and hoisted him up into the air like an empty sack until his feet dangled off the ground, kicking uselessly. “I said hand it over!”

The man fumbled something out of a pocket, which the boy accepted before tossing his captive aside like so much trash. Evidently, the impact had not been severe, however, because a second later, the man stumbled back to his feet and hurried off, limping slightly. The other people around quickly turned away, acting as if they hadn’t seen any of that but giving both of the figures involved a wide berth.

And the boy had now turned and was heading toward Wylie instead.

“Here you go,” the little youngster said as he reached Wylie. He was holding out—Wylie’s wallet. “I saw him nick it. Can’t be having that, not on my watch.”

“Oh.” Wylie accepted the wallet back. It didn’t have much in it, really—his driver’s license and fishing license, a single twenty-dollar bill for emergencies, an old silver coin he’d found in a fish a few years back and had thought was neat—but still, he appreciated the gesture. “Thanks.”

Up close, he quickly revised his impression of his savior. The “boy” was older than he thought, definitely an adult, albeit a small one. His face was clean-shaven and did have a boyish look, which was only added to by the long reddish-blond hair that flowed free from his cap, but his gray eyes were older and far too worldly to be those of a youth.

The cap drew Wylie’s attention next. It was sort of a newsboy style, he’d guess, rounded in back and peaked in front, and it was a bright, vivid red that looked almost wet, it was so glossy. Otherwise, the boy—man—wore jeans, a T-shirt, a hoodie, and a lined denim jacket.

And the biggest boots Wylie had ever seen.

They looked like ski boots, those big, puffy things that resembled an entire layer of bubble wrap—Wylie had seen those advertised before and occasionally on tourists passing through town. Only these had a dull metallic sheen to them—not bright like chrome, more like old, heavy iron or lead, something like that. Were they actually made of metal? That and their size would explain the tremendous footsteps, at least!

The little man was examining him right back. “So, what’re you, exactly?” he asked, tilting his head to the side and leaning back to peer up at Wylie properly. “Sasquatch? Ogre? Troll?”

“What?” Wylie frowned, shaking his head and wondering if he’d heard correctly. “I—don’t know what you mean.”

In response, his interrogator winked at him. “Oh, sure you do,” he said with a grin. “Come on, lad. No need to be bashful—you’re among friends here. I’m just curious, is all.”

Suddenly very aware of the other people around—who were clearly listening in on the conversation even as they pretended not to be—Wylie held up his hands, the wallet still enfolded in one, and backed away. “No, sorry, I think there’s been some mistake. Thanks again, but I need to—I’ve got to go.”

And he turned and ran.

He wasn’t entirely sure where he was going, of course. He didn’t know this city at all. But he had to get away from this odd little man with his even odder questions.

Sasquatch? As if! But who here in this metropolis even believed in such things?

Wylie had on occasion encountered adults able to see him for what he was, of course, or at least enough to make them realize he wasn’t quite normal. Not quite human. “Second Sight,” a cousin had explained once when he was young, and they’d heard about a woman who’d seen another of their kin, seen them clearly. “Not many have it, and those who do, most don’t realize what it is. But the few who do, they’re dangerous. Steer clear if you can.”

Well, that was exactly what he aimed to do now!

So, he ran, shoving past people with muttered apologies, squeezing through groups and small crowds, turning down streets at random, rushing across them to the honks of cars and the screech of brakes, until his heart hammered in his chest and his breath came in great, rasping gasps. Then he finally skidded to a halt, ducking around a building to shelter in the alley beside it, where he could lean over, resting his hands on his knees as he struggled to breathe again.

But at least he’d lost that stranger.

“You’re pretty fast on your feet for such a big fella,” a voice called from above, and Wylie straightened, peering up.

At the red-capped man, who dangled from a nearby fire escape.

“How?” he managed as the man grasped the railing and flipped forward, dropping gracefully to the ground.

“Parkour,” the stranger replied. “A lot faster going over buildings than around ’em.” He eyed the alley they were in. “Ah, gotcha—a more private place for such talk, am I right? No worries, man. I hear ya. Shoulda been more circumspect, you’re right. My bad.” He shrugged. “Anyway, Knox Adair’s the name. Red Cap, obv. And you are?” And he held out his hand.

Wylie accepted the proffered handshake purely on reflex, which is also why he answered, “Wylie Kang. Uh”—he faltered under the other’s steady gaze but finally mumbled—“Yeti.”

“For real?” The man’s—Knox’s—eyes widened. “Nice! Never met one of you lot before. New to the city, then?”

Wylie nodded, his brain still dazed by this strange turn of events. “Got in last night. You—sorry, did you say ‘Red Cap’?”

“Yep.” Knox pulled off the cap and twirled it on his finger before setting it jauntily back atop his head. “You know, Red Caps? Goblins from the English-Scottish border? Short, strong, big iron boots, caps dipped in the blood of their enemies?” He must have seen Wylie’s horrified expression because he let out a laugh that sounded far too light and cheerful for such a gruesome description. “Naw, no blood here, mate, don’t worry. Oil paint, dontcha know? Gift of the gods, that is—never truly dries out. Amazing stuff.”

“I—” Wylie didn’t even know what to say to that. On some level, he’d known there were other supernaturals in the world. After all, his father had talked about Hunters as going after all of them, not just Yeti. And some of the shows he’d watched over the years, they’d featured such creatures—vampires and werewolves, mostly, but here and there a few others, like Goblins or Ghouls or Bigfoots. Plus, of course, he’d seen those movies with the elves and dwarves and orcs and so on.

He’d just never thought any of it was real. Not truly. He’d figured they were just stories, myths, tall tales, and the like. After all, the only creatures he’d ever seen that weren’t human or regular animals were, well, other Yeti. But evidently, that was just another result of his sheltered lifestyle.

“So, you live here? In the city?” he asked now. He’d expected to see all kinds of new sights here, of course. But another supernatural hadn’t been one of them!

“You betcha,” Knox replied. He flung his arms wide, and Wylie noted that the little man’s hands were dusted with bright colors, presumably from his art. “Welcome to the Twin Cities! Best place in the whole world! What’s your pleasure? Music? Art? Food? Sports? Ladies? Gents? We got it all!”

“I—” Wylie frowned. “I’m just—I just need a place to lay low for a bit,” he admitted slowly, not used to explaining himself to others. “To hide out and be safe.”

“Safe? From what? Big strong guy like you, what’re you afraid of, huh?” Knox elbowed him in the side. “Is it a jealous ex? I’ve had plenty of those, let me tell you! That ain’t fun, can’t blame you for running from something like that!”

“No, no, nothing like that.” Wylie shook his head. “Look, I should really— thanks again. About the wallet. I don’t want any trouble. Just looking to keep to myself for a bit.” He turned and started out of the alley, his heart rate almost back to normal now despite the strangeness of this conversation.

“Oh. Hey, yeah, no worries. If you’re sure.” From the lack of footsteps, Knox wasn’t following, for which Wylie was grateful. “You change your mind and need a local guide, though,” the little man—Goblin?—called after him, “you know where to find me! That picture ain’t gonna finish itself!”

Wylie held up a hand in a vague wave, acknowledging the offer, as he stepped back onto the main sidewalk and quickly marched away, trying once more to lose himself in the crowd.

He didn’t look back.


First sighted in the wilds of New Jersey, the cryptid known as “Aaron Rosenberg” or “the Gryphon Rose” has been seen as far afield as New Orleans and Lawrence, Kansas, but for the past twenty-five years has been primarily found in and around New York City. Though a sociable creature, Rosenberg has been known to unleash cutting wit and biting sarcasm, often upon those pulled into his expansive social circle. When not utilizing such weapons on the unwary, or camouflaging himself as the web content manager for a financial trade organization (previous disguises have included “college professor,” “animation studio creative director,” “film studio script supervisor,” and “children’s book publisher desktop coordinator”), the Gryphon Rose can most often be found pounding the keys of a battered laptop or equally dilapidated desktop, engaged in his most beloved activity—writing.

Over the past thirty years, Rosenberg’s particular brand of storytelling has been traced to more than two hundred publications, including roughly four dozen novels in a variety of imaginative genres, from horror to comedy to action-adventure to mystery to various shades of science fiction and fantasy. His unique approach has been conclusively linked to the bestselling sci-fi comedy series The Adventures of DuckBob Spinowitz, the Anime-esque epic fantasy series the Relicant Chronicles, the space-opera series Tales of the Dread Remora, the period cryptid mystery Gone to Ground, the pirate fantasy mystery adventure Deadly Fortune, the historic dark fantasy Time of the Phoenix, and, in a rare collaboration with unsuspecting human David Niall Wilson, the occult thriller series OCLT. Rosenberg is also believed to be responsible for the award-winning Bandslam: The Junior Novel, the bestselling Finding Gobi: Young Reader’s Edition, the #1 bestseller 42: The Jackie Robinson Story, and the original children’s book series STEM Squad and Pete and Penny’s Pizza Puzzles.

Nor has this strange and prolific creature limited himself to original work. Rosenberg has also inveigled himself into various tie-in worlds, producing novels for such properties as Star TrekWorld of WarcraftWarhammerStargate: AtlantisShadowrunEureka, and Mutants & Masterminds, and short stories for The X-Files, James Bond, Deadlands, Zorro, and many more. The Gryphon Rose has even made his mark on roleplaying games, writing the original games AsylumSpookshow, and Chosen, and doing work for other games by Wizards of the Coast, Fantasy Flight, Pinnacle Entertainment, and many others—he won an Origins Award for the book Gamemastering Secrets and an ENnie for the Warhammer supplement Lure of the Lich Lord!

When Rosenberg is not writing at breakneck speeds, working alongside regular folk, or deploying snark against those who call him friend, he can be found reading, watching TV and movies, eating, and spending time with his mate “Jenifer” and their two offspring.

To follow more of this strange creature’s adventures, monitor him through his site at, observe him on Facebook at, and watch his antics on Twitter @gryphonrose. Just be prepared for frequent dad jokes and daily writing updates.


We did one of these already when we were funding the book, but as Daire’s Devils just released on February 1, we thought it was time to do another one. Hope you enjoy!

FB-McP-DairesDevilsChapter 7

Kat’s nerves twitched as she hauled the recovery kit. Not the easiest thing to drag around. It kind of resembled one of those shower kits with all the individual zipped compartments that unrolled flat so you could access everything or bundle it up compact for storage… only monster-sized. Bulky as sin and a pain in the ass to maneuver (clearly, the designers had not considered the dimensions of the various hatches it would have to go through), but better than losing several years’ pay replacing tools lost to the vacuum of space.

When she finally managed to exit the transport, Kat had her first eyes-on view of the rock-ship. The rest of the retrieval team, already halfway there, put the shattered mass into perspective. Compared to the vessel she’d just left, it was a toy. The inside had to have had just barely enough room for Ghei to move around, with some storage for necessities. She could not conceive that it was ever meant for manned space travel.

Scotch and Brockmann confirmed her suspicions as they reached the derelict ahead of her. *Damn!* Scotch’s response came drawn out and stunned. *Sarge,* he called over the squad band, *this man was not here willingly.*

Kat came up behind him and grudgingly concurred. It pissed her off, leaving her conflicted in her hatred. A closer look inside the pod revealed two things: the body was restrained, not secured, and the vessel had been welded shut. Whether the remains strapped to the conchair were Ghei or not, whoever it was, he was a victim not a collaborator.

*Get to work on that system, Kittie,* Scotch said as Brockmann grabbed the retrieval gear from Kat and scrambled over the jagged lip. The woman lost no time transferring the remains to the cryobag and scouring the inside of the compartment for anything that would aid them in their pursuit. Kat didn’t know what disturbed her more: the pirates’ ruthlessness or the detached manner in which her squadmate performed her task.

*Come on!* Scotch snapped, drawing Kat out of her thoughts. *You have a job to do, so do it. I’m not too comfortable with our asses hanging out here.*

Kat found no convenient jack-in port this time. Not because the pirates were tricky, but because of their brutality. Her search for the primary systems didn’t turn up much. Literally. No navigation system. No drive computer. Nothing but life support, communications, and some modified gear she couldn’t identify—likely something to do with the composite’s remote operation. This was no ship. It was a coffin. Drop ’em and leave ’em was the catchphrase here. Kat’s stomach turned violently. Even if the real Ghei had been a willing participant, he didn’t deserve this end. No one did. Which kind of robbed her of her focus. Having a face to hate made it easier to get a handle on things. Ghei had been a known quantity. Now, the enemy remained unidentified, which gave them the edge. That really pissed her off.

She turned her mind back to the task at hand. Without any kind of port for infiltration, it would take too long to hack in manually. Her air supply would deplete well before she finished, assuming external forces didn’t interfere first. She powered up the microtorch she’d attached to her gauntlet, physically extracted what computer systems there were, and slid them into her kit.

Crawling out from where she’d completed the extraction, Kat bumped into the conchair. She flinched and turned, her mind still seeing the partial remains. Reality interjected, though. At eye level, she now saw the bottom edge of the conchair arm. The foam padding was shredded. Not clawed or torn, but little bits picked out quite purposefully. In an instant of epiphany, the memory of Ghei’s plucking fingers came to mind. Kat understood now that he’d tried to leave them—or someone, anyway—intel. A name? Hard to say. The letters had been picked out by feel. The first one might be a ‘C,’ or maybe an ‘L,’ and the last was definitely an ‘N,’ but those in between all ran together in haphazard plucks. Maybe someone back on the Cromwell could decipher them using a digital scan.

Using the sensors on her helmet, Kat snapped an image of Ghei’s message and the chair itself direct to her tablet for later review, just in case. Quickly, she scanned the interior of the rock-ship and the remains of the chair from all sides, maneuvering to stay out of her teammates’ way. With her task complete, she pushed off before remembering she was also there to play mule. Kat pivoted back.

*Hey, Scotch…* The rest of her words drifted off as the section of space past his shoulder came into view. *Ah, hell! Company on your six.*

Scotch cursed, and Kat faintly heard him mutter about vipers in the nest. Someone on the inside had to have given them away. Was it someone on the Cromwell? Or one of their own men? Kat mirrored Scotch’s curse. But now was not the time to dwell on betrayal. There were pirates to fight.

Scotch and Brockmann carefully fired their jets for a controlled turn toward the incoming threat. Both of them brought to bear their recoilless rifles, though what good the weapons would be against an attacking frigate, Kat couldn’t imagine. Of course, how pathetic did that make her when she looked down to spy the pulse pistol Scotch had given her in her grip? Remembering her orders, she shoved it back into the pocket she’d drawn it from and turned to secured the gear.

*Leave it and get back to the ship!* Scotch ordered.

*Hell no! I can’t afford the replacement charge.*

*I said get out of here!* he growled. *We’ll grab the gear.*

Kat wanted to argue, but she knew she wouldn’t win and distracting those with the weapons to defend them put everyone at risk. She took mere seconds to secure her tablet and abandoned the rest, as ordered. Then, with a blast of her thrusters, she jetted toward the Teufel’s airlock even before Sarge’s command to retreat came over the band.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail 2021

Award-winning author, editor, and publisher Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for longer than she cares to admit. In 2014 she joined forces with husband Mike McPhail and friend Greg Schauer to form her own publishing house, eSpec Books.

Her published works include seven novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court, The Redcaps’ Queen, Daire’s Devils, and Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, written with Day Al-Mohamed. She is also the author of the solo collections Eternal Wanderings, A Legacy of Stars, Consigned to the Sea, Flash in the Can, Transcendence, Between Darkness and Light, and the non-fiction writers’ guides The Literary Handyman, More Tips from the Handyman, and LH: Build-A-Book Workshop. She is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Gaslight & Grimm, Side of Good/Side of Evil, After Punk, and Footprints in the Stars. Her short stories are included in numerous other anthologies and collections.

In addition to her literary acclaim, she crafts and sells original costume horns under the moniker The Hornie Lady Custom Costume Horns, and homemade flavor-infused candied ginger under the brand of Ginger KICK! at literary conventions, on commission, and wholesale.

Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail and four extremely spoiled cats.


This one is so new we don’t even have a cover yet. Heck, the book is still funding on Kickstarter (Hint…Hint…) but we’ve enjoyed Daire’s Devils by Danielle Ackley-McPhail so much, we really wanted to share it with you while you still had a chance to get in on the action. This is an action-packed, character-driven military science fiction novel based on the Alliance Archives MRPG developed by Mike McPhail in the early ’80s. 


Chapter 1

Corporal Katrion Alexander could see no stars.

Well, not from the command deck of the Groom Experimental Complex, anyway. The filter of the protective shielding and the harsh electric glare lighting the compartment rendered anything that would have been visible to her unaided eye imperceptible. Two hundred and seventy degrees of pure, inky black surrounded her. That’s why she liked being in space so much lately. It matched her mood.

Like tonight, for instance, brand-new to this post, she’d barely been on the station two hours when the officer of the watch tapped her to cover a shift for someone named Simmons who had reported to sickbay. Kat hadn’t even requisitioned her kit from stores yet.

What a classic SNAFU. Everything was off-kilter. Schedules delayed, launch sequences misaligned, posts vacant. With typical military efficiency, everyone’s signals had been crossed. Kat had a recall out for the deck crew mistakenly given liberty, but she didn’t hold much hope they’d surface. Just as well. She could use the solitude, and one command console operated pretty much like any other in the military. The United States Aerospace Command, or AeroCom, favored consistency… in their tech, anyway. Besides, she’d opted for computer infiltration specialist for her military occupational specialty. There wasn’t a system in service or development she couldn’t run, take apart, or break into.

She was familiarizing herself with this particular setup when a change in the outside ambiance drew her attention.

“Oh, mercy!” She let out an appreciative breath as the ship she’d just cleared for departure came into view directly overhead. If the flight path hadn’t crossed a few klicks above her observation dome, she likely wouldn’t have seen the ship’s movement. The Galloway, a prototype Chamberlain-class attack vessel built and outfitted right here at the research-and-development end of the station, blended into the texture of space. Her running lights flickered, the only glimmer against the darkness, barely illuminating the dull matte finish of the hull in microbursts. The black surface’s engineered tincture all but absorbed the flashes, further dampened by the almost cellular hatch markings engraved on the ablative hull plating. The ultimate in space camo for ships. AeroCom’s systems registered the vessel—they knew what to look for—but, as of yet, no one else could. If it weren’t for alert beacons used during conventional flight, the ship would have been a hazard. Shielded against every form of observation short of up-close visual sight, the vessel represented a covert marvel, the prize of any fleet. The trade-off to achieve the equivalent of a sniper ship: the Galloway sacrificed heavier armor for speed, advanced stealth, and weaponry. So, basically, she wasn’t any more difficult to disable than her less stealthy counterparts once the adversary knew her coordinates.

Of course… by then, it was theoretically too late.

Ping. Ping.

Kat didn’t even twitch as the comm system alert tone sounded through the chamber. That would be Tac Stanton, commander of the Alexi, the ship that should have been the next to deploy. Let him stew. She’d encountered him before. Never a pleasant experience. In fact, he seemed to go out of his way to be as difficult as possible, no matter the situation. He should be grateful his ship was getting out of here any time this solar week, given the mess she’d had to sort through when she came on shift.

As the Galloway deployed, Kat’s gut flared with the burn of pre-battle tension. She should be on that ship. Instead, they’d stuck her on this station while others… while her team went off to patrol the stars.

The resentment still burned raw. She had just climbed from the ranks of combat infantry to special ops, only to be notified that she had psych-tested out of her team after only a month. Kat expected that her mother actually had something to do with that ruling. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d called in favors to interfere with Kat’s “reckless” career choices. Hell, Kat had journeyed all the way to the Tau Ceti star system to enlist with AeroCom. Not that the distance had proven completely successful. Kat had more than enough points to have earned her sergeant’s stripes but Mother had her papers so tied up in red tape that Kat might be retired before she ranked up. Not that she had any proof of that, beyond past experience…

In any case, for reasons military command wouldn’t explain, they had given Kat two options: punch a keypad, or push a broom. Rebelliously, she’d nearly grabbed for the broom. Let them waste years of intensive military training and proven combat experience, right along with her multi-million-dollar transport fee.

Only her honor stood in the way of such retaliation. She had sworn an oath to stand between the common people and the harm they might suffer from not only the Legion but at the hands of pirates and corporations and the faceless, as-yet-undiscovered dangers lurking in space. AeroCom might have forgotten this. Kat could not.

Kat swallowed her bitterness and grudgingly accepted her unsought role of station support staff. She would diligently work every shift she could pull to bring her closer to the day she earned her ticket home. Heck, she hadn’t even unpacked her duffle before she clocked in on the roster. She’d still have to stick around until she served her tour, but at least she’d have a ride out of here at the end.

The alert tone sounded once again, somehow seeming more insistent. Again, Kat ignored it. Only an emergency signal obligated Control to respond to hails from vessels waiting in the queue, and this gave no indication of an emergency.

Hands splayed over the keypad—set below flush, into the hip-high console—she entered the final release sequence and sent the Galloway off ahead of schedule with a silent salute. After all, the timetable was already screwed up. The quicker they departed, the sooner she could adjust to her exile. The vessel drifted the proscribed distance before engaging its drive system. From the command deck, her sensors registered the telltale vapors bubbling in the ship’s wake as the Galloway initiated its electrogravitic drive envelope.

With her brown eyes burning, she smothered her resentment anew. Her team—the 142nd Mobile Special Operations Team, informally known as Daire’s Devils—counted among the vessel’s complement of regular troops and special ops teams. Though she had been the newest member of her team, they already felt like family. Being parted from them stung like a betrayal. Whether on her part, theirs, or the bureaucracy’s, she couldn’t say, but it didn’t sit well. Had she rung out of training, no one would have blamed her for knowing her limitations. But to have her superiors determine her—an experienced operative—substandard didn’t sit well. To be labeled, out of all those in her team, as unacceptable, and not even know why…

Her fingers clawed the console housing, thankfully in no danger of triggering the recessed keypads. With a deep breath and hard discipline, she forced her bitterness back into its crater and mentally rolled a rock over it. She then turned her focus back to the task at hand.

With the Galloway clear, she began to process the next vessel. This time, she opened the channel as the alert tone persisted.

“You incompetent fool! Can’t you follow a deployment schedule?”

Kat’s lips tightened into a thin, hard line and her hands fisted reflexively. Her mood darkened even further at the thought of dealing with the notorious Commander Tac Stanton. Pompous ass. They had had dealings with one another when she’d shipped to the Tau Ceti system, and occasionally since then. She would never understand how such a slug had risen to command level.

“A glitch in the deployment systems required minor adjustments to get things back on track, commander,” she responded across the open channel in her own carefully neutral tone.

“Glitch?! Station Commander Trask will—”

Kat cut him off. “The Alexi’s next in the queue. Is your vessel ready to deploy? If not, I can process the incoming Hirobon transport…”

“Yes!” he snapped out the single word hard and tight, cutting her off. “We are more than ready.” Kat’s eyes narrowed. Stanton was way too worked up over a simple delay, even for him.

“Commencing pre-deployment scans, now… position your craft for launch,” she instructed him as she reviewed the datafeed for anomalies. She noted a small mass registering out near Tagalong, just cresting the planetesimal’s horizon. She initiated second-tier scans, but they revealed no recognizable mechanics or transmissions. Density analysis suggested low mineral content and no ferrous deposits. Just a rock… roughly the size—if not the shape—of a good-sized yacht. It fell outside of the scheduled flight path, so she made a note of her observations and beamed a copy of the report to the Alexi’s flight crew, along with their release codes.

“You are clear to deploy.”

She did not linger to watch this vessel. Turning back to her monitors, she started on the next flight plan. She didn’t get far. The console in front of her registered an unauthorized communications burst tight-beamed to the station. It ended before she could intercept it through one of the perimeter sensors.

Probably Stanton griping to Trask because she’d made him wait.

Great. She’d been on-station only a few hours and the first complaint had already been added to her docket.

Kat shrugged off her annoyance. She might not be happy with the turn her career had taken, but she had duties to fulfill and too much honor not to care. Turning back toward the transparent shielding that allowed her a direct visual of her domain, Kat scanned the deep-black oblivion. Toward her distant left, in the direction the Alexi had launched, she saw a ghostly glimmer, like the after-image of a camera flash, and nothing else. Had the Alexi had enough time to engage its drive and rocket out of range? Kat didn’t think so. The older vessel ran with fusion impulse engines.

Something didn’t feel right. Kat sequenced a full-system scan, engaging all the remote sensors linked to her console. Reviewing the ’feed as it processed, her every muscle tightened like the steady ripple of a python’s coils. She sent a secure quick-burst query to the Alexi’s comm and waited for the security-coded confirmation.

The deck comm remained silent.

If her dark brown hair wasn’t already bristle-brush short, it would have stood on end. Adrenaline sharp-focused her thoughts in an instant. A growl rumbled in her throat. Her left hand reflexively itched for her gauss rifle, currently locked away in a weapons locker aboard the Galloway, probably already assigned to someone else. Instead, she hit the print button on her console, and the report scrolled out on a thin slice of durable acrylisheet. The hardcopy confirmed her suspicions. Readings showed no sign that the Alexi had initiated its drive system. The ship couldn’t have moved beyond visual on conventional thrusters. It definitely should still be within hailing range.

“Control to Commander Trask,” she sent out a hail to the station commander. Precious minutes passed with no response. She needed his clearance to initiate High Alert status. “Control to Commander Trask, please come in, sir,” she repeated as she keyed in an urgency code linked to the message.

Still no response. Her internal alarms went into overdrive. On station, there was no time Trask could call completely his own. Moments of crisis superseded everything. Station commanders were always online, their personal comms bonejacked directly into their jaw, just below the ear, same as ships’ captains or elite military squads. Her hand went to the site of her now-deactivated, subdermal comm. She missed the buzzing sensation of someone’s words transmitting along her jaw. Sometimes, she thought she felt the faint vibration indicating a live feed, but she attributed that to wishful thinking.

Kat set the hail on auto-replay. Then, uncertain of the commander’s status, and faced with a high probability of threat to station security, she snapped into action without command authorization, a risky choice. Flipping open the cap that covered the alert toggle, she notched it to the next level, setting off a klaxon throughout the security zones of the station. No need to panic the civvies… yet.

Not three minutes after the alarm sounded the station’s first defense, a wing of Condor-class scout vessels jetted from their hangars like canned air from a hull breach.

“Control to Wing Command, do you copy?”

“Mustang Sally readin’ you loud and clear, Control, where we headin’?”

Neither the flatness of the transmission nor the gravity of the situation took the color out of the pilot’s irrepressible Texas twang. Finally, a friendly voice. And bonus, one clearly from Earth. Kat allowed herself the briefest of smiles and responded, “Spread your wing out in a vector scan of quadrant 0689Alpha looking for unaccounted debris, followed by a deep-space scan from that location targeting the vessel Alexi, ident-code ND-061. Presume hostiles are in the area. Should you make contact with the Alexi, secure absolute confirmation of the ship’s status. Over.”

“Gotcha, Sally off.” As they headed for the coordinates she beamed to them, Kat initiated the High Alert protocol.

Her fingers flew over the keypad. First, she punched in the locator sequence keyed to Commander Trask. A schematic of the station appeared on the monitor before her. The spiraling design corkscrewed around a central maintenance tube, with pairs of directional thrusters running along the coils’ outer edges. The Command, or C-deck, in the head, angled out into space to allow Control an unobstructed view of the docking area, the shipyard, and most approach vectors, with auxiliary C-decks at key points along the complex.

Commander Trask’s designation did not register on any coil.

Nervous tension sizzled the length of her. No way Trask had left the station. From just the short time she’d spent in his presence as she handed over her orders, she recognized him as too hardcore, too dedicated. She sent a priority-coded message to the head of station security, with a secondary request to search for the commander once they had confirmed the station secure from outside threat.

Extremely uneasy, Kat took the perimeter sensors off standby and set them to full sector scan. One keystroke transformed the transparent observation dome into a split-screen display, allowing her to view the Groom Experimental Complex’s total perimeter via the remote sensors while monitoring the constant datafeed. She then initiated the security fields around the station defense hubs and essential operations. The personnel manning those stations ran through their own checklists. She initiated next-stage High Alert protocols, triggering orders activating all security squads, off-duty and on. Incoming and outgoing ship traffic paused—which caused more than a little uproar until Kat turned off the non-station transmissions—and all station personnel were on standby, waiting, as her PawPaw would say, for the shit to hit the fan.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail 2021

Award-winning author, editor, and publisher Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for longer than she cares to admit. In 2014 she joined forces with husband Mike McPhail and friend Greg Schauer to form her own publishing house, eSpec Books (

Her published works include seven novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court, The Redcaps’ Queen, Daire’s Devils, and Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, written with Day Al-Mohamed. She is also the author of the solo collections Eternal Wanderings, A Legacy of Stars, Consigned to the Sea, Flash in the Can, Transcendence, Between Darkness and Light, The Fox’s Fire, The Kindly One, and the non-fiction writers’ guides The Literary Handyman, More Tips from the Handyman,  and LH: Build-A-Book Workshop. She is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Gaslight & Grimm, Side of Good/Side of Evil, After Punk, and Footprints in the Stars. Her short stories are included in numerous other anthologies and collections.

In addition to her literary acclaim, she crafts and sells original costume horns under the moniker The Hornie Lady Custom Costume Horns, and homemade flavor-infused candied ginger under the brand of Ginger KICK! at literary conventions, on commission, and wholesale.

Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail and four extremely spoiled cats.


So…this is what happens when you keep your authors busy. They have no time to create promotional content and your options are mostly to listen to me read. I like to think that’s not a bad thing, but we are working on generating more content, so please do Like and Subscribe when you on the playlist enjoying the following videos.

If you are an author and would like to participate in one of these series, please visit the eSpec Books Author Reading Series Facebook page for details.

The eSpec Books Author Reading Series

Danielle Ackley-McPhail reading an excerpt from her story “Casualties of War,” from her upcoming collection Dawns a New Day.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail reading an excerpt from her story “The Fox’s Fire” from the collection of the same name.

Dance Among the Embers, But Don’t Get Burned… From a kitsune slinking through the mists… to an elven champion tied to every crossroad in the moment of Midnight… to the heir of Underhill ruling the road on a Harley, the mystical and magical intersect nearly unrealized with the world of man. Do you dare to walk among them with open eyes? Do you seek a glimpse of their power? Take care and proceed with soft steps among the folk of magic and moonlight. Fickle is the least of what is said of them. But well worth the risk, for those looking for something more…

Danielle Ackley-McPhail reading an excerpt from her story “The Kindly One,” from the collection of the same name.

Guilt, the venom running through humanity’s veins, The cancer eating mankind’s soul. Death, both courted and earned, well fed upon denial. Balanced on the delicate edge between madness and damnation, clarity comes to us all. There is one thing more terrifying than the darkness at the edge of your vision staring back. The seed of that darkness peering from within your heart. What is real? What is imagined? Right, or wrong, the price of your answer is your soul.

Award-winning author, editor, and publisher Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for longer than she cares to admit. In 2014 she joined forces with husband Mike McPhail and friend Greg Schauer to form her own publishing house, eSpec Books ( Her published works include six novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court, The Redcaps’ Queen, and Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, written with Day Al-Mohamed. She is also the author of the solo collections Eternal Wanderings, A Legacy of Stars, Consigned to the Sea, Flash in the Can, Transcendence, Between Darkness and Light, and the non-fiction writers’ guides The Literary Handyman, More Tips from the Handyman, and LH: Build-A-Book Workshop. She is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Gaslight & Grimm, Side of Good/Side of Evil, After Punk, and Footprints in the Stars. Her short stories are included in numerous other anthologies and collections. In addition to her literary acclaim, she crafts and sells original costume horns under the moniker The Hornie Lady Custom Costume Horns, and homemade flavor-infused candied ginger under the brand of Ginger KICK! at literary conventions, on commission, and wholesale. Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail and two extremely spoiled cats.

David Lee Summers reading an excerpt from his story “The Steampowered Dragon” from Gaslight & Grimm, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Diana Bastine.

Once Upon a Time, ageless tales were told from one generation to the next, filled with both wonders and warnings. Tales of handsome princes and wicked queens, of good-hearted folk and evil stepmothers. Tales of danger and caution and magic…classics that still echo in our hearts and memories even to this day, told from old, cherished books or from memory at Grandma’s knee. Oh yes, tales have been told…but never quite like these. Journey with us through the pages of Gaslight and Grimm to discover timeless truths through lenses polished in the age of steam.

All purchase links in these posts are Amazon Associate links
and we do receive a token commission if you should purchase via these links.


Looking for a new read? Did you enjoy Arachne’s Crime? For the month of February, the sequel, Arachne’s Exile, is available for request on NetGalley.

Christopher L. Bennett: Written Worlds

A quick heads-up for reviewers, librarians, and book vendors: Arachne’s Exile is available for review on NetGalley through the month of February 2021.

Arachne's Exile cover

I appreciate any efforts to get the word out about this novel and Arachne’s Crime. Professional reviews are welcome, as are reader reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, etc.

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