[Video Training] Make a Living as a Freelance Writer for Apex Authors

Are you curious about what it takes to get into freelance writing? I recently did a training for Apex Author members where we cover:

  • The wide world of freelance niches
  • How to choose a profitable niche
  • How to land those first gigs
  • And more

The video replay is available for members, but you can access it with the free trail — and while you’re at it, check out all the billions* of other amazing trainings Apex Authors has available!

* Maybe I am exaggerating, but not by much.

We need to stick together

Matthew Shepard was murdered in Wyoming when I was fifteen.

The following spring, I was sitting outside a McDonalds in my home town after dark with my best friend when a car full of men in their early twenties drove by, real slow. 

They did a U-turn so they could drive by again.

They rolled their windows down. 

“Is that a girl or a boy?” one of them yelled, referencing my best friend; she was looking butch as always, with her baggy 90s grunge look, her figure lean and rangy. Laughter pealed from the inside of the car.

I can’t remember what else they yelled at us, and I’m sure my best friend yelled back some choice insults. 

But I remember that, until they finally drove away, I couldn’t stop thinking: 

“This is how it starts, this is the night my parents find my body beaten beyond recognition, left tied to a fence post to die. Just like they did to Matthew.”

The men finally left. We went home. And I added the experience to the extremely long “Reasons I want to move to Seattle” column in my mind. 

By the time Matthew Shepard was killed, my friends and I already knew how dangerous it was to be different in a small town. 

I ran with the theater and band nerd crowd. I had friends who were openly gay, and friends who were closeted. We experimented with goth and punk looks that made us stand out. 

We were ridiculous, we were fun, we were weirdos. 

We were kids. 

And every single one of us had a plan to leave our home town and find a place that felt safer to be ourselves. 

A lot of things have gotten better since I was in high school. 

My friends in the US can legally get married now. There’s a lot more representation for LGBTQ role models in media, and a lot more resources and acceptance for kids to learn to love themselves. (Even so, LGBTQ youth are still more than four times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers. Source: The Trevor Project.) 

I figured we were — overall — on a positive path toward being a society that cared for and protected everyone in it, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

I bet you can see where I’m going with this, especially if you’ve been following US politics lately.

Tennessee just became the first state to ban drag shows and, effectively, trans people from performing at all. Trans authors are wondering if that means doing book readings is now against the law there — I’ve heard several folks talk about pulling book tour dates in Tennessee to be safe. 

Iowa lawmakers just introduced a law that would ban same-sex marriage, effectively dissolving families who don’t have the resources to move out of state. 

Dozens of states are looking at bans on gender-affirming care for youth, and a handful of these laws have started to pass. Oklahoma proposed a bill banning gender-affirming care for adults under the age of 26. 

It’s always been scary to be a kid that doesn’t fit in — and even scarier if you’re openly gay or trans. But the attack on LGBTQ kids at a legislative level is absolutely horrifying. 

My heart breaks for kids in states where the adults who are supposed to protect them are actively pushing legislation through that will deny them healthcare and basic rights.

(And you know the rhetoric those adults are spewing just increases the amount of harassment their own children are facing on a daily basis.)

Families are trying to protect their kids. A friend of mine in the south told me recently he’s planning on moving because he has two daughters and he’s worried about raising them somewhere that now restricts healthcare access for women. 

But not everyone has the means to move to a place where their kid will be safe — and not every kid has a family that’s willing to protect them, even if they did have the means. 

I don’t know what to do about any of this, except to make my voice heard in favor of trans rights and gay rights. 

This blog post isn’t even a “First they came for” attempt to speak out, because, hey. I’m a cis woman and they’ve already come for my healthcare and autonomy in the United States. It’s a “I see my trans cousin and trans friends and trans fellow authors under attack and I’m heartsick for us all” sort of post.

I don’t know what to do.

One thing I do know is that you’re a sci-fi reader, which means I’m probably speaking to the choir. 

Since I left my hometown at the age of 18, I’ve found my community primarily in the world of science fiction readers and writers, and I know what a welcoming bunch you are.

Science fiction is all about exploring how we can be better as a society, from Ursula Le Guin to Star Trek. It’s about learning to build empathy with others, from alien races to our fellow passengers on the Starship Earth. 

We may not all see eye-to-eye politically — who does! — but most people I know in the sci-fi community identify more with the book-reading weirdo in the corner than the aggressive bully.

And dammit, we weirdos need to stick together.

Now more than ever. 

If you’re looking for a way to help, I recommend seeking out and donating to organizations in your area that support LGBTQ (and especially trans) youth. Whether or not you’re in the US, I’m sure the kids in your area need to know people care about them. The Trevor Project is a good place to start.

If you’re looking to boost your empathy superpower in this area (yay for reading!), Book Riot has a fantastic list of recent sci-fi/fantasy books with trans characters. I can also heartily recommend Lila Bowen’s Wake of Vultures (weird western shapeshifter series) and my friend Neil Cochrane’s The Story of the Hundred Promises, a lovely fairy-tale retelling. 

Let’s not let this next generation of ridiculous, fun, incredible weirdo kids down. 

Now Kickstarting: From Dream to Reality

Happy February! I’ve been enjoying the bright (yet cold) sunshine here in Portland, and am very excited about the sun not setting at 4:30pm anymore.

I’m also excited because my latest nonfiction book from Microcosm Publishing is currently in the Kickstarter phase!

We’re about halfway through the Kickstarter, and halfway through the goal — and my editor just emailed to say the book just went off to the printer. 🙂 Can’t wait to see it!

So. What’s this new book, you ask?

From Dream to Reality is basically a very detailed, expanded version of the spiel I’d give you if you asked if you could take me out for a beer and pick my brain about becoming a freelance writer. I’m super proud of it, and can’t wait to see it out in the world helping people make a living with their writing.

I love talking about this stuff. The marketing, the business stuff, the money — all that business nitty-gritty is super fun to me!

This book full of juicy how-to-make-money-writing tips, written in a conversational style that’s meant to be casual and approachable, while giving you the confidence to hang up your freelancer’s shingle and start finding those first clients. (Though I don’t shy away from how hard it can be, either.)

If that sounds like something you (or someone you know) would love, go check out the Kickstarter.

And thank you very very much!

New Sci-Fi Crime Releases

If you enjoyed the stories in CROOKED volumes 1 and 2, you’ll be delighted to hear that the authors are an industrious bunch. Many have new books out in their well-loved series — or are launching new series entirely. Read on for a round-up of this winter’s new releases from some of the fabulous authors I’ve been privileged to work with as part of CROOKED!

(Note that a lot of these books are further on in the series — follow the links to pick up the first book in the series if you haven’t already.)

Huntress at the Helm by Greg Dragon

The Geralos, scourge of the Anstractor universe, have set their eyes on the Nusalein cluster of colonies. Lieutenant Helga Ate and the Nighthawks, having completed a mission on the planet Genese, are called in to assist with holding off the invasion. Now, the team finds themselves involved in a crisis where trust is short, and the enemy is varied. Will Helga’s luck and knack for survival be enough with an inexperienced crew and a ship only partially repaired?

Buy on Amazon, or read for free with Kindle Unlimited.


Code Reaper by E.L. Strife

In a digital world, who strips your online presence when you die so no one can steal your assets, ruin your name, or destroy your family after your death?

Kaisha is an elite Code Reaper for Divisiom Enterprises, helping to sever digital ties of the dead and protect their life’s achievements from hackers. After the mysterious murder of her parents, Kaisha sticks to the shadows, burning the existence of the less fortunate, like them, from the online realm.

Kaisha has learned to protect herself and the assets of the lower classes while she works. She has no desire for the cushy life of a Corporate Code Reaper. Even a simple hack can ruin an entire family.

When a major corporate player, Mr. Deranth, unexpectedly summons her to wipe his digital slate, she’s stunned. But Deranth has picked her for a reason. It isn’t supposed to be his time to die.

Kaisha finds herself chasing a trail of early deaths, trying to find signs of murder in the code. Divisiom wants her to leave it alone and just do her job. When she won’t stop, Divisiom hunts her down.

Teaming up with Holt, one of Mr. Deranth’s guards, Kaisha discovers a dark truth behind the corporate leader’s murder, one that opens her eyes to a powerful virus coursing through the underground. With cybersquads after her, Kaisha must pull from every skill set to find the source before its evidence is erased forever.

Can she stop the virus before she becomes the next client on another Code Reaper’s scrub list?

Buy on Amazon, or read for free with Kindle Unlimited.

The Corpse Corps by Eric Warren

Fresh off her promotion and finally accepting the reality of twenty-seventh century living, Lilah Barrows finally feels like she has a grasp on the future.

That is, until she botches her first command, throwing her whole promotion into question. However, there is something else gnawing at Lilah, something she can’t quite describe, but it sits in the back of her genetically-enhanced brain, chipping away at her.

Just as she’s decided she’s ready to seek some help, Lilah finds herself in shackles and being paraded in front of her friends and her squad, accused of a crime serious enough to have her stripped from her body and placed back in storage. The only problem is, no one will tell her what law she’s broken.

Determined not to go down without a fight, Lilah manages an escape with the help of an old friend. But when it turns out her escape was made possible by the twenty-seventh century equivalent of a cult, Lilah will have to dig deep if she hopes to figure out who these people are and what they truly want.

It turns out this group may have the answers about her mental condition and her past, but to learn the truth, Lilah will be tasked with changing the Stellar Union at its most fundamental levels. And the reality of what really happened to her could cost Lilah her sanity…and her life.

Buy on Amazon, or read for free with Kindle Unlimited.


Traitor Game by Kate Sheeran Swed

Book 3 of the Parse Galaxy series.

Sloane Tarnish isn’t the kind of girl who typically harbors celebrity fugitives on the rugged little spaceship she calls home. But now that she’s stuck with one, she can’t help but feel she’s pretty darn good at it, thank you very much.

She doesn’t know how long her crew will be able to hide.

She doesn’t know what the Cosmic Trade Federation will do next in their bid to control the entire freaking galaxy.

What she does know, with absolute certainty, is that Galactic Fleet Commander Gareth Fortune is innocent of all crimes.

The only trouble? Finding a way to prove it…

Get it anywhere books are sold.

Symbiotech by C.E. Clayton

Ellinor is done—running and hiding.

Cosmin has made it violently clear that wherever Ellinor and Kai go, he will find them. And, he will gladly make their families suffer until Ellinor returns what she stole from him. But Ellinor cannot, and will not relinquish Fiss; not to those who would bind and shackle him to serve their greedy agenda, not to anyone.

Even with her magic returned, and with Fiss, Kai, and Jelani to help, they are still no match for Cosmin, a point made agonizingly clear when Ellinor and her friends tangle with an old foe. Without more power, Ellinor has little hope of saving her family before there is nothing left to save. The power is there, but learning how to harness her upgraded magic is complicated, and time has run out. Then there are other distractions, in the guise of feelings Ellinor would never have thought possible for her again, if it weren’t for the charming Jelani and her growing attachment to him.

Allies are in short supply, and any help will come with a price, but that won’t stop Ellinor from returning to Euria. She will face Cosmin von Brandt and save her family, or die trying.

Buy on Amazon, or read for free with Kindle Unlimited.


Cast Off by R J Theodore

The Action Packed Conclusion to the Peridot Shift Trilogy

Peridot is on the edge of annihilation. Once life-giving, the world’s Trade Winds are transforming people into soulless monsters. The surviving Alchemist gods neglect their followers or take advantage of them. Even worse, a delicate peace has been wasted, and everything and everyone is at stake, especially Meran, the mistreated embodiment of the planet.

Captain Talis and the crew of Fortune’s Storm must try to do some good with what’s left of Peridot in the hope that, together, they’ll reclaim the hidden pieces of Meran’s soul before the chaos seals her disastrous fate.

Get it anywhere you find fine books.

Morphus Ascendant by G.J. Ogden

The search for a superweapon leads to a conflict with the galaxy’s most dangerous criminal cartel

Despite their best efforts to subdue Goliath, the superpowered alien AI continues to grow stronger and more lethal. Billions already lie dead across the galaxy as the entity works its way toward Earth, and the Star Scavengers are losing faith. All of their hopes now lie in finding another artificial entity – one that fought and defeated Goliath long before humanity was born.

The only problem is that this entity is dead.

Thanks to their informant inside the military, Hudson and Tory learn the location of their potential ally’s body. As an artificial being, they hope there is still a chance to revive it and get it back into the fight.

But Goliath and its death cult controlled by fanatical leader, Amelia Ash, are no longer the Star Scavenger’s only problems. The Council – the galaxy’s deadliest crime syndicate – are gunning for them too, as are bitter relic-hunting rivals, the Creed Brothers.

Battling the odds, and winning, is what Hudson and Tory do best. But this time, they will need more than just luck and guile to achieve their goal of stopping Goliath; they’ll need a weapon powerful enough to destroy it.

Star Guardian is an epic space opera series, blending the action and fun of Firefly with the treasure-hunting adventure and mystery of Indiana Jones. Start reading today!

Buy on Amazon, or read for free with Kindle Unlimited.


Rememory by Frasier Armitage

In the future, memory is currency. Felix is broke, on the run, with nothing in his head but a combination of numbers.

Someone robbed him of his mind. Now it’s time he took it back.

★★★★★ “Armitage deftly executes the fresh concept of memory as currency. REMEMORY is part cyberpunk, part thriller, and a total blast to read. Truly captivating.”–EL Strife, Author of the Infinite Spark series and Zedger

★★★★★ “A mind-blowing short story about a man on a perilous pursuit to take back his looted memories. I’d absolutely give it five stars.”–Dawn Ross, Author of the Dragon Spawn series

★★★★★ “Phenomenal story…absolutely phenomenal”–Davene Le Grange, Poet and Author of The Cyber Punk: Ready 2 Play? and other science fiction

Buy on Amazon, or read for free with Kindle Unlimited.

The U.F.O. Case by Austin Dragon

All aboard the Falcon Express! Earth’s first royal luxury hoverjet designed to travel the skies, on the seas, underwater, and into space! What could possibly go wrong with our hero detective on-board for vacation?

A dream of high-end travel has arrived. But that dream becomes a Nightmare…at 40,000 feet!

LIQUID COOL is Sci-Fi Meets the Detective Crime Thriller!

In the action-packed (and funny) cyberpunk detective series, we tag along with Cruz, our sci-fi detective (and unlikely hero) with attitude. But this time it’s not the fifty-million-plus, supercity of Metropolis. We only start there. We’re 40,000 feet up, traveling 700 miles per hour in the dark skies.

Preorder wherever you find fine books.


CROOKED V.2 Author Spotlight: William Burton McCormick

We’re celebrating the launch of CROOKED V.2 by spotlighting the authors who have contributed stories!

William Burton McCormick is a Shamus, Thriller, Derringer, Silver Falchion and Claymore awards finalist and his Santa Ezeriņa novella “House of Tigers” was an Honorable Mention for the Black Orchid Novella Award. He is the author of the thrillers a STRANGER FROM THE STORM and KGB BANKER and the historical novel of the Baltic Republics LENIN’S HAREM. William has lived in seven countries including Latvia and Ukraine, the settings of “The Crimson Vial.” Learn more at williamburtonmccormick.com.


Tell us a bit about your story and the story world.

The Crimson Vial is set in the real world, maybe two or three years ago. It’s the story of a Latvian investigative journalist, Santa Ezeriņa, looking for a stolen bioweapon in Eastern Europe. It’s science fiction that reflects the tensions in that part of the world, buffed up with a noir sheen.

Here’s a sneak peak:

Down-on-her-luck Latvian journalist Santa Ezeriņais hired by a mysterious American pharmaceutical company to find a case of stolen bioweapons somewhere in Eastern Europe. Pervious investigators on the case simply disappeared without a trace. Will Santa find the thief before the case is opened and the weapon unleashed on the world? Will she be the next casualty in a coming bio war? And what slithering substance is contained in that last crimson vial? A sci-fi noir tale of espionage, horror and adventure.

What was the inspiration behind this story?

I lived in Eastern Europe, and spent years in Ukraine and Latvia, the two key settings. Santa Ezeriņa is a series character, and I’d already done adventure, mystery and thrillers with her, so I wanted to use the character in a sci-fi noir (with hints of body horror).  The politics and geography of the regions were one type of inspiration that got me going, the strange goop in my Kharkiv basement another kind. There is also a good dose of Lovecraft and even 1960s Stan Lee. And, of course, there are the noir tropes out of Dashiell Hammett and James Ellroy. And, the Santa character, if I am honest, is my own modern, female, European version of Carl Kolchak (with a little Æon Flux). All those elements mixed into the soup or borsch.

If you could travel to any science fictional world, where would you go and what would you do?

That galaxy far, far away that was the Star Wars universe would be my first choice. I say “was” because I hate what Disney has done since acquiring the property both with the films and throwing out all the wonderful novels in the Star Wars Extended Universe as noncanonical. Timothy Zahn, Kevin J. Anderson, Ann C. Crispin, and many others did so much to enrich that story. So, I’d re-canonize the Extended Universe, then I’d go live in it. I always wanted to be a space smuggler.

What are some of your favorite sci-fi crime books or stories?

I guess I should say something sophisticated like Philip K. Dick, but continuing with my Star Wars obsession, those old Brian Daley Han Solo novels were the perfect fusion of crime (smugglers, gangsters, conmen, bounty hunters) and science fiction for me. Who needed the Empire when you could battle the Corporate Sector Authority?

Beyond that the Kolchak: The Night Stalker television series, the original Æon Flux shorts (the dialog-less ones) and of course Blade Runner (see, I did get Philip K. Dick in there eventually. Sort of.)  And I’d recommend the Occult Detective Magazine Gray Dog Tales / Cathaven Press is publishing these days. Great stuff.

And, as an avid comic collector, I must ask what are all those 1960s Stan Lee/Jack Kirby/Steve Ditko/John Romita, Sr., comics but sci-fi meets crime tales with great cliffhangers? I learned a lot from those.

What authors have inspired your writing?

Lovecraft is a major influence. (Astute readers will note a tip of the hat to “The Thing on the Doorstep” in “The Crimson Vial”). Other Weird/horror influencers include M.R. James, Sheridan Le Fanu, Ambrose Bierce, Bram Stoker, Algernon Blackwood and, of course, Poe. I also have an Ancient Studies degree and have read a lot of Greek tragedy. My love of Sophocles and Euripides, coupled with the Poe, Lovecraft and Peter Chung (of Æon Flux) influences, means things sometimes end very bad for our heroes. Hey, who wants to watch The Empire Strikes Back with me for the hundredth time?

What are you working on next?

I am rotating writing three mystery/horror short stories set in Europe with editing two historical thriller novels I drafted some time ago, drafting an Alt-History novella set in 1940s Hollywood where a murderer steals the career of Humphrey Bogart.



Get it here.


CROOKED V.2 Author Spotlight: Caitlin Demaris McKenna

We’re celebrating the launch of CROOKED V.2 by spotlighting the authors who have contributed stories!

Caitlin Demaris McKenna is a science fiction writer and freelance editor. She currently lives, works and writes in Vancouver, British Columbia. When not writing, she enjoys reading, watching video game Let’s Plays, and entomology. She grew up in the Minnesota woods, where on clear winter nights, she would look up at the stars and wonder. Connect with Caitlin at expansionfront.com.

Caitlin’s current project is titled Shadow Game. Wars make unlikely allies. When his ship is damaged, elite assassin Gau Shesharrim is stranded on a hostile world — until help comes from an unexpected source. Discover how Gau recruited his first ally in his crusade against the Expansion. Download Shadow Game for free when you sign up to the Readers Group mailing list here!


Tell us a bit about your story and the story world.

I wrote the Expansion series as a deliberate inversion of the alien invasion trope: many stories feature human beings fighting against stronger alien empires, but what would it be like if our species was the one colonizing the galaxy? How might other intelligent species react to that, cope with it, or fight against it?

In the main series, Gau is a big mover and shaker in the resistance against the Expansion. With this story, I wanted to explore an earlier time in his life when he was just trying to get by, and what might have changed to make him realize he has more potential than he thought.

What was the inspiration behind this story?

A throwaway line in a conversation between Gau and his former employer in Alliance of Exiles, the second novel of the series. He has to get her buy-in for an ambitious plan and evokes a time when listening to him paid off. I got to thinking, “Wait, how did that all go down?” This story is the result.

If you could travel to any science fictional world, where would you go and what would you do?

Iain M. Banks’ Culture universe, hands down. He set out to create a galaxy-spanning post-scarcity society where humans (and many other species besides) are free to live and travel wherever they want on huge AI-guided starships. The Culture offers incredible freedom of choice, up to and including modifying one’s body into an entirely nonhuman form if desired. I’d probably hitch a ride on a ship and tour the galaxy, stopping at any interesting planets or orbital rings along the way

What are some of your favorite sci-fi crime books or stories?

Alastair Reynolds’ Revelation Space series was my introduction to the concept of sci-fi noir, particularly Chasm City. I’d also highlight Richard K. Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs series starting with Altered Carbon, and his standalone dystopia Market Forces. That one is like Mad Max meets Wall Street.

What authors have inspired your writing?

The modern space opera greats like Iain M. Banks, Alastair Reynolds, and Dan Simmons were all influences. Ada Palmer for her impeccable world-building in her Terra Ignota series. And this list would be woefully incomplete without K.A. Applegate, whose Animorphs series is the reason I am a science fiction writer today.

What are you working on next?

This summer I began writing Halcyon, the first volume of a new space opera I’m calling “Dinotopia in space”. Biodiversity loss has ravaged Earth and forced humans to develop sophisticated genetic engineering tech to reseed the planet with plant and animal life. Along the way, a small group of scientists used the tech to create genetically engineered intelligent dinosaurs who now coexist with humans.

This human-dinosaur alliance has started spreading into the galaxy, but conflicts threaten its edges as separatist groups claim planets for one species or the other. The main characters are two government agents (one human, one dino) sent to investigate a discovery on the separatist world Halcyon that could upend the entire alliance.



Get it here.


CROOKED V.2 Author Spotlight: R J Theodore

We’re celebrating the launch of CROOKED V.2 by spotlighting the authors who have contributed stories!

R J Theodore (they/she) is an author, graphic designer, and all-around collector of creative endeavors and hobbies. They enjoy writing about magic-infused technologies, first contact events, and bioluminescing landscapes.

Their love of SFF storytelling developed through grabbing for anything-and-everything “unicorn” as a child, but they were subverted by tales of distant solar systems when their brother introduced them to Star Trek: The Next Generation at age seven. A few years later, Sailor Moon taught them stories can have both.

Their short fiction has appeared in MetaStellar, Lightspeed, and Fireside Magazines as well as the Glitter + Ashes and Unfettered Hexes anthologies from Neon Hemlock Press.

They live in New England, haunted by their childhood cat. Find more information including a directory of guest posts, podcast appearances, blog tours, and interviews from around the genre reading and writing communities at rjtheodore.com.


Tell us a bit about your story and the story world.

The story is one of several side tales from the world of Peridot, which was destroyed centuries ago, and re-assembled by its new alchemist deities into a planet held together, literally, by magic. Floating islands, a swirling layer of frozen trash, and a glowing green center where souls float to rest. It’s not your average world. But people are still people, and they still do whatever they can to survive. Sometimes those things are illegal, sometimes those things are wrong (those two items not always the same thing), and sometimes those things are dangerous. But you gotta put coffee on the table, and if you’re lucky, you can have fun doing it.

What was the inspiration behind this story?

This story came out of the joy that I get from reading and watching stories with a grifter who comes into a space, pretending to be one of that space, and then making a narrow escape after their activities being discovered.

Sometimes they do it very well (e.g., Ocean’s Eight), sometimes they do it very poorly (e.g., Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean), and sometimes it’s somewhere in between (e.g., Firefly).

I once drew an image by the same title with a feeling of all the above examples, and though the setting is very different from this story it felt like the same experience at its core, so I couldn’t see doing anything but borrowing the name.

If you could travel to any science fictional world, where would you go and what would you do?

If I were going to put myself into a SF setting, I think I’d dive in for the Star Trek worlds. Seems safer, better food, a guarantee that all risk can be dissolved within a 48 minute episode. Dealing with chronic disease, I definitely look forward to certain Science Fiction promises ahead of others. Sure, the Expanse is masterfully crafted both in terms of the vehicles and the politics, but I’d probably still be dealing with health issues, on top of worrying about what corruption has spread throughout the solar system (just because I write stuff along those lines doesn’t mean I’d choose them for myself!).

What are some of your favorite sci-fi crime books or stories?

I have to say I always loved Odo-focused episodes of Deep Space Nine. Rene Auberjonois wore that character like the most endearing grumpy detective you could imagine. He wasn’t head of security for Star Fleet. He was an independent figure of the law on a station where everyone (even friends) were trying to sell the bolts that kept the station together. He was a cowboy-esque sheriff, and he was a shape-shifter, which made watching him on a stake-out especially fun. 

What authors have inspired your writing?

Talking before I became an actual Science Fiction writer, when I was just haunting the SF&F rows at Barnes & Noble, I’d give credit to C J Cherryh, with her extremely well crafted galaxies, and Douglas Adams, who pulled absurdity into a story and made it the key to how everything worked. I also have to give a nod to Charles de Lint who, while not an author of science fiction, was the vehicle through which I encountered urban fantasy and is probably why just about ALL my stories include some crossover with magic. If it can exist in a random Canadian city, why not in space?

These days, I am inspired by authors such as Valerie Valdes, C.L. Clark, Darcie Little Badger, Sarah Pinsker, Malka Older, Alex White, Zig Zag Claybourne, L.D. Lewis, Mari Ness, Phoebe Barton, A.Z. Louise, Rivers Solomon, Caitlin Starling… sorry, I could really truly go on and never stop. SF&F right now is overflowing with incredible talent, and every day someone astounds me with adding something new and newly styled to the genre.

What are you working on next?

This year I’m finishing up my genre-demolishing airship pirate Peridot Shift series, finally getting the series completed and out into the world after the small press that first bought it shuttered and the rights swung back to me. Once all the self-publishing effort there is off my desk, I am tremendously excited about drafting something new, something equally genre-disregarding. I like to call it “Dead Space meets Sailor Moon meets Mycelial Networks.” Usually by this point in my process, I’d have a title that’s pretty sticky and likely to make it to the end, but not this time. I’ll have to invite folks to stick around on my newsletter to wait for me to finally come up with a short phrase to capture this current hot mess.



Get it here.


CROOKED V.2 Author Spotlight: Jim Keen

We’re celebrating the launch of CROOKED V.2 by spotlighting the authors who have contributed stories!

Jim Keen writes books about the people who fascinate him in worlds that amaze him. He loves crime, thrillers, and stories about people with secrets. If there’s not a big twist along the way, he’d never write the first word.

The international bestselling Alice Yu series takes place forty years from now, in a world transformed by mechanical intelligences—AI’s big brother. Yu is a loner cop atoning for past sins. Through the series she discovers what it is to be human, while becoming something much more in the process. If you like the steely future noir of William Gibson, James S. A. Corey, and Martha Wells, you’ll love these sci-fi thrillers.

Alongside the Alice Yu trilogy, Jim has written four free novellas, plus drawn hundreds of illustrations and designs from the future. You can get all of those for free at https://jimkeen.com.


Tell us a bit about your story and the story world.

The science fiction books I’m working on occur in the late 2050s and early 2060s after the advent of AI. Intelligent machines have perfected automation, which has led to mass unemployment and significant changes to society, with an ever-widening gap between those at the top and everyone else. This story follows Sara, a memory hacker with unique talents, who is hired by the secretive SolarMute crime organization to steal a dead man’s mind…

What was the inspiration behind this story?

As my work occurs post-AI singularity, the wealthy have access to technology far beyond the dreams of most people. One such technology is the ability to be 3D scanned and organically reprinted, thus creating a type of eternal youth for those with the financial means. As always, people who are desperate enough will do anything for a way out, and SolarMute offers Sara hers.

If you could travel to any science fictional world, where would you go and what would you do?

I grew up massively influenced by cyberpunk, and it would be easy to say Blade Runner. However, while that makes for good entertainment, living in such a dystopia would be terrible! So, for me, it would be Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’m rewatching it with my son right now, and its post-scarcity utopia would be a fascinating world to experience (and less rainy).

What are some of your favorite sci-fi crime books or stories?

I think William Gibson is the greatest living science fiction author. A fantastic combination of beautiful prose, elegant structure and amazing imagination—I return to his books over and over. After that would be the Culture novels of Iain M. Banks; they’ve been a huge inspiration. I also thoroughly enjoyed The Expanse TV show.

What authors have inspired your writing?

While I’d love to write like William Gibson, I think my current work most resembles Neal Asher and Martha Wells, placing a big emphasis on interesting characters in terrible conditions…

What are you working on next?

This story, SolarMute, is the prequel to my next novel, Agent Zero which follows UN special agent John Risk as he is sent to hunt down and assassinate an evil AI running South America’s latest drugs war. A mission in which he just happens to need the services of an expert hacker…



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CROOKED V.2 Author Spotlight: Frasier Armitage

We’re celebrating the launch of CROOKED V.2 by spotlighting the authors who have contributed stories!

Frasier Armitage writes science fiction. Which is another way of saying he’s a self-confessed geek who sits alone in a room scribbling in notebooks about things that are currently impossible.

When he’s not writing, you’ll find him with his wife and son, watching Keanu Reeves movies, reviewing books for the FanFiAddict blog, or noodling on his guitar. He’s a part-time robot, full-time nerd, imaginer of worlds, and resident of Earth.

Frasier has won the ‘Matthew Cross Writing Contest’ multiple times, received a ‘Silver Honourable Mention’ from the Writers of the Future Award, and is the winner of the Pen To Print Audio Drama Competition 2022. His short stories have been published in blogs, magazines, and anthologies, and his debut novel will be released soon.


Tell us a bit about your story and the story world.

Good As Gold is a bank robbery in the city of New Yesterday — a place where events in the present can change the past. A band of thieves hatch a plan to steal the gold, but with the city constantly rewriting history, getting away with the loot is either going to be their greatest score or their final undoing.

What was the inspiration behind this story?

Just over a year ago, I became a Dad. My family means the world to me, and the arrival of my boy changed who I am. Being a father is part of my identity. My debut novel (which is coming out later this year) is called New Yesterday, and it’s set in a world where the past is in constant flux. I explore the idea of identity in that book — what makes us who we are — but I finished writing it before my son arrived, so I wanted to revisit the city to delve into this idea of how transformative parenthood can be. Besides, who doesn’t love a good bank heist? I’ve been wanting to write one for ages, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a kind of story which is typically conventional and formulaic and try to find a new lens to see it through.

If you could travel to any science fictional world, where would you go and what would you do?

I’d serve aboard the Enterprise under the command of Jean-Luc Picard, writing holodeck programs for the crew. Or I’d step into the world of Cowboy Bebop, steal Spike’s Swordfish and take it out for a spin. Or I’d get an audience with the Jedi Council, and tell them that Palpatine was a Sith Lord so he could be taken down before Anakin is corrupted — then he and Padme could just raise Luke and Leia in peace. 

What are some of your favorite sci-fi crime books or stories?

I’m not sure this qualifies as a crime book, but I love Recursion by Blake Crouch. I’d just finished writing New Yesterday when I read it, and I adored the way it played around with time. Anything related to time-travel is right up my street, so if there are any amazing time-travel crime stories out there, let me know — I’d love to read more of them. 

What authors have inspired your writing?

I love the way Peng Shepherd manages to blur the lines between reality and fantasy. I love the character-focussed perspective Mike Chen brings to his stories. I love how Blake Crouch has perfected the blend of sci-fi and thriller. I love the invention of HG Wells. I love the atmosphere and dark zaniness of Philip K. Dick. I love the concepts and execution that EL Strife delivers so consistently. And I love the imagination and bravery of Emily Inkpen. 

What are you working on next?

I won the Pen To Print Audio Drama Contest 2022, which means one of my scripts is being made into an audio-play. I’m helping to put it together with the producer and actors, and it is SO MUCH FUN! It’s called Postcards From Another World and will be available to listen to soon. But a lot of my focus is going into the release of New Yesterday right now. I’ve been working on this book for so long — I really want to get it right! A prequel novella (which sets the scene for how the city became established) has only just come out, and it’s free to my email subscribers. That one is called Yestermorrow. To go along with Good As Gold, there’ll be another few short stories set in this world which will be released over the next few months, and will hopefully build up to the novel before the year ends. But I’m always working on multiple projects. I’m a juggler when it comes to stories, and one of the books I’m drafting at the moment is really getting under my skin. Just like this story, and this anthology, I can’t wait to share it with everyone!



Get it here.