Category Archives: Soul of the Universe


I know, it’s a crap word, but I couldn’t think of a clever one. If you do, let me know and I’ll edit this and credit you. They say you should always find a unique title for your book, but given the vast sweep of history and all its words, that’s not always possible. I set out to find out what other books share a title with mine.

Warren Peace by Michael WombatFirst up, there’s a 64-page version of Tolstoy’s War & Peace presented using photographs of rabbits dressed in clothing. It’s called ‘Rabbit Warren Peace’ and it looks BRILLIANT. Also, famed science-fiction writer Bob Shaw has written a couple of comedies about a cardboard-like, sitcom-like hero, Warren Peace, called ‘Who Goes Here’ and ‘Dimensions’.

Warren Peace Title-twins: 2

Fog by Michael WombatI expected to find that “there’s loads of books called Fog”, as a visitor told me at Indie Litfest last year but, although a legion of books have the word within a longer title, only James Herbert’s ‘The Fog’ comes close to the singular, and as I pointed out to my surly visitor, his doesn’t have a cool running man in the letter ‘O’.

Fog Title-twins: 1

Moth Girl versus The Bats by Michael WombatIn my innocence I imagined that ‘Moth Girl’ (even without her bats) would be unique, but no! Here comes ‘Moth Girls’ by Anne Cassidy, so called because girls are drawn to a particular house like moths (that’s light, Anne, not houses), rather than because, like my heroine Thea, they look like a moth when dressed in a weird cloak and flying goggles.

Moth Girl Title-twins: 1

Blood on the Ground by Michael WombatThis one surprised me. Who’d have thought there’d be other ‘Blood on the Ground’s? There are, though. There’s Paul Usiskin’s torrid tale of murder, dangerous love, and techno-porn (I know!) across the Israel-Palestine divide. Not a lot of laughs in that one, I’ll warrant. I’d prefer Lenora Rain Good’s ‘Blood on the Ground: Elegies for Waiilatpu’, 22 poems about the 1847 Waiilatpu massacre. Sod it, I’m buying that one.

Blood on the Ground Title-twins: 2

Happily, my other titles – Cubic Scats, Soul of the Universe, Cutthroats and Curses, Human 76 and the imminent The Museum of White Walls – appear to have no title twins at all. Which I choose to interpret as a 5-4 win for me, so ner.

Anthology off the port bow! Cutthroats & Curses

Ahoy, swashbucklers, you need tarry no longer, for Cutthroats & Curses: an Anthology of Pirates is out now and just itching to shiver your timbers.

8 the full monty

What’s that I see on the cover? A dragon? And look! A web-fingered denizen of the oceans! A cool-as-fuck female pirate! And treasure, and tropical islands, and hey – could that book be a map wherein X marks the spot? Be excited, you swabs, for the stories collected herein play fast and loose with their uniting theme of piracy, and will take you on a voyage to places beyond your salty imagination.

Featuring ten of the finest indie writers around –Lisa Shambrook, Boyd Miles, Marissa Ames, Bryan Taylor, Beth Avery, Matt Jameson, Eric Martell, Michael Walker, Stephen Coltrane, and Alex Brightsmith and me, this treasure will delight everyone.

Buy it now for your Kindle at Amazon UK, Amazon USA, Amazon Canada, Amazon Japan… oh you get the drift.

The cover was created by the wonderfully talented Kit Cooper, who also drew the cover for Soul of the Universe. You can buy beautiful Kit Cooper items here.

skull and crossbones

And, before you landlubbers leave, check out The Anthology Club‘s excellent debut release ‘Soul of the Universe’ :

5 SotU72logo websized‘This collection was absolutely breathtaking, and has introduced me to some new genres I wasn’t overly familiar with, and showed the extraordinary range of writing styles that all bring their own meaning to a story.’


‘Soul of the Universe is a collection of stunning short stories that can leave you smiling, crying or just in a state of wonder.’

Whores and French Women

Howdy, folks. This here’s an excerpt from my Western yarn ‘Blood on the Ground’, which you’ll find in the rip-roaring anthology ‘Soul of the Universe’. Folks who know about these things reckon it’s as fine as cream gravy, or “a stunning collection” as they put it.

The protagonist, Rence, something of a chancer and a ne’er-do-well has sneaked into an Indian camp in order to purloin whatever the hell takes his fancy.

The next tipi was the same: a right lot of clutter but little of value. He did pick up a beautifully decorated stick, some three feet long. It was decorated with odd carvings, notches and feathers, with an eagle claw fixed to one end. He figured that he’d likely manage to sell it for a pretty price to some unsalted dude visiting from the East, and slipped it into his bag, tying a beaded decoration to the bag-strap so that the stick would not fall out.

He was readying to move on to the next tipi when he heard loud female laughter from outside. He threw himself into a dark corner, hastily pulling up a blanket to cover himself and hauling his boots under it.

Four laughing Crow women ducked into the tipi, yammering away nineteen to the dozen. The woman at the rear, a little older than the rest and ugly as a mud fence, said something in Crow that caused her companions to burst into wild laughter. She reached down and caressed the buttocks of the young girl nearest to her, who smiled.

God damn.

The girl turned and pulled old Plain Jane to her, moulding their two bodies together, swaying. Rence had never seen the like. He had heard of such fancy goings on back East, but had imagined that they were confined to whores and French women. This was…

God damn.

The two other women approached the pair and stooped to lift Plain Jane’s dress over her head. She swayed naked in the dim light.

Rence stifled a gasp. Although her face looked like the hindquarters of bad luck, her body was something else. He stared for a spell while kissing and, well, other things went on. Then, as much as he wanted to stay and watch the other women get unshucked too, he got set to make tracks. He was not such a fool as to ignore such an ideal opportunity to leave undetected.

He edged quietly towards the entrance, silent as a bone orchard. Silent, that is, until the purloined stick poking out of his bag clattered against a large pot.

Iaxassee bacheé!” screamed one of the women. Rence leapt to his feet and legged it out of the tipi full chisel. He sprinted lickety-split towards the wolf’s head rock. Screams and yells rent the air behind him. A swift arrow whipped close by his ear, and a dog snapped at his heels as he vaulted astride Red’s ready back and spurred the horse into action. They rode like Sam Hill himself was after them, away from the hollering camp”

You can buy ‘Soul of the Universe’ from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada… hell, every kind of Amazon you can think of.

The story of the story of Rence Corness

Soul of the UniverseIf you’ve read the newly-released anthology, “Soul of the Universe”, you’ll know that it features a new story of mine: a Western yarn. Now, I’d never considered writing a Western before, although I can tell you that Anthology Club has a possible Western-themed Anthology lined up, so I certainly will revisit ‘cowpokes’ and ‘injuns’ again.

So what inspired me to enter the strange new world (to me) of the cowboy? Last year I was gripped, along with (although later than) most of the rest of you, by the stonkingly good telly series Breaking Bad. The final episode featured the song ‘El Paso’ by Marty Robbins. Chasing down this earworm on YouTube, I stumbled across Rex Wells singing “Blood on the Saddle”. Something about the song spoke to me. Who was the unnamed cowboy, and how did he come to be lying on the ground ‘all covered in gore’? The song’s explanation that a horse had trodden on his head seemed patently ridiculous.

OK, so maybe (so my thoughts went) the singer reporting the event was trying to cover something nasty up. But what could that be? It didn’t take me long to work out an alternative, far more interesting explanation. Pine LeafNow I needed a setting that was slightly askew from normal Western tales, to match the invented event. Two things led me to set the tale above the snowline – the first was my love of the film Jeremiah Johnson, the second was the evocative image of hot blood splashed on stark white snow. Of course, once I had snow, I had to have the Crow, and not only for reasons of rhyme. Looking into the Crow led me to Pine Leaf – that’s her, over on the left there – and everything else slotted into place.

All of the main parts of the story, therefore, led from thoughts originally sparked by listening to this song. Which is the whole raison d’etre of the anthology, after all. Buy the book in these places: Amazon UK, Amazon US or Smashwords.

Sleep is for wimps

2YyM2I awoke at 5am last night, and my mind decided that it didn’t want to go back to sleep. Oh no, the irritating sod decided that it wanted to think about time, death and oblivion. I tried to drag it away to thoughts of dancing ladies, semi-clad in diaphanous nightgowns, but my mind was having none of that and had an aged knight in rusty armour slay them all bloodily and muddily with a huge axe.
The upshot of this is that when time finally did haul it’s slow and sorry arse around to the hour of getting up, I was exhausted and – ta-da! – fell asleep.

I hate when that happens. It means that I’ve lost a morning which I had promised to devote to writing, and I can scarce afford that at the moment, given the number of project balls that I am currently juggling:

  • Firstly, here I am listening to the first chapter of the ‘Moth Girl’ audiobook, which is stupendously good. The reader has achieved a slightly off-kilter tone to his delivery which perfectly matches the tale. It will eventually be available for download on Bandcamp.
  • Secondly, I continue to promote ‘Soul of the Universe’, which to my delight has been extremely well received.
  • Thirdly, I have a shipful of pirate tales waiting for me to edit them into the next anthology, now tentatively entitled ‘Talking The Plank’.
  • Fourthly, the ever-patient ‘1322’ (which really needs a different title lest it be mistook for a history book – ‘The Raven’s Wing’ being the current favourite) sits back and awaits my attention.
  • Fifthly, I continue to tend my secret project as it simmers away. You may or may not get to hear about this towards the end of the year.
  • Oh, and sixthly, I ought to submit ‘Fog’ once more to a few publishers. Self-publishing is enormous fun, but a professional publisher could give a book far more of a push than I alone ever can. Although I love my readers dearly, bless you, of all my works ‘Fog’ at least deserves a wider audience.

So you see, I don’t have time to sleep. Sleep is for wimps. I must stop being a wimp.


Soul of the UniverseI am delighted, nay elated, to announce that “Soul of the Universe” is OUT NOW! I am as excited as a bottle of Dandelion & Burdock that has seen shaken very hard. Editing this musically-inspired collection has been a hatful of fun and a barrowload of work. It’s also been a bus ride of discovery, and I have learned a lot about myself as an author, things that will only help me to improve. Things like avoiding idiotic metaphors like ‘a bus ride of discovery’.

Now, yes, there are a couple of my stories in there, but I’d rather tell you about the superb tales that you will find from my fellow authors, some of the most talented indie writers around. First up is a science fiction story from the delectable Michael S. Manz which has a delightful skew that will have you chortling into your cornflakes (if, that is, you eat cornflakes while you are reading). Add to this a brace of emotionally exercising tales from Michael A. Walker that will make the hairs on all sorts of body parts stand on end and you begin to realise that you hold something special (no, not that, I mean the book). Finally, bucking the wave of Michaels that is threatening to overwhelm the anthology world, the beguiling Marissa Ames crowns this marvellous collection with a thumpingly thrilling story set in the world of Tir Athair, familiar to all readers of her hugely successful medieval fantasy novel Minstrel.

Please do click on any of the names above to discover their own thoughts about this remarkable gathering of new worlds for you to explore through your reader. All of these stories are hand-picked for your enjoyment and lovingly wrapped in a cover by exciting new illustrator Kit Cooper that I could wax lyrical about for paragraphs, and probably will in a future blog post.

So fly, my pretties, fly like a well-flung frisbee and buy Soul of the Universe from one of these places:


Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Amazon Can:

Amazon Aus:

You can also find it on Goodreads, should you be a Goodreader:

Three more days…

…until “Soul of the Universe”, when you will be able to find out what this woman has to do with my story.

Blood on the Ground - Pine Leaf

“Soul of the Universe” cover reveal

1901160_276107002566027_1489326342_nFinally I can show you all what I’ve been drooling over for the last week or two. *blows a squeaky trumpet*

It is my immense pleasure to present to you the splendid cover for my new book, “Soul of the Universe”, which will be available to buy on March 18th. I feel properly proud that it has been chosen as the first book to be published by Anthology Club, a growing collective of writing talent that has been causing something of a stir, and is predicted to become quite the thing over the coming months. Already Anthology Club have eight further collections in the works.

As for my collection, it runs to a hundred and sixty pages and six tales set in a widely varied range of genres. The title derives from something that Plato (you know Plato, right?) said –

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

I’m sure that from that you can work out that all of the stories in this book are inspired by music. Each story has a YouTube link to the song that inspired it, so that you will be able to listen as you read. I’ll tell you more, and introduce you to the individual authors, over the next few weeks. For now, let us just bathe in that glorious work of art up there, and the many symbolisms therein. From the design, can you guess what genres are represented in the book? Go on, have a wild stab and tell me in the comments.

The cover was commissioned from a young artist named Kit Cooper, who was told the theme “Music is the soul of the universe” and nothing else, and given the seemingly impossible task of interpreting that theme. Now, I may be biased – hell, of course I’m biased – but I think Kit did an incredible job.

“Soul of the Universe” will be available for purchase on March 18th. You can see more of Kit Cooper’s work, including his own books, at

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