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The Momentum Blog

Who wants money to write about books? BOOK BLOGGER WANTED!

Posted October 20, 2014 by

Momentum is the digital-only imprint of Pan Macmillan Australia. Established in February 2012, we publish high quality ebooks globally. Our website and blog is the hub of our operation, and we’d like to include as many diverse voices as possible. Our blog currently hosts opinions from Momentum employees, authors and other contributors, and now we’d like you to have the chance to have your say about the world of books, writing and reading on the Momentum blog.

We are looking for someone who is interested in books, specifically with an interest in genre fiction (predominantly thrillers, horror, YA/NA and science fiction/fantasy).

What we want from you:

– 4-8 blog posts a month, with a minimum word count of 300 words each

– The posts can cover any topic that you think is relevant to reading, writing, book and storytelling culture and can be in the form of reviews, interviews, author profiles, recaps, catch-ups, re-reads and reader polls – creativity and audience engagement is the main aim

– Preference will be given to a blogger with a relevant social media presence (Twitter, Facebook, etc)

– Genre bloggers step to the front of the line. If you love romance, science fiction, fantasy and thrillers show us your passion for your genre(s)

What we are offering in return:

– An audience of readers and writers

– $20 per post (minimum of 4 and maximum of 8 posts per month)

– free Momentum ebooks

To apply, send a sample blog post, covering letter and brief resume to info@momentumbooks.com.au by October 27th 2014 with the subject line ‘Momentum Blogger’ and be sure to include your name, city, country of residence and occupation. We welcome applicants from all over the world, but the posts must be in English.

Your sample blog post should be the type of thing you’d be posting on a regular basis (not a hokey introductory post). And of course, if we select you as our resident blogger then you will be compensated accordingly if you decide to use your sample blog post as your first post.

If you have any questions, feel free to email or ask in the comments below.

Terms & Conditions

  • The winning applicant will be subject to a trial period of one month.
  • Posts will be vetted by staff before going live.
  • Posts will remain the copyright of the author, however, Momentum will retain an exclusive right to first posting for a period of no less than six months.
  • The successful blogger will invoice Momentum monthly for posts within the previous four week period.
  • The successful blogger’s contract can be terminated with two week’s notice.
  • These conditions are subject to change.

Party Time – a short story in the ‘Timesplash’ world

Posted October 17, 2014 by

Foresight: Timesplash #3 is out, but what even is a timesplash? This short story set in the world could help explain.

Party Time

by

Graham Storrs

You wouldn’t expect the world to change right there, in a house off Beverley Road. Beverley Road is the kind of place commuters pass through on the way to somewhere smarter. The grimy brick buildings that front the main road give way to side streets that should have been demolished long ago, to sagging terraces in which every other two-up-two-down has its windows boarded. Children and dogs roam those quiet streets in packs, bored and dirty.

But that’s where it happens.

“It’s a fucking brick, Grace.” Rylan Dickson giggles as if there is something funny about it, but he’s so stoned everything seems funny. His long, scrawny body is clothed in old jeans and an even older jumper. He looks like a gangly teenager, but he is actually twenty-three.

The brick sits inside a metal cage on the kitchen table. Around it there are coils of wire, heavy banks of capacitors, computer screens, black cables writhing away to a distribution board hacked into the electric main. A bright red dot shines from the side of the brick where it is illuminated by a low-powered laser. Beyond the brick, a photocell waits.

“Yeah, it’s the metaphor, right?” Grayson Faber explains. He is excited and a little wired. Shorter and stouter than his friend, he is dressed in the same kind of jumble-sale clothes. “Time is a stream, right? We lob the brick back into the stream and it makes a splash. Yeah?”

Rylan shakes his head. “You don’t have to convince me, man. I was the one who did the maths.”

Grayson gives a nervous laugh. “Yeah. It’s just… It’s like this is a really big deal Ry. We should have the press here. Television.”

“Bourgeois bullshit, Grace. That world is dead and gone, man. This is what’s real.” He waves a hand at the room. His gesture is exaggerated and sloppy. It takes in the dirty sink and the mouldy wallpaper as well as the piles of makeshift electronics.

There are footsteps in the hallway and the kitchen door opens just as Grayson is saying, “Right. Bourgeois bullshit.”

The newcomer gives a clenched fist salute and says, “Right on, man!”

Rylan giggles again and also gives the salute.

“So what’s up with you two geniuses today?” the newcomer wants to know. He is a well-fed, well-built youth of about seventeen, bare chested under an army greatcoat. He goes by the tag Major Tom and no-one knows his real name. Rylan picks up a bong from beside his chair and hands it over. Major Tom takes it and sets it down without using it. “Hey, you got the time machine going.”

He steps closer and peers into the mechanism. “Is that a brick in there?”

“It’s a metaphor,” Rylan says.

Tom grins at him. “Fucking geniuses. You’re all nuts.”

“We’re going to, you know, test it,” Grayson says, even more tense since Tom joined them. “It’s the first ever trial run.”

“Is it going to, like, blow up or something?” Tom asks, stepping back. “Cos I’m organising a real big party tonight, out at Orchard Park, and I need all my arms and legs.” The old Orchard Park Estate had been bulldozed by the city council, partly because it was a festering slum, partly because the police wanted to clear out all the drug factories and street gangs. Now it was a wasteland of rubble and ghosts, perfect for the loud, stimulant-fuelled, dance parties Major Tom was famous for.

“We’re going to lob that brick back in time, Tom,” Grayson says. “That’s a bit more important than your stupid party.”

Rylan is grinning but Tom doesn’t think it is funny. “It’s 2032, man. Biggest damn recession the world has ever seen. The oil’s run out, half the world’s at war, and the other half’s having a revolution. There’s nothing as important as a party right now!”

At which Grayson starts frowning. “Yeah, and they shut down the fucking university right in the middle of our PhDs.” He looks like he is going to become maudlin again, to start harping on his favourite subject.

“But we did it, right?” Rylan, says, trying to encourage him out of the mood. “We’ve got the proof of concept right here.”

But Grayson isn’t going to be cheered up easily. “Building lighting rigs and sound systems for this jerkoff!” he grumbles. “The two finest minds of our generation, sunk without a trace because the whole world’s turned to shit!”

“Who are you calling a jerkoff, Doctor Fucking Who?”

“OK,” Grayson raises his voice. “I’m going to throw the switch. You ready? Five, four, three…”

“Just throw the damned switch, Grace!”

“…two, one.”

The brick disappears. A buzzer sounds as the light from the laser is freed to cross the gap to the photocell. A timer starts displaying the passing seconds. They all gape in astonishment at the empty cage.

Then the buzzer drops in pitch. Major Tom shouts, “Whoa!” and Grayson looks round at him. Tom seems to be miles away, as if the room is as big as a football stadium. Then he snaps back. Rylan says something but he is speaking in a high-pitched squeak, his lips a blur. Ripples of distortion pass along the kitchen worktop and the oven door falls open, bounces closed, falls open again. The strangeness continues for a few more seconds, then stops.

The buzzer is still buzzing. The timer is still ticking. The three young men stare at the empty cage and at each other.

When the brick hits the bars of the cage and falls onto the metal plate beneath it, they all jump.

“Holy shit!” says Tom.

“It worked,” says Grayson.

“Wow, that was so far out,” says Rylan.

“I want that,” says Tom, looking from Grayson to Rylan and back. “Can you do that bigger? Like, maybe over an acre or two?”

“What?”

“That weird, trippy thing that just happened. Can you imagine that at one of my parties? Man! It was like acid, only it’s the world that’s tripping, not you! Just think about it. A hundred people – No. Five hundred people seeing that and feeling that all at the same time! No drugs. No hassle with the pigs. And the music! We could revive the Eighties, or the Nineties, or whenever all that house shit went down. This could be fucking enormous. We could all be living like kings!”

The silence is deep and incredulous. Rylan starts laughing and Grayson bursts into explanation. “We just sent a brick back in time, Tom. It wasn’t just some kind of show. That brick…” He opens the cage and pulls it out. It feels cold and is beaded with condensation. “If our calculations are right – and they must be, right? – that brick went back about five years.”

Major Tom looks at Grayson as if the young scientist just doesn’t get it. “All that shit – your calculations and all that – doesn’t matter. No, listen, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care where your bloody brick went. What matters is that weird thing that went on right here. That’s what’s going to make my parties – our parties – the only ones in the whole country that anyone will want to go to.”

Rylan is still laughing. Grayson turns sharply and shouts, “Shut up Ry. It’s getting on my nerves.”

“No, he’s right, Grace,” Rylan says. “It’s the lambda residual that matters. We chased it around the whiteboards and worried about the causal implications for all those hours, and what do you know? It’s all that really matters.”

“The residual? You mean what we just felt was an acausal backwash from the timesplash? You said it would be negligible. You said it would pass right through the present into the future.”

“Yeah, well, I was wrong. Obviously the future isn’t made yet, the Universe is self-assembling like Cahill and Klinger said. We always knew that was possible. When the residual travels downstream, the ‘backwash’ as you call it hits the present and has nowhere else to go, so it screws with causality.”

“What’s all this claptrap got to do with the price of fish?” Major Tom wants to know.

“It means we can make it bigger,” Rylan says, grinning maliciously. “We just need to lob bigger bricks farther back. The backwash is related to the size of the lob.” He looks at Grayson meaningfully and adds, “And the size of the splash.”

“No, no, no!” Grayson is alarmed now, and angry. He stands in front of Rylan, shaking his head. “We talked about this. We agreed. No paradoxes. Right? No-one gets hurt. We just run the trials. We write up the results and we take them down to Emory at Oxford like we agreed, right?”

“What’s he on about?”

Rylan gets to his feet. He is just an arm’s length away from Grayson. “Don’t worry, Tom. Grace is just being a bit slow to adapt to the changing circumstances.”

“What changing circumstances?”

“Wake up, Grace. Did you ever think there was really a chance Emory would let us in? Don’t you remember what he wrote to us when the uni was closing and we all but begged him to take the project?”

“He… He just asked for more evidence.”

“He talked bollocks, that’s what he did. He spouted Einstein at us, and quantum bloody gravity. It was obvious he didn’t understand the maths and, worse still, he didn’t understand the physics either!”

Grayson struggles to say something. He doesn’t want to let himself admit he has known all along this was a pipe dream.

“Who then?” he says at last, his thoughts surfacing. “If only the American’s weren’t in such a mess. A whole bunch of the physics department guys moved to CERN when Princeton went bust. We could try there.”

“You’re thinking of Sternberg, aren’t you? Just because he was the only one who was half-way polite to us. For God’s sake, Grace! The only heavyweight physicist who ever took this stuff seriously was dear old Prof. Baker, and no-one had taken him seriously for ten years or more. No wonder the poor old sod hanged himself when they shut us down. He knew there was nowhere else to go.”

“But it works!” Grayson holds up the brick, as if it is proof.

“Tell it to the Randi Foundation!”

For a moment, Grayson clenches the brick tight. For a moment, he is red-faced with rage. Major Tom looks from one to the other, wondering if Rylan will get hurt, and, if he does, how he can turn that to his own ends.

But Grayson suddenly sags. His arm drops and the brick falls to the floor with a thud. He turns away and walks back to the equipment on the kitchen table.

“The biggest fucking discovery since Special Relativity,” he says, and a long silence follows.

“So you can make it bigger, then?” Tom asks.

Grayson turns and glowers at Rylan, but he speaks to Tom. “Yes, we can make it bigger. Do you want to know how?”

“No man, I just -”

“Well we could send something massive back a long, long way. But the energy requirements would be enormous. The most cost effective way would be to send a person back, maybe a couple of decades – we’d need someone young – to shoot their own mother before they were born, create a paradox. Right?”

“You could send a person?”

“Oh yeah.” Grayson keeps looking at Rylan and it’s not clear now if he’s still talking to Tom. “Someone who wouldn’t mind walking up to their own mother and killing her in cold blood just to make a dance party go well.”

“But if you killed your own mother before you were born…”

“Yeah. Paradox. Like I said.” He waves a dismissive hand. He and Rylan had worked it all out. However big the splash, the time stream always heals itself, the paradox is smoothed over, fixed up. The present is unchanged by it. The past snaps back like elastic. But the backwash… The bigger the splash, the bigger the backwash. And that meant more ‘trippy’ experiences here in the present, more acausal weirdness for the kids to get off on.

“Would you do it?” he was definitely talking to his friend now, wanting to hear him say no.

“Fucking hell, yes!” Tom says. “I’d carve up the old bitch like a chicken. I’ve often thought about it. I’ll be your brick.”

Rylan grins and raises his hands in a gesture that says, “See? What can you do?”

Grayson looks away, unable to bear that grin. He feels tired. He pulls out a wooden chair and sits down.

The biggest discovery since Special Relativity, he is thinking, over and over. A guaranteed Nobel prize. If the world hadn’t gone to shit. If his partner wasn’t an arsehole. If he wasn’t so very sick of being hungry, and wearing cast-offs, and worrying about if he ever got ill or needed the dentist.

He looks up at Major Tom and his eyes are dull and heavy. “We’re going to need a bigger cage,” he says.

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Posted by

One of the greatest compliments that I ever received from a reader was the news that, the evening after finishing the book, she was idly contemplating hosting a barbecue for the weekend and began mentally listing those she would invite. Halfway through, she realised that she’d included several of the characters from the book itself. The fictional characters. In the short amount of time that it had taken her to read the story, they had become her friends. And I know exactly what she means (I even developed a sort of crush on a male character I wrote once, and the ending – especially pairing him up with someone else – was a little like being dumped). But every time I finish writing a book, I experience an oddly nauseous mix of elation and regret. It’s impossible to even contemplate a new project until I go through a period of recovery, of separation. I mope around the house, eat copious amounts of chocolate, and make complicated calculations regarding the sun and the yardarm and a glass of wine. Although experience tells me that turning my book hangover into a real one doesn’t help. At all.

But that’s also why I’ve enjoyed writing the Nell Forrest series so much. Starting each new book has been like re-visiting old friends, catching up with what’s been going on in their lives, accompanying them as they move forward. It’s a reunion of sorts. Sure, there’s always a few characters that are best avoided (and if they turned up at the door, you’d be better advised to ring the police than let them in), but what’s a murder mystery without some colour? Nell Forrest though – well, she’s the sort of person that I’d invite to a barbecue. And I knew I’d have to write her that way if she was going to stay around (Hercule Poirot is not the type of protagonist I’d be able to have in a series). As both a reader and a writer, I like to connect. But Nell is more than a connection – she’s a friend. I might not have her phone number but I know where she lives. She’d know when to give me space if she knew I was moping, or drop in with buckets of chocolate (we’d probably even go retro and have a fondue, with strawberries and bananas and marshmallows), or help me with the sun/yardarm calculations and then say ‘what the hell, let’s open the bottle regardless – in fact make it champagne!’ Damn, I miss her.

Cover Reveal – Foresight: Timesplash 3 by Graham Storrs

Posted October 8, 2014 by

Jay and Sandra are back—fighting to save a world on the edge of destruction.

In the middle of a bizarre global catastrophe that looks suspiciously like the mother of all timesplashes, Sandra Malone discovers that the corporation she works for is spying on her. To find out why, she sets off to track down the culprits. What she discovers catapults Sandra, her daughter, and everyone around her into a deadly struggle to prevent a disaster.

Now working in European Military Intelligence in Berlin, Jay Kennedy begins to suspect that the shock that hit the world was something more sinister and dangerous than even a timesplash. In the midst of the chaos that has engulfed the world, Jay learns that Sandra is in danger and that their daughter has gone after her. This turn of events threatens to distract him from solving a puzzle on which the fate of the whole world might hang.

With time running out, Jay is torn between the possibility of losing Sandra, and the desperate need to stop a new kind of time-travel technology that could destroy the planet.

Foresight comes out on October 9 in all good ebook retailers!

Cover Reveal: Forbidden Fruit by Ilsa Evans

Posted October 1, 2014 by

This time it’s personal…

The last thing Nell Forrest expected when she tried to plant a tree was to unearth the skeletal remains of a former resident. Now her new backyard is swarming with police, there’s a television news crew camped next door, and once again she is smack in the middle of a murder investigation. And the timing is dreadful. Two of Nell’s daughters are about to give birth and she is surrounded by new in-laws with agendas of their own.

But it soon becomes clear that this time the investigation is personal – so personal that enquiries bring her long-estranged father back into the family fold, and the answers shed some very uncomfortable light about the proclivities of her parents when they were young. Who would have thought that the little country town of Majic had ever been such a swinging place to live?

FORBIDDEN FRUIT goes on sale October 9, and is available for preorder now.

Using Scrivener to Work Smarter

Posted by

Mae Archer joins us to enthuse about writing program ‘Scrivener’

I love technology and every time I hear about a new tool that I might use as an author I investigate. Usually my process is that I read about it, ignore it, see it somewhere up to ten times, try it, hate it, try it, curse it, try again, get a glimmer of understanding and I keep repeating the process until I get the hang of it and it’s not a drama.

I originally heard about Scrivener about three years ago when an author talked about her writing process. I noted it, but didn’t do anything about it. Then I kept seeing lots of people talking about it over the next year or so. Eventually I got a trial, tried playing around with it, but didn’t buy the package. A year later I bought it, ignored it for six months, tried using it and eventually figured it out.

I’ve found that Scrivener has really helped my writing process. I usually write down the bones in a crappy draft (for the record that’s what I actually name the file) where I write in fragments. Once my draft is complete and has something vaguely resembling a beginning, a middle and an end I’ve usually figured out the story, the characters, and the plot, and then I go back to the beginning and start again producing something that is a readable manuscript.

Scrivener allows me to write in fragments that I can move around as needed. I can also create synopsis cards so that I know what is in each scene. There is also a label feature and I’ve used this to identify my character points of view and use the status drop down menu to keep track of how I’m progressing with my scene.

While working on Hollywood Dreams I wanted the novel to be equally divided between Tom and Maree’s point of view and so I labelled them pink and blue and was able to see at a glance how I was going.

It also allowed me to keep track of my research by importing websites into Scrivener that I can then refer to even when I’m offline. Hollywood Dreams is set in Los Angeles against the backdrop of the movie-making business so there was a lot of research I had to do.

Files-Import-Web Page

And I can create character sketches and collate information about the character, as well as import a photo.

 

I also periodically back up by compiling my manuscript into a word document that I then save in various versions.

I’m still in the learning phase with Scrivener. It has many more features and I’m slowly adding to my repertoire. I’ve found that using Scrivener has meant that I work smarter and can produce at a quicker pace than before because it provides me with the tools to organise everything I need.

So if like me you’re hesitant about embracing new technology, just dive in and slowly learn as you go. You don’t need to be an expert to start writing with Scrivener. You learn what you need as you need it.

Inside Clarion West: The most fun you can have locked in a room with writers

Posted September 29, 2014 by

 Marlee Jane Ward managed to snap up one of the high desirable and competitive residences at Clarion West Writers Workshop. She was also kind enough to write us a blog post about what the hell it was like.

I’m not sure what you did over the dreary months of the Australian winter this year, but me? I got to skip it. Instead, I went half-way around the world to summertime Seattle, to learn from some of the finest names that SF/F has to offer, and live in a giant house with some of the genres most talented up-and-comers. Oh yeah, and a chef cooked our meals – out of everything, people seem to get the most excited about this. Sounds like some kind of really nerdy reality TV show, right? It’s not. It’s Clarion West.

Editor’s idea of Clarion West

The Clarion West Writers Workshop is a pressure-cooker of a course that has run every year since 1984 and seen some of the best names in SF/F through it’s doors. It’s based in Seattle and runs over six weeks in the US summer months. The organisation takes over a sorority house (thankfully free of sorority girls, though their ghosts are ever-present) and jams eighteen emerging writers in together to live, write, and support each other through the madness. Students write a short story each week and workshop seventeen others, as well as attend six of the finest parties the Seattle SF/F scene has to offer. Each week workshops are led by a different author from the field.

Coming up with airfare, course fees and spending money, wrangling six weeks off work, getting my shit together and totally mixing my life around in preparation in only three months is a tale full of wacky adventures better told another day. Suffice to say, I showed up at the airport in late June with a bag and absolutely no idea what to expect. My advice? Arrive early, delirious with lack of sleep from a far-flung country and timezone, just to enhance the madcap experience. I got to enjoy a few days of getting to know my classmates before the real madness began.

James Patrick Kelly zoomed in on the first day with wit and warmth. He opened us up, made us revelatory and raw with exercises designed to pull out our emotions and quick-and-drity flash pieces to get us in the mood for words.  In week two, Kij Johnson led us through our first round of full-length stories with utterly precise deliberation, urging us to avoid drabness and to use the emotional vulnerability that we’d unlocked in the first week (she also kicked all of our asses at various wrasslin’ games – don’t get on the wrong side of Kij!) Ian Mcdonald told us to say ‘yes’ to things: ideas, new forms of sorytelling, getting up stupid early in the morning to play improv games in the loungeroom after breakfast. In week four Hiromi Goto shared her perspective on narrative through a focus on race, gender and sexuality and told us a bedtime story that I, for one, will never forget.  Charlie Jane Anders showed a singular devotion to reading all of our stuff, from submission pieces to our most recent stories and came into our one-on-one meetings armed with a knowledge of where we were heading, as writers. She also brought a fantastic insight into the trends and the market gleaned from years as the managing editor of io9.com. Our final instructor, John Crowley was a gruff master of words who shared his perspectives on Speculative fiction gleaned from a long career in the genre.

My instructors taught me a great deal, but I was surprised at how much I learned from my classmates. Seventeen of the most wonderful folk who’ve ever put pen to paper or touched fingertip to keyboard, I feel just indescribably lucky that I got the chance to meet them, and then live with them for forty-two mad, exhausting, wondrous days. From all corners of the US, all over Canada, from Portugal, Nigeria and little old Antipodean me…

We were an eclectic mix of people and I can honestly say I adored every last one of them for their own special reasons. Clarion West, for me, wasn’t just about the writing, it was about the people, too.  Some of my best memories are late-night card games, Kraken rum and spilling all my secrets, epic beer-pong tournaments, early-morning-first-awake deep confessions, raiding the fridges for leftovers at 2am, cuddle parties on the couches before the sun came up, half-price sushi on the Ave, late nights on the balcony, our quick-n-dirty roadtrip to Mt Rainier, the fake-moustache party on our last day.  Everything I gained in regards to my fiction, I took away in equal measure, personally.

Put simply, I learned a lot and I had a lot of fucking fun.

Before Clarion I was busting out a short story every couple of months and idly tapping out a few terrible novels here and there (okay, a few terrible beginnings of novels), so naturally, I worried I wouldn’t be up on the creative level, you know? And I’d be expected to slam a short story every week? I brought with me a few scribbled ideas, most consisted of a sentence or two; one was three words. Not to fret: being in such a ripe environment revealed in me a creative well I wasn’t aware existed. I was inspired by my instructors to extend myself further than I ever had before.

Even more of a push was reading stories from my classmates daily that made me want to be a better writer, a better person, just fucking better. I didn’t know I had it in me, and I marvelled to learn I did, that I could accomplish so much more than I thought I was capable of. I have never been surrounded by so much buzzing creativity, been engulfed in such a well of motivation. I’ll never forget what that felt like and I’ll carry it with me forever.

Clarion West was a singular experience. I’m well aware that I’ll never be in a situation like it again. I was spoiled, we were all spoiled. I’m so grateful and honoured I got to be a part of it, so thankful to the board and the organisers, the instructors and my fellow students for giving me that opportunity. And you know what? Clarion runs yearly, so you could have it too. Applications open soon, and there’s a stellar lineup next year. Polish up your best shorts, babes, and get ready to apply.

Read more from Marlee at her website. Follower her on Twitter @marleejaneward

Dragon spotting: 101

Posted September 23, 2014 by

Hey, check out that thing in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a bird disguised as a plane?

The wisest of all animals.

Nope. That, my friend, is a dragon.

Hope you’ve got a Master Ball with you.

Congratulations! You are reading the only definitive guide to telling good dragons from bad, at least within the tight moral guidelines we as a species has established to keep humanity’s baser instincts in check.

I bet she can hear like Daredevil

Here we go…

FIVE EASY STEPS TO TELLING GOOD DRAGONS FROM BAD

(At least within the tight moral guidelines we as a species has established to keep humanity’s baser instincts in check)

Shape

This may seem like a pretty big judgement call to start with but it’s probably the first thing you’ll notice from far away. As every person who’s met a dragon knows, the further you can distinguish between the Murder Beasts from the Wish Granters the better off you, and your rustic village, will be.

 

 Pro Tip: The above shape is unfriendly.

Firstly, do they conform to the Disney standard?

 

 Is it, for example, infuriatingly cute?

This means a generally ovular shape to their proportions. Do they seem to be able to frolic through the clouds or are they lithe and streamlined, like an arrow or missile?

 

 Or something even more phallic?!

If your dragon looks like it would make a pleasant bouncy-castle for children in a classical English summer, congratulations – it’s probably friendly!

 Would make a fine addition to any children’s playground.

If it looks like a streak of Death tearing the sky – congratulations! You’ve identified what will make you a corpse from far enough away you can start to regret you never said “I love you” to that person you love.

 

 Probably not the best addition to a children’s playground.

Colour

Not in a racist way…although…

Another quick identifier for the long distance dragon spotter is colour. Is it a warmer colour, perhaps a lime green, sky blue or even lavender? Does the colouring remind you of hugs, freshly baked bread or wriggling puppies all in a pile of freshly mown grass?

 

Remember that time your mum made you pie?

It’s probably friendly so go and say hi!

But maybe your dragon is a darker colour. Perhaps an ash-grey, rusty-blood red or hole-in-reality black?

 

 Remember that time your dreams turned to dust in your mouth?

Does the colouring remind you of waking up from a nightmare in an unfamiliar room, that moment you start to trip down the stairs or the whispers of the Old One’s madness being unleashed on an unsuspecting world?

It’s probably not friendly, you should have run when you had the chance! Too late now, it’s all…too late.

Language

You approach the sky-blue dragon with lavender spots cautiously – it’s still a wild animal you fool – When it speaks to you! (In English probably). Either through evolution of similar vocal cords so as to be able to help human children achieve their dreams or telepathy, your dragon is probably a new best friend and will be able to help with your maths homework, herd sheep or destroy the rule of the evil Count that killed your family and left you an orphan.

 Hey kid, wanna murder some bullies?

Or, as you’re fleeing the coming Death, does your dragon howl and scream as though to stop your heart and warn the peoples of the earth that what they thought to be myth is not only real, but angry that while it slept the Plague that is Man spread to all corners of the globe it once controlled – and will again?

 

Well, the good news is your orphan days are over.

Smell

Thee who smelt it, dealt it!

Does your dragon smell of sun-baked hair and hay? Perhaps like the pony you always wanted? Go on, get on that dragon and ride it!

My hair is bubble-gum scented, to attract children.

Does your dragon smell of Europe in the 16th Century, when the Four Horsemen rode out of the heavens and across the land, bring only sadness and lonely death? Perhaps it smells like the lair of a predator, as if a shark and a bear had a child which knows only pain? Or a thousand, billion snakes all tied together and thrown at your back, their hissing breath on your neck confirming that there is no God? If so, your inevitable end is here.

 I smell of withered hopes. To attract children.

Riding Your Dragon

Do you ride on your dragons back?

Maybe his sweet little tummykins?

Or for a short, too short, time with its claws clutched around your now dying body and with a last glimpse you see your little sister’s doll wedged between its knife-like teeth knowing that everyone you know and love are either dead, or will be joining you in the afterlife so very, very soon?

 Blah, blah, fire, blah, blah, death.

Congratulations! You have reached the end of this guide. You are either the hero of this story or dead.

Space Opera and why YOU are reading it!

Posted September 18, 2014 by

Here’s something you weren’t expecting to read today – I Love Space Opera! I have ever since I was grown from a crystal in the orbital laboratory of Dr Klien Purnicious.

 

To make your own!

Jokes, was NOT grown in lab in space (because I’m a human) BUT I do love me some space opera. Let me inform you, dear reader, of why space opera should be in your eyeballs more than it already is. If it’s already in your eyeballs 100% of the time – Congratulations!

You, nerd, may rest for this article.

Romance and Drama

So of course you like the minute of human drama and romance because, who doesn’t? Seriously, give me their names. Sure maybe you don’t appreciate The Bold and The Beautiful but you like characters and plot points and twists and…like…Story 101. We’re not even going to argue about this.

 

Hush that sweet brain of yours.

So imagine the minutiae of human drama and romance spread on a galactic scale! It’s an exciting idea that’s been explored in space opera ever since a person looked to the stars and said “Let’s put people in that”. We’re talking the basis of religion here. The Greeks, Romans, everyone knew that that’s where the magic was. That’s where Gods descended from, that’s where they returned and that, my friends, is space opera.

 

Ok, I may be flinging the metaphorical bone a little high here but it’s not an entirely stupid point.

Modern space opera continues the tradition but instead of magic bringing them down here, we’ve got the technology to take us to them. Them in this case is stars and planets – not Gods.

It’s not like we have stories about missions to the God of War.

 

Ahem…

Or to the King of the Gods.

Nailed this one pretty hard, amirite?

But free from the Earth the romance and drama of human existence can expand to fill the cosmos itself! It’s pretty cool, you can admit it.

Still not cool enough for you? How about I put it in terms you can relate to…

Gritty

That’s right, space operas are often so good because they are a gritty reboot of earth operas! Not literally operas per say…

 

…although…

 

You put a crew of people in a submarine then suddenly – Emergency! Oh noes! How do they escape? Who was responsible? Is it Red October or U-571 rules?

 

Das Boot? Damn it!

Now, you put them on a spaceship headed to a new colony, or they’re testing a new dimension-jump-warp-accelerator and suddenly BAAM! – Emergency!

EEEmergencYYYYYYY!!!

In the first instance the worst thing that happens is drowning, maybe some light radiation poisoning followed by drowning.

But in space? Where no-one can hear you scream? You can break the speed of light, go through a black hole where you and the crew a spegettified and then come out the other side as a mix of everyone that was on board. No one died, but there’s something…new on board. After defeating the…being…you turn the ship around but don’t have enough plasma-cooling-dilithumm-crystals to go back through the black hole and when you investigate the nearest source it turns out to be an exact duplicate of YOUR ship!

Really? Das Boot rules again?!?

You can see where this is going. Submarine? Drowning. Spaceship? Exploration of the human condition, our place in the universe, our fears, monsters and daemons AND drowning!

Really?!? I thought for sure the drowning would get you hooked. Let’s try…

Genre Mashing

Ahh, the great Mash of ’09, such a great summer. We were young and foolish back them. Why I remember when we combined pop rocks and chocolate in our McFlurry. Those were the days – the terrible, cramp filled days.

 

It both created, then sealed, stomach ulcers.

But not all mashing is a bad idea. Potatoes do well with a bit of mashing, as does…

 

She only wants you for your brains, man.

Fiction!

What if you combine space and the wild west?

 

Space opera!

What if you combine space and romance!?

 

Space opera!

Or even space and war?!?!

 

Space opera!

Long story short, put something in space and it’s just better. As well as being space opera.

And that, sweet summer child, is why you should read Space opera.

 Love space opera? Try the bestselling Aurora series by Amanda Bridgeman! Aurora: Darwin is 99c for a limited time only!

Agent Superman: Mashing thrillers and superheroes

Posted September 17, 2014 by

Fun question, if thriller novels contained superheroes, which superhero would play which character?

Your time starts now…

Did you get them all? You didn’t, too bad. Here is my definitive* list of the answers!

*not even slightly definitive. Like, not even a little bit.

James Bond

Women want him, men want to be him. We’re starting with the greatest secret agent in the known, unknown and theoretically impossible Universes. That’s right, Bond. James Bond. 007, licence to kill! Also licensed for invisible cars and space shuttles.

It got a little silly

With his drinking, womanising and preference for gambling over, for example, shooting the bad guy across the poker table, James Bond is the debonair creation of Ian Fleming – who was himself a master spy with Christopher Lee in WWII.

Many spies have many eyes.

So which superhero could fill these requirements and play the perfect Bond?

Gambit

mon cheri?

Remy Etienne LeBeau, stolen from the hospital where he was born and raised by The Thieves Guild, would make the perfect Bond. With a preference to drinking, gambling and ladies this cajun-voiced rogue would be the ultimate in James’. Of course, he’d get more done because he’d kill the bad guy sitting across the poker table, so…yeah. A better James Bond? 

A better reason to cry tears of blood.

 

Dirk Pitt

Dirk Pitt is the invention of Clive Cussler, and he is kind of like a James Bond who is obsessed with things under the water. He drives antique cars, shoots guns, dates sexy ladies, has smouldering green eyes, and works for NUMA, the National Underwater and Marine Agency. Which means there’s only one possible option for the super hero who best represents him:

Aquaman

 

He is an ocean based superhero, ’nuff said.

Sherlock Holmes

The good doctor doesn’t approve.

Thanks to Conan-Doyle the human race has the perfect detective to feel stupid next to. Yes, he has a few bad habits, the morphine addiction and superiority complex to name a few, but what kind of sleuth would he be if he didn’t have a  few distinguishing traits. So, which super person could play the eponymous hero?

Tony Stark

Boom!

Before you all yell at your internet because the same actor has portrayed both and it seems like I’m being lazy let me remind you of two things;

1) I can’t hear you through your computer screen so you’re only embarrassing yourself.

Pictured: Doesn’t count.

2) I don’t count Robert Downy Jr. as Sherlock Holmes because the first movie was AWFUL and I didn’t see the second one because the first movie was awful!

He’s constantly surprised the mask doesn’t answer back because drunk.

Tony Stark has a huge drinking problem in the comics, Tony Stark has a huge superiority complex and finally, who else could be Sherlock Holmes? Hmm? Oh, not so tough now.

Captain Shane Michael Schofield

Call sign ‘Scarecrow’. Some of the best ‘manventures’ I’ve ever read and someone you do not want to get angry. With his elite military training he’s saved the President, he’s defeated an army of thieves and he has kicked the teeth in of every opponent he’s ever had. Just, total boss. So, which super hero could try and compete at his level?

Nick Fury 

Ok, so this one you can yell at your internet. Yes, Nick Fury isn’t technically a super hero. He doesn’t have any mutant powers, he can be killed and he has to wear an eye-patch.

Point moi, Internet!

JUST LIKE SCARECROW! (Except Scarecrow has to wear anti-flash glasses but c’mon!)

Please, continue to argue.

A superb leader, brilliant tactician and strong of heart Nick Fury would be the perfect super hero to play Scarecrow in the upcoming film series (PLEASE BE A FILM SERIES BEFORE I DIE!)

Alex Hunter

A.K.A. ‘The Arcadian’, Alex Hunter was your everyday tall, strong, good looking solider. But after qualifying for the GENESIS program Alex became…something else. While struggling to control his Other, Alex continues to lead his team into some of the strangest missions too secret to tell you here (‘coz available here). But when he gets angry, well lets just say that he’s not such a nice guy…

HULK

Pictured: Hulk making promises he can deliver on.

BECAUSE OBVIOUS! HULK SMASH BEING ALEX HUNTER!

Jason Bourne

The man without an identity, the man who needed to discover who, and what, he was. The mystery, the enigma, the internationally hunted Jason Bourne.

Can’t read German, think they’re looking for a flatmate?

Created by Robert Ludlum, Bourne is the next-gen Bond. He’s smarter, faster and far sneakier than Bond has ever been – possibly because he doesn’t introduce himself to EVERYONE by his real name.

Who could be him?

Nightcrawler

Jason? Is that you?

With the ability to teleport, adhesive hand and feet and super agility Nightcrawler as Bourne would explain how he can evade Interpol forever, appear in the very place he needs to be and at the right time. Also, would pay to see Matt Damon in indigo face paint praying in an abandoned church.

I…I can’t tell you why.

So there it is. If you can think of a better thriller/superhero match up let me know in the comments.

I bet you a lump of adamantium you can’t…

Path to Publication V: The big day

Posted September 16, 2014 by

 

No, you idiots, I’m already married.

I typed this on the evening after the release of my first novel, The Foundation. But to avoid spamming my social media to death with ‘book stuff’, I let it stew for a few days prior to posting.

This is the last of the Path to Publication posts. In this series, I’ve shared with you the pitch and contract, dealing with the big issues, the edits, and the cover and marketing. Each stage is a giant anvil upon which your manuscript is hammered into a book able to be sold.

This edition is a little different: a look at what happens when the lights go on and the show begins.

The countdown

With everything in the bag and the book off to production, I found the lull between working hard to finish the book and getting it to market tricky. By this point the author is pretty much off the clock on the book itself, though there’s plenty of marketing to do.

I found this part the hardest of all, which is quite surprising given my fingertips are now bloody stumps from all the keyboard pounding and my mind is some strange, rancid ooze from too much hard thinking.

I fulfilled my side of the marketing and enjoyed having a social life again, but the most overwhelming feelings after all this hard work were, in order:

  • I WANT TO WRITE! WRITE LOTS! MORE! MORE! MORE EXPLOSIONS!
  • I’M ACTUALLY GOING TO BE A PUBLISHED AUTHOR?
  • I *AM* A PUBLISHED AUTHOR!
  • THOSE FOOLS AT MOMENTUM!

By the time I reached the last few days prior to launch, I just wanted to hitch a ride with the Doc and Marty McFly and get there, but the only guy I know of with a DeLorean is Matthew Reilly, who might resent me pinching it.

The launch

Rockets are cool.

But hey, it launched! So what actually happened on the day my first book comes out?

  • Yes, I still went to work.
  • No, I didn’t get as much done as I usually do.
  • Yes, it felt as amazing as I thought it would.
  • No, I didn’t crawl under my bed and hide.
  • Yes, the back slapping and congratulations of friends and colleagues felt good.
  • No, a marching band and dancing girls didn’t signify the release.
  • Yes, there was some anxiety of the ‘what if everyone HATES it’ variety.
  • No, I didn’t refresh madly for the first review to appear.
  • Yes, I did go out for dinner and have a few drinks to celebrate.
  • No, I didn’t go on a 48 hour bender on my publisher’s tab.
  • Yes, I did thank the great people at Momentum for their hard work.
  • No, I didn’t read it again. It’ll be a few months before I do that.

And, like that, The Foundation was amongst the millions of other books jostling for its place on the mountain. I was hoping it’d reach the peak, to hang out with Dan Brown and his supermodels, but if nothing else that it’d have a nice spot on the side.

But behold! It shot to the top of the Amazon Australia Political Fiction lists to claim #1 spot for a while.

Take that John Grisham! Eat my dust Ayn Rand! Though I’m not sure it’ll last, it was a nice pat on the shoulder for a nervous first timer.

The first review

But wait! There was more unexpected good news! My first review!

Although, technically, my first review was from the incredible John Birmingham, that was pre-release.

The honour of the first review post-release, at least as far as I’m aware, goes to ReadingKills.com. Head over there. It’s a great review.

I must admit, when I saw it, I felt nervous clicking on the link. But I was quite honestly chuffed with the result. My favourite lines?

‘…a roaring political thriller that is unnerving in its description of how the world would go to war.’

‘This is a jet-setting, alarming, bang-pow-kaboom read full of metaphorical and literal bloodshed, political machinations you’ll hope desperately will never become reality, and late-night giant-popcorn-wielding funsies.’

I’m sure the snarky one-star Amazon reviews are coming, but for now I’ve got a nice little protective bubble going on. Thanks ReadingKills!

The sign off

So we’ve come to the end of the path to publication. The book is done, readers are… reading and my wife is telling me we’ll be late for dinner.

But wait! There’s one last lesson, you (probably don’t) scream! Okay:

Lesson 10: Don’t let fear of failure stand in the way of your dreams. I’ve wanted this since I was young, but it was always too hard, not good enough, wouldn’t be liked and not a priority. It will not stop me anymore.

Thanks to those of you who have joined me on this journey. I’ve had some great feedback on these posts from other authors – established and aspiring – and from some readers who enjoyed being a fly on the wall to see how a book reaches market.

I hope those of you who enjoyed the series might consider purchasing The Foundation, so I get to keep doing this and calling it work. If you do, then double thanks, and I hope you enjoy the book. Let me know what you think.

I’d love to hear from you on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or the web.

In the meantime, I’m mashing out the sequel.

Stay tuned.

Weekend Bargain Reads

Posted September 12, 2014 by

At Momentum, the only thing we like more than the working week, is having a weekend off to get excited about the next working week. So in our infinite largesse, we’ve given you some AMAZING free and cheap-as-free books, available at their current prices for limited times only, to read over the weekend.

When sensible schoolteacher Ella Lucas rides into her home town on a Harley and seduces the resident football hero, Jake Prince, she figures she can be forgiven and move on. After all, she’s just buried her mother. Winner of the ARRA 2013 Favourite Contemporary Fiction Award.  Finalist in Romance Writers of Australia Ruby (Romantic Book of the Year) Award 2014.

GET IT FOR FREE!

A brutal massacre. A terrifying madman. Get it FREE.

 

 

 

To celebrate the release of AURORA: MERIDIAN, we’ve discounted AURORA: DARWIN to $0.99 and AURORA: PEGASUS to $2.99.

Have a great weekend, everyone!