Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Live. Love. Write.

Instead of the usual Wednesday speculative fiction writer post, I have a message I want to share this week: 
Live. Love. Write.

Live your life for today. Don't wait for tomorrow. Don't make excuses. Don't blame others. Stop being afraid to take chances or try new things.

Love your family. Love your friends. Give back as much as you receive. Don't ask what they can do for me - ask what you can do for them.

Write. Every. Day. No excuses. What are you waiting for?  What's the worst that can happen?

Do you have a message you'd like to share?

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Simon Kewin - Speculative Fiction Writer

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming back science fiction and fantasy writer, Simon Kewin. Over the last seven days he's been entertaining us all with his Engn Launch Tour. Today he's going to tell us where the idea for his second novel Engn, published by December House, came from.

Over to you, Simon.

Engn emerged from two completely unrelated story ideas that were bouncing around in my head. One had two childhood friends making a youthful pact to change the world and right all its perceived wrongs. One friend ends up in a position of authority while the other is an outsider. The question of the story was whether each has remained true to their youthful ideals or whether they've acquired the (so-called) wisdom of maturity. The other story was completely unrelated. It was more of a setting, really - aincomprehensible, steam-powered machine the size of a city that people live in without knowing why, and which is so big they don't question. It was an idea that intrigueme. I think we all do that to some extent in order to survive - accept the really big things as given and puzzle over the small stuff. And the idea of this great machine seemed like an interesting metaphor to play with - although different readers will have different ideas as to what (if anything) it means.

"The track ran off in an unbroken line, from Finn’s feet away to the horizon. He could see grey clouds massing over there, like the bulk and peaks of another mountain range. At one point the clouds formed a sharp funnel down to the ground, as if they were being sucked out of the sky. He had never seen anything like it. He wiped his eyes and looked again. Now he could make out buildings beneath the funnel, a great clutter of misshapen blocks, with chimneys of different heights reaching up. A plume of grey smoke poured from the tallest chimney, widening into the delta that merged with the clouds. The whole sky was being made there; a sky of smoke from the chimneys of Engn ... Here and there, bars of sun through the clouds picked out the distant scene with white spotlights, glistening off metal towers and wheels nearly as high as the chimneys. It stretched all across the horizon: an entire, artificial mountain-range of machinery."

So, I suddenly thought it would be interesting to smash these two ideas together and create a novel out of them. The combination gave me room to play. Two childhood friends are taken to the vast machine. They have promised to try to destroy it, but what happens when they get there? Do they remain true to themselves or do they change? Do they even survive? Do they remain loyal or do they betray each other?

That was where I started, although my main concern as I was writing was to come up with an exciting adventure story. A fun read. It seemed to me the setting of Engn would give me plenty of scope for dangers and difficulties for my poor hero, Finn, to face. Lots of dangerous machinery for him to fall off and get lost within. The novel has evolved considerably from that original vision, but its core remains the same. Can Finn survive his strange and terrible struggles inside the great machine? Can he do what he set out to do or does Engn end up defeating him?

It was all a lot of fun to write. I hope others have as much fun reading it.


Finn's childhood in the valley is idyllic, but across the plains lies a threat. Engn is an ever-growing steampowered fortress, that needs a never-ending supply of workers. Generation after generation have been taken away, escorted into its depths by the mysterious and terrifying Ironclads, never to return.

The Masters of Engn first take Finn's sister, then his best friend, Connor. He thinks he, at least, is safe - until the day the ironclads come to haul him way.

Yet all is not lost, Finn has a plan. In the peace of the valley he and Connor made a pact. A promise to join the mythical Wreckers and end Engn's tyranny.

But now on his own, lost and thwarted in the vastness of Engn, Finn begins to have doubts. Is Connor really working to destroy Engn?

Or has he become part of the machine?

Book Links

Price: £4.99 / $6.99

About Simon Kewin

Simon was born and raised on the misty Isle of Man, but now lives and works deep in rural England. He divides his time between writing SF/fantasy fiction and computer software. He has had around fifty short stories published in a variety of magazines and anthologies, along with a similar number of poems.

He has a degree in English Literature from the Open University.

He is currently learning to play the electric guitar. It's not going that well, frankly.

He lives with Alison, their two daughters Eleanor and Rose, and a black cat called Morgan to which he is allergic.

Simon's Twitter: @SimonKewin

About December House

At December House we're a different kind of publisher. We don't publish print books, we only publish to e-book distribution platforms (Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Nook, Smashwords, Tomely and Google Play), but we're not self publishing and we're definitely not a vanity press. We only publish great writing from great authors. If we think a writer's work has promise then we'll work with them to deliver on that promise, just like a traditional publisher. Then we take over everything, from writing a blurb to designing a cover and deciding on a price, through to marketing the book pre and post publication. We believe it's our job to sell a book, and a writer's job to write it.

For more details see

Thank you, Simon. I love Engn's premise, and how two totally different ideas merged to become one novel. I have it on my TBR pile!

I will be back on Monday with a mega catch-up post. Have a great rest of the week.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Competition Winners

A massive thank you to everyone who helped with the launch of Taking Time and Other Science Fiction Stories. Due to personal reasons, I haven't been able to visit all the wonderful people who gave it a shout-out, but I will be visiting over the next few days.

In the meantime, here are the winners of my competition:

Jessica Haight – $25.00 Amazon voucher
Martin T. Ingham – $25.00 Amazon voucher
Melissa Sugar-Gold – your name as a character in an upcoming novella

Congratulations. I will be in touch with you all shortly.

I'll be back on Wednesday, when this week's Speculative Fiction Writer is prolific science fiction and fantasy writer, Simon Kewin. Until then, happy writing.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Jeff Beesler's Optical Osmosis Tour

I have the awesomely talented Jeff Beesler making the final stop of his Optical Osmosis Tour with me today. Can it get any better? Over to you, Jeff.

Q:  Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, and what do you do when you're not writing? 

I live and work near Seattle, WA, in the USA.

 Q:  On your blog you say 'words leak out of my brain through my fingertips, trailing across the page in either ink or type form.' Which do you prefer and why - writing by hand or typing? 

Both have their merits. I can get in a quick couple of pages easily handwritten, but I think I prefer the fast-paced world of typing more.

Q:  The cover for Optical Osmosis is stunning. Who designed it and how much of a creative input did you have? 

Author and cover illustrator Sam Hunt did that for me. I told him about my protagonist Greg, and within six hours the cover was ready!

Q: Where did the idea for Optical Osmosis come from? 

It started off as a super hero story but quickly changed into something else.

Q:  Would you like to share an excerpt with us?

Greg jumped back a bit, not noticing his elbow knocking the telescope out of its position and into a new one.
“Guess I just couldn’t help myself,” said Greg, facing away from the telescope.
“I don’t blame you. There’s so much about the universe we don’t understand. It’s perfectly natural to be curious about it, as well as ourselves. That’s why I use these.”
Thomas nodded toward the binder in his hand, almost filled to capacity with the notes and charts he’d made in his amateurish studies.
“Guess I have a lot to learn, huh?” said Greg.
“Don’t we all?”
Greg reflected on that for a moment as he turned his gaze back toward the eyepiece. He let himself get all caught up in the notion of having so much to learn still. His mind unfocused on what he was doing, he caught a glimpse of something bright that, at first, he thought to be the same star in the east. The flare that struck his retina seared it just as Thomas had promised. A second later, Greg yowled, reeling away from the instrument.
“My eye!” he said, throwing a hand over the damaged organ. A strange spectrum of green flashed inside his eyelid, almost tingly in nature, like what happened every time he rubbed his eyes.
He heard footsteps crunching gravel from somewhere behind him, growing closer in distance. Thomas shouted words that went ignored while Greg knelt down on the ground, rocking himself back and forth. How could he have been so stupid?
The pain only lasted a fraction of a minute. Greg kept both eyes clenched shut, even though only the one, his right, had suffered damage. Every optic nerve in the afflicted region danced with the excess energy input, even while the power diminished to certain numbness. A firm clasp on his shoulder, coupled with the scent of Thomas’s deodorant failing in the early evening heat, indicated precisely where Greg’s camping partner presently stood.
“You didn’t look directly at the sun through the telescope, did you?” asked Thomas.
“I thought the clouds still covered the sun,” Greg replied with a wince. “I could’ve sworn the telescope still pointed east.”
“It’s okay. We should just get you to the hospital and have you checked out.” The sigh released from Thomas’s lungs sounded forgiving in nature, as though the guy felt Greg’s remorse over this screw-up was genuine.
Greg nodded, opening his eyes with great reluctance. Despite just the one eye suffering from the solar energy injected into his retina by telescopic means, both of his optical organs struggled to compensate for the blurriness now dominating his vision.
Damn that telescope, thought Greg. This never would’ve happened if I’d made plans with Ashley like I was supposed to.
He glanced up to find Thomas staring back at him. Again a prickly sensation intensified from somewhere within his eyeballs. His gaze locked onto Thomas’s. When he tried to pull back, it felt as though he couldn’t do anything but look Thomas directly in the eye.
Then another surge of that greenish energy swelled, making it impossible for Greg to see anything beyond Thomas at all. The force that made Greg unable to stop staring at his friend also started to fill his body with an unusual rush of heat.

Q: This is the last day of your blog tour. Sob. What are your plans post-blog tour?

I’m going to be working on getting more books out there. My backlog of books needing revision is in the double digits!

Q:  Now for the compulsory random question: if you had the same ability as Tempe in Optical Osmosis, whose mind would you absorb and why? 

I’m not sure I’d like to have that ability, but if I wound up having to be stuck with someone else in my head, I’d have to say my dentist. He’s such a mellow person.

Book links


About the Author

Thank you, Jeff. You already know I'm a huge fan! I also think Optical Osmosis has one of the most stunning covers I've ever seen. 

That's it for this week. Happy writing and reading.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Tara Tyler - Speculative Fiction Writer

I'm super-excited to have Pop Travel author, Tara Tyler, popping over to visit today. She was brave enough to be interviewed. Evil chuckle.

Thanks for having me, Ellie! I've always loved your blog! (And the fact you love William Shatner. May you meet him some day.)*

Q:  Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, and what do you do when you're not writing short stories or novels?

I live in Ohio. And when I'm not writing, I'm usually carting kids around to sports or other activities. I have three very active boys!

Q:  On your blog you say you had no idea you wanted to write and rebelled against your English teachers. When did you first start writing and why?

As a teen, I had more important things to do than read all those stuffy books – which I adore now! I got math without any trouble, everything made sense and had only one right answer. And no English teachers gave me encouragement. UNTIL! I took a class at  PB&J College (Palm Beach Junior College) ha! I took it so I wouldn't have to waste a whole semester in real college on English Comp! But the teacher was very impressed with my writing skills and told me. That was my first spark. My first writing attempt was a story about all my crazy friends and the outrageous nights we had going out in Atlanta combined into one wild bachelorette party – lots of drama and laughs.

Q:  Do you have a favourite writing quote that inspires you and, if so, what is it?

Mark Twain is my favourite writer to quote. Here's a gem: "We write frankly and fearlessly but then we 'modify' before we print."

Q: Where did the idea for Pop Travel come from?

Airports & Security! I hate the nasty "x-ray glasses" machines! I wanted to come up with a way to avoid flying, so I researched my own method of teleportation. And originally, I was going to suggest my idea to the great Michael Crichton, but he died before I could!!! I was heartbroken. So, I wrote it myself.

Q:  The cover for Pop Travel is stunning. How much of a creative input did you have and who designed it?

Thank you! I made a couple of covers using MS Powerpoint and passed them on. Then the artist, Ricky Gunawan, expanded on those ideas and came up with my fantastic cover. He's amazing!

Q:  Would you like to share an excerpt with us?

Of course! In this scene cynical, pop-phobic Cooper, the MC, is getting ready to take his first pop.

When he reached the counter, the travelport agent scanned his thumbprint, bringing up his photo and ticket information. He barely listened to the scarily pretty android as it rattled through the pre-travel procedures and noted his departure gate, B15. Why do they have to be so damn polite?
Cooper tuned back in at the mention of the pre-medical exam. He had forgotten about that and now had something else to worry about. How had this concept caught on so easily? No one likes going to the doctor.
Catching him in another worried daze, the unflappable robot repeated her last statement.
"Thank you, Mr. Cooper. Please avail yourself of our amenities and relax in the waiting area until your gate is announced."
Cooper blinked, then sneered at her.
She flashed her dimwitted courtesy smile. The heartless creature had no clue as to what fate had in store for some unlucky travelers. He scooted off, afraid she might say it again, like an auto-flushing toilet, shooing someone away to make room for the next customer.

Q:  Now for the compulsory random question: if you could pop anywhere in time and space, where would you go?

I've always wanted to go to Australia and popping would save tons of time! I'd also love to pop all over to meet my blog friends in person!

Thanks, again, Ellie for having me! This is all so exciting!

Pop Travel Information:

Mini Blurb

In a futuristic cat-and-mouse game, hard-boiled detective J.L. Cooper is chased across the world using Pop Travel teleportation, which has a deadly flaw he is determined to expose.

Back Cover

In 2080, technology has gone too far for J. L. Cooper. He is happily hidden in his simple, secluded life as a private detective in a small town, far from any pop travel laser teleportation stations. Until he takes on a client who insists pop travel made his fiancé disappear.

When Cooper investigates, he finds evidence of pop travel's deadly flaw, sparking a series of murders, attempts on his life, and threats to his brother. He’d like to pass off the evidence but knows he’s being watched and can’t trust anyone. And who would believe him?

The only way he can save his brother is to fool his observers while looking for a way to expose the problem. He decides to go to the source and confront the Creator of pop travel. On his way, Cooper meets Southern siren, Geri Harper (an undercover FBI agent) who tags along despite his protests. When they reach the Creator, he has plans of his own and leads them on a wild detour.

Release Date: July 7, 2013
Publisher: Curiosity Quills


Author Bio:

Tara Tyler started out as a math teacher. After having a hand in everything from waitressing to rocket engineering and living up and down the Eastern US, she finally found some roots, writing and teaching in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband. In addition to her novels, she has published short stories and poetry in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Thriller, and Humor. So many stories to tell!

Thank you, Tara. I think we'd all love to pop everywhere! I loved the excerpt. Congratulations on what is sure to be the first of many stunning and successful novels. 

*I have met William Shatner! At the 2011 London Film and Comic Convention. I count it as one of my top ten wow experiences. As you can imagine, I was a little tongued-tied and in awe.

Don't forget Taking Time was published this week. Read more about it and enter my competition here.

Call back on Friday, when author Jeff Beesler will be making the final stop of his Optical Osmosis tour.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Are You Taking Time? Teaser & Competition

Taking Time and Other Science Fiction Stories is now available to download on Kindle!


Science fiction stories of time and space...

The future of humanity must be decided in Next Phase. Winning the Planetary Lottery is not as lucky as it first seems in Schrodinger's Gamble. An apocalypse and its aftermath threaten to tear one couple apart in Daiker's Children. In Life As I Know It a reclusive man finds both his heart and home invaded during an alien harvest. In Taking Time a demon seeking shelter on a distant planet finds himself facing a very different kind of demon, after answering a frontier settlement's plea for help.

Stories range from flash fiction to novelette in length.


The following excerpt is from the final story, Taking Time.

A tall, lithe looking woman of a similar age to Ing approached me. Her short-cropped hair was the colour of darkness, and there was a confidence to the way she swaggered up to me. She was the person in charge.
She stopped only a couple of inches from my face, almost breathing down my throat. I prayed she didn’t notice my lack of breath – the undead had no need for air in their lungs.
“You don’t look well, bounty hunter,” she said.
As I stood taller, so that my already imposing six-foot frame loomed over the human female, I knew I’d have to talk her around. “I’ve not been on solid land for a few months. I’ve been running down illegal passage ships and cargo. Illegal cargo.”
Her eyes flashed bright with something. I wasn’t sure what it meant, but the word illegal had excited her.
She held out a hand for me to shake. “The name’s McCaffrey. Formerly of any planet left to colonise.”
I took her hand and shook it, then re-introduced myself. “Victory Dead. Formerly of Earth.”
McCaffrey dismissed everyone but the scare-faced Ing, and they took me into a bar like all the others I’d passed through since travelling the frontier – of a cheap and fast assembly metal-frame construction. It contained only the most basic of furnishings. There were more patrons than I could count, and they went silent when we entered.
When I reached the bar, a stone-faced human male behind the counter slid a bottle towards me. I wasn’t sure what it contained but accepted it anyway – to refuse would have been rude and invited trouble. “Compliments of Daring,” he said as I placed my supplies on the floor beside me.
 “Thanks,” I replied before pretending to sniff the contents of the bottle. As a vampire, I could only smell blood.
The bartender turned his attention to McCaffrey and scar-face. “Evening, Captain. Thought I told you to keep Ing away.”
Ing scowled and stepped forward, his hands balled into fists. McCaffrey placed an arm across his chest.
“You know it’s not Captain anymore. I haven’t been a captain since I crash-landed here three years ago. And Ing won’t be causing you any trouble while I’m here. You have my word.”
The owner grunted something and then moved off to serve another customer.
I wasn’t sure how long a Revelation year lasted, so when McCaffrey spoke of crash-landing three years ago she could have been talking any number of Earth years or months.
“Well it’s about time,” said a voice behind me, interrupting my thoughts.
I turned and my gaze fell upon a grey-haired human male of indeterminable age. The sheriff’s badge fastened to a Stetson was clear. 

Available to buy from:

Book links:


Win one of two $25.00 (£15) Amazon gift cards and a character named after you in an upcoming dark fiction novella.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to visit Taking Time's Facebook page for more teasers and news.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Gary Val Tenuta - Speculative Fiction Writer

If you're looking for this month's Indie Life post, please click here.

I'm thrilled to introduce this week's Speculative Fiction Writer, Gary Val Tenuta. Today he's going to answer that frequently-asked question, where do you get your ideas from?

How An Obscure 60-Year-Old Mystery Became a Modern-Day Supernatural Crime Chiller

Ever read a novel and wonder how the heck the author came up with the idea for the story? I do that quite often even though, as an author, I should know a story idea can come from just about anywhere and often at the least expected moment. For example, here’s how I came to write my latest novel, Ash: Return Of The Beast.

I was browsing through a second-hand bookstore one day and came across a biography of the notorious British occultist, Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), the man the British press once labeled as “The Wickedest Man In The World”. Having had a long time interest in all facets of the supernatural, paranormal, and generally anything that resonates with those topics, I was familiar with who Crowley was. I knew he identified with the number 666 and often referred to himself as “The Beast”. But I’d never read a full biography about him. I paged through the book and, toward the end, my speed-reading eyes almost passed over a remarkable little factoid that I’d never heard about before. I did a double-take to see if it said what I thought it said. It did.

According to the biography, Crowley’s body was cremated upon his death. Curiously, however, the urn containing his ashes mysteriously disappeared. Its disappearance has remained a mystery to this day. I thought, wow, if that isn’t a great set-up for a supernatural tale, I don’t know what is.

This idea wouldn’t leave me alone. I mulled it over in my head for days, maybe weeks, trying to come up with a good story based around this intriguing little bit of Crowley trivia. Eventually, it came to me and I couldn’t wait to get started. Three years in the works, it finally emerged as Ash: Return Of The Beast, a supernatural serial killer chiller steeped in the occult and drenched in esoteric lore. I knew I had something here, something even better than I imagined it would be.

So, is it a horror story? Well, yes, but not the gory, slasher type of horror. It's more the quiet, subtle sort of horror that creeps up on you, gaining momentum, pushing you further and further into the darkness until you have nowhere to run. As one reviewer put it:

“I was reminded of Dennis Lehane. Very different from other horror fiction stories... even gave the whole Necronomicon tale a new spin." (Cyma R. Kahn, reviewer)

As many novelists will tell you, sometimes the author thinks he knows how the story will end. But, as the characters begin to take on a life of their own, the story can evolve in directions the author never anticipated and the ending can turn out to be something quite different from what was originally planned. Such was the case with Ash. Another reviewer said:

"An ending you will never see coming. Highly recommended." (Lila L. Pinord, author of Skye Dancer and Min’s Monster)

Believe me, as the author, no one was more surprised by the ending than me.

The story begins with the death of Crowley in 1947 and provides a surprising answer to the disappearance of the urn. Then the timeline shifts to the 1990s and the emergence of a death-metal rocker, with the unlikely name of Rodney Duckworth, whose path to fame and fortune is curiously linked to the mystery of the missing urn.

Finally the story shifts to the present day where Brian Kane, a gruff and gritty street-worn Seattle Police Detective, reluctantly teams up with the mysterious Rowena Ravenwood, an attractive and rather unconventional female FBI agent assigned to a most unusual investigative unit. Their task is to figure out why good, healthy, God-fearing preachers in their fair city are suddenly dropping dead... one at a time... nine days apart.

As the intense and baffling investigation continues, Ravenwood cannot help but suspect Detective Kane is keeping something from her. What is the disturbing secret that he’s holding so close to his chest?
The investigation catapults Kane and Ravenwood headlong into life-threatening situations as they feel their way through the strange, dark labyrinth of the world of the occult and find themselves battling for their lives against the powerful forces of ritual magick.

A bloody carnage of an unimaginable horror is about to be unleashed upon the world. The survival of the entire human race hangs in the balance and the clues to help solve the case are in desperately short supply. Worse yet, so is the amount of time left to stop the mysterious killer's reign of terror before all Hell breaks loose. And – according to Special Agent Ravenwood – that’s not just a figure of speech.

Gary Val Tenuta is an author and book cover designer with a degree in Social Psychology. His professional writing career began as a contributing writer for Fate Magazine in the 1990s. One of his feature articles about the mystery of the alleged secret U.S. military UFO-research group known as Majestic-12 resulted in requests to appear on radio programs across the U.S. and Canada. His debut novel, The Ezekiel Code (1997), became an best-seller for over 57 weeks. His latest novel, a supernatural crime chiller called Ash: Return Of The Beast (Kindle & paperback) is receiving rave reviews and has been compared to the likes of Straub, Koontz,  Stephen King, Dan Brown and Dennis Lehane. He is currently working on a series of short stories for his series called Twisted Tales From The Files Of The Second Chance Limousine Service. Three of those stories ("A Bite Out Of Time", "1st Avenue Annie", and "Atonement") are currently available in Kindle format from Gary lives with his big black cat, Bear, in a cozy condo in the Pacific.

Thank you for sharing the inspiration behind your novel, Gary. As a writer and avid reader, I'm always fascinated by where a story idea comes from.

That's it for this week. I'll be back on Monday when Taking Time hits the Kindle bookstore. I can't wait to share my stories with you all.

Indie Life: Don't Go It Alone

It's time for this month's Indie Life post, a monthly feature run by the awesome writers over at the Indelibles blog. Every second Wednesday of the month those taking part will post something related to indie life, such the highs, lows, triumphs, struggles, and milestones of going it alone in the publishing world.

Today I'm talking about how no writer should go it alone, but first I'll start with a Stephen King quote that has always inspired me:

"Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open."

While King is referring to rewriting with the reader in mind, I also like to apply his quote to the writing life. When we write the first few drafts we are alone. Nobody sits beside us, unless we co-write with another author. The creative process of putting words to paper is something only we can do. 

I love being lost in an imaginary world, directing my characters (when they let me). What I love more is the stages that follow, the re-drafting and editing. It's during those stages that I not only think of the reader as King recommends, but also seek the advice of both my writing friends and editor. I never go through those later stages alone.

Some writers have critique partners or a trusted friend who will give constructive feedback. Some rely on an editor. But putting the creative and technical advice aside, there is also another important aspect to leaving the door open when we rewrite - an invaluable source of support and motivation. 

How many of you have come close to giving up your writing dreams and were persuaded otherwise by your family and friends? How many thought the road to success was impossible until your fellow writers kicked you up the backside? If there's one thing I've learnt in the last three years, it's that nowhere is there more generosity and support than in the writing world. I've been truly humbled by the encouragement I've received, and I hope I'm also doing my part to help others. So my advice to all writers, new or old, is don't go it alone.

I'll end this month's Indie Life post with a rather fitting Stephen King quote:

"Alone. Yes, that's the key word, the most awful word in the English tongue. Murder doesn't hold a candle to it and hell is only a poor synonym."

That's it for this week. Don't forget Taking Time and Other Science Fiction Stories is published next Monday!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Taking Time Excerpt, Tara Tyler's Pop Travel, & CassaStorm Trailer

It's only seven days until my second short story collection comes out. I'm starting to get that nervous but excited feeling whenever a book-baby is released into the world. Except for any last minute formatting changes, Taking Time and Other Science Fiction Stories is ready.

Today I thought I'd give you a sneak peek by sharing an excerpt from Daiker's Children, a post-apocalyptic tale with a science fiction twist.

After I exited The Facility, rejecting the offer of a replicated hometown and safety, I spent three days clawing my way around or over the wreckage of cars, fallen buildings, and decaying bodies. It was exhausting. I made slow progress along the road that once fed the city with cars, like blood trickling through clogged arteries instead of the constant thrum of fast moving vehicles. The smell of death was overpowering, but hour-by-hour the aliens cleared more and more bodies, debris, and dust from the air. Even when I tried to sleep, they continued – their strange machines hovering above the ground vaporising everything dead, damaged, or toxic in their path. By the third day, the road was nearly cleared, and I reached the centre of Exeter.
I’d not seen one living soul and began to believe I was utterly on my own. Had no one else survived and rejected the aliens’ help? I buried the thought under a tonne of other unanswered questions.
I planned to aim for my brother’s house. After all, Trevor and I had been heading there before the blasts. It was a calculated risk – if Trevor was alive and not in The Facility, he could have headed for home. Home was a three-hour journey, and that was by car. My brother’s house was closer. So I had to believe he’d know I’d decide to reach the nearest place I knew first. I didn’t dare consider the possibility he was inside a hometown, perhaps living with my facsimile. I struck that thought from consciousness the moment it entered. I refused to acknowledge it.
To gain a vantage point of eastern Exeter, I scaled several floors of an office building that miraculously still stood. I soon found there was no point heading for my brother’s. His suburb was gone. Obliterated. Nothing remained but empty scorched land. An icy chill ran through my veins as I looked out at the once great city of Exeter. I stifled a sob. If my brother had been home when the blasts hit – and why would he leave on the morning he awaited my arrival? – he was dead.
I ran to the other side of the building and gazed westward. Some of the city’s business district still stood, but alien machines were stripping it bare as I watched. Everything was being removed. Not cleaned or sprayed or anything I’d expect to see. Was this their idea of decontamination and stabilisation? Did everything manmade have to go? What would be left for those of us left behind? Those who chose to remain?
Then I saw the children. A group huddled together at the edge of a department store entrance – some no more than a few years old. I counted seven altogether but reasoned there could be more. They looked terrified. I didn’t understand why they were at the store alone or why the aliens hadn’t rescued them, but my mission changed that second. Trevor would have to wait.

I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. Find out more at Goodreads or Facebook.

Yesterday saw the long-awaited publication of Tara Tyler's Pop Travel. Congratulations, Tara!


Mini Blurb

Pop Travel is sci fi noir, a cat and mouse game where the hard-boiled detective is chased across the world, “popping” with teleportation, which has a deadly flaw he is determined to expose.

Back Cover

Private Investigator J. L. Cooper always knew pop travel laser teleportation was too good to be true. Finding video proof of a disintegrating traveler is the stomach turning “I told you so.”

Cooper can’t broadcast the video on the nosy, government monitored Qnet, so he digs around, revealing more suspicious traveler disappearances, the death of his client, and threats to his political little brother, who is in jeopardy of turning to dust anyway for disregarding Cooper’s warnings not to pop. Cooper has to do everything himself. 

To stop the disappearances and save his brother he must shut down the ruthless mega corp Pop Travel International (PTI). And that means convincing Hasan Rakhi, the celebrity Creator of pop travel, to publicly admit the deadly flaw. No problem. Under constant surveillance, Cooper will have to be unpredictable, facing his fear of popping to crash a party at Hasan’s well-fortified plantation compound. Yes, the laser fences are real. As long as he survives his next pop, Cooper won’t let anything distract him from getting the job done. Not the android security guards, who aren’t as bright as they look, or even Southern Comfort in a purple dress, Geri Harper (an undercover Agent). 
Nothing Coop can’t handle.

Tara will be joining me as my July 17th Speculative Fiction Writer guest. Don't forget to 'Pop' by!

Finally, Alex J. Cavanaugh revealed the trailer for a book I'm desperate to get my hands on, CassaStorm (I'll have to be patience and wait for the official release date). Here's the stunning trailer:

That's it for today. Don't forget to call back on Wednesday, when Gary Val Tenuta will be this week's Speculative Fiction Writer and I'll be discussing how no author can go it alone for this month's Indie Life post. 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Nikki Spencer - Speculative Fiction Writer

Today I have the pleasure of introducing a new writing friend, Nikki Spencer. She was gracious enough to be interviewed and, if you like fiction with a bite, you're in for a treat. Over to you, Nikki.

Q:  Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, and what do you do when you're not writing?

First of all, I want to say thanks, Ellie! It’s a pleasure to be interviewed on your blog. At the present time I live in Southern California with the hubs and three rambunctious kiddos, one with Down syndrome. When I’m not writing, I devote a ton of time to my family.

In my previous life, I was a waitress, dental assistant, telemarketer, and dental lab technician. Currently I am web marketer/social media manager, and of course, a writer!

Q:  On your blog you describe yourself as a writer of “Dark fiction and thrilling tales of fantasy, horror, and sci-fi.” What would you say your readers can expect from your books?

My stories generally have many elements. It’s not straight up horror, although it seems like most stories I write have a fairly large element of horror. I like to write meaningful stories that resonate with the reader and not just scare the pants off them. I love to make people feel things when they read my writing, whether it be fear, suspense, love, tension, relief, anger, betrayal, hope, curiosity, sadness, or joy. I hope for genuine compassion or connection with the characters because I feel that’s what my readers want. They want to be entertained. They want to have a great time reading my books, and I want to deliver that feeling to them.

Perhaps the label “dark fiction” might be a tad bit misleading, but the hubs said I better put that in there to warn people…sometimes my stories can bite!

Q:  You have a couple of short stories currently out, and a novel coming out next year. Can you tell us a little about that?

I have two shorts out right now, Eye For An Eye and Etherland.

Etherland is the story of a boy who lives in the walls of his old home. There is a terrible being called the Etherman that comes and kills the families that live there, but because the boy is a ghost, he can do nothing about it except watch the brutality, over and over. He tries in vain to warn the living, but they never listen. One day, a new family with a young daughter moves in and she, more than anyone before, can hear him. They form a bond, but she doesn’t believe that the Etherman will come for them. He tries to warn her, to make her and her family leave the house before it’s too late.

My WIP is a novel tentatively titled Pinned. It’s about a woman who becomes infected by a rare caterpillar that causes a disease that compels her to eat live people. She knows it’s wrong and fights against her desires while attempting to find a cure, all the while trying to solve who is murdering children around her. Naturally, she is the first suspect.

Besides infecting her with the compulsion for live flesh, she is gifted with the ability to sense what other infected people need to return to optimal health. She knows what plants/insects can cure folks, but she wants to eat them, too.

Pinned is expected to be released middle of next year. If you want to be notified when it’s out, you can sign up for the mailing list on my website and get a free ebook, too, called Blood and Blue Bottle.

Q:  Would you like to share an excerpt of Etherland with us?

Today feels wrong to me. Today the air prickles, and I feel shards of electricity sparking here and there. The mice and insects that live with me have all burrowed away. I know why.

He’s coming.

At first I feel a rumbling underneath, deep in the ground. I don’t think the family feels it yet. They will soon. I go to the attic and ball up. I wish I could cry, but nothing comes out. I don’t want to see what I know will happen. I don’t want to see my friend’s pain and then, blankness as her light is extinguished.

I rock, my arms around my knees. My throat opens up and my grief-filled haunting scream rips through the air. I hear a crash below and Mom giving a little yip. Finally, now she hears me. If only it wasn’t too late.

I see a flash as the air dries out and static electricity sparks. He’s very close now. I hear that low, oily laugh, the one that makes me turn cold and feel covered in slime. My heart breaks at the loss of my friend, for I know I will lose her. How can I just leave her to her death like this? I can’t leave her alone with…him.

I decide then and there to be with her till the end, no matter how much it hurts.

Available at Amazon and

Q:  Now for the compulsory random question: if you could live in any fictional setting, where would it be and why?

I honestly don’t think my perfect fictional setting has been written about yet. It would definitely have to be a place where I have super powers, namely the ability to not sleep. Ever. Barring that, it would be a trip to have an adventure in the Hunger Games arena.

About Author Nikki Spencer: 

Nikki Spencer has been reading and writing under the bedcovers since she was four. A fascination with serial killers, strange behavior, and all things creepy flavors her writing with delicious twists and unnerving happenings.

In her first life, she made dentures for a living. Currently she is a full-time wife and mom, part-time web marketer, and full-time writer. Somehow it all adds up.

Loves: steak, fried vegetables, gruyere cheese, and being brave, passionate, and strong. Hates: sushi, the food police, shopping, bad singers, and sticky floors. Being boring is not an option.

Find Nikki Spencer here: Website, Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Amazon Author Page, Goodreads Author Page.


Thank you, Nikki. I think you and I were twins separated at birth. We share so many interests, and I used to write under the bed covers!

That is all for this week. I'll be back on Monday, when I'll be starting the seven-day countdown to the release of Taking Time. “Meeeep!” as Beaker would say.