Saturday, 30 November 2013

Film Review - Halloween

It's been many years since I last watched this and I enjoyed watching it again. It's a classic in the slasher genres and has inspired many imitators and remakes since its release. It tells the story of a young boy who murders his sister and then fifteen years later escapes from the asylum. He then returns to his home town and murders more teens the same age as his sister.

It does show it's age in many ways, it lacks the gore of modern films (not a bad thing in my opinion) and it does feel a bit cheesey, although that's partly because it has been imitated so many times it lacks the rawness from its original release.

The film also feels a little clumsy in places, but it does do two things very well. The first is Michael Myers, you never really understand who or what he his and comes across as implacable and very sinister. The other thing is the music, the title tune in particular is very effective and works well with the film.

It might have aged a bit, but overall it remains an excellent watch and fully deserving of its classic status in film history.


John Carpenter's highly influential modern horror/suspense film set the trend for two decades of re-makes and sequels. Six-year-old Michael Myers is confined to an insane asylum after stabbing his sexually active teenage sister to death on Halloween night 1963. Exactly fifteen years later Michael escapes, returning to his home town of Haddonfield with psychiatrist Doctor Loomis (Donald Pleasence) in hot pursuit. Bookish babysitter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), all alone in the house on Halloween night, soon discovers that she is Michael's next target.


November Short Fiction Contest Winners


It's that fun time of the month where I get to read the entrants for the latest short fiction contest and it's also the hard time of picking a winner. This month's image was the Poe inspired picture of a raven by a gravestone. I expected some spooky stories and I wasn't dissapointed!

I received thirty entries in total and a big thanks to everyone who entered, the quality of the stories where excellent and picking the three winners was no easy task. I have however whittled the entries down to the three winners and they are:

  1. First prize of a £50 Amazon gift card goes to Emily Nemchick for her story 'Worms'.
  2. Second prize of a £20 Amazon gift card goes to Jason Purdy for his story 'The Face of God' (Double congratulations for Jason as also won third prize in July's contest!).
  3. Third prize of a £10 Amazon gift card goes to Ian Thompson for his story 'A letter from the dead'.
Well done to the winners, you can read their excellent stories in full below.

December's short fiction contest has started with a rather sunny picture as this month's inspiration, check it out here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/december-short-fiction-contest.html

I'm also running a Facebook group which is an excellent place for readers to discover new short and flash fiction and is also somewhere that writers can show off their work in those forms. COme and join the group here:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/shortfictionreadersandwriters/

And now onto November's winning stories:

Worms by Emily Nemchick

http://emilynemchick.weebly.com/

The bird perched thoughtfully on the cold, frozen ground beside the gravestone. He gave the frigid earth a tentative peck, as if the taste of the ice might be some indicator of who lay beneath.
Each person was different, you see. Some tasted sweet, like fresh honey dripping from the honeycomb. Those were usually the young ones, the innocent and the dreamers. Others were as bitter and galling as acid, their vitriol soaking into the earth around them and making the worms fat with pulpy white malice.

The worms were what he was seeking, you see. The bird had sampled many a human corpse through the plump, wriggling medium of the graveyard's worms. Each one had its own distinctive flavour, left over from the fragrance of the lives of the people they had consumed.

He had tasted many worms, but never had he found the taste he was seeking above all others. The mingled sorrow, wisdom and hope of his long-dead master, whose shoulder had been his world for so many happy years. He couldn't read the faded lettering, etched in the human tongue, and although he had called the name time and again on his search, the same 'caw, caw' was all that fell on the ears of the mourners. Now, with the ground frozen by the early November chill, he would have to wait a while longer to see if this gravestone covered the memories he sought.

He would know with the first bite whether he had found a granite shoulder to perch on.

The Face of God by Jason Purdy

https://twitter.com/JasonAPurdy

Every time he found a dead bird on his hand, he’d take it home, pluck it, and add the feathers to his collection. He had a lot of time for feather collecting. Most stayed away, especially after the incident, where the young boy got hurt and the blood stained the sun bleached porch boards a deep crimson. Now he kept to himself. Never even went into town, got everything from the land. Sometimes he ate the birds, but only if things weren’t going well. Only if the crops were failing, or the traps weren’t catching anything.

The birds died a lot around here. There was something in the air. He felt it, thick, and heavy, an evil, like a fog that settles in your lungs and slowly kills you with a black, bleak miasma. Though it could just be the fumes from the coal mine.

Three more birds and he’d be done. He was making a suit. A suit of feathers, a suit of wings and bones and cartilage. A suit that he’d drape himself in and take a flying leap off the cliffs with. Then he’d fly away, all the way to somewhere warm, somewhere where the sky isn’t perpetually grey and where every glance, every gaze, doesn’t come laden with pretence, with hatred and prejudice.
He was quite mad.

Someone had once told him he was mad as a hatter but that confused him, because he didn’t own any hats. Their tone of voice and their face told him that they meant it as an insult, but to him, everything was an insult. Every life, every second, every blade of grass, every drop of rain, every moment spent lying awake, writhing in agony as the sickness wracked his weary body. Every moment was an insult of cosmic proportions.

Maybe if the suit worked, maybe if he could fly, then he’d arch his wings and tear his way into the sky, ripping a whole through the stars, flying right into the man on the moon’s mouth and coming out face to face with God. Then he’d spit at him. How great would that be?

Another bird drops, like a thick, fat rain drop. He watches it’s descent through his grimy binoculars. Only a few more to go and he’ll be ready. His mother told him he was mad, but she’s the mad one, thinking she can stop him, thinking she has a say in anything when she’s nothing more than a bag of bones and the rotten threads of her Sunday best. To say less about his father, who’s nothing, nothing but ash that he tossed down the old well.

There’s nothing but him and the birds and his great mission now. Two more fall, off in the fields, passing in and out of the belching smoke from the mine. Disappearing, then reappearing, ethereal and real in turns like the roll of a dice. This is it. He’s ready to fly now. He’s ready to visit with God.

A Letter from the Dead by Ian Thompson

www.planettommo.com

My dearest Jonathan,

I hope I find you in good health after your recent adventures.

May I firstly congratulate you upon your most meritorious marriage to Wilhelmina Murray. Whilst I felt a trifle disgruntled not to be invited to the celebration, I also understood your reasoning. Time has, as always, wafted that ire away. I hear little Quincy is growing up to be a feisty toddler. Your fighting spirit is a tribute to your lineage, and has obviously been inherited by the little fellow.

It was such a shame that our last meeting ended so abruptly, and most discourteous of Abraham. One day I will be forced to have words with him, as I cannot have my sisters being treated so. But that is for another day.

I have enclosed a painting for you, as I know how much you enjoyed watching the indigenous wildlife during your stay. It is a very rare bird from the crow family. So rare, in fact, that it only inhabits certain dwellings. Yet it is not the dwelling that it favours with its presence, more the occupier. This picture is of mine own bird, and I painted it whilst recuperating.

The feathery marvel is from mythology, and is an offshoot of an ancient Roman bird, namely the Caladrius. Now, myth holds the Caladrius to be a snow-white bird, but as you can observe, mine is blue. You see, whilst the original birds were able to take human sickness into themselves, and then fly away and disperse it; that was not quite enough for people like me. For we have our own peculiar needs and therefore we modified legend to make the birds our own.

I beseech you to understand that the upkeep of immortality demands more than mere chance. For around any given corner or alcove, there may be a shadow, lurking, waiting, to cut off your head, or worse; drive a stake through your heart. But you know all about those people.

The bird is thing of beauty do you not think? I re-named mine Lucy, recently. The bird did not seem to mind, and it gives me some fond memories. Lucy took an age to heal me. You did, after all, leave me for dust.

However, let’s let bygones be bygones. Do you like my new coffin? It’s made of stone, specifically a grey limestone from the mines of Govajdia. You probably do not like the carvings; after all, you never had a flair for the flamboyant. I cannot say the same for myself.

Well, this was just meant to be a short note, but I find myself rambling as usual. I must end now, to rest and continue my convalescence.

As soon as I am fully restored, I will be sure to drop by, as I miss both Mina and yourself.  And I find that I have a growing thirst to visit your shores, and London, once more.

Your friend,

Dracula.

Guest Post - How to Juggle an Erotica-Writing Granny with Smelly Trolls



How to Juggle an Erotica-Writing Granny with Smelly Trolls
Rosen Trevithick discusses writing for both children and adults

I began my career as a writer for grown ups with some cheeky adult humour, but two years in, I decided to also write books for children. When the blurb of my latest adult story needed to contain the phrase ‘butt plug’, I began to appreciate the need to carefully manage my market.

My books for adults often have mature themes, for example my latest novella, My Granny Writes Erotica, is a comedy that deals with a sixty-five year old woman’s cluelessness when she comes face to face with a variety of sex toys in her efforts to make a quick buck selling erotic fiction. ‘Mummy, what’s a nipple clamp?’ is not a question I wish to inspire. Other topics in my adult fiction include suicide and serious mental illness. So it’s fair to say that a child reading one of my books intended for adults would be a bad thing to happen.

My first thought was to choose a different pen name for my children’s books – something similar to Rosen Trevithick, like Rosie Tree for example. That way adults might draw the connection but children wouldn’t be taken straight from one to the other. However, I had already established a reputation as Rosen and feared that my books for children would lose that benefit if I added an extra level of reasoning to make the connection.

David Walliams wrote incredibly adult sketches for Little Britain and then released books for children under the same name. Roald Dahl, Nick Spalding, Lynda Wilcox … the list of writers who use the same name for both audience is endless.

I realised I would have to take other measures to ensure that my child readers, typically aged six to ten, were not exposed to adult material.

The first thing I did was edit the blurbs for my adult books, to include a brief note highlighting the fact that they are aimed at adults. Having spent considerable time tidying up blurbs for Indie Book Bargains, I know that some authors feel the need to make statements like ‘WARNING: CONTAINS MATERIAL UNSUITABLE FOR UNDER 18s’ at the very beginning of their blurb, before the synopsis. In my personal opinion, such declarations look unprofessional and should be avoided. If your cover and blurb don’t tell potential readers who your book is for, then you’re doing something wrong. Having said that, there’s no harm reiterating your message for the benefit of buyers who merely skim synopses, but keep it modest.

My next step was to create a new website for my child readers. www.SmellyTrolls.co.uk doesn’t contain any new content as such, but provides a filtered view of my general blog, www.RosenTrevithick.co.uk with the content for adults removed. Also, my Facebook page contains a note directing children to the dedicated website.

Katie W. Stewart illustrates my children’s books. Even though she is talented at a variety of styles including covers for adult books, I decided not to work with her on my books for adults, to further the distinction.

I have two different cover styles. My typical cover for adults has a white background with a wispy design, a photograph and my pen name written in calligraphy. Whereas my typical cover for kids has a bright coloured background, an illustration and my pen name written in a handwriting font. This distinguishes them at first glance.

My final point on marketing is that, whilst I’ve taken precautions to separate my children’s books from my catalogue for adults wherever possible, it’s the parents’ responsibility to make sure that children aren’t browsing the internet unsupervised. I recommend that parents read webpages before loading them for their children and turn off shopping facilities when children are using eReaders.

Today I have launched three new books: Seesaw - Volume II, Trolls on Ice and The First Trollogy. I’m hoping that the steps I’ve taken to brand my books appropriately will help readers easily distinguish the short story collection for adults from the two Smelly Troll books for children.

I interspersed writing the short stories for adults with writing troll chapter books. Switching between styles did cause a few problems, the biggest being that trolls say ‘yarb’ instead of ‘yes’. It can sap all the punch from a serious drama if a man slowly approaches his friend, puts a hand on her arms and breathes, “You’re thinking about dying again, aren’t you?” if the sister replies, “Yarb.”

In summary, the process of writing for two different audiences has been fairly painless, but provided a new challenge when it came to marketing. However, the steps I’ve taken to separate my material have almost certainly been lighter work than setting up a new identity and having to re-establish myself from the beginning.

 You can buy Rosen's three new books now from Amazon:

Friday, 29 November 2013

Guest Author Interview - Rupali Rotti

In today's guest author interview I welcome Rupali Rotti, you can read it in full below:

 


Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
After working for around 9 years, I dabbled in business for some time. Recently, I’ve taken a sabbatical and finally found time for my hobby. I decided to pursue my childhood dream of writing a detective action/adventure story and luckily, a publisher accepted to publish my first work. My first book is out now and I’m currently working on the second in the series.

What first inspired you to start writing?
I have been writing for as long as I remember, so I don’t know what first inspired me. I think I had blurted out my first poem as a toddler. But I had never succeeded in writing a novel-sized story until I read the Harry Potter series. Though Harry Potter series inspired me to write a novel, I’m highly influenced by the Hardy Boys series. In my teen years I would imagine myself as a detective and would try and investigate anything that caught my attention. While in college, I even managed to find a thief of my bicycle, only I got scared of the guy and ran.

And what was your first story?
My series is about two teenage brothers, Raj and Sandy, who are dreamers like me and who want to be detectives. In the first book, The Valentine’s Day Clue, when their childhood friend gets beaten by a bunch of guys, they take on the case eagerly. At first they think that the bashing was because a girl was proposed to, and her secret admirer didn’t like it. But when they are attacked with chilli powder, the girl who was proposed to gets abducted, and Sandy is later held captive, the boys conclude that this case is more complicated than they imagined. Before long, they find out (just like I did) that ‘investigating’ and ‘facing criminals’ are different ballgames altogether. However, the boys stick to their guns and see the case through.

Do you write in the same genre that you read?
I read a lot of genres, except romance & vampires, but have written only in action/adventure till now. I’m trying to make my 2nd book a thriller and also plan to dabble in horror sometime in the future. I also have a book half-written in science-based mythology, but it required tremendous research, so it has stalled for the moment.

If you could work with any author, who would it be and why?
Though there's always something that could be learned from other writers, I haven’t thought about working with anyone yet. I think that creative people need to be eccentric about their work. Unless they do what their heart tells them to do rather than agreeing to common belief/practice, their work can’t achieve greatness. As an author, I believe it is my responsibility to take the readers on a journey into a different world and show them how to live life the hero’s way. Heroes don’t do different things, they only deal differently. This ‘doing different’ needs eccentricity to overcome the hurdles and maintain your calm. So, I don’t know what two eccentric people will achieve if they decide to work together. :-)
What is your favourite word?
My current favourite word is ‘regurgitate’.

What was the last book you read?
Apart from reading non-fiction books about terrorism, as that’s the topic of my 2nd book, the last book I read (or reread) was ‘The Mystery of the Silver Spider’ by Alfred Hitchcock.

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on the 2nd book in the series, where Raj and Sandy take the learnings from their first case and move forward. Soon, they are approached by their mentor, a detective. He thinks that a few incidents which have recently occurred are related to each other, but has no way of proving it. Being short on departmental support & resources, he wants the boys to help him out with a seemingly risk-free assignment. They are awarded the responsibility of being bodyguards to a child-actor and face the most difficult case of their lives. Their sleuthing reveals that this case is about terrorists who have lost something important and it’s a race about who finds it first. Eventually, things go out of hand and a sinister plot threatens to play itself out.

This is the story of these two teenagers, a child-actor whose mother gets murdered, and a poor trucker who will do anything to rescue his love from the muck of prostitution.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
‘The Valentine’s Day Clue’, about which I talked earlier, is my latest work and I post regularly on my facebook page, http://facebook.com/Nayak.Brothers.Book.Series. More could be found out on my website: http://nayakbrothers.webs.com/ as well.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Music Helps Improve Your Writing



It's a bold claim I know, but music can help you improve your writing. I don't mean just by listening to music while you write, although I do find that it aids my concentration, no I mean that by examining how good music (of any genre) can help your writing get better.

The first requisite is that you want to improve your skill as a writer, that should be the goal for any writer. Like most devotions writing is a skill that can be learnt, but never truly mastered. I consider myself to be a decent writer, but there's always scope for getting better. If you've reached a level that requires no improvement then please share your secret!

Back to music, how exactly does music aid in writing?

Music does some things very well and it is these strengths that you can utilise as a writer. The first is the expression of emotion, music is one of the things in life that can touch the heart for good or bad. How does it do this? Musicians uses the tune itself and instrumentation to convey feeling (we'll come to lyrics shortly). As a simple example think of sombre music, it is sonorous with measured change.

With such music and heavy tones for instrumentation carries the emotions like grief or despair that weigh upon the heart, it describes the despair or the misery in a way beyond words. But not for a writer, listen to sad songs (start with instrumentals) and describe the sound that you hear and it's effect.

Music also speaks of happier times and you can use the same techniques to describe feelings of love and joy. A greater breadth of instrumental speaks of lighter things, but the same instrument can describe both light and dark in the same way that words can be used to paint a scene or a feeling. Listen to a variety of piano or any music from a single instrument, how does that same voice tell a tale so different from the last?

The attraction of music is more than just the tune, another layer can be added to make it a song. Here a writer treads more familiar ground, you craft words and words are what makes a song. But writing a song requires some specific traits and these traits can aid in writing different forms.

Song lyrics follow a certain structure, they also require economy and these are lessons that are worth learning. A song tends to focus on a particular event or feeling, everything the singer sings fixes upon that solitary point. A story or even a book will usually cover wider ground, but each instant within the story should be focused on what is happening at that given moment. Use economy to make your writing stronger, bloated writing slows the reader's enjoyment of the story.

Song lyrics have to follow a tune, it is part of the music of the song. Your writing doesn't have to follow a particular cadence, but it should sound pleasing when read. Words that have a rhythm to them will remain in the reader's mind more easily and linger there.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Interviewed on The Writing Side of Me Blog



I've been interviewed on The Writing Side of Me blog, you can read what I had to say here:

http://rachaelhorsma.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/author-interview-with-michael-brookes.html

Thanks Rachael!

Guest Authors Revisted - Nicolas Wilson

I first interview Nicolas Wilson back in April (you can read the original interview here), I recently caught up with him to see what he's been up to since then, you can find out more below:
 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00FCKLU3E/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00FCKLU3E&linkCode=as2&tag=phasespacenet-21

What has changed in your life since we last spoke?
Well, I have to think the wedding is pretty new. You and I did our first interview before my practically-a-wife-anyway girlfriend and I eloped, and the interview went live not long after. It's mostly coincidence, but after that, I had a pretty productive several months, in which I revised about 100 of my older short stories and compiled them into collections, one of which has yet to be released, and polished up four more of my older novels, the last of which released at the end of October. That alone feels like a huge weight off my chest. Those early novels needed a lot more cleanup than my newer work, but having them weighing me down prevented me from being able to get through the newer work.

I'm writing the first draft of a psychological thriller for National Novel Writing Month this November, and it'll be my first new writing in around a year, unless you count a short novella I wrote in the spring, for my mailing list subscribers, and the ending to a novel I'd been working on the first draft of, on and off, for two years. I've only got a few projects to revise for my 2014 publishing schedule, so I expect to start working on sequels soon, as two of my new releases are intended to be the opening of series.

Have you learnt any new wisdom?
Always. Right now, I'm in the process of learning the importance of finding a balance between creating new projects, and finishing old ones. For years, I convinced myself I'd have time to revise things later- I just had to write this idea out now. I shared a chapter a week on my blog, and while they were polished enough for that, they weren't ready for publication as ebooks. I wrote 9 novels in 2-3 years, and never had enough time to polish them up to completion. In some ways, I think that was me procrastinating. But I also think it was me recognizing that they weren't quite ready, yet- and neither was I, as an author. I did lots of polish drafts, but they were just never quite there.

I love first drafts- it's the part of writing where you can fall in love with new people and new ideas. But hoarding those drafts in my closet doesn't do anyone any good. And so I've had to deprive myself of that first-draft joy for a while, now, to whittle the backlog down. It's been fun rediscovering my old jokes, and falling for the same stories all over again. But editing is always closer to work for me than that first draft. And it turns out my wife is a bit of a slave-driver. So it's been grueling.

Have you become a better writer? If so, how?
I'd say I've learned a lot more about how I work. Two years of NaNos gave me the ability to gauge the kind of quota I can expect from myself, but a year of revisions has made me look at the way that I write, the kinds of elements that I usually need to tighten after the fact, and which of my beta readers' notes usually recur between novels. I don't think my self-edited work, like the short stories or blog-serialized chapters, was bad, but I definitely developed some bad habits.

Whores, the novel we spoke about last time, was actually my fifth novel. And it was also the first one that I felt was ready, and done. It set a bar, for me, that all of my work had to be that polished before I put it up for public consumption. So after Whores, it was important to me to present my novels, in the order they were written so that readers wouldn't be shocked at the progression of my voice or work.

Early next year, you'll have the chance to read my sixth (published) novel, Homeless*, and the tone is quite different from Dag or Nexus, my earliest novels, and I think it's just stronger work. Things that used to take me several drafts to get right I get in a draft or two. I've heard sculpting described as removing all of the pieces of the stone that weren't part of the finished piece- and I've learned how to get to the heart of my work much more quickly.

*Nine-ish written.

What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, I'm in the final edit on Banksters, a sexy, slow-burn financial thriller. That'll be out of my hair in a week or two, though, and then I'll be jumping into National Novel Writing Month on a psychological thriller/horror, Twist, as well as helping a few authors I know prep for their own NaNo, including my sometimes writing buddy Katie de Long. It's tradition, at this point, for me to do NaNo, and to serialize it on my blog every day, as I write it. Banksters began that way in 2011, and 2012's project, Singularity, is on my revision list to finalize and publish next year. So if you drop by the blog on NicolasWilson.com after November 2nd, you can witness a very disturbing form of performance art, though one which features a (usually) only metaphorically nude artist.

Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
The publication date for Banksters snuck up on me while I was working on this, so initially I thought I'd only be able to give you the info for The Necromancer's Gambit, my other most recent release, but Banksters is out now, too. I think the Necromancer's Gambit is probably closer to your speed, though. It's a dark urban fantasy, verging on horror in some places, about a group of modern magicians fighting off an insurrection. Part film noir private investigator story, part buddy comedy, and part explosive action story, with a dose of mythology and magic on top. And unseemly activity with corpses. Because if someone doesn't have unpleasant sex, I can't be sure I actually wrote it.

The Necromancer's Gambit is available from these fine etailers:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FCKLU3E

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-necromancers-gambit-nicolas-wilson/1116969628?ean=2940148423645&itm=1&usri=2940148423645

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-necromancer-s-gambit-the-gambit-1

Books by Nicolas Wilson on Amazon:

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Tuesday Tease - Border Zone by Michael Condon

Welcome to the first in a new series here on my blog, it's called 'Tuesday Tease' and each week will feature a preview of a fellow author's book. If you like what you read then I invite you to purchase their work via the links at the bottom of the post. We start this feature with Michael Condon's 'Border Zone', the sequel to his book 'The Applicant'.



The Applicant Border Zone
by Michael Condon


I contracted tuberculosis when I was thirteen years of age. That’s what I told the border control officers during the first attempt at smuggling the youth across the Rio Grande river into Texas. “Run, run go get back,” the officer called to his partner. My group of four was intercepted after crossing over in a raft. “My God Sanchez this guy tells me he’s got TB.” I was coughing and spitting up phlegm as the agent backed off and called his partner. Human trafficking is a federal crime in the United States, and not willing to spend the rest of my life in prison, I was prepared to do anything to avoid it. I hacked up another Louie and spat it out ten feet away. The officer backed away as I scrambled onto my feet and leapt toward the raft alongside the river. I crawled down the embankment, hopped into the raft and began to paddle toward the other side. The officer at the same time began shouting for me to stop, but I continued paddling across. He could have stopped me, as these officers had twenty or more years of training, but from the look on his face he was relieved I got away. When I reached the other side I watched as the group of four that trusted me, were led away by the agents. I felt guilty for the position they were now in. And there was nothing I could do about it now.

They would eventually be taken back to their hometowns in Mexico and further south where the life was not promising, as they were hoping to enter the land of opportunity where it was better than the meager twelve dollars a day on this side. They would be flown back after a detainment and they would likely not try to get across again, at least until some time had passed. A few would go back to searching the garbage dumps for anything salvageable and grow whatever seeds they could find in their plot of land.

Born near the mining town of Real De Catorce, where my father mined silver all his life, had its challenges. One challenge was learning English at an early age. The other challenge was seeing my father come home tired and worn on the meager wages the companies paid. Early, as a prospector he did well until the laws changed and the silver mines were taken over by the larger companies. I learned to lie, cheat and grab anything I could to get ahead in life as the silver could lead men into a psychosis of greed. I did not care for nor had any interest in following in the footsteps of my father.

I had arrived in Peru with Polly only four months earlier. I met Polly in Roanoke Virginia at the diner where she worked. She asked me at the time if I’d like to volunteer in Peru, helping the aboriginals as a volunteer. I accepted and stayed with her a short time helping the aboriginals in the Andes Mountains.

I became a US citizen years ago when I left Real De Catorce, and entered the army as an enlisted member. When Polly asked me if I’d like to go to Peru I had no hesitation. I knew the countries in the south well enough to know I could find my way around, and volunteering to help others was something I needed in life at the time. She was sad if not shocked to see me go.

The agents were now gone but the continuous schedule of the border control vehicles would pass every hour or so along the dirt road across the Rio Grande, or the Rio Bravo del Norte, as it is known in Mexico. It was the same every day. Over the next year I spent getting youth across the river and into their new life to safe houses on the other side.

My first attempt at moving ganje across the Rio Grande came two months later. I learned there were many safe houses, or stash houses that were often raided by border control. There would often be thirty or more illegals inside. The conditions were uninhabitable. Then there were the mules. The mules would often go across the desert as far as they could with their bales of ganje. The bales were picked up, if not found by agents, and transferred into Phoenix, where there were more stash houses. After that the bales were spread across the lower states and upper northeast. It was not uncommon for agents to raid a house and find 200,000 pounds of ganje worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Through a chance meeting I ran into Felix Escobar in a small town along the Mexican border. He would often explain that the huge amount of money coming into Mexico went to schools, and bribing the local officials. Money could buy their trade through safe towns as it had for years. But if you got in their way, you would not be seen again. Felix explained the acid tanks. The bodies were thrown into a tank of acid. The acid would eat the skin and bones. Or they were simply shot and killed and found the next morning along the dirt roads.

I sat in a local mescelaneas as Felix Escobar came in wearing the Uzi Submachine across his shoulder. Talking to him he explained the problems he was having with confiscations across the border. He was a big man with a wide smile and anyone who knew him would have no choice but to support him, not because he commanded respect, and the good things he did for the town, but because some feared him. I might have been afraid of him, but he was actually quite likeable. I wasn’t sure I was trusted, but from the support of taking bales of ganje across the river for so long, I felt he had no problem with me. After some time I became a confidante, taken under his wing and got to know more about the upper echelon of the cartel. It was a huge operation. Run like any corporation in the states.

Felix wore a figure of a saint around his neck for protection. Like so many others they believed a saint would protect them. It was rumored that Felix had fathered over one hundred children from fifty different women. He could not keep his pecker in his pants for long. As I sat listening to his rambling on, I got up. I told him I’d be right back as I walked outside to the side of the building. I pulled it out and started peeing everywhere. I peed on the red flowers, the bricks, along the sidewalk until there was nothing left to give. Finally I put it away and went back inside to sit with Felix and listen to him talk. He seemed to enjoy the fact that I listened and didn’t talk much. He told me he was going to have his evening mud bath from the local Quinceanera. He invited me over for the first time to have a mud bath at his farmhouse.

On the drive over in his brown pickup, he explained that the special mud was flown in from a special area of Peru that had special cleansing properties. Often the women in France used the mud, as well as women in the states to use as a mask. When dried it seemed to hold the skin firm. The mud was shipped in barrels that Felix had stored around the farmhouse.

He drove out into a remote forested area until reaching a clearing of rolling land that was free of any trees or plants. He slowed the truck down as he approached an old wooden bridge over a creek that had little water running along it and continued up a large grassy hill toward a wooden farm house. He concentrated on driving along the grassy hill toward the house as I noticed the size of the house and barn. It was a large farmhouse with plants alongside. Several men were in the field beside the house working on plants as we approached. Felix pulled the truck to a stop and as we got out three Quinceanera ran up to the truck. Felix told them to get lost and he would see them later, as we walked toward the structure. He looked off to see the men working the field and called out to them.

Felix had been farting all the way home from the mescelaneas so I rolled down the window. He had obviously been eating rank food as he sounded several times as though he may have lost some of it in his pants. By his driving habits he seemed in a hurry to get back to his farmhouse.

Once inside he said, “Go ahead and do what you like. I have a few things to do outside.” He was gone for several hours. During that time I got a sense he wouldn’t be back for a while. I took the opportunity to go through the wooden desk drawer on the other side of the room. . There was a pad of paper with dates and names with dollar amounts. It was a ledger of where and when and to whom his gange was destined. It had enough information with names that I took a photo of several pages. I got up and walked outside. No one was in the area as the men who were in the field were now gone. It was eerily quiet as I approached a metal vat or tub with white corrosion on the ground alongside. Seeing no one I walked back inside to wait and see if there was more information I could gather. I approached the desk again and began going through the drawers. In the bottom drawer were two handguns with several boxes of bullets. I continued to look through the drawers but found nothing of interest other than a medal with a patron saint for protection. I saw these often during my time there. Often the illegals wore them to get safely into the US, but were sorely disappointed when they get caught.

Ganje would soon become legal in most of the states as there were contingencies being made, even by some congressmen at present in the house and senate. It had been tossed around and some cartels began to realize their time was short, in the way they operated and would change the way they did business when that time came. Felix would never subscribe to the idea of selling off his fortunes to any legal entity. He knew all along he would not be given amnesty in fact he would be sentenced to prison with no second thoughts. He told me on one occasion that his profits were so enormous and was so addicted to them that he would continue to operate illegally and enjoy the benefits no matter what he was told by any official who might approach him with offers.

There was also what he called the fringe benefits of the power he would like to hold onto. Like some greedy company whose profits confused even the IRS, that money was destined for his pockets, not anyone else.

As I began to get up from the desk he came in through a back room. I wondered if he saw me going through the desk drawer from an open window. But he just walked over casually and said, “Let’s go take a walk outside. I have something to show you Martin.”

We walked outside to an area where a white with red graffiti semi- tractor trailer sat with a few workers inside. They were welding a panel back against the front wall as another used an inadequate form of sealant that looked out of place. I thought of speaking up about the workmanship that was shabby but reconsidered. It was pretty obvious what they were doing. Felix said, “I can get a cab to hook up but I need a driver. I can get the forms you will need to drive this thing across the border. I have a route and destination inside. Avoid any alternate routes. If you get caught I’ll lose another shipment.” They finished the work inside as, a forklift with crates of watermelon were being moved into position for shipment. I’ve seen this act before and there was no way it would get through, especially considering the ridiculous graffiti. A red herring is what it was. Metal detectors would pick up this after a good sniffing from the hounds at checkpoints along the way. It was beyond belief that he’d consider this rig for the job. It’s when he continued talking that I reconsidered. “I have it this time in aroma free castings. No hounds will sniff what’s inside other than melon. No reason to suggest anything other than an old melon shipping company destined for the southern states. It’ll get through. Mark my work Martin. You think I’d leave this to anyone else? I need you because I can trust you. You can trust me right? Let’s take a walk inside and get some tacos from the Quinceanera. I hear they are preparing a mud bath,” Felix said with a wide grin. He had blackened teeth.

CHAPTER TWO

Waking up refreshed after a mud bath the previous evening was an unwanted experience. I knew that Felix was another animal now and being pampered to, was like a child wearing diapers. He seemed to enjoy it as he laughed out loud the entire time and giggled like a teenager being chased by a girl for the first time. I’d never seen a grown man cry out loud and was a nightmare.

As I got up from the makeshift bed that seemed to shift the backbone out of place, I walked out to the kitchen area wearing the clothes I slept in. Felix was not around and the house was quiet. No sign of the Quinceanera or workers anywhere. Not knowing where to relieve myself in the house I walked outside. Around to the side of the house I pulled it out again. I began the same habit that I became accustomed to. And that was to let out and give some relief to a body that felt in need of a chiropractor. I pissed for what seemed a lifetime along the wall leaving a wet mark, where I got creative to the left and right against the backdrop of a yellow daisy growing through a crack in the concrete, finally feeling relieved I put it away.

I never really liked being man handled the way we were by the Quinceanera but Felix didn’t seem to mind. They took us under their wing like two Storks delivering two infants to their mother. But I did not enjoy it. It was not so much like a stork but rather four cool operators of equipment in a mining operation with their direction of when to sit still and quiet. Like a Nazi war camp where we were told how to act and what parts to move, they went to work on our bodies with scrapers along the back that left welt marks. I know there were red welt marks along the scraped lines on the backside. So much for feeling a little sense of pain but feeling of indignation was prevalent and it was humbling if not tormenting. They were almost violent at times. It was a violation but their language used was at times horrific.

As I was zipping up, Felix came around the corner. “You’ll make it Martin. I guarantee you’ll make it. Just keep driving and don’t stop if you see a few bikers along a nest in the road. They might like to grab what’s on board but if you do, tell them Felix will come hunt you down and give you a nice acid bath if you try anything as stupid as robbing me. Got it?” I shook my head in affirmation as he paid little mind as he watched a large rig drive up the small dirt road onto his property toward the white with red graffiti trailer.*

 
Books by Michael Condon on Amazon:

New Drabble - Other People

My latest drabble has been posted in the Indie Book Bargains newsletter (check Rosen's site out here: http://www.indie-book-bargains.co.uk, not only do you get a daily drabble you also receive the latest and hottest Kindle deals!), the drabble is also copied below.

If you're like me and love reading and writing drabbles come and check out the Facebook page dedicated to drabbles:

https://www.facebook.com/drabbles

You can read some of my other drabbles here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/100-word-stories.html

Other People

They say that Hell is other people and with that I completely agree. Only with other people do you suffer deceit, hate and misery from the murky pit that forms social interaction. Alone I remain apart and untouched by the daily horror of the swarm around me.

Yet I see that is not the whole story.

I marvel that others share happiness between each other. I witness the happenings of friendship and love, joys that I will never feel for myself.

And then I wonder, is it other people that bring Hell into my life? Or is it just me?

Monday, 25 November 2013

Guest Author Interview - William Hrdina

In today's guest author interview I welcome William Hrdina, find out what he has to say about himself and his writing below:
 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00EN1ZPZW/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00EN1ZPZW&linkCode=as2&tag=phasespacenet-21


Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
My name is William Hrdina and I write Simple Journeys to Odd Destinations.
I have published novels in a number of different genres including modern fantasy, satire, humor and sci-fi. So far, I’ve written 17 novels and over 100 short stories. I quit my ‘day job’ doing medical simulations with robots to be a full time writer in October of 2012. I hold a philosophy and a religion degree from Indiana University.

What first inspired you to start writing?
It was in college. I turned in a research paper to my Sufism professor and he wrote, “You are hearing footsteps on a bridge in Indiana and assuming it’s an elephant” under my grade (a generous A-). The paper was (I have to admit) a fairly fantastical conspiracy between the Knights Templar and various Sufi sects based on some philosophical similarities that arose immediately after the First Crusade period. When I read my professor’s comment, I realized I didn’t care if what I wrote was true- truth, for me, wasn’t the point. It made a good story- whether it was ‘correct’ was irrelevant- why should reality stand in the way of a good yarn? In an epiphany, I realized this had always my frustration with college. I was only interested in religion insofar as it gave me interesting ideas and perspectives from which to tell stories. Then I realized I was doing the same thing with the philosophy, history, cognitive science, sociology, and film courses I was taking. I wasn’t in college to get a degree or even to learn- I was there to get seeds. Seeds that have grown into my books. Just as when I realize I’ve been setting up a plot revelation that surprises me as much as it does the reader- I’d been preparing to be a writer without even knowing I was doing it.

 Once I knew what was happening, I gave in to the inevitable and sat down at an old-fashioned word processor- the kind with two lines of text on a small green screen. You had to type one page at a time and then print it on the attached dot-matrix printer. That machine was like a hybrid typewriter and computer- with the deficiencies of both and the benefits of neither. Even under those conditions, I found if I just sat and paid attention, there was a movie in my head- just waiting for me to watch it.
That was when the work began. It took years and several novels before I learned to make my stupid fingers write words that matched the various voices in the movie and subtleties of the movie I was watching in my head. Now, after seventeen novels, I’ve reached the point where I know how to use my instrument. I’ve put in my 10,000 hours and what was once work, is now just fun. I work as much as any of the super-motivated business guys I’ve met- I just get paid a whole lot worse (so, so much worse) for my efforts. I care, but I don’t, because what I do is so fulfilling creatively and I get to wake up every morning excited by what I’m going to do.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
I would spend a day with either Nietzsche or Aliester Crowley because my understanding of both of these men is so radically different than their typical historical presentation. I find both men to be both brilliant and often quite funny and sarcastic. I would love to meet them and find out if I’m just an idiot or if they’re really kidding as often as I think they are.

Where do your best ideas come from?
For novels? The Big Om. If anyone knows the answer to that question, I’d sure love to hear about it! The movie plays- I write it down. Sometimes I’m more involved, but I try not to be.
The opposite is true of my short stories. I tend more towards satire in the shorties so the best of those come from the abject absurdity of living on Earth in America in 2013. Satire writes itself.

What was the last book you read?
I’m always reading three or four books at any given time. I most recently finished re-reading Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco as research for the novel I’m writing now. I’m also re-reading Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s Illuminatus Trilogy for research. For fun, I’m reading Kevin Smith’s run on Green Arrow and listening to The Will to Power: The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche- a series of lectures on Audible- which is probably why I’d like to meet him so much this week.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
I think my favorite part about writing is the moment that happens every day when I sit down and start reading what I wrote the day before and the movie projector in my head flickers back into life to the resume the movie- right where it left off- just like it has every day prior for over a decade now. It always seems like a miracle and I am grateful for it every day. I think if I could appreciate every cool thing in my life the way I appreciate that moment- I would be the happiest guy on earth.

And the least?
That’s easy. The thing I like least about writing is the process of editing the edited edit of my edited manuscript.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently writing my 18th novel: Conspiracy- The Movie- The Novel. I am editing Freedumb- an American re-telling of the story of Siddhartha (the Buddha) and recording the audiobook of Dhalgo.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
My latest release in print, ebook, and audiobook is Ialtaboath- a unique combination of adventure story, religion, history and fantasy that any fan of Indiana Jones will love. The next book I have coming out is Dhalgo, a young adult fantasy novel that is a combination of Conan the Barbarian and Gandhi, with just a hint of the Greatest American Hero. Dhalgo will be released in March of 2014. You can keep up with everything I do, including finding links to my free short story podcast- Simple Journeys to Odd Destinations at www.williamhrdina.com.

Books by William Hrdina on Amazon:

Book Impressions - The Reconstruction Descending by Newton

This is a wonderfully bizarre collection of short stories, it blends genres magnificently resulting in some truly unique stories. The quality of the writing is excellent and the imagination superb, a five star read all the way.

Some of the stories really stood out for me, the angel meeting the devil was a fun story. The story which provides the name of the collection was also something quite different.

For me the only problem was that it was over so quickly, I could have happily read more!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00C1IUYRS/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00C1IUYRS&linkCode=as2&tag=phasespacenet-21

Ghosts? Check. Killer robots? Check. Spontaneous combustion? Yup. A swirling tornado filled with industrial inspired monsters? You betcha.

You'll find all that and more in this genre-bending short story showcase that blends together elements of science fiction, horror, and fantasy.


The Reconstruction Descending is available from Amazon (and is a wonderful read)




Sunday, 24 November 2013

Game Review - Diablo III

I enjoyed playing through the first two games back in the day and this latest incarnation proved no exception. It follows the same path as the previous games, the world of Sanctuary is threatened by evil and it's up to a hero to save the day. The story follows a familiar path and while it has a few twists along the way it's nothing special.

However the cutscenes used to tell the story are fantastic, they are lovingly rendered and the animation is superb. Like the story the game itself treads old ground and that works for me as the previous games were such fun to play.

It's an action RPG, which means you fight monsters and complete quests earning experience as you go. Experience means you level up and your character gets stronger. Collecting loot is also important, providing new weapons and equipment, or goods to sell to buy the same.

Level design isn't anything new, you enter a variety of lands and dungeons and kill pretty much everything you find. So the game isn't anything new, so why is it so much fun? It does a great job of making your character feel powerful. At the start of a new act you tread carefully, you're barely stronger than the monsters and if you get surrounded then it's respawn time.

But once you've levelled up and gained new weapons and armour you start to wade through the enemies and it feels satisfying. The process is repeated with each area, but with new monsters, it doesn't require much thought, but that doesn't matter.

the game is highly polished resulting in a solid experience, it's good fun all the way. If you enjoy running around and hitting things (in a game naturally!) then this is highly recommended.

Blizzard Entertainment’s epic action-RPG Diablo III is moving the eternal war between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells to a new battleground--Xbox 360! Armed with a controller and a custom-designed interface tailored for consoles, players will step into the role of one of five powerful character classes—barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, monk, or demon hunter--and embark on a dark journey to save the world of Sanctuary from ancient demonic forces. As these heroes adventure from the humble town of New Tristram all the way to the Diamond Gates of the High Heavens, they’ll engage in pulse-pounding combat with hordes of monsters and challenging bosses, grow in experience and ability, and acquire items of incredible power.

Diablo III is available from Amazon (and is a fun game)


December Short Fiction Contest

Welcome to the latest monthly short fiction writing competition here on The Cult of Me. Every month I post a new picture and you can then write and submit a short story (with a maximum word count of 500 words). At the end of the month I will pick the winners and announce them on this blog.

The winner's stories will be available here (and promoted across KUF, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook and Stumbleupon and anywhere else I can) and you'll also have a link to your blog or website displayed alongside your story if you win.

Winning stories will also be compiled in a collection later in the year, proceeds from the sales of that collection will be used to help fund the prizes for this competition.

The winners will also receive an Amazon gift card:
  1. First Prize is a £50 gift card
  2. Second prize is a £20 gift card
  3. Third prize is a £10 gift card
Details on how you can enter are provided below and I'm looking forward to reading your entries!



The last few images have been gloomy affairs, ideal for a spooky story. For this month's contest I thought I would pick something a bit different. It's cold outside so I have chosen a nice warm picture and I'm sure all you talented writers (professional or not) can come up with some great stories from this month's picture.

As always, thanks to everyone who has entered and a big thank you to everyone who has supported the contest. Please continue that support by sharing the link to this contest wherever you can, it's much appreciated!

Please make sure to check your story for typos before submitting. I don't mind a few errors, but my enjoyment of a story is diminished if I have to wade through too many.

I'll post the winning entries by January 1st 2014.

As with everything in life there are a few rules:
  1. Only one entry per person.
  2. The story must not be longer than 500 words.
  3. Closing date for submissions is December 22nd 2013.
  4. By submitting the story you grant me a non-exclusive license to use it. I'll only post the winning entries.
  5. You also grant me a one time non-exclusive license to include the story in an e-book release.
  6. The judges decision is final.
Use the form below to enter your submission. After you've submitted please leave a comment on this page stating that you have submitted. And please help spread the word. I'm working to make this a regular feature so I need readers for the stories as well as entrants.
As well as comments section below you can chat about this competition in any of the threads I've listed below. If you don't know the sites then entering the competition is a good way to introduce yourself. Note that these sites are not affiliated with the competition in any way!

KUF: http://www.kuforum.co.uk/kindleusersforum/thread-13760.html

Goodreads (UK Amazon kindle Forum group): http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/977021-michael-brookes-horror-science-fiction

Kboards: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,152168.0.html

If you've started you're own thread or discussion somewhere about this month's competition then let me know and I'll add the link to this page.

Guest Post - A Perception of Reality by Adam Easton

A Perception of Reality
by Adam Easton


Throughout my philosophical meanderings over the past ten years or so I have considered and debated various perceptions of reality. So here is my take on the multifaceted notion of reality. to kick things off we need to consider these questions. What is perception? What is reality? Are they the same thing? The answer to these questions depends on the individual so let’s explore that notion. 

Perhaps the more apt question is: what is perception of reality? But before we can answer that question we have to ask: what is the context of the perceiver? Who’s perception is it? And by asking these question we inevitably ask: Who’s reality is it? But still we are not done. The ultimate question when addressing perception of reality is: Who’s truth is it?

A rounded answer to all these questions is this: what people perceive is their reality and nobody can deny them that truth. 

Now let’s put all this in context. The notion of reality is ultimately linked to perception. In fact, in my view, perception predisposes reality. The tricky part is identifying reality in context of the individual and the social construct. 

When individual’s perceive, they make reference to whatever is going on in their environment and link these events to patterns of the mind that have been established over time based on previous perceptions. The na├»ve child who has had little experience in life and yet perceives a truck to be a tree is justified in acknowledging that truck as a tree. The child who knows no different that their construct of a tree does not actually meet the socially accepted construct of a tree is justified in claiming that, in their individual reality, the truck is a tree. Let’s assume that for whatever reason the word ‘tree’ matched the construct of a truck in some erroneous event in the child’s life. The point is that the socially accepted construct does not define the individual’s reality, child or not. 

But reality is not a rigid notion. Reality can and does change over time when social interaction or interaction with an environment of any kind inevitably alters perception. This is the natural impact of ‘learning’ whether we like it or not. So through increased social interaction, the perception of a truck will likely change as experience and learning reveals that their construct of a tree does not match the social construct of a truck. They learn that what they have been calling a tree is actually a truck. 

Confused? Yes, this type of philosophical banter usually does my head in too. But I hope it demonstrates how intricately our minds work in order to make sense of the world. Yet some authors have sort to make sense of this psychic soup through the narrative of philosophical fiction. Robert Pirsig through his book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is once such author. 

Pirsig’s work is based around metaphysics, or, how do people understand the world? In this quest he explores the notions of ‘subject’ and ‘object’. He investigates how the mind makes sense of the objective world. In the process of this he explores the notion of truth, among other things. But to loosely paraphrase, he says that truth is a function of time and since time is infinite, so are the number of truths. 

Above all else, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is about Quality theory, which Pirsig says is ‘the response of an organism (individual) to it’s environment’. 

In my view, perception and reality can be viewed in context of Pirsig’s work. To get back to the distinction I made earlier that reality is to be viewed in context of the individual and the social, we can link the subjective and objective respectively, which in turn is linked to perception and reality. 

Now let’s distinguish between the individual and the social. 

Individual patterns of thought are predominantly subjective. Our subjective perceptions frame our reality. But there is also a reality on a social level. Let’s call it the social conscience of human nature. In my view, this social conscience is what gives rise to the question of: what is reality? For the individual, reality is unquestionable. We just know our thoughts to be the truth. This truth, the individual truth, is the closest thing to truth we can get, as opposed to the social construct of truth.

If we go back to Pirsig’s notion that there are infinite truths and we acknowledge that two people can simultaneously believe different things about the same perception, than we can infer that two people can simultaneously have two different realities.     

Stay with me. Here’s the punch line.

I have said that perception and reality lead to truth. I have also shown that Pirsig tells us that truth is infinite. So we come full circle. What is reality?

Reality is what you perceive it to be. While social constructs will inevitably influence your perception, these constructs are merely quasi realities. You are the master of your own truth.

In my second book, Quality Killers, I will be exploring the individual reality in more detail. But first I will be publishing Paradox of Freedom by Christmas 2013, which will deal more with the social construct. These are fictional works and I promise you not as arduous as the words above. But I guess a complex question inevitably requires a complex answer.

I wish you all the best and please keep an eye out for Paradox of Freedom in the coming months.

Book Impressions - The Omega Paradox by Richard Kellier

The Omega Paradox is an interesting read, it blends science with belief and the occult in a way that kept me fascinated and entertained all the way through. It starts with a scientist's obsession with a series of acupunture prints from throughout history. This rather odd clue leads to a sequence of investigation that results in the discovery of a new species of human. This has rather significant for the rest of humanity and the world at large as you can imagine.

The story follows two main threads, the first is the discovery and revelation of the new human species and the second follows the work of a secret Nazi group working in opposition, with the two coming together for a dramatic finale.

For me the first thread was great, it's presented in a clear and understandable way (despite some of the science involved), it follows a well paced progression and really stands out The second thread unfortunately not so much, especially the early part of it. The secret nazi base and organisation has been done quite a bit and while it is well done weighs down the other more original thread.

Still it does improve throughout the book and does provide a suitable confrontation to conclude the story, but I cannot help but feel that the story might have been stronger without it and working on the wider context as the opposing force in the story.

Overall though the book hits the mark. It is well written and explores some interesting ideas. Well worth a read.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00AHY7LD8/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00AHY7LD8&linkCode=as2&tag=phasespacenet-21

Something new walks the face of the Earth.

A scientific mystery on a collision course with occult and religious beliefs.

Some believe he is a new phase in human evolution; others believe he is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ - the New Messiah.

It all started as a mild preoccupation for geneticist Tim Leigh; then swiftly blossomed into a full blown obsession. Never a moment can go by without him being drawn to the series of framed prints on his office wall. As he stares at the images, the images stare back through dark inscrutable eyes. There they sit, little fat Buddhas, challenging him to solve the mystery behind their imperturbable gaze.

The images Tim gazed at in this daily mind-game were a series of ancient acupuncture charts; but behind their deceptive facade lay hidden a mystery that had survived down the ages. An ancient enigma waiting to be revealed.

Rachel Kardo had no idea what she was being roped into when she agreed to help a colleague investigate what he believed to be a hidden message within ancient medical charts. Before she knew it she was at the centre of the most extraordinary events in human history. Some say it is a New Beginning, some say it is the End of Days for humanity as we know it. Only one thing is certain; by whatever forces rule our fate it has been decreed that the time for a new beginning is now.

The ancient code is decrypted and the message reveals something deeply mystifying, unprecedented and bizarre. An event that will change everyone's lives – forever.

Now there is something new on the surface of the Earth; a thing more hotly argued over and disputed or accepted than any previously revealed scientific discovery. Whichever side of the argument you choose to adopt there is an opposing force that intends to destroy your belief system. Descendants of a Nazi Elite who have remained hidden while still engaged in their evil pursuits set out to destroy the promised new beginning.

Nazi scientists embark on a project to create a super-race. What they actually create is an abomination of the human form – a being inherently evil. It's Creator, Erica Wiligut, is the nemesis of all that is good - to some she will be seen as the Anti-Christ.

Events culminate in the ultimate battle between good and evil – played out at one of mankind's most sacred religious locations – and a revelation for all humanity.

Be warned: All is not what it seems.

Could the Second Coming of Jesus Christ be revealed in ancient code? Or is the Omega Man a new and evolved type of human.

FIVE STAR REVIEWS (Reader reviews from Amazon)

MINDBLOWING:- I couldn't put it down! Can't wait for future books. Really makes you want to find out what's real, theory, or fiction. Very well written. No filler stories or background fluff. Don't mind missing a night of sleep for a book like this!

A CRACKING GOOD READ:- Loved this book, really original plot and I shall certainly be first in line for the second book by this author.


The Omega Paradox is available from Amazon (and is an interesting read)

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Ysgaddril by Will Macmillan

Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Will Macmillan won third prize in October's short fiction contest with his story 'Ysaddril', you can read the story in full below. November's contest closes tomorrow, so if you'd like to enter you best get to the competition page quickly and submit your story:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/november-short-fiction-contest.html

I've created a Facebook group for lovers of short and flash fiction, if you're a reader then you can discover some great stories there. And for writers it's a a good place to show off your work.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/shortfictionreadersandwriters/

Now let's enjoy Will's story...

Ysgaddril by Will Macmillan

www.willmacmillanjones.com

I don’t know about you, but I love trees.  I spend as much time as I can walking in the woods and talking to the trees.  They are alive you know, and everything that lives talks and communicates to its fellows in some way.  Look at the oak trees.  Did you know that you even get male and female varieties?  So they love and mate as we do: only it all takes place over a much longer life cycle than ours, obviously.  They talk, they must talk, and I try to hear them and understand their romance.

If you’ve any spark of romance in you, then like me you probably get drawn to the lone tree.  Don’t you love the image of the single tree on the skyline of a ridge?  Especially when the rosy fingers of a summer dawn glow on the leaves, or the cold, sweet light of the moon shines stark through the bare branches as the autumn wind howls.  At times like that the lonely tree still talks, but to whom?

Well, to me for one.  Every year at this time there’s one special tree on a skyline for me.  It isn’t far from where I pass the days, and one night in the year I go and sit there beneath the bare spreading branches and talk to the tree of the season fled, the approaching winter and the spring beyond.  Does it hear me?  I’d like to think so, for I always rise from the grassy seat feeling I have been refreshed and gifted with enough energy to last me the coming year.  One reason I think of it as my tree of life.

Sometimes as I walk away down the ridge with the grey dawn rising at my back, I look back and outlined with the branches I can see my body hanging from the tree, just as I left it there all those years ago.

Drabble Classics - The Divine Comedy



Here is the second drabble in my new Drabble Classics series, in this series of drabbles (100 word stories) I recreate classic books in drabble form. Thanks as always goes to Rosen for posting my drabbles in her Indie Book Bargains newsletter (you can check out her site here http://www.indie-book-bargains.co.uk/).

Regular readers may have noticed that I have an interest in theological thought and metaphysics, I'm not a religious person, but I do find the topic fascinating. The Divine Comedy was written by Danta Alighieri in the early 14th century, it tells of his journey through Hell, through Purgatory and then onto Heaven.

If you haven't read it then I heartily recommend that you do, but in the meantime why not enjoy my homage to this great work below. If you missed the first in the series based on John Milton's 'Paradise Lost' you can read it here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/drabble-classics.html

The Divine Comedy

On Good Friday ‘s eve I am assailed by three beasts in a wood black with sin, ahead I see a mountain, haloed with promised salvation. Through inferno’s circles Virgil’s wisdom leads me through punishments artfully poetic.

Up the mountain created by Satan’s fall we climb. On this holy day of Christ’s resurrection we pass through the terraces, one for each of the sins most deadly.

Finally into paradise I rise and greeted by Beatrice, my guide through the spheres of the cosmos. In the final sphere I understand God’s love, a love so complete that it moves the stars.

My Books on Goodreads