And its Back…

Now you might remember that Pfoxmoor Publishing took on my novella series, “The Tower and The Eye“, but unfortunately, due to problems beyond Pfoxmoor’s control, they had to close down their business.

Pfoxmoor Cover – by Sessha Batto, published Spring 2012

I learned a lot about writing and Publishing from my time at Pfoxmoor and I wish Diane Nelson all the best in her new venture, Pubwrite Manuscript Services and I can recommend her editing services without reservation.

All of this meant that I had to republish the first book in the series, “TTATE: A Beginning” – so I started with a read through, just to check everything was up to scratch. Then I edited a little, to change some things that I felt might be difficult on the copyright front; the reason being, that there were a lot of cases floating around the internet about authors being sued or attacked for using things that were similar to an existing, bigger franchise, so I wanted to protect myself.

Then I decided that I needed a fresh look for the cover.

This wasn’t because I didn’t like the cover that Pfoxmoor had published it with – on the contrary, I loved it. I just wanted to make it feel like a new edition of the story – considering the changes I had made – so I went to Elizabeth Bank of Selestiele Designs and asked her to come up with a new idea for the cover based on the original.

When the design came back to me, I loved it as much as the cover Sessha did –

Cover by Elizabeth Bank

Then finally, I got it primped, polished and ready to go…  Here’s an excerpt to remind you what it’s like:

 

They had been in the treasure room for nearly two hours.

Loric had relaxed his guard and idly watched Silvertree examining a large emerald the size of Loric’s fist with an eyeglass. Grimhelm had found four matching rubies and was sifting through another pile to find a fifth one, as a wedding present for his sister, he claimed.

Kalytia was the only person who had not relaxed. She was getting more and more stressed as the evil that permeated the stones of the dungeon affected her.

“Please can we get this crystal and get out of here!” she pleaded for the tenth time.

“Just a bit longer,” Grim muttered.

“Relax, Lady Cleric. There is nothing to worry about, this place is deserted.” Thiert said, grinning at her.

It didn’t help.

Loric frowned. Earlier the thief had been advocating a quick get-away, now he seemed content to plunder the dungeon. What’s going on? It’s like the treasure trove in here has them hypnotised. He watched Thiert select his route through the room, and over to the biggest pile of gems.

At the very top of the pile was a massive Fire Opal, twice the size of the large emerald Silvertree had in his hands.

“My Gods!” the thief exclaimed. “I have to have that one.”

“Be careful!” Loric barked as Thiert reached up, balancing precariously on one foot.

Grimhelm and Silvertree looked round as the rascal got the gem, but tumbled onto the pile of treasure underneath it. He lay there, sliding the gem into his pouch and grinned weakly when he saw them all looking down at him. As he turned over and sat up, the gems behind him slid down and Kalytia saw the top of an alarm trap under him.

“Thiert! Stay still, you’ve sat on a trap!” she called.

The thief froze. His hood slid back off his head, exposing the tattoo Loric had seen earlier in the Inn and Silvertree gasped.

“A spell tattoo!” The elf moved closer to examine it.

That ink is definitely darker than it was earlier. Loric frowned. “What do you mean a spell tattoo?”

“I sent you books about Aracan Katuvana when you started researching this quest. Didn’t you read them?” Silvertree frowned at his pupil.

“Well, sort of.” Loric looked down, squirming slightly. “The ones I read had more stories in them than anything else.”

“You always were an indifferent student Loric, preferring fantasy to history.” Silvertree sighed. “Your brother paid far more attention to what I was teaching than you did.”

“Explain it, Mage; don’t have a go at the lad.” Grimhelm said slipping a fifth ruby into his pouch and tying it back on his belt.

“When the Aracan Katuvana was in power, those humans who accepted his rule or sold him their soul were tattooed with a thorny branch that extended up their left arm, up their neck and around their left eye.” Silvertree turned to look at the thief, considering. “The only difference between the two types of human servants was that those who had accepted his rule had tiny black roses in-between the thorns. Those fully possessed by him had red roses. ”

Loric looked back at Thiert. The tattoo he had glimpsed on the back of the thief’s right hand had been a thorny branch and now that the rogue’s hood was down, he could see the tattoo ran up the left side of his neck, across his forehead to curl around his right eye socket. There were no tiny black roses between the thorns. “So you sold your soul to the Aracan Katuvana, did you?”

“You don’t understand. When I was a tiny child, my parents couldn’t afford to keep me so they left me on the doorstep of the nearest Guild they could find. Unfortunately it was the Thieves and Swindlers Guild and though they took me in, they also sold my soul to the Dark Ones to make the guild rise in status. Two days ago this appeared.” Thiert sounded distraught.

“I knew we couldna trust ye!” Grimhelm snarled drawing his hammer and advancing on the man.

Kalytia went white and took three steps forward, her right hand outstretched as if trying to stop the dwarf from doing anything. Her foot slipped on the gold scattered across the floor and she fell, hitting her head on the floor.

She didn’t move.

Silvertree scrambled across to her and Grim turned to try and help.

Loric could hear something coming from the door behind him. As the noise got louder, a foul stench filled the air. He turned, raising his sword and shouted “There’s something…” but he never finished his sentence.

 

The south door burst open and the fattest demon Loric had ever seen stood there with two more behind it. The creature waddled in and Loric backed up as he realised that the smell was coming from the demon. As it advanced, it farted, each step releasing a cloud of gas that made him gag. Use the gas mask, he told himself, pulling the red mask from his pocket. One handed, he managed to get it over his head while holding his sabre out in front of him. Good. Now what do we do?

Once the demons were in the room, they spread out, not caring what they trod on. Loric didn’t dare take his eyes off them to find out what his companions were doing. He brought his shield round from his back and slipped it onto his arm, praying fervently.

The demons roared and shook their heads, rattling the Flails attached to their long horns. He backed up further, until he bumped into Thiert who was still half lying on the alarm trap.

“Duck, Loric!” Silvertree yelled and the prince dropped to the floor. A green fireball flew through the air where his head had been and hit the centre demon. It lodged in the creature’s stomach for a few minutes and the other two demons crowded round to examine the wound. They appeared puzzled and the injured demon poked at it with one long, dirty fingernail.

The fireball contracted slightly and Silvertree called out, “Stay down!” as it expanded rapidly.

The injured demon was torn into bloody chunks, throwing the other two demons through the air and into the side walls. The audible snap as they hit the walls indicated that their necks had broken. The bodies slid down to lie still on the treasure.

Loric barely had time to blink before a horde of tiny Gremlins wearing dirty red tabards rushed into the room through the east door, cleared up the bodies and rushed away shouting “Hup, Hup, Hup,” at the top of their voices through the opposite door. The door slammed shut behind them and they heard a key turn in it.

“Why did they lock it?” the Prince asked no one in particular…

 

* * * *

Here are the links you’ll need, should you be intrigued enough to read more!

For UK readers: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beginning-The-Tower-Eye-ebook/dp/B009B0XRSM/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1348091225&sr=1-2

For US readers: http://www.amazon.com/Beginning-The-Tower-Eye-ebook/dp/B009B0XRSM/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

I hope y’all enjoy!

Writer Wednesday: LOTS of Reviews!

I’m catching up on my reading and reviewing list,  at the moment. So I thought I would dedicate this week’s WW to all those books that I’ve read recently and haven’t reviewed on here yet.

We’ll start with one that made me laugh out loud and read bits to my partner who got so fed up with it that he finally snapped and told me to read it to myself…

It should have been an easy, Hollywood kind of case for Fish—just find some wanna-be starlet’s lost Lhasa Apso. But before anyone can say, “three-picture deal,” her cut-rate jeweler boyfriend is murdered and the killer wants to shoot Fish…and not in Technicolor.

Moe “Fish” Fishbein is a wisecracking bounty hunter, attorney and repo man with a ton of tattoos, a Buddha-licious grin and an old school Harley chopper. He’s the “go-to” guy for show biz A-listers with runaway spouses and missing Bentleys, and agents whose celebrity clients have jumped bail. A desperate jeweler hires him to locate his trophy girlfriend’s missing lap dog, but neglects to mention the fortune in stolen diamonds he super-glued into the dog’s collar for safe keeping.

The next thing Fish knows, his client gets whacked and now he’s in the sights of a psychotic hit man who wears black Armani and talks like Marilyn Monroe. The gunman works for a corrupt attorney who wants the stones for himself. And before Fish can do the right thing and track down his client’s murderer, the hit man pops the girlfriend. Then he kidnaps Fish’s associate and offers to swap him for the collar. Now it’s up to Fish to find the pooch, rescue his buddy, and stop the bodies from piling up faster than an old Chuck Norris flick.

Jeff has a quirky, wry humour that suits Fish and his companions down to the ground. I felt more than a little sorry for the witless Charlie and his beautiful wife; but the character I loved the most was Einstein – a genius at maths and someone that you really would like to have as your right hand man!

If you are reading this and you haven’t read either of Jeff’s books, then you need to get copies of both – one tip though, don’t eat and drink while you are reading because you *will* spit it out all over your screen!

I’m intending to collect all of Jeff’s books in paperback (when they make it into print) because they really are the sort of work that I love to read over and over again.

* * *

Next up is something that I started reading for International Zombie Day…

Being a zombie is no picnic and it’s one hell of a handicap in the romance department when you fall in love with a ‘breather’:

Aleta is a breather with short blonde hair and brown eyes – two of them! – and the whitest smile Fred has ever seen. Every day at a certain time she sits at her window, and every day he stands in the rubble across the street among a crowd of zombies waiting to break through the fence and eat her.

‘You are beautiful, like an angel’, he thinks, but all he can moan is, “Braaaiiinss.”

Still, as zombies go, Fred’s quite a catch. Underneath all the gangrene and rot, Fred is different. This girl will probably turn out to be yet another dead end, an infatuation, someone whose image he cannot get out of his mind and whose taste he cannot get out of his mouth, but the heart wants what the heart wants.

For breathers, it is always only a matter of time, however beautiful they are and whatever the government is assuring people.

Which makes Fred sad because he has a beautiful 11 year old son called Timmy, and Timmy may still be alive.

From the moment I started reading “I’ve been Deader” I was literally glued to my phone.

This is not your normal, survivors-blast-zombies-to-pieces-for-the-fun-of-it, run-of-the-mill zombie novel. No way, no how! For a start, it’s told from the Zombie point of view. Fred is an anomaly, a Thinking Zombie, and it’s his story we begin the book with.

This story is mesmerising. From the moment I started reading it, I was hooked into the world that Adam Sifre has created. Told mostly from the point of view of Fred, a Zombie that can not only think, but also control the other zombies, you follow his adventures. Firstly all he can think about it Aleta, a Breather who is a vision of perfection. He wants her, and not just for her tasty looking limbs… however, he discovers that he has abilities that elevate him above your normal Shambler and decides that he’s going to use them to turn the Zombie / Breather war around.

The world is going to hell in a hand basket and Fred is just the man… well, zombie… to lead it there.

Adam’s irreverent humour and superbly slipped in cultural references make you feel as if you really are in the story. It would make the perfect TV series, especially as the plot thickens as we meet Jon, a homicidal maniac who seriously enjoys removing the zombie threat from his path. The descriptive prose and entertaining episodes from Fred’s Zombie Army’s progress bring us to Fred’s son, Timmy, and a climax to the story that leaves you begging for more.

I love it!

* * *

And finally, I’m going to add one that I have read in HardBack rather than on Kindle – just to show that I do read print books!

1916: the Western Front. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves in the trees. Where have the mud, blood and blasted landscape of No Man’s Land gone?

2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Cop Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive – some said mad, others dangerous – scientist when she finds a curious gadget – a box containing some wiring, a three-way switch and a…potato. It is the prototype of an invention that will change the way Mankind views his world for ever.

And that’s an understatement if ever there was one…

The Long Earth is the first novel in an exciting new collaboration between the creator of Discworld Terry Pratchett and the acclaimed SF writer Stephen Baxter

Its absolutely superb and has inspired me to read a few other Stephen Baxter books. The scientific theories involved in the story is flawless, from the evolution of man to parallel dimensions – you can really tell that Stephen Baxter is involved. There are hints of Discworld and you can feel the irreverence that is Terry Pratchett in almost every chapter… A seriously engrossing read!

The ending is the only sticking point for me – I really feel that there is a lot more to this story than has been printed and I want to see it all. Hence the four stars instead of the five that I would normally give a Terry Pratchett book.

Writer Wednesday: um… Me actually.

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned my own writing on my own blog. So I thought that today, my Writer Wednesday feature could be about me!

I’ve been told that I don’t blow my own trumpet enough. There is a reason for this and that’s because I never actually know what to say. It’s a bit like writing a personal statement for a job interview; you don’t want them to dismiss you as useless, but at the same time you don’t want to come across as arrogant about your abilities.

Maybe this will be good practise then…

I’m much more than a writer of course, and if you’re a regular subscriber / reader, you’ll know that, but for those that don’t, let’s get the other things that I do out of the way, in no particular order:

1) I am the partner of an incredibly talented, but highly self concious artist with bottoming out self esteem – TOH is brilliant at what he does (he has an exhibition coming up in Barry soon) and everyone else can see it, but he needs so much validation that I have had to become a part time Life Coach!

2) I have two energetic, wonderful, polite and mischievous children. NOS and PT are the centre of my existence as a mother… but they can be damn annoying and seriously messy, so I have to add Laundress/Seamstress, First Aider, Interventionist, Entertainer and Prison Guard to the jobs list.

3) Because of the first two, I also have to be a Housewife. This is not a role that comes easily to me (damn you mum!) and I hate washing up with a passion – I’ll do anything else other than that particular chore…

4) I have the honour of being an Assistant Leader at the local Guide troop. This means I have to be a Teacher and add a few of the roles that I play as a mother as well as supporting my fellow Guiders.

5) I have a passion for sparkly, twinkly things that is blossoming into a job – yes, I make jewellery and accessories. There’s a separate website for that though, so I’ll just say that I have to add Designer/Maker, Secretary and Marketing Assistant to the list.

6) I am the Editor of Welcome to Wherever Webzine. Again there is a separate website to look at, so I’ll leave you to imagine what that entails…

…Okay then, having got those out of the way, let’s get on with my writing…

I have a small catalog of books at the moment (if you pop up to the menu bar and look at the bookshop menu, you’ll be able to find out about each one) but, the thing is, I don’t think many people actually  realise that I have actually got books published and that they only came out this year, so I’ll run through them now for you –

The first book to be published was “Pika the Phluph and the Gribblebid Tough” in collaboration with illustrator/writer, Maria Kuroshchepova.

Book One of “The Land Far Away” Series

“Look under your bed and what do you see, A place full of dust or a magical tree? Crawl under your bed and continue the tale, There’s a ship by the tree and it’s about to set sail.”

So begins the journey into Land Far Away – a magical domain filled with strange creatures, like the Phluphs, the Linzers, the fearsome Grungegogglers, and the gentle Snuggles.

Join the author Kira Morgana and illustrator Maria K. on the first Land Far Away adventure, as Pika the Phluph sets out to conquer the heart of the savage and uncouth Gribblebid

Pika is one of my favourite characters, mostly because she is my Daughter’s creation and so much like PT it brings tears to my eyes. Pika is pink and fluffy with an adventurous spirit, no fear and very little good sense!

Publishing this book with Maria was a wonderful experience and we have several more in the offing…

The next book was my own self publishing effort “The Necklace of Harmony”.

My first story collection!

One of the fun things about being a writer is responding to a challenge. This book is full of the results of such challenges…

From the wedding celebrations of Greek Deities, to mermaids, ghosts and superheroes, a whole gamut of creatures await your eager eyes. 

This is a short story collection that basically charts my progress through the world of publication from Flash contests to Anthologies and allows the reader an insight into my mind as well.

I think my favourite story of the whole book is “The Horse Knows Best” – a story set in one of my favourite worlds and connected to the next book that was published…

“The Tower and The Eye: A Beginning” was published in February…

Published Spring 2012

Peace came at a price…

The Black Tower War lingers in memory and the stories that spark fear in children lie in truths long buried. Tales of the Dungeons of Doom, a fearsome Overlord and The Eye that rules all, remind the people of the Heart Kingdoms of Quargard that harmony must be earned.

…and danger lurks just below the surface.

When the Overlord and his Creatures re-awaken, Heroes and Heroines must arise to stem the tide of evil. So it is decreed. So does Legend say.

From each Kingdom, a Champion…

…born to become a Dungeon Destroyer. But the tales and legends leave much to be desired and not all who venture into the Dungeons of Doom will emerge alive.

As with everything, each quest will have a beginning…

…and the Kingdom of Galivor provides an unlikely collection of candidates who seek to plunder an abandoned dungeon.

Little do they know they are being watched…

… by Pfoxmoor Publishing, under their Pfoxchase imprint.

Quargard is one of the best worlds I have created so far and I am forever coming up with new ideas for stories to take place there; it’s almost as if the world really has come alive and wants to be written about!

Some will appear in a story collection- “Quargard Chronicles” -which I am planning, although I don’t know if it will be self published or picked up by Pfoxmoor yet.

I am however going to continue with the self publishing. I have two books lined up for publication this summer:

Turn a city upside down and shake it – what falls out? 

The Treaty that binds the Vampires, Werewolves, Humans and the rarely seen True Dragons, is over 1000 years old. It provides stability and safety for all the citizens of the city of Te Ling. Triads and Yakuza are not welcome here and Tourism flourishes like a well fed swan amongst the parks, temples and theaters by day,  and under the bright lights of the night clubs and other leisure facilities by night.

But many lights cast a multitude of shadows, and they get darker as you get deeper.

Li is as deep into the darkness as you can get: cop by day, shadow by night, he eats and drinks the lifeblood of the city. A threat to the current Te Ling Triang Leader is a threat to the City and The Black Dragon cannot be risked. Li is handed the responsibility of tracking down and removing the threat…preferably permanently .

This is one of the first books that I ever wrote and while it has changed substantially from the original text, thanks to the intervention of a series of Beta Readers and Editors, the story and the characters have stayed strong and alive (well, undead) to me.

This will be published under my other Pen Name, A. E. Churchyard and you may discover that you like this darker side to me.

Which would be good because the second book I am publishing is also under that name –

The Darkness in Mind

Apologies for the lack of cover – I only conceived of the title this morning and I don’t have a cover designed yet.

This is going to be a short story collection, but where “Necklace of Harmony”  was sweetness and light, fantasy and fun; “The Darkness in Mind” will be horror stories so it really is the opposite side of my psyche coming out to play.

A lot of my early published work was horror and although much of it was published in anthologies by House of Horror Webzine a couple of years ago. I thought it would be fun to bring them out in a book and add a couple of stories that didn’t see the light of day at the time. More news on this closer to the time…

Apart from that, I have a YA series being written and I’m working on a couple of SF stories. I have no idea if they’ll see the light of day, but you never know. Oh and by the way, I do have an amazon page so, if you don’t hear from me for a while, keep your eyes open and on the page – anything new published should appear on there!