Friday, 27 March 2015

The Surrogate Sea: Blog Tour and Guest Drabble by Danielle Shipley

Today I'm again featuring the newest book in The Wilderhark Tales, The Surrogate Sea. Author Danielle Shipley has provided, for your reading pleasure, a delightful drabble, (which is a teasing prequel to the book), plus some book info, excerpt, and a giveaway over on her website.

Smarter, Wiser, Better

A daughter.
The South Wind eyed the newborn. Though he’d not especially wanted a child, neither did he begrudge the Great Sea’s desire. But why couldn't she have the sense to birth a son?
The Sea lifted the baby toward her rolling surface. “Will you hold her?”
Wiser not to. Smarter to maintain distance. Head shaking refusal, he turned to fly, but the child’s cry slowed him.
Less a cry than a song, and sung for him. The sound ensnared his heart.
Alas: He loved her.
Wiser to go. Smarter, too. But not better, he thought, and held her close.

Where you can find The Surrogate Sea:


Barnes and Noble


Author's Website

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Drabble Wednesday: Prisons

Today on Drabble Wednesday it’s all about imprisonment…

What Lurks Beneath

I remember.
I remember the frigid between of spatial dimensions. I recall the lure of pitiful stars, those beacons of past millennia. I remember the screams, how the earth trembled with my passing. I miss the stench of brimstone snaking through my orifices.
I once ruled the universe. I was a god. Fierce, cruel, vengeful. How did I fall?
That’s what I ponder, those are the memories I swirl as I languish under the waves. I have waited eons in this prison, thinking, planning. When I am free I won’t make those mistakes again.
Cthulhu will rise.
And destroy everything.


Such a long way down. And so dark.
I can’t see the shadowy bottom.
Is that why I don’t do it?
I pull my foot from the edge of the cliff, and move under the cherry tree. A few petal blossoms drift into my hair. I stare at the inky mauve sky, at the stars and the indigo moon. I wish I could fly, soar to the bosom of the heavens, to unshackle my earthy constraints.
I wish I had the courage to jump, and be free.
I hear footsteps. They’ve come looking.
“Ah, Master Echyn, your students are waiting.”


I gazed out my tower window at sunlight patterns manifesting in the morning mist. Not very entertaining, but less depressing than staring into my sparse cell. Seeing nothing but a bed, a chamber pot, four stone walls and a locked iron door could drive a soul mad.
I rarely received visitors, save for guards, so I amused myself. I looked at colours in clouds and haze, or imagined dropping my family from the tower window.
I didn't deserve this punishment. I simply did what my family asked. I gained the throne. My bad luck I got caught murdering my husband.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Blondes, Books, and Bourbon Blog Tour

Welcome all you practitioners and fantasy fans. We're taking a journey back into the world of Jonathan Alvey and the White Dragon Black series today as a stop on the Blondes, Books, & Bourbon Blog Tour.

Sublime Noir And Urban Fantasy

Blondes, Books and Bourbon, is a gritty, witty, and downright entertaining series of short stories. The character of Jonathan Alvey, and indeed the whole White Dragon Black series, reads as if the author mixed Harry Dresden and Phillip Marlowe in an acid bath and then etched the page in the peerless prose that resulted.

The stories in the anthology vary in tone and temperament, some irreverent and funny like What a Nightmare (which reminded me a bit of a slapstick comedy), others darker and more foreboding such as The Cost of Custody, or The Ties That Bind.
I enjoyed this anthology greatly, and every enchanting story was a treat to read. In addition, there’s a fun character interview with a twist, and a tantalizing sneak peek at the next novel the White Dragon Black series. I highly recommend Blondes, Books and Bourbon.

Get to Know the Author:

1. Please share how you came up with the concept for your short stories? Which of the stories was the easiest to write and which was the most difficult?

All of my writing comes from my Muse, I can’t construct a story myself. From my perspective, I don’t create my tales - I just record them. Now doesn’t that make me sound crazy? But it’s true – the majority of the stories I write, are idea’s that come to me as snippets of conversations, or little scenes that play out in my head as images. My challenge is to turn those into words that capture what I ‘see’.

In many ways, ‘The Ties that Bind’ was the hardest story to write, as I wanted a thread that connected it to the next novel, ’Bindings & Spines’ and yet allowed the story to stand all its own. That made for a challenge that I truly enjoyed.

The easiest one to write was probably, ‘Sins of the Father’. Being the first story written in that world, I had no restrictions, no rules, and no history. I didn't have to keep anything straight, remember details, or worry about contradicting myself. Of course, when I wrote it, I had no idea that it would spawn so many other short stories, and novels.

2. Please name some of your other published works?

Tomorrow Wendell - first White Dragon Black novel
Horror Library, Volume Three – ‘Blink the Blood Away’
Tales of the Talisman Magazine, Volume 1 Issue 4 – ‘Pigeon Pete’
Mental Wellness: Real Stories From Survivors – ‘Ceaseless Cycles’
Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions – ‘Charon’s Obol’

3. What is your preferred writing genre?

I’m a paranormal / urban fantasy author mainly, but I cut my teeth with horror, and that will always have a dark spot in my heart. I’m sure my mind will churn out some further grisly morsels yet.

4. And preferred reading genre?

When it comes to reading, I’ll take just about any sort of spec-fic, as long as it’s well written. Sci-fi, horror, fantasy, alt-history – give me a well told story, and I’m yours for the duration.

5. What are your top 3 favorite books?

Ignoring how awful question that is to ask of any book lover, these are three I certainly always come back to, both physically, and in my mind:
‘The Dark is Rising’ by Susan Cooper was my favourite book as a child, and it still ranks in the top three.
‘Snow Crash’ by Neal Stephenson was an amazing journey meshing cyber-punk, ancient myth, and philosophy and thus must have a place here.
‘Someplace to be Flying’ by Charles de Lint, in many ways is one of my favourites of his works. There is a darkness to it that really appealed to me and it stepped away from some of the better known characters and giving a fresh view into an odd world.

6. Do you have any particular writing habits?

You mean good ones? I try to get my writing done at the beginning of the day. After enough coffee to find words, I sit down and write what my Muse deigns to share with me. That way, no matter what else the day throws at me, I have got the important part completed.

7. Do you have a playlist that you created while writing your story?

Yes, definitely. It grows and shrinks every so often, as songs no longer seem pertinent to the world, or I find new meaning in songs that inspire me. I also have subsets for the different moods Jonathan goes through and, of course, one for fight scenes.

8. Panster or plotter?

Panster – Absolutely Panster! If I even try to plan a chapter ahead, the entire train of thought comes to a painful screeching halt and I’m left, chin in hand, staring at a black page, listening to the sheep Baa.

9. Advice for writers?

I think there are two things that I would recommend, one is easy and the other sounds hard, but is actually just a change of mindset. First advice is a standard – Just Write. Get it down, and don’t look back until you've told the story. The second thing is - Learn to Love Edits. It sounds impossible, but editing is just writing from a different angle. It is the same process, same creativity, same weaving of words but you are doing it from outside the box instead of inside.

10. What's up next for you?

Any moment now, my editor, McKenna Gardner, who worked wonders with my first novel, ‘Tomorrow Wendell’ and acts of magic to get, ‘Blondes, Books & Bourbon’ together, is going to show up with a red pen, and a cattle prod.  This will be my cue that she intends to help me get the second White Dragon Black novel, ‘Bindings & Spines’, ready for publishing. Everyone should take a minute and thank McKenna for making these works exist, by the way.

11. Please provide some insight, a secret or two about each of the stories.

‘Interview’ was actually written for a blog that was promoting the first White Dragon Black novel, Tomorrow Wendell’. They asked for a character interview and that really gave me pause. I tried to wrap my head around what sort of circumstance would find Jonathan Alvey giving an interview and realized there was only one. 

‘The Play’s the Thing’ is the second story written in the WDB world. It was a fun tale to write, and I did so quickly, but it opened up a deeper understanding of both Jonathan, and his world, for me. It was also the story that made me realize I would be seeing a lot more of that character in my future.

‘The Cost of Custody’ was written as a submission for Xchyler Publishing’s open call for their next anthology. It was the first time I had submitted anything involving Jonathan, and I was actually quite surprized when it was accepted into ‘Shades and Shadows: A Paranormal Anthology’. This was the first time the public was exposed to the character who had taken over all my writing time… clearly it was only the beginning.

‘Sins of the Father’ is the story that started it all. At the time, it was quite a digression from my usual style. I thought it a one off, a cute tale that stretched my writing ability and nothing more. However, once it had been written and edited, I found the writing department of my mind had been cleared of everything but a brooding figure with his feet up on a battered desk.

‘Legerdelivre’ was written long ago, and then about a year after, my Muse showed me a different possible ending to the story. I enjoyed it in my head but never put it into words. When we were editing that story for ‘Blondes, Books, & Bourbon’, I told my editor, McKenna, about the alternate ending and asked if she’d like me to write it up. She suggested I should write it and another, if I could. It wasn't that the original ending was bad, but the idea of managing to get a better one, was tempting. I went to work on it immediately, and not only wrote out the one I’d carried in my mind for quite some time, but a third ending as well. The version that is in this anthology is actually the best parts of all three ending fused into one. It wasn't the easiest to pull off smoothly, but I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out.

‘Do As I Say, Not As I Did’ holds a special place in my heart because it a story that shows that Jonathan can intentionally be, when he really wants to, a bit of a jerk. That, to me, is simply entertaining. Hmm, maybe this says something about me I should admit in an interview.

As I said, my stories come from my Muse, but sometimes I can say, ‘Hey, can we work with…’ and she’ll give me a story, there are two of those in this anthology. For the first, I wanted a story that was centered on Jonathan and his problems with keeping a secretary. That was it. That was what I asked for. After a day of musing (where do you think the term comes from?) what I got, was the story, ‘What a Nightmare’. The second was ‘The Ties that Bind’ and it came about because I wanted a short story that tied into the next novel ‘Bindings & Spines’. I wanted to create a tale that stood alone but, when read in conjuncture with the novel, enriched the understanding of the what, and why, of Jonathan trying to go ‘clean’ from magic.

Author's Favorite Things:

- Quote - “Don’t you smile at me like that … that’s not even a real smile! It’s just a bunch of teeth playing with my mind!”

- TV show – Doctor Who. I mean ALL Doctor Who; not just the new, not just the old. Doctor Who.

- Comic book character – Death from Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’

- Movie – Casablanca. Is there any other possible answer?

- Candy bar – Big Turk. I mean, how can you say ‘No’ to Turkish delight and chocolate?

- Junk food – White Chocolate. No, wait, ice cream. No, Gin. No, gummy bears. Coffee?

- Place you visited – I haven’t traveled much, or very far. The trip to Wales, my mothers country of birth, was taken when I was young but even so it floats in my dreams always.

- Restaurant – The mom and pop diner, in the small town where I live. They have big inexpensive breakfast served all day, and burgers that just hit the spot every time.

- Island – Roke. There are, I’m sure, many wonderful ones out there but I take Roke as my choice.


R.M. Ridley lives with his wife on a small homestead in Canada, raising chickens and sheep. He has been writing stories, both long and short, for three decades, the themes of which range from the gruesome to the fantastical.
As an individual who suffers from severe bipolar disorder, Ridley is a strong believer in being open about mental health issues and uses his writing to escape when his thoughts become too wild.

Bindings and Spines (Book 2, 2015)
Ridley's work has appeared in two Xchyler anthologies: "The Case for Custody" in Shades and Shadows: a Paranormal Anthology, and "Charon's Obol" in Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions.

WHITE DRAGON BLACK: Google + | Twitter

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Drabble Wednesday: Dragons

Today on Drabble Wednesday, we take to the sky on leathery wings and breathing fire…


She is puny thing, a half-formed creature like me. I can read it in her thoughts. A child? Yes, that’s the right word. Why is she here? I should claw her eyes out, scratch off her face, fly away.
But she likes me. I can feel it. And I—I don’t know what I feel. I like the way she cradles me, tenderly cupping the remains of my egg where I sit, and strokes my nose. I like the way she calls me dragon, and calls me hers.
I flap my wings, and puff smoke. She laughs. I will stay.

Star Sky

The beasts rests on the hill, a shadow silhouette against the moonlight. He stares into the ebon hued night sky, watching the heavens. His eyes drink deep of the spectacle, the flickering points of light dotting the firmament, those faraway celestial stars. He wonders, of their beauty, of what lies beyond their radiance. Sitting on a grassy knoll, he contemplates his existence.
He stretches his leathery wings, testing muscle and sinew, and lashes his tail, tracking furrows in the grass and earth. He leaps, sails on wings, air currents bearing him aloft.
Tonight, the dragon will soar among the starlight.


A vast shadow shrouded the charred landscape, cast by the combative, incensed dragon circling the sky above. The beast paused in its fiery siege of the village, the thrum of its wings beating time until its next assault.
Below, structures blazed and the nearby forest burned. Some villagers fled to woods for safety, only to find the trees aflame and their death trap. Other poor souls still survived, huddled in the cellar of their ruined church, trapped beneath fallen rubble and smouldering remains. Their priest prayed for salvation, but his heart knew they should never have destroyed those dragon eggs.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Here's a creepy little poem to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

An Irish Lullaby

Hush now, close your eyes
against the looming night
and the tempting moonlight.
Hush now, close your eyes.

Against the looming night
when the Fae Folk roam,
between morn and gloam.
Against the looming night

When the Fae Folk roam,
hear the banshee who wails.
I will sing you some tales,
when the Fae Folk roam.

Hear the banshee who wails.
Hush now, close your eyes,
dream of clear blue skies.
Hear the banshee who wails.

Hush now, close your eyes
against the looming night
and the tempting moonlight.
Hush now, close your eyes.

© All Rights Reserved A. F. Stewart