Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Drabble Wednesday: New Year’s Eve

Here’s the strange and slightly out of this world New Year’s Eve edition of Drabble Wednesday…





A Glitch in Time

Tick, tick, tick
The sound in my head, always time tick-tocking.
Tick, tick, tick.
Shut it off! Stop the clockwork, stop the sound!
Tick, tick, tick
Something’s wrong, not right, always the noise, always the clockwork in my head.
Tick, tick, tick
Tick-tock. Goes the clock. Always in my head. Wish I were dead.
Tick, tick, tick
Make it stop! Make it stop! Make it stop!
Tick, tick, tick
What can I do? For silence, for quiet? All I want is quiet.
Tick, tick, tick
But what’s a mechanical man to do, when the clockwork is him?
Tick, tick, tick




Mystical Renewal

I watched as the crows flew past the shining moon, like flowing black ink over parchment. The lunar beauty dominated the sky, even overshadowing the darkening clouds. It was a perfect night to usher in a new year.
I poured the sanctified oil, shaping a circle in the snow, and knelt inside its confines, cold seeping into my bones. I bent my head and intoned the ritual prayer, extending my hands in supplication. For three breaths, I felt nothing, then the blessed radiance of the moon flowed into my flesh and blood. Suspended between earth and heaven before I transformed.






New Year’s Moon

~Base Dispatch News~

Well, Moon Base Alpha decked the halls for Christmas, and transformed the dining hall into a moonlight ballroom for New Year’s Eve. The party boasted a Dance Under the Stars theme with the latest holographic decorations.
Base personnel partied hard, donning festive hats and downing drinks. There were the usual indiscretions and high jinks, and chaotic excitement when Lieutenant Mills’ Flashineger Beastie got out its cage and knocked over the Orion cocktails. However, it was the midnight countdown that set everyone abuzz. No one expected our commander to bare his backside to ring in the New Year.


Saturday, 27 December 2014

32 Seconds by J. K. Pitcairn

Today, the blog is a stop on the virtual book tour for the novel 32 Seconds by talented author, Johanna K. Pitcairn. There's a spotlight, a bit about the author, and a few fun facts about the book and its writer. So read on, and enjoy!


32 Seconds by J. K. Pitcairn



To the average onlooker, the city of Los Angeles represents glitz, glamour, and the celebrity lifestyle. But to seventeen-year-old Julie Jones, the city is a vast host of problems she’s longing to get away from. The latest? An unfortunate disagreement with her ex-boyfriend Mark—one that could land her in some serious hot water.

So rather than face the troubles that torment her, Julie decides to run away from her old life and start fresh somewhere new. But her parents aren't on board with the plan, and she soon finds her bank accounts frozen and her wallet empty.

With just seventy-five dollars and a full tank of gas, the troubled teen is far too stubborn to turn around and head home. So what’s a girl to do?

What Julie doesn't know is that her travels are about to take her somewhere unexpected—a place where she’ll be forced to come face to face with the ghosts of her past in order to secure her future.

A tale of redemption, hope, and freedom lost and found, 32 Seconds is a thought-provoking exploration into the human spirit and the nature of forgiveness.



Available on Amazon


Random Fun Facts:

1) To trigger my inspiration, I binge on Netflix. I pick shows from any genre, and study the dialog and the plot. I also watch video game walkthroughs on YouTube. It's a great help to develop my characters.
2) I can't remember the last time I've had a bad case of writer's block. Plotting helps eliminate that issue. 
3) My biggest pet peeves: misspellings, grammatical errors, and inconsistent formatting. 
4) Julie Jones has named her car "Bubble", and when she swears, she says things like "shizzle", "shizzle nizzle" or "crapola in a peanut butter jar".
5) The original title for the first draft of the story, before it became 32 Seconds, was Death by Chocolate. 
6) Julie Jones loves In&Out burgers, and strawberry milkshakes. 
7) Julie is also a surfer. Her favorite beach is the one in Oceanside, CA. 
8) I'm a cat lover. I have four cats, and they all distract me from writing by taking turns and lying on top of my laptop.

About the Author:


Johanna K. Pitcairn has dreamed of becoming a writer since childhood--authoring her first novel at the age of nine, and countless poems, stories, and screenplays by the age of seventeen. Later, rather than pursuing a career as a director and screenwriter, she decided to go to law school, driven by her father's opinion that "writing does not pay the bills."

Ten years later, she moved to New York City, which inspired her to go back to the excitement, wonder, and constant change of being a writer. Pitcairn is a huge fan of psychological-thriller novels and movies, and delves into her hopes, fears, friends, enemies, and everything in between in her own writing.


Contact the Author:








Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Drabble Wednesday: Christmas Eve

Here’s the Christmas Eve edition of Drabble Wednesday, with three holiday stories full of wacky Christmas cheer…




Santa Got Pulled Over By A Policeman
(In Canada)

A red and white blur sped past the cop in the parked cruiser. The officer plunked his Tim Horton’s coffee in the cup holder, flicked on the lights and sirens, and gave chase to the speeder. Within minutes, he had the offender pulled over.
“You know you were going 70 in a 50 kilometre zone, right?”
“Ho, ho, ho!”
“Plus, I’ll have to write you a citation for operating, uh, a sleigh without a valid license.”
“Ho, ho, ho! Oh no!”
"And I’m going to have to give that—that reindeer with the red nose a breathalyser test.”
“Merry Christmas!”


Christmas Wars

Jingles the reindeer found the crumpled corpse under the Christmas tree, missing a hand. He pawed the body, but it was too late.
“Why? Why? Who would do this awful thing to the Elf on the Shelf?”
“A great disturbance, I sense.”
A tiny wizened green creature appeared from beneath the holiday foliage. In his hands he carried the Elf’s missing appendage and a shiny cylindrical object. He stared at the deceased Elf.
“Teaching him, I was. Listen, he did not.  Defeated not the enemy, failed did he.”
A laugh rang out. “He underestimated the power of the dark side.”



The Magic of Gifting

I nudged the wrapped gift with my toe, half expecting something to pop out. You might think that’s paranoid, but after the gerbil incident I don’t trust strange presents left on my doorstep. Especially when they’re packaged in snowman paper and topped with frilly pink bows. I thought about leaving it, but that might endanger the neighbourhood.
I lifted it gingerly by the gaudy bow, carried it indoors and opened it carefully, the fire extinguisher handy.  I gasped. Inside lay a hideous rubber chicken.
He wouldn't. Not the Fiendish Chicken of Severus Snape.
Drat Harry Potter and his Christmas pranks.




Note:
Unfortunately, no one entered last week’s contest to win a free book, 
so I have no winners to announce.



Saturday, 20 December 2014

Interview With Author Rohini Singh

I have an interview up today, with the interesting writer, Rohini Singh, author of the science fiction novel, The Time Manipulator's Son...


Interview With Rohini Singh



Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I am the first female science fiction writer from the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean.  I have a BSc in computing and I have been employed in the Information Technology field for over eleven years now in the area of software development, web and database development and administration.


You've recently release a science fiction novel, The Time Manipulator's Son. Can you tell us a bit about the book?


The book is for pre-teens to young adults. I have introduced a brand new world in a distant galaxy, where the sky is a different colour each day of the week. Species such as biclopses, flykinds, steamhounds, blockheads, and earthlings (including Trinidadians) all coexist under two and a half moons.

The story line centers around three twelve year old boys who were considered outcasts among their peers. These boys came together under unusual circumstances to solve a mystery. This union helped these boys to accept themselves for who they are and they were able to overcome their differences, hence the book touches on the sensitive and worldwide subjects of bullying and diversity. 

The book was rated as a #1 Hot New Release on Amazon.com.


What is it, as a writer, that appeals to you most about the science fiction genre?

As a child, I was always fascinated by the diverse worlds and realities that go beyond the boundaries of reality, where anything is possible.  I especially admire the works of Gene Roddenberry.


When writing The Time Manipulator's Son, did you find anything about the process surprising or difficult?

Writing the book was not difficult for me. The plot came quite easily after looking at some of the young students at a high school where my sister was a teacher.  The idea popped into my head: what if kids of different species came together for a common cause in an alternate world?


Do have any interesting facts or stories to tell about the book, or an anecdote about writing it?

The book features the culture, language, folklore and food from Trinidad.  These were incorporated into a futuristic world and I also mirrored our multi-cultural society.     


What is your greatest challenge as a writer, and as an author?

Building an audience with social media was my biggest challenge, especially since I was never active in social media before. Also, reaching the younger readers was not available through social media.


Who has inspired you as an author?

Enid Blyton, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Jules Verne, Michael Crichton. Authors from Trinidad include, Michael Anthony, Samuel Selvon and Vidya Naipaul.


What do you enjoy when you’re not busy writing?

Looking at football (English, Spanish and Italian league championships), reading, and taking in a good movie.


What’s next for you?

Hopefully, to continue writing a four part series in “The Time Manipulator’s Son”. I already have the plots for each of the books planned out. 



You can find more about the author and her books at her website: 

Or on Facebook: 

The Time Manipulator’s Son is available on Amazon:



Friday, 19 December 2014

Christmas Lites IV for Charity

Today I have the spotlight on the charity anthology, Christmas Lites IV. I'm one of the authors included in this wonderful book, (with a steampunk tale, The Professor's Christmas Ghost, about ghost hunting in an orphanage), and all the proceeds are being donated to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.



Christmas Lites IV

Help support the NCADV (The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence) by diving into 20 delectably wonderful Christmas tales told by authors from all over the world. Go on a space adventure, meet a demon with a heart not quite made of gold, find true love, discover a serial killer and much more. Every dime of your purchase goes to help support the victims of domestic violence. Enjoy your holiday even more knowing your purchase benefits so many people in this special time of year!



Stories by:

Ron C. Nieto
Phil Cantrill
Mysti Parker
Vered Ehsani
Tricia Kristufek
Jonathan Tidball
JA Clement
K.A. Davur
Frank W. Smith
Mark Mackey
Addison Moore
Amy Eye
Monica La Porta
S. Patrick Pothier
Anne Sanders
MaryMargret Tucker
A.F. Stewart
D.T. Dyllin
Angela Yuriko Smith
Brandon Eye


The book is available on Amazon and Smashwords


And here's a little video I whipped up for my contribution to the anthology:





Thursday, 18 December 2014

Book Spotlight: Broken People

Today, another book comes into the spotlight, as I present the cyberpunk novel Broken People by Ioana Visan. Enjoy.


Broken People by Ioana Visan

You don’t always get what you want, but if you’re lucky, you might get what you need.

For one week only, an impenetrable castle is open to the public, and Dale Armstrong has come to Bratislava to rob it. When he finds his partner’s arms mangled, he desperately searches for a way to fix him before time runs out.

Because the war in the Far East is sapping all the allied nation’s resources, only The Nightingale Circus has the spare parts, the power, and the expertise to fix prosthetics and help the injured, but nothing is free.

Unfortunately, Dale doesn't know about The Nightingale Circus’s side job, but a forced encounter with the most dangerous woman in the city, the Golden Lady, sends him their way. On this roller coaster of crazy twists and flips, schemes and deceit, wishes and dreams, no one can foresee how the aerialist will land.

Anything is possible in a world of Broken People.


Broken People can be found on Amazon: 



Author Bio:

Award-winning writer Ioana Visan has always dreamed about reaching the stars, but since she can't, she writes about it.

After fighting the apocalypse aftermath in "Human Instincts", she played with shapeshifters in "Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks", she dealt with vampires in "The Impaler Legacy" series, and then she designed prosthetics in "Broken People" before tackling longer works like a fantasy trilogy and a science fiction series.

Aside from publishing short stories in various Romanian magazines and anthologies, she published a Romanian short story collection "Efectul de nautil" and the Romanian edition of "Human Instincts".

She received the Encouragement Award from The European Science Fiction Society at Eurocon 2013.

You can find out more abut the author and her books at these sites:


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Drabble Wednesday: Holiday Cheer

I’m bringing that strange festive touch to the blog this Drabble Wednesday, with a variety of odd Holiday themed bits of short fiction. Plus, when you've finished reading, there's an opportunity to win a free book at the end of the post. Enjoy.




First up some flash fiction, two stories about the danger of holiday parties…


Don’t Touch the Eggnog

Spiking the eggnog was a bad idea.  A very bad idea.
I just wanted to liven the family Christmas party, get the aunts, the uncles, the cousins, and the siblings to loosen up a bit.  Who knew a few of dollops of rum would have such an effect!

Aunt Lucy was the first to go, climbing onto the coffee table to do the Can-Can.  Oh, the memory of that will haunt me forever.  Uncle George chimed in with some French song I didn't understand and then transitioned into “Who Let the Dogs Out”.

From there everything spun out of control.  Cousin Fred curled into a human ball and kept calling for someone named Daphne. My brother Dave and my other brother Daryl played keep-away with the porcelain Santa and my sister Jane started a food fight with the rest of my cousins. Aunt Jessica kept muttering “he’s dead” and something about a cove, while Uncles Bob and Bert got into a fistfight.

By the time they all passed out, the drapes were cover in pate and cream cheese, Santa was shattered with pieces embedded in the floor, the coffee table was missing a leg, two uncles had black eyes and someone vomited over the ficus.  I can see Boxing Day will be spent making hangover cures and apologising.

I've learned my lesson.  That’s the last time I take advice from Mom and Dad.



Never Put Your Pate Near The Blender

Everyone loved Bob’s New Year’s Eve parties.  He never invited too many people and his house had a good view of the fireworks in the Town Square.  He always had tons of food and his New Year’s cocktails were famous around town.  He was responsible too; you could stay the night if you didn't have a designated driver or afford cab fare home.  Bob never let anyone drink and drive.

That’s why everybody from Harrisville and the surrounding area mourned him the year he had the fatal accident...

It was the year he decided to serve Margaritas.  He usually saved them for the Fourth of July party, but that year he changed the menu, serving Sangria instead at the Independence Day barbecue.

It happened in the kitchen while he was  mixing drinks in the blender.  No one is certain precisely how it happened, but the end of his tie fell unnoticed in the liquid as he prepared the ingredients. What is known is that Bob’s cat leapt on the cupboard (the police concluded the feline was after the salmon pate) and her paw hit the puree button on the blender. It was over in minutes, the tie catching in the blade, Bob’s face turning purple, his breath choking in his throat.  He collapsed to the floor in a mess of margarita mix and broken blender.

Now, on every New Year’s Eve in Harrisville we all raise a cocktail and give a toast to Bob. And curse the salmon pate.


And now for our feaure drabbles…



A Fairy Tale Christmas Story

Once upon a time, far from the land of BB guns, there was me, Rutherford B. Hasenpheffer, and like all boys (aged 6-12) I had a Christmas wish. I wanted a dragon (yes, you heard me, a dragon), one legendary, fire-breathing, winged lizard.
I badgered my parents night and day for a year, following them around the castle, begging for a dragon. “No,” they said. Repeatedly. Consistently. But I persisted, until somewhere around November they relented. So I found a baby dragon under the Christmas tree.
The only problem, the darn beast burned down the castle and now we’re homeless.



An Out of This World New Year

After I mentioned the polka-dotted aliens, Jean insisted she had to see green snow, so I hovered the spaceship (shaped like a streetcar and named Desire) from the garage, and we flew to their planet. We arrived in time for their Lunar Ice Festival and celebrated the New Year dressed in lavender thermal fusion snowsuits and fuzzy party hats, drinking alien hooch.
Unfortunately, the morning found us five light-years from Earth in a bizarre hotel suite full of passed out aliens, Jean with a new pink comet tattoo and me with a raging hangover.
We’re never drinking Romulan Ale again.



And here’s a bonus half-drabble…


Broken Lights

I just couldn't take my husband’s criticism of my decorating skills anymore.  I wrapped the cord around his neck, strangled him and watched his face turn red as he gasped for air.  At least I finally found a use for that broken set of Christmas lights I never threw away.



Now on to the chance to win a free ebook.

I'm offering to gift one of my ebooks from Smashwords (winner's choice) to any person who lists one of the TV shows subtly referenced in the above stories.  All you have to do is leave a comment with the show's name, and some way to contact you if you win (such as an email, Twitter account, Google+ profile, etc.).   Here's a hint: you can find the answers in Don’t Touch the Eggnog, A Fairy Tale Christmas Story, and An Out of This World New Year. You have until Dec. 23rd to win, and the winners will be posted on Dec. 24th, the Christmas Eve edition of Drabble Wednesday.


You can check out my list of books on my Smashwords profile:
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/scribe77

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Book Spotlight: Winterreise

I have another book spotlight today, plus an excerpt. This time the book is a fantasy, the urban fairy tale, Winterreise, brought to you by Daphne du Bois writing as Emily de Courcy. Enjoy...


Winterreise by Emily de Courcy

Life in the old city of Aldgard is (almost) never boring...

When music student Penny Wells first met the Erlking, she had an inkling that trouble would follow. Especially since she had a thesis to write and concert to prepare for, and she definitely didn’t have time for magic.

So it really stands to reason that Penny should have known better that to stroll into the Hinterlands to return a strange locket he’d left behind – because nothing is ever accidental when it comes to the Erlking.

And when she does so anyway and awakens an ancient sleeper, seriously annoying the Norse Gods (well, most of them), she finds that she has to set things right before they use her new friend for their upcoming ritual sacrifice. Because Penny won’t stand for that.

But first, she has to figure out what it is they’re really worried about and what all of it has to do with a Schubert song cycle that the Aldgard University music department will be putting on in just a matter of weeks...


Excerpt from Chapter 1

The Erlking drank his coffee black, no sugar.
Penny rather thought he’d have done better with herbal tea, given his tendency to be neurotic. It would certainly have helped with the twitching. Anyway, there was likely no coffee under the hills, so it was a wonder he’d developed a taste for it at all, never mind mastering the art of drinking it without wincing.
They were at the local coffee shop: the kind with squashy couches and rickety tables. It had pale wooden panels on the walls, and Wilhelm, the owner, was a troll. Nobody knew this, of course, except for the Erlking, and Penny, who was rather good at eavesdropping.
Wilhelm disguised himself with clever bits of enchanted spider silk to make him appear human, but given the standard mortal tendency to ignore the unusual, this was hardly necessary. Mortals generally kept the uncanny at bay by pointedly ignoring it: that way, the barely seen world often passed entirely unseen.
Wilhelm used to own a tavern in the Hinterlands: The Broken Keg, it had been called. But owning a tavern was a rough business, even for a troll: no-one had appreciated his secret-recipe strawberry shortcake, and taverns were astonishingly flammable no matter how much magical fire-proofing you did.
When some rowdy dwarfs had trashed The Keg in a bar fight of epic proportions, Wilhelm had decided he’d had enough. His gnomish nurse, who had refused to move on once Wilhelm had reached adulthood, had always said he wouldn't be any good at tavern-keeping. “A job for dimwits and scoundrels!” she would proclaim, while taking a fierce swig of his father’s finest fire wine. Gnome women made the best nurses, not because of any silly instinct, but because of their no-nonsense approach to gnome-rearing, and their wonderful baking.
Wilhelm had considered his options, decided that his nurse had made a valid point after all, and moved camp to the mortal side. Stepping between worlds was a surprisingly easy thing to do, Penny realised upon hearing his story.
She knew that there was a doorway to the fairy realms quite nearby, going on what Wilhelm had once let slip. Penny imagined the door to be mystical and glittery: maybe hidden somewhere deep within an ancient oak tree. It went quite well with the overall ‘old stone and ivy’ medieval-town atmosphere of Aldgard University.
Not that she had much time to think about magical portals and the like. She had two essays due that week, one of which was a monstrous thing on the development of fifteenth century French harmonic practices. She definitely didn't have time for any portals just then…


Winterreise can be found here:

(Note: the Amazon link should take you to whichever Amazon you use worldwide )




Author Bio:

Daphne has always had a passion for literature and history and one day it occurred to her: what better way to use her English Literature degree than to write the kinds of stories she loves to read? She hasn't looked back since.
Daphne also writes lyrical fantasy under the pen name Emily de Courcy, and who knows where she'll branch out next!

Daphne has stacks of notebooks full of stories that still need to be written, which she insists on bringing with her when she moves around the world (she’s done this a lot!). She likes her books full of romance, magic, adventure, witty repartee and a dash of silly humour. When Daphne isn't writing, she can be found painting, picnicking, reading and listening to all sorts of exciting music.


Thursday, 11 December 2014

Book Spotlight: Hello Devilfish!

Today on the blog we take a more comedic slant as I shine the spotlight on the monster mashup, Hello Devilfish! by Ron Dakron


Hello Devilfish! by Ron Dakron

A Manglish-splashed, comic, first-person account of a giant blue Japanese movie monster stingray’s attack on contemporary Tokyo and his tragic morph into human form. Epic waterfront battles! Shock pop! Destructive rampages!
And under it all, a stinging critique of contemporary culture and mainstream literature told by a master of satire. Using elements of Japanese shock pop, the story is told in a Manglish-spiced, comic narrative. Hello Devilfish! (HD) finds himself pursued by Squidra, a love-struck kaiju giant squid. She demands love—he refuses. In an epic waterfront battle, she traps HD in a human growth hormone bath that changes him into a puny human—monster to man.
HD refuses to accept his humanity, and acts like his former giant stingray self while trying to find food, shelter, romance—and avoiding the destructive rampage of his stalker squid love interest.

Hello Devilfish! is available at:




Author Bio:

Ron Dakron is the author of the novels infraNewtHammers, and Mantids. His work runs the gamut from surrealism to sci-fi pastiche, with a prose style that he describes as “haplessly Chicagoan and influenced by working class whites, African American slang, and Yiddish comedy.” His novels explore differing styles of poetic prose, from Romaticism, to cubism, B-movie satire to mangled Japanese translation.
Point No Point tagged his novels as “a cross between jive bullshit, hip-hop Henny Youngman, and full-tilt Rimbaudian street-smartass sublimity.” Raven Chronicles judged him “as sinister as a thirteen-year-old with a lighter and a keg of butane.” Publishers Weekly deemed him “a writer with a fine ear and plenty of gusto.” Born in Chicago, Dakron majored in English at Elmhurst College and Lawrence University before moving to Seattle where he worked as a street violinist and house painter, and developed a confrontational poetic performance style “drenched in faux punkery.”
He began writing novels in his late twenties, and considers himself “a proud working-class novelist who dreams up Big Lit.” Dakron currently lives in Seattle, WA.




Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Drabble Wednesday: The Family

Today’s Drabble Wednesday brings another short fiction series, something I call The Family…

And any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. And if these characters resemble your family you have my sympathies.





Cry Havoc

Grandpa always asked the same question before he got into an argument with Grandma. He rolled out the words, “Should my havoc fly?” And that was the signal for the havoc to fly, but it was Grandma’s havoc, while Grandpa generally ended up apologising or sleeping in the doghouse with Goofy, their St. Bernard.
That’s why I made it a point to avoid any “havoc” in my personal relationships, lest I inherited Grandpa’s technique instead of Grandma’s. Until Bob. That man just asked for the havoc, so I gave it to him. With both barrels.
I hope he likes it out in the doghouse.


A Different Thanksgiving Tradition

We can't find Grandpa's teeth.
They went missing during Thanksgiving dinner, after we served the pumpkin pie.  Poor Grandpa, he should have known better than to get between Uncle Jim and Cousin Sam when they started fighting over that last piece of pie.
Before you could spit, the annual Thanksgiving free-for-all began and Grandpa was on the bottom of the pile.  When everyone came up for air, the teeth were missing.  We searched, but couldn't find a trace of his wooden choppers. 
I just hope the dog hasn't run off and buried them again.


Aunt Agatha’s Gift

“Nooooooooooo!”
I fling the offending package, silently cursing the postal system that brought me this abomination. My eyes still smart from the gaudy assault of crimson, gold and burnt orange hues that jumped out when I opened the box from its prison of paper.
Why must Aunt Agatha torment me so? Doesn't she understand I want no part of her crazy pastime?
But there it is, another hideous result sprawled over my floor, waiting to be stuffed in the closet with the others. I sigh and pick up the hand-knitted wool sweater.
Oh, no, there’s grinning kittens on the front.


Start the Game

A man in a stained trench coat delivered the strange message.
“You must find the Pork Pie.”
Then he handed me the clue and left me standing there, unhappy. I hoped I would never be pulled into Grandma’s crazy game, yet, here I was holding the bag, so to speak.
I open the clue.  It read: Find the Pork Pie where guests go to rest. To discover the name find Serenity’s creator. Seek the cold storage.
I sighed. “Grandma you got to get a better hobby.”
I pulled out my cell phone and called Jeremy; I would need some help.


Jeremy Wears a Hat

He arrived my doorstep wearing a pork pie hat. Sometimes my new boyfriend is an idiot.
“Jeremy, I’m not looking for a hat, take that silly thing off.”
“What? I’m just getting into the theme.” But he took off the hat.
“I figured out most of this silly clue.” I showed him the paper. “Guests go to rest at a hotel and I think the name thing is part of Granny’s sci-fi obsession. Cold storage we’ll figure out later.”  I pulled him back out the door. “It’s a ten minute drive, come on.”
“Where are we going?”
“The Whedon Hotel.”


The Whedon Hotel

“Let's throw her in the pond and see if she sinks.”
Before I could protest, two drunken fools tossed me into the ornamental pond. Well, I didn’t sink (mostly because I can swim), but I got wet, and those nuts each got a black eye. I sloshed back to the hotel and bummed a towel off a maid. While I was drying my hair Jeremy rushed over, excited.
“I found it, I found it! Hey, what happened to you?”
“Never mind. You found what?”
“The Holy Grail, of course!”
“What the Pork Pie? It’s here?”
“Yep. Seen it with my own eyes.”
“What are we waiting for, show me.”


The Picnic

There were enough pickles for everyone.
And potato salad, coleslaw, macaroni salad, grilled hot dogs, lemonade and strawberry shortcake waiting on the side table, and enough bread rolls to choke a horse. What a spread! Maybe the trouble my crazy Grandma put me through for this family picnic would be worth it. The last thing we put on the table was the main attraction, the two oversized pork pies Grandma stashed in the freezer at the Whedon Hotel.
“Let them in Jeremy, it’s ready.”
He threw open the doors and the annual family reunion started with a whoop from Grandma.


Beware of Old Sayings

Grandpa’s a wise man, ripe with the benefits of experience. Many times he’s said:  ‘Beware the armadillos of March’, ‘Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day’, ‘Teach him how to fish and he'll drown in the lake’, ‘Better to light a candle than to curse the priest’, and ‘Never send a Chihuahua to do a man's job’.
That may seem strange, but considering how Cousin Bud got trampled, that Uncle Winston died his first time fishing and that church incident, it makes sense to the family. Plus, the less said about Aunt Agatha’s Chihuahua the better.


Mom Knows Best

Mother always warned me.
So did Uncle Dan, Aunt Agatha and Grandpa.  But I kept wondering, every year.
I mused about it through the April rain, drinking Aunt Agatha’s special Sangria at the family barbeque, swimming at the lake.
I tried to put it out of my mind, but it lurked there, creeping back with the first touch of frost, with the initial snowflake falling down to touch my nose. Then, this December, there was “the cinnamon incident”.  It called to me and I had to lick it.
And Mother was right, your tongue will stick to icicles in winter.




Sunday, 7 December 2014

Book Spotlight: The Silent Years: Mother

I bring apocalyptic events today with a book spotlight on the science fiction novel The Silent Years: Mother by Jennifer R. Povey, the first in a series. So check it out, read the included excerpt, and enjoy.



The Silent Years: Mother by Jennifer R. Povey

Dorothy Mayling thought her worst problem was the long-standing family feud over her sister's choice of husband. Or her son's grades. Then the rumors started - bird flu in Seattle, SARS in Washington State? The truth is a hideous, terrible disease, one that slowly steals away the ability to speak and reason, turning people into nothing more than zombies. Worst of all, it was meant to be a weapon. Can Dorothy hold her family together as the world ends around them and people fall, one by one, to the silent plague?





The Silent Years: Mother is available at:




Excerpt:

Winter was settling in. They had enough hay stockpiled for the livestock. But for next year? They would have to grow their own. Jason and the other men were bent over a sketched map of the land, working out what to do about the hay.
Dorothy decided to leave them to it. She would only be a cook too many. Three days ago, the grid had finally failed, contributing to her empty feeling. There had been more and more brownouts and then the power was gone. She took it as a sign: things would not go back to normal.

Their preparations had kept them alive so far. And their luck was holding out. They seemed to be immune, or just out of the pattern of infection.

She stepped out onto the porch. The air was still and  quiet. It was just like one of those apocalypse movies where the survivors were shown at the end staring into space. Except, this was not the end. Or maybe it was; the last page of the story had happened, and all that remained were a few surviving characters. The author was no longer writing, the characters left in that moment, not moving forward...

Thud.

The sound interrupted her thoughts, tore at them.  What was that? There was a gun just inside the door. She grabbed it. There was another thud.
Finally, she realized what it was. What they were. Three Silents, and they were knocking down the well-kept garden fence, tugging at the rails. The thuds had been part of the top rail hitting the ground.

Now they realized they could step over the lower rail. She found herself unable to shoot. They came closer.

She pulled the trigger. The shot would be a signal, a warning. She felt the stock slam into her shoulder, just as if she was shooting a deer, not a human being. Or something that had once been a human being. But there was no choice. The house door opened, Jason emerging with a second weapon. "Tore many." He was tripping over words again.

She fired a second time. This time the shot hit, striking the Silent in the midsection. She saw the woman double up, going down with a wordless scream of pain. Too human. They were still human.

Jason shot once, twice, taking the other two down, but there was an odd look on Jason’s face. "Red."

"No..." she whispered. She turned towards him, leveling her gun at his chest. But she could not do it, the barrel lowered.

He looked at her. "Bleach tower red."

"Jason..." Had he realized? Perhaps, for he dropped the gun and abruptly ran past the bodies of the dead victims and into the night.

Dorothy could do nothing but let him go. It was over. They were all infected for sure, perhaps had been for a while. Most likely the incubation period was longer than they had thought.

"What happened?" A male voice from behind her, but in that moment she could not focus on who it was.

"Jason's gone." She should have killed him. She knew she should have, but she had not been able to.

"What do you mean, gone?"

Now she remembered the owner of the voice. Leroy. There was nobody else it could have been, but...

"Infected. He ran off." She leaned the gun against the wall, glanced at the bodies. It did not matter. They were either immune or doomed. Taking the bodies away was still necessary, but it did not carry with it the fear of contamination. Touching them could not make things worse. Nothing could make things better.

"Hell. What if he comes back?"

"I can't do it," she whispered.

"Then I will."

It was an odd relief to feel that responsibility taken away from her. "Assuming it isn't you next."

"More likely to be Janine," he said softly.

 She did not want to think about that, but it was more likely her, closer to Jason physically. And Janine, so fragile... "I think at this point we have to assume we're all well and truly exposed. Immunity is our only chance."

"We have that chance. No point giving up just yet."

"Or a cure, if they come up with one." Maybe that was it. Maybe she could not give up on Jason.

"Distribution would be a problem, but..."

"Write another virus. Spread it the same way." Dorothy sighed. "Or maybe that's too dangerous. I don't know."

"We'll rebuild no matter what, but...dammit. I thought this would burn itself out and everything would be fixed by Christmas." Leroy glanced at the dead. "I guess I was naive."

"No. There's nothing wrong with having your glass half full."

"Depends on whether it's wine or vinegar."

"Hope is a good thing, Leroy. It's the only thing we have."

"Not the only thing. We have courage."

She had lacked the courage to pull the trigger. Was that strength, or weakness? She did not know.



Author Bio:

Jennifer R. Povey is in her early forties, and lives in Northern Virginia with her husband. She writes a variety of speculative fiction, whilst following current affairs and occasionally indulging in horse riding and role playing games. She has sold fiction to a number of markets including Analog, and written RPG supplements, some of which are available from Occult Moon Publishing. Her first novel, Transpecial, was published by Musa Publishing in April, 2013. Her most recent release is the apocalyptic science fiction novella "Mother," first of The Silent Years series.

For more on the author check out these sites:

Website: http://www.jenniferrpovey.com/
Smashwords Profile: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jenniferrpovey
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/jenniferrpovey




Friday, 5 December 2014

Book Spotlight: The Ring of Void

Today I serve up a book spotlight of dark fantasy with echoes of Japanese manga, and bring you the interesting book, The Ring of Void, and its author, Miodrag Kovachevic. Enjoy.


The Ring of Void by Miodrag Kovachevic

After his first death, Shinnosuke Yamagami became a psychopomp, a creature meant to help the deceased pass on to the Nether, the land of the dead. However, Shinnosuke's branch of work was much less poetic; his job was to hunt down runaway spirits that escaped to the mortal realm.
Now, Shinnosuke faces his second death--the death of the soul. In his final moments of existence, he recalls the stories that will remain after him; his journey with the demonic corgi Yago and his battles with spirits that spread terror amongst humans. And among those stories was Mirth, a fox creature in human form who frequently yanked the psychopomp out of his routine work and flung him into chaos. The Ring of Void is a dark fantasy novella that deals with tales left after one's demise.



The Ring of Void is available at Amazon




Author Bio

Miodrag Kovachevic is a video and board game designer born and raised in Serbia. He's had an affinity for languages his entire life and is fluent in English (with a C2 level certificate), German, Serbian and knows some basic Japanese. The Ring of Void is his first published work of fiction and reflects Miodrag's own taste in writing by being to the point and character-oriented, while having a layer of interactivity by letting the readers read between the lines.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Interview With Author Prashant Pinge

Today I bring another interview and a giveaway.  Author Prashant Pinge stops by to chat about his writing and his book, Sceadu, (recently spotlighted here on the blog), plus he has a great Rafflecopter giveaway for everyone. So enjoy...


Interview With Prashant Pinge



Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I was born and brought up in Mumbai. I have a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and three postgraduate degrees in management. I started my career at Rockwell Collins in the US but later shifted back to Mumbai to join our family business. I am also a marketing and branding professional and have my own firm, Media Panther.


You’ve recently release a new YA novel, Sceadu. Can you tell us about the book?

A century old book transports four children to Sceadu, a land inside their shadows. The reluctant visitors search for a way back but find themselves chased by the Hefigans, creatures of Sceadu. The stakes are suddenly raised when an ancient prophecy foretells the doom of the world they left behind. Now, the children must navigate the dangerous terrain, overcome grave challenges and unlock the secrets of the shadow, or suffer the destruction of their own kind.

Sceadu is a fast-paced adventure which blurs the boundary between the physical and the psychological, the real and the mythical.


Did anything about the story surprise you when writing Sceadu?

When I set out to write a fantasy, it was meant to be just that. But what pleasantly surprised me was the way I managed to intricately weave together elements of psychology and mythology to create a logical basis for a land inside the human shadow.


As a writer, what is it about the fantasy genre that appeals to you?

I have always been a huge fan of the fantasy genre. It takes me to places that don’t find a place in the breadth of our world but reside in the depths of my imagination. And the best part: I don’t require a passport.


You write in multiple genres (children’s books, young adult, fantasy, historical fiction and romantic comedy). Do you have a favourite, or do you find each has its own merits?

While I started my literary journey with children’s fiction, I enjoy all the genres I work in. I feel the best part about writing in multiple genres is that it challenges my creativity in different ways and helps me grow as a writer.


What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

My greatest challenge as a writer is that my hand cannot even come close to matching the speed at which my mind is throwing out ideas. And this can be especially frustrating when the ideas are not related to the book I am working on at that point in time.


Who has inspired you as an author?

I have been inspired by other authors such as Phil Pullman, Agatha Christie, and Somerset Maugham.


What do you enjoy when you're not writing? Any hobbies or other talents?

Apart from writing, I enjoy collecting old coins, reading fiction, travelling to exotic destinations, watching movies, and listening to music. I am keenly interested in psychology, mythology, and ancient history. I have also recently written and produced a short film titled Freedom of Expression.


What’s next for you?

I am currently working on a romantic comedy. I am also doing research for a work of historical fiction.



More on the author and his books

Author bio:

Prashant Pinge is a published author of short stories and books in the genres of children’s fiction and young adult fantasy fiction. He also writes historical fiction and romantic comedies. His book, Raja & the Giant Donut, was shortlisted for the Economist Crossword Book Awards in the Children’s Writing category in 2011.

Prashant lives in Mumbai, India, with his wife, Avantika, and son, Arjun.

Author web links:

Book website – http://sceadu.net
Author website - http://prashantpinge.com
Sceadu Facebook page - http://facebook.com/SceaduTheBook



The Giveaway

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Drabble Wednesday: Shakespeare and Friends

Today’s Drabble Wednesday takes a more literary turn with some rifts on Shakespeare, Tennyson, plus to liven things up, a little Abbot and Costello. Enjoy.

(Note: most of these were written for a now defunct writing group, Genre Shorties, so there will be some odd references to things such as armadillos, badgers and the Moai, themes that often popped up in the group prompts.)




Now Is The Winter Of Our Discontent

’Twas quite the conundrum put before William Shakespeare.  To be the playwright, or not to be, to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or join Yorick in his millinery business.
“Alas, poor Yorick”, William exclaimed, “Tempt not a desperate man, and dangle your lure of enticement. Yet, ‘tis our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt. There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so and this above all: to thine own self be true.”
And with that he plucked up his quill to write.


A Shortie Soliloquy

“Brevity is the soul of wit”, said Shakespeare, and if that be so then laughter resounds amongst us, we fine bards who pen the Shorties.  Satire, humour and whimsy resound in shades of puce and ecru, while we feast on pickles, peas and bacon.
We are the ones who “perchance to dream”, to conjure visions that swirl through time.  We lead a parade of koalas, Moai, celebrities, and badgers as we drive the roads of imagination in 1967 Impalas and gull-winged Deloreans.
So, in their honour I take leave in paraphrase:  “Is this an armadillo which I see before me?”


A Shakespearean Pirate’s Life

To be the scourge of the seven seas, or not to be the scourge of the seven seas, aye that be the question, methinks. I task myself to take up arms, to strut and fret aboard deck, and cast aside sound and fury of convention. What mind me, those tittle-tattle slings and arrows of a jackanapes society?
Best to give not a wit, nor a thought, to those who say me nay, but rather tell truth, and shame the devil. `Tis better to have crossed swords with a scurvy dog Englishman, than never to have sailed under the Jolly Roger.


Odd Bodkins Lottery

‘Twas my last ha’penny I used to purchase the lottery chit.  Perhaps providence guided me, allowing me to indulge in the act of gambling, or pity for the sick that the proceeds benefitted.  Whatever the reason, chance allowed me to win the veritable bounty.  I was truly blessed with the princely sum of 1,000,000 dollars, all for a day at the Renaissance Fair.
Of course, be there that legality of only purchasing items that begin with the letter “L”, but I do need a new lamb’s wool tunic, some lederhosen, and a longbow.  Prithee, I could even buy a livery.


Charge of the One Hundred
(with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

Forward into the drabble, write the one hundred.  Press onward, onward, to half the word count, write the one hundred.  Forward, always forward, into the valley of the impossible prompt.  Yours is not to reason why, just to make certain all the words are included and figure how the deuce to work in the ridiculous puce.
Forward we go, write the one hundred.  Charge for the end and make it a mental twist.  Badgers to the right of you, armadillos to the left, and look out, the slinky Moai are in front. 
For the glory you write the one hundred.


Who’s Going to the Fair?

“It’s at the corner of Who Knows and Thingydeal Road.”
I look over at Abbot and Costello.  “Are you sure?”
“Absolutely.”
“And Who will be there?”
“Yes.”
“Good.  This is going to be great fun.  Is anyone else coming?”
“I Don’t Know and I Don’t Care.”
“Oh great. The more the merrier.  Do you think someone will be taking pictures?”
“What.”
“Wonderful, I’m glad he’ll be there.”
“Certainly.  There’s supposed to be a juggling act, too.”
“Do you think it will be Today?”
“That’s the rumour.”
“The three chickens will be performing?”
“Yes.  Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.”
“Those chickens have weird names.  I mean, Why, Tomorrow and Because are silly names.”
“If I’d named the chickens, they’d be Sandwich, Cacciatore and Shifty.”



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