It’s Spring!

It’s finally officially nice here, after one last miserable stretch of cold and gloomy weather, and my husband and I spent the weekend landscaping our yard.

(That’s us with a Subaru filled with trees and flowers, above.)

As is the way of landscaping projects, what we thought would take three days actually took five — but we’re done! Sore and full of blisters, but done.

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(Left: Optimistic Jessie on Day 1. Right: FINISHED!! Not pictured, exhausted Jessie and Robert.)

It was a nice change of pace, actually.

For the past few months, every spare moment has been spent in front of my laptop, trying to make a slurry of words, characters, plot twists, and themes fit together into a cohesive whole.

(Not unlike laying a bunch of flagstones, now that I think about it. Move one element, and the whole %#*$& thing has to be reworked.)

But last Wednesday, I finished up the next novel in the Durga System series! Unlike the novellas Starfall and Negative Return, this will be the first in a trilogy of serial full-length novels featuring Jaantzen and his crew — and some very thrilling happenings. 

I’m excited to share it with you! The tentative release date is October, but if you want to read it sooner and leave a review, give me a shout and I’ll add you to the Advance Reader Crew. 
 

Story Hour with Jessie and Friends

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I had a reading at a local Portland pub. I’m generally pretty hesitant to get up in front of crowds, but I managed to work through the butterflies and have a great time!

So much fun that I think I’ll even do it again some time. Stay tuned. 

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(Photo by author/filmmaker Kelley Baker.)



For your To-Be-Read list

I hope you’re in the mood for a good book, because I have several fantastic recommendations this week! Read on, friends, read on. 


Refuge

refuge

by Gerhard Gehrke

“The more of this book I read, the harder it was to put down.”

Sometime during their thousand-year voyage, the invaders perished.

But their slaves, the minders, survived to finish the journey to Earth. 

Deanne doesn’t believe any of the news about visiting aliens. She’s a felon serving time in a California youth detention center. 

As the lights go out and the world falls down around Deanne and her fellow inmates, she discovers something that might hold the key to their survival. Saving Earth will mean risking not only her life, but what makes her human…

Find it on Amazon


Insurrection: The Complete Omnibus

insurrection

by Anela Deen

“I raced through this story so fast my Kindle squealed.”

*On sale for $0.99 through May 5th!

For twenty years Inquisitor Gemson Agaton used torture and interrogation to root out subversives undermining the Establishment. Now he’s on the subject’s side of the interrogation table, duty to the regime he believes in pitted against loyalty to the one person he always protected.

And Gemson isn’t the only target on the Establishment’s radar. As Earth’s citizens rally to resist the regime’s dictatorial rule, many are listening, including one of the Establishment’s most talented operatives. To find and betray him is her directive. To fall in love with him is treason.

Get on Amazon.


A Conspiracy of Rogues

cons-of-rogues

by Jonathan Burgess

“The Blackscale gang is absolute hoot! I can hardly wait to read the next one.”

There’s never been a scam like the city of Abattra. People are drawn to it by the promise of riches and a chance to start over, but the only ones prospering are the Resplendent oligarchs.

The young dragon Greasetrap is looking to change that. Raised to be a thief in the Blackscale crew, he’s in town alongside his siblings to steal a fortune. With the help of a street-savvy fighter they intend to rob the oligarchs of the city for the first time in history. But Greasetrap isn’t the only one with a scheme, and soon he’ll find himself up against a sorcerer’s vicious criminal gang.

Because the vault everyone wants to break into hides more than just gold—it holds the key to an ancient secret held dear by the most powerful Resplendents in Abattra.

Both books released this week! Get them on Amazon.

Sowing words, reaping books

A few months back I agreed to run a St. Patricks Day 5k with a friend because I was drinking very strong IPAs and therefore more susceptible to making fast-and-loose decisions. 

A 5k? Never done one!

Sounds fun! Let’s do it! Cheers!

(Don’t make lasting decisions while drinking, kids.)

Fast forward to last week, when I remembered I agreed to run a 5k this Sunday, and decided I should start, well, running again. 

Fortunately, it’s actually a nice time of year to go for a run around these parts. Everyone’s yards are in bloom, cherry blossoms are scattered over the sidewalks, and people aren’t idling their engines while they warm up their cars anymore (cough cough).

I don’t like to listen to headphones when I’m running — I actually find it’s a great time to work out knotty plot problems. This means I often rush to my laptop as soon as I get home to type out a new scene or story idea. 

Running and writing can both be kind of a drag. But that rush of dopamine when you’ve finished a run, or wrapped up a killer scene? 

Priceless.

And so, one run at a time — one scene at a time — the next Durga System book is getting close to completion. 

Stay tuned.
 


For your To-Be-Read list

I’ve been traveling a lot lately, which has put me in the a good travel narrative. Fortunately, I had Anthony St. Clair’s Forever the Road sitting in my TBR pile. An immersive tale of backpacking adventurers in an alternative, magical Earth, this book is truly a delight! It’s especially fun if you like good beer — Anthony is a local (Oregon) beer writer, and definitely knows his stuff. 

Your next recommendation is a bit different: a podcast! Ink to Film is a podcast by author Luke Elliott and filmmaker James Bailey, and combines both their talents to discuss sci-fi and fantasy books that have been adapted for film. They’ve most recently covered new releases A Wrinkle in Time, Annihilation, and Netflix series Altered Carbon, along with many classic film adaptations. 

Cover photo by Dileep Kuriyedath on Unsplash


Forever The Road

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by Anthony St. Clair

Their entwined fate becomes his impossible choice.

A strange eclipse looms above India’s city of the smiling fire. When an ancient evil awakens, the world teeters on a razor’s edge of life and annihilation. 

Rootless globetrotter Jay wanted Agamuskara to be just another place he visited, but the strange object in his backpack has other ideas. In the global secret order of Jakes and Jades, destiny-changing Jade Agamuskara Bluegold stands above the rest, all the while keeping up appearances as the humble proprietor of the Everest Base Camp Pub & Hostel. However, she struggles to untangle the terrible future she foresees and to ignore her doubts about her past choices. 

Find it everywhere!


Ink to Film Podcast

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with Luke Elliott and James Bailey

The Ink to Film Podcast is the brainchild of writer Luke Elliott and filmmaker James Bailey. In it, we go first to the source material, read, discuss, and appreciate it before moving on to the subsequent film adaptation. Once we watch, we react to the movie based on its own merit, then compare and contrast it to the source text. We hope that it will provide a comprehensive experience for the passionate fans out there, and an easy access point for the curious.

Whether you’ve read the book or not, we think there will still be plenty for you to enjoy with our conversation. 

Website.

In praise of reading under the covers

When I was a kid I used to stay up all night reading — totally the stereotypical thing with a flashlight under the covers, devouring Madeleine L’Engle and Ursula Leguin and Nancy Drew and, well, anything I could get my hands on.

Last night I had flashbacks of childhood as I devoured Paula Hawkings’ Into the Water. I kept turning pages hours after my husband was sound asleep, unable to put the book down until the very last page.

It was awesome.

If you like thrillers and are looking for your next late night read, I highly recommend it. 

If you prefer thrillers in space, I’ve got a sci-fi recommendation for you today! Waypoint Kangaroo is a delightful debut spy novel by fellow Portland author Curtis Chen. (I think you’ll especially like it if you enjoyed the wry humor in my book Negative Return).


Into the Water

Into the water

by Paula Hawkins

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

Find it at Amazon, Powell’s, IndieBound


Waypoint Kangaroo

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by Curtis Chen

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?

Find it wherever books are sold: Amazon, Powell’s, IndieBound   

Cover Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Happy January from Oregon!

It’s been ridiculously nice here, especially compared to last winter’s snowmageddon. (We got 10 inches overnight at one point, which stayed on the streets for the next week since Portland has no snow plows.)

So nice, in fact, that we’ve been out hiking.

The header photo is from a trip to the Painted Hills that my husband and I took over the weekend. Eastern Oregon is stunningly beautiful desert, a landscape that’s close to my heart.

I loved hiking through the juniper-and-sagebrush forests and driving through canyons slashed through with blue, green, red, yellow, and white.

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(The Clarno Palisades at the John Day Fossil Beds.)

I love the desert. 

It’s inspired some of my favorite settings, including the desert planet New Sarjun in the Durga System series, the country of Laja Cian in the fantasy series I’m plugging away at, and the apocalyptic Southwest of the dystopian romance novel series that… will get done some day. 🙂

While I’m not out hiking or hunkered down writing the next Durga System book, I’ve been reading — and I’ve got some great recommendations this month!


For your To-Be-Read list

My book recommendations this month are both by local Portland authors. 

Erik Wecks’s Gravlander is the latest installment in the Pax Imperium series, but it works perfectly well as a stand-alone book. It’s a fantastic coming-of-age story in a fascinating sci-fi world — a good blend of character-focused adventure. 

Jason LaPier’s Unexpected Rain is the first in his Dome trilogy (it’s complete), an engaging mystery with a cool sci-fi twist. Plus, I can’t get over how great the name is! 


Gravlander

gravlander

by Erik Wecks

Nineteen-year-old Josephine Lutnear is just months away from becoming the youngest fleet surgeon in history.

And she’s miserable.

As a young girl, Jo watched the Unity Corporation murder her family and barely escaped the moon Aetna’s destruction. Eight years later, the Unity started a war that left Jo running for her life. Alone aboard a hidden rebel fleet, she grew up studying the only academic course open to her: medicine.

The terms of Jo’s life have always been dictated by events beyond her control. Just once, she would like to make a choice all her own.

So when a band of genetic outcasts needs a doctor to cure a deadly plague, Josephine eagerly volunteers. But she will soon discover that the Timcree’s culture won’t accept help from a Gravlander like her. 
As her choices are once again taken away, Jo will stumble toward the truth—that she will never find purpose until she faces her past.

Find it on Amazon


Unexpected Rain

rain

by Jason LaPier

In a domed city on a planet orbiting Barnard’s Star, a recently hired maintenance man has just committed murder.

Minutes later, the airlocks on the neighbourhood block are opened and the murderer is asphyxiated along with thirty-one innocent residents.

Jax, the lowly dome operator on duty at the time, is accused of mass homicide and faced with a mound of impossible evidence against him.

His only ally is Runstom, the rogue police officer charged with transporting him to a secure off-world facility. The pair must risk everything to prove Jax didn’t commit the atrocity and uncover the truth before they both wind up dead.

Get on Amazon.
Get it Elsewhere.

Fall News and Book Deals!

Hi friends! 

The weather has taken a sudden and decisive turn over the weekend from “yay, last days of summer” to “cold and dreary rain.” But Oregon has desperately needed rain for weeks, so I’m certainly not going to complain. Here’s hoping it helps contain some of the many wildfires that are burning across our state. 

Cold, drizzly weather puts me in the perfect mood for curling up with a good story — whether it’s reading one, or writing my own. After a super busy summer, I’m looking forward to a fall and winter full of reading and writing. 

I have a couple of great book recommendations for you this month, but first, some announcements:
 

Come meet me at Geek Girl Con!

I’ll be signing books at Geek Girl Con in Seattle, from 4-5pm on September 30th. Come by the Razorgirl Press booth (the publishers of my first novel) — I’d love to meet you! We’ll have books for sale, or you can bring your own. 😉
 

Print and audio now available

I’ve been hearing good things from readers about my newest short story collection, Business as Usual: Corporate Notes from the Zombie Apocalypse. It’s now available in paperback, in a lovely slim edition that would make a great gift for your boss or coworkers… 🙂

Negative Return’s audio book is also starting to get good reviews. If you buy the Kindle version you can add on Audible narration for just $5.99! 
 


For your To-Be-Read list

Both these books will draw you in to absorbing epic fantasy worlds inspired by South Asian culture and mythology, and take your breath away with lyrical, page-turning prose.  

JS Bangs’ Powers of Amur series is incredibly rich and well-thought-out. It follows the stories of several main characters through the course of six books, weaving them deftly together for a truly satisfying conclusion. That’s praise I rarely give to a series! But don’t worry — Heir of Iron stands perfectly well on its own.

The Hundredth Queen melds an unputdownable (it’s a word now, folks) story line with a cast of intriguing characters. I’ll be the first to admit I sometimes roll my eyes at romantic subplots in books with young protagonists, but I was hooked on this one right away. Plus, The Hundredth Queen is currently on special for only $1.99 as an ebook!


Heir of Iron

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by J.S. Bangs

Mandhi has spent years looking for her lost brother Navran. Their ailing father is near death, and Navran must inherit the title of Heir of Manjur, the descendant of an ancient king and leader of a secret religious sect. More importantly, if Navran returns then Mandhi won’t be forced to marry to provide an heir, and will be free to elope with her bodyguard.

But the Navran she finds is not the man she was hoping for. He’s a drunkard and a gambler, and he has no interest in his religious duties. Mandhi attempts to reform him—but her efforts are interrupted when agents of the Emperor kidnap Navran. Mandhi must find a way to free her brother and remain with her lover, and what she sets in motion will shake the foundations of the Empire.

Find it on Amazon


The Hundredth Queen

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by Emily R. King

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood in the ancient Tarachand Empire, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.

Get it on sale on Amazon.