Saturday, 31 December 2016

Saying Goodbye

The end of 2016 is here and social media is lamenting a long list of lost icons. I too am mourning a loss; that of my godmother. She was one of the last of the real ladies, full of grace and charm and a wicked temper! A lady who told tales of the mountains and the creatures and fairies that live in them. She supplied many tidbits and trivia which have filled my stories with magic and mystery. Her passing is a huge loss. I have included her in my latest work-in-progress, a new short story currently called Hood Winked, as a character that is not too far removed from reality and guides the heroine through a devil of a difficulty. Let's hope this is published so you can meet her and so that she lives on in print as well as memory.

2016 also saw the passing of the lovely lady whose memories graced the pages of my story Shark Nose and I'm glad this story is dedicated to her so that she will always be remebered there. You can read this story on Great Jones Street via your mobile phone.

As a writer you never can tell who or what will inspire you nor what will become of those little sparks; will they fizzle out to nothing or burn like a thousands suns? I have realised that the truth is not fate or luck, but sheer determination. My output this year was minimal because of personal health problems and too much work of the bill-paying kind. I have been gathering sparks in my notebook and I'm hoping to kindle a few blazes this coming year!

Just in case you have missed anything, here's a recap of published works from 2016 - it's a shamefully short list! (One of my colleagues published 75 stories and novellas and thought he had not done enough...I have to get my a**e in gear in 2017 it seems!) Click on the titles for links/purchase details!

Balancing Act (Steampunk)
Synchronysi (Steampunk)
Hark! Hark! (Steampunk)
Shark Nose (Horror)
Close Call* (Horror)
The Night Before (Zombie)
Tickets to Ride (Weird)

* Watch this space for the final chapter in 2017!

HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR AND MAY 2017 BE THE YEAR TO TOP THE REST!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Great Jones Street and a Stranger's Perspective!

First of all, it has been a while since I have written a post that isn't advertising something and to begin with, this may seem yet another one of those posts! I was saving some of the thoughts here for my December post, but I've just had some great news that I want to share.

I have had a run of bad luck on the publishing front this year. Two of the companies that I've had stories with went under and that affected my desire to write more than I thought possible. It felt like I had a jinx on me, especially as one of those anthologies was 'What Went Wrong'! But there's nothing like a bit of stiff upper lip to shake me out of the doldrums and I've just sold three stories to Great Jones Street! What's that you might ask? It's a new short story app and intends to do for short stories what Netflix has done for TV. Sound great right? Looks great too - check out their teaser video. I will give you more details when my stories go live there.

Some of you may have noticed how the title of my blog changed this summer, well there are several reasons for this. Through the Eyes of a Stranger is a line from a song I loved in my early teens and it just seemed apt. The Greek word for foreigner ξένος can also mean stranger. I am a foreigner in the place I've lived almost half my life - that won't change no matter how much I adapt. Thing is, I am also a stranger to the land of my birth not having returned there for over a decade. It's a pretty unique perspective I can tell you. But then, I've always made slightly obtuse observations about things (and often miss what most others see as obvious)!

All this had been churning in my subconscious and the aforementioned dark period acted as a catalyst for what was probably writer's block. It's hard having all the ideas that just pop up in your head just disappear and not have the will to sit down and put pen to paper so to speak because there's nothing there. But it happens. If you don't write then perhaps you've lost your voice at some point in time, or maybe broken a limb? If you have you'll know what it's like to have something you take for granted just stop functioning! You can't go on the way you were, you have to figure out another way. Some writers advise keep on plugging away, write everyday. For me that was like looking inside my soul and seeing a void! Why should I waste time sitting in front of a screen trying to get something from nothing? It was like taking a helter-skelter ride into self-loathing introspection. I didn't stay there and won't attempt it again. Time's too precious to beat yourself up, believe me! I just gave up, took a break, threw myself into some other activities and sure enough, the ideas have come flooding back! Nothing like a little perspective. Be looking out for more fromme in the coming months. Until then, I've finally got a follow tab just on the right here.>>>
Get yourselves signed up for further updates!





Saturday, 12 November 2016

REFLECTIONS - A FOX POCKET ANTHOLOGY

The last in the tenfold series of Fox Pockets 'Reflections' is out!
Take a sneak peek inside my dreams and see if you want 'Tickets to Ride'!


You can buy your copy from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Friday, 4 November 2016

The Den of Antiquity - Be Charitable - Get Your Copy Today!

READ ALL ABOUT IT! ANTHOLOGY TO DONATE ROYALTIES TO DISASTER FUND! 

Amazon US
Amazon. UK
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
With today's release of The Den Of Antiquity you can not only entertain yourself, but also make a contribution to a worthy cause. The collaborative opinion when we at the Scribblers' Den decided on a new anthology, was that any money made should go to a charity to be decided closer to the date. As one of our Scribblers' Den members actually lives in Haiti and has first hand experience of the destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew, the collective opinion was that the International Red Cross will receive whatever royalties we earn in order to help people who literally have been left with nothing more than the clothes they stand up in. Watch the video below to see what you will be contributing to if you buy the Den of Antiquities today.

READ ALL ABOUT IT! THE SECRETS BEHIND THE STORIES IN THE DEN OF ANTIQUITIES!

A den is a snug place to curl up with a book, or a place close friends gather to discuss ideas. The Den was the theme of our second anthology, each story had to include a den of some kind. I asked the other members of the Scribblers' Den if their stories were unique - specially written for the anthology or if they were offshoots from other books involving familiar characters. Here's what they told me.

Jack Tyler
When Bryce [Raffle] announced the second anthology, and offered such a generous lead time to get a story ready, I decided to try my hand. I'm one of those guys who always has the ready quip, the snide remark, the titillating double-entendre, to the point that it is often suggested by people who know me personally that I should write comedy. Here, I thought, was a golden opportunity to try. What could be funny, and involve a den? My mind lit on a couple of con men, Laurel & Hardy types, who decide as their next scam to set themselves up as a sort of Victorian Ghostbusters. Now, what might happen to these guys if they ran into a real ghost?

I'm pretty sure I missed the mark on comedy, but the fish out of water story seems to work well. Did they see a ghost or didn't they? Or were they convinced by the spooky atmosphere and their client's panic? You decide. Brass & Coal was a rejected name I submitted for a writing group I was in a long time ago, and had it handy to recycle. This is the first time these nitwits have appeared on the page, but I can't guarantee it will be the last. We'll have to see how their debut is received...

Alice E. Keyes
My story for Den of Antiquity is the third story with the characters Nanna and Yggdrasil. The first time these two appeared was is a 100-word flash fiction story that is on my blog (http://aliceekeyes.blogspot.com). I then used them for the Den's first-anniversary tea party contest of 250 words. These stories were turned into the Den's first ebook (Denizen's of Steam). I felt it was only right to continue writing about Nanna and Yggdrasil for this anthology.

The names come from Norse mythology though more importantly, these are two strong women who antagonize each other. I want their stories to be about small battles each character has internally that are reflected in each other. I'm always surprised by where they take their stories and always look forward to writing a Yggdrasil/Nanna story. They are an adventure for me to write and I hope that adventure comes through in their latest tale.

Neale Green
The Reluctant Vampire was originally intended to be a one-off short story for the Den of Antiquity Anthology. I went into it with the intent of being something totally different from the Daemon series of novels.

As such, I came up with an idea and knocked it out in a few days, then made a couple of adjustments as people picked up on points that I'd forgotten about some elements of the back story.

Strangely enough, I had people asking whether it was going anywhere and that idea appealed to me, so I took it up where The Reluctant Vampire finished, with the central character heading off to the Americas before he got caught. With that, the story became Strigoi Doresc, or the Unwilling Undead.

While the first chapter was based mostly in London, from 1888 on it moved to New York. The story is a work in progress and other characters will be introduced as it develops, but I was side tracked onto other stories while I waited for inspiration for this story to return.

David Lee Summers
Professor Maravilla invents large, rabbit automata to work as harvesters in The Brazen Shark. He calls them jackalopes because they have large, antler-like antennae that allow them to be controlled remotely. These jackalope harvesters were inspired by seeing stuffed jackalopes at roadside stops when I'd travel across the United States with my family as a kid. For my story, I imagined what would happen if an outlaw got control of one of these harvesters and used it to commit crimes. Of course, Larissa goes on his trail to put a stop to these shenanigans!

The den of my story was actually invented for another tale of Larissa and the Professor I wrote about three months earlier. I'm pretty excited about that story, but I haven't signed paperwork, so I can't say much yet. What I can say is that you can find more of their adventures in the Clockwork Legion novels and in my story "Reckoning at the Alamo" which appears in the anthology Lost Trails II: Forgotten Tales of the Weird West edited by Cynthia Ward.

"The Jackalope Bandit" features U.S. Marshal Larissa Seaton and her mentor, Professor M.K. Maravilla. Both characters play important roles in my Clockwork Legion novels, Owl Dance, Lightning Wolves, and The Brazen Shark. In my fictional, steampunk world, Larissa is the first woman to be appointed a U.S. Marshal in 1877. In fact, she only predates Phoebe Couzins, the first woman in history to hold that job, by seven years.

Karen J. Carlisle
All That Glitters was an original short story, written specifically for the Den of Antiquity anthology. But what was the thinking behind it?

As The Den of Antiquity project would feature steampunk writers from around the world, I was inspired to add some Australian flavour. I wracked my brain for weeks, trying to come up with an idea related to the theme: a den. In the end, it was inspired, as many of my stories are, by serendipity.

Earlier in the year, one of my short stories featured in an exhibition for the Adelaide Fringe, based on the local parklands and heritage. While researching the area, I found many interesting historical tit bits and inventions, perfect for future alternate history projects.

At the time the Den of Antiquity project was initiated, some of the local Adelaide Hills silver mines opened for an historical tour. The spark was smouldering.

After more research, I discovered there had been gold mines in the Hills, not far from home -- including the Lady Alice Mine, which persisted from the 1850s to 1897. It changed hands several times, the last lease holder (albeit briefly) was Mary Ann Lynch.

The fire was lit. I’d base my story on a small gold mine (with much potential for steampunkery and gadgets) owned by a local woman, add in an alternate historical bent and fold in allusions to a dragon’s den, and its hoard. Perfect.

The main characters in my story are Alice and Soo Lin. Both were created specifically for All That Glitters. Alice (named after the historical mine) is an independent woman determined to eek out as much wealth as she could from her claim. She represents the pioneering women who often had to fend for themselves

Soo Lin is based on a composite of people found in South Australia at the time; a Chinese woman, abandoned by a husband who absconded to the Victorian goldfields in search of gold and riches.

After the Victorian government passed an Act to restrict the immigration of Chinese, in 1855, most Chinese sailed to Port Adelaide and made the long land journey to Victoria. When the South Australian goldfields proved meagre, many men left their farms, shut down shops and businesses, even deserted ships, following the lure of gold into Victoria. Many were listed in the local Police Gazette. Many women were left destitute in a decaying economy. Fortunately, Soo Lin can use her expertise in explosives, to help Alice in her mine.

I enjoyed researching and tinkering with the local history for this project. Some will make an appearance in my next series, The Department of Curiosities.

Who knows? Perhaps Alice and Soo Lin will make an appearance?

N.O.A. Rawle
Hark! Hark! was the second attempt at writing a story for the anthology. The den in the story was inspired by the ski chase scene in James Bond adventure On Her Majesty's Secret Service, although there is no ski chase scene in the story! I wanted a cold icy feel outside my den and the warmth of roaring log fires on the inside. I did spiced tea rather than hot chocolate, but it does not have the warm comforting effects that you might imagine.

As for the characters in Hark! Hark!, they were inspired by a picture from an a childhood nursery rhyme book illustration for the rhyme of the same name. I did a little research into the rhyme that accompanied the picture and found out that the cry of "Hark! Hark! The dogs do bark!" was a warning that strangers were in the area, dating back to plague time. How I got from there to the Avianou, royalty with species issues and an attack from outer space, I cannot really remember. It is my intention to continue the story of Odan Mackenzie and Princess Petaxi, I like the chemistry between them and want to know what will develop. Whether this will be as a series of short stories or a novella, only time will tell.

So what are you waiting for? Donate and get your copy today!



Sunday, 2 October 2016

Forever Hungry Now Out!

If you are in need of something to flesh out your library, to whet your appetite, then the new zombie anthology from Far Horizons, Forever Hungry is now out! It includes my story 'The Night Before'.
Edited by Pete Sutton and Kimberly Nugent. Featuring stories from Eric Krugar, Melanie Waghorne, Tim Jeffreys, Vincent Bivona, Jackie Pitchford, Adam Gaylord, Spencer Carvelho, Scott Woodward, Alex H Leclerc, E.F. Schraeder, Dan Pawley, Jon Charles, Shannon Hollinger, Stephen Blake, Anthony Watson, K. M. Hazel, N.O.A. Rawle, John Kujawski, Sheri White, Sarah, Doebereiner, John A DeMember, Neil John Buchanan, Denorah Walker, Chris MaGrane, Thomas Logan, Liam Hogan, Jared Wright, Pete Aldin, Sean Kavanagh and Lee Glenwright.

Click here to buy from Amazon.com 
Click here to buy from Amazon.co.uk




Saturday, 24 September 2016

Happy Anniversary Scribblers' Den! Cover Reveal: The Den of Antiquity

I have had a band of virtual friends for a little more than a year now, and this week marked the second anniversary of that group: The Scribblers' Den in the Steampunk Empire. Today we are holding another 24 hour party spanning the world East to West, starting with sunrise in Australia and ending at sundown in Haiti, why not join us and see what you are inspired to create? Last years party gave birth to the idea of The Denizens of Steam anthology through a flash fiction competition we held during the party.

This year we are celebrating two years of joyous companionship and to that end I will be revealing the cover our second anthology The Den of Antiquity! This book is bursting with short stories rather than flash fiction and is sculpted rather than being an instinctive creation. But before I reveal the wonderful cover designed by Bryce Raffle, I thought I'd send my roving reporter, Antigone Nix, out into the Steampunk Empire to track dow a few of the members of the Scribblers' Den and the question on her lips was:

What does the Scribblers' Den mean to you?

Thank you N.O.A.! Wow! Just had the most amazing flight in what other than a supersonic dirigible and then crash landed, but at last here I am in Australia with Mrs. Karen J Carlisle (Thanks for the cuppa - I need it!):
"Writing can be lonely. Australia is big. Really big. Writer forums make it easier to communicate with fellow steampunk writers - where ever they be. I can chat fantasy or science fiction writing with local spec fic writers, but it's not the same.
Cue, Scribblers' Den. I can reach out across the ether - to talk writing, conventions, (steampunk specific) book launches - all things steampunk - through the eyes of the world. The members are 'doers', not 'gonnas'. Things happen. Now we have a second anthology about to be published!
(And there is the virtual tea parties).
I've found my tribe."
Now a trip down London way and who is this I see chalking dead bodies all over the streets of the aforementioned city in the name of advertising, but the self-proclaimed recruiting Sergeant, Steve Moore. Let me pop him the question - no, not that one; he's already spoken for! :
"For two years I have been part of a very special close knit community in a virtual pub where there is no drink. Hemingway would just not get it. Writers pull up a chair and discuss the art of writing ( but do not touch my red leather one with bearskin rug located by the oft roaring fire and close the Jack Tyler's mahogany bar with pictures of Airships and Victorian San Diego hanging on the wall).Mental isn't it. I have just described an environment where I meet some of the best friends, I have never met ( except I did get to meet two of my best pals in the Den due to sheer luck that a business trip took me to New York in August and close enough to New Jersey to meet Mrs.Emeline Warren and the good Professor McKraken). This mental environment is just like reading a book, it can be better than life and more amazing and exciting. The fact is the writers of Scribblers Den are wonderful, like minded people, incredibly talented and I am in awe of all of them.I struggle to write, as I was dragged up through a shite education system where English was a chore and not a joy. Scribblers ' Den has taught me some basic grammar and restored a joy that was just waiting to get out. I love writing now. You see I have a vivid imagination. Writing enables me to express it and the Den helps me as everyone is so friendly, collegiate ( there's a word for a dodgy South Londoner) and the boss "Captain Jack Tyler" will not allow trolls and ill minded people through the doors.I enjoy recruiting new writers and sign posting the Den as the self appointed recruiting Sergeant. I was member 51 a magical number for a Limey who wrote ROYAL AMERICA as a first novel effort ( yes it needs editing). 51st State get it. (www.royal-america.co.uk ).So what does the Den mean to me everything friendship and relationships, grins and gripes and stories and yarns and techniques and too many "ands" and not enough commas and all of that amongst a vivid background of wonderful Steampunkery..........Frock coats and Corsets where people look sexier with their clothes on!!!"

So to a meandering walk across the Atlantic (virtual shoes go everywhere even if they do get virtually wet!) to the Empire Observatory, where I see the Den's resident astronomer, Mr. David Lee Summers in on his tea break. Let's get his thoughts:
"Simply put, the Scribbler's Den on the Steampunk Empire feels like my steampunk writing home on the internet. It's the place where I can relax with fellow steampunk writers, talk about topics of interest, celebrate successes, and commiserate about problems. It's like family to me. Sometimes I wander away for a while as my writing interests take me into science fiction or horror, but like a family, I always feel welcome when I'm ready to come back and chat about steampunk topics."
Which kindly gentleman is this offering to transport this damp footed reporter across New England in his steampowered carriage? None other than Mr William J. Jackson, writer of blooming talent. (Those who know will get the pun!)
"Scribblers Den represents the capstone in my personal pyramid of inspiration and mentorship. In the year + I've been wandering it's corners, I've garnered more insight, flavor, advice and advancement in writing than from all the so-called 'expert' books. As an added boon, it comes in the form of casual dialogue, honest personal appraisals and encouragement. We are on our second anthology. Second! Do publishers move as fast? Do governments? No.You want to write better? Take a seat at the Den...but not the red one. It's for Sarge."
Ah there's the museum. Now I happen to know that our resident historian, Mrs Emeline Warren is on duty today, so lets hope she not too busy to chat. As we share another cuppa, this is what she tells me:

"I've been on the Empire several years, but it wasn't until the tail end of 2015 that I discovered the Den, if I recall correctly. Always on the look out for like minded people with an interest in writing, sharing, reading and critiquing, I once headed a small club called The Rough Writers, mainly fellow fencers who met at the Academy after hours--- but.that's history.

Swapping pieces and offering critiques became a vital part of polishing work, and even now I struggle to get response, comments and advice. I was immediately impressed by the friendliness of Denizens, to say nothing of their wit, talent and willingness to share. It's a grand learning experience for all concerned, whether we like it or not! When the rest of the world grabs my sleeve and drags me off to projects and other annoying bits of reality, I'm glad to have a place waiting at the Den.

I'm just here for the tea!!"

I could get used to this life. Now I am looking out across Canada to the mountains and there's a definite chill in the air; winter or zombie breath? (Do zombies have breath?) For me? Oh, I'm being handed a tiny shot of absinthe. As much as I detest the stuff, Mr. Bryce Raffle insists it will dry out my soggy shoes! So what does the Den mean to you, Mr. Raffle?
"When I first started out writing in the steampunk genre, I began looking to establish or find an existing writing group with a focus on the somewhat obscure subgenre. I was disappointed with most of the options, but eventually found my way to the Scribblers' Den. Among the most active online writing communities I've ever come across, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more supportive, friendlier, or more collaborative writing group anywhere. Throughout the year and a half or so that I've been a member of the Den, we've laughed together, drank tea together, collaborated on an anthology together, and grown as writers together. My fellow members continue to inspire me; they've built a shared universe, the world of Port Reprieve. They've written posts for my blog, shared my posts on twitter, and they've read even my earliest drafts of my work-in-progress novel. They're talented, too; some of them have written and published some of the best examples of steampunk I've read to date. No wonder I continue to be inspired. More importantly, I've come to know my fellow denizens as dear friends."
And where would an interview be without a quick chat with 'Blimprider', Mr Jack Tyler:

"I am the founder of this wonderful group. I take no credit for its wonder; it is the wonder of its members that make it what it is. It is a playhouse, full of jokes, yarns, and snapshots of lives fully lived engendering heartfelt laughter. It is the camaraderie of friendly people taking many different paths up the mountain. It is the selfless support of brilliant people, not only lifting you up when you're mired in the doldrums, but cheering you on when you're flying high. It is, in the final analysis, the ultimate clubhouse for the children in all of us who make possible all the glorious worlds we create and populate with fantastic characters and their inventions. How blessed we are to have found each other!"
So N.O.A., What about that cover reveal? I'm intrigued.

Intrigued? Here's the blurb:

When one thinks of a den, one tends to think of comfort. A cozy room in the house—a quiet, comfortable place, a room for conversation, reading, or writing. One doesn’t tend to think of high adventure, dragons, vampires, airships, or paranormal creatures. And yet, that’s just what you’ll find in these pages. Stories of adventure and mystery! Paranormal, dark, and atmospheric tales! The fantastical and the imaginative, the dystopian and post-apocalyptic, and everything in between!

So settle in to the coziest room in your house, plop down into your favourite armchair, and dive in to the Den of Antiquity.


That doesn't even whet my appetite!

Whet your appetite? Here are the stories:

Brass and Coal, by Jack Tyler
An Evening at the Marlon Club as Told by Dr. Horatio Boyle, by Kate Philbrick
Dragon's Breath, by E.C. Jarvis
The Reluctant Vampire, by Neale Green
The Complications of Avery Vane, by Bryce Raffle
Hark! Hark! by N.O.A. Rawle
The Jackalope Bandit, by David Lee Summers
After The Catastrophe: The Lady Of Castle Rock, by Steve Moore
When The Tomb Breaks, by William J. Jackson
All That Glitters, by Karen J Carlisle
Yggdrasil's Triumphant Return, by Alice E. Keyes
After The Crash, by B.A. Sinclair
Okay so I'm hooked, alright!

Hooked? Well I guess I better get on with it. Here it is; the one and only...

Available from November 5th  2016!


Monday, 15 August 2016

Foxes, Dreams and Nature's Gifts.

My annual retreat to the Pindos mountains is a means of escaping the heat of summer. I do not rest though - mountain houses need work; snow-melt drains must be cleared, ceiling holes filled, brambles cut back. I endure all this as the climate and vegetation at 1200+ meters above sea level in Greece are similar to England, so I feel right at home. My kids also love running wild and experiencing raw nature. They gathered enough early blackberries to make a delicious pie and a pound of jelly, and I collected oregano for the whole year.

Blackberry and apple pie.
The highlights of this year had to be feeding Marios the fox cub who, with his brother Max, and his sister Maria, scavenged for tidbits around the houses in the settlement, after dark. Watching the meteorite showers from the mountain top and, most significantly for me, finally getting to see the Milky Way! (I've always been in places too light polluted or there's been too much cloud cover!) The squirrels in the roof were chilling not partying so I got more sleep. Oh, and there were no giant spiders either! (Last year I found a spider bigger than my hand under the bed.)

Marios the fox cub taking tidbits from one of the children.
I am a nocturnal writer, but in the mountains  I sleep early to wake early, so little actual writing gets done. There are other benefits - I remember my dreams for one, and this year I had quite a few. I love dreams that have that weird horror feel to them. Often, I can dream a whole story, usually dark and claustrophobic, full of tension. I have outlines for at least two complete horror shorts!

Soon available from Fox Spirit Books.
The last time this happened was with 'Tickets to Ride' which is finally due out next month from Fox Spirit's Fox Pocket anthology, Reflections. This story is a full dream, including the names! (No one I know, I promise you.) I have changed the beginning and the ending just a tad. So if you want to know what goes on in my head, grab your dream decoder and a copy of Reflections!

Note: This post should have gone out a few weeks ago, but due to health issues things have been going real slow. I'm trying to get back on track and hopefully I'll have some new stuff for you in a few days! 

Friday, 8 July 2016

Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenge.

This morning, I decided to take part in Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenge on the theme of insomnia that he posted on his Terribleminds blog about a week ago. (Yes, I squandered all that time...) There's nothing like a little horror on a Friday afternoon!

I give you:

Night’s End

By N.O.A. Rawle

Alex turned to the left, pulling up her legs before her and tucking her chin onto her knees. Her breathing  rattled in her ears, eyelids scratching her eyes. She could feel the blood coursing through the capillaries, threading routes across her vision. Twisting face down in the sweat soaked pillow, the feathers forever tainted with a stale whiff of iron. She hoped to slip into sleep.

1:34am.

The house around her creaked as it always had and out in the garden the greengage trees scraped against each other their fluttering leaves reminiscent of a rushing stream. Somewhere far off, thunder bowled across the mountains like an erratic heart beat. The minute hand ticked in the semi dark.

1:35.

With her back pressed into the sheets, she stared up at the moonlight thrown blue and cold across the ceiling, a reflection of the day. She would stand it one more night – she had to. After that she thought she’d fold. The doctor had said not to fight the sleeplessness. He’d prescribed some pills, but the slip of paper had remained in her shoulder bag. The CVS had been stuffed with late night customers, the closeness of their bodies was unbearable, the chatter of the infirm hard to block out in the sterile whiteness of the neon strip lights.

1:36.

The sun would rise at 5:17 - 3 hours and 41 minutes. It wasn’t so long: a feature film, a marathon, a double period of Math then English. Lightning flashed obliterating the moon-thrown shadows with fierce outlines of the trees in the yard. Alex longed to drink but daren’t tread on the wooden boards for fear of where her feet might lead her. Parched. Dry. A dessert of thirst with no let up. The doctor had said it was a reaction to the accident. She had a temporary fear of drinking water – she’d been slurping out of a bottle when she’d lost control of the car.

1:37.

It wasn’t like that though. Water wouldn’t suffice. It hadn’t on Tuesday night when she had ventured down to the fridge and slugged back two glasses from the chiller. It had sloshed around inside her until she’d been forced to eject it. Nothing in the fridge appealed.

1:38.

But she hadn’t lost control of the car. It had been ripped from her. And now lying in the night dreading her every urge, she flipped from side to the other trying to find a place that would suck her into sleep, a position that would cushion her from the need inside. Slicked in cold sweat, her skin cloying and uncomfortable, she hammered the pillow into a better shape to bolster her head.

3 hours and 40 minutes till sunrise, relief and rest.

Over the scratching of the branches and the rush of the leaves, louder than the thunder and the creaking of the house there came another noise. Alex sat up and listened more acutely. There it was again. A keening cry, morbid and desolate in pitch, raked the night. She had heard it just before the car plunged into blackness and she was lost in that helter-skelter nightmare of mutilated metal and gushing blood, a fading memory of her friend Kelly screaming in terror.

1:40.

The sound had come from the creature that had collided with her car. It had crashed through the windscreen driving them into the river torrent. Attaching itself to her neck so fast she hardly had time to register the dizzying feeling as it fed first from her and then turned to Kelly to silence her screams. All the time the water seeped in through the windows intensifying the spreading cold.

1:41.

In her bag was her insulin set. Alex fumbled for it while the creature feasted on her friend. She stabbed the plunger into her beleaguered body and waited for the surge of energy. When the creature turned its leathery maw back to finish her off, she was ready.

1:42.

She had seen enough B movies to know that you had to drink the blood of a vampire to become immortal and she had sunk her teeth into it with the full fury and rage triggered by its intrusion. She would not leave this world. The whimpering was outside the door now.

1:43.

Alex had not left then and she would not leave now. After she had rejected water she had accepted blood was the only thing that would satisfy. There was just enough time before dawn. She would leech the creature at her door and embrace eternal insomnia.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Win! Win! Win!

I have an electronic copy of Legendary Stories: What Went Wrong? , which includes my steampunk story 'Balancing Act', to give away! All you have to do to be the lucky winner is tell me a funny story (real or imaginary) about a time that something went wrong for you. Srictly one entry per person. Leave the tale in the comments below, along with your email address (prize cannot be awarded if you don't add this). State the format you prefer: epub, mobi Kindle or PDF. Comment before June 10th 2016 (Midnight 9/6/16 in Greece, is cut off time). The winner will be notified by email.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Twist of Fate? report by stand-in reporter Antigone Nicks

Peculiar goings-on after authors participate in Lit Select's Legendary Stories: What Went Wrong anthology.


Strange reports have been coming in that contributors to Lit Select's Legendary Stories: What Went Wrong anthology didn't know what they were getting themselves into when their work was accepted for the anthology.

Time Out for Teachers


Our correspondent from Northern California reveals that middle school teacher and writer, Jan Flynn, has developed an alarming disability. "I began having trouble with my right thumb," she confessed earlier this week. "At first, I thought it was a minor complaint due to the sheer weight of marking and writing I have to do." But when she developed an odd, hard lump near the distal knuckle, she knew things were not quite right. "It tingles with pain when I type on my keyboard; when I write in longhand, it obliges me to adopt an odd, claw-like grip on the pen in order to write at all." she says. "I fear this developing and spreading until both hands will operate like grasping claws, and that lump on the right thumb is developing alarming attributes, something like a third eye. I have taken to wearing gloves to conceal my affliction, and find myself drawn to dark, watery places. It all started when I submitted "Itself" to What Went Wrong."

Not only that, nothing has been seen of EFL teacher and writer N.O.A. Rawle after she submitted her work "Balancing Act" to the anthology. Her worried relatives reported that the last communication they had from her was just after she arrived at the Spring Fair, "She called me to tell me that she had encountered a travelling salesman by the name of Monsiuer du Monde and was about to pass through his mysterious machine, the Equiliberator." her husband told me earlier. "That was the last I saw of my wife. Our Children are distraught." A spokesperson for the Hellenic Police said "No one else can recall having seen such a travelling salesman at the fair, but investigations are on-going."

Mystical Texts Under Examination


Author Bryan Nickelberry, who wrote the "Misfire" story about the Cthulu cult gone wrong, related his experience. "A friend of mine gave me a copy of the Necronomicon years ago, and I began reading it in the car on the way home. Things got very strange after that, and have never quite been the same. On a relatively consistent basis we'd have things like me mentioning a phone ringing or a knock on the door; only to have a phone ring, or a knock on the door in real life. Strange circumstances like that have always been a part of my life; but this put things into overdrive. I think most things are back to normal now; maybe; but to this day my friends and I will randomly say,  'The phone rings' and we all know what it means."

Green Around the Gills


Author Larry Lefkowitz, whose story "Sanctuary" appears in the anthology, saught hypnotherapy for a strange aversion he developed to the colour green. "I am sure that I wasn't really under," he says "I heard the suggestions of my therapist but I was fully conscious. This strange magnetic pull/revulsion relationship I have developed with the colour green has really become overwhelming."

Read It If You Dare. . .


In an attempt to get to the bottom of this, I contacted Lit Select directly. However, inside sources report that editor Cher A. Starr has been curiously absent during these final phases of the anthology. Lit Select staff is said to be concerned about Mr. Starr's well being. The editor had taken to wearing a amulet with ancient symbols in the past several weeks. Staff members deny having seen the amulet before.

Questions sent to media contact, Harley Easton, were replied to by an email stating, "Believe office haunted or possessed. Being malevolent. Can't call. Must keep chanting."

Designer, Teresa Conner, was contacted by phone, but only a strange howling was heard before the line went dead.

I will bring you further updates if, and when I hear anything. All that remains to be said on the matter is that things go wrong when you least expect them and in ways that you can never imagine. If you think you can solve these publishing mysteries, I advise you to get your copy of Lit Select's Legendary Stories: What Went Wrong today. Available from Smashwords, Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Read it if you dare...

If you are really made of the sturdy stuff you can follow the blog tour too!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Schadenfruede - A guest post by Jan Flynn

Today I am pleased to introduce Jan Flynn the author of "Itself" the opening story in the forthcoming "Legendary Stories: What Went Wrong" anthology from Lit Select.

Things go wrong. Just when you’ve got your head above water, right when the bills are paid and the car is fixed and your pay increase is approved, just when you have some breathing room and think maybe it’s finally time to plan that vacation or fix up the bathroom . . . it all goes to hell. Your company gets acquired by a conglomerate that offloads your entire division on Friday afternoon. Your daughter calls from college to announce she’s changing her major and is will need at least another year to complete her degree. Your dog swallows a tennis ball and requires emergency surgery.

Why is this happening to you? The random nature of misfortune is maddening, isn’t it?

Ah, but when the poop is hitting someone else’s fan, especially if it’s someone you don’t like, and most especially if it’s somebody who absolutely deserves a sucker punch from fate . . . now, that can be delicious.

Who of us are immune to schadenfreude, that guilty but undeniable pleasure we derive from the misfortune of others? Breathes there an honest human being who will not admit to nurturing a secret chuckle, if not an outright thrill, at someone else getting it on the chin?

Maybe it’s not the nicest of human attributes, this Schadenfreude (or the even darker term morose delectation, defined as the habit of dwelling with enjoyment on evil thoughts). But the feeling is thoroughly human.

And what better way to safely channel it than in story form? There is something so delicious, so satisfying when things go wrong . . . for someone else.

Here’s a true story, one that happened to me. As a little girl, I was decidedly pudgy. I was teased at school, which was bad enough, but things were far worse in my neighborhood. The house three doors up and across the street from mine was the headquarters of a tribe of boys a year or two older, who spent their afternoons roaming around, sneaking cigarettes, and harassing me if they caught me out alone. They seemed to regard my fatness as a personal insult, an affront that compelled them to outdo one another in demonstrating their outrage. If I couldn’t get out of their sight fast enough, they could work themselves up into a frenzy worthy of Lord of the Flies. This was before cell phones or even personal computers, so they tormented me up close and personally, employing classic techniques: name-calling, insults, threats. They stopped short of physical assault, though they did throw rocks at me on more than one occasion.

My father was seldom home, traveling much of the time for work, so I complained to my mother. She was a serene lady with a remarkable talent for obliviousness toward things she considered too unpleasant to countenance, such as the neighbor’s kids victimizing her daughter. Her mission was to raise my sisters and me to be lovely young ladies, and that required that we be nice and maintain dignity at all times. “If those boys tease you,” she counseled, “you tell them, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me’. And then you simply walk away and come home.” With that, the subject was closed.

I wondered if “stones” included rocks. I considered that the names I got called, while not resulting in broken bones, did hurt. But clearly this was something I, as a chubby girl, had to expect and deal with. I learned to time my comings and goings to avoid the moments in the day when the gang was most likely to be hanging around on my block; I cultivated the ability to disappear down alleyways and between houses before I was spotted. For a tubby kid, I was pretty nimble.

Most of the time, my avoidance strategy worked. But if I let my vigilance slip as I walked home from the bus stop after school, I ran the risk of ending up at the center of unwanted attention. If I was lucky it might just mean a few mean names and laughter aimed at me while I trudged up the hill toward my house, but if Mike McGowan was there, I knew I was in for it.

Mike McGowan was the oldest, the tallest, and by far the meanest of the gang. He wasn’t around all the time. He’d been held back in school at least one year, and there were rumors he’d spent time in juvenile detention. When he was on the scene, the name -calling and jeering ratcheted up in volume and vehemence and tilted alarmingly toward hysteria. I regarded the other boys with deep distaste, but I was scared of Mike McGowan.

Years passed. I survived grade school and middle school and began to come into my own in high school. Mike McGowan dropped off my radar completely. I found friends and interests and books and writing, theater and dance. I grew tall. It turned out that my grade school pudge had simply been the reserve material, the fuel for what was developing into a willowy figure.

And then I went off to college, where I flourished. I got leading roles in the theater department’s plays. I pulled straight A’s. I dated the handsome business major from the next dorm, the one who played bluegrass banjo. I forgot I’d ever been a fat little kid.

The summer between my sophomore and junior year, I had to part from the banjo-player to return home for the summer where I secured a nice cushy job as a temporary secretary. The company had an elegant suite of offices in a new building overlooking San Francisco Bay. A trip to the ladies’ room meant leaving the suite to walk along the fourth floor of a sunlit atrium, where glass walls surrounded a central terrazzo staircase. It was an enjoyable way to stretch my legs while taking a break from answering phones and typing reports.

One early afternoon, I was on my way to the restroom, gazing out at the fog-wreathed hills surrounding the bay when I felt a pull on my awareness, a sense of being watched. The wide central staircase was to my right, and as I approached it I could see someone on the flight of steps just below the level where I stood.

A janitor, cleaning the steps, plunging a rag mop into a grimy yellow bucket and swabbing listlessly at the terrazzo. The butt of a cigarette stuck from his lower lip. He wore a filthy jumpsuit over ratty clothes. His expression was sardonic, bitter, resigned.

And he was checking me out. From his vantage point just below me, his eyes took a slow and insolent tour of the length of my legs and along my torso. I was used to getting the once-over from construction workers and the like, but something about this guy disturbed me. He was way too young, I thought, to look so hopeless, so broken down, so stuck. Without realizing it, my steps slowed. Meanwhile his gaze continued its journey, a smarmy grin forming around the cigarette butt, until he looked up into my face.

Our glances met, and in a jolting instant we recognized each other. Mike McGowan, my nemesis, stared at me, his eyes suddenly wide with shock, the butt dropping from his gaping jaw. For a heartbeat, I instinctively drew back, awaiting abuse. In the next heartbeat, I registered our relative circumstances.

“Well, hi, Mike,” I purred, aiming a wide smile down upon him. I would have said more, but he instantly dropped his gaze, mopping away as though the task demanded every shred of his attention.

I took a deep, giddy breath and headed off to the restroom, where I thought of a few choice remarks
to make on my return journey. But a few moments later, when I reached the atrium again, Mike and his bucket had disappeared.

It didn’t matter. The moment was perfect. Delicious. Satisfying. Schadenfruede.



Jan Flynn’s short fiction has also appeared in Midnight Carnival (Spring, 2016 issue). Her story "Stuffy" won First Prize in the Young Adult category of the Writers Digest 2015 Popular Fiction Awards. She posts regularly to her blog "Write On" at JanMFlynn.net. "The Moon Ran After Her", her novel-in-progress, is a retelling of firsthand accounts of her family members who survived the Armenian Holocaust. Jan lives in Northern California with her husband Michael and her dog Molly.


Saturday, 30 April 2016

Legendary Stories:What Went Wrong? Cover Reveal.

I'm proud to say that the honour of the cover reveal for Legendary Stories: What Went Wrong? the awesome new anthology from Lit Select, has been given to me!

What will you find inside, you ask me? I can guarantee you 15 fantastic stories of plans gone awry. 15 awesome authors interpretations of a REALLY bad day! Don't believe me? Inside the gorgeous cover, you will find work from Jan Flynn, Bryan Nickelberry, Holly Riordan, Matthew Harrison, Dan Szczesny, Ben Howells, Gregory Norris, Larry Lefkowitz, Jonathan Shipley, Ed Ahern, Eric J. Guinard, Charles Gramlich, TS Alan, T.R. North and N.O.A. Rawle.

Not intrigued enough yet? Here's an excerpt from my contribution, 'Balancing Act':

“Gentlemen! Just starting out on the rocky road to marriage? Want the kinks in your future smoothed out before you start?” The spindly gentleman tugged on his fine moustache for dramatic effect,“Ladies! Want to know that you and your partner will share equal footing in the house? Or know that your spouse will pull his weight?” He allowed himself a smile, but not long enough to arouse suspicion, “We all know that balance is the key to a good relationship but there’s no guarantee that you’ll get it… Or is there?My secret is right here!” He gesticulated to the large oblong box draped in purple silk. “It’s simple! Here, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the key to your Happy Ever After! Here, is what no matchmaker or priest can guarantee! But do you dare to try it?”

The crowd was now so silent that his patent leather boots could be heard as he clicked back across the wooden platform.

“I speak now only to the brave among you. Those of a sound heart! Let me introduce you to the Equilibrator! Modern science, my friends, mixed with a just the right sprinkling of magic of course, has the answer! But are you sure you want what I have to offer?”

The audience nodded, some already murmuring consent.

“The Equilibrator will iron out all your differences before you even know what they might be! Lifelong attraction assured! No arguments! No Discussions! No risk! And I mean no risk, because if you are not satisfied that balance has been brought to your relationship after the first week, I personally, will refund every last penny of your hard earned cash! Yes, that’s right, you heard me correctly! If you can show me that your circumstances are not balanced, I will give you your money back.”

Not enough? Well here's a little bit more: Let me give you a taster from Holly Riordan's '2008':

“I want to test it first, to see if it’s safe,” my aunt said, unfolding the place mats and flipping through them. “Which one wouldn’t you want?”

“We never really did much for Easter. Try using that one.”

“Sounds good to me.” She plucked it from the pile and a smiling bunny face stared up at us. Its fur and little pink nose filled the entire mat, except for a black box in the lower left-hand corner, which held a signature line.

I nudged the knife with my knuckles, hoping she’d pick it up and slice without wasting precious minutes trying to prepare herself for the pain.

That’s exactly what she did. She swept the knife across her skin, like she’d done it hundreds of times before. Like she was as used to seeing blood as the man in the booth.   


“I guess this is my temporary goodbye,” she said as she dipped a pinky into the blood and wrote out the year she wanted. She chose 2008, the same year I was planning on picking. The year before it had happened.

As soon as she finished drawing out the last number, her hands fell to her side. Her eyes rolled up. Her back arched. Then her body froze. I would’ve called an ambulance if I’d had a more innocent childhood, but I’d seen death before. This wasn’t it.
This was magic.


Oh yes indeed!


And now the moment you have been waiting for...




Ladies and Gentlemen, kids and pets (I know at least one author who has a literate pet!)...




I give you Lit Select's Legendary Stories:What Went Wrong!


 
Available from
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Beth Cato Interviewed

Beth Cato talks about Characters, Cooking and of course, her latest Clockwork Dagger off-shoot, The Final Flight.

 
It is my very great pleasure to interview Beth Cato about the last story in The Clockwork Dagger series, The Final Flight and what lies beyond this. Her first novel, The Clockwork Dagger is a 2015 Locus Award finalist for First Novel, The Clockwork Crown was released from Harper Voyager last year along with a novella, The Deepest Poison and Nebula nominated novella Wings of Sorrow and Bone.

First of all, tell us a little bit about the last story in the Clockwork Dagger series, ‘The Final Flight’.

This story follows a minor character from the first book in my series. Captain Hue of the airship Argus had a hard time of it in The Clockwork Dagger, but now things are even worse: his ship has been commandeered by a Clockwork Dagger and Caskentian soldiers as part of some sort of covert mission. Hue's teenage son is aboard, too. Hue wants his boy and his crew safe, but the danger only escalates.

I love how ‘Bready or Not’, your baking blog, appears as a bakery store in the second novel ‘Clockwork Crown’ and that there are even off-shoot recipes that can be baked at home from the novella ‘Wings of Sorrow and Bone’. Will there be any more culinary delights in the last in the series?

Alas, no! Sometimes baked delights don't quite fit with the voice of the story. I do have other stories and poems that continue to explore the wonders of things like cardamom and pie. The theme is alive and well.

When you conceived Octavia Leander, did you imagine that she would reach such great heights?

When I first started writing about Octavia, I just plain wanted to write a book that was good enough to sell to a decent publishing house! I found my agent with another book that we couldn't sell, and wow did that hurt. I was afraid I would never be a published novelist. Octavia gave me a chance to prove to myself and everyone else that I could do this.

All of your characters, Octavia Leander, Alonzo Garret, Mrs. Stout, Rivka, Tatiana Garret, to name but a few, are very credible; where do you draw your influences from?

From other characters in literature or on TV, from people I've known, and combining all of the above. Mrs. Stout is probably my character most strongly based on another character--Mrs. Slocombe from the old British comedy Are You Being Served? I even kept the vividly coloured hair as a blatant tribute. Tatiana is heavily based on another girl I knew as as child, who will go unnamed for obvious reasons as Tatiana is not the most pleasant of people.

There was, to my mind, an increased ‘steampunk influence’ (more mechanisation and industry) in the ‘Clockwork Crown’. Was this due to the developments in the plot or for other reasons?

The increase in technology was really about setting more than anything. My agent was originally rather concerned that the steampunk element in Clockwork Dagger was too light and it might hurt our ability to sell the book. It's a valid concern for sure. I really needed things to stay as they were, though, so that I could eventually show how the kingdom of Caskentia in my first book has regressed because of fifty years of brutal war against the Waste. The southern nations, as shown in Clockwork Crown, are far superior in both technology and education.

Now that the final story in the Clockwork Dagger series is completed, how do you feel?

Relieved that the contract has been fulfilled, but sad, too. I don't want it to be the last story I write in that world, but I know I won't have the chance to return to there anytime soon. I'm working on my new series now that starts with Breath of Earth.

There is an altruistic streak in you Clockwork Dagger series, a love of nature (Worshipping The Lady) and animal rights (Rivka’s emancipation of the Gremlins). Are these messages intentional in your work?

Oh yes. I really want my characters to be passionate about causes that are bigger than them. I've had a lot of readers say they are pleasantly surprised at how the Clockwork Dagger books handle faith in a positive way. I read slush for a magazine, and I was amazed at how many stories followed the trope of "religion is bad! This preacher is really evil!" I wanted to turn that around. I started writing about Rivka while I was still unsure about how she could possibly succeed in saving the gremlins from foul experimentation, but I knew I had to find a way. I'm the proud owner of cats from the SPCA. I really want creatures of all sorts to find happy, loving homes.

As well as the successful steampunk Clockwork Dagger series, you write very lucid poetry and have a plethora of stories published in other areas of the speculative fiction field. Which is your favourite genre to write in?

Fantasy. I have never lost that childhood need for magic to be real.

What can your readers look forward to later this year?

Well, "Final Flight: A Clockwork Dagger Story" is out on April 26th. I have other stories and poems that will be published throughout the year, but the big event is the release of my novel Breath of Earth on August 23rd.

You have already expressed you delight over the Nebula nomination. Where do you intend to go from here? Are there any other awards you've dreamt of?

Actually winning a major award would be nice at some point. So far, I'm 2 for 2 on losing big awards, and I'm pretty certain the Nebula Awards will give me 3 for 3. I'm cool with that--the other novellas are amazing! Someday I would like to nab a Nebula, though. Legally. Without, you know, grabbing an award and making a run for the airport.

As many of my readers are writers, what advice can you give them?

Stay stubborn. This is a tough business no matter what route you take. Believe in yourself and your writing, fight to improve your work, and slog onward!

Thank you for talking to me and good luck in nabbing that Nebula.

Beth hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.


The Final Flight is available for pre-prder from: Amazon.com & Amazon.co.uk
(Follow the links throughout the interview for Beth's other books.)
 

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Wrong Is Right!

It's April and my attention has been absorbed by my day job, but my writing is still bouncing along, despite being a little late with the last chapter of Close Call. Sadly, you might have to wait a while longer for that.

However, I am pleased that my Steampunk story 'Balancing Act' has been accepted by Lit Select for their 'Legendary Stories: What Went Wrong?' anthology. I am super thrilled about this because I used what I learnt in a copy writing course a year or so ago and still ended up with a story! It's about a wily salesman, a magic machine and love. Don't be thinking it's a romance or anything, mind you. It's a cautionary tale of greed and just deserts! The anthology is due out in May sometime. I will of course let you know.

My other wonderful news is that I have interviewed one of my all-time favourite authors. You can see the results of that next weekend, I'll post it to coincide with her latest book launch. Now who might I be talking about?

If you haven't done so already, add your support to the Indiegogo campaign for 'Forever Hungry' which includes a tale of mine!

Until next weekend!

Monday, 21 March 2016

Forever Hungry Indiegogo Campaign!

Far Horizons Press have launched their Indiegogo campaign for Forever Hungry in which my zombie story 'The Night Before' is included, along with 20 + other tales of shambling zombie, brain consuming madness! Please add your support today!

 
 
You can also add support for the other two anthologies being released by Far Horizons, Former Heroes and Fantastically Horny.
 
 

Friday, 4 March 2016

Steampunk Ramblings and WWII Sharks!

It's almost time! My second published Steampunk story, Synchronysi is published on the 15th of this month in Collective Ramblings Vol. One. As winner of the Deserted Island story contest, it is my first cover mention, in story if not in name. Synchronysi, featuring rebellious Andromeda Stokes, is actually part of a much larger story which will may see the light of day in the not too distant future.

 
 
The volume also features my WWII horror story, Shark Nose, in which Violet Bellows recounts her traumatic escape from London in the Blitz to the Wiltshire countryside only to discover the horror of war is not so easily avoided.
 

 

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Ahh! The Pirates are coming! Guest blog post from E.C. Jarvis

Do you like stories with pirates? If the answer is no, then you can leave and go do something else other than read the rest of this.

 

Have the strange people gone? Yes? Good. Well here we are then.

I wrote a book. It’s an action/adventure/mystery/romance in the theme of fantasy steampunk. Quite a mouthful right? Really it’s just a rollicking good story about our heroine Larissa, her counterpart - a reticent yet highly skilled fighter named Holt - her genius engineer friend Cid, and a cat.
The first book The Machine is where the story starts and really you need to read that before you can read book two, The Pirate. It’s available now for only .99 (or equivalent currency in your location).

You go read that now and come back to me here, I’ll wait…
 


Now that’s out of the way, you want to find out what happens next don’t you? Well lucky you. Book 2, The Pirate is out on 29th February. The same team are off on yet another adventure. Poor Larissa has a bit too much to handle on her plate, and now that she has become the Captain of the pirate airship all responsibility falls squarely on her shoulders. I do like to torture my poor characters. It’s good for them (at least that’s what I keep trying to tell them. I’m not sure they agree.)

The story is fast paced, action packed, funny in places and a compelling page-turner. There’s never a dull moment in my books because who wants to write/read dull stuff? Not me, and presumably not you either.

Here’s a little sneak peak for you:

“Set the five-minute fuse going and place the bomb in the middle cell. It’s far enough away from the furnace room that it won’t destroy the ship, and far enough away from Barton not to kill him.”
“Not wanting to slaughter your way off the ship today, huh?”
“These men are only following orders.” Holt cast a wistful glance up the stairs. “Most of them, anyway. Set the next fuse when we get to the mid-deck and leave it in the staircase so the explosion doesn’t catch any of the black powder. The last two we’ll light when we’re about to get up top. How do we get off?”
“The pirate ship is sailing aft. It’s…invisible.”
“Invisible.”
“We’ll have to jump.”
“Into thin air,” Holt said.
“It’ll be there,” she tried for reassurance as she held the bomb with the longest fuse up to a gas lamp to light it. She wasn’t sure if she was trying to convince Holt or herself.
“Who’s piloting?” Holt asked.
“Cid.”
Holt gave a grunt in response. It was not a grunt of approval.
“You think you can make it with those still attached?” she asked, pointing to his chains.
“Too late to worry about that now.” He nodded at the bomb.
Larissa jumped a little as she suddenly realized that the clock was ticking. She rushed to the middle of the corridor and placed the small bomb through the bars of one of the cells and chanced a quick glance at her pocket watch.
“Five minutes,” she whispered, heading back to Holt, who’s already started up the stairs. He’d collected a short-sword from the Captain and carried it in both his hands. Larissa would have doubted the ability of most men to be effective being so restricted. Holt was not like most men.
“What if we see people?” she whispered as they ascended.
“There are sixty-two men aboard. I would find it odd if we did not see anyone.”
“I mean what do we do if people see us?”
He turned back and cast an appraising glance over her. “Do not let people see you.”
 
Did that catch your attention? I hope so. If it did then you can order your copy here.

Let me know what you think if you read them. You can find me any number of places:

https://www.facebook.com/E.C.JarvisAuthor

https://twitter.com/EC_Jarvis

https://www.ecjarvis.com

Happy reading!

E.C. Jarvis is a professional bean-counter (accountant) and semi-professional word spewer (author). She once got the two confused – it was not pretty. Born, raised and currently living in England. Over the years, E.C. Jarvis has managed to accumulate a husband, a daughter, and a cat.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Fearful February - Women in Horror Month and some new stories

If you were asked to list ten women who write horror, could you?

It wasn't until I was looking at the listings of authors in the last two anthologies I had work published in, Hides the Dark Tower and Once Bitten, that I really began to think about how few female authors of horror are well-known. By well-known, I mean recognisable to people who don't usually read this genre. Most would probably know Mary Shelley or Daphne du Maurier, some might get as far as Anne Rice, or even, to stretch the horror genre description to extreme limits, Stephanie Meyer. But why so few?

So why are there not more well-know women horror authors?

Hides the Dark Tower was edited by two highly respected female editors and writers, Kelly A. Harmon and Vonnie Winslow Crist. Once Bitten is published by Knightwatch Press, then under the auspices of Theresa Derwin, and these are just the tip of a bone chilling iceberg of women working in horror publishing! So why are there not more well-know women horror authors? Is it that there aren't quality submissions made by women? Or perhaps the work that is submitted by women is not the right fit for a particular anthology? It might even be that few women submit work at all. Kelly A. Harmon said that the entries in Hides the Dark Tower anthology reflected the number of submissions by men and women, "-two thirds of the book are stories written by men, one-third by women--just as two thirds of the submissions came from men, and only a third from women." She also added that if more women had submitted, more would have been published.

"Women simply do not get the same consideration or outlets for their work as do men."

Strangely, the very month I was pondering all these questions, Billie Sue Mosiman (herself, an established author of horror) posed just the same questions in her call for horror stories by women to be included in the Fright Mare anthology, a publication aimed at redressing the balance, "I don't mean to upset or demean male writers, but no one can deny fiction has been dominated by males for a hundred years. Women simply do not get the same consideration or outlets for their work as do men. I hope my anthology helps that out a little bit. I love much of the work of male writers, but I think I'd love more women writers if only they were published more often." Mosiman told me when I asked her about her motivation for the anthology.

"I noticed that all, and I do mean every single one of the authors, panellists and moderators was male."

In yet another spooky coincidence, I contacted Theresa Derwin for some statistics for this post and it turns out that she has just published the aims of her PhD in an article Hear my Voice, on the very same subject. After reading about her experience at a first time Horror con, Horror in the East, I can understand why there is a need for a more reactionary response from women writing in the Horror genre. Derwin says "This con was predominantly organised by a woman...I noticed that all, and I do mean every single one of the authors, panellists and moderators was male."
 
Theresa Derwin kindly shared the following statistics from her preliminary findings with me and they are alarming:
  • Sunny with a Chance of Zombies: Submissions received: total = 44 (31 male authors, 13 female authors) female submission rate of 31.7%. Acceptances: 8 male authors, 4 female authors. 
  • Crystal Lake Publishing stats open period: Submissions received: total = 144 (115 male authors, 29 female authors) female submission rate of 20.1% 
  • Wild Things: Submissions received: total = 76 (56 male authors, 20 female authors) female submission rate of 26.3%
Women have long been portrayed as secondary characters or the victims of horror fiction rather than the protagonists or strong and determined individuals.

Then there's characterisation; women have long been portrayed as secondary characters or the victims of horror fiction rather than the protagonists or strong and determined individuals. As a writer, I tend to write more male leads than female and wonder if this is due to the male-dominated diet of horror literature that I have been brought up on - writing what one reads rather than is. Since writing this post, I have been more aware of who my protagonists are and have even altered the course of some of my works in progress so that the male and female protagonists are represented in a more balanced way if not altered entirely. It is not the same for everyone. Harmon commented, "Personally, I enjoy writing stories about strong characters--male and female. For me, it's more a matter of storytelling than anything else: I find it hard to root for a weak character of any gender" With regards to editors' choices, she says, "Since Hides the Dark Tower was conceived as a book about towers, rather than people, we weren't really concerned about publishing stories with empowered female characters. However, there are several in the book--some even written by the men who submitted."

The aim is to highlight the changing roles of women in movies and in fiction both as characters and creators of horror.

This issue is so pressing that February is officially Women in Horror Month and has been for the past seven years now. The aim is to highlight the changing roles of women in movies and in fiction both as characters and creators of horror. So get out there and read some horror written by women! If you are a budding woman writer, but worry that your voice will not be heard, just keep plugging away. If you fear that your voice is too unladylike, check out the following list of the Top Ten Women Horror Writers. How many have you read? Be inspired! Make every month Women in Horror Month.

For my part, I have written The Whistler, a short horror story with a twist of Steampunk for the Mocha Memoirs Press Women in Horror Contest. (Read through the other great entries before mine which is 11th on the list!) You can also check out my new venture into self-publishing, Close Call (for now) a Wattpad publication. (This is one of those stories that changed direction after writing this article.)

 

Remember to leave me a comment here or on Wattpad and let me know what you think!