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Small Press & Self-Published / Re: Want to Have Your Novel Reviewed?
« on: October 15, 2011, 04:57:25 PM »
Name: K J Bennett (Kevin)
Novel: Pike's Quest
Genre: Fantasy/humour/family/YA
Format: Mobi/Kindle
For sale at: Amazon - .co.uk - .com - .de - .fr


It is the year 911 of the New Dawn.

In a future where horses are revered as gifts of the gods, and sheep and hounds are the beasts of burden, ancient magicks have been rediscovered. But there are those who wish to uncover the technology of the past and take control of the world for their own evil ends. Now, more than ever, the world needs a hero.

In the tiny hamlet of Ooze, a hapless, fish-faced, flaky-skinned youth named Pike is about to commence a quest: to win the heart of the fair maiden at the Pit of Zidor, and to release Moorlock the Warlock from the captivity of his mortal enemy. Accompanied by a garrulous sparrow and a belligerent horse, Pike is captured and then employed by the lisping Lord Nairey du Well in his sheep-drawn carriage, and then pursued by the deadly huntress, Scarlet Deadnight - du Well’s partner in tyranny.

Pike soon discovers:
- that fair maidens are not always female,
- that they can prove to be deadly foes, and
- the true value of a good moisturiser!

This comic fantasy turns the genre on its head and is a must for readers of all ages.

Praise for ‘Pike’s Quest’:

“What’s not to love? Engaging characters, sparkling wit and a Quest! As well as a horse called Horse and a sparrow called Robyn Fynch.” - Jonathan Pinnock, author of ‘Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens’

“You write beautifully ... it’s probably the best-written submission I have received in the past few months.” – Karolina Sutton (June 2009), Literary Agent

“I've read the first part of ‘Pike's Quest’ - loving it (oh the depth of my critique astounds me). Fantastic, and hits the right tone brilliantly." - Mandy Knight, Comedian, Actor, Writer


I have 5 reviewer copies to give away – they are identical to the ‘for sale’ version except the formatting (using Calibre) for some reason inserted a couple of blank pages here and there. First 5 to contact me can have them as long as they agree to post a review on Amazon. Approx 61,300 words. File size is 626 KB and I can e-mail it.



In case there is anyone out there in internetville ...

Thought you may like to know that I'm up to Part 6 of the online serialization. I would really appreciate some feedback. I've had plenty of site visits but no comments apart from one by my sister). Don't know if anyone is actually reading it or not!

To make things easy, i have activated quick comments by way of tick boxes - you can click to say Funny, Interesting or Cool for each segment.

No one out there owes me anything, but your help would be appreciated. Let me know if I can return the favour.

Thanks. http://pikesquest.blogspot.com

[Jun 2011] - Storms / Re: June Writing Challenge
« on: June 22, 2011, 09:33:10 PM »
The Badlands of Abergravan 1900 words

The bartender looked at the crumpled stranger with disdain. Here was a man who had seen the wrong side of life, and make no mistake. Shame he insisted on resting his flea-ridden beard on the counter, but a customer was a customer no matter how much wildlife he carried around with him.
“So, what can I get for you, my verminous friend?”

The stranger – who had crawled, rather than walked, in – scratched his hairy chin and replied, “I’m no one’s friend.” His voice was gruff and bitter sounding.

“Suit yourself, but I can hardly go around saying, ‘so what can I get for you, my verminous’, can I? That’d just be plain rude, that would.”

The stranger belched loudly, but otherwise made no reply. There was no echo; the room was made of twigs, dried grasses and mud, put about a wooden frame that looked no more sturdy than the legs of a crane fly.

“Come on, big chap, what do you want?” He sniffed. “This is a bar, you know? I can’t just have malingerers chocking up the place, resting their faces on the counter and stinking so badly that all the other customers run away.”

The man raised his head slowly, looking around the almost empty room, as if wondering where these departing customers could be. The only other beings were fleas and the bartender.



The bartender was proud of his counter; it was an unsightly mess, but it was his unsightly mess and no one could say otherwise.

“Come on then, oh verminous stinker who is friend to no one: what do you want?”

The man’s head slowly began to rise up. At first the barman thought it was some ungodly act of levitation, but soon he realised that the stranger was beginning to stand.

“What do I want?” mumbled the man, as if to himself. “I want my life back, that’s what I want. I want to know who stole the last few weeks; who made me do those strange things and feel those strange feelings. I want to know who that man was, and why I trusted him and called him master …” He now stood at his full height, or he would have done if the roof had been high enough to permit it. He continued, his voice rising gradually. “I want to find this man. I want to find those who assisted him to make my life a misery–” his voice grew to a roar “–and then I want to KILL – THEM – ALL!” He slammed his fist onto the countertop with his last word: the entire construction collapsed with a loud crash.

The barman, trembling, said, “And, erm, to drink?”

“ALE! GIVE ME ALE? What else would I want?”

The bartender grabbed a leather tankard and filled it from a barrel that was mounted on a stand behind what used to be the counter.

“Ale. Of course. What else? Here you are, oh huge man with attitude. I trust you will be paying for the ale ...  and the damage?”

The stranger grabbed the tankard and emptied it in one gulp.


“Payment?” asked the bartender, shaking, as he took back the drinking vessel.

“You’ll get your due. More ale.”

Feeling calmer, the bartender refilled the tankard. Passing it back, he said, “Let’s sit. The day is young and I have no other customers. I don’t sleep until after sunrise, so you can tell me all your troubles.” He sat down on a log on the public side of the bar and indicated to a larger one nearby. The massive, hairy stranger sat and sighed. He drank again, but this time without desperation.

“Speak, my huge and sweaty non-friend. I believe you mentioned strange actions and strange feelings?”
With gleaming eyes, the stranger looked over the rim of the tankard at the bartender.

“Aye, indeed. Feelings unbefitting a man of my status: feelings of loyalty and friendship. Actions for which I was not ever going to be paid and for which I had no desire to be paid.”

“What on earth is your status, that loyalty and friendship are considered unbefitting? These are surely fine attributes for any man?”

“Any man but a soldier of fortune. MORE ALE!”
The barman got more ale, and hoped that his payment would shortly follow. He sat again.

“Surely, even a mercenary may show loyalty? Why would anyone employ you if you were incapable of it?”

“A fair but flawed point,” grunted the stranger. “Loyalty is awarded to the highest bidder – or if not the highest, the one who makes the offer of payment first. We mercenaries have a code of ethics, and working loyally for free is not in it.”

“Perhaps you are the innovator of a new code?”

“Never! The code is the code. I am no innovator; I am a criminal in the eyes of other soldiers of fortune – or I would be, if ever they find out about me before I avenge myself.”

The barman began to sense something. His stomach knotted as the merest hint of what was to become crossed his mind. Showing no outward sign of unease, he asked: “More ale, sir? Last one’s on the house.”

“Aye, more ale.”

The tankard was passed from one to the other, filled, and passed back.

“Thank you,” said the stranger. “It is good that you show me this small kindness. You may wish to know my name.”

“No, oh strange, muscly and gigantic one with the very sharp-looking weaponry. I think that is not a good idea.”

“Why ever not? You have asked after my affairs and I have confided in you. It’s fair you should know who I am.”

“No. Most kind of you, but I am a barman and I always pry into the affairs of strangers. It is the way of my kind … part of our code, if you will. I wouldn’t wish to know your name, as I wouldn’t wish to blab it unintentionally.”

The stranger rose up from his seat having drained his tankard. He cast the leather vessel to one side and stood till his head touched the straw roofing.

“There is only one like me, so I may as well introduce myself—”

“La-la-la-la-la-not-listening!” squealed the bartender, leaping up and stuffing his fingers into his ears.  

“You will listen,” shouted the large man, leaning forward and pulling the bartender’s fingers away from his ears. “My name is—”

“No! Tell me not. Your secrets are safe with me. Don’t tell me. La-la-la-la—”


The bartender exhaled loudly. “You shouldn’t have told me.”

“I should. And now to give you your due.”

The dagger glinted momentarily in the lamp-light before piercing the bartender’s heart.


Gradze stepped out of the rickety building in time to see the first bolt of lightning streak across the dark sky. A second later, the thunder almost deafened him, exploding with enough force to blast him back into the bar.
At least there would be shelter in this place, thought Gradze, cautiously standing.

The rain began to hammer onto the straw roof. Gradze knew there was something very wrong, but a voice from behind him caught his attention: “So, what can I get for you, my verminous friend?”

Gradze shook his head and turned. The barman was standing behind his counter – the same unsightly one that Gradze had earlier demolished. Except now it was restored to its former ingloriousness.

“I am no one’s friend. And you are dead.”

The barman smiled and looked down towards the dagger, which still protruded from his ribcage.

“Oh, see what you mean. Want this back?” He pulled the dagger out and offered the blood-covered blade to Gradze. It dripped onto the countertop. “Damn.[ mst be more careful. I’ll have the Abergravan Health and Hygiene Squad on my tail if I’m not careful.” He reached under the bar and pulled out a cloth, with which the wipe away the blood.

Gradze strode over and took the dagger. “You’re dead,” he repeated through gritted, rotten teeth. “I killed you.”

“Yes. And no. And no more ale, you obviously can’t hold your drink very well.”

“I don’t understand,” gasped Gradze, flopping onto a bar stool.

“I mean, beer strong, you pissed. No more booze.”

“That bit I get. I killed you, yet I’m having a conversation with you.”

“Ok, large, voluminous and even-more-stinky-than-you-were-earlier one: Yes I am dead. No, you didn’t kill me.”

Gradze raised an eyebrow.

“And there’s a storm outside.”

“Nearly always is.”

“But the rain isn’t coming through the straw roof.”

“No, it isn’t. Good that, isn’t it? You’ve ruined this shirt, you know. Shall I add it to the list?”
Gradze sat back down at the bar. “What list would that be?”

“The list of things you have to make amends for.”

Despite the bizarre situation, Gradze guffawed. “Well there’s probably a lifetime of stuff on this list you mention.”

“Ah, good; that’s the spirit. A villain who knows where he went wrong.  Now --” He didn’t finish, due to being interrupted by the blade of Gradze’s dagger slicing his windpipe.

“I know where I went wrong, and I don’t care,” Gradze grunted, already walking towards the door.


The barman stood up, just in time to see Gradze being thrown back in through the door by another blast of thunder.

“So, what can I get for you, my verminous friend?”

“I am no one’s friend,” huffed Gradze, getting up from the ground. “Least of all yours.”

“You mercenary types are all the bloody same. Afraid of relationships, no matter how casual. I offer you the hand of friendship and you spurn me once again.” The barman’s voice was somewhat strange, now that it could be heard through both his mouth and the gaping gash in his neck. He realised he was still holding the cleaning cloth, and used it to plug the extra hole. “That’s better. Now, there are two things I must say to you: ouch, and ouch again. That blade really is sharp.”

Gradze sat at the bar again. “Ok. What do I have to do to leave this place?”

The barman shrugged. Blood oozed from behind the cloth. “Well, as long as I’m here talking to you, you can’t.”

“You said earlier you never went to bed before sunrise? Then is when I shall leave.”

“Two problems, there: one, I didn’t say which sunrise, and two, I can’t remember the last time it did. Sorry.”

“So when the hell do you stop talking to me?”

“That,” replied the barman, “is up to you.”


“Meaning, the sooner you pay for everything, and the sooner you apologise for what you’ve done, the sooner I shut up.”

Gradze slapped his head. “Is that what this is about? Here. This is all I have.” From somewhere within his filthy clothing he retrieved a small pouch. He emptied onto the bar. “That should pay for the ale and the shirt. Can’t do much about the holes in your throat and chest, but sorry to have troubled you. Good day.”

He made for the door.

Within seconds he was blasted back into the bar room by a thunder clap.

“So, what can I get for you, my verminous friend?”

“A way out of this hell-hole,” boomed the reply.

“At last,” said the bar man. "Let’s work towards that.”


Sci-Fi, Horror, YA & Urban Fantasy Books / Re: What genre?
« on: June 18, 2011, 03:23:58 PM »
My thoughts exactly. If these tespected authors came out publicly and said "We love SF and so do you lot - you bought it", SF might lose its stigma>


2nd installment now on the site

Any feedback would be most welcome, thanks.

Sci-Fi, Horror, YA & Urban Fantasy Books / Re: What genre?
« on: June 16, 2011, 09:17:02 PM »
Ah, that's where I'm going wrong. I should only admit to 'speculative fiction' - SpeFi, not SciFi.

Sci-Fi, Horror, YA & Urban Fantasy Books / What genre?
« on: June 16, 2011, 05:04:43 PM »
I've just finished reading The Time Traveler's Wife (yes, the US spelling with one L), by Audrey Niffenegger, and a damned fine book it is, too. I wonder how she sold it to a publisher.

Time travel, a genetic mutation that causes Henry to slip back and forth in time ... sounds SF to me, but nowhere on the cover does it classify it as such. I know Ms Niffenegger is a bit on the literary side, but nonetheless, at its heart is it is a sci-fi love story – the love cannot work without the time travel.

I wish publishers - and agents , in particular - were less fearful of sci-fi entering the mainstream. Looking through the Artists & Writers’ Yearbook, there is a multitude of agents and publishers that specifically state ‘no SF’ in their requirements.

Years ago I wrote a novel that was a thriller with a time travel element, and you should have seen the rejection letters I got – “WE SAID NO SI FI, DIDN'T WE?”
Actually, it wasn’t that well written, but it would have been nice to get rejected for the right reasons.

OK, I'm a newbie, and posting this here is a bit of a cheek. However, such things rarely put me off.

Due to reasons explained here I have decided to publish my novel Pike's Quest as an on line serialisation.

Twice-weekly instalments will be posted on the Pike's Quest site and will be announced on Twitter. Future instalments will be shorter than the initial first instalment.

I would welcome any feedback and comments (keep 'em clean, please) either on the site comments link, beneath each instalment, or as a reply to this posting, right here.

If you follow me on Twitter - @kj_bennett – you’ll know when the next instalment is posted.

I thank-you for your kind indulgence.

[EDIT - links now fixed and working]

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