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Thursday, 13 December 2018

Cover reveal - Neon Zero - Neon Series Prequel

Hi all! Well it's been an exciting month for my book sales - having Neon Sands Book One on free for a few days was great, reaching #1 in 3 different categories and curiously, across all 5 days, the ratio of free downloads to purchases of books 2 and 3 was 30:1, consistently. I like that ratio. So next up, the perma-free prequel Neon Zero:

You cannot outrun the sun...

With Earth falling to pieces, those who escaped look back with sorrow, and forward with hope. Hope of a new beginning. A chance to start over.

Then the fires
began...













Looks good, eh? I might just have to get a paperback version printed, if only for myself, even though it'll only be 100 pages or so long. You can add it to your Goodreads reading list here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43199128-neon-zero

I seem to have had a rise in book review requests lately - apologies if I've not responded to you. At the moment, the only books I'm thinking about are my own and a few that are already on my reading list, sorry.

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.

http://getbook.at/amazon-neon-sands

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.

https://adamjsmithauthor.blogspot.com/search/label/dailyflash

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!

CHECK OUT THE SERIES HERE


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!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Adam-J-Smith/e/B01ITQM3UG

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

SHORT STORY: Cancer

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! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35643268-rusticles

Thursday, 12 July 2018

A Darkling Plain (The Hungry City Chronicles, #4) by Philip Reeve

I gave the first three books 4-stars (exciting but with thin characters) and half-way through A Darkling Plain was of a mind to give this 5-stars, to acknowledge the worldbuilding and story aspects that spanned all the books, even though it struggled with the same problems. (See what I did there, Philip? 'Even though it struggled' instead of 'even though it was struggling'.) The final third of the book cemented a begrudging 3-stars, it was just terrible. 

Before I even talk about the story and characters, I have to mention the writing, or perhaps that should be the editing, or its lack of editing. Throughout the series, the writing was solid enough if nothing spectacular, and rarely distracting. For a while I even thought the quality had gone up in A Darkling Plain, but like the story, it seemed to collapse in the final third. Packed with action, yet filled with passive tense - these lines should be URGENT and TAUGHT but instead were weak and lazy.


"The Stalker's robes began to burn. Lightning was crawling across her calm, bronze face..."

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!


Tuesday, 6 February 2018

DailyFlash: Lightning Rainbow

"The rains are coming on! The rains are coming on!" shouted the little boy. He jumped into an excited run and tried to pull his sister with him.
     She stood, knowing there was no need to rush. There was a little bubble of excitement within, but it wasn't quite as big as it used to be.
     The boy lead the way, bounding up the stairwell from level three where he shared accommodation with his family - and a few others. Neon strip-lights lit up as he passed beneath them. The girl watched him disappear into the courtyard of the dome through heavy double doors that swung back into her face.
     In the courtyard her brother was already standing with his friends, waiting for the weekly shower.
     "30 seconds..." said Kirillion's voice over the loudspeaker. The girl looked up to the apex of the dome and the saucer-shaped shadow of the watchtower from where Kirillion spoke. Where the important things were done.
     Then it began. The pipes that ran adjacent to the shaft leading to the watchtower gushed with water. She put a hand on one and could feel it vibrate. At the top, the pipe passed from their dome and into the outer dome - the Agridome - and there; they watched as the water cascaded in a rainpour they could see, but not feel.
     Lightning rainbows shimmered on the inner lining as the rain made its way down to the crops below, and all the kids "wooowed" in wonder.


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!



Sunday, 4 February 2018

Neon Sands - Kindle Scout Nominations

Hi everybody! The first book in the Neon Sands trilogy is now up on Kindle Scout awaiting nominations.

Link spam: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/M0AVK7KHQVAB


What is Kindle Scout? It's an Amazon affiliate - if a book gets enough votes in a 30 day period, they publish it and market it, making the whole exercise a lot easier for the self-published authors. Voters also get a free copy!

Link spam: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/M0AVK7KHQVAB



Sand like powder smothers the decimated planet; those that eke an existence scavenge and utilise old technologies they barely understand, wanderers drifting from outpost to outpost. But the sand hides secrets, and when it shifts, questions unasked and allegiances long forged are challenged. What else is the sand hiding? A sci-fi/punk adventure in an inhospitable landscape, Neon Sands is the opening book in an epic series that will explore Man’s technological and innate potential, and the search for hope when all looks bleak.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Book Review: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, #1)La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

His Dark Materials is up there with my favourite books so it was a pleasurable, warm and cosy return to the alt-Oxford world of daemons and anti-religiosity. Set before the first trilogy, it introduces Malcolm Polstead who charges himself with protecting a baby Lyra from forces that want her for their own needs, and from a 40-days and 40-nights style flood.

The writing is beautiful and the story is great; the first half being a reintroduction to the world, told leisurely, with the second half ramping up the tension and action as a chase on the water ensues. There is a sense early on that you are still reading the book's introduction, despite being a couple hundred words in, but then you realise you have become immersed in it.

Malcolm as a character, and latterly Alice (who is forced into the journey too) both grow and develop as the story winds on, escaping the one-dimensional traits. And we meet some old (young) characters from His Dark Materials too, but they don't interfere too much. With the next one set 20 years after this, I do wonder about the pertinence of this story and how it will add to the whole, especially with the introduction of certain important characters. 20 years sees like a loooong time to jump ahead...

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