Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Oxygen Restriction - Progress

The first story to be published in the Lucy Harlow series will be 'Oxygen Restriction'. This is a tight little crime mystery involving five characters in the crucible of a small firm. Lucy, a nosey girl and fledgling sleuth, is on the trail of a serial killer of young women in the US. First two chapters are now done with 3500 words in the can. This story will be free of charge and will be published on Smashwords in four weeks.

'You'll never walk alone', a mystery story written a decade ago, has been re-typed and revised. It is 2770 words and will be published Friday 9 or Saturday 10 March.

Best Wishes


Sunday, 26 February 2012

You'll Never Walk Alone

No folks,

I've not taken leave of my senses. I'm not a Liverpool fan, but a decade ago I wrote this short story about a guy who is about to lose his job but doen't have the courage to tell his wife. The couple are about to land on hard times and the protagonist wanders about a local beauty spot in his lunchtimes brooding and mulling things over. A year after he is sacked, he sees his old boss following the same routine. The inital job cull did not cure the firm's finances and the boss faces a similar fate to our protagonist...But what is that fate?

YNWA is a mystery short story and will be available free of charge. It will be published in 2 weeks.

This will the the last, for now, of my short stories written a decade ago.

The next stories to be released will be the Lucy Harlow detective mysteries.

The first Oxygen Restriction is now ready to be written. All the characterisation is done. All the plotting done. All the motivation determined. All the notes written. It will take about 10 days to write and the same again to review. It will be published free of charge in 4 weeks.

The second, which will retail at 99 cents, is written. It is 16,700 words and will be tightened, reviewed and revised with a view to publication in 6 weeks.

I will then do a number of these Lucy Harlow crimes stories. Target is one per month for the rest of this year.

Best wishes Saul.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Lucy Harlow - TV Torment

Lucy Harlow story TV Torment finished today - 17200 words - not too long - happy with it. Story took about 10 days to do. I will write the first in the series now, Oxygen Restriction, which will be free. Then review and revise TVT. OR will be published first. TVT will follow at the minium 99 cents. I will then publish another five or six Lucy short stories/novellas this year, again all at the minimum 99 c.

Best wishes

Saul Moon

Vacant Possession - Published

My free short story Vacant Possession has been published on Smashwords.


Best wishes


Thursday, 23 February 2012

Lucy Harlow - update

The second Lucy Harlow story TV Torment is coming on at rate of knots now. Around 14k words in the can. Next scene written out in the book. Will be finished over the weekend. TVT will be put away for a week, while I write Oxygen Restriction, which is a lot shorter. Then review and revise TVT. I am glad TVT looks to be around 17 - 18k words, which I guess is a novella. Not too long, and very happy with it.

My next short story Vacant Possession will be published Free of Charge on Smashwords at around 5pm UK time tomorrow (Friday). Download and enjoy.

Best wishes Saul.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Lucy Harlow - update

Hi folks,

A quick update on Lucy Harlow. The second story now stands at 13000 words and is I guess about 2/3 through so I expect it to come out at 19 - 20 k. I don't want it any bigger for it is a novella. However, it is a great crime mystery about Lucy tracking down a gang who have been murdering young women in the south of England. One of the gang's number, solicitor Malcolm Margarson, has been killed by another gang member as an imminent interview for Margarson with the police was discovered, and the solicitor was considered to be a weak link.

More to follow, but the above story is called TV Torment and has a paranormal element.

When this story is done I will write an introductory story to Lucy, Oxygen Restriction, a little bit kinky, but plot done. I will give this one away free.

Vacant possession, my latest short story will be published free of charge on Smashwords this coming Friday afternoon.

Best wishes


Monday, 20 February 2012

Vacant Possession - New Free Short Story

I will be publishing a new free short story at the weeken on Smashwords. Will also appear on Amazon.

Here's a synopsis:

Steve Boyce has left behind a violent adolescence to become a prosperous estate agent with a lovely wife and children. But when he is commissioned to handle the sale of the house in which he spent his first fifteen years, Steve’s past comes back to haunt him with devastating consequences. Vacant Possession is a disturbing mystery of the paranormal.

Download it free from Smashwords at the weekend!

Best wishes Saul.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Saturday night

Hi folks,

I have been thinking about "my imagination is inexhaustible" and it's true. Think of the most ordinary thing and you can make up a story. Just keep believing, keep on going, whoa here we go! Got loads I'm gonna share with you - Vacant Possession, a top story - Climb to the Stars - You'll never walk alone - but the Lucy Harlow series will be the best of the lot.

Best wishes


Friday, 17 February 2012

Climb to the Stars vs Vacant Possession

Hi folks,

I intend to publish a number of short stories I wrote about a decade ago. These will be free of charge. The first of these 'Switch' was published last Saturday and has been downloaded on Smashwords over 200 times, which I think is pretty good for a natural born fool from Maldervale.

I did intend to publish a story called Climb to the Stars next. The story is a love story about a young couple tragically parted in a car crash. The protagonist climbs to heaven, beset by his phobias. In reality, he is badly hurt but climbs to heaven only see his love taken into the arms of God. He of course falls back to earth and a horrific reality. There are two things with this story 1) some of the imagery of the climb needs improving. Not a problem, the ideas are set and can be embellished or indeed changed in certain instances. 2) I read this story this morning and find it very upsetting. To be honest I'm not ready to go there at the moment. So publication will be shelved for a few months.

However, while digging out Climb to the Stars, I found another story 'Vacant Possession'. I had forgotten completely about the existence of this story. However, it is a pearl. In my view at least the equal of 'Switch', but most probably better. The story concerns a poltergeist that moves from haunting a house to possessing the estate agent (realtor) who is selling the property, with catastrophic consequences for the protagonist. As ever there is a mysterious twist to this tale.

I am very busy at the moment, writing the Lucy Harlow novellas / short stories in my spare time. But I will take time out, probably this Sunday morning, to type and format 'Vacant Possession' for Smashwords. With a couple of copy edits during the week, hopefully the said yarn will be ready to publish on Saturday next week. If not the Saturday after. I will let you know the Thurday and Friday before publication on Twitter, Kindleboards, and here.

Best wishes


The Scorpian Vistant - Weekend Freebie

My novel, The Scorpian Visitant, is free to download at Smashwords until end of play this Monday 20 Feb. Enter code XG63F at the checkout.


Best wishes


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Lucy progress / TSV freebie

Folks, over 5000 words done on the second Lucy, but I'm going to see how thing go this weekend and if I'm up to schedule, I think I'll take an evening out next week to format Climb to the Stars. The introduction to this tale is formenting in my brain, even though I haven't set eyes on it for years. I'm looking forward to publishing it. Free of charge of course.

The Scorpian Visitant will be free of charge this weekend on Smashwords. Coupon posted on here and on Twitter Friday. Twitter feed appears on my author page on Smashwords so coupon code there too. Punch in coupon code in Smashwords checkout. Offer ends Monday 20 Feb.

I hope you download and enjoy this rollocking yarn.

Best wishes


The Scorpian Visitant - Weekend Freebie

Hi folks, the weekend is almost upon us, thank the Lord.

I wrote in yesterday's blog that I was considering an offer with The Scorpian Visitant. On the back of the very strong interest in Switch, my free short story, I have decided to allow The Scorpian Visitant to be downloaded over the weekend free of charge. I will generate a coupon on Smashwords tomorrow, Friday, and this will run until end of play Monday February 20. My motivation for this is that I would like the story to be read from start to finish. I really believe in this story, but as with all long tales it unrolls at a steady pace, so the the first 30% of the free download may well showcase the quality of the writing but not the unravelling of what I believe is an outstanding mystery, and an exciting adventure.

I will publish the coupon code on this blog, on Twitter and on Kindleboards.com. The Twitter feed goes direct into my author page at Smashwords so the code will be available on the site.

You go to the checkout and punch in the code, and there you have your copy of The Scorpian Visitant free of charge.

Best wishes


Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Climb to the Stars

I am considering publishing a short story that I wrote over a decade ago called Climb to the Stars.
I have not looked at the story for years now, but from memory the plot involves the final tragic parting of a young couple in a car crash. The theme is fear of the climb to heaven, where the protagonist is beset by his phobias: a swarm of attacking birds, a closed green door at the end of the climb with a precipitous drop either side of the narrow stairway (the latter an image from a recuring nightmare as a child). The book also lends heavily on the imagery in the book of Revelation.

The story will be free, but I can't decide on whether to pick it up. It would take me only a weekend afternoon to re-type into Smashwords format. Though I am a bit tied up with Lucy at the moment - ha ha.

If I do publish, I would write a forward about the inspiration for the story.

Anyone out there think it sounds a good idea?

Best wishes


Lucy Harlow - TV Torment

Hi folks,

The  Lucy story is going remarkably well. Today, after work, I typed 1360 words. The writing was done yesterday in pencil. Total today and yesterday 1640 and this represents Chapter 3. The total so far is 4280 words. So it's probably going to be 12 - 15 k in extent. Most importantly it is a good murder mystery. Watch this space.

I was going to do more commentary on the characters of The Scorpian Visitant, but time does not permit today.

However, I  have news soon of an interesting offer concerningThe Scorpian Visitant. I will announce it tomorrow or Friday and it will last over the weekend.

Best wishes


Swich update

I am truly staggered by the response to this little story. It's free so get your copy from Smashwords


Best wishes


Monday, 13 February 2012

Monday - Lucy

I hope to resume my commentary on the characters of The Scorpian Visitant tomorrow. But time does not permit today.

Today I feel very humble at the response I have had to 'Switch' and sincerely offer my thanks to all those who have taken the trouble to download.

Monday has seen me back in the day job 8 till 4. On arriving home, I started Ch. 2 of the second Lucy Harlow story 'TV Torment'.

The way I write is by propelling pencil on the white lined paper of a wire bound book. I choose a pencil that doesn't break continually for pressure. Once I've written the scene, I ten finger type it onto the hard drive of one of my Dell laptops. I currently have a new Inspiron with core I3 processor, 3 Gb ram, 320 Gb hard drive, and an older less specced Inpiron 1525. I am using the new one now, but the keyboard took a bit of getting used to after four years or so on the 1525. Once written I revise the scene twice and then leave it. I've done 1000 words tonight, which I am comfortable with. I get a bit suspicious when I do an awful lot of words. Words are like babies they only come into the world when they are ready. In short, you can move a story on with 500 - 1000 words a day.

I was going to save this for another day. But now I'm typing I'll let you in on it.

TV Torment is based upon an experience I didn't have. My parents, younger brother, and I spent a week's holiday one July in the North Wales resort of Llandudno. It was a wretched week, the weather being cold, wet and windy throughout. The holiday flat  we stayed in was the rear half of a semi detached house under the Great Orme - a big seaside cliff. The front of the house was occupied by the landlady - a widow of about sixty. The lady greeted us with a rather startled look, that seemed to say 'do you really want to come in.' It was lashing down so we were only too glad to cross her threshold. Once inside, we were shown to a flat with fittings and furnishings from a bygone age, possibly from when our landlady was a young bride. There were two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, and downstairs a kitchen and TV lounge with a folding bed. The landlady, who occupied the front of the house, seemed very keen for one of us to occupy the folding bed. But my mother would not hear of it.

We got on with our holiday. The wind howled around the Great Orme outside our flat. The small window in our bathroom did not have a catch and clacked constantly in the wind, the din filling the house. My father closed the door in the lounge to shut out the racket as we gathered around the black and white TV at around nine in the evenings, after braving the blustery seaside town.

One evening, while the steely haired newsreader was delivering the nine o'clock news my father turned to my mother and said 'did your hear that?' My mother nodded and said, 'the heavy breathing?' They both looked hard at the TV screen and saw no respiratory distress from the healthy fifty something gent reading the news. But my parents say to this day that the sound of laboured breathing relentlessly issued from the TV - but only during the news bulletin. They insist the landlady knew the lounge was haunted with the spirit of her husband and perhaps she wanted someone to keep him company at night.

Me? I heard absolutely nothing, except the news and the wretched bathroom window clacking in the wind.

But the incident gave me the idea for the second Lucy Harlow tale, which is about our heroine solving the murder of several young women in Cambridgeshire.

Regards and best wishes


Sunday, 12 February 2012

Switch - thanks

Many thanks to all who have downloaded my free e-book from Smashwords. I really appreciate you taking the time to read the story. Thanks too to my reviewer. The feedback is valuable.

I have another story which I will look at publishing free of charge. Like Switch, this story has remained in its folder for a number of years. Naturally, I will have to revisit it again to see if it worth publishing.

My main efforts now are going to focussed on two new small ebooks. These are crime stories featuring my young sleuth Lucy Harlow. I intend to make the first one free of charge, and possibly the second too. Funnily enough I intend to write the second first and then backtrack into the first. Both plots are done, but the second is more uppermost in my mind and is possibly a lengthier tale than the first, which introduces the character Lucy.

If Lucy is well received, I will endeavour to produce something longer for publication this year.

Many thanks again and best wishes,


Saturday, 11 February 2012

Switch Published Free!


Hi folks,

I've just published Switch free of charge on Smashwords (click on the above link).

Switch is a humorous romantic mystery with a nasty (though not too nasty) twist in the tail.

The story is just short of 3000 words and was written about 10 years ago and has remained in a folder in my bedroom until recently. When I wrote this I was thinking about a series that ITV used to screen in the UK a number of years ago now. The show was called Tales of the Unexpected and went out quite late in the evening. The episodes were all of about 5 minutes duration, had mysterious quality and usually some unexpected twist at the end.

Hence I was inspired to write Switch, where a simple mix-up at jeweller's counter has unexpected consequences for the romantic fortunes of a pair of identical twin brothers.

I hope you can afford a short while of your time to read the story. And as ever I hope you enjoy.

Best wishes


Friday, 10 February 2012

Robbie's first encounter with Jade Finn

Hi folks,

Today I introduce the enigmatic Jade Finn. The girl who throws a spanner in the works of Robbie and Louise's love life and seemingly the quest for the black prism too.

Here's Robbie as he first sees her from the hill named Tor Capella, which overlooks Jade's back yard. Robbie is staking out Jade's property with a view to robbing it for the money and clothes he and Louise will need to survive in Oakwood.

Suddenly a tall girl appeared, struggling from the outhouse with a wicker basket full of washing. Robbie eased back a little from the hawthorn to watch her. Neither Tudor nor savage, wearing an emerald green dress to the calf, she was svelte with lovely dark-brown hair hanging about her shoulders in loose coils. She set down the basket, took out a white linen petticoat and pegged it to the line.

She held the next peg to be used in her lips, and Robbie watched her put out a baggy white shirt, a sleeveless garment similar to a waistcoat in maroon, a pair of knee breeches to match, and another petticoat. Her face was light-brown, broad at the cheekbone, vaguely exotic, and very attractive if not beautiful, and her long golden earrings glinted within her glorious locks as her head moved with the work. And yet, despite all this charm, which quite frankly had caused Robbie’s mind to wander from the job at hand, her big dark eyes were sullen and she seemed bored hanging out her washing, for she’d pause before dipping into the basket as if wishing the next item would be the last. Bloke trouble, speculated the distracted observer – but what sort of mug would get shut of a girl like that?

‘Jade!’ a woman’s voice called shrilly.

The girl turned her head towards the open portal, ‘Yes mother?’ Her voice was not high, but a little husky.

‘Have you taken out the pie?’

‘Just a moment.’

The girl turned on her heels and swiftly entered the house. Robbie was left with a slight gutted sensation as if short changed. Then he became aware of the smell of good cooking, of hot pastry, luscious beef stew and lashings of thick gravy, all this emanating from the open kitchen door to rise up and jab its savoury fingers into his flared nostrils. He realised then that he had not eaten since teatime yesterday. And the gutted feeling widened alarmingly to a horrible ache in the pit of his stomach.

He gazed into town to take his mind of it and thought about the girl and her situation. About nineteen or twenty, still at home with her mum – waistcoat and breeches probably her dad’s. People were emerging from alleys on the spine of the high street with a spontaneity that suggested attendance at a mass event. Like the girl, the women wore colourful dresses under their shoulder cloaks, some of the older ones covering their heads with scarves or bonnets. Across the way, a lady wearing a pinafore over a long matronly dress appeared at her front door to wave off her husband, who wore a cloak and tall hat. Though typical attire, long coats appeared equally popular among the gents, as were wide-brimmed hats, and all manner of tunics, even the silk doublet. Children now played happily, dancing noisily through the litter in the high street, whirling their colours in a riot of vivid dresses and two-piece suits. And the appearance of a few handcarts here and there, pushed by labouring types dressed not too differently from Robbie, signalled that the clean-up operation had begun.

Suddenly a crow startled Robbie. It flew close over his head beating its wings violently. He was always a bit frightened of birds and foolishly let his eyes follow the crow’s bobbing flight over the roofs of the town, over the huge temple and beyond, until it was but a speck in the blue sky above the pastures sloping to the silver river.

When his gaze returned to the yard below, the girl had returned. She was pegging out a crimson dress, a colour seemingly popular among the women in the high street. In design it was similar to the green dress she was wearing, with a chain of golden oak leaves around the hem and square neckline. But, for some reason, the girl looked a whole lot happier now and hummed a little tune as she put out the rest of the washing with newfound alacrity. Robbie’s eyes roved the red highlights in her dark hair, the golden earrings gleaming within those curls, her bare ankles and crimson toenails peeping from her flat sandals.

Without warning, she raised her chin and looked Robbie straight in the eye. A shock of adrenaline surged through him, and instantly he realised she had seen him when he had been gawping after the bird. But she was smiling wonderfully and, unless he was very much mistaken, though this was entirely possible given his limited experience, was giving him the glad eye. Quite involuntarily he smiled back at her, tingling in awe of the pleasure that now sparkled in her big dark eyes.

‘Jade, we must be on our way now,’ the shrill voice called from inside the house.

‘Coming, mother.’

The girl wiggled her fingers at Robbie in a little gesture of goodbye, and then took her basket towards the house. At the door, she stopped and gave him a rather wistful look. Her eyes were soft and gentle, and he had to swallow hard to avoid choking. Then she was gone. The door shut tightly and the bolts clattered home.

Later that day, when the house is only occupied by Jade's brother Jason, Robbie fires the barn next to the property. Jason is drawn out to the fire and leaves the back door open. Robbie steals money, food and the clothes off the line, including Jade's red dress. The dress, which is a little tight on Louise, proves to be a fatal mistake as we shall see in the next blog.

Best wishes


Thursday, 9 February 2012

Louise and Robbie's affair

On their first full day in Oakwood, after Robbie had returned from the town with money, clothes and food for him and Louise, Robbie kissed Louise clumsily. The kiss was a reaction, a need for human contact, when Robbie got frightened about what might happen to him if his arson and theft from a house in the prosperous north end of town was uncovered. The next day Robbie and Louise go into town and, after exploring, decide to have something to eat in a cafe, Hogg's Eatery. Here's how the physical attaction betwen the two grows...

Robbie carried over the holdall and sat down rather slowly opposite Louise.

‘What’s the matter?’

‘Didn’t have the foggiest what he was going on about, but he seems to think we’re foreigners.’

‘Well we are,’ said Louise, ‘and as long as he doesn’t think we are from another planet…’

Robbie shook his head, ‘No. Nothing like that. We’re Shaulan apparently.’

‘Hence that boy’s insult?’

‘We’re all friends now it seems.’

‘Even better,’ she said.

‘Yeah, but also did you hear the bit about Digbone’s daughter?’

Louise nodded toward the portrait, ‘She’s the ruler of this country.’

‘Okay, but don’t you think Morgan should have let us know?’

‘You can’t expect him to have told us everything about the place.’

Robbie looked at Louise askance, ‘It’s hardly an unimportant detail.’

‘That’s probably precisely what it is - something that we don’t need to know to complete our quest for the black prism.’

‘Oh, I’m not so sure, Lou. There’s something fishy about it.’

‘Listen,’ said Louise, ‘Morgan Digbone can’t travel here because he’s ill. He’s told you that much. And everything else has gone pretty much to plan hasn’t it, love?’ She reached across the table and gently placed her right hand on Robbie’s.

Robbie gazed at the long fingers wrapped around his broad square fist, enjoying the comfort and reassurance of her touch. ‘The café guy thinks we’re married,’ he said incredulously.

Louise gave Robbie a cool calculating look, ‘It might be an opportunity, love.’

‘You what?’

‘It would be good cover – I mean you can hardly let me stay in a room of my own - now can you?’

‘Well…I er…I er…,’ said Robbie, not knowing quite what to make of her. She was looking at him intensely now, a strange light in her china blue eyes, the kind of yearning he had seen, but had disbelieved, in the parlour of Wood Road on his birthday, when she had sat close and invited him to open her card in which she had put the unexpectedly large sum of two pounds. It could only be innocent, but either way he felt both astounded and inadequate. ‘You serious?’

‘Yes, entirely,’ she said primly.

He swallowed hard, glancing anxiously to the slim back of Hogg turning the bacon in the frying pan.

‘Robbie, I wouldn’t feel safe without you by my side,’ she said, smiling reassuringly.

‘Well…I…suppose…you wouldn’t.’

She squeezed his hand tight and gazed earnestly into his eyes, ‘Besides, we’d attract unwanted attention if we asked for separate rooms.’

Her pale cheeks were beginning to gently colour, and Robbie took this to be embarrassment associated with the touchy side of her perfectly reasonable request. Besides, she’d never to be mad enough to let anything happen between them, even more so after the awful hash he’d made of the kiss yesterday. There was nothing unusual about her wanting to room with a friend in this strange place, ‘Okay then.’

‘Ahem – he’s coming,’ she said, switching her eyes toward the bar servery and quickly back to Robbie.

As Hogg approached with a platter, on which much bacon was crammed between slices of bread as thick as doorstops, Louise let her hand linger on Robbie’s. However, she kept her left hand under the table and, since this was hardly appropriate to receiving their order, Robbie got the strong impression she was doing it deliberately. ‘Ah,’ she said, greeting Hogg, who smiled ruefully at the locked hands that were preventing him setting the tray down. Louise wasn’t in a hurry, and let her eyes feast greedily for a moment on the food. ‘Those sandwiches look delicious,’ she said.

‘Well you’ve certainly brought a fine day with you,’ said Hogg setting down the tray on the next table. By way of confirming the weather, he stood facing the window and gazed out into the square, which was growing busier by the minute as the bright morning progressed.

‘It’s a beautiful late autumn day,’ said Louise.

‘Ye-ess,’ said Hogg, giving her his lopsided smile, ‘’ave you been married long, my dear?’

‘Only a few weeks – we are on our honeymoon.’

Robbie cleared his throat.

‘As you’ve only jus’ arrived, ’spect you’ll be looking for somewhere to stay?’

‘Why, yes – can you recommend anywhere?’ she said.

‘Depends on what you wan’ to pay.’

‘Not very much,’ Robbie jumped in, adding hastily, ‘we’ve not got a lot of money, that is – are there any lodging houses?’

Hogg tilted his head to one side, his cunning grey eyes twinkling at Louise, ‘Oh, some of those can be a bit rough – now Dave at the Plough is quite reasonable.’

‘Perhaps we could have a look later, Robbie?’

Louise ate like a horse, ravenous, giggling, her eyes always on Robbie’s, pushing the crumbs that stuck to her lips into her mouth, shrugging her shoulders stiffly, finger on her lips as she giggled some more again.

For his part, Robbie held his sandwich firmly, unable to sink his incisors into the bread and meat. His heart raced. He felt faint, and at the same time elated, as if something terrific and powerful, something uncontrollable, was going to happen. It was like one of his fires kindling towards the point where it had its own wild destructive life beyond his control. ‘Eat up, darling,’ she said.

‘I can’t, Lou…I’m not hungry no more.’

‘You need to keep body and soul together.’

‘Can’t,’ he gasped. ‘I’ll have a scone after.’

‘Pass it over here,’ she said, nodding to the sandwich gripped between his fingers, ‘We shouldn’t waste it.’

He gave it to her. Her hand brushing his had an electric tingle. He gawped at her feeding on the bacon and bread and grease. He wanted to stay in this mad state for ever, teetering on the very edge of the abyss. He was scared after his plunge there’d be the rocky bottom.

Hogg was on his way again with a tray of scones, pats of butter and a pewter pot of tea with two cups. Louise’s left hand darted under the rim of the table. Now Robbie knew something was going on.

‘With folk leaving town after the celebrations, should imagine Dave’ll be able to put you up,’ said Hogg, setting down the tray and taking up the one on which he had delivered the sandwiches, ‘jus’ cut across to the west side of the square and out into…Deneb Alley….’ Opposite the window a cart had drawn up. A couple of strong men jumped down, and immediately began decanting oak wine barrels, rolling them to a pitch that was being erected nearby. Hogg looked toward the men curiously, with a pained expression of sympathy on his face, ‘Terrible business,’ he said under his breath, then brightening immediately before his young guests, whose recent arrival meant they could have no inkling of what was on his mind, continued with his directions, ‘Yes, follow through Deneb alley, turn lef’ into Tarazed Road, carry on until you come to a crossroads, then turn righ’ into Altair Street, go straigh’ ahead over the next intersection with Aquila Road and into Delphinus Street. The Plough’s about halfway down there on the lef’. Can’t miss it.’

‘’Sounds straightforward enough,’ said Louise smiling.

But Robbie detected there was something awkward about her smile, as if she was unsettled by the continuing presence of Hogg.

‘It’s very reasonable,’ said the café owner.

‘I’m sure it is,’ said Louise tersely.

‘Can I get you anythin’ else, Missis…’

‘No, no, that’ll be all.’

Hogg took the hint and beat a retreat to his servery.

‘What’s got into you?’ said Robbie.

‘Cut me a scone, please,’ she said.

‘Have you lost your hands?’ said Robbie, slicing through a scone. ‘Butter, Madam?’

Louise nodded. ‘I’m going to need a wedding ring,’ she whispered, giving Hogg a sly glance.

‘A what?’ Evasively, Robbie reached for the teapot and, as he did so, found salvation in the slip of yellow paper peeping from under a saucer. He unfolded the bill, ‘I mean…a ring sounds expensive…Lou…’

‘Well, I’m going to need one if I going to be your wife.’

Pretend wife don’t you mean, thought Robbie, keeping his eyes away from her by examining the bill in ridiculous detail.

‘How much is it, love?’

‘Six Sunshillings.’

‘They get married young here, Robbie. When we were crossing the square, I saw a girl a year or so younger than me wearing a ring on her wedding finger.’

‘We have to be careful with the cash, Lou.’ The hunger had returned and he decided to eat his scone.

‘All the money in the world will do us no good if our cover is blown.’

‘I don’t see why being married makes us any less suspicious?’

‘Robbie,’ said Louise, her eyes wide, ‘honeymoon couples hardly go about burning down farms.’

‘Huh? Oh, I suppose not.’

‘Besides, I wouldn’t feel comfortable…you know…if you won’t make that little commitment to me.’

Robbie took her in. She was a beauty, a cool beauty with platinum hair shining in the light of the window, all down and arrayed on the shoulders of her cloak. Her cheeks were less coloured now, and his eyes wandered her pale complexion, roving the light smattering of freckles extending from her nose. She leant over and wrapped her long fingers around his hand. Once more he teetered over the trapdoor of her glittering eyes. ‘I’ll...I’ll get you a ring,’ he said, fighting against his heaving breath.

Time stood still while they gazed into each other’s eyes. At length, Robbie started to think they ought to be going. Reluctantly, his eyes drifted away to search the walls for a clock.

‘Don’t worry, darling,’ said Louise, seeing his anxiety return, ‘we’ll be just fine.’

‘There’s no damn clock,’ said Robbie in a low voice, glancing at Hogg, who was standing behind his servery, his head tilted to one side, his craggy face written with his knowing lopsided grin. ‘Come to think of it, there was none in town either.’

‘Maybe they’ve not invented it yet,’ said Louise with a giggle.

Robbie glared at her in horror, ‘You better keep your wristwatch out of sight then.’

‘If they haven’t invented the timepiece – how will they know what it is?’ she said cockily.

‘And there’s you worried about not wearing a ring?’ he snapped.

‘I’ll wear that as a symbol of…our…l…little… arrangement…’

What, to share a room? he thought. He smiled bemusedly, ‘Oh, I’m sorry for biting your head off, Lou.’

She took her hand off his and fiddled a little under the table. ‘There, the watch is in my pocket. What’s the matter now, love?’ she said, as her eyes returned to him. He was staring out the window and, as he did so, all colour seemed to drain from his fresh face.

‘We really ought to be going now,’ said Robbie, hastily producing a few silver coins, which he plonked down on the tray. He pulled the hood up and over his forehead. ‘Cover your head too.’

Louise looked out the window in bewilderment. The wine stall was busy now with trade in full swing. Folk crowded around the pitch, and four people filled skins from the barrels at the rear of the stall, bringing them to the customers waiting three deep at the counter. It was all pretty normal, then again, unlike Robbie, she didn’t recognise one of those serving: a tall girl with a light-brown face and copious dark hair, which flowed in ringlets upon the shoulders of her fine emerald green cloak. Louise reached under the table and squeezed Robbie’s knee, ‘Relax, my darling, nothing’s going to happen, except that we are going to have a good time. We’ll get that black prism and then be off back to Maldervale.’

Robbie nodded feebly.

‘Now then, I saw a jeweller’s stall earlier,’ she said. ‘It’s just over on the west side…but first we’ll need…’

Robbie and Louise's relationship is consumated that evening in an attic bedroom of the Plough Inn. But, Robbie can't come to grips with Louise's feelings for him. He always remains suspicious and thinks their affair will end at any time. Perhaps that's the real reason why he goes off with the enigmatic Jade Finn. We will meet Jade, a central character in this epic fantasy, in the next post. However, she has already featured in this scene. She's the girl on the wine stall, a victim of arson and theft, courtesy of Robbie Higgins.

Regards and best wishes


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Robbie's Love Life (1)

We’ve been with Louise for the last couple of posts and so its time to go with Robbie again.

It’s fair to say that seventeen years old Robbie is going through his sexual awakening. However, his clinging to his old habits of fire starting could well be an outpouring of his frustration at lack of success with the girls. The last thing on Robbie’s mind as he walks around Maldervale market in Chapter One is a love affair with his second cousin snobby Louise. Nevertheless, he is cheeky enough to squeeze her irreverently around the waist just before stealing the prism from the junk stall. Robbie’s real infatuation at this point in the story is with Louise’s friend Rachel Lewington, a curvy dark haired girl.

However on arrival in medieval Oakwood, Robbie finds a strange change in Louise’s attitude towards him. And after spending their first night together on the floor of a woodman’s shed, Robbie’s interest in Louise starts to grow. Here’s Robbie running through the forest on his way to explore the town...

Morning sunshine fanned through the frosty trees caressing their fallen leaves with warming fingers of gold. Robbie ran along the cart track, bursts of misty breath chugging from his ruddy face. He wore a battered brown leather tunic and a pair of hobnailed boots he had found in the shed. Of his own clothes, only the legs of his black hipsters tucked into the boots were visible. He hoped Louise wouldn’t do anything stupid when she woke. She’d been fantastic with him since they got here, but whether that would stretch to obeying his order, scribbled on the back of a chocolate wrapper, to stay put was probably a different matter. If anything was to burst the bubble of her marvellous mood then this was it. But there was nothing else for it. Gut feeling told him she’d never fit in here dressed up for a shindig in Maldervale. Moreover, she’d surely kick up a fuss about what he had in mind to do. And that could be fatal. So he’d left her curled up on the floor of the shed, eyes closed, platinum hair a mess, pearly teeth glimpsed between parted lips, breathing gently.

He’d never seen her sleeping before, or more likely never taken any notice, but it was a sight that had amazed him almost as much as her change of attitude towards him. Now he was running blindly with visions of her face covering his eyes. Her pale complexion, lightly freckled from nose to cheeks, was as flawless as a child’s. Slumber too made her appear younger. He’d always thought she looked a lot older than him, much more than the seven months that actually separated them, but not now. He figured the illusion must have been down to her being so tall. And he didn’t mind that either. He’d even taken a fancy to her nose, always big and bumpy when he had been ridiculing her. But he now agreed with everybody else that the bump on the bridge made it look even better. Seen in this fantastic new light her nose, and she, had character for sure, and he wasn’t talking about the harsh one that had glowered down on his incendiary antics in Maldervale. He also found it incredible she could sleep so soundly in this strange place.

Robbie began to think what would happen if he made a pass at her. The delight on her lovely face, his expert move to seal it with a lingering kiss - clever, snooty, fabulous Louise happy to be his girl? ‘Now don’t be such a bloody fool,’ he hissed. Even if you did have the guts to try it on, she’d put you down a flash. She’d laugh her silver head off. “You?” she’d say, (and imagining her prodding a long finger at her heart) “With me? - Haw haw haw”. You’d make a right Charlie of yourself, Robbie lad. Besides she’s your cousin - albeit a very distant one…Purely out of interest, I wonder if we are so far distant as not to matter…

He was really running, so distracted that he didn’t notice the dramatic thinning of the trees. Too late: like a hare escaping the shot only to be confronted by another gunman barring his way, he dug in his heels and skidded to a halt. The town was in full view. ‘Idiot’, he gasped, scrambling for the cover of a hazel tree.

In the next post we'll see an excerpt from a scene in an Oakwood cafe, in which Robbie and Louise decide to eat after going into town. But there's more going on between our couple than scoffing bacon and scones, namely the conversation that leads them to bed in the Plough Inn.

Regards and best wishes


Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Louise's Nasty Temper

Here's Louise reacting to Robbie on his return from 'exploring' medieval Oakwood alone.

With a spring in his step Robbie arrived back at the twin stacks of drying timber guarding the track into the clearing. It was a last-second decision to pull up, rather than go straight over to the shed where he and Louise had spent last night. Better safe than sorry, he thought, peering around the left hand array of beams. All appeared perfectly normal: the shed door was shut and the chimney issued no smoke. Though he hadn’t left explicit instructions about the stove, he expected Louise would have the sense not signal her presence by stoking up the fire. Robbie picked up his holdall, about to set off on the short walk over. Suddenly his head jerked right back.

A strong hand gripped his jaw and arched his throat back like a banana. He dropped the bag, fearing that his head was about to be wrenched off. Then he felt something cold, something sharp against his throat. In terror his eyes looked down to glimpse a gleaming blade. It was hopeless. He couldn’t move a muscle such was the power of the hold. Any second now he expected the knife would be drawn across his throat and he would drop to the leaf mulch to gasp out his last. It had been a nice try. But Morgan was crazy or too desperate for words if he thought their mission was ever going to work.

Robbie was on the point of fainting when a voice came distantly from behind him, ‘You ought to take more care, Robbie.’ It was a young woman that spoke – a girl even. But he was beyond caring that her voice was vaguely familiar. He just wanted to get the painful bit over with. Without warning he was propelled forward to thud against the stack of timber beams. He sank to his knees and gasped for air. Then the awful realisation faded in that his executor was perhaps not so committed to the quick end he had hoped for. Maybe they wanted a bit of fun first. Immersed in horror he turned to face his nemesis.

Tall Louise stood on the cart track, her shining hair upon the shoulders of her royal blue coat. Her pale eyes blazed at him, the angry light given full force by the vicious blade in her right hand.


‘You stink of smoke, Robbie,’ she said, her bitter gaze unrelenting. ‘Where there’s smoke there’s fire. And where there’s fire - there’s you.’

‘Only a little trifle, Lou,’ he said, rubbing his throat, not sure quite what to make of her, ‘It’ll be out by now.’

Ah, our snooty goody goody Louise likes playing with knives - where did that come from?

Here's Louise following Robbie's disappearance with a local girl Jade Finn. It a good job for the girl's mother, Leda Finn that Louise was not carrying her knife that evening. The scene takes place in an Oakwood inn...

Louise didn’t know where to put herself. Though she had accepted back in Leda’s kitchen that there was a high probability, for whatever reason, that Robbie had been with Jade, she was devastated to have it shouted out loud before a hundred smiling faces, as if some deficiency on her part had led him to wander. But the assault on her dignity by all those leering eyes would permit no tears. She fought back. ‘It would appear your daughter is no angel, Mrs Finn. It can only be she who has led him astray.’

‘You loose-mouthed Shaulan floozy,’ cried Leda, making a dart at Louise, only to be caught up short by the strong arms of Jason.

‘Me a floozy?’ scoffed Louise, pointing at her heart. ‘Everyone here knows your daughter is the town bike.’

‘Bike?’ said Leda, looking nonplussed amidst her anger.

‘It’s Shaulan for whore,’ screamed Louise. And it was a scream – a piercing shriek that blasted away those nearest to her. She clenched her teeth to stop more coming out. But it seemed to antagonise the terrible rage inside her, provoking it to action. She reached inside her coat for her woodman’s knife. If she had not left it at Tejat Road, starting with Leda and her son, who was looking quite timid behind his mother, she’d have run amok. In short, she wanted to cut Leda’s scrolled head off. Louise didn’t even know herself anymore.

‘Now, now,’ said Judith, her calm tones transcending all the bother, ‘let us not be apportioning blame.’

By now Leda was weeping against Jason’s shoulder. He seemed take courage and levelled his dark eyes, meeting Louise’s furious glare. ‘I’ll cut him in pieces if I catch up with him,’ he said.

‘You’ll do no such thing,’ said Louise. She thought Jason all talk. She pointed at him menacingly, to which Jason lowered his eyes. ‘That particular pleasure will be mine, and mine alone,’ she raged, ‘And, I’ll do your sister in the bargain.’ Louise’s veins and arteries were boiling with a lust for violence. Her temper demanded blood.

‘None of this is doing any good,’ said Judith, looking fearful, ‘least of all clearing up where Robbie and Jade might be.’

Our good girl gone bad. Louise, a fully grown seventeen year old athletic woman has no scruples about killing in The Scorpian Visitant. All this pointing to her true identity...

Tomorrow, I'll show you a little of Louise's love life and her infatuation with Robbie Higgins.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Louise Carlton

Louise is the central character in The Scorpian Visitant and its greatest mystery. Louise only discovers her true identity late in the penultimate chapter of the book.

The book opens with Louise and her cousin Robbie Higgins in Maldervale market. Louise is an orphan having lost her parents in a car crash three years ago when she was fourteen.  Her parents were relatively prosperous, her father running his own plumbing business. On the demise of her parents Louise came to live with her guardian, her only surviving relative, her second cousin Sue Higgins, Robbie's mother. Louise being a well brought up and quite a snooty girl saw this as a big social come down and can't wait to get away to university next October. Moreover, Robbie's incendiary activities represent at best a severe embarrassment to Louise, at worst the destruction of her reputation.

Robbie dislikes Louise. Here's what happens in Maldervale market when Robbie winds Louise up firstly over her prospective boyfriend's father, a local doctor, and then more venomously the death of her parents.

Their progress was halted by a particularly large gathering before a clothes stall. There was news of a consignment of sodden jeans and flannelette pyjamas which had survived a warehouse inferno courtesy of a drenching by the fire brigade. The fat ruddy stallholder stood on a crate and presided over the huddle. Holding aloft a pair of blue jeans in their plastic bag, which still dripped dirty water, he bawled, ‘I’m not asking for five bob.’

‘What do you mean about Graham’s father?’ said Louise, tugging back Robbie, who was trying to move off again.

‘Not asking three bob,’ the raucous voice shouted from the stall.

‘Louise, only last week poor Mr Lynton died at his hands - yet another fishy death.’

‘But he was old.’

‘I’ll grant you that. But at fifty-eight he might have expected a few more years. Don’t you think?’

‘Mr Lynton had worked with toxic stuff all his life and smoked eighty a day. He was a fitter in Ledbetter’s - just like you are learning to be, Robbie - breaking open pipes full of poisonous chemicals, not to mention the noxious waste products. He died at home - do you hear me?’

‘If you say so.’

Louise furrowed her brow, ‘In the bargain he’d been shot in the war. His nerves were bad too. And, he liked to drink. Graham’s dad is a professional, just like my father was. Do you hear me Robbie?’

‘Your dad was a plumber.’

‘He had his own business - he didn’t have to get his hands dirty - we were well off.’

‘That so?’ said Robbie, a twisted smile coming to his wide mouth of small teeth. ‘Then why didn’t he pay for a taxi home from that New Year’s bash?’

The moment the words left him, he was sorry. Not for her, but for the cruel look she was giving him. He found her pale eyes truly terrible at times like these, wicked yet wise, other-worldly even. Right then, if he could have sunk through the tarmac floor to a burning hell he would have done so.

‘How dare you.’

‘I’m sorry…Lou.’

Louise's dark side is hinted at here, and in another post later this week I will develop this.

Louise and Robbie become lovers on the second night of their mission to medieval Oakwood, and a further post will show the beginnings of this unlikely affair.

Regards and best wishes


Sunday, 5 February 2012

Eastern Rebels

Hi folks,

One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist. Here's the rebels, Gloria's problem in the east.

Two men sat at the head of a long table in an upper room. The windows faced southwards and three pools of wintry sunshine spilled to the highly polished surface of the table. Other than that central piece of furniture the room was dingy, with dirty fissures veining the whitewashed walls and sloping beamed ceiling. Behind the men a claret flag was pinned to the wall, its yellow emblem being an arc of seven stars above a pair of crossed swords.

The first man had some eastern blood and his round face was smooth and sallow. Despite a pair of worried dark eyes that roamed beneath a cap of silky black hair, he looked younger than his forty years. And fit too, for within his leather fighting coat George Pictor kept a broad and muscular body.

‘John, I’ll grant you we could cause some trouble with that gunpowder in the short term, but there is not enough for a concerted bombing campaign,’ said George, turning a couple of leaves on the pile of papers before him. ‘And it goes without saying that we have no prospect of getting cannon and shot.’

John Cygnus glared at the leader of the Mizar Liberation Army with a sparkling blue eye that missed as little as its blind white companion saw. Firmly in the middle years, tall and spindly, he was wrapped in a black greatcoat. His sparse grey hair was tied back in a single tatty knot, and dirt filled his fingernails and the long creases in his rubbery jowls.

‘Well it’s true,’ said George, stealing a timid glance at Cygnus. ‘For the sake of the Holy Sun why don’t you wear your eye patch?’

‘Just imagine what’s happening right now on the Sanin,’ said Cygnus, ignoring his comrade’s disgust at his blinded eye, ‘Gloria Digbone will not want to risk another damaging raid on an outlying arsenal.’ He stopped and waited for a reaction from George with the hanging open-mouthed expectation of a dog awaiting a treat.

‘Ack, even if she did gather all her gunpowder and take it to the Castle it would be far too risky to make an attempt on it.’

‘Look George, you’re not going to stop Gloria coming east this spring – our only hope would be if she had no powder for those guns.’

‘Or perhaps, we don’t get drawn into the set-piece battle she craves?’ said George. ‘We employ the usual hit and run tactics. Wear them down.’

‘What if Gloria then decides to turn her artillery on our towns?’

‘Then we will fight her in the rubble,’ said George doggedly. He got up and went to the fireplace, prodding the blistered log into action, ‘In any case, John, how can you be so sure that Mistress Digbone has no capacity to make more gunpowder?’

‘There are the rumours for a start. Before Gloria’s father went away, the few workers that were involved in the project are said to have mysteriously disappeared. Morgan is a cunning and devious man. He trusts no one. Not even his own daughter, particularly so with such a powerful secret.’

‘Humpff,’ said George.

‘You should strike while the iron is hot,’ said Cygnus. ‘Take the chance to rid the world of this menace once and for all.’

‘Then again, there’s no guarantee that Morgan Digbone can’t come back.’

‘Nooo…but Dorada’s sources indicate that if you disregard the usual bluffing from the Castle, the reality is that Gloria’s father hasn’t been seen for many years now.’

George sat back down and extracted another paper, letting his eyes linger on it, before sighing dejectedly, ‘I suppose Morgan reckons he doesn’t have to return, since he left a mad and powerless King behind him in the Seat of the Iron Realm.’

‘George, we all know the Protectorate of Mizar went with King Amenor’s sanity. But that was sixteen years ago. We’ve been doing all right on our own, especially lately.’

‘I’d stand to lose the best fighters from the Seven Towns, not to mention many of our Izarian mercenaries, in any attempt on the Castle – tell me, what would that do for our cause?’

‘Listen George,’ said the old terrorist, ‘if Gloria settles her differences with Shaula then you’ll have to act against that consolidated arsenal.’

‘Queen Ellen bears grudges in perpetuity,’ argued the leader of the MLA, ‘it’ll be no different with Gloria.’

‘Maybe,’ said Cygnus. ‘But equally, you couldn’t just stand by and let those Shaulan animals loose in our towns. You’d have to go out and confront them.’

Oh, those rebels.

Best wishes and regards


Saturday, 4 February 2012

Hi, Saturday brings freezing rain and so time to work on my Lucy Harlow stories, these are two murder mysteries that the feisty Lucy hones her detective skills upon. I started with the second one - TV Torment -  with 760 words, and then wrote the opening paragraph of the first story - Oxygen Restriction - for which I have the entire plot. The second story follows the first, and so by writing the beginning of TV Torment we have the complete resolution of Oxygen Restriction. Hence I expect to make significant progress on OR over the weekend. I intend to make these two crime stories free on Smashwords and Amazon to showcase my work.

Regards and Best wishes


Thursday, 2 February 2012


Hi folks, I thought today that I'd introduce you to the arch bad guy in The Scorpian Visitant, evil sorcerer Morgan Digbone. However, Morgan is a bad guy with a difference. Unlike many present day monsters who rot in prison to ripe old age, Morgan's contracted cancer in his late fifties. Travel between Oakwood (Mizar) and Maldervale involves racing at near light speeds, and according to Einstein's theory of relativity we have time dilation, a slowing down of the traveller's time relative to their starting point. Hence Morgan is stalling the advance of his lung tumour by remaining in Maldervale. And so, his motivation for staying put and sending Robbie and Louise to get the Death Stone of Izar, the last prism in the set of power stones that will make his all powerful, and his disease irrelevant.

Here's Morgan at the chest clinic in Maldervale General Hospital.

Stripped to the waist, the old emaciated man sat on the hospital bed, a small plaster covering a vein in his arm where a blood sample had been drawn.

The doctor, who was a big sandy-haired man, withdrew a spatula from the patient’s tongue and switched off his pen light, ‘Mr Fanshaw’s notes say non-smoker – is that correct?’

‘Never in my life,’ said Morgan Digbone.

‘Hmm,’ said the Doctor, taking an ophthalmoscope. ‘Don’t look at the light - rather look up here at my forehead.’ After examining the patient’s eyes, he reached for his otoscope and carefully inspected both ears.

On leaving the Royal Army Medical Corps, Dr Frank Dunbar had recently taken up the post of consultant physician at Maldervale General. One of the first cases referred to him was a most unusual one that was causing some brows to be furrowed in the Surgery Department. Mr Fanshaw had hoped a new mind might throw some light on the matter.

‘Have you ever lived in an area built on granite,’ said the doctor, taking up his stethoscope.

‘No, I can’t say that I have.’

The doctor listened to Morgan’s heart and lungs.

‘Hmm…somewhere like the Southwest or Far North perhaps?’


‘It has been known for some homes built upon granite to have relatively high levels of the radioactive gas Radon,’ said Dunbar. With long freckled hands he began to probe the rack of ribs and the spare supporting muscles.

‘Ow,’ winced Morgan, when the doctor found a tender area on the right side just below the clavicle.

The physician smiled knowingly, ‘That’s where it is, I’m afraid.’ He then began to feel for and press the lymph nodes in the neck and armpits. ‘Hmm…no sign of anything there.’

‘Is that good?’

The doctor gave his patient a strange look and flicked over another page of the case notes, ‘You’ve been coming here for nearly fourteen years?’ he asked incredulously.

‘Yes, indeed,’ said Morgan, ‘I’m not getting any better though. This damn cough is terrible at times -’

‘Oh, I’ll grant you are far from a well man – but – can you just lie down, please?’

The doctor tapped and pressed on his patient’s hollow belly. Finding no evidence of fluid build up or enlarged liver, he knew the examination of the lymph nodes in the groin was going to be unremarkable. A professional displeasure began to arise in him: he had not found what he had expected and was just as confounded as Fanshaw, his senior colleague in Surgery, whose competence he had inwardly questioned when first briefed about this case. ‘Have you ever worked with asbestos?’

‘I have come across it from time to time in the scrap yard.’

‘That could have been it. But then again, it says here that until only a couple years before diagnosis your background had been entirely rural?’

‘All fresh air and fields.’

‘Hmm…could you get on the scales for me?’

Morgan rose and obliged.

‘Eight stone two – same as last time.’

Just then there was a quiet knock on the door and a pretty dark haired nurse entered. She wore a red and white striped blouse and a spotless white pinafore. Her waist was pinched tightly with a broad black belt, which accentuated her figure.

Morgan winked at her, and she smiled back while depositing two large envelopes and a smaller brown one on the desk. The doctor immediately opened the latter. ‘Your blood count is fine, Mr Digbone,’ he said, as the nurse left the room, then under his breath added, ‘nothing short of a blooming miracle after so long.’

Dunbar opened the large envelopes, withdrew two X-ray plates and fixed them to the viewing screens. He turned on the light to reveal a white shadow on the right lung in both plates, ‘Humpff – adenocarcinoma for sure – non-small cell cancer arising in the mucous glands. The left hand plate was taken for diagnosis, the one on the right was taken today – incredibly they are identical.’

Morgan buttoned up his shirt, spluttered and then swallowed the sputum.

The doctor looked over from the desk and took up a prescription pad, ‘Oh, yes, you have a small infection for which I’ll give you some antibiotics – but as for the tumour…well…it appears to be frozen in time.’

You can sample this and and the first seven chapters of The Scorpian Visitant at Smashwords.com

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Gloria Digbone

Hi, currently I am writing a series of posts in which I discuss the development of the characters in my novel, The Scorpian Visitant, an epic fantasy. We have heard from Robbie Higgins and there's more to come from him. However, today I'd like to introduce you to one of my favourite characters in the book, Gloria Digbone. Gloria is the dictator of Mizar, the land into which the main protagonists Robbie and Louise arrive. Gloria's father Morgan, the evil sorcerer, installed her as ruler before travelling to Maldervale. In the early years of her rule Morgan used to return regularly to help his daughter. At the outset of the story, Gloria has big problems and could do with her father's help. But as we shall see Morgan is unable to return from Maldervale.

Here's an excerpt from Gloria's first scene in the book. Available for free sampling at Smashwords:

Gloria Digbone was in her study high in the west wall of the keep of Sanintowne Castle. Still dressed for the field in belted green tunic and riding breeches, she sat motionless, a small neat figure, almost lost behind her great wide desk. She had short, boyish red hair and, though rising forty, her small fine features still made up a very pretty face. The problem she’d set out on the single page that occupied her desk could find no ready solution in her mind. She got up, opened the leaded window behind her chair, and looked out over the Sanin estuary while continuing to mull things over. Under plucked brows, her eyes were deepest brown, and gaze calm and flat. It was a look that she’d cultivated over the years of power, so that even her closest advisors found her inner workings quite inscrutable.

Gloria never tired of the sight of the river. Beyond the sandstone curtain wall, the steely waters lapped the jutting promontory upon which her fortress was built. The estuary glittered in the verdant arms of quiet pastures and, where the tides never reached, there were golden beaches upon which the white hulls of fishing boats rested under a leaning thicket of masts. If only momentarily, it made her feel so fortunate that her father had installed her here in the Castle as the ruler of Mizar. It had been sixteen years since he had seized power after returning from the much bigger neighbouring land to the east, the Iron Realm of Izar. After establishing her as Mistress, her father had set out for the strange new world he frequented. On this occasion, he took with him her baby half-sister with whose care Gloria had been charged, all too briefly, during his visit to the Iron Realm.

Her father, no man greater in sorcery, nor in guile or craft, obsessed as he was with the innovations of this strange new world, of course, had returned often in those first couple of years to instruct her and the state’s artisans and builders in those newly discovered ways. Each time he would stay for several weeks to launch certain carefully chosen projects, be they military or civil, all ultimately designed to intensify the grip of Gloria’s regime. But her father’s visits all too soon became less frequent, and now there had been neither sight nor sign of him for nigh on fourteen years.

In his extended absence, a rebellion had stirred in the Seven Towns in the east of the land. At first, Gloria had believed that the people there had grown jealous, largely deprived of many of the good things installed in the towns and villages of the west. But no promises or attempts to mollify them had proved to be successful. She had begun to accept that they were driven by a hatred that could not be assuaged by improvement of their lot. Historically, they looked eastwards to Izar. During the centuries in which Mizar (or Izar Minor) had been a protectorate of the Iron Realm, they had enjoyed favour and privilege among the whole populace. That had changed with her rule, triggered by a blinding spell flashed from her father’s fingertips. Gloria allowed herself a small, if malicious, smile at thoughts of a mad Izarian King left impotent within the seat of his former power, the rigid system of featly to him binding his lords to new policies whispered from behind the throne. Central among these decrees was that of non-intervention in the affairs of Mizar.

As a consequence, all the present internal difficulties could be settled by the application of brute force. But Captain Starr had raided the east last summer, being stopped by the rebels on the outskirts of the first major town, Acamar. On the way, atrocities perpetrated throughout the valley of the Eridanus River in the name of order and enlightenment had only intensified opposition. Long and messy oppression would only further galvanise the rebels’ hatred. A short and decisive battle to annihilate their means to resist would serve better to bring them to their senses. Guns and powder would do it. Starr could draw them out their Seven Towns with one final, albeit reluctantly sanctioned, campaign of brutality on the surrounding rural areas. Yet, though she had enough gunpowder to deal with the insurgents, the legacy of her father’s actions in the north, in Shaula, meant that Gloria had to keep back her precious stock as a deterrent to the unforgiving Queen Ellen.

If only Gloria’s father would return, for however briefly, her plight would surely force him into giving her the secret of gunpowder or, more precisely, how to obtain the main ingredient – nitre. Her alchemists had worked long and hard to establish the nature and proportions of the constituents. Charcoal and sulphur were easily got, but nitre was proving impossible. Every time she greeted a returning expedition on the banks of the Sanin the answer was always the same, and she was now of the firm opinion that nitre simply did not exist in her world; rather, it could only be manufactured by some invention her father had discovered in the mysterious world in which he had chosen to hide.

But time was pressing now. The terrorists of the east could not be defeated unless they were to be wasted with the very deterrent to Shaula. And if the Queen of that icy realm ever found out that Gloria had no capacity to make more gunpowder then Mizar would be at the mercy of her ravaging hoards. That was why the latest overture from Queen Ellen, laden as it was with deceit and danger, would have to be considered. That, however, would only postpone the inevitable. The best way would be for her father to return with the means of dealing with the mess he’d created. Some, even in her own elite, said Morgan was dead, but in her heart Gloria knew differently. If only she could draw him home. A gentle knock on the door broke her thoughts.

A long excerpt. However Gloria is not only looking for an answer to these problems but also is searching for love. She finds it in a most unlikely place.

Best wishes Saul.