Tag Archives: fantasy

Coming September 23rd-A Short Story & Novella Collection by Red Haircrow

varianceK SM

From the author of “The Agony of Joy”, winner of the  Global Ebook Awards 2013 in Best LGBT Fiction, Variance is a collection of ten short stories and novellas by Red Haircrow ranging from contemporary to fantasy, the surreal and thought-provoking to the innocently poignant.

Although some see “variance” as suggestive of disharmony, it can be the reality of achieving, understanding, expressing and conveying a variety of emotions, schools of thought, relationships, personalities, and more, without limitation, exhibiting the ranges possible within one’s being.

As a story collection, Variance displays the range of a multi-talented poet and author who has been described as having a “magnificent command of language” and “a gift for descriptive prose.”

  • Publishing first at Smashwords
  • Words: 66,334 (approximate)
  • Language: American English
  • ISBN: 9781301063123
  • Price: $5.99


Contemporary Fiction

Night Shift

The Caravaggio & The Swan

The Coat: Secrets of a Hatcheck Boy

Convenience Store Romance


The Angel of Berlin (Urban)

A Lieutenant’s Love (Historical)

Katrdeshtr’s Redemption (Dark/Vampire)


We, The Dead (Visionary)

Children of Light (Ancient)

The House of Doom, Dreams and Desire (Sensual/Horror)

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Filed under Announcements, Anthologies, Books, Contemporary Fiction, Dark Fiction, Fiction, GLBTIIQ Interest, Historical Fiction, Short Story Collections

Interview: Mark Brisby, Author of “Untoward”

markbAbout Mark Brisby:

“A self published author looking to expand my audience.  I am from Fairfax, Virginia and published my book through Amazon in January, and it’s called Untoward.  This book is the first of a forthcoming series (as yet unfinished).  The ISBN is 978-0615750118 and it is 488 pages long.

Description: Daumis always knew that turning thirteen was unlucky, but when he sees Denizens (evil magicians who kidnap children) he decides to stop them from abducting someone else.  When he stumbles into a botched rescue of Cewyn, the son of the local duke, he is also captured, starved, and tortured for his pluck.

Enter hero Tadrec, a graduate of a prestigious magical university, recently the only member of his party to survive a cursed artifact.  He is stoned on witchreed and morning his friends with absolutely nothing to do.  When he’s asked by the president of his alma mater to rescue Daumis and Cewyn because they’re the most powerful magicians to be born in a century, he agrees.  For a price.

Tadrec, Daumis, and Cewyn must encounter golems, insane monks, cannibals, giant badgers, an undead army, and a demigod all just before they can reach the magical, floating city of Horizon.  Not to mention the fact that they are in company that they do not necessarily like, trust, or can even stand in the form of a pompous Citizen who used to pick on Tadrec, an old, blind seer who likes to spit on people, a drunken minstrel, a homicidal metal shard, the sickeningly-perfect teacher and student combo, and a royal vizier who just doesn’t want to go bald.  With the forces of evil gaining ground from behind them, no matter what all the three of them go through, it always seems to Tadrec and the boys that their destination moves ever-farther away from them…In fact, it flies.



What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?

I choose to write fantasy and science fiction genres.  I like my entertainments usually to have some sort of other-worldly aspect to it, so I find it’s easiest to write in those genres because I find them to be the most stimulating to my imagination as well as just plain fun.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I was very young, in elementary school.  Probably the fifth or sixth grade.  I still have original works that I’d done, but looking at them now, I’m glad I’ve improved my vocabulary.

Who or what was your inspiration for writing?

I have always been creative.  In my youth I used to draw and I would try to emulate my favorite artist, M.C. Escher, but I hated the math involved with tessellations.  But reading books when I was young was probably the main reason. I’ve always wanted to inspire the same fears, loves, anguished, and well the rest of the range of human emotions in others.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing I work at my full time job as an admin assistant.  In my free time I usually love to read and/or become lost in bookstores for hours, bowling, cooking, watching TV and movies, listening to a variety of music, and spending time with friends.

Where do you hang out online? Website URL, author groups, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc?

If I go online at all it’s usually to check the sites update:

FaceBook (http://www.facebook.com/mark.brisby.5)

Twitter (https://twitter.com/MarkBrisby13)

And my blog (http://markbrisby13.wordpress.com/)

What books are currently on your nightstand?

The Birth of Classical Europe (A History from Troy to Augustine) by Simon Price and Peter Thonemann and Conan the Barbarian (a collection of original, unabridged stories) by Robert E. Howard.

Do you remember the first novel you read?

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Colleen McCoullough for her First Man in Rome Series, so thorough and sharp, steeped in details and tidbits of forgotten information. I envy her research skills.

Agatha Christie for her Hercule Poirot Mysteries, completely, captivatingly genius.

Your Writing Process

Do you listen to music or have another form of inspiration when you are writing? 

Music is a major component to my writing process.  Headphones in, iPod usually playing something that I like but is soft enough to fade into the background.  If it’s too loud or jarring, I end up concentrating on the music or lyrics and less and less on what I’m supposed to be doing (say, getting a character out of a sticky situation).

Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s the most unglamorous thing that you’ve done in the past week?

Scooped the cat boxes.  Yes, two of them.

How long does it take you to finish a book from start to submission?

I’ve never finished a project until now, usually losing faith in it/myself.  But this time I pushed through.  It took four years to write it and about two more for the editing process.

Do you prefer writing series books over non series or does it matter?

I actually prefer to write the books (and in general think of them) as a series.  I have big plans for each major character I’ve written for, and I plan on carrying those machination out.

Your Books

What is your novel about?

It is a fantasy novel in which two boys are kidnapped by evil magicians only to be rescued by someone they don’t necessarily trust or even like.  They must journey with this rival magician to the magical, floating city of Horizon where the boys will learn how to protect themselves from other evil magicians.  Basically the entire book covers the journey to safety through savage lands and must encounter cannibals, giant badgers, insane monks, an undead army, and a demigod.

Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?

I need deadlines or else I usually end up putting writing off for some mundane activity/vice.  A time table by which I have everything read is key to motivating me.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I just start writing.  I begin with one sentence and then see where it takes me.  If I ever do make an outline, it’s usually several chapters in when most of the characters have been established.  It’s mostly just so I can keep track of what’s coming up so I know how to transition between the two.

If your book is available in print, how does it feel to hold a book that has your name on the cover?

It feels like a life-fulfilling moment.  I was shaking with adrenaline so much that I almost dropped it.

Your Characters

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I tend to make up a persona for someone, but I might some comprise it of different pieces of people (either in my life or just that I’ve encountered).  I take the good and the bad and place them inside each character, because I want them to be likable and humanly fallible.

Is it hard coming up with names for your characters?

I’m a wiz when it comes to naming characters, pets, vehicles, inanimate objects.  Names just jump out at me, but sometimes it does take a mixture of several different choices until I’m happy with it.  Also, I feel the names should fit the characters, even if the character themselves do not feel their designations match.

Have any of your characters ever haunted your dreams or woken you up during the night demanding attention?

Yes, a particularly vain and arrogant magician taunted in me in my dreams, offerinf suggestions about how I could get him out of the mess I had thought up for him in the first place.

What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters?

Good chemistry is always nourished by conflict.  If characters start off hating each other, they will usually grow to like/love/respect them by the end of it…at least just a little.  The reverse can happen too of course.  Conflicts and arguments between the main characters not only let the readers become engaged in the debate so that they might also choose sides, but also makes for amusing dialog.

Is there a character from one of your books that resonates deeply with you?

The main four characters in Untoward have pieces of me and a few other people too.  Speaking for myself: Tadrec has my wit, Daumis has my interest in studying human interactions, Cewyn has my logic, and Rilliam has my scheming nature.

Random Questions

Name one website you visit every single day.


Where do you get your daily dose of news?

I usually get it from either CNN (because it’s on at work), FaceBook or from word of mouth.


Filed under Announcements, Books, Fantasy, Interviews, Writers and Writing

Shadow of a Dead Star by Michael Shean

11822933Review: Please see the note below regarding edition, which is primarily the reason why it took me longer to read and review this book than my average: I had an earlier edition that had many editing errors.

That being said, there was an edge to Shadows of a Dead Star, incorporating mystery and darkness, an eeriness that attracts you but creates a sense of anxiety so that you’re reluctant to look full on: for fear of what you might learn. Mood and tension was great, and main character Walken, was both sympathetic and strong, with understandable vulnerabilities. Very well presented, I thought.

It might be considered strange but in conjunction with everything else, what I liked most about this book was its length, approximately 115 pages. There wasn’t pages and pages of superfluous information, slowing pace and progression. The writing was stylish but not trying to overly impress; instead the author used language that was gripping but not pretentious.  Shean used vivid descriptions and imagery that surprised and satisfied, just enough, never over the top. Very much reminding me of Christopher Hinz’s, Paratwa Trilogy, which had a strange beauty but was undeniably shocking and sometimes brutal, Shadows of a Dead Star was a book I was glad I gave another chance.

Note: This novel was listed as being self-published by Michael Shean, June 2011, then assumingly republished by Curiosity Quills Press, December 2011. After completing my review, as usual, I read through others, a number of which used editing and grammar issues as reason to rate the novel lower. Please take this fact into consideration regarding edition, making sure to get the updated, corrected version.

Description: “Seattle, 2078. The future hasn’t been kind to the spirit of humanity; commercial obsession and technological fetishism rules the day, religion and belief has died screaming in the fires of war, and what remains is moral decrepitude. Life in the future is hard on the soul.

As an agent of the Industrial Security Bureau, Thomas Walken knows that better than anyone. His job is to keep the worst kind of black-market technology out of the hands of citizens, technology born out of the shadowy nation nicknamed Wonderland. But the kind of fantasies that come out of that place aren’t for the good people of the world. Wonderland technology is like black magic made real.

Walken’s newest assignment starts out simply: intercept a smuggled shipment of Princess Dolls, little girls turned into sex toys, and bring them into custody. But when the girls are hijacked from federal custody and Walken gives chase, he finds a trail of bodies in their wake. Before he’s through, Walken will find himself confronted revelations that will answer every question that the troubled lawman has ever had about himself and the world he lives in – but his mind and soul may not survive it.

A dark, brooding piece of future noir, SHADOW OF A DEAD STAR will take you down the rabbit hole on a ride you won’t soon forget.”

  • Published December 1st 2011 by Curiosity Quills Press
  • First published June 21st 2011 by Michael Shean
  • ISBN13: 9781620070000
  • Source: Author

Author Profile

Michael Shean was born amongst the sleepy hills and coal mines of southern West Virginia in 1978. Taught to read by his parents at a very early age, he has had a great love of the written word since the very beginning of his life. Growing up, he was often plagued with feelings of isolation and loneliness; he began writing off and on to help deflect this, though these themes are often explored in his work as a consequence. At the age of 16, Michael began to experience a chain of vivid nightmares that has continued to this day; it is from these aberrant dreams that he draws inspiration.

In 2001 his grandfather, whom he idolized in many ways, died. The event moved him to leave West Virginia to pursue a career in the tech industry, and he settled in the Washington, DC area as a web designer and graphic artist. As a result his writing was put aside and not revisited until five years later. In 2006 he met his current fiancee, who urged him to pick up his writing once more. Though the process was very frustrating at first, in time the process of polishing and experimentation yielded the core of what would become his first novel, Shadow of a Dead Star. In 2009 the first draft of book was finished, though it would be 2011 until he would be satisfied enough with the book to release it.

His work is extensively character-driven, but also focuses on building engaging worlds in which those characters interact. His influences include H.P. Lovecraft, William Gibson, Cormac McCarthy, Philip K. Dick, and Clark Ashton Smith.

Website: http://michael-shean.com/.


Filed under Books, Dark Fiction, Fantasy, Reviews, Science Fiction, Writers and Writing

Interview: Ron Vitale, Author of “Cinderella’s Secret Diary” Series

Ron Vitale was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Influenced by the likes of Tolkien, Margaret Atwood, C. S. Lewis, and Philip Pullman, he began writing at an early age, creating short fiction from his early Dungeons & Dragons role-playing sessions.

In the fall of 2008, he published his fantasy novel Dorothea’s Song as an audiobook on Podiobooks and for sale in the Amazon.com Kindle store, and in 2011 he published Lost, the first book in the Cinderella’s Secret Diaries series.

Currently, he is keeping himself busy by writing his blog, and on learning how to be a good father to his kids all while working on the next Cinderella’s Secret Diaries novel. Learn more about all of the books written by Ron Vitale at http://books.ronvitale.com.

Availability: Amazon.

About the Author

What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?

I wrote fantasy stories for young adults. I write stories to inspire others to question who they are and to challenge conventions. Everyone knows that Cinderella was saved by the prince, but I’d rather question why women don’t need to be saved. They can save themselves.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I wrote my first story when I was about 9 years old. I remember reading the story to my friends during our lunch break at school and being amazed at how they were really interested in what would happen next. With my circle of friends around me, one of our teachers, who was a nun, came up to us, thinking that we were doing something bad. She took my notebook from me and when she saw that it was a science fiction story that I had written, she gave it back to me. I realized then that the written word had great power. Not only could I entrance my friends, but I could stop nuns at a Catholic school!

Who or what was your inspiration for writing?

I grew up in a rather dysfunctional family so writing became a way in which I could recreate my world through words and then bring people on that journey with me.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I really enjoy reading. I love discovering a new book that causes me to really think about my life, but sometimes I just like a good romp that’s fun and exciting. When I’m not reading or writing, I’m also a runner. I’ve run one marathon and several half-marathons. I only started running four years ago, but I’ve learned that it’s a great way to think through problems in my book’s plot to solving my own problems. Running helps relax me.

Where do you hang out online? Website URL, author groups, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc?

I loved technology so I enjoy watching a bunch of the shows on This Week in Tech and I’m a big fan of Twitter. I following #amwriting and #MyWANA—both really great writing hashtags to follow. I’m also a reader of Penelope Trunk’s blog. She’s controversial, but I like her ability to just put her thoughts out there—for good or bad.

What books are currently on your nightstand?

A history on the rise of Napoleon (research for my next book) and “A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness.

Do you remember the first novel you read?

I believe it was “The Hobbit” by Tolkien. It’s one of the reasons why I became a writer. Tolkien’s imagination and serious themes (how power corrupts and the importance of the individual) sucked me in. I’ve read the “Fellowship of the Ring” series more times than I can remember.

What would you like readers to know about you the individual?

I believe that books can change a person’s life. I’m a big fan of the power of the written word, but I also can take a step back and just relax, knowing that sometimes it’s important just to have a good read.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Tolkien and Asimov are my favorites for fantasy and science fiction because of their grand plots and imagination. For my Masters work, I studied Margaret Atwood and Alice Walker—both are amazing authors. I enjoy their work because of their central theme: Their protagonists heal themselves by telling their stories.

Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.

I wear women’s deodorant. It’s a long story, but Degree decided to change the shower clean scent to be a woman’s deodorant. I still like it so I now where a woman’s deodorant.

Where are you from originally?

I grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and it’s a whole separate world to itself.

Your Writing Process

Why do you write?

I enjoy exploring my own emotions and on sharing my creations with the world.

What excites you about writing?

Creating a world and its characters and bringing the reader along for the ride.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I work full-time and have two young children so my writing (and running) takes place in the very early morning before I head off to work. It’s hard to do, but I work at my writing and it takes many months but my novels do get written.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Write. Don’t give up. Just write. I know that might sound like cliché advice, but it’s harder to implement over decades than one might think.

Do you listen to music or have another form of inspiration when you are writing? 

I do have various songs that I listen to many, many times while I’m writing a book. I don’t listen to music as I actually write, but I like to listen to help me get into the mood and to feel my characters out.

Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s the most unglamorous thing that you’ve done in the past week?

I really enjoy cleaning the bathrooms in the house so a few days ago I had my hand in a toilet bowl.

How long does it take you to finish a book from start to submission?

The first book in the Cinderella’s Secret Diary series took me 18 months to write and published. The sequel, Stolen, book me 13 months.

What would you like readers to know about you the writer?

I care about my craft and my books, making certain that I just don’t write something because I’ve nothing better to do, but because I believe they’ll help me become a better person.

Do you have a system for writing? 

I come up with an idea, start jotting the idea down and then make a decision (or not) to start a book. Then I sit down several times a week and write. When the first draft is finished, I share it with beta readers and then re-write. I rinse and repeat until I believe the work is done.

Do you track work count or write a certain number of hours per day?

No, I don’t. I usually hit around the same amount.

Have you ever had one of those profound “AH-HA!” moments while you were writing?  Would you be willing to share it?

Yes, I had a moment like that during the re-writing of the first book in the Cinderella’s Secret Diary series. I can’t share it because it’ll ruin the surprise for people reading the book. I remember driving to the train station, listening to an Annie Lennox song and an idea popped into my head. The idea was something like: “What if…” I was so shaken by the idea that I forgot my phone in the car and rushed to get the train, desperately trying to jot down notes. In the end, the idea really helped shape the book.

What was the most uplifting moment you’ve experienced during your writing career?

I had a woman reader reach out to me and tell me that I really nailed Cinderella’s voice, making her believe that a woman wrote the book. I was humbled by that. I worked really hard to get Cinderella’s voice right—even if she can be annoying at times.

Your Books

Your book is about to be sent into the reader world, what is one word that describes how you feel?


How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I’ve written 4 books and have had 3 published. My favorite is Stolen: Cinderella’s Secret Diaries because I trusted myself and allowed myself to experiment with my writing style.

When a new book comes out, are you nervous about how readers will react to it?

Yes, I do worry about that. As an indie writer, it’s difficult trying to find readers. But once I do have someone pick up the book, they’re really impressed. I’m very honored by that.

What can we look forward to in the upcoming months?

Since Stolen just came out, I’m working on promoting that book and then I’ll start working on book 3.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I do not outline my books. I just start writing and then work on the plot later as it comes more into shape. I have a general idea of where I’m going with the book, but I prefer a more organic plot.


Your Characters

Is it hard coming up with names for your characters?

Sometimes I make up my own names. Once I held a contest for a character’s name and a reader won the right. Turned out to be a great name.

Have any of your characters ever haunted your dreams or woken you up during the night demanding attention?

Yes, that has happened to me, but not in some time.

Which of your stories would make a great movie?  Who’d play the lead roles?

I can see Juno Temple as Cinderella in the movie version of my book. I think she has the right amount of edginess to her that would really bring the character to life.

Do you make a conscious decision to write a certain type of character with a certain occupation, or do the characters decide for themselves what they want to be?

After I finished writing Cinderella’s Secret Diary: Lost, I told my wife that I felt that I had channeled Cinderella because there were times that I wanted her to do something, but she wouldn’t listen to me. It was as though she had her own intentions on what she wanted to do. Who was I to challenge that?


Filed under Books, Fantasy, Interviews, Series, Writers and Writing

The Oracle Bone by S.J. Mallory

Review: Since I could read, I’ve always preferred fantasy and science fiction over contemporary fiction, as I was attracted to the escapism of the genre. With contemporary works, because they are set in modern times and places readers may know and more readily identify with or critique, yet fantasy can incorporate whatever the author wishes to add, in worlds of their creation.

S. J. Mallory had a strong vision in this work, and obviously a deep passion for the tale and its characters. The writing style didn’t work for me, and I found it hard to become engaged, especially in that the character and place names were in such a way as to distract me repeatedly from the story itself. That being said, to each his own. The Oracle Bone may be a story that appeals to other readers, and strike a spark that fires their imagination.

Description: “When color was the only sound, Goddess, the bringer of light, burst the dark like a rainbow fist through a stained-glass window, and in the silent kaleidoscopic wake there formed a world shaped as a left hand, long fingers stretched wide, slightly curved, tips firm on the cosmos.

For fans of high fantasy comes a Creation myth that evolves on a distant wilderness world, where a collision of prophecies sends Welkarte, a famous Mapper, and his traveling partner Naywan, a gifted academic and his longtime lover, on an epic quest to find the lost piece of Goddess enchanted alphabet, which if found will mend the broken language and give the Second Creation its voice.

A young Speller named Airtha reveals the magick that makes her the heart of the Second Creation. But she’s lost in the forest and needs help getting to the Library, where her soul is supposed to enter the Book of Worlds and finally make possible Goddess’ chosen world.

The wicked sorceress Viscera, who rules the Little Finger, conspires against Welkarte’s quest and by a twist of fate gains the magick of the Fire Sword, the glow of a thousand campfires in its sleek length, Evil’s ultimate weapon.

The only defense against such a blade is the Ice Sword, which Welkarte is destined to hold, but he can’t handle the magick necessary to wield it. Anger fuels his spells, and not only doesn’t he like that part of himself, he can’t control it, which was why for most of his life he seldom conjured anything beyond simple necessities. As Viscera rampages across the Hand threatening the future of the universe, Welkarte struggles with his own demons to find the peace he needs to summon the strength to face Viscera in the fight that will decide the fate of the universe.

An old gray dragon named Pensif, who has patiently waited for his chance to fulfill his destiny, a powerful Magu, one of the last of his breed, and a crew of brave mariners join the fight against the dark forces that would consume Airtha’s soul.

Replete with secret mysticism, fantastic creatures, stout heroes and black-hearted villains, the journey weaves from the Knuckle Mountains, to the Wrist, the Thumb and finally the Ring Finger, where Goddess faces Her greatest threat at the moment She is most vulnerable.

  • Kindle Edition
  • Published May 31st 2012
  • Publisher: S.J. Mallory
  • Available: Amazon
  • Source: Author

Author Profile:

SJ Mallory (1955-?) has eked out a living trying to be a writer since he was 17. Finally after years of vigorous research into the connection of whiskey and creativity he is publishing his work. Website: http://sjmallory.blogspot.de/.

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Reviews, Writers and Writing