Friday, November 25, 2011

I'm on a nostalgia trip at the moment, having printed out a hard copy of my first published book-length story. It won two national contests before it was released in 2000, has been printed under license in China, In the UK as a large print book (hard cover and paperback) and released in the US under another name "Mitchell's Valley" with the locale shifted from the Victorian High Plains to Sacramento and the Sierra Nevada mountains. The reviews have been good rather than enthusiastic and I'm considering submitting it under its original title "Mitchell's Run" with the locale reverting back to Australia.
The story and character never quite fitted the US, even though I did my resarch thoroughly, and it's never been released as an e-book.
Saltwater Press, the original publisher, is sadly long defunct now, but I owe much to Diane Colman and I've managed to have all her books of mine rereleased with different publishers except this one, so I've taken the time out from writing the third book of The Alliance series to review it.

These are the three covers so far, the one in the centre being the hard cover large print version.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Alliance was reviewed by Regina of Coffee Time Romance and she liked it enough to award it four coffee cups.
This is what she had to say:
Peter is a human that has managed to survive long past a human life span. In doing so, he has set himself the grim task of fighting a group of humans who he feels do not have humanity’s best interest at heart since they are set on taking over human colonies and adding them to the Federation.
Dael is a nearly immortal alien who has taken a human body and become Peter’s mate.
Karrell, Anneke, and Jean-Paul are the children of Peter and Dael.
Gabrielle is Karrell’s wife.
Jack is Karrell and Gabrielle’s son.
Rachael is a Federation agent.
Kamran is a man who is the child of a “spacer” and a peasant. However, he aspires to be much more.
All of Peter’s children must go on 60 missions for the Alliance that he has created to keep the Federation from getting too much of a foothold on human worlds. This is to help them learn, and to help humanity. Anneke is on a current mission on a primitive human planet when she discovers that some Federation agents are about to be killed. While the denizens of this world are cognizant of space travel, they themselves do not have space travel. Keeping one step ahead of those that could harm her is made possible by being able to slip into a place called Limbo. However, at the moment that is not possible since she has decided to rescue the Federation agent Rachael, and does not want to give away where she is from. Keeping Rachael and herself alive and out of the hands of Kamran who is hunting them is easier said than done though. Will she be able to do so? Also, will she be able to lead Rachael where she, and her father, Peter want her to go? Is Kamran truly the enemy, or is he something more? What are his plans for the primitive planet he was raised on? Is the Federation truly the enemy? Will all of Peter’s machinations and manipulations using his children and their powers make the universe a better place? So many questions and only time will reveal the answers.
I truly enjoyed The Alliance. The world building is extraordinary, and the relationships detailed and well thought out. All the characters relate well to each other and in ways that make sense. With as many plots and subplots as there are throughout the story that is a miracle! There is plenty of suspense as well making this book so much more than just a science fiction story, or even a romance. In fact, it puts me more in the mind of a space opera, similar to authors such as Catherine Asaro, and Kay Kenyon. I do wish I had read the first book before this one since I feel as if I would have a better handle on the whole universe, but despite this I found this book to be a very well written science fiction romance. I suggest that you read the first book first though unlike I did so you can follow the storyline more easily. If you enjoy plots, and subplots, romance, suspense, multiple characters, horrible bad guys, bad guys that turn into good guys and unique worlds then you definitely want to pick up a copy The Alliance.
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More
(I think I like her.)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The first draft of Coasting is finished (I suppose I should call it the eleventh draft, because that's how many times it's been written from beginning to end) It ran to a little over ninety thousand words this time.
I've added photographs of the two ships that inspired the tale. I'd sailed on both of them by the time I wrote the first draft and used them as the skeletons of the Kooyonga and Dargo, just as I used some of the people I'd met over the years of seagoing as skeletons for my characters.
Those shipmates, who read the early versions of the tale, were certain they recognized individual characters and invariably named them. They were always wrong, but it did show how well I'd captured the archetypal characters that populated the coastal shipping industry in the mid-seventies.
I've printed out a hard copy and it sits on the upper shelf of my bookcase. In a month, I'll take it down and read it from beginning to end and then the hard work of crafting it into a finished story will begin.
Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

After fourteen years of sometimes faithful service, I have retired my old computer and disciplined the new one into something approaching my needs, welcomed a new grandchild, designed and test run an online writing course for our local adult education system (whether they take it up will be their commercial decision, but the trial went very well) and returned to a story I first wrote in the mid seventies of last century.
"Coasting" has an interesting background. I'd returned to sea-going after eight years working ashore for Lloyd's Register of Shipping as a ship and engineer surveyor (the period covered the birth and early years of our three children) and had two short stories published in men's magazines (sadly long defunct now).
Buoyed by this success, a writing life beckoned, but engineers do not make decisions without proof of  potential success and I set myself the task of writing a novel length manuscript. Logical as ever, I chose to write about something I knew very well, life at sea on the Australian coastal ships.
My first attempt ran to a little over one hundred thousand words, every one typed on an old portable typewriter perched on my knees on watch in the engine room of various ships. The first draft finished, I reread it carefully, acknowledged its faults, did a little cut and paste, and then started again at the beginning.
I stopped when I had ten complete versions of the story and did some hard thinking. I had three school age children now, a challenging, well-paid career and a nervous wife, so I put thoughts of a writing life away and focused on what I had trained myself to do. My eldest daughter, who'd read the story in its various forms, grumbled (I think she saw a lot of herself in the heroine), but that was all.
Coming back to it, thirty plus years later, was a shock. It was amazing how much of it I'd forgotten. I read the ten versions and started planning the eleventh with the skills I'd developed since 1997 and in eighteen published stories.
I'm seventy-five thousand words into it now and am having a ball.
The photos above were taken on a similar ship to one in the story. (The sea was a little rough that day.)