Category: Guest Post


Guest Post : L. A. MacFadden

As promised, if a little late, here’s the guest post I mentioned back on Tuesday! Here’s L. A. MacFadden talking a little about what gets her interested in writing stories. Enjoy!

Myth Agent cover

Way back in the 1970’s I read Time and Again, by Jack Finney. I have a copy of it, but I haven’t ever read it again—it has stayed with me since that first time—as have a few other great books, such as  John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath—which changed the way I looked at the world when I read it in eighth grade. When I set out to write Myth Agent, I didn’t want to replicate any part of someone else’s book, but I did want to write something that would stay with some readers, like those books have with me.

I love to read old newspapers. The news stories of days gone by add to the history I have tucked away in my mind, but the advertisements in old papers from, say, 1850, always fire me up. Some flesh and blood person so long ago actually dipped their quill pen in an inkwell and wrote an ad for, let’s say, a room for rent. Then someone carried the advertisement to the newspaper office on foot, on horseback or some horse-drawn conveyance. And when the paper was printed and distributed, someone read it and made their way to the address in question to inquire about the room. Who was the person who wrote the ad? Why did they suddenly have a room to let? And who was the person answering the ad? What were their stories? It doesn’t take a lot to get my imagination working overtime.

I’ve spent plenty of time in antique shops and have hauled plenty of old merchandise home with me. I suppose it stands to reason, then, that part of Myth Agent is set in an antique shop owned by a woman named Odessa—the shop is called Odessa’s Quest. When I needed certain antiques in a few passages in the book I was able to refer to some of my own collection for details. It can’t get much handier than that! Another part of the book focuses on dreams; maybe because sometimes I wake up from sound sleep remembering very vivid story dreams. I guess Myth Agent combines two ideas—the writing advice I’ve read and been told so many times to ‘write what you know’—with my own advice to myself—’write what you don’t know but your brain just conjures up!’

People close to me are used to having me write things like the happy short stories I wrote for my children when they were young, or light-hearted romances ending in happily ever after. But the real reason I started writing the soft science fiction Myth Agent, is that I just wanted to shake things up! Now I’m working on the next book in the series, because I have to find out what happens next!

LA MacFadden author pic

About L.A. MacFadden

I was raised in small towns in Oregon, Washington, and Montana, and I am still a small town person at heart. I married my high school sweetheart in 1975, and after he got out of the Marines, we settled in western Oregon. We have two grown children, and two wonderful granddaughters. Being part of this family is very important to us.

Our home is out in the country, near the Columbia River Gorge. The wind here is frightful in the winters—sometimes it roars at eighty-plus mph for days. The fury of the wind causes boughs to grow only on one side of the evergreens! But the calm days here in this beautiful area make up for it. We live in a small house situated between forest and pasture, with a lovely view of Mt. Hood in the distance. When it’s quiet—no high winds—I’m in the perfect writing place. I’m not one of those people who can write in a crowded coffee shop—although I do frequent coffee house drive-throughs!

Myth Agent on Amazon and Goodreads!

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Guest Post Grant Price

Hi all, this is the first post in a while I’ve gotten to host that focuses in on the getting published side of things. I found it interesting and hope you all do too. Enjoy!

The new end is the new beginning

“Too bleak. Pass.” When I started querying agents for By the Feet of Men, my dystopian cli-fi novel, this was the response I received from three different people within the first week. Okay, I thought, it just wasn’t for them. No need to worry. But it wasn’t until the fourth agent emailed me with feedback after requesting the full manuscript that I realised: I was going to have to rewrite the ending. Because it was indeed too bleak. As the agent said, it gave the reader nothing to cling on to, offered them little reward after spending 300+ pages with the characters they had become invested in, and effectively stated that the world I’d created was entirely devoid of hope. I perhaps should have realised that this is not the kind of message—especially in this day and age—anybody wants to walk away with.

The problem was that I was done with the dystopian world I’d created. I was exhausted after having spent two years sketching and erasing and colouring and shading. I didn’t want to go back in there, especially after my definitive (and naïve) gesture of christening the file “Draft 6_final”. Yes, I could have ignored the advice and continued to query. I could’ve taken heart from the stories of writers like Heller, Plath or Vonnegut who ploughed on in the face of rejection and refused to bow to the pressure of rewrites. But once a professional who looks at hundreds of manuscripts a month has taken the time to point out exactly where the flaws are in your story, you’d have to be pretty confident or (more likely) foolish to keep going down that same road. Artistic vision is great and all, but it’s better when other people get to experience your vision, too.

In the end, I thanked the agent, hid myself away and, even though I never wanted to look at it again, reopened the manuscript. Perhaps most surprisingly for me, it didn’t actually take long for a natural conclusion to appear. By the time I was finished, I had ended up adding three new chapters. They were good. They worked. They held up under the weight of the rest of the novel. The next time I submitted it, I received the following feedback: “strong ending with potential for a sequel”. That feedback happened to come from my future publisher. I signed the contract a week later. My new ending signalled the beginning of my career as an actual novelist.

With this in mind, here are my four tips for rewriting the ending of your work-in-progress even though you’ve sworn you’re absolutely, positively done.

 

  1. Listen to the advice you were given.

I touched on this above already, but it bears repeating: never be so unrelenting in your quest for artistic purity that you don’t listen to the advice of those around you. There is a difference between believing in a message that you absolutely want to tell the world and a story with a flabby midsection that requires a nip and tuck. Try not to take it personally, either. If somebody has made the effort to give you feedback, they probably did it because they found something in there that they believe is worth salvaging. Save your indignance for when you sell the thing and then start getting advance reviews from people who take just one sentence to trash your novel. And your dreams. And your belief in the goodness of humanity.

 

  1. Find enough enthusiasm to get it done.

Yep, this one is easier said than done. Enthusiasm doesn’t come in a can (unlike energy, which does). If you’re looking at that icon on your desktop and dreading clicking on it, it’s worth taking the time to think about why you wanted to write the thing in the first place. What compelled you to spend months hammering at your keyboard? What was it that got you believing that it was a story people should read? Writing a novel is like any long-term relationship: sometimes you have to remember how things were at the start to fall in love with the object of your affection all over again. You’ll then be able to see how far you’ve come – and to understand that it would be a damn shame if you threw it all away now.

 

  1. Go somewhere completely different to write it.

This is linked to point number two in that if you need to kickstart the engine that gets your fingers dancing over the keyboard once more, a good idea is to leave your usual haunt and try tackling that rewrite somewhere entirely different. For me, it just so happened that I went to Thailand a week after I received the feedback from the agent. I ended up sitting in a glass studio in the middle of nowhere with no Internet and no distractions, and wrote those three new chapters in just over a week. All inertia was banished thanks to a simple change of scenery. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a different country altogether; it could just be a park or a coffee shop where the barista tells you to wait a few minutes before drinking your beverage so you can “really taste it”.

 

  1. Compromise, but not too much.

The last item on the list may be the most important. Yes, you should accept and listen to feedback, but ultimately your book is your baby and you (hopefully) know what’s best for it. In other words, these rewrites become a balancing act. On the one hand, you may have to compromise on your artistic vision a little bit; after all, there’s a reason your novel hasn’t been picked up yet, and a fresh pair of eyes is much more likely to spot a thread in the tapestry that’s the wrong shade of blue than you are using your colour-blind tunnel vision. On the other hand, not all feedback is equally valuable, and if the response calls for you to rip up half of your manuscript and forget the reason you were writing it in the first place, then it may be worth taking a step back and looking at what you can change for the better while retaining the soul of the piece. If, for example, somebody doesn’t think a character works and they outline exactly why they believe this and their reasoning rings true, then this is a good basis for a rewrite. If, on the other hand, somebody simply doesn’t like a character because of the way they speak or act, this isn’t necessarily an invitation for you to lobotomise that character or do away with them entirely. Ultimately, you’re the boss.

By the Feet of Men cover

Amazon Link

Guest Post Ian Jones

Alright, last stop on the North of the Rock blog tour. Here’s Ian Jones’ top five things about being an author. Enjoy!

North of the Rock cover

Top Five Things About Being An Author

  1. Give yourself a chance. If you have an idea, no matter how vague or incomplete make a note of it as soon as you can or it will be forgotten. I learned this the hard way. Once it is there in black and white, even if there are only a few lines it will always get you back into thinking about it again.
  2. Be confident, don’t let self-doubt get in the way. This happens to absolutely everyone and it has been a major factor in me never going into the public domain in the past. I believed that I was writing for myself, because I enjoy doing it. But then a couple of people read what I had written and I got good feedback, and I started to believe in myself more.
  3. I can write whatever I want. I can change completely whole areas of a city if I feel like it and nobody can criticize me for doing it, and this is a great thing about being an author. Anyone can come up with an idea and just write, real life facts become unimportant. My only exception to this is when I am writing about an action that is taking place, possibly the police or similar then I do try to be as correct as I can be. I really don’t want to upset anyone especially those who have difficult jobs to do!
  4. Try to write when you can. This is important as lots of great books get started and never finished, and it is often difficult to find enough time. I do have a ‘real’ job, which does make it difficult but I do work at finding time, even if it just an hour or so to write. Of course, there are times when I sit down and the words just flood out, then others when I struggle for a paragraph. But I think that is the nature of it. If I could have this as my sole profession I believe I could probably complete two books a year.
  5. Enjoy it. I have never wished to be a millionaire, or for fame. In fact I hope to spend my entire life in happy anonymity. So for me I am just happy to write and to eventually see it printed. Of course it could well turn out that ultimately In have sold very few books, well at the very least at least I have had a really good time doing it.

Ian Jones author picture

Author Information

Residing in London, Ian Jones lives with his wife and daughter, a cat Gloria, tortoise Gary and three fish; Daphne, Velma and Scooby. He currently works at a Taiwanese hardware company, looking after Europe and works as an Electrician in his spare time. Ian Jones has been writing since he was twenty years old, though he mostly wrote black comedies and seemed unable to finish a complete novel. Fortunately, ten years ago, Ian Jones tried his hand at writing thrillers and published his very first novel, The Handsome Man. Since then he has had many other books published via Kindle Direct. Lost in Vegas is actually the second book that he wrote.

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Hey all, as promised, I’ve got a guest post for you all from Nick Lovelock. He’s talking about his favorite parts about being an author. Enjoy!

Gemenicia

My Favourite Things About Being An Author

I’ve always been a very imaginative and creative person, which more often than not has caused problems especially in school when at which time I was supposed to be studying American Political Change after the Civil War. However my margins were full of doodles of steam tanks, Gatling guns and l sorts of Steampunk ideas that started my journey of bringing it all to life. These doodles the prologue of the illustrations that appear throughout Gemenicia, and so far I have worked through over thirty A5 notebooks that are filled with ideas and practice pictures. I love the idea that I can be working non-stop on every different aspect that makes up one of my novels, or in this case the fifteen novels I have planned for the future.

Being an Author was something that I never envisaged myself doing from an early age, as I went through a few phases that began with wanting to be a lepidopterist, then an Archaeologist, and finally a musician. However nothing has come so naturally to me than writing, it’s something that I find incredibly easy, to come up with an idea from simply thinking or looking at something new. Filling up one of my notebooks which I carry around with me at all times with notes that will come up with or doodles that will one day become the illustrations that feature throughout my future novels.

The influences I have for the most part seem to be relatively obscure to others of my generation, and I love the fact that I am able to bring new life to them through homage’s and parodies, giving them a chance to reach a wider audience. World building has always been a major passion of mine, beginning with sand castles and moving to Lego Kingdoms. I loved to mix medieval with futuristic and build extremely complex models that would remain as they were for about a week, then another influence would come along and I would start trying to imitate that. However building with Lego has its limitations, and now that I have the chance to build an infinite world through being an Author, and that is a feat only possible through such a creative outlet, that and being an artist or film maker.

Being an Author gives me the opportunity to create characters that are given much more opportunity to grow and mature than others are with an hour and a half of screen time. It’s a challenge to give them a multi-coloured personality through the media of writing, but it’s a challenge that I find very fun to attempt. My first major change in the way I approached Steampunk fiction came when I was exposed to David Lynch’s masterpiece Twin Peaks, and it gave me the idea for which the following three novels after Gemenicia will feature. The idea of a great fantasy world having real people that have real life problems, that a small amount of fantasy that they can’t really comprehend will give all the story I need. This opportunity to put my theory into action is what I find to be the best part of being an Author.

Seeing the final product for which I have worked so hard on a feeling that doesn’t come around very often, and holding the first produced copy of Discoucia and then Gemenicia is what the magic of being an Author is all about.

NL v1.2

Nicholas Lovelock lives in a small village in Oxfordshire and has already published Discoucia, the first part of the Alavonia Series which spans multiple novels set to be released in the future. He enjoys riding around the countryside as well as illustrating his own works, as can be seen in his second novel Gemenicia. These Illustrations in stark black and white provide a glimpse into the world of Alavonia and how he sees it, as well as showcasing the different locations and characters that make up the Alavonia series universe.

He is a keen musician capable of playing the electric guitar as well as the acoustic and the piano, often trying to play like his musical heroes David Gilmour, Jimmy Page and Jeff Lynne. His coin collection has transformed from a hobby to a passion and obsession as he attempts to collect one of every issued coin in Great Britain. He is over halfway in that respect collecting such treasures as a 1675 Charles the Second Crown and an extremely rare Edward the Seventh Half Crown of 1905, and has begun metal detecting in an effort to tick some boxes in the Hammered Coinage section.

His love of Steampunk literature and cinema has been with him from a young age when he first saw the film ‘Wild Wild West’, sought out the original series and discovered a world of fantasy that he has painstakingly tried to pay homage to in his novels, to bring the wild west to an English setting and to create something that has never been done before.

History has always been a major passion of his as he makes many references in his literature, from characters whose personalities resemble those of eccentric historical characters or monarchs. The ability to change history through literature was one of the things that attracted him to become an author in the first place, to create similar timelines and put a unique spin on the mundane.

Nicholas Lovelock

Hey all, check it out, guest post! So, tropes are an interesting thing, sort of common details that pop up in a lot of stories with regularity. They aren’t bad on their own but, just like anything else, using them badly can ruin a work of fiction. Courtesy of Reedsy’s Desiree Villena, here’s five she’d happily be rid of.

5 Terrible Tropes That Need to Die in 2019

Since the dawn of storytelling, we have read… and read… and read the same tropes: popular characters, plot devices, and even whole storylines that are used repeatedly in literature. Whether it’s the accidental meet-cute or the “chosen one,” we all have those tropes that make us good-humoredly roll our eyes a bit whenever we see them.

But sometimes tropes aren’t just silly and fun, but distractingly unrealistic. Worse yet, they can be unrealistic and problematic — especially in genres like science fiction and fantasy, which are traditionally dominated by white men. Luckily, this trend seems to be changing… but that doesn’t mean these often-harmful tropes aren’t still pervasive.

Which is why I’m here to shed light on five terrible tropes that need to die in 2019. You’ve likely seen all of these at some point, but I’ll provide examples from both books and media so you can identify them in other works. I’ll also link to the original TV Tropes pages, so you can read up on them further if you like — and to give credit where credit is due for their amazing trope titles. Now, are you ready to learn the (t)ropes?

1. Instant Expert

Ever read or seen a battle scene where someone drops a gun, and the protagonist — despite never having used a gun before — picks it up and uses it perfectly to defend themselves? That’s the essence of Instant Expert: someone who has no prior experience with a particular tool/skill is somehow able to utilize it instantly and easily, usually to dramatic effect.

To be fair, this trope is more impractical than outright harmful. But it can definitely sidetrack the reader, even if it’s flimsily “explained,” such as in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series. In the second book, Stone of Tears, Richard Cypher expertly wields the eponymous sword on his first try — supposedly because it encompasses all the skills of its previous owners. Cue eyeroll.

This trope also tends to be a hallmark of, shall we say, less sophisticated literature. The notorious Twilight saga employs Instant Expert in Breaking Dawn, the installment in which Bella Swan finally becomes a vampire… and immediately masters all the skills that the other centuries-old vamps have been perfecting for, well, centuries. And while it’s not like any of us expected a great deal of consistency after four books of supernatural madness, couldn’t Stephenie Meyer have thrown in a time jump or something?

Needless to say, Instant Expert is mostly employed for convenience’s sake and I understand the inclination to use it, especially in fast-paced narratives. However, I also feel that one of the most satisfying things for a reader is seeing how the protagonist actually learns to master something unfamiliar. So a word of advice to writers: don’t disregard the context for expertise, because context makes heroic moments that much more fulfilling to the audience.

2. Black Dude Dies First

Ah, Black Dude Dies First: the signature move of countless horror, drama, and even science fiction works. As you can probably surmise, this trope is another not-so-realistic one. It also presents a real challenge in terms of diverse representation. After all, if the only person of color gets killed right at the beginning of the story, the boat has pretty much sailed on diversity for its remainder.

Black Dude Dies First tends to be more of an onscreen phenomenon, but it’s critical for authors to avoid as well — especially since it won’t look great if they ever adapt your book into a show or movie. And even the most experienced writers can sometimes fall victim to this one, such as Nora Roberts in her paranormal romance novel Morrigan’s Cross. This book follows a gang of immortal sorcerers, warriors, and other such entities, and is pretty epic in scale… but its tired depiction of a black guy being the first to kick the bucket detracts from the story, and makes the reader wary of other overused tropes and odd character/plot choices.

Another particularly egregious example of Black Dude Dies First occurs in the second Alien movie, Aliens. Though the series gets points for a heroine as badass as Ellen Ripley, the first character to die at the hands (tentacles?) of aliens in this particular movie is Private Frost, a black man — and another black man, Sergeant Apone, quickly follows. Yes, we all know that someone has to die in order to keep the stakes high…. but would’ve been nice if it weren’t these guys in particular. In any case, it’s high time for the trope itself to die, in literary, cinematic, and every other form.

3. Stuffed Into the Fridge

Also referred to as “fridging,” getting Stuffed Into the Fridge is another unfortunate fate that typically befalls female and/or minority characters. Of course, they don’t have to literally be stuffed into a fridge (the trope takes its name from an infamous scene in the Green Lantern comics), but they do have to be killed and then presented in a threatening way to another character. This character is almost always a male hero, and often the family, close friend, or significant other of the dead character, so they’re incited to take revenge on the killer.

In theory, this trope is merely gross, but given that it overwhelmingly affects female characters, it also seems pretty sexist — and even when it’s not happening to a woman, it’s almost always a minority character of some sort. Predictably, it’s used mostly by male authors, such as Scott Lynch in The Lies of Locke Lamora and Glen Duncan in The Last Werewolf. In the former, a man’s daughter is killed and delivered to him in a barrel of horse urine; in the latter, the main character’s gay companion is decapitated and his head left in the trunk of the MC’s car. (Perhaps the decapitation aspect and the equine aspect are both subtle references to The Godfather?) But cultural references aside, I think we can all agree this trope is prejudicial, gratuitous, and should be eliminated for the sake of readers and viewers everywhere.

 

  1. Beauty Is Never Tarnished

And in a similar vein to Stuffed Into the Fridge, we have Beauty Is Never Tarnished, another ridiculous (though less macabre) trope involving female characters. The premise of Beauty Is Never Tarnished is what it sounds like: no matter how much action or duress a female character experiences, she will still emerge looking aesthetically pleasing.

Like Black Dude Dies First, Beauty Is Never Tarnished is another trope that’s more common in movies than books, but can still come into play with on-page female characters. Phèdre, the protagonist of Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, is one such object of this trope. Regardless of fairly severe physical injuries, Phèdre’s scars are rarely mentioned, and her lovers (Kushiel’s Dart is an erotic fantasy novel) don’t ever seem to comment on them. Perhaps this is merely a function of the “erotic” angle — people’s lovers never really care about their imperfections, after all — but it’s definitely unrealistic for Phèdre’s scars to not even come up in conversation.

Another, perhaps better-known example: as much as I love the Star Wars movies, they almost unfailingly keep Princess Leia’s beauty weirdly untarnished. She has super-elaborate hairstyles that never seem to come undone, and her clothes and makeup are always, as the kids say, on fleek. I look worse after walking down the street on a windy day than Leia does after being dumped in a literal trash compactor. So while those cinnamon buns are undoubtedly iconic, writers and on-set stylists alike should take more reality into account when formulating their female characters’ “looks.”

 

  1. Black and White Morality

Finally, let’s talk about Black and White Morality — a trope that anyone who’s ever read classic fantasy will no doubt recognize. Again, this one is pretty much what it sounds like: the idea that morality can be broken down into two distinct camps of good and evil, directly opposing each other and usually involving a Good Guy and Bad Guy who must fight to the death (spoiler: the Good Guy almost always wins).

I’m not saying that every single novel needs to be grimdark, but works that operate under strict Black and White Morality tend not be very believable… especially when they don’t give any particular reason for the bad guys to be bad. This is particularly prevalent in children’s books, like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe — a fantastic story, don’t get me wrong, but one that’s predicated on the White Witch wanting to kill Aslan and rule Narnia simply because she’s a wicked person. (She gets a bit more backstory in The Magician’s Nephew, but it still doesn’t explain her motivations in much depth.) Yes, C.S. Lewis was probably just trying to make his themes more palatable for the younger set… but we should also remember that children understand more nuances than grown-ups tend to think.

Of course, some of these tropes are more pernicious than others. At best, they distract and diminish the reader’s engagement with the story; at worst, they perpetuate stereotypes and poor praxis for storytelling. Luckily, just being aware of them should make you much less likely to use them in your own writing.

Comment below with your least favorite tropes and why you dislike them!

 

Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories. She tries her best to avoid using terrible tropes.

You can check Reedsy out here!

As ever, I really enjoy it when I get the chance to host a guest post from an author. Even more so when they’re interested in coming back later with another one. Damien’s previous guest post can be found here and, notably, Big Red has released just this week. Definitely worth checking out, links for that are down below. Enjoy!

A few years ago, I decided to become an app developer as a bit of a side project. I was already busy with looking after my two young children full-time – while working a part-time job – so that didn’t leave a lot of spare time. Despite the time constraints, I was driven.

More than anything, I wanted to grow this side-project from something that earned me some pocket money into something that could provide for myself and my family. One of the goals that spurred me on was the idea that once I achieved this, I could then focus my time on what I really wanted to do: write novels.

With the odds stacked against me, I landed several contracts and for a while, it really felt that my goals would come through. And then… everything fell apart.

Three projects crashed and burned in epic fashion. Months of hard work went up in flames, forcing me to re-evaluate my priorities. I spent an entire day soul-searching, really trying to peel back the layers and asking myself what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My thoughts drifted back to my list of goals and as I thought about those fantasies of becoming a writer, it struck me like a lightning bolt.

If I had all this time to focus on app development, wouldn’t that mean I had plenty of time to write too?

Without hesitation, I cut my losses and dug out a few pages of a story I had started two years previously. Based on a dream, this story followed a bunch of teenage cadets trapped in a vicious and brutal war while their country collapsed around them. With renewed determination, I picked up where I left off and had just over one hundred thousand words done within three months.

I spent another six weeks with edits and rewrites before I began submitting to agents and publishers. Within three months, it had been rejected upwards of thirty times. Unfazed, I decided to self-publish and after a surprisingly good start, book sales inevitably waned until they became practically non-existent.

I remember having another heart-to-heart with myself and asking if I really wanted to keep going with this. Unlike with app development, I had finally found something I was passionate about, so I dusted myself off and dived back in again.

Spurred on by another vivid dream, I set about writing what would become Big Red. Again, the standard rejection template emails came flooding through my inbox. Gritting my teeth, I prepared to self-publish again when something happened.

In a Twitter pitch-war, several different publishers liked my tweet about Big Red! Out of those, I got my first request for a full manuscript followed by an offer of a publishing deal. To this day, it still feels like a dream come true.

I wanted to share this because I’ve failed at a lot of things in my life. It can be painful and raw, but I’m a firm believer in taking the positive (as much as possible) out of everything that happens in life. If I hadn’t failed with my app development venture, I would have missed knowing this feeling. I’m doing something I’m passionate about and watching a story I crafted come to life in book-form. It’s amazing!

Whatever it is that you want to do; whatever your passion is, go for it. Yes, it will be hard and there’ll be plenty of times when you’ll want to give up but push yourself to keep going. Failure is good – it’s not taking action on your dreams that is the real enemy.

Big Red cover

Big Red

By Damien Larkin

We have always been here…

Traumatized by the effects of Compression travel, soldier Darren Loughlin holds the key to the fate of Earth’s Martian colonies. With his Battalion decimated, his fractured memory holds the only clues to the colony-wide communications blackout.

With time running out, Darren pieces together his year-long tour of duty with the Mars Occupation Force. Stationed in the Nazi-founded New Berlin colony, ruled by the brutal MARSCORP, he recounts his part in the vicious, genocidal war against the hostile alien natives and all who question Terran supremacy.

But as his memories return, Darren suspects he is at the centre of a plot spanning forty years. He has one last mission to carry out. And his alien enemies may be more human than he is…

https://www.damienlarkinbooks.com/

Damien Larkin is a part-time Planning Analyst and a full-time stay-at-home father of two young children. He enjoys turning terrifying nightmares into novels and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland.

Links:
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Hank Quense Guest Post

Hey all! We’ve got a returning author with a guest post for you today, Hank Quense. It’s a nice interview with the super patient and deeply professional Faux News Network reporter Marcia Hammerhead regarding his new novel, The King Who Disappeared. Enjoy!

TKWD EbookCover

Author Interview:

This is Marcia Hammerhead.  I’m the cultural reporter for Faux News Network.  I love literary fiction and I love going to symphonies and ballets. My boss knows this, so what does he tell me to do?  Every time Hank Quense, an unknown scribbler of genre fiction, comes out with a new book, I have to interview him, but at least I don’t have to read and review the books.  Let’s get started.

—————————————-

Marcia Hammerhead: Mr. Quense.  What is your latest atrocity?

Hank Quense: It’s a fantasy novel called The King Who Disappeared.  The main character is a king who spends two hundred years under a sleep spell.  When he awakens, he finds his nemesis is still alive and the king wants revenge. The book has a lot of political satire in it.

MH: It sounds just as dreadful as all your previous books.  I suppose it’s filled with silly fantasy creatures.

HQ: It is.  Besides humans, there are elves dwarfs, half-pints —

MH: Half-pints?  What’s a half-pint?

HQ: They are also called halflings.  Hobbits in other words, but I can’t use the word ‘hobbit’ because Tolkien’s estate trademarked the word.

MH: Why don’t you invent your own creatures instead of stealing other authors’ work?

HQ: I do.  The novel has dwelfs.  They’re half elf and half dwarf.  They tend to have all the bad features of both races and none of the good traits.  The story also has yuks in it.  Yuks are like orcs but aren’t as friendly.

MH: I’m getting a headache just thinking about these matters.  How many books have you foisted on the unsuspecting reading public?

HQ: I have 23 books on Amazon right now, both fiction and non-fiction.

MH: Good heavens!  You’re like a plague.  Fortunately, you’re almost completely unknown.  Otherwise civilization would be in a crisis mode from reading all your drivel.  Have you considered retiring from writing to do something useful?  Like delivering newspapers or pumping gas?

HQ: Nope.  I’m almost finished with the first book of a scifi series of three novellas.  I’m also writing a non-fiction book that integrates self-publishing and book marketing into a single project.

MH: I can’t stand the thought of interviewing you several more times. Maybe I should retire.  Well, I can’t go on.  That’s it for this interview.

HQ: Thanks for having me on again, Marcia.

M: Why is that whenever I interview you I have an urge to go out and buy a large bottle of wine?

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Hank Quense writes satirical fantasy and sci-fi. Early in his writing career, he was strongly influenced by two authors: Douglas Adams and his Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. Happily, Hank has never quite recovered from those experiences.

He lives with his wife in northern New Jersey, a mere 20 miles from Manhattan, the center of the galaxy (according to those who live in Manhattan). They have two daughters and five grandchildren all of whom live nearby.

For vacations, Hank and Pat usually visit distant parts of the galaxy. Occasionally, they also time-travel.

Besides writing novels, Hank lectures on fiction writing, publishing and book marketing. He is most proud of his talk showing grammar school kids how to create a short story. He used these lectures to create an advanced ebook with embedded videos to coach the students on how to create characters, plots and setting. The target audience is 4th to 7th graders. The book’s title is Fiction Writing Workshop for Kids.

All right, guest post time! Today we’ve got a list of five reasons why you should read Armour Piercing, right from the author! Enjoy!

  1. Timing! The number of us that lived through the first Cold War, or at least a good part of it will remember The Cuban Crisis and how close that brought us to the brink of a Third World War…. We are nowhere near that at the moment, hopefully, but the sabre rattling has started. Alleged interference in Western elections by Russia, the assassination (and attempts) of ex-Russian defectors et, US v North Korea relations, all are raising the temperature of International East-West politics… This book gives a hint of what a return to those days could bring.
  1. If you like the genre, then it ticks the boxes. Lots of action, twists and turns. It switches from hunted to hunter and back again. You will want to keep going … you won’t find an easy place to put it down…
  1. Locality features – If you know East Warwickshire, Northampton, Rugby, Oxfordshire, Rutland or Stamford and parts of Lincolnshire, you will be able to follow the action closely with local knowledge. A reader will feel a part of the action. I also draw heavily on my experience in the newspaper industry, which I know a lot of ex-colleagues will find interesting.
  1. There’s a very special connection, a person known to you all, that I won’t reveal who it is to non-readers of the book… Intrigued, you will be!
  1. It’s a damn good read!!!

PA v2.3

A defecting Russian space scientist, awaiting debrief, is in a Warwickshire safe house that comes under attack by an assassination squad. He escapes with plans for a conspiracy involving key members of secret services across the Western world. The only person he knows in the UK, or could possibly trust, is Pete Armour, the man who was to be his de-briefer. Killed before he can reach safety, he has hidden the secret papers where only Armour could ever find them. Armour becomes the target when he and a female newspaper reporter find themselves thrust together and on the run from at least two secret service agencies and British Intelligence, who seem more hell bent on killing him than helping him. And there is a price to pay. There’s always a price to pay. This is the first of the Armour trilogy. A gripping read. Fast-paced, a thriller packed with action, twists and turns.

Find it at: Goodreads   Amazon

 

Author Information

Peter Aengenheister was born in Amersham, Bucks. At the age of 18, Peter became a trainee reporter at weekly The Bucks Herald in Aylesbury and the Buckingham Advertiser. Over the next three decades, Peter worked as a reporter, News Editor, Sub Editor and Editor. He worked at The Chronicle and Echo for nine years, and edited the Daventry Express and Rugby Advertiser for nine years a piece.

He then left journalism to work as a fully trained clinical hypno-therapist. Since then, with one of his colleagues, he set up a business selling LED lighting to the industrial and commercial sector. Despite writing stories on a daily basis during his 36 years in journalism, ARMOUR PIERCING is his debut novel.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PeterAengenheis

Guest Post: Damien Larkin

I meant to have this up yesterday but then time escaped me badly. Badly. I’ve actually been really excited for this one too, so it’s going to be fun to see what you all think. If you like what you read here, Big Red is available this coming May and you can pre-order it from the author’s website. Big thanks to Mr. Larkin and Dancing Lemur Press. Enjoy!

When I first started writing Big Red, I had the plot clearly worked out. I knew the exact story I wanted to tell. Like most plans, it didn’t work out the way I originally intended. New ideas formed, characters changed, even some of the pivotal scenes adapted to serve a newer story. The original idea involved the soldiers in Big Red being closer to super-human Rambo types. After thinking about it and drawing on my own experiences, I rewrote it from the perspective of an average person, with an ordinary, average life pulled into an extraordinary situation.

When I was seventeen, I joined the Irish Reserve Defence Forces which ranks as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Even today, I look back fondly at the camaraderie, life lessons and practical skills I learned. The one thing I remember more than anything though; the monotony.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Redoing foot and weapon drills on a daily basis was part of the role. Still, moving from a sudden burst of excitement (during simulated attacks on “enemy” positions in the Dublin/Wicklow mountains) to something mundane like map reading could wear out even the most enthusiastic of us.

As I rewrote Big Red, I found myself thinking more and more about those days. I wanted to capture what it was like being on the bottom rung, the lowest of the low. Set against the backdrop of a vicious war between the Mars Occupation Force, the human colonists and an aggressive indigenous alien species, the protagonist and the rest of the 2nd Battalion are mere observers at the start. Relegated to guard duty, they watch from the sidelines as the “real” soldiers do the fighting. Many are even grateful for the opportunity to sit the conflict out.

But as events unfold closer to home, average, normal everyday people have to make a choice. Will they rise to the occasion or run away from it?

I drew inspiration for Big Red from Robert A. Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” and Joe Haldeman’s “The Forever War. Both are excellent reads with some fascinating points, philosophies and outlooks. I enjoyed them both greatly, but rather than espousing an ideal or political message, I wanted to focus on how the lines between good and evil can very easily be blurred in wartime.

These average, ordinary people become products of their environment. They soak up the prejudices of their fellow soldiers against the colonists, in some cases viewing them as on par with the enemy. In their simulated training environments, they begin to not only learn how to kill their enemy effectively, they learn how to loathe and despise them too.

Without making any judgements, I let the protagonist and his friends tell this story. It was a unique opportunity to explore if doing good can cancel out an evil act and vice versa. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to share this story with (hopefully) plenty more to follow soon.

Big Red cover

Damien Larkin is a full-time stay-at-home father of two loud (but happy) young children. When not tinkering with apps as a side project, you can find him reading everything and anything to do with psychology, history and science fiction. He enjoys turning terrifying nightmares into novels and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland.

https://www.damienlarkinbooks.com/

And I’m back with another guest post for you all. This one’s an excerpt, but I’m going to leave the framing up to the author. It’s actually a really interesting thing that I’m going to have to check out the next time I’m book shopping. Enjoy!

arasmith certainty principle cover

Excerpt from The Arasmith Certainty Principle

Thank you, Lauren, for the invitation to share a bit of my new science fiction adventure, The Arasmith Certainty Principle with your readers.  Like many of the adventure stories that I most like to read, The Arasmith Certainty Principle is about ordinary people coming face to face with extraordinary events.  As the book begins, three young scientists early in their careers are trying to piece together an explanation for a series of unexpected observations.  However, they soon find themselves caught up in the extraordinary implications of their observations and have to choose whether to put their lives and loves at risk to save the world from the disrupted reality that their discovery unleashes.

It’s always hard for an author to get a ‘feel’ for his or her own writing, so, in an effort to measure my own story, I recently played the Marshall McLuhan Page 69 game.  Marshall McLuhan was a Canadian intellectual who supposedly said that if you want to find out what a book is like before you read it, turn to page 69 and read that page.  I was somewhat surprised to find that page 69 (from the print version of The Arasmith Certainty Principle) faithfully captures some of the story’s juxtaposition of ordinary and extraordinary.  Check out the excerpt below and see if you agree!

Page 69 (Print Version)

Susan enjoyed her monthly bowling outing with Cynthia and Mike more than she had for a long time.  Perhaps her frequent and pleasant outings with Jonathan the past couple of weeks had mellowed her.  The kids were absent today, and so she couldn’t hide from Mike by talking to them.  As a consequence, she and Mike even enjoyed a short chat, without much disagreement.

Tonight, Susan found the familiar sights and sounds of the bowling alley particularly enjoyable.  She liked the clattering noise of falling pins and the shouts of patrons elated or disappointed with their bowling.  And she enjoyed the companionship without expectation.

A perfect evening.

Susan watched as Cynthia rose to pick her ball from the return rack, a light-weight purple one.  Cynthia glanced over her shoulder to the horseshoe benches that wrapped around the end of their lane where Susan and Mike sat.  Cynthia’s eyes went first to Susan, a faint smile warming her lips, no doubt pleased that she and Mike were getting along so well.  Susan returned the smile.  When Cynthia’s eyes went to Mike they warmed a bit more, and her smile changed, almost as if to say to Mike, “See, I told you she’d do ok in the end.”

Cynthia stepped to her spot in the lane and began her throw, but another motion caught Susan’s attention, two lanes over, half-way down toward the pins.  At first it was just a hint of moving color, shimmering in the empty lane, a few feet above the polished hardwood.  It flickered like an image from an old, failing film projector, blinking in and out as though not quite sure whether to exist or not.  As she watched, the image began to resolve into something like the shape of a person.

Susan might have wondered if she were seeing things, an hallucination, except she noticed that everyone else was watching too, eyes riveted on the shimmering being now hovering in mid-air.

russ colson author pic

Russ Colson is a scientist, teacher, author, gardener, and grandfather living in northwest Minnesota, far enough from city lights to see the Milky Way and the Aurora Borealis. During the dark northern winters, he teaches planetary science, meteorology, and geology at Minnesota State University Moorhead. In summers, he writes, gardens, and collaborates with undergraduate students on research projects in experimental planetary geochemistry. In 2010, he was selected by CASE and the Carnegie Foundation as US Professor of the Year.

Before coming to Minnesota, he worked at the Johnson Space Center in Texas and at Washington University in St. Louis where, among other things, he studied how a lunar colony might mine oxygen from the local rock. He has published a variety of technical papers, science-fiction stories, and essays on earth science education. His non-fiction science book Learning to Read the Earth and Sky, published by NSTA Press, offers a story-filled exploration of the nature of scientific investigation and how that investigation can be brought into the classroom. His sequel to The Arasmith Certainty Principle, A Light in the Sky, will be coming out in . He is currently working on a new trilogy (The Kilns of Jupiter, A People Joined Asunder, and Ancient and Future Gods) about a self-taught planetary scientist who finds herself caught up in an inter-planetary mystery and war after her best friend tries to blow her up with a car bomb.

You can find his author website here as well as Double Dragon Publishing’s listing for The Arasmith Certainty Principle here.