Wednesday, 14 October 2015
Sunday, 4 October 2015
What readers are already saying....
"I was hooked by the narrative voice, which is an enjoyable and often humorous pressence.""This absorbing story is creepy enough to make you fear for the protagonist, and has enough twists to keep you reading."
"'The Winged Turban' had my skin crawling.""Brilliantly Atmospheric"
An excerpt to give you a small taste...
Beatrice found a suitable place for the portrait where she could easily lie in bed and see her, but could also flip to the other side and forget she existed. In the small hours of the night, she wavered between fear and fascination. Not that she entertained the slightest belief in the supernatural. No, the artist had simply copied some portrait he glimpsed in a gallery, or even one of his rival’s creations. What did concern her was the sitter’s identity. Clearly she was somebody, or had been, in some drawing room in decades’ past. What concerned her even more were the eyes. They never turned away from her. Why had the painter depicted them in this way, not looking just to the left or right, but directly, boldly, at the viewer? At her?
She turned over and willed herself to sleep. Beatrice had long since become accustomed to the sounds of the estate. What at first kept her awake became almost soothing, or at least predictable in its rhythmic convulsions. Tonight, however, the estate was silent. Nothing moved or spoke. Servants seemed entirely absent from the hallways. Thoughts raced in her head, daring her to turn around and look at it again, just to make sure. To make sure of what? That it was still there? Of course it’s still there, she told herself. Where else would it go? Paintings exist for the pleasure of their owners. They only have what life, what meaning, we give them. The poor woman, whoever she was, is dead and buried; no painter, not even Signor Fabrizio, could restore her to life.
At some point these thoughts merged into dreams. Most of them involved sitting for a portrait, though in the latest one she was completely alone. The painter had vanished. For whatever reason, she remained standing, terrified to move a muscle. Yes, something was watching, inspecting her with the eye of a connoisseur. Days passed as did the hope that someone would relieve her. At length she realized, I’m not waiting to be painted, I am the painting—I’m in it now, being stared at. I’ll never leave. She screamed but nothing came out, the cries silent behind her smile. Cold, wet terror swept over her as her limbs refused to move, her eyes to blink, her mouth to open. Her last thought before waking was can a painting die? Or must it live on, a work of untroubled beauty, forever?
Her heart beat so loudly she wanted to stuff it under her pillow before it woke the servants. Sweat ran down her forehead as she stared through the darkness. Stars gleamed out the window. Just a dream—too much excitement. What did she expect? Months of total isolation before the artist’s arrival…she naturally projected her fears and desires onto the painting. In a sense, she had created it. As she slowly came to, details of the room fell into place: the end table, the curtains, a chair in the corner. Now all she had to do was look at it. Once I see it, I’ll know and understand. Then I can go back to sleep. She blinked and squinted, waiting for the vision to appear. Didn’t I hang it over the end table, in perfect line of sight with the bed? That seemed right, though in her scrambled state she couldn’t be sure. Her eyes scanned the wall for the familiar outline which never emerged.
She slowly crawled over the bed for a candle. Opening the tinder box, she laboriously—clumsily—conjured a spark and ignited the wick. A small blue flame shot up, but gradually subsided into a duller yellow. The Duchess raised it toward the wall, the feeble light groping over object after object. Finally she reached the spot where she knew the painting would be. She could see it in her mind, remember hanging it on that very spot. It wasn’t there. Her mouth went dry at the prospect before her. It must have fallen. She lowered the light toward the floor, inch by inch, terrified to do it too quickly. Clawing through the night, the candle revealed her clogs, overturned just as she kicked them off...a scrap of paper, possibly from her cousin’s latest letter...and nothing else.
She screamed until a parade of servants appeared at her door, half-dressed and wide-eyed with terror. Without words she gesticulated to the wall but couldn’t bear to look at it again. A young servant ran from the room in tears. Another, older woman, knelt to the Beatrice’s side and took her hand.
“Bad dreams, my lady, it’s nothing to fear,” she whispered.
“The painting!” she finally gasped. “Where is it?”
“Why, it’s right where you left it, don’t you remember?”
“Remember!” she shrieked. “Of course I do, I hung it there—right on the wall! It’s gone!”
“My lady…we saw you come down hours ago. You moved it.”
“I….moved it?” she said, barely breathing.
“Yes, you swept through the hallway carrying the painting,” the servant nodded, feigning a smile. “Didn’t say a word to any of us…and hung it right in the Great Hall.”
Beatrice shook her head violently from side to side. She did not—she had not! She had never left the bed. Surely she would have remembered getting up in utter darkness and hanging a portrait! That portrait!
“Naturally we wondered at your doing it at so late an hour,” the servant continued, soothingly. “But it’s not our business to question, and you did seem so determined. All the great ladies have their whims and fancies, and though we lower folk struggle to understand them, it usually makes sense in the end. Now come, a little rest…”
Beatrice shot up and ran past them, down the hallway, down the stairs and literally flung herself into the Great Hall. And there it was: hung in the very position of her husband’s great ancestor, staring down at her with knowing, intimate eyes. For the first time, however, she saw something else inside them. A threat. I’ve come to take my place in the house.
From the Author...
I was born in Mineola, NY, but actually grew up as a Southerner in Atlanta, GA and Tulsa, OK. I've spent all of my adult life writing, and used this passion for writing--and reading, as the two are inextricably related in my mind--to fuel myself through three degrees, getting my Ph.D. in British Literature in 2006. I've been a professor of English at a small university in Oklahoma ever since, teaching many of the books I grew up loving, as well as many I've discovered along the way. I've written at least 6 novels, most of them since finishing grad school, though only three are currently (self) published on Amazon: The Count of the Living Death, The Astrologer's Portrait, and most recently, The Winged Turban.
Friday, 14 August 2015
Today I welcome fellow Rave Reviews Book Club member, S.M Spencer as part of her blog tour for her young adult fantasy series set in my own homeland, Australia.
Absent Shadows Blog Tour
Q & A - SM Spencer, author of the Absent Shadows Trilogy:
What was it that made you decide to become a writer?
I think the desire to be a writer started in my teens. I read a lot and would often get caught up in the characters, living their stories long after I’d finished the books. I had a great deal of respect for authors that could do that, and I wanted to be like them.
What authors inspired you when you were younger as well as now?
Daphne du Maurier, Mary Stewart, J.R.R. Tolkien and Ray Bradbury were among my favourite authors when I was young, and now I tend to go through various genre moods. I devoured the Harry Potter books and The Chronicles of Narnia (didn’t everyone?) but also enjoy finding an author with a continuing series, like Patricia Cornwell, John Lescroart and Janet Evanovich. I particularly enjoy a good mystery/thriller with a romantic element.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of fellow indie authors, from the Rave Reviews Book Club (RRBC) the indieBRAG Medallion site, and Awesome Indies just to mention a few of the sources. There are some incredibly talented authors out there that don’t get a lot of publicity and it’s such a pleasure to stumble upon them.
What inspired you to write the Absent Shadows Trilogy?
I was working around the corner from Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Markets, up near the Flagstaff Gardens. Walking around at lunchtime, I started sensing that I was smack dab in the middle of the perfect setting for ghosts and vampires—and the story just developed from there.
Of course, the late night ghost tours I’d done in the area, where I’d learned the history of the cemetery under the market’s carpark and about ghost sightings all throughout the area, really helped. And like many, I was caught up in the resurgence in popularity of vampires.
Will we see these characters again?
I believe so—the continuing story is bubbling away in my mind, and when it’s ready, it’ll surface. I’m just waiting for the next generation to grow up a bit!
You grew up in California and now live in Australia. Do you feel this helped with writing the story?
I think everyone’s writing is influenced to some extent by where they were brought up, and where they currently live. In the Absent Shadows trilogy, I was able to give Lili the experience that I’d had. She travelled to a new country and felt desperate to fit in, not wanting to look or sound like a tourist.
I think enjoying the benefit of having lived in both the US and Australia certainly added credibility to Lili’s story. All the places she went to both in California and Australia were places I’d been to myself (with the exception of a few completely fictional locations).
Were any of the characters taken from real life?
Aspects of the characters were inspired by people I’ve known, but none were taken from any one person in particular.
What other genres are you writing in?
I’m currently writing a contemporary/rural romance and also science fiction/thriller.
If you could trade places with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
Crystal. I loved writing her. She is caring, and beautiful, and gentle and all things feminine. But at the same time, she is strong and powerful, and not to be messed with. She is Aphrodite and Athena wrapped up in one awesome little package.
What is it about vampires that made you decide to use them as your main “creature"?
Mostly, I think it’s a bit of that beauty and the beast thing—seeing through the horrible exterior to the goodness that dwells deep inside. You have this hero who is handsome and charming, but also deadly, dark and powerful. And the heroine sees all sides of him and falls in love with him anyway.
Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?
I love where I am right now. It’s taken me a lot of years to get here, and I’m savoring the ability to progress my journey toward becoming a better writer. I hope to continue with my writing, as well as encouraging and supporting other indie authors.
What are three things that might surprise your readers to find out about you?
Growing up, my favourite TV shows were Dark Shadows, The Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. I loved all things paranormal, and one side of me truly regrets not doing a degree in parapsychology.
My favourite food, and the one I’d chose if I could only have one for the rest of my life—tortilla chips (or as we say here in Australia, corn chips)! And a bit of salsa on the side, please.
My favourite sound—a kitten purring. There is, quite simply, nothing better. Well, perhaps there is one better sound … the soft uttering of the words ‘thank you’. And I’d like to say them to you for providing this wonderful opportunity for me to connect with you and your followers.
Where can readers find you and buy your trilogy?
Only on Amazon: Amazon.com
They can also follow me on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/SMSpencer.writer for advice about upcoming promotions as well as updates on the books I’m currently working on.
Wednesday, 5 August 2015
Celebrate 500 & 5000
Fantasy Sci-Fi Network fellow author and friend, Elieen Schuh has just begun a special draw on her blog Magic of the Muses. It is in honour of reaching 5000 twitter followers and 500 facebook likes. She is offering two lucky winners a pick of her novels in eBook or paperback format.
I have also added my name to the list and have offered one lucky reader in Canada or USA a paperbook copy of Titanian Chronicles - Journey of Destiny Book 1 (Book 2 out in September 2015)
Tuesday, 9 June 2015
The new release pool has not completely dried up though and Author M.P McVey is a shinning example of this. His debut book hit the shelves (digital and otherwise) in February and is well worth a looking. Combining science fiction and fantasy elements, McVey takes the reader deep into the Earth's centre to reveal an elephant on an endless march; slowly, slowly turning the world.
"McVey not only presents us with a fabulous tale, but he makes us question the nature of stories themselves."
"Very good read! Hard to put down."
It would have driven any man crazy, this racket that crept through the darkness, but it was comforting to the one who had to listen. It was a noise he had always known, a sound that was born with him. He was the reason for the noise.
For all time he had walked his circle; his large, gray feet beating a pattern into the dirt. Round and round he went, his weight pushing the large, wooden wheel to which he was bound. He groaned from time to time … long, soulful bellows from his wrinkled trunk.
His ancient head swayed with the thudding beat of his steps, his long immortal ears hanging tiredly at his sides. He would walk until the end of time. He didn’t want to, but he was compelled to. It was his purpose … and without purpose, what would be left?
So he walked.
He could feel their eyes upon him, those that watched him, those that kept him in this existence … those who gave him purpose. Their stares penetrated the thick hide of his neck, burrowed into his spine and peeked in to his brain, listening in on his every thought. That’s how they watched him, how they knew when he was unhappy.
They were in his mind every second of forever, and he came to expect their presence there. After a while he lost track of his Watchers all together, as if they were just another part of him. Life would not have been the same without them.
The Watchers always knew that, sooner or later, the great elephant called Temelephas would work through whatever unhappiness it was that settled in his large heart. After all, he had been walking since the beginning of everything and knew of nothing to which he could compare his sorrow.
Walk, walk, walk, through the darkness he would stomp; his feet pounding his life into the earth. Around he went, his sweaty, tangled hair fl owing down around his neck. “Round and round she goes, where she stops … nobody knows.”
The main idea for 'Plod On, Sleepless Giant' came to me in a dream. In the dream, I was walking through dark caverns, hearing the far off thundering of heavy footsteps. In my mind I knew I was in the middle of the earth.
Though the noise scared me, curiosity drove me closer and closer to the noise. And there, in the center of the earth, I found an ancient elephant chained to a wheel. He was so huge and old, he seemed to have been chiseled out of a large block of granite, his skin was so craggy.
I knew that he was why the earth turned ... No one had to tell me, it was just inherent knowledge at that point. Then he stopped his walk, and the groaning of his wooden wheel ceased ... Then the earth around us quaked and grumbled, and I knew the world had stopped.
I immediately wrote the idea down, just the main idea. I had to be quick about it, because the idea was becoming more and more vague in my mind ... Like a shadowy figure running to the back of my brain.
M.P. McVey was born Michael Patrick McVey in Fort Hood, Texas. Being a military family, the McVeys bounced around a lot, even doing a three year stint in Germany. He now lives in Columbus, Ohio with his supportive and patient girlfriend, Laura. They have a one-eyed cat named Stanley and an ornery kitten called Gandalf, the mostly gray. He creates worlds filled with magic and intrigue, drawing upon the city and people that surround him for inspiration. All that he accomplishes in his life is due to the support he finds from friends, and family.
Tuesday, 21 April 2015
A Short Story Companion to the Flawed SeriesToday is the release for Constricted, a brand new short story related to Becca J. Campbell’s Flawed series. This story coincides with the events in Empath (Flawed #1), and takes place in Logan's point of view. You'll need to read Empath first to thoroughly enjoy this story.
If you haven't already, download a free copy of Empath (links below). Read on to find out more about Constricted.
Constricted (A Flawed Short Story)
It would be the easiest thing in the world to leave and let Jade be a whisper in his past. He can exit now and regain his anonymity, or he can risk everything to stay and face her again.
It’s not an easy choice, and when he’s about to decide, a woman from his past shows up, making his decision even more difficult.
What really happened when Logan disappeared during Empath? Find out in this short story companion piece to Flawed #1.
Get Empath for Free
Jade grew up in a suburb of Colorado Springs, protected from other people by her parents. Now she faces college—and the world—with nothing to shield her from unwanted feelings.
When Cam, a classmate with a major crush on her, unintentionally hijacks her emotions, Jade struggles to keep from being carried away in feelings of attraction. When Ethan, a psychopath with a thirst for fear, fixates on her, the emotional impact could be lethal.
Caught in a deadly trap, Jade must untangle the emotions and find a way to use her empathic curse to overcome this killer or be overcome by him.
More About Becca J. Campbell
She's always looking for a great speculative fiction read, and she holds a special place in her heart for any story that involves superpowers or time travel. Her passion is defying the limits of her own creativity.
Becca is also the co-creator of JuNoWriMo.com, where you can join a vibrant community and write a novel during June.
To join Becca’s writing journey and be notified when her next book is released, sign up for her author newsletter.
Friday, 10 April 2015
because there is a certain magic in books... a power to open your mind up to different times and different places... sometimes even different worlds or planets or spaces.
Books can transport you from your every day menial activities, from the humdrum of normal life to something unexpected, divergent and satisfying.
Stories can teach, inspire and empower... or they can give comfort, security and refuge.
You can be anything you ever dreamed... but unlike a dream you are likely to remember it. If you don't, even better... read it afresh and enjoy it all over again.
Saturday, 4 April 2015
"An interesting combination of really creepy 'bad guys' and good guys..."
"...because the action in Raymond's novel is so fast paced and the characters so engrossing, I found myself totally immersed in the world that Raymond has created.""This was a well written sci-fi novel that left no loose ends. The story was original and plausible."
How does a world equipped with bows, arrows and catapults, where steam power is just beginning to replace horses and sailing ships, avert a conquest from beyond the stars? Prince Regilius has been engineered to combat the Dalthin, a predatory alien species that enslaves worlds telepathically, and to do so he must unite his people. But when his mother murders his father, the land descends into chaos and his task may prove impossible. Faced with slaying the one who gave him life in order to protect his world, he seeks a better way. Set in a vast and varied land where telepaths and those with unusual mental abilities tip the course of events, Awakening goes to the heart of family, friendship and betrayal.