The Long and Short Reviews Winter Blogfest is officially over, and I have done the draw for the copy of Revelation. The winner is Astilbe. I’ll get a copy off to you as soon as I have your address.
This Winter Solstice story is one I included in my blog post for the Long and Short Reviews Winter Blogfest. You can read the whole post here, and if you leave a comment you have a chance of winning a digital copy of ‘Revelation’.
Sue’s Thursday photo prompt is the perfect illustration, so what better excuse could there be for posting the story twice?
Yes, I know, it’s an awful pun, ‘wether’ and ‘sheepish’ but I decided to leave it in.
Long ago, in the land of the Northmen, as the longest night of the year was beginning, Gudrun was sent to bring in the last of the wethers. He was the biggest, wildest of the curly-horned sheep and a right royal pain in the arse. Gudrun wrapped her thick cloak tight about her and trudged through the snow up to the oak copse where she suspected he would be, gorging himself on the last of the acorns. She called and whistled, more to keep the wild beasts away than with much hope that the daft sheep would come.
The copse was empty. The wind blew flurries of snowflakes between the tree trunks and Gudrun cursed. Beyond the oaks was empty heathland until the fjord dropped away abruptly, and the sea crashed dark and wicked below. It would be just like the gormless creature to have fallen over the edge and be stuck on a ledge. Sure enough, after a quick search, the setting sun through the clouds along the horizon showed her the wether’s neat prints. Snow clouds hid the sun, and the wind whined, and in its voice, she heard another sound—someone calling faintly.
She ran across the heath that sloped down to the sea, to where the last rowan tree clung to the rocky soil before the slope became bare rock that tumbled into the waves.
“Who’s there?” she called into the wind, fearful that on this long night, the Draugr would be abroad.
“Gudrun? Tis Sigurd Two-Wolves. Take care, the rocks are as treacherous as sin!”
Gudrun picked her way to the broken edge and peered down a narrow goat track. In the middle of a group of scrubby trees, the yellow-eyed wether, straddling a pair of legs, was glaring up at her. With the last of the light to guide her, Gudrun clambered down to the outcrop that had stopped Sigurd’s fall. He raised himself feebly on his forearms, and she caught her breath. A ray of sun picked out the red of his hair and turned it to flame. His eyes glittered, with fever or with something else, she couldn’t say. Though they had been children together, she had never before realised how beautiful he was, and the expression in his eyes, she had never seen in a man’s eyes before. He needed her. Not in the way men usually need women, but he needed her because he was weak and helpless. She knelt down by his side. Her hands twisted a fold of her cloak, itching to touch him, to find out where the pain was.
“It was the wether,” he said sheepishly, “and I almost had him. Then he jumped, and I went with him.” He looked along his body. “The ankle. Nothing to weep over, but I’d best wait for the light before trying that track again.”
Gudrun ran her hand down his leg and had the satisfaction of seeing how he stirred. Gently, she lifted his leg from the rocks that imprisoned it in a twisted position. He cried out and she felt power and pleasure and compassion all at the same time.
“We’ll not be moving from here this night,” she said.
“You’ll stay with me, the dark night through?” he asked, although he must have known the answer.
“This night and every other, if you asked me,” Gudrun whispered as she wrapped them both in her cloak. The wether settled down, sheltering them from the wind, until the sun goddess birthed a daughter to light the first day of the new year.
I’m taking part in the Long and Short Reviews winter blog romp. The post is here .
Pop over to the LASR site and leave a comment on the post for a chance to win a copy of ‘Revelation’, the most romantic of ‘The Pathfinders’ series.
Few are allowed into Paradisio—even fewer escape.
Wormwood has fallen, but the journey isn’t over for Carla and Tully. Erelah the Messenger leads them onward to Paradisio, where they hope they will find their real home. The Grigori recognize Tully as Israfel, and he takes to his new role of guardian of music like a duck to water, but Carla’s impressions are of a world with dark secrets hiding in the shadows.
Tully seems absorbed in his music and whenever he comes up for air, Erelah—with her neat little wings—is waiting. Carla finds consolation with Nathaniel, a Warrior who is a hunk and knows it. But she is playing with fire. Nat wants her—and what Nat wants, he takes.
As if her personal problems weren’t enough, Carla begins to piece together the mad plan that Nisroc, the Yazata of Paradisio, has lined up for the other worlds. And Tully—who has been promised a starring role—seems keen to play along with the lunatic scheme.
Carla finds herself caught up in a revolution, to stop Nisroc and the one who is creating his weapon of mass destruction—Tully.
Carla bent to touch the shoulder of the nearest body. It was warm. She laid a finger on the pulse and waited, her own heart thumping. It was there. Faint, but it was there.
“They’re not dead,” Nat said, mocking.
“They’ll soon wish they were,” one of the Marines added with a snigger.
Nat shot him a murderous look. “That’s for others to decide. Just stick to your own job.”
“Do we leave them here?” Carla asked, worried at how pale the three Warriors looked.
Nathaniel tapped his vest pockets. “Anyone got a stretcher on him? I seem to have forgotten mine.”
The Marines sniggered again.
“Isn’t first aid supplied in this ‘game’?” Carla asked. “They need attention.”
Nat put an arm around her. She felt the pounding of his heart, his excitement. His smell, hot, sweet and sweaty, enveloped her. “They’ll be picked up. Douma will know where to find them.” His hand slid down her arm to her waist, under her T-shirt, his fingers roving over her stomach. Her muscles flinched and she caught the flicker of a smile on Nat’s lips.
“Now, let’s finish this charade. I don’t know how I’m going to wait until tonight,” he murmured into her hair.
“When Douma gives you your mark, and you give me all the rest. The start of forever.” His mouth was so close to her ear that his breath tickled. His hand slid around the waistband of her pants. Her own breath grew short and hot. Her cheeks flared. The Marines watched her curiously, their eyes not quite so cold. Nat’s excitement was working on them. She wriggled out of his grip, forcing her mind to focus on the cold outline of the plan.
If we can get this over with by lunchtime, Tabbris can get on with starting an epidemic.
“Let’s get moving then.” She grinned at him and he flashed her one of his predatory smiles.
You might have heard of Abomination, I’ve possibly mentioned it once or twice, so you’ve probably got the message that it’s about the end of the world, or rather the hellish limbo between when the balloon goes up and when the last one to leave turns off the lights.
You might be less clear about what the rest of the series is about, and why. Finch Books have asked me to write a little something to explain the idea behind The Pathfinders series, and how the story and the characters develop over the course of the three books. Here it is.
As an introduction to The Pathfinders series, Finch Books are giving away Pete’s Story, a short story some of you might have already read. If you haven’t, here’s the blurb:
In the unreal world of the Abomination, only the young and brutish and their brutalised playthings survive. Pete’s Flay tribe whiles away the time before the return of the Burnt Man and the end of the end, by inventing new and more barbaric games. Meanwhile, wormholes tear up the fabric of time and space and it isn’t only refugees from the past that use them as an escape route. Ever heard of ratmen?
You can get it here free download from the Finch Books site.
I’ve been so bogged down in a million other things, I almost missed posting this.
Get this PROMOTION!
ALL Finch Books are 25% off to celebrate 10 years of publishing. If you haven’t read The Pathfinders series yet, now’s the time to start
Get your promotion priced copy here
And while you’re in the mood, why not browse round the Finch Books website and see if something else takes your fancy.
I must post this enthusiastic review of ‘Abomination’ which made my day when I saw it yesterday. I’m really pleased to know that this reader got a lot of fun out of the book.
Fantastic Apocolyptic Sci-Fi/Horror Thriller, June 19, 2017
This review is from: Abomination: (A Young Adult Fiction Novel) (The Pathfinders Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
‘Abomination’ is the first book in ‘The Pathfinders’ series by Jane Dougherty. I will start off by saying that I immensely enjoyed this apocalyptic novel. It was dark, gritty, and raw and had me completely pulled into the story. ‘Abomination’ is a fantastic read which is very well written and the story (even though apocalyptic /post-apocalyptic has been done before), is very original and engrossing.
One of the first things I noticed, was seeing parallel elements from ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding, and I feel has elements in common with ‘The Walking Dead’ also. As I’ve mentioned above, it’s simply a very dark and brutal book. I would not hesitate to recommend it to young adults, as that is that is also the intended audience. There is strong language throughout the book, so those who are very sensitive, should be forewarned.
The story starts off quite harmlessly, but things go down the drain very quickly for Carla and Tully, as they are hurtled through a wormhole five years into the future just as the end of the world is beginning. Unfortunately, this just takes them out of the frying pan and into the fire. There they must battle against blood-thirsty youngsters, gangs, mutated animals and against other characters which I will only describe here as supernatural or demonic (i.e. the Burnt Man).
It is a story of adapting oneself to a new environment and dire situations while still trying to hold onto one’s values and to rise above the despondency and cut-throat ways of the gangs who have had to live through five years of hell and destruction. Just as in ‘Lord of the Flies’, any semblance of society has fallen apart and the youngsters are not concerned with growing food or following rules (except their own twisted law), but are only interested in fighting and with attaining/holding onto power.
‘Abomination’, isn’t just about the struggle of humans against nature and other humans, but is a struggle against mutated animals and supernatural forces which wish to destroy the world. These elements, due to spoilers, will not be talked about in this review, but needless to say, ‘Abomination’ is an action-packed supernatural thriller which borders on horror.
What makes this story believable, are the actions of the characters in the book. The characters act in a very believable and natural way, which pulls us in as the reader and makes us feel for these characters. Furthermore, the author’s writing style is easy to read and her descriptions pull the reader in and fully immerse them in this experience.
The book ends with a very good cliffhanger which just makes me want to pick up the second book, ‘Devastation’, in order to continue the journey with Carla and Tully.
‘Abomination’ is an action-packed apocalyptic novel which borders on horror. Due to its original take on the end of times, and for the superb writing style of Jane Dougherty, I highly recommend this book to others who enjoy supernatural thrillers. I would absolutely love to see this book get a movie deal or even better, a Netflix series, as I believe the story would find a huge fan-base across wide audiences.
If you feel compelled to rush off and get a copy, a simple click will open the wormhole.
As you probably all know, since I’ve been shouting about it enough, Finch Books ha been running a promotion on The Pathfinders series. It’s five days since the BookBub feature, which sent the first volume, Abomination, to number one in the US and Australia in Teen Science Fiction and Teen Time Travel and Adventure categories, where Hunger Games and Harry Potter hang out. The glory lasted two whole days before the big boys and girls took the top place back again, but it was a big wonderful experience.
It has been my theory (not original) that you absolutely have to pay for advertising if you want to sell your book. No matter how good it is, if it isn’t visible, nobody except family and friends will buy it. One of the democratising effects of self-publishing has been to give readers a stupifyingly huge choice of books, available in one click, as they say. How do you wade through 30 million plus books? Short answer—you don’t. You skip through the tiny sample Amazon gives you easy access to.
The whole of The Pathfinders series has been available since last September. The first volume, despite a clutch of excellent reviews, attractive cover and a proper publisher behind it, was lingering in the doldrums, and the sequels hadn’t taken off at all. Finch Books was going through a very rocky and doubtful start, which put marketing on hold. It looks as though the teething problems are over and we’re back with a vengeance.
Advertising put Abomination up there on the front page, and with a bit of luck it will hang about a while among the first pages where it is likely to be noticed by a casual browser. The sequels have started selling too, which is wonderful. Advertising is essential, but reviews are a must too, which brings me to the point of this post. If you have read Abomination and enjoyed it, I’m offering review copies of the second and third volumes. Please get in touch through the contact form with your email address and I’ll send you one (epub or pdf).
Meanwhile, the promotion continues if you’re keen to get into the series.
One last screen shot and I’ll shut up and get back to writing poetry.
This morning, in Australia. How about that!
I might not get another chance to post something like this so I’m making the most of it. I am officially a No.1 best seller!
Mad woman from mediocrity, muses.
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