Monday, 25 August 2014

Book Review - Poets in Hell


It’s hard to know what to expect from a book titled ‘Poets in Hell’, at least I hadn’t a clue until I turned the first page. What I got was something quite mad, that’s mad in an absolutely wild, clever, surreal and brilliant way.

I like fantasy, and I like it dark, this is probably what attracted me to a book set in the vast expanse of hell, what a brilliant playground for a group of writers to unleash their imaginations. Of course, the idea of a collection of stories about poets doesn’t exactly conjure an image of action and adventure, but I can say, this group of wordsmiths may have lived sedate, studious lives, but death gets seriously real for them. There is such a wild, eclectic mix of characters in this collection, all bound together with a common theme, and a running consistency that speaks of very clever world building, behind the scenes. Although each author has his or her own take on hell and the, madcap adventures they put their characters through, there are also common themes and characters binding the collection together and giving the book a strong feel of oneness, giving the reader the feel of roving through the many layers of hell, like some kind of traveller roaming through space and time witnessing all of the action up close.

 As I said there are consistent rules running through the collection. Wars are fought in hell, murders committed, anything that happened in life can happen in hell, but generally with horrible consequences. Food tastes like shit, literally, nothing is as it seems, if something appears good it’s most likely just a trick of the devil’s to torment the soul even further. Shakespeare, Yeats, Genghis Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte, Helen of Troy… the cast is endless and limitless. They live, love and lose all in hell.

A good book? Hell yeah!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Cover Reveal For Shadow King

I'm happy to be part of the cover reveal for Jennifer Eifrig's Shadow King, sequel to Discovering Ren. Here is my review of Discovering Ren:

Isadora Ambrosine is an archaeologist with a speciality in Ancient Egypt. Charged by the director of her museum to put on an exhibition of magic in the museum, she travels to Cairo to research her subject. While walking through a packed market, she has a strange encounter with a mysterious woman who gifts her a collection of, what appear to be, ancient amulets. On her return to the US, she and her husband are attacked by a group of would be assassins, during the ensuing struggle she discovers a hidden gift for magic. And so it begins.

While her husband lies in a coma in hospital, Isadora begins a journey of self discovery where she learns she is an incarnation of the goddess Isiss, her responsibilities include the small matter of the defence of mankind against a horde of demons, vampires, and the biggest villain of all, her own brother in law Seth, who is an incarnation of the god Set. Although Set/Seth is a despicable bad guy, who allows his petty jealousies and paranoia to take control of him, you can’t help but feel a little sorry for him, and get the feeling his role had been pre-ordained, mirroring previous incarnations in an endless battle with his sister in law whom he both longs for and despises.

This book is jam-packed with magic, myth, and action. Isadora is a real super hero who must quickly assimilate her new role as defender and champion of humanity against the darkness, with her old life as wife, and research archaeologist.

And here is the cover for Shadow King... Ta - da!

So rush out and grab a copy of Discovering Ren and get ready for book 2, Shadow King!

Discovering Ren US

Wednesday, 6 August 2014


Tribesman is currently free on Amazon until Thursday 8th August.

A warrior in exile seeks a path home.
Banished from his homeland, a warrior of the Northern Clans grows weary of life in a harsh, alien land.
With the dark god Morrigu haunting his dreams, and a desert princess as a companion, Culainn, a warrior and champion sets forth on a journey north in search of a merchants daughter abducted by clansmen and taken back across the mountains. Through a land baked by a scorching sun, where bandits roam free and dark beasts stalk the night.
An ancient evil is rising from the desert. A Benouin myth of a ghost city inhabited by the souls of their ancestors, a bridge to the Underworld is unleashing demonic creatures on an unsuspecting world. Culainn and Persha, warrior and mage stand alone against a tide of darkness. All the while, Morrigu, the dark war god of the north seeks to use Culainn as her own tool, her own champion.

Buy it here:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon AUS

Amazon CA

Amazon DE

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Book review - Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.

Two things, for me, made this book stand out from many other books in the epic fantasy genre. A lot of fantasy stories centre around the premise of a dark lord rising in the east, or the west or wherever. Or a prophesy of a dark lord rising in the east or west… about a hero or group of heroes, overcoming huge odds, to stand against the colossal threat emerging from the shadows. In this book however, the evil overlord has already won. The tagline of the book is ‘what if the Dark Lord won?’ And that in a nutshell is where we start, with an evil, omnipotent emperor, a godlike figure ruling over a thousand year empire inhabited by two very separate classes of people, the Skaa, a downtrodden, oppressed group of people, who are treated as slaves and forced to live in inhuman conditions, with no rights whatsoever. In fact their overlords, the nobles, are actually obliged to kill any Skaa women they sleep with, in order to prevent cross breeding between the classes. The nobles live very different lives, centred around lavish balls and very privileged backgrounds, and rule over the Skaa in a sort of Spartan – Helot way. The landscape is incredibly bleak with plumes of ash constantly spewed over a barren land, devoid of all colour and beauty, and where a mist, thick with wraiths, rises every night… think Mordor on a bad day. Over all this, the Lord Ruler rules.

The other thing that leaps out at me is the magical system. Most fantasy books—though not all—have one. In the Final Empire an elite group, mostly from the noble class, have the power to enhance their attributes by ingesting and then calling on, ‘burning’ a specific metal to access certain supernatural powers. Each metal gives the user a different enhanced power, for example, burning pewter enhances physical abilities, such as strength and endurance etc, burning steel or iron allows the ‘Misting’ to push or pull on nearby metals, allowing them to throw or drag metallic objects or even fly through the air using the metal as a base. Most of the gifted users, called Mistings can only use one metal, and specialise in one particular gift. However there are a small number of Mistings who can use all ten, and these are called Mistborn.

So, the basic premise of the story is about a group of skilled Skaa, with the help of a gifted street urchin who turns out to be a powerful Mistborn, attempt to overthrow the empire… but, in an unusual way. The group attempt to con the nobles into bringing down the empire by instigating a ‘house war’ amongst the elite class. It’s a ‘sting’ and just like the movie ‘The Sting’ it’s slick and suave and, basically, unbelievable. However, it’s a fantasy novel, and suspension of believe is a prerequisite, and it’s a really good, engrossing read. The story and characters develop really well and utterly hook you. I have to admit towards the end there were a couple of instances where I thought, ‘well why didn’t he just do that in the first place? Well, one in particular. But I can forgive that.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Book Review - Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence -

I really liked this book. I know there has been a bit of controversy over the MC's attitude and seeming lack of conscience, but for me this actually made it more appealing. I was curious to see what made Jorg tick. Sure, initially he comes across as an utter bastard, and even had he not suffered the trauma of watching his mother and brother brutally killed, you get the feeling he would still have turned out a bollocks. However as the story unfolds we realise he is more complex than simply a psychopath, and there are other forces at play.
In fairness, I prefer flawed heroes, and with Jorg we don't get a hint of a dark past, we get smacked in the face with it. I enjoyed the experience. Without spoiling the story, I was a little put off by the origins of the builders, especially the scene with the door, it took me out of the mood a little, I realise it is part of the overall story, and part of the world created, and it certainly wasn't enough to put me off enjoying the read. Another thing I had a hard time getting my head around was the age of Jorg, he seemed very young to have such developed feelings, words and actions, but age is relative to the average life-span, and well, when 40 is old age it doesn't take a huge leap. Overall I really enjoyed the book, and will definitely read the next one.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Book review -The Gorge by Jason McPherson


One of my favourite things about The Gorge is the setting. What an epic location for a creepy story involving dark voices, a charismatic cult leader and the ghosts of a long dead Indian tribe. The vast wilderness of The Blue Ridge mountains, expertly described by the author, lends itself to a wild, creepy story, both violent and scary in equal measure, but never predictable.

Nathan Mires is comfortable in and knows the mountains well, it is the obvious place to flee when voices in his head cause him to go on a murderous rampage, but the voices know the mountains very well too and tighten their grip on him, using him as a physical force to defend their sacred grounds against any they deem as unwanted intruders. Nathan is powerless against them and succumbs to their will, killing more. The story could have followed a predictable path here, with a background of Native American spirits in a wild and lonely environment, but new storylines and layers are added to an already thrilling creepfest. A pastor with a devoted following stirs up trouble in the local town, setting his flock on a collision course with Mires and a far darker evil than even a cult leader with a god complex can comprehend.
Buy The Gorge -

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A review of Book of the Forsaken by Yannis Karatsioris:

The Book of the Forsaken is one of the most unusual and original fantasy stories I’ve read. Basically centred around three main characters, all of whom possess special powers of one sort or another; a petty-criminal Irishman who can manipulate fire and project his sight to see what is happening elsewhere, a suave French bookseller who can teleport anywhere, and a Russian magician who can perform much more than mere illusions, particularly when it pertains to death; handy as he doubles as an assassin. A fourth character who is also the narrator and some sort of demi-god, not only tells the story but becomes actively involved in order to manipulate events.

The three men are each given separate tasks which brings them all together at a live event – a magic show performed by the Russian trickster in Moscow. The Irishman is aided in his release from prison in order to assassinate a Russian government minister at the event. The Frenchman is instructed to steal a rare book from the German ambassador, and finally the Russian magician is also instructed to murder a government minister, but not the same one as the Irishman. All three perform their tasks and are brought together with much manipulation by the narrator who enters the scene as a character.

With the three main characters now together and in possession of the book, a whole mystery opens up to them, twisting and turning, involving two fantastical groups, The Magi and The Forsaken Races. The Book of the Forsaken is the key to a deadly game played out between these two groups. What part does the narrator have to play in this game? And what is the fate of the three main characters? Intriguing question to be found in The Book of the Forsaken!
Buy the book on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Chasing Azrael: Gritty New Paranormal Mystery Series Raises Vital Awareness of Bipolar Disorder.


The ‘Deathly Insanity’ series uses gripping urban mystery and heaps of the paranormal to keep its readers on the edge of their seats. However, the series is also serving a vital dual-purpose by openly examining societal attitudes towards Bipolar Disorder and Depression. The first volume, ‘Chasing Azrael’, sees author Hazel Butler serve up the perfect start to what’s poised to be a best-selling series.


 Whilst many authors write for fame and profit, Hazel Butler is publishing books to garner attention of a very different sort – attention for Bipolar Disorder. Because many either misunderstand this condition or shun it completely, Butler uses a unique fusion of urban mystery, the paranormal, and a hint of romance, to study exactly how society perceives mental illness and what it is like to live with such conditions, both for patients and their loved ones.

 The ‘Deathly Insanity’ series will delight fans of Kelley Armstrong, Charlaine Harris and Laurell K. Hamilton – or just about anyone else enjoying adult-geared fiction with a twist of the unexpected. A Paranormal Mystery series set to delve into the darkest aspect of human (and inhuman) nature, the series’ first volume is ‘Chasing Azrael’.


 When Andee Tilbrook's husband died, her preoccupation with death turned to obsession. Thanks to her unique ability to commune with the dead, her husband remains all too close, yet never close enough. Mired in grief, she clings to James's spirit, slowly losing touch with the world, her friends, and any desire to continue living.

But when her friend Josh becomes the target of Natalya, a jealous, capricious and violent Russian beauty, Andee somehow finds the strength to free herself from her misery long enough to help him. They soon discover that Natalya is wanted by the police for her involvement in a series of grisly murders, and Andee is dragged into the inquiry by the same man who investigated her own husband's death.

Torn between new feelings for Josh and fear that he might be involved in the murders that seem to threaten anyone who comes close, Andee must face the realities of her life, her past, and her very nature—and do it all in time to save her own life.

“Andee is a petite Gothic Lolita; an archaeologist who lectures at Draethen University – so she’s certainly a quirky character who keeps readers engaged as they explore the many themes throughout the narrative. Chasing Azrael is most definitely a ghost story, however future books look at different aspects of the supernatural. The rest of the series will expand on the themes of book one to include a myriad of different paranormal characters, as well as thought-provoking issues,” says Butler, also an archaeologist.

 Continuing, “They won’t all be told from Andee’s perspective, so readers can expect a cocktail of urban mystery where anything is possible.”

 Of course, above all, Butler hopes her books will contribute in some way toward a better understanding of mental health issues in society.

 “Bipolar Disorder is a daily struggle, and one many people just don’t understand. There’s a lot of stigma and blame for being a sufferer –so I’ve worked diligently to ensure that Andee and my future protagonists can quash any stereotypes and foster a greater culture of empathy,” she adds.

 ‘Chasing Azrael’, published by Aädedian Ink, is due for release on April 26th 2014 and is available for pre-order now:

For more information, visit:


About the Author:

Hazel is a twenty eight year old author, artist and archaeologist from Cheshire, England. She is currently in the final year of her PhD, which focuses on Gender Dynamics in Late Iron Age and Early Medieval Britain. She studied archaeology at The University of Manchester, then Bangor University, and spent two years doing corporate archaeology and research excavations, both in Britain and Austria. She has had papers published in international journals and online.

Since 2010, she has been working on Chasing Azrael, a Gothic Literary novel and the first in the Deathly Insanity Series, a set of Paranormal Mystery/Urban Fantasy novels with overlapping character and plot-lines. Although these novels have a strong supernatural element they also explore themes of mental health, in particular Bipolar Disorder, which Hazel herself has suffered from since her early teens.


I knew nothing but the rhythmic slap of my feet on wet tarmac. It was the only thing I could focus on, and my focus was slipping.

I’m still running, I thought fuzzily, I have to keep running.

The back of my skull throbbed. Thick, cloying blood oozed into my hair, mingling with the rain, cherry streams running down goose-pimpled flesh. One bare, frozen foot landed badly. I tripped, knee slamming into the kerb. A car hurtled by, horn howling at my presence in its path, the glaring lights of its eyes forcing my own shut. When I opened them again, I was transfixed by the sight of my arms, waxen and tinged red in the fading glare of tail lights. I watched intently as bloodied rain dripped down them and into the gutter.

“James!” I screamed, but the night swallowed his name.

The injured leg dragged behind as I ran on, a dead weight, more blood now seeping between my numb toes. Rain pounded in my ears, the taste of blood biting at the back of my throat. Again I stumbled as more lights flashed in my eyes, stationary this time. Clustered before me stood a crowd of cars branded with words that should have offered comfort, but instead only confirmed my worst fears: Police, Paramedic. Squinting against the onslaught of headlights, I lurched past them. Voices added their cries to the night, but they were not my own, and they were not his, so I ignored them, the world twisting around me as my head grew ever lighter and the lights grew ever brighter.


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Today I'm featuring a new release from one of my favourite publishers, Kristell Ink, an imprint of Grimbold Books. The theme is... well, the clue is in the title. It's choc-a-bloc with stories and artwork from some really terrific authors.

Here's the blurb - Felinity, noun, plural fel-in-ities. 1. The quality of being cat-like. 2. A divine being, a cat.

Grimbold Books is proud to present our first Kristell Inkling, a collection of feline inspired flash fiction stories written by authors from all around the world.
This collection celebrates what we regard as the most important factor when writing: write foremost for pleasure. The stories showcased in this book are full of laughter, grit, odd contraptions and a lot of fur, with a loud purring nod to our beloved genres of science fiction and fantasy.
From A.F.E Smith’s unique twist on Schrödinger’s cat, to Joel Cornah’s world-jumping old queen, from Clare Neilson’s steampunk creation to Tina Closser’s dragon fighting dreaming kitty, these alternate feline worlds are bound to delight sci fi/fantasy readers and cat lovers alike.

A.F.E SMITH is an academic editor who lives in the south east of England with her husband, her young son, and thousands of books. When she’s not writing speculative fiction of various kinds, she enjoys the usual things: watching films, eating snacks, solving complex mathematical equations. She has never owned a cat, mainly because she knows she’d end up a pawn in its bid for world domination.
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.
RACHAEL BROWN is a fourteen-year-old student from Norfolk. Her interests include art, animation, gaming, history, reading, seventies rock music, drama, and of course writing. She is intensely passionate about English and writing, and thinks it is a real pleasure to be included in this anthology, especially since her stories (whether short or long) tend to be rather bizarre and odd with a zany feel.
PAIGE CLOSSER attends school in small town in the American Midwest. She loves to read Percy Jackson novels and make loom band charms. When she’s not busy with those pursuits, or practicing violin, she likes to think of stories. The story in this book may or may not be based on her two cats.
CHRISTIE RAMPERSAD is a medical student who began her writing in poetry, with selected works appearing in Danse Macabre and Pens on Fire. Now, as she transitions to fiction, she is thrilled that Nine Lives Later has placed joint- third in the Kristell Ink Feline Flash Fiction Competition and found a home in this anthology.
DAVE CROSBY is an affable gentleman, as much as any American can be “affable” (or “gentle”, for that matter), living in a Heaven-forsaken area of California known as Fresno. He has a humanities heart and mind, living in an ex-banker’s body, so he has made a living with bankerly number-crunching all his life, but has lived with reading, writing and music. He published a short story in 2013, Rain Over Ghaidhealtachd, set in Ancient Scotland, in the anthology Magic Creatures from Celtic Mists, has written another tale set within a moonlit night in Jamaica, Last Touch, and hopes to publish his first novel next year, an exciting thriller set in San Francisco, called Bringing Home the Good War. He thinks kindly of his two sons, Glen and Ted, who have given him much inspiration in his work, especially the novel.
JESSICA FROST is a medical student with a love for literature. For her, writing is a much-needed break away from science and studying! She can be found on Twitter: @ MissInkweaver
CLAIRE NEILSON was always very good at stories in school, but her spelling was awful. She thanks the gods and goddesses of word processors for the little red lines of spelling correction. Now age 30 she lives in Manchester and spends her days baking for a living and reading for leisure.
BRIAN TALGO was born in the Deep South of the US in 1954, and later spent his formative years in Westchester County, a northern suburb of New York City. As a young man he wandered restlessly about the US for several years, working mainly as a carpenter and stonemason, until he eventually got in touch with his inner Viking and relocated to Norway in 1981. After many years abroad he has grown comfortable with his expat status.
Currently working with international admissions at the University of Oslo, Brian writes and indulges in other creative endeavors in his spare time. He presently lives on the outskirts of Oslo, together with his wife, son, two insubordinate cats, and a miniature forest of plants. A daughter has wisely flown the coop.
IAN RICHARDSON lives by the sea, on the East Coast of Scotland, with his cat, Purry Murray.
The first story Ian ever wrote was published, but he hasn’t been able to keep up that 100% record. However, several short stories, articles and micro fictions have escaped the red pen recently and his steampunk serial was e-published in 2013.
ROB BAYLISS lives with his wife, two children and dog in Somerset. A keen scholar of history and lover of fantasy, only recently has he discovered the joyful escapism of sitting down to write a story.
LANCE CROSS writes short stories when he gets stuck writing his novel, so he writes more short stories than he should.
When he’s not writing, he spends too much time telling his cat he’s “sooooo cute”, and trying to keep him away from the computer keyboard, as he knows what buttons to push to delete stuff. Lance really shouldn’t let him jump on the desk in the first place, but as mentioned, he’s sooooo cute.
JOSHUA CORNAH is a 22 year old café assistant at a local coffee shop who loves to draw, for himself and others. In his free time, he’s an illustrator and cartoonist, and the influences for his drawings come from Japanese anime, manga, and Nintendo video games. He is also very polite.
STEVEN J GUSCOTT or Steven, Steve, Steve-o, Stevie, Stevie Gee, Moral Steve, Uncle Steven...the list goes on . . . but the name he has chosen for writing is Steven J. Guscott. Like some of the other names, there’s a random story behind it, and obviously his middle name starts with a J, but he’s not going to bore you with that story just now. What he will bore you with is telling you how much he loves creating fantasy/sci fi stories. He’s twenty six and lives in Scotland, and nearly three years ago he discovered an unhealthy obsession with writing. He’s written a few stories in this time, and has quite a number still to write. If you want to learn more about Steven and his writing journey, he’s kept a record in the form of a blog that can be found at:
VICTORIA ROBINSON lives a safe and comfortable existence in home county suburbia, where shadows lurk not in dark, smoking alleys but behind neatly trimmed hedges and carefully erected fences.
DAVID COHEN lives in the university town of Dunedin, a gateway to New Zealand’s Lord-of-the-Rings-set Southern landscapes. His background is in the high-technology electronic industries, but considers writing the most fun you can have sitting down with a pen and paper, so is pursuing that – as well as other interests such as photography, object- making and volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity. He cites Annie Proulx, Spike Milligan, Arthur C. Clarke, Patrick Süskind, and Terry Pratchett as current influences, but that will almost certainly change.
HONOR THOMPSON spends most of her time with her head in a book and a pen in her hand. She looks to her friends and family for inspiration, and as such all her writing characters hold a special place in her heart. Without her grandparents, she wouldn’t be where she is today, for they taught her that nothing is impossible; you just have to believe.
SOPHIE TALLIS is a Bristol born gal who grew up in a sleepy village dreaming of dragons and wild adventures. She hasn’t grown up much, and sincerely hopes she never does. She lives in the Cotswolds with her family, two enormous white wolves, and a load of wild ducks that basically run the place; she has just added two Alaskan Malamutes into the mix! Sophie is a full-time teacher and has been dulling young minds . . . ahem . . . inspiring young minds for the past fifteen years. She is a painter, artist and illustrator, and has a BA (Hons) Degree in Fine Art, photography and sculpture. But her first passion has always been writing stories and poetry. Her first novel, an epic fantasy for children and adults, was published in September 2012 to great reviews and high sales, and she’s currently working on the sequels, due out later in 2014 and 2015, as well as a host of other projects.
WILL MACMILLAN-JONES is a fifty-something lover of blues, rock and jazz. He presently lives in Wales, a beautiful verdant land of myth with a rich cultural heritage. He does his best to support this heritage by drinking local beers and shouting loud encouragement at the TV whenever Wales is playing international rugby.
He has just fulfilled a lifetime ambition by filling an entire wall of his study with bookcases, and then (over)filling the bookcases. When not drinking beer and watching rugby, he remembers to write the occasional horror book or to add to his comic fantasy series, The Banned Underground. Links to all his work can be found on his website:
JANE DOUGHTERY is a product of the Irish diaspora. She was brought up in Yorkshire, educated at Manchester and London, then moved to Paris to work in the wine trade. She now lives in Bordeaux with her family, a Spanish greyhound, and a posse of cats. Her first published work is a YA fantasy series, The Green Woman. She also writes poetry and has been published in Poetry Nook Magazine and The Bamboo Hut.
As a Role Player, MIKE HARGREAVES’ main outlet for creative writing is in the plotting out of tabletop gaming scenarios for the RPG players in his social circle. The rest of the time he’s fighting to keep a healthy ratio between idea and completed projects. It’s a fight he keeps losing.
When she isn’t busy with her nine-to-five job as an electrical engineer, TINA CLOSSER helps her husband with a small hobby farm, complete with a mini horse, donkey, cows, and sheep. In between farm duties and running the kids to gymnastics, she likes to write.
KIERAN MATHERS is a freelance writer based in Sheffield, UK, and is very much inspired by A Song of Ice and Fire, The Farseer Trilogy and other great works of fantasy. While not hunched over a keyboard creating worlds in his head, he goes cycling in the Yorkshire Dales and writes poetry.
EVELINN ENOKSEN lives in Norway with her husband and children. She finds inspiration in everything, and has always been interested in art and writing. She says there are few things more fun in life than being able to create.
SELINA CARR is a writer, collector and lover of folk and fairy tales. She is inspired by, and drawn to, the deceptive simplicity of these sometimes poignant—and often gruesome—stories. Much of her writing is heavily influenced by her life-long relationship with the tales penned by the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Perrault and Oscar Wilde.
JOEL CORNAH hailing from a small isolated village in Lancashire, is the author responsible for The Sea-Stone Sword. He was awarded a degree in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moors University and spent seven years writing a comical newspaper for The Barrow Downs Tolkien discussion forum. Accompanying this paper was a comic strip series called The Phantom and Alien, a bizarre story of bus drivers, dead people, and a slime child bent on inconveniencing everyone around him.
Sample Story. Previously published on the KI website and opening story of the collection. Winner of the Flash Fiction competition
Nein Lives
A.F.E. Smith
My name is Nein. I have had other names, but Nein will do for now.
I sit with my attendant whilst he wrestles with the nature of reality. He thinks he owns me. I let him keep thinking that.
“Nein, Nein,” he mutters, taking his glasses off and polishing them with vigour. “I am convinced they are looking at this in the wrong way. How can this superposition represent what truly happens in the world?”
He is talking to me. I get up and stretch, then step delicately onto the desk. To start with his touch is absent-minded, but my claws kneading his sleeve recall him to a full sense of his obligations.
I knew a man like you once before, I tell him as he runs his fingers down my spine in the way I like. He longed to know how birds and trees and tortoises came to be. How they could change to fit their surroundings. I showed him a mouse, and then he understood. The mouse was uniquely adapted to run away, and I was uniquely adapted to catch it.
He frowns at me. He often frowns when I speak. All my attendants have been the same: so focused on the weighty questions in their minds that they fail to understand what is before their eyes. Perhaps that is what it means to be human.
Did I ever tell you about the man with the apple tree? I ask, butting my head into the palm of his hand. He used to sit in its dappled shade every day, thinking about the laws that keep all of us moving along our preordained paths. I would stretch out on the branch above him and enjoy the heat of summer. But when he started forgetting to provide me with fish scraps, I decided enough was enough. I knocked an apple down onto his head, and understanding with it.
He is looking blank. I will try once more.
A long time ago, in China, an alchemist was seeking immortality. He mixed this ingredient and that, to no avail. Just as he was about to give up, I knocked a candle into his mixing dish. The explosion took off his eyebrows, but he was ecstatic. He had sought to live forever, but instead he had found a way to bring others death.
I wait for any sign of comprehension, but my attendant’s mind is still off in its narrow little orbit. Disgruntled, I turn to groom myself. Of course, that is one discovery I would not choose to make again. My fur was singed just here, above the tail, and it has never been the same since.
“Down, now,” he says, with fine disregard for the sorrow of that memory, and I allow him to lower me to the floor. “I must make sense of this tonight.”
Ah, poor Schrödinger. Just like the others, he needs my help. One day, soon, I will walk into a box and really make him think.
Buy the book HERE


Thursday, 24 April 2014


What's this? A new yokey-me-bob? Thingy-ma-jig? Well it's a giveaway, a free book... my book no less. The sequel to my epic fantasy novel, Tribesman. It's called Warrior and you can win a free copy by entering the Goodreads giveaway. Just click the link on the right.

Here's what it's about:

The search for the merchant's daughter continues as Culainn crosses the mountains into the frozen north... home, to face his past and the many demons he left behind.

Striking a bargain with the witch-queen, Neeve, he agrees to fight her enemies, the Shadow Druids and Blue-Woads, in return for her aid in freeing the girl he seeks. Will she keep her word, or has she treachery in mind?

All the while, the dark god, Morrigu, continues to haunt Culainn's dreams, seeking to control him and make him her own champion.

If you can't wait until the giveaway is over you can buy a copy, paperback or kindle, now.

Warrior: Amazon US -      Paperback

Tribesman: Amazon US - Paperback

Warrior: Amazon UK -     Paperback

Tribesman: Amazon UK - Paperback

Friday, 14 February 2014

Bandit Book Bloggers:  
Acts of Violence

Ross Harrison

My name’s Jack Mason. I made a mistake. Took home the wrong girl. Now she’s dead. Cut up. And they’re telling me I did it.

It’s the same cop that tried to take me down ten years ago. Now he’s coming at me hard. And he’s not the only one. Cole Webster, the city’s crime lord, thinks I stole from him. Broke me out of custody just to ask me about it. Then I killed his son. Now he really wants me.

Add to this equation a government agent, and I’m a real popular guy right now. Pretty much everyone I meet wants me dead, lawfully or otherwise. There’s nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. I’ve got till morning to uncover Webster’s trafficking operation and take the heat off me. And all I’ve got to go on is a pissed off homeless girl with a thirst for revenge.

Guess it could be worse. Can’t quite figure how.

- - - - - - - - -

 Acts of Violence is available in all e-formats for £1.99 or $3.20.
Kindle UK:
Kindle US:

As his nose cracked under my knuckles, I reflected on how much I hated violence. Not violence stemming from my own unresolved anger issues. That I was fine with. It was violence against women that I hated. I didn’t know why, but the prettier the girl the more I hated it. Maybe I was shallow.
            This worthless little shit lost his cool when she put too much ice in his drink. Lost his top altogether when she tried to take one cube back out with those little tongs and it fell back in. Pulled her halfway over the bar to explain to her real close how she was going to pay for the splash on his silk shirt. Maybe if he’d explained who his daddy was, it would have actually rung a bell. Less of a drug store tinkle, more of a gong furiously beaten with a hammer. Cole Webster owned the club. Owned her. Little Dick Webster – though he probably preferred ‘Rich’ or ‘Richie’ – didn’t think to mention that. She gave his left cheek a bright red hue that didn’t match the sprayed on tan. He repaid the favour.
            That’s when I stepped in. Wrong foot first.
            The bar stool followed Little Dick to the sticky floor. His shiny purple shirt hissed at me as his movements tore a seam. Then hindsight grabbed my shoulder. Hindsight was a six-three, two-fifty-pound bouncer with egg-shaped eyes. His boss’ jumped up boy was lying on the ground and he wasn’t about to risk his job by reacting too slow.
            ‘Big mistake,’ was all he said. The only words he knew, maybe.
            ‘I noticed,’ I said. I didn’t know why. A witty one-liner always seemed the way to go at a time like that. Problem was, I was never particularly witty under pressure.
            The bouncer wasn’t trained. He made a mistake. I’d like to say choosing me to play the punch bag was the mistake, but that wasn’t it. He threw me into the side of the bar. Little Dick was just clambering to his feet beside me. I banged the back of my head on the shiny steel, but if I’d let the bright white flash in my eyes deter me, I’d have woken up in hospital. Or in my car. Halfway to the bottom of the lake.
            I wrapped both hands around the legs of the nearest bar stool. Made out I was dazed and pulling myself up. The bouncer didn’t see it coming. Felt it though, when the stool hit his jaw. With that bulk, there wouldn’t have been much I could have done if he hadn’t thrown me aside like an empty steroid needle. Now he was unconscious. And fired. Maybe for that failure, he’d wake up in his car, halfway to the bottom of the lake. I didn’t feel bad.
            ‘Do you have any idea what you just did?’ Little Dick was referring to his own humiliation. He didn’t care about the bouncer. ‘You just signed your own death w—’
            As his nose cracked under my knuckles a second time, I reflected on how much I hated violence. I hated violence directed towards women. I hated violence directed towards me. I hated the threat of violence directed towards women or me. I decided then that I hated Little Dick Webster.
            The drunk, drugged up social elite, such as it was in this pitiful town, continued to thrash about on the dance floors. No one but Little Dick’s friends took any notice of what just happened. Them and the other bouncers. His friends were as much of a joke as him. Rough with girls perhaps, but not with someone who’d hit back. They weren’t prepared to risk denting their pretty faces on my fists. Just as well. One more punch like those two and my hand would have probably shattered.
             The bouncers were another story. Three of them were shoving their way through all the spoiled teens barely old enough to set foot in this place. They looked angry. And their faces definitely weren’t pretty.

About the Author:
Ross Harrison has been writing since childhood without thought of publication. When the idea was planted by his grandmother to do so, it grew rapidly, and after a bumpy ten years or so, here sits the fruit. Ross lives on the UK/Eire border in Ireland, hoping the rain will help his hair grow back.


Amazon profile

Other works:
Shadow of the Wraith (Book 1 of NEXUS)
It sounds like a simple assignment: track down the mysterious Star Wraith and put an end to its rampage. But when Travis Archer and his team of inept soldiers find themselves the most wanted people in the galaxy - hounded by assassins, terrorists and their own military - they realise the Wraith is just a symptom of a much larger problem... Finding war raging between one army intent on destroying an entire species, and another that will destroy the galaxy, Travis must put aside his fears and his past to uncover the truth behind it all. To become the hero he's always imagined.
Temple of the Sixth (Book 2 of NEXUS)
When omens of the End Times appear across the galaxy, it signals the start of a war between two immortal forces - the Celestians and the Hierarchy. The Hierarchy have learnt and adapted since they last waged war, forcing the Celestians to enlist the aid of mortals to free a kidnapped god.

Thardriik Jhunassi Kortlyn III - Theak - was a private detective. For a day. Then came the incident with the dead puppy and the inevitable end of his crime-fighting career. Despite his flaws, Theak is a clear choice for the Celestians, and he is drawn into the centre of a battle that will decide the fate of the galaxy.

Time is something the Celestians’ heroes do not have as the Hierarchy’s infection spreads across countless worlds, bending every living creature to their will. With the heroes’ every step bringing them closer towards one final battle, there is only one question: can they defeat an ancient and immortal enemy?
Kira's town has so far survived the destruction wrought by the Government on so many others. But for how much longer? In the middle of a blistering desert, her people are out of fuel, out of clean water, and out of options. The Government will destroy them sooner or later, and they won't survive relocation. Their only chance is to attack first. But Kira knows that's no chance at all.





Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Bandit Book Bloggers - ARTIFICIAL ABSOLUTES,  a sci-fi thriller from Mary Fan

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Release Date:
February 25, 2013
Science Fiction (Space Opera/Cyberpunk/New Adult)

Jane Colt is just another recent college grad working as an Interstellar Confederation office drone—until the day she witnesses her best friend, Adam, kidnapped by a mysterious criminal. An extensive cover-up thwarts her efforts to report the crime, shaking her trust in the authorities. Only her older brother, Devin, believes her account.

Devin hopes to leave behind his violent past and find peace in a marriage to the woman he loves. That hope shatters when he discovers a shocking secret that causes him to be framed for murder.

With little more than a cocky attitude, Jane leaves everything she knows to flee with Devin, racing throughthe most lawless corners of the galaxy as she searches for Adam and proof of her brother’s innocence. Her journey uncovers truths about both of them, leading her to wonder just how much she doesn’t know about the people she loves.

About the Author:Mary Fan lives in New Jersey, where she is currently working in
financial marketing. She has also resided in North Carolina, Hong Kong,
and Beijing, China. She has been an avid reader for as long as she can
remember and especially enjoys the infinite possibilities and
out-of-this-world experiences of science fiction and fantasy.

Mary has a B.A. in Music, specializing in composition, from Princeton
University and enjoys writing songs as much as writing stories. She
also enjoys kickboxing, opera singing, and exploring new things—she’ll
try almost anything once.

Purchase Links:Amazon US (Kindle e-book)

Amazon US (paperback)

Amazon UK (Kindle e-book)

Amazon UK (paperback)

Barnes & Noble (Nook e-book)

Barnes & Noble (paperback)

Kobo (e-book)


Social Media Links:

Facebook (author page)
Facebook (book page)

“I’d have to say this book combines some of the best robotic AI, like Asimov… It is unlike anything I’ve read before on this subject.”-
 James M. Butler, author of the “New Dawn” sci-fi series
 “…Engaging characters and a story with conflicts and struggles that are universal to all humans across time...”
- BigAl, reviewer for BigAl’s Books and Pals
 “A cracking tale of fights and escapes and conspiracies, set in a wonderfully and intricately evoked future world. The story rattles along at a fine pace, twisting and turning its way to and fro across the galaxy.”
-Mark Roman, author of “The Ultimate Inferior Beings”
“One hell of a sci-fi ride... The mystery in this story was incredible and really kept me at the edge of my seat... It really goes beyond the some other sci-fi reads.”
- Diana, reviewer for Offbeat Vagabond
“Artificial Absolutes is much more thanspaceships and robots... It is a timeless exploration of the complexity of family dynamics, the conflicts between faith and non-belief, and what truly defines a human being.”
- Julie H. Hughs, reviewer for Random Musingsof a Curious Mind

Excerpt:Jane had never been afraid of heights. As a child, she’d enjoyed
alarming her mother by climbing the tallest Venovian evergreens on the
Colt estate. Comparing her size then to her size currently, she probably
wasn’t much higher up. It was a little different hanging from the
underside of an elevator with only a hastily slammed hatch between her
and a killer robot.

Well, this sucks.

That she’d caught the bar after sliding down the hatch could only be
attributed to super reflexes reserved for times of great danger or to
the grace of the Absolute. If only those super reflexes or that divine
grace would allow her to reach the conduit Devin had mentioned...

The faint lights along shaft’s walls let her vaguely make out the
conduit’s square entrance. Jane saw another bar under the elevator,
parallel to the conduit’s top edge. She’d played on jungle gyms when she
was little and remembered the motion of swinging her body to catch a
bar an arm’s length away, but she’d forgotten how much the friction
burned her palms.

She grabbed the bar and swung forward. Her face banged into the wall. Ow.

After taking a moment to let the pain in her face subside, she
extended her body as far as she could, barely touching the conduit’s
floor with her foot.

Dammit! Wish my legs were longer. Good thing I wore flats today. And pants. If I had to do this in heels and a skirt...

The inane thoughts kept her from freaking out. Something about
talking to her brother had done away with the panic she’d felt before.
She wasn’t about to let it take over again.

The conduit was only half her height. Even if she could stand, she would probably fall backward if she tried.

Why are utility conduits so small? Are maintenance workers all midgets or something?

A small handle below her, right by the conduit, looked within reach.
She grabbed it with one hand. She had to let go of the bar under the
elevator to enter the conduit, but the thought was too scary.

Above her, the machine whirred.

Jane had never been remotely religious, but in a situation as
unthinkable as the one she was in, even she prayed, albeit facetiously.

Absolute One. Please let the machine be too big to fit through the
hatch. And please keep me from falling. In return, I will compose a
magnificent motet for You. So be it, truly.

Jane closed her eyes and let go of the bar. She bit her lip to stifle a yelp as she dropped her body weight onto one arm.

She reached up with her free hand and pressed her forearm into the
conduit’s cold metal floor. By pulling, bending, and twisting, she
managed to fold herself into the conduit.

She collapsed against the wall in relief. Whew! Made it!

Jane listened for the machine, half expecting it to appear right behind her. Instead, a beep emitted
from her pocket. Wondering what the hell it was— and why the hell she
didn’t know the contents of her own pocket—she reached in. She pulled
out her company-issued videophone.

Oh, right. This thing.Other Works:

Synthetic Illusions (sequel to Artificial Absolutes)
Red Adept Publishing
Genre: Science Fiction (Space Opera)

In the thrilling sequel to Artificial Absolutes,
Jane Colt finds herself combating the one person she always trusted:
her older brother, Devin. After the events of the first book, Jane hopes
to return to her ordinary life. But when the shadowy government agency
Devin works for orders him to capture Adam, the young man she loves, she
ends up in her brother's crosshairs as she helps Adam escape.

Adam looks like any other seminary student, he harbors a secret he
hopes the rest of the galaxy will never uncover. Haunted by a menacing voice, he fights to control his own mind.

Devin uncovers his employer's clandestine agenda but, coerced by the
deadly consequences of noncompliance, must remain silent. He reluctantly
obeys the agency's commands while secretly plotting to expose the

Forced to choose between the two people she
loves most, Jane sets off on a journey that takes her into the darkest
corners of known space and challenges everything she believes.

Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil
Glass House Press
Release Date:
Summer 2014
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Dystopia
Part dystopia and part high fantasy, Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil
is the first book in a YA series that follows a spirited teen's efforts to
overthrow an evil government while battling supernatural beasts.

Long ago, the evil Lord of the Underworld ravaged the Earth. The
Enchanters, magical guardians of the Earth, defeated him, but his
monsters lingered. Nearly a century later, the Enchanters have turned
the former United States into the totalitarian Triumvirate, where
non-magical humans, known as Norms, are treated as second class

a Norm boy, was ten years old when he witnessed his mother's death at
the hands of an undead giant. No one would tell him where the giant had
come from or what his mother had been doing that night. After six years
of wondering, he finally finds a clue and is determined to uncover the
truth - whatever the consequences. His journey takes an unexpected turn
when he accidentally commits an act considered terrorism by the
Triumvirate. He soon finds himself hunted not only by the government,
but also by supernatural monsters and a man with power over the undead.
Rescued by underground rebels, he is enticed by their vision of a
better world and joins their revolution. But as he struggles to
reconcile what he sees with what they tell him, he starts to realize
that the rebellion is not everything it seems.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

New year, new book
Yep this blog does exactly what it says on the tin... er... title. Today saw the release of the second book in my fantasy series, it's called Warrior and here's what it's about -
The search for the merchant's daughter continues as Culainn crosses the mountains into the frozen north... home, to face his past and the many demons he left behind.
Striking a bargain with the witch-queen, Neeve, he agrees to fight her enemies, the Shadow Druids and Blue-Woads, in return for her aid in freeing the girl he seeks. Will she keep her word, or has she treachery in mind?
All the while, the dark god, Morrigu, continues to haunt Culainn's dreams, seeking to control him and make him her own champion.
You can buy Warrior here:
If you need to catch up with book 1 first you can buy Tribesman here: