Character Spotlight: The Assassin

Juni Lien was supposed to be a woman, not a killing machine. But perhaps for the daughter of three assassins, there was never anything else in the cards.

Juni is second-in-command of the Star Wraith, but sitting in one place is not something she’s used to, and the sense of confinement is growing when we meet her again nearly a year on from books 1 and 2. Working in a team, coming to terms with the fact that she’s in possession of feelings, having to confront herself as a person rather than drifting through life as a weapon…it may be too much. Perhaps she made a mistake in not pulling the trigger when she had Archer in her sights.

For the rest of the team, Juni is an unknown entity – a predator carefully placed among her prey, yet choosing instead to fight alongside them. She could be a valuable and fearsome ally…if she can be trusted.

The assassin will slip out of the shadows soon, in Fear of the Dark…


Arianne has done all of the art for my books since book 3, and you can find more of her work here: arianneelliott.artstation.com

Character Spotlight: The Freelancer

One of the two main characters of the NEXUS series, I technically haven’t written a book about him for 10 years! Travis Archer is a freelance bounty hunter with just a little obsession with the idea of being a space cowboy.

Archer is half human and half Necurian, an ancient race with psionic abilities. Although Archer can use these abilities, his lacking knowledge of how to do so safely may have caused some problems, just beginning to manifest when we meet him again, a year after the events of books 1 and 2.

He is the de facto captain of the Star Wraith, having uncovered the ship’s ugly truth almost a year earlier. Plagued by nightmares about the things he has been a part of since then, he knows that it isn’t a position he deserves.

The freelancer will drift into town soon, in Fear of the Dark…


Arianne has done all of the art for my books since book 3, and you can find more of her work here: arianneelliott.artstation.com

FEAR OF THE DARK

Coming later this summer (release date to (probably) come with the cover reveal), book 6 of the NEXUS series is again a mostly standalone one, but finally sees the return of the Star Wraith and its crew. As such, knowing the events of books 1 and 2 will be beneficial but not necessary.

For now, I can say that the title, in keeping with the Something of the Something convention corner I’ve painted myself into, is…unnecessary dramatic pause despite the all-caps title already having given it away…Fear of the Dark.

That’s it. That’s the update.

Also, because procrastination is at least two thirds of writing, I made another ‘soundtrack’ for the book.

Also, keep an eye out this weekend for artwork of protagonists Archer and Juni! They were done by Arianne Elliott again, who did the covers of books 3-5, as is the upcoming cover. Here are some reminders, because I’ve run out of things to say.

Obligatory Update

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a useless blog-writer must still update their blog at least once every year. As it is approaching the one-year anniversary of Church of the Assassin releasing (already), and I’ve written nothing here since…here is that update.

Ahem. Let’s see… What’s in the news… Well, never mind.

Although this was never supposed to be any kind of review blog, I have babbled about films and even games here and there, and yet I haven’t even returned to talk about the dreaded/fawned-over Snyder Cut. I do have a half-finished review of it written, but I couldn’t be bothered to finish. The gist is that I grudgingly like it a lot more than Whedon’s nonsense, but it’s still terrible.

More importantly, I am currently just over 90,000 words into my next book, which will see the return of Archer and Juni, the two who are supposed to be the overall main protagonists of my series, and yet haven’t been seen for 9 years. I’m glad no one was around to take a picture of the stupid smile on my face while I was writing their first scene together since 2012. It will be the first of a trilogy of sorts, alternating with the trilogy that Church of the Assassin kicked off.

In the meantime, I’m working on hardbacks of all the books, which will be available soon! And because I wanted it, the artist who has done the last three covers is doing some art for both Archer and Juni, so I should have that to share soon too.

I’m also considering writing some more of the Writer’s Guides, as they seem to be the most popular thing on this site. But you can see how infrequently I write anything here, and judge for yourself how likely that is to happen.

So there’s my annual update.

Bye.

Church of the Assassin: Out Now!

When you take a shot at an apex predator, do not miss.

Church of the Assassin is now available in paperback and as an ebook from most retailers.

This is a standalone novel, and the fifth book in the NEXUS series. While the series itself is space opera/science fantasy, this book is more on the thriller side. Pick it up now, and I think you’ll enjoy Alexiares’ path of vengeance and discovery!

KILL ONE TO SAVE A HUNDRED

Alexiares spends her time killing, tinkering with a car she never drives, and wondering if she’s a sociopath. This simple life is complicated by a deadly purge of her sect and she finds herself on the run, trying to make sense of the slaughter. She’s not alone: the broken-minded assassin has inherited a baby girl. But how can hands that know only how to squeeze necks and strip engines ever nurture a child? When painful revelations, betrayals, and secrets show Alexiares that her life can only cause Baby pain and suffering, she’ll have to make a difficult choice.

Across the galaxy, one seemingly natural death puts rookie Intelligence officer Ryan Blake on a collision course with Alexiares. His journey into desperation and madness will reveal a world he’ll wish had stayed hidden. One full of mysteries and death. As his mentor says, there are cases to make your career and there are cases to make you look over your shoulder for the rest of your life, right up until it ends abruptly and violently.

KILL A HUNDRED TO SAVE ONE

Relentless hunters want both her and Baby, and they will tear worlds apart to get them. They are bigger, stronger, and more resourceful. But Baby is more than a newfound vulnerability to Alexiares: she is a reason to live. A reason to kill.

When you take a shot at an apex predator, do not miss.

Retailers include:

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Apple Books

Additional outlets can be found here.

And, of course, add it to Goodreads to let me and others know what you thought of it, and see what other readers are saying.

The Countdown Begins

Church of the Assassin is now available for pre-order on Amazon, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and all other book retailers with any taste.

This is the 5th book in the NEXUS series, but is an entirely standalone sci-fi thriller. In just 10 days, Alexiares could be at your door…

KILL ONE TO SAVE A HUNDRED

Alexiares spends her time killing, tinkering with a car she never drives, and wondering if she’s a sociopath. This simple life is complicated by a deadly purge of her sect and she finds herself on the run, trying to make sense of the slaughter. She’s not alone: the broken-minded assassin has inherited a baby girl. But how can hands that know only how to squeeze necks and strip engines ever nurture a child? When painful revelations, betrayals, and secrets show Alexiares that her life can only cause Baby pain and suffering, she’ll have to make a difficult choice.

Across the galaxy, one seemingly natural death puts rookie Intelligence officer Ryan Blake on a collision course with Alexiares. His journey into desperation and madness will reveal a world he’ll wish had stayed hidden. One full of mysteries and death. As his mentor says, there are cases to make your career and there are cases to make you look over your shoulder for the rest of your life, right up until it ends abruptly and violently.

KILL A HUNDRED TO SAVE ONE

Relentless hunters want both her and Baby, and they will tear worlds apart to get them. They are bigger, stronger, and more resourceful. But Baby is more than a newfound vulnerability to Alexiares: she is a reason to live. A reason to kill.

When you take a shot at an apex predator, do not miss.

Cover Reveal: Church of the Assassin

Coming very soon, Church of the Assassin is a standalone sci-fi thriller and the 5th book in the NEXUS series. Blurb and pre-order information will be coming later in the week.

This is the third cover to be art-iculated by Arianne Elliott, and hopefully won’t be the last.

Authors Give Back

POSTER ALL

I should probably have written about it before, since it’s already been going for a month, but Smashwords is running a sale during the pandemic to help people stay sane. There are huge discounts on a large number of books, which can be downloaded for any e-reader, including Kindle. This sale, unless it is extended again, will be running until May 31.

It would be nice for authors, in the same position of decline in work and income as everyone else, to see a rise in downloads through this and other legitimate sites, rather than on torrent sites. And don’t forget to take a couple of minutes to post a review when you’ve read them; it only takes a small effort to support all of the authors here providing their hard work for drastically reduced cost, or even free!

Click here to start browsing this vast library of discounted books.

My own books are all anywhere from 30-100% off:

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2020 and the Heat Death of the Universe

We are minute specks in the unfathomable immensity of the cosmos, living a fraction of a second in universal time. We exist on a tiny dot travelling at 67,000 mph through a solar system that is moving at 490,000 mph through a galaxy that is moving at 1.3 million mph through the universe, pulled by an unknown entity we call the Great Attractor, powerful enough to drag a hundred thousand galaxies towards it. But the important thing is that we’re about to complete one more spin round the sun.

Once again, the end of the year has arrived and we’re supposed to share messages of hope. Comic geniuses this time are able to swap their calls of ‘see you next year’ with calls of ‘see you next decade’, and then guffaw with delight at their hilarity, cleverness and, above all, originality. It’s time to pretend that the world will magically improve overnight because our calendars are new. It’s 2020. It’s the future. We’re supposed to have world peace, a utopian society, hoverboards. Instead we have war and terrorism, hate crimes, and glorified plastic skateboards with batteries that catch fire.

What are we ushering in the new year with? With fireworks while Australia burns, an area bigger than entire countries devoured by flame, leaving people dead, millions of animals dead, homes destroyed. While the men and women we sent to fight, to kill, to die in a war we’ve quietly agreed to forget was started because of the lies of warmongers try to cope with that gunfire in the sky, because of course our right to see pretty lights is more important than the PTSD we gave them. With news that, despite these unprecedented wildfires in Australia and California, environmental policies won’t be changed, because what does science know. With grown adults attacking teenagers for caring about their future. With an increase in bigotry, hate-fuelled attacks and murders, school shootings, and the devastating lies that cause and encourage it all. With the election of world leaders who will put children in cages, strip citizens of rights and basic medical care, assassinate foreign citizens in their own countries. With savage brutality against civilians and journalists by Hong Kong police while Western media stays as quiet as possible. With the assurance to our children that we don’t give a shit about them or their future. With the assurance to women, minorities, and those underrepresented in every walk of life that we still don’t give a shit about them.

As always, people will do whatever they want, but perhaps instead of hiding behind warm and fuzzy feelings that everything will be okay because it’s a new year, instead of burying our heads in the sand, we’ll pull them out and look. And perhaps looking will lead to seeing. And perhaps seeing will lead to doing.

Or perhaps all our tiny dot’s latest spin round the sun will change is the number on the calendar.

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The Rise of Skywalker

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Continuing my fine tradition of filling my author blog with ramblings about films, here’s some ramblings about the ninth and final (until Disney wants to cash in again) film in the Skywalker saga.

I won’t be writing too much about it for now, as I haven’t had time for it all to sink in (and I left the cinema actually liking The Last Jedi, so I’ve learned to think for longer before giving much of an opinion). So there won’t be spoilers.

JJ Abrams was left with an absolute mess to try to tidy up and bring into order in just one film, whilst simultaneously delivering a finale to a more than forty-year-old saga. He did okay. He could have done better in some areas, but he could have done a lot worse. It seems like he went into it with the resolution to just ignore TLJ where he could and flippantly dismiss it where he couldn’t ignore it. This resulted in a film that didn’t entirely feel like it was a follow on, but did feel like a return to what the trilogy was originally supposed to be.

The downside to this is that it seems painfully obvious that Emperor Palpatine was never meant to return, and only did so because a certain director wanted so desperately to ‘subvert expectations’ that he off’d the main villain without thought for the next writers and director. Sidious does little and never feels like a threat. If anything, it weakens his character overall to have him back just for this.

Because of the time jump between the two films, Rey has actually had time to train and learn from the Jedi texts, so when she uses the Force, it actually seems like she has done something to earn it, and it makes sense. This is welcome departure from how, in The Force Awakens, she goes from not knowing for sure that the Jedi are real to suddenly doing a Jedi Mind Trick on James Bond out of nowhere. Revelations regarding her are a little weak and predictable, but I would almost say that doesn’t matter if it weren’t for the fact that it is at the core of the story. She is less two-dimensional this time, and actually feels more like she is driving the story rather than just sitting in for the ride while stuff happens.

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There were more surprises in terms of what wasn’t in the film that what was. Expected scenes, characters, and lines not being there was a minor disappointment, but by the end of the film, any unanswered questions and issues I had were mild and pretty unimportant. Only one thing happened that I was certain I did not want to happen, and that will remain a black mark on the film/trilogy. But it wasn’t enough to make me unhappy with the film overall. And, for me, the final line in the film is perfect (even if the character it’s delivered to makes no sense).

So, while I need to think about it more to really form an opinion, I think overall the trilogy and the saga ended pretty well. You could say it rises to the occasion…if you want people to roll their eyes at you. Not as well as Star Wars deserves, but well enough.

(EDIT: My brain was obviously thinking about it while I slept, because I woke up with a lot more questions starting with ‘why the hell’. A lot more issues came to mind, and things that happened just for story convenience, typical Abrams style. But nothing (yet) has changed my mind overall.)

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Also my book is out, so…there’s my authorly duty.