by S.D. McPhail
On a quest for vengeance against a criminal known as the Viper, Prince Rasteem becomes suspicious when his army easily conquers Dodrazeb. Princess Laneffri is desperate to expel the Persian invaders from her kingdom and will stop at nothing to protect its secrets--especially the Origin Key, a powerful, ancient device. Is Dodrazeb hiding the Viper or something even more dangerous? When Rasteem learns what the Origin Key can do, he must find a way to make the princess an ally to save both their kingdoms from annihilation.
Only $0.99 on Amazon through Memorial Day weekend!
FREE on Amazon through Memorial Day weekend!
by Russell Newquist
FREE on Amazon through Memorial Day weekend!
by Morgon Newquist
FREE on Amazon through Memorial Day weekend!
We’ve received some fantastic submissions for our upcoming superheroes anthology – and I mean that in every meaning of the word. However… the submissions continue to roll in, and we’re still getting good ones. And I’ve got one or two specific authors that have promised stories that I’d really like to have. So we’re extending the deadline by just a little bit. We will continue taking submissions at least through May 31.
You can find the submission requirements here.
The second draft of Post Traumatic Stress is DONE!
It took me a few months to get back to it, but once I did it took less than two weeks to finish the second draft. In a way, it’s better that it took me a while. A little bit of distance from the manuscript meant that I looked at it with very fresh eyes. I’m quite happy with the current state of the manuscript. The ultimate judgement lies, of course, with the readers.
I’m looking for an additional ten beta readers. Beta readers will receive a free copy of the manuscript in its current form sometime in the next week. Anyone can apply to be a beta reader, but I need a commitment to the following:
If you’re interested, send your request to email@example.com.
If you’ve already signed up to be a beta reader, thank you! There is no need to sign up again.
Lyonesse is now LIVE! Kickstarter backers should have already received their login information via e-mail. If you haven’t gotten yours, check your spam folder.
We have 23 stories live in our back catalog at the moment, all available in EPUB, MOBI, and PDF format – or readable for subscribers straight from the web site itself. Our first new story, The Dreaming Wounds by Anya Ow, will go out later this afternoon.
Base subscriptions start at only $6.99 per year, so don’t wait – get yours today!
Lyonesse is very nearly ready. We’re formatting the launch content and uploading it into the system now. Next, we’ll be entering all of our Kickstarter backers into the database and enabling their subscriptions. And that’s it. At this point, the process is going very smoothly. The official Lyonesse launch date will be Tuesday, March 21, 2017. We’ll be going live somewhere around 8:00 AM Central Time. I’ll have to punch the button manually, so that’s about as precise as I can time it.
For those of you who ordered t-shirts, they will be coming soon. Stay tuned!
As a few people have noted to me privately, Lyonesse is supposed to be going live soon. Since we haven’t had an update in a while, it’s time to fill everyone in.
The TL;DR version is that it’s almost ready to go. I held off on this announcement a bit because I really wanted it to read: “Lyonesse is live!” or, at the very least, “Lyonesse is going live on X date!” And it’s pretty close. It’s just not quite there yet.
The longer version:
I was hoping to have it all operating this weekend. Obviously, that hasn’t happened. The front end is about 95% done. Basically, I have a few minor but important pages to put some finishing touches on and I have to actually finalize which stock images I want to use, pay for the real ones, and replace the watermarked ones I’ve been using for testing. Pretty easy stuff.
The tougher part, and the reason that’s not done yet, is because I had to completely change the design for the back end. My original plan had been to go with a paid monthly service I found that seemed to pretty much handle everything exactly the way I wanted to for delivering subscription based digital content. Then I got a trial account. I started development. And… I found the service quite lacking.
On the content delivery side, it does handle all of that well. On the customer account management side, however, it basically does nothing. There’s no way for customers to manage their accounts, cancel online, see their history, etc. There wasn’t even a way to integrate a “my account” page into the Lyonesse web site.
This was completely unacceptable to me. We’re running a small operation, and we probably won’t have everything perfect right out of the gate. But the user experience needs to be better than that. So I had to find an alternate technical solution, and that took some time. Then I had to rip out everything I’d done and basically start it over from scratch. That also took some time.
I have decided on an alternate solution, I’ve spent a lot of time working with it. So far, it’s looking great. I have a few more things to test with it to verify that it will actually do everything we need, but so far it’s looking very good.
If everything goes well, we should be up and running within a week. If we have a few more minor hiccups, that might stretch to two weeks. But barring another major disaster, that should be about it. All in all, we won’t be too far off schedule. I’ve already had a handful of people report back to me that they’d rather see it a few weeks late and right than see it now but with major problems. I wholeheartedly agree.
The silver lining in all of this is that the site has ended up being far superior to what I initially envisioned. I’m really quite happy with how it’s shaping up, and I hope very much that all of you will be as well.
Lyonesse backers and fans, bear with us just a little bit longer. It is very nearly ready!
Silver Empire is accepting submissions for a Science Fiction novel. Submissions will remain open through August 1, 2017. We’re looking for one novel from a new-to-Silver-Empire author to publish, hopefully by the end of this year. We’ll be announcing the chosen novel by September.
Submission guidelines are as follows:
Silver Empire is still accepting submissions for our upcoming Superversive Superheroes anthology! We’re still a few submissions short of where we want to be for this project, although the stories we have so far are quite exciting.
Submission guidelines are as follows:
Planetary Defense Command has opened nominations for the 2016 Planetary Awards for the best science fiction and fantasy writing of 2016.
We’re doing only two categories this year:
- Shorter story (under 40,000 words/160 paperback pages)
- Longer story (novels)
Injustice Gamer stunned me this evening by nominating one of my stories, Edge, for the Shorter Story category. The story is available as part of the anthology Between the Wall and the Fire. My story travels in good company. His nomination for Longer Story is a very worth entry indeed – Brian Niemeier’s The Secret Kings. Brian – I promise my review is coming soon!
I’ve read quite a bit of amazing fiction this year, and finding only two works to nominate is a daunting task. But at the end of the day, I think it must come down to the following.
Here I have to go with Negev, by Joshua M. Young. The story is also available in Between the Wall and the Fire. This tale of a Jewish family struggling with superintelligences is one of the absolute best works I’ve ever published at Silver Empire. I enjoyed writing Edge, but I must humbly disagree with Injustice Gamer and declare Negev to be the better overall work. But watch out, Josh – Cheah Kai Wai will give you a run for your money when we publish We Bury Our Own this spring in Lyonesse!
Here I have to go with Mr. John C. Wright’s Iron Chamber of Memory. This was also a tough call. Brian’s work was, indeed, fantastic. But Mr. Wright is a true grandmaster, and this is one of his absolute best works. My own review is available here. Brian, there is no shame at all in coming in slightly behind this book in my estimation, and I hope no offense is given to my friend.
These are two truly wonderful works. Whether they win or lose the 2016 Planetary Awards, I heartily recommend them and hope that you’ll enjoy them as much as I did. But don’t stop here. 2016 was an amazing year for science fiction and fantasy writing. There’s plenty to read, and I hope that you explore them all!
Thank you to all who have contributed so far to the Lyonesse kickstarter project! We have just over 24 hours left on our Kickstarter and we’ve reached 144% of our goal! If you haven’t already, stop by and contribute. A $7 contribution gets you an entire year’s subscription – including at least 52 stories (one per week, plus the occasional bonus story) from some of the most amazing up and coming science fiction and fantasy authors. And if you’re interested in one of our lifetime subscriptions, keep in mind that this will be your last chance to get one. They are only available through our Kickstarter campaign – when it ends, they will disappear!
Meanwhile, we also have a handful of more established authors on our list, and today I’d like to talk about one: the talented L. Jagi Lamplighter. Some of you may also know her as the Mrs. John C. Wright. Mrs. Lamplighter is the author of the Books of Unexpected Enlightenment series (which I have previously reviewed here, here, and here). She’s also the author of the Prospero’s Daughter series, and the editor of Brian Niemeier‘s Soul Cycle series (of which I have reviewed books one and two, and will get around to book three very soon!). I can also say that I have the great privilege of having contracted her to be my own editor for my upcoming novel Post Traumatic Stress.
Finally, as a special thank you to all of our backers for helping us with our successful Kickstarter project, I present our first Lyonesse bonus story, Mrs. Lamplighter’s, Four Funerals and a Wedding. This is but a small taste of things to come from Lyonesse, and I hope that all of you find the story as delightful as I did.
by L Jagi Lamplighter
This story is dedicated to
Matthew and Eugie Foster,
Who deserved better
Cassandra leaned against the shovel and wiped her brow as a flock of geese flew across the face of the moon. Beside her, Archie dug steadily, unearthing the grave dirt above his fiancée’s coffin.
“You know,” the young woman picked up her shovel again, “this was not where I had expected this to end.”
“Let’s just hope it doesn’t end here,” he grunted back. “Or worse, with us both in jail.
* * *
For the first funeral, Cassandra wore her sunglasses. They were huge and dark and made her look like a blind owl, but they covered her high cheekbones and her eyes. Nothing showed but the nose and chin she had inherited from her Jewish father—not unattractive but unremarkable. No one ever gave the lower half of her face a second glance.
She chose a slim black dress and low black suede boots. The silver and turquoise cat necklace she had worn whenever she left the house for four years now—Jeremy’s last present to her on her last mother’s day—was a bit cheery for the occasion, but she could not bear to leave it home. She tucked it inside her gown.
Seated in the back pews of St. Timothy’s, she gazed surreptitiously at the crowd. Ahead, the family paraded slowly by the open casket, saying their last goodbyes. An old woman in black and a middle-aged man were crying loudly, but the dead man’s wife was sitting with her back straight, a look of desperate hope in her eyes.
Maybe she read the newspapers.
Cassandra pulled Nicholas’s old handkerchief from her purse and pressed it against the corner of her eyes. After four years, it embarrassed her that she still cried. But they had been four lonely years—without Nicholas, without her little Jeremy.
No one understood what it was like to have been a mother and then not be one anymore. The worst was when her friends commented on her having the freedom to spend her hours how she pleased. She would given anything to trade her freedom, her prestigious career as a photographer, and her hobbies for the mess and toil of having her family back.
The door opened, and the reporter from Channel 9 evening news came in, his camera man beside him. Cassandra jerked her head away. If he saw her, he would know. He had been at the last funeral, too.
Should she leave? Her eyes flickered to the face of the widow.
Steepling her fingers and pressing them against her lips, she closed her eyes and quieted her heart. Life. It was eternal. Nothing could be put to it or be taken away from it.
The lately-deceased man sat up in his open coffin, blinking. The rafters of the small church echoed with screams of terror and then with screams of joy.
* * *
For the second funeral, she wore her hair down. It fell midway down her back, like a solid black waterfall. She hid Jeremy’s necklace beneath her black silk blouse, which she wore over gray slacks. Her sunglasses still hid her eyes.
This one was held at the Presbyterian church outside of town. Calhoun from Channel 9 was there before her, a big, heavy, scowling man. Cassandra shuddered and averted her head. She had been reading his columns, and they were vile. The man poured out vitriol and bile on every subject he covered.
It made her heart ache for humanity that people paid to read such vileness.
Beneath Jeremy’s necklace, her heart beat rapidly. Would he recognize her? If he did, what would happen?
It was not herself she was worried about. What did she have to lose? It was the folks who she could help if everyone left her alone.
She had tried going to the hospital, but she felt like a harpy, waiting around for people to die. Besides, hospitals made her nervous—too many bad memories. And when she was nervous, nothing happened. Same thing if she bragged or allowed even the slightest hint of pride.
If she wanted to help grieving families and lives cut short, she had to do it quietly, privately.
If Calhoun from Channel 9 outed her—put her in the public limelight—would she ever be able to help anyone again?
* * *
For the third funeral, she wore a very large black and white hat. Its large brim dipped down, making it easy to hide behind. Between that and her sunglasses, her face was hardly visible. This was a good thing because the despicable Calhoun looked right at her as she left the church. His assistant pivoted the camera and pointed the blank, black lens right at her. She had only enough time to duck her head and block her face with the hat.
By the time she arrived home, her whole body was shaking.
* * *
For the fourth funeral, she left her sunglasses home. Without them, she became a whole new person. All heads turned when she walked into the funeral parlor as people stared at the young Asian woman, so lovely she could be a model. But no one, not even Calhoun who was positioned at the door, hunched like a vulture, recognized her as the person had been when the upper part of her face was covered.
It was a disguise she could only use once.
She also took her work camera with its zoom lens.
There was a lone chair against the wall. Cassandra pushed it into a back corner, behind a large urn containing a palm. The smell of smoke and chemicals made it hard to concentrate. Her heart was beating so loudly, she could not hear herself pray.
She closed her eyes and tried to quiet her thoughts, but the angry, leering image of Calhoun kept imposing on her peace. His latest piece on the mysterious “zombie-maker” had been so hateful that it had made her sick to her stomach to read it.
Who hated a person for resurrecting the dead?
In her imagination, she kept picturing the moment when he found her out, the finger pointing, the clammy hands grabbing her by the arm and yanking her in front of everyone. She felt lightheaded.
Only the sight of the two children weeping beside the casket kept her run fleeing the premises.
She closed her eyes and breathed, but she could not clear her thoughts.
What was it with this man? Why was he so angry? Why…
Why had she not prayed for him?
The funeral proceeded. A preacher gave a blessing. A brother gave a eulogy. Children wept. Cassandra tried to pray for the bloated, angry reporter, but her words were empty. In her heart, she did not wish him well.
There must be something about him, something that could break the spell of disgust he had cast over her, some quality, however small, that she could admire.
The gathering was beginning to break up. People were rising, milling, laying a silent hand on the shoulder of the sobbing widower. And Calhoun still stood there, scouring the gathering, scowling at each person, as if they were personally guilty of having murdered the dead woman. Did he never give up?
Ah, that was a quality Cassandra admired. She had to give Calhoun that.
He was dogged.
Like a spell breaking, Cassandra looked at the reporter as if for the first time. How tired he looked, how bitter, his eyes were bloodshot. He looked…like a very miserable soul indeed.
That was enough. Her thoughts calmed. She closed her eyes. She kept them shut until the children began to shout.
Outside, the Channel 9 man was standing by the front walk, interviewing the happy family. People were crying and laughing and hugging. The woman’s husband, no longer a widower, clung to her, weeping with joy and relief.
The camera was pointed right at the door.
She should have worn her sunglasses after all.
Cassandra looked around. Did she dare cut through the vestibule to find another door? Her hand brushed against her camera. Raising her head, she walked over to loathsome toad of Channel 9, whom she really could not think quite as badly of as she had before, and stuck out her hand.
Heads turned as she walked. But neither the toad nor the no-longer-a-widower paid attention to her appearance.
“Hi there, Cassandra King Crossing.” She patted her camera bag, where hit hung at her hip. “I do some freelance work for the Mystic River Press and The Westerly Sun, among other places.
His hand was big and meaty. “Archibald Calhoun. Channel 9.”
Despite her nervousness, she flashed a big smile and gestured at the crowd. “I gather we’re looking for the same thing? Maybe we could compare notes?”
“You mean the person responsible for this circus?” he snarled. “Yeah, I’d like to find that bastard.”
“What would you do if you did?” she asked casually.
“Punch the S.O.B. in the face. Repeatedly.”
“For resurrecting the dead?” Her voice rose so high it broke.
“What kind of low human being hides the fact that they can resurrect the dead? Where was this bastard when my Effie…” His voice broke.
“O-oh,” breathed Cassandra.
His face had taken on a haggard dullness that she knew as well as she knew her own name. It struck her like a blow to her solar plexus.
“I’ve been looking for him for weeks. Thought maybe he could save…s-she’d been so healthy just three months ago. We thought the cancer had been beat. Then, wham.” The big, ugly brute, who was beginning to look dear to her, rubbed at his eyes with the back of his sleeve. “Our wedding was set for tomorrow. She had bought a lovely dress—the nurses had promised to help her put it on—and her brother was going to fly in from Chicago. But things took a sudden turn for the worse. And Effie….” He swallowed, his big Adam’s apple jiggling. “Her brother ended up flying in a few days earlier, for the funeral.”
Cassandra could hear the man speaking, but she could not see him. All she could see was the glare of headlights from a car coming directly at her on a slick rainy night. She felt, again, the lurch of the car as Nicholas put the driver’s side between the danger and his family. In the heat of the moment, he forgot that Jeremy, so recently free of his booster seat, had moved over to sit behind the driver, so he could talk to his father.
If only…if only Nicholas had swerved the other way.
Cassandra yanked out the silly silver and turquoise cat from inside her dress and gripped it tightly. Her life was hard enough but… Not to have ever been Nicolas’s wife? Not to have ever held Jeremy, or see him take his first step, or win his first soccer game? Even this, even all the pain and agony of loss, was better than that.
Tears streaming down her cheeks, Cassandra grabbed the reporter’s arm. “Your fiancée, where did they put her body?”
* * *
For the wedding, she wore a wide straw hat with flowers tucked in the band. She even went up into the attic and took out a blue and green dress she had not worn since the last time she and Nicolas went out to dinner. The silver and blue cat looked lovely resting against the silky material.
She also left her sunglasses home.
The ceremony was held at St. Timothy’s. The press was there, not just Channel 9, but all the local stations and a few national ones as well. She could already foresee the running caption: Revenant Woman Weds.
Effie looked lovely in her white gown, her face aglow. Archie Calhoun stood beside her, proud as a bridegroom could be in his handsome tux. Looking at his round, beaming face, Cassandra could not remember why she had thought it anything but kindly and dear. The bridegroom turned his head. Across the crowded church, their eyes met.
Archie Calhoun winked.
Cassandra winked back—which never could have happened had she still been hiding behind her sunglasses.