Category Archives: Iron Admiral

Fun with Photos

One of my Facebook friends, who writes under the name of Kira Morgana, posted a fun photo on her timeline – a cat sitting on one of her books. “Wow”, I thought. (As you do). “I wonder how she did that?”

Photofunia, that’s how.

What can I say? It’s a damp Saturday morning and my eyes lit up. I’m like a kiddy in a sweet shop, all agog. Look at what you can do!

"Morgan's Choice" in the news

“Morgan’s Choice” in the news

The Iron Admiral - Conspiracy and Deception

“The Iron Admiral” – Conspiracy and Deception

 

'Starheart" at the museum

“Starheart” at the museum

 

The Demon's Eye poster

“The Demon’s Eye” up on a wall

You’re welcome 🙂

Advertisements

Teaser Tuesday – The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy #sfrgtt

Teaser Tuesday banner

This week I’m going to post a snippet from one of my earliest books, The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy. The book’s free pretty much everywhere.

If you’re on Facebook, why not join us in the Scifi Romance Group? Keep up with what’s happening, have some fun.

Cover of The Iron Admiral: ConspiracyThe Iron Admiral: Conspiracy

The galaxy teeters on the brink of inter-species war

Accused of an atrocity, ex-Admiral Chaka Saahren goes undercover to clear his name. Systems Engineer Allysha Marten, takes one last job to rid her of debts and her cheating husband. On Tisyphor, deadly secrets about the past explode, as Allysha and the undercover agent scramble to prevent the coming holocaust. When the ex-Admiral’s identity is revealed, she must come to terms with her feelings for a man she holds responsible for the death of innocent civilians, including her father. In a race against time, Saahren must convince Allysha to set aside her conflicted emotions and trust a man she barely knows to help him prevent the coming conflagration.

FREE ebook everywhere

In this scene, Allysha and Saahren are together in a secret garden, where they’ve found a commonly grown fruit tree. The question is – how to get at the fruit.

***************************

She eyed the fruit hanging well over her head and his. “How do we get them down?”

“I’ll help you get into the tree and I’ll catch the fruit when you throw it down.”

He made a stirrup with his hands. “Here. I’ll hoist you up to that first branch.”

Balancing herself with her fingers resting lightly on his shoulders, she put her foot into his hands and pushed down. She slipped sideways. “I don’t think this is going to work.” She leant into him and started to giggle.

The scent of her invaded his nostrils; her breast pushed against his chest and set his pulse racing. Fruit. Think about fruit. He dropped his hands and straightened up. “I think you’d better turn around.”

“Okay. How’s that?” She stood next to him on one foot, one hand on his shoulder as he made a stirrup again, her foot grasped between his hands. She shoved down, trying to use his hands as a step but she ended up staggering against him, giggling helplessly. “That’s not going to work, either.”

He sighed and knelt down next to her, leaning forward a little to hide his erection. “Sit on my shoulders.”

She hesitated. “Are you sure? It won’t be a strain for you?”

“There’s not much of you. It won’t be a strain.” And at least he wouldn’t be in such intimate contact with her.

She swung a leg around his neck and settled herself down, hooking her knees under his arms. He stood, muscles bunching under the weight. “Okay?”

“Yes. You?”

“Fine.” He wished he was. He could smell her, female and alluring, his hands on her smooth skin, her parted legs around his neck. “Climb into the tree.” Please.

She grasped the branch and scrambled onto it, lifting herself with a foot on his shoulder. She turned around awkwardly and sat on the branch looking down at him.

“Go for the deep orange ones. Throw them down to me.” He raised his hands, ready to catch.

She reached up, wrenched the nearest off and tossed it to him. The over-ripe fruit splattered as it hit his hands.

“That’s one we won’t be eating.” He shook the sticky fragments away. “Do it gently or you’ll have to suck the fruit off my fingers.”

She chuckled. “Interesting thought.”

Far too interesting. He imagined her lips around his finger, her tongue… Concentrate, Saahren.

*****************************

Don’t forget to check out what else may be out there. On Twitter, use #sfrgtt

 

The aliens in ‘Crisis at Validor’ #amwriting

By now you all know I’m in the final stages of writing a new Ptorix Empire book. The title is Crisis at Validor and it features my decidedly non-humanoid alien species, the Ptorix. Readers will learn more about them in this book, but there will also be another, very different, alien species.

Way back when this book was little more than a bunny hopping around in my head I’d intended to write a story which included an ancient temple and something like a serpent, only smart. The berzhani have evolved since then. A lot of people don’t like snakes and while I don’t really understand the phobia, I know it’s real for many people. I’d discarded the idea of calling them dragons because this is not a fantasy and if people have preconceived notions about snakes, they have them about dragons, too.

Fire breathing, wicked, princess-eating, flying, telepathic, ridden by people, shape-shifters.

None of the above.

So about half way through the writing, I took some time off to go through pictures of serpents, serpent temples, dragons and the like, looking for visual inspiration. And I came across Jim Nelson’s fabulous work, particularly the top dragon on this page.

So the berzhani are rather like snakes inj some respects (sinuous and smooth) but they are not snakes. In Crisis at Validor the berzhani live in caves on an island that is an extinct volcano. That island has become an object of contention between the Ptorix and the humans of Validor. The planet has two continents, and each species inhabits one. They don’t mix. But neither owns Bherzan Island.

The picture top left is a reasonable representation of a berzhan. (It’s actually a statue of a Chinese dragon, but you get the idea.)

What you need to know about the berzhani before you read the book is they are very, very smart, with their own skills. Like whales and dolphins, they don’t need technology and they don’t want to rule the world. They just want to be left alone. But they have a big part to play in Validor’s story whether they like it or not.

Here’s a first cut of the blurb.

Crisis at Validor

Newly-promoted Captain Brett Butcher is about to achieve his life-long ambition to command a battle cruiser. But before he takes up his new posting, he goes home on leave, hoping to perhaps catch a glimpse of his first love, the unattainable Lady Tarlyn.

When the queen is assassinated in a terrorist attack, Tarlyn’s life is thrown into turmoil when she, too, becomes a target. The last person she expects to rescue her is her childhood sweetheart, Brett Butcher.

As Validor’s Ptorix and human populations face off over a group of islands neither owns, the calls for war grow louder. Torn between love, duty and ambition, Butcher and Tarlyn struggle to prevent an inter-species conflict, while the ember of love that has smouldered for so long bursts into flame. But with planetary peace at stake, both will be forced to make a choice; love or duty.

Coming soon to an e-store near you.

PS. For those who know the Iron Admiral books, Butcher was Grand Admiral Saahren’s adjutant. And we also have a cameo appearance from Admiral Ulric Hudson of Starheart.

On the art of writing what you know

Stars in Orion's beltI guess you guys all know I write mainly space opera. So you might be forgiven for raising an incredulous eyebrow (maybe even two) when I talk about writing what I know. And sure, I take out the space opera tool kit for the space bits. FTL travel, artificial gravity, shields to divert radiation (and attacks) etc etc. But not everything happens out there in the wide black. I usually have some goings-on planetside. And the WIP is no exception.

Senior Commander Thad Butcher was Grand Admiral Saahren’s adjutant in the Iron Admiral series, but this time, he’s getting his own story. Newly promoted to captain after the events chronicled in the Iron Admiral, he’s gone home to Validor for a brief holiday before he takes up his new command – a battle cruiser. It’s a boyhood dream come true. But he arrives on planet just in time to become embroiled in an attack on the Ruling family, where he’s reunited with Tarlyn, who had been the unattainable love of his life before he left Validor, aged seventeen, to attend the Fleet Academy.

I’ve had a vague plot floating in my head for several years now, but distilling that ephemeral essence into a working story takes time. Although we’ll get back up into space later down the track, at the moment Thad and Tarlyn are on a boat, heading for a meeting with the Ptorix.

And this gives the opportunity to write what I know.

Several months ago I was privileged to go on a three-day sail in the Whitsunday Islands off Queensland. It was a memorable experience, and one of those appears in the WIP. Thad and Tarlyn take a boat out of a bay between two headlands. That’s based on my experience when we sailed through the Solway Passage, with its churning waters and whirlpools, all overlooked by a stormy sky and the towering red cliffs of a distant island. My scene isn’t exactly the same, but I’ve drawn on that journey to lend some colour.IMG_8524_HDR

But that’s not the end of the sea adventure, and here I dragged out another recent experience, when I went to horizontal Falls two years ago (gosh, is that really so long ago)? I wrote about it here. I’ll be using that image, of a tide roaring through a narrow gap, in another exciting scene.

See? You can write what you know, using places not too many people on this planet have seen.

Falls approaching gap

 

Stay tuned, everybody. It should be a fun read, my usual combination of action, with a slurp of romance. No I haven’t thought of a name yet.

You can find out more about my Ptorix Empire books here.

At last there’s a work-in-progress

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

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

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

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

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

If you’re a writer, nothing is ever wasted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See what I mean? Nothing is ever wasted.

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

Let’s talk about admirals

I have a penchant for men in uniform, the more brass the better – provided, of course, the body in the uniform matches my expectations. I know admirals are usually older guys – in our society, anyway – and I haven’t changed that. But in my science fiction romances, guys in their forties will still have the bodies of twenty-year-olds. Like Bollywood heart-throb Akshay Kumar, who fits very nicely with my mental concept of Admiral Chaka Saahren, the Iron Admiral.

And this is the gentleman on the cover of ‘Morgan’s Choice’, Admiral Ashkar Ravindra.Picture of Ravindra

They’re both hunks, but they’re very, very different men. Saahren is a farmer’s son who was beaten up and left to die during an uprising on his home planet. He was lucky; a visiting doctor patched up the broken bones and his shattered face, then gave him a home until he joined the Star Fleet Academy, where he rose through the ranks on sheer ability. He never had much time for women and even though his fame has spread, he still avoids emotional entanglements. He has his reasons.

Ravindra, on the other hand, was born to his position. He’s a member of the ruling military class, in fact a subset of that group from which the admirals are often chosen – provided they have the ability. His father was an admiral, as was his grandfather. His parents arranged his marriage to a suitable woman but even while his wife was alive, when he was away from home he could take his pick of willing partners. The thing about Ravindra is that he doesn’t quite fit the traditional admiral mould. He bends rules when it suits him, sees things from a different perspective. That’s why he has been assigned to a command on the outskirts of Manesa society.

They both meet women. But whereas for Saahren it’s love at first sight and a long learning experience as he fumbles his way through falling in love, for Ravindra the relationship grows in very different directions.

Here’s an early encounter between Saahren and Allysha Marten.

“Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you.” He glanced over his shoulder at his fallen opponent. “Let me see you to your quarters.”
The alarm faded from her face as she sized him up. “I’m Allysha Marten.”
“I know. I’m Brad Stone.” He’d very nearly said Chaka Saahren. He’d better keep that fact to himself until he could find out what her objection was.
She smiled and his heart fluttered. “Thank you, Brad Stone.”
“Where do you live?”
“The mine. In the old ptorix mine manager’s quarters.”
He walked beside her, not too close, not too fast, through the tunnel of jungle that led to the mine. “You’re comfortable with the ptorix?”
“Yes. Very. Where I come from—Carnessa—we live together peaceably. Well… mostly. I grew up with Tors.”
Tors. That must be her word for ptorix.
“And that’s how you understand their computer systems?”
“I suppose. I can speak their language and that always helps.”
He almost stopped. “Their language? But that’s very difficult.”
She laughed, a low, musical chuckle. “Not too bad if you learn as a child.”
The mine’s metal doors gleamed in the lights around the entrance. Saahren pressed the lock and the personnel door slid open. He stood aside to let her go first, along the wide central tunnel that led to the control room.
She turned off into a side tunnel. A few more steps and she stopped in front of a stairway. “I live up there. Thanks again.”
Those wonderful eyes held him for just a moment and then she was gone. He stared after her. He should have asked her to dinner or a drink or … or… Idiot. Fool. Standing there like a tongue-tied teenager. She smiles at me and I melt. She speaks and I just listen to the lilt in her words.
He sighed. I’m in love.

Here’s an early encounter between Morgan Selwood and Ravindra.

The officer reached down, grasped her shoulder in one hand and pulled her upright so fast her feet left the ground. He let go and she swayed, regaining her balance. The light winked on the gold sunburst on his shoulder.
Well, well. Her heart beat steadied. Maybe she wasn’t for the firing squad just yet.
“Welcome back, Morgan Selwood.”
She stared at him, straight into slit black pupils in an amber field. She was supposed to look down, wasn’t she? Well, fuck him. She wasn’t beaten yet.
“You have not yet learnt manners, I see.”
“Where I come from, meeting a man’s gaze shows honest intent.”
“You are not where you come from.”
He struck her face. Her head whipped around. She staggered sideways and stumbled to her knees, her cheek stinging. She hadn’t even seen him raise his hand. He hauled her effortlessly, one handed, to her feet again. He must be enormously strong. His fingers must have left dents on her shoulder.
“So. Let us start again.” That even, baritone voice. He might as well have been at a cocktail party.
No, she wasn’t where she came from. Wishing she could rub her cheek, she bowed her head. “Admiral.”
The word stuck in her craw. She fixed her gaze on his rank insignia. Daryabod—Full Admiral. Second only to Daryaseban—Grand Admiral in the manesan fleet hierarchy. A very, very powerful man. Another bastard admiral.

So, folks… how do you like your admirals? Or generals, or whatever? I’d love to know.