Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Guest Post: N J M Hemfrey and his novel, 'My Fatal Futility Shellshock’

I’m pleased to welcome author, N J M Hemfrey and his futuristic novel, ‘My Fatal Futility Shellshock’ to Writers at the Gate.

Read on to find out more...

About the book…

In a neo-Japanese inspired future comes a cyberpunk epic with a razor-sharp time travel edge.

Kage Carnifex never bleeds easily. He's stronger than the slickest cybernetics. And the chip in his brain whispers the value of violence.

Kage is the last product of a dead corporation. When he is scraped off the streets by another megacorp, Kage plunges headlong into an unforgiving world of unbreakable contracts, absolute loyalty, and soulful devotion beyond what he thought possible.

Yet, the psychotic butchers from his shrouded past cannot be escaped forever, nor their malicious masters denied Kage's life. Blood is owed and carnage is coming to carve everything Kage loves apart.

And the secret to surviving may lie within a device Kage can't control; the chrono-disruptor -- a time machine -- but time is a fatal thing...


·         Publisher : Independently published (31 Mar. 2021)

·         Language : English

·         Genre: Science Fiction

·         Paperback : 522 pages

·         ISBN-13 : 979-8731264396

·         Dimensions : 15.24 x 3.33 x 22.86 cm


'My Fatal Futility Shellshock' is available on Amazon HERE 

About the author…

N J M Hemfrey is 28 years old, has degrees in Philosophy and Sociology, and Information and Library Studies, and is an admin assistant for the charity Home-Start Falkirk. He lives with his fiancé Kasha, who is the best individual to spend existence with, whether in lockdown, the apocalypse, or more normal things like the cinema, or wandering around old castles. He is an utter movie, book, video game and comic enthusiast, especially for the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. One of his greatest frustrations is that there is not enough time in the universe to ever finish the lists of things he wants to do.



N J M Hemfrey on Twitter: @Cloud_Neil


Brief Interview:

When did you start writing your new book?

I started writing My Fatal Futility Shellshock back in 2017. At that point, the story was called “If It’s the Last Thing I Do” and was only about 30-pages. Neither was the story set in the cyberpunk genre or heavily influenced by my research into Japanese culture and beliefs. The original story had a contemporary setting and was simply about a guy journeying through a fatalistic timeline to try and stop mysterious assassins who are after him for obscure reasons. I’d actually forgotten about the concept/short story until I happened to find it again in a One Drive folder, that I was browsing through one day on the way to work. The job I had at the time was the worst job I’ve ever had, and I’d plunged to a particularly low point when I read this short story of mine again. Something about the idea really ignited my spirit and fuelled the creative drive within me, a drive I was worried had jammed because of the soul-sucking job I was doing. After 4 years more of writing, it became an over 1000-page manuscript that had changed titles to “My Fatalism of Futility” to “My Fatal Futility” and this has now been split into 3 parts: Shellshock, Convulsions, and Reckoning.

What was the inspiration behind the book?

I’ve been really fascinated by the concept of time travel ever since I read the horribly lethal time loop in “All You Need Is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and the mind-bending bootstrap paradox in “All You Zombies” by Robert A. Heinlein. My fascination has grown with watching movies like “Predestination”, “Looper”, and “Tenet” and so has my annoyance at any time travel story that makes up the rules to be convenient for the plot. My interest has only heightened by reading various science-eey books that confirm how nothing in the laws of physics prevents time travel, we only lack the “exotic” material and “exotic” fuel to make such journeys. Really, though, I think the most interesting aspect of time travel is how it reveals the nature of time which absolutely influences our identities, behaviours, free will, and sense of meaning and place in the universe. The nature of time defines the nature of humanity in a lot of ways. So, this has all fed into me wanting to write a story where the timeline was fatalistic and the plot had to respect the rules, rather than bending them to create easy resolutions. I injected cyberpunk into the world-building due to how I think that genre reveals a lot about the evolution and integration of human beings and technology, and how this affects the political and natural climate of the world. Plus, I’m also a fan of the hyper-violence, high-adrenaline action pieces, and pure neon spectacle of the cyberpunk genre. However, I didn’t want to do cyberpunk that accelerates towards nihilistic oblivion within polluted, criminal-ridden metropolises as can be so common in the genre. I was inspired by my research into the samurai ethics of bushido, Buddhism, and Shinto which led me to become captivated by wider Japanese culture and beliefs, especially the sense of respect and peace inherent in their outlooks. I wanted to create a cyberpunk world that had its razor-sharp edges but was also a world that really conveyed the beauty of nature, the tranquillity of meditation, and the respect even adversaries can give one another. I wanted to create a cyberpunk world that wouldn’t be a bad place to live. So, I like to think of My Fatal Futility Shellshock as cyberpunk with the soul of a samurai, that reflects raw reality.

Can you describe your route to publication from concept to completed novel?

The writing itself is the most important, laborious, and time-consuming process. I developed my writing habit and routine while writing my first novel “Haxfuri”, where I learned if I really wanted to be an author or not. I ensured I woke up at eye-bleeding early hours in the morning, did an hour or so of writing before work, did writing on a notepad at work while others weren’t looking, and did more at night (often on my phone while my partner lay asleep next to me). I learned that no matter how tired I was, I never regretted doing writing. In fact, I now become anxious if I don’t write. So, I have a great writing routine engrained in me now, of getting up early and writing whenever there’s a moment free, and this has really helped writing the 1000-page manuscript for the trilogy, then writing five more drafts of the first book, “My Fatal Futility Shellshock”. My partner, who I am forever indebted to, helped me do multiple edits and she also drew my “ramhorn-tiger” logo that features in my marketing and in the book itself. While the editing progressed, I commissioned Damonza to get my professional cover done, based on a concept drawing and colour scheme I did, which their artist then turned into something I would never be able pull off in my wildest dreams. Next, I did the ebook formatting by following the Smashwords guide, which always takes far longer than I anticipate. In the spare moments between doing all this prep stuff, I also created marketing material. I’d find copyright-free images from websites like Unsplash and Pixabay, researched free picture editors and found the brilliant that I then used in conjunction with PowerPoint to edit images with a bespoke “branded” feel. My partner and I also created a unique 24 track soundtrack, using the GroovyLoops apps. The music-making part was surprisingly more fun and addictive than I expected. Once the book was ready in its print and ebook formats, the cover was finalised, the logo was done, and the soundtrack was uploaded to YouTube, my last step was updating my website to hopefully make it appear more appealing. WordPress can certainly be sanity-straining and yet fun at the same time, even though hours spent trying to master it can result in nothing. Finally, when all these different elements were ready like different members of a ragtag team, I knew I was ready to tackle the platforms I wanted it uploaded onto, including Amazon and Smashwords, Kobo, Applebooks, Barnes and Noble, and Scribd.

What ideas do you have for any future books?

I’m quite lucky in that I never feel out of ideas. I only ever feel there won’t be enough time before I die to write them all. I’ve currently got about 20 folders, each with a story outline between 10 and 20 pages that detail a full story chapter by chapter. After I publish the second and third books in the My Fatal Futility trilogy, I’ll be returning to a horror story I wrote. It’s set in the Scottish Highlands and switches between two perspectives. The first perspective is from a documentary team interviewing people in a remote fictional town about a strange massacre that occurred. The second perspective is from a woman who lived in the very community the massacre occurred in, seeing what she sees on the night of the massacre. It’s got Lovecraftian cosmic horror vibes as the mystery unfolds and the accounts of the two perspectives conflict. After that, I’ve got another story I’ll be returning to. This one is a science-fiction survival novel, set on a refugee's vessel in space when riots kick-off and the ship AI goes rogue. The perspective is from ship workers who run the vessel’s radio show, who hear and see things develop from the isolation of their small studio. Eventually, they’re forced to make decisions to leave the safety of their room. In essence, the story explores what ethics really matter when oxygen, food, and water are limited, and I initially got the idea while working in customer service and serving very unpleasant individuals. From there on, the list goes on of standalone books and series I want––no, NEED to write to final fruition.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

By Invitation: Jacquelynn Luben and her novel, 'Lost Innocents'

I am delighted to welcome Surrey-based author, Jacquelynn Luben and her latest novel. 'Lost Innocents' to Writers at the Gate.

Read on to find out more...

About the book…

On a suburban Surrey estate, a dead man is found, next to an unconscious woman and then, a ten-year-old boy from the same estate goes missing. This is the first major story for the Hillside Gazette’s journalist, Nick Delmar.  

Is there a link? Was the boy a witness to a desperate struggle?  Nick soon finds himself drawn into the lives of the people involved, putting his career and life in jeopardy.

The book centres around Nick who has left his well-paid City job to write a novel, but who gets side-tracked into a modest job as a reporter and financial columnist on a local paper.  Nick, sometimes impulsive and occasionally thoughtless, has a knack for getting into troublesome situations.  In addition, the story focuses on ten-year-old Martin, who is being relentlessly bullied by a classroom thug in the time leading up to his disappearance.  His parents, Carol, and Gary, separated for eight years, are also important characters as the case of the lost boy makes headlines in the media.  What seems at first to be a domestic drama is closer to crime than is envisaged.


·         Publisher : Goldenford (30 Oct. 2019)

·         Language : English

·         Genre : Fiction

·         Paperback : 301 pages

·         ISBN-10 : 1911317067

·         ISBN-13 : 978-1911317067

·         Dimensions : 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm 

'Lost Innocents' is available on Amazon 



About the author…

Jacquelynn Luben has been writing for more than thirty years, and has brought out six books - two non-fiction, one children’s book and three novels, her most recent being a crime thriller, Lost Innocents.  It was the death of her second child, a baby daughter, that made writing imperative at that time, and important ever since.

Although originally a Londoner, she now lives in Surrey in the house which she and her husband built and, in which they lived for six months without laid on gas or electricity, as described in her autobiographical book, The Fruit of the Tree.  

Jackie always wanted to write, and had imagined herself sitting with her notepad, her children frolicking around her feet as she scribbled, but instead, she was seduced into office work by three weeks’ paid holiday and luncheon vouchers (who remembers them?), failing to find the magical job which would lead her to a writing career.

Jackie left London for married life in Surrey, and for many years, was her husband’s reluctant secretary/bookkeeper. She dealt with all the administration from home, but she occasionally managed to escape to attend creative writing courses, and eventually, gained a BA (Combined Studies) from Surrey University as a mature student, with a dissertation on the Harry Potter series and other children's books. She now belongs to a reading circle made up of fellow graduates. She strongly believes that writers need to read the work of others, and she sometimes reviews her current choice of book on Amazon (under the penname Minijax) and Goodreads.

Apart from writing, she has also occasionally participated in writing workshops and used to give talks to various organisations on writing topics, prior to the pandemic.

With her children, having fled the nest, she now quite enjoys cooking for two. She also loves her garden, particularly planning what new plants should be tried out, whilst leaving the labour to others, more energetic.

In addition to her published books, Jackie Luben has written many articles and short stories. More than twenty of her short stories are available as Kindle books - some of which are published by Untreed Reads

Jackie on Twitter: @JackieLuben

Jackie on Facebook: Jackie Luben

Brief interview… 

When did you start writing your new book?

I started several years ago but got stuck and put it away.  Then had another try, probably five years ago.

What was the inspiration behind the book?

I saw a news item on the TV about a dead body being found on someone’s doorstep. I never heard the reason, or about a prosecution or who caused the death, and I was intrigued.

Can you describe your route to publication from concept to completed novel? 

Despite my original desire to write, I dropped it all when I was married. However, when I lost my baby daughter through cot death – a life-changing event - I started to write articles and then a book about the experience.  I submitted the autobiographical book, The Fruit of the Tree, to many publishers, but there was very little interest.  When Thorsons, a mainstream publisher, read the chapters, they said it wasn’t for them, but asked if I would write a self-help book. Cot Deaths - Coping with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome was published, and later, brought out in a new edition by a second publisher.

With this knowledge of publishing, I later decided to self-publish my memoir and learned a great deal about that. I didn’t use a ‘vanity publisher’, but had my own publishing imprint, and used a short-run printer, before the days of POD.  I was already attending a creative writing course, and subsequently went on to two further courses, including one at Surrey University, and after that, joined a writers’ circle in Guildford. Two of my friends at the writers’ circle decided to get together to publish our books, each of us working on different aspects of publishing, and my next four books were published by this company – Goldenford Publishers.  My books are available from their website, as well as on Amazon, Waterstones, and other bookstores. 

Finding inspiration for a long book was always a problem.  Short stories took me on to my first fiction book, A Bottle of Plonk, where a cheap bottle of wine takes the reader from one story to the next, linking them together. Then, interest in our family’s genealogy gave me the idea for Tainted Tree, which looks back on four generations in the 20th century and the skeletons which are revealed when an adopted girl tries to find out about her family history. Tainted Tree was extremely popular on Amazon for several years.  I loved writing it and found that the words came effortlessly into my head.

Lost Innocents - my crime novel - on the other hand, was difficult and I could only write it by thinking out the next scene and hoping that an idea would materialise to take me further on.  Although I had a rough idea of what was going to happen, halfway through I had a complete mind-change, and the book developed in an unexpected way.  Miraculously, I eventually finished it, and so far, have had good reports and reviews.  For some reason which escapes me, I wrote from a male point of view, that of Nick, the main character, and there are two more male points of view. I felt quite relaxed about that.

My problem was getting police procedure, etc. accurate, when I am much more confident writing about people behaviour.  Unlike many writers, who love researching, perhaps even more than writing, I am the reverse and don’t relish having to research my story.  I (fortunately) have no experience of crime, particularly not a violent crime, or murder, so goodness knows how I ended up writing this sort of story.  I checked up on matters which I was unsure of with people who seemed to know what they were talking about.

The one thing I am not happy about is the title, which, more and more, I feel, gives an inaccurate impression. It is one part of the book with which I am dissatisfied, and irritated, because all my other titles were just right. Even though I feel this, I still can’t think of a better title.  I’m happy to listen to suggestions.

What ideas do you have for any future books?

I am working on a sequel to Lost Innocents, as I felt there were unresolved issues in it.  Of course, I am in the same frame of mind as when I was writing Lost Innocents.  I struggle to write a few hundred words and then scratch my head as to what happens next.  But I feel I owe it to my characters to give them a second airing.

Which publishing services (if any) would you recommend?

Although publishing exclusively through Amazon is possible now, with the minimum of expertise, we at Goldenford use CPI Antony Rowe for our books, since because of a link with wholesalers, Gardners, they can print copies to fulfil any orders received from them, without us handling them. Gardner's supply to many independent and major booksellers. I think you must be the publisher of five different books to have this sort of account.

Submit Your Book

If you would like your book showcased - See the Submit Your Book page for full details. 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

By Invitation: Lelita Baldock and her novel, 'Widow's Lace'

I am delighted to welcome fellow Woking author, Lelita Baldock and her very successful historical fiction novel, ‘Widow’s Lace’ to Writers at the Gate. 

Read on to find out more...

About the book… 

A hundred-year-old mystery, the widow left behind, a fallen soldier, an unnamed body and a young student determined to find the truth. 

In 1886 famous English poet Edward Barrington moves from Derbyshire, England to a farm on the Finniss River, in South Australia. Two years later he disappears. 

25 years later Archie Hargraves abandons his fiancĂ©e Clara and travels from England to meet with Edward’s widow, Rosalind. He plans to write a biography and make a name for himself, independent from his wealthy father. Returning to England in 1914 he abandons his work to join the war in Europe. His journal of notes from Australia is never released. 

Ellie Cannon, a young PhD candidate at Sydney University, is writing a thesis on one of Barrington’s last known poems, The Fall. It’s not going well. Struggling with her relationship with her mother and loss of her father, Ellie is on the brink of failure. 

Then a body is found by the Finniss River, 130 years after Edward’s disappearance. Could it be the famous poet? 

The discovery draws Ellie into the worlds of Edward, Archie and Clara, taking her across Australia and England in her search for the truth. 

Covering life in remote South Australia, the social pressures of 1900s Britain and the historical role of women, Widow’s Lace is an historical fiction, mystery cross-over dealing with themes of obsession, fear, love, inner secrets, and regret. But also, the hope that can come from despair.


·         Publisher : Independently published (25 Mar. 2020)

·         Language : English

·         Genre : Historical Fiction

·         Paperback : 242 pages

·         ISBN-13 : 979-8630704184

·         Dimensions : 15.24 x 1.55 x 22.86 cm 


‘Widow’s Lace’ is available on Amazon HERE



About the author… 

Lelita has a passion for stories, especially those with a dark undercurrent, or a twist to be revealed. 

She hopes to tell interesting stories that people will find themselves drawn into. Stories that are for entertainment and escape, and hopefully a little thrill of the unexpected. She enjoys the experience of writing, exploring human traits and reactions as well as the darkness that can lurk unexpectedly inside anyone. 

Born and raised in Adelaide, Australia, Lelita holds a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English and History from the University of Adelaide and a Bachelor of Education from The University of South Australia. During her twenties she worked as an English teacher in both Australia and the United Kingdom, working with the International Baccalaureate curriculum. 

Now Lelita and her husband run a web development business, and she makes time for writing after hours and on weekends. It can mean long days and late nights, but she doesn’t mind, stories are her passion. 

Lelita’s long term goal as a writer is to be able to publish her stories regularly and hopefully appeal to a wide range of readers. 

Lelita currently resides in the United Kingdom with her husband Ryan and beloved rescue-cat, Jasmine. 


Lelita on Twitter: @BaldockLelita

Brief interview... 

What was the inspiration behind the book? 

Back in 2004 I took a trip up the Finniss River with my family. The Finniss River is a tributary of the Lower Lakes in South Australia, near to the township of Goolwa and the Coorong National Park, where the Murray River meets the sea.  

The river is quiet and winding, its banks covered in reeds. Teeming with birdlife and buzzing insects, the river feels isolated from modern life, despite its proximity to rural communities.  

The idea of someone living alone on its banks came to me and I was inspired to discover why someone would make a life there alone, cut off from the rest of the world. The seed of a story that would grow into Widow's Lace was planted. 

Over the next decade I honed the idea and my writing skills until in 2018 I was ready to begin. 

At the beginning of 2020 I completed and released my novel.  I hope you enjoy the story as much as I have enjoyed the process of writing it.

Can you describe your route to publication from concept to completed novel? 

Many years passed between when I first started writing Widow’s Lace and publishing the story. 

As it was my first novel, I had a lot of learning to do regarding the flow of prose and keeping a reader’s interest. I thoroughly enjoyed the learning process and am truly proud of the result.

After completing the manuscript, I approached a few literary agents and received incredibly positive feedback. They seemed to genuinely enjoy my story but wanted me to have more of a ‘presence’ before they would take me on.  

Through this process, I came to understand that authors do need to promote themselves and so I set about crafting a platform for myself on social media.

In March 2020 I decided it was time to launch Widow’s Lace to the world, and I self-published through Amazon.

What ideas do you have for any future books? 

Since publishing Widow’s Lace, I have completed and released a second novel, a crime fiction called The Unsound Sister

It was such fun to try my hand at a new style of writing and I really enjoyed the change from the more descriptive style of historical fiction. 

My third novel, tentatively titled White Cove, is a return to historical fiction following the life of a young woman growing up in a small Cornish fishing village in the mid-1800s. 

I have already planned and researched my next work which will be another historical fiction, set in France and I am super excited to start that new project. 

Then I think I will return to crime fiction and write a sequel to The Unsound Sister. It was not originally intended to be a series novel, but as I wrote it, I found I like my characters so much I wanted to tell more of their stories. I have a rough outline of my intended story. 

So, I have lots more ideas brewing in my mind and I am very much looking forward to continuing with my writing well into the future.

Which Publishing services would you recommend? 

So far, I have only self-published through Amazon. While Amazon is a large company, their process to self-publish is easy and fast. It’s a great option for independent authors. 

I think finding a reliable and talented editor is incredibly important. I had some missteps and was let down in the past but have now found such a wonderful and exceptional editor in Lucy Skoulding from Starlight Editing at .

The manuscript for White Cove is now with Lucy and, I'm hoping to release it by July 2021.

Submit Your Book

If you would like your book showcased - See the Submit Your Book page for full details. 



Guest Post: N J M Hemfrey and his novel, 'My Fatal Futility Shellshock’

I’m pleased to welcome author, N J M Hemfrey and his futuristic novel, ‘My Fatal Futility Shellshock’ to Writers at the Gate . Read on to fi...