Author Archives: Michael R. Fletcher

About Michael R. Fletcher

Michael R. Fletcher is a science fiction and fantasy author represented by Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. His novel, BEYOND REDEMPTION, a work of dark fantasy and rampant delusion, is being published by HARPER Voyager and is slated for release in the summer of 2015. His début novel, 88, was released by Five Rivers Publishing and tastes like dystopia with a dash of cyberpunk. 88 is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and elsewhere. The next Manifest Delusions novel, THE ALL CONSUMING, is in the capable hands of the test-readers while Mike works on the third book, WHEN FAR-GONE DEAD RETURN UPON THE WORLD and tries to be the best husband and dad he can be.

Tim Marquitz Reviews his novel WAR GOD RISING

Gleetings and salubriations!

We return today with the latest in the WRITERS REVIEWING THEIR OWN BOOKS series. Tim Marquitz is here to review his novel WAR GOD RISING. And in a strange turn of events he appears to actually be doing it himself!

 

TIM MARQUITZ REVIEWS WAR GOD RISING

So, I opened War God Rising, and the first thing I noticed were the words. They were awful, and I’m pretty sure they were in the wrong order.

But like any train wreck, I had rubberneck or I’d miss out on the opportunity to piss off the folks behind me who have better things to do. And after reading this trash, I could sympathize. I mean, seriously, who the hell writes a book about a guy who buggers sheep? Allegedly, or so the author insists. Yeah, buddy, tell it to the judge.

Anyway, flagrant sheep love aside, I’m fairly certain the author of War God Rising thought he was creating a puzzle rather than writing a novel. The book’s one big jumble, all the pieces scattered everywhere, and I’m almost positive there are a handful missing. I won’t even mention the fact that the image is drawn in crayon, which is, admittedly, still a few notches better than the cover art. This is the 21st century, Marquitz. Nudity doesn’t sell books anymore.

Oh, did I mention this is supposed to be a comedy? I think someone mislabeled it. The only laugh involved was the awkward chuckle of the clerk when I paid for it. I’m certain I saw Amy Schumer walking by, shaking her head as I bought the thing.

Still, the book has some redeeming qualities. The pages were nice and soft and hardly left any paper cuts, which I learned when my mom forgot to pick up toilet paper last week. And the pages burn nicely, the ink giving off a pleasant, carcinogenic scent that mostly covered the smell from the aforementioned restroom adventure.

So, yeah, if you’re desperate for a book that holds up to a good wiping and might be useful if you’re having trouble outing yourself as one of those fantasy readers, War God Rising is likely the 11th or 12th book in the list that you’d want to pick up. Maybe 13th.

If ever there was a pity purchase, this is it.

 

Web Site: http://www.tmarquitz.com/

Book Link: https://www.amazon.com/War-God-Rising-Tim-Marquitz-ebook/dp/B01B1SL422

War God Rising Cover Copy:

Monty Python meets Gladiator!

Sand is destined for greatness. Or so a pair of two-bit criminals would have him believe.

After rescuing him from certain doom, Bess and Kaede embark on a scheme to game the War God Tournament. It’d be easier if Sand wasn’t an alcohol-soaked twit with a disturbing interest in mutton.

Pitted against monsters, magic swords, and murderers galore, they soon realize winning the tourney is the least of their worries.

BURN OUT

It’s better to burn out than fade away.

I burned out.

After Beyond Redemption sold to Harper Voyager I threw myself at writing. I wrote Swarm and Steel first. I needed a break from the characters of BR but still wanted to play in that world. With the first draft of that finished, I figured I should probably write the sequel to Beyond Redemption because, duh, look at all those amazing reviews! Of course Harper Voyager will want more! And so, with S&S still is pretty rough shape, I wrote The Mirror’s Truth.

As Y’all know by now HV passed on TMT, saying that sales didn’t warrant investing in a sequel. Cameron, my agent, shopped it around. Unfortunately publishers aren’t much interested in buying the sequel to a book held by another publisher. I was faced with a choice: Shelf the book in the hopes that someday BR would sell enough someone would want the sequel (it still hasn’t) or publish it myself. Seeing as it’s out there and all self-published and stuff, I figure you know what I chose. Patience was never my strength.

Rather than focus on what might well have been the catastrophic failure of my dreams, I focused on editing The Mirror’s Truth.

There are authors who write great first drafts. Mark Lawrence is one of those. We won’t hate him for being talented, though he does offer another explanation here, which I found interesting. I read that and had a moment of Why couldn’t I have been born dyslexic! Then I smacked myself for being a twit. Anyway, the point of that aside is that I am not one of those authors. My first drafts are puke-inducing. I do a lot of editing, and a lot of rewriting. By the time a perspective publisher sees a novel, there’s not usually much to do…except fix a billion typos, correct mangled grammar, add comas where I ignored them, delete comas where I went nuts, and cull about 98% of my semicolons.

I can write a book in three or four months, if given enough alone time. That book will need at least as much editing before it’s ready for beta-readers. Oh Lordy pity my alpha-reader. That dude sees first drafts of everything and somehow hasn’t plucked his eyes from his skull. The point is, I spend a lot of time editing my stuff. Really a lot.

I was somewhere in the middle of editing TMT when the folks at Skyhorse/Nightshade Books/Talos bought Swarm and Steel. As I recall, they purchased it based on my synopsis (insane rambling), blurb (excited insane rambling), and the first chapter which I’d edited before we sent it out. The rest of the book was a disaster. I promptly changed gears and dove into editing that beast instead. It went through many iterations. Each time I thought it was ready I sent it to Cameron. She picked it apart, asked difficult questions (the best was “what does this character really want? which triggered massive changes once I understood that character’s motivation), and sent it back.

The day we submitted the finished manuscript to Talos, I returned to editing The Mirror’s Truth. Somewhere in there the rights to my first novel, 88, were reverted to me by the awesome folks at Five Rivers Publishing. The day I uploaded the final manuscript for TMT to Amazon and Createspace, I began work on editing and rewriting 88. I recently released the reworked 88 as Ghosts of Tomorrow.

Here ends what amounts to damned near a year of editing. I wrote no new original fiction in that time with the exception of a single short story, The Broken Dead, for the Evil is a Matter of Perspective anthology.

Did I take a breather?

No.

I uploaded the final Ghosts of Tomorrow files on February 24th, 2017. The next day I began work on a new book. We’ll call this CoS:LBiS for now because I’m not ready to share the name. I finished the first draft of that novel in early April. It took about two and a half months to write. I hand wrote this one–something new for me. I’m still in the process of transcribing it onto the computer. It, like all my first drafts, is a vomitous stain.

The day after I finished CoS:LBiS I tried to write a short story for Grimdark Magazine. After a week and three attempts, I gave up. Then I decided to start work on the sequel to Ghosts of Tomorrow. I have now written the first chapter three times. They all stink.

Ah. And here is where we came in.

I’m burned out.

I need to stop for a while.

The other day someone on facebook mentioned that Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, reads big door-stopper genre fiction. I had this moment of anger. How the hell can the goddamn Prime Minister have time to read but I can’t?

I realized I was the problem.

I am two or three books behind on all my favourite authors. I haven’t even read Wheel of Osheim yet! Just let that sink in.

A couple of days ago I picked up the ARC of Brian Staveley’s Skullsworn. I only had a few minutes of reading time. It’s so good. So very, very good. Reading made me happy again, took me away. Yesterday I stole a few more minutes of reading. More happy.

I know what I have to do.

I’m going to read a book. Maybe two. During that time I shall make no attempt at writing.

Once I feel like a reader again, I shall return to writing. I need this.

Burn out is no fun and I’d rather not fade away.

This post is likely rife with errors as I can not be bothered to edit it.

Derek Alan Siddoway reviews INTO EXILE

Welcome to the latest post in the AUTHORS REVIEWING THEIR OWN BOOKS series!

Today we have Derek Alan Siddoway, the mastermind behind the Undaunted Author and Everyday Author sites (links below) reviewing…wait. Nope! It seems some of his characters have snuck in. Apparently, instead of reviewing the book, they’ve called some kind of press-release.

Best read on…

INTO EXILE

Herald: Introducing his majesty, High King Arund, the White Knight, the Scourge of the Highlanders, the Sword of Skaldain!

People gather in a crowd below the platform within the ransacked city of Athelon. There are bloodstains on the stone and smoke still rises from some of the upper terraces, where, judging by the raucous sounds of yelling and screaming, looting is still well underway. Arund the White Knight, of late, the self-styled High King of all Peldrin takes the stand.

Arund: Thank you, everyone, for coming. What a great day. What a momentous day in the history of our country. I never doubted it. I crushed the rebellion and united all of Peldrin. Where are the naysayers now? So, who’s got questions? I’ve got answers, great answers.

Skald: General Arund —

Arund: High King now, actually. In case you hadn’t heard — I won!

Skald: *Clears throat* Umm, yes. High King Arund. While your “March across Peldrin” was a success on parchment, you’ve left a bloody swathe in your wake. Thousands are dead — mostly the common folk who supported your cause. Tens of thousands more are homeless, injured or starving. And now, you’ve conquered Athelon, the last bastion of resistance, but only after weeks of siege that drained untold amounts of gold from the Republic’s coffers. What is your message to the peasantry?

Arund: My message is the same as it’s always been. I’ve never changed. I said I was going to make Peldrin great again. Now it’s great. Just like I said. When people get in the way of progress that’s what happens. But now we can rebuild. We’ll be bigger and better than ever. We’ve already brought thousands of jobs back to honest, hardworking swordsmiths, armorers and siege engineers everywhere.

Second Skald: Wasn’t Peldrin already pretty great? I mean we had a Republic that built roads, fostered trade and —

Arund: Sure, that’s what they want you to believe. Trust me, it wasn’t great. I was on the inside. I saw things. I know things about the former Republic that would make your skin crawl. Peldrin was a disaster.

Second Skald: Wasn’t the goal of your campaign to unite Peldrin? It seems like a death march across half the land, culminating in a dreadful siege that was only ended by killing one of your oldest and closest friends is pretty…dividing.

Arund: Look, nobody wanted to kill Mathyew less than me. Trust me. Nobody liked Mathyew more than me. The Lord of Athel was like a brother to me. We were so close you can’t even imagine. But there’s one thing you can’t do. You can’t stand between the White Knight and victory. You just can’t. It’s not going to end well for you if you do. I’ve never been defeated.

Second Skald: But what about that battle against the Highland Confederation back in —

Arund: Next question, please.

Third Skald: We’ve heard reports that your troops were massacring refugees and survivors who fled Athelon to the surrounding beaches. The reports also indicated that Lady Guinevere, her young son Revan and her handmaiden, Reginleif were on the beaches.

Arund: Look, I’m in the business of peace, not killing women and children.

First Skald: *Points across the courtyard* Isn’t that a dead woman over there?

Arund: I’ve said it all along, we’re going to be so tough on rebels. Trust me, no one has ever been tougher on rebels than me and no one will continue to be tougher on rebels than me. If any man, woman or child raises a sword against me, we’re going to have to take action. It’s the only way to keep our borders safe.

Third Skald: Yes, but where are Lady Guinevere, Revan and her handmaiden now?

Arund: I’ve got trained professionals out looking for the Lady of Athel right now. Our number one priority is finding her and ensuring she’s safe. Nobody is more worried about Guinevere and little Revan than me, trust me. I consider them family.

Second Skald: This seems to conflict an account we’ve received that your “trained professionals” pursued Lady Guinevere into the wilderness of Athel. They were led by Captain Theron Fitch, a man known for his brutality. According to the report, Fitch then conspired with local Sylvad hunters — sworn enemies of the Athelings, I might add — to aid in the capture of Lady Guinevere.

Arund: That’s completely ridiculous. False information. Never happened.

First Skald: It’s all right here in a book: Into Exile by one Derek Alan Siddoway.

Arund: Look, I don’t know where this book came from, but it’s clearly biased against my campaign to unite all Peldrin under my banner. Someone is just jealous that my victory was so complete and absolute that they’re spreading these lies. Don’t be fooled, people. The Council War was the most definitive victory in the history of all Peldrin. If Lady Guinevere doesn’t want to bow to me, she’s on her own.

Third Skald: But you just said that finding Lady Guinevere and her son and ensuring their safety was your number one —

Arund: *Waves hand* Look, this public address is over. I don’t need to deal with this right now. I’ve got a country to make great again! Anything in that book by that Siddoway man is completely untrue. Not a single fact in there. I’ve read the whole thing. Bunch of fabricated lies, trust me. Anyone who reads that is a stars-damned imbecile and is guilty of treason. The first

thing I’m coming to do when I get back to the capital is decree every copy of this “Into Exile” is burned.

Second Skald: *sighs*

 

Into Exile – Official Synopsis:

Widowed. Hunted. Exiled. From the ashes of destruction, a saga begins.

When her country is conquered and her lord husband slain by his best friend, Guinevere, Lady of Athel, has only one thing left to live for: her young son Revan. Forsaking vengeance to honor her husband’s last wish, Guinevere flees with Revan — the last heir of the Teutevar line. Exile, however, will not come easy. Pursued by ruthless invaders and a wilderness full of bloodthirsty savages, Guinevere’s only allies are a loyal spearmaiden and a deranged mountain man. The Lady of Athel may not fear death, but should she fail, Athel’s last hope falls with her.

Into Exile is a introductory prequel that takes place before the events of Out of Exile in the world of Teutevar Saga. Fans of Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country and Miles Cameron’s Traitor Son Cycle will enjoy the Teutevar Saga and its unique blend of traditional medieval fantasy in a gritty, American Western landscape.

For a limited time, get Into Exile FREE at all major ebook sellers: https://books2read.com/u/mvYjaJ

For more shenanigans check out Derek in the following places:

@D_Sidd (Twitter)

http://derekalansiddoway.com

http://bookreview22.com/

http://everydayauthor.com

http://undauntedauthors.com

Timandra Whitecastle reviews TOUCH OF IRON

The madness of AUTHORS REVIEWING THEIR OWN BOOKS continues!

This week Timandra Whitecastle stops by to review her novel, TOUCH OF IRON. Wait. Is it actually her, or did she send one of her characters or even a book cover to do the review for her? I think we have a real person! Woooo!

TOUCH OF IRON

I picked up Touch of Iron only because I’d seen the cover on Instagram and Pinterest a few times, and wow, it’s beautiful. But how does the adage go? Don’t a judge a book by its cover.

The blurb made me think that it’d be my standard heroic fantasy fare – legendary sword, questing, multiple points of view, and I was looking forward to it.

But it’s terrible.

The female main character is an awful person. She’s very un-christian, unwomanly, headstrong, curses a lot – the amount of expletives in this book is obscene. Obscene, I tell you! – and nowhere in the book is she described as being beautiful or meek. I don’t get it – it’s as if Whitecastle doesn’t think women have to be sexy in order to have worth, lololol. The way the author wrote her, I’d say that Whitecastle person is pushing her own feminist agenda with Nora.

Whitecastle also shies away from any opportunity of true character development. Nora starts out as a total failure, running away from home with her twin bother because, frankly, she’s very ungrateful, and prone to violent tempers. Mood swings! Lololol. Pretty quickly she gets swept up in the quest for the Living Blade, meeting the male leads, Prince Bashan and Master Diaz. Sadly, Whitecastle lacks the talent to write real male characters as she’s a woman, but she tris valiantly with Prince Bashan. I was not impressed with Master Diaz, by the way – although his back story is like: he has sex outside of marriage and is punished for that for the rest of his life. I liked that part. It was realistic. But Nora? No. No punishment for her. So sad. She never snaps out of her disobedient ways to finally become the paladin I was expecting.

Also the book is really gory. When the violence happens it’s very graphic and painfully drawn out. Why is that, Ms Whitecastle? Why can’t you write aesthetic violence like every other good fantasy author? Give us battles with dragons, nekkid babes in chainmail bikinis, and magical talking blades, not actual hurt and emotional turmoil!

There’s some sexual violence and rape, but alas! never as much as in Game of Thrones, and the fear of rape is never used as a motivation for the female characters – it’s weird. It’s like Whitecastle sees the opportunity to write the strong female lead we can all recognize, but then actively chooses not to.

I honestly don’t see any appeal to this book, other than the cover which is really nice.

And OMG there’s a sequel now?!?

 

Touch of Iron on Amazon.com

On the Wheel on Amazon.com (releases March 16th)
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STEVEN POORE REVIEWS THE HEIR TO THE NORTH

Hey folks!

We are back with the latest in the AUTHORS REVIEWING THEIR OWN BOOKS series. Today, Steven Poore pops in to review…wait…no. Like many authors he has foisted the duty on another. This time he sent the book cover in to review if for him.

Well, let’s see what the cover has to say!

THE HEIR TO THE NORTH

Oh hai, sweet readers, please allow me to introduce myself – I’m a book cover illustration of wealth and taste… no, really. Don’t run away…

Pheh. Some folks, you just can’t help. But you, you look reasonable. You look intelligent. You can see there’s more to me than meets the eye, right? Or, like in the front credits of Quincy, will this be an autopsy without an audience?

I know what you want. Grim reapers, bloody swords, hooded men, mountains of corpses. Maybe even a fella with four hands and a stetson, yeah? I see you, with your bloodstained maps, your Viking raiders, and your Anasurimbor Kellhus runes. And who let that damned goat in here? Shoo, get away, gimme some space… sorry about that. Where was I? Yeah, runes. Got none of those here, sorry. Just an alpha male prince with a very big sword, and a young lass. All in bright colours, just like those books you used to read before you grew up and thought that Garion was a bit wet, actually.

Look at those muscles. All that beef. Here’s a guy who lifts. He’s a proper hero. None of those hoods or half-profile silhouettes here. Just a bloody great sword. This chap’s name is Meredith, and he owns it. The book’s called The Heir to the North, and that’s him, that is. He shot a man in CostCo, just to watch him die (OK, so that bit’s a lie, but I’m being creative here, roll with it). He goes through his forms bare-chested, but you can tell that already. It’s making you totes jeal. It certainly makes Cassia’s knees tremble, I tell thee.

Cassia? Yeah, she’s the support act, right? Look how Meredith protects her, holds her back against danger, how good they look together, how bright and innocent… oi, you at the back, I’ll have none of that muck in this column. Go wash yer mouth out. Anyway, just look at them. It’s like a first-level D&D group, before the slaughter begins – it’s so 1987 it hurts. That sound, that’s you walking away that is, gone to find something grimmer, something darker, with more pillage and less hope, more cynicism, and less bright-eyed naivete, because this is the modern world and hey now, hey now now, sing something doomy to me.

Can’t say I blame you. Just go, walk out the door, don’t turn around now – actually, wait, see, there’s a secret. I’m not what I seem. A picture tells a thousand words, yeah sure, but what if those words ain’t the truth? What if – bear with me here – what if the picture you’re seeing is a fantasy? What if it lives only in Cassia’s head?

That’s not so 1987, is it? That’s practically post-modern. See me strut. I ain’t grim, but I’m sure twisted. I’m like a tribute to all the best fantasy novels of the late 80s and early 90s, an echo of the excitement and wonder, let’s do the quest right here! I’m a cover that dares you to see beyond it.

You want me to talk about the book itself? Hey, I’m just a picture. I just represent. But I say look at the author. He’s all bright-eyed and naive too, starting out on his own quest. He might get a couple of things wrong, play a few bum notes, forget to put any real female characters except Cassia in there at all, y’know, minor stuff. But you know what comes after the bright fairy-tale beginnings, right?

Yeah, that’s right…

The Heir to the North – cover copy

Caenthell will stay buried, and the North will not rise again until I freely offer my sword to a true descendant of the High Kings—or until one takes it from my dying hands!” 
With this curse, the Warlock Malessar destroyed Caenthell. The bloodline of the High Kings disappeared and the kingdom faded into dark legend until even stories of the deed lost their power. But now there is an Heir to the North.
Cassia hopes to make her reputation as a storyteller by witnessing a hardened soldier and a heroic princeling defeat Malessar and his foul curse. But neither of her companions are exactly as they appear, and the truth lies deep within stories that have been buried for centuries.
As Cassia learns secrets both soldier and warlock have kept hidden since the fall of Caenthell, she discovers she can no longer merely bear witness. Cassia must become part of the story; she must choose a side and join the battle.
The North will rise again.

Heir To The North – Out Now!

Buy HEIR TO THE NORTH ON Amazon.com.

Buy HEIR TO THE NORTH on Amazon UK.

Epic Fantasist — SFSF Socialist
@stevenjpoore — @SFSFSocial
http://stevenpoore.wordpress.com
http://sfsfsocial.wordpress.com

Author Reviewing Their Own Books: Richard Writhen reviews A KICKED CUR.

This week the mysterious Richard Writhen drops by to review–Oh, wait, no! He’s gone and dumped the review on one of his characters! The sod!

 

A Kicked Cur: A Waste Of My Time And Yours

by Michael Sirus Meyer, the star of A Host Of Ills

Please give me allowance to preface this essay. I am neither a reviewer by trade nor a writer, and only a sporadic reader; as I rarely find the time. I am an amanuensis by trade, and in the employ of one of the greatest precious metal industrialists that the great realm of Khlarion has ever seen. I am but a layman, if you will understand; so, when I was “asked” to review A Kicked Cur by some raggedy individual that introduced himself to me only by the moniker of “Richard Writhen,” of course I politely declined. However, the persistent bugger hounded my very steps down the badly cobbled streets, and I could not safely sleep in my bungalow on Milbury Street without hearing his wolf-like howls outside my window at all hours of first clock. So, here’s the final review, all ready to be safely sealed and delivered over to the Pylon Press Building. Perhaps you, my dear reader, will find some small modicum of enjoyment in it; which is quite a bit more than I can say for the work being reviewed itself … unfortunately.

To begin with, if you will be so kind as to bear with me, I will relate a little bit about myself. My name is Michael Sirus Meyer, I am indeed a clerk for a great mine-lord, and have been for many years. One Jalas Nadur, originally from the nation far to Khlarion’s southwest, which is named Khunatan, owns practically every active metal mine in the north of the realm, they being interspersed with the Unknown Forest and just south of the mysterious set of island summits known to the citizenry as the Tide Witches. I divide my time between the private sector of Hayderstade, just to the west of Deskordin’s downtown area, which is where I myself am from, as well as the hive-like network of northern caves that yield those materials of great worth and net my boss a good deal of profit; which he might not be able to effectively do, if I may humbly add, without my invaluable services in book-keeping.

So, enough idle chatter, as my father used to say; and on to the document that I have been asked to review. Again, I am by no means a writer, and have never been able to write creative fiction prose with any real ability. But surely, a narrative can be constructed in a more coherent manner than this. A Kicked Cur attempts to tell the story of three average teenagers who live in the downtown Deskordin area; which I know well, being as I attended college near where the story takes place. They encounter a spot of trouble when they see something that they are not meant to, and are set aflight and run home in order to regroup; bold warriors these are not. I won’t give away much more of the “tale,” if you would choose to call it that, but suffice it to say, they are hard-pressed to come up with a strategem to deal with the problem they encounter, as it involves a blood witch and her three vampire lackeys. The result is so anti-climactic that a scene involving the male teen having breakfast with his father one morning is one of the most suspenseful in the entire piece. And said father mentions Drackhon, another nation that lies dead west of Khlarion, asserting that it is in fact infested with more blood magicians and vampires; this cannot be true, as everyone knows that Drackhon is merely a wide, flat land which is composed mostly of swamps save for a few historical ruins, just some old castles and the like.

Mr. Writhen certainly has quite the imagination, unless he purports to predict the future, something which no human being can do … with any accuracy. Frankly, that’s part of the work’s overall inconsistency. I’m not sure when A Kicked Cur is supposed to be set, it being such a disorganized mess; but his flippant flair and supposition of the day-to-day reality that actually exists in The Great City of Deskordin is, in a word … simply monstrous. Again, I am struggling to not give too much away. But these children wind up in their basement telling ghost stories or the like by lantern light. And there’s this gods awful sub-plot regarding some lawmen … er, sheriffs … hill sheriffs, is it? … that hold their headquarters far to the northeast of the city proper in the lowly sector of Heavenward. And believe you me, this is where this novella is stretched to its thinnest; everyone with any sense whatsoever knows that the area is a mere disreputable hell that no lawman would even set one booted foot in, let alone call home.

A grotesque blot on our reality, it is no more than tens upon tens of square miles of rundown buildings, broken alleyways, burned-out coaches and broken glass … covered by packs of roving vagrants so debauched that they take to eating each other due to the scarcity of food. A horrific place; and that is why the text of this work rings so false. It’s so unrealistic that I can barely write about it with a straight face, let alone relate that to someone in person. Well, nevermind. Suffice it to say, A Kicked Cur belongs on the bookshelf of no sane individual, or on that of anyone with any taste in literature. Frankly, I immediately burned the infernal manuscript that the psychopath had given me when I had finished reading it, damn him and his incessant howling to hell. When I rise to my window, I swear I can see him there, subtly backlit by the sporadic streetlamps. And all of that would be all well and good … but gods, now how do I get this review over to the press …?

Links and Sundry

WordPress: https://richardwrithen.wordpress.com/

FB Author page: https://www.facebook.com/wrychardwrycthen/

Gothdark Speculative Fiction FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1787935258093459/
A Host Of Ills: https://www.amazon.com/Host-Ills-Shades-Cedron/dp/1520448376/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1488133880&sr=8-2&keywords=richard+writhen
A Kicked Cur: https://www.amazon.com/Kicked-Cur-Rotes-Rena/dp/1520413203/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1488133880&sr=8-3&keywords=richard+writhen
The Hiss Of The Blade: https://www.amazon.com/Hiss-Blade-Celestial-Ways-Saga/dp/1520461747/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488133880&sr=8-1&keywords=richard+writhen

Two other articles / features about Richard’s work:

https://mightythorjrs.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/guest-blog-the-planet-the-gods-and-the-magic-by-richard-writhen/

https://www.ragnarokpub.com/single-post/2016/05/12/3-Flavors-of-Fantasy-Grimdark-Gothdark-and-Mythdark

 

Richard Writhen’s Bio:

Originally from Rhode Island, Richard Writhen also lived in NYC for about ten years. He has been e-published on several notable sites such as the MightyThorJRS Blog, Techzwn.com, Grimdarkmagazine.com and Ragnarokpub.com and is the author of three novellas on Amazon KDP; A Kicked Cur, A Host of Ills and The Hiss Of The Blade. Richard also writes short form in the styles of Gothdark, Grimdark, GDSF and Psychological Horror, and will eventually be exploring the weird west.

 

Ben Galley Reviews His Novel, HEART OF STONE

And the madness continues!

Today we are back with the latest  in the AUTHORS REVIEWING THEIR OWN BOOKS SERIES! The ever dangerous Ben Galley joins us to share his thoughts on his novel The Heart of Stone.

Review of The Heart of Stone

Firstly, allow me to say that I did not like golems before reading The Heart of Stone. After finishing this “book”, I can now safely say I hate them.

I suppose I should do the decent thing and give you an overview of plot before I get into the bedrock of my review.

After a few cryptic preludes, we are introduced to some sort of stone beast as he steps off a boat into a war-torn country called Hartlund, which is painted to be as bleak as a medieval industrial estate in winter. The blurb hints at the beast being a kind of war machine, and after some brief and even bleaker world-building, we see what he’s capable of as he’s thrown straight into glorious battle against an enemy called the Last Fading. The story unfolds from there, the golem struggling to adjust to this new war, despite living through a hundred of them already. He’s been given the task of winning the civil war for the humans, and yet all he wants to do is be left alone.

What “author” Ben Galley has tried to create here, in an attempt to be boulder than his last series, is an emotional story of discovery and humanity, told through the glowing eyes of a cynical yet enrapturing, distinctly non-human character.

Unfortunately, what Galley has written instead is a 400-page treatise on how much a golem can moan about its lot in life. When Task, the golem, is not grumbling his way through battle, or complaining about his living conditions, or the noise level of a war-camp, he’s questioning his betters – us humans. The cheek of it. Instead of being poignant and revealing of human nature, it’s like the plaintiff’s script from a 17th century Judge Judy episode.

Let’s look at the characters. Task is already at rock bottom when he arrives in Hartlund. He’s a statue of cynicism, and not very fond of us lovely humans. He’s almost too good to be true. He’s immortal (ugh), and practically indestructible unless you pull out his witty tongue (ugh again). Who knew stone could be so verbose? Above all, he’s just rude. He’s been bought fair and square by the Truehards – the royal side of the civil war – and he’s been made to fight wars all his life, so what’s his problem? What has he got to complain about? This is the issue with magical creatures, IMO, they are too full of themselves. I’d rather take a dragon that knows its place any day of the week.

He’s sullen, he’s ungrateful (even though they give him a pen to sleep in… a whole pen to himself!) and he even complains when he has to crush a skull or two. He’s a real sourpuss, and most of the time I wanted to slap him across his granite face, and say, “Cheer up! It’s only been four hundred years of brutal servitude!”. He’s a truly igneous sod, taking everything for granite.

There’s a lode of far more interesting characters in the book, and each have their own sections in the story between the golem’s complaining. These are some classic fantasy characters right here. Completely original. There’s a stable girl. A mercenary knight. A crotchety old lord. A wonderful gem of a general. A scheming politician. They’re all trying to get along with the dignified business of battle, and this golem keeps ruining their days by refusing to get on being the war-slave he is, thinking he deserves “better”.

The world is described in rich “detail” through Task’s eyes, which I thought was boring. I found myself substituting my own, frankly better, world in place of his laboured descriptions. We see a glimpse of some far flung places, but most of the book is set in the rainy, wintry monochrome of Hartlund. The way that Task describes it, you would have thought a civil war had been raging here. I imagined a glowing country, rich, friendly and bucolic, but through the golem’s eyes we see endless rolling hills, tumbledown villages, wastelands, skeletal trees and fields of bones. It really eroded my enjoyment. You might enjoy that sort of thing, but if you want dose of depressing landscape, I’d recommend watching a drone fly around Chernobyl instead.

Now, some people might like this raw and grim kind of POV, where you “feel” like you’re fighting alongside Task through every blood-drenched fracas, or taking each tuff step across his bleak Hartlund with him, but I for one found it far too… realish. Where are the fairies, the unicorns? The wizards and simple struggles of good and evil? This is supposed to be fantasy, damn it, not Fifty Shades. That also reminds me of another gripe: there are no sex scenes in this book. None whatsoever. (Minus another star for that. If I had one hope halfway through this book of a saving moment, it would have been exploring non-human coitus.)

So, in summary, if you like the sound of a whining, nine-foot golem searching for retribution and justice, whinging his way through a perfectly good war, making profound yet unfounded philosophical comments on human nature, and stubbornly flinching away from his duties like a child, then The Heart of Stone is the right book for you. I hear it’s out for pre-order, or whatever. Enjoy.

The Heart of Stone is available on Amazon

To Find More Ben Galley…

http://www.bengalley.com/heart-of-stone

https://www.facebook.com/BenGalleyAuthor/

www.twitter.com/bengalley

Longoss’ review of: Black Cross – ‘First book from the tales of the Black Powder Wars’ by J P Ashman

Welcome to another episode of WRITERS REVIEWING THEIR OWN BOOKS!

I’m not sure if JP Ashman suffers some of my own delusions, but it does appear that one of his characters has escaped to write the review for him. Some might view this as cheating, but I say expecting reality from fantasy writers is madness!

Take it away, Longoss!

Longoss’ review of: Black Cross – ‘First book from the tales of the Black Powder Wars’ by J P Ashman

“Erm, what am I doing? A review?” Shrugging, Longoss stares at the tome before him, turning it over in his meaty fists whilst weighing it as if it would solve his stalled start.

You have read it, haven’t you, Longoss?”

A flash of gold as the former Black Guild assassin smiles. “Course I have, mate. Course I have. It’s just not what I’m usually asked to do now, is it?”

Just start from the beginning, Longoss.”

“No shit. I’m not gonna start from the end, am I? And ye don’t need to keep saying my name, either.” With a grunt and a scratch of his scar-riddled face, Longoss nods, before taking a deep breath and beginning his review.

“Once upon a time…”

Really?”

A dangerous glance halted any more protestations.

“Once upon a time, not so long ago, a powerful wizard with good intentions fucked up big time by pissin’ around with arcane magic.” Longoss glances up. “That’s dark magic to normal folk like us. Anyhow, this wizard released ghostly… things, that flew about the city of Wesson, infecting nasty buggers left right and centre. Well, mostly in the shit district that is Dockside, but folk all over the city started to die off, all the same. Buboes spread across ’em, puking their guts up and spreading more of the same across the slums. The City Guard burnt hundreds of bodies, thousands even, and, well, the city went to shit, and royally so! I got fucked over by Poi bastard Son, one of the three masters of the Black Guild, my guild. I lost… the first person I’d ever truly loved.” You could have sworn you saw a glint of a tear in the big man’s sunken eyes. “Someone so innocent ye wouldn’t believe it; I had to gut a man good and proper for her, but it was all for nought in the end, what with Poi Son and his bastard mark on my head.” A deep sigh before he continues. “Anyway, I digress. Sergeant Falchion, the Orismaran lad who actually released the plague – for that’s what they called it – cottoned on to what he’d unintentionally done and had the wizard, and his gnome companion, hauled in front of King Barrison and his high lords. I hear the twat Will Morton was there too, Lord High Constable of Wesson, Duke of Yewdale and whatever other titles the tit goes by these days. Well, they saw fit to punish the wizard, Severun, good and proper.” Longoss barks a laugh. “It’s not like their prissy hands are clean of death and destruction; no noble’s hands are, if ye ask me. But, that’s not what’s happening here, is it? I’m to tell ye what happens in this fat book, not give ye my opinion on Altoln and its politics – of which there is a lot. Course there is, what with noble houses and guilds and gangs at each other’s throats from one week to the next.”

Clears throat.

‘Oh aye, the book. Right, well then, another noble enters the shenanigans at one point, stepping in for the captain of the guard, who got fucked over by the plague. This guy, the Constable of Wesson, well he’s not so bad, ye see. He takes a shit load of men and horses and… wait for it… rides on the Samorlian Cathedral of all places! He has a good ol’ scrap with witchunters and inquisitors, all because two guardsmen discovered the Samorlians were torturing innocents in the heart of the city. Which is all linked, but I won’t go into that. Can ye believe that though? Torturing folk under the noses of the City Guard and the Constable of Wesson all that time. No wonder he was pissed.

“Anyhow, I get caught up with the City Guard, or elements of them, and one thing leads to another. I make some unlikely allies and in a bid to kick the fuck out of Poi Son and his bastard assassins, end up meeting a lass I kind of knew previously, to run around Dockside getting up to all sorts of mayhem and violence.” Longoss grunts a laugh. “The book does that bit well, if I do say so myself. It paints me in quite the heroic light… not sure I deserve it, but it made for good reading. Exciting. Nail-biting. That sort of thing. Oh, there’s terrible magic and beasts; goblins and kobolds and fire-breathing men, and The Three knows what else, but it’s the brutal, gritty, in-yer-face scraps that I like! Up close and sticking folk with whatever’s to hand. The hot gush of blood over said hand. The sickly-sweet taste of it over my gold teeth…” He drifts off for a while, clearly reminiscing.

“Where was I?” Longoss asks, eventually. “Ah yes, the plague and the fighting and whatnot. Well, our mages in the tower, Tyndurris, didn’t seem to be able to do anything about this spreading plague. King Barrison quarantined the city and it took Sergeant Falchion, his elf friend, and some others, to escape the city and head on out across the fields and dales to retrieve the elves from Broadleaf Forest. Elves! I ask ye? Oh, I’ve seen one or two in my time, but they wanted a convoy-load of ‘em to come and fix the wizard’s cock up.” Another deep sigh and a twitch of the mouth before Longoss goes on.

“They were some rough times, I can tell ye. Rough as Sir Samorl’s hairy balls they were. I nearly corked it many a time. As did a lot of people, and some that I now care about, believe it or not. Changed me, did those events. Changed a lot of us. Most for the better, I like to think, but some for the worse.” Grunting yet again, Longoss looks up and taps the tome with his index finger. “I lost a lot through this, this book ye would call a story. I lost a hell of a lot, but I reckon ye might gain from it. I did, in some ways. In some damned good ways. But I reckon ye’ll gain a whole world, engrained into yer head it’ll be. A world full of people like you and me. Hard done by, some. Others not so. Vicious, some. Others not so. There’s as varied a folk in these pages, in my world, as there is in any. And you, my friends, get to delve into their heads and histories and antics. You get to see them at their best and worst, their most vulnerable and their most savage. There’s no holds barred. There’s no skipping past the grim bits, I’m afraid, for we had to live those times, and so should you!

“Now go on and fuck off, the lot of ye. I’ve got some bastards to mess up, even if I can’t kill folk no longer.

“I’ve been Longoss, and ye’ve been intrigued! See ye, for now…”

 

 

Black Guild – Second book from the tales of the Black Powder Wars is out late Spring/early Summer.

Find JP Ashman o Godreads

Website: https://jpashman.com

Buy on Amazon UK

Buy on Amazon US

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JP_Ashman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jpashmanblackpowderseries/?ref=bookmarks

Michael R. Miller reviews Michael R. Miller’s THE DRAGON’S BLADE

And the AUTHORS REVIEWING THEIR OWN BOOKS series continues!

This week Michael R. Miller, author of The Dragon’s Blade books (The Reborn King, and Veiled Intentions), has popped in to review his first novel, The Dragon’s Blade: Reborn King.

Review of My Own Book for Michael R. Fletcher

The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King, reviewed by Michael R. Miller

Oh for fuck sake, not another dragon book. I’m serious, if these authors can’t think of anything better I may well give up on this genre. And yeah, I know the dragons are in humanoid form, and they’re fast and strong, and basically like a race of Captain Americas running around with swords, but big fucking deal. I see the word dragon and I smell the, well I don’t smell much because it’s bland generic, isn’t it?

Right, so now that’s out the way, you might be wondering what the whole ‘Reborn King’ thing is about. Darnuir is the titular king of the title, a dragon who is mortally wounded and only saved by being reborn. Literally. No nonsense here, a wizard literally reverses time on him. It heals him but reverts him back to being a new born baby. Handy that wizard was around I suppose. Well, the magic is quite well thought out. I’ll be fair. It’s called Cascade energy and comes from the world itself, a bit like lava, and seeps into the ground, the water and the air. Those who draw upon it gain great power but quickly become addicted. Cascade is poisonous and has to be drained away using a wizard’s staff like an external liver. Wizards who don’t attend their AA meetings regularly may find they overdose and ‘break’ – entering a state of totally psychological meltdown. Hmm, that’s a little bit grim… I’ll add a point on for that.

So, why the rebirth? What’s this author up to? IS DARNUIR ‘DRAGON JESUS’? Well, not really. He comes back and we see him grow up in a new environment and it’s interesting to see his attitudes change because of his new surroundings. Nurture vs nature and all that. Darnuir’s change is welcome because his attitude to humanity pre-rebirth was frankly appalling and just shy of suggesting they all get booted out of his big special golden city. Once he comes of age, the Dragon’s Blade returns to him and the mantle of kingship is forced upon our unsuspecting young man. Memories of his old life begin to awaken in him along with his old prejudices and personality. Two Darnuir’s begin to emerge, the old and the new, both within the one person. His struggle for identity becomes both external and internal as he struggles to bridge the links between the two races as a fledgling king, and within his own damned head. I began to find myself sympathising with the poor bloke… imagine having that happen to you? Pff, I thought, rolling my eyes. He does swing that big sword around quite a lot so he can’t be too upset.

There’s also something about a big dark demonic threat to the world but really Darnuir’s journey lies at the heart of this story. There are plenty of sub-plots, secondary characters, extra POVs and world-building to build the foundation for a solid trilogy. Yet another bloody trilogy…

I suppose if you like fast-paced epic fantasy novels which reinvent or twist many of the old beloved tropes and trappings of the genre then you could give The Dragon’s Blade a go. Word on the street is there is an audio version available so you wouldn’t have to put any real effort in. You could listen to it while doing the dishes, walking the dog or scrubbing the toilet.

Back Cover Copy:

Dragons once soared in the skies, but that was before the Transformation, before they took human form. Now, demonic forces stand to obliterate them. When left mortally wounded, Darnuir, the Prince of Dragons, can only be saved through a dangerous rebirthing spell. He is left as a babe in human hands.

Twenty years later, Darnuir is of age to wield the Dragon’s Blade. As the last member of his bloodline, he is the only one who can. He is plunged into a role he is not prepared for, to lead a people he does not know. Shadowy demons ravage his new home and the alliance between humans, dragons and fairies has fractured.

Time is short, for new threats and deadlier enemies are emerging…

Amazon UK

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dragons-Blade-Reborn-King/dp/1909122653/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1487505806&sr=8-2

Amazon US –

https://www.amazon.com/Dragons-Blade-Reborn-King/dp/1909122653/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Audible UK –

http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Dragons-Blade-Audiobook/B01MZ98YRB

Audible US –

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Dragons-Blade-Audiobook/B01MS6VUZC

An Author’s Book Review – INISH CARRAIG by JO ZEBEDEE

I was at work totally working at not at all daydreaming when it occurred to me that it might be fun to host a series where author’s reviewed their own books. With my usual planning and foresight and deep contemplating of consequences I immediately began pestering several of my favourite novelists. Some agreed. Some wanted me out of their bathroom.

And so I bring you the first in a series of indeterminate length!

 

JO ZEBEDEE  Reviews INISH CARRAIG

This book confuses the hell out of me, on just about every level. It’s sci-fi, with not much sci-fi, it’s young adult, but it’s also adult. And half of it is written in a Northern Irish accent. This, I have to admit, intrigued me. I expected words like ‘eejit’ and ‘wee’, with the odd ‘ye boyo’ thrown in. Instead I got just about every swear word I’ve encountered before – 30 years of inventive language captured in around 150 pages. And this from an author of the fairer sex – she must have a serious potty-mouth.

Anyhow, to the plot. We have two sets of aliens with various unpronounceable names, and both want to take charge of Earth. One set are evil and invaded Earth – but might not be evil, really – and one set arrived later to help – but they might not be helping. In fact, because the author stays in her pesky characters’ thoughts the whole time, and because her characters know nothing useful, we end up as confused as they are. It has the unsettling effect of feeling like you’re the person in the sodding book. I read for escapism, not to end up glancing behind me in case the dog has turned into some sort of alien monster. (Hard to tell the difference on a bad day. All most unsettling.)

And then there’s the title of the damn book. Inish Carraig? What in the name of God does that mean? It’s not even syfy.

Turns out Inish Carraig is a bloody big alien prison (which was cool, I’ll give the author that) called the Irish for Rocky Island. How it escaped having a fucking in there for good measure I have no idea. From there, our hero has to escape and there are bots – at last, something scifi – and sisters on the run down spooky train lines and cops getting beat up by aliens. On top of that, it’s set in Belfast, but the city has been trashed (didn’t notice much difference, truth be told) and everyone’s fighting the aliens now instead of each other. (So, like, minus points for utter fiction there.)

Would I recommend this book? Only if you like alien shit and don’t mind dark scenes and dark humour. Oh and the most scarily creepy prison walls I’ve ever read (thanks for the nightmares, Zebedee.) Ignore it if you don’t like curse words and characters who remind you of real people you might actually meet. Cos, you know, fiction. If I wanted real life and real people, I’d get out more.

1 star. And that’s for the walls. They were pretty cool. Oh, and the babe who came into it near the end. More of her!

 

Back Cover Copy

Post-alien invasion Belfast. Earth has been defeated. Pity the locals aren’t listening. Teenager John Dray will do whatever he must to survive. When he’s offered desperately needed food in exchange for dispersing a mysterious compound over the city, he takes the job. The compound turns out to be lethal to the alien invaders and John is charged with xenocide. He’s sent to Inish Carraig, a forbidding prison, where he discovers a conspiracy that threatens Earth and everyone he loves. He has to unveil the plot. He just has to get out of prison first.

Buy INISH CARRAIG.