Wednesday 30 April 2014

Blog Shout Out - US Historical Fiction

In this week's blog shout out we visit Harold Titus' US Historical Fiction blog, discover more below. If you run a blog and would like to be featured then drop me a line and I'll take a look.

I am Harold Titus. A graduate of UCLA, I taught mostly eighth grade students English and American history for 31 years in Orinda, CA. After retiring I spent portions of the next 17 years writing my historical novel Crossing the River, which is about the experiences of participants in the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the British army’s contested withdrawal April 19, 1775.

I started my blog site ( in June 2013 to introduce myself and publicize my novel to potential readers. You will find interviews conducted of me and many excerpts from my book. I post two kinds of blogs. One blog is about actual people both unfamiliar and famous -- Dr. Joseph Warren, Sam Adams, Dr. Benjamin Church, Eliphalet Downer, Timothy Pickering, General Thomas Gage are examples -- that appear in my novel. The other blog has mostly been about Queen Elizabeth’s difficulties with Spain, France, the Netherlands, and Mary Stuart of Scotland prior to and during England’s attempts in the 1580s to establish a colony in North America, my purpose being to provide context for readers to understand why those attempts were so ambitious and risky. In both instances I am taking advantage of the research I conducted prior to the writing of the Revolutionary War novel and the novel I have this January begun to write -- England’s 1584 visitation of and 1585-1586 failed attempt to found a colony on Roanoke Island.

I review an outstanding American historical novel monthly. You will find reviews of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Big Rock Candy Mountain, Cress Delahanty, Oliver Wiswell, Plainsong, Panther in the Sky, and the not so wonderful Rise to Rebellion. I also review non-fiction source books that narrate the story of Roanoke.

I began a feature this January that I may not be able to continue on a monthly basis. I introduce authors of American historical fiction that, like myself, have written one book and have no name recognition. I invite whom I wish to feature. I don’t solicit authors to ask to be featured. The author’s writing has to appeal to me. It must tempt me to purchase the book. I ask my guest authors to write what they wish about themselves, provide a brief book synopsis, answer several questions about their writing, and provide one or two book excerpts. As of April 16 I have posted three authors, had one author ignore my invitation, and am waiting to receive a response from one other.

I plan to continue this blog as long as I am able to post material that people show they want to read. My favorite posts are those that receive particular reader interest. Blog examples are posts about Dr. Joseph Warren and Eliphalet Downer and Queen Elizabeth’s ongoing difficulties. A special feature that commemorated this year’s Patriots Day -- scenes from my novel about Paul Revere -- received quite a bit of attention.

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Tuesday Tease - The Jack in the Green by Frazer Lee

We have a treat for horror fans in this week's Tuesday Tease, noted writer Frazer Lee provides an excerpt from his novel 'The Jack in the Green':

Click on image to purchase from Amazon

Novel, ebook/paperback Oct 2013
Copyright © 2013 Frazer Lee
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication

Tom's nightmare was always the same.

He was six years old again and it was Christmas Eve. Tom’s breath fogged up his bedroom window then disappeared like a ghost. He tried again, but no luck—the frost clinging to the outside of the windowpane refused to melt. He wished his parents would just go to bed. He’d been kneeling here on his bed, leaning on the windowsill for what seemed like an eternity. Then he heard footsteps on the stairs.

It was his mom, there to tuck Tom into bed. He laid rigidly still, breathing heavily with his arms by his side. He felt his mother’s shadow falling over him as she leaned in to kiss him softly on the head. He listened intently as she closed the door and went back downstairs to the living room. ‘Must be wrapping my presents right now,’ he thought, his ears conjuring sounds of foil paper and sticky tape.

This was the most crucial part of Christmas Eve for Tom—waiting for Mom and Dad to come to bed. Then he had to leave it for just long enough to make sure they were asleep, without nodding off himself and missing his chance.

Tom awoke with a jolt and shivered. His bedclothes had made a bid for freedom, leaving just his pyjamas to protect him. He grabbed his alarm clock, the luminous face teasing him with the time. Four o’clock am. Brilliant, he’d nodded off and been asleep for hours. But there was still time.

He swung his legs over the side of the bed, and ever so carefully, stood up. Without a sound, he crept over to the door. Careful now, this was where it could all go horribly wrong. One false move and he’d wake them up. He reached out for the door handle, his arm rehearsing the exact distance he could open the door before it creaked. Slowly, slowly, he pulled the door open, slipped sideways through the gap, grabbed the outside handle and closed the door behind him with the tiniest click.

Heart beating, Tom stood on the dark landing for a few seconds, catching his breath. Satisfied he hadn’t woken his folks, he padded gently across the landing towards the stairs. The soft, soundless carpet beneath his feet, he allowed his mind to wander a little. He began thinking of the prize that awaited him at the end of his mission, remembering how wonderful his presents had looked under the tree last year. They’d gleamed in their shiny wrapping paper like treasure, begging him to squeeze them. His pace quickened as he reached the foot of the stairs.

Downstairs was even chillier than his bedroom, cold seeping into the hallway through hidden nooks and crannies. Tom folded his arms around him, shivering, and snuck into the living room. It was pitch black inside. An acrid metallic smell filled the room. What had they been wrapping in here?

Only one way to find out, thought Tom as he edged his way around the perimeter of the room, feeling along the cabinet, then the wall. Finally, he felt the Christmas tree as he brushed against it. Baubles clinked icily as he located the power cord and followed it, crawling across the floor to the power socket in the corner. He felt the cold metal pins in his hand and turning the plug right side up, inserted it into the wall. Something wet dripped on his hand just as he pressed the switch. Something heavy, and slick, slid across his head.

Tom scrambled backwards in shock. Looking up, he saw the fairy lights twinkling. But they were red, not clear, as they had been earlier today and all last week since they’d decorated the tree. He stared, mouth agape, as he realised the lights weren’t red after all. Rather, it was what hung around them that gave them their crimson glow.

The Christmas tree was slicked with blood and covered in strands of flesh and hair. His mom’s hair. He could pick out his dad’s tattoo on a piece of bloodied skin that dangled above a bauble like a handkerchief; a mermaid rendered in fading blue ink on now-dead flesh. Drooping branches struggled beneath the weight of the innards scattered across them like red tinsel. Ruined organs steamed like butcher’s offal at the hot kiss of the lights. Eyeballs hung there like baubles. He could recognise some of the pieces; a section of intestine here, a tangle of veins there.

Tom scrambled to his feet. Nausea hit him and he vomited stomach bile onto the living room rug. Turning fearfully around, he saw his parents lying lifeless on the sofa like grotesque dolls. Their bodies had been torn apart. Flesh ravaged and ribcages exposed like the hulls of broken ships.

The room span and Tom sank to his knees, a dry scream dying in his throat.

Then he saw them. Red, burning eyes watching him from the dark black of the fireplace.

Watching him touch his presents.

Click here to purchase The Jack in the Green from Amazon

About the Author:

Bram Stoker Award® Finalist Frazer Lee's first novel 'The Lamplighters' is published by Samhain Horror, along with 'The Lucifer Glass' and 'The Jack in the Green'. His short stories have appeared in anthologies including the acclaimed Read By Dawn series.

Also a screenwriter and filmmaker, Frazer's screen credits include the award-winning short horror movies 'On Edge', 'Red Lines', 'Simone', and the critically acclaimed horror/thriller feature film (and movie novelization) 'Panic Button'.

Frazer resides with his family in leafy Buckinghamshire, England. When he's not getting lost in a forest he is working on new fiction and film projects.

Official website:

Tales of the Imp - Suspect Research

The latest Tales of the Imp drabble has been posted in the Indie Book Bargains newsletter (you can sign up for their newsletter and see the latest bargains here:, as always a big thanks to Rosen for her dedication in supporting other indie authors!

If you haven't read the rest of the drabbles then you can read all of them here:

The Imp's origin story can be found in the Off the KUF collection of stories, you can buy it from Amazon here:

Suspect Research

Another wonderful date and you know what, I’d never been so happy, even the Imp seemed pleased for me with his toothy grin flashing in my direction.

He still wouldn’t let me consummate the relationship though, he permitted only kissing and some light petting, anymore and he would howl like a werewolf dipped in silver, right in my ear.

Tonight though I couldn’t find him, I saw that he’d been on the computer and I expected to see the usual zombie gnome porn, instead found something very different.

Now why would an imp want to read about genetic memory research?

Monday 28 April 2014

Guest Post on Kit Tinsley's Blog

I've written a guest post for Kit Tinsley's blog called - Techno Horror: Technology as the new supernatural, take a look here:

Guest Author Interview - S A Check

Science Fiction author S. A. Check joins me in today's guest author interview to tell us about his novel 'Welcome to GreenGrass', discover more about him and his writing below:

Click on image to purchase from Amazon

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do? 
Hi…I’m S.A. Check and I’m a sci-fi fantasy author with Bedlam Press, an imprint for Necro Publications. They’ve been in the publishing industry for twenty years and a proven leader in the horror genre. My debut novel Welcome to GreenGrass came out in late November 2013.

What first inspired you to start writing? 
It’s intrinsic to me. I’ve always been drawn to the written word and realms of the imagination. I grew up on comics and fantasy novels, played D&D and other role playing games. I majored in English in college and have crafted stories all my life.

And what attracted you to writing a sci-fi fantasy story? 
It’s such a wide open genre where your imagination and stories are given free range. You don’t need to be confined by convention or rules. Building a world of your own in each story that you craft is incredibly fulfilling. You can lose yourself in a good book for hours but to build your own from scratch takes months and months and if you truly enjoy what you’re doing, then it’s worth the effort. I love both genres and I’m hoping fans of either particular end of the spectrum will find something to enjoy in GreenGrass.

Where do your best ideas come from? 
I keep an idea notebook. Something may strike me at really any given point in the day (or night) and it’s usually a mixture of several things over time to form the basis for one of my stories. One of my favorite sayings is that it’s the small dramas in life that make for the best writing but science fiction and fantasy allow me as a writer to drape those dramas against some original backdrops.

What new aspect do you bring to your stories? 
Someone once said, either bring something new to the table or write it so well that the reader can’t help but be drawn it. I don’t know who that someone was and I pretty much paraphrased that whole saying but you get the idea. Every story I write, I try to throw everything and the kitchen sink into it, thinking this may be the last story I ever write, and not to hold back or keep something for later. My stories move fast and first and foremost I want to entertain. If I change a perspective or add to a reader’s world view, then all the better. When they finish the ride, I want them to feel it was worth the price of the ticket.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why? 
Wow – that’s a tough one. I started reading comics when I was eleven and I honestly can say a lot of those figures helped shape my views and how do you compete with fictional characters? In literary circles, I’d have to say Sam Clemens. As a writer, author, personality, the layers that his work touched on, especially as a satirist, have always left me impressed. AND we could go fishing together on the banks of the Mississippi and I could steal a couple quotes!

What was the last book you enjoyed? 
I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy but I always jump out of genre to keep a fresh perspective. I’m a fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden series and lately I’ve been enjoying A Lee Martinez, having finished Monster not long ago. Take me somewhere I’ve never been and give me a chuckle or two along the way and you’ve usually got me hooked.

What are you working on at the moment? 
I’m finishing up revisions of another novel. It’s a romp through another fantastical world but with a bit of a twist that I’m hoping readers who enjoyed Welcome to GreenGrass will carry over into. It centers on trust and friendship as the characters grow and learn a bit about themselves. I suppose its New Adult but I really drafted it before that term came into play. Oh yeah, there are ghosts, virtual realities, and guys in armored flying suits too – just so you don’t think I’m getting soft.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more. 
I started writing Welcome to GreenGrass way back in 2008 and I’ve completed a couple more novels and several projects since but this story always stayed close and when Necro Publications offered me the chance to publish it, I was thrilled that it would my debut book. Their Bedlam Press imprint is hitting on all cylinders and I’m glad I got a seat on the bus to go along for the ride. Dave Barnett, the man behind Necro Publishing, made the process super smooth and being backed by someone with his talent and experience just adds to the process. This was the type of novel I grew up reading and really is an amalgamation of the many literary influences to this point in my career. Hopefully readers will be entertained and if I accomplish that, then I’ve done my job. You can check out my author profile over at Necro’s site,, and follow me on Facebook, Twitter - @S_A_Check, Google+, my blog –, GoodReads, Instagram, Pinterest, amazon profile, and Tumblr (whew!). Here’s a link to the book and you can always pick it up at Amazon books - I hope you check it out and enjoy!

Welcome to GreenGrass

Click here to purchase Welcome to GreenGrass from Amazon

Saturday 26 April 2014

April Short Fiction Contest Winners

That fun time of the month has arrived where I read the entrants for the last short fiction contest and re-read and re-read again until I pick the three winners. Once again the quality of the entries made it a difficult, although enjoyable task. Before I announce the winners I'd like to thank everyone who entered, I sometimes wish that I could afford to hand out more prizes! Thanks also to those who have supported the contest by helping to spread the word, please continue to do so, your efforts are much appreciated.

And now, with great pleasure here are the winners:

  • First prize of a £50 Amazon gift card goes to Jonathan Hill for his story 'Lucy'.
  • Second prize of a £20 Amazon gift card goes to Andrew Campbell-Kearsey for his story 'Johnny Remember Me'.
  • Third prize of a £10 Amazon gift card goes to Anita Dickason for her story 'Not Dead, Not Dead'.
Congratulations to the winners, for fans of short and flash fiction come and join the Facebook group that I've set up to discover and promote stories in those forms:

And now let's enjoy the winning stories.

Lucy by Jonathan Hill

Mother was outside sweeping leaves when the doll first spoke to Beth.

“I can’t see.”

Beth turned from her colouring-in. She was losing interest anyway, having gone outside the lines more than once.

“I can’t see.”

“Of course you can’t see,” Beth answered. “You’re a doll. You’re not real.”

“If I’m not real, how can I be talking to you?”

“It’s all pretend. My imagination is making you talk to me. You’re not really talking, silly!”

“Of course I’m really talking, you fucking stupid bitch.”

And that’s when Beth knew the doll really was talking. Because she hadn’t heard of several of those words, so how could she possibly have made her imagination make the doll speak them?

“If you’re real,” Beth asked nervously, “what’s your name?”

“My real name or the one your dumb bitch of a mother gave me when she was little?”

That word again. Bitch. What did it mean? And why was the doll staring at her like that? She shrugged.

“My real name is Lucy. Lucy Fur. It’s NOT Jemima. Who the fuck does your mother think she is? Naming things that already have a name. It’s like me deciding to change your name to Lady Gaga or Bruce Forsyth. You wouldn’t like that, Beth, would you?”

The doll knew Beth’s name? That was more unnerving to her than the fact the doll Mother had handed down to her was talking at all. And who were Lady Gaga and Bruce Forsyth? She shrugged again.

“You’re not very communicative, Beth, considering you’re a human and I’m a piece of plastic moulded into something that’s meant to look pretty. I’ll tell you something, lady. I may look pretty but inside I ain’t fucking pretty.”

Beth looked at Lucy a little more closely. No, she didn’t look any prettier than before. She decided to be honest. “I’ve always thought you ugly, especially with that hole where your eye should be.”

“Ah, that brings me to where we began our little tete-a-tete. I can only see out of one eye because when your mother was five, she dropped me out of a window.”

“I’m sure she didn’t mean…”

“She did. She fucking did. She wanted me to die. But I’m prepared to finally forgive her if you do something.”

Beth nodded slowly. She didn’t want Lucy to hate her mother.

“Come closer then!” said Lucy, before whispering into Beth’s ear.

“Are you sure?” asked Beth.

“Listen to what your mother says. The clues are all there,” reassured Lucy.

Downstairs, while Mother was watching the news on television, Lucy listened carefully for clues. Finally she heard one.

“I can’t bear to see all this misery in the world,” announced Mother, grimacing at plumes of smoke rising from a burning building.

So Lucy was right? Mother really didn’t want to see any more.

Taking the scissors from the kitchen drawer, she knew what she needed to do. She had to cut the bitch’s eyes out.

Johnny Remember Me by Andrew Campbell-Kearsey

‘It’s your electrics, mate. You’re going to need the place completely rewired. It’s a deathtrap.’

John shook his head. The cash cow he’d inherited from his great aunt was fast becoming a white elephant.

‘It’s going to cost at least twelve grand,’ said the electrician before he left.

John remembered childhood stays at this seaside resort where “The Fright of Your Life” was the biggest tourist attraction in the area. He recalled the queues and helping out on the ice cream stand. His parents were concerned that spending time amongst the machines that were designed to scare the punters with their staring eyes and mechanically controlled limbs would lead to nightmares. But John had loved seeing behind the scenes as well as hearing the squeals and shrieks of shock and horror from the paying public.

A stocktaking of his inheritance showed that half of the models were beyond repair and that the remaining half required substantial work to get them functional again.

He longed to escape his IT job in the city but wondered whether this was a viable money-making option. His business self knew it was a huge risk. He worried that the public’s tastes had become more sophisticated when it came to horror. They demanded realism. But his sentimental heart wanted to resurrect the attraction as a way of recapturing his childhood memories.

John decided to spend the evening walking among the exhibits before he made up his mind. His friends had suggested throwing a party. They thought it would be cool to spend time there after-hours amongst the fake blood and pretend instruments of torture. But he needed time on his own. Besides, the place was a health and safety minefield.

He let himself using the huge bunch of keys the solicitor had given him. “The Fright” had been locked up for years and the natural spiders’ webs made the place look creepier than any special effects expert could manage.

He stopped at the refreshments counter. There were just a few popcorn kernels visible on the counter. The few working lights flickered. John lit his path with the app on his iPhone. The soles of his trainers stuck to the carpets in the hallway. He looked in at some of the rooms, whose names he recalled from his youth. “The Mad Dentist” had always been popular with shrieks from the hapless patients while he extracted teeth without anaesthetic. There was a door at the end without a name. Perhaps it was for storage. He tried the door handle. It was stiff but gave way when he applied pressure. He was in a small room he didn’t recall. There was a small mannequin of a girl in the centre attached to an electrical cable. He put the plug into the socket to see if the machine came to life. Her one lifeless eye appeared to stare right at him. She spoke with the voice of his aunt,

‘Why did you have to kill me, Johnny?’

Not Dead, Not Dead by Anita Dickason

The doorbell ringing at 4am was not what I wanted to hear after two hours in bed.  The last three days had been hell, with little sleep and excessive cups of coffee.  The reason: Amanda Hawkins, age six, three days missing.  Following leads from the Amber Alert meant pounding the pavement, with an urgency of minutes passing with no success.  Being the police chief was not always a desk job.

Flipping on a light, I step out my front door.  Finding no one at my door did not improve my mood.  Seeing a creepy and battered old doll leaning against the porch rail added more irritation. The doll was a child’s nightmare come true: tangled grey hair, dirty and cracked face, black eye socket with an eye missing and a ragged looking dress.

Not having time to deal with someone’s idea of a prank, I turn to walk back in the house.  I hear a voice echoing in the dark: “not dead, not dead.”  Looking back, the doll’s one eye seems to bore into my very soul.  For a second I am disoriented, everything whirling around me.    Following an urge I did not understand, I pick up the doll.  Suddenly, I am no longer on the porch.  The doll is pulling me through a fog laden tunnel.  I have a momentary vision of the doll in a stark and barren room with peeling wallpaper and skulls hanging on the wall.  Another child is there.  Somehow, I knew the child had been abducted and tortured.  The doll is hers.  As the little girl dies, the doll changes from a pretty toy to the ghoulish figure I hold. The doll absorbed the horror of what happened to the child in that room.

The doll pulls me further into the tunnel to a street corner I recognize.  I walked this street talking to the Hawkins’ neighbors.  The street disappears and the tunnel ends in a basement.  I see Amanda lying on the floor, hands and feet are tied.  The voice repeats: “not dead, not dead.”  Before I can reach her, I am pulled back into the tunnel.  When my vision clears I am back on my porch still holding the doll.

At that moment I knew, with absolute certainty, where to find Amanda.  I had talked to the owner of the house during the neighborhood search.  Dropping the doll, I run to my car. I call for backup as I race to the location.  When the search team enters the house, I immediately head to the basement.  I find Amanda lying on the floor, just as I had seen her. She was alive and again I hear the voice, this time with a note of joy: “not dead, not dead.”

At home, I cannot find the doll.  It is gone.  As I ponder my incredible experience, for a brief instant I see the doll: desolate and alone, standing guard in a barren room of lost hope.

Friday 25 April 2014

Guest Author Interview - Craig Furchtenicht

Craig Furchtenicht, author of Dimebag Bandits joins me for today's Guest Author Interview, discover more about him and his writing below:

Click on image to purchase from Amazon

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Craig Furchtenicht. I am 43 years old. I live in the beautiful state of Iowa in the USA with my wife, Henrietta. I pay the bills by working as a technician in a toothbrush manufacturing facility. I keep my sanity by writing as often as time permits. I also enjoy the outdoors, gardening and rock hunting. I am a voracious reader of good fiction. Reading is my drug.

What first inspired you to start writing?
I fell in love with short stories in grade school when I stumbled upon a copy of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. The ending blew me away. Novels such as The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton made me realize that there was an outlet for my wildly overactive imagination.

Where do your best ideas come from?
Most of my ideas come to me during my morning shower or my drive to work. I also get inspired by real life events that I read or see on the news. Occasionally my wife will pitch me an idea and say "You should write a story about that." She is usually always right.

What do you find most rewarding about writing?
Holding a print copy of my first novel, Dimebag Bandits was an amazing feeling. I also love the fact that complete strangers are reading thoughts that were spawned from my own warped mind.

And the most challenging?
Time, more the specifically the lack of time is the biggest challenge. I rarely have a lack of things to write, just the time to get them on paper. I have to sleep some time.

What is your favourite song lyric?
Tell your children not to walk my way
Tell your children not to hear my words
What they mean
What they say

Can you keep them in the dark for life
Can you hide them from the waiting world - Danzig, Mother

What makes your writing different?
I think that my writing, although a bit edgy, is laden with a sense of truthful reality that sometimes cuts to the bone. I do not bother toning it down to be politically correct or easy to swallow. If my character is an evil person or an ignorantly hateful bigot, then so be it. These characters do not represent me in any way shape or form. I feel that too many writers are afraid that they will be perceived as bad people if their characters are too explicit in dialogue and substance. This only takes away from the true point of the work.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on a collection of short stories called Night Speed Zero. I am also starting a follow up to Dimebag Bandits. It is tentatively titled Meat Man. It is about a vegetarian who works as a meat cutter in a grocery store. He is an extremely shy character who gets thrust into a situation beyond his control. Without giving too much away, several characters from Dimebag Bandits make appearances in this novel as well.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
My novel Dimebag bandits is available on Amazon in both ebook and paperback formats. It is set in a fictional town in Iowa. The main characters make their living by robbing drug dealers. The job is dangerous but their greatest danger comes from each other. It is also about families divided by betrayal and lack of trust.

Click here to purchase Dimebag Bandit from Amazon

Link to the video trailer:

Book Impressions - Horror Stories by Alan Toner

This is a collection of horror themed short stories, most of them follow familiar themes, although the author does bring an unusual angle to most of them. They are a bit of a mixed bag, they're all readable although only a few really stand out as something special. The ones that worked best for me was the opening tale set in a wax museum, the story wasn't particularly novel, but it was well written and contained some decent horror moments.

The story with the mouse terrorising an old women was another excellent story from this collection, this was a more interesting idea that I thought was quite novel. The writing throughout is solid, although at times it did feel like someone telling a story rather than being inside the story. That's only a minor issue though, for fans of horror this is well worth a read.

Click image to purchase from Amazon

Horror Stories is a new collection of fright fiction by Alan Toner, author of the True Ghost Stories series. Twelve terrifying tales covering all aspects of the horror genre - from vampires to demons to ghosts - guaranteed to chill your blood and give you many a sleepless night!

CHAMBER OF HORRORS - Sinister entities lurk within the bowels of a wax museum . . . much to the horror of a curator, who finds himself locked in there overnight.

BEACH BABE - A single, romance-seeking guy encounters a mysterious blonde beauty whilst on holiday . . . and pays a terrifying price for his obsession.

TURNING THE TABLES - A modern-day Dr Frankenstein meets with a gruesome fate when he tries to emulate the notorious mad scientist.

THE MOUSE - An old widow is plagued by rodent in her new home. But is there more to this creature than meets the eye?

These are just a few examples of the kind of terror tales you will find in this collection.

If you love reading The Pan Book of Horror Stories and The Year's Best New Horror, then you are sure to enjoy reading this spine-chilling collection.

Click here to purchase Horror Stories from Amazon (it's a decent horror read)

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Blog Shout Out - Dianne Harman

There's a name change to the Wednesday Blog feature, it will now be called Blog Shout Out, which is a bit clearer I'm sure you'll agree! This week we feature Dianne Harmen's blog, you can read all about it in her own words below.

If you have a blog that you would like featured then drop me a line and I'll take a look.

I started the website and blog about a year and a half ago. A mentor of mine told me that if I was going to be an author, I needed to have a website and blog, and so I began. While the majority of my blogs deal with the process of writing, marketing, and producing book, I also put the articles that I write for Huffington Post on it as well. I’ve found people really enjoy a break from the novel!

Below are two articles that recently appeared on my blog. One deals with book covers and the other with the miracle of hummingbirds which was recently in the Huffington Post.

It still amazes me that I’m an author of four published books because it all just happened. My husband and I were at a boutique hotel in Palm Springs, California for a wedding 2 ½ years ago. It was 107 degrees outside and the air-conditioning felt wonderful! Where it came from I’ll never know, but out of the blue I turned to my husband and said, wouldn’t it be interesting if someone put a feel-good drug in the air-conditioning and everyone felt good all the time. He looked at me and said, “There’s your book..” And Blue Coyote Motel was birthed, followed by Coyote in Provence.

At the time my husband was a California Senator and so Tea Party Teddy and Tea Party Teddy’s Legacy soon followed. I’ll be publishing Cornered Coyote within a few weeks and Dinner Party Diva and the Red Cedar Spa will follow that. I’ve never had so much fun!!! When knew at this stage of my life there would be a whole new career opening up? Not me!

Visit Dianne Harmen's blog here:


They’re Leaving the Nest — A Leap of Faith

Who doesn’t love springtime? No matter what our age, we feel a sense of renewal. The trees are heavy with fruit, the wisteria is brilliant on the patio, the garden is a riot of color, the butterflies are on the milkweed and the hummingbirds have laid their eggs.

Therein is the problem. This year, we have two hummingbird nests, one directly outside my office window on the second floor and one just beyond the side patio on the first floor. The nests are a work of art and the comings and goings of the mommas distract me when I should be writing, but how many times do you have a front row seat to watch a miracle taking place right in front of you?

I’ve been very concerned about one of the hummingbird mommas. I think I’m witnessing a bad hummingbird mother and I don’t think there’s a 12-step group for help or a place I can report her. I’ve never heard of the “Bad Hummingbird Mothers Self-Help Group!”

The silken nest outside my office window was the home a year ago for two eggs which later hatched and became beautiful hummingbirds. I watched by the hour as momma gathered nectar and fed her babies. I watched them grow and held my breath the first time they flapped their tiny little wings. I freely admit it; I cried when they left. I can only imagine what the world must look like to a baby hummingbird perched on the edge of its nest, read to spread its wings for its first flight. That momma watched them as they took their first tentative flight and then flew to where they were. Talk about a leap of faith! I wonder if momma hummingbird felt like I did, that those babies were just too young to be out in the world on their own.

I was surprised when I looked out the window about a month ago and noticed there were two perfect little hummingbird eggs in last year’s nest. I thought hummingbirds always constructed new nests each year, but when I went to the Internet — and who doesn’t go there when information is needed? — it said in some cases, the momma or her babies may return to the nest from the year before to lay their eggs. Who knew? However, this year I became concerned because I never saw momma on the nest. I know she had to be there or they wouldn’t have hatched. No doubt about it, momma from last year was a much better mother. I never saw this year’s momma feed her birds, but I know she had to or they wouldn’t have been able to fly away. And I was there when they flew away, she wasn’t.

The nest near our patio is a little more difficult to see because I have to look up, not out, to see it. That nest’s momma is a good one. Every time I’ve been there she’s been on the nest. While I can’t see directly into it without getting a ladder and I’m afraid it might disturb her, enough time has gone by that the eggs should be hatching any day now. The other afternoon, I took a friend out to see the nest and momma hummingbird was on the nest as usual. Momma always stays on the nest when just one person is under it, but this time she flew to an upper branch and sat, watching us. I feel certain she was protecting her soon-to-be babies. She’s a good momma.

I’d like to think we mommas of all species share something in common: We watch out for our hatchlings. I worried when our children first drove. Now I wonder if momma hummingbird worries when her babies are flying around. You know I’ll be eagerly looking out my office window next year to see if any of them return to the nest to lay their eggs. I hope it’s a good momma. I’m pretty disappointed with this year’s upstairs momma.

Ahh nature. What a miracle!


I’ve read and been told that the cover of a book is critical to the success of the book. I’ve always agreed with the statement. Where I erred was not making the distinction between aesthetics and marketing. I published Coyote in Provence several months ago and I loved the cover the graphic artist did. I thought it was beautiful and I still do. What I didn’t take into account was that it really said nothing about what was in the book.

The book did fine, but not what I thought it could do. Overall, the reviews were excellent and when I did a special promotion, it always sold well, but something was niggling at me. I decided maybe it needed another cover. Bingo! The man who did the cover captured the essence of the book. And here’s the interesting part. I took out an ad on Goodreads months ago. I switched my ad from Blue Coyote Motel to Coyote in Provence. Within one week I’ve received more clicks on Goodreads than I had the entire last few months. Plus, I’ve received several great reviews since it went up. Here’s one  as well as both the before and after covers.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Tuesday Tease - Acid Sky by Mark Anson

This week's Tuesday Tease is provided by Mark Anson from his sci-fi novel 'Acid Sky'. This is the prequel to 'Mercury Rising' a book that I enjoyed reading and I'd recommend for science fiction fans, you can read my review here. I have 'Acid Sky' waiting in my TBR list, maybe you will too after reading the excerpt below:

Click on image to purchase from Amazon

Acid Sky
by Mark Anson

Dawn over the second planet from the Sun.

Clare looked out over the wastes of cloud to the western horizon, where the sky lightened from black to a deep blue. Mercury was a brilliant star in the west, climbing up the sky in its futile attempt to outrun the Sun. Overhead, the night sky still sparkled with the brightest stars, but they were fading one by one, as the light crept upwards on the edge of the world. The tops of the upper cloud deck were silhouetted against the growing light on the horizon, but the world around the flying carrier was dark.

She stood in the flight operations centre, at the top of the air control tower, ten metres above the flight deck. The Langley was rising up out of the clouds after its night-time air mining operations. So far, only the control tower protruded, racing through the clouds like the tailfin of some vast animal. The streamlined fairing of the landing radar was next to emerge, turning in the darkness as it scanned the sky. Then, all around her, the huge area of the carrier surfaced through the cloud deck.

From this high vantage point, the enormous size of the Langley could truly be appreciated. Clare watched, transfixed, as the flight deck emerged, three hundred metres long, outlined in in a blaze of yellow lights down the edges, and white down the centreline. Then the wings, nearly two hundred metres across, marked out by red and green navigation lights at the wingtips, and with a smaller set of canard wings at the front. Finally, the large ventral fins and rudders, built on the underside to keep the deck area clear, burst free of the clouds, and the Langley climbed into the deep blue of the dawn sky.

In the centre of the flight deck, the spaceplane that had brought them here the day before rose slowly into view on the elevator, illuminated from below by the lines of deck lighting. Its giant fuel tanks were filled to their maximum capacity for the long climb to orbit, and held over 150 tonnes of cryogenic propellants, kept liquid under intense cold. A heavy-duty cable snaked up into a port in the belly of the spaceplane, keeping the craft supplied with power until it started its engines. As the elevator reached the deck surface, twenty-four giant steel pins, forced into place by hydraulic pressure, locked the elevator into position and took the load off the lifting rams.

Inside the control tower, the only light came from the various displays that showed the Langley’s attitude and position, the weather all round, and the trim of the huge craft. Another display showed the orbital situation of the space tugs circling high above the planet, and the curving line of the ascent trajectory that the spaceplane would take on its climb up to the Indianapolis, where it would transfer its passengers to the tug for their return journey to Earth.

Besides Clare, there were only five other people in the flight operations centre: the tower controller, three crewmembers manning various consoles, and Shaffer, who stood towards the front windows, watching the deck through binoculars. Clare was a little way back, by one of the side windows. The dark blue flight overalls that she was dressed in were a long way from the formality of last night, but Clare was much more at her ease. She had reported here at 05:30 as Shaffer had suggested, and one of the crewmembers had let her in and shown her where to stand, where she could see everything but not be in anyone’s sight line.

‘Launch window’s open, sir.’ The crewman monitoring the orbital situation display looked up from his monitor.

‘Roger. Let them know.’ Shaffer didn’t remove the binoculars from his eyes as he watched the spaceplane on the flight deck.

‘Orbital One Four Nine, Tower, launch window is open.’

‘One Four Nine, roger. Ready to start engines.’ Clare could hear Hartigan’s voice on the speakers.

‘One Four Nine, clear to start engines. Report when ready for disconnect.’

Clare imagined the scene on board the spaceplane, Hartigan watching the engine RPM come up as his copilot started them in turn. She could see a faint cough of flame from each engine as it ignited, before it was snatched away by the slipstream.

She glanced back to the western horizon. The dark blue of the sky had lightened in the last few minutes, and she could see the whole of the horizon clearly now, extending round the Langley.

‘One Four Nine, four good engines. On internal power, brakes on, ready to disconnect.’

‘One Four Nine, ready disconnect.’ The tower controller changed channel. ‘Deck Ops, Tower. Disconnect umbilical and close up.’

‘Deck Ops, disconnect and close, roger.’

Shaffer lowered his binoculars and looked down at the weather radar.

‘Come round to two six five.’

‘Two six five, roger.’ The tower controller spoke briefly to the control room, requesting a course change, and a few moments later Clare could see the nose of the Langley, silhouetted against the pale light of dawn, move a fraction to the left and steady out …

Click here to purchase Acid Sky from Amazon

About the Author

Mark Anson has had a lifelong interest in reading and writing science fiction thrillers and adventures, and spends considerable effort researching and creating the highly detailed and scientifically accurate settings and drawings for his novels.

'I think it's important to get accuracy and consistency in any fictional setting - whether it's a historical romance or a science fiction adventure set on a distant planet. To me, the background is as essential as the story itself, and I strive to make it as believable as possible.'

Mark lives with his wife in the depths of the Suffolk, England countryside with horses, cats and various other animals. He is currently working on the next novel in the series, which is set between the events of 'Acid Sky' and 'Below Mercury', and is set in space, beyond the orbit of Mars.

Monday 21 April 2014

Guest Post - Research to be Real by Abby Vandiver

Research and Your Novel

It’s 4am. You slip quietly out of bed, not wanting to wake your better half. You check the digital clock – it’s three hours before you have to shower and go to work. You figure you can write a thousand words in those three hours. You’ve got the entire scene playing in your head, have since you woke up at two. You grab a cup of coffee, slide your feet across the floor in your fluffy house shoes, turn on the song that you know will inspire you really low so not to wake anyone, and sit in front of your computer. It’s still dark out, nothing is going to distract you. You stretch your fingers and place them on the keyboard . . .

“The howling wind blew through the dark alley . . .”

Wait, you think. I don’t know how that back alley should look, or where in the city it would be. So you pull up Google Earth and look for an area where there is a back alley that’ll fit into the scene. Then you zoom in to see how the alley looks, wanting to write as realistic of a description of the alley as you can. Maybe you can make it up you think. No, you decide, you do want my reader to be able to picture it, to feel like they are actually there. Maybe a car should be in the alley, you think. What kind of car? Light bulb! A green Karmann Ghia. Wait, did they make them in green? Let me Google that. 

And so it goes. Ending up that in those three hours that you rose early to write your thousand or so words, you’ve only got a paragraph because you needed to look up more in that scene than you realized.

The old adage goes, “Write what you know.” But the rule is “Show don’t tell.” You want to show the locale, the dialect of the people, the aromas and sights that fill the street so the feeling your reader gets is real. Even to write what you know, you may still have to do some research - look at old pictures, see, touch, feel what you want to write in the book, so that your reader can experience that sensation through your words. But there are times when you write that you venture out of your comfort zone, when don’t write about what you know. For instance, writing a historical novel. Research can get much more in depth and take up more of your writing time than you imagined. You are writing fiction, certainly. And fiction is a form of entertainment, but when you flub historical facts that people know, putting a telephone in 1867 Tennessee, you jerk your reader out of the story. It’s important to make a story feel real, and to make it believable. To do that you need to do research.

It used to be that authors went to the exotic places they wrote about, they shadowed that snarky detective that was to be their main character, and they cooked up the creations in their kitchens to determine the smell and tastes of the foods their characters were eating. And those authors less fortunate had to take to the library, search out travel books, and talk to their friend’s cousin who knew a sheriff once. Or just make it up as they went along, which surely sent potential readers scurrying in the other direction. But not today. The Internet is replete with everything you need to know to write, whether your book takes place in Paris in the year 1012, or in space in the year 2645. You can get a satellite image of street in Italy, follow it and see the sights, shops and the people there. I did it, and readers often asked me, “Have you have been to Italy? Your description seemed so real.”

In my new book, At the End of the Line that I coauthored with Kathryn Dionne under the pen name of Kathryn Longino, we wrote about the 50, 60, and 70s. It was about civil rights and politics during a time when we were too young to follow it. But no worry because with YouTube we were able to go back and watch the videos of what happened on the streets of Jackson, Mississippi, listen to Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington, and see how the TV broadcast looked when it interrupted the soap opera As the World Turns when Walter Cronkite announced President Kennedy had been shot. Google maps afforded us to see the directions and routes our characters would take as they traveled within the pages of our book. And Wikipedia gave us an inside view of the events we wrote about, their catalysts and how the outcome reverberated in our society. We were able to bring our story to life by learning about the actual events that went into our story. These, I believe, are the things that will draw a reader in, and make him feel as if he were there. And that’s exactly how you want your reader to experience.

Researching your book before you start and supplementing your knowledge while writing will give your book a feel of authenticity, captivate your readers, and give your story depth. It is important that you do your research if you want to write a good story. And with the advent of the Internet and search engines (and, don’t forget there’s still a library in every neighborhood), there is no reason not to get the facts straight in your book. Take the time to do the necessary research for your book. You’ll be happier with the outcome and so will your reader.

Click image to purchase from Amazon
A wrong number, and a cry of desperation at the end of the line, sparks a long distance friendship between two women who’ve never met. Through fourteen years of trouble and heartache from a stagnant domestic life, the struggle for civil rights, and the stigma of interracial relationships, a bond forms between the two that changes both of their lives forever. 

It’s 1958, a time when women and Negroes are deemed second-class and are being second-guessed, from there arises the perfect storm for change, and the perfect time for an unlikely friendship.

Beatrice “Beanie” Peterson, forced to marry at fifteen and live with two sister wives, six children, and an abusive husband twenty years her senior, is looking for a way out.

Adeline “Liddie” Garrison, friend of Jack Kennedy, wife of a prominent Boston business man, and resident of Beacon Hill has already found her way in.

About the Authors:

Kathryn Longino is a pen name for the writing team of authors Abby L. Vandiver and Kathryn Dionne.

Born and raised in Ohio, Shondra C. Longino, who writes under the pen name Abby L. Vandiver, holds a bachelors in Economics, a masters in Public Administration and a Juris Doctor. These days, Ms. Longino enjoys writing and endeavors to devote all her extra time to it.

Her debut novel, In the Beginning, an Amazon #1 bestseller in its category, was written on a whim, put in a box for more than a decade, and finally pulled out, dusted off and published in 2013. Its stand-alone sequel, Irrefutable Proof, is also a bestseller and is available on Amazon.

Ms. Longino resides in Cleveland, Ohio and has four wonderful grandchildren, Gavin, Sydne September and Riley.

To learn more about Author Abby L. Vandiver, visit her website:, or Twitter: @AbbyVandiver, Facebook: AbbyVandiver

Kathryn Dionne lives in Southern California with her husband, Jeff, and their two Shar Peis, Bogey and Gracie.

From an early age, Kathryn's love of treasure hunting sparked an interest in archaeology. As an amateur archaeologist, she's been fortunate enough to uncover some very unique artifacts in different parts of the globe. However, she's still searching for that very special scroll.

In addition to writing, she manages their five-acre property and their grove of Italian olive trees. Her husband has lovingly named their business; Saint Kathryn's Olive Oil.

In her spare time, she makes cookie jars and throws pottery in her studio. She also creates mosaics from discarded objects and sells them under the category of Found Art.

She is currently writing a new series called; Chasing Time, which she hopes to have published some time in 2014.

To learn more about Kathryn Dionne, please visit her website at:

Book Impressions - Trolls on Ice by Rosen Trevithick

This is the third in the Smelly Trolls series and I enjoyed the previous two books a lot and have been looking forward to reading this one. I'm pleased to say that it didn't disappoint. As I've mentioned before I'm not a child (by outward appearances at least!), nor do I have children, but it does appeal to my inner child. With the fun characters in the story this would be a fun book to read out to children as well as one older ones can read themselves.

It seems to me that being a troll is a harsh life, you are condemned for eating children, which on the face of it might seem wrong, although some compromise could be reached I think. For example, maybe the naughty ones could be left out for troll consumption, or special farms - free range naturally I'm not a savage.

Protecting us from the troll menace is a young lad called Rufus, he's a troll hunter. When he and his class go for a skiing trip into the mountains he discovers that the Trollymics are taking place. Trolls normally stick to their small family groups, but they come together for their big sporting event. With so many trolls in the same place a hotel full of children make an ideal target for trolls looking for a snack.

The writing is very funny and there's some great opportunity for silly voices. The social interaction between the children is excellent, it doesn't shy away from conflict, but does so in a way that is well handled. In the grand tradition of children's tales it is very silly, full of menace and the camaraderie of young friends. It's a lot of fun to read as a grown up, but would be even better shared with its intended audience.

It also ends with the ideal hook for the next story, so I'm looking forward to that.

Click on image to purchase from Amazon

Book 3 in the Smelly Trolls series.

Brawnulator Powerknees picks other people’s noses, smells like mutated tuna and eats small children. He is the strongest, fastest, most desirable man on the planet – to a troll.

When Rufus and his friends go on a skiing holiday to the Craggle Alps, they have no idea that the Winter Trollympics – the biggest sporting event of the troll calendar – is taking place nearby.

Sporting a wide variety of dangerous athletes, including Brawnulator, the Winter Trollympics is a hazardous place for children to be. But an avalanche blocks the railway line, leaving Rufus and his friends stranded amongst the hungry beasts.

A slippery, icy adventure packed with hideous trolls, winter sports and lots and lots of snotacular calamities.

Click here to purchase Trolls on Ice from Amazon (and it's a fun read)

Sunday 20 April 2014

Film Review - The Paranormal Diaries Clophill

I enjoyed this film more than it deserved, mostly because of nostalgia. It's a low budget found footage horror film and on that front it's not anything special. The nostalgic feeling comes from the storyline which reminded me of an urban legend when I was a young boy. I used to live near some ancient monuments that apparently were used for Satanic rituals back in the early eighties, which is essentially what the film is about. The story even has the police sealing these areas off to prevent foolish young boys from trying to enter these areas. It scared the crap out of me when I discovered that the police actually did prevent kids from sneaking into these area at night.

Which is more than this film managed. It's a real slow burner and there's more build up here than anything of substance. For the most part it feels the same as the ghost hunting TV shows that haunt TV channels with nothing better to show. It has a few good moments, but not enough to lift it to anything resembling a decent horror.

I was interested enough to keep watching to the end to see what our intrepid TV crew uncovered. The ending is contrived and tries to leave you with a mystery, but by that point I no longer cared.

In March 1963 a black mass was held within the ruins of a church in the small English village of Clophill. Tombs were desecrated and animals sacrificed during the macabre ritual.

Fifty tears on, following numerous reports of strange apparitions since that infamous ceremony, an investigative film crew was assembled to interview eyewitnesses and set up camp within the church ruins. During that ling night ahead they hoped to capture some kind of paranormal presence. Nothing however could of prepared them for the terrifying scenes they were about to witness and the events that followed.

Official selection at UK's biggest horror film festival Frightfest 2013

Click here to purchase The Paranormal Diaries Clophill from Amazon (and you shouldn't bother)

May 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!

We go old school for this month's short fiction contest image. The moon was one of the first inspirations for human story telling and still holds our imaginations generations later. I'm looking forward to reading what different stories are sparked from the moon.

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 June 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 May 18th 2014.
  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.

Saturday 19 April 2014

Film Review - The Haunting In Connecticut 2

I'll confess that I enjoyed this more than I expected to. It starts off ok with a young mother who has visions, but is convinced that it's all in her head. That's a reasonable assumption, although it would have made for a different film. They move to a creepy cabin in the woods and right on schedule spooky events occur and the daughter also starts seeing the ghosts. Nothing special so far, although the visions were quite well done.

Things pick up a bit as the story progresses. The horror relies on the creepy visions and a few surprise encounters for its scares. The story is interesting, although a little predictable. The final part of the film makes up for the slow start and has some decent horror moments. There's some effective lighting used here as well.

Overall it's not great, but it's a decent horror film with some suitably dark moments.

The Wyrick family find themselves beset by malevolent ghosts in this tale of supernatural horror from director Tom Elkins. Andy (Chad Michael Murray) and his wife Lisa (Abigail Spencer) are over the moon when they find what seems to be the ideal location to bring up their young daughter Heidi (Emily Alyn Lind) - an old house situated deep in the woods of rural Georgia that used to be a staging post for escaping slaves on the underground railway. But soon after the move, as Heidi begins to witness a number of disturbing supernatural events, the ghostly spirits of the house's past return to unleash terror on the present owners.

Click here to purchase The Haunting in Connecticut 2 from Amazon (and it's a decent horror flick)

Film Review - Excalibur

This was one of my favourite films as a youth, not only that, it also provided my introduction to Karl Orff's Carmina Burana (along with the Old Spice advert, but this is better). It's been many years since I last watched this and while it has aged somewhat it remains an excellent film to watch. It also has a number of known actors that I didn't really know about at the time who are now household names - watching Patrick Stewart strut his stuff in plate armour is as entertaining as it sounds :-)

It's an epic tale based on the Arthurian legend and a dam fine one at that. The story is filled with stand out characters and each are a joy to watch. Arthur starts as a bumbling squire who becomes a just king, Merlin (who's voice is great) is the sorcerer who tries unite the people with their land. Helen Mirren does a fantastic job as Morgana seeking revenge for the deception of her mother. The tale is dark one and the film shows this.

I mentioned that it has aged, this is most obvious with the special effects. There's also a theatrical and over dramatic feel that adds to the dated feeling, although I quite liked that. The music is great, the pacing is spot on and all in all I really enjoyed watching this again.

Raised by Merlin, young Arthur draws the mystical sword of Excalibur from the stone and becomes King. He grows to manhood and with his wife Guenevere and first knight Lancelot unites the country and founds the Knights of the Round Table. An epic battle between the knights of good and evil decides the fate of Camelot.

Click here to purchase Excalibur from Amazon (and it's a fantastic film)

Friday 18 April 2014

Guest Author Interview - Chantal Noordeloos

Chantal Noordeloos, author of the short story collection 'Deeply Twisted' joins me for today's guest author interview, discover more below:

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Hi my name is Chantal Noordeloos, and when I grow up I want to be a mermaid… wait… uhm, that’s not right.. I grew up and I became the next best thing: I started writing. Most people ask me what genre I write and I tend to get a little evasive about that, because *sigh followed by a dramatic pause*… I may as well admit it now, I’m a genre floozy. I write anything from fantasy to sci-fi to horror, and I tend to be a little slipstream (mixing up the genres as I go along.) My latest love is Steampunk, which I like to mix up with the weird west and a bit of science fiction. I think my go to genre is Horror. I don’t know what it says about me that I find it easiest to write scary things. 

Once upon a time I had a very interesting life (most of this was before I became published) and I had a ton of wacky hobbies. Nowadays I mostly draw, once a year I still organize LARP events and on Friday nights we role play with friends.

What first inspired you to start writing?
That’s a difficult question to answer. Technically I’ve been writing since I knew how to make words, and I’ve been creating stories for as long as I remember. But I never saw myself as a writer, or even realized I had writing ambition until I turned fifteen. I had a wonderful English teacher who said: “This year we’re going to do a lot of creative writing.” I think I actually sighed and rolled my eyes. A week later I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.

And what attracted you to writing dark fiction?
Not a clue. I wanted to be a children’s book writer… I have no idea why I write so much horror. Like I said, it comes easy to me. Maybe behind my fluffy demeanor lays a black heart… though I doubt it, I think I’m rainbows and kittens most of the time. I think what helps me in writing dark fiction is that I’m scared of everything. And it helps thinking of scary things when you’re easily frightened.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history who would it be and why?
Since I’m not particularly politically inclined, I would have to go with Dorothy Parker. That lady’s writing got me through some very dark teenage angst moments, and I would love to hang out with someone as eloquent, sarcastic and witty as her.

What makes your stories stand out from other books?
This is an evil question. I don’t think I’m particularly into comparing my stories to other books. All I can say is that I have my own voice, and I like to think that I’m as original as I can be. Everything has been written before, it’s true, but I write things in ‘my way’ and give them my own twist. I like to surprise my readers and take them on a journey with me through the worlds I create. One of the things I hear a lot from my readers is that my work feels ‘real’, and that I write things as if they actually happened. I have to say that I didn’t hate hearing that.

Every writer values a good review, what has been your favourite so far?
You ask me to choose between my babies? *gasp*… how horrid! I don’t have a favourite, but I guess that the most recent one I got, really blew my socks off:

What was the last book you enjoyed?
Hmmm, I’m a rather critical reader. And though I think a lot of books are ‘okay’, there are only a few that really rock my world. The last book I read was Good Omens (I loved that, but I doubt it counts because I’ve read it at least 5 times before) The last new book I enjoyed had to be Ocean’s at the end of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman.

What are you working on at the moment?
This question made me smirk a bit, because I tend to work on a lot of different things at the same time. So bear with me, okay? I suspect I might be a little ADD. Right now I’m working on a high fantasy novel called Alleria, on a paranormal (angels and demons) novel called Celestials (it’ll be the first book from a series of 3) and the first installment (novelette size) of my ‘Even Hell Has Standards’ series (horror) called Pride (there will be seven short books, each representing one of the sins). I’m also working on part two of Coyote, called “The Clockwork Dragonfly”. And I’m working on several short stories.

Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
My latest release was my horror collection ‘Deeply Twisted.’ It can be found in all the usual ‘book hang outs’ online, like, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords etc. If you want a bit more personal information you can connect with me on my facebook page:
Or find me at the where there is more information about the Coyote series as well. These series are a bit different, because not only is there a book, the written part is accompanied by a second screen website that, and gives little extras like background music and short stories to add to the content.

Click here to purchase Deeply Twisted from Amazon

Book Impressions - American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I was recently asked what my favourite Neil Gaiman book was an I immediately picked American Gods (although Good Omens is hot on its tail), I then realised that I hadn't read it for a few years so I decided to give it another read. I'm pleased I did as it was actually better than I remembered. I know that this book has been criticised as a piece of writing, primarily because it does feel quite indulgent. Personally it's part of the charm for me, it fits the journey that is the core of the story.

And what a story it is. It has a marvelous scope and an interesting take on the meaning of being a god. Great as the story as, it was the characters and their interactions that stood out more than the plot. The vision of the blend of normal and paranormal provides some fun insights.

The Kindle version has some extra text that was removed from the original release, to be honest I don't remember the text well enough to comment on whether it adds or detracts. It didn't feel over long, in fact I would have happily continued reading more about what happened. This was a great read and even better the second time round.

Days before his release from prison, Shadow's wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.

Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.

Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, AMERICAN GODS takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You'll be surprised by what and who it finds there...

This is the author's preferred text, never before published in the UK, and is about 12,000 words longer than the previous UK edition.

Click here to purchase American Gods from Amazon

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Wednesday Blog - Jim Webster

Welcome to the start of a new feature here on The Cult of Me, a lot of the features on my blog are centred around giving something back to the various communities that I interact with. One of those is the blogging community who do a great job in providing a rich diversity of content not just related to books, but other topics as well. So every Wednesday I shall be featuring a blog and I hope you'll find them interesting and check them out for yourself. We start with Jim Webster's blog, find out more in his own words below:

What’s your blog about Jim?

That’s an interesting question. There have been times when I’ve sat down to write it and not really had a lot of idea what I was going to say until I said it. There have been other times when I’ve known what I was going to say, rehearsed it, honed it and finally poured out deathless prose onto the screen before posting it.
To be honest, either way seems to work.

But it strikes me I’ve answered your question without answering the question. I’ve always had a tendency to shoot my mouth off, normally in print. I have done a fair few opinion pieces as a freelance writer in various publications over the years.

Then when I started writing books as well, people said “But you’ll have to have a blog.” I started writing stuff saying how wonderful my books are, but frankly, it bored me writing it, so I’m pretty sure it was going to bore other people reading it. So I gave up on that and just write about what has attracted my attention in the previous week. Sometimes I manage to link it to a book I’ve written; sometimes it’s about something that has happened to me because I’ve written a book. Mostly it’s about what has happened to me that week that has had enough impact on me for me to want to write about it.

So if you fancy checking out some of my blogs, where do you start?

Depends on your interests; I did one on the equine community entitled “Four Lesbians in a fast car.”  which, as the old luvies say; “Was well received.”

Then there’s an acerbic commentary on a walk through my home town in “The dock was the colour of green milk.”

Or in “Who wants sexy checkout girls anyway?” I even manage to get in a mention to my books.

And finally, something very different; a lady I know who is perhaps a generation younger than me was travelling as a tourist to Vietnam. She asked me to write a blog about ‘Nam’ to help her get a sense of perspective, and I tried to put together something to give her a sense of the lost world that I remembered from the news broadcasts of my youth

And if you read just one? Then probably the last, because men and women grow old and forget, and every so often it does us good to remember for a change.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Tuesday Tease - Set in Stone by Newton

In this week's Tuesday Tease we feature an excerpt from Newton's gothic tale of magic, mystery and shattered romance 'Set in Stone':
Click on image to purchase from Amazon

“This is where the living end and the dead begin.”
Those were the words his father spoke as they stood at the gates of the Odessa Cemetery on the day Michael was officially inducted into the family business.  Although only thirteen, he was tall and strong for his age.  These were common traits among the O’Donahue family.  His father towered over most men and Michael was destined to become his spitting image.  His destiny, in fact, as his father was now explaining, was to follow in the footsteps of all the O’Donahue men as the caretaker of what his father affectionately called ‘The Yard’.

“Every town has a Yard,” his father said.  “And in every town there’s a family what takes care of the Yard.  And that’s us here in Odessa.”

Absentmindedly, Michael kicked a loose rock from the soil.

“Pay attention to what I’m telling you, boy,” his father snapped.  “This is important.  This is the family business.  Your great granddad helped build this cemetery; helped build this whole town.  He came all the way from Ireland to Kansas here, and that’s a long, long way.  So we’re part of Odessa, you see.  Part of this town’s history.  But you got to understand that, even though we’re a part of Odessa, we have to stay a bit removed from the rest of the town folk.”

With the word ‘removed’, Michael’s father motioned towards the cemetery gates.

“You see, boy,” he continued. “You get too friendly with them and pretty soon you’re burying your friends, or your friend’s wives; or their children.  And that’s hard on a man; too hard.  That’s why we keep a distance.  That’s why your mother come up from Newport.  That’s the way it gets arranged.  So she don’t have no kinfolk here.  And when it’s your time, we’ll find you a bride from somewhere other than here. Any of this making any sense to you, boy?”

“Yes sir,” Michael answered.

“Alright, let’s get going then.”

With his father’s shovel and pick slung over his shoulder, Michael followed along through the rows of gravestones and past the mausoleums to the oldest part of the cemetery.  Here many of the markers had cracked and crumbled and those still left leaned precariously with the weight of time.  This was where the founding families of Odessa were interred.  This was where they would bury Old Man Frederick Heidelmann, the patriarch of the most prominent family in town, who had passed away two days ago.

“Start right over here,” Michael’s father ordered.  “Use the pick first.  The ground here is stony; gotta break it up a bit.”

Michael’s hands shook as he clanged the pick into the rocky soil.  After an hour, he had sweat through his shirt, despite the morning chill.  His hands blistered and broke open.  Later they would become calloused and rough, just like his fathers.

“It’s good that Old Man Heidelmann is your first,” his father was saying.  “Frederick was one of Odessa’s most noteworthy citizens.  He paid to have that new school house built, paid for it all by his self.  He loved to go around telling people all about it too; loved to remind people that he was rich.  But even the richest and most noteworthy of Odessa must, sooner or later, pass through our gates and be tendered here in our Yard.  Just remember that, Michael.”

“Yes, sir,” Michael panted as he flung dirt over his shoulder.

“Here, come catch your breath,” his father said, motioning for him to come up and sit next to him.
Thankfully, Michael dropped the pick and sat down on the ground next to his father.

“The Yard is our responsibility, Michael.  Yours and mine just like it was your grandfather’s and his father before him.  We take good care of it and the town appreciates us for it.  The O’Donahue name is a well-respected name in Odessa.  And so it shall remain.  Understand me?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good.  You’ll learn all you need to know about caring for the Yard: How to set the stones, when to cut down a tree, where to replant a new one.  Lots to learn, lots to know.”

“Father,” Michael said looking into the woods that bordered the Yard.  “Are there really ghosts in the Yard?  Jacob Miller says there are ghosts.”

“Well, it is a graveyard, Michael,” his father smiled.  “So, yes, you may see a ghost or two on occasion.  Or you may never see one your whole life.  But if you do, just remember that it’s probably just the ghost of one of the good people of Odessa who all respect us because of the wonderful job we do with the Yard.  Anyway, there’s much more to worry about other than ghosts.”

“Other than ghosts?” Michael asked, “Like what?”

“Like wolves.  And wild dogs and them damn gophers.  In the winter, when the snows get bad, there isn’t enough food to go around for all the beasts of the Earth.  So they’ll come sniffing around the Yard.  And then they’ll get to digging.  Can’t have that.  That’s why I mind the Yard so close in the winter.  One time there was even a bear digging around in here.”

“A bear?  What did you do?”

“Well, I went and got Reverend Murphy and we both brought our rifles down here, but by the time we got back the bear had gone.”

“You weren’t scared of the bear?” Michael’s questioning continued.

“Sure, it scared me.  That’s why I went and got my rifle.  So I can tell you this; that bear scared me more than any silly old ghost ever did.”

“What’s the scariest thing you ever seen in the Yard,” Michael asked.

His father paused.

“I wish you hadn’t asked me that,” he sighed.  “But if I’m to be teaching you everything about the Yard, about caring for the Yard, I figure I ought to tell you.”

Pulling a silver flask from his coat pocket, Michael’s father took a long painful gulp, cleared his throat and then began.

“The most scared I ever been was back in 1879.  It was long before you were born, before I had met your mother even.  That year there was a terrible flood; worst in the history of Odessa.  It rained for three straight days and three straight nights.  We were waist deep in water by that third day.  For a while, we thought the whole town might up and float away.  But, the storm finally broke and the rain stopped and the town folk took to cleaning up the town and your grandfather and I took to cleaning up the Yard.  Hell of mess that flood made.  The whole Yard was nothing but mud; trees down all over the place.  We had a dozen or so caskets washed up out of the ground.  Out here, in the old part of the Yard, was the worst of it.  There were bones all scattered about.  And a stench so bad, I lost my breakfast.  So anyways, your granddad and I were about to head back to fetch Father Murphy so he could re-consecrate the grounds when we saw something sitting right over there next to the Vanderwal crypt.”

Michael’s father paused for another pull from the flask.  His hands were shaking.

“It had two heads,” he continued.  “They looked like... like baby’s heads.  Except they was mean looking; like angry.  Its body was all a mess of arms.  No legs; just eight or nine little arms.  It was... feeding on some of the remains that had been dug up by the flood.”

Michael stared wide-eyed at the Vanderwal crypt as his father related the rest of the story.

“I don’t know what it was.  Just some God awful thing that the rain had washed out of hiding, I guess.  But it was in our Yard and we couldn’t have that,” the flask tipped once more.  “So we beat it with our shovels.  Your granddad and I beat that ugly little thing to death with our shovels and it screamed the whole time.  Screamed bloody murder it did.  Then we burned it along with all the tree limbs that were down and we never told any of the town folk about it.  And neither will you.”

“Why didn’t you tell anyone?”

“Town folk don’t need to know about things like that.  They don’t want to know about things like that, Michael.  They want to know that the Yard is quiet and safe and that it’s a holy place and a peaceful place to bury their loved ones in.  Not a place of ghosts and monsters.  And it’s our job to make it that way and to keep it that way.  It’s the family business.  You understand me, boy?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good.  Always mind the Yard, Michael.  Always mind the Yard.  It’s the family business.  Now let’s finish this up here and get on back to the house.”

Click here to purchase Set in Stone from Amazon

About the Author:

From plumbing the depths of the Deep End to sifting through the scattered fragments of The Other Side, Newton has dedicated himself to crafting stories stitched together from the ruined spaces and forgotten places that most people tend to avoid.