Wednesday, November 29, 2017

nysta #8: scion of dragonclaw up for pre-order!

Those of you following my Twitter or Facebook would be well aware that I've thrown Nysta #8: Scion of Dragonclaw up for pre-order!

I have given a release date of January 3rd 2018, and I hope you'll all be looking forward to it.

You can Pre-Order here.

So, what's it all about?

When I was writing this book, I wanted to do something a bit different. I knew I wanted to up the bodycount. And I wanted to do it in a way that didn't make it repetitive and boring. So, I began playing with Point of View, which is something I normally shy away from. But, with Scion of Dragonclaw, I think I found a nice way of doing it.

I was also getting over a terrifyingly horrible job full of toxic management monkeys, and I really felt a need to say something about that. To say something about the very condition of having a job in an environment where your job is being off-shored while management smile at you in the face and stab you in the back. Where they'll push you on with a cowardly pretence at caring rather than have the balls to just tell you to fuck off.

Many of you have felt that. Whether you're being pushed along because you don't quite fit in, or they just want someone cheaper. You know what it feels like. I felt really strongly about this because the job I had was rather specialised and the implementation of replacement was being done with particular ineptitude which essentially insulted both my intelligence and the work I had been doing for them. I put a lot of effort into that job. I was forced to delay Nysta #7 because of it - a choice which ultimately cost me a lot of money.

So, this book rages at that in a way which isn't preachy. It is instead as much a character assassination as it is a story about assassinations. It is a joke. A pun of epic proportions. And, I hope you can see someone you know in these pages and feel delight when they fall to the slashing blade of Nysta.

Elsewhere, I'd like to point out the amazing cover, once more done by Amir Zand, whose work continues to explode my mind. This one is just glorious. Pay particular attention to her holding a severed head. Very drippy and red.

This leaves me to the final part of this post where I ask if you've read the books to consider sharing your opinions (good or bad) on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, Reddit,, or your favourite blog or review page. Wherever you hang out with like-minded fantasy peeps. I'm still a struggling writer living on lint which I pull from my pocket and sell to passing mice.

I don't own my own home (can't afford a deposit or a mortgage), and I depend entirely upon my wits and my wife. If it weren't for her, I'd have 2-minute noodles every night instead of 3 out of 7. So, every sale really helps me toward my goal of one day buying her some new boots.

Also, I have a PayPal account if you loved my books enough to think 3.99 is a cheap price for the kind of entertainment found in your average Netflix hallway scene (God, the Punisher was AWESOME!). I thank you in advance and can't tell you how much it actually means to me.

Lastly, thank you to everyone who has supported me or bought one of my books. Thank you for taking the chance on an Indie Writer Hack. I hope 2018 is the best for you and you enjoy my books!

Friday, July 28, 2017

the evolution of the nysta series

Attention, my glorious horde of undying faithfuls. Over the last few months, I've been looking at avenues to boost myself in the overall public domain.

I've thrown myself at the mercy of Mark Lawrence's Indie Project, SPFBO. And that went well, though it's fairly obvious I don't quite fit in with normal fantasy. I'm a little too punk for that. And that's okay.

In the future, I'd like to try a Patreon service. But I really want to make it worth it. I want to give something that really makes it rewarding because, ultimately, I don't feel having a sneaky peek or something at my work is exactly rewarding enough. I feel there's a lot more I could be offering to be worth your support.

Some of the ideas I'm working on involve the usual things such as extra contact and answering direct questions about the books (although, technically I'm happy to do that here anyway, so I didn't think that was an added bonus), and some participation in future books. I mean, there's sometimes forks down which I can travel. At the end of the Dragonclaw trilogy, for example, I can either tell the next story in the Nysta series or there's a distinct possibility I can give you a Chukshene book (he's actually due for one around then), or the next in the Hemlock (which will fit in okay then, though I might normally leave it until a little later).

Also, I'd love to write a literal ton of short pieces. Similar in format to how I do the Prologues and Epilogues, these will give added depth to the series and provide you with some background on characters you might not have had before. One terrific example is a story involving what happened to Nysta's goats. I mean, what did they do? This haunts me at night...

Having said all that, there's a lot of room for more exciting and tangible benefits I was hoping to offer. I feel that the biggest issue a writer faces is our books can often only be read once. Many times, you wouldn't read them again. They're also not something you can put as a background on your PC, or easily show off to your friends.

But you CAN show off merchandise. I was hoping, then, that what WOULD interest you is offers of merchandise. That is, mugs and shirts (sent to supporters). I also know a place which can print me up some bulk bookmarks (I know, pointless with ebooks) which are made on canvas and are extremely high quality. Amir Zand's art would look amazing on those.

I have also begun commissioning for character studies! This is the most exciting part of this post for you. I want more art for my website, this page here, and merchandising possibilities. Amir is working on some characters right now and I have also sourced another artist to drop through some which have a very 70s Pulp fantasy comicbook appeal. The artist I've attached like a leech to is named Alexandru Munteanu (Andy Weasel) and his work is amazing. Some of you may have seen the image I posted on my Facebook and Twitter feeds a week or two ago and wondered why I did that.

I will use the art mostly to illustrate stories and provide bonus eye candy to my work. I hope this kind of thing will add to the value of a possible Patreon service. Much of what I have will always remain public, but I feel I could give this story a lot faster if I can find a way to work on it more than I do my day job. I hope this doesn't seem very mercenary of me.

To show you how hard I'm working to provide value, I'd like to share the following first Character Image. This one is by Andy and is of Rockjaw. It is made as an illustration to Rockjaw's soon-to-come short story which will give an accurate and hopefully poignant background to why he is what he is. Though he explained it in a few quick rushed sentences to Lux, there's always room for a snapshot of his life, I think.

I'll put up a few stories on my site over the next month or so and if you get time, I'd love to get your feedback on whether you find them interesting or valuable.

This image comes in two flavours, but for now I'll give you the amazing coloured version. There's another version I have which has been made specifically with the idea of shirts in mind.

It's the first in a series of images from some extremely talented artists with very different styles.

I hope you drop your jaws like a rock at the sheer intolerable AWESOMESAUCE.

I did.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

revenge of the soup

i was on my side as the kid stuck his boots in.
i tasted blood and gritted my teeth and tried to curl up inside my arms as though they might somehow spread out like an iron coat and protect me from the kicking.
"where is it?" he screamed. "give me the fucking money!"
"in . . . the . . . box," i croaked. "it's in the box!"
the kid tossed the box down, splashing out its contents. money. a few paperclips. a rubber band. couple of bank bags. and a tin of soup.
"please," i moaned. "please don't take the soup..."

the little shit hit the concrete running. he was tearing down the street.
he was like greased lightning.
in one fist, a bundle of notes and the jangle of coins in his jacket. the hood, though pulled over his head, revealed a grin set firm against his face.
in the other hand, gripped like a big fuck you against the world, was the soup.

i've been jacked a few times.
it's nothing new.
i rolled over inside my shop and spat some blood. dug around inside my mouth a bit to make sure no teeth were about to come out.
rolled up on my elbow as another customer came in.
"jesus!" he cried. "you okay? i'll call the cops!"
"wait," i grunted. "it's okay. no need to call the cops."
"did he get anything?"
i grinned through bloody teeth. "nah. he just took a tin of the soup."

he called himself gonzo.
he called himself that because he'd seen a movie and figured that made him hardcore enough. he broke into a few warehouses first, then moved onto houses before getting the guts to jack a little chinese shop. since then, he took it on himself to do as many convenience stores as he could.
the money in his fist felt warm and well-earned.
he couldn't figure out why i was defending the soup and not the cash, so he figured the soup must be worth something, only he wasn't yet sure who he should sell it to.
as far as he knew, no one bought secondhand soup.
he kept running a few blocks, a little surprised to not hear a cop in this neighbourhood. running from the cops was half the fun.
he thought he might have kicked me a little too hard. far from giving him a spark of fear that he might have killed someone, he took comfort in the fact i might not be able to tell the cops who kicked me to death.
as he slowed, his breath coming in ragged gasps, he looked down at the blood on his pants leg and realised he'd have to throw out another pair of pants.
disappointed, he waved down a bus and headed home.
unconsciously, he juggled the soup.

the kid made it home peacefully.
his roomies were out.
that was good, because he wanted to count his takings.
he sat on his bed, dropping the soup onto his pillow and dumping all the coins and cash out on the mattress.
slowly, because he wasn't much good at math, he counted the money he'd stolen from me.
it wasn't much. barely a hundred bucks, but then the little fucker didn't know i had a little vault hidden under the counter. he hadn't looked behind the stack of tampons.
i kept them there because most kids who held me up had a mortal dread of tampons.
no way they were going to touch them.
they always ripped shit out of my counter but never touched the tampons.
go figure.

pleased with his haul - he wasn't much of a worker was gonzo - he lay back on his bed and had a small daydream about using the cash to convince that chick who worked at the diner down the road to go to the movies with him.
then to dinner - maybe fish n chips.
then home for some biggedy bam on the bed.
he had a hard on still when he rolled over and found himself looking into the face of the soup.

gonzo drifted into the kitchen, juggling the soup.
he had to hunt around a bit for a can opener.
found it, though.
the opener sliced easily through the tin lid and gnawed cheerfully around the edge, opening it up nice and easy.
gonzo was quite proud of his tin opening skills. when he was little, his mother used to get him to open all the tins. he'd do them with one go, never letting the opener pause or slip. just zam and it was done.
open sesame.
he took off the lid and tossed it into the sink.
looked inside the tin and hello.
that, thought gonzo, looks yum.
funny enough, that's what the soup was thinking, too.

the lights in the kitchen flickered.
a few bugs rippled against the flyscreen trying to get out as though they could sense the soup and wanted nothing to do with it.
the ancient pot on the stove cradled the soup and brought its temperature up.
gonzo smsed the chick from the diner.
he told her he had the most amazing soup he'd ever smelt. he was cooking it right now. she just had to come over and give it a taste.
he truly wasn't thinking of anything else by this stage. the thought of fucking was completely absent, even when she texted back that he could go fuck himself because she wasn't stupid enough to fall for that shit.
he just shrugged and began pouring the soup into a bowl where it steamed and gave the filthy kitchen an aroma so fine the kitchen itself would have fainted had it been alive.
it even killed the aroma of the bin which had been in the kitchen for some five days.
gonzo stared at the soup.
for a second, he thought it moved.
but that, he reasoned, would be stupid.
he grabbed a spoon and headed to the television room.

gonzo lapped up the soup like a starving dog, shovelling it down with gusto.
he didn't really know what was on tv. he wasn't really paying attention.
he kept his mind and his mouth focussed entirely on the soup.
that's probably also why he didn't hear me kick his back door in.

i settled in on the couch next to gonzo.
he didn't notice straight away.
he was busy sitting back with a peaceful smile on his face. he'd just tasted of nirvana, after all, and i'm not talking kurt cobain.
although, now i think about it, he had a lot more in common with the very dead kurt cobain.
or he would.
in a few minutes.
he turned his head, slowly, the smile still on his face.
"hi," i said.
"hi," he said, like an addict halfway through a good trip.
"i just wanted to be here," i told him.
"i don't usually. it's not a pretty sight. but, you know," i wiped my lips where i could still feel the blood dripping from where his boot took me full in the mouth. "i felt i owed you one."
"cool," he said.
i turned the channel to something a little more interesting and waited.

the soup looked around.
it wasn't terribly happy about being inside gonzo.
but it was looking forward to getting out, that's for sure.
as any prisoner could tell you, getting out was always more fun than getting in.
the soup sniffed at a corner of gonzo's gut.
something didn't smell very good that way, so it sniffed at another side.
not quite what the soup was looking for.
it sniffed a little to the right.
aaaah, thought the soup. there you are...
and without further ado, it began to eat.

gonzo shuddered on the couch and his eyes bulged while his jaw clenched firmly shut. blood flowed freely down from his ears and nose.
he jerked.
he retched.
he tried to say something like "what the fuck is eating me?"
his fingers clawed the couch.
he made some moaning noises, none of which would keep me from sleeping as inside him the soup crunched his bones and minced his meat, dissolving it all down and slurping him up with a truly bizarre assortment of moist sounds.

i picked at the popcorn i'd brought with me, and then set an empty tin on the floor at the foot of the couch.
the soup rippled under the kid's skin, filling him up inside, soaking up the bones like bread soaks up, well, soup.
it was like a big pressure wave was building up under gonzo's skin. he gurgled as he seemed almost ready to burst and then with a loud and wet pop he just collapsed into himself leaving only the small blob of the soup and a few spots of blood sitting on the couch next to me.
i looked down at the soup and smiled.
what's on tv? asked the soup.
i shrugged. "nothing worth talking about. but i got us out a dvd for later."
i showed the soup the cover.
the blob? the soup chuckled as it rolled off the couch and slid up the tin to curl up inside. looks like someone i know.

at the shop, i leaned on the counter, watching the blob on a small mini dvd-player.
beside me, a tin of the soup sat quietly watching the blob eat a cinema full of people.
it didn't giggle, but i knew it wanted to.
the door jingled as a customer came in. i popped another piece of popcorn into my mouth and reached for a can of coke.
"hey, asshole," the customer hissed. "gimme the fucking money! now!"
i looked up.
"please," i said. "please don't take the soup..."

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the ballad of hatboy and angry steve

angry steve

hatboy and i are going through a slump in super-sidekick activities. during this go-slow period he’s become obsessed with roaching.
i often find him perched above a simple crack in the floorboards, a mallet in one hand and a fork in the other, cooing into the darkness below, “come here, little eatsies.”
he tells me he’s been chasing one particularly chubby little squirrel of a roach which he has named angry steve, or, the one who gets away.
on those rare occaisions when angry steve pokes his rather large and spikey head up through the hole in the floor, hatboy slams the mallet down with such force that our house actually rocks on its foundations. however, despite the fact that his super-sidekick powers are now legendary in fourteen known universes, he misses the smug roach every time and angry steve always disappears with a contemptuous growl which i find unsettling in an insectoidy lifeform.
later, as we contemplate our not having apprehended evil in many weeks, he offers me some roaching wisdom.
“did you know that the only creature to survive a nuclear winter will be the humble cockroach? oh, and gameshow hosts, but they’re not nearly so crunchy.”
he tells me that the fiscal police have spoken to him. they want him to stop telling the world about his kfc theory.

angry steve in potter’s field

i heard the scream some time before dawn.
it was a scream, not of terror.
not of imminent doom.
it didn’t send shivers down my spine, or even make me shudder in the gloom of my pre-morning room. instead, it made me sigh.
hatboy, squealing girlishly, took the stairs four at a time as he ran up to my room, burst in, and showed me what he’d just managed to hit on the bonce with a ten-pound circus mallet.
“look! i got him at last!”
angry steve hung limp in my super-sidekick’s fist, his spikey head now looking nothing like an insect should, but looking everything like a watermelon pushed through a carwash under the wheels of a semi at high speed. bits of the weird-looking oversized roach’s brains oozed out onto my carpet.
hatboy was grinning like the cheshire cat. “you know what this means, don’t you?”
i groaned. it looked like today was going to be a no-sleepy.
“that’s right!” he cried. “it’s fried roach and noodleburger time!”
as he spun out and back down the stairs, hooting like a wookiee, i decided i didn’t want to get up today.
although, knowing hatboy’s mealtime snacks, i knew i wouldn’t have much choice.

a rude awakening

an enormous explosion finally roused me from my futon.
i stumbled down the stairs and into what was left of the kitchen. in the centre of the rubble, a large noodleburger glowed like some spooky meteoritey-thing from another planet. it even steamed and bubbled like one. bright green roachmeat dribbled out of the bun, and the noodles tried to wriggle out with it.
i heard a roar in the distance, and climbed over the stove and stood on the crater that was our carnation patch.
at first, i assumed the martians were using comets of wrath to send their eggs to our planet again, but i couldn’t find their metal discs anywhere in the flowers, no matter how hard i tried to find them. then, with a gasp, i realised i was standing not in a crater at all, but a massive footprint.
i heard the roar again, and then the telephone rang.
hoping winona had chosen to ring me with another curry, i rushed to the phone.
“creepy! the city needs you!”
“oh, hello mayor. do you mind? i’m waiting for a phone call.”
“please, creepy! a giant monster is terrorizing the streets! it’s pillaged the donut factory, and consumed the contents of fifteen ice cream vans! it’s horrible, creepy! truly terrifying! who knows what evil it has in plan for its next victim!”
“look, i tell you what. if you get off the phone now, i’ll wait until lunchtime. if i haven’t got my phone call by then, i’ll see what i can do. now, i can’t be any fairer than that, can i?”
as i waited, i rummaged about the leftovers of the fridge, searching for an undamaged bottle of coke. whatever it was that had stomped on my coke fridge would be very sorry it had.
i looked around and wondered if i should dig hatboy out of the rubble.
frankly, though, i didn’t know where to begin.
i sipped my coke and looked under a few pebbles. he wasn’t under any of those, so i assumed he’d gotten squished by a larger block of concrete.
i looked at my watch. lunchtime. oh well, i thought. i’ll dig out his corpse later and give him a decent burial in the carnation patch.

he has lasers for eyes

the mayor picked me up in his limousine. “you must save my career from the rampaging terror!”
“yeah, yeah. where is he? what’s he look like? scaley? does he have spines on his back, and magnificient firey breath of much-damage-doey?”
“he has lasers for eyes.”
“oooh! lasers are good!”
we followed a rather untidy trail of damage into the city, where several buildings were in the process of burning. the mayor drove me to one of the high hills in the city, and we stood on the car bonnet, looking for a trace of the malicious monster who so molested our fair city of gotham, or wherever we were.
the mayor trembled. “they say he’s like something which has crawled out of the depths of the oceans, filled with rage! they say he has horns on his head, and can call upon great and fearsome armies of undead demons who dance on the bodies of the freshly deceased! they say he walks like michael jackson.”
“the moonwalk, huh?” i shook my head. “nasty.”
“he’s an 800 tonne behemoth! truly terrifying! he dwarfs small buildings, and soon dwarfs the big ones as he pushes them over and stomps on their crumbling ashes! he roars, and when he does, glass shatters and babies cry! babies shouldn’t cry! i should be kissing them! kissing babies! in their voter’s arms! we’re doomed! doomed, i tell you!” the mayor fell to his knees and began to weep like a baby himself.
i patted his bald head. “never fear, mayor. my dead super-sidekick and i will save this seemingly doomed town.”
i wasn’t sure how, but it didn’t matter in the slightest because the army had nukes.
as i thought about the nukes, and wished i had some of those funky commando outfits, the street began to shake beneath a series of thunderous earthquakes. the mayor’s cup of coffee on the bonnet rippled nicely.
it looked like our monster was about to show its ugly face.
when it finally did emerge from the jungle of equally ugly buildings, my jaw dropped in shock.
“oh my god!” the mayor squealed. “it’s the stay puft marshmallow man!”
i slapped him in the chops. “that’s not the stay puft marshmallow man, you gibbering idiot! that’s hatboy!”


he squinted down at us. “mmm, limo. nummies.”
and took hold of the car in his pudgy fist, shoving it back end first into his massive jaws. bits of glass and metal fragments rained down on us. oil dripped from his lips as he foully murdered our transport.
“oh my god! he killed the car!” the mayor squeaked.
i shook a fist at my mutated super-sidekick. “you bastard!”

hatzilla goes ape

he climbed the tallest building, wailing loudly as the air force took pot shots at him.
i sat on the curb, and built a small mountain of broken glass and metal between my knees.
the mayor watched me, sitting cross-legged in the gutter.
now and then, he’d glance up at my rampaging super-sidekick and offer an update.
“he’s just eaten two more helicopters.”
“they shouldn’t fly so close, then.”
“now he’s gnawing on the roof.”
“shouldn’t build it out of edible materials, then.”
“as far as i know, concrete isn’t very edible.”
“he probably won’t eat it all, then.”
after a while, i had sculpted a beautiful mountain. i stared at it for a long time. it seemed to be calling me. i didn’t know from where exactly, but i knew i’d just sculpted a mountain from somewhere on earth. i had to find the mountain. it was vitally important to the continuation of the species that i find this mountain.
the mayor sighed.
“shush,” i told him. “i’m building a mountain.”
hatboy fell off the building, screaming as he tried to swim upward through air. by the way my glass and metal mountain’s peak tumbled from the top, i’d imagine he hit the earth extremely hard.
i stared at my newly formed plateau.
then i glanced at the mayor, who was looking a little depressed.
“say, you don’t happen to have any mashed spud on you at all, do you?”

hatzilla 2000

i figured that the highly-radioactive angry steve had mutated hatboy into his current size and mood. i told the mayor he’d get over it, eventually.
as hatboy tumbled down a few more buildings, and used his laser eyes to burn a couple of pedestrians who were silly enough to be running around at his feet trying to get photographs, i told the mayor to let nature take its course.
“if destructive entity persists, consult your local military,” i said. “they’ve got porta-nukes.”
nukes were always good advice. they solved everything.
“dear god! this is horrible!”
i was just about to tell the mayor about the mechanics of radioactive mutants, when there was a massive explosion. he dived into the rubble for cover, screaming, “what the hell was that?”
i shrugged, ignoring the rain of ash. “if you’re very lucky, that was the military using their nukes to reduce my super-sidekick into a smoking shadow of his former self.”
“if you’re unlucky, hatboy’s sporran has mutated into a thing of much-stuff-explodey.”
another explosion rocked the ground we wobbled on, and hatboy’s giggles filled the smoke and debris.


it seemed this situation would require desperate measures. i resolved to do my utmost to preserve the city i so dearly loved, to prevent more destruction at the hands of my deranged comrade at arms, and to resolve my questions concerning the whereabouts of dax.
therefore, i began wading through the rubble.
“where are you going?” the mayor sounded hopeful.
“home,” i said, putting him at ease. “the episode where ezri joins the crew is on tonight. i have to make some cheesies for it.”
“but what about him?” the mayor pointed at where another explosion took out a few city blocks.
“who? oh. right.”
i hobbled up a small hill of debris, turned toward where the last explosion came from, and shouted, “hey! deep space nine’s on in half an hour! cheesies will be in the oven! pick up some coke on your way!”
as i toddled off, i presumed the look on the mayor’s face was one of gratitude.
i felt good about the whole thing. once more, my super-sidekick powers had averted certain disaster.

coffee and cookies

we couched, sipping our colombian blend, dipping anzac cookies, and pointing at the television’s shiny screen.
i told hatboy i was relieved to see he’d made it back to normal size, because it meant i wouldn’t have to dig him a grave the size of your average football stadium. i didn’t think our carnations could cope.
i squinted at his freshly shrunken girth. “you’ve put on a few kilos.”
he patted his belly. “radioactive roaches do that to you.”
i offered him another cookie.
“i’m not sure if i should . . .”
“they’re thinning,” i promised.
“then by all means, pass the packet.”
considering recent events, i’m planning to ween him completely off roaches by introducing bugs into his diet. then i’ll start him on cashews, and his journey back into the realms of humanity will be complete. 
failing that, i’ll introduce him to the joys of eating a wide variety of grubs and rent him out to market gardeners.