Nick Spalding – The Cornerstone

Title: The Cornerstone

Author: Nick Spalding

ISBN: 978-1-4580-4394-8

Page count: Ebook

Genre: Fantasy

Price: $2.99 / £1.99

 

Author Bio:

Nick Spalding is a writer who has thus far made his living as a copywriter for a marketing company. As talking rubbish for a living can get tiresome (for anyone other than a politician), he also writes fiction on the side, hoping to be an author full-time one day.

Nick lives in the South of England in a three bed house… which is cleaner than you’d expect for a single, heterosexual male. He suffers from insomnia now and again and is deathly afraid of sponges.

Nick also once had sex with a stripper at an AC/DC concert. This has nothing to do with his career as an author, he just likes to tell everyone.

 

Tell us about your book:

A great book will transport you to another world… literally, if you’re not careful.

On a gloomy Thursday afternoon, Max Bloom enters his local library in a last ditch attempt to stave off an epic case of teenage boredom.

Among the hushed stacks he discovers The Cornerstone – an ancient book tucked away on a dusty, forgotten shelf. Opening the cover, Max is torn from the library into an alternate dimension full of things intent on killing him – thus avoiding boredom with remarkable success.

He meets a beautiful girl called Merelie (brilliant), who tells him he’s the only one that can save both their worlds from the Dwellers – hideous mind sucking creatures from beyond the universe (not so brilliant).

Merelie thinks Max could be a Wordsmith, a sorcerer able to craft magic from the written word itself – one powerful enough to stop the Dwellers and their treacherous human allies.

This all sounds completely unbelievable, of course. The kind of thing you’d read in a fantasy novel… but The Cornerstone doesn’t lie – and the danger is very real.

In a world threatened by monsters, where books are worshipped and magic exists, Max Bloom must make a choice: close The Cornerstone and run home – or trust Merelie, become a Wordsmith, and save two worlds from certain destruction…

 

How long did it take to write the book?

About a month for the first draft and another month for subsequent ones.

 

What inspired you to write the book?

One drizzly, dull Thursday afternoon I was off work and had a whole lot of nothing to do. Having exhausted the entertainment possibilities of daytime television, I thought I’d pop to the local library to kill an hour or so – and maybe find a good book to while away my time with.

As I was browsing the somewhat dubious selection on offer, I pulled out a novel that looked like it had a particularly exciting cover and flicked through the first few chapters. About twenty pages in, I saw this epithet written in pencil in the margin: ‘This book is terrible. Stop reading it now.’ I took this advice, deciding that if somebody had taken the time to put such a warning in the book, it was probably worth paying attention to – and I put the novel back on the shelf.

I left the library bookless in the end, but that pencilled note in the margin stayed with me – and started me thinking… what if it hadn’t been a random message about the book’s quality, but a cry for help from a stranger? How would I have reacted to that? Would I have taken it seriously? And if so, what would I have done about it? These questions formed the basis for the opening of The Cornerstone. I had no idea where the story would go, but I wanted to put a character in my imagined scenario and find out what would happen to him.

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

For this one I’d write mostly early evenings after work for a couple of hours at a time. No up front research, but during follow on drafts I’d research things to make sure they were accurate.

 

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

A smile on their face from reading a fun adventure story J

 

Where can we go to buy your book?

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Cornerstone/dp/B00520I8V6

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/The-Cornerstone-ebook/dp/B00520I8V6

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/61249

 

Any other links or info you’d like to share?

My Blog: http://spaldings-racket.blogspot.com/

 

Excerpt from book:

At first glance it looked like a perfectly ordinary book.

At second glance it continued to do so.

It was old and looked worn around the edges. About ten inches high, an inch thick and with no dust jacket, the book was a rich dark green colour that still retained its lustre, despite the apparent age.

Picked out in silver writing down the spine was the title:

 

The Cornerstone.

 

All fairly standard stuff, though this book did depart from its fellows in one major respect:

It was singing.

The Cornerstone was the source of the choral sound that currently held Max in its firm embrace.

He knelt in front of the bookshelf as the choir ratcheted up the volume even higher. The small part of his brain that was able to function screamed at Max to get away from the horrible singing book and this awful bloody library. He couldn’t move a muscle though, totally transfixed as he was by the powerful song.

A glorious silver light began to emanate from the book, pulsing with the rising and falling cadence of the choir.

It started to flash like a beacon, causing a dark after-image to swim across his field of vision every time it faded. Max wasn’t sure if it was really there, or if oxygen starvation was making him hallucinate, but it was beautiful and terrible all the same.

In a final desperate bid for survival, Max’s brain piped up:

‘Oi! We’re going to die here! Do something!’

He wiped dribble from his slack mouth and reached out an arm that weighed a ton towards The Cornerstone.

The effort was monumental. His head pounded, his chest heaved and his entire body shook, as if the temperature had plunged thirty degrees.

Max’s finger tips brushed the C of Cornerstone and the spell was instantly broken. The choir, silver light and intense pressure on his body disappeared.

He groaned and fell forward, reaching out a hand to steady himself against the bookshelf, breathing in long, deep gasps of air.

Max looked around to see if anyone had noticed what had happened, but nobody was paying any attention. In fact, he could only see one tall man in a raincoat, standing in the fantasy section reading the back cover of a thick novel – part two of a five part series. This guy didn’t look like he’d just been put through the wringer, so Max supposed the phenomenon must have once again affected only him.

He turned back to The Cornerstone, which now contrived to look no different to the other books it sat on the shelf with.

Three options presented themselves at this point:

One: Decide he was suffering from some hideous affliction that caused massive hallucinations, both visual and auditory – a tumour of some kind, possibly. Seek medical help immediately.

Two: Pretend none of this had happened. Go home and have some tea.

Three: Pick up the book.

The first option was the most sensible, the second was the easiest and the third had the potential to cause serious physical harm.

There are certain types of people in this world that when presented with a big red button will have a strong desire to press it, even if there’s a sign saying: Do not press this button.

If they press it and consequently receive a painful and debilitating electric shock, they sure as hell won’t be pressing that button again.

That’s not Max, unfortunately.

He’s the type of person who’ll press the button again to see if the same thing happens every time.

Reaching out a tentative hand, he shut his eyes and grimaced as his fingers came into contact with The Cornerstone…

 

Nothing.

Nada. Niet. Zip. Zilch. Sweet FA.

He poked the book aggressively a couple of times, but this didn’t provoke a response either.

This is where I pull it out and the universe explodes.

Max pulled out The Cornerstone.

The universe remained resolutely unexploded.

Holding it his hand, he couldn’t believe this thing had nearly sucked the life out of him. It looked… well, boring.

Max’s grandfather Charlie was a prodigious reader and had a book collection in the thousands; some bought in shops, others picked up second-hand from numerous car boot sales. His entire house was taken over by sturdy chestnut bookcases crammed full of hardbacks and paperbacks. It was probably a better collection than the one at Farefield library.

One amazing find at a jumble sale had been an entire series of classic novels – including a few Jane Austens and a smattering of Charles Dickens – printed in the early part of the 20th century.

The set had been priced at £10, which Max’s grandfather had thought obscenely cheap. He’d bought them all with barely concealed glee and made them pride of place on one of his enormous bookcases back home.

Max had been bored out of his brains many times in Charlie’s house while his mum made small talk with her father. He’d always end up idly scanning the bookshelves and had looked at the novels in the collection a number of times, very glad nobody was forcing him to read one.

The Cornerstone looked similar: Plain, dusty and about as exciting as a wet weekend in Bognor.

The title was embossed in silver on the front cover, but there were no pictures or illustrations, so nothing gave away what was inside.

The spine was broken, worn and covered in scuff marks, as if the book had been kicked around and treated in a careless fashion.

It looked rather unremarkable on the whole.

…it wasn’t glowing or singing, for instance.

Very carefully, Max cracked open The Cornerstone, holding it like a bomb about to go off.

The pages felt similar to the crumpled note in his pocket. They had that same silky quality and felt equally odd to the touch.

The actual contents were strange as well.

There was no library insert to be stamped when the book was borrowed. In fact, there was no indication this was a library book at all.

Flipping the page, there were no publishing details to be seen either. Nothing about copyright, reprint dates, or what other excellent titles may be available from the same author.

This book had none of that, just:

 

House of Carvallen

 

…written at the top of the page.

There was no information about the author either. Not even a name.

Max thought it strange that The Cornerstone gave no indication who’d written it. He guessed they’d wanted to remain anonymous in an attempt to create an air of mystery.

The title was printed again on the third page, and at the top of the fifth it said:

– 1 –

 

Max started to read, eager to see what this book was about:

 

It was, for all intents and purposes, the perfect day to visit the library.

A sullen, overcast October afternoon, it was the kind of day the word listless seemed invented to describe – until you remembered somebody had also thought up charmless, which was even more appropriate.

It was drizzling.

The constant, sticky kind that’s good at getting under the collar and giving anyone foolish enough to venture outside a wet neck for their trouble.

You’d think all hope and joy had been banished from the world on a grey afternoon like this – if you were in a melodramatic frame of mind, that is.

 

That’s weird.

How big a coincidence was it that the book started on a day similar to this one and featured a library?

He continued:

 

Max Bloom was just plain bored as he reached the town centre, having been forced out of the house by his irate mother.

The town was Farefield, which nestled on the south coast of England between two major cities, and suffered from an inferiority complex because of it.

Oh, and it was a Thursday.

This doesn’t have any bearing on the events about to unfold, but the devil is always in the details if you look hard enough.

 

Max had heard of books where the reader identified with the main character, but this was ridiculous.

He read down the page, getting more and more freaked out as he did.

It was about him. It was about today.

Everything was in here: going into the library, finding the note in Clive Bonnet’s book, losing his keys, collapsing when the choir broke into song.

There were also events from Max’s past, like when his stupid sister had broken his copy of God of War.

Most disturbing, there were private things about him written here that nobody else could know.

Even what he was thinking was laid out in front of him on the page, as if somebody was reading his mind at every turn.

All that had occurred in the last hour or so was captured in detail. Whoever the author was, Max didn’t like they way they handled the story. The whole thing was done in a cheerful, flippant tone that Max didn’t think took the situation anywhere seriously enough.

This was his life being turned upside down on this increasingly weird Thursday afternoon and it should be treated with a bit more respect, damn it.

With mounting terror, he got to a paragraph that read:

 

Reaching out a tentative hand, he shut his eyes and grimaced as his fingers came into contact with The Cornerstone…

 

Nothing.

Nada. Niet. Zip. Zilch. Sweet FA.

He poked the book  aggressively a couple of times, but this didn’t provoke a response either.

This is where I pull it out and the universe explodes.

Max pulled out The Cornerstone.

The universe remained resolutely unexploded.

 

This was describing what he’d done mere moments ago.

He was reading a book that was describing itself being picked up and read by Max Bloom, who was reading a book that was describing itself being picked up and read by Max Bloom…

A wave of vertigo washed over him and he slammed The Cornerstone shut, sitting back with his eyes closed.

Was that written down as well?

What had just happened?

Did it outline Max reading a passage from the book, being overcome by vertigo, shutting the cover and sitting back with his eyes closed? He bet it did.

What would happen if he read to where now was being described? Could he carry on and see his own future?

The book was a big, red button and Max had to press it again.

He opened The Cornerstone where he’d left off and read down the page, eventually getting to this sentence:

 

He opened The Cornerstone where he’d left off, and read down the page, eventually getting to this sentence:

He opened The Cornerstone where he’d left off, and read down the page, eventually getting to this sentence:

 

At this point, the universe exploded.

 

…well it didn’t, but Max could be forgiven for thinking so.

He was engulfed by a blinding silver light and an enormous rushing sound – as if the ethereal choir had collectively realised they’d left the gas on at home and were hurrying out of the church to go check.

He felt an unpleasant fluttering sensation in his stomach and was pulled violently forward from the centre of his chest, as if some cosmic angler had hooked him and was reeling in.

Max threw his arms out to cushion the impact with the bookshelf.

No collision came however. He felt himself propelled further forward, way beyond the confines of the library and out into some unfathomably large space.

 

After a few moments of disorientation, the blinding light faded and Max’s rapid forward movement slowed, giving him the chance to catch his breath, recover his shattered wits and look around.

The dark space he floated in wasn’t black like the night sky, but a deep, loathsome shade of purple, like a fresh, painful bruise.

Around him, the atmosphere writhed and boiled, making him feel sick. It was like being surrounded by some vast living organism that twisted and turned in this nightmarish void.

The word digestion drifted through Max’s head, which didn’t help matters one bit.

The silence was oppressive. The only sound he could hear was his own shallow breathing.

‘Hello?’ he ventured.

There was no response, but he could have sworn the purple stuff started to squirm around a bit quicker.

‘Is there anybody there?’

The writhing mass definitely reacted to this.

Max wasn’t a genius, but was smart enough to know that if you found yourself thrust out of reality into a strange alien environment, it probably wasn’t a good idea to go around shouting your mouth off. You had no idea who, or what, might be listening.

This led to the uncomfortable feeling that he was being watched.

As if on cue, the boiling mass around him started to coalesce into heads and bodies.

…not human ones, either.

There were definitely eyes in there, though.

And worse – teeth.

Abject terror was now the order of the day and Max – by nature an agnostic sort – started to pray like mad.

These hastily prepared pleas were thankfully answered and he was pushed further on into the purple sea, away from the amorphous creatures. His speed increased again and purple space quickly gave way to total darkness.

The choir – having discovered that the oven was in fact off – returned and began a deep, rumbling note that would have rattled the fillings in Max’s teeth if he’d had any.

I’m really not sure how much more of this I can take…

The blinding silver light engulfed him again and Max was thrust forward at an incredible rate.

Lacking anything more constructive to do, he decided screaming might be a good idea.

As he gave his lungs a good workout, the sound and light show came to a sudden end, indicating the journey was over.

This was just as well, because Max was approaching the point of projectile vomiting and was about to end up very far from the nearest washing machine.

 

Vision and hearing returned. Max found himself sat with The Cornerstone open in front of him, just as he had been.

He wasn’t in Farefield public library anymore though, that was for certain…

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Michael David – Banana Patch

Title: Banana Patch

Author: Michael David

ISBN: 978-0-7443-1795-4

Page count: 197

Genre: Fiction/New Age/Religion & Spirituality

Price: $15.99 at www.synergebooks.com

 

Author Bio:

Please see under author @ www.synergebooks.com/meet the authors, Michael David

 

Tell us about your book:

It is fiction based on a true story about when the author lived on the island of Maui, in a place called Banana Patch in 1971.  It speaks to his spiritual transformation into the priesthood of yoga and meditation.  The book is character driven with good interactive dialogue.  You can visit www.synergebooks.com and look up author Michael David, me.  Banana Patch is in both CD and paperback version at this website.

 

How long did it take to write the book?

Two years or so

 

What inspired you to write the book?

It’s probably who inspired me to write this novel: Ram Dass/Ravi Dass/ Yogananda/Neem Karoli Baba, e.g., Handi Walla Baba/Meher Baba; and then I became a Kriyaban in 1997.  Oh yeah, and living in Banana Patch in 1971.

 

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

I was involved with the Self-Realization Fellowship at the time, doing their 3 ½ year study program towards becoming a Kriyaban/meditating intensely and often, and the inspiration for Banana Patch just came and the words just seem to flow from within me onto the page

 

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

Meditative practices toward illumination/opening of the spiritual eye/wisdom/enjoyment/ Love & Peace/importance of the Guru/chela relationship

 

Where can we go to buy your book?

www.synergebooks.com

 

Any other links or info you’d like to share?
If you Google author Michael David & Banana Patch, you will be led to any number of links and/or sites

 

Excerpt from book:

Go to the website www.synergebooks.com and look up author Michael David, it will take you two my two novels and the excerpts are there from Banana Patch:

“My fate I had placed in the hands of the Gods.  How scary and yet how timorously but magically liberating!  For the first time in my young adult life, I would be getting to know what it was really like to live in the present moment, in the here and now, from day to day, from meal to meal, always wondering in awe and in anxious anticipation – what would happen next?

I kept thinking of that line from one of Bob Dylan’s songs, ‘Like a Rolling Stone,’ when he sings, ‘When you got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose, you’re invisible now you got no secrets to conceal.  How does it feel?’  And that about summed up my untenable, homeless predicament.

But make no mistake, I had chosen homelessness and a life of material poverty because I could.  I was well aware of the fact that most of the world’s population had no such choice; they were born into poverty and were forced to make do with the cards that life had dealt them.”

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M L Sawyer – Quest of the Demon

Title: Quest of the Demon

Author: M L Sawyer

ISBN: 978-1-4580-9236-6

Page count: 277 in print

Genre: Y A Fantasy

Price: ebook $3.99, print $30AUD

 

Author Bio:

Born in Bendigo, Victoria, M L Sawyer moved to the country town of Seymour where she spent all of her primary and secondary years before moving to Melbourne to complete a Bachelor of Tourism Management at RMIT. She then moved into the Student Accommodation Sector, working with international students.

She has been writing ever since she can remember, and was a national finalist in the Aus Con Sci-Fi Writing competition in 1999. Quest of the Demon began in 1996 when a short story took on a life of its own to become the genesis of an epic fantasy saga.

 

Tell us about your book:

Darci is a popular sixteen-year-old girl who plays basketball and lives in an ordinary country town. But her life is changed forever when she is accidentally transported to the land of Nahaba by a young apprentice wizard called Taslessian.

Within hours of her unexpected arrival, both teens are thrust into a dangerous journey to the cave of Grisham the Great in the hope that he would be able to send her home.

Upon reaching the cave, however, Darci quickly discovers that there is no such thing as accidents, and that their journey is only just beginning.

 

How long did it take to write the book?

All up, 14 years.  I started when I was 14y.o in Highschool.  I had quite a few knock backs over the years by publishers but finally ended up releasing in 2011.

 

What inspired you to write the book?

I really enjoyed fantasy novels.  I read all the books in my home town library as well as my highschool library so I decided to write my own.

 

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

No routine.  I write when it comes and work full time to keep the bills and mortgage paid.  My notebook travels around with me everywhere.

 

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

A satisfied sense of an adventure had with the urge to read more.  I want to take them away from what they’re doing into my world.

 

Where can we go to buy your book?

E-book is available from www.smashwords.com, print book is available direct from my website www.mlsawyer.com.au, www.equilibriumbooks.com.au and through direct order from independent book stores in Australia.

 

Any other links or info you’d like to share?
Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something – this you need to find out for yourself and at least try to have some fun along the way.  (Check out my youtube video for Quest of the Demon– at least I had fun with it!)

 

Excerpt from book:

Darci physically jumped back, gasping for air. For a fleeting moment she had seen into the thing inside her mind, somehow connected with the twisted presence of Domati.

What she had seen terrified her. Eyes open and head cleared, she looked at the shadow and shivered. What would something so evil and twisted want with her?

“You know that I am more powerful than you, wizard,” the shadow growled. “If you don’t get out of my way I will destroy you.” Tension filled the air as silence fell. Even the birds in the trees and the wind in the air appeared to be awaiting Belderon’s next move.

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