Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Faust 2.0 Now Available on Oyster

I'm pleased to reveal that Faust 2.0 is now available on Oyster. Check it out here:

https://www.oysterbooks.com/book/DgeEXfEtWQmBktv3RMzW2L/faust-20-mitchell-and-morton-1

For everyone waiting patiently (or not so patiently in some cases) I am almost finished with the first draft. It will then be left to ferment for a while until I start the edit pass. All being well it should be out for the end of the year!.

Faust 2.0 is also available from a number of online retailers and in paperback from Amazon. See below for more details.

The Internet witnesses the emergence of a new entity.

Is it the rebirth of an ancient evil in a new realm? Or something more dangerous?

A sexy looking avatar is granting wishes for people across the Internet. But nothing is ever truly free and for those accepting the gifts a terrible price must be paid.

Sarah Mitchell must learn the truth of this creature and stop it while it can still be stopped. She must also find out why a mysterious lawyer is present at every step.

Faust 2.0 is the first book in the new Mitchell & Morton series.


Review Highlights

" Brookes has penned a very different kind of work that is reminiscent of Philip K. Dick’s themes with astounding clarity of thought and a lucid, impeccable, swift and precise narration."

"An interesting, modern take on an ancient tale."

"Over-all, this book is a compelling thriller, which also serves as a warning about letting computers play too big a role in our lives."

"The book has excellent characters, a great plot and a steady pace that always leaves you hungry for more."

"There should be a genre for CRACKING GOOD READ. This book would surely fit in here.
Looking forward to the next!"

Faust 2.0 is available from these online stores:

Buy now from Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/XQ5L77
Buy now from Amazon (UK): http://amzn.to/1csv15q
Buy now from Barnes & Noble (Nook): http://bit.ly/1nLA8BX
Buy now from Kobo: http://bit.ly/1rGRItx
Buy now from iTunes (US): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id689253733
Buy now from iTunes (UK): https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/id689253733
Buy now from Page Foundry: http://bit.ly/1mSaDT3
Read now on Scribd: http://bit.ly/UWSGqE

Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/Faust2point0
2013 Self-Published and Small Press Awards

Monday, 29 June 2015

An Odder Quintet Available on Oyster

I'm very pleased to announce that An Odder Quintet is now available on Oyster:

https://www.oysterbooks.com/book/QYh3tACPSh2NBxG2tqnXPS/an-odder-quintet

This collection of short stories is available from a range of online stores, see below for more details.


An Odder Quintet explores a world of dark and strange happenings. From new technology to ancient legends, nothing is quite what it seems.

Prisons without Walls
A prisoner serving a life sentence takes part in an experimental programme that manipulates the perception of time to rehabilitate prisoners and ensure they never reoffend.

The Tapestry
Legend speaks of a Great Loom, operated by three women who guide the fate of every living person. The secret kept for thousands of years has now been found by someone with his own designs for it.

Ghost in the Cloud
Everyone knows not to click on links in strange emails, but what do you do when the link comes from your dead husband?

In the Depths
This story continues from ‘Forced Entry’ in ‘An Odd Quartet’.
Bravo Team took part in a hostage rescue mission in what they thought was a normal suburban house, now trapped in the basement they try to find a way out and only discover only more insanity.

Not Welcome at the Gate
This story continues from ‘The Reluctant Demon’ in ‘An Odd Quartet’.
Morlock failed his possession exam in the most spectacular way possible, now ninety years later he faces returning to Hell.


Review Highlights

"The author excels in imaginative writing that deals with the intangible. His stories often handle the supernatural and the interface between life and death, yet the urgent and compelling nature of the writing makes it seem real enough."

"If you enjoy Twilight Zone tales with a creepy edge then this is for you."

"This group of five stories is sure to enhance Michael Brookes' reputation as a short story teller. I found them all intriguing concepts. The author has an interesting mind!"

"The stories were short, crisp, having an odd, eerie feel of mystery blended with the gothic, and quite enjoyable. I'm glad I bought it!"

An Odder Quintet is available from:
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/13QJbwD
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1qKgdUg
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/17eCX6E
iTunes US: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id693228370
iTunes UK: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/id693228370
Kobo: http://bit.ly/18S3DJI
Page Foundry: http://bit.ly/1kwHEhZ
Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/book/230514632/An-Odder-Quintet






Sunday, 28 June 2015

June Short Fiction Contest Winners

By Cyberjunkie (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
June's image proved a popular one with a good number of entries. Of course the more popular the contest the more difficult the task of picking the winners! This month's entries provide a good example of one of the joys in running the contest and that is the variety of stories that are entered. As can be expected from the nature of the door itself many of the stories revolved around the theme of a gateway to Hell, however a few, including one of the winners, saw it as a thing of beauty.

As always I would like to thank everyone who entered and if you didn't win then there's next month's contest which has started. Thanks also to the readers and the sharers because stories only exist to be read and shared with others - so please continue to share. Also remember that if you have submitted a story then you're now free to use it as you will, although I do ask that you link back to my blog.

And now for the winners:

 - First prize of a £50 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Nav Logan for his story 'The Gatekeeper'
 - Second prize of a £20 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to David J Wing for his story 'The Thinker'
 - Third prize of a £10 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to G E Smith for the story 'Living Exhibit'

Congratulations to the winners and here are their stories:

The Gatekeeper by Nav Logan

www.navlogan.com

When I was a boy, I lived with my father in a very strange house.

Our house was a huge gothic mansion, filled of white marble and black ebony sculptures. A magnificent spiral staircase dominated the centre of the house. It spiralled upward as far as the eye could see, and downward; deep into the bowels of the earth.

My father warned me regularly never to step upon the staircase. “It’s only to be used by our guests,” he warned.

We had a lot of guests. They arrived at all times of the day and night.

My father’s job was to open the front door and direct them to the staircase. I never saw any of the guests leave, so they must still be up there, or hiding in the cellar.

We lived only on the ground floor, but it was such a large mansion that there was plenty of room for the two of us.

One day, while I was at school, the teacher asked the class what our parents did for a living. The pupils took turns revealing their parents’ careers. Some were postmen, nurses; there was even an author. Finally, it was my turn.

I stood before the blackboard and spoke, “I don’t know much about my mother,” I explained. “She died when I was a baby, but my daddy has a very important job. He’s the Gatekeeper.”

“A gatekeeper,” my teacher corrected.

“No. He’s quite adamant about that. He assures me that he’s ... The Gatekeeper.”

“So, he opens gates? That doesn’t sound too important,” teased Edmund, the class joker. The class all laughed, but I frowned.

“We don’t actually have any gates,” I admitted.

“Then how is he a gatekeeper?”

“The Gatekeeper,” I corrected absently. “I don’t really know. I’ll have to ask him.”

Arriving home, I accosted my father. “Why are you called The Gatekeeper, Daddy, if we don’t have any gates?”

He took me by the hand and led me around to the front of the house where the great black double doors stood firmly shut. In his spare time, my father polished them until they shone brightly in the sun. They were filled with demonic figures, carved into the black ebony. I’d always felt a little queasy whenever I looked at them.

We weren’t allowed to use these doors. They were only for our guests. My father and I only ever used the tradesmen’s entrance, around the side of the house.

“These are ‘The Gates’,” he explained. “Everyone comes to them eventually. It’s my job to open them, and one day it’ll be yours, too.”

Emboldened, I asked, “Where do our guests go?”

“That all depends, son. Some go up the stairs and find Heaven, while others descend into whatever Hell awaits them.”

Confused, I asked, “Isn’t there only one Hell?”

“Hell is filled with a man’s fears, so everyone has a different Hell.”

“Do you guide them on their journey?”

“No, son, I don’t. Each man must find his own path.”

The Thinker by David J Wing

https://davidjwing.wordpress.com/

It sat there, like an ancient monolith, daring him to touch it. Its world-ending stare, coupled with a weight beyond measure. How it wound-up in the yard, he could only imagine; a vestige from a by-gone era, a dynasty long forgotten, save for a tomb and a door? Whatever it was, it was imposing. No, more than that, it was scary. It was heavy and bronzed, like a Titan of old, a remnant, lingering; a twenty foot giant looming large.

No handle. No lock.

Carl stood and stared. Minutes, hours, what did it matter? His gaze never faltered. His lids never blinked. Transfixed he followed the figures crawling across the door’s bodice, inviting him in, luring, and leering. The naked forms writhed. His teenage mind played. All the while the Thinker sat above and watched.

He no longer felt the breeze from the trees. He no longer saw the light from the sky.

Men and woman crawled and silently screamed for him; for his help, for his love? Then he crawled. His skin, his very soul undulated, rippled, ripped. Their fingers broke through his chest, tore through his skin and pulled at his mind. His mouth opened and his eyes screamed. They pled for salvation. All the while the Thinker watched.

He fell forward, he flew forth. His feet scraped the granite floor, leaving trainered skid marks behind. The structure ached and groaned, weighted by generations of loss. His face slapped then slid inside. Their arms opened wide, grabbed and held fast and welcomed him in. The metallic embrace tasted in his mouth and shortly after in his bones.

The sea waved around him as he fought to the surface. Gasping for breath that would never come, gasping for light that would only tease, he floundered. His finger tips pushed against the molten world, a dull spoon cutting.

Never free, never more. Never rescued, never saw.


He clung, he watched, he waited and he bore.

Living Exhibit by G E Smith

Professor Greg Mecum, head of archeological studies at California State, stepped out of the helicopter and headed toward the cave entrance.

Leonard Cole met him, ignoring the professor’s outstretched hand. “We’ve broken one chain and two cables wrestling with that thing you call a door. And the crane nearly toppled over on one attempt.”

“Of course. The Institute will cover any expenses.”

Cole shifted the unlit cigar stub in his mouth. “We had to widen the cave entrance to get the equipment in here with high-level explosives. Another seventy grand should cover it.”

The professor forced a smile. “You’ll be properly compensated, Mr. Cole. Show me the door.”

“This way.” Professor Mecum followed Cole into the main room of the cave. Steam rose from the surface of several pools. The brown-, orange-, and rose-colored walls glistened.

Mecum stopped, wide-eyed. “I never imagined…”

Cole removed his cigar stub. “Yeah, a door in the cave floor. And I don’t know what’s holding it from below, but it’s damn strong.”

The professor knelt. “The carvings are stunning. And the wood looks to be a seamless mix of oak and mahogany.” He ran his hand over tree and vine images. His eyes moved to a knight on a steed, and then to a woman in a bell-shaped dress holding a parasol. “Remarkable how different centuries are represented. And the size...” Mecum walked off twenty-two paces along the doors vertical frame, fifteen at its base.

“There’s three-quarter inch military-grade steel in a lattice pattern under the door for support. Don’t wanna loose what progress we’ve made.” Cole gave the professor a hard hat with a light attached. “We’ve hand-dug a hole at the top.”

Mecum followed Cole, then lay on his stomach.

“What do you make of it?” Cole said.

“Roots.”

Cole walked away from the door and spoke to several men.

Mecum smiled, moved to the top of the door, and gazed at two child-like figures. “This is beyond belief. A living piece of perpetual art.”

A new carving began to form.

Mecum cocked his head. “That looks like…me?”

The professor started at the sound of chainsaws. No sooner did he turn his head and three men were cutting at what roots they could reach. “Stop! You’ll kill it.” He looked back at the door. His image was gone. Smaller carvings of vines began to fade.

The door began to creak. The steel started to bow.

“Cole! Call your men off. The roots are the reason for this door’s existence. Keep cutting and we’ll end up with nothing but a huge slab of plain wood.”

Hours later, all the workers and equipment were gone. Only Cole lingered. “Lot of cash for no take-home prize,” he said. Cole walked out to the waiting helicopter.


Professor Mecum stayed, hoping the roots would heal, eager to see if the door would somehow forgive what happened and begin to carve his likeness once again.

Book Review - Top Banana by Kath Middleton

Kath Middleton is one of a select group of authors who will consistently draw me out of my reading comfort zone through top story telling and a real talent for writing. Another aspect that attracts me is that every book she's written has been of a different genre.

In this book she delves into comedy in what is essentially a coming of age for a young man named Steve. Although the book is billed as a comedy it didn't really read that way for me. That's not to say that it isn't funny, there's a dry observational humour prevelent throughout. I mean that it wasn't a laugh out loud type of read.

That didn't matter too much because the story made me smile. The blurb states that it is a feel good story and that is true. The journey of Steve's journey into adulthood and out of his bubble is an engaging one. I enjoyed the conceit of the spider bite and its influence on Steve in the story and it does allow for some of the zanier human, especially in the first half.

My one major complaint about the story is that sometimes the events feel a little convenient. One scene in particular where there is a major heart to heart struck me as both sudden and a bit too easy.  While this isn't my usual type of read I am familiar enough to know that this isn't unique to this book.

So that complaint aside this is a pleasant story and a good read - maybe I should read more uplifting stories more often!

Click on image to buy from image

Take a young man in a dead-end job. Ensure that his hypercritical mother has totally destroyed his self-confidence. Then add a box of bananas. 

Steve Stanley has reason to think he might have acquired a superpower. Unfortunately, he doesn’t yet know what it is. As Steve searches for the (super)hero inside himself, he sets out to prove that he’s not the failure his mother believes. But will the world ever get to see the true Steven Oliver Stanley? 

A feel-good comedy novel from the author of 'Ravenfold' and 'Message in a Bottle'.


Click here to buy Top Banana from Amazon (and it's a delightful read)


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Book Review - Avogadro Corp by William Hertling

I somehow managed to read the second book in the trilogy first and I enjoyed that book a lot. I didn't enjoy this quite as much but it's still a decent read. The subject matter is something which interests me and that's the concept of a technological singularity. If you're not familiar with the concept then it's an idea that technology reaches a point that is beyond our ability to understand and control it. A common cause for such an event is an emergent artificial intelligence which is the core premise of this book.

This book takes the scenario of an emergent intelligence and runs with it. It's a plausible scenario and one that fascinated me. Another aspect I enjoyed was that it took a positive aspect from this emergence rather than the usual apocalyptic one. The technology is well handled in the story and doesn't allow itself to be bogged down in too much detail.

While the technology is well handled I didn't feel as much for the characters. For the most part they lack any depth and seemingly exist purely to progress the plot. If this aspect had been more developed then I'd rate this as an outstanding read rather than just a decent one. It is still worth checking out if the topic interests you.

Click on image to buy from Amazon

David Ryan is the designer of ELOPe, an email language optimization program, that if successful, will make his career. But when the project is suddenly in danger of being canceled, David embeds a hidden directive in the software accidentally creating a runaway artificial intelligence.

David and his team are initially thrilled when the project is allocated extra servers and programmers. But excitement turns to fear as the team realizes that they are being manipulated by an A.I. who is redirecting corporate funds, reassigning personnel and arming itself in pursuit of its own agenda.

WINNER SCIENCE FICTION DIY BOOK FESTIVAL 2011-2012

"Avogadro Corp is a tremendous book that every single person needs to read. In the vein of Daniel Suarez's Daemon and Freedom(TM), William's book shows that science fiction is becoming science fact. Avogadro Corp describes issues, in solid technical detail, that we are dealing with today that will impact us by 2015, if not sooner. Not enough people have read these books. It's a problem for them, but not for the [emergent] machines."
-Brad Feld, managing directory Foundry Group, co-founder Techstars

"Highly entertaining, gripping, thought inspiring book. Don't start without the time to finish - it won't let you go."
-Gifford Pinchot III, founder Bainbridge Graduate Institute, author THE INTELLIGENT ORGANIZATION

"An alarming and jaw-dropping tale about how something as innocuous as email can subvert an entire organization. I found myself reading with a sense of awe, and read it way too late into the night."
-Gene Kim, author of VISIBLE OPS

"A fictional world where Portland is the hub for the most exciting advancements in technology... Jam packed with great references to deep Portland culture...and Portlandia-type references"
-SILICON FLORIST

"Hertling builds a picture of how an AI could emerge, piece by piece, from technology available today. A fascinating, logical, and utterly believable scenario - I just hope nobody tries this at home."
-Nathaniel Rutman, Senior Systems Architect


Click here to buy Avogadro Corp from Amazon (and it's a decent sci-fi read)

Monday, 22 June 2015

Guest Author Interview - Doug Oudin

Doug Oudin joins me in this latest Guest Author Interview to tell us about his novel 'Five Weeks to Jamaica':

Click on image to buy from Amazon

Please introduce yourself - who are you and what do you do?
I grew up in southern California, and lived near the ocean most of my life. In 1978 I moved from Hermosa Beach, Ca. to Catalina Island, and worked and lived there for thirty-two years, most of them as the harbormaster on the West End of the Island.

I am married to a darling woman (37 years), and together we have raised two sons, Trevor and Troy, both of whom are now also mariners.

I am a man of the sea, always have been, and always will be. I held a 100 ton Masters License for thirty years, love to fish, swim, snorkel and do anything that has to do with the sea.

I retired and moved to Grants Pass, Oregon in 2010. I began writing my books after retiring as harbormaster. 

I now play volleyball 4 times per week, softball during the summer, and golf on occasion. My passions are my family, writing, and enjoying life along the way.

What first inspired you to start writing?While living on Catalina, I began writing a weekly article for the local newspaper, the Catalina Islander. I wrote a column 'Between Two Harbors' for twenty-one years. As harbormaster, the column dealt primarily with ocean-related incidents, events, and stories. 

It was always my goal and dream to write a book, and so immediately after retiring, I started my first book, 'Between Two Harbors, Reflections of a Catalina Island Harbormaster'. It was published in late 2013. After it's launch, I started my second book, a seafaring novel entitled 'Five Weeks to Jamaica', which went live two weeks ago.

And where did the idea for 'Five Weeks to Jamaica' come from?
My idea for 'Five Weeks to Jamaica', stemmed from my sea travels to Mexico, Central America, Jamaica, and the Bahamas. Drawing upon my knowledge of those regions, and my cumulative ocean voyages, I wanted to create a fictional story that reflects my love of the sea, and the wonder and impact the ocean can have on boats, and on people. The characters in the story represent mostly my imagination, but also reflect bits and pieces of real-life situations that I have experienced and witnessed during my ocean adventures.

Which book has had the greatest impact on you?
I have to say that Hemingway's 'The Old Man and the Sea' is probably the most inspiring book I have ever read. Because of its simplicity and poignant story line, I think of the old fisherman as an influence that set me on a course to pursue my own seafaring life. Moby Dick was also one of my all time favorites, as was a non-ocean related book; Atlas Shrugged.

Do you have a favourite place in which to write?
While living on the Island, my favorite place to write was my overstuffed chair overlooking Isthmus Cove. With large picture windows with a stunning panorama of the ocean, and Bird Rock and Ship Rock as offshore landmarks, the view was nothing short of spectacular.
Now that I am in Grants Pass, I either work looking out over my backyard, with plum, cherry, peach, and apple trees (plus flower beds) to gaze upon, or in my front room with a vibrant view of the Rogue Valley spread out before me.

What was the last book you read?
My last book read was a Wilbur Smith novel, 'Golden Fox'. I've read most of Wilbur Smith's books, and enjoy him immensely. I'm currently reading the last 'Fifty Shades of Grey' book, and plan to start 'Unbroken' next.

What is your favourite song lyric?
My favorite song lyric is actually a line in a song by Johnny Cash. It's the line in 'Folsom Prison Blues' that states' "I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die'. What an incredibly powerful and bizarre line in a song! 

What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on a life story, planning to collaborate with my surviving brothers and sisters to complete a family history telling of the impact of eight children orphaned in ages from 3 to 17 years of age. The idea is that each of the surviving children will relate their own stories of losing both parents at a tender age, and their respective paths of growth, struggle, and successes in life.

Tell us about 'Five Weeks to Jamaica' and how we can find out more.
 'Five Weeks to Jamaica', is a seafaring novel, laced with some sexual interactions, drama, and personal revelations. It tells of the story of four young adventurers who buy passage on a 'luxury yacht' bound for Jamaica. As soon as they see the 'yacht', the journey takes several unique and unexpected twists when they meet and become acquainted with the other thirty-some passengers who share the 147' motor yacht.

The ensuing journey takes the eclectic group of seafarers on a trip that is both entertaining and challenging, and for some, life-changing. 

It is a vivid view into the world at sea, the wonders of the tropics, and the inexplicable nuances of human nature.

It can be found at Amazon Books, as well as other retail websites. It is available in printable version and on e-book formats. A cover copy summary can be viewed, as well as an excerpt from the book's text.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

July Short Fiction Contest

John Tenniel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
For this month's image I've taken inspiration from one of my favourite stories - Lewis Carroll's 'Through the Looking Glass'. I found this rather curious sketch for the story which I thought would be an ideal image for this month's contest. What do you think the girl is seeing through the looking glass?

As always the stories can be of any genre. They just have to be inspired by this month's image and no more than 500 words.

Entry to the contest remains free and there are prizes for the three winners. I will also feature any of the stories that don't win but I believe are worth showcasing on this blog.
  • First prize is a £50 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize
  • Second prize is a £20 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize
  • Third prize is a £10 Amazon gift card or PayPal prize
The money for 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.

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 August 1st 2015.

As with everything in life there are a few rules:
  • Only one entry per person.
  • The story must not be longer than 500 words.
  • Closing date for submissions is July 26th 2015.
  • By submitting the story you grant me a non-exclusive license to post the story on this blog. I do ask that I post it here first.
  • You also grant me a one time non-exclusive license to include the story in an e-book release.
  • The judge's 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!




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

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Sun Dragon is a Winner!

Well it looks like I sent my invite to vote for Sun Dragon out a bit too late as the winners for the SpaSpa Book Awards 2014 have been announced. That will teach me not to put things off! The good news is that Sun Dragon has won the science-fiction category which is great news. I'm very pleased with that result, especially as I was up against some excellent competition.

I was also pleased to see that some of my favourite indie authors placed amongst the winners. You can see the winning books on the awards page here:

http://bookhippo.uk/awards/


2012: NASA's Curiosity Rover lands on Mars to search for signs of whether microbial life existed on the planet.
2018: The first alien lifeform, a simple wormlike creature is discovered, gripping the world's imagination.
2022: The first manned mission to Mars begins the longest and most dangerous journey ever undertaken by humankind.
From hundreds of potential candidates, six astronauts from countries around the world are selected to crew the historic mission. Led by Commander Samantha Collins, they must travel across the gulf of interplanetary space, over 150 million miles from home and help. Their mission is to investigate alien life, but what they discover is far beyond what anyone ever imagined...

Review Highlights
"The crew went to Mars to find a small worm, evidence of life outside of earth. What they found was amazing. I love this premise and the uncompromising way it played out for the rest of the book."

"At the very end, there is one description that is so stunning that it left me with a great sadness, but also with a great sense of beauty and hope, and it is what Sun Dragon is, really. Look beyond the words, read the book with your imagination."

"I thoroughly enjoyed this. The level of detail about space flight is astounding and for someone, like me, who has fantasised about being an astronaut since I was a lad it's riveting."

Buy now from Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/ZRrQ5v
Buy now from Amazon (UK): http://amzn.to/12zV5eX

Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheCultofMe

The Damned Thing by Chad Lutze

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons Author - Shubi
Chad Lutze's 'The Damned Thing' won third prize in September 2014's Short Fiction Contest.

The Damned Thing by Chad Lutze



I bound the damned thing tightly; hopefully for the last time, though I could not rid my room of it and, there was the matter of “just in case.”  A plethora of perfumes emitted from each page even with it shut, flooding my mind with an extraordinary lust for more.  During these episodes, when I would finally get a hold of myself, I often found my eyes rolled backward; overtaken by an unexplainable ecstasy.  Because the words elude me, I will end the attempt to describe it here.  

My collection of their perfume-scented clothing is harmless.  My voyeuristic viewing from afar would be perceived as a perversion by most but would keep me from imprisonment as long as I was careful.  It was the book of names and addresses that could ultimately cause the death of the whores were I to open it again.  The book has become cumbersome, and I fear I can no longer keep the pages together.   

Marked in red, my favorites reside in the district of Whitechapel.  In blue I marked routine police routes.  Getting caught is not an option.  I would take every precaution necessary, though if I were to give in to my desires I would surely participate in taunting the district police.  Perhaps I’ll even send them pages from the very book I struggle to keep closed.  Ha!  If only I could watch them as they struggle to find me.  

As I write, the attraction grows.  Perhaps tonight I will give in to my urges.  I’ve prepared the jars for trophies.  Through my studies, I've become somewhat obsessed with human anatomy.  Perhaps closer examination of their internal organs would give me a greater understanding of life, of medicine...of women.  This next statement to be said without pun, but perhaps stopping the whores from their infestation, while furthering my invaluable research, would kill two birds with but a single stone.  Do I manipulate myself into the slaughtering of the broads using my scientific examinations as justification?  Am I feeding science or a demon of murderous lust?  If I begin will I be able to stop?  

My written entry this evening has stirred within me a temptation I can no longer resist.  I will open the pages of the damned thing and hunt for the first name penned in red.  The cobblestone streets will collect the blood spilled tonight, and though they will pursue after me, they will find me not, for Jack is nimble and Jack is quick, and the throat of the dresses my razor will nick.

Arbow's Notebook by Kath Middleton

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons Author - Shubi

Kath Middleton's 'Arbow's Notebook' won second place in September 2014's Short Fiction Contest.

Arbow's Notebook by Kath Middleton



You could say this is my diary although I have never written in it. 

I fell in with a man of science by the name of David Arbow. We were both acolytes of John Dee’s, a man who sat upon the boundary between science and magic. These days he is thought of as a magician and an occultist although when we first knew him he was concerned with communicating with angels. It was through this cabalistic angel magic and his beliefs that man has the capability of divine power that David Arbow came under his influence.

Contrary to common belief, Dee was a devout Christian and a gifted mathematician and his reputation for black magic is not founded in reality. Arbow, however, loved the idea of communicating with angels, most particularly with those angels who fell, along with Lucifer, when challenging the Divine One for power. He felt that if he could speak to these entities, steal a little of the power they surely possessed, he himself would rise above his fellow men. His arrogance refused to let him consider anything else.

He had nowhere near the calibre of mind which his hero possessed. He would sit with Dee while the latter performed calculations, nodding and seemingly sharing the journey of learning with him, but he was floundering along the wayside. Without the Master he was lost. Nevertheless, he had accumulated a certain cachet amongst Dee’s other hangers-on and sought to reap financial rewards through this reputation.

We were all in awe of John Dee’s mind and the things of which he was capable. Most of us were content to study with him and in all honesty, we struggled to follow in his wake, let alone keep up with him. Those of a more esoteric frame of mind would try to emulate his scrying techniques and attempt to contact spirits and even angelic beings by use of an Aztec artefact – an obsidian scrying mirror. 

Doctor Dee would occasionally allow those of us of lesser talents to attempt to see with this device but I have to confess, I saw nothing. Arbow let it be known that he could contact heavenly beings and also lost souls, adrift in a void and looking for the way into celestial bliss. Dee was interested and gave Arbow special attention, though the rest of us believed he was being fooled by a cunning man of lesser talents.

Dee encouraged Arbow to make copious notes in a diary. He suggested he should note the days on which he made the contacts, the results of his ‘conversations’ with the angelic forms and even the weather conditions prevalent at the time. He told Arbow that the diary must be a special book and that it should never be used for anything else. It was the key to heaven.

It was to me. It is made from my skin.

The Book of Remembrance by David Turnball

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons Author - Shubi

David Turnball's story 'The Book of Remembrance' won September 2014's Short Fiction Contest.

The Book of Remembrance by David Turnball



The population of my village was amongst the first selected for extermination. Our oppressor wanted to send out a strong and unequivocal message that left no one in any doubt about what they were capable of.

We were given no warning. The trucks came at dawn. In addition to their weapons the soldiers brought with them their dreaded Book of Remembrance. We had heard of this book. It was designed to consolidate the message. 

It was presented on a red cushion, as if it was something sacred. Each section of the book contained the name of a village. Each page following each section contained three columns – name, date of birth and date of execution.

Before they faced the trauma of the firing squad each villager was to be compelled to write down their name and date of birth. If couldn’t write there were military clerks to whom you could dictate your details. Their Central Command had predetermined the date of execution and therefore this column was already complete. 

By the time they came to our village two other sections had been filled. Two entire villages wiped from existence, the men, the women, the children, only remembered from names entered on the lists.

The oppressor wanted the victims of their genocide to be more than just cold statistics. They wanted these Books of Remembrance to be read by the surviving populace. To them a coldly calculated remembrance of lives so easily extinguished was in itself was an act of subjugation. 

They wanted us to be real because perceived reality increases the level of terror. They wanted the same dreadful thoughts to be ingrained in everyone’s mind. ‘The same thing could happen to me.’ They hoped to instil a level of fear that was sufficient to ensure an unfaltering subservience.

I heard each person before me forced to read out what they had written into the book, name and date of birth – date of execution punctuated by the shock of a single gunshot. I heard the wailing of the women and the children. A wilful calmness settled over me. When it came my turn I took the book and ran.

I was always the fastest runner in my village. I dodged their bullets. I ran deep into the forest. I ran high into the hills. A helicopter gunship came searching for me, sweeping low over the crags and gullies. But I knew the hills too well.

I watched my village burn. I watched the departure of the trucks in slow serpentine convey. I watched the smoke fill the red sky at sunset. Knowing that the empty cushion would be interpreted as a defiant act filled me with determination. I placed the tip of my pencil onto one of the empty pages.

And there began the Book of Resistance.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Book Review - I See the Devil by Cyma Rizwaan Khan

It appears that this book is no longer available to purchase - which is a shame because it's not a bad read by any means, and with some tidy up would be a decent one. The story is an apocalyptic tale of the Devil and the Antichrist, but it's quite a personal tale considering that backdrop. The blend of insanity and Satan's plan is an interesting one, but is something that could have been developed further.

The plot is solid, although there is a section near the end that I felt detracted from the story overall. Up until that point it had been quite tight, with few characters and suddenly expanded. While it's usually worth seeing what the other side are up and does raise the question of what actually is evil, it detracted from the core story.

Another issue is that the text could have done with another edit pass. It's not a major complaint, but there were just enough errors to be noticeable. Those issues aside this was an entertaining read. There's a good touch of the darkness in here and it's well paced and for the most part well crafted.



Insanity goes deeper than the soul. At least that's what 27 year old Jeremy Pearce is beginning to experience. He sees the devil; a devil who is hell-bent on bringing down the apocalypse.
Will Jeremy be able to save the world before it's too late?

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Drabbles of Art - Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette by Vincent van Gogh


I couldn't write a series of drabbles about art without visiting Vincent van Gogh's work. I did have something in mind for sunflowers but when I saw this lesser known work the drabble popped into my head.

If you've not read the previous drabbles in the series then you will find them all here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/as-promised-in-last-weeks-final-post-in.html


Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette by Vincent van Gogh

There aren’t many pleasures that the dead can enjoy as they once did while alive. It is true that a precious few can be relived before the body degenerates too far, but when only bones remain what possible satisfaction can there be?

I have no lungs so I cannot inhale, but I can remember. All too easily I recall the ritual from a lifetime’s habit. The smoke curls inside a mouth no longer flesh and the imagined exhale brings contentment and also no small irony in the fact that this smoke was how I lost my lungs in the first place.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Drabbles of the Gods - Igaluk

"Polarlicht" by United States Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Strangg
In this week's Drabble of the Gods we journey to the far north and the frigid cold of the Arctic. Here we learn the tradition of why the Moons chases the Sun.

You can read the previous drabbles in the series here:

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

Igaluk

With forbidden love Igaluk gazed upon his sister Malina. Succumbing to his improper desire he forced his lust upon her. During the second attack she marked her attacker with soot from the lamps.

Discovering the identity of her assailant she cut off her breasts and offered them to him. She fled and Igaluk gave chase. He followed her blood trail with ease until he slipped and as he fell the flame of his torch was extinguished, yet still the glow remained.

The pursuit continued until with such speed they entered the sky and he as the Moon followed the Sun.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Book Review - Black Hole Butterfly by Salem

One of the reasons I enjoy science fiction so much is that at its very best it tackles big questions and in this book it dives into one of the greats in a battle for control of reality itself. This provides a grand backdrop for the story but also the mechanism for how the plot evolves.

The book has a bit of a tech noir feel to it with advanced technology fitting into an almost familiar narrative (to start with anyway) for a lone detective. This early feel is important as it dips you into what turns out to be a very strange world.

The quantum nature of the reality of the worlds in which the story lives are both a superb part of the story, but also it's one real weakness. It can be tricky read to follow what's going on in places and more than once I had to re-read a section to make sure I understood it correctly. I don't mind being made to work at a book, but it could put some readers off. However that is more than adequately compensated by the splendour of the worlds and the interesting connections and contrasts it provides.

The characters are also interesting and provide useful signposts in the different realities. As with the worlds themselves they aren't necessarily what they seem and the mystery builds until the end. I'm usually pretty food at predicting endings, but this one kept me guessing all the way through.

So this book has shot straight into my favourite reads for this year so far. It's just the sort of esoteric sci-fi that I love. It's well written, with developed characters and good pacing. It delves into some fascinating technology and plays with some cool concepts in an imaginative way. Highly recommended.

Click on image to buy from Amazon

Detective Rook Black is having a tough time solving crime in a New York City where reality is traded on the black market by the mysterious quantum butcher, Jack the Butterfly. While following an assassin's trail through Chinatown, space and time begin to overwrite. A reality storm lashes Manhattan. Overnight, crocodile wrestling becomes a deadly sport, synthetic sex with Egyptian gods is the norm, and the reigning solar power Empire believes Shakespeare authors their universe.They believe if his works are destroyed, the universe will end. The Empire will do anything to protect his legacy, but their enemy, Gasland, wants to annihilate it. It is the beginning of a reality war. When the sky rains ink and paper turns into butterflies Rook soon realizes he's much, much more than a private eye. He is the eye of the reality storm.

Click here to buy Black Hole Butterfly from Amazon (and it's an incredible sci-fi read)

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Last Week to Enter June's Short Fiction Contest

By Cyberjunkie (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
We've entered the final week of June's Short Fiction Contest. This month's image of an amazing door has already inspired some wonderful stories. What do you think might be behind such a door? If you know then write a story of no more than 500 words and submit your story through the form on the contest page here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/june-short-fiction-contest.html

There's no entry fee and the winning story will receive a £50 Amazon or PayPal prize. There are prizes for second and third place winners too.

The contest attracts excellent stories each month and if you haven't read the winning stories from May's competition yet then you can rea them here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/may-short-fiction-contest-winners.html

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Drabbles of the Gods - Malingee

By Sardaka 11:58, 13 December 2007 (UTC) (Own work)
In this week's Drabble of the Gods we journey to the Australian outback and learn of the dreaded Malingee from Aboriginal folklore.

You can read the previous drabbles in the series here:

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

Malingee

All who walk the dream know of the Malingee. They dwell in the bush and avoid our presence. We should rejoice when they do. All should fear the sound of stone scraping from their knees as they stalk in the night.

Upon hearing that sound you must run. If you don’t then the noise draws ever closer until suddenly it stops. In the shadow of the sun’s hiding you see just the smouldering coals of their eyes.

And if you still don’t flee then the last thing you’ll feel is the razor sharp stone as it plunges through your heart.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Book Review - Peeler by Gord Rollo

I picked this up on a recommendation and it was a good choice. I'm a fan of short stories and this work's well as a short tale, although I would have liked just a bit more meat on the bones. In this case the blurb possibly gives a bit too much away as it gives you the bare bones for most of the story. There's more detail of course and the author adds the layers well with a crisp style. The story is short enough that I read it in about 20 minutes and I enjoyed it all the way through.

As I mentioned at the start the story could have handled more detail. I would have happily read more about the main characters and the contrast between the two contrasting motives for self-mutilation. Not so much that I felt short changed, but more could easily have been added.

The ending is a bit enigmatic and there was a revelation here that definitely could have been expanded upon as there was a mythos here and that passes by with barely and detail or explanation. It works well in the context of the story, but again my curiosity would liked to have a bit more satisfaction.

In summary it's a decent horror story, with a quick pace and well written. Well worth checking out.

Click on image to buy from Amazon

Randy Baxter is an aspiring chef who dreams of better days ahead. He's come to work as part of the kitchen staff at Ashbury Creek Asylum, a federally funded institution for the criminally insane. Randy's not crazy but he does harbor a past filled with psychological issues including the need to cut himself to make the memories of his abusive childhood go away. When he learns about the man they call Peeler, a long term resident at Ashbury who has a severe problem with self-mutilation, all of Randy's anxieties start to rise to the surface again.

Determined to overcome his inner demons once and for all, he manipulates a face to face meeting with Peeler but as with all things, there's a price to pay. To see one of the most violent, disturbed men ever to be imprisoned in the maximum security asylum Randy must bring Peeler a small gift. Something no one in their right mind would even think of giving him.

A shiny new razor blade...

Click here to buy Peeler from Amazon (and it's a decent horror short story)

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Two Weeks Left to Enter June's Short Fiction Contest

By Cyberjunkie (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
With only two week's left in June's Short Fiction Contest you don't have much time left if you want to enter. And it's easy to enter. The hard part is to write a story of no more than 500 words based on this month's image of a door I's love to own. It's free to enter the contest and your story can be of any genre as long as it relates to the image in some way.

Submit your story through the form on the contest page here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/june-short-fiction-contest.html

The winning story will receive a £50 Amazon or PayPal prize and there's prizes for second and third place winners too.

If you've not read the winning stories from May's contest yet then you can read them here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/may-short-fiction-contest-winners.html

And make sure to share them with your friends!

Book Review - The Red Church by Scott Nicholson

I like a decent horror story and this is a good one. The bare bones of the story is a familiar one of ancient evil pitted against a few locals.While at the core it might seem familiar there are enough nuances and ideas to make it feel fresh. I especially liked the idea of the two sons - it's a nice twist on the antichrist.

The flow of the story also works well, with key events from various times in the past providing the foundations of the show down. There's a good blend of perspectives from the core characters, almost too good and that ditracts from them a little. That's a minor gripe though as they fit together well.

My only other issue is that the ending felt a bit abrupt considering the build up and also a little convenient in how it comes together. The journey to that point is fantastic though and the author has a real talent for crafting his words. On more than a few occasions I paused to re-read a line or a paragraph.

Overall it's an excellent horror read with decent pacing and well written prose. One worth checking out for fans of the genre.

Click on image to buy from Amazon

The church was constructed in the 1860s under the guidance of Reverend Wendell McFall. His sermons declared the existence of God s Second Son- whose mission is to undo all of Jesus work on Earth. McFall had the church painted red to summon the First Son to defeat the Second. But when he sacrificed a child to support his rantings, his congregation hung him from the
rafters of his own sanctuary...

For twenty years, the red church has stood empty. Crumbling to ruin, it has become a site for Halloween pranks and the setting for ghost stories- including one about the thing that lives in the bell tower, a creature being blamed for a brutal murder that occurred in the church s graveyard...

Now, Archer McFall has purchased the church to house his Temple of the Two Sons, whose zealous worshippers will stop at nothing to see the Second Son return to his rightful glory...

Click here to buy The Red Church from Amazon (and it's an excellent horror read!)

Monday, 1 June 2015

Sun Dragon Shortlisted Twice in the SpaSpa 2014 Book Awards

I'm very pleased to announce that Sun Dragon has been shortlisted twice in the 2014 SpaSpa Book Awards. It's listed in the Science Fiction and Best Cover sections. There's some other great reads listed. Check out the short lists here:

http://bookhippo.uk/awards/shortList2014.php

If you haven't read Sun Dragon yet then here are the full details:


2012: NASA's Curiosity Rover lands on Mars to search for signs of whether microbial life existed on the planet.
2018: The first alien lifeform, a simple wormlike creature is discovered, gripping the world's imagination.
2022: The first manned mission to Mars begins the longest and most dangerous journey ever undertaken by humankind.
From hundreds of potential candidates, six astronauts from countries around the world are selected to crew the historic mission. Led by Commander Samantha Collins, they must travel across the gulf of interplanetary space, over 150 million miles from home and help. Their mission is to investigate alien life, but what they discover is far beyond what anyone ever imagined...

Review Highlights
"The crew went to Mars to find a small worm, evidence of life outside of earth. What they found was amazing. I love this premise and the uncompromising way it played out for the rest of the book."

"At the very end, there is one description that is so stunning that it left me with a great sadness, but also with a great sense of beauty and hope, and it is what Sun Dragon is, really. Look beyond the words, read the book with your imagination."

"I thoroughly enjoyed this. The level of detail about space flight is astounding and for someone, like me, who has fantasised about being an astronaut since I was a lad it's riveting."

Buy now from Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/ZRrQ5v
Buy now from Amazon (UK): http://amzn.to/12zV5eX

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New Drabble - A Sight to Remember

"2012-11-23 16-05-52-grande-cascade-tendon" by Thomas Bresson
A new drabble of mine was featured in a BookHippo newsletter over the weekened. I've copied it below and if you'd like to read some of my other drabbles then you'll find them here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/100-word-stories.html

A Sight to Remember

The dream is the same every night. I’m sat on the side of a mountain and up above the sky is clear blue with the odd wisp of cloud. The sun feels strong on my face, cooled by the soft breeze carrying the voice of the world.

The mountains form the spine upon which a lush green carpet is draped. A river meanders through the valley, fed by streams sparkling in their stumble down the mountainside.

I understand that this vision will be the last thing I will see. And you know what? I could enjoy this view for eternity.

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