Friday, 31 August 2018

Flash Fiction - Dining Room


'The dining table is for eating, not killing your brain.' 
Mark's mum sounded weary as she tried in vain to get her son off his phone long enough to eat dinner with her. It didn't work. He just grunted in response and went back to scrolling through his newsfeed, pausing to like and comment on particularly funny memes.


'The dining table is for eating, not cleaning your football boots.'
Andrew's wife pleaded with her husband but knew it was pointless. The table was not only a convenient dumping ground, it was an excellent workspace with all the good lighting available to see what he was doing and comfortable chairs to sit in. He promised to clean up after himself but she knew that would never happen.

'The dining table is for eating, not creating modern art.'
Julia's granny gestured at all the art supplies all over the table and flinched when she noticed PVA glue dripping off the side of the table and the upturned tube of glitter mingling happily with pencil shavings and god forbid felt-tip pen marks.

'The dining table is for eating.'
Adele said to herself mournfully as she draped dust sheets over the table and chairs, knowing that she would never host another dinner party, never have another family gathering, never lay the table again. They were downsizing. The dining room would become a forgotten relic in their photo album, exclaimed about no doubt when she passed away and the children's children pawed through old photographs. 

'Look at this table, love! Perfect for what we need.'
Kate jigged up and down happily as her boyfriend paid the secondhand dealer for the furniture, picked it up and slung it into the back of their van. The table jostled with various other pieces of wood on the bumpy journey, earning itself a vicious gash across it's top. It didn't matter, the disfigurement made it easier for Kate to chop the wood in two. She repurposed furniture for a living and would be able to make several small coffee tables from one dining table.

'The coffee table is for drinks, not your feet!'
Adele barked at her husband for the umpteenth time. There was something about her coffee table that made her feel extra protective. She buffed the surface with her cuff and smiled to herself. 


Claire Buss is a multi-genre writer and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

A Slice of Cake With... Moss Whelan

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with fellow indie author and cake enthusiast, Moss Whelan.


Moss Whelan (1968), born in Vancouver, British Columbia, is the Canadian author of Gray Hawk of Terrapin published on January the 12th, 2018. He is an English Literature Bachelor of Arts, a Creative Writing Associate, and possesses a Diploma in Writing for Film, Television, and Interactive Media. He is active in the online Fantasy community and teaches Creative Writing. His work depicts a return to transcendent self-esteem in contrast with worldviews that shape perceived reality. He received the President's Award at Douglas College and the M. Sheila O'Connel Undergraduate Prize in Children's Literature at Simon Fraser University. A survivor of PTSD, he hopes to be a voice for continued access to mental health.


What kind of books do you write?

My books seem to be about hidden places and hidden people—a Xanadu of the imagination. There’s a street that most people don’t visit. The people who live or work in that place can do things that are amazing. They know where to find the psychological centre of the world, the Axis Mundi, and they take the protagonist to that place. 


Can you describe your writing why?

William Blake’s phrase, “Mind-forged manacles,” is my mantra. I keep seeing narratives in advertising, film, and music that say, “I don’t have this, so life is horrible,” and I keep thinking, “That’s self-hatred.” Why do we promote codependence instead of independence? Why do we promote this psychological poverty? Aren’t we free? Or are our minds bought and sold? Rise up! Revolt! Re-something-or-other!


Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most.

My fab part of Gray Hawk of Terrapin is:

“Hwaet! Wound of the World! I have returned! From deep dreams and stories old! Rainbow’s End is here. The Fall of Uriar—now. I am Gray Hawk! Your doom! I have returned.”



Tell us about your latest project

My sequel to Gray Hawk of Terrapin is marinading as I get feedback / beta-reading. Writing-wise, I’ve got three projects in various stages. First, a Sword & Sorcery novel for pleasure called Corvus Homunculus. Second, a SciFi novel as a public service announcement with transhumans, robots, and mass extinction called Panthalassa’s Embrace. Third, an MG novel called The Griffin Who Lived Upstairs that is loosely connected to the world of Terrapin.


What is your favourite cake?

One slice of Black Forest, please. I like the contrast between the rich chocolate and cream. I’m undecided about the glow-in-the-dark maraschino cherries; I’m pretty sure there’s something fake/factory/chemical/preservative going on there. The chocolate cake side of the equation has to be dense and diet-destroying, heavy cake—not fluff. It’s got to make me say, “I promise I won’t look at another cake after you,” kind of cake. Real dark chocolate flakes on top, not fake sprinkles. Real whipping cream, not oil-based-product shot out of an aerosol can. And, less sugar would be nice so my fillings don’t scream like Robert Plant. 



Here you go Moss, a slice of Black Forest with chocolate dipped real cherries and proper cream. Should be fairly diet-destroying. If readers are interested in making this cake, here's the link - Black Forest Cake.

You can keep in touch with Moss on Twitter @Moss_Whelan.

Join me next week when I will be having a slice of cake with indie author Moss Whelan, grilling them gently about their writing life and of course sharing their favourite cake.

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.


Claire Buss is a multi-genre writer and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Tuesday Poem - A Cracked Door

There's a crack in the brick over there
It leads to a wondrous land
Of enchantment
And wonder
And magic

There's a crack in the brick over there
And sometimes, if you listen hard
You'll hear faerie laughter
Silver tinkling bells
And music

There's a crack in the brick over there
It's something most people ignore
They don't like to get to close
But it's an invitation
To explore

There's a crack in the brick over there
A link between two worlds
All you need is a pinch of determination
And you can cross
Into your imagination


Sunday, 26 August 2018

Bank Holiday Goodies


August bank holiday signals the end of the summer holidays, the imminent return to school and the last bank holiday of the year in the UK so it's a perfect time to have a mini book sale. After all, everyone else is doing it!

The Rose Thief

Are you a Terry Pratchett fan? Then you might enjoy reading The Rose Thief, my humorous fantasy novel. Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher has a problem. Someone is stealing the Emperor's roses. But that's not the worst of it. In his infinite wisdom and grace, the Emperor magically imbued his red rose with love so if it was ever removed from the Imperial Rose Gardens then love will be lost, to everyone, forever. It's up to Ned and his band of motley catchers to apprehend the thief and save the day. But the thief isn't exactly who they seem to be, neither is the Emperor. Ned and his team will have to go on a quest defeating vampire mermaids, illusionists, estranged family members and an evil sorcerer in order to win the day. What could possibly go wrong? Why not take a look at the book trailer?



The Rose Thief is currently available on Kindle for just 99p but hurry, the deal will only last until the 29th August so make sure you get your copy before it's too late. Click here for yours.



A humorous collection of short stories reflecting on life by the seaside, attempts to successfully wrangle two small children and the result of being inspired by the sun, the sand and the sea. The perfect beach read, it will have you chuckling in your deckchair.


Tales from the Seaside will be FREE on Kindle on Bank Holiday Monday, the 27th August. You can download your free copy on Monday by clicking here: Tales from the Seaside



If that wasn't enough excitement, you can also get yourself a whole host of free humorous sci-fi & fantasy eBooks from a Story Origin giveaway. Follow the link here and take a look at the books available, you might find a new favourite.


Happy Reading!


Claire Buss is a multi-genre writer and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Flash Fiction - Bathrooms

By day the bathroom is an ordinary place. If you're super lucky, you have a separate toilet. Otherwise, you're staring at the bathtub while you pee and wondering how you missed that tideline when you cleaned it last. By day the bathroom looks cheerful, sparkly even. A place where you might think, yes, I will have a bath. 

But baths are not taken in the middle of the daytime when the sun is shining and the room is safe. Baths are taken in the evening. When the night sky is dark and all you have is that single bulb keeping the nightmares away. The hot water runs and bubble bath seems like the obvious choice but then you can't see under the foam. Anything could be lurking in that water. A viscous clawed hand just waiting to disembowel you when you sit down.

Or perhaps black alien slime will slither out of the plug hole and enter your earhole as you lay down in the bath, thinking you are there to relax when really a non-Terran lifeform is deciding how quickly to eat your brain. 

And what if you make your bath too hot and you're lying there sophomoric in the heat, relaxing until you melt into the tub. Your eyelids growing heavy as sleep takes you, that vixen. Letting you sink deeper and deeper into unconsciousness, the hot water lapping at your mouth, covering your lips, entering your nostrils until you snort into wakefulness. Or not.

It's not just having the bath that could kill you. Trying to step out of the blasted giant sink safely is an art form in itself. I tell you, taking a shower is a much more sensible idea. It is definitely only the second most dangerous thing to do in the bathroom. 



Claire Buss is a multi-genre writer and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

A Slice of Cake With... Jeff Provine

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with fellow indie author Jeff Provine.

Jeff is a farm kid turned writer always asking "What If?" He also serves as a professor, lecturing on Composition, Comics, and Mythology.

What kind of books do you write?

I write two very different breeds:  one is a collection of local folklore, Haunted Norman, Haunted Guthrie, Haunted Oklahoma City. They are all true stories pulled from interviews, archives, and history telling the spooky tales we don’t often share—until someone gets it started, and then everyone has a ghost story!

The other breed stems from asking “what if?” The clearest is my This Day in Alternate History blog, which has a post for each day of the year telling a historical event that somehow goes in a different direction, such as Booth calling off the assassination of Lincoln or Russian explorers discovering gold in California decades before Sutter’s Mill. In that same vein, I’ve done an alternate history horror steampunk Hellfire, a young adult multiverse pirates Dawn on the Infinity, and a steampunk trilogy Celestial Voyages.


Can you describe your writing why?

I write to show something new. It may be an old, old ghost story that might be wavering on being swallowed up in the sands of history, or it could be something completely different stemming from that asking “what if.” For my story in Inklings, I asked myself, “What if instead of collecting art, we collected mythological creatures?” Then I had to ask, “How would we hold them,” and the inevitable, “What happens when one escapes?”


Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most.

From The Thing In The Cave, Tales from the Underground, here’s the first time the locomotive engineers learn that something is lurking inside the fire:

“Everything all right?” Jones called.
Nate shook his head slowly. “No. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not right. There’s something in the fire.”
“Can you dump it with the ashpan?”
Nate kept shaking his head. “I don’t think so.”
A jarring bang rang from the firebox doors. Nate jumped back and held up his shovel like a weapon.
The doors rattled again, and then the one on the right shifted open just a crack. A fresh sound of wailing poured into the cab. Something not quite black and not quite gray slithered out like a headless snake.
“What is that?” Jones screamed.
Nate swung at it with the shovel, whacking it with the dull side. A roar like the wind out of a cave came from the firebox.
Jones screamed louder, “What was that?”
The tendril grew longer and pushed back the firebox door. Steadily, fighting the weight of the heavy door, the thing climbed out of the firebox. The tendril was like a tail reaching from a shoulder. Its five other legs were segmented like a spider’s, but its body was fat and grotesque like nothing Nate had ever seen. It had eyes, shining, black eyes that blinked all over its bulbous body.


Tell us about your latest project.

I’m working with local artists to launch Okie Comics Magazine, a free quarterly periodical for the Oklahoma City metro that showcases all comics by Oklahomans with the stories set locally. Inspiration jumped out at me one day when I was looking at page rates for some of the free local pubs, and I thought, “These are just about what you pay for a page of comics.” If we cover local news, why not a local entertainment pub as well? Our issue #3 just launched at www.okiecomics.com.


What is your favourite cake?

My parents make a chocolate √©clair cake that layers graham crackers and vanilla pudding with a chocolate covering. It’s simple and quick, and oh so good!


Wow - this is a new cake on me Jeff and it looks amazing. Not sure whether I'll be able to find all the ingredients here in the UK but I'll do my best! For everyone who is baking-inclined here is a recipe for Chocolate Eclair Cake

You can keep in touch with Jeff on his website, Twitter & Facebook.

Join me next week when I will be having a slice of cake with indie author Moss Whelan, grilling them gently about their writing life and of course sharing their favourite cake.

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.


Claire Buss is a multi-genre writer and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Tuesday Poem - I Sit Down

I sit down with a cup of tea
You beg me for your favourite tv

I sit down with my breakfast toast
You ask me to share

I sit down on the toilet
You come to tell me something important

I sit down on the floor
You ask me to build a train track

I sit down with my diary
You beg me for a snack

I sit down for lunch
You go for a poo and shout for me

I sit down to do learning books
You make me so proud

I sit down to have dinner
You decide to throw yours on the floor

I sit down after bedtime
You start screaming and screaming

I sit down exhausted
You snooze next to me in the chair



Claire Buss is a multi-genre writer and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Author Event - My Route to Publishing


I've been asked to take part in this year's ReadFest event run by the Pen to Print team at Barking & Dagenham libraries this September. I got very excited and vlogged:




I took part in ReadFest in 2016 on the final night when we celebrated work created by writers throughout the year. I had taken part in the playwriting course run by Eddie Coleman and had my short play, Airpot, acted out during the evening. It was simultaneously a wonderful and terrifying experience.


This year I have my own segment. On Monday 24th September I will be talking about My Route to Publishing with Pen to Print. I have my own page in the brochure.


I'm really excited to be able to talk about my experiences as an indie author. I've learnt so much and met some amazing people along the way. I hope that I can inspire other budding writers to take that leap into becoming published and or course answer lots of questions!

If you're interested in attending the event, all you have to do is click here to go to Eventbrite and book your free tickets. I'll see you there!


Claire Buss is a multi-genre writer and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Flash Fiction - Kitchens

Tess staggered to the kitchen counter and held on for dear life, her throat beginning to constrict making it difficult to breathe. With blurry eyes, she tried to look for something obvious she could use but it was hopeless, she couldn't make out anything. Shaking her head in an effort to clear her vision unleashed a banging headache that made her gasp. She couldn't fail now. Not here. Not in the kitchen.

She needed something to make herself sick. That would empty the contents of her stomach and should slow the effect. Think! she screamed to herself and then she had an idea. Stumbling to the sink Tess scrabbled for a mug or a glass or something she could drink water out of. There, a plastic beaker. That would do. As she fumbled for the tap, a sudden thought occurred to her. He wouldn't. Lifting the beaker to her nose she caught a sweet aroma. Dammit. It was laced with hydrogen cyanide. She let the beaker drop to the floor and began frantically feeling around the kitchen, opening cupboard doors, seeing double and feeling like she was burning up.

The third cupboard she tried was full of condiments. Grabbing the salt cellar, Tess moved back to the sink, bumping her hip against a cupboard door handle painfully as she misjudged the angle. Trying to hurry, she turned the tap on too fast and the water gushed out splashing her top. Ignoring the wet fabric she tipped the salt cellar into her mouth and then cupped her hands under the water, trying to scoop a drink. The gritty, salty water hit the back of her mouth, making her gag loudly but years of trying not to barf were working against her and all she did was retch. 


In desperation, Tess shoved two fingers down the back of her throat. Finally, that action tipped her body's reflex into action and she threw up noisily in the sink. She rested for a moment before giving in to her shaky legs and sinking to the floor. The room was pulsating and she felt incredibly light headed so she closed her eyes. Trying to take deep breaths she made herself focus on relaxing. Breathing in and out slowly, Tess managed to slow her heart rate and take stock of her symptoms. She still felt sick but the headache was receding and it was getting easier to breathe. Opening her eyes cautiously she noticed the double vision was improving. She'd done it. 

'Congratulations, Miss Winters. You've passed the practical but next time don't waste time with saltwater. Remember - you are everything you need.' Professor Guterriez smiled down at Tess encouragingly before walking to the next poisoning assessment in the adjoining testing kitchen. 





Wednesday, 15 August 2018

A Slice of Cake With... Joanne Van Leerdam

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cake with fellow indie author, poet and blogger Joanne Van Leerdam

Joanne Van Leerdam has been writing ever since she learned how to hold a pencil, but really only began to take her poetry seriously over the last few years. In addition to poetry, she blogs regularly and also writes the occasional short story. 

Joanne loves reading, crosswords, sudoku, and colouring for relaxation. She plays piano and is a keen photographer.

Joanne is a teacher of English, History and Drama / Production. She is director/producer of her school's musical every year and is an active member and performer in her local theatre company.

She is proud to be both an Australian and an honorary Canadian.

Joanne runs WordyNerdBird as a Facebook page, but also as a business through which she publishes her books.

She does her own graphic design work, producing custom design projects in addition to her own range of magnets, cards and promotional material.  


What kind of books do you write?

I write in a number of different styles. I write poetry that is a response to my own experiences and inspired by other people around me. It’s honest and relatable, and sometimes it’s quite dark. I also write scary stories that usually involve someone who fully deserves it getting what’s coming to them. It’s never splatter for splatter’s sake – I try to be cleverer than that. 


Can you describe your writing why?

I write because the ideas and the words burn inside me until I do. It’s the best therapy I’ve ever had.


Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most.

I think my favourite thing I’ve written so far is my poem, Nocturne. It’s in my book, Nova, which has won several awards. I guess that means I’m not the only one who loves it. 



Tell us about your latest project.

Curious Things is a collection of thirteen creepy stories about a black cat named Friday, who is no ordinary cat. Although his nature isn’t made obvious, it’s clear to the reader that he has powers that he uses to mete out justice to people who behave badly. He doesn’t just slay them quickly – each person meets their end in a way that is appropriate to their wrongdoing. 

It started as a simple short story that I wrote for Friday 13th last October. The cat kind of took over – did I ever and I wrote twelve more Friday stories between then and Halloween. 



And I hear you have a new release?

Yes, A Poet's Curse is my latest book of poetry - uncomfortable truths, observations about life, and unashamedly honest responses to hateful people make this collection of poems highly relatable and deeply, darkly satisfying.



What is your favourite cake?

Lemon Meringue Pie. Does that qualify as cake?


Absolutely! For those readers who are baking along, here is a recipe from the queen of baking, Mary Berry for her Lemon Meringue Pie

You can keep in touch with Joanne across social media:

Visit her website - www.jvlpoet.com
Like her on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter
Stalk her on Instagram
Pin her on Pinterest
Go googly with her on Google+
Read her blog
Listen to her writing musing

Join me next week when I will be having a slice of cake with indie author Jeff Provine, grilling them gently about their writing life and of course sharing their favourite cake.

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.


Claire Buss is a multi-genre writer and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Tuesday Poem - Wakey Wakey

Another yawn cracks my face
I can't keep up with this wicked pace
Gritty eyes and slow hands
Feeling like I'm swimming through sand

Walk into the room but no idea why
Can't remember exactly and so I try
To write everything down, can't miss a trick
My brain isn't working so nothing sticks

Spend an hour looking at an empty screen
Trying to figure out exactly what it means
Then forgetting and remembering again
But often feeling like I'm going insane

An early night might be good for me
A chocolate digestive, a cup of tea
Make a list of all the things that need to be done
Then make sure I go to bed with the sun


Sunday, 12 August 2018

But I'm not religious

It was my daughter's christening today and I am thrilled that so many of my family and friends were able to travel down and celebrate the occasion with us.

But, I am not a particularly religious person. So why did I insist on having her, and previously my son, christened?

It's a bit complicated and probably somewhat contradictory but hey, I'm just a little human being trying to do the right thing.

I do have faith. Faith in what exactly I find it hard to quantify. Let's call it a higher power. The world and all its inhabitants are too wondrous to be just the result of a happy primordial stew accident. 

I do believe in an afterlife. Exactly what it entails I have no idea. But I take comfort in the fact that my loved ones who have past are not ended. Some aspect of them continues to exist and when it is my time, I will join them. But it does give me the heebie-jeebies to even think of what that might be like.

I don't feel the need to attend church every Sunday in order to keep my faith. When times are hard, sometimes I pray for help or guidance. Sometimes I take solace in being with nature. Sometimes I just get mad and scream and shout and cry until it gets worked out in some way.


I like singing carols at Christmas. I like the harvest festival. I like bringing family and friends together for births, weddings and funerals (well not so much the last one but you know what I mean.) I appreciate that the church offers hope to many people and gives them the strength to carry on. 

But I'm also covering all my bases. And I'll freely admit this. If I'm wrong and God does exist in all his fire and brimstone glory depicted by the Church, then I want my children to be protected spiritually if anything should ever happen to them. I can't stand the thought of them being alone in the empty. 


I also appreciate the concept of Godparents. People of similar belief to me or maybe a deeper, religious connection, that make a promise to help raise my child to be a good person. This is important, "it takes a village" and all that. Something the reverend said today that I thought was particularly lovely was that everyone had gathered in church today not only to welcome my daughter into the Christian family but also to let her know that we love her. A simple thing that means so very much. 

So thanks again to everyone who expressed their love for our little girl, it really does mean the world.


Friday, 10 August 2018

Flash Fiction Friday - Bedrooms

She stifled a scream as she heard his heavy tread in her room. He's too drunk to look - he's too drunk to look she thought desperately as she squeezed herself as far back under the bed as she possibly could. He wouldn't get her tonight. She'd rather die.

flicker flicker flicker

Boing! Boing! Boing!
"Justin Richard More! Stop bouncing on that bed! You'll break it!"
"Aww Mom!" 
There is a brief pause.
Boing! Boing! Boing! Crash!
"ARGH!"
"Justin? Justin? Are you alright?" Silence. Hurried footsteps up the stairs. Screaming.

flicker flicker flicker

WAAAAAAAH!

The baby's scream pierced the night, again. Martha willed her body to move, to get up and see to her child but her limbs were heavy. Her husband lay beside her, snoring loudly. The baby's wails grew louder, more frantic. Martha's eyelids flickered as she tried to open her eyes. She was so tired. Finally, she managed to drag her body into an upright position and force her eyes open. She peered into the dimly lit room, trying to assess the cause of the crying. A lost dummy, but where was it? She groped around the cot, fingers fumbling against cuddly toys but no luck. Aha! There, she scrambled to get the pacifier and put it back in the wide-open mouth, holding her hand over the baby's face. A sudden peace descended. 

flicker flicker flicker


His hands tightened around her neck. With each thrust he pressed harder, ignoring the choking sounds, the arm hitting him and the legs beneath him writhing in protest. She didn't mean it. She loved it. He clenched as he reached climax and shuddered, finally releasing his hands. But it was too late. He'd killed another one.

flicker flicker flicker

"How much for the bed frame, mate" The young man stood on the edge of the parking space, in front of the garage sale, eyeing the furniture hopefully.
"Twenty quid," replied the elderly man, running the sale.

"Twenty quid? That's a total bargain, hang on..." The youth fumbled into his pockets, looking for his last note, sure that it was a twenty. He pulled out a tenner. "Oh. Er. I don't..."
"It's fine. Have it. I don't want your money." The older man looked between the disassembled frame and the skinny fellow. "You got some way to transport this?"

"Yeah! My mates got a van. Can we come back and pick it up later?"
"It's all yours." 

flicker flicker flicker

A young man and his dog were found dead last night in a bed frame purchased from Mr Lovell, widower to the eminent artist Sandra Lovell who died under mysterious circumstances in the same bed. Police investigations at the time ruled the death to be accidental but the history of the furniture can be traced back through several unexplained fatal accidents. The bed is currently available for sale at Pears Auction House but has yet to have a single bid. 



Wednesday, 8 August 2018

A Slice of Cake With... J.C. Steel

This week I am delighted to be having a slice of cheesecake with fellow indie author J.C. Steel.


Born in Gibraltar and raised on a yacht around the coasts of the Atlantic, JC is a writer, martial artist and introvert. In between the necessary making of money to allow the writing of more books, she can usually be found halfway to the furthest galaxy.


What kind of books do you write?

I’m a sucker for intelligent anti-heroes. I create universes and destroy civilisations. My characters are schemers and survivors, and not infrequently tend to the ‘chaotic neutral’ end of the scale. I’ve had readers say my books are complicated :) I take this as a tremendous compliment. I enjoy working in societies that are just a little off-kilter from our own, and include essentials like space travel, aliens, and elaborate assassination plots.




Can you describe your writing why?

I write because otherwise, the voices in my head get way out of line. Many authors may say this as a joke. I end up dreaming about breaking into alien factories and fighting giant robots with handguns if I don’t write regularly. 

Seriously, writing my own books is a great way to have adventures from the comfort of my own desk. If a story doesn’t give me goosebumps at some point in the writing, it’s probably destined for the recycle folder. Bilbo Baggins’s Walking Song probably sums up at least 80% of how I feel about writing.


    The Road goes ever on and on
    Down from the door where it began.
    Now far ahead the Road has gone,
    And I must follow, if I can,
    Pursuing it with eager feet,
    Until it joins some larger way
    Where many paths and errands meet.
    And whither then? I cannot say.


Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most.

Tough question, I enjoyed writing all of them to an indecent degree! I’ll go with the first in my sci-fi series, Through the Hostage, and give you a piece that made me do my best evil vizier cackle once it was down.



“I want to speak to you,” Taiva said, tilting her head to meet Ilan’s eyes as she had always had to do, even when their respective heights had been rather less.
The black eyebrows rose, and Khyria Ilan, sole commander of Wildcat Cortia, looked her over with vague irony. “For which I have developed a second shadow. I take it that until I either indulge you or injure you, I’ll continue to trip over you at every intersection?”
“It’s important,” Taiva said doggedly, despite the chill that the other’s tone sent through her.

Ilan’s expression didn’t change. “I’m sure it is,” she said soothingly. The mockery in her eyes was disconcerting. “So is what I am doing later. I suppose I might as well kill two birds with one stone, to use an old saying rather literally. Meet me here in two hours…and we’ll see.”


Tell us about your latest project.

Right now I’m working on my first urban fantasy novel, Death is for the Living, which will come out sometime in summer 2018 (honest, guv). It’s a novel of vampires and hunters and the magical underground of the Caribbean, spiced with a little blood and romance and a lot of double-crosses. Want to know more? Come in deeper...



What is your favourite cake?

Any kind of cheesecake. Absolute top of the list? Key Lime cheesecake. Trees caf√© is near my office, and my downfall every time. 


Thanks JC! For those who are keeping up with the baking side of things, here is a recipe for Key Lime Cheesecake thanks to Philadelphia Cheese. 

You can keep in touch with JC across social media:

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Join me next week when I will be having a slice of cake with indie author Joanne Van Leerdam, grilling them gently about their writing life and of course sharing their favourite cake.

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.


Claire Buss is a multi-genre writer and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Tuesday Poem - Slimming Down

I'm going on a diet I said
As I flumped down upon the bed
My spare tyre would fit on a monster truck
And whilst eating no cake will definitely suck
I cannot deny the higher number
That's made me feel so very sombre
Too much sugar, too much fat
Too much sitting around like a cat
Not enough veggies on my plate
Not paying attention to what I ate
Portion control is out of whack
Willpower is something I sadly lack
I have no time for messing about
No patience for having to constantly count
I can't afford shakes or meals pre-planned
I'm just going to have to make my own stand
Cutting down, making swaps, going without
It's going to be tough, I have no doubt
Hopefully this time I'm onto a winner
Next time you see me, I'll be a bit slimmer!





Sunday, 5 August 2018

I'm in Beta

My sequel, The Gaia Project, has gone to beta readers. I've been grumpy all week. My poor hubby. It doesn't help that he is also a beta reader and takes his very life into his own hands when making a comment about the book.

Because I can spit my dummy out to him. I can jump up and down and be all aggressive and defensive. Poor bloke. I would never do that to my other betas. All my fears and worries get locked in a trunk that is thrown to the bottom of the ocean and the key is melted in the fiery pits of Mordor. I accept their thoughts, comments and criticisms gracefully. 

It's all part of the process. I am in pieces waiting for the feedback. I don't want to know but I need to know what they think. Does it hang together? What if it doesn't hang together at all? Did they like the story arc? What if they hated the plot? Do they think I should have killed more characters? *spoilers* But seriously - what did you think? No! Don't tell me...

I think having your book beta read is a crucial rite of passage for a writer. Especially if you can convince fellow writers and not just avid readers to critique for you. Because those guys know the pain of writing a novel and then freely giving it to someone else to read. Initially, you're on cloud nine because you actually finished a draft and hey, it might not be the best draft in the world but you finished it. Then you fall into the pits of despair because you can barely string a sentence together and now you've given that tosh to someone else to read! Are you mad!

It's going to be a long month. 


Thursday, 2 August 2018

July's Book Reviews


Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie - 4 stars

Recap: this is the third book in the series following an ancillary who was ripped away from its ship and embroiled in a war waged by the leader of the empire, on herself.


Review: I read the first two books a while back and I was worried I wouldn't remember what happened but the recap moments in the book were excellent and also spaced out nicely so we didn't have an info dump. I really enjoyed the idea of allowing AIs to realise their own independence and I love the personalities ascribed to the various ships. The Translator was hilarious. In fact, there was much more humour in this book which I enjoyed. I also liked the ending, it was a resolution but also a beginning.





Inside Moves by Walter Danley - 3 stars

Recap: Garth Wainwright and his wife Lacey are involved in a horrific car accident. He barely survives, she is kidnapped and held hostage by a mob boss recently released from prison. Suffering from amnesia Wainwright has to try and piece his life together and find his wife.

Review: I read this book for a review round and I see that its book two in the series so that probably answers some of my questions about character backstory that the reader is expected to know. It's quite a gritty thriller, with an unexpected ending which really makes the book. The characters are a little one dimensional and the dialogue is at times rather wooden but I still wanted to know whether Wainwright would find his wife so the book definitely held my attention.



The Procurement of Souls by Benjamin Hope - 5 stars

Recap: Magnus Drinkwater, eminent scientist, and his daughter Clementine get embroiled in a mystifying missing persons case which leads them to discover a nefarious plot by the deranged Dr Weimar to harness souls for power.

Review: I really enjoyed reading this. The bad guys made me want to boo and hiss every time they came onto the page, so incredibly unlikeable. An excellent blend of Victorian beliefs and author imagination helps to create interesting and believable technology that has horrifying results. Wounds that should've been debilitating were (one of my pet hates when they're not) and there were some truly sad character deaths. A promising debut novel, looking forward to what comes next from this author.


Children of the Furnace by Brin Murray - 5 stars

Recap: Branded as a Heater, young Wil is taken to Ferule, the redukayshun centre. There, the devout try to break him but he survives and together with Leah and Jace discover a new truth about Sekkerland and the Heaters. 

Review: I loved it. I really enjoyed the setting, a world threatened by global warming where technology is only available to some and children are garrisoned for work duty and to became Watchmen. I thought the brutality was spot on. I liked the slight mis-spelling of certain words, made me feel more like I was in their world. I thought the main characters were well thought out and gave you someone to cheer for and someone to hate. I will definitely be reading the second book!


Fiefdom by Dan Abnett - 4 stars
Recap: The ice is melting and the Them are coming. Evelyn War must convince her alpha to join forces with another pack in order for the Aux to survive.

Review: I read this quicker than quick. Part of a larger universe but still easy enough to figure out what's happening. I loved the patois and the pack hierarchy, I haven't decided if they're part dog, part human or just devolved humans. You get sucked into the pack and mourn when characters die and hope for the survival of your favourites. A well written, easy read.







My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante - 3 stars

Recap: This is the story of Elena and Lila, the childhood years.

Review: An interesting insight into lower-class urban life in 1950s Italy. A little muddled in its timeline but it is the first in a series and there is no real resolution so you have to read the next book to find out what happens next. Someone described it to me as Italian Eastenders, an apt description. To paraphrase a fellow book clubber - when it was good, it was really good.







This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay - 5 stars

Recap: A series of journal entries from a junior doctor.

Review: Allow yourself plenty of time to sit down with this book because once you start you won't want to stop! With both parents working in the medical arena, much of this book involved me nodding vehemently in agreement. The anecdotes were highly amusing, the asides on his personal life sad but true for the profession. Some heartbreaking stories and an understandable end to a punishing career. And it wasn't too in your face about the NHS and the government, more like a gentle reminder that we must be aware of ensuring we keep what we have. As a mum of two, one planned and one emergency caesarean, the insights from his side of the operating table were fascinating. A recommended read.



The WAG and the Scoundrel - 3 stars

Recap: Still coping with the death of his husband, Gray is trying to figure out if he has feelings for Wil. Meanwhile, an ex-colleague gets pulled into an unusual case and comes to Gray for help. Between them, they uncover devious blackmail that has resulted in murder.

Review: I thought the emotional description of Gray coming to terms with his loss and the death of one of the dogs was very well done. The relationships felt natural and I enjoyed the writing style. I found the beginning a little confusing, it took me a while to sort out the storylines but I thought they were balanced. I don't usually read 'cozy' mysteries or romance so the book didn't really grip me. It's 3.5 stars.




The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell - 5 stars

Recap: Recently widowed, Elsie goes to live at her late husbands ancestral home only to discover a sinister past, creepy silent companions intent on revenge and an evil spirit.

Review: I think I had the collywobbles the entire way through the book. Wonderfully gothic and dark and creepy, making yourself question everything that happens at the same time the characters are. There are three separate timelines but it doesn't get confusing and adds to the mystery because you just want to know what happens next. Absolutely fantastic ending.




The Magician's Curse by Linda G Hill - 5 stars

Recap: Herman Anderson, nearly 18, meets a tall, handsome magician, accepts a job offer on the train and goes home with him. Stephen Dagmar, the tall, handsome magician is trying to break his families curse by impregnating the help. It gets more complicated.

Review: It helps that I had a long journey to read this book on so I didn't have to put it down. I found the sexual tension absolutely gripping and fantastically well written without being coarse or terribly cliche. A highly unusual girls name, a bizarre family curse, real magic hinted at, family secrets, a foul-mouthed spirit, a deranged pregnant lady all mixed up with a healthy dollop of sex - fantastic!



The Magician's Blood by Linda G Hill - 4 stars

Recap: Herman and Stephen continue to figure out their relationship in the light of his demonic powers and the complication of Nina.

Review: Maybe it was because I read book two straight after reading book one but it felt repetitive and that hardly anything was happening until about three-quarters of the way through and then bam! It all kicked off and that was fantastic. The prose has lost its delicious sexual tension from book one and moved into a darker, more violent sexual frenzy at times. I don't think I'll ever forgive Stephen for the Margaret incident. And that's a mark of great writing, getting so invested with the characters - feeling happy when they're happy and crying when they're sad. I will definitely be reading book three!




Claire Buss is a multi-genre writer and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find all her books on Amazon. Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop.