CHIRAL MAD 4: An Anthology of Collaborations is now available!

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Today is the official release date of Chiral Mad 4: An Anthology of Collaborations, now available around the world in hardcover, trade paperback, and eBook. This is perhaps the most ambitious project ever imagined by Written Backwards. The entire book is one giant collaboration: co-editing by Michael Bailey & Lucy A. Snyder, a co-introduction by Gary A. Braunbeck & Janet Harriet, and 16 original works by 36 different contributors, all collaborations. 424 pages!

20,000-word novellas by Bracken MacLeod & Paul Michael Anderson, F. Paul Wilson & Erinn L. Kemper, Emily B. Cataneo & Gwendolyn Kiste, Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear.

10,000-word novelettes by Chesya Burke & LH Moore, P. Gardner Goldsmith & Valerie Marcley, Kristopher Triana & Chad Stroup, and a four-way collaboration by Kristi DeMeester, Richard Thomas, Damien Angelica Walters & Michael Wehunt.

5,000-word short stories by Elizabeth Massie & Marge Simon, Maurice Broaddus & Anthony R. Cardno, Erik T. Johnson & J Daniel Stone, Seanan McGuire & Jennifer Brozek.

And 52 pages of graphic adaptions, including drool-enticing work by Daniele Serra & Brian Keene, Orion Zangara, Glen Krisch & Matt Stockwell, James Chambers, Jason Whitley & Christopher Mills, and a bitter-sweet first and final collaboration of “Firedance” between longtime friends Glenn Chadbourne & Jack Ketchum that spans over 26 pages.

Now available around the world:

US: https://goo.gl/KAw84x
UK: https://goo.gl/dT2tgH
CAN: https://goo.gl/4uznY9
IT: https://goo.gl/hGFfmA
AUS: https://goo.gl/DcwgWm
JP: https://goo.gl/wtzK25
DE: https://goo.gl/gnauxY

Need to catch up on past volumes? Chiral MadChiral Mad 2, and Chiral Mad 3 are also available. Simply click the images below to get started.

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Chiral Mad 3, an anthology of psychological horror nominated for the Bram Stoker Award in Superior Achievement in an Anthology, is available in trade paperback for $14.95, or eBook for $6.95. Fiction/poetry; 361 pages; 9×6 format; illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne; introduction by Chuck Palahniuk.

The third act in the critically-acclaimed series contains 45 illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne, over 20 stories by the likes of Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Ramsey Campbell, Gary A. Braunbeck, Mort Castle, Josh Malerman, Scott Edelman, Richard Thomas, Richard Chizmar and Gene O’Neill, and with 20 intertwined poems by the likes of Elizabeth Massie, Marge Simon, Bruce Boston, Erik T. Johnson, Stephanie M. Wytovich.

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Chiral Mad 2 is available in trade paperback for $14.95, or eBook for $6.95. Fiction; 424 pages; 9×6 format.

An anthology of psychological horror containing twenty-eight short stories by established authors and newcomers from around the world. Featuring the imaginations of David Morrell, Mort Castle, P. Gardner Goldsmith, Ramsey Campbell, Jack Ketchum, Ann K. Boyer, John Skipp, Gary McMahon, Lucy A. Snyder, Thomas F. Monteleone, and many others, with an intro and outro by Michael Bailey. Also features the Bram Stoker Award winning novelette by Gary A. Braunbeck.

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Chiral Mad is available in trade paperback for $14.95, or eBook for $6.95. Fiction; 374 pages; 9×6 format.

An anthology of psychological horror containing twenty-eight short stories by established authors and newcomers from around the world. Featuring the imaginations of Gord Rollo, Monica J. O’Rourke, Jon Michael Kelly, Meghan Arcuri, Christian A. Larsen, Jeff Strand, Gary McMahon, John Palisano, Jack Ketchum, and many others, with an introduction by Thomas F. Monteleone.

CHIRAL M4D!

The fourth volume in the critically-acclaimed and ever-evolving Chiral Mad Series is finally here, and quite different than its predecessors. The official release date is 10/23/18, but you can now pre-order at the links below:

$29.95 / hardback
$14.95 / trade paperback
$6.95 / eBook

Please note that these sale prices are valid until 11/01/18, at which time the hardback will return to a full-price of $34.95, the trade paperback to $19.95, and the eBook to $9.95.

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Chiral Mad 4: An Anthology of Collaborations includes 4 novella, 4 novelettes, 4 short stories, and 4 graphic adaptations. 424 pages! But here’s the catch: Every single story in this anthology is a collaboration. Bram Stoker Award winners Michael Bailey and Lucy A. Snyder even co-edited the anthology to bring you an incredibly diverse and entirely collaborative dark fiction experience, including a co-introduction by Gary A. Braunbeck and Janet Harriett, and a few other surprises.

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The original Chiral Mad was meant to be an only child, and featured mostly short fiction, a few novelettes, and an introduction by Thomas F. Monteleone. The book was a charity project, and raised over $5,000 for Down syndrome awareness ($3,000 of that going to the Down Syndrome Information Alliance). But soon after publication, there was already high demand for a Chiral Mad 2. The second volume contained a few novellas, and an introduction by the book itself. And then Gary A. Braunbeck went and won himself a Bram Stoker Award for his long fiction piece “The Great Pity,” sparking even higher demand for a Chiral Mad 3. Always evolving, the third volume included poetry, illustrations throughout by Glenn Chadbourne, and an introduction by Chuck Palahniuk. And for the first time, the series was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Anthology, with Scott Edelman’s “That Perilous Stuff” nominated for Long Fiction, and Hal Bodner’s “A Rift in Reflection” nominated for Short Fiction, thus sparking an insane amount of demand for a Chiral Mad 4.

And so again, the series evolved.

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The idea for collaborations originated during a bad time for both the horror and science fiction writing communities. Everyone pointing fingers, not really getting along. Everyone seemingly mad at each other and unfriending each other and taking jabs whenever possible. Chiral Mad, perhaps it could help bring people together …

Chiral Mad 4, you want it to happen? Then fucking start holding hands and start singing “Kumbaya” and get along already. Something like that. And since the series is one to ever-evolve, more insane ideas took shape. Why not make the entire anthology a collaborative effort? Why not havea co-editor? And since it’s #4 in the series, why not have 4 different forms of storytelling, with 4 collaborations of each? Why not include graphic adaptations this time, along with novellas, novelettes, and short stories? Why not have a co-introduction? Every single part of the book collaborative … why not?

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The book, it’s huge in both scope and in physical form. 52 pages of graphic adaptations. Something like 120,000 words of new fiction. It’s a tome. So, what can you expect with the fourth (and perhaps final) volume of Chiral Mad? A little bigger price tag, unfortunately: $19.95 for the trade paperback, $9.95 for the eBook, and at some point there will be a hardback edition available for $29.95. It’s worth it. That much is promised. The full insanity? Here’s the final Table of Contents:

“Somewhere Between the Mundane and the Miraculous” (introduction) – Gary A. Braunbeck & Janet Harriett

[ part one ]

“How We Broke” – Bracken MacLeod & Paul Michael Anderson
“Fade to Null” – Brian Keene & Daniele Serra
“Asperitas” – Kristopher Triana & Chad Stroup
“Home and Hope Both Sound a Little Bit Like ‘Hunger'” – Seanan McGuire & Jennifer Brozek
“Golden Sun” – Richard Thomas, Kristi DeMeester, Damien Angelica Walters & Michael Wehunt
“The Substance of Belief” – Elizabeth Massie & Marge Simon
“The Ghost of the Bayou Piténn” – James Chambers, Jason Whitley & Christopher Mills
“The Long and the Short of It” – Erinn L. Kemper & F. Paul Wilson

[ part two ]

“The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward” – Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear
“Sudden Sanctuary” – Glen Krisch, Orion Zangara & Matt Stockwell
“Peregrination” – Chesya Burke & LH Moore
“Ghost Drawl” – Erik T. Johnson & J. Daniel Stone
“Detritus Girl” – P. Gardner Goldsmith & Valerie Marcley
“Wolf at the Door” – Anthony R. Cardno & Maurice Broaddus
“Firedance” – Jack Ketchum & Glenn Chadbourne
“In Her Flightless Wings, a Fire” – Emily B. Cataneo & Gwendolyn Kiste

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Quite the line-up, no? And, as you can see from the above image, Chiral Mad 4 includes a final collaboration with long-time friend Dallas Mayr / Jack Ketchum. The adaptation of “Firedance” is worth the price of admission alone, and runs 26 pages. Dallas, Glenn and yours truly worked our fingers to the bones to bring you something special, something to remember him by.

So, once again, crack the spine, dig your claws deep into these pages, sit back, and enjoy a new kind of chirality.

For a limited time, pre-order the hardback for only $29.95, the trade paperback for $14.95, or the eBook for $6.95. On 11/01/18, prices return, respectively, to $34.95, 19.95, and $9.95.

THE FIRE

Some anniversaries suck …

It’s been a year since the night of the fire, so I thought I’d finally share a few of the details from that night / morning, at least in the form of an incredibly long series of haiku (about 1,500 words total, which I wrote a few months ago just to get it out of me). A few of the hours of the stuff that happened, anyway. National poetry day, or month, or something.

I may use this poem as part of the memoir I’m writing about the California wildfires,  Seven Minutes, but I’m not entirely sure. I’ve written close to 75,000 words about the fire in a matter of two weeks. “Seven minutes” is all the time we had to escape (no evacuation given, other than flames). Those seven minutes are summarized in the poem below, and marked in bold.

HOUSE 8

[ the night of / 10:00 p.m. ]

Power flickers out

Candlelight, dancing shadows

The night is silent

“Is that smoke?” you say

But I can’t smell it just yet

Muted sirens wail

[ 10:30 p.m. ]

Outside the air’s thick

The animals unsettled

Eerily quiet

“Seems closer,” I say

We decide to stay awake

The children, sleeping

[ 11:00 p.m. ]

Distant mountains glow

Soft orange, miles away

Should we be worried?

“Let me check,” you say

The internet or the news

Fire, far away

[ 11:30 p.m. ]

The light is intense

A disturbance of neighbors

Everyone’s awake

“Pack a bag,” I say

Haven’t we done this before?

The firetrucks scream

[ 12:00 a.m. ]

Just a precaution

And then we hear the crackle

Black leaves flutter down

“Should be fine,” he says

When you call someone for help

No, nothing urgent

[ 12:30 a.m. ]

The wind is brutal

An ash-swirling tornado

Throats scratchy and sore

“Stay inside,” I say

Frightened, the kids want to see

Flashlights cut the night

[ 1:00 a.m. ]

This is serious

Red embers like cigarettes

Tumbling firebugs

“It’s so close,” I say

Shouldn’t we expect a call?

Sheriff or police?

HOUSE - 1

[ 1:30 a.m. ]

Evacuation

We aren’t given a warning

The yard is on fire

“In the car!” you say

We make a pass through the house

Grabbing what we can

[ 1:31 a.m. ]

All we need is us

The kids first, and then ourselves

We will be okay …

“What about—” we say

Instantly understanding

The children have pets

[ 1:32 a.m. ]

Other lives to save

I grab the cat by her scruff

Throw her in the car

“Hold her tight,” I say

The boy pulls her close, eyes wide

“Stay inside the car!”

[ 1:33 a.m. ]

The garage opens

Cat number two runs out, scared

Toward the fire

“I’ve got her,” you say

Meaning the girl, hugging her

She follows your lead

[ 1:34 a.m. ]

We stand there, confused

Contemplating the horses

The chickens, bunny

“What should we—” I say

There is nothing left to do

Flip open the coop

[ 1:35 a.m. ]

Surrounded by dirt

The pasture just might save them

In chaos, they’ll die

“I can’t breathe,” you say

Visibility, ten feet

It’s now or never

[ 1:36 a.m. ]

Just once more inside

One final pass through the house

To blow out candles

“They need us,” you say

And I know you mean the kids

So we go to them

[ 1:37 a.m. ]

A last kiss goodbye

You take the truck, me the car

We each have a child

“I love you,” we say

Will we make it out of this?

The fire rages

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[ 1:38 a.m. ]

Looking at my watch

A seven clicks to an eight

Time waits for no one

“You all right?” I ask

Behind us, a firestorm

The boy nods, unsure

[ 1:39 a.m. ]

Firetrucks pass us

Sixty miles per hour

Down the windy road

“That was close,” I say

You follow us no longer

Drive over debris

[ 1:40 a.m. ]

Swerve around branches

Fallen limbs, things afire

Horns blare, tanks explode

“Where are they?” I say

Ahead of us are new flames

Crashed trucks block the way

[ 1:41 a.m. ]

The shoulder, the road

We wait, but you’re not coming

Sixty seconds tick

“See you there,” I say

My call, it doesn’t go through

So I try again …

[ 1:42 a.m. ]

Again, and again

Until we get to the store

Where we planned to meet

“I am here,” I say

You’re a few miles away

They turned you around

[ 1:43 a.m. ]

Back through the fire

I can’t even imagine

Returning that way

“Be there soon,” you say

Time decides to take itself

The longest minute

[ 1:44 a.m. ]

Patiently, we wait

And we wait and wait and wait

Biting fingernails

“My lungs burn,” I say

I wonder about the boy

And long-term effects

[ 1:45 a.m. ]

The line rings busy

We want to hear your voices

To know you’re okay

“Where are they?” he says

The boy, finally awake

Taking it all in

[ 1:46 a.m. ]

It’s coming closer

The raging fire pursues

Fast down the mountain

“Almost there,” you say

This time, I won’t let you go

Until you are here

[ 1:47 a.m. ]

Forever, it seems

Will this madness ever end?

Where did it begin?

“We’re alive,” you say

Through choked breath, your voice so hoarse

At last, you are here!

[ 1:48 a.m. ]

We sound like strangers

Chain-smokers for years, coughing

Holding each other

A family hug

Rapid, adrenaline rush

Death swirling round us

[ 1:49 a.m. ]

We both look around

Hot wind whipping wet faces

A blizzard of ash

“Come here,” a friend says

She heard about the fire

And thought of us first

[ 1:50 a.m. ]

Orange-red-orange

Flames stretch across the highway

Nowhere else to go

“Thanks,” you say in tears

A place to stay for the night

But will it be safe?

[ 1:51 a.m. ]

We can’t stay here long

Emergency vehicles

Cry into the night

“I love you,” we say

Once again separating

Hands trembling, quaking

[ 1:52 a.m. ]

The glow is endless

We cross the bridge, see it all

Flames licking the stars

“Look at that,” I say

Pointing to the mountainside

Everything, gone

[ 1:53 a.m. ]

It rolls like magma

Lava, flowing volcanic

A beautiful sight

“Thirsty?” I ask him

The boy stares out the window

I’ve nothing to drink

[ 1:54 a.m. ]

Roads close behind us

Probably the last ones through

Dodging power lines

“This is nuts,” I say

People driving erratic

Bumper to bumper

[ 1:55 a.m. ]

I follow this time

Run through stop signs and dead lights

Nearly crash; once, twice

“Almost there?” he asks

The roads lost in embers, ash

I am forced to lie

[ 1:56 a.m. ]

Roads become foreign

Disguised by insanity

Anxiety, shock

“It’s all gone,” I say

Under a breath, to myself

Hope, now a mirage

[ 1:57 a.m. ]

We follow red eyes

Taillights guiding through a gray

Much thicker than smog

“Is that home?” he says

‘It was,’ I want to explain

The verb turned past tense

[ 1:58 a.m. ]

We run over limbs

Fiery fingers, curled hands

Crushed under tire

“What was that?” he says

A branch, a head-sized ember

Things fallen aground

[ 1:59 a.m. ]

My heart palpitates

White knuckles grasping the wheel

A harrowing drive

“We made it,” I say

Even surprising myself

A held breath lets out

[ 2:00 a.m. ]

Again we embrace

The four of us, still in shock

Wondering what’s lost

“It’s just stuff,” we say

Replaceable memories

What matters is us

HOUSE 2

[ 2:30 a.m. ]

Radio scanners

Texts, social media tweets

Friends plague-spreading news

“We are safe,” we say

A broadcast message to all

Phones endlessly buzz

[ 3:00 a.m. ]

Middle of the night

Early morning, whatever

It doesn’t matter

Sleep, will it bring death?

Did you hear did you hear did

“You okay?” they say

[ 3:30 a.m. ]

How many homes lost?

How many buildings have burned?

How can we ever—?

“You should sleep,” we say

Impossibly-flat smiles

There’s no way in hell

[ 4:00 a.m. ]

Curled under blankets

We sit outside, breathing smoke

Inhaling the dead

“Think it’s there?” you ask

Meaning the house, rhetoric

‘Gone,’ I cannot say

[ 4:30 a.m. ]

The boy, he gets sick

Curled around the toilet, pale

One cat is with him

“It’s okay,” you say

Rubbing the back of his head

The girl rubs her eyes

[ 5:00 a.m. ]

She stays up with us

Unable to sleep, to cry

Her eyes dry, bloodshot

“Are we safe?” she asks

How can we lie to children?

We somehow manage

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[ the day after ]

Fallen power poles

Our past, our town, a war zone

A nuclear blast

Chimneys pierce the haze

The only things left, unfazed

Home tombstones, relics

Flat charred skeletons

Metal melted to the ground

Cars still smoldering

We break through roadblocks

Some wave us through, most routes closed

Past devastation

Everything black

Everything smoking. burnt

Everything trashed

A lunar landscape

Ruin, annihilation

Utter destruction

Then we find our street

Drive over downed power lines

Hop out of the car

Shoes melt underfoot

Where did it—? Where has it gone?

A campfire stench

Our two-story home

Reduced to a foundation

Walls nothing but dust

We knew what we’d lost

Nothing could have prepared us

For what we’d then find

We couldn’t save them

Reduced to outlines, morbid

Farm animals, gone

Mummified corpses

Some lay peaceful, some mid-stride

Others simply bone

The pastures, empty

The coop, reduced to ghost frames

The horses, where did—?

“The horses!” you say

How did they ever survive?

Burnt, singed, but alive

We find them on grass

An untouched patch of once-green

Their eyes give us hope

We call for our cat

Lost, the one we couldn’t save

Could he be alive?

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Thanks for reading. It’s rough, I know, and incredibly condensed, but some words need to be written. And yes, we eventually found our second cat. After twenty-three days on his own, running from the fire, and through sheer determination and a lot of luck, we found him (pictured left). He is now reunited with his sister (pictured right).

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WOR(L)DS DISSOLVE

With a length of aluminum

Melted tire rim

Resolidified

You prod a block

Flash-fired

Thousands of degrees

Books alongside books

Once trapped in a box

Unsold novels, collections

Wherein seemingly nothing’s written

The metal pushes through

Softly separates the mass

One side falls away, crumbles

Type still there

Sentences

Paragraphs

Characters

Imaginary people

Autobiographical plot

You are a god

And you read the words

Recognize passages

“I wrote that,” you say

“I gave that story life

“I created—”

The words dissolve

As you touch them, gloved

Pages turn to powder

Worlds ruined

Stardust

The aluminum snaps

Brittle, like hard candy

You toss it away

Put your boot through the past

PHOENIX ROSE

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Recipient of the Kirkus Star and described as “Poe-like phantasmagoria amid Stephen King–style naturalism that results in a fictive world that’s familiar yet eerily strange—and plenty scary,” Phoenix Rose, the second novel by Michael Bailey, is back in print in a new second edition format.

This composite novel is available in trade paperback for $12.95, or eBook for $6.95. Fiction; 372 pages; 8×5 format; cover artwork by Michael Ian Bateson.

 

A family is torn apart after a horse foaling goes terribly wrong; a sickly man recounts getting mauled by his neighbor’s dog; an undead priest is reborn into the world a hundred-fifty years after his untimely death; two brothers run for their lives through a dead field of wheat. Holding all of this together is a young boy named Todd, whose survival pivots on the balance of life and death, and a deranged mental patient with a burnt rose tattoo, whose reality is paradoxical.

“An engrossing blend of creepy atmospherics, gory jolts and mind-bending conundrums.”

While Phoenix Rose works as a standalone, it weaves in and out of the events of its predecessor, Palindrome Hannah, which is also now available in a similarly packaged trade paperback for $12.95, or eBook for $6.95. Fiction; 334 pages; 8×5 format; illustrations by Michael Ian Bateson.

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FREE EBOOK WEEKEND (9/15-9/16)

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As a thank you for helping with the Written Backwards eBook Sale, three e-Books will be available for free this weekend only, Saturday through Sunday: three firsts by Michael Bailey: Palindrome Hannah (1st novel), Scales and Petals (1st collection), and Our Children, Our Teachers (1st standalone novelette).

Amazon will list these for $0.00 / £0.00 starting at 12:00am on the 15th until 11:59pm on the 16th. All other e-Book titles part of the Written Backwards eBook Sale are still available for $0.99 / £0.99 through midnight on the 18th.

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Enter a cruel palindrome world: a symmetric place where disturbing situations displace the common; where good acts transmute to evil ones; where windows and mirrors are interchangeable. Within, characters influence each other through macabre arrangements of involuntary happenstance, and learn the inevitabilities of coincidence. A segmented story of a mother and daughter intertwines the others. This hidden sixth story, assembled from the five separate narratives, uncovers the sad life of a child who carries a palindrome name, and her struggling teenage mother. With five stories heading one direction, and Hannah traveling the opposite, the story unfolds like a palindrome. A puzzle within a puzzle.

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Between writing the novels Palindrome Hannah and Phoenix Rose, Michael Bailey penned and published a number of these dark short fiction and poetry pieces, some of which can be found in literary magazines and  anthologies  around the world.  A few of these fallen dragon scales and flower petals, as he likes to call them, are reprinted here, while others are seeing print for the first time, hand selected and arranged by the author. Once you crack the spine, there’s no going back.

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Children are often our greatest teachers, but what happens if the lesson is too heavy to hold? In Our Children, Our Teachers, a high school in rural Brenden, Washington is taken hostage by a gathering of unlikely students trying to teach the world a new lesson … a foreshadowing, perhaps, to darker times ahead for the American education system, if gun control is not addressed properly.

All other Written Backwards titles listed below will continue to run for only $0.99 / £0.99 until midnight, September 18th.

$0.99 Sale

$0.99 / £0.99 EBOOK SALE (9/11-9/18)

Update (9/11, 7:30am): Chiral Mad 3 (in the US only) is having issues with the promotion, and is still being listed at full price. There is currently a trouble ticket in with Amazon to hopefully clear this up, unless you don’t mind paying the full amount. All other books listed below (in both the US and UK) are available for under a buck/pound until midnight, September 18th. Thank you for the support!

$0.99 Sale

To celebrate the soon-to-be released Chiral Mad 4: Collaborations & Adaptations (aka, Chir4l Mad), Written Backwards is running a sale on eBooks simultaneously in the US and the UK, from midnight September 11th through midnight September 18th.

During this time, choose from the original Chiral Mad, Chiral Mad 2, Chiral Mad 3, Pellucid Lunacy (the first anthology by Written Backwards), You Human, Adam’s Ladder, Bones Are Made to Be Broken (the debut fiction collection by Paul Michael Anderson), and / or The Library of the Dead (winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Anthology).

All titles are either $0.99 or £0.99, available on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. If you are a member of Kindle Unlimited, these titles are free. If you have previously purchased the trade paperback, you can get the eBook edition for free. All we ask is that you consider leaving an honest review after giving these books a read.

If you need to catch up on past Written Backwards titles, this is a great opportunity to snag 8 books for under 8 bucks, or pounds, or whatever. To make things easier, here are links to each. From September 11th through September 18th, the price will drop to $0.99 or £0.99. Simply click the book you want and add it to your cart, or just scroll and check out their awesome covers.

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PALINDROME HANNAH

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Palindrome Hannah is back in print! If you are new to the fiction of Michael Bailey, this is where to start. The debut composite novel, first published April 1, 2005 by Unlimited Publishing, is now available through Written Backwards in a second trade paperback and eBook edition, featuring interior artwork by Michael Ian Bateson, and completely redesigned.

Available now in trade paperback for $12.95 (newer 8×5 format, matte finish, 334 pages)  and in eBook for $6.95, or free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

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And coming very soon, a re-release of the follow-up novel, Phoenix Rose, which will be made available in the same formats and for the same new prices.