Page 1


Edition 3 Issue 3 August 2017

Page 4 Nathalia Suellen Page 9 Article

Artist & Illustrator Planning A Fantasy Novel

Page 12 BLAZE by Kate Mantis

short story

Page 20 Kazz’s Book Review

dead on your feet

Page 24 C L Schneider

In a Faraway place

Page 26 Article

A bit about fantasy art

Page 28 Interview

with Neil Gaiman

Page 32 Miriam’s Hex Page 34 Article

Paul White The top 20 Fantasy Worlds

Page 38 Character Interview

Illusional Realty

Page 40 Spectrum

Art promotion & Competitions

Page 42 Michael E. Dellert

The Wedding of Eithne

Page 46 Oreo & Tina Modugno


Page 50 Fantasycon 2017


Page 52 A Word from C L Schneider Fantasy Author Page 47 Octocon 2017


Page 58 World Fantasy Convention


Page 60 Half way up a Mountain

Regular feature

Page 62 Novacon 2017


Page 64 Blaze (continued)

short story

Page 69 Dancing Around the Fire

C.A. Keith

NATHALIA SUELLEN Nathália Suellen (born 20 February 1989) is a contemporary fine artist and commercial illustrator based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Entirely self-taught, Suellen’s developed a distinctive visual language from a combination of dark art and pop-surrealism. Her current artworks are born from a high-detailed mixture of photography, 3D and digital painting showing a signature style that blends symbolism, retro-futurism, classical art and dystopia with extremely colourful surrealistic worlds. Her main characters are often captured in scenes where something sad is about to happen, as if they were trapped in a bad dream. Despite her personal illustrations, Nathália is mostly known by her commercial works and a notable clientele list which consists of musicians, photographers, best-selling writers as well as major companies including Random House, Penguin Group, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, McCann Erickson, Bloomsbury, Scholastic and Harry N. Abrams Books.

SERVICES Full Artwork Book Cover Cd Album Art Advertisement Art Licensing

e-mail me:

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Planning A Fantasy Novel Writing a fantasy novel is great fun – you can, literally, let your imagination run wild. It is a little different to writing a novel set in the real world as, unlike books set in reality where you can use real life as examples, you will have to invent everything in your own fantasy world. Here are five tips to get you on your way to having a great fantasy novel.

Read as many classics as you can find. This will give you a good idea about what works and what does not. Take care not to simply copy ideas you read. If you find yourself dealing with elves, half-lings and orcs whilst being a reluctant hero on a quest to destroy a powerful item, it is probably best to scrap it and start again. It is true all stories are a combination of those the reader has encountered over the years. You should always try to find an original angle and it certainly should not be obvious what the source material was. Reading the classics will allow you to discover how wellcrafted characters interact with each other as the story progresses. Use established myths and legends as the basis for your fantasy world. Think about what your fantasy world might be like. Is it most like a Celtic, roman or medieval world, or something else entirely? Once you chose, read about the myths and legends relate to it. The mythological creatures and characters and their stories will give you a great basis for your new world.

Get to know your imaginary world . You need to be able to describe it in detail if you are going to convince your readers, for the duration of the book at least, that it exists. Here are some things to think about: What does your fantasy world look like? What is the colour of the sky in the morning, the evening, or during the night? How dark is the night? Can other planets or moons be seen from the surface? Is the air breathable by visitors, like humans? What creatures live there? are there seas? What does the landscape look like and does it alter, say from plains to mountains? Decide who lives in your newly formed fantasy world. You should spend time thinking about how they look, what they eat, how they move, whether they need sleep, how they speak to one another, and so on.

Planning A Fantasy Novel Cont...

What kind of society exists? Do they need money to buy things? Is there a complex system of politics they follow? Do they have a police force, an army. a king or president? Is there a religion? Do the residents have any special powers or use magic? If so, what are they and why do they exist? Does everyone have use of them or only certain people? Plan. Plan your novel before you start. Know your story line and prepare a detailed synopsis showing all the major characters and how they interact. This will keep you on course and give you an overview, showing you how much additional research you need to do and allowing you to plan where any subplots will feature.. Make sure you have a beginning, a middle and an end.

The beginning leads readers into the heart of the drama and forms the foundation on which the story is built. It should grab their attention. The middle is where you should develop your theme, revealing more about the characters and building up the tension. Don’t let it flag. The end is the final act in the drama. Not every problem needs to be solved but make sure the main conflict has been resolved. A happy ending isn’t obligatory but it is more satisfying for your reader if you at least end on an upbeat note.

Plan your chapters so that they end on a note of tension or contain a ‘hook’ that will ensure that your reader wants to turn the page or start the next chapter.

Spooky Jack o Lantern by Billcreative Dan



K ATE M ANTIS Hello! My name is Brindusa Katalin Poenaru and I’m from Romania. As a hopeless romantic dreamer, I have a passion for writing and drawing. Using my pen name,

Kate Mantis, I publish my stories (and artworks) on various blogging sites, hoping that they will find echoes inside people’s heart. My writings are mostly short stories or short novels in the genre of Fantasy and Sci-Fi. I think story telling is one of the most wonderful gifts of humanity and through my works I try to ad my voice to the choir of magical telling that is keeping us enchanted from the dawns of our time. In my everyday life, I am happily married to a wonderful and creative mathematics teacher and we have two young adult children, a boy and a girl. My family is offering me the loving and supportive background to keep my dreams alive and to turn them into new stories to tell.!/posts

I count myself lucky to know Katy and it makes me happy I can share, here in CQ International Magazine, one of her romantic stories. This one is entitled BLAZE and is part of Katy’s "The Two Scheherazades" series. Enjoy

Motto: “If everything is possible because you wish and believe, then I have already enlarged this whole Universe, widen it and fell through it, inside my own wishes… I have opened the gates and let the light in, until blaze filled it all and now, I am resonating to the waves of the light.

I am and I am not anymore… only my dreams roaming freely…their wings touching in flight my inner chords…it’s the touching point where joy and pain melt into one, dissolute in glow….”

The silence was soft and deep, rocking gently from shore to shore, ebbing and flowing, ebbing and flowing, its shallow waves washing the sands of a reality yet unborn. The glow that filled this place hidden in the deep core of the Space and Time fabric of the Universe was brought up by the ceaseless flight of light-butterflies dancing gracefully in a place that the hour-glass would find nothing to count. In this meaningful nothingness, intricate waves of energy were constantly building new and new strings of beginning, weaving them into the powerful grid supporting reality, while weightless particles roamed along the confusingly complex pathways as ephemeral realities popped up and died in fractions of seconds. It was here that life and light swirled around each other in a passionate embrace until they became thin threads of fate for the souls that were about to be born. These magic loaded threads floated slowly until

they reached the River of Time, dived in its majestic waters and followed the rush of the mighty stream. The silky filaments gathered in the flow, coiling, swirling and undulating, touching each other cautiously, curiously, inquisitively or challengingly, searching, asking, reacting…They tangled, danced then separated, they drifted apart just to reunite a few moments later. In this high-spirited and bizarre dance, some of them connected in a bond that was to become eternal. In the ever-changing reality, this was their only certainty; no matter how far the future would set or stretch them, at one moment they would meet again because their connection was unbreakable. As the river came closer to the gates of the tangible universe, it gathered speed, dived and bubbled up in huge streaks of murky waters, scattering and mixing up the threads of life before they all fell through the Galactic Waterfall into the abyss of Real Life… He stood tall and erect on his horse, watching the come and go of the small community. It was a warm, sunny day of early autumn when the grassy plain was still luminous green and the sky was enameled in the brightest azure. He was returning after years of traveling and wandering over the remotest, wildest places, driven by an inner resort and by the thirst for a deeper knowledge. He had spent the days and nights of this lonely quest in watching and learning the ways Nature moves, unraveling her deeply veiled secrets to quench his own thirst and for the benefit of his supportive community.

As he finally fulfilled his dreams and wishes, his body and heart matured under the strain of Nature’s hardship and he was ready to open for new feelings and different experiences. His horizon widened, his soul grew soft wings of dream…all he needed was somebody close to share the marvels inside. Many new faces, smiles, laughter, chit-chat filled the premises as he rode slowly through the village. Despite his stern posture, nothing escaped his intent gaze and sharp senses. He smiled inwardly noticing the reactions towards his mysterious appearance; many of the youth around had been small kids at the time of his departure. He gently kicked his horse into a light stroll and picked up the way to his own tent. Graceful, slender girls with sparkling eyes gathered in small groups, giggling and throwing playful glances towards him. They fled like colorful birds as he came closer, the crystal-clear sound of their laughter echoing in the crisp air. He kept his pace and his mind wandered…

The girl stopped midway, gazing at him with unhidden curiosity. She wasn’t impressive at first but there was a catching depth in the velvet of her dark brown eyes and when she smiled, her entire being lit up and radiated warmly. He held back his horse and took her gaze. She watched him for a moment and then, as he kept his serious, unmoving composure she shook her head playfully and vanished inside her tent. He stood there, puzzled by the short moment and something moved deep inside him, like the echo of a long forgotten touch over his soul… In the bubbling flow of the River of Time, two threads collided for a fraction of a second, the momentary touch sending waves of sizzling light along them, back and fort, recalling the memory of a connection made long time before…But time had not yet come for them to be together as misunderstandings veiled the pathway between them. He took her undisguised openness as provocative and her easy going nature for shallow character. On the other hand, she interpreted his shy and reserved manner for boyish cockiness and treated him as unreliable and egotistic. The spark that had ignited between them on this first encounter sank deeper and deeper until it faded out…or at least, they both felt that way. In short time, he found his match

in a beautiful and quiet girl that followed him closely, just like the Moon follows the Earth while the girl found her balance in the strong arms and supportive personality of another young man. So, they drifted away, pushed aside by the strong currents of life, carrying deep inside the first grain of the blaze that was meant to ignite one day…Years and decades and centuries passed as the planet kept rolling on its heavenly orbit around the bright yellow sun. Generations switched place one after another, history rose and died out while the threads of life kept tangling, stretching, crossing, eluding each other in a swarm of endless moments carried by the sail of Time. He and she met or drifted apart on many occasions and even though, on a conscious level they remembered nothing about their previous encounters, there was always a subtle flow that kept touching and troubling their hearts, leaving them each time with more questions than answers. A secret yearning echoed inside them, growing in intensity with every moment of closeness. Inside them, love was unfolding its iridescent wings, spreading her seeds of flame in the hope of the magic moment of full blaze that was meant to come. The first day of autumn started in the sound of goodbyes chirped by the long rows of swallows leaving for forever-summer shores. Yet the green of the tall forests, grassy hills and deep curved meadows was untouched and light showered from the skies in dusting gold. Under the crisp blue sky, the air was rich in fragrances and humanity was rejoicing in nature’s calming embrace. At this early hour, a young woman was heading towards the little art-shop she was keeping with some of her close friends. They were emerging artists, selling their creations, art, small pottery, intricate jewelry, clothes and artful books and things were going well. Her morning started with difficulty, even though she had slept well all night. Barely come out of the bed she realized that the reality surrounding her refused to solidify. It was waving and wobbling, constantly slipping through her fingers like she was still adrift in the world of dreams

Things were floating around her and nothing seemed to fall in place. The milk was spilling on the floor as the small cup set for the cat danced away a few centimeters, the coffee suddenly decided that it disliked the mug and even her hair had a mind of its own this morning. She fought to get a grip on things, over the shifting space coordinates but gave up after a while; resistance was futile…. -It’s Friday, this should be my lucky day-she murmured. Oh, well, let’s see what can be done…. She stopped gazing stubbornly at the cat’s cup until she was sure about the current position of the item. She filled it with milk, scratched the head of the purring kitty and left the kitchen. Washed and dressed up at high speed, she left the house with the hope that a coffee at her favorite cafeteria will fix the day. On the way out, she remembered to send a mail to her friend, Margo so she took out the cell-phone and started typing, while her feet ported her on the well known road to the coffee shop. She finished sending the mail and stopped; her inner sense of direction told her that she has reached destination. Her eyes told her otherwise; she was standing in front of a completely unknown coffee shop, situated on a street she never walked before. “Here we go again-she sighed. I hope at least that they have a decent coffee here. I badly need one…”

To her surprise the place proved to be pleasant and inviting. The coffee was strong, aromatic, garnished with a fresh-cream flower, sprinkled with cinnamon. Two small brownies were completing the serving and she found a quiet corner under a curtain of colorful Wisteria tree. She decided to get over the awkwardness of the previous events and enjoy the coffee. She set her book, cell-phone and a notebook on the small table. She took a sip from the coffee and leafed through the notebook. The writing of a shortstory was a bit behind schedule… Reality twisted and relaxed, the subtle wave altering the moment in time; the book fell on the floor… -Is this yours? - the smooth baritone shook the girl up from her thoughts and she turned towards the source

of the sound. Her deep, dark eyes met the ocean green ones of a smiling stranger, holding her out the boisterous book. Inside the invisible stream two threads suddenly collided; the spark of the moment washed over them at the speed of light and they brightened up instantly, their light harmoniously glowing on the same wave… In the swarm of tangling, the connection that had kept them from drifting away and get lost, that lifetime long entwining born out of the magic of the beginning reacted to the closeness in the historic Space-Time flow and contracted until they met again in the embrace they’d been longing for. -Is this yours? A warm smile accompanied the question and for a moment the air between them sizzled. She lost grip of reality and fell into the clear blue-green waters reflecting her. The crust of consciousness cracked and the long hidden, piled up memories started their inconspicuous flow to the surface of mind. Warmth enveloped her and she delved in bliss…

The sharp sound of the metal spoon hitting the ground broke the chain of spell and the girl landed abruptly into reality. The owner of the green-blue eyes has vanished. She shook her head incredulously and peered into the cup of coffee questioningly. Has this been real or it’s been just something in her coffee? Her eyes caught a glimpse of the small piece of paper hidden between the pages of her book. She took it out cautiously; it was a small, rectangular card, with only a few words printed. “JUSTIN Mc CORMACK-Private investigator” –it read. She read it twice, afraid that the letters might fade out before she could learn the name and the phone number. She slipped the card inside the wallet, paid for the coffee and fled the place. She only stopped for a moment to read the sign above the entrance door of this strange coffee house. “DREAMTIME CAFÉ-Come back any day” She tried to shake away the strange sensation setting upon her but time was short and she was already late. As she finally recognized the street, she sped up towards the art-shop. “Margo will kill me”-she thought and sighed. The day has just started. Luckily, Margo was in good mood and said nothing. Carrie looked preoccupied about something that might have happened during that morning. She has arrived late, stormed in and was reluctant to share. The usually cheerful girl now looked confused and restless. But Friday was a busy day and soon customers started to pour in and there was no place for daydreaming anymore. The late summer warmth brought flocks of tourists to the city, keeping the small art-shop buzzing with excited people. Late in the evening the flow thinned and Margo decided to ask her friend about the things seemingly bothering her. Once again Carrie didn’t seem to be ready to talk. -Relax-she said with a smile. All I need is a good sleep and I’ll be fit as a fiddle tomorrow. This was a …graceful lie and they both knew it but

Margo wisely decided to drop the topic. They closed the store and met with Robert who was waiting outside for Margo. Carrie kissed her friend, declined the invitation for a drink and headed home. She barely took a turn when she ran into…. Justin took his usual” coffee-to-go” and was about to leave the cozy little café when something caught his attention. It was a sudden movement that triggered his alarm and what followed left him speechless. The small book rose from the table up in the air, floated peacefully for a moment or two then fell on the floor with a loud splash! “I knew it, I knew it…-grumbled the young man. That wine yesterday evening was one glass too much…” He looked around but even more strangely, no one seemed to have witnessed the unusual happening and no one reacted to the sharp sound the fallen book made by hitting the floor. Justin slowly exhaled, put his coffee on the counter and made a few steps towards the table. He picked up the book. -Is this yours? -he asked the young woman sitting at the table. She seemed oblivious to whatever has happened and surprise was clearly mirroring in her eyes as she looked up from her notebook. Their eyes met and for a moment the walls of the room disappeared, leaving them in a space with no contours. An almost magnetic flow of energy was flowing from the depth of her velvety dark eyes, surrounding him with unexpected warmth. In that fraction of time inner worlds connected in a subtle intimacy while sending speeding pulses of glow through the threads of fate twisting and coiling in the unseen Universe. The young man smiled, placed the book on the table and left. By the time he was out of the café, he knew that this was not just an ordinary day. Books floating in the air are not happening on a daily basis, not even to a guy who is pursuing strange life-lines and the truth behind what the eyes see. Even his coffee had a different taste today. The roasted, bitter-sweet aroma filled his mouth, triggering memories lost in the vortex of Time.

The sudden shift in his Spatial-Temporal connection turned into a sharp headache, webbing through the corridors of his mind. He quickly turned and took a short-cut towards a small park nearby, found an empty bench in a remote spot and sat. He closed his eyes, buried his face in his palms and tried to relax until the waters of his mind would quiet down. The layers of Reality shifted and without knowing it, Justin was drifting through the newly opened portal. Bits of words spoken in a strange, yet familiar language, laughter, clatter of horses and the whistle of an old locomotive surrounded him. The young man opened his eyes and looked around in utter surprise. The scenery has drastically changed; he was standing on the platform of a train station, in the middle of the wilderness. -Welcome home, Blue Eagle. It’s been a while since you left us… The voice was a pleasant baritone and to his surprise, Justin recognized the language and the person talking to him. His uncle was speaking their mothertongue, one that Justin had not heard while he was gone far away from the Native village. They warmly embraced each other and then loaded the luggage on the back of the horses, taking the path towards their home. The lively talk with the man who raised him with love and dignity shortened the trip and stirred the sweet memories of joyful childhood. The air was crisp and fragrant here, sunlight was dancing through the deep-green foliage of the forest and the song of the birds was soothing music for the soul. Oh, how much had he missed them all those years spent in various cities… Though man-made civilization was full of wonders created by the imaginative human mind, nothing could equal the awe of his soul under the star-blazed nights. For a short moment, he felt sorry for the city dwellers, living and dying without knowing what they were missing. At the edge the village, the two men split and Justin took a longer way, one that led him through some of the narrow paths where he roamed once. Emotions flooded him and the voices, shapes and colors turned into a shimmering flow of rainbow, carrying him away. He returned to reality abruptly, when his

horses halted in front of a daring girl. She stood there, in the middle of the road, with a playful smile on her face. As their eyes locked, he remembered. The long lost connection, the effulgence of that original twist of the threads of fate, the pulsing fire of souls entwined… all of them echoed in those darkbrown eyes…The pain of long rows of drifting away tore through his heart…and he woke up from the dream. He knew now: this was a rare chance in the flow of Time, the chance of reconnecting with the one who had been his soul mate from the early beginnings. He stood up refreshed and determined. He wasn’t letting this unique chance to slip away. She barely took a turn when she ran into… herself. In the dark emptiness of the street, a window opened into the flow of Time and she was standing in the middle of it. Her entire Cosmic Past was flowing through her … She was witnessing the whole process by the mind’s eyes, beginning with the fragile string of fate caught in the rush of the eternal river of entwined, connecting moments to the girl standing still, mesmerized by the unfolding of her personal history… From her vantage point, the lives she has had carried through had been gentle to her most of the times and even in the hardest moments, love had never left her…oh, well, maybe just now, in the current times. Throughout her many folded stories, she had loved and had been loved by wonderful people and the fulfillment of those emotional connections had always been her highest contentment… Or they weren’t? For the first time in her whole existence, she came to realize that there was a grain of discontent, a sense of incompletion in all her previous lives, an inner spring pushing her forward to search for something, someone that would fully and thoroughly complete her. In that speedy change of cycles, she had lost the one who could make her whole, the one whose thread of fate had intimately connected to hers at the beginning of their journey. In a split of a moment, she understood that she had been searching for him in each and every love of her numerous lives.

She could feel his presence in the flow of Time but there was always some veil, some blur of events preventing them to face each other in the right moment and to reconnect. Carrie frantically reached out, searching for the lightprint of her kin-spirit. This very moment was an unexpected gift; losing the given opportunity would mean another painful drifting away from each-other and she wasn’t going to allow that. She delved deep inside her hidden corners of the heart and spirit, pushing aside any piece of emotion or memory that would distract her from finding that shimmering imprint. In all existence, she had never wanted anything so badly, so passionately, so desperately… And then, revelation came, along with the memory of their latest close encounter, the remembrance of her mistake, the way she misread him and made a different choice… Luckily that misunderstanding held also the hint she’d been searching for. They say that the eyes are the windows of the soul and that you can see a person’s inner garden looking carefully inside those magic openings. And she has just seen those windows she’d been yearning so long. After all, books are not flipping off the table by themselves every day…. She reached home in a trance-like state of mind and only the meowing of the kitten brought her back to reality. Carrie shook off the invisible cloak of spellbounding and forced herself into the necessary routine. She filled a small bowl with juicy chunks of meat and placed it on the floor; the happy purr put a smile on her face. The young woman peered inside her fridge; she quickly decided that a salad would fit this awkward day. She showered and sat on the top of the bed, absentmindedly flipping the small rectangle of paper between her fingers. “JUSTIN Mc CORMACK-Private investigator” The letters were dancing in front of her eyes…. “Gods…What’s happening to me? What do I do now?” She put the card aside and nervously stood up. “So…what if I call him? Hmmm…and say what? That I

had a vision? That…what? Oh, I can’t even remember how he looks… Just those eyes…. Like he was seeing right through me…Oh!” Unexpectedly, she burst into tears….and cried until she regained balance. The kitten was purring at her feet, trying to ease her pain. She picked him up and chuckled. “Come, Ginger, we’ll sort this out together. Oh, well… I’ll give a try and call him tomorrow.” Strange happenings are like the slide of sand… the grains pile up then roll faster, faster… flipping, jumping and springing. Inside the torrent of cosmic particles and flaming energies that keep weaving the protective net surrounding the ephemeral flow of threads of fate, there is a short moment of confusion. In the life of the Universe, it’s less than the flicker of an eye…yet, it is somehow unexpected. This opalescent pair of strings has suddenly decided to reunite and no push or speedy rush can separate them now…The silky core of the two delicate lines are pulsing in harmony, signaling each-other, diving then surging on the surface of the Time-flood. It’s been a while since they first jumped, closely connected, in the river of the future… Draped in the colorful aura of the echoing desire, they stand out in the ceaseless movement… This time, nothing can separate them… This is a special summer-night, when the Moon unlocks the gates of the land of dreams and fantasies, reality losing its grip on the world. Caught in the creative strolling of their mind, the more sensitive spirits stumble upon each-others on the intricate web of corridors leading into the Garden of magic. The young woman wakes up, facing a large mirror on the wall. Her mind knows: this must be a dream, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Her fingertips gently touch the cool, glossy surface…It’s an unusual mirror; there’s no reflection inside…until her eyes meet his eyes. Suddenly, there is no screen between them; her palms are warmly resting upon his palms, his gaze locked into her velvety eyes. The moonlight washes away the contours. In the silence of the moment, two dreaming souls merge into one…

night; there’s a mix of shyness and bold playfulness in her eyes. Carrie gives a small, soft laughter to hide her embarrassment under the gaze of those luminous, blue-green eyes. -Hi! -she says and smiles. He is captured by the warmth and light of that smile. -Hi! -he answers and offers her an arm. Come, let me show you my favorite spot here… -So, how is he? Margo finds hard to hide her curiosity. -How is who? Carrie seems oblivious of her friend’s curiosity. She keeps sorting some items from a large box. -Oh, come on! It’s written all over your face! Ever since that hectic Friday you’re absentminded and glowing. So, tell me: how is he? Carrie seems to search for a proper answer. -He’s…special-she concludes after a while. Margo chuckles. The young man with ocean-green eyes is sitting on the edge of his bed. It’s almost morning. The Moon has faded away, closing behind him the gates of magic; yet the warmth of that embrace is still lingering in his arms and in his memory…He’s not surprised when his cell-phone rings and he hears:

-You know him for about a week and you have already concluded that he’s special? Oh, Carrie…Where is my level-headed friend?

-I think we should meet…

Maggie grins and turns towards a fresh client, leaving Carrie the necessary break to sort her thoughts. The young woman is deeply troubled; how could she tell her friend about this love? Justin entered her life in a very unusual way, along with a series of events that were threatening to shake the basis of her entire life. While her heart ignited suddenly, her mind kept protesting… But Carrie knew by now that the reason of the heart overcomes any other reason…. because it reads the depths of the soul, where the special light of love lives. She sighs and turns her attention towards the clients. One should comply also with the needs of reality…

They stand, facing each other. It has been the longest day ever until Carrie was finally able to close the shop and come down to the little park. Justin cannot even remember what he was doing to kill time…It’s all in a blur…They are here… Now. It’s a remote spot, an oasis of intimacy under the umbrella of a mighty, old tree. For moments, they are unable to speak. Communication flows only through the connected gaze, windows of soul opening into windows of soul. What happened to us? Where were we for such a long time? Why did we drift away? How could this happen? These questions keep swirling in their mind, while they face each other. Justin feels like he’s looking into the depths of a starry

The two girls share laughter. -Ok. He’s lovely and we get along well. Satisfied?


Welcome to the Summer of Fantasy The summer is the time the majority of us take our holidays or vacation and many busy workers just want to relax. Reading on the beach, or with a great view when you have all the time in the world is a perfect thing to do.

This month on Kazz’s Book Reviews I’m offering you one of my favourite genres, crime with a team of detectives sent to investigation.

I initially chose this book because it is set in my part of the world, North Wales, where the author also lives. The crime happens in the seaside town of Llandudno and I also offer you another beach read, Behind the Music.

You can link up with me here: Website: Facebook - Twitter - Amazon – Visit the Magic of Stories shop - Sign up for the Magic of Stories newsletter and this month, as well as the free book, Magic of Stories, I’m offering another gift. This is a personal welcome letter and free gifts sent to your home address wherever you live in the world.

Genre: Crime/Mystery/Thriller/Detective A gruesome exhibit… When the dead body of a woman is found on public display, the murder scene bears all the hallmarks of a famous work of art. DI Ian Drake knows he is dealing with a very creative and intelligent killer – one who enjoys having their work showcased for all to see. A gallery of death… As more murders take place, each copying a famous work of art, Drake faces a murderer who always seems to be one step ahead. And when one of the suspects is revealed to be his own brother, the pressure mounts…this case just got very personal. The portrait of a killer. The art world is small, but the murderer’s ego is too big to hide forever. Drake knows he is getting closer to unmasking the culprit, but can he stop the killer before their grand finale – and a very public murder Is it a Series? Yes, this is book 4. The others in the series are: Brass in Pocket, Worse than Dead & Against the Tide. How easy is it to read? Very.

Kazz’s Review Before I began to review books, I read a lot of series and concentrating on a few favourite authors who I knew wouldn’t let me down. Karen Slaughter and Patricia Cornwell come to mind, although there were others. These days, it isn’t practical for me to do that, although I do like to balance reading for pleasure and reading to review. I am a subscriber of Stephen Puleston’s newsletter, and as with most authors, we try to give our readers something special. Puleston gave away ARCs (Advanced Reader’s Copy), in the hope that by the time Dead on Your Feet was released there would be some reviews. I’m not a big fan of deadlines either and before I hit the download button I wanted to be absolutely sure I could read it by the end of the month, as requested. I downloaded it for two reasons two reasons. One - it is set in Wales and the other was because it looked interesting and I hadn’t realised it was a series. By the time I found out I was reading book 4, it was too late,

I was hooked. Luckily, Dead On Your Feet is a standalone novel. You do not need to read the others to understand the characters or the story line. However, if I had my time again, I would start from book 1 and make my way through each of them. I still might, because I would imagine they are all standalone and, importantly, a blooming good read! The main character, Detective Inspector Ian Drake is neatness freak, but not so much that it becomes annoying. I did wonder further along the book whether this issue was addressed in previous stories and in this one, it was enough to keep him interesting. He also has an ex-wife who h for has their children and this was a good storyline alternative to the investigation. Drake’s wife does not understand when he has to cancel taking out the children because of police business, and there is a friction between them.

The Inspector has a new sergeant, a girl who had been promoted and eager to fit into the already established team. She does, and Drake seems to like her better than the previous one. I liked her too. The storyline was traditional, police hunting a killer, but it is the details that set it apart. I really enjoyed it and loved how it was set in places I knew. Drake often hit the A55, the main arterial road through this part of Wales and one I regularly travel on. Llandunno has a promenade and a pier, one I’ve visited several times. So when the police hear of a body on the pier and race to investigate, I am right there. If you have never been to Wales, or are not familiar with this location, you will enjoy it just as much as the descriptions bring this beautiful part of the country to life. Which is more than I can say for the victims!

I didn’t guess who the killer was, but I rarely do. I just sit back and let the story roll over me. It’s a great plot with all the ingredients you would expect from a crime thriller. I have to say, the biggest kick I had was the author comes from Trearddur Bay, which is the about 10 minutes from where I live. I often stroll by the sea and come back to the car to the read for a while. It is more than likely Puleston also walked the same steps and looked at the view as he was forming the story in his mind. So for the summer months, take your crime down the beach and enjoy everything it has to offer. Stephen-Puleston/e/B00F8HJMUY

I am also the author of seven books. In previous editions I have told you about:

The Secret, a 70s romance where abuse is kept behind closed doors. The Truth Will Out, a thriller, but who is the stalker and who is the victim? The Missing was featured in the last edition and is part of my three themed short story collections.

Kazuhiro Oya

….Lives a strange creature called C. L. Schneider….she is a New York-based author of adult epic and urban fantasy. Born in a small Kansas town, she grew up in a house of avid readers and overflowing bookshelves. Her first full-length novel took shape in high school, on a typewriter in her parent’s living room. Schneider’s epic trilogy, The Crown of Stones, tells the story of Ian Troy, a man born with an addiction to magic. Learn more about C.L. Schneider and her work at where you can read reviews, excerpts and sneak peeks, and subscribe to her newsletter. An active part of the indie author online community, you can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Google+, where she is often found chatting about books, zombies, coffee, and the daily ups and downs of writing. Buy Crown of Stones here

Flash Point is the first book in C. L. Schneider's new urban fantasy series, Nite Fire, featuring shapeshifters, dragons, and parallel worlds. Buy Flash Point here

An excerpt from Magic Price Sliding one of the swords into the sheath on my back, I scooted closer. The edge of the rift crumbled some at my weight, but I didn’t waver. Buried in this very spot was the once sprawling empire of my Shinree ancestors, a fallen realm, lost and unseen by the world for over five hundred years. Whatever artifact the quake had uncovered was worth the risk. I reached down inside the hole. My fingers brushed the rounded lip and an immediate, intense current of energy licked my skin. It ran through me, and I let out a yelp. It wasn’t from pain, though. The jolt was one of pure pleasure. It was raw and acute, and I quickly wrapped my entire hand around the thing and held on. Nine distinct, magical vibrations were alive inside it. I could feel them all, swirling and overlapping. Each had their own well of energy, but together they formed a compilation of searing, pulsing power that was vast beyond any magic I had ever experienced before. It was massive, concentrated.

Website Facebook CLS.Author Twitter Goodreads goodreadscomCLSchneider Google +

Enthralled, I abandoned my other sword and started digging. Loosening the soil, I tugged on the artifact and it didn't take long for the dirt wall to collapse and my prize to come free. As I lifted it out of the hole, I shook it clean. Fashioned like a King's crown, the circlet was pure perfection.

The others, the soldiers around me, wouldn't see it that way. They couldn't feel its magic, couldn't taste it. They had no idea the pleasure it could offer. Yet, simply looking at the stone crown opened a familiar sinking, wrenching pit of need in my gut. Sweat beaded then poured off my skin. Tremors erupted deep inside me, rivaling those that split the valley floor. I was suddenly so empty, so hungry. As I lifted it out of the hole, I shook it clean.

A BIT ABOUT FANTASY ART To find the humble beginnings of fantasy art we don't have to look very far. Religious mythology is full of artwork about angels, demons, gods, centaurs and similar creatures, creatures which can be found in almost all religions, Christian, Norse, Greek, Celtic, Roman and so on. Gustave Dore's illustration of "Paradise Lost" was a marked achievement in Christian mythology. But Western culture did not sprout fantasy art, as we know it, until the common use of printing presses and a method of serigraphy reduced the cost of printing works with images. Modern fantasy art, including science fiction art, was born out of the literary world. Literary icons such as Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan and J.R.R Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, have inspired artists for decades with their characters and fantastical plots. Conan especially, with his brutal, over-masculine, sexual image with scantily clad slave-girls and almost naked princesses at his feet. The creation of the original images profoundly affects how we view fantasy art. Tolkien made artwork to illustrate the world he created. This unleashing a floodgate for professional and amateur artists to depict their versions of MiddleEarth. One can track the history of fantasy art back to Greek

mythology, Christian mythology, Chinese folklore, African myths and superstitions regarding magic in every culture. Museums are proof, with sculptures, pottery and paintings of dragons, evil demons, spirits, ghosts, forces of nature, angels, and heroic immortals. Fantasy art is a combination of imagination and observation of reality, adding fanciful, unrealistic, fantastic, dreamy, wistful essences into the mix. Essentially the result of artists with wild imaginations. Dark fantasy art is a popular theme for both artists and connoisseurs, it is where individuals can explore their deepest fears and darkest desires. Popular themes are vampires, demons, gothic art, wiccan and pagan art, horror art and dark surreal and taboo themes. In 1923 'Weird Tales' (the first all-fantasy fiction magazine) was created. Many other similar magazines followed, including 'Sword and Sorcery'. Pulp magazine were at the height of popularity during this period and were instrumental in bringing fantasy fiction to a wide audience in the U.S. and Britain. Prominent authors began their careers with these magazines, including Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Leiber, Ray Bradbury and most noticeably H. P. Lovecraft. The early works of many 'Sword and Sorcery' authors, such as Robert E. Howard began at this time. By 1950, Sword and Sorcery had found a wide audience, partly due to the success of Howard's 'Conan the Barbarian' and Fritz Leiber's 'Fafhrd and

the Gray Mouser' stories. Like Morris and Eddison before him, Leiber continued the tradition of drawing on Northern European legend and folklore. C.L. Moore was among Howard's first imitators, with "The Black God's Kiss", in which she introduced Jirel of Jury and the heroine protagonist to Sword and Sorcery. In 1938, with the publication of The Sword in the Stone, T. H. White introduced one of the most notable works of comic fantasy. This strain continued with L. Sprague de Camp, who managed to scrap together Howard's unfinished works and create additional Conan stories, finishing them in true Robert E. Howard fashion. Following the success of fantasy fiction magazines, (in the 1950s to the 1970s), fantasy writers began writing full length novels. The 1950s saw the rise of science fiction as a marketing juggernaut. UFOs, aliens, communists, government conspiracies, they were in the collective consciousness of western culture. Science fiction began to dominate the pulp fiction world. In 1993, mathematics professor Richard Garfield created the trading card company 'Wizards of the Coast' and patented trading card games, creating 'Magic: The Gathering', 'PokĂŠmon Trading Card Game', 'Star Wars Trading Card Game' and 'the Simpsons Trading Card Game and many more.

With approximately 6 million players in 70 countries, the company became so profitable they bought out TSR. Because the trading cards all have artwork on them, it became a main source of employment for fantasy artists. With modern computer graphics, the movie business pumped new life into the fantasy genre. Blockbuster films (often based on popular books) like Dragonheart, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Golden Compass, The Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars (contrary to popular belief, Star Wars is technically fantasy, not science fiction) Hollywood has created renewed interest in fantasy art and books.





Neil Gaiman wanders into the Crosby Hotel’s colourful parlour in lower Manhattan looking like the Platonic ideal of himself. He’s all wild hair and gracious manners, dressed in a lived-in black wool coat, which he keeps on throughout. He loves this hotel, he says, not least because the concierge writes a comic about Houdini with the former concierge. Gaiman started out in comics, reading them as a child and eventually writing them too, including his famous Sandman series. So does this happen to him often, his very presence tempting out underground comics enthusiasts all over the globe? “I wish I could say yes. It would be a much more interesting and sort of Pynchon-esque world. But no, it’s just here.” Gaiman looks a little tired. He has just come from feeding breakfast to his toddler youngest son, the progeny of his second marriage to the singersongwriter Amanda Palmer. (He has three children with his first wife, Mary McGrath.) His creative life is a whirlwind of projects. The television version of his 2001 novel American Gods is to air in the US in April. He has also been at work on an adaptation of his 1990 collaboration with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens, for Amazon and the BBC, on which he is serving as

showrunner. Meanwhile, there is the matter of writing books, the latest of which is Gaiman’s retelling of Norse myths in the straightforwardly titled Norse Mythology, out this week. It has clearly been a struggle to find the time. “I would look up every now and again and go, ‘OK, I have a week. Good, I will retell a story.’” These are drawn from the 13th-century source texts for many Norse myths, the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda, which he first read in his 30s, after absorbing the superhero stories inspired by them in Marvel comics as a child growing up in West Sussex. With such a haphazard schedule, it has taken around eight years to write the book, the idea for which was first floated by his American editor at Gaiman’s birthday lunch in 2008. Listing all of Gaiman’s achievements could fill a book on its own. In addition to the comics, he is the author of novels for adults and children including Neverwhere, The Graveyard Book and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. He has written original screenplays and seen his work adapted by others, too, such as the 2009 stop-motion version of Coraline. He has been nominated for and won countless awards, including the Hugos, Nebulas and Eisners.

Gaiman’s love of Norse mythology surfaces frequently in his work, not least in American Gods, which captures a battle between Odin and Loki. But in embarking on the retellings in Norse Mythology, Gaiman found himself faced with new limitations, as much information about the gods is missing. “On Greeks and Romans, for example, we have scads of stuff, but the Norse weren’t writing it down,” he explains. “They were telling the stories, so everything we have was written down after the event.” The holes and the contradictions that result from the oral tradition presented creative choices, but he felt an acute responsibility to be faithful to the traditional versions. You hit a myth and go, 'No, I can’t get behind that. Really, we get licked out of the ice by a cow? OK, if you say so'

the end, but he dies the same person he’s been all the way through.” In contrast, Loki is both the devil and the saviour of the gods. “Almost every story where they’re in trouble, it’s because Loki got them into it. Also, an awful lot of the time, he’s the only one smart enough to get them out of it.” He declares “a real joy in passing these things on. It’s like being given something that belongs to humanity and polishing it and cleaning it up and putting it back out there.”

Gaiman’s enthusiasm for myths also extends to the Egyptians and the Greeks. He can reel off similarities between ancient stories, and says he doesn’t just tell the stories, he feels them on some emotional level. “The glory of some of these myths is that they feel

“I have to play fair with the Norse scholars and I have to play fair with kids who pick up the book and read it and think they know the stories. And so I may add colour, I may add motivation, I’d go and put in my own dialogue. I may draw inferences,” he says. “All that stuff I’m allowed to do, but I feel like I’m not allowed to just go, ‘OK, there’s a patch of canvas missing here. I’m going to draw something in … ’” Even so, Gaiman’s personal sensibility is apparent in the text. His affection for Loki, for instance, shines through: “Loki is very handsome. He is plausible, convincing, likable, and far and away the most wily, subtle and shrewd of all the inhabitants of Asgard. It is a pity, then, that there is so much darkness inside him: so much anger, so much envy, so much lust.”

right,” he explains, although he also concedes that every now and then “you’ll hit a myth and go, ‘No, I can’t really get behind that. Really, we get licked out of the ice by a cow? OK, if you say so.’” (He’s referring there to the myth of Audhumla, which he includes in Norse Mythology, despite his scepticism.)

Gaiman attributes his love of Loki to his novelist’s eye. “You always end up fascinated by who changed, and how they change, because the engine of fiction is who are you at the beginning of the story and who are you at the end. Thor, bless his heart, has no narrative arc: he is the same person all the way through. He is not the brightest hammer in the room, but he’s good hearted, and you know he will die at

As Gaiman wrestled with these stories, he says, he had no idea he was writing a topical book. But then, as political events unfolded in the second half of 2016, he could not help but draw parallels. “For me, it was Ragnarök,” he says, referring to the apocalyptic end of the gods. It begins with a long winter, continues with earthquakes and flooding, and then the sky splits apart.

The view that Brexit and the election of President Trump have brought about chaos and even a sense of impending doom is widely held, but Gaiman’s version of it is particularly eloquent. “I remember the 80s and the nuclear clock and the cold war and Russia and America and [thinking] ‘I hope you guys don’t press buttons and it would be very nice to not live in the shadow of everything ending’,” he says. “But at least at that point, what you were scared of was just one action. Now one is scared of the accretion of a million actions and a million inactions.”

He says there is “a strange kind of magical thinking” afoot and tells me about waking up the morning after Brexit in a hotel in Scotland and checking the result, then having “that sort of moment at the end of Planet of the Apes where Charlton Heston sees the Statue of Liberty ... I was going, ‘Oh, no. Are you really … ’” Gaiman has, in recent years, divided his time between the UK and the US, but he is not an American citizen and has fallen off the electoral roll in the UK, so he wasn’t able to vote in either the Brexit referendum or the US election. “I’m frustrated not being able to vote over here,” he says. “I’m like, well, I pay lots of taxes to the US and the UK, but I don’t want to become an American citizen. I like being English. I like being British. Even when I’m ashamed, I’m fascinated.” Indeed, he clearly is. He does a very good imitation of the cab drivers he encountered in London leading up to the Brexit vote, who seemed to believe that, ultimately, the thing they were about to do was of no consequence: “The EU’s not going to let us go ... ”. Regarding the Trump vote, he says: “At the end of the day, what I think was being voted for was change. People were saying ‘We’re fed up and we’re not being listened to’, and unfortunately that wasn’t being offered by the other side. The appeal of Bernie Sanders was he was standing up there saying ‘This thing is fucked’, and the problem with Hillary was she was standing up there and saying ‘Things are good, they’re getting better’.” Genuine worry furrows Gaiman’s brow, but he has plans to respond to current events. His following is huge, including 2.5 million people on Twitter and the millions who read his books and his blog and watch his

television shows. He intends to use that platform to highlight the plight of refugees. He hopes, too, to double down on his longstanding activism to promote freedom of speech. “I wrote an essay on my blog in 2009 called ‘Why Defend Freedom of Icky Speech?’,” he says, “Which just becomes more and more timely. I have a 14-month-old son, and a four-month-old grandson. I have no idea what kind of world they’re going to grow up in. I’m going to do my best with the time and the intellectual effort remaining to me to do whatever I can to give them a good world,” he says. Ragnarök, as Gaiman writes in Norse Mythology, is of course “the end” of something. “But there is also what will come after the end,” he adds. In his version the sun comes out. Something glitters in the grass. The gods’ children find a set of golden chess pieces waiting for them. They arrange them on a board, and then one of them makes a move. “And,” Gaiman concludes, “the game begins anew.”

Black Friars In the novel, the angel Islington tasks Door, Richard and their group to collect a key from the Black Friars in their dwelling. Illustration: Chris Riddell/Headline

The assassins Croup and Vandemar Neil Gaiman: ‘I describe them as being a little like a fox and a little like a wolf in the text.’ Chris Riddell: ‘Yes, that’s the dynamic – the small, cunning one – just as vicious – and the partner, the wolf, is the muscle.’ Illustration: Chris Riddell/Headline

About two years ago (2013) while having a household de-clutter I found an old cardboard folder in a box in my loft. This folder contained many poems I had written in the late 1970’s & 1980’s. Most were hand scribbled, some were type-written, yes I did say type-written! Also in this folder were notes for use in, or as, ‘possible and potential’ stories, old abandoned writings, half started tales, partial paragraphs and such like. It really was a rather eclectic combination of various scribblings. I was filled with personal wonderment as I read these sheets of yellowing paper. Here were my thoughts, my emotions, my ideas of a lifetime ago. Some of the writings and poetry I recalled instantly, others staggered out from the mists of amnesia. I was amused by some, horrified by others; the amateur nature, the naivety, the bad grammar and miss-spellings made me cringe. All however, transported me back to another time, another world, another life which was connected yet somehow detached from myself. It was partially like an out-of-body experience, but somehow more so while being less direct, less united. Possibly that is the effect of passing years? Bunched at the back of this folder was a wad of A4 sheets held together by a rusting paperclip. I started to read, it was an untitled story. A light hearted black comedy, if that is at all possible, of selfishness, of greed, impatience and latent curses. Despite the many changes, the crossing-out’s and the pencilled notes the story drew me in, as I read through small pinpricks of memory seeped back. This was a story, one of the few I had written at that time which had a beginning, middle and end. (Although throughout there were still many threadbare patches). You see, I first scribbled out a rough draft of a storyline in 1978, according the dates on the draft. This (first?) draft had no title and no end. In 1980 I reviewed and re-wrote it, apparently, (I found a few margin notes to confirm this), although I cannot recall doing so. This time is when I added the final few paragraphs so there was now an ending...of sorts. It was thirty five years later, after I became a professional writer and published author, I rediscovered this early work, first started when I was in my late teens. At first I simply returned it to the folder, the archives if you wish. But something was nagging at me. It was the fact this story was pretty good, it was something different, there was an originality about it. So, I pulled the manuscript from the dusty cardboard folder once more and began, letter by letter, word by word, to type it onto the computer, to re-write certain parts, to edit and eventually to complete the story. All the time I was doing the re-write I was conscious of not changing the basic story, not to expand or cut too much. I wanted, needed, to keep the piece as close to the original draft as possible, while making it readable. Once I was as happy as I was ever going to be I gave the work a title for the first time. I called it Miriam’s Hex. In November 2014, thirty six years from its conception, I published Miriam’s Hex as an eBook. Miriam’s Hex is a very long short story. A Novelette of twenty two pages. It is a story I would like you to read, not only because I am certain you will enjoy it, but because of this story, the story behind the book. I hope it will not only add a provenance to Miriam’s Hex, but will lend encouragement to all the writers amongst you who, at times, have doubts and worries about their own works and capabilities.

T HE T OP 20 F antasy W orlds These worlds are the most awesome, spectacular and entertaining fantasy worlds ever created; according to the 4.5k thousand voters on a recent survey. These fantasy worlds are not just derived from books, but from movies and fantasy games too. Voted in first place was...Middle-earth, the fictional setting of British writer J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. The term describes the humaninhabited world, the central continent of the Earth in Tolkien's imagined mythological past. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, take place entirely in Middle-earth.

Second came Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, shortened Hogwarts, is a fictional British school of magic for students aged eleven to eighteen, and is the primary setting for the first six books in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.

Third is Star Wars Universe. For over 35 years, the Expanded Universe has enriched the Star Wars experience for fans When he created Star Wars, George Lucas built a universe that sparked the imagination and inspired others to create. He opened up that universe to be a creative space for other people to tell their own tales. This became the Expanded Universe, or EU, of comics, novels, videogames, and more Forth place sees Narnia. Land of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which was written by C. S. Lewis and published in 1950. It presents the story of four ordinary children Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie - who find their way into the magical land of Narnia by way of a wardrobe that they stumble across stored in an old housewritten and published, but it comes second in chronological order.

Fifth is Westeros, one of the four known continents in the known world, the others being Essos, Sothoryos, and Ulthos. Most of the area of Westeros is covered by a political entity known as the Seven Kingdoms, while the far north beyond the Wall includes the free folk. The closest foreign nations to Westeros are the Free Cities, a collection of independent city-states across the narrow sea in western Essos.

Sixth comes Wonderland. Alice is a fictional character and protagonist of Lewis Carroll's children's novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass (1871). A mid-Victorian era child, Alice unintentionally goes on an underground adventure after accidentally falling down a rabbit hole into Wonderland; in the sequel, she steps through a mirror into the Looking-Glass Land.

Atlantis is in seventh,. A fictional island mentioned within an allegory on the hubris of nations in Plato's works Timaeus and Critias, where it represents the antagonist naval power that besieges "Ancient Athens", the pseudo-historic embodiment of Plato's ideal state,The Republic. In the story, Athens repels the Atlantean attack unlike any other nation of the (western) known world. At the end of the story, Atlantis eventually falls out of favour with the gods and submerges into the Atlantic Ocean.

In eighth place comes Neverland. Peter Pan is a character created by Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie. A free spirited and mischievous young boy who can fly and never grows up, Peter Pan spends his never-ending childhood having adventures on the mythical island of Neverland as the leader of the Lost Boys, interacting with fairies, pirates, mermaids, Native Americans, and occasionally ordinary children from the world outside Neverland

At number nine we find Oz. The fictional Land of Oz is a magical country first introduced in the classic children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). Oz consists of four vast quadrants, the North, South, East and West, each of which has its own ruler, sometimes a witch or sorcerer. However, the realm itself has always been ruled by one official dominant monarch, who represents the entire country as a whole.

Ten gives us the Star Trek Universe. Star Trek is an American science fiction media franchise based on the television series created by Gene Roddenberry. The first television series, simply called Star Trek and now referred to as The Original Series, debuted in 1966 and aired for three seasons on the television network NBC. It followed the interstellar adventures of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and his crew aboard the starship USS Enterprise, a space exploration vessel, built by the interstellar federal republic United Federation of Planets in the twenty-third century.

The Elder Scrolls v Skrym stands at number eleven. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It is the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls action role-playing video game series, following The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Skyrim was released on November 11, 2011, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Three downloadable content add-ons were released—Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn

At twelve is Asgard, a small planetary body that is home to the Norse. It exists in another dimensional plane. It is a flat, asteroidlike mass that has a top surface with a gravitational pull, similar to that of the Earth’s. The matter on Asgard is denser and more durable than matter on Earth. There is an unknown force which keeps the surfaces of Asgard from eroding and from allowing its bodies of water from drifting off into space Unlucky for some, sees Dune voted at thirteen. Set in the distant future amidst a feudal interstellar society in which noble houses, in control of individual planets, owe allegiance to the Padishah Emperor, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides, whose noble family accepts the stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis. This planet is the only source of the "spice" melange, the most important and valuable substance in the universe, control of Arrakis is a coveted—and dangerous—undertaking. The Whoniverse is at number fourteen, is non-narrative name given to the fictional setting of the television series Doctor Who,Torchwood,The Sarah Jane Adventures and Class as well as other related media. The word, a portmanteau of the words "Who" and "universe", has also been used to describe the show's production and fanbase

At fifteen sits Britannia, a strategy board game, first released and published in 1986 by Gibsons Games and recently updated in late 2008 produced by Fantasy Flight Games. It broadly depicts the wars in, and migrations to, the island of Great Britain in the centuries from the Roman invasions to the Norman Conquest. Doh, The Simpsons are at sixteen. Springfield is the fictional town in which the American animated sitcom The Simpsons is set. Springfield acts as a complete universe in which characters can explore the issues faced by modern society. The geography of the town and its surroundings is flexible, changing to address whatever an episode's plot calls for

Seventeen finds The Wheel of Time series written by Robert Jordan and completed posthumously by Brandon Sanderson, The Wheel of Time is one of the greatest epics of fantasy and a #1 internationally bestselling series. Taking place both in our past and our future, the saga tells the story of a man destined to face the Evil One and save the world—or destroy it in the process.

Discworld is at eighteen. Discworld is a comic fantasy book series written by the English author Terry Pratchett (1948–2015), set on the fictional Discworld, a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle, Great A'Tuin. The books frequently parody or take inspiration from J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, Charles Dickens, and William Shakespeare, as well as mythology, folklore and fairy tales, often using them for satirical parallels with current cultural, political, and scientific issues. The series is popular, with more than 80 million books sold in 37 languages

At a penultimate nineteen lays the Forgotten Realms is the name of a fantasy world setting, described as a world of strange lands, dangerous creatures, and mighty deities, where magic and supernatural phenomena are quite real. The premise is that, long ago, the Earth and the world of the Forgotten Realms were more closely connected. As time passed, the inhabitants of planet Earth have mostly forgotten about the existence of that other world – hence the term Forgotten Realms. On the original Forgotten Realms logo, which was used until 2000, small runic letters read "Herein lie the lost lands", an allusion to the connection between the two

Firefly is an American space western science fiction drama television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon, under his Mutant Enemy Productions label. Whedon served as an executive producer, along with Tim Minear. The series is set in the year 2517, after the arrival of humans in a new star system and follows the adventures of the renegade crew of Serenity, a "Firefly-class" spaceship. The ensemble cast portrays the nine characters who live on Serenity. Whedon pitched the show as "nine people looking into

See the top 100 worlds at

An Exclusive Character Interview with Becky aka Thya, from Karina Kantas’s

Illusional Reality 1) Becky, back before, when you were a marketing executive, did you feel like there was something off with your world? Nay, although we partake in war and murders, there are many strange and evil people. Regrettably, this is the norm. I had not notion that Tsinia existed. I was adopted and I loved my adopted parents greatly and I did not search for my birth mother. Now I know I would never have located her.

When Salco rescued you, what was your first reaction to him? *smiles* Salco has a gentle temperate as do most of my kinsmen. He has intelligent eyes. I did not deliberate. I was frightened and this stranger was prepared to aid me. I trusted him wholeheartedly.

3) The people of your land are trying to forget the destruction at bay. What types of things did they do to feed this delusion to themselves? They knew that conclusion was close but they had not sadness or fear as the prophesy spoke of a Ganty that would deliver them and save them. *shakes head*

4) When you learned that you were to be betrothed to Darthorn’s son, how did it make you feel? This is on the surface, before you knew everything. *laughs sarcastically* Ha! How would you have reacted? I was just informed of who I was, where I originated and how superior my parents were. I did not knowledge of this Kovon & Darthorn and the Darkeye. Yet to be told that my future had been mapped out and I was to wed Kovon, was enough. Not one will ever command me.

5) Why is the counsel of Tsinia so certain that a union between you and Kovon will create peace? The Tsinians have existed by the codes and Oracle’s so when my coming was prophesied, they were uncertain how I would aid them. So it was the council that formed the absurd contract with Darthorn. They were convinced this was the true path.

6) Do you ever miss being plain old marketing exec Becky? If so, what you miss about it? Life was simple, worries and stress were naught compared to

my reality. What I miss the most is the laughter of children. *head bows down to the floor* 7) We all tell little white lies. What’s the best (or worst) little white lie you told? *Head comes up, big smile * Too many on earth. *looks sad again* If you are hiding the truth from someone so it will not hurt them and remove their faith, is that a black or a white lie? That is the lie that will remain a secret. 8) Let’s be girls and talk clothes for minutes. Which outfit do you prefer: Becky the professional, or Becky from the magical world, the fiancée of Kovon? *Thya splutters in her water glass and coughs* Fiancé to Kovon! *mysterious wind blows here hair*I was never his fiancé and I command you not to mention his name again or this interview will be concluded. *becomes relaxed again and breathes deeply * Yes. I prefer the garments in Tsinia. They are cool, flowing and elegant. The Tsinians dress in basic sensible but somewhat dull attire, save there is a feast or celebration then you will see my Kinsmen in their finery. 9) In your magical world, your reality, do you have an official title? My title is Princess Thya, ruler of Tsinia, guardian of the changelings. My Kinsmen address me as Lady or Thya.

10) So, I understand that there is a mystery man who you have a certain… fondness for. Without giving too much away, can you tell us what you find attractive in him? Where do you get your information from? Although tis not a secret * tears well in eyes* he is kind, with haunting blue eyes and his smile so tender and sweet. He understood me more than any other. He was commanding and bossy at times but all with good reason. We will conclude. Pardon, Do you have a tissue?

Praise for Illusional Reality. ‘The journey this character takes is unique in its own right if I was in the movie bizz, this would be one I’d option in a heartbeat! ‘What a delightfully touching love story! The author entwined our world with a fantasy one with action, magic and of course, love.’ ‘This enchanting world mesmerized me and I really enjoyed reading this amazing story.’ ‘It is unlike any other I have ever read and I was instantly drawn into the world of this book from the very start.’

You can read more reviews and learn about the magical fantasy here.

ARE YOU READY TO STEP OUT OF REALITY AND INTO AN ILLUSION? Amazon Worldwide: Buy direct from the author at half price:

SPECTRUM Our Mission To promote the fantastic arts and provide an annual showcase for contemporary artists.

Believing that there was a tremendous amount of high-quality fantastic-themed art work created each year that somehow wasn't being represented in other annual art books and shows, Spectrum was established in 1993 by Cathy Fenner and Arnie Fenner with the intent of providing creators with a regular showcase for the best fantasy, science fiction, horror, and otherwise uncategorizable artwork created each year. A Call For Entries went out to the arts community and the response was overwhelmingly positive. A blueribbon jury convened to make selections from the work submitted and the results appeared in the first full color book, Spectrum 1, published by Underwood Books in 1994. A new instalment in the Spectrum series has appeared every year since. Unique in its concept, significant in its content, beautifully direct in its execution, Spectrum is designed for readers who want to satisfy their sense of wonder while simultaneously serving as an invaluable resource for art directors, art buyers, and artists from all walks and sensibilities. The focus isn't the only characteristic that sets it apart from other art annuals: Spectrum was the first to specifically feature categories devoted to 3D, comics, and unpublished works. Likewise, Spectrum was the first book to significantly cut the time between the jury's selection and the appearance of the annual. Spectrum appears within eight months of our jury's selection. Spectrum is open to every artist who wishes to participate and can adhere to the competition's rules: international entrants are welcome. Students, fine

artists, and illustrators are all treated equally. There are no limits on the number of pieces an artist can submit and there is no pre-screening prior to judging. The press run for Spectrum matches or significantly exceeds the circulations of the other art annuals/ source books published each year. Spectrum is sold in the mass market through all the major bookstores. Copies are also sent to many art directors and publishers to maximize exposure for the artists featured in the book. More eyes means more opportunities. As an international resource, participants report receiving commissions for work from clients from around the globe who have cited Spectrum as their contact source. Spectrum doesn't exist to categorize or define fantastic art; rather, it exists to honor the imaginations of very special artists who delight in helping us see the world in a wonderfully different light. It's our job to help them reach a wider appreciative audience. Arnie and Cathy Fenner, who for twenty years had spearheaded the ongoing Spectrum annual publications, announced at the second "Spectrum Fantastic Art Live" event in May 2013 the transition of the book to a new director, editor and publisher. Beginning with Spectrum 21, John Fleskes of Flesk Publications will assume those responsibilities. Spectrum will continue to evolve and improve with each volume. Many frequently asked questions are answered on the FAQ page, but feel free to contact us if you have a topic we haven't addressed.

The Spectrum Team

John Fleskes - Director John Fleskes is the president and publisher of Flesk Publications. As a longtime admirer of a wide spectrum of artists' works, he felt their creators had slipped into obscurity, or lacked the means to gain exposure. In answer to this dilemma, he founded Flesk Publications in 2002. He has published close to sixty books to date. John has contributed to numerous books as writer, editor and designer and serves as the director of the annual showcase "Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art." In his spare time, John enjoys spending time at the seaside, surfing and photography. Cathy & Arnie Fenner — Directors 1993–2013 In 1993 Cathy and Arnie combined both their personal and professional interests in the fantastic arts to form Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art—but that has not been the limit of their celebration of the field. They have written, designed, and edited a series of titles devoted to the works of Frank Frazetta, Jeffrey Jones, Jon Foster, Robert E. McGinnis, John Jude Palencar, Dave Stevens, and many others that have been published by Underwood Books. The Fenners have also co-curated (with Irene Gallo and Gregory Manchess) two Spectrum exhibits at the Museum of American Illustration in New York City and have sponsored numerous student scholarships for aspiring artists. Together they've received ten Locus Awards and been nominated for the Hugo Award. Cathy and Arnie are constantly thinking of ways to expand the public's awareness of and appreciation for the fantastic arts and the people who create it; they're currently working on a new book about the history of the field. In addition, they are the head organizers of

Michael E. Dellert lives in the

two decades, he now works as a fre er, editor, and pu

Michael holds a Master’s Degree in

He is the author of two fantasy fic venture-romance, The Romance

Michael also enjoys swimming, hiki tor and swimming coach for the you

https://www. Blog:



e Greater New York City area. Following a traditional publishing career spanning nearly

eelance writer, editor, publishing consultant, and writing coach. He is also the sole writublisher of the blog MDellertDotCom: Adventures in Indie Publishing.

n English Language & Literature from Drew University, and a certificate from the Cornell University School of Criticism & Theory (2009).

ction novellas: Hedge King in Winter and A Merchant's Tale, the full-length fantasy ade of Eowain, and his newest full-length heroic fantasy novel, The Wedding of Eithne.

ing, the theatre, literary readings, and movies, and volunteers as a water safety instrucung and young-at-heart. He has two intelligent and independent daughters, and lives in the Greater New York City Area.

Amazon: Goodreads: MDellert-Dot-Com: Adventures in Indie Publishing:

Twitter: @MDellertDotCom:

k: Michael Dellert, Writer, Editor, Publishing Consultant:

The Matter of Manred Continues… With the day of her arranged wedding fast approaching, will the Lady Eithne agree to marry King Eowain? What sinister forces have gathered to oppose the happy day? And what interest do the mysterious drymyn-priests and their dark, forgetful Gods have in such a mundane matter as love? Now, after a harrowing journey to the most sacred place in the Five Kingdoms, the mysterious priests and priestesses of the powerful Drymyn Order have pronounced the omens favorable, and her wedding to King Eowain of Droma has been arranged. Eithne has the right to accept—or reject—her suitor. But how can she prove she has the freedom to choose if she doesn’t choose, “No”? How can she know for herself that her will is truly her own if she consents? Extract Eithne’s face broke the foaming surface of the lustral spring waters for a moment. She gasped for breath. The current rushed through the center of the outer hall and plunged down from the hill on its stony course into the valley below. She tumbled with the cataract over the precipice. Her leg and arm banged against one wall of the stone channel, her back buffeted against rough bricks. Foaming spume filled her nostrils, stung at her eyes. Then water closed once more over her head. Her feet hit the soft muddy bottom. She flexed her knees and pushed off, up, toward the surface and the air. The sodden blue robes and linen gown dragged at her. She broke surface and gasped. The sun lingered behind mountainous walls around the Vale. Dawn? Dusk?

The sodden robes pulled her down. The pool was deep enough to drown her. The waterfall of spring water at her back splashed into the pool. The waters run down the south side of the hill, she recalled. The sun was to her right. To the west. Dusk, then. Above on the hill, she heard shouts over the racket of the cascade. They’re coming for me. She kicked hard for the soft bank of reeds that surrounded the pool and dragged herself from the waters. She shed the blue priestess-robe and ran out into the fields that rolled down toward the village and the fairgrounds. Men, hooded with the heads of bears and wolves, bounded down the hill.

The following pages show some of Oreo’s, Tina Modugno’s illustrations

Oreo & Tina Modugno Meet Oreo, a fluffy, curious tuxedo cat from Canada.

He loves to steal fresh bread and to steal his human's spot in the bed. Oreo is very curious and loves to discover new things! He loves going for walks outside, playing with his toys and helping his human with dinner. He especially loves helping her to eat dinner! Oreo is also said to be a fantastic dancer! In addition to his simple kitty life, The Oreo Cat is a firm supporter of The Paw Project and the anti-declawing movement. He and his human do their best to help educate kids and parents about the inhumane practice of declawing and its humane alternatives. Oreo's human, Tina Modugno is an author and illustrator and has published many books including some about Oreo! Together the two have visited elementary schools in and around their City of Montreal Quebec, to speak out against declawing, teach kids about responsible pet ownership and talk to kids about bullying and Cyber bullying.

These are both rather large mandates for a cat, but Oreo and Tina know that even one person can sometimes help to change the world.

To contact Tina & Oreo:

Unikitty The fuzzles and wuzzles met today for tea And to their surprise they saw a Unikitty He wandered into their party looking for nip Into which his four fluffy paws he could dip.

Tooth Fairy Castle Medium: Vector illustration using Adobe Illustrator. Artist: Tina Modugno Website:

Strawberry ShortFluff The small ones are squishy The big ones are sour I could gulp down a million In less than an hour You can use them for shortcake Or piled high on a tart Slathered in cream Like a true work of art They make me so merry As I much and I chew

A strawberry for me And a strawberry for you!

Queen of The Ocean Medium: Illustration using Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator. Artist: Tina Modugno Website:

Fantasycon 2017 Fantasycon 2017 - 29th

September - 1st October.

The Bull Hotel Peterborough, UK

Every year Fantasycon offers readers and writers the opportunity to come together to disco shops and socialising. Bringing together the best in writing, publishing and reading.

Fantasycon prides itself on its friendly members. Every year we welcome hundreds of first tim opportunity to network in the bar. For more details about the activities please see the Activities Overview page

To clarify the booking options:

To attend the event you need to purchase Fantasycon 2017 Membership. This is a sliding sca and when you book. Prices will go up about a month or so before the event and buying a me

You can also book rooms at the convention hotel on this site, this rate will remain constant, b the convention. Booking rooms via our site if you are not planning to attend the event will res

For convenience, you can also buy Membership of the BFS in the same transaction. This (alo This item does not include entry to the convention if bought on its own.

If you want to sell/promote a product or company then you can see a number of options on o All purchases from our site have a non-refundable booking fee. This is primarily to cover the outlined on each item in the shop.

If you would like to pay using a different method or are having trouble booking please do con

Fantasycon is an essential annual destination for readers, writers, artists, editors, and publishers of all things Fantasy, Horror and Science

over, learn and discuss fantastic fiction in all its forms. Three days of panels, talks, work-

mers. But you are only a first timer once. Come along, meet like minded people and get the

ale of costs depending on whether you are a member of the BFS, adult/student/child prices embership on the day will be more expensive again.

but obviously is limited in numbers. Booking rooms at the hotel does not give you entry to sult in us cancelling your room booking.

ong with other benefits) allows you a discount when purchasing Fantasycon Membership.

our dealers page. There are also sponsorship options if you would really like to be noticed. card charges that the payment website charges us for your transaction. These costs are

ntact us via email


C L SCHNEIDER Fantasy Author

Being a fantasy author, it’s no surprise that I have a passion for all things fantastical. The idea of moulding the unbelievable into the plausible, of taking my thoughts and daydreams and turning them into a reality that’s believable enough for someone else to get lost in—what’s not to love about that? The genre itself speaks of potential and opportunity. It encourages imagination and the freedom to let your mind wander in directions it might not otherwise take—without real life judgment or opinions. Following along with the trials and triumphs of varied fictional races, living through their experiences with friendship and hate, prejudice and conflict, societal and religious differences, can allow us to see the same issues that plague our world in a new light; potentially challenging our own imaginations and preconceptions. Yet, no matter how dark a story gets, there’s a certain amount of romanticism and hope surrounding events that take place in impossible worlds filled with impossible creatures. I couldn’t imagine ever running out of ideas. There is no limit but my own imagination. I can trace my chosen writing path back to a single

book, but my interest in fantasy started long before I’d committed to the genre. Since early childhood, I’ve had an inexplicable fascination with all things medieval, mystical, sci-fi, and supernatural. In games of pretend, I was never the princess. I was the spy, the superhero, the explorer, the detective, the scientist, the monster, or the cowboy. I loved being able to slip away into an imaginary world that was much larger (and more exciting) than my little home town. By high school, my fascination had grown. I was captivated by the legend of King Arthur and read multiple incarnations of the story. I was also reading a fair amount of horror, paranormal, and historical fiction at that point, but it wasn’t until the end of high school when I had my first taste of true epic fantasy. My brother gave me a copy of The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and I fell in love. That book sparked something in me like no other had before. I’d been writing for years, but it was The Mists of Avalon drew me to commit to the fantasy genre. Years later, when I began writing The Crown of Stones: Magic-Price (my first published novel), there were two elements that were clear to me.

R Before I’d written a single word, I knew the basis for my magic system and the essence of my protagonist. I didn’t just want a hero. I wanted a hero that was flawed in every possible way. One that could stumble, yet grow and evolve as the trilogy did. Personally, I find flawed characters compelling. Characters that never make a mistake and always save the day without any real consequences are not very interesting to read. If there’s no risk involved, it limits

creating Ian, I set out to pay homage to some of the flawed characters I fell in love with back then. I wanted Ian to walk in two worlds, to be both good and bad, a cowboy and an outlaw, a hero and a monster; valiant yet broken, vulnerable enough to suffer, yet resilient and courageous enough to fight the odds. I wanted a tortured soul, a true anti-hero whose greatest strength—magic—was also his greatest weakness.

I find flawed characters compelling. Characters that never make a mistake and always save the day without any real consequences are not very interesting to read. the range of emotions in your character and your reader. Less emotion creates less tension, and less of a reason to keep reading. Magic-Price (and The Crown of Stones Trilogy) was inspired almost entirely by my creation of my protagonist, Ian Troy. I was a huge reader growing up. I was lucky enough to have access to a wide variety of genres and spent many hours losing myself in the overflowing bookshelves in my parent’s home. In

As Ian’s character become more complex, the story developed around him. My other inspiration was a chunk of amethyst that had been sitting on my bookshelf for years. I’d always wanted to write a story about a deadly magic hidden inside the stone. I knew a little about new age magic and crystal healing, and liked the idea of Ian being able to tap into and manipulate the energy inside a stone.

I had a working title then: The Amethyst Crown. Once I started my research and learned more about the variety of stones and their uses, I saw a gold mine of ideas. I realized I didn’t want to limit Ian to one stone

Yet, I’m not done with the characters or the world I created for the trilogy. Both have many more stories left to tell. Who might return? I can’t say. That would give too much away to anyone who hasn’t read the

I’ve put these poor characters through a lot. I think anyone who is left standing deserves a bit of a rest! and one kind of magic. From the development of my magic system, the storyline evolved. Suddenly Ian’s entire race (the Shinree) were born and addicted to the magic within the stones. The crown itself grew from one stone to nine, and the title had changed. Every stone and every spell in the trilogy can be traced back to the concepts of metaphysical health and crystal healing. Once I had my research, I tweaked, expanded, or flip-flopped a stone’s modern day new age usage to fit the needs of the type of magic-user wielding it in my story. That way, the same stone used by a Shinree healer to fix a body would have far different outcome than in the hands of a soldier like Ian, and a different result altogether in the hands of an oracle. The Crown of Stones is a stand-alone trilogy. The story of Ian and his connection to the crown has been told.

books. But whether it’s in the form of a prequel, a short story, or an entirely new trilogy, you can expect something else from the world Mirra’kelan. It may be a while, though. I’ve put these poor characters through a lot. I think anyone who is left standing deserves a bit of a rest!

Website Crown of Stones

In T wo Minds by

Paul White

Paul White has released his latest work as a strictly limited edition GiclĂŠe canvass portrait.

In Two Minds portrays the anxiety and uncertainties felt when face with personal emotive issues. Printed with high quality GiclĂŠe inks on premium, hand stretched canvas, using wooden frames from sustainable sources, a truly stunning result has been achieved. Each print measures 50 x 50cm (20 x 20 inches) and is supplied with fixtures and hanging instructions.

In Two Minds will stimulate conversation at home or in the office. It makes a wonderful, well received and thoughtful gift. We can deliver to almost anywhere in the world.

Order your copy today.

In T wo Minds

World Fantasy Convention℠2017 San Antonio, TX November 2 – 5, 2017 Wyndham Riverwalk The first World Fantasy Convention (WFC) was held in 1975 in Providence, Rhode Island (see retrospective of WFC) and it has continued as an annual gathering and reunion of professionals, collectors, and others interested in the field of light and dark fantasy art and literature. The convention is generally held on one of the two weekends bracketing Halloween, with some light earlybird programming usually beginning Thursday evening and the convention generally concluding Sunday afternoon, usually shortly after the World Fantasy Award Banquet. The awards banquet is a culminating highlight of the convention, offering awards ranging from lifetime achievement, to various aspects of art and literature. Additional highlights include an autograph reception, and often some sort of reception honouring the arts. Individual conventions often use programming and special events to highlight the themes of the convention and local flavour. The World Fantasy Awards Administration and the Board of the World Fantasy Convention are delighted to announce that a new design has been chosen for the World Fantasy Award after a year-long public competition, which attracted a great many artists of extremely high calibre.

It was a tough choice: The Awards Administration received a lot of entries, and at least half a dozen designs which would have made wonderful Award statuettes. However, by unanimous decision of the Administration, we have selected the model produced by award-winning sculptor and artist Vincent Villafranca ( ). The sculptor will be attending the 2017 WFC in San Antonio, Texas, where the awards will be presented for the first time.

H ALFWAY U P A M OUNTAIN Our regular columnist Dorothy Berry-Lound reports from Umbria, Italy. the hottest June months on record, we are in drought with restricted water use. No longer can we water our gardens, wash down patios, wash cars etc. And there is no sign of rain in the near future. The Effects of Drought Locally

Summer in Central Italy Summer is here, heat, late evenings, siestas, local festivals and biting insects (not necessarily all connected)! Did I mention heat?

Fantasies About Rain The main fantasy, or rather preoccupation, here in Italy as I write is that it will rain. Please. After a very dry, warmer than usual winter we went into an unusually dry spring. I mentioned this in my last column. This has set us up for problems as now in the middle of summer, having had one of

For many people, after several years of poor olive production owing to olive fly infestation, this year olives are likely to be poor as the flowers withered on the trees in the heat. Ours are dreadful and I don’t think we will be picking in the autumn as there is not enough to take to the mill! Our fruit trees were full of fruit that had no flesh or sweetness without the rain needed to make them swell. The only ones who could eat them were the wild boar who kept the ground under the trees clean for us. The main concern in the whole of Italy, not just locally, is the fire risk. The land is tinder dry and there have been several outbreaks of wild fires.

One was the other side of the lake to us and we could see the fire planes working, taking water from the lake and dumping it on the fire. More recently we could smell smoke and there was a large fire in the area of Mont Amiata in Tuscany, 60km away but the smoke reached us. The sky turned dark, cue another rain fantasy, but this was just the effect of the smoke.

Umbria Jazz and Trasimeno Blues Summer is festa time, with lots of local events, music and fireworks. Recently I attended the Monte Cetona Classic Car Rally in Tuscany, an annual event and great fun. We chose to wait for the cars in Cetona, which was a stop-over during the rally. It was something close to chaos when they all arrived and parked in the main piazza but it was great fun too. I waited outside the town to take photographs as they left on the next leg of the rally and the car occupants were screaming and waving and tooting their horns. I could hardly click the shutter for laughing. Throughout July and August, Umbria is full of music. The internationally renowned

Umbria Jazz Festival takes up the first part of July. Wonderful concerts by jazz artists from all over the world, something for everyone, including street jazz during the day in the middle of Perugia, the capital of Umbria. The jazz is followed in late July and into early August by the Trasimeno Blues Festival. This means late evenings sitting under the beautiful starlit sky listening to fabulous music at various venues around Lago Trasimeno. As all the wonderful festivals come to an end, here’s hoping for some serious, steady rain soon‌ but now I am fantasising again.

Dorothy Berry-Lound is an award winning artist and writer/blogger. You can follow Dorothy’s blog and her latest art work at her website

Novacon is the UK's longest-established regional science fiction convention, held every autumn since 1971. It's built around a single-stream programme mixing both literary items and more informal events, with deliberate emphasis on social contact between sf fans and genre professionals.

Novacon follows a long tradition of SF conventions held in the UK since the late 1930s. Back in those days it was a proud and lonely thing to be an SF fan and the main source of their interest was the written word.

So at Novacon you probably won't find people dressed up as a Dalek or Darth Vader but you will find: • SF authors, many of whom have come up through the ranks of SF fandom. • A dealers room where you can find a wide selection of new fiction, second hand books and collectable books, books about sf and even graphic novels. • A bar filled with like minded people happy to chat for hours about anything under the sun even Science Fiction. • Serious science talks from professionals who know what they are talking about.

An Art Show featuring original work by both professional and amateur artists. Many of the works shown are available to buy.

BLAZE—CONTINUED from page 19 Justin, on his side, was having his own tribulations. He has devoted his time to read and learn fate-lines and his own was the most thoroughly searched. Though the research he’s done and the ancient wisdom was telling that once connected, fate-threads would never break, life had always been a hard play-ground. The complexity of the Universe along with the contradictory nature of humans made almost everything uncertain and challenging. Reality was a castle of mirrors and shifting grounds and the two of them, just like so many others, got lost, oh so many times…. Something was telling him that this sudden happiness, this happy twist of events might be just as illusory. He shuddered to the thought of losing his love again. With an impatient move, he pulled out the charts from his desk and scattered them over his desk. He was determined to find the next booby-trap before it opened under his feet… It is believed on this small but marvelous, whitespecked blue bead of a planet, that if a butterfly flaps its wings at a certain moment, it would trigger a tempest on the opposite side of the world. On a celestial scale, the butterflies of the Universe, stars, galaxies, clusters are constantly leaving their cocoons of fire-dust and flap their wings of beauty and magic in the vastness of Space and Time. Each such flapping can trigger a tidal wave that would wash away everything that gets in its way. And right now, a mischievous star-butterfly was about to make a sudden move… The lively, invisible river of fate was following its course, oblivious about what lies dormant ahead… In his room, Justin grew more and more aware that the key of the mystery is somewhere in front of him. From the previous talking with Carrie, they managed to sort out that there was a common memory surfacing that Friday, one that might become the turning stone of their future. Justin opened a drawer, searching through the items….and then, he got it! The bracelet made of braided leather stripes, adorned with turquoise and lilac-blue glass-beads, a Native bracelet…He held it in his palms, wondering…

Carrie was equally restless. She had already dismissed any second thought about her relationship with Justin. Whatever this enchantment was, it was worth fighting for. “How do you know?” asked her friend, utterly surprised by the depth and strength of Carries feelings towards a young man so recently entered in her life. “I know. Just like this. And I don’t need to scientifically dissect my feelings… I know how and what I feel. It’s… inside, a magnetic pull, a seed of…magic, if I may say so. Don’t grin, Margo; I haven’t lost my mind. If I think deeper, I’d say that I’ve never been so sure and determined about what I feel and what I want then now.” Carrie shook her head; the air around her felt sticky this late afternoon, like a hidden menace was hanging from above. She picked up the phone and dialed Justin’s number. She felt relieved hearing him; there was excitement in his voice as he took the call. -Hey, do you read my mind? I was about to call you. I think I found something…Could you come here? In the depth of the Universe, the cocoon of a butterfly cracked, sending waves through the Space-Time fabric and the River of Time took the hit, jumping unexpectedly over the sudden obstacle. Inside its flow, the delicate threads scattered, collided, coiled in confusion. The glowing pair found itself stretched and pushed towards and unseen direction….

In the clear summer day, lightning split the sky, followed closely by the deafening roar of the thunder…Communication broke and the line went dead. Carrie’s heart dropped; she jumped from her sit, grabbed the keys and left the house in a hurry. Something was terribly wrong; she knew it… Moments before, Reality caved in under Justin’s feet and the bracelet fell on the floor…It’s where Carrie found it; charts, calculi and instruments lied scattered on his desk but Justin was nowhere to be found. “Oh, gods…. What are you doing to us?” Carrie swallowed hard to get rid of the lump in her throat; there was no room for panic. She picked up the bracelet…the glass beads were shimmering in the dim light and they still felt warm.

She closed her fist over them for a moment and then bent over the papers filled with complicated lines and connections. Luckily, Justin had explained her previously some of the basics of his fate-line research so she could at least comprehend some of his conclusions. On one of the maps she found a place marked with red; it was a sacred area in a Native reservation. It held a beautiful valley and a steep waterfall. Watching it closely, it felt familiar in a very peculiar way. It felt…home, though she’d never been around that place, as much as she could remember. But through the perspective opened by the recent events of her life, taking on account Justin’s urge for her to come, the bracelet on the floor and her love and total trust in Justin, she made a quick decision. She grabbed the charts and rushed home; she had a long trip ahead… The bracelet was softly glowing in her pocket. Margo was in shock, listening to Carrie’s story and planning, so she protested vigorously, trying to bring her back to her senses. -For God’s sake girl! What’s in your mind? Leaving all behind and go into the wilderness to find what?! -What do you expect me to do? Sit here and wait for what? He’s disappeared without a trace while we were on the phone… I had this nagging feeling that things were too beautiful to be true…I will not stay here, while he might be lost God know where…. Not anymore! Margo raised an eyebrow. -What do you mean by that? You said that you have never met this guy before… -Yes, it’s true; I didn’t. Not in this life. Not the Carrie you see…But there’s a chain of events throughout Time that connects the two of us. We were meant to meet…now and many other times before. But only now I came to realize that he was the one I was always searching for, my kin-spirit…The moment we faced each other, a whole new perspective opened before my eyes and thoughts and emotions just kept flowing between us without words. There is a point in our common history when we drifted apart and he was searching for that when something happened. I

cannot think of anything better than to go to that place he marked on the map and…

-And what, girl? What if you won’t find him or anything helpful? Carrie sighed. -I must try…I have this gut feeling that the answer is there. His voice was so excited…I won’t desert him, no matter how crazy it may sound. Please, try to understand me. She smiled encouragingly, hoping to ease Margo’s anxiety. -Hey…You wouldn’t let down Robert either, would you? Margo shook her head thoughtfully. -No, I wouldn’t. But I would fill a missing report first… -And say what? That my boyfriend evaporated while we were speaking? What do you think they would say? Margo gave up arguing. -Ok, ok…I get it; nothing will stop you. So, when you leave? -This week-end. I still have some things to sort out. I hate to leave you with all the work in the shop but I hope that Robert’s sister will help you. She’s a nice girl and I saw she likes both you and the shop. -What about Ginger? Can I take him home? I’d hate to know him here, all alone… Carrie embraced Margo. -I’m indebted to you, girl. Love you, don’t forget that. I know Ginger will be happy with you and Robert. Tomcats seem to get along well with boyfriends… They both laughed. After Margo left, Carrie returned to her plans. Getting into a reservation wasn’t an easy thing. She booked a tour through the Reservation, hoping to further sort out things on the premises. It was a place of breathtaking beauty. It was Heaven on Earth, a place protected by high mountain walls, with dense, ancient forests and crystal-clear sources running towards a feisty river.

he organized tour brought them around certain spots revealing the life-style of those who for so long had lived in total harmony with their revered Mother, the ever-giving Nature.By now, Carrie knew that she had only three days to find the place indicated by Justin on his map. The young woman followed the group on their first day of the trip, meticulously noticing every aspect of the terrain that might become helpful later. She kept comparing the two maps: the one they got from their tour guide with the one she brought from her love. It was a relief that they were camping for the night in a place close enough from where she wanted to go. The only bothersome aspect was revealed by the comparison between the maps; she couldn’t find the valley on the recent map. “Well-she thought-Time has altered this place but I’ll found that valley… I’ll find it! I’ll find you! Oh, Justin… where are you? If only you could give me a sign…” She felt something warming inside her shirt-pocket. She took it out and for a moment, her eyes filled with tears. The bracelet was glowing faintly in her palms. Justin has just sent her a sign. In the mountains, night is an early visitor. The afterglow of the sun danced a short while on the rugged rocky tops and then went out, leaving place to the ink-blue evening. Stars lit up one by one, glittering, shimmering blinking, sizzling on the high canopy, gathering in bright clusters or coiling constellations. It was a moon-less night so Carrie had all the chances to skip off without being spotted. It was way after midnight when she managed to leave

the camp. Guided only by the lights above, a small torch-light and her heart, she kept marching, hoping to get far enough before anybody would notice her missing. The track was difficult to follow and after a few hours, she reached an almost impenetrable area. It the darkness it was difficult to discern what was in her way and the new map showed nothing on that place. Carrie decided to take a rest; she took out the bracelet, looking for some support in her quest. The bracelet kept softly glowing…she squeezed it. “Justin…”-she whispered. She stood up and took a few steps forward. She woke up to a slight, tingling sensation. She tried to move but a sharp pain in her skull stopped her from continuing. -Good morning, child. The voice was low and feminine.

-You’re safe. I’m a friend… Carrie opened her eyes and saw an elderly woman smiling at her. She had a gentle, compassionate air, soothing for the soul. Suddenly, Carrie felt light and relieved from any anxiety. She stood up and her pain vanished. -Good morning-she said. I can’t remember what happened…. – Last night you slipped on your way and banged your head. I brought you in. Carrie sighed.

-Where are we? -she asked. -I have a feeling that we are just where you wanted to be and that this bracelet I’ve picked up from the bushes might be yours. The girl reached out for the bracelet and held it close. -Oh… The elderly woman tilted her head. -Maybe you’d like to tell me what were you doing on your own, deep in the wilderness, in the darkest night of the year? The voice was so comforting that Carrie found no difficulty in telling this total stranger the whole story that brought her here. The woman listened carefully and just asked her a few short questions from time to time, helping even more the unfolding of this so unusual flow of events. At the end of the story, she seemed deep in thought. She put some food on the table, inviting the young woman to eat, while she put a kettle on the stove with some water to boil. -So, you’re determined to follow your way and find this young man. This is a big decision, one that might change the flow of your entire fate. Let me ask you: how do you know that he is the one? Carrie smiled. -My friend, Margo asked me the same at home. I KNOW. It’s simple as that. From the first time we met, he was like an open book for me. Our minds, our souls connected almost instantly. I know him like I know myself. Every breath he takes, he’s breathing it through me; every beat of my heart echoes his heartbeats. What other proof do I need? The woman approved with a nod and said. -None. I knew it but I wanted to be sure that you’re fully aware of the fate you both share. Eat now and rest. I must make some preparations for tonight. When the Moon will be up high, the road to the Hidden Valley will become visible for a few hours. You and me, we must be ready till then. Night fell once again over the land and the Moon took its place on the top of the skies, showering bright droplets of light, changing the features of the world

below. The Hidden Valley slowly emerged, the pathway leading towards glowing in bluish light. The elderly woman gently pushed the young one forward. -Go, Carrie, go… Follow your heart. The girl took a few bold steps and crossed the magic line separating realities. The valley was basking in sunlight. People were busy around, moving, working, chatting, laughing…youth and elderly ones, joyful children, stern men and graceful women were following their daily routine with ease and grace. Though Carrie was watching them with eyes wide open in amazement, the others seemed oblivious of her awe…or they were just politely discreet. She stood there for a while, breathing in the spicy scents and the sunny feeling of life…then she started to look for a tent, one with a Blue Star depicted on its top. It wasn’t that far and she sped up. She almost reached the place when her ears caught the sound of a strolling horse. She turned to the source of the sound and froze… He was standing right before her eyes, tall and erect on his horse, with that serious look on his face. Their eyes met but he didn’t seem to recognize her; he kept gazing deep in her eyes, without a twitch on his face. Despair and sudden disappointment washed through Carrie but she swallowed it. She took a deep breath, tightening her fist over the bracelet and approached the young man. She gently touched the horse’s neck, lifted her face and smiled. -Hello, Justin…. The cocoon of stardust cracked open and the starbutterfly took flight, filling Space with sparkles of fire and magic. Deep down on the tiny, blue planet Reality wavered and shifted. Justin and Carrie were standing hand in hand, facing the radiating waterfall of light. They looked at each other smiling and stepped through the spraying blaze. The Phoenix of Love ignited and spread its wings of flame. The two threads, eternally connected joined the flow of Time with a new inner power and light, never to be separated again….


Dancing Around the Fire by C.A. Keith Sarah strolled towards the beach in her flowy summer dress and sandals. Her toes grazed the across the sand with each step. She came upon a glowing fire on the beach. Sarah gazed at a bunch of women merrily singing and dancing wildly encircling the fire. It was a cool fall night and the full moon apparent when the delirious and hysterical women appeared. Their garments were scant and the tears in their clothes hung obscenely. The women’s chants were like cries of a frenzied wolf. The women paced and they wildly danced while the terrified others watched wide-eyed. A scent lingered in the air. It was erotic. I looked beyond the hazy path and saw a woman. Her eyes were glowing, almost glaring, searching. What was she searching for? The woman reeled and giggled in delight. Tonight, was the night she had no cares, no ties, she was completely free. There was desire in her eyes. She wasn’t herself tonight. She was anybody and nobody and she did anything and everything. Morning quickly passed as the woman lie sprawled across the dust covered streets. She awoke refreshed, revitalized and satisfied. With a shrill laugh, she vanished into the dawn. Sarah’s eyes opened and closed. She wanted to continue the crazy dream she felt she was part of. Her eyes were heavy and she wasn’t ready to wake up. Sarah felt like she just got to sleep and was too exhausted to stir. So, she let sleep take her again. It was a cool fall night and the full moon seemed to glow on top of them. The women danced along the water's edge. Their breath tainted with alcohol. Sarah’s eyes were empty and her ears did not hear. She felt alone, empty, incoherent. She felt lost. Before her was a man. He took the woman’s hand and he placed it on his bare chest. His heart was racing. He was looking beyond her pain. His dark hair lightly

tousled by the tropical breeze. He moved forward and his lips met hers. She was hungry for warm arms and gentle kisses. Instead, she feasted like a frenzied wolf. The warmth of his arms was what she needed. She kissed harder and he followed her lead. He led her to a quieter spot on the beach near flattened boulders near the shore. They could hear the gentle splashing of the waves against the rocks and the whoosh as the waves and sand were taken back to the ocean. He lied her down on the soft sand overtop of his jacket he had tied to his waist. He leaned forward to kiss her. His lips grazed hers. Goosebumps tickled her spine and she shivered. His fingertips trailed from her cheek to her neck. Then his lips followed and gently sucked her neck. As her back arched, he looked deep into her soulful eyes. He lifted up her dress and pulled down her bikini bottoms. He gazed at her beautiful body. He lifted up to pull down his shorts and let them rest at his ankles. He knew she wanted it. “Don’t stop. I need you,” she said to him. He kissed her gently and plunged deep inside of her. The night quickly turned into morning. Sarah lie sprawled across the sandy beach near the burnt out fire. For the first time in quite a while, she felt at peace. Sarah smiled and looked over to the stranger lying beside her. Sarah thought she was dreaming. She thanked him for being there and holding her. She really needed gentle hands around her. She had to stop thinking. She bid him good bye and watched him stroll down the beach with memories of the wild women at the fire. Sarah watched the burnt embers occasionally spark up. She threw in some palm leaves that had fallen and it quickly ignited. She threw on another log that was placed by the fire in a pile. Sarah looked around. It was a quiet part of the beach. She could still see the figure that pacified her last night, becoming smaller and smaller in the distance.

The phone rang again. Sarah dozily felt around her bed for her phone. She wondered who kept messaging her. She couldn’t find her phone but needed to go back to sleep. Her head hurt and her body felt very heavy. Again, sleep took her quickly.

The next edition of CQ International Magazine is the Sci-Fi Season edition. (Issued November in time for Christmas gift purchasing) If you write sci-fi, draw sci-fi, paint sci-fi, promote sci-fi you will want to feature you work and services in the November issue. Submissions are FREE for all indie authors, artists and small support businesses, who hold a current, valid, annual subscription to CQ International Magazine. For full details see,

Submissions for the Sci-Fi Season will be open accepted from September 10th until Midnight,20th October 2017

A ‘ mock-up’ sample Sci-Fi book cover, by

Paul White

Jonathan Bach

is a concept artist and visual consultant working in the film, game and commercial industry. Jonathan attended the Art Centre College of Design where he focused on transportation and entertainment design.

He has worked on several films including Marvel’s Iron Man 2 and Oz: The Great and Powerful.




CQ International Magazine  

August 2017 - Summer of Fantasy

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