Tag Archives: science fiction

Shadow Over Avalon: The makings of a cover.

Shadow Over AvalonBackcover of SOA Shadow Over Avalon Front cover  SOA Postcard

Evelinn Enoksen, wonderful artist. https://evelinnenoksen.wordpress.com/

Ken Dawson talented graphic designer: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Phoenix-Designs/422386537864899?pnref=lhc

The concept is the bands controlling the surface humans interlinked and hovering over the undersea city of free humans, Avalon. The second picture is a Moonscape with a flying saucer in the background against the beginnings of Earthrise. These are all elements in the book series, the first of which, ‘Shadow Over Avalon’ is at a temporary and amazing discount of only 99c. Get it while you can at this price.

Stuck for a Christmas Gift? Look at these awesome titles from Kristell Ink

KI Kickstarter

http://kristell-ink.com/out-now/

Hot off the press is SS front and back with text

and  White Mountain cover

And from Tenebris BooksTenebris Books

http://www.grimboldbooks.com/our-imprints/tenebris-books/

All books are available in print and as ebooks. They can be found at Amazon, Barns and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Waterstones and many other venues.

Research and Fantasy.

I was having an interesting discussion a few days back with an author who writes in a different genre to myself. The upshot of it was that they thought I was very lucky was it didn’t really matter what details/setting/skills I added to my sci fis and fantasy as it was all made up anyway.  ROTFLMAO.

Um no, this may be a popular assumption, but it is an incorrect one. Take Darkspire Reaches, for example, which is a fantasy world, not Earth.  Ah, you may say, in that book you used Earth words to describe trees and stuff. Yep, I did. Of course I did. I had gone to a great deal of trouble to construct this world, decided on its geology, weather patterns, temperature, zones, types of flora and fauna that could possibly live successfully in this place, so naturally I used the words people would recognize. If I stick a rabbit in a story I am not going to commit the stupid trope of calling it a flubble, or a werible. If it looks like a rabbit and acts like a rabbit, then it is a rabbit.

Why all the fuzz over stuff fitting into a setting? In one word, feasibility. I can’t have violets and roses flowering at the same time. A lot of people know this doesn’t happen in reality. I can’t have a xerophyte spudded in at an unlikely location. It has to be consistent and realistic to allow the reader to sink comfortably in the world.

What about history? Yes, that is enormously important. With the Shadow Series, beginning with Shadow Over Avalon, I wanted to find what the true King Arthur might have been like. This involved going back to the original Welsh legends to avoid the politically correct fabrications firmly in place by the time of Mallory. Fabrications? Oh yes.  In Medieval times it was considered almost necessary to go on a pilgrimage; something the church really promoted as the end destination raked in on cha chink right royally. In those times, Glastonbury Abby ‘discovered’ the bones of King Arthur and his queen in their precincts. (One hopes they were not over-zeolous about procuring the right sort of bodies). Now the problem was that hyping up the Arthurian legends meant mentioning women of power. Oh quel horreur! Women couldn’t have power! That couldn’t happen, therefore one Geoffrey of Monmouth set out to discredit pagan priestess Morgan Le Faye and he made a bang up job of it. Now to elevate Arthur, who was most probably a pagan king. Easy enough with chivalry, knights and holy quests, excepting there were no knights in Arthur’s real time-frame. Also look closely at the objects in the major stories. A sword and a grail. Writing was a real pain way back when and I imagine it took Geoffrey’s whole life work to put all this down on vellum in beautiful script done with a quill or two, not to mention the gold leafing trim. This explains the absence of the other two power objects, the wand and the pentacle.

Look at the old Tarot sets and the names will be very different. Swords, Cups, Pentacles and Wands; not Swords, Chalices, Coins and Batons as they became to fit in the need for the right sort of chappy to go visit on a pilgrimage. Arthur was Christianize, as were many of the trappings from the pagan days. Of course the monks could get away with whatever they wanted to say to swing a pilgrimage route in their direction. At that time, they were the only ones, aside from a very few nobles, who could read. History is absolutely fascinating when taken back to the nth degree.

I will only use a small fragment of the material I researched for the Shadow Series. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is I have a real handle on Arthur and his times.  And just how did ancient men raise Stonehenge? The jury is still out on that one.Snow day May 29 2010 158

And for the New Year …

Coming in the latter part of next year are both Serpent of the Shangrove and Chalice of Shadows, in that order. This is confirmed so I may put in a few snippets here and there.

Serpent of the Shangrove is the sequel to Darkspire Reaches and Chalice of the Shadows is book three in the Shadow series. Personally, I am dying to see what sort of covers they get, and yes, I am expecting stunning. Perhaps there will be a book 3 to Raven and a book 4 to Shadows?  I am working on those concepts.Color Dragon

Now for play. I have been putting together a science fiction book, which was fun. Also in the works are a paranormal fantasy and an urban fantasy. Don’t know why. They just worked out that way. These will be on the back burner, to be picked at when time allows, so they are just for fun at the moment. Maybe I will raise a page with snippets out of each and readers can vote for the one they like best?  Something to think about in the New Year.

Sword of ShadowsAlso possible early next year is a big raffleopter.  I have swag and I can do signed copies, but I need time to put it all together. And yes, I am taking time out to be with my little grandsons. They are only that small once and they are growing fast.

Sword of Shadows, a small snippet.

Here is a taste of story and it is just a little bit. Not nearly so much as will be loaded on Amazon for a free look, but that will come soon. In the meantime, here is a snippet. It is possible I may post a little more in the next few days, but I guess you will have to stay tuned to this page to find out. Enjoy.

Sword of Shadows

Chapter 1

Freezing rain lashed down at Arthur, sending chill runnels over his fighting men where they huddled in a gully. Forked lightning crackled around them, charging the air with a stink of destruction. He eased higher to see through this unnatural deluge and choked back a string of foul oaths at the sight of a Nestine skyship positioned over trapped victims in the distance.

Well-oiled leather clothing hung heavy from hours of pounding rain that ran off his hybrid skin. A faint tingle made him duck for cover seconds before another bolt zapped to ground, feet from his former position. Thunder hammered his eardrums, leaving him shaken by the violence of its detonation. Not one man broke for cover. Pride flushed through him at their discipline and courage. A storm like this one came as a shock to even the Terran Outcasts in his unit, conditioned as they were to foul weather. As for his Submariners, unused to electrical storms, he could imagine the calming mantras they used to hold position.

Water forced between his neck and the collar of his tunic making a cold pocket of wetness. His flesh moved in automatic response to pry open gill flaps under his ears. All Arthur’s senses came on full alert. That shouldn’t happen.

He tasted salt on his lips. Seawater scooped up to form an artificial storm directed as a weapon? What a brilliant strategy. Arthur envisioned precisely where he wanted to return the compliment.

Caught between both races as a fulcrum, he had elected to wear Brethren clothing as a counter to his Submariner skin. Without the Brethren leathers, no pocket of water could have given forewarning. His hated mixed ancestry proved its worth this time. A double-edged sword; he stood between human Brethren and mutant Submariners as a living shield.

Responsibility for his unit weighed like a rock on his soul. They crouched in misery, waiting for the end of a timeless storm. Copper-haired Kai, his younger brother, with their mother’s deep violet eyes, resembled her second mate. Arthur, by contrast, wore the features and the rich, dark hair of her first. He pictured the Submariner faces of half his men, just a little different from a Terrans, with their aquatic mutation and psi factor that he shared. The Brethren, those Terrans cast out from surface habitation by birth or circumstance, were shock-troopers of the unit, now he had to make a hard choice. When he looked down at his brother crouching in the rocks, Kai’s expression told him all he wished to know.

Kai’s mouth turned up into the slow smile of Brethren. Calm acceptance radiated from his brother’s casual stance and the cold, flat stare that made others think Outcasts could see through rock. Arthur didn’t need Kai to voice the grim odds against surviving through the night. He had the others to consider, all comrades gleaned from amongst the ranks of Brethren and Submariners. All dead men, soon.

A violent rumble shocked though his body. He ducked for cover as lightning struck. Thunder hit him like a stun blast again, leaving him shaken and partly deafened. He had to admire this battle tactic. Defense against weather control orchestrated from an off-world location represented an impossible scenario for Submariners. The Nestines held the winning hand…for the present.

The ringing in his ears eased into a hiss while he searched his memory for every detail that brief glance over the terrain afforded him. Outcasts belonging to Rowan’s rival faction hid amongst boulders approximately a thousand paces from this location, pinned down by the skyship. Arthur reckoned about three of them still survived; caught without Submariner firepower apparently. His face settled into grim lines.

Yesterday evening, Kai reported sensing an event horizon, another candidate about to be made into an Outcast. Arthur needed recruits just as much as Rowan did. He experienced a bitter sense of irony that his orders had led them into this death trap.

An animal scream of pain sounded from the direction of the trapped victims. He looked over the rim, blinking against shafts of moisture. A green ray shone earthward from the skyship. Flashes of white flickered within, followed by howls of someone dying in slow agony in that light. The terrorized scream from the moor ended in a howl of unspeakable animal anguish that brought a flood of bile into Arthur’s mouth. This was the fifth poor bastard losing his nerve to run into death. Blind with terror, stumbling over rocks in panic, caught in a holding beam and carved up into gobbets of meat for the Nestines in the hovering skyship.

The burden of leadership hung like a leaden noose around Arthur’s neck. Even Kai thought the Nestines just killed their victims. He could not, and would not now, tell these people the truth. Emrys, his long departed mentor judged aright in this case. The knowledge of such horror must remain his silent load. Of all here, only Kai possessed strength enough to fight with his eyes wide open. Arthur refused to share and thus destroy Kai’s peace of mind.

Something wasn’t right about the way they fell into this trap. Rowan’s men were beyond help, and then the skyship would come for his storm-trapped group. No Outcast wore his original slave bracelet; all had Submariner supplied replicas, so the Nestines weren’t using those to track them. Something else was the lure. Something gave the director of the storm a homing beacon to trap them.

“Hey, the odds…” Kai didn’t finish the sentence. Arthur guessed the remainder, grateful for his brother’s fey ability to see threat in possible alternative time lines.

“…are altering in our favor,” Arthur said. His mind slipped back to a training session with Emrys in the cave of his dreams. Sometimes sacrifices, however horrific their fate must be offered. Three hundred paces to their right lay a deep river. Each Terran in his party carried a standard issue stasis device. Counting himself, that meant three Submariners to ferry five Terrans to the depths and safety.

“Arthur?” Kai’s hand gripped his upper arm.

“I know. The odds.” He watched Kai’s eyebrow quirk up in question as lightning flashed again. Thunder rattled their bones moments later.

“What are you planning?”

“Give me a moment.” Arthur reached up to cover Kai’s hand with his own. “I almost have it.”

“Commander?” A voice came out of the gloom. One of the Brethren, his tone sounding troubled. “We’ll be next.”

“Patience, Stalker.” Kai cautioned. His voice larded with relaxants learned from Arthur. “We will make a move soon.”

Arthur heard the anxiety in Stalker’s voice: some of them came to breaking point. His mind shifted with abrupt clarity into a higher mode. Special quartz earrings prevented Brethren succumbing to mind control of the Nestines, and the psi powers of his Submariners blocked thought raid attempts. So which now failed? Not psi power, as his ability was the strongest of all and he would have felt a challenge. The Nestines would target him if they knew he existed. That left the earrings. With mostly Terran physiology, even Kai needed his earring for protection. That clinched it.

“Listen well.” Arthur looked to the shadows of rocks concealing his men. “We have a problem. I think Nestines track us by a connection to the earrings some of you wear. Bury them in mud as deeply as you can. I will shield your minds from any intrusion.”

“What if you can’t?” Stalker’s voice sounded from the darkness. “What if there are too many to shield?”

“I guess you will be going to sleep if that happens,” Kai suggested, sounding almost friendly.

“Kill us, you mean?” Stalker edged out from around a rock. “It is our right to die in combat.”

“Enough!” Authority of conviction rang in Arthur’s command. He let the lesson sink in for a few moments before he continued, “No man of mine remains here. We win through, or we die together.”

“Commander?Your orders?” Haystack’s voice held tones of trust as it carried over the deluge.

“No triads. We go as a group.” Arthur sensed rather than heard the reluctant removal of jewelry. He reached out with his mind to encircle all of them in a link. Now he waited for another sacrifice to fate from the trapped group in the distance.

A flash of lightning streaked down from angry clouds. Thunder cut off the sound of a shriek of agony from one of Rowan’s remaining men. Arthur used this moment to send an order directly into the minds of his troops. A close-knit group of shadows flitted to the safety of water.

***

Five hours later, Arthur and the exhausted Submariners finished dragging all the Terran warriors into a vast, air-filled cavern under Dozary Lake. Looking up, he just managed to grab the wrist of a weary man about to remove stasis devices.

“No. Leave them, Huber. They are getting the rest they need.” Arthur’s hand shook where it gripped the Submariner. He forced it to stillness. “They have just lost a battle advantage. They do not need time to brood over it.”

“Will you leave them here, Arthur?” Huber sank to his knees, trembling with the same fatigue. The raw scent of ketones, the by-product of protein breakdown, wafted through the air around him.

“All of us must rest.” Arthur looked around at what he could see of their dank and noise-some bolthole. It offered little beyond safety. He faced a decision he did not want to make. “Then we visit Avalon.”

When his Submariners crawled to sleeping places in the sand, Arthur used every last ounce of his willpower to stand and walk to his own bedroll. He knew it as a pointless gesture when he added to the scent of ketones on the air. He also guessed at the nature of the reception he could expect from the rulers of Avalon and his mother after an absence of two years. Tomorrow they would board the submersible vessel and return to the place of its theft, under the southern ocean. Sleep came as a soothing blanket of darkness.

Busy, busy.

So I have been quiet and busy over the last little while. What have I been up to you may ask? Today I have been drooling ecstatically over the finished cover of my soon to be published book, Sword of Shadows. Yes, I have got it in my hot little hands and no, I am not posting it when it will be live in days. That is when I will make a splash.

Just a mention that Shadow Over Avalon, the first book in the Shadow series, and yes, it is officially the Shadow series, is still at 99c U.S.D. It is available on all platforms including this one.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/shadow-over-avalon/id735615772?mt=11

What else? I have been learning to tile with my bathroom reno. It is nearly done and I expect to do the grouting and last of the painting tomorrow. Maybe the baseboard goes back over the weekend. The jury is out over that one as we are babysitting one of the little guys while his parents go to a party.

It is like being transported back in time to be around the little guys. I think what gets me most is the little arms reaching  and tugging on the pant legs because someone small wants to be picked up. The difference this time is the tricks are so transparent when they do something to get mom’s attention. I am just waiting for the quiet smile when they win. In that respect, little boys are no different from little girls, both utterly adorable.

Not a lot of action.

It  was a bit of a nothing day. Very hot and with a storm ever looming, my office was not the most comfortable place to be sitting after 9.00am. This is part the reason why I get up so early. Anyhow, got another drape made and just in time to stop the sun shining in and heating the place up. I have a sun repellent lining on my drapes so they don’t fade and shut out maximum rays. I was working on the last one, in between scooting up to sit in front of a fan to cool down, while I waited for the roofing guy to turn up.

No Limit Roofing out of Devon did an amazing job of supplying us with a new lid for our house. We were starting to get curly shingles with the old one and the roof looked a tad wavy. Yep, nine new sheets of decking had to be laid on the rafters. We are good to go.

Funny thing about a neighborhood, but if they are all built at more or less the same time, then they all need new shingles in unison. Yes, there are quite a few that need new lids around and about.

Writing? A friend posted about killing a character and how that affects an author. Oh boy, yes it does. While I might not be George Martin in my murderous intentions, I do occasionally have to kill a character and it hurts. I will cry for hours over something that never existed. If I really need to kill a character, then so must it be, however sad and upset I am. I have only ever unkilled a character once. I am not saying where and it probably won’t happen again. It was brought to my attention that I had pissed off just about every beta reader in no uncertain terms. After due reflection, I realised the character had more life in them and more story to tell. I then suffered a creative hernia unkilling that character. I say it won’t happen again as I am now a lot more careful of my characters. Oh and yes, I know I didn’t say him or her. Maybe it will be in the book coming in September?

Happy Canada Day

And to celebrate, how about a competition? Lets make this fun and simple. How about we find the best recipe for lasagne? Who doesn’t like lasagne? Any takers, there is a corner over there and a paper bag to pull over your head while the rest of us play. 

Rules. It has to be good. It can be out of a book, but in that case, please give credit to the author. It can be traditional Italian, or otherwise. It can be vegetarian. So we post a recipe here and people try it out and rate it from 1-10 with 10 being high. 

I think this will have to be a competition lasting until Thanksgiving as people will need to try out different recipes. Oh, and because there are two Thanksgiving dates, lets go with the American one in November and not the Canadian one in October. 

Prize? How about a copy of one of my ebooks for the recipe with the highest score? I will have another one out by the end of the competiton, so there will be a bigger selection. 

Anyone like to start? Please post here in the comments. I will put my favorite recipe tomorrow.