Monday, 27 October 2014

The Runaway by Nephylim

“The Runaway” by Nephylim,
From Flying With Red Haircrow

“When all you ever wished for is the last thing you ever wanted....”

  • Title: The Runaway
  • Author: Nephylim
  • Publisher: Flying With Red Haircrow
  • Publication Date: September 12, 2012
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance, Gay Interest
  • Length: 290 pages
  • ISBN: 9781301198573
  • Available: Smashwords, All Romance Ebooks & soon other online distributors
  • Book Trailer

Description: “Ciarrai is running away from a past that’s still breathing down his neck. Jack has no past, his memory wiped in the accident that killed his parents. They meet and their lives move forward like stones skimming the surface of the water, dipping into memories that want to surface and those that want to lie buried forever.

Together, they struggle to come to terms with what happened in the past and where they want to go in the future, but can Jack cope with a man who likes to dress in leather mini-skirts and silk kimonos? Can Ciarrai trust Jack with the secrets of his past; secrets he can’t escape, secrets that are snapping at his heels?

When those secrets catch up, forcing Ciarrai back to the life he’d left, a life that was slowly draining his life away, he and Jack’s love is both threatened and tested by forces from without and within.”


Sometimes, Jack wondered if the whole falling in love thing was a product of the head injury, part of the not remembering. Maybe he’d forgotten what falling in love was supposed to be like. Maybe he had forgotten what kissing and holding and staring into beautiful eyes should feel like. Maybe it was because there were no girls and Ciarrai was so pretty and soft and… real. Maybe it was a lot of things but whatever it was, he knew it was wrong.
If Ciarrai had been a girl, would it have been so different? Would he have made a move? Said something? He didn’t think so. Ciarrai was so different, so—beyond him. There was something about him that made him…different. Special. Jack was fascinated, captivated, but he knew Ciarrai would never feel the same about someone like him, someone so…frightened and empty and…shut down. He wasn’t sure what love should be but he had a good idea what it couldn’t be.
Yet, still he came. He couldn’t stay away, and Ciarrai was always happy to see him. He was always welcoming, always ready with a smile and a hug and a happy bounce, even when he’d been sad before. Maybe it was just because he was so lonely, anyone would do. Maybe…. Jack sighed. His head was hurting from all the maybes. There were so many of them in his life. Aunt Jane had brought him here to get away from the maybes, from the pressure. He was supposed to just let things happen and not to think too much about it, but how could he think about anything else?
He didn’t remember his parents or the accident. That, at least, was a blessing. He didn’t think he could cope with that, not yet. As much as he wanted to remember, he didn’t want to remember that. It would help if he could remember himself, though.
The bright light grew closer and he heard singing floating from the open window. Ciarrai sang well. Ciarrai did everything well. He was precise and deft and fluid and, seemingly, fearless.
No one answered when he knocked on the door, even when he knocked harder and harder. He knew the door would be open but he was afraid to simply walk in. What if Ciarrai were naked or something? Now that was an image that could burn itself into someone’s mind. Shaking, he turned the handle and allowed the door to swing gently open.
“Ciarrai,” he called softly, “Ciarrai are you there?”
What a stupid thing to say. Of course he was there. Hadn’t he just heard him singing? Actually, he could still hear him, and he could also hear the soft notes of some kind of music player. Ciarrai often did that, turned down the music so he could sing over it. He didn’t like to sing loudly. That beautiful voice wasn’t made for loud sounds.
“Ciarrai?” There was no reply. He hadn’t really expected there to be, because Ciarrai got completely caught up with the music and he wouldn’t have heard if a herd of elephants stampeded through the house. The smell drifting through the hall suggested he was in the kitchen and if he were cooking, he would be doubly absorbed.
Closing the door behind him, Jack allowed himself to be drawn to the kitchen by his nose. When he opened the door the smell hit him full in the face and it was amazing. Ciarrai was a good cook but he didn’t generally spend much time on it, preferring to throw something together from the freezer and the tins in the cupboard. Tonight, it smelled as if he was making something spicy, curry maybe. Curries were one of the few things Ciarrai liked to cook from scratch. They always tasted so good.
However, as soon as he set eyes on Ciarrai he completely forgot about cooking. For a few moments he forgot about breathing.
Usually, Ciarrai dressed casually in jeans and t-shirt, with trainers. Sometimes he wore pyjamas around the house when he wasn’t expecting anyone to come. They were black. What he was wearing today wasn’t black. It wasn’t….
It was a multi-coloured silk kimono. Delicate flowers wound their way along slender branches and cherry blossoms fell like rain. The silk sighed and swayed as he moved, sliding over the curves of his body in a way that made Jack feel tight. He’d caught up part of his hair and secured it with a silver clip at the back of his head, while the rest fell in golden waves, swishing when he turned his head. Jack bit his lip.
Ciarrai seemed taller, somehow, and it took a few minutes for Jack to realise he was wearing feathered, black, high heeled slippers. Fucking shit.
“Ciarrai?” he croaked and Ciarrai turned with a smile. His eyes were smoky dark, outlined with eyeliner, the lashes unnaturally long. But it wasn’t his eyes that drew Jack’s attention. It wasn’t even his flawlessly powdered and rouged cheeks. It was his cherry red lips, curling slightly in a sweet smile, twisting his stomach and begging to be kissed. What the fuck?
“Hey, Jack,” Ciarrai said lightly, as if there was nothing wrong. “I was making curry. Do you want some?”
Jack couldn’t find his voice. Neither could he take his eyes away from those lips, which were smiling broadly now.
“I think maybe you could do with a drink.”
Jack nodded dumbly and Ciarrai drifted over to the wine rack. A bottle was already open on the counter.  He took out another glass and filled it, returning to hand it to Jack. He wasn’t walking but gliding, the silk swaying and whispering sibilantly.
With an effort, Jack raised his eyes from the cherry lips to the smoky eyes and swallowed hard. “What?” he croaked. “What…?”
“What…?” Ciarrai asked with a grin. Jack shook his head, his mouth dropping open at the husky purr in Ciarrai’s voice. Then Ciarrai dropped the blatant flirtation and smiled a more natural smile, handing Jack the wine. As he took it, he noticed the long, red, lacquered nails. “I’m sorry,” Ciarrai said, laughing. “I’m being cruel. I just couldn’t help it. Your face was a picture.”
“But why?”
“Why what? Why am I cooking curry in a silk kimono?” Jack shrugged and Ciarrai continued. “Why not? I didn’t think anyone was going to see me.”
“Do you…? Do you often…?”
“Wear a kimono? No, not often. Only when I’m feeling….” Ciarrai trailed off. A dreamy smile touched his lips as he stared into the distance, with a faraway look in his eyes. “When I want to feel cool silk on my skin.”
“No. I meant…. I um…meant….”
For a moment, Ciarrai looked puzzled, then he grinned. “Oh right,” he said. “You mean dressing like a woman?”
“Yeah, that would be it,” Jack said, recovering a little and taking a large swig out of his glass. He choked and Ciarrai laughed again.
“Why not? Like I said, I like the feel of silk. I like wearing high heels. I like the way I look with makeup on. I like the way I look in short skirts and suspenders. It makes me feel sexy.” For a moment his face fell. “Not that there’s anyone to feel sexy for anymore.” He shrugged. “Not that there ever was. It just makes me feel good, for me.”
“So um…um…. Do you…? Are you…? You’re not…not…?”
“Not what?” He giggled. “A woman?”
“Er…no; no I’m not. I could prove it if you like.” A wicked gleam lit Ciarrai’s sparkling blue eyes and the look on his face made Jack think of a mouse between the paws of a cat. It was almost predatory.
“No…no that’s fine. I…believe you,” Jack said, shrinking back and almost falling off the stool. Ciarrai laughed.
“So, do you like it?” he asked, twirling and making the silken hair and silk kimono float around him. The heels clacked on the tiles.
Jack swallowed, hard. “I…guess….”
Ciarrai stopped and smiled a gentler smile. “You don’t mind do you? I mean, does it make you feel uncomfortable?” He looked uncertain, and Jack’s heart leaped.
“No…well yea, but not in the way you think.”
“Oh. Okay.”
Ciarrai turned back to the stove and Jack drank most of the glass of wine.
“So are you…?” he asked after a long silence, during which Ciarrai had started to hum. “Are you…?”
“Am I what?” Ciarrai asked, ladling curry onto plates, next to the mounds of rice.
“If you…. If you like to…um…um…dress as woman, does that mean…? Does it mean you’re…?”
Ciarrai looked up and shrugged. “I don’t think it means anything, except that I am what I am, and I’m not afraid to show it.”
“I know but….”
Ciarrai tilted his head to one side and gave him a calculating look. Then he shrugged again. “Am I a transvestite? I guess—part time. Am I gay? Absolutely. Am I embarrassed or ashamed? Absolutely not. I guess I’m just,” he paused, “me.” Shrugging again he picked up the plates and set them on the table. “Come on. Let’s eat before it gets cold.”
Jack found it difficult to eat. It wasn’t that the food wasn’t good, it was. It was that he simply couldn’t take his eyes off Ciarrai. His red lips wrapped around the fork and, occasionally, a pink tongue darted out to lick sauce off them. The long white fingers, with their shiny red tips, caressed the cutlery, or wrapped around the stem of the wine glass. The long lashes fluttered, the silky hair swished and a delicate, flowery perfume, switched his hormones into overdrive. He was overwhelmed. He simply had no idea what to think, what to say, what to feel.
This was Ciarrai, his friend, and yet…and yet it wasn’t. This person was some kind of magical creature, some fey witch, come to steal away his senses, his mind. He ached to reach out and touch him. Any part of him. Anything….
Ciarrai had always been androgynous, and there’d been many times when Jack had been confused by it; confused about the way he felt about it. There had been occasions when Ciarrai had worn eyeliner, when his feminine side had been close to the surface, and Jack could almost have believed….  But this…this was….
“Are you alright?”
“Alright?” Jack repeated, numbly.
“You’re not eating much and you look pale.”
“I…. It’s…. It’s just….”
“Oh. I’m sorry. I forget.”
“Forget what?”
“Forget not everyone thinks and feels like I do. I’ve kind of given up trying to work out what everyone else expects so I kind of…. Now that I’m here, alone, I guess I’ve just…let myself be me. I forget there’s anything wrong with it.”
“Wrong? Hell no. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just…. I can’t….” He swallowed hard again and looked up to find Ciarrai smiling, with such a strange look in his eyes.
“Are you in love with me, Jack?” he asked, and Jack all but fainted.

About The Author:

Born into a poor but loving mining family in the United Kingdom, Nephylim grew up in the beautiful and history rich South Wales Valleys, becoming the first in her family to attend university. As a lawyer practicing Family Law for several years, the profession allowed Nephylim to learn more about human nature at its worst and best moments, and develop empathy and a view of life not limited by social standing or background.

Tapping into the heritage of her people that throughout Earth's ages welcomed the wandering bard into the hearts of their villages as keepers of lore, Nephylim trained as a Druid and brings the richness of her Celtic past and spiritual training to enrich and elevate her writing. Since a child Nephylim has been fascinated with other worlds, which exist within and alongside her own and has reveled in creating worlds and characters for others to enjoy.

Despite lack of family support, Nephylim continued writing privately and eventually found the Gay Authors website. With the positive response and a warm welcome received, she found the confidence to pursue her passion to a greater degree. Feeling gay fiction was a woefully neglected corner of the market where readers were all too often presented with what amounted to erotica, Nephylim strives to write quality gay fiction where sex and sexuality is not the central premise. Instead, concentration is given to character and narrative development through storytelling that goes beyond the physical.

Nephylim still resides in Wales, UK, and enjoys writing, reading, art, and taking part in medieval reenactments.

Author Links:

Interviews with the author:

About the Press:

Opening its doors on October 31, 2010, Flying With Red Haircrow is an independent publisher and writer cooperative with a large range of interests and possibilities who entreats everyone to, “Dance above the surface of the world. Let your thoughts lift you into creativity that is not hampered by opinion.”

We publish: Literary Fiction, Poetry, GLBTIIQ Fiction, Fantasy (Dark, Epic, Speculative), Multicultural, International, Memoir, Psychology, Sociology and more. For those interested in being a part of our team, have proposals or offers, please visit our website for more details.


Five Stars

Ciarrai is running away from a life he didn't choose, a life of fame, fortune and constant unwanted attention. He finally breaks away but freedom isn't all he thought it would be. A chance encounter brings Jack into his life. They heal eachother and Ciarrai is finally able to find himself, to be the person he never knew he was. Then his past finds him, and he leaves Jack rather than subject him to the life he hates.
I almost don't know where to begin. This book has given me some things to think about. Like, what does fame really do to young people unprepared to handle the attention aka Lindsey Lohan. Why is it so difficult to accept people who are different? Why do we judge those who dress differently or love people of the same sex? Beyond making me think, this is a quite beautiful love story between two fragile people. Don't let the description scare you away, this book is well done, there's romance, a bit of suspense, and lessons learned.

The author kindly shared this story with me. I have in turn have left this honest review.

Five Stars

The story, like the fairy tale in the prologue is simply magic!

Jack- A man who is struggling through his present, trying to dive into the lake to get at his sunken, lost past; only managing to skim the surface with the stones he throws into it and
Ciarrai- A man who is struggling to live in the present trying to stay on the surface, to get rid of his past, but only managing to sink all the stones he throws in no matter how much he tries otherwise.
Nephy put them together, discussing techniques, secrets, and their lives, and we manage to see the struggle both of them are trying to make their way through. Somehow they’re fighting the same demon: their past, just from two opposite ends. Each of them strong to the other, but self depreciating.
Sunk in depression, Jack latches on to the phenomenon that is Ciarrai; slowly but steadily getting his life back on track. In return all he can hope is Ciarrai will be there if his past comes back to haunt him.
Instead, its Ciarrai’s past that catches up with them, tears them apart and leaves us in anguish.
There is so much beauty in life: some of it meant to be experienced, some of it just to be admired, and some, just to be left untouched. The Runaway shows us how so many lives can easily be destroyed when we don't really categorise the forms of beauty properly.
There is love, drama, silk, leather, angst and a healthy dose of manipulation in this remarkable novel that takes us for an unforgettable ride through the life of a remarkable man, the Runaway.
I wish I could have given it more than 5 stars, but... yeah!

Kudos again Nephy!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Crimson Son by Russ Linton

Today, somewhat later that intended, I'm very happy to play host to Russ Linton and his 'Crimson Son'. First, let's find out a little about the book, then we'll see what we can discover about the author.


His mother kidnapped, his superhero father absent, powerless Spencer Harrington faces a world of weaponized humans to prove himself and find the truth.

Nineteen-year-old Spencer is the son of the Crimson Mask, the world's most powerful Augment. Since witnessing his mother's abduction by a psychotic super villain two years ago, he's been confined to his father's arctic bunker. When the "Icehole" comes under attack from a rampaging robot, Spencer launches into his father's dangerous world of weaponized human beings known as Augments.

With no superpowers of his own save a multi-tool, a quick wit and a boatload of emotional trauma, Spencer seeks to uncover his mother's fate and confront his absentee superhero father. As he stumbles through a web of conspiracies and top secret facilities, he rallies a team of everyday people and cast-off Augments. But Spencer soon discovers that the Black Beetle isn't his only enemy, nor his worst.

I hope you enjoyed that tasty snippet, and are ready to move on, with me, to find out more about the author who wrote it.

Out of all the characters you’ve written which one has affected you most? Not necessarily which one you like most, but which one ‘got to you’?

The one which got to me the most would have to be the nameless character from a short story I wrote, The Doctor's Session. The character is nameless because the story is a second person narrative intended to place the reader into the character's shoes. Shoes most would cringe at being offered.

He (as I couldn't settle on an unobtrusive way to disguise gender) is a serial killer. The story follows his admission into a psychiatric ward after being arrested for one of his grisly murders. As the story continues, you discover that this was not the first time and in a series of reports and emails from his doctor, we discover that he seems to be successfully manipulating the system in order to be released.

To prep for the story, I watched hours of interviews with real life serial killers. One story, related in this matter-of-fact tone by a giant of a man with the most strangely delicate hands, really grabbed me and I tried my best to get into his head space. I spent days after that in an almost nihilistic funk (staring into soulless eyes will do that to you.)

The story was accepted for the anthology, Mental Ward: Stories form the Asylum, so I’m going to hesitantly say it was worth it.

Which character caused you most difficulty to write?

Eric, the best friend of the protagonist in my novel, Crimson Son. He isn't a particularly hard character to write, but I wanted him to have a shared history with Spencer. Interests, hobbies, even phrases they used.

The problem though was trying to separate their voice. Beta readers commented it was hard to track who was speaking when Spencer and Eric were going back and forth - a little closer than I intended.

So I had to separate his voice out from Spencer. I added a few more quirks and really figured out not what they shared, but how they were different. I also tried to assign most of the f-bombs to Spencer, 'cause that's more his thing. Eric gets more interesting with his exclamations.

When do you do your best writing… morning, afternoon, evening, night?

Afternoon. I’ve fallen into a pattern where I get up and get all the boring, mundane, annoying things done first. Exercise, so I can live long enough to finish my next book; grocery shopping, so my family doesn’t starve before I finish my next book; marketing, so I can have enough money to publish the next book.

After all that, I sit down and get to work. I don’t know if it qualifies for my “best” writing – my best writing might have been completely sober in a Vegas hotel room at –bleh- in the morning. But, afternoon is when I’m finding time to write regularly at the moment.

Which story caused you the most difficulty to write?

I have a story titled, “Servant to None” about a female holy warrior from a fantasy world who has a crisis of faith on the eve of the apocalypse. I happen to think it’s a great story, with this epic climax that involves her wading into a pile of monsters boiling up out of a swamp. There’s a lot of complicated stuff going on –two moons with one in a degrading orbit around the other and social commentary on slavery and gender roles. Each time I’ve taken a stab at fixing it, I can’t seem to get it quite right. I haven’t given up though and hopefully it will be out in print soon.

Which character is most like yourself?

Probably Spencer, the protagonist of my book, Crimson Son. The big difference is that he’s always “on”. A bit hyper, though I was more like that *cough* years ago.

Like him, I’m a terrible smart ass and am fortunate enough to have found a wife that puts up with it. I’m also pig-headed and have no problem wandering into situations where I’m clearly over my head.

Spencer also shares an interest in techy-computer stuff on an experimental, self-taught level (though he’s MUCH better at it than I am.) He also knows more about things I wish I had more aptitude for, like chess or an ability to talk about sports other than “stick hit ball go boom.” Here in Texas, you’re bound to end up in some sort of internment camp when they secede if you can’t speak “sport”.

I mean, I played a bit of football in high school, but don’t bother to keep up with college and NFL teams and I’d rather visit the dentist than watch baseball. The one game I went to with my father and grandfather years ago, my Dad was pretty embarrassed about my heckling of the batters (both teams, I was an equal opportunity harasser) and we never went to another.

Do you have any music that you associate with a character or scene?

When I was fleshing out Eric’s character, Spencer’s nutty best friend, I asked myself what music would he listen to? I wanted a unique sound that I hadn’t heard before but that Eric would totally be into. I surfed around YouTube, checking out electronic, punk, indie bands of all kinds and stumbled across Medic Droid.

The second I heard the synthesized beat startup I knew I’d found it. In fact, even before that, the name alone had sold me. A name ripped right out of Star Wars and a heavily electronic sound and lyrics that were scathing and relentless, they fit Eric to a “T”.

Do you plan your stories and, if so, to what extent?

No. I sit, I write. I have a vague idea of where I think the plot should go but what comes out through the keyboard at any moment might derail that. I try to keep the first draft as fluid as possible and then worry about structuring things in subsequent drafts.

Do you plan your characters?

I often discover my characters as I write. As with my “pantsing” for plotting, I have an idea of what I want the character to be like when I start. Their motivations, how they deal with situations and what kind of quirks they might have which will entertain the reader and make the hero’s journey easier or more difficult. I don’t have any of this written down beforehand, it’s just whatever read I can get on the voice in my head.

Often, I discover skills they have which I don’t. Spencer likes baseball. Sidge, the protagonist in my current work in progress, enjoys sewing. At that point, I start researching, just to make sure I can be passingly convincing and make my characters believable. That might be as deep as I go on “planning” them.

How many times have you started a story and abandoned it?

Not that many. Without digging through my folder, I’d say only three or four. I have maybe a dozen short stories which haven’t sold or which are making the rounds through the slush piles in hopes of selling. I also have several that I finished and decided they weren’t working out and subsequently got put on a backburner status.

The backburner though is getting to a critical heat level…

How many stories do you work on at any one time?

Usually only one, but since I’ve built up a backlog of stories I want to revisit, I’m revising about a half dozen. Many times, I’ll be writing for a specific anthology deadline and don’t have the luxury of stopping to work on something else. However, I’m always working on a longer piece when I’m doing short stories. So, technically, I do work on at least two at a time.

Are there any hidden messages in any of your stories?

Absolutely. Hidden messages, symbols, I probably use them too liberally. I’ve gotten wrapped up in the idea of communicating hidden messages before and ended up derailing the story. That’s when my critique group bats me around the ears and tells me to just fucking write. I do what they say and things get better.

I’ve always struggled with subtlety. When I was running RPGs for friends, they’d often need to drag details out of me, important details which I was squirrelling away like nuts for some undetermined winter. When I finally revealed things, they’d almost always be excited with the plot twist and we could start building the story together again.

I’ve gotten better at it through my writing. Perfected? No. But I have learned that the best hidden messages are those which you don’t consciously try to plant. (See? I just planted my nuts.)

Do you have any other hobbies?

I like gaming in all forms: role playing games, board games, computer games. I‘ve also recently developed a hobby of answering questions about myself. I think it’s like taking selfies only I normally wear clothes and only occasionally have a duck face. All the narcissism but none of the stigma.

Roleplaying games were my gateway drug not to satanic worship and the sacrifice of small animals, but to writing. I was plotting and developing characters well before I wrote my first story and I was world building before I learned how many tables and charts it didn’t actually require. Collaborative fiction with rules and an element of chance, that’s what RPGs are and the improvisational nature of them is great for honing creative skills.

Other hobbies? Unlike many of my gamer brethren, I love to visit places where the body creates that mystical substance, Vitamin D, and the wireless signals are limited to tree-to-tree communication via bird song. Hiking, camping and even a bit of backpacking are all at the top of my list of favorites.

What is your most treasured possession?

I have this ring…

What one thing in life can you not do without (coffee? Music? Sex?)

My family. I tried it for a bit and it sucked. I had a job where I traveled and some years, I’d see the inside of my company car more than I saw my wife and son. Interesting job (boring much of the time punctuated by moments of intense Charlie Foxtrot) and one that I thought I might even retire out of.

Dammit, doing the subtlety thing again. This might be why I was hired. Anyway, I’m talking about my job with the F.B.I. No, it isn’t anything like TV. Yes, they don’t mind you thinking it is.

Six years in and I found I was miserable not watching my son grow up. I was also tired of the office politics and bureaucracy and had an overwhelming urge to NOT be someone’s employee EVER again. Government work does that to you. Either that or it lulls you into mind-numbing routine punctuated by paperwork and rules which you need a spindle of string to find your way out of. By the time you emerge, you’re old and gray and ready to start dining at one of those buffet joints.

The first day I walked my son to school, I knew I’d made the right decision and knew where my priorities lay.

Is there anything you’d like to tell us about your stories, plans, other works in an orgy of blatant self promotion feel free.

For my blatant self-promotion, I simply want to tell everyone if you don’t buy my book, killer robots will destroy your house. I may launch a Kickstarter for my next book and will consider calling off this killer robot assault at one of the pledge levels, I’m not sure.

By the way, my next book has absolutely nothing to do with Crimson Son. As mentioned earlier in the interview, I’m pig-headed and insist on doing things my own way. No vampire trilogies here to skyrocket up the Amazon charts. Just crazy, character-driven fantasy of all flavors written for the young heart and youngsters who are old souls.

My next novel is closer to high fantasy and I’ve been pitching it as “Metamorphosis meets Lord of the Rings in a mandir.” (This is why I self-pub…) The book follows the adventures of Sidge, a member of a bug-humanoid race known as the Ek’Kiru.

Sidge was orphaned as a larvae and raised in a secluded monastery by human monks. The book follows his struggles with identity as a traditional epic fantasy adventure blossoms in the background. In the end, the fate of a world may hinge on his decisions, or it may not. But the most important question is whether he will come to accept himself for who he really is. 

Awesome interview!!! Don't you just love the attitude rolling off it in bucketfulls? If Spencer is anything like his creator I'm going to have one hell of a wild ride once I get on the back of his bike, He has to have a bike of some sort, right? Flashy? Silver and black? Rockets? Go faster stripes? furry dice.., unless the dots are skulls and there are razors hidden around the edges. Anyway, I digress, Take a look at a scintillating snippet from Spencer's world.

The sound of dry leaves cascading downhill gets louder. My forehead lies flat on the cool earth and stubbornly, my head refuses to turn when I try to get a better look. My eyeballs feel disconnected and keep spinning, no matter how hard I focus. I see running shoes and black, ankle-length stretchy pants approaching. Maybe an Augment?

Wiry arms encircle my chest and start to pull. My moon boots catch at an awkward angle along the frame. As much as I’d love to, I can’t get my limbs to cooperate. She lifts and shifts and twists, struggling with my dead weight until the boot comes free and we tumble backwards. Smooth, damp, cool skin envelops my face for an instant and despite the mental numbness, my thawing hormones recognize the source.

Real, honest to God, non-digitized breasts. Goodbye, iPod diva.

The mystery girl struggles to her feet and drags me away from the crash site. Gently, she lays me on my side and kneels. A highlighted strand of dark brown hair has escaped her ponytail, dangling down her cheek. Her eyes glow with green flecks in the woodland light. Her lips are parted as if she’s mid-sentence. No makeup, just sweat and a smudge of dirt, all forming a stunning image.

I feel violently ill. Stabilizing my spinning head and lurching stomach becomes a priority.

I roll over and clamber to my knees, palms flat on the ground. Standing would be a good start. Impressive, even. Heck, it would impress the hell out of me if I can manage to get vertical with the earth moving this much. I stagger to my feet while she keeps her hands poised to stop the impending face plant.

Figuring out some ingenious way of explaining how I crash landed in the woods that a) makes me sound badass, and b) convinces her I’m not an alien invader (unless she’s into that) isn’t working out at the moment. I could say something cool: “Me? I’ve seen worse.” Or go the funny guy route: “I meant to do that.”

Opening my mouth is a big mistake.

I really hope she didn’t like those shoes.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

In the fourth grade, Russ Linton wrote down the vague goal of becoming a “writer and an artist” when he grew up. After a journey that led him from philosopher to graphic designer to stay at home parent and even a stint as an Investigative Specialist with the FBI, he finally got around to that “writing” part which he now pursues full time.

Russ creates character-driven speculative fiction. His stories drip with blood, magic, and radioactive bugs. He writes for adults who are young at heart and youngsters who are old souls.

Local / Personal Bio

Russ lives in Denton, Texas where he writes beside an unnervingly quiet dog with the support of his history-obsessed son and his extremely patient wife. He regularly pursues community service and is currently scoutmaster for his son’s Boy Scout troop. He is a regular at the North Branch Writers’ Critique Group and has honed his craft through creative writing courses with Stanford University’s continuing studies program as well as writing workshops at local conventions.

Russ holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do which was marginally more useful in a former life not making his living from behind a desk. He enjoys the outdoors and when he isn’t leading his scouts on virtual campouts in Minecraft, he’s making them haul their gear across state parks in the North Texas area.

Well, thank you so much for your time and trouble in giving a great interview and writing a fab book, If we're lucky there will be people racing to purchase it even as we read. Go for it!!

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Friday, 10 October 2014


There has been a lot of controversy lately about this interview

In this interview with Oprah, Raven said

 “I don’t want to be labeled as gay. I want to be labeled as a human who loves humans. I’m tired of being labeled. I’m an American. I’m not an African-American, I’m an American,” said Raven.

Later, she was accused of saying she 'wasn't black' and had to issue an apology explaining what she meant.

Personally, I think what she was saying was that she didn't want to be labelled. End of. This is something that is close to my heart because I have been campaigning against negative labels for a long long time.

What difference does it make if you want to love someone of the same sex or a different sex, or both, or neither or you have no gender? Why the labels?

Okay, maybe someone who is out and proud WANTS to call themselves gay/trans/bi and that's absolutely fine. It's their choice. Simple as. It's the negative connotations that go with the label that I hate.

I write stories/books that have gay characters, or characters who are in a relationship with someone of the same sex. In some of my stories a character will say...I'm not gay. I'm not attracted to men in general. I'm just in love with you, because you're you!

I've been slated for not labelling my stories as 'gay' on online story sites and have even had someone say they are 'offended' because they started reading a story only to find out the characters were gay, and I should have warned them. Why? Why should I label my stories as 'gay' or 'm/m' or any other label that identifies particularly the sexual orientation of my characters? Okay it helps the target audience find the book/story, but why should I HAVE to? Why should I worry about someone being offended by my characters.

What are your thoughts. Do you think labels such as 'gay' and 'African American' are good, bad, or purely a matter of choice?

I look forward to reading your comment. You can agree, disagree or not care one way or another, but above all please be respectful of the other point of view. Anyone who isn't will be immediately deleted.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Project X by Nephylim Bonus Scene

Project X was released by Wayward Ink Press on 23 September. It's available for purchase from

Wayward Ink Press

To give you a taste of what you'll find inside the covers, I've written a prologue, introducing the two main characters, This scene is mentioned in the book, but only briefly, from one POV. I think this might give you a little more insight into what's going on, on the inside.

This is an exclusive preview, so enjoy

“For God’s sake, keep your eyes on the road.”
“But have you seen those spires. Look at the windows! Shit, Matthew, we’re going under an arch.”
“We go under an arch to get to the supermarket, Cory.”
“That’s a railway bridge, it doesn’t count.”
“It’s still an architectural masterpiece.”
“If you like that kind of thing. Oh my God look at that! It looks even more like Hogwarts than in the pictures.”
I had to groan at that. Cory’s been on about Hogwarts for weeks. If I’d known he would get so Harry Potter™ fangirl on me, I’d have chosen an ultra-modern university – all chrome and glass. I’d actually chosen one, despite having taken the Oxford / Cambridge entrance exam. Even though they’re the two best and most prestigious universities in the UK, I wasn’t keen on going. I’m a working class boy through and through and brushing shoulders with the upper echelons of society, with their cut glass accents and inbred arrogance, didn’t appeal at all.
Cory told me over and over that it wasn’t like that anymore, and anyway my prejudices about the upper classes were irrational and foundless. Just because someone spoke with a posh accent and was heir to a fortune, didn’t mean they were a bad person. I listened to what he had to say, shook my head and went back to grumbling about being made to feel inferior. It didn’t help that Cory infuriatingly pointed out that any feelings of inadequacy and inferiority would be down to me, not them, and I should at least give it a chance.
Unfortunately we’d both passed the exam, and Cory was so crestfallen when I tried to talk him out of going, I’d finally given in. I always do.
Cory was my very best buddy. We’d been friends forever, although we were an unlikely couple, I have to say. Before anyone gets the wrong idea, ‘couple’ means ‘pair of friends’. We were mistaken for boyfriends often enough but, although Cory’s gay – and I always said if I ever took a walk on the gay side it would be with him – I’m straight as they come.
I’d like to say I was a one woman man, and had a steady girlfriend since junior school. That’s definitely what I wanted – a steady relationship, leading to marriage, a nice house, a couple of children and a dog. Unfortunately, it had never quite worked out that way, and the longest relationship I’d had that far was six months. I thought that one was going to last, until I got the ‘long distance relationships don’t work, and university changes people’, talk the week before. Ah well, there’s a lot to be said for starting over with a clean slate. So there I was, young free and single and about to launch on the greatest adventure of my life.
It didn’t really start right then, though because we’re only there to look around and make the final decision about whether we wanted to come here. If there had ever been a chance we wouldn’t, it evaporated the instant Cory caught sight of the elegant gothic buildings, and had long gone by the time we passed under the arch and followed the signs for the visitors’ car park.
It was a mistake to let Cory drive. His eyes were everywhere but on the road, and how we managed to get to the car park without swerving onto the immaculate lawns, or hitting something, I’ll never know. Fortunately, the car park was almost empty. We were early, of course. Cory wanted to leave at some ridiculous time, like five am, but I managed to contain him for a couple of hours.
The car rattled and hissed, as we chugged to a highly relieving halt. I think it was furthest my poor old banger had ever gone, and she was as glad to arrive as we were. Bless her, she was a bit of a wreck even then, but she was reliable, and even if she wasn’t pretty, she was all mine. Well, mine and Cory’s. We’d saved up together and paid half each. Not that it would have mattered. We were so close we tended to treat just about everything we owned as joint property. Except the computers.
Cory’s a computer genius. He’s seriously amazing with anything to do with computers, from building them, to writing his own code and designing websites and games. Most of our friends, as well as pretty much everyone in both families, has a website or blog designed and set up by Cory. They’re not all well maintained or even used, but they’re there. It’s a testament to his persuasive techniques that even my great-grandmother has a blog, on which she posts recipes and embarrassing photographs of the family; present and past. She might be the only eighty year old in the country to know her way around the internet so well. She’s researching our family tree, and has more friends on facebook™ than I do.
The crazy thing is, that Cory’s genius doesn’t stop there. He’s also freakishly talented at science, especially biochemistry. He actually worked in a real lab in the last year of ‘A’ levels and did some kind of advanced course instead of the bog standard syllabus. I’m totally convinced that one day he’s going to build a cyborg, and I’m not the only one. Characteristically, Cory’s coy about his talents and had no confidence in his ability to be the first person to crack the whole ‘organic/mechanical fusion’ thing.
One of the reasons he was so keen to go to that particular university, was because they’d created a personalized syllabus, so he could study both his passions together. I bet the professors were creaming their pants over him. Not literally, I hope. The last thing I needed was to get involved in a professor/student scandal, and Cory was more than capable of getting into trouble without ever seeing it coming. It’s not just his eyes that are short-sighted.
“Come on, Matthew, let’s have a look around. Maybe we can find the science labs. Oh.” He paused and peered at me, his startlingly blue eyes round behind thick lenses. “The Law Department as well, of course, and the library.”
“That’s what the tour’s for,” I said, laughing at his expression which was a mixture of eagerness and frustration. He was like a kid in a candy store, and had no idea where to go, or what to look for first. I knew what was going on inside that head of his. His mind was racing in about a million directions at the same time, and he was having a hard time remembering I was even there, and that my interests lay elsewhere.
As we stood, procrastinating, a loud screech startled us both, and we looked up, as one, to see sleek, black car heading our way. It skidded on the gravel and threw up a spray that spattered our lower legs with dust as it came to a stop, hardly more than an arm’s length away. Why, with a whole car park to choose from, did it have to land next to us?
For a moment, the car crouched, purring and seeming to watch us with its blacked out eyes that twinkled and flashed in the morning sunshine. Then the engine cut. The air continued to pulse with its sound for a few moments, before true silence fell and we could hear laughter from somewhere in the distance.
The silence stretched until it became oppressive. Who was in the car, and why didn’t they come out?
“Why doesn’t anyone get out?” Cory whispered and, as if he’d summoned something, the doors opened and four people spilled out, laughing and talking in loud voices. How had we not heard them from inside?
My attention was caught by the two girls, who had been in the back seat. They were the epitome of everything I’d dreaded about attending that university. They were loud, brash, and beautiful with shrill, cut-glass accents and short skirts. Everything about then, from their flashy shoes, to the careless swish of their hair and the sunglasses perched artfully on their heads, screamed ‘designer’, and careless chic. They wore their wealth and privilege like badges, emblazoned on everything they did.
Beside me, Cory gasped and my attention immediately transferred to the driver of the car, who had emerged silently, slightly later than the rest. My curious gaze met cool green eyes that stole my breath. I had, and have, never seen anyone so perfect in all my life. The girls were clones, typical specimens of the ‘in crowd’, but him…
Long black hair hung to below his shoulders in a sleek waterfall of silk, broken by an inch wide streak of brilliant blue at the right front. The stunning hair framed a face that could have graced the cover of Vogue™ or gazed down from a catwalk. He was breathtakingly beautiful, with slanting emerald eyes and flawless, china-pale skin.
The boy’s emerald green eyes caught and pinned me so that I could do nothing but gape, unable for some reason to look away. Cory nudged me, but I ignored him. I was afraid that if I broke the gaze, even to blink, the boy would be gone. I didn’t know why I cared, but I did.
Finally. I had to give in to Cory’s insistence, and I glanced at him with a frown on my face. “What?”
“You’re catching flies.”
I growled at him and turned back to the boy.
“Do come on, Morgan,” someone called. “I’m getting dirt all over my Vuittons. They’ll be ruined. And I’m parched, darling. We really must find somewhere decent to get a drink soon, or I’m sure I’ll die.”
Was I mistaken or did a flash of anger cross his face? If it had, it was quickly replaced by something else. I took it as arrogance and distain, although I wondered about that later. Right then it made me angry. How dare he? How dare they? Was I so far beneath them they wouldn’t even deign to acknowledge our presence?
“Nice to meet you, too,” I called after them as they walked away. No one so much as glanced in our direction.
“Wow,” Cory said when the little group had disappeared.
“Yeah. See why I didn’t want to come here? This place is going to be crawling with people like that. Are they really the sort of people you want to spend the next three years with?”
“I’m sure they’re not all that bad,” Cory said, but he sounded shaken and the certainty had leaked from his voice.
“Come on,” I said, even angrier that the rude arrogance of those plastic people, had upset my friend. “Let’s find someone who can point us in the right direction.”
Cory tore his eyes from the place where the group had disappeared, and gave me a weak smile. “Can we look for the labs first?”
“We can spend all day in the labs if you want. It’s not as if it makes much difference to me what the lecture rooms in the Law Department look like.”
Cory brightened immediately, and in moments was babbling again, as he dragged me across the car park to what looked like a main entrance.

The mindless chatter was driving me insane, not to mention the laugh. Oh God, the laugh! I have no idea what I was thinking, going out with Sarah Blythe-Carter. She was a nightmare, especially on long car journeys. With hindsight, I should have insisted we stay at mine the night before, but Sarah’s friend was having a party in the City, so we crashed there. Driving for over an hour, with a hangover is bad enough, without that irritating bray from the back seat sounding like a klaxon in my ear every five minutes.
I don’t even know why I took her on the visit. It’s not as if she was going to be attending the university – or any university. Her intelligence wasn’t her outstanding feature. In fact, she didn’t have many outstanding features, other than that her family was rich enough, and prestigious enough for her not to be intimidated by mine.
Of course, I’d dated…less well connected girls – boys too – but their tendency to get overawed and over-impressed was irritating and frustrating. Better to stick with my own class, as Father continually reminded me. Not that I cared what Father said, or thought, but I got enough shit from him as it was. It just wasn’t worth it. He did too good a job driving away interesting prospects, and it was embarrassing.
The problem was, I got bored. None of them was a challenge anymore, and they were all the same. The whole scene was a hot-bed of politics and in-jokes. It seemed as if everyone constantly had knives drawn ready to plunge into someone’s back; often their best friend, at least former best friend. I can’t, be bothered with it all: never could.
It was better when my mother was alive. We used to go to parties together, and we’d conspire to circumvent Father’s radar with ‘unsuitable’ dates. Of course, I was only a kid then, and it was all for laughs, not because I was seriously looking for someone. I had a lot of fun with a lot of people – innocent, of course.
After she died everything changed. A big part of that was in me. She died in a car accident, and I blamed myself. Of course, I knew deep down I wasn’t to blame, not really, but Father never missed an opportunity to reinforce the ides I was. It sucked the joy out of my life and I’d searched for it ever since.
I certainly wasn’t going to find it with Sarah. I’d got to the point where if she’d mentioned her bloody Louis Vuitton shoes again I might have killed her.
My head was pounding when I turned into the university and I almost missed the sign for the car park. The tyres screeched as I took the turn too tightly and I skidded on the gravel. I almost didn’t see the other car until I stopped in a cloud of dust, right next to it.
I sat with my head on the top of the steering wheel, getting the pounding under control. My head pulsed with the racing of my heart. In normal circumstances the thrill would have excited me, but that day it made me nauseous, and it set the harpie off again.
“What the hell were you doing, Morgan? You almost killed us. If you wanted to get my attention you could just have called. Or were you hoping I’d end up in your lap?”
I raised my face in time to catch her leering in the mirror, and shuddered. A break up was looming in the very near future. I couldn’t stand another day with let – let alone a night. To say last night had been a let-down was being more than kind to the girl. Insipid was a word that sprang to mind.
Wanting nothing more than to get away from her, I got out of the car, vaguely aware she was bitching about her shoes again – then I saw him.
There were two of them, standing next to most battered wreck of a car I’d ever seen. I barely registered the blonde one, but the other….
He was tall, like me, with shaggy, honey brown hair and the most amazing blue eyes I’ve ever seen. I thought, at first they were contacts, but I found out later they weren’t.
I can’t put my finger on what exactly it was about this boy that fascinated me so much, but I just couldn’t look away. He was dressed casually in jeans and a sweater and there was absolutely nothing about him that stood out…except that there was. There was something. Maybe it was the startled expression in his eyes that nevertheless suggested he’d never be intimidated by anything. Maybe it was the way he carried himself, or the way his full lips quirked, and later compressed in a disapproving line. Maybe that’s what did it. He disapproved of me. I love it when someone disapproves of me.
Everything about the boy shouted ‘challenge’ and that was something I hadn’t had in a long time.
If it hadn’t been for the sun, slanting off the many windows surrounding us, I might have stood there longer, and maybe even worked out what it was about the boy that had struck such a chord in me. As it was, the sunlight hurt and I had to put my sunglasses on. That small action was enough to break the connection and it was as if a curtain fell.
It’s strange but it was almost like we’d been in a bubble. Everything around me had faded – except the bloody sun, thank you very much – and now it all crashed in on me again. Sarah’s complaining cut through my head like a knife and the boy flicked her a glance, turning away toward his friend.
There was something about the way they looked at each other than made me think they were more than friends, and the realization cut me deeper than Sarah’s bleating. Oh well. I knew he was a challenge, and I’d never let being in a relationship deter me from trying – whether it was them or me who was already with someone.
I have to admit, though, as I turned away, I couldn’t help being envious of the way they looked at each other, and casually touched. It was as if it was the most natural thing in the world, which of course it was, rather than carefully calculated and socially acceptable. They didn’t even seem aware they were doing it. It must be nice to have a friend like that I thought as I reluctantly followed Sarah in search of something to quench my thirst. Of course, it could only quench one kind of thirst. I was going to have to work on the rest.