Ned Marcus — Blog

Below are the most recent posts on

Mar 01, 2024

The Orange Witch is Summoned

The Orange Witch begins in a ruined church surrounded by an alien forest that has appeared on Earth.

ruined church with magical light coming from the inside=

Feb 26, 2024

Mythical London

My current work in progress is set between two versions of London: a slightly futuristic London that's falling apart and a mythical London that coexists with it.

Both the pictures below are intended as the magical version.

mythical old london=

Feb 23, 2024

Falling into the Depths of the Planet

They fell through the hot and sticky liquid rock, their combined magic lighting them up like a rocket shooting into the depths of the planet.

From The Darkling Odyssey

jet of fire deep within the planet=

Feb 19, 2024

Into Mythic Fiction

My books are always behind me because I change faster than I can write and publish. Looking at my older novels feels like looking back into history.

The novel I'm writing now keeps transforming. Originally, contemporary fantasy, it's becoming closer to mythic fiction. There's a single sci-fi element, too.

Feb 18, 2024

Deception and Terror in the Land Where the Moon Always Shines

Deception and terror in the land where the moon always shines.

I'm playing with different prompts to see how the AI mind interprets them. This one was inspired by a short story I've written.

dark castle in moonlit land=

Feb 16, 2024

C.S. Lewis on Tolkien

I've been reading about English folklore and came across something C.S. Lewis wrote about a remark Tolkien once made to him. It's a very different way of seeing life from nowadays. And fascinating.

Tolkien once remarked to me that the feeling about home must have been quite different in the days when a family had fed on the produce of the same few miles of country for six generations, and that perhaps this was why they saw nymphs in the fountains and dryads in the woods – they were not mistaken for there was in a sense a real (not metaphorical) connection between them and the countryside. What had been earth and air and later corn, and later still bread, really was in them. We of course who live on a standardised international diet (you may have had Canadian flour, English meat, Scotch oatmeal, African oranges, & Australian wine to day) are really artificial beings and have no connection (save in sentiment) with any place on earth. We are synthetic men, uprooted. The strength of the hills is not ours.

Feb 15, 2024

More on Genres

The first choice for most readers was epic fantasy. Contemporary fantasy came second. This doesn't really surprise me. I enjoy both of these.

Since asking, I've been considering other possibilities. Some of them are very different from each other. Two such genres are historical fantasy and science fiction. I like both, but probably one of the stories I most enjoyed writing was a historical fantasy short story set in 7th century Britain.

I enjoyed the research, and the actual task of putting a fantasy story within a real historical period. The historical details, I made as accurate as I could. The fantasy is obviously fantasy, but I tamed down the magic a lot. Actually, I can't imagine writing any big magic in a historical fantasy.

Feb 12, 2024

Your Favourite Genres!

Which do you prefer: science fantasy, contemporary fantasy, epic fantasy, or planetary romance?

Or something else?

Leave a message at the bottom of this page or on my social media...

amazing science fantasy

Feb 10, 2024

Blue Prometheus Reaches Top 10

Blue Prometheus has reached the Top 10 on Kobo UK for fantasy and sci-fi!

You can try it here for just £0.99!

Continue reading "Blue Prometheus Reaches Top 10"

Jan 29, 2024

Fantasy in Chinese for Language Learning

As well as journaling and using my own stories to help me learn new languages, I also like reading easy stories that I used to love as a child, but in Chinese or Spanish.

When I was a child, I absolutely loved C.S. Lewis's Narnia books. I read and reread them so many times. Using a similar approach when learning a foreign language also works well. Just as children (and sometimes adults too) love to reread their favourite stories, making them their own, so it's really useful when you want to make a new language your own.

Here are a couple of examples I've been using with my Chinese learning.

The first is a simple children's book. To be honest, the story's not too exciting for me, but it's useful as I can understand about 85% of the characters. Often, this approach is known as using comprehensible input to learn a language. Although I feel a little bored with the mummy book, it does give me useful practice.

With the Narnia book—A Horse and His Boy—my understanding drops a lot. This is a kind of 'incomprehensible' input. I open the book to a random page, and then read what I can. My understanding drops to about 15%, but I slowly recognise more characters. And, in this case, I actually do like the story, even though I'm no longer a child.

I'd love to hear if you've ever used fantasy (or SF) to learn a foreign language.

children's fantasy covers in Chinese

Jan 25, 2024

Language Learning with My Stories

Recently, I've been experimenting with new ways of learning languages. I've always enjoyed journaling in English, and I've begun to do the same in the two languages I'm working on at the moment.

Making another language your own is one of the best ways of learning it. I've come across people who create stories to practice the vocabulary and grammar in the language they're learning. I want to do the same in the future, but I also thought it'd be fun to translate some short stories—or parts of them—that I've written in English into other languages.

I've used Google Translate. It's quite good, but not perfect. I'll check the details later, but I'm enjoying playing the audio version. The next step will be to work on the written form.

Here's the very beginning of Young Aina in Chinese:

我很早就醒了,從床上跳了起來。 那是我十二歲生日,父親答應帶我飛越山牆,飛到下面的山谷。 我高興得幾乎要叫出來,但當妹妹在睡夢中醒來時,我及時制止了自己。

And in Spanish:

Me levanté temprano y salté de la cama. Era mi duodécimo cumpleaños y mi padre había prometido llevarme en avión más allá de la pared de la montaña y hacia el valle. Casi grité de alegría, pero me detuve justo a tiempo cuando mi hermana menor se despertó en sueños.

Do you learn or speak any other languages?

Jan 21, 2024

3 Books in Kobo Sale!

25% off The Darkling Odyssey, The Orange Witch, and the complete Blue Prometheus boxset on Kobo until the 29th January!

Add the promo code JANSALE at checkout to receive the discount.

Continue reading "3 Books in Kobo Sale!"

Jan 18, 2024

Around Shiding

A walk to the shops near my house. My best ideas come when I'm taking break.

river in shiding=

Jan 17, 2024

Kobo Sale!

25% off The Darkling Odyssey, The Orange Witch, and the Blue Prometheus boxset on Kobo from the 19th to 29th of January!

A good opportunity to buy the second book in each series, or the first series boxset.

Links to The Darkling Odyssey.

Continue reading "Kobo Sale!"

Jan 16, 2024

A Re-enchanted World (2)

Another image from my work in progress. The re-enchanted world is being brought alive through people's desires, and through increased drug use.

The result may not be as attractive as it seems.

a fairy in an enchanted world=

Jan 05, 2024

Another Image from the Enchanted World

a fairy in an enchanted world=

Jan 02, 2024

A Re-enchanted World

In 2024, I want to focus on longer fiction after spending a lot of time last year experimenting with short stories.

My new novel's a story about the re-enchantment of the world. Faeries and other supernatural creatures have returned, partly because of the collapse of values and increasing chaos in the human world. The increasing use of drugs society only accelerates the problem.

a fairy in an enchanted world=

Dec 28, 2023

Young Aina on Sale!

Young Aina is on sale at Smashwords—till January 1st. Reduced from $0.99 to free!

Aina and her father are pursued deep into the ancient forest by a deadly enemy. To her father’s concern, the forest speaks to his daughter, awakening a natural magic within her. Will Aina’s magic awaken in time to save the lives of both her and her father?

a panther approaches a young woman in an alien forest=

Continue reading "Young Aina on Sale!"

Dec 14, 2023

An Offer of Redemption

When an investigative reporter arrives at the house of a corrupt politician, one who's rumoured to practice black magic, he's surprised to see a woman standing in his living room challenging him.

Continue reading "An Offer of Redemption"

Dec 11, 2023

An Orange Flower Glowed in Greeting

She touched an orange flower, and it brightened in response.

From The Orange Witch

an orange flower glows in the dark forest=

Dec 05, 2023

The Magic of Charm

Charm was one of the most enjoyable types of magic, and she waited while her magic worked its way into the man. His energy was dense, and warmth was alien to him. He began to brush off her charm, but she sensed cracks in his armour, and through those cracks she poured love. Nothing sentimental or romantic. Simply the fulfilment of need, of which this deprived man had many. For a moment, she became a healer. Confused, he blinked away a tear, and she entered the lower reception.

From The Orange Witch

beautiful woman in armour. a blue light around her heart=

Dec 01, 2023

A Flight of Rocs

A flight of rocs landed breathing fire. Each of the birds radiated power, and each stood twice the height of a human.

From Fire Rising

a flight of fire-breathing rocs=

Nov 26, 2023

Hobs n Dogs

NightCafe_Hobs garden sprites

Hobs n' Dogs is a short story in which an old man is visited by two hobs who entrust him with the care of some very unusual creatures

Continue reading "Hobs n Dogs"

Nov 25, 2023

A Gathering in the Inn of the Sixth Heaven

In a candlelit inn, on a hidden lane in London, a gathering of magicians, princes, seers, and spies takes place.

An imagined scene from my work in progress, which I'm writing as part of the Nanowrimo month.

gathering of magicians in london inn=

Nov 23, 2023

A Telepathic Dog

“Food?” the dog asked in the True Language.

Lucy was taken aback. It was rare for an animal to initiate a telepathic conversation with a human. “No, I’m sorry.” Unsure what else to say, she waited.

From Fire Rising

black telepathic dog=

Nov 22, 2023

Nineteen Eighty-Four

I'm currently rereading Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. It's been a long time since I last read the novel. It's a bit dry, but still good. I'd forgotten the secret romance.

In part, it's research, because my new novel also has some dystopian themes.

This is the old Penguin edition.

old penguin cover of 1984=

Nov 21, 2023

Rock Magic

He studied the crystals. They were midnight blue and beautiful. Their life pulsed in his hand, and he stroked them with soft rock magic, polishing them. “They want to grow.”

Thomas using rock magic, from Fire Rising

blue crystals growing=

Nov 17, 2023

Lucy is Concerned about Thomas's Dark Dreams

“She’s dead, Thomas. If she was reborn, she’d be a baby. How would you find her amongst the millions of babies born every day? And then she wouldn’t know you. Thomas, stop this. You’re worrying me.”

From Fire Rising after Lucy tells him that dreams don't raise the dead.

surrealistic fantasy forest on alien planet=

Nov 16, 2023

Dreams Don't Raise the Dead

“Dreams don’t raise the dead.” Lucy was sweating heavily; she wiped dirt from her face.

“The Aina you saw was spirit.”

“But . . .”

From Fire Rising

surrealistic fantasy forest with planet rising in the sky=

Nov 13, 2023

A Golden Dragon is Born

Far away, in the distant peaks of the Eastern Rim, a golden dragon was born. She shone in the early morning sun, her scales glittering brightly as she crawled from her cracked egg towards the frothing pool.

From Fire Rising

golden dragon by pool=

Nov 12, 2023

Sailing through the Inner Sea to the Planet's Core

The shore faded from view, and they sailed deeper into the red sea, towards the bright yellow sphere in the centre of the planet.

From The Darkling Odyssey

barge on an orange sea

Nov 11, 2023

Albino Troll with Mystical Tattoos

An albino troll, red-eyed with long white hair, blocked his way. Tattoos of mythical scenes covered his half-naked muscular body. And Thomas sensed more than physical power.

From The Darkling Odyssey

an albino troll covered with mystical tattoos

Nov 10, 2023

Blue Prometheus Series Sale on Kobo

The Blue Prometheus boxset is on sale on Kobo. 40% off the regular price. Click on the link and then to to the 'fantastical adventure' section. You'll need to enter NOV40 at checkout!

Continue reading "Blue Prometheus Series Sale on Kobo"

Nov 07, 2023

Red Eyes Stared from the Cave Walls

Lucy screamed and scrambled away from the wall, wiping saliva from her face as a large snout pushed out of the rocks. Bright red eyes stared and then vanished back into the rocks.

From The Darkling Odyssey, when Lucy and Thomas journeyed to the centre of the planet.

a red eye stares from the cave wall

Nov 04, 2023

Journey to the Centre of the Planet

They fell through the hot and sticky liquid rock, their combined magic lighting them up like a rocket shooting into the depths of the planet.

From The Darkling Odyssey when Thomas and Lucy journeyed through the mantle and then into the core of the planet—a place with its own magical life.

travelling through the planet's mantle

Nov 02, 2023

Monkey Oracle Card

A magical monkey oracle card from The Darkling Odyssey.

a magical monkey oracle card

Nov 01, 2023

NaNoWriMo Nov 2023

Unexpectedly, I'm starting a new novella (or perhaps a novel—I'm not sure how long it will be) at the beginning of NaNoWriMo month.

Cheating a bit because I've already written 7,000 words, but perhaps I can finish a first draft. Not promising, even to myself, because I write slowly, but it's possible. This won't be doorstopper size.

The story starts in London some time after the new world government gains power, and with it, brings terror.

Oct 30, 2023

The Wolf Oracle

As she turned the deck over, a card jumped out. Turning over the card, she saw a wolf staring at her.

“Were you speaking to me earlier?”

“Who else? And I lent you my fleas, too.” She involuntarily scratched herself. “They’ve gone now. Mostly.”

“Who are you?” Lucy had used oracle cards before but had never imagined cards like this.

From The Darkling Odyssey

a magical wolf oracle card

Oct 29, 2023

Repelling Leeches

The mist covered islet lay several yards ahead when their boat ran aground on a mudbank. It was impossible to move. They left it and waded through the swamp. All the time, Lucy was repelling the leeches that swam towards them. As soon as she stood on the muddy beach, she double-checked for any that had stuck to her.

From The Darkling Odyssey

Young woman magically repelling leeches

Oct 25, 2023

Carillons in Fantasy

I've just learnt about a new (for me) musical instrument. The carillon. They have a keyboard that looks like wooden skittles sticking out of a giant piano, and somewhere above—often in a bell tower—they have 23-77 bells, and can weigh up to 100 tons.

Originally, they were from the Low Countries, but I want them in my next fantasy. When played, the whole town will hear the music.

Listen to Bach played on carillon (links to YouTube)

carillon on a truck

Oct 23, 2023

Green Head with Gnashing Teeth

A burnt green head with gnashing teeth floated towards her. It watched her with cold, intelligent eyes. Despite the cold, she was sweating heavily; she knew this was not a dream. A part of herself had somehow travelled to another place. If the silver cord attaching her to her body snapped, she would die.

From Blue Prometheus

an evil green head with gnashing teeth floating in the air

Oct 19, 2023

The Final Voyage

This was the final voyage of the ancient mariners.

From Blue Prometheus

a wild sea stretching up to the universe

Oct 18, 2023

Social Media—Pinterest

Here's the link to my Pinterest page. It's quite new—at least—I've only recently begun to actively post there, so I'd appreciate any new followers!

Continue reading "Social Media—Pinterest"

Oct 18, 2023

Social Media—Instagram

I've begun to post on new (to me) social media platforms. Previously, I only posted on my here and on Facebook. Now I post on Instagram and Pinterest.

If you're interested, you're welcome to join me on Instagram.

Continue reading "Social Media—Instagram"

Oct 15, 2023

A Thought Disturbed the Darkling Sea

A thought disturbed the darkling sea. From beyond our universe, it rippled through the millions upon millions of galaxies and on through the many planes of the universe that lay together so closely intertwined that few could distinguish between them.

The opening lines of Blue Prometheus.

the universe visible from the sea

Oct 12, 2023

Six Ideas for Novels in Six Months

After outlining four novels in the past six months, only to find that none of them really worked, I've finally developed an idea I like. Two, actually.

My fifth outline is for a contemporary fantasy - science fantasy blend set in mostly in London and somewhere not of our world.

In a recent flash fiction challenge, I had a sixth idea that may work better as a novel than as flash fiction. I've written a rough outline I like, but have put it to one side, for now. It's set in a distinct fantasy world.

I'm now writing a new novel based on the fifth outline.

Oct 11, 2023

Surrealistic Forest on Blue Prometheus

If she hadn’t known how deadly almost every living plant, insect, and animal on the planet was, she would’ve thought the scene quite idyllic, in a surrealistic sort of way. The forest was bright: a sign of calm, perhaps. The scene reminded her of pictures of old Venus, before it had been poisoned and desecrated, although it’d probably never had the pure energy of Prometheus.

Aina in Blue Prometheus.

dark almost idyllic forest with dragonflies over the river

Oct 10, 2023

The Forests Radiate Fear

The country is feeling despondent and depressed. The forests radiate fear.”

The forests in the north of England have changed.

From The Orange Witch

the forest radiates fear

Oct 07, 2023

Hobs n' Dogs has just been Published in Galician

Hobs n' Dogs has just been published in Galician in Nova Fantasia.

They translated it as Trasnos e Cans, which, as far as I know, translates as Goblins and Dogs in English. I wondered how they'd translate hobs, which is regional in English.

It’s interesting for me to read a story I know so well, in a language I don’t know, but feel like I know, because I can read Spanish, to some extent, and Portuguese a little. Galician is related to both, but closer to Portuguese.

The link leads to the magazine:

strange orange plants

Continue reading "Hobs n' Dogs has just been Published in Galician"

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