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Upon Another Edge Broken

Upon Another Edge Broken is out! The second installment of the Colony of Edge series sees Ash Morgan pit her brilliance and optimism against a murder mystery and… a kraken?

I’m really excited to see this one out there. It’s the first book I’ve written since the Big Layoff, and it’s the first step in turning Of a Strange World Made into a full series. There are three more to come after this, and wow am I excited to show you where this story’s going to take you.


The skies rain muck, the AI Traverse looms ever more dangerous, and the new nearby colony threatens to disrupt the status quo.

Now, murder has found its way to the colony of Edge.

Ash doesn’t want anything to do with tracking down a killer. She doesn’t want to delve into the anger and darkness that caused such a horrible event. It frightens her deep down into the core of her being.

But.

Well, it’s just that she’s curious.

More so when she discovers the killer might not even be from Edge. Was this the murder of an innocent scientist, or an attack from a neighboring colony? Is this the culmination of a bitter personal dispute, or is this war?

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Sci-fi Murder Mystery: Upon Another Edge Broken

Murder has come to the Colony of Edge in the second book of the series, Upon Another Edge Broken.

It wasn’t hard to decide to write a murder mystery in the second book of the Colony of Edge series. I love murder mysteries almost as much as I love heists, and science fiction contains some of my favorite mysteries. Whether it’s something like Gun, With Occasional Music or Altered Carbon or Lock In (all affiliate links), I’m right there picking apart clues and fully immersed with the intricate PUZZLE of it all.

Upon Another Edge Broken packs a lot of murder mystery goodness into a novella package, and I loved writing it. But writing a mystery isn’t easy, so it forced me to really think about what I love about my favorite sci-fi murder mysteries. Here are a few of my thoughts:

Characters

Characters are the number one most important thing in all my favorite stories, but there’s MORE needed in a murder mystery. First, the story simply needs MORE characters. I’ve read mysteries where there is really only one viable suspect. Turns out they were guilty. It’s not much of a mystery at that point.

BUT for the stories I really love, I want a few viable suspects, along with a few characters who are NOT viable suspects. Maybe a few in the gray area. Scratch that. I want EVERYONE to live in the gray area. It’s not easy for me as a reader to track all of those characters in a story, so I depend on cues the author gives me.

I’ve seen a bunch of techniques that do this. It can be as simple as a visual cue. The character’s funky goatee is always mentioned, or they always wear a certain style of shirt. It can be an audio cue in the tone of their voice or a certain smell always associated with that character. Done well, it’s SUBTLE, and the reader doesn’t need to actually notice that it’s happening. This is the equivalent of hearing Darth Vader’s theme song whenever Young Anakin is in a grumpy mood. Oh, right, he’s THAT guy.

My favorite by far are emotion-based cues. The point of view character HAS OPINIONS about everyone. Maybe a guy comes across as skeevy, so every time he shows up those emotions take center stage. Maybe the point of view character thinks someone can DO NO WRONG. Well, that’s probably a tip-off that they’re the murderer. Never mind that one.

The point is, I’m BAD at keeping track of a large cast of characters. A good murder mystery helps me out. The coolest part is that the more I lean on this help, the more I’m susceptible to…

Misdirection

Agatha Christie was a master of misdirection. She’d fill her novels with a whole bucket of red herrings, then pick one out at the end and claim that they were the murderer all along. Maybe they were. I don’t know.

A great murder mystery MUST use misdirection. It dazzles the reader with possibilities, playing on dubious qualities of the human condition to offer plausible suspects at a dizzying pace.

Sci-fi murder mysteries are no different, but those possibilities can be further complicated by the introduction of technology. How does someone get away with murder in a surveillance-heavy society? Who has access to a system locked down by security? Who has the power and who thinks they can still get away with anything? The questions change in science fiction, but the result is the same…

The Ah-ha Moment and the Big Reveal

The absolute best thing about a murder mystery is the ah-ha moment, when the surprising yet inevitable clicks into place. Throughout the book, puzzle pieces fly in all directions. The reader grasps at them, decides what’s really important (and who’s lying) and maybe, just maybe, figures things out. Different readers figure things out at a different pace, so the best murder mysteries need to be interesting even if the answer is revealed. For what it’s worth, this is a big part of why I love a good sci-fi mystery. Science fiction stands well on its own. It mixes incredible elements into the story and keeps everything fresh.

Then there’s that BIG REVEAL, where the book reveals the answer. There are a million ways to do it, but it’s so exciting to see how it plays out. Who was the murderer? What are the consequences? How does this change everyone else in the story?

And, in science fiction, we also ask what does this say about the society in which we live? What is it about our culture that leads people to murder? How do we handle that revelation?

Upon Another Edge Broken

A woman in front of a tentacle monster. Upon Another Edge Broken

Murder has come to the Colony of Edge.

Ash doesn’t want anything to do with tracking down a killer. She doesn’t want to delve into the anger and darkness that caused such a horrible act. It frightens her deep down into the core of her being.

But.

Well, it’s just that she’s curious.


Upon Another Edge Broken comes out January 18th. I hope you’ll join me for this mystery in the Colony of Edge. It’s not a big community, it’s not a dangerous population, but they say that about small British towns, too, and look how that turns out.

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Of a Strange World Made

I am extremely excited for the upcoming release of Of a Strange World Made, the very first in my Colony of Edge novella series. You’ll see this book on December 7th at a SPECIAL RELEASE WEEK DEAL of only $0.99 (normally $2.99). Weird genetics, planetary colonization, madness, and some pretty irresponsible science if I’m being quite honest. This is the book you’re going to want to read as 2020 draws to a close.

Stay tuned for more info (or join the Newsletter to be the first to know).

Of a Strange World Made

Scientist Ash Morgan doesn’t mind breaking rules, but this is ridiculous.

The colony of Edge is a bastion on the frontier of space and science, governed only by laws designed to bring humanity to the stars. Successful laws. Outdated laws, if Ash has anything to say about it.

But when a child is born strange, Ash must decide which of the colony’s rules must be followed, which ones can be broken, and which ones will inevitably lead to Edge’s ultimate destruction.

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Eichenlaub Travel Blog: The Backyard Prairie

Look. The world is terrifying right now. Fireworks explode at all hours. “Should we let this disease ravage and destroy us?” is now a partisan question that we take sides on. There is a line for curbside pickup at the library that can take HOURS to get through.

Terrifying.

So this morning I ventured as far as my own backyard prairie and found magic there.

The Stump

There’s a stump in the center of the prairie. The space was once a stand of oaks a thousand years old, predating the city and pulsing with the living memory of ages past. The trees were cut, of course, for the view, but what’s left makes for a lovely place to sit in the early hours of the morning. Soon after the angry sun rises, the prairie becomes uncommonly hot, and the curse of the stump is that no shade shall ever touch it so long as the sun burns hot in the sky.

The path to the stump is buried in bramble and thorn. Should you find the respite of this solitary seat in the center of it all, pause and thank the spirits of nature who granted this rest. Odds are even that they will not allow you to leave.

Flowers

Flowers are many in the backyard prairie. Black-eyed Susans are the most common sight, their dark faces tilted upward to worship the white-hot evil of the orb above. Daisies make their way into the prairie this time of year as well, along with achillea and the flowers of the wicked thistle. It’s a stunning display, and the crafty traveler can collect flowers to display in a vase at home.

Beware the most beautiful flower in the prairie, for she is a vengeful spirit. Her roots run deep into soil the temperature of warm blood, and to insult her with your touch is an offence not often forgiven. To cut her for your display will certainly draw her curse. If, by mistake, you find yourself so cursed, do not worry. The stinging ants will finish you quickly, and the nourishment this flower gains from you will help her grow ever stronger. Ever more beautiful.

The Gate

The gate goes we know not where.

Wildlife

There are bees everywhere: a swarm of sweetness and love. They thrive in among the flowers and thorns, and very few of them wish you harm. There are gophers and rabbits in the prairie, whose only purpose is to feed the hawks above. Deer wander through, as well, and their trails are the only passable way to the darker corners of the yard.

Never follow such paths. The fence keeps out many evils, but also does it keep them in. Fattened deer are the favorite allies of wicked trolls, who seek only to eat nearly ripe tomatoes and human flesh. No tomatoes were planted in the vegetable garden this year, so the trolls are likely quite hungry.

Worth It?

This is a trip well worth the effort, and easily earns its four stars of five.

What magics do you find in your back yard? What curses can you avoid?

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Interview on Four Foxes, One Hound

Hey, all! Head on over to the blog Four Foxes, One Hound and read my interview. I had an excellent time on this with Jeff Salter and I hope you’ll drop in and maybe leave me a comment there.

What’s the topic? Well, we’re talking about Grandfather Anonymous, and you know, that means I’m dropping more stories about my grandfather. I also MIGHT be discussing the Halloween Blizzard. I mean, I AM from Minnesota.

And, of course, if you haven’t already picked up a copy of Grandfather Anonymous, now is a fantastic time to do that. It’s only $2.99 over on the Amazon and you’d be helping me give the algorithms a bit of a boost.

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ConFusion 2020 Schedule

Convention season is beginning! It’s time for ConFusion next week (1/16-1/19), and I’LL BE THERE!

MOST of the time you’ll be able to find me at the bar nursing a single beer for hours on end, as is my custom. However, I DO have a few panels and signings and readings and, well, here’s the schedule:

  • Hand Selling for Fun and Profit – Friday, 1pm Manitou – We’ll be talking about selling books with some really excellent experts on the subject
  • Promoting Your Book–What Works and What Doesn’t – Friday, 2pm, Charlevoix – Come learn how to promote your book. This is THE HARDEST PART of publishing, so come learn from some people who have been doing it a while.
  • Mass Autographing Session – Saturday, 1pm, St. Clair – I mean, I will be doing the normal amount of autographing. With the help of MANY other authors is becomes a mass event. Come to say hi to Scalzi. Stay to chat with me.
  • Ongoing Conversations about AI and Personhood in genre fiction – Saturday, 5pm, Petoskey – We’re talking about AIs in fiction, one of my favorite subjects.
  • Reading: Cherie Priest, Jim C. Hines, and Anthony W. Eichenlaub – Saturday, 7pm, Carlevoix. Look. I’m going to read you a story. You don’t have to like it, but you’re going to have to endure it if you want to also here these TWO OTHER FANTASTIC WRITERS read their stories. I’m pretty excited for this one.

So there you have it. An exciting lineup and a great way to kick off the year.

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The Oak Leaf Cemetery

“I never worry about writer’s block, because when I hold this pen it whispers madness at the edge of hearing.” — satisfied Oak Leaf Cemetery customer

The Oak Leaf Cemetery is the place in the woods you only find by wandering. It lies at the edge of autumn, where the cold and decay long for the living. There, in a tiny shop in the clearing, an array of cursed pens are sold for deeply discounted prices. What deals does this old merchant have for the customers who find him? What temptations does he offer?

“No matter what story I have in my head, this pen always writes of murder!” — another satisfied customer

A voice speaks to you behind the dry whisper of leaves. Its words tug at your very soul. Will you find the pen with which to scribe your fate? Can you tame the curse written in your blood, or will that curse tame you?

“My writing used to suffer from my apathy, but when I hold this pen my blood boils with rage!” — a pleased customer

There is one true path to becoming a great writer, and that is to visit the Oak Leaf Cemetery on the last day of summer. Buy the pen that calls out to your soul and with it write your cursed truths. When at last the final twisted words of your ruined spirit spill out upon the page, that which you desire will be yours. Now available on Etsy.

“The ghost trapped in my pen tells of the hundred men he murdered. What stories!” — a prolific writer and Oak Leaf Cemetery customer

Remember, only the pure of heart can safely wield a pen from the Oak Leaf Cemetery–but only the wicked can wield it well.”