The Spring Dance has begun!

The Spring Dance is here, live and kicking and ready to be read.

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Magic, mystery, mirth and murder fill these tales that are fresh as daisies and old as the hills.

Foxes and firebirds, deer and dancers, trolls and travellers, and lots of princesses tell their stories to entertain you as the nights draw in, the fire crackles in the grate, and the wolves howl in the forest.

You can get it here for a mere 99p/c

Amazon UK

Amazon US

And while you’re about it, don’t forget to download Tales from the Northlands. It’s absolutely free for the next three days.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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Coming soon…

How soon depends very much on when I get a technical hitch sorted out. This is a collection of five short stories set in the Northlands. Some of you might be aware that my current WIP is an epic saga set in an alternate ninth century with Norsemen, Celts, and a certain monstrous fantasy element. Apart from the monsters, I’ve tried to keep to historical accuracy and have written several stories as spin-offs from my research. The Celtic stories will be for another volume.

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A rickety wooden escalator carries a child from his safe, comfortable world of department store Christmas glitter to the midnight zone inhabited by legendary nightmares.

On the windswept east coast of Northumbria, a Saxon thegn avenges his murdered chief by selling his village to the sea wolves, and a ruthless war leader prepares for battle, gloating over the blood dream sent him by the wicce.

In Viking Sverige, Jussi and Solveig plan a future juggling bride price, parental expectations and the knarr they have yet to acquire, but their future falls beneath the shadow of the mountain.

Antar seems like the answer to Inna’s dream of escaping the bleak steading on the fjord, but her father and his chosen son-in-law have other ideas.

What links these tales is the North Sea that beats the coast, brings the cold and the long ships, laps the winter nights in snow, when the wind howls stories of trolls and giants. It brings the herring, the sea mews and the grey seals, and it joins a people with the same vision of the world—harsh, vivid and full of magic.  

While you’re waiting, why not go to Wild Geese Books and choose something to read?

New book release: Revelation

It is with great embarrassment that I reveal that on checking on the Finch Books website for the release date of Revelation, the third volume of The Pathfinders I discover that it’s today. Unnoticed by all, including me, which is a shame, because it’s a bloody good story though I say so myself.

Authors are supposed to be gung ho about promoting their work, praising it to the skies and shoving excerpts and banners in the faces of the general publick until they provoke rioting and lynch mobs. I’m going to kick against tradition and just say that I wrote it, I enjoyed writing it tremendously, and I think it’s pretty good. But nobody in their right mind would take the author’s word for the quality of a novel. You have to read it for yourself. There’s always the ‘look inside’ feature before you commit your pennies. It costs nothing.

The Pathfinders is a trilogy to be read in order, so if you haven’t started it yet, there’s not much point in banging on about number three. If you have read Abomination and Devastation, you can find Revelation here.

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

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New book release

Today is release day for Devastation, second volume of The Pathfinders series

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If you have already read Abomination, you can buy Devastation here:

Amazon.com

Amazon. UK

If you haven’t read Abomination yet, you can download a free copy here

Amazon.com

Amazon.UK

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So you have NO EXCUSE! Obviously, I’d rather you read it too, but just a little download would be nice.

 

 

New book release

Tomorrow is a lot of things. One of them is a book release for me. Since the other things mean I won’t be around much either tomorrow or Wednesday, volume two of The Pathfinders is going to have to release itself. As far as I know, it will be available from the Finch Books website only, so there’ll be time to have a blast when it goes on general release in August.

For those of you who can’t wait, click here for the Finch site.

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Cover reveal: Devastation

You probably already know that writing poetry and pieces of short fiction is not the be all and end all of my existence as a writer. I write novels too. They are unashamedly escapist, with elements of magic, fantasy and mythology, romance and humour, probably because that is how I would like life to be. The characters are young, full of energy, not little plaster saints, opinionated and courageous. I’ve come to like them as if they were not just my spiritual children, but flesh and blood.

The first series, The Green Woman, starts in a miserable, grey dystopia, violent and oppressive. You’d hardly expect it to be like Disney World, would you? It’s the story of Deborah’s journey to find herself, her mother and save the bit of the world that actually wants to be saved from itself. It ends in…well, you have to read the story to find out where it ends. Or if it even does.

The second series, The Pathfinders, is very different. Carla and Tully are caught in the Apocalypse. The story isn’t post-apocalyptic—the world is teetering on the brink waiting for the final act. Wormholes that loop through time and space run through the story like garlands on a Christmas tree but without the joyful connotations. Things travel through the wormholes, and most of them you wouldn’t want to meet, not even if you had a few anti-tank missiles handy.

The first volume, Abomination, was published in March by Finch Books. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. You’ll see why you should be preparing your plan B for the apocalypse right now.

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I have just received the cover art for the second volume, so I’ll post it here. If you thought things couldn’t get any worse than the Abomination, I’m afraid you’re in for a shock. Or maybe just a pleasant surprise. There are people like you, I know.

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Devastation will be available on early download from June 22. That gives you plenty of time to read Abomination first. If you like having the bejaysus scared out of you, of course. I’ve been told I write good horror stories. If you can stand the pace, you should look into this series.

You can find links, blurbs and extracts from all the novels here, or sign up for news about further publications here.

Snippets of The Pathfinders

I’m over at Adventures in YA publishing today, talking about writing for young adults, if you’d like to take a look. And if you can bear any more, I’m also answering Sacha Black’s open call for self-publicity with a short excerpt from my current WIP which is the third volume of The Pathfinders series, winding up the adventures of Carla and Tully in wonderland.

So, this is a bit from Revelation.  Sacha asked for 150 words. This is an excerpt approaching 150 words, but I’m not saying from which direction.

 

Tully stopped humming and held his head on one side, listening. His eyes glittered with amazement.

“Can you hear?” he whispered.

Carla stood quite still and held her breath. The silence of the night sky was broken. Like ripples on a stream, faint music made by unearthly voices came to her over the waves of darkness. She looked at Tully, her eyes wide.

“It’s the stars,” he breathed, “the planets. They’re singing.”

“What does it mean?”

Tully beamed at her. “It means we’re in heaven.”

Carla grinned. “Seriously.”

“The possibilities here are endless. Nothing is beyond us if we try hard enough. You can see why Nisroc wants to protect his world.”

Carla frowned slightly as if a cloud had passed over the moon, and the music faded. “Yeah. I s’ppose.”

Tully took her hand and led her into a fiery nest of stardust. “You worry too much,” he said gently and pulled her down beside him. “Time for dreaming.”

Carla snuggled into his arms, loosening his shirt from his trousers, nuzzling into his neck, her senses filling with his unmistakeable Tully smell.

“I wonder if the Grigori dream too,” she murmured.

“Erelah said they all do.”

“Erelah?” Carla sat up sharply. “You mean we might bump into her up here?”

Tully pulled her back down to him. “What have you got against Erelah, anyway? She’s a good laugh, when you get to know her.”

“And you have?”

“Yeah, a bit.”

Carla fought to keep her ground in what felt like shifting sands. She held Tully tighter, finding the buckle on his belt. She bit his ear and whispered, “Like this?”

Tully kissed her hard on the mouth. “You ask the silliest questions.”

“Indulge me.”

Tully kissed her again. And again. “Of course not.”

His hands were on her skin beneath her shirt. His mouth was on hers. The stars were singing. Carla let the unpleasant thoughts slip into the gentle darkness between the planets and returned Tully’s kiss with the same passion as in the old days.

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If you haven’t read the first part, Abomination, you can get it here.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

It’s Abomination Day!

Today is a big day. Finbar’s stitches come out, and Abomination goes on general release. The digital version anyway;  the paperback comes out next week. Abomination is the first volume of The Pathfinders series and the great thing is, the sequels are already programmed for release—volume two in June and volume three in July. So there’s no fear I’ll do a GRR Martin on readers and make you wait five years between each volume.

 

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As the end of the world begins, Carla and Tully hurtle through a wormhole five years forward in time, only to find they haven’t missed the Apocalypse after all.

Carla and Tully are picnicking in the quad of their international high school in central Paris when the end of the world begins. They are sucked into a wormhole that spits them out five years later to find that the world is a freezing desolation but still hanging on, waiting for something even worse to finish it off. The something worse turns out to be the Burnt Man and his horsemen. Taken prisoner by the Flay Tribe to their lair in the ruins of a shopping mall, Tully is forced to become a warrior, while Carla joins the other girls as a kitchen slave and comfort woman.

Tully might like the idea of playing soldiers, but Carla knows what is waiting for the girls when the food runs out, and it isn’t pleasant. The supermarket holy man’s vision of the return of the Burnt Man and his demon friends drags Tully back to reality. When the four fiends are reunited, the Apocalypse will really begin. Carla and Tully don’t plan on being there when that happens.

But in this post-Abomination world where only the young and brutal have survived, where food and fuel are running out and the climate is plunging into another final ice age, there is nowhere to run—except down another wormhole, with no idea of what might be waiting for them at the other end.

Here’s a short excerpt.

At the sound of footsteps in the corridor, Tully tensed into a defensive stance, feet apart and fists clenched. The key turned in the lock and the door crashed open.

“Out!”

A small figure in too-big clothes stood outside brandishing a too-big rifle. Tully relaxed. “Where to, Rambo?”

“Never mind. And stop calling me Rambo.”

“What shall I call you then?”

“I don’t want you to call me anything. Just move!” The child’s voice rose to a nervous treble.

“Okay, Rambo, keep your shirt on. Or is it your big brother’s?”

The answer was a sharp poke in the back with the muzzle of the rifle.

“Just trying to be friendly.” Tully ambled outside. “No need to lose your rag.”

The dingy light in the corridor was enough for Tully to see the fresh bruises on the side of the boy’s face and the dirty smears left by tears.

“Hey,” Tully’s voice softened. “How did you do that?”

“None of your bloody business.” The boy’s voice was close to breaking. “Just get a move on or I’ll be the one that gets…”

“That gets what? They thumped you, didn’t they?” Tully clenched his fists again, this time in anger. “Those big bastards that you went off with. That’s how they get their fun is it? Picking on the little kids?”

“There are no other little kids. Anyway, the girls get it worse,” the child mumbled, conflicting expressions of shame and relief chasing one another across his face. The child soldier mask dropped and it was a frightened eleven-year-old who poured out his grief to Tully. “You joke about it, about Ace and, and…all this, but you don’t know what it’s like. Not to live like this. Every day. Knowing nothing’s going to change, except to get worse.”

“Go on then. Tell me,” Tully said gently. “I don’t understand what happened, but until a few hours ago, I was at school. Put me in the picture a bit. I’d appreciate it.”

The boy’s face took on a serious look, fear battling with responsibility. “The tribes is all that’s left now. You got to belong to one. Outside it’s just freezing cold and drax and other tribes.”

“Hold on. What’s a drax?”

“A drac. Drax is when there more’n one of the fuckers. Those dog things that got…That we… Outside, on the wire.”

“Oh yeah,” Tully murmured. “Got yah.”

“Anyway,” the boy went on, “it’s always cold, and there’s never enough to eat. At least in the beginning there was me and Kat.” His weary face brightened a little, as if just saying the name was a rare comfort to him. “But they took her away, put her with all the other girls.” He stopped as if the thought was too hurtful to bear. When he spoke again it was in a dry whisper. “They all…died, all the little kids, all the kids I used to play with. I’m the only one left. I’ll always be just The Little’Un.” He snuffled and wiped his nose quickly on his sleeve. “My name’s Jeff.”

Tully held out his hand. “Tully. Glad to know you, Jeff.”

Jeff made a feeble attempt at a smile and Tully grasped his hand. It was a hard, dry hand, wrinkled and coarse—not a child’s hand at all. It represented a lost childhood, and the touch of the rough skin moved Tully more than anything else.

“Right then,” he said briskly, afraid of setting off more tears. “Let’s get moving. We don’t want to upset the King of Shit Valley now, do we?”

“They’re going to make you fight Tab this morning, before he gets loose again.” Jeff let out the words in a rush then looked about nervously.

“If Tab’s one of them that thumped you, I’ll be pleased to have a poke at him.”

Jeff looked at the floor and said in a barely audible voice, “Tab got bit by a mad drac. It was Tab what tried to break your door down last night.”

Tully got a sick feeling as his stomach sank several floors below the basement. “By fight, do you mean like fisticuffs, the Queensbury rules and all that?”

Jeff looked at him, a puzzled expression on his face. Tully swallowed. “Can you give us a loan of your rifle, then?”

If you like the sound of it, you can get a copy here

Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

100 word story: Enchanted swans

Photo: Swans on the Baie de Somme

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She watches through the hole in the door, the swans settling on the lake and wonders what they look like in human form. She sighs, and her heart flutters like beating wings in her chest. Though dark clouds lower in the sky, no wind disturbs the sedge, and the snow white birds glide without fear on the still waters. Unlike her, they are not doomed to stay. Soon they will rise in a flurry of white feathers and scattered crystal water droplets, and she yearns to join them, borne on strong, broad wings beyond the pain of this mortal life.