Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Book Sale

Friday, October 29th, 2010

EPIC just announced that my tales From Gundarland is a finalist in their annual contest.  To celebrate, I’mTFG award cover discounting the price 20% until Nov 15.  This discount, via coupon, applies to both print and ebook editions.  Here are the discount details:

Amazon Coupon code:RNTAJ4TB

Smashwords coupon: ST36K

Tales From Gundarland is an EPIC finalist!

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

This morning I got a message telling me that my collection of humorous stories and novellas is a finalist2011 ebookawardfinalist in the current EPIC competition.  Final results won’t be announced until mid-March.

New Tales From Gundarland Review

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Tales from The Gunderland is one of those books that could easily become a cult phenomenon. I really enjoyed the humor, which was sort of a cross between Hitchiker’sTFG award cover Guide to the Galaxy and Monty Python.  Each story was unique and self-contained, but still contributed to the “Gunderland Universe” as a whole.  My favorite is still Quinse’s retake on Romeo and Juliet. But seriously, who wouldn’t love a book with dwarfs, pirates, and aliens?

Hank Quense has created a collection I’d be proud to not only have on my shelf, but would definitely recommend to my friends. Anyone who enjoys off-beat humor should pick up this book. I’m looking forward to seeing more of his work.  Five bookmarks, for sure! ~Reviewed by Sherry Ficklin for Mind Fog Reviews!

An interview with Australian author Carol Hone

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Today, I’m interviewing Carol Hone about her debut book, Edge of Humanity

1) Can you give us a brief bio?

I’m a veterinarian who has an absorbing passion for writing. My family get my attention in between the manic phases of writing that I go through. I even pat them sometimes. Luckily they don’t seem to mind eating takeaway food and dodging the rolling balls of hair and feathers that accumulate in our house due to the sixteen or so pets we own.

2) Briefly, tell us about your books.

My first book, a novella called Edge of Humanity, came out on October 18th from Lyrical Press. It’s a fantasyEdge_of_Humanity300dpiwith elements of steam punk but also with a nod towards some science fictional ideas. My main aim in creating the milieu for this book was to use some of the almost-sciences that abound in our world and insert them into a magical world.

So herbology, acupuncture and the manipulation of the body’s aura all get a look-in. As does a made-up profession that you might call bio-mechanical magic.

Kara is the female protagonist of Edge of Humanity. She narrates the story through the filter of her own perceptions and memories and proves to be an unreliable narrator. After escaping from an airship she goes on a journey to find her parents, having been separated from them while a child. From the start, she has suspicions that her masters on the airship have done something dreadful to her and she is never quite sure that anything she remembers is true.

The story unfolds as a mystery and writing it taught me a lot about how to seed clues and hints throughout a story so that by the end, the reader should have an, ‘ah-hah!’ moment. If you don’t have one of those, I’m hoping for at least an, ‘Oh-h-h, I see,’ moment. Though it is listed as a fantasy romance, don’t expect the usual HEA or happily ever after ending.

3 ) How do you develop characters?  Settings? Plots?

I tend to grow such things organically. If I feel the need to write a story, I pay closer attention to everything around me. Radio, TV, books, what people talk about. Everything. Eventually something will grab me, and then one or two other aspects of life will sit up and beg for attention also. I subscribe to the idea that to make a good story you need to combine things in a way no one else has yet done. So it’s as if there is a critical mass of ideas.

4) Do you have specific technique to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Before I start a story I like to have clear in my head some of the pivotal plot points, who the main characters are, what the setting is, and a visual idea of the ending or a major scene near it. If I can see the action playing itself out in my head and get excited about it I know I’m heading the right way.

Whenever I get bogged down while writing I ruminate about the plot and I often set down on paper almost a synopsis of what should be happening. Though I don’t call it a synopsis because those things give me the heebie jeebies – which is a technical term for going insane.

5) What are your current projects?

At the moment I’m planning my steam punk-ish novel as well as thinking about rewriting a novel called Magience, which is set in the world of Edge of Humanity. Another novel, Needle Rain, that’s also set in this milieu, is going through the beta reading stages. In that story I used the Needle Masters who are acupuncture mages, as the pivotal profession. My three main characters commit terrible wrongs and then spend the rest of the story repairing the damage they’ve done.

6) Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

My website:

And also my site at my publisher, Lyrical Press:

14)What type of writing do you do?

I write dark fantasy mostly though I am trying to expand my genres. Steam punk with a dash of the excitement of urban fantasy is one of my near-future goals.

Photo on 2010-10-17 at 15.08 #27) What is the best thing about writing?

That you can do anything. Want to fly? In a novel you can. You can give your characters any ability you want to and then send them across continents and universes to retrieve the Sword of the Abyss that can command demons from the fiery depths of hell, or you can send them on a journey to the corner store for a cup of sugar. No one will want to read the latter, but you can write it.

8) Is there a specific time of day that you write?

Any time I get a chance to sit down without being interrupted. I do find I work best when the house is empty of other sentient beings, and that includes children.

9) Any parting words of advice for writers?

Doing some writing always helps. Thinking about it is only good if you’re sitting down and applying fingers to keyboards more than you’re thinking. Though I don’t believe in the write at all costs method, because that often produces drivel if you’ve not considered where you’re going with a story.

Don’t give in if you love what you’re doing.

Listen to those who criticise if they balance the good comments with the bad.

Always leave yourself open to learning but remember that some of those who comment on your writing may have no real knowledge of what they’re talking about. How to tell the useful comments from the ones that should be trashed? Ah, that is something you have to learn through experience, meditation, and repeatedly banging your head on your desk.

Radio Interviews Scheduled

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

I have two radio interviews scheduled this week to talk about my Tales From Gundarland.

The first is Monday 10/18 with Barbara Hodges on Robin Falls Kids Show-Let’s Talk.  The call-in number is (646) 595-4478TFG award cover

The second is with Rob Batista on The Funky Writer show, Thursday 10/21 at 8:00PM. The call-in number is 347-843-4784

A new TV show

Friday, September 24th, 2010

(From the Faux News Network)

Executives from a major studio announced the format of a new reality show along with a description of the first four episodes.   It will star Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan who will play themselves.

Episode one will show clips of the two ladies at various parties.  Live, the hostess will get the two to explain what was going on, who else was there and what they were snorting and drinking.

Episode two will feature clips from police files showing their arrests and bookings.  The girls, with the prompting of the host, will titillate us with insider jokes about the police stations, the jails, the cops, bail bondsmen and other aspects of the justice system.

Episode three will concentrate on court appearances.  Paris and Lindsey will demonstrate their acting skills by showing remorse, anger, irritability, sorrow, nonchalance, and others.

Episode four will talk about their appearances, or absences, at community service activities.  The ladies will regale us with anecdotes from their work while fim clips are shown.

Additional episodes are under development.  The executive producer, Mario Shwartzheimer, gave this statement: “This isn’t a reality show, it’s the first unreality show.”

A Freebie!

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

I’ve put together a sampler, Humorous Yarns and Other Stuff.  It contains a number of my stories and parts of novels.  It was put together as a sampler for those not familiar with my writing and my weird sense of humor.  I challenge you to read these stories and selections without laughing.

You can download it in a number of formats from Smashwords without charge.  Use this link:

Please pass it on to others when you’re done with it.

Sampler cover

Tales from Gundarland

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

Tales from Gundarland won a medal in the Readers Favorite competition in the scifi/fantasy category.  It’s also picked up three rave reviews.  Read the press release:

For a list of sellers go here:


A Battle Won by S. Thomas Russel

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Another book about the British navy and its battles against Napoleon’ French navy. The action takes place in the Mediterranean around Toulon and Corsica.  The main character is a British officer named Hayden who commands a frigate that saw a mutiny against its former captain.  Hayden was an officer on that ship, but not part of the mutiny, but his name is now linked to infamy in the British navy.  This is a good yarn with lots of action and it leaves off with the promise of much more to come in future books.  My only gripe with this book is two very long scenes that have nothing to do with the story.  One is with Hayden attending a Shakespeare play and the second involves a golf game on Gibraltar.  Both scenes stop the story and go on seemingly forever. This book would rate three stars without those scenes.  Two stars.

Wastelander Author Interview

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Manda Bensen, a British author, talks about her latest book, Wastelander.

How did this story come about?  Did a newspaper or TV story trigger the process?

When I was a kid I was remember watching the binmen through the window. They came every9780956608000 week and emptied all the mess I’d made out of my parents’ dustbin, squished it flat in a machine, and took it away in a process that to me seemed almost magical. The bin lorry (I think it’s called a garbage truck or something else in America) always had ‘Dennis’ written on its front grille. I didn’t understand at the time that Dennis was the name of the company that manufactured them — I thought it was the name the binmen had given their lorry. The place the bin lorry went was the Rubbish Tip, or so my parents told me.

So, as an adult I wondered if writing a story about where our rubbish goes would interest children. I had the idea of a clan of Viking warriors living in the rubbish tip amongst all the mucky things we discarded, and it occurred to me that these people would probably find what we would call worthless and disgusting valuable and delicious.

Who did the drawings?

I did. Those familiar with my other work may see a resemblance between these and my HyperGolf illustrations.

Are there any lessons for children to get from the book?

It’s meant to be just a fun coming-of-age adventure story about a boy who gets lost and has to find his way back to his people through the trials and strangeness of our own world. On its simplest level, I’d just like people to enjoy reading it for its silliness. On the other hand, it would be nice if it could get kids thinking about what happens to our rubbish and to be a bit more careful not to waste stuff. I also hope Lenny’s story of survival and self-reliance encourages children.

Is there a moral to the story?

Lenny succeeds through courage and perseverance plus a little help from friends, but other than that, not really. I think it’s more important to tell a funny story that will entertain children and encourage them to read, rather than bother with stuff like this.

What’s next?

MandaThe next story I’ll be publishing through Tangentrine Ltd is also for children and it’s called ‘The Weatherman’s Niece’. It’s a sort of humorous antifairytale about climate change. It’s not out until the 10th of October but you can preorder it from Amazon UK or read more about it at