Thursday, 27 December 2012

For Auld Lang Syne, My Dear - A short story for New Year's Eve


                                                   
 
                                           For Auld Lang Syne, My Dear...

 

     God, I hated parties - and this party was no exception. I really didn’t want to come to it, but one has to one’s duty sometimes.  I can still remember the exact words on the invitation:

THE PRINCIPAL CORDIALLY INVITES YOU TO A NEW YEAR’S EVE FANCY DRESS PARTY.

Theme: Fantasy & Sci Fi

Time: 8 till late

Place: The university main hall

A bar and buffet will be provided

     So here I was, dressed in an orc outfit - very Lord of the Rings, I thought. A dead ringer for one of the foul creatures, I believed, though one or two people had already asked me what I was meant to be. God, I detested parties – especially since the accident happened three years ago. Emily would have loved this. “Cheer up! It’s a real blast,” she would have said. But she was dead.

     I would have preferred to have stayed at home. I always do. If you are going to mark the occasion of the calendar advancing and getting nearer to our graves, then why not stay at home and do it quietly - without a fuss. But the job has called me – it always does - and I’ve got to be here tonight - mingling and chatting, and generally pretending to have a good time in a stupid costume. At least the drinks were cheap at the university. I headed over to get one.

“Ah, Tony, there you are,” said Professor Deakin - someone I didn’t want to talk to right now.  I pretended I didn’t hear him over the noise of the music. I knew it wouldn’t work.

“Tony; how are you my dear boy?” asked Deakin, placing his drink down next to me on the bar. I drank a bit of beer before turning and hitting him with my best fake grin.

“I’m just dandy Professor Deakin, thank you. How are you doing on this fine evening?”

“Oh just wonderful - thank you. I see you’ve come as some sort of dreadful creature from the dark recesses of Tolkien’s brain,” he said, giving my costume the once over.

“Thank you. You’re the first to spot it.” I replied, smiling and quaffing more ale. I looked over his outfit. He was dressed as Gandalf the Grey, which didn’t surprise me a bit. “Or should I say – thank you Gandalf and hope you don’t smite me,” I said.

“Oh I wouldn’t do that. It’s not in Gandalf’s interest to smite just any old thing, you know.”

“Why, of course not,” I said. He was a right one, Professor Deakin. This is what being head of the English department must do to you over the course of time.

The professor twiddled his beard and I could visualise his mind searching for more things to say. Eventually his lips opened: “You haven’t produced any papers lately, and your last book was published over three years ago. Is there anything wrong, Tony?”

No, there was nothing wrong. Only my darling wife had died, and there were the constant demands of the university to deal with: The endless rounds of lectures, tutorials, meetings, petty administration, and marking to do. And now I had to suck up to colleagues and senior college bigwigs. There was nothing wrong at all.

     I glanced around the hall, looking for somewhere I could go and sit by myself. It was then that I noticed another Gandalf.  If the professor’s wizard costume was good, then this one was truly magnificent. It had a real ethereal quality to it and you just couldn’t keep your eyes off it. Talk about charisma.

“I think you’ve got a bit of competition, Professor,” I said, nodding over to the other wizard, “Gandalf the White is here.”

I made my excuses and walked over to an empty table in the corner of the room.  A quick glance at the clock told me it was 10 o’clock – thank goodness for that – only 2 hours to go.

     Perhaps it was the drink, but things were starting to get better. The dance floor was filling up and I spotted quite a few attractive lovelies dressed as elves, warrior maidens and robotic replicants. There was even a very fetching Princess Leia, who, I’m sure smiled at me.  I smiled back and immediately felt foolish. 

And then I saw him again – the person dressed as a wizard. What an amazing costume, I thought.

     Avoiding Professor Deakin, I went the bar, bought another drink and sat back down on my mercifully empty table.  I knew I was meant to be chatting to people, but I really just didn’t feel up to it.  I imagined Emily sitting next to me, and for a fleeting moment I heard her laugh once more. And then I felt sad - so I went to the bar again.

When I got back I was surprised to find Princess Leia sitting at the table.

“Um...hello,” I said.

“Hi,” said Leia, smiling and offering me a bowl of cashews. “You’re Tony from the English department, right?”

“Yes, I am. How do you know that?” I asked, grabbing a couple of nuts and gobbling them down.

“We’ve spoken before. You don’t remember?” 

She was right – I didn’t remember. I hate to say it, but I might have been a bit tipsy that night.

“Well; let me help you out. My name’s Liz and I teach in the Politics department.” She said. Now she mentioned it – I did remember her a bit. She looked very different in the Star Wars costume though.

“Nice to meet you Liz... again,” I said, before adding: “I hope you don’t mind if I call you Leia.”

“Not at all, Mr Orc,” she replied, laughing.  She seemed to like me, which was very strange indeed. I looked at the clock again, which read 11.50pm.  In a moment I was going to have to make a break from the crowd.  I couldn’t really face talking to Princess Leia anymore and there was no way I was going to sing and hug people at midnight. No way. I made a break for the gents’ toilet.

     I arrived in the loo in the nick of time. I could hear somebody announcing the build up to midnight on a microphone. All I had to do was sit it out for the next 15 minutes or so. Nobody else would come in to the washroom at this time. And then Gandalf the White came in. Drat!

“Er...hi, Mr Gandalf,” I said, slightly mirthfully, before turning. I was going to go into the cubicle to be left alone.

And then he pulled down his cowl, stopping me dead in my tracks. It was the most hideous sight I had ever seen. He...or it...had two faces. Two faces side by side on the same head. I nearly fainted, but my rubbery legs somehow kept me standing.

“Do you know who I am?” asked the creature with the mouth on one of its faces.

It couldn’t be, could it?

“Are you...um... Janus?” I replied. What on earth?

“And do you know what I do?” it said, using the other face.

“Um...you’re the god of beginnings and transitions. January is named after you.” I said, the words coming out as a whimper.

“And do you know the song Auld Land Syne?” asked Janus.

“I...I...do. We sing it at midnight to mark the coming year.” I responded.

“And what does it mean?” asked the god.

“The song asks us whether it’s right to forget the past and to remember old friendships.” I said. I had always liked Burns’ old Scots verse, despite not singing it very often.

“And do you think we should do this?”

I hesitated slightly before replying. The answer came out as a squeak: ”Yes, I do.”

At the moment music started playing in the main hall – the build up to the song.

“SING IT!” said Janus, with an unfathomable depth and power. I started singing:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind?

SING IT LOUDER AND WITH FEELING!” boomed Janus.  The words suddenly seared into my brain, flashing up like the HUD in a fighter plane.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

and auld lang syne?

SING IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT!” said the deity. I began singing the chorus. Suddenly, a terrific energy pulsed through me.

For auld lang syne my dear,

for auld lang syne,

It was all becoming clear: I had to let go of Emily and move on with my life. The tears started rolling down my cheeks.

We’ll tak’ a cup of kindness,

For auld lang syne.

I went on to the next verse. Janus nodded and started to smile on both faces.

And surely ye’ll be your pint stowp!

And surely I’ll be mine!

And we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

Memories of Emily filled my mind - happy memories. I would never forget her and my love for her would stay with me till my dying day. We had walked upon the slopes together, picking flowers, but that time was finished.

We twa hae run about the braes,

and pu’d the gowans fine;

but we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,

sin auld lang syne. 

My epiphany reached a crescendo and I passed out.
 

*


 Well, that was last New Year’s Eve and quite a lot has happened since then.  You may be pleased to know that Liz, or Leia as I still sometimes call her, has moved in with me and our relationship is coming along nicely. I’ve started writing again and will have a new book out early next year.  I can safely say that I have stopped being an orc  – but I am pleased to say Professor Deakin still sees himself as Gandalf.
 
Mike Evers December 2011

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The Chaosifier - FR*E on #Kindle till December 30th




A storm is brewing.

High on a mountain in Central Europe a vengeful chaos lord has managed to get a terrifying device to do his bidding. The future of the whole of mankind is at stake, and only a plucky band of luck goblins can possibly stop him.

There's just the troublesome matter of a crime wave, global financial meltdown, and WW3 to deal with first...

A rip-roaring fantasy adventure from the author of The Spirit Archer and Campaign of the Gods.


Review excerpts:

“The magical concepts in the book are creative and engaging, yet the characters can be easily related to and the magic weaves through a world the reader knows. The result is an enchanting story that is thought-provokingly possible.” -- debzi f, Amazon UK

“The story is well written, fast paced and hard to put down! The journey across snowy Europe reminded me of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. There are also elements of the story which would appeal to fans of The Hobbit and Harry Potter.” -- Jelly Bean, Amazon UK

“I thought it topical funny and found it hard to put down, or in this case turn off. Overall I found it very enjoyable and different.” -- TarquiniusTastebuds, Amazon UK

“Mike Evers' The Chaosifier is a joyful fantasy/ boy's own adventure story with a touch of satire. Think The Borrowers mixed with Mission Impossible and the knockabout humour of Dad's Army and Four Lions!” -- Paul D Brazill, Amazon

"I definitely recommend this well-written novel to readers of fantasy. The story has a slow build up to the climax, but once there, I was hooked. " -- C. Rice, Amazon US

"Author, Mike Evers debut, YA fantasy novel is a smash hit. Appealing to both young and old, the characters are loveable even at their worst. A touch of sci-fi brings the fantasy experience to life. You begin to question the "what if's" of a story which mirrors very closely to reality. An exciting read, The Chaosifier will keep you riveted until the end." -- L-A. Graf Vinson, Amazon US

"As a reader I have read another book by this author; it too was a fable tale about Robin Hood and was a delight, The Spirit Archer. I did not expect anything less from this writer, he has such a creative mind and a writing style which is delightful, entertaining and full of wonder and chills all at the same time. It reminds me of the favorite book, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe full with its zany adventures and moral consciousness." -- S Mahoney, Amazon US


Amazon UK link

Amazon USA link




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Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Gnome Archery - Christmas 2012 - Elf Mischief #gnomes

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After last year's increbible victory, with our gnomes' brave fightback against the highly skilled Robin Hood All Stars, I am afraid to report that there is a less than merry atmosphere in our camp. And it is surely the doing of the Black Elves.

You may recall that I mentioned some suspicious things happened to the gnome-mobile even before the team set off for the Black Forest.  Well, a litany of strange things continued to happen to the gnomes en-route, including Findl Nettlecrusher becoming bewitched by a wood siren and Wimpl the Unwilling getting trapped in giant web when taking a 'toilet break' on the edge of the forest. Wimpl was at first reluctant to break free - until he saw a pair of eyes the size of footballs peering at him from a cranny nearby. Wimpl has never moved so fast in his whole life!

Thus, it was a spooked and shaken team, with a lovelorn Findl in its ranks, that began the archery contest early this morning.  Largely due to Bundl Fugglebum's prowess with the bow, the gnomes scraped through the early rounds, narrowly avoiding defeat to some goblin mercenaries. However, things started to take a turn for the worse when Findl took a slug of Thunder Ale too many, and surely befuddled by Cupid's own deadly arrow, declared his undying love for 'Tarwen of the Trees' and collapsed drunkenly into the Fairie Queen's Christmas hamper.  Despite this huge setback, the gnomes nearly succeeded in beating the Black Elf Elite, but were undone by suddenly rubberised arrows and the appearance of a giant spider as Wimpl was lining up his final shot. 

Needless to say, the Black Elves went on to win the tournament. Wimpl is having trauma counselling and Findl has vanished into the very mysterious and murky forest. 

I am going to make a formal complaint to the authorities about the devious and despicable happenings, and I am going to put some wasps in the ears of the Black Elf elders.

I am about to head to the village for some strong mead, and I would like to bid you a Merry Christmas.

ML

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Gnome Archery - Christmas 2012 - update #gnomes


The gnomes set off Germany earlier today in preparation for the annual Legendary Creatures' Christmas Fayre.  Already I fear there has been some foul play. The gnome-mobile failed to start due to a yule log wedged in the exhaust pipe and a mysterious green goo in the radiator.  The four flat tyres did not help either. It was probably just as well as Wimpl the Unwilling was running late and had to be manhandled from his bed. 

Finally, Bundl Fugglebum managed to get the vehicle running and they were last reported heading into southern Poland. 

Our hopes are with them for this season. But dark forces are surely at work...

ML

 

Friday, 14 December 2012

iFeel by Marissa Carmel - The New Cover is Revealed! #NewAdult


I have an announcement to make.  Marissa Carmel is a friend of the citadel, and has helped us here in the past.  Therefore, I would like to join in with celebrating the fabulous new cover of her wonderful book, iFeel.  Anyhow, I hope you like it.

ML

Here is a message from GMTA Publishing about it:









We are honoured to join Marissa today as she reveals her brand new cover for iFeel.

iFeel has been regenred as New Adult and we think this is the PERFECT cover!! We hope you agree too!!


Lust. Anger. Hate. Desire. Love. Happiness. Joy. iFeel. Liv Christianni is isolated, alone, tortured and withdrawn, saddled with the torrential downpour of the world’s emotions. 

Accepting of her providence Liv has lost all hope, until one day fate steps in and spins the course of her life like a spiraling top. Hunted by a Spirit Stalker, Liv is forced to gain control of herself and her surroundings, threatened by the touch of her immortal love; she must find a way to survive both physically and emotionally as her reality is shaken up like dice on a Craps table. 

Can she find the courage to accept her true self? Can she love unconditionally cognizant of the condemning consequences? Can she rise from the ashes to become the person she was always meant to be? 

Funny, witty, real, and poignant, iFeel rips into your soul, and sets your emotions on fire. If you are a fan of Charmed or Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries or The Secret Circle this series is for you! 

Amazon



Marissa Carmel has been writing since a young age and although it has always been for personal enjoyment, she finally decided to break out and share her imagination with the world. She hopes that her universe is as fun and intriguing to her readers as it is to her. 

Marissa Carmel is originally from NJ but moved to Maryland several years ago, she enjoys reading, writing, and catching up on her DVR library. She is currently working on the sequel to iFeel, Gravitational Pull, which she hopes to release sometime in 2012.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Gnome Archery - Christmas 2012: The Black Elves' Challenge! #gnomes



If you can hark back to last Christmas, you may recall the remarkable victory of my Thunder Mountain gnomes at the Christmas Fayre in Sherwood Forest.  Well, I have just heard that our gallant gnome archers have been challenged to a new tournament for 2012.  It is to be held in the mysterious glades of the Black Forest in Germany, with a home side known simply as The Black Elves.

I have to admit that the gnomes are somewhat out of shape and I will get them to become re-acquainted with their bows.  I fear Wimpl the Unwilling may take some persuading again. Sigh.


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LAST YEAR'S EPIC VICTORY (Sherwood Forest 2011):

The amazing gnomes have won the archery trophy at the Legendary Creatures' Christmas Fayre in Sherwood Forest - despite some setbacks along the way.

The team walked the early rounds - seeing off the goblins and an impressive group of dwarven bowmen with relative ease. However, things became more tricky in the semi-final when the gnomes faced a team of highly skilled wood elves. Troubled gnome, Wimpl the Unwilling, caused an upset by refusing to come out of the refreshments tent and cost the team a round. Also at this stage, Bundl Fugglebum and Findl Nettlecrusher were becoming worse the wear to Thunder Ale, and Bundl accidently misfired an arrow into the Faerie Queen's giant yule log.

In the final the Robin Hood All Stars were on the cusp of certain victory when Fugglebum fired off a miraculous shot, pulling the gnomes' chestnuts out of the fire and saving the day. 

We look forward to celebrating their victory with them at the Christmas feast.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Yorkshire Ridings Magazine - We're on the Christmas books list! #ChildrensBooks

 
Well, we are beginning to feel some of the festive magic here at the citadel - even though it is still only November!
 
I am pleased to say that two of Mike's novellas have been featured in the Christmas edition of Yorkshire Ridings Magazine. You can see for yourself:
 
 
 






Splendid!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Chaosifier - Six Sentence Sunday - October 28th



Midway through the book the chaos machine is beginning to have an increasingly detrimental effect on society. The story has now moved to London, and in this case, a mild-mannered school school teacher has been 'inspired' to organise a terrorist group to hold a supermarket to ransom in Acton Town. Their simple and misguided objective is to 'change product labelling'!

In the face of a growing crimewave, the British government has decided to call in special forces - just as a precaution, of course. The British Prime Minister has absolutely no intention of using them. However, the increasingly random and shocking effects of the Chaosifier are about to be witnessed: In a moment of confusion the SAS are sent in to quell the so-called 'terrorists'. They believe they are facing fanatical and deadly foes. And the SAS do not mess around:


"The SAS blew the back door of the supermarket warehouse off with enough explosives to put a hole in a battleship.  Using advanced room clearing techniques, the troopers filtered into the building and readied their flash-bangs as they approached the corridor leading to the shop floor.  Squinting through the lenses of his gas-mask, the lead soldier surveyed the sturdy door ahead and nodded at a trooper with a shotgun, who tentatively padded over to the door.  As he approached the door, he could see the red laser-sight beams of MP5 machine guns scanning over the door like a giant barcode.  He raised his portal-busting Remington shotgun to the door, and listened to the stun grenades being primed behind him.  He knew it was time to do his job..."


The situation is set. Only the Bifurs (luck goblins) can possibly save the gentle hostage takers...


Come and have a look at lots of  lovely literary nuggets on Six Sentence Sunday:





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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Hit Squad movie @superpixelbros


Well folks,

I must say I am getting the hang of this thing called 'Twitter'.

Mike is a big fan of all things retro in the world of video games and tells me he loves the idea behind this film. His eyes sometimes glaze over with talk of the early days, with Atari this, and ZX81 that.  I am not entirely sure what he is on about but I do my best to humour him. 

Anyhow,  Roddy Stones, the lead singer of the band in the forthcoming movie, appeared out of the blue and made his charismatic presence felt.  Follow the links below to have a look at this wonder in 8-bit pixellation:


http://ilovethehitsquad.com/





http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hit_Squad

@superpixelbros

@RoddyStones


Best of luck to Chris and Jordy in the project. We wish you well.

ML



Thursday, 18 October 2012

Campaign of the Gods on Six Sentence Sunday - October 21st



Six Sentences from Campaign of The Gods.

Legendary Viking berserker Ivar Ragnarsson unwittingly finds himself involved in a board game being played by Norse gods Týr and Thor. Mysterious forces have somehow transported him through space and time to a location in present day Yorkshire, where he has the task of saving the locals from very dark forces indeed. 

The Viking army arrive in random locations in present day Hopfield and, like his men, poor Ivar hasn't a clue where he is at first:


"...On arriving, confused and terrified, the Viking leader was experiencing an overpowering cold and darkness.  An ungodly humming noise filled his ears and the icy blast of an arctic wind chilled his exposed flesh.  Fearing he had died and failed to find paradise in Valhalla, Ivar thought the worst - he had ended up in Hel – to be punished for eternity.  A fact he did not face very well.
            “Oh, Odin, have mercy!” he pleaded to the icy darkness in his Old Norse tongue.  He was surprised by the reply coming through the gloom...."


Come and have a look at lots of  tasty literary morsels on Six Sentence Sunday:

www.sixsunday.com



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Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Spirit Archer on Six Sentence Sunday - 14th October



Six sentences from The Spirit Archer


Robin Hood comes to the rescue in the present day and a crowd of people are dumbfounded by his arrival.

He is definitely not your ordinary, every-day kind of fellow:


"The crowd parted like the Red Sea for Moses – and onlookers gasped at the very sight of the man. He was athletic and tall, with a shock of lustrous black hair. He appeared about thirty years old.  An aura glowed about him, giving him the incredible presence of the other world.  His steps carried the echo of ages, and he bore the powerful smell of ancient forests – of wood, moss and wild flowers.  A girl swooned as he walked past her, but he saw the movement, and caught her in an instant, lowering her gently to the ground."   



Come and have a look at lots of other lovely book excerpts on the splendid Six Sentence Sunday:

http://www.sixsunday.com/


Thank you Michel Vaillancourt for the recommendation.




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Sunday, 7 October 2012

Autumn at the Citadel

autumn,leaves,nature,plants,seasons,dry


Oh how I love autumn here at the citadel.


There is just something magical about this time of year. Down in the village the locals are hard at work harvesting the crops and gathering fruit.  It was reported that Old Man Wenceslas took a couple of barrels of his 'Harvest Moon Special' to the village square last weekend and that a good time was had by one and all. Mysteriously, one or two of the men have finally showed up again after disappearing for over a week. Goodness knows where they had got to, and the odd markings and rips on their clothing have raised an eyebrow or two.  I am sure that they will get an earful of rancour from their wife-folk.  But, I guess that's Harvest Moon Special for you.  Whether it is able to temporarily able to transform people into beasts remains the stuff of hearsay. However, I am beginning to suspect that it actually might.

So, things are just grand.  The fireplaces are aglow and the log piles are high.  I am enjoying the occasional walk with Ruby in the woods and I can sense the first frosts are near.  Even the gnomes are excited by the russet and gold colours of the leaf sugars.

Hope you are well.

ML

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Chaosifier - FR*E on #Kindle until Oct 1st!




Amazon USA link


Amazon UK link


A storm is brewing.

High on a mountain in Central Europe a vengeful chaos lord has managed to get a terrifying device to do his bidding. The future of the whole of mankind is at stake, and only a plucky band of luck goblins can possibly stop him.

There's just the troublesome matter of a crime wave, global financial meltdown, and WW3 to deal with first...

A rip-roaring fantasy adventure from the author of The Spirit Archer.


Review excerpts:

“The magical concepts in the book are creative and engaging, yet the characters can be easily related to and the magic weaves through a world the reader knows. The result is an enchanting story that is thought-provokingly possible.” -- debzi f, Amazon UK

“The story is well written, fast paced and hard to put down! The journey across snowy Europe reminded me of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. There are also elements of the story which would appeal to fans of The Hobbit and Harry Potter.” -- Jelly Bean, Amazon UK

“I thought it topical funny and found it hard to put down, or in this case turn off. Overall I found it very enjoyable and different.” -- TarquiniusTastebuds, Amazon UK

“Mike Evers' The Chaosifier is a joyful fantasy/ boy's own adventure story with a touch of satire. Think The Borrowers mixed with Mission Impossible and the knockabout humour of Dad's Army and Four Lions!” -- Paul D Brazill, Amazon

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Hidden Gems - Mountains of Smoke by Frank Duffy


I have quite a few visitors to the citadel sometimes and I would like to mention quite an old friend who goes by the name of Frank Duffy. Back in the day we used to create quite a stir together when we used to frequent various hostelries and ale houses.

I thought it might be a good idea to highlight some of the work he has done as I feel that far too few people know about him, and he deserves a mention.  He is very witty and acerbic as well as dark in his writing.  He quite often eschews self publicity, which is why I believe he needs a mention. Anyway, do not just take my word for it. Read about him here:

Mountains of Smoke is one of his works. The novella captures his 'dark' style. 




Goodreads reviews about MOS:

Frank Duffy’s novella, Mountains Of Smoke, is the story of a fiction writer and his wife who buy an ancient gothic castle called Rock Hill that sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking a river. The couple, along with their young son, move into Rock Hill and for years everything is wonderful. But then one winter a tragic death. To cope with his sorrow and loneliness he immerses himself in his writing but not the usual drama type writing, his stories have taken on a decidedly darker tone and morphed into horror as he slowly slips over the edge, into the depths of crazy town. Something is now living down in the river and in order for his books to be successful, it requires feeding, and it’s appetite is most foul.

This is a disturbing and macabre story reminiscent of Stephen King that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. The atmosphere is dark and truly creepy with the pervasive sense of dread and suspense through out. Frank Duffy’s writing is poetic, evocative and rich in detail. Prose that will make you want to read and re-read them. Like this one: "...and a drowned memory comes finally dragging itself up the sand, the bank, through the marsh and weeds, and stares up at me, the face like a pebble, round and hard and unyielding."

Be on the look out for Frank Duffy’s collection of short stories titled The Signal Block, coming out this fall. I’ve read it and it’s brilliant. Highly recommended.
  

 Julia Madeleine (author)



Mountains Of Smoke is the debut novella from horror writer Frank Duffy.
It is a splendidly told story of a writer who has it all. Success, both financial and critical, a wonderful wife - herself a writer – and a young son.

The family move into to Rock Hill, an old dark house that looks like a castle and overlooks a river. And their happiness continues to blossom and bloom.
But every dream home has its heartache, of course, and one day, as a bitter winter wanes, tragedy strikes and a creature surfaces from the depths of the long, black river.
Mountains Of Smoke is wonderfully written. It is strong on atmosphere and imagery and aches with the sadness and emptiness of loss. And the evil that fills that void

Frank Duffy’s short story collection, The Signal Block, is due out soon and should confirm his growing reputation of one of the very best writers of dark fiction around 


Paul Brazill (author)


So, what are you waiting for? Mountains of Smoke and more of Frank's work are availaible from the Sideshow Press website.  Have a gander:

http://sideshowpressonline.com

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Vikings and Norse Mythology


Here is a blog post about Vikings which Mallory kindly put on her blog:

http://archiestandwoodsreviewsandwritings.blogspot.co.uk/

I would like to take the opportunity to post it again. I hope you like it.


My new book is called Campaign of the Gods and it is the second story in a collection of work I plan to call The Hopfield Tales.  The first story is called The Spirit Archer, and both have been published by the wonderful GMTA Publishing. 



Perhaps my main motivation for writing these urban fantasy tales is that I have a toddler son and I’m imagining what I think he’d like to read when he’s about 12-years-old.  The stories feature characters who are medieval soldiers, Viking berserkers, Norse gods etc. Real boys’ stuff, I suppose.  I’m trying to imaging what I’d like to read if I was that age. I’m attracted to the idea of magic and wonder in the world around us, and seeing that I live in Yorkshire I am applying actual local history, legends and locations to my stories. For Spirit Archer there is the very real location of Robin Hood’s grave in the ruins of a nunnery near my home. Norse mythology is a rich seam to mine for urban fantasy and, like with Spirit Archer, I’m trying to bring new angles to the subject matter.

For Campaign, there is the fact that Vikings did live in Yorkshire hundreds of years ago, and the main hero, Ivar Ragnarsson, is a Norse commander who changed history in England over a thousand years ago.  At one time England was divided into an Anglo-Saxon half (the south) and a Danish (Viking) half, which was the north part, including Yorkshire.  In the north of England a lot of the dialect and place names have a Scandinavian influence. Towns ending in –by or -thorpe, for example, are Norse in origin (Whitby, Grimsby, Scunthorpe...). Furthermore, some words are used in spoken northern-English dialect, such as the word ‘beck’ for river and ‘scran’ for a bite to eat.  That’s not even including the huge number of every day English words used throughout the world today that are Viking in origin e.g. sister, window, happy – the list is endless.

Most of the Vikings who lived in Britain were a peaceful bunch.  They were farmers, town dwellers and craftsmen – everyday people.  You could say they were simply settlers from Denmark and Norway who integrated fairly easily into the population.  But, everyone is more fascinated with the Viking raiders and warriors. We would be, wouldn’t we? Despite the fact they caused all sorts of misery and carnage when they decided to loot and plunder Merrie Olde England.  Ivar Ragnarsson and the Great Heathen Army were not Vikings of the early raider type, but were part of a later, major force of Viking who invaded Britain and Europe and shaped medieval history and politics in a big way.  For me they are perfect candidates for my story.  And they are not the villains of the piece, they are the heroes.

The world of Norse people was a world before science and enlightenment.  Their beliefs were shaped and augmented by a pantheon of gods and goddesses, who helped explain and govern the world around them – from fertility, plants and crops, through to love, prudence and anger, amongst countless other things. The gods gave meaning to their life and put it in a context of past, present and future.  Norse mythology helped bring light to a life full of unexplainables (e.g. thunder and lightning) and pointed the way to an afterlife.  It became part of the English way of looking at things and the Norse gods worked their way into the language. Tuesday is derived from an anglicised version of the Norse God of Battle, Tyr (Tyr or Tiw’s day); Wednesday is derived from Odin (Wotan’s day); and Thursday is the day of Thor.

So, when writing a story about Vikings, Norse mythology offers a fascinating and rich body of characters and legends to work with.  Tyr, Thor and the others provide the reason why events in Campaign of the Gods are happening and help show us the world that Ivar and his men belong to.  And for me it is wonderful to write about them. My Thor is not the awesome warrior god that we know about – he is the leisurely, over-indulgent Thor that sits in his palace playing, feasting and drinking when he’s not off slaying trolls and giants.  My gods are all-powerful, but prone to misjudgements and emotions.  I hope you warm to them.

I could ramble on for hours about Vikings and Norse mythology, but I guess it’s time to tie it up.  I like to inject a bit of history to my stories (I have a degree in History) and there is quite often a message which I hope my young son will take on board - be it being decent, working-hard or the value of self-sacrifice.  Finally, I just have to say I love legends and mythology. If I could have my way, I’d be living in a Britain that still had vast ancient forests, swirling mists and mischievous fairies – but that wouldn’t be very practical, would it?

Friday, 10 August 2012

Campaign of the Gods by Mike Evers - out now!!!


I am honoured to announce that Campaign of the Gods is finally out on Kindle.  The paperback version will follow in the next week or two.



Campaign is the second of The Hopfield Tales and is a companion novella to The Spirit Archer.

Mike is aiming to add one more story to the collection of tales, which is likely to be out early next year. 

Campaign of the Gods is an action romp based on Norse mythology and Vikings.  Whereas Spirit Archer is based on the Robin Hood legend in Yorkshire and the actual location of a gravestone near the author's home, the latest tale involves legendary Viking leader Ivar Ragnarsson, who dwelt in Yorkshire over a thousand years ago.  Ragnarsson's Danish 'Great Heathen Army' made its mark in English history and there is still evidence of the influence of the Danes in the dialect, etymology and traditions of northern England today.

However, I do not think Ivar and his men were expecting to return to Yorkshire in such...erm... interesting circumstances...

    

Links:





Thursday, 5 July 2012

Character Reveal #3 - Campaign of the Gods

Berserker (Bear-shirt): 

A Norse warrior said to have fought battle in a state of trance-like fury, after inducing the rage psychologically or possibly through narcotic substances. 

Berserkers were quite often employed as elite ‘shock troops’, due to the unstoppable frenzy in which they fought.

The word ‘berserker’ is derived from the Norse words ‘serkr’ meaning shirt, and ‘ber’ meaning bear.  Bear pelts being a typical part of their attire.


                                                                 Viking Raven Symbol

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Ruby's Recommendations: McDroll, Vaillancourt, Kempe, Sobieck and more


Well, I'm pleased to say the renovations here at the citadel are going swimmingly, and we should have a new recreation centre for the gnomes, as well much improved facitlities for guests.  Princess Ruby has been supervising proceedings very closely indeed I must say.  However, she has also been urging me to make a list of some of her favourite authors. Ruby says you really must have a look at them and their work. 

So, ever faithful, I am doing so now.  In no particular order, thelist is as follows:

  • McDroll (aka Fiona) -  A wonderful Scottish lady who has done some tremendous short stories.  Ruby is particularly enjoying The Wrong Delivery series at the moment, which she says are both funny and eye-wateringly shocking.
The Wrong Delivery - Corrin's Eyes



  • Michel Vaillancourt  - Splendid Canadian fellow who writes in the Steampunk genre.  A genre which had be baffled for a while, but turns out to be amazing. Think Jules Verne, airships, and feisty damsels.  Michel has just re-released his popular adventure, The Sauder Diaries: By Any Other Name, in a fantastic new edition.
The Sauder Diaries - By Any Other Name


  • Graham Smith - Another person who lives is bonnie Scotland.  Ruby is raving about his brand new selection of short stories, called Gutshots.  You can guess by the title that this is not Winnie the Pooh.
Gutshots: Ten Blows to the Abdomen

  •  C Margery Kempe - An enigmatic lady whose saucy, humorous and creative erotic stories have been known to make quite a few of the parlour maids blush.  My faithful butler, Stanislav, even found one by accident and I swear it made his glasses steam up! 
Chastity Flame


  •  Ben Sobieck - A talented and witty wordsmith who hails from the frozen, northern US state of Minnesota.  One of his characters, Maynard Soloman, even had my chaos network under investigation for a few weeks. Talk about temerity!  Ruby is currently engrossed in his novel, Cleansing Eden.
Cleansing Eden - The Celebrity Murders

  • Paul Brazill  - Honorary Gnome Master and citadel legend.  I am still recovering for the evening out we had a couple of weeks ago, and have only just been released from the doghouse by my beloved Ruby.  Paul has sent us a paperback copy of Drunk on the Moon, which is proving very popular with the gnomes.
Drunk on the Moon: A Roman Dalton Anthology


Oh well, that is it for now. I hope you look at these fine authors and their work.  They come highly recommended by my beloved wife, and I can assure you - she is always right.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Character Reveal #2 - from Campaign of the Gods

A (well known) character from forthcoming novella - Campaign of the Gods.

On the good side or bad side? What do you reckon?

Thor:  Norse god of thunder, lightning and storms. 

A mighty warrior, Thor is the protector of both Asgard (the realm of the gods) and Midgard (Earth – the realm of humans), a task for which he carries the mighty war hammer known as Mjollnir.

When not smiting giants Thor is known to enjoy drinking and feasting with friends and family in his vast castle, Bilskirnir, which lies in the realm of Thrud-vang (literally ‘Strength Fields’).
His name is the origin of the English word ‘Thursday’.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Spirit Archer - FR*E on #Kindle Wed 6th and Thurs 7th June

The Spirit Archer is a FREE Kindle download on Amazon sites on Wednesday 6th June and Thursday 7th June.

Now is your chance to bag this wonderful coming-of-age story for nothing!


                                     Amazon UK link

                                    Amazon USA link

Campaign of the Gods - Trailer

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