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FFF cover v1.1

Dark Tales and Flash Fun – new release

Okay, so what is Dark Tales and Flash Fun all about? Well, here’s the introduction from the book… I think it explains it pretty well.

Over the years, I’ve written a lot of words. Most of my efforts were focussed on novels but between the books, or at times when ideas were maturing, I penned a number of short stories and quite a few drabbles (stories which are exactly 100 words long). Dark Tales and Flash Fun is a collection of these bits and pieces. There’s no connecting theme other than each work is designed to be entertaining, frightening or intriguing.

In part,I wanted to create an easy way for people to find out a bit about me and my writing without having to dive straight into the trilogy. I also wanted to gather together  a lot of the various bits of my work in one place. If nothing else, that allowed me to tidy up my computer files… now I just need to sort out all the ideas I have in notebooks and on scraps of paper.

I hope some of you get the chance to check out the book. Here’s the blurb:

FFF cover v1.1In this anthology of wonderfully imagined tales we encounter captivating twists and turns, laugh out loud moments and intriguing entertainment from start to finish. The subject matter includes leprechauns and vampires, Hollywood and electric chairs… there’s even a seasick seagull.

Dark Tales and Flash Fun brings together the author’s extensive collection of drabbles (100 word stories) with three of his fascinating and rather disturbing short stories.

Dark Tales and Flash Fiction is available from Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble/Nook, Kobo and Scribd.

Dark Tidings Front Cover

Dark Tidings – Setting the Scene

In the first few paragraphs of Dark Tidings, I tried to set the scene for one of the threads of the adventure. Tung, one of the main protagonists, finds himself awaiting execution in a medieval dungeon and I wanted to create the sense of utter despair and hopelessness which he felt.

I think it works well as a scene-setter but I often wonder whether there’s enough in it to hook potential readers. Using Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature, many people check out the first few pages so grabbing the attention is vital.

The other attention-grabber is the blurb and I’ve included what I use for Dark Tidings below. Again, I wonder if it contains enough hooks to make people want to read more i.e. buy the book.

What do you think?

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Chapter 1 – No Rest for the Wicked

Way back in the medieval mists of time, long before most people counted which century was which, Tung shivered violently on the ice-cold stone floor of the executioner’s dungeon.

Dark, dank and putrid were the words an unscrupulous property merchant might have used to glamorise this miserable dungeon, no words were hideous or nauseating enough to describe the true horror of this dreadful place. To be fair though, it wasn’t all bad, at least the green slime, which oozed like pus from small cracks in the walls, added some colour to the drab greyness.

Tung huddled in the darkest corner of the freezing granite cell wishing he was dead. He wouldn’t have to wait long for his wish to come true because he was due to be tortured to death the very next day. Roll on death, it couldn’t come a moment too soon. He was soaking wet, bruised, starving and parched with thirst. Yes, roll on death.

All he could do was pray for the merciful nothingness of sleep before the excruciating morning. He tossed and turned like an agitated foetus. How could anyone sleep in this frightful place? Hands over ears, he tried to shut out the sounds of torturers’ hammers smashing bones, the metallic clunk of ratchets on the racks and the anguished screams which echoed forlornly down stone corridors. Rank stenches crept under the door to assault his nostrils, the acrid stink of flesh seared by white-hot branding irons overwhelming the other odours of human sweat, urine and excrement. Wails of despair reverberated inside his head. Did these evil tormentors never rest?

By some miracle, his brain dragged his tortured body into an uneasy slumber. Praise the gods for the gift of sleep, at least he still had this last sanctuary. His nightmares replayed his pathetic life as his subconscious tried to figure out how he’d ended up in this pitiful mess. The work of the devil, no doubt – with a little help from his fiends.

Chapter 1 continues in the book.

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As I said, the blurb is another key part of the challenge to attract readers and it also helps set the scene for the story. Here’s what I use for Dark Tidings:

What happens when ancient magic meets the internet? One thing is certain, modern life will never be the same again.

A thousand years ago, a young thief, Tung, and a disgraced wizard, Madrick, are thrust together in an executioner’s dungeon. In the darkness, Madrick reveals an incredible secret about a legendary spell. The great spell helps them escape their prison cell… and eventually their century.

Catapulted into the present day, their lives collide with Michael, a computer hacker who plans to destroy the world’s largest bank. But sinister people are tracking their every move and they will stop at nothing to steal their spell.

Funny and frightening, Dark Tidings is book one of the spellbinding ‘Ancient Magic Meets the Internet’ trilogy.

What do you think about both the opening of chapter 1 and the blurb? Any constructive comments are always gratefully received.

Dark Tidings is available from Amazon.

Fangs

Party Animals

Fangs

This is an extract from a short piece which was written as a ‘guest appearance spot’ for the book Happy Halloween, a collaborative publication by authors A.K. Michaels, C.S. Bailey, Nav Logan and Rick Haynes.

Read the complete story at Party Animals continued

The fabulous picture represents one of DJ Marilyn Grotesque’s lovely ladies. It was photographed by  Justine Davinia Simone and shows off the amazing fangs which are from Teeth By Dnash.

 

Party Animals

I made my name in the deejaying world by being bizarre. I mean, even my name, DJ Marilyn Grotesque, offers the punters a clue to the sort of show I put on.

I’ve modelled myself on Marilyn Manson in his Tainted Love video. I stride into ordinary, regular parties and turn them into freak shows. Party hosts who want to shock their guests, love me. I always give them a show they’ll never forget.

Tonight’s booking is my best payday ever, so I’m determined not to disappoint.

My black 1970 Lincoln Continental low-rider scrunches to a halt on the gravel drive at the front of the impressive mansion. Tonight it’s going to be DJ Marilyn’s mansion. My driver hits the pneumatics and the front of the car bounces like a kangaroo on steroids. A low banshee screech emanates from under the hood. I want everyone to know that the main act has arrived. Be scared party guests, be very scared.

I look out through the black tinted windows and smile. People have streamed out of the house to see what the commotion is. They gasp and point as my car goes through its routine of bounces and bumps and grinds. I’m nearly ready. The scene is primed and set for another spectacular entrance.

I slip in my thousand dollar false fangs. They look so real; worth every cent I paid. Mind you, no one will see them until the moment is right. I shove open the car door and glide out onto the steps which lead up to the house. I can feel every pair of eyes on me. Do they think I’m a dead man walking? My white make-up, blue lipstick and black eyeshadow would even fool a qualified pathologist, well at a distance they might. Dressed in black from head to foot, I stride up the steps.

I feel the mood change when my girls emerge from the car; my five beautiful, sexy vamps strut up the steps behind me. Their skimpy black leather outfits look as if they’d be more at home in a brothel rather than this posh person’s party.  The girls have only one job; tease the guests, men and women, and draw them into an intimate web of expectation. Later, when the tension is at its height, and I give the signal, my little darlings will scare the life out of everyone around them with a show of their fangs; not as realistic as my thousand dollar pair, but real enough to freak most normal folk.

Me and my entourage bundle our way through the entrance hall. I’m heading for the little stage which houses my turntables and the controls for the lights, and fog machine, and flash bang maker. As I push my way through the gaping guests, my girls peel off and start seducing their victims. By the time I’ve reached the stage, all my girls are already hard at work, flaunting their leather clad bodies in the faces of their unsuspecting prey.

“Okay people,” I shout into the mike. “I’m DJ Marilyn Grotesque, let’s get this parrrr-teeee started.”


Read the complete story at Party Animals continued

Rick Haynes’ Evil Never Dies

Rick reading bookAs a follow on to my introduction post about the ART authors (see footnote re ART), I’d like to give you a bit more of an insight into the writing of Rick Haynes. As you can see from his Amazon Author Page, Rick has published quite a range of work but I’d like to share the blurb and the prologue from book #1 of his Maxilla Tales, Evil Never Dies.


The Blurb

Evil Never DiesThe Maxilla are a peaceful clan but can they survive the latest threat from Myracadonis, the shaman? Tarn is ordered to lead the Maxilla into battle for the first time, but a man with the mark of greatness will always have enemies. Grona hates everyone, including his son, Tarn. Both men are destined to be heroes yet only one can stand before the gates of hell and win.

The gods are always watching, but whose side will they ultimately favour?

The Prologue

The mountains formed after the lands had been covered in fire, lava and ash. Ice had shaped valleys and the wind and rain had scoured the summits into jagged peaks. Immune to any hardship and interference, only the gods lived in such desolate places. From their lofty domain they looked down on the world of man.

On the lower slope of Mount Soar, a vast number of caves ran through the mountain. Deep and gloomy they served as scant protection for the few animals that dared to wander so high and as a refuge for the seldom seen humans.

Two men sat around a blazing fire in one of the upper caves. A copper pot boiled. One stirred the contents, looking hopeful that the meat would soon be cooked. He shivered constantly, his hand automatically stirring faster.

Long dark clothes swathed the other. A wide-brimmed floppy hat obscured his thin bony face, weathered by time. Yet everything about him was illusory, for he could sit naked in a snow drift and be unconcerned, whereas his companion would freeze in an instant without his help.

He loved the entertainment; humans were usually predictable, yet some could still surprise him. But he had learnt that the body of a frail old man always yielded the best results.

“What is your name, human?”

“Ernon … the lame. What should I call you … lord?”

“You, my cold friend … you may call me Titian. So, tell me what you want.”

“I want power, to control them and take my revenge.”

“Really?”

“Yes my lord. I have studied the dark side of magic and can readily proceed with the ten incantations.”

“Yes! Yes! Admittedly, you have a talent for cruelty and minor magic otherwise you would not be sitting here, but are you ready to give up many years of your life to learn the secrets of the dark arts? The teaching never ceases, for as you learn you move on to the next level of understanding. But remember, if you fail, death is inevitable.”

Looking at the frailty of the man stirring a hot stew did not fill Titian with any great confidence, but the mortal’s eager nod swayed him.

“You will endure pain unlike any other as your mind is exposed and altered. Your body will shrink and grow as I deem fit. At some point you will fall on your knees and beg to die. By then, it will be too late. The gods will own you body and soul, and only they, will allow your demise. This is the point of no return, Ernon. Take it … or maybe freeze.”


Exciting stuff, eh? Why not treat yourself and grab a copy of Evil Never Dies?


ART logo wip offset

ART – Authors and Readers Together
ART is a banner under which a group of like-minded authors are working collaboratively with their readers to create stories designed to entertain, enchant and amaze. I’ll be using this logo on all ART related posts so keep your eyes peeled.


And Then Three Come Along All at Once

Is there anything more satisfying than finding a great, new writer to feed your reading habit? Well, how about discovering three all at the same time? These guys all have their own styles and unique imaginations. Even the way they describe themselves gives you a clue about their fascinating backgrounds; backgrounds which enrich their writing.

Give yourselves a treat and check out their books via the links below.

Guy Donovan

Daddy and 'Cerys'In the 1990s and 2000s, I worked on both television and feature films as an animator and storyboard artist/designer for Marvel Films, Hanna-Barbera, Sony Pictures, DreamWorks SKG, and Warner Bros Feature Animation, amongst others.

Now I work for the U.S. Government in return for a steady paycheck and job security, allowing me to continue my wasteful habits of eating and providing for my family.

I live in North Dakota, USA with my wife and daughter. Creatively starved by my government job, I turned to writing at the advice of my wife, a fellow Hollywood expatriate who writes both screenplays and novels. That led to my current obsession with 5th century Wales, which is the setting of my ‘Dragon’s Treasure’ series. The first two novels, ‘The Forgotten Princess of Môna’ and ‘A Cold, White Home’ are currently available as e-books and I continue toward completing the final two installments, which are written but as yet untitled.

Find out more at Guy’s Amazon author page.

Nav Logan

NavMany years ago, when I was just a small boy gazing in wonder at his first chest hair, I decided that I was going to become a tramp. I was going to drop out and go to Strathclyde. Why Strathclyde? God only knows, but every man must have a goal in life. Being an engineer or a pilot didn’t cut it for me. My soul was filled with wanderlust and the need for adventure.

So, after leaving home, I dropped out. I even went to Strathclyde, passing through it in a sleepy haze while being rocked gently to slumber in the passenger seat of an unknown truck.

Since then, I have done many things and seen many places, always following my instincts and trusting in my destiny. I am self-taught in many things; a jack of all trades and a master at none, but I’ve always got by. A strong self-belief has brought me through many adversities. I try to be the best I can be and often fail, but I continue, nevertheless.

I’ve been writing since I was that small boy, mainly poems and an occasional short story. Maerlin’s Storm was first written over a decade ago. It wasn’t something I planned to do. I didn’t wake up and say, I’m going to be an author. Far from it. Like many things in my life, it all started with a dream. The next morning, I wrote a poem. Later, it became a story and this small seed became my beanstalk. People read it and enjoyed it, but then life became busy again. For many years the story sat, collecting dust. It would have stayed on the shelf, forgotten, but fate had other plans.

I now have 5 published novels. Three are part of the Storm-Bringer Saga, an Epic Fantasy series. I also published a collection of drabbles and poems: Little Words … Full of Big Worlds, a collection of short stories and drabbles: Bananas in my Shorts, and a collaboration short story.

Find out more at Nav’s Amazon author page.

Rick Haynes

rick haynesHi, my name is Rick Haynes. I am an author and award winning Drabblist.

My passion is medieval fantasy but I also write short stories and Drabbles in many different genres.

This is my world.

Ever upwards, never stopping, the staircase to the heavens awaits all those wishing to dream.

And all you have to do is place one foot on the first step.

Consider the endless possibilities, as you climb higher and higher.

Boredom is unknown in my time and space, for can you not see the stars sparkling bright, ready to enlighten you?

Is your mind ready to absorb the endless possibilities of a million words?

And are you ready to join me on a magical journey?

I will embrace you with open arms.

And welcome you into the world of my imagination.

Find out more at Rick’s Amazon author page.


ART logo wip offset

ART – Authors and Readers Together
ART is a banner under which a group of like-minded authors are working collaboratively with their readers to create stories designed to entertain, enchant and amaze. I’ll be using this logo on all ART related posts so keep your eyes peeled.


 

Photo by Claire Wilson lle-photography.co.uk

A Darker Shade of Chocolate

I’m delighted to welcome Rosen Trevithick here on a leg of the blog tour to launch her Chocolate Making Adventures book.

When an author is ‘on tour’ to promote a book, it can be difficult for them to write new and original content, particularly when trying to link the content to a particular theme. Well, I have a lot of wizards on my site and, fortunately, making a wizard is just the kind of thing which her Chocolate Making Adventures teaches you to do.

So without any further introduction, Rosen explains how to make a chocolate wizard from scratch!

How to Make a Dark (Chocolate) Wizard

TrollsFirstly, you need to make your own silicone mould. In my book, I demonstrate using a troll mould as an example, but the same technique can easily be used to create a wizard. Without giving too much away, you need to buy some silicone putty and some oven-hardening modelling clay. You make a wizard from the clay, bake it until hard, then press the putty around it. Once the putty sets, you remove your clay and are left with your very own wizard mould.

The next thing to do, is make some plain chocolate. Yes, I did say make plain chocolate – none of that buying chocolate and melting it down malarkey – this isn’t the 00ies. My book tells you how to make the darkest chocolate in the universe, using cocoa butter, cocoa powder and honey. Making chocolate involves heat, so your chocolate mixture will turn out molten. Pour it into your wizard mould, plonk it in the fridge and wait.

After an hour, carefully press the chocolate from the mould, and there you have it, your very own dark wizard.

If you would like more detailed instructions about how to make your own chocolate wizard, you can buy Chocolate Making Adventures in both paperback and eBook formats.

To see lots of other exciting chocolate ideas why not check out my recipe blog or to find out more about my book please click here Chocolate Making Adventures.

Chocolate Making Adventures

Photo by Claire Wilson lle-photography.co.uk

Thank you and remember to eat chocolate responsibly!


rosen-trevithick

Rosen Trevithick has a variety of books in print including My Granny Writes Erotica – Threesome, Pompomberry House and two Seesaw collections, as well as over a dozen digital titles.

In 2013 she founded the Smelly Troll series – children’s chapter books written by Rosen and illustrated by Katie W. Stewart. The series, which begins with The Troll Trap, has inspired hundreds of children to get involved in creative writing.

Rosen writes in a variety of genres with a strong leaning towards comedy. She has also dabbled in psychological fiction and mystery writing.


 

festival of Drabbles

Festival of Drabbles 2015

The amazing Micheal Brookes has come up with the idea of a festival of drabbles. In his words, here are his ideas so far and I’m certainly delighted to support his endeavours.

The first Festival of Drabbles will start on November 9th and run until the 15th. It will be a week long celebration of drabbles and the art of drabble writing including some of the finest drabblists in the world.

If you’re new to drabbles then they are a form of flash fiction in which the story is told in exactly 100 words. I’ve been a fan of the drabble form since they were introduced as a daily feature in the Indie Book Bargains newsletter (now Book Hippo) a few years ago.

As a writer it’s a challenge of economy and editing to tell a story in so few words. It’s also an excellent way to play with new ideas and to explore areas that you normally wouldn’t. As a reader I enjoy a bite sized tale in those few quiet minutes in the day. They’ve also introduced to me to new authors whose work I would otherwise have missed.

It’s a form that deserves greater recognition and so Michael is organising a week of drabble related reading and activities. He already has plans for how his blog The Cult of Me will contribute to International Drabble Week. He’ll share these nearer the time, but one thing is certain, it will include a drabble competition.

How can you help? For now the first job is to raise awareness for this first Festival of Drabbles, so if you have access to any of the following channels then please do the following:

If you have a blog or website then post an announcement for the Festival, you are free to use the logo and text for this purpose.

If you are on Facebook then join the event, invite any friends that you think would be interested and share the event on your timeline and any appropriate groups you participate in.

If you’re on Twitter then tweet a link to this event and if you can use the #festivalofdrabbles hashtag that would be great!

Learn more about Michael at his The Cult of Me blog or check out his guest drabble Clowns.

And don’t forget, if you fancy having a go at a drabble, please check out Are You a Secret Drabblist?

Good luck, Michael, I hope your Festival is a stunning success.

Dark Tidings Front Cover

Win a free copy of Dark Tidings

Simply pop your name and email address into the box on the right and you’ll be entered into a raffle for free eBook copies of Dark Tidings… book 1 in the ‘ancient magic meets the Internet’ trilogy.

Here’s the blurb…

What happens when ancient magic meets the internet? One thing is certain, modern life will never be the same again.

A thousand years ago, a young thief, Tung, and a disgraced wizard, Madrick, are thrust together in an executioner’s dungeon.

In the darkness, Madrick reveals an incredible secret about a legendary spell. The great spell helps them escape their prison cell… and eventually their century. Catapulted into the present day, their lives collide with Michael, a computer hacker who plans to destroy the world’s largest bank. But sinister people are tracking their every move and they will stop at nothing to steal their spell.

Dark Tidings is book one of the spellbinding Dark Tidings trilogy. It’s funny and frightening… and it will open you eyes to the dark conspiracy which is going on all around us.

chewy

Collective Nouns

What do you call a pair of crows? Answer – attempted murder.

This type of joke is from a genre called highbrow humour. Why… because you have to have some specific knowledge before you can understand the joke. In this attempted murder case (pun intended) you have to know that the collective noun for three or more crows is a murder. Ah, now the joke makes sense… and leads us nicely into what this post is actually about i.e. collective nouns.

It never ceases to amaze me just how many collective nouns there are in the English language. For example, we have a murder of crows (you knew that!), a belt of asteroids, a cackle of hyenas, a flight of stairs, a sentence of judges, an impatience of wives and a den of thieves. These ones are fairly normal and, I’d guess, fairly widely known. If you Google ‘collective nouns’ you’ll find a wealth of words describing nearly every group imaginable. Even with the abundance of official collective nouns, there are still a lot of groups which have yet to be allocated their own special word.

Here are a few suggestions which could fill the some of the gaps:

  • A blaze of firemen
  • A smothering of Social Workers
  • A gathering of combine harvesters
  • A shoal of nudists
  • A wunch of bankers
  • A collection of philatelists
  • A camp of bell-ringers
  • A heard of listeners
  • A number of mathematicians
  • A drift of castaways
  • A pouch of Chewbaccas
Any more for any more? For example, what is the above group of collective nouns called?
The Black Conspiracy Front Cover

The Black Conspiracy

Ancient magic has infected the Internet… is this the end for civilisation?

The ancient magic which transported Tung, a young thief, and Madrick, a has-been wizard, across a millennium has now infected the Internet and civilisation simply can’t handle the consequences.

To make matters worse, evil wizards have followed the pair through time. They’re determined to hunt them down, steal the great magic scroll and use its power to destroy our modern way of life.

Saving the world just got a whole lot harder.

The Black Conspiracy is book two of the spellbinding Dark Tidings trilogy.