12 February 2013

Cover Reveal: Odd Men Out

Dog Star Books' lineup of science fiction adventures has another title to add to its growing catalog with this steampunk/alternate history novel: Matt Betts' Odd Men Out.

Coming July 2013 from Dog Star Books

The Civil War went on far longer than anyone expected, prompting the North and South to call a truce to fight their common enemy: The Chewers – dead men come to life to attack the living. As a result, a peacekeeping force called the Office of Military Operations is created to watch over the tenuous peace.

Cyrus Joseph Spencer didn’t fight in the war and couldn’t care less about the United Nations of America that resulted from it. His main concern is making money and protecting his crew from all manner of danger. To escape a horrible tragedy, Cyrus and one of his wards, Lucinda, board a U.N. dirigible for safety. They quickly discover their situation has not improved as the U.N. team is chasing a group of rogue soldiers in hopes of stopping them from obtaining a terrible weapon.

They also have to contend with a larger threat - Drago del Vapore – a giant lizard attacking the West Coast and wreaking havoc on everything it encounters. As the two sides face off against each other and the huge beast, Cyrus feels more and more like an Odd Man Out and finds it harder and harder to stay out of the fight.

You can find more about Matt Betts at his blog: http://zombiewrangler.blogspot.com

Cover artist Bradley Sharp keeps a portfolio here: http://www.bradsharp.co.uk/

11 February 2013

Show Some Love for Preston Black!

Jason Jack Miller and Raw Dog Screaming Press are proud to present the second volume of the "Murder Ballads and Whiskey" series: The Devil and Preston Black.

From the back cover:

Preston Black has a nasty habit of falling in love with the wrong women. But girls who don't play nice are the least of his problems. This charismatic bar-band guitarist isn't washed-up, but he's about to be. He's broke, he's tired of playing covers and he's obsessed with the Curse of 27. If he doesn't wise up he'll be adding 'deal with the devil' to his list. Lucky for Preston, he has help: an angelic beauty who matches him note for note and a music professor who deciphers the old Appalachian curses binding Preston to a song that is his only shot at redemption. And when things get real bad, he has the ghost of John Lennon to remind him that "nothing is real." Let Raw Dog Screaming Press author Jason Jack Miller take you to a place where love is forever even when death isn't, where magic doesn't have to be seen to be believed, where a song might be the only thing that saves your soul.

The Devil and Preston Black
by Jason Jack Miller
228 pps; ISBN: 978-1935738305
Raw Dog Screaming Press (January 28, 2013)

You too can help us celebrate the release of The Devil and Preston Black this week. Anyone who shares the "Show Preston Black Some Love" graphic above along with the book's link, http://tinyurl.com/aocuwuh, will receive a Valentine pack from Preston Black himself.

The Valentine pack includes:

• card signed by Preston Black
• limited edition Preston Black guitar pick
• limited edition "Preston is My Valentine" 4.25 x 5.5 graphic print
• Hellbender postcard
• access to an online 'sneak peak' of the next book - The Revelations of Preston Black

Due to mailing costs this contest is only open to residents of the US and Canada

To receive your prize send an email to books@rawdogscreaming.com with your mailing address.

03 February 2013

Work-in-Progress: heart|STRINGS

Strangely appropriate for February, I've broken my usual tradition of only making a novel attempt in November to write a hard scifi novel with a heavy helping of romance. I'm still not sure if this is going to work, but I figure since I've advised friends to just do it (write) I can't let this sit for a year. Months. Whatever.

So here is a working title and synopsis of my idea, and (probably) the first chapter. Hopefully the CC license I attach to everything here at FTL will protect it from getting ganked by the internet's less scrupulous denizens.

I hope you enjoy. Criticism is always welcome and very much encouraged. I'd rather know it sucks and drop it for other, better, projects than spend a lot of time on something that doesn't resonate even in a rough form.



Patrick Barrett is a brilliant theoretical physicist. He has the respect of his peers, a great job sharing his beloved subject with the next generation of great minds, and he thought he had the love of a woman who shared his passions.

After his wife asks if he loves her then commits suicide before his eyes, he could have buried her and moved on. But as a man who routinely shows the world that God's dice are loaded, why should he?

He will cross the boundaries of this world and the next, and go beyond to answer his dead wife's challenge:

Prove it.


Chapter 1: Interpretations

“Do you love me?”

“Beyond the limits of the universe.”

She whispered two maddening words in my ear: “Prove it.”

I pulled away from our embrace, and in that tiny moment my world was shattered with all-encompassing light and deafening sound.

I watched my wife's brain stem explode across the empty space between her neck and the white cinder block wall of our shared office. Slow-motion spray of crimson. My chest consumed with a singularity of despair. Fear pouring from my eyes.

Her body went limp in my arms; the small handgun she insisted on owning for protection falling to the floor. I didn't hear its blue-black steel clatter against the conglomerate tiles. Didn't see her blood sprayed across the white board, making an incoherent jumble of our figures and equations written out in green and black and red and blue. The rest of reality tuned out, faded beyond perception as I locked my horrified eyes on hers.
She was gently smiling. She was as beautiful as the day I met her, but that vibrant aura she carried that made her truly irresistible was dimming. Her life was fading so quickly from her eyes, and yet through those stunning sky-blue eyes she was still giving me her “come and get me” look.

I eased her to the ground as best I could. My knees were so very weak, I nearly fell. I held her close to me, rocking her back and forth, a broken man. I cried, I screamed, I caressed her face. I moaned, I called out to God, I grasped her hand and brought it to my tear-soaked cheek. I brushed her soft, auburn hair away from her brow. I gently ran my thumb across her lightly freckled cheek.

Time no longer registered in my mind. Events were occurring around me. Others came running in, I assume when they heard the gunshot. Colleagues, friends, passersby. I don't remember who or how many. Just faceless, nondescript people. All I could see, all I wanted to see was her death-pale face, her blue-tinged lips. I faintly recall voices coming through the ringing in my ears. Oh-my-Gods and call-an-ambulances and help-is-on-the-ways.

I knew she was gone. All the hope in the world couldn't change that.

Prove it.

Her last words to me played over and over in my mind's eye, her softly smiling face still warm and pink and alive. My heart ached as I tried to rationalize what she had done. “Prove it.” I pulled her close to my chest, sobbing. Wasn't she happy? Did I miss something? Was she just putting on a brave face for me? “Prove it.” My throat was tight with anguish, my face aching with sorrow. Why would she do this to me, to herself? What would possess her to exit life like this? What the hell did she mean by “Prove it?

I looked up to scream to the heavens.

Mid-rise my eyes stopped, my voice caught before a single note of pain could be unleashed. The paramedics were pulling me away from her, or pulling her away from me, I wasn't sure and in that moment I couldn't have cared. I just stared, mouth agape. I stood and walked around the uniformed men, my wife's body. There on the whiteboard, surrounded by the arcane maths we conjured daily and spattered with her blood was quite possibly the most important symbol in all of creation.

In that moment I understood what she meant, everything she meant by the words “Prove it.”

I began laughing like a madman. Everyone present likely thought I was in shock; or that I had suffered a psychotic break when I straddled her body and held her up, shoving the medics away as I hugged her and kissed her cold dead mouth. I was Aristotle running naked through Athens. I was Galileo looking through the telescope. I was Newton and the damned apple.

Everything was so clear now. She wasn't dead. Not for me. Not yet. I looked past the emptiness in her eyes and saw the first gateway back to her. I felt many strange hands grab my arms. My heart had been broken and mended in less than ten minutes. My colleagues pulled me to my feet as I smiled at her and whispered “I will.”

Still I laughed at that silly little symbol, that ancient mark of forever, an eight knocked to its side. The key and the keyhole.


24 January 2013

Arnzstigation Days

Raw Dog Screaming Press editrix Jennifer Barnes has issued a unique challenge to fans of Michael A. Arnzen (100 Jolts, The Gorelets Omnibus) in commemoration of his "Fridge of the Damned" fridge magnets reaching their main Kickstarter funding goal and to encourage funding of the stretch goal for nice tins to hold said magnets. Quoting from the Facebook event page:

"Now through the end of January post a short story, poem, piece of art, excerpt from a longer work instigated by Arnzen or even a blog reflection on his influence. Then post a link here, on the RDSP FB page or send it directly to books@rawdogscreaming.com. I will share it through our page, our twitter account and collect the links in a permanent blog entry on the RDSP blog. This will support the cause and also showcase your project.

"The catch—you've got to include a link to the Kickstarter: http://tinyurl.com/b4zkr5m. Invisible slimy bonus points to those who include some explanatory text such as: Be an instigator, support the Fridge of the Damned poetry magnet kickstarter."

Now for my offering: an untitled short/flash piece based on Arnzen's "Twisted Prompts for Sicko Writers (31)" from December 30, 2012. WARNING: NSF Work, Lunch, and probably our continued friendship. First the prompt (I've highlighted the one I selected):

Begin with a Woman…
+ Begin with a woman…defiantly shaking a phantom (or prosthetic) arm at the heavens.
+ Begin with a woman…requesting plastic surgery to make her something LESS (beautiful, endowed, perfect, etc).
+ Begin with a woman…who reads more than she should into her ‘time of the month.’
+ Begin with a woman…discovering something alive in the meat drawer.
+ Begin with a woman…in love with a man BECAUSE he survived her murder attempt.
+ Begin with a woman…applying mascara to a corpse.
+ Begin with a woman…alienated by the newborn creature in her arms.
+ Begin with a woman…baking a dangerous cake.
+ Begin with a woman…and end with a man.

And the story:

There's just something about a man who refuses to die.

I've tried, really I have! Poison? Shrugs it off. Bullets? No more than mosquito bites. Immolation, irradiation, blunt force trauma, asphyxiation, exsanguination, vivisection, he just won't stay down.

And I love him all the more for it. His inability to die, his appetite for pain make him so much more interesting than other, lesser men.

I sometimes wonder what it's like for him. When we make love and he allows me my fantasies or I indulge his. Like the time he let me blow out his skull as he came (my idea,) or when I cut off his balls as he was ejaculating (his idea.) Is there a line between pleasure and pain for him? Does the little death of orgasm compare to those moments when I force his soul from his body? Is there any difference between the two, really?

For a woman of my peculiar tastes he is the perfect partner. He is willing to do anything for me, and I am willing to do anything for him. If he wants to be choked with his own intestines, that's fine. As long as I can take him from behind with my special strap-on (the blacksmith called it his masterpiece.)

It's so nice to have a man you can murder over and over again with no consequences. So stimulating.
Judge me if it makes you happy. But until you've experienced an explosive orgasm while squeezing a man's heart to the point his cock is as hard as diamond and you're massaging ten out of twelve pints of his blood into your skin you've really got nothing to say to me.

Or you can say something...

But then I'll have to kill you.

22 January 2013

Another Beautiful Dog Star Books Reveal!

Coming Summer 2013 from 
Hugo and Nebula award winner Mike Resnick:

The best way to learn about an alien species is not only to live among them, but to become them in both physical form and function, but could a human really learn to think like an alien, and at what cost to his humanity?

Journalist and adventurer Xavier William Lennox becomes obsessed with the rituals of the Fireflies, an alien culture of gold-skinned inhabitants living on the planet Medina. When he gets too close to their mysterious society, he's captured, tortured, and banished for his curiosity, but vows to learn what it is that the aliens are so desperate to hide, even if it means becoming one of them.

But his curiosity doesn't end with the Fireflies. As opportunities arise to study more alien races, Lennox undergoes a series of cosmetic surgeries so that he can blend in with their cultures. But each time his humanity is stretched until he faces his biggest challenge—trying to return to the ordinary life of a man who has experienced the universe in ways he was never meant to.