Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Bandit Book Bloggers tour: Shadow over Avalon.

Today I am featuring Shadow over Avalon by C.N. Lesley

Beyond the mists of time, a dying warrior binds his soul to his sword with an oath to protect his people. His shade rides with the Wild Hunt while he waits for the call of greatest need, but when it comes, he doesn't know it is a lie.
In the undersea city of Avalon, Arthur nears the end of his acolyte training. But he doesn't want to spend his life serving the Archive, he wants to fight side by side with the air-breathing people to defeat the predators who are determined to ensure their own survival no matter the cost.
Ashira, War Maid princess of the surface-world, is ready to sacrifice her life to defend her kin, but when she is betrayed she must choose whether to die with honor or become one of the creatures her kinsmen fear and loathe.
Fortune twists in the strongest hands. This is no repeat; this is what happens next.

Following two threads of time, CN Lesley's fresh take on the Arthurian tales of old delivers the perfect blend of science fiction and fantasy.

About the author:

Elizabeth Hull, writing under the by line of C.N.Lesley, lives in Alberta with her husband and cats. Her three daughters live close by. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth likes to read and to paint watercolors. She is also a keen gardener (despite the very short summers) and now has a mature shade garden. Once a worker in the communications sector, mostly concentrating on local news and events, she now writes full time, and fusses over her cats. She was senior managing editor of FlashMe Magazine and now is assistant flash fiction editor for Abyss and Apex.


Purchase info:
Paperback  ISBN  978-1-1909845
USA $16.99                         UK £9.99
Kindle        ISBN  978-1-909845-25-1
UA $4.99                       UK £2.99
ePub           ISBN  978-1-909845-26-8
USA $4.99                           UK £2.99

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Spotlight on the cover artist
Never judge a book by the cover, right? Yeah none of us do that, do we? None of us browse the bookshelves of our local store, waiting for our eye to be drawn to that standout image, we know is going to suck us down a magic portal to a whole new world. The cover is what attracts us to a book, makes our hands tingle as we long to touch it, as we pray the story will live up to the beautiful design we can't take our eyes from. If you are a writer, the cover is your big chance to grab a drive-by browser, a shopper on the verge of becoming a reader. If you are a writer you need your cover to stand out and shout, pick me up, take me home and read my brains out!
And so, I give you Noelle Pierce of Selestiele Designs - Take it away, Noelle!

Thanks for having me on your blog, Paul!

 I've been an artist since I was little, and while I ultimately earned a degree in a different field, creating and appreciating art has always been a huge part of my life. In undergrad, I studied studio art as a minor, with a concentration in photography. I didn't know what graphic art was back then—computers (for me) were a way to communicate with people through email and the Internet chat rooms, type papers, and play Solitaire. Little did I know.

One of the most frustrating things in my art classes was being able to translate what was in my head onto the paper. If I copied what I saw (photograph, still life, etc.), I did well, but if I had to conceptualize and render…not so much. But I still tried.
My graduate degrees in psychology and education took a lot of time away from my art, and in the meantime, computers and software were advancing in ways I'd never dreamed possible. In 2010, I started playing free software to make a book cover for a story I was writing. Since reading was also a life-long pastime, I thought to merge my interests. I started paying more attention to the covers on my favorite books. Which covers caught my eye in the bookstore, and which ones made me stop and actually pick the book up to read the back description.
Tutorials on how to use Photoshop on YouTube became my obsession. At one point, I had a "book cover" for every novel, novella, and short story I'd ever written. I was making covers for fellow authors on Harper Collins' digital slushpile site, Authonomy. I joined DeviantArt and paid attention to the artists whose work I liked best. I studied their works, and spent inordinate amounts of time on my free image manipulation software. While I'd been unable to produce the images in my head on paper before, with computers and photomanipulation, I suddenly could. Some artists are amazing in any medium they choose. Others prefer one or two to convey their work—I'd found my medium.
By 2012, I'd created book covers, Facebook headers, and business cards for friends, and some of them wanted to pay me for the work. I was officially a freelance digital artist, and Selestiele Designs was born. Once I got serious, it was time to pull out the big guns—I bought Adobe's Creative Suite and familiarized myself with Photoshop and Illustrator. Self-taught myself to paint digitally. And I've never had so much fun at a job.
Where to find me:
Here are some samples of Noelle's work -
Noelle has a ton of samples as well as different options to choose from on her website. Do check them out if you are in the market for a quality book cover.
And one last one, Noelle designed this cover for me when I was on Authonomy. I think it is visually stunning, but more than that it completely captures the essence of the story. Without wishing to sound too arty-farty, it is a cover with soul.




Saturday, 12 October 2013

Bandit Book Bloggers Tour - The Art Of Forgetting (Rider - Book 1)

Buy it on Amazon US
About the author:

Joanne Hall lives in Bristol, England with her partner.  She enjoys reading, writing, listening to music, gaming, watching movies, eating cake and failing to exercise.

A full-time author since 2003, Joanne’s “New Kingdom” fantasy trilogy was published by Epress Online, and was a finalist in both the PLUTO and EPPIE awards. Her short stories have appeared in many publications, both print and online, including Afterburn SF, Quantum Muse, and The Harrow.

She has had short stories published in several anthologies, including “Pirates of the Cumberland Basin” in Future Bristol, and “Corpse Flight” in Dark Spires.  Her short story collection, “The Feline Queen” was published in March 2011 by Wolfsinger Publications.

For the last four years, Joanne has been the Chair of BristolCon, Bristol’s thriving science fiction and fantasy convention.  She also runs the Bristol Fantasy and SF Society Facebook group, and occasionally works in an editing position for Dark Ocean Studios, a small comics company based in San Jose, as well as taking on freelance editing projects.
She is the co-editor with Roz Clarke of “Colinthology”, a tribute anthology to their friend Colin Harvey, which also includes her short story “Lukewarm in Lynhelm.”  “Colinthology” was published as an ebook in October 2012 by Wizards Tower, and a print edition may be forthcoming.
Author Links:
Joanne is also the chair of BristolCon an annual science fiction and fantasy convention. It kicks off in two weeks. Here's some info.
Small but almost perfectly formed – BristolCon 2013...

The fifth instance of the south-west's own speculative fiction convention is almost upon us. With just a few weeks to go before the doors open on the fifth annual BristolCon, the convention team are kicking into overdrive. The venue and the guests of honour are long-since booked, but preparations are now frantic, as the spaces for dealers and artists are finalised and the intricate work of assembling the discussion panels is underway.

This years' VIPs are Philip Reeve, Storm Constantine, and Mark Buckingham. Philip Reeve started writing science fiction as soon as he could hold a pencil, and now writes steampunk and historical fiction for children and young adults. Even you haven't heard of Mortal Engines or the Larklight series, a child near you will be impressed by his comic work on Horrible Histories and Murderous Maths.

Storm has had a long and shimmering career writing distinctive SF and fantasy such as the Wraeththu novels. She challenges the boundaries of science, sexuality, myth and magic. She is also the founder of Immanion Press, which publishes books that would otherwise be out of print.

Mark Buckingham is a comic book artist with a CV to die for – he's worked for both Marvel and DC, on the kind of comics that get taken seriously – Hellblazer, Marvelman, Fables and the Death miniseries, amongst others.

Other guests include writers Paul Cornell, Juliet E. McKenna, Anne Lyle, Gareth L Powell, and artist Jim Burns. The team are building a programme that aims to cover some of the hottest topics in speculative fiction. BristolCon has a reputation as a relaxed and informative convention for professionals, but also a safe and welcoming space for fans and first-time con goers. If panels aren't your thing, you can enjoy the art show, and books, comics and merchandise will be available in the dealers・ room and authors will be available for book signings. There will also be our now-infamous pub quiz and live music in the evening.

MEG, chief programmer, is currently neck-deep in panelist response forms. She says:

的'm thoroughly enjoying all the enthusiasm that's coming through on the participation forms. The volume of so many volunteers can cause a bit of a headache in trying to provide something for everyone but the sense of fun and family render it less stressful and more of a community gathering. It makes me feel I'm appreciated and that it's all worthwhile.”

Tickets are available in advance from at £20 and on the door for £25. The event takes place in the newly refurbished and rebranded DoubleTree Hotel (formerly the Ramada) on Redcliffe Way.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Robswall Castle
A little while ago a friend, Andrea Baker asked me to be a guest on her blog. She was running a weekly guest spot with castles being the theme. This is what I came up with.
 I love castles, I have done since a very young age. I grew up on old swash-bucklers, Errol Flynn as Robin Hood, Knights, King Arthur, Crusaders, you get the idea. There was always a castle siege, a huge battle with enormous amounts of extras, no computer graphics back then. A fight scene at the end, inside the castle. They’d vault the throne, swing from the tapestries, fight backwards up the steps. They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Now I write fantasy books, epic adventures, battles and larger than life heroes.
But I’ve always loved real castles too. I spent hours, as a boy, exploring old ruins imagining what it would be like to be a knight manning the battlements, hero and conqueror all in one. I also grew up beside one of the best preserved castles in the country. Malahide Castle attracts thousands of tourists every year, indeed I spent a large portion of my youth in the grounds of Malahide Castle, getting up to things perhaps not envisaged by the park wardens. But enough of that.
You see, it’s not Malahide Castle, or one of the many other ancient ruins, that sprang to mind. Nor is it a huge Norman castle from one of my childhood favourite movies. It is a much smaller, much less grand castle that I immediately thought of. A two storey (once three storey) tower castle, on the coast road between Malahide and Portmarnock in North County Dublin. In fact these days it’s someone’s house. Robswall Castle.
There’s a story to it, well a made-up story, made-up by me. You see one winter’s night two boys were walking past Robswall Castle… okay it was me and my mate. Me and my friend Stevo were walking along the coast road one night, it was raining, cold sleety rain, and a wind was howling in from the Irish Sea. I pointed to the big bay window hanging over the road and said to Stevo, ‘Imagine an old woman sitting on a rocking-chair, endlessly knitting, just sitting there staring out at everybody who walked past, the only sound the clicking of her knitting needles. Well this one throw-away remarked freaked both of us out so much we legged it all the way home, giggling like schoolgirls. We still laugh about it today.
Anyway the image stuck with me, and I decided to write a book about it… at least I started a book about it, it’s not finished yet. Below is an extract, in fact it’s the opening of the book.
I have this recurring dream, I’m twelve years old and walking the Coast Road between Malahide and Portmarnock in north County Dublin. It’s late, over head is a clear, dark sky, pinpricked by countless shining stars. A round yellow moon hangs low in the inky blackness illuminating the sea. I can hear the waves lap at the rocks below the seawall. It is winter, I can taste frost on my tongue, feel the chill in the air stinging my nose and ears.
I’m frightened, I don’t like the dark. I don’t like being out at night when there is nobody else around. I don’t like the feeling of being watched from the darkness. My heart beats faster, I can feel myself close to tears as I quicken the pace, constantly looking over my shoulder. I imagine being pursued by wild, rabid dogs, a pack working in unison, stalking me. A crisp packet is blown along the footpath by the breeze, making me look sharply in that direction. I jump at every sound.
I can see Robswall Castle now, its great bay-window hanging over the road. More of a tower than a castle, converted into somebody’s house, it sits on a bend on the road, overlooking the Irish Sea. That’s when I hear the clicking sound. Click- click, click-click. It sounds familiar but I can never place it straight away. I’m running by the time I reach the castle, the cold winter air freezing in my throat as I gulp down as much oxygen as a terrified, twelve year old boy can.  I sense, more than see the curtains move. Then another sound joins the clicking, creak – creak. This freaks me out more than the thought of the feral dogs chasing me, or of any other terror my young mind can conjure from often heard tales. Banshees, ghouls and vampires. Stories to feed the imagination and night terrors of a young boy.
I can see clearly now, how I don’t know. I’m still outside on the road, but I can see beyond the huge window, right into the room. I see an old woman, rocking back and forth in a rocking chair.
Creak – creak.
In her lap is a ball of wool, her hands work furiously with a pair of knitting needles.
Click – click.
This is no kindly grandmother knitting a pair of socks for a baby grandchild. One look from her and I know my blood will freeze, one glance from the black eyes in her head and I will lose my soul forever.
On and on the needles click, as she rocks back and forth. Forever in that bay window, waiting for unsuspecting travellers to wander by, on dark cold nights.
“Is this why you killed those women?” The shrink’s monotone voice interrupts my retelling of the dream, breaking my concentration.
“No, the Devil made me do that,” I answer, keeping a straight face as he scratches into his clipboard with a plastic biro.
The Devil never made me do anything in my life, at least I don’t think he did, but it amuses me to give these morons what they want.
© Paul Freeman 2012
You can check out Andrea Baker’s blog here.
Buy her book, World's Apart: Leah here