Archive for November, 2014

Sewing Seeds

It’s been a busy week since Ghosts of Winter went on sale. I’d like to thank everyone who has bought the book so far, your support means everything to me.

I’ve been working on book three, but became a bit distracted by a character nagging me to write about his history. So I took a little detour, ten years into the past. The series isn’t called Echoes of the Past for nothing. There are seeds there, just waiting to blossom, and I love weaving the story through those shoots.

seeds_coverIn honour of those seeds, I’m offering book one of the series, Seeds of Autumn free on Kindle for five days, starting tomorrow, on 1st December. Please feel free to share this promotion, and don’t forget, reviews are like oxygen to writers, so if you read and enjoy my books do please leave a review on Amazon.

I’ll be getting my new short story out to readers soon, but in the mean time, my previous short story, The Storm Riders’ Vigil is also on Kindle. Caerton is a rich and diverse city, there are many shifters who chatter noisily in my mind and their stories demand to be told, almost as much as Stalker’s.

I love hearing from you. If there are seeds you’d like to know more about leave a comment below to help me learn which characters and plot threads might make for popular short stories in the future.


Happy Launch Day!

Image via Creative Commons

Image via Creative Commons

In case you missed it, yesterday was the launch of my second book, Ghosts of Winter! It’s out there now, for anyone with a Kindle or Kindle App to read. A print edition will follow shortly, and I will update readers on here and social media when it’s available. Happy reading.


Book Tour For the Digital Age

smart-booksIf these were the “good old days” of publishing, then assuming I had managed to secure a publishing contract, I would be about to embark on a book tour of book shops around the country to promote my new book, Ghosts of Winter. However, the industry has changed radically, though the traditional publishers are largely stuffing their fingers in their ears and ignoring this. There has been a paradigm shift, it is now authors that hold all the cards, and the former gatekeepers to literature are floundering.

Given that I am a self-publishing author in the digital age, I won’t be doing a physical book tour. But I thought it might be nice to recreate elements of one online. So in the coming weeks I’ll be posting excerpts from Ghosts of Winter here, like doing readings in person to a gathered crowd.

Given that this is book two of a series, I have tried to find a short excerpt that does not contain significant spoilers, and would like to remind readers that the first book in the series, Seeds of Autumn is available here. This section comes near the start of the book, and demonstrates some of the supernatural elements and the raw beauty of the world of shifters, Hepethia.

The pack set off at a run, heading south to the spot where the lightning had struck. The air was still buzzing with static when they got there, there were tiny ripples coming off a mound of pure crystal. It gleamed silvery blue in the late afternoon light and the sides jutted up from the smooth ground to form a wall over six feet high. The afternoon was drawing late and the tumultuous sky overheard was darkening, the storm was abating, the Lord having tired himself in the fight, but the rain persisted.

Stalker approached the mound and clucked her tongue in thought.

‘I guess we need to get inside,’ she said quietly. Weaver came up beside her and placed a hand on the crystal. Stalker copied her and felt the cool, hard surface against her palm. She pressed hard against it and felt a little give. She glanced at Weaver, who looked surprised and quickly retracted her hand. Stalker persisted and felt the crystal softening and warming. She watched in wonder as it slowly melted away from her palm and a small opening appeared. It wasn’t a mound at all, it was an impact crater. She looked around at the others, unable to hide her excitement and beamed at them. Eyes watched carefully, a small smile playing on his lips. Wind Talker frowned, caution written on his broad face.

Stalker took a step into the opening and stopped short, her gaze settling on the snake-like elemental curled up and glowing bright blue-white. It was about six feet long and the light radiating from it rippled along the supple body. It had huge chains shackled around it and rooted into the crystal floor.

‘That must be him,’ she whispered, looking over her shoulder at Wind Talker for confirmation. He peered around her and gave a single nod of his head and the four of them filed carefully in through the doorway and stood and watched the elemental for a minute.

Eventually he raised his head and looked at them with lamp-like eyes, obviously not surprised to see them, he must have been aware of them before.

‘Hello.’ The fae’s voice was little more than a crackle of electricity, but the one word somehow came through clearly.

‘Hello,’ Wind Talker replied and took a few steps closer. ‘Bound-and-Chained-Lightning, are you all right?’

Stalker was taken aback by the concern in Wind Talker’s voice and she smiled to herself.

‘Who? Me?’ The elemental lifted himself up more, looking at Wind Talker with wide eyes the colour of a tropical sea. ‘I don’t know. Am I?’

Wind Talker glanced back over his shoulder and gave a shrug to Eyes, clearly unsure how to proceed. Eyes moved up to stand next to him and looked thoughtfully at the elemental.

‘Do you know what you are?’ Eyes asked him.

‘Lightning?’ the elemental asked in a childlike voice. ‘Electricity?’

He seemed to be confused. Stalker and Weaver moved closer. Stalker felt so sorry for him, he was caught in a confusing limbo state between the two forces that made him, with powers pulling him in two directions at once. She could relate.

‘Can you tell me what I am?’ he asked, his eyes almost seemed sad. He was hard to read.

‘Power,’ Stalker replied without thinking, looking into his deep blue eyes.

There was a sudden shimmer from the elemental, he shook all over and flexed from nose to tail. Everyone jumped back as sparks flew off him and scattered across the floor. He flared up bright white, filling the whole crystal cage with blinding light and Stalker covered her eyes and turned away.

The light dulled and she looked back at him. He had grown; his chains had tightened around him but were still intact.

‘Thank you,’ he said, his voice suddenly older and with more of a crackle to it. ‘Things feel clearer now.’

Stalker grinned from ear to ear and looked back at her pack. They were smiling too.

‘We’re a new pack and need an ally. Are you willing to support us in establishing ourselves?’ Eyes asked, stepping forward and speaking kindly but with an edge of authority.

‘Yes. If you will free me,’ the elemental replied.

‘Consider it done,’ Eyes said with a firm nod.

Stalker looked around at the crystalline cage and the chains that bound this beautiful fae to the ground. It was raw Hepethia, alien and incredible. Making one small hole in the wall had taken a great deal of focus and mental energy, to break Bound-and-Chained-Lightning free would be a massive effort. She grasped Weaver’s hand and they exchanged determined glances.

‘We’ll need to all work together,’ she said quietly.

‘Can we change this?’ Eyes asked, raising a sceptical eyebrow.

‘I think so,’ Stalker replied, trying to keep the doubt from her voice. She focused her thoughts on breaking the crystal chains that snaked around Bound-and-Chained-Lightning, willing the fae to be free from its bonds. The chains began to shimmer and shake and the fae within them flexed. A crackle of electricity issued from it and it suddenly glowed brighter. Stalker was distracted for a moment, in awe of the beauty of the fae before them, but she quickly refocused. The chains were trembling and clinking slightly, making strangely melodic sounds.

She felt Weaver’s hand tighten on hers and a smile burst onto her lips; they were doing it. The chains began to creak and strain and suddenly a single link snapped, splintering into two pieces that scattered across the smooth floor. Another quickly followed and the fae rapidly expanded, free to move more than it ever had. With one last flex, the remaining chains snapped and Stalker reflexively shielded her face as the small pieces went flying in all directions.

Bound-and-Chained-Lightning soared into the air and seemed to explode into a thousand stars, scattering tiny sparks over the shifters below. Stalker squinted, shielding her eyes with her hand as she tried to watch the fae. The explosive flare died down and in place of the snake was a beautiful silver dragon flying in a figure of eight above them. He was a wingless, Chinese dragon, all rippling muscles and a bobbing head. He flickered constantly, like lightning behind clouds. Stalker drew a slow breath and looked around at the others.

‘He’s beautiful,’ Weaver whispered.

‘His name has changed,’ Wind Talker said, his voice full of wonder. ‘Unchained Lightning,’ he added slowly.

‘I love it,’ Stalker said, a bright smile lighting her face.

‘Unchained Lightning,’ Eyes called out. The fae stopped circling and looked down at them. ‘Will you honour our agreement and help us?’

‘The honour is mine,’ the fae replied, and he landed in front of them with a soft thud.

‘Excellent,’ Eyes said. ‘Then let’s begin.’

 


Cover Reveal!

I am absolutely delighted to reveal the cover for Ghosts of Winter, designed by the wonderful Nathalia Suellen.

The book will be going on sale on Kindle on Monday 24th November.

cover

Deep within the city of Caerton, shape shifters hide in the guise of humans, secretly fighting to protect them from the unimaginable demons that threaten their world.

Caerton’s newest shifter, Stalker, faces an uncertain future; as her pack struggles to cope with their devastating loss, dark forces begin to mass in the shadows. Tensions with the Witches continue to threaten the north, while the young shifters desperately strive to determine which of the city’s elders they can trust.

As an ancient and deadly evil emerges from beneath the city, Stalker and her new pack face a frantic race against the changing face of the moon. Can their demonic enemy be defeated? Heroes will rise in this, the second thrilling instalment of the Echoes of the Past series, where creatures from our darkest nightmares stalk our world…


Stupid Girls

I’ve been giving some thought to the role models I had in my teens, and whether young women today have similar or very different ones. British culture has definitely changed in the last fifteen to twenty years, and it concerns me to think about the influence of that culture on young people in their formative years. I’m coming at this as a woman and feminist, very much aware that young women today are often afraid to identify as feminists.

Joan Jett and Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna on stage and angry in 1994. Photograph: Ebet Roberts/Redferns

Joan Jett and Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna on stage and angry in 1994. Photograph: Ebet Roberts/Redferns

The teen years are all about self-discovery, and my own journey was one of rebellion against the mainstream. It was the 1990s; we had Britpop, and loud, lary entertainers. We had The Big Breakfast and TFI Friday, entertainment was all about volume. Girls like me had some amazing women in music to look up to; Skunk Anansie, Garbage, No Doubt and Alanis Morissette dominated the charts and blasted from my stereo. We had the flash-in-the-pan Ladette movement, with which I strongly identified, led by the in-yer-face Sara Cox, Zoe Ball and Denise Van Outen.

Even for those whose stream was a little closer to the main one, there were the Spice Girls. Manufactured and awful as they and their pop hits were, they were presented as five distinct young women, each with their own style and the freedom to speak their minds. Their “girl power” mantra defined that era. Today’s female pop stars seem to lack that, they’re pre-packaged, homogeneous tools to sell sex. Young girls aren’t watching Elastica rock out with their guitars, they’re seeing Miley Cyrus in nude underwear, twerking up against a man singing a song that normalises date rape.

At the age that I was reading Point Horror books that featured young women who had to get themselves out of deadly situations, girls today are reading books that romanticise controlling relationships.

What will this mean for the future? In ten years what kind of relationships with these young women be in? Will they feel confident in the workplace? Will there be fewer female politicians?

I am aware that not everything about my influences was positive. At fourteen, I wasn’t really aware of the emphasis on heavy drinking that was attributed to ladette culture, it wasn’t about that to me; the impression Coxy and her fellows made on me was positive and profound. They stood for the idea of being able to express yourself, and not conforming to an outdated archetype of femininity. Social commentaries seem to sit in one of two camps: either that these awful “girls” (adult women are often described as girls in this context, I have noticed) corrupted others into becoming binge drinkers and potential rape victims (Hello? Victim-blaming, slut-shaming culture!); or that ultimately, the movement was flawed because it still defined women in relation to men, and as an inferior version; younger sister trying to walk in big brother’s shoes.

Thankfully it’s not all bad news for today’s teens. They have singers such as Pink, Olympians like Jessica Ennis, and access to many of my own generation’s influences, such as Judy Bloom. Even if the contemporary influences that youngsters group around don’t have much to offer in the way of empowerment, the community they find in fandom can be a good source of friendship and support.

My second book, Ghosts of Winter, will go on sale very soon. I like to think that my protagonist, Ariana, is a positive role model. She’s independent, confident (most of the time) and stands on an equal footing with the males in her society. She has vulnerabilities too, not least of which is her impulsiveness. A while ago I had a moment of doubt over my inclusion of a romance sub-plot in the series, I questioned my feminist credentials if my kick-ass female lead was distracted by romantic diversions. However, I decided not to preoccupy myself with any rules or expectations and to tell the story that demanded to be told. Ariana’s romantic relationships are conducted largely on her terms, she knows what she wants and decides what is best for her. The romance is also interwoven with the primary plot-line, providing tension and conflict as well as what I hope is a good source of character development.

I also hope to be a good role model to my own children, and maybe one day, the readers of my books. As one of my idols, film producer Gale Anne Hurd, is attributed with saying: role-model-1I love to hear from you. Who are your role models, and why? Leave a comment below and don’t forget to subscribe for all the latest book news.

 


Teaser!

The second book in the Echoes of the Past series, Ghosts of Winter, is coming very soon. To wet your appetites, here is the blurb.

Deep within the city of Caerton, shape shifters hide in the guise of humans, secretly fighting to protect them from the unimaginable demons that threaten their world.

Caerton’s newest shifter, Stalker, faces an uncertain future; as her pack struggles to cope with their devastating loss, dark forces begin to mass in the shadows. Tensions with the Witches continue to threaten the north, while the young shifters desperately strive to determine which of the city’s elders they can trust.

As an ancient and deadly evil emerges from beneath the city, Stalker and her pack face a frantic race against the changing face of the moon. Can their demonic enemy be defeated? Heroes will rise in this, the second thrilling instalment of the Echoes of the Past series, where creatures from our darkest nightmares stalk our world…

If you are interested in receiving a free copy to review, please contact me below.