SFFS 23/05/2015

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Hi everyone!

If you aren’t aware already, it’s SFFS’s 4th birthday this week, and so we’ve got a bumper lineup of snippets for you all to read. Please grab a coffee and take some time to have a look at what we’ve got in store for you.

Last week, my snippet from Takeover Bid gave us a glimpse of the interior of the Nuren, the massive interplanetary cruiser my hero (Terren) and heroine (Layni) board near the beginning of the story. This week, we meet Frelix Mantuso, maître d’ of the Cranz Lounge on board the Nuren, and a friend of Terren’s. So, without further ado, we pick up where we left off last week:

“dal Nadhi! Grand to see you! Do come inside and take a seat! It’ll be your favourite, of course!”

Terren would have shaken his head if he could move. Instead, he settled for a wry grin – more for his own benefit than Frelix’s, considering Frelix wouldn’t be able to see. As it was, he was plastered up against the rock hard frame of the jovial Frelix. Feebly he tried to exert some pressure to extract himself from the embrace, but instead, he sensed himself being steered in whatever direction Frelix desired. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before Frelix deposited him in a chair at a table with a view of the stars beyond the bulkhead. He inhaled deeply and wriggled his extremities a bit, surreptitiously, to ensure blood still flowed to them.

Frelix squeezed his bulk into another chair and hailed a waiter over. The lanky boy arrived before Terren could blink twice. “One of order 365, drinks to arrive yesterday.”

Ok, so there isn’t all that much about Frelix just yet. I’ll try and pop back in next weekend with some more.

Thank you very much for dropping by. Do let me know your thoughts. And then pop over to the main blog (link earlier in the post) to see what my fellow writers and authors have posted.

You are Special

Over the years I’ve watched family and friends getting burned out and washed up on the shores of what we call the world. The business world. Everywhere one turns, one has to do more, get more, be more… for what? IT has made our world smaller, our lives bigger, but you know what? We were only given a certain number of hours in a day, and a certain number of years to live (though we may not know what the latter is, precisely, though three score years and ten has been quoted as a good number…). While technology is, arguably, infallible (by which I specifically mean it can run 24/7), we cannot. Give us a few days of that and we tend to fall apart. Literally.

I believe we are made, by God, to live balanced lives. Eat. Sleep. Work. Exercise. Socialise. If any of these gets out of whack, you can be pretty sure that the rest will follow. On top of this, we put pressure on ourselves, and perceived pressure, not to mention actual pressure from others. And we start to ask what the point is. We enter a tunnel, and can’t see the light.

My friends, I’ve been there. I’ve been in that tunnel, and it’s a hard place to be. Logic doesn’t exist. To my relief, I came out the other end of the tunnel – not by my own doing, it has to be said. I learned lessons. How to choose when to give of my personal time to work, and how to put my foot down. I’m still learning a few others, such as exercise, but there we go. Ultimately, though, I’ve learned that work can never be the be-all and end-all of our lives. It’s a black hole. At times, it is simply as good as pushing paper from one side of our desk to the other. We need more. We need God.

Each of you, my friends, is special to God. Whether you choose to acknowledge that or not is between you and God, not between you and me. God made each person who lives on this world, including you, and for that very reason alone, you, yes you, are special to Him. This is the reason He came down to Earth in the person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and died on the cross: that ALL who accept THAT one and only Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, and as a result endeavour to follow His example, may be reconciled to God, and KNOW that they are special to Him.

It’s really no more complicated, or simple, than that.



SFFS 15/05/2015

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Hi all! It’s been a while since I actually participated in sharing a snippet. While I’m not currently writing due to numerous reading commitments (yeah, I actually do have those), I recently wrote a few scenes for some of my stories. This week I want to take you into the world of Takeover Bid. In the story, our hero (Terren) and heroine (Layni) meet on board the Nuren, a massive interplanetary cruiser. In this snippet, I want to give you a glimpse of the interior of the ship. I’m not ashamed to confess there’s heavy influence from Asimov and McCaffrey in this.

He exited the cabin and set off for the Cranz Lounge. Over the years he’d somehow managed to spend many trips on board the Nuren, and one of the mainstays was Frelix Mantuso, the maître d’ of the Cranz Lounge. Not to mention that the food was the best he’d tasted in the galaxy.

Terren caught the grav lift up ten decks. When he stepped out, he was in the main expressway concourse. Running an oval around the ship, the expressway consisted of moving bands set into a slightly raised portion of the floor. The ones on the outer edges moved slower than the ones in the centre. One could use it to reach the different zones of the ship in relatively little time. The zone where the Cranz Lounge could be found was on the opposite side of the oval from where Terren stood.

The expressway was quiet, so he stepped onto the outer, slow-moving band of the expressway. One could walk at a faster pace than the speed at which the band moved, so he moved through two other bands – each at comparatively faster speeds – to the central band, which moved the fastest. About five minutes later, he stepped off the fast band and hastily made his way off the expressway. Grav lift doors greeted him, and he took one going up fifteen decks.

From there it was a short walk to the Cranz Lounge. And he’d barely stepped in the entrance before he was engulfed in a bear hug.

Thank you for stopping by for this glimpse of the Nuren. We will hopefully get to know Frelix a bit better next week.

Before you go, please pause a bit and let me know your impressions of this snippet. And then don’t forget to see the snippets shared by the other SFFS participants.

Cover Reveal: Restless in Peaceville



Last time Pippa Jay visited me, I revealed her cover for Zombie Girl. Sadly, her publisher closed up shop just days before Zombie Girl was due to be published, which led Pippa to evaluate her publication options. I’m relieved to say that she has decided to pursue self-publishing, for which I am thankful, seeing as I devour (read, not eat, please!) her work with great relish whenever a new one comes along!

Thanks to Pippa’s very kind publisher (the one that closed up shop, yes), she’s able to re-release her works with relatively minimum fuss compared to what most publishers enable an author to do. The first of these is Restless in Peaceville. One of my top two first-person POV author reads (the other author’s written several).

So here we are. First up, let’s get to know the story a bit.

Welcome to Peaceville, population 2067 and rising…from the grave…

Luke Chester has had enough. He’s the school geek, the girls laugh at him, he’s lost his dead-end job at the pizza place, and in the midst of the world’s messiest divorce his parents don’t even know he exists. An overdose of his mom’s tranquilizers and a stomach full of whiskey should solve all his problems…

But they don’t. Instead, Luke finds himself booted out of the afterlife for not dying a natural death, with nowhere to go but back to his recently vacated corpse and reality. How the hell is he going to pass for one of the living without someone trying to blow his brains out for being one of the undead?

And it just gets worse. He’s got to fight his own desperate craving to consume the living, evade the weird supernatural hunter who’s having a field day with the new undeads rising, and there’s this creepy black shadow following him around. Add to that the distraction of female fellow undead Annabelle burning to avenge her own murder, and clearly there’s no rest for the wicked. Jeez, all he wanted to do was R.I.P.

And now for the brand-new cover!

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This cover is absolutely stunning. Thank you so much for dropping by and letting me share it with my friends, Pippa!

Memories of VE Day

My Mom wrote down her memories of VE Day.

We were in Ashford in May 1945 when war was declared to be at an end. I remember the crowds in the centre of the town and the dancing and singing. I was not with the family, as far as I remember. I was just a little girl who was also swept up into the dancing. People linked arms and we were gathered into rows. I was in one of the rows. There was a band and we sang and danced ‘Knees up Mother Brown’, the Lambeth Walk and the ‘Pallais Glide’ and other stuff I do not remember but round and round we all went. It was just a huge celebration. I was not very apt but no one worried.

We went back to New Malden and there we had a street party in Montem Road. I started at Burlington Road School in the autumn of 1945, and would be seven later that year. Each child received a certificate from the King and I still have mine. It is dated the 8th June 1946. On the back is a list of important war dates. Dad added when he joined the Army and when he left, on October 15th 1945. I do not know if he came back on that date. I rather think he did not. I seem to remember that he came home the following year.

This is the certificate from King George.

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Self-published authors I support, and why

Over the last few years I’ve got to know several authors who have chosen to publish their stories themselves. I thought I would share with you who they are, and why I unreservedly read their work. So, in no particular order:

J.C. Cassels

I came across Cassels through SFFS, the blog ring that I began four years ago. She was “just another member of the crew” until one day she approached me, asking if I could edit her novel. It was the first novel I edited, and her first publication. Both of us can now see how green we were back then, but even so, if a reader of Sovran’s Pawn and the sequel, Hero’s End, doesn’t fall in love with Blade Devon, then there is something seriously wrong with the wiring of said reader. And by the way, Hero’s End… is a book that leaves me stuck in book-hangover. It bowled me over when I “edited” it – by which I mean that it was so well-written that there was relatively little editing to do. Cassels and I have since become very good friends, and I can’t wait for the final instalment of the series.

Rachel Leigh Smith

I met Rachel through the SFR Brigade. Relatively randomly, she sent me a draft of a book she’d written. My Name is A’yen. To my shame, it took me well over 8 months before I cracked it open. I read the first few pages, and she had me hooked. Fortunately, I contacted her there and then. She told me to stop reading, as she had a final draft she wanted me to proofread! I have now proofread her first three novels, and I can tell you, this is one author worth following. Her books will captivate you, wring your heart out, then put it back together again. And don’t forget that book-hangover. I finished book three last night and have yet to come back into the real world.

Nicholas Sansbury Smith

I read Nick’s first book for review. While the concept of the story was excellent, the execution left much to be desired. A short while later, Nick self-published his second novel, ORBS. Now let me tell you something. This is one author who learned his lessons! This second novel was such a contrast to the first that I’ve lapped up every piece of Nick’s work since. He’s one of the best action thriller (post-apocalyptic, horror) writers out there I’ve picked up. And even as the ORBS series has been picked up by a publisher, he is still self-publishing. And there’s little/no difference in quality between the new self-published series and the ORBS series.

Patrick Stutzman

Patrick appeared on the SFFS blog ring at about the same time as J.C. Cassels. At some point, he approached me to edit his third novel, Alone in the Crowd. The book turned out well, and he brought Alone in the Universe to me. Another author who is learning as he goes along. Many of the issues that had been present in Alone in the Crowd were simply not there in Universe. I admire an author who is willing to learn – and who has an impressive imagination!

Peter Vialls

A friend mentioned on Facebook that a friend of his had written a book and was anyone willing to read and review it. I picked up Sorrel in Scarlet and was hooked. It’s not often I do this, but I offered to edit the next book in the series. Peter took me up on my offer, and we worked together on the last two books of the series. What captivated me about these books, and Peter’s work in general, is the unique settings (and associated action). Peter’s imagination goes to interesting places, and it’s a challenge to figure out where it’s going next. And his characters always have a lovely sense of humour.

Pippa Jay

Jay’s work is among the few that I buy as soon as it’s published (with the odd rare exception), and I’ve read everything she’s got out there. She was good to start with, but her writing is now approaching brilliance. Her last few publications totally bowled me over. I’ve had to edit this post as I initially thought she had only one self-published work, but she since corrected me that she had five. The quality was such that I didn’t notice the difference between her indie works and her self-pubbed works; a very high standard!!

Faith Matters: God Made the Call

I’ve heard of Christians who see technology as evil. I don’t, and I’ll tell you one of the reasons why.

I can’t remember now how old I was, perhaps eighteen or nineteen. I had bought my first mobile with my own money, a Motorola, which kept me in touch with friends and distant family.

One day I was at home and my mobile rang. I was the other end of the house, in the kitchen, and by the time I reached my phone, the caller had cut off. On seeing on the screen that my youth leader, by then a good friend, had called, I went to the landline to call her back. She was a bit surprised to hear from me, but said there was something I could help her with: she was at the scene of a fatal accident at least an hour or so’s drive from town. Being a trained nurse, she was helping as she could, but they needed an ambulance. And there was the fatality, and could I please let the family concerned know. I got off the phone, called for an ambulance to go out to the accident, then steeled myself to phone the family (unknown to me, and in a different city) to inform them that a member of their family had passed away. Those two tasks done – the latter not an easy one, mind – I kept in touch with my friend , to ensure she had everything she needed.

Later on, we compared notes. The uppermost question in both our minds was, how was it I’d called her just when she needed me? Fact was, she had had NO credit on her phone at the time (not being on a contract), and this was before the days when one could make an emergency call without credit. This was also the reason no-one had been able to call an ambulance or notify the family. The evidence was, my phone’s call list insisted I had received a call from her mobile.

For us, there was only one answer: God made the call.