Book Highlight: The Dream Star

Kalindi, a 16 year-old Dreamer-seer and devoted follower of The Way, is guided by a terrifying Dream to journey with a strange yet fascinating young man named Atman to the distant holy city of the Ancient Ones, the Center of the World. Their goal: to rid the land of the horrible intruding alien beings who have infiltrated the city. Along the way, she discovers that everything she believed to be true about her world, Tamar, is a deception.
Atman is not who he first claims to be, the alien intruders have mind-control powers beyond any Dreamer's, and the city of the Ancient Ones holds perplexing mysteries never mentioned in the holy Chronicles.
Kalindi sets out on a journey that leads her to find love, uncover the truth about her people’s mysterious ancestors, and inspire an interplanetary revolution.
Chapter 1 – The Dream
In Dream, I stand outside the holy city of the Ancient Ones, the Center of the World. All around me Tribefolk scramble in panic. Mothers scream for their children. Men scurry to muster their weapons. Sheep and goats bleat, desperate to escape their pens. The clamor beats through the wind that swirls the plain’s dust into a blinding grit. It twists into my ears, sharp and cold. Whipping from behind, it billows my sleeping-gown out in front of me. Then, turning course, slaps it tight against my breasts and abdomen. I peer through the dust. A huge silver disk, larger than the ancient Center itself, hangs in the air just above the city walls. If it falls, it will crush the city. I gulp down my fear.
I am in Dream. And I know this Dream-vision cannot harm me. And Tribefolk are not my people. But still, my every instinct screams for me to force myself to wake up. I will not give in to it. I am a Dreamer, a seer, trained to never give in to fear. I force myself to breathe, to concentrate with all my strength on the chaos around me.
From out of the swirling dust, a group of strange figures appear. Their long, gray robes twist in the wind against tall, skeletal bodies. One saunters close enough for me to glimpse his face from under his hood. Terror seizes me. These beings are not Tamarian!
I count two dozen. But more keep walking from out of the dust storm. They disperse into the ragged knots of Tribemen who stand with spear and ax in hand to fight. My attention is riveted by the one whose face is exposed to me. He turns, revealing his eyes. As if two small wells of black ink, they show no emotion, not even the smallest trace of compassion or empathy. He walks up to a fist of Tribemen set to strike him down and waves his hand as one would at a swarm of flies. All together, the Tribemen stagger, stupefied. They drop their weapons in unison and stand dumb, stiff and lifeless as straw dolls.
There are so many of the bony ones. They act quickly and seem to understand one another without speaking. One of them turns to his kin. The other nods and begins to gather up the Tribemen as a shepherd gathers sheep. All around me the intruders motion with their hands for the Tribemen to move toward the ground beneath the whirring disk. As if under a fever spell, all the Tribemen mutely obey.
The herded cluster is soon a mass of Tamarian flesh. The whirring breath of the disk grows, sweeping out in all directions. It blows a hot exhale across the plains. Then, from out of its belly, a light falls across those beneath. The dazed captives shimmer in its glow for an instant then disappear. Horrified, my Dream-body tenses. I want to run. But to where? A Dreamer cannot run from Dream. We are to watch, listen, and pay attention. No matter how wondrous the Dream. Or how frightening.
Women, children and elder men left behind scatter in every direction. A little boy turns round and round in circles with wild eyes, wailing. Though I have only just come into womanhood, the maternal desire to hold him, comfort him, and protect him as if he were my own child fills me. But, of course, I cannot. I am as a ghost. Invisible.
A Tribe girl races by and snatches him up then sprints away. Everyone is screaming, shouting. I cannot make out the guttural inflections of the Tribefolk but their meaning is obvious: Run for your lives! Crazed, they flee toward the hills that lead into the wooded mountains where, long ago, my people, Village folk, chose to build our homes. There, nestled in the bosom of the Angelina Mountains, we have remained, ever since.
The Tribefolk have always stayed in the plains and we Villagers in our mountains. This is how we have maintained peace between our two cultures. But are we now being invaded by others? How can that be? Panic pricks at the back of my neck like needles. Is this Dream-vision a premonition of a possible future or is it happening right now while I sleep? I turn my Dream-body to the east, close my eyes and beseech the wisdom of my ancestors.
Why have I been given this Dream, Ancient Ones? What does it mean? What am I to do?
Falling to my knees, I turn my face to the gray blur of sky and wait for the answer.
Purchase The Dream Star at:
About the Author:
Susan M. Botich writes science-fiction and fantasy. She is also a freelance writer, poet, songwriter and performing musician. She has lived all over the United States from California to New York, Alaska to Hawaii, Washington to the Midwest of Iowa and Minnesota and even the high desert of Northern Nevada. She and her husband have recently made Bend, OR their home.
Susan is an eclectic reader, having interests that bridge physics and metaphysics, social and spiritual issues, and multiple genres of fiction. She simply loves to read a good story. She became a science-fiction and fantasy fan as a teen. She has always been an avid reader but turned her focus to story writing after marriage and family in her early thirties.
Susan has recently published her science-fiction novel, The Dream Star, as well as a fantasy verse-novel, Enchantments. Both books are available through in both Kindle and print edition and as a Nook book. Readers may also buy her books through her website

Review: The Caline Conspiracy

"The Caline Conspiracy" by M.H. Mead

File Size: 429 KB/593 KB
Print Length: 210 pages
Publisher: Ion Productions (March 16, 2012)
Language: English
BN ID: 2940014314527
Purchase: Kindle, Nook, E-Reader, Paperback

This was an enjoyable read.

Aidra, the lead character, gets a case she doesn’t really want and that seems like it’s pretty straight forward. Still she gives it her best effort and soon discovers this case is more than she bargained for.

Aidra is a likeable character, tough, but with a vulnerable side. She is resourceful and observant and knows when to handle things herself and when to ask for help.

The case she’s working on is interesting and had me invested from the start. The calines are intriguing and give this detective story a slight SciFi feel. The investigation is set up very nicely and gives you just enough information to try and make some guesses while dragging you further into the mystery and intrigue.

I liked how Aidra’s investigation leads to her not only having to find the truth about Frithke‘s death, but also to question herself.

Next to this being a suspenseful detective story this story also makes you think and touches on some rather sensitive subjects. I really liked this deeper layer and it had me thinking even after I finished the book.

The one negative thing I could say about this story is that some of the other characters stay a bit one dimensional, but this being a novella and not a full length novel, it’s only to be expected that not everything can be worked out in full detail, so it’s only a minor flaw in my opinion.

All in all this is a cool read that challenges you to think.

Reviewed by: Carien Ubink

A free copy of this book was furnished by the author for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

"The Sword Bearer" Giveaway Winners!

“Sword Bearer” tells the story of Jonran who, under the burden of a highly technological world, finds an opportunity to escape through a magic portal. After passing through, he awakes to find himself on a more primitive planet and his body has been transformed into that of an ancient race of a long forgotten people.

Jonran is quickly captured and taken into slavery where he befriends a skilled yet questionable thief who helps him through the many trials of slavery. After their eventual escape, their paths split and Jonran stumbles alone into the protected elven lands where he falls in love with an elven woman, while his friend finds a future with a resistance force fighting a corrupt human government.

As they both seek an end to the violence, Jonran is led on a journey to a magic sword and on a quest to help a wizard to free his master, who is locked in battle with an evil invading army. That sword, combined with the crystals of the Elemental Lords, is the only hope to push back the enemy horde and save the world.

Will Jonran have what it takes?

Author of "The Sword Bearer", Charles Landreth held a giveaway for his wonderful book last week. Today we have the winners! You can read the interview with Charles HERE.


Fawn M

Mike Scarborough

Congratulations everyone!

To claim your prize, please email us at sciyourfiblog @ We will get you in touch with Charles so we can get your contact information to send you your signed copy of "The Sword Bearer".

Book Highlight: The Hour of Tiamat

We've all heard of the Mayan predictions of a vast change coming in the year 2012; but it turns out the ancient Sumerian people had a very similar prophecy...
The dreaded Necronomicon, a book of fable said to contain all the ancient knowledge of the Sumerian civilization has surfaced and fallen into the hands of four teenagers in a small Texas town. Tonight, after years of studying its dark teachings in secret, they gather to call back to Earth those Gods that tried to enslave humanity over ten thousand years ago, and in turn become rulers themselves.
Under threat of his life, Tristan helps them complete the ritual; but does that mean it is too late to stop this apocalypse? With Evelyn, whose past and future seem inextricably linked to Tristan, their friend Hunter and a host of surprising paranormal helpers, Tristan will race against murderers, monsters, and time itself to shut the ancient gate before our evil creators are upon us again.
Tristan kept his breathing shallow as he trailed behind Malaki and Tara, keeping in the trees and watching where he stepped. The animals, it seemed, were just as restless as the day before, and he had to fight not to jump every time some creature brushed him.
The more his eyes adjusted to the darkness, the more animals he saw on either side of him. They seemed to be following Malaki and Tara too, but he shook his head at the thought. They couldn’t be. The wolves and deer, rodents and birds, reptiles and bobcats, they had no reason to follow. What could they possibly know? Yet he saw all of those and more as he walked slowly and quietly, and he had to fight harder and harder to keep his breathing quiet.
“We’re here,” he heard Tara breathe quietly ahead of him. Sure enough, just up the path was the tell-tale clump of bushes that hid their cave of stashed goods. Well, it was now or never. The pistol was in the bags inside the cave, but he still had his knife on him. Why did it always have to be by knife?
He hesitated for a moment at the thought of killing again, a familiar churning in his stomach, but the rage coursing through him erased any hesitation. They would give anything to kill the only two people in the world he loved. He realized that this time, it was probably kill or be killed, and he found it didn’t matter.
“Branches in this bush are broken, they’ve been here,” Malaki said as he jogged ahead of Tara, starting to make his way through the brush. Okay, Tristan thought. Then Tara is first. And without a sound, he cocked back his arm, cold metal held between his fingertips, and flung the shining blade from the darkness, running after it even as the point sunk into Tara’s side, sending her sprawling sideways.
“What the…” Malaki started, turning at Tara’s muffled gasp of surprise, but by the time Malaki was free of the bushes again, Tristan was pulling his knife from Tara’s side, cold eyes trained on Malaki. Tara wasn’t dead, but didn’t seem to be able to move, and she grasped her side, breathing heavily, trying to hold in the steady stream of warm blood. Her dark eyes focused on the two momentarily before her head fell to the ground.
“This isn’t worth this crap,” she muttered to herself as she scooped up dirt from the ground placing it on the wound. Sure, it might get infected, she thought, but if the blood turned the dirt to mud, maybe it would help clot the wound and stop the bleeding.
Malaki paid no attention to Tara, but cocked his head in surprise at Tristan. He glanced back to the cave opening, then to Tristan.
“Well, clearly you’re still bent on saving the world, so what happened? Your little girly in there get mad at you and stop putting out?” He sneered. Tristan didn’t respond, but his blood boiled and eyes grew angrier. “Ah,” Malaki continued as if he’d just had a revelation. “I see. So she is the bitch’s daughter after-all.” He laughed at Tristan, who stood stone still. “Well that had to be awkward.” Tristan struggled to control his breathing. Don’t let him get to you, he repeated to himself. You have to stay focused. Don’t rush. As long as he’s out here, he’s not hurting them.
Unfortunately the same thought seemed to have occurred to Malaki.
“Look, I don’t have time for this,” Malaki said, stepping away from the bushes and slowly starting to circle Tristan. “So if we’re going to do this, let’s get it over with, huh?” Tristan smiled, a slightly crazier gleam in his eye than he’d probably ever displayed before.
“My pleasure,” he snarled, and for once in his life, he attacked first. Malaki jumped back in surprise, narrowly avoiding Tristan’s feint to the right, and sparks flew as their daggers collided again and again. They moved in a large circle, with Malaki continuously dodging and moving backwards and Tristan continually pressing for what seemed like forever but was probably less than a minute. Finally, Malaki got in a shot and a well placed boot to the gut threw Tristan back far enough to give him a break.
“Give it up, man,” Malaki taunted Tristan as he recovered from the blow. “If I don’t kill her, the Ancient Ones will. What’s the point? Consider it a favor when I kill you, after what you’ve done. Nothing I can do will be as painful as what the Ancient Ones will do to you.”
Tristan shook his head, breathing hard, but keeping his eyes on Malaki. “And nothing they can do will be as painful as what I’ve already done to myself.” He glared into Malaki’s cocky eyes. “Dying isn’t as scary when you’ve got nothing to lose,” he growled as he lunged forward again.
Purchase The Hour of Tiamat at:
About the Author:
Lisa is a recent graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Her degree is in physics, but her long love of writing was re-kindled when she was honorably discharged from the military. She uses her experience in the military and the science community to write compelling science fiction and fantasy. She is the author of The Hour of Tiamat, which is an interesting blend of paranormal fiction and science fiction. She has also published a collection of horror poetry, Book of Dreams and Nightmares. Currently she lives in Kentucky where she is writing a young adult fantasy trilogy and works at the local library.

Author Interview: Charles Landreth

“Sword Bearer” tells the story of Jonran who, under the burden of a highly technological world, finds an opportunity to escape through a magic portal. After passing through, he awakes to find himself on a more primitive planet and his body has been transformed into that of an ancient race of a long forgotten people.
Jonran is quickly captured and taken into slavery where he befriends a skilled yet questionable thief who helps him through the many trials of slavery. After their eventual escape, their paths split and Jonran stumbles alone into the protected elven lands where he falls in love with an elven woman, while his friend finds a future with a resistance force fighting a corrupt human government.
As they both seek an end to the violence, Jonran is led on a journey to a magic sword and on a quest to help a wizard to free his master, who is locked in battle with an evil invading army. That sword, combined with the crystals of the Elemental Lords, is the only hope to push back the enemy horde and save the world.
Will Jonran have what it takes?
Purchase Sword Bearer at:
Tell us a little about yourself:
I’m 41 years old and have been married for almost 21 years. Most of those have been happily. LOL Seriously, though, my marriage is one of the achievements I’m most proud of, as you just don’t see many making it that long these days. My family consists of my loving wife and five rescue animals that do a great job of tearing up just about everything of value that we have. I’ve been a software tester for the past 14 years and that is what I’m currently doing to pay the bills. Sword Bearer is my debut novel and I hope that someday I can stop testing software and write full time.
If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be?
If I could change anything in this world, it would be to make it where those in power were not corrupted by their positions. There are plenty of things that need changing, but if you’re limited to one you want to do something that will have a fundamental effect. My opinion is that this is a basic human flaw that gets in the way of some really great accomplishments time and again.
You find a magic lamp, give it a rub and a genie offers you three wishes. What are they?
My wife has dealt with chronic pain for many years, so my first wish would be to make her pain free. Wish number two, that all people would be a bit more tolerant of others. The last would be that the first two could not be twisted in some way that would be different from the intent of the wish. You have to watch out for tricksters. LOL
Why do you write?
There are several reasons I write. What really pushes me though is the impact reading has had on my life. Although I was a good kid most of my childhood, during my teens I did get into some things that could easily have led me down some dangerous paths. Although I had been playing Dungeons & Dragons for years, it was my senior year in high school when I read my first fantasy novel. After that I was hooked and spent more and more time reading, which kept me from going out and getting into trouble. I’m a different person today thanks to a good book.
What elements of your writing do you want to develop?
I would say character development. I feel that I can tell a good story, and my characters can hold your attention, but I want to make sure that the reader really feels for the characters and can see their personalities in their words and actions. As a reader, being able to feel that way is what draws me in and provides that escape from the day to day.
Will books disappear altogether in future?
At some point I could see print books giving way to digital, but the concept of books will always be there. The human race has told stories since we first developed a way to communicate. The format may change, but the stories will continue.
Does your mood affect your writing? If so, how?
Definitely. I have to be in a good peaceful mood most of the time. When I write I have to be able to visualize the story. I can’t describe it to you, if I can’t see it myself. I can’t write when I’m angry because it clouds my mind. I generally find that I can use those experiences to flesh out certain unsavoury characters to make them more villainous when needed.
Describe the process you took to write Sword Bearer.
It may sound simplistic, but the key for me was using an outline to structure the story. I found that without one the storyline wandered and every “good idea” that crossed my mind tried to get into the story. It also gave me something to work toward, before that I was just writing in the moment and had just a general idea of where I wanted to go with the story.
The general steps were:
  1. Determine general plot, characters & settings.
  2. Create a General Outline.
  3. Create a Detailed Outline (with supporting documents)
  4. Create 1st Draft.
  5. Edit/Re-Draft
  6. Format the Final Copy
What is the target audience for your book?
I was actually targeting the experienced fantasy reader. I didn’t spend a lot of time explaining what an elf was, or what a dwarf looked like. This let me concentrate on the storyline and the more unique aspects in my book. I depended on the reader to already have a concept in their minds of some of the more common races in fantasy novels. That being said, with more fantasy movies hitting the market even people that are new to the genre enter with much more knowledge than we did 30 years ago.
Quick fire:
  • Favorite Song?: “Amnesty is granted” by Sammy Hagar
  • Favorite Book?: The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams
  • Favorite quote?: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” – Albert Einstein
Charles Landreth, a software tester living in Dallas, Texas, has been a fantasy buff from an early age. First experiencing fantasy from years of Dungeon & Dragons adventures, he expanded his story telling with influences from bestselling authors such as Tad Williams, Raymond E. Feist and many more. Being an avid reader, he draws on a diverse group of styles to create The Seeds of a Legend series.
Leave a comment below for a chance to win one of five signed copies of Sword Bearer!
Deadline is 11:59 pm EST, May 24, 2012.
Winners will be announced on May 25 with instructions how the winners can claim their signed copy!

Book Highlight: The Misadventures of Ka-Ron the Knight

Cursed to live as a woman!
Ka-Ron of Teal, Errant-Knight to the Kingdom of Idoshia, is the bravest warrior under the crown. His exploits are legendary. His sword is feared by all in battle. His love is greatly sought after by women. He is a legend.
Then, one day he wakes to find that all that has changed. Cursed to live out his life as a beautiful woman, he and his faithful squire Jatel set out to find the Wiccan Master who has cursed him.
As a woman, Ka-Ron enters a battlefield more treacherous than war. Love in any form carries with it great risk. What is a man to do, when he must live as a woman?
Ka-Ron now must face disgusting Xows, Sea Pirates, Dragons, Elves, Vampires, Dwarfs, lost undersea civilizations, and pregnancy. No life, however adventurous, can compare to THE MISADVENTURES OF KA-RON THE KNIGHT.
You are still a wonder to me, Kym." Ka-Ron said, parting from her. "And you will be fond in my hearts until they stop beating. That, I give you my oath on."
An awkward pause filled the space between the two. Kym stared, watching almost on autopilot, as Ka-Ron turned, clamping his armor onto his body. The knight tried his best to ignore the tears starting.
"Fond?" Kym wept.
Ka-Ron eyed his sword, sheathing it. "I am quite fond of you, indeed."
"But I love you...Ka-Ron," Kym whispered. Her tears were all too painfully clear, and did not pass the attention of the brave knight. His constant irritation was beyond Kym’s understanding, which appeared to add more degrees to her suffering. "I love you," she repeated.
"I am sorry," Ka-Ron said, solemnly. For he truly cared about this woman’s feelings. "I am a man of war." He tried to explain. "I fight so that others may have what I plainly cannot."
"And, what is that?" Kym’s words dripped with pain and sarcasm.
"For a woman such as you, by their side," Ka-Ron explained. "I make that possible. I make that a right for others to enjoy."
"And you cannot?"
Ka-Ron paused for a long time. "No."
Ka-Ron laughed a huff of disbelief. "Kym, would you want to bond with a man who, at any moment, could be called on by King or Priest to protect lands half-way across the globe, and who may never return?" Ka-Ron paused. "This is no way to reward love. This is not the way of a true man who loves his family. True, there are those who take the risk, but, I will have no one for whom I care pay the price. This is my mindset, dear woman. I am a knight, and a soldier of my King’s will. This fact is not only my lifestyle. It is also my first and truest of loves."
Kym grabbed Ka-Ron’s sword hand, her eye makeup clearly ruined by the tracks of her tears. "I would be willing to accept your risks, your dangers, and the whim of your king or priest. Love does not come with a guarantee, Ka-Ron. If you vow to protect those who seek its fruits, you of all people know that life rarely has a happy ending. All one needs is courage, and you have that in abundance!"
Ka-Ron, looking into the torn eyes of his childhood love, almost caved in. With all his heart, he wanted to sweep Kym off her feet, pledge his love, and to do nothing more than to spend the rest of his life in loving bliss, caring and providing for his lady fair. But in his hands, he held his sword - the eternal struggle of the peace-loving warrior.
"Kym, I remember the torment... the hell... my mother went through as my father lay dying in battle... "
"Your mother and father gave birth to a noble son," Kym interrupted. "Can we do any worse?"
"Kym... " Ka-Ron huffed, clamping the last of the buckles and leather strings of his armor. "I will love you... always."
Hearing these words, a dangerous hope invaded Kym’s features.
"But I will do it as a man in battle," Ka-Ron continued, "hoping that one day you will find a good and honest man, who will love you in ways that I clearly cannot."
"But... "
"Enough!" Ka-Ron’s voice rose in frustration. "I have said what nature of man that I am, woman. That is sufficient!"
A deadly silence filled the room, and, for a moment, Kym neither said nor did anything. Like a pale ivory statue, she just looked up at Ka-Ron. Then, as if a veil of evil had passed over her features, she started to smile. This action, more than any other, had caused Ka-Ron’s mind to fill with fear.
"I will change your... views." Kym stipulated.
Purchase The Misadventures of Ka-Ron the Knight at:

About the Author:
Donald Allen Kirch lives in Kansas City, Missouri. He is an avid reader of history, Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, and the paranormal. He has a degree in Radio and Television Arts, and is listed in "Who’s Who in America." He is the author of a monthly article that appears in "Suspense Magazine" entitled "Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories of the Paranormal." After spending two weekends in the famous "Sallie House," a "haunted house" featured on the Fox TV-series Sightings, in Atchison, Kansas, he is one of the only authors of his genre who can claim to have been attacked by a ghost!

Review: The Crooked God Machine

"The Crooked God Machine" by Autumn Christian

File Size: 552 KB
Language: English
Purchase: Kindle

Upon first glance, I thought this book was going to be a religious attack of some sort. And I suppose if one wanted to, they could take it as such. However, given that it is a work of fiction, I don't consider it an attack of any kind - just a well written story.

I was easily swept up in the world, wondering how it got to that point and how the character was going to survive it. Some parts of it did confuse me, or didn't seem to fit well - like one of the characters recovering from brain surgery in the matter of minutes. I brushed it off assuming the advanced technology of the world allowed such a thing, but it would have been nice to have it explained.

The ending was well written, although personally it disappointed me. I read books that have some sort of a happy ending and this one - well this one I can't tell if it was 'happy' or not. More like, the lesser of two evils perhaps? But, this did not reflect in my rating of the story, because as I said, it was well written and fit with what had happened before.

This book might not have been my cup of tea, but I still enjoyed it as it was written well - no jarring skips or bumps in the plot, no typos, etc. I would still recommend this book to someone who loves a horror-type dystopian sci-fi story.

Reviewed by: Anastasia V. Pergakis

A free copy of this book was furnished by the author for review, but providing a copy did not guarantee a review. This information is provided per the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission.

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Book Highlight: The Wolves of Solomon

England, 1307 . . .

Templar Knight Galeren de Massard is sent to investigate an incident where a nun claims to have been attacked by “a man who became a wolf.” When Galeren meets Catherine, he instinctively knows that her attacker was Esquin de Floyran, an old foe, and that his return is dangerous for the increasingly unpopular Templar Order.

Out for revenge, De Floyran has betrayed his brotherhood’s secret to the French King who has long sought to discredit the Templars. When he discovers the truth of their nature, he vows to destroy the Order and have the Knights burned to the last.

When hundreds of Templars are arrested in France and Catherine is taken by De Floyran, Galeren resolves to rescue her and save as many of his brethren as he can. Alone, he journeys to France and into the heart of danger to face his enemy and risk everything to save his race from destruction.


“Shit,” he swore. The men had quickly climbed on their mounts and were slowly following them. The rain began to fall in earnest.

“What?” Catherine asked nervously.

“They are following us,” Galeren said.

“What do they want?”

“You,” he said solemnly and immediately felt her tense.

“Me? You’re so sure?”

“Well they don’t want me and I don’t look worth robbing. Believe me, men in that state are not wont to let a woman like you pass them by.”

“But I’m with you,” she protested.

“They care not about that. There are five of them and one of me.”

“What are we going to do?” she asked. Galeren could sense the unease within her.

“Don’t worry. I won’t let them hurt you,” he said with conviction. “Do you trust me?”

“Yes,” she breathed, turning her head to look at him. His eyes were intense yet had a thread of calm within them. However, over his shoulder she saw the men closing in on them and she quickly turned her attention back to the road ahead.

“You must do exactly what I say and keep to it. Whatever happens, don’t look; you won’t want to see it. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” Catherine said as the men caught up to them. Two trotted ahead of them and turned to block their onward passage, while the others stayed behind to secure the rear.

“Can I help you?” Galeren said. His voice was steady and strong but Catherine couldn’t prevent herself from shivering. The leader of the group, or the one who had chosen to speak for them, smiled and lent forward in his saddle, his face becoming streaked with grimy rivulets as the rain pelted it. He cast his gaze approvingly over Catherine, then fixed his eyes on Galeren.

“Save yourself a beating and give us the woman and we promise to give her back to you in one piece when we’ve finished with her.” The others laughed at this and Galeren tightened his grip around Catherine to reassure her.

“I don’t think there’ll be much left of her when you’ve finished,” Galeren remarked keeping his eyes on the leader who nodded his agreement and flashed Galeren with another toothy grin.

“You’re probably right but that’s the chance you’ll have to take to save your own skin.”

“I take no chances,” Galeren said coolly. “This woman’s skin is more precious to me than my own, so the answer is no. I now offer you a choice,” he continued as a dark mask fell over his face and a snarl formed on his lips, “take your group of filth and turn about, or I promise there’ll not be much left of you when I’ve finished.”

The leader laughed at this and the others joined him, though he was a little unnerved by the lone knight’s cool confidence.

“Gutsy,” he said and looked about him at his men. His eyes did the talking, indicating to Galeren what their next move would be. The tension grew and Catherine could feel her heart beating out of her chest.

“But I don’t fancy your chances,” the man finished and Catherine heard the scrape of steel as it left a scabbard and felt Galeren’s hand on her side. He gave her a good firm shove and she flew out of the saddle.

“Get down and cover your head!” he screamed, as she hit the sodden dirt. She did, just as Red reared up over her, his hooves crashing down beside her head. More hooves circled her and she heard more swords being drawn and then someone scream out a warning. A horse whinnied in the agony of injury and she felt the earth shake as it crashed down onto the ground, trapping the screaming rider beneath it. In the chaos and screams she heard flesh tear and felt the splash of something warm and wet cover her hands, but she dared not look up. The screams went through her as she heard more tearing followed by thudding, like the ground was being pelted with something other than the rain. Though she had heard swords drawn, she heard no clash of steel against steel, only tearing, thudding and blood curdling screams.

And there was another sound, strange, out of place and terrifying. It was the snarls and guttural cries of an animal. Her heart almost stopped, as she realised that it was an animal she recognised. She could not hear Galeren’s voice through the fray, only the awful screams of the mercenaries and terrible ripping sound. Despite Galeren’s commands, Catherine felt compelled to look upon the scene, dreading that her instinct would prove true.

Slowly, she looked up, and to her horror saw what she had feared. It was a wolf, a huge white wolf, drenched in blood. Its teeth were bared in a terrifying grimace as it launched itself at one of the men. The man stood, his sword raised in defence, ready to bring down his attacker. He did not stand a chance. The wolf flew gracefully through the air and the man swung his sword in a feeble attempt to fell it, but he was too slow. The wolf slammed into his chest, knocking him to the ground and its jaws, wide and ready, clamped shut on his forearm.

Catherine shuddered as she heard the crack of bone, followed by tearing and then a pop as the man’s arm was ripped from its socket. His cries were inhuman. The wolf tossed the arm from its mouth and it hit the ground just inches from where Catherine lay, the sword still firmly gripped in its hand. Stood on the writhing mercenary’s chest, the wolf wasted no time in finishing him. Its teeth now took the man’s throat and tore with such force that his head was all but separated from his body.

Catherine covered her mouth to prevent herself from crying out, but the wolf sensed it was being watched and turned its gaze upon her. Catherine saw Galeren then; his eyes were fixed furiously on her. She knew it was him; though it may not have been his body, it was his eyes. Though she recognised them, they were unlike those she was used to looking into. They were wild, they were animal. The huge white wolf began to pad towards her, its teeth bared. Was he going to attack her?

Purchase The Wolves of Solomon at:

About the Author

Rebecca Blackhurst was born in Essex in 1972 but grew up in Bahrain and southern Spain. Possessing an incurable wanderlust, she travelled the globe for years before settling back in the UK to complete a degree in Earth and Planetary Sciences and PhD in Astrobiology.

Growing up on a diet of science, science fiction and fantasy, Rebecca has scribbled down stories and ideas for years but only after moving to New Zealand, for a change of lifestyle, has she been able to get her teeth into writing.

When she isn't writing, Rebecca makes natural soaps and skin care products as "Soapernatural" and sells her wares at local arts and crafts markets and fetes. Having a passion for wolves, Rebecca has two German shepherds and can often be heard howling into the night with her pack.

The Wolves of Solomon is her first novel, but she has recently published the sequel, Wolf. Driven by her characters, she has just started a third book in the series, the prequel to The Wolves of Solomon.

Contact Rebecca at her website or on Facebook.

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Author Interview: Jason Rolfe

Alex Hargreaves is being haunted by the past. But the ghosts that plague him are born of science, not superstition. As a Security Specialist for the ISA, Alex has a memory implant that allows instantaneous access to memories – both good and bad. He can recall facts and figures with unfailing accuracy, but cannot move past the painful sense of death and abandonment made manifest by the tragic loss of his wife and daughter. Those memories, like all the memories within his mind, remain excruciatingly present.

When communication with an isolated Deep Space Observatory is lost, Alex and his synthetic partner, Persephone, are sent to investigate. The Cochrane is a small observatory tucked within a pocket of relative inactivity. A single data analyst runs it on a six-month rotation. Six months in the emptiness of space can feel like an eternity. Depression is a common problem. Suicide and accidental death are not unheard of at stations like Cochrane. Alex and Persephone are sent to learn which of these fates has found Amanda Hayes.

Purchase Synthetic Saints at Vagabondage Press

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always wanted to write. I honestly couldn’t say when that realization hit me, but it likely happened soon after learning how to read. I remember writing an awful lot about the books I read, the work of writers like Saberhagen and Gordon R. Dickson, Michael Moorcock and, in particular, Phillip K. Dick. Thankfully I kept these hand-written gems to myself, and all save a scarce few, have been lost.

Why do you write?

I suffer from chronic anxiety and depression – writing helps. I use writing to sort things out in my mind – every-day issues sure, but my personal philosophies as well.

Is being a writer anything like you imagined it would be?

It’s not. Not really. I always pictured living in a bubble, cut off from everyone while I punched out story after story. The truth is that writing is a community affair. My isolationist visions could not be further from the truth. I love it. I love working with editors and publishers, and I’ve met boatloads of writers. Writers, editors, and publishers share a common love of story. Ultimately we’re all working toward the same goal – the proliferation of the imagination – so there is never a lack of encouragement. Even the most dastardly rejection slips are constructive! I expected a lonely existence. I was pleased to be mistaken.

What do you think makes a good story?

At the heart of every good story is something quintessentially human. Love, loss, jealousy, hatred, humour – it’s the humanness of the story that draws me in. Intelligence too. The stories I find compelling are the ones that make me think (or challenge the way I think).

What's your favorite genre to read?

I’m a fan of good writing regardless the genre. Fantasy was probably my first love, followed by Science Fiction and finally horror, but my favorite novels often skirt those boundaries, or exist outside of them altogether – writers like Atwood, Gibson, or Ishiguro and Murakami have written brilliant science fiction, but I wouldn’t call them science fiction writers.

Who is your favorite author or poet?

I have a hard time pinning down any one writer. I love different writers for different reasons. Rhys Hughes is brilliant. His wit and his wordplay are second to none, and his work means something. Neil Stephenson and William Gibson are great while Rushdie and poet David Jones use language so beautifully. I love Mark Valentine for his subtleness, while Reggie Oliver is an incredible storyteller. Overall I would say Rhys Hughes is my favorite writer. I think he is a genius, and I think he deserves much more recognition than he gets. Michael Moorcock, Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, Brendan Connell, Haruki Murakami, Kazuo Ishiguro, Neal Stephenson…seriously, I could go on for a while without running out of options. Reggie Oliver, Quentin S. Crisp, Michael Cisco, Mark Valentine, John Howard…

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?

Fred Saberhagen’s ‘Berserker Wars’ and Moorcock’s ‘Elric Saga’ strongly influenced not only my reading preference but my writing style when I was younger. As I’ve grown (and hopefully matured) my influences have changed with me. Arthur Clarke, Stanslaw Lem and Phillip K. Dick are strong influences on my science fiction, while writers like Hughes and Connell are (hopefully) influencing my courage and style as a writer moving forward. They are fearless writers. I really envy them.

What books or stories have most influenced you as a person?

Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is, in my mind, a perfect example of the power and purpose of prose. Widely considered a piece of supernatural fiction it’s actually a powerful story about the role of women in late Victorian society, and the unfortunate view of depression during that same time period. Stories can mean something, and they can make a difference.

Where/how do you find the most inspiration?

I am a book collector. My library is definitely my muse. I’ve found stories in even the most mundane texts. When I’m stumped about something to write about I’ll walk in there, find a book and start reading.

What does your family think of your writing?

They have always been very supportive. My parents and my sisters have always encouraged me, and are happy I’ve finally taken their advice about publication. My wife has been extremely supportive. She always makes sure I have time to write.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I have a day job that eats up 9+ hours a day. I try spending as much time as possible with my wife and daughter which makes writing difficult to schedule at the best of times. So when opportunities do present themselves I can’t squander them. I write either in the morning, before my wife and daughter wake up, or at night after everyone has gone to bed. When your time is constrained it’s important to write something every day. The worst thing that can happen is loss of momentum. My writing schedule is far less rigid than I’d like it to be, but as I said, I try making the most of the time I do have.

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?

I’m not sure this qualifies as a quirk, but before I start writing anything else, I write what Allen Ginsburg called an “American Sentence”. It helps clear my head. I have a notebook full of them, mostly about my daughter, my wife, books, writers, that sort of thing.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

For me, focus is the most challenging thing about writing. Because time is such a factor, new story ideas constantly overlap works in progress. If I sat down this year and finished all the stories I’d started, I’d be a much more prolific writer.

What are your current projects?

Well, I’ve recently finished the rough draft of a follow-up to Synthetic Saints. It’s a much longer piece, and was loads of fun to write. I’ve also finished an odd little story I’ve been working on for quite some time. I have numerous short stories I intend to polish and submit in the coming months, clearing my plate for a larger project I have slowly but steadily been piecing together.

What are you planning for future projects?

I have put the framework in place for a novel, really a collection of interrelated stories, about the fine line between love and madness. When I look at my own life, the times I’ve felt the craziest, the most emotionally unstable, involve love in its myriad forms. The heart and the mind don’t always see eye-to-eye. I really want to explore that, and I think this novel will help me do it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Have fun and persevere.

Where else can we find your work?

I am an associate editor at Horror Bound Magazine, and co-editor of the anthology Fear of the Dark. You can find my book reviews, interviews, and essays at, along with a few short stories. Fear of the Dark contains stories by Paul Kane, Christopher Fowler, Carol Weeks and others and is something I am extremely proud of. I’ve an article on Frederick Rolfe appearing in Issue #19 of Wormwood (published by Tartarus Press) that I am particularly excited about. My blog, Bibliomancy, contains essays, interviews, and book reviews as well.