Monthly Archives: May 2015

Writing about Fighting: Practice and Exercise

Every day is a school day…

With Pen and Sword


You must be asking yourself what this fourteen year old ballerina has to do with martial arts, fighting, and history?

In fact, I suspect that almost everyone who swings a sword or reenacts can stop reading.  I suspect that everyone trained in any sport or physical art can look at this young woman, and guess what today’s blog is about, and what I’m going to say.

By the way, this is Miss Hannah Lowe of Toronto.  She is a passable Italian longswordswoman, and an effective arming sword fighter as well.  And from her (and her brother Hamish, who is currently enrolled in the National Ballet School) I learned some dramatic and important–in in some cases, disheartening–lessons about history, and about fighting.

Hannah has been dancing since she was three years old.  By fourteen, she has reached a stunning level of proficiency; if you saw her dance the role of the…

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Robin Carter (Parmenion) Guest Blog

Feel odd re blogging this…. but if it makes you come and read Christians other stuff… then all good. Thank you for asking me to do this Chris, scary, humbling… and also made me do something new.

With Pen and Sword

7c4d673d-9935-44cd-988f-c72e753dba9c Robin Carter AKA Parmenion

Why Historical fiction?
My journey to become a reader of Historical Fiction is one that started firmly rooted in Fantasy.
My early reading of series such as Narnia (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe etc.) began my exploits in all things magical, before I entered the teenage wasteland and stopped reading for a few years, wasted years now from a reading perspective, but enjoyable ones none the less.

When I became a single parent aged 19 I found myself with time, more time than I wanted, my days were taken running from here to there with all the tasks that small babies create. But evenings could have become couch potato TV heaven. Instead I turned back to the library. Here I found a new set of friends, David Gemmell, Tad Williams, Julian May and many others.


Within a space of months I found myself…

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Sarah Lotz : Day Four (Review)

Sarah Lotz

South Africa
aka S L Grey, Lily Herne, Helena S Paige

Sarah Lotz is a screenwriter and novelist who pens urban horror novels under the name S.L Grey with author Louis Greenberg, YA zombie novels with her daughter, as Lily Herne, and is one third of pseudonymous erotica author Helena S. Paige. She lives in Cape Town with her family and other animals.

Book Description

Day Four

The trip of their dreams becomes the holiday of their nightmares: DAY FOUR is Sarah Lotz’s extraordinary, unmissable follow-up to the book that made headlines around the world, THE THREE – perfect for fans of The Shining Girls, The Passage and Lost. Four days into a five day singles cruise on the Gulf of Mexico, the ageing ship Beautiful Dreamer stops dead in the water. With no electricity and no cellular signals, the passengers and crew have no way to call for help. But everyone is certain that rescue teams will come looking for them soon. All they have to do is wait. That is, until the toilets stop working and the food begins to run out. When the body of a woman is discovered in her cabin the passengers start to panic. There’s a murderer on board the Beautiful Dreamer…and maybe something worse.


Day Four is certainly not my normal reading fare, I’m not a fan of horror flicks and tend to avoid the sort of program that messes with your head. But Three was such a good book that it broke the mold for this genre, for me it sits somewhere between supernatural and thriller. Day Four didn’t disappoint and yet its a very different novel… i think the title lends the appearance of a sequel… it is in only the most tenuous way.

The plot is set aboard the Beautiful Dreamer, a budget cruise ship which gets stranded at sea. The story unfolds amidst the drama of various groups coping with the uncertainty of a bleak open calm sea and no sign of rescue, coupled with  day after day of banal updates from “Damien” the crew director. Updates designed to keep passengers mollified but seem to just confirm that they are not going to be rescued. As conditions grow increasingly more rank and odorous, the passengers grow more and more desperate and order breaks down. Couple this with the desperate passengers who become more and more spooked by inexplicable shadowy figures and a distinctly fake showbiz medium suddenly gaining a habit of accurate predictions.

Day Four isn’t a lovable book, the passengers in general are what we all despise in modern society, the idle, the privileged over entitled middle class basting themselves in the sun, treating staff like serfs. When things go wrong and people are left to fend for themselves its all lord of the flies… and with the volume of poop…lots of flies. There is room in this carnage however for some very insightful engaging characters some engaging personalities among all the detritus of humanity.  This is a book of clever description that plays out in the mind of the reader, the rank smells and dire straights that crew and passenger alike are in, seeps off the page, such is the skill of the writer.
I recommend it as a read, its not The Three… its different… good different though.
New Books
The Three (2014)
Day Four (2015)
Pompidou Posse (2015)
Dark Harvest (2014) (with Toby Bennett, Amy Lee Burgess, Autumn Christian, Sonya Clark, Carrie Clevenger, Nerine Dorman, Rab Swannock Fulton, D C Petterson, Anna Reith, Liz Strange and Donn Webb)
SL Grey
The Mall (2011)
The Ward (2012)
The New Girl (2013)
Underground (2015)
House Swap (2016)
The Lowest Heaven (2013) (with Archie Black, David Bryher, Jon Courtenay-Grimwood, Maria Dahvana Headley, Kameron Hurley, Sophia McDougall, Simon Morden, Mark Charan Newton, Alastair Reynolds, Adam Roberts, Esther Saxey, Jared Shurin, E J Swift, Lavie Tidhar and Kaaron Warren)

Lily Herne

1. Deadlands (2013)
2. Death of a Saint (2013)
3. The Army Of The Lost (2014)
Ash Remains (2016)
Helena S Paige
A Girl Walks Into a Bar (2013)
A Girl Walks Into a Wedding (2013)
A Girl Walks into a Blind Date (2014)

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Nick Louth: Bite (Blog Tour Review)

After graduating from the London School of Economics in 1979, Nick Louth was City Editor of Prestel CitiService before joining Reuters in 1987.

During 12 years working for Reuters, Nick Louth worked in New York, Amsterdam, London and Hong Kong. His articles have appeared in many of the world’s major newspapers, from USA Today to the Wall Street Journal. He has interviewed some of the world’s most powerful executives, from Microsoft’s Bill Gates to Jack Welch of General Electric, and he has appeared on Reuters Television, BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service.

Freelance since 1998, Nick has written for the Financial Times, Investors Chronicle, and MSN. Multiply Your Money, Nick Louth’s UK savings and investment guide was published by McGraw Hill in November 2001, the three volumes of the Bernard Jones Diaries in 2007/8 by Harriman House, and a best-selling thriller, Bite, in 2007. His Investor’s Chronicle Piece ‘Making Sense of Chaos’ was the 2013 article of the year for the UK Chartered Financial Analysts society..

Author web site


Book Description


Tomorrow should be the greatest day of Erica Stroud-Jones’s life. In just 24 hours this brilliant young scientist will present her secret work to a conference in Amsterdam – research that promises to revolutionise the battle against a deadly tropical disease. Millions of lives could be saved; a Nobel Prize beckons.

Arriving to watch her are sceptics and rivals, admirers and enemies. Erica’s own eyes will be on sculptor Max Carver, her American new love to whom she will dedicate her achievement.

Tomorrow never comes.

Erica vanishes during the night. Max, desperate, terrified, sets out to find her, descending into an underworld full of malice and cunning. But even he is shocked by the dark terror he finds in the heart of the woman he loves.


Its always nice to be involved in an authors blog tour. It helps though if the book has been fun, and in this case it was…. fun in that it left me with the itch you get from books about insects, the scratch of the bite, the paranoia from the potential for illness. It reminded me a little of Robin Cooks Outbreak, it gave that same paranoid feeling. But the book then has another surprising edge, a criminal tale, a war zone, a tale of revenge and a tale of love twisted by time and circumstance.  I’ve not read anything by this author before but have to admit to being very surprised by how much he packed into what on first glance appeared a simplistic thriller.

The timeslip element keeps the reader on tenterhooks throughout, pulling you along from one scene to the next, constantly wanting to jump forward or back in time. The characters are well drawn, there are no super heroes here, Max our main character barely escapes a scene without injury, and despite the billing Erica only really exists in the past, the female in the present has just as many skeletons in her closet, and Nick Louth teases them out like a pro.

This thriller is more than a poolside make weight, its deserves some reading. (in fact i wouldn’t read it anywhere you need to wear mossie spray)




Bernard Jones diaries
1. The Funny Money (2007)
2. Bernard Jones and the Temple of Mammon (2007)
3. Dunces with Wolves (2008)
Bite: The Most Gripping Thriller You Will Ever Read (2007)
Heartbreaker: Love, secrets and terror (2014)
Non fiction
Multiply Your Money: The Easy Guide to Savings and Investments (2001)

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