Saturday, 22 November 2014

New Release Regency Romance - The Curate's Brother ~ a variation of Jane Austin's Persuasion

Wendy Van Camp is one of Fantasy Sci-Fi Network's science fiction and fantasy writers but she is in no way limited to those genres. A lover of Jane Austen novels, her latest work 'The Curate's Brother'  is a variation of Persuasion, a character study between two brothers during a summer in 1806 as they both have summer romances. Released on the 23rd of October 2014, The Curate's Brother could act as a prequel to the famed 1817 novel.



 The Curate’s Brother is a short story about the relationship between the two Wentworth brothers as seen through the eyes of EDWARD WENTWORTH. It follows their romantic antics over one summer in 1806. This short story could be seen as a prequel to Jane Austen’s famous novel “Persuasion”.

Edward Wentworth lives a quiet, structured life as a curate in the regency era village of Monkford. He spends his days ministering to the sick and downhearted, which he considers his life’s calling. His comfortable life is shaken when his elder brother, COMMANDER FREDERICK WENTWORTH arrives on his doorstep for a visit. Frederick has returned to England after seeing action and commanding his first vessel, a prize ship won in the West Indies. He is awaiting orders and has the hope of commanding a ship of his own by the end of summer. His only goal is to pass the time with the only family he has left in England until his next assignment.

At first Edward is glad to see his brother. They have not spent time with each other for years due to his brother’s naval service. They are opposites in many ways. Frederick is bold and likes to take risks. Edward is shy and over-aware of social implications. When his brother flirts with SALLY MARSHALL, an outgoing beauty that Edward is used to viewing as “a child”, the young curate becomes aware that his viewpoint of Sally is sorely outdated. His peaceful life is full of turmoil as he observes Sally flirting with men at public assemblies and realizes that he does not like it.

Meanwhile, Frederick finds himself a celebrity in Monkford. Word from the London papers paint him as “the Hero of San Domingo”, where he won a commendation for his quick thinking in action. The men want to hear the story of his exploits, but Frederick would rather dance with the ladies. The Commander takes an interest in shy wallflower, ANNE ELLIOT. He pays no heed to Edward’s warnings that the girl is the daughter of a baronet and well above his station. Edward fears that no good will come of a union between his brother and the girl due to her family connections.

At the end of summer, a letter and a package arrive that will change everything for the two brothers. Which way will prevail, the bold action of the commander or the quiet manners of the curate?


What fans are already saying about this Austen variation...

"It has been awhile since I read any Austen, but this story made me want to immediately revisit my old favorites!" 5 Stars.
"Good short story. Nice character development but would like to know more about these characters. I would recommend this book to friends and family." 5 Stars.

 An Excerpt to feed your curiosity...
Stepping out into the soft morning sunshine the following Sunday, Edward found his accustomed place to one side of the doorway of the Monkford church. His Vicar took the other.  A mother and father followed by four children were the first to depart.  The father stopping for a moment with the Vicar to chat for a moment before the family set off to walk home.  This was his first day at church since his brother arrived.  That Frederick wanted to come to service and see what he did for his living, pleased Edward.

“Good day, Mr. Wentworth.” The voice was soft, feminine and familiar.

“Thank you for the biscuits, Miss Marshall.  It was kind of you to bring them to the cottage.”

The girl blushed, the ringlets of her hair giving a pleasant bounce as she dipped her head. Was this the young girls that brought biscuits to his doorstep or help organize the contents of the poor box after services? That memory did not fit the girl standing before him now, wearing an adult frock and a bonnet to protect her complexion.  He found the juxtaposition of Sally the child and the adult clothing of the newly come out Miss Marshall to be disconcerting.

Miss Marshall’s attention shifted and her eyes grew wide.  Edward noticed his brother, wearing ill-fitting cast offs from the church in place of his naval uniform, had come to join him.  He was giving Miss Marshall a casual grin that warred with his feral appraisal that swept over her form.  The girl’s eyelashes fluttered and she blushed. Edward felt a wave of discomfort start in his gut and flow to his chest.

“Would you do the honor of introducing me to your fair companion?”

Miss Marshall looked at Edward with expectation and a flash of excitement.  He prevented himself from grimacing. “Miss Sally Marshall, may I introduce my brother, Commander Frederick Wentworth of his Majesty’s Royal Navy.  Frederick, this is Miss Marshall, the daughter of the village apothecary.” Sally gave a polite curtsy to his brother’s bow and the introduction became complete.

More families streamed through the open double doors of the church, filling the narrow porch.  Sally dimpled and said, “Welcome to Monkford, Commander.  Will you be staying long with us?’

“As long as the admiralty allows, Miss Marshall.  I am awaiting reassignment.”

Miss Marshall’s smile diminished, but she rallied. “Mr. Wentworth, you simply must bring your brother to the assembly next week.”

“You have not mentioned an assembly, Edward.”  There was a good natured prodding in Frederick’s voice.

He faced his brother. “I am sure that I would have in time.”  Turning back to Sally, “We will both attend, Miss Marshall, you can be certain.”

The girl gave a clap of her gloved hands and this time her winsome smile included both men.  “What delightful news.  I look forward to telling Papa.” More people were crowding the narrow entry. The girl gave a quick curtsy to the brothers and continued down the steps where her family was waiting.

“What an amiable girl.  You have been holding out on me, Edward.  I wonder what other delights Monkford will hold.”

“Frederick, Miss Marshall is a respectable girl and the daughter of a friend.  If you intend to ruin this girl’s reputation…”  A hand from his seafaring brother on his shoulder stopped him.

“I am returning to sea soon enough. I have no intention of starting a complication here.  Come, greet your parish.  Say no more.”  Edward studied his brother’s face and saw no guile there.  He relaxed. One after another, the people exited the church, pausing either with himself or with the Vicar across the way. 

There did not seem to be a preference by the people of Monkford between the elder Vicar and the Curate.  Though Edward was a scant two and twenty years of age, he was as respected as the Vicar. At least, until the baronet’s family from Kellynch Hall exited the church.

Sir Walter Elliot wore a puce frock coat and appeared well groomed, to the point that his coiffure would be the envy of women.  His silver headed cane gleamed in the morning light. An elegant woman of similar age followed along with two young women. The first girl had elaborate braids, perfect skin, and a dress of the finest cut and quality.  The other was pale, exhibiting fragility. She wore the sprig muslin of an innocent.  Sir Walter never stopped to speak to Edward, a mere curate.  He would only acknowledge the Vicar when he and his family came to church.

He heard a catch of breath behind him.  “Who is that beautiful creature, Edward?”

Edward glanced back to learn who his brother was speaking of and realized he was looking at the baronet’s daughters.  “Miss Elliot is the belle of Somersetshire.  She is Sir Walter Elliot’s eldest daughter.  Reputed to be the heiress of quite a fortune.”  There was much speculation about whom Miss Elliot would settle on.  Perhaps a man of wealth and title would be able to tempt the golden haired beauty.  Sir Walter was in excellent health and while Miss Elliot was quite eligible, neither father nor daughter was in a hurry to find a match.

“No, no, not the fancy one.  The one behind her with the brown hair, the lady’s companion? Pretty little thing she is.”

“That is no companion. Miss Anne Elliot is Sir Walter’s second daughter.”

“She is like a pocket spite, you could just scoop her up and put her in your…”

“Frederick, please.  There are people about.”

 Across the way, Anne Elliot had noticed his brother’s regard.  Her pale face colored a becoming pink and she looked away. 

“Such a shy one.  It might be fun to draw her out.”

“Frederick, did you not pay heed?  She is the daughter of a baronet. Come to your senses man.”  While their father had been wealthy enough to buy Frederick’s commission in the navy and to sponsor Edward an education at Cambridge, they were of the merchant class, no match in status for someone of the peerage.

His brother followed the girl’s progress down the steps as Sir Walter led his party to the carriage that waited at the end of the lane.  “Brother, you will learn that sometimes risk has its reward.” Anne Elliot entered the carriage and a footman closed the door.  His brother turned from the girl and gave Edward his full attention. "Why are you convinced that I have come to cause your doom? Do you think so little of me?”

Edward deflated.  “No.  I suppose I keep thinking of you as the twelve year old scamp that insisted he was for the sea until father gave in to your desires.  I do not know the man that has come back to England.  At least, not yet.”

“Fair enough.  We need a shakedown cruise to clear the decks between us.”  Frederick moved behind Edward to allow more of the parishioners to exit the church. “I hope that we both prove to each other’s satisfaction.”


Wendy Van Camp's inspiration behind the short story...
"Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors and she is the inspiration for my amazon ebook, The Curate's Brother.  I love all her books, but Persuasion is my favorite.  After reading every novel that Jane Austen had written, I started to read fanfiction based on Austen’s novels. Eventually, ideas for a story of my own developed.  Letters from the Sea was my Nanowrimo novel in 2011, but I was never happy with it and I set it aside for two years.  The only part of the book I liked was the first chapter of the book where Edward Wentworth viewed his brother’s romance from afar.  This single chapter became the bud that bloomed into The Curate’s Brother.  The original chapter was only around 4 thousand words long.  After running it by two of my critique groups, I was given enough input to do a complete rewrite of the story.  It is now around 14 thousand words in length and details summer romances by both Edward and Frederick Wentworth.  It is more a character study of the young curate than a true formula romance, and can serve as a prequel to Austen's novel Persuasion.

When I write, I start with a character concept and then use a unique outline formula that I’ve developed from several writing systems as my outline of plot points.  I don’t always base the events of what happens in the story on the formula; it is more to keep my character arcs on track.  I write about people first.  I develop their backgrounds, their connections and views. This is what creates the plot.  Sometimes it feels like the characters are telling me what to write as if they are old friends directing me to write their stories. This certainly was the case with The Curate's Brother.  Edward Wentworth took over the story from his brother Frederick and became the anchor of the tale.  In the end, I believe that this makes the story more interesting."

 About the Author...

Wendy Van Camp is the writer behind the blog No Wasted Ink. She has published memoir shorts in literary magazines, writes non-fiction articles for various art and literature magazines and is a volunteer coordinator for Nanowrimo. Wendy makes her home in Southern California with her husband. She enjoys travel, bicycling, gourmet cooking and gemology.

More from Wendy Van Camp

Amazon Author Page:

Where to purchase

Monday, 17 November 2014

Meet Natasha Brown - Author of YA Paranormal Romance Series 'The Shapshifter Chronicles'

Busy mother of two, Natasha Brown is anything but just a writer. Taking time when she can to write the conclusion to 'The Shapeshifter Chronicles', you may find Natasha hiding out in the back of her car or locked away in her room. However, when she is not hard at work on her projects she is most likely to be hanging out with her fave peeps... her family. Natasha tells us about her writing routine, her difficulties with working on the final book in her series and her love for history and myths...

Natasha was born in Nevada City, California. Being an only child, she resorted to using her imagination while exploring the forest surrounding her home (a nasty habit she hasn't been able to break). Her natural interest in fantasy ignited when her parents read The Hobbit to her as a youth, and from then on anything seemed possible. Once awarded with a Hershey's bar 'the size of a Buick' in her high school English class for creative writing, her passion and interest in literature has never dimmed.
She now lives in Littleton, Colorado with her husband, two children, and two dogs.

Hi Natasha, I'm so pleased you could join me. I hear you keep yourself very busy, what is it that you do with yourself?
I am an elementary school teacher’s assistant and I’m also a very busy book cover designer as well. I absolutely love ALL of my jobs, but I do wish I had more time in the day to do more writing. As it is, I write during the weekend and strive to hit my 3k word count to ensure I produce books quickly enough for my fans.

If only there were more hours in the day... hohum... So what are you working on right now?
I’m writing the fourth book in The Shapeshifter Chronicles now, which I expect is the conclusion for the series. I may write more in the world I created, but for now I’m ending the storyline for Chance and Ana, my protagonists. I am wracking my brain to make sure every little question is answered and I’m conscious about ensuring that my readers will feel satisfied with the ending. A lot is riding on my shoulders and I don’t want to disappoint my fan base. 

Good for you! The end of a series is so important. What is your writing routine then?
Every weekend I take time out to write. I have to write in silence, without distractions from kids, music or television. I usually wind up in my bedroom with the door shut, although I take advantage of quiet moments. For instance, today I wrote in the backseat of my car while my daughter was at a birthday party. 

Haha! Glad to hear I'm not the only one who writes in the car while waiting on kids! What do you do when you find yourself with writers block?
I talk with my husband. When I feel stuck in the plot I feel the need to explore characters and what needs to happen next in the story. I find this is far more important now that I’m writing the last book in my series. The need to connect everything so it makes sense is challenging, and this is the best way I’ve found to resolve issues. Talking it out seems to work for me. 

It is great to have someone to bounce ideas off. Have you used any real events or places as inspiration for your writing? 
I absolutely LOVE researching history and myths. When I find something that fits into my storyline I get so excited. There are many cultural myths, periods in history and real places that I bring into The Shapeshifter Chronicles series. I hope that my excitement over these elements translate and can be felt in the books.
I love that you do that. What song would you choose as the theme song of your book?
I recently heard the song, FixYou by Coldplay and felt it fit perfectly with my most recent release, Emergent.
That song has fantastic lyrics! Who would you choose to read your audiobook?
I’m very excited because I recently hired a voice actor to record, Fledgling: The Shapeshifter Chronicles, Book 1. It should be completed in the next couple weeks on Audible or Amazon.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
I enjoy hanging out with my family; going to the movies, snuggling up on the couch after a long day and playing games.

Do you prefer ebook or hardcopy?
Ebook is so much easier to prep for release, make changes to or update as necessary.

It sure is. 
You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be? 
I may love fantasy, but I also love historical romance. I mean the classics. I would probably want to see what it was like to be Anne Elliot from Jane Austen’s, Persuasion. 

Who doesn't love a classic? I so need to tee you up with this weeks New Release from Wendy Van Camp who has written a prequel to Persuasion... more about that, later this week.

Thanks Natasha, It's been great getting to know you and your books better. 
Natasha's 'The Shapeshifter Chronicles' books are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble... see links below.

·      Genre:  Young Adult Paranormal Romance
·      Synopsis:

When eighteen-year-old Chance Morgan kills another shapeshifter to save his girlfriend, Ana Hughes, he contracts a dangerous shapeshifting sickness that makes him crave power uncontrollably—and without restraint he’s a threat to the person he loves most. Desperate to keep Ana safe from harm and to find a cure for himself, he abandons her in the Yucatan and escapes into the wilderness. Violent memories and voices surface in his head, creating a dangerous tug-of-war between good and evil.

Companionless and alone, Ana meets a woman who claims to have the same shapeshifting and healing abilities as her and vows to teach Ana the skills to help Chance, but as weeks pass she begins to question if her new mentor truly intends to keep her promise.

With time running out, Ana must find the power within herself to heal Chance before he loses his battle against the powerful voices inside his head.

·      Publish date: June 15th 2014


The Fantasy & Sci-Fi Network is a collection of authors, bloggers, and reviewers who are passionate about finding and creating quality fantasy/sci-fi books which are also teen safe (G, PG, or PG-13 rated). The FSF Network believes it is possible to create fantastic works of fantasy and science fiction without resorting to graphic violence, explicitly harsh language, or sex.

FSFN on Facebook
FSFN Website
Twitter hashtag: #FSFNAuthor
Twitter handle: @FSFNet

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

New Release Comic Fantasy: Have Frog, Will Travel - Will Macmillan Jones

Will Macmillan Jones may not be the next Gary Moore but he does manage to entertain people with his engaging series of comic fantasy books The Banned Underground. This Fantasy Sci-Fi Network author released book six in the series on August 24th 2014. 

 Have Frog, Will Travel
The Banned underground
“The council use potholes to encourage people out of their cars.”
“Yes.  Through the windscreen, sometimes.”
"Tolkien Meets Spinal Tap!" More speculative fiction from The Banned Underground collection: Grizelda the off-white witch is forced to speculate about her future in fiction when the Dark Lord tempts her with his cookies, and threatens her with eviction from her cottage if she doesn’t join The Dark Side.
Tempted, Grizelda sets off on a journey of self-discovery, but whatever is she likely to find, apart of course from a few frogs?

Is it Good to be Bad? Or is it Bad to be Good? Or could there be a Third Way? Frogs, Vampires, and assorted Witches all have a different view on her predicament; and the only certainty is Grizelda’s uncertainty … and the usual stream of gags, one-liners and slapstick jokes provoked by her thoughts on philosophy. 

What fans are saying about the series...
"I've read all the Banned Underground books and love them, so I was looking forward to this. I wasn't disappointed.
Now I've just got to rein in my patience and wait for the next." 5 Stars.

"If you haven't read The Banned Underground, you should start right away. This series is seriously worth reading. These books are lots of fun.
" 5 Stars.

 "That’s a great gag," said a certain Jasper Fforde, leafing through a copy of Bass Instinct at Bristolcon Fantasy convention 2 weeks ago....

A Chapter for you to sink your teeth into...

The Cast List
Archlord Lakin                     King Under The Mountain, a great job                                                                                                                     
Guard Captain Verin             Not in his right mind, or the right job                                                                          
The Steward                          Needing a drink, his traditional role
Assorted Dwarf Guards        Trying to avoid their traditional role.

Grizelda                                   A veritable powerhouse
(aka Mrs Dorotea Westinghouse)
The Tuatha                              Possessors of powerful appetites             
Maddy The Prior                     Wants power -but responsibly
The Grey Mage                        Thinks Dirty Deeds should be dirt cheap                                                 
Gloria                                       It’s not easy being a teenager in love.

Ned, Bill & Ben                       Their minds are on higher things.
                                                  (Or higher wages, more likely)
Henry                                        Seeking higher things
Mister Wilberforce                   In the service of a Higher Authority

The Banned Underground

Fungus The Boogieman  Leader of the band             
Haemar                               Banned from leading the Banned
GG                                      Being led into bad ways                           
Scar                                     Playing the Bad Boy boogie                            
Felldyke                              Imagining he is a bad boy                         
Dai                                       Working on his bad boy image


Freya                                    Too good to be forgotten 
Erica                                     Hoping Grizelda might forget
Chris                                     Ditto    
Chapter one
 Henry arose from his seated posture of meditation outside the garden gate and took a deep breath. He ran his hands over his shaven head, adjusted his glasses and gently dusted the dried grasses and sheep droppings* from his flowing saffron robes. Using his newly restored astral balance and inner harmony he opened the garden gate and walked along the narrow path to the door of the cottage, taking care to keep off the grass as the sign warned. He knocked firmly on the door. The doorknocker sneered at him, making him take a hasty step backwards.
* [One hopes the malefactors felt sheepish about their offence.]
“Hang on, I’m coming!” called a voice from within the cottage, and despite the warm day, Henry shivered inside his orange habit. ** The door creaked open slowly, making the sort of noise that would keep a Hollywood sound studio in work for months.
** [Saffron, orange, they are the same colour to me, OK? It is not my fault. And they are both edible anyway.]
“Yes?” asked Grizelda, the off-white witch.
“Om. Have you a moment to hear the Word of Surdin?” asked Henry politely.
“One word? Really?”
“No,” admitted Henry. “It’s quite a few words, really.”
 Grizelda stared at him, then finally nodded.
“Aye, well then. Come into the kitchen and have a cup of tea.”
“Om, thank you.”
Henry bowed, and followed the witch into her kitchen. He looked around with interest. As a professional accountant, he had seen a few thieves’ kitchens, but this was the first witch’s kitchen he had been into. Somehow, he had expected it to be cleaner.
“Do yer want tea?” asked Grizelda, and made herself busy at the stove.
Henry observed her. Middle-aged, average height, and…he stopped. A gentleman does not comment on a lady’s weight, he reminded himself. Even though the industrial quality boots she was wearing considerably increased her weight. In one corner of the kitchen, a broomstick leant against a cupboard. The scrubbed pine table, surrounded by chairs, lay in the centre and behind him – Henry jumped and stepped away from the fridge which was suddenly a lot closer to his back than he had thought.
He felt a cold shiver run down his back, then the fridge door closed again.  “Om. Tea will be...lovely. Thank you.”
Grizelda grumbled to herself, and then tapped the stove with her forefinger. The hotplate promptly opened, and she glared at the kettle until it sidled over onto the heat out of sheer embarrassment.
“Sit yerself down,” Grizelda said amiably.
Henry carefully stepped away from the fridge and sat down on one of the chairs. Grizelda busied herself with cups, and then turned around with a wooden spoon in her hand. She leant across the table towards him and Henry went pale at the view… but Grizelda only smacked the fridge hard with the spoon.
Henry twisted round in his chair and banged his elbow hard on the side of the fridge. “I hadn’t realised it was so close,” he said apologetically.
“She weren’t when you sat down,” replied Grizelda, and started pouring boiling water into the teapot.
Henry looked closely at the fridge, which quivered and then stilled. Grizelda dropped some mats onto the table and added sugar, mugs and the teapot. Then she walked around the table and Henry quivered slightly. Grizelda raised her wooden spoon defensively and opened the fridge door. Henry peered inside, but apart from a stack of red yoghurt pots and two bottles of milk, it seemed empty.
“She needs filling up again really,” said Grizelda absently as she picked up one of the two bottles of milk. “She gets a bit frisky when she’s hungry.”
“Hungry?” asked Henry.
“Mmmm. Well, empty. Mebbe.”
“I think so,” replied Grizelda, speculating to herself. “Actually, after what went on with her and the Electricity Meter Reader last year I hope so.”
Henry regarded Grizelda as she walked back around the table. A small scraping noise startled him and as he turned around the fridge seemed to shimmer a little closer towards him. He leant towards the fridge and started whispering. The fridge jerked backwards, and scraped its way back to the kitchen wall, a flush of rose colouring the silver sheen it normally affected.
“Well!” exclaimed Grizelda in surprise. “I’ve never seen it do that before! How did yer do that?”
The fridge trembled slightly. Henry looked down at the table, mildly embarrassed. “I told her a dirty joke about a washing machine, I’m afraid.”
To his amazement, Grizelda started laughing. “I must tell me husband about that, when he gets home!”
Henry felt unaccountably relieved.
“Next month that’ll be, he’s away on business yer see.”
Henry felt unaccountably nervous as Grizelda treated him to an alarming smile, and sat down at the table.
“Sugar?” she asked, pouring two cups of tea.
“Om. No thank you. Sugar is karmically unsound.”
“Oh.” Grizelda took three spoons full in her tea. “Still, Karma’s not out to get you until yer dead, is it?”
“Om. It can be instant, karma, you know.”
“Like coffee?”
“No. Om.”
“Anyway, what did yer want to tell me about?”
“I’m here to sound you out,” started Henry.
Grizelda tapped the back of her hand with the teaspoon. The sound failed to ring out across the kitchen, and she looked mildly accusing.
“Not like that,” said Henry. “I want to tempt you.”
Grizelda looked at the slim, shaven, orange clad monk critically.
“What did yer have in mind?”
“The Dark Side and our cookies?”
Grizelda looked a little disappointed. “Oh.”
Henry looked around the kitchen and sipped his tea. Years of rigorous training and self-discipline allowed him to smile afterwards and put the mug down gently.
“It’s much more fun in the Dark, you know.”
“Are we still talking about the Dark Side and cookies?” demanded Grizelda.
“Oh, right.”
“Grizelda, have you never sat alone in your kitchen at night, and dreamed of the things you could do with your power?” asked Henry.
“I’m never alone in my kitchen. There’s always the fridge. And sometimes me husband, too.”
“Have you never felt the urge to be…” Henry waved his hands expressively: “…more than this?”
“Er… what exactly are yer getting at?”
“Grizelda, you are an enormously powerful witch. Everyone around here knows that.”
“Well,” Grizelda smiled modestly at the table (which was not misled by the smile).
“Yet you are being held back by superiors who are not capable of licking your… clean,” wheedled Henry.
Grizelda looked down at her boots. In truth, the last tongue capable of licking her boots clean had died out with the dinosaurs.
“You owe it to yourself to get the best use out of your power.”
Henry took another drink of his tea, despite the very real risk to his health. Behind him, the fridge shifted restlessly.
“I’m tempted,” agreed Grizelda.
“Just think about it, no more complaints when you turned someone into a frog. We would even encourage it, as long as it was the right someone.”
“That’s the problem though, isn’t it?” said Grizelda slowly.
“Who the right person is? And who decides that? Besides me.”
“Caer Surdin - the Dark Coven - is your natural home, Grizelda. We would honour your talents, your skills, your attitude to life.”
“My what?”
“Grizelda, what has being Good done for you? Has it brought you riches, honour, fame? Your neighbour, your coven leader, she lives in wealth and comfort whilst you… don’t.”
“Being Bad hasn’t given you those things either though,” objected Grizelda. “Look at you: poor, working fer The Grey Mage, and dressed like Ghandi on a bad day!”
“Om. That is my choice, to work on my bad karma.”
“Well, I think you’d be better off with a good korma. And some proper clothes. No, I’ll stick with the White Side. Me husband would never forgive me if I turned black.”
Henry decided not to mention quite how much of Grizelda was black already.
“Om,” he answered, bowing his head. His hand slipped off the table, and to cover the movement he drank some more tea. Henry took something from his pocket and pressed it hard to the undersurface of the table, where it stuck fast.
“I’m flattered by the offer, of course,” Grizelda added.
“I am instructed to tell you that it will remain open.” Henry put both hands on the table and leant forwards towards her. “The Dark Side wants you, Grizelda.”
Henry stood up and bowed. The fridge scraped the floor, and before Grizelda had managed to stand and bow back politely, Henry was out of the door. The fridge quivered in anticipation of a chase.
“Settle down,” Grizelda told it. “Settle down.” She herself sat down, but felt unsettled: the offer had more attractions for her than she liked to admit, even to herself.
“I wish Ben were here,” she muttered to herself. “It all makes more sense when he’s here.”
The fridge shifted uneasily.
“And you can keep quiet,” she told it firmly.
Outside the cottage, Henry leant back against the closed door in relief, to still his racing heart rate.
“Hey, that’s not nice!” said a muffled voice.
Henry jumped away from the door as if he’d been bitten, and his heart rate accelerated.
“That’s better,” said the doorknocker. “Thought I was going to take me last breath then for a nasty moment.”
“Om, I am sorry!” said Henry, holding his chest with one hand in case his heart made a separate bid for freedom.
“We’ll say no more about it,” replied the knocker generously. “See you again!” it called after Henry who was walking carefully along the path towards the garden gate.
On either side of the path, the grass waved happily at his waist height. Near the gate, the rambling rose waved back. Henry stopped, and regarded the rose bush. Long branches with enormous thorns trailed out towards the path, and seemed to surround the gate. Henry took a deep breath. Those years of watching Kung Fu repeats on the TV were about to pay off after all! Adopting the famous Grasshopper pose, he moved along the path as if it was made of rice paper: his feet left no marks. The lashing limbs of the rambling rose failed to touch him, and he left the dangerous garden safely. He was promptly and colourfully, sick.
Half an hour later Henry walked into the reception of the offices of
TGM Accountants and Taxation Advisors
Gloria, the disguised dragon receptionist,* looked up from her desk. She had been cleaning her nails, which were a fetching grey colour to match her dress and skin tone.
*[She was disguised as a human, of course. Business clients can be alarmed by a receptionist who looks like a fire-breathing dragon, whilst being quite accustomed to receptionists who behave that way. You never have a second chance to make a first incineration, she believed.]
 “You look like you’ve had a near-death experience, Henry,” she told him.
“I should have been so lucky,” he replied. “Is the Boss in?”
“Yes, he’s free. I’ll let him know you’re on your way.”
Gloria pressed the black button on her intercom and said loudly “Henry’s back, Boss. He’s on his way in to report.”
“Is he all right?” asked The Grey Mage through the intercom.
“Just a bit pale, Boss.”
“Send him in, then.”
Gloria nodded at Henry, who smiled back and walked down the corridor. Henry knocked on the office door, and entered the inner sanctum of The Grey Mage: Accountant and Dark Lord of Keswick.
“Ah, Henry,” said that worthy from behind his large desk. “Sit down, and tell me how it went!”
“Thanks, Boss.” Henry sat down gratefully. Gloria appeared moments later with coffee for the Boss, and a mineral water for Henry.
 “So how did it go, Henry? You got out alive, anyway.”
“I did take that all purpose generic poison antidote you gave me first, Boss.”
“Sensible man. I always drink some before trying my wife’s cooking. I’m convinced it’s saved my life a few times.”
“Well, she took me into her kitchen.”
The Grey Mage shuddered. “I’ve not been in there myself, but Ned has been inside her cottage before.”
“It was dreadful, Boss. That fridge is something out of a nightmare. It moves around on its own, you know.”
“Really? I had heard rumours.”
“But I am sure that you are right, Boss. She is not firmly wedded to being Good. In fact…” Henry paused and shuddered violently.
The Grey Mage pushed a wastepaper basket closer to him, just in case Henry was about to be sick. Henry shook his head, and gulped some more water. “No, it’s too horrible to contemplate.”
The Grey Mage looked intrigued. “Henry, she didn’t….did… you didn’t...?”
“No, Boss. Can you imagine how many incarnations as a frog I’d have to suffer to work off that karmic burden?  But she came close to considering your offer, Boss. I reckon if you keep some pressure on, she’ll crack and come over.”
The Grey Mage nodded thoughtfully. Then he opened the drawer of his desk, took out an envelope and gave it to Henry.
“Just a bit of a bonus. You’ve earned it, without any doubt. Take the rest of this week off too, on full pay.”
“It’s Friday afternoon, Boss.”
“Then don’t hang about. I’ll have something interesting for you to do next week.”
“Thanks, Boss!” Henry left, walking on air.
“And stop levitating in the office! It unsettles the clients.” The Grey Mage yelled after his retreating employee. He leant forward and pushed the red button on his desk intercom. “Gloria? Just ask Ned to come in, would you? But first, get me Councillor Davies on the phone. Yes, him on the Planning Committee.”
“Right, Boss. Is this going to be another cunning plan, Boss?”
“I expect so, Gloria. Why?”
“I’ve got some leave coming, Boss.”
“Don’t worry, there’s time for this book to end before that”

Other books in the series... 

The Vampire Mechanic

“The Council said I had that Mad Cow in my burger van.”
“Did you?”
“Yes, but I’m divorced now.”
The third stand-alone volume in The Banned Underground fantasy collection finds our friends – the dwarf rhythm-and-blues band known as The Banned Underground – in trouble again. For once, they can claim that it wasn’t their fault. After all, they didn’t suggest Santa’s Little Helpers should borrow The Sleigh to get to their gig whilst Santa is on his summer cruise, did they? And they certainly didn’t crash The Sleigh into a mountain in Wales on the way, did they?

But they can’t let their friends down, so the Banned are on hand to help get The Sleigh repaired—by the only remaining mechanic who has a workshop manual. After all, Vampires don’t throw things like that away.

However, The Sleigh has triggered computer alerts around the world, and one such alert was on the Dark Lord’s computer. As his Mercedes has seen better days, the Dark Lord sends out his minions with orders to recover The Sleigh to be his new personal transport.

Warlocks, Druids, Vampires and Witches (and the occasional accidental frog) combine in a laugh-a-minute roller coaster as the Banned struggle to save their friends from the wrath of Santa.

The Banned Underground collection has been described as 'Lord Of The Rings, as written by a stand up comedian to the sound track of led Zeppelin IV'


Bass Instinct

“When Dragons mate, we mate for life.”

“Really? Isn’t there someone you can complain to about that?”
Bass Instinct is the fourth book in The Banned Underground collection of comic fantasy books. Each is a stand-alone novel, needing no previous acquaintance with the characters. The Banned Underground are a dwarf rhythm-and-blues band, led by a luminous green, saxophone playing bog troll with a passion for mushrooms, beer and pizza … and more beer … and for playing jazz, blues and rock ‘n’ roll, of course. The latest addition to the group is a bright red Welsh dragon that plays bass guitar. But he’s in trouble. Dai the Drinking Dragon has been kidnapped by the Dark Lord for nefarious purposes, and by the Dark Lord’s dragon receptionist for even less reputable reasons. Without their bass player, the Banned Underground are now in deep trouble with their record label. They have to produce a set of recordings for an album, and someone has stolen the tapes from the last gig. Can they make some more recordings, or will Freya, the renegade dwarf bass player hired by the Dark Lord, distract the boys whilst the Dark Lord's evil schemes come to fruition? The Dark Lord has found some thugs to help him in his latest plan to invade the underground Dwarf Mansion he would like to own (as an alternative to his garden shed as a place to hide from his wife), but they have other things on their minds - like looting and pillaging the locals - and it's all going wrong for him again. Described on The Guardian newspaper’s book review pages as ‘Lord of The Rings as written by stand-up comic Milton Jones to the soundtrack of Led Zeppelin IV’, The Banned Underground series is an underground hit, full of both crackling one-liners and more subtle jokes.

The Satnav of Doom
                “The computer says:  User error - replace user and press enter.”

The SatNav of Doom, the fifth in the Banned Underground fantasy collection is now released. This is a stand-alone work; previous experience is not required. Something always seems to happen when the Banned Underground, a dwarf rhythm-and-blues band led by a jazz-loving bog troll, are playing. Sadly for them, it is rarely anything good – for them at least. The rest of us always seem to get a good laugh at their predicament. But their world contains more than just pubs and pizza places. There is a Dark Side to some of the people they know: and to one in particular, of course: the Dark Lord of Keswick. Once again, the Dark Lord has a cunning plan. And once again someone else is going to have to carry it out for him: that's what henchmen are for, isn't it? To hench? Oh, and to be sent on the risky missions … Not that this mission should be risky. What could be easier than secretly inserting computer spyware into a laptop, using a Banned Underground gig as a diversion? The Tax Office probably does it all the time. But the Tax Office is not normally being chased for an unpaid credit card bill for a huge round of drinks. (That's our politicians. And the Dark Lord’s henchmen, of course.) And it isn't just any laptop the Dark Lord wants to spy on either. The Government is struggling to find the way out of the Recession without a road map, and what better aid than a SatNav linked to an economic forecasting computer? If the Dark Lord can get inside information on future economic policy, maybe he can clean up and buy a new Mercedes at last. Then there is a mystery: where did the time-travelling SatNav come from in the first place? What if the original owner wants it back? Magic, mayhem and macro-economic policy collide in the latest surreal instalment of the acclaimed comic fantasy collection, The Banned Underground.

About the author...

Will Macmillan Jones lives in Wales, a lovely green, verdant land with a rich cultural heritage.  He does his best to support this heritage by drinking the local beer and shouting loud encouragement whenever International Rugby is on the TV.  A fifty something lover of blues, rock and jazz he has just fulfilled a lifetime ambition by filling an entire wall of his home office with (full) bookcases.  When not writing, he is usually lost with the help of a satnav on top of a large hill in the middle of nowhere, looking for dragons.


Why Will writes...

"I’ve always wanted to be an entertainer.  But I can’t sing, can’t dance, and when I pick up my beloved Les Paul guitar and try to pretend that I can play like Gary Moore, the dogs run howling for the kitchen and hide with their paws over their ears.  So I have to do something that doesn’t make as much noise, and only frightens the animals if someone reads passages aloud to them.  Writing lets me entertain, without all that tedious having to perform in front of people and risk having either abuse or fruit (or worse) slung at me.  It’s great fun!"

His major comic fantasy series can be found at:

and information on his other work and stuff in general at :

There’s a blog.  There’s always a blog, isn’t there?

More Links...





 The Fantasy & Sci-Fi Network is a collection of authors, bloggers, and reviewers who are passionate about finding and creating quality fantasy/sci-fi books which are also teen safe (G, PG, or PG-13 rated). The FSF Network believes it is possible to create fantastic works of fantasy and science fiction without resorting to graphic violence, explicitly harsh language, or sex.

FSFN on Facebook
FSFN Website
Twitter hashtag: #FSFNAuthor
Twitter handle: @FSFNet