LIKE MY FACEBOOK PAGE – FOR PRIZES!

I’m currently sitting at 90 Likes for my Facebook page – which you can find by clicking HERE

I’ve been waiting an age, it seems, to get to that magic ’100 Likes’ so I’m going to award the next 10 people who hit LIKE by giving them the following prize package, in whichever e-reader format they’d like.

Prize Package consists of:

Far From Home: The Complete First Series

Far From Home: The Complete Second Series

Collected (Far From Home Short Stories)

The Bloody North (The Fallen Crown Book 1)

Dead Pretty

and not only all of these, but a free copy of Spectre (Far From Home 16) when it’s ready.

So what are you waiting for? HIT LIKE!

I’ll be contacting each of the lucky 10 people in turn once I’ve hit 100 likes.

The Marcel Proust Questionnaire: Bernard Schaffer Edition!

This week, my good friend Bernard Schaffer is here to answer Proust’s infamous questionnaire – enjoy!
1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I had a vision of myself in roughly a years time. I was in Spain, walking alone in the beach, in perfect shape, tanned, and far wealthier than I am now, but still, alone. I believe I was researching the 3rd (final) Girl From Tenerife book and in many ways things had gone both incredibly wrong and incredibly right in my life. I can’t say if this was a good or bad vision but it was what I saw, and in many ways, I feel compelled to see if it manifests. Was I happy? Perfectly happy? I’m not sure that is possible. If I die an old man in a private villa surrounded my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren and my wife and lovers and maids I’ve impregnated and somewhere along the wall are shelves of all the many books I’ve written and series I finished before running out of gas, then I suppose, in those final moments I will look around and feel perfect happiness. Mainly because I know I left this life the way that I lived it. Like a lion.
2. What is your greatest fear?
I have no fear of death or what lies beyond it. I’ve made peace with my own realization that there is probably nothing else after this and my many questions will never be answered. My only fear, as anyone who has ever read my work knows, is for those I love.
3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I tend to agonize over things I’ve done or said in the past. I have a deep sense of shame over various things that probably don’t amount to much. I tend to torture myself over non-essential things.
4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Either indecisiveness or unwarranted ego.
5. Which living person do you most admire?
Muhammad Ali.
6. What is your greatest extravagance?
A 60 inch 3-D TV and PS4
7. What is your current state of mind?
Focused
8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Religious virtue. Not spirituality or commitment to faith, but the idea that people are virtuous because they participate or administrate religion is not only overrated, it is dangerous.
9. On what occasion do you lie?
I lie when I think the truth will really hurt someone’s feelings. I have a sharp tongue that’s like a wild, snapping dog, and I keep it leashed and muzzled for the good of all.
10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I’ve had a bald spot on the right side of my head for over a month that the doctor said is alopecia. It appears the cream is working and hair is beginning to grow again. I wouldn’t mind being bald, or losing my hair, I’d just rather do it in the conventional places like everyone else, not on the side of my effing head.  Also, I would like to be one of those shirtless guys on the beach.11. Which living person do you most despise?
oh but the list is too full to mention.
I’d say it’s a toss up between any of the unAmerican fear mongers at Fox News and the despicable filth of Westboro Baptist Church. Take your pick.

12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
The sheepdogs who look after the rest of the flock.
13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
That they are women.
14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Lately, it’s been anything with the words “World Cup” as I’m sure everyone around me will gladly attest to.
15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
The kids
16. When and where were you happiest?
On the day my both my kids were born
17. Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to make something, or to fix something. I wish I was a master craftsman at something like knife-making or wood-working, or could repair air conditioning units or car engines. Someday I would like to know how to do something substantial enough that if someone I knew needed a fix, they could come to me.
18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My financial status
19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
The kids, obviously, except I feel funny saying they are my achievement. They are really their own achievement. I am simply a guide along the way…sometimes a boot to the behind, of course, but whatever they do in their lives will be their own accomplishment and I won’t take credit for it. I’m proud of my writing. I’m proud to be who I am in the writing community. I’m proud to know I’m part of the independent publishing movement.
20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
A red-tailed hawk. Love ‘em.
21. Where would you most like to live?
Let’s see…a beach house, a farm, a city flat, a compound with houses inside it for everyone I love.
22. What is your most treasured possession?
My book collection
23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
My father once told me I’d changed my mind about more things than anyone he knew and that he was still the exact same person he’d always been and still believed the exact same things. I regard the lowest form of misery as anyone who lives through life and never cares or seeks to learn or grow.
24. What is your favorite occupation?
Writing
25. What is your most marked characteristic?
My eyes, or so I am told
26. What do you most value in your friends?
Consistency. Too many of my friends have come and gone.
27. Who are your favorite writers?
Hemingway, JK Rowling, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Richard Matheson, Elmore Leonard
28. Who is your hero of fiction?
James T. Kirk
29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Hemingway
30. Who are your heroes in real life?
Muhammad Ali, Marlon Brando, Jesse James, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Abraham Lincoln, Joe Konrath, Michael Jordan, Hemingway, Alan Moore31. What are your favorite names?
Brandon and Julia and Izdehar

32. What is it that you most dislike?
Failing
33. What is your greatest regret?
That it took me a while to grasp the potential of Kindle and eBooks and I missed the very first wave
34. How would you like to die?
Pretty much how I described perfect happiness. Maybe with a bottle of tequila thrown in for good measure.
35. What is your motto?
Stay focused and work harder

Far From Home: Series Three I PLAN TO ROCK YOUR SOCKS OFF

I originally intended to complete the Far From Home series with one novella and three novels. However the story I have planned is far bigger than I first thought, and so I have decided to jettison the idea of finishing Far From Home with novels and return it to its serialized roots, instead.

I’m still in the process of getting everything in place so that I can do it, but I will be writing Series Three as 15 episodes. You can count on there being at least 1 per month . . . but I’m hoping to put out 2. Don’t quote me on that (I know some of you still will!) but that’s my goal. I have other writing responsibilities that have to happen in-between, too. But this format allows me to do that – and have a lot of fun with the story.

So by the end, Far From Home will consist of 30 parts. Some of them novella length, some novel length. As a whole it’ll be close to half a million words long.

At the end of Vengeance (Far From Home 15) I left the series on perhaps the biggest cliffhanger yet, with everything thrown up in the air. Spectre (Far From Home 16) will delve into events that took place parallel to those in Vengeance, and then pick up where it left off.

These last fifteen installments of Far From Home will tie up every loose end that’s thus far been left hanging, and as the title of this post suggests, I plan to rock your socks off doing so.

I’ll have more details on when you can expect the first episode (#16) in Series Three to arrive. But in the meantime, here is the cover:

S3 16

The Marcel Proust Questionnaire: Tony Healey Edition!

I recently saw something on ‘Brain Pickings’ in which David Bowie answered the infamous series of questions laid down by Marcel Proust. So I decided to have a go at answering them myself. In doing so I tried not to overthink any of the answers, to simply put whatever came to mind, on the theory that that answer would be the most honest.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

– Any moment I’m afforded the luxury of daydreaming

2. What is your greatest fear?

– The uncertainty of what lies beyond death – if anything

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

– That my best comebacks always happen after the fact

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

– Condescension

5. Which living person do you most admire?

– The Boss

6. What is your greatest extravagance?

– A 50 inch Television

7. What is your current state of mind?

– Too busy for my own good

8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

– Forgiveness

9. On what occasion do you lie?

– “Did you leave the toilet like that?”

10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?

– Everything from my head down

11. Which living person do you most despise?

– Kerry Katona – has there ever been anyone worse?

12. What is the quality you most like in a man?

– That he is what he says he is

13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?

– That she is what she says she is

14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

– Fuck

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

– My wife, Lesley

16. When and where were you happiest?

– I’ve never been happier than I am now. But my most cherished memory, something I hold very dear, dates back to 1986: Guy’s hospital, London, pretending to listen to my brother Danny’s heartbeat with a plastic toy stethoscope. It’s a sad memory, since he died later that year, but it’s also the one I cherish most because I’m so lucky to have it.

17. Which talent would you most like to have?

– Turning back the clock

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

– My itchy nipple (perhaps I’ll cut it off . . .)

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

– There are three (at the moment) and their names are Leah, Freya & Olivia

20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

– The wind, since I’ve had practice making so much of my own

21. Where would you most like to live?

– Somewhere in the west country, overlooking the sea

22. What is your most treasured possession?

– The blue Woolworth’s teddy I’ve had since I was 1 years old

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

– Never achieving any of your dreams

24. What is your favorite occupation?

– Writing

25. What is your most marked characteristic?

– My pointy spock ear

26. What do you most value in your friends?

– That they keep their distance

27. Who are your favorite writers?

– Science Fiction: Arthur C. Clarke, Fantasy: Joe Abercrombie, Short Stories: Harlan Ellison, Literature: John Irving & Michael Chabon, Horror: Early Stephen King (before he got sober and lost it), Crime: Any of the writers published by Hard Case Crime, Novelisations: Alan Dean Foster

28. Who is your hero of fiction?

– Grady Tripp

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

– Zefram Cochrane

30. Who are your heroes in real life?

– Film: Clint, Music: The Boss, Books: Arthur C, Politics: George Galloway, Locally: Whoever has the balls to try the XXX chilli burger at ‘Burger Off’.

31. What are your favorite names?

– Tobias & Lola

32. What is it that you most dislike?

– See question 4. That, again. Times two.

33. What is your greatest regret?

– That I wasted so long NOT writing

34. How would you like to die?

– In my sleep, completely unaware of the fact

35. What is your motto?

– “It’ll be alright”

Guest Post: Courtney Cantrell @courtcan and “Rethana’s Tower” !!!

“Rethana’s Tower” has been waiting nearly 12 years to see the light of day.

It was Christmas 2002, and my husband and I were living in Germany. As one does, we braved the cold and snow to go visit various Christmas markets with friends — and if you’ve never been to a German Weihnachtsmarkt, dearies, you are really missing out. I gotta tell ya. So. We’re traipsing around the town of Annaberg-Buchholz (Annamountain-Bookwood, if you must know) in bitter cold, warming our hands on ceramic mugs of Glühwein (hot, spiced wine), when somebody says, “Hey! Let’s go visit the church building!”

So, we go visit the church building. It’s Lutheran, it’s big, it’s got a bell tower. We climb said tower, and what do we find but a tour group onto which we latch. Or rather, my friends latched onto them. Me, I stood back and watched and listened. Wheels were turning.

You see, there was an apartment up there. It’s where the bell ringers had lived since medieval times. They moved goods up and down the well of the tower not via the wooden staircase but via lifts made of platforms, ropes, and pulleys. The tour guide handed out ear plugs, but I was barely there anymore. I was in another time and place, where a magical Someone was hiding in the bell tower apartment with her family while soldiers scoured the town for them. I was watching her sneak out into the tower well at night, intent on magical mischief against intruders. Just in time, I stuffed the ear plugs into my ears.

And then somebody rang Anna.

Anna was the biggest bell. Anna was the loudest bell. And we were standing right under her.

I stuck out a hand and touched the stone wall. I felt Anna’s mighty song through my fingertips, in my arm, and all the way up to my shoulder. Her music set off a reverberation in my soul that hasn’t stopped since. Anna’s music gave me Rethana, my magical Someone who insists that I tell all of her stories. I took Anna’s tower and gave it to Rethana for keeps.

“Rethana’s Tower” began as the prologue to two Legends of the Light-Walkers novels, Rethana’s Trial and Rethana’s Surrender. The tone of this story is so different from the novels, it’s quite clear that it needs to stand on its own…just like that tower I climbed one snowy Christmas. And Rethana’s mischief is the music at its heart.

Enjoy. I hope the melody reaches you the way it did me.

“Rethana’s Tower”:

Before the rumors of war and conscription by vengeful clerics destroyed her idyllic life in Rethana’s Surrender, Rethana Chosardal lived comfortably as a bellringer’s daughter. With dark times far behind her family and the darker times of future unknown to her, Rethana plays with the magical powers that are her birthright.

And like any willful girl with more power than sense, she gets up to mischief.

A nighttime intruder to her bell tower, intent on mischief of his own, has Rethana more than confident she can stop him. Not just stop him, buthumiliate him. Like any proper mischief, though, it won’t be easy. After all, dodging her crotchety great-grandmother and nearly falling to her death aren’t exactly her idea of fun.

But without this one night of magical pranks, the events of Rethana’s Surrender and Rethana’s Trial might never have happened. Read the light-hearted tale that started it all during one moonlit, roguish climb up Rethana’s Tower.

Approximately 5100 words. Buy “Rethana’s Tower” for $0.99 on Kindle or check it out from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library for free (with an Amazon Prime account).

Visit Courtney’s blog, Court Can Write or find her on Twitter.

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