Archive for the ‘Meta-Issues, Real Life, Out of Character, Etc.’ Category


Psycho Killers in Love

   Posted by: amrath

H.L. Mencken famously wrote, “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” That’s a profound observation on human nature, and simplified, it means just this: the occasional urgent need to stab a bitch is endemic to the human condition.

William Patrick knows this better than most. He’s been in denial about his condition for most of his life. Which, by the way, is about to end. But it’s okay. He’ll get better.


Welcome Charles Phipps’s latest tale, Psycho Killers in Love, another offering set in his fanciful United States of Monsters. If you’re not familiar with the setting, it’s a place where vampires, sorcerer detectives, werebeasts, and pretty much every other sort of supernatural creature coexist quietly alongside humans. They cross swords and words (usually in the form of devasting, snappy pop-culture comeback references) as they solve murders (or commit them), all just outside the peripheral vision of the normies.

(And yes, werebeasts. There are werewolves, of course, but there are also weredeer, and maybe wereplatypuses and werenutria, too. I would totally read a werenutria story. I can see the R.O.U.S. jokes already!)

In Psycho Killers in Love, we are introduced to a new kind of monster, one we always knew existed. We just didn’t understand they were, well, a race of beings.

William knows he isn’t human. He wishes desperately that he was, but he has a little something extra. On the plus side, he gets back up after dying, though he’s uncertain how many times that can happen. He also heals very quickly, which is important when you fall from a window after being shot repeatedly and need to make a quick getaway while your intended victim is distracted.

On the minus side, it sort of compels him to (yes, you guessed it) stab a bitch.

William is a slasher, a supernatural creature, almost human, but driven by a dark passenger that hungers for blood and brutality. Like other slashers, he is immensely strong, and capable of recovering from death as long as the box office returns justify it.

For William’s father, Billy, stabbing a bitch was a literal thing, as in “dressed up like Santa and stabbed young women to death in killing sprees”. And while William is a bit more discriminating than that, he can’t avoid his fate. The Spirit of the Hunt is part of him, and he dreads the day it will compel him to mayhem and murder.

But he’s a good slasher. Well, at least he only kills bad people. (“Yeah, but they were all bad!”) He’s a little like the Miami Guy, compelled to murder murderers, though he didn’t have so fine a fatherly example as the blood spatter expert did. Hey, you work with what you have, right?

It’s a tough curse to bear, but it’s even tougher when, for the first time in his life, William realizes he’s not asexual as he has always thought. He just hadn’t found the right girl. And it’s just his bad luck that “the right girl” turns out to be Slasher Kryptonite, another supernatural known as an Artemis.

And what does an Artemis do, you might ask? Well, mostly they kill slashers, and they do it in a way slashers don’t come back from.

The pro is that she’s very cute, and she could really use William’s help killing an evil cult. A chance to slash bad guys and impress a hot chick? How can he resist?

The con? She’ll probably kill him once it’s done.  Damn, dating in 2020 is tough. And you thought your worst problem was Covid19 and murder hornets.

Can a guy who counts Chucky, Jason, and Freddie as colleagues actually get the girl? Probably not. But William is willing to die trying.

Loads of fun, and will have you quoting hilarious sections to your SO as you read in bed.

Five of five stars.


Call for ARC Readers

   Posted by: amrath

Well, folks, I recently wrapped up a second draft on Book 1 of The New Thing, which is a SciFi thriller with lots of aliens what need to be shot in da face! I’m putting together an ARC group for commentary and suggestions as I finish Book 2 and 3, so if you’re interested, click the mail link to the right and drop me a line.


“War God’s Will” is live!

   Posted by: amrath

The trilogy finale is now available. It’s been a long journey, but I am pleased with this

For now….

Unite or die!


“A Wizard’s Forge” by A.M. Justice

   Posted by: amrath

So, I may have mentioned before, I read at a glacial pace, due to any number of environmental issues. (By which I mean day job, writing, children, church, etc.) Worse, when I actually finish reading, getting around to writing a review is another item that I easily procrastinate. I am, at long last, finally putting fingers to keyboard for my review of “A Wizard’s Forge” by A.M. Justice, a work with compelling characters and a very unique setting. In addition to that, the book is well written in general, with plenty of detailed description and world-building.

This tale takes place in a unique fantasy world, one based on a faraway planet inhabited by the descendants of the crew of an ill-fated space ship. The world’s legends and religion still speak of the ‘Elesendar’, and the cultures are shaped by the initial missions their founders undertook after being marooned on the planet. Many treat the old logbooks as scriptures, and our main character, Vic, is an acolyte of such an order.

Vic is, herself, something of odd duck for me, because while I quite enjoyed the book, I found Vic to often be very frustrating, though not in a bad way, more in a ‘I need to throttle this character’ way. Now, in order for that to make sense, I will need to tell you a bit about Vic, I suppose.
She starts as a scholar, one somewhat picky about her men and very focused on her work. Her life is turned upside down when she is sent on a mission for her order and subsequently captured in a slaver raid. Soon after, she finds herself the concubine of a potentate, Lornk Korng, a cruel and hungry tyrant with epicurean tastes in every field, including the sexual. Vic finds herself suddenly thrust into a world she simultaneously hates and is enthralled by. She is both fascinated and repulsed by her captor, who teaches her a variety of hedonistic ways, all in the context of her being his absolute property. He often parades her around as a toy, a sort of decoration to impress others. He is quite open with Vic about his intention to utterly own her, not just physically, but to basically possess her soul as well. He doesn’t just want her to obey out of fear, but to actually crave her position and his company, and he employs a variety of mind control techniques to bend her to his will.

This, as one might expect, does a real number to Vic’s mental state. She realizes what is happening, and wants to escape, but is torn by the knowledge that she does in fact actually desire her captor at times. Faced with impossible choices, Vic takes the only opportunity for escape she can find, one she expects to lead to a quick death.

Only it doesn’t. What it does is set her down a path she never expected, one that will lead her to a career as a ruthless soldier and, eventually, to being a powerful sorceress, but only if she can manage to get out of her own way. It’s a long trip for a skinny, bookish girl, and one with plenty of stumbles along the way.

Vic does a lot of self-sabotage, and her life would be much easier if she just made up her mind about things and charged forward, but then she would be a much less interesting character. Yes, some of that is Lornk’s doing, but Vic is herself a mercurial sort, prone to second guessing anything she can’t actually verify by looking it up in a historical text somewhere. This causes here, in several critical moments, to hesitate when she ought charge forward, and she loses out of some important matters because of this.

If I were dating Vic, I would probably move on fairly quickly. I don’t care for drama in my relationships, but it can be quite compelling in fictional. If you don’t mind the urge to slap the main character at times for being so consistent (which I not only didn’t mind, but thoroughly enjoyed), you’ll dig this book.

5 of 5 stars.


Richard Writhen’s “The Angel of the Grave”

   Posted by: amrath

My friend Richard is releasing his newest work today, titled “The Angel of the Grave.”

Here’s a brief description excerpt for your perusal. Give Richard some business, and don’t forget to give him a review!

The Angel of the Grave (The Celestial Ways Saga Book 0)

Out Now


An intelligent little girl encounters a talented witch at the local fair and finds out that it’s all in the family.

Interconnected by dreams, two young orphans embark on the long path to find a bloody revenge.

A wealthy lady travels hundreds of miles to become a baroness, but when she consults a diviner, she finds out that she may be in way over her head.

An excerpt from The Lady Waits (Chapter Three)

Shortly after dawn, the expensive clipper effortlessly cleaved its way through the frothing green waters that lay off of the coast of Corsc. It approached one of the many gray wooden quays there, and its crew began to take down the sails. The ship had been painstakingly crafted by the greatest artisans that the continent of Mestes could offer. Its thick hull was fashioned from a black pine-wood, which had been sanded and then sealed with a mixture of resins. Its hull was painted; some of the segments were a midnight blue in color, and others an olive green. It was almost fifty feet in total length, featuring a towering center mast and three billowing white sails, each painstakingly embroidered with long red lines.

Once it had been secured at the dock, it was almost immediately boarded and searched by several representatives of the Hruutian Guard. That force had been stationed there on the coast in virtual perpetuity, in order to prevent a profusion of illegal substances that had been smuggled into Galgran from neighboring countries. It only took a few minutes for the black-booted soldiers to find that all of the vessel’s papers were in order; then, its passengers were allowed to disembark, filing down the gangway in a steady stream.

One of the very last people to step off the ship, Marissa Seftrey was a fresh-faced young woman of about twenty-one years of age. She had a folded parasol under one of her arms. She was dressed in a light pink dress, with a bonnet to match, her chestnut brown hair falling in cascades from under it. A wide pink bow tried vainly to hold everything in place. Marissa was originally from Caledavor, one of the countries on Mestes, the continent that lay to the south of the Watley Peninsula. She had brought some of her homeland’s artwork with her on the voyage. She was followed closely by a middle-aged woman with somewhat darker brown hair, who was pulling a wheeled chest. This was her maidservant, Neticia de Mont Noir. The two were followed in turn by three male servants of varying ages, who had been hired on the ship, to carry the rest of their luggage.

The procession proceeded to the end of the quay, then stepped onto the continent of Holrud for the first time.  Marissa stopped them all for just a moment, and surveyed the panoramic view of the southern coast that greeted them there. Off in the distance, she could see hills and small villages. Even further, beyond them, there was a great walled city; it was imposing in its size, with a river running through its north-west corner. The minutes went by, as they stood there. Quickly becoming bored, Marissa began to tap one of her leather-shod feet on the cobbled dirt of the road.

She was waiting for someone, her eyes scanning to and fro, up and down the street. She had been corresponding through the mail with a baron of great nobility; her voyage across the sea had been planned for many months. She had come almost due northward from her home city of Bethel in Caledavor, Mestes, and was headed for the estate of Westmere. It was located in the borough of Wallins, in southern Malentan, on Watley Peninsula. She had come all this way to be the baron’s blushing bride. The marriage that had been completely arranged for her by her mother, as her father had passed away when Marissa was still a teenager. She had been informed in the baron’s final letter that he and his men would be waiting to pick her up, at around the time of her arrival on the peninsula. The rest of the journey to the barony of Wallins would be undertaken by coach.

After waiting a few more minutes, the three hired man-servants put down the rest of her bags. She handed them their gratuities, and they said goodbye to her and then began to walk back to the ship, being part of its crew. The two women were left at the end of the dock. After she and Neticia had waited for the better part of fifteen minutes, they were finally approached by a man. Marissa smiled warmly at him and asked, “Baron Wallins?” A wide smile immediately painted itself across his thick, coarse features. “Why, the very same. And you must be my lady?”

“Yes, it’s me. Marissa Seftrey. Pleased to meet you.”

Marissa looked the man over quickly; right off the bat, she was a bit taken aback at his lack of height. He had bushy sideburns, a moustache, and scruffy hair. His clothes were quite unkempt, most notably a thread-bare black cloak which had apparently been mended many times. He also looked to be far older than his mid-twenties, which she knew for a fact to be the baron’s age. She noted that there was an odd glint to his bloodshot eyes, as if with some unknowable intent to it. So, she posed him a careful question. “You look … different from how I had pictured you. Where’s your coach …? And all of your men … ?!”

The man licked his lips quickly before replying, “Oh, the coach? It’s parked just down the street a bit. And I sent the boys off on another errand … for now.” Grinning at the two women, he then offered Marissa his arm, while she had to exchange a quick look with Neticia to bolster her courage, she hesitantly took it. He led her in a stroll down the wide fairway between the buildings of what appeared to be a small town. They were as far south in Corsc as it was possible to go.

In an even tone of voice, Marissa managed to say, “If I may be so bold, sir … you look to be a bit shorter than six-foot-six. I may not have the most trained eye, but I have certainly seen my share of men in my day.” The short man smiled at her again, even wider than before. “Oh, is that what I said in my letters …?!” His rheumy eyes left hers and gravitated downward, to stare pointlessly at the street for a few moments. It began to dawn on her that while they were heading north, he was also leading her, gradually and inexorably, towards an alleyway on their right hand side.

The sloping roof of one of the buildings had covered the aperture between it and the next one over, forming a dimness there that approached the darkness of night. She looked from one side to the other for a few frantic moments, only then noticing an odd odor coming from the man’s proximity. He stopped them, and caught her by the chin. Her chestnut brown eyes focused on his strange black ones.

“No, don’t look about. This is a very dangerous area. Even the slightest appearance of impropriety will arouse suspicion, and you can’t trust anyone. Just follow me, and I will lead you through safely.”

Marissa wrenched her face from his grip roughly, and then began to straighten out her dress, though it needed no real attention. They had gone no more than four paces further when she suddenly felt the front of the man’s body pressed hard against hers. His gloved hand found her mouth and slipped over it. As she dashed to her lady’s aid, Neticia began to scream, vainly swatting at the man’s head as hard as she could with her own closed parasol. He staved off her attacks easily with his other hand, and withdrew moments later, but retained Marissa’s arm. She was so surprised by the sudden reversal that her exclamations trailed off into mere whimpers as the offending hand fell away from her face. She turned about, only to find that her captor was now standing motionless; he was staring down the street at another man, who was striding towards them.

The new man appeared enraged; he was panting and red-faced. He also had a handlebar mustache, and was dressed in a dress jacket, over a buttoned leather vest and a white dress shirt. A red cravat was twirled about his neck and he wore well-shined, black boots. He was closely followed by three burly young men. They were dressed with much less style and opulence than their master, in faded blacks and browns, and torn denim pants. Marissa could sense that her captor was considering a sudden bolt into flight. But before he could do so, the new man pointed directly at him and then yelled, “HEY, YOU, STOP !!!” at the top of his lungs, shattering what little stillness the afternoon seemed to possess. Her captor froze up completely at this, and Marissa found herself completely released. As she was a little off-balance at the time, she fell on her bottom in a most unladylike fashion, but was far too terrified at that point to even care.

Neticia rushed over and helped her back to her feet. When Marissa turned about to look down the alley, she found that any shadowy accomplices that the short man might have had were now long gone.  She could see no trace of life. By then, the new man’s three young thugs had set upon her captor. The first two of them grasped him by the arms and hauled him away from her bodily; then they drew him up, and the third one punched him hard in the gut. Her captor doubled over, his eyes tearing up and strands of saliva drooling from between his liver-colored lips. When his body had gone fully slack, they threw him down into the dust. One of the ones that had previously held his arms ran over to the alleyway, a black sap appearing in one of his hands. The remaining two began to kick him in the sides of his torso, as he rolled pathetically in the dirt into a broken wooden crate that still bore trace of the juices of rotten vegetables.

By the time the other thug had returned, Marissa’s captor had fallen still, his face slack and mouth agape. The man with the sap shook his head once from side-to-side to confirm the lack of any co-conspirators still in the alleyway. The man in the dress jacket had caught up with the others during the short beating. Assessing the situation, the well-dressed man walked over to Marissa, made initial eye contact with her and extended a gloved hand. Still slightly shocked, she reciprocated, and they gently shook. But, she was nearly inarticulate, and was only able to pant out a phrase at a time. “He was ... the alley … people were in there … waiting for-” she managed.

The well-dressed man smiled grimly. “Yes, yes, I know. But tell me … are you quite alright?” At this, Marissa looked down at her pale beige travel dress. It had been torn slightly at one shoulder, and her hair was somewhat mussed, but other than that, she was fully intact. She looked down the alley once more, then back at the new man. “And you …”

“Yes, Marissa. I am the real Baron Wallins. This ‘man’ was an impostor, I’m afraid. It’s become a growing problem along the coast-line nowadays, something of a new form of piracy, I hear. No one ever thinks that it will happen to them, and then …  well, anyways, please forgive me. I am terribly sorry to have been late … the whole affair is my fault, really.”

“No, you mustn’t blame yourself. It’s so good to finally meet you, in person …” she assured him.

So, Marissa allowed the new man, who was ostensibly the real baron, to lead her by the elbow to a coach that had been waiting just a bit further down the street from where the short man had been trying to lead them. She stepped up and got into it gracefully, but wrinkled her nose at the coach’s musty odor, of old leather and horse sweat. Then, the horses were set off, and the baron rested his elbow on the inside of the door, holding his chin in one hand. After a few minutes, he glanced Marissa’s way again and added, “By the way, welcome to the Watley Peninsula.”

Buy Links:

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Paperback –


Another delay, but in a good way

   Posted by: amrath

Well, I am announcing yet another delay, but this time for the best of reasons. I have signed with Aethon books to publish the whole series. As part of that deal, I have removed the books from amazon and will be going through them with Aethon’s editor to get them ready for re-launching under their imprint. I hope, by this summer, to see them all available under the new banner!


“The War God’s Will” Update

   Posted by: amrath

Still working on it. I know I keep pushing it out, but it’s just life and not having enough time. The book was ‘finished’ months ago, but the editing wasn’t done until late December, and my day job has kept me busy enough that I haven’t had much time to actually apply the results of the editing pass. It’s in progress, and I expect to finish sometime this month or next, assuming I don’t get another crunch with my day job. It’s just a fact right now that the day job pays the bills, so it has priority.


Esme gave Mad God’s Muse 4 stars!

   Posted by: amrath

If you don’t know who Esme is, she’s the blogger who set herself the epic task last year of reading 100 of SPFBO3’s entries, and subsequently landed a spot as a judge this year. She’s also contributed greatly to the indie community in terms of setting up TBRindr, a service for matching indie authors and reviewers. So support her. She’s awesome.

MGM made her ‘recommended’ numbers and squeaked out a 4 or 5 stars (3.9 rounded up).

I really love how much Esme hates Kariana. I always knew she would be a polarizing character, so it’s great to see different reactions to her.

This pic is from a photographer friend of mine, Sketch Ditty. It wasn’t intended to be Kariana, but I was so struck by it when I saw it that I often show it to people as my visual for the character.


WGW Delay until End of Year

   Posted by: amrath

Sadly, I am looking at not being able to deliver the finale book until the end of the year. My previous editor was unable to complete the project due to a family tragedy, so I had to find another editor to work with, and I am not his only client. We will be going through all three books over the next month or so, and hopefully I can get everything integrated in time for Christmas.

I want to emphasize here: the book is done, at least as far as the story goes. It’s just a matter of polishing it for release, now.


Still waiting on “The War God’s Will”

   Posted by: amrath

Well, it’s September, so I have obviously missed the deadline. The book is done, but it is still in editing. I had expected it back sooner, but the editor is running a little behind, so I am just waiting on that. Hopefully this month!