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Tuesday 28 August 2018

Writing market - American psychos anthology


Red Room Press is seeking stories for a new dark crime/thriller/horror anthology, American Psychos: A Serial Killer Anthology. Inspired by the most disturbingly violent and graphic crime thriller novels of our time, including Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho, Shane Steven’s By Reason of Insanity, Michael Slade’s Headhunter, their goal is to make American Psychos a brutal, suspenseful, nightmare-inducing hard ride into hell.

Stories must be about a serial killer, obviously. The story can either be based on a real serial killer or a fictional serial killer. Stories should primarily be set in the USA, but the character may travel abroad. They want stories that are brutal, graphic, disturbing and violent. The above referenced books will give you a good idea of what they’re looking for. Serial killers must be human; no supernatural elements, monsters, or vampires. They can have supernatural beliefs, however, and they can be any gender or race.

Editors: Randy Chandler and Cheryl Mullenax.
Deadline: October 1, 2018.
Publication Date: Early 2019
Length: 3500-5500 words.
Response Time: 4-8 weeks
Payment for original stories: $100

Go to the website for details on what to send. There are also several comments from potential contributors: 

Good luck!

Saturday 25 August 2018

Book review - Joseph Barnaby

Sue Roebuck’s 2018 novel Joseph Barnaby is an engaging romance set on Madeira. It begins with a prologue flashback to March 2016 when Joe Barnaby is offered a lucrative job as a farrier to a successful trainer, Bobby Shaw. The chapter ends with a friendly warning by an acquaintance for Joe to ‘watch his back’… 

The story then shifts to August 2017 and we meet Sofia who lives with her aunt and uncle on a small island off Madeira itself. She’s twenty-six, sure-footed like a goat on vertiginous cliff faces, tends a number of bee hives, is beautiful, and is deaf. She communicates with her family by sign, though she can speak; her affliction was as a result of contracting meningitis when she was eight.

Working on the island as labourer and general helper is Joe, who has escaped from England for some reason still to be revealed…

For several months Joe had worked in a bar in the Madeiran town, quickly learning Portuguese. He proved popular with the regulars and made the acquaintance of a distinctive lady called Lua: ‘Her hair had always looked like unruly red serpents as if she used the same hairdresser as Medusa’ (p110). And then Joe was hired by Sofia’s uncle.

The scene is set. Gradually, and enchantingly, the pair get to know each other – the reticent Joe and the strong-willed Sofia. A fly in the ointment is Dário, who wants Sofia as his sweetheart. But he doesn’t like to hear her speak, and would rather she stuck to gestures, though he never bothered to learn sign-language. Sofia wasn’t comfortable with using basic gestures ‘because it amused onlookers and made her feel like an amateur Marcel Marceau.’ (p14)

Dário is deluded, however, even as he wondered why Sofia would be reluctant when he was such a good catch. ‘They were made for each other, soul-mates, kindred spirits. She’d soon realise her mistake, he was sure.’ (p106)

There are light-hearted moments and humour as well as mystery and suspense. When Joe is being driven by a local doctor with a car-load of deaf passengers, he foolishly asks a question. Whereupon the doctor takes his hands off the steering wheel to sign to his passengers! ‘Joe decided that if he valued his life on this twisty road, then he wouldn’t ask any more questions.’ (p186)

It’s also a book about relationships – not just the Joe-Sofia pairing. The Joe and Lua scenes are at turns mysterious and amusing. The fondness of Sofia’s aunt and uncle for Joe is exhibited subtly, with a light touch.

The accomplished storytelling of Sue Roebuck is bolstered by her strong affinity for Madeira and its people which shines through in descriptive passages that put you in the scene. And as a result I definitely cared about the characters.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Review - Hot Lead #2

This second homage to the western is as lavishly illustrated as the first. Not only a pleasure to read, to view, but also a collector’s item!  The full colour images justify the cost of the magazine. And what images!

Although this issue covers the art of the western, it kicks off with an article about the film – and book – Charro! It makes fascinating reading, concerning the original written treatment, the novelisation and the mediocre Elvis film itself.

#2 features the western artwork of Tony Masero, who has been supplying paperback covers since the 1960s – in all genres. Besides an interesting interview with many accompanying covers there’s a gallery of six full-page paintings. Tony painted the cover of my 2012 Black Horse Western Old Guns.

Then there’s an overview of the western illustrations of artist Frank Bellamy, who died too young at  59. He was one of my favourite illustrators of the 1960s with his Dan Dare, Fraser of Africa and Heros the Spartan strips. He drew three western adventures for the sci-fi Garth series, every black-and-white panel a work of art.

Germany had a vast following of westerns from the late 1940s until the 1980s, and a good portion of the output is considered here; the artwork and storylines were heavily influenced by the Spaghetti western explosion, though censorship reared its head, too…

Finally, author Paul Bishop gives us a colourful overview of western comics, ranging from the 1930s to the rather sparse present. I fondly remember some of the covers depicted!

Recommended for fans of westerns and nostalgia buffs.

Monday 20 August 2018

Protagonists perfectly portrayed and felt very real

A 5-star review for Catalyst - #1 in the 'Avenging Cat' series

"A fast-paced thriller that opens with an exciting vertical climb up a building. Sounds like a regular cat-burglar? No, this is Catherine Vibrissae, more accustomed to rock climbing and desperate to get revenge for her father’s death.

There are several themes to the plot including murder, animal rights and environmental abuses, as well as huge corporations running riot (these last three are subjects which I too would fight against). The plot lines are all nicely tied up by the end – although this is a series and will continue into the next book.

With the protagonists (who are perfectly portrayed and felt very real) hopping around England, Wales and Spain, this novel offers up an exciting and enjoyable read."

Thank you, reviewer Sue Roebuck!

212 pages. 
The e-book is still at a bargain price - 90p/99cents!

The paperback's good value too - at £5.99... but not for long!!!

Sunday 19 August 2018

Works in progress (2) - Floreskand: Prophecy

For many years the mythical land of Floreskand has been developed and expanded upon by its creator, Gordon Faulkner. He began during an extended stay in hospital, markedly influenced by Oriental culture, especially Chinese. In the late 1960s he started training in Oriental martial arts and after joining the RAF in the early 1970s, during his off-duty time he specialised in Chinese martial arts and Daoist philosophy. During his 22 year career in the RAF, he was one of the founders and General Secretary of the RAF Martial Arts Federation, a post he held until his retirement from military service, when he became a full-time Daoist Arts teacher. This resulted in extensive travel within Europe and North America where he was invited to run seminars and give lectures.


Gordon met me in Malta, where I was based with the Royal Navy. We both were involved in martial arts training, though Gordon was considerably more advanced than me! 

Me martial arts training in Malta, 1975
When he mentioned his mythical Floreskand, its characters, coinage, history, geology, religion and myths, I became intrigued.  So, in 1974 we decided to work on a series of novels set in this colourfully imagined land, and we settled on the pen-name Morton Faulkner. Not long afterwards, Gordon was re-posted back to UK.
These were the pre-computer days. I typed out the story on a portable Remington, with a carbon copy. We communicated by post. I’d write the story and Gordon would supply hand-written (and sometimes typed) background information. Out of this grew a 106,000-word fantasy novel, Wings of the Overlord, which had a few near-misses with a handful of publishers over the years...
Finally, in 2014 we found a publisher willing to take on the series, The Chronicles of Floreskand. Sadly, although we supplied the second installment on time, there were delays and problems in getting it published, so we amicably severed our ties. At this point, both by now getting a little long in the tooth, we determined to go it alone and self-publish. The first volume was revised and published as Floreskand: Wings and we promptly followed it with Floreskand:King, both in 2017.  This year, we completed the third book, Floreskand:Madurava and published it in May (in Floreskand, a madurava is a compass though it possesses arcane qualities too). We are now working on the fourth installment, Floreskand: Prophecy.
There are a number of recurring characters in the series. There’s Ulran, the mystical innman, Ranell his son, the despot King Saurosen, the Underpeople, also known as the Ratava, the wormlike schwarm, good and bad wizards and mages, ordinary soldiers, workers, tradesmen, generals, Aurelan Crossis, a soldier on a quest of vengeance, queens and powerful women, including Lorar, the kidnapped girlfriend of Ranell, destined for subjugation and humiliation at the hands of her tormentor, Epal Danorr… And of course there are maps – plenty of maps – and comprehensive glossaries.
Wings - Three disparate adventurers set out from Lornwater on a quest, Ulran, Courdour Alomar and Cobrora Fhord. Plagued by assassins, forces of nature and magic, they cross the plains of Floreskand, combat Baronculer hordes, scale snow-clad Sonalume Mountains and penetrate the dark heart of Arisa. Here they uncover truth, evil and find pain and death.
King - Lornwater city was ripe for rebellion against King Saurosen. Subterfuge, betrayal, conspiracy, greed, revenge and thirst for power motivate rich and poor alike. Muddying the fight are the Sardan mystics. At stake is the Black Sword, the powerful symbol that entitles the holder to take the throne of Lornwater.
Madurava - Lornwater's Madurava House signifies a change in the alignment of the sacred compass – pointing to the dunsaron. Also heading in that direction are the Ratava, the schwarm, Lord Tanellor, the daughter of Arqitor, Charja Nev, First-commander Nimentan Pellas, and almaturge Rait Falo, all destined for conflict... And we meet again Ulran, Ranell, Lorar, Epal Danorr and Watchman Dep.
The blurb for Prophecy reads:
As the events in Madurava unfold, Lornwater’s Madurava House undergoes a significant alteration in the alignment of its spirit statues, signifying the prophet is coming! Though it is not clear from which direction…
If there is any truth in the prophecy, then many of the city kingdoms of Floreskand will be shaken to their core.
Barely recovered from his ordeal in King, Aurelan Crossis sets out on a journey of vengeance against the deposed king Saurosen, which takes him into the midst of pilgrims heading for the Sacred Hills, where he will be sorely tested.
Bindar, a survivor of the strife in Wings, now trains mountain troops in Arion. In the Vale of Belet he comes into contact with the Haram Sect as well as a powerful fugitive from his past.
The ordeal for Lorar worsens as she is taken by her tormentor Danorr to Arisa…
The emperor of Tarakanda is faced with heightened political and religious tensions that threaten to destabilise the empire.
And Lornwater is still recovering from the civil strife, where factions of Remainers continue to threaten the life of the rightful king. Watchman Welde Dep finds his investigations bring him closer to Queen Tantian, risking the jealousy and enmity of the king.
The saga of Floreskand continues…
We hope to complete Prophecy this year (2018) and even move on to its successor, tentatively entitled Tarakanda.
Maybe writers who have hit proverbial brick walls with their works will be consoled by our experience. Many traits are required of a writer – and among them are perseverance and self-belief. Never give up!

More about Gordon:
He is a member of the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding and a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society. In 1990 he had the first of what was to eventually become annual trips to China. These trips take students to study at the Beijing University of Physical Education (BUPE) and visit various research establishments, hospitals, temples, markets, bars, etc. He is the Principal Instructor of the Chanquanshu School of Daoist Arts which he founded in 1983; it now has in excess of 300 registered students. At a ceremony held at BUPE he became Ru Shi Dizi (an outstanding and close disciple) of Professor Zhang Guangde, the creator of Daoyin Yangsheng Gong which is a part of the Chinese National Fitness Program. And at a Ba Shi ceremony in a temple on Mount Wudang, Central China, he was initiated as a 15th generation Wudang Boxing disciple of Daoist Master You Xuande. He is the author of Managing Stress with Qigong. Gordon and his wife, Maria have two children and six grandchildren and live in the Scottish Highlands.