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Andrew's horror novella, 'The Bathtub', is now available.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Well, Well, Well…acceptance

I’ve had some good news, that my horror/adventure novella, ‘The Well’, has been accepted for publication.  As usual, I’ll refrain from naming the publisher until contracts have been signed.

The story concerns an heiress who wakes up at the bottom of a well, and a college nerd who is stuck up a tree.

The story is very much in the vein of my literary hero, the late, great Richard Laymon, and I like to think of ‘Well’ as a tribute to him, with some of the elements he sometimes included.  I’ve got a feisty blond heroine, a slightly nerdish hero, and the type of plot that I hope Laymon might have used.  I only hope readers think it’s a fraction as good as the great man’s work.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Preview: The Journey, by Gianna Bruno

Released by Eternal Press, 7 December 2010


They don't hang witches in Salem anymore, but Milena's punishment is being shunned. When her lover Thomas' ship is lost at sea, she fears he perished with the rest of the crew leaving her alone in a town bracing for a war over slavery, but still rife with an older form of prejudice.

Milena travels into the Forest and Sea Otherworlds to search for him, paying the fairies for her passage with bodily pleasures. Circe, the evil mermaid holding Thomas hostage, demands even more. She faces off against Circe in her underwater lair, endures the wrath of a colony of escaped slaves, and learns the terrible truth of what led to the shipwreck that left Thomas as its only survivor.

On the long journey, Milena learns to use her powers in ways she never imagined and discovers surprising truths about her own past. Left questioning everything she has ever believed, she must make the choice whether to return home with Thomas or stay in the Otherworlds forever.

“The journey is not about the destination, but rather overcoming the obstacles along the way.”

So says the tag for Gianna Bruno’s new novella, ‘The Journey’, which will be released by Eternal Press on 7 December. The story is about more than destinations or obstacles, though. It is about a woman who will do anything, and go anywhere for the man she loves. As such, it is very much a story about an impressively drawn character.

Milena’s lover Thomas is lost as sea shortly before the War Between the States. ‘The Journey’ follows Milena’s quest to find her love and takes her over much of the US’s eastern seaboard and beyond – so far beyond, in fact, that her travels take her to the Otherworld itself.

The plot is well thought through, and enough to keep the reader gripped on its own. The story’s highlight, though – as with Gianna’s previous Eternal Press release, ‘Hot Chocolate Kiss’ – is the strength of the main character. Milena is totally committed to her man. Not in any wimpish way, but with the sort of love and passion that makes her a strong heroine.

It might have been easier to have written this as an adventure story. Gianna shows everything through Milena’s eyes, which gives the tale an additional strength. Throughout, the reader wants to know what will happen to Milena, and whether she will ever live happily ever after with Thomas.

The story begins just before the outbreak of the American Civil war, and in particular highlights the misery of the slave trade. The prejudices and beliefs of the time are well illustrated, in particular, the villagers’ attitude toward Milena – a witch. The heroine’s sense of desolation at being shunned at a time when her man is missing, and she most needs a friendly face, is soon magnified by the plight of escaped slaves she meets.

Even to one unfamiliar with the period Gianna writes with a confidence that assures the reader of its historical accuracy.

‘The Journey’ is an erotic romance – and rightly comes with a high heat rating. Gianna doesn’t pull any punches with this aspect, and writes the sex scenes with the same confidence as the story’s other elements. The erotic element is all in context, though, and fits seamlessly into the story.

In all, this was an entertaining and thought-provoking read.

And, finally, Gianna will be giving away a copy of ‘The Journey’ to one reader who leaves a comment below.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Doe-Dragon – Front Cover

The front cover for ‘The Doe and the Dragon’ has been finalised – here it is! Thank you again, Genene, for your work on it.

The release is likely to be in Spring 2011.


Monday, 18 October 2010

Cover Art

I’ve been fortunate with the cover art for all my novels.  I’ve been chuffed with the pictures I’ve had for every book so far.

‘The Doe and the Dragon’ looks like being another impressive cover.  The picture is still being finalised, but artist Genene Valleau has come up with something particularly striking and eye catching.  I can’t wait to see the final version. 

Thank you Genene!

See more covers from Genene at:

Sunday, 3 October 2010

I’m Back!

There has been quite a hiatus recently, which has stopped me writing and posting updates. 

I had a great family holiday in North Wales.  Not only was it wonderful be be back amid Snowdonia’s breathtaking scenery, it was refreshing to revisit some of the sites I used in ‘Andraste’s Blade’ and ‘The Doe and the Dragon’.  I also had a flickering of an idea for a new work, but maybe more on that in due course!

I’ve also spent a lot of time editing ‘The Doe and the Dragon’ for Rogue Phoenix Press.  It seems to have taken me ages, and almost prompted me to promise myself never to write anything that long again.  I hope it’ll be worth the effort, though, as I’ve got a soft spot for this story.

Then, just as I was about to get back into the groove with my current novel…my wife got rushed into hospital.  All will be fine, but she is still very weak.  It turned out to be e.coli, and I can see why it can be very dangerous in the young, old or inform.

So, that’s a couple more weeks without writing, and I’ve spent the lat few days in North Wales again, this time on business.  I did manage to stay an extra night after my meeting, though, so I got a couple of walks in as well as a night in my favourite inn, the Tyn-y-Coed.

So, now I’m back, and I hope all will return to normal writing-wise.  I know I owe a few reviews and critiques, and after the hiatus I need to work on my Critters standing, so it might still be a while before I can type anything new.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Rogue Phoenix Press

So, contracts have been exchanged, and it’s all official – Rogue Phoenix Press will publish ‘The Doe and the Dragon’.  The book will be available both electronically and in print. 

I’ve no news of a release date yet, but I’ve just finished the first round of edits.  I don’t like this stage of the writing process, and it’s taken two long weeks of hard work.  Every time I have a novel published, I swear to restrict myself to novellas in future!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Hammer of God

‘Hammer of God’ is Phil McCormac’s tenth western; this hard hitting and gritty story is a worthy addition to his list of credits.

The theme is one of a good man wronged, and takes us breathlessly through the highs and lows the hero, Deputy Joe Hammer, goes through to bring the bad guys to justice.

After a fierce shootout in which Hammer and a fellow deputy are outnumbered but still slaughter all the gang against the odds, he moves to Mexico and joins a monastery. Trouble continues to follow him, and after several adventures Hammer is sentenced to hang for a murder he didn’t commit. He is wounded in another violent shootout, but at least has the comfort of a hint of a relationship with a rancher’s daughter…

The story is recognisably McCormac, with its tight style and theme of a man fighting for justice against the odds. It has a likeable but realistically flawed hero who manages to extract himself from several seemingly helpless situations to eventually triumph and win the beautiful girl. The pace pulls you along and kept me reading to the end, and ‘Hammer of God’ is yet another worthy addition to my ‘McCormac collection’.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

I’ve been interviewed!

Thank you to fellow Eternal Press author Sonnet Odell for interviewing me for her blog.  The interview is here:

Sonnet’s Eternal Press release is ‘Soul Market’.

Sunday, 25 July 2010


I’ve heard this weekend that a publisher wants my historical fantasy novel, ‘The Doe and the Dragon’. It’s set in 5th century north Wales, and uses local and wider legends to tell a semi-historical story of the generation before Arthur. As usual, in case anything goes wrong I’ll wait until contracts are signed before revealing the publisher.

It’s a time and place that has always fascinated me – I even studied Dark Age Wales at university. I find the half century before Arthur is more fascinating than the period of the great man himself, with the break-up of Roman Britain and the Celtic re-emergence. It was a time of change, with civil wars and the establishment of Saxon and Irish kingdoms on the British mainland, and the beginnings of Christianity’s triumph over the old beliefs. And, of course, there are semi-magical names such as Vortigern, Ambrosius and Cunedda.

The countryside itself lends itself to fantasy writing, with hidden glens, cloud-covered peaks and stunningly-located hillforts. It seems that every stream and hill has a story associated with it.

I’ve tried to capture all this in ‘The Doe and the Dragon’.

While my name will be the one on the cover, as usual thanks are due to others whose help has been invaluable. Phil ploughed his way through my first draft and told me what did and didn’t work. Gianna and Cathy read a later version and in particular helped with the characterisation.

Finally, an acknowledgement to Emma and Peter, who walked countless miles – willingly, I think, particularly when we could find an ice-cream shop - through hidden valleys and over dramatic hillforts while I researched locations on our north Wales family holidays.

More to follow, including an outline of the main characters.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Dark Hedges

Black Horse Western author Phil McCormac sent me a postcard showing the Dark Hedges of Ballymoney in Northern Ireland.  I’d never heard of them, but I almost did a double take when I saw the card – the hedges are almost exactly what I was thinking of when I wrote ‘The Wood’

These trees lean over the road, with their twisted boughs and darkness.  All that is needed is a line of skulls on sticks, and The Wood sits in front of you!

Here are some links for pictures:

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Gianna Bruno – Coffee Time Romance

28 June is Gainna Bruno’s spotlight day on Coffee Time Romance

There will be prizes and previews, and Gianna has invited me to talk about writing love scenes from the point of view of the opposite sex.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

The Shoot - Reviews

Here are a links to a couple of reviews of ‘The Shoot’:

By Gianna Bruno. (This was a preview, to be picky!)

By Seriously Reviewed, who gave the book a very pleasing seventeen out of twenty!

Monday, 31 May 2010

In Praise of the Shorter Form

No, this isn’t a piece about my wife who is five foot zero and wonderful!

I’ve always enjoyed writing and reading novels, with the opportunities for sub-plots and characterisation that their length allows.  I’m not so keen on short stories, but I do appreciate the skill in writing something short and sharp that sticks in the reader’s mind.

I’ve always thought of novellas as a compromise between shorts and novels, and like a lot of compromises they often bring out the weaknesses of both rather than the strengths of either.  But I’m beginning to come around to the idea of novellas.  So, what’s changed my mind?

Well, having ‘The Shoot’ published has helped, although as this started off as a part of ‘The Wood’ that got separated I still tend to think of it in the context of being part of Wood than a stand-alone piece.

It’s being part of the Eternal Press family, though, that has really got me reading.  EP published a lot of novellas, and of course I’ve had the chance to taste several pretty good ones.  Seeing some of the techniques used by other writers has been more helpful than reading any number of ‘how to’ guides, and I’ve learned that it is possible to get everything in a novella that you see in a novel; it just has to be done differently.

While anyone wanting to see how to do a novella well could probably pick up an EP release at random, two of their books show off aspects of the shorter form perfectly.

Gianna Bruno’sHot Chocolate Kiss’ is a masterpiece of characterisation.  Keela Branford is a great character anyway: likeable, and both ordinary and extraordinary at the same time.  I was really impressed with the way Gianna managed to achieve such a well-rounded heroine in only ten thousand words – many full length novels struggle to deepen a character this well.

Frenzy’ is the other EP release I’ll recommend.  This is a gritty story about eight men who find themselves stranded on a lifeboat in shark-infested seas.  Carole Johnstone has put together a cast of complex characters and the story is about the people themselves as much as their predicament.  Carole weaves both strands together seamlessly in only 28,000 words, but doesn’t leave any loose ends – all this without making the work seem rushed.

So, after reading other Eternal Press authors, I’ve changed my mind about novellas, and maybe I’ll have another one published one day.

Friday, 2 April 2010

The Horror of Modern Horror Writing

I read somewhere, once, that as technology moves us forward, it becomes more and more difficult to write horror set in the modern day. 

The introduction of the internet, mobile telephones and the like does tend to complicate things, as I’ve found out in a couple of recent works.  It’s certainly harder to get a character on their own, out of communications with the rest of humanity, when all they have to do is pick up a mobile telephone. 

And what about that top secret installation, miles from anywhere, where horrific experiments have been going on for years?  Or the clearing in the remote forest, where carnivorous beasts previously unknown to nature, live?  Google Earth will have spotted the installation, or the remote caves, within seconds!

Thus, the modern horror writer faces dilemmas that wouldn’t have been thought about, perhaps even ten years ago.  Andraste’s Blade was published in 2005, and even that recently I don’t think it raised any eyebrows that most of my main (modern day) characters didn’t carry telephones.

So, what to do?  Well, an obvious answer is to set a story in the past.  As anyone who knows my work will know, a lot of my writing is based around Celtic myth and set around the time of the legends.  No difficulty there, then (except the problem of getting the period right).

A second answer is to set the story somewhere remote.  Again, that’s something I tend to do anyway.  In remote places, telephone reception is often non-existent, so the problem of communication is lessened.  However, as communication networks improve, I’d expect even this to become a difficulty over the next few years.  It doesn’t take away the problem of aerial photography, though, but that isn’t something I’ve had to address up to now.

So, what about modern urban horror?  What’s to stop our hero or heroine simply ‘phoning for help?  We have to stop them doing that, don’t we?  We need out characters out there facing the horror on their own, so we have to get rid of that mobile.  Having them lose it, and then maybe looking for it, can add an interesting plot twist and a couple of challenging chapters.  Or it can be a pain.  I’ve read one novel (and I can’t remember which one) where trying to find the lost telephone was integral to the story.

So, whatever plot the writer comes up with, modern communications technology needs to be written into it.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

I’m Back!

Not that I’ve been away, but I haven’t posted for a while. So, here’s an update on what I’m doing.

I had a potentially catastrophic PC crash a few weeks ago, caused by a power surge immediately before a power cut. Fortunately I back up regularly, so I didn’t lose much data, although it’s been an ongoing job to get my desktop and links and the like as I used to have them.. However, I did need to buy a new hard drive (upgrade!). I also took the opportunity to switch to Windows 7.

Writing-wise it’s been a bit quiet. ‘The Well,’ a novella about a young woman who wakes up in a…well, is with a publisher who expressed an interest after seeing an outline and a sample chapter.

‘The Doe and the Dragon’, a historical fantasy set around early Welsh legends, will be sent out to publishers soon. Anyone who knows me well will know that for my history/archaeology degree I concentrated on post-Roman Wales which has always been one of my passions (along with Aldershot Town Football Club and horror fiction). I’ve always wanted to write something based on the period, but wanted to wait until I could think of a plot that was both original and did the period justice, and I like to think I’ve managed it here. I also tried to avoid Arthurian clichés, and again I hope I succeeded. The main difficulty was that I don’t know the fantasy genre too well. I couldn’t resist putting some horror elements in, but it is primarily a fantasy work and I hope I didn’t get any important fantasy elements wrong.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Guest Blogging

I'm guest blogging at Roxanne's Realm today, and giving away an electronic copy of 'The Shoot' to a lucky commenter.

Join us at:

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Hot Chocolate Kiss: Character Interview

On Thursday, January 7, Gianna Bruno’s short story "Hot Chocolate Kiss" was released by Eternal Press.

Extreme weather, three witches, two skiers fighting their own demons--and each other…who wins?

The ‘star’ of the story is Keela Branford. Keela’s passion for extreme winter sports, fueled by anger at a cheating soon to be ex-husband, drives her to brave sub-zero wind chills and break a lot of rules--including the one to never ski alone.

Gianna granted me a few minutes of Keela’s time for a short interview between adventures.

You are one of the joys of ‘Hot Chocolate Kiss’, and I’m sure the reader will share your pains and take pleasure in your joys. Tell me about yourself.

Wow, it's nice that someone thinks I'm a joy. I teach high school so my students don't always love me. My ex and kids haven't been treating me too nice lately--they blame me for everything. It's hard not to be bitter, but that's really not my nature. Thanks for the compliment.

You’re going on a bit of an adventure, particularly venturing out skiing alone. What drives you out into the wilds?

We New Englanders-- and folks from New Hampshire in particular where the state motto is "Live Free or Die"-- pride oursevles on self-sufficiency. We also love the outdoors and the natural beauty and majesty of the mountains. They can be as treacherous as much higher peaks in the Western United States and Europe, though.

Physical activity in the natural environment always makes me feel better since it challenges me to push on, to survive.

You’re obviously attracted to Rick. What is it that draws you to him?

I miss being a part of a couple: the coziness of cuddling on cold winter nights or skinny dipping in a pristine mountain lake after a strenous hike on a hot summer day. I don't want to get my hopes up too high that Rick and I will stay together, but for now I'm savoring his attentions. He seems like the perfect balance of outdoorsman to gentleman for me right now.

Hot Chocolate Kiss’s web site at Eternal Press is here:

Readers can connect with Gianna at:

Subscribe to Gianna's webpage forums for character blogs – including Keela’s:

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Hot Chocolate Kiss Author Interview: Gianna Bruno

I’ve invited Gianna Bruno here to talk about Hot Chocolate Kiss, which will be released by Eternal Press on 7th January. Gianna has written non-fiction for a long while, but this is her first stand-alone fiction piece. Readers will delight at Keela’s character, who manages both a charming woman-next-door ordinariness with that certain indefinable ‘something’ that raises her well above the mundane.

First off, thanks for having me, Andrew. It always makes me happy when readers identify with my characters since it shows I've succeeded.

‘Hot Chocolate Kiss’ is your first published piece of fiction, so it’s possible that the name ‘Gianna Bruno’ is going to be new to a few people. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Yes, Gianna is new on the writing scene but her alter ego does freelance work, journalism, and feminist nonfiction. I also write urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and magical realist fiction. Somehow, I found myself venturing into erotic fiction--most of it in the speculative genres-- even though I do come back to reality from time to time.

I know you run a busy life, with a family, a job, and several outside passions. You also spend a lot of time helping fellow writers. How do you fit in time to be creative – do you put aside time or just write when you can?

My life is wild. I have three kids whose foibles and activities keep me running. Plus a big hound dog and a very mean cat who doesn't like the dog--or men. Lots of mess and confusion all the time. But due to the chaos that is New York City, I'm used to doing several things at once and blocking out extraneous noise and stimulation. Riding the subways gives you a finely honed sense of who and what you need to pay attention to and what it is best ignored.

I do volunteer work with women in crisis so I thank the gods everyday for my crazy but happy-go-lucky life, my wonderful, patient and loving husband, and fairly well-adjusted kids. Yoga and ballet keep my physically active (important for writers who sit around and munch a lot). Dance classes keep me quick and sharp, and the music-mostly classical-stimulates the creative and artistic processes. Yoga relaxes and centers me. Two to three hours blocked out of my day three times a week pays me back two-fold with increased productivity and creativity.

Where do I find the time? Well, any writer knows that when you have to write -you do. I get up at 5:30 most mornings for a couple hours of quiet time. I'm most efficient then--fueled course by very strong coffee and carbs (bagels and thick old fashioned oatmeal are my staples) and use the time to organize what must get done that day.

I squeeze in reading/writing during down time, including on the subway and while waiting for the kids at music and dance lessons. I try to do some writing after supper and before I fall into bed about 10 p.m. to read a few pages of published fiction or nonfiction so I know what the current trends are.

And of course, deadlines are a writer's best friend. I pride myself on keeping all my promises to editors, submitting at least one piece of fiction or nonfiction per week, and pitching stories and proposals on a regular basis.

So many editors and other writers have helped me over the years. I am committed to "paying it forward." If they hadn't extended their support and advice, I wouldn't be so successful. This is a tough business.

You’ve said that some people thought you were the inspiration for Keela’s character. Can you confirm or deny!?

Those that know me "see" a lot of my personality in Keela. But Keela is fictional-I'm happily married and not searching for amorous adventures in the wild. Hell, I'm just looking for a few hours of peace and quiet--and sleep.

‘Hot Chocolate Kiss’ has a background of skiing. You write about it with a confidence that has me guessing you know the skiing scene well. What sort of things provide inspiration for your writing?

I lived in Vermont for a while. Thanks to my husband, I spend a lot of time on New England adventures like back country skiing and hiking. The forces of nature are awe inspiring and surreal at times. I've been at the summit of Mount Washington with fog so thick I couldn't see my hand in front of my face, crawling my way from cairn to cairn to avoid getting lost and dying of exposure (in May). I've skied with wind chills well below zero, when brain freeze and hypothermia make you deaf and disoriented.

Even less intense moments: walking through a quiet forest or sitting on the beach on a gorgeous summer day fills me with the sense of a spiritual presence. Those are the moments I imagine the fairies and witches nestled amidst the pines. There are a lot of magical creatures hiding behind rocks on the Atlantic coast. Aliens prefer to make their appearances on the New York City subway, though.

Do you have any other plans for Keela and Rick? Are we likely to come across them again?

Oh, it's very likely they will take a backcountry hike next spring, and Keela wants to try surfing. Being lost in the woods during Samhain might be in their future.

For the immediate future, what are your hopes for Hot Chocolate Kiss?

I hope that readers will understand the deep metaphors in HCK. It's about survival and winning a spiritual as well as physical battle. It's about the wisdom people develop as they get older, and the lessons they learn. It's about staying vibrant, fit, and sexy even though life has other plans.

And in the longer term, for your writing future?

I'm very excited about an historical/paranormal/erotic novella I just finished which is under consideration someplace. Talk about cross genre! I have no idea where that came from, but my beta readers were thrilled with the story.

I'm also working on a humorous mainstream story about a couple in the suburbs trying to "reinvent" their relationship. The working title is At Home With Peter and Sandra and it's got some ménage, BDSM, and M/M scenes.

Here’s a random but not particularly original one to end up with. You’re stranded on a desert island but can take one of each: novel, CD, DVD and luxury. What would you pack?

The CD would be The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky. That music evokes so much magic, especially the Waltz of the Flowers and the Grande Pas de Deux. The DVD would be "A Room With a View" by Merchant Ivory Productions, which is one of the most romantic, sumptuous films I have ever seen. I'm Italian so the backdrop of Florence makes it even better.

The luxury would be a Jacuzzi. Some desert island, huh? Running water, electricity.

Favorite novel: that's tough. My favorite classic is Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is a close second. I think that was my favorite of JK Rowling's series.

And can we reach you on January 7 - launch day?

In addition to hanging around on the Eternal Press Readers Group every day to answer readers' questions, I'll be the guest at a live chat on the Eternal Press website on January 7. Please join me for a trivia contest about New England and skiing, and a chance to win a PDF of Hot Chocolate Kiss. I'll announce the time on Twitter and on my group.

Hot Chocolate Kiss’s web site at Eternal Press is here:

Readers can connect with me at:

They can also subscribe to my webpage forums for Rick and Keela’s upcoming character blogs: