Friday, 30 November 2018

Breaking the silence - Neon Sands FREE

I am alive! The blog is not dead! Hallelujah!

In all seriousness, I've just been too busy to do anything but work and write Flames of Apathy! It was a bit of a beast but in the end, I think I've done the trilogy justice. Science-fiction, for me, has always been about hope and aspiration, as much as it has been about any futuristic science, or high-concept action scenes. I'm most interested in the human story. Which is why I think Flames of Apathy works well. But, who knows, maybe it'll divide opinion. If at least one person enjoys it, than that'll be something!

It's out on 6 December, so to celebrate, Neon Sands is free, and Plains of Ion is reduced, for the next 5 days. Neon Sands is currently sitting at #2 in various categories, which is pretty amazing. Might even be #1 by the time I finish writing this. This will be the first and only time it'll be free, so grab it while you can. I'm writing a prequel to the Neon series which will be permafree, out in February.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Review: Poor Things

Poor Things Poor Things by Daniel Barnett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Had fun with my new kindle reading this one, sharing lots of good quotes as some may have seen. This book is perma-free on Amazon and if you like horror and gore with characters in the Stephen King mould, you'll enjoy this.

A devestating event sends Joel to live with his Aunt Sandy in the town of Honaw; a place with more than one skeleton in its closet. New school, new friends, new bullies - pretty soon we're treated to a cast of characters to become attached to, and horrors to endure.

“In the dictionary under ‘adolescence’ you’ll find a bunch of stuff about transitional periods and developmental phases, and that all may be accurate enough if you’re writing a paper for Health class, but only one word defines ‘adolescence’ and that word is ‘earthquake.”

I shared many quotes and could've chosen any of them to put above, but the truth is the writing is just extremely solid throughout. There's a definite style which lends itself well to suspense and horror, and in first person it is peppered with incisive observation.

“I think we all have that place where we feel closest to ourselves, where the mind slides into perfect orbit around the heart.”

And when it arrives, the crawling horror is satisfyingly bloody, and splatty, gorey and squelchy - almost too much, stretching the believable, testing the limits of our narrator. But then it's reigned in again, lulling us into its safe space. Before kicking on, shifting into a higher gear, crescendoing to a satisfying conclusion.

Did I mention it's free?

View all my reviews

Thursday, 27 September 2018

DailyFlash: Adrift

Skin no longer skin; inside a bubble of gelatine gently decoding her, she followed where her mind lead. Threads stretched beyond the dome; beyond the planet and the atomsphere and into the empty chaos of space. She was that chaos; starbursts and heat deaths and dark that did not matter, and dark that was. She could see between the nature of things, and through it, into the soul - a disembodiment of God. Planktons of knowledge dislodged from her and became part of the soup around her, blazing.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Neon Series Promo - 24-26 Sept / #Amreading

Howdy folks. Just a quick update to let you know you can pick up Neon Sands for 99c, and a discount on Plains of Ion. Book 3, Flames of Apathy is on permanent preorder bonus price of 99c too - great to see some preorders already!

You may have already read my newsletter - I'm giving the whole NL swap thing a go, and so far, it's not doing too badly. Best sales day since July!

The Risen is also on offer at the moment for 99c, while Hereafter is FREE! Free I tell ya.

The writing for Flames of Apathy is going well, and while I'm not writing, I'm reading Poor Things by Daniel Barnett and The Fireman by Joe Hill. So far, so prefering Poor Things. The Fireman is a whole lotta book!

Follow me on Goodreads for updates there.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Review: How the World Ends

How the World Ends How the World Ends by Rudolf Kerkhoven
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The world's population is dying by their own hand. Can one family halt their demise?

The plot unfolds from this central premise and turns into a sort-of road trip - a linear exploration of a family struggling to keep it together as everything falls apart. The strengths are with the writing, which flows very well and does a good job exploring the inner self of Alex, our matriarch protagonist; and the characterisation of the husband and wife. Even if we are often asking ourselves how these two remained together. But that in itself shows strong characterisation.

Sometimes the children felt a little forgotten - when they were there they were realistically portrayed, but they didn't come into their own or feel 'rounded' until later. But this wasn't so bad. For me, after everything, the book kinda fell into Book One syndrome - it never reached fifth gear; the family are constantly running AWAY from danger it feels, and even when danger catches up it's more of an uphill labour to generate any tension or unpredictable action. The problem is we are in the head of someone who has no idea what's going on, and the development arc all leads towards book two.

I can see why someone would rate this higher, so my 3 stars is (obviously) just a personal taste thing. It's a character-driven end-of-world tale; I'd have just enjoyed a bit more bite in the middle.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Flames of Apathy: Neon Sands Book 3 Preorder

Great news! The 3rd book in the Neon Sands trilogy is now on preorder - available 6 December. Special preorder price of 0.99!


Far beneath the city’s depths burns far more than the fuel that feeds it.

What happens when equilibrium unbalances?

Will the people be ready for it?

Would they recognise it, even when it happened?

When Rylan finds new friends in old places, his passion for fairness and order is reignited. And when those new friends themselves become a target, he must make a decision: his mission or their lives?

Set within the bowels of Neon City, incessant rain shrouding an entire population with their hoods drawn up, book three of the Neon Sands trilogy burns as bright as the forges beneath the city – a ferocious final act.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Review: Among Wolves

Among Wolves Among Wolves by R.A. Hakok
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There's a lot to admire in Hakok's Among Wolves (not least the Amazon ranking) - for it is a Young Adult Sci-fi Dystopia that knows how to tell a story. Specific sciency things are glossed over or stretched to points of believability, but this is small fry, for the way the story unfolds offers us sneak peeks and tidbits, while focusing on character, and when certain events are unveiled, you can forgive a little far-fetchedness.

The world has come to a stop; all that remains is a group of teens and the adults left in charge of them, buried deep within the safety of a mountain. Outside is dangerous and snow-ridden. Changes are occuring within the small community, and revelations are not far away. Supplies are in short supply, and the tension is rising. We follow Gabriel's story; he is a scavenger, who, along with Marv (one of the remaining adults) heads out to pick through the remains of the nearby small towns and buildings. Pickings are slim, as they are forced further and further.

Refreshingly, we also witness the end of days, following one of the key figures in its downfall. It gives the story a more rounded feeling than you sometimes get from these apocalyptic adventures (including my own). Reading this taught me a few things about how I could about my own stories. But that aside, I enjoyed the pacing. It took its time, with nice, full-length paragraphs and sparse dialogue. I imagine if I did this, it would be full of description, but here it's often movement. Sometimes not a lot happens, but there's always movement, and at other times reflection. There'll be no awards won for imaginative synonyms or metaphors, but that's okay. For what this is, and who it's for, it works.

I've seen some complaints about the ending, but if you're picking it up, you already know it's book one in a series. Even considering that, there's more than enough within the pages to tell a full story, with plenty of twists and turns and surprises, right up til the end.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Book Review: Mutation by Nerys Wheatley

"Despite their bravado, most of the men facing them now looked on edge, ranging from nervous to downright terrified, glancing around them as if they expected a wave of ravenous monsters to flood from the surrounding buildings at any second. It was one thing to shout and goad an empty street, but quite another to come face to face with their nightmares."

Mutation is book one in the Twenty-Five Percent series; featuring samurai swords, bromance, romance, gore, suspense, guns (in the UK!), motorbikes - and eaters (not zombies!). It's also a meaty book, coming in at nearly 400 ebook pages. From page one it's a series of encounters covering the usual humans-are-the-real-bad-guys and running-from-zombies tropes, all tuned to the max. If you're going to write this kind of story, do it well! And Nerys has.

Pinning the story to earth is Alex and Micah, an unlikely duo who begin at loggerheads (literally) before developing a believable bromance as the story unfolds, while they keep tally of who has saved each other more than the other. This central partnership is key, and the book wouldn't work half as well without this being convincing, but there's also plenty of exciting misadventure too as they narrowly avoid death time and again.

"Carrie was staring at Alex's face. "What happened to your nose?"
"Someone punched me," he said quickly, before Micah could say anything. "Big dude, fists like rocks."
Micah snorted. Alex ignored him."

The writing is solid - my only gripe being the slightly heavy handed use of the passive voice, such as "Carrie was staring at Alex's face." Personally, I'd prefer "Carrie stared at Alex's face." But this is minor in what is a well-written story.

As the plot progresses, it also begins to throw in the elements that the story would need to make it stand out from other zombie-genre titles, to make it different. We already have the Survivors (Alex) - those who were turned but then cured just before it was too late, left with 'powers' and distinguishable white irises. Gradually, more is revealed, and it's not so far-fetched (in this world) to be believable either.

If you enjoy this genre of book, you can't go wrong!

Sunday, 29 July 2018

DailyFlash: ImMEDIAte

The man has a flashback to sitting in the backseat of a car with potential in-laws, the heat of a strange country on everything from the window glass to the material upholstery to the kid's clammy hand. The kid - not his, but yes his in this as-yet unbroken timeline - goes "Mommy says you're my Daddy now." It explodes in the car, an aftermath of silence, and the potential in-laws say something, he doesn't remember what; and he says something, he doesn't remember what. It doesn't matter. There's no rewind.

In the present timeline he sees the kid's face as it is now on the screen, and the face of his own as she plays in the corner of the room. She calls out a legitimate Daddy, and he is struck by his own complacency, and remorse. She wasn't the first to call him Daddy - how could he have taken the clammy hand so lightly? Not seen through the eyes of the kid? A well opens in his heart and he falls into the darkness, staring only at the kid's gaze, hoping they were young enough to forget him easily. His punishment; that they would or already have: unaware of the Daddy roaming the earth who would never forget them.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Promo time!

This weekend, my books are on promo. The Risen, a mid-apocalypse zombie horror is free on Kindle, and Neon Sands and the follow-up, Plains of Ion, are reduced to 0.99.

Join in the fun!

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

DailyFlash: Under the city

We shuffle across the steel ramparts that link the canyon caves, in droves and bright orange bodysuits with our nutrition packs tied around our waists. The bright spotlights glare from the high eaves like daylight, casting our shadows down into a lake of darkness in black bars. From loudspeakers at the end of tall poles, we half-listen to the March of Progress - "... bring it home for the sake of your brethren, one-hundred-percent and we'll soon be one..." Ahead, the flames of the forges billow across the faces of rock and we can already feel the sweat burning on our brows.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018


Little Greg was eight years old when he developed a plan to save his parents’ lives. And it was so simple too! His heart thumped, imagining the scenario playing out. Would it go as he thought it would? Or would they laugh in his face? Once they knew he was serious they would soon clock on and change their ways. He was sure of it.

He chose a rainy day to emphasize his point, maybe with a pronounced cough or two. Outside the window, grey clouds laboured heavy across the sky, with the gentle pattering of rain striking the glass and windowsill and pouring from the gutter and into the street. The window was open a crack, and his father’s cigarette smoke feigned escape in slow-moving swirls, almost blue against the grey.

Monday, 23 July 2018

DailyFlash: Walls

Every evening at seven it begins with a rat-tat-tat on the walls as though the neighbour's relaying carpet up the stairs after a day of tearing it up. Nails thrust into stair-boards tap-tap-tap. Hammer popping heads pap-pap-pap. Knocking in my forehead knock-knock-knock, with my temple on the wall and my veins exploding. A lumber puncture in the brain, my eyes bulging with weight. The house as empty and dark as midnight, eyes lit. Can't take no more. Then come the nail-points bursting through the plaster, puffs of powder like invisible footprints stepping closer and closer to my temple, crack-crack-crack. Just keep my head here. Just keep my head here and let the nail in. Let the lumber in and release. The knocking ends, as it always does - so close.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

BOOK REVIEW: The Electric State by Simon Stålenhag

To say I love Simon's art is an understatement, so this book could have been all pictures and still attained 5 stars. Behind the art however is a story: it is a roadtrip across an alternative version of USA in the 90s, one filled with a mixture of analogue and digital and a curious array of science-fiction artefacts left to rust and decay after an apparent 'event'. Or are they?

The story is told using a mixture of the art and the writing, often using the writing to delve into some character backstory and history of events – the pacing is slow and allows the world to become ingrained before we learn more about the narrator and the kind of events that have lead to this point. Indeed, there is some satisfaction in the scarcity of revelation; little nuggets we are given which we are able to mesh with revelations further on. It’s not a long read so there’s no trouble remembering important little elements, and a second read through might be worth it to pick up on anything you may have missed.

The writing itself was four out of five because of some inconsistencies over style, sometimes verging into stream of consciousness without punctuation, when really the slow, meandering style it had been using, and which was sometimes elegant, would have sufficed. It could have done with another editor too as it should have been tighter, often losing impact because of a passive voice.

Overall though, it leaves you wanting more, which is always a good sign.

Monday, 16 July 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Rusticles by Rebecca Grandsen

Rusticles was a pleasantly literary read after months and months of genre books, something to wrap my mind around and dig my teeth into. It's a series of short stories interconnected by themes and locations and just a general, overall mood of melancholy, my favourite of which is Dilapidated Flamingo, a story about a boy trying to feed a mysterious flamingo that keeps appearing in his garden. Like the other stories, character is key. There's a mystery or mysterious event occurring, but it's the emotions of the characters that are explored, with the events being catalysts for character development.

"I'm starting to think it knows I'm watching. I was at my window and it appeared from beneath, like it had been hovering around the backdoor waiting for its moment. It opened its wings right there, waving them around a little, putting on a show. Its feathers were all bent and drooping and its neck looked like someone had kicked it sideways. The flamingo proceeded to prance around the decking, its faded pinkness and rotten skinned legs making me feel sorry for it."

I don't want to talk too much about the stories, because each one is like a little gem waiting to be mined and best discovered on a one-to-one basis. What's paramount is the writing, and the confidence to take risks with it (one story has no punctuation but has a wonderful rhythm). Early on there was a vague feeling of the writing riding the cliff-edge of trying too hard, but you soon realise there is a solid understanding of how to develop a sentence or a paragraph. The writing is tight, pleasingly devoid of passive tense, and when you get a long, complicated sentence, it's followed by some shorter ones. The prose rises and falls poetically.

Check it out!