Time to get back to it

For the last week I have been unable to concentrate on writing for more than about ten minutes at a time. First, there was the excruciating tension of the Finch Books website launch on the 26th, and Abomination being available for download. There was a technical hitch and the site wasn’t live until the following afternoon.

The following afternoon, though, we were tramping through the water meadow of what, bar acts of God, is going to be our new home. The nightmare of house cleaning, selling, renovation, and moving is about to begin, and I have no idea in which order. Any more excitement and I’ll die, I swear.

On the house front, this is the lull, the haitus while the paperwork is being dealt with by the agent. On the book front, I should be making the most of the calm before my participation in promotion is required. This means, getting back into serious writing. I have a series planned to follow on from The Green Woman of which the first volume is written, and I’m padding out the basic structure of the second. The third volume is started but the development is in sketch form only.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it very difficult to switch from one world to another. Fantasy world, I mean, not space travel. Which is why I’m prevaricating. The links to the world where I finally said goodbye to Carla and Tully are still strong. My affection for my two heroes means it’s hard to let them go, even if it is to return to old friends from The Green Woman, and get them out of the awful mess I’ve created for them.

Before I go back to my bloodthirsty Gothic barbarians, Abaddon’s creations, and the Tuatha De Danann, I’ll get in another plug for Abomination. Something I’ve only just noticed at the end of the blurb, which you can read here

https://www.finch-books.com/book/abomination

is this warning.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of physical abuse, sexual slavery and violence and references to child murder. 

Can’t say fairer than that. It might put off the ‘concerned parents’ but I doubt it’ll put off the readers.

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Last one on the shelf

There’s just one epub copy left of Abomination. Sorry there weren’t enough pdf copies to go round, but if anyone would like this, just leave a message below. Converting epub to pdf or mobi is quite easy using Calibre.

Thanks for the response and hope you all enjoy the book. And the series, of course.

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Abomination: excerpt

Tomorrow is launch day for my publisher, Finch Books, and Abomination will be available for purchase from the Finch Books website. This is the last excerpt before the big day.

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“On that pallet over there. A few big cans of beans left. Bring one.”

“Have you all forgotten how to speak, as well as how to wash?” Carla snapped.

“Mostly. Yes.”

Carla staggered over with the ten-kilo can of white navy beans to where Kat was opening a much smaller can of frankfurters. She opened the beans and together they tipped the contents into a stew pot of dubious cleanliness. The sausages followed.

“How many is this for?” Carla asked. She had seen at least a dozen men and boys and nearly twice as many women.

“All of us.”

“Then those sausages won’t go very far.”

“Just for the men.”

“I might have guessed,” Carla sighed. “I suppose we ought to be grateful to get a few beans.”

The girl heaved a world-weary sigh. “If they leave any.”

Carla was about to ask why they let themselves be pushed about by a bunch of macho brutes who thought they were living in the Middle Ages when she took a good look at the girl. Carla had taken her for a skinny kid, but a closer inspection revealed the bony shoulders, scrawny breasts and haggard look of a woman, but under-developed and emaciated. Like Tully, Carla was beginning to put together a picture of their new environment.

“There’s not much to eat, is there?”

Kat just looked around. The warehouse was three-quarters empty. “You see much?”

“Can’t you get food somewhere else? Find another supermarket, I mean.”

Kat sighed. “This is Flay territory. Other places like this are in some other tribe’s territory. Not enough warriors left to fight over food.”

“What about hunting?”

Kat forced a wry smile. “Hunt what? Rats? Crows? Drax?”

“Drax?”

“Big dogs.”

“Why not, if that’s all there is?”

“Rats and crows eat corpses, drink poisoned water. Drax eat rats and crows and corpses. They are all sick, rotten. If we eat them, we become like drax. Drax used to be dogs.”

This was the longest speech Carla had heard from Kat. It had been a real physical effort for her, as if she had to drag the words from her memory, as if they were so rarely used they had almost been forgotten. Carla asked one last question, though she dreaded the reply.

“So, what will happen when the food runs out?”

Kat’s expression was dull and hopeless and she did not reply. She didn’t need to.

Carla bit her lip, trying to hang onto the strange, obscene ideas that darted like cockroaches in and out of the shadowy places in her mind.

Microfiction: Of rats and men

Okay, this bit is less than 200 words, 199 to be precise, and it qualifies for Sacha Black’s writing challenge. The whole of Abomination is about struggle, and this scene shows some of Carla’s emotional struggle.

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Footsteps rang out on the walkway, echoing in the caverns of the empty boutiques. Carla stiffened and grabbed Kat’s arm.

“Ratmen?” she whispered.

Kat listened. The footsteps continued, lots of feet, stealthy almost, nervous.

“Maybe.”

They moved away from the yawning gap of the hall below, where pieces of safety rail swung free, into the squealing scuffling shadows… Carla shuddered at the memory, the long twitching nose, sloping forehead, the big ears and bristle-covered face. She shuddered at the terror in those mad eyes. Kat had killed it and it had screamed like a child.

The footsteps stopped. Ahead in the shadows, deeper shadows waited. Carla held her breath. A single shadow moved forward.

“Carla?”

Tully.

She forced herself not to run to him.

“Carla?”

She could see him now, his face, his eyes.

No! You don’t care!

She clenched her fists, clenched her eyes tight closed. But she still saw him, the gentle eyes full of…sorrow.

“Carla,” he whispered and she could feel his breath on her skin. “I’m so sorry.”

Tears squeezed from behind her lids. She sobbed as her clenched fists beat his chest then opened, pulling him towards her, his face, as damp as hers.

Flash fiction: Stronzo

 

A retelling of a scene from Abomination, the first book of The Pathfinders series from Carla’s point of view. It was going to be for Sacha Black’s flash fiction challenge about struggle, but it’s too long. Back to the drawing board…

Photo ©Concha García Hernández

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Carla fought back the waves of panic.

Stronzo!

It was Tully she meant, not the runty little arsehole who’d just slapped her. Tully, standing there with that cocky look on his face, squaring up to a bunch of brutes all armed with assault rifles. What in the name of fuck did he think he was playing at?

A fist swung and Tully gasped, doubled over clutching his stomach.

“I’ll ask you that one again.” The thin voice of the pale, lanky chief made Carla’s flesh creep. “Are you a warrior or the next sacrifice?”

Carla refused to listen to any more of Tully’s smart arse answers. She faced the chief thug, defying him to ignore her.

“We’re not warriors and we’re not sacrifices. We just don’t understand what—”

Casually, without even taking his eyes off Tully, the pale-eyed chief slapped her again. Her cheek stung with pain, tears stung her eyes but she refused to let them fall. She crouched down, refused to look at Tully, to listen to his blustering threats. She had nothing to hang onto—her certitudes, her easy, cosy existence, all blown to bits. And Tully. She bit back a sob. Tully was hurtling into the unknown. But she refused to… She refused.

Boots shuffled; a rifle nudged her in the side.

“Up.”

She raised her head slowly. Too slowly.

“I said get up!” the evil voice screamed, and she winced as the rifle jabbed again, harder this time.

Porca puttana Madonna.

Gritting her teeth she got to her feet. Tully. His face. Aglow with excitement, thrilled to bits with himself for striking a deal with Adolf Hitler.

Coglione.

Where had Tully gone? The old Tully she thought she knew. He looked at her, a flash of compassion, a hand making the gesture of reaching out.

“Move!”

He chattered, his smart quips flying, bouncing of the fuckwit guards who responded only to the orders of their leader. She followed. Her world had shrunk to the extent of her body heat. Beyond was cold and darkness. She refused to believe it was over. She refused.

 

New series begins

I can’t wait for tomorrow. I’ve waited so long already and the launch is practically upon us! The first volume of my YA series about wormholes, the apocalypse and a pair of young lovers is about to be released. January 26th to be precise. Here’s the cover for starters.

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Here’s the Finch Books holding page while the website clunks into action

https://www.finch-books.com/

and here’s a short excerpt from the opening chapters of Abomination.

 

Carla screamed, and the pile of dining chairs tottered and collapsed into an impossible tangle. Tully‘s face hit the floor, as the whole cellar seemed to rise and fall back with a deafening crash. From the floors above came an ominous rumbling and the cascading shriek of breaking glass.

He shoved backward, hard. A table skittered sideways, shedding its load of baskets and boxes over his back, and he was free. Carla was crouched by the door, pointing the flashlight down the corridor. She turned as Tully blundered to join her.

“I couldn’t hold him!” Her eyes were distraught. “He ran off behind the boiler.”

Tully’s annoyance dissolved instantly. Carla was almost at the end of her rope.

“Let’s go get him then,” he said, with what he hoped was a jaunty air, “before the whole bloody building falls down.”

They ran to the end of the corridor, Tully wondering if he was completely mad, playing hide and seek with a spoilt moggy in the middle of an earthquake.

“Come on, Tattoo. Time to get in your basket,” Carla cajoled. A stripy tail flicked in and out of sight in the shadows behind the boiler.

“Here. Try this.” Tully fished a squashed piece of focaccia out of his jacket pocket. “I was saving it for later,” he explained apologetically. Tattoo poked his nose out and sniffed. “Get ready.” One paw crept forward then another, nose and whiskers twitched with interest, as Tully placed the oil-scented bread on the floor just out of the cat’s reach. He flexed his hands and braced himself, ready to lose a couple of fingers.

Suddenly the cat froze, whiskers trembling in agitation, ears flicked back against his skull, and fur standing on end. Tully lunged and the cat backed away spitting, backing away not from Tully’s hands but from a round hole in the wall. It was a hole the size of a manhole cover, a hole that contained a blackness darker than any blackness Tully had ever seen, a blackness that vibrated and whined and moved like ink spreading through a glass of black water. Intrigued, Tully reached out a questing hand to the hole, the vibrating emptiness, whatever it was.

 

Carla shouted a warning, No! and grabbed his other hand to pull him away as the ground shifted and buckled again. As they staggered, falling, floundering, the hole appeared to tip toward them, growing in size, reaching out to enclose them both. Above their heads the building shook itself apart, and they plunged into the humming darkness.