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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Dark Nights - Guest Post and Giveaway

As you know, there is nothing I like better than to host fellow SF or Fantasy authors on my blog and today it is my great pleasure to welcome Christopher Gray to the Flight Deck.  And he has some sound words of wisdom on that thing all writers dread - an unfavourable review!

Dark Nights
Christopher Gray


The machine believed it knew best how to save humanity... even if doing so meant destroying half the population. 

Astrophysicist Doug Lockwood's unusual discovery during his observation of the sun kicks off a chain of events that nobody could have foreseen. The powerful political and military influences that compete to deal with his discovery set Lockwood on a course which will carry him across worlds, and into the grasp of a formidable new intelligence bent on accomplishing its goal at any cost. With Earth itself at stake and time running out, Lockwood and his team must find a way to counter this unprecedented threat before the powerful new enemy completes its plan. Two civilizations are pitted against each other in a desperate struggle for survival.


Meyer shut the door after the last person left and sat down in the nearest chair, directly across from Doug, rather than his usual spot at the head of the table. Doug waited for him to speak.

“It’s a planet,” Meyer said finally. “And it’s in an orbit directly opposite ours, at a distance of approximately one AU.”

Doug didn’t reply. The implications were massive, as were the questions. After a few seconds, Meyer rose from his seat and walked to the window, looking outside at the sloping volcanic Hawaiian landscape as he talked.

“Nobody knows where it came from, but it’s there, verified by NASA.”

“Using their STEREO satellites?”

“Yes, a few hours ago. But you and Foley at Atacama saw it first. STEREO was trained on another star when you logged the object. It took some time to reposition STEREO’s lenses. Because of their orbital distance ahead and behind us, together they will be able to keep tabs on the object at all times. We’re expecting some images soon, which will be free of the sun’s coronal interference.”

“So we’ll have a better view and can determine if its orbit is stable.”


“But that doesn’t explain how it got there.”

“Correct again. But thanks to your discovery, and your reputation, you’ve been invited to an emergency conference in Washington. You’ll be meeting your plane at Pearl Harbor in two hours. Don’t bother to pack, there’s a helicopter on its way here, courtesy of the White House Chief Science Advisor.”


Even if you write a terrific book with wide appeal, you’re not going to please everyone. Negative reviews are sure to come eventually. The most perplexing reviews might contain admissions such as “I don’t like this type/category/genre of book.” This begs the question, if the reader doesn’t like a particular genre, why did they purchase a book belonging to that genre? All you can do is shrug your shoulders.

If you receive a negative review that raised some points you disagree with, you might be tempted to comment on the review to set the record straight. Depending on the temperment of the reviewer, this can be risky. If you feel you can present a reasoned rebuttal to a reviewer that made an incorrect assumption, and you feel a reasonable dialog can follow, then by all means go for it. I always strive to remain courteous and professional.

On the other hand, some reviewers seem to enjoy giving negative reviews, and will pounce on an author that contradicts them. Nothing good can come of an online shouting match, so it’s better to ignore them and move on.

Even professional reviewers can sometimes make errors. Some reviewers have dozens of books in their review pile, and so they may not always be able to devote as much time to a book as they’d like. If a professional reviewer makes a factual error, I email them with the corrections. They actually appreciate the opportunity to correct an error, since they don’t want to appear unprofessional. Again, always remain courteous when conversing.


Christopher A. Gray is a professional freelance writer living in Toronto. He has been a sales agent, project manager, actor, filmmaker, comedy writer & performer and world traveler.


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Monday, 28 July 2014

Welsh Legend Monday - ghosts and ghoulies

Wales is a land full of myths and legends, and has its fair share of ghosts.  I thought I'd share  just a few tales of hauntings from various pars of the Principality.


There was once a lady who died but could not rest in her grave because of her misdeeds, and she haunted the locals until they could stand it no more.  Somehow they enticed her to shrink and enter into a bottle, after appearing in a good many hideous forms; but when she got into the bottle, they corked it down securely, and the bottle was cast into the pool underneath the Short bridge at Llanidloes, There the lady was to remain until the ivy that grow up the buttresses should overgrow the sides of the bridge, and reach the parapet.  In the year 1848, the old bridge was blown up, and a new one built instead of it. So for all anyone knows, she is still trapped in her bottle!

 A small river runs close to the secluded village of Llandegla, and in this mountain stream under a huge stone lies a wicked ghost. This is how he came to be there:

It  not is not known why Ffrith farm was troubled by a ghost, but when the servants were busily engaged in cheese making the spirit would suddenly throw earth or sand into the milk, and thus spoil the curds. The dairy was also visited by the ghost, and there he played havoc with the milk and dishes. He sent the pans, one after the other, around the room, and dashed them to pieces. The terrible doings of the ghost was a topic of general conversation in those parts.
The farmer offered a reward of five pounds to anyone who would lay the Spirit. One Sunday afternoon,  an aged priest visited the farm yard, and in the presence of a crowd of spectators exorcised the ghost, but without effect.

The farmer then sent for Griffiths, an Independent minister at Llanarmon, who enticed the ghost to the barn. The ghost then changed its appearance to the form of a lion, but  could not touch Griffiths, because he stood in the centre of a circle, over which the lion could not pass. Griffiths tricked the ghost  into appearing in a less formidable shape, and it changed into a mastiff, but Griffiths demanded that it change to something smaller. At last, the ghost appeared as a fly, which was captured by Griffiths and secured in his tobacco box,  This box he buried under a large stone in the river, just below the bridge, near the Llandegla Mills, and there the spirit is forced to remain until a certain tree, which grows by the bridge, reaches the height of the parapet. When this takes place, the spirit will have power to regain his liberty.  To prevent this tree from growing, the school children, even to this day, nip the upper branches to limit its upward growth.


There is a picturesque valley between Corwen and Cerrig-y-Drudion, down which rushes a mountain stream, and over this stream is a bridge, called Pont-y-Glyn.  On the left hand side, a few yards from the bridge, on the Corwen side, is a yawning chasm, through which the river leaps and tumbles.  Here people who have travelled by night affirm that they have seen ghosts—the ghosts of those who have been murdered in this secluded place. Among the ghosts, a man who was a servant at Garth Meilio, said that one night, when he was returning home late from Corwen, he saw before him, seated on a heap of stones, a woman dressed in Welsh costume.  He wished her good night, but she returned him no answer.  She, got up and grew to gigantic proportions as she continued down the road.

An exciseman, overtaken by night, went to a house called Ty Felin, (Yellow House) in the parish of Llanynys, and asked for lodgings.  Unfortunately the house was a very small one, containing only two bedrooms, and one of these was haunted; consequently no one dared sleep in it.  After a while, however, the stranger induced the master to allow him to sleep in this haunted room. He had not been there long before a ghost entered the room in the shape of a travelling Jew and walked around the room.  The exciseman tried to catch him and gave chase, but he lost sight of the Jew in the yard.  He had scarcely entered the room, a second time, when he again saw the ghost.  He chased him once more and lost sight of him in the same place.  The third time he followed the ghost, he made a mark on the yard where the ghost vanished and went to rest, and was not disturbed again.

water, well, hole, village, source, bucket, jack and jlll, gnarled tree, grass, hill, idealic, crank, sunny, day, 3d, wallpaperThe next day, the exciseman got up early and went away, but, before long, he returned to Ty Felin accompanied by a policeman, whom he requested to dig in the place where his mark was.  This was done and underneath a superficial covering, a deep well was discovered, and in it a corpse.

Under interrogation, the occupier of the house confessed that a travelling Jew, selling jewelry and such items, once lodged with him, and that he had murdered him and cast his body in the well.

In Welsh mythology and folklore, Cŵn Annwn" hounds of Annwn") were the spectral hounds of Annwn, the otherworld of Welsh myth. They were associated with a form of the Wild Hunt, presided over by Gwynn ap Nudd. Christians came to dub these mythical creatures as "The Hounds of Hell" or "Dogs of Hell" and theorised they were therefore owned by Satan. However, the Annwn of medieval Welsh tradition is an otherworldly paradise and not a hell, or abode of dead souls.
They were associated with migrating geese, supposedly because their honking in the night is reminiscent of barking dogs

The Cŵn Annwn also came to be regarded as the escorts of souls on their journey to the Otherworld.
The hounds are sometimes accompanied by a fearsome hag called Mallt-y-Nos, "Matilda of the Night". An alternative name in Welsh folklore is Cŵn Mamau ("Hounds of the Mothers").

Hunting grounds for the Cŵn Annwn are said to include the mountain of  Cadair Idris, where it is believed "the howling of these huge dogs foretold death to anyone who heard them.The locals claim that the mountain is haunted, and that anyone who spends the night on top of Cadair Idris will wake up either a madman or a poet. Different legends surround the mountain and one of the earliest claims that the giant Idris lived there. Three large stones rest at the foot of the mountain, and legend says that Idris got angry once and kicked them, sending them rolling down the mountainside.  

Other Welsh legends state, however, that Arthur made his kingdom there, hence the name Cadair Idris: or the Seat of Idris.

Pwll-y-Wrach, the Witches Pool.
Click on image for a larger viewThere is a pool hidden from the road on the top of Flint Mountain, in Flint North Wales. The pool is so small that travellers these days would not barely notice it. But this was not always so. In days gone by Flint Mountain was a bare and desolate place and the pool was known as Pwll-y-Wrach, the Hag's Pool or the Witches Pool, the place where the ellyllon (as the Welsh call goblins) would congregate, and thus a place where humans would stay well clear of, especially after dark.

In 1852, on a cold winter's morning, John Roberts a farm labourer was setting out to work when he found a youth blocking his path. With a harmless gesture he made to pass the youth but all of a sudden a force propelled him through the air. He landed face down above Pwll-y-Wrach, and the force held him there despite John's best efforts to free himself. He struggled  until at the sound of a cock crow he was released. The ellyll, still disguised as a youth, stood astride him and warned. " When the cuckoo sings its first note on Flint Mountain I shall come again to fetch you". John got to his feet and stumbled back home, shaken but otherwise unhurt.

The following May, John Roberts died. He had been repairing a wall at Pen-y-glyn on Flint Mountain when it collapsed and crushed him. A lady who witnessed the accident said a cuckoo had come to land on a nearby tree just as it happened. And as the body of John Roberts was being returned to his home the cuckoo  followed, singing from tree to tree all the way to the front door.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Welsh Legend Monday - Twm Sion Cati, the Welsh Robin Hood

Oh yes, it's not just Sherwood Forest that has a famous outlaw who stole from the rich (although it's not confirmed that he gave his ill gotten gains to the poor, but we'll gloss over that.)

As a child, growing up in West Wales, I was enthralled by the tales of Twm Siôn Cati. He  may have become a legendary figure in Welsh folklore. but it seems he actually existed. Thomas Jones, to give him his real name, was of noble blood, born around 1530, supposedly the illegitimate son of the squire of Porthyffynnon (Fountain Gate), near Tregaron, mid west wales and Catherine (Cati), the illegitimate daughter of one of the ancestors of Syr John Wynn of Gwydir. (a rather immoral lot some of these noble families), although it is actually more likely he was  the son of a farmer, Sion (John) son of David ap Madog. It was  common practice in rural Wales, traditionally a matriarchal society, for children with common names to be nicknamed after their mothers, so he became known as Twm Sion Cati.

Twm Sion Cati earned his reputation, roaming the rugged west and mid regions of Wales, robbing from the rich. It is thought he had some formal education and  was a talented poet. He appears to have progressed from being a a common thief and highwayman into quite a crafty and clever conman.
 According to one well known tale he once stole a fine chestnut mare from a farmer named Powell. Twm then painted the animal grey and sold it back to the farmer - who didn't find out how he'd been cheated until rain washed the paint off the horse!

Another tale tells how Twm stayed an inn overnight and learnt that a certain highwayman planned to  rob him the following day. He had a large sum of money with him and allowed the rumour to get around that he had the money hidden in the pack saddle of his horse.The next day, as the robber accosted him, Twm dropped the empty packsaddle in the middle of a pool. The highwayman waded into the pool to fetch it and Twm made off with the highwayman's own horse.

Another time a shopkeeper tried to cheat him by selling him a pot with a hole in it, while claiming the ot was sound. Twm dropped the pot over the man's head, saying that there was certainly a hole in it or he would not have been able to fit such a large thing as the shopkeeper's head inside it!

He was reputed to be compassionate though, and to have avoided hurting those from whom he stole. It is said he was able to secure his victim by firing an arrow which would pin the rider to his saddle, rendering him unable to move, but unharmed

Twm often hid from his arch enemy the Sheriff of Carmarthen in a cave on the slopes of the rugged, densely wooded Dinas Hill, about 12 miles north of Llandovery, close to the village of Rhandirmwyn. Beneath the cave, the mountain river Pysgotwr joins the larger River Towy and thunders through the rocky gorge below. These days Dinas Hill is on RSPB nature reserve and  can be visited by tourists and visitors interested in the legend of Twm Sion Catti.

When Elizabeth 1st came to the throne he was pardoned and returned from Geneva where he had fled to escape the law. He served as steward for the lordship of Caron and later a Justice of The Peace and geneologist, becoming wealthy and marrying an heiress widow. becoming much loved and respected until his death in 1609.

There are several books written about this loveable rougue, including Lynn Hughes' book about Twm, entitled 'Hawkmoor', which was serialised by the BBC in 1977.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Today we're roasting...

UK Author Rachel Brimble.

Come and join the fun at our virtual beach party (now we're actually in the middle of a real British summer, with sunshine and everything) and and you could win your very own copy of 'What Belongs to Her'.


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Unleashed - Book Blast and Giveaway

Untitled Document

Choose the Intro to Unleashed

Sydney Rye is coming to Audio and we need your help picking the narrator!
Emily Kimelman's "Sydney Rye" series features a strong female protagonist and her rescue dog, Blue. It is recommended for the 18+ who enjoy some violence, don't mind dirty language, and are up for a dash of sex. Not to mention an awesome, rollicking good mystery!

Haven't read Sydney Rye yet? Download the first book, UNLEASHED, for free on Amazon, iTunes, B&N, or Kobo and see how she sounds in your head then vote for the best narrator!

Voting enters you to win all sorts of great prizes including Amazon gift cards, signed books, and the finished Audio book! Add to your chances of winning by joining Emily's email list, liking her Facebook page, or telling your friends about the contest.

Here are your choices: (Please vote via Rafflecopter Below)


Prize Details

Every vote, like, share, or sign up is an entry for the "grand prizes" 
$20 Amazon or BN Gift Card
Copy of the Finished Audiobook

More about UNLEASHED:

UNLEASHED is the first book in Emily Kimelman's best selling Sydney Rye series of mysteries.

When the series begins Sydney Rye is named Joy Humbolt. She does not like people telling her what to do, so it comes as no surprise that she was just fired from her last job. When she buys Charlene Miller's dog-walking business on Manhattan's exclusive upper east side, it seems like the perfect fit: Quiet environment, minimal contact with people.

But then one of her clients turns up dead, and Charlene disappears. Rumors say Charlene was having an affair with the victim--and of course, everyone assumes Joy must know where she is. Joy begins to look into the crime, first out of curiosity then out of anger when there is another murder and threats start to come her way.

When police detective Mulberry is assigned to the case, Joy finds a kindred spirit--cynical and none-too-fond of the human race. As they dig deep into the secrets of Manhattan's elite, they not only get closer to the killer but also to a point of no return. One last murder sends Joy Humbolt hurtling over the edge. Her only chance of survival is to become Sydney Rye.

The Rest of The Sydney Rye Series:

DEATH IN THE DARK (A Sydney Rye Novella, #2) 
INSATIABLE (A Sydney Rye Novel, #3)
STRINGS OF GLASS (A Sydney Rye Novel, #4)
THE DEVIL'S BREATH (A Sydney Rye Novel, #5) Coming April 2014

Emily Kimelman Biography

Emily Kimelman is the author of the best selling "Sydney Rye" series of mystery novels including UNLEASHED, DEATH IN THE DARK, INSATIABLE, STRINGS OF GLASS and the forthcoming THE DEVIL'S BREATH. Emily lives with her husband, Sean Gilvey, and their dog, Kinsey Millhone "Pup Detective", on a trawler docked in the Hudson Valley during the summer. She spends her winters traveling to where ever the next Sydney Rye Novel takes place. Right now she is in Costa Rica working on Sydney Rye #6.

If you've read Emily's work and liked it please contact her. She loves hearing from readers. You can reach Emily via email ejkimelman@gmail.com or on twitter @ejkimelman. Follow her on Instagram to see pictures from Emily's latest adventures. Visit www.emilykimelman.com to learn more about Emily and the Sydney Rye series.








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Monday, 14 July 2014

Monday's Welsh legend. Cantre'r Gwaelod - the Welsh Atlantis.

AberystwythThe town of Aberystwyth, where I spent my childhood overlooks the beautiful Cardigan Bay, where dolphins and porpoises play with canoeists and surfers.

 According to legend, there was once a prosperous, low lying kingdom, known as Cantre'r Gwaelod, which stretched along the coast where now the waves lap against the sandy shores.The kingdom was a community of merchants and prices and comprised sixteen thriving cities.

In order to protect the kingdom from the sea, a number of steep embankments were built, with gates, or sluices which were only opened at lif water was needed to irrigate the fields, and kept closed at high tide.

The Prince Gwyddno Garanhir ruled over the land, and he  delegated the working of the sluices to the control of a man called Seithennin,  decribed as a notorious drukard.  One night he became so inebriated he forgot to close the sluice gates and the sea poured through, drowning the kingdom which vanished forever beneath the waves of Cardigan Bay.  At times of danger it is said the bells ring out from the ocean's depths. A famous folk song 'The Bells Of Aberdovey' supposedly refers to the legend.

About seven miles along the coast from Aberystwyth, between the town and Aberdovey, lies the old fishing village of Borth and Ynyslas, Every winter, after storms have scoured away the surface of the sand, at low tide large areas of peat appear, littered with tree stumps and fallen tree trunks. Radiocarbon dating suggests these trees died about 1500 BC. The remains of the ancient forest were especially evident earlier this year when fierce storms swept along the coast, causing much damage and uncovering fresh areas of peat. And in 1770, Welsh antiquarian scholar William Owen Pughe reported seeing sunken human habitations about four miles off the Cardiganshire coast, between the rivers Ystwyth and Teifi.
So perhaps the idea of a submerged kingdom may be more than just a legend, after all.

I often incorporate snippets of Welsh legends into my writing, and I mention the legend of Cantre'r Gwaelod in my  fantasy novella Dancing With Fate, only I use the more ancient name of 'Maes Gwyddno.'

"He’d never known anyone to dance as she did. The way she swiveled her hips had him mesmerized. Her voice was soft and clear, with a haunting quality. It reminded him of the musical bells of Maes Gwyddno, the civilization that now lay drowned beneath the sea. At times of danger, if one listened hard enough, one could hear the bells ringing from beneath the waves."

I  hope you've enjoyed hearing about today's legend.  Do you know any other legends which bear a similarity to 'Atlantis'?

Monday, 7 July 2014

Monday's Welsh myths and legends - the Welsh Loch Ness Monster.

Llyn Afanc is a lake near Bettws y Coed (Translation 'Prayer House In The Wood) in the Snowdonia National Park and is named after the legendary 'Afanc' (pronounced Ahvank)

A lake monster from Welsh mythology, the afanc can also be traced through references in British Celtic folklore, and has been linked to various other places in Wales.

The demonic creature was variously said to look like a crocodile, giant beaver or dwarf,and to attack and devour anyone who entered its waters.

There are many variations of the legend, including one which has the mosnter dwelling at Aberdyfi, and of King Arthur slaying the monster on the shores of Llyn Barfog (the Bearded Lake)  Near Llyn Barfog is a rock with a hoof print carved into it, along with the words Carn March Arthur (stone of Arthur's mare), supposedly made by the horse when Arthur lassoed the afanc with a magical chain and his steed, Llamrai, dragged it from the deep.

Another legnd says many men had tried to kill the monster but its thick hide was impervious to sword or arrow. The wise men of the valley decided  if force wouldn’t work, then the Afanc must somehow be enticed out of his pool and removed to a lake far away beyond the mountains, where he could cause no further trouble. The lake chosen to be the Afanc’s new home was Llyn Ffynnon Las, under the  shadow of Mount Snowdon.

Afanc by Elle Wilson
Courtesy of Elle Wilson
The blacksmith  forged strong iron chains  to bind and secure the Afanc.  There was still the problem of how to entice the monster from the lake. It appears that the Afanc, like many other monsters, was rather partial to beautiful young women, and the brave daughter of a local farmer volunteered for the task. She approached the Afanc's lake while her father and the rest of the men remained hidden a short distance away. Standing on the shore she called softly to him,and when he surfaced sang him a soft Welsh lullaby. So sweet was the song that the Afanc slowly fell asleep.

The men leapt from their hiding places, and with a team of mighty oxen dragged the creature to Llyn Ffynnon Las. There the chains of the Afanc were loosed, and with a roar, the monster leapt  into the deep water, where it is said, he remains to this day, unable to escape to wreak havoc because of the steep rocky banks of the lake.