Monday, June 29, 2020

Review: Mel Todd's "My Luck"

For a while now, I've been reviewing Mel Todd's SF series, the Kaylid Chronicles. Before I wrapped up that series, Mel asked if I would be interested in reading her next series, an Urban Fantasy (no romance) called "Twisted Luck" -- book one of which is My Luck. 

I enjoyed her space opera, so of course I was going to want a free book from an author who I already enjoyed.

My Luck's flap copy is as follows.

I'm not a mage, but that won't stop me.
Cori Catastrophe. They call me that sometimes, and I hate to admit it, but it isn’t wrong. Things go weird around me. Electronics die, things break, and if something odd happens, I seem to find it. Finding another dead body just made me late to work.
Nothing will stop me from getting my degree, getting a job, and getting away from this tiny town – though leaving my best friend will hurt more than anything else. Reality seems determined to make reaching my goals impossible. The dead guy had my name in his pocket, my best friend emerges as an archmage, and my parents – well let's just say leaving them behind is one of the best parts of getting away.
So be it. Not being a mage means I'll have to struggle to succeed. No matter how weird things get, I'll make it. I lost my brother and I'll probably lose my best friend to the world of magic. All I can do is depend on myself.
But with my luck, that might be difficult.

Let's start with something simple. This has the best opening routine since "The building was on fire and it wasn't my fault." I hope I don't have to explain that reference. But the opening is a dark comedy routine that I read to anyone who would listen to me.

Once more, Mel Todd excels at world building. As is her style, she opens each chapter with a bit of history and culture around the world. This time, magic has emerged in the world in the late 1800s-- a few years after the Civil War (which, of course, leads to in-world alternate histories of what the Civil War would have looked like if magic had existed a few years earlier). Mel doesn't use it excessively--we hear about the partnership of Rasputin and Lenin, but not a lot about World Wars (okay, FDR is still an a-hole)--and it works just enough to give a flavor of the world.

The real world building comes throughout the story. Our heroine, Cori, is getting her degrees in the most practical certifications she can--EMT, Medical Assistant, and Criminal Law--which also happen to be the best points of view from which to present slices of the world. Within the narration, some of the sections that are obviously data dumps are worthy of David Weber. Then again, one section did start with "most of the bodies I found were rarely stupid or boring." So anything after that will grab your attention.

Again, like in Mel's last series, her world building is either brilliant, or borders on brilliant. In her world, every mage of a certain strength must be trained, and every mage is full-on drafted. She prevents this from having shades of Babylon 5's Psi-Corps by having over half the population be magical--there isn't discrimination against non-mages, but the upper brackets are surprisingly heavy in the magic set.

I especially like the impact on culture. Facial tattoos for mages are part of fashion. The magic system recommends long hair (magic is powered by cellular matter-to-energy conversion of the mage's DNA-- eg: Okay, Winston Churchill was a Time Wizard who kept checking future timelines to win the war, which is why he was bald all the time). There are aspects of law (pay attention to the "Good Samaritan" laws). Diamonds are basis of currency, because freaking alchemists. And I even like that she hints at an origin of magic coming through rips in dimensional planes that make me want to call Doctor Strange.

Though the "Office of Magical Oversight" being established by Lenin? A little creepy.

The execution of Cori and the "bad luck" around her is ... entertaining. The luck that is inflicted upon her and people around her is very Rube Goldberg in nature.

I only have one question. Are the students of George MageTech still considered rambling wrecks?

And I am so, so happy that her description only covers the first third of the book, you have no idea. Though by that point, the reader should be clued in to one of the major aspects of the book that is only hinted at throughout--making the rest of the book interesting to watch, and the reader feels slightly superior to our narrator along the way. Part of what Mel does with this is a trick I've only seen used with Nero Wolfe novels of Rex Stout -- she gives us the answer to a major question of the book ... only the answer comes before the question. The answer is "Ronin."

Also, in Chapter 21, Mel Todd hints at a serial killer, and never capitalizes on it. She did that with a possible shifter serial killer in Kaylid, and does so here too (here, it was a reference to a killer who had happened, and was magical. I'm starting to wonder if these are discarded plot threads at this point.)

Once again, Mel does cops so well, I'm surprised she doesn't do any research for them. They feel very much like cops I've known. Also, some of the situations are analogous.

The comedy is right up my alley. Then again, I laughed out loud when someone asked, "We have a serial killer?" and the immediate reply was "Please. That's an Atlanta Thing. Probably."

Much to my surprise, this entire book is carried by character and world building. And when I say I was surprised, I mean I was 80% of the way through the novel (chapter 34) when I realized that this wasn't what you would call plot heavy. Normally, I'm very dismissive of media that is clearly more of a setup for a series than a standalone ... but this was so well executed, and so self contained, I can't really say anything against it.

And I mean I have nothing against it. Nothing at all. Even the Kaylid Chronicles had errors sprinkled throughout--many were minor, but some just drop-kicked me out of the story. Here? Not a thing. Trust me, I was looking.

But this felt more like the good old days, when Laurell K. Hamilton was good, and could tell a story without turning it into a hundred page orgy. Looking back, this is probably even better than early Anita Blake.

Anyway, five stars, out of five stars. Go buy it.

This one is a little bit too close to the wire for the Dragon Awards. Had it come out earlier so it could get a good head of steam, it would be right up there with best fantasy, neck and neck with Robert Kroese. However, book 2 will be eligible for next year -- it comes out in July. Anyway, while you wait for the book to download, I suggest making certain you've voted in the Dragon Awards this year.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Mel Todd's Incoming, Allies and Family

I already started reviewing Mel Todd's Kaylid Chronicles. I made a point out of reviewing them one by one. First with No Choice, and then with Commander.

I was going to do the same thing with Incoming, Allies and Family ... but I read them all in one big bite, so here's one review. Screw it, let's hit the fast forward button. We have a series to finish. 

Incoming (Kaylid Chronicles Book 3) by [Mel Todd]Truthfully, one of the reasons I read the last three books in one swell foop is that the story is continuous from Incoming onward. 

At the end of Commander, we had learned that our heroes -- Police officer McKenna Largo and company -- had been turned into shape shifters by nanotechnology, unleashed on the planet by an alien race known as the Elentrin. The plan is simple -- the Elentrin were to come, collect the "inconvenience" of the shape shifters off of our hands, take them away... mind wipe them, and reprogram them for canon fodder in their war of extermination against another alien race.

As I've said before, these guys would be right at home with John Ringo's Darhel from the Posleen wars.

With Incoming, the Elentrin are coming to Earth, and they want their canon fodder. And they want them now.

Again, this one feels a bit like a John Ringo novel. It focuses a lot on how things get done. And how does one prepare for an alien invasion with a two week's notice? Guns. Lots of guns.

Also with we change the format a little. With No Choice, and Commander, the real action takes place in the last third of the novel, kidnapping and forcing our heroes into a situation they don't want to be in. Here, yes, the action is in the last third of the book ... but this time, it's full out alien warfare.

And yes, Incoming has all of the smart choices and intelligence observations that I've come to expect from Mel Todd.

5/5, easy.

Allies (Kaylid Chronicles Book 4) by [Mel Todd]Next, we have Allies.

The Elentrin have come to earth. What was supposed to be a cakewalk for them has turned into a pitched battle. And the Elentrin are either going to win, or they're going to drop asteroids on Earth out of spite.

But now, Earth has a new card up its sleeve -- the Drakyn, the aliens the Elentrin want to exterminate, have come to the aid of humans. The Drakyn come with intelligence and knowledge that are invaluable to winning ... if they can be in a position to use it. 

Problem: the Drakyn don't have weapons. Or ships. Or troops....

But the Drakyn are thinking with portals. The problem? Earth only has days to draw up and execute a plan to strike back before the asteroids hit. And, of course, our protagonists must lead the way. 

Also, it's revealed that our heroes are Dragonborn... okay, you had to be there.

Allies is a good, hefty chunk of action, and the emphasis on "how things get done" is spread out more evenly throughout the novel. The action breaks up these scenes. To some degree, the action carries these scenes.

Again, 5/5. 

Family (Kaylid Chronicles Book 5) by [Mel Todd]
Then there's this last one, Family

It feels very much like it should have been one of Mel's novellas-- side stories that she made for the world, exploring events outside of the view of McKenna Largo, our primary character (and, I assume, originally a first person POV narrator, but that's a guess on my part). 

There is one thing that irks me about the entire series. Family feels unnecessary. We could have ended the series with Allies. This one is a 3/5 than a 5/5. It feels rushed, as though Family was supposed to be a novella, and it turned into a conclusion because Mel had better things to do. 

Keep in mind the entire series (five books and four novellas) takes place in less than six months. Probably closer to four and a half. And some of the plot points in Family feels like Mel wanted to go from Point T to Point Z and rushed it. The worst part might be that one of the primary antagonists for the entire series has little to no interaction with our heroes, he's been a running threat from the shadows, and the series ends with him twirling his mustache.

The best part of this one is, again, logistics -- this time the logistics of visiting another planet. It's a long story, and plenty of spoilers, so I won't go into too many details. Here, again, Mel Todd excels.

Personally, I'd suggest getting the bundle, but hold off on reading Family until / if Mel ever gets around to doing a sequel series that deals with this secondary villain, then read Family and keep going. But all in all, the entire series is solid. There isn't even a misstep in the entire series, except the last book.

And buying the five in one pack gives you a massive discount over buying the series solo, even if you don't read Family. But if you've bought it, you can give even the last part a try.

But at the end of the day, this series is amazing. I wish I had read them when they first came out, I would have suggested at least one for a Dragon award.

Speaking of which, please remember to vote in the Dragon Awards, and be certain to vote for Deus Vult for best horror.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

THE UP, UP AND AWAY: the Kevin J Anderson Superhero Bundle

If reading is your kryptonite, Kevin J Anderson has put together a superpowered StoryBundle—thirteen books with marvelous heroes, supervillains, secret identities, mutant powers, and extraordinary gentlemen (and ladies).
For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you're feeling generous), you'll get the basic bundle of five books in any ebook format.
• Captain Nemo - The Fantastic Adventures of a Dark Genius by Kevin J. Anderson• Cynetic Wolf by Matt Ward• Working Class Hero by James Robert Smith• Dove Season by Robin Brande• The Superhero's Test by Lucas Flint

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular books, plus eight more more books, for a total of thirteen!

• Playing a Hunch by Dean Wesley Smith• Fid's Crusade by David Reiss• The Enlivening by Ashlyn Frost• Nobody's Hero by Mark Leslie• Morning Sun by Jeremy Flagg• Overlook by Jon Mollison
• Hellbent by Tina Glasneck• Brave New World Revolution by Matt Forbeck
This bundle is available only for a limited time . It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub, .mobi) for all books!

It's also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

* * * *

Yes, I'm pimping this one because Overlook was awesome. It really is my Dragon Award pick for best SF this year. I don't think I can recommend it enough. This might have something to do with this using my own superpower (no, the bright yellow jacket doesn't always help). If you don't get the joke.... read the damn book already. :)  It really is quite good.

And while I have you here, be sure to vote in the Dragon Awards.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Dragon Award ballot (June 2020)

I really do enjoy Dragon season.

I can talk about books for months on end. I technically don't need an excuse, but it helps to make me look a little less deranged. Especially when I talk about the same ones over and over again.

And this year, I have thoughts. 

Quite a few, really. 

Best Sci Fi

Overlook – Silver Empire

Overlook by Jon Mollison.

I enjoyed that one so much, I may have underplayed my review. It's in the link if you need a refresher over  how good that was.

And if you haven't read it yet, Kevin J. Anderson has a Superhero bundle out TODAY with Overlook in it. So, happy hunting.

Best Fantasy (/ Paranormal)

Brand of the Warlock, by Robert Kroese.

Again, another winner by Rob. Again, the review is linked.

Best YA

The Unbearable Heaviness of Remembering by L. Jagi Lamplighter.

Jagi is so consistently good at this series, I will keep putting her up for Best YA until she (a) wins an award, (b) stops writing books, or until (c) the Dragons stop being handed out.

Best Mi-SF

That's going to go to Chris Ruocchio's Howling Dark (Sun Eater #2). 

If Chris doesn't like it, well, he doesn't get a choice in the matter, since I don't have other slots open. 

Best Alt History

This Deadly Engine by Matt Ligon

I swear, one day I'm just going to say to heck with it and get around to reviewing all of Ligon's books in one block review. But today is not that day. I'm busy on everything else.

Best Horror 

Deus Vult by, well, me

Why this one and not Coven, which even Jagi says is better? 

Because this one scared reviewers

So, it's better for Horror.

Also, the name. Can you get better than that? Heh.

Though if you wanted to put Coven on the list for best fantasy, I'm not going to kvetch. :)

Best Media Tie-In

Thrawn: Treason (star Wars):: Zahn, Timothy

Star Wars: Thrawn: Treason.

I will only pimp this one Disney-related product for one reason.

It's Zahn writing Thrawn. Full stop. Thanks.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy 
TV Series, TV or Internet

While I haven't seen all of The Witcher, what I've seen, I like. 

And no, I'm not giving anything to Star Trek: Picard. It wasn't even up for consideration. Michael Chabon? Really?

But frankly, I'd give points to The Witcher just for Henry Caville's performance. He's fooled some fairly perceptive people. But then again, British actors seem to be more flexible and disappear into roles better (see David Suchet)

And, and I like The Witcher books that I've read. 

Someone hand the Dragon Award to Henry Caville and he can put it on the shelf next to his 40K minis.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

Any thoughts? 

Again, this is a situation where we need something, otherwise a collection of mouth breathing jerks will insist on a terrible Disney product. 

Because if we don't come up with something, The Rise of Skywalker is going to end up with it by default.

And a major problem is that Corona has screwed up so many releases of new material that we're starting to hurt for choices.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy 

PC / Console Game

My original assumption was that the FF 7 Remake was going to make it here... but from the reaction of a lot of fans, I'm thinking it may not make it. Heh.

Greedfall (PS4) - PlayStation 4

However, I've started playing Greedfall. It's an action RPG that's very much colonial Art of the Deal, with enough cultures thrown into a blender, I'd have thought it was a JRPG. I seriously recommend it. Unless this goes REALLY bad for some reason, it should be on this. And it's indie, of all things.

Again, I've heard some good things about the latest Star Wars game. Jedi: Fallen Order, I think the name is. I'm still waiting for the price to come down.

But I wouldn't put it on this list. Why? Because that would be rewarding bad behavior.

No Contenders

500x500_book_bannerThis is a collection of categories for which I got nothing. Or almost nothing. 

Best Comic Book (the series)

The Immortal Hulk was on this list to start with. Why? Because it's dark and atmospheric, and feels a lot like if Marvel tried doing HP Lovecraft. But, they've decided to make a character suddenly trans, out of nowhere, for no real reason that fit in the story. And it was so jarring, it's really thrown my interest in the story. It took me out of the comic. 

Though if you want to give Immortal Hulk a quick read through at a Barnes and Noble, maybe you'll see more of what I did when I first read it.

As for the rest .... I got nothing. So put in some of your thoughts below.

Best Graphic Novel

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game 

You can nominate for the Dragons right here. Enjoy. And please remember to tell your friends. And share this list around the internet.


Monday, May 25, 2020

Diversity Representation and Checkboxing

If you don't know Otto Penzler, he is to murder mysteries what Burroughs is to the Pulp folks, or Asimov to the post Campbell SFF. He's edited more anthologies than I can count, he runs his own press and his own bookstore.

Then there's this....

Image may contain: 1 person, text

I think it's time for this rant.




"Marginalized peoples."

These are of course, synonyms for bullshit.

If you ever get around to writing a story -- novel, a short, what have you -- and anyone, anyone tells you that you need more of X, Y, or Z "character," smack the fool in the face.

Because the only characters you need are the ones that drive the story forward. Anyone else is a waste of time and words.

This may be funny coming from me, because I've had people tell me I have great diversity in my novels. This is the point where I have to smile, nod, and say, "Thanks, what did you think of the book?"

Funny thing, those who like the "diversity" don't like my books.

But I don't even care. You may have guessed. I sincerely don't notice. It takes me five minutes to add up how many of X I may or may not have. I may have one or two lesbian characters, but I didn't ask them, and it hasn't come up, so I don't think about it. Ask me if I have any black characters, it takes me at least a few minutes to remember, oh, yeah, I have a Pope who is literally from Africa.

Why don't I know things like this off the top of my head?

Because they're characters, not tokens. For me, every character I have is better defined by characteristics than by anything else. 
Granted, give me time, and I can compile checklists for people who want them. Aida Jones of the murder mysteries, who I have in my head as a taller Mariah Carey. Brian Levine, whose body type is "big black football player #4", but I remember him best as ex-Delta who knits. 

I've got a few more characters, but I'm already bored compiling THAT list. Because I hate "checkboxing."

I just thank God that none of my readers give a damn about that sort of thing. Thankfully, they can't, especially given how I like to subvert the cliches -- and let's face it, checkboxing is so cliche, it's painful. 

Let's put it this way. I've been able to tell people about the cast of characters of TV shows I've never seen, just based on cliches. "Oh look, any team has to have an Asian -- probably female -- a black engineer / gadget man, someone with a disability, and maybe a token white guy."

And we can all thank God that I don't even talk about sensitivity readers. The first fucker who goes "I'm offended" while beta reading a novel will find themselves IN the novel, and far more offended. Hell, I'm fed up with "Let's bash Christian," Dan Brown-lite novels, and I'm perfectly happy to offend someone who harps on about how X or Y is offensive.

Hell, someone called me a white supremacist in a review because I used MS-13 as a random encounter bad guy.... because the biggest gang in the world, so big they're on a terrorist watch list, and run human trafficking operations has to be the villain "because they're not white."

Nooo. They're the bad guys because they're bad people. And because I'm really tired of Ayran Nation gangs. Talk about cliche. I've only seen MS-13 as the villain in one novel, once -- Vince Flynn, Consent to Kill. And they were only in one scene as hired guns.

"But what about LGBTQMOUSE and the strong waman?" What about them? To call the first a minority is an exaggeration. I've seen numbers that suggest that it may top off between 1% and 2% of the population. As for the second, one might think I've got enough in my novels -- but trust me, my "strong waman" don't work for the check boxing idiots. After all, they don't spent any time trying to deliberately show up my male characters, or be the bestest evar....

If you are confused by the above paragraph, go watch an episode of Batwoman for the check boxing definition of "strong women" -- the women are "perfect," indestructible, without flaws, and don't need no man ... so much so, that the men in the episodes are disposable, easily replaced by any female character no matter the function. If she's part of the LGBTQMOUSE faction, the woman get extra invulnerability points.

I'm not even going to discuss the trans movement. The public face of the trans movement seem to be so obnoxious, there's been at least one article on kicking "T" out of LGBTQ. Between mediocre men declaring themselves "trans" so they can join women's sports to batter women (see MMA), 

So, yeah, I don't play these games. They're stupid and lead to some of the worst writing I've ever seen or heard. 

Characters in the story have to fit the story. If Thomas Nolan wasn't married with children (both wife and kids are armed), trust me, no one would know what his sexuality was. If Sean Ryan's girlfriend wasn't an agent who brings him his client in It Was Only on Stun!, it wouldn't have come up there either. I'm not even sure it is mentioned in Set to KillWe won't go into the books with the romance subplots.

If the story is twisted to fit the check boxing, we get CW shows and Agent Carter. And no one wants that. Just look at their ratings.

So, write your own stories. Don't try to shoehorn anything or any one that doesn't fit in naturally. 

You've just seen a bunch of woke idiots fire one of the biggest names in modern mystery so they can virtue signal how diverse they are, solely by judging authors by the color of their skin, and not the quality of their writing.

Be judged by the quality of your writing, and not the BS you can jam in.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Corona Lockdown Status Report

I think I'm done with lockdown.

Sorry everybody, but I knew this was BS from the very beginning. I think a lot of people did. Trust me, you don't want to hear all the comments that I've heard from friends and family within the medical profession. There's a lot of cursing and spitting and swearing. 

Short version: The state lock downs were stupid, medically unnecessary and just an excuse for democrats to be tyrants.

Okay, that last bit is more my somewhat more political friends.

But then, I get to live with de Blasio and Cuomo for Mayor and Governor -- two invertebrate eunuchs who only have a job because the GOP have abandoned New York for at least a decade, if not close to two. Who are so incompetant, they're trying to fix their broken budget (broken for easily the last two years) by demanding $61 BILLION from the feds, "or else."  The "or else" includes firing cops, at a time where the state government has already made prisons a revolving door.

But as I said, this lockdown BS is pure stupidity. This is the first time in the history of the world where HEALTHY people have been quarantined. 

And now, I'm at the point where I'm just tired of this. I don't even like going out most of the time, and it's only been a few weeks of good weather here, but no, we're done here. I'm ready to go outside, even though I generally don't want to be bothered with sun

"BUT YOU JUST WANT PEOPLE TO DIE" whine the Reichstag Firemen and their supporting Karens.

Look, you want to cower in fear in your basement until your savings run out, you go right ahead. At least if you're Muslim during Ramadan in New York City, Meals on Wheels will come to you. Everyone else seems to take a back seat. In California, Newsome will keep you in house arrest, then make sure you starve.

But then again, I just turned in two books in two months to my publisher. And I should probably get back to self publishing some other works while I'm at it. I wonder what happens when I hit thirty books.

Anyway, you may want to check out one of the following. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Complete works of Declan Finn (May 2020)

The other day, I was trying to keep track of all of the various and sundry releases I've made.

The list really is starting to get out of hand. 

My first book came out in 2012 with It Was Only On Stun! It was just a test run for what was to come. Though people do like that one even today.

But yeah, in 8 years, it's become difficult for me to keep track of everything. So I need a flow chart just for me.

However, the rest of you might want it to keep track of everything as well. So when I started that list, I figured, "here you go."

And then, more, unrelated numbers crunching came up. 

The Escape From Italy was a bit more costly than even I thought it would be. So that even if the stupid fines aren't enforced, the Go Fund Me that Moira started for us is still valid.

So this will be one part "this is my form list" and one part "Money? Sure? I'll take that."

Also, this is a bit of a chart of "if you were reading things in publication order" ....

We'd start with...

If you don't recall, It was Only on Stun! introduces the professional security specialist Sean A.P. Ryan being dumped head first into an SFF convention.

He is hip deep in nerds, genocidal madmen, terrorists, IRA gunmen, and a cartel that has a grudge with him.

So it acts as a nice prologue to ....

It was a book a long time in the making. One part history paper, and one part "f*** Dan Brown" (okay, it was a different author that pissed me off), this was a mystery, an 80's action movie and a small war rolled into one.

You can find the Silver Empire Link here.

Then I did A Pius Legacy, then A Pius Stand.

Because nothing says "epic" like kidnapping the Pope, leading a jail break, and declaring war on the Vatican.


Then there was Pius History and Pius Tales -- basically, the footnotes and the short stories. These were also pulled from the shelves in order to be rereleased by a publisher. But I ended up with books of The Pius Trilogy. Because I'm apparently doing the Dune "trilogy" of a dozen novels.

Pius History: The Facts Behind the Pius Trilogy by [Finn, Declan] Pius Tales (The Pius Trilogy Book 4) by [Finn, Declan]

If you're new here, The Pius Trilogy is my answer to every Smrt Story who thinks they can jam history into a thriller so they can spread whatever Orwellian rewrite of history they like among the populous. In this case, there's a secret about the Catholic church that people are willing to kill to cover up. The only question is: who do you trust?

For those who want to purchase from the publisher directly

The Silver Empire links for

Then, in a post-Pius universe...

This is the return of Sean AP Ryan, after he appears in Pius, and it's more of a postscript to Pius than it is a sequel to Stun! 

This time, Sean ends up in the political end of the SFF spectrum, hip deep in lunatics, armed authors, all set in the city of Atlanta for WyvernCon.

No relation to DragonCon, which takes place in Atlanta.

And this is the companion piece. Sort of.

Long.... long story. It's insane comedy. If you don't know what the title references, you're probably better off without trying this one.

And with mustn't forget my solution to dystopias ... with gun fire.

This one is particularly interesting, because it's nothing like anything I've ever written. In fact, it's unlike anything I've ever read. I don't like dystopia. I think they're boring, filled with the exact same cliche.

Winterborn and UnSub -- the Dragon Award nominated work -- are set in a San Francisco that ... sadly, looks much like San Francisco of today, only a little worse. Add a spy of unstable temperament, a flaky assassin, and an unstoppable serial killer, and a collection of mercenaries who are increasingly enamored of the almighty dollar.

And, of course, the series everyone likes....

Take everything from Dracula about vampires.

Add philosophy and microbiology to explain how vampires work.

Add faith, redemption, a love story, Vatican ninjas, and lots of gunfire.

Shake well.

The first book is possibly my more published novel... because it's been killed by one publisher, resurrected in self publishing, then republished by a second publisher.


My first Dragon Award nominated work. For best horror, as it says on the cover.

Kick ass vampire.

A romance that works.

Three-dimensional characters, even among the side characters.

And then there's Vatican ninjas.

One is a heartless, bloodthirsty killer. The other is a vampire.
College freshman, Amanda Colt knows few people and wants to know fewer still. She enjoys fencing and prefers facing a challenge every once in a while. She is beautiful, smart, and possibly the most interesting person on campus.
Then she finds tall, intense Marco Catalano in her fencing class. With a mind like a computer and manners of a medieval knight, he scares most people - but not Amanda. They both have secrets, for they are both monsters.
As they draw closer, they must find the line between how much they can trust each other, and how much they can care for each other. Each carries a secret that can destroy the other. But they must come to grips with their personal drama soon because a darkness rises around them. Bodies keep turning up all over New York, and an army of vampires closes in on all sides.
They have only one hope - each other.

Obviously, the sequel to Honor at Stake.

Take everything from book one... add in a demon that just won't die.

After saving Brooklyn from a nest of vampires, Amanda Colt and Marco Catalano are a little banged up. He's been given a job offer to deal with vampires in San Francisco, and it's a tempting offer - it would get him away from Amanda, his feelings for her, and get her away from the darkness inside him. When a death in the family compels Marco to move to the West Coast, they're both left to fend for themselves.

Then the creature known only as Mister Day leaves their world in tatters, and they must once more join forces against the darkness. Only Day is no vampire, but a creature beyond their experience. It will take the combined might of Marco, Amanda, and all of their allies just to slow it down. They have no weapons that can kill him. They have no way to imprison him. To even fight him is death.

But they have to try - or face the end of everything they love.

Book three of the vampire series.

And the 2017 Dragon Award Nominee for best horror.

A 2017 Dragon Award Nominee for Best Horror Novel!
Marco is spiraling out of control.
He knows it. His team knows it. Everyone around him can see that he’s just a bomb waiting to explode.
The only woman who can bring him back from the edge is also the woman who lit his fuse. Ever since the demon Asmodeus tried to murder Marco, Amanda Colt has been hunting down every lead to find the true evil behind the attack. Her investigation uncovers a vampire assassin that Amanda has faced once before - and she lost. Stronger than anything they’ve face before, the assassin isn’t alone. As Marco flirts with self-destruction and the armies of Hell prepare to descend, they must come together to stop a thousand-year-old assassin that has never failed.
Even worse, they must finally face up to their feelings for each other!

Then there's book 4.

And there are some shorts....
The epic conclusion to the Dragon Award nominated series!

The final war begins.

Merle Kraft, Marco Catalano and Amanda Colt have battled against the mythical Council, a supernatural conspiracy that monsters fear. This war has brought them up against vampires, minions, and demons from Hell.. Along the way, they have accumulated allies among the police, the military, the mafia, college students, lowly street gangs, and even other vampires. Marco and Amanda have overcome their biggest terror - their passion for each other.

But now, they face the final threat, one that is the culmination of every threat before them. This creature from Hell has powers beyond anything they’ve ever seen before, and has allies of his own: including SpecOps minions, an army of vampires, and packs of werewolves.

And that was before Marco got bitten.

One is a bloodthirsty monster. The other's a serial killer. 

This is going to get messy.

Blood Stained Cliffs of Dover
a Love at First Bite short story

In World War II, the allied invasion of the continent hinges on keeping one secret absolutely secure. No one must find out, or all hope is lost.

Tonight, German spy Konrad Achterberg is about to discover what that secret is.

He's also about to find out that the Nazis aren't the scariest predators in the night. 

Because something in the dark is colder than the dark. 

And it is hungry.

The Silver Empire Links

And, of course, my other nonfiction.

And, then, of course, there's


As of this minute, book 8 and 9 are turned in to the publisher. And book 10-12 are already outlined. We're in the home stretch of the series.

My name is Officer Thomas Nolan, and I am a saint.

I can smell evil. I show mercy to the lesser criminals - the desperate. Even those I've put behind bars seem to like me. But now there's a serial killer bringing darkness beyond imagination to my city. I can smell his stench a mile away. But how can I prove it?

How do you do forensics on a killer possessed by a demon?

And I don't think the reviews get much better than this one.

All saints are dead.
Detective Tommy Nolan is no stranger to bizarre events. After all, he's a New York cop. And after the demon, he thought he'd seen it all.

When home invaders threaten his family, he was prepared to take it as a risk of the job. When it turns out the intruders were covered in the mark of the demon, he knew the trouble was just beginning.

Now, it's a race against time as the cult who raised the demon take their revenge. They know that Tommy is not yet a saint. Because all saints are dead.
Detective Tommy Nolan is having a bad day.

First, the celebrant was murdered during mass. Then the SWAT team knocked down his door trying to kill him. 

With the million dollar bounty on his head, every gunman and demonic monster is coming out of the pit to collect it.

Tommy has to discover who's out to make him a martyr before he becomes a saint for real.

London is alive with the sound of shadows.
When Tommy Nolan was sent abroad to avoid being made a saint too soon, he thought he'd be a glorified tourist. But when an impossible prehistoric artifact the Vatican is looking at is stolen from the British Museum, they do the first thing that comes to mind -- they call the cops.

But Tommy is soon convinced that the artifact is more than it seems. The crime scene looks like a war zone. The owners of the stolen merchandise eye him with suspicion. His new partner has a shady, mysterious past. The police are ready to arrest him. The city itself seems primed to explode.

Worst of all, the darkness itself is closing in on Tommy, the city, and everyone who lives there.

But Tommy isn't one to curse the darkness. The darkness curses him.

He might be on his last crusadeStill working abroad, Detective Tommy Nolan has a hot tip that leads him to Germany. Women and children are disappearing from Catholic Bavaria. The local police have their hands tied. Tommy is the last hope for answers.

Yet again, Tommy is in over his head. What starts as a sex trafficking ring turns into a terrorist conspiracy to unleash Hell on Europe. To stop it, Tommy must fight Nazi vampires, terrorists, and a swarm of succubi who want him as their next meal. Tommy has always crusaded for justice. But now he might be on his last crusade.

God wills it. A Saint must find a way.All Tommy Nolan wants is some peace to enjoy his family. He’s been to hell and back, and now he needs a break.

But evil doesn’t need to take a breather, and now the Vatican is back on his doorstep asking for help.

A nearby monastery has been desecrated and the exorcist monks murdered in the most brutal ways imaginable. A legion of demons is gathering for something big, and Tommy’s the saint they need to help.

An old enemy is the ally he needs, but can Tommy trust him? Can they track down all of the demons in time?

And what does the Necronomicon have to do with it all?

(No Amazon link yet)

Detective Thomas Nolan has finally returned home. In typical police fashion, he is welcomed home with a murder case and gunfire.

After one arrest goes spectacularly wrong, Tommy is assigned another case and another dead body.

But everything goes wrong from the start of the case. The deceased is a member of a nearby military base, and no one wants to answer his questions. A local bodega gives him mind-splitting headaches. Worst of all, someone is after his children.

To make matters worse — Tommy no longer has his charisms.

Silver Empire Links

And then there's

Too Secret Service

My first serial novel, currently in three parts. The Omnibus edition is coming soon. 

Part 1: 
Part 2

Part 3: 

Dances with Werewolves

Part 1: part 2:

Short stories

Well, this will be odd, considering that many of these are from out of print sources. 

And, of course, we can't forget the short that appeared here.

This one SHOULD be out of print. It's from a press that no longer exists. Which means the remaining copies might be collectors items at this point.

This story hasn't been rereleased yet. Give me time.

Arresting Merlin: A Magical Short Story by [Declan  Finn]
Now, at one point, there was an anthology of the Tales of the Once and Future King. It had a poorly edited frame tale, and had a lot of selections that I've heard mixed reviews over. No, I never got a chance to read it, and the reviews talked me out of trying.

However, the people who left reviews liked my short story, Arresting Merlin, where a beat cop has no idea what's in story for him.

The short story I published here was Zombie Jamboree, where a consultant who is prepared for everything gets to put his contingency plans to the test.

The Pirate King: An AP Ryan Short Story by [Declan Finn, Dawn Witzke]

Mad Dog Moon: A General Mattis short story (Love at First Bite Book 5) by [Declan Finn]

Once upon a time, there was another defunct anthology called MAGA 2020 and Beyond. The anthology is dead, but the short story is not.

Let's just say that I took the nickname of General Mattis a little too literally.

Long before the Heroes Unleashed universe, the Newquists were working on superheroes. 

Places Beyond the Wild: A Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Anthology (Z-Day Book 4) by [Humphreys, Daniel, Corcoran, Travis J.I., Finn, Declan, Piatt, P.A., Schantz, Hans, Del Arroz, Jon, Anjewierden, J.M., Brumley, Bokerah, Paolinelli, Richard, Beckwith, J.D.]

My short story here is "Last Stand of the Mad Dog." 

Let's just say that Dan liked Mad Dog Moon.

Silver Empire link.

Short Story: Lupus Dei

This one is free if you sign up for the Silver Empire Newsletter.

And yes, It's a Saint Tommy short. It's Tommy's first day in Rome after Infernal Affairs.

Then we have the Planetary Anthology books I'm in 

Storming Area 51 (A Bayonet Books Anthology Book 2) by [J. R.  Handley, C.J. Carella, J W Kiefer, Walt Robillard, Michael Gants, Sarah A. Hoyt, Alice Peng, Jamie Ibson, Tim  Niederriter, Phillip  Ginn, E. A. Shanniak, Chris Winder, Marisa Wolf, Aaron Seaman, Doug Burbey, Nathan Pedde, Tim C. Taylor, Casey Moores, Cisca Small, I. Ronik, Michael J. Allen, Alex C. Gates, Declan Finn, IQ Malcolm, Milissa L. Story, J. William Adler, Joshua M. Young, Sophie J. Shepherd, Lawrence N. Oliver, Mel Todd, Drew Avera, Philip K. Booker, Tamsin L. Silver, Robert W. Ross, Daniel Medrano, R. Max Tillsley]

The short story here is Area 51 is Not Enough.

Let's just say that Marco and Amanda are back. And they think the government may just be up to something.
And then, coming up the fun continues.
  • Supernatural streets (An anthology)
  • Hussar (St. Tommy NYPD #8)
  • Destiny (St. Tommy NYPD #9)
Current tally of published works.
  • 26 books total
  • 9 general anthologies 
  • 7 Short stories published by themselves.
And I've only been at this for just over 8 years. Not bad. Obviously, I've been catching up recently, making up for the years that I wasn't publishing more than one a year.

And, while we're all here, I'd like to submit Deus Vult as best horror for this year's Dragon Awards. So, by all means, please vote on that, too.
This has taken two days to do, so I'm going to lie down now. Thanks everyone.