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Sunday 28 April 2013

Cover Art Reveal & Give Away- Blood Moon Dance

Blood Moon Dance will be released next week. Here's a sneak peek at the cover art for you.

The WolfSong cover will be re-designed on a similar theme; although I love the old cover, I'd like to see if a new, simpler version has an impact. 

If you'd like an ARC copy of Blood Moon Dance, I have 10 e-book versions to give away - let me know in the comments. 

Blood Moon follows straight on from WolfSong, but can also be read as a stand alone; it features Amber and Jadah investigating a serial killer mystery in a village close to the border of the Crescent.

Saturday 27 April 2013

Strange Day of the Week - Moments of aargh!(again)

Anyone reading this blog regularly know that strange things tend to happen to me. Occasionally they involve pigeons. Every so often I have a day where so many moments of WTF occur, my brain shuts down trying to process it. For your reading pleasure, I present : Thursday. (Note - although weird stuff happened during the day, it was mainly job related, so not included. Although threatening to head-butt your PC screen gets you very disapproving looks from IT.)

Moment 1 :

Reaching the train station, looking down, and realising I'm wearing my new slippers. These aren't the type of slippers that can pass as shoes if you squint either; they have fluff. And ears. Go home to change into actual boots, and realise that I can now feel every stone, slimy puddle, and bit of nastiness that doubles as a London pavement, even in this little outpost of the city. The slippers are unsalvageable.

Moment 2 :

Get home from work, and can't get my key to turn in the front door. This door has been a pain since we moved into the flat; the wood swells and warps every time it rains and I've had a few moments of struggling to get it open. Choice: call a locksmith (mucho, mucho money would go winging it's way out of my bank account. I can see the wingbeats when I think about it) or call Mandy and Tim. Tim is a big lad - I'm five three by the skin of my teeth, and the top of my head doesn't quite reach his chest. Mandy send Tim thundering down the road to my place, and I spend the time waiting visualising what sort of superhero cape he'd wear.

Tim crosses the road, rolling his shoulders in anticipation; I need in that door. My bladder is singing Ave Maria, my feet hurt, and my Nando's is staring up at me. Either we get that key turned or the door is saying fare-thee-well to this world. Tim shoves the door a few times. He doesn't want to kick it in and turns sad, puppy dog eyes on me. Then he reaches through the letterbox, pulls the door in, and turns the key in one easy motion, opening the door. I feel remarkable stupid at this point in time. My bladder thinks he's a god.

Moment 3 :

I climb into bed at the end of a long day and hear a ping. Followed by a clunk. Then another ping. When I turn on the light and look under the bed, there are a couple of bolts lying on the floor. My bed base appears to be dismantling itself. As I watch, another washer answers the call of gravity and drops, missing my nose by an inch. The bolt that follows doesn't miss at all. At which point I utter a phrase that would have my mother reaching for the soap. I picture myself trying to fix it, and decide that if the bloody thing does collapse, it's not that far to the floor anyway. I put a plaster on my nose and get back into bed. Every couple of hours I wake up to a creak-ping-clunk noise, although the bed is still standing in the morning.

My theory? Thursday was the day this week that the Universe made itself some popcorn and settled in to watch me, while pointing and laughing. The Nando's was pretty good, though.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Blood Moon Dance - sneak peek

Blood Moon Dance is a short novella set in the WolfSong universe.  It follows the events in WolfSong, and concerns Amber and Jadah getting caught up in a little bit of murder and intrigue in a village on their way out of the Crescent. 

It should be up on Amazon over the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime, here's an excerpt to whet your appetite.

The usual caveats apply - things may change on the final edit, and strong language is definitely involved. The scene below is from the second chapter, where Amber gets to meet a family of werewolves. Tension and hi-jinks commence.


“Welcome to my house, hawk,” Grandmother said. “Make yourself comfortable.”
Amber perched casually on the edge of a stool with her back against a wall. “You have a lovely home,” she said.
“Thank you. Although I regret that our hospitality has been somewhat lacking so far.”
“May I speak plainly?” Amber asked, and watched the woman’s eyes veil.
“You may.” The werewolf jerked her head at Kier, who stepped back out into the passage.
Amber leaned forward and folded her hands over the top of her knee. “I don’t harm children. I don’t kill unless it’s necessary, and I especially don’t kill people just because they’re afraid of me. But I’m guessing you knew that already.”
Grandmother said nothing.
“Are we doing with the tests?” Amber asked quietly. “You sent your lad to ask for aid, so you knew cursed well what I am. I’m not interested in a pissing match with an alpha.”
Grandmother blinked.
“So tell me, before we move onto other things, why you put a child with a bow that’s too big and heavy for her into your pantry, with her sire in a room I was about to walk through, and told her how big and bad and scary I am?” She felt her hair lift and stir and didn’t fight it. Some of the stories were true, and she was annoyed right now. Not truly angry, or there would have been blood on the floor right now, but she was hot and sweaty and tired, and she had no interest in proving herself here. She’d done her time on the battlefield.
Grandmother sighed. “There is a story that we heard, here on the edge of the Crescent. It tells of a hawk who slew her mate because he was infected with the wolf virus.” She watched Amber carefully. “Then there is a second story. It tells of a hawk who welcomed a wolf into her squad, and fought by his side when his own kind disowned him. And both these stories have been added to recently, and the bards have mentioned that the hawk now travels through the world.”
“The world is a great deal bigger than the Crescent,” Amber told her.  “And the average bard is so full of shit they squeak turning corners.”
The werewolf watched her with those half-closed eyes and waited. Amber sighed, and felt her hair subside.
“Why a spatula?” she asked.
“Why a spatula? Sam was in a kitchen full of knives, heavy pots, and a bunch of other stuff. Why was he holding a spatula? Tell me, and I’ll tell you which version of the tale is true.”
For a bit of background, although I've been working on the full-length follow-up to WolfSong, this little story was originally triggered by the anthology theme I was invited to submit to. (Check it out here on Indiegogo - we have funky videos and everything.) I ended up writing the first draft on my phone on the way to and from work (free word apps; gotta love 'em) and then of course, it ended up being way, waaaay too long. But I liked it, and it just kept going, so it's ended up hitting novella status instead of the 3K mark. I can live with that - and there are worse ways to spend the daily commute in London.

Sunday 21 April 2013

How to get stuck in your washing machine : A guide for the beginner

About thirty minutes before I was due to leave the house for a visit to Tim and Mandy (my guest stars from the day at the funfair a couple of posts back), I went to haul a load of washing out of the machine.
 I'd climbed out of the bath, thrown a long button down shirt on so's not to flash the guys working in the garage at the back, and realised that I needed to hang the stuff up otherwise it would reek by the time I got in.

To put things into perspective, there's a running joke about the washing machine at my house being possessed. It has moments, like trundling halfway across the kitchen floor during the spin cycle, or rocking gently from side to side, when I wonder if that's really a joke.

I got most of the load out. Stuck my hand in for last little bundle of socks and realised I couldn't pull it back out.

One of the buttons on my shirt sleeve was just the right size to fit into those funny little circles punched in the drum of the machine, and it was wedged very firmly in.

I wiggled. I waggled. I manually rotated the drum, which was a mistake. Fifteen minutes later I was lying on the floor, staring glumly at the ceiling with my cuff still attached firmly to the washing machine, and very happy that I hadn't actually dislocated my shoulder when the drum moved.   

Thankfully the shirt is loose-fitting, so at this point I gave up and wriggled out of it, then ended up squatting on the floor like a morose chimp plucking at the sleeve still stuck to the machine. Due to the layout of the kitchen, even duck-walking would have shown the mechanics a few things they don't normally see while working on a faulty battery, and army crawling would probably have given them the ultimate come-to-Jesus moment, so that was out.

I had to get the shirt out. Of course, since I was no longer attached to the bloody thing, it popped out without a problem, so I shrugged back into it, sulked back to my room, and texted Mandy to say I was running late due to an argument with the washing machine. (I have no idea what she said out loud when she saw that text, but I'm pretty sure she was giggling.)

The evening was great - Tim is the burger king, and I got devils food cake, and we watched Cockneys vs Zombies, which is one of the best giggles I've had in a while. I knocked over my first drink, quite an achievement since it was in a cup holder built into the arm of the chair I was in, and fell over my own two feet when I attempted the couch.

Then I got home, and part of the ceiling grew eight legs and dropped onto my shoulder. Being arachnaphobic, my first response was to punch my own shoulder repeatedly, so I now have a sore hand, a sore shoulder, and no clue where the Spawn of Satan actually went to.

I'm never bored. I'd like to try it sometime, preferably in a non-painful, spider-free environment.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Meet the fifth Horseman, Sniffles

It's been a long week. It started with a tech malfunction at work, where our internal computers went to the great big server in the sky until BT came out the following day and replaced the cable (it wasn't me this time, at least. IT guys said so) and continued with the tube hiccuping yesterday resulting in an hour and half journey into the office. 

Today was spent playing catch-up, and dealing with the Spreadsheet of Doom, and by the time I left I had low blood sugar from not eating and was feeling mildly homicidal.

I change onto the overland train at Walthamstow to get to my little village just outside of London proper, and at this time in the evening it's usually quiet. The sardine rush has ended, people are more relaxed, and you can even get a seat.

Tonight was, er, special. Tonight, I am convinced I had the lesser known 5th horseman of the apocalypse in the seat behind me.

Usually I write on the way in and out - I've got a great free little app on my phone, and I plug in my music, flick the screen on, and spend around thirty minutes happily jabbing at the on-screen keyboard. Tonight I was too mentally stunned to do much more than haul my kindle out and get stuck into the latest book (Annetta Ribken's The Fantasy. I love that woman's writing. Wish there was more of it.) and hope I wouldn't fall asleep on the train. Snoring in public gets humiliating, ya know?

Half a page in, the saddest noise in the world rises from the seat behind me.


Followed by one of the most horrifying sounds found on London transport:


Then back to the zombie moment of the day.

"Oooooaaahoooo -*sniff* awk."

I found my earphones. Started off with The Killers.

Over the music, I could still hear it. 

*HACK*sniff* "OOOOaaaauggh!"

Moving the selection onto Queens of the Stone Age didn't help. The banshee wailing behind me grew louder. The guy standing against the door turned around. We looked at each and shrugged.

"AAAAOOOOOOOOawk." pause. *sniffsniff*

With five minutes to go I switched to Rammstein. That stuff is good for squalling babies and toddlers up to around 120 decibels.


Any woman that can out-sniff, out-moan, and out-cough Rammstein deserves respect, and a very wide berth.

I lunged for the train door as soon as it opened and fled into open air.

Behind me, the wailing noise of the undercover horseman, the one that left before they got their big break, turned in the other direction and thankfully, started to wane.


Sunday 14 April 2013

Thoughts for the week - equal marriage/relationship rights

1) If you are spending all of your time worrying about what consenting adults do in the bedroom, it says a great deal more about you and your private fantasies than the group you are fixated on. Get over it, or download better porn.

2) Marriage is a governmental institution. You change your name, bank accounts and legal documents for tax and information purposes. Weddings are conducted by churches. The arguments by elements of both groups against equal rights for everybody are remarkably similar to arguments posed against equal rights for people who had a darker skin tone several years ago. Hopefully in ten years time it will be considered as unacceptable as overt racism is today. 

3) BTW, church groups - you do realise you make a large percentage of your income overcharging people to hold weddings under your roof, right? You might want to think about the economic benefits you're currently trying to hit on the head with a shovel. There's a whole bunch of stuff in the bible conservatives keep waving around about not mixing fabrics, or eating certain things, or not being tattooed, and not coveting spouses or material goods - let me know how all of that's working out for you. The Sodom and Gomorrah argument falls flat on its face when you read that properly and realise that issue wasn't against gay sex, it was against the rules of hospitality. (Also, I have a few issues with someone happily offering over his daughters to get raped instead. Not exactly a fan, here.)

4) The whole unnatural argument doesn't work if you wear clothes, cook your food, and don't live in either a cave or a tree. None of those are exactly natural for a bipedal mammal. Same sex intercourse, on the other hand, occurs across a variety of species.

5) If you equate homosexuality with child abuse, see point one. Also, get a good psychiatrist.

6) If you use a position of power or a platform to abuse people because of their sexual orientation, skin colour, or religious beliefs, you are a bully. You are also seeking attention in the form of headlines and you-tube clips. Media fame is fleeting, and to keep its attention you have to come up with more and more outrageous, inflammatory statements. When the flames die down, you are left in cold ashes and bitterness, and all the hurt you caused is left for future generations to point at in horror. What you do will be taught in history books as an example of hate and misery, and at the end of it you will still be that sad, lonely little person who bullied someone else to hide their personal shame and misery.

7) If you want to change the world, stop hating. Stop fearing those different to you. We don 't hold parades for people who caused lasting harm fifty years after they've left this world. We remember the words and the actions of people who inspired us, those that stood up in the face of injustice and told it "This has to stop." Courage is found in people who stand up. Cowardice is usually found in fear of change, fear of difference. Which one do you want to be remembered for?

Sunday 7 April 2013

Shooting Tigers, and other Things to Do at A Funfair

Since my birthday next week hits in the middle of the work-day, today was declared my official "Not Birthday." Stacey and I met up with friends, Tim and Mandy, and we hit the spring fair on in town this weekend. (It may be the shortest fair visit in history, but we'll get to that shortly).

It started innocently enough. We wandered in, Mandy and I both bouncing around like puppies. I love fairs, mainly because I'm an adrenaline junkie. Fast rides are designed for people like me, and they push all my happy buttons.

The first stall we stopped was the shooting stall. Tim showed off with the rifle, and won a stuffed teddy, promptly allocated to the cat. The stall also had crossbows, and a woman running the stall who may be suicidal; she had no compunction about stepping out in front of three of us (myself, Tim and Stacey) all happily plugging away at the targets.

Since Stacey came within about a split second of shooting Suicidal Stall Lady in the butt at least once, this was not a good thing.

I needed help pulling the string back. I have no idea what the pound pull on those things were, but I eventually swopped withTim since his was easier. Being a Walking Dead fan, I kept thinking we needed a squirrel. Between that, Suicidal Stall Lady, and the variety of stuffed animals above and in between the targets, my aim was terrifying. I shot a stuffed tiger. Twice. In the same ear. I never came close to hitting the bulls eye.

Then we ended up at the tilting cups, which marked the beginning of the end.

Tim and Mandy shared a car, and Stacey and I the one just in front. It started off sweetly enough. Tim, who tops out at around 6ft7" squished Mandy into the corner on the first turn.
Our car swung genteelly around the loop on a gale of laughter, and I turned around to find a kid of about ten tugging on the back of it to spin it again. 

Turned out, the kid (obviously part of the ride team) and the older guy running it, ran from car to car and spun each of them as hard as they could for the entire ride. I don't think I've ever seen that before.

The ride lasted a decent amount of time, and I was relaxing nicely. Yes, high speeds and whirly motions relax me. No idea why, but I just find it soothing. About half way into the ride, we realised that the laughter and delight from the car behind us had dried up. On a swing around, we caught a glimpse of Tim and Mandy, slightly green around the edges, car handle clutched in a four-handed death grip. As our cup tilted away again, I saw the ride guy, grinning his head off, tugging on the back of their car.

"Oh, shame," Stacey said.
Behind us, Tim made a noise that sounded remarkably like a baby goat saying fare-thee-well to its mommy, and Mandy whimpered.
"That's not good," I said back.
Tim screamed like a little girl. 

At some point one of the ride guys exerted himself a little too much, and farted. We spent the next rotation trying not to breath, and laughing so hard we were crying.

Shortly afterwards, Stacey and I tumbled out of the car and off the platform, still giggling. After a few minutes, the sorriest looking pair of fun-fair zombies I've ever seen lurched off behind us. 
They were green. They walked very slowly, and very carefully, and went straight past us, picked their way delicately past the guy ropes of the nearest stall and found themselves on a grassy verge.
At which point they both promptly bowed in unison at the waist, and rendered their tribute unto the God of Nausea. Repeatedly. 

After several tributes, they came shambling back to us. I may have seen sorrier sights, but not by much, and it usually involved a wet cat. And yes, I have to confess that I laughed like hell. (Sorry, guys. I still love you.)

Apart from something called a Disco Tunnel (which was very strange, and resulted in me face-planting almost immediately in the first of two gigantic rotating barrels, and spending the rest of the ride on my back, practising pin-up girl poses against the side), that was the end of our fun-fair outing.

It was the shortest time I think I've ever spent in one. It was also one of the most entertaining.

I brought my two (still whimpering) friends back to my place and fed them burgers, and we're heading out to their spot for my birthday dinner. 

I haven't laughed so much in a long, long time - which proves that even short events are great when you have great people around you.

Friday 5 April 2013

Allegories of the Tarot - New Project on Indiegogo

Last week I got an invite to submit to an anthology by the editor, the amazing Annetta Ribken. (If you write, and you need an editor, go have a look at that link. If you don't, check it out anyway; the lady is all kinds of awesome, and the excerpt of Athena's Promise, Annetta's book, is worth the visit alone.) Now Annetta and I have tortured each other on Facebook for several months; we share a similar warped sense of humour, and it's been a blast, so when the invite came through I said YAY as fast as my fingers could type. 
Then I did a happy dance, and then I checked out the other authors contributing and made a very loud squeaky noise. This bunch are good, folks. As in pure talent and awesomeness - it's going to be one hell of a ride.

The concept really appeals on every level - each author has a card from the major arcana of the tarot assigned to them, and we each write a story associated with this. It looks like we have just about every genre in the mix, from romance to fantasy to horror, and the main requirements are a quality read. Even better, the plan is for both a print version and an e-book, so nobody gets left out. 

Here's the line-up for you:

The Fool-- Peter Giglio
The Magician--Lon Prater
The High Priestess--Billie Sue Mosiman
The Empress--Spike Marlowe
The Emperor--Kris Austen Radcliffe
The Hierophant--Jessica McHugh
The Lovers--Eden Baylee
The Chariot--Annetta Ribken
Strength--Rochelle Maya Callen
The Hermit--Red Tash
The Wheel of Fortune--Joseph Paul Haines
Justice--Catie Rhodes
The Hanged Man--Matthew Bryan
Death--Timothy Smith
Temperance--Anne Chaconas
The Devil--Patti Larsen
The Tower--Jordan L. Hawk
The Star--Samantha Henderson
The Moon--Janet Sked (ME!)
The Sun--Tristan J. Tarwater
Judgment--Jennifer Wingard
The World--Laura Eno

Annetta has gone all out and put the project up on Indiegogo to raise funds for the production of the book, with awesome contributors perks, including an edit package from Annetta for your manuscript. As of writing this, we're up to $890 already - a massive thanks to everyone who's contributed, or just passed on the word. We're all getting clobbered by the economy - every time I check my bank balance, it giggles weakly and flips me the bird - but spreading the word will help us so much.

As a side-effect of the invite, I've got a novella set in the WolfSong world almost ready for publishing (it was intended for the anthology, but that world writes long. Between Amber and Jadah, I should have known better than to hope for a 3K short.) and just going through the final touches and edits. 
I'm also working on a short (please, please, let this be a short) that I think will fit in nicely to the anthology. It's completely out of my comfort zone, which is a good thing; last time somebody did this to me I ended up trying the comedy style that ended up as the Blue Moon Detectives, so it can only be good.