Monday, 30 September 2013

Guest Author Interview - L R Currell

Welcome to the beginning of a new week and with it the latest guest author interview. In today's interview I welcome Australian author L. R. Currell, you can find out what he has to say below:
 


Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
I'm an up and coming author from Australia who writes in a variety of genres specializing in captivating story lines and twists that hopefully leave the reader wanting more.

What first inspired you to start writing?
Albert Einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge"  For as long as I can remember I have always loved to write.  Writing has been the one constant in my life, the one thing I can relate to and the one thing I want to pursue.

Which author do you most admire and why?
Salman Rushdie. He isn't my favorite author by any means and I don't  agree with all his views but as far as voicing his opinion on what he believes in, well I have to admire that.

What is your favourite song lyric?
From one of my favorite band's Tool:

Before you point the finger you should know that
I'm the man, And if I'm the man, Then you're the man, and
He's the man as well...

Are you a planner? Or do you prefer to dive straight into writing?
Rough plan and then dive straight in so I get a bit of both if that makes sense but I'm not overly thorough on the preparation.

Where is your happy place?
A man's home is his castle

What advice would you give new and aspiring authors?
Persevere, no matter what. If you are absolutely adamant that writing is what you want to do then the only thing to do is write. My other tip would be to quickly differentiate between constructive criticism  which will allow you to grow and just plain, over inflated crap.

Surround yourself with positive people, people who want to see you  succeed in achieving your dreams and go for it. You only get one life, you might as well use it doing the one thing you really want to  pursue.

What are you working on at the moment?
I have about 50 works in progress at various stages. I am trying to get myself out there, network and make great connections. I am trying  to get people to read my books and hopefully write stories that make readers want to see more of my work.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
I currently have three books out, they can be seen here:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7106966.L_R_Currell

http://www.amazon.com/L.-R.-Currell/e/B00CNJKXZ8/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1372493776&sr=8-2

https://www.createspace.com/pub/simplesitesearch.search.do?sitesearch_query=L.R.+Currell&sitesearch_type=STORE

Books by L. R. Currell:

Book Impressions - The Soul Ripper by Cege Smith

The Soul Ripper is a fantasy/post-apocalyptic novel that starts with an interesting premise. The world has fallen is some undermined time in the past and babies are now born without souls, as such they are in effect little monsters that grow up as such until they are granted a soul through a special ceremony.

The story concerns a group of parents who have been chosen to have souls granted to their offspring and the people involved in that particular day's ceremony. Unfortunately someone long forgotten also has a need for souls and has their own plans for that day.

I enjoyed reading the book, as I've said the basic premise is interesting and it weaves a believeable world and more importantly it provides a vision of people's lives in that world. The writing is solid and leads you happily through the plot right up until the moment it abruptly ends.

In fairness the end is a reasonable one and oes leave you anticipating the next book in the series, however it is a pet peeve of mine when a significant chunk of the book you are reading is taken up with a section of the next book. In this case I hit 85% (far from the worst offender I've encountered) and the book was over.

As I say that's a pet complaint of mine, other than that it is a fine read, well worth checking out.

 
In a post-apocalyptic world known as the Territory of Malm, infants are born soulless. With a hideous appearance and unquenchable hunger, they are kept out of sight until they are Chosen.

Long ago, the residents of Malm placed their faith in the Office of Souls to lead them and keep them safe after the human race was almost destroyed in the time known only as "Before". But someone long forgotten has other plans, and that means unleashing unspeakable evil into their world.

Soul Implantation Day 3675 starts out like any other, and follows the paths of six people who are destined to meet in the courtyard of the Fountain of Souls. They bear witness to a soul implantation ceremony gone terribly awry.

Not all of them will survive, and some will suffer a fate worse than death.

This title was previously published as "The Soul Garden".*

Length: 25,000 words

Currently available in the Twisted Souls series:
The Soul Ripper (Twisted Souls #1)
Twisted Souls (Twisted Souls #2)
Soul Cycle (Twisted Souls #3)


The Soul Ripper is available from Amazon (and is a fun, if brief read)


Sunday, 29 September 2013

Tales of the Imp - The Best Laid Plans

The latest Tales of the Imp drabble has been posted on the Indie Book Bargains newsletter (thanks Rosen!), I've posted it below:

The Best Laid Plans

For a long week I struggled through possible scenarios. It needed to look natural, preferably an accident. I harassed the Imp for suggestions, but he told me that it had to be my plan. I’m not sure why, he wouldn’t explain. He did point out however that my boss smoked and drank a lot.

Now there was an interesting thought.

I wondered know how many smokers die in their sleep while drunk.

I know that he likes to get hammered on a Friday night, too drunk to walk home sometimes.

It’s Friday today. I think I’ll murder my boss tonight.

If you haven't read the others in the series then you can read them here: http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/tales-of-imp.html

Film Review - Brick

This is an interesting film, it tells the story of a college kid investigating the death of his ex-girlfriend. What makes it stand out is that the film is presented in the style of film noir, with the teenager in the role of a gumshoe detective. It's a nice idea and follows a similar plot to the investigations with a few twists and turns along the way.

Everyone does a good job in their roles, in particular the lead. Without the style gimmick it's a solid enough film, everyone plays their part and the story unfolds at a decent pace. The style does set it apart, but also proves it undoing.

The issue is that it comes across as a student film with the kids playing roles of the noir style. It's well filmed which does set it up a step higher than that, but still the impression remains. While it does present an interesting juxtaposition it did hamper my enjoyment somewhat.

That leaves it as a film that's a bit tricky to rate, it's a decent enough film, but not as entertaining as it might have been. Still it's not a bad watch by any means and it does stand apart from many other teen movies, so worth checking out.



Off-beat drama from writer/director Rian Johnson, imitating the conventions of 1940s hardboiled film noir as a teenager investigates his ex-girlfriend's death in a small Southern Californian town. Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an outsider at his high school, but when his ex-girlfriend Emily goes missing, he decides to investigate. Teaming up with The Brain (Matt O'Leary), Brendan gets close to Emily's group of eccentric and sinister friends. As he begins to suspect the figure known only as The Pin (Lukas Haas), Brendan insinuates himself into his inner circle. But will Brendan uncover truths about Emily, or more dangerous truths about himself?


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Film Review - Savage

 Savage is a story about the consequences of violence, it revolves around a young press photographer who suffers a terrible assault in the city where he lives. The attack itself is brutal and leaves scars both physical and mental. It then follows how he handles the experience (not well!) and the ultimnate outcome.

The film is a good watch, the vision of Paul's disintergration is well shown and as the cover blurb says is reminiscent of Taxi Driver, although doesn't really come close in terms of overall quality. That being said it is a solid film and worth watching, the main character is well portrayed and the supporting cast also do a good job.

The events play on some of our fears for those familiar with inner city violence, although it doesn't delve into their existence, it sticks totally to Paul's experience, so they are portrayed mostly as monsters, which from his perspective is reasonable enough.

I thought the end was a little overdone, but it did work in the context of the film and the final scene is quite effective. I did feel for the charcter throughout the film even though he's not a likeable character. Overall this is a decent watch.


Paul Graynor is an aliented press photographer who lives in a threatening and hostile city and it was only a matter of time before he became the victim of a serious crime. Finding himself the subject rather than the purveyor of an inner city tabloid story, Paul tries to come to terms with the attack though the scars both physical and psychological prove impossbile to heal. As Paul struggles to come to terms with his ordeal his metamorphosis begins - from victim to avenger.

Savage is available from Amazon (and it's a good watch)

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Game Review - Darksiders II

I enjoyed the first game, but I didn't complete it - too many boss battles. I hate boss battles, they always feel cheap making you jump through hoops to defeat a specific enemy. That being said I liked the premise and the bits between the boss battles were good fun.

Thankfully in this sequel the boss battles are far less annoying which meant I got to see the end, which was nice :-)

The game continues from the previous one, although this time it's Death as the main character. He's trying to save his brother War who is being condemned for his actions in the first game. To save his brother Death must save humanity who have been wiped out by the apocalypse. This leads Death on a quest to find a way to restore mankind.

The story isn't great, but it's well told with some stylish cutscenes and gravelly voices. The game itself is a standard hack and slash affair. Loot gains you more weapons and armour to improve your stats, you can earn experience to level up and gain new abilities. Fairly standard stuff, with some simple platforming thrown in.

In summary it's a solid, if not particularly inspired game, fun to play, but not especially memorable.


Awakened by the End of Days, Death, the most feared of the legendary Four Horsemen embarks on a quest to undo Armageddon. Along the way, the Horseman discovers that there are far worse things than an earthly Apocalypse, and that an ancient grudge may threaten all of Creation. Become the terrifying force which everything fears but nothing can escape. Death Lives in Darksiders II.


Darksiders II is available from Amazon (and it's a fun game)




Film Review - Bullhead

I caught a trailer for the this recently and thought it looked interesting, but to be honest I wasn't expecting much, it turns out I was wrong. This is an excellent film. It's a Belgian film that tells the story of Jacky, a man with a troubled past who is now involved with illegal meat trading (that doesn't sound like much, but it does make for an interesting story). He is always pumped up on steroids and is very violent, in fact it's fair to say that he's not a very likeable character.

It's says a lot for the actor and the story that through the course of the film he gets under your skin. You learn about why he became the way he is. In many ways it's an understated film, a character study of Jacky.

The surrounding cast also do a good job in what is essentially a grim tale, there's some nice visual moments as well, although like the film overall these are done in a subtle, unassuming manner. It's a hard film to pin down, it's a tale of a man and the consequences of his choices, it's not exciting, but it is very interesting and most importantly watchable.


Bullhead is a harrowing tale of revenge, redemption and fate. Domineering cattle farmer Jacky Vanmarsenille (Rust & Bone's Matthias Schoenaerts in a ferocious breakout performance), constantly pumped on steroids and hormones, initiates a shady deal with a notorious mafioso meat trader. When an investigating federal agent is assassinated and a woman from his traumatic past resurfaces, Jacky must confront his demons and face the far-reaching consequences of his decisions.

Acclaimed at festivals worldwide the award-winning Bullhead is visceral saga bursting with rage that TwitchFilm calls “a tremendous accomplishment...one of the most original crime films in recent memory.”

Bullhead is available from Amazon (and is an excellent watch)

September Short Fiction Contest Winners

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Before I announce the winners for September's short fiction contest I'd like to thank everyone who entered. As always the quality of the entries made the task of selecting the winners a difficult if fun one. September's image also sparked a good variety of stories and I'm hoping that October's will do the same.

I've set up a Facebook group for writers and readers of short and flash fiction, so if you'd like to show off your work, or find a new story to read then come and join us here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/shortfictionreadersandwriters/

And now, drum roll please...


  1. First prize of a £50 Amazon gift card goes to Lisa Williamson for her story 'Out of my Window'.
  2. Second prize of a £20 Amazon gift card goes to C. L. Anderson for the story 'KONRAD4'.
  3. Third prize of a £10 Amazon gift card goes to Jon Jefferson for his story 'Watch Dog'.
Congratulations to the winners and now enjoy their stories:

Out of my Window by Lisa Williamson



I sit looking out my window at the blue lights of the city about me.  How things have changed in my life.  Once I looked out my window and it was filled with green and air, wood and animals.  As I grew older first the animals disappeared, feeling from the advance of man.  Then the tree disappeared, taken down to make homes for invading man.  Slow this city grew, from a few buildings to acres of people stacked on top of each other.  

I stayed; I was not sure why I did.  Watching how the land became a town and then a city.  As the years passed those who lived here changed too.  They started out brave and brash, talking loudly as they hid their fear of the unknown but slowly their voices grew quieter as more and more came here.

Now the blue lights of the city block out the lights of the night sky.  The city stopped growing out and started growing up.  The higher in the city you were the better your position but I stayed here, in the place I was when man found my land.  If I wait long enough do you think they might fly away into the sky?

I can only hope it will be so.  For they have covered my land in so much steel and concrete.  It is hard to breath in this bright new world.  They have cut down all my trees, filled my streams and chased away my animals.  Yet I still remain.

I will be here when mankind finally leaves my world.  My fondest wish is that there would be something left for me to nurture; to have something to bring to blossom and return the world to green.



KONRAD4 by C. L. Anderson

She killed me. I lie here, dying, my energy subsiding, looking at the city we had met in, loved in and now died in…

I chose this blue. I designed that building. I created all those little details that make such a difference. And when everything was perfect I opened up my world and let everyone in, including you.

But you were special, my EMILY5.I thought this time it would be real. I brought you into my world, shared my vision with you, unlike the others.

At first we created together, night after night. We built more of our city, filled it with people and places: memories only we shared. I love you EMILY5. I let you in, but you let me out.

Then, the game really began. People took sides. They always do. You gained more and more points- points you would never have had if I had not created them. But still I was so proud of my EMILY5. I watched you grow, and then I watched you grow greedy.

You switch sides. You kill me, but not before I kill you too. So here we both lie now, swimming in a sea of blue light, viewing the world I created it before it all goes black.

Always. The same. Alone.


GAME OVER

Watch Dog by Jon Jefferson

It was never a good idea to go in through a public jack. In a perfect world Simon would have a place with untraceable lines set up so he wouldn't have to do it this way. This wasn't a perfect world and Shelly was paying him to get it done now.

He pulled back the cover on the  underside of his arm. The line popped out and connected to the input on its own. He plugged his deck into the bottom connection and pulled up the home screen. The world around him digitized as he adjusted his ready programs for the hack.

Breaking through the security apps at the cafe were not an issue. They were low grade watchdogs, he didn't need any black ice for them. He sent them chasing their digital tails.

Once you left the confines of the jack-in, the getting around the world was much easier than the average user could know. This was the playground of the hackers.

He grabbed onto a data stream and whisked away to the data base he would need. At least the cafe was near the Brankot Building. They rode on the same data streams. He only needed to hit a repository within the first level of encryption.

He was deep inside the data streams, time worked differently for him than it did for the outside world. It felt like forever for him to find the location he needed. While in the outside world only seconds had passed.

He was digging into the low level stuff so at most he would need a few watch dog apps to take out the locks. No problem really, his kid sister could have done this in her sleep.

As he was working through the third lock, something felt off. If he hadn't been digitized he would have sworn the little hairs on the back of his neck would have gone goose pimply.

The lock melted away. It wasn't his app. The thing melted from the inside out. A black dog chomped through the last of the lock. The thing was still hungry.

You couldn't send these doggies out chasing their tails. This was going to take a bit more work. He pulled up a shielding and fast attack app. He was ready for hand to mutt attack action.

It leapt at him, biting through the bottom of his shield. He struck out as well, taking a chunk out of its shoulder. His shield wasn't going to be much more than extra for the doggie to chew on.

He stepped back, a plan forming. The cyber dog lunged again. This time he was ready. He slammed his shield into the gaping maw forcing it open. He released the shielding into the attack app, then struck underneath the maw and shield into the throat of the problem.

His attack burned it out. The attack app winked out as he went back to the data base to pull up the information he needed.

Murder Drabbles - Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

My latest story in the Murder Drabble series has been posted in the Indie Book Bargains newsletter (if you're not subscribed then you should visit http://www.indie-book-bargains.co.uk/ and sign up, as well as daily Kindle bargains you get a daily drabble), the drabble is also copied below:

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

Penny lay before me, her blood dull in the dim light. The alley was quiet, but all too close traffic moved in the better lit street. The thrill of the murder soared through my veins; with an effort I suppressed the buzz.
This wasn’t the way I’d always dreamt it. Then it was always clean, how the world should be. I felt an unexpected shiver of fear as I carried her body, surprisingly heavy, to my car.
Thankfully I always carry bin liners, just in case of a mess. With them I wrapped up Penny’s body and her bloody dress.

You can read the first drabble in the series here: http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/murder-drabbles.html

Book Impressions - A Child for the Devil by Conrad Jones

In my younger days I enjoyed reading the Satanic cult books by Dennis Wheatley (The Devil Rides Out and so forth), by modern standards they're fairly tame, but the I enjoyed the concept of them and of supernatural evil in general. I still do enjoy reading such tales and A Child for the Devil covers similar ground, but in a modern setting.

The premise is a simple one, Satanic cults are thriving in the internet age and the writer discovers them while researching for his novels. He encounters them personally while assisting in a murder case and becomes a target.

While overall it is a good read, I did have a couple of issues with the book. The first is the lengths it goes to to try and establish itself as real events. While that is part of the style of the story I think it pushed a little too hard in this regard. I'm more than happy to provide a suspension of sibelief for a story, but in the case it struggled because it was making too big a point.

As a counterpoint to that for the most part the research did help ground the story into the world we are familiar with.

The other issue (or to be fair more of a quibble!) was the style of the writing, it's very matter of fact. In fairness that does help ground the story, but does make it a little dry to read. Finally the lead character isn't particuarly likeable, not a major problem as it helps him in the context of the story.

Those minor issues aside this is a fun read. The story works well and is paced nicely. I'm a fan of the subject matter, although it does skirt along the edge of the supernatural element. It will be interesting to see if that angle develops further. Overall I liked it and would recommend it for horror fans.


When Conrad Jones helps the police identify an occultist symbol carved into the chest of a murder victim, he attracts the attention of a Satanic cult who believe themselves to be human vampires. And they want desperately to silence him. Hunted by the cult and by the law, he has no choice but to become the hunter...


A Child for the Devil is available from Amazon (and is a good horror read)


Friday, 27 September 2013

Guest Author Interview - Soumya Vilekar

Welcome to the latest guest author interview and a nice sunny day to boot. In today's interview we welcome poet Soumya Vilekar, you can read what she has to say below:
 
 


Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
I am Soumya Vilekar,at present a housewife,a mother of two kids and a blogger. I am from the field of powder metallurgy and have joint patent in the same. I assist in projects relating to metal powders.

What first inspired you to start writing?
I was in my late teens when I started writing. An entry into a spot poem competition gave me an opportunity to think of my creative side,which was till then neglected.

What is it about poetry that attracts you?
Poetry for me is a form of expression.The beauty lies in how exquisitely and simply you express and touch the heart of the reader.The efficiency of wrapping a whole tale, thought,emotion ,incident or an imagery in few simple words woven with intricacy attracts my soul to poetry.

Which author do you admire most and why?
There have been many favourite authors since childhood,Dickens,Wordsworth,Jane Austen,Rabindrananth Tagore,Keats.P.G.Woodehouse and now Paulo Coelho.Every phase of life brought a fascination for a different genre.

As for now,I dont have any favourite author,for I sometimes read teachings and philosophy of Ramakrsihna Paramhansa,Paramhansa Yogananda and Aurobindo Ghosh.

Where is your happy place?
My sweet home wherever it is on earth.

What is your favourite song lyric?
It is a very old Indian song.I would translate it for you here .

"In the dark night of sadness ,dont anguish your heart my dear,a dawn will have ray of hope,wait for the beautiful morning."

Where do your best ideas come from?
From the aspects of nature. Anything can inspire me to write about it,a scenery ,a touching scene,gentle affection,saddened state of mind,spiritual thinking or any line or phrase form a book or a movie.A thought which is touching gives me idea to write.

What are you working on at the moment?
My 4th poetry book is due to be out in the market by next month.I am currently working on the same ,which going through the proof stage now.It is a poetic journey of a soul on earth which goe s through inner conflicts while striving for survival and seeking for the real happiness.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
You can find out more on the present work of mine here on two links below.My poems are also due on two latest anthologies,one of romantic poems and other of social issues.
The link about my latest book which shall be available on Amazon soon is here.

http://soumyav.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/suroor-of-the-soul-a-reflection/
https://www.facebook.com/SurooroftheSoul

Soroor of the Soul is available from Amazon

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Guest Authors Revisited - Jonathan Mitchell

 I first interviewed Jonathan Mitchell back in March (you can read the original interview here) and I recently caught up with him to see what he's been up to since then, find out more below:


What has changed in your life since we last spoke?
Nothing dramatic, but I've continued to write and am hoping to make available a small collection of stories in 2014.

Have you learnt any new wisdom?
I'm learning that the biggest problem for self-published authors is promotion: there's virtually no way for us to duplicate what even a small press is able to do. You can go the free giveaway route for a day or two, but that really doesn't draw any meaningful attention to your work. People download the book because it's free and...that's it. A few of them might actually read it, but will they give it a positive review or even recommend it to someone else? In most cases, no.

Have you become a better writer? If so, how?
I'm always striving to edit more carefully, so in that respect I think I'm a better writer than I was when I finished my novel, "The Agent".

What are you working on at the moment?
A collection of stories that I call "Escape and Pursuit". Originally I had wanted to release them this summer, but now I'm shooting for January or February of 2014.

Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
My novel is called "The Agent" and it's available at Amazon.com's Kindle Store. It's dark horror with a hard-boiled flavor, and pretty damned good if I must say so myself. And it's dirt cheap!
The Agent is available from Amazon

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Guest Author Interview - Brian Burt

In today's guest author interview we welcome Brian Burt, author of 'Aquarius Rising: In the Tears of God', find out what he has to say below:
 


Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Brian Burt. For my day job, I'm a software engineer who recently joined the ranks of information security. (Depending on who you ask, we InfoSec folks are either the Jedi knights of IT or the Sith lords.) I've written short speculative fiction for years, with more than 20 publications in various magazines, e-zines, and anthologies. My short story, "The Last Indian War," won the L. Ron Hubbard Gold Award (grand prize) in the Writers of the Future contest a while back and was anthologized in "Writers of the Future Volume VIII." To my own shock and elation, I have a wonderful wife and three boys (two teens... ouch... and one 7-year-old who still doesn't think I'm a complete idiot) who tolerate my weird imaginings.

What first inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always loved reading and have read voraciously since I was a kid. I especially enjoyed speculative fiction: SF, fantasy, and horror. I was on an extended IS consulting gig overseas in Dublin, Ireland, for about 18 months when I finally decided to surrender to my secret desire to write stories of my own. Ireland was a wonderful place: beautiful scenery, rich history, an aura of mystery and magic. I guess it inspired me. Unfortunately, it couldn’t make me good: that first short story was fairly awful. But I kept trying, and I did get better, I swear!

What is the last book you have read?
Most recently, I finished the non-fiction book “Eaarth,” by Bill McKibben. It explores the new reality of a planet already significantly altered by the effects of climate change, and how we can take pragmatic steps as a society to “degrade gracefully” as the impacts intensify. It was sobering, and a bit depressing, but a useful wake-up call. Fiction-wise, the most recent books I’ve read were “Hunters of Dune” and “Sandworms of Dune,” because I always wanted to find out how Frank Herbert’s classic series wrapped up in the end.

Where is your happy place?
My home office, where I spend hours in front of this laptop, struggling to create new worlds! But if we’re speaking of that special imaginary place: for me, it would be somewhere deep in a forest, with green growing things all around me, a cool canopy of leaves providing shade, and birds and animals supplying the music.

If you could work with any author, who would it be and why?
Wow - that’s a brutal question, because there are so many great authors whose works have inspired and amazed me. If I have to pick one, I’d say Stephen King. I think he would teach me a lot about the craft of writing, the work ethic of getting words down even when it’s painful, and the art of creating fully fleshed, believable characters that make the reader care about their fates. King’s characters usually strike me as familiar - people I recognize from my own life - and they’re so compelling that I believe the unbelievable supernatural circumstances in which they’re immersed. That’s a remarkable feat for any writer!

What do you find most rewarding about writing?
I think it’s supremely satisfying to play God in the writer’s limited context: to mold a fictional world, populate it with characters, and decide what happens to them. (Although sometimes the characters defy me and strike out on their own.) The ultimate reward is having a reader say “wow, that story was cool,” or “I couldn’t get it out of my head.” That, when it happens, is the ultimate buzz!

And the most challenging?
Pushing through writer’s block at the end of a long, long stint at the day job, when the brain has turned to mush, after the kids have needed help with homework or household chores have consumed most of the evening, and you just want to collapse into unconsciousness. Balancing writing time with family time and “paycheck-earning” time is a complex calculus I’ve never completely mastered.

What are you working on at the moment?
Well, my first novel, “Aquarius Rising: In the Tears of God,” was just released from Double Dragon Publishing. This was intended to be Book 1 of a trilogy, so I’m hard at work on Book 2: “Blood Tide.” Book 3, “The Price of Eden,” is just a loose collection of mental notes, but that will come next. These novels are set on a future Earth ravaged by global warming, and by an attempt to reverse it that went terribly wrong. Human-dolphin hybrids called Aquarians have created underwater reef communities among the drowned human cities along the coasts, and other hybrid humanoids have staked their claim to ecological niches at the boundaries of a hostile, inhospitable planet. The tension and conflict between these subspecies and their “parent” human race drives much of the action.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
“Aquarius Rising: In the Tears of God” is just out from Double Dragon ( http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/single.php?ISBN=1-77115-090-4 ). It’s available from major eBook retailers like Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Sony, as well as in paperback format through Lulu.com. Those who are interested can also freely sample some of my previously published short fiction at http://www.briantburt.com or can learn more on my Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/BrianBurtAuthor ) or Goodreads ( http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2918170.Brian_Burt ) author pages. Visitors are always welcome!

Aquarius Rising: In The Tears of God is available from Amazon

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Film Review - Blade Runner

Blade Runner is one of my favourite films of all time. I re-watch every few months and it's a great watch every time I see it. I love everything about it. The story is interesting and the cast fill their roles superbly. Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer in particular stand out. The only downbeat for me on this front was Leon, but that wasn't a big deal.

The world itself looks great on blu-ray and is still a visual treat. The future world feels authentic and the details pull you in, the opening shot of the city is simply wonderful. All through the film there are little details that add style and interest. It also blends high tech future, with grim reality that is still full of life.

The film's soundtrack is amazing, it suits the film perfectly, it's worth picking up for that alone.

I think it's safe to say that I love this film and if you haven't seen it yet then you owe it to yourself to do so.



To celebrate the 25th anniversary of iconic sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner, director Ridley Scott has gone back into post production to create the long-awaited definitive new version. Blade Runner: The Final Cut is spectacularly restored and remastered from original elements and contains never-before-seen added/extended scenes, added lines, new and improved special effects, director and filmmaker commentary, an all-new digital audio track and more.


Blade Runner is available from Amazon (and is a must watch)











Guest Authors Revisited - Elizabeth Rose

I first interviewed Elizabeth Rose back in March (you can read the original interview here), I recently caught up with her to see what she's been up to since then, you can find out below:


What has changed in your life since we last spoke?
What has changed... well, I'm now of legal drinking age in the continental U.S., that's a new thing. I'm no longer a minor of any kind writing. We'll see if that impacts anything, or if I've simply remained a child in everything but legality... 'Till the Last Petal Falls has passed its first sales quarter, and is now available in paperback and ebook, as well as from a couple of brick-and-mortar independent bookstores. I've also taken up working as a nanny in my spare time, on top of my continued writing projects and finishing up my last semester of college. I graduate here in December.

Have you learnt any new wisdom?
I've learnt what it really means to be an author, versus being a writer. This isn't to say that I've personally really reached 'author' status, but I know what steps I need to take to get there. I've also been participating in a lot of feedback-swaps in my writing, so I'm truly beginning to understand what I can bring to the table as an individual author, rather than just what I think is interesting at the time. My work is slowly evolving, and I really like it.

Have you become a better writer? If so, how?
I believe I have, though it all kind of happened on accident or through natural process. Some of the changes have come from me looking through discussions on blogs that pertained to what I had been writing about- depictions of women and domestic violence in fiction- and then through intersectionality in those discussions was drawn into discussions of cultural appropriation, media representation, and finding an anchor and purpose for one's own writing. Which isn't to say I've fully settled on what my own writing is all about- but I'm at least on the way to finding it. I also think I've been making more steps to making my work more accessible, while also attempting to take into account a lot of the issues of modern media representation in fiction by trying to lessen or eliminate it in my coming drafts. Others have come through the process of having my first novel reviewed- it's currently sitting at an average of 4.7 stars, which has been a huge relief, but even in the positive reviews I've been able to catch and put in my head recurring patterns of what isn't working for my readers, which I hope to incorporate into future works.

What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, I've finished the second installment of my Once Upon a Reality series, which focuses on Sleeping Beauty, and have submitted it to see if its worthy of publication. I'm also working on a short novella currently titled 'Good Women', which follows three women from their teenage year to the birth of the first daughter in their friend group, focusing on what kind of friendship can be had with friends that society may consider to be 'bad'.

Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more
After my first novel, 'Till the Last Petal Falls', which is the first installment of my Once Upon A Reality series where I re-tell Beauty and the Beast with a dark, modern twist, I published two short stories. The first, 'Wanakufa', is a fictional memoir of a young girl dying of typhoid in Kenya in the twentieth century. It can be found at www.electiopublishing.com, available for electronic download for .99. The second, due for publication September 15th, highlights a crisis of faith experienced by a young girl in the midst of a theological discussion at college, and is titled 'He Who Wrestles With God'. It will be available to be read for free at http://hirschworth.com/ from its publication date, on. The novel, and all of my other work, can always be found at www.thesingingroses.com.

Film Review - The Blair Witch Project

I remember watching this when it first came out and not being greatly impressed. It wasn't a bad film by any means, but it didn't match up to the hype surrounding it's release. I thought I'd give it another watch and I'll confess that I enjoyed it more this time round.

That's not say that it's a great film, far from it, but it is a solid horror movie that makes good use of very little. It's biggest strength for me is that it relies more on atmosphere and building the feeling of tension rather than shocks or cheap camera tricks.

The lost footage format has been used many times since, but what The Blair Witch Project gets right compared to most of these later films is that it feels authentic, most films of a similar vein had obviously higher production values that fight with the raw footage concept.

The film's story is a simple one, local legend tells of a witch that haunts the forest. A team of young film makers head into the woods to film a documentary about the legend. The story progresses at a slow pace, it teases at the presence in the woods and most of the film is simply the crews' reactions to these clues. It does however build pace to an abrupt and slightly enigmatic ending.

Much has been made of the film's very low budget and while it shows it doesn't really harm the film. In part it aids the authentic feel of the film, it also forces the film makers to get a lot from very little, which they do manage to achieve.

So while the story isn't particularly new, the format was reasonably so (for its time) and it still stands as a decent horror watch.



This cult movie took the world by storm in 1999, grossing over $200 million dollars despite an original budget of just $30,000. In Burkittsville, in the year 1994, three students - Heather (Heather Donahue), Josh (Joshua Leonard) and Michael (Michael Williams) - head into the woods to investigate the local legend of the Blair Witch, a spirit blamed for the deaths of various children. However, soon after setting out, the trio run into trouble...


Book Impressions - My Granny Writes Erotica by Rosen Trevithick

I've read a few of this author's books before and they have always entertained, she does humour very well, but this latest title from her is the best yet. It even had me laughing out loud, which is rare for me!

The story concerns a grandmother called Betty, she has been writing her romance book for many years and has been constantly rejected. At the same time her marriage crumbles leaving her in severe debt with her mother-in-law, her daughter and her granddaughter to look after. She needs money desperately and hits upon the idea of writing an erotic novel for some quick money.

Naturally things don't go quite as expected and from that premise hilarity ensues. This is a very funny book, Betty's exploration in  to hardcore BDSM is brilliantly done. The mother-in-law's occasional appearance also spices things up and the early scene with her and a bruiser was my first big chuckle of the story.

As with some of the author's other stories it pokes some fun at writers and publishing, although there's humour throughout it's also a solid story. As ever the writing is well constructed and flows nicely, making this a quick, but excellent read.

I'm pleased to hear that there will be a sequel, so I'll be looking out for that.


“Where on God's green earth am I going to raise that sort of money? I’m a pensioner!” thought Betty. Then her eyes fell on her daughter’s copy of Fifty Shades of Grey.

65-year-old Betty had given up on her life’s ambition to write a bestselling novel. However, after walking in on her husband with a lady of the night, she finds herself single and with mounting debts. In need of a ‘get rich quick’ scheme, straight-laced Betty decides to try her hand at writing an erotic novel.

With little experience in matters of the libido, Betty finds herself ill-equipped to pursue her goal. So she sets out to acquire carnal knowledge without arousing the suspicions of her prudish friends and uptight family.

When her embittered mother-in-law finds a butt plug in the slow cooker, it seems like the game is up. Will Betty be able to prevent bankruptcy with her salacious prose before her source of income is exposed?

My Granny Writes Erotica is available from Amazon (and is a hilarious read!)

Monday, 23 September 2013

Book Impressions - 100 One Hundred Word Tales by Jonathan Hill

Anyone who knows me knows the I love drabbles, if you don't know what drabbles are then they are a form of short fiction that are exactly 100 words long (not including the title). What makes them fun is that they are a bite-size story that can be enjoyed in those little gaps in the day. They also present a good challenge for writers trying to make a story coherent and interesting in so few words.

In this latest book by Jonathan Hill he presents 100 drabbles and they come in all kinds of flavours, many are dark, many are funny and many are both. I've read the author's drabbles on various sites, so when he announced that he was writing a book full of them I was immediately interested and I'm pleased to say that I wasn't dissapointed.

He is a master of the form, many of the finest drabbles are structured like a good job, they set you up and then twist the tale right at the end. There are some fine examples of this in the book, there's also some fun themes throughout with some of the drabbles forming a series. And for fans of Maureen, she makes a few appearences as well.

Overall this is a fun and quick read, you can read them all at once as I did, or dip in and out when you feel like it. I'm pleased that the drabble form is growing in popularity and this book should certainly help with that cause.

 
Welcome to the wonderful world of drabbles!

A drabble is a piece of writing precisely 100 words long. A challenge to write, but fun to read, they often tell a tale with a twist or encapsulate an idea or emotion.

In this collection, perfect for dipping into in a spare moment, you'll experience the full gamut of emotions, amusing and shocking twists, several mini-series of drabbles, and a surprise or two along the way.

And, true to drabble rules, everything in the book is exactly one hundred words in length, from the stories themselves to the foreword and this blurb!

A flavour of what's inside:

The Understudy

Night after night after night for six weeks I had played the silent shopkeeper. I knew the lead role inside out, back to front, and upside-down. Yet the leading actor, so sickeningly good in the role, seemed resistant to any form of ill health or injury.
His face was a picture when he walked into his dressing room and saw me standing there in his Act One clothes.
"What the...?"
"I thought you were indisposed this evening," I clarified.
"Why would you think that?"
I didn't give him the chance to even glimpse the knife before it penetrated his abdomen.

Jump

I stand high on the motorway bridge, watching the cars speeding to and from work. I am taken back to my childhood and I see myself standing over my play-mat, toy cars spread out at my feet. I think of family and friends as I sway in the wind. I can hear sirens. And now I can see flashes of blue. For just a second, I myself consider jumping, unable to process what I have just witnessed. I look down again, see the dark unmoving shape at the side of the road. I hadn't been able to talk him down.

A Young Man's Concern

I inspect myself in the mirror, checking for blemishes and admiring the bulges beneath my tanned arms. My smile fades as the niggling thought resurfaces. What if 'it' happens? But they're waiting; no backing out now. I quickly adjust my hair (as if that's what they'll be looking at!) before dropping my boxer shorts.
I enter the room and breathe a relieved sigh, for the wrinkled faces that peer round easels belong to bodies at least thrice my age. I assume my position, safe in the knowledge that my blood supply will not be taking any unwanted diversions this afternoon.


100 One Hundred Word Tales is available from Amazon (and is a great read)

Guest Author Interview - Jeff Kern

Welcome to the start of a new week and a new guest author interview. Normally I only interview fiction authors, but today we have a rare exception and soemthing for all golfing enthusiasts. We meet Jeff Kern, author of “Golf Made Easy! A Backward approach to Learning Golf..... Or Is It?”. 

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Hello, my name is Jeff Kern. I am an author and a professional golf instructor as well as a certified club fitter.

Why golf?
I have been playing golf all of my life. It’s something I know a lot about.

What inspired you to write a book about golf?
For most of my golfing years I was very confused. Yes, I played the game but I never really knew if I was doing things right or not. Everyone that I talked to always had a different opinion as to what was right and wrong and what was good and bad. Now that I have a much greater command of the game, I wanted to stop the confusion and make the learning process as simple and enjoyable as possible.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
General Douglas MacArthur because I would want to pick his brain about military operations during his time.

Where is your happy place?
Either on a lush green golf course playing a round or on a quiet sandy beach over looking the cool blue water sipping on a cold drink.

What was the last book you read?
The Golfing Good Life: Golf Instruction for Golfers over 50.

Who is your favourite author?
Stephen Leather. His book “Private Dancer” was unbelievably real and true to life in Thailand.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on another golf book I will call “Breaking Par! Tips on improving your game”. I hope to have it out by late next year.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
My current book is called “Golf Made Easy! A Backward approach to Learning Golf..... Or Is It?”. It provides you with everything you need to know to get started in the game. It is presented in a backwards fashion meaning that putting is taught first and driving last. Once you have the basics down it gives instruction on special shots, club fitting, and some rules of the game. It’s fun, it’s easy and every one can learn something! You can find our more at my author website http://sbpra.com/JeffreyWKern or my amazon author website http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00CU56SOK. Happy reading!

A Backward Approach to Learning Golf is available from Amazon

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Film Review - Compliance

This is a weird film, it's based on true events (apparently) and explores how people will blindly obey authority. It's not a bad idea and starts with the manageress of a small fast food restaurant receiving a phone call from a police officer who explains that one of her staff has committed a crime. From that point he issues a series of quite frankly absurd  instructions which the manageress and some of the staff comply with.

I can't fault the film as such, the cast do a good job with what they have. It tells the story well and effectively, however the real problem is the stupidity of it. It's hard to comprehend how ridiculous the events are. Anyone with any sense wouldn't have obeyed if the policeman had been stood in front of them, let alone an unidentified voice over the phone.

So the film is fine, but I ended up shouting at the screen at the stupidity of it, so for your own sake I'd give this a miss, unless of course you like watching stupid people doing stupid things for no sensible reason.


Based on over 70 incidents that took place in the USA, Compliance recounts this chilling true story in which the line between obedience and manipulation is hauntingly blurred.

On a particularly busy day at a Ohio fast food joint, high-strung manager Sandra (Ann Dowd - Garden State) receives a phone call from a police officer, informing her that an employee, a pretty young blonde named Becky (Dreama Walker of Gossip Girl & The Good Wife) has stolen money from a customer.

Convinced she's only doing what's right, Sandra commences the investigation, following instructions from the officer at the other end of the line, no matter how invasive they become. As we watch, we ask ourselves two questions: “Why don’t they just say no?” and the more troubling, "Am I certain I wouldn't do the same?"

The cast delivers startlingly authentic performances that make the appalling events unfolding onscreen all the more difficult to watch – but impossible to turn away from.

Guest Post - Welcome to the World of Screenwriting by Dustin Stevens


Like most authors, I like to believe I started writing somewhere close to the time I took my first steps. My infantile form may have not been able to put together a coherent sentence audibly, but that doesn’t stop the mind from envisioning my three year old self seated at a Playskool typewriter pounding out my first epic.

For almost three decades that was exactly the approach I took, my pint-sized body growing with each new iteration, but the same end product being the same. Sit at a desk/table/bench, laptop in place, pecking away at something between three and five hundred pages long. Sixty and one hundred thousand words. Plenty of time and space to depict just the right setting, to give my characters all the room they needed to follow their prescribed arc, to bring a full resolution to the reader.

It wasn’t until just this past year that a number of readers said my writing had a very “visual” style to it, and that I should take a stab at a screenplay. My first reaction to this was complete agreement. The spring is very busy-time for me in my day job, so the thought of a project that was “only” 120 pages and contained a “mere” twenty-five thousand words seemed appealing. After all, writing is writing, right?

Wrong. On no uncertain terms…wrong.

There are a number of reasons why trying to convert years of a mindset in a short period of time was less than optimal, but for me three big differences emerged. These are in no particular order, each one as challenging as the others.

1.) Length

As mentioned above, my first reaction to writing a screenplay was that it is essentially a third of a novel. There would be no rut experience around the 150-page mark, because unless you are an Oscar winner like Quentin Tarantino, you don’t get to write 150-page screenplays. You get somewhere between 90 and 120, the shorter the better for first-timers.

This was going to be easy.

My first two passes both ended up scrapped entirely. Most screenwriting manuals state that the problem needs to be laid out in the first ten pages, the quest for resolution within the first twenty-five. Most authors have just finished their first chapter by the twenty-five page mark. On both occasions and I realized that I was still fleshing out characters for the first thirty pages, wanting the audience to know exactly who they were dealing with.

As a newbie, I was forgetting two very important points. One, that the visual is far more powerful than the writing for establishing a character. Second, and perhaps more importantly, I didn’t have that kind of space to use fleshing out the groundwork. I just had to plunge forward and trust that audience would accept the world I created and come along for the ride.

2.) Narrative

Writing narrative is something every novelist is intimately familiar with. Whether it be depicting a scene or establishing a character’s back story, it is a necessary element to most every book. No reader wants to sit through hundreds of pages of characters telling them every detail. They want to be immersed in a world, absorbing what they find.

There is no opportunity to do such a thing in a screenplay. All narrative is confined to a small paragraph that sets each scene, the golden rule being never more than four sentences, preferably no more than three. Anything that happens thereafter is left up to the interaction of the characters.
That leads me to the third point…

3.) Editing

There are two very different types of editing in this world. The first is rewriting/proofreading. As many who write full well know, this is the most common in the literary world. There are always going to be ideas that don’t work or scenes that drag to long and need to be cut done, but for the most part, editing is meant to be more shaping than cutting.

This is possible because, to bring it full circle, there are no space limitations on a novel.

In a screenplay, this isn’t so. The first draft I did of my most recent screenplay was 170 pages long. By the time I was ready to start submitting to film festivals, it was down to 117 pages. That’s almost a full one-third of a story cut away. Further consider that almost none of that being tossed aside is expository. There is precious little narrative throughout, meaning that everything being chopped is scenes.

Try asking most novelists to go back and remove a third of the scenes in their novel. They’ll think you are crazy and demand to know how they are supposed to tell their story.

To them you can smile and say, “Welcome to the world of screenwriting.”

Dustin Stevens is the author of 21 Hours:


Felix "O" O'Connor is an ex-con from central Ohio that has spent the seven years since being released from prison working on a ranch in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Rarely does he venture out into the world and never does it come looking for him. Both of those things change when his twin sister Alexa "Lex" Borden calls from Columbus, Ohio to ask for his help.

Earlier that afternoon, she and her husband were both beaten unconscious and their two year old daughter abducted from their front yard. Nobody saw a thing, the police are stumped, and it is a well known statistic that if a child isn't found in the first 48 hours, they rarely are.

O immediately drives back to Ohio and finds himself with just 21 hours to find his beloved niece before potentially losing her forever. Plunging himself into a world he'd long ago left behind, he crosses paths with criminal masterminds, human traffickers, gun runners, drug smugglers, blood-thirsty spectators and suspicious detectives all in the name of bringing her home.


Other books by Dustin Stevens:


Film Review - Iron Man 3

I enjoyed the previous two films and this proved no exception. It's no classic, but it is a fun watch. In this film it's not just Tony Stark who's been tinkering, he's up against someone who has been conducting his own experiments. The principal bad guy is terrorist seemingly with the ability to strike anywhere, including Stark's home when he brashly issues a challenge on live TV.

Stark shows a bit more of a human side in this film, revealing a few flaws, nothing too dramatic, but it just adds another dimension to the film. As with the previous films Stark is the star of the show, he's funny, but nothing we haven't seen before.

The bad guy is ok, solid enough but again nothing that really stands out. A fun watch for a couple of hours but nothing more.


Marvel Studios' Iron Man 3 pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy's hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: Does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man? Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale with Jon Favreau and Ben Kingsley, Iron Man 3 is directed by Shane Black from a screenplay by Drew Pearce and Shane Black


Iron Man 3 is available from Amazon (and it's a fun watch)





October Short Fiction Contest

Welcome to the latest monthly short fiction writing competition here on The Cult of Me. Every month I post a new picture and you can then write and submit a short story (with a maximum word count of 500 words). At the end of the month I will pick the winners and announce them on this blog.

The winner's stories will be available here (and promoted across KUF, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook and Stumbleupon and anywhere else I can) and you'll also have a link to your blog or website displayed alongside your story if you win.

Winning stories will also be compiled in a collection later in the year, proceeds from the sales of that collection will be used to help fund the prizes for this competition.

The winners will also receive an Amazon gift card:
  1. First Prize is a £50 gift card
  2. Second prize is a £20 gift card
  3. Third prize is a £10 gift card
Details on how you can enter are provided below and I'm looking forward to reading your entries!

Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
With Halloween only a few weeks away and perfectly timed for the end of this month's contest it was tempting to pick a traditional Halloween style, but where's the fun in that! Although you still have something spooky to play with I think that there's more scope for a variety of interesting stories and I'm already looking forward to reading the entries.

I'd like to thank everyone who entered September's short fiction contest, I'll reveal the winning stories next weekend.

Please make sure to check your story for typos before submitting. I don't mind a few errors, but my enjoyment of a story is diminished if I have to wade through too many.

I'll post the winning entries by November 1st 2013.

As with everything in life there are a few rules:
  1. Only one entry per person.
  2. The story must not be longer than 500 words.
  3. Closing date for submissions is October 20th 2013.
  4. By submitting the story you grant me a non-exclusive license to use it. I'll only post the winning entries.
  5. You also grant me a one time non-exclusive license to include the story in an e-book release.
  6. The judges decision is final.
Use the form below to enter your submission. After you've submitted please leave a comment on this page stating that you have submitted. And please help spread the word. I'm working to make this a regular feature so I need readers for the stories as well as entrants.

OCTOBER'S SHORT FICTION IS NOW CLOSED, SEE THE LINK IN TOP RIGHT OF THE PAGE FOR THE LATEST CONTEST.
 
As well as comments section below you can chat about this competion in any of the threads I've listed below. If you don't know the sites then entering the competition is a good way to introduce yourself. Note that these sites are not affiliated with the competition in any way!

KUF: http://www.kuforum.co.uk/kindleusersforum/thread-13760.html

Goodreads (UK Amazon kindle Forum group): http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/977021-michael-brookes-horror-science-fiction

Kboards: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,152168.0.html

If you've started you're own thread or discussion somewhere about this month's competition then let me know and I'll add the link to this page.

Book Impressions - War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

War of the Worlds should need no introduction, it is one of the classic science fiction stories of all time. It's been many years since I last read it and I'm pleased to report that it remains as good a read as I remembered it.

For those of you that don't know War of the Worlds is the alien invasion story, it takes place at the height of Victorian Britain. At the time it was the most powerful force on the planet when capsules from Mars arrive one by one across the country.

These aliens have come from Mars, their world is dying and they need a new world to live on. They invade the land and consume the people as food. The story concerns a solitary man trying to survive the invasion and find his wife again.

The story more than stands the test of time, it flows with economy and brilliant insight. For its time it was revolutionary, but even now where it has been imitated so many times it still stands out. The story is at times moving and others terrifying and the writing, while obviously not modern it still a great read.

One small part that fascinates me about the style is the assumption that you know the places and times that you are taken to. Of course that makes sense because he's writing for the people of his time, but reading it now, because he's not describing every detail, it makes you feel familiar, as if part of the tale, not just an observer.

This is a great story, a classic novel and if you haven't read it then you really should.



The chilling novel account of a Martian invasion of London in the nineteenth century—a science fiction classic for all time.

The War of the Worlds inspired the international bestseller The Map of the Sky by FĂ©lix J. Palma. As a gift to our readers, we are including an excerpt of The Map of the Sky in this eBook edition.


War of the Worlds is available from Amazon (and is a must read and this edition is free so you have no excuse!)






Film Review - Cargo

This is a rather excellent German science fiction film. The world has become uninhabitable through ecological failure, humanity has escaped into orbit and lives in overcrowded space stations. Their only escape is the new colony on Rhea, a planet paradise. Travel to this colony is expansive so a young daughter desperate to rejoin her family signs up for an 8 year voyage hauling cargo to the colony. On her solitary shift on the ship she thinks that she's not alone and discovers that what they are transporting isn't what they thought.

The film opens with a glorious shot of the space station in Earth orbit, a veritable city in space. It's a wonderful opening sequence and while the rest of the film has a more claustrophobic feel it certainly drags you in to the world it creates.

It also does a good job of the voyage, the life aboard ship is lonely and stressful, but doesn't drag too long before the story gets going. From that point it builds with some effective tension, the audio design adds to the atmosphere, in fact it reminded me of Dead Space in that respect.

For me there were only minor issues with the film, first and foremost was while the future tech looked good, it also lacked a practical aspect that jars slightly. Not a big issue, but hard sci-fi buffs will notice it.

Overall though it is an excellent watch, one I'm happy to recommend.




2267 and Earth has become almost uninhabitable due to environmental deterioration. The human race now populates overcrowded space stations orbiting the planet, whilst dreaming of being able to afford the trip to live on the paradise-like planet Rhea. Desperate to raise the money for the trip so she can reunite with her family Dr Laura Portmann (Anna-Katherine Schwabroh) signs up for a job aboard the cargo ship Kassandra, on an 8 year trip to a space station in Rhea’s orbit. On board, each crew member spends much of the voyage in hibernation, each waking for a solitary 8 month shift monitoring the ships operations. Nearing the end of her vigil, Laura begins to suspect she may be being watched, and hearing sounds from within the hold of the ship. Along with security chief Samuel Decker (Martin Rapold) she awakens the captain and the rest of the crew to investigate the dark recesses of the cargo bay. Gruesome discoveries are soon made and fractures appear in the crew’s relationships, then Laura and Decker uncover Kassandra’s true destination and what secret cargo she carries…. Compelling, artistic and chilling, Cargo was the closing film of the 2010 Sci-Fi London Film Festival.


Saturday, 21 September 2013

Happy First Birthday for Drabbles on Indie Book Bargains!

Drabbles – I love them!

Anyone familiar with my blog or the Indie Book Bargains newsletter will know that I love drabbles. I love reading them and even more I love writing them.

For those of you that don’t know what a drabble is it’s a form of short fiction, a story that is exactly 100 words long (not including the title). This makes them not only a quick read, perfect for filling those little gaps in the day, but also an excellent writing challenge. Fitting a story into that exact number of words forces you to make good use of every available word.

The precise count also means you have to keep crafting the story so that it fits and that constant rework helps strengthen the story that you’re telling.

One aspect that stands out in many drabbles is the twist, like a good joke the drabble sets up the scene and then spins the ending round on you. Often it shocks, often is amuses, but it always stands out!

I first encountered the drabble form when a year ago Rosen Trevithick introduced them in her Indie Book Bargains newsletter. She posted a thread on KUF and challenged the writers there to write a drabble and she would post the ones she liked. It looked like a fun idea so I gave it a go, here is that first drabble I wrote:

Don't turn around
I felt its breath, chill against my neck. I knew what stood behind me. Only on this night it possessed the power to achieve its justice. I must not look at it. only in its sight could it harm me.

I walked forwards along the cobbled street. If only I could reach the village church I’d be safe for another year, until the return of this dread date.

Its footsteps echoed mine as I walked, my gaze kept low. I stumbled, looked up and caught the reflection in the window. Too late I tried to avert my gaze.

Too late.


That first drabble is still one of my favourites and since then I have written many more. In fact I’m currently the most prolific drabblist on the Indie Book Bargains website, although I think that crown will soon be challenged as there are now many other keen drabblists.

You can read more of my drabbles on my various drabble pages:
So Happy First Birthday to the drabble on the Indie Book Bargains newsletter and may many people continue to enjoy the form for many years to come!
Books with drabbles on Amazon

My Books on Goodreads