FanArt Review: Behind the Veil

I’m going to start out by saying that EJ is my friend, so obviously there’s a bias here. In fact, the first few reviews I’m doing will generally be for people/books I know in some way.

That being said, I like to think the reviews are honest, even if there’s a bias toward the positive. But that’s also just who I am 😊

Behind the Veil: historical gothic horror (with romantic leanings). Behind the Veil (BtV) was published by Literary Wanderlust, and is E.J. Dawson’s most enthralling work to date. It has tight prose, swoony romance, and a dark gothic mystery riddled with equally morbid content warnings.

Letitia Hawking can see beyond the veil.
More specifically, she can see the imprint that souls make as they pass through the veil, and uses this insight to give closure to those grieving, following the Great War. Scarred by her own past with the dead and the veil, this is a safe, and moderately profitable venture pursued out of goodwill, and her desire to make amends for her own terrifying past.
All of that falls apart when several young girls go missing, and their distraught parents demand Letitia’s help in forms she can’t give. Cue Mr. Alasdair Driscoll, a dashing lawyer whose niece is caught up in the disappearances too. As the two investigate and grow closer, Letitia has to face the decision she’s been avoiding the entire time: use her abilities more actively, for real-time, real-world benefit, or refuse to help and stay safe from her traumatic past.

I ADORED this. My favourite books are typically fantasy or sci-fi, but I was thrilled with Behind the Veil for everything it is. As a work of historical fiction it was insightful, the setting felt real and immersive, but it was Mr Driscoll and Ms Hawking’s growing affections that kept me glued to the pages. Letitia is a beautiful character, a perfect blend of warm and caring motherly love, and no-nonsense schoolteacher sternness. I cared for her and her struggles, cheered on the gallant Mr Driscoll’s pursuit of her, cried through her darkest moments, and cried when she healed on the pages before me. The writing itself was good, at times being truly beautiful and perfectly painted the atmosphere and the darkness both within and without.

However, readers should be warned of trigger warnings (potential spoilers). Dawson did approach each appropriately, so I personally only felt repulsed or upset at a few specific times, which seemed entirely intentional and the emotional impact was appropriate, and all things were ultimately resolved wholesomely enough. However, if readers have strong aversions to any of these major warnings, then Dawson’s writing is unfortunately immersive enough that it would be best to not read.

Spoilers: major content warnings for paedophilia, torture, miscarriage, death, possession, and mental illness, and secondary warnings for rape, suicide, and body horror.

With that being said, I highly recommend Behind the Veil. It was one of the best gothic horror books I have had the pleasure of reading, as well as one of the best historical fictions. If you like slow-burn romance, heroes and heroines with troubled pasts, ghosts, spirits, occultism, and all things gothic and dark, then this is a must-read.

Read more about it at EJ’s website, as well as links to find it.

Stories of Survival: FanArt Review

This is my first post for my “FanArt Reviews” series. It was due a week ago, when the book launched. So, this is a little rushed, but here goes.


“STORIES OF SURVIVAL is a charity anthology inspired by and dedicated to the memory of Aiki Flinthart, with all proceeds going to the Melanoma Institute of Australia. Cancer has touched the lives of many, and the Australian Speculative Fiction community has banded together to try and make a difference.”

I had never met Aiki. I barely knew her. So, it is astonishing how I still feel her loss in Australia’s spec fic community. I’ve heard only good things. I miss her, and I didn’t even know her. She wrote many things, one of which was a craft book on writing fight scenes, called “Fight Like a Girl” which I recommend checking out too.

Since this anthology is for charity, do you really need to hear more? Go buy the book. Now.

Okay okay, fine, I’ll review it.


I don’t know about you, dear reader, and how you’ve been coping with the pandemic, but it has been a rough couple of years. Unfortunately, that means that this anthology was much darker than I was prepared for. It started as a difficult read, but fortunately it is an anthology, so the stories were all bite sized, and I could chip away at them over coffee or before bed, which was great. The stories also got lighter in the latter half.

So what are the stories, you ask? All different kinds! There’s distant- and near- future sci-fi, varied fantasy, and even some contemporary spec fic stories. There’s really dark deathly stories, and heart-warming baking. There’s couriers and criminals, dragons and whales, astrology, and, you guessed it, koi fish.

All the stories fundamentally deal with survival, whether it’s the immediate, the long-term, the close and personal, or the communities we are all intrinsically tied to. The darkness of the stories highlights humanity’s inner light, the fire of the living spirit, and wow it was a lot.

Please check out Stories of Survival. The writing was all excellent, the ideas were great, and this was another tremendous story collection from Deadset Press.


What is #7DayTale?

It’s a monthly prompt game run on Twitter! The goal is to create a story in 7 Tweets, tweeted across 7 days. The game starts the first Monday of each month, and finishes the following Sunday. The theme will be announced the week prior. As well as the theme, there are optional words you can try to work in throughout your story.

Make sure you tweet your story using the hashtag #7DayTale! It’s also good if you can create a thread of your story (ie. add each instalment as a “comment” on your previous one), so that people can easily read the whole story at the end!

Your story can be a new piece of flash fiction, a poem, or an excerpt from a work in progress, either old or new! All genres welcome.

Please keep stories respectful. Remember that compassion and empathy are at the heart of good storytelling.

This game is about writing and finding inspiration together. Ian and I are looking forward to reading your stories!

2021 schedule:

January 11th                                                   July 5th

February 1st                                                    August 2nd

March 1st                                                         September 6th

April 5th                                                           October 4th

May 3rd                                                             November 8th

June 7th                                                             December 6th


Contact Ian or myself, here or on Twitter, if you have any questions!

FAQS (jk, nobody asked, this is additional information just in case you’re wondering)

  • Q: Can I play the game on other platforms?

Absolutely! Just let one of us know so we can support you there. Also keep Twitter’s character limits in mind.

  • Q: Something something about rights?

All rights to your stories are yours. But be aware that by posting things into a public space, others might be inspired by your ideas.

  • Q: How creative can I get with interpreting the prompts?

We really do not mind, have fun!

  • Q: What if I want to use a word, but conjugate it or spell it differently?

Go for it, please. Ie. Colour -> color, colours, colouring, coloured. They’re all good! It’s great that you’re using the words! If you interpreted colour as cooler though that would be interesting and different, you can try if you’d like.

  • Q: Can I post any time of the day? What about timezones? What if I miss a day?

We are very relaxed. Tweet on the day in your timezone, catch up if you fall behind, don’t get put off if your timezone is a day ahead or behind.

Thanks for reading. Have a great 2021, and we’re looking forward to writing and creating with you!


January: Golden, Ring, Broken, Shard, February: Keep, Tough, Saviour, Finish

There are so many great art prompt lists out there, especially for October! There’s sure to be one to interest any artist! However, after joining in #ArtoberFest in 2020, I found it too stressful. With full time work as well as a daily painting, I was so artistically drained by the end of the month that I barely painted anything in November.

So, I thought of a yearly prompt idea instead: #ArtYear. This prompt list is very casual, having 4 prompts per month. And as you can see, you can read them all right now! This gives you the ability to pick just one if you’ve got a busy month, or just 2, or do one in advance if you either don’t have time or would like to take your time. Or, in the cases where months have strong themes (such as Animal April or Avatar August), you’re perfectly welcome to composite all four prompts into the one image! Whatever you’d like. Also, you can use whatever media you’d like.

I hope this list will help anyone. 2020 was such a shocking year, I hope everyone pulled through it okay. We’ll make 2021 a better year by painting/creating through it!

You’re welcome to say hi using either the contact form here, or finding me on social media, I’m very friendly. We’ve got a discord server too, message me if you’d like to join. I’ll be browsing the # on Instagram and Twitter through the year, I’m looking forward to seeing your artwork!


Mental Health in 2020

2020 has been a wild, terrible year. If you’re feeling pretty terrible because of it too, please feel free to reach out and chat, or reach out to your loved ones and friends. Everything is better when we share with our communities, and support others in turn.

Feelings of anxiety and helplessness are extremely high right now, and if talking it through with your family isn’t helping, then it’s not weakness to seek professional support. Trained professionals can not only help you right now, but they will also give you the insight and skills to help you in future crisis’ as well, with things such as stress management and learning to recognise and understand your thought processes.

Mindfulness can also help, and although we’re encouraged to stay indoors during the pandemic, exercise is important, and vitamin D even more so.

Whatever you’re feeling or going through, remember that you’re not alone, we can make a difference, and we will all get through this.