The House Next Door…

thnd…is a frightfully fun read. A spooky tale of demons and darkness, with a fabulous cover by Hazel Butler, this book had me afraid to turn off the light. Mister Jones’ luck is as bad as ever in the third installment of this series, thanks to his equally unlucky neighbor lady, and many of the same characters from the first two books have returned as well. The enigmatic Eric is rapidly becoming one of my favorite characters.

I haven’t enjoyed a series like this since I read the Goosebumps and Fear Street books as a kid. I do hope there will be many more to come. 😀

So, what’s Mister Jones gotten himself into this time? Behold, ze blurb:

Mister Jones thought he had finished with the supernatural world – but the supernatural hadn’t finished with him…

When Sheila Balsam finds herself compelled to buy a genuine antique in a strange little shop, she didn’t bargain for what came with the statuette – and Mister Jones finds himself once again drawn into the dangerous world of the paranormal : this time via the house next door.

An ancient evil has found a way to break from his enchanted prison and the only one who is going to stand in his way is the unfortunate Mister Jones, who seems destined to live in interesting times.

About the Author

Will Macmillan Jones lives in Wales, a lovely green, verdant land with a rich cultural heritage. He does his best to support this heritage by drinking the local beer and shouting loud encouragement whenever International Rugby is on the TV. A fifty-something lover of blues, rock, and jazz, he has just fulfilled a lifetime ambition by filling an entire wall of his home office with (full) bookcases. When not writing, he is usually lost with the help of a satnav on top of a large hill in the middle of nowhere.

His major comic fantasy series, released by Red Kite Publishing, can be found at www.thebannedunderground.com, and information on his other work and stuff in general at www.willmacmillanjones.com. There’s a blog. There’s always a blog, isn’t there?

You can find The House Next Door wherever find e-books are sold.

Of course, if something a bit lighter is more your cup of tea, I’ve got the cure for that, too. Feeling froggy? Check out The Banned Underground books. And for the young (at heart or otherwise), there’s the Snort and Wobbles books as well. I recommend reading them all – you won’t regret it! 🙂

(c) 2016. All rights reserved.

(c) 2016. All rights reserved.

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And now for the review!


Yes, that’s right, it’s review time! Because nothing says weekend like books, glorious books. 🙂

Okay, fine, nothing says it’s the weekend like sleeping in, but that’s not the point.

Books. That’s the point.

And this book is a fantastic one.

Literally. 🙂

The people here are as harsh as the landscape, but they’re not without their warmth, and in a land of perpetual winter, warmth is important. Heck, even in a world not cursed with perpetual winter, warmth is important. The warmth Marishka finds is not exactly conventional, which makes her story all the more intriguing.

How do you survive as an outcast in a place as harsh as Ingary? Beyond that, how do you thrive?

Read this book and find out. Seriously, read it – if I keep talking, there will be spoilers. 🙂

Bleizgeist is wonderfully evocative and beautifully written, the kind of story that sticks with a person. I can’t wait to read it again.

You can find Bleizgeist for sale at Amazon US and UK, and you can even get it in paperback! And with a cover as beautiful as this one, you’ll want it in paperback. 😉

In case you missed the blurb earlier this week, here ’tis again:

Ingary is a harsh land. Cursed by a perpetual winter, the isolated little town has all but forget why they worship the wolf.

Marked by magic she cannot control, Marishka is an outcast. Alone and starving she is plagued by geiste, the unconscious minds of the people of Ingary, roaming the wilderness as they sleep. Attracted to the gramarye in Marishka’s blood, the geiste give her no rest. Losing herself to madness, she is saved when she chances to fall in love. But when her affair is discovered, all hope is taken from her.

Beaten and lovelorn, she resigns herself to death.

And then the wolf walks through her door, and Marishka recalls the meaning of Bleizgeist—the spirit of the wolf.

And if you were wondering about the author, you can find her at her website as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and at the Bookshine Bandit.

(c) 2015. All rights reserved.

Love in the Dark


Today I’m happy to have one final guest post from Hazel Butler. Enjoy! 🙂

A friend of mine read Bleizgeist shortly after I’d finished writing it. Their response was two-fold. First, they asked me how I managed to write such dark fiction. Then, they asked me if I didn’t think it was a little too dark.

I was able to easily answer the first question.

I write a lot, and most of what I write is dark. I believe the reason for this is largely to do with my world-view, and my life experiences. I have not had an easy time over the years, for various reasons. The world has not been kind to me, and it is often equally cruel to others. Pretending this isn’t the case does nothing to improve the universe, it simply gives people a warped view of what reality should look like. I find it easy to write dark fiction—and in particular dark fantasy—because that is the world in which I have dwelt since I was young. It’s the only world I truly know. One of my favourite authors, C.S. Lewis, once said that, ‘Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage’. I couldn’t agree with this sentiment more, however I am also of the opinion that it does children—and adults—very little good to give them the impression there is no such thing as evil in the world, that good always triumphs, and that doing the right thing never necessitates an alarming degree of personal sacrifice.

Sometimes there are no happy endings.

Sometimes the princess falls under an evil curse and never wakes up.

Sometimes it’s Prince Charming who causes her downfall.

Dark Lords triumph (if you don’t believe me, then how do you explain David Cameron?).

Heroes fail.

Grand adventures may…

Why Write Strong Female Leads? Because You’re Still Asking That Question.


Back again today is author Hazel Butler to talk about strong female characters and what makes hers different. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

One of my favourite writers (and directors), Joss Whedon, famously recounted an incident with a journalist during an Equality Now speech in 2006. It went something like this: the journalist asked, ‘So, why do you write these strong female characters?’, and in the style we have come to love and adore from the man who brought us Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, and The Avengers (amongst other things), Whedon simply responded, ‘Because you’re still asking me that question’.

I’m fairly certain that everyone who has ever written a tale involving strong female characters—in particular a lead character—has been asked some variation of, ‘Why did you make your women so strong?’, and/or, ‘Why did you make your hero a woman?’

caI find it mildly ridiculous, but sadly not surprising, that this still happens. But it was a comment from a friend of mine after she read my first novel, Chasing Azrael, that really got me thinking about this. The friend in question is no chauvinist. She’s no stranger to strong female characters, in fact she’s all for them. What surprised me was her assertion that it was the first time she’d read anything wherein there was a strong female protagonist whose strength depended, not on her physical power or supernatural abilities, but due to her strength of character.

Andee Tilbrook is not a strong character because…

Unleash the Night: Dark Fantasy and Allegory


Today fantasy author Hazel Butler joins me to share her thoughts on Dark Fantasy and allegory.

Dark Fantasy has always been my favourite genre. Whether I’m reading or writing, it is a genre I return to again and again. This is partly due to my love of the dark, the gothic, the macabre, and the vaguely terrifying, but it is mainly due to the characters and meaning that often come with Dark Fantasy.

Mark Lawrence, Anne Rice, Joe Abercrombie, Stephen King, Clive Barker, even Neil Gaiman and Robin Hobb exist in the murky realms of Dark Fantasy.

It’s not a coincidence that almost all my favourite authors are on that list.

This is a genre that allows, far more than most others, for the consideration of characters, themes, and actions, which would otherwise be considered unpalatable in mainstream fiction. The ability this genre has to reveal and explore the darkest aspects of human nature and experience has always been appealing.

When I first put pen to paper to scratch out an outline for Bleizgeist, I had no idea it was going to be a Dark Fantasy tale. In fact, I was intending to write something a little more mainstream, a little more literary, something after the fashion of Rita Mae Brown or Sarah Waters.

What I ended up with was considerably different, but it should not have come as a surprise.

The character I had in mind, right from the very start, was a girl whose inherent nature was for some reason taboo. This made her an outcast, with few friends, no family, and only one means of survival—using the very nature that cursed her to her advantage.

I was looking for…

Bleizgeist!



Today I am over the moon excited to share a new book release with you. Bleizgeist, by the wonderful Hazel Butler, debuts today and I am beside myself with excitement. Hazel is a great friend, a wonderful author, and a talented artist, and I am so, so happy for her.

 Be sure to check out the Rafflecopter at the end – there’s a giveaway happening that you won’t want to miss!

Bleizgeist
Hazel Butler
Published by: Astrid Press
Publication date: December 15th 2015
Genres: Dark Fantasy, New Adult
Ingary is a harsh land. Cursed by a perpetual winter, the isolated little town has all but forget why they worship the wolf.

Marked by magic she cannot control, Marishka is an outcast. Alone and starving she is plagued by geiste, the unconscious minds of the people of Ingary, roaming the wilderness as they sleep. Attracted to the gramarye in Marishka’s blood, the geiste give her no rest. Losing herself to madness, she is saved when she chances to fall in love. But when her affair is discovered, all hope is taken from her.

Beaten and lovelorn, she resigns herself to death.

And then the wolf walks through her door, and Marishka recalls the meaning of Bleizgeist—the spirit of the wolf.

Goodreads / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Paperback

EXCERPT:

Eventually, I thought, death will come for me.

It was a comforting notion, and…

Photo 365 #155

Looky what I found in my mail the other night!

2015-01-08 19.21.16

This picture doesn’t do justice to the vibrant colors of what will soon be in a frame gracing my office wall.  It’s a signed print I won from Aädenian Ink, and it’s signed by the artist, Myka Jelina!  I was pretty dang excited to finally get my hands on it, and now I can’t wait for my office to be done so that I can hang this beauty up.

After all, every fantasy author should have a little bit of fantasy in their writing space, right?  Right. 😀

(c) 2015.  All rights reserved.

Book promo round-up

rowlingbookI was trawling through Facebook Friday and ran across some excellent words of wisdom from Lucas Hargis:

BUY BOOKS TODAY FROM YOUR COUCH
1. Go through your “Friends” list
2. If any are published authors, click their links
3. Buy their books
4. Help authors on Black Friday, too

I spent last week promoting books in anticipation of Black Friday.  There are so many great books out there, and this is a great time to pick up a whole bunch of them to either keep for yourself or share with others as Christmas gifts.  It was seriously hard to limit myself to the books I did promote, and, as evidenced by my last post, I completely failed at the whole limit thing.

But with tomorrow being Cyber Monday, I thought this would be the perfect time to collect all those posts into one big one, a sort of one-stop book-shopping list, if you will.  So, without further ado, a list of all the books I’ve featured this month and where to find them:

One last recommendation!

Well, two more, actually.  First up, I’d like to recommend The Showing by Will Macmillan Jones.  In a departure from his usually comedic genius, he’s put together “a gripping, scary read” and, having read some of his flash fiction pieces in 416, I can vouch for his ability to scare. 🙂

So, what’s The Showing all about?  Well…

It was a house Mister Jones knew too well, his family’s house.
Here it was, again for sale and he could not resist being shown around.
But his visit has roused that which was sleeping – how many will die before it can be laid to rest?

If you knew how much of this story is true, would you want to sleep with your light on tonight?

Now if that doesn’t stir your interest, I don’t know what will.  Oh, maybe this excerpt from Will’s website will do the trick:

Barren Island Books interviews Anna Martoka!

Anná Artwork by Hazel Butler

Anná
Artwork by Hazel Butler

What’s new in the world of The Lokana Chronicles? Well, today Anna Martoka was interviewed as part of the Barren Island Books interview series that my wonderful friend and fellow author, A.F.E. Smith, runs on her blog. If you’d like to know which books Anna counts among her favorites, head on over and check out her interview!

And while you’re there, don’t forget to check out some of the other interviews. There’s loads of great books just waiting to be discovered at Barren Island Books!

(c) 2014. All rights reserved.