Sunday, 29 September 2019

Sunday Showcase

At twelve years old, Grace Walker, the only daughter of a government maintenance worker, was kidnapped by a gang of Bitzers and condemned to a lifetime of servitude in the Outback. Now, four years later, it is time for her slavery to begin, time for her witness the hell that a group of dark magic wielders known as the Dingoes created in the Outback. As the journey into her new life as a slave to "one of the most ruthless torturers in the Outback" starts to unfold, she begins to learn more about the Dingoes and is forced to take a good look at the life that was taken from her when she was kidnapped.


The gate creaked open and a team of about ten Bitzers led the untraded slaves into the compound. The crowd erupted with questions. Who were the newcomers? Where had they come from? Who owned them? Over the din of the crowd, I could just barely make out the sounds of the Bitzers voices cursing and barking orders. I swept my gaze over the team but Skar wasn’t among them. I shuddered at the thought. As much as I hated him, at least I knew Skar. Since the untraded slaves were brought in today, the Black River convoy would set out to cover their territory tomorrow. I shivered at the thought of one of the Bitzers from this group dragging me through the desert until I was bought by someone. I hated Skar but I wanted a familiar face. Luka stared at the untraded women, a look of fascination in her eyes. One of the slaves, a girl who couldn’t have been more than two or three years older than us, caught her staring. She walked intently towards us, a scowl spreading across her face. She was a few inches taller than Luka and a blonde but that was where the similarities ended. She stopped a few feet away from us.

“What are you looking at?” She snapped.

Luka shrugged. “Who are you?”

The girl gave Luka a dirty look. “What’s it to you?”

“I was just wondering.”

She snorted. “My name’s Leann, not that it matters.”

“Why’s that?”

“We’re nothing. That’s our names to them, nothing. We’re just toys for those stupid pricks out there.”


“What are you? A ten year old?”

Luka shook her head. “I’m fifteen and my friend,” she gestured to me, “just turned sixteen.”

Leann gave a shrill laugh. “Oh damn. I feel bad for your friend there. I’ve met people from this camp before. Your run goes out to Silver Lake.”

“What’s Silver Lake?” I asked.

“Small town, out about a hundred miles or so from Lake Disappointment and Savory Creek, has a decent sized Dingo population. From what I’ve heard there’s one Dingo in particular you should worry about out there.”

“Who?” Luka questioned.

“They say his name’s Rudolfus Lesikar and that his slaves never come back.”

I just stared at Luka, wondering whether or not the name meant anything to her. Maybe her mother had been owned by the guy. Maybe Leann was exaggerating. Luka, however, looked just as horrified by her answer as I felt.

“Y-you mean he kills them?” Luka stuttered.

Leann shrugged. “It’s possible.”

“Wait! I thought they couldn’t kill us!” I blurted out without thinking.

Leann gave another high-pitched laugh that made me wonder whether or not she was entirely sane. “They can do whatever they want to you. Once they buy you, that’s it. You’re completely at their mercy, until they decide otherwise.”

“But surely there’s someone, police or something, that can stop them?”

“What’re you stupid? The Dingoes are the ones in charge out there. They are the police, the military, everything. Believe me, sometimes you’ll wish they’d just kill you.”

I swallowed hard, fighting to suppress a shudder of fear.

“What are they going to do to Grace?” Luka questioned.

I wanted to slap her. Why did she have to ask that? I already had a pretty good guess what the Dingoes would use me for. My mind quickly flashed back to a memory I’d successfully shoved to the back of my brain for the past four years, the memory of everything Davon did, and almost did, to me. That was the only good thing about being kidnapped and locked up in a slave camp exclusively for girls. I never had to see Davon or any other men, except for the occasional glimpse of Fender or the Bitzers who passed through every six weeks. The absence of males from my life, Davon especially, gave me the perfect chance to lock those memories away. It was funny how one short conversation brought it all rushing back. I could picture it as clear as day, the night he jumped me for the first time, the little shed a few miles away from my former house. I could almost smell the musty stench of old straw and mildew that permeated that space. I could feel his hands on me, holding me down. No one would’ve ever thought he could hurt a little girl, one who was only a year younger than him. They were wrong. I shivered. It was too much. I didn’t want to see these things, didn’t want to remember the way my screams sounded in the silent night, didn’t want to think about how the dark concealed my fear perfectly.

“Let’s just say, I hope your friend’s not a virgin,” Leann answered. “Especially if Rudolfus Lesikar gets a hold of her. He’s got quite the bad rep. Rumor has it he's brutal. They say he’s…”

I could hardly breath as the words escaped her lips. I’d just barely escaped Davon that night, the night he almost did the unthinkable, barely got away. A violent shiver ran down my spine. I doubled over, placing my hands on my knees. I got away once, but this time I wouldn’t be so lucky. This time, there was nothing I could do to stop it. This time, I would be at the mercy of someone I didn’t know at all, possibly this Rudolfus Lesikar guy. I wouldn’t have a chance. I looked out at the sunset, ignoring Leann’s rambling. In that moment, it hit me like a speeding freight train. This was it. It was all over. My life, or half-life rather since my real life ended when Skar kidnapped me, was over. There was no trying to pretend it away anymore. This was the end. Nice try, Grace, thanks for playing but it’s all over now. You can’t fight it or run from it anymore. They own you. You’re their slave, theirs to rape or kill or anything in between and you’re powerless to fight against it. I stared at the burning sun, tears forming in the corners of my eyes at the thought. My time had officially run out.

About Amanda

Amanda N. Newman, originally from Burlingham, New York, USA has been writing since she was a child. As a quiet person who didn't make friends easily, she found refuge in writing. Amanda enjoys writing and reading multiple sub-genres of fantasy for readers of varying ages. She currently has self-published two novels in paperback and ebook format.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Dusty Pages Review: The Magic Mirror

Normally I post the blurb here but I found the one for this book was unnecessarily long, almost told you the whole story and to a degree was inaccurate to the version I read as I think the writer has changed it since its first release (there has been at least one other if the change of covers is anything to go by)

I was scrolling through my kindle looking for a quick read as its been a busy week and I haven't had time to fit a full on paperback into it. I came across this which I thought was going to be a short story. Turned out to be a freebie prequel to the first book in a series by this author - there was a preview of the first book at the end - which I skipped because, y'know, spoilers...

It's an interesting premise. Something dark is awakening in a small sleepy town in New England. Jack Snow left for six months to train up to be a policeman and comes back to find things were not as he left them in regards to his mother and a strange mirror she bought from an odd lady who runs an junk shop. I was interested mostly in the dark creature who was weaving cursed objects and what their ultimate goal is, more than I was interested in the main character. There was a lot of talking about the past even though this book itself is set ten years in the past from the main arc.

One thing I do want to mention is a compliment to the formatting. This book is beautiful laid out with decorative title pages and quotes for each section of it. However, the author changed the cover for the store but not in the file, so the old one still shows but that only a technical fault, nothing to impact the story.

Whether I will be picking up the actually start of the series, is another matter. I find it interesting and there are two books but by the publishing dates, it looks like the author dropped off the face of the planet in regards to this series and I could be in for a cliffhanger that never ends.

I give it

Monday, 23 September 2019

Meet A Writer Monday Presents...

... Eric Klein

1. Tell me about your book, The One: A Cruise Through the Solar System, and where you got your inspiration for it?

This story started as a combination of a vivid dream that was most of chapters one and two. As I started writing this novel, I discussed it with my family and they kept asking the hard questions.

Not hard as in difficult to answer, but hard as in they actually needed to be spelled out. So when my son Arbel asked, “How does a space economy support pirates? If they already have a ship and a base, doesn’t that mean they don’t need to be pirates?” he got me explaining how I envisioned the pirates as being similar to the Somali pirates who are acting off the east coast of Africa. They have fast ships and skilled crews, but are still taking cargo and holding ships for ransom to fund the rest of their operation. This idea was already in my head, but by asking the question he forced me to articulate it, and thus the concept is better defined in the story (and has led to the concept of a prequel story I am currently trying to find time to write).

2. Did you learn anything from writing this book? If so what was it?

Some scientists get paid and funded to test out the strangest things. In researching for The One, I found out that there was actually a study done on the proper gravity to make french fries. They actually funded a group to cook up and eat french-fried potatoes using a special made deep fryer and the centrifuges used to train European astronauts for space missions.

3. Which do you use more often, dictionary or thesaurus?

This is actually a trick question, I use spell checker quite often Mostly to fix typos, but will do a lot of looking up proper spelling. Less so the thesaurus as I usually know the word I want (even if I can’t spell it).

4. Mountains or the beach?

Another mixed question. I like the beach for reading or making sand castles. But to really relax it is a hike in the mountains or along a river/stream that refreshes my soul.

5. If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?

Past. Imagine where we would be if someone could have replaced that O-ring on the space shuttle. Instead of losing almost 20 years of space development we could have had cell phones and a Moon base in the ‘80s.

6. What motivates you to succeed as a writer?

The hope that I can inspire someone to make a better future. There is too much dark and depressing in the world and in fiction, something to inspire – like Star Trek did, would be wonderful.

7. Would you rather explore a new planet, or the deepest parts of the ocean? Why?

I would prefer another planet or moon. I am convinced that we need to be a multi-planet species as soon as possible. Both to push the science and technology, but also as an insurance plan. All the people I know live on the Earth, but what happens if something happens (and as a fiction author I have a long list of what ifs that are based on real science). We know that there was at least one cataclysmic event in the past, plus near misses in the past 100 years so why think we are safe?

8. What genre do you write in and what draws you into this genre?

Science fiction, mostly hard science fiction. I like to get the science right, and success of stories like The Martian show that there is an audience that wants realistic and accurate science. Also, this way I can sort of point at a path to make it real.

9. Have you ever considered collaborating with another writer? If Yes who, if no why not?

Actually, working on two collaborations right now. Book Two in my series is with my wife. She will keep me on track to make sure that the women are realistic. The other is with a new author (and my cousin) and will be the start of a series of more tongue in cheek exploits of support services.

10. Do you think the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Yes, I know that “you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover” but the reality of marketing is that it is the cover that gets someone to stop scrolling past to look inside. Thus, the cover needs to scream out the genre and a little about the book (without spoiling the last third) in order for someone to even notice it. This is true in a book store or on-line. But when selling on-line it is harder as you need to make the thumbnail compelling enough to click.

11. What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

In general, any review is a good review, even if they are tearing your writing apart. It means you touched someone enough that they had to share and not every book is for every reader. That said, I have had one review that left me scratching my head. They posted 3 lines from someone else’s book and nothing more. That is not helpful to anyone.

12. Do you think giving away books for free works and why?

To some extent, but it depends on a number of factors.

Always good to give them to libraries, especially school ones. This gets you recognized and pays back to the community at large.

If you have one book, or only the first in a series, then freebie promotions should be limited to the first 50 – 60 pages (similar to what Amazon uses in their previews).

If you have multiple books in a series out, then giving away the first one can help to get people hooked on the series.

So, as you see, it is not cut and dry.

13. What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

The harshest I have received was “that makes no sense.” If your reader loses that suspension of disbelief and falls out of your story because of a detail or the writing, then you have failed and need to go fix it.

The year is 2152. What started as a normal work day for BJ Armstrong (debugging the latest faulty AI), quickly turned to the adventure of a lifetime. Join Armstrong on his all-expenses-paid 30-day cruise through the solar system on board the maiden voyage of the latest pleasure ship (complete with a beauty pageant and scientific symposium), as he tries to unravel an assassination plot and foil the biggest heist in history.

The only question that remains, will BJ get the girl?


About Eric

Eric is a lifelong science fiction and fantasy reader but has always enjoyed stories that show how the science and technology can affect people’s lives. By day he works in hi-tech, lecturing and telecom hardware security. He is married to a wonderful (and tolerant) scientist and step father to two great children. Now a step grandfather, his grandson makes an appearance in his book.