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N. N. Light's Book Heaven presents Duane Simolke #authorspotlight #sciencefiction #shortstories #fiction #mustread

Duane Simolke is pronounced “Dwain Smoky.” My degrees include Belmont University (B.A., ‘89, Nashville, TN), Hardin-Simmons University (M.A., ‘91, Abilene, TX), and Texas Tech University (Ph.D., ‘96, Lubbock, TX), all with a major in English.

I wrote The Acorn Stories, Degranon, Sons of Taldra, Holding Me Together, The Return of Innocence (with Toni Davis), Selected Poems, and New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio. I also edited and co-wrote the spin-off The Acorn Gathering, donating that book’s royalties to the American Cancer Society.


I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and live in Lubbock, Texas.


My writing was published in nightFire, Mesquite, Caprock Sun, Beyond: Science Fiction & Fantasy, The International Journal on World Peace, and many other publications.


I’m a fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, and many other franchises. I also love theater, rock or dance music, travel, cooking, and various Lubbock restaurants.


My love for reading started with the stacks of comic books I sprawled across my bedroom shelves. That later expanded to novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. G. Wells, and Isaac Asimov. During college, I discovered a rich assortment of contemporary and classic works. While I don’t limit my reading, writing, or viewing to science fiction, I’ll always be a major scifi geek.


Though I had started writing both Degranon and The Return of Innocence years earlier, The Acorn Stories became my first published book, initially as an eBook, then later in paperback and hardcover. Over the years, many reviews of The Acorn Stories would follow, including one from Kirkus Reviews and one from N. N. Light’s Book Heaven. Book reviews and accompanying interviews from the popular book blogs The Redhead Notes and Tweetables brought attention to the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Acorn Stories.


With several other releases during those two and a half decades, I’ve kept learning more about the world of indie publishing while still discovering a mixture of indie and traditionally published works. Resources like N. N. Light’s Book Heaven have helped me reach a wider audience for my writing and my expansion into social media.


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Title The Acorn Stories         

Author Duane Simolke

Genre Fiction, Short Stories


Book Blurb


“A lush tangle of small-town life branches out in this engrossing collection of short stories.” –Kirkus Reviews.


Visit Acorn, Texas, for the German festival, a high school football game, homemade apple pie from the Turner Street Café, and the cool shade of a hundred-year-old oak tree. Meet dedicated teachers, shrewd business owners, smitten lovers, and concerned neighbors. See how lives become intertwined in moments of humor or tragedy.


From romantic comedy to razor-sharp satire to moments of quiet reflection, these tales explore the humor, drama, secrets, and scandals of small towns.


Free with Kobo Plus.


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Title The Acorn Gathering (Editor/Co-Author)

Author The Acorn Gathering: Writers Uniting Against Cancer.

Genre Fiction, Short Stories


Book Blurb


From a scandal-rocked town in West Texas to the Blackfeet Indian reservation in Montana, these short stories take readers to surprising places in America and the human heart. Fiction by Jan Chandler, Huda Orfali, Duane Simolke, Timothy Morris Taylor, Shawna R. Van Arum, and Bill Wetzel. Edited by Duane Simolke. All royalties go to fighting cancer!




The Acorn Gathering is the long-awaited spin-off from The Acorn Stories, a story cycle set in the fictional West Texas town of Acorn, published in 1998.


Some of the tales in The Acorn Gathering continue plots from The Acorn Stories. The others use a variety of new settings and characters. This collection stands on its own, giving readers any background details they might need about the characters, so readers need not start with The Acorn Stories.


Five writers joined me in contributing stories to this project. Not wanting to stifle individual artists’ voices, I accepted their works without insisting on everyone following the exact same punctuation traditions, in cases where those traditions differ according to which style book one checks. However, I corrected typographical errors and consulted with individual authors when I saw a definite need for larger changes in their work.


I invited the authors to share their talents and their vision. The resulting anthology provides a variety of voices more diverse than I ever created with my fictional narrators, yet more cohesive than I ever imagined. My original idea of setting all the stories in my fictional West Texas town of Acorn proved too limiting. Still, the writers paralleled each other’s stories with similar themes, issues, conflicts, and chance encounters. That cohesive echoing seemed especially surprising to me, since most of the authors wrote their stories before reading the other stories.


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Title The Return of Innocence: A Fantasy Adventure

Author Duane Simolke with Toni Davis

Genre Fantasy/Humor/YA


Book Blurb


Though born to a noble maternal lineage, Sasha Varov lives in exile on a dangerous island. Her family faces constant threats from deadly weather and deadlier dragons. That family sends sixteen-year-old Sasha back to their beloved kingdom of Jaan to buy seeds. She stumbles into adventures and becomes an accidental legend, known as “Innocence.”


Her next visit gets complicated.


Free with Kindle Unlimited.




Sasha descended the balconies in the dark, happy with herself for getting through to the king a little and for using the climbing skills she learned in Tekari. However, she forgot to put her veil back on.


She jumped to the ground from the lowest balcony, one story down, facing two Kemsans. Both men drew their broadswords.


“You just can’t stay away, can you?” one of them asked. His helmet concealed his face, but his voice revealed pride in catching her. His broadsword scraped against the hilt of the one that rested in her sheath, blocking her from drawing it.


“You can put the swords away,” Sasha told them. “I’m well aware of Tay-lii’s orders that you deliver me alive and without injury.” I really hope he said something like that, Sasha thought, and that my exercises are paying off. She eyed the soldiers up and down, guessing at their weight, and noting which hands they used for their swords.


“Fair enough,” said the other Kemsan, and they both sheathed their swords. “We don’t need those for taking a little child like you.” He grabbed at her with both hands, and she used those hands to pull him off balance, flinging him head first against the castle wall.


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Title Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure          

Author Duane Simolke

Genre Science fiction


Book Blurb


On the planet Valchondria, no illness exists, gay marriage is legal, and everyone is a person of color. However, a group called “the Maintainers” carefully monitors everyone’s speech, actions, and weight. The Maintainers also force so-called “colorsighted” people to hide their ability to see in color.


The Iroquois scientist Taldra sees her twin gay sons as the hope for Valchondria’s future, but one of them becomes entangled in the cult of Degranon, and the other becomes stranded on the other side of a doorway through time. Can they find their way home and help Taldra save their world?


Winner of a StoneWall Society Pride In The Arts Literary Award.


“A fascinating scifi excursion.” –Ronald L. Donaghe, author of Cinátis


“Well written and fun.” –Blogger Girls


This revised, twentieth anniversary edition includes the opening chapter from Sons of Taldra: A Science Fiction Adventure.




Jase-Dawn was far too familiar with his cruelty to want to step onto his electric walk-help again, after it transmitted a fire virus into his boots the last time and nearly incinerated him. Still, he placed his feet on it, one boot at a time, while waiting for an acknowledgment, knowing it was too wide to walk around, and that he couldn’t reach Geln’s office any other way. He tapped the back heel of his left boot against the metal grating of the walk-help, as if testing for traps.


The digital watch in the corner of his right contact lens said 7 S; the graduation ceremony started at 7:45 solar! He had already put on his blue and black university uniform (even the braided headband that stood out too much on his closely cropped hair), for fear Geln would delay him until after the time for the chief instructor to hand out the microchips. And he had just trimmed his beard and mustache so closely that they almost seemed inconsequential, which is how he tried to think of Geln—an occasional nuisance in his life who liked to think of himself as a godfather and mentor.


A rumbling stirred under his feet, even more than the usual moan of a walk-help activating. Geln’s door withdrew into the ceiling as the acknowledgment signal buzzed. The walk-help jerked forward, almost tossing Jase-Dawn backwards.


A giant robot claw grabbed at the air just in front of his throat…


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Title Sons of Taldra: A Science Fiction Adventure

Author Duane Simolke

Genre Science Fiction 


Book Blurb


In an alternate reality, the human home world of Valchondria comes together under a constitution based on the Iroquois Federation. Centuries later, the Iroquois scientist Taldra becomes Valchondria’s Leader.Now Taldra and her twin gay sons must form new alliances as humanity faces a race of alien shapeshifters intent on using people as a food source. One of Taldra’s rivals might pose an even greater threat.

“Refreshingly different, and at its beating heart is some much needed diversity that slots in effortlessly and with purpose.” –Sebastian J. Brook, Doctor Who Online

“Overall, this book was a quick fun read for anyone who enjoys sci-fi and adventure books. The plot was compelling and the characters were engaging.” -Fiction Flock




“We’ll be in their scanning range soon, if we’re not already,” said Captain Laaron. He straightened the one-sided collar of his black jacket. His holo-emitter revealed several planets, orbiting a yellow sun. Rings circled one of the planets. Another shone bright blue from its abundance of water.


He touched the last image, magnifying it. “Valchondria.”


“It looks peaceful from space,” said Lieutenant Kee, “but so does our world.”


Lieutenant Em ran her brown fingers across her shaved head. “Until you get close enough to see the explosions.”


“The Valchondrians might be more peaceful than we’ve heard,” Laaron said. He decided not to mention again that the remaining solar battery wouldn’t get them back to Degranon. “We shouldn’t assume the propaganda our leaders gave us is accurate, especially considering the exhaust they spewed about our fellow Degran circles.”


Kee pointed at the holo-image of the home world. “Then we shouldn’t believe the Valchondrians see us as violent religious fanatics?”


“Could you side the sarcasm and run a diagnostic?” Laaron asked. “We also have to figure out how to make a safe landing with that crystal whatever-it-is jammed in our hull.”


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1 comentário

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
29 de mai.

Thank you for sharing your writing journey and books with our readers!

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