The Colorado Book Awards annually celebrates Colorado’s outstanding literary achievement by commending the accomplishments of its authors, editors, illustrators, and photographers. In this free public reading, finalists will read from their work and attendees can pose questions. Select finalist books will be available for purchase at the readings and through Poor Richard’s Books & Gifts at poorrichardsdowntown.com.
Science Fiction/Fantasy Finalists
Eugene, a wealthy paraplegic, must decide whether to preserve his consciousness forever in a digital utopia or suffer the pain tormenting his existence. Yet the more he learns about digital replication, the more deeply he understands personhood, empathy, and the value of suffering. Nathanial White grew up in Maine and has lived in Mexico, Brazil, and Ecuador. His speculative fiction explores the human psyche, physical disability, culture, technology and consumerism. He currently teaches high school English in the Rocky Mountains of Western Colorado.
Demon Riding Shotgun
Possessed by a demon since she was a child, Mira Fuentes maintains a fragile alliance with the snarky soul who shares her body. Together they hunt down unstable Rifters—demon-controlled humans sowing chaos in the mortal realm. But when a routine hunt leads to a powerful Rifter with plans for Baltimore, Mira finds herself in over her head and at the top of the city’s Most Wanted. Recently retired from the PTF after losing his partner, Ty Williams now works for the Baltimore PD and keeps his distance from cases involving magic. But when a person dies of clearly magical causes and the PTF doesn’t have any agents to spare, Ty is the closest thing the department has to an expert. Saddled with a partner he doesn’t want and a mountain of self-doubt, it’s his job to track down a suspect who looks suspiciously like the one-night-stand he brought home from the bar last night. Between the two of them, Mira and Ty have enough emotional baggage to choke an ox, but if they can get their act together, they just might be able to prevent the human race from becoming meat puppets for the denizens of the Rift. L.R. Braden is the bestselling author of the Magicsmith urban fantasy series, the spin-off novel Demon Riding Shotgun, and several works of short fiction. Her writing has won the Eric Hoffer Book Award for Sci-fi/Fantasy, the First Horizon Award for debut authors, the Imadjinn Award for Best Urban Fantasy, and the Colorado Authors League Award in multiple categories. She and her family live in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies, where she spends her time writing, playing, enjoying the great outdoors, and weaving metal into intricate chainmail jewelry that she sells in her Etsy shop, WimsiDesign.
Denver Moon: The Thirteen of Mars
Warren Hammond and Joshua Viola
It’s been more than two years since Denver Moon discovered that alien shapeshifters infiltrated Mars Colony. Their attempts at human mind-control have failed, but when Denver opens a vault beneath a terraforming facility, she discovers what they really want: to exterminate all inhabitants of the Red Planet. Tatsuo Moon—Denver’s grandfather and the co-founder of Mars City—has been gravely injured. To save him, Denver will need the help not only of her friends, Smith, Nigel, and Navya, but also of humanity’s archenemy, Doctor Werner. To save Mars, she’ll need a miracle. Joshua Viola is a Denver Post bestselling author, Colorado Book Award winner, and the owner of Hex Publishers.
Dark of Night
A recent murder is ancient history in a breathtaking novel about a sacred lost treasure and poisonous retribution by the Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of At First Light. When esteemed historian Elizabeth Lawrence is found in her car, killed by a cobra’s bite, only a brilliant professor of semiotics, Dr. Evan Wilding, can see the signs around her strange death. As he helps homicide detective Addie Bisset decipher the scene, the puzzles left behind offer Evan chilling passage into the mind of a killer. Evan’s investigation merges with that of an Israeli agent, who claims Elizabeth was close to acquiring an invaluable artifact. She was also drawing the attention of unsavory treasure hunters, forgers, and thieves. Was someone desperate to expose the truth of Elizabeth’s astonishing discovery? The deeper Evan and Addie delve into the case, the darker it gets. A murderer’s archaic crimes are just the beginning. In a race where there can be only one winner, the final victim might be Evan. Barbara Nickless is the bestselling author of At First Light in the Dr. Evan Wilding series as well as the Sydney Rose Parnell series, a Suspense Magazine Best of 2016 selection, and winner of the Colorado Book Award and the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence. Her essays and short stories have appeared in Writer’s Digest and on Criminal Element, among other markets. She lives in Colorado, where she loves to cave, snowshoe, hike, and drink single malt Scotch—usually not at the same time.
Deep Waters of Destiny
It’s the late nineties and rival drug cartels are looking to collaborate in the Caribbean. At the center of this dangerous chaos, Gunner, an experienced captain, agrees to pilot a mega-yacht from Palermo to the Caribbean so the Italian and Russian mafia bosses can oversee and celebrate the arrival of the coalition’s first large shipment of drugs. Palmer, a pretty DEA agent, is inserted as a crew member of the “Destiny” to stop the first shipment from Odesa, Ukraine, and arrest the leaders, but she makes friends with the captain. Uncertain of Gunner’s motives, Palmer becomes torn between her growing love for Gunner and her duty to take him down, along with the cartel. During the sail from the Mediterranean to Aruba, they struggle in the grey area between good and evil. This is riveting romantic suspense with a surprising conclusion. Pete Carlson’s debut novel Ukrainian Nights won the Finalist Award in the General Fiction of the Eric Hoffer Awards 2020 program. Carlson’s second novel Tearza was published in December 2020 in the romance/women’s fiction genre. Tearza was selected as a finalist for the Colorado Authors League Book Award and the Annual Midwest Book Award.
The Wrong Woman
Leanne Kale Sparks
Sole survivor of Denver’s notorious “Reaper” serial murders, FBI Special Agent Kendall Beck grapples with her past by seeking justice for victims of abuse. She’s neck deep in a particularly ugly case involving the disappearance of five-year-old Emily Williams—but her investigation is derailed when her best friend and roommate, Gwen, turns up dead floating in a nearby lake. Devastated by the death, Kendall teams up with Denver detective Adam Taylor to find the killer. Gwen’s fiancé, Ty, is being evasive about the last time he saw Gwen, and as the evidence mounts against him, he’s arrested for the murder. With every new clue, Kendall questions how well she really knew her friend. And when Gwen’s secrets begin spilling out, she begins to understand the devastating magnitude of her murder. The Reaper has returned to Denver—and he’s not stopping at just one victim. As the trauma of Kendall’s past comes roaring back, she and Adam have no time to spare before more bodies start piling up. And then Kendall makes a shocking discovery that reveals the horrifying truth behind Emily Williams’s disappearance. Kendall must confront her darkest fears as she and the Reaper face off one more time. After a brief career in criminal law, Leanne Kale Sparks is returning to her first love—writing about murder and mayhem. Currently, she is working on a new series featuring an FBI agent hunting down her best friend’s murderer. The backdrop is the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the playground of her youth, and the place that will always be home. When not writing, she and her husband spend time reading, mountain biking, and spoiling their German Shepherd, Zoe. And drinking wine.