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boosting the signal

Boosting the Signal

Effective immediately: Boosting the Signal coming out of hiatus

Given the political events of this week, I find myself moved to pull Boosting the Signal back out of hiatus. So, effective immediately, I am now open for submissions as outlined on the Boosting the Signal page.

I will continue to accept submissions from channels I have had open before: Carina Press authors, NIWA, the Here Be Magic crowd, authors I personally know, etc.

But moving forward, I am especially interested in submissions for progressive fiction of any stripe. If you’re a QUILTBAG author and you have some work to share, I want to hear from you.

As always, Boosting the Signal is a promotional column, not a review column. It is an opportunity for authors to get creative with putting out some hooks to interest potential readers. As such, you are not obligated to send me a copy of your work, but I will certainly not turn down free ebooks if they are offered. (I encourage you to keep print copies for reviewers, though!)

Any questions, talk to me.

Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: The Void, by Timothy S. Johnston

Straight-up SF is a rarity in the Carina Press catalogue, and so I’m pleased to give some signal boosting help to Timothy S. Johnston, who’s been writing the SF thriller miniseries The Tanner Sequence. Book Three of this, The Void, releases on March 30th. And his protagonist, homicide investigator Kyle Tanner, has a very clear and very urgent goal: escape.


The Void

The Void

Lt. Kyle Tanner, Homicide Section, Security Division, CCF
2403 AD

They say in our society that if you just follow the rules and shut up, everything will be fine.

No one gets hurt.

No one dies.

No one’s hauled away for days of torture, the worst part of which is watching your own family slaughtered.

Just shut up and obey.

It’s easier said than done.

You see, when abuse of power is going on all around you every single day, it can get to you. You start to fantasize about what you could do. How you could hurt them. How you could make them pay for the things they’ve done. But most important, you start to plan. What would it take to get away from them? To just … run?

The military rules the human race now. They control every aspect of our society. From art to commerce to travel. It’s the most restrictive time in the history of humanity.

The fact that I’m a lieutenant in the military doesn’t exactly make it easy for me. I try to tell myself that at least I’m doing some good. At least I’m helping people, helping families.

But they don’t really seem to care either. It’s understandable. After all, they’re in survival mode too. They just don’t want to get noticed for saying or thinking the wrong things. That would be bad.

I’m a homicide investigator. I try to set things right, to give families closure. It’s how I get some peace of mind in this life. But when civilians see me coming, wearing the jet-black uniform of the Confederate Combined Forces, it wrenches at their guts. They don’t see a savior.

They see a killer.

I want to run. I want to get out of this crazy society.

The fact that I’m an officer will help, along with the fact that on this final mission I have a way out.

“Transport this serial killer to Alpha Centauri,” my Commanding Officer had ordered me. “Take this ship — it’s a two week trip each way.”

Now they’ve given me a way to escape. My lover Shaheen wants to run too. She wants to get on that jumpship with me and just cruise into the dark loneliness of deep space. Disappear together.

But if I decide to run, I know they’ll follow.

They’ll hunt me down until I’m dead.

But I have to try.

I can’t handle this life anymore.

But I can hear them screaming in my head right now.

Run, Tanner. Run.

We’ll be right behind you.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Leaves of Flame, by Joshua Palmatier

As I promised in the Boosting the Signal post for Well of Sorrows, here’s the companion post for Book 2 of the series, Leaves of Flame! And since this is Book 2 of the series, the Colin of this book has far different goals than the Colin of Book 1. As you can see in the piece Joshua has sent me for this book! Enjoy!


Leaves of Flame

Leaves of Flame

I wanted to thank Angela Korra’ti for the chance to signal boost my novel LEAVES OF FLAME, the second in the series, here at the blog. This is an epic fantasy, with the first book called WELL OF SORROWS (available now) and the third book, BREATH OF HEAVEN, written but not yet released. Here’s a little scene featuring Colin, the main character, and what’s motivating him in LEAVES OF FLAME. If it piques your interest, then check out the books, available from Baen in ebook format, and on the Kindle and Nook. Hope you enjoy!


The White Fire of Aielan’s Light burned bright and cold in the depths of the mountains of the Alvritshai. The flames licked upwards from the stone, without source, tendrils brushing the ceiling, acting exactly like a regular fire, but silent and a pure white that caused Colin’s eyes to ache as he stared at them, entranced. But if the Alvritshai knew he was here, inside their most sacred shrine—if they knew his purpose—

He shook himself, then knelt, pulling his backpack from his shoulders and setting it on the floor. From within, he drew out a bundle of cloth, which he laid on the floor, shoving the pack aside. He tugged the cloth aside, revealing a length of heartwood, gifted to him by the forest itself, as long as his arm. It had been soaking in the waters of the Lifeblood for years in preparation for today. Tonight, he intended to forge it in the white flame, in Aielan’s Light. He needed to imbue the heartwood with the fire’s protective power. He hoped that the Lifeblood would give it the wood the strength to survive the forging process.

And if he succeeded . . . if he succeeded, then the three races of the New World—human, Alvritshai, and dwarren—might have a chance against the destructive darkness of the Wraiths and the Shadows.

Reaching forward, he grasped the length of heartwood, felt a pulse of response from deep inside as it recognized him, recognized the power that flowed through him, and then he stood. Holding it before him, he closed his eyes and gathered himself before stepping into the white flames. They wrapped around him, enfolded him in their cold silence, seeping into him, judging him. He’d stepped into their fires before, been judged, so now he reached out into the fire’s presence, formed his intent in his mind and beseeched the fire to help him.

The races needed protection. The Shadows had awoken, had learned to expand their influence beyond the prison of the Well within the forest. They were a plague upon the land, led by Walter and those that had been turned by the Lifeblood to their cause—led by the Wraiths. The races were vulnerable, were being attacked on every side as the Shadows fed upon them. They and the Wraiths needed to be stopped. They needed to be destroyed. They needed to be imprisoned again. And only Colin could do it. But he needed the Lifeblood and the Fire and the permission of the forest. He needed their sanction.

And so he asked, and permission was given. The forest provided the heartwood, the vessel, and the bane to keep the Shadows and Wraiths at bay. The Lifeblood provided the healing, the strength to sustain the warding for decades, for longer if necessary. And the Fire provided the soul, the consciousness to recognize those tainted by the Well.

He felt that consciousness seeping into the heartwood. Reaching forward, he guided it with purpose, felt it take form, felt it merge with the heartwood, with the Lifeblood, combine into something more. But it needed power. It needed to last, and so he forced more and more of the flame into the wood. It surged through his body, throbbed from his fingers into the wood, until the wood was engorged. Yet it needed more. If it were to last, it needed more, and so he let the flow continue, until he felt the heartwood trembling beneath his grip, until his arms began to shake. He fell to his knees, tears streaming down his face, gasping, the Fire around him billowing higher in utter silence—

And then the heartwood split beneath his fingers with a shivering hiss and exploded.

Crying out, he stumbled back out of the flame and collapsed to his side. Lifting himself up, he roared in defiance, hands clenching into fists over the splinters of wood that remained, then sagged forward into hitching, frustrated sobs.

An hour later, he picked himself up and gathered together his pack. He stood staring at the White Fire of Aielan, jaw set, teeth clenched. He would have to try again. And again and again and again, if necessary. Because the three races still needed protection from the Shadows and the Wraiths. Because they were still dying by their hands, by Walter’s hand. And no one understood how devastating the Shadows and Wraiths could be. Would be. Because no one, other than Walter and the Wraiths, had drunk from the Well and knew its insidious power besides Colin.

And he meant to stop them, even if it meant sacrificing his own humanity to do it.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Well of Sorrows, by Joshua Palmatier

I don’t often do Boosting the Signal posts for books that have been released via traditional publishing–but for Joshua Palmatier, I’m making an exception! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Joshua a couple of times, and more importantly, I’ve had the pleasure of reading his book Well of Sorrows. (You can find my review of same here.) The problem? Not enough people have had the same pleasure. When Well of Sorrows was released, his publisher had, due to prior sales numbers, asked him to release the book under a pen name, Benjamin Tate. Now that series has a new home at Baen, and the first two books of the series have been re-released under the Joshua Palmatier name. If they sell well enough, Baen will release Book 3. And I’m here to tell you: if you like epic fantasy, give this series a look. Joshua’s here today to introduce you to his character Colin! And stand by–a post is coming for Book 2, Leaves of Flame, too!


Well of Sorrows

Well of Sorrows

I wanted to thank Angela Korra’ti for the chance to signal boost my novel WELL OF SORROWS here at the blog. This is an epic fantasy series, with the sequel called LEAVES OF FLAME (also available now) and the third book, BREATH OF HEAVEN, written but not yet released. Here’s a little scene featuring Colin, the main character, and what’s motivating him at the beginning of WELL OF SORROWS. If it piques your interest, then check out the books, available from Baen in ebook format, and on the Kindle and Nook. Hope you enjoy!


Colin chucked a rock at the chunk of driftwood bobbing in the ocean waves along the strand near Portstown. It missed, plopping into the waves shushing onto the pebble beach. He reached for another, but heard Karen calling, “Colin?” from behind him.


He waved and she headed toward him, the breeze coming off the water flinging her hair behind her. He couldn’t help but smile as she settled down onto the salt-bleached log beside him, grabbing her own handful of stones.

“Have you heard?” she asked, excitement threading through her voice as she threw her first rock. “They’re going to send everyone in Lean-to out onto the plains to form a new settlement! My father’s already packing up our things. What little we have.”

“I know. My father’s the one they want to lead the expedition.” He should be more excited. They’d traveled across the Arduon Ocean to the New World, leaving Andover and the brewing Feud between the Families behind, only to discover that the feud had already spread to the newly discovered continent. The land of freedom and opportunity had been anything but, the age-old prejudices alive and thriving here.

The new expedition would give Colin’s family—and all of those in Lean-to—the chance to escape it all, to head into the unexplored plains to the west in their covered wagons and create a new beginning for themselves, one without the Families looming over them. Some of the Portstown representatives would be with them, of course, and the trading company that was funding the settlement, but it wouldn’t be like living in Portstown.

If you could call it living.

And he’d be rid of the governor’s bastard son, Walter. Colin rolled his shoulders, still aching from his stint at the pillory. His skin felt tight from the sunburn, pulsing with its own heat, but the pain was fading.

Karen lobbed another stone and they both heard it knock hard into the wood. She cried out in delight, leaping up and dancing in the sand before dropping back down beside him in laughter. It faded into gasps, then settled into steady breathing as they both stared out over the dark water sparkling with sunlight.

“Maybe this is what my father needs,” Karen finally said, her previous exuberance tainted with faint sorrow. “You know, to get over my mother’s and sister’s deaths on the ship.”

He twined his fingers in hers. “It will help. I’m certain of it.”

She smiled and squeezed his hand, then abruptly stood, pulling him up after her. She was taller than he was, and half the time he didn’t know what to say to her, but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered except getting her, her father, and his mother and father away from this gods-forsaken town and its bitter governor. Even if it meant heading onto the plains, where anything could be waiting for them.

“There’s so much we need to do,” Karen said, dragging him toward the blade-grass that lined the beach, toward the ramshackle Lean-to built by the refugees from Andover that the governor wanted nothing to do with. “So much to plan, to pack.”

She pulled him up the dune and stood tall at the top, staring out over the rumpled land that spread out to the horizon, her face lit from within by a desperate hope. Colin saw that hope and felt his chest filling with a hard determination. This was their chance. This was what they’d been waiting for. The governor had tried to beat it out of them, had tried to force them to leave Portstown, but they’d held on. And now…

Now he’d been forced to give them what they wanted. And there, at the top of that dune, Colin vowed to himself that he’d do everything he could to keep Karen and his own family safe, that he’d protect them as they forged out onto those plains and started fresh. He’d protect them no matter what.

Even with his life.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Chaos Station, by Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen

One of the reasons I signed on with Carina Press for the Rebels of Adalonia trilogy was their willingness to publish same-sex fiction. Bonus if it’s SF–like Chaos Station, the new release by author team Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen! Even more bonus when a character named Julian is involved. As y’all know, I do like me some Julians! But Jenn and Kelly’s Julian is rather more of a clotheshound than mine. I can hear Nine-fingered Rab coveting his wardrobe now. And as for what this Julian wants, he definitely appears to be a man with acquisition on his mind.


Chaos Station

Chaos Station

Julian pulled at his shirt cuffs until an even centimeter of fabric peeked out on either side. The satiny gold offset the blue of his suit perfectly. It was a very particular blue—like the light captured within an arc of electricity. The smart fibers embedded in the material added just enough shine. He would stand out in this suit. He would be a commanding presence.

It was a pity the only notice he might attract would be the scruffy crew of that most annoying corvette. What did they call it again? The Chaos? Who in their right mind would christen a ship with anarchy!

Breath whistled between his lips. Julian shut his mouth and adjusted his cuffs again, aware the strain across his shoulders had pulled them askew. Then he tweaked the collar of his shirt to make sure the deep vee aligned with the point of his pendant. He caressed the solid gold cocoon and it warmed beneath his touch. When he let it flop back against his abundant thatch of chest hair, the heat was pleasant against his skin.

He was no uncouth mercenary. He was a man of substance and stature. He would not be bested by a ragtag team of bounty hunters. They couldn’t even dress sensibly. Well, the one… The tall, dark and handsome one. Zander Anatolius. He obviously had taste, but he’d been keeping the wrong company. He did not belong aboard a ship like the Chaos. No, a man of his pedigree had a much greater worth. A much greater value. With those skills and that name…

A slow smile stretched his mouth. Yes. Emma might have seemed like a prize, but she had merely been his entry ticket. And now it was time to cash her in.

He checked his reflection one more time and took a moment to admire what he saw. A man had to dress for success, did he not? What lay beneath might count for something, but when it came to first impressions, surely clothes made the man.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Going Against Type, by Sharon Black

I don’t often get queries for Boosting the Signal from authors I don’t already know–but this one came to me from Sharon Black, who approached me asking for help promoting her debut romantic comedy. “But Anna,” I hear you cry, “you don’t read contemporary romance!” That’s true, usually. But I’ll cheerfully say that a) she did catch my interest talking about how this one’s set at a newspaper, and I do have a personal history involving newspaper employment, b) Ireland is always a win, and c) her cover’s rather adorable. So let me turn this over to Sharon’s protagonist Charlie, who’d like to have a word with you all! Because she’s definitely a girl with some goals.


Going Against Type

Going Against Type


Dear reader,

My name is Charlotte. My friends and colleagues at the paper usually call me Charlie, so you can too. I’m a 29 year old Dublin girl. Most importantly, I’m a sports reporter for a national Irish newspaper, Ireland Today.

Which isn’t easy. I mean, the work is fine. Better than fine. It’s great. I adore sports. Even wanted to be a professional soccer player, until I injured myself. And I’m not afraid to go after the big stories. I’m surrounded by men—they do dominate sports reporting. So I have to prove myself.

And a few weeks ago, it paid off! The editor gave me a shot at writing the new sports column, Side Swipe. It’ll be written anonymously—which is fine by me. For the moment.

I can almost feel the other reporters looking over my shoulder. Don’t get me wrong, most of them are great. Recently, some of us even spent a weekend in the West of Ireland, surfing in the Atlantic. Loved it!

But any reporter worth his salt would do pretty much anything to get his own column.

What’s a girl to do? Well, I’ll tell you what this one’s going to do. Write the best damned column I can. Week after week. Which is why it has to be spiky and sharp and controversial. No holds barred. What I have I got to lose?

Only the column! Because if I’m not careful, I’ll lose it to somebody who thinks they’ve earned it, just because they’ve been here the longest.

And when I’ve put my stamp on it, they’ll have to give me a by-line, right? Because by then, they won’t want to let me go.

Which would be straightforward enough, if a rival columnist hadn’t declared war! No sooner had my first column appeared, than The Squire let loose on me. The Squire is the gossip columnist at The Irish People. I don’t know who he is, of course, because his scathing column is anonymously written. But I loathe him.

A couple of years ago, he went to town on a friend of mine, when her marriage was in trouble. Her celebrity husband had been having an affair, and that despicable man at The Irish People ran the sordid details for weeks in The Squire.

Anyway, he had the nerve to attack me! I had merely pointed out the stupidity of professional footballers, getting involved with big brand sponsorship. Fashion, in particular. I mean, I’m a huge sports fan. I’m just getting a bit tired of seeing my football heroes modelling briefs. Not to put too fine a point on it, I only want to see balls going into the back of the net!

But back to The Squire. Whoever he is, he’s picked the wrong girl for a fight. Because, as I said before, this girl isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty.

Thing is, the whole thing has escalated, and it’s turned into this weekly war of words. It seems everyone is following us. Broadcast media, social media, you name it. Which is a lot of pressure!

Of course, I’m absolutely determined to win. There is no way I’m going to let this arrogant slime, whoever he is, get the better of me.

The other exciting thing that’s happened, is that I’ve met somebody. He is seriously hot! Derry Cullinane. Tall (the guy must be a foot taller than me), dark and dapper. He’s actually a fashion writer for The Irish People. Which is a bit weird, I must admit. But this man is not only comfortable in his own skin, I think he actually enjoys being surrounded by women. Although maybe it’s not that shocking. He’s definitely a bit of a player.

Funny thing about our first meeting. I was covering Ladies Day at The Galway Races, and this guy steps back on my foot. He apologised, but he had the cheek to suggest that I might have been standing too close to him! Anyway, when I bumped into him again later that day, he told me he’d read Side Swipe‘s racing tips and had lost €1000!

He asked me straight out who wrote Side Swipe, by the way. I told him I hadn’t a clue. Pretended I was just there to write about the fashion. There was no way I was owning up to getting that one wrong!

I nearly blew it though. We met a few weeks later, through mutual friends. When he told me he worked for The Irish People, I started ranting about how much I hated The Squire. You’ve never seen anyone change a topic of conversation so fast. It’s a wonder he asked me out at all.

I don’t really understand why he did. You have no idea, we are complete opposites. I just don’t think I’m his type at all.

But right now, I deserve a bit of fun in my life.

And after my last boyfriend, I have no intention of getting hurt again.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Raven’s Wing, by Shawna Reppert

Shawna Reppert has quite a bit in common with me–fellow Carina author, fellow NIWA author, and fellow writer of urban fantasy set in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve actually already featured this book, before on Boosting the Signal, but that was while she was running the Indiegogo campaign for it. Now the book is out and available, and Shawna’s sent me another piece for the book. This time, her character Chuckie would like to have a word with you!


Raven's Wing

Raven’s Wing

Hi, Chuckie here.

I know I’m not the first image that comes to mind when you say the words ‘Guardian International Investigations.’ I’m built like a scarecrow and my defensive magic isn’t much better than above-average. You’re more likely to find me on a computer than at the gym. I’m an oddball even for GI-squared, and that’s saying something.

I mean, my boss’s ID may say ‘Abigail Andrews’, but everyone calls her ‘Sherlock’, as much for her pipe and her tweed as for her brilliant deductive skills and her Anglan accent.

My partner, at first blush, might seem like what the Joint Council had in mind when they set up GI-squared. Cass Greensdowne once clocked damned near a four-minute mile and she can outlift about half the men in the department. But it’s the strength of her magic and her creativity in using it that make her stand out. So, poster-girl Guardian material—except that she learned her chops apprenticing to Corwyn Ravenscroft back when he was still a dark mage. Of course, she didn’t believe at the time that he was a dark mage, no matter what anyone said, and—well, that’s a long story.

I have been accused of rambling.

So, I know I’m not the hero of any tale, and I’m okay with that. Heroes always catch the worst of whatever goes down. Honestly, when I see what Cass and Raven go through…though Raven would never admit to being a hero, he totally is. He risked not only death, but horrible death, to take down William, and took himself past the point of exhaustion to finish the job. Damned near killed himself.

He’ll tell you that it was atonement, or enlightened self-interest, blah, blah, blah. Just like all those cases he’s helped us with, the ones he’s worked night and day on, the ones where he’s saved lives, those were just because he was bored and needed the intellectual stimulation. Yeah, right.

And I’m rambling again. Cass, if she were here, would be glaring at me to warn me to get to the point already.

So, you asked me about my goals. Which I take it is a more polite way of asking what a scrawny geek like me is doing working for Guardian International Investigations. No, don’t bother to apologize, I get it all the time and, frankly, it doesn’t bother me. Much.

The thing is, as smart and as fast and as good at magic as the heroes are, there’s some things they can’t do. Let’s face it, given a Mundane computer, half the mages in the city don’t know a mouse from a mainframe. But there is a certain criminal element, mostly young and up-and-coming, that know how to interface computer knowledge with mage skills. I know, ’cause I used to be one. I was only out for a laugh, but I did some pretty major damage, and I’d like to think what I’m doing now makes up for that in some way. And hey, maybe I can stop some kid someday before he does something he’ll regret the rest of his life.

(Yeah, I know I seem all happy-go-lucky, but I still have nightmares sometimes.)

Even when someone isn’t getting creative with magic and Mundane technology for all the wrong reasons, the computer’s a useful tool in getting information fast, and that’s useful if you need to know now how many heirs there might be to a certain bloodline if only those heirs are capable of using a magical artifact that’s gone missing. Like, say, the Ravensblood.

I’m like the smith who shoes the knight’s horse before some fairytale battle. I may not be a hero, but I help make the heroism happen. And that’s good enough for this geek.


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