Friday, February 22, 2013

The Big Grey Man of Ben MacDui from The Prince of Earth by Mike Robinson

Today I welcome horror author Mike Robinson. He tells us the story of The Big Grey Man of Ben MacDui, the Scottish legend behind The Prince of Earth. But first, a little bit about The Prince of Earth, available now on Amazon.

In 1988, young American traveler Quincy Redding is trekking across the misty terrain of the Scottish Highlands. She is destined for the infamous peak Ben MacDui, the summit of which soon finds her inexplicably debilitated and at the mercy of a malevolent entity.

The book spans twenty years, alternately following Quincy in her 1988 ordeal in Scotland as well as Quincy in 2008, when, as an adult, she begins experiencing abnormalities that threaten her family and her life – phenomena that may be related to what happened all those years ago.

As both older and younger Quincy learn more of their situation, and as their worlds further entwine, she becomes increasingly uncertain of the perceived temporality or reality of each period.


The Big Grey Man of Ben MacDui



In December 1925, respected mountaineer and climber Professor Norman Collie stood before an annual general meeting of the Cairngorm Club in Aberdeen, Scotland. Staring out over the expectant faces, he took a breath, preparing to impart an astonishing account, a personal incident that had happened over thirty years ago, in 1891, though the years had not lessened its ghastly clarity.

“I’d reached the summit of Ben MacDui,” he said, referring to the peak that, at just over 4,000 feet, marks the highest point in the Cairngorms, and the second highest in Scotland. “Coming down through heavy mist, I began to think I heard something else other than the noise of my own footsteps. For every few steps I heard a crunch, crunch, and then another crunch, as if someone was walking after me but taking steps three or four times the length of my own.”
As though caught in a fire, Quincy kept her perspective low as she scanned the diminishing area about her. Then she saw it: in an interstice of earth, thinly fog-dressed, a foot lifted from the cigar- brown grass and disappeared into the higher, thicker realms of murk.


On instinct she started crawling fast towards the apparition, unimpeded by the monstrous proportion of that foot, which seemed the length of her forearm from elbow to middle fingernail.
-- from The Prince of Earth
Collie had turned, his alleged pursuer concealed in mist. “The eerie crunch, crunch sounded behind me,” he continued, “and I was seized with terror and took to my heels, staggering blindly among the boulders for four or five miles.” Winding down his address, Professor Collie made a promise to never return alone to MacDui, as “there was something very queer about the top.”

This well-documented account, featured in Karl Shuker’s The Unexplained: An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Natural and Paranormal Mysteries, slots neatly amongst many others of climbers or hikers, local or non, who’ve described a frightening variety of odd activity atop Ben MacDui, from wafting strains of phantom music or laughter, to footsteps reminiscent of those noted by Professor Collie, to the talon-footed, pointy-eared humanoid entity of impossible height spotted in the mist by mountaineer Tom Crowley, in the 1920s. Technically, this latter sighting occurred in the neighboring peak Braeraich, but by proximity is lumped into MacDui’s canon of strangeness.

Most of these stories involve fits of panic. Some are just the panic: several climbers, scrambling amongst the mist-frosted stones, have nearly plunged themselves to their deaths in frantic attempts to elude an unseen, unheard presence they intuit as malign.
Quincy turned again in the direction from which the deer had come but there was nothing. Or the appearance of nothing -- the trees were apt conspirators. She understood the phenomenon of panicking in the woods -- the arresting terror of an unknown source because it twitched in her now, as it had in the deer. -- from The Prince of Earth
It is not surprising, given the testimony, that a certain lore has coalesced around Ben MacDui, that of the aptly-termed Big Grey Man, or, more locally, Am Fear Liath Mor. By now the place and its enigmatic inhabitant have garnered a reputation such that any new encounter, depending upon severity, might be chalked up to suggestion. Indeed, one of the more grounded explanations for the Big Grey Man is the climber’s shadow, reflected and elongated upon the mist. The imagination, after all, does enjoy a blank canvas. Yet that doesn’t explain the phantom music, laughter, footfalls or fits of inexplicable trepidation, much of which have come from experienced climbers.

As to be expected with any mystery, there is a lengthy scroll of other, more spectacular theories, from that of a Scottish Yeti, to a guardian spirit, to a marooned alien, to an interdimensional traveler.

The novel The Prince of Earth, however, offers quite a different explanation.
"So, then what's the story?"

"It's being written," said the man. "It's a myth-in-progress, wet and alive, not the dried text of a thousand years ago. The story is still coming. The story is growing and will be ready for generations down the line."

"So, I could be a chapter," said Quincy. "In an unfolding myth."

"Precisely." The man extended his hand, which swallowed hers as they shook.

-- from The Prince of Earth

The Prince of Earth draws from a range of Scottish myths, including the boobrie, a massive bird said to haunt lochs and salt wells, as well as the Shellycoat, a bogeyman dwelling in rivers and streams, whose presence is betrayed by the rattling of its shell-covered body.


Oooo, very intriguing! Thank you for stopping by, Mike!

Also check out Mike Robinson's other works, The Green-Eyed Monster & Skunk Ape Semester. And you can find him at Cryptopia Blog.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Why I Chose A Small Publisher by Charity Bradford

Today, I am very pleased to present a guest post by Charity Bradford, the author of The Magic Wakes. Charity shares part of the story of how and why she published with WiDo Publishing.

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There are so many reasons why we make the decisions we do. Sometimes they are clear and logical. Other times…not so much. I tend to fall in the illogical decision making more often than my family would like. Emotions rule me and I go with that. In a way, this is what finally gave me the strength to take hold of my future and sign with a publisher.

For years my plan was get an agent, get published, get a movie deal and be happy that I had left my mark on the world. The funny thing is that money wasn’t the reasoning behind that plan. I just thought that was the only way to do things. Over the years I watched as the publishing industry began to change.

Self publishing still terrified me simply because I’ve never been able to focus on my work as well as other people. That whole emotional thing, you know. But, these smaller publishers started to fascinate me. I could have a team of people help me get my novel into the hands of readers? They would provide an editor, help me focus my marketing plan, take care of all the formatting and distribution? That sounded really good.

But I wasn’t ready to sign up quite yet. What if by signing with a small publisher I was selling myself short? I mean, did signing with a smaller publisher mean I wasn’t good enough for an agent and Big 65 (whatever)? At first I didn’t know, so I continued sending out queries a few at a time.

And then there came a moment when I knew something had to change. My family was suffering because I was so preoccupied with writing my book and trying to get to the next level. I had only sent out 20 queries with not much luck. A few partials had been requested and then rejected with no helpful input to guide my next flurry of improvements.

I was cranky.

I was frustrated.

My family was sick and tired of the whole thing.

It was time to sit down and really think about what was important to me. What would make me happy and help my family survive the crazy obsession I’d been suffering through for the last several years.

There were two publishers that I knew well and would be proud to be a part of, so I sent off two last queries. My plan was to see what happened with them before forking out some cash for a quality editor and self publish. I really didn’t want to self publish! I prayed and prayed for something, anything to help me know what I needed to do.

And I got 2 offers.

I held onto them and waited to feel like I was giving up on the Big Dream. It never came. I picked WiDo and signed the contract. Once again I sat there waiting for that sinking feeling telling me not to mail it.

Nothing. So I slapped on a stamp and mailed it. Once it was out of my hands everything lifted. I felt that joy that I had craved and I stopped worrying.

And you know what? I don’t feel like any less of an author because of my choice. My team and I worked hard to make The Magic Wakes the best it could be. The cover art is some of the best I’ve ever seen, and because I’m with a smaller publisher I can actually talk to everyone involved in the process. It feels like a family and I don’t get lost in the shuffle. Plus, things move a lot faster than that “traditional” route.

Would I do it all over again?


Want to know more about how things played out? Check out these other blog tour posts:

· Why I Chose WiDo Publishing over at Huntress’s blog.

· Working with My Publisher over at Mia Hayson’s blog.

· Working with My Editor over at Laurel Garver’s blog.

Author photoCharity Bradford has been a voracious reader ever since her 5th grade teacher introduced her to the world of books with Where the Red Fern Grows and Summer of the Monkeys. She’s the mother of four kids that keep her on her toes, constantly reminding her that imagination still makes the world go round. She lives in Arkansas with her hubby and children, and firmly believes that a smile can solve most problems. The Magic Wakes is her first novel. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, & Goodreads.
Thank you Charity! That was a great post. I had a lot of the same emotions when I signed with my publisher and it's great to hear I'm not alone. Congratulations on your release!!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Would you like to join The Charge blog tour?

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Grab the badge!

My time has come! Soon I will be scheduling stops for The Charge blog tour which will run from March-April. My goal with this tour will be to schedule a wide variety of posts in addition to the usual suspects. If you're interested in hosting me, I'll provide you with a catalog of posts to choose from. I'm also happy to provide custom content for your blog on request. 

If you're interesting in reviewing The Charge (as part of the tour, or just whenever you are able) I'd love to get you a copy!

I'm so fortunate to have an awesome group of bloggers for a support network. Thanks in advance for all your help getting the word out about my debut release.

Thank you!

You know I love forms! :)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013

Worldbuilding Blogfest - Laissez les bons temps rouler

Welcome to the 5th and final day of the Worldbuilding blogfest. Today is when we bring it all together with an excerpt. Here is one from The Charge:

Deep Fried Twinkies

The Louisiana Territory liked to make an entrance. A hundred miles’ worth of billboards lined the highway, luring Americans to Louisiana's fine casinos, race-tracks, gun merchants, parlors—aka whorehouses, and apothecaries—aka places where they sell drugs. Warren figured at least the last two things were no longer legal now that Louisiana was a U.S. state again. Taking down billboards must have been low on the to-do list for the new state government.

Warren occasionally listened in history class and he knew that in the final hours of the Civil War, when the South was falling, Texas helped cinch a Northern victory by convincing the slave states along their border, Louisiana and Arkansas, to join the Texas Empire as territories instead of re-joining the Union. The Texas Empire abolished slavery in 1897, but Louisiana and Arkansas stayed a part of the Empire until it fell.

Even after the massive build-up from the signs, Louisiana did not disappoint. Notices were posted at the border reminding Americans that prostitution and the sale and purchase of controlled substances were illegal and offenders would be prosecuted. The signs seemed to have little effect. The area around the Louisiana border reminded Warren of Pleasure Island from Pinocchio although he hadn't seen as many parlors in the Disney movie. In addition to the many opportunities to do terrible things that weren’t lawful in the United States, there were ample miniature golf courses, go-cart tracks, carnival rides, wax museums, drive-in daiquiri bars, places to buy fried Twinkies, and anything else that could be called a tourist trap. Warren didn't say it out loud, but part of him wanted to jump out at his first chance, buy a fried Twinkie and a daiquiri and run over to that go-cart track and play like it was his tenth birthday party.

It didn't take a genius to get why the border was like that. This was one of the major highways than connected the Texas Empire to the east coast of the United States, and everyone who lived in the eastern United States who wanted to be very, very bad with few consequences came here. Apparently, they weren't willing to drive many miles past the border station before they wanted to get out and party, so supply had met demand.

The more obviously illegal places, like Madame Minnie's Saloon and Parlor, had done minor things to seem like legal businesses. For example, the largest sign for Madame Minnie's looked brand new and used the term dance hall, but many of the smaller signs still said parlor. Another place, called Order of the Garter, advertised "jazz and women," which Warren supposed could be left up to interpretation.

Once they got deeper into Louisiana, the land become much less colorful but rather beautiful and humble. They drove over swamps on roads that looked like they were sponsored by the Hungry Alligator Lobby. He marveled at homes built on stilts right in the middle of the swamp. The residents had small fan boats tied to the steps, instead of cars parked in driveways. He couldn't imagine why anyone would look at that mosquito-infested swamp and say, "Yes. I wish to live here," but apparently, that's exactly what they did. He wondered if they did it just to prove they could.

Worldbuilding Blogfest - Happy Texas Pride Day

Have fun today! Raise a glass. Sample some local cuisine. It's day 4 of the fest - food, drink, holidays, & culture.

Thursday 1/31
Food, Drink, Holidays, & Culture

Let's have some fun today! It's time to party in the style of your world.

Post ideas:
-Tell us about a holiday from your world. How is it celebrated?
-Tell us about a popular dish or even a recipe.
-Tell us about a popular drink in your world.
-Describe the common attire for the people in your world.
-Does your world have music? Art? Dance? Tell us about it.
-If your world has television, what is the most highly rated show? Why is it popular? You could do the same with a popular book, movie, song, or pop icon.
-How do the people of your world celebrate birthdays, weddings, or funerals?
-Create an product advertisement that might exist in your world.


In the real world, March 2nd is Texas Independence Day, and the release date for The Charge. Texas Independence Day celebrates the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence which created the Republic of Texas in 1836.

In the alternate Texas Empire, March 2nd is known as "Texas Pride Day" and it also celebrates Texas's independence From Mexico and the founding of the Republic of Texas, which later became the Texas Empire.

Texas Pride Day is celebrated much like real world Americans celebrate Independence Day. They shoot fireworks, eat BBQ, drink beer, and generally have a good time. Of course, instead of waving the American flag, they wave the blue and white Texas Empire Flag.

However, you may see some red too. Texas revolutionaries (who wish to overthrow the monarchy) will tie red ribbons to trees, balconies, lamp posts, and anywhere else they can find. The red ribbon is the symbol of Texas freedom.

To celebrate Texas Pride Day, may I suggest some real local brews that I'm sure would exist in alternate Texas too. :)

Independence Pale Ale of Independence Brewing Co. - Austin, TX

Alamo Golden Ale of Alamo Beer Company - San Antonio, TX

Battle Line Brown Ale of the Texian Brewing Co. - Washington-on-the-Brazos, TX