Monday, 23 December 2013

Revealed - The cover for my forthcoming novel, Warrior.

The search for the merchant's daughter continues as Culainn crosses the mountains into the frozen north... home, to face his past and the many demons he left behind.

Striking a bargain with the witch-queen, Neeve, he agrees to fight her enemies, the Shadow Druids and Blue-Woads, in return for her aid in freeing the girl he seeks. Will she keep her word, or has she treachery in mind?

All the while, the dark god, Morrigu, continues to haunt Culainn's dreams, seeking to control him and make him her own champion.
Warrior is the second book in my epic fantasy series, Tribesman. If you want to get caught up you can buy Tribesman here.


Thursday, 5 December 2013

 Deep under the ocean, Simeon Escher, protégé to the leader of the order of Loth Lörion, finds himself an unexpected guest aboard the submersible, Narwhal. Home to a crew of humans, and strange mer-folk few people are aware exist, Simeon is swept up in their quest to find a world within a world, a possible safe haven from the insidious reach of the Kabbalah. Yet how can he think about his mission when the captain's niece fills his every thought, distracting him from all that’s important to him, including his own fiancée.

Today I am throwing the spotlight on Encante, a steampunk novella from the pen of Aiyana Jackson.

Encante is the first in a new Steampunk series, set in a multiverse known as The Fifteen Solars. For those of you who don’t know what a multiverse is, put simply it is a Universe in which there are several worlds existing in the same point in space and time, but they run parallel to each other. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is probably the most well recognised example. The Fifteen Solars is so named due to the fact there are fifteen planets existing in parallel, each very different from the next, but all connected. The inhabitants of these worlds have not yet mastered space travel, and so for the most part the adventure is contained to their own respective worlds. They do however have the means to travel from one parallel world to the next and, consequently, the events and politics of all fifteen planets have become intertwined. As the series unfolds however it will become clear that there is far more at work, and the reasons for these worlds existing as they do is much more complex than simple happenstance.

Encante serves as an introduction to one of these parallel worlds, as well as offering more than a few hints as to what is happening in the wider multiverse, and how the series will unfold. It is a self-contained story in the most traditional Steampunk style, heavily inspired by Jules Vernes’ 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, it is a blending of mermaid folk-lore, Victorian-esque costume values, and the technological quirks that make the Steampunk genre so beloved. It is a tale of romance, of adventure, and of prejudicial values in a seemingly idyllic society. Some of the characters will recur in later books in the series.

There are currently three additional novellas planned to follow Encante, two to be released in 2014, the final to follow in 2015. There will also be at least one full length novel following these. The second novella, Honour, is currently slated for release at the end of March next year, and while the additional two novellas are as yet untitled, I can reveal that the novel shall be titled Soul of Avarice.

‘“I have trouble sleeping,” he told me, as if by way of explanation. If he was in any way drunk, his words showed no sign of it. “I come here for the ambiance.”

I glanced around us. “I can well understand why. I’m afraid I was having a similar problem. Forgive me; I should not be wandering the ship alone.”

“And why not?” he asked. “You are our guest; if you see fit to wander the ship alone at night, I say let you. Wander wherever you choose.” He laughed as if something were painfully amusing, and I wondered if perhaps he was a little tipsy after all. “I’ll say nothing to stop you,” he assured me. “Hell, I’ll encourage you.” He leant closer to me. “I’d even suggest you try the places I couldn’t show you earlier.”

“So there were areas you kept hidden.”

Axel snorted. “Areas? People more like. My uncle is concerned you will not understand the . . . racial demographics of our society.”
“You mean the encante?” He nodded. “There is more to your relationship with them than Everett would have me believe, that much is plain. It has been obvious since I arrived, if for no other reason than this is my fourth visit to Idele, and I have never before seen one of them. I have never even heard mention of their race, on this world or any other. They are of a lower class?”
“Class?” Axel exclaimed. “Franklin Garrett is of a lower class; Bridger Quinn, is of a lower class. Even Reuben Williams, our third mate, the man in whose bed you should even now be sleeping, is of a lower class.” Axel shook his head. “The encante are not separated from us by class, Mister Escher, but freedom.”
“You mean to say they are slaves?”
“Of course they’re slaves. You think they wear those god forsaken machines of their own volition?”
It took me a moment to catch up. “The tails?” I considered the implications of a species who could breathe underwater and swim at great depths, living in a submersible with ready access to open water. “They keep them from escaping somehow?”
“Yes, one of Amos Newton’s finest inventions, don’t you think? A device which allows its occupant to swim outside the ship enough to remain healthy, perform maintenance and other duties, but which incapacitates them should they try to stray too far.”
“Amos Newton?”
“Newt, as my uncle calls him. He finds it humorous, what with the majority of Newton’s research having to do with our amphibious cousins.”
“That is truly abominable.” I caught myself. “My apologies, it is not for me to criticise your—”
“No, sir, you’re quite correct, it is abominable.”’
You can find Aiyana on Facebook
Buy the book on Amazon US
                           Amazon UK





Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Bandit Book Bloggers tour: Shadow over Avalon.

Today I am featuring Shadow over Avalon by C.N. Lesley

Beyond the mists of time, a dying warrior binds his soul to his sword with an oath to protect his people. His shade rides with the Wild Hunt while he waits for the call of greatest need, but when it comes, he doesn't know it is a lie.
In the undersea city of Avalon, Arthur nears the end of his acolyte training. But he doesn't want to spend his life serving the Archive, he wants to fight side by side with the air-breathing people to defeat the predators who are determined to ensure their own survival no matter the cost.
Ashira, War Maid princess of the surface-world, is ready to sacrifice her life to defend her kin, but when she is betrayed she must choose whether to die with honor or become one of the creatures her kinsmen fear and loathe.
Fortune twists in the strongest hands. This is no repeat; this is what happens next.

Following two threads of time, CN Lesley's fresh take on the Arthurian tales of old delivers the perfect blend of science fiction and fantasy.

About the author:

Elizabeth Hull, writing under the by line of C.N.Lesley, lives in Alberta with her husband and cats. Her three daughters live close by. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth likes to read and to paint watercolors. She is also a keen gardener (despite the very short summers) and now has a mature shade garden. Once a worker in the communications sector, mostly concentrating on local news and events, she now writes full time, and fusses over her cats. She was senior managing editor of FlashMe Magazine and now is assistant flash fiction editor for Abyss and Apex.


Purchase info:
Paperback  ISBN  978-1-1909845
USA $16.99                         UK £9.99
Kindle        ISBN  978-1-909845-25-1
UA $4.99                       UK £2.99
ePub           ISBN  978-1-909845-26-8
USA $4.99                           UK £2.99

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Spotlight on the cover artist
Never judge a book by the cover, right? Yeah none of us do that, do we? None of us browse the bookshelves of our local store, waiting for our eye to be drawn to that standout image, we know is going to suck us down a magic portal to a whole new world. The cover is what attracts us to a book, makes our hands tingle as we long to touch it, as we pray the story will live up to the beautiful design we can't take our eyes from. If you are a writer, the cover is your big chance to grab a drive-by browser, a shopper on the verge of becoming a reader. If you are a writer you need your cover to stand out and shout, pick me up, take me home and read my brains out!
And so, I give you Noelle Pierce of Selestiele Designs - Take it away, Noelle!

Thanks for having me on your blog, Paul!

 I've been an artist since I was little, and while I ultimately earned a degree in a different field, creating and appreciating art has always been a huge part of my life. In undergrad, I studied studio art as a minor, with a concentration in photography. I didn't know what graphic art was back then—computers (for me) were a way to communicate with people through email and the Internet chat rooms, type papers, and play Solitaire. Little did I know.

One of the most frustrating things in my art classes was being able to translate what was in my head onto the paper. If I copied what I saw (photograph, still life, etc.), I did well, but if I had to conceptualize and render…not so much. But I still tried.
My graduate degrees in psychology and education took a lot of time away from my art, and in the meantime, computers and software were advancing in ways I'd never dreamed possible. In 2010, I started playing free software to make a book cover for a story I was writing. Since reading was also a life-long pastime, I thought to merge my interests. I started paying more attention to the covers on my favorite books. Which covers caught my eye in the bookstore, and which ones made me stop and actually pick the book up to read the back description.
Tutorials on how to use Photoshop on YouTube became my obsession. At one point, I had a "book cover" for every novel, novella, and short story I'd ever written. I was making covers for fellow authors on Harper Collins' digital slushpile site, Authonomy. I joined DeviantArt and paid attention to the artists whose work I liked best. I studied their works, and spent inordinate amounts of time on my free image manipulation software. While I'd been unable to produce the images in my head on paper before, with computers and photomanipulation, I suddenly could. Some artists are amazing in any medium they choose. Others prefer one or two to convey their work—I'd found my medium.
By 2012, I'd created book covers, Facebook headers, and business cards for friends, and some of them wanted to pay me for the work. I was officially a freelance digital artist, and Selestiele Designs was born. Once I got serious, it was time to pull out the big guns—I bought Adobe's Creative Suite and familiarized myself with Photoshop and Illustrator. Self-taught myself to paint digitally. And I've never had so much fun at a job.
Where to find me:
Here are some samples of Noelle's work -
Noelle has a ton of samples as well as different options to choose from on her website. Do check them out if you are in the market for a quality book cover.
And one last one, Noelle designed this cover for me when I was on Authonomy. I think it is visually stunning, but more than that it completely captures the essence of the story. Without wishing to sound too arty-farty, it is a cover with soul.




Saturday, 12 October 2013

Bandit Book Bloggers Tour - The Art Of Forgetting (Rider - Book 1)

Buy it on Amazon US
About the author:

Joanne Hall lives in Bristol, England with her partner.  She enjoys reading, writing, listening to music, gaming, watching movies, eating cake and failing to exercise.

A full-time author since 2003, Joanne’s “New Kingdom” fantasy trilogy was published by Epress Online, and was a finalist in both the PLUTO and EPPIE awards. Her short stories have appeared in many publications, both print and online, including Afterburn SF, Quantum Muse, and The Harrow.

She has had short stories published in several anthologies, including “Pirates of the Cumberland Basin” in Future Bristol, and “Corpse Flight” in Dark Spires.  Her short story collection, “The Feline Queen” was published in March 2011 by Wolfsinger Publications.

For the last four years, Joanne has been the Chair of BristolCon, Bristol’s thriving science fiction and fantasy convention.  She also runs the Bristol Fantasy and SF Society Facebook group, and occasionally works in an editing position for Dark Ocean Studios, a small comics company based in San Jose, as well as taking on freelance editing projects.
She is the co-editor with Roz Clarke of “Colinthology”, a tribute anthology to their friend Colin Harvey, which also includes her short story “Lukewarm in Lynhelm.”  “Colinthology” was published as an ebook in October 2012 by Wizards Tower, and a print edition may be forthcoming.
Author Links:
Joanne is also the chair of BristolCon an annual science fiction and fantasy convention. It kicks off in two weeks. Here's some info.
Small but almost perfectly formed – BristolCon 2013...

The fifth instance of the south-west's own speculative fiction convention is almost upon us. With just a few weeks to go before the doors open on the fifth annual BristolCon, the convention team are kicking into overdrive. The venue and the guests of honour are long-since booked, but preparations are now frantic, as the spaces for dealers and artists are finalised and the intricate work of assembling the discussion panels is underway.

This years' VIPs are Philip Reeve, Storm Constantine, and Mark Buckingham. Philip Reeve started writing science fiction as soon as he could hold a pencil, and now writes steampunk and historical fiction for children and young adults. Even you haven't heard of Mortal Engines or the Larklight series, a child near you will be impressed by his comic work on Horrible Histories and Murderous Maths.

Storm has had a long and shimmering career writing distinctive SF and fantasy such as the Wraeththu novels. She challenges the boundaries of science, sexuality, myth and magic. She is also the founder of Immanion Press, which publishes books that would otherwise be out of print.

Mark Buckingham is a comic book artist with a CV to die for – he's worked for both Marvel and DC, on the kind of comics that get taken seriously – Hellblazer, Marvelman, Fables and the Death miniseries, amongst others.

Other guests include writers Paul Cornell, Juliet E. McKenna, Anne Lyle, Gareth L Powell, and artist Jim Burns. The team are building a programme that aims to cover some of the hottest topics in speculative fiction. BristolCon has a reputation as a relaxed and informative convention for professionals, but also a safe and welcoming space for fans and first-time con goers. If panels aren't your thing, you can enjoy the art show, and books, comics and merchandise will be available in the dealers・ room and authors will be available for book signings. There will also be our now-infamous pub quiz and live music in the evening.

MEG, chief programmer, is currently neck-deep in panelist response forms. She says:

的'm thoroughly enjoying all the enthusiasm that's coming through on the participation forms. The volume of so many volunteers can cause a bit of a headache in trying to provide something for everyone but the sense of fun and family render it less stressful and more of a community gathering. It makes me feel I'm appreciated and that it's all worthwhile.”

Tickets are available in advance from at £20 and on the door for £25. The event takes place in the newly refurbished and rebranded DoubleTree Hotel (formerly the Ramada) on Redcliffe Way.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Robswall Castle
A little while ago a friend, Andrea Baker asked me to be a guest on her blog. She was running a weekly guest spot with castles being the theme. This is what I came up with.
 I love castles, I have done since a very young age. I grew up on old swash-bucklers, Errol Flynn as Robin Hood, Knights, King Arthur, Crusaders, you get the idea. There was always a castle siege, a huge battle with enormous amounts of extras, no computer graphics back then. A fight scene at the end, inside the castle. They’d vault the throne, swing from the tapestries, fight backwards up the steps. They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Now I write fantasy books, epic adventures, battles and larger than life heroes.
But I’ve always loved real castles too. I spent hours, as a boy, exploring old ruins imagining what it would be like to be a knight manning the battlements, hero and conqueror all in one. I also grew up beside one of the best preserved castles in the country. Malahide Castle attracts thousands of tourists every year, indeed I spent a large portion of my youth in the grounds of Malahide Castle, getting up to things perhaps not envisaged by the park wardens. But enough of that.
You see, it’s not Malahide Castle, or one of the many other ancient ruins, that sprang to mind. Nor is it a huge Norman castle from one of my childhood favourite movies. It is a much smaller, much less grand castle that I immediately thought of. A two storey (once three storey) tower castle, on the coast road between Malahide and Portmarnock in North County Dublin. In fact these days it’s someone’s house. Robswall Castle.
There’s a story to it, well a made-up story, made-up by me. You see one winter’s night two boys were walking past Robswall Castle… okay it was me and my mate. Me and my friend Stevo were walking along the coast road one night, it was raining, cold sleety rain, and a wind was howling in from the Irish Sea. I pointed to the big bay window hanging over the road and said to Stevo, ‘Imagine an old woman sitting on a rocking-chair, endlessly knitting, just sitting there staring out at everybody who walked past, the only sound the clicking of her knitting needles. Well this one throw-away remarked freaked both of us out so much we legged it all the way home, giggling like schoolgirls. We still laugh about it today.
Anyway the image stuck with me, and I decided to write a book about it… at least I started a book about it, it’s not finished yet. Below is an extract, in fact it’s the opening of the book.
I have this recurring dream, I’m twelve years old and walking the Coast Road between Malahide and Portmarnock in north County Dublin. It’s late, over head is a clear, dark sky, pinpricked by countless shining stars. A round yellow moon hangs low in the inky blackness illuminating the sea. I can hear the waves lap at the rocks below the seawall. It is winter, I can taste frost on my tongue, feel the chill in the air stinging my nose and ears.
I’m frightened, I don’t like the dark. I don’t like being out at night when there is nobody else around. I don’t like the feeling of being watched from the darkness. My heart beats faster, I can feel myself close to tears as I quicken the pace, constantly looking over my shoulder. I imagine being pursued by wild, rabid dogs, a pack working in unison, stalking me. A crisp packet is blown along the footpath by the breeze, making me look sharply in that direction. I jump at every sound.
I can see Robswall Castle now, its great bay-window hanging over the road. More of a tower than a castle, converted into somebody’s house, it sits on a bend on the road, overlooking the Irish Sea. That’s when I hear the clicking sound. Click- click, click-click. It sounds familiar but I can never place it straight away. I’m running by the time I reach the castle, the cold winter air freezing in my throat as I gulp down as much oxygen as a terrified, twelve year old boy can.  I sense, more than see the curtains move. Then another sound joins the clicking, creak – creak. This freaks me out more than the thought of the feral dogs chasing me, or of any other terror my young mind can conjure from often heard tales. Banshees, ghouls and vampires. Stories to feed the imagination and night terrors of a young boy.
I can see clearly now, how I don’t know. I’m still outside on the road, but I can see beyond the huge window, right into the room. I see an old woman, rocking back and forth in a rocking chair.
Creak – creak.
In her lap is a ball of wool, her hands work furiously with a pair of knitting needles.
Click – click.
This is no kindly grandmother knitting a pair of socks for a baby grandchild. One look from her and I know my blood will freeze, one glance from the black eyes in her head and I will lose my soul forever.
On and on the needles click, as she rocks back and forth. Forever in that bay window, waiting for unsuspecting travellers to wander by, on dark cold nights.
“Is this why you killed those women?” The shrink’s monotone voice interrupts my retelling of the dream, breaking my concentration.
“No, the Devil made me do that,” I answer, keeping a straight face as he scratches into his clipboard with a plastic biro.
The Devil never made me do anything in my life, at least I don’t think he did, but it amuses me to give these morons what they want.
© Paul Freeman 2012
You can check out Andrea Baker’s blog here.
Buy her book, World's Apart: Leah here

Monday, 30 September 2013

Bandit Book Bloggers: Out Of The Dark.

Something a little different. A visually stunning book of contemporary gothic art, edited by Hazel Butler.


Containing over two hundred images, and contributions from thirty-two artists from around the world, Out of the Dark is a veritable cornucopia of Gothic delight. Fifteen chapters, each packed with vibrant images, and pithy descriptions,  showcase some of Gothic Art’s favourite themes, from Death to Lovers, Hauntings to Winter, and Lolitas to Lost Boys.
Many images are accompanied by commentaries from the artists, detailing their inspirations and methods, and why certain pieces mean so much to them.
The central feature of the book is a sixteen page spread on favourite Alternative model, Maria Amanda Schaub, including a biography, a selection of her favourite art pieces, and why she loves them so much.

My Deadly Lolita, by Hazel Butler

Hazel Butler is an archaeologist, author and artist, currently in the final year of her PhD. She enjoys a wide range of art and fiction, but especially loves the Gothic, Steampunk and Fantasy genres.

Death, Come Near Me, by Silviya Yordanova

Silviya Yordanova is a self-taught digital artist from Bulgaria. Her works are always a mixture of concept, emotion and a drop of darkness. Photo manipulation has become a very important part of her and since she began doing it she’s been trying to evolve her skills as much as she can. At first it all started as a hobby but in time it became much more. She found that through it, many opportunities opened. Her passion lies in creating art, trying to make the world a better and beautiful place by expressing herself through it. She’s had the pleasure to work with many authors, photographers, publishing houses and even had the amazing opportunity to work with and have her work featured in quite a few international magazines.

Lost In Thought, by Debra Mason

Debra Mason is a digital artist working out of Toronto, Canada. She’s been doing art for as long as she could hold a crayon, but it was when she discovered Photoshop several years ago that her creativity really took off.
You can buy the book on Amazon


Thursday, 26 September 2013

Non Compliance: The Transition
I used to matter… but now I’m just a girl in a ghetto, a statistic of the Non-Compliance Sector.

Three months have passed since Shea Kelly and the rest of Boss’s crew eliminated Danny Rose from the non-compliance sector, but their troubles are far from over. A new, more dangerous opponent has emerged, causing those once considered enemies to strike a tenuous truce. Secrets about the vaccine, the chip, and the past threaten Shea’s budding romantic relationship and even the very existence of the crew.
Non Compliance: The Transition is the second novel from Tina Closser writing under the pen-name of Paige Daniels. Both her debut novel, Non Compliance: The sector and her second are published by Kristell Ink
Non-Compliance: The Transition

Book 2 takes the reader back to the Non-Compliant Sector and the characters we’ve come to love. Old enemies become allies, and their troubles never seem to be far away. If you enjoyed Paige Daniels’ debut novel Non-Compliance: The Sector, then you’ll love this.

Released 30th September 2013, in paperback and ebook and available where all good books are sold.
Purchase info:
Paperback  ISBN  978-1-909845-21-3
USA $12.99                         UK £7.99
Kindle        ISBN  978-1-909845-22-0
USA $4.99                           UK £2.99
ePub           ISBN 978-1-909845-23-7
USA $4.99                           UK £2.99

Reviews for ‘Non-Compliance: The Sector’ (First book in the series)

After a slightly slow start, I really got hooked in by the dystopian/post-apocalyptic (to me) landscapes and denizens of the world here. The highest praise I have, though, is this: the characters and story reach a point of depth and intrigue by the end that I am very much looking forward to the next installment in this series. Well worth a purchase and read, this book is. – Scot Kaeff

I really enjoyed this book. It was well written and character development was excellent. While this is set a future world, it was very believable and did not require the huge "leap of faith" often required of sci-fi/fantasy. The technology was plausible and honestly probably not far off from our future. In reading the other reviews, I did not realize this was a "first time" author's book. I could not tell at all and I read quite a bit while commuting. Overall I would highly recommend this book and I will be purchasing the next in the series when it comes out. -- Anonymous

Love the setting of this book, in a modern day alternate world, with completely plausible technology and bureaucratic manipulation. The main characters find themselves in the one sector refusing to bow to policy and, as a result, increasingly cutoff from the world they knew. In a sector ignored by the law and ruled by organised crime, they do anything to get by.
I found the main characters compelling and interesting. Shea is a strong, intelligent female, with a completely vulnerable side. She is a very well rounded character. The enforcers and allies she meets are interesting characters that I wanted to find out more about. Even the hated villains developed well. It was a wonderful read.
I am looking forward to the second book in the series. – Eilidh Roberts

I totally Devoured this book. Started reading this morning and could barely put it down. Now I'm suffering from 'I can hardly wait for the next book in the series. Great work, very few typos or grammatical errors; a refreshing change for an avid e-book reader! Thank you so much for a definitely engaging read, hoping to read more about Shea, Quinn, Wynne and Boss! -- Anonymous

 NOTE: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
In an America of the future people are provided with almost everything and all they have to do is allow the government to insert a chip into their neck with all their information. People who refuse this are called Non-Compliances and shut off in a ghetto called a sector.
Shea Kelly along with her friend Wynne Myers live here. Shea works as a bartender, bouncer and Jill of all trades. Wynne is a stripper. At least this is what they want people to believe, they also are hackers for hire who will break into the system and turn items people have requested into things that they really want or need. Things are going good until a new mobster moves in and tries to take over from Boss, the mobster who runs this sector and thus the story begins.
Ms Daniels, in this her first book (which is hard to believe) has written about a world of the future. Her development of her characters and locations and life are vivid enough that you can see them in your mind. The character and situations are believable and you start to care about them. I have read that there is another book coming with these characters. I hope this is correct as I will be waiting in line for it to see what happens next.
I enjoyed this book enough that although I received a copy I also bought an e-copy for my reader as I am sure I will want to re-read it to see if I missed anything the first time through. – Richard Hayes


Tina Closser grew up in various towns around Northern Kentucky reading and watching as much science fiction and fantasy as humanly possible. When it was time for college it was clear that she watched one too many episodes of Star Trek, because she chose Physics as her major with the intent of being an Astrophysicist. After graduating from Northern Kentucky University with her Bachelors of Science in Physics, she knew that academia was not the path for her so she chose to get an Electrical Engineering degree at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Armed with two science degrees she went to work for the Navy in Indiana.

Throughout high school and college she had millions of ideas for stories running through her head, but never had the courage to write any of them down. Thanks to the reality TV craze she turned off her television and worked up the courage to write down a story that had been worming its way into her brain for years. She wrote “Non-Compliance: The Sector” under the pen name of Paige Daniels over the course of several years. In November 2012 it was published by Kristell Ink. It is a fast paced science fiction, cyber punk tale with elements of humor and romance with a strong heroine. It explores different themes such as family, government control, and how one seemingly insignificant person can make a difference. 

Despite being surrounded by a bunch of Hoosiers, she has lived happily in Indiana for the past fourteen years. She has had held several different engineering positions in the past, but currently she is a Science Technology Engineering and Math Coordinator in which she acts as a liaison to schools and gets kids excited about careers in science and technology.

She is also very active in her local chapter of Society of Women Engineers, doing many outreach programs to inspire girls to consider the field of engineering as a career. Part of the proceeds from her book, “Non Compliance: The Sector”, which features a woman engineer as the protagonist, will go to fund a partial scholarship for a young woman to go to engineering school.

In her spare time she coaches a robotics team and attends various robotics competitions. She also fiddles around with her viola and likes to pretend she knows how to be a farmer on her small hobby farm with her two kids and husband.
She can be found at:

An Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Non Compliance: The Transition-


I can barely see the road ahead of me and a chill runs down my spine. The cool air isn’t what is giving me chills; it’s the cargo in the trunk.

“You okay, Kelly?”

“I’m fine. I just want to get this over with.”

“You know, you didn’t have to come. Conner, Lindsey and I could’ve taken care of this.”

“What? And let you guys drive my car? I don’t think so.”

Conner’s head peeks up from the backseat. “I’m hurt. Don’t you think we’re capable of driving your old car?”

“She isn’t old. Call her that again and I’ll break your arms.”

Quinn stifles a laugh and the car turns quiet again. We wind through the cramped streets in town. It’s rainy and the warm summer months are starting to give way to a crisp fall. There are very few people out on the streets tonight.

Good. The fewer potential witnesses, the better.

Our destination is in sight. I park the car as close as possible to the river, and we all get out. Although I’m wearing a rain jacket, the cold rain slices through me. The only light is from the Compliant Sector across the river and the few active displays spewing forth propaganda; the lights on our side have been out for hours due to the energy sanctions. We make our way to the trunk.

Quinn holds a gun out for me. “Here you go, stand watch. If anyone and I mean ANYONE sees us, you shoot them. Got it?”

My heart races. I’m starting to regret my decision to accompany Quinn and Conner on this mission. I give Quinn a blank stare.

Conner answers for me: “I got it, Chief. She can wait in the car.”

“No, it was her decision to come. She knew what she was getting into. You need to help me with the cargo in the trunk. We need a lookout.”

I grab the gun from Quinn’s hands. “I’m fine. I got it.”

As Conner and Quinn open the trunk, I grab a glimpse of the two bodies inside. I turn my back and head for my post to avoid seeing too much. I’m not so naïve that I don’t know what Quinn and the boys do when they are out, but it’s different seeing it firsthand. I agreed to go this time, because I felt it was time to pull my weight.

The streets are quiet, allowing us to carry out our mission. It’s imperative that no one catch us. Normally, what goes on amongst us Non-Commers is ignored by Magistrate. He’s okay with us killing each other off; the fewer of us he has to deal with the better. However, this is no normal dump. The bodies in the trunk are two of Magistrate’s marshals. We found them in front of our compound this morning, no doubt a present from our friend Ramsey. If Magistrate were to find the bodies anywhere near us, then we would all be gathered, chipped, and sent to the other side to be their fucking mind slaves. No trial. No jury of our peers.

I sit hunkered on the park bench hoping that any passersby will take me for a homeless person. I take out a small device and push in a couple of numbers. It should put out a strong enough signal to jam any surveillance devices in the area.

Quinn’s words are running through my mind. “Shoot ANYONE that sees us.”

Oh God, can I do this? What have I gotten myself into?

Shooting one of Ramsey’s men is one thing, but an innocent bystander? I’m not sure I can do that. My stomach tightens into knots. I hop up from the bench and pace back and forth. Still, no sign of anyone. The rain starts to pound and wind whips up my coat. The cold is making the old wounds in my hand ache.

God, what can be taking them so long?

“Kelly! Let’s go.”

Quinn and Conner are standing by the car. I take one more look around, grab the jamming device, and run for the car. Once inside, my heart feels lighter. I roll on to the main street to head back home.

Conner pokes his head up to the front. “Your first body disposal. I’m so proud.”

“Yeah, first and last.”

Quinn peers at me. “Who said it was your last?”

“Me. I’m never doing it again. My nerves can’t handle that shit. I’m happier being the behind the scenes nerd, thank you very much.”

“You’re my partner, and that comes with certain responsibilities.”

I squirm in my seat knowing Quinn is right. This won’t be the last time, especially with Ramsey in town. It’s been three months since Ramsey took over Danny’s crew. He’s been laying low since we took Danny down, but his little gift in front of the compound has made it apparent that he’s ready to play now.

The movement of the windshield wipers and the sound of the rain put me in a hypnotic trance, and I start to forget about the events that have just transpired. But bright, flashing blue and red lights fill the car, and they bring the stress back with friends.

Everyone in the car lets out a collective “Fuck!”

I pull over to the side of the road. Quinn grabs his gun and puts it discretely under his seat.

“Let me get this, Quinn. Don’t go shooting just yet.”

“Fine, but you need to get him off our trail. Fast.”

“Gee. Really? I thought I would invite him over for tea and cookies.”

“I’m serious. Stop being such a smart ass. Don’t you realize what’s on the line here?”

“No, I don’t. Why don’t you tell me? Because apparently you think I’m so stupid…”

Our bickering is cut short by a tapping on the window. I roll down the window and I’m greeted by one of Magistrate’s marshals, and two of his boys behind him. They’re all young punks; the young ones are the worst.

I smile my best cheesy smile. “Can I help you, sir?”

“What are you three doing out here this time of night?”

“Just taking the car around the block for a spin.”

“Mmm-hmm. Get out of the car all of you, and put your hands on the hood.”

As we get out of the car we are greeted by the snarky grins of the marshals. We put our hands on the hood. The rain is soaking us to the bone. I start to shake from the cold. Each of the marshals chooses one of us to pat down. The one searching me spends a little too much time on my boobs and butt for my comfort.

The lead marshal says, “Shea Kelly, Quinn Knightly, and Conner Dunne, all out on the town to take a little ride. Why am I suspicious?”

I answer back, “I have no idea, sir. We were just in town for a Bible study. We’re heading back home to knit scarves for the homeless.”

He taps me on the back of my head with his club to shut me up.

“Knightly, you better watch that smart mouth on your woman. It’s going to land her in trouble.”

Quinn gives me a stern look while I rub my head.

“Turn around all of you. I have something I want you to see.”

We all turn around and he makes several taps to the Compliant Active Management System situated on his arm. A 3D holographic image of two marshals projects from his CAMS.

“You guys see these marshals around?”

We all shake our heads no.

“They went missing last night. No one has seen them around. You know, once we find who’s responsible for their disappearance, they will be sent to the other side. So if you know anything, you better start talking now.”

We all stand silently looking at the cop. Two of the marshals deliver blows to Quinn and Conner with their nightsticks. I lunge to help, but the lead man restrains me.

“Hey boys, looks like we have a lively one here,” he says as he looks down at me.

The other two laugh as they deliver more blows to Quinn and Conner.

The lead Marshal throws me to the ground and says, “Okay boys, we can come back to them later, we have some real work to do now.”

One of the boys grins and unsheathes a knife from his belt. “Time to search the car.”