Thursday, 29 May 2014

ABC Drabbles of Death - E is for Eviscerate



We continue the macabre journey through the alphabet with the latest in the ABC Drabbles of Death series. This week we reach the letter 'E' and while it's an obvious choice it was a lot of fun to write! If you haven't read the previous drabbles in the series then you can read them all here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/welcome-to-first-drabble-in-my-new.html

If you hunger for more short stories or flash fiction then I know just the place - come and join the dediacted Facebook group only a click away:

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

And now it's time to see what people are made of...

E is for Eviscerate

These days I prefer to use a hook. I started with a knife and that works fine. Too easy for my taste, I like there to be some skill. A hook takes more effort, a good swing to get it in, and then a yank to pull everything out.

There’s a knack to not nicking the bowels on the way in, not a pleasant smell if you do I can tell you!

The highlight for me is watching them weep and try to stuff everything back in. How it all ever fit inside is a wonder if you ask me.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Blog Shout Out - Alternate Hellos

In this week's blog shout we take a trip to C. S. Bailey's blog 'Alternate Hellos', discover more about this blog below:



So there I was checking KUF one morning when I came across an article about the reach of pages on Facebook. New to the scene and late to the party, it would seem my authors page was doomed before it had chance to grow. Despite my haste in releasing my books in three parts, an acquaintance recommended I have a website built. Luckily for me, that same acquaintance built websites for a living. So 1. I also read that authors have no chance without a website and 2. Said acquaintance suggested I get a blog to keep people updated.

So as my website was being built, I started looking at blogs, it basically seemed like an online diary to me but a perfectly apt tool for keeping people up to date. Being in it's baby stages still, I've found much to my surprise that I actually enjoy blogging. I've promised not to use it only as a PR tool, but to keep it entertaining and I've had quite a few views already. My most popular post being confrontation of my heights phobia.

My favourite post so far has got to be the unofficial Maybe, misery soundtrack. Purely because music helped me write the story, set the scenes in my head and I've been given the chance to share it with everybody... hopefully without being sued, I'm not up to date with the copyright laws for creating your own (UNOFFICIAL) soundtrack.

http://maybemisery87.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/the-unofficial-maybe-misery-soundtrack.html

Hopefully in the future I'll manage to keep it entertaining and I'm hoping to get an interview soon. Though I still consider myself an aspiring author, I think it would give people a chance to increase their understanding of what type of person I am, not just my digital self. I try to update my blog at least every three days or whenever I have something to say... And being heavily opinionated, that happens a lot.

Once I've have Maybe, misery line edited and release it full. I'll feel proud to calm myself a self-published author and I can only hope that this wondrous journey of learning new things and meeting new people continues... Unless I do get sued and end up in jail.

Book Impressions - The Wilds by Kit Tinsley

I'd enjoyed the author's previous two books, so I was looking forward to reading his latest and I'm pleased to report that it's another good horror read. It's a creature horror set in darkest Lincolnshire . Now all too often in these types of story the monster is revealed early and so loses the impact of the reveal. Here the mystery is maintained through most of the book and I appreciated being able to keep guessing until near the end. Not only did it maintain the suspense it was also a novel reveal.

The rural setting is used to good effect, although I do feel that more could have been made of the locals themselves. The conflict between the reporter and the detective believed to be covering up what's going on, but it feels a bit isolated. More could have been made of the local perspective on the disappearances. That's a relatively minor quibble though, the pacing is good and the author's style works well. The horror is mostly visceral, but there's some tense moments as well.

The ending is good and as I've said I enjoyed the reveal. There's obviously more story to tell, so I'm looking forward to a sequel. All in all a good horror story, well worth checking out.


Something is roaming the countryside, and people are vanishing.

When his older brother disappears, Karl Morgan returns to the sleepy town of his youth, desperate for answers. He meets local reporter, Jason Flynn, who is convinced that there is a wild big cat at large in the fields and woods around the town. Karl and Jason set off to investigate the disappearances and the legendary 'Darton Beast'.

Standing in their way is D.C.I Jon Pearce a man willing to keep secrets and break the rules for the greater good. Pearce blames Flynn for ruining his career and will do anything he can to discredit him.

As Karl and Jason get closer to the truth, the stakes become higher. Will they discover the big cat, or something far worse?

Horror and suspense combine in a climax that will answer the most important question, who will survive The Wilds?

Click here to purchase The Wilds from Amazon (and it's a good horror read)

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Tuesday Tease - Visitor in Lunacy by Stephen Curran

A delight for horror fans this week, especially those who like their horror set in Victorian times and enjoy a fresh take on the Dracula story. Stephen Curran provides an excerpt from his novel 'Visitor in Lunacy', I've already read this and can tell you that it's an excellent read, you can see my review here.


Click on image to purchase from Amazon

WHEN I woke it appeared to be morning. The fog had thinned and one or two factory workers were moving about. I had been sleeping on my feet - something to which I had quickly grown accustomed - my shoulder propped against the alley wall and brick dust dirtying my disarranged coat. Attempting to straighten myself I was forced to sit on the ground, having lost strength in my legs. With my uninjured hand I wiped the dust away and rested my head on the loose water pipe running down the side of the building.

I was angry I had allowed myself to drift into unconsciousness for what must have been at least an hour. It had been my wish to dispense with sleep altogether but my body betrayed me and made it impossible. The best I could do was nap as sparingly and as lightly as possible. Because of my night terrors I had been living on precious little rest for months now, so I felt confident I could survive on four hours a day. I divided my sleep into segments, as best I could. Twenty minutes every two hours. This duration seemed ideal, long enough to provide quietus but too short for anything but the shallowest slumber. It was my hope that any significant noises - the red door opening, the sound of Elise's voice - would pull me back into wakefulness. Was it possible the young nanny had left the house while I was insensible? An undisciplined moment may have caused me to squander my last chance to spark up the relationship with her that I so fiercely desired. My stomach turning at this notion I pulled myself to my feet, striking a pose that suggested alertness in the hope of encouraging it. I could not allow myself to be so reckless again.

It is impossible to give an accurate account of my extended stay in the alleyway. Whether I was there for a week, or two weeks, or simply a matter of days, I cannot say. No memory of this period is certain and my recollection has no sequence, as if it all happened at once. Despite the inhospitable conditions it was not an entirely unhappy time. I found some pleasure in the protracted nature of the task, the feat of endurance. I was unburdened by society, my only concern being the continuation of the watch. I existed in a strange place, beyond ordinary human concerns, where the only markers were the occasional need to eat, sleep and excrete.

For much of the time I gave no thought to food. I even believed I could survive without it, finding my nourishment from sunlight alone. Sometimes, however, I became so gripped by hunger my whole body shook. I saw everything in double, fluctuating colours floated before my eyes and a terrifying pain tore through my belly. I retched but was unable to vomit, convinced I was dying. These pangs, though, never failed to pass and my vigilance returned.

I did not go completely without sustenance. The small amount of money I had on my person was enough to purchase a pot of jam and two loaves of bread on my first morning, from a small grocer at the end of the road. Having no knife to use I tore pieces off the loaves and spread the jam using the fingers of my good hand. The first portions were eaten quickly but later I learnt to ration them, consuming only a bite or two at a time. Once the bread had been finished I ate the jam on its own, scooping it from the bottom of the jar and getting blackberry seeds lodged uncomfortably beneath my fingernails. My body stopped producing stools. I urinated thickly and odorously behind the pipe.

All this time I thought about the man who had answered the door to the two women. Even though I had not seen his face I fancied I could picture it, and I hated it, hated him. Doubtless he would have no appreciation of how fortunate he was to be in his position, in the company of a person as special as Elise. I wondered if, perhaps, he should be reminded of this somehow. I wondered if he should be taught a lesson.

At night, when the street was empty, I was confident enough to stand at the alley's entrance. In hours of concourse I stepped into the shadows. Blocking the pedestrians from my consciousness I focussed only on the door.

I perceived my surroundings with greater acuity than I ever believed might be possible. The small world I had created rushed in on me with luminous clarity: the fantastic and multitudinous hues of the fog and the shafts of light which glanced through it; the tiniest details of the red bricks. It was as if my eyes had never fully opened before. A veil had been lifted.

With no means to clean the dressing around my hand it inevitably became infected. The wound prickled and suppurated. Ants crawled about the lint. Picking them off, I swallowed them for nourishment.

When it rained I sat on the ground and huddled behind the loose pipe, my frock coat pulled over my head…

… A drainage grill. The hard ground.

At the far end of the passage, a black dog with its tail docked. It is watching me...

Sunshine reflecting brilliantly from puddles...

...I have suffered enough. No more now.

The sound of fingers snapping or a tongue being clicked. I am not alone. Someone takes me in their arms. I rest my weight against the old man, rubbing my cheek against his silk coat. His smell is familiar, like woodland undergrowth after a storm.

Long fingernails trace a line across my forehead and down my cheek. Gently, my lips are parted.

Black silk, wet soil, the rich odour of his breath.

Click here to purchase Visitor in Lunacy from Amazon (and it's an excellent read)

About the Author:

My name is Stephen Curran and I am writer, currently living in York.

I started writing Visitor in Lunacy at some time around 2002. After finishing the first part I put it in a drawer, where it remained for ten years. Parts two, three and four were written in 2012. It is, in part, a homage to Victorian ghost stories - and is composed in a voice which I hope is reminiscent of that era – but I wanted it to read like a ghost story that has been left out in the rain: one that has become buckled and warped and hard to decipher. It is the story of Renfield, but not necessarily the Renfield you might know from Bram Stoker's Dracula.

I have three more books in the pipeline: a character study set in a catherdral, a modern take on Les Enfants Terribles, and a SF adventure partly set in the 1980s. Which one pops out first is anyone's guess.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Murder Drabbles - Keeping the Story Straight


The latest in the Murder Drabbles series has been posted in the Indie Book Bargains newsletter (you can sign up for the newsletter here: http://www.indie-book-bargains.co.uk). If you've missed the previous drabbles (a drabble is a story that is exactly 100 words long) then you can read them all here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/murder-drabbles.html

Keeping the Story Straight

The two detectives questioned me all afternoon, my earlier evasiveness had caught their attention so now I had to placate them with truth.

I told them I’d been in the park, but I hadn’t seen anything and that I hadn’t said anything because I hadn’t known about the murder. I think the fat one intuited that I wasn’t saying everything, but I stuck to my story and without evidence they couldn’t hold me.

Eventually they let me go, that wouldn’t be the end, so I would have to be much more careful the next time I indulged in my delights.

Guest Author Interview - Therin Knite

Science-fiction author Therin Knite joins me in today's guest author interview, discover more about him and his writing below:


Click on image to purchase from Amazon

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Hi! I'm Therin Knite, and I like to think myself a sci-fi author of sorts. I majored in Finance and English at a little college in Virginia, and I have job lined up near D.C. that should start this summer, which I suppose will be my "day job." So, I suppose I'm a "standard" writer, if there is such a thing.

What first inspired you to start writing?
Hah. I was sitting in a sweltering attic at my first ever summer job in high school, bored out of my mind, and suddenly...I had an epic story idea. So I started writing. And I have been ever since.

And what attracted you to science fiction?
A lot of science fiction concerns the possibilities for human society now and in the future, and that's generally what I focus on. What we can do with technology, science, etc. vs. what we should do. How things under our control and command, things that we create, influence us as individuals and as an entire species. Basically, I like the questions that science fiction raises.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history who would it be and why?
Aldous Huxley, because I'd like to ask him some questions about his work.

What is your favourite word?
Flabbergasted.

Where did the idea for your book 'Echoes' come from?
Well, after failing to write another sci-fi novel, I needed something fresh and new to work on. The first thing I came up with was the premise of Echoes, so I went with it.

What was the last book you enjoyed?
The Martian by Andy Weir.

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm trying to break into mystery/thriller with a murder mystery novel. I'm also working on Epitaphs, the sequel to Echoes.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
Currently, Echoes is my only published work, but you can follow all my updates at http://www.knitewrites.com. I'm looking to have at least two more books out by early 2015.

Click here to purchase Echoes from Amazon

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Sunday Story - Worms by Emily Nemchick


For today's Sunday Story we travel back to November's short fiction contest winner and the covid inspired story 'Worms' by Emily Nemchick.

If you're looking for more great stories, or have written one you want to share then check out the Facebook group dedicated to short and flash fiction:

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

Worms by Emily Nemchick

http://emilynemchick.weebly.com/

The bird perched thoughtfully on the cold, frozen ground beside the gravestone. He gave the frigid earth a tentative peck, as if the taste of the ice might be some indicator of who lay beneath.
Each person was different, you see. Some tasted sweet, like fresh honey dripping from the honeycomb. Those were usually the young ones, the innocent and the dreamers. Others were as bitter and galling as acid, their vitriol soaking into the earth around them and making the worms fat with pulpy white malice.

The worms were what he was seeking, you see. The bird had sampled many a human corpse through the plump, wriggling medium of the graveyard's worms. Each one had its own distinctive flavour, left over from the fragrance of the lives of the people they had consumed.

He had tasted many worms, but never had he found the taste he was seeking above all others. The mingled sorrow, wisdom and hope of his long-dead master, whose shoulder had been his world for so many happy years. He couldn't read the faded lettering, etched in the human tongue, and although he had called the name time and again on his search, the same 'caw, caw' was all that fell on the ears of the mourners. Now, with the ground frozen by the early November chill, he would have to wait a while longer to see if this gravestone covered the memories he sought.

He would know with the first bite whether he had found a granite shoulder to perch on.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

May Short Fiction Contest Winners


That fun time of the month is upon us and I announce the winners of the last short fiction contest. May's image was a rather enigmatic picture of the moon and as expected it inspired a diverse selection of stories. I'd like to thank everyone who entered, the standard of entries was consistently high which made the task of selecting the winning entries a difficult one.

Thanks also to everyone who shares the links to the contests, please continue to do so. I won't be satisfied until everyone knows about the contest and the wonderful stories people submit!

And now for the winners and some good news for the winners. I've already changed the rules for June's contest so the prizes can be either an Amazon gift card or a PayPal payment, well the same option will be offered to May's winners as well.


  • First prize of a £50 PayPal or Amazon gift card goes to Aravind for the story 'Mother Moon'
  • Second prize of a £20 PayPal or Amazon gift card goes to Sierra McComas for the story 'Under the Moon'
  • Third prize of a £10 PayPal or Amazon gift card goes to Jon Jefferson for his story 'Night of the Golem'
Congratulations to the winners, I'm sure you'll agree they're excellent stories.

Mother Moon by Aravind

The little star was totally depressed when he inquired his mother , "mother, how can you and father shine brightly while I can't? Both of your lights are beautifully reaching the earth. But since two months have been completed after I had born, I must also shine like you. Then why I can't produce light? " His mother , the moon, was surprised and happy for her son's growing knowledge and answered honestly to his query "your father, the sun, and I shine due to the same light's reflection. But you're too small now. Time will come for you to create your own light. " The little star wanted to know more "where does the light come from? " The moon said about the light which was created by sun, his own father. 

But this conversation didn't convince the little star.  He inquired again "mother,  how can father create his own light while I can't? " for this,  his mother explained about the vigorous flames of fire which is surrounding the sun and how it is helping him out to create his own light. And she also said that he can also create light like his father some day. 

One other fine night after the conversation with his mother, the little star was very embarrassed. Embarrassed to see the other stars shining brightly and beautifully with their outstanding brightness. And he was not. He didn't wanted himself to be black and dark. And see other stars outshine him. 

It was midnight, when the little star could do nothing but cry. Cry due to the fact that he can't produce light. He cried more and more until he came to remember the words of his mother, that his father creates light because of the flames of the fire surrounding him. 

The star took a decision. A very bad decision to burn itself with fire to create light like his father. And he did. Seconds later, he was screaming aloud for help. The moon and the rest of the stars came to notice that someone was on fire, then soon came to know the one in fire was none other than the moon's own son. 

Moon and the rest of stars rushed to the place to help her son. Moon tried to put the fire off with the help of the other stars. Finally, the fire was put off. On that time, the moon was very happy to see her son alive. So she smiled and shone brightfully and that day was called as the day of full moon. And the clouds surrounding the moon on that day was none other than the smoke, which was created when the fire was put off from the little star.


Under the Moon by Sierra McComas

Do you see it, sister? Do you see the brilliance in the sky tonight? That shining orb in the sky that lights the storm as it drifts away from this home – Can you see it?

It lights up the clouds, sister. It brings shape to the darkness, highlighting edges of things we never knew were there. It reveals secrets, some that we wish were sometimes kept hidden. They need to be shown, though. Only sometimes – Merely sometimes – there is no moon. Did you know that, sister?

The moon shines black sometimes. It shows nothing to us, and storms fly above our heads. Thunder roars in the home, and peace is not to be found. Rain falls from our eyes on those nights. The storm breaks, and what follows is a salty, bitter rain.

Then, the moon returns. It peeks its eyes from the darkness, glancing at us and our storm. It shines brighter as it seeks out more of what has happened – It does not hide as it sees the rain. Our storm covers it some nights, but it still stays, looking beyond the thunderclouds.

The moon is rising in the sky further now. It has come out of hiding, allowing us to see it as well. It highlights the storm, showing us our follies. The storm turns to normal clouds. The damage to our home may be done – the dishes broken, the living area wrecked – but the moon shows us that we are still able to fix all of those broken things. The moon is broken, did you know? Craters and holes litter it…

This storm is passing, sister. The moon in the sky shines and shows us that it is. Do you see the moon now, sister? Can you see how it shines on our life? Can you see it?

The little girl turned to her brother, wiping tears from her eyes as best she could, sniffing. A small smile was on her face. Despite all the fighting, and a simple question of what the moon looked like, the blind child smiled. “Yes, brother. I see it now.”

The two children held each other, watching the moon.

Night of the Golem by Jon Jefferson


Pillowy dark clouds pulled away at the sight of the moon. The hillock caressed by the soft light of the moon, revealed two figures crouched over a third form. No words were spoken as they stood and circled around the prone form. 

One of the two picked up a shovel and pressed the blade into the moist earth. The cut of the blade echoed into the darkness as he worked. The second figure pulled the body on the ground away from the hole. 

“How far you gonna dig that hole, Jim?” The first words spoken in a long silence. “We just need to get it buried, no more.” 

Jim leaned against his shovel. “If that was all it is, I could be done at any time,” he said. “But you know we gotta make sure the body stays buried.” He pressed the blade of the shovel into the earth with his foot. “

“I just don’t want us going to the extreme for him, not for this one,” he said. 

“You wanna be the one digging the grave?” Jim said. “This proves to me more and more that we need a better hobby.”

“Aren’t you the least bit curious? We followed the directions exactly,” he said. “You did set the switch, didn’t you?” 

Jim shoved the handle of the shovel into his hands. “Enough, I warned you,” he said. “You can finish the hole. Besides, Rick, none of them have worked yet. Why would you think this one would be different?”

“I don’t know,” Rick said. “Shelly’s book made it sound so easy, like we could figure this out?”

“Keep digging, we only need a few more feet,” Jim said. “Well, with this failure we need to slow down for a bit. People are going to question the strange sights in the cemetery at night. Besides, there are only so many graves you can steal parts from before people start to question the fresh earth on all of the graves.” 

“I think we’re deep enough now,” Rick said. “Help me get the body into the hole.” He laid the shovel on the ground and reached for the body. Jim grabbed the feet and hoisted them out into the world. “On three let’s hoist it up and drop it into the hole. 1… 2… 3…” 

The body landed in the hole with a juicy thud. “If we weren’t sure before, I think that would have confirmed it,” Jim said.

“Nope, I’m good. Let’s just finish this up,” Rick said. “Predators will be popping out of the woodwork.” He pushed dirt into the hole with the shovel. Jim walked around the edge of the hole and pushed dirt in with his feet. 

When the clouds shifted and covered the moon, they lost sight of bottom of the hole. The scrape of the shovel and feet across the earth, the thud of the dirt into the hole covered the sounds of movement at the bottom.

Book Impressions - The Martian by Andy Weir

This is a fantastic read, in fact I'd go so far as to say it's some of the best sci-fi I've read recently. Normally I like my science-fiction to be about big ideas, here we have a more personal drama with a lone astronaut stranded on Mars after he is presumed dead in an accident. He then has to try and survive as best he can.

It's an enthralling tale, I particularly enjoyed how he solves the problems he comes up against. It does get a little technical at times, although it is written in a way that makes the more technical aspects comprehensible. There's clearly been a lot of research into the book and that shows, it has an authentic feel to it.

More importantly the story is well written and there's some excellent humour. The main character is a joy to follow and I connected with his story. The only off moment I had with the book was a slightly preachy section right at the end. In fairness that's probably just me :-) If you like science fiction, or a good survival story then this is definitely worth a read.

Click image to purchase from Amazon

Apollo 13 meets Cast Away in this grippingly detailed, brilliantly ingenious man-vs-nature survival thriller, set on the surface of Mars.

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills--and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit--he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Click here to purchase The Martian from Amazon (and its a fantastic read)

Friday, 23 May 2014

Guest Author Interview - Crystal A Bourque

Crystal A Bourque (author of Eve's return) joins me in the latest guest author interview, discover more about her and her writing below:

Click on image to purchase from Amazon

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
I'm a Canadian girl from Toronto, Ontario. I've lived here all my life, but am obsessed with Europe and would love to live there even for a few months. For now, I settle for a few weeks at a time. My favourite genre to write in is urban fantasy, or just plain old fantasy. That being said, I've got some ideas brewing away for other genres! I've got a degree in music, and while I focus on writing these days, I try to incorporate elements of it into my work.

What first inspired you to start writing?
In elementary school, our teacher had us write and illustrate one of the stories we had written during the year. She had us type up the words on a computer (which was new and exciting at the time), and bind everything into a book. It amazed me that I had written an actual book that we could take home and read. Something clicked. In that moment I realized writing was something I could do for a living! I've been writing ever since. 

And what attracted you to writing dark stories?
I have always been attracted to stories where the main character has the weight of the world on their shoulders. This tends to lead to some dark times. I love watching the characters struggle with their inner and external problems, and ultimately figure out how to save the day (at any cost). My favourite example of this is the Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
Cleopatra. I've been intrigued by her since I was young. I would want to know the truth behind the woman. Was she a seductress, a woman in love, or just savvy enough to go after what she wanted? In my mind, she’s one of the few women in history who was able to grab, and hold onto power. It fascinates me.

What makes your books stand out against the competition?
When I wrote Eve’s Return, I wasn't afraid to spin the story in the direction that it needed to go, even if that meant shocking readers. I also didn't write about vampires, werewolves, or mythology. I chose to write about religion and gave it a good twist, without writing Christian fiction. 

What do you find most rewarding about writing?
 I love seeing my story come alive on paper. When you put that much work and effort into creating something, it’s just ridiculously satisfying to have readers see what you've seen in your mind for months (or years). I also love when readers react emotionally to something I've written. Whether it is fear, excitement, happiness, sadness, or anger, emotion tells me that they are invested in my story.

And the most challenging?
Editing! It’s a long and tedious process: reviewing what I've written, evaluating what needs to change, what can stay, if there's a better word I can use, making sure that the description truly matches my vision, etc.. There’s no escaping it though, and so after indulging in a bit procrastination, I always get it done. 

What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on book two (of five) in the Book of Eve series. It's been a much easier process now that I know most of the characters and where I want the story to go. It should be available late 2014.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
Eve's Return is the first book in The Book of Eve series. Here’s the blurb:

After having her heart broken, Jordan Andrews drops out of university to travel the world and ‘find herself’. Without a penny to her name, she returns home, only to discover a terrible tragedy has occurred in her absence. 

Determined to find her elusive twin brother, she does her best to ignore the terrifying hallucinations that begin to plague her. 

It quickly becomes clear that Jordan’s hallucinations are very real. She is attacked by a hoard of demonic creatures, but is rescued by a woman who claims to be a warrior angel. Through her, Jordan discovers that she has a power that is too strange to believe, and a seductive past that proves to be too irresistible to ignore. 

Now, Jordan must not only find her brother, but also obtain an ancient artifact. It is her only clue in discovering more about who she is, and the role she is destined to play. 

You can find out more about me and Eve’s Return at www.everythingstemporary.com, follow me on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/everythingstemporary, or twitter: @everythingstemp

Click here to purchase Eve's Return from Amazon

Thursday, 22 May 2014

ABC Drabbles of Death - D is for Defenestrate



This week's ABC Drabble of Death is the letter 'D' and it also happens to be one of my favourite words! If you've missed the previous drabbles then you can read them all here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/welcome-to-first-drabble-in-my-new.html

And for fans of drabbles and other forms of short and flash fiction you're welcome to come and join the Facebook group dedicated to these stories:

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

And now...

D is for Defenestrate

I love the fact that there is a word that describes the act of throwing someone through a window. It makes life so much more convenient don’t you think? Yes I know, you’ll have my money by the end of the day, you promise, you swear on the lives of your children.

You might not be a man of your word, but I am.

I warned you and you still didn’t pay, so it’s time to find out if you can fly. I love it when the rich guys don’t pay, do you know why?

They always live in penthouses.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Blog Shout Out - Goblins and Steampunk

We visit Jaq D Hawkins's 'Goblins and Steampunk' blog in this week's Blog Shout Out, discover her blog in her own words below:



What Is This Blog Thing?

My name is Jaq D Hawkins and I write a blog called Goblins and Steampunk (http://indiewritenet.com/jaqdhawkins/). Why? Well, like most old-style writers, I have a primary website and at one time I kept a blog page on that. The trouble with a regular website is that uploading page changes is just a little bit more trouble than the average really busy person wants to deal with often, so of course the blog entries were few and far between. Somewhere along the history of cyberspace, free blog sites became an available feature and like many other people, I decided to make use of this opportunity.

That wasn't all there was to it. I started my writing career in the Mind. Body, Spirit genre of non-fiction and trying to juggle that with my fiction writing on the website hadn't really settled down into a comprehensive plan. So, the idea was to have a blog specifically for my fiction, to give it a separate existence. What I had written up to then was a Fantasy series about goblins and one Steampunk book. I planned to write more of both. So I called the blog Goblins and Steampunk to encompass the fiction writing I had done to date. It provided an easy platform to write updates in a programme that was designed specifically for blog posts.

The next thing to do after choosing a name for the blog was to decide what pages and features I should have. The blog itself is the main focus of course, but with networking and such, I gave some thought to what else to include. I made a page for feature articles about me or my books, which my lack of ego has kept me from updating frequently but now that it hs come to mind, I will be adding to. I made a books page to give links of where to buy. This too is about to get a makeover, but that's the beauty of blog sites. The work of redesigning a page is much simpler than a proper website.

I made a page for guest posts, which I have kept for Fantasy authors specifically so that I didn't end up trading guest posts with a lot of authors who write unrelated material. This eventually developed a new branch, a YA page for guest posts from YA Fantasy authors. I also made a links page to link to other authors, which is rather a holdover from old style website design. Then I made a page for reviews that I write about other Fantasy books. Last I made a samples page, for leaving a few samples of the books for readers to get a taste of my writing style. It occurs to me that I should include a place for book trailers somewhere, as I do have two online at present.

My most popular posts, according to the stats, tend to be about writing or thoughtful posts. I probably had more comments about what goes into choosing names for characters than anything before it. I do have a lot of watchers who don't comment or ask to keep their comments private. My own favourite posts are ones that lead to writing ideas. Not necessarily new plot ideas, but progressions of current projects or ideas for things that might get included in a story. I also try to do regular updates to let readers know when a new release can be expected.

My future plans for the blog are a general overhaul to make the pages more visually interesting. More pictures, the videos, and easier links. I also plan to make improvements in my networking pages, as I have been active in various author groups and there are specific supportive authors that I would like to promote through my blog. I think that every writer who keeps a blog should assess the design annually, something I intend to fit into my busy schedule. As more projects get released, the site has to grow. Keeping a blog interesting for followers is essential. A blog is a representation of some aspect of yourself and an unkempt blog gives the same impression as going out without your hair brushed in the morning. With that in mind, look for changes coming at Goblins and Steampunk in Spring and Summer 2014. It's time for some spring cleaning.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Tuesday Tease - The Spartak Trigger by Bryce Allen

In this week's Tuesday Tease we feature an excerpt from Bryce Allen's thriller 'The Spartak Trigger', take a look below:

Click on image to purchase from Amazon

THE SPARTAK TRIGGER
by Bryce Allen

“What do you call your act?”

The drunken asshole keeled over next to this beat-to-shit garbage can finishes vomiting all over the sidewalk and looks up at me with glassy, reddened eyes. He mumbles something I can’t understand, his slurred words sounding like some kind of extraterrestrial mating call.

I toss a dollar bill at the prick and compliment him on an impressive avant-garde busking routine. The narrator tells me that ‘transgressive performance art’ probably would’ve sounded better just as the boozehound collapses onto a sewer grate and howls an eclectic array of expletives into the crisp night air.

....

Business is slow tonight. For the restaurant anyway.

A handful of bored-looking customers are scattered throughout a spacious dining area. Dozens of tables sit empty as I continue to linger near the main entrance, pretending to scribe a lengthy email or text message on my state-of-the-art smartphone.

Out of nowhere this clumsy, weird-looking busboy bumps into me. He apologizes. ‘Profusely’. I don’t say anything but give the guy a harsh look, like he’s lucky to still be breathing after invading my personal space. He scurries off with his tail between his legs. I’m finally in character.

The mark is sitting alone at the bar, just as he’s been instructed to do. He looks nervous. Real nervous. I’m ten minutes late and he’s checking his watch every twenty seconds or so, probably telling himself he’ll get up and leave if I don’t show up soon.

But he won’t leave. It’s too much money. He’ll sit there for an hour if I let him. Lucky for him I’ve got a plane to catch, another appointment to keep. I take a deep, easy breath and make my way over to the bar.

The mark is momentarily distracted by something and nearly falls off of his stool when I ‘affably’ slap him on the back. I say hello and swiftly situate myself upon the open seat next to him.

“Jesus!” he shouts, nearly spilling his cocktail. “You scared the hell out of me.”

“Sorry I’m late.” I help myself to a handful of peanuts from a cheap plastic bowl. The bartender asks me what I want and I tell him to grab me whatever beer in his fridge is the coldest. He nods and asks the mark if he’d like another seven and seven.

“Yeah,” he says. “Make it a double.”

As soon as the bartender’s back is turned I reach into my overcoat and pull out a thickly-packed baronial envelope. I slide it along a surprisingly-glossy bar top towards the floor model businessman.

“What’s that?” he asks, his voice trembling.

“Consider it a down payment.” The peanuts are stale and I suddenly wish I’d picked a classier joint at which to ruin this assclown’s life.

“Listen, I’m still not sure if I want to do this… I’m not even sure I can do it. I mean, my security clearance is still only at level five.” The mark runs a recently-manicured hand through his thinning blonde hair, his ‘countenance drowning in a pool of discomfort’.

“Come on now, I thought you were some kind of hot shot Vice President over there at Tetrace.”

“Look man, I’m just a junior V.P. okay - a fucking nobody in the grand scheme of things. There are a dozen or so senior V.P.’s above me, plus the president, the C.E.O., the C.F.O., the board of governors, and so on…” The mark’s awkward anxiety is getting worse by the second, a light glaze now blanketing his dark, beady eyes. “I don’t even know what I’m doing here.”

I crack my knuckles. Purely for effect. I give the mark the look I gave the busboy earlier, just to let him know I’m not messing around. “You read a letter I sent you that promised you a shitload of money in exchange for betraying your employer and you’re a greedy son of a bitch. That’s what you’re doing here, Daniels.”

The mark glares at me strangely. He seems surprised that I know his name for some reason. The narrator quickly explains why I always set up these types of meetings by corresponding through the old-fashioned ‘snail mail’ system as our surly, beer-gutted bartender brings us the drinks we ordered. I toss a twenty at him and tell him to keep the change. He smiles widely, folding the bill in half and tucking it in his shirt pocket as he waddles back over to a poorly-mounted television set on the far side of the bar.

I lean in towards the mark, injecting a healthy dose of sternness into my ‘sand paper voice’. “Listen, Daniels, your security level doesn’t even matter. All my client needs you to do is copy and paste this file onto the desktop of any computer connected to the communal hard drive. That’s it.” I pull out a tiny flash disc drive and place it in front of him. “It’s foolproof. You can do it from anywhere in the building. Piece of cake, alright?”

He looks at the disc like it’s some kind of disease-infested dishrag. “Why me then, huh? Why don’t you just get some entry-level programmer or an inside sales associate to do it?”

“Because all non-executives at Tetrace are inspected upon entering and exiting the building, you know that. Take the disc. Do the job. Take the money. Buy yourself a nice condo someplace tropical.”

“Who’s your client? Is it Bleep? It is, isn’t it?”

“I’m not at liberty to divulge that information.” I decide to start talking to the mark like he’s a dimwitted schoolboy - a technique I used quite a bit on uncooperative gangbangers back when I was on the force.

 “Okay. Look. This is really simple, junior V.P. boy. Pick the disc up and put it in your pocket. When you go to work tomorrow morning, plug it into the data port on some seldom-used computer on the tenth floor, which is being renovated.”

The mark’s disposition swiftly graduates from restrained fear to outright alarm. His lower lip stops quivering and then begins to convulse wildly, like a trophy-sized trout being pulled into a row boat. “H-H-How did you know about that?”

“It doesn’t matter.” I’m looking down at myself playing this character, the level of cool I’m radiating rapidly approaching absolute zero. “No one important will be around, just a few guys on the construction crew maybe. If someone you do know sees you just say you got off on the wrong floor by mistake, that you haven’t had your triple tall mocha latte bullshit yet and that’s made you disoriented. If you can’t get it done in the morning, just sneak down at lunchtime. It’ll take you five minutes tops. Two hundred grand per minute’s a pretty decent wage the last time I checked.”

Daniels clearly doesn’t like being addressed in such a condescending manner. He’s not afraid anymore, far from it. He now seems kind of pissed off that I would dare to talk to him like he’s some kind of simpleton. Good. Fear is almost never productive. Anger is at least a facilitator for action in most situations.

So now this skinny Ivy League graduate is ‘glowering’ at me. Harshly. I get the sense he’d punch me in the face if he wasn’t such a pampered weakling. That’s exactly what he is though. That’s exactly what all these guys are. He won’t do a goddamn thing.

“And you’re absolutely sure there’s no way this will get back to me?” the mark asks.

I peel the label off of the glacier-cold beer bottle I ordered earlier, its contents still untouched. “Absolutely not. The virus is on a three hour time-delay and will automatically wipe out any traces of when and where it’s uploaded as soon as it’s activated. Trust me. If you get busted it gets them one step closer to my client. Obviously that’s something we’d like to avoid.”

He takes the disc and the envelope, releasing a heavy sigh as he accepts that logic and tucks both items into his jacket pocket. “When do I get the rest of the money?”

I look around to give the impression that I’m concerned that someone might be watching us before responding in a ‘hushed’ tone. “There’s ten grand in that envelope I just gave you. I’ll transfer ninety more into your third party’s off-shore account later tonight. Have you got the routing digits?”

Daniels half-stands up and pulls a light blue index card out of his back pocket, clumsily handing it to me like a fourth-string quarterback nearly botching a basic run play. “And the rest of it?”

“The rest of the million will be automatically delivered as soon as Tetrace dot com goes offline. So. Do you understand completely what you’re meant to do here, sport?”

Daniels nods reluctantly, wiping a shimmering sheet of sweat from his brow with a grimy bar napkin prior to guzzling the entirety of his drink in a single swig. It hasn’t been one of my better performances but he seems to have bought it - hook, line, and sinker.

“Okay then.” I stand up and straighten my overcoat. The mark refuses to acknowledge me. He’s fixedly staring into the empty glass sitting in front of him.

“Aren’t you going to drink your beer?” he asks, plainly.

“I’m not thirsty. It’s been a pleasure doing business with you, Daniels. Enjoy the rest of your evening.”

According to the narrator I’m ‘bounding giddily’ as I depart the scene but that sounds pretty fruity to me so let’s just say I’m glad it went well. Once I’m a few blocks away from the restaurant I whip out my smartphone and text my boss a pair of asterisks, letting him know that he should go ahead and proceed with the phony wire transfer. He texts me back one of those stupid colon/bracket smiley face things. I send him the account number Daniels gave me and shut my zPhone down for the night.

The only thing that can screw things up now is if the mark tries to use any of the counterfeit bills I gave him later tonight. But that probably won’t happen. I seriously doubt it anyway. You never know though. You can never be one hundred percent certain of anything after all, especially in situations such as these…

Click here to purchase The Spartak Trigger from Amazon

About the Author:

Bryce Allen was born in Atlantic Canada in the early-1980s. He graduated from the University of King’s College in 2004 with a BA in History and currently resides in the United States. The Spartak Trigger is his first published novel.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Sunday Story - Achromic by Colbey Pratt

Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It's lovely day out there today and what better way to enjoy the sun than by reading a story with a cool drink? For this week's Sunday Story we journey back to October's short fiction contest and the winning story 'Achromic' by Colbey Pratt:

Achromic by Colbey Pratt

I live in a world divested of color. 

My senses escape me, lost and separated from the void in which I am trapped. I cannot feel the warmth of the light, nor the icy chill of the shadows. I cannot taste any fragrance in the air, of the dandelions that dance with even the subtlest hint of a breeze. I cannot hear the rustling of the Great Tree's leaves, or even that soft static that always accompanies silence. And, even though I can decipher shapes, I cannot perceive the color they may or may not possess. 

Of my senses I can only smell, but even that is a curse in and of itself. For the only odor I can detect is of ash and smoke, of soot and the lingering essence of death. I am not quite positive of where it comes from, and every theory I've created has been squashed by simple logic...although logic is untouchable from my prison. 

I am completely alone, isolated from any other soul that may occupy this realm as I do. Once, a while ago or so I believe, I thought I glimpsed another being passing by, tiptoeing just along my peripheral. But the instant I tried to look, anyone that might have been there had already vanished, and I was forsaken once more.  I remember endeavoring to call out, but no sound came - and where no sound can be heard, no sound can be made.

I have no memory of a past or place before this province before this never-ending moment suspended in the fabric of time - only a knowledge of what should or should not be in the presence of reality. And that alone gives me the notion that I'm ensnared in the clutches of a world, of a universe, completely detached, severed from all facets of reality. It simply does not exist where I reside.
And that, I suppose, is the most frightening aspect of all. The idea, the possibility, that I am caught between the thriving before and the sacrosanct after.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

June Short Fiction Contest

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Welcome to the latest Short Fiction Contest here on The Cult of Me, this month sees the one year anniversary from when I first started the competition. In that year I've read some great stories and the competition has gone from strength to strength thanks to all you wonderful writers and readers!

To celebrate I'm making a few changes to the contest, the biggest change is that the prizes are now available via PayPal as well as Amazon gift cards, so the prizes are now:


  1. First prize is a £50 Amazon gift card or PayPal payment
  2. Second prize is a £20 Amazon gift card or PayPal payment
  3. Thirds prize is a £10 Amazon gift card or PayPal payment
Entry to the contest remains free and the prizes come out of my own pocket, although I do make a little from advertising on this blog. So if you see something of interest then feel free to click on the links and purchase away! If you haven't tried my books yet then check them out at the top of the page, as well as buying a good read you'll be helping this contest.

The rules of the contest have changed slightly, the main change is that any submitted story can be published on my blog, it's non-exclusive so you're free to do whatever you want with your story, although I do require that if your story is a winning story then you wait until after it has been posted here before releasing it elsewhere. The rules are listed in full below, so make sure that you read them before submitting your story.

We've had quite a few horror themed pictures recently, so I've decided to take inspiration from my other love - science fiction - for this month's picture. Your story doesn't have to be science fiction though, it can be of any genre as long as it is 500 words or less and relates to this month's image.

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 July 1st 2014.

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 June 15th 2014.
  4. By submitting the story you grant me a non-exclusive license to post the story on this blog.
  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. Great stories deserve great readers!

As well as comments section below you can chat about this competition 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.



Friday, 16 May 2014

Guest Author Interview - Maria E Andreu

I'm joined by Maria E Andreu, author of 'The Secret Side of Empty'  in today's guest author interview, discover more about her and her writing below:

Click on image to purchase from Amazon

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
I'm Maria E. Andreu and I'm the author of The Secret Side of Empty, a contemporary YA fiction novel in which the main character is an undocumented immigrant.

What first inspired you to start writing?
I've always loved writing. I have this wonderful diary from when I was 12 in which I wrote, "Most of all I want to be a writer." I suppose I grew to like it because it was a way to always feel free.

Your first novel draws upon your own experiences, where does the line sit between fact and fiction? And how did you decide where to draw that line?
The Secret Side of Empty is totally fictional, but I like to say that a lot of the feelings are the same. So, for example, when M.T. (the main character) feels excluded, the circumstances that cause her to feel like that are fictional. But her experience of it is very similar to mine.

Deciding where to draw the line was a very interesting process. At first it was hard. Then there came this magical point where it was as if the characters were deciding what needed to happen. I know it sounds kooky but it's totally true. It stopped being my book and became theirs.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
So many! Queen Elizabeth I comes to mind, this amazing woman showing her stuff in an era in which women weren't supposed to lead and be tough. But I bet some of the coolest people in history are those whose names we don't even know.

What is your favourite song lyric?
I tend to go for the dark and moody lyrics. They captivate and haunt me. There's this 90s song "One Headlight" by The Wallflowers. I can listen to that over and over again. "There's got to be an opening somewhere here in front of me through this maze of ugliness and greed." I actually think life is awesome, but I've definitely felt at times like I've been stuck in a maze of ugliness and greed. And that's actually really valuable as a writer, being able to tap that.

What do you find most rewarding about writing?
I love it all. The feeling of flow, when the words are just passing through you onto the screen. I love going back to re-read something later and falling in love again, thinking, "Yeah, I totally remember how I felt and what I was trying to say here." But I love the rest of it too, the blocks, the problems, the angsty life of the writer. It's an exquisite kind of torture.

And the most challenging?
I wish I could find more time to write. When I'm on I'm really on. I can write thousands of words a day. But then it shuts off. I like to say I am a sprinter, not a marathoner. That's a challenge when writing a novel.

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm halfway through my second novel about a girl who falls for the wrong guy. Social media mayhem ensues.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
The Secret Side of Empty is a YA novel about M.T., a high school senior whose life seems as normal as all her friends', except she's got a secret: she's an undocumented immigrant in the U.S. As the end of high school draws near, she sees her life unraveling and her options dwindling and she must find her strength to create the kind of life she wants for herself. You can read more and add it to your Goodreads to-read shelf here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...

You can also find more background, a playlist, character info and more at http://MariaEAndreu.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/maria.andreu.books
Twitter: @WriterSideofM

Thursday, 15 May 2014

ABC Drabbles of Death - C is for Cannibalism



We're up to the letter 'C' in the ABC Drabbles of Death series, in this series I take write a macabre drabble for each letter in the alphabet, if you haven't read the first two drabbles in the series then you can do so here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/welcome-to-first-drabble-in-my-new.html

For fans and writers of flash and short fiction come and join the Facebook group I've set up dedicated in those forms:

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

C is for Cannibalism

Smart meat is my dining delight and I accept no substitute, after all, why restrict yourself to mundane flesh when you can consume the most treasured of delicacies?

Oh I know that people condemn cannibalism as a perversion, but what would they know? Have they filleted the skin from a choice thigh, the skin loose from being hung? How can they not realise how much sweeter the organs taste when you have looked into their eyes and seen the meat’s hopes and dreams fade to a glassy stare?

No they do not understand, but I do and I’m not alone.

Book Impressions - Clown Friday by Edward Parker

This is the most fun I've had reading for a while! Clowns are a familiar topic in horror and they're used to good effect here. It blends the creepiness of clowns with a strange small town setting. The town of Marlowe has an annual carnival known as 'Clown Friday' and a reporter is sent to cover the event and discovers that the carnival is a tradition stretching back centuries and even more sinister than hundreds of people dressing up clowns would seem to be.

The book has a fine balance of visceral and atmospherics horror and is written in an easy going style which actually belies some of the lovely turn of phrase it contains. The pacing is good, it takes a short while to get going but is then a satisfying dash to the end. My only complaint with the story is the set up for the finale, the switch seems a bit abrupt and a bit convenient. Don't get me wrong, it works and provides a decent conclusion, it just felt a little off.

Don't let that minor complaint put you off though, this is a fine read. As can be expected there's some suitably sinister characters, so much so that I would happily have read more of their antics. This is superb horror and highly recommended.


Marlowe. A small, picturesque town in the Worcestershire Countryside. Village green, white church spire, maypole,

A quaint town.

A beautiful town.

An evil town....

Journalist Clive White is sent to cover Marlowe’s annual carnival Clown Friday: an easy and straight forward assignment. But, as he interviews the locals, and as he uncovers the true history and nature of the town and its carnival, it becomes clear that there is something very wrong in Marlowe.

There is an article to be written and a story to be told, but White realises that the story is a dark one. It is the story of something ancient, vile, and evil, something that lusts after spilled blood and human flesh. And it is a story that only he, Clive White, will be able to tell.


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Blog Shout Out - L F Falconer

In this week's blog shout out we take a visit to Leanna Falconer's blog, discover more in her own words below:


“You don’t blog?” he asked with surprise.

“Well, no,” I replied.

“You should blog.”

“Who has the time? Besides, I’m a novelist, not a blogger.”

A year after that conversation took place, upon a few requests and countless recommendations, I began to reconsider my answer. So I pulled my old journalism training from the back of my mind, dusted it off, and set about posting at least once a month some of the most useless essays that are as eclectic in nature as my books. The only rhyme or reason the posts share is that they all seem to center around me. I started out writing little bits about writing, then one day, took a sharp left turn and wrote a post primarily for fun, and by Jove, it was a resounding success! That one single post, called “The First Time…Mindless Meanderings” https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6485699.L_F_Falconer/blog caused me to reconsider my reading audience and what they prefer to learn from me. I’m not really an egomaniac, but I don’t mind sharing portions of myself with my readers. The blog posts seem to have received the seal of approval from my fans (Come on, don’t try to deny it—you both know who you are), and do serve to reassure my readers that I really am a normal person, despite the pervading dark nature of my books, which has even caused my friends and family to now look at me with a raised eyebrow.

My website is relatively new, so hasn’t had a great deal of traffic, but does have a blog page. I don’t have any immediate plans to inundate it (or myself) with any blog overload. After all, “Who has the time? Besides, I’m a novelist, not a blogger.” Right now I’m keeping it simple and short, but that could certainly change over time, for someday I might just find a focus. Or not.

Several of my most popular posts are: “Gems,” featuring some of my favorite newly discovered indie authors (as with “The First Time” article, posted only on Goodreads blog), “Mindless Meanderings—Living on the Edge,” a small slice of my country life, and “A Little Romance, Anyone?” where I moan about genre and its restrictiveness. One of my own, personal favorites though, is “Battle Born,” because I’m often tickled by the way others view the Wild, Wild West. I’ve provided a short excerpt for your reading delight:

Battle Born

“Out in the land of the setting sun, where the wind blows wild and free…” I’m sure I have a couple of readers who might recognize these opening lines from Nevada’s state song. They’ll probably also recognize the title of this post as the state’s nickname emblazoned upon our flag, since Nevada was rushed into statehood by Abraham Lincoln via telegraph so our silver could help finance the Union in the War Between the States back in 1864. And this year, as we begin celebrating our sesquicentennial (or, in real-life language, our one-hundred-fiftieth year of statehood), I’d like to take a moment to help clear up a few misconceptions I’ve encountered about the place my heart calls home.

· Vive Las Vegas! Whenever I say I’m from Nevada, the first thing that tends to pop into people’s heads is “Las Vegas.” All right, I do concede that Las Vegas is the largest, most well-known city in the state and its greater metropolitan area contains nearly 70% of the entire state’s population, but that still leaves about 900,000 of us sprinkled throughout the remaining 92% of the state. If you stop to consider that Nevada covers 109,781 sq. miles while Las Vegas only covers 136 sq. miles, that leaves a lot of ground open to NOT being Las Vegas.

· Years ago when I was visiting British Columbia, I had someone ask me about the slot machines in Nevada’s restrooms. Okay, this is something I’ve never seen, but can’t really disclaim since I’ve not visited every restroom in the state (though a person might be taking a gamble if trying to rely upon one of those little “dispenser” machines in some of them). Yes, there are slots in the grocery stores, gas stations, mini-marts, and airports, but I’ve yet to see one in the john.

· One summer evening as my younger sister and I strolled down the main drag in my hometown, we had to politely set a highly embarrassed young sailor straight upon his misinformed knowledge about Nevada’s legalized prostitution. While prostitution is legal in certain counties, to be legal it must be done in a licensed brothel and it certainly does not mean that every girl who walks down the street is a hooker! ….

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! Pretty pictures, too!!! Check me out: http://www.lffalconer.com


A maverick with a pen, Nevada author L.F. Falconer’s powerful, page-turning style of dark fantasy has been consistently praised as both “gripping,” and “captivating.” Skillful, character-based artistry fuses magic and the supernatural with reality to bring her audience a unique reading experience.
Visit L F Falconer's blog here: http://www.lffalconer.com

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Tuesday Tease - Reversion: The Inevitable Horror by J. Thorn

J. Thorn provides an excerpt from his dark novel 'Reversion: The Inevitable Horror', which is the first book in his 'Portal Arcane' series. I read this recently and enjoyed it a lot, you can read my review here, the opening chapter is provided below:

Click image to purchase from Amazon

Reversion: The Inevitable Horror
by J. Thorn
Chapter 1

Samuel pushed the twisted sheet from his shoulder and let the makeshift noose coil on the ground like a dead snake. He stepped out of the rope and looked up at the decaying branch overhead, shaking his head. His eyes darted about the empty forest as his heart raced.

He drew a breath, wincing at the pain in his throat as his lungs tried to pull in more oxygen. He smiled at the joy of being alive until the memory of his prison cell surfaced. Like a leaf at the mercy of the wind, the image of the bars floated from Samuel’s reach. Worry rushed back in as he struggled to find a connection, a reason for being here.

He stepped over the jagged rocks and closed his eyes. Silence. It could have been midsummer. It could have been the dead of winter. He could no longer tell and even if he could, Samuel struggled to remember what those seasons meant. The wind was still. The creek in the distance murmured like the whispers at a funeral procession. The insects, the animals–the creatures of the wood were silent. Again, Samuel fought to recall hearing any sound. A leather string holding an amulet lay on the ground at his feet and he picked it up. The charm was silver, three triple spirals connected and curling in on each other. He slid the leather string over his head until the amulet lay on his chest.

He walked in silence over branches sprawled on the ground and onto a rough path that wound itself farther into the forest. Samuel heard a slight rustle of leaves underneath his feet and yet his canvas sneakers did not make as much noise as they should have. The sun hung at an odd angle, tossing a bland shaft of light ahead, with most of the rays never reaching the ground. Samuel looked to the right and saw tattered, yellow caution tape dangling from the trunks of ancient oaks.

What is this?

The tape ran from trunk to trunk in tattered, random shreds like an abandoned crime scene. He reached out and tore a shred of tape from the tree while looking for the human remains that should have been there.
Samuel looked up into the canopy of branches, which hovered overhead like a worried mother. As far as he could see, ropes and nooses hung empty and cold. Piles of clothing, personal items, and other artifacts lay beneath some.

He tossed the scrap of tape to the ground and continued down the path, knocking aside a shoe, a sport coat, a backpack. He stopped and bent down to grab the backpack, the aching in his neck causing him to wince. The backpack was made of nylon, the zipper long gone and its teeth forever in a black grin. He reached into it, his fingers brushing against a few leaves that rustled inside. Nothing. He turned it over to reveal three characters embroidered on the front: BCD. He rubbed his head and stared at them until he recognized the letters of the alphabet, and a thin smile spread over his lips. He was not sure if those letters mattered anymore, and he could not recall why they ever would. Samuel dug through a few of the mounds beneath the hanging trees, shoving articles of clothing into the backpack.

He threw the only remaining strap over one shoulder and shuffled farther down the path on instinct. He kept the pack to store items that might keep him alive. The creek moved closer with each step, and he was happy to hear its meanderings. The natural noise brought a brief sense of normalcy, a memory from childhood: long summer days in a valley and a creek that cut a ragged line through the forest. Some days he would spend hours in solitude, overturning rocks in a search of salamanders. On other days, he would throw stones across the bank with his brothers in a friendly competition that would end when his mother’s voice echoed through the trees, calling them home for the evening meal.

He saw more items strewn across the path and kicked a pair of shoes to the side. So many shoes. He wondered why the shoes remained and the bodies did not.

Samuel looked down at his sneakers with Velcro instead of laces. A faded denim shirt hung open revealing a plain grey T-shirt underneath. His khakis sat loose on his hips. The guards did not care how well they fit the inmates.

The path curved as it approached the stream, turning right into a grove of high pines, their needles covering the ground. Samuel drew a deep breath through his nose, catching the faintest odor of pine, and it made him smile. He savored the distant aroma for as long as he could. It did not last.

He sat on the ground next to an abandoned, blue shopping bag and reached inside, pulled out the contents and arranged them in a circle over the pine needles. He remembered the names for most of them. Lighter. Pen. Nickel. A few he could not recognize, but his brain assured him he would. Samuel picked up the lighter with his right hand, pinched between a thumb and finger. Muscle memory snapped into place as his thumb struck down on the flint. The lighter sparked, and Samuel smiled. He could almost taste the burnt, woody smoke of a hand-rolled cigarette. He could almost feel the airy buzz with each puff of the tobacco. He struck the lighter again and again, but each time it failed to ignite, and each time it reminded him of the temporary satisfaction delivered by the nicotine. Another item returned to his expanding repertoire of old words as he opened a supple leather wallet.

Samuel removed the paper sticking out from its fold. As with the pine needles, he caught a faint whiff of the earthy, organic scent of the rawhide.

He looked up and noticed the sun had dropped closer to the horizon, as if touching the tops of the trees to ignite them. Darkness crept closer, surrounding the far edges of his vision. Samuel’s toes became numb from the cold and he realized his exposure could kill him.

With the chill of the approaching night, the undoing of the universe tightened its stranglehold on this place, slowly crushing the life from it. Each universe exists infinitely close to one other much like grains of sand on a beach. The collection of universes is known as the multiverse. In this place, the reversion started on the edges where sounds disappeared and colors dulled, draining it all of rich, sensory perceptions. The physical world began to fold in upon itself and threatened to swallow everything into the eternal void. Not every universe was cursed with a reversion that held souls in transition, but this one was.

Using the reversion as his tool, Deva snatched those in need of salvation and dropped them into a dying world to find the path to redemption and release from the cycle: Should the soul fail to make a lifetime of wrongs right, it would reawaken in another place, in another reversion. Spirit demands a resolution for all souls and Deva orchestrates it. Deva, the gatekeeper of the reversion, spent eons keeping the great cycle intact and would do so for as long as Spirit required it.

***

The night came silently, stealing the remaining light from the forest and replacing it with an insufferable coldness. Samuel shuddered. He could no longer control the muscle spasms that racked his body and occupied his mind. The yellow tape, the shoes, the hunger. None if it mattered while his brain searched for a solution to the numbing cold brought by the night.

After walking for hours in no particular direction, he again relied on instinct, gathering branches and leaning them against a tree to provide the most basic shelter. With twigs and dried leaves, he created a mound of kindling. He stood and yawned before looking out into the expansive forest. He had no measure of his progress and thought it was possible he hiked in a long, meandering circle.

Samuel reached into his pocket, where he had stowed the mysterious artifacts. His hand found the lighter, which he pulled out. Again he wrapped his thumb and finger around the igniter, although the dropping temperature made it more difficult for him to strike the flint. He tried again, once, twice. On the third strike, the lighter coughed forth a weak flame. It flickered over the pinhole at the top of the metal. Samuel felt the brief burst of warmth and, before he could place his left hand over the top, the flame died. He shook the lighter and struck the flint again. The green flame returned, and Samuel pushed the tiny lever on the front of the lighter until the flame rose slightly higher than before. He smiled and reached back into his pocket, removing scraps of paper from the wallet and holding them over the flame. At first, the paper did nothing but curl and twist from the heat. But after a few moments, the flame leapt from the lighter. He dropped the lit paper on to the mound of leaves. Curls of grey smoke floated upward, stinging his eyes and burning his nose, and Samuel cried from the smoke. He could smell it. He was alive.

Within moments, the confined space between three pine trees blazed with yellow and green flames. Samuel was standing closer to the bonfire than he should, staring at the odd colors. His instinct told him to stand back, and yet the heat did not burn him. He shoved the lighter into his pocket and scurried past the fire, gathering pine needles, dried twigs and branches. He knew this fuel was needed to keep the fire going, to keep him alive. In a matter of moments, units of time Samuel could no longer measure, he sat basking in the glow of a roaring bonfire. He felt its warmth and closed his eyes. His stomach growled, protesting the hunger brought on by the activity.

Samuel laid his head on the empty backpack and curled his feet closer to the fire. He felt warm and safe and still alone, until the howl pierced the air.

His mind reeled as instinct took over. He stripped his clothes to the ground to rid himself of his human scent. He could not remember how he knew, but he recognized the howl of the alpha male. He knew the pack was coming. He knew if he did not hide from their sight and sense of smell, he would die.

The cold air bit into his back as the paltry fire warmed his front. He took inventory of the clothing he stuffed into his backpack, counting three shirts of various sizes, two pairs of shorts and one pair of athletic pants. He ran to the pile and put the athletic pants on, followed by a pair of shorts. He picked up the T-shirt he had worn and took a whiff. He could smell his own body odor, but it did not carry the musky, organic, overpowering scent it normally would have, but he didn’t have time to figure out why. The air felt heavy and diluted and Samuel wondered if there was something wrong with his senses or if it was this place. Nevertheless, it was closest to his body’s scent and would have to do. He hoped to confuse the alpha male long enough to escape. He set the undershirt aside and pulled the clothing over his head until he stood dressed, with only a pair of shorts and a T-shirt left on the ground. Samuel felt his movement restricted in several layers of clothing worn by other people and realized if the alpha male was not disoriented by the mixing of scents, he would be easy prey.

He ran to one of the pine trees standing guard over his haven, unable to find a single knotted branch or knob that would serve him. He knew the clearing would soon be attacked by a pack of wild wolves, and he ran from one tree to another until he found what he needed, grabbing the stained T-shirt and wrapping the neck-hole around a thin branch while using another twig to create a crude cross on which the T-shirt rested, mimicking a human with arms outstretched. He then snatched the shorts from the ground and wrapped them over a piece of peeling bark so they hung beneath the T-shirt. The clothes on the tree sat higher than an average human, but he did not think the wolves would discern that detail in the heat of the hunt.

Samuel heard the soft crunch of the forest underbrush. He looked back and forth at the trees and over the fire, spotting one low-hanging branch within his grasp. His fingers fell a few inches short of the bark, and when he heard the low, earthy growls, he realized he had seconds to make a decision. Samuel jumped and grabbed the branch with both hands while swinging his legs as high as he could. Several objects fell from his pockets and clattered in a pile beneath the tree. As he glanced down, Samuel saw the first set of yellow eyes materialize from the dark recesses beyond the fire. He squinted and heaved upward until he sat on the branch with his feet dangling five feet from the ground. The alpha male came first.

***

It smelled the burning wood long before its eyes found the origin of the flame. The creature nuzzled its nose deep into dank fur and flicked its ears twice before turning its muzzle toward the sky, letting loose with a growl that sounded more human than beast. Within moments, the rest of the pack surrounded the alpha male. Sets of yellow eyes darted back and forth through the hulking, black trunks. They seemed to disappear and reappear as though floating through the night.

One has found flame.

The pack settled and circled around the leader. With his fur rankled, he bared his pointy teeth at the slightly younger, more aggressive males.

My kill, then your carcass.

Although not the egalitarian split most of the creatures desired, it was the way.

The alpha male trotted across a felled tree, the trunk resting on a rocky outcrop jutting twenty feet high. He approached the zenith and stopped, catching the scent of fire, smoke and humans. While he did not share the same sense of time and space as other mammals, the wolf registered surprise. He had not expected man to still be here, and if he was, he had not expected man to enter his domain.

Blood.

The rest of the pack reared up behind the leader, letting loose with several rounds of howling, barking and gnashing. Several of the larger, older creatures snapped at the females. The leader called for blood. The hunt was on.

The alpha male leapt from the trunk, his sinewy frame propelled through the trees as if by an otherworldly force. The creature sprinted, and the pack followed at the respected distance. The alpha male would not find a challenger this night—the first blood would belong to him. The pack undulated, a brown, grey and silver mass weaving through the trees and toward the fire springing up from the forest floor. Some of the cubs whimpered and ran beneath their mothers, for they had yet to witness the power of flame.

The alpha male crested a slight rise and slowed his descent toward the valley, scanning the horizon to see the thin, white line of Brother Moon. The creature stopped, his tongue flicking across his frozen muzzle. He lifted his head up and howled again.

The top arch of the moon poked above the tree line, but would rise no farther. The alpha male knew. He mourned the loss of the sky god hanging over the valley and illuminating the kills. Brother Moon held his gaze low like an insolent child, a bit lower each cycle.

The pack scampered behind the alpha male and waited. The creatures paced about with deep growls as they too gazed at the fire in the center of the valley, cursing the unnatural flame and drooling at the prospect of tearing its creator apart.

The alpha male dropped low, ears up. He moved methodically through the trees until the faint aroma of burning pine reached his nose. They had not lost the scent. Not yet. The others followed with growling bellies and cautious optimism. The feast would be the first in a long while. Mothers would push their cubs back from the killing spot and toss them the battered entrails left after the surge.

The alpha male continued to lead. The crackling of the burning wood became louder but muffled in the heavy air. He listened for the guttural tone of a human voice, but did not hear it, and he sniffed the air again, this time detecting the source of the scent.

More than one?

The younger, more aggressive males became excited by the thought of full bellies. The wolves nudged each other, even going so far as to bare teeth to preserve the attack order. After the alpha male had eaten, a battle would ensue for the bloody remains.

The alpha male spun with his hackles raised. He growled and bared pointy, yellow teeth at his pack. They would fear him or be consumed by him. At least that was how it had always been. The others cowered, especially the females and the cubs. A few of the more mature males skittered to the side but did not retreat. They sized up the alpha male, sensing they too might someday lead the pack. Someday.

Now.

He reared his head and howled. The rest of the pack imitated the alpha male until the sound consumed the dead of the night. He raced from his lead position toward the fire, with the pack following, dashing between trunks, through the remains of yellow tape and over lonely shoes with decayed laces. He sprinted over forgotten bones and rotted canvas tents. He kicked the artifacts of the world to the side, where they tumbled into silent obscurity.

The fire grew as the alpha male led his pack to the fight. It had been a long time since human blood was spilled in the valley and the alpha male basked in the anticipation. Although his eyes had lost range and focus, he was able to detect the human form against the tree on the far side of the fire. The yellow and green flames distorted the shape, but not enough to confuse the alpha male. The wolves snapped at each other’s tails as they followed the leader to the kill zone. Females, cubs and old wolves became lost in the instinctual euphoria of the kill.

He flew from the path, dashed around a fallen limb and turned straight for his prey. The alpha male’s eyes lit, his snout pulsing with the chemicals of the predominant human scent, no longer uncertain of their numbers. He made one final lunge to the right of the fire and skidded to a halt in the dry dirt at the base of the tree. His head twitched back and forth at the shirt and shorts tacked there. He did not need to communicate his disgust and disappointment to the pack. His belly growled in protest of the ruse.

Click here to purchase Reversion: The Inevitable Horror from Amazon (and it's an excellent read)

About the Author:

Want a story that’s rooted in a fundamental aspect of being human?

I believe reading dark fiction can be healing. My overriding mission is to connect with you through my art, and I hope to inspire you to do the same. I’m a word architect and driven visionary. I’m obsessed with heavy metal, horror films and technology. And I admire strong people who are not afraid to speak their mind.

I grew up in an Irish Catholic, working class family and was the first to go to college. I didn’t have expensive toys, so I used my own imagination for entertainment. And then I abused alcohol for entertainment. I spent the first thirty years of my life convincing myself I wasn’t an addict and the last ten worrying about all the potential threats the substances hid from me.

Anxiety and depression are always hiding in the corner, waiting to jump me when I start to feel happiness.

I had to break through family programming and accept the role of the black sheep. In my 30s I started writing horror and formed a heavy metal band while my family rolled their eyes, sighed and waited for the “phase” to end.

I spent years paralyzing myself with self-loathing and criticism, keeping my creativity smothered and hidden from the rest of the world. I worked a job I hated because that’s what Irish Catholic fathers do. They don’t express themselves, they pay the damn mortgage. I may have left my guilt and faith behind long ago, but the scars remain.

My creativity is my release, my therapy and my place to work through it all. I haven’t had a drink in a long time, but the anxiety and depression are always lurking. Writing novels and songs keeps it at bay. I scream over anxiety with my microphone and I turn my guitar up loud enough to drown out the whispers of self-doubt.

I hope to leave a legacy of art that will continue to entertain and enrich lives long after I’m gone. I want others to see that you don’t have to conform to the mainstream to be fulfilled.

Don’t be afraid of the dark. Embrace it.


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