Changing History

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Today’s the day!

Alt.History 102 is changing history starting today. From Nikola Tesla to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Hedy LaMarr to Hannibal, Native American disease resistance to Cold War politics, there are stories in this collection whether you are a history buff, or a sci-fi genre reader to all points in between. I’m super proud to be a part of this collection and my story “Requiem” I believe is one of the finest things I’ve written.

Throughout the past week, I’ve done some interviews with the authors, but before I leave the links below for those, here is the interview Hank Garner (Also an Alt.Historian) did with Samuel Peralta, Jennifer Ellis, Therin Knite, and myself. We had a lot of fun talking together and I think it shows.

Now back to the text interviews. Click on any of the names below for the previous interview.

Will Swardstrom

Drew Avera & Asha Bardon

J.E. Mac

Hank Garner & Therin Knite

Rysa Walker

Jennifer Ellis & Alex Roddie

And I couldn’t leave this without a link to the book, which you can get by simply clicking on the book’s image below. Reviews are already rolling in and so far readers are loving having their histories altered before their very eyes. Go buy it for just 99 cents for a limited time and read it for yourself!

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Meet The Alt.Historians — Rysa Walker

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ALT-History-102-eBook (1)Another day, another introduction to an author for the upcoming anthology Alt.History 102. Today we hear a little from perhaps the most established of all the Alt.History writers — Rysa Walker.

If you aren’t familiar with Rysa, go check out her writing now. Seriously. Timebound was a phenomenal novel and she puts out some great work in science fiction, and specifically time travel. With her stomping about in the past so much, it makes sense that she gets a chance to change it up in Alt.History, which she does wonderfully in her story revolving around Lizzie Borden.

Alt.History 102 publishes on Sunday, January 31 and we’ve had a few other interviews already this week — me, Drew Avera & Asha Bardon, J.E. Mac, and Hank Garner & Therin Knite.

But now, it’s my privilege to introduce you to Rysa Walker…


 

Rysa Walker

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Give us a brief introduction to you. Who are you? What else have you written? What brings you to Alt.History 102?

I’m Rysa Walker, author of The CHRONOS Files series, which is time travel…but also, alternative history, since my characters do quite a bit of mucking around with the timeline. This is my second story in the Future Chronicles.  In my pre-writing life, I was a history professor, and I’ve always enjoyed the “What if…” questions the most, because there are so many aspects of history where a tiny change could have made a major difference.  And so much of the history we study is really “alt. history” anyway, because–as was the case in this story–the details that end up being accepted as “history” are often exaggerated or flat-out wrong.

What’s your story about? What gave you the idea for your story?

Simon Rand is one of the key characters in my CHRONOS Files books is Simon Rand. He’s a villain, but history junkies like me will probably find it hard to entirely hate Simon.  Yes, he alters the timeline a bit. And yes, he’s got a bit of blood on his hands. But hey–that’s his day job.  If he had his way, he’d toss all that aside and be a full-time time-tourist.

This is the second Simon story I’ve written, and there’s a third one planned for late spring. When I finished the final book in The CHRONOS Files, Time’s Divide, Simon was the character who just wouldn’t shut up and let me move on to The Delphi Project.  Both of these stories, and a third one that I plan to write this spring, show readers a side of Simon that wasn’t fully explored in the main books of the series.  And I think “Whack Job,” in particular, helps explain why Simon developed his taste for extreme time-tourism, where he lands right in the thick of the action.

If you could pick a previous Chronicles anthology that you could alter history to go back and be included in, which one would it be and why?

Hmm…tough call.  Probably Robot Chronicles or A.I. Chronicles.  I have a story idea that I think would have fit well in both of those.

Anything else you’d like to plug?

The first book in my new series, The Delphi Project, will be published by Skyscape in October. It lies somewhere in the nexus of the X-Files and X-Men.  Readers who enjoyed “Whack Job,” will probably like my CHRONOS novella, Simon Says: Tips for the Intrepid Time Traveler, which was published back in December on Kindle and which will be released on Audible in the next few days. Simon will also be featured in an upcoming graphic novel project that I’m working on.

 

Meet The Alt.Historians — Hank Garner & Therin Knite

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ALT-History-102-eBook (1)As we get every closer to the official launch date for Alt.History 102, I’m thrilled to introduce two more of the authors in this outstanding anthology. So far, I’ve interviewed myself, Drew Avera & Asha Bardon, and J.E. Mac. Thankfully, I recovered from James’ interview enough for some more and today I bring you Hank Garner and Therin Knite.

I’ve known Hank for a little while now with each of us kind of orbiting each other in different ways and at different times. I’m so glad to be able to share some pages with him in Alt 102 — I’m a huge fan of his writing. I’m happy to see him in one of Samuel Peralta’s collections.

I first read Therin’s story Venus in Red over a year ago in The Telepath Chronicles. It was one of my favorites of the collection and I’m excited to see what she’s got for us in the vein of alternate history.

On another note, I talked to both Hank and Therin the other night when we recorded the next episode of Hank Garner’s Author Stories podcast. It should be up on Friday with me, Therin, Samuel Peralta and Jennifer Ellis. We had a blast recording it, so hopefully it is just as much fun to listen to. Check it out if you get a chance.

Now…on to Hank and Therin…


Hank Garner

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Give us a brief introduction to you. Who are you? What else have you written? What brings you to Alt.History 102?

My name is Hank and I’m a writer of strange stories. I am a husband and father, which keeps me really busy, but I find time to tell stories and host a weekly podcast. I’ve written three novels. Bloom, Mulligan and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, and the new serial Writer’s Block all take place in a fictional town in the Mississippi Delta. This town is one of those places where the veil between this world and the next is a little thinner than most.

I am in Alt.History 102 at the invitation of Samuel Peralta. He emailed and asked if I would be interested and I jumped at the opportunity.

What’s your story about? What gave you the idea for your story?

My story is a big “what if” story. I started with a bit of a conspiracy theory premise. Some people believe that an alien craft crashed at Roswell New Mexico in 1947. They also believe that we obtained that wreckage and reverse engineered the alien technology and that is the reason for the technological jumps we have made in the last 60 or so years. I took that idea and spun it. What would happen if all that was true, but that it happened now instead of then? And what if the aliens crashed on purpose to allow us to get their technology? And what if they had been interfering with our progress for thousands of years?

I’m not exactly sure where the idea came from, other than I love a good alien conspiracy story.

If you could pick a previous Chronicles anthology that you could alter history to go back and be included in, which one would it be and why?

If I could go back and contribute to any other anthology, it would have to be The Time Travel Chronicles. I love the idea that events can be changed and manipulated, and then explore the fallout from those actions. Nearly everything I write has at least a small element of time travel, or dimensional travel.

Anything else you’d like to plug?

I host a podcast at hankgarner.com. It comes out weekly (sometimes more often) and it’s a lot of fun. I get to pick the brains of successful people and that has been a huge help to my writing. I hope it will help you as well.

I also am currently writing a series called Writer’s Block. It’s about a writer that is under a deadline and can’t finish. He is confronted with the ghosts of his past, as well as people that may or may not be from this world. Oh, and he has a magic typewriter that makes everything he types on it come true.


Therin Knite

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Give us a brief introduction to you. Who are you? What else have you written? What brings you to Alt.History 102? 

Hi! I’m Therin Knite. I write snarky sci-fi thrillers, including the Echoes and Arcadian Heights series. I also have a short story called Venus in Red in The Telepath Chronicles. I was invited by Sam to contribute a story to Alt.History 102, which, of course, I was happy to do.

What’s your story about? What gave you the idea for your story? 

My Alt.History story is called The Blackbird Sings. It’s based on the idea that the USSR launched a nuclear assault on the Pacific Coast in the early eighties, leading to the rise of cybernetics in place of personal computing in the 80s and 90s. In modern times, instead of handheld technology and WiFi, everybody’s a cyborg, with all the tech inside their bodies. The story follows a decorated FBI agent as she hunts down an assassin in the ruins of the West.

If you could pick a previous Chronicles anthology that you could alter history to go back and be included in, which one would it be and why? 

Ironically enough, that’d be The Time Travel Chronicles. I was originally slated to be in it, but I had some unexpected stuff happen near the deadline and had to drop out. 

Anything else you’d like to plug?

You can find me at www.therinknite.com, and, if you like FREE stuff and book release news, you should join my newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bDx7Qv.

My Top 10 (Actually 12) Favorite Short Stories of 2015

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2015 is almost up, and you know what that means…

That’s right — excessive weight gain around the holidays!

Also Top 10 Lists!!

Last year I loved making my Top 10 books of the year (which ended up being around 17 or something), but this year I’m going to break down my lists into smaller categories. One of those will be the Top 10 (Actually 12) Short Stories I read in 2015.

Obviously not comprehensive, and not all were written in the past year, but all made a big impression on me. I’m terrible at telling you exactly which was THE BEST, so I’m just going to give them to you in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. Fair warning — many of them are in the Future Chronicles anthologies since I’ve read each of them this year making them a significant reading source for me each time one was released.

A few caveats: A few stories may not have made the cut because I only took one per anthology, and I definitely left all of the parts of Hugh Howey’s Beacon 23 series off since they’ll make an appearance as a full novel on my best books of the year list.


Zero Hour by Eamon Ambrose

zeroRight off the bat, we get a revelation. Eamon has been well-known in the indie community for a few years as being a top reviewer and a big supporter of indie writers. That much talent wasn’t going to stay hidden behind his blog, though, and we were treated to the first of three (so far!), short stories by Eamon in August. The story could be written off, except that Eamon penned the story in the dreaded second-person perspective. You know — the same POV that you read all those Choose Your Own Adventure books in back in middle school. Eamon pulls it off with a flourish and is a fantastic new voice.

The Traveler by Stefan Bolz

tt chronI love how Stefan Bolz writes. Always interesting. Always compelling. Always positive. Even in The Traveler, which originally appeared in The Time Travel Chronicles, where bad things happen, there is an overall optimistic outlook. Bolz has the unique ability to take a dystopia and make it a place you want to be. In The Traveler, Bolz gives us a nuts and bolts (pun definitely intended) look at time travel as our protagonist builds a machine from scratch. The story is poignant and touching, and is one of a handful of phenomenal stories from that anthology.

Free Fall by Peter Cawdron

freefallPeter Cawdron is perhaps the best writer who you should be reading if you aren’t. He’s written stories about aliens, genetic engineering, time travel, and has most recently been focusing his time and talents on zombies and the monsters humanity creates. Free Fall is set in Cawdron’s zombie universe and is a fascinating take on the genre, putting an astronaut in space at the time of the z-pocalypse. What does he do? How does he react when a distress call comes to him from a little girl on earth? The tale is thrilling and captivating.

Tasty Dragon Meat by KJ Colt

dragonIn The Dragon Chronicles, one title took the title of the “Most Talked About,” and that was Tasty Dragon Meat. KJ Colt managed to tell a story that was funny, scary, and thrilling all at the same time. Who would imagine that ingesting dragon meat would do anything besides fill a starving man’s stomach? The idea that the addictive flesh of the dragon had hidden qualities was fun and inventive and earned Colt a spot on this list.

A Long Horizon by Harlow Fallon

11796327_10153423837640170_1900403244562143189_nThe Immortality Chronicles was the first Future Chronicles title to send proceeds to charity. One might think the stories would be subpar, but throughout it, the authors strove for excellence. Harlow Fallon’s A Long Horizon capped the collection with a bang. The story spans hundreds of years from a ship bound for the New World from Europe to a ship in deep space bound for unknown destinations. One thing is consistent – an alien who has formed a symbiotic (even parasitic) relationship with its host, a woman who was just on the cusp of adulthood on her voyage to America. It is touching, interesting, and visceral.

Piece of Cake by Patrice Fitzgerald

aiPatrice Fitzgerald takes artificial intelligence and adds something we all can relate to – cake. Originally published in The A.I. Chronicles, Fitzgerald’s story takes the cake (sorry!) as the story of A.I. run amok with political correctness. There are certainly shades and hints that allude to our society today and the steps we take to making everyone the “same” and ignoring unique body shapes. I applaud Patrice’s work on the story and how it rings true, but also how it hits the funny bone as well.

Writer’s Block by Hank Garner

writers blockEarlier when I mentioned Eamon Ambrose, I talked about how much of a boon to indie publishing he’d been. Hank Garner is quickly becoming a major voice for publishing with his Author Stories Podcast. Recording one a week, Hank is giving a voice (literally) to dozens of writers who deserve to be heard. Garner is a heck of a writer as well, publishing a number of works this year, including Writer’s Block, a story that most any writer can relate to. Of course, it isn’t as simple as just a case of writer’s block, as our protagonist Stu finds out and we get a magical story out of it.

Under the Grassy Knoll by Richard Gleaves

tinfoilDavid Gatewood is one of the best editors out there, and he took a chance this year by publishing Tales of Tinfoil, a short story anthology centered on conspiracy theories. The anthology is a bold choice and I think it pays off. Gleaves’ story leads the collection with a JFK rabbit-hole tale. Where Gleaves shines is the attention to detail and the plausibility. By the end, I was almost convinced that was the actual circumstances of the president’s assassination. Gleaves’ main work on his Sleepy Hollow series is lengthy (the three books total over a half-million words), but the short story here is a fine work, indeed.

Unconditional by Chris Pourteau

Unconditional_sml2Apparently this year Chris Pourteau just wanted to rip people’s hearts out. He originally published Unconditional on its own at the beginning of the year, and then folded it into an anthology entitled Tails of the Apocalypse featuring stories of animals in the end times. I’m sure with both appearances, readers left the story a few tears fewer. Basic premise: What about the family dog during a zombie apocalypse? Here’s the twist — the story is told from the POV of the dog who is loyal to the last. Well done, Mr. Pourteau, thanks for making me think of it all over again. I hate you.

Where Dragons Lie by Thomas Robins

41MGayjgjJLThis may be more of a novella, but I’m putting it here anyway. Right about the time The Dragon Chronicles was out and garnering five-star reviews, Thomas Robins released the first of two stories in a fantasy world inhabited by dragons and those afraid of them. The title dragon isn’t all he seems to be, however, and you’ll find yourself questioning a lot as you read through the story. Robins has since followed it up with a quasi-sequel and I hope he continues the story in 2016.

Concerns of the Second Sex by Pavarti Tyler

althistoryI don’t know if I can say it much better than what I said about this story when it was first released with the alt.history 101 title in July. So here we go: “Important? Yes. Important. Take Pavarti Tyler’s story for example. Entitled Concerns of the Second Sex, her tale looks at a world where the 19th Amendment never came to be. In fact, with the absence of the women’s vote, the world has reverted to a place barely recognizable. Well, recognizable if you’ve read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but that’s about it. Tyler pays homage to Atwood with this story and takes it a step further with the treatment of other races, including race mixing. If we never respected the rights of half of the species, why would the race movement of the 50’s and 60’s be successful, either? The story is tragic, yet Tyler does give it a hopeful note. I found it poignant and an important story to read and understand where we’ve come from and where we are going.”

Carindi by Jennifer Foehner Wells

darkAn emotional gut punch rounds out this list as Jennifer Wells gets all the feels as the heart of the Dark Beyond The Stars collection. The authors and curator didn’t try to focus on it, but each of the authors for the anthology is a woman, showing that science fiction isn’t just for men. One of my favorites was Carindi, set in the universe of Wells’ debut novel, Fluency. The story focuses on dependency, love, and sacrifice. When everything you have is in the hands of someone else, what is does love mean? In the end, our actions are the loudest words of all, as we find in this moving short story.


…and there we go. What a great list. By no means is this comprehensive. I read a lot this year, but my my own admission, my reading list was mostly limited to independent publishing, namely The Future Chronicles anthologies. I rated A LOT of stories as five stars this year, so this list could change a lot depending on my mood. There were certainly stories that were great, but I had to set the line somewhere. Don’t worry — still going to have a Best Books of the Year list coming up in the next couple weeks. Stay tuned for that.

But what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.

 

Book Review Round-up

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Whoa. Been a while since I’ve updated my blog. Going to do better at that in the coming weeks, but for now…how about a few reviews of a few novels I’ve read lately. Some great stuff out there right now. Here are four:


weaponsmass_cvr_lrgWhen I was in high school, I starting reading Tom Clancy novels. I don’t remember if I saw Hunt for Red October as a movie first or read the book, but it all happened about the same time. Clancy had a knack for showing the military side of the U.S., the intelligence behind it all, the home life of the operatives, and yet give the audience a glimpse of the enemy at the same time. The formula works and David Bruns and his writing partner on this book, J.R. Olson, make it work to perfection in Weapons of Mass Deception.

Bruns and Olson give us a simple premise — what if the weapons of mass destruction President George W. Bush said Saddam Hussein had actually existed? From the get-go the reader is given a very plausible scenario of what might’ve happened to the nuclear warheads in the early days of the Iraqi invasion and the entire book spirals from there.

Just like Tom Clancy gave us Jack Ryan and Clive Cussler gave us Dirk Pitt, Bruns and Olson gave us Brendon McHugh, a Navy Seal, complete with a well-rounded backstory and friends throughout the U.S. military and intelligence community. It’s the details where the authors really shine as both are former Navy and completely convince you the story you are reading is real and authentic in every way possible. If it wasn’t for the “fiction” tag on the book, I might’ve been convince this was a true story, ala American Sniper.

I thoroughly enjoyed Weapons of Mass Deception. Bruns and Olson are right up there with Clancy, Cussler, and Vince Flynn in terms of a military and terrorism thriller. I think this is a perfect book to start a long-running series with McHugh as a central character. Well done!


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I first started reading Linear Shift by Paul Kohler when he first released Part 1 as a serial installment. I loved the premise and was intrigued enough to keep reading to Part 2. I somehow got off track when Parts 3 and 4 were released, but thankfully I was able to catch up and read all four parts together with the omnibus collection of Linear Shift, which makes for an interesting and moving time travel tale.

In the book, we meet Peter Cooper, an architect whose family is falling apart. After his wife’s death, his teenage kids are struggling and Peter isn’t much better. One day Peter is offered a chance to travel to 1942 on a mission to correct a mistake during World War II. The mission would be fairly straight forward if those in charge of the mission were more honest with Peter in the first place.

There is a fair amount of action before Peter and his traveling partner Julie actually travel to the past, but the book really takes off and gets interesting once they are in the past. There are plenty of subplots in 1942 and the world is rife with different agendas between the U.S., the French (even the Vichy), the Nazis, and plenty of issues even on the American side of things. Suffice it to say, Peter and Julie don’t have an easy time in the past, but it seemed that sometimes they made it harder on themselves. I really enjoyed it and don’t even have a huge problem with a time or two that seemed a bit “Ex Machina” to me.

I think Mr. Kohler did a great job on Linear Shift and his growth as a writer is evident throughout the four installments of the story. The first few installments are good, but the fourth part (which ends up being nearly half the overall book) is by far the best. I look forward to seeing what Kohler will do next.


heretic-ebookI’d had The Heretic by Lucas Bale sitting on my bookshelf for a while, but for some reason never started reading it. I don’t know why I ever waited — The Heretic is a fantastic read and the beginnings of something special.

As I read The Heretic, I kept feeling like there was something familiar to the story and when the book ended and I read Bale’s author note where he credited the TV show Firefly with much of the inspiration, I knew the similarities were not just coincidence. Like many other sci-fi fans, I too wished the show would have continued with the adventures of Captain Mal and crew. In a way, Bale fulfills that wish with the story he gives us in The Heretic.

But this is so much deeper than a simple hour-long TV show. Bale has intertwined the Roman Empire in a dystopian post-earth setting with the Firefly homage. The galaxy is under control of an authoritarian regime, using terms straight out of ancient Rome like Consul and Praetor. Only what is approved is taught, leading to conflicts between the government and unauthorized “Preachers.”

Our main character is named Shepherd and seems straight out of the Firefly character book, which is not an unwelcome thing. He and his ship are hired to take a town and their Preacher out of danger, a situation he would naturally like to avoid, but something keeps him around — something that nags him from his past.

I really enjoyed The Heretic and have the next two books ready to go on my Kindle. Mr. Bale is a welcome addition to the sci-fi genre and I look forward to more stories from him.


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After reading previous books by S. Elliot Brandis in his Tunnel series, I thought I was prepared for The Pearl Diver. I was wrong. Starting a great new Young Adult series, Brandis does the unexpected, taking the reader in new directions with each step along the way.

In The Pearl Diver, we are quickly introduced to Elsie, a 17 (nearly 18) year old living on the planet Caelum, which is 96 percent water. Based on the descriptions, it seems wonderful, almost like a year-round tropical island in many respects, but Elsie longs for more, just like many young protagonists in stories like this. She wants, desperately, to be The Pearl Diver.

Caelum is one of six (or seven??) planets in the system, but each year administrators from the planet Dunamis, the head planet, organize a contest for a black pearl. The winner, if there is one, is named the Pearl Diver, and is taken to Dunamis where they are honored. The first half of the book is all about Elsie’s journey to the contest and her attempts to be the Pearl Diver, but it’s the back half of the book that really got me.

In Brandis’ previous books I’d read, he was liberal with hurting his characters physically. He literally plunged the knife in and twisted at times. In The Pearl Diver, Brandis has learned to do the same with emotions. The physical challenges and harm is still a factor, but when Elsie learns what life is like after the contest, we find the knife sticking out of our backs as well.

Well done, Mr. Brandis.

I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a larger and much broader plot Brandis has mapped out beyond the contest to find the pearl. I would definitely recommend this to any fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent, or Susan Kaye Quinn’s latest The Legacy Human.

Book Review — Skynoise

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HarlotWith Skynoise, Ernie Lindsey shows why he is one of the most compelling and dynamic indie writers out there. Earlier this year, I found Super, which turned the superhero genre on its ear, and in Skynoise, Lindsey takes the sci-fi trope of time travel and twists a good yarn through years of mysteries and bread crumbs.
One of the greatest mysteries of history is the disappearance of the settlers at the Roanoke Colony, off the coast of modern day North Carolina, back in the 1500’s. Historians to this day are uncertain as to the fate of the early colonists — did they die off? Did they leave with a Native American tribe? Even some even farther-out conspiracy nuts have argued for extra-terrestrials. Lindsey takes the Roanoke mystery and uses it as the central historical narrative to tie the present-day to our time traveling protagonists in a timey-wimey sort of way. As a high school history teacher, I am fascinated by stories like those of Roanoke, and was thrilled when Skynoise started and ended with the Roanoke mystery in full swing.
We quickly meet Helen, a non-fiction author whose latest book tackles the mystery at Roanoke. On her book tour, she repeatedly deals with Chip, who comes across as a conspiracy nut at first. Soon we find out there is a lot more to Chip than we initially see, which is definitely intentional on Mr. Lindsey’s part — this is definitely a story that will make you think in circles. Parts that happen at the beginning or even before the start of our tale are revealed later on; this is a book that would work well in repeated readings.
The best I could compare Skynoise to is “Timecop” plus “Conspiracy Theory” plus maybe a little “The Italian Job.” Lindsey keeps the pace up well, pausing at times to take a breath and to get our characters some important information. In the end, Skynoise is a wonderfully-told, and fun book that showcases Lindsey’s storytelling skills.

Collaboration Celebration!

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A month ago, I got an email from my author friend Lyndon Perry. I first got to know Lyn through WOOL fan fiction. His story The Last Prayer is a great Silo tale and it really shows how great of a writer he is. We share some other aspects of our lives as well. Both of us are teachers for our day jobs and both of us like to mess around with multiple genres. Lyn’s stories run the gamut from horror to sci-fi to young adult to cozy mysteries. (Seriously — his book Ma Tutt’s Donut Hut is perhaps his best yet.)

The ReturnAnyway, back to the email. Lyn had read my short story Contact Window. He told me later that when he’d read it, he put it down, but couldn’t stop thinking about it and the possibilities of the universe. he ended up writing a story set in my universe, which he called The Return. It’s a quasi-sequel to CW; I might write a true sequel for the characters of CW someday, but he took it in a totally different direction. In fact, the direction he took it in was a total surprise and a total treat. I hadn’t expected the story to begin with and I never would have expected the way he took it.

I ended up adding a little at the beginning and a little rewrite in the middle, but most of the story is his. And it’s a wonderful little tale it is. It shares the same universe and the same little nod of humor that the original story includes as well.

To celebrate the release of the new story, and to give an introduction to the Contact Window Universe, I’m making CW FREE Monday and Tuesday. Pick it up and then get The Return for just 99 cents. Read both and leave me and Lyn a review of our stories. And let me know if the universe of Contact Window is one that is worth exploring in future stories. After I finish my next novel, my writing slate is fairly clear and CW might make a return appearance.