Indie Author Friday: Martin Allen #IndieAuthor #YA #Fantasy

It’s Friday again – and today Martin Allen is here with his extensive collection of multiple genre books.  Martin would like to be one of my favorite Avengers, and if any of you are looking for book reviews, he offers some ideas below.

An exploration of the perceived infallibility of DNA and Fingerprint Evidence as presented in UK Law. Until relatively recently there have been virtually no challenges to the reliability of these types of evidence. This title explores not only the cases that have challenged these evidential types in the UK but also persuasive authorities from overseas and expert opinions on their scientific validity as they are currently presented in the UK.

Recondite is a number of abstract digital pieces combined into one collection. Each piece is an invocation of a particular mood or concept. The pieces are grouped according to the original source material into a number of “series” to illustrate the dimensions of experience within each image.


A short story set in the same universe as the forthcoming “Phoenix: Rising” Novel. There is a sample of this novel after the short story.
Set in a Dystopian world ruled by a Theocracy a non-descript clerk finds himself thrown into the very prison camps he helped to fill while working in the “Justice” System.


As the pyres of the Inquisition burned, the faith of Decimus Vespilo did not waiver. Holding to the tenants of his training he remained detached from that which he visited on others. Assigned to an Investigation he deemed beneath him he is caught up, not only in a rapidly growing movement but a conspiracy that could destabilise the teachings of the temple to which he devoted his life. Is the mysterious preacher the “Phoenix” a threat or the salvation he has been subconsciously seeking since consigning his own grandfather to the flames when just a child?
As his ties to the movement grow stronger during his undercover investigation, will his affection for Histar sway his course? The emergence of a Shadowy mastermind casts a sinister foreboding to Decimus`s mission as his every move is predicted and countered. Could it be the “Phoenix” is an unexpected ally to forestall the inhuman manoeuvring of those seeking to subvert the original message of the Empire? Manoeuvring that has been bastardising this message for years,so much so that the original is lost and incompatible.
Decimus must decide between his beliefs and the Empire he has been trained to protect at all costs.

“A snowflake can start an avalanche, as one act of compassion can change the world.”

Under the brutal oppression of the Empire, a new era of repression is to begin. The show trials will cease, and the bloody massacre of those deemed unclean or unholy will commence. Calidus Squad of the Imperial Guard has been recalled to Earth, the very seat of the Empire and is tasked with transporting these prisoners to their final destination, where they assume the prisoners will stand trial. Calidus Squad are among 7,000 Imperial Guardsmen assigned to this task by Investigator Celeris. The convoy starts at Jerusalem and ends in Rome. Lieutenant Gratius and Sergeant Curtius are all too aware that the involvement of an Imperial Investigator, the Empire’s trained killing machines, heralds a dark undercurrent to this mission, but other members of the Squad, such as Guardsman Amatius Balbus, have much to learn about the Empire that they serve. The one light in the dark is Mya, a small child who attaches herself to Calidius Squad, and she may just change the course of the Empire.

This prequel to “Phoenix Rising” is the story of the 7,000, worshipped as Demi-gods in the Empire of “Phoenix: Rising”.

A short story set in the same universe as the Author’s “Phoenix: Rising” Novel. There is a sample of this novel and Phoenix: Ashes after the short story.

Terenitus Catilina awakes in a military hospital, her life changed forever. Gone is her carefree existence, safe in the middle classes of the Empire of Sol Invictus. She must now come to terms with all that she has lost, and the horrific injuries that she has sustained. Taken in by the Inquisition after they saved her life Catilina is now beholden to this dark and terrifying chapter of the Empire’s clergy. She must now complete her training to join their number as the prototype of the Dark Eagle protocol.

(Prequel to Phoenix: Deliverance)

A humourous Science Fiction short story in which a failed writer, dependant on the favours of family friends, on his last chance to get published discovers a portal to an alternative Universe. can he use this discovery to launch his writing career?


As a turncoat mercenary Beorma is on the run. Once engaged in an ill-fated Norse invasion of the Scottish lands, he must now attempt to throw off his Norse pursuers. He turned on them in the midst of battle and they care nothing for the fact that he was trying to stop the slaughter of children, for they were the ones perpetrating this evil. In his flight he happens on a band of Angles who had escaped the Vikings he had once served.

It was once said that “man hath no greater love than this, that he would give his life for a friend.” but perhaps man hath no greater love than to give his life for a stranger.

When a mysterious visitor to Brawley appears out of a special rift, Mariah Beck faces her greatest challenge. Despite leaving legal practice to draft legislation for the good of Supernatural beings and their struggle for Equal Rights she must now return to her previous calling to save the soul of an elderly German Supernatural, and her own. Her opposition; Mephistopheles himself!

What is something memorable you’ve heard from your readers/fans?

I have to say the following review for “Phoenix: Penitence” really made my day:

“This author has a unique and delightfully artful way of writing. The expert mastery of dialogue and language is as entertaining as the story itself. I was immediately transported to this world and its totalitarian structure which is analogous to The Inquisition set in a far flung future after a nuclear event. Usually I can read quickly, not so with this prose. Impressively, the sentence and paragraph structures require close attention to each word because much meaning is attached. That is not to say this story is hard to understand or tedious to read, it is to say that this writing is not dumbed down. True lovers of literature will love this no doubt, regardless of a preferred genre.

The first tale and the introduction to the Phoenix: Rising novel use the far future to shine a light on the horrors of fanaticism and totalitarianism. Excellent.”

Thank you Ron Baker, if you ever read this.

What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?

I think Histar from “Phoenix: Rising” would really hate my guts. She’s a woman that went through a lot (and will go through more – in at least one other book [I’m not saying which]) .


One of her friends was killed in the following of the Phoenix and at the time of writing this she thinks this great teacher of peace that she followed is now dead. She has departed to follow her own path of teaching the lessons she has learned. All in all she’s quite a together lady and would see me as something of a pathetic looser holed up in my office in my house trying to make connections with people without ever having to meet them. She’d really let rip into me about how good I have things and she’d be right. I feel sorry for her having a creator who she’s so much better than…

What do you do to get book reviews?

Over the years I’ve tried some advertising (it didn’t work), I’ve tried contributing to anthologies (there’s one set in Brian Parker’s Sci-Fi Film Noir world of Easytown hopefully being released either the end of this year or early next), I have E-mailed out large numbers of copies to reviewers, set up free days on Amazon, I’ve even started a book review circle where authors give out copies of their books to the circle of authors and readers in exchange for honest reviews. That last one is in progress and time will tell how that turns out – the link is if anyone is interested in joining.

Any unusual talents or hobbies?

I have done so many things, mainly out of a sense of boredom and they interested me at the time. As well as being awful at a number of musical instruments I have learned to make chainmail, appeared on stage as a Magician over several years, appeared on stage in a musical (yes, it was a singing role – sigh), I design my own book covers (and I hope to get a lot better at that), I’m a 2nd Kyu (brown belt) in Karate, I practiced Aikido for around 10 years, I’m a Grade 3 and 3 Star fencer who attended the West Midlands Centre of Excellence for Fencing, I won the North-East England Mooting Competition in 2002 (Mooting is presenting a legal argument in a competition – like debating but only in law) and I accidentally learned how to make home-made cider (for American readers, I’m talking the alcoholic variety).

If you were an animated character, who would you be and why?

The Brain, because things would be so much better if I took over the world and I have no realistic plans to do so. I can come up with any number of UNrealistic plans to do so…

If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?

Tony Stark, genius, billionaire play-boy, philanthropist – what’s not to like. That and I don’t play well with others either, so it wouldn’t be much of a culture shock on that front.

Author Bio

Martin Allen graduated from the University of Northumbria at Newcastle in 2003 with a Law LL.B (Hons) Exempting L.P.C. Degree. He has worked in many different areas of the Legal Sector and built up a wealth of experience in the sector.

Martin enjoys reading and writing Science Fiction but has taken the time to write a Legal piece, “The Prosecutor’s Fallacy: The Reliability of DNA and Fingerprint Evidence” and has contributed to CCR Public Sector Magazine on the subject of psychology.

The Phoenix Series is a Science Fiction series set in a world where a Theocracy has come to power. “Phoenix: Penitence” is a short story set in this world. The first Novel “Phoenix: Rising” charts the rise of a new interpretation of the theological teachings of this Empire and the lengths this Empire will go to protect itself from it. The story is told from the point of view of an Imperial Investigator caught in the middle of the Empire’s manoeuvrings.

In other bouts of creativity Martin appeared as Gaston in Storytime Productions performance of “Once Upon a Dream” and has appeared supporting a number of bands in the Birmingham UK area as a Semi-Professional Magician (he has a number of videos on his You-Tube channel. He also sold some works of art in his own lifetime (which technically on a like-for- like basis makes him currently more successful than VanGogh… just). He has also been a Rock DJ in Newcastle Upon Tyne UK.

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Indie Author Friday: Tom Minder #IndieAuthor #suspense #thriller #crime @Tom_Minder

Happy Friday everyone!  Today we welcome fellow Black Rose Writing author Tom Minder and his crime thriller, The Long Harbor Testament.  Based on Tom’s choice of cookie and Netflix preferences, he and my son could settle in for some serious snacking and binge-watching.

Father Jim has a gambling problem, a girlfriend, and his brother Gabe just killed his bookie. Detective Mark Porfino investigates while mob boss Mario Gallante arrives to figure out why his protege was found floating in the harbor. Mark and Mario form an unholy alliance, with fast food, drinking, Girl Scout cookies, a dead man with a morbid sense of humor, and a wedding with a miracle, contributing to the search for the killer.

Jim must weigh family loyalty and protection of his lover against the vows he’s made to himself and his church. Will Gabe confess and relieve Jim of his burden? Or will they both be dragged further into the abyss until their secret is revealed?

What’s the most constructive criticism you’ve been given in your writing career?

I joined a critique group as part of the South Jersey Writers’ Group. I learned to look at a story as a reader and not the writer. Do the actions make sense for the characters/time/place? Was also clued in to be more sensitive to the woman’s perspective.

What do you wish you’d known before you were published?

That my brainchild, surely the next great American novel, would involve more than a first draft, but rather professional editing, honest beta reader feedback, an arduous, and humbling, querying process, seeking reviews, and finally, promotion. I still would have done all that, maybe just been the wiser upfront, to make the process smoother.

What do you love most about the writing process?

The ability to be creative while at the same time letting the story, to some point, write itself.

What’s your favorite kind of cookie and why?

Chocolate Chip with Macadamia. A good combination of sweet and salty. The nuts also allow me to pretend that this is a healthy treat.

What’s the last thing you watched on TV/Netflix?

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Frank (Danny DeVito) is the friend that you’re too embarrassed to introduce to anyone, but look forward to talking to. Charlie (Charlie Day) is the manic buddy whose enthusiasm and quirkiness is a good foil to the others.

If you were an animated character, who would you be and why?

Charlie Brown. At a party once, they played a game where they handed you a slip with a name on it and you had to act the character. When I saw ‘Charlie Brown’, I realized that was pretty close to me in real life.

Author Bio

Tom Minder lives in southern New Jersey, with his wife Paula, and writes novels and short fiction. He is published in various online journals and in the Beach Nights anthology from Cat & Mouse Press. He is a member of the South Jersey Writers’ Group and The Writers’ Coffeehouse. His novel, The Long Harbor Testament, was released by Black Rose Writing on January 5th, 2017.

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Indie Author Friday: Rebecca Howie #IndieAuthor #YA #mystery #thriller @RebeccaH2016

It’s Friday!  Today’s indie author is Rebecca Howie, with her YA mystery, The Game Begins.  If Rebecca or I turn up missing, you’ll be able to find us either at Hogwarts or on a desert island reading the Harry Potter Series.

It’s been four years since the car crash took away her father and Sam Beckett’s nightmares are back with a vengeance.

When her friend suggests she take a PI course to distract herself, Sam agrees, but she soon realises it won’t be as simple as she expected when her first case leads to a woman being killed, her husband accused of her murder, and a series of threatening text messages sent to her phone which lead Sam to believe that her father’s crash might not be the accident everyone thought it was.

What’s the most constructive criticism you’ve been given in your writing career?

I know it’s simple, but ‘start a new paragraph every time a character starts talking’ would probably be the answer to this question. I used to publish stuff on Archive Of Our Own and I’ve received a lot of great tips and advice on it over the years, but the paragraph one was definitely the most constructive. It’s stayed with me, and although getting criticism stung a bit, it helped me improve as a writer and I’m always all for that.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I always wanted to be a writer when I was younger, but when I asked a few people what they thought of that, they told me writers didn’t make any money because it all went to publishers and agents and editors, and somehow, I was more sensible as a child and knew you needed money to survive, so I dismissed writing as a possible future career. But self-publishing is popular now and easily accessible, so I’d tell my younger self that in a few years, you can publish a book in a matter of minutes, and to keep all the ideas she gets in the middle of the nights because some of them could become someone’s favourite book one day.

What do you love most about the writing process?

I love all of it (except from the doubts that creep up on you when you read someone else’s work and start comparing it to your own) but my favourite part is when an idea comes out of nowhere and shakes everything up.

What’s the last thing you watched on TV/Netflix?

Castle, even though I’d told myself I wasn’t going to watch it anymore because I start using Americanisms in my writing and adding ‘ass’ onto everything.

Book you’d want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

I’d want the Harry Potter series with me, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and a blank notepad to write my own.

If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?

I’d want to be extra in Harry Potter. Who doesn’t want to live at Hogwarts?

Author Bio:

Rebecca Howie is a procrastinating writer from Scotland, who prefers spending her time in fictional worlds rather than the real one. Her first book, The Game Begins, was released in February 2016, and reached 2nd in the Teen and Young Adult Detective category on Amazon.

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Indie Author Friday: Patricia Harris #IndieAuthor #poetry @pattimouse

Today’s Indie Author is Patricia Harris, a multi-genre author.  Her featured book is a collection of poetry, but also writes children’s books, horror, and YA.

A volume of poetry mostly inspired by prompts.

What do you wish you’d known before you were published?

I wish I had known that self publishing was available sooner. I spent so much time anxious about it. If I had known I could do it myself then I wouldn’t have worried.

What are your favorite books in your genre?

I write in multiple genres. My favorite kid’s book is probably Goodnight Moon By Margaret Wise. My favorite poetry is I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings By Maya Angelou. My favorite horror novel is Salem’s Lot By Steven King. My favorite YA book is Alanna the first adventure by Tamora Pierce.

What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?

In Death of Neverland my character of Wendy. She just felt like someone I could never get along with. In the Current one I am writing….Well I think that Lizzie would be the one who would grate on me the most. She is all brains and logic. In my kid’s book there was no character that I did not like.

What do you love most about the writing process?

Seeing the story evolve. I tend to not plan my stories. I read as I write. So I get to see where the stories are going that way.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I get that many people are always evolving in their creativity, and that writing helps it to do so. For me though writing has always been a part of me. Publishing however has allowed me to free myself to allow all of my creativity to flow.

What’s your favorite kind of cookie and why?

Peanut butter kisses. My mom used to make them when I was a child. It was something that felt like we were closer when it was done.

Any unusual talents or hobbies?

I have so many hobbies. I crotchet, make jewelry, draw, write poetry and stories, Program in C#, Do digital art, and bake.

What’s the last thing you watched on TV/Netflix?

Bleach(for the fiftieth time)

Who would win a fight between Spiderman and Batman?

Batman because Spiderman is more impulsive.

Book you’d want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

How to survive on a desert island.

How would your best friend describe you?

Crazy as hell and fragile(he has always seen me as fragile)

If you were an animated character, who would you be and why?

Harley Quinn. Crazy with a heart of gold. But strong enough to decide to be unique.

If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?

Dawn (from the comics)

Author BioPatricia Harris

Patricia Harris writes children’s books and Poetry. She also writes as Serena Mossgraves, writing horror and more adult stories. She is a Mom and a crafter, Selling jewelry and art as Serenity studios. She has a blog where she writes whatever comes to mind. She enjoys creating art of all sorts. She currently has seven poetry volumes and three children’s books out. As Serena she has a horror novella out with expectation of a novel before the end of the year.


Indie Author Friday: Deek Rhew #IndieAuthor #satire #thriller #suspense @DeekRhewBooks

Today is Indie Author Friday and Deek Rhew is here with two books to share.  Deek loves getting to know his characters, and it sounds like he’s created a doozy of a villain in 122 Rules.  I have to agree with Deek – I love a good bad guy.

A federal assassin grows a conscious just when he’s about to pull the trigger.

He has decision to make: Finish his assignment, or follow his gut and save his quarry.

Read #122Rules to join the fray

Birth of an American Gigolo

If you’ve even been betrayed.

If you’ve ever been cheated.

If you’ve ever wanted to serve up a can of whoopass on someone that desperately deserved it

but never got the chance…

It’s time for you to get the revenge you so truly deserve.

A Husband.

A Mistress.

A #WifesRevenge

Get your revenge.




What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?

Now, before I answer this question, let me preface it by telling you I LOVE a good bad guy. What the heck good is a good guy, if there’s no one to play their arch nemesis. Check out my blog post for Mystery Thriller Week, Villains. That being said, I don’t actually think I’d get along with the villain, Tyron Erebus, from my thriller, 122 Rules – Redemption. He’s a slasher with ‘tude.

Lots of ‘tude.

He has come under the illusion that he has been selected by a dark deity to purify the world…one victim at a time. As much as I’d hate to see Skynet take over the world, I’d rather exchange backrubs with a Cyberdyne Terminator 9000, than to have Erebus pull up a chair during Sunday brunch.

What do you love most about the writing process?

I completely adore getting to know my characters! My latest work in progress, eXractors, is a sci-fi about a gent named Jeff who finds himself the victim of a hostile takeover. The virtual reality company he built from an idea, took public, and has made an industry leader, became a target for a super mogul who wants to use it, and him, for her own nefarious purposes.

As I wrote it and the bones of the story started to reveal themselves, I’ve gotten to know Jeff and Federal Agent, Sandy, as their lives become intermixed, caught up in an international terrorist organization. Now that the rough draft is done and these guys have shown me a bit of their lives and personalities, I’m learning so much more about them as I work through the first round of edits.

Sandy is funny, loves his wife and children, and is dedicated to his country. Jeff, I just discovered, has a temper and is technically brilliant, but socially impatient bordering on incompetent. Though, he doesn’t put up with crap and will fling poo at someone that deserves it.

I’m totally stoked to learn more about these guys as I finish up this first round of edits.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I’ve learned to trust myself. It can be daunting to face a blank page, but what I’ve discovered is that as long as I know where a chapter starts, the characters show me the way. For instance, I knew where eXtractors started, and I had a vague image of the shape of the story. Like seeing someone swimming under water. You think you know what they look like, but you don’t really know until they surface.

Since I knew where the story started, I wrote that. As I finish each chapter, I learn where the next begins and just trust that I’ll discover the way as I go.

What’s the last thing you watched on TV/Netflix?

Erin and I don’t have cable. Instead we watch either Amazon, HBO, or Netflix. On Amazon, we just finished watching Suits. Funny, lawyers are pompous, over-paid, soulless automatons, yet we love TV shows about them.

Go figure.

Right now, Erin and I started watching Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix. OMH No one would be better paired for Joel and Sheila than Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore.

On HBO we are beyond stoked for the next season of Game of Thrones to start. Can. Not. Wait.

If you were a box of cereal, which one would you be?

I’d be a couple loops shy of a box of Fruit Loops. ‘nuf said.

If you were an animated character, who would you be and why?

Well, Superman would is my ultimate hero, and even though he’s got an animated series, I think of him as a live-action sorta guy. So, I’ll say Inspector Gadget. I always thought it would be awesome to have a gadget, helicopter in my hat for instance, any time, any place.

Author Bio

Deek Rhew is a transplant from a rainy pocket in the Pacific Northwest. Deek now lives in a sultry corner of the US of A where the sun shines bright, the sweet tea flows, and the hush puppies are hot and delicious.

He and his brilliant, but stunning author bride, Erin Rhew, live a simple life with their writing assistant, a fat tabby named Trinity. They enjoy lingering in the mornings, and often late into the night, caught up Erin’s fantastic fantasy worlds of noble princes and knights and entwined in Deek’s dark underworld of the FBI and drug lords.

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Indie Author Friday: Lyz Russo #IndieAuthor #scifi

Welcome Lyz Russo to Indie Author Friday!  I think every writer can relate to Lyz’s answer about the most constructive criticism she’s received – it’s all about setting aside the ego and working on your craft.  And another mouth-watering cookie answer that has me craving a chocolate chip dessert!

The Solar Wind series:

A mostly teenage crew of motley pirates sails the Earth’s oceans on a freedom ship, the Solar Wind. Their Captain Radomir Lascek is not only a wily old sea-devil, but also a politician with a big picture on who should take over the Earth… and then the solar system… and what hey, how about the neighbouring world… and overthrow the intergalactic forces that be… The Earth is infested with an uncanny military world government, the Unicate, costing countless human lives. They don’t seem entirely human; their decisions and actions run contrary to anything one would consider normal. Radomir Lascek doesn’t have a solution for the Unicate. The best he can do is rescue precious people and keep them safe. But aboard, he has someone who holds the answers: The mysterious gypsy, Federi. Except that Federi has a split personality…

The Mystery of the Solar Wind by Lyz Russo

When Paean, a teen musician, boards the ‘Solar Wind’ with her brothers, all she wants is to escape from those monstrous forces hunting for them. But she is out of luck, because the Solar Wind is a pirate ship. Suddenly all the rules have changed, and she must find her way in this quicksand to figure out whom to trust, what to keep secret, and how to help the high-tech ship evade the law.

The Assassin (Solar Wind 2) by Lyz Russo

“Remember who you are!” Two data capsules tell an evil story. Both the Unicate and the Rebellion want those capsules – but they are in the possession of Radomir Lascek of the Solar Wind. Hunted by both these forces, Lascek scrambles to keep his Solar Wind alive. But things explode in his face, and he is forced to move. Shattered, Lascek launches his own Master Plan – too early.

Freedom Fighter (Solar Wind 3) by Lyz Russo

“Keep an eye on them, Federi!” Captain Rushka Donegal on the bridge! But the young girl doesn’t feel up to running a ship full of unruly young crew. And then they come across disaster… So it falls to Federi to pick up the pieces while his Captain is not aboard. And while he rolls his dramatic eyes and gets things done, Paean Donegal arms up and signs on for the Fight for Freedom.

Raider! by Lyz Russo

Alien Touchdown! If the crew of the Solar Wind thought the Unicate and the Rebellion were tough cookies, they haven’t yet met the Danaan – from Planet New Dome. Coming to take over Earth – or destroy the planet. Or alternatively, for a mango daiquiri in the subtropical paradise of Southern Free. And then destroy the planet.

The Morrigan by Lyz Russo

“Actually, interesting fact of bygone eras,” said Federi, “in prior centuries pirates chose their captains democratically.” Radomir Lascek is in trouble. Of all the forces that are trying to take the Solar Wind out of his hands, Federi is still the most benign… At the end of a space trip there may be a treasure, or there may not. Is it worth risking the crew’s lives?

Nix Romipen by Lyz Russo

Romania. A place of harsh contrasts; dangerous and beautiful wilderness; a silent invisible people. This is where Federi was born; and this is where he takes Paean in their breakaway from the Solar Wind, their bid for freedom. But Federi is hunting big game now, unravelling the curse of Falco. And something is watching from space…

Glossary for Solar Wind & Shooting Star by Lyz Russo

Series: The Solar Wind. Price: Free! Words: 3,160. Language: English. Published: March 4, 2016 by P’kaboo Publishers. Categories: Fiction»Adventure»Sea adventures, Fiction»Science fiction»Adventure

A glossary of foreign expressions to supplement the Solar Wind and Shooting Star series.

Short stories collection

The Racing Finn By Lyz Russo

A motley collection of short stories by Lyz Russo. These stories are sometimes the result of dreams or the outcome of observing something odd. Some are funny, some are not. Enjoy!

Arcana (under pen name “gipsika”)

The Light Path, the Dark Path. When Ivy Pennington, a sensible, intelligent young woman, plummets head-first into the occult, her biggest problem is trying to explain that she is simply not interested. Soon the storms of dark magic rage around her. Will she perish in the gruesome maelstrom? More


I wish to thank Teri for giving me this opportunity.   Teri, these are all excellent questions, it was hard to pick only six.  🙂

What’s the most constructive criticism you’ve been given in your writing career?

When I had the first book of the “Solar Wind” series ready, as I believed, we started looking for agents.  One agent was very interested and let his friend, the son of a Science Fiction writer, proof-read my submission of 60 pages.  This reader tore the story apart; I’ve never seen anything like it.  He criticized everything – from the omniscient 3rd person narrator perspective, to the drifting POV, to the names of the characters and the name of the ship.

I learned such a lot from his crit!  But I may have despaired or thought he was simply being mean if he hadn’t headed off his letter with two words:  “Can write.”   It was what I needed to hear from a stranger.

I ended up completely rewriting most of the story.  If I read the original now, I have to smile at what I thought was a manuscript ready for publishing.

What are your favorite books in your genre?

Anne McCaffrey:  The Pern series.  Another collection by her that inspired me a lot is “The Ship Who Sang”.

Outside Science Fiction I love reading Fantasy.  Terry Pratchett and Charles de Lint must be my favourites, and of course Tolkien.  Of the newer series I love the Skullduggery books.  Sometimes, rarely, I get into a mood and read a romance…  I have found these a good escape from life.

What do you do to get book reviews?

I seek out bloggers who review books, and ask whether they would like to review.  I also seek out review sites, such as “Readers’ Favourite”, where books are reviewed reciprocally.  There is Goodreads; and there are reviewers who advertise on Facebook. I have also had books reviewed that I submitted to local newspapers.  They are often looking for material to write about.

I did find that friends and family wrote reviews spontaneously.  This is appreciated immensely.

I have read that one should not pay a reviewer, because it will influence the review.  I’m not entirely sure if I buy into that mindset; but so far my books have only been reviewed by people who did not charge.  It is a labour of love, and I do offer, when I can, to reciprocate in some way – promoting their blog, or proofreading their manuscripts (sometimes the reviewers are authors themselves), or something.  One needs to understand that every unpaid review is a favour.  The world does not owe any author favours.  If a review has a bit of pepper in it, one needs to take that with a smile, too.  It improves one’s writing by making one more aware.

What’s your favorite kind of cookie and why?

Choc chip, the way the Seattle Coffee Company makes them.  Why?  The Seattle Coffee Company is linked (here in SA) to our largest book chain, Exclusive Books.  They create a little nook where you can sit on a couch, drink your (recently discovered) butterscotch latte, dunk your Choc Chip cookie (“slam dunk” they call it, so of course you dunk it) and dig into the book you have just bought, leaving half your salary in the tills of Exclusive Books (you addict).

Maybe one day I’ll find a way to generate that amount of comfort zone around an ebook, I seriously hope so.

If you were a box of cereal, which one would you be?

I would have said, Nutty Crunch, but that’s clichéd.  I guess at this point I’d be All Bran Flakes – a bit boring, healthy, providing you with energy, sweet (I add a lot of sugar) and keeping people moving.  I have to be practical.  But if there were a cereal with chilli pepper in it, actually, that would be me, because I currently have quite a bite and am making things a bit hell-hot for people who want a piece of me.

If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?

 I would pick Vlad – one of my own characters, who is a shape-shifting teleporting alien with the powers of changing the molecular structure of things and of living beings.  If it must be from fiction excluding my own, I’d choose to be Gandalf the Grey (he becomes just a little too holy when he turns into Gandalf the White).

Author Bio

Lyz Russo, writer, musician and small-enterprise book publisher. 

For our bread and butter I run a music studio in Pretoria, teaching people violin.  My husband was teaching guitar and theory in our studio.  Our three teenagers have always been very involved in everything we do, especially as I home-schooled them for 5 years when they were little.

I started writing stories when I was 11 and self-published my first book online in 2008.  The paperback launch was in 2009, together with the launch of our small publishing co, P’kaboo.

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The P’kaboo Blog

This is the official blog for all our books, my own and our other authors’.  It has been a bit inactive as our publisher has been temporarily dormant; however, please find more information at our associated agency’s blog, Bookseeker Agency.

From the ‘orse’s mouth

Here I detail my writing & indie publishing journey.

I do also have a more general WordPress blog which is currently active, but has only been dealing with my husband’s death in recent months.

Buy Links

The Solar Wind series  under pen name Lyz Russo

Arcana ( under pen name gipsika)


Indie Author Friday: Stephen Morris #IndieAuthor #fantasy #paranormal @StephenNYC1

Today we welcome Stephen Morris to Indie Author Friday.  Stephen shares some thought-provoking writerly advice about villains, and mentions a cookie blend I’ve never heard of – but am excited to try.

“Libahunt!” Alexei breaks the terms of the wolf-magic he inherited from his grandfather and loses the ability to control the shapeshifting, becoming a killer and slaughtering his neighbors, his friends — even his family. His grandfather’s magical wolf-pelt was meant to protect their rural village in 1880s Estonia by fighting the terrible storms in the sky that could devastate the farms and fields but instead it drives Alexei to kill with impunity. Heartbroken at what he has become, Alexei flees his home and wanders through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Bohemia. He encounters the Master of Wolves who forces him to terrorize local farmers and the infamous Frau Bertha with her belt of sailor-skin to trap those who anger her in the form of wolves. Dare he hope to ever find an enchanter who can free him from the curse?

Witchcraft! Ghosts! Vampires! Tarot cards!

An old crone is bound to a stake in the Old Town Square of Prague and consumed by flames in 1356, her vengeful words setting in motion a series of dark events that unfold across the centuries, culminating in the historic flood of August 2002 that threatens to destroy the city.

The trilogy alternates chapters set in medieval Prague and contemporary Prague (summer 2002). The chapters set in 1356-1357 incorporate a number of local Prague folktales and legends. These 1356 events alert Nadezhda that something very wrong indeed is afoot in Prague. Together with an elderly rabbi from Prague’s famous Jewish Quarter, she sets out to avert the impending disaster.

In the summer of 2002, two academics attending a conference at the university – a Jesuit priest and a beautiful Irish professor (who is also a voracious Irish vampire, known as the Dearg-due) – develop their own nefarious agendas. To access the enormous potential power to which the dead witch holds the key, they dupe a secretary into helping destroy the city by unravelling the protective magic built into the Charles Bridge itself that has defended the city since its construction. A small group of academics at that same university conference discover the threat and are forced by circumstances to practice the folk magic they have previously merely researched. Drawing on the power of the Tarot, always especially associated with Prague, they battle the Jesuit, the Dearg-due, the unwitting secretary and the forces of evil that threaten to destroy the city. The academics realize that once free, these forces will unleash a dark power that could undermine all of western civilization. The final confrontation occurs as the historic flood of Prague in 2002 is conjured to destroy the magical Charles Bridge which has protected the city for centuries.

What’s the most constructive criticism you’ve been given in your writing career?

One of the best things the editor of my first book(s) told me was, “Don’t promise something that you aren’t going to deliver.” She meant, don’t introduce the Bad Guy doing something worse than anything else he’s going to do later in the book. If he doesn’t murder anyone later, the reader won’t be disappointed unless you’ve introduced the Bad Guy in an act of murder, implying that there will be more to come. This piece of wisdom has really made me aware both of what I promise readers and what I—as a reader—have been promised by other authors. I realize now why I’ve been so very disappointed by certain characters in other authors’ books is because they promise something about a character that they ultimately don’t deliver.

What are your favorite books in your genre?

My favorites? Where to begin?! I think that Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series and both of Kate Griffin’s Midnight Mayor and Magicals Anonymous series are my favorites. Very different. But exquisite. Butcher plays with folklore—especially Celtic folklore and legend—and reinterprets it in a modern context. Griffin paints the most amazing word-pictures of London and the manipulation of magical forces. Breathtaking.

If you could tell your younger-writing-self anything, what would it be?

To not be afraid of imperfection. I avoided fiction writing for years (decades, really) because I did not think I could write convincing, or even semi-convincing, dialogue. I stuck to non-fiction. Exclusively. But then a friend dared me to write a short story and submit it to an anthology—and the editor bought it! Now, I realize that original short story was far from Great Art, but it demonstrated to me that my dialogue was at least passable. I hadn’t needed to be so afraid of writing fiction. That might have changed my life in ways that I can’t now imagine.

What’s your favorite kind of cookie and why?

A butterscotch chip peanut butter cookie—it’s chewy and very sweet, combining my favorite flavors of butterscotch and crunchy peanut butter all in one bite! You also get both the crunch of the cookie and the slowly melting chip to savor, a great combination of textures as well. I’m getting hungry… Excuse me, but I think I need to go raid the cookie jar RIGHT NOW!

Book you’d want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

Once I was being interviewed and was asked, “What three books would you want to be saved if the apocalypse struck the earth tomorrow?” I forget the first two books I selected but the third was Dracula by Bram Stoker. When I first read Dracula in high school, it opened my eyes to what letter-writing could really be about, i.e. so much more than a simple recitation of daily activities. Sharing dreams and hopes and nightmares. Exposing yourself. Vulnerability.

If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?

Hmmm… I think Ebenezer Scrooge, who is delightfully wicked and selfish yet redeemed in the end. He gets the best of both worlds. He is the Bad Guy we love to hate and he becomes the well-beloved hero who saves Tiny Tim and the rest of the Cratchit family. If poor old Ebenezer can remember who he really is under the accumulated rebukes the world has heaped on him and be saved, than any of us can do the same!

Author Bio

Stephen has degrees in medieval history and theology from Yale and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Academy. A former priest, he served as the Eastern Orthodox chaplain at Columbia University. His previous academic writing has dealt primarily with Late Antiquity and Byzantine church life.

He is also the senior Project Leader of and organizes annual conferences on aspects of the supernatural, evil and wickedness, and related subjects. It was an project that took him to Prague for the first time in 2001 and he immediately fell in love with the city! He has been back many, MANY times!

Stephen, a Seattle native, is now a long-time New York resident and currently lives in Manhattan with his partner, Elliot.

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