Book Release – BLINK (and Free Stuff!)

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OK…so if you came here just for the free and discounted books, scroll to the bottom. If you’d rather read about my journey to get to this book’s release, read on.


the partyWow. Today’s the day, huh?

Blink is finally out there. Live, on people’s Kindles and being read. Makes me excited, but more than a little nervous as well.

Of course, I can’t claim all the emotion for this book — half belongs to my brother, Paul, and if he chooses to share them, this blog will be the first place they’ll go. But for today, here is a peek behind the scenes with me.

Last January was…a weird time. I was still less than six months out from going with my wife to get our son, and adjusting to life as an adoptive father. I really hadn’t written much in a long time. The Powers That Be and The Alien Chronicles had both released in early January with stories I’d written, but most of those words had been penned months earlier. I was in the doldrums. For sure.

Then over the course of a few weeks, I stumbled into a daily Facebook status serial of sorts. It was small at first, just a sentence or two, but over time it grew to 500 to 1,000 words — the kind of output I wanted as a writer. I decided one way or another, I’d take what I had and I’d throw it up on Amazon at some point. Probably a 10-20,000 word short story or novella. Kinda fun, but nothing major.

Then Paul messaged me. Turns out one of my secondary characters had sparked something. He went off and wrote a complete backstory and side story for Agent Smith. When he sent it my way, I gladly turned over my status updates to him for a while. It’s natural to feel like your own writing is trash and other people are better, but his storyline with Smith was a game-changer. It had something I didn’t have with my own story — my interest. My own storyline was fascinating, but Agent Smith had so many possibilities and he was such a realized character by the time out storylines converged, I knew we had to do something. Something important.

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We had to make Agent Smith the focus of the novel. Ultimately it meant tweaking a few things in the back half of the book, but it also meant a complete reworking of the beginning. We had to flip back and forth on chapters and provide a intro for Smith that would help establish him and his team in this world.

Ironically, the summer was the worst time for us. Both of us are teachers so it would seem as though we would have more time to focus on the book when we aren’t in the classroom, but more time at home meant more time with our kids and writing and editing Blink proved to be a difficult thing indeed. Once school was back in session, both of us were committed to finishing this and thankfully we did in October.

And with the completion of Blink, we believe we have the beginnings of a potentially long-running series. Like Clive Cussler with his Dirk Pitt (and now NUMA Files, Kurt Austin, and more) series or Lee Child with Jack Reacher. Agent Smith is tough, hard-nosed, bright, and resilient. He’s going to continue to be in stories, as soon as we figure out what those stories will be. (And in case you missed it, Paul and I wrote a one-off holiday short story with our favorite government employee — Agent Smith and the Naughty Elf, which is FREE for one more day.)

Paul and I write really well together. Like…REALLY well. For brothers born eight years apart and who actually didn’t really have much in common until we both got to adulthood, it’s kinda crazy how well our writing meshes. There was a little here and there that I had to smooth out of mine or his to transition, but I would say that I didn’t even touch 95% of his stuff in Blink. When he proposed adding to my story, I was all for it cuz it would save me time. Little did I know that would push us into a novel, and a fairly sizeable one as well. Less work? HA!

Over the past 12 months, this was a huge focus, along with my stories for The Z Chronicles, The Immortality Chronicles, Alt.History 102 and the forthcoming Illustrated Robot Chronicles. Those helped pace the novel in a strange way, giving me times to step away and refocus at regular intervals.

Now that Alt 102 and Blink are both out there and the edits for Illustrated Robot are still on their way, I need to plan my year. First and foremost — Dead Search, the third novel of my Dead Sleep series that I put off a year and a half ago. I need to re-immerse myself in that world and hopefully I’ll have something for readers sometime this summer.

A few last things before we get to the free and cheap stuff…

I have a heartfelt thank you for Samuel Peralta. His commissioning of short stories in The Future Chronicles kept me writing in so many ways. The work on this book wasn’t just done by me and Paul; Ellen Campbell killed it on the editing, Adam Hall put out a fantastic cover, and Therin Knite put up with a lot from me on the formatting. Thank you to each of you.


BUT…with the release of Blink at just 99 cents for a limited time, I’ve decided to have a sale on my books and short stories. Everything I have control over has been priced down to 99 cents or even Free for the next few days. All the links below are Free/Discounted titles for the next few days.

FREE

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99 CENTS

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Thanks for reading! Enjoy the freebies and cheap reads!

An Introduction to Agent Smith

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Next month I’ll be releasing my new novel, co-written with my brother Paul. The novel revolves around a secret government organization called The Utility Company (think X-Files, Fringe) and the lead agent there named Agent Smith. I’ll have more about that book down the road, including a synopsis and cover reveal, but for now, I want to introduce you to Agent Smith.

A couple weeks ago, Paul said to me, “Hey, we should do an Agent Smith story for Christmas revolving around the Elf on a Shelf.” (or something…I really only half pay attention). I pretty much said, “eh” but the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t shake it. I drafted the opening and then tagged Paul. He wrote some and then it was on. Within four days we had a legit story that we both loved. It’s a good introduction to the Utility Company and Agent Smith, and is a good old fashioned holiday yarn with at least twelve days of Christmas “Easter” Eggs.

Here’s the cover (click to go to it on Amazon):

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On a side note, you’ll notice an emblem in the star on top of the tree. It’s the logo for the Utility Company, which Adam Hall graciously allowed me to utilize for this short story cover. The cover for the full length novel, Blink, is a fantastic work by Adam Hall and I’ll unveil that in the next few weeks.

Until then, please check out Agent Smith’s Christmas Eve adventures at the Utility Company.

Book Review — The Future Chronicles

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12016174_10153528189235170_522376485_oOver the past year, Samuel Peralta has diligently and deliberately put together a powerhouse science fiction anthology series. He’s been able to attract big name authors such as Hugh Howey, Ken Liu, Seanan McGuire, Robert J. Sawyer, Jennifer Foehner Wells, and Matthew Mather among many others. But, what makes the Future Chronicles volumes great is the platform for new and emerging talent from the trenches of indie authors. While the established authors have been the cornerstone for these collections, the indie talent Sam chooses for each book is exciting and raw.

Full Disclosure: I’ve been privileged to be in three FC anthologies so far (Alien, Z & Immortality) and have spots reserved in at least two more scheduled to run in the next six to eight months. Other than reading and loving The Future Chronicles Special Edition anthology, I have no involvement in the collection.

So if the different anthologies released in the past year were all-star teams, then The Future Chronicles is a best of the best. Some of my favorite stories from collections like The Robot Chronicles, The Telepath Chronicles, The Alien Chronicles and The A.I. Chronicles appear, inviting you to rediscover them, to read them again for the first time in the context of this new collection, outside of the confines of their genre-specific collection. For some, it seems to imbue them with new meaning. When reading A.K. Meek’s The Invariable Man (later expanded to a longer book) with a brand new story on one end and stories about telepaths just pages later, it almost can be read with a new and different point of view.

In The Future Chronicles, we get eleven stories previously released in those first four of the Future Chronicles collections. Each of these stories is excellent and represents those anthologies wonderfully. What is an extra treat are five brand new stories from Sam Best, Susan Kaye Quinn, Deirdre Gould, Angela Cavanaugh, and Moira Katson, as well as a Foreword penned by Hugh Howey. Each is a breath of fresh air. With the general theme, you don’t quite know what to expect…will these stories be about robots, telepathy, aliens, or something else entirely. I’m thrilled to say each of these could very well serve as a foundational block for an anthology of their own.

While I don’t want to ruin any discovery a reader will make on their own, Sam Best really rocks the beginning of the entire collection, Quinn again provides her own brand of singularity fiction with her story, Gould presents a mind-bending tale that will leave you shaking your head, Cavanaugh could give you nightmares (or are they…) for her story The Assistant and Katson threatens to leave you with tears after reading her heartbreaking story of defiance in the face of death.

What’s really amazing is how each of these stories works not only in the confines of their own specific genre, but also all alone and then back in the comfort of other Future Chronicles stories that may or may not be in the same vein. Peralta has crafted a juggernaut and readers are reaping the benefits. If you get the chance, read The Future Chronicles and then explore the other titles available in the Kindle Store.

Book Review — The End Of The World As We Knew It

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With the long weekend and another day off yesterday, I was able to polish off some of that reading list that never seems to shrink. I posted my review of Hank Garner’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son yesterday, but that was really the tip of the iceberg.

On Tuesday night, I finished Nick Cole’s latest book, The End Of The World As We Knew It (TEOTWAWKI). It was epic. It was grand. It was heartbreaking and yet hopeful. More on that in a bit.

In a Nick Cole hangover today, I finally got around to starting Matthew Mather’s Nomad. I kept hearing great things about it, but it just came out at a bad time to get to it immediately (same thing with Cole’s book). With a few hours riding in a car today, I figured it was as good as a time to start as any. I couldn’t stop. Any free moment I had, I was back at the Kindle, craving more of Mather’s version of the apocalypse. I LOVED it, but for different reasons than why I loved Cole’s novel. I’ll share my thoughts on Nomad later this week…first I want to get TEOTWAWKI off my chest.

teotwawkiFirst off…I hate Nick Cole. I hate that he can write like he can. I hate that he makes me care about his deeply flawed characters. I hate him so much I can’t help but love him just a bit.

I will admit when I first opened the book, I struggled with the first few pages. Found footage in book form. Ugh. It seemed like an unnecessary plot device, but after a few pages, it settles down. Yes, there is the aspect of these recordings and journals being found and pieced together, but the stories are quite broad and involved.  As a reader I found the two main stories quite distinct and after a while I forgot they were “found footage.”

In that case, it does draw comparisons to the modern-day standard in zombie fiction — World War Z. Max Brooks’ classic is well known for being a series of vignettes that are only tied together by the slimmest of threads (NOT the movie, which features Brad Pitt as a very capable thread). In this case, there is a sense of that as well, but instead of it showcasing the tales of survival (or death) at the hands (and teeth) of the zombies, Cole shows us the humanity left behind in its wake. He shows the emotions, the torment, the shame, the bitterness, the economics, the brutality, the…life that is left when the plague wipes out most of the nation. What he does better than Brooks from a narrative point of view is he uses the protagonists of Alex and Jasonn (mostly Jason) to find all of those aspects of humanity in the aftermath. Jason’s journey is one made by countless characters throughout literature, starting with Odysseus. He needs to find the love of his life, but with Alex he only has the vaguest idea of where to look. Along the way we see his faults, his fears, his failures on his trek from New York to Los Angeles.

There really is so much to take in along the way, Cole could have easily tripled the size of the book with the rich details he added with developed secondary characters. Shoot, Cole could write a whole other story with just the character of Chris, or The Lady, or…any number of them.

But we get Jason and Alex. Star-crossed lovers, separated by thousands of miles of land and millions of infected zombies between them. Who are they? What choices do they make? How does that affect everyone else? What does that do to their very souls?

I loved Nick Cole’s book. Described as “The Walking Dead” meets “The Notebook,” I can honestly say as someone who hasn’t watched either (I know, I know!) that this book delivers. If you like a healthy dose of philosophy and romance with your zombie literature, this book is for you. I really could go on and on about what I felt as I flipped each page of this book, but suffice it to say I felt all the things. I felt joy, sadness, anger, shame, courage, and fear. Cole places you at the center of the apocalypse and makes sure that you know that each character has their own apocalypse. Each person gets their own ending and even with similar circumstances, each ending is unique. Read this book. You won’t regret it.

Author Interview — Patrice Fitzgerald (Dark Beyond The Stars)

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Dark Beyond The Stars is a wonderful new science fiction short story anthology just released this week. I reviewed it early on and highly recommend the collection for space opera buffs. (Find my review here.)

I was curious about how the collection came about. I’m friends with Patrice Fitzgerald all the way back to our days writing WOOL fanfic and think she is a great person to know in the current day in indie publishing. As it turns out, Patrice took some of the lessons she learned seeing Samuel Peralta shape The Future Chronicles series and decided to play around as the curator and publisher of her own science fiction anthology. I think she’s done an amazing job, taking the things Future Chronicles does well, and adding in her own touches of flair.

Here are some words from Patrice on how the anthology came about and all the amazing talent that went into it:

darkWhat’s the story behind the anthology?

The truth is that this idea came from many of us knowing each other and having great enthusiasm for all the wonderful stories we were reading by our friends. The idea of a space opera collection was so wide open (literally!) that we decided to jump in and explore it. Kind of a “Hey kids, let’s put on a show” mentality. So we did.

And it’s fair to say that the results have been stunning. Fabulous stories, an incredible response from readers, and a bestseller right out of the gate. DARK BEYOND THE STARS jumped to #1 in SF Anthologies on the Amazon charts on launch day, and was also in the top spot in SF Time Travel. The same position showed up in the UK and Germany. Maybe other countries, too, but we were so busy collecting accolades we didn’t see all of them!

What inspiration did Samuel Peralta serve?

Sam Peralta organizes a dozen anthologies in the time it takes the rest of us humans to choose a title. He made it look easy. Turns out, there are lots of moving parts!

But after watching the Future Chronicles explode onto the science fiction radar screen, we knew it was doable. And it is truly an amazing time to be writing and publishing when you can come up with a concept, act on it, and have a finished product on sale within less than a year. Boggles the mind… and yet, here it is. A real book, and people are reading it in droves.

I don’t want to ignore that all the authors are women. Was that a conscious decision and why?

It wasn’t so much a decision as a group of friends saying we wanted to create an anthology together. And we did, while coincidentally remaining female.

We don’t mind at all that we look cool and radical in staking out our position that women can write science fiction. But that’s not news. From Mary Shelley of “Frankenstein” fame to Octavia Butler, P.D. James, Margaret Atwood, Ursula Leguin and beyond, women have been writing in this genre for a long time. It just happens that there is some conversation about this at the moment.

How important were the ancillary parts — David Gatewood, Julie Czerneda, the cover?

We love that cover!  Julie Dillon, who just received her second Hugo Award, had several pieces of original art available that were created in connection with a glorious book of illustrations she financed through Kickstarter. I found her art and the only challenge was deciding which piece to use of all her excellent work.  We may try to purchase another for the next book in the Beyond The Stars series, which will come out in November.

The text on the cover was done by the talented (and patient) Kendall Roderick.  She was recommended by several of our authors, and she did satisfying and professional work.  We will definitely go back to her.

Julie Czerneda was gracious enough to write us the Foreword that helped pull the entire collection together.  A wonderful author in her own right, she hopes to be able to contribute a story to one of our anthologies in the future.

And David Gatewood?  What can you say about David?  He’s the editor you want when you need to have every story shine.  He put a lot of his own heart and soul into this anthology.  And of course, he’s the only man we let into the clubhouse.  So you know he’s special.

In truth… we will have male writes in the next anthology, including Sam Peralta.  At least, he is welcome into the November anthology if he can find a moment in between spearheading new anthologies to write us a story!

What do you hope people get out of the collection?

I would love to think that they are surprised by some of the stories, and even disturbed by some. And certainly entertained.

The great gift of science fiction is to bring to life new worlds and new ways of contemplating the world we know. The great joy in writing it is to have a huge canvas on which to paint bold ideas.

Are you pleased with the response to the anthology?

The debut of DARK BEYOND THE STARS is beyond (I had to say it!) anything we could have dreamed of. We are humbled by the response from fans old and new, and encouraged by the reviews and the number of books sold.

Both of those realities make it easier to dig in and get ready to do it again for the November release. But the primary reason I’m going to publish another one is that it is great fun to get together with your friends and create. The fact that it gives joy to others is just a side benefit.

Thanks, Will, for having me!


Patrice Fitzgerald is the Series Editor for the Beyond The Stars anthologies as well as an author, publisher, attorney, and occasional opera diva. Her books include Karma of the Silo, a dystopian story based on Hugh Howey’s WOOL, Running, a political thriller about two women competing for the U.S. presidency, and a boatload of sci-fi shorts, including three included in the first several Future Chronicles.

You can find DARK BEYOND THE STARS in digital and print form at http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Beyond-Stars-Patrice-Fitzgerald-ebook/dp/B0147F216Y.

Book Review – Dark Beyond The Stars

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A couple weeks ago, I finished a wonderful new science fiction anthology. Dark Beyond The Stars is a star-studded and potentially ground-breaking collection of stories all set in space in one form or another. The authors and piublishers haven’t made a big deal out of it, but I believe the fact that women make up the entire line-up from cover to cover is significant. When I’m looking for role models for my daughter, I can positively look to these authors as bold, confident women who aren’t afraid to write science fiction in a field where their gender can sometimes be controversial in itself.

I already wrote a fairly comprehensive review of the anthology on Amazon and I’ll share that here. The book is officially out on Kindle today and for a couple more weeks, they are selling the Kindle version for 99 cents, so if you haven’t gotten your copy yet, now is the time.


darkAmazon Review:

For the past year and a half, I’ve fallen back in love with short stories. It was seeing the anthology From The Indie Side, edited by David Gatewood, that brought it all back. It reminded me of the collections of science fiction short stories and novellas I devoured as a teenager. I didn’t always love all the stories, but each one resonated in some way the more I read them, and I slowly learned that huge ideas can be vacuum-packed into a smaller word count.

So I eagerly leapt at a chance to read the latest anthology edited by David Gatewood, Dark Beyond The Stars. Again, I can’t say I fell in love with every story, but the collection featured story after story that reached something deep inside and pulled me along until the page count finally ran out. Dark Beyond The Stars takes readers on an epic journey through space, rewarding them with tales guaranteed to entertain as well as elicit tears.

I also don’t think I can address the quality of the book without mentioning a unique fact about the anthology — each and every writer is a woman. I hope to someday live in a world where this note is unnecessary, but that day is not today. There are some out there who will refuse to read a collection that features only women writers. There are some who may cling to the out-dated belief that science fiction is a men’s game. There are those who wouldn’t even give a each of the writers a chance based on their misogynistic thinking.

Those people would be wrong. These women prove that science fiction is a poorer field without them in it. Dark Beyond The Stars is a rich and full universe of stories that, I believe, benefit from a woman’s perspective and voice.

Now, as I analyze the volume, I’m not going to go into detail on each and every story — other reviews have taken care of this and readers can find those details in those reviews — but I’ll highlight a few of the pinnacles of the book for me.

First off, the choice of Susan Kaye Quinn to start the anthology with her story “Containment” is a sure-fire winner. While Quinn sets the story firmly within the universe she’s established in her latest novel “The Legacy Human,” the story stands securely on its own. As with many of the stories in the collection, the point doesn’t become what happens, but really what does it all mean? In this case, we meet an artificial intelligence who works as the manager of mining on Thebe. As the story slowly develops, we peel back layers of the onion to discover our A.I. is more than what he is allowed to be. The themes of A.I., wealth inequality, and slavery are prevalent throughout the story and make it one to remember.

Another story I loved was Ann Christy’s “Lulu Ad Infinitum” and consequences of a horrific accident on a colony ship headed into space. One of the passengers, Lulu, is left alive, and is confronted with the fact that the only way to continue is with help, and the only way to get help is by cloning. As the mind wanders over decades and generations, what does the ship look like and who is Lulu after all this time?

In the same themes of a colony ship, Theresa Kay’s “Protocol A235,” takes the view of disaster happening in space to the extreme. In contrast to Christy’s Lulu, however, Theresa Kay pulls a slow burn as the first-person protagonist slowly finds out what’s happened, and the life that she has in front of her. The horror of the situation seems a little more apparent to the reader, but watching it play out makes her story one of the gems of this collection.

And the heartbreaker of the bunch had to be Jennifer Foehner Wells “Carindi.” Those familiar with Wells’ “Fluency” know the intricacies of the alien ships, operated by octopi-like beings, but commanded by a different species entirely. Ei’Pio is one of the former, resigned to a fate where she cannot move after a plague wiped out the population of her ship. She discovers a lifeform in the aftermath, one confined to a stasis suit who will be her companion for years. The story plays out until a decision must be made and they must leave their area of space or die. Just as I loved “Fluency,” “Carindi” adds a greater depth and history to Wells’ universe.

Ultimately, David Gatewood succeeds in editing another premier anthology, but he is merely the pilot ship for an armada of warships made up of supremely talented writers. I loved Dark Beyond the Stars and hope that there is more to come from this group.

Chronicles Week! (with Kindle Paperwhite Giveaway!)

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Been radio silence around here for a couple months. Sorry about that…I’ll fill you in later. Suffice it to say this summer didn’t go exactly as planned on the writing front, but was still productive as well.

(Yes, yes…I’ll get to the Kindle Paperwhite giveaway in a bit…)

But while I haven’t been updating Ye Olde Blog at all this summer, I’m breaking that fast now for Chronicles Week.

Let me back up a bit. When I started writing, I credited a lot of the reasons why to one man — Hugh Howey. After reading his blog and WOOL, I was heartened by his approach and the success he had. Not success as in worldwide blockbuster multi-millionaire success, but rather just simply getting that book written and published success. I told anyone and everyone that it was due to Hugh Howey’s career that I had one as well.

While I still credit Hugh a lot, I’ve taken my own course in the past year. And what a year it’s been in my life. Exactly a year ago this week, I arrived home after flying to Africa with my wife to adopt our four (now five) year old son. If you’re familiar at all with international adoption, you know that the transition isn’t always smooth. Our son has been a blessing on our lives, but my writing schedule took a huge hit. I went from being able to write hundreds or thousands of words a day to dozens. Maybe.

So it was a huge boon when I worked up the courage to introduce myself to Samuel Peralta.

robot chSam is the publisher and curator of The Future Chronicles. A year ago at this time he’d only published the first of the series — The Robot Chronicles. I nabbed an early copy and wrote up a review for it and honestly included it in my best-of-the-year list. I saw some of the authors he’d included in that volume and knew I was as qualified as some of them. I asked about being considered for a future anthology and he graciously read my novella Ant Apocalypse. A few weeks after returning from Africa (and writing virtually nothing the whole time), Sam got in touch with me and offered me a spot in The Alien Chronicles.

I will honestly tell you my heart skipped a beat when I read the message that Sunday afternoon (yes, I can tell you exactly where I was) and I had to read it a couple times before I would believe it.

I knew the quality of story the Chronicles called for, so I took a personal day off teaching and wrote all day. The worst part of that? I ended up scrapping the entire story I spent the day on and went a different direction. But I needed that time to convince myself the first story wasn’t as good as the story I ended up writing — Uncle Allen.

(Hold on, the Paperwhite giveaway is down a bit, hang in there…)

alien chWhen The Alien Chronicles released in early January 2015, my story was one cited in a number of reviews as a favorite, and I reached a bigger audience in that month than I had in the previous year and a half I’d been publishing put together.

The Chronicles allowed me to keep writing, but adjust my new life around quality stories with a larger audience thanks to the dozen writers featured in each volume. Being put alongside writers like Hugh Howey(!), Jen Wells, B.V. Larsen, W.J. Davies, Ann Christy, and… (I could literally go on all day…) has elevated my stories and pushed me to write even better than I did before. The relationships I’ve developed in the past few months have shown me the different ways to be an author in today’s new publishing system and Samuel Peralta is a true visionary with goals for the Future Chronicles for multiple anthologies down the road. I’m as thankful for Peralta and the universes he has had a hand in creating as I am for Hugh Howey at the start of my career.

the-z-chroncilesUncle Allen led to Z Ball (my editor says its my best yet) in The Z Chronicles and I’m one of the few veteran voices to be featured in The Immortality Chronicles (now up for preorder — get your copy now!)

With all that said, it’s CHRONICLES WEEK! All the authors behind the current Chronicles books (so far we’ve had Robot, Telepath, Alien, A.I., Dragon, Z, and Alt.History 101) plus the half-dozen or so planned in the next eight to nine months are showcasing the Future Chronicles anthologies. If you haven’t yet read a Chronicles book, there is a special edition due out in a month, entitled (appropriately enough) The Future Chronicles. It will feature ten stories which have previously appeared in Chronicles books and five NEW stories, as well as a Foreword by Hugh Howey himself(!). It’s up for preorder right now for just 99 cents.

And in honor of the celebration, The Future Chronicles authors are giving away a Kindle Paperwhite. Wait, there’s more! Not only will you get a brand new Kindle Paperwhite, this amazing machine will be pre-loaded with all the Chronicles titles already released. Each of these books have hit #1 in the Sci-fi/Fantasy Anthology list and you want to win this thing. Visit here to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway (GIVEAWAY is now closed. Thanks for all who entered!)

Still here? 

uncle allenOkay…visit The Future Chronicles this week and check out all the amazing books there. If you want a taste, my Alien Chronicles story, Uncle Allen is FREE this week only. Check it out as a taste of the collection.