25 September 2014

Autumn Is Here!

Wait, what?  What do you mean, Autumn is here!?  We were just having Spring, weren't we?

I found that this year zoomed by, particularly because the weather didn't really turn into Summer here in the Chicagoland.  Sure, we had heat, and we had humidity; but we also had an unseasonable amount of rain and weird days, so much so that my garden shows the results by having lots of greenery and not much fruit.  Tomatoes need sun to produce tomatoes, otherwise it's just a mediocre crop with lots of leaves.

I'm excited about Autumn, though I have a hard time believing it's already upon us.  The biggest news in my world is that I am one of four Municipal Liaisons for the Chicago Region of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  As part of that team, I will help to plan the Kick Off Party, the Wrap-Up Party (called TGIO, or Thank Goodness It's Over!).  I'll also be helping to host write-ins during the month of November.

What has you excited this Autumn?

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
- E.E. Cummings

**New** SEALED BY FIRE is available from LooseId LLC. An All Romance eBooks Bestseller!

The Chicagoland Shifters series:
Book 1 BURNING BRIGHT, available from Samhain Publishing.
Book 2 TIGER TIGER, available from Samhain Publishing. An All Romance eBooks Bestseller!

The Persis Chronicles:**Coming Soon!** Watch for EMERALD KEEP from Torquere Books, out April 2015!
Check out EMERALD FIRE, available from Torquere Books.Check out "Seeking Hearts", available from Torquere Books.

Check out COOK LIKE A WRITER , available from Barnes and Noble.

Check out "Taking a Chance", available from Torquere Books! An All Romance eBooks Bestseller!
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22 September 2014

Autumn Equinox, Changing Seasons, Fall Television

Greetings, Kittens!

Fall has always been my favorite time of year. Driving through the Midwest watching the leaves change, bundling up in sweaters and snuggling down in blankets with mugs of cider. Everyone thinking about the holidays, and the world stretching before its nap through the winter.

There's simply something magical about this in-between time, where summer has not yet left us, and winter's grip is not yet here. This time of harvest and feast, of gathering and family. And of course, Halloween is around the corner which is its own sauce of awesomeness.

This year, the equinox starts around 10:30pm EST in my part of the world. As the day grows dim the new season will creep up, and then be upon us come morning in it's full glory.

Appropriately enough, it brings new television shows to sit down and settle in with over the cold months. Sleepy Hollow carries the theme of the turning season best. The sophomore drama returns to answer the cliff-hanger it left us with and to keep us guessing about the two Witnesses and the rise of the Horseman of War.

I'll be tuning in, bundled up in my sweater, snuggled down in my blanket, a mug of tea in hand, and welcoming the Harvest Time.

How will you be spending the Equinox?


21 September 2014

Let's get ready to go IN THE VOID with a free short story!

With only a few weeks before IN THE VOID comes out it's time to look in on the Bonnie Belle and see what our favorite courtesans have been up to since the amazing events of IN THE BLACK!

“This is insane. And I love it.” Sam put her hands on her hips and shook her head. “You should write this up for one of those engineering ‘zines, Jen.”

They were floating in the corridor in front of the door leading to the landing bay, all of them crammed into the hallway.

The mechanic beamed. “Don’t give me all the credit. It took Belle only a few seconds to calculate how to fire the thrusters to back us up into position after venting our atmosphere. No more difficult than trying to maneuver into some of those little docking bays on the smaller mining bases.”

Sean clutched his medical bag tightly, straining to hear the smallest whisper of air escaping. Of all the deaths he’d seen and imagined, dying by suffocation or explosive decompression ranked up at the top.

“Sort of threading a needle, isn’t it?” Kendra had changed into a dark red track suit and leaned against the wall, floating with her arms crossed. “How are you going to get the pod through the hatch? It’s barely enough for us to get through, and the life pod’s got to be larger than the person it’s carrying, right?”

Jenny laughed. “Not through the hatch, silly.” She flapped her arms, reminding Sean of a flightless bird attempting takeoff. “There’re larger doors on each side we pop open for delivery of supplies. Bring the skids in piled with whatever you want or need—furniture, mattresses, the bigger items that can’t be broken down. If we had to bring everything through the single door we’d never get loaded in time.” She rapped on the door with her knuckles. “How we doing, Belle?”

“We have successfully backed up and captured the life pod,” the AI announced. “I am now preparing to seal the bay and restore atmosphere.”

“Any problems?” Sam swam up and down the short hallway, brushing by the gathered crew with each pass. “Life signs still good?”

“All is well with the survivor.” A roaring came from beyond the closed hatch, reminding Sean of a vacuum cleaner. “I estimate two minutes before you may retrieve the pod.”

Sean watched Sam make another circuit before speaking. “She’s got enough oxygen until then, right?” The last thing they needed was to go to all this work and lose the survivor at the last second.

“Affirmative. The pod is undamaged from the debris field. We have also captured other bits and pieces in the bay from the ship.”

Jenny rubbed her hands together. “Salvage. I doubt there’ll be much I can use on the Belle but who knows?”

Sam nodded. “About the debris...Were you able to avoid any biological, Belle?”

Translation—were they going to open the door to a horror of broken bodies and shredded arms and legs?

Sean saw April look down and mutter a soft prayer.

“Yes, Captain. By the time we were able to approach any and all biologicals were at a goodly distance, scattered among the ship’s remains. We captured only the life pod.” A loud pop came from behind the hatch. “Full atmosphere returned. You may enter at your convenience.”

Jenny twisted the handle and shoved hard on the hatch. It swung open with a whoosh of fresh, cool air, allowing them into the landing bay. She stepped back to give them all a clear view.

The sixty square feet of empty space in the back of the Belle wasn’t made to do much else than store equipment and serve as a holding pen for waiting customers. Sean used the open area as a jogging track, cycling past the tables and chairs strapped to the walls.

“Why aren’t we watching via the cameras?” Bianca whispered to him, a tremor underlying her words. “There’s a feed coming through, right? We could be in the galley and far away from this.” She gestured toward Jenny and Sam.
“Let them take the risk. They can call you in later.”

He couldn’t blame Bianca for her caution. She’d lost Halley not so long ago. The last thing she needed was to see more death.

He had seen enough for both of them.

“This sort of thing you need to see up close and personal,” Sean replied. “Can’t judge anything through a lens.”

Sam went through first with Jenny close behind. Sean swam through with the other four courtesans following.

“Be careful,” Sam warned. “Don’t smack your head on something.”

Debris floated around them, the largest no more than a fistful. Most of it seemed to be pieces of the hull with the occasional engine piece here and there.

It smelt too fresh. Belle had overdone the air freshener. There was something wrong about swimming through the remains of someone’s life with the laundry-fresh scent clogging up your lungs.

The life pod spun end over end in the landing bay. Sean swam over to the cylinder and grabbed one of the handles, steadying the pod. He looked in the viewport.

A wide-eyed woman stared at him, her mouth open as she screamed something unintelligible.

Welcome to the Bonnie Belle.


It's going to be another rocky ride for the men and the women on board the Bonnie Belle again as they find themselves the target of space pirates determined to relieve them of their cargo and possibly their lives.

Pre-order this new voyage on the Bonnie Belle at Amazon, B&N, iBooks and Carina Press!

And while you're waiting to board check out this FREE short story! Interlude 1.1 is available at Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and many other ebook retailers including Overdrive and ebook lending services.

Out on the edge of civilization anything and everything can happen - especially when you're not ready for it.

When Jenny, the chief mechanic for the Bonnie Belle hops off to work a deal with the local black market she ends up bargaining for more than just fresh fruit.

It's a good time to come on board the Belle - why not see what the fuss is all about?

20 September 2014

The State of the Ward

In a word: Busy.

Every since Memorial Day, I've been up to my eyebrows organizing and formatting the collection of stories, art, nonfiction and historical photographs which will make up Unconventional Fantasy--the huge, five-volume ebook anthology celebration of forty years of World Fantasy Con. The first four volumes are with the proofers, and I'm finishing up the fifth.

Note: I said "finishing". I ain't done yet, and all the final files have to be with the company making the thumb drives by October 1 to be ready for distribution at this year's World Fantasy Con.

Nervous?  Me?

I'm practically vibrating. On the other hand, that could just be the caffeine.

But I had to take time out to let everyone know that two of the books I've been waiting for all summer have finally arrived at real and virtual bookstores near you.

First out of the gate, the paper version of Athena's Daughters, the 22-story anthology of stories about strong women by strong women, is now available for sale by all the usual suspects: Indiebound, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. In addition to my story "The Gap in the Fence" which holds the coveted last story spot (user buffs nails and hums with pride), Athena's Daughters features stories by Mary Robinette Kowal, Sherwood Smith, Gail Z. Martin and Diana Peterfreund AND an introduction by astronaut and space shuttle commander Pam Melroy. Can't beat that.

But I'm going to give it a shot--a photograph, to be precise of The Management inspecting copies of that other book I've been waiting for: Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens. It's got Steampunk. It's got aliens. It's got my story, "The Wizard of Woodrow Park", starring a chicken secret agent in a human suit, academic politics and Chihuahas. What more could you ask?
Excerpts?  Well we've got them right here:

"The Gap in the Fence"

"The Wizard of Woodrow Park"

But obviously new releases and encyclopedic anthologies weren't enough to maintain my full operating level of madness. I had to get involved in another Kickstarter, run by Zombies Need Brains, the same folks who produced Clockwork Universe

Temporally Out of Order features gadgets, timey-wimey and seven amazing anchor authors--David B. Coe, Laura Anne Gilman, Faith Hunter, Stephen Leigh, Gini Koch, Seanan McGuire, and Laura Resnick--authors I pre-order, which is a very small number indeed. The stretch goal authors ain't too shabby, either--Juliet E. McKenna, Jack Campbell, and me!

To say nothing of all the wonderful swag you get on top of the perks of pledging. For example, the first 400 backers will receive A Rain of Pebbles, an ebook containing all the short stories in Stephen Leigh's Alliance Universe. And there will be more special incentives as the Kickstarter continues. To say nothing of its awesome cover painting by Justin Adams of Varia Studios.

Check it all out here.
But that still wasn't enough for me. The weekend of September 26-28 I'll be at the Baltimore Book Festival. When I'm not participating in the SFWA programming track, you can find me at the Silence in the Library Publishing and Dark Quest Books tables doing my best to shill books. 

Come and check it out...and bring more caffeine!

Jean Marie Ward