Wednesday, 16 May 2018

News from the Book Realm: Science Fiction Spectacular!

It's been a long time since I did a News from the Book Realm post. Mea culpa. I'll be scheduling a book shout-out post every month from this month onward. Nothing makes me happier than sharing books written by authors I love reading. I hope you'll find something appealing among this spectacular sci-fi collection.

A dying world has many secrets.
Porl's world is dying. Crops fail. Birds fall from the sky. Is this a repeat of the Cataclysm that decimated the Ancients’ world a thousand years ago?
Porl loves to fix things and is compelled to solve the mystery – and save his people no matter the personal cost. Disobeying the will of the town Elders, Porl uncovers a secret they want hidden. When caught, the Elders banish Porl into the wilderness, alone against the savage Mad-Ones.
As the Mad-Ones hunt him, Porl discovers the world isn't what he believed. The more he learns about the mystical Ancients, the more he unravels an incredible reality he never imagined.
Nothing is what it seems. The harshest truth he uncovers is that in seven days everyone he loves will die. Yet the final secret of the Ancients, on how to save his people, still eludes him…
Buy links: Amazon / AmazonUK / Graeme Ing

A constellation of wondrous stars...

Other Worlds collects together fifty-two science fiction and fantasy stories that graced the pages of some of the planet's finest speculative fiction magazines and anthologies between 2012 and 2018.

Starships and sorcerers, aliens and demons, space exploration and forbidden magics throng these pages, in stories that are thrilling, amusing, thought-provoking, terrifying and delightful.

Other worlds await...

Releases 2nd June

Buy links: Amazon / AmazonUK / Simon Kewin 

Four stories from the author of Backworlds...

Rogue versus world. Who will win? New planets, hidden lands, and places no one would dare dream of arise from the elements of earth, air, fire, and water. Visions of the future where we verge on extinction and only daring can forge hope. Alternative realms on Earth lead to darkness. The Rogue Element is: Patchworker 2.0, Corrosive, The Vagaries of Eloise Stanton, and The Wallows.

Buy links: Amazon / AmazonUKM Pax

This berg has balls and they bite.

Spaceberg arrives without warning. The size of Jupiter, it hits with deadly consequences, taking out ships and colonies in the outer solar system.

Orbital Rescue Squad 51 is first on the scene with the most decorated first responder in the Sol. Nikili Echols battles the mega disaster to save her family, everyone in trouble, and entire worlds. With time running short, she’s forced to team up with her ex-husband in order to rescue their daughter and to save what remains of the solar system. His superstitions irk her like gas, but luck and organic plastic is what her plan needs to prevail.

Buy links: Amazon / AmazonUK /  M Pax

Did one or more of them grab your attention? I'm in love with the cover art for all four books, especially Spaceberg. I've already read Emergence, Other Worlds is pre-ordered, The Rogue Element is on my Kindle, and Spaceberg is next on my TBR list. Let the reading commence.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

IWSG: Spring into Writing

It's time for May's Insecure Writer's Support Group post. You can learn more about the IWSG group, it's founder Alex J. Cavanaugh, and purpose hereThe awesome co-hosts for April's post are E.M.A Timar, J.Q. Rose, C Lee McKenzie, and Raimey GallantPlease drop by and thank them for all their hard work.

Before I answer this month's question, a quick writing update: I successfully completed Camp NaNoWriMo last month! Even more fantastic is I now have an outline for my science fiction series and a working plot for book one. For someone who is a pantser by nature and loses direction in longer works of fiction, I'm feeling proud. I'm expecting some plot points and ideas to change when I start writing, but it's good to know I have a path and direction in mind. It was hard, but enjoyable work.

Now for May's question:

It's Spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

There's no doubting the start of warmer weather (albeit just warm enough to skip a hat and gloves in the UK) and the sights and sounds it brings, raises serotonin levels and puts a skip in our post-winter shuffle. The prospect of taking my notebook or Chromebook outside to write is a huge motivator. I love spring and autumn. Scorching hot summers not so much. What about you? Do the seasons influence your writing temperament?

On to exciting news. The IWSG has a new anthology out!

The clock is ticking...

Can a dead child’s cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? Can a killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?

Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglass, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time is wasting...

Available at
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Smashwords
Add it to read on Goodreads.
Check out the Tick Tock Mysteries blog!

That's it for May's IWSG post. I'll be back next week with another book review post. Until then, write on!

Monday, 9 April 2018

Meet Max the Rescue Dog

When my husband and I first met, he had a Briard called Bill. He was the soppiest dog you could meet. Sadly, following a stroke, Bill went to the rainbow bridge just after I moved in. Despite my husband always having had a dog, we decided not to get another straight away - it meant we were freer during the early days of our relationship. When we decided to get married on the Isle of Skye 18 months later, we didn't need to put a dog into kennels. However, we always knew we'd get a dog after the wedding. Just like we knew that dog would be a rescue dog. What we didn't know was when and how old that dog might be until February this year.

Meet Max, a 13 year old Cocker Spaniel. Despite suffering severe neglect with his previous owner, he surprised all the staff at the local RSPCA shelter by pulling through. He has the most wonderful temperament, and despite living with the effects of the neglect, he loves life. He's deaf and his eyesight is poor, but that doesn't stop him from wanting to be involved in everything we do. He follows us everywhere, until tiredness gets the better of him and he takes a nap.

Looking after a dog is hard work. I'm up an hour or two earlier each day and, rain or shine, he's taken on walks. My coat and boots are always muddy. We probably spend more on food and treats for Max and our cat than on ourselves. Giving a dog a home isn't something to do on a whim, but what you get back is a hundred times more than what you put in. Seeing that wagging tail and happy face when I return home from work is all the reward I need.

We're not sure how long we'll be blessed to have him in our lives (his breed's average life expectancy is 12 to 15 years), but any sorrow we'll feel when we lose him will be outweighed by knowing we gave him a happy end of life. In the end, that's all that matters.

If you're considering adopting a rescue dog, there are lots of organisations out there looking for both permanent and foster homes.  They will work carefully with you to find the right dog to suit you and your lifestyle. It can take a while to find that dog, but you'll be thoroughly rewarded when you take your new companion home. The wait, as they say, really is worth it.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

IWSG: Set Fire to the Rain

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. Before I answer this month's question, you can learn more about the IWSG group, it's founder Alex J. Cavanaugh, and purpose here. The awesome co-hosts for April's post are Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Renee Scattergood, and Tamara NarayanPlease drop by and thank them for all their hard work.

Now for April's question:

When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

I watched a Ted lecture recently, where the speaker talked about the one quality that distinguished the students who went on to achieve the education and career they wanted and those that did not. That quality was grit. The determination to keep going, despite any obstacles and setbacks along the way. If they fell, they picked themselves up and found another way. They never gave up.

I used to have an abundance of grit. A well of determination I could draw on whenever it was needed. When my writing life seemed overcast and like sailing troubled waters, I dug deep into that source and used the fire it gave me to put out the rain. Here's the thing, though: That fire came as much from others as myself. It came from you, my fellow writers and bloggers. I was inspired and motivated by those who'd strolled the path before me and those who were walking it with me. When I had the chance to give back, it felt good to be helping others.

For a long time I lost that grit and fire. I stopped writing, and I dropped out of the blogging and writing community. I didn't realise just how much I needed both until I really started writing again, and then signed up for April's Camp NaNoWriMo. It's only day four, but my cabin mates are already inspiring and motivating me. I can feel that grit returning. I hope I'm doing the same for them.

My camp goal is 60 hours of writing. My specific goals are as follows:

  • Outline adult science fiction series
  • Plot book one of adult science fiction series
  • First read-through and edit of YA science fiction book

What do you do when your writing life is cloudy or filled with rain? What's fueling your grit and determination to keep going no matter what life throws at you? Are any of you doing Camp NaNoWriMo? How is it going?

Monday, 19 March 2018

2018 Reading Challenge & Book Reviews

Before I start today's topic, thank you to everyone who dropped by my blog and offered words of encouragement and support - it was much appreciated. The Insecure Writer's Support Group certainly lives up to its name. If you're not a member, do think about joining.

I've been taking part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge since 2013, and usually set my challenge to 52 books. I made it two years and three not. I'm hoping for another win this year, but I won't beat myself up if I fail. Reading is for pleasure, after all.

Here's the books I read in January and February this year, with a short review for each.

As a huge fan of The Martian, I really wanted to like Weir's follow up Artemis. On the whole, I did. I enjoyed the setting, breakneck speed, and witty dialogue. However, I just couldn't warm to the protagonist Jazz. Morally questionable, but loved by all. Happy to put her fellow Artemians at great risk to further her own needs, but quickly forgiven. For me, what kept this from being a two or three star read was Artemis itself. I loved the moon-based habitat created by Weir and the science behind it. It's worth reading the book just for this reason alone.

The Long Cosmos was the book I bought in early 2017, and waited a year to read. Why? Baxter and Pratchett's The Long Earth series has to be one of the best series I've read, and The Long Cosmos was the final book. With Pratchett's passing in 2015, there were to be no more books in the series. It was worth the wait. A five star read for science fiction and fantasy fans.

Containing four short novels - Snapshot, Loaded, Aloft, and Rain - Strange Weather was my first Joe Hill read. The stories, as the title suggests, were linked by strange weather events. I enjoyed all of the them except Aloft, the story of a man who becomes a castaway on a cloud. I couldn't connect with the story or character it featured. Snapshot was the most original, a child stalked by a creepy villain with a Polaroid that steals memories. Loaded, with its politically charged theme of guns, resonated the most. I loved the Trump references in Rain, the story of freak weather that rains lethal nails. Add it to your TBR list.

Silvera's They Both Die at the End was an emotional read. The unique concept - you receive a call from Death-Cast on the day you're due to die - hooked me as soon as I read the blurb. The story focuses on Mateo and Rufus, two teens who receive the call and then find each other via an app called Last Friend. I struggled at first to connect with the writing - I'm not a teen or American - but the further I read, the more emotionally invested I became. This is a book I'm still thinking about. What greater recommendation can there be?

Words cannot express how much I adored Calling Major Tom. Barnett's novel about forty something Thomas Major - a man who has given up on the world and becomes the most unlikely astronaut - made me both laugh and cry. I loved all the characters, especially Gladys. I smiled at the Bowie references. Want my advice? Go get the book. 

After reading The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, I decided to check out Lauren Jame's debut novel The Next Together. The premise - Katherine and Matthew, destined to be born and fall in love over and over - was refreshing and different. I liked the way the story kept jumping to various points they'd 'met' in history, including the current time. Unlike some readers, I was able to follow the plot without confusion. However, I didn't feel the characters were fleshed out enough. They fell in love almost instantly every time they met, which is a pet peeve for me. Despite my criticisms, I will be reading the sequel. I have to know why they are destined to meet and fall in love.

That's it for book reviews. I'll be back with more in May. What books have you read so far this year? Do you have any recommendations?

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

IWSG: Best Laid Plans

It's time for March's Insecure Writer's Support Group post. You can learn more about the IWSG group, it's founder Alex J. Cavanaugh, and purpose hereThe awesome co-hosts for March's post are Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen GardnerPlease drop by and thank them for all their hard work. 

I'm going to skip this month's question and instead apologise for not posting in February. Remember back in January when I posted this year is now or never when it comes to my writing? Cue extra hours at work, a holiday to Center Parcs, a friend not respecting the need for time alone to write, adopting a shelter dog, and a husband home with the flu, and my writing didn't progress to where I wanted it to be this far into 2018. 

The Saturday before last, I had a mini meltdown. The lack of time to write and blog had finally gotten to me, and the tears flowed. It's not supposed to be this hard, right? I should be able to put myself first for a little time each day without feeling guilty. My husband says my default setting is guilt and I need to change it. I think he's probably right. It's difficult when most people in my life don't understand that writing is a solo activity, I need time alone to do it, and that I actually like my own company. As much as I love spending time with friends and family, I don't need to fill every moment of my day with other people.

Since the meltdown, my husband has been working hard to get me the time needed. He's encouraging me to step away from chores that he can do, and asking others not to interrupt me. He might not fully understand my writer's temperament or need for time alone, but he really is trying. I'm blessed to have him in my life.

Now enough about me. How are your writing and non-writing plans for 2018 coming along? Are you making progress, however slow? I want to hear all about your adventures.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

IWSG: New Year, New Me

It's the first Insecure Writer's Support Group post of 2018! Blink and another year has passed. Before I answer this month's question, you can learn more about the IWSG group, it's founder Alex J. Cavanaugh, and purpose here. The awesome co-hosts for January's post are Tyrean Martison, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Megan Morgan, Jennifer Lane, and Rachna ChhabriaPlease drop by and thank them for all their hard work.

Time for January's question:

What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

As I wished friends and family a happy new year and mourned the end of 2017 - it was an amazing year - I realised there's only so many times I could excuse my lack of writing and publishing due to personal reasons. If I wanted to write, I could have made time. I made the time for reading, after all. As we start 2018, I have one over-riding mission statement - it's this year or never. And I'm telling every one I know, because I want to be held accountable. 

Over December, I re-read everything I've written. First draft, final, and published. I did it to remind myself how and why I write. To re-ignite a passion. It worked. I also took other more practical steps. I've ditched my laptop, which was driving me crazy after the update to Windows 10. I bought an iPad and Google Chromebook. Best decisions I've made in a long time. I've had to re-learn a lot of the most basic of tasks but including my iPhone, I now have three easy-to-use and synced devices. The Chromebook is an absolute joy to use and essential for blogging if you move away from Microsoft. I'll be covering the reasons why in a later post.

I've made some major writing and publishing decisions. Right now, I'm just excited and eager to start. Bring it on 2018!

Monday, 1 January 2018

Happy New Year!

It's time to celebrate the ending of one year and the beginning of another. For me, 2017 was a special year. I married the man who makes me smile and laugh every single day, and supports me in everything I do. What more could I have wanted? Well, I went another year without publishing. Things will be different in 2018. I'm making a commitment and telling everyone about it. Feel free to kick my backside if I'm not making any progress! I'll send reminders to write your way, if you need them. I have sturdy boots.