Thursday 27 February 2014

Thursday Tune - Jeff Waynes Musical Version of The War of the Worlds

I'm cheating a little in this week's Thursday Tune (and only the second week as well!), the idea of the feature was to pick specific songs, but instead I'm going to pick an album that has been a favourite of mine for many years and if I chose specific songs it would fill the feature for many weeks.

The Song

Picking a song to represent this marvelous album is a tricky choice as there's quite a few classic tunes on there. In the end I picked Thundershild as it represents the mood of the story well and features an old ironclad, it's a song of bravery and loss that has me singing along every time :-)

The artwork for this in the album is also fantastic (in fact the artwork generally is pretty cool). I've included a YouTube link to the song, but if you haven't already heard the album yet then you owe it to yourself to buy yourself a copy right now.

Speaking of which...

The Album
Click on the image to purchase from Amazon

Picking a song to feature might have been difficult but selecting this as an album to talk about was a no-brainer, I've loved this album since the days of a misspent youth and along with Pink Floyd's The Wall (they will feature in a future Thursday Tune) this was my listened to album for a long time.

This album has eberything going for it, the story is great (I re-read the book recently and had the songs playing in my head while doing so) with characters that really come to life in the songs. The range of voices really makes it one stand out and Richard Burton's narration is simply superb.

While it's very much a product of its time iand therefore comes with a generous helping of cheese that just adds to its charm. I've also seen the live show and it was incredible, it's a lot of fun and just being there with the giant war machine was excellent. You can get the show on DVD and Blu-ray (in fact I haven't seen the latest one with Liam Neeson so I've just ordered myself a copy, you can do the same here), but you should really see it live, they seem to do a new set of dates each year so keep your eyes open for them.

I have to say that the giant floating Richard Burton face was a bit freaky though :-)

About the Band

The show has seen a number of cast changes over the years and I found it interesting watching the live show with different singers (although some were still there like Justin Haywood) and what new aspects they brought to the role. As I've already said I haven't seen the latest version with Liam Neeson, but I've heard good things about it and it's on it's way to me!

No matter who has been involved the show has the same fantastic story and music, an album that I've listened to thousands of times and will no doubt listen to as many times more.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Guest Author Interview - Jody Summers

In today's guest author interview we are joined by Jody Summers, find out 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?
I'm Jody Summers and I'm an author, at least that is my passion. I'm also an entrepreneur, a pilot, a martial artist and 100 other things that my curiosity has led me to over the years. It's a background that has left me with plenty of experiences to write about.

What first inspired you to start writing?
I have written poetry all my life and took creative writing in college. I had no idea that I might write novels someday, I just knew that I enjoyed writing. The inspiration to write novels came from a single experience which I'll detail shortly.

Which author do you most admire and why?
Dean Koontz. His bizarre tales and extraordinary wit have delighted me for years and in part it was his books that got me thinking. "I could do this."

What attracted you to writing a psychological thriller?
Being as my favorite author is Dean Koontz it might be obvious that I was drawn to psychological thrillers. BUT the spark was meeting a lovely lady on an internet date in California who was actually creating paintings using the ashes of the deceased(cremains). The idea ensnared me but it was another month before another dear friend suggested it would be a good idea for a novel. I gasped when she said it and started writing the next day. I haven't stopped since.

What do you bring that's new to the genre?
For one, I have never heard of anyone writing about someone creating tribute paintings with cremains and what the ramifications could be. It is an intriguing concept all by itself. Secondly, I feel as though I have a unique voice when I write. I change perspective frequently to add intensity to the characters, another feature I haven't seen done before.

Every writer loves a good review, what has been your favourite so far?
A year or so ago I had a review from the entertainment editor for a Lubbock Texas newspaper, William Kern. He raved on my book and said not to pick it up if you didn't have a lot of time because you wouldn't be putting it back down anytime soon.

What was the last book you read?
It was Running Blind by Lee Child. I'm currently reading Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently marketing Dark Canvas, promoting the upcoming sequel, The Mask Maker, and working on the first draft of the second sequel.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
The Mask Maker is due to be released in January 2014. You can find out more about my work at

Click here to purchase Dark Canvas from Amazon

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Tuesday Tease - Terror at White Otter Castle by Bonnie Ferrante

In this week's Tuesday Tease we have the opening chapter from Bonnie Ferrante's 'Terror at White Otter Castle', take a look below:
Click on image to purchase from Amazon

Terror at White Otter Castle
Bonnie Ferrante

Chapter One

As the canoes threaded through the yellowing lily pads and marsh grass, an uneasy silence fell upon the paddlers. Ahead loomed White Otter Castle, the mysterious hundred-year-old monstrosity hidden away in isolated northern Ontario wilderness.  The presence of the long-departed James Alexander McOuat pressed down upon the group as they neared the disintegrating structure. Grey logs with missing chinking, vanished shingles, gaping empty windows, and a partially collapsed awning spoke of decay, loss, and neglect.

It was late on the third afternoon of their canoe trip when the group reached the forlorn castle of broken dreams. Laurel, Aster, and Beth were suitably impressed. It was more imposing than its pictures, a massive log building remote by even northern standards. Built by hand by a single man in 1914, there were still no roads leading to its isolated site. It could only be reached by float plane, boat, canoe, helicopter, four—wheeled drive, or, in winter, by snowmobile. The otherworldliness of the log castle emphasized that they were far, far away from civilization as they knew it.

All the canoes stopped as the occupants gazed on this bizarre structure in the middle of nowhere. The plop plop of the paddles ceased. A light breeze swayed the leaves on the deciduous trees on shore and created small waves on the clear empty lake. Overhead, a turkey vulture circled silently.

Three red roofs contrasted vividly with the green foliage of trembling aspen, white birch, white ash, cedar, and spruce trees. A long red-roofed open porch/awning sheltered three dark doorways into the decrepit main building, which was also red-roofed. But what was most startling was the four-storey square tower in the back corner, facing the lake, seemingly transposed from the secluded Scottish highlands. One could imagine an imprisoned princess gazing out over the lake and woods or a mad poet pacing in frustration.

"Hold the canoe still," cried Aster. She took off her sunglasses and set them on top of her large straw hat. "I want to get some photos from the lake."

Matt, the handsome, blond stranger Aster had been partnered with, steadied the canoe by laying his paddle flat on the surface of the water. Aster pulled out her camera and shot several angles. Then she turned the camera on Matt and snapped two more. Her black wavy hair contrasted beautifully with her smooth, pale skin. Her face belonged in a Renoir painting.

"Oh, brother," said Beth as she resumed and paddled past with Laurel in the stern. "It's not enough she's got a gorgeous boyfriend at home, she has to hit on her canoe partner too."

"Sh," said Laurel. "She's just taking pictures. That's what she does."

"Right," said Beth. "She's going to add shots of hot Matt to her portfolio."

"Why not?" snapped Laurel.  "He is photogenic."

"Uh huh."

The guides, Rebekkah and Steve, resumed paddling first. They led the canoes toward the landing through floating arrowhead. No one spoke as the three canoes touched the bank. The canoeists in the bows jumped onto the shore, pulled the canoes up onto the pebbly beach, and held the vessels while the paddlers in the stern made their way carefully along the keel and onto land. Together they hauled the craft further up the beach.

Laurel was first to break the silence. "Jimmy McOuat didn't build the red roofs." She tucked a strand of bright auburn hair behind her ear. "They were put on by the Ministry of Natural Resources in the 1950s to stop the castle from decaying away. Although it looks in pretty rough shape, there have been attempts to stop it from falling apart."

Beth, a wide-shouldered strong woman with short, wiry brown hair, nodded absently. She rubbed the back of her neck, trying to smooth out the small hairs that had risen at the sight of the weird castle.
Even without the red roofs, the castle would have been a marvel for its time. What would possess a man to build a monstrosity so far away from any community with only himself to rattle around in its large, lonely rooms? And what was the purpose of the odd tower?

Beth shivered as a small silhouette with a floppy hat appeared in the top tower window and just as quickly disappeared. The guides had said tourist season was pretty much over. The long weekend at the beginning of September was their slowest time. She could see no campsite on the shore, and no canoe pulled up on the bank. The shadow must have been a trick of the light.

"All right," called Aster as she resumed paddling. "Let's bring her in and check this colossal out. I can't wait to get some shots up close. This is phenomenal."

Beth rolled her eyes. This was only the middle of the third day of their trip and she was already longing to go home. She'd had enough of chirpy little Aster.

* * * * *

Laurel was tired of playing referee. It had been Laurel's idea to go on a five day wilderness canoe trip before the three friends went their separate ways after graduating. She, Aster, and Beth had been best friends since grade one when they formed "The Power Triangle", their protection against bullies or cliques. The idea had come to them when their teacher explained that triangles were the strongest shapes. Whenever one shouted out the cry, "Triangle Power", the other two were honour bound to come to her rescue, whatever the situation. Other students soon learned that to take on one of the girls really meant taking on all three. Laurel was the negotiator. Aster could verbally strip bark off a tree. And Beth was the enforcer. So how had things gone so wrong?

This last year of high school had been darkened by squabbles and resentment. Beth was barely speaking to Aster and Aster seemed bewildered and sad. Laurel, stuck in the middle, feared that once they went their separate ways, a thirteen year friendship would disintegrate. In a desperate hope to mend things, she convinced the other two to join her on a five day canoe trip to the wilderness.

So far the trip had been pretty cool and everyone had been looking forward to White Otter Castle. Beth and Aster didn't speak as they paddled and portaged, but being in separate canoes would have made it difficult anyway. Perhaps Laurel should have gone with Matt and forced the others together. Without teamwork, it was pretty impossible to get anywhere in a canoe.

As Laurel untied and carried her packsack and sleeping bag up onto the open space in front of the castle, she glanced toward the century-old structure. The empty black windows seemed to stare back at her. Maybe she should have read less about its creator's difficult life and sad, lonely death.

After a dinner of tuna, bannock, and carrots prepared by the guides, Rebekkah and Steve, everyone helped set up camp. Beth, Aster, and Laurel had one tent. Rebekkah and Steve shared one. Maxine, a woman in her mid-thirties, and her older husband Ted, shared another. Matt, Maxine's younger brother, had his own pup-tent.

"Make sure all your food, soap, and anything that might attract bears is in your packsacks," said Steve, as he had the last two nights.

"I know," said Laurel. "Tie it high in a tree away from the tents."

She tried not to notice Matt helping Aster with hers. The girl couldn't help being short after all.
Laurel used cocoa butter cream on her sore hands before tucking it into the sack. Paddling was giving her blisters on her palms in addition to sore shoulders. She spent too much time with books and not enough time challenging her body.

She watched Beth toss the rope over the limb with the first shot and pull the heavy pack up without any strain. The muscles in her bare arms flexed. Beth did most of the work paddling, but she hadn't complained. It might have been a different story if Beth had been matched with Aster.

Three days of paddling and portaging had taken its toll. It was time to chillax. Laurel read her e-book while Aster continued to photograph the structure and surroundings as the evening light changed.

"Don't go inside," warned Steve. "Boards could come down on you at any second. The stairs have rotted and most of the floors are gone. One wrong step and we'll have to telephone for a Medivac. That doesn't look good on our website."

"Alrighty," called Aster as she flopped down on her stomach, rolled over, and shot several angles of the tower.

 Beth, a competitive swimmer and diver who would be attending Boston University next week on an athletic scholarship, swam in the cool lake as the setting sun turned the water into liquid gold. She was unaware that several of Aster's photographs caught her silhouetted against the gleaming lake.

Laurel watched Aster pause, as though admiring Beth's smooth strokes through the water. Was Aster oblivious to how much Beth's feelings had changed toward her? Or did she even care? Out here, cut off from the rest of the world, under the shadow of that creepy castle, was not the place to cut loose your friends.

Click here to purchase and read the rest of Terror at White Otter Castle from Amazon

About Bonnie Ferrante

Bonnie Ferrante's work has appeared in various children’s and adult magazines and anthologies. She is a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist lay leader and was a grade school teacher. Her first three novels were published by Noble Romance Publishing. In 2014, her next book will be published by Tradewind Books in Vancouver. Bonnie lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. She loves to chant, bike, garden, read, stitch, volunteer, create visual art, and attend live theatre. She hates cooking and cleaning and loves her robot vacuum, (too bad it can’t move the furniture).

Book Impressions - Below Mercury by Mark Anson

Like many established genres science fiction comes in a variety of flavours (I may be getting confused with ice-cream!) and this book is firmly in the hard sci-fi camp, however don't let this put you off as it's also a cracking story. Reading it you can tell that the author has done his research and it all feels plausible, however knowledge alone doesn't make a good book.

The story concerns a terrible mining tragedy on the planet Mercury killing hundreds of people, the families claim that the investigation was a cover up by the corporation who owned the mine. After years of legal battles they manage to get the investigation re-opened and a team is sent to Mercury to find out what really happened.

It's an interesting story and the writer does a reasonably good job of balancing the technical details with the human side of the story. Occasionally he gets the balance wrong, but not enough to spoil the story. I had a couple of other issues with the book, the first was that I was hoping for something a little more surprising, although it is fitting with the tone of the story, I did feel it was a bit dry.

My other issue was that the ending felt abrupt, it does come to a satidfactory conclusion, but the last scene leaves it open for more, but is rather sudden. Still I enjoyed reading this a lot and is well worth checking out if you enjoy more serious science fiction and it's telling that I have immediately purchased the prequel to read more of the author's work.
Click on image to purchase from Amazon

KINDLE EXCLUSIVE second edition - includes bonus chapter and additional material.

Mercury – closest planet to the Sun. In the permanent darkness of Chao Meng-fu crater lie vast fields of ice that that have never seen the Sun, and the ruins of Erebus Mine, abandoned and forgotten after a devastating explosion that claimed the lives of 257 people. After an eight-year legal battle, the relatives of the victims have finally succeeded in forcing the Space Accidents Board to reopen its investigation. Matt Crawford, a mine engineer who escaped the disaster, joins a team sent back to the mine to discover the true cause of the accident. The team is led by Clare Foster, a pilot in the U.S. Astronautics Corps, who has taken on the mission in the hope of rebuilding her career after a near-miss incident.

But powerful forces are determined that what lies hidden in the mine will never be uncovered, and have taken steps to ensure that the mission team will never return. Stranded on Mercury, the team are divided by internal conflict, and a growing realisation of what really happened in the mine. Soon Matt and Clare are thrown together in a desperate race for survival against an implacable enemy that will not rest until it has killed them all …

This second Kindle edition includes updated background material on Mercury, an excerpt from the newly-released prequel Acid Sky, and a Kindle Exclusive bonus chapter. Featuring updated line drawings and maps, a highly detailed background story, and magnificent visions of the Sun's innermost planet, Below Mercury sets new standards for the science fiction thriller.

Click here to purchase Below Mercury from Amazon (and it is an excellent sci-fi read)

Monday 24 February 2014

Competition Shout Out - Word Branch Sci-Fi Anthology 2015

Word Branch are compiling an Anthology of science fiction short stories for release in 2015 and are looking for submissions. You can find out all the details on their website:

Guest Author Interview - Joseph Mackey

Joseph Mackey joins us for today's guest author interview, you can find out what he has to say about his writing below:

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Joseph Mackey and I am first and foremost a writer. Currently looking for work in the New Jersey area.

What first inspired you to start writing?
I was inspired to write when I heard a joke about a man on a Tri Rail train have an unfortunate incident involving his suitcase and a toilet.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history who would it be and why?
I would spend a day with President Obama. I would want to see what being in political office is really like.

What was the last book you read?
I am currently reading LOTR Part 3 it is amazing.

Are you planner, or do you prefer to dive straight into writing?
I started diving right in with FOOLS! and it worked out very well. However, in a different book that I started I did this and it did not turn out well. So I do both.

What is your favourite song lyric?
"I've got time to think about my past as I dodge between the bullets". - The Ballad of Barry Allen Jim's Big Ego.

What is it about your writing that stands out against the competition?
It is more entertaining.

What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, just advancing my first book, though I do have another book I would like to work on soon.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
I can be found on

Sunday 23 February 2014

March Short Fiction Contest

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

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

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

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

Last month's scary clown inspired a decent collection of horror stories, this month we have a less obviously horror inspiration with a mysterious African mask, I'm already looking forward to the stories this image will inspire.

As always, thanks to everyone who has entered and a big thank you to everyone who has supported the contest. Please continue that support by sharing the link to this contest wherever you can, it's much appreciated!

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 April 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 March 23rd 2013.
  4. By submitting the story you grant me a non-exclusive license to use it. I'll only post the winning entries.
  5. You also grant me a one time non-exclusive license to include the story in an e-book release.
  6. The judges decision is final.
Use the form below to enter your submission. After you've submitted please leave a comment on this page stating that you have submitted. And please help spread the word. I'm working to make this a regular feature so I need readers for the stories as well as entrants.
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!


Goodreads (UK Amazon kindle Forum group):


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

Book Shout Out - Off the KUF Volume 3

It's a week of great new releases, today sees the third Off the Kuf anthology released and it includes some of my favourite indie authors. I've bought my copy and I hope you'll buy yours!

Click cover to purchase from Amazon

Off the KUF Volume 3 is an anthology of novellas, guaranteed to appeal to readers of all genres! 

This book brings together six novellas into one 125,000-word collection. Each contains narratives of more depth and richness than a short story could handle, while delivering a punchier impact than a full-length novel. No matter what your tastes, there is plenty here to engage your imagination. 

Volume 3 is edited by David Wailing and the contributing authors are Cecilia Peartree, Carl Ashmore, Nigel Bird, Jonathan Hill, David Wailing and Jennifer Hanning. The front cover is by Katie Stewart at Magic Owl Designs. 

If you enjoy this anthology, look out for Off the KUF Volume 1 and Volume 2, available now! 

The Off the KUF trilogy of anthologies is brought to you by the Kindle Users Forum (KUF). All proceeds from ebook sales are used to maintain the forum. Join us at

Click here to purchase Off the Kuf Volume 3 from Amazon (and there's some great indie authors featured)

Saturday 22 February 2014

Film Review - The Collector

From the start I thought that someone had obviously watched Saw and decided that it wasn't mental enough, amusingly it turns out that this was written by the same people that did the later Saw films. That should be enough of a clue to determine that this is a very gory film and filled with the same devious and wince worthy traps.

The film is centered around a serial killer called the collector, he kills groups of people at a time but kidnaps one of them, but no-one knows why. The film opens in a night club where he has positioned some nasty traps that rack up the kill count quite rapidly. Amidst the chaos one of the previous victims escapes and another one taken.

A team of mercenaries has been hired to rescue the girl and the escapee has rather handily memorised the location he was taken to. There the trap theme continues. I have to say that this isn't a good film, however it is reasonably entertaining. Yes it's very silly, but it does have some nice ideas woven into the gore. I do prefer atmospheric horror, but I don't mind visceral horror and this does an ok job at that.

Another addition to the 'torture porn' horror genre penned by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, the writing team behind the 'Saw' horror franchise. Josh Stewart stars as Arkin, a down-on-his-luck handyman who, desperate to pay off a debt to his ex-wife, plans to rob the safe at the country mansion home of his employer, a famous jeweller. Unfortunately for him, the property has already been rigged with a series of lethal booby traps by a second criminal: the silent, masked serial killer known only as 'The Collector' (Juan Fernandez), who likes to keep his terror-stricken, eviscerated victims alive for as long as possible while he inflicts his ever more inventive forms of torture upon them.

Click here to purchase The Collector from Amazon (and its a fun, if gory watch)

Guest Post - Astarte And Her Dark Empire by Jerome Brooke

Astarte and Her Dark Empire
by Jerome Brooke

Click on the image to purchase from Amazon

Jerome Brooke has created a new world, the multiverse of the Dark Empire. The Divine Astarte is the ruler of the Empire. Her will is enforced by her legions of Shield Maidens, and by packs of Beast Men. The Dark Empire is a cosmos of the multiverse. The histories of the Dark Empire are recorded and created by the bards of the realm, and by fools called poets.

The City of the Mirage by Jerome Brooke is now on Amazon. The Divine Astarte is one of the last of her race. Her kind seeded many worlds with life. One of these realms was the planet of the Warrior.

Click here to purchase The City of Mirage from Amazon

The City of the Mirage in a dark fantasy.

Astarte is feared, not loved by her people. She is the Destroyer of Worlds. She is served by a legion of shield maidens. These cruel warriors are feared by all. They commit all manner of atrocities, and impale the foes of the Divine Queen.

The people of her empire are also terrorized by the Beast Men. They are the offspring of members of an alien race and the daughters of men. They feed on human flesh. They use captive women to breed more of their kind.

Jerome Brooke was born in Indiana. He now lives in the Kingdom of Siam. He is married to Jira, a princess of the lost Kingdom of Nan. He has written the Dark Empire, The Shield Maidens and Astarte the Immortal (all on Amazon).!/groups/168195166697131/

Brooke seeks to write texts that are suitable as eBooks. Readers may desire to print out chapters or short stories. Texts that can be read in a single evening are often best.

Series of stories and books are a good option. The Conan stories are a good example. They can be read as solo stories. Read in a series, they have some of the qualities of a novel or narrative.

Jerome lives in Chonburi, near Pattaya. He has written a number of other books and stores in the Divine Astarte series - and a number of related series and cycles. Many short stores in the series have appeared in Welcome to Wherever and other magazines.

The Astarte and related series share the same setting. The stories take place far into the future. The stars have been seeded with life by the race of Astarte. She and her kind are worshiped as gods by the people of their realm. Many of the books and stories share the same characters. Read in sequence, they often form a narrative. I think of the series as a hybrid. The chapters were published as short stories in magazines, and can be read alone. Read in sequence, they form a novella or cohesive book. The same was true of the Conan series of Robert E. Howard or the Sherlock home stories.

Film Review - Joe Kidd

I'll admit that while I'm sure I've watched this film before, I don't remember it and having watched it again I can see why I don't remember it. Don't get me wrong it's not a bad film, in fact its reasonably entertaining, but it's not a very memorable one and its far from Eastwood's best.

Clint effectively plays the role he does best, he's a calm and steady handed tracker (a slight variation from his usual bounty hunter), although it's a little at odds with the set up. He's supposed to be the town drunk, but apart from the opening cell with him waking up not remembering his last drunken excitement you wouldn't think that he's a drunk.

It doesn't matter too much once the film gets going as he slips into his usual role that we're all familiar with. The story concerns local land titles being usurped by big business and one of the locals takes the law into his own hands. Naturally the local tycoon responds in kind and hires Kidd to track the rebel down. Things then progress in a predictable manner and that's the film big problem, it does enough to keep you watching, but not enough to make it stand out in any way.

Clint Eastwood plays a drunken tracker coerced by American business tycoon Robert Duvall to go in search of Mexican agitator John Saxon. Scripted by renowned crime writer Elmore Leonard.

Click here to purchase Joe Kidd from Amazon (it's an entertaining watch)

Friday 21 February 2014

Book Shout Out - The Undertaker's Cabinet by David Haynes

Happy Days! One of my favourite indie authors David Haynes has released his latest book, if his previous books are naything to go by this will be a corker. In fact it's jumped straight straight to the top of my TBR list :-)

For a limited launch special offer he's priced the book for only 99c (77p), at that price it would be rude not to pick up a copy :-)
Click on the image to purchase from Amazon

In the town of Littleoak, Moreton & Sons have been burying the dead for over a century… and Bobby Moreton has had enough.

When Richard Jacobs arrives and makes him an offer for the business, the offer is so good he's tempted. But there's something about Jacobs' killer smile that doesn't feel quite right. In fact it feels wrong, horribly wrong.

There may be another way to save the business… Sell the exquisite antique cabinet that's been waiting in the cellar for another chance to do what it was created for.

Bobby soon realises that's a bad thing, a very bad thing indeed...

Click here to purchase The Undertaker's Cabinet from Amazon (I've bought mine!)

Guest Author Interview - Sue Perry

Sue Perry joins me in today's guest author interview to talk about herself and her writing, find out more below:
Click on image to purchase from Amazon

Please introduce yourself. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Sue Perry and I am a novelist. I've also enjoyed a number of noteworthy day jobs, including disaster scientist and low budget TV producer.

What first inspired you to start writing?
I responded to praise about school writing assignments. It wasn't just the positive words but also the discovery that I could share and influence thoughts and emotions. Then and now that makes me feel connected - no longer an isolated organism.

Your books so far have covered a variety of genres, why is this?
I have many interests and I like change. Repeating a genre seems more difficult than trying a new one. With one (somewhat) exception, I've never set out to write any particular genre. I happen upon ideas that intrigue me and proceed where they take me. The somewhat exception is my current novel, FRAMES. For some time I had thought that it would be fun to write a fantasy and was on the lookout for ideas with fantasy underpinnings. And I was right. It is fun to write a fantasy.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
You wouldn't believe the struggle I've had with this question. Over the years, I've encountered many brilliant, talented, or famous people so I know that having a gift doesn't guarantee that you will be interesting or fun - or pleasant. And I want this day to be truly special. So first, I nerded out. (What if we don't speak the same language? What if they take longer than a day to get to know? What if they're heroes who turn out to be jerks?) Eventually I broke out of this spiral by reminding myself that this is the dream sequence part of the interview. Then I couldn't decide my motivation. Did I want to learn something (the Buddha), be inspired (Thoreau), meet a hero (John Lennon), solve a mystery (the Shakespeares), have a great conversation (Einstein), have some laughs (Mae West), share an adventure (Michael Connelly)? Next I paused, troubled, because I didn't have enough women on the list. I paused again because so few of my personal heroes made the list. Then I realized that maybe I could select someone living, which changed everything! Finally, I wished that the question included fictional characters.

At last I forced myself to make a damn choice, with two runners-up in case we have scheduling conflicts.

 First choice: Beatrix Potter. We would wander her country estate, while chatting and observing stuff; and I would watch her draw.

 Second choice: Thelonious Monk. We would have conversations I mostly didn't understand while walking around New York; and then I would sit in on a gig.

 Third choice: Tolstoy during his last, visionary and/or crazy days when he lived at the train station. He would talk and I would take notes.

What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was a mediocre piece of fluff that merits no mention. Let me instead rave about the book I am reading now. I first read it years ago and it is even better than I recall: THE BLUE EYED SHAN by Stephen Becker, an historical adventure set in Burma (now Myanmar) before during and after WWII. Romance, action, intrigue, tragedy. Remarkable dialog that conveys politics, history, exotic milieu, and character secrets in brief, witty exchanges. This novel should be famous not obscure. And I wish Peter Jackson would film it.

What do you find most rewarding about writing?
When I'm alone at the screen or page, I am rewarded by the moments of unexpected discovery: unplanned and unbidden, suddenly there is an insight, idea, or turn of phrase that is really good and I can't say where it came from. More generally, I respond to the times when my words connect me with someone else.

And the most challenging?
To write something that is honest and that matters - which I believe is possible no matter what or whether the genre.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am in revisions with the first book in a fantasy detective series called FRAMES. In it, a self-appointed detective gets in way over her head - although she would never agree! - with beings from other dimensions. FRAMES Book 1 should be available in early 2014.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
I have recently published WAS IT A RAT I SAW as an ebook. RAT is a psychological thriller involving split-brain research, animal rights, and a love quadrangle. It was previously published by Bantam-Doubleday-Dell.

At one time, a treatment for life-threatening epilepsy involved severing the membrane that connects the two sides of the brain. The operation isolated brain functions that were previously connected. Scientists studying split-brain patients learned startling and amazing things about how our brains work - and spawned various pop-psych fads regarding left brain vs. right brain abilities. (The brain reality is more complicated.)

Split-brain research is the foundation for WAS IT A RAT I SAW. In RAT, Tommy Dabrowski, a split-brain patient, witnesses a murder - with the half of his brain that no longer has access to language. He has been working with brain researcher Dr. Clare Austen, who now redirects her experiments to figure out what Tommy knows, before the killer comes to stop them.

All my books are available as ebooks at Smashwords, Apple's iStore, Kobo, and elsewhere. On Amazon you can get them as trade paperbacks as well as ebooks.

I've got a blog where I write about whatever's on my mind each day. On my blog there are links to reach my books, as well as various promotions and giveaways. Or just stop by to say hi.

Books by Sue Perry on Amazon

Thursday 20 February 2014

Thursday Tune - Under the Northern Star by Amon Amarth

Welcome to the first in the new regular feature here on my blog. Some time ago I posted about how music can help make you a better writer (you can read that post here), more than that music is a  a medium I enjoy in particular while I'm writing or reading, or even just driving the car!. Don't get me wrong I have no talent as a musician, but I do appreciate music in its various forms.

While my musical taste tends to lean towards the heavier end of the spectrum, I do listen to an eclectic variety depending on my mood, so in this feature I'm going to share soem of the songs that stand out for me and hopefully you'll discover something new as well.

The Song

As I mentioned in the introduction I'm a fan of heavy music and Amon Amarth are a good example of growly heavy metal (fans often refer to theior music as Viking Metal, but the band aren't keen on the term), this particular song is a little different from their usual tracks as the song itself is quite melodic.

I love this song for three reasons, the first is the haunting and mournful guitar work, it's not complicated but it carries the sense of emptiness of the song's story effectively. The second reason is the story itself, the lyrics like the guitar work are relatively simple but convey the sense of a Viking ship having been long from home heading home under the icy skies of the  northern seas.

The third aspect is the juxtaposition of it, and to an extent there's a novelty to it. Most of their turns are hard and quite aggresive. With this song in the same voice (and I know the growly singing will put some people off) they tell a more subtle story, one full of hope and not a little sorrow.

The Band

Amon Amarth are a Swedish death metal band who's songs typically centre around viking mythology and history. They first formed in 1988 (although I'm a recent convert I've only been listening to them for a few years) and have since released nine albums. My favourites so far have Twighlight of the Thunder God and Deceiver of the Gods, although I've enjoyed all of them to varying degrees.

You can follow Amon Amrth on Facebook, or through their website.

The Album

With Oden on our Side was Amon Amarth's sixth studio album, Under the Northern Star is my favourite track on the album, but Valhall Awaits Me, the opening track also deserves a mention. The album was released in 2006.

Click here to purchase With Oden on Our Side from Amazon (and it's a cracking album)

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Guest Author Interview - Scarlett Jensen

In today's guest author interview Scarlett Jensen takes her place in the hot seat to tell us about herself and her writing, find out more below:

Click on the image to purchase from Amazon

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Scarlett Jensen works as a freelance writer for the past four years. It is during this period that she became acquainted with the story of Alice which was related to her in her professional capacity. This is her first published book under the pen name. Scarlett has extensive experience of public administration in the South African public service. As government officer she was involved in the compilation of legislation while she was occupied in the management and promotion of education, arts, culture, language, science and technology. Before her retirement in 1999, she was also involved with the compilation of an English Technical Language Dictionary for Human Resources and Public Administration for the South African National Terminology Service.

What first inspired you to start writing?
The book, "The Angel with Burnt Wings" looks back at the protagonist's past. We find life lessons that have to be told in a story where the broken self emerges from a past that has been scattered in pieces after rape, prostitution and crime. To take jail punishment as a process wherein the self is transformed, the old skin shed by experiencing the anointing grace of forgiveness and to be reborn pure white, takes an iron will and courage. It is this courage and grace from God, that turned a mess into a message, a trial into truimph and a victim into a victory. It is that victory which inspired Scarlett to tell the story to the world.

Your book is based upon real events, how difficult is it to blend fact and fiction in that way?
It is a book that grew out of words, gestures and sensations that go beyond bars and which were internalized with great care. The author kept an open window and respected the findings as gifts of unknown things. She kept the truth's real essence and saw the experience as a play with all its players with Alice, the angel with burnt wings, in the main role. Some parts of the story fled away and at others the author stopped. Together with Alice, the author entered into the real and imagined experiences of women in prison, saw shackled dreams and destinies, and with some she celebrated their rebirth and victory. The research the author has done is based on the extraordinary work done by her co-professionals. She took source material and grafted lines from existing writings, like the masterpiece of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. She saw in the book a chance to reactivate the truths of this magic tale for young and old and used the tale as a trajectory for her real life story. Wonderland parallels perfectly with Prisonland.

What was the last book you read?
The last book the author read is Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult. The book was on the NJTimes best sellers list in 2012. With fiction, Picoult creates credible characters with pure diction. She cleverly plots their interrelationships that are beautifully interwoven, showing humanity's strenghts and weaknesses and digs into the forces that tear the relationships apart. She contrasts humans versus nature in the form of a pack of wolves, showing how a wolf sacrifices his own good for the survival of the pack. The book is wonderfully written and engages us in a deeper level of personal and literary discussion. It offers an animated and coherend discussion which inspires personal reflection.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
The author would have liked to spend a day with the painter Marc Chagall. He painted the painting titled The Falling Angel which inspired the cover of the book. The author who also studied art, had seen the painting long before the book was conceptualized or the cover, or name of the book considered. It was only after the book was written and title chosen, that the painting surfaced from her subconscious as a possible cover image. When she studied the discussion around Chagall, she found the coinciding depiction of the reality of Alice. For Chagall, the angel, who meets defeat, symbolizes various moments of reality in his life with pesonal involvement in a sad, cruel and a dark age that is dominated by the brutality of war and hate. Spread across the black sky the red wings seem tongues of fire. The mother and child image at the bottom of the painting offers hope. My answer to him would be that I found reality depicted in his painting in the form of the story of Alice in my book.

What is it about your book that makes it stand out?
The book shows us how a life is broken up to the core and how it can be reconstructed to become whole again. The truths of the classical masterpiece of Alice in Wonderland, which are public domain, form the trajectory on which the story is based and underline the new book's amazing parallel with "Alice in Wonderland". In a sense both stories draw from each other. The analogies and images in the new book are both very real and to the point. The author saw in her book the chance to reactivate the truths of the magic tale of Wonderland for young and old to a grown-up audience.

The cover of the book stands out. For the author, the falling angel with long wings, but no longer able to fly, meets defeat, symbolizes life involving sadness and bad and dark times that are brought on by a burning internal war of the heart and soul in a desparate life of incarceration. The emphasis is on the fact that we need forgiveness and with its power we are enabled to fly free after incarceration and redemption.

The sequal of the book can easily be depicted by an ascending angel which represents peace, victory, cleansing from sin, purity and attainment of liberation and freedom through God.

What is the best piece of writing advice you have received?
Read fairy tales and explore the in-depth meaning of a master's voice and choice of events that take place in a fairy tale. They choose with great insight, sentiments, craft and purpose to convey the truths of humanity we can learn from.

What are you working on at the moment?
The author is working on the marketing of the book. She wants to reach the world's incarcerated. This book opens up the world of the incarcerated and the plight all of us must hear to assist them on their road to recovery. In Pope Francesco's words on 28 March 2013, Holy Thursday, "We need to go out, then, in order to experience our own anointing (as priests) the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight and prisoners in thrall to many evil monsters".

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
I am creating a platform to enlarge the presence of the book. As l have no status or credentials, I am fighting it.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Tuesday Tease - The Thorne Legacy by J. D. Brink

In this week's Tuesday Tease we have the first chapter from J. D. Brink's military sci-fi novella 'The Thorne Legacy', reading the excerpt has convinced me to buy my copy, hopefully you'll like the sound of it too!
Click on image to purchase from Amazon

The Thorne Legacy
by J. D. Brink

This is a military SF novella (with a touch of monster horror) that goes for $1.49 just about anywhere ebooks are sold.  It was also a quarter finalist in 2012 at the Writers of the Future Contest.  I also just sent the audiobook version up for final approval, which should be available soon on, Amazon, and iTunes.

Here’s a few primary links:
(B&N still showing old cover for some reason)
Fugitives of Purgatory (author’s website):

First Chapter:

The military police had not gone easy on Corporal Cranston Thorne.  He rolled the beer can against his blackened right eye, searching for a spot that was still cold.  Getting warm, he thought.  He popped it open and chugged half of it, grimacing as the carbonation burned his throat, then fished a fresh one from the minifridge and slumped back into the couch.  The new can’s cold metallic surface was shocking to his swollen eye, but it felt good.

“I’ll remember that, Jarvis,” he said aloud.  He and that traitorous MP Jarvis had shared brews and a couple games of darts just a few weeks back.  But last night’s incident just proved what Thorne had always said: you can’t trust a man on duty to back his friends.

The gladiators on the vid hovered in their gravboots, beating their chests and talking shit behind colorful masks.  Thorne took another swig of warm beer and imagined himself as a primetime gladiator.  He’d wear blue tights with a plunging waist line (to show off the tattoo on his stomach) and a shiny chrome helmet with a yellow Roman crest bristling down the middle.  Weapon of choice...  An oversized mallet, maybe.  Hell, big-time cornball pit fighting might be the only career track left to him if he ended up with a dishonorable discharge from the Guard. 

There were voices outside.  Sharp and crisp, like obedient dogs yipping for their master’s approval.  There had been a rotation of two privates—probably all fresh from boot camp with no qualifications yet to do anything else—posted on his door ever since the MPs had deposited him back home.  Whatever pair of lapdogs were out there now, they were obviously kissing someone’s ass smartly. 
Thorne sighed and his cold aluminum compress fell away from his face. 

Not him, he thought.  The old prick should still be out on patrol somewhere.  He knew it would only be a matter of time before the Captain showed up, but he was hoping it would be after tomorrow’s court-martial.  The base judicial system was moving fast on him this time, but maybe not fast enough.  Corporal Thorne scratched his bristly chin and slouched even further down in his seat.  His green uniform pants were unbuttoned at the top, the belt undone and hanging open, and he made no effort to close them; Thorne intended to show the Captain a deliberate lack of military discipline.  He did, however, tug his white undershirt down over the naked woman tattooed on his belly. 

The door of the barracks apartment opened.  Two buck privates in immaculate green uniforms stood like statues outside while Captain Thanos Thorne entered between them.

“The boys all get tall and stiff when you come around,” Cranston deadpanned, turning his attention back to the colorful gladiators on the vidscreen.  “When did you get back?”

The door slid shut behind Captain Thorne, who stormed forward and came to a stop at the younger man’s elbow.  Thorne glanced up, saw the dark blue of the Spatial Corps uniform and the matching eyes that burned like cold stars, then looked away.  The Captain said nothing. 

“The silent treatment hasn’t worked on me since the seventh grade, Pops.”

“Don’t ‘Pops’ me,” the Captain growled.  “Get on your feet.”

Cranston Thorne stubbornly laced his fingers behind his head.  His arms bulged and the naked woman’s legs peeked out.  “This is my place.”

The Captain’s speed defied his age.  He stole the vid control, turned off and flung the controller at the screen in one swing, then stooped down face to face with his son, the deep ravines of his weathered face made deeper by his angry snarl.  “And the only reason you’re in this rat hole and not the brig is because you’re my son.  Now get on your feet!”

Thorne got up, deliberately slow, matching glares with his father.  They were almost mirror images, both built thick and stocky, both with stone jaws and blue eyes.  The elder’s were dark and intense, the younger’s bloodshot and ringed with bruises.  The father’s hair was slate grey, the son’s sandy brown. 

“Don’t look at me,” Captain Thorne spat.  “You’re addressing a superior officer, stand at attention!”
The corporal became rigid, arms at his sides, staring straight through his father and the wall beyond.
“What the hell is wrong with you?”  The Captain sidestepped, his glare focused on the blackening of his son’s right eye.  “You’ll be out this time, I’ll see to it.”

The corporal was like a statue, showing no sign that being a civilian again would bother him in the least.

Captain Thorne looked him up and down, then kicked aside a lump of laundry on the floor.  “Humpf.  It’s appropriate that you’re wearing only half a uniform, since you’ve only ever been half a soldier.  We’ll see how you like wearing brig orange.  That will be more appropriate.”  He snatched a green uniform jacket from the floor.  Pinned to the chest were only three service ribbons, not very impressive for five years of service, and on the lapels were corporals’ paired chevrons.  “Do you even know what kind of an embarrassment you are?” he continued.  “My son, the corporal.  When someone asks how my son, the sergeant, is liking the Planetary Corps, I have to explain that you lost a rank.  I have to tell the whole damned story again, and how you drag the Thorne family name through the mud every time you decide to play in it.” 

Sergeant Cranston Thorne had been busted down not so long ago for conduct unbecoming.  Now he’d likely be reduced to a private first class.  The Captain was having a harder time with it than he was. 
“Six generations of spacefaring military officers...” 

Not the Odysseus lecture again, Thorne thought.  The first two ancestors in that proud line were supposedly of the Odysseus subspecies, engineered for space exploration.  Even though the characteristic Thorne build hinted at the robust nature of Oddies, Cranston had always assumed that particular claim was dreamed up by his father for pure boasting rights. 

The Captain tossed the green jacket to the floor.  “And not only are you not an officer, but you’re not even in the System Guard Spatial Corps.  Six generations of tradition and family honor, and with you the chain’s been broken.  The Thorne legacy, ruined.”

Corporal Thorne maintained his military bearing, posture rigid, eyes locked on some distant horizon.  “Lucky number seven,” he muttered. 

The Captain closed again, his breath hot on his son’s face.  “You’re not funny. 

“And now you’re in trouble again.  It was all over my ship within an hour of docking.  But I told myself that the rumor mills are vicious and exaggerated.  Or are they?” 

“Dereliction of duty,” Thorne replied, “and theft of a System Guard vehicle.”

The Captain shook his head.  “A common criminal.  Have you no pride?”

“What can I say, Pops?  A bottle of rum and a nice pair of tits play hell with your moral compass.” 

“You’re a disgrace.”

“So you’ve said.”  Corporal Thorne licked his lips.  “Six generations of spacefarers, huh?  Did Commander Cranston Thorne the First tell your father that he was a disgrace when he broke the Naval tradition and decided to join System Guard instead?  When he chose to stay on Giger with his wife and son, to raise you instead of being off-planet for years at a time?  Was my grandfather a disgrace, too?”

“Shut your mouth.  You don’t have family as an excuse.  You don’t have an excuse.”  The Captain moved into his son’s thousand meter stare.  “I’ve already spoken with Colonel Ymir, who will be holding your court-martial tomorrow.  I’ve told him my feelings on the matter, that you should be busted down in rank and thrown out on your ear, after spending your last few months of service in the brig.”

Thorne’s bearing broke.  Their blue eyes met.  “Thanks for standing up for me, Pops.”

The Captain blinked.  His face crinkled slightly and turned away, hands clasping behind his back. 
And there was silence.  Captain Thorne walked over to an open closet and aimlessly inspected a few hanging uniforms.  He meandered to the bathroom threshold and flicked the light on and off.  He stared at a painting on the wall, pretending to be interested in the image of an old time matador shaking a red cape at a naked woman on all fours with horns on her head.

Well, how do you like that? Cranston thought.  The ice in Hell does thaw once in while.  He’s speechless, maybe even ashamed.  For a minute. 

Sensing this rare vulnerability, he pressed the attack: “Will you be in court tomorrow, Daddy, to personally strip me of my uniform?  I’m sure your big brass buddies will be cheering you on and slapping you on the ass.”

His father turned back to him, face softened.  “No.”  The Captain adjusted the matador painting on the wall, then his hands went behind him again.  “We only came back into dock for supplies and to gather the rest of the squadron.  We’ll be leaving orbit in a few hours.”

The atmosphere changed.  Suddenly there was more going on here than their little family crisis.  “The whole squadron?” Thorne asked. 

The Captain nodded.  “I can’t tell you much about it.  Some of it is classified.”

“I can’t leave this room, and, from what you say, I’ll be in the brig past next spring.”  Cranston allowed himself a sneer.  “Who am I going to tell?”

Captain Thorne cleared his throat.  “We’ve lost contact with John Henry Station in the Bradley Belt.  The patrol boat Orion’s Hound was sent to investigate and now they’re missing.”

“That’s way out on the edge of the system...  You think it was an attack?”

The Captain said nothing.

“But we’re no where near any border space.”  Of course, that didn’t really matter.  A truly dedicated assault fleet could just remain in Slip Space for a longer period of time and pop back out well beyond the stellar borders.  An extended jump like that, though, had a lot of risks.
Thorne’s deteriorating posture relaxed completely now.  “You’re going to take the entire squadron out there and leave the planet defenseless?  You’re the commanding officer of the damn flagship, shouldn’t you know better than that?”

His father’s finger hovered in front of his nose, a very unmilitary gesture and another sign that the ice was melting, despite the Captain’s words: “You are in no position to tell me how to conduct military business.  When I want advice on how to get my ass in a sling, I’ll come to you.  Understand?”

Thorne couldn’t help but grin.  “Yes, sir.”

The smile was too much.  It completely dissolved the disciplinary atmosphere.  Captain Thorne turned away and was halfway to the door when he said, “I’ll come see you in the brig when I get back.”  The door slid open, the guards posted outside snapped to attention, the door closed.

Corporal Cranston Thorne collapsed back onto his couch.  He took a long drink from his beer and looked at the digital display on the wall.  The time was 1134.  He’d be getting ready for court in twenty hours. 

At least he knew a couple of the guys that worked the brig.  Maybe they’d sneak him some beer during his stay.

Click here to purchase The Thorne Legacy from Amazon

About J. D. Brink:

J. D. Brink was not a private detective in the 1940s, but he’d liked to have been. Instead he was born in the 1970s, was a kid at the best time ever to be a kid (the ‘80s), and went to college in the ‘90s. He has since become a sailor, spy, teacher, officer, nurse, and father. Today he and his family live in Texas, where there aren’t enough cheating husbands, missing persons, practicing witches, or hard-boiled mysteries to keep him occupied. In his writing, like his life, he likes to dabble in multiple genres.

Book Impressions - This is my Blood by David Niall Wilson

 I enjoyed reading this a lot, what we have here is a different and interesting take on the gospel, a secret history of Judas and Mary Magdelene. It's told through two mediums, the first is the Gospel of Judas which offers an alternative viewpoint to the more traditional gospels. The other viewpoint is that of Mary Magdelene, she joins the story as one of the fallen, a minion of Lucifer's tasked with tempting Jesus.

When the temptation fails she is cursed to exist as a vampire, but Jesus promises her that she can be saved. The story continues to tell of his ministry and the interaction between him and Mary. The story is told in a way that is very evocative of the biblical tradition and so transports the reader easily into the time.

It also does a very good job of portraying Christ not only as a man, but also as the son of God. Some readers may be offended by the portrayal, but this doesn't poke fun at his existence, but simply tells the story from a different and more personal viewpoint. Controversially this is also a love story between Christ and Mary, although not really in the conventional sense.

While the story and the writing are both excellent, unfortunately there is a small flaw, the Kindle edition appears to have a strange formatting issue where many spaces are missing. While it wasn't enough to put me off reading the book, it was enough to provide a distraction, which is a shame as otherwise this is a fantastic read.

This novel of alternate history and dark romance, outlined by excerpts from the Book of the Gospel According to Judas Iscariot, follows the journey of Mary Magdalen, fallen angel, cursed as vampire, as she follows a trail of desperate hope and love beyond measure.

Click here to purchase This is my Blood from Amazon (and is an excellent read)

Monday 17 February 2014

Guest Author Interview - Jordan MacLean

 In today's guest author interview we meet fantasy author Jordan MacLean, find out 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 Jordan MacLean, and I'm primarily a fantasy author, although I've had several careers in my life ranging from symphony cellist to engineer to actor/director to press director for a Presidential campaign. I've also been a stay-at-home mom and a homeschooling parent.

What first inspired you to start writing?
Reading, I suppose. I loved stories of all kinds, both those that I read and those that came into my mind, and I was always intrigued by the possibilities a blank page offered. While some people see it as a place to doodle or draw, I played characters and ideas in words. I could always paint a person better in words than in lines and colors. Even when I was a musician, I had bits of stories scribbled here and there, characters tugging at me, begging me to tell their stories. I always found other things to do because writing frankly terrified me. It wasn't until I wrote some plays and saw my characters come to life on the stage that I decided to commit to writing.

And what attracted you to writing fantasy stories?
This is kind of why I say I'm primarily a fantasy writer. The series I'm working on right now is an unapologetically epic fantasy series, but that's because that's the way the story goes, if that makes sense. I suppose I could have hammered it into a western or set it in New York City at the turn of the century, but the story presented itself to me as fantasy, and the characters who presented it to me simply live in their world. It just feels right. I have other stories which are not fantasy.

If you could pick one book that everyone should read (not one of your own!) which would it be?
For every book that comes to mind, ten more protest that they would be better. This is a very difficult question, as I'm sure you know. :-) I suppose it would have to be The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. It's some seriously thick reading, but in that work, Victor Hugo explores just about every facet of human nature imaginable. It has more content in the first chapter than many novels have in their entirety.

What do you bring that's new to the fantasy genre?
One of my major themes is the enslavement of an entire race of people, not by other people but by their assumptions, particularly about those who do hold real power over them. This echoes from the dangers facing the entire world all the way down through the individual characters facing their own destinies and the choices tied to those destinies. One of the major themes tied to this involves gender identities and the assumptions that go along with those. I'm sure other authors have examined these themes before, but my particular approach is new and likely unexpected.

If that seems a bit vague, it's because I'm trying to avoid spoilers. :-)

What is the best piece of writing advice you have received?
Don't show your work until it's finished, and don't share the ending, even with yourself, until it's written. That may sound odd, but I killed a few stories in the cradle for myself by thinking them through to their endings. I felt like I'd written them and lost interest. As far as not showing your work until it's finished, it's a similar thing. It's easy for it to lose its shine. It's also easy not to finish since you keep getting little sips of approval from people reading a chapter here and a chapter there. Writing is the hardest part of being a writer, and for some reason, it's something we all tend to find excuses not to do. This is one place to kill an excuse.

If you could write anybody's biography whose would it be and why?
Carlos Hathcock. I'm a sucker for heroes, and any man who can take third degree burns over most of his body while rescuing people from a burning train qualifies as a hero.

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on a few short stories for an anthology that my publisher is putting together, as well as book 3 of the Lords of Syon Series. I also have a story based loosely on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale and another novel which is not fantasy at all, set in southern NM during the latter half of the last century.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
My latest release is Guardian Last, which is the second book in the Lords of Syon Saga, following Sword of Hemlock. While Sword of Hemlock mostly focused on Lady Renda and her battle to defend her cousin, the Duke, and the rest of Syon from destruction, Guardian Last centers more around her companion, an unconventional sorcerer named Dith the Merciless, whose power has grown out of his control and who must now make his way across the sea to a place with which those of Syon have had no contact in thousands of years, and all of this happens within the context of Renda and her few remaining companions combatting the ancient forces that threatens to keep their whole world enslaved.

My books are published through Raconteur House, and you can get both books in ebook or paperback format from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as smashwords. gets you to two easy ordering links and gives a short synopsis of each book. The rest of my website has fun links to descriptions of the races in my books and other "extras."

Please follow me on Facebook at

on Twitter at

on at Jordan MacLean

on book blogs at

Books by Jordan MacLean on Amazon

Sunday 16 February 2014

Film Review - Convoy

"Calling all trucks, this is the duck and we're about to go hunting bear." Another blast from the past in the quintessential trucking film 'Convoy'. I loved watching this as a youngster and it still appeals to me now. In fairness it's not really that good a film, but it is a lot of fun to watch and that will do for me :-)

If you haven't seen it then it tells the story of some independent truckers in the late 70's (it's based on a song of the same name), after running into a dirty cop they end up as fugitives trying to escape the state. Things keep escalating until a final dramatic showdown.

As I've said it's a fun film, it doesn't take itself too seriously and there's a fair amount of humour. Kriss Kristofferson plays 'Rubber Duck' , an independent trucker style very much in the western tradition. The film is full of chases, trucks and truck driving music (an even more depressing variant on country music if you're not familiar with it). A lot of the dialogue is over the radio, so full of the CB slang and chatter familar to those of us who went through the CB craze back in the 70's and 80's.

It shows it's age, but that doesn't matter because it is a film of its time. It's hugely entertaining and I enjoyed the nostalgia fix while I was at it.

United Kingdom released, Blu-Ray/Region B DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), English ( Dolby Linear PCM ), WIDESCREEN (2.35:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Featurette, Interactive Menu, Photo Gallery, Remastered, Scene Access, Trailer(s), Uncut, SYNOPSIS: While driving through the Arizona desert, Albuquerque based independent trucker Martin Penwald - who goes by the handle "Rubber Duck" - along with his fellow truckers "Pig Pen" and "Spider Mike", are entrapped by unscrupulous Sheriff Lyle "Cottonmouth" Wallace using a key tool of the trucker's trade, the citizens' band (CB) radio. Rubber Duck and Cottonmouth have a long, antagonistic history. When this encounter later escalates into a more physical one as Cottonmouth threatens Spider Mike, a man who just wants to get home to his pregnant wife, Rubber Duck and other the truckers involved, including Spider Mike, Pig Pen and "Widow Woman", go on the run, figuring the best thing to do being to head to New Mexico to avoid prosecution. Along for the ride is Melissa, a beautiful photographer who just wanted a ride to the airport. As news of what happened spreads over the CB airwaves, other truckers join their convoy as a show of support. Cottonmouth rallies other law enforcement officers throughout the southwest, they who soon learn that stopping Rubber Duck, the face of the now highly public standoff, is not as easy as shooting him and the truck due to his highly explosive cargo. As the standoff escalates, New Mexico Governor Jerry Haskins joins the fray, he who sees the strong public support for the truckers being something on which he can capitalize politically. ...Convoy (Blu-Ray)