The paradox

Head in Hands

I am unable to sell my e-books so now I have no option but to give them away, free.

There is no difference in doing this and putting them online. Again the readers win.

From now on, 1 in 3 of my books on Draft2Digital will be free.

For lovers and lovers of jazz music

Janey

The lady walked onto the floor like a cat on the prowl, eyeing the crowd. She was no youngster these days, but her voice and sexual presence more than made up for lack of youthful vigor. Cat knew she held the stage; the men wanted her, and the women wanted to be her. Her patrons loved Cat, and those who crossed her are few and far between. She is the Black Cat.
At the top of the Merrick building in Medville, there is a small club known as Room 666. Inside this secluded area, is a jazz lounge that is frequented by the most exclusive guests, if you get an invite you have become a respected member of a high-class elite group whose powers are only limited by your desires. The main thing about this room is money can’t get you in, but once in you have unlimited potential.
Equally, as sexual and deadly is Cat’s sister Darryl, Cat may be the lady whose face draws the crowds, but Darryl is the powerhouse behind their success – she is the brains.
Nobody knows where they came from, or when. All the patrons know is don’t cross Cat or her sister, they may be ladies, but these ladies have claws, and they will use them if necessary. Powerful men have tried to take over their domain – to their regret – for they lie under the ground.
The lady strutted onto the ballroom floor, and all eyes watched as she rolled her hips to the last sounds of the jazz quartet. The woman glanced around the crowd, waiting for anyone who might cause trouble tonight, but the room was quiet News gets around fast, she thought as she walked on stage.
The “news” she was thinking about was the opening of her new club The Black Cat. The lady and her sister had recently taken control of the club Archie’s, in a peaceful transaction. Archie Dempster, the previous owner, realized having two sexy ladies running the club was better than one ex-horn player on his uppers. Before the takeover, the club barely cleared its costs, now after only a month in the new ownership Cat was playing to full houses each week.
While Cat did her thing on stage, Darryl was in the heart of the business – Room 666 – where the ladies entertained their exclusive clientele. Many powerful and wealthy men had tried to buy their way in, but the women maintained a strict code – guests only – this usually included musicians more than politicians.
Darryl was a great singer in her right. While Cat exuded sexuality like bees makes honey, Darryl’s style was more like the gentle tones of a lounge singer, but her stage presence was as sexual as her younger sister’s.
Archie sat at the back viewing the audience with his friend Jack Moore, “Cor, ain’t she something to look at, Archie,” Jack swooned, “I’m sure Cat gets better looking with age.”
Archie smiled, and then replied, “I have to agree with you, Jack. Both Cat and her sister get sexier with age. Who needs young girls on their arms when we have a full-bodied mature lady? The sister’s age like a good wine.”
The crowd buzzed with excitement as Cat began her act, she moved in a series of circling motions, deliberately gyrating her slender hips and long legs, like a panther slithering across a tree branch. She knew that the crowd was in her palm, men wanted her and women wanted to be her – perhaps some of the women wanted her, she didn’t mind.
As the friends watched the act, Jack passed the comment, “Do you remember when they Archie thought for a while; a lot had happened in a short time since those early days. The sisters had been at Archie’s for several months before they decided to make their claim to fame. “I think I remember the night. I recall the business was going downhill like a train with no brakes. I was one month from closing when they turned up and turned things around in a matter of weeks. I was glad when they took place over last month, and they worked hard bringing the customers in, this is their reward,” he said, as he glanced at the full room.
The light dimmed as Cat went into her sexiest number, she growled and purred like a lovesick animal, and enjoyed watching the crowd lick their lips as she slid across the stage. She felt safe here, but it hadn’t always been that way. When they arrived at Archie’s, the joint was a dive populated by low life gangsters, who thought a lady was fair game for anything. That was until one went too far with Cat one night.
He thought to slip a few dollars into her suit gave him Carte Blanche. He was wrong, and he found out the hard way when Cat drew a knife from under her shirt and nailed his hand to the table. His blood oozed down and pooled on the floor below the table, as she struggled to free the hand. Some of his friends at the table grabbed their guns, but they were too late. Before they could react, Darryl launched her counter-action, with a vengeance she stormed from the back of the room and grabbing a shotgun, she fired twice at the table. The first shot hit one man in the knee and blew his leg apart, revealing the shattered remnants of the bones. The second blast hit the third man sitting on the table and took his shoulder apart. By the time the police arrived, everything was in order, and the men had been taken outside and put in a truck – where they went was known only to the girls and the driver.
Archie looked on in stunned silence as the men began to roll on the floor in agony, “Where did you learn to act so smoothly?” he muttered to Darryl.
Opening the breach, and releasing the shells onto the floor, Darryl replied, “Where we come from, we look after our own. Hurt one sister, hurt the three of us and feel our wrath,” she said with a wicked smile.
Jack glanced at the table top; this wasn’t the only time it had been in a fight. The tabletop had more scratches than a porcupine has quills. He glanced at Cat, who was wiping the blood from her knife on the torn jacket of the man whose shoulder had got blown away, and he asked, “Did your sister say you have another sister?”
Cat stretched her long, slender legs, and then replied, “Yes, Sandra, she’s the middle of us, and she’s coming next week. She and Darryl are very similar, but Sandra has a sweeter tone to her voice.”
Darryl put the gun on the broken table, and took in the surroundings, “Archie, have you thought about turning this bar into a profitable venture?” she asked as Archie surveyed the wreckage before him.
Archie shrugged, and then commented, “I did think about it for a while, Darryl, then the high-class joint opened in the next street and took my custom. All I get now is the scum you kicked out a few minutes ago. This bar ain’t paying for its keep, and I’m closing next month when the lease ends.”
Darryl smiled to herself, and then asked, “How would you feel about a takeover bid?”
Archie scratched his chin and looked at Jack, who shrugged his shoulders, and then he said, “Who’ll want this place. It’s in the wrong part of town, and only the bums come here.”
Darryl glanced Cat’s way, and winked at her; Cat responded with a gentle nod, “I’ll take it off your hands next month, Archie, and what’s more, I bet we can turn the place around within three months.”
Jack looked at was left of the bar after the shooting, and then commented, “If you think you can make a go of it, you’re welcome ladies. I’d be interested to hear how you intend to turn this wreck into a smooth operation.”
Cat gave her sister a wink and then said, “That’s the easy part, Jack. We institute, and enforce a no-gun policy; then we give the patrons what they can’t get anywhere else Us, three sisters singing a harmony backed by a saxophonist we know. ”
Jack ran his hand over his greasy beard, and then replied, “How do you plan on enforcing the no-gun rule?”
Cat smiled and licked her lips, then replied, “That’s where you guys come in. You’re our security, who better than people who know the place to police the club? You know all the niches where the camera won’t reach.”
Archie began to wonder if the girls were taking on too much but he said, “Okay, I’m in with you; with one clause.”
“What’s that?” commented Cat, as she started to walk to the bar.
Archie walked over, and poured a drink of Brandy, “The clause is Jack, and I remain armed with concealed pistols, and there’s a shotgun under the bar. Do we have a deal, ladies?”
Cat took a quick shot of her drink, and then replied with a wicked lick of her lips, “Why, Mr. Dempster, you drive a hard bargain, shake on it, Archie.”

After finishing the memory lane visit, Jack took in the area they were sitting in, and then commented, “You gave them three months, and they came through for us. By getting Sandra to stay and sing boosted the crowds. That was a masterstroke, Archie.”
Archie never heard what Jack said; his mind was on the sexy lady on the stage. Cat may be older than many of the patrons, but Jack is right, she was hotter than any woman in the room – and she knew it – as she purred on stage, blowing kisses at the males.
Sandra walked the floor, watching the clients, and making sure nobody looked like they were drinking too much. The last thing the club needed was a police raid, Her well-proportioned figure drew as many glances as her sister’s slender action on stage, but she knew that only one man could satisfy her passions, and he was on his way back from the other side of town.
The lights came on, and Sandra took the stage to sing. After three songs, she stopped and talked to the patrons, “In a few minutes, you’ll be in for a musical treat. I convinced the man I love, Joe Carter, to play for us tonight. If you are unsure of his background, Joe started out back in the final days of the old Pallisia Rooms, and for a long time dropped from sight, playing only now and then. We met by accident as our paths crossed in a corridor at a gig, and it was love at first sight for both of us. That aside, he’s a damn good sax player, and deserves your thanks for appearing tonight.” Sandra left the stage to a standing ovation. She sang on her own rarely these days, so the crowd fully appreciated her singing when she did sing.
In her office, on the top floor of the building, Darryl was busy booking the acts for the next month. Her eyes only left her diary for a moment; that is all it took to realize the danger. She picked her phone up and hit the #1 key, Immediately, the phone in the bar rang twice, and then went silent before it rang once more. Jack and Archie didn’t need to know anymore, they dived for the guns, as Sandra ran for the gun behind the bar.
In less than a minute, the doors burst open, and the Thimms gang stormed in with guns blazing. This moment was what the friends had prepared for; now they only had to enact the plan they had finalized. The head of the family – Ricky Thimms – tried to get through the doors; Sandra gave a blast and blew the doors back into him, As the stunned gang members attempted to regroup for an attack, Jack and Archie loosed two volleys of gunfire, and killed half of them. Ricky tried to make a charge through the doors again, this time, Sandra’s blast hit him full in the chest and sent him flying; seeing their boss laying on the floor in a pool of blood, the gang left in a hurry.
Sandra gave a wry smile, and then whispered, “They won’t bother us again, Cat.” There was a pause, then she continued, “Have you seen the handsome man at table five?”
Cat didn’t turn to find out who her sister was talking about, she knew, “Oh, yes. He’s been watching me as a hawk watches for voles since I walked on, he’s hot. Is it who I think it is?”
Darryl came down the stairs and was walking across as her sister asked the question, she commented, “That is a leading question, Cat. Who do you think it is?”
Cat smiled, and licking her lips as she sensually swayed to the beat, she replied, Don Carlton, the record producer?”
Sandra glanced across at the table, and then commented, “Think again, girl, think big time.”
Darryl smiled as she saw the look of surprise on her sister’s face, and then Cat said, “Jack Marshall, the big time gambler, and tour organizer? Boy, would I love to crack him, and take him down to size.”
Sandra glanced at Darryl and seeing her nod, and she said, “Go for it, Sister. Strut your moves.”
Cat moved her body, in the only way she knew, sexually provocatively as she crossed the floor. With her hips swinging to the music, and her hair flowing like cotton in the breeze as she swayed, this was her moment. Cat crossed Jack’s vision, and didn’t miss seeing him gulp air as he licked his lips, Come to mommy, she thought, as she began her dance macabre.
She winked at her sisters, and Sandra said, “If it weren’t him, I’d feel sorry for the guy, but he’s bad news on legs, and he deserves to be taken down.”
With a smile, Darryl commented, “And who better to take the job than Cat. He’s done a lot of bad things to some friendly people. He doesn’t have the slightest idea what’s coming his way. Ain’t Karma, a bitch.”
There were few things Cat enjoyed more than singing, one was turning a man on, and boy did she know her stuff. She may have been many years older than most of the girls who came to the club, but she still had her looks, and her figure was the thing men dreamed of, and women hoped they could gain one day. Her long legs, and flowing her accentuated Cat’s slim body as she weaved her way to the table. Almost everybody in the room knew what was coming – except the man at the table. He thought Cat was his capture, and little did he know how wrong he was.

Cat swayed across the floor, as all heads turned to glance at her target, the ladies smiled as they noted all the smiling faces at the tables. All were expecting the biggest take-down in the city’s history. Jack Marshall had made a rep for buying going concerns and ruining the businesses with bad sales. There were few people left he hadn’t crossed – even his cohorts wanted him taken down until now he thought he was untouchable. Never a lady to disappoint her fans, she threw her hair back, and gently smoothed her body. Her firm breasts pressed against the tight shirt she wore, and her nipples stood out. The kill had begun – and Marshall didn’t even know.
She took her times, moving this way and then the other, caressing her body. Gently teasing her breasts, sensually Cat started to unbutton her shirt for him, showing the top of the perfectly formed mounds, and she couldn’t help but see his manhood twitch at the sight. She moved her hips tantalizingly slowly before she sat on his lap, there was no surprise for her to find him hard and to want her supple body, but she hadn’t started to warm up. Cat sat on Marshall’s lap, and slowly ground his cock with her bottom, feeling him twitch he rubbed harder until he was forced to bite his lip with excitement. Jack bit his lip so hard that the blood flowed, sensually, Cat licked her lips, and then licked the blood off her victim’s mouth, all the time watching his eyes flared at what he thought was his latest conquest. And all the time, Cat knew she was in control of the situation, no man had tamed her, and none would. Cat was as free as the wind and as wild as a brush fire in the dry season.
She gently licked his ear, as she seductively whispered, “Come with me to my room, and we can continue our dalliances in private.” Cat took Marshall by the hand and led him to the private elevator that went to room 666. On the way, she took the time to order a bottle of brandy for the suite.

A fantasy short story

Swords

Fortress Drachanweld
The two warriors stood back to back, blades, and vestments covered in the blood and tattered flesh of their enemy. The taller of the two men, Patrow Kellerman, was of the clan Harrowcar, a fierce and proud race, known for ax blades and good fighters. His companion Toggmar Brennlin was a good head shorter, built like an ox. He is from the Sallowertan tribe of Herringer; the people of Sallowertan have a well-earned reputation for being excellent fighters on horseback.
This day had started poorly for Toggmar, standing watch at the Castle Porrodlin, between the Herringer grounds and the far distant shores of Plamindar. He and his fellow watchman had not seen the troops until they came from under the ground 200 feet from the gates. The first Toggmar knew when his colleague fell with a Plamindar bolt in his throat. He tried to run to the nearest castle to warn the soldiers but was cut down by a wooden staff and had to watch as the soldiers stormed the gates. He had witnessed his friends torn apart by a multitude of weapons. The cuts on the bodies were so many that you couldn’t see the men’s bodies afterward. Looking around him, Toggmar knew, with instinct borne in battle with the Plamindar. There was only one end in sight, that was the death of all in the party, they would slay thirty-five good men of Herringer.
Toggmar jumped astride the nearest horse and rode for all he was worth reaching Fortress Drachanweld in two hours, instead of the usual three hours it would have taken. Out of breath and running as fast as he could, he went to the guard commander. Toggmar could only say “Plamindar, three miles west of here, stay close together!” Then he collapsed, tired out and weary. After three mugs of ‘Hog’s Blood’ ale, he went to see Patrow Kellerman, the clan chief.

Patrow asked him “From where have you ventured, my man, and what is your name?”
“I’m Toggmar Brennlin of the Salloertan clan from Herringer. I came to you straight from Castle Porrodlin, or at least what remains of it. We lost thirty-five men of Herringer in a skirmish with the Plamindar. And they are coming here next.”
“I haven’t heard of them before. Is there a way to defend ourselves?”
“Not this group, this is a skirmishing raid. The only defense is when they arrive, get the men to stand back to back, for NO reason leave anyone unprotected. These are butchers, they kill and maim, for sheer enjoyment!”
“Porrodlin you said.”
“Yes.”
“If my memory is correct that castle had a clear field of fire, no trees, and bushes and yet you said they suddenly appeared 200 feet away. Do you have an explanation as to how?”
“We thought we had everything covered, rocks for our protection near the gates, just to slow them a bit, and give us a chance to form up, but they appeared from nowhere, and all plans went aside, it became a fight to the death, each man for himself.”
“How did you survive then Toggmar of Sallowertan?”
“I was hit on the back of the head with a staff, as they do not check for casualties they left me for dead. I woke three hours later and saw the ruined castle, strewn with my friends. You don’t have the time to challenge my word nor the workforce to imprison me for being a possible spy. By now they should be coming from the fork at Hagardson’s ridge.”
“If we give you a horse and food, can you make it to Porrowlock? It’s only five miles, and they have a garrison of over a hundred and fifty men?”
“I could. But there is no point!”
“Why?”
“Take a look over the brow of that hill.”
“I see smoke pouring from the village, MY GOD! They hit Porrowlock first.”
“I was wondering, why it took them so long to get here.”
“What does that mean for us, there are only fifty here, counting you and me?”
“Patrow Kellerman of Harrowcar, as I stand here the last man of Herringer. I salute your bravery, my friend. We have but one choice. We stand back to back, ax to the sword and fight until either we win or die.”
Patrow and Toggmar gathered the men for a final prayer to their gods of war Signus the Great and Eldmore the Ready, brave men who held a pass thereby allowing time for the walking wounded to escape.
As the band of men rose from prayer, Patrow gave the order “By Sigmar’s blood and Signus’s hand. We fight this battle, live or die, we battle to a stand-in death, we die to protect our lands.”
The men stood in awe of their heroes and the deeds done, each lost in thoughts of homes, and they hoped to see. Each was hoping that at the dawn of day, this battle would be a historic victory and sung around the fires.
Then out of the mists for the first time, the dreaded banners of red and gold helmets were in sight. The army was on the march in an orderly manner. These attacks were something unusual, as Plamindar attacks were usually quick strikes and then off to the next ones.
Looking out over the crest of the hill Patrow was horrified at what he saw “Toggmar, what do you make of this, my friend?”
“I can only assume ONE thing Patrow. We are all that stands between them and controlling this area, they only unfurl the banners at the end of the struggles, so we are the last stand now.”
Patrow stood aloft on the castle walls and yelled to the men “Porrowlock is in enemy hands We have no chance of reinforcements or escape. Anyone willing to try is welcome, nobody will think bad of you. Otherwise, we’ll stand and fight here and now.”

If on cue, as he stood down, a huge boulder came crashing through the walls, where less than a minute ago, he had stood. With the first breach came the rush of men, axes swinging, swords slashing through coats of leather, like through reeds in the spring. Toggmar and Patrow led a charge to try and hold the breach, but the few men they could gather were no match as more rocks crashed the gates.
“Get to your positions men!” shouted Toggmar.

On the command, the men withdrew into groups, each man covered by two more as the raid progressed the men of Plamindar, grew weary. They had got used to a quick fight and were now weakening, sensing this Patrow shouted: “Break ground men!”
At this command, the men broke the groups and chased down the enemy, the banners of Plamindar, lay in the blood and guts of its dead warriors. Toggmar and Patrrow strode to the top of the battlements, to watch the stragglers get chased down and put to the sword.
The fort lay in ruins, men lay dead around them, clothes and bodies ripped, and tired, but they had held the grounds and could be proud. Although they lost twenty men in the raid, their position had held, and they knew this day would not raise a cheer around the fires in Plaminder.
Patrow turned to Toggmar and asked, “What do you think saved us, my friend?”
After a while, Toggmar said, “It wasn’t just the stand and fighting, but also we chased them down so they could not band together again, for another attack.”

The bestseller returns.

In my case that is in the genre of science fiction.

Avenge

I am starting a new series with this book https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071YCF43J. I would be foolish to think I can repeat the success of my previous series, Forgestriker, there again who knows what can happen? I for one did not expect the series to sell over 800 e-books, and only stop selling this month after four years of success.

Another Sci-Fi series to read

Rising

With falling sales for my series   https://hereiamattheedgeblogspotcouk.wordpress.com/2018/05/15/my-bestsellers/,decided to revisit a serial, I ran for several months four years ago online. To give you an idea what it will be like, here is a sample from the start –

The craze started slowly, and at first, appeared no threat but gradually as time passed, we noticed more of the Games were becoming easier to obtain, and users were less secretive. Who started the craze we never found out nor did we know why the Game banned literature other than rulebooks and books linked to their games; all we knew is the Games took over, and soon books would become hard to obtain; little did we realize what lay ahead.

Reports from the central cities appeared online; telling of mass burning of reading material and executions of readers seen in public places but these things don’t happen in a civilized world – or do they? It doesn’t matter, we are miles from the nearest city, out here in the deserts, so, nobody would bother about us, or so we thought.

The beginning of the end of free reading and the start of the resistance group “The Word” is marked by the flames of the libraries and halls of learning. A time marked by the ring to the noise of the Game Lords – people who live in massive towers – who produce and sell the games which corrupt the minds of the young and force them away from the pleasures of reading.

The elders can still remember a time when the people were able to read the Word. Whether for information or pleasure the Word was available. Now, those once imposing buildings stand desolate and unused; their innards got strewn to the far corners of the winds of our barren land; where we once had peace now there is noise and flashing lights; where we had books, papers, and learning materials; all which remains is a pile of ash. Each day the firefighters bring out the books and burn them in the square of the Game Lord and each day more is lost and can never be found. Many of the great writers of our time have fled the cities in fear of being hunted or ridiculed.

The wars came about because the Game Lords feared their control of the minds of the young would never be total while books and the Word were available. The people at the head of the Game sent machines into the skies with the ability to burn all things to cinders; what survived the war became ruthlessly hunted down by bands of Scorchers. Their equipment includes flamethrowers to burn any remaining books and papers. Some of us escaped to the empty lands and tried to start again, to lead a revolt to combat this evil that had spread out of control.

Even though the Game Lords continued to seek to crush our hopes, some of the writers fled to the barren lands and wrote about the terror in the cities. Out in the desolate and barren wastelands, where nobody dares to travel without protection against ravaging hordes of gangs. The Word thrives as we send the Word across the airwaves in radio signals and blogs. In the hope, more will receive the Word and turn away from the Game.

Anybody who sought the Word is hunted and publicly decried as heretics to the new masters of the touchscreen games. Years have passed since the purges began, but the struggle continues, as hard and as fervent as it did when we began to attempt to achieve our objective.

Our hope is for these few great words to have the ability to reach the minds of the young; the Game may not yet corrupt some of the young and wish to know the pleasure of the Word. To these young and very active minds, our aim is to destroy the grip of the Game. The time of the return of the Word is our wish. We hope many will want to follow in our steps as they find our stories and news items on the waves of the radio beacons. The long since forgotten senders of news and entertainment. Our Ancient records tell us where these beacons are. These had been the only means of contacts and reports before the Word became available, and people would gather to listen to anything they may be able to hear. There are still a few who may be able to use these beacons, but they fear discovery, so contact needs to be brief.

Many writers fled to an area dominated by the radio masts of the days when the Word broadcasts went out free on the ether – we call the area The Towers of Enlightenment. But, as the Word got less, the power, and numbers of the games grew. People with inquisitive minds need to do things to be creative, and these games began to choke our thoughts.
We at the Towers of Enlightenment remember how the terror started. One person saw a Game and played the opening level, as others nearby watched the enjoyment and ease with which pleasure they achieved with little trouble; the craze grew. We thought at first “Just a fad that will pass,” sadly the phase did not pass but grew and the more the phase became, the more the Game Lords controlled the minds of the young.
This new craze grabbed its addicts and spread like fire, fuelled by the lack of the need for learning. The faster the games spread their destructive ways, the faster the Word shrank and the faster our need lessened until now we were not allowed to be seen in public. We cowered in the shadows for fear those of us who wished to use the power of the Word, maybe get betrayed and our books burned in the square of the Game Lords; this is further proof of the power which their terror grips the cities.

At first, we thought The Word was about rebellion, and there were no followers in the main sections of our society. Our thoughts that the money the Game brought in got shared among the wealthy, therefore ensuring the continued growth of the industry would preclude any dissenters in the higher echelons of the communities. Little did we realize how wrong we were; even as our small groups struggled to escape detection and fight for our survival – inside the Game Lords there is a growing number of men and women who secretly challenge the powers of the Lords.

Amazon keep the lead

blog

Heading to the final whistle, Amazon leads Draft2Digital 1-0 this month.

This is the first time in four that I can recall Ammy leading the sales for two months, it is not a sign of how good things are on the site, but how bad they are on D2D

Serenity

download

Normally, I would be nervous at this stage, with two weeks to the possible publication of my book, my nerves should be tingling with excitement, but they are not.

The reason for this isn’t confidence in my success but the overbearing feeling of another failure.
I adopt this mindset to avoid being too upset when nothing happens.

If I get the contract and get asked to write a sequel, then I’ll get nervous.