Books are timeless. Music & Movies: maybe not so much…? by Brian Paone – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Brian Paone will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Books are timeless. Music & Movies: maybe not so much…?

Books—unlike music or movies—never seem to be dated. My wife made a good point a few days ago when she said that books are truly timeless. Think about it. I grew up listening to a heavy dose of 70s prog rock bands (I still, to this day, will tell you that prog-rock is probably my favorite genre of music, followed closely behind industrial-rock). The soundtrack to my childhood, pre-teen, and high-school years was pretty much exclusively Pink Floyd, Electric Light Orchestra, Genesis, The Who, Rush, Yes, Jethro Tull, Queen, and few others. It wasn’t until recently, and I’m talking within the last few years, that those albums that I loved so much sounded … old. The production, the mastering … the style. It just felt old. This was hard for me to swallow at first. I can’t remember a time in my life where Pink Floyd’s The Wall or Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway or The Who’s Quadrophenia or Electric Light Orchestra’s Face The Music weren’t as much a part of me as wearing pants was. But for the first time, I could see the stains and the fabric being thinner at the knees. These albums might be classic, but I’m not sure anymore that they are timeless.

Film. I watched the movies Soylent Green and And Justice For All for the very first time last month. I know, I’m late to the party. And for the first time, a movie from the 70s felt … old. Maybe it’s because I didn’t see it decades ago, or grew up with it. Some other films from that era like Star Wars, Rocky, Jaws, A Clockwork Orange, and The Godfather don’t feel that old. Maybe it’s because I grew up on a steady diet of these films, so it’s hard to see them as an adult. But I can’t imagine Solyent Green is the only film to look like that. I wonder how Papillon would look if I watched it for the first time now. Again, they might classic movies … but they don’t feel timeless anymore.

Books, on the other hand, don’t ever get old. Someone could pick up Stephen King’s Carrie and read it today for the very first time, and it won’t feel like it’s from the mid-70s. Someone who watches Carrie for the first time, will have a hard time getting past the hairdos and quality of the film stock. The book is timeless. It seems that writing a book might be one of the only ways to be immortalized, never aging a single day from its release.

New bands are constantly covering older songs … we live in an age when there is a reboot or remake on almost every movie that was made between 1975 – 1995. But yet, new movies are still being made based on books that were written over a hundred years ago. Timeless. It would be interesting to see someone 200 years from now listen to Yes’ Fragile album for the first time, then watch Blade Runner for the first time, and then read Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth for the first time, and have them try to date which era each came from. I can guarantee that the book will be furthest from the correct release era.

MediaKit_BookCover_YoursTrulyJeff Blue-the victim of a time-travel conspiracy-wakes up trapped in the year 2095. The only familiar face is J0; a robotic copy of the wife he left behind in 1981. But can she be trusted?

J0 could be the only key to unlock Jeff’s journey home, but it will require her to do something against her programming-something human.

During Jeff’s perilous journey through the future, he will have to discover the truth about J0’s origins, and solve the mystery behind how he wound up in 2095, in order to uncover the reality of his own destiny.

Armed with a one-way ticket to the moon, Jeff must race against the clock to seize what might be his last chance to return home to his time. A time without hover cars, Justice Computers, or TeleSkins-a time over one hundred years ago.

Enjoy an excerpt:

J0 stepped aside and finally let me approach the table.

“Oh, no. Not Susan. Oh, God.”

Her face was turned away from the door. She was completely finished from her waist to her head, but there was nothing below her hips. It was as if someone had started building her and just stopped. There were loose wires and metal sticking out of her pelvis, giving the impression that she had been ripped in half and not in the process of being constructed.

My eyes kept returning to the dangling red and blue wires. I thought that they looked like severed veins.

“What is this place?” I screamed.

“Looks like the Man-Delay project was thriving well beyond my knowledge,” J0 said.

“It’s sick, and it’s evil. Who was trying to duplicate her?”

“Probably Junior.”

“Why isn’t she finished? All of the other Man-Delays are just hanging on the walls like marionettes. My poor little Bluebird is unfinished with only half a body. Cruel mother—”

“It’s not really her,” J0 said, grabbing my shoulder for comfort.

I collapsed into J1’s synthetic body.

“But it is. Look at her. She’s perfect from the top of her head to her waist. That’s my little girl!” I yelled, sobbing.

“No, it’s not. That is a copy. Like I am a copy of Julie. It isn’t your little girl. Your little girl is safe in heaven. This is just a pile of wires and metal. She’ll never know what it feels like to cry at the lions at the zoo or to cry when it’s time to take a nap, because she’s not your Bluebird.”

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_YoursTrulyBrian Paone was born and raised in the Salem, Massachusetts area. An award winning author, his love of writing began through the medium of short stories at the young age of twelve. After almost 20 years of consistently writing short stories for only his friends and family to read, Brian’s first full-length novel, a personal memoir about his friendship with a rock-star drug addict entitled, “Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts,” was published in 2007. Brian’s second novel, “Welcome to Parkview,” was published in 2010 and is a macabre journey through a cerebral-horror landscape. Brian’s latest novel, “Yours Truly, 2095,” was published in 2015 and follows a man who wakes up one morning, trapped in the future, to discover he’s been the victim of a time-travel conspiracy. Brian is married and has 3 children. Brian’s wife is an Officer in the US Navy. He is also a self-proclaimed roller coaster junkie, and his favorite color is burnt-orange.

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Future Winds by Kevin Laymon – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kevin will be awarding a $20 gift card to (international) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_FutureWindsSet in a science fiction setting with elements of twisted horror, Future Winds is a strange yet wondrous tale of species self preservation and the all out moral cost of survival. Forced to leave earth, humanity discovers a planet capable of supporting life and hatches an audacious plan that will warp them across the universe to settle and begin anew. There is a darkness that resides below the planet’s surface, but with no option to turn back, humanity must find a way forward.

Enjoy an excerpt:
Here we have two brothers who are being transported to their new home. They are nervous and afraid.

Ness wasn’t sure of the correct answer, so he lied. Way he saw it, he had a fifty/fifty shot of getting it right anyway. “Na, we aren’t slaves Lucas. You think Ma would have let us get on this ship if that were the case?”

The younger boy began to quietly weep. “I miss Mom,” he reminded his older brother, just as he had the day before and the day before that.

“Yea me too buddy, but we will see her soon.” Ness lied once more.

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_FutureWindsMy name is Kevin Laymon. My passions are space exploration, music, sailing, snowboarding, wildlife, and of course writing. I have been writing for some time but the focus has been primarily on short stories and dark poems strictly for personal use. Future Winds is the first of a handful of novels I am working on for publication. I grew up in upstate New York and have lived up and down the east coast. New York is a location that holds a very special place in my heart. After working a wide range of jobs that I hated for far too long, Sara my significant other, and I decided earlier in 2015 to make some dramatic changes and travel. We scraped together some cash, I quit my job, and we moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where we live a libertarian life as vegetarians. We share our desertscape living quarters with an aquatic turtle named Taz and a rabbit named BunBear. On October 9th 2015 Sara & I got married in Las Vegas, Nevada. The sunshine in New Mexico has helped immensely in illuminating a greater perspective as to who I am and what I was placed on this planet to do; that is to teach and inspire. I have a hunger to awaken humanity so that we may break away from our programed way of thinking. Our minds are powerful and I encourage everyone to open them up, exercise them, and tap into the potential I know every living man woman and child has. Though my stories at times can be very dark there is a reason for everything I do. Perspective, perception, and relativity are everything in the world of literature.

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Plotting by the Seat of Your Pants by Steve McHugh – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Steve McHugh will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Plotting by the Seat of Your Pants
If you ever ask a writer what type of plotter they are, you normally get one of two answers. They either have everything arranged and know what’s going to happen from one scene to the next, or they throw caution to the wind and see what happens. But there is a third group, the one that does a little bit of both. And that’s the group that I fall in.

I started my first published work, Crimes Against Magic, about 6 years ago. I’d just finished writing a book that will never see the light of day and decided that I needed to write something new. I only knew two things. 1. That the main character would be Nathan Garrett, a sorcerer and thief whose memories had been forcibly removed some time before the start of the book and 2. That it was going to be hard work.

I had almost zero notes for the story beyond a very basic outline and just decided to figure it out as I went. The first draft took about 6 or 7 months and was an abhorrent piece of rubbish, as were the next 2 drafts. I re-wrote the book 4 times in total until I found a story I actually liked and then I set about editing. That was another 4 or 5 drafts. I’m not sure how many it was in the end, but it was a lot and it took a very long time. In all, it took me 3 years to finish the book. After which, I decided to self-publish it and, to my great shock, it did well.

I knew that I couldn’t take 3 years to write the sequel, so in between editing Crimes Against Magic, I started plotting Born of Hatred. When I say plotting, I mean in detail I knew what was going to happen at every moment.

That whole plan lasted about 3 chapters before the book went off on a tangent and I changed a bunch of things. This happened a few times during the story and I quickly realised something. I was not a detailed plotter. Once I’d re-done the plot so that it was just the beginning and end with details about what I wanted to happen and roughly when, the story flowed a lot easier. I finished the first draft in 6 months and then the 2nd a few months later and that was it. The story was then edited, but that only took another draft or 2. It took me a lot less than a year to write book 2 and it was an even bigger success than book 1. Enough that 47North picked up both books, which were re-published last month, and book 3, which will be published next Feb.

I learned a lot from the experience of writing both books. And when it came to write book 3, I started with how I’d finished book 2. Enough details to guide me though what I wanted, but not enough to know every little detail. I know now that I like to be surprised, but still have that guideline to know where to go, even if I don’t know how I’ll get there.

I’ve just had my 5th book, Lies Ripped Open, published and I’ve finally settled into doing things in a way I find easy. There’s a structure, but with enough room for me to change things on the fly. And it works for me.

It can take time to figure out which way of plotting works best for you. Some people take books to get to a place they like, and some do it with the first thing they write. And while you can read about how other people do it, the trick is trying different ways until you get it just right for you. Once that happens, you’ll find that your story comes together much easier.

Over a hundred years have passed since a group of violent killers went on the rampage, murdering innocent victims for fun. But even back then, sorcerer Nate Garrett, aka Hellequin, knew there was more to it than simple savage pleasure—souls were being stolen.

Nate’s discovery of the souls’ use, and of those supporting the group’s plan, made him question everything he believed.

Now the group Nate thought long dead is back. Violent, angry, and hell-bent on revenge, they have Hellequin firmly in their sights. And if he won’t come willingly, they’ll take those closest to him first.

The battle begins again.

Enjoy an excerpt:

I walked over to the second agent, whose back was toward me as he stood a little further into the park, and placed my hand on his shoulder. “That’s enough,” I repeated, but he spun around and all of the breath left my body at once, followed immediately by pain as it exploded across my torso. I glanced down as a shimmering blade of ice was pulled free from my chest. It was covered in my blood. I dropped to my knees and watched as the magical weapon vanished from view. The pain forced me to abandon my night vision, and the darkness once again took control.

The overwhelming thought that bounced around my head was that neither of the SOA agents had been sorcerers. My attacker crouched beside me. “They interrupted me and my prey got away,” his accent was from East London, but sounded slightly different from many of those living in the city. As if he’d been away from here for a long time, and had not quite remembered how the accent was meant to sound.

I glanced up at him, still unable to breathe; the blade had punctured a lung. It wouldn’t kill me, but it would be a few hours until I was back to normal, and without my night vision I could have been staring into Merlin’s own face and I’d never have known.

The man got back to his feet and kicked me onto my back. “I should make sure you remember your time here, but I’m sure your comrades over there will be able to do that better than I could.”

About the Author:

Steve’s been writing from an early age, his first completed story was done in an English lesson. Unfortunately, after the teacher read it, he had to have a chat with the head of the year about the violent content and bad language. The follow up ‘One boy and his frog’ was less concerning to his teachers and got him an A.

It wasn’t for another decade that he would start work on a full-length novel that was publishable, the results of which was the action-packed Urban Fantasy, Crimes Against Magic.

Steve McHugh lives in Southampton on the south coast of England with his wife and three young daughters. When not writing or spending time with his kids, he enjoys watching movies, reading books and comics, and playing video games.

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Mayhem in the Air by Untethered Realms Authors – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

This book is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The authors will be awarding a $40 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

From Amazon bestselling and popular science fiction and fantasy authors comes Mayhem in the Air, a supernatural anthology of ten thrilling tales. Meet hot robots, hungry winds and the goddess of chaos. Explore alien planets, purgatorial realms, and a shocking place where people bury the living with their dead. Mayhem in the Air is the second, long-awaited story collection from the dynamic and inventive Untethered Realms group.

Read an exclusive excerpt from “Saving Scrooge” by Gwen Gardner:

“It is I, Ebenezer, and I’ve come with a warning.” Marley rattled his chains and lockboxes. Everybody knew spirits shook chains. He wasn’t sure exactly why. But he thought it prudent to make the haunting realistic, so he brought them tucked inside his overcoat.

Ebenezer Scrooge stood behind his chair and stared. A frown scrunched his eyebrows together, and he squinted, to peer more closely. Then he said, “What’s that on your head?”

Marley reached up and felt his head, immediately realizing what Scrooge had noticed. Drat it all! He yanked the icepack off that he’d tied to his head earlier, as if Ebenezer might unsee it if he did it quickly enough. He mentally abused himself, calling himself all manner of epithetic names. Why hadn’t those numbskull helpers reminded him to remove it? His usual hangover remedies hadn’t worked, but the ice had alleviated his aching head a bit. Dash it all! He may have just ruined his whole plan.

He hid the item behind his back and improvised. “It’s awfully hot where I am, Ebenezer, which you will soon find.” And to change the subject, he added, “And what’s that on your head? A nightcap, Eb? That is so 1854.”

A flush crept up Ebeneezer’s neck. He reached up self-consciously and tugged the cap over his ears. “It keeps my head warm. And what do you mean, I’ll soon find out?”

“Come now,” said Marley, pacing and dragging his chains for effect. Clank, clank, clank accompanied each labored step. “This is me, remember? I know all your secrets. Aye, we share quite a few, don’t we?”

Heat rose up Scrooge’s cheeks in indignation. “I’ve done nothing illegal. All my business transactions are contracted and followed to the letter.”

“Technically, yes. Legally, yes. But morally?” Marley shook his head. Clank, step, clank, step.

About the Authors:

River Fairchild is somewhat odd, brandishes a dry sense of humor, owned by several cats. Lives in a fantasy world. A fabricator of magic. Makes stuff up and spins tales about it. Believes in Faerie crossings and never staying in one place for very long. Speculative Fiction wordsmith. The secret to her stories? Spread lies, blend in truths, add a pinch of snark and a dash of tears. Escape into her world. She left the porch light on so you can find your way down the rabbit hole. For more information, please visit her website at

Gwen Gardner is a native Californian living in sunny San Diego, where her love of reading and writing led to a BA in English literature. Life is now complete with her husband, two dogs and a daily call from her daughter. Since ghosts feature prominently in her young adult Indigo Eady Paranormal “Cozy” Mystery series, she has a secret desire to meet one face to face—but will run screaming for the hills if she ever does. Gwen adores travel and experiencing the cultures and foods of different countries. She is always up for an adventure and anything involving chocolate—not necessarily in that order. For more information, please visit her website at

Misha Gerrick lives in the scenic Western Cape, South Africa, where she’s currently working on some more books. Her Epic Fantasy Series, The War of Six Crowns, is out now. For more information on what she’s writing and reading, visit her website at

Graeme Ing engineers original fantasy worlds, both YA and adult, but hang around, and you’ll likely read tales of romance, sci-fi, paranormal, cyberpunk, steampunk or any blend of the above. Born in England in 1965, Graeme moved to San Diego, California in 1996 and lives there still. His career as a software engineer and development manager spans thirty years, mostly in the computer games industry. He is also an armchair mountaineer, astronomer, mapmaker, pilot and general geek. He and his wife, Tamara, share their house with more cats than he can count. Please visit his website at

Fantasy, science fiction, and the weird beckon to M. Pax, and she blames Oregon, a source of endless inspiration. She docents at Pine Mountain Observatory in the summers, and one of her cats has a crush on Mr. Spock. You can find out more by visiting her website

Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood but make her a great Jeopardy player. She has one novel and several novellas and short stories published. Her paranormal romance series, The 13th Floor, has been met with rave reviews. Her newest geeky romances were released by Ellora’s Cave early 2015. Please visit her website at

Cherie Reich has more books than she can ever read and more ideas than she can ever write, but that doesn’t stop this bookworm from trying, even if it means trying to curb her TV addiction. She is a speculative fiction writer and library assistant living in Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and her books include the paranormal horror collection Once upon a Nightmare and the fantasy series The Foxwick Chronicles and The Fate Challenges. Reborn is her debut novel. She is a member of the Virginia Writers Club, Valley Writers, and Untethered Realms. For more information, please visit her website at

Catherine Stine’s fiction spans the range from contemporary to dark fantasy to sci-fi. Her futuristic companion thrillers Fireseed One and Ruby’s Fire are Amazon bestsellers and indie award-winners. Dorianna, her YA paranormal won Best Horror Novel in the Kindle Hub Awards. Her work is included in the boxed sets Future Tense and Secret Worlds as well as in the Untethered Realms anthologies Twisted Earths, Mayhem in the Air and Fantasy Uprising. In addition, Catherine writes new adult fiction as Kitsy Clare. She suspects her love of dark fantasy came from her father reading Edgar Allen Poe to her when she was a child. She teaches creative writing workshops and is a member of SFWA, RWA and SCBWI. Visit her at

Untethered Realms Website:

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How to Handle Negative Criticism by KJ Taylor – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. KJ will be awarding an eCopy of Broken Prophecy to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

How to handle negative criticism

Authors and critics have had a difficult relationship since time immemorial. The trouble with art is that it is subjective – one man’s masterpiece is another’s disposable pulp. Nobody is immune from criticism, and in the end every artist does best to accept it as a part of the business.

With that said, there are ways of dealing with it. Some authors refuse to read reviews altogether. Others do read them, but generally decline to comment. Some do comment, but are careful to be civil about it. And some track down their critics and hit them over the head with a wine bottle in a Walmart carpark, though that was probably a one-off.

The important thing to keep in mind here is that there is a difference between a well thought-out, reasoned negative review and someone who is just being a jerk. Being nasty about other people’s books is a lot of fun, unfortunately, and since there are people out there who will applaud you for doing it you can easily fall into the trap of being a hyper-critical douchebag with nothing nice or constructive to say.

With the former type of negative feedback, an author can read it and learn about their shortcomings and therefore see how they can improve with future books. With the latter, the author will come away with nothing but hurt feelings – anger, depression, and resentment. This is most likely the goal of that kind of critic, who has no interest in helping authors to improve and doesn’t really expect them to read their criticism anyway.

Unfortunately, without actually reading a review it’s generally impossible to know which kind it is beforehand. And, having read the nastier kind, it’s very hard to stop yourself from blowing up at the critic, which Anne Rice notoriously did at least once. If you do that, then the critic “wins” and you make yourself look whiny and childish. When Anne Rice threw a public tantrum on, she was universally laughed at. That’s not a mistake you want to make.

Therefore my advice is that you should only read reviews when you have enough confidence in your abilities not to take personal offense. When I was first starting out (ten years ago, I should add!), any sort of negative feedback left me feeling crushed. These days I rarely read reviews, and when I do I’m able to accept them. If the feedback is negative, then I can say “well that’s his opinion”, or “okay, that’s a fair point”. But it takes a while to get to that point, unless you’re a naturally confident person to begin with of course. Very few authors are, unfortunately.

So if you’re just starting out, keep your distance. If you insist upon reading bad reviews anyway, resist the temptation to have any sort of public reaction. If you must complain, complain to your friends or your cat. The public admires authors who display a calm and mature attitude toward their critics (J.K.Rowling is a fine example), so do your best to maintain that even if you don’t feel calm or mature. It’s all part of the business in the end.

A fun adventure that satirises fantasy tropes in the style of Terry Pratchett.

Ambit Afterman is the Chosen One. Born with the mark of the silver bellflower on his palm and given a magical spear, he is the one whose coming the prophecy foretold.

Unfortunately, he would much rather drink beer and get laid – destiny can go fuck itself.

Together with his demon friend Snarl, Ambit sets out on a mighty quest – to make sure the prophecy doesn’t come true, and avoid doing anything heroic under any circumstances. Along the way he will make polite conversation with demons, not deliver any great speeches, not train with the wise monks, and weasel his way out of adventure and into the nearest pub. But there may just be time to have cheap sex with the beautiful princess along the way.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Luckily the stretch of demon country didn’t go too much further. Ambit kept following the river, and by evening he could see green up ahead. Grass started to peek through the stone, and after a while the land gradually flowed back into trees and plants, all of them festooned with flowers. There was some fruit as well, and Ambit picked a good meal’s worth of it and sat down under a tree to eat.

As for Snarl, several times along the way through demon country she had stopped to dig in crevices and other places, and had made a meal of the rocks she dug up. At one point she had even found a rough diamond, which she picked up with a rasp of triumph and carried with her for the rest of the walk – resting it between the spikes on her back.

‘Saving it for a special occasion?’ Ambit asked her now, watching her put it down and caress it with her claws.

Snarl looked up at him, her red eyes shining. ‘Something this fine you have to savour, otherwise it’s not special.’

Ambit dug in his pack for a roll of leather strips, and started to restrap the spear, carefully covering it from the butt to just behind the point. ‘You’re right about that,’ he said. ‘I’m still saving that bit of cheese I picked up in Fessifern. It’s probably even mouldier now than it was then.’

‘Disgusting,’ said Snarl.

‘You’re right. I’ll have to toast it if it’s too far gone,’ said Ambit. He finished covering the spear, and then put it aside while he dug out his map. It had been drawn on another roll of leather, and thanks to spending so much time in his pack it looked even older than it was. He untied the string holding it together, and a pungent odour wafted out, making Snarl cringe.

Ambit sniffed cautiously, and peeled the last curl of leather apart. Something green and furry fell out onto the grass, and he picked it up. ‘Wow, I was right.’

Snarl watched him buff the lump of cheese on his shirt. ‘You used the map for that?’

‘It’s waterproof, isn’t it?’ said Ambit. ‘Now, let’s see where we’re at.’ He pinned the map down with his free hand and inspected it, absent-mindedly biting into the cheese.

Snarl came over to look. ‘Which river are we by?’

‘That one,’ said Ambit, pointing to a spot which had been handily marked out for them by a greasy cheese stain. ‘We’re here at the edge of this bit of demon country – map shows we just left this area around one of the Nine Mountains – in Seberry, and the river should take us right into the valley where those monks live. Let me see if I can work it out.’ He worked his way around the map, using his finger to measure distances, and then nodded. ‘If we keep up the pace, we should get to the monastery around lunchtime tomorrow.’

‘Finally,’ said Snarl.

‘Maybe you can eat your diamond there, make a celebration of it,’ said Ambit.

‘Only if it’s good news,’ said Snarl.

‘It’d better be after all this,’ said Ambit. He rolled the map up and put it away, stifling a yawn. ‘But first we get to do my third favourite thing and get some sleep.’

‘We’re just going to make camp here?’ asked Snarl.

Ambit lay back against the tree. ‘It’s too far to the nearest village, and knowing my luck there’ll be another old coot going on about chosen ones. I’ll take the chance of getting rained on over that any day.’

‘And I won’t have to hide,’ said Snarl. She looked skyward. ‘It had better not rain.’

‘Yeah, here’s hoping,’ Ambit said sleepily.

Snarl left him where he was and waddled over to the next tree along. She wandered back and forth for a while, growling and muttering to herself, until she found a good spot and started to dig. The dirt steamed as she shovelled it aside with her claws, and in very little time she had disappeared underground. A while later she came into view again, squatting just inside her burrow and peering out for any sign of trouble.

Ambit, meanwhile, stayed comfortably stretched out on the grass with the spear still in his hand. Every now and then he opened one eye partway, but eventually he gave that up and went to sleep.

About the Author:

K.J. Taylor was born in Australia in 1986 and attended Radford College and the University of Canberra, where she returned to obtain a Master of Information Studies in 2012. She currently works as an archivist.

She published her first work, The Land of Bad Fantasy, through Scholastic when she was just 18, and HarperVoyager went on to publish The Dark Griffin in Australia and New Zealand five years later. The Griffin’s Flight and The Griffin’s War followed in the same year, and were released in America and Canada in 2011. The Shadow’s Heir, The Shadowed Throne and The Shadow’s Heart have now joined them in both Australia and the US.


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Turing Evolved by David Kitson – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. David will be awarding an eCopy of Turing Evolved to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_TuringEvolvedWhen Ex-DEMON pilot Jon Carlson meets beautiful humanitarian Rachel, it’s a match made in HEAVEN. Literally, because Rachel’s an ANGEL. She’s also an AI controlled android of immense power and capability. As Jon finds himself drawn into the world of these enigmatic creations of mankind, he unknowingly becomes involved in a program to create autonomous superweapons intended to fight the next war.

Enjoy an excerpt:

I was certain that everyone on the base hated me. I’m surprised they tolerated me long enough to deliver me somewhere else. The pilot made his feelings clear when he ignored me during the pre-flight as though I wasn’t sitting in the cargo area.

Persona non grata. Isn’t that what they call it?

Their feelings towards me extended far beyond the razor-wire and chain-link fence that separated the base from the town. My actions had brought scrutiny to the district, affecting many of the locals who worked there, too.

As I left the hangar to walk out to the transport, I turned to take one last look at the quarters. A pickup truck was parked just outside the base. Three civilians sat in the back while one leaned against the side with a bat sitting next to him. It didn’t amount to much of a threat, but it explained why the base commander didn’t want me making my own way out of here. I guess he figured I’d caused enough trouble already.

I thought the airfield would have been as deserted as the hangar, but as I rounded the corner it was hard to miss the row of demons. The entire mobile-armour squadron, bar one, lined up in formation along the path to the transport. It might have been a show of strength, demonstrating I had no power to stop them. It might have been some form of ritualised acceptance of my leaving, recognising the choice I had made to go quietly.

Except that they mostly had their backs to me. That was where the true message lay.

Only one stood out of formation, standing at the end of the line like a steel sentinel, facing me as I approached. It watched as I made that final walk to the Fatpan transport. It was cleaner than I remember. Unit 372. It used to be mine. Then it, too, turned its back on me as I walked past, just to make sure I knew exactly how they all felt. The pilot who replaced me had taken everything. My demon, my career, even Susan. It was as though replacing me wasn’t enough — they wanted to erase me altogether from their memory.

There were no lights turned on in the cargo area of the Fatpan. All the crew positions in the forward cabin were filled. They had left the transport controller seat down, so I knew where I was expected to ride.

So there I sat in the darkness of the cargo hold for three hours, struggling to breathe. These transports don’t usually fly too high, but the lack of oxygen told me they had managed to climb much higher than they should have. The hold wasn’t pressurised and there were no oxygen masks or feed lines here.

It wasn’t enough to kill me or make me lose consciousness yet, but it was enough to make this last trip very uncomfortable. The bitter cold of altitude had no difficulty finding ways through my uniform. It had never been designed to keep such low temperatures out, and my skin was numb at its presence. The lack of air I could tolerate. I was trained to withstand uncomfortable positions for extended periods, but the coldness seemed to drag this final trip out and reflected the loneliness I felt.

I pulled my jacket closer around me and tried to find some comfort through meditation, but only the words that ended my career echoed through its silence.

‘Jonathan Carlson, it is the finding of this tribunal that you acted lawfully. However, your obvious contempt for the chain of command cannot be ignored.’

I tried to stifle the anger that surfaced as I thought about what they had said, but it kept me from focusing on what I needed to do. I still believe I wasn’t the one in the wrong. They tried me in a court martial and found nothing to convict me of, but not for lack of trying. Demoted to lieutenant and asked to leave. There’s no justice in that. But after what had happened, I was glad to be leaving. At least that’s what I kept telling myself.

Closing my eyes, I concentrated on breathing. I intended to survive this and rebuild my life somewhere else. I’d done what I had to and I could live with that, but for now I was tired — more tired than I ever recall being. I just wanted to sleep and let the past slip away into the darkness.

About the Author: David Kitson has worked in corporate and government environments as a security analyst and technical network architect, as well as a print and TV journalist focusing on video games and technology news. His love of science stems back to a childhood spent climbing trees and building rocket launchers. He lives in Western Australia with his wife and four children.


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Brave Men Die by Dan Adams – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Dan will be awarding an eCopy of Brave Men Die to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_BraveMenDiePart one of an exciting epic fantasy series written by a new voice in Australian fantasy.

Castor and Pollux Fallon are members of the Buckthorne military, and have been since their mother handed the unruly little bastards into the care of the Baron after their father’s death.

When the Kyzantine Empire attacks the Murukan outposts in the Callisto Mountains the brothers answer the call to war. Behind the front-line battle scenes are brutal assassinations, political backstabbing and the re-emergence of a dark power long thought eradicated from the land. the conflict escalates, all the while forcing each brother to make another difficult decision between sacrifice and duty until the day that the toll is unbearable … and there is only one type of sacrifice left.

In the vein of Mark Lawrence and Peter V Brett, this is an exciting new name in medieval epic fantasy.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Sweat dripped down Derrick’s face. Perspiration clung to his body, the humid conditions in the tunnel mercilessly sapping the energy from him. He could feel the exhaustion weighting his limbs. His opponents did not look perturbed. Their faces were calm, concentrated. Even with their heavy armour, they didn’t look discomforted, no flush in their cheeks. The Prince lunged forward, almost stumbling as he overextended but still managed a glancing blow to one of their thighs.

Each strike now was countered in double unison, two blades creating an effective barrier. Through his gasping he could hear his men cheering in the background. It spurred him on. Faster now he attacked, pressing whatever advantage he could get.

Then without warning the Seraphim stopped defending and stepped up their offensive. The two blades rained down blow after blow, relentlessly pressing the Prince back step by step. His sabre deflected the heavier blades, his body dodged the killing blows. For all his efforts, maintaining his defence under such an inexorable attack was beginning to take its toll. He stepped back and forced his head backwards to avoid a strike to his neck. He wobbled slightly before stumbling backwards into his accompanying guard. Hands steadied him and propped him back firmly on his feet.

His breathing now rasping and painful, the Prince stared at his opponents. They paused in their attack, their stillness a silent menace as they regarded him impassively, their blades poised in front of their torsos. Their armour was of archaic design, full plate with an insignia he didn’t recognise. Their shaved heads glinted and dark eyes glowed under heavy brows.

Edrazil stepped back and with an abrupt hand movement indicated to Devilin to continue alone. Devilin shifted his stance gracefully, centring himself in the tunnel, flexed his muscles, and drove forward. The Prince reacted instinctively, pushing forward to meet the devastating blows. The force behind each strike jarred his arm as his sabre merely glanced the blade away. The burning ferocity in the attacker’s eyes unnerved the Prince as much as the effortless precision of his strikes. Increasingly desperate, the Prince dodged from side to side, up and down. There was little room for him to move and very little he could do.

In a last ditch effort the Prince drove forward as the blade thrust toward him, plunging his sabre into Devilin’s arm. The Seraphim retreated two steps bringing his wounded arm to his side. As the Prince stepped in for the kill, Devilin reached around for his dagger, stepped to the side avoiding the deathblow, and plunged the shorter blade into the Prince’s chest.

Derrick stumbled back, his sabre clattering to the floor as he clutched at his chest. Blood seeped from the wound, covering his hands with the sticky red fluid. He finally fell, mouth open, blood dribbling from the corner of his lips. As his body slumped to the ground, the guards behind him found their courage and surged forth to avenge Derrick’s death. Three abreast they came at the two Seraphim. Edrazil stepped forward, swinging his blade high across the chests of those in the front row, clanging their swords away. Devilin lunged at the closest soldier and drove his sword into the chest. He brought his foot up, planted it below the blade and kicked the body away.

Chaos reigned in the cramped conditions as soldiers scrambled over the dead and dying bodies of their comrades and the Seraphim drove home the advantage. Devilin struck out, cleaving a head from a torso. Swords clattered against the tunnel walls as they battered to fruitless avail. The Kyzantines failed to wound in close combat, while the two warriors savagely shed their blood with ruthless efficiency. Within moments the carnage was over — the Kyzantines all lay dead, blood pooling around the mass of bodies.

With cool deliberation, Devilin and Edrazil stooped to clean their blades, only raising their heads at the sound of Avernus approaching through the tunnel. His hood was down revealing a small gash on his forehead and dried blood on his chin, his eyes gleaming in the flickering light.

Devilin raised an eyebrow at the sight. Avernus merely responded with a dismissive shrug and patted a pouch at his waist.

A satisfied smile briefly touched Avernus’ lips as he studied the sight of the dead Prince with the Murukan dagger protruding from his chest. Turning on his heel he strode back along the tunnel with the two warriors in tow, Devilin trying to stem the flow of blood coming from his arm. The Seraphim left silently and swiftly, leaving the Tarkinholms to the mess, melding into the confused and chaotic throng to disappear into the night.

The body of the Prince lay solemnly still, his eyes staring into the darkness after the retreating intruders, the deadly knife still embedded in his chest.

About the Author:Dan Adams is a Sydney-based writer. When he’s not penning kick ass war stories, he’s working on his guns – the arm variety, rather than the weapons featured so prominently in his books. He loves slushies and always finds himself climbing too many stairs on Wednesdays. Follow him on Twitter at @DanAdamsWriter

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Pet Peeves about Fantasy Writing by KJ Taylor – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. KJ will be awarding an eCopy of Wind to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Pet Peeves

I’m a very opinionated person, and tend to get a bit steamed up over certain topics – this one included. But I thought I would pick it anyway because at least I’ll have plenty to say.

I tend to be very critical toward a lot of fantasy writing, and I may as well say so openly because it’s not exactly a secret among the people who know me. In fact people I’ve spoken to at cons find it pretty amusing when I go off on a rant about a lousy book I’ve read, or a stupid mistake I’m sick of seeing.

One thing that annoys me in a lot of books is failed attempts at grandiose or archaic language – especially when it’s blindingly obvious that the author is trying (and failing) to sound like Tolkien (it doesn’t help that I dislike Tolkien to begin with). Using “ever” instead of “always” is guaranteed to put my teeth on edge every time. Using fancy words in general that don’t fit and aren’t necessary is very aggravating to me; I once encountered a particularly overblown example in the form of a book in which the author could never say “shiny” – it had to be “opalescent”. And a thing could never be red – no, it always had to be “ruby”. This sort of thing leads to painful purple prose very quickly indeed, and is just plain distracting to read.

The thing is, archaic language and fancy words can be used, but not everyone has the talent needed to pull it off. Tolkein, gods bless him, had the skill to make archaic prose and dialect work. H.P.Lovecraft wrote incredibly purple prose but somehow managed to make it work.

But you, mid-level fantasy author, are not Tolkein or Lovecraft and you don’t live in the same age as they did. Use the words that work for you, and write in your own voice. Trying to make yourself sound like someone else is not going to work, and it’s going to make your prose clunky. And it will probably make you look like you’re trying too hard.

Lest I come across as arrogant here, I consider myself to be a mid-level fantasy author and I take this approach myself. In the foreword of one of my own books I said that I took my inspiration from George R R Martin, and some people took this to mean that I was an conceited twerp with the stones to suggest she was on his level. My answer to that is absolutely not – he inspired me but I have no interest in trying to write like him, and nor do I believe I have anywhere near his level of skill. The world already has one GRRM, and it doesn’t need another one. Likewise it only has one K.J.Taylor, and intent to write like K.J.Taylor – no-one else.

MediaKit_BookCover_WindWendland is a land of dragons, and of magic. The mysterious Drachengott grants magic to his worshippers – but is he truly a god? Rutger von Gothendorf is only a simple furrier, but he has become his village’s local eccentric, thanks to his obsession with the murder of his brother by the Drachengott’s servants. He holds onto the vague hope that he will one day have the chance to fight back against them – until one day a mysterious and beautiful woman named Swanhild comes into his life. Rutger is instantly smitten – but Swanhild knows more than she says, and a web of lies and deceit threatens to sour the love beginning to grow between them.

And all the while, the Drachengott waits …

Enjoy an excerpt:

The wind whistled through the darkness, shaking the branches all about and putting a chill into the air. It carried a scent with it, straight to Rutger’s nose. He took it in and immediately tensed.

‘Did you smell that, Horst?’ he hissed, snatching his older brother by the arm.

Horst shook him off. ‘Not now, Rut — we’re in enough trouble without worrying about funny smells.’

‘But it smells like rotting meat!’ Rutger insisted. He paused, ignoring Horst’s impatient look, and breathed in deeply. The smell hit him again — worse, this time. He retched slightly. ‘Can’t you smell it?’

Horst, big and muscular, turned his head in the gloom and sniffed. A moment later, he grimaced. ‘You’re right: something’s dead out there. Come on, let’s move on before we find out what.’

He strode off, Rutger hurrying after him. ‘You don’t think it’s spiders, do you?’

‘Could be,’ Horst said shortly. ‘Keep your eyes open.’

Rutger swallowed and put a hand on the hilt of the long dagger looped through his belt. He had never seen a giant spider before, and he wanted to keep it that way. Silently, he wished he had never asked to come out here into the forest with Horst. But it had all seemed so harmless — just a quick stroll through the forest to check Horst’s mink traps. But then they hadn’t been able to find the last trap, and now they were lost.

I really am the unlucky seventh son, he thought glumly.

If Horst was as worried as his brother, he didn’t show it. He walked slightly ahead, dead mink swinging from his belt. A big old woodaxe hung on his back, brought along for protection. Night was falling now, and the sooner they got out of here the better.

The forest all around was dense and looked threatening, its spiky pine needles sighing in the relentless wind. Night always seemed to come early here. But at least the putrid smell had gone away.

‘How close do you think we are now?’ Rutger asked in a low voice.

Horst shook his head. ‘Not sure — I think there’s a clearing up ahead, though.’

Rutger came to his brother’s side, and the two of them climbed a small rise into the clearing. The instant Rutger left the shelter of the trees, it hit him again: the hideous stench of rotting meat slamming into his nose, so powerfully that his eyes watered. Beside him, Horst had stopped. Rutger heard him swear softly. He looked up, intending to tell his brother that they should go — and then he saw it.

Ahead, in the clearing, a faint light began to glow. It shone on the dark, lumpy shapes which hung from the trees at the far side. Some could have been animal corpses, but the rest . . .

Horst wrenched the axe down off his back. ‘Get behind me, Rut,’ he said sharply. ‘Get out of here. Now.’

‘What—?’ Rutger started to say — but too late.

As the light brightened, two of the hanging shapes dropped to the ground and stepped forward. They wore rough leather tunics with hoods which covered their heads, but on each of their chests was a pair of red gemstones, set into an amulet. They glowed faintly in the light, making a halo over each of the two men, like a pair of glowering eyes.

‘Jüngen!’ Rutger heard himself say.

One of the pair pointed accusingly at them. ‘How dare you enter this sacred grove?’

Horst started to back away, axe raised.

The two Jüngen joined hands, and the light around them intensified as their linked hands rose. An instant later, a great flash blinded Rutger. He cried out as he fell back, but his voice was drowned out by a screeching roar from above.

A pitch-black dragon was hovering over the Jüngen’s heads, its eyes glowing red. Light crackled over its wings, and it roared again.

The Jüngen let go of each other, and the second of the two spoke to the dragon. His words were a short, cold command.

‘Kill them.’

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_WindK.J.Taylor was born in Australia in 1986 and plans to stay alive for as long as possible. She went to Radford College and achieved a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications at the University of Canberra, where she is currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Information Studies.

She published her first work, The Land of Bad Fantasy through Scholastic when she was just 18, and went on to publish The Dark Griffin in Australia and New Zealand five years later. The Griffin’s Flight and The Griffin’s War followed in the same year, and were released in America and Canada in 2011. At the moment, she is working on the third set of books in the series, while publishing the second.

K.J.Taylor’s real first name is Katie, but not many people know what the J stands for. She collects movie soundtracks and keeps pet rats, and isn’t quite as angst-ridden as her books might suggest.


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Tips for Writing Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic Books by Michelle Browne – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Michelle Browne will be awarding an autographed paperback copy of After the Garden to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Hello hello!

A lot of people want to write a book, and dystopian or post-apocalyptic books are very popular right now. First of all, though, they’re not the same thing; second, these subgenres require quite a bit more research than people think. But where do you even start?


  1. Don’t show all your work Writing is not like a math problem. It’s not necessary to detail every word of the research you’ve done for your readers. Sure, it helps to write it up for yourself, and maybe even vent that hunger to make exposition with some blog posts. But don’t interrupt action for, say, a big old block of explanatory text. It’s annoying and rarely as important as it seems. Cut that stuff in editing!
  2. Keep notes so you don’t lose track of plot details or worldbuilding rules Continuity is important, and if your book is fast-paced or has a large plot, it’s easy to lose track of something. In my case, there are a couple of parallel plots and a VERY large cast of characters. Without notes and a spreadsheet, I would have died.
  3. Know your strengths and weaknesses If you’re awesome at character development and bad at worldbuilding, study up on things like currencies, politics, and demographics to figure out how the world would shape your characters. In a way, you can work backwards from the characters to build the world. If you struggle with good, three-dimensional characters with layers, talk to people and watch shows and read books that depict complex characters. Figure out how the environment the characters live in, and their life circumstances, would shape them.
  4. People in a post-apocalyptic book or dystopian book may be living in a different society It’s important to remember that young adults and adults will have grown up with a different reality. Pop culture references won’t disappear, but will reference the culture of the world instead. And make no mistake; in many cases, that culture will develop, no matter what. The pressures and strains will be different, too.
  5. It’s okay to write multiple drafts The biggest thing I’ve learned over my writing career is that it’s okay to not get everything perfect in the first go-round. A lot of authors strive for perfection in the first draft, especially new authors, and that’s not quite fair to said authors themselves. The key is to keep trying and keep working, and not beat oneself up if a character gets stubborn and the plot goes nuclear. After all, there’s always time to rewrite things.Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Leave your comments, rebuttals, and vehement agreements below. Don’t miss any of the phuquerie–get on the mailing list. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out!

10_19 BookCover_AfterTheGardenMemories of another life and lover guide her, but are they even hers? She is a Bearer—keeper of past lifetimes and gifted with strange talents. Ember must find her answers away from safe Longquan Village, snared instead in the sensuality and dangers of The City. Hidden among spider farmers and slaves, prostitutes and weavers, a nest of people like her are waiting.

A powerful man outside The City raises his forces, determined to hunt down the ‘demons’ who could taint his followers. Threatened from without and within, can the Bearers even trust each other?

Powers will rise and alliances will be forged in a dark new world. The Memory Bearers are coming.

This book includes violent and mature content. Reader discretion is advised.

Enjoy an excerpt:

She was looking in a mirror, marvelling at her powdered face. You can’t even tell, she thought admiringly. She picked up a bottle of perfume and sprayed some on her wrist. She dropped it, and there was a heavy sound, a clunking noise, as the bottle connected with the tile. Not plastic, but thick glass.

Hearing the crash, he appeared from behind the bathroom door. “Are you all right, honey?” he said, resting a hand on her shoulder.

“Oh yes, I’m fine,” she said, nuzzling him.

“You look exquisite. I can’t believe you spend most of your time in a lab coat when you look like this.”

“Believe it,” she said. He twisted her around suddenly and kissed her.

“How much time do we have before dinner?” he asked.

“Enough.” She took him by the hand. “Come with me.”

The memory slid away to another part of her mind. She considered telling—no, wait, who could she tell? Their names eluded her. She winced, frustrated. She’d already forgotten her family’s names. That was part of the deal, she told herself; she’d known what she was in for. Paranoid, she wondered if she would forget her own name next. It wouldn’t be that bad, though; and after all, she knew she would remember someday. When the time was right, the lock would open again, and she’d have the things she was giving up back. And though they were frustrating and mildly debilitating, she still had the fragments. That annoyed her, but it was a comfort.

Philosophy was the path of madness, she decided, shoving the bottle in her satchel. In the meantime, she had other things to do—she had to see if there was anything of value left in this house and get out of here as quickly as possible. Something unpleasant had happened here after The Time Before had come to an end, a small disaster after the fact, and she was eager to leave.

About the Author:  10_19 AuthorPhoto_AfterTheGardenMichelle Browne is a sci fi/fantasy writer from Calgary, AB. She has a cat and a partner-in-crime. Her days revolve around freelance editing, jewelry, phuquerie, and nightmares. She is currently working on the next books in her series, other people’s manuscripts, and drinking as much tea as humanly possible. 

She is all over the internet, far too often for anyone’s sanity, and can be found in various places.









Other books by Michelle Browne:

The Underlighters

(Book 1 of The Nightmare Cycle)


The Loved, The Lost, The Dreaming

(Includes The Underlighters and many other short stories)

The Stolen: Two Short Stories

(Book 2 of The Meaning Wars)

And the Stars Will Sing

(Book 1 of The Meaning Wars)



Cult Classics for the Modern Cult

Frost and Other Short Stories

Coming soon:

The Meaning Wars

(Book 3 of The Meaning Wars)

Monsters and Fools

(Book 2 of The Nightmare Cycle)

Within the Tempest

(Book 2 of The Memory Bearers Saga)


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Taming the Muse – The Art and Science of Creative Inspiration by Rory B. Mackay – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Rory B. Mackay will be awarding signed copies of both his novels, Eladria and The Key of Alanar, (International Giveaway) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Taming the Muse – The Art and Science of Creative Inspiration
by Rory B Mackay

I’m in love with creativity. I’ve been creative from a young age and find the act of bringing thoughts, ideas and stories to life to be one of the downright coolest things in the universe! Growing up I was forever writing, drawing and compiling comic books featuring my own characters—usually with a somewhat quirky, comedic edge. Looking back at my youthful output I was uncharacteristically sardonic for my age. But although my style gradually changed, my love of creating never diminished in the years that followed.

The idea for my latest novel, The Key of Alanar, dates back a great many years. I was still in high school when inspiration struck, and although I can’t remember what ignited that particular spark, it was strong enough to create a fire that has burned brightly throughout the two decades that followed.

Some creative ideas don’t have much force or power behind them. Like fleeting thoughts, they quickly pass through the mind. We might take note of them, but generally they don’t have sticking power. Some creative ideas, however, come exploding into our mind—and it’s impossible to ignore them. They someone root themselves deep in our consciousness and refuse to go until we’ve committed to fulfilling them; to taking those ideas and sparks of inspiration and bringing them to concrete, tangible life. These ideas don’t just want to be born and clothed in words—they demand it.

I believe there are two components to creative inspiration: the mundane and the magical. Given my romantic and borderline hippie tendencies, I tend to relate most to the latter, but both are worthy of consideration.

Environment plays a huge effect in shaping our development not only as human beings, socially, psychologically, emotionally and intellectually, but also creatively as artists and writers. Our culture inevitably plays a huge role in shaping our work, and so does the work of other writers and creators. The basics of storytelling were already laid out for us, having been in place for countless centuries, along with an increasing diversification of different genres, each with their own sets of norms, predilections and ‘rules’.

On a ‘mundane’ level, it’s impossible for any author to claim that their work hasn’t been inspired on some level, whether consciously or unconsciously, by numerous other authors. I’m certainly aware that my work has been influenced by so many things I’ve been exposed to over the years: from my favorite books, to films, television shows and even nonfiction works I’ve read. Nothing exists in isolation and creativity basically feeds on itself. It has been said there are no new ideas out there, only different combinations of elements in perpetual motion like a great kaleidoscope of creativity.

I tend to find myself reflecting more on the magical, mystical side of creative inspiration. Where do ideas really come from? Indeed, where does anything actually come from? Thoughts just appear in our minds, rising up like clouds from the sea of consciousness, passing by and dissolving into nothingness or into other cloud-like thoughts. If you stop to examine it, most of the time it’s not even really us doing the thinking; the thinking is just doing itself. So too with creative ideas. In my experience, ideas and inspiration tend to appear out of nowhere. Certainly, I can try brainstorming and actively chasing inspiration, and sometimes that can be fruitful. But the best ideas just seem to arise when my mind is in a fairly quiet and receptive state. Many creative people claim that their best ideas and greatest breakthroughs come to them when their mind is on other things; perhaps when they’re driving or in the shower.

I’ve found that the muse is most generous when I’m in the right state of mind. I have to be feeling fairly relaxed, my mind might be focused, but there’s no tension or grasping. It’s an almost zen-like state of being intensely alert but relaxed and without any straining or stress. I can usually get a feel for when an idea is about to come through. I know now that my best bet is to simply get myself into a peaceful, focused state, grab a pen and paper and be receptive to whatever ideas start to flow. That’s how I came up with the plots for all of my novels. It was almost like watching a movie unfolding in my head. I simply watched what images and ideas came to mind, and wrote them down. It’s an exhilarating feeling when creative ideas arise like this, with such spontaneity and ease. It truly is a feeling of being in the zone!

Of course, that is only the beginning. After the fun part, the free flow of ideas and inspiration, comes the grueling slog of sitting down and actually writing! Writing can often be a great test of endurance and commitment. It’s a labor-intensive job without a doubt, and often quite a lonely one, too. But it’s also one of the most rewarding things imaginable, to take that initial seed of an idea, and stick with it, allowing it to germinate, grow and flourish into something remarkable!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00050]Lasandria. An ancient, advanced civilization, consigned to oblivion by the greed and power lust of its own people. The coming apocalypse heralds a new evil that will ravage the world of Alanar for an entire age. Yet on the eve of Lasandria’s destruction, the ethereal overseers of the mortal realm grant a dispensation—a promise of hope for the future.

That hope lies with an orphaned teenager named David, born some ten millennia later; a boy whose isolated and uncertain existence leads him on a journey upon which hinges the fate of not just his world, but countless others.

On the run from a brutal military force, David’s quest is one born of shattered dreams and tainted by the thirst for revenge. As an inter-dimensional war that has been waged since the beginning of time threatens to consume his world, the dark force that destroyed Lasandria lurks in the shadows, ready to take possession of the one thing that will either save Alanar or destroy it — David.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Prologue: The End
Year of Atania, 4999

It took only seconds for an entire civilization to perish.

Ardonis watched as the shockwave tore through the city in every direction. The golden metropolis was laid to waste with devastating ease: the buildings collapsing into smoldering ash, scattered by the wind; the crowd of thousands incinerated in the blink of an eye.

Fire and cinders spiraled from the rubble as a rising cloud of smoke devoured every last trace of daylight. The only illumination came from the object of the city’s destruction—the gateway. Towering above the ruins, its metal pillars stood miraculously unscathed, at the centre of which the pulsating whirlpool of blue-violet light continued raining down sparks of electrical charge.

His city was gone, but Ardonis knew that the worst was yet to come. He watched with a sense of dread as an object emerged through the portal: an airship puncturing the thin membrane between universes, shooting into the sky above the rubble. Closely followed by another, and then another, the black metallic craft soared over the ruins like carrion birds in search of prey.

A stream of ground troops followed; wraithlike reptilian creatures with gnarled, distorted faces, armed with rifles and blades. The metal-clad soldiers marched through the gateway, spilling into the dead city like an infestation.

Ardonis knew it was no coincidence these demonic creatures had arrived in the aftermath of such carnage. He watched them feed off the destruction around them; ingesting it as though death itself was a vital nourishment. He could sense their hunger. Finally freed after eons of captivity, they were ravenous and would not stop until their hunger was satisfied.

It wasn’t just Ardonis’s beloved city that had fallen. His entire world had now been thrust into an unending age of terror.

Alanar was dead.

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_TheKeyOfAlanarA natural born writer, thinker and dreamer, Rory Mackay was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1979. Since then he has lived most of his life in the North East of Scotland, a place he finds scenic and inspiring, if a tad cold. With a lifelong passion for creative writing and art, Rory knew from a young age that he had stories to tell and adventures to share. As he grew up and became interested in philosophy and metaphysics, he came to realize the potential of literature and art as a means of sharing ideas, posing questions and exploring the nature of reality in a way that is accessible yet compelling and challenging.

Rory is also an animal and nature lover, music junkie, social and environmental activist, cake enthusiast and generally rather chilled out guy. He sells his art online and writes blogs on creativity, writing, philosophy, spirituality and whatever else inspires him. He has written his own commentary on the classic Chinese text, the Tao Te Ching and is planning a self-help book as well as a new series of fantasy books called The Dreamlight Fugitives.

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