Posts Tagged With: fiction

Giveaway time! My short story hit 500 downloads!

I’m psyched to announce my silly little short story, The Coin Collector, has officially hit 500 downloads on Smashwords! Woo!

To commemorate this glorious occasion, I’m going to hold a little giveaway. It’s super easy, and the prizes are super cute. Remember how a few months ago I mentioned I’d printed out my short story in booklets to give away at street festivals?

Pretty booklets all in a row

Pretty booklets all in a row

The prizes for this giveaway are the left-over short story booklets! That’s right, folks — for the low, low price of leaving a comment on this post (in which you can say literally anything you want), you will be entered into the running to win a super exclusive print copy of The Coin Collector, signed by yours truly! I’m going to give away at least three booklets, and possibly more if I get a lot of comments (come on, guys, you can do it!), so get commenting!

So, to summarize:

How do I enter this super-awesome giveaway? Leave a comment on this post — anything at all will do! (extra points if it’s a haiku)

What can I win? An exclusive print copy of The Coin Collector, a hilarious short story signed by the author herself!

That’s all for today, folks. Good luck!


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Categories: Blog-related, Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

“Under Pressure” — an Imminent Danger short story

Remember that mega-giveaway I did a few weeks back? One of the winners was Danielle E. Shipley, and the prize she chose was that I’d write a short story about her and an Imminent Danger character of her choice.

The story is below — feel free to read, laugh, and enjoy. It takes place on the tech-savvy planet Chingu, which will be one of the new locations featured in Chasing Nonconformity (release date TBD). Specifically, the location is a spaceship carwash, since I figure spaceships get dirty and need to be cleaned just like any other vehicle. The protagonist, Dani L (aka Danielle), works at the spaceship wash — it’s shaping up to be just another ordinary day for her, until a mysterious black-clad stranger (*cough*VARRIN*cough*) arrives. In the story they refer to him as “Korlethi”, which is one of his aliases, but it’s definitely Varrin. Promise!

Note that this story isn’t “cannon” — i.e., it doesn’t actually take place within the Imminent Danger overarching storyline. It’s just for fun. Author-written fanfiction, if you will. Nevertheless, read and let thyself be amused!


Under Pressure

a short story written for Danielle E. Shipley

by Michelle Proulx


Dani L leaned against the clear plastic counter of the spaceship carwash, one manicured hand propping up her chin, the other hand flipping lazily through a fashion catalogue displayed on the counter’s built-in touchscreen. The fashion catalogue was for Zephron’s Boutique, a high-end fashion store that everyone who was anyone on the tech-savvy planet of Chingu shopped at. Or, at least, those who had money to burn and time to spare—neither of which described Dani L.

The door to the spaceship wash’s small office slid open with a soft ding noise, letting in a warm breeze from the bustling street outside. The breeze tickled Dani L’s face and pushed her curly hair away from her face—it was dyed an eye-catching shade of neon pink, matching the current fashion trend on Chingu of crazy hair colors and even crazier clothing colors. And beautiful Dani L, despite her minimum-wage job that paid her college bills, was very fashionable indeed.

Dani L looked up to greet her customer, but saw no one standing in the doorway. Did that useless door malfunction again? she wondered, rolling her dark eyes and pushing herself up off the counter. But as she started to step around the corner to trigger the shutting mechanism, she spotted a flicker of movement over by the tall displays by the front windows that advertised hull polishes available for interstellar craft.

“Um … hello?” she called uncertainly, clacking around the counter in her lime green high heels and attempting to peer between the displays to see who was hiding behind. “Can I help you with something, sir? Madam? Alien of indeterminate gender?”

A humanoid male stepped out from the displays. He was tall and dark-haired, his leanly muscled body encased in tight-fitting black clothing. Her breath caught in her throat when his stormy gray eyes locked gazes with her. Then his lips twitched up in a lop-sided smirk. “Sorry if I startled you,” he drawled in a deep, velvety voice.

“Muh,” Dani L said.

The gorgeous stranger seemed to be used to this level of eloquence from women he’d just met. “I hope you don’t mind me hiding in here for a few minutes,” he continued.

Dani L forced herself to breathe—made slightly difficult by the way her heart pounded erratically in her chest. “Why are you hiding?” she finally managed to get out.

He winked. “It’s probably better if you don’t know. For your own safety, you understand.”

She felt heat rushing to her cheeks at the idea that he cared about her wellbeing. “Y-yeah. Of course.”

Then Dani L heard a crash outside, followed by angry shouting. Someone with a gravelly voice bellowed, “He’s here somewhere! Spread out! He’s on foot—he can’t be far!”

It was if someone had upended a bucket of ice over Dani L’s head. All the pleasant tingling this mystery man had triggered in her disappeared, to be replaced with righteous anger. Stabbing her finger out at him, Dani L said, “It’s you they’re after, isn’t it? You’re a fugitive from the law! Admit it!”

The dark-haired man just grinned, his grey eyes twinkling merrily in the front office’s harsh, artificial light. “I may be a fugitive,” he allowed, “and I may be on the run from the law, but those overly-excitable gentlemen outside aren’t police.”

“Then who are they?” Dani L demanded.

“I’d rather not say.”


“Because if I tell you, you’ll laugh at me. And that would ruin this ‘will they, won’t they?’ vibe we’ve worked so hard to establish.”

Some part of Dani L was amused by his quick wit. The other part was horrified that she was about to get caught in a shootout and potentially get her head blasted off. “So, just to clarify,” she said, “you’re not a customer, and you don’t, in fact, have a spaceship you want to send through the washer.”

“Remarkably astute of you,” the black-clad man said, and pulled a sleek striker from his belt. He glanced around the small front office, his gaze stopping on the white door behind the counter. “Where does that lead?”

“Into the washer,” Dani L said. When he started striding toward it, she added, “You can’t go in there! It’s restricted! Employees only!”

“There he is!”

Startled, Dani L glanced over to the front window and saw three burly Chingun gangbangers staring right at her. All were carrying strikers.

“Get down!” her mystery man shouted.

He lunged at her, grabbing her around the waist and driving them both to the floor behind the counter.


Dani L screamed and pressed her hands to her ears, trying to drown out the deafening striker-fire. The front window exploded in a shower of plastic shards, which would surely have sliced her to ribbons if she’d still been standing. He saved my life, she realized, gawking at the black-clad man now crouched beside her.

“Are you all right?” he asked, impossibly calm despite the chaos surrounding them.

“I … yes?”

“Good.” He seized her wrist and hauled her toward him. She slid across the tile, her striped monochrome mini-skirt riding up her thighs. “We need to get out of here. Ready to let me through the ‘employees only’ door yet?”

“I think we hit something!” a gruff voice shouted.

“This is Korlethi we’re talking about!” another voice snapped. “No chances. Get in there and make sure he’s dead!”

Dani L bit her lip, torn between wanting to help the man—Korlethi—who’d just saved her life, and wanting to hide under the counter and pray she didn’t get caught in the crossfire. Then she remembered the way he’d just pushed her to the ground, possibly saving her from serious injury in the process. “I’ll get you out of here,” she said. “But you owe me dinner.”

Her mystery man grinned. “Deal.”

“Lay down cover fire,” Dani L ordered. “I’ll open the door.”

Korlethi crouched on the balls of his feet, angled his striker over the top of the counter, and began firing shots into the front of the store. The zwooshing of his striker and the accompanying shouts of panic of his pursuers mixed together in Dani L’s ears as she jumped up and shoved her hand into the basin of ID gel beside the door. It glowed softly in recognition, and the door slid open.

“Let’s move!” she shouted.

They raced through the door and out into a long, wide, high-ceilinged room—big enough to hold most medium-sized starships. Dani L turned to shut the door behind them, but Korlethi grabbed her wrist and dragged her further into the big spaceship wash area. It was dimly lit, but Dani L could see the shapes of the gangbangers spilling out through the office door after them.

“Follow me!” she said, and led Korlethi behind one of the hulking pieces of machinery that lined the room. It was a pressure washer—incredibly dangerous to be around when the spaceship wash was in operation, but harmless at the moment.


Striker shots careened wildly down the length of the huge room. “Get out here and face the music, Korlethi!” one of the Chingun thugs bellowed, his voice echoing. “You owe Mister Novus eighty thousand tetras! We’ll take it out of your hide if you make us!”

Dani L glanced at Korlethi, and saw him roll his eyes. “You can tell Mister Novus that I would have the eighty thousand tetras if his idiot nephew hadn’t decided it was a clever idea to go joyriding in a police skycar during the middle of the heist!” he shouted back.

“You really are a criminal, aren’t you?” Dani L said.

Korlethi grinned. “It keeps life interesting. Now, are you going to show me the way out?”

She winced. “About that …”

“Don’t tell me. No exit.”

Footsteps pounded along the concrete floor as the gang spread out to look for them, although none were nearby for the time being.

“Well, there’s the huge hatch at the end that the ships come in and out of,” she said, “but I can’t trigger those to open unless someone purchases a wash.”

“Can I purchase a wash?”

“Not unless you have time to fill out a three page questionnaire.” He shot her a disbelieving look. Dani L scowled. “What? You’re a first-time customer! It’s store policy!”

“Then how do you propose we get out of here?”

Dani L drummed her fingers against her thigh, thinking furiously. “Well, we obviously can’t get out the way we came. Those thugs are very much in our way. But … oooh, actually, that could work.” It was a crazy idea, but something about being around Korlethi made her want to throw common sense out the window. “How do you feel about getting wet?”

Korlethi eyed her warily. “I’m not entirely opposed to the idea, given the right context.”

“And if the context is you getting out of here with your head attached to your shoulders?”

“Then I say, drench me.”

Dani L lifted her wrist, where her transparent communicator was strapped. It was hooked up to the store’s computer system, allowing her to access the mainframe remotely. She raised the wristband to her mouth and whispered, “Activate self-cleaning cycle.”

“What was that?” Dani L heard one of the gangbangers demand.

“That,” she shouted, lowering her wrist, “is the sound the self-cleaning cycle makes when it’s about to start. In exactly twelve seconds, this entire room will be filled with jets of high-pressure water that will literally strip the flesh from your bones. If I were you, I’d run.”

There was the briefest moment of silence. Then someone shouted, “RUN!”, and she heard footsteps hammer toward the office door.

“We can’t go that way,” Korlethi said.

“Nope,” Dani L agreed, darting out from behind the pressure washer, which—like all the machinery lining up and down the sides of the room—was heating up and whirring to life. As she broke into a run along the center of the huge hall, she shouted over her shoulder, “There’s an equipment locker by the exit hatch that can seal airtight—see that blue panel?”

There was a flurry of movement to her left, and Dani L glanced over to see Korlethi running beside her, not even breathing hard despite the rapid pace she was setting despite her high heels. “You mean the panel about a hundred yards away?” he said.

“That’s the one!”

“And how long will it take for the self-cleaning cycle to start?”

The first pressure washer at the far end of the room started up, and then the second. There were only ten washers in the room, and Dani L and Korlethi were still at least fifty yards away from the equipment locker.

“We’re not going to make it,” Korlethi shouted.

Dani L raced on, her lungs starting to burn and her eyes to water. “We can make it!” she insisted.

“Not at this speed!”

She felt hands close around her waist, and then suddenly she found herself hauled over Korlethi’s shoulder. Dani L felt the breath knocked out of her as he put on a burst of speed and fairly flew across the damp concrete floor, carrying her along with him. She tried to scream, but there was no air left in her lungs to produce even a squeak of terror.

The sixth washer started up, and then the seventh. Balanced on his shoulder and facing backward, Dani L could do nothing but gape at the jets of high-pressure washer as they cascaded down the room, filling the room with roaring water that drowned out all other noises. This is it, she thought, and she could almost feel the water smashing down on her, cracking her ribs and crushing her body. This is the end.

Then the world fell away from under her and everything went dark. She felt something warm and hard wrap around her body, clutching her tightly. For a panicked second, she thought that the water had engulfed her, and that this was what it felt like when thousands of tons of water dragged you down into their icy embrace. Then she realized the thing wrapped around her was warm, not cold. It’s not water—it’s Korlethi! We made it! We’re in the locker. We’re safe!

Dani L and Korlethi huddled in the locker for what felt like forever, clinging to each other in the darkness, waiting out the torrent of water. She could feel his heart beating rapidly in his chest, and remembered that last sprint to the locker. I’ve never seen anyone move that fast. How did he do that?

Eventually the roar died away, and the locker door slid open. Dani L and Korlethi tumbled out onto the wet floor, sprawling on the hard concrete as the midday sunlight streamed in through the now-open hatch at the end of the room.

“We … survived,” she gasped. Her hair and her clothes were quickly getting soaked from lying on the floor, but she didn’t care—she was still having trouble grasping the fact that the water hadn’t killed them both, as it rightly should have.

“Of course we did.”

Dani L looked up, and saw Korlethi crouching beside her, grinning. He offered her his hand, and she took it with a groan. As he pulled her upright, she added, “How did we survive?”

“I’m fast.”

“I noticed.”

He glanced through the open hatch to the bustling street beyond, and then back to her. “I need to get out of here before those idiots figure out there’s another exit and come looking for me.”

Dani L realized that meant he was leaving. After everything that had just happened—even though barely five minutes had elapsed from start to finish—she couldn’t fathom him just walking away and potentially never seeing him again. As he turned to leave, she darted forward, grabbing the sleeve of his black jacket. “Wait,” she protested. “You owe me dinner.”

He winced. “I did say that, didn’t I?”

“I take it that means no dinner.”

“I need to get off-planet.” He waved his hand in the vaguely upward direction. “I have a job lined up for IFTAP that I’m already days behind on. Mister Novus’s idiot henchmen intercepted me on my way back to my ship.”

“Can’t you put off the job for a few more days?” Dani L asked.

“A few days either way doesn’t make a huge difference for me, but seeing as I’m supposed to be rescuing some pathetic terrestrial who got mixed up with the Ssrisk … well, I probably shouldn’t push it any further, don’t you think?”

Dani L sighed and scowled down at her lime green shoes. “I guess not,” she muttered.

Then she felt a hand on her chin, lifting her head. She looked up to see Korlethi’s gray eyes twinkling at her. “I’ll have to pass on dinner,” he said. “But I think I could spare a second for dessert.”

Then he kissed her. It was a toe-curling, spine-tingling, heart-spasm-inducing kiss that had Dani L’s insides melting and her head swimming. She clung to him as they molded their mouths together, breathing each other in, reveling in the sensations. His hands dug into her waist, pulling so hard against him that she worried she’d lose herself entirely in his embrace—and then felt foolish for worrying about such a thing, as it was the most wonderful thing she could possibly imagine happening.

He pulled away, leaving her breathless and gasping for more. Her eyes had shut the instant his lips touched her own. When Dani L opened her eyes again, he was gone.

Categories: My Works, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Cover reveal! “The Song Caster” by Danielle E. Shipley

Cover reveal time! Danielle E. Shipley’s fourth book in the Wilderhark Tales series, The Song Caster, is coming out on June 24th. Check out the cover below!

Song Caster Cover, front


Back o’ book blurb:

The dull doom of impending marriage at his back and a reticent royal at his side, remarkable minstrel Gant-o’-the-Lute is off in search of adventure, and you can be sure he finds it – complete with much music, magicked maidens, and a dangerous power so great, Lute might for once find himself outmatched.

The Song Caster

Book Four of The Wilderhark Tales

 <> ~ <> ~ <>

 An enchantress’s curse turns a spoiled royal into a beast; a princess’s pricked finger places her under a hundred-year spell; bales of straw are spun as golden as the singing harp whisked down a giant beanstalk – all within sight of Wilderhark, the forest that’s seen it all.

 You’ve heard the stories – of young men scaling rope-like braids to assist the tower-bound damsel; of gorgeous gowns appearing just in time for a midnight ball; of frog princes, and swan princes, and princes saved from drowning by maidens of the sea. Tales of magic. Tales of adventure. Most of all, tales of true love.

Once upon a time, you knew them as fairytales. Know them now as Wilderhark’s.


danielle_author photoAbout the Author:

Danielle E. Shipley’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. …Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: Packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them. She’s also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who home schooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble. When she’s not living the highs and lows of writing young adult novels, she’s probably blogging about it at Her first novel, “Inspired”, is now available through J. Taylor Publishing.


Book Details:

Full Title: “The Song Caster (Book Four of The Wilderhark Tales)

ISBN: 978-0-9891846-3-2

Genre: Young Adult Fairytale

Length: Novella (212 pages)

Release DateTuesday, June 24, 2014

Future availability: Paperback ( and eBook ( and


Add “The Song Caster” to your Goodreads shelf today!


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Categories: Blog-related | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Book Review: Cannibal Hearts (by Misha Burnett)

Important note: The book being reviewed below is the sequel to Catskinner’s Book


The Bookcannibal hearts

Cannibal Hearts

The Genre

Sci-fi / Mystery

The Author

Misha Burnett has been writing poetry and fiction for around forty years. During this time he has supported himself and his family with a variety of jobs, including locksmith, cab driver, and building maintenance.

The Plot

A year ago James Ozryck was a loner, forced to keep the world at bay by the alien entity he calls Catskinner who shares his body. Now he has found a community of others whose lives have been changed by the Outsiders.

Along with Godiva, his half-human lover, James runs a property management company that serves as a front company for Outsider activities.

When the pair’s mysterious boss, Agony Delapour suddenly shows up in town with a new project, however, things gets dangerous fast as events unfold that threaten the life that they have made.

The Review

Despite its admittedly dark and gritty nature, I had a lot of fun reading this book. It’s a great sequel to Burnett’s first novel, Catskinner’s Book, and I especially liked that all the characters I enjoyed in the first book made their way into the second book. One of my personal favorites is the red vixen, Miss Agony Delapour, who played a minor and terrifying role in the first book, but happily gets much more screen time in the sequel.

One theme I really like that runs through the series is that we’re never quite sure what’s going on with everything. We’ve got our protagonist and his associates, who are actually more bad than good, some of whom try to actively do good things and fail, while others are clearly bad but just happen to be working with good people for their own nefarious purposes. And we’ve got our antagonist, who’s the dictionary definition of “mysterious” – we don’t know who he is or what he’s planning, beside the fact that he’s apparently trying to kill off the protagonist. And the fate of the antagonist is just brilliant. You’ll have to read to find out what it is!

All in all, a thrilling read! I recommend you check this out if you’re a fan of sci-fi, thrillers, or mysteries.

The Rating

Five out of five blood-encrusted stars.


Check out Cannibal Hearts here!


Unrelated media of the day:

This is a really cool game my brother showed me the other day. It’s really off the wall and bizarre, so check it out if you have a few spare moments and want a nice escape from reality!

Categories: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Reached 200 downloads on my silly short story!

200 downloads on The Coin Collector! Booya! I believe this means that people have officially downloaded my short story more than my debut novel. Ah well. The short story is short, not to mention free, so I suppose it makes sense. Still, happy day! Round numbers are awesome.

Speaking of short stories, a lovely lady in my writing critique group just published a short story called Chameleon – check it out here. I’ve only read the preview thus far, but it looked pretty darn good, so check it out if you’re looking for a quick read of the sci-fi/action/spy thriller variety!

In other news … yeah, I have no other news. Well, actually, I have officially started re-writes for Chasing Nonconformity. Two paragraphs down, several hundred to go! I stuck my notebook back in my bathroom and took out all the books so that I have no choice but to write during my morning … let’s call it a “sojourn”.

I also have a question for all you WordPress-literate types. My page views and “likes” have been down in recent months, mostly due to me being very lugubrious in my posting frequency, but I still get a few new people following my blog every day. So, no raise in views/likes … but new followers every day. Very suspicious. Any thoughts on this bizarre phenomenon? A mass conspiracy by the internet to mess with me? An unintended and inexplicable result of the recent American government shutdown? Could the United Platypus Alliance be involved?


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Categories: My Works, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

Guest Post: 10 Safety Tips for 10 Fictional Cannibals (London McGuire)

Today’s guest post comes to us from London McGuire, who has a fun, cannibal-themed post to keep us entertained on this dreary Wednesday!


10 Safety Tips for 10 Fictional Cannibals

Cannibals – they truly are what they eat.  Perhaps the most terrifying thing about them is you don’t know what they are until it’s too late. You don’t know what’s truly inside until you ARE inside … literally. However, for being such sinister figures, we sure do love to watch them work.

Turn on the television and there’s a show about a cannibal. Open up a book and there’s a cannibal. And, of course, there are the movies – both new and old – all featuring humans with a hunger for other humans. There’s just no getting away from it but, lucky for you, there are some tips* to avoid becoming part of the cannibal’s carnivorous cuisine.

*DISCLAIMER: These tips are for the 10 fictional cannibals listed below. There is no guarantee that these will work with any of the real-life cannibals you likely encounter in your day-to-day routine without even knowing it – the barista at Starbucks, the mailman, perhaps, your next-door neighbors, etc.


1. Recognize Wordplay Early into the Game

Hannibal Lecter – you knew he’d show up at some point, so let’s get him out of the way in this first tip. Whether you’ve read him in the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon, seen Anthony Hopkins manifest him in movies, or caught Mads Mikkelsen’s portrayal in the television show Hannibal – one thing fictional man-eaters have taught us is that they love some good old-fashioned verbal repartee.

Whether it’s something subtle like:

“… I’m having an old friend for dinner.”

Or something a little more obvious:

“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”

If someone says they want to “have you for dinner, sometime” or they compliment you with things like “your house is simply murderous,” that’s probably a red flag. Recognize the signs! Some of these playful predators can’t help but telegraph what’s going to be on the menu.


2. Try Not to Be Such a Loner

In the Walking Dead comic series, Rick and his band of world-weary survivors had cannibals of the undead variety to deal with. Things, however, took a much darker (if that were possible) turn when they encountered Chris and the hunters in the 2009 story arc Fear the Hunters.

Fan favorite Dale lost his leg after a zombie bite, which was a real bummer. However, that failed to compare to what happened next when the cannibalistic hunters found him wandering off on his own. Rick and his superior numbers got the drop on Chris’s group, but the damage had been done and Dale was no more. The thing to remember about cannibals is that, as terrifying as they are, they are by no stretch of the imagination the majority. Strength in numbers.


3. Get to Work on Your Cardio

It might seem like poor counsel to make yourself healthier (or more wholesome) when dealing with cannibals, but then how else would you be able to outrun Fat Bastard? Ah, yes, Fat Bastard – the comical antagonist from Austin Powers the Spy Who Shagged Me. He was fat, he was obnoxious and, oh yeah, he craved the taste of baby flesh. Yeah, when it comes to fight or flight, sometimes flight is your best bet … so get to work on your cardio!


4. Identify the Exits Before You Enter

Even the humblest lodge can seem like a twisted, endless maze when you’re being pursued by a cannibal. It’s funny how the mind can really play tricks on you when overwhelmed with thoughts of being devoured bite by bite. This was proven time and time again throughout the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise which featured an entire family of cannibals – the Sawyers.

Of course, one of the more notable Sawyers that managed to outshine the notorious Leatherface was Chop Top. Ol’ Chop Top Sawyer was especially scary because of his otherwise personable mannerism.  A Vietnam vet who took a few too many to the head, his actions and attitude resembled that of a flower power hippy … that ate people.

Whether it’s Chop Top, Leatherface, or any other childishly-named nightmare creature “inviting” you in, get a feel for the exits if you can.


5. Try to Be Wary of the Help

Sweeney Todd gave new meaning to “taking a little off the top” when he went on a murderous rampage with a straight razor and a wise idea – turning the bodies into meat pies. Granted, not every barber with a straight razor is out to get you (probably) but, when faced with a service that puts you in a compromising position, such as a shave, it’s prudent to remember that it’s 2013 and you can buy decent razors almost anywhere. No need to tempt fate.


6. Leave a Note Before You Leave

It’s usually wise to leave a note if you plan on going somewhere – especially if that somewhere happens to be a rural town in the Welsh countryside. The members of the hit TV series Torchwood learned this lesson the hard way when they were investigating mysterious disappearances in the country village of Brynblaidd in the infamous Countrycide episode of Season 1. The Torchwood team soon discovered the source of the Brynblaidd disappearances – the cannibalistic villagers.

Stranded in the middle of nowhere, they were cut off from outside communication and absolutely NO ONE knew where they were. Luckily, as they often do, the team managed to come out of the ordeal intact … physically.


7. Don’t Overlook or Underestimate the Quiet Ones

Silent but deadly is one way you could have described Sin City‘s iconic human-monster “Kevin.” Looking to make a clean break from the “nice guy” image he built in the Lord of the Rings films, Elijah Wood decided his next big role would be the silent cannibal of the 2005 Sin City film. What made Kevin particularly memorable was the complete lack of anything obviously resembling a human soul. Whenever you DID see his eyes past the obscuring glare of his glasses, the gaze was vacant, and whenever he fought, his moves were agile like an animal and lacking any mechanisms or mannerisms resembling humanity.

What really sold the creep factor on this cannibal, though, was when he finally got his comeuppance at the hands of equally creepy vigilante, Marv. Even with half his body eaten by a wolf and his head slowly hacked away with a saw, Kevin never ONCE utters a sound and smiles serenely the whole time.


8. Don’t Waste Time Appealing to Their Humanity

The only thing more dangerous than just any old cannibal is a cannibal who actually thinks they’re right with God and, frighteningly enough, most of them have reached this point. How do you think they go on living with themselves? It’s probably cheating, but we’re going to list off another cannibal from Sin City – Patrick Henry Roark.

Not only did he keep silent about Kevin’s actions, he willfully joined in on the feasts. The really messed up part about it, though, is that they both, especially Patrick, believed they were inheriting the sinful souls of all the prostitutes they cannibalized. They believed they were delivering them to salvation. Try reasoning with that? You can’t. When faced with a cannibal, indicting them on their actions may not be the best use of your time – they are fully aware of what they’re doing.


9. Be Careful Who You Tell Regarding Cannibals

While we mentioned, earlier, that cannibals do not make up the majority of humanity (and hooray for that), that doesn’t mean they don’t stick together. Probably the largest group of fictional cannibals around is the Soylent Corporation. They not only regulated cannibalism, but made it mainstream.

You often hear about people mysteriously disappearing when they stand against the corporations. In the case of the Soylent Corporation, however, they aren’t going to simply “make you go away.” That would be wasteful.


10. Never Ever Leave the House Again

Among their litany of devious qualities, cannibals also carry another quality – their ability to blend with the rest of us. Many of the cannibals we’ve listed demonstrate this quality, but probably one of the more iconic ones is Patrick Bateman. Now, forget what you know about American Psycho and forget EVERYTHING you’ve seen of the Nolan Batman films.

Take one look at Patrick Bateman and tell me you think he’s a cannibal. That’s the real horror behind these “unique” individuals – they know how to blend. That’s why, if all else fails, maybe the best piece of advice on this list is to simply never leave the house. You just can’t tell.

Besides, you can buy pretty much everything you need online from groceries to cars. Who needs to socialize? Who needs to date? Some of us like being single and uneaten …


London McGuire is a freelance writer and blogger for In addition to the horror and thriller genres, she enjoys writing about sports, great food and anything related to television or movies. Follow her on Twitter @londonmcguire.

Categories: Guest Post | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Book Review: A Construct of Angels (Andrew Toynbee)

The Bookconstructofangels

A Construct of Angels

The Genre

Urban Fantasy

The Author

Andrew Toynbee has been writing in various genres since he was eleven years old, including publishing articles in various specialist magazines. After his first novel attempt became too big and unwieldy to manage, he changed tack and, in 2009, began work on A Construct of Angels.

The Plot

After accidentally triggering the spontaneous resurrection of a dead student, an ordinarily routine day for York-based paramedic Sara Finn erupts into a series of events that propel her on a terrifying journey, promising to forever change her pragmatic opinions of life and death. Sara finds herself caught in the crossfire between warring forces, powerful beyond human comprehension, that threaten to plunge civilization into hellish chaos and eternal darkness.

The Review

I quite enjoyed this book. The main character, Sara Finn (a pun on “seraphim”, which I love!), is feisty and determined and a great heroine in general. She has to deal with all sorts of unimaginable horrors over the six days leading up to the possible-Apocalypse, and even though the big bad guy goes so far as to invade her dreams and mess with her head, she stays strong and doesn’t bend to his will (well, not when it matters, anyway!).

I really loved the start of this book — a dark star driving people crazy, zombies rising from their graves, etc. It was a very cool concept, and I felt very grounded in her messed-up world. As the story progressed, I got a bit lost in what was happening; the book is quite long, and I feel the story lost its focus in the middle. The ending, however, was appropriately apocalyptic, and featured some great scenes (dancing zombies!) that effortlessly pulled me back into the story and the explosive finale.

A long read, but a good one if you’re a fan of urban fantasy or the angels vs. demons concept!

The Rating

4 out of 5 stars.


Click here to check out A Construct of Angels!

Click here to visit Andrew Toynbee’s blog!


Unrelated media of the day:

Random, amusing K-POP video urging listeners to “Get your “cray” on”.

Categories: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

My crazy new idea for a book series

I have a crazy new idea for a book series. I’m not talking about the story or characters or anything (although they will be epic!). I’m talking about the structure of the series itself.

Here’s my idea. Ready?

So I was watching The Avengers a while back, and I thought the concept of having a handful of origin stories followed by an ensemble film, followed by more individual hero stories, followed by another ensemble film, etc. etc., was a really cool idea. And then I thought, “Has this been done with books? Could it be done with books? Why is cheesy popcorn so delicious, and yet none of my local theaters sells it?”

Existential popcorn question aside, I took this idea and have been running with it. What I currently have planned (everything is still in the outlining stage at this point), is a series of books which will be comprised of four “origin” stories, followed by an “ensemble” story, and then potentially splitting back off again to the individual characters for more adventures.

Here’s a terrible line-drawing of vaguely how the series would work:

avengers style book seriesNow, when I suggested this idea to the gentleman who critiqued Imminent Danger a few weeks ago, he said that the idea would never work. According to him, this sort of series has never been attempted because it just plain won’t sell. He suggested that instead I fit those four “origin” stories into one novel, and have the climax of that novel be whatever climax I was planning to use in the first ensemble story.

I think part of the reason it could actually work really well is because I would be self-publishing it. Meaning I could price the origin stories very low (or some of them, at least), in order to garner attention and gain fans. Or have free giveaways, set one of the origin stories permanently free, bundle them all up in an anthology once they’ve all been released, etc. etc. I’m more focused on writing them than marketing them at the moment, but still … important things to think about!

So … what’s everyone’s thoughts on this? Do you think a book series modeled in the “Avengers ensemble” style could possibly work? I’m hoping some of you will say “yes”, because I think it’s a really fun idea! But if you think it’s doomed to failure, don’t hesitate to tell me why. All information is good information!

Update: I thought you guys might be amused to know that the working title for this project is “SWAG RAVEN” — as in, a raven with lots of swag.

Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 67 Comments

It’s my birthday! + The Next Big Thing Award

First and most importantly, today is my birthday! Woooo! I turn 24 today, which kind of makes me wince, because I assumed I would be doing great things by my near-mid-twenties. That being said, I have a decent job, good friends, and my first book is nearly published, so I guess that’s not too shabby, right? Plus, sushi tonight! Sushi makes everything better.


Right. Now that the main event is over, let’s move on to the other reason for this post: The Next Big Thing Award.


When it rains, it pours, and I have been nominated for this award three times in the past week. So thank you to Mike Akin, The Living Notebook, and Mari Wells for the nominations!

Without further ado, I shall now answer the 10 Next Big Thing questions. Read at your peril.

1)  What is the working title of your novel?

Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It

2)  Where did the idea for the novel come from?

I was taking an Astronomy class in my first year of university, and as I sat listening to my professor regurgitate the contents of our textbook, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be funny if someone who didn’t believe in aliens got abducted by aliens?” Originally the main character was going to be a college Astronomy professor, but then I realized that I would far rather write about someone more my age (plus I have no idea what goes on in college professors’ heads), and thus Imminent Danger was born.

3)  What genre does your novel fall under?

Imminent Danger is YA sci-fi/humour/romance.

4)  Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I imagine my characters with different faces every day, but here are my current (slightly impossible) picks:

Young Keanu as Varrin

Emma Watson as Eris

5)  What is the one sentence synopsis of your novel?

Abducted by aliens and stranded light-years from home, a teenage girl is rescued by a handsome mercenary who puts her planet, her life, and her heart in the clutches of imminent danger.

6)  Will your novel be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published all the way, baby!

7)  How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I finished the first half-ish of the book during the 2006 NaNoWriMo, and then wrote the rest of it over the next six months. I then proceeded to revamp and revise it for approximately six years. I’m sensing a “6” theme here …

8)  What other novels would you compare this book to within your genre?

The humour in my novel is similar to The Princess Bride, and the feel of the story is very Star Wars.

9)  Who or what inspired you to write this novel?

As I said, my Astronomy teacher. Because he basically re-hashed everything we’d already read in our textbooks, I had lots of time in his classes to dream up the plot for Imminent Danger.

10)  What else about your novel might pique the reader’s interest?

Other than the fact that it’s awesome? Well, it has dashing space pirates, six-armed lizard men with an obsession for the colour blue, fluffy-haired gurus, laser-repellent monsters, spiffy spaceships, evil laboratories, sentient balls of light, and much more. It’s got romance, action, comedy, tragedy, danger (of the imminent variety), and a multitude of abductions. Oh yes, and did I mention it’s awesome?

Right! Now I’m supposed to nominate people. I hate this part, because there are so many awesome writers out there on WordPress that I don’t want to snub anyone by not nominating them. Ahhh, the pressure! Okay, here’s what we’re going to do. Everyone who gave editing suggestions on my recent post about Imminent Danger’s back cover text get nominated. Ready?

If I missed you, then my eternal apologies. I officially nominate you in my capacity as birthday girl.

Unrelated link of the day:

Fun with words:

Categories: Blog-related, My Works | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

In my eternal attempt to avoid doing work, I was once again meandering about the internet, looking for entertainment. I came across this article: Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.

What’s very cool about this article is that it doesn’t just give ten rules. It gives you ten rules from each of about a bajillion different authors from various genres and backgrounds. This means that some of the rules contradict each other, which I found very interesting. It goes to show that what works well for one author will have absolutely no relevance to another author. Writing is truly about personal taste, which is part of what makes writing such a daunting task — there is no “How To” guide that speaks individually to each author. You have to make up your own, and then tweak and refine your list until you figure out what works for you.

I’m not a famous author, but I thought I’d share my own Ten Rules for Writing Fiction with you. Partial credit for the list goes to Linda Schneidereit, my mother, muse, and mentor. Without further ado, here they are!

Michelle’s Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

1. Write to your audience. This means putting yourself in the reader’s shoes, imagining how they will react when they read your story, and using themes and language that are appropriate for that age and gender range. Don’t even think about publishing until you’ve gotten a real live member of your intended audience to proof read the book. They are a better judge of what they like than you are, so listen to them.

2. Write what you’re passionate about. This applies doubly to projects that require research. Some people can spend hours upon hours researching every detail of the historical era they’re trying to recreate. Others can’t. If you can’t, then don’t force yourself. Write something you know more about, something that won’t make you want to beat your head against a wall until you crack open your skull. Which leads into the next rule …

3. Whatever you do, don’t think of writing as “work”. If you do that, you’re sunk. Imagine getting home from your 8-10 hour work day, then sitting down at your computer and working three or four hours more. That’s not fun, and that won’t produce good writing. Stop writing, take a break, come back later. Writing is supposed to be enjoyable.

4. Don’t become too attached to any one part of your story. You’re going to have to change a majority of what you write, be it phrasing, character development, or even the entire plot. Loving your creation is a good thing, but smothering it with unwarranted affection is not. Be brutal with your edits. It will make your story better, and make you a better writer.

5. Get someone else to edit your writing. Preferably this will be someone with a literary background, who reads a lot, or even just someone who is fairly intelligent. Spell check won’t catch logical flaws or plot inconsistencies in your story any more than you will. Know why? Because you wrote it, and it makes sense to you — you wouldn’t have written it otherwise. It takes an outside opinion to point out the problems, and I guarantee you, there will be problems.

6. Make sure your characters speak uniquely. Each character should have their own voice. This could be something as simple as having an accent (Hagrid, anyone?), or something more complex, like using overly flamboyant language, or saying “like” a lot, or using poor grammar. Choose a passage of dialogue and take out the “he said” and “she said”s. If you can’t figure out who is saying what, you need to rethink their speech patterns.

7. Don’t bog things down with description. A paragraph explaining where the characters are is fine. Three pages of description is too much. How many people have read Lord of the Rings and skipped over page after page of descriptions of trees, rivers, and assorted scenery? Your reader needs to know where they are in the world you’ve created. That’s it.

8. Close your internet browser. It will distract you. Even YouTube can be harmful, especially if you’re not using a playlist. Open it if you need to research a fact or Google a name, then close it immediately.

9. Listen to music. Pay special attention to the lyrics. Musicians are story-tellers through song. Imagine the characters in your novel singing the words, then figure out why they are saying these things. Music evokes emotions in people in a way that few other things can, and it can serve as an excellent muse when you don’t know what to write next.

10. Don’t let other people bring you down. Sharing a great new story idea with someone, and having them flat-out tell you they think it’s terrible, or that they don’t like it at all, can be extremely disheartening. Remember that you’re the writer, not them, and that you can write whatever you damn well please. Even if they don’t like what you’ve written, or something you intend to write, there are over six billion people in the world. Odds are, you’ll be able to find an audience somewhere out there who’ll love your creation just as much as you do. So grab that keyboard, or pick up that pen, and get writing!

I’m sure I have many more rules floating around in my head, but these are the ones that come to mind. I’d love to hear your own list of writing rules, so please feel free to leave them in the Comments section, or provide a link back to your own blog. And check out the article link, because there are a lot of really great tips buried amongst the hundreds of writing rules.

Awesome pic of the day:

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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