Brother’s Keeper by Kristin Janz – Free Story Extract

In Kristin Janz’s “Brother’s Keeper” we meet Aleine who can’t stand her annoying younger brother Imry. The problem with Imry is that he never gets in trouble for anything. Plus he was born with the ability to do magic, an ability Aleine desperately wishes she had.  But now Imry is in danger, and Aleine is the only one who has any chance of rescuing him in time.

Visit the page for Fantasy Short Stories: Issue 2 if you want to order a copy to read more of this and other stories.

Free Extract from “Brother’s Keeper” by Kristin Janz

Aleine knew better than to be hanging around the ruins outside town when she was supposed to be gathering herbs. But she was desperate to make this magic work, just once.

“I feel the twigs like I feel my own fingers,” she murmured, glancing around to be sure she was alone, that no one was watching her make a fool of herself. “I feel the heat in the twigs, straining to be set free.”

She stared at the handful of snap-dry twigs she had arranged in a rough pyramid on the ground in front of her. Saying something didn’t make it so.

She glanced at the sun, which was getting closer to the tops of the trees west of the meadow. She’d be in trouble if Mama thought she’d wasted the afternoon dawdling instead of picking herbs for the next batch of mead. At least her baskets were full.

Aleine scrambled to her feet, shaking out her rough woolen skirts and brushing dirt off her backside. She reached for the nearest basket, packed with feathery green heather sprigs, keeping an eye on the mound of dry sticks just in case it did decide to catch on fire after all.

Without warning, the whole pile of twigs rose knee high in the air and started spinning.

Aleine’s heart pounded. Had she done that somehow? They weren’t burning as she had intended, but something was happening.

The twigs spun faster and faster, not one falling out of place. Aleine reached a hand out to touch them. But as she reached, she thought she heard a sound in the ruins behind her, a faint scraping sound, like that of a hand or a garment brushing against one of the old half walls.

She spun around so quickly that her foot caught the edge of one of her baskets and she almost fell. But when she saw who it was, fear gave way to anger.

“Stop that right now!” she snapped. “I’ll tell Papa.”

Imry, her younger brother—her younger half-brother—grinned at her. He sidled out from around the corner of the old raised platform at the edge of the ancient ruins, stepping carefully to avoid stones that had crumbled down from the end. “I was just trying to help,” he said.

Although only ten, and four years younger than Aleine, Imry was already as tall as she was. He looked nothing like the rest of their family, with his black hair and sharp features: pointed chin, pointed nose, arched eyebrows and hairline—even the tips of his small ears were pointed.

“You were just trying to show off,” Aleine said. “You’re always showing off.” Imry didn’t even care that he could move things around by willing them from one place to another, that he could start a fire by wishing a pile of twigs to burn. And he was always rubbing Aleine’s nose in the fact that she couldn’t. At least he was whenever Mama and Papa weren’t around; they disapproved of magic and punished him if they caught him playing with it.

“All right,” Imry said, coming to join her. “You don’t have to be so mad. Look, I’ll stop—” and the lump of spinning twigs suddenly flew apart, shooting in every direction like tiny darts.

“Ow!” Aleine yelled, as twigs struck her hand and the side of her neck. “Imry, you brat!” She swung at his head with the back of her hand. But he ducked, and the side of her hand hit the wall behind him.

“Oops,” Imry said, still grinning. He inched away along the wall, keeping an eye on the hand Aleine was nursing. “Are you okay?”

“You don’t care if I’m okay,” Aleine said. “You little freak.”

“I’m not a freak!” Imry said.

“Yes, you are! You’re a freak just like your mother. I wish she’d kept you.”

Imry opened his mouth, but before he could say anything, Aleine said, “If I were Mama, I wouldn’t have let Papa bring you home.” Now that she had started she couldn’t seem to hold back the cruel words, even though every new thing she said made her feel worse, not better. “We were better off without you.” Imry didn’t move, just stared at her with his weird gray eyes. “Get away from me!” she shrieked, snatching up one of her baskets and brandishing it as if she intended to swing it at his head.

Imry finally held up his hands. “All right, I’m going!” He backed away, watching to make sure she lowered the basket.

When he got to the footpath that led back to town, he said, just before turning around, “It’s not my fault you can’t do any magic.”

“Shut up!” Aleine screamed. She threw the basket as hard as she could. But Imry was already running down the path, and the basket landed far short of where he’d been standing.

I’m such an idiot, Aleine thought, as she retrieved the basket and stooped to gather all the heather that had fallen out of it. But somehow, knowing that didn’t make her any less angry. She seemed to be angry all the time lately, for some reason, and Imry was only a small part of that.

A small but significant part. Imry was the perfect son, so perfect it was disgusting. Imry never lost his temper over silly things. Imry never talked back to Mama and Papa (only to Aleine, and only when they were alone). Imry didn’t have to be asked to help out with housework, or brewing, or with the bees. He was always looking for ways to make himself useful. And that was without the magic. Besides Imry, only two people in their town could do any kind of magic, two out of three hundred. Both those people lived as well as anyone in town, even though their families were not wealthy; but more importantly, their magic connected them to a time when everything wasn’t in ruins, when elves lived openly among humans, when there were libraries and railroads and universities. Magic wasn’t something you could learn if you weren’t born with it, but even so, not a day went by that Aleine didn’t try to move something with only her thoughts, or start a small fire, or open a locked door, just in case the power was latent inside her and she’d never figured out the spark that would bring it to life. Imry? He could do magic without any effort at all, had been able to since he was a small boy, and he didn’t even seem to care. It didn’t even seem to bother him that he wasn’t allowed to tell people outside their family that he had the ability; apparently he had no magical ambitions beyond teasing Aleine. He was lucky she didn’t tell on him more often.

Feathery sprigs of heather had fallen everywhere. Aleine tried to dust off those that had landed on the path before replacing them in the basket. Mama would probably complain, even so. “What did you do, Aleine, gather herbs with one foot on the road?” What was she supposed to do, walk for miles every day, off where there weren’t any roads, just to find heather and yarrow and sweet briar without the smallest speck of dirt, so Mama didn’t have to trouble her fat, lazy self to wash them? What if she got raped and left for dead by bandits? Would anyone even care?

“Let me help with you that,” a man’s voice said, just behind her.

Aleine screamed. Her basket went flying again.

“Easy,” the man said.

Aleine stared at him. She had never seen him before. But he looked a lot like Imry. Like an elf.

“You don’t need to do that,” Aleine said, as the man bent over and started picking up the heather sprigs that had spilled for the second time. “My father’s around here somewhere. He’ll help when he gets back.”

The man raised his head and gave her a knowing smile. “I don’t think you need to be afraid of me in that way.” His eyes were like Imry’s, gray without any hint of blue or green, gray like newly hammered steel.

“I’m not afraid of you at all,” Aleine said. But that wasn’t true. The ruins here were just out of sight of the wooden stake fence that surrounded the town, and just out of earshot, too.

The man righted the basket and arranged the sprigs he’d picked up on top of the others. His fingers were long and delicate, like a woman’s. In fact, his face had a softness about it that made Aleine wonder if she was correct about him being male. Even his voice was high, for a man’s.

“There’s an inn in town,” Aleine said. “If you’re looking for a place to stay.”

“I’m not,” the man—if he was a man—said. He straightened to his full height again. He was taller than Papa, but not as tall as the innkeeper and a couple of the other men in town. “I believe you have a younger brother.”

“Yeah?” Aleine said, louder than she’d intended. “So what?” The man looked like Imry, and Aleine knew that her family had come here nine years ago, leaving their first home, so that Imry’s mother’s people wouldn’t find him and steal him away.

“He’s different from you, isn’t he?” the man said. “I’m sure you’ve noticed.”

“Everyone’s noticed.” The words slipped out of Aleine’s mouth. They sounded more bitter than she’d meant them to.

“I know what it’s like to be different,” the man said. “Maybe your brother would like to talk with me.”

“Maybe he wouldn’t,” Aleine said.

The man grinned. His teeth were as white as snow, with no gaps between them. “Maybe you could convince him.”

“Maybe,” Aleine said. “If I wanted to.”

In the silence that followed, a distant dog barked. It reminded Aleine that they were in human territory now, and that if anyone from town came by, the man would be the one in danger. He wasn’t a small boy with a human family to vouch for him.

“I can’t stay here much longer,” the man said. “Why don’t you tell me what might convince you to bring your brother out to meet with me?”

Aleine knew she shouldn’t be talking to this man at all, and that she certainly shouldn’t be talking to him about Imry and how he was different. She didn’t believe for one moment that the only thing the man wanted was to talk with Imry. But she’d never seen an adult with elf blood. What if he was old enough to remember the old days, before the war?

“There’s silver,” the man said. “Here…” And he started to untie a cloth pouch that hung from a strap across his chest.

“I don’t want silver,” Aleine said. “I want to see where the elves live.”

The man’s fingers paused. He tilted his head to look at her.

“You’re not very loyal to your own kind, are you?” he said.

“The war’s been over for a hundred years,” Aleine said. “No one cares about that anymore.”

“The fighting ended eighty-nine years ago,” the man said. “As far as the elves are concerned, the war never ended.” He gave a flick of his head towards the ruins. “From the look of things here, you people think Arcadia never ended and the dwarves are going to come back any day now and rebuild the railroad.”

“We don’t think that,” Aleine said, unwilling to ask what the ruins had to do with railroads, or dwarves. It was true that no one was supposed to take stones away from the ruins, but no one tried to maintain the old buildings either, so every year they subsided a little deeper into the meadow.

“It’s two weeks or more to the nearest elvish city,” the man said, “and you’d be killed on sight if you got within three days of the border. But I can give you something from there. Bracelets, earrings, combs for your hair—”

“Those aren’t what I want,” Aleine said.

The man regarded her for a moment. Then he said, “If your brother’s anything like I was at that age, he’ll want to know about his elvish half. I know I did. You probably won’t have to do any convincing. All you have to do is tell him I’m here looking for him.”

“I’ll think about it,” Aleine said.

The man grinned. When he smiled, he looked even more like Imry. “Think hard.” He dropped something on the path between them, and Aleine heard a metallic clink as it bounced off a stone. “A token for you, either way.”

Aleine didn’t dare move to pick it up until the man was almost out of sight, on the path that led towards the forest. It was a round silver coin, as big around as the tip of her thumb, with such tiny writing around the edges that she had to squint to establish that the unfamiliar symbols were supposed to be words and not just decoration. But the face in profile on one side of the coin had ears as pointed as Imry’s.

END OF FREE EXTRACT

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Sealed by Noeleen Kavanagh – Free Story Extract

“Sealed” by Noeleen Kavanagh is an evocative fantasy tale about Mara who lives alone and friendless in her coastal village. However, one day, an act of kindness on her part forces her to grasp her own powers and in doing so she realises that her life is her own to change.  Noeleen’s story “The Pivot” appeared in the first issue of Fantasy Short Stories.

Visit the page for Fantasy Short Stories: Issue 2 if you want to order a copy to read more of this and other stories.

Free Extract from “Sealed” by Noeleen Kavanagh

The ship was there, a mile or so out to sea, driven onto the Banford Sands by the storm last night. She listed in the water at an unnatural angle, broken-backed, accepting the blows of the sea, for she could no longer fly before it.

A pile of ragged clothes lay near my feet, flung by the sea past the high tide mark. No boots, feet poking white and water-sodden from his clothes. The body of a drowned sailor had nothing to do with the likes of me. It was for Lord Dwyer and the priest to see that it was given a fit burial.

I first saw the Banford Sands when I was a child. Far out to sea, the water trembled, the tide receded and islands of sand rose up from the depths like a sea monster. Hours later, the tide changed and they slid beneath the sea once more. But they were still there, restless and shifting, an arm’s length beneath the surface, ready to grasp at any ship that missed the safe channels through. And many did.

As I sat looking out to sea, the pile of rags by my feet coughed and retched, forcing seawater from his lungs. I was well within my rights to leave him there to die on the beach. The sea is jealous of those she claims, and so a stranger cast from the waves is not due hospitality.

But I have never been able to walk past a weak or injured creature. They pull and pull at me, dig claws in my mind. I’d have no peace otherwise, so I rose up, dusted the sand off my skirts and went back along the beach till I found Ruch Clyne.

“Ruch, Ruch,” I called to him, louder and louder till he peeled away from the men hauling their boat up the sands, loaded with bolts of cloth from the wrecked ship.

“Aye?” Outcast, freak, cursed. His contempt for me flicked and recoiled.

“I’ve found a sailor. Back there,” I said, gesturing, my chin raised. Aye, Ruch Clyne, remember your fine, tall son who walks without a limp, thanks to me.

“And?”

“Past the tide mark. The sea changed her mind about him and spat him back.” If that wasn’t so, he would’ve been left there for the sea to reclaim at her leisure. “He’s still alive.”

“So what do you want?”

“A loan of your cart and pony to take him home.” Outcast, cursed, whore. Another word to join the others makes no difference to me.

“On your own head it is then. Bring them back when you’re done.” And he turned and walked away.

He was not born to die in the sea, my stranger, but I feared he’d die in my bed instead. I stripped him of his sodden clothes, save a small pouch tied about his waist. I built the fire up, sending it roaring up the chimney even though it was spring, and heaped all my blankets on the bed. But still he shivered and shook, his skin cold and clammy to the touch.

I laid my hand on his forehead. I felt the cold devouring him from within, his blood moving slower and slower, pooling and thickening, till the life in him’d be stilled.

Heat. He needed heat to warm his bones and still the shivering, heat in heart and head and belly and lungs, spreading out through his body. I don’t know how long I stayed there, fingertips to his forehead, till the trembling ceased and I stood up, drained and weary.

He muttered, his eyes flicking open and looking at me. We stared at each other, till I looked away.

For a moment I saw myself reflected in his eyes. A small, fair woman, well past youth; ill-looking, with a birthmark the colour of an over-ripe strawberry smeared down one side of her face. I know what I am, but that doesn’t mean I like to be reminded of it.

But no matter, the first step was stopping them from dying, and the second was keeping them alive. Or so Granny always said.

 

 

He stood swaying by the bed, awake for the first time in nigh on three days. He must have woken when I was milking the goats, pulled on some clothes and climbed out. “What is this place?”

“Sit down before you fall down,” I said, gesturing at the chair as I set the bucket of milk carefully on the table. “This is my house. In Banford.” He looked blank at that, but sat down at the table anyway.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“Mara.”

“Binder Mara, you have my gratitude.” I did not know what a binder was, but had no chance to ask. “I am Carraig Ni Feall.”

His accent was strange, but understandable. I had seen and heard Ardlanders like him before, from one time when Granny took me to the Great Fair in Gurtnaree. Wild Ardlanders, with their long, outlandish names, down from their mountain tops and bogs, with their bossy women and wolfhounds that followed you with their eyes.

“How’d I come here?”

“Can you not remember?” He had a bang on his head that I’d cleaned and stitched, but it was common enough for a blow like that to addle someone’s thinking. I moved across the room to shift the turf on the fire. One of the black hens was old and had not laid an egg in over a month, so she was in the three-legged pot now.

As I stirred the pot, it came back to him. “Lazium. I was coming from Lazium. Going home.”

He was a master stonemason despite his youth and had spent the last three years working on a great heathen temple of marble and white limestone in Lazium, the City of Gold, far to the south. By now the tools of his trade were either at the bottom of the sea, or claimed as flotsam. He was downcast about that, but all was not lost. For fear of thieves he’d kept his wages in the form of bright stones in the pouch around his waist.

Over the next few days he gradually regained his strength, striding back from near death as the young and strong often do. I’d lived alone ever since Granny died, with callers far and few, and he was company for me.

“Banford is a healthy place, no doubt.”

I cocked my head at that. “Healthy? Why do you think that?” Though the One God only knew what plagues and murrains they had in the bogs and mountains of the wild Ardlands.

“For three days now you’ve had no callers. At home, any binder or healer is as busy as a swallow of a high summer evening. At everyone’s beck and call.”

“I am not a binder or a healer.” Yes, if the priest with his red robes and his prayers did not help, and Lord Dwyer’s healer up at the manse could do no good, then the poor, desperate and foolhardy might sometimes overcome their contempt and make their way to my door. Sometimes pay in kind if good came of it, but more often to curse me afterwards if it all came to naught. Outcast, unwanted, freak.

“For all that my mother’s eldest aunt was a binder, I know little of healing.” He fell silent then, worrying at a splinter in the table with his thumbnail. “Why d’you never use that jug?” he asked pointing at the brown, earthenware jug above the fireplace. “Is it too good to be used?”

“No, that’s not it.” I went over and took it down. It was a handsome reddish-brown colour with a finely curved handle. “It’s cracked. The water leaks out. See,” I said, showing him the hairline crack at the base. “But it’s old and I’m fond of it. I don’t have the heart to throw it away,” I said, setting it down on the table in front of him. And Granny loved it, but I kept that to myself.

He picked it up, running his thumb along the fracture. “Aye, cracked, all right. No more than my head was when you found me, and you fixed that easy enough.” He laughed up at me and I smiled in response.

“Healers work with living things. All a moving, watery mush to me. For all that there are healers in my family.” He held the jug in both hands, gazing at it at arm’s length and then close up. “But things that are not alive, that’s a different story.” He turned the jug, peering closely at its base, frowning as he did so. “It’s the movement of living things that confuses me. But this my mind’s eye can grasp easy enough.”

He set the jug between his knees and hummed to himself as his thumbs moved over the crack, rubbing and smoothing, as if it were not hard, fired clay beneath his hands. I could hear a single clear high note behind his humming, one that echoed in my head.

“That’s that, so,” he said, replacing the jug on the table. “Your jug’s fixed. Well, till you hit it again.”

“It wasn’t me that hit it in the first place. It was Granny.” I kept talking though I felt fear and panic rising up in my chest. “How’d you mend it?”

“That’s always been my knack. All types of stone: flags, granite, limestone, marble. Fractures, weak points, flaws. Pottery less so.” He smiled up in my face, trusting as a child that’s never been beaten. Touched. He was surely touched.

I should rise up and make my way to the priest’s house, tell him that the stranger spat from the sea was touched. Then it would be up to Lord Dwyer and the priest to decide what to do. But it usually ended the same way: crowds gathering to gawk, the red flames leaping, smoke rising, people withering and blackening in the fire. A conflagration of the touched. And like a fire set in dry autumn furze, not one that burned out quickly.

I picked the jug up off the table and put it away, sat back down once more.

“Listen, Carraig Ni Feall, listen to me now.” He looked up, puzzled. “Speak to no one here of your knack. No one. If you do it will lead to grief.”

“Why not?”

“The great evil, the priests call it. Communing with animals, looking at things that the One True God has decreed hidden. An inner eye that eats away at the minds of men and makes them turn their faces from God. Touched.”

“Your lowland ways are strange, Binder Mara. Touched,” he repeated, shaking his head. “Are knacks forbidden here then?”

“To be touched is forbidden. Men, and women, and children too have burned for less.”

“The Ardlands are high and cold and harsh. Mountains, bogs thick with rushes, and the limestone bones of the land revealed. I did not understand how harsh my home was till I first saw these soft southern lands, green fields rolling under the sun.” He looked up, met my eyes, smiled sadly at me. “But what harshness is that compared to this? Gifts rejected and denied.” He shook his head. “And what of you, Binder Mara? How do you live in this place, where your gift must be hidden?”

“My gift?”

“Aye. You are a healer. How else can you heal if you’re not gifted, touched as you call it here?”

Outcast, cursed, touched. Touched. I rose up, pushed myself away from the table, knocking the stool to the ground in my anger.

“Enough. No more of this.”

He was tall, handsome, whole, surely well loved up in his Ardlands. I could see the sympathy in his face and that angered me even more. Alone, friendless, ill-looking, birthmarked, unlucky. Surely that was enough. “You know nothing. Understand nothing.” But all the while his words rang in my head—gifted, healer, binder.

Touched. Another stone to throw at me. But this one might be the death of me. Was that why Ruch Clyne looked at me with fear and contempt, why women smirked behind their hands at me, why the priest twitched his robes as he walked past, for fear of brushing against my skirts? Was I touched?

The cat climbed in the window, stretched and sat in his usual place on the windowsill, then, perhaps feeling the tension still hanging in the air, slipped back out again.

“I too, am touched, Mara. There’s no harm in it. In Lazium no one thought twice of it. It’s a gift like any other.”

I too. Had I ever heard those words before? I too. But I hardened my heart. “Don’t be a fool. Lord and priest and the emperor himself have declared it the great evil.”

“Your lowlander ways are strange,” he said and then he fell silent.

He had to be gone, gone before his foolish innocence pulled grief down on my head. “You must go. As soon as you can. Back to your Ardlands.”

“As you say, Binder,” he said with bowed head.

I felt ashamed, but hardened my heart. It was easier done now that he was almost fully healed. “It’s safer that way. Safer for you.” And for me too, though I didn’t say that. “Less than a day’s walking inland’ll bring you to Gurtnaree. I’ll put you on the right road. There’ll surely be merchants in Gurtnaree who could buy a coloured stone or two from you. Enough to get you home.”

“As you say.”

END OF FREE EXTRACT

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Fantasy Short Stories: Issue 2 – Now Available

FSS 2 Cover - eBook copyIt gives me great pleasure to announce that the second issue of Fantasy Short Stories is now available – and what a great issue it is!

It’s been a bit of a wait unfortunately since our first issue, but once you start reading the second issue, I hope you’ll agree that it has been worth the wait. We have five cracking fantasy short stories for you to read.

You can order your copy now from the following outlets – or download an eBook sample if you want to take a quick look first:

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Barnes & Noble amongst other good booksellers

And additionally in eBook format from:
Smashwords | Kobo | iBooks and a host of other retailers.

Click here for some more information about Fantasy Short Stories: Issue 2.

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Hitler is Coming by Martin Roy Hill – Free Story Extract

Originally posted on Alt Hist: Historical Fiction and Alternate History:

What would the United States be like if Hitler won the Second World War? In “Hitler Is Coming” by Martin Roy Hill protagonist Paul Klee is an OSS veteran and police investigator on temporary assignment to the post-war American SS to stop a plot to kill a victorious Adolf Hitler on his first visit to the U.S. From fascist cabbies to corrupt Party gauleiters, Klee wends his way through an America most Americans today never knew once existed.

Visit the page for Alt Hist Issue 6 if you want to order a copy to read more of this and other stories.

Free Extract from Hitler is Coming by Martin Roy Hill

It was a wet, miserable morning when I arrived at SS headquarters. Stepping from the cab, I turned the collar of my leather duster against the mist and tried not to get wet. No one trusted the rain much these…

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“B-36”by Douglas W. Texter – Free Story Extract

Originally posted on Alt Hist: Historical Fiction and Alternate History:

We will be providing extracts of each of the stories in the latest issue of Alt Hist. Check out the first one below.

Set in a world in which the early Cold War grows very hot, “B-36”by Douglas W. Textertells the tale of what might have happened if the Soviet Union had taken Berlin during the Berlin Airlift. In this world, Secretary of Defense James Forrestal orders a B-36 piloted by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Drummond and a very special mission commander to fly to the Soviet Union with a secret “gimmick” on board.  The results of the mission are world-changing.

Visit the page for Alt Hist Issue 6 if you want to order a copy to read more of this and other stories.

Free Extract from “B-36”by Douglas W. Texter

As Soviet troops overwhelmed US forces in West Berlin on July 5th, 1948, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Drummond soared over Key…

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What’s Coming up in Alt Hist Issue 6

Originally posted on Alt Hist: Historical Fiction and Alternate History:

We’re still working busily on the production of Alt Hist Issue 6 – all coming together nicely with final proofs being checked and the cover being designed. If you’re intrigued about what to expect then here’s a draft of the back cover copy for the next issue. Issue 6 should be available by the end of January/start of February at the latest.

Alt Hist Issue 6 includes four wonderful alternate history stories, plus a great “straight” historical fiction set in 1914 about a teenage girl accused of war crimes. The alternate history stories cover some classic areas for speculative fiction and of interest to alternate history buffs: what if Hitler one the war, what if the Germans invaded Britain in WW2, who really killed JFK and what if the Cold War turned hot? But none of these tales are just speculation on alternative versions of history. They all share what…

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

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HOW I DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY FICTION

Originally posted on Ibukun Taiwo:

PLEASE!!! Could everyone just SHUT UP!

Everywhere I go, it seems there is always a new definition of science fiction and fantasy and the difference between the two genres.

It’s really confusing. And exhausting.

Here’s one and here is another one. They both make valid points but it just doesn’t help me. The debate keeps going on without any resolution in sight. What is the distinction between science fiction and fantasy fiction? Can the lines truly be drawn?

Some really creative writers have stretched the genre, further complicating the lives of experts who’re trying to help people like me understand what the hell is going on. There was a time when it was easy to tell them apart. Elves never wandered into the future and time travelers didn’t faceoff against wizards.

Distinguishing between the two genres really bothers me because I eventually have to categorize my novel.

When the…

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Interview with Douglas W. Texter, author of AD 1929

Originally posted on Alt Hist: Historical Fiction and Alternate History:

This is the second of our interviews of author’s from our fifth issue. Douglas W. Texter contributed the alternate history story AD 1929 for Alt Hist Issue 5. Read on to find out more about the story and about Doug’s career in writing.

Al Capone has a charismatic allure that attracts fiction writers. What is it about his character that attracted you to write about him?

To me Al Capone is fascinating. He was certainly brutal. He really did beat people to death. Then again, look at the leaders of some of the countries that the US supports and calls friend and you’ll see that this brutality is there as well. We turn a blind eye to foreign thugs as long as they help us. Criminals have no monopoly on physical violence. Capone also had a few other qualities that make him interesting to me. First, he was generous. He did…

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Hell has its Demons – Editor Blows Own Trumpet

Originally posted on Alt Hist: Historical Fiction and Alternate History:

Hell has its Demons coverI don’t usually mention any of my own work on the Alt Hist website, but I’m afraid I couldn’t resist giving a bit of a shout out to a new novel that I have just published in eBook format – only available on the Kindle at the moment and currently FREE this weekend.

If you like historical fantasy and stuff set in the Middle Ages it might be for you, so please be my guest and take a quick look. Thanks!

You can get it at:

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

What if the demons portrayed in the Middle Ages were real and could be conjured by necromancers?

And what if those seeking power decided to use demons to get what they wanted? In Hell has its Demons a plot unfolds to use demons to take the ultimate prize of all – the crown of Edward III, King of England.

Investigating an…

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