Darker Places by Shaun Allan

Every now and then you have the privilege of coming across an author whose writing style it so different yet imaginative that it makes your toes curl. One such author is Shaun Allan.

I read his book Sin and absolutely loved it. It wasn’t the sort of book I’d normally read, but I’d heard so many great things about it, I became curious and picked myself up a copy. I’ve been a huge fan of his work ever since. I’ve also met Shaun and he is genuinely one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known. He also likes my bacon sandwiches, a point which raises him in my estimation!

Today, Shaun launches his latest offering, Darker Places, a collection of thirteen stories and thirteen poems in the horror genre. I’m honoured to be able to reveal the cover here today. Look at this beauty and tell me what it says to you…

DarkerPlaces_96dpi_100%

And here’s the blurb:

What if you could steal the final moments from the dying? What if you had the darkest secret, but couldn’t think what it might be? What if you entered the forest in the deep of the night. Who is the melting man? And are your neighbours really whom they appear to be?

So many questions.

To find the answers, you must enter a darker place. Thirteen stories. Thirteen poems. Thirteen more doorways.

Well, if that doesn’t pique your interest, I don’t know what will! If it already has, here’s the buy link: Amazon UK and Amazon US

I’ve already got a copy of this book and can’t wait to read it. You can be sure that as soon as I have, there’ll be a review on here for you!

Shaun Allan

Shaun Allan

A writer of many prize winning short stories and poems, Shaun Allan has written for more years than he would perhaps care to remember. Having once run an online poetry and prose magazine, he has appeared on Sky television to debate, against a major literary agent, the pros and cons of internet publishing as opposed to the more traditional method. Many of his personal experiences and memories are woven into Sin’s point of view and sense of humour although he can’t, at this point, teleport.

Advertisements

Interview with Tiffany Shand

As promised in my last post, I’ve scored an interview with Tiffany Shand, author of Denai Touch, her debut novel. And here it is:

Book Cover

CC: Hi Tiffany! Welcome and congratulations on your debut novel.

TS: Hi Carlie, thanks for having me. Don’t mind the mad cats jumping around!

CC: That’s no problem. They’re really cute.

Let’s start you off on an easy one – can you tell us a bit about Denai Touch?

TS: It’s about a witch named Cate McCray, who is prophesied to defeat a terrorist organisation named the Covenant. The story mainly focuses on her relationship with her partner Jason and how they fight to stop the Covenant before it’s too late.

CC: What made you choose witches as your theme?

TS: I’ve always loved witches. I thought it would be nice to betray them in a different way rather than hooked nosed hags. My witches are sexy and bad arse!

CC: Why did you pick this genre?

TS: I got bored of contemporary fiction in my teens and that’s when I first discovered my love of paranormal romance/fantasy and knew they were the kind of genres that I wanted to write in.

CC: What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

TS: The hardest thing for me was probably motivation. When I get to the middle of a story I sometimes get a bit bored and really have to motivate myself to finish it.

CC: What was the easiest part of the whole process for you?

TS: Writing the book was probably the easiest thing. The hardest thing was the lead up to the publishing process. Editing took over a year which I was not happy about and did wonder if it would ever end. It was a big letdown.

But despite the bad things that happened I have learnt a lot during this process and know I won’t make the same mistakes with my next book.

CC: I know from experience that a part of the author somehow ends up in the persona of one of the characters. Which of the characters is most like you and why?

TS: That’s a tough question! But probably Cate, she’s a strong woman and I think that strength helped her get through some of the hard times she’s had and I can relate to that in some ways. She’s tough, feisty and sometimes outspoken – which I don’t think I am, but she also has a vulnerable side. We also both have a car named Ruby!

CC: Do you have a particular writing routine?

TS: I usually tend to do other things done in the morning and then write during the afternoon – if my laptop isn’t jumped upon by my two cats! Or I usually spend half an hour removing cat hair from my keyboard.

CC: What can we expect to see next from you?

TS: I’ve almost finished my second novel, Denai Bound which I’m hoping to publish later this year. They are going to be part of a series and I also have a spin off series in the works.

CC: Now for a few fun ones to finish with:

Tea or coffee?

TS: Definitely tea.

CC: Spring or autumn?

TS: Spring.

CC: Sandals or barefoot?

TS: Sandals.

CC: Cocktails or shots?

TS: Neither, I don’t drink.

CC: Green or Purple?

TS: Purple.

CC: Silver or gold?

TS: Silver.

CC: Thanks very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to me today, Tiffany. I wish you every success with Denai Touch.

TS: Thanks Carlie!

Well, I hope you enjoyed that and getting to know Tiffany a little better. If you’re intrigued about her book, check it out on Amazon by clicking here.

 

 

#AprilPrompts Day 9 – Thriller

The ‘thriller’ genre in books and films can cover quite a variety of subject matter: crime, adventure, spies – the list goes on. But most people, when they hear or see the word ‘thriller’, automatically think of one person . . .

Thriller

Day 9 - Thriller

Day 9 – Thriller

I’ve been a huge Michael Jackson fan since I was a kid. I used to bop around the lounge to ‘Rockin’ Robin’, ‘ABC’, and ‘I Want You Back’, and was glued to the TV watching the cartoon show about the Jackson 5.

Growing up with MJ’s music was wonderful. I loved discos and would always dance with gay abandon to any of Michael’s tracks that were played. The tracks from ‘Thriller’ were favourites, as was his ground-breaking music video. To this day, Thriller is still the best-selling album of all time.

thriller1

It was always my dream to see him live and in 1992 I got my chance.

The big day arrived and I travelled to Wembley Stadium full of excitement. Even though I arrived four hours before the doors were due to open, it seemed everyone else had the same idea and the queue was massive. By the time I entered the stadium, the only places available were in the stands. I got as close to the front as I could while maintaining a great view.

When MJ danced onto the stage the atmosphere was super-charged. Everyone danced and sang along and at the end of the most amazing show I’ve ever seen, he strapped on a rocket pack, rose into the sky and disappeared.

It’s tragic he’s gone.

thriller2

 

Book launch: Forbidden Road by Connie J Jasperson

Every so often I come across a book that resonates deep in my soul – I’m sure that’s happened to you too! One of those books was Tower of Bones by Connie J Jasperson. Most of you know I love fantasy books more than any other genre and this book certainly didn’t disappoint!

I started getting to know Connie through a mutual friend and was delighted when she asked me to edit book two in the series, Forbidden Road. This was truly a labour of love for me; having enjoyed Tower of Bones so much I read it twice back-to-back, it gave me enormous joy to be able to read and work on the follow up. This has been the most comprehensive editing job I’ve had and it took a while to reach the finish line, but what made it all the more enjoyable was working with a consummate professional who I have come to respect and consider a dear friend.

Tomorrow this fabulous book is being launched and I can honestly say I’m almost as excited as Connie! Of course, being the editor has a few perks, one of which is being able to give you, my wonderful followers, an exclusive cover and trailer reveal PLUS an interview with the lovely lady! I’ve also managed to twist her arm to allow me to share an excerpt from Forbidden Road with you. So without further rambling from me . . . here is the amazing cover, which was designed by Ceri Clark.

FR Cover bigger

Now for the trailer:

Intrigued yet??? Here’s the blurb:

A ray of light shone on Edwin. Of its own volition the sword Leviathan raised itself aloft to the Goddess. A bell tolled deep and clear, ringing through Edwin’s bones, ringing to his heels and resonating to his very soul, sealing him, binding him. Fervently he swore to wield Leviathan in service to the Goddess and Neveyah.  He was alive with the sound of the bell. The beauty of it was almost unbearable.

As every fiber of his being resonated, a voice proclaimed “Now begins the quest in earnest. Send now the heroes four to the Shadowed Land. Beware! Beloved, the true task for which you were born begins.  The storm rages, the door opens upon the field of battle. In grief recall the Forbidden Road. The Beloved Hero will rise on the day of redemption. Mist and shadows shroud the truth, but the Hero Foretold shall one day set them free.”

Tears coursed down his cheeks and falling to his knees, Edwin’s eyes were blinded by the radiance of the bell’s tolling through his heart, mind and soul. The knowledge he was loved, overwhelming in its intensity, flooded his being.

Thus begins the Quest of a lifetime. Sorrow, peril and magic await in the Valley of Mal Evol.

I’m going to keep you waiting a bit for the excerpt and tease you with the interview – especially as it talks a little more about Forbidden Road!

Me: Hi and welcome, Connie. Congratulations on the launch of Forbidden Road – are you as excited as I am?

CJJ: Yes, it’s been a long time coming and I’m glad the day is finally here.

Me: So am I!! Can you tell us a little about your new book?

CJJ: Forbidden Road takes up six years after the end of Tower of Bones, and continues Edwin’s story. Many changes have occurred and many more loom on the horizon. They are all family men, and they have careers—things that are all affected by this quest. Joining Edwin, Friedr and Christoph on their quest to shield the heart of Neveyah and heal the land is Zan, Christoph’s adopted son.

Me:  Do you have a favourite character? If so, who and why?

CJJ: I’m in love with all four of them, especially now they are settled men.  They each have their own strengths and that is what makes this series so much fun to write.

Me: I know what you mean – I love all of them too! How many more books are you planning for this series?

CJJ: One more in the Tower of Bones Series, working title is ‘Valley of Sorrows’. There is a prequel in the works currently about 75% done. Once all of these are complete I will begin working on the ‘Hero’ series, of which the final book is outlined.

Me: Ooo, exciting! How did writing Forbidden Road compare with writing Tower of Bones, the first book in the series?

CJJ: Both books fell out of my head faster than I could write them down.  With Forbidden Road I had an editor as soon as the first draft was finished (gosh, you may know her!) and that made the whole process so much easier.

Me: I can’t think who you’re referring to, *tries to look innocent*. Are any of the characters based, however loosely, on anyone you know?

CJJ: I doubt it—so far as I know they are based on people I would LIKE to know, and began life as characters for a an old-school computer game that was planned to proceed along the lines of the early Final Fantasy games, and like the modern Aveyond games. That fell through, but I had fallen in love with the story and it became Tower of Bones.

Me: It’s a shame the game fell through, but think what we would have missed if the book had never been written . . .  Anyway, what are you working on at the moment?

CJJ: I am working on Mountains of the Moon. This is Edwin’s grandfather’s story and is a bit of a comedy; it’s being written as a stand-alone novel, as Tower of Bones was. I am trying to get that one finished, because John Farmer’s flashbacks in Valley of Sorrows concern events surrounding the fates of several characters from that book. I have the basic story of Valley of Sorrows all done, but in order to flesh it out I need to finish Mountains of the Moon.

Me: I can’t wait to get my hands on these two! I know you’re a big music lover; who are your favourite artists to have playing when you write?

CJJ: In truth, I am obsessed with Ritchie Blackmore in all his incarnations, such as Rainbow and Deep Purple.  I love his current band Blackmore’s Night. My other obsession is Robert Plant in all his various incarnations too! But besides Ritchie and Robert, my iPod has everything from Adele to the Zombies in it, and I have seventeen days’ worth of music, which if I began playing it end to end would never repeat itself.  My daughter, Meg Clear’s music is very high on my faves list!

Me: I love Meg’s music too! Is there any one author who has influenced your writing?

CJJ: I think the late Anne McCaffrey has had the greatest influence on me, but all the great fantasy and early sci-fi writers are alive and well in my subconscious mind.

Me: What made you pick fantasy as your genre to write?

CJJ: I’ve never been fond of reality, truthfully. I guess that since I live in the real world, I don’t need to vacation here!

Me: I can SO relate to that and what a great way to explain it! What is the most important thing you’ve learned in the last 12 months?

CJJ: You may laugh, but I finally figured out how to make the brushes rotate on my carpet shampooer, and that has helped me immensely!  I clean house when I hit the wall on my writing and need to organize my thoughts. I’ve always found cleaning to be conducive to daydreaming, and all my books begin as daydreams.  SO—having the shampooer that’s working properly has been awesome for my creative genius!

Me: May laugh? Only a huge amount of side-splitting guffaws echoing around the room right now! That’s certainly not what I was expecting, but I think it’s brilliant. Anything which helps the creative juices to flow is a good thing, right? Okay, a couple of fun ones to finish off . . .

You’re throwing a dinner party and can invite any three people, living, dead or fictional to join you and your guests. Who would they be and why?

CJJ: Roger Zelazney, L.E. Modesitt Jr. and Fritz Lieber.  Three great fantasy authors, all of whom have awesome male heroes. Only Modesitt is still alive, and of the three, only his characters are not misogynists. Nevertheless, I would love to hear them discuss the craft of writing from their viewpoints. Can you imagine the dinner conversation?

Me: OMG it would be awesome! Finally, if you could be a fictional character for a day, who would you be and why?

CJJ: I would be Uhura from the original Star Trek, because she got to play with the boys and she could talk to every species they met.

Me: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit me today. I’ve loved having you here! I wish you every success with your wonderful new book!

CJJ: Thank you for inviting me!

Okay, okay, I’ve teased you long enough and can’t hold it back any longer. Here is the EXCLUSIVE excerpt from Forbidden Road, just for you:

“Why does the land change so radically here?” Zan finally asked Edwin. “This is the worst road I’ve ever seen!”

“Tauron’s poison is nearly at the door,” replied Edwin, wondering what was bothering Zan. “It’s a mere fifty leagues away from the gap now. I thought you understood. We’ll be in Tauron’s Mal Evol in three days.”

“I knew it on one level, but I guess I didn’t understand what it meant,” replied Zan, feeling temporarily dismayed by the grim reality of the landscape. “I guess I was thinking of the adventure, not the reality. I was thinking it’d be like Aelfrid Firesword, all fun and adventure, with no worry.”

 “Actually, Aelfrid Firesword’s life must’ve been terribly difficult,” said Edwin, walking next to Zan. “Think about it. He was forced to kill his closest friend who’d become a rogue mage and gone over to Tauron. Can you imagine how you’d feel if, say, I went over to Tauron? How would you protect the people of Neveyah from me? What would you do?”

“I never thought about that aspect of the story,” Zan admitted. “Making those sorts of decisions, having to kill someone you love in order to protect others you love, I can’t imagine what that was like for Aelfrid.” He sighed. “But I’d do it, if I was forced to. I think it’d kill me, though.”

“I know.” Edwin clasped Zan’s shoulder. “Daryk was the most famous of the Dark-Mages, but most people don’t know he fought desperately against Tauron’s minions at Aelfrid’s side when the two of them first came into their powers. He worshipped Aeos, and loved Neveyah with all his heart. It never occurred to either Aelfrid or Daryk he would ever fall to Tauron, but there was no Temple, and no vows to protect him from Tauron’s blandishments. There was no college to teach young mages how to use their magic, so they had to learn how to control the build-up of chi and avoid the madness by gaining apprenticeships to older mages. Daryk was lured away from their kind master by a mindbender who was under Tauron’s spell. It was because of Aelfrid’s grief over the loss of the man who’d been closer than a brother, and his struggle to save the other mages still loyal to Aeos that Aeoven and the Temple exist today. Without Aelfrid we wouldn’t have the augmentations allowing us access to greater chi reserves, nor would we bind ourselves to the Goddess with the vows. It must’ve been a terribly hard time to live through.”

“I see what you mean,” admitted Zan. “As a kid I read all the stories, and just thought it was all good against evil, romance and happy endings. But maybe it’s just the way the bards tell it.”

Edwin laughed. “It wouldn’t be a good story if it was all dirt, bug bites and poor sanitary conditions now, would it?”

Forbidden Road will be available on Kindle from Amazon tomorrow (on both sides of the pond), with the paperback following soon.

Connie J JaspersonConnie J Jasperson lives and writes in Olympia, Washington.  Somewhat like the ‘Brady Bunch’, she and her husband share five children, eleven grandchildren and a love of good food and great music.

Tower of Bones Series – Planned for release in February 2013 is the second book in the series, Forbidden Road, the sequel to the best-selling epic-fantasy, Tower of Bones.

Billy’s Revenge SeriesBook 1 The Last Good Knight is a medieval fantasy. Book 2, Huw, the Bard is planned for release in 2013.

A collection of fairy tales and short-stories, Tales from the Dreamtime is also scheduled to be released in 2013.

Catch Connie on her blog at http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com

 

 

Wading Through the Publishing River

Michelle Birbeck was my next fabulous hostess on the Heart Search Blog Tour. She wanted me to write on the subject of publishing and this is what I came up with.

You’ve spent untold hours writing your story. You’ve lovingly crafted your character and skilfully designed your plot. Having gone through editing and beta reading, your manuscript is now as perfect as you can make it and now comes the hardest decision of all – how to publish it.

As writers, most of us dream of getting an agent and being contracted to one of the ‘Big Six’ publishers, but it’s not as easy as that, is it?

Basically you have three choices; attempt to get an agent who will tout your masterpiece until you get a publishing contract, go through an Indie Publisher, or self-publish.

Traditional Publishing:

These days, it’s even harder to get an agent than ever. They are inundated by manuscripts and you can wait months for a response. The wait is agonising – I know, I’ve been there! You have to pen a killer query letter which will grab them in the first couple of sentences (no longer than one page), write a single page synopsis which will highlight the most exciting parts of your book and send in two or three chapters for them to consider. Writing a query letter which will have the desired effect is, in some ways, harder than writing the book itself. You need to research your potential agents thoroughly and adhere to their submission requirements to the letter with every ‘i’ dotted and every ‘t’ crossed. No mean feat that!

Having done all of that, you send it off with hope in your heart and wait. Several weeks or months later comes the email you’ve been dreading – the rejection. However, if this is your dream, you keep trying other agents and wait some more. It’s like a never-ending circle. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones who gets picked up by an agent, but there’s more waiting in store as your agent suggests possible changes to the book and you may have to re-write sections and then there’s the time to kill while your agent tries to get you a publishing deal. While all this is going on, you are depriving potential readers of your work of art. Still, if that’s your dream you must follow it.

Indie Publishing:

This is a similar process to traditional publishing except that you submit direct to the publisher. Again, you need to do your homework and ensure the publishers you choose want the genre your novel is based in and most of them only accept submission at certain times during the year. If you send your submission in speculatively outside of their ‘open window’, it will either be deleted or thrown away.

Again, it’s important to follow the submission guidelines to the letter, and you still have to wait and be prepared for rejections.

Self-Publishing:

This is, by far, the quickest and easiest way of getting your book out to the public. You can sign up to Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon and upload your manuscript. It’s a simple process and quite quick. If you want a paperback as well, CreateSpace or Lulu are the best, and again the process is simple. You can get free or cheap ISBN numbers through both (an ISBN is not needed for e-book through Kindle, but it does limit the availability – more on that in a minute). However, you may be limited to their distribution networks only.

If you purchase your own ISBN number, you have the flexibility to place your novel in so many more sales channels for either your e-book, paperback or both, and is something I would recommend. However, if you don’t have the time to place your book on Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes & Noble et al, you may be content to go with the distribution packages offered by these print on demand companies. Your choice!

One word of caution – don’t think about putting your novel out there before getting it professionally edited. Readers will be put off by typos and inconsistencies and ultimately this could be the kiss of death for your work. The money spent on getting your novel edited will pay off in the long run when weighed up against a tarnished reputation which is unrecoverable.

I’m lucky – I have the best of both worlds! I’m self-published under the banner of an Indie Publisher, Myrddin Publishing Group. This means I own the legal rights to my book and not the publisher, but I have the support of the team behind me.

Whatever you decide to do, you will still have to be prepared to market your book yourself. This takes time and dedication and where some authors fall down – they have no idea where to start. My advice is to look around on social media platforms and see which individuals or companies offer advice on marketing to authors and learn fast. Marketing is a whole different post so I’m not going to go into that now.

*

At the end of the day, only you can decide what’s best for you and your book. I have one or two theories of my own which are yet to be put to the test, but ultimately you need to follow your dream. Good luck!

I hope you found this useful!

Mission

One of the challenges I faced when running the blog tour for the Heart Search launch was being asked to write a flash fiction Sci-Fi story for JB Lacaden’s blog. I’d never written in this genre before, but relished getting my teeth into something new. It’s good to step out of your comfort zone occasionally; it stretches you as a writer and give you the opportunity to explore your creative side in a different way. Anyway, here is the result. I hope you like it.

Mission

The ship landed in dense forest in the dead of night. They were safe in the knowledge the humans wouldn’t have been able to detect it on their antiquated radar systems or telescopes – their cloaking device and speed ensured that.

They had prepared well, studied the homo-sapiens and knew how they could blend in undetected. They pulled on their human skin suits, checking each other before exiting the craft.

Their mission was, to them, an easy one. All they had to do was obtain a particular stone and two humans carefully chosen from the millions inhabiting this tiny planet. Fortunately those they sought were in close proximity to each other, making their task that much easier. They held hands, concentrating on their first destination. A shimmering glow surrounded them and they vanished, reappearing in an alley in the middle of London just a few hundred yards from the building which was their target. They walked out onto the main street and gazed up at it.

The majestic towers and beauty of the ancient architecture were a source of amusement to the aliens; their world was so different with curved seamless buildings of white or silver, aesthetically pleasing to the eye, which glowed and glistened with light from the three suns orbiting their planet. The buildings all around them so dull in comparison; so laughable in the crude construction methods used.

“We must hurry. There is much to accomplish before their daylight begins,” the elder’s thoughts transmitted to his companion. The younger one nodded his agreement and together they closed their eyes picturing the room they needed to be in, another shimmer and they materialised in a room filled with locked cases containing crowns, coronets and tiaras which sparkled in the tiny nightlights in the ceiling. Spotting the sceptre, the younger alien smashed the case with his fist and grabbed it, a look of triumph on his face which quickly faded as a cacophony of sound assaulted their ears.

They heard footsteps approaching quickly and a jangle of keys, but the alarm made it difficult to concentrate; holding hands once more they closed their eyes and tried desperately to picture where they wanted to be next. Their attentiveness was compromised by the volume of sound around them and they pushed their powers to the limit. Just as the door opened, it worked and they disappeared right before the guard’s incredulous gaze.

Re-emerging in a quiet suburban street they breathed a sigh of relief; that was a close call and something they were totally unprepared for. They split up, one entering the home directly in front of them, the other a house further down on the opposite side of the road.

They emerged minutes later with sleeping children in their arms, one male and one female, both just pre-puberty. With victorious expressions they moved closer, closed their eyes and with the familiar shimmer vanished.

Laying the children in sleeping pods, they removed their human suits, and re-launched. They were returning home.

* * *

My first ever Sci-Fi story! It still amazes me how I respond to having a maximum word count and it sure is a great way of teaching a writer about self-editing and cutting extraneous words.