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Thursday, 10 July 2014

X-Calibur: The Return

Today, I've hit the 20,000 word count on the first draft of my new novel X-Calibur: The Return. It's a Science Fiction story with elements of Arthurian legend. Here's the promo image!


I thought I'd post the first chapter, give people a feel for the story and tone. Please let me know what you think?




Chapter 1

4th December 2017 16:23 GMT

 Milford Sanders ran as fast as he could along the narrow corridor to the computer laboratory. He was an overweight man in his late forties, and his remaining wiry hair fluttered about his head. “Sebastian!” he yelled as he threw open the door. “Sebastian! Turn on the TV!”

 “Oh wow, Milford,” Sebastian replied. “I don't think I've ever seen you run before. What's going on?”

 Sebastian was the younger of the two, just thirty and still in reasonable shape. He smiled to himself as he watched Milford wheeze and pant as he lumbered over and switched on the television.

 “It's on every channel,” Milford continued breathlessly.

Sebastian watched as the image on the screen moved in and out of focus. It depicted what looked like an enormous black shape hovering over a city, followed by thousands of smaller shapes emerging from it. The image suddenly shifted, showing the ground retreating rapidly before cutting out altogether.

 “What the-” Sebastian began before Milford cut him off.

 “Just watch,” Milford said, wiping the sweat from his flushed brow.

 The image on the screen changed to a better view of the alien ship, taken from further away. The ship looked to be roughly the same size as the city it shadowed, the thousands of smaller ships buzzing around it like insects. From the landmarks visible on screen, Sebastian was able to determine they were watching footage from Sydney, Australia.

 The alien ship looked black against the bright early morning sunshine, its shape irregular and imposing. Thin towers of dark metal stuck out from it, seemingly at random. The smaller ships flew down to the city below before returning to the larger ship, back and forth in a never ending stream.

 “The alien vessel has begun to move north along the coast,” the voice of a reporter said as the image continued to be displayed on screen. “All attempts to communicate with it have gone unanswered. From what we've seen, the smaller ships are abducting people from their homes and businesses and taking them into the larger vessel. We don't yet know for what purpose, and our prayers are with them.”

 The image changed to a newsroom, where an immaculate young woman was holding her hand to an earpiece as she received an update. “We're getting reports of F-18's being dispatched from Richmond Air Force Base,” she said to the camera. “They'll be in range of the alien vessel any moment now. Tom? Tom, can you make them out?”

 The image cut back to the long range shot of the alien ship. There was a sudden roar as six F-18's flew low over the cameraman and along the coast towards the opera house. “There they are,” Tom said, his voice describing what the camera was showing. “They're changing course now and approaching the alien vessel. The smaller ships don't seem to have noticed them yet. They're climbing now, going for an attack run I suspect. They'll be in range any seco-. No! Lucy, are you getting this in the studio? They're dropping, they're just falling from the sky.”

 The image showed the six F-18's plummet to earth. Two crashed into the harbour while the remaining four descended into the city, followed by large explosions and clouds of debris. “The planes are down,” Tom said, a hint of panic creeping into his voice. “I didn't see an attack from the alien ship, but they're down. I don't see any parachutes.”

 As Tom spoke, the image showed one of the smaller alien crafts moving towards them. It looked black, just like the larger ship, but had discernible wings behind what appeared to be a cockpit. There was no obvious method of propulsion, and it moved with more speed and grace than anything native to earth, natural or man-made.

 “Lucy,” Tom continued as the image jerked wildly as the cameraman ran. “We're-.”

 The screen went black before cutting back to the Lucy in the studio. She was visibly upset, half standing from her chair as she looked at the monitor behind the camera. “Tom?” she said. “Tom, can you hear me?”

 Upon noticing the red light on the camera, she composed herself and returned to her seat, brushing her hands down her pale jacket as she did so. “We've momentarily lost contact with our reporter in the field,” she said. “I'm being told that the station is switching over to the emergency broadcast network. Keep watching for information of your nearest evacuation centre, and may God be with you.” The image switched to a line of text displaying evacuation zones for the various districts of Sydney before quickly being replaced y a BBC reporter who began to discuss the footage.

 “Switch it off,” Sebastian said as he continued to stare dumbfounded and disbelieving at the screen. He removed the mobile phone from his pocket before remembering that all wireless signals were blocked, even if they could transmit through the mile of stone and dirt that separated them from the surface above.

 The American-European Alliance Mainframe was housed in a secret bunker, deep beneath Glastonbury Tor. Milford Sanders and Sebastian Caruthers, the two foremost minds in artificial intelligence, were recruited to build an intelligent system that could coordinate the combined military forces of so many nations in the event of war.

 “Your phone won't work,” Milford said helpfully.

 “No, I know,” Sebastian replied. “It's just, my wife, do you think she knows? I need to speak to her, Mil. She needs to come here where she'll be safe. Call your wife too, and Maddy.”

 “The base is on lock down,” Milford informed him. “No one's getting in or out, not even General Mathers.”

 “We'll see about that!” Sebastian said angrily as he stepped towards the door.

 Milford followed at his heels as Sebastian marched along the corridor and through the double doors at the end. The General's office was directly in front of them, but he was nowhere to be seen. “He'll be in the meeting room,” Milford suggested.

 The two men climbed the stairs to the meeting room, where General Mathers was engaged in a conference call with a variety of world leaders and military advisers. Their images appeared on the screen as they spoke.

 “We understand the situation, General,” the British Prime Minister said, “but you have your orders.”

 “The Australian Government has officially requested our aid,” the American Secretary of Defence interrupted. “We're leading the world in a coordinated response against the alien threat.”

 “The system just isn't ready,” General Mathers insisted.

 “The last report you sent suggested only minor alterations were needed,” the German Chancellor replied.

 “Those minor alterations,” General Mathers continued, “are more than just a few ones and zeros. Once the system goes live, it's no longer under our control. We're talking about a thinking machine here. Without the safeguards in place, it can decide not to follow your orders.”

 The screen went blank as the various heads of state communicated privately with their advisers and each other. When an image reappeared, it was the British Prime Minister who spoke. “Turn it on, General,” he said, “and from now on, you'll report to Air Marshal Staton.”

 As the screen went blank, General Mathers sat heavily in his chair, his head in his hands. “General?” Sebastian said, surprising the older man.

 “Dr Caruthers,” General Mathers replied. As he looked up, his face looked weary and beaten, as though all the fight was gone from him.

 “You have to let us out,” Sebastian continued. “I need to find my wife.”

 “You heard them,” General Mathers replied. “We're turning the machine on, and you need to be here to oversee it. I'm sorry.”

 “You don't understand,” Sebastian continued. “The alien ship, it's taking people. You have to let me find my wife!”

 “I have two sons and a daughter,” General Mathers said, his voice calm and empty. “All in the military, like their father. I do understand, doctor, I understand far too well.”

 Sebastian was about to argue further when Milford's hand on his shoulder stopped him. Together the three men sat in the meeting room, staring at blank monitors as they thought about their loved ones.

Monday, 30 June 2014

My next project

 Over the weekend, I finally finished and edited book 8 in my children's werewolf series (PUPS - The Adventures Of A Third Grade Werewolf). Book 8, the Case of the Terrible Truth has been published and is available here.

Not one to sit around and do nothing, today I have started on my next project, but first, an apology. I'm sorry, but no it isn't Oracle, book 4 of The Chronicle of Benjamin Knight. That book will be written and be released in 2015. Instead, my next project is...


 

As the title would suggest, this is a Sci-Fi novel with elements of Arthurian legend thrown in. Here's a brief description-

'On the 4th December 2017, Earth is attacked and humanity enslaved. 4000 years later, Earth is nothing but a distant memory, a legend told by the slaves as they dream of a better life.

Together, an insane AI and a handful of escaped slaves attempt to make that dream a reality...'

What do you think?

As always, comments and feedback are greatly appreciated!

Friday, 6 June 2014

2nd competition winner

I have received the second correct answer in the Benjamin Knight competition and posted out the prize (signed copies of the first 3 books) today - well done to Adam in Merseyside!

Three prizes remain, decode the journal page below and email me via my website!


Good luck!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Free short story

No posts for a while, so I thought I would offer a short update. I am still hard at work on PUPS, the first 4 are available on amazon, 5 is being edited and 6 is almost finished. I also have Knightfall being converted to audiobook format and hopefully I will have a full update on that soon.

As a treat, here is a (very) short story, based on a recurring dream/nightmare I have had for the last 10 years or so. I am sure someone out there can use it to determine exactly what is wrong with my brain! Here you are.

On Reflection


Beep. Beep. Beep.

I reach over and knock a multitude of items from the bedside table before hitting the correct button on the alarm clock. Another Monday morning and another struggle to get out of bed. I hate Mondays. I'm like that cartoon cat, the ginger one who eats lasagne. Granville or something. What was his name?

Five more minutes. I deserve that, don't I? I roll over towards my wife and press my chest against her back. She's incredible. I still can't believe it, of all the people she could have married she chose me. She said yes, to me. Three years later, my stomach still does somersaults when she smiles at me, my heart races as I watch her undress for bed.

Three years. We even have a cat around here somewhere. It won't be long until it's a baby.

I kiss her shoulder and work my lips along her neck. My hand slides onto her stomach and begins to move upwards, cupping her left-

Garfield! That was his name, Garfield. Always picked on the dog, Odie I think his name was. I really loved that show as a kid.

Let me sleep,” she mumbles beside me, moving my hand from where it lay.

Fine. Get up, get showered, get shaved, and get ready for work. Oh man, do I hate Monday mornings.

I stagger across the landing and into the bathroom. My eyes are barely open as I squeeze some toothpaste onto my brush and clean my teeth. One more step along the morning routine.

The mirror's already beginning to mist over. I wipe it with the flannel-

Did I? It didn't, did it?

I must have gotten up too quickly. I'm light headed I think.

Cold water, splashing on my face. That'll makes me feel better, wakes me up a bit. I'll have to try to remember to tell her when she wakes up. She already thinks I'm crazy, now I can tell her my reflection has stopped copying me.

Yeah, right. I suppose it's a better reason for not shaving than 'I just couldn't be both-

That really happened, didn't it? I didn't, I mean, it didn't. He.

I close my eyes and rub them.

I'm still asleep. This is a dream, that's all. I'm dreaming. Come on, wake up now. Wake up.

I open my eyes. He's looking at me. It, me. I'm looking at me.

Come on, wake up. Pinch myself. Not hard enough. Pinch harder, nails this time.

Smiling.

He's smiling now, at me. I'm not smiling.

Ohmygod. Ohmygod. Ohmygod.

He's smiling at me.

I want to run. My legs won't move. Why won't my legs move? I want to run, to get away.

Why is he smiling like that?

Please, let me go. Let me go. Why won't my legs move?

He just keeps smiling at me.

WHAT HAS HE GOT TO SMILE ABOUT?

Oh fu-


Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Update

I've been hard at work on PUPS over the last few weeks, so I thought it was time for a bit of an update.

The first four PUPS books are now available for purchase on amazon. If you don't know, these tell the story of Jessica, an 8 year old werewolf, and her adventures after moving to a new school. Here are the covers!







 
 
 
 
I am also in the process of converting the first 3 Benjamin Knight books into audiobooks. These will be available through the Audible service later this year. Keep an eye here for updates, or even better sign up to my mailing list at -
 
 
And there we are!
 
Back to PUPS book 5, the Case of the Atrocious Amulet....

 

Friday, 18 April 2014

Alkaline Trio at Nottingham Rock City 17/4/2014

Wow. What a night! They were awesome, absolutely incredible.

To start, the two warm up bands.

1. The Murder Burgers
Not bad at all, sounded a little like early Green Day stuff. Would consider an album to hear more of them.

2. Bayside

Good too, old fashioned rock/metal. Lead guitarist was amazing, such talent and a lot of solos to show it off. Sick, sick, sick was a great, standout track by them.

The main event!

Alkaline Trio


Just incredible. What a great mix of new tracks.

1. This Could Be Love
2. Hell Yes
3. She Lied To The FBI
4. Every Thug Needs A Lady
5. Cringe
6. I Wanna Be A Warhol
7. I'm Only Here To Disappoint
8. Jacked On Green Beers
9. Sadie
10. Balanced On A Shelf
11. Dine, Dine My Darling
12. Mr Chainsaw
13. Time To Waste
14. Young Lovers
15. Stupid Kid
16. Warbrain



Encore (and really, two of my all time favourite tracks, by any band, ever? The whole place went crazy!)

17. Private Eye (I don't have to quit doing f**ked up sh*t for anyone but me)
18. Radio (shaking like a dog sh*tting razor blades)

So much energy, just a great, great performance. Loved every minute of it, and my voice is so hoarse today I don't know how they do it night after night. If only they'd played Mercy Me and I Lied My Face Off it would have been the perfect set.

Here's hoping I get to see them again soon.


Friday, 11 April 2014

PUPS delay

For anyone out there waiting to read my new series (PUPS - the adventures of a third grade werewolf) I have some bad news. Four days ago my computer died and I have managed to lose a great deal of my writing, associated notes and other bits and pieces. I thought I'd backed them up, but they weren't on the backup drive so I don't know what happened there. I try to do it once a week, but I suppose it must have been 2 or 3 (months maybe?).

Finally worked out it is the hard drive that has failed (tried to do a fresh install and the windows boot disc said 'No - hard drive is about to fail). It's a Lenovo ideapad Z580. Just about a year old, but I can't find the receipt to say for sure (which is not in the box which I can find). I have managed to piece together a working PC from some of the old ones in the garage, but it clunks and moans and sounds like it is steam powered. It's also incredibly slow!

Anyway, I've managed to get back copies of books 1 and 2 (the case of the horrifying headmaster and the case of the loathsome lunches respectively), but book 3 will need to be started from scratch (the case of the cancelled Christmas). I have also managed to lose all of the book covers that I made and the associated artwork to make them again.

Oh, and all of the data and artwork for my website for some reason.

I could see this as an opportunity, if I was a glass half full kind of person. I suppose I am starting to do that now that I've stopped being so annoyed with myself, but part of me honestly believes that whatever I write for PUPS book 3 will never be as good as the chapters I had already written. Anyone else ever felt like that?

So, to summarise -
Pups 1 and 2 saved but back to being in non-edited format
Pups 3 starting from scratch
Website lost (will have to start from scratch next time I want to change it, may well look different if I get a flash of inspiration)
Artwork and covers for Pups 1-7 lost and will need to be redone from scratch
Need to buy a new laptop hard drive

I think that's about it. Has anyone else had a similar problem? How did you cope? What did you do?

A really inspiring story would be great about now....