EMERGENCE Cover Reveal!

In a few more weeks, Emergence will be making its way onto reader’s Kindles (or hands, if they prefer print). I’ll also be sending copies off to advanced reviewers and my newsletter subscribers (hint: you can sign-up for that here) prior to the official release on May 4.

A little bit of time has passed between Convergence and this sequel, in both the real world and in my little DRMR bookverse, but Emergence is very much a continuation of the story begun in the prior novel. This is definitely a Read In Order kind of series. But, Emergence is also a little bit different than its predecessor – there’s lots more action, a good deal of technological horrors run amok, and a bit of a shake-up to the cast. Jonah Everitt was the main protag in Convergence, but his daughter, Mesa, is the central lead this time around.

In my own opinion, I think Emergence is a stronger work. I had so much fun writing this book, and I think (and hope!) that shines through. Mesa is a great character to write, and unfortunately we didn’t get to see too much of her last time around. Now, she’s right where she belongs and plays a much more integral role to the crazy shenanigans. This is her book, her story, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you haven’t checked out Convergence yet, you’ve got a couple weeks to get caught up. You can buy it here, or check it out for free if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member or have a free borrow available for this month via the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.

Onward with the show then. Directly below is the skinny of Emergence, and then the cover art! Scroll on down!

About Emergence

Still recovering from the events that befell her in Los Angeles, Mesa Everitt is learning how to rebuild her life.

The murder of a memorialist enclave changes all of that and sets into motion a series of violence that forces her into hiding.

Hunted by a squad of corporate mercenaries, with the lives of her friends and family in danger, Mesa has no one to turn to, but she holds a dark secret inside her skull. She has no knowledge of that secret, but it is worth killing for.

The ghosts of her haunted, forgotten past are about to emerge.

Emergence-800 Cover reveal and Promotional

Any accolades for the cover are due entirely to Glendon Haddix at Streetlight Graphics for the wonderful design.

The first order of business was to keep the cover in line with what had come before, and to help define a sort of branding look for this still-young DRMR series, but to also give it a different spin and a certain freshness. Mission accomplished, I think, and I absolutely love the look and feel of the art here.

What say you, keen readers? Feel free to share your thoughts below!

EMERGENCE Cover Reveal!

Review: Hugh Howey Lives by Daniel Arthur Smith

hughhoweylivesAbout Hugh Howey Lives

In 2174 authors are obsolete. With the exception of a few human ‘Author’ titles printed in the small basement and back room Libraries, all stories are created by the Artificial Intelligence of the Archive. Most believe the ‘Authors’ are only brands to lure people into spending their credits on print. One woman believes that one of them, author Hugh Howey, is real, and still alive. Her Librarian feeds her belief that Hugh Howey is still sailing around the world, uploading his work to the Archive. Convinced she has found clues in his stories as to where he now resides, she and her girlfriend sail to an island, where she believes Hugh Howey lives.


About the Author

Daniel Arthur Smith is the author of the international bestsellers THE CATHARI TREASURE, THE SOMALI DECEPTION, and a few other novels and short stories.

He was raised in Michigan and graduated from Western Michigan University where he studied philosophy, with focus on cognitive science, meta-physics, and comparative religion. He began his career as a bartender, barista, poetry house proprietor, teacher, and then became a technologist and futurist for the Fortune 100 across the Americas and Europe.

Daniel has traveled to over 300 cities in 22 countries, residing in Los Angeles, Kalamazoo, Prague, Crete, and now writes in Manhattan where he lives with his wife and young sons.

For more information, visit danielarthursmith.com

Readers who subscribe to Daniel’s newsletter receive a FREE SHORT STORY and free copies of his books, usually before they are published: danielarthursmith.com/newsletter


My Thoughts

[Note: I received an ARC of this title from the author for review.]

Hugh Howey Lives is the first title I’ve read by Daniel Arthur Smith, and I was greatly impressed with the sci-fi concepts at play here. Readers will get treated to human synthetics, bioinformatics, and a good dose of light philosophy, but the real draw here, and what kept me engaged the most, was the tremendous breadth of heart that went into the work.

Yes, the book is an ode to indie publishing’s biggest success and the author of the wildly popular Wool series. For indie authors, Howey’s name has a certain cache to it, and the man has proven himself to be a tremendous writer in his own right, in addition to helping popularize ebooks and the author-publisher landscape into forces to be reckoned with. But Hugh Howey Lives is also a heck of a lot more than a simple homage to a single particular author, and really Smith could have picked any novelist to grace his book’s pages and come up with a story equally solid and compelling.

While Howey’s name is checked numerous times throughout, the real meat of the story is about authors and writing in general, and the true ode here goes to the wordsmiths and literary artists who create the books we love so very much. There’s plenty of wonderfully developed themes to munch on here – from the process of creation and the God-like abilities authors possess in their world-building, to the books and authors that shape and inspire other writer’s, and the balance between creating art and sacrificing ourselves for that necessary good, right down to immortality itself.

Hugh Howey Lives is a short book, a bit over a hundred pages or so, but Smith packs an awful lot of depth into it and kept me riveted throughout. There’s a few surprises in store for readers here, which I refuse to spoil, but I will warn you: you may want to keep the Kleenex handy for the finale, just in case.

Buy Hugh Howey Lives At Amazon
Review: Hugh Howey Lives by Daniel Arthur Smith

Review: Apocalypse Weird: Medium Talent (The Dead Keys Book 1) by Forbes West

AW-Medium TalentAbout Medium Talent

Three years after the great storm destroyed the planet, three years after the demonic undead rose up to hunt the survivors, Wendy Wicker scavenges and steals in the deadly ruins of Florida to keep her adopted family alive. In a post-apocalyptic Key West that is plagued by hunger and ruled by an amoral bureaucracy, a life of crime is the only way to live.

After Wendy betrays a couple of passengers she was to take north on board her fishing boat, her life takes an strange turn and she must confront some dark secrets as to what really happened the night the world ended, while surviving the monstrous creatures that infest the waters around her hometown and the never ending threat of an evil woman that cannot die…

An homage to Ernest Hemingway’s To Have or Have Not and George Romero’s Living Dead series of films, let Apocalypse Weird take you on a fast paced voyage through the dead Florida Keys and into an violent noir tale filled with time travel, black magic, suppressed memories and what life is really like after the end of the world.


About the Author

Forbes West was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Political Science from California State University, Long Beach. He currently lives and works mostly in San Francisco, CA and owns a home in Ojima, Japan- a village five hours south of Tokyo by car that is in the foothills of Mt. Fuji.


My Thoughts

[Note: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this title from the author for review.]

We join this apocalypse already in progress.

It’s been several years since a massive storm decimated the world. The undead are roaming Florida, and abominations inhabit the sea. The government has largely fallen, with refugee districts under the charge of the Supply Org, a welfare agency turned gangster. At the heart of it all is smuggler Wendy Wicker, captain of the Medium Talent, who finds herself on the wrong side of Hoxhaist revolutionaries.

Forbes West does a stand-up job of bringing the muggy, heated atmosphere of the Florida Keys to life in this ninth entry to the Apocalypse Weird continuum, and you can practically feel the briny sea on your skin while reading. There’s a certain freshness to West’s take on the AW tropes, and a few surprises, too, which makes this a great addition to the developing Weird mythos.

By jumping forward into a post-apocalyptic setting, West is able to give us some characters who have grown world-weary by the disasters plaguing the world. They’re crusty, battle-scarred survivors who’ve seen it all and then some. This spares us a retread on already well-covered familiar territory, like the Day of Blindness or the anticipatory build-up of a new world-ender. All that has come and gone, and we’re plunked down right into the thick of things.

There’s a wonderfully noir-ish feel to the story as well, and Wendy Wicker is a truly interesting character in her own right. She’s lost her husband, is detached from her current family, and half-mad from all she’s been through. She’s the type of gal who dances a jig after getting the draw on a thug who wants her dead, and then gets sloshed at the bar.

In addition to giving the Keys a dystopic, lived-in familiarity, populated by intriguing personalities, West also puts a terrific spin on another AW staple: the demonic 88 and their Black Hand. It’s a wonderfully nifty spin that’s a far cry from prior representations of these roguish villains.

It’s Forbes West’s ability to take the established conceits of the Apocalypse Weird series and twist them upside down and over around on itself again that was the most appreciated feature of Medium Talent. The story and situations are a cool breeze of fresh air after several introductory tales that overlapped a lot of familiar territory. In Medium Talent, the familiar is kept far off in the background, but still draws enough threads to connect with all that’s come before. It also helps expand on the building mythology that runs through the backbone of the AW books, while forging ahead with its own unique charter. West gives us an intriguing spin on what’s expected of an Apocalypse Weird book, while dragging in plenty of strange details to keep the pages turning.

Buy Medium Talent At Amazon
Review: Apocalypse Weird: Medium Talent (The Dead Keys Book 1) by Forbes West

Review: Brother, Frankenstein by Michael Bunker

Brother FrankensteinAbout Brother, Frankenstein

April 29, 2015

A borderline sociopath and technological genius, Dr. Alexander has designed an advanced cybernetic life form from prototype decommissioned military drones and top-secret experimental DARPA technology.

The HADroid was supposed to be a military grade robot with the transplanted heart and brain of a human donor that would “transform” into a devastating state of the art war machine when activated by its onboard human operator. But when the mad doctor steals the dying child of a simple Amish couple and transplants the brain and cardiovascular system of their dying eleven year old autistic son into the incredibly lethal robot the dark forces of government come looking for their investment.

Dr. Alexander and the monster escape into another Amish community to hide among the plain folk while Frank, the autistic eleven year old boy trapped inside the body of the world’s most deadly robot, befriends another child who will help the prisoner inside the machine to leave the world of autism and understand what it means to be human and Amish. But tensions arise among the plain and pacifistic yet closed minded Amish as they begin to suspect just what kind of technological monstrosity is hiding among them, and before long hard men who do the government’s most dirty deeds will come looking for a killing machine only to find a boy named Frank who has the power to defend a closed society from the worst of the world.


About the Author

Michael Bunker is a USA Today Bestselling author, off-gridder, husband, and father of four children. He lives with his family in a “plain” community in Central Texas, where he reads and writes books…and occasionally tilts at windmills.

Readers who subscribe to Michael’s newsletter get free copies of his books, usually before they’re published: http://michaelbunker.com/newsletter


My Thoughts

[Note: I received an advanced reader’s copy from the author for review.]

From the moment I saw Ben Adams‘ wonderful cover art design, I knew that Brother, Frankenstein was a novel that I absolutely had to read. And that the book itself was by Michael Bunker, an indie smash success and author of the best-selling Pennsylvania, sweetened the deal. Now, mind you, I’ve not read a full-fledged Bunker book previously; the closest I’d gotten was his collaboration with Nick Cole for Apocalypse Weird, but Pennsylvania has been sitting on my Kindle for a while now and he’s got some strong authorial cred behind him. Brother, Frankenstein seemed like as good a place as any to start.

The short of it is, this is a killer read, brother. If Witness by way of Robocop (the original, not the tepid remake), with a dash of Transformers mixed in sounds like a good way to spend a few hours, then you’re in for a treat. If it doesn’t, then, man, what the heck is wrong with you? (Joking! Maybe.)

Narrated in, largely, first-person POV by a narcissistic doctor who runs a pro bono clinic for the Amish, while working on biotech research for DARPA, we’re introduced to Frank. Frank is an 11-year-old autistic boy with barely a year left to live. Dr. Alexander, meanwhile, is working on an advanced cybernetic weapon for the government – cue your shades of Robocop here. Frank is like kin to him, so he transplants the boy’s heart and brain into the machine, which looks human enough but can transform into a massive, unstoppable ten-foot tall killing machine.

Just as the operation finishes, DARPA yanks their funding and Alexander finds himself in an impossible position, refusing to kill the boy whose life he just saved. He does the only thing he can and goes on the run with Frank, hiding in an Amish community where the boy can feel safe, even while both are being hunted by merciless government agents.

While there’s plenty of strong action, and an explosive finale that would make Michael Bay proud, Bunker really nails it on the human element and the strong familial bond that grows between Frank and his doctor. Both are set on a highly emotional journey that sees them breaking out of their shells and learning more about the very different worlds they share and inhabit. It’s tremendous fun to see how both influence one another and develop in their respective, and occasionally shifting, roles.

Michael Bunker has been dubbed the father of Amish Science Fiction, a genre mash-up that seems like one big oxymoron, but it works pretty damn well. Brother, Frankenstein is clearly a passion project for Bunker, and it deserves to find a strong and loyal audience, maybe even one to rival Pennsylvania. There’s certainly no dearth of action and thrills, and the technology is cutting edge, but it’s that thin line where these things of the modern world butt up against the plain-folk community and the ensuing culture clash that’s the most interesting and suspenseful. Highly recommended.

Buy Brother, Frankenstein At Amazon
Review: Brother, Frankenstein by Michael Bunker

SciFriday: Short Films

There’s been a couple nifty, buzz-worthy science fiction shorts making their rounds on the Internet of late thanks to pending film deals. First up is Sundays, which has been picked up for the big-screen treatment by Warner Bros. in a bidding auction. Not too bad for first-time filmmaker Mischa Rozema. It’s visually impressive and if the right writer can be found, should make for one heck of a cinematic journey.

Neil Blomkamp and Simon Kinberg have picked up Leviathan, with the script by Fight Club screenwriter Jim Uhls, to be based on a proof of concept trailer created by Ruairi Robinson. The short film, a Vimeo Staff Pick, has a bit of an alien Moby Dick vibe to it, and could make for a terrific silver-screen spectacle.

SciFriday: Short Films

Making 2015 BIG!

One of my big life goal’s was to become a published author before I hit 35. In Feb. 2014 (at the age of 34 – that self-imposed deadline was looming large!), I released Convergence as a creator-owned production after it hit the quarter-finals in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest in 2013 and won acclaim from none other than Publisher’s Weekly. This was easily one of the seminal moments in my life, and I knew better than to rest on my laurels. I put out a short horror story in October called Consumption, which advanced readers responded kindly to, but which hasn’t exactly set the world on fire or found the readership I had hoped for.

Somewhere in between, I’d begun e-mailing back and forth with Lucas Bale, also a new name to the indie sci-fi scene, and we and a few others formed a sort-of writer’s club (dare I call it an Author’s Guild?) where, in addition to being a bit of a support network, we talked of releasing an anthology, which became the No Way Home collection of short stories.

I knew that 2015 was going to be a big year for me. There are certain road-markers that I had envisioned for this year, but even I’m surprised at just how big 2015 is looking, both professionally and personally.

The real big news, and a true surprise for my wife and I, is that we are expecting our first child in September! Talk about burying the lede, huh? We’ve been trying for a few years, and after two miscarriages and no luck with IVF…well, this pregnancy kind of took us off guard. The first trimester is now past us, and we’ve got a ton of work ahead of us to make our home ready for baby Hicks. Lots of planning to do, lots of money to save, and lots of decisions to make. But jeez, can I just tell you how freaking excited I am? I recently got to see our little jellybean in action at a recent ultrasound, where it was jumping around and sucking its thumb. (By the way, I say “it” not to be a detached, callous sounding asshole, but because we’re not really sure what other pronoun to use as we won’t know the gender until maybe the May time-frame.) Easily a seminal moment in my life, even more-so than publishing Convergence!

On the professional side of things, I knew that 2015 would bring about not only the release of No Way Home, but also my upcoming solo release of Emergence, the follow-up to my debut. (Pro-tip: sign up for my newsletter and get early access to Emergence for free before it goes on sale!) So, there’s two titles for the year. I had two titles out in 2014, so how is 2015 bigger and better?

How about the addition of a second anthology? Since Lucas spilled the beans on this a short while ago, I feel safe in discussing it here. This collection will be bound by the theme of crime and punishment, and we’ll be dragging a new author in with us by the name of Ceinwen Langley. We’re aiming for an August 2015 release, and I’ll be giving my contribution some polishing work after I wrap up proof-reads for Emergence. For those of you that may have been turned off by the highly unsubtle political nature of Revolver in No Way Home, you’ll be happy to hear that I’m off that kick for now. Instead of leftist dystopian and gender-rights issues, you can instead expect aliens, gore, and a dash of near-future, old-fashioned, weird Wild West. It’s a bit of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi, western horror mash-up that I really enjoyed writing, and I hope that readers of Convergence and Consumption will find lots to enjoy.

If No Way Home is any indication, our next anthology will be an even bigger hit. I was truly caught off guard at the success of our first anthology, and have been delighted by the responses from readers. There’s a lot of love for this book, and we all did our damnedest to make sure it was a solid and compelling read. It’s been sitting at the top of the charts in Amazon’s Hot New Releases for Sci-Fi Anthologies, peaking at the #1 spot and is currently #3. We’ve also spent all of March in the Top 20 for Sci-Fi anthologies (currently #15). We are very eager to get the second anthology out soon, so expect to hear lots of news on this one in the coming months.

There’s the current plans for 2015 then. Embracing fatherhood, and potentially going overboard with the spoiling of our little one (by the way, I totally want to build this sandbox. Poke around this really cool site run by Ana White while you’re there. So many awesome ideas!) One solo novel and short stories appearing in two anthologies. And then there’s that third anthology I need to get prepared for, which is all about….oh, you’ll have to wait and see. But I’ll tell you this right now, 2016 is looking pretty darn good, too!

Making 2015 BIG!

Review: Apocalypse Weird: Phoenix Lights (Alien Weird Book 1) by Eric Tozzi

PhoenixLights_FT_FINALAbout Phoenix Lights

March 20, 2015

The Aliens Have Come to End the World…

On March 13, 1997, the incident now known as the Phoenix Lights left thousands of witnesses at a loss to explain the sudden appearance of the massive V-shaped craft that hovered in the skies above Phoenix that day.

Now, eighteen years later, the Vs have returned. Bargains will be made with an intelligence beyond our grasp deep within a super-secret government blacksite. Can a crew of TV UFO Busters find out the truth about the visitors or are they going to get far more than they ever bargained for? Whereas once they were blind, now they will see.

Welcome to the invasion.

Welcome to the Apocalypse Weird.


About the Author

Eric Tozzi primarily writes science fiction, a genre especially close to his heart. For over five years he worked for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a documentary film producer and editor, covering Mars Exploration (go ahead, ask him if he’s a rocket scientist). Getting an up close, behind-the-scenes look at planetary exploration gave him great inspiration for my debut novel, The Scout.

The iconic science-fiction writer, Ray Bradbury, was a personal source of encouragement to Eric. Having directed an award-winning short film based on the story, “Kaleidoscope,” from his book, The Illustrated Man, Eric had the opportunity to spend time with Ray before he passed away. Ray’s passion for writing and space exploration fueled him to the finish line on my debut novel, The Scout.

To learn more about Eric’s work as a filmmaker, visit his website: www.erictozzi.com


My Thoughts

[Note: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book for review.]

Phoenix Lights is the eighth release under the Apocalypse Weird banner, and easily my favorite of the bunch so far. Each AW author has tackled a regional apocalypse in their own strange fashion, with gamut of creature features running from zombies to demonic gods and goddesses, black magic, and freak weather. Eric Tozzi’s turn at the wheel guides our attention to Phoenix, Arizona and a cataclysmic alien invasion.

Given the pattern of prior Apocalypse Weird books, I was curious how in the heck aliens were going to figure into the overall map of global end-times, and the simple answer is that it does so awesomely. Tossing extraterrestrial invaders into the mix is a really fun and lively way to shake up expectations and provides a fresh take on wicked disasters befalling the human race.

And while the alien stuff is terrific, it would mostly be superfluous fluff without a strong human component at its center. Thankfully, Tozzi has those bases covered with an estranged brother and sister forced to work together while everything around them is turned to cinders. Gage is a contractor for a secret military facility – think Area 51 and you’re on the right track – while his sister, Kristina, works on the opposite end of things as the host of a reality series called UFO Busters, which tries to expose the government cover-ups surrounding extraterrestrial life. When we first meet her and her crew, they are attempting to break into the lab where Gage works. They’re forced together during the violently invasive first-contact scenario that puts them on the run for their lives and band together during the twenty-four hours of blindness that has greeted each apocalyptic scenario of the AW ‘verse. Then there’s Alice, a blind musician who is granted the gift of sight for a brief period, while the rest of the world’s populace are forced to endure their isolated darkness.

Almost directly from the beginning, Tozzi thrusts us into the action, and once all the pieces are in place and the game-board is upended, he just does not let up. Phoenix Lights is a hyper-kinetic, fast-paced read infused with moments of light horror and terrific action. The climax is an epic twist that not only promises more strange adventures for this volume’s survivors, but which also makes this an indispensable addition to the developing AW lore. Apocalypse Weird fans will no doubt be mighty happy with this installment, and for those who haven’t gotten into this line of stories yet, this is a terrific place to start.

Buy Phoenix Lights At Amazon
Review: Apocalypse Weird: Phoenix Lights (Alien Weird Book 1) by Eric Tozzi