Tag Archives: iron admiral

At last there’s a work-in-progress

canstockphoto19778842It has been far too long since I last published a book, although it was this year. For anyone waiting for a new story about Morgan’s Misfits – sorry, but it will be a little while yet. Those of you who know me would be aware that I believe in the Muse as much as I do the Easter Bunny and Father Christmas (that is, when it suits me) But I do believe that when the writing just won’t come, it’s because there’s something wrong. Frankly, I couldn’t see where the story was going. The characters wouldn’t talk to me – wouldn’t even look at me. So I abandoned the Morgan’s Misfits story. I’ll get back to it when the characters come to find me. And they will. Oh, they will.

Meanwhile, I’ve embarked on a new Ptorix Empire story. Someone once suggested they’d like to hear a bit more about Senior Commander Butcher, who is Admiral, then Grand Admiral Saahren’s aide de camp in the Iron Admiral books. And why not?  So I had a quiet word with him, asking what happened after the decisive battle between the Ptorix and Confederacy Fleets off Qerra.

It seems he finally got that promotion, the chance to captain a Confederacy battle cruiser. He’d been in command of ships before, of course. Patrol ships, a cruiser. But this had been his life long ambition: captain a battle cruiser. While his new ship is in refit, Butcher takes leave on his home planet of Validor. He hasn’t been back for twelve years, hasn’t lived there for twenty. Six months ago, after ten years of marriage, his wife divorced him. He’s at a loose end, looking to pick up the pieces of his life. One piece he’s kept an eye on is his first love, Tarlyn. She’s a member of the ruling clan in this matriarchal society, related, if not directly, to the current queen. She suffered a bereavement not too long ago. Her husband died in a boating accident. She’s way out of his league in the social hierarchy on Validor, but he’s never forgotten her, and lately she has been haunting his dreams. So first day back on his home planet, Butcher turns up at a public festival celebrating the arrival of Humans on Validor. The queen and her court will be there. He might get a glimpse of Tarlyn…

That’s where the story starts. Validor has a large Ptorix population – as much as sixty percent. And as we’ve seen on our own planet, winning a war doesn’t necessarily build bridges. There are old scores to be settled, and new hatreds can blossom. On both sides.

I have an idea where Butcher and Tarlyn will lead me, and I think I know what the ending will be. But it’s all subject to change without notice. Hang in there. I’m hoping to get it out there in a few months. And no, I haven’t thought of a title yet.

Australia Day Book Hop

australia day blog hop iconI’m proud to be participating in the Australia Day Book Giveaway, sponsored by Book’d Out and Confessions from Romaholics.

For those of you in other parts of the world, Australia Day is the day we celebrate the founding of our modern nation, when in 1788,  Australia’s first British Colony was established at a place now known as Sydney. I might have been born in Amsterdam, but I’m very much an Australian. Although these days I live on the shores of Hervey Bay in Queensland, I grew up in Perth, Western Australian, and attended the University of WA, where I graduated with a BA(Hons). After that I spent a good many years in Melbourne. It’s a wonderful country and much as I love to see other places, coming home is the very best part of the journey, Far too often we don’t know how really lucky we are.

To help you celebrate this wonderful Australia Day, you have a chance to win any one of my books, in an ebook format. You can find them all here. I write mainly science fiction (with a dollop of romance), but I’ve written a contemporary paranormal and an out-and-out historical novel which hasn’t much to do with romance at all.

Leave me a comment, telling me which book you’d like and in what format, make sure the email address you record with your comment is correct, and you’re in the draw. Entries  close at Midnight on Monday, January 28th and winners will be announced on the 29th January.

Don’t forget – name of book and format (epub, kindle, pdf, mobi etc) Please note The Iron Admiral is only available on Amazon Kindle, all others are also on Smashwords. But I can still provide an epub or pdf for The Iron Admiral.

Then pop across to http://bookdout.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/australia-day-book-giveaway-blog-hop/ to see what else is on offer.

*** Thanks to everyone who entered. The offer is now closed. Books will be on the way to 3 winners.Congratulations to them

If you’re a writer, nothing is ever wasted

If you’re a writer, nothing you’ve ever done, nothing you’ve ever learnt, or experienced will ever go to waste. I was thinking this profound thought the other day, when considering my latest work-in-progress. It’s a paranormal romance, set in India, Hong Kong and Melbourne and it touches on Indian and Australian history, as well as tiger poaching.

Wow. That’s quite a canvas, isn’t it? But you know the old saying – ‘write what you know’. To which I would add ‘and research the bits you don’t’. So what did I know? Well, I’ve lived in Melbourne, I’ve visited Hong Kong and I studied Indian history for three years as part of my BA(Hons) in history. I wanted to weave in a little of the history of the Afghan cameleers in Australia, so I used the internet for what I wanted to know. To learn more about tigers I watched documentaries by the master, David Attenborough, and went to the net to learn what I needed about tiger poaching.

The Indian part of the story had several layers. This wasn’t a history lesson, it was a novel about an Australian doctor confronted by a very different culture. I had to have enough of an idea of how that would work. My interest in India helped, because I had some basic understanding of how caste works and its impact on workers. But movies like ‘Ghandi’ and ‘A Passage to India’ added some color, as did traveler accounts I encountered on the net. I also had to learn enough about how a broken hip affects the patient and how it’s treated to make that thread convincing. One man who had experienced a broken hip had actually chronicled his recovery. Very useful.

This particular book (working title ‘Shadow of the Tiger’) is contemporary. Most of my other work is science fiction romance. Write what you know? How does that work?

Let’s take ‘Morgan’s Choice’. You’ll find a society which quite possibly derives from the Indian caste system. I wonder where I got that from? The main character, Morgan, is human but she has a supercomputer in her brain. This isn’t new; the concept is in other books. I’d suggest the difference with Morgan is I emphasise her humanity more than her data skills. Be that as it may, I worked for many years in the computer industry, first as a programmer and later as an analyst and team leader. So I felt I had a good chance of making Morgan’s activities in the cyber world convincing.

In my other two books, the ‘Iron Admiral’ series, I introduced an alien species called the ptorix. They’re not just a nightmare I dreamed up one night. I’ve had an abiding interest in nature and animals, as well as astronomy and cosmology, for many, many years and my alien species was well thought out, with characteristics you would expect in a technologically advanced society.

That history background has been useful many times over. Who said a BA isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on? The plot in ‘The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy’ is loosely based on a real, historical incident when Hitler’s secret police, dressed as Poles, staged an attack on a German radio station near the Polish border to give the Fuhrer an excuse to start what became World War 2.

See what I mean? Nothing is ever wasted.

Oh – one more thing; Sally Carter, MC of ‘Shadow of the Tiger’, is a very keen amateur photographer. Gosh, what a coincidence. 🙂

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as over-editing

Picture of CosmosThe very first book I ever wrote was called (among other things) The Iron Admiral. I wanted to write a space opera with sex; not erotica, science fiction but with heart. So I did. To start with it wasn’t so very good. No writer’s first efforts are, I don’t think. In my case, the writing was flowery with many words other than ‘said’, much telling and not showing… the usual culprits.

But I went and learnt the craft and I polished and polished and polished. Eventually, I was happy with my work and propositioned literary agents and a few publishers without success. I got desperate and even self-published for Kindle. But then, an agent took an interest. I pulled the book off Amazon and listened to her advice. Rewrite, she said. She pointed out some plot weaknesses and suggested I bring the leading man in earlier. This was all good and I was grateful. But I’d written two books, one following on from the other. I’d been told that in a romance, there has to be a happy ending, nuptials if not confetti. Really, that meant I had to bring the two books together into one. Both of them were 100,00 words. Each.

I chopped and I clicked and I hacked and I snipped. At last, the book was down to 112,000.

But I wasn’t happy. I didn’t send the book back to Ms Agent, telling myself I’d wait until after Christmas. Then I saw an opportunity in a web group I belong to called Savvy Authors. You can join for free and it has some nifty opportunities for any starting writer. For some little while the group advertised the chance to do an editing workshop with a group of six authors, in conjunction with a living, breathing editor. After a lot of navel-gazing and head-scratching, I decided it might help to give my masterpiece a final polish.

After two exercises in the workshop, I was pretty sure I’d made a horrible mistake; after three, I was certain. I’d edited the heart out of my first book. The theme – of betrayal and broken trust – had disappeared in a flurry of jettisoned scenes. I’d cut for length, not for substance. Oh, it still read all right; but this book was supposed to be based on a tag line like ‘anything can be true – from a certain point of view’. (Oh, hey, I like that. *beams*)

The other mistake I’d made was to cut out scenes which the story ‘didn’t need’. One such example was the legend of the love lilies which Saahren has delivered to Allysha. In my edits I took the flowers out altogether, but I put them back in the final version. People loved it because the flowers revealed character and caring, a romantically naive man trying to win his lady in one of the few ways he knows. But let’s face it, the story would have stood without them. It isn’t the only example.

Mind you, many of the changes I’d made were for the better. The story moves faster, with less exposition and more action. But it had lost its heart. So I split back to two books. Both are a little shorter, more like 80,000 than 100,000. But I’m not sure I can call it ‘romance’ any more because the final ‘happy ever after’ isn’t until the end of book 2. I’m not sure I care, though. The most important thing is I’ve learned a valuable lesson; to use a cliché, ‘to thine own self be true’. Write your own story and stick to your guns. I don’t mean ignore advice; Ms Agent’s advice was valuable, but I really don’t think she would have found my MS worthy if I had sent it. I didn’t, so why should she?

By the way, the two books are published. They are The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy and The Iron Admiral: Deception. You’ll find them both here.