Total Pageviews

Friday 31 May 2013

8 things you need to know about Gastro (Pass the disinfectant, please)

There is currently the mother of all gastro bugs circulating. Since I've just recovered from this one, and the damn thing would make the Terminator cry while trying not to soil himself, here's a handy guide to what you can expect during the process.

1) You will be too scared to hiccup, and you will be right. You also don't want to be on any form of public transportation, or anything that will jostle you in any way. This includes walking, stairs, and crawling. Things will get messy.

2) You will feel hungover without touching alcohol. There is something intrinsically evil about any bug that makes you feel like you made friends with a tequila bar for 5 frigging days, without any of the benefits, like actually enjoying yourself during said visit to the bar. It gets worse in bright light, and is exaggerated by working on a PC screen, which brings us to the next point:

3) If you try to work on a p.c. or laptop, you will throw up your toenails. In addition to the pounding headache, playing with any sort of backlit screen will make you feel incredibly nauseas. This includes smart phones, so the recommendation here is to wail about wanting to die on whatever social media pool you play in, and log off again.

4) Your legs will hurt. This bug has the side-bonus of truly flu-like symptoms. To make reaching the bathroom in time an extra-special adventure, it will remove your leg bones and replace them with noodles made out of pain. 

5) You can dehydrate really, really fast. Joking aside, if someone in the household gets this and they are really young, elderly, or already sickly, be very careful. Dehydration makes the headache worse (fun! not.) and it can kill. Plain water and this bug operate under the anti-gravity rule where what goes down must come up. Get some electrolyte sachets, and if needed, hit the emergency room. They may need a drip.

6) The pharmacist will give you stuff that is useless. The fun part about medicine is that you have to swallow it, and it needs to stay in your system for around 15 - 20 minutes to work. Anti-nausea tablets are as much use as a vegetarian vampire at this point.

7) You will crave weird things, and be unable to eat them. I spent nearly a week fantasising about everything from chocolate fudge to pickled herring. I have a fridge full of food that I couldn't touch because one bite triggered the return of every meal I ever ate. Once you can eat, avoid dairy at all costs for a couple of days. Just trust me on this one. Soy milk is better. Dairy bad.

8) As you get better, the rest of your house-hold will come down with it. There's nothing quite like hearing your housemate imitate a cat with a large hair-ball outside your bedroom door at 3 in the morning.

So there you have it. Hopefully this bout passes you by, since there are more pleasant ways to spend a week, like teasing Cthulhu or playing chicken with a great white. 

Sunday 26 May 2013

Holiday Weekend Freebies, & the whole word count issue

I'm starting to wonder if I'm the only author on the planet that doesn't write by word count. Just about every writer I know has a set amount of words that must go down on the page daily/weekly/monthly/by the hour, and then either do the happy dance when the goal is reached, or flog themselves bitterly when they've missed it. 
I seem to have the paddling-pool approach: I open the document, splash around as much as I can, and then get out to clean up the mess. Word count is usually the last thing I look at.

There are a couple of reasons for this. One of these is that I write on my phone during the work commute, and that doesn't give me a word count. It's just me, headphones on, ignoring the sardine crush around me, happily tapping away at the screen until my stop. I won't know the word count there until I transfer it to the laptop. This can be a bit awkward when writing shorts; the piece I wrote for Allegories of the Tarot had to be edited down by about 1K, and I had to kill a couple of nice little scenes, but it was a stronger piece for the edits. I tend to suffer diarrhoea of the keyboard, and while that can work in a book-size piece, it hurts a short.
The other reason, I guess, is that I'm a pantser, not a plotter. I have no idea what's going to happen in a story until I write it. (I've tried the plotting thing, and it was the most awkward, dreary bit of cardboard ever to hit my trashcan.) I know the story's going well when I re-read the last part and go "Cool! What happened next?" I write until the story is done, and some worlds write long (everything on the Crescent, by the looks of things) and some of them write shorter-ish (Blue Moon Detectives, although that may be about to change.)

I'm quite happy with writing this way, although it does sometimes feel a bit awkward when you're chatting to other writers and they mention their word count for the day, and then ask what yours was. Shrugging and saying you got a couple of chapters in sometimes gets you the same kind of look as the strange guy who sometimes wonders down Kentish Town road with his underwear on his head. 

In the spirit of the long weekend, I have Blood Moon Dance and Quarter the Moon free on kindle for today and tomorrow. If you don't have a kindle, but want a bit of lip-smacking free-story goodness, hit me up in the comments and I'll happily send you a PDF. Amazon links and descriptions to whet your appetite:


 Serial killers and hawks don't get on well.

A small logging village on the outskirts of the Crescent is being terrorized, and an innocent family is being blamed for the murders.

In this fresh adult take on the Red Riding Hood myth, Amber and Jadah have to match their wits against the killer before time runs out, and the killer finds another victim - or the village turns on the werewolves that have lived amongst peacefully them for years.

"This is the blood dance, this is the end dance, and the outcome is death." -Amber.

Blood Moon Dance is a novella of around 17K, and takes place shortly after the events of WolfSong, but can be read as a stand-alone piece.

This book contains strong language and scenes of violence.



The first Blue Moon Detectives collection. Two brand new tales from the Blue Moon Detectives characters, plus Basement Blues and Die Laughing.

House Mates - When Astrid moves into her new apartment, she has to deal with an unwanted house mate, and the dark secret she's hiding.
Yes, Astrid, There is a Santa - What happens when a centuries old vampire discovers that Santa is real?
Blue Moon Detectives - Saving the (undead) girl shouldn't be this hard...
Die Laughing - The gods are back in town - and they don't play nice. Billy and the gang find themselves fighting a Norse god with a bad habit of killing comedians.

Friday 24 May 2013

The stupidity of evil is contagious (rant alert)

I've been lucky enough to see some really good social changes in my life. I remember the Berlin wall coming down. I saw the end of apartheid, and Madiba become president.  A large amount of LGBT folk no longer feel they have to hide who and what they are. Mixed marriage is longer regarded as a perversion in most circles.

Then there's the other side of the coin. The folk that still think women should accept a casual hiding when they ask for it, that anyone being raped or molested deserves it, and that an institution with a history of interfering with little boys and covering it up, has the right to dictate what two (or more) consenting adults get up to. The people that think that having breasts and ovaries mean that you should suck up a lower pay-cheque, that the government has the right to decide what you can and cannot do with your own body, and the ones that think that sending police into rob the homeless of their belongings is completely acceptable because they're bringing down the tone of the neighbourhood, dear. The ones that think that having a darker skin tone makes you sub-human.

On that side of the coin there are the moments of true evil, given a human face and leaving the rest of us soul-sick.

They are the men who pick up weapons, mow down an unarmed man with a car, and butcher him in front of on-lookers, and then pose for filming by those on-lookers with some sort of rabid manifesto that should chill anybody. (On a side-note, I completely fail to understand why somebody - anybody - didn't try to stop these guys. It takes a bit of time to behead a man, and a good swift knock on the back of the head with a rock might have stopped that part. I would also like to know how they were so sure he was a serving soldier, since he was out of uniform, because that implies they targeted Lee Rigby a good while earlier.)

They are also the people who riot in the streets afterwards, screaming racial epithets and attacking places of worship. Both of the guys who did this were British, but I doubt the EDL screamed "Piss off Brits!" while they were hurling bottles and charging the cops. There were two sets of terrorists on the streets that day. Unfortunately it doesn't appear the second will face any justice at all.

The idiot MPs who criticised the armed police for taking so long to get there. Pick a direction; those cops have to wade through a bunch of security including getting authorisation just to get to their weapons. Their locked up weapons, unless there was an armed car in the area; in which case they are locked in the car armoury. This is a policy that you enforced, so yeah, it'll take a bit of time. But it's a lot easier to use a man's death to get a sound-bite, isn't it?

The people who climb onto social media declaring a mini-war on an entire religion or colour of people - yep, they fall into that category too.

And the worst thing is, they did exactly what the two butchers wanted, and likely planned for. Rage begets rage, and violence begets violence, and at the end of it you have another potential blood feud starting.

Who wins, in messy, stupid little wars like this?

Any politician or government department with bad news to bury wins. Any politician pushing for less civilian rights and more police power will ride this one into the ground. 

The people who abuse a religion until it's bent and shaken and almost unrecognisable to the millions who genuinely practice it. They'll win too, and likely use these two men as poster boys in the future. 

The far right, who've already leapt all over this like starving vultures, and gone out to do a little damage of their own. They win.

The ones who seize any excuse to hate. The ones that want power. The ones addicted to blood. They win.

The rest of us? We sure as hell don't win. We bury our dead, and mourn, and rage on blogs like this over the utter stupidity of it. The futility of another man dead, and families destroyed, and if we aren't very, very careful, we just add to the hate. It's contagious that way.

Thursday 16 May 2013

How to Destroy the Prince of Darkness (Moments of Oops, Aargh, and Possible Conversion)

Before we enter the latest saga, a quick heads up on the Allegories of the Tarot project. My gorgeous Moon teaser card is up there, and will be up here, just as soon as I can get the file to save. Me and tech, folks. It's like putting a chicken on roller skates. We've hit the $2250 mark, which is amazing. Thanks to everybody who's spread the word, donated, or simply encouraged us. It's been a hell of a ride, with more to go.

Anyway, returning to our previously scheduled programming, I present the following guide :

1) Climb onto crowded tube car for trip home after long,looooong, day. It works better if your nerves are already frayed. It makes the shrieking more effective.

2) Feel something with eight legs scuttle over your throat. It helps to be severely arachnaphobic for this part.

3) Bitch-slap yourself, hard enough that other passengers turn to stare at you. (Do NOT miss this step. It is crucial.)

4) Hold your hand out to your fellow passengers, with shaking fingers lightly smeared with ex-arachnid, and screech "SATAN!".

5) In the sudden, stunned silence that descends over the car, think about what you just said, and realise there is no conceivable way of explaining you meant spider, and you really aren't dangerous, and can the guy with the briefcase edging carefully away from you be any more obvious? Really?

6) Wait out the ride to the next stop in an ever-widening space, which is actually quite pleasant. Usually at this point you're wedged under someone else's armpit, with a baby stroller trying to climb your leg.

7) Watch about 80% of your fellow passengers dog-pile out of the carriage at the next station, and stand staring at you from the platform.

8) At this point you actually have a seat. (To be honest, you have most of the tube carriage to yourself.) Waving at the people who got off as the tube pulls out is an optional extra, but shouldn't be dismissed for the sheer enjoyment factor.

9) Spend the rest of the trip thinking the little bugger that started all the trouble has revived and is now zombie-spider, because it feels like you have legs all over your throat, even places it didn't touch. As a result, you end up frantically patting yourself every 8 seconds or so. The remaining passengers get off at the next stop.

10) Realise that this being London, there is a very good chance that someone in that carriage believes you really DID just kill Satan. At this point, it would help if you actually believed he existed, but hey. Slaying the Prince of Darkness got you a seat on the tube. You can't really top that.


You can catch up with my fictional worlds on kindle at or So far, nobody has been attacked by any spiders in them, but we do have lots of violence, snark, magic, and strange events.

Saturday 11 May 2013

Character Interview : Jadah, from the Crescent series

Jadah was introduced to the world as the ill-fated younger cousin of Amber in WolfSong. Known for her sharp tongue and off-beat sense of humour, being dead hasn't stopped her following Amber and the squad around the Crescent and beyond.  


Q: Thanks for agreeing to the interview. Tell us a bit about yourself?
A: You do know I'm dead, right? Life-challenged? I suppose you could call me an ex-hawk.
Q: The life-challenged thing has been mentioned, yes. What are the hawks? Can you give us some background?
A: Hawks are one of the three main races in the Crescent, the country I'm from. The other two are humans and the Clans - the werewolves. There are others, like the fey, but they tend to keep to themselves.
Q: There are exceptions, though? Brin, for instance.
A: The fey king, yah. He has a thing for Amber. I hope it passes soon, but I think he's well and truly smitten.
Q: You sound concerned. Is that a bad thing? I'd think Amber deserves a bit of happiness, to be honest.
A: He's an immortal royal who loves politics. Amber is a half-blood hawk who thinks with her sword first, and has all the tact of a drunken buffalo. There is no way this will end well, for either of them, and she knows it. Why do you think she left the Crescent so fast? Happiness would be nice, but I'm not sure Amber would know what to do with it.
Q: Why are there mixed squads on the borders and not the internal Crescent, where your squad is from?
A: The short answer is: because people can be bastards.
Q: A little more detail would be nice…
A: That entails a bit of a history lesson, then. Hawks were on the Crescent for a very long time. Then the wolf folk came, followed closely by humans. Best I can tell they were fleeing a war of some sort - you want Garliaan for the historical stuff - and they entered the Crescent as refugees.  The folk that settled on the borders mixed well and thoroughly with the hawks and the werewolves both. The ones that had a problem with the species difference headed for the interior, hoping to find their own place. The result is a bunch that don't play well with others, and there's a lot of resentment of the hawks because of certain laws. The little things, like mandatory education and women having the same status as men. There's a certain kind of person that doesn't like that.
Q: Wouldn't it be easier to just leave those communities alone?
A: Our country, our rules. And here's the thing: thoughts like that spread. It's like a disease, and it doesn't take much for them to catch hold. Even some hawks fall to it, and that is intolerable. Our job is to hold the Crescent safe, and you can't do that if you hate your charges.
Q: So the squads are the Crescent police?
A: More like a combination between your police and army. We ride the borders as well as internally, and if it comes to a war, we're the ones on the front lines. And most of your police don't use magic.
Q: None of our police use magic. They use technology and forensics.
A: You keep telling yourself that, if it makes you sleep better. We have science, and scientists. Magic and science are pretty compatible, when you use them the right way. Stating something doesn't exist because you don't believe in it makes no sense at all.
Q: But you have the Shrike cult, which doesn't believe in it either. They've caused a lot of trouble on the Crescent in the past.
A: There's a difference in not believing in something, and loathing it. And the Shrike cult is still causing trouble; that won't stop.
Q: How come you came back as ghost?
A: Because it was better than coming back as a garden slug? Because I needed a hobby? Pick one.
Q: In WolfSong, you said you were sent.
A: I was. Look, I can't go into too much detail about who runs the afterlife. But  I'm back for a reason, because if something isn't done, there won't be any more hawks. I can't stop geology, and you know what is going to happen to the Crescent. But I can help try to save my species, and to do that, I need to be with my squad. To be specific, I need to be with Amber.
Q: So whoever's in the charge of the afterlife wants to save the hawks? Does Amber know this?
A: Would you want the entire species camping out on your doorstep at once? There are some things my cousin doesn't need to know just yet. Confusing someone who likes to solve problems with a sharp blade is not a good thing.

You can catch up with Jadah in WolfSong and Blood Moon Dance, both available on kindle at or


Saturday 4 May 2013

New WolfSong cover, Blood Moon Dance goes live, & Allegories of the Tarot updates.

The new WolfSong cover is done, and I think it complements Blood Moon dance quite well. I'm liking this theme, and I already know what the Raven's cover will look like, so I may work on that a bit this long weekend.

You can grab your copy here on the site, and here from the UK site. NB - there are no changes to the book itself; this is purely a cover change, so don't panic.

Blood Moon Dance has gone live today. It clocked in at around 17.4K, so it's a nice little chunk of story - something to get your teeth into, but not over-long. Jadah seems to have developed a streak of snark a mile-long, and she uses it a lot. She's becoming one of my favourite characters to write. I have a great deal of fun with that ghost, and she kindly gave me a character interview that'll be posted over the next couple of days.

It's a re-working of the Little Red Riding Hood fable, Crescent style, which means that everything gets turned upside down, and inside out. As usual, lots of blood, gore, and sharp pointy objects abound.

You can grab your copy from the site here, or the UK version over here. This one comes with a  strong language and scenes of violence warning, which is pretty par for the course in Amber's world.

Seriously folks - these are not really grandma-friendly or kid friendly books. If you like horror and dark fantasy, you'll be fine. If you don't want characters saying anything stronger than "poot" when things go pear-shaped, you may be in for a shock. 

With 30 days of fundraising left, Allegories of the Tarot is going strong. The goodies up for grabs on the Indiegogo page are really impressive, and there's a very special perk coming up. The kind that makes you go Oooh! Shiny! and stroke your p.c. screen in inappropriate ways (although that may just be me). 
Being invited to write for the anthology was the reason I ended up with Blood Moon Dance, so it's really, really cool to see it doing well and getting the support it already has. I can't wait to read the rest of those stories.