Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Are You Ready for the 2016 Ray Bradbury Writing Challenge?

Ray Bradbury was a hugely popular science fiction author best known for his novel Fahrenheit 451 and it is one of his many inspiring writing tips that will be heavily influencing me for 2016.

Ray Bradbury argues that;

"When you start writing short stories, the quality doesn’t really matter; you’re practicing your craft. At the end of the year, you’ll have 52 short stories. It’s almost impossible not to have at least one good story among those 52. Writing short stories will teach you to be constantly looking for ideas. In addition, every week you’ll be happy, because by the end of each week you’ll have something to show for your efforts."

Wise words indeed and as 2015 draws to  a close it's time to set out some new targets for my literary pursuits. I've found that setting myself targets is a great way to stay focused at motivated.

I've been very fortunate to have had a few short stories published in 2015 in the wonderful Sanitarium Magazine, Siren's Call Publications, Deadman's Tome, Innersins and Bewildering Stories and I hope it will continue into 2016.

However as a beginning writer there is HUGE scope for improvement in my stories and so my challenge for 2016 is to write at least one short story per week every week. Even as I write this I highly doubt whether I'll be able to acheive this but even if I only write 20 tales, that's still 20 tales!

I think that to be a sucessful writer you need so much more than the ability to write well.
You also need to be able to back up your creative talents with brute force in the forms of ruthlessness discipline and a lot of determination.

Never give up, never give in :)

About the Author

S.J.Budd is a writer of all things weird and creepy. Previously her tales have been featured on Deandman's Tome,  Sanitarium Magazine, Dark Gothic Resurrected, Liquid Imagination, Aphotic Realm, Aurora Wolf, Aphelion, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, The Wild Hunt, Danse Macabre, Shadows at the Door, Inner Sins, Bewildering Stories, Siren's Call and many more.
She lives at www.sjbudd.co.uk  and  @sjbuddj 
Spells and Persuasions, her debut collection of short stories of horror and dark fantasy is available now in paperback and kindle from Amazon

Sanitarium Magazine Issue 33

Sanitarium is a monthly horror magazine that brings you the best cutting edge horror fiction, dark verse and macabre entertainment. It's a fantastic read and I heartily recommend it to anyone who loves horror. It's out on the 20th of every month and is available in print and download from Amazon.

Sanitarium is about to release it's landmark 40th edition of it's magazine. To mark this special occasion the editor of Sanitarium Magazine, Barry Skelhorn has been interviewed by Casey Chapman who runs a wonderful blog called Severed Scissors. If you're a fan of the wonderful Saniatarium Magazine do check out this excellent interview here.

Issue 33 features outstanding original fiction from the most exciting up and coming horror authors. There's also articles; Re-skinning Werewolves by R.Donald James Gauvreau and a review of Sharkpunk Stories with Bite ( edited by Jonathen Green) by Kit Power. There's also a great interview with legendary horror author Adam Millard.

And on top of all that is dark verse from Thayli, J.E.Remy, Aracelly P.Campo & Vince Rodriguez and brilliant cover art from Kevin Spencer 

Help support horror's finest and talented authors by buying your copy!

Wriggle Room ~ Scott Farrell

Senator Mason Grant is a Grade A asshole, he treats people who cross him with the same ruthlessness he shows to any unwelcome visitors into his home. But sooner or later what goes around comes around. This is a great read that capitavates til the end.

For Fame, For Fortune, For a Commemorative Statue ~ James Park

A life- long rivalry drives  Micheal Milenko to great extremes, but in the end he comes out top securing fame and fortune, but is it all it cracked up to be? Many people dream of living a celebrity lifestyle but at what cost? Will Michael find it as wonderful as he dared to beleive? A great tale that's unsettling and brooding.

Say the Number ~ Emir Skalonja

With great skill this tale starts off light and cheery but soon descends into darkness.Selena Thatcher is obsessed with numbers and believes that numbers can explain everything one needs to know about life. But they can't explain this...

Vicious Circle ~ Stephen Grassie

Set in the Glasgow's subway station Stephen Grassie weaves a dark tale of a tortured soul looking for salvation.Just another young twenty something trying to carve out a life for themselves. Lorna has dreams and aspirations just like everyone else but what must she do to get ahead in life? This a great tale with a truly macabre ending.

Beautiful Teeth ~ Abigail Lalonde

This story reminds one of an old fairy tale yet is thoroughly modern. It's expertly written with a sly dash of humour. People will do anything for a lovely smile.

You can find Abigail Lalonde on twitter @rabbit_rabbit

Never My Love ~ Jason Christopher

Never my love is a very dark but sweet tale of finding that one special person whom you go so crazy for you'd do anything for them. Nothing seems impossible for two people once they're in love as illustrated with this short tale.

Jason Christopher is co-founder of Grave Matters Magazine.

Coker ~ Dominic Stabile

This little tale is similiar to the Stephen King method of writing a story. You take a character and place them in am impossible situation and sit back and watch them trying to deal with it. But this is highly original story and in  a style Stabile can call his own. A dark grisly tale of a desperate situation in which the past comes back to taunt and ridicule whilst the future looms over like a ticking bomb.


Meal Deal ~ Ian Sputnik

Albert James Kinloch with his wife Dorothy are searching for the perfect British pub. At first it seems a sweet idyllic tale of a happily married couple enjoying their twilight years but of course this is a Sanitarium tale. A great read which is funny as well as dark. If you enjoyed this tale Ian Sputnik has previously had his fiction published in issue 25 and 31 in Sanitarium Magazine.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

How to Write for Fun

I've recently finished a second draft of a novel I have been writing for the last two years and although it was an incredible feeling to get that far, it has left me really drained. I feel like I need a six month break from writing but am fearful my writing may suffer. I also worry whether this is the beginning of a serious bout of the dreaded writer's block.

It's taken a year of hard graft to complete the second draft and towards the end working on it day after day it was beginning to feel like a chore which for me is a massive warning sign that something is going wrong in my novel. Recently, I read a great tip on writing which warned that if you're not having fun writing it, no one is going to have fun reading it.

Then I came across this great little article on Buzzfeed written by Hayley Campbell, about the writing style of Neil Gaiman. He talks about how he writes all his novels by hand. For example his novel Stardust was set in the past and he bought a fountain pen and leather journal to see if it would affect his writing.

The results were great, (quote from said Buzzfeed article)

“And it did, it really did. I was sparser, I would think my way through a sentence further, I would write less, in a good way. And when I typed it up, it became a very real second draft – things would vanish or change. I discovered that I enjoyed messing about with fountain pens, I even liked the scritchy noise the pen nib made on the paper."

Instantly I thought this was a brilliant idea of taking your writing back to basics. It was how I used to write when I was a child, when I first discovered my love of making up stories in my head and transferring them to paper. So I'd thought I'd give it a try. Being incredibly left handed I decided that a fountain pen would be too smudgey so I went for a biro and notepad.

I had an idea for a story that I wanted to explore. I had no idea whether it would take the form of a short story or novel. I just wanted to play with it. I wanted it to be a fun project where I could just have fun and not worry whether it was any good whilst I recuperated from my novel writing marathon.

Because I wanted it to be fun I didn't sit down and spend hours meticulously planning my story before I started to write. My aim was just to sit back and see where the characters took me, let them do the hard work for a change. I simply had a vague ending in mind and just began to write...

I'm an avid reader. I always have to have a least one book on the go. I love reading for I love going on adventures in other people's imaginations. But now I wanted to go on an adventure in my own, through my own writing.

I also set myself an easy task of writing for just one hour a day and through using a notepad it's incredibly easy to sneak in ten minutes here and there no matter how busy you are. Within  a few days of starting I had loads of pages completed. For the sheer fun of it I began to draw pictures to accompany my story.

And something amazing has happened. My imagination has sparked, it feels as potent as a child's. But most importantly it's just so much fun I find myself even waking up at night itching to do some writing.

Even just the simple act of drawing a few pictures really helps with plot advancement and descriptions. It's like rediscovering where my love and reading and writing began as a child where I would write stories and draw picture to accompany them.

I honestly have no idea of where this story is going or whether it will be any good but writing it is just so much fun and I'm finally on an adventure of my own.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

How to Write a Brilliant First Chapter

The first chapter in your book is the most important chapter for a number of reasons

  • It must be able to convince a reader to read it right until the end which is a big commitment of time and effort
  • Not only does it need to convince your readers of the worthiness of your book but also any agents or publishers. These people are hard to please, they may be extremely sceptical when they begin

If your first chapter isn't brilliant no one is going to carry on reading your wonderful tale and an unread book is a terrible thing. It's no good having some brilliant chapters at the end or middle of your novel if the first one isn't up to par.

When writing and editing your  undiscovered masterpeice it's a good idea to think of the first chapter as a thank- you to the reader for turning the pages. You should reward your readers at the tale's beginning, not just at the end. 

Your first chapter should be like a showcase, use it to show off your linguistic prowess. Show your writing to it's best capabilities. Make your readers weep at your mastery! Throw a few hints as to what they can expect if they carry on reading.

So how can you make your first chapter brilliant?

At the earliest opportunity insert a killer hook for your readers. This is the bait to entice your readers which will keep them reading to the end.

A killer hook is an essential question which is raised in a story, a question so enticing that a reader will want to read your story from beginning to end without pausing for breath. Be warned you must raise a brilliant question and answer it in a way that will leave your reader satisfied and entertained. The plot of your story will be based your killer question so make sure it is relevant and able to sustain the whole story.

You need to raise more intruiging questions than answers, people love mystery, they also love to guess and figure things out without being told. In my experience of being a slush pile reader many unsucessful authors make the mistake of giving away too much tedious information at the beginning which prevents the reader becoming interested. If you want to keep your readers reading, keep them guessing.

In every great tale there are great characters that leap off the page and into the readers hearts. They must be intruiging at the very least as they guide your reader through your tale. Not all your characters need to be wildly charismatic but do pull out all the stops for your protagonist. They will also need to make an entrance that is worthy of a leading man or lady.

Your first chapter should contain a unusual scenario or desperate situation that your protagonist has found themselves in. The reader will be intrigued to see if and how they can get out of trouble. The more impossible the situation the better.

And last but not least, do make sure that your grammar and punctuation is spot on. Yes it's the most boring aspect of writing but it's necessary. A polished manuscript with correct grammar and punctuation will look professional to agents and publishers. It will make for easier reading.

Good luck, never give in never give up

Friday, 6 November 2015

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline is a dark children's story that's not for the faint of heart. It centres around a remarkable little girl, Coraline Jones who moves with her parents to a new home which holds a secret door.

Coraline has gone on to win the 2002 Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young readers, the 2003 Hugo Award for Best Novella  as well as the 2003 Nebula Award for Best Novella.

This is the third book I have read by Neil Gaiman and as usual I have not been left disappointed. Neil Gaiman possesses an extraordinary ability to take one of his unique characters and just leave them all alone in a most ridiculous situation facing the most dire circumstances. I have to admit when I read his books I always think this character will never find their way out of this hell hole. The plot seems too preposterous, Gaiman will never get out of this alive. But each time he creates these fantastic stories. His stories are so strange believable. They seem to write themselves. I am incredibly jealous of his writing.

Whilst reading this I had to check it was actually a story aimed at children. It is so dark and disturbing but a delight to read. If  I was a child reading this I would be sh*t scared, and I agree completely with Gaiman who has said that it is good for children to scared, "as long as the fear is on the page."

It has an incredible gothic feel and utterly absorbing. I kept praying that Coraline would just wake up and see that it was all just a dream. I really felt like I was stepping into another world, and that's what I love about reading.

But Coraline is so much more than a scary tale, as Gaiman himself has said, "it is not a story about fear, but one about bravery."

Monday, 2 November 2015

The Dark Land: A book of Cornish Ghost Stories by Mary Williams

To me Cornwall is a wild and magical landscape still deeply in touch with its celtic roots and influences. A little corner of the British Isles where pixies and other fey creatures still roam. There's magic in the air. If you've never been to Cornwall you're missing out on a wonderful experience.

This little book is one of those books that just mysteriously appear in your life. The short ghostly tales within capture beautifully the raw undiluted Cornish landscape and its  lingering aura of forgotten arcane history. This is not the Cornwall that the tourists know and love but of the older primal Cornwall.

The author, Mary Williams is just as mysterious as her wonderful tales. She has written dozens of books yet there is very little information about her. She was born in 1928 and lived in Cornwall from 1947 until she died at the grand age of 97. She has published an impressive 17 volumes of ghost stories as well as romantic novels, all set in Cornwall. It's a shame she is not as well known as other great Cornish  writers such as Daphne Du Maurier who wrote Jamaica Inn and Rebecca, and Winston Graham, author of the Poldark novels.

I really loved these stories featured in The Dark Land, so much so that when I had finished I simply started reading them again. This volume was published in 1975 and although some stories seem dated they are utterly charming yet macabre. Stand out favourites for me include Far End, Hickory-Dickory Dock and Guppa.

Inside this book you'll find tales of lonely ghosts, macabre forces, shapeshifters, strange places that transcend time and avenging revenants.



"At other times she explored the moors, with a sense of mounting primitive excitement as she neared the cromlech, a wild atavistic place of gaunt rocks, secret boggy pools and clutching wind-swept undergrowth. In great fingers shapes, the stones stood against the sky, defying it seemed, humanity's encroachment."

Emily Bacon is a grieving widow who is determined not to let her grief swallow her whole, purchases an old run down cottage in a "very of the way place." deep within Cornwall. She has grand designs to restore the cottage and the garden to glory. She will begin again, but the locals aren't so keen. They do not want her there and try everything they can to make her leave, this makes her even more determined to stay and find out why she is so unwelcome.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

The Secret Lake in Bowmere Industrial Estate by S.J.Budd

I've been fortunate enough to have one of my short stories accepted for Bewildering Stories in issue 639. In this tale I've moved away from horror, this is my attempt at comedy writing, hopefully it hasn't gone too badly!

It's very loosely based on a very old legend,that has captivated me since I was a little girl. Try and see if you can guess which one it is. You can read it for free on the link below.

The Secret Lake in Bowmere Industrial Estate by S.J.Budd

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Madam Spizak's Home for Little Boys and Girls

It gives me great pleasure to announce that one of my short stories has been published in the rather excellent InnerSins magazine.

You can read it here 

"A young woman with a caring heart and a giving spirit helps a young waif on the street and finds her way into a nightmare. To survive, she must go against her very nature to escape the horror." 

If you would like to submit your work to InnerSins or any other magazine that features dark fantasy and horror fiction click here for a list of magazines currently accepting submissions.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Some children's books are too good to be only enjoyed by children, Fablehaven is one such example. It's like reading the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time, when I first read Fablehaven it was like being a kid again and seeing the world with innocent wonder and curiosity.

Had I read this book as a child my life would have been different. I would have been on the first plane, armed with a packed lunch and my trusty cereal box, to Connecticut to look for Fablehaven.
I most definitely would have drank a lot more milk.

Fablehaven, written by Brandon Mull is a remarkable debut. It's the first of a series which includes; Rise of the Evening Star, Grip of the Shadow Plague, Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary and Keys to the Demon Prison. In 2012 Schaffer Studios announced it had bought the rights and Fablehaven the movie is currently in production.

It starts off with siblings Kendra and Seth being forced to stay with their mysterious grandparents whilst their parents embark on a two week cruise in Scandinavia. They think they're in for an incredibly boring stay but unknown to them their grandparents are the caretakers of Fablehaven; a sanctuary for all magical creatures. Fablehaven is a truly delightful story, a treasure to read and discover. In this book you'll meet fairies, nympths, golems, trolls, satyrs, witches, imps and many others.This is one of those books that can be enjoyed by "grown ups," as well as children.

From a parents' point of view this is a book that I can't wait to share with my children as I know they will love it. Not only is it a great story, it teaches children that things are not as they seem, actions have consequences and sometimes rules are there for a reason.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Should I Avoid Adverbs When Writing?

What are adverbs?

Adverbs are words employed to modify a verb, adjective or other adverbs.

The cat walked slowly.

The adverb is slowly, it is describing how the cat was walking. It described further the verb which was walked.

The cat was particularly ruthless. 

Here the adverb particularly is describing the adjective ruthless.

The cat walked very slowly.

The adverb phrase very slowly, describes the verb walked.

Why should adverbs be avoided in your writing?

Because Stephen King said so. Whether or not you rate his books he really knows what he's talking about and is probably one of the most successful writers on the planet. He's written 54 novels, 6 non-fiction books and 200 short stories. So yeah, he's knows what he's talking, or should I say writing, about. 

Using too many adverbs is generally considered lazy writing. Excessive use of adverbs tells your story rather than tell. This is something to be avoided at all costs.

Consider this sentence.

The killer entered the house silently.

Sounds alright, but it could be a lot better. 

The killer. without any betrayal of noise gained access to the house.

It's also important to not use unnecessary adverbs

She quickly raced away from the seriously annoyed elf.

She quickly  raced away from the seriously annoyed elf.

No one races slowly unless they're a tortoise, and no one is ever happily annoyed. The removal of these adverbs have no effect on the meaning of the sentence and so are not really needed.

If we return to the sentences used to define adverbs at the top of this article, you can see they are unnecessary.

The cat was particularly ruthless. 

The cat walked very slowly.

How to avoid adverbs in your writing?

I think we're all guilty of using unnecessary adverbs as illustrated above. When editing your work these should be the first to go. Adverbs can really slow down the pace of your story which is bad news if you want to keep your readers entertained. This should be your prime motivation when writing, if your readers aren't entertained they won't read your work.

Next time you're editing your work, try removing all your adverbs and if the meaning of the sentence is still intact, maybe it's a good thing to leave them out.

However adverbs are there for a reason so do use them. They are useful in telling the reader how a particular action was done and the way in which it was done.

Just don't overuse them.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Sanitarium Magazine - Issue 32

Sanitarium Digital Issue

Sanitarium is a magazine that brings you the best cutting edge horror fiction, dark verse and macabre entertainment. It's a fantastic read and I recommend to anyone who loves horror. It's out on the 20th of every month and is available in print and download from Amazon.

In issue 32 there are eight brilliant short stories, incredible dark verse from William.J.Hugel, H.H.Bond, Colin Browen. There are two interviews with award winning writer Craig Davidson and Benjamin Percy, and if that's not enough there's numerous articles and reviews.

As well as fantastic cover art by the hugely talented Kevin Spencer.

Help support horror's finest and talented authors by buying your copy!

Flesh or Fantasy by Gwendolyn Kiste

We all have our wildest fantasies known to no one but ourselves, but what would happen if they came true? Would our lives be changed for the better?  Should our dreams remains in our heads or come out and join reality?

This brilliant short story explores those ideas right to its bitter end. And if you enjoyed this story and I'm sure you will, Gwendolyn Kiste's work has previously been featured in Sanitarium's issue 29 with the rather excellent and creepy Audrey at Night

You can find out more about Gwendolyn Kiste by visiting her website


C.A.M.P by Kent Rosenberger

A gripping tale of betrayal revenge and survival. Four kids and their scout master go camping in the woods, what could possibly go wrong. As I read this I felt really involved with the story. It starts off with three boys picking on a sweet little boy, Baxter. At first I thought this was going to involve Baxter dishing out some cold revenge "Carrie style" but it's much more deliciously sinister, and the ending is just great

Kent Rosenberger is one prolific author and you can find out more by visiting his Goodreads Author Page and Amazon Author Page

Love Eternal by Pedro Iniguez

Mary has a secret crush on a new neighbour. She dreams of a new life, but is she beyond salvation? She only wants to love and be loved. Is it too much to ask for a love eternal? A quirky and dark tale with a truly macabre ending.


Peripheral Vision by Julie McNeely-Kirwan

How can you escape when you're being hunted by something incomprehensible. A short and punchy tale that expertly explores our fear of the unknown.

Grave Prodigies by Quinn Ramsay

An old letter has resurfaced and sheds light on a disturbing piece of our history, that offers an alternative view of what really happened. A original tale , even more frightening as it seems so realistic, loved the foot notes!

Sick Love Potion by Justin Hamelin

It's often said that love sustains us and in this great tale it has terrifying consequences. Extremely creepy and dark this is a must read. 

Avoidance by Michael Shimek

People often say ignorance is bliss but what if you can't avoid knowing things that other people don't want the answers to? Simon's afraid and he's got good reason to be.


Friends of Murder by Steven J.Anzalone

There's something truly alien in the narrative of this character. He sees the world very differently to how we see it. I was blown away by the quality of prose in this short piece. There is no limits to Steven J.Anzalone's imagination. A truly terrifying tale.

Monday, 10 August 2015

What's a Gerund?

In grammar a gerund is the -ing form of a verb that functions as a noun.

Here's an example

There's a ghost that haunts the abandoned building.

In this sentence the verb form building acts as a noun.

The sorcerer had mighty powers but terrible spelling

Here the verb form spelling acts as a noun in the sentence.

What's an Antecedent?

An antecedent is a word, phrase or noun to which a pro- form such as a pronoun refers to. An antecedent serves to give meaning to a pro-form.

A pro-form often follows its antecedent

Here's an example

The Dwarf who dwelled in the mountains, lost his magic axe.

In this sentence the antecedent is Dwarf , it adds meaning to the pro-noun "who".

The witch appeared by magic to let us know she was running late.

In this sentence the antecedent is witch and the pronoun it refers to is she.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

I'm not a gamer but I was intrigued about this book. It is the source of inspiration for The Witcher, an incredibly popular computer game. Written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski it is the first of two books which are a series of short stories linked cleverly together. The Last Wish is the first book in the series.

The Witcher is a fighter, Geralt from Rivia, who earns his crust by ridding the world of monsters. The Last Wish is certainly fast paced and packed full with tales of many wondrous and macabre creatures such as strigas, vampires, evil genies and tempestuous sorcerers.

Inside this delightful book you'll recognise many of the fairy tales but they won't be as you remember them from your childhood. The people and monsters in this book are not what they seem. Sometimes it is the humans that are the worst creatures of all. You'll be surprised at where your sympathies lay.

You would expect Geralt to be a cold blooded killer intent on bloodshed and annihilation, who's only in the killing business for the money, but you'd be wrong. The Witcher is an intelligent thoughtful man, one who's considerate enough to weigh all options and find the best solution for all involved. He's also incredibly witty and at times incredibly funny.

The setting is perfect and has a real eastern European feel to it, immediately you'll feel right at home in The Last Wish. There's very little tedious details and info dumping, Sapkowski is incredibly creative with his world building.

From an aspiring writer's point of view I really felt like I learnt a lot about writing from reading Sapkowski's The Last Wish. He's a master at telling back story and advancing the plot through dialogue alone whilst keeping the story fast paced and captivating. These are one of those annoying books that you can't put down.

There's already been a television series and film adaptation of these books in Poland which unfortunately did not have great reviews. A great shame, but hopefully due to the massive success of the computer game and also, credit due to the excellent television series Game of Thrones which is opening the door to more great fantasy television and film adaptions, it may get remade. Fingers are crossed!

The great thing is if you read this book and love it as it deserves to be, there are many other novels by Sapkowski. There's a sequel to The Last Wish titled The Sword of Destiny, also a short story collection.

Following on from these short story collections there are three novels featuring Geralt of Rivia these are: Blood Of Elves, Time of Contempt and lastly Baptism of Fire.

Personally I can't wait to read them all.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Thinking About Joining a Writing Group?

 I've been writing on and off for years but recently I've decided to take my writing a lot more seriously. I still write just for the fun of it but I am interested to see how far I could take it if I were to treat it like a career.

A few days ago I took the plunge and joined a writing group. I'd been toying with the idea of joining one for some time. Previously I'd heard mixed reviews about whether they're a good idea and was a bit too shy to join. I wasn't sure if I could handle critisicm at such an early stage of my writing. I also felt it would be hard to criticize other people's work.

It was so nerve wracking posting my first chapter work in the group. Literally I am the only person that has read the first draft of my novel. It's so different to posting a short story. My novel is like my baby, short stories are like one night stands. If people don't like my short stories I'm not too fussed, but to hate my novel would be devastating.

I also got the chance to read others, and was blown away by the quality. Suddenly I felt really happy that these people would critique my work I had a lot to learn from them.

Straight away I was given points to work on which once pointed out to me,seemed so obvious. It's all too easy to get so close to your work that you're not be able to stand back and see the big picture. To see what someone else sees when they read your work is invaluable.

I got good and bad critiques but all were constructive and incredibly helpful.

What I hadn't bargained on was a renewed passion for finishing my book. I don't whether it will be good enough to send off to a publisher but I'm having so much fun writing it. That's all that matters, doing what you love.

Though if I can drastically improve on it  I'd love to take it to the next stage.

I have a feeling this is going to be a very intense process, there's going to be highs and lows. But most importantly it will mean that I'll finish writing my book. I have a strict schedule to stick to which is great as things will definitely get done.

The Last Unicorn, by Peter S.Beagle

The Last Unicorn is one of those books I'd heard so much about and has often been hailed as a classic. Many of my writing heroes, including Patrick Rothfuss, have declared it a masterpiece. He even said it was one of his favourite books, he's probably my favourite writer, so I had to see what it was about. I wasn't sure if it could live up to my expectations.

I was completely wrong.

When you read this book you feel like you are in a dream, its beautifully poetic and resonant. It's easy to see that this mighty classic, originally published in 1968, has inspired authors such as Neil Gaiman. The imagery is luxurious and bewitching. Each sentence is a treasure to read, this book is like a fine wine it should be enjoyed sip by precious sip.

This book takes us on a journey but not your typical cliché journey you so often find in fantasy fiction. It's a delightful children's tale that is intelligent and charming much the amazing 'His Dark Materials'  by Phillip Pullman.

A unicorn all alone in a lilac wood overhears that there are no more unicorns. She refuses to accept this and sets out to find her kin. On her journey she is accompanied by a hapless wizard, embarking on his own quest to discover the true nature of magic. The book is full of interesting and diverse characters. Along the way they meet many lively characters: dark witches, sinister harpies and confused butterflies.

Despite this book being set in a wonderful magical kingdom this book perfectly mirrors life in the real world. This tale is funny, sad, enraging and above all poignant. This is a story of unflinching hope and refusing to give up even when you look like an idiot.

My only regret is not reading this book when I was a child. It's the closest way to be transported into the land of fairies.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

What are Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Clauses?

A clause is a group of words that usually contain a verb and other components. Clauses can form sentences on their own or with other clauses in a compound sentence.

What's a Restrictive Clause?

A restrictive clause provides essential information about a preceding noun within its sentence structure. Without the presence of the restrictive or defining relative clause.

A restrictive clause is usually connect to the other clause/s by the following conjunctions: that, which, whose, who and whom. A comma should not be used in front of a restrictive clause.

The mermaid who accidentally gave pirates the wrong directions, felt silly.

In the above sentence, the mermaid is the restrictive clause.

What's a Non-Restrictive Clause?

A non-restrictive clause  is a clause that provides extra information which is not crucial to the sentence. Again with restrictive clauses, a non-restrictive clause is connected to the other clause/s with the following conjunctions: that, which, whose, who and whom. Again you should not place a comma in front of them.

The mermaid whose hair was always wet, gave the pirates incorrect directions to Atlantis.

In this sentence the non-restrictive clause was - whose hair was always wet . It is simply additional information that is not crucial to the meaning of the sentence.

What's a Clause in a Sentence?

In its most basic form, a clause is a group of words which contain a verb, and other components. Clauses can form a complete sentence on their own, or just form part of a sentence.

The Goblin spat at the butterfly.

The above clause forms a complete sentence, and is the main clause but in the sentence below the same clause forms part of a sentence.

The Goblin spat at the butterfly, as it had been harassing him for some time.

This is an example of a compound sentence that contains two or more clauses linked a conjunction.

What's a Subordinate Clause?

A subordinate clause relies on the main clause for its meaning.

The Goblin spat at the butterfly, as it had been harassing him for some time.

As it had been harassing him for some time is the subordinate clause in the sentence. Without the main clause it makes no sense on its own.

What's a Conditional Clause?

A conditional clause describes something that is possible and usually begins with if or unless.

The Goblin will give that butterfly a piece of his mind, unless it backs off.

Unless it backs off is the conditional clause.

What's a Relative Clause?

A relative clause is connected to a main clause using the following conjunctions: which, where, when that, whom, whose or who.

When the butterfly grew more aggressive, the goblin punched it on the nose.

When the butterfly grew more aggressive - is the relative clause in the above sentence.

What's a Parenthetical Expression?

Parenthetical expressions sound terribly complicated but are really easy to understand and are very commonly used.

So what is a parenthetical expression?

These are expressions, or phrases often found in the middle of a sentence, that disrupts the flow of thought. They do not deal directly with the topic in hand. They are usually offset by commas, parentheses and dashes.

The clauses that precede and follow a parenthetical expression can independently form a complete sentence without the parenthetical expression.

A parenthetical expression is not essential to a sentence.

Let's have a look at some examples:

The cat woke up early that morning, he had mice to catch.

He had mice to catch, the cat woke up early that morning.

A parenthetical phrase can appear at the end or beginning of a sentence.


What's an Indefinite Pronoun?

Understanding what an indefinite pronoun is easy-peasy.

An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun that does not refer to any person, or thing in particular.

Examples of indefinite pronouns include: anything, something, anyone, everyone.

This is how an indefinite pronoun can be used.

There was something in the way

In this sentence the indefinite pronoun is something. It is referring to an unknown entity.

If you need to recap on what exactly is a pronoun, here's a quick reminder.

A pronoun is simply a word used instead of a noun. Here are some examples of pronouns ; I, me, you, he, she, it, that, they, each, who, somebody.
There are three types of pronouns. These are subject pronouns, object pronouns and possessive pronouns.

For more info on pronouns click here

What's a Pronominal Posessive?

This sounds incredibly complicated but fortunately it's not. Let's break it down to find out what it means.
Pronominal - means playing the part of or relating, to a pronoun.

Pronoun - A pronoun is simply a word used instead of a noun. Here are some examples of pronouns ; I, me, you, he, she, it, that, they, each, who, somebody.

Pronominal possessives - These include my, your, our, their, his, her and it's. They differ from other pronouns as they refer to a noun and show possession.

They help to modify that noun and are technically adjectives.

His muffins are burnt but hers are perfect.

The pronominal possessives in this sentence are His and Hers they are used to refer to muffins.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Sanitarium Magazine - Issue 31

I'm a big fan of Sanitarium Magazine, I had my short story, The Little Orphan Girl, published in issue 28. My first published short story,ever! Ever since I've been buying this magazine as the stories featured are really great, all killers, no fillers. The magazine features established authors, this issue features Ken Goldman whose stories have appeared in over 700, (yes 700!) independent publications worldwide. Also featured are some great up and coming writers like Brooke Warra who has appeared in Sanitarium before, alongside yours truly, in issue 28 with Spineless

As stated on the back cover it is the perfect length for your in between reading. It's great to dip into on a boring commute into work. There's also some great articles on witches, zombies and the horror genre. There's an interview with author Josh Malerman and dark verse from Ian Sputnik, Austin Muratori and Layla Cummins.

Here's why you should be reading Sanitarium Magazine


The Peculiar Death of Barnabas Crackle by Brooke Warra

A tiny tale quite unlike anything you've ever read before in which an unfulfilled man will do anything to achieve his ambitions

A Little Nest Egg by Kenneth C.Goldman

The Spider is the greatest of all predators. It spins a web and simply waits. Unfortunately Willy McCorkle, on the prowl for a nest egg to set him up financially, lacks the intelligence to hunt like a spider. It's a few more brain cells he should be looking for rather than cash.

A highly visual tale with an unusual take, this is an author worth finding out about which you can, click here to read an interview with him by www.gingernutsofhorror.com

Mrs Tomlinson by Bobby O'Rourke

A creepy tale that illustrates just how weird high school can be.School is a testing time, a rite of passage that can make or break you. It's not just getting good grades and fitting in with your school friends, you've also got to deal with nightmare teachers. Some of them can be terrifying and you don't want to fall under their radar. The exams you sit at the end can change your life forever but you never know what's waiting for you in the exam hall.

The Grinder by Craig Herrick

There's a dark secret in the wild woods surrounding a small town. The first and only line of defence rests on the shoulders of Sheriff Garth Thatcher. But can he rise to the challenge?

What Doesn't Kill You, by Cindy Little

How far do you have to go in order to find your inner strength? Maya, an assistant professor of sociology goes on a remarkable journey that turns her life around. But will this change be for the better?

Black and Yellow Spiders by B.B.Sevilla

A short tale that wonderfully capitalises on our fear of the unknown and of course spiders.

The Muse by Jessica Bayliss

Reads like the opening to a great feel good novel but of course this is a horror story. Four strangers arrive at Cobbler House greeted by a mysterious woman who aids them in their search for inspiration in their creative projects. But what exactly is inspiration? Does it really exist and how much will it cost?


Birds and the Bees by Thomas Kleaton

There's nothing sweet in this short tale about the birds and the bees. Lacy goes to stay with her beloved grandma during the school holidays, a holiday neither will forget. This great little tale warns us that nature is not sweet and innocent but wild and savage.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Sanitarium Magazine - Issue 30

Sanitarium Magazine is published by Eye Trauma Press and if you like dark and macabre tales you'll love this monthly magazine which is available to buy in print and e-format. I've been incredibly fortunate in having one of my short stories published in issue 28 of Sanitarium and have since become hooked.

This magazine also features great poetry from Terry Miller, James Michael Shoberg and Andrew Fortunato. There's some great articles on everything horror related such as zombies, splatterpunk  and interviews with Wayne Simmons and Dark Pond Creations.

This magazine is out on the 20th of each month, you can buy your copy from Amazon. It's available in print and epub.

Some Notes on the Reproductive Cycles of Arachnids by Nick Kimbro

This amazing story starts off like any other story, a multi millionaire, Lucas Franklin Westhaven has gone missing and Skip Thompson, a insurance claims investigator has picked up his case. Shortly after this the story descends into brilliant madness. You'll never see it coming. A truly unsettling tale even if you're not afraid of spiders. Highly inventive and thought provoking. This tale stays with you long after you finish reading it.

A Mild Cure for Depression by Brandon Miller

 A young man, Iggy, struggles to feel moved by the life he has, and is desperately trying to escape from the clutches of depression. There's nothing mild about Iggy's desperate and frenzied pursuit of happiness and fulfilment. He'll do anything to escape the clutches of boredom and his "ever morphing brain chemistry."
Iggy finds himself in trouble, but a kind, oddball, stranger helps him out of a sticky situation. Is this Iggy's saviour? Or are things about to get even worse?

Procedure by Kyle Frost

A short but not sweet tale about a young man who's  desperate to fulfil his life's work at any cost. His dreams have been crushed but he won't let that dampen his spirits. A really dark tale with a truly macabre ending.

Dial S for Salvation by Paul Albano

Bill Gable is in a serious predicament. He hasn't succumbed to the mass hysteria sweeping through like wild fire but neither does he want to end up alone. If you're not sure what I'm on about you'll have to read Albano's Dial S for Salvation to find out. I think this tale has a lot to say about how easily our modern lives can be manipulated. A person is clever, but people are stupid.  I think we, as a society tend to believe what we're told by the media and powers that be and this tale explores that with brilliant results.

Paul Albano can found on Twitter @AuthorPAlbano

Endless by Russell C. Connor

Even the sweetest fruit can go spectacularly bad. For Jeff and Anna the idea of endless can be a terrifying prospect. In Russell C. Connor's tale they find themselves in a state of limbo with horrific consequences. A great tale of warning to look after things often taken for granted.


Russell C. Connor can be found on Twitter @russellcconnor

Something Sweet by Gillian French

Casey O'Fallon, a young student takes on what should be an idyllic summer job but of course it all goes awry. She befriends a little boy who seems very sweet. But there's something not quite right and she's determined to protect him.

The Red Curtain by Mitch Sebourn

How far would you go for the ones you love? Would you go to hell and back for them? Mitch Sebourn's dark tale is truly unique, a highly exhilarating tale that becomes a real page turner.


The Shriek of the Harpy by Sebastian Bendix

Muriel lands her dream job of a being a film archivist, she think's she's set, what could go wrong? This tale is reminiscent of Egyptian tomb raiders, some things that have been forgotten in time should stay that way. There's a great foreboding atmosphere of gloom that builds with great results.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star is the first book in a trilogy of books called Shades of London and is written by Maureen Johnson who so far has written ten highly successful novels.

This is a book intended for young adults but it has a much wider appeal. The story centres around Aurora Deveaux, call me Rory, a US teen coming to study in London whilst her parents, two law professors from Benouville , Louisiana, have come over to lecture at Bristol University.

I think the reason why I like this book so much is that I just love Rory. She's not a delicate girl who's insecure about how she looks, or how many friends she's making and whether she's just met the boy of her dreams. This girl is very refreshing, she's smart, down to earth, sure of herself and she's really funny. She's the sort of character any girl can relate to.

When you start to read this book which is told by Rory in first person, you feel like you have been accepted by her as a close friend and taken into her confidence. This tale starts off like any normal tale. Rory has enrolled to study at Wrexford School in the east end of London and we see her as she settles in and tries to make sense of the English way of life.

Except Rory soon finds she is experience too much of the British culture when one of it's more infamous characters makes a return. As soon as Rory arrives, "some nutter's gone and pulled a Jack the Ripper." 

But Rory takes this all in her stride as she is one cool cucumber, even when she becomes a witness in a murder investigation with no leads. It seems Jack the Ripper has returned from hell to take more victims in identical killings. From this point the pace of the story really kicks off and it's a thoroughly riveting read blended with supernatural elements.

In some places this book is very chilling, refreshingly Maureen Johnson does not shy away from gore but it wonderfully contrasts with Rory's hilarious and witty observations. I particularly like the scene where Rory and Jerome choose a certain object to study whilst visiting the National Gallery on a school trip.

Another aspect I really like about this book is that although there is a love interest for Rory it's not of central importance to the plot. There's quite a few quirky and interesting characters and subplots that all fit together perfectly. The cliff hanger will leave you wanting more.

I think why I really like this book is that it's written really well and completely engrossing. It blends perfectly modern London with Victorian London. The past is really brought to life and highlights London's  rich historical background. This isn't just a book for teens and deserves to be read by everyone.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Stephen King ~ On Writing

Even if you're not a big horror fan or even a keen reader, you probably familiar with Stephen King, unless you live in a cave, in another planet, in a different dimension.

Stephen King has had the sort of  career that makes most aspiring writers weep. To date he has written and published more than 50( yes 50!) books, ALL of them have been WORLDWIDE bestsellers. If that doesn't make you slightly jealous as a aspiring author, many of these has also been made into incredibly successful films. It's enough to make me weep, but he's not a bad guy.

What really strikes me about this book was his  touching motivation to write this. Of course he's been paid to do it, but I think it's really generous and kind hearted to write about the craft of writing. I can't think of any other hugely successful writer that has done this.

With so many 'how to write' books out there, ask yourself this; how many have been written by a multiple best selling author? Whatever you may feel about his books, he knows how to write.

This book does not fail to deliver, this book is full of surprising tips and insights. I guarantee that if you read this book you will experience many light bulb moments when suddenly everything makes sense.

He also explains how he dealt with rejection, that every writer has to deal with rejection. Even when you're Stephen King. He teaches you through his biography that it's not just talent that a writer requires but also unflinching uncompromising determination.

Whilst reading I had a few light bulb moments of my own when I realised there were things that me and Mr Stephen King have in common, such as the experience where suddenly two ideas join and become one amazing idea. This can only be a good sign right? He is able to put into words the things I love about writing, particularly his concept of  'thinking above the curve' and explains why your characters sometimes play up like rebellious teenagers and do their own thing, with or without your permission.

Stephen King also acts as a personal trainer for the serious aspiring writer. Please note this book is only intended for those who are very committed to writing. He proposes a time table of how often you need to work out by reading and how often you need to be writing.

The key points I took away from this book are

  • Don't be a timid writer, be fierce. Be fierce with your determination, your writing style and your willingness to improve.
  • Writing is like learning to play an instrument, practise, practise, practise!
  • No one can teach you how to write, you teach yourself to write.
So if you want to take your writing further, you should probably read this book.

Friday, 5 June 2015

A Guide to Subgenres in Fantasy Fiction

If you think that fantasy fiction is only about dragons and wizards you'll be in for a shock. The genre of fantasy is, well, fantastically diverse and all encompassing. Fantasy has always  been my favourite literary genre as it's one that's not hemmed in by reality. You can create a whole new world with new creatures and generally turn everything upside down, left and right, and back again. The fantasy writer has the greatest power to create.

Fantasy differs to its cousin genres of Horror and Science Fiction with it's absence of dark and scientific themes. Though they can and do quite often overlap such as the Alien films, with great effect.

There's so many sub genres within fantasy fiction. Some of these I've never heard of before but can't wait to explore them all.

Please note this article is a work in progress, this list is impossibly long! So it will take time, so starting at A.......

Alternative Historical Fiction

Also known as alternative reality. Alternative historical fiction can offer a different outcome of real life historical events, or a alternative reality and way of life set in the past.

Notable Authors of Alternative History

Philip K. Dick ~ The Man in the High Castle
Iain M.Banks ~ Transition

For  www.BestScienceFictionBooks.com  top 25 greatest alternative history novels click here

Notable Alternative History Websites

If you're a writer of alternative historical fiction, or would like to know more about it, there's a great website and magazine Alt Hist, http://althistfiction.com

If you would like to submit your short stories to them for consideration, you can do so  at http://althisfiction.com/submissions/

Arthurian Fantasy Fiction

This fantasy fiction subgenre is pretty straightforward and centres around the legends surrounding Camelot, King Arthur and of course, Merlin.

Notable Authors of Arthurian Fantasy Fiction

Marion Zimmer Bradley ~ The Avalon Series - The Mists of Avalon, The Forest House, Lady of Avalon.

The Avalon series is an absolute triumph and really defines the genre. It is compelling and told through the perspective of the female characters of the Arthurian Legends such as Morgan le Fey and the lady in the lake.

Mary Stewart ~ The Merlin Trilogy

This is a brilliant series which is technically a quintet if you include The Wicked Day and The Prince and the Pilgrim.
The first three novels, The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment retell the legend from the perspective of Merlin, from his early childhood to adulthood.

Celtic Fantasy Fiction

Celtic fantasy fiction often features customs, folklore of the ancient race of celtic people who hailed from the British Isles such as Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall.

Notable Authors of Celtic Fantasy Fiction

Juliet Marillier -  An incredibly accomplished author who has written numerous books but a good place to start is The Sevenwaters Series, Daughter of the Forest, Son of the Shadows, Child of the Prophecy, Heir to Sevenwaters, Seer of Sevenwaters, Flame of Sevenwaters.

These are a series of novels set in 9th century Ireland and Britain as well as the people of the Otherworld.

To see a list of the top 20 Celtic fantasy novels as complied by www.bestfantasybooks.com click here

Notable Celtic fantasy fiction websites

Lisa.L.Spangenberg is a digital medievalist and has a fantastic website dedicated to all things Celtic. This is an incredible resource for writers of this genre and also very interesting for those who like me are fascinated by anything Celtic.

Click on the link below for book recommendations from her site


Contemporary Fantasy Fiction

Contemporary fantasy fiction is where magic and magical creatures secretly exists in our world. It differs to the horror genre as it is usually uplifting rahter than foreboding.

Notable Authors of Contemporary Fantasy Fiction

P.L.Travers - Mary Poppins
J.K.Rowling - Harry Potter
Stephenie Meyer - Twilight Series
Cassandra Clare - The Mortal Instruments

Dark Fantasy Fiction

Dark fantasy fiction is very similar to horror but will possess elements of fantasy.

Notable Authors of Dark Fantasy fiction

Mark Lawrence - The Broken Empire Trilogy - Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns, Emperor of Thorns.

This is an amazing trilogy. Dark fantasy at its darkest and not one for the fainthearted or very easily offended. Let's just say you wouldn't buy this for your Nan.

Anne Bishop - The Black Jewels Trilogy - Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness.

Also described as feminist fantasy fiction and centres around a powerful witch Queen who must defend her throne and herself.

Notable Dark Fantasy Fiction Websites

There's simply too many to list here, if you're a writer of dark fantasy and would like to submit your work head over to here for a huge list of magazines seeking your stories.


A fable is a tale where there is a strong moral. They usually feature animals, mythical creatures that have human like qualities such as the ability to speak.

Notable Authors of Fables

Aesop - Aesop's Fables, author of The Tortoise and the Hare
George Orwell - Animal Farm

Fairy Tales

These are sometimes very old tales that draw upon ancient folklore and legends. They usually contain elements of magic fantasy characters such as fairies, witches, goblins, giants, elves and mermaids.

Notable Authors of Fairy Tales

Brothers Grimm - Fairy Tales.

Traditionally these tales have been passed down through generations via word of mouth which is what makes them so special however the brother Grimm set about collecting these stories which they published. The tales include Hansel and Gretal, Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel and Rumpelstiltskin.

Hans Christian Andersen - Fairy Tales

Hans Christian Andersen wrote his fairy tales but they do draw upon old European folkore and legends, his book contains some very well known tales such as The Little Mermaid, The Red Shoes, The Emperor's New Clothes and Thimbelina

Gaslamp Fantasy Fiction

This is a subgenre of fantasy fiction that has a Victorian or Edwardian setting. Gaslamp is different to steampunk fantasy which combines the modern age with the past. The term was coined in 2006 by Kaja Foglio author of comic series, Girl Genius

Notable authors of Gaslamp fantasy fiction

Kaja Foglio - Girl Genius series
Phillip Pullman - His Dark Materials Trilogy
Susanna Clarke - Jonathan Strange & Mr Strange, you can read my book review here

Grimdark Fantasy Fiction

This is a subgenre of fantasy fiction where the theme is dark and usually features a  lot of violence and lack of morals. It is a moving away of traditional fantasy works which depict medieval life as quaint to how it really was; brutal and unforgiving.

Notable Grimdark Authors

George R.R.Martin - The Game of Thrones series
Joe Abercrombie - The First Law

Notable Grimdark fiction magazines


Grimdark Magazine is dedicated to all grimdark fiction, films games and everything in between. They are also looking for your short stories.

Heroic Fantasy Fiction

Heroic fantasy fiction, as you may have already guessed features tales involving a hero, usually on a quest.

Notable Heroic Fantasy Authors

Raymond E. Feist - Magician
Tad Williams - The Dragonbone Chair

Notable Heroic Fantasy Magazines


This is an online magazine that is dedicated to the cause of bringing back the golden age of storytelling by promoting short works of heroic fantasy.

High Fantasy Fiction

The sub genre of high fantasy fiction is pretty much owned by J.R.R.Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. High fantasy fiction is almost always set in an alternative world and was first coined by Lloyd Alexander in his 1971 essay, "High Fantasy and Heroic Romance." High fantasy fiction usually has underlying themes of good vs evil. There's sure to be magic elements and lots of mythical creatures thrown in for good measure.

Notable High Fantasy Authors

J.R.R.Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings
C.S.Lewis - The Chronicles of Narnia

Notable High FantasyMagazines


A brilliant website that features all things dedicated to fantasy, science fiction and horror.


This is an online magazine that features the very best in fantasy and science fiction short stories

Historical Fantasy Fiction

This is a branch of fantasy fiction that is set in this world but within a specific time period and will usually incorporate magical elements. This is a very broad genre that often crosses into other fantasy genres such as Celtic fantasy fiction, alternative historical fantasy.

Notable Historical Fantasy Authors

Diana Gabaldon - Outlander
Deborah Harkness - A Discovery of Witches

Lovecraftian Fantasy Fiction

Not many authors can boast of having a subgenre named after them in honour of their work. As yu may have guessed this is named after H.P.Lovecraft who tragically rose to literary fame posthumously. This subgenre strongly overlaps with horror and draws upon the psychological fear of the unknown. This genre also feature strnage creatures strange worlds with dark despairing undertones.

Notable Lovecraftian Authors


Notable Lovecraftian Magazines


A site dedicated to all things H.P.Lovecraft.

Medieval Fantasy Fiction

This subgenre apart from being set in medieval times is also usually heavily dominated with witches, wizards, dragons and knights.

Notable Medieval Fantasy Authors

Tamora Pierce - Alanna: The First Adventure
Brent Weeks - The Way of Shadows

Slipstream Fantasy Fiction

This is best described as non-realistic fiction and the term was first coined by author Bruce Sterling. It is described as "the fiction of strangeness." This particular genre borrows from other genres including science fiction and fantasy.

Notable Slipstream Authors

David Mitchell - Cloud Atlas
Neil Gaiman - Neverwhere

Steampunk Fantasy Fiction

Steampunk fantasy fiction is often set in Victorian era England where steam power is widely used technology. Hmmm I'm also a bit confused on what steampunk is. This genre also overlaos with science fiction elements.

Notable Steampunk Authors

Gail Carriger - Soulless
Scott Westerfield - Leviathan

Urban Fantasy Fiction

These are fantasy stories set in a modern urban environment.

Notable Urban Fantasy Authors

Jim Butcher - The Dresden Files
Patricia Briggs - Mercy Thompson

About the Author

S.J.Budd is a writer of all things weird and creepy. Previously her tales have been featured on Deandman's Tome,  Sanitarium Magazine, Dark Gothic Resurrected, Liquid Imagination, Aphotic Realm, Aurora Wolf, Aphelion, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, The Wild Hunt, Danse Macabre, Shadows at the Door, Inner Sins, Bewildering Stories, Siren's Call and many more.
She lives at www.sjbudd.co.uk  and  @sjbuddj 
Spells and Persuasions, her debut collection of short stories of horror and dark fantasy is available now in paperback and kindle from Amazon

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Why you should never forget to dream

I came across this article the other day and had to share it as it's really inspired me and hopefully will inspire whoever reads this.

D.M.Barratt always dreamt of writing a novel but with family and work commitments she never found the time, but she never gave up on her dreams and at a grand old age of 84, she completed her first novel - The Girl on the Moors - which is available on Amazon on kindle and paperback. It currently only costs £3.74, a proper bargain.

The Girl on the Moors is a tale set in Cornwall about a young girl called Sophie Wallender who decides to leave her home in search of her grand mother. On her journey she discovers dark secrets and is plunged into danger.

This just goes to show that you are never too old to give up on your dreams, and that if you really put your mind to something, you will achieve. And this may sound incredibly corny, but the very word IMPOSSIBLE spells I'M-POSSIBLE.

Mrs Barratt is an incredible woman to not only have the courage to write a book, but to publish it. In the Evening Herald article she states her dreams of being able to go into a shop and be able to buy her own book. This is my dream also, not to make loads of money but just to see my name in print.

So be sure to show your support for all the struggling writers out here make sure to buy a copy of The Girl on the Moors!

Here is a link to the article in The Plymouth Herald

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

"There was a silence on the tors that belonged to another age; an age that is past and vanished as though it has never been, an age when man did not exist, but pagan footsteps trod upon the hills. And there was a stillness in the air, and a stranger, older peace, that was not the peace of God."

On the wild Bodmin Moors of Cornwall that have defeated man and where nature reigns triumphant, is an inn standing solitary against the ravaging winds and cold unforgiving days. But it is solitary inn for no desperate traveller dares to visit, there are secrets and malice in Jamaica Inn and Mary Yellan is about to discover them.

It is incredible that Daphne Du Maurier wrote this modern day classic when she was just 29, it's truly a masterpiece. Du Maurier is probably better known for writing Rebecca, but for me, her masterpiece is Jamaica Inn. It is a beautifully haunting and gothic modern classic.

The imagery is so alive, I read this and weep, hoping that I could have but a slither of her writing talent. She's one of those authors who captures perfectly the things many writers wish they could convey but fail miserably. Du Maurier was an incredibly prolific writer both in fiction and non-fiction. I highly recommend The House on the Strand.

The story of Jamaica Inn revolves around Mary Yellan a young head strong girl that has fallen on hard times, but despite this she feels an overwhelming need to help her Aunt Pleasance,who in the last ten years has transformed from a lively viracious woman to a shell of a person. The cause of her downfall? Joss Merlyn.

Mary Yellan is a great character, she's not fragile but wilful, the complete opposite to her Aunt. Even a brute such as Joss Merlyn respects her. Mary Yellan is not the typical damsel in distress. She's practical and tough.

Joss Merlyn is a lot more than the 2dimensional simple brute he appears to be, he is physically powerful and respected within the circles in which he operates. However there is a strange child like vulnerability to him, his fearfulness suggests that there are worse rogues than him out there. Aunt Pleasance's method of survival is self denial, Joss's is drink. He drinks himself into stupors that last for days in which he retreats into childhood, but when he wakes he is afraid of the consequences of what he's done, not just from the law but of the people he has wronged.

There is also a powerful message that women are always drawn to the types of men who they know are no good. It happened to Aunt Pleasance and Mary risks the same trap herself. It shows that once a woman falls in love there is nothing on earth that can break her resolve.

What's interesting is how well the surrounding landscape influence the tone and feel of story. Jamaica Inn stands isolated against rough hard terrain as Mary stands isolated against her situation. She is free to roam the moors but she knows and the readers know that despite this, she is trapped. No matter which direction she takes there are far reaching consequences.

You can easily feel her desperation and the loneliness she faces, her situation is dire; a young girl wasting away, like a princess stuck in a tower. She has no choice but to take friendships and opportunities as she finds them. Despite everything that she encounters it seems to me that her greatest fear is of turning into her Aunt Patience. It seems that her aunt was very similar to Mary in her youth, she had everything going for her but then she made some catastrophic choices that led her into her current life. This is what Mary fears worst to make a bad decision and be haunted forevermore by its consequences.

For she does have a grave choice to make from the options available to her; she could escape and seek justice, she could get involved with Joss, or she could take a chance on Jem, except that didn't work out so well for her aunt. But the thrilling tension throughout is created from her having to make this choice. Neither seem smart, but a choice she must make.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Twisted Realities: Myth and Monstrosity

A collection of 12 brilliant short stories bought to you by Sirens Call Publications, that takes a fresh look at some infamous and dark myths and legends, and asks if they're myths or reality...

But these are not the gentrified and harmless tales you could entertain children with. Delve inside and you will discover that things are not as they seem, old gods still walk amongst us and their powers prevail, riddles still need answering, and we can't escape our past.

You can show your support for your fellow writers and independent publishers by buying this book, which is available through Sirens Call Publications or Amazon. They have a great selection of anthologies!

It Lives In Us ~ Thomas James Brown

In  the  picturesque village of Lynnewood in the New Forest, there's a terrible dark secret that hangs over this otherwise peaceful village. What are these things and where do they come from? What can be done to escape them?

This deliciously dark story takes place in the present day but has the charm and feel of a tale set hundreds of years ago. It evokes old celtic deities and demons intertwined with past and future and switches easily between serene village life and a macabre past adding to a tense and foreboding atmosphere.


Re-emergence ~ Nina D'Arcangela

There's danger afoot and Michael will do anything to save his father. Re-emergence explores the duality of the feminine aspect represented by the sea and its  eldritch creatures.

It dispels the myth that us girls aren't as delicate or benign as we look. For only women have the power to give life as well as destruction which is represented by the female element of water.

Re-emergences asks what sacrifices would you be prepared to make for love. What would you do for your own kin, how far would you go for survival?


Mosaic  ~  Jonathan Templar

An archaeology student is with her boss on an excavating mission, but she uncovers much more than an old ancient mosaic. Unearthed primal forces act to awaken old lusts that have been supressed for centuries. Similar to the  imposed Roman way of life clashing with the traditional Celtic way of life in Britain Andrea finds her way of life clashing with those around her, and finds herself with a heavy choice; instinct or intellect?


Riddle Me Real  ~ Lisamarie Lamb

What happens to mythical creatures when their purpose has expired? How do they live out their immortal days? Are they looking for love and companionship like us, or are they something worse? Don't want to say too much in case I give too much away.


Voices ~ Kate Monroe

If you ever thought it would be amazing if the old deities and myths could live amongst us, think again. They're as monstrous as they are fantastic, they're not as nice and cuddly as dear old Santa Claus!

Maybe they do still live amongst us? How can we know if they're just a figment of our imagination? Voices by Kate Monroe expertly blends the modern with the past to create a great tale.


Memorial ~ Joseph A.Pinto

A dark tale of two brothers, one ruled by passion, the other by greed, but both are in love with the same woman who is unattainable for the both of them. But what would you do to keep the woman you love?


The Silver Comb ~ J.Marie Ravenshaw

A unique tale that draws from Ireland's rich source of folklore and legends. Aisling Grey thinks she's in store for a peaceful relaxing weekend with her best friends, but she's very wrong. This is a great tale of  unbound ancestral spirits coming back, half forgotten superstitions that should never have been lost.


Keine Solche Sache ~ Edward Lorn

A highly original tale concerning the idea of parthenogenesis, the ability to reproduce asexually. It's true that most of us only use 10% of our brain at one time but what if we could be engineered to achieve our full potential and unlock all the secrets hidden in the human genome?

Could this be used for the greater good? Or is man eternally corrupted? Edward Lorn's dark and mysterious tale poses the question of what makes us human? Are we nothing more than a sum of body parts? Are our thoughts and actions controlled by our DNA or our souls?


Hades and the Hydra ~ Amber Keller

There is a dark prophecy hanging over the world? Does it spell the end?What if there is such a thing as the Underworld? Do we share our world with malevolent forces far more powerful and destructive than us? Are humans little more than toys between powerful gods.


A Fair Price ~ Alexa Muir

A couple embark on an idyllic relaxing holiday in the south of France, but it is anything but serene. Matt and Hannah seem to have the perfect life, but appearances aren't everything. And as the title suggests, what price would you be willing to pay to have all your dreams come true?


Drakul ~ K.Trap Jones

Be careful what you do as it could come back to haunt you, a tale of cold enduring revenge. Time is said to be a great healer, but what if the  pain and suffering from crimes committed against you are too cruel to ever heal. What happens when you simply can't forgive and forget?


The Plight of Phayden Ponsford ~ Julianne Snow

This is a great little tale that shares some similarities with the ancient fairy tale - The Ugly Duckling - but with a very dark take! Phaylen Posford was tragically injured and wants only to be accepted into society, but it seems her life is cursed.

Is there a way to break this curse? Or must she suffer for ever?