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.


Gifts for Readers: 2021 Edition

Oh, hello! Welcome to my gift guide for readers for 2021. Got a reader on your shopping list? Are their reading tastes weird like mine? You’re in the right place.

These aren’t the “Best books of 2021.” Nor is this a comprehensive list of books I think are worth gifting.

Rather, this is a list of books I personally read in the last year or so that I wholeheartedly recommend. Books I’ve been dying to shout about. Books that, were we standing next to each other right now, I would put directly in your hands and insist you purchase.

There are sci-fi and fantasy books, of course, along with a couple fun YA/middle grade and some suspense/thrillers to round out the mix. I’ve also included a few of my favorite non-fiction books from this year.

I thought about copying over the product descriptions so you could actually know what the books are about. Instead I opted to write my own blurbs while drinking a bottle of wine. You’re welcome.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

(Quick note: Some of these links are affiliate links — which means I get a few pennies when you make a purchase. But believe me. I’d be shouting about all of these things for free. I also chose to include for the print links, because they donate to local bookstores! You could also order through your own local bookstore if you like.)


Oh, wait! Before we dive in to the books, do you have a reader in your life, but you’re not sure what their favorite genre is, or what they have or haven’t read? Give them the gift of lots of books at their fingertips!

  • E-reader — I have both a Kobo Clara and a Kindle Paperwhite, and love them both equally. I know, I know. The smell of paper, etc., but the ability to pack all 27 books you’re certain you’ll read on vacation without taking up any more suitcase space than a poetry chapbook is pretty great. Plus, when you’re reading Fonda Lee’s doorstopping Green Bone saga way too late in bed and you nod off and the book hits you in the face, it doesn’t hurt as bad if it’s an e-reader.
  • Oh, they already have an e-reader? Do have one of these lovely e-reader covers by Fintie? I have a galaxy print for my Kobo and a marble print for my Kindle — I also got one of their hardshell cases for my laptop. Seriously, I always assume if something has fun patterns and colors it’s not as well-made — but these Fintie cases are great. (And apparently only available on Amazon, sorry.)
  • Audible subscription — One of my favorite wedding gifts was an Audible subscription. My husband and I were headed on an extended trip to Peru after our wedding, and we spent a ton of time listening to audiobooks together. (And, hey — you can get the Bulari Saga books on Audible now!
  • subscription — a new kid of the audio block, is a great option if you want to listen to audiobooks, but also support your local bookstore. Their app is super intuitive — I’ve really been loving it.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

I wish I’d had a chance to read a fraction of the amazing sci-fi and fantasy books published this year! Here were some of the faves I read this year.


Persephone Station by Stina Leicht

Thank you to my cousin Faith for recommending this book to me! She said it reminded her of my Bulari Saga, and damn if she wasn’t right. Seedy underworld alliances, found family who have each other’s back, and lots and lots of explosions. You’re gonna love it.

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Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

I don’t read a ton of fantasy these days, but I LOVE Rebecca Roanhorse (keep reading this gift guide, you’ll see). So when she released her first epic fantasy based around Pre-Columbian cultures, I picked it up — and devoured it in a few days. Lush, lovely, and a real page-turner. I cannot wait for the next book in this series!

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Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Since I’ve brought up Roanhorse, I’m just gonna go ahead and put this one here, too. Post-apocalyptic monster-hunting adventures set on the Navajo Nation after a flood cuts it off from the rest of the world and tears the fabric of the world between gods and humans once more. Love love love both this book and its sequel!

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Torn by Rowenna Miller

Did I say I didn’t read much fantasy these days? Sure, but when Rowenna Miller tweeted a 1-star review complaining that Torn had “not enough magic and too much rebellion” I one-clicked it and was not disappointed. Do you like fashion, sewing, and revolutionary politics? Like a lot of fashion, sewing, and revolutionary politics? This will be right up your alley.

Also, LOOK AT THAT COVER! I can’t get over how fantastic it is with the needles and the blood and the whole thing. I am clearly the target market. Maybe someone on your list is, too.

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Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

Hey, speaking of rebellion? I am loving this new series by Kit Rocha. Communist mercenary librarian badasses do crime for good with rakishly broodily handsome supersoldiers. A little steamy, but not nearly as much as Kit Rocha’s Beyond series — which I also enjoyed, but gotta say I’m digging this new series more.

Pick it up for the person on your list who you’d most like to have on your team during the apocalypse.

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Jade City by Fonda Lee

Have I raved at you about Fonda Lee’s Green Bone saga yet? No? Well let me rave at you now. Gorgeously written, full of complicated characters you love to root for, and all those tense, complicated crime family negotiations that I just eat up. The final book in the trilogy just came out a few weeks back and I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, so if you spoil it for me I’ll cut you. Don’t even try.

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Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald

Since we’re talking intensely epic crime family drama, please go read the Luna trilogy. Fashion! Dinner parties! Lavish descriptions of both intricate interpersonal politics and delicious-sounding cocktails. GORGEOUS and DEADLY and SO MUCH FUN.

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Whyborne and Griffin series by Jordan L. Hawk

I picked up Widdershins because I met Jordan at a writer’s conference and we instantly bonded over our deep appreciation of good IPAs. Bonus, his books sounded fun! A bookish wizard solves cosmic horror crimes with his dashing ex-Pinkerton detective boyfriend and best friend the headstrong lady archaeologist? Let’s check it out, I figured.

Friends — these books got me through the pandemic. Whenever I needed a good pick-me-up, I grabbed the next book in the series and sank into a world full of people I’m secretly starting to think of as friends. (Oh — heads up, there are steamy times ahead.)

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Want more recommendations? Check out my “hopeful science fiction” post for some more great reads.

Suspense and Thriller

Don’t tell anybody, but even though I write science fiction I primarily read thrillers. I binge them like candy with no regrets — and I’ve read some amazing ones this year.


Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

I picked up Jane Doe on recommendation a month ago, and absolutely tore through it. The minute I finished, I texted this to a couple of fellow true crime podcast listening friends:

Hey murder ladies book club — I just read Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone on recommendation from a new friend and I fucking loved it. A functioning sociopath who loves her cat sets out to ruin the life of a manipulative asshole dude. I would now kill for Jane but she would probably get there for me first.

I could rave more about it, but you should probably just pick it up for your weirdo true crime podcast loving friend. (I see you girl, email me.)


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Killshot by Elmore Leonard

Not gonna lie, I’ve been wanting to read some Elmore Leonard for a while, but 100% picked this particular book because it shares a title with Bulari Saga 5. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but from the first paragraphs vividly describing the cracks in the hitman’s hotel room ceiling I was totally hooked.

(Seriously — almost a year after reading it, so many scenes of Killshot are etched in my mind. Leonard is a master of detail.)

I also gotta say I was expecting a bit more stereotypical relationship between the husband and wife, but a lot of the book is from her point of view and — guys. Leonard clearly interviewed some exasperated women as research for writing Carmen Colson. Just let Carmen take care of business, Wayne. She’s got this. Step back and don’t worry your pretty little head. Just go fishing or whatever you do, Wayne, Carmen’s got a plan.

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When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain

This one was a bit of a tough read due to subject matter (missing girls, sexual assault, the loss of a child), but it was an excellent book. I read it soon after we’d spent a weekend in Humboldt County, CA, so the setting of the book felt gorgeously familiar. And the prose was really, really lovely. Like, Tana French lovely.

It’s perfect for that true crime fanatic in your life.

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The Secret Place by Tana French

Hey, speaking of Ms. French, have I shared with you lately the good word that is the Dublin Murder Squad series? I’ve been rereading Tana French’s books this year because her prose is a masterclass in writing conversations where one level of information is being relayed in the words, and a total other level is happening in the body language. Hashtag writer goals.

It’s hard to pick a favorite of her books, but I do really love The Secret Place. Don’t be scared off that it’s book 5 in the series — you can pick them up in any order. If you’re looking for a standalone, her most recent book, The Searcher, was also really fantastic.

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Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Also in the category of books that got me through the pandemic? At one point when I totally lost motivation for anything, I picked up Stillhouse Lake and binged it — and the next three books in the series — over the course of a week.

They’re just so page-turnery, with characters you want to root for, and some seriously cliff-hanger writing. I’ll shout out a content warning for violence against women, stalking/harassment, and on-page serial killer horribleness. Caine handles that all very skillfully and thoughtfully, in my opinion, but I don’t want to throw you in a pond you aren’t interested in swimming in.

(That’s a thing people say, isn’t it?)

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Young Adult/Middle Grade

My niblings are getting to reading age, and the eldest (she’s almost 11) takes after her auntie with her nose always buried in a book. The following suggestions are books I’ve bought for her recently, and also read (and loved) myself.


Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

Quick humblebrag, but Eisner and Caldecott award winning Vera Brosgol is my neighbor! Like, “hey Vera can you grab that package off my porch we’re out of town” neighbor. Like, “hey Jessie do you want half a loaf of this sourdough I just made” neighbor (she’s an excellent baker!).

But you don’t care about that. You care that Vera is a phenomenal storyteller and illustrator, and Be Prepared is incredible. I bought it for my niece and my sister says she read it through twice the same day it showed up in the mail.

Hey, me too, kid. Highly recommend.

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Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Yes, this post has become a shameless Rebecca Roanhorse stan account. Here’s the thing, friends. I grew up on the Yakama reservation, surrounded by people like the characters in Roanhorse’s books — people I so rarely see in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. So that’s one of the reasons I love her work.

But more than that, her writing is just ridiculously fun! I bought this book for my niece for Christmas, but I read it first myself and it was fantastic! (Don’t tell my niece and spoil the surprise — I don’t think she’s old enough to have found my blog).

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Clockbreakers: Asterion’s Curse by Kate Ristau

This is another series I bought for my niece this summer. I loved mythology at her age, so I figured we’d both dig reading this series together. I was totally right — they’re really fun! Plucky BFFs learning how to fend for themselves, quirky minotaur mentors, and a truly cunning villain.

Full disclosure, Kate’s a friend — but that’s not the only reason I was able to score a signed set for my niece. Head to her website and I bet she’ll sign some for you, too.

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The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

Bear with me on the self help recommendation here, but I have been thinking about The Big Leap constantly since I read it a few months ago. Gay Hendricks has a very “so I was talking to my buddy the CEO on the golf course the other day” vibe, but he teases out the ways that we hold ourselves back from love and happiness in a truly brilliant way. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy for yourself, and for a friend.

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Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

I debated putting this one in here. Not because it wasn’t absolutely the best book I read in 2021, but because it’s … not “gifty”? Not happy? I read this for a book club, and I kept texting the friend who recommended it “OMG this is getting so horrible” and she would text back “Oof just wait.”

It’s a true crime book about a series of murders of members of the Osage tribe in the early 20th century, and the way Grann lays out the story and surrounding history is masterful. Like, I’m still reeling in awe of his storytelling skills. (Is it too much of a spoiler to say that white colonizers weren’t a good thing for the original inhabitants of this continent?)

Killers of the Flower Moon is being made into a movie directed by Martin Scorsese, which should be coming out next year. And maybe this isn’t a classic holiday gift, but this book is Extremely Recommended Reading. You won’t regret it. Give it to a friend. Read it yourself. Then email me and let’s talk, I have a lot of Thoughts.

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In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

I can’t even remember the last time I read a memoir, but when Mark Teppo showed me this memoir about an emotionally abusive relationship where every chapter is written as a different genre — “The Dream House as Noir,” “The Dream House as Bildungsroman,” etc. — I was fascinated. It’s gorgeously written, and way more of a page-turner than I expected.

Wait — is this not a good gift guide book either? Like, if you give a memoir about an emotionally abusive relationship to a friend, what message will they be thinking you’re trying to send? I’m starting to worry I’m failing at this gift guide thing.

But read this book, it’s awesome. I couldn’t put it down even though — and I can’t stress this enough — it’s a literary memoir. Those usually bore the shit out of me.

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The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls by Mona Eltahawy

Okay we’re back on track here, I promise. Do you have a badass feminist on your holiday shopping list? Get them this book. Mona Eltahawy is a NPR correspondent and generally rad person, and I am totally loving her collection of empowering feminist essays about the traits women are generally expected to have, and what we should embrace instead.

Get angry, murder ladies! Whether you’re navigating the seedy underworld of Luna (or Jade City or Persephone Station), sewing up a rebellion, librarianing mercinarilly, taking down way more than your fair share of serial killers, or just making up for your husband Wayne’s lack of awareness (I SEE YOU CARMEN COLSON, YOU GODDESS), Mona Eltahawy outlines the seven skills you need to dismantle the patriarchy.

Learn them. Internalize them. We ride at midnight.

(Oh hey, men, you’re more than welcome to ride with us! The patriarchy sucks for you, too.)

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Photo by Lucas George Wendt on Unsplash

Dispatches From Anarres, or Don’t Disappoint Denzel Washington

I’m convinced Denzel Washington just wants you to live your best life.

In The Equalizer, he walks into the bad guy’s office with a simple offer: Take some money, make things right, and turn over a new leaf.

The offer’s too simple, though. Denzel’s character is too unassuming — and so the bad guys laugh him out of the office.

Denzel walks to the door and sighs sadly at what’s about to happen.

Then he locks the door, checks his watch, and proceeds to demolish every last bad guy with intense precision.


Don’t disappoint Denzel.

I love the trope of an underestimated badass. Maybe it’s the old man who’s secretly a martial arts master. Maybe it’s the little girl who’s actually a psychic grenade. Maybe it’s the shy kid who’s actually whip smart, or the outclassed kid with a secret talent.

Maybe it’s brother and sister shoemakers who are secretly fighting back against the conquerers who are occupying their town…

The Navu officer in his shop is admiring a pair of boots, though frowning at the underslung heel. “Doesn’t that make it difficult to walk?”

“It’s the northern style. Riders prefer them.” Desh turns on his own underslung heel, executing an abbreviated dance step in the tiny space of his shop, his back-step cut short before a display case. “Dancers, too.”

The Navu officer laughs. All the Navu seem to find Cazhitlani fashion and showmanship amusing. Jilli smiles at his back, appreciating his underestimation of her brother.

“I need them for a ball. Don’t you have anything less — ” The officer waves a hand foppishly.

“Bold?” Desh is used to this question from Navus. “For you, of course. I can make something special.”

A few weekends ago, I had the honor of sitting with a handful of other authors on a panel for the Portland Book Festival about Ursula Le Guin, and how her work had inspired our own. The panel was in celebration of a new anthology, Dispatches from Anarres: Tales in Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin.

(The above excerpt is from my story in the anthology, “Black as Thread.”)

On the panel, we were asked what about Le Guin’s work inspired our own, and I picked the way her stories don’t center on the biggest, baddest warriors around.

Le Guin’s characters don’t always seem powerful on the outside; in fact, their power is in the way people to underestimate them.

The dart game scene in Ted Lasso is a fantastic example of this. I mean — who doesn’t love watching an arrogant bastard get taken down a notch by his own shortsightedness?

In my story, “Black as Thread,” a brother and sister who own a shoe shop begin crafting cursed shoes for the occupying forces. Their shoes grow in popularity among the upper ranks of the occupying forces, who never would guess where their string of bad luck is coming from.

You see it in the exchange I excerpted — the Navu officer finds the dancing shoemaker with his passion for color theory to be harmless. Laughable.

Le Guin has a lovely essay called “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction,” which you can read for free in the Anarchist Library. In it, she talks about whose work — and stories — have traditionally been considered important.

When you see traditionally feminine crafts and hobbies — like shoes and fashion — as unimportant, you’re going to judge them as harmless.

You’re not going to be curious about them. You’re not going to ask questions like:

“What signal am I sending in your culture when I wear green shoos with red buttons?”

“What are those songs your sister is singing in the corner?”

“Why does the thread she’s sewing with turn black under her fingertips?”

You won’t expect danger to come at you in a shoe store.

You can find “Black as Thread” along with an amazing collection of other stories inspired by the amazing Ursula K. Le Guin in Dispatches From Anarres.

(Oh, and I’m thrilled to tell you my short story was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for literary works published by a small press! I’ve never been nominated for a prestigious literary prize, so I’m a bit floored.)

Meet Dispatches From Anarres:


Named for the anarchist utopia in Ursula K. Le Guin’s science fiction classic The Dispossessed, Dispatches from Anarres embodies the anarchic spirit of Le Guin’s hometown of Portland, Oregon, while paying tribute to her enduring vision.

In stories that range from fantasy to sci fi to realism, some of Portland’s most vital voices have come together to celebrate Le Guin’s lasting legacy and influence on that most subversive of human faculties: the imagination.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

[Podcast] A conversation with Bookpod

I love to read, but I don’t have a ton of time, which is why I’m always looking for book recommendations. If I’m going to read something, I want it to be good!

That’s why I’m so excited to tell you about this new book recommendation podcast that’s hitting earbuds near you.

(Is that a thing I can say? Earbuds near you? Guess I’m going for it.)

Logo for BookPod: the Indie Filter Podcast, a book recommendation podcast. Image is headphones on a book.

Bookpod: the Indie Filter Podcast, is specifically aimed at helping readers find indie authors they love. Ben and Sarah Nadler read indie-pubbed books to find their favorites, then interview authors to talk about their books.

They alternate between author interview episodes and book recommendation episodes.

I know Sarah through a local weekly write-in we both attend, so I was thrilled when she asked me to come on the show. Our conversation is featured on episode four of Bookpod. (You can listen to it here.)

In the episode, we talk a bit about my personal story, how I got into writing, the importance of finding a good writing community, and my inspirations for the Bulari Saga. It was a super fun conversation.

One of the cool things about Bookpod is that each author reads a bit from their book. So if you listen to the end, you’ll get a little sample of Double Edged (the first book in the Bulari Saga), as read by yours truly. Apologies for not being a professional narrator, but I guess that’s part of the charm. 🙂

I know Ben and Sarah have a good collection of author interviews recorded, so I’m really excited to see where this podcast goes as they keep releasing new episodes.

If you’re looking for a new book recommendation podcast, give Bookpub a shot!

(And if you have reader podcast recommendations of your own, leave ’em in the comments. I’m always looking for new podcasts to put in my earbuds.)

(PS. You can find other interviews with me on my press page.)

Looking for Some Hopeful Science Fiction?

Lately, I’ve been in the mood for hopeful science fiction.

Maybe it’s the new year, maybe it’s being in the throes of winter, or maybe it’s just that I’m a bit over SF/F shows and books where everyone stabs everyone else in the back, and the moral is that life’s tough and then you die.

I’m craving hope. Trust. The prevalence of justice. Friendship against all odds.

If you’re craving that as well, this blog post is for you.

These books aren’t necessarily light reads,  but they are the sorts of books where you can expect things to turn out all right at the end. Times may be tough. Hardships may need to be endured. It may be the apocalypse.

But the good guys will probably win, and justice will probably be served.

I’ve included some of my favorite hopeful science fiction books/series here, and I also asked a few friends who are book bloggers/podcasters to help.

If you have any favorites you don’t see on this list, please please let me know in the comments! I love recommendations, so don’t hold ’em back.

Paradox Trilogy by Rachel Aaron

(3-book series)

Paradox Trilogy by Rachel AaronThese books are a ton of fun. Fascinating worlds, a badass main character, and a great will-they-won’t-they love story that races alongside the fast-paced plot.

I devoured this trilogy when I first came across them years ago!

From the description:

If Sigouney Weaver in Alien met Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, you’d get Deviana Morris — a hot new mercenary earning her stripes to join an elite fighting force. Until one alien bite throws her whole future into jeopardy.

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey

(8+ book series)

Expanse by James SA CoreyThe Expanse is another series I fell hard for when I first came across it. If I recall, my husband brought home the first three books as an impulse buy from Powell’s, and we both devoured them, then binged the TV series when it came out.

From the description:

Two hundred years after migrating into space, mankind is in turmoil. When a reluctant ship’s captain and washed-up detective find themselves involved in the case of a missing girl, what they discover brings our solar system to the brink of civil war, and exposes the greatest conspiracy in human history.

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

Fallen Empire by Lindsay Buroker

(8-book series)

Fallen empire trilogyI’ve always loved Lindsay Buroker’s writing, and the Fallen Empire series was no disappointment. But what really drew me in was the chemistry of the two main characters, enemies who are forced to work together and eventually develop trust and camaraderie.

From the description:

The Alliance has toppled the tyrannical empire. It should be a time for celebration, but not for fighter pilot Captain Alisa Marchenko. After barely surviving a crash in the final battle for freedom, she’s stranded on a dustball of a planet, billions of miles from her young daughter. She has no money or resources, and there are no transports heading to Perun, her former home and the last imperial stronghold.

But she has a plan.

Steal a dilapidated and malfunctioning freighter from a junkyard full of lawless savages. Slightly suicidal, but she believes she can do it. Her plan, however, does not account for the elite cyborg soldier squatting in the freighter, intending to use it for his own purposes. As an imperial soldier, he has no love for Alliance pilots. In fact, he’s quite fond of killing them.

Alisa has more problems than she can count, but she can’t let cyborgs, savages, or ancient malfunctioning ships stand in her way. If she does, she’ll never see her daughter again.

FYI — the first book is free as an ebook!

Amazon | IndieBound | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

The Indranan War series by K.B. Wagers

(3-book series)

Indranan war trilogyThe instant I saw the cover of Behind the Throne, I desperately wanted to read it. And then I saw this description:

Behind the Throne begins an action-packed new series with a heroine as rebellious as Han Solo, as savvy as Leia, and as skilled as Rey.

Yes, please!

Behind the Throne is dark and violent at times, but what made me love it was the intense bonds of loyalty and trust between the characters. The world may be bleak, but the characters don’t have to face it alone.

Add in a splash of space gangsters, plenty of twisty politics, and detailed descriptions of fashion and meals, and it pretty much hits all my “instant-buy” buttons. So much so that my mom noted Behind the Throne reminded her a lot of my own Durga System books.

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers

(3-book series)

Angry planetThe Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers has been making waves for the past few years — and I love this description:

Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.

I have yet to read them, but Cylia Amendolara of BookBarkerSFF highly recommended this series.

Here’s what she had to say:

This is about chosen family (I am a target market for these) and the choices we make when things are hard. It gets to the root of why I love speculative fiction, a fantastic setting to showcase the deep morality of people choosing to do the right thing.

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

(Standalone novel)

Station ElevenStation Eleven was recommended to me a few years ago by my friend Andrea Rangel, a knitting pattern designer with whom I share a love of good science fiction.

For a novel about the end of the world, it takes a suprisingly optimistic approach about the human capacity to do good in the world, and the importance of art.

I highly recommend it.

From the description:

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

(Standalone novel)

Space OperaThe first time I saw the cover of Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente, I screamed “Yes!” at my computer. Because I love Valente, and I love Eurovision, and I love a good book title pun.

Space Opera came highly recommended by Cylia Amendolara of BookBarkerSFF. She says:

“Aside from the fact that I did an entire twitter rant on my personal account on why this book is amazing (thread starts here), this book gently feeds you heartbreaking truth and hope in the midst of glitter and pageantry and song (and the possible annihilation of the human race). Cat is a friend and this book is the truest true version of her and I want everyone to love it as much as I love it and her.”

From the description:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets the joy and glamour of Eurovision in bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente’s science fiction spectacle, where sentient races compete for glory in a galactic musical contest…and the stakes are as high as the fate of planet Earth.

(Um, what’s not to love about that?)

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook

Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis Chen

(2-book series)

Waypoint kangaroo

If you’re looking for an incredibly funny romp, may I point you toward Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis Chen? You’ll find Kangaroo, a quirky, vaguely incompetent super-hero spy, alongside a charming cast of characters committed to saving the world.

Plus, it’ll make you laugh out loud.

(Oh! And Curtis has cleverly designed a puzzle into the cover — can you solve it?)

From the description:

Kangaroo isn’t your typical spy. Sure, he has extensive agency training, access to bleeding-edge technology, and a ready supply of clever (to him) quips and retorts. But what sets him apart is “the pocket.” It’s a portal that opens into an empty, seemingly infinite, parallel universe, and Kangaroo is the only person in the world who can use it. But he’s pretty sure the agency only keeps him around to exploit his superpower.

After he bungles yet another mission, Kangaroo gets sent away on a mandatory “vacation:” an interplanetary cruise to Mars. While he tries to make the most of his exile, two passengers are found dead, and Kangaroo has to risk blowing his cover. It turns out he isn’t the only spy on the ship–and he’s just starting to unravel a massive conspiracy which threatens the entire Solar System.

Now, Kangaroo has to stop a disaster which would shatter the delicate peace that’s existed between Earth and Mars ever since the brutal Martian Independence War. A new interplanetary conflict would be devastating for both sides. Millions of lives are at stake.

Weren’t vacations supposed to be relaxing?

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

The Murderbot Diaries by Marsha Wells

(4-book series)

MurderbotFor as grim as the title sounds, the Murderbot novellas are truly delightful. The story is told from the point of view of a bored SecUnit who’s hacked its governor module after a traumatic last mission, and who’s determined to keep its humans safe this time around.

Though, it’d much prefer if its humans would just stop doing stupid things so it could watch its soaps instead.

If you haven’t met the Murderbot yet, please allow it to charm you to bits.

From the description:

“As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.”

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid – a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

(5-book series)

hitchhikersLevi Ergott of book review site Epic Grit recommended one of my favorite science fiction series from when I was a college student — if you haven’t already read The Hitchhiker’s Guide, I really recommend you put it on your list.

As Levi says:

“So Adams is pretty cynical, and Earth is blown up in the beginning of the book; but there is a hopeful message despite all of that. With determination, a positive mindset, and a whole lot of highly improbable luck you can fix anything.”

Plus, you’ll learn where all the dolphins went, what to take with you at the end of the world, and what might go through the mind of a bowl of petunias during its final moments.

Oh — and the answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything.

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

The Martian by Andy Weir

(Standalone novel)

MartianThis last recommendation comes from Luke Elliott, co-host of the Ink to Film Podcast, a fantastic podcast where writer Luke Elliott and filmmaker James Bailey discuss science fiction and fantasy books along with their film adaptations.

(They have an excellent few episodes where they dissect The Godfather with Fonda Lee, author of Jade City.)

Though Luke admitted to me that he loves grimdark, he says of The Martian, “It’ll leave you feeling optimistic about the future of space-travel and the human spirit!”

Levi Ergott of Epic Grit also recommended The Martian as “one of the latest and greatest takes on the modernist vision — science, human ingenuity, and force of will overcoming all obstacles.”

Amazon | IndieBound | Powell’s | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

Still looking for hopeful science fiction?

Durga Novella CoversMight I humbly suggest you take a look at my Durga System books? They’re full of plucky protagonists, found family, conflicted people making tough choices, rollicking adventures, delicious food, and — of course — plenty of gunfights and explosions.

And you can trust that everyone’s got each others’ backs.

For even more good book recommendations, please also follow the bloggers/podcasters who helped me out with this list!

Cylia Amendolara — BookBarkerSFF (Twitter | Instagram)

Levi Ergott — Epic Grit

Luke Elliott — Ink to Film Podcast

Got hopeful sci-fi recommendations of your own? Leave them in the comments!

Happy Birthday, Negative Return!

It’s been over a year since I released Negative Return.

While I had hoped to have less of a gap in my publishing schedule this time around, part of the reason for the delay is that I’m saving up my words to give you something really exciting later this year.

I’m not yet ready to announce release dates, but I do have another Durga System novella and three full-length novels in the works for sometime in the winter.

You’ll be hearing more over the next few months as I get things finalized and can share bits of books with you. (Stay tuned for a cover reveal for the next novella, Deviant Flux — I just saw the final design, and it’s amazing!)

One other thing I’m doing to prepare for the launch is trying to get the existing Durga System books into the hands as many readers as possible. I ran a sale on Starfall a few months ago, and now it’s Negative Return’s time to shine.


Get Negative Return for $0.99

What readers are saying about Negative Return:

“…another expertly blended mix of crime story and science fiction.”

“I love the characters, and can’t wait for more.”

“Best single word description – unputdownable!”

Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | More store

Oh, and one more thing…

Reviews are critical in helping readers discover books by indie authors. If you’ve read Starfall or Negative Return and want to share the love (and make sure I can keep writing more in the series!), please leave a review. 

Thank you so much!

For Your To-Be-Read List

Bikes Not Rockets


edited by Elly Blue

*Note — I’ve had stories in several of the Bikes in Space series. In fact, one story inspired the Durga System series! I don’t have a story in this volume, but it will be very worth checking out. 

Bikes Not Rockets
 is the fifth volume of the feminist bicycle science fiction series, Bikes in Space. Featuring 12 works by talented writers and artists, you’ll find a wide range of perspectives and visions.

The common theme among all of the stories is the bicycles that propel all these protagonists towards and through major turning points in their lives (and the universe!).

Preorder your copy on Kickstarter!

Nepenthe Rising


by John Triptych

In the far future, two major factions are locked in a galactic cold war. As tensions mount between the technocratic Union and the genome-harnessing Concordance, both sides anxiously watch for a chance to conquer the other.

The Nepenthe is a pirate vessel, loyal to neither. Led by the enigmatic Captain Dangard, her rough and ready crew includes the cat-like alien Commander Creull, Zeno the immortal synthetic, the dashing Garrett Strand, and Duncan Hauk, a promising young recruit. 

Hired by a cryptic employer, the crew waylays a transport ship carrying a mysterious passenger. In due time, this incident sparks the beginnings of an interstellar conflict that could threaten the state of known space.



by S.J. Bryant

For eons a dark force has lurked inside Archalon, waiting.

In 2354 the Confederacy set it free. Now the alien uprising is imminent and there’s only one person left to stop it.

Nova goes where others dare not. She shoots first, talks little, and carries a chip on her shoulder the size of Boullion 5. Her reckless courage is all that stands between the Ancients and the annihilation of the human race.

Fear the hero who has nothing left to lose.

If you love science fiction, don’t miss out on this action-packed adventure!

Get it on AmazonKobo, Nook

Summer Shenanigans

Last weekend, I went with some girlfriends to Tillamook, Oregon for a getaway weekend. If you’ve never been to Tillamook, it’s best known for its dairy industry — so of course we visited Blue Heron creamery to sample delicious brie and feed the animals.

(That’s me as a bull above, with my friend and fellow author Alexis, writing as Alexis Radcliff, as a peacock. Photo by Kristin Koontz.)

I find summers fun, but exhausting. While Portland winters are designed for hunkering down and getting work done, as soon as we get our stretch of rain-free summer days we try to pack in as much as possible.

In July I have two family reunions, two groups of friends/family coming to visit us in Portland, and of course all the impromptu barbecues, bike rides, and trips to the river that are bound to happen. 

As a self-employed writer, it can be hard to find balance in the summer. On the one hand, so long as I turn in client work on time I can get the work done wherever. Because my client work load tends to be lighter in the summer, I can be more flexible and take advantage of all the fun. 

On the other hand, it can be incredibly hard to simply relax without feeling like I should be working harder. If I blow off early on a Friday I’m basically playing hooky alongside the most demanding boss ever (me).

Anyhow, all that to say that summer is here in the Pacific NW, and it’s going to be glorious and frenetic and exhausting and fun. 

What have you got planned?

Writing update

Summer will inevitably put a dent in my fiction writing productivity, but I do still have goals! I’m still drafting the sequel novella to Starfall, which is very close to being finished. It’ll be called Deviant Flux.

And I’m also working on a special Durga System short story (working title is Rogues), which will be available next month as part of a very cool giveaway. Keep your eyes peeled!

For your To-Be-Read list

Summer reading for me is all about books that completely absorb me. I tend to read a lot of thrillers and mysteries in summer for that reason, and it’s even more fun when I can find a sci-fi mystery!

I recently picked up Mur Lafferty’s Six Wakes on the virtue of the cover and tag line alone, and I’m so into it. Six criminal clones alone on a space ship, all woken at the same time to the grisly murder scene of their past bodies, a crime which they now have to solve? Yes, please!

You should also check out Alexis Radcliff’s A Vanishing Glow. Longtime newsletter readers may remember that Alexis and I launched our first books (A Vanishing Glow and Shifting Borders) together. It’s a dark fantasy with an excellent thread of mystery and great characters!

Six Wakes


by Mur Lafferty

In this Hugo nominated science fiction thriller by Mur Lafferty, a crew of clones awakens aboard a space ship to find they’re being hunted-and any one of them could be the killer.

Maria Arena awakens in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood. She has no memory of how she died. This is new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone, her first memory was of how she died.

Maria’s vat is one of seven, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Dormire, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it can awaken. And Maria isn’t the only one to die recently…

Find it on Amazon, Kobo, IndieBound

A Vanishing Glow


by Alexis Radcliff

The king is dying, and the fate of the realm rests in the hands of four people: A young, idealistic prince, a rugged soldier from the borderlands, an ingenious runaway inventor, and a mad, brilliant wizard who brought his magic-fueled machines to a world that was hardly ready for them.

Intrigue is rampant, and trust is in short supply…

When a brutal murder rocks the foundations of the kingdom, only one man has the skills to bring the killer to justice. With sword and musket in tow, he digs through the guts of the seedy underworld to find not only the assassin, but also the name of the smiling nobleman who ordered his friend’s death.

Find it on Amazon

How Do You Organize Your Books?

One of my first freelance writing clients was a company called Onefinestay, which is like Airbnb for fancy rich people. I loved seeing all the photos of these incredible homes I was writing about — but one thing always struck me as odd.

Their bookshelves.

They were so…. stylish. 

Organized by color and height, like the one above — rather than…. you know.

By book.

I’ve seen this trend pop up a few times in the last few months, which has gotten me wondering — is organizing your books by color normal? 

Part of me really loves the aesthetic. After all, that’s how I organize my thread:


And in the header image, the shelf is small enough that you’d still be able to find the book you wanted to read.

But on a larger scale? Like this huge bookshelf?

How do you find anything!

What do you think? Do you organize your books by color, author, genre, mood, or?

Let me know!

Writing update

In case you’re keeping score at home, I did finish the revision on the first full-length Durga System novel — which is why I have time to muse about the Proper Way of Sorting Books. It’s been sent off to the editor.

Next up? Drafting the sequel novella to Starfall, featuring Starla and her cousin Mona getting into space adventures. I just ordered the cover by the same designer who did Negative Return, and I’m so excited to share it with you when it’s ready!

For your To-Be-Read list

I just finished the most delightful YA book by Lila Bowen (Delilah S. Dawson’s pen name): Wake of Vultures. It’s a fantasy western about a young girl who dresses as a boy, landing a job as a cowhand and fighting monsters in the old West. 

So, basically my every childhood fantasy as a tomboyish farmgirl with a vivid imagination.

It was fast-paced and exciting, with gorgeous descriptions and fascinating characters. I’ve loved Delilah S. Dawson’s writing ever since I read her Star Wars novel, Phasma, and I was not disappointed here. 🙂

Since it’s Pride month, I figured I’d highlight Wake of Vultures and a couple other of my favorite sci fi/fantasy books with queer characters. The other two books below — Kameron Hurley’s The Stars are Legion and N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season — are both stunningly imaginative stories with incredibly deep worlds that are fascinating to explore.

If you haven’t picked up either of them, I highly recommend them.

(Want more book recommendations? Definitely check out this comprehensive list of LGBTQIAP Protagonists in Fantasy and Science Fiction from The Illustrated Page.)

Wake of Vultures


by Lila Bowen

Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She’s a half-breed who dresses like a boy, raised by folks who don’t call her a slave but use her like one. She knows of nothing else. That is, until the day a stranger attacks her. When nothing, not even a sickle to the eye can stop him, Nettie stabs him through the heart with a chunk of wood and he turns to black sand.

And just like that, Nettie can see.

But her newfound sight is a blessing and a curse. Even if she doesn’t understand what’s under her own skin, she can sense what everyone else is hiding—at least physically. The world is full of evil, and now she knows the source of all the sand in the desert. Haunted by the spirits, Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead her to find her true kin . . . if the monsters along the way don’t kill her first.

Find it on Amazon, Kobo, IndieBound

The Stars are Legion


by Kameron Hurley

Somewhere on the outer rim of the universe, a mass of decaying world-ships known as the Legion is traveling in the seams between the stars. For generations, a war for control of the Legion has been waged, with no clear resolution.  As worlds continue to die, a desperate plan is put into motion.

Zan wakes with no memory, prisoner of a people who say they are her family. She is told she is their salvation – the only person capable of boarding the Mokshi, a world-ship with the power to leave the Legion. But Zan’s new family is not the only one desperate to gain control of the prized ship. Zan finds that she must choose sides in a genocidal campaign that will take her from the edges of the Legion’s gravity well to the very belly of the world.

Zan will soon learn that she carries the seeds of the Legion’s destruction – and its possible salvation. But can she and her ragtag band of followers survive the horrors of the Legion and its people long enough to deliver it?

Find it on Amazon, Kobo, IndieBound

The Fifth Season


by N.K. Jemisin


This is the way the world ends…for the last time.

A season of endings has begun. 

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. 

It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. 

It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester. 

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy. 

Get it on AmazonKobo, IndieBound

Hello! It is I, someone who maybe can write words.

Last month, I typed “the end” on the next Durga System novel.

(Novel! Full length!)

I stood up, stretched, and thought, “Just a light polish and we’ll be good to go!”

Then I gave the manuscript to my husband and it came back looking like the snippet in the photo above.


Anyway, all that to say that this is a short (and late) email because I’m in revision prison for another few days. But rest assured, a new Durga System story is on it’s way — and it’s gonna be good! 

For your To-Be-Read list

The one thing I have been doing lately (besides screaming into the editing void) is reading. And I have some recommendations for you.

You’ll find some great indie sci-fi, but the first book, Exit West, is a literary novel. It’s on here because I finished it last night for this month’s book club, and I can’t get it out of my head. 

It’s the story of two refugees — but more than that it’s the story of home. I keep thinking about it; if you grant me a moment, I’ll try to explain why.

Two things you may not know about me:

  • I grew up in a family with strong, relatively recent roots in the Old Country (The Netherlands).
  • I also grew up on the Yakama Indian Reservation in Washington State, on land that my great grandparents — immigrants — bought from the Yakama tribe.

My whole life I’ve been aware of my family’s immigrant past, and very aware of our settler/colonist present. These two things together have always compelled me to think about what it means to be “from” a place.

I’m “from” the reservation, but not in the way my friends who are Native American are I’m “from” The Netherlands, but not in the way my cousins who grew up there are. I’m considered American, but I grew up with kids whose grandparents grew up with mine, and most of American society still calls them Mexican or Filipino or Japanese.

Exit West fascinated me because of the way it explores what it means to be “from” a place, and examines the beautiful and terrible ways we live together as a human race.

Who do we consider part of our tribe?
How do we find family?
How do we live in peace despite historic grievances?
How are we fundamentally alike despite our differences?

These have always been an underlying question in my books, too — I just tend to put more gunfights and aliens in than you’ll find in Exit West.

Anyway, for claiming this was going to be a short email I certainly did wax poetical.


By the way, what are you reading? I’ve gotten some awesome book recommendations from some of you over the past few months, and I love hearing what’s on your TBR list. 

Exit West: A Novel


by Mohsin Hamid

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . .

Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

Find it on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, IndieBound

The Legion and the Lioness


by R.D. Armstrong

They said I would never finish flight school. Never rank at the top of my class. Never fly with the top aces. Never return from combat against the Kelton androids. Never survive emergency surgery. 

Here I am.

The year is 2151, Earth is gone. A hellscape. I’ve been unfrozen after 72 years of cryosleep on a medical facility on Saturn’s moon, Titan. I have nothing, no home, no friends, no concept of this new world, these Titans.

All that remains is the old conflict that has blackened my veins and memories of the ones I loved still fresh in my heart. Forgotten for decades.

But it seems war hasn’t forgotten me, no, even in my slumber. My name is Captain Victoria Ann Belic, I was a wife and an ace fighter pilot, and have been revived for one reason—to die again.

Get on Amazon (free on Kindle Unlimited)

Hands of the Colossus


by Nicole Grotepas

Holly Drake just wants one thing: to destroy the Shadow Coalition and the evil at the heart of their business. With an endless supply of tips from the secretive man pulling her strings, Holly and her crew swoop in, break up the cash drops and steal the money. If one or two baddies die on accident, no big loss, right? They could do this forever, picking the Coalition apart till not even bones remain.

That is, until someone goes missing. In that moment, everything changes.  

To save the victim, Holly and her team will put everything on the line. Treacherous journeys across the 6-moon system in space-zeppelins, dangerous infiltrations of the Coalition, bartering with thieves and relying on the seedy underbelly of the 6-moons. Anything it takes. 

But…is the whole set up a trap? 

Get on Amazon (free in Kindle Unlimited)

Is it… Adventure Time?

Years ago when I worked at the Seattle Repertory Theater as a house manager, one of my coworkers (Hi Rachel!) gave me this card. 

It made me laugh a decade ago, and it still does now. That’s why it’s still pinned above my desk, eight-ish moves later.

I like going on adventures, and although I’m not sure I’d take a chance on Omaha with Paco the trapeze artist, I get a kick out of imagining just what Omaha-ian wonders he could show me. 

I guess that’s why I’m a writer. 

And I guess going on adventures is why we both (you and me, I mean — not sure about Paco) like reading.

While I continue cooking up the next book in the Durga System series, I have some other fantastic book adventures to share with you. 

But… first I have a question.

Would you go to Omaha with Paco?

Let me know.

For your To-Be-Read list

‘Tis the season for book sales, I guess! The following books are all on sale right now for $0.99 — making them a great deal if they strike your fancy!

Speaking of, the ebook of Starfall is also on sale for $0.99 at the moment. 

Maybe you already have a copy — but maybe you have a friend who’d be interested in checking it out?

Now’s a great time to share the love!

Here’s the Amazon link for Starfall.
Here’s the rest of the vendors.

The Other


by Marilyn Peake

“Aliens, UFOs, time travel…..what’s not to love!”

With alien sightings on the rise and a mysterious virus ravaging the places where the sightings occur, many are beginning to believe the unknown pathogen may be extraterrestrial. 

Psychology professor Dr. Cora Frost had a different theory: the bizarre symptoms were nothing more than mass hysteria. But while in the midst of field research on an alien-worshipping cult in Roswell, New Mexico, Cora makes a discovery that upends her entire worldview. In a shocking series of events, her past and future collide, forever changing her life.

Find it on Amazon
Find it on other retailers



by JJ Green

“One of those can’t-put-it-down-until-the-end reads.”

Jas Harrington was only a baby when a massive fire at a fledging Martian colony took the lives of everyone close to her. After growing up in institutions on Mars and Earth, Jas travels to Antarctica to train as a deep space security operative.

All she wants is to graduate college and fulfill her dreams, but it isn’t long before she faces familiar prejudice against returned colonists.

For once, fighting her way out of her problems isn’t an option, until it is.

Starbound is the prequel to the fast-paced, action-packed Shadows of the Void space opera serial.

Get on Amazon.