Friday, 22 June 2018

Plains of Ion is out! PREVIEW

Plains of Ion's release date is today - head over to grab it for the cheap 0.99 price while it's still on offer, or add it to your Kindle Unlimited list!

It's a race scarred by scorched desert and broken machinery, but if he wants answers, it is one he must win.

Beyond the sand mountain stretches the arid patchwork tundra of the ion plains, where the only township is run by ruthless matriarchs who host the bi-annual Liberty Trials. With one full circuit around the outer rim, and Kingdom City looming invitingly and forever on the inner horizon like a nightly neon bonfire, losing could mean death, but winning could be the answer to his only concern: chasing down Annora.

Plains of Ion is book two in the Neon Sands trilogy; exploring a desert matriarchal township with secrets to unearth: one reliant on the overbearing domed city to survive. Start those engines!


Friday, 15 June 2018

Plains of Ion: Neon Sands Trilogy - Good to go!

I set the preorder date for this book before completing it - a common tactic used by indie authors, particularly those with series, looking to create and continue the momentum that rapid releases can create.

I'm not sure this works for me though. The second half of Plains of Ion could have been a sprawling epic, and indeed was originally intended to be, but I stay true to my characters when writing and if I had kept my original ending, it would have ended up contrived.

Luckily this meant I didn't have to rush.





Flames of Apathy will not go on immediate pre-order, to give the freedom to explore the story and characters without the pressure of a deadline. I've created some good writing habits these past few months so while I may have needed the motivation of a deadline previously, this is not the case anymore.

I can't wait to get stuck in!






Reading

I'm giving myself a couple weeks off first. I have books to catch up on, including Kor and the Wingless Stranger by Sanna Hines and Rusticles by Rebecca Grandsen - two intriguing titles that I'm really looking forward to.

I did manage to squeeze in a little bit of reading - of course! - and finished Locked In by MJ Lau, a genre I had not ready before (YA - Gaming & Virtual Reality / Fantasy) and  you can see my 4-star review here. I also ready 1-3 of the Mortal Engines Series, with the fourth one sitting on my desk staring at me. These are incredibly well realised stories with great worlds - unfairly I probably compare them too much to the Dark Materials trilogy, and so only gave them each a 4-star rating. The fourth book looks meatier than the others, so we'll see what rating that gets. Weirdly, I'd probably give the overall series 5-stars.

Don't get me started on the Mortal Engines trailer. First, they wimped out on Het and her scar, and second, it looks like The Golden Compass all over again. It's also your usual Hollywood show-it-all trailer, sapping any sense of suspense or mystery that could have existed. The first teaser was fine - it made people question what was going on. (So see the film for answers). The latest trailer gives you those answers. (So no need to see the film.) Infuriating. 

Contest

Lastly, there's a little contest going on at the moment which may be of interest to you! Lots of Walking Dead goodies up for grabs!


Author Sylvester Barzy (who has an array of undead and zombie novels to his name) is celebrating his birthday by giving the above away (to US entries only). 

Go to the link below for your chance to win this awesome Walking Dead Gift Box with:

Walking Dead Dog Tag
Funko Walking Dead Pop Ezekiel
Foam Michonne Katana
10" McFarlane Toys Glenn Figure
Signed Copy Of Planet Dead

Share the love and tell all your Walker Friends!

Best of luck!

Friday, 27 April 2018

There is no free will


Free will is an illusion. The illusion itself is the foundation of our society, and the foundation which allows us to carry on as individuals. Society is founded upon the presupposition that we have free will, and even goes out of its way to defend that; acknowledging, for example, situations in which our actions are not under our control, be it influenced chemically through some form of intoxication, or a more general mental disorder, giving rise to leniency when laws are broken under these situations. Maybe a punishment is less severe. Maybe insanity is pleaded, leading to incarceration in a mental institution.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Latest news #amreading #amwriting #amrefreshing

The days are getting longer. As I write, the light glimmers around the edge of the office curtains, encroaching on my intimate, me-and-the-pc-monitor, private time. I like the darkness. It's a warm blanket, but more importantly, a blank sheet; a void to fill with my ideas. I can truly withdraw into my writing.

But soon, the garden, and my laptop, will be calling me. Perhaps I'll sit at the garden table with it, and write there, in the open. There can be no letting up. Neon Sands is out and doing quite well. Nice reviews. And Plains of Ion is on preorder. And it needs finishing. Luckily, the story is a great one, with characters I'm enjoying bring to life. The plains are wide and expansive. Maybe I should sit outside to write them, rather than here in my box.

When not writing, I have been attending an Arcade Fire gig (exceptional), and reading Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve (so far, so intriguing, even if I do seem to have unknowingly taken one of his plot twists to use in Neon Sands. Great minds and all that, hopefully).

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Neon Sands on Preorder

It's finally happening! Neon Sands is on preorder until next Friday. Been a while coming, but book 2 and 3 won't be too far behind. Hanging around on Kindle Scout seemed like forever!

Kindle: http://amzn.to/2FX3tNT
Paperback: http://amzn.to/2ubcGwq

Also in Kindle Unlimited when out!


Friday, 2 March 2018

Book Review: My Hungry Friend by Daniel Barnett

My Hungry FriendMy Hungry Friend by Daniel Barnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My Hungry Friend is a tightly written story that deals with the horrors of Alzheimer's, both literal and metaphorical. Mike Roberts commits an atrocious act in the opening pages which doesn't exactly endear him to the reader (who kicks a homeless person's cup of change?!) but we soon learn the mindset behind what he was feeling that day, and why he felt the need to 'kick out'. Having previously read Daniel's Longreave, one of his strengths is creating multifaceted characters, and as the story evolves, so do the layers within Mike.

Trying to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, Mike struggles to look after his mother who suffers from Alzheimers. The concept of cracks opening in her mind, through which she becomes more and more lost, translate to Mike through his fears of hereditary Alzheimer's, but then those fears also become real as the homeless woman enacts her revenge on him. This reflection is well done, and even leads to some slight ambiguity towards the end with regards to Mike's lover.

If this was a straight literary book, there could have been more exploration of this; his mother wasn't used as I thought she might have been used, in fact it was all kept very real. But as a horror, it was sufficient: bring on the spiders!

Arachnophobes, beware! Spiders, spiders everywhere. Daniel's writing style ramps up the tension as the darkness begins to unveil itself, and as things not of this Earth begin to creep across Mike's skin. There are also a few moments of cringe-horror taken from reality, the kind of thing that must happen every day but we don't like to think about. And as horrific as some of these moments are, there are also some sweet moments; Mike's love for his mother and Cassie, (she leaves the room and suddenly the room returns to existence).

Longreave was a high bar, and more of an epic (having multiple POV) so My Hungry Friend feels smaller compared to that. Almost like an extended short story. But still, a very enjoyable read, and if Goodreads would allow another half-star it would get it from me.

View all my reviews

Monday, 26 February 2018

Neon Sands KindleScout & reading update

I'm not reading half as much as I wish I was! Something about writing a book that is all consuming... hmm, I wonder what that could be.

However, I am currently taking a break with Daniel Barnett's 'My Hungry Friend' (which you can find on Goodreads here). His book, Longreave, is my favourite indie book to date, so I'm looking forward to getting stuck in.










It's also the final week of Neon Sands' Kindle Scout campaign. It started really well but then began to flounder in the pool of words and titles on offer. I barely marketed it when it was 'Hot & Trending' and when it fell out of that category, it was a killer. Went from 400-500 pagereads a day to single and double figures. If you want to put your book on Kindle Scout, never let up on the marketing!

Still, you never know, it could be picking up the nominations in the background without the numbers of pagereads (that's not a stat you're allowed to see). Either way, it's good publicity, and has taught me a lesson in case I try the same approach again.

If you haven't checked Neon Sands out yet, you can do so from here. It's book one in the first trilogy of three trilogies, with mysteries to discover, strange technologies, and sand to clean from eyes and otherwise clean cracks. It gets everywhere.

Read the Ends Meat short story introduction.

Friday, 23 February 2018

BOOK review: Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides

My favourite author is such and such, this guy or that gal. We list them off like old friends, knowing we share a private stash of memories; even if someone else was present their experience of the same moments will have been different. The list becomes commonplace, and we become complacent in our recitation of it. It’s easy to remember that we may like something, but more difficult to remember why we liked that something in the first place. And when that something is a Jeffrey Eugenides book, with countless yawning years between each release, the remembered joy of the pages remain while the words that caused it may fade.

So, good to see you old friend. I have a fresh complaint – that you don’t visit more often! There wasn’t one story in this collection I didn’t enjoy. They’re all vignettes of sometimes poignant and sometimes mundane moments in life. There’s life and death and tragedy, apathy and sex and emotional dysentery. Each story is best experienced spoiler free, so what I’m going to do is just take a favourite line from each for you to enjoy.

The Economy of Trickle Down

Whenever you hear that there is going to be a tax-cut, what your government is actually doing is giving you a massive middle-finger. They're telling you in no uncertain terms that they don't give a damn about you, that they exist purely to line the pockets of the powerful.

Here in the UK, and recently in the USA, we have a corporation tax so low even Mini-me would struggle to limbo beneath without risk of decapitation. Additionally, both the Tories and the Trump administration, under different guises, have put more money into the pockets of the average Joe, through personal income tax threshold raises and higher allowances. A ruse, to make it seem as though we have more money when in fact we don't. It says, we're giving these corporations a break, and you too! Everyone wins!

DailyFlash: Neon Knight Art

Alvaro Escudero took my Neon Knight flash fiction and created this awesome piece of artwork - all cyberpunk and glittering. You can check out how he did it by clicking here.


Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Short Story: Accident


He had the most boring job in the city – for real – it ranked bottom in a Kingdom-wide satisfaction survey. Traffic control warden. There were only six of them, and they rotated in eight-hour shifts, two a shift; relinquishing their soft, warm seat and sweat-sticky headset to the next with a wordless, faceless expression.
                An expression that didn’t change.
                He could see through the ‘eyes’ of the drones and direct their movement through the headset and from the ‘comfort’ of the office. There were physical monitors too for when the heavy feeling on the eyes became too much, but for the most part, that faint blue glimmer of the screens was a pale facsimile of light on his skin and nothing more.
                Two minutes into a shift and he became a dislocated entity, a city-bird without a roost.
                A little longer and red triangles flashed in his periphery. An accident. Two traffic control drones were needed on the A5 road. He despatched them and connected to their cameras; autocars shifted in synchronicity around him, keeping their distance and speed in check. As he got nearer to the accident he began to overtake them as their speed decreased, and then stopped altogether. Up ahead, one autocar had overturned. The wheels hadn’t thought to stop turning.

Friday, 9 February 2018

DailyFlash: Crawling the sands


Inside the forward cockpit was a beep. The metal detector had detected something large; it stretched long and metallic left-to-right, or perhaps right-to-left, before them. Walker brought the crawler to a stop and the last few track revolutions dug into the sand before finally halting.
                He sent Caia out to investigate. She dropped to the sand, blower on back and sand-boots on feet, and walked forward, sweeping the blower in arc before her. The sand swirled up and became a red mist around her. She pulled the scarf around her face a little tighter.
                A shiny green surface appeared just below her. The more sand she cleared the clearer the pipe became, arching over to the other side. She removed her hands to touch it and felt vibrations running through her arm, and when she placed her ear to the cool metal, the sound of gushing water bellowed.


This flash fiction was inspired by the world of Neon Sands, the first in a trilogy currently accepting nominations on Kindle Scout. Like this world and want to read more? Please vote for Neon Sands on Kindle Scout and get a free copy!


Thursday, 8 February 2018

Short Story: Ends Meat





There it was again – the smell. Barrick glanced at his father, who had his eyes closed but he probably wasn’t asleep, just too exhausted by hunger to keep them open. His cheeks were shallow, as though sucking air, his lips two thin lines of scabs.
                Father’s hemp shirt had become a shawl these last few weeks. The same was true for Barrick, his brothers and his sister.
                Finally, father’s eyes opened, his nostrils twitched, and with energy summoned from a dark place, he rose. “Again…” he said, barely moving his lips; tension in the jaw and scabs that would split.
                “I don’t know how they can do it,” said mother, head limp and resting on her raised knees.
                Father swung his legs from the bed and stared into space. The look was a disease, and they all had it. Barrick had seen it first in the faces of the eldest; at night, sharing a bowl of thin soup and disappearing as the first songs began, taking a bottle of moonshine with them. One by one, others caught the look and stopped turning up at all. He’d see them by day, afflicted by the vacant gaze as they sat beside the transparent wall of the dome. They’d stare at the sands but Barrick had no idea what they were looking at; perhaps they saw mirages of visiting caravans that no longer came.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

DailyFlash: Within Means

“How do you want them?” asked Mireille.
     The wanderer held her rations out. The temptation to eat them right away had slowly vanished the older she got. Now it was the exact opposite. “Dried.”
     Mireille took the fruit from her hands and placed them in the condenser. In an hour, the grapes would be raisins, the apples one third their size and hard, and all the liquid would be collected in the bottles. They would make a nice meal out on the sands, sometimes accompanied by jerked meat.
     It used to be a challenge to spread the meals out; make it last as long as possible. Now, she’d find shelter and be surprised by how much she still had left. Might even take fewer rations than offered.
     “Can I trade these for extra clothes anywhere?” she asked.
     Mireille looked at her as though she was crazy.


This flash fiction was inspired by the world of Neon Sands, the first in a trilogy currently accepting nominations on Kindle Scout. Like this world and want to read more? Please vote for Neon Sands on Kindle Scout and get a free copy!