As part of the Smashwords Summer Sale, The Lair of the Twelve Princesses is 50% off for the whole month of July! The price is set in at Amazon; for other formats, you’ll need to hit its book page on Smashwords to get the coupon. (Want to use Smashwords to pick up a Kindle-friendly format, such as .mobi, and put it on your Kindle? Here’s how.)

If you’re also participating, put a link in the comments so we can all check out your work!


Bay has nothing to show for her years of military service but the clothes on her back, a bad leg, and a sardonic imp in a bottle who’s more harm than help. When she hears an open call for bodyguards for the twelve headstrong princesses, she thinks the job could reverse her fortunes. Unfortunately, her new charges are under a nightly curse, and everyone seems determined to keep the details a mystery–including its victims.

Luckily, Bay has a trick up her sleeve. Her imp owes her three wishes, and is desperate to grant them. She’s been hoarding his magic for an emergency, but it might be time to cash in: according to a fine-print clause in her contract, if she cannot solve the princesses’ curse in three nights, she’ll be executed the following dawn.

This 9000-word novelette first appeared in InterGalactic Medicine Show in January 2012. Cover elements by Jessica Truscott and Jeannie Ann Numos.

(I’m not saying I’ve also got a small, free collection of zombie stories over there too…but I’m not saying I don’t.)


Lair of the Twelve Princesses on Amazon

Suddenly, Zombies on Amazon

Good news, everyone! World Weaver Press’s latest anthology, Fae, is gearing up for release. Here’s the cover!

FAE coverMeet Robin Goodfellow as you’ve never seen him before, watch damsels in distress rescue themselves, get swept away with the selkies and enjoy tales of hobs, green men, pixies and phookas. One thing is for certain, these are not your grandmother’s fairy tales. Fairies have been both mischievous and malignant creatures throughout history. They’ve dwelt in forests, collected teeth or crafted shoes. Fae is full of stories that honor that rich history while exploring new and interesting takes on the fair folk from castles to computer technologies and modern midwifing, the Old World to Indianapolis. Fae covers a vast swath of the fairy story spectrum, making the old new and exploring lush settings with beautiful prose and complex characters. Enjoy the familiar feeling of a good old-fashioned fairy tale alongside urban fantasy and horror with a fae twist.

With an introduction by Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman, and new stories from Sidney Blaylock Jr., Amanda Block, Kari Castor, Beth Cato, Liz Colter, Rhonda Eikamp, Lor Graham, Alexis A. Hunter, L.S. Johnson, Jon Arthur Kitson, Adria Laycraft, Lauren Liebowitz, Christine Morgan, Shannon Phillips, Sara Puls, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, and Kristina Wojtaszek.

If you’ve been following me on Twitter for more than a year or so, you already know that the European Song Contest, Eurovision, makes me happier than anything else on earth. Wall-to-wall Europop punctuated by backflips and fountains of fire and clowns–it’s upbeat and theatrical, both awesome and ridiculous. This year, my sister Megan Engelhardt watched the promo videos for the competitors ahead of the finals this Saturday. Here’s her take on this year’s batch. With, of course, links so you can judge for yourself.

Eurovision: First Thoughts

Megan Engelhardt

Sweden – Stand and sing. Pleasant enough, catchy, but still.

Moldova – This sounds like it should be in the musical Jekyll and Hyde. The video is overly dramatic. Are those dancers airbending?

Estonia – The song is just OK but I dig the dancing. Surprisingly low voice.

Latvia<3! The guy needs a haircut. His band is totes adorbs. I bet that’s his hometown singing with him. These guys won’t win but I love them anyway.

Poland – I think the video having old people is making me not hate this, but removing the old people would tip it over. Hubband thought it was about “Slutty girls”, not “Slavic girls”, lol.

France – This is very un-France, haha. The chorus is “I wanna have a moustache.” Wut France? This looks like an 80s music video!

Portugal – Woo, salsa! Hubband: “I like the song better than the performance of it.” I dig the drum/flag guys and the painted bongo guy.

Belgium – Mine ex nihilo! I like this song! Not sure what the dancer is doing. Appropriate for Mother’s Day, n’est-ce pas? D’awww, was that his mom in the audience?

Norway – Pretty song! Plaintive, pleasant. Will probably go on my “melancholy” playlist.

Switzerland – Peppy! I love songs that go Acapulco except claps. Cute.

Austria – The big flap is that the singer is a drag performer. The sad thing is he’s a prettier woman than I am. Not terribly impressed with the song. Sounds like it’s trying to be a Bond theme.

Finland – Had me tapping my toes right off the bat.

Ukraine – Also kind of 80s music video ish. Catchy but not overly so.

Netherlands – Folksy with a nice driving beat. A low-key sound. Not a winner but I’ll keep it on my playlist.

Albania – Torn on this one. It’ll take a few listens to decide if I like it or if it grates on me. At the end she’s rocking out far harder than the song requires.

Malta – Well, I like this one. Also soldier music videos get me. Sweet dulcimer. They may have a chance on sentimentality and musicality.

Azerbaijan - Just singing. Meh. Bored.

Armenia – Bookies’ choice to win. We can’t see why. It’s OK but I wouldn’t say the best of the lot.

San Marino – host piano! Also, Valentina love, 3 years at Eurovision? Really? San Marino is small, though. Maybe they only have the one singer. TO be fair, this isn’t terrible. Also kind of Bond-film-esque.

Iceland – Picking up the ska sound from Moldova, but not successfully. To be honest, though, this will probably get a fair bit of play from me. And they look like they’re having fun.

Denmark – Hosts this year. This is pretty dang fun. I think he’s channeling Michael Jackson and Bruno Mars.

Spain – Fun dancing. Pleasant song but not outstanding.

Italy – Lady Gaga? Not interesting, anyway. This song seems SO long.

Belarus – This guy needs slapped. I appreciate that he knows it, though. I kinda like his pouty chick, at least until the end. I will probably skip this on the playlist.

Greece – I feel betrayed. The horns provided a good sound and then there was rapping. L Sad, because if it wasn’t for the rap this would be a funky song.

Georgia – This is strange. I could have used less weird chanting in the beginning but I liked it once actual singing happened.

Montenegro – I always dislike Montenegro’s entry but this is not terrible! Pleasant, even! You redeemed yourself form last year, Montenego.

Hungary – This video made me feel sick to my stomach, which was probably the point. I will probably skip this one because of that, which is not to say it’s bad. I just can’t handle it.

Romania – Magic girl! That is awesome! The song is not terrible and kinda catchy.

Ireland – Boring video, nice song. It will probably be a stand and sin, alas. I do like the song, though.

Israel – Sassy! Driving beat. Fun song. I hope the sword is part of the stage show.

Lithuania – They need to spice up the stage show, but the song is fun. I dig the chorus.

UK – I actually think they have a chance this year! Catching song, pretty fun singable chorus.

FYR Macedonia – Weirdly, I feel like I’ve heard this before. Maybe like Rihanna’s Diamonds, or the Steam Powered Giraffe version, at least.

Russia – Twins! Hubband says “I prefer Jedward.” They should do some wacky twin hijinks to spice up a perfectly pleasant but not outstanding song.

Germany – What a cute weird band! I dig this song a fair bit.

Slovenia – Always love a flute player. Lots of dancing this year. Song is OK, not great but not terrible.

Everyone’s writing goals are different, but I think it’s safe to assume we all want to be productive and happy. Easier said than done. Last year, I asked Twitter two big questions: “What motivates your writing–what helps you be and stay productive?” and “What encourages your writing–when do you feel good about your writing and yourself as a writer?” Twitter is pretty smart, cumulatively, and I got some terrific answers. Funnily enough, those answers boiled down into three major “types”.

Now, a quiz. Pick the phrase you are most likely to say.

“I got so much writing done today! Thank goodness for

A) that deadline at the end of the week–it gave me the push I needed!”

B) that new idea I got–I couldn’t wait to see it on paper!”

C) that writing conference–it really got me fired up!”

“I had a great writing day!

A) I made a huge dent in my work in progress!”

B) I wrote the best scene–I’m still laughing!”

C) I got some great feedback!”

“Guys, I suck at writing.

A) I haven’t written anything new for a month, and missed an open submissions window.”

B) All my words are dead on the page and my characters are boring me.”

C) None of my beta readers are getting back to me, and I got a mean review.”

Tally your scores! Most people who talked to be about their motivation and encouragement fell into one of three broad mindsets, which I’m calling the Striving, the Story, and the Social profile.

All or Mostly A’s: Striving

These writers reported being motivated by: “hunger”, “deadlines”, “filling in the blanks.” Their encouragements were things like: “having written”, “hitting a goal”, “getting paid.” Sample responses:

feeling of accomp when I finish a scene/thing – just that it’s done — I finished a thing, and there it is, and even if it’s bad I could let it loose in the world

Knowing I have written is the reward for writing.

to be honest i get encouragement even from writing what turns out later to be crap. i always feel like it’s great @ the time…

Encouraged by sales, money and being TOC with great authors.

All or Mostly B’s: Story

These writers said they were motivated by things like “exciting ideas”, “a concept I can’t ignore”, “great new characters.” They were encouraged by “expressing a scene just the way I envision.” Sample responses:

Fun when it’s going well

Finding my work to be something I’d want to read

My positivity is all thanks to characters.

Enjoying what I’ve written and being able to picture the scenes (either written or upcoming) in my head

All or Mostly C’s: Social

These writers said they were motivated by “community”, “accountability”, “sharing the story”. They reported being encouraged by “feedback”, “getting it out to readers”. Sample responses:

getting good feedback that helps me grow as a writer

knowing others will read them helps too

Encouragement you get from other people, friends and colleges. You can’t do that either unless you have work to be commented on

I love it when people say they like something I’ve written. So, having a story get published and kinda disappear without a trace is a bummer.

All three profiles are capable of producing great stories. Almost everyone cares about all three things, but one tends to dominate. Identifying your motivation-encouragement profile is all about getting things done and feeling good about yourself.

So you know your motivation-encouragement profile: what now? Well, it can help you identify the source of a block, and what you can do about it. Striving writers can set a low goal, and trust their momentum to carry them from there. Story writers might skip ahead to a scene that’s really grabbing them. Social writers can find a reader who’ll enthusiastically push them for the next part of the story.

If you’re a mix of profiles and you’re having trouble, think about what’s lacking right now. Something to work toward? A great idea? A reader? Work through the possibilities, and you might land on something that gets you going.

For me, the biggest benefit of discovering these profiles was learning how to better encourage other writers! Someone complaining about a lack of feedback won’t be comforted by being reminded how much they wrote today. If we can learn to motivate and encourage each other in the ways that work for them, we all get closer to being productive, happy writers. Mission accomplished.

Have you thought about what motivates and encourages your writing? What’s your motivation-encouragement profile?

Over the past few weeks I’ve pulled together two zombie stories I wrote for hilariously specific themed anthologies, talentlessly iterated a cover, added a bonus drabble from way back in the day, and boom: thar she blows in the Kindle store.


Two Things was written for Zombonauts (because zombies in space!) and was the first proper-length short story I ever sold. Just recently, Wily Writers produced it for audio, so you can give it a listen.

Escape From Ape City was written for Zombie Kong (because GIANT ZOMBIE GORILLAS), in which my sister Megan Engelhardt also appeared*. My schtick was to never truncate “giant zombie gorillas”; it’s the whole phrase, every single time, because it busts me up and also because they paid me by the word. There’s also some Jazz-Age banter, sweeping action, and romance, but let’s face it, the giant zombie gorillas are the stars here.

So cover to cover, it’s pretty silly. For a while the tagline on my website was “writes dark fiction and light horror.” This is the light horror part. If you’re gonna end the world, you might as well enjoy it.

Zombies in space! Giant zombie gorillas! When life gets weird, all you can do is stick by your friends and hang on to your brains. Amanda C. Davis dishes out two short stories from the lighter side of the zombocalypse.

*The conversation went: “DID YOU SEE THE GIANT ZOMBIE GORILLA THING” “WE HAVE TO GET IN ON THIS” “YES WE DO” That both our stories came out as pulpy historical adventure is, however, coincidence.

(Here’s a free zombie piece that was called “simultaneously eerie and funny”: Untouchable.)

(Check it out, Suddenly, Zombies is now available on Smashwords.)

Two Things, a space-horror-comedy, has been reprinted and recorded by Wily Writers, free to read and/or listen to, here:

This is the first full-length story of mine that saw print (ink-and-paper), so I’m thrilled to see it get a second wind. Let’s be honest: a) it’s Shawn of the Dead in space and b) that’s awesome.

If podcasts and audio books are your thing, you can check out Wily Writers’ archive of stories at the main site.

Other recordings of my stories (and one poem) are linked over at my Listen Free page.

Petals and Thorns by Jeffe Kennedy Wolves-and-Witches-Cover_300 The Worth of a Shell by M. C. A. Hogarth Near and Far by Cat Rambo lairofthetwelveprincesses300 The Eighth Succession by Don Sakers Eyes Like Sky and Coal and Moonlight by Cat Rambo Pasionate Overture: Master of the Opera by Jeffe Kennedy

This week only! A bunch of SFWA authors are knocking down the prices on their e-books. Here are eight books for three bucks or less, covering all kinds of sci-fi and fantasy, short and long form–something for everybody, as long as everybody likes SFF and awesome things.

Petals and ThornsJeffe Kennedy

In exchange for her father’s life, Amarantha agrees to marry the dreadful Beast and be his wife for seven days. Though the Beast cannot take Amarantha’s virginity unless she begs him to, he can and does take her in every other way. From the moment they are alone together, the Beast relentlessly strips Amarantha of all her resistance.

Wolves and WitchesAmanda C. Davis and Megan Engelhardt

Witches have stories too. So do mermaids, millers’ daughters, princes (charming or otherwise), even big bad wolves. They may be a bit darker–fewer enchanted ball gowns, more iron shoes. Happily-ever-after? Depends on who you ask. In Wolves and Witches, sisters Amanda C. Davis and Megan Engelhardt weave sixteen stories and poems out of familiar fairy tales, letting them show their teeth. Sample the contents here.

The Worth of a ShellM.C.A. Hogarth

Born to a harsh world, we Jokka have evolved three sexes to survive: neuter, male and female. Twice in our lives we may change from one to another. A change we accept with grace… or resignation. It was our way. …until one female defied all tradition: Dlane Ashoi-anadi, revolutionary, intentionally childless, runaway.

This is not her story.

This is mine.

Near + FarCat Rambo

Whether set in terrestrial oceans or on far-off space stations, Cat Rambo’s masterfully told stories explore themes of gender, despair, tragedy, and the triumph of both human and non-human alike. Cats talk, fur wraps itself around you, aliens overstay their welcome, and superheroes deal with everyday problems. Rambo has been published in Asimov’s, Weird Tales, and among many others. She was an editor for Fantasy Magazine, has written numerous nonfiction articles and interviews, and has volunteered time with Broad Universe and Clarion West. She has been shortlisted for the Endeavour Award, the Million Writers Award, the Locus Awards, and most recently a World Fantasy Award.

The Lair of the Twelve PrincessesAmanda C. Davis

Bay has nothing to show for her years of military service but the clothes on her back, a bad leg, and a sardonic imp in a bottle who’s more harm than help. When she hears an open call for bodyguards for the twelve headstrong princesses, she thinks the job could reverse her fortunes. Unfortunately, her new charges are under a nightly curse, and everyone seems determined to keep the details a mystery–including its victims.

The Eighth SuccessionDon Sakers

In the tradition of the Theodore Sturgeon and James H. Schmitz, a new tale of galactic intrigue and adventure . . . Rikk Hoister is the first of new breed of cloned, paranormal geniuses, able to defeat the Imperial Navy with his mind alone, bound only by a rigid sense of ethics . . .  His cousin Yewanda is equally powerful, and also able to teleport herself anywhere. She’s innocent, inexperienced . . . and just six years old. When Yewanda sets out on her own to visit Rikk, the galaxy better watch out!

Eyes Like Sky and Coal and MoonlightCat Rambo

A collection of fantasy short stories by Cat Rambo. Includes “Her Eyes Like Sky and Coal and Moonlight,” “The Accordion,” “Magnificent Pigs,” “Narrative of a Beast’s Life,” “Sugar,” “The Dead Girl’s Wedding March,” “In Order to Conserve,” “The Towering Monarch of His Race,” “I’ll Gnaw Your Bones, the Manticore Said,” “Eagle-haunted Lake Sammamish,” “Heart In a Box,” “In the Lesser Southern Isles,” “Up the Chimney,” “The Silent Familiar,” “Events at Fort Plenitude,” “Dew Drop Coffee Lounge,” “A Key Decides Its Destiny,” “Rare Pears and Greengages,” “A Twine of Flame,” and “Grandmother’s Road Trip” (only available in the e-version). Also includes author’s notes and a chronology of Tabat.

Master of the Opera, Act 1: Passionate OvertureJeffe Kennedy

In the first tantalizing installment of Jeffe Kennedy’s ravishing serial novel Master of the Opera, an innocent young woman is initiated into a sensual world of music, mystery, passion–and one man’s private obsession. . .


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