It’s Christmas

From Greyhart Press, wishing you a Happy Christmas and a most excellent New Year.

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Tim C. Taylor:

These are brilliant books.

Originally posted on Nigel Edwards:

The Scrapdragon The 4th in The Scrapdragon series of Tom-Tom Burrow Adventures

And so we come to the last book in the Scrapdragon series of Tom-Tom Burrow Adventures.   Now all four are available worldwide on Kindle through Amazon.   Read, Enjoy, Tell Your Friends!!!

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Describe your scariest school experience: and win this fabulous YA paranormal adventure

Tim C. Taylor:

Describe your scariest school experience and win this fabulous new YA paranormal adventure.

Originally posted on The Repository of Imagination:

An ancient evil is surfacing. It’s in Jake’s school, in his house… and his blood!

TheTherions_ebook_Final_200px_96dpiIf you didn’t know him well, you’d think Jake had it made. He’s the best player in the school soccer team, and a lot of the girls at school can’t help giving him admiring glances that even his green eyes and good looks can’t explain. All Jake wants, though, is to fit in and be a normal 17-year-old.

But that’s not going to happen.

For when the Therions come to collect their human harvest, the only people who could prevent them are Jake and Vicky Harris, a girl from his class who doesn’t even like him.

One of the most compelling features of The Therions is that there are no safe places for Jake or Vicky to hide. School teachers, school friends: some are victims of the emerging evil, and some might be its perpetrators…

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New YA paranormal adventure ready to pre-order

An ancient evil is surfacing. It’s in Jake’s school, in his house… in his blood. Published by our YA sister imprint, The Repository of Imagination. 

This is the first time we’ve used Amazon’s pre-order tool. Buy the book now at the special pre-launch price — sounds good to me.


~ They’re in the shadows. They’re everywhere! ~

Jake thinks he’s just an ordinary schoolboy. Scraping a pass on his tests while doing the least amount of work, attracting admiring glances from girls, hanging with mates, and scoring goals for the soccer team: just ordinary things.

But Jake is far from normal. And his family? His sister is missing, his father changed, and his brother dead… or so Jake thinks; the truth is far more shocking.

When his school friends start to disappear, and with petite Vicky Harris the only person he can trust as his world collapses around him, it’s time for Jake to learn the truth.

The Therions are out there.

And they’re almost ready to reap their human harvest.

‘The Therions’ will grip fans of YA paranormal adventures. 

The Kindle edition of The Therions is available to pre-order now for delivery on Monday at a special launch price of 99c/ 77p.

Follow this link for the pre-order page.

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Win a paperback copy of a top spy thriller

To Kill A Spy is an exciting and serious read! I wait for the end of the chapter to put it down for the night but when I get there there’s no way. There are times where you think, “Oh, that could never happen” but you know it could! — just one from dozens of 5* reviews on

ToFreeASpy2Here’s your chance to win a paperback copy of top-rated spy thriller, To Free a Spy by Nick Ganaway. All you need to do is head over to here and enter the giveaway.

You have 15 days left to enter and will need a Goodreads account (which is free). The competition is only open to US, CA and UK residents.

For a taster of the novel, follow this link.

Good luck!


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Piers Anthony and Eleanor of Aquitaine

They say that the mark of a true writer is to write. That might sound obvious, but plenty of authors don’t. They become sidetracked, dry up, give up, or are just too busy enjoying their royalties (though not many could say that last one). By this yardstick Piers Anthony is as writerly as they get, having authored over 150 books.

He has claimed that one of his greatest achievements has been to publish a book for every letter of the alphabet, from Anthonology to Zombie Lover. That’s a cool achievement, but one thing he has yet to achieve (probably) is to be mentioned in the same breath as Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Until now.

The reason I’m coming all Piers Anthony at you is because one of our Greyhart authors (Lola aka LJ Hasbrouck) drew inspiration from his ‘Xanth‘ series when writing her own ‘Lineage of Tellus‘ books. Piers was gracious enough to read the first Tellus book and wrote some very positive comments for the August 2014 (or ‘AwGhost’) newsletter on his website (here). I think Lola was thrilled and so was I (when I was a teenager, his Apprentice Adept series had a big impact on me). 

DaughtersofBabylon2Eleanor of Aquitaine doesn’t feature in Lola’s Tellus books but is one of the principal characters in Elaine Stirling’s literary historical mystery, Daughters of Babylon. We recently launched Elaine’s book at a special promotional price, which expires at the end of this week. So buy this book today!

While unexpectedly finding myself in downtown Toronto last week (practically on Elaine’s doorstep) I snapped this picture of our Ontario offices for the Tellus books. Some stern words were required when I saw the sign writer had missed off one of the ‘l’s!

Our downtown Toronto offices. Not at all connected with a Canadian telecoms corporation (honestly!)

Our downtown Toronto offices. Not at all connected with a Canadian telecoms corporation (honestly!)

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Why ‘Daughters of Babylon’ is like ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘The Da Vinci Code’ (but better)

DaughtersofBabylonI was thinking today about why I enjoyed reading Daughters of Babylon so much (a book we launched this week). The fact that I was doing so at all exemplifies the contradictory demands I place on fiction (in other words, I’m an awkward so-and-so). You see, I love to be thrilled by fabulous vistas and quirky little puzzles that I cannot quite explain. At the same time, my brain naturally wants to make sense of the pattern, to glimpse the big picture and understand.

I told you I was awkward.

Just enjoying the book isn’t enough. I want to understand why I enjoyed it.

You see, there are many examples of otherwise great fiction that don’t quite satisfy me – enjoyable enough, says my awkward brain – but still flawed.

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler is one such example. It’s a superbly crafted book, and an uncomfortable read. I recommend it. But the fantastic element of the time slip (the protagonist – an African-American woman from the 1970s – slips back to the time of antebellum slavery) is contrived. It’s there to explore slavery first hand through (what was at the time of publication) modern-day eyes. That contrivance is employed several times. I wish it weren’t used so prominently. There are few books I’ve read twice. Kindred is one of that select group, but when the pattern-recognition part of my brain looks at why this time-slipping is happening, I don’t see a big picture, a glimpse of the universe from a new perspective, I only see the author tapping away at her typewriter, setting up the device allowing her to tell the story she want to tell.

Octavia E. Butler was a skilled writer, sorely missed. Not all of us are blessed by such talent. But that is no obstacle to lesser writers adding to the pantheon of literary historical mystery thrillers. Or maybe I should write split-time, split-narrative puzzle mysteries. Okay, let’s face it, there is no neat genre name for what is essentially a genre mashup. But awkward genre names should only ever stress out publishers and bookstore retailers wondering which shelf deserves the book. What I mean are books such as the ‘Languedoc’ series by Kate Mosse.

Trouble in Carcassonne

Trouble in Carcassonne

Mosse’s Languedoc’ series starts with Labyrinth, which features a contemporary mystery taking place in Carcassonne, a famously well-preserved medieval town in modern France. At the same time dramatic events center around Carcassonne eight centuries earlier during the Albigensian Crusade, a struggle in which around a million people were killed. The two echo. There is a connection.

There was also a TV series, which was well deserved because there was a good story in Labyrinth. In fact, Labyrinth was a great commercial success, possibly spurred on by the even greater success of Dan Brown’s  The Da Vinci Code, which, while more of a contemporary conspiracy-thriller, bears many similarities to the rash of split-time mysteries (for example, the contemporary mystery part of The Da Vinci Code can only be explained through the echoes from medieval times).

I’ve read several other recent contemporary/historical mysteries that I found considerably less impressive. When I look for the big picture, instead of a sense of wonder, I get a sense of an author ticking boxes.

* A contemporary setting infused with history (e.g. Carcassonne) … check!
* Ancient conspiracy/ hidden sect still functioning today … check!
* A parallel story set 700-1000 years earlier… check!
* A similarity between the contemporary and historical main character or their predicament… check!
* Unrequited love or lover’s grief that not only has parallels across the timelines, but is the force of nature that tunnels through time to create a physical connection between both plotlines… check!


Now, I happen to believe that fashioning your book to meet your target audience’s expectations is an example of a professional author using their common sense, not artistic sell-out. But the results can be truly awful when the author tries to force a story into a shape that is not right for it. I don’t mind common tropes taken in fresh new directions, but I wince at some of the clumsy excuses for why the narrative is split across two timelines. A broken heart? A terrible wrong that needs to be righted?

Possibly… if you can convince me. But too often we have two stories set in different times with the flimsiest of connections. Better to have written the two separate stories that they really are than attempt to glue them together with the literary equivalent of half-chewed gum, just to board the split-time genre gravy train before the axles come off.

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine. An extremely well-traveled queen.

Mosse’s Labyrinth has Carcassonne in a contemporary and early medieval setting. Daughters of Babylon has Queen of Heaven – an area only a little to the west of Carcassonne – where the contemporary protagonist confronts a mystery embedded in the time of Eleanor of Aquitaine (also a medieval time, even earlier than in Mosse’s book).

So if you hurriedly skimmed the description of Daughters, you might think:“rehash of Labyrinth”. But it is not. While I have no doubt that Labyrinth lovers will also love Daughters of Babylon (in fact, I already know this to be so: several of our wonderful beta readers told me they enjoyed both books) there are many elements of style and narrative that differ. Markedly.

Exhibit A. Daughters has a Mexican strand set in the 1970s (as well as scenes in the Crusader Kingdoms of the Holy Lands, and elsewhere). Now, the French strands share a common location separated in time, making it easier to feel that they are connected. This Mexican strand is geographically divorced from Pyrenean France, but that doesn’t mean it is clumsily grafted on. Far from it. The linkage to the Mexican strand take more time to become evident. But, boy, is it there!

You see, returning to my brain’s awkwardness for a moment, what lets down many of the current rash of literary historical mysteries is that half-chewed gum sticking the split-time narratives together. I want to enjoy the mystery, but when I look for the big picture, the gum dries, and the split-narrative, well, splits.

And that’s one reason why I find Daughters of Babylon so satisfying. My sense of wonder is fed by the extraordinary-in-the-everyday mysticism of Gabo-style magical realism. We also experience mysterious visions, inexplicable deaths, and the talking dead. But ultimately the various strands are woven into a pattern I can see and understand for what it is. There are no contrivances here; no twee romantic time traveling due to a broken heart.

In normal life we think we know that time progresses in a safely linear fashion from past to future. Not so in Daughters of Babylon. I glimpse a deeper understanding of time’s deep cycles, and realize that it is not coincidence that connects the plot strands. They have been deliberately gathered together by one of the principal characters in a maniobra, a magical deep time maneuver of extraordinary complexity that has been ongoing since page 1. I just didn’t see it at the time for what it was, because the magic was hidden in the shadows of the narrative (which is about as good a definition of magical realism as you’re likely to get).

And that is why I enjoyed Daughters of Babylon so intensely.


 I have described Daughters of Babylon elsewhere as

 “A literary historical mystery spiced with Latin American magical realism.”

I haven’t done much in this post to explain the dark mysteries of magical realism.

The best introduction I can think of to magical realism is to first read Daughters of Babylon.

However (it’s shocking, I know) some might say that I am biased in that recommendation.

As an alternative try following the link below. It’s from Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club. If you think the Oprah connection means it must be shallow, think again. This is an excellent introduction to the topic, with many free-to-read short pieces, and references to the totemic book of magical realism: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.


Enjoy good reading. You deserve it.


‘Daughters of Babylon’, a literary historical mystery spiced with Latin American magical realism.

“Sometimes, the only way to the future is through the present of someone else’s past.”

Confused? So is Silvina Kestral when she agrees to clear out the house of an eccentric dead actress amidst the ruins of a medieval priory in the French Pyrenees. Speaking of confusion, who were the Daughters of Babylon, and what does a tall dark stranger in the attic have to do with Creation’s mightiest secrets? To find out, you’d have to ask either a Mexican cane cutter with a party of witches and a sense of rhyme, or a 19-year-old, badly married queen named Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Problem is, where to start? And once started, what if the task never, ever ends…

Out now for Kindle (special launch price):

Out now in paperback (special launch price)


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