Tuesday, 25 September 2018

77. Part Two - Destination Romance


Hello dear readers and welcome to part two of September’s adventures. 

A few days ago, I attended the 2018 Rockingham Writer’s Convention. What an amazing day. :) Unlike last year, I didn’t have to drive through an ominous fog to get to the convention, nor did I forget to let the other half know I’d arrived safely.

My first workshop was Presentation Skills with Mr Glen B Swift. Mr Swift gave us the tips and tricks to make sure you are comfortable and prepared before you start your presentation / talk as well as making sure your audience is comfortable too. It’s funny how you don’t think of little things until someone points them out, and then they become glaringly obvious. He then asked what we wanted to gain from his session. I was the only one who’s terrified of public speaking. Everyone else seemed happy to talk anywhere, anytime, on anything. I know I can do it if I absolutely have to, and the workshop was a positive experience, but I think I have a long way to go on this confidence thing. :( Now, if I can just work out what’s triggering my fear response...


Next, I did a workshop on Marketing and Promotion with Tess Woods. Last year’s Twelve Steps for Novel Writing was brilliant, so I was keen for this session. Ms Woods is funny, smart, and sassy in her delivery, (and a speaker I would love to emulate.) She shared tips on self-promotion, navigating social media and making it work for you, building your community of readers, and showed us examples of authors who are successful with their social media campaigns. Ms Woods also shared a few hints on how to make social media work for us and left us all laughing by the end of her session. :)


After lunch we listened to a panel of authors who discussed Traditional Versus Independent Publishing. On the Traditional side were Natasha Lester, Tess Woods, and Deb Fitzpatrick. Our chairperson was Teena Raffa-Mulligan, who is also one of the Convention’s organisers. And on the Independent panel were Claire Boston, Shona Husk, and Rebecca Laffar-Smith. Ms Boston and Ms Husk have also been traditionally published, and Ms Husk is a hybrid author who publishes both independently and traditionally depending on her book content.

All the panellists felt it was important to know your strengths and weaknesses and to decide from a business mindset what would work best for you. Having confidence about your ability to organise or be able to complete book covers, graphic design, and editing helps if you wish to self-publish. If you’re not as confident, and you enjoy a teamwork environment where you are supported through the publication process, then perhaps traditional publishing is right for you. Both sides had strong cases for their chosen medium, but the underlying message was clear. There is no right or wrong way to publish your book. Choose what works best for you.

My final workshop for the day after catching up with friends and meeting some wonderful new writers was a session with Escape Publishing’s Kate Cuthbert called Romancing the Reader. Ms Cuthbert spoke about reader expectations of how a romance novel should play out and how we should honour that tradition but give our stories our own special twist within that accepted context. Romance must have its happily ever after ending, or a happily for now, which implies a foreseeable, happy future together. She also spoke about diversity in romance both from a writer and a character perspective and the exciting future this holds for the romance genre.

Something I found fascinating was the history of the romance novel. For each decade since the romance novel evolved, authors have created a fictional world that became a reality by the following decade. Authors were writing about women having careers in romance novels rather than leaving work once they were married, and in reality, this later became an acceptable practice. Likewise, women in fiction were becoming head nurses or doctors in their own right rather than subservient to their male counterparts and again, this became a reality. I’d love to learn more about this side of the romance genre because while romance is mainly reading for pleasure, it’s amazing how it has helped change society and a woman’s place in it. It was a fantastic session.

Overall, it was another brilliant day and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event. A huge thank you to the Rockingham Writers Centre and everyone involved in this wonderful day.


Book Reviews

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Destination Romance – A Serenity Press Anthology

(ARC copy in exchange for an honest review)

Destination Romance’s characters begin their happily ever after’s in the town of Heart Springs in New South Wales, where the J’Adore Travel Boutique is at the centre of so many wonderful romantic connections. These magical moments happen in the town itself, coastal Western Australia, and then takes the reader globe-trotting to magnificent locations. Travel to France, London, the Greek Islands, and exotic Thailand without ever leaving the comforts of home. In fact, grab another cup / glass of your favourite beverage and your favourite reading snack, and indulge in the cruise or two of a lifetime, then travel back in time to a place of simplistic wonder.

And don’t go thinking this is a book for young love only. Destination Romance does offer that, but it also proves to its readers love can find you at any age, rekindle what was lost, bring about a kismet meeting, make you believe in love again, that anything is possible, or bring you face to face with your one true love – you know – the one who was right under your nose all along. Enjoy a myriad of emotions, (I laughed so hard I cried in one story, and I cried at the end of another because it seems I’m more of a hopeless romantic than I’ll ever admit to,) as you discover our heroines’ paths to true love. This anthology won’t disappoint. :) Pre-order your copy now. :)



Cruise It or Lose It by Carolyn Wren

Music teacher and movie buff, Rose, longs to support her best friend on her special day, but the bride-to-be is holding her wedding on a cruise and Rose is petrified of open water. The solution to calm her fears – the wonderful girls at J’Adore Travel Boutique in Heart Springs send her on a short cruise with the promise of a rescue in twenty-four hours if it’s too much for her. So, when her luggage is lost, her phobia kicks in, and a handsome gentleman named ‘Jack’ comes to her rescue, Rose knows one thing for certain. This mini holiday is about to become one ‘Titanic’ disaster.


The Boy Next Door by Tanya Kean

Grace has experienced much sadness in her young life, the death of her father, then her mother’s demise, and in-between, the shattering pain of her first heartbreak. Her next door neighbour and first love, Michael Barrington. vanished years ago without saying goodbye and a piece of Grace died that day too. But sadness has no place on holiday and Grace is finally going to live out her dreams. After a visit to her travel agent, she’ll stopover in London, and then spend a week or two lazing around some Greek islands. Then in London a rainstorm hits and the bad weather ushers her into a pub and across the bar is the last person she expected to see. Has she really travelled halfway around the world just to run into the boy next door?


The Next Stage – Jean Jenkins

Carol left Perth with a battered heart, painful memories of an abrasive ex, and the declaration she’ll never love another man again. Instead, she returns to her home town of Heart Springs to decide what she wants to do with her life. And just because she enjoyed a conversation with a handsome gentleman on the flight over, who appears to share her interests, doesn’t mean she’s going to start with him. Then her childhood friend, Maggie, suggests a short holiday cruise could be just the thing to help clear her head. They meet for lunch to discuss it, when who should serve them an amazing lunch but Bob, the delightful man she met at the airport. Just as well she’s heading off again soon. In New Zealand, Carol realises she feels happy again, but Bob is still on her mind. How did he sneak past her defences, and what happened to the promise she made about no more men?

Heart Swings by Renee Conoulty

Being the family representative at a family wedding in gorgeous Thailand sounds like the perfect escape for Brooke. So many life changing decisions about her future everyone else wants to make for her are more than she can take, and she welcomes the break. Of course, there’s just the small matter of being afraid to fly, but the handsome man seated next to her on the plane soon calms her fears. It’s then she realises he’s Heart Spring’s newest resident, who hates the small town his parents moved their family business to in hopes of a sea change. He’s also certain there’s not a decent cup of coffee to be found outside of Sydney, and for barista extraordinaire, Brooke, that’s just not on. But first, they have to get through her cousin’s wedding, an encounter with his ex-girlfriend who’s also a wedding guest and desperate to rekindle their big city romance, and a trek through the steamy native Thailand jungle for both Brooke and Ryan to realise where their hearts truly lay.


When Love Breaks Down by Lisa Wolstenholme

When Gill convinced her husband to take early retirement, she never dreamed it would mean he’d be constantly underfoot, in her hair, and driving her out of her mind. When had Jim become such a cantankerous ‘old’ man? Their daughter, Maggie, asks them to attend a tour called ‘Golden Oldies’ in Western Australia as a favour to her so she can recommend the tour company for her agency. Gill agrees, deciding a break is exactly what she and Jim need to put the spark back into their marriage. Instead, Jim’s temper is working overtime, spoiling the holiday and putting the other guests offside, and Gill has had just about enough. What happened to the man she married and how will they ever get past this latest hurdle and find each other again?


Living in the Past – Melanie Page

Nae (Naomi) Campbell took a trip of a lifetime in an archaeological dig in France reliving thirteenth century history. Her ex fiancé, like their doomed romance, is far behind her. Thanks to careful planning by the travel agency in her home town of Heart Springs, she’s finally part of something she loves. What she didn’t plan on was falling in love with Phillip, who’s not only a gentleman, but a viscount’s son too. What chance is there for finding love and happily ever after in the past for an Aussie girl who’s way out of her league, out of time, and out of hope?


On Track for Tomorrow by Mel A. Rowe

A leg brace and streamline crutches, or sticks as Jessica calls them, don’t exactly inspire thoughts of a handy-capable woman preparing to embark on a six-day hike across the MacDonald Ranges. But for the first-year anniversary of the day that changed everything, Jessica’s determined to regain her strength, her confidence, and her life. In preparation, she rents a small house in Heart Spring’s from her client, Maggie. In between her capacity as IT guru, for half the town it seems, she’ll work on strengthening her legs without her eagle-eyed parents or anyone else hovering over her, ready to watch her fall. A pity then her next-door neighbour and full-time ‘god,’ didn’t get the memo. When Brett offers to help her train, Jessica is caught between her own stubborn determination and hope that Brett’s interest is one not born out of pity, but something beautiful and worthy of wonderful tomorrows.


Escape to D’Amour by Michelle Beesley

Caught in the past and in her remembered love for a husband who died two years before, the only thing that keeps The Tea Lady Café’s owner, Lavender Jones, going is working and baking at her shop. That and worrying how she’ll keep the lavender farm her late husband’s family owned from running into the ground. Then her travel agent friend, Izzy, has the perfect suggestion. Go to France on a gastronomical tour on the travel agency’s behalf, enjoy all the food and drink delights Provence has to offer, and learn as much as she can about their lavender farms before coming home. What Izzy didn’t say was she’d be captivated by everything she touched, tasted, and smelled including a French Chocolatier / lavender plantation owner whose delicate confections, passionate manner, and sexy accent show her he’s well versed in all things ‘Lavender.’


A London Minute by Michelle Rule

Ruby is at a complete loss as to what to do next. Her parents sold the family business, the one she thought she’d someday inherit, and took themselves off on a whirlwind trip overseas leaving her stuck in Heart Springs, with okay, a roof over her head, but no job prospects, and no real skills outside of the ones she learns at her parents’ sides in the town’s best Fish and Chip shop. Now it’s someone else’s dream, and no way is she going to work for them even if a certain green-eyed hunk is trying to convince her otherwise. But she can let her guard down enough to be his friend, because it’s not his fault his parents stole her dream. Then, just when things are getting interesting, her parents ask her to join them in London. In the blink of an eye, Ruby’s torn between the past she lost and an uncertain future.

Spoilt for Love by Monique Mulligan

Maggie Redmont is used to planning holidays for lovers and those whose hearts are waiting to be mended. The only heart she hasn’t been able to fix is her own. That’s because the man of her dreams appeared in a café in Scotland years ago, and when they looked into each other’s eyes the heavens opened and the angels sang. Then he disappeared and she never saw him again. Somehow, that brief meeting had spoiled her for any man since. So, when ‘Rafe’ arrives in Heart Springs to fill in for one of her fellow travel agents, and those same sparks fly, Maggie’s strict ‘no fraternising’ policy, (a lesson she learned the hard way,) means once again her happily ever after is off limits. Is he really going to slip through her fingers again?


 

Notes of Desire by Carolyn Wren

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Jared Knight works for international governments together with a select group of colleagues, tracking down the worst criminals humanity has to offer. His highly secretive and dangerous profession leaves no time or freedom for relationships, especially not with the gently raised daughter of a prominent diplomat who catches his eye in the glittering ballrooms of Monaco.
Despite his attraction, he vows to keep Cecilia Benedict in his past, until an unknown stalker threatens her future.
Cecilia has been receiving letters from an admirer, one who knows far too much about her. Her father seeks help in dealing with the growing menace and Jared steps out of the shadows to become her protector. Cecilia finds herself intensely intrigued by this quiet man with deep grey eyes, and when they are emotionally thrown together, he becomes so much more than just her bodyguard.
But someone is biding his time in the shadows, threatening to destroy their relationship before it can even begin.

One brief moment was all it took for Jared Knight to fall for Cecelia Benedict, but he knows his lifestyle has no time and no place for a woman like her. But when her life is threatened, Jared steps up to do what he does best, protect innocent lives. Normally he doesn’t have the added complication of attraction, and when he realises the feeling is mutual, it makes this mission the most difficult he’s ever undertaken.

Cecelia is fascinated by the quietly spoken, and much too handsome, agent assigned to protect her when unsettling letters become a regular part of her daily life. She refuses to hide away from what she feels are idle threats, but she’s not about to upset her father, and especially not Jared when it comes to her safety.

When things escalate and people are hurt, Jared realises he can no longer keep his work and his private life separate. But the person watching Cecelia is well aware of this change in circumstances, and they’re about to take full advantage of his ‘weakness’ for Cecelia is well and truly spoken for just like the letters proclaim.

I loved this story. Ms Wren kept the pace going from start to finish. The twists and turns were exciting, and I love how Jared and Cecelia’s feelings developed throughout the book. Being a self-confessed Daddy’s Girl, I also loved the strong, loving relationship between Cecelia and her father. And it’s the strength in both the romantic and the father-daughter relationships that struck a chord with me. Wonderful reading. :)


Doc Holliday by Paul Summerhayes

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Traveling near the wasteland, Marshal Pat Garrett and Roberts happen upon a sleepy borderland town…but nothing is as it seems. By chance, the lawmen stumble into the infamous poker player, Doc Holliday and he is desperate for their assistance. Begrudgingly, the marshals agreed to help him and that’s when all hell breaks loose.

The servants of the elder gods advance their master’s vile cause, heedless of how much innocent blood they spill. The gods of darkness’ goal is to rule the earth and the final destruction of the human race.

The Sky Fire Chronicles is a weird western series set in America during the late 1800's.

Nothing is as it seems in the much too quiet town that’s much too close to the demon-filled wastelands. But strangeness has a way of attracting the strangeness in others and Marshall Pat Garrett and Roberts soon meet a charming gentleman ravaged by disease in a bar that’s seen better days, much like the gentleman himself. But Doc Holiday is no ordinary man, and when the merciless heat of the sun vanishes for a few blissful hours, someone else, or perhaps, something else takes his place.

Strange things are happening in town. People are disappearing. Livestock are behaving strangely, and an oddly-shaped creature prowls the shadows. Garrett and Roberts are drawn deeper into the mystery when Doc Holiday asks for their help, and in return, Roberts demands the Doc join them in Tombstone where a great destiny awaits. But first there’s the small matter of getting out of town alive.

Once again Mr Summerhayes teases and tantalises the reader into discovering how the key players in his series meet in their quest to stop the strange demon invasions that have befallen the wild west. While the focus remains on Doc Holiday’s story, Garrett, Roberts, and Billy the Kid still make their presence known, and makes the reader curious to know how the story / series will end.


News

I just finished beta reading a YA paranormal story with the most amazing first kiss scene. I can’t wait until this story is published so I can share it with you. I really enjoyed the first-person account seen through the eyes of the male lead. One of the stories I copy-edited features an older female having a second chance at romance. It was a very saucy story, which I’m sure readers will love.

I have more books on the ‘to be read’ list, and I’m up to date on my copy-editing work, which means time to work on my own stories. I mentioned above I attended Ms Cuthbert’s workshop. She shared a tip or two I can utilise in my stories and I’m keen to put those tips to work.

So, until next time, may the words of wonderful stories become the lyrics of your soul. :)


Tuesday, 18 September 2018

77. Part One - Dark Magic


Hello dear readers. J

I have so much going on this month that, rather than put you through a blog long enough to compete with Tolstoy’s War and Peace, I’ve split my news in two.

This blog is devoted to a generous man, Mr Alan Baxter, who shared time with me not only as a writer, but also as a mentor of sorts. I stumbled upon a blog featuring Mr Baxter about writing great fight scenes in my search to fix a frustrating altercation between two of my characters. The article helped immensely, and I contacted Mr Baxter to tell him so. He was kind enough to give me more feedback to work with, and in return, I bought his book, Realmshift.

I mentioned in a previous blog Mr Baxter would be attending the Perth Supernova in July, and I ‘made’ my husband meet him and sign his latest trilogy for me. After letting him know how much I enjoyed the books, I thought I’d push my luck and ask if he was interested in doing an interview. Fortunately for me, he said yes. J


GENERAL

Why do you write?
I can’t imagine not writing. It’s just something I’ve always been driven to do.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was a kid and people enjoyed the stories I made up. I figured that was something I could do and I embraced it. But I never really tried to be a published professional writer until my late-20s.

Do you have support from family and friends?
Absolutely, and I always have. I’m very lucky there. My wife is a professional artist, so we get each other.

What are your favourite story writing genres and authors and what draws you to them?
I write mostly in the dark fiction, crime, horror, fantasy genres, but I read voraciously across all genres. I’m drawn to a good story, good characters, good writing. That’s all that matters.

Where can we buy or see your works?
The best place to start is this page on my website - https://www.alanbaxteronline.com/books/ It lists everything and you can click through to learn more and find Buy links.

Can you tell us what are you’re currently working on?
At the moment I’m going through edits for DEVOURING DARK, my new supernatural thriller that comes out on November 6th. After that, I’ll start in on a new project, but I haven’t decided what that is yet! I’m also slowly putting together the stories for my second collection of short fiction, but that’s a bit nebulous right now.

How much research do you do?
However much I need to. It depends on the story and what I need to know. I always research thoroughly so that the things I write about are correct. I find research one of the most enjoyable parts of writing fiction!

Do you have a writing routine?
Kind of. I also run a martial arts school and have a 4-year-old son, so my writing routine is fitted around those things.

Do you ever get writer’s block and if so, how do you get through it?
Not really. Getting stuck is not the same as getting blocked. I have to write, that’s my job, so I sit down and I write. If I do get stuck, I usually find that walking the dogs or going for a ride on my motorbike and letting my mind chew over the problem works.

What book/s are you reading at present?
I’m reading a short story collection by John F D Taff called Little Black Spots and a novel by Bracken McLeod called Mountain Home. Both are excellent.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read, read, read, write, write, write, repeat. It’s really the only thing that works.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I run a Kung Fu school and that’s been a passion since I was a kid, so that’s the majority of my non-writing time. But I like to be out with my family too, exploring the world. I love to travel.

What do you think makes a good story?
Good characters. Story is about people; the rest is just ideas. Ideas can be cool, but they’re only really good when the characters are fascinating and well-drawn.

What turns you off a story?
Loads of things! Poor writing, cardboard characters, clichés, too slow and boring… So many things.

Are you a plotter, an organic writer, or a combination of both?
A bit of both, but I find myself planning more and more these days. I wonder if that’s because I’m taking on more complex plots, or maybe I’m just getting better at planning!

Any writing rituals / superstitions?
Nope. I’m not a superstitious person.

How did you deal with rejection letters (if you had any?)
Oh, I have hundreds! They’re part of the job. Rejection is the default, it’s acceptances that are rare and strange.

Do you edit as you go or finish your writing first?
Finish first. I might edit tiny bits here and there as I go along, but usually I make notes on the side and concentrate on getting a first draft down to the end. Once it’s finished, the editing is better and much easier.

From where do you get your titles and character names?
All sorts of places. Some characters appear with their names fully formed. Other times a name takes ages to emerge. Sometimes I scroll through my Friends list on Facebook and randomly select names!

How long did it take you to learn how to step back from your story and self-edit?
It’s a process of constant learning, but you can only self-edit up to a point. Eventually you have to hand it to an editor or it will never reach its full potential.

Who are some of your favourite characters and why?
I have so many favourite characters. Maybe the most well-known are Batman and The Joker. I love the interplay between those two and the way both were formed and how they deal with that.

Currently there’s chatter in the writing industry of white washing (books written by Caucasians where Indigenous characters are shown to be less powerful than their Caucasian counterparts.) Do you think this is true? What are your thoughts on this?
Definitely true to some degree. People are thankfully becoming more and more aware of the need for diversity and representation in the fiction we read. It’s a good thing. I’ve always tried to include a variety of race, sexuality, and so on in my books because that’s the world I see around me. The books were non-whites are somehow lesser are becoming less and less prevalent in this climate and that’s excellent. When they do emerge, they’re called out.

ALEX CAINE TRILOGY QUESTIONS

What inspired you to write your current story / series?
Alex Caine started because I figured I should write a story with a martial artist as the main character as people kept telling me how good my fight scenes were.

What drew you to the Fey and their magical history?
I wanted to return that folklore to its original frightening, violent roots. The watering down of fairy tales over recent decades is kind of depressing when they were originally so dark and twisted and delicious. I wanted to go back to that and put my own spin on it.

What was the most challenging part about writing this series?
Delivering book 3 on time after I sold the trilogy to HarperVoyager in Australia. Books 1 and 2 were written and they wanted book 3 in short order. And, at the time, my son was due in six months!

What were your inspirations in creating Obsidian from a world building perspective?
I honestly don’t know. I had this idea for a city literally grown in the void, and I wanted to create that. So, Obsidian was born!

Who was the most challenging character to write?
Probably Alex Caine himself, as his character arc and journey is long and complicated. Keeping him true to himself and exploring his growth was a tricky balancing act.

Throughout the series, Alex gains strength, grounding, and perseverance through his love for Silhouette who is a strong, female character in her own right. I love the way you portrayed them and their romantic relationship as equal even though the story focussed mainly on Alex’s experiences. So, would you consider yourself as a romantic elements author? And did you think their relationship was integral to the story?
I don’t always include romantic elements in my books, as I don’t think they’re always necessary. But in the case of Caine and Silhouette, I thought it was essential. They save each other through the course of the trilogy and the development of their relationship matches the development of their powers and everything they’re up against. Silhouette is badass and I hope to write more of her one day!

Book Reviews

Mr Baxter’s fight scenes are among the best I’ve read, and I dare you to sit still while reading any of his action scenes rather than duck, dodge, and weave along with his characters. If you like dark, twisted supernatural tales that challenge your beliefs and question your moral ethics, then these are the books for you.

Realm Shift: The Balance (Book 1) Alan Baxter

 

Isiah is having a tough time. The Devil is making his job very difficult.

Samuel Harrigan is a murdering lowlife. He used ancient blood magic to escape a deal with the Devil and now he’s on the trail of a crystal skull that he believes will complete his efforts to evade Lucifer. But Lucifer wants Samuel’s soul for eternity and refuses to wait a second longer for it. Isiah needs Samuel to keep looking for the crystal skull, so he must protect Sam and keep the Devil at bay. Not for Samuel’s sake, but for all of humanity.

RealmShift is an engrossing Dark Fantasy thriller; a fascinating exploration of the nature of people’s beliefs and their effect on the world around them. Magic, action, and intrigue, from dank city streets to the depths of Hell and beyond.

Questioning the orders of a higher power is not part of Isiah’s agenda, but even he finds it difficult to believe a soul as disgusting and vile as Samuel Harrigan’s is worth saving. Would it be so bad to let Satan have him? Samuel believes himself clever enough to cheat the Devil. All he needs is the crystal skull recently discovered in a remote part of the Central American jungle and he’ll be immortal and beyond Satan’s reach. Isiah’s been to Hell and back more than once, but as secrets are revealed, Isiah becomes aware that nothing is as it seems and that even for the most devilish of human souls, they still have their part to play.

I enjoyed this story. One’s beliefs can be a powerful thing and that is evident in this story from how Isiah came to exist to the people he encounters. A soldier in the balance between Good and Evil, the lines are blurred when it comes to doing what he needs to comply with the task he’s assigned. Sometimes as a reader, it’s easy to see the difference, but then the writer twists the story to another viewpoint and you question who is right, who is wrong, and if everything is as clear as it seems. I also liked the way magic weaved its way through the story and the hints and nods toward other supernatural beings and beliefs. Although this novel is a stand-alone, there is more to Isiah’s story in Mr Baxter’s second novel, ‘MageSign.’

MageSign (Book 2) by Alan Baxter

 

Three years have passed since Isiah’s run in with Samuel Harrigan and the Devil. He has some time on his hands - a perfect opportunity to track down the evil Sorcerer, Harrigan’s mentor. It should have been a simple enough task, but the Sorcerer has more followers than Isiah ever imagined, and a plan bigger than anyone could have dreamed.

With the help of some powerful new friends Isiah desperately tries to track down the Sorcerer and his cult of blood before they manage to change the world forever.

In this long-awaited sequel to the highly acclaimed RealmShift, Baxter once again keeps a breathless pace and blistering intensity with gods, demons and humans entangled in magic and conflict. This is dark fantasy at its best.

A dark god is gaining power, its source, the blood practices, rituals, and sacrifices its disciples are performing on earth. It’s only a matter of time before the malevolence breaks through its realm into ours. Once again, Isiah in in the thick of it, desperate to restore the balance of power as it swings faster toward the abyss. This time he has a lead - the evil Sorcerer who taught Samuel, and now others like him, is claiming more bodies, and Isiah is determined the Dominus will pay for his crimes. Only now he has more to worry about than his own immortal soul. There are others amongst the realms who need his help, still more who seek to destroy them, and in the middle of it all, one soul who could change everything.

With the balance of good and evil at stake, each character has his or her own agenda. Each believe they have something worth fighting for, only some minds are so warped and twisted they can no longer see the truth, no longer care, and still the blood calls to them, begs, cajoles, commands and exalts them for power corrupts all. This story travels at such a pace you won’t know what hit you. Best grab hold of Isiah’s coat tails and hang on tight. You’re in for the ride of your life!

The battle between good and evil hangs in the balance, but this story moves at such a cracking pace you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in a spinning top rather than rocking back and forth on the scales. Loved it.

Bound (book 1) by Alan Baxter


“I know your secret."

Alex Caine is a martial artist fighting in illegal cage matches. His powerful secret weapon is an unnatural vision that allows him to see his opponents' moves before they know their intentions themselves. When enigmatic Englishman, Patrick Welby, shows Alex how to unleash a breathtaking realm of magic and power, Alex is drawn into a mind-bending adventure beyond his control.

A cursed grimoire binds Alex to Uthentia, a chaotic Fey godling, who leads him towards chaos and murder, an urge Alex finds harder and harder to resist. Befriended by Silhouette, a monstrous Kin beauty, Alex sets out to recover the only things that will free him-the shards of the Darak. But that powerful stone also has the potential to unleash a catastrophe which could mean the end of the world as we know it.

Alex Caine always knew he was different, that he could see things most people couldn’t. If anything, it was an advantage. But Alex had no idea why, and he isn’t about to follow some strange gentleman home to ‘learn the truth’ even if the decades-old Englishman seems to have the answers he needs. When circumstances force Alex to run, the Englishman is there again, offering him an escape as long as he reads one little magic book. Desperate, and concerned he’ll put his friends in danger, Alex agrees. What harm ever came from reading a book even if no one else seems to know how to read it? But the book reveals secrets to Alex, dark, whispery secrets that want to control him, body, mind, and soul. Alex is going to need more than his own gifts and the abilities of the beautiful, inhuman woman he desires to save himself, especially when it’s difficult to tell where her loyalties truly lie.

Fey magic and mystical mayhem abound in this first novel about a man who’s always battled to survive in this world. Only now it seems he has to fight his own dark desires if he’s going to keep himself and everyone he’s ever cared about safe. He’ll go to his death if he has to, to keep what’s hiding inside him away from the rest of the world, but one thing’s for certain, Alex Caine won’t go down without one hell of a fight.

I loved the underlying base of Fey magic and how Mr Baxter utilised some of the old Celtic tales to seamlessly blend into his story and make them his own. The lengths to which Alex attempted to rid himself of the book’s unwanted gift were tempered by his stubbornness, determination and well-honed survival instincts.

Obsidian (Book 2) by Alan Baxter


The thrilling sequel to the best-selling Bound. Alex Caine is looking for direction and trying to build a new life with his recently acquired magical talents, and Kin girlfriend, Silhouette. He is recruited by a secret organisation to head off an impending doom, foretold by Seers as already somehow linked to his destiny.

Claude Darvill is desperately trying to get in touch with his father, Robert Hood. When the company, Black Diamond, reveals that Hood had gone missing after chasing Alex Caine, Darvill takes over control of Black Diamond and starts hunting Caine himself.

Alex and his crew close in on three amateur mages in Britain's north, who think they have uncovered ancient magic that will reveal great powers. But they are caught in a vortex and pulled through to a strange lost city, isolated in the void. trapped in a place removed from everything they know, ruled by a hierarchy of monsters, Alex and his friends must find a way to escape Obsidian.

In the aftermath of destroying an ancient evil, a secret agency, Armour, approaches Alex and Silhouette with an opportunity to work together, their task to thwart an impending doom foretold by Seers, who seem to know more than they should about Alex. Three amateur mages are meddling in a powerful magic, one that draws not only them, but Alex, Silhouette, and the Armour team into a dark, forbidding realm. And moments behind them is Claude Darvill, for he’s not letting Alex out of his sight until he learns the truth about his father’s mysterious disappearance.

Thrown together in a desperate means for survival, the group discovers the truth about this strange glittering world and its stranger inhabitants along with one frightening reality – there’s a way back, but only for those of Kin blood. When Silhouette refuses to leave his side, Alex knows he has to defeat the ones in power if there’s any hope of escape. Fighting one monster is hard enough – but a score of them? What hope do they have?

This book had so many twists and turns I was guessing (and hoping) the whole way through. Not all enemies are seen, nor all friendships hidden, and certainly not everyone is to be trusted. What I loved most is what a strong and fierce Silhouette is, yet she has no qualms using her feminine wiles to get what she wants.

Abduction (Book 3) by Alan Baxter

 

The past often catches up with you, but when it's Alex Caine's past the results can be deadly.
Alex Caine has been suffering the weight of the world, and some days it's hard to even get out of bed. Alone one night, a band of Fey overwhelm him and steal him away from the mortal realm. Silhouette, desperate to save her lover, calls in Armour, but the organisation seems reluctant to help.
Claude Darvill, his fragile alliance with Alex at an end, is still searching for the remains of his father, Robert Hood. In frozen wastes of Iceland, Darvill is driven by a deep-burning grudge and a need for revenge. His efforts are backed by all the considerable resources of Black Diamond Incorporated.

Silhouette must overcome her greatest fears and use all her skills to locate Alex. But even if she can find him, that's only the start of their problems.

In this third Alex Caine book, sequel to Bound and Obsidian, old enemies and new share a common goal. Alex Caine hates to be the centre of attention, but he and Silhouette need to pull together as the world is threatened once more and only Alex can save it.

After barely escaping with their lives from Obsidian, all Alex and Silhouette want to do is relax and get to know each other better. Well, as relaxed as they can be knowing the Fey are baying for Alex’s blood. When he’s abducted and taken to the Fey realm, where unimaginable torture awaits him, Silhouette must return to the one place she swore she’d never set foot in again if she’s to rescue her lover. But further enraging a Fey queen is the least of their worries because something dark, disturbed, and decidedly demonic has risen from its burial place. And all it wants is Alex’s cold, dying body twisting in its hands, even if it has to destroy all the realms and all its inhabitants to get him.

The trilogy comes full circle in Abduction. Elements from the previous novels combine to ensure the reader remains as ensnared in the book as Alex is with his fate and the knowledge he’s the key to saving not only humanity, but realms of innocents. This is an epic battle between good and evil with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader churning through the pages.

News

I’ll share news of the Rockingham Writers Conference and what I’ve been working on in the next blog. So, I’ll end with a huge thank you to Mr Baxter for his generosity in answering my questions and for sharing some of his precious time with us.

Chat soon!