Saturday, 31 December 2011

Hold's Ruin Blurb!

I really want to upload all four parts on Amazon and save the finale (Seralruhn) for a little while so here's the blurb for the penultimate volume of Drawn Breath:

A convergence of powers draws near. The Orphans have amassed their strength and seek reprisal through their unorthodox and frightening guerrilla methods. The number one mass consumed drug of Hhaam, Lasserie faces extinction as beneath its fertile soil is the seething fury of the Meishma, but will the paramilitary drug cartel known as Forma allow such a terrible fate to befall their super-crop? Hold's investments now appear to be turning toxic and the backlash from years of ruthless dominance could shatter the fiefdom...forever. The Lords of Hold ever observe, will they after so long, finally draw out their blades and plunge into war? Can the combined forces of the Meishma and the Bh'ar'zel withstand the venom of the sovereign and rise triumphant? All the pieces are set, terrifyingly close to the brink, the world watches on in horror. It only takes one shudder to bring they everything hold dear into ruin. Hold's Ruin is the penultimate volume of the epic fantasy novel Drawn Breath.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Amelack Somatres & Orphans On KDP Select for Free!

So after much trepidation, observing and lurking on Kindle Boards, I bit the bait and I will put the second and third parts of Drawn Breath on KDP Select. What will entail is a five day period out of the 90 days of exclusivity where both will be completely free. The first part will still be available on Smashwords and all the other competitive e-book retailers for free. So Amelack Somatres (available for free from 12:00 AM PST 28/12/2011) and Orphans (soon to be scheduled) can be found below, respectively:

This is a simple experiment to see if KDP Select will benefit me in anyway. As I am a fledgling author, my main goal at this moment is visibility and gaining a readership. This is probably the best mode at the moment that is free and relatively transparent. Exclusivity I have no issue with as I have three other books that are available for SW, BN iTunes etc. distribution. I see this as an opportunity in an exciting time where a lot of people will be on Amazon looking to fill up their Kindles (granted they will definitely fill them with authors they know first). And 90 days in the span of a book's lifetime is small, plus you can opt out after that time and they remind you 15 days in advance.

I haven't jumped ship, nor was I lured by the $500,000 carrot (in fact that is what enticed me the least) nor am I being conscripted to this "Evil Empire" many indies are now dreaming up. This is a labour of love but it is also a business and I would like to see if my books can be successful, this is one of several business opportunities that are to come in these emerging times, so why not if you have other material still to come, test the waters a little.


Saturday, 24 December 2011

Orphans Blurb and Taster

The third part of my book Drawn Breath is called Orphans. It has to be the most enjoyable part in my opinion in terms of writing and the countless rereading and editing. For those who have read part I and part II the characters are brand new and it is set in a vastly different realm to what one may have grown accustomed to in Wrought Iron and Amelack Somatres. It is likely to be up and available in the New Year but since it is Christmas I decided to put up the blurb and a little taster:

"In the child mines of Hold only the strong and the broken survive. This is the undisputed truth. Buried alive under the earth are hundreds of orphaned children, working as slaves for the betterment of Hold. Death is certain here and none live very long. The children turn to cults and rituals to survive, helplessly mimicking the savagery on the ground above them. In the sun-starved tunnels follow four new characters: Caral, the boy who survived the Glass Rain and has an innate understanding of the world. Roan - alleged to be superhuman, yet beneath his legend is a tortured mind. Baran - an arrogant boy obsessed with blades. Sima - an influential power-broker in the inner workings of the mines and a dangerous beauty.
Orphans weaves the stories of these four as they realise their potential and strive to overcome the fetters they were born into. But in their struggle, is something else, something subtle and resounding created? The epic Drawn Breath continues with this enthralling and heart rending tale of human endeavour: Part III."
 There are no spoilers in the following excerpt:

Sima was seated reading in a Senior Mining Officer or Pustule's office. All around her were gold ornaments on a mantelpiece that went around all the walls, renditions of small animals, embroidered hourglasses with gilded sand grains, a large clock was at the back of the office, its bronze pendulum swung side to side with soft clicks. Next to it was a cabinet filled with bottles of liquors and spirits from all over Hhaam. Directly opposite her was a padded leather chair. On the oak table she was was seated in front of was a carafe of some purple fluid with two crystal glasses next to it. A single bright torch in the corner burned white with Calce. None of these items interested Sima; she was consumed by something more important. Access to many libraries from above land was one of the benefits afforded her by being one of the Ignited. Her eyes rolled across her history book: The Peoples of Mickali:
The Mickali people were very superstitious. They were obsessed with Death; they personified it and venerated it in hope of some means of appeasement. But they saw Death as beyond communication with humans, thus any intercession with Death was through the Jackals: animals that were rife in that period which they viewed as the gatekeepers of the Underworld.’
Officer Murgen came into his office closing the door with a click and walking past Sima. She did not look up.
“Sorry about my tardiness. It's becoming harder by the day to control the rabble.” he said with a groan.
He sat down in front of her, leaning back and stretching with a sigh. His sleepy eyes slid up and down her. He was in the brown robes of the Pustules, leather straps were woven around his elbows and wrists. He wore worn black leather gloves open at the finger tips. His mine scarf was down around his throat revealing a grizzled jaw and short straggly brown hair with blond streaks. His skin did not have the redness of the Mines, a sign that he was a typically absent Pustule who only had superficial understanding of the inner workings of the Orphans. He leaned forward after taking her in.
“Some wine?”
Sima's eyes remained down, she shook her head gently.
“You know control is all that matters here. Chaos is anathema.” Murgen filled his glass “And you Orphans seem to know this, you make your own rules, your own codes of conduct and abide by them. All we do is feed you and house you and monitor your progress in the mines. Indeed, you are all steadfast and this is praiseworthy.”
Sima raised her eyebrows slightly. False words, he does not know anything of what goes on in Koltoom, of the pain of the people. She showed no other sign she was listening.
“But as I am sure you know the masses need a chosen few to lead, this is the only effective mode of society. And this is where your cult comes in.” He took a wide gulp of his drink then drummed his fingers on the table.
The Jackals were described by the Mickali as ruthless and inexorable, the true delegates of mortality. They only dealt in absolutes, no human on Hhaam could wager with them, one could only be one of two extremes alive or dead, there was no middle-ground to debate on. However there was a divide among the people, some believed the Jackals could be bargained with through communion and sacrifices, the others believed in the original concept that the Jackals were beyond any whims of mortals and were simply exponents of their god, Death. Arguments seethed between the two factions. Those who believed in sacrifices became more bloody in their actions in an attempt to extend their lives. The original faction saw this as futile and said “The Jackals look upon you and laugh. Death does not care.”’
“Supri in her...wisdom asked me to speak to you.”
Sima stopped reading and looked up through those jaded eyes, she waited.
“Don't worry, not just you, all of your priesthood. She wanted it known that changes are going to occur in all the mines where the cult has spread, and to trust in her. The Mining Officers are fully behind this. All will reveal itself in due time.” He smiled leeringly at her.
That fool, she thinks we fear the Pustules. She really has lost it.
He got up now after downing the last of his wine and strolled very slowly around his table.
“For it is only with the intention to maintain these children. All they want is a story to help them sleep, to drive them on and make them work, to alleviate their fears of random death, just out of sight on all sides, to give them some significance in their little lives, to give them a happy ending.”
“Longevity.” Sima said, her eyes following Murgen as he came round to where she sat. He planted his backside on the table, rubbing his thighs. Sima resumed reading.
“Yes, of course you understand. Supri told me you would. She told me you would...yield.”
He leaned forward at peered at her body noting her firm, full chest rising and falling slowly, her Yamenca wrapped around her soft honey skinned body, her slender legs folded over each other showing the curve and dip of her hips.
“She is a good girl, well-versed. But she, no she has nothing on you. You are becoming a beautiful woman. A Lori Island native, such a rarity... I have always wondered what you were like, Sima.” His eyes looked dreamily over her hair, thick and bunched over her shoulders. He shuffled closer to her. Sima was still, her eyes moving left to right over her pages. “To touch you... I have wondered why they called you that name.” He moved closer still his eyes boring into her.
“Would you show me Sima? Why they call you Black Lasserie?”
He reached out to touch her chest. Before he could even lay a fingertip down Sima lashed out with her left hand in a back-fist, the force and speed of the strike spun Murgen's neck right round to face the far wall, snapping it, he expired with a feeble groan, the side of his face that her knuckles impacted on caved in, blood and teeth sprayed out over the gold ornaments on the mantel piece knocking some of them over. Murgen's large, adult body whipped round in the air, lifting off the table and fell down to the floor, as it fell, his head smacked into the table and blood splattered along it narrowly avoiding Sima's book, which she did not even look up from. The carafe toppled over and poured the rest of its purple innards onto the office floor. Sima held her fist in the air like a sledgehammer, blood dripped down from her knuckles, landing in drops on Murgen's forehead that was face down, his dead eyes rolled up looking at the ceiling.
...The Jackals allowed those to pass painlessly onto the Underworld who carried no conceit, those who did not seek to challenge or bargain with Death but bowed in humility to the natural order of the world. Those who claimed immortality, those who had no real insight into the beauty of being born, living then dying, they indeed felt pain in their passing.’

 Hope that whets your appetite a little. Merry Christmas!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Books that have influenced my writing

I find myself time and time again reflecting on the books that have influenced the themes, characters and world building that I put in my writing. I'll list three of the most recent ones, these are also recommendations as well as a hint as to the style and content of my writing.

1. Blood Meridian

A book unlike any other I have read. It takes the idea of a typical western and guts it alive exposing the bloody and depraved reality that was the Wild West. McCarthy's lyrical and verbose writing generates a fantastical aura over the Glanton gang and their ceaseless indulgence in the base aspects of Man. His style greatly influences my own. There is an extremely high level of violence that is not for everyone and may distract those not sufficiently desensitized from appreciating the many profound themes explored in this book. In fact violence is itself a strong theme and the general effect of McCarthy's writing is to progressively numb you to the increasing appalling acts that are done with wanton discretion. It explores the warlike nature of Man, fatalism and nihilism, Man's inherent need to dominate in the world and evil.
One of the most extraordinary abilities of McCarthy is transforming a character into something transcendent and thematic, most notably seen in Judge Holden, who many after reading liken him to the Devil and has bordering supernatural qualities. We also see this in No Country For Old Men where Anton Chigurh can be perceived as Fate or Death or even Luck. It is this character development and blurring between the real and the fantastical that I strive to attain in my writing.
I strongly recommend this book to readers of dark fiction who appreciate descriptive writing, have a taste for philosophy (as there are a few diatribes that may leave some weary) and are most certainly not squeamish. A defining classic.

2. Hagakure

The classic treatise that explores the way of the Samurai. It is a collection of sayings, short stories, advice and tactics collected over the years by Yamamoto Tsunetomo. The Way of the Samurai is built on the acceptance of death and the lack of fear that transforms a katana from a potential weapon to an unbeatable, cutting terror. Then there is the undying loyalty to one's master, such that if one''s master were to die the retainer would consequently commit suicide or Junshi or Tsuifuku without fail. It is strongly fatalist and almost morbid. But what is more subtle is the statement throughout the text that there is liberation beyond any other in accepting death and moving with no care, as if one were already dead and it is this acceptance that makes one truly live in the moment and not focused on the future whether tomorrow, next month or five years from now. The Way of the Samurai is all about the immediate, the here and now (and we see this in Buddhism and Yogic practices, which also influence my writing). There are also rather inspiring quotes that make one strive to be stronger and more skillful, for example:

"Throughout your life advance daily, becoming more skillful than yesterday, more skillful than today. This is never-ending."

I have always been fascinated by the Samurai and their code, despite it's inherent violence and almost obsessive divulgence on death and the act of dying. Some of my favourite films or Anime involve some aspect of that culture (Seven Samurai, Shogun Assassin, Zatoichi, Rurouni Kenshin) and I love their craftsmanship and artisan approach to smithing, the katana has to be arguably the strongest and most graceful sword ever created. All these qualities I've mentioned are pervasive in every part of Drawn Breath, from the continual training and growing more skillful, to crafting swords (or blades in that world), to appreciation and acceptance of death, to loyalty, to becoming god-like in battle. The Somatres-an (which you will read about in my book) is an amalgam of several martial cultures but most notably the Samurai. I recommend this book to anyone interested in Japanese culture, has a taste for history and is not afraid to embrace a completely alien and sometimes archaic approach to life. The book on Samurai.

3. Dune

As the front cover says, the supreme classic of science fiction. An epic exploration of a desert world known as Arrakis, the peoples that inhabit it known as the Fremen, the mysterious and much sought after spice called Melange and of course the sand worms. It is a masterfully spun web of politics, religion, socio-economic mechanics, ecology, war, humanity and science, with a graceful pace that allows you to fully absorb the world that was so vivid in Herbert's mind. It is maverick in its approach to science fiction as it does not focus on technological advancements or physics, rather it looks at biology most notably in genetics and human advancement and of course the ecology of Arrakis and the sand dunes, despite it's lack of light sabres and X-wing fighters, it is amazing stuff. Although my work is more fantasy than science fiction there are many aspects of Dune as well as the style of Frank Herbert that thread themselves through my novels.
I have always ruminated on human advancement or evolution and some of my earliest ideas for films or novels were evolved humans or specially adapted humans. The quality of adaptation to the various realms in nature we see that has always enthralled me (Frozen Planet anyone?) and it is deeply placed in Drawn Breath and presents itself many times. In Dune the human advancement is the Kwisatz Haderach, a super human if you will, a culmination of generations of selective breeding who has absolute prescience and has complete control of all his senses and can in a sense control threads of events in time. Although I do not go that far in my book there is a focus on senses beyond the five innate (not ESP!) that enhance a human's ability to be a better soldier or Somatres-an. It was reading the first four of the Dune Series that made the idea of Sera (no explanation, as to what that is here...) come to full fruition.
Melange and the effects of mind altering substances is also a strong theme in Dune as well as the effect of its availability on the interplanetary economy. Although I do not explore metaphysical possibilities with drugs, drug use and the effects of drugs on the global economy of Hhaam is explored in depth throughout my book. I feel that it is a vital aspect of humanity that should be explored if looking at any alternative society or our own. Another book that influenced me and is one of my all-time favourites, which I may talk about in another post is Brave New World, the consumer, master-drug Soma has some influence on the substances that pervade the world I created as well as the various societies' reaction to them. I also explore the problem of legality/decriminalisation in Amelack Somatres although it is not central to the overall story it is a subtle tone that blends with the overall aesthetic of the book.
Although it is not fully divulged until The God Emperor, becoming a God among men has also been something that I am captivated by. Having the masses revere a  being just like them and then cloaking them in legend and conjecture such that millenia later they are seen as gods is one of the most implacable but ever present behaviours of humanity. But what is explored in the God Emperor and Dune, is the thoughts and philosophy of a man who has become as close to a God as possible. The philosophical exploration and monologues are in depth and enthralling although sometimes confusing and Herbert can get tied up and over-excited in his thoughts. These ideas as well as the ability to shape others' destinies is something that is central to the entire Drawn Breath novel. What is also looked at is the idea of power and what it truly means to hold it; can that grasp truly be maintained? This is also explored in Drawn Breath.
There are several other themes that glint in my writing here and there but those were the main ones. If you are a science fiction fan and have not read this then you must be a sandworm, burrowed under three kilometres of sand, because you simply have to read this essential work, even if just to say you have. It is worth reading the next three also, especially Dune Messiah and the God Emperor. I'm on Chapterhouse Dune but I've had a bit of a break from the Arrakis/Rakis world. I recommend this for readers who are not afraid of italics, who enjoy jumping from different POV, who love exploring the cold, hard and real complexities of new worlds and not just flowery descriptions of scenery and are looking for a fresh approach to science fiction. Essential reading.

So those are three out of many other books that have influenced my work. I will make a post on several films that have influenced my work as well as anime. Note these are all recommendations and reviews in part. So if you're loved ones haven't put your presents under the tree (or post-modern purple and yellow contraption barely resembling a tree) then hint at them possibly getting Blood Meridian or Hagakure or Dune, all three I definitely think should be read by any mature, open minded reader.

If however you are one of those fortunate few who have read one, two or all three of these books and love them then I salute you and recommend checking out my own books to see if they interest you. Once again Drawn Breath is composed of five parts (totally complete, edited and formatted) and the first two parts are up on Smashwords (for free) and Amazon. It costs on Amazon because I am still waiting for Amazon to price match with Apple, B & N, Diesel and Kobo. The blurbs and book descriptions are in my blog archives as well as the links which I will provide below.

Drawn Breath (Part I - Wrought Iron) [Smashwords and free!]:

Drawn Breath (Part I - Wrought Iron) [Amazon $0.99]

Drawn Breath (Part II - Amelack Somatres) [Smashwords and free!]

Drawn Breath (Part II - Amelack Somatres) [Amazon $0.99]

If you happen to like my writing and if you find the time and are sufficiently moved please like their pages on both Amazon and Smashwords, or even write a brief review!


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Amelack Somatres on Smashwords!

That's right...part two of Drawn Breath is now available on Smashwords and shortly on Amazon, once again it is completely free to download and available in all possible formats.  Find the link below:

Amelack Somatres Blurb

The Schtarelruhn Era has ended. The Lords of Hold have ascended to the platform of sovereignty and govern their fief with a genocidal grasp. The global drug of choice - Lasserie is now legal within Hold's walls. Having a most lucrative product snatched away from the criminal underworld, an even more insidious and deadly narcotic has risen up from the illicit broil. Plans are set in place to begin mining on the Rict Plains with an unprecedented work force, but who will it consist of? Amo and Suun, now soldiers of the Bh'ar'zel, infiltrate the murky networks and social strata of Hold to gain some understanding of the minds that created it. Can they fathom the enigma that surrounds them? What clues from the past can be gleaned about the Sha'n Ten and will it even be of any use? The sprawling, violent world the two brothers stormed into is now unfolding in earnest and power they never dreamed possible now seeks to engulf them. Continue the journey in this, the second part of the epic - Drawn Breath.

Smashwords Premium Distribution

As of 13/12/2011 the first part of my book has been conducted into the Smashwords premium distribution. This means my book will be shipped to major online retailers: Apple, Sony, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, WH Smith, the Diesel eBook store and more. The time it takes to actually appear in stores is a bit in the air (within two weeks of acceptance into the Premium catalogue) but I am happy, because the process was fairly straight forward and my book got accepted in exactly a week with no hassle.

The key thing, for anyone wishing to upload onto Smashwords and get onto the Premium Catalogue is to READ THE SMASHWORDS STYLE GUIDE AND USE IT FOR EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR BOOK. Again READ THE SMASHWORDS STYLE GUIDE AND USE IT FOR EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR BOOK. It can be found on the Smashwords website. It really does not take that long, dedicate a few hours out of your weekend to working through it then once you have got it, you ill not forget it. Granted it is easier for people who have experience with Word or Open Office or formatting large pieces of writing in general. But if you stick to it, you will not get any AutoVetter errors, your book will be fast-tracked to getting looked at and you WILL be put into the premium catalogue. It is easier for books with little to no images aside from the front cover. The main issue for me was paragraphs, but this is easily solved using the nuclear method (which you will read about in the style guide). Ultimately, Smashwords really does make it easy for you to format and they want you to be on the Premium Catalogue, but it does take patience to get it right.

So now that my first book is up on Amazon and soon to be at other ebook retailers I am going to release the second part this week, hopefully this evening, which will be called Amelack Somatres. It is the last part that will be free. I am going to put up the blurb in the next post. Until then...

Stay Calm And Write (SCAW)

Friday, 9 December 2011


Throughout the whole writing process there's been albums I've returned to often when writing; markedly

Burial - Burial
 His first outing. Dark, bass laden, mournful vocals, dirty loops. A defining classic.

Burial - Untrue

My favourite Burial album. This is absolute mastery. Everyone from the UK has undoubtedly heard Archangel but every song is of that standard or better. Favourite has to be Untrue or Homeless, how can something be blissful and bleak at the same time?

Charles Mingus - The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady

My favourite jazz album. The cerebral, intense, evocative masterpiece by the irascible genius that is Charles Mingus. After working through the more approachable jazz albums like Kind of Blue or Time Out I recommend everyone to listen to this album at least once. It is like listening to someone's mind pulling apart then coming back together. A lot of ideas came out whilst this was playing.

Aesop Rock - Labor Days

The lyrical tongue twister, metaphor magician, allegorical alchemist that is Aesop Rock. This is him at the height of his powers with Blockhead laying down some of the most lush, cinematic pieces of music in the history of hip hop. His verbosity always gets my mind moving. A perfect muse.

There were many more and tons of youtube surfing to find the perfect atmospheric tracks, which I must say a lot of effort went into! But half of the time I was writing in sweet silence.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

First Book on Smashwords!

Here it is in all its glory, completely free and available to download in all formats. Drawn Breath (Part I - Wrought Iron).

Monday, 5 December 2011

Wrought Iron Blurb

"Hhaam is the world torn apart by war. Hhaam is the world of the Bladesmen and the warrior class. Hhaam is the world where only the ruthless and murderous survive. Within Hhaam you either cloak yourself in the garb of the soldier or fall to the ever present predators; those eternally seeking blood and power. Amo and Suun are two rustic, young boys in this haphazard realm, sons of a father who is an alleged legendary soldier and a mother with an impenetrable mystery. They set out on the path of the soldier and train in the esoteric ways of the Bladesmen; but as they develop, the border between their idyllic childhood and the nightmarish reality begins to dissolve. Will Amo and Suun have the strength to rise above, conquering their fears and deflecting the threat of insanity, and become top soldiers? Will they truly master the mind? Follow their journey in this tale of pain, power and perseverance that marks the beginning of the epic - Drawn Breath."

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Got the bug!

Not flu! The writing bug: I can't get enough of the world I've made over the past 4-5 months (although the premise has been in my head for years). I go to sleep thinking about the story. I have dreams about the characters and what could happen to them. I wake up with parts of stories pieced together randomly then I sort through them during the day. It's crazy. Already I am thinking of ways to broaden and deepen the various threads left at the end of Drawn Breath. I am moving in the way of making a novel/novella focusing on one of the main characters whilst in parallel looking at a character several thousands years before (I'll leave it at that). It will expand on several of the themes that run through Drawn Breath: warlike man, advanced consciousness, science and mysticism, sanity and insanity. I haven't even released Wrought Iron yet and I'm thinking about a prequel!

***What I'm Listening To...***