Category: Guest Post


Guest Post Hank Quense

Hey all, I’ve got a guest post for you today from Hank Quense, author of the Zaftan Troubles series of sci-fi/fantasy novels. Today, he’s provided us a totally non-fictional interview courtesy of Margaret Hammerhead and the Faux News Network. Enjoy!

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Faux News Network Interviews Author Hank Quense

 

My name is Marcia Hammerhead and I’m the literary reporter for FNN.  Once again, my boss insists that I interview a scribbler of fantasy and science fiction stories. My boss KNOWS that I prefer epic poetry and literary works and that I despise genre fiction.  But, here I am about to interview Hank Quense who has penned yet another novel despite the lack of success of his previous works and his apparent lack of talent.  Mr Quense, tell us what trash you are about to unleash on the unsuspecting reading public.

Hank Quense: Hi Martha. Thank you for the warm welcome.

MH: It’s Marcia, not Martha.

HQ: My new series, Zaftan Troubles, consists of seven ebooks and describes what happens when an alien explorer ship discovers Gundarland, a world populated by humans and fantasy creatures.  The zaftans are a vicious race who believe treachery and assassination are social skills.

MH: Good heavens!  You mixed science fiction and fantasy together?  Have you no shame?

HQ:  The two genres work well together.

MH: What’s the point of writing such a mishmash?  Are you indecisive to the point you can’t chose a single genre?

HQ: The point is entertainment and satire.  And the mixing of genres was a conscious decision, Margaret.

MH: Martha, not Margaret. Tell us about the characters?

HQ: In the first four books, the main characters are MacDrakin, a dwarf miner and Leslie Higginbottom, a constable.  The two have a budding relationship that is torn apart about the appearance of the aliens and their explorer robots.  The government orders Higginbottom to protect the robots while MacDrakin declares war against the robots and the aliens.

The next three books occur many years later when the Gundies (as they’re called) confront the zaftans in outer space.  The two main characters are Sam, an android with an organic brain and Klatze, a young zaftan naval officer who is determined to succeed using her ability rather than murder.

MH: What!  How can you write this nonsense?  Do you do drugs?  Booze? it is not possible to come up with this stuff without using some sort of stimulants.

HQ: Sorry, Marcia. I don’t do that stuff.  My stories come from unstimulated brain.

MH: This has to be some sort of anti-genius.  It should be declared illegal.  I suppose the novel uses the obsolete technique called plots?

HQ: It sure does.  The series has a number of plots and subplots.

MH: Did it ever occur to you to write stories about normal, human people, the kind of stories that comprise true literature.

HQ: Nope.  Sounds too boring.

MH: You said this series has seven ebooks in it.  I hope that’s the end of it.  I shudder to think that still another of your books will test our sanity.

HQ: Right now, Martha, Im working on books 8 through 10 for the Zaftan Troubles.

MH: It’s Marcia, not Martha. The very thought of you continuing this rubbish is giving me a headache.  I can’t stand any more of this genre trash.

HQ: Thanks for the great interview, Martha.  Good-bye.

MH: It’s Marcia.  Roll the wrap-up music.  I need a drink.  Where’s my bottle of merlot?

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Author bio: Hank Quense writes humorous and satiric scifi and fantasy stories. He also writes about fiction writing and self-publishing. He has published 18 books and 50 short stories along with a few dozen articles. He often lectures on fiction writing and publishing and has a series of guides covering the basics on each subject.
He and his wife, Pat, usually vacation in another galaxy or parallel universe. They also time travel occasionally when Hank is searching for new story ideas. To learn more, visit http://strangeworldspublishing.com/wp/.
Hank recently published Books 1 and 2 of his 7-part satirical fantasy series, the Zaftan Troubles, about an advanced alien species who steal resources from other worlds for profit. They’re available on Amazon:
Book 1: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F8352QC/  and https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F883MW9  and the rest of the series is scheduled to publish later this year.
You can see the video trailer here: https://youtu.be/NHMJ_XRzrtI
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Survive Blog Tour

Hey all, the house keeping post is going to be a bit postponed this week. Today, I’m happy to host my stop on the Survive blog tour and with it a guest post from the author, Stephen Llewelyn. He’s going to talk about one of his protagonists here, so I’ll give him the board. Enjoy!

Survive

Hi Lauren,

Thank you for your interest in my book.

Five things about Tim

There are three main protagonists in ‘Survive’, Captain James Douglas, Commander Jill Baines and Tim Norris.

I have chosen to write about Tim as he is a complete outsider; he is young, has no power or reputation but soon finds himself in a position of trust and importance well beyond his years.

Love of natural history and dinosaurs

Rather obvious this one. Tim and I share a wide-eyed wonder of how everything works, so from that perspective at least, I see some of myself in Tim.

Resilience

Starting at the beginning, Tim Norris is a sixteen year old school leaver. Orphaned at the age of two, he was fortunate enough to be adopted by a young couple, Drs Ted and Patricia Norris, both low earning scientists. Tim’s adoptive father was a metallurgist with a fascination for the history of life on Earth. He shared this passion closely with Tim for the next ten, fairly happy years. Unfortunately, Tim then lost the only father he had ever known to an industrial accident at the age of twelve. This heartbreaking disaster made the world a much darker and lonelier place for Tim and Patricia and because of it he becomes at once closer to his mother and more introverted. Eventually, Patricia, through hard work and dedication, wins a placement on the Mars Mission. Tim follows her career avidly, so that he can share fully in the life of the only person he has left. He encourages her to take the position, so that they can leave all the pain and overcrowding behind to be part of something vital and exciting. They leave Earth full of hope, but a terrorist attack directs their hopeful future into a terrifying past. During the journey back to Earth, Tim has a long heart to heart conversation with another teenager onboard named Rose. He explains how the loss of his parents and later, his adoptive father, have affected him. From this it is clear to see how and why someone so young could become pessimistic. However, Tim is not ruled by pessimism. Despite being poor and, it has to be said, unlucky with most of his parents, he knows he is blessed with his adoptive mum. Furthermore, it may well be a catastrophe which sends the USS New World back in time, but Tim wouldn’t have it any other way…

Intelligence and awkwardness

Tim has exceptional amounts of both, although new friends help him to slowly overcome the latter with varying levels of success. His brilliant mind becomes a resource aboard the New World as Tim spearheads a ‘Cretaceous Living’ educational programme to help people to adapt to their new reality. It is, of course, all too easy to build a protagonist who is brilliant at everything; Tim on the other hand, is not physically impressive or cool in any way. In fact, he is fairly hopeless in some respects, social awkwardness to name but one. Girls send him into a blushing panic and throughout the book he has to learn how to have friends because it’s all new to him. As for romance, I believe that any man who reads the appropriate passage within the book will be reminded of the first time he ever put his arm around a girl and, depending on how well it went, will either smile ruefully at the memory or put his head in a bucket! Tim’s lack of confidence is probably not helped by his new best friend, Woodsey; who has far too much. Aside from being accused of speaking like a textbook – textbooks being his only friends up to this point – Tim also has the misfortune of being spotted by Woodsey on both occasions where he realises that he likes a girl and just maybe one might like him too.

Courage

Tim’s poor start may have made him a little pessimistic and lacking in confidence but when it really matters he is most certainly no coward. Just speaking out in a room full of adults and very senior staff takes enormous courage for this young man. Tim had made a career out of being unnoticeable at school, and he finds it hard to push himself still. However, it just so happens that with the new reality the crew are thrown into, Tim’s knowledge and even opinions become very important to everyone. Although he feels and is very junior, when the ship is in peril just before the New World attempts to land on the old world, the very old world, Tim refuses to hide away from the action. He will not be separated from his mum, although who is looking after whom becomes a little blurry.

Humility

What has always been a hobby, albeit a passionate one, for Tim is now serious currency aboard the USS New World. As the only person with the slightest inkling about what the crew will face when/if they manage to land safely, Tim very quickly comes to the notice of the senior staff. Suddenly he is included in meetings and decision making processes beyond anything he could have dreamed of. Even his young contemporaries are genuinely interested in what he knows and keep up a constant barrage of questions, banter and playful insults. This new ‘rock stardom’ could easily turn a young lad’s head, but Tim has known so much loss in his young life that he remains grounded and enjoys his new standing with surprising humility and gratitude. However, he is a teenager and so with a little help from his new friends, he still manages to find trouble. For years it was just Tim and Patricia and they have a close and touching relationship; as with his adoptive father, she is the only mother he has ever known. This places her in an ideal position throughout the book to berate him for getting into trouble with Woodsey and to destroy his teenage world by attempting to proudly hold his hand when he tries to speak up in a meeting!

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Author Information

Originally from Dudley in the West Midlands, Stephen Llewelyn works in construction.  Years spent digging into the foundations of ancient buildings, steeped in a vivid sense of the past, inspired his research into palaeontology and, in turn, shaped his inventive science fiction trilogy.  Llewelyn lives with his wife and their four dogs in the mountains of Snowdonia, North Wales.  The cover design for Survive features a line drawing of a Giganotosaurus skull by Hannah Armstrong, a young artist who died in tragic circumstances; Llewelyn plans to donate a percentage of royalties from the sale of Survive to the charity, MIND, in Hannah’s memory.

Website: http://www.stephenllewelyn.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stephen.llewelyn.142

Hey all, I’ve got something awesome for you today thanks to Patrick Canning. This is the first chapter of his novel Cryptofauna. I’ve got most of the chapter under a cut for space, but this one is a lot of fun, so enjoy!

Cryptofauna cover

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St. Militrude’s

Jim grabbed a can of root beer for his suicide. He wasn’t particularly big on sassafras or licorice, but drink choices were limited. The tap water at St. Militrude’s Home for the Insane and Elderly was notorious for its eggy flavor. Mellow Yellow was tasty, but the potassium citrate was known to have undesirable drug interactions. Coke was the obvious front runner, except one of the residents had recently thrown every last can of it off the roof in protest of an earlier bed time.

 The conciliatory can of root beer jostled with the rest of the supplies on Jim’s janitorial cart as he pushed it down St. Mili’s labyrinth of hallways, mercifully quiet during the small hours. A jacket was the next item on the grisly scavenger hunt, because nobody wanted to die cold.

Perhaps surprising to some, a bleak occupation in a bleak setting wasn’t the catalyst behind Jim’s decision to end his life. He wasn’t bitter or depressed; he wasn’t heartbroken or mad at the government. Jim had simply made the classic mistake of thinking about it all too much. He’d always been of the suspicion that if one gave it too much thought, it being the why of it all, those thoughts would inevitably lead to suicide, or at least an absence of reasons not to do it. He’d gone in search of meaning and come up short, and this was pro-level stuff he was contemplating. The defeated janitor would’ve done well to stick to simpler, less fatal issues like why the bee makes honey or why yellow traffic lights were curiously but definitely getting shorter.

Jim trudged into the depths of the coatroom, battling a standoffish daddy long legs for nearly a minute before emerging with his white winter parka. He laid the poofy-bag-ofmarshmallows jacket atop the root beer, and pushed his cart to the last stop: the pharmacy.

Because of his plentiful experience with cleaning up other people’s messes and an affinity for his boss, Nurse Gail, Jim had elected to go by pill overdose. It was clean, quiet, and showed respect for the party that was to discover the body.

With an extensive roster of patients in desperate need of daily medication, St. Mili’s pharmacy was a Mecca of dozens of drugs that, when taken in excess, resulted in reliable death. Jim unlocked the mother of all medicine cabinets, perused its dizzying supply of amber bottles, and plucked the relatively obscure and verbally intimidating dikatharide olanzapine. Conventionally used to combat the dreaded tag team of paranoia and psychosis, the drug didn’t cause nausea (again, he really wanted this to be an easy clean up) and with its high levels of liver-busting haloperidol, a successful overdose was all but guaranteed.

Jim parked the supply cart in front of his bedroom door, sandwiched between the king-of ambient-noise boiler room and a storage closet that no one used because a) the door was jammed, and b) it smelled like a wet dog chewing black licorice.

Inside his bedroom at last, Jim locked the door and set the lamp on dim, considering. He sat cross-legged in the center bouquet of his flower-patterned rug, donned his marshmallow jacket, and opened his forced compromise can of root beer. The angry sound of freed carbonation joined a faint rendition of “O Canada” from a dementia-plagued geriatric on the floor above.

Making what he assumed would be his last choice, Jim decided to put liquid in before pills as opposed to the other way around (a traditionally benign but of course hotly-debated topic among the unpredictably opinionated residents of St. Mili’s). He sipped some root beer, and lifted the pills to their manufacturer-unapproved destiny. It was at this moment, in a statistically improbable stroke of luck, that the knob of Jim’s locked door quivered.
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Guest Post: A.M.Bochnack

As mentioned earlier in the week, I’ve got a guest post for you all today from A. M. Bochnack. She’ll be talking about what lead her to writing Fortitude Rising. I rather enjoyed reading this and I hope you do as well. Enjoy!

The Lifeline of Writing

For me, writing is a vital lifeline. Without it, I would not survive. Without it, I would not exist. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was a little girl. Long before I ever had a clue how to formulate a sentence or structure a book, I was imagining far off worlds and amazing characters that would show up at my doorstep any minute and save me from my reality.

By the time I hit middle school, I was writing poems and short stories. I wrote a new poem almost weekly, practicing my rhyming and letting my emotions lead me through each stanza. I made up new characters all the time and imagined where I would take them and what magical abilities they would possess.

And then something unspeakable happened. I listened to an adult. By this point, I was in high school and it was time to think about college. I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up and, of course, I said an author. The same adult laughed at me and told me I had to reconsider. Aspiring authors were rarely successful, they said, and I would most likely starve for the rest of my life. I was devastated, and heart broken. Writing was all I ever thought about. I didn’t have anything else and I didn’t want to do anything else with my life.

Struggling for an answer to adulthood and college, my favorite teacher told me I excelled at science and encouraged me to pursue a career in science instead. So, I put away my pen and paper and headed down a new path.

For over twenty years I didn’t write a creative word. Nothing. Not a single story or poem. Instead I was a scientist and I told myself repeatedly that I did not have a creative bone in my body. Nope, it was all facts backed by data in my new life.

This held me over for a while. I was content working hard, making a name for myself in my field. I equally love science and the pursuit for knowledge. It was (or is, I should say) a great fit for me. But every time I finished reading a book, my days of dreaming up characters would seep to the surface of my mind and I would think about writing again. These characters nagged at me, forced me to think about them and create worlds for them to live in. I would make random notes to myself in the form of journal entries but that was the limit. I wasn’t creative, I couldn’t write. I was a scientist.

The more the characters nagged at me, the less content I was with my life and career. I tried to ignore them, but they were persistent. It took me several years before I finally decided to act on it. In early 2015, I bought a few books on how to structure a novel and my life began again. The thing is, nothing in life is easy. No career choice will result in an instant success. I didn’t wake up one day a successful scientist, I had to work at for over ten years before I achieved the level of success I was looking for. Some choices may take longer than others to achieve the same level of success as another, but success is always possible if you’re willing to do the work required.

I sometimes let myself wander down the dangerous path of what if’s. What if I never listened to that adult and I pursued writing instead of science? What if I had a degree in English literature instead of environmental sciences? What if… what if… what if… Would I have been a successful author a decade ago? These are dangerous questions that will never do me any good, so I must let it go.

The beautiful thing about life is, it’s never too late to try something new. As long as we’re breathing, we should be trying! I published my first novel, Fortitude Rising, earlier this year at the age of forty-three. Twenty years later than I planned on when I was a little girl. I could focus on the fact that it took me so long to do it, but I’m not. What’s important is that I finally allowed myself to be true to me and I did it!

If you too have been dreaming up characters and thinking you want to write a novel or short story, my advice to you is to stop thinking and start doing. I’m still a scientist, but I’m also a published author and it feels amazing! Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And there’s a lot to be gained by following your dreams.

 

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Author Bio:

A.M. Bochnak is a dreamer. With her head in the clouds or her eyes turned to the stars, she spends countless hours imagining new adventures and far off worlds for which to travel. When she isn’t dreaming, she writes science fiction and fantasy with her focus on epic fantasies, apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. Fortitude Rising, a sci-fi dystopian fantasy, is her first published novel. She is an American author, born and raised in southern Ohio and now lives in Gainesville, Florida. www.ambochnak.com

 

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Debut Novel: Fortitude Rising, Volume One of the Magical Bond Series

Ebony Hunter has spent her entire life isolated on an island institution run by her father, Dr. Daniel Hunter. When Connor Vance and his group of outsiders are brought to the institution, they cause her to question everything her father has ever told her about the world. But who’s telling her the truth? Her father or the outsiders?

Just when she starts to open up to Connor Vance, he admits that he and his companions are on a mission to kill her and her life-long friends. Connor’s mission to kill her is halted when he realizes Ebony is a pawn, albeit a powerful pawn, in her father’s game. They must join forces and work together if they ever hope to escape the clutches of the true enemy, Dr. Hunter and Vivian Way, a political reformist.

To find the truth, and hopefully earn her freedom, Ebony must overcome her fears and embrace her magical powers. Her life depends on the trust of people she hardly knows as the battle for control of her powerful magic escalates between her and her father.

Through her journey of self-discovery, she finds friendship, love, and a strength she never knew she possessed. Everyone around her is taking sides in the struggle for power, and the lives of everyone she cares about are on the line as the tension rises in this sci-fi dystopian fantasy. Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DCF1XCP

Guest Post: D. S. Smith

Alright, I’ve mentioned this blog tour before, but today’s the day my post goes live. This one’s about the inspiration behind Unparalleled. Enjoy!

Unparalleled coverThe inspiration for writing Unparalleled came to me during a visit to the zoo. I had been toying with the idea of writing a science fiction novel after reading other works in this genre. I was especially impressed by Michael Crichton’s novel, Timeline. In this story, a group of scientists are sent back in time to medieval France.

 

I loved the way Crichton crafted this story, using a combination science and technology with history and malevolence to create a gripping tale of conflict and wonder. As I strolled around the zoo, head buzzing with ideas for a tale of my own, I came across the tiger enclosure. A group of people gathered at the fence watching a keeper throw meat to one of the animals. The tiger did not seem interested in the scraps being thrown, but it did seem very interested in the source of food.

 

I marveled at the fact that the keeper and the tiger were only separated by a chain fence and a moat circling the enclosure. I imagined the carnage that would take place if the fence were to suddenly disappear, or what would happen if someone was dragged from the past, like a character from Timeline, materializing at the other side of the fence, face to face with one of these magnificent yet lethal beasts. The idea for a story started to take form and that night I wrote the prologue for Unparalleled.

 

Unfortunately, life got in the way of writing and the first few hand written pages of what was to become my first published novel were shoved into a shoebox and stored in the loft.

 

Ten years past before the creative juices started to flow again and the story progressed beyond the prologue. I had just finished reading ‘The Time Travelers Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger. I enjoyed the way she used science fiction to create a love story with a modern day twist of Shakespearian conflict. I decided to use a similar method, not so much to create a love story but to try to place every day characters with real emotions into extraordinary situations. Situations that make them question everything they have ever understood about their existence and the world they live in.

 

Unparalleled is as much about the human condition as it is about the science fiction. It turned out to be a very different story to the one I thought of all those years ago. The whole novel stems from the original prologue which gained its own momentum as one idea lead to another. I hope the pace of the novel keeps the reader interested while the underlying plot, based on real science, leaves them wondering, what if…….

DSSmith Author pic

You can find Unparalleled here or here.

Hey all, sorry for going radio silent again. Odd week. It’s Friday the 13th and I figured what better time to treat you all to an excerpt from a book that, as I hear it, does some really cool stuff with werewolves. The author, Dan O’Brien is re-releasing his entire bibliography, so if you’re interested this could be an awesome time to check him out. Either way, enjoy!

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Synopsis: A predator stalks a cold northern Minnesotan town. There is talk of wolves walking on two legs and attacking people in the deep woods. Lauren Westlake, resourceful and determined FBI agent, has found a connection between the strange murders in the north and a case file almost a hundred years old. Traveling to the cold north, she begins an investigation that spirals deep into the darkness of mythology and nightmares. Filled with creatures of the night and an ancient romance, the revelation of who hunts beneath the moon is more grisly than anyone could imagine.

An excerpt from Bitten:

THE CREATURE crashed into the sides of its space. Tearing broken, rusted objects from the shelves, it threw them to the ground in angry fits of rage. Tears streamed down its face and the guttural whimper that echoed in the oversized shed was the only shred of humanity that remained.

With each mashed piece of its life, it plunged deeper into madness; closer to the monster it was slowly becoming. The light of the day had all but faded. Reaching out and grasping a light bulb that hung dimly at the center of the shed, it crushed it, allowing the shards to rip apart its hands.

Blood dripped on the work table and the partial husk of Wayne Joyce’s mutilated face. It had stretched out the flesh, drying it and coating it with deer oil. Its cries were crocodile tears; there was no emotion left except rage, hatred. Remorse and guilt long since disappearing into the abyss that was its mind.

The winds howled.

It responded.

Black thread, spooled with a sharp needle, sat beside the human mask. It reached down with one of its mangled hands, lifting the needle and then the flesh. Pressing against its skin, it drove the needle into its own face, drawing blood and an angry snarl. Each time through, there was a growl and a pool of blood. The task was complete: the flesh attached to the monster.

Little folds lifted from its face. The wind whipped against them, drawing its attention. Reaching out to a staple gun, it pressed it against its face. The creature drove thick steel staples into its face, flattening out the macabre mask.

The table was a massacre.

Leftover pieces of the trophies it took were lifeless artifacts of its ascension to death-bringer. Reaching out for the long claw of torture it wore as a glove, the creature groaned. Language was lost. More and more, it felt like an animal, a creature meant to destroy everything.

The rage built like steam. It coursed through its veins, polluting every aspect of humanity that remained. The moon would rise soon––full and omniscient. That would be the moment of its ascension.

It would be its masterpiece.

 

If you love supernatural fiction, a good mystery, and a fun story, then you’ll want to give Bitten a look. Releasing in July as well is the follow-up novella, Drained. The third novella in the series, Frighten, will be released in early 2019.

What readers are saying about Bitten

“Bitten is an extremely well-balanced and engaging novel. It contains mystery, suspense, horror, romance, and best of all – a creative, genre-bending twist on werewolf mythology. The story is quick-paced and dark without being too heavy or overdramatic. The protagonist is a strong and courageous FBI agent who is able to assert herself without casting aside her femininity. She reminds me of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum…. If a sequel follows, I will definitely read it.”

“Author Dan O’Brien left his mark with Bitten. I’ve now read three books by O’Brien, but BITTEN is by far my favorite. It not only showcases his literary skills, but leaves the reader wanting more. What else could an avid reader ask for?”

Get it today on Kindle!

Dan OBrein author picture

Dan O’Brien has over 50 publications to his name––including the bestselling Bitten, which was featured on Conversations Book Club’s Top 100 novels of 2012. Before starting Amalgam Consulting, he was the senior editor and marketing director for an international magazine. You can learn more about his literary and publishing consulting business by visiting his website at: www.amalgamconsulting.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AuthorDanOBrien.

Mad Cat Franz and the Bomb cover

For me there has always been something a little weird about books. That someone you’ve never met, who may even be long dead, had an idea for a character, a place, a scene, a story form in their mind and translated it into lines of squiggles on pieces of paper. Years later you come along and pick up those pieces of paper and decipher the squiggles and in your mind the images re-form. You may say, well duh-huh stupid, that’s writing and reading! This I know, but there still seems a little magic involved.

Personally, an idea for a novel can quite literally trigger from anything at all. Something seen, heard, read, an event, a feeling experienced, a comment, a joke, an injustice particularly, a silly fact, a conversation overheard. There’s no end to the list really. Also this trigger can provide the missing links to let you chain together any number of ideas you’ve been carrying around for some time into a workable synopsis.

The idea-spark for my latest novel Mad Cat, Franz and the Bomb came from a quip, too vulgar to repeat here, made by a good friend of mine when he deranged a line from the musical Oklahoma. For some bizarre reason it combined with an image I’d had in my head for years that goes like this.

It’s a beautiful summer day and you’re sat at the beach gazing at a calm sea when you notice something moving in the water close in front of you. As you watch, the surface of the water is broken by the top of a blond head, a forehead appears, eyes, a face, shoulders until the figure of a German World War Two pilot in uniform steadily walks up out of the water bone dry. The beach is crowded but no one else sees him. Only you.

In the novel the ‘you’ concerned is a teenage girl, Catherine McEvoy, also known to one and all in the small seaside town as Mad Cat because as a young child she insisted she had three invisible friends who tormented her horribly. Franz is the German pilot and the Bomb in question, which maybe real or not, is used as a metaphor for what is happening to Cat.

The other main characters are two retired gay actors, Teddy and Perry, who are as good as family to Cat. Perry is calm and loving while Teddy is profane and raucous and also, in the story, dying. That these characters are polar opposites allows for the injection of humour at regular intervals to prevent the story becoming too sad or introverted. This wasn’t a conscious, contrived device on my part as the two characters occurred naturally alongside the initial idea, but I did find I enjoyed them as I wrote their scenes and so their interjections became more frequent as the story unfolded.

The world building for the novel was relatively easy given the geographical setting of the story. We’re all familiar with such small, seaside towns and the one I describe is an amalgam of a few I am familiar with. The houses and rooms are imagined to reflect the characters who live in them and are assembled with as much of an eye for detail as possible to try to bring them alive. It wasn’t as if I had to envisage a dystopian future world and I admire writers who are capable of that type of imagination.

I read somewhere Stephen King will sometimes begin writing a novel or short story with no idea how it will end and just let it continue not knowing where it will take him. Just writes. Amazing. Being a mere mortal and old school in comparison, as soon as I get the initial story idea I pretty much know most of the beginning and always the ending and much of the arc leading from one to the other, though as the story develops it can go off at tangents I hadn’t originally thought of at all.

This being in many ways three stories woven and linked together around the central character Cat, made keeping the events and scenes in the arc fluent a little complicated, rather like juggling at times. Also there was quite a bit of historical research involved which can be laborious but it does sometimes uncover unthought-of pearls that enrich the story. I shouldn’t say this but it also looks like you know what you’re talking about!

And as for characters, well, they can cause a real problem. I’m lucky in that they mostly come fully formed right down to the sound of their voice and their clothes  and once they are realised they are fixed as firmly as something ghastly you’ve seen and can’t un-see. Some very occasionally require a little polishing to make them, hopefully, memorable for the reader.

The problem being invariably when writing, other characters will appear which are great but ultimately not right for the particular story and so you have to, as Faulkner says, “…kill all your darlings.” That can be a tough call sometimes to know if it is the right decision or not and the upshot is you end up with a disgruntled mob in the back of your mind grumpily waiting to be employed in their own yarn. Likewise a scene you’ve written can be really on the money but it jars in the context of the overall story. You read and re-read looking for any excuse to include it but eventually and however reluctantly, you admit it just has to go.

Mad Cat, Franz and the Bomb is in essence a ghost story and the three invisible friends who torment Cat as a child I saw as perhaps, the horrid spirits of Victorian children who once inhabited the house where she lives. The concept of invisible friends is interesting to me too in that, in young children they are tolerated but in adults it’s labelled as delusionary or schizophrenia, which is something I explore in the story too. So are they real or is Cat indeed going mad as everyone believes?

Author Picture

Bio of Tony McAndrew:

Having what little education thrashed into him by nuns at the convent caned out of him by grammar school, Tony kept a promise to himself to begin writing when he finished doing tedious stuff like working full time. After a wander through psychiatric nursing, the Met Police and almost thirty years as a frontline paramedic the time seemed about right. He still works now and again in Primary Care somewhere in Wales and lives happily on the Gower indulging in writing, reading, talking with friends, drinking beer and floating in the sea with his wife.

Guest Post: Brendon Bertram

Hey all, I’ve got an awesome guest  post for you today from Brendon Bertram, the author of Moira Ashe: Enemy Within. He’s talking about secrets and what makes him want to write. Enjoy!

Moira Ashe cover

All of my secrets.

There were a lot of things that possessed me to write; the world, the characters, their relationships and stories, the perfect scenes in my head begging to be written. But it was the secrets that excited me the most.

Of course writing a scene that has been rattling around in my head gives me an immense sense of satisfaction, it’s thinking about all the clues, the foreshadowing, the patterns I’ve set up in the book series that compel me to dance for joy, and that is no joke, I literally do!

I was inspired to start my writing career when I delved into the world of the fan theory, people were generating the craziest theories about their favorite movies and books. Some were convincing, other probable, but most were outlandish beyond belief. It was all go fun though, but I had a thought, what if the theory was true? What if there were clues hidden throughout a story for people to find, a secret that could shake everything they thought they knew? So I wrote Moira Ashe.

My first series, Moira Ashe, has its ending already planned, it was planned before the first word was written. It’s been an ordeal coming up with over seven books of the story in advance, but it has been worth it. I have references scattered throughout about things the reader dosen’t even know exist yet. There are even clues that spoil the ending of the seventh book in book one.

As much as I’m enjoying the secrecy, I’m looking forwards to when the secret’s discovery. They were written to be found after all. I want my secrets will blow people’s minds, to have them realize that the answers were there all along and they never realized it. I want them to question everything they thought they knew about a character. That is why I write.

It continues to be great fun weaving these mysteries into my stories, and I hope you have just as much fun uncovering them.

Thank you to Lauren’s Bookshelf for hosting me and thank you for giving me your time today. Check out brendonbertram.com to find out more information on the Moira Ashe series.

If you want to try uncovering my secrets or just want a great read Moira Ashe: Enemy Within is available on Amazon.com.

 

Brendon Charles Bertram was born on May 28, 1994. Working on the family farm on PEI, it wasn’t until March 27, 2015, after the death of his father that he began pursuing writing. He continues to live on PEI, but now occupies his time with travelling the globe, reading texts on philosophy and psychology, and exploring a deep fascination and passion for storytelling.

Hey all, I’m taking part in Authoright’s Spring Reading Week this year. I’m lucky enough to get to both host the guest post here and to do a review of the first novel in this series, Devil’s Demise. That’ll be up later today. For now though here’s the author, Lee Cockburn. Enjoy!

Character development between books.

At the beginning I carefully chose the two main characters to feature in the novel Devil‘s Demise, they are Taylor Nicks and Marcus Black, I chose names that I like, ones I thought were pretty cool, names I would like for myself if I could choose, male or female.

I then thought about what they would be like, as people, their good points and their bad, Taylor striking to look at, intelligent, committed to work, but very flighty in her private life, unintentionally hurting others as she fails to commit to them, the explanation for this will come in the third book which will hopefully be out this year.  Marcus is a very handsome, kind, caring individual, clean cut, faithful, hard working, and loyal, everything a man could be, committed to his wife and son, and works very hard to provide for them, he’s intelligent and enjoys his work, and the team he works within.

These two main characters are featured heavily through all three novels, the books cover their working relationships and their private lives, the emotional turmoil of the harrowing incidents they deal with week in and week out.  The second book Porcelain Flesh of Innocents covers one of the most terrifying situations a parent will ever face, DC Marcus Black’s son is snatched from just outside their home, only being left for a moment.  The rollercoaster of fear and terror, their heartaches as the team work to try and get him back before it is too late.  Both novels delve deeply into their personal lives, as other characters dip in and out of the storyline and add to the ups and downs the main characters are involved in.

I like the freedom of writing you can and add and takeaway characters as and when required, new love interests for Taylor, their emotional problems, their personalities, their draw towards the main characters, especially Taylor, she tends to lure people into her life and then shuts the door as they get too close, when she deeply wants to change, to be different, but hasn’t managed, yet.

Taylor and Marcus are good friends as well as colleagues and share a relationship that many would crave to have, they are able to tell the truth to one an other, whether it will be liked or not, they have each others backs and are fiercely loyal to one another, and share a mutual respect, but don’t always see eye to eye, as their private lives differ greatly in the spectrum of life.

The main storyline will always change, along with the villain, so to speak, other characters will come and go, and others will feature throughout all three books, their part to play always simmering just below the surface, their presence almost as important as the main characters, with the depth of the parts they play, so the reader will also wonder about what will happen to them too.

I don’t know if I’ve really explained how all the characters roles develop, it just happens, when you are writing the story moves in varying directions and the characters just fold into the mix and their importance in the grand scheme of things, is just like a piece in a jigsaw, it can’t be completed without every little bit, some a piece of sky, the same as many others and non descript and the others a face, or special feature, but all required to complete the task.

Hopefully if and when the reader finishes the novels, they will be satisfied the way the story has kept the characters parts running, explaining what is going on in their lives and leaving them wanting the characters to do the right thing and wanting things to work out for them, and of course, wanting more.

 

Devils Demise cover

Devil’s Demise

A cruel and sinister killer is targeting Edinburgh’s most powerful women, his twisted sense of superiority driving him to satisfy his depraved sexual appetite. He revels in the pain and suffering he inflicts on his unsuspecting victims but a twist of fate and an overwhelming will to survive by one victim ruins his plans for a reign of terror. His tormented prey will need all her courage if she is to survive the hunt.

Purchase from Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Devils-Demise-Lee-Cockburn-ebook/dp/B00OKQB900/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1509620984&sr=1-2&keywords=lee+cockburn

Lee Cockburn Photo

About Lee Cockburn

Lee Cockburn has worked for Police Scotland for sixteen years including as a police sergeant in Edinburgh for seven years and also as a public order officer. Before joining the force, she played for Scotland Women’s rugby team for fifteen years, earning over eighty caps for the Scottish ladies and British Lionesses teams. She also swam competitively for twelve years, successfully representing Edinburgh at the age of fifteen in the youth Olympics in Denmark in 1984. Lee lives in Edinburgh with her civil partner Emily and their two young sons Jamie and Harry. Her first book Devil’s Demise was published by Clink Street Publishing November 2014.

Follow Lee Cockburn on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lee_leecockburn

Guest Post Susan-Alia Terry

Alright, I’ve got a guest post for you today as part of the Coming Darkness blog tour. It’s about world building, which is always an awesome topic. Again, this is one of the early posts in a blog tour, check out the other stops on the tour. And, as always, enjoy!

Coming Darkness Banner

I think world building is the best part of writing. Molding a world to fit a story is both creative, and challenging. The best way I know to talk about world building is to give you a little insight as to how I went about building the world in Coming Darkness.

When I started writing Coming Darkness, I was new to writing and still feeling my way around. I gave zero thought to world building, didn’t even know it existed! I was busy thinking about the characters and what they were doing and how they were feeling. I had plans to include supernatural beings, like vampires and angels, but I didn’t plan beyond that.

It wasn’t until I began to get deeper into the story that I started questioning the nature of those beings. I was unaware that those questions were my first steps into world building. Before then, I had been following pretty standard rules of paranormal fantasy. Vampires are undead. Werewolves are ruled by a male alpha. And so on. But I was finding that I wasn’t satisfied.

For instance, I wanted my vampires to have their own characteristics. I loved what Anne Rice created with The Vampire Chronicles. I also loved what White Wolf created with The Masquerade and what J. R. Ward created with The Black Dagger Brotherhood. So along those lines, I started thinking about specific characteristics and abilities my vampires could have. I wanted them to be an old, primal species—pre-human civilization. And that lead me to the idea of the elements fire, earth, air, and water.  I separated my vampires into clans and the abilities of each clan fell into symbolic sync with the elemental name. Clan Earth can fast travel through earth. They have mastery over the body, and the ability to shape shift. Clan Air can fast travel through shadows. They have mastery over what senses perceive, and the ability to produce powerful pheromones that can beguile and seduce. Clan Water can fast travel through water. They have mastery over the mind, and the ability to charm. All the clans are descended from the first vampire clan: Clan Fire. They had red skin, all of the abilities of the other three clans, and the ability to walk in the sun.

The werewolves were re-imagined next. I was going to include them in the story for balance, but I was doing it reluctantly. I’ve never liked werewolves because of the hyper-masculine alpha pack leaders. So you can imagine how delighted I was when my werewolves presented themselves with a matriarchal social structure! Wonderful! They have alphas, but the matriarchs are stronger and could defeat one easily. I think I can thank hyenas for giving me the subliminal inspiration for that.

In all, I was happy with the beings I adapted, but I needed to tie them together. To be specific, I needed to tie their existence together because of the angels. What I was chafing at was a world where gods, angels, vampires, werewolves, etc. existed without a reason for them all to exist together. I needed to be able to explain not only how they came to be, but also how they shared existence on the planet.

Enter The Purge: The angels were sent to earth to clear it of Darkness and pave the way for humans. Creatures that posed the most threat to human life were killed off. Others, knowing they would soon succumb to forced extinction, used all of their magical and biological skill to live on in the form of hybrids. So all vampires, werewolves, etc. are human-other hybrids. Humans became the dominant life forms and the angels allowed the hybrids to live (for reasons) only if they kept their populations low and did not interfere with human development.

Probably the last big thing I did was change standard vampiric nature. I could see no way that angels would allow anything “undead” to exist. If I created a world in which the angels cleared the earth of serious and unnatural dangers to humans, undead would have been wiped out as soon as they appeared. That goes for zombies, and ghouls as well. In my universe, there are no dead men walkin’!

I did other things as my world took shape, and I will say I found that world building was as integral to the story as the motivations and actions of the characters. As both framework and universe, it supports the characters as they sort out their challenges, as well as providing challenges themselves. I love stories with rich worlds supporting them, and I’m tickled beyond belief that I created a world that is already planting seeds of different stories within it. I can’t wait to explore and see what comes next!

Happy Reading!

Coming Darkness Cover

Coming Darkness

Archangel Lucifer lives a comfortable life of self-imposed exile with his vampire lover, Kai. When the other Archangels come to him with a problem — Heaven is gone and their Father is missing — he refuses to get involved because not only is it not his problem, but it’s probably some elaborate ruse they’ve cooked up to lure him back into the fold. When he’s personally attacked, he finds that he’s wrong on both counts. There are other powerful gods at work, gods who believe the current creation is flawed and must be destroyed.

Kai is thrown off balance when Lucifer disappears, and his life begins to spiral out of control. In the past, he never cared that he was looked down upon and called Lucifer’s pet. But with Lucifer absent, he’s left to navigate a world that doesn’t respect him. Since the only true currency is respect, he must gain it the only way his enemies will understand, through blood.

Purchase from Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D7MM5IM/

Coming Darkness - Author pic-cropped

Author Bio –

They say it’s never too late to find and pursue your passion. Turns out they’re right. Although Susan loved to read, she didn’t start writing until she was in her late 40’s. A stint in grad school helped her hone her craft, and now she happily spends her days making up stories and figuring out how best to emotionally (and sometimes physically) torture her characters.

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