Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Enter If You Dare

Today on Drabble Wednesday, I take you past barriers, through gates, and moral boundaries...






Execution of Duty

What if you were trained from birth to do one thing? One immoral act?
You’d be me.
I’ve been trained to kill someone. One particular man. And now I sit in a carriage on the way to fulfill my duty. I thought I’d be nervous, assumed I’d have reservations about committing the deed.
I don’t.
I watch the scenery pass by until we finally stop at the city gates, hailed by the sentries. My driver informs the guards we are expected.
The great gates swing open, followed by a shout, “Welcome and enter. The king awaits his bride.”
I smile.

~*~



Decision

She summoned the creature on the tangential edge of the forest, under the fading amber reflection of the day. Yesterday her small happiness vanished, swallowed by circumstance and horror, yet here she stood hesitant to act. To speak.
The voice asked again, “What would you give for vengeance?”
She stared into the raven rift, a tear slashed through light and air, and this time she answered, “Everything. My life, my soul, whatever the price.  I want this world destroyed!”
“So be it. Step through the portal, and you will set me free.”
She nodded and walked into darkness, releasing annihilation.

~*~




What Lingers

High on the hilltop, crumbled walls and broken stone remained, and the archway that once housed magnificent ironwork gates. The closing glint of sunlight fell on the ruined fortress and the unbounded wind converged with the lengthening shadows.
They await what is coming. What always comes at twilight.
Rising from the netherworld viscera of yesteryear, and the howl of bloody death, they surge into the mortal world. The great and fearsome army of the fortress. A phantom cavalry charging down the hillside, dead and screaming, all ephemera weapons and snorting horses. Their last battle, their only loss, forever their fate.





© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved




Friday, 26 August 2016

Interview With Author Simon Williams

Today I bring you another interview, this time with dark fantasy author, Simon Williams. Enjoy!


Interview With Simon Williams



Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I am an author of what most people like to label as dark fantasy although my work also incorporates elements of horror and science fiction. I'm based in the UK.


Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

Salvation's Door is the fifth and final book in the Aona series, and brings down the curtain on a saga which I've been writing most of my adult life (the first book took many years due to considerable re-writing). Salvation's Door is epic in plot but is a chronicle of characters as much as events, focusing on the trials and struggles of a varied cast against the background of an end to days.


How long have you been writing, and how many books have you published to date?

I've been a writer since I was old enough to write (certainly that's when I started making up and writing down stories). Six books in total have been published so far and I have several further projects ongoing.


Who is your intended readership?

I don't focus on particular people to write for when I write- but my readers tend to appreciate gritty, character-driven fantasy and sci-fi without the cliches and tropes that infect the genres in which I write. No one can avoid such things entirely, but I do my best.


What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

This may sound like an odd answer but often it feels as if the inevitable loneliness of this kind of profession (not that I can really call it a profession) is a tough challenge. It also doesn't get easier with age- in fact it gets worse as the years take their toll and you realise you may in the not too distant future have to contend with diminishing physical and mental faculties.


When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

During my childhood to an extent, but more seriously as an adult- I never had much talent for anything else and it was really all I wanted to do. Thinking about it that way, it was inevitable.


Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine?

I have tried to have a routine, but it tends to be quite haphazard. I scribble down ideas, scenarios and conversations, often write the end of a book before completing the bulk of it, and tend to end up looking at it as a vast jigsaw whose pieces I have to slot together (or sometimes discard or replace). I certainly never write in a linear way or meticulously outline a plot before writing the story or building the characters. Often I build the characters and then thread the plot around them. It often feels like chaos but it eventually falls in to place (or if it doesn't, then the project is shelved).


Do you have a favourite author, or writing inspiration?

I have a number of favourite authors rather than just one- where to start?
Alan Garner, Clive Barker, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, George R R Martin, Neil Gaiman, Ian Irvine... 


What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?

The sequel to my YA sci-fi / fantasy novel Summer’s Dark Waters, currently titled The Light From Far Below, will probably be next. This is a challenge of a quite different sort for me- it’s become a pre-apocalyptic tale of urban paranoia which makes uneasy reading even for me, so it needs to be shaped appropriately for its intended readership- those poor folks who will have to contend with what remains of this world in the decades ahead.
I'm also writing a standalone novel which may (or may not) be futuristic / post-industrial in tone, and which probably won't be strictly fantasy or indeed any other genre as such. I'm enjoying this as I haven't written a standalone book in a while.



You can find our more about Simon Williams and his books at these sites:

Twitter: @SWilliamsAuthor



You can find the first book in the Aona series on Amazon:

Oblivion’s Forge (Book I in the Aona series):




Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Urban Shadows

Today on Drabble Wednesday I take you to the darkest corners of the city, where strange and dangerous things lurk...





When the Rain Falls

The misty patter of the rain on the fire escape splashing to the asphalt alley sang a pleasing discord rhythm into the night. Tiny ears twitched from the window sill above the fire escape. It liked the rain. The rain made it strong. It wiggled through a crack in the frame, and dropped near a puddle. A small proboscis extended, drinking the rainwater, the minuscule heartbeat pumping, pumping.
Liquid, liquid, more liquid.
It looked back inside, at the desiccated husk of a human sprawled on the floor.
No, nothing left for me there.
And it wiggled off into the world.

~*~




Under the Moon

He huddled on a backstreet in a ratty old coat encrusted with dark stains and filth. He stared at the surrounding night with bloodshot eyes, compulsively running a hand through his matted head of hair and an unkempt beard.
Above the skyline, shadowed by clouds, a full moon glittered.
Something rumbled in the man’s chest. A moan? A growl? A skittering noise, guttural and deep. His fingers dug into the sidewalk as claws formed and grew from fingernails, scraping gouges in cement. His jaw slid and shifted, his teeth elongating into canine fangs.
And with a howl, the werewolf hunted.

~*~





Echoes in the Park

Inside the shelter of a steel and glass metropolis, a small patch of greenery and woodland nestles into midnight. Brisk wind dances through the park, and far above, unseen stars glimmer in luminescent age and light.
The park is quiet, though it is not empty. From shadow and chimera, grave and mortality they appear, breathed into nocturnal half-life drifting outside the world they once knew. They journey on the translucent mist of the witching hour, fed by the music of sighs and whispered echoes. They are naught but sorrowed ghosts of the unremembered, the abandoned, ghosts that will not die.






© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved





Tuesday, 23 August 2016

#NewRelease: Charm City by Ash Krafton

Today I have for you a delightful treat, with a book spotlight for the new urban fantasy release, Charm City by Ash Krafton, Book 1 of The Demon Whisperer series. Enjoy, my minions!


Charm City banner for Wattpad photo CC banner wattpad_zpstdvjfamy.jpg


There are demons all around us, legions of the dark that break loose from Hell's restraints to prowl the mortal plane. Most people can't see them and will never suffer their torments. They are the lucky ones. Guess that makes Simon Alliant the unluckiest man alive. He's learned that the only luck a man has is the luck he makes for himself. Call him exorcist. Call him master of the dark arts. Call him dime-store magician. Most names don't matter, not when Hell knows yours. Armed with his spells and his amulets and his desperate drive toward redemption, he fights the rising darkness and sends those demons screaming back into Hell, one minion at a time. But not all demons can be exorcised. Some dwell too deep inside a man's bones to be so easily banished. Simon is smart--or, at least, cynical--enough to know which battles are worth fighting. It takes more than a fistful of charms to stay alive in his line of work. And staying alive is the only way to avoid giving the Devil his due...


Welcome to the world of The Demon Whisperer.


It kicks off today with the Kindle release of the first book in the series: CHARM CITY.


 photo Charm City new_zps5lgoxnqg.jpg
The darkness is rising and one man stands against it: the exorcist mage Simon Alliant. But in Baltimore, he finally meets his match...a part-mortal divinity with the power to whisper away demons.
Simon Alliant is an exorcist who battles demons, whether he wants to or not. Sometimes it's not so bad...he gets to play with magic, after all. But for Simon, magic represents a demon of another kind. He's addicted to magic and it takes more than a handful of charms to keep that particular demon at bay. Chiara is part Light, part Dark, and stubbornly mortal. The woman has a way with words: she literally talks demons into abandoning their human hosts. Simon thinks that's not the only trick she has up her sleeve-and that's pretty high praise coming from a mage like him.
As intriguing as that may be, Simon has too many reasons to distrust her...one of them being his more-or-less partner, an angelic Watcher. Amidst all the celestial warnings of the rising dark comes a new prophesy that makes him wonder: is Chiara a threat to him and all of mankind?
Or will she be his salvation?

Join the legions and pick your side: Light or Dark. Just know this...decisions like this are never easy, because there's no black and white when it comes to good and evil.


Grab your lucky charm. You might need it.


Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer who, despite having a Time Turner under her couch and three different sonic screwdrivers in her purse, still encounters difficulty with time management. She's the author of urban fantasy (such as the trilogy The Books of the Demimonde) as well as paranormal romance (WORDS THAT BIND). She also writes for YA and NA audiences under the pen name AJ Krafton (THE HEARTBEAT THIEF, her Victorian dark fantasy inspired by Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”). Currently, she's working on a new urban fantasy series, The Demon Whisperer. The first book, CHARM CITY, is now available on Kindle.




Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Strange Sports

Welcome to Drabble Wednesday, the Olympic Edition! Here you find some odd events indeed... Now on to the gold!




Pointed Competition

It’s been a hard day here in the Archery Competition at the Medieval Olympics.
The favourites, Sir Pellinore and Sir Malcolm failed to make the finals, out in the third cycle.
Now, the leading competitor Sir Archibald steps up for his last round.
He takes his shot... oh my word, I think he’s done it!
What a shot! Three serfs down with one arrow! A new world record!
Wait! One of the peasants is still writhing on the ground! We will have to go the judges for a decision.
Yes, yes! It is official! Sir Archibald wins the gold medal!

~*~




Off To The Races

Welcome to the final day of equestrian dragon racing! The five competitors are ready at the start and there’s the bell! They’re off!
It’s Windworm of Berk taking an early lead, with Tharina of Alagaësia and Baroth of Pern close on her tail! The oldest participant, Fafnir of Asgard, and newcomer Lyron of Westeros are lagging well behind the pace.
They’re rounding the first turn, and it’s still—wait! Fafnir of Asgard is attacking Lyron! She’s going down! That’s immediate disqualification for Fafnir! Now he’s breathing fire on the other racers! It’s a repeat of last year! Oh, the tragedy...

~*~




Jump For Your Life

“Things have gotten very interesting at this pole vaulting competition, Sir Wendell, with the fifth consecutive contestant killed and eliminated. I thought Giles the candle maker had a chance after he cleared the deadly moat, but the hot oil chucker at the top of the wall ended his attempt.”
“Yes, Sir Percy, too bad for Giles. Let’s see how our next athlete does, shall we?”
“Oh look, it’s Bartholomew the baker. This is his first time competing.”
“Yes, he’s having a go with only twenty minutes training.”
“Oh no, it’s the water for him. Another meal for the moat monster.”





© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved



Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Sages and Stories

Today on Drabble Wednesday, come read the old tales, stories told by elders to the new generations...




The River

Once, in the forest of time, our people followed the Great River. We camped on its banks, fished in its waters, hunted game on the surrounding plains, or in the shadows of its woodland. We lived in peace. We were content.
Then came the time of no rains. When the grass dried and the trees died. When the people of the Far City stole our river, and we went to war.
A war we lost.
Our surviving people scattered, migrating to the distant corners of the kingdom. All that remains of us, of the river, is dry dust and ghosts.

~*~





The Enemy

Gather round, children, as I tell of the horrors that lie beyond our home.
Once we were alone in this land. We had no restrictions, we roamed freely. We made homes where we pleased, not simply here in the mountains. We did not hide.
Until they came. Until they drove us from the land with their weapons, their war.
Once we flew in the skies unfettered. Now we are hunted, our wings torn, our bodies maimed. We are killed. Our enemies are monsters.
Remember this children. Never approach the humans. Always avoid them, their villages. Dragonkind must be ever vigilant.

~*~



Time and Tide

The wide, unfathomable sea. It calls to sailors, and buries their bones in its cold, murky embrace. Great ocean storms swallow ships whole, yet sometimes it gives back. Bits and bodies carried to the shores and beaches. But sometimes it keeps what it claims.
And sometimes who it claims doesn’t quite die.
Submerged in the depths, the spirits wait. Their whispers ride the waves. Their anger fuels the storms. They howl under moonlight and exist in perpetuity, as hours pass into days, and days into decades. And immortality breeds patience.
Our time will come.
We will rise.
Fear the day.



© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved



Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Book Spotlight: Seed Me

Today I have the spotlight on a new horror novel, Seed Me by fellow Canadian author Konn Lavery. Enjoy...

Seed Me by Konn Lavery




WARNING: DO NOT CONSUME

If you’re reading this, then you did not take the above warning seriously. In that case, you’re probably as stupid as me. I’m Logan, by the way. I didn’t pay attention to any warning signs either. Being an unemployed deadbeat in Edmonton with no family and getting dumped by your girlfriend for her best friend can wear a guy down. All I had was my cokehead buddy, Skip, to cheer me up.

Surprisingly, my precautionary tale was not caused by either Skip or the drugs. Let’s just say a drunken make-out session with a pale girl by a dumpster, who was supposedly pronounced dead earlier in the evening, can leave you mentally jumbled up. A good motivator to figure this scenario out is having robed cultists stalk you, asking where the girl is.

Is this an ill twist of fate? Did I bring this on myself? Is there a reason behind my misfortune? Is the moral to not make out with spooky girls behind dumpsters? Hell if I know...


Seed Me is available at:

For more details on Seed Me, check out its Book Page



Photo Credit: Nastassja Brinker

Author Bio:

Konn Lavery is a Canadian horror and dark fantasy writer who is known for his Mental Damnation series. The second book, Dream, reached the Edmonton Journal’s top five selling fictional books list. He started writing fantasy stories at a very young age while being home schooled. It wasn’t until graduating college that he began professionally pursuing his work with his first release, Reality. Since then he has continued to write works of fiction ranging from fantasy to horror. His literary work is done in the long hours of the night. By day, Konn runs his own graphic design and website development business under the title Reveal Design. These skills have been transcribed into the formatting and artwork found within his publications supporting his fascination of transmedia storytelling.


For more on Konn Lavery and his books, check out his Website.


Sunday, 7 August 2016

Interview With Author Aspen deLainey

Today I have a delightful treat, an interview with paranormal romance author Aspen deLainey. She chats about writing and her Evermore Chronicles series, including the newest book, Howling Hearts. Enjoy!


Interview With Aspen deLainey



Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I started telling stories before I could read. You know those picture books little kids have? My little brother would ask me to tell a story and we'd curl up in the rocker, open the picture book and I'd keep him occupied with my imagination for hours.
Once I learned to read and print, I began to write my own versions of the stories my father read to me. elementary school opened up creative writing where I found a new audience for my tales. My poor grade five teacher used to assign work by saying a minimum of a three page story must be handed in, then he turn to me and give me a limit of ten or twenty pages. He always read my stories out to the class.
During my teens, watching and listening to one of my friends' mothers going through a painful divorce, I wrote a poem asking why had his love died and sent it in to one of those women's magazines. I received a cheque and a copy of the magazine. My mother was horrified that I would steal that mother's pain and brazenly write about it. What did I know about life, love or pain? I was forbidden to send anything out again while I lived under her roof. "Leave that to people who know what they're doing," she told me.
I never stopped writing, though after once, years later, sending in a romance to the wrong sort of publisher, I held those stories to myself. Until...one of my grown kids told me she'd delete all my files if I didn't send just one story out to any publisher. Biting my nails, heart in my throat, I sent a short piece to a magazine in March 2010. Two weeks later I got an acceptance letter.
The joy, the pride, the nervous acceptance that maybe I could write spurred me on. I write in many genres though I am only published in two so far: paranormal romance and scifi. I do believe I am a writer!


Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

After I wrote Love 'n Lies, about an overweight vampire, I wanted to flesh out the world I started to build. I wanted to get to know her friends better. Howling Hearts is the story of Rand, a young adult werewolf who moves from the Evermore Keep down to Calgary Alberta to seek her fortune and a new life while running away from a love affair gone sour. The book starts with a hair-raising trip through mountain passes in the dead of winter during a blizzard. Because when I started the book a snow storm had been raging here for three days. Rand meets an RCMP officer on the trip who strikes her fancy as much as she whets his. Rand interacts with the various paranormal beings living just under the human radar in Calgary, gets a job and keeps interacting with her young man. Hijinx ensue when her ex shows up.


Why did you decide to write in the paranormal genre?

I worked in medicine for years, the last several in geriatrics. I got to wondering what happened to a werewolf with Alzheimers, or a troll with Parkinson's. How would a vampire age? And what kind of retirement home would house these poor creatures, how would modern medicine handle a decrepit fire elemental? What happens when subdivisions cut down a dryad's grove. I knew I had to write about this.


You write in several genres. Do you have a favourite? And if so, why?

I am caught between different genres. I cannot honestly say I prefer writing in any one of them. Depending on my mood, I write in each. When I'm angry I write murder mysteries - though none of them have seen the light of day. When I'm moody, sad or depressed I write romance as it seems to perk me up  a little. The times I feel adventurous I write scifi.


Do you have a favourite author, or writing inspiration?

At least once a month I read Roger Zelany's Art of Writing. He is fairly inspirational, especially when I'm not in the mood to write. I read everything that passes by, though I do have a few authors whose books  I will seek out: Anne Bishop, Jeffrey Deaver, Mary Higgins, and Tami Hoag. I reread Tolkien's books every few years, along with Ann McCaffrey's Pern series and Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series. In reality, I go through my personal library every few years rereading everything that catches my interest.


How do you research your books?

Ah research...the bane of my writing career. I get lost some days in research.
I write fiction. But. Even fiction has to feel real. For my paranormal romance I read legends from around the world. I research god myths. I probably spend over one hundred hours just on the research once I start a story. For my first book, Love 'n Lies, I asked a hematologist if theoretically a vampire could get fat drinking the blood from a high cholesterol victim. In theory, the doc agreed. Voila - story! During Howling Hearts I researched the equinoxes and earth's reaction geologically to this event. Not just that, of course. I have reams of information on different culture's werewolf folklore. Right now I have been reading personal stories on line about people going blind for my next book that might be called What Will Be.


Do you have any amusing writing stories or anecdotes to share?

I live in the country, fairly far from any neighbours. Sure, I can see two houses, one north west and one north east, about a mile away. That's it. To the south is a long dirt road stretching off to nowhere. About a mile from our house this road becomes an unmaintained road allowance. Another two miles and the road allowance turns, coming out at the highway in about two miles. Farmers use the allowance to get into their far fields. If I keep walking straight instead of turning, I eventually get to a large slough in a coulee about ten miles away. I know this because I've seen a map of the area. And I've driven the road down to the slough in spring to see the swans.
Once, I took the dog out on her daily walk. I'd been writing that morning and got stuck on a scene. I wanted it to go one way and my muse kept interjecting lines pulling it another. So, dog nearby, I walked off thinking about the scene. I don't know how long I walked for, but suddenly I didn't know where I was! The road had disappeared, I was walking in knee-high grass and by the look of the sun I'd been meandering for hours not paying attention to anything except the scene in my head for my book. I got home about nine that evening, tired; the dog exhausted but happy. Yes, I'd resolved the conflict about the scene - my muse won.


Are you working on another book?

Oh yes. I have four books in various stages and lots of pages of notes on book ideas. I got kidnapped in July, right after I finished editing Howling Hearts. My muse would not let me take a breather. for weeks I wrote on this newest idea. My muse let me up for air about a week ago, once I'd gotten the main plot and two hundred pages of first draft finished. Thank the gods. My fingers are worn to nubbins.


Of all the books you've written, do you have a favourite?

Ok, I've only written three that have been published. But the one that is my most favourite is no longer in print, though I am trying to republish it after I get my beta readers to finish it. Te book, Moustache on the Moon, a scifi book for young adults, is about life living in space, sort of. See, these Beigorri, which are marsupial space worms, house a race of human/aliens. The Beigorri shows up in our skies, above the moon. The aliens who live inside it come to earth offering a particular genetic trait of humans a one way ticket to a new world. It will be a series, ending with their new world.
I loved writing that book. I love the characters. And I loved the ideas for the alien artifacts I developed. I wrote that book under the pseudonym d.k.snape. I even enjoyed the research I had to do to get that book as realistic as possible. 


You can find Howling Hearts on Amazon, Kobo, and at Champagne Books




Saturday, 6 August 2016

Book Spotlight: The Final Life

Today I have a book spotlight on the epic fantasy novel, The Final Life by Andrew Mowere. Enjoy...




The Final Life by Andrew Mowere

It has been 10 thousand years since Odin rose as Unchained. There have been two undead gods behind him, Sklaver and Pyro. Azrael Windslayer, it is whispered, may rise too after his demise. However, the magician's life is turned upside down. Broken and alone, the man meets a young murderer fleeing his guilt.
Glint Stryger is but a bandit brat, yet hopes to join Quicksilver and serve with honor in power driven lands. When things fall apart, the young one stumbles into one eccentric necromancer.
The two band together in a fantastical journey of magic, power, as well as discovery. The first aims to better his life, while the second looks beyond, towards a happiness for mankind that had been denied him. Both hope to do their best, yet know time runs out. After all, one life is never enough.





The Final Life is available at:


Author Bio:

Andrew Mowere is a forty three year old man with an interest in people and worlds. A further obsession with books lead to his current decision to become a writer. He is chaotic by nature, assured he is funny by a loving fiancé, and wishes he could live next to the ocean. His current favorite author is Rothfuss, and his last known read was "Call of Cthulhu", which was absolutely fantastic.
 The Final Life is an epic fantasy. There is really little backstory you need to know before diving in, except that the novel is heavy on magical systems, less so on romance. The first few chapters alternate their narration point. It follows a boy called Glint Stryger and a necromancer named Azrael Windslayer.


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Kings and Commoners

Today on Drabble Wednesday, we go medieval...

Warning: today’s post gets a bit icky.




Boy in the Kitchens

Turn the spit, turn the spit, turn the spit.
Alfred watched the meat sizzle, and cranked the handle round and round. Day after day, he sat, stared, and spun the roast.
“You boy! At the spit! We’ve a new job for you!”
Alfred looked up with glee, and eagerly relinquished his place to another kitchen lad. The royal butcher ushered him into a back pantry.
“Sorry boy, but the king wants special meat for his supper.”
Poor Alfred never saw the cleaver fall. 
Come supper, another boy sat watching the sizzling meat that used to be Alfred.
Turn the spit.

~*~



Vantage Point

The old room atop the temple held the perfect view of the queen’s procession route.
He watched her horse drawn, open carriage meandering its way up the street.
He took his time, lined up his bow, and let the arrow fly.
The projectile pierced the queen’s chest, and she crumpled like a doll.
The assassin patted his purse. The payment of the king's gold rattled with a beautiful sound, and he chuckled with proud satisfaction. Then he stepped over the body of the snooping priest he killed, snuck down the back stairs onto the street, and disappeared into the crowd.

~*~




King’s Decree

Arabella stared at her reflection in the mirror, tucking a stray lock of hair into place. She applied red colour to her lips and cheeks. She mustn’t appear sallow on this day. Her audience with the king.
How lives turn on the will of that man.
She appraised her appearance. She looked thinner than a few months ago, but not gaunt. That was good. The newest royal concubine best not look sickly.
Can I do this?
She closed her eyes, taking a breath.
You don’t have a choice. You lost the rebellion. You become his, or die like your husband.




© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved



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