fantasy

2016 #Pitchwars Mentee Bio

A little bit about me. If you took past last year, you’ll recognise most of this as I haven’t changed much over the last year, apart from one thing: I’m pregnant with my first child, nicknamed the little monster, who is due in October!

I live in the beautiful city of Bath, in the UK. Being British means I was able to queue about the time I learned to walk and was fluent in sarcasm by the time I went to school. Yes, I do drink tea, especially while writing, but it’s usual green tea. I have about two dozen types in the house at any one time. I’m dyslexic, which in writing means I tend to leave words out, or spell them in a mixed up manner. I love spellcheck with all my heart.

I met my partner at university. He’s my first boyfriend, my only love (beyond cheese), and we’re still together fourteen years later. I believe in the power of love.

I changed my name by deed poll, mostly because everyone kept spelling my original name wrong.

By day, I work in IT. Be aware, printers are powered by demons and will do everything in their power to mess with you. Never tell one you have a deadline. I’m still one of two women in the office, and I’m the one making the “that’s what she said” jokes. (I think I was fluent in innuendo by the time I hit secondary school). I can speak a bit of Japanese, less French and say take the first road on the left in German. I can sign the alphabet in BSL and sign the suspicious banana is on the table. I have yet to find a use for this talent.

A man once offered my mother two camels and half a bar for me in Cyprus. She said no. True story.

I like cheese more than chocolate, and being a west country girl my favourite drink is cider. (I’m missing it terribly at the moment!)  I’m partial to rum as well; Kraken is my preference.

I collect plushie animals. My latest addition is a whaleshark. My amazing partner finally found a plushie pangolin, my favourite animal for me. This is my collection (as of last year. I’ll try and update the photo):

IMG_20150807_233037_1

I’ve been writing since I was five. I’ve been writing well for the last five or six years. Apparently I’m good at torturing my characters.  I write fantasy and horror, usually featuring m/m romance. While I love a decent scary story in any medium, I’m a terrible coward and suck at any kind of horror computer game. I write because I love my characters (even the ones I hurt) and I want others to love them too. Getting fan-art would make my life complete.

My pitchwars entry is an adult fantasy novel, triggered by my partner saying he wanted to read Guy Richie-esque mockey adventures, set in a high fantasy world. It didn’t end up quite being that, but it gives you a feel for the flavour of it. It features a sarcastic, self-depreciating bi protagonist, his were-kitten best friend, an unlicenced wizard with a weak constitution, and Finn, his dashingly handsome romantic interest, who turned up rather suddenly and very naked.

Here’s a small snippet:

I allowed Darius to pull me back against the wall. Lights danced behind my eyes as if someone had lit chandeliers in my skull. The floor swayed beneath my feet and the air felt hot and stagnant. I leant heavily on Darius’s shoulder, trying to force myself to breathe normally.

“Are you all right? Don’t you faint on me.”

“I don’t faint,” I said, going for indignant but only managing to pull off slurred.

“What happened? Is he hurt?”

I looked up sharply at the sound of Finn’s voice, which set of an explosion of colours in my head, each one accompanied by a spike of pain. I’d never been assaulted by the colour orange before.

“Byran?”

He put his hand on my shoulder and his peacock-blue jacket filled my vision. I tried to say something witty, lowered my aim to something coherent, then gave up and focused on not throwing up on his shoes. He put my arm round his shoulders.

“We’re leaving,” Finn said.

All the colour was running out of the world like ink running off a page. Finn’s jacket turned a dull grey, the edges fuzzy and indistinct. Buzzing that might have been words or angry wasps mugged my ears and I gave up trying to hold on, letting unconsciousness and strong arms carry me away.

Find more lovely #Pitchwars writers here:
http://www.lanapattinson.com/pitchwars-2016-pimpmybio/

Advertisements

Extract from my Current Project

Please note this is part of a first draft. Any and all words are subject to change!

We approached from the back. The road leading to the house was already lined with coaches. I pulled my self up onto the wall and peered over. Ornamental gardens sprawled in front of me. There was a lake, with a small stream winding from its shores, and a round, faux-temple type structure with pillars and a statue inside. I didn’t see any dogs, or house-guards.

I turned back to Darius.

“Looks good. Let’s go.”

“How am I supposed to get up there?” he called.

I rolled my eyes. “Can’t you magic your way up here?”

“I told you, it doesn’t work like that.”

“Then do it like a normal person.” I reached my hand down. Why did I agree to this?

Eventually, with much awkward scrabbling, and several near falls on my part, he was sitting, panting on top of the wall. I didn’t waste a moment waiting for him and dropped down in to a flowerbed. There was a thud beside me.

“Bend your knees,” I said. “If you break your legs I’m leaving you here.”

I knelt behind a large flowering bush. There was a expanse of lawn leading down to a lake, a couple of beds of ornamental shrubs around the water, and a set of pillars with a domed roof that looked like a tiny temple. After that, there wasn’t much cover until we got to the steps that led up to the house. Orlando said there was a door to the cellars under the steps.

“Ready?” I asked Darius. “Try to keep up. Oh, and by the way, if I get the slightest hint of betrayal out of you, I’ll not only leave you behind, I’ll pay your family a visit, too.”

Darius looked wounded. “What’s it going to take for you to drop that?”

“I don’t know. Maybe complete elimination of my memory?”

Before he could answer back, I set off, keeping as low as possible, ducking behind whatever cover I could find. Darius, to his credit, was only just behind me the whole way, though I could hear him panting and puffing.

We reached the door, and I tried the knob. It opened with a rattle and we slipped into the cool darkness. I paused for a moment, letting my eyes adjust to the gloom.

“Where do we go from here?” Darius asked. I put my finger to my lips.

“Hush. We don’t know who else is down here.”

“Oh right.”

I rolled my eyes again. Did Belle feel this way about me? I was always provoking the same reaction, but I didn’t think I was anywhere near as annoying. I hoped I wasn’t, certainly.

I didn’t risk lighting a flame. Licking a finger, I could feel the air was flowing directly from ahead to behind, so there didn’t seem to be any other exits nearby. I put my hand on the wall and started walking, hoping Darius was following.

The darkness was that all-pervasive sort that makes you wonder if you are stepping through air or treacle. Darkness shouldn’t make it harder to move, but it does. It was a relief when lantern light revealed we had reached more heavily visited areas.

“If you see anyone, ignore them,” I said over my shoulder. “Whatever you do, leave any talking to me.”

My nose told me the kitchens were to the right of intersection we had reached. Up ahead got murky again, which suited me more.

“Hey, you!”

I could feel the waves of panic rolling of Darius as the voice rang down the corridor after us. I turned slowly to see a panting servant leaning against the wall.

“Cook sent me to get some more of the little…what d’ya call ‘ems,” I said, trying to send ‘calm down’ eye-signals to the wizard.

“Kumquats?” he asked and I nodded as if I knew what a kumquat was. “She wants another bag of flour too. Apparently they’re out of the asparagus canapés already. I bloody hate parties.”

I gave him a grin. “Don’t worry, I’ll grab it for you.”

“Thanks. Those cellars give me the creeps.” He turned to leave, then stopped. “What’s his story?”

“Him? He’s hopeless.” I put a hand on Darius’s shoulder. “Cook’s nearly thrown him out three times today already. His poor mother would surely die if her son lost another job. So I’m keeping him out of Cook’s way.” Without waiting to see if he bought it, I pushed Darius down the passage.

“You enjoyed that, didn’t you?” he said when we were out of earshot.

“I did indeed. I hope I get the opportunity to spin the tale out a bit more. We’ll make you a legend in this place before the night is out.”

“Please don’t.”

There was a strange smell in the air, metallic, but not like blood.

“You smell that?”

Darius nodded. In the dim light I could see his hair was standing up. That didn’t bode well. I crept forwards, my hand against the wall. The corridor came to an abrupt end, presenting us with three doors, all identical.

“Which one?” I asked Darius.

“I’m not picking. You’ll blame me for whatever we find in there.”

Great. A wizard with a persecution complex. Closer investigation showed that the doors on the left and right were not locked, but the one ahead was, so that made my decision easier. I pulled out my picks, then paused.

“Can you see if there’s any magic on the lock?”

Darius nodded. “They took my stuff, but I should be able to improvise.” He reached up and plucked a hair from his head, and tied this onto a small button he pulled out of his pocket. Muttering over the make-shift pendulum, he held it near the lock. It remained resolutely still.

“Looks safe,” Darius said.

I bent down to pick the lock, and a revolting smell wafted out of the keyhole.

“Ugh, smells like something died down there.”

“Maybe we should look elsewhere. There are probably rats.”

There was a sharp click as the lock gave, and I pushed the door open. The smell was far worse now. Darius retched.

“Keep it down,” I said. “I don’t need you attracting attention by puking.”

Darius clapped a handkerchief over his mouth, struggling not to gag. I couldn’t blame him for being queasy. I’d probably be the same if there was anything in mine. I pinched my nose shut and made my way down the steps.

There were more than I was expecting. We’d descended more than two stories by my estimation when we reached another door. This one wasn’t locked, and from the way the wood was damp and warped, it wouldn’t have taken more than a kick to break through.

On the other side of the door was a large chamber. It looked natural, like a cave, rather than a cellar. A crack in the ceiling let moonlight through, washing everything in a silvery light.

The smell was better here, which made me wonder what I’d missed in the darkness of the steps.

“This looks promising, don’t you think?” I asked Darius.

“If by promising you mean distinctly eerie,” he replied. “At least it doesn’t smell like dead rat quite so much.”

The chamber was large, about twenty feet across, and roughly circular. The stone walls formed a rugged dome, glistening with moisture. There was nothing else in here, but footprints in the dust lead to the back of the chamber.

Darius pulled out his make-shift pendulum. It twitched slightly over his palm.

“There’s magic nearby.”

“Then we haven’t come all this way for nothing.”

I walked to the back of the chamber and stopped. There was a triangular gap, wide enough for both of us to walk through side by side. Which was fine, but I could see as it went further back through the rock that it got narrower and shorter until I’d be almost crawling.

“What are you waiting for?” Darius asked as I stared into the deep black, my palms sweating.

I cleared my throat. “There’s magic, right? You should go first.”

Darius looked at me. “Didn’t have you pegged as a coward, Byran.”

“I’m not. I just happen to like this shape, so I want you to go ahead and trigger any magic traps that might turn me into a toad.”

He put a hand to his chin, one finger tapping at his cheek. “You can’t be scared of the dark, and you wouldn’t get that close to Finn if you really were bothered by magic. Enclosed spaces? That’s it, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said. “Get down there.”

To my dismay, he patted my shoulder. “It will be fine.”

Great. Rejected in the morning and now patronised by Darius. My life had hit a new low.

“It’s not too bad,” he called from the darkness. “It’s only about fifteen feet and if you stoop, you shouldn’t need to crawl.”

I took a deep breath, regretted it due to the lingering smell, and forced myself into the passage. As the rock pushed in on me, forcing my back lower, all the air seemed to get squeezed out. My heart was loud in my ears already, and only got louder the more I was forced to duck.

Darius was right: it probably was only about fifteen feet from end to end, but it felt like I’d done about fifty when I popped out, wheezing, at the other end.

Darius offered me a hand. “Are you all right?”

I ignored it out of spite, gripping the damp wall as I pulled myself to my feet.

“N-not a word to anyone.” Though Belle already knew and I doubted Finn gave damn.

I looked around while my heart settled down. It was another roundish cave-room, but this one had tiles on the wall and a drain running round the edge. The smell was back again.

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this place,” Darius muttered.

“You don’t say.” There was a lantern on the wall and I lit it with Darius’s tinderbox. Brown stains on the wall snapped into focus. “Well, that’s not good.”

“We should go,” he said, backing away. “There can’t be anything good down here.”

“You don’t know that. There might be books. If we find any, I’ll let you keep them.”

I started off towards the door – a proper, normal-looking door thankfully – and he sighed, then followed. When I opened this one, I was hit with that same smell from the steps. It was that cloying, almost sweet smell of something rotting.

It was enough that I almost agreed with Darius about leaving.

The room looked like something out of one my father’s sermons. He particularly enjoyed the ones about the underworld, and how everyone was a whisker away from condemning themselves to it. There would be pain and torment beyond imagination, he would tell us gleefully. Sadistic old goat.

There was a table in the centre of the room, grooves round the edge and a drain underneath it. Cages, some big enough for a person, stood against one wall, while a variety of tools lined the other. They ranged from the precise to the proverbial walnut-mangling hammer.

I took a step back, my heart pounding in my ears. It was taking every ounce of self-control to override my survival instincts to run. There was a reason we were down here and I needed to follow through.

I turned to Darius. The wizard’s face gleamed like a pale moon in the darkness. His hands trembled at his sides as he looked around, trying to keep his gaze falling too long on any one thing. Couldn’t blame him this time.

“Darius.” I had to snap my fingers twice before he would look at me. “Is there magic?”

“I…I don’t know.”

“Then find out. I want to get out of here as much as you, but we can’t leave unless we’re sure this has nothing to do with Finn.”

He stared, eyes unfocused, at my chest – probably the only safe thing in the room – and I prepared to slap him. I wouldn’t have even taken any pleasure in it. Then he blinked and took out the button pendulum. It swung wildly over his palm.

“I’ll take that as a yes then.”

He nodded and moved his hand around in a circle. It didn’t surprise me to see it reacting more as he got closer to the central table.

“It doesn’t mean anything,” he muttered. “It doesn’t mean it’s connected.”

It was my turn to put a hand on his shoulders. The muscles were tense under my fingers, like an animal at the point of flight.

“Stay by the door,” I told him. “I’ll take a look around.”

He nodded again, gratefully this time, and backed away. I walked down the row of cages, my stomach churning like the sea in a storm. Bile made the back of my throat burn. I hoped Finn appreciated the lengths I was going to for him.

Most of the cages were empty, apart from traces of blood and other things I wasn’t going to look at too closely. On the far side of the room, in one of the smaller ones, movement caught my eye.

“Byran,” Darius called, in a croaky whisper. I ignored him and carried on.

There was a rat in the last cage, lying on its side. Its little paws twitched and clenched as if the animal suffered some sort of palsy. There were gashes and scars all over its body. As I stepped closer, it opened its eyes and I knew we’d found what we were looking for: they were the same blue as flaming alcohol.

“Byran,” Darius said again, more urgently.

“Shut up. Get over here.”

The rat was dying. Its sides heaved like bellows and its eyes rolled in their sockets. I hoped this was the result of its injuries, rather than something to do with its magical nature. I didn’t want to see Finn like that.

The wizard hadn’t come over to join me. I looked up and realised I should have been paying him more attention. He was pointing urgently through the door, back the way we had come and now I understood why. There were footsteps approaching.

There was nowhere to hide in the other two chambers. The only cover between here and the upper cellars was the stone table next to me. I gestured at Darius. He gaped at me, I made a more pointed hand signal, and he got the hint. We scurried behind the big stone plinth and ducked down. The smell here was foul, but it wasn’t going to lock us in a cage and torture us until our eyes glowed at least.

The footsteps were half-drowned by my heart. I itched to peer round, get a glimpse of the person who must have been at the door by now. It could have been another servant, curious now the locked door was open. But my luck had never been that good.

“Gentlemen.” The voice rang out across the room with the confidence of a man with a very large stick. Or a bag of magic rats to back him up. “You’ve been seen coming down here. There’s no sense in hiding. I suggest you come out and explain yourselves. It will go easier for you.”

I ignored Darius tugging frantically at my sleeve and stood up. There was a single man standing at the door, his arms folded like a disgruntled parent. He didn’t look terrible threatening, but then neither did I. A fact many men had learned to their dismay.

I gave him a disarming smile. “Would you believe we were looking for kumquats?”

Happily Ever After, chapter one rewrite

The old, sea-warped gate in the bailey opens with a bitter squeal, dusting me in flakes of rust. I cringe at the sound, hoping the keening seagulls cover it. Sea-salt on the wind mixes with the smell of blood and anticipation in the air. I slip into the narrow space between the inner and outer bailey and signal my team to follow me.

Today, I take back my home. Today, I kill a man and end the reign of a tyrant. The idea of it makes my body tingle. Everything ends today. Either we defeat the Usurper and set the prince on the throne where he belongs, or we fail and nothing matters anymore.

“…Lavie.”

The voice makes me start and I curse under my breath. I’m getting ahead of myself and it will get me killed if I’m not careful. One of the soldiers accompanying me points up ahead and I hear something else. Footsteps.

“Sir,” I correct the man sharply as I draw my sword. “Wait here.”

I slip into the inner bailey and press my back against the wall by the steps. The unseen figure is almost at the bottom and my fingers twitch on my hilt. As he emerges, I step out and drive my sword into his belly.

Our eyes meet in the gloom. He’s not a soldier, just a runner, carrying messages and equipment where they’re needed. He’s also barely more than a boy, fifteen at most. His pale hands clutch at his stomach, trying to push the blood back, and a gurgling cry spills from his lips. I put my sword through his heart. He doesn’t even make a sigh as he falls, eyes now glassy, to the floor.

I choke down nauseous fury. Another life destroyed by the Usurper. There’s no time to mourn or rage though, and all we can do with the body is stuff it out the way by the sea-gate. Our mission is too important to jeopardise for the dignity of a corpse. I add the nameless boy to the list of those I will avenge as I wipe his blood from my sword.

In the shadow of the bailey wall, I split my team. Half make their way to the gatehouse to let in the prince’s army. The rest follow me to the keep. I can hear the battle on the wall raging, steel on steel echoing off the dark stones. Every shout and scream ignites my blood until I’m sure I must be glowing.

The killing ground between the wall and the keep is empty. Maybe the gods favour us, but a wash of dread douses my battle lust. It shouldn’t be this easy.

“Don’t stop until you’re in the keep,” I tell my men. “If anyone falls, even me, keep going. It doesn’t matter who kills the Usurper, as long as someone does.”

I want it to be me. The idea of someone else doing it disturbs me more than any thoughts of swords or arrows. Even still, I run as if every creature from the pits is after me to the heavy oak doors of the keep. They’re not barred, which sends another icy shudder through me.

I remember the way to the throne room with ease. I know that’s where he’ll be. Since our army drew up outside the castle, we haven’t seen the Usurper once. It doesn’t surprise me. He took the castle through cowardice – posing as an envoy of peace and trade, then poisoning King Reynald at a feast in his honour. He’ll be clinging to the throne as long as he can.

The steps to the throne room rise up like a mountain. For a moment, I cannot even contemplate the idea of reaching the top. My legs shake. Sweat soaks the hair under my helmet, spreading through the padding beneath my armour.

“This isn’t right,” one of the soldiers mutters. “Where is everyone?”

“It doesn’t matter,” I say. “It ends, now.” I put one foot on the first step, then the next, and the next until I am standing at the throne room door.

There is a hastily erected barricade across the door that seems to be made mostly of the couriers’ benches. It does nothing to stop us and we tear into it like it was a suckling pig. As enough is dismantled for me to push through, I see him.

As I suspected, he’s sitting on the throne. The Usurper, the man who killed my king and plunged my home into three years of chaos, watches me with a smile. I tighten the grip on my sword and stride towards him.

“In the name of Prince Brendan, prepare to die.” My voice is too high, sharpened by my emotions. His smile grows.

Something gleams in my peripheral vision. I stagger back and catch sight of a bull of a man charging towards me.  I duck as an axe grazes the edge of my helmet.  Deafened and dazed, I bring up my sword, head ringing too much to think beyond that. He swings the axe round and the impact judders up and down my arm. My grip on the weapon falters and my heart starts to beat faster. I bite my lip, forcing myself to focus.

Kicking out, my boot connects with his knee and I push my sword forward, driving his arm back. My opponent grunts with surprise. He wasn’t expecting my strength. They never do. I thrust, out and up, catching him at the point where his gorget meets the neck of his breast plate. The sword squeals over the steel and grates on his collar bone. It does not penetrate far into his flesh, but it’s enough.  As he falls, the blood spilling from his neck in ever more feeble jets, two of my men take down another of the Usurper’s lieutenants. A third man hangs back, injured, but not fatally. I’ve gotten good at telling what’s fatal these last few years.

The Usurper stands up from the throne, King Reynald’s crown perched on his head at a disrespectfully jaunty angle. My hatred seethes like boiling oil. I signal for the others with me to stop. This is my moment. This is what I have been waiting for. His jet-black armour clanks and creaks as he steps down towards me and I examine it carefully, looking for weaknesses.

He sweeps a low bow. He wears no helmet and there are blue veins running under the skin of his hairless scalp. His eyes seem to change colour as I watch.

“I have been waiting for you,” he says in a soft voice that carries through the carnage of the throne room. I can feel the eyes of all my men on me. It makes me feel strangely naked.

“Draw your sword.” My grip tightens on my own weapon. “Or must I cut you down like a toothless dog?”

“My, the young prince did well in finding such a ferocious champion.”

Hah, shows what you know. I found him.

“Your sword,” I say again. My cheeks burn as they flush with anger.

“No need.” His voice is so smooth, like honey on a warm day. There is something equally sickly about it, and my stomach turns in a way that blood and broken bones have not managed. “No need, my dear. I surrender.”

I draw back my sword, ready to swing, ready to take his head from his shoulders. Ready to end it. And then I realise what he has said.

“I…what?”

It is not, on reflection, the best reaction. Brendan would have said something noble, and Harry would have made a quip that shattered dignity like a weapon, but I can only trip over my tongue.

The Usurper kneels at my feet, neck bent in supplication as he offers me the hilt of his sword.

“I surrender.”

 

 

Book Review – Chronicles of the Nocturnal Forest

FrontCover

Chronicles of the Nocturnal Forest – Vanessa Kings

Melanie is living an ordinary, boring life when one night she is transported in her dreams to the Kingdom of Astebeth. Night after night, the fairy of her dreams will tell her the stories of the inhabitants of the Kingdom, its town, and the magical Nocturnal Forest nearby. A forest full of magical creatures where the impossible can happen. Soon, she comes to
suspect that her dreams may not only be dreams after all. Follow her on her incredible journeys that will take her to magical places and beyond Earth itself to discover the magical secret of the Nocturnal Forest in the first part of The Fairy of my Dreams trilogy.

Score – 2

Breakdown:

Plot – 2

Characters – 2

Writing – 3

I’m going to start by saying this book didn’t work for me. Your mileage may very much vary. This is book has a very strong fairytale feel, is sweet, innocent , and light. I can see that would appeal to other readers. Unfortunately I couldn’t bond with this book.

Melanie, the narrator, is a girl struggling to fit in. She wants to spend more time away from the real world, prefers her books to dealing with people. I could definitely relate to this. Initially, there’s a conflict with her parents, who naturally want her to come out of her shell as she’s at the age where she should be considering university and careers, rather than fairytales. Unfortunately, this conflict doesn’t really go anywhere. There are no real consequences for Melanie as she gets sucked into the dream world and the lives of the people there. She doesn’t fail exams, and the relationship the parents don’t really sour or come to a head in a big argument. I would have liked to see more  development of her, for her to be more than just the narrator of the story, which is all she is. There’s a reason for her recording her dreams, revealed at the end, but she doesn’t really grow or learn from her experiences.

Melanie’s dreams focus around a particular family. The first story is of Sarah and Thomas, star-crossed lovers who were denied by nature of their birth hundreds of years ago. Now reborn, they fall in love again, but unfortunately so is their enemy, who kept them apart in the part. I’m all for a forbidden and the redeemed love. I adore that sort of thing. My problem with Sarah and Thomas’s story was that it was too easily resolved. They were kept apart by nature of their birth, but now they are reincarnated in right social classes to live happily ever after, and that’s all their really is to it.

There’s an awful lot of happily ever after in this book. As the family moves through the years, children are born, grow up, fall in love, live happily and have more children that do the same. If this hadn’t been the format of the majority of the book, it wouldn’t have bothered me too much, but it ended up dragging for me. I found myself skipping through things because I wasn’t worried that anything was going to really happen.

What I did like was the whimsy of some of the events, which verged on the surreal in places. The moon goes missing in one dream, and in another there’s a spaceship ride to Mercury, where the characters meet the Mercurians and enrol them in solving problems back on Earth. This sort of throwing all rules to the wind and running the story on pure imagination really appealed to me. It felt fresh and different and I wished there was  more of it.

The ending was unsurprising, and there were a few editing issues I noticed that I didn’t see elsewhere.

The book is also illustrated and both the chapter breaks and the illustrations of the characters are a lovely touch that add to the feel of the book. Overall, while I found the characters lacked depth and the plot could have done with more stakes, I can see this working well for younger readers, perhaps as a book for parents to read with their children.

Realistic Vs Believable

I write mainly horror and fantasy, so my work is full of things that either don’t exist, can’t exist, or most people wouldn’t accept existing. Demons, guardian spirits, soul transference, sympathetic magic, mind reading, ghosts and were-kittens have all appeared in manuscripts I have written or I’m currently writing. In exploring these topics, there are two levels of acceptance I need to get from the reader.

Whatever genre a story falls under, it is important to get the reader to accept all aspects of it from the setting to the characters and their motivations. If the reader stops accepting what they are being presented, then they can get confused or frustrated with the book and in the worst case, they’ll put it down and not pick it up again.

But in my opinion, there’s a difference between being realistic, and being believable.

Realism applies to things that exist in the real world. Even in fantasy, realism is important. Normal people cannot just pick up a sword and become world-class fighters. Horses have limits in how much they can carry and how far they can run. Different weapons have different purposes, skills required to use them, and effects on armour. If you have no magical healing system, injury and infection are major risks to your characters. Some things will only be criticized up by the very nit-picky readers, and most will forgive a good story minor transgressions, but a bit of research can go a long way to making the story realistic.

But what if you do have a magical healing system? What if travellers watch the sky for dragons, or the undead stalk abandoned supermarkets? What if there are aspects of you book that will never be realistic? Given the number of fantasy books published, not to mention all the other genres that aren’t fully realistic, there isn’t a problem in getting readers to pick them up. If you’re anything like me, I prefer to be taken away from reality as much as possible.

It still has to be believable though. I still have to accept whatever wild wonderful ideas you throw at me in a book. Mostly it comes down to consistency. When you set up the rules of your world, you need to keep to them. If you tell me dragons need to eat a hundred sheep a day, then send your dragon riders into a desolate wasteland for a week, I’m going to expect there to be some negative effects on their mounts. If your super prototype giant robot defeats all adversaries without so much as a scratch until badly damaged by a tank simply because the plot requires it to fail at that point, I’m going to rage.

So, flying, fire-breathing lizards are not realistic. If you tell me you saw one flying over Bristol, I’m going to wonder what you’ve been smoking. But if you build the world right, I’ll happily dive into a fictional story and consider them no less believable than horses or turnips.

Book Review – Branded (Fall of Angels, Book 1)

Branded (Fall of Angels, Book 1) Keary Taylor

Jessica’s had the nightmares for as long as she can remember. Nightmares of being judged for people who have died, of being branded by the angels. Her friends and family think she’s crazy because of it all. Yet she carries the mark of the condemned, seared into the back of her neck, and hides it and herself away from the world.

But when two men she can’t ignore enter her life, everything changes, including the nightmares. The two of them couldn’t be more different. She will do anything to be with one of them. Even tell him the truth about angels, why she never sleeps, and the scar on the back of her neck. But one of the two has set events into motion what will pull her toward her own judgment and turn her into the object of her greatest fear.

Score: 2 stars

Breakdown:

Plot – 2

Characters – 2

Writing – 3

I saw this book was free on Kindle so downloaded it because the plot sounded interesting and and I thought I might get a good series out of it. Sadly, I was disappointed. It started so well – the main character desperately trying to fight off sleep and losing the battle against exhaustion, then a brutal and vivid dream of a man being judged by angels and condemned. I was instantly hooked on the setting.

And then the book got going and I felt like I had been lied to.  Chapter two contains so many bad writing cliches. Starting the chapter with waking I could forgive, given the plot. But the mirror scene, the long drawn out description of every action she takes – seriously, I know how to pour cereal – and the repetitive writing made me wonder if I was reading another book.

The plot is predictable. There are no twists, it just seems that Jessica, the main character, is thick. Any person with half a brain would have put everything together from the moment things started happening. And that was far too late in the book. After the vivid and dramatic opening, not a lot happens for a while. We get introduced to Jessica’s life, her neighbour, and then the arrival of the impossibly perfect love interest, Alex, but no plot. When it does happen, it just happens to Jessica. Things are revealed with convenience, and other things are forgotten until they are necessary. Jessica is an amazing artist, for example, but that only comes up once when she needs to have something revealed to her by an old drawing.

The characters are flat. I wanted to like Jessica, but the more she failed to do anything, the less I could consider her as a worthy heroine. Alex is a cardboard cut-out of what an ideal man should be. He has no flaws. They fall in love instantly, despite the fact there doesn’t seem to be any reason for his attraction to Jessica. Emily and Cole are both plot bunnies, nothing more. The only one of any interest to me was Sal, Jessica’s neighbour who was beaten by her abusive husband. But even she is reduced to screaming “Plot!” at Jessica over and over by the end of the book.

The implied love-triangle is awkward, and any tension arising from it would have easily been solved if Jessica had been honest. “Hi, Cole. I was being friendly because you’re a new neighbour, but please don’t read anything more into it because I’m dating Alex.” “Hi, Alex. I was nice to the new neighbour, and he seems to have got the wrong message. Sorry about that.” There, problem solved. Because I didn’t care about the romance, the climax fell flat. I was only reading to get to the end by that point. Everything is tied up too neatly, the sacrifice is rendered pointless, and there wasn’t really much to make me want to find out about the plot, even if I had cared about the characters in the slightest.

Overall, I brilliant idea and first chapter, let down by a lack-luster book full of flat, dull, and stupid characters.

Book Review – Destinies Intertwined

BookCover01

Destinies Intertwined by Gaytri Deshmukh

Lark isn’t your normal princess. She’s the princess of Myrinor, an influential kingdom with a rich history. Along with that title come great responsibilities, such as learning swordplay, trying her best to be the perfect role model, and most importantly, hiding her deepest secret. As days go by, she discovers that her best friend, Julian, is not what he seems. An ancient curse resurfaces from the past and drags them both into the heart of a forgotten kingdom. The fates of both kingdoms rest in their hands. The quest begins to end it all.

Score: 3 stars Breakdown:

Plot – 2.5

Characters – 3

Writing – 3.5

This is a strong book, if you want to sit down for an afternoon of escapism. It’s got a princess, mythical creatures, true love and an evil villain. Sometimes that’s exactly what I am in the mood for: a story that takes me away from the real world and deposits me in a new place where I can have faith that good will conquer evil and love will win out in the end. The writing is fluid, the descriptions shine and the writer never descends into language that is pretty but meaningless. There are a few typos but nothing that would detract from enjoying the book. I didn’t like the multiple punctuation (?! is used frequently) or capitalised words, but again, that doesn’t effect the reading.

I liked Julian, the dragon shape-shifter love interest.  He’s easy on the metal eye and perfect for escapist fiction with his strong arms and dedication to the main character, Lark. I wanted to like her more. Her full name, Gaylark, was really pretty in my opinion, and I enjoyed the fact the book opened with her sword fighting. To be fair, there was little bad about Lark as a person. She wasn’t whiny, spoiled or selfish, and she has a strong and determined spirit. She just didn’t really do much. I quite liked Seth, too and I was glad the author refrained from setting up a love triangle. His development was predictable, but it was a comfortable sort of predictable, like well worn shoes.

While Lark is not quite a sit in the tower and wait to be rescued type princess, she’s not terribly instrumental in moving the plot, either. While Julian fights for her, she rescues him from a siren simply by being in the same room. She doesn’t do anything, but the siren would rather deal with her than him and he gets away. There is a plot reason for this, but it makes the rescue feel anticlimactic. She is instrumental in the climax of the book, but it doesn’t feel like something she alone could have done. Things happened a bit easily in the book for me to feel the tension. At least two major plot items fall into Lark’s lap, one almost literally and just in the nick of time. Julian’s identity feels convenient and mostly unnecessary. It only really has an impact on the events right at the end. The villain’s plan didn’t really let me know how he was going to take over the kingdom. It was just accepted that he would.  I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I felt like Lark was working for the victory more.

Despite that, I did enjoy the book. It’s good escapism, the sort of tale you can wrap yourself up in to shut out the complications and contradictions of the real world. You probably won’t be surprised by anything in it, but sometimes it’s nice to see where you’re going. I did think the last line was an adorable mixture of cheesy and cute. You can buy Destinies Intertwined on Amazon and Smashwords, and catch up with the author on Figment,  and Goodreads.

Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Goblins

This is a first draft, and the title likely to change too.

Two hours to sunrise and I was already running for my life. Not the best start to the morning, I had to admit, even for me. The sound of dogs – large, angry dogs – was horribly close as I pounded down the muddy streets. Jake the Lock was going to be in trouble when I caught up with him. Selling shoddy lock-picks was fine as far as I was concerned – less competition in the thieving business that way – but selling them to me? There were going to be words about this.

This was the nicer part of the city, which sadly meant it was comprised of wide open streets and houses full of people who noticed things like strange men running through the night. Even the mud was higher quality. I had one chance of survival and I didn’t like it much.

I could practically smell the dogs’ breath now. My destination was in sight, but I wasn’t as confident as I liked to be. I don’t like uncertainty. I don’t get out of bed for less than pretty damn sure. Unless I’m really hungry.

Something snapped at my ankle. I didn’t look round, because only people who want to end up dead look round, but I knew I was in trouble. Story of my life. I blamed my mother.

The creature snapped again, catching fabric this time. I winced as I felt damp teeth slide over my skin. The dog pulled and my foot slipped. I twisted with the practiced reflexes of one who has been in this situation far too often. I wasn’t going to become a mud-covered dog-toy for anyone.

Weight now firmly on my back foot, I pulled the knife out of my right sleeve and threw it. I always kept my least favourite blade there because it was the one I went for first and thus was most likely to lose. I was rewarded with a squeal and the dog let go, pawing at its face. If I’d been an animal person, I’d have felt bad. I’m more of a me person, though.

There were two more dogs barrelling up the street towards me and I resigned myself to losing more than one knife. I’d take the money out of Jake the Lock. As the second dog hit the ground with a whine, I heard a cry of dismay. Great. The masters had caught up with their pets. I spun, slipped a couple of steps and regained my balance.

Yes, there were definitely going to be words.

The bridge loomed up ahead, glowing in the light of the torches. It was a beautiful bridge: statues at each end, smooth, white stone body. I had no time for beautiful things. Ugly things had more honesty in my books. And more value.

Two guards were walking across it, away from me, but they stopped and turned at the sound of shouting. That’s why guards have such a low life expectancy in this city. Always doing silly things like turning round and investigating crimes. These two were lucky. I didn’t have the time, effort or inclination for a fight.

I put on a burst of speed, using the last of my energy, and reached the parapet before they did. Two hands on the cold stone, I swung myself over and then I was falling towards the river, praying I was correct about the depth here. The last thing I needed right now was a broken leg.

The river was freezing and it knocked all the breath out of me as I sank under the surface. Looked like it wasn’t broken bones that were my biggest worry. The current was strong, pulling me towards the ocean like a prized possession. My lungs burned and I had to fight the primal urge to take a breath with all my might.

It was dark too. I couldn’t see the surface. Which way was survival and which way was murky, bottom-feeding death? I kicked, not having any other option, and hoped I was going the right way. I don’t like praying. It can attract attention.

My head broke the surface and I gasped, drawing in a breath of air sweeter than honey. I looked back towards the bridge. The guards and my pursuers were still standing looking for me, but they were a good way away now, thanks to the current. As if to make the point, an arrow hit the water more than ten feet from my little toe. I ducked my head back under the water, leaving my middle finger above the surface for a moment longer, and then swam on.

The river is the blood supply of the city. It passed though the whole length, which meant it was able to drop me off close to home. Pulling myself out, I shook off, making a largely futile attempt to at least prevent myself from dripping. I was cold, tired, and I stank, but damn if the city didn’t stink more.

I think that’s why I loved the city of Neros so much. It reminded me I wasn’t the most unfortunate thing out there.

“Hello, Trouble,” a voice purred in my ear.

I jumped, tripped over my ankle, and ended up on my butt. No, this really wasn’t my day.

“Dammit, Belle, I told you not to do that.”

“Do what?” she asked innocently, twisting a lock of white-gold hair around her finger. Belle was very good at playing the innocent, but it was a bad idea to fall for it. Give her an inch, and she’d break your arm and take your purse before you could say kitty-cat. “Scare you or call you Trouble?”

“Both,” I muttered as I allowed her to help me up.

“It is your name.”

“It’s my middle name.” Seriously. What parent would saddle their kid with that kind of baggage? My mother claimed she could smell trouble on me from the start. If that were true, you’d think she’d keep a better eye on her valuables around me. My “leaving-home fund” had set me up nicely.

Belle looked at me with those golden eyes – the only part of her condition visible – and then said the magic word: “Breakfast?”

“Only if you’re paying,” I said, because she’d expect it. Truth was, I’d give my right arm for some dry clothes and a hot meal right now.

“It’s fine. I’ve got this.” She put her hand on my shoulder and then took it off again with a grimace. “Ugh, you’re cold.”

“Happens when you go swimming before dawn. I’ll meet you at Dales?”

“Sure.” She turned away, heading back up the street at an easy saunter. Men got out of her way. In her human form, Lylabelle was a big woman with the grace and temperament of a bear fresh out of hibernation. She was the ideal partner in crime for a number of reasons, not least being her ability to roll people up into little balls of broken limbs.

My home was a single room over a fishmonger’s shop. It didn’t smell great, but it was better than a tanner’s yard. Moll was setting up as I arrived.

“Got a message for you, Byran,” she called. That’s why I liked Moll. Not What time is this to be rolling home? or Why do you look like a drowned rat?

“Thanks. Anything I need to actually listen to?” Lots of people left me messages, but most of them weren’t worth my time.

“Something about a job. Be at the Jugged Hare tonight if you’re interested.”

“That’s it? Just ‘a job’?”

“That’s all he said, and I wasn’t going to press him for details. You’ve got your work, By, and I’ve got mine. And never the twain shall meet, you hear?”

I gave her a grin. “Fair, fair. Guess I’ll have to wait and see.”

“Go on, get on with you before I mistake you for a fish and put you out on display.”

I sometimes wondered how I would have turned out if I’d been raised by a woman like Moll. She’d never call a child Trouble.

Dry and changed, I made my way to Dales, an eating establishment of cheap but dubious nature. I found Belle sitting at a table in the corner of the room. The woman knew me well.

“Breakfast is on its way,” she said as I sat down opposite her. “Do you fancy telling me what you were doing in the river?”

“Practicing my technique?” I suggested and she gave me a very dirty look. “Fine. I was escaping. A job went bad. Which reminds me. I need to drop in on Jake later.”

“Can I watch?”

A couple of bowls were set in front of us, hot and greasy. Belle slipped the man some coins. She, at least, had a productive evening.

“If you like. Might have something else lined up if you’re looking for work?”

She slurped down a mouthful and wiped her hand over her lips. “My day job pays fine. Look at this.” She set a leather collar decorated with rose quartz on the table.

“Cute. You could wear it as a bracelet.”

“People pay good money for cute, By. Probably why you’ll never amount to anything. Oh, don’t pout. Tell me about your job. I could use some more excitement in my life and you’re good for that, at least.”

“Well.” I cleared my throat. “I don’t really know much about it. Someone left a message saying be at the Jugged Hare tonight if I wanted to know more.”

Belle laughed, and flicked a lump of congealed fat from her bowl at me. “The Hare isn’t excitement, Byran. It’s a death-wish. You been pissing people off again?”

If I didn’t know better, I’d say she was concerned. “Not deliberately. Not interested then?”

“Are you?” she asked, one eyebrow raised. “Seriously, you can’t be considering going to a dangerous place on the word of a complete stranger because there might be a job in it for you? Are things really that tight at the moment?”

Now she did sound concerned and it made me bristle. I didn’t want her sympathy. But… “Things have been lean for a while. I could use a well paying job.”

“Fine. We’ll check it out. Can’t have you depending on me for breakfast every day.”

It wasn’t the breakfast that bothered me. But I was getting to the point where making rent was going to be tough and I didn’t want to let Moll down.

“Whatever it is, I want a good cut.”

“I haven’t agreed to anything yet!” I finished the last greasy mouthfuls and set the bowl down. “Meet you at dusk?”

She picked up my bowl to lick it clean and gave me a dismissive wave.

I only meant to go home for a couple of hours of sleep, but I woke to something soft butting my head in a darkened room. Great. I rolled over to find myself staring into a pair of amber eyes. On a small, buttermilk-coloured kitten.

“That’s how you’re going, Belle?”

The kitten made a soft chirruping sound.

“Fat lot of good you’re going to be if a fight breaks out.”

Somehow her expression managed to convey the fact that she had chosen that shape for exactly that reason. She had a point, I supposed. It was easier to slip out of a bad situation as a kitten than a woman.

“Whatever. Come on, let’s go.” I held out my arm and she scrambled up to my shoulder, where she gave my cheek a friendly rub. She was always better natured and more affectionate as a kitten.

The streets were still busy an hour after dusk. People making their way home, or going out in search of beer and good company. Lovers on their way to trysts. There were fewer on the approach to the Jugged Hare, a dank establishment that backed onto the river. I wasn’t sure whether that was for the smuggling connections or simply because it made it easier to dump the bodies after the inevitable knife fights.

The place attracted a very particular clientele. Mostly men who all believed they were the toughest thing in the room. As long as no one made the claim out loud, there was relative peace. Of course, someone always did.

I pushed open the door, and tried to ignore the quiet as everyone present took in a stranger entering. Every eye would be on me, and if I made contact with any of them, and they saw weakness, I’d be looking for my kidney on the floor.

There was a table in the back corner that looked dark and empty enough for me. Belle dropped down and made herself comfortable on my lap. I paid a passing barmaid one of my few precious coins in return for a pint of what appeared to be horse-piss.

And then I waited.

That’s how these things work. You sit there, trying to work out who is watching you. And they try to work out if you’re genuine or if you’ve got the city guards or a rival gang waiting outside the door. Either of us moves too soon and the whole thing will fall apart.

About an hour and another begrudging beer later, someone approached my table. He was wearing a hood, his face invisible in the murky inn. I wasn’t surprised. Keeping an advantage like that is common. So I was a little surprised when he lowered it.

“Are you Byran Tarn?”

“Who wants to know?” I took a drink, trying to be nonchalant. It was a mistake. It’s hard to be casual when you’re trying to suppress your gag reflex.

I tried to size him up slyly, then decided there was little point in being subtle. This man wasn’t a threat. He was tall and thin, with floppy brown hair and a good crop of pimples. He looked like what would happen if you put a twelve-year-old on a rack and stretched him up to adult size.

“My name’s Darius Small. I was told to meet you here.”

“Really. And who told you that?”

Darius scratched at his ear. “I don’t know his name. He said come here and find you and I’d find out more. I’m guessing you don’t know anything then?”

“Didn’t say that.” I didn’t, of course, but I wasn’t going to admit it. “Sit down. You’re making people nervous and that’s not something you want to do around here.”

He swallowed, looking around him, while I tried to calculate my odds of getting out of here with both kidneys. They were dropping fast. As soon as he was sitting, the barmaid set a flagon down in front of him. I held my breath until he paid for it.

“So, Darius. What exactly is it that you do?”

“I’m…” He lowered his voice to a timid whisper. “I’m a wizard.”

That wasn’t good. I didn’t have much time for those who thought poking the fabric of reality with a sharp stick was a good idea. And those who did it without a licence terrified me, frankly. There are few things more likely to cause disaster than a man who proclaims “I don’t know what I am doing, but I’m going to do it anyway!” I felt Belle shift on my lap. She didn’t have much fondness for magic, either.

“Why do you have a cat?” Darius asked as she poked her head over the table.

“In case I get hungry.” Darius went a dangerous shade of green, but I was more concerned about the way Belle was digging her claws into my leg. I flicked the back of her soft head. “Don’t have a sense of humour failure. This is Lylabelle, my associate,” I added, looking up at Darius.

“But she’s a cat,” he said.

“The wizards are really missing out, not having you in their ranks,” I muttered. “She’s a cat currently. Sometimes she’s not. She’s a were-kitten.”

“Then…she’s very young?”

“Only in this form. Look, it’s a long story and she gets grumpy when I tell it, but the short version is be very careful what you wish for.”

“Oh.”

I was grateful when he didn’t press the matter. Belle was more comfortable with her situation these days, especially now she had learned to make money from it. People didn’t much like cats, outside of the necessary mousing business. But a cute kitten that would come to your house, be attentive to you for a few hours, and then leave without demanding anything thing more than a few coins? Belle had found being a sentient kitten was surprisingly well received in city full of busy, anxious, and lonely people.

Not pressing the matter meant we sat in silence, which was unfortunate. I decided to give it another ten minutes and then risk leaving. I wanted to at least hear the proposal, but I wasn’t particularly interested in being forced to buy another drink, or spending more time with the wizard. He made me nervous in more ways than I had fingers to count.

“Well, looks like we’re all here.”

I jumped for the second time that day, almost spilling my drink. Belle dug her claws in, arching her back. Darius, to my chagrin, seemed the least fazed of the three of us.

“Are you going to tell us what’s going on?” he said to man who had appeared, ghost-like, at our table. There was a nervous tremor to the wizard’s voice that made it sound as if his voice was breaking again.

The stranger slipped into a chair and looked around at us with a predatory grin. He was a weasel-like man, slender, but with the air of one who’d rip your throat out if you looked at him wrong.

“I hope, gentlemen, that I’m going make you very rich.”

I very nearly got up there and then. A good rule in this city is that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A lesson I learned from Belle.

“Most people don’t have a problem with rich,” he said, catching my eye. I pushed myself back down in the seat.

“Most people have less brains than fleas,” I replied, running my hand down Belle’s back. It was relaxing, I had to admit, and I needed to keep my calm. “When a man says he’s going to make you rich, he usually means he’s going to rob you blind. Begging your pardon, of course.”

I watched him, waiting for the reaction that would show I was right. But either I was mistaken, or he was a very good actor. I decided to hope for the former but assume the latter.

“The only robbing is going to be done by your good selves,” he said, resting his elbows firmly on the table. “My boss needs something stolen. Get it for him, and you can take anything you like from the property. Rich pickings, I promise.”

“And if I choose to walk away?” I didn’t like the way the man was smiling. Never trust a man who smiles but isn’t happy.

“Of course you are completely free to do that. But I would like to let you in on a little secret. We picked you two carefully, which meant we watched you closely. And that means we know everything there is to know about you. Where you live, where you sleep. Who your friends are. What you care about. So, walk away if you like, my friend. But I promise you it won’t be the last you hear from us.”

I knew he was going to say something like that.

 

Book Review – Waters of Nyra

Cover2

Waters of Nyra, Volume 1 by Kelly Michelle Baker

Never an ordinary dragon, Nyra grew up forbidden to breathe fire or fly. Like her mother before her, she has only known a life of enslavement, held in thrall by mountain dragons, which need Nyra’s ripening wings to secure hunting for the future. But at the cusp of her first flying lesson, new rumors whisper through the herd. Mother pursues friendships in forbidden places, blurring the once succinct enemy line. In a whirlwind of realization, Nyra uncovers a secret in plain sight, one thought unknown to her enslavers, and one putting her at the focal point of rebellion should it come into play. And come it does, but through a terrible accident, killing the slaves’ last chance of escape. To survive, Nyra must conquer the sharp-ended lies cutting her future to ribbons and the war threading in their wake.

Score: 3.5 stars

Breakdown:

Plot – 3

Characters – 3.5

Writing – 3.5

I found the book very slow to get going, and at first I struggled to engage with both Nyra and her brother. I think this is mostly because the characters are much younger than I am, and I think, looking back, that they author did a good job of representing pre-teens. Nyra got to grow on me as the book went on, and I really liked the character of their mother, Thaydra. she’s smart, optimistic and determined, but still bears the pain of the previous failed escapes. There were a few characters like Opalheart who I felt as if I was missing their purpose. Maybe they will come back more in the later books, but they lost relevance in this book.

When the action is good, it’s very gripping. I found myself flying though the section with the fire. However, the book takes a long time to get going, which meant I struggled with the beginning. The legend is an important point, but Nyra’s boredom and sleepiness in the scenes where it is being retold meant I was not engaging with it. (I do love the twist on it that is revealed at the end and that does make me interested in the second book.) There was also too much time spent on things like how young dragons learn to fish, which slowed down the pacing. I have the feeling the sequel will be better paced.

The ending felt a little rushed, in contrast. It definitely leaves the story wide open for a sequel, but the stop point felt a little arbitrary. I didn’t feel like I had a conclusion to this book. There are also some things in the last chapter, particularly around Thaydra, that I wish had been gone into in more depth for emotional reasons.

The language is very pretty, and I didn’t notice much in the way of errors. At points, I felt the the sound of the words over-took the meaning of them, so there were pleasant sounding phrases that didn’t mean much, but that wasn’t a frequent issue. I think this book will be best received by middle grade readers with a strong vocabulary, but will also be enjoyed by young adults who want an easy escape full of fantastical creatures.

You can buy Waters of Nyra at Amazon and leave a review on goodreads. Catch up with the author at her website, facebook, or twitter.

Please note: I’m still finding my feet reviewing, so the format may vary from book to book until I get comfortable. If you have a self-published novel, use the contact form to drop me a pitch. I’ll only taking on very few at a time, but if I like the sound of it, I’ll be in touch. I enjoy fantasy, horror and sci-fi and you get bonus points if your book has a gay romance.

New project

I had an idea for an evil circus plot, (because clowns are terrifying and you’ll never be able to convince me otherwise.) I really want to make something from it, but I wasn’t getting into the beginning. I think it felt a bit too much like a prologue and I don’t tend to get on with them, certainly when writing. I need to have a think about the characters and come back to it.

I hate not having something on the go, so I decided to play around with an idea my partner had suggested: a kind of Guy Richie mockney adventure, but in a fantasy setting. So rather than  dealing with Boris the Russian, it would be Boris the dwarf I don’t think it will quite turn out like that, but this is the synopsis currently playing around in my head. The place-holder title is currently Lock Stock and Two Smoking Goblins.

Byran Windemere is a thief with a reputation for planning and strategy. Lylabelle is a were-kitten and a lesson in being careful what you wish for.The two are recruited for a heist which should pay out enough to keep Byran comfortable for a very long time. What could go wrong? Steal an artifact, help yourself to anything else in the mansion and return with the goods in tact. What no one remembered to tell Byran, was the merchandise was sentient. And he’s not terribly keen on being handed over to a criminal cartel.

Now Byran has to make the choice – hand over the man and save his own skin or face the wrath of the cartel. It doesn’t help that he’s starting to fall for the merchandise.