Sunday, 20 December 2015

Imp of the week - the Olverog

I've created a number of strange creatures for the Impcatcher novels. This is another page from Garkosio's Guide to Imps, which is the most widely used reference book in Tal's world. This is Tal's copy, with his annotations in blue.


 As always, comments welcomed!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Imp of the week - Tanits

I've created a number of strange creatures for the Impcatcher novels. This is another page from Garkosio's Guide to Imps, which is the most widely used reference book in Tal's world. This is Tal's copy, with his annotations in blue.

As always, comments welcomed! 

Friday, 11 December 2015

SFFS 12/12/2015 Impcatcher

    This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.


 
Today's snippet is from Impcatcher, which is now on sale on Amazon for the Kindle and in paperback, and DriveThru in pdf format. The general epub version is at Lulu.

When we last saw Tal, a demon had just materialised in front of him...



 

“Tal Djandiss?” it purred. It didn't bother to wait to see if I admitted who I was - it knew well enough. “Any last words?”

And then it leapt at me.

I was in trouble, I had no doubts about that. It was just me, and big and fiery. No question who the smart money was on.

I had a knife in my hand. Instincts work remarkably well in a crisis. Six inches of hardened iron – against a demon. Ten out of ten for the instinct that reached for a weapon. One out of ten for producing a weapon that might actually do me some good.

The demon's claws slashed through the space where I had been standing an instant before. A word of advice – being disembowelled by a demon isn't good for the health. My suggestion is to avoid it whenever possible.


As always, comments welcomed!
And in the meantime, have a good Christmas, or such other festival as you enjoy.



Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Guest post: Aurora Springer and the Grandmaster

I'm delighted to welcome Aurora Springer to Dragons and Triplanes to celebrate the launch of her latest novel, Grand Master's Mate, the final book in the Grand Master trilogy.

Tell us about the book.





The Grand Master’s Trilogy

Grand Master’s Mate, Book 3 in this trilogy, releases this month, about ten months after the publication of Book 1, Grand Master’s Pawn. I am thrilled, and a little saddened, after completing my longest series to date. In many ways, I’ll miss the protagonists, Violet and Athanor, and their adventures on planets with bizarre lifeforms.

The Grand Master’s Trilogy is a science fiction adventure set on several planets with distinctive lifeforms. The protagonists have supernormal powers of empathy and telekinesis. Other supernatural elements and mythological references creep into the story, including dragons, living crystals, and the twelve contentious Grand Masters.

The original concept for this trilogy dates back some thirty years ago when I had an abundance of short stories. My initial idea was to combine several short stories into a full-length novel. The organizing theme pays homage to Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass. The Pawn, Violet Hunter, travels on missions to different planets under the command of a mysterious Grand Master. Two of my short stories and skimpy notes about a dragon morphed into Violet’s first three missions. In her fourth mission, she meets her Grand Master and her challenges escalate. So did my challenges as the author because I realized their story continued over two additional books. After a rollercoaster of adventures on different planets, I leave them at a happy point by the end of Book 3. 






 
Grand Master’s Mate
Young empath, Violet Hunter, and her crafty Grand Master, Athanor Griffin, tackle the villains threatening civilization.
Their worst enemy, the Red Queen, rampages across the galaxy evading capture, while blocked portals restrict normal commerce among planets. Compounding their problems, half the Grand Masters on the Council fear Violet is the agent of their doom as her father foretold, and vow to eliminate her. To restore peace, Violet and Athanor embark on a dangerous quest for a weapon hidden by the ancient psychic masters on one of four planets. But, the weapon proves elusive, the ancient sites harbor hazards, and new alliances forged with bizarre entities may not be sufficient to foil their enemies and save the galaxy. 


Buy Links:













 

The Grand Master’s Trilogy:
Book 1 is only 99c for December
Grand Master’s Pawn: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TP1N5PM
Grand Master’s Game: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0104OFJJ8
Grand Master’s Mate: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018EHAA7S




What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I enjoy being outdoors, traveling to different places and watching wildlife. When we visit my family in England, we go hiking in the Welsh mountains, along the coast, and the towpaths of canals. There are public footpaths everywhere and you can often plan to stop at a pub for lunch. We love walking around ancient monuments from Normal castles to the Avebury megaliths and the white horses carved on the chalk hills.












We visited Bletchley Park one summer, where I found an appropriate image for the Grand Master’s Trilogy.



 
Of course, I also have opportunities for traveling to special places in the US. In recent years, we have visited New Orleans and Albuquerque. We enjoy exploring the local parks as well as the city. We visited the swamps near New Orleans and saw turtles, frogs and an alligator (unfortunately too far away for a good picture).


Near Albuquerque, you can find a distinctive landscape with petroglyphs, pueblos and desert plants like this lovely cactus.














What are your current projects and plans for the future?
Currently, I am working on a short story and a novel starring a young female superhero with her animal companion, a winged horse with an attitude. These superhero stories may become the start of a new series. Also, I have a couple of science fiction stories at early stages of development. One is set in our solar system and the other moves between two galaxies. 


 Thank you, Aurora.

I'd add that I'm reading Grand Master's Mate at the moment, and thoroughly enjoying it.

As always, comments welcomed! 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Imp of the week - Grusgaks

I've created a number of strange creatures for the Impcatcher novels. This is another page from Garkosio's Guide to Imps, which is the most widely used reference book in Tal's world. This is Tal's copy, with his annotations in blue.


As always, comments welcomed!

Friday, 4 December 2015

SFFS 5/12/15 Impcatcher

   This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.
Today's snippet is from Impcatcher, which is now on sale on Amazon for the Kindle and in paperback, and DriveThru in pdf format. The general epub version is at Lulu.
This snippet carries on from last week. Tal returned home to find a welcoming committee outside his door. He sensibly hid.

 
I was ducked back around the edge of the bakery already, looking cautiously round the corner in the hope that Gustav wouldn't spot me. The bakery was closed for the night, much to my relief – I didn't want anyone coming out of the doorway I was lurking in. I wouldn't buy any of this establishment's wares – I knew just how lacking in cleanliness was the kitchen. Eating from here needed trollish digestion or a desire for slow, painful suicide. 

Best bet was for me to retreat quietly, find somewhere else to kip down for the night. 

I was running through my list of friends and acquaintances when the air around me began to feel warm, as though the sun had come out. A neat trick after dark. I turned, realising that the street was growing bright. A red glow was spreading across the pavement, a ball of scarlet fire forming in mid-air like a slow sunburst. 

I heard Gustav call out in surprise as he saw the radiance shedding sudden black shadows across the street. There was a shape in the glow. A brilliant red figure, larger than a man, face tawny and muzzled, short pale horns sprouting from the forehead, longer spikes from the shoulder blades and kidneys. Claws on the outstretched hands, a cruel smile showing off sharp, pointed teeth, and a raw, rough skin like fractured stone over impressive muscles. The demon stood in the midst of the street, its attention purely upon me.


 As always, comments welcomed!

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Imp of the week - Hobs

I've created a number of strange creatures for the Impcatcher novels. For the next few weeks I'm going to post a few pages from Garkosio's Guide to Imps, which is the most widely used reference book in Tal's world. This is Tal's copy, with his annotations in blue!


As always, comments welcomed!

Friday, 27 November 2015

SFFS 28/11/15 Impcatcher

  This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.
Today's snippet is from Impcatcher, which is now on sale on Amazon for the Kindle and in paperback, and DriveThru in pdf format. The general epub version is at Lulu.

A new section this week. Tal is returning home...

I had turned into Trollmarsh Street without really thinking what I was doing. It was virtually dark, now. I would really appreciate it when the new street lights were turned on. Some areas were black as Rorsdack's heart.
I stopped short outside the cheap bakery on the corner. The single illuminated light inside my shop shone through the cheap glass panes in black lead that made up my window, and gave just enough light to reveal a welcoming committee. Three men were standing outside the shop. Lurking, to use the technical term. Lying in wait. Iron bars and a vicious looking piece of wood with a long nail in it.
No, not three men. Two men and an orc. Gustav.

   Next week we find out what is going to happen.
As always, comments welcomed!

Friday, 20 November 2015

SFFS 21/11/2015 Impcatcher

 This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.

 
Today's snippet is from Impcatcher, which is now on sale on Amazon for the Kindle and in paperback, and DriveThru in pdf format. The general epub version is at Lulu.

This snippet carries on from last week's extract. Tal has just summoned an imp of his own, and has offered the imp his immortal soul...





Hulberlok looked at me with unmitigated contempt. “Come off it, mage. You don't really think any demon's interested in that sort of gibberish. Your soul isn't going to fill my belly or give me any kind of currency.”

I laughed. “All right. How about my eternal gratitude... and as much of my blood as you can find on the floor.”

“Not even from a vein? You cheapskate.”

I shrugged slightly. “That's the deal.”

“I thought you were an honourable man, mage.”

I laughed aloud. “What gave you that idea, imp?”


As always, comments welcomed!

Friday, 13 November 2015

SFFS 14/11/2015 Impcatcher

  This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.
 

 Today's snippet is from Impcatcher, which is now on sale on Amazon for the Kindle and in paperback, and DriveThru in pdf format. The general epub version is at Lulu.

This snippet carries on from last week's extract. Tal has just summoned an imp of his own.



 
The shape that stepped through the portal was eighteen inches high, glowing a pallid blue. Two tall, thin crystal horns, a hooked nose, cloven hooves, long, thin arms, and a pair of golden eyes. A naked male demon with smooth, rippling metallic skin. Not a pretty sight.

“Not you again” it said in a disgusted tone of voice.

“Hello, Hulberlok” I said quietly. “Nice to see you, too.”

It turned, looking back at the way home. I murmured two more syllables, and the gateway closed with an audible snick. The room was dark again, the hell-glare gone. The small demon sighed, and then stalked to the edge of the circle. 

“Price?” the imp asked simply.

I looked at him levelly, trying to keep a straight face. “I can offer you my immortal soul...”

Hulberlok looked at me with unmitigated contempt.


As always, comments welcomed!

Friday, 6 November 2015

SFFS 7/11/2015 Impcatcher

 This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.
 

 Today's snippet is from Impcatcher, which is now on sale on Amazon for the Kindle and in paperback, and DriveThru in pdf format. The general epub version is at Lulu.

A new section, today. Tal is summoning an imp of his own.

 

The words flowed off my tongue smoothly and crisply, each syllable precise and word-perfect. Getting this sort of thing wrong is not conducive to your health. I won't write the words down – such things have power, and you don't want to mess with that sort of energy.

The glare was bright enough to illuminate every corner of the shop, shadows black and red and shimmering with the sudden flare of heat. Anyone looking at the windows who had a modicum of knowledge would know what I was doing. I just had to hope there was no one around. 

The portal, a half-disc on its side facing me in the midst of the binding circle, showed a vision of hell. One particular hell, anyway. A realm of blue steel and jagged edges, the ground a patchwork of blades and spines, as though a cart-load of daggers had been tipped out across a newly-ploughed field. The sky was red, roiling fire, and there was nothing that looked remotely like the plants or growths of our own world. The creatures of this realm are born of far harder matter. This is Varuch. Not a nice place to visit.

I spoke one more word. A name.


Next week I'll reveal what Tal is summoning.
As always, comments welcomed!

Friday, 30 October 2015

SFFS 31-10-2015 Impcatcher

This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.


 Today's snippet is from Impcatcher, which is now on sale on Amazon for the Kindle and in paperback, and DriveThru in pdf format. The general epub version is at Lulu.

This snippet carries on from last week's episode. Tal is being attacked in his shop by a pair of professional killers - he managed to fling a hooked net over his male assailant (the one with the demon-blade), but the female is equally deadly - and she too has a knife. Fortunately it is not enchanted, but...



Something flickered through the air and slammed into my upper arm. There was no pain for a moment, and I looked at the dagger as the blade shivered in the muscles of my bicep. There was blood welling around the edge of the blade. I wondered for a moment what it was and how it was holding my arm against the shelves.

And then I screamed as the pain hit me. The woman grinned sadistically. Beardy had managed to get the net off him. His face and arms were peppered with small red wounds, like an extreme case of measles. The woman ignored her friend and moved in for the kill, yet another blade in her grip. She had to be weighed down with all the ironmongery she had produced.

The bell over the shop door clanged loudly. A squat, heavily-built figure was in the doorway, looking into the murky depths of the shop, a face I recognised expressing puzzlement through a dark beard. In his large, ham-sized hand a short, solid hammer swung upwards in clear and obvious threat.

The woman looked at me, looked back at the dwarf, and then made her last attempt to puncture my self-esteem. She flung her latest dagger at me. 

As always, comments welcomed!
 

Friday, 23 October 2015

SFFS 24-10-2015 Impcatcher Launched!

 This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.


 Today's snippet is from Impcatcher, which is now on sale on Amazon for the Kindle, and DriveThru in pdf format. A more general epub version is on its way, as is a paperback.

This snippet carries on from last week's episode. Tal is being attacked in his shop by a pair of professional killers.


 
The man had a bushy beard and a fixed expression, his pale blue eyes like flint chips. Psychotic. Deadly. He lunged – I twisted to evade the shimmering blue of the blade and shoved a large crate into his path. The blade caught the cheap wood, and it charred. I shivered and flung myself back further, knowing the wooden shelves on the side wall were within feet of me, and that I had nowhere further to run. Beardy grinned icily, moving forward with professional caution. I risked a glance at the shelves behind me. He lunged immediately, not entirely to my surprise. I swung sideways and grabbed at the object I had spotted on the shelf, flinging it round and into his face. He cried out in pain, blood welling from each of the spikes digging into his face. Barbed nets are vicious things, like a blanket full of fish-hooks. I use them sparingly, only on really savage prey. Beardy qualified.

Comments welcomed!




Friday, 16 October 2015

SFFS 17-10-2015 - Impcatcher

This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.


 Today's snippet is from Impcatcher, which (Amazon willing!) should be released on Thursday - here is the definitive cover!

In this snippet, two people have just walked into Tal's shop.

 
Two people were in the shop - a man and a woman. Smart leathers. Artisans from Eastwall was my first assumption. I didn't feel any immediate alarm - they didn't look like cheap thugs.

Mostly because they weren't – this pair were expensive, professional thugs. I was reaching out my hand in greeting to the bearded, heavy-set man when I saw a glint of steel moving in the woman's hand. If I had been a second slower to respond, everything would have been over then. For ever. As it was, I jerked sideways, tumbling into a hobcage and falling backwards, the deadly knife slicing across my leather tunic without impacting upon my flesh. This was no attempt to beat me up – this was lethal, ruthless, offering no quarter.

Her cohort had drawn a blade of his own, the edge rippling and shimmering blue-gold. Enchanted. I had no doubt that any injury from that particular edge would be fatal. With a few minutes' thought and perhaps a glance at one or more of my books I could have told you the type of demon bound within the blade. As it was, I had an extremely unpleasant suspicion I would never get to find out.
 

As always, comments welcomed!

Friday, 9 October 2015

SFFS 10/10/2015 Impcatcher

 This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.

 





Today's snippet is from Impcatcher, which I am aiming to publish in roughly two weeks' time.

In this snippet, Tal, the impcatcher of the title, is about to make a very nasty discovery in the sewers.

 


I held the crystal in my left hand, pushing it forward into the darkness as I peered warily into the opening. My right hand reached automatically for the knife in the sheath on my right shin - saved my life more than once, that blade. But the void was empty of immediate threat.
It was a low, arched chamber, only a couple of hundred years old. I guessed it dated back to the Meraxian occupation, when our then overlords had insisted on improvements to the town's waterworks. The area was only ten feet across. A small, artificial cave, probably intended for the crew who had, in the distant past, maintained these depths.

I moved the light to illuminate the other side of the chamber, and my throat choked up. The occupants were both here. One was sprawled on the floor beside the makeshift bed, skin tight across her skull and shoulders, eyes staring blankly upwards, dirty teeth revealed by half-open lips in a rictus grimace. The other body was contorted on a slew of papers making a mound against the wall, all-but-skeletal hands clutching a long knife. His skin, too, was pallid, like parchment stretched over dry stone. His tunic was torn and patched, his breeches held together by old twine. He looked as though he was ninety.
Except that I knew he was sixteen at most.

I finally have the design for the cover - it may be tweaked slightly, but the fundamental design is settled.
As always, comments welcomed!

Friday, 2 October 2015

SFFS 3/10/2015 Impcatcher

 This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.

Today's snippet is from Impcatcher, which I am aiming to publish in roughly a month's time. Tal, the eponymous impcatcher, is in a cellar, endeavouring to capture an imp which is throwing bottles of vintage wine at him.

Last week, he tried to blind the little horror with a crystal that flared brightly, but which has now gone out.


I swung my heavy, squirming burden down onto its back against the stone floor with a solid thud, hoping to knock the fight out of it before it thought to start throwing fire around. So far, it had been playing games, amusing itself with the idiot human. Now that said idiot had proved to be reasonably capable, it might well use some of the more dangerous abilities in its arsenal. It twisted and shrieked, but in anger, not dismay. Not to my surprise, it snarled something else, and its skin began to smoke. Small flames began to lick from its skin – the grey slab walls around us flickered red from the glow, wet moss reflecting the light in wide patches on the ancient stone. I hauled the imp off the deck and slammed it down again with all my strength. 
 
The second blow didn’t stop it, either. It twisted in my grip, and flung out its legs. It must have connected with a pillar – the sudden impact caught me off balance, and I slammed into the floor on my ass. The quozac squirmed out of my clutches like a greased rat. The fire crackling from its skin went out – it wasn't stupid enough to provide me with sufficient light to see it. My head collided with something – I had no idea what, except that it was hard. The imp guffawed – it could obviously see in the midnight black that had enveloped us again – and was suddenly on top of me, long, strong fingers clutching at my throat. 

  I still haven't decided on a cover - my job this weekend is to experiment further!
   As always, comments welcome. 

Friday, 25 September 2015

SFFS - 26-9-2015 Impcatcher

This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here.
 
Today's snippet is from Impcatcher, which I am aiming to publish in roughly a month's time. Tal, the eponymous impcatcher, is in a cellar, endeavouring to capture an imp which is throwing bottles of vintage wine at him.
Last week, he ignited a crystal that flared brightly...

 
The imp was staring at the cohlstone as it ignited, and it cried out in alarm and pain. I, of course, was looking anywhere but towards the flare. As it faded, I lunged through the returning gloom with gauntleted hands to seize my prey. My hands fastened around the imp’s throat, and I yanked it bodily off the top of the empty stone shelves that climbed steeply up the side wall of the cellar. In the rapidly dying light from the cohlstone I could see what I had caught. Dark green, mottled skin covering a body the size and scrawniness of an adult goblin; a large hooked nose, small, bat wings, and two temporarily blinded red eyes. 

It struggled, of course. I’m no light-weight, and I kept my grip upon it as it thrashed around, its jaws clamping together with an audible click as it tried to bite, its wings beating fast to haul it out of trouble. Without success, needless to say. I’m quite capable of holding onto even a large imp. And this was one – maybe forty inches tall, and surprisingly muscular. A quozac. Her Ladyship’s description had sounded like a hob, or at worst a skitterhorn - a quozac was far more of a handful. And I’d dropped my binding net. I'm getting too old for this game – I'll be forty in three years.

 I offered up three different covers last week. This time I have a totally different image - again, I'd really appreciate comments about the cover and if you think this is better or worse than last week's offerings!