Tuesday 24 January 2017

Whatever it Takes - Keep flying T-Shirt

Whatever it takes... Keep Flying! with this inspirational t-shirt from the Magic Owl Collection.

Original artwork by Katie Stewart.

Available in sizes Small to XXXL.


Monday 16 January 2017

Book Review - The Evolutionary Void by Peter F Hamilton

I'll confess that I approached this final book in the Void trilogy with a little trepidation. The cause was my previous experience with the Night's Dawn trilogy - which was a fantastic read, but the ending fell a little flat for me. There was no need, this was a fantastic conclusion to the story. For me this has everything I look for in great sci-fi. There's some fascinating concepts here, mixed with good plot and characters. And for those who enjoy exotic weaponry, some well drawn fights.

The weakness of the story remains Edeard, and the dream within the void. Although these now fit into the wider plot more smoothly than for the previous books. It was also interesting to see how much of the conclusion was telegraphed from Inigo's dreams. It was also from these I caught a glimpse of where the story was heading.

Other aspects came as a surprise, and ratcheted up the tension of unfolding events. The pace of which far exceeded the previous books and really got things moving. In the previous books the number of different threads for the characters seemed excessive, but everything came together, without tripping over each other.

Carrying it all is the authors quality of writing. It's an accessible style which works when describing complex ideas, or mundane interactions between characters, and even arcane ship combat. He also creates a vivid world, with a complex set of ideas. I love a good story with aspects that are worth thinking about separately from the story, and in this, the book more than delivers.

Exposed as the Second Dreamer, Araminta has become the target of a galaxywide search by government agent Paula Myo and the psychopath known as the Cat, along with others equally determined to prevent-- or facilitate --the pilgrimage of the Living Dream cult into the heart of the Void. An indestructible microuniverse, the Void may contain paradise, as the cultists believe, but it is also a deadly threat. For the miraculous reality that exists inside its boundaries demands energy--energy drawn from everything outside those boundaries: from planets, stars, galaxies... from everything that lives.

Meanwhile, the parallel story of Edeard, the Waterwalker -- as told through a series of addictive dreams communicated to the gaiasphere via Inigo, the First Dreamer -- continues to unfold. But now the inspirational tale of this idealistic young man takes a darker and more troubling turn as he finds himself faced with powerful new enemies -- and temptations more powerful still.

With time running out, a repentant Inigo must decide whether to release Edeard's final dream: a dream whose message is scarcely less dangerous than the pilgrimage promises to be. And Araminta must choose whether to run from her unwanted responsibilities or face them down, with no guarantee of success or survival. But all these choices may be for naught if the monomaniacal Ilanthe, leader of the breakaway Accelerator Faction, is able to enter the Void. For it is not paradise she seeks there, but dominion.

Click here to buy The Evolutionary Void from Amazon

Currently Reading - In The Devil's Dreams by Troy A. Scott

While visiting his mother at her secluded Waldport cabin, an English teacher is awoken in the night by screams. Something gigantic is heaving itself against the rickety front door, relentlessly pounding and scratching - and shrieking his name. The hideous creature seems to know everything about the man, and takes special interest in his wife’s deteriorating health.

On the other side of the world, a bleary-eyed detective works late, desperate to avoid the recurring dream of his fiancĂ©e’s murder. But when a bloodied child stumbles into the Pine Rest Police Department and collapses, the detective finds himself facing off against his worst nightmare.

In the Devil’s Dreams is the story of three broken people and the boy who links them. The lives and nightmares of the characters are elegantly interwoven, and the story is revealed through multiple points of view.

Click here to buy In The Devil's Dreams from Amazon

Sunday 15 January 2017

Winged Serpent T-Shirt from the Magic Owl Collection

A winged serpent stretches its wings on this t-shirt from the Magic Owl Collection.

Original artwork by Katie Stewart.

Available in sizes Small to XXXL.


Saturday 14 January 2017

Dark Eyes Print from Old Ones Productions

A high quality A3 print of the 'Dark Eyes' painting by Luciana Nedelea is available from the Old Ones Productions store on Etsy:


Friday 13 January 2017

Dragon Flight T-Shirt From The Magic Owl Collection

A bronze dragon soars majestically on this t-shirt from the Magic Owl Collection.

Original artwork by Katie Stewart.

Available in black or white, and in sizes Small to XXXL.


Currently Reading - Synners by Pat Cadigan

In Synners, the line between technology and humanity is hopelessly slim. A constant stream of new technology spawns crime before it hits the streets; the human mind and the external landscape have fused to the point where any encounter with "reality" is incidental.

Click here to buy Synners from Amazon

Sunday 8 January 2017

Saturday 7 January 2017

Cthulhu Chess Set Pieces Available From Shapeways

I'm pleased to announce that the pieces from the Cthulhu chess set are now available individually from Shapeways here:


Please note these are the raw 3D printed pieces - if you'd like a painted set then you can order one from my Etsy store here:


Thursday 5 January 2017

Edgar Allan Hippo T-Shirt from the Magic Owl Collection

Edgar Allan Hippo is one of the Famous Animals series from the Magic Owl Collection.

Original artwork by Katie Stewart.

Available in sizes Small to XXXL.


Discover the Famous Animals series in Katie Stewart's book: http://amzn.to/2jeHTbF

Guest Post - How to Write a Great Villain by NLJ

To celebrate the release of The Golden Sword, NLJ, has written a guest post about how to write a great villain:

How to Write a Great Villain

When I first became a writer, the hardest thing for me to do was to create conflict for my main character. I identified too much with her, and I was a perfectionist. I couldn’t bring her to make any mistakes or have any regrets. And the inhibition stifled my stories.

While I was in film school, I attended a film critique class taught by Leonard Maltin.  Paul Haggis visited as one of his guests, giving a private screening of his movie, Crash. Afterwards, he was available for Q and A.

I told him about my dilemma with writing and he gave me some very sobering advice. He told me that, in regards to the main character, I had to reach into myself and find 3 decisions that I would never want my character to make, and 3 fearful experiences that I never want my character to endure. Then, I had to put those very things into the story. It terrified me, but I tried it out. And I immediately saw the fruit.

Years later, I saw the Dark Knight, and was blown away by Heath Ledger’s version of the Joker. I started soaking up information on how to make a villain who was memorable and chilling. I soon realized that the information bore a lot of similarity to Haggis’ advice.  It was a great help to me while writing my first novel, since my story was a fantasy with dark elements.  In truth, all fiction genres need a great villain.

If you are aiming to write a well-crafted villain, here are three essential steps that I’ve learned:

Look in the mirror

There is a great book called Owning Your Own Shadow by Robert A. Johnson. In it, the author says that everyone has a dark side to their psyche and the only way to control it is to first embrace it as part of who you are. We all have primal, dark, disturbing aspects of ourselves that we hide from the world. And normally, we should hide them. But having a dark side does not make us monsters. It is part of the human experience.

Writing a villain is one of the few opportunities for that dark side to come out. Surprisingly, it’s not hard to find. It emerges when you are alone long enough or when someone has crossed the line with you. Each person has some familiarity with their dark side because they take the time to hide it from the rest of society.  Explore it while you are writing, but …when the writing is over, be sure to put it back where it belongs.

I meet so many horror writers that are the sweetest, most cheerful people ever, and it confused the crap out of me. Finally, I started asking them what the deal was. I got the same answer every time:
“It gets all the bad stuff out of me.”

No wonder they stay so happy!

Coddle your Wicked Darlings

As mentioned in step 1, having a dark side does not make us evil. Acting on it does. But if we are not acting on it, we should not judge ourselves for having dark thoughts, even dark desires. It is part of the human condition. Along the same lines, you cannot judge the villain you have created. When you judge your villain, you turn him into a 2 dimensional character. He becomes a cartoon with a handle bar mustache that ties innocent women to railroad tracks.  The rest of the world will judge and condemn your villain and they are supposed to. But for you, it will be different. You see, your villain doesn’t think he is a bad guy. He has a perfectly logical explanation as to why he is doing what he is doing. Your job is to know what that reason is, and to understand where he is coming from. You are not necessarily supposed to agree with him, but you are to empathize with him. This will make him deliciously awful.

Let me give you an example: In the Quick and the Dead, Herod (played by Gene Hackman) is supposed to be one of the greatest gunslingers in town. He competes in an elimination tournament with other gunslingers and the loser in each round typically dies. The next opponent on his list is the illegitimate son he abandoned years ago, and Herod feels conflicted. At first, he tries to get the kid to withdraw. That doesn’t work. Then he tries to humiliate him into withdrawing. That doesn’t work. Finally, they have their showdown. Herod kills the kid.

We already didn’t like him before. But we HATE him now. Why? Because in his mind, he thought he did everything he could to save his son’s life. He thinks he gave his son every opportunity to live. It’s not true, of course. He could have backed out of the match himself, hence taking personal responsibility of his own choices.  But in his mind, his own pride was not a factor and not a conflict. The writer took the time to really understand Herod’s values and the way that his mind works.

Open your Nightmares

Since you are already dipping into your dark psyche, and you are already accepting it as part of yourself, this part is pretty simple. Do you know all of those wicked things that you have always wanted to do but would never ever do because you’re too nice of a person (or because you hate conflict?)  Have your villain do those things.

I don’t recommend just finding the goriest thing you saw in the last slasher film and trying to top that. It’s pretty cheap.  Here’s the thing with realistic villains: A lot of the time, they have a very legitimate emotional need that is relatable to anyone. But they go about attaining that need in a very dysfunctional and unhealthy way.

If you were lonely, and you were desperate for love to the point where you didn’t care about societal propriety, how would you “obtain” love? Would you brainwash someone? Kidnap someone? Keep them as a pet? Would you assumed another identity to appear more loveable? In the context of writing, enjoy your dark playground.

NLJ is an author, screenwriter, inspirational speaker, and former children’s educator. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Film Production from the University of Southern California, and furthered her education to include children’s literature, personal development, and psychology. Her debut book, The Golden Sword, is book one of her four part series, entitled the Chronicles of Drenyon. Her hobbies include daydreaming, exploring, and eating chocolate.

In the land of Drenyon...

There is a maiden who is so desperately lonely that she befriends a frightful-looking tree that lives outside her village. Her name is Anya. Her tree is enchanted, and every day she listens to its strange and troubling fables, unaware that they are prophecies in disguise. One day, she returns home from visiting the tree and the first of the fables comes to life, causing her entire village to burn to the ground. Now it's up to Anya to use the other fables to save the rest of her kingdom from the same destruction. And according to these fables, there is only one weapon that has the power to save her people: The Golden Sword.

Click here to buy The Golden Sword from Amazon

Wednesday 4 January 2017

Dragon Hoard T-Shirt From The Magic Owl Collection

A dragon sits proudly upon its golden hoard in this t-shirt from  the Magic Owl Collection.

Original artwork by Katie Stewart.

Available in sizes Small to XXXL.


The Magic Owl Collection has now moved to Etsy - see the collection here:


Monday 2 January 2017

Old Ones Productions Now Only On Etsy

Unfortunately 2017 isn't off to a great start for Old Ones Productions as I've had to close the online store. But this venture is far from over! From now on business will be conducted through the Etsy store here:


Not all products will be moved over, so if there was something you're interested in from the old store that's not available in the new one, then just message me and I'll see what you can do.

And to sign off let me wish all customers, past, present, and future, a Happy New Year!