The Edge of the Map – No. 7

Good morning, lovelies, and welcome to this week’s roundup of interesting reads.  This is where I try to assemble a collection of books and stories that have a unique approach, or look, by blurb or cover, as if they’re going to explore an angle that isn’t often seen.  The storyteller, in other words, is eschewing the well-explored path in order to work off the edge of the map.  That’s where the best stories wait to be tracked down and captured, so let’s get right into them!


This week’s collection begins with a very special promotion, the work of several friends and fellow authors, DeadSteam, curated by Bryce Raffle.  Reader beware: to open this tome is to invite dread into your heart.  Every page you turn will bring you closer to something wicked.  And when the dead begin to rise from the steaming pits of hell, only then will you discover that it is already too late.  Your life is forfeit.  Featuring an introduction by Leanna Renee Hieber, author of the Eterna Files and Strangely Beautiful saga, DeadSteam plays host to the scintillating writing of David Lee Summers (Owl Dance, The Brazen Shark), Jen Ponce (The Bazaar, Demon’s Cradle), Wendy Nikel (The Continuum), Karen J Carlisle (The Adventures of Viola Stewart), Jonah Buck (Carrion Safari), and more.  With seventeen chilling tales of dreadpunk, gaslamp, and dark steampunk, DeadSteam will leave you tearing at the pages, desperate for more.  For within these pages, the dead rise from their graves to haunt the London Underground, witches whisper their incantations to the wind, a sisterhood of bitten necks hunts fog-drenched alleyways lit only by gaslight, and only one thing is certain: that dread will follow you until you turn that final page.  And that sinking feeling in the pit of your chest?  That fear that something is following you, watching you, hunting you?  It is not for nothing.  Look over your shoulder, dear reader.  Watch behind you.  Listen to the whispers in the darkness.  But know this: it is all inevitable.  $2.99 on Kindle.


Ribbons of Death by Edita A. Petrick.  Stella Hunter wrote a controversial book that cost not only her marriage but her career.  A history professor with a passion for archeology, she has no other place to hide but in a hamlet in Montana where she was raised by her aunt and uncle.  Then one evening, a stranger with a horribly scarred face stomps onto her porch, holding her controversial book.  He points to the bloody fingerprints of the book’s now deceased owner, marking a passage of the Peacetaker myth.  What would drive a man to travel for hours in a vicious blizzard to find an academic whose book has been out of print for years?  And are there really secrets in an obscure book of myths and legends that all the security agencies missed?  99¢ on Kindle.


In the Belly of the Beast by Ben Monroe.  “It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind, that some of earth’s dark, dead corners and unplumbed depths be let alone; lest sleeping abnormalities wake to resurgent life, and blasphemously surviving nightmares squirm and splash out of their black lairs to newer and wider conquests…”
– H.P. Lovecraft

In the Belly of the Beast is inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft and the epic tabletop game Cthulhu Wars, published by Petersen Games.  The novel, In the Belly of the Beast, tells the story of a small group of human survivors trying to find a safe haven amidst the ruins of civilization.  While traveling through a treacherous mountain pass, they find themselves caught between rival cults, and discover there are worse things in the cold places of the world than frostbite.  $4.99 on Kindle.


A Storm on Mars by Troy Mitchell Scott.  Phoenix Murphy insisted on living her dreams which began in a small Kentucky town and would take her on a trip to try and save the universe, all while she is just trying to get back home. 99¢ on Kindle.


The Reversible Man by Charles A. Cornell.  Professor Atticus Carr is accused of murdering a rich aristocrat he’d never met, in a place he’d never been before or traveled since, at a time when he lay sick with fever.  But the evidence against him is overwhelming.  Witnesses attest to the professor’s attendance at the crime scene and to his exact description, down to the details of his famous goatee and wearing the theatrical clothes that made him a celebrity as an illusionist at the Theatre Macabre.  Professor Carr proclaims his innocence and surmises he fell victim to a deranged doctor whose Trans-Aural Topographical Machine duplicated the professor’s face, allowing him to abscond with the professor’s identity.  As The Reversible Man initiates more high crimes, how can Professor Carr exonerate himself before he’s hung for murder?  Does your heart beat faster in the dark than in the daylight?  Do your hands tingle under the touch of copper and brass?  Then The Most Peculiar Tales are sure to satisfy.  Six paranormal tales set in a steampunk world.  99¢ on Kindle.


Second Self by J.W. Robitaille.  When Sergeant Cory Marin and Marty Washington begin to investigate the ritualistic murder of an international student, the leads and suspects keep multiplying.  Is the killing tied to a similar one twenty years ago?  Is the girlfriend’s possessive ex-boyfriend responsible?  Do the victim’s fraternity brothers have a reason to want him dead?  Or are the victim’s girlfriend or best friend involved?  When they discover a tie-in with the virtual world, Second Life, events take a bizarre twist.  As her avatar tracks down leads in Second Life, Cory is faced with a new threat from Fletcher Manning.  Luckily, she has Marty Washington, and her father, Jack Riley, in her corner, but can they protect her from Fletcher?  99¢ on Kindle.


Phoenix One by Chase MacLeod.  The end of the world is just the beginning!  The decay of Earth’s atmosphere forces mankind to move off-world, with the help of their alien neighbors.  A massive undertaking to build a replacement as time runs out, but someone has other ideas.  Someone doesn’t want the project to succeed and already tense interspecies relations are pushed to their limit.  Devin Slade, an outcast relegated to life on the surface, witnesses the destruction of a floating city housing thousands of people, alien and human alike.  Initially a suspect, he must prove his innocence while fighting to survive the hostile world around him.  Meanwhile, an undercover agent working for The Human Collective Government catches wind of a sinister plot that could mean the end of mankind. Is it possible to make a new home, with new neighbors, when forces conspire against humanities last hope?  $2.99 on Kindle.


Heirs of Power by Kay MacLeod.  After stumbling upon an otherworldly ritual, Kitty Fairlow discovers that her own incredible hunting skills are not merely due to a lifetime of training.  She’s been gifted powers from an ancient spirit, passed down by her father.  She is a Constellation.  And she’s not the only one.  A new generation of heroes have each inherited unique abilities to prevent the corruption of their world by the Tenebri, a race that thrives on life energy.  Kitty, along with a high-born dancer and a snarky juggler, must find their allies before the Tenebri army picks them off.  With the powerful enemy emerging, can the Constellations gather in time to put an end to the threat for good, or will their foe succeed and wreak the same destruction they have unleashed on their own world?  $3.90 on Kindle.


Banana Sandwich by Steve Bargdill.  “These nights are very dark.  I hear all the sounds.  My heart beat, the blood pulsing through my wrists, it is like the hollow echo broadcast from the rings of Saturn, empty and surging and crying out for someone to listen.”  Carol struggles with an inherited mental disorder.  When she decides to be better, it is the city that goes insane. Then, her ex-boyfriend murders her roommate.  To fight back, she must decide how she is to live her life.

My five minute elevator pitch for Banana Sandwich has always been that it’s a book about a bi-polar pizza delivery driver who lives in her van down by the river.  The line gets laughs, but the other day I met someone who is truly hurting from this condition, and the two-day conversation reminded me why I wrote this novel in the first place.  Any mental disorder is a hard reality to live with.  If I can bring awareness to that issue through my literature, then that is one of my goals for this book.  $4.99 on Kindle.


Wanderlost by Simon Williams.  From being trapped in a plane with broken landing gear high above the Grand Canyon, to facing arrest in Hong Kong for holding up traffic in a bathrobe, to being accosted by three aggressive locals entering a men’s washroom in New Delhi Airport, what else can go wrong on a trip?  These are one man’s enthralling stories of wandering our planet that the Travel Channel doesn’t want you to know.  Simon explains exactly what not to do when you find yourself in a hairy situation.  Nobody travels like this anymore.  Maybe for good reason.  Simon Williams doesn’t go looking for trouble in life, but when he finds it he never keeps his sarcastic mouth shut.

“Travelling – it leaves you speechless then turns you into story tellers.”  ~Ibn Battuta  $2.99 on Kindle.

And that’s 30 for this issue.  Enjoy the reading, and be sure to check in Sunday when I’ll have a special edition to celebrate my 70th birthday.  See you then!

Steampunk Trilogy for sale Cheap!


Beyond the Rails is a story with a strange beginning.  I had one of those friends who is present in your life like a comfortable old sweater, always there for the good times, and taking an immeasurable part in creating them.  He and I were both boardgamers, though he was much more hardcore than I was.  He regaled me on several occasions about a game called Dystopian Wars, a steampunk-themed war game that began as a portfolio of fleet actions between navies, and has since grown into something beyond the control of its originators.

The game came packed with extensive backstories on the various countries involved, and the first words in the Britannia section are, “After the conquest of Ireland…”  Well, my friend, being a good and proper Irishman, wasn’t going to let that pass unanswered, and he approached me with the germ of a writing project about a British journalist, one Mr. Shackleford Banks, who was hot on the trail of the real story behind the Irish campaign, and working to expose the dirty politicians who had directed it.  Banks would be having a rough time of it as he tried to track down clues while evading the attentions of the various British security services, foreign and domestic.

Then he got a promotion to a position that required a great deal of travel, off-hours work, and a number of other extracurricular activities, and for the next few years, we were barely able to work in a game every couple of months.  His project went by the wayside, but I was hooked on the punk.  Rather than commandeer his project, I moved it forty years in time and four thousand miles in space, and Beyond the Rails was born.  I didn’t set out to copy anything, though a number of readers and reviewers have noted its similarity to Firefly.  It is undeniable, and given my love of that particular series, hardly surprising, but they missed its connection to a much more obscure vehicle, Howard Hawks’ 1962 feature film, Hatari!  I was a child of a broken home, with absentee parents and bitter adults constantly at each others’ necks and mine, and at the age of 13 I saw in Hatari the family I never had.  I saw it fourteen times the week it was in my local theater, and to this day I own it and watch it a couple of times a year.

And the point of all this is that it was that world I was unconsciously trying to recreate in Beyond the Rails, a group of misfits and outcasts from the various worlds they should have occupied, coming together and forming a functional family in a backwater colony.  Facing the dangers, misfortunes, the greedy, the ignorant, and the just plain evil as they try to make their way in a harsh land, they are the family that the child I was always wanted.  It isn’t their adventures that make them special, nor the airship they live on, nor the country where they live.  It is the family they have created voluntarily and without intent that carries them through their trials.

Beyond the Rails carries a cumulative rating of 4.8 on Amazon and 4.6 on Goodreads; there are some readers out there who think I did a pretty fair job.  Now you can live the whole adventure so far for the total price of $2.97.  All three books are available now on Kindle for 99¢ each.  Get ’em while they’re hot!

View from the Blimp

… Or you can wait for them to be available free here on the website.  Regular readers will have observed a running conversation with friends over the last three installments about giving my books away, and I am I would say about 90% certain that that’s what I’m going to do.  Interestingly enough, the good folks who tried so hard to talk me out of it wound up talking me into it.  Every time someone offered a very good reason for me not to do it, I had to ponder their reasoning and try to refute it in order to assure myself that my own reasons were valid, and the more I thought about it, the more valid my reasons appeared.

To recap, I’m not making any great amount of money selling books (although I did sell two books on the third; thank you, someone!), so it seems I should at least have some readers.  I post to this blog every three days, and when I do, I link to it on my Facebook page plus several groups and websites, and that publicity brings in 15 – 40 visits per day, which I’m sure is more than my Amazon listings get in a month.  I will still publish through CreateSpace, which may generate the odd sale here and there, but more importantly will give me access to physical books that I can buy for the grandkids and give as gifts to friends, and in the meantime, anyone who pops in to my blog will be able to read my portfolio in its entirety.  I can’t find a single problem with that.

I’m not going to rush in headlong, but once I’m sure this is what I want to do, I will begin posting ALL of my work, all of it, to the tabs at the top of the page.  That won’t be done overnight, but will be an ongoing process, and eventually you’ll be able to read my thoughts and plans down here, and all my books and stories up there .  What do you think?

In Other News . . .

Cannon Publishing has put out a call for submissions in six different anthologies.  This link will take you to their flyer.  They are asking for military-themed stories, sci-fi military, and fantasy.  They don’t specify length in the flyer, but they do ask you to e-mail them your ideas and interests, so if you have a story in you that’s looking for an outlet, this could be a big opportunity.  Don’t let it pass you by!

This month, the e-book retailer Smashwords is running their annual Summer/Winter sale, which runs from July 1 through July 31.  Why summer/winter?  That’s because it’s summer here in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere!  All of Hadrosaur Productions’ titles published at Smashwords will be on sale for 50% off their retail price.  All you have to do is enter the code SSW50 at checkout.  Smashwords presents their ebooks in a variety of formats including mobi (which work on Kindles), epub (which work on Nooks), and PDF (which work on just about anything).

Interesting Reads . . .


I Villain by Marcus V. Calvert.  “My current alias is Benjamin Cly.  Just over 10 years ago, I retired from my life of violence and became a fixer – a middleman of sorts.  Clients brought me their problems.  My talented contractors ‘resolved’ them.  As long as the money was right, I worked every side of the law and didn’t think twice about it.  Until one of my biggest clients tried to set me up.  Then things went sideways.  I lost my growing criminal empire at the drop of a hat.  A lot of people started trying to kill me.  I should’ve run away and hid in some distant corner of the world.  But that’s not my style.  I don’t run.  I thrive.  And in a corrupt metropolis like Pillar City, I’ll just start a new empire.  But I can’t be a fixer again.  Nor do I want to be a mobster – this town has plenty of those.  No, I’m going to do the last thing anyone would ever expect a ‘harmless’ guy like me to do:  Become a crimefighter.  Seeing as I can steal super powers with a touch, it might be fun . . .  $3.00 on Kindle.


Dark Voyage by Helen Susan Swift.  In 1914, fear and paranoia rule the high seas.  Iain Cosgrove is newly married to Jennifer Manson, daughter of a wealthy Scottish merchant.  But when Iain leaves for a research trip aboard the Lady Balgay, last of Dundee’s once-grand sealing fleet, a mysterious chain of events is set in motion.  Fueled by rum and the eerie tales of the crew, they obsess over ancient superstitions, which Iain dismisses as simple lore…  until they reach the frigid Arctic seas.  After a string of tragic accidents, Iain begins to question his beliefs.  Then, the ship discovers two castaways – one of them a mysterious woman – and events take a sinister turn.  $3.99 on Kindle.


Moon, I Revolt by Brian Barr.  July 1969, we watched the Apollo 11 blast off into space and land on the moon… but what if there was a second ship?  This is the classified story of the Freedom 8, and two of its passengers — siblings Jimmy and Hannah Wallace and their otherworldly experiences that have remained a mystery to this day.  99¢ on Kindle.

And that’s 30 for today.  Visit again next Wednesday when I’ll be featuring another talented friend.  Until then, read well, and write better!

The Quest for Original Fantasy

And what might “Original Fantasy” be, you ask?  Quite simply, fantastic stories of swordsmen and sorcerers, of mighty quests, of everyman heroes in search of the impossible without a hint of Tolkien.  Without a mention of dwarves, elves, or orcs to be seen anywhere, with no rhyming prophecies or anonymous kings living in exile as rough-edged woodsmen.  Just people, some ordinary, some perhaps a cut above, standing in stoic defiance of forces beyond their mortal ken.

Don’t in any way misunderstand me.  I yield to no one in my love of Tolkien and his epic Ring odyssey.  My future wife came equipped with a set of hardbound second editions back in 1975.  That was my first encounter, and I fell in love for life with the incredible world he created.  I read them cover-to-cover, then read them aloud to her, then read them again to our children.  I sat enthralled through every treatment, from the Rankin-Bass television specials through Ralph Bakshi’s bizarre vision to Peter Jackson’s instant classic trilogy, and have never disliked any version.  I actually have an incomplete novel (no current plans to revisit it) resplendent with dwarves, elves, and though not orcs, villainous versions of all three of the others.  But in this case, we’re talking about the alternative.


Alternatives exist, to be sure, and I’m here to offer one.  The Stone Seekers is the story of a colony of outcasts in a hostile land who are robbed of an artifact that literally allows them to live around the bay they precariously cling to.  They know who took it and they know where to find them, but if every man, woman, and child took up arms and marched on the thieves, they haven’t the power to overcome them.  So they select two champions, a man and a woman with very complementary skills, to venture into the very jaws of evil and recover by stealth what cannot be taken by force.

This is my longest work to date, 369 pages of action-packed adventure, and like all of my work, it is for sale on Kindle for 99¢.

View from the Blimp

Well, last Friday I somewhat prematurely suggested that I might consider ending my writing career.  The comments section went insane, generating a number of responses unlikely to be approached again until I’m on a best-seller list somewhere, and I feel another word or two might be in order.  If I hang up my quill, and that is a big if, it won’t be until months after The Darklighters is completed, and only then if certain very precise conditions are met.  I am flattered by the show of support, but it’s far too early to worry about this now.  If it looks like it may be coming to pass, I’ll invite commentary probably after Christmas, but there’s far too much track between here and there to be worrying about that particular switch at this point.

But now that I think about it, here’s a little idea that just came to me.  I clearly stated in Friday’s post that it isn’t about the money, I just want to be read, and that is absolutely true.  How would it play if I just forget about all this publishing and marketing nonsense, and put all my work up on this site for free?  Find a title you like, click the tab, and read.  I could continue to blog, and promote my writing friends, and all that stress and hassle would evaporate into thin air.  This would become your one-stop shop for all things Tyler.  What do you think?

Finally, I’ve read a most interesting novella over the last couple of days.  It’s called Being Joe, and with a title like that, you might get the idea that it’s akin to Angela’s Ashes and the like.  If you’ve been riding the blimp long enough to know me, though, you know that that’s as far from my reading style as it gets.  I posted a review on my other blog, Jack’s Hideout, and some material about its author as well.  Slip on over and take a different kind of ride!

In Other News…


Karen J. Carlisle, the talented author responsible for the Viola Stewart series, the Department of Curiosities, and Aunt Enid has announced an upcoming Secret Project.  This is the clue, and the release is imminent, so check in at Karen J. Carlisle and get ready to party!  While you’re there you can sign up for her newsletter, Tea and Tidings, and don’t miss N.O.A. Rawle’s review of Aunt Enid, either; it’s really worth a read… the book and the blog!

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A new anthology has been announced for the fantasy genre.  Short stories are being accepted at  Don’t let the name throw you off, they aren’t after horror in this one, but fantasy works of 3- to 6,000 words with a generally uplifting theme.  The submission deadline is November 1st, and the pay for accepted stories is $300 plus royalties.  All the particulars are available at the link above, so sharpen your pencils and put on your wizard hats!


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Over at the website Peak Story Reviews, our friend B.K. Bass is running a monthly feature in which he explains a sub-genre or niche style, then offers up an original story written in that style.  This month he looks at Magepunk, a style combining technology and magic, and thrills readers with Crimson Storm, a tale of pirates and airships and things…


Interesting Reads


War’s End: The Storm by Christine Shuck.  “What was left in the wreckage of the world that was?  We were.  And this is our story, my story, and the story of us all.” – Jess’s Journal.  In the day after tomorrow, after the socioeconomic collapse of the United States, one young girl fights for survival.  Violently ripped from her family, abused and now pregnant, Jess must somehow survive while fleeing those who pursue her.  Jess must come to peace with the life growing inside her as she struggles to return home.  $3.99 on Kindle.


The Haunting of the Hockomock Swamp by H.E. Kline.  “Radiating from the ground, she sensed the Indians’ spirits and great suffering.”  Against the beautiful backdrop of the largest swamp in Southeastern Massachusetts, a captivating tale of mystery, magic, and murder that will keep you on the edge of your seat – heart pounding and looking over your shoulder – as you read The Haunting of Hockomock Swamp!  Based on local legend, this tale is not for the faint of heart, but scared or not, you’ll love the thrills and chills that accompany this paranormal romance.  Hordes of young children suffering the unthinkable.  A bewildering investigation.  Janie Williams is living her dream as a newbie investigative reporter until she finds herself intrigued by a three-century old Native American shapeshifter who is a terror to behold and is wreaking havoc.  As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, she falls head over heels with her crazy sexy hot heart-of-gold mentor Alan Needle.  But what Janie could never imagine is that her efforts to solve this mystery will uncover the deepest betrayal, blood, and tragedy America has ever seen.  99¢ on Kindle.


Aunt Nora’s Cleaning Service by Linda M. Scott.  Aunt Nora had a beautiful teenage daughter, full of life, who was raped and murdered.  After the death of her daughter she tried to find closure by joining support groups, but nothing seemed to fill that void or ease the pain that she was feeling.  One day she decided to orchestrate her own support group, one that had nothing to do with standing up and sharing feelings.  Instead her group of like-minded individuals believed in one result for rapist and pedophiles and one result only: DEATH.  $2.99 on Kindle.

And that’s 30 for this issue.  Join me Thursday for the promised look at using spreadsheets to track your plots.  Until then, read well, and write better!