Sunday, 29 November 2009

A new story begins

Monday morning, and the move is over, such as it is. The weather's dim, but hot and muggy - like a tropical springtime. I'm sitting on my work chair with the machine in my lap, in Mum's living room, which is packed full with my desk, travelbags and several boxes of personal belongings. The rest of my stuff is stacked on the bed in the spare room, which is why I'm sleeping on my mattress laid out right here at my feet. Now I just have to remember what it was that I was doing before life got disrupted. There's certainly a lot of work to do - the freelance translations piled up a bit over the weekend - and also for Splashdown Books. I have to send out a bunch of free books, edit the next one to come out, and chase up those elusive marketing connections as well as prospective authors. All while living here without any personal space at all, and helping to renovate this old place - a HUGE job in fact, but we'll just have to take it one room at a time.

And what about the writing? Writing, you say? Hmm. Well, it hasn't been happening much lately except for a sentence or two hurriedly tapped out on my phone here and there. But you'll be glad to hear that I've just come up with yet another idea for a novel that could become more - for a total of five storyworlds I move in. This one's a superhero jaunt, and like all my best ideas, it's grown from a thought I've wondered about for years. Enough said - it's still brewing in the back of my mind.

In the meantime, I've been thinking about adding a new aspect to my blog posts here, and I'd love your feedback. You'll agree that my blogging is more random and rare than anything else. Some folks blog several times a week without breaking a sweat - not me! Others say blogging is good practice for writing novels. Maybe so. But if I have half an hour to write, I'd much rather spend it on advancing a novel than writing a blog which will end up forgotten in the mists of cyberspace. Practice schmacktice.

Anyway, since I've got three and a half novels completed, of which one is published, I thought I might start posting chunks of them here for you to read. A couple of weeks back I posted the opening of Legendary Space Pilgrims and it seemed to go over well. Since my publisher - ahem - is not concerned with first rights or copyright issues on unpublished material, there would be no problem in posting more of the same. Or bits of Cyberdublin...or even Godspeed. You can then even assist in improving the rough-draft versions of these excerpts, if you're so inclined, or just come along for the ride.

So tell me what you think. Would you be interested in reading scenes from my unpublished novels? And do you think I should do it here or over at Splashdown Books, aiming to include work by my other authors as well? Your comments are greatly appreciated...

Monday, 16 November 2009

Legendary Space Pilgrims - the first pages

Time for a taste-test of my upcoming release. I hope to have it out by the end of January, edits and private life permitting! Have a read, if you care to, and tell me if you'd pick up this book if you saw it on a bookstore shelf...


The clang of the work-bells forced its way into Mario’s consciousness. A sliver of light pushed through his eyelids, and he pried them all the way open.

Morning again. Monday morning. But on Planet Monday, every day was the same. No joke. He threw back the thick rough-woven blanket and heaved himself upright.

His limbs were slow to respond as he lurched into the plastic wet-cell that towered beside his bed. What had he been up to last night? It sure didn’t feel like he’d slept the full nineteen hours. He slid the pane across the opening and flinched at the shock of the cold water. After thirty seconds the water switched off and he stood still as the airdryers around the cell’s base kicked in. The air wasn’t much warmer than the water, but it felt good.

Stepping out of the cell into the two-by-four-foot floor space of his living quarters, he opened the long drawer built under the bed and pulled out a sky-grey tracksuit, standard issue. Some things never changed. He chased the thought across his consciousness and peered out the tiny window above the bed. Square grey buildings met his gaze. Above hung the eternal grey clouds. Nothing ever changed on Monday. Unless…

Unless he’d been mindwiped.

He groaned and let himself sink onto the brown bedcover. Looking up at the emergency transport tube access in the ceiling just above head height, he examined its round rim. No dust. That meant the tube had been used in the last few hours. Dust coated everything on Monday within just a few hours.

He blinked and shivered as he stared unseeing at the vid-wall’s moving feed of Ocean region. Last night, they’d sucked him up that tube. Wiped his emotional memory. Extreme feelings were erased from the workers—a technique no one ever remembered going through. But everyone knew it happened, since afterwards only the simplest facts remained. Had he really been emoting so badly?

Mario scratched his head, put on his boots, then the second bell sounded. He rose, seized his blade-gloves by the cuffs, and moved to the door as it swished open simultaneously with all the other doors up and down the hallway.

The two hundred inhabitants of the third floor stepped out of their quarters as one. To be precise, the third floor of Wing B, Building 17, Sector X9, Foodstuffs Region, Planet Monday. The doors swished closed again and the workers turned to march towards 17’s central hub.

Mario strode over the hallway’s threshhold to the third-floor lobby and accepted a breakfast pack from the dispenser in the doorway. He bit off the cap and squeezed the warm coffee-flavoured sludge into his gullet on his way to the mass transport tube. He joined the line in front of Wing B’s accessway and guzzled the rest of his breakfast while he waited. Smiles greeted him, but he’d lost all memory of their owners.

Monday-morning-itis. The clown who named this planet deserved to be recrewed to Sewage Region. Just because they discovered it on a Monday…since when do you have Mondays in space, anyhow?

He chucked the empty plastic foodsack in a waste unit to the left of the accessway, slipped on the bladed work-gloves, and stepped into the pod that opened before him.

The thin plastic shell closed. A jolt accompanied the sudden blackness as the pod began its journey. The familiar whoosh of the surrounding air calmed him, which was a bonus for the emo-reader implanted in his neck. If it didn’t detect strong emotions, he wouldn’t get sent to be mindwiped. But it was too late for that. Again.

The chip in his neck beeped, warning him to prepare for landing. An open accessway lit up the pod from below just before its bottom opened, dropping him out of the tube. His knees bent to take the impact. He shot out of the darkness feet-first to land at the edge of a vast field of oats.

Mario flexed his elbows and knees, noting new bruises on his wrist, shoulder and lower leg as well as the usual ankle stress from landing. As far as he knew, the transport tubes had never killed anyone, although they sure doled out a beating-up to those who used them. But he’d come off lightly today.

To his left and right, other morning-dazed freshly-podspit bladers slowly righted themselves and faced the day’s task. X9 was Monday’s oat capital. Their harvest became the breakfast porridge served by dispensers in every part of the planet.

Nineteen hours, and counting down. Days were long here, but then, so were the nights. The line of workers moved forward, cutting the oat-stalks with the blades sewn into the thumbs and index fingers of their gloves, then releasing them to be sucked into the transport tubes that filled the grey sky with their spidery network. No longer set to carry human-occupied pods, the tubes now gently removed the harvest for processing in X9’s huge barns some miles away to the east. To the west, the first of the dormitories was barely visible on the horizon. Ahead, to the north, grew oats and oats and oats, fading into the skyline where they met the cold whiteness of the clouds.

Mario paused and pulled off his gloves to raise his jacket’s hood and tighten its edge around his face. Monday had no weather to speak of—at least not like on Old Earth as he’d seen in the vid-hall movies. Only night and day. But it sure was cold, except where the sunlampsglowed from the undersides of tubes. For the crop, of course, not the workers. He shrugged and threw himself into the rhythm of the work, just as he’d done on more than two thousand other days since coming to X9.

What happened yesterday? What had he done to deserve this mindwipe? As he struggled to remember, he caught sight of dark-blond dreadlocks peeking out under the hood of the worker to his right. A sudden shock of delight rippled through his chest. His chip gave a single low beep. 10% of critical emo-level has been reached. Adrenaline pumped though him.

Ten percent wasn’t really dangerous, but it could get that way. He worked a little faster so as to get ahead of his neighbour, then cast a quick glance back. The lumpy dreadlocks framed a pale and petite face, with brown eyes that gazed steadily back into his own.

His heart began to hammer. Two beeps sounded. Twenty percent.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove

I have been hearing about this book from multiple directions and gained more than a passing suspicion that it involved supernatural elements. I have to tell you right here that the title is the most supernatural thing about it, but as titles go, surely this one's got to be a strong provocation for readers of the supernatural genre.

Kate's husband Kevin is dead. But he still talks to her. She's having trouble remembering what happened in the last weeks and months of his life, but his disembodied voice comes to her when she least expects it. Kate sets about to try and find the reason and the source, but her lack of success, combined with the odd facts that keep surfacing from the past, drive her to the edge of sanity.

Almost by accident she becomes involved in a city youth centre and is intrigued by the advice of the pastor there. Yet she is thrown off by a nasty encounter with a different reverend. Gradually she realises that a part of her memory has gone missing, and begins to dig for the whole truth.

This is a deeply realistic portrait of the human response to tragedies. Kate finds no quick fixes, but she does find a way to go on. This story faces up to life's toughest questions and answers them in the end with gritty hope. So it's not strictly supernatural, though it touches on many aspects of spirituality. What it is: a stunning psychological drama that can help you face your own issues. Mine seem small in light of Kate's, and she got through it. And so can I.

Other participants in this CFRB tour:

Rae - Caffeine and Romance
Renee - Black and Gold Girl's Book Spot
Julie - One Rainy Afternoon
Cathi - Cathi's Chatter
Lori - of My Favorite Books
Christy - Sassy Things
David – Christian Mystery Writers
Laura - Author Laura Davis

Friday, 6 November 2009

Books, Planes, and Airports

So. Here I am, globetrotting almost done with, sitting in an airport with a couple of hours to spare. What am I going to do? Blog, of course!

Things have been exciting lately, as well as incredibly busy, culminating in the upcoming launch of the first new book from my publishing house, Splashdown Books. This new release is The Muse by Fred Warren, a story I loved from the first time I encountered it. In it you'll meet Stan and his friends, wannabe writers who suddenly find themselves facing a source of inspiration like they never imagined - but more dangerous than they can believe. You can check out the trailers, blurbs and reviews at and the Amazon page at

If you're able, I would love for you to take part in the online launch party for The Muse by spreading the word on your social networks and blogs. I'm going to see if we can get a chat room on November 15 to celebrate the occasion. I'll keep you posted. As to what you can do, watch this space. I'll make a standard blurb-type post that will include a brief summary and the video trailer. Even if you haven't read the book, posting general information about it would be very helpful indeed!

Let me know if you'd like an electronic review copy, too. Everyone who posts a review will get a free print copy. By the way, I have re-released my first novel Faith Awakened under Splashdown Books and removed the old version from sales. There's a new ISBN too. And I'm well into writing the sequel - Godspeed, the journeys of Naomi Wallace.

Publishing plans for the new year include Legendary Space Pilgrims - though out of the blue, this manuscript has been invited to take part in the Marcher Lord Select program, which is something like American Idol for novels. My book is pitted against 35 other stories, and if you sign up to the Anomaly forum, you can cast your votes for as many of the entrants as you like (minimum 3). The winning manuscript will be published by Marcher Lord Press in April. Now it's not like I need that, because I have Splashdown Books ready and waiting (and the cover already designed!) to publish it about the same time. So feel free to vote for the others. Really. Go over and support the awesome idea of letting readers pick what they want.

I get home on Saturday - and boy, it's about time! You can see some of my travels on my blog and youtube, and I'll try to get some more stuff up after I get home. Thanks everyone for your support when my dad died. I miss him a lot; in some ways it's a hole in my life that will never go away. But if ever there was a true believer, it was him, and there is hope beyond this life. He was my first fan; he wrote my first review on Amazon; and even at his graduation from Bible college he was giving away copies of my book.

That's it for today - a lot of things to cover, but it's been a long time since I blogged! My heart remains partly in County Dublin, and in the south of France, and in a small town in Bavaria; but I'm a Kiwi through and through, and these many weeks now I've longed to hear the wind in the manuka trees and the call of the tui bird, and to see the sun sparkling on the water, and to smell the rain on the earth. So be it. Not far to go now.