Featured Author Interview

Mike Van Horn started writing science fiction thirty years ago, but got sidetracked by life and writing a dozen business books. A few years ago he said, “If I’m ever going to tell these stories in this lifetime it has to be now.” He still advises small business owners, but sci fi is a lot more fun.

How did you get started writing sci fi?

Back in the 1980s, several of us got together for a writing group. We called it the “4F Society—Fun, Fortune, Fame, and F—k the Critics.” I started writing science fiction stories then, but never finished anything, because the biz books I was writing at the time made me money. Sci fi was backburnered until a few years ago when I decided, “If I’m ever going to get these done in this lifetime, it has to be now.” My advice to writers, don’t wait 30 years to tell your stories!

What is your book about?

My Spaceship Calls Out to Me is Book 2 of a trilogy. My heroine—the singer Selena M—has hijacked an alien spaceship from the government after she discovers it is repairing itself. “It’s rightfully mine,” she says. “It crashed on my property.” But now what? “If I have a spaceship, I might as well fly into space.” Even though the governments of three nations are after her to grab hold of this advanced technology, she and her team of Spaceketeers ready the vessel for a trip. Can they pull it off? Can they stay out of the clutches of the government? Can Selena honor her commitment to singing while playing space girl? She is aided by her tubular AI, Wanda, that obeys only her—usually. And from across the cosmos by the needy clan mother of the alien that crashed.

What sets your stories apart?

I have a strong female protagonist—savvy and sassy, with a sense of humor. I write about contact with aliens that are not hostile—no alien invasion. The stories are lighthearted, not dystopian shoot-em-ups. But she has plenty of adventures in space.

What led you write and then publish recorded songs to accompany your books?

Selena is a singer/composer. I had to write snippets of lyrics for the songs she performs. Some of these snippets grew into verses, and then entire song lyrics. I found a guy who could compose music for my lyrics, and he found a local blues singer who became the vocalist and the voice of Selena. They produced my songs and I put them up on Soundcloud. Now I have “sci fi with a sound track!”

I had no inkling that I would become a lyricist! I astound myself! I’ve written about twenty songs—only seven produced so far. My message to writers is, go where your creativity takes you, even down totally unlikely pathways.

Have you ever written a character based on the real you in some part?

All my main characters capture a slice of me. My MC is an introvert who “hides on the stage in front of crowds of people.” She’s a brash risk taker, but afraid to sing the songs most meaningful to her. There’s an irascible country singer who gets to tell all my dumb jokes. There’s a captain of industry and a suave professor. A nerdy high school teacher and an anti-government survivalist. An astronaut who’s a cool-headed problem solver. My alien ran away from the responsibilities of adulthood on her home world, breaking their biggest taboos. Yes, I am all these characters!

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?

Fiction authors? Ursula LeGuin, David Brin, Tolkien.

I love LeGuin’s poetic language, character development, and the sophistication of her plots. For both her sci fi and fantasy. She doesn’t write shoot ‘em up stories, and neither do I. Brin is a master of portraying how very different alien races behave and work together. That’s a big part of my stories. In Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” I love his poetry written from the perspective of different kinds of beings. I do a lot of that also, including song lyrics.

What is one question you wish someone would ask you?

“Could we use your music in our movie sound track?”

What She Wants

What She Wants
A Talis Steelyard Tale by Jim Webster

It has to be said that Milda Whorl has been described to me, with feeling, as ‘a determined young lady.’ She certainly was decisive, knew what she wanted, and made determined efforts to acquire it. Thus, for example, her name was mentioned in hushed tones amongst those who work in the superior clothing emporia of our great city. If Milda showed an interest in a dress, then everybody knew that they had better have it in her size, or have a skilled seamstress to hand to ensure that it could rapidly be made to fit. On the other hand, the owners of said emporia were willing to admit that Milda was always ready to pay. In this she differed from many young ladies who seemed happy to run up a bill which they intended to pay off when their father was cheerfully tipsy. Alternatively others seem to have written their father off in this regard, and intended to pay off their outstanding debts when they acquired a new, and hopefully besotted, husband. Indeed I know some ladies who have managed to pay off their dressmaker when they paid for their confinement with their first child. Still as any dressmaker will tell you, it is not unknown for one of their number to turn up at the reading of the will in the vague hope that the deceased has included them as a residuary legatee.

The problem with Milda was that she had no sense of proportion. So when she decided that Marcus Daltun should pay court to her, she was most put out when he didn’t. Now in Marcus’s defence, I don’t think he was courting anybody else at the time. Indeed from memory he was never less than civil to Milda, but from her point of view he was civil in a disappointingly companionable manner. Now I know other young ladies who have run into this sort of issue. They regard it as an obstacle to be surmounted. They will use various techniques (often referred to as feminine wiles), which include everything from genteel hints through to getting your friends to pin him against a wall by his ears and ask what is wrong with him. Milda seems to have eschewed these more conventional approaches.

I suppose that the problem with asking friends for assistance is that it would hint to them that she wasn’t omnicompetent. Instead she turned to Old Mother Zenodi. In a more rural setting Zenodi would doubtless be a witch, but in Port Naain, she shunned herbal medicines for fortune telling, minor cursings and dubious invocations. When Milda came to see her, Zenodi laid out her cards and peered into the future. After suitable contemplation of the infinite the old woman announced, “Somebody is being stolen away from you.” Immediately Milda demanded to be told how she could prevent this. Now had Zenodi been a witch she could doubtless have produced a perfectly efficacious love philtre. But as it was she lacked familiarity with that area of thaumaturgy, and tentatively suggested she could try a minor cursing. The idea was that she would inflict upon Marcus some minor ailment. Milda could then visit and be the cheerful companion who would in some minor way assist in nursing. Thus and so Marcus would fall in love with her. After some thought Milda agreed, paid over the requisite sum and made her way home.

The following afternoon she called, bearing flowers, to see Marcus at the house where he lived with his sister. Milda was a little put out when Marcus’s sister, Helina, explained that Marcus was at work and had left the house that morning perfectly well. Milda muttered something about having been misinformed and made her retreat. Once she was out of sight she foisted her flowers on an elderly lady who sold them on for the price of a bottle of Urlan plum brandy. Milda then descended upon Old Mother Zenodi and vented her displeasure. The older woman was somewhat put out and explained that curses and maledictions are not an exact science. This didn’t mollify Milda who demanded, “That something must be done.” So Zenodi took more money off her and promised to inflict a further curse.

That night, Marcus leapt from his bed and rushed to the privy, his guts wracked and roiling. Unfortunately he missed his footing, slipped, and twisted his ankle. Helina came to his rescue and eventually got him back into bed next to a conveniently placed commode. She then returned to her own room and contemplated the coincidence that Milda had arrived some hours previously and had obviously been put out to discover that Marcus wasn’t ill. So next afternoon when Milda again arrived to visit the invalid, Helina refused her admittance, claiming doctors’ orders and that the patient must not be disturbed.

Now some who tell this story have stressed the fact that Helina was a minor priestess of Aea in her Aspect as the Personification of Chastity. Thus, they hint, she is fey and can sense things those less spiritually aware might miss. Others who have recounted the story to me merely point out that Helina was Marcus’s younger sister. Younger sisters have a long history of striving to stymie their brother’s romances.

Milda left, barely attempted to hide her annoyance. She made her way forthwith to see Zenodi. This time she could hardly blame the old woman for the failure of the scheme, but instead wanted something done about Helina. At this point Zenodi pointed out that this was really beyond her powers. As much as it pained her to admit it, Helina, as even a unimportant priestess, was reasonably well shielded against such minor maledictions. Either than, or like those who teach small children, Helina had developed a high level of immunity to most things by the simple process of exposure to them all.

Still, Zenodi wasn’t without ideas. She suggested that Milda seek a consultation with a colleague of hers. Indeed she promised to have the colleague present next afternoon at the same time. Milda had to be content with that. Meanwhile Zenodi contacted Vile Adolfan. In his case, his first name was a happy coincidence, describing as it did his personal predilections perfectly. She explained the case, stressed that Milda didn’t seem to mind paying over the odds for things, and Vile Adolfan promised to give his mind to the matter. So next afternoon he was present at the consultation.

He gave Milda a long lecture on the nature of conjured demons, the difficulties a demonologist had to work under, and a somewhat complex explanation of power to invocation ratios and the dangers inherent in sending an underpowered demon to do a job of work. Frankly I only got the explanation third hand, and by that time it was doubtless garbled, but I cannot claim to have understood it. He also explained that you would need a demon of a certain minimum power to either snatch Helina to get her out of the way, or to snatch Marcus away from Helina, to bring him to Milda.

Now Milda, whilst somewhat focused, was no fool. She felt that Marcus, being dropped at her feet by a demon she apparently controlled, might well be distinctly cold towards her. But she suggested an alternative. Could she attack the demon and ‘rescue’ Marcus? Here again Vile Adolfan launched into another explanation. He said it was possible, but basically, whilst to have a demon capable of snatching Marcus in the presence of Helina set a certain minimum power, having one Milda could then defeat set a certain maximum power. He was worried that the gap between these two power levels was very tight. Indeed, thinking aloud, he wasn’t sure whether he knew more than a couple of demons who might be suitable. Finally it was agreed, Vile Adolfan would summon and bind a demon which would track down Marcus, carry him to Milda, who would then drive the demon off using an enchanted item.

After some thought it was decided Adolfan would cast a minor glamour on her parasol so that it would glow in the presence of a hostile opponent. Whilst Milda had hoped for a magic sword, it was pointed out to her that if she was seen to be carrying a sword it might hint at some preparation on her part. The presence of a parasol was far more easily explained. So it was agreed, Milda would be in the Sinecurists’ Park at an hour after midnight, and the demon would deliver Marcus and then be driven off. That evening was a difficult one in the household of Marcus and Helina. The casting of powerful magics can lead to foreshadowings and other such side effects. Obviously a competent and powerful mage can damp these things down, but unfortunately the Vile Adolfan was neither. Where the competent are brisk, their magics taut, and their use of power economical, Adolfan waffled and made up wastage by over-sacrificing. Apparently his colleagues in malevolence used to sneer that he took two virgins more than anybody else to get the same result.

So as Marcus sat huddled by the fire in his room, wrapped up against the unseasonable cold, his teeth were chattering. Helina breezed in from the garden to see him. She was wearing only a light summer’s dress, with a wrap suitable for the evening and immediately detected an unnatural chill. She sat with him for half an hour, pondering the strange shadows moving in the darker corners of the room. Eventually she decided something must be done. The chittering and moaning, just on the edge of her hearing, convinced her that something fell was coming their way. She decided that the best thing to do was to get Marcus to the Temple of Aea in her Aspect as the Personification of Chastity. She sent out for a sedan chair, bundled Marcus into it, and with her staff grasped firmly in both hands, she escorted her small party to the temple.

To be honest, it was not a good journey. At one point they were spontaneously drenched with blood. At another, a headless form seemed to saunter across the road ahead of them. The chairmen were for abandoning the chair and fleeing. Helina pointed out that they might be able to outrun their fears but they would not be able to outrun her. Not only that but she also explained, in reasonable tones, that they were heading for safety. Eventually they reached the temple, and when she pounded on the doors with her staff, the porter finally awoke and let them in.

It seems it was barely a moment too soon. There was an eldritch screech and a dark shape dropped down on them as they stood in the courtyard. With the chairmen helping Marcus they fled into the porter’s lodge and Helina barred the door. The demon, or whatever it was pounded on the door but the creature’s presence finally activated the temple’s innate defences.

It appears that when you build a temple, there are prayers and petitions woven into the very fabric of the building. Now, under attack, the temple, metaphorically at least, struck back. Incantations millennia old uncoiled and lashed out at the malevolence they somehow sensed. Elderly prophets awoke to find themselves sitting bolt upright in bed already chanting psalms of protection. Two young priests and a priestesses of the peripatetic order were awakened by their staffs keening loudly. White lightening broke through the black fire the demon was deploying against the door guarded against him by Helina. The creature raged and distracted, turned upon its tormentors but in vain, they hurled it back time and time again until finally, battered and bruised it retreated. It had a rendezvous with Milda.

Meanwhile Milda was learning the hard way the reason why young ladies of good breeding did not loiter at midnight in the Sinecurists’ Park. She had already laid out one would-be assailant with her glowing parasol. This had broken under the power of the blow and so she now clutched his club in one hand and his dagger in the other. It seems he had been confused by her glowing parasol and had inadvertently let his guard down. The next potential attacker had noticed his predecessor lying bound and gagged, and had eyed up the hard eyed fury who stood ready to take him on. He smiled vaguely in her direction and left.

But now Milda sensed the approach of the demon. There was a foul stench, and somehow the shadows grew darker. The creature manifested near her, separated from her only by the ornamental fountain. As it moved towards her she studied it careful, and raised both her bludgeon and dagger. It stopped, swaying slightly and glared at her. Seen from the demon’s point of view you can understand the fiend’s uncertainty. It was battered, drained of energy from the fight it had just escaped from, and was leaking reality from a score of untreated wounds. As it pondered its next move, Milda, realising it hadn’t brought Marcus, lost her temper. For the last week she had been paying out good money to incompetents and all that she had got for it was a few nocturnal experiences she’d prefer never to have. Angry now she strode towards the demon, the club ready. The demon noticed the stricken mugger and came to an instant decision. It lunged, grabbed the unconscious individual and faded back into whatever unreality it had come from. Milda, her anger the only thing that was keeping her warm, glowered at where it had stood as if defying it to return. Then she turned and made her way home.

Two days later, suffering from a severe cold, she lay in bed feeling miserable and, secure in the fact there were no witnesses, sorry for herself. Much to her surprise her maid came in bearing a bouquet, a basket of fruit and a charming letter from Marcus asking after her health and wondering whether she would feel up to him visiting her at some point. What Helina thought of this has not been recorded.

Featured Author for March

Gary Morgenstein

Gary is our featured author for this month and he is excited to release his latest book A Mound Over Hell. Take a look at this review for the book and then get your copy before the game is gone for good.

Review Fix chats with author Gary Morgenstein, who discusses his latest book, “A Mound Over Hell.” Delving into his creative process and goals, the accomplished author lets us know what fuels him.

About the Book:

As A Mound Over Hell opens, baseball is beginning its final season—forever. The once all-American sport is now synonymous with terrorism and treason. Holograms run the bases for out-of-shape players and attendance averages fifteen spectators per game. The only ballpark left is Amazon, the once-famous Yankee Stadium. Led by baseball historian Puppy Nedick and a band of former baseball greats, baseball regains its popularity only to become a pawn between those who want peace, and those eager for another war.

Review Fix: What inspired this book?

Gary Morgenstein: Baseball and science fiction are my two loves, and I’m also a political junkie and a history buff, so this was the perfect literary storm. The beauty of writing speculative fiction is you build upon existing events and take them to that next terrifying, thought-proving level, like Orwell’s 1984 or Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, along with a healthy dose of Philip K. Dick. The greatness of science fiction is asking “What if?”. So in my dystopian baseball novel A Mound Over Hell, what if the current conflict with Islam went horribly south and America actually lost World War Three to an ISIS-clone? Then throw in the end of baseball forever. What would this look like but, most importantly, who are the people in this world, because I insist on writing people, not symbols. Even in the worst of times, people respond to basic needs and basic impulses. During the London Blitz, the birthrate soared. Hello. Humans don’t give up and I wanted to explore how they’d live and perhaps change these frightening circumstances.

Review Fix: What was the creation process like? Continue Reading at Review Fix.



Illya’s Holiday

A Shiva XIV Story
by Lyra Shanti

 The lights caught her eye in a whizzing blur of gold, red, and green. “Look, Darvis!” she exclaimed to her appointed chaperone for the day. “Isn’t it amazing?”
“Yes, Princess,” Darvis replied with a yawn. Clearly, he wasn’t nearly as interested in sightseeing around Voliar, the capital city of Kri.
Pouting, Iliya took a deep breath, then said, “You’re such a downer, Darvy. Why couldn’t Jin take me shopping today? I mean, you don’t even want to be here, I can tell. At least he likes being with me… I think.”
Darvis shook his head and crossed his legs, shifting his weight in the black plasma-vehicle taking them to Neenan Square, the biggest and busiest shopping center in the capital. “I already told you, my dear, Jin is training in the Lirhan Academy, and he doesn’t have time to take you to the Square.”
Annoyed, she folded her arms and looked out the car’s window. It was nighttime, and she saw people walking by on the city streets with the bright lights of stores and other cars beaming back at her.
“I love this time of year. Don’t you, Darvis?” she asked, ignoring his previous answer about her dream man, Jin.
“Yes,” he replied, despondent.
“Oh, my Gods! Could Minister Baran have assigned me a more boring escort?!”
Darvis laughed under his breath, bypassing offended feelings in favor of amusement.
“Sorry, Your Highness, but I really don’t see the point of this trip. You certainly have enough clothing and tech-toys.”
“Darvis! It’s the holidays! May I remind you this is my first time in Kri while celebrating Verlo Nemus?! It’s more than shopping! I want to see the lighting ceremony tonight at the city temple! Then, I want to visit the poor people at the Charity House on, um… where was it again? I think it’s on Amnis Street. I have plans, Darvis, dear!” Continue reading …



By GD Deckard

IGA Denies Travel Agents Aided Cannibals

   InterGalactic Adventures’ spokesperson Woot Woot Barney today denounced as ‘mere speculation’ reports that their agents booked holiday tourists onto a planet where creatures higher up the food chain were holding an Iron Chef Competition.

“They were the chefs,” Bubba Knight accuses, “and we were the ingredients.”

This reporter stared at the veteran traveler as he leaned noticeably to the left in the saddle atop his Merino sheep.

“What happened?” I asked.

“It was horrible. Some of us followed signs marked ‘Good Food’ into a wood. We were jumped by bug eyed monsters wearing chef’s hats & carrying cleavers. They slaughtered several people I knew and popped them into open ovens. Then they danced around adding spices and chanting, ‘Kick-it-up-a-notch.’

“They chased me,” Bubba said, “Yelling, ‘Get that one! He’s already half baked.'” The big man shifted uncomfortably in his saddle, leaned left again and fixed me with his steely eyes. “I can show you proof,” he said. Bubba looked around carefully. Then he dismounted and mooned me.

OMG! His left buttock was missing!

“They almost got me,” he said. “It was real close, I tell you.”

But IGA spokesperson Woot Woot, even when confronted with this eye witness testimony, dismissed it derisively, “Well, that evidence is half-arsed, ain’t it?”

– GD Deckard, Intrepid Reporter

GD Deckard

Severely beaten as a child by a WWII hero and combat-induced-PTSD stepfather, the author, as a teen, faced the old man down with a shotgun and earned his blessing to join the military at the time Americans were learning about a country called Vietnam. The “lazy, no good son-of-a-bitch” opted out of combat and hard labor by becoming an Air Force medic, stamping out suffering and misery on Freedom’s Frontier at Clark Airbase in S.E. Asia and earning some kind of medal pinned on him personally by then Secretary of the Air Force, Harold Brown, for “Saving lives, etc.”
There followed a summer in Europe ending in the first of many happy marriages. Then graduation with University Honors, kids worth dying for and a career in business. Life is good. Author, The Phoenix Diary. Current WIP: Bob vs The Aliens .
Recipient of the Psi Young award for Creative Biography.

Connect with GD Deckard at the following link:

December Featured Author ~ L.N. Denison

by The SFRT


This month our featured author is L.N. Denison (aka Layla to our members).

SFRT: Hello Layla, we want to know ALL about you. Everything. What? Oh I can’t expect her to tell us everything about her life? Oh well, alright, but you guys are no fun.

SFRT: I have read Going Underground and it is rather bleak in outlook. You are so friendly and up beat, the subject matter in your book surprises me. Tell me why you chose to write dystopian novels?

LD: I think it was after reading 1984 that I started writing Dystopia, and it was a good release for me. I have a dark mind, I grant you that, but then, so has everybody to some extent. I tend to mood write, and god help my characters if I’m in a bad mood… I’m kidding, by the way. But I must admit, I do enjoy writing the dark scenes. They seem to flow better for me than anything else.

SFRT: What were your favorite books to read as a child? Have your tastes in genre changed as you’ve become an adult?

LD: It wasn’t really until I hit my teens that I started reading properly. I liked the Narnia books, Lord of the Flies, and do you remember the books that you used to be able to get where you could choose which direction it went in? I had a few of those, which I loved reading. As I have aged, my tastes started to change. I found myself more SciFi and Dystopian based novels, such as 1984, Fahrenheit 451 etc. I now find myself reading a lot of independent author’s work. I think I prefer it to what’s being brought out nowadays, and I’m all about supporting indies.

SFRT: What is your favorite pastime when not working or writing?

LD: Well! Apart from spending quality time with the old man and the pooch, I like to go to the cinema. I do like a good film. Although, time hasn’t been on my side for the last couple of months.

SFRT: What drives you to write? Do you want to make a career out of your novels so you can write full time?

LD: I have so many ideas that I need to get down, and that is what drives me to write. I’d much rather my stories were out there for everyone to read, than be stuck in my head for an eternity. As for whether I would want to be a full-time writer? It is a dream of mine, but highly unlikely that it would happen. I think it’s all the aggro of getting an agent, and all the faffing around involved. I think I like things the way they are at the moment. But what’s to say that I might not try in the future?

SFRT: What would you do first if you were contacted by a production company that wanted to turn your books into a movie or TV series? Would you want to be involved in the process? Who would you choose to play your characters?

Oh, the former, definitely… I would want to be a part of the production. If they were going to use one of my stories, I would want to oversee everything, as it would need to be filmed to my original vision. I would want some input with the script as well… and maybe a cameo…do a ‘Stan Lee’. In all honesty though, I think I would be a complete and utter nightmare, and they’d scrap the project after a week.

Thank you Layla and best wishes on your new book release. For our readers you can Pre-Order Hyde’s Lament now on Amazon.


L.N. Denison (AKA Layla Pinkett) is an independent author from Kent, who lives with her husband, Dave, who has managed to put up with her for nearly 20 years, and her Saint Bernard, Max. She mainly writes dark dystopic stories, but has entered into a new, lighter type of story, which will be available the first quarter of 2018. When she’s not writing, L.N. works as a Butcher/Fishmonger at the local supermarket, which is good, but she’d much rather be writing =D.

Connect with L.N. Denison at the following links:


November Featured Author ~ Claire Buss

by Angelique S. Anderson

I’m so honored and excited to present an author interview with one of the most wonderful authors and most sparkly badgers I’ve ever met. Please welcome Claire Buss, it was such a delight having her stop in for a bit to answer some questions. She is a wonderful lady!

I see that you have four books available on Amazon. Which one was your favorite to write and why?

My favorite book to write so far has been The Rose Thief, I enjoyed the initial rough draft story creation and the editing process. I’m excited to write more stories in this world as well. I manage to release my books into the world quite well, I’m more inclined to think – right that one’s done, what’s next.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

They say you write what you know, whether you mean to or not and I think that’s true. As a writer you just can’t help putting bits of yourself and other people in your life into your characters. More often than not it will be strangers who can spark the most inspiration as you tend to only see a tiny, tiny part of their personality – we are left to fill in the rest ourselves.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I’m afraid I am a pantser rather than a plotter. I don’t outline before I start, I prefer to just sit down and write. When I’m in writing mode I’ll aim for a minimum of 1000 words a day and then the next day I just sit down and carry on. I don’t go back over what I’ve just written until the very end. That’s because when I start writing the idea has been bubbling in my head for a while previously and it’s really about the characters being ready to talk to me, telling me what has to happen next. I actually love not knowing what’s going on. Once I’ve written the rough draft, I find I have huge plot holes but that’s when, for me, the hard graft begins – figuring out the plot and how we get from A to B. It seems to work for me so I’ll carry on with this method until it doesn’t and then I’ll try something else.

What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?

I’ve become more confident in myself. I’ve rediscovered a passion and can now spend my time doing something I love as well as something I can actually do. I used to think I didn’t have a talent then I started blogging casually and friends would tell me how much they loved my writing. It wasn’t until I entered a local book writing competition that I really pushed myself and discovered that actually I could write a coherent story. I’ve learnt that I will never please everyone, and that’s alright, and as long as I am happy with the final result then that’s what matters.

Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?

I’m a stay-at-home mum and housewife, my little boy is 4 and a half, just started Reception school and my second baby is due on 26th November so really for me, anytime is the best time to write! It used to be once little man had gone to bed for an hour, then it changed to the first hour of the morning through the summer. Now, with him at school I can write during the day but goodness knows what I’ll do when the new baby gets here. The key is not to get discouraged if you don’t manage to write because then that will hang over to the next day and the next. Every single word is a win.

What are you working on right now?

At the time of this interview I am getting my new book. The Rose Thief ready for release on 10th November. I hope to take part in NaNoWriMo this year and plan to work on the sequel to my debut novel, The Gaia Effect. I’ve also started a Wattpad account sharing flash fiction and poetry – this is to encourage me to keep writing something new every week.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

When I was little, I wanted to be Lois Lane – it looked like the dream job to me so I eagerly went to my local paper for work experience at the tender age of 15. Needless to say being a local reporter isn’t quite as glamorous as being Miss Lane so I drifted into secretarial and administrative work for a few years before qualifying as a chartered marketer and then an adult ICT tutor. All these roles involve words and people which is a bit like being a writer!

What was the first story you remember writing?

One of my earliest writing memories is writing a story about Santa Claws and being incredibly proud of presenting it to my mum and step-dad. I couldn’t understand why they were laughing so much. It wasn’t meant to be a funny story.

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

I have a folder with scraps of paper scrawled with ideas on them. I keep all the ideas I have – some will become flash fiction, some short stories, some may develop into full blown novels. And of course some will never, ever see the light of day unless I enter a worst idea ever competition.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

At the moment I have an idea for a fairy-tale retelling, a top secret multi-book series, a techno-western, some short stories from the world of The Rose Thief, the sequel to The Gaia Effect, another Tales from collection and I plan to enter as many short story competitions as I find myself inspired to do.

What are your current writing goals and how do you juggle the promotional aspects with the actual writing?

This time last year I wasn’t an author, I had no books available to buy and absolutely no indie author social media presence. By the end of this year I will have three books out, short stories in two anthologies and a stable author platform via my website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and other social media sites. Obviously with a new baby due to arrive, everything will have to be a bit more fluid but the plan is to release the sequel to The Gaia Effect next year as well as Tales from the Seaside, another humorous look at life around me – this time on the local coast. Anything else will be a bonus. Every day I do a little social marketing, I have a daily checklist which I sometimes manage to complete fully but again I don’t panic if I don’t manage everything, every day. The key is to be consistent so that’s what I try to do. I think the hardest thing for indie authors to accept is that they have to do all their own marketing and it’s not just release day promos – it’s every day and you can’t just go hard sell, sell, sell. You have to share some of your personality, hopes & fears, support other writers and share tips. Respond to everyone, interact and encourage others. You won’t become a bestseller with your first book, it’s going to take time but you will get there.

Where can people learn more about your books?

You can find out more about my books and all my social media links at my website – CBVisions. Sign up for my newsletter to never miss an update and experience.

Thanks so much to Claire, for joining us today! It was great getting to know her better. I wish her all the success in the world!!  😀

Angelique S. Anderson

Conference on Terraforming

by John Thornton


As Dillion Vermeer prepared to step from the elevator on the top floor of Asteroid Prospectors, she still expected to see her long-time friend Kevin Mayberry in his large corner office, but she suppressed the urge to cry as she reminded herself Kevin was dead. Needlessly checking her deep blue business suit, and white shirt she stepped out looking more confident than she felt. Her brown eyes glanced around and she could not see much difference in the office suite.

“Doctor Vermeer, the others are in the conference room,” Kevin’s secretary, Jason, said to her. “May I get you anything? I could easily make a cup of cinnamon kohvi for you.”

Dillion brushed her black hair back over her ear, and met Jason’s eyes. The exchanged look needed no words to go with it. He felt her sincere appreciation. She smartly turned and walked toward to the conference room.

Then she stopped and turned back, “Thank you, Jason. Kevin appreciated your work.” A blush came over his face, and he turned away, but not before a tear rolled down his cheek.

The polished hickory doors of the conference room were open, and the oblong table had two other people already seated at it.

“Well, here is our little lady now, Miss Vermeer! Come right in, and make yourself at home,” a man said in an overly-loud tone as he rose to his feet. He was shorter than Dillion, husky, with slicked-back hair, and a new, but ill-fitting suit. Dillion was surprised that with the expense of the suit, he had not had it tailored for his own frame. Dillion would never spend that amount of money on apparel, and she wondered why anyone would.

“Reverend Jaxson Rhono,” Dillion nodded and extended her hand as she entered.

Acting as if he had not seen her attempt at a handshake, Jaxson turned and motioned to the other man, “I believe you know our friend, Nigul Rebane of Rebane Space Construction.”

“Yes, Nigul and I were classmates,” Dillion withdrew her hand. Nigul was thin with a sharp nose, somewhat too large for his face. His sandy hair and very dark eyes were just as she remembered, distinctly contrasting physical traits. His business-casual attire was in tasteful colors.

“Classmates, along with Kevin,” Nigul replied. “We all desperately grieve over our lost alum.” He did reach out and give a brief clasp to Dillion’s shoulder.

n“Oh, indeed, we all do, yes we do,” Jaxson interjected, and stepped between the two. “Doing Kevin’s memorial service was one of the hardest funerals I’ve ever performed, yes it was. But, I did daddy’s funeral as well—some years ago—and most recently, Kevin’s sainted momma’s funeral. That poor woman, poor, poor woman. She never did get over the loss of Kevin out in space. Oh, the day I sat with her when they told her of that tragedy. The Mayberrys they’re some fine folk, yes, fine folk. There don’t get no better people than them Mayberrys were. By heaven’s graces, that’s a fact.”

Both Nigul and Dillion cringed inwardly at the grammatical dialect Jaxson used. They did not agree on many issues, but both had been trained in engineering and recalled the motto coined by the Dean of Engineering, Professor Hubert Carvalho, “If you can’t say cannot, you can’t be an engineer.” Dillion had even made that official policy for her work.

“Congratulations on your win in the courts,” Nigul added quickly.

“It was a blessing that the courts followed Olga Mayberry’s wishes in her will.  I never expected to be the heir to all of Kevin’s estate, but as his blessed momma directed, it came to pass unto me.” He looked around the office. “Well’s we are here now to talk about—not memorials and funerals—but the future,” Jaxson went on, as his sad face was replaced by a different look. “I’m just a simple minister, and this Asteroid Prospectors is a right big endeavor, that’s fallen into my lap. So’s I called in you two folks, to help me understand this terraforming business.  Just what is that?” He gestured as he spoke, and Dillion and Nigul both took a seat.

“Perhaps, you would consider having some of the Asteroid Prospector senior staff join us? Kevin recruited and hired only the best and brightest people, and I am sure they would be more than willing to assist,” Dillion offered.

Jaxon sat at the head of the oblong table and looked down at the display screen in front of him. “I could’ve done just that, but I need honest answers. You see, the employees here, well, they’re all worried about jobs and such, since I am now being their boss and all. I don’t need no mealy-mouthed people pleasers. I need honest feedback.” He pressed a couple buttons on the table, next to the display and then stated, “I’s got my helper here, E1877—a name I must change, just must—come on boy, answer me.”

A mechanical voice came from the display, “This is E1877. I am listening. Were you addressing me?”

“No other machine helper here, is there? Well, you just record all’s that we are a sayin’ here now. Got that E1877?”

“Affirmative. Recording initiated,” E1877 replied.

“So’s what is terraforming and how does it play in with colonies? Well, Nigul, my friend, what is terraforming, and why should my business be interested in it?” Jaxson asked.

“Terraforming, in a simple, basic sense, just means to transform somewhere to resemble the earth, especially so that it can support human life,” Nigul replied.

“Like that there moon colony where all them folks died?” Jaxson asked.

“Limited terraforming was attempted without success on the moon, roughly thirty years ago—with Moon Base Alpha. Despite the fortuitous locating of subsurface lunar lava tubes, which did expedite making the base, it was unsuccessful,” Nigul replied. “Our engineering today is far superior to that era.”

“The Great Event, and the 90 Hour War contributed more to that failure, than any engineering problems,” Dillion brusquely interjected. “Reverend Rhono I started Dome Survival Systems just so we can address the issue of repairing and restoring the Earth.  Dome Survival Systems is a non-profit entity which is open to all who want to participate, I do not even take a salary.” She glared briefly at Nigul. “I think if you…”

“Miss Vermeer, your charity service is noted, and I want to come back to that in a bit, yes, I do, but right now, I am tryin’ to figure out this colony idea, and how it goes with terraforming?” Turning to Nigul, he asked, “Terraforming is sort of like having some creation kit to make the Garden of Eden, again?” Then smiling broadly, he joked, “Minus them snakes, of course.”

“Speaking broadly, you could phrase it that way,” Nigul replied but gulped as he did. “It is essential to the proposed generational colony ship program. Now, Rebane Space Construction has been the primary contractor for Asteroid Prospectors, and has built the vast majority of the spacecraft which have so effectively mined the asteroids. The Mayberry Mover…”

Jaxson interrupted, “That is Kevin’s motor for space travel, and part of my portfolio now. Came along with the whole shebang. I was told the mineral wealth of the asteroids is like five-hundred billion unified credits, using the fancy new money talk, and that fleet of space planes and stuff. I knows the company is flying up there and taking rocks and smashin’ them into usable stuff. But I want to focus again on terraforming. That astronomer gal, Gretchen Westerhuis, I think that’s her name, well, she is mapping out some very interesting places up in the heavens. Very interesting.”

“Professor Westerhuis has made amazing discoveries of exoplanets, and Rebane Space Construction stands ready to build ships to take us to those locations,” Nigul stated, and rubbed his chin a bit. “Vision is all that is needed to take that first step toward colonizing other solar systems.”

Turning back to Dillion, Jaxson asked, “Dear girl, I owe you an apology. I was rude, and knows it. You were about to tell me about saving the Earth, I believe. Now, what plans do you have? I know Kevin was’a working on a grand scheme to help us all. What part do you play? You don’t need to get all technical on this right now.  Just gimme the big picture, and we’ll start with that.”  He gave her a smile that held little warmth.

Dillion let out a breath she had not been aware of holding in, “Well, sir, it is a project that Kevin and I discussed many times.  It is about the protection of what is left of the Earth’s fertile soil and stopping the decline of the human population.  I can provide you with an entire portfolio of information, in case Kevin’s files are not easily accessible. I have all the scientific studies, research findings, and proposals which support Dome Survival Systems.”

“Let me see if I understand, your plan is to make colonies on Earth? In places to protect what is left of this ruined old world?”

“Yes, sir. We must take action before it is too late, although, in all honestly, I would not use the term colonies. I prefer refuges, or perhaps sanctuaries,” Dillion replied.

“Sanctuaries are in houses of worship,” Jaxson retorted.

“Yes, excuse my phrasing. These domes will be safe-houses, during the implementation of comprehensive mitigation efforts to reverse the course of the ecological damage. It is all in our reports and projections. Kevin had a wide-ranging plan, the Earth Restoration Project, to reverse the ecological catastrophes which are happening.”

“Oh, yes, so I’ve heard, and that’s part of why you two are here. I’ve been wondering, I guess I see two things happening. There’s your idea of staying here on Earth and ridin’ out the storm, so’s to speak. Then the other idea’s those gigantic colony ships goin’ off to the heavens on some sojourn through the ages.  What about us just doing that terraforming on our neighbor planets here? Say, Mars or Venus?”

“With all due respect, there is not a need to go to another planet. Neither Mars nor Venus is a good candidate for a colony, or for terraforming. Kevin has a plan, excuse me, had a plan, to bombard the Earth’s stratosphere with the nuclei of comets. He charted and tracked at least twenty-seven suitable prospects, some out in the Kuiper Belt.  By strategically placing them into the jet stream from orbit, they will cause climatic change which will basically rinse the radiation out of the sky.”

“I must not’a heard you correctly,” Jaxon stated, “Miss Vermeer, are you saying that bombing the sky’s a good thing? That sounds like what them enemies did in the 90-Hour war when the Holy Land was laid waste.”


“Well, the term ‘bombard’ was the one Kevin used to describe his plans.  It probably is not the best term, sorry. The science is sound, and not like the nuclear detonations of the war. As you know, Kevin was brilliant.  Essentially, he planned to bring a massive amount of water, via the comets, into the jet stream. That will drench the Earth and wash the radiation down out of the atmosphere.”

“Sorta like in Noah’s day.  The gates of heaven opened up and the waters from above came down.  The rains came down for days and days and days.”

“Yes, something like that. It is not just about the water. There will need to be survival places for humanity to be protected from the falling radiation. There will need to be radiation mitigation systems to absorb what is concentrated by the water run offs.”

“Miss Vermeer, you’re saying, you want to drench the earth with space water, cosmic snowballs, and then have hidey holes for people to live in to escape the stuff the rains bring down?  All while some sponges soak up the poisons?”

“Yes.  That is the basic project.  Kevin and I discussed this at length. My specialty is the Dome Survival Systems.  The plan calls for 10,000 domes each holding 10,000 people.  I know that is a far cry from the current population level of 1.8 billion.  But consider our current population level is only about a fourth of what it was just a few years ago, and the birth rate is plummeting and mutations are causing even those babies born to have very high infant mortality rates. Therefore, with proper screening and testing, we can save 100,000,000 people who have no radiation damage, and build secure places for them to survive.  Then, when the radiation levels are down to where they will not endanger humanity’s ongoing evolution, the people can come out of the domes and repopulate the newly revived planet.”

“Evolution?” Jaxson exclaimed. Then he caught himself. “Well, yes, thank you.  I will give that my full and due consideration.” Turning back to Nigul, he asked, “Do you agree about Mars and Venus?”

Nigul looked at Dillion, and then back at Jaxson. “Yes, neither of those planets are suitable for colonization in the long-term. We have tried to make ships capable of surviving on the surface of Venus. They all failed more quickly than any of us expected. The people who planned those missions envisioned a dome which would convert the atmosphere of Venus into a swampy mess. They quoted ideas about Venus being known as Earth’s twin. But that was a manipulation of the data. Sure, it is the closest of all planets to Earth. Venus has nearly the same mass and size as the Earth, but they ignored all the facts which show it to be unsuitable. A quick list; there is not much water on Venus, the incredibly slow rotation of the planet gives it a day many Earth months long. The atmosphere of Venus is chiefly toxic gases which generate a surface pressure nearly a hundred times greater than that on Earth. Then there is the fact that Venus’ surface temperature averages nearly nine-hundred degrees in that old Fahrenheit scale.”

“Sounds more like Hell than a Garden of Eden,” Jaxson replied. “But what about Mars?”

“Reverend Rhono,” Dillion interjected, “Mars is far more difficult to terraform than Earth is to repair. We tried a small-scale colony on Mars and due to air filter problems, all those people died as well.  It was not public knowledge, but it is in the records here at Asteroid Prospectors.”

“Oh, my, no,” Jaxson replied, and for the first time seemed to have a genuine emotion on his face. “E1877, is that true?”

“Yes,” the mechanical voice replied.

Dillion continued, “Mars is unsuitable.  It has some water, but extracting that is far more laborious than was initially expected.  The air filtration problems continue, and we do not have a good answer to that issue yet. Mars’ gravity too low. There is no shield from cosmic rays, no magnetic field to speak of, no protection from solar radiation. Mars is much further from the sun, and has a more elliptical orbit. Basically, Mars is just too dry, extremely cold, and its best places—equatorial regions—are similar in temperatures to Antarctica but with the normal night time temperatures far, far colder.  Where the attempted colony was located, which was considered the best Mars offered, routinely had nighttime temperatures of less than one hundred degrees below zero, Fahrenheit. Mars is too dry, too cold, and too exposed. The other possibilities are so far and remote on the outer planets’ moon systems, and those are just variations on the problems Mars has, and worse. Building protective domes on Earth remains far easier than to build similar domes on Mars, the outer moons, Luna, or even worse, on Venus.”

“Sounds like water is a prime factor for this colony idea, and the terraforming tool,” Jaxson stated. “That Westerhuis gal says they have found water on some other planet, far way.”

Nigul jumped in, “Indeed they have.  Westerhuis 23, with its four known planets, the second one shows very positive readings for large amounts of water. The colony ship program can build ships to reach that system, and others, if we have the backing and the vision to seek out the heavens. Plus, and if I might add, the colony ships will have generations to study the target worlds and design terraforming specific to each planet. It is a winning situation, or might I just say, a divine calling.”

“Them gargantuan colony ships, can they really be built?” Jaxson asked. “I mean, if I was to…”

“Not as cheaply or as efficiently as the domes right here pn Earth can be built,” Dillion interrupted. “The Dome Survival System is our best chance to protect humanity and set us back in a proper upward spiral.”

“Yes, Miss Vermeer, you’ve made your position clear, and I respect that, yes, I do. But is it either or? Is it? I could fund both projects, and we would double our chances, right?” Turning again to Nigul. “When can those colony ships set off?”

“We can build ten ships in thirteen years, sir. Just thirteen years,” Nigul stated with confidence. “That assumes we have proper funding and support from Asteroid Prospectors and the leadership that sees hope in the heavens.”

Dillion nearly choked as she caught the religious tones Nigul was spewing. She knew he was agnostic at best, but saw how Jaxson lit up whenever Nigul spoke like that.

“Miss Vermeer? When can you begin building your first dome?”

“Right away sir,” she replied. “For less than the colony ships, and to protect far more people. I am proposing protecting 100,000,000 people, while the colony ships will hold at most just one million people, if that.”

“Now, Miss Vermeer, do not disparage Mister Rebane’s ideas here. None of that petty cat-fighting.  I am going to approve both of your colony ideas.” He stood up, and walked to the window.  The tan clouds of radiation were far on the horizon, and were not expected to make their way toward the city. He pushed thoughts of them away, and looked at the blue skies that were still visible in most of his panoramic view. “I believe we have come to the end of this meeting.  Initial checks will be issued for both your projects.” He turned around and looked right at Dillion Vermeer. “Come out and be ye separate. Go and build your domes, but we will meet again to talk about repairs to creation.”

Dillion rose, surprise on her face. “Thank you, sir. Thank you. Future generations will look back at this as a turning point.”

“Good bye Miss Vermeer.”

Dillion walked away, planning who to call, and what to do to start building Dome 1. She caught Nigul’s eye as she walked out, and he nodded ever so slightly.

After she had left, the Reverend Jaxson Rhono said, “The stars are our covenant. I will start a New Canaan Movement. Now, you go and build me a Noah’s Ark for space. You may build seven of them. Distribute out six, but you save one just for me.”

“Thank you, sir! Thank you!” Nigul left the room.

After a few moments, Jaxson Rhono said out loud, “So, now that I’m in charge here, I suppose Jaxson Rhono might as well use these toys Kevin Mayberry built.”  Jaxson Rhono leaned forward and pushed a button on the table.

“How may I assist you?” the very mechanical E1877 asked.

“Are you aware of who is in the room with you?”  Jaxson asked.

“Yes, you are Jaxson Rhono.  Current President of Asteroid Prospectors.  Current and sole member of the Board of Directors of Asteroid Prospectors.  How may I assist you?”

“Well’s I’ll be. I really need to change your name. I have a cash-cow and a plan. Bring me my elders and deacons.”

“Yes, sir. Messages being sent now,” E1877 replied.

Then to the empty conference room, Jaxson Rhono prepared his next speech. He thought of it as his finest sermon, and the words poured from his mouth, “My friends, you are the elders who have served with me since our days of small time rallies and meetings in basements.  But now we’ll need to work. We’ll need good and clean land, and animals of all types, and this has to get done.  You must acquire, by whatever means necessary, whatever we need to succeed.  I mean anything.  Look everywhere.  Find what we need.  Nothing shall prevent your righteous goal. No matter what, get it all.  This old world is under a curse, and the wicked are reaping their just rewards.  So, just like the children of Israel plundered the Egyptians before their exodus, we’ll gather whatever we need to make the Noah’s Ark work.  The prophets of old used the wicked to advance their goals, and so will we.  Did the Hebrews care about the Egyptians after the plagues?  Make friends for yourselves with with those who have dishonest wealth.  We’ll use whatever we need, for it is our inheritance.  We’ll take the honey out of the corpse.  We will offer the six vessels to the people of the world.  That is our gift of charity.  They can buy them from us like the nations of the world bought the grain from Joseph.  Yes, after they buy those six they can outfit them however they will.  But our golden angel will get all the very best.  And that is your task.  Elders, you will find the best and get it for us, by whatever way you can.  We’ll call our golden lamp the Rapture, for it’ll carry us all away, in the twinkling of an eye.  No, it’s the last days now.  So, better yet, ours will be named Eschaton!  Yes, the last day is here!  We will build the Eschaton! Jaxson Rhono you will get to purge out the evils.  You will set up what is right and proper.  Yes, Jaxson Rhono will forever be the new messiah!  Jaxson Rhono, will be the deliverer.  Jaxson Rhono, will be the Savior of all of mankind!”

The maniacal laughter echoed off the conference walls.

The end.


How to Survive NaNoWriMo

by Cindy Tomamichel

Adventures in Nano Land

We live in a world full of acronyms, some sound mysterious and interesting and turn out to be accounting shorthand. Others – like Nano – are simple and elegant, yet hidden behind those four letters is a world of mystery, imagination and creative frenzy. Once you know what Nano stands for, your life will never be the same again. Every October, the whisper will rise nano – nano is coming. Will you answer the call?

Ok, I might be exaggerating a little bit. Nano is National Write a Novel in November, often NaNoWriMo, with participants being wrimos. Entry to this experience can be found at https://nanowrimo.org/  where you can login and explore.

So what is it? Basically, the idea is to sign up and write 1,667 words a day for the month of November – every day. This gives you 50,000 words in a month. There is no compulsion, no punishment for not finishing, and you write it on your own software.

To become a wrimo:

  • Register and pick a login name etc, then you can add your book details after October. From now on you are part of the Nano family, and receive pep talk emails, you can make buddies and join in the forums which are fantastic resources. Continue reading…

Prepping for the Nanopocalypse

So, you have taken your courage in both hands and signed up for Nano – congratulations! I have done it a few times now, so I thought I might share some tips on how to prepare for the month and keep your partner and your sanity.

For your partner and family

Nano is all about you – or at least you will have such an intense relationship with your novel writing that other people seem to fade away. This is probably not great for your relationship, and it can be quite boring to listen to as well.

To avoid getting things thrown at you, or hearing the door slam and wondering why, make sure you break up your writing with family time, and talk about things other than your book. Do some housework, cook, or contribute in some way. 1,667 words a day can be squeezed into commute time, early morning or late evening or lunch breaks without huge disruptions to family life. The time taken by social media or TV is an ideal swap for writing time.

If you are in the position where someone you know is doing Nano, you may well be familiar with the vacant gaze into space when creation is happening, or the lost conversation as a side thought hits them. You have my sympathy! For November, they are following a dream, and provision of coffee/tea/snacks and scrap paper is helpful. Of course, don’t pander to the grumpy writer, this is a stereotype that no one needs to continue. Do take this as an opportunity to slack off on the housework and do nice things for yourself as they won’t notice.


Even dreamers must eat, and no one wants to wake up in December to a house that looks like it needs to be condemned! Continue reading…


So November has rocked around, and Nano has started. Grab your snacks, coffee and keyboard and write. There you go – November has finished and you have a novel. Simple, isn’t it?

Well, it tends to be a long month, and most wrimos go through a few stages.

Day 1 (1,667 words)

Either blind panic, or oh, look I have written 3,000 words. This is just impossible / so easy. Neither of these states last.

Day 7 (11,669- words, dude)

You will be in a routine by now and feeling ok. Make sure you keep up the daily exercise, and say nice things to your family. They are sick of your novel by now.

Back up your work.

Day 15 (25,005 half way)

Despair may set in at this point for a number of reasons.

  • You hate what you have written. We all do. Plug on and don’t listen to yourself, and do not edit.
  • You have run out of ideas. This happen too- take a walk, a break, or check the Nano forums for prompts and ideas. At this stage the travelling shovel of death or a team of ninjas may need to appear. At the very least they will be entertaining to write, and remember you are allowed to edit after November.
  • You are so far behind you will never catch up. This happens too. You can try a ‘Night of Writing Dangerously’ Nano event, or change your location to a café or library. Ask yourself why as well, you may be able to overcome the problem by stepping away from the panic.

Back up your work again. Be nice to your family – they hate your novel by now.  Continue reading …