Reviews and Amazon Rants

It means a lot to get good reviews. It means quite a lot to get a good rating, though slightly less than a well thought out review. It also means a lot when Amazon decides ‘f*** you, we don’t like you having nice things, so we’ll delete your best reviews’. Though it means a lot in a different way.

They’ve been doing this for a while now on Amazon itself, and since taking over Goodreads, they’ve started doing it there. I’m certainly not the only one noticing the reviews disappearing – and only ever 5-star reviews, it seems. I can’t speak for the deleted reviews of others, but the ones that have disappeared from mine have been from review bloggers, writing detailed, unbiased reviews. Not family members raving about how the books are the best things ever.

Amazon has claimed before that they won’t allow authors to post reviews on books in the same genre as they themselves write. Aside from the fact that this is pathetically stupid and is pretty much censorship, it doesn’t seem to be enforced. My best reviews are written by a sci-fi author, and they’re still there.

Other authors have contacted Amazon to demand to know why this is happening, and Amazon claim ignorance. They say that it’s most likely because of the reviewers removing the reviews, accidentally reviewing the book – I can’t quite get my head around that one – or leaving the site (Goodreads). That doesn’t quite allow for the fact that I asked one reviewer if she knew why her review had disappeared from my book on Amazon, she emailed Amazon to ask why, they said they would put it back, and then never bothered. So what the hell are they playing at?

But that’s enough ranting about the somewhat disgraceful Amazon.

I received one such review just the other day, from The Review Hart. I requested the review months ago – just after I published Acts of Violence, in fact. She scheduled me for August, and I forgot about it. With terms like ‘haunting’, ‘spectacular’, ‘gripping’, and ‘fantastic’ dotted throughout, the review turned out to be very much worth the wait. And it’s a 4-star review which means A) people are more likely to pay attention to it than a 5-star, and B) it’s less likely to be deleted by Amazon.

In fact, reading the review kind of made me want to read the book!

In other news, we have a more definite date for the next anthology, Wyrd Worlds II: September 20-21. Mine will be the first story in the book, and is a sequel to Kira.

Origins Of Friday The 13th

What are the origins of the Friday the 13th superstition?

No one knows.

More? I suppose it is a blog post. Okay, I’ll think of something…

The Knights Templar

“Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam” (Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy Name be the Glory)

Knights Templar Seal

Around 1118 or 1119, nine knights offered their services to the King of Jerusalem. They patrolled the pilgrim route to help and protect travellers. At the height of their power, the Knights Templar (or Knights of the Temple) consisted of around 20,000 members, spread around every large town in the Holy Land.

Though the members took vows of poverty, the organisation itself received donations of various kinds. Because of their size and military strength, the Templars were used almost like a bank by anyone from pilgrims to Kings. And that was a problem.

In 1291, the last Crusader stronghold in the Holy Land, Acre, fell to the muslims, and the Templars were no longer needed. Just over a decade later, fearing their power and desiring their wealth, King Philip IV of France used probably-false rumours of heresy and blasphemy to persuade the pope (Clement V) to order the arrest of all Templars.

In the dawn of October Friday 13, 1307, well organised, mass raids were carried out. The Templars were charged with everything from heresy and blasphemy to homosexual practices. A great many were tortured into false confessions. Despite this, none of the charges were ever proven, and outside of France, the Templars were even found innocent. Over a hundred died under torture or were executed.

Jacques de Molay, last Grand Master of the Temple Knights, was burned at the stake in 1314.

The mass arrest, murder, torture, execution, etc, of the Knights Templar is perhaps the most popular origin of the Friday the 13th superstition. The problem is that there is little to no documentation of this superstition before the 19th century, so it doesn’t seem that likely that it stems from the Templars.

13 and Friday

The number 13 itself is considered unlucky. First, there is Norse mythology. 12 gods gathered in Valhalla for a great feast/party thing. But a 13th, uninvited, unwelcome guest arrived: Loki, the trickster god. Loki tricked Hoder – the god of darkness – into shooting his brother, the god of joy and gladness, Baldr (or Balder, or Baldur) – with a dart tipped with the only substance in existence that could hurt him: mistletoe. Baldr’s death plunged the world into darkness.


Next, we have the Last Supper. The 13th guest was Judas, who apparently betrayed Jesus. It was also a Friday, supposedly, that Jesus was crucified.

Many hotels don’t have floors labelled the 13th floor, due to the superstition being so widespread.

It was, it seems, a Friday that Eve tempted Adam with the apple.

Friday is considered an unlucky day all over the world.

So, in conclusion, perhaps it is simply the fact that the unlucky day, Friday, combined with the unlucky number 13 results in a particularly unlucky Friday the 13th. Does that answer the question? I don’t know why you asked me.

Dawn of the Jedi

Yes, I know the blog posts – when they actually come – are mostly about games and graphic novels at the moment, but it’s not going to become a habit. Probably.

Batman Hush

I’ve said before that I don’t really read graphic novels, and while this is still mostly true, there have been a few times when I gave in to temptation. The first time was when I’d just finished playing Batman Arkham Origins and, being underwhelmed, perhaps disappointed with it, wanted more Batman. The only thing I could think of was a graphic novel, so I got Batman: Hush and it was very good. I subsequently read two and a half other ones and they put me off graphic novels again. For me to enjoy a graphic novel, it has to have very good art as well as story. Sadly, too many of them have what I would call pretty crap art, so that puts me off. I can’t really see myself becoming an avid reader of graphic novels, even with good art and story, because of the way they’re written. For a novel writer, it can be confusing and at times frustrating to read, since dialogue often has to tell the reader what is happening in lieu of narrative (among other ‘issues’ (pun semi-intended)), and it becomes very forced and unrealistic. But that can be – not to sound too snobby and arrogant, of course – forgiven, if it’s good overall. But now I’m rambling.

This time, with all the hype about Star Wars Episode VII coming up, a handful of games and the Clone Wars final season on Netflix, which…they…let’s just…F*#%ING NETFLIX! The final season of Clone Wars (among many, many other films and TV shows) is exclusive to US Netflix. I would have less of a problem with that if I weren’t paying the same amount for less content. In fact, because I have a southern Ireland Netflix account and my bank is UK, I’m actually paying more for less content. But making it exclusive to Americans… I’d like to see them make it exclusive to white people and see if they get away with that. In this day and age…oh, never mind. What was I saying?

Oh, yes. All the Star Wars hype made me re-watch Episode III – the writing of which was a lot worse than I remembered – and go back and play Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2. Then I watched the final season of Clone Wars (yes, Netflix, I used a browser extension to get around your xenophobia, you p#*cks!). Then I wanted…more! More Jedi, more Force, more Star Wars. So again, I began to wonder if there were any good Star Wars graphic novels. I found a list of them, and looked for some screenshots to check the art. Everything seemed decent, so I got a three-part graphic novel, Dawn of the Jedi.

Dawn of the Jedi is set, as far as I know at least, as far back in the Star Wars timeline as possible. Technically, I suppose they could go even further back, but no one has. It tells the story of the early Je’daii, a group of people of several different races sensitive to the Force, and their struggle against the evil, dark-side-wielding Rakatan.


Because I’m only coming to the end of my review of the first part of the graphic novel, and it’s longer than I intended, I’ve decided to post all this in four parts:

Force Storm

Prisoner of Bogan

Force War


Conundrum Cover

Conundrum is a Steampulp Fantasy graphic novel filled with mystery and suspense that will make you question: Who is God? Coming from the Derry, Northern Ireland, -based Uproar Comics, creators of the award-winning Zombies Hi. I have the benefit of being able to sit and listen to said creators talk about the graphic novel and get (over)excited about where it’s going and what’s going to happen, etc., so I can say for sure this is going to be particularly good (and I don’t generally read comics or graphic novels!).


Wonders and Curiosities are the height of entertainment and fashion before the turn of the 20th century where a great man, Professor Wilde, debuts Wildes’ Wondrous World’s Fair to the public with great acclaim. With new technological, cultural, and natural discoveries available to everyone, the world’s advancement exceeded expectations in all forms. With the greatest minds working on new and greater concepts, the world has become a fascinating place. With high-powered steam and the young electricity, no one ever thought we would need anything else. Over the next few decades there were no wars and all nations were working together for the prosperity of all. Then, after only weeks, an experimental atomic power station exploded with a thundering fire. No one could have survived it- and yet one man walked from the blazing fires unharmed. Some of the people believed him to be a god on Earth, an Übermensch, and he becomes widely revered when he exhibits strange supernatural abilities. No one could have anticipated this- except an elusive killer dubbed Zener, a mysterious stranger hell-bent on murdering anyone who stands in his way. But why?

A preview of issue 1 is live on the website, and there’s already a trailer:

Conundrum is coming this very Autumn! So…buy it. And pre-order it. But not in that order.

To keep up to date with Uproarious goings on, follow them on Facebook, Twitter and, of course, their website.

Conundrum Banner

Agents of SHIELD

…and other miscellaneous stuff not mentioned in the title.*

I almost spelled miscellaneous without my browser’s help! Which would be mildly impressive if I weren’t supposed to be a writer.

I haven’t written anything other than the book tour posts for quite a while, and I still can’t think of anything much to say, so I thought I’d ramble about some stuff. Starting, and quite possibly comprising entirely of, the Agents of SHIELD finale.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Agents of SHIELD is a spin-off from Marvel’s Avengers. SHIELD is, of course, the government agency put together to protect people from stuff. They are the ones who put together the Avengers initiative. The TV series is headed by Agent Coulson, who has a small role in some of the Avengers’ solo films (Iron Man 1 & 2, Thor…and off the top of my head I think that’s all) and then another small, but pivotal, role in the Avengers film itself (or Avengers Assemble in the UK, since apparently we can’t tell the difference between the Hulk and Mrs Peel).

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of SHIELD started off a little too cheesy for my liking, but I decided to give it more of a chance, because I like Agent Coulson a lot. He is very stand-out in the films for someone who has so little screen time. He also always manages to say something funny, even in the most serious of situations, without taking away from that seriousness. I’m glad I did, because the show gets better and better. And better. The acting, CGI, story and general writing all improves quite drastically over the course of a single season. In fact, it has come so far in a short time that it feels to me like I watched the end of the second, or even third, season rather than only the first.

As soon as it got its talons (’cause the SHIELD symbol is a bird! Get it?) into a solid overarching storyline, it really got going, and took some turns that I thought were actually quite brave for any TV show, let alone one that has such a mixed reception.

Spoilers ACTIVATE, as…no SHIELD agent would ever say.

There are two main plot points that stand out to me. First is the reason Coulson is alive and not dead. He died in the Avengers, and I think it was really only due to fan outrage that Joss Whedon decided to bring him back. Coulson believes that he only died for a short while, but the EMTs arrived in time to revive him. Nick Fury then used his supposed death to unite the Avengers. This is not so subtly disproved by Shepherd Book’s (or whatever his name is in this) line of ‘He really doesn’t know, does he?’ It’s an absolutely terrible line, badly delivered, and contributed to me wondering if this was going to be a worthwhile show. However, now we were all wondering what really happened to Coulson.

Agent Coulson

Over the course of the season, Coulson begins to wonder as well. A nice touch is that every time anyone mentions Tahiti – where he supposedly spent his R&R time – he is compelled to respond with ‘It’s a magical place’. To begin with, this seems like an amusing quirk of Coulson’s, until you realise that it really is a compulsion. Then he realises too. And it’s a surprisingly impactful moment when he does, because he’s always such a believer in SHIELD that when he starts to doubt what he’s been told by them, you really feel sorry for him.

In short, he discovers that SHIELD scientists brought him back to life with a controversial process, and that he was begging them to let him die the entire time. Which is quite sad. As though that weren’t bad enough, he then discovers that the drug they used was being harvested from some kind of alien who appeared to have been cut in half at some point. It looked a bit like a Frost Giant (from Thor), but according to internet consensus, it isn’t. And then as though THAT weren’t bad enough, he discovers that he was overseeing the research for the project, which was being put together in case an Avenger fell, and told Nick ‘Motherf*$#ing’ Fury in no uncertain terms that the project should not continue, as too many psychological issues arose from the process.

The second plot point was the brave one, I thought. I don’t really remember any other show that has done it. My memory isn’t the best, though, and I’m sure it has been done at some point. Episode 17 reveals that one of Coulson’s team – Ward – is actually a Hydra agent. And it’s not one of those ‘Oh, really he’s a SHIELD agent pretending to be a Hyrda agent pretending to be a SHIELD agent’ things. Nor does he have a change of heart at the end and save their lives. He’s simply a traitor. I thought, after nearly a full season of him protecting the team and whatnot, this was quite a brave direction to take. That said, I have to say I think Ward was the weakest character and actor. He was a little too stereotypical, generic tough guy. The actress who plays Skye seems to have realised that her looks alone won’t pull her through, and so has improved her acting a lot, but Ward hasn’t changed.

Nick Fury

Lastly, I wanted to rave about the finale, which inspired me to write this meandering post. It was very good. It was, by far, the best episode of the season. It was let down only by Bill Paxton’s overacting. He was fine up till this episode, but then his character went a tad crazy. But what I liked most about the episode was Samuel L Jackson’s appearance (as Nick Fury, obviously). I never read about the TV shows I’m watching, so I never know what’s going to happen or who’s going to be in it, etc. If I wasn’t so oblivious, I would have guessed that he’d be in it, but…I am and I didn’t.

‘FitzSimmons’ – the team’s scientific duo – are trapped in a storage unit at the bottom of the ocean, after having been ejected from their plane by Ward. They work out a way to escape, but the problem is that they’ll still be in the middle of the ocean with the bends and nobody looking for them. Fitz rigged up a weak transponder thingy, but it’s on a SHIELD frequency, which no one will be listening for. The other problem is that they only have enough air for one of them to survive. Fitz, being in love with Simmons, makes her take it. Before she can argue too much, he blasts the window out and the ocean surges in.

It’s a pretty good scene in itself, with the air flooding out of the window, followed by Simmons. Then we see that she’s dragging the unconscious Fitz with her. They reach the surface and she starts shouting for help. There’s no telling if she’s just vainly shouting at nothing, or if she can actually see something. The camera follows her underwater several times as she struggles to stay afloat, and then suddenly, it breaches the surface and Nick Fury is staring down at her! Hanging out of a helicopter and reaching for her hand. It’s very good, even if it is a ludicrous idea that a helicopter would hover that low over someone in the sea… It turns out someone was listening on that frequency. If I hadn’t had a cat on my knee, I might have leapt to my feet in excitement and broken into the American national anthem, probably while a bald eagle swooped in to land on my shoulder. But the cat was sleeping.

Fury has a bit more than a cameo this time, and even shoots someone. His justification of what they did to Coulson is, on the one hand, a little weak, but on the other, kind of makes you proud of Coulson. Basically, Coulson says that program was only ever meant for a fallen Avenger, to which Fury replies ‘Exactly!’ He might as well have given Coulson a big hug, for how much that simple statement would have meant to him.

Anyway, the meandering ramblings have run out. It was a very good finale, and I enjoyed it even more than the Arrow finale, which I also watched last night. I’m looking forward to the next season of both (and I’m relieved that Agents of SHIELD has actually been renewed for a second season, as it was a bit touch and go).

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Promo

It turns out I have not written about other miscellaneous stuff after all. May The Force Be With You, or something.

Chasing Azrael – BBB

Chasing Azrael


Hazel Butler

Gritty New Paranormal Mystery Series Raises Vital Awareness of Bipolar Disorder

The ‘Deathly Insanity’ series uses gripping urban mystery and heaps of the paranormal to keep its readers on the edge of their seats. However, the series is also serving a vital dual-purpose by openly examining societal attitudes towards Bipolar Disorder and Depression. The first volume, ‘Chasing Azrael’, sees author Hazel Butler serve up the perfect start to what’s poised to be a best-selling series.

When Andee Tilbrook’s husband died, her preoccupation with death turned to obsession. Thanks to her unique ability to commune with the dead, her husband remains all too close, yet never close enough. Mired in grief, she clings to James’s spirit, slowly losing touch with the world, her friends, and any desire to continue living.

But when her friend Josh becomes the target of Natalya, a jealous, capricious and violent Russian beauty, Andee somehow finds the strength to free herself from her misery long enough to help him. They soon discover that Natalya is wanted by the police for her involvement in a series of grisly murders, and Andee is dragged into the inquiry by the same man who investigated her own husband’s death.

Torn between new feelings for Josh and fear that he might be involved in the murders that seem to threaten anyone who comes close, Andee must face the realities of her life, her past, and her very nature—and do it all in time to save her own life.

About the Author


Hazel is a twenty eight year old author, artist and archaeologist from Cheshire, England. She is currently in the final year of her PhD, which focuses on Gender Dynamics in Late Iron Age and Early Medieval Britain. She studied archaeology at The University of Manchester, then Bangor University, and spent two years doing corporate archaeology and research excavations, both in Britain and Austria. She has had papers published in international journals and online.

Since 2010, she has been working on Chasing Azrael, a Gothic Literary novel and the first in the Deathly Insanity Series, a set of Paranormal Mystery/Urban Fantasy novels with overlapping character and plot-lines. Although these novels have a strong supernatural element they also explore themes of mental health, in particular Bipolar Disorder, which Hazel herself has suffered from since her early teens.

Whilst many authors write for fame and profit, Hazel Butler is publishing books to garner attention of a very different sort – attention for Bipolar Disorder. Because many either misunderstand this condition or shun it completely, Butler uses a unique fusion of urban mystery, the paranormal, and a hint of romance, to study exactly how society perceives mental illness and what it is like to live with such conditions, both for patients and their loved ones.

The ‘Deathly Insanity’ series will delight fans of Kelley Armstrong, Charlaine Harris and Laurell K. Hamilton – or just about anyone else enjoying adult-geared fiction with a twist of the unexpected. A Paranormal Mystery series set to delve into the darkest aspect of human (and inhuman) nature, the series’ first volume is ‘Chasing Azrael’.


I knew nothing but the rhythmic slap of my feet on wet tarmac. It was the only thing I could focus on, and my focus was slipping.

I’m still running, I thought fuzzily, I have to keep running.

The back of my skull throbbed. Thick, cloying blood oozed into my hair, mingling with the rain, cherry streams running down goose-pimpled flesh. One bare, frozen foot landed badly. I tripped, knee slamming into the kerb. A car hurtled by, horn howling at my presence in its path, the glaring lights of its eyes forcing my own shut. When I opened them again, I was transfixed by the sight of my arms, waxen and tinged red in the fading glare of tail lights. I watched intently as bloodied rain dripped down them and into the gutter.

“James!” I screamed, but the night swallowed his name.

The injured leg dragged behind as I ran on, a dead weight, more blood now seeping between my numb toes. Rain pounded in my ears, the taste of blood biting at the back of my throat. Again I stumbled as more lights flashed in my eyes, stationary this time. Clustered before me stood a crowd of cars branded with words that should have offered comfort, but instead only confirmed my worst fears: Police, Paramedic. Squinting against the onslaught of headlights, I lurched past them. Voices added their cries to the night, but they were not my own, and they were not his, so I ignored them, the world twisting around me as my head grew ever lighter and the lights grew ever brighter.


Chasing Azrael, published by Aädedian Ink, is available now.

For more information, visit

Felinity – BBB


An Anthology Collected By

Sammy HK Smith

Felinity, noun, plural fel-in-ities. 1. The quality of being cat-like. 2. A divine being, a cat.

Felinity Cover

Grimbold Books is proud to present our first Kristell Inkling, a collection of feline inspired flash fiction stories written by authors from all around the world.

This collection celebrates what we regard as the most important factor when writing: write foremost for pleasure. The stories showcased in this book are full of laughter, grit, odd contraptions and a lot of fur, with a loud purring nod to our beloved genres of science fiction and fantasy.

From A.F.E Smith’s unique twist on Schrödinger’s cat, to Joel Cornah’s world-jumping old queen, from Clare Neilson’s steampunk creation to Tina Closser’s dragon fighting dreaming kitty, these alternate feline worlds are bound to delight sci fi/fantasy readers and cat lovers alike.



Interview With A Contributor

WILL MACMILLAN-JONES is a fifty-something lover of blues, rock and jazz. He presently lives in Wales, a beautiful verdant land of myth with a rich cultural heritage. He does his best to support this heritage by drinking local beers and shouting loud encouragement at the TV whenever Wales is playing international rugby.

He has just fulfilled a lifetime ambition by filling an entire wall of his study with bookcases, and then (over)filling the bookcases. When not drinking beer and watching rugby, he remembers to write the occasional horror book or to add to his comic fantasy series, The Banned Underground. Links to all his work can be found on his website:

Hi Ross. I don’t think that I’ve been on your blog before. Nice curtains…are they fireproof? Just asking.

Where do you live and write from?

Although I was born in God’s Own Land of Lancashire, I presently live and write in Wales. It’s a lovely, verdant, land full of myth, mystery, excellent beer and sheep. And hills. I walk on the hills a lot with my camera: I haven’t met a dragon yet, but there’s always hope, you know? Although knowing my luck the dragon would sound more like that Cucumberpatch fellow than Joanna Lumley.

Do you have a specific writing routine?

I have a very specific routine, yes. I turn on the computer, open the current document – or whichever opus I have decided to try and ignore that day, look at the blank screen or in extremis the last few lines written the day before, raise my hands above the keyboard with the fingers poised…and see what’s on Facebook this morning. Like everyone else I’m too easily distracted.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I must be in touch with my feminine side, as the answer to both questions, is… both. Some works I have carefully plotted in excruciating detail. Others I have just set my eyes on the longer for final page and just gone for it… It’s the same with the writing speed. My second book, The Mystic Accountants, was completed to first draft in a little over a month. There’s a work called The Picture which I hope to complete in a few weeks which has been a year in the writing. For me it’s very much a mood thing: I write what I’m in the mood to write. That sounds horribly indisciplined, but because I write in different genres I’m always in the mood to write something.

What genres do you write, and which is your favourite?

I write fantasy; YA fantasy; comic fantasy; dark fantasy/horror and childrens’s books. This is why mood is so important to my writing: if I’m in a dark place it isn’t easy to write pages of laugh-a-minute gags ( a bored American once calculated that one of my books hit 3.2 jokes per kindle page – now that’s funny, the idea of someone meticulously adding up all the jokes. I never do that myself) and conversely, if I’m rolling around laughing I can’t write something scary.

Tell us about your contribution to Felinity.

The Hunt. The Hunt was easy. I woke up at three am one morning with the whole story there. All I had to do was to write it down, originally at about 1800 words. I had it easy, didn’t I? Can you imagine trying to get all of Zanadu down, in that complicated rhythmic structure in one go? No wonder the poor bloke forgot the ending, is it? Anyway, that was The Hunt. A dream. I just caught it as it passed by.

Felinity is inspired, obviously, by cats. Was it easy for you to find feline inspiration?

Is this where I get the chance to be catty about my ex? No? Oh well, please yourselves then. Any resemblance between the characters and real people is purely co incidental. And imaginary.

I have trouble keeping short stories short, but this is flash fiction – do you find it difficult to write something that’s so short?


7a. A bit more than that?

All right. I actually write quite a bit of Flash. I thoroughly recommend it as a good discipline for writers, many of whom are inclined to run off at the mouth for ever, without thinking of the poor reader left to follow on as best they may. It’s also a great way of breaking a block. If you are stuck on a story, open a new file and stare at the blank screen until something comes out. Very likely it will be rubbish, and you’ll throw it away: but I have several book projects that have started as a piece of flash fiction and then grown. I did win a respected national Flash Fiction Competition in 2013, so it’s always worth trying your hand in the field.

What other projects do you have in the pipeline?

I’m under contract to produce two comic fantasy books in my Banned Underground collection a year until we hit twelve books, so there’s always one or two of those on the go. Plus I’m now aiming to finish one horror book and one children’s book a year as well, so that’s why I’m always writing, and wearing out keyboards.

Give us your important links!

I thought you’d never ask!

Websites: Where you can see the full range of stuff I write, and see a bit more about me. Where my major comic fantasy series hangs out. Gags, excerpts, reviews, trailers, all the usual stuff we authors put on these sites to pretend we are interesting. Plus loads of book links. The blog, where I talk to other writers and occasionally muse about stuff.

Try these then:

The Satnav of Doom The Banned Underground #5: a serious High Fantasy involving a dwarf Rock N Roll band, some accountants who are also Dark Wizards, dragons, and some mystical beings who have turned their Fairy Hill into an International Merchant Bank. And an anarchic SatNav.

Snort and Wobbles:

Dragons are not real. Everyone tells you that. So what do you do when you are eight years old, and meet a dragon living at the bottom of your garden? You have the adventure of your life!

When Wobbles and her family move into their new home, she is delighted to find that a green dragon is living in secret at the bottom of the garden. But Snort the dragon is not the only one: underground a gang of Goblins have also made their home, and when they capture Wobbles’ big brother Jeremy, it is up to her and Snort to save him: before the Goblins roast him on their barbecue.

Written for those children who are just becoming confident in reading for themselves, and for those parents who (like the author) are addicted to reading bedtime stories to their children and grandchildren, Snort and Wobbles is a thrilling, captivating adventure for 6 – 10 year olds.

Thanks, Will!

In The Shadows – BBB

In The Shadows:

An Outsiders Mystery


Susan Finlay

In The Shadows Cover

There is a stranger amongst the residents of the cave-riddled village of Reynier, France. Suspicious, they believe there’s only one reason Maurelle Dupre would be lurking in their small village—she’s a gypsy, a thief. But a former Chicago detective turned mystery author, Dave Martin, who happens to be visiting his French grandmother, isn’t so sure about the beautiful stranger when happenstance causes them to meet. He wonders why she seems so frightened and distrustful. He knows he shouldn’t get involved. The last time he trusted a woman in distress, the consequences resulted in the loss of his detective’s shield and his wife. But, as always, the detective in him can’t seem to leave well enough alone.

However, what Dave couldn’t know is how persuading Maurelle to reveal herself will ultimately unveil something far worse than mere theft.

In the Shadows is a story of trust, belonging, and murder.


MAURA BARRINGTON PULLED back the curtain and stared out the second story window of her shabby hotel room in Paris’ 18th arrondissment. A young couple strolled by, pushing a pram. They stopped and the woman bent forward to check on the baby. When she straightened, the man with her reached over and tucked a loose lock of her hair behind her ear.

Maura let the curtain fall back in place. She turned to look at the bed where her new clothes lay strewn about, waiting to be packed away in her duffel bag. Two days ago, her first day in Paris, she’d spent all her time observing people and figuring out what she needed to wear to blend in. Yesterday, she’d gone shopping.She picked up one outfit, a blue-and-green flowered blouse and coordinating skirt, and took it into the bathroom. After she got dressed, she copied the woman’s hair style—a classic French twist. Lastly, she stuck her feet into the stiff high heels, put away the rest of the clothes, and zipped up the bag. On impulse, she reopened her duffel bag, lifted the false bottom, and verified everything was still there. She hid the bag under the bed and left the room, locking the door carefully. Following the worn red carpet down the creaking staircase, she stopped at the next to last landing, where the musty darkness mixed with a smell she couldn’t quite identify. The hotel felt abandoned. Continuing, she reached the ground floor and was about to step into the dingy hallway when a door directly across from the stairs swung open, startling her. In the doorway a big-bellied man with greasy hair stared at her. His deep-set eyes swept over her, and he grinned widely. Maura hurried past him along the corridor, her footsteps echoing on the cracked tiles, but not loudly enough to cover up the sound of his laughter. A brown mouse darted in front of her and ran under the sofa in the lobby.

Outside, she rushed down the worn steps, but had to stop at the street curb to wait for a string of cars to go by. A ragged-looking dog wandered up to her and sat down beside her as she waited. When the light changed, Maura lifted a foot to step off the curb, but the dog barked loudly, causing her to hesitate. In the next instant, a bus zoomed through the red light and past her, sending a gray plume of exhaust spiraling into the air. Maura swore under her breath. She whirled around toward the dog, but it was already gone.

She crossed the street and walked two blocks, rounded the corner onto bustling Boulevard de Barbès, and continued on to Chateau Rouge train station. It was one of the poorer areas, populated by African and Arab immigrants, yet it was vibrant and alive. As Maura walked through the train station, the frequent train announcements, clatter of metal, and odor of dust and rubber brought to mind London’s underground system, a place she practically knew by heart. She stopped and closed her eyes, savoring the vision of what she would never again see for real, until someone bumped against her. Her eyes popped open. Instinctively, she wrapped protective hands around her handbag, and scanned the area.

Maura proceeded to the platform and found her train already waiting. In the process of rushing aboard the train, something snagged one of her heels causing her to stumble. She almost fell into a man’s lap. “Pardon,” she muttered as she pulled herself together, trying to hide her embarrassment. Once seated near the rear of the train, she glanced cautiously at the people around her. Everyone was busy reading papers or typing text messages on their mobile phones. She removed her shoes and checked the heels to make sure they weren’t damaged. Thankfully the shoes were intact. High heels might be fashionable, but she despised wearing them.

When the train eased to a stop at the Montparnasse station, she exited and climbed the stairs, emerging into the pleasant air of early evening. Ten minutes later, she stood in front of Le Bistro du Nord, an attractive restaurant occupying the ground floor of a tall brick building. On the outside patio, customers sat at silver tables shaded by the building’s dark-green awning, enjoying their dinners and drinks. Her French, though not good enough to pass as a native-speaker, was good enough for a bar job. But she was far from confident in her ability to wait tables well enough for Paris. She took a deep breath, steeled herself, slid past the tables, and entered the bistro. At the hostess station, she greeted the attendant.

“Table for one, or are you meeting someone?”

“Oh, I’m not a customer. I saw the advertisement for a waitress position. I’d like to apply if it’s still available.” The hostess, a slender blonde woman with tanned skin and shimmering lip gloss, looked her over critically. “Of course.” She bent down, and pulled out an application from a drawer at the station. “Please have a seat in the bar area and fill this out. Be sure to return it to me when you’ve finished.”

“Merci.” With the form in hand, Maura turned, and stepped right into the path of a waiter. His quick reflexes avoided a crash, but Maura felt heat rise up her neck, instantly embarrassed. Fortunately, other than the grumbling waiter, no one else seemed to notice.

She stood for a few moments and surveyed the dining room. Judging from the customers, it was classy enough to lure in couples wanting a romantic dinner and business men and women wanting a neutral place to meet with clients, and yet relaxed enough to bring in families with young children. A waitress breezed past her, expertly balancing a tray of several attractive plates of food. The aromas made Maura’s stomach growl, and reminded her of her meager lunch that had consisted of a stale roll, a chunk of cheese, and tea.

Overall, the bistro was rather dark, lit only by its lovely ornate stained glass lamps hanging over each table and by the light bouncing off its mirrored walls. Shouts and raucous laughter drew her attention. Against the farthest wall, illuminated by dozens of candles, was a gorgeous sculpted wooden bar, so highly polished that it shimmered in the candlelight. Glasses of all shapes and sizes lining the wall behind the bar sparkled like stars in the flickering light. A group of at least a dozen men and women were gathered around the far end of the bar, the apparent source of the shouting and laughter.

Moving to the bar area as she was instructed, she selected one of the few empty tables and sat down with her back to a large television screen. After spreading out the three-page application form, she withdrew a pen from her handbag and began filling in the form. For her name she wrote Anouk Allard, and gave the hotel’s address. Meanwhile, more people arrived nearby, after which several explosive bursts of laughter firing in machine gun fashion, distracted her. Maybe she should move to the dining room, she thought. But when she glanced toward the hostess who had specifically sent her to this area, she squashed the idea.

Halfway through filling out her application, she took a break and glanced around her. Her attention fell onto the back of an English newspaper that the man sitting next to her was reading. She scanned the page and stopped abruptly, recognizing a photograph of herself. A gasp escaped her. The man turned and glanced at her. With her heart pounding, she folded up the application and tucked it inside her handbag, scooted back her chair, stood up, and as quickly as she could manage without drawing attention, walked tall and confidently toward the door.

About the Author

Susan Finlay is a newly published author who loves writing, blogging, traveling, and taking photos. She was born in Germany, but grew up in the U.S. A mother of two grown children, she lives in Missouri with her husband and their three cats. Before becoming an author, Susan worked in bank auditing and in a bank department that investigated suspicious activity.

Her first novel, and the first in a series, In the Shadows: An Outsiders Mystery, was published on October, 30, 2013. Here’s a brief blurb about the book: Dave Martin is a former cop from Chicago, who travels to Reynier, France, a small village riddled with caves and troglodyte cave dwellings. There, he meets a mysterious young woman who is desperate to hide a secret, but the detective in Dave can’t stop trying to figure out what’s going on.

The second book in her series is in the final editing stage. It’s called, Where Secrets Reside: An Outsiders Mystery, and is due for release in late April, 2014. Here’s a sneak peek at that book: After one of the locals makes a startling discovery, the residents of the peaceful, close-knit village of Reynier, France, find themselves victimized by a serial killer, a puzzling criminal whose actions force them to look at themselves and each other in a new light. Is the killer an outsider, or one of their own? Who will be the next victim?

Her third book, a suspense novel tentatively titled, Liars’ Games, is set in Denver, Colorado. That book is in editing right now and is expected to be released in the second half of 2014.


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My friends at Uproar Comics have today released the very first issue of their brand new sci-fi comic, Leap.

Happy Leap Day

Leap is ‘A space-faring neo-science fiction epic that explores the light of the human experience within the vast unending darkness of the universe’. It follows the story of the spacecraft Vanguard and its crew, as they chart the galaxy. Their mission is to map the stars so that humanity can some day follow, collecting new resources and if need be, find a new home.

This issue – Issue Zero – has the crew landing on their first planet, over eighty years after leaving Earth. What they find is aliens, adventure and the first sparks of truth.

I was lucky enough to read an advance copy under the crafty pretence of helping edit (evil laugh), and I enjoyed it. I don’t read comics and I’m not all that keen on them in general (I’ve read a grand total of four famous and popular graphic novels and rolled my eyes and shook my head all the way through all but one of them), but I found myself watching the page count as I neared the end of Leap, and hoping some kind of PDF magic would keep it going into the next issue. It did not. So, suffice to say I will be buying issue two and beyond.

The artwork is one of the biggest issues I have with comics and graphic novels. Usually I find it god-awful-looking, frankly. But no so with Leap. It’s full, vivid colour, painted over 3D models. It’s clear, unique and interesting to look at. And I’ve seen refinements to some of those 3D models, so future issues are going to look even better.

So, in short, buy it. Here. Now. Also watch the trailer and sample some pages.


Acts of Violence

As you may have gathered from the counter on the right ending its countdown, and from me saying several times, Acts of Violence is now available!

Acts of Violence is a semi-noir (though beta readers have stated there’s nothing semi about it) thriller. It is, strictly speaking, sci-fi as well, but there’s little enough of that for people with no inclination towards sci-fi to still enjoy it. Basically, it happens to be set in the same universe as the NEXUS series (though not a part of that series), but in a very low-tech, poor colony town so strongly fueled by crime that even the incessant rain can’t douse it.


Amazon UK

Amazon US

Smashwords (all e-formats)

Within the next week or so, Smashwords will also distribute to retailers such as iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Waterstones, etc. But there’s no need to wait, as Smashwords itself has the book in nearly every conceivable format!

Acts of Violence Cover

My name’s Jack Mason. I made a mistake. Took home the wrong girl. Now she’s dead. Cut up. And they’re telling me I did it.

It’s the same cop that tried to take me down ten years ago. Now he’s coming at me hard. And he’s not the only one. Cole Webster, the city’s crime lord, thinks I stole from him. Broke me out of custody just to ask me about it. Then I killed his son. Now he really wants me.

Add to this equation a government agent, and I’m a real popular guy right now. Pretty much everyone I meet wants me dead, lawfully or otherwise. There’s nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. I’ve got till morning to uncover Webster’s trafficking operation and take the heat off me. And all I’ve got to go on is a pissed off homeless girl with a thirst for revenge.

Guess it could be worse. Can’t quite figure how.