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Robert Batten

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Author


Recommendation: Throne of Glass Series

My “WIR” posts are not reviews, but rather short recommendations for books I love.
I’m writing this post having just finished Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas. Empire is the fifth book in the Throne of Glass series, the five books being:

  1. Throne of Glass
  2. Crown of Midnight
  3. Heir of Fire
  4. Queen of Shadows
  5. Empire of Storms

Sarah J Maas has two fantasy series which I have been reading, and both have proven to be tales told with a sure, deft hand. If you enjoy fantasy and haven’t yet picked up one of her books, I strongly recommend grabbing a copy of either Throne of Glass or A Court of Thorns and Roses (first book in her other series).
The Throne of Glass series is set in the fantasy world of Erilea and follows the heart-wrenching adventures of Calaena Sardothien, the most renown assassin in the realm. I want to be careful not to give away too many spoilers, but from the start these books grab you by the scruff and drag you along behind wild horses. The pacing is fast, the dangers grand, and the myriad of schemes and plans intricate. I have yet to find fault with any of the books and am now destitute waiting for the next as the primary story ramps up to a climax of world-shattering proportions.
What type of fantasy are we talking? Humans (as you would expect), fae, witches (these are not the bubbling cauldron type), wyverns, shape shifters, daemons, and more.
You can find more info on the series on goodreads here, or pick up the first book on Amazon.

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Using em-dash in iOS

Using em-dash in iOS

As a writer, the em-dash is one of the most common characters I use that isn’t available easily on keyboards. Most word-processor applications will automatically convert two consecutive  hyphens “- -” (no space between) into an em-dash, but there are lots of other scenarios where you might want to use one.

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Red Eye

I wake.

Eyes snapping open, I seek familiarity in my surroundings, reassured by the comforting glow of charging devices on my bedside table.

Why did I wake? Ah.

Early start. Right.

What’s the time? Have I slept in?

I roll forward, careful to keep my movement slow and smooth, to not disturb my slumbering companion. It takes two attempts to find the home button on my phone, and when I do the screen screams at my eyes, indignant I’ve woken it.

3 am. Fuck, way too early.

I slump back into the welcoming divet in the mattress, willing myself to drift off and snatch an extra precious hour of rest. The sensation of drifting caresses me, lifting my body in its loving embrace, then receding like an outgoing tide. My brain rejoices, enthusiastic to commence the day’s thoughts.

It’s going to be a long day. Focus. Empty. Calm. Sleep.

I drain the noise from my mind, calming myself.

New episode of Supernatural tonight. I wonder what it’ll be like?

My right brow lowers, declaring its displeasure like a bull preparing to charge. The left is too weary, choosing not to engage.

Empty. Calm. Sleep.

Deep breath, air rushing in, expanding my chest, disturbing the covers. Exhale — slow, steady.

Seriously. Will it be a monster feature? Or meta-arc? I hope Crowley is in this one.

I hate you.

Hurt, my mind recedes. The tide rushes back in, sleep wrapping around me, sheltering me in its sweet cocoon.

Dun du dun, daa du dun. Dun du dun, daa du dun.


Oh, right. Alarm

Orienting myself, I war against conflicting demands — I must shut off the noise before it wakes my wife, but manage to move without waking her myself.

Somehow, in the nanosecond I was asleep, I’ve turned to face away from the bedside table. I roll, contorting as I do, grasping with a twisted arm to silence the infernal gadget.

Swipe. Miss. Swipe. Miss. Swipe — got it.

The relief is short-lived as I teeter on the edge of the bed — teeter, then drop, my knees arresting the fall when they greet the floor.


A statue. I am a gauche statue, resplendent in my nudity, frozen on the floor in an awkward pose. I am Jack, stumbling noisily whilst stealing the magical goose and now fearful I have woken its giant owner. My audience stirs, twisting into a new position, breathing deep and even.


Goosebumps rising in the chill morning air, I stare, a forlorn puppy put out for the night as I fantasise returning to the warm embrace of the blanket.

Unplugging my phone from its charging cable, I navigate the room using the meagre glow of its lock screen, reaching the bathroom triumphantly, only to trip over the tiny tidy bin — again.

“For the love of—”

Silence. Miraculous, sleeping silence.

With glacial progress, the door rolls shut. The noise a grinding roar.

Somehow I am still the only person awake. That anyone could have slept through my clumsy thundering movements defies belief. It deserves celebration, but such enthusiasm escapes me. Relying on muscle memory, I prepare; teeth, beard, hair. Each item of use finding a home in my travel bag as I go.

Clothes are next, blessedly prepared for the journey ahead and awaiting me in the closet. Dressing proves a plausible task — during which I only slam my arm into the wall once. Success!

Gathering up my things — toiletries, phone, tablet, chargers — I shamble down perilous stairs to the living room. My overnight bag lies waiting, packed but for the final supplies cradled in my arms.

As I traverse the carpeted floor, checking the time, my foot discovers the lego piece I hadn’t been looking for. Tears well, and I must scrunch my face to hold them back.

It doesn’t hurt.

This early in the day, the lie is half-hearted.

I take a deep, cleansing breath. The glowing numbers on my watch read 5:00. Time to go.

The roads are near empty – the one token blessing of consciousness at such an hour. The trip to the airport saunters by in an auto-pilot haze, no memory of the drive lingers.

Someone is parked in my spot.

There’s no sign, no marker painted on the bitumen. But it’s my spot. Opposite the pay machine and the arrivals hall, it’s where I always park — perfect for making a swift escape on my return. A large four-wheel-drive squats there, daring me to make a move.

I glide by, coasting into a spot further down. In my mind, the offensive vehicle explodes in flames and justice.

Joining the security line conga, I dance through the routine. The moves are familiar, friendly. Soon, I am deposited on the far side, collecting my detritus and stacking it back in my bags. I am so close now I can feel it.

Coffee waits around the corner.

Overpriced. Mediocre. Glorious. A jolt of happiness to light my way just as dawn begins peaking over the horizon.

The burgeoning light outside reveals the first plunging drops of a downpour.

They call my flight.

The wonderful thing about small city airports? You walk across the tarmac, rain or shine…

It’s going to be a long day.

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Recommendation: Asteroid Made of Dragons

Asteroid Made of Dragons is actually the third book in the Spell/Sword series by G. Derek Adams. I didn’t realise I was jumping in part-way through a series when I picked it up, but thankfully it didn’t matter. There are references to events in the previous books, but there was enough in the books that I could pick up what I needed to and still enjoy the book.
What is Asteroid Made of Dragons? A sci-fi / fantasy mashup with a delightful sense of humour. The book kept me excited and engaged from cover to cover. It is set in a complex world and spins an epic tale with characters you can’t help but love. This is a world that is screaming out for more stories. I sincerely hope Adams grants us passage back sometime soon. In the meantime, I will be going back to read the first two books set in the world; Spell/Sword and The Riddle Box.
You can find Asteroid Made of Dragons on Inkshares here, Goodreads or Amazon.

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A God in the Shed Optioned

Those of you who follow my blog will already know I’m a fan of JF Dubeau’s The Life Engineered.
This week, news broke that his next book, A God in the Shed has been optioned by Skydance for TV development. See the announcement on The Tracking Board here.

So you’ve inadvertently trapped an ancient trans-dimensional god in your backyard shed; what do you do? That’s what Venus McKenzy and her friends would like to know.

This is exciting news -- both because I think Dubeau is a great author and I’m excited for him, and because it is another milestone for Inkshares as they continue to disrupt the publishing industry.
Congratulations to both JF Dubeau and the Inkshares team!

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The Launchpad Manuscript Competition- Top 75 Announced

Back in August I submitted Human Resources to The Launchpad Manuscript Competition. Today they announced their first round of finalists – the Top 75 – and HR made the list!
I’m still processing this news. The competition is a partnership between Scott Free Productions (Ridley Scott), Energy Entertainment, and Inkshares.
There are some heavy hitters involved in this contest.
Judging to select the top 75 involved industry professionals completing two reads of the submitted manuscripts and scoring the entries. Moving forward, there will be a whittling down from the top 75, to the top 50, to the top 25, then to a final 10.
I am humbled to have HR included in this group. Even if it doesn’t make it further in the competition, I have now received validation that the novel has potential to be successful.
I don’t believe The Tracking Board (who run the competition) have released numbers, but from what I have been able to tell (submission IDs) there were thousands of entries.
I have a feeling this is where the hard work begins, but I’m eager to ride the roller-coaster! Stay tuned for more updates.
You can learn more about my sci-fi Human Resources here.

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