Blackstone Towers - The Blog Tour

First, I’d like to thank Zander for allowing me to bring my blog tour here today. This is day four of the blog tour, and I’m very excited because I’ve written a really fun horror novel, and I want to tell you all about it.

(I’ll be honest and admit I’m introducing myself in the same way each day, in case these words encounter someone who doesn’t know me or who hasn’t been following the blog tour. If you’ve already read my introduction on one of the other blogs, or if you simply don’t care who I am or what I’ve got to say, skip to the bit under the picture of the book cover).

By way of introduction, I should begin by saying my name is Ashley Lister; I write horror fiction and some of the crudest poetry known to mankind; and I’m here talking about a horror novel I’ve written which will be published on August 22nd. It’s called Blackstone Towers and this is what the story is about:

The talismans of the magi control seven realms of the mortal world. One can grant the bearer immortality; another gives its owner unfathomable wealth; a third gives the holder unerring foresight. There is a talisman to control reality, success, the deliberate and the accidental, and a talisman that governs the balance between love and hate.

The planets are now aligning, and one worldly resident of Blackstone Towers knows the talismans urgently need collecting and destroying before they fall into the wrong hands.

The only problem is establishing whose hands are the wrong ones.

 Blackstone Towers Book Cover

There’s a lot going on in Blackstone Towers. This is a novel that contains zombies, ghosts, enchanted talismans, ancient daemons, violent criminals, and common-or-garden thugs. It’s a story of greed, duty, and the dissonance between inevitability and the urge to cause change. However, if you’re like me, you’re probably thinking the zombie thing sounds cooler than the dissonance stuff.

I will hold my hand up here and admit I enjoy a good zombie movie. Night of the Living Dead was an awesome film and Shaun of the Dead remains one of my favourite classic comfort movies. I can put that on at any time and just smile all the way through.

So, if you were being pursued by zombies (and this is something I’m sure we’ve all thought about at some point in our lives), what would be your number one survival tip? I’ve always liked the idea of hanging around with people who are more slow-moving than I am. That way, I don’t have to outrun the zombies: just my friends. I also think it would be cool to have some form weaponry such as a baseball bat or a machete. I live in the UK, so a gun is an impractical suggestion, but something long and threatening could help fend off the most persistent representative of the undead.

 

So, to reiterate my question for today: what would be your number one tip to survive through a zombie apocalypse? Given the way 2020 is going, it’s looking more and more likely that it will happen before Christmas, so I’d urge you all to don your thinking caps.

Answer below, if that’s easiest for you.  I’ll be checking back throughout the day.  Answer on Twitter if you prefer, using the hashtag #BlackstoneTowers. If you don’t use Twitter and don’t like the comments box, please feel free to email me at me@ashleylister.co.uk. I’ll be collecting all the answers, and, on the day of publication, I’ll choose my favourite response and send one lucky winner a free copy of one of my novels. 

This is day 4 of a 9-day blog tour, and, each day up to the launch, I’ll be on a different blog, as detailed below. And, each day, I’ll be asking a different question. Please feel free to follow me, answer as many questions as you like, and if you’ve got any questions about the book or anything else, I’ll be happy to answer.

Also, if you fancy coming to the online launch, where I’ll be reading from Blackstone Towers and sharing some of my ribald poetry, drop me an email and I’ll send you an invite.

Thank you again to @zandervyne and to all you readers. I look forward to hearing what you’d do with the gift of foresight. And, if you want to pre-order a copy of Blackstone Towers, this link should take you through to the Amazon page

Ash

 

 

Rejected (and a Story)

My writing year began with a rejection email from an editor.

The story I'd submitted approached erotica from a different angle, one that looked at the people behind the pussies and cocks and orgasms. It dealt with dominance and submission and explored how scary the roles are for newbies. How foreign, yet yearned for. How surprising and serious. How life-changing. It also contained revenge and hope. Suspense and mystery. Women taking their power back. What it didn't have was a ton of sex.

Unlike this one, that's almost all sex, but still explores the dynamics behind good sex (and bad).

I haven't shared a story in a while and hope you enjoy this one.

Adrift




Book Review - "Evil Never Sleeps" by Robert Fleming

Evil Never Sleeps
Reading a collection of short stories by a master of the form is one of the great literary pleasures, especially when the writer treats his work as a set of variations on a powerful theme yet manages to make each story as unique as a snowflake.

A good writer is like a musician, a pied piper of words who leads you, heart and mind, into places you might not have gone otherwise.

A steady bass beat pulses through Robert Fleming’s narratives as he deftly examines the point of our lives and the sometimes sad and uncanny ways our fragile hearts, societal norms, and changeable beliefs determine our destinies. His writing demands readers to think about these things, even as they are lulled with stories ranging from funny to horrifying.

Fleming understands groundbreaking writing might be upsetting. He knows great literature is not polite, doesn’t shove uncomfortable things in closets, and doesn’t care about your feelings. It only asks that you feel.

Evil Never Sleeps is a daring, sometimes unsettling portrait of the Black experience throughout history that hits on fundamental truths. Linked by strong themes, this is a story collection done right. Some of the stories might make you flinch, but it is hard to look away. The writing burns with raw, elemental power. The characters are complex and compelling, and the writing is sharp and brave. Fleming’s dark, captivating imagination shines in this wildly diverse collection that is both gripping and timely.

This collection gives readers compact treasures of emotion and realism often wrapped in a deceptive cloak of normalcy. Though Fleming’s stories are worlds unto themselves, each is a grand carnival of the troubling and absurd; the beautiful and the profane blend to form a whole that speaks to the discord and disillusion, hope and triumphs of the Black experience.

Rich with novelistic density, Fleming’s stories make Evil Never Sleeps a full-fledged feast. Observational and piercing, some of Fleming’s stories expose how fraught, and emotionally explosive, our search for connection with other human beings can be. The range of settings, characters, and styles makes for a recurring sense of surprise for the reader.

Evil Never Speaks is a wry, intelligent collection that skillfully navigates the boundary between the demands of faith and the persistence of doubt. In seizing upon the oddities of our shared histories and our enduring, individual searches for meaning, Fleming finds worthy subjects to illuminate at every turn. Soldiers, musicians, traveling preachers, politicians, religious zealots, the famous, and the ordinary all rub shoulders here, each asking you to sit awhile and listen or to walk in their shoes until you understand them.

Plenty of writers have explored racism and the failings of man. However, Fleming, a writer who feels like the novelist equivalent of filmmakers Spike Lee and Robert Altman, has managed to write stories on the subject that feel fresh. His characters often mess up, in both small and spectacular fashion, but their transgressions often prompt our sympathy, thanks to Fleming’s insightful narration. These are tales that make you think, squirm, and sigh with understanding. What more could any reader ask for when immersing themselves in the world of a writer’s mind?

Robert Altman said to play it safe is not to play. Somehow, I am quite sure Robert Fleming would agree.

Read it today

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$1.99 Deal on Collected Authors EBook


Get lost in these sensual tales that combine gritty fantasy with lustful seduction. A must-read erotica collection that will take you to dark, disturbing, and sexy places.
Featuring my edgiest story (and personal favorite), Red House, about a priest and a vampire with a shared past.
Limited time. Grab your copy today.
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"Because Beards" Anthology Donates Proceeds to Prostate Cancer Research


November 1st e-book Launch

The Because Beards anthology will raise money for the Movember Foundation. Each story features a beautifully bearded man.


We want to keep our men healthy, and the Movember Foundation can help achieve that with our support. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this anthology go toward supporting prostate cancer research and treatment, and other critical men’s health initiatives.


Twenty-one authors donated stories for this sizzling collection (priced at just 99p/99c).

You can feel good about donating to this great cause and also receive a 500+ page e-book in the bargain.


One of the authors donating a story to this fantastic project is Emmanuelle de Maupassant (whose excellent work I've applauded in the past).

Emmanuelle’s short story Highland Pursuits is set in the 1920s and follows the defiant debutante, Ophelia, as she navigates life, love, and lust in the wild highlands of Scotland.


Everyone involved in Because Beards donated their time, resources, and talent free of charge. The team behind this anthology includes twenty-one authors, cover designer Jessica Hildreth, photographer Wander Aguiar, model Jacob Rodney, book bloggers spreading the word about this anthology, and PR experts Heather Roberts and Jenny Flores.


Goodreads fans, please add the anthology to your "To Be Read List" here. Your support (and reviews wherever you purchase the book) will help make this project a success and keep our guys healthy. 

PRE-ORDER NOW (and donate to this worthy cause) via these links:
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Please support the cause by sharing this post wherever you can.


Book Review - "Blue" by LN Bey

Book Review - Blue (an erotic novel) by LN Bey - 4 stars


First, you should know I hated “FSOG”. I tell you this early, so if “FSOG” is your idea of BDSM erotica, Blue might not ring your bell. Why? Because Blue is realistic, offering more than someone’s ideal fantasy of an abusive relationship. It shows BDSM’s good, bad, ugly, and everything in between. Most of the people in the book are normal(ish), almost intentionally so. This serves for a slightly disarming experience (Wait...what? My dentist is into whips?), but it works to ground the story in reality.

Few writers concentrating on BDSM do the lifestyle justice or have experience living it. To these writers, it’s a fantasy. And that’s fine if you, the reader, are looking for fluffy sexual exploits. But anyone who has been involved in any type of BDSM relationship, or wants a glimpse into what really goes on, usually wants—demands—more. Because there is so much more to explore than the shallow fantasyland most authors give us.

In Blue, the author does a fine job introducing us to Janet, a recently divorced suburban woman who enjoys the types of BDSM fantasy novels I just described. When she learns a friend belongs to an exclusive club of kinksters (surprisingly, right in the neighborhood), she jumps at the chance to try what she’s only read about before.

At her kinky and demeaning “initiation” into the club, Janet learns reality isn’t fantasy and fluctuates between enjoyment, fear, worry, arousal, and disappointment. Yet, she sees glimpses of what might be, if only she can learn and give herself over in ways she’s never done before but longs to do. She struggles with the unsettling realization that she was turned on despite the humiliation she did not expect and did not enjoy, contrasted with delight as she feels—for the first time in her life—that she belongs. That she may find her place in this strange, new world she’s only dreamed of before.

In some ways, Blue reminded me of The Story of O (if reset in American suburbia), yet the players seem less experienced and not as concerned with Janet’s “shaping” or wellbeing. They are far more focused on their own pleasures. And Janet is much less sure of herself than O as she hops from scene to scene, experience to experience, never quite knowing what to expect. Sometimes enjoying it, sometimes not so much.

Soon, she’s in the thick of things, sometimes in ways that are difficult to read (like the time she’s beaten so badly, she cannot go to work for days) or is treated poorly by a sadistic woman whose only goal seems to be to hurt Janet as much as she can. While these interactions were not pleasant to read, they did show a side to the lifestyle that does exist and serves as a caution for anyone picking play partners.

When Janet meets the mysterious Dimitri, a filmmaker noted for avant-garde BDSM movies, she is intrigued after months of playing with average Joes (at one point staying in a cheap motel with another submissive, awaiting the pleasure of a man who, for the most part, ignores her...far from the romantic portrayals she’s read about and longed for). I admired the author for including many elements like this one—the not-so arousing and glamorous side and people who use the lifestyle and title of Dom/Domme as a lure to get people to have sex with them or for purely psychotic reasons. In Dimitri, Janet sees something more and agrees to star in one of his films. Like most of the book, she isn’t told what will happen, so the reader gets to experience it right along with Janet. A very effective way to keep one reading.

Janet’s interactions with Dimitri were the most satisfying for me. The writer seemed to lose herself in this world of a man I imaged as a David Lynch type of visionary. The descriptions were lush and mind-bending. I longed for more as it was a welcome respite from the sometimes predictable patterns of power exchanges, sex play, and repetitious inner dialog as Janet continues to question and rehash her self-doubt and feelings of non-worth.

There are parallel stories I could have done without, though they do add different viewpoints and enable the book to wrap in a satisfying way. Though there could be a sequel, none is needed. The story stands alone.

Readers should know Blue contains explicit material and very adult situations throughout.

BUY Blue HERE

Book Review - "Havoc After Dark" by Robert Fleming

Book Review - Robert Fleming's Havoc After Dark


Dark and Excellent Short Horror Story Collection


To say Havoc After Dark is a collection of fourteen short stories makes it sound so...normal. Just a few stories in a book, like any other book. But this isn’t any ordinary collection, and these stories are like nothing you’ve ever read. 

Though billed as a collection of stories in the horror genre, the horror comes at you from so many directions that people looking for typical monsters and mayhem might not get it.

Individually, these stories shine as startling gems of originality. Together? They are a masterpiece. A perfect illustration in words of why the short-story format can do so much more than longer fiction. It has to. In the hands of a master writer like Robert Fleming (whose work has appeared in literary magazines, newspapers, and collections), words have the power to move. To change minds. To chill and to haunt. And to spark intense feelings (as illustrated by reader reviews, both good and bad, appreciative and hateful).

I loved this book for the following reasons:

Usually, writers work from the outside in—they observe the world and find ways to describe people, situations, and settings so readers relate, recognizing the world they know or seeing it in a different way. Writers often write to express ideas or feelings, to elicit emotion. Mr. Fleming does this exceptionally well. But what sets him apart, is the way he also writes from the inside...out. He seems to channel voices as disparate as a woman come back from the dead, a paid killer, racists, troubled children in impossible circumstances, a dying man, Edgar Allen Poe, Nazis, a haunted blues musician, lawyers, priests, and voodoo queens.

He writes as if he’s lived a thousand lives and walked every city on earth. Witnessed history from all sides. Has been the oppressor and the oppressed. Been whispered to by ghosts, vampires, murderers, and the devil himself.

Each story is unique. Some are hard to read. The horror so real it punches you in the gut. Each piece is written in a voice so different from the last it’s mind boggling that one person could create such unique tales. Yet, they all contain lush descriptions, making their settings as rich and real as the characters, and this too is a hallmark of Mr. Fleming's work.

From the shortest to the longest, these stories grab you by the throat, drag you into strange worlds, and into the minds of those living the tale, for that’s the way it feels reading this book—as if you step into the story and live it right along with Mr. Fleming’s characters. 

The thread tying them together is the “horror”. The hatred. The loss of hope. The fighting against a world gone mad. And yes...against monsters, both human and otherworldly.

It's difficult to pick favorites, but I particularly enjoyed Life After Bas, The Inhuman Condition, Punish the Young Seed of Satan, and The Wisdom of the Serpents. I won’t tell you what they are about, but instead, encourage you to treat yourself to this collection.

This book is special. This writer is awe-inspiring. These stories will stick with you, and if you are a writer, they will inspire you to reach deeper the next time you set out to write a story.

My rating - 5-stars


Preview "Tales of a Vampire Hunter"

Click to buy, share, or preview the first few chapters of Tales of a Vampire Hunter - Omnibus Edition (the Collected Works of the Tales of a Vampire Series, Books 1 - 3).


For a full-length preview, download IMMORAL: Tales of a Vampire Hunter Book One FREE from these booksellers:

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Emmanuelle de Maupassant and "Cautionary Tales: Voices from the Edges"

Book Review - Cautionary Tales: Voices from the Edges by Emmanuelle de Maupassant


Every once in awhile, I stumble across a writer who seems to come from another time, a time before Fifty Shades of Grey and the endless stream of imitators that followed. Back to the days when strong, intelligent women with darkly-woven souls wrote thought-provoking, deep, and literary works of fiction. 

Women like Sylvia Plath, Anais Nin, and Mary Shelley. The kind of women men feared and desired, repelled and attracted. Women who often wrote in secrecy, many of whom are still put down today by those who fear the power of their original voices screaming out into what remains largely a man's literary world. The kind of voice you cannot help but notice, penning prose that makes you shiver, think about your inner landscape and demons, and inspires writers to be better themselves.

Most of you know I have been fighting a medical condition for the past several years, one that has prevented me from writing as I once did. I've filled the gap, and my craving for words, by reading and listening to audiobooks when my vision will not allow written words to be seen.

So, though I may be late to the party, I want to introduce you to Emmanuelle de Maupassant, author of Cautionary Tales.

“We are the voices in the shadows …”

Inspired by Eastern European and Russian superstitions and folklore, here are twelve tales. Darkly delicious imaginings for the adult connoisseur of bedtime stories.

Listen,
Listen with your eyes,
and your lips.

Be drawn into a world where the boundaries between the everyday and the unearthly are snakeskin-thin, where the trees have eyes and the night has talons, where demons, drawn by the perfume of human vice and wickedness, lurk with intents malicious and capricious.

Listen with your skin
and your blood.

Here, the touching of your coat button as you pass through a graveyard can mean the difference between great fortune or eternal misfortune.

We’re here,
at the edges.

Tread carefully, for here the dark things best left behind in the forest may seep under your door and sup with you; the lover at your window or in your bed may have the scent of your death already on their breath.

We are the shiver on your uneasy flesh,
The creep of the unknown on your skin.

Whispered to you from the edges, from the haunted mouths of those who see more than you or I, here are twelve tales of lust and rivalry, of envy and deceit, and of secrets gouged from of the darkest depths of the human heart.

Is your shadow on the wall,
really yours, after all?

Emmanuelle de Maupassant strikes the pitch-perfect balance between rapacious sexuality and moral justice by using one to feed the other. She has done something unique with Cautionary Tales. She’s taken a literary tradition and transcribed it for the sexual landscape of the present day. – Malin James

Read more on  Emmanuelle de Maupassant's website, or purchase Cautionary Tales now.

The stories in this collection could have been written long ago by the Grimm brother's darker sister. The one they locked in a shed with a box full of dusty nursery books and only let out when the moon was full.

They are loosely connected in tone and their morality based sentiments. Despite that (which, I admit, initially turned me off), they are sexy little tales one can imagine pouring from a feverish mind, filled with demons and sex, fantasy and horror of the best kind.

*Disclaimer. My opinions are my own. I never accept monetary compensation for book reviews, nor am I in any way affiliated with AMAZON. I receive nothing from them, or anyone else when I recommend a book or writer, other than the pleasure of sharing good books with other readers.