These stories were published in the 2020 or 2021 Publishing Derbies! From the 18th to the 20th, they will be free or on sale to celebrate the upcoming launch of the 2022 Publishing Derby stories.
Free – Genre: Dark Fantasy
All magic comes from the Citadel.
As a child, Adela dreamed of going to the Citadel and becoming a mage, though the reality of her parents’ deaths made that dream a farfetched fantasy. When the caretakers at the orphanage discover her latent magical talent, she is given the opportunity to join the Citadel. Adela leaps at the chance. Power, wealth, prestige — she would have it all.
There is no fire without fuel, however, and magic is not without its price. The Citadel keeps many secrets within its ancient halls, many things it is willing to do in the name of the greater good. As Adela grows from pupil to mage, she will soon discover that there are costs she is unwilling to pay.
But the choice may no longer be hers.
Free – Genre: Dark Fantasy
Once the heir to an empire. Now just a shadow.
Throne stolen by her traitorous brother. Chased to the edge of the world. Sellane has only a blade, a talent for slaughter, and four elite ‘blade dancer’ bodyguards to her name. Where once she lived a life full of courtly duels, decadence, and intrigue, she now finds herself trudging through a wild and desolate frontier populated by pioneers and warlords.
One day Sellane will reclaim her birthright, but she has more immediate problems. The food has run out, shelter is scarce, and her followers are on the verge of mutiny. She can’t even communicate with the strange inhabitants of this alien land: the so-called ‘humans’ who wield guns, wear shoes, and seem completely incapable of shifting the color of their skin to disappear into their surroundings.
It seems certain that an obscure and meaningless death lies in her near future. But when she captures Copper, a down-on-his-luck human mercenary who happens to speak her language, she seizes a razor-thin opportunity to reverse her fortunes. She has the bladecraft, he claims to have the connections, and the frontier will never have enough mercenaries.
Sellane and her band will kill for gold, gather soldiers and power, and begin to build a new empire amongst the wastes. But can her new ally be trusted? Can her old allies? Will her dysfunctional troupe tear itself apart before they’ve earned a single coin?
$0.99 – Genre: Fantasy
Ilia has never feared the sea.
But when her sister vanishes on a clear night under a river of stars known as the Quiet, Ilia is the only person in her village who believes Adana is still alive. To find the truth, Ilia will wade into the ancient lore of her people armed only with her childhood journal, her wits, and a trio of enchanted relics that have lost their magic. Adana is out there somewhere—but so are the mythical, fearsome beings who dwell in the deep.
A second-world fairy tale about believing in magic after we’ve grown up and about healing the old wounds that haunt us with the help of love we find along the way.
Free – Genre: Fantasy
All that stands between him and paradise is… that.
James Jacob Smith lived and died. As an atheist, James thought that would be the end of things. But when he wakes up in a crumbled, forgotten temple over a town of Purgatory’s refugees, James realizes he’s got a long way to go before he can rest.
There are only two ways out of Purgatory: hunt down and defeat the physical manifestation of his Earthly sins so he can enter Heaven, or fail and face eternal damnation in Hell.
If his wife, Alice, weren’t waiting for him in Heaven, he might have considered the latter.
$0.99 – Genre: Fantasy
After a horrible breakup goes viral, Elly runs away. New city, new life, new chances.
But from the moment she lands, things are strange. Her headphones keep overhearing things from nowhere, things that she can’t hear once she takes the headphones off. And the weirdness doesn’t stop there.
When a ghost from her past shows up, Elly needs answers. As her past tries to pull her home, the present promises her a future where she can fit in, for once.
But is this life really as magickal as it promises, or are there hidden costs to be paid?
Free – Genre: Fantasy Romance
A fantasy romance novella with a deadly throne, a fake heir, and a reluctant romance.
Azrae Silverserpent is a young demon woman that’s anything but happy with the state of her realm. A war with Elves, a broken engagement, an empty throne known for killing its kings, and a family to protect are difficult for a girl to navigate, especially when she’s already lost everything else.
The deadly Winged Throne needs a king, and her six year-old little brother is next in line. She is desperate not to sacrifice her brother for a broken kingdom, so when her ex-fiancé who was declared dead reappears to become next in line once again, it looks like salvation.
Too soon it becomes wildly clear to her that this savior is not her ex-fiancé Rezuriel. He’s a common man dodging the war one twist of luck after the other, just like her. This vexingly charming stranger may not be the real heir to the throne of the crumbling Winged Realm, but he is her best hope for a future.
$0.99 – Genre: Romance
Who would have thought that a single photograph would be so dangerous?
Photofest. The ultimate photography convention. Not only is Seddy finally able to attend, but this year, it is being held in the city for which she was named. And she cannot wait.
No sooner does she check into the conference when a murder interrupts her night on the town with a new friend. Shaken, Seddy just wants to put the incident behind her.
But someone has other ideas. After attending her first day of workshops, Seddy discovers her hotel room has been ransacked. Her new love interest seems very eager to help her while the local detective keeps asking her questions about her camera. To make matters worse, the chief of police keeps giving her strange looks.
And then someone tries to kill her.
As she works out whom she can trust, Seddy realizes she may hold the one piece of evidence that could help solve the mystery.
$0.99 – Genre: Horror Comedy
Evil stirs in the forest of Downing, spreading blight across the ancient boughs. Busy with troubles of her own, Maud the village witch just wants to be left alone. Peace and quiet should be easy enough when you’re dead, right?
Reborn as a powerful lich, Maud is suddenly faced with the attentions of all the righteous heroes, holy clerics, and nosy neighbours of the realm. Now instead of whiling away the days in her garden with her cat and her knitting, Maud must figure out how much force is required to crush a man’s spine, the proper storage solution to keep a spoiling cadaver, and how best to display the remains of the fallen for maximum scare.
Featuring people mulch, head bouquets, revenant geese, and some very deadly embroidery, undead paradise never looked so good.
A very grisly slice-of-life progression fantasy.
Free – Genre: Horror
The Rook legacy: duty at all Costs. Regina’s family are the last living members after a long line of magical families. Their heritage is a promise to the world; they can be trusted to keep magic from corrupting power hungry witches — In doing so they keep an unearthly evil from crushing humanity.
When Regina Rook’s mother dies a sudden, violent death, the living coven members come from around the world to attend the funeral, and begin breathing down her neck as next in line to lead. Trying to find a balance between her own goals as a witch and her family’s demands, all the while keeping her recent nightmares hidden where she becomes the very thing they fighting.
But when those things become intertwined, can she do anything but watch as the world around her crumbles to ancient horrors?
$0.99 – Genre: Cape Fiction
Breaking News: Confessions of the Supervillain Mask the Technopath!
In an exclusive scoop, the Daily Messenger has acquired the transcript of the infamous Technopath’s interview with the Power Defense Authority upon her initial capture after the August 19th terrorist incident in downtown Mayson.
Among the shocking revelations in the transcript is allusions to the PDA knowing of her villainous sire, on-going abuse of the children of Masks and accusations of terrorism and collusion against Mordant Technologies.
For full details, just subscribe to the Daily Messenger within!
$0.99 – Genre: Space Western
McCallister was done with the galaxy. The galaxy wasn’t quite done with him.
When the Tamani blew a hole in his ship, his friend, and his career, Richard McCallister called it quits. No more TerraCorp work. No more cheerfully donning the uniform and pretending he couldn’t see the cracks in the bulkheads around him. From that moment, he’d be his own man again.
Until the message came – a whisper, carried through the few contacts he had left to the Dust, the farthest reaches of settled space. A warning that the Tamani had returned.
When it arrives, McCallister is presented with a choice: He can run, hiding in a darker corner of the universe that the Tamani haven’t found yet. He can stay moving, and stay alive. Or he can turn back, straight into the maw of their approaching doom, and pluck his friend’s legacy from its teeth.
Winning means honoring his partner’s memory. Losing means sharing his fate.
The choice is his.
$0.99 – Genre: Science Fiction
When Dr. Julian Blake joined the fight against the Immortals, he never expected his death to be the greatest weapon against them.
The fighting has not gone well. The enemy, ancient beings who sacrificed their eternal souls for immortality, are closing in on AngelThana, an independent military organization standing alone between Earth and the ever-encroaching, unstoppable Immortals. After an attack frees a captive Immortal, it becomes clear that AngelThana needs to switch tactics.
Enter Julian Blake, one of the dozens of scientists hired to devise a solution.
Julian never would have guessed that his obsessions with death and the afterlife would have landed him here. Nor would he have guessed that they would have led to his death. He certainly wouldn’t have guessed that these passions could have brought him back. But after finding himself floating peacefully down the river between life and death, Julian can’t help but explore. After all, it’s the end of his life. It’s a chance that only comes around once.
This curiosity leads Julian astray, off the edge of the river and back to Earth. Alive again, and permanently so, Julian’s going to need every life he can spare as he finds himself branded an enemy by all but a small group of insurgents within AngelThana. They’ll need to work together if Julian is going to have any chance of saving the Earth, defeating the Immortals, and hopefully find a way to save his damned soul in the process.
$0.99 – Genre: Science Fiction
Music is one hell of a drug.
Blake knew from the start this was a bad idea. But when your best friend is insistent on doing something stupid, you don’t leave him twisting in the wind. But going into the darkness, where the shadow beasts lurk to bring death is madness. Doing it to get a guitar is nearly suicide.
When Blake and Dustin find the guitar in question, it sounds like nothing they’ve experienced before, and playing it is ecstasy. The music seems to calm the shadow beasts, but as they play it more, it’s like they can hear the creatures talking in their heads. The magic makes them faster, stronger, and with every strum of the guitar, the two grow further apart.
Somehow, the music that soothed the savage beasts created one far worse. And if Blake doesn’t find a way to get his best friend back, the beasts may destroy them both.
Free – Genre: Epic Sci-Fi LitRPG Cultivation
A home, a family. Lies, resentment. To save the future, he must reclaim his past.
Ryan Hart thought he had saved them all. He’d served as Lord Commander of the Sarashead guild, faithfully and with honor for thousands of years. His work expanded their empire and brought peace.
But peace never lasts. . . .
Emperor Duhan has been murdered, ripping Ryan out of his new life as a citizen on Earth. Once again, he must leave those he loves for the greater good.
Rebirth is the path, a reset into a new body that he must cultivate and train. The collision of two worlds draws ever closer, and if he can’t claim what was once his, all will be lost.
$0.99 – Genre: GameLit/LitRPG
On the edge of town, an endless spire looms…
Myles Wentz has spent his life making arms and armor for self-proclaimed ‘heroes’ who climb the Black Spire in search of glory. Climbers who endlessly throw themselves at the spire in hopes of overcoming its challenges. None ever return.
When his oldest grandson expresses interest in becoming a Climber, Myles realizes someone needs to clear the tower once and for all. But he can’t trust the bumbling fools who waltz through his shop. He’s got to handle it himself. It’ll mean closing the shop, making his own gear, and abandoning his comfortable life. Just to potentially sacrifice himself on the altar that is the Black Spire.
It’ll take all of Myles’ life experience to overcome this challenge; he’s not fighting to save the world, just one boy from making a huge mistake.
$0.99 – Genre: Epic LitRPG
If Hell is full, where do the sinners go?
Theodore Goss is minding his own damn business when humanity’s time runs out. Everyone is shunted off to Godguild, a new universe filled with magic, monsters, and stats, where the afterlife is determined by progression. It’s not about being good anymore, or even being strong. All that matters is being at the top
Hard though it is, Theo plays along as an Afterlifer, determined to make it to paradise eventually. But when a vicious guild drags him into a skeletal dungeon run, Theo realizes the monsters have it much worse than him.
Theo helps the surviving skeletons build a new home. To ensure their continued survival, however, Theo needs to navigate the minefield of unfriendly mobs, monsters of every shape and eldritch size, and of course, Hell itself peeking in at the edges, all while plumbing the secrets Godguild is hiding
It’s going to take more than levelling up to make it in this cruel world, and Theo is just the guy to go above and beyond.
Free – Genre: Crafting LitRPG
When an enchanter’s life falls apart, it happens fast.
After completing his magnum opus, Rowan Alroy stood on top of the world. An up and coming star in the Enchanter’s guild, rich beyond his wildest expectations, and having just impressed the nobility of the land, nothing – not even the Guildmaster’s fury – could damper his enthusiasm.
Except an insane cult kidnapping him to summon their mad god.
Forced to work under duress alongside a fellow captive, surrounded by cultists, and with annihilation looming, Rowan’s situation couldn’t be more dire.
Rowan is going to have to get creative.