Category Archives: Iron Admiral

Mid-summer blog hop

sfrb-bloghop-buttonWelcome to the ‘Out of this World’ blog hop

Hi, and welcome to my worlds. I don’t know about you, but I’ve grown very tired of all the humanoid aliens in popular science fiction – especially science fiction romance. I’m happy to accept far-flung human colonies might have developed their own characteristics, in much the same way that the finches on the different Galapagos Islands evolved into separate species. But, sorry, I cannot swallow the notion that life has evolved somewhere else and created a ‘human’ species so close to ours it is able to reproduce (aka have sex). Needless to say, when I ‘created’ my own alien species, that caveat was to the forefront.

IAC Cover smallIn my Iron Admiral series I have aliens called the Ptorix and they are a long way from humanoid. No, there is no chance of a Human/Ptorix hybrid. They are essentially conical in shape, something they exaggerate with their clothing. They have no neck and the head ends in a dome. The body is covered in short blue fur. Their four arms end in a number of tentacles which can be deployed in a variety of ways. Think of a sea anemone and you’ve about got it right. They have four short legs but these are usually hidden beneath their robes. Three eyes which change color according to mood are located almost equidistant around the top of the head, enabling a Ptorix to see almost the whole way around its body without moving. They have two ‘mouths’, one – resembling a proboscis – for eating, the other for breathing and speaking. So from a human viewpoint, they’re pretty weird.

But they did evolve on planets similar to Earth, so Humans and Ptorix can share the same planets and breathe the same air, although they don’t eat food in the way we do. Ptorix had always been scavengers, sucking up nutrients from putrefying flesh. The Ptorix find it strange that humans eat solid flesh, which they find disgusting and inefficient.

Like us, they can manipulate materials and are technologically advanced. They see more light spectra than we do, and hear a higher-pitched sound range. Needless to say, the Ptorix have their own culture and social mores. If you want to find out more about them, try The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy.

Read an excerpt here Reviews here Buy the book Amazon Barnes & Noble Kobo Apple

If you’d like to win a copy of BOTH The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy and its sequel, The Iron Admiral: Deception leave a comment on this blog giving the name of Allysha’s cheating husband.

Put in your entry for the main Blog Tour prize, via Rafflecopter

1st Prize – $150 Amazon or B&N gift card (winner’s choice) and an ebook bundle (currently Ghost in the Machine, Bayne, Recast Book1:Wither, Recast Book 2:Clash, Alien Adoration, Switched, Reckless Rescue, Wreck of the Nebula Dream, Keir, Terms & Conditions Apply, The Key, Marya, Sasha’s Calling, Trouble at the Hotel Baba Ghanoush, Winter in Paradise, Once Upon a Time in Space, the Telomere trilogy, Winter Fusion, Blue Nebula, Demential, Wytchfire, Maven, Fires of Justice, Interface, Girl under Glass, and Breakout, Stark Pleasure, Starburst and The Plan.
Bonus books – Ghost Planet, The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy and Deception, and Games of Command.)

2nd Prize – $50 Amazon or B&N gift card (winner’s choice)

3rd Prizes – four $25 Amazon or B&N gift cards (given to separate winners and their choice)

And be sure to check out all the other blogs for more chances to win win win

Thanks to everyone who participated. The winner of the two books offered on my blog has been informed.


A snippet from The Iron Admiral

picture of Iron Admiral coverFor this week’s SFRB Presents, I thought I’d give you a look at the second of my two Iron Admiral books. In this brief interaction between Grand Admiral Saahren and the lady he loves, Allysha Marten, Saahren has turned up at the Fleet Ball, which Allysha has attended (in all innocence) with a young officer in her team. Saahren has asked her to dance.

“He’s one of my team, that’s all. I was doing him a favor.”

Double lines appeared between his eyebrows. “Yes, of course. He has a fiancée, has he not? And after the ball? What then? Back to your lonely apartment, by yourself?”

She bristled. “Of course.” What was he thinking?

“I have a better idea. You could come home with me.” His eyes gleamed with hunger, his voice soft as velvet. “I’ll be leaving soon.”

She shook her head. “No. No, I can’t do that. I came with Todd.” She blocked off the other little voice that whispered you’d like to, though; you’d certainly like to.

“So? Say goodnight to your people. Come with me.”

She locked eyes with him, those obsidian eyes that seemed to stare into her soul. “No.” The rest went unsaid; you can’t make me, I’m not yours to command.

He bent over her, so close she felt his breath on her cheek. “Then when you get home, call me. It’s time we… talked, my love.”

She didn’t miss the pause. Talking, eh? “Don’t call me that.”

“You can’t change the way I feel about you, Allysha. It’s pointless trying to avoid me, trying to hide.”


This snippet is from The Iron Admiral: Deception, the second of the two books. The first is The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy. Or you can buy both books in the omnibus entitled The Iron Admiral.

Thanks for dropping by. Be sure to check out all the other great reads in this week’s snippets.

Get your FREE copy 2 days only

picture of Iron Admiral cover

For January 10-11 only, you can pick up BOTH of the Iron Admiral books in one huge volume, absolutely free.

Both the Iron Admiral: Conspiracy and the Iron Admiral: Deception are highly regarded. Two Lips reviews awarded Conspiracy reviewer’s choice and Deception received the coveted recommended read. Here’s what the reviewer said:

Twolip Reviews recommended read “Holy cow! Greta van der Rol’s The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy was outstanding, but its sequel is almost beyond compare…. Deception is, in my humble opinion, one of the five best space operas ever written. Hands down!”



The problem with writing sequels

Picture of Elizabeth Moon booksI’m in the midst of writing a sequel and I’m finding it difficult. So I’ve stopped for a moment to try to understand why it’s difficult and what (if anything) I’m doing wrong.

I love series of books because I’m taken back to a place I already know and/or characters I’ve met. Like a favourite sweater, it’s comfortable. I can sit back and relax, and enjoy the trip. I know readers don’t want to wade through backstory at the start of the next book, even though they might not have read the previous book, and I’ve taken care not to do that.

The plot is the issue. A well known example of a series of sequels is The Lord of the Rings. Leave aside the fact that Tolkien always saw his book as just one story. I remember listening to (I think) Peter Jackson describing the way the odds rise from one book to the next. At the end of book one, a company of several hundred orcs capture Pippin and Merry, having sustained enormous losses at the hands of Aragorn, Legolas, and Boromir. In book two, thousands of orcs besiege Helm’s Deep and it is only the last-minute appearance of additional troops, and the involvement of the Ents, which prevents a wholesale slaughter of the Eorlingas. In book three, the odds rise once again. Tens of thousands of orcs, men, olifaunts and the dreaded Ringwraiths are pitted against the white tower and its numerically inferior forces. Once again, help comes from unexpected quarters to save the day, but though the battle is won, the war is not yet over.

Take another example, Elizabeth Moon’s ‘Vatta’ books. In each novel (there are 5) Vatta faces larger odds and her own forces grow until the final confrontation.

So it seems one ‘rule’ of sequels is you have to up the ante. I did this myself with the Iron Admiral books. In book one, Conspiracy, the galaxy is threatened with the return of a deadly virus which could kill the alien ptorix, which would inevitably cause an inter-species war. In book two, Deception, I came up with an even worse calamity and when that is diverted, the battle is won, although the war is not yet over. I’m told Deception worked very well as a sequel, so I’m kind of stuck with the notion I have to turn the screws, so to speak.

But does it always have to be like that?

Does anyone know of any well-loved sequels where this didn’t happen? Where it’s just a well constructed second story with the same characters? What would you expect if you were to buy the sequel to Morgan’s Choice? I’d really love to know.

What’s going on?

Publishing life has been a tad hectic of late but things are settling down. After a brief hiatus my books are back on Smashwords with sexy new covers. Except for Starheart, which will join them later in the month (promise).


The sequel to Morgan’s Choice (working title Morgan’s Return) is well under way and has met with approval so far. Morgan, Ravindra, Prasad and Tullamarran are back, Morgan’s old boss, Makasa, plays a major role and you’ll learn all about the Conflagration, which very nearly destroyed the human species. With  a dollop of romance, of course 😉

The Iron Admiral series:

Picture of the Iron Admiral Conspiracy cover

The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy

Politics. Hatred. Star systems on the brink of war. A species under threat of extinction from a deadly virus.

Ex-Admiral Chaka Saahren goes undercover to discover the truth. 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 and xenocide.

When the ex-Admiral’s identity is revealed, she must come to terms with her feelings for a man she thinks caused the death of innocent civilians, including her father.

In a race against time, Allysha must set aside her conflicted emotions and trust a man she barely knows. Saahren must convince the woman he loves to find the truth as he once more assumes his position as … The Iron Admiral.

Read an excerpt here

Reviews here

Buy the book in print or e-book  Amazon Smashwords

TPicture of the Irona Admiral Deception coverhe Iron Admiral: Deception

Grand Admiral Chaka Saahren has the rewards of rank

…but he doesn’t have Systems Engineer Allysha Marten. Determined to keep her safe, Saahren will go to any lengths to win back the woman he loves. Allysha agrees to temporary employment by the Fleet, hoping to avoid at all costs the man she believes responsible for the death of innocent civilians, including her estranged father.

Sean O’Reilly has a plan…

…and it involves hijacking Allysha and convincing her, one way or another, to do just one more job—a job that would clear his debts and save his hide.

Allysha Marten must come to terms with her feelings…

…in the face of a reality that suggests she is a pawn in a growing power struggle, one where she will need all her skills and cunning to outwit a heinous plot that could result in the loss of billions of human lives.

When Allysha decides to tackle the conspirators on her own, she forces an impossible choice on… The Iron Admiral.

Read an excerpt here

Reviews here

Buy the book in print or e-book  Amazon Smashwords

Morgan Selwood series:

Picture of Supertech coverSupertech

She’s a Supertech, bioengineered from birth, fresh out of the Academy and tasked with designing a control system for an experimental fighter. Morgan’s up for the challenge but there’s more to the job than meets the eye. The Fleet invested in her education but did they train her for … this?

Ensign Morgan Selwood was almost too good at her job and far too casual about Fleet rules and regulations. Tasked with designing a control system for an untested attack fighter seemed like a dream come true and a real career booster. But the specs and modules tell only part of the story—what Morgan discovers can put not just her career, but lives at risk.

Read an excerpt here

Reviews here

Available from Amazon

Morgans Choice coverMorgan’s Choice

You met Morgan Selwood in ‘Supertech’ – come with her on a later adventure when she’s stranded in unknown space.

Two alien ships respond to Morgan Selwood’s distress call, but the rescue turned out to be more than she bargained for.

He will use force if necessary to remind her of her place…
Autocratic, aloof, Admiral Ravindra wants to use the strange alien female and her gifts in his battle against an unknown force threatening to annihilate his worlds. Born to rule, a man of wealth, power and privilege, he will have what he most desires.

She will use courage and independence to carve a new future…
Morgan Selwood is a Supertech, bioengineered from birth to stand against the horrors of the Cyber Wars. Her abilities and appearance are the stuff of legend, exactly what the resistance needs to throw off the yoke of millennia of oppression. Caught in the crossfire Morgan must choose sides.
Together they will face a threat beyond imagining.

Read an excerpt here

Reviews here

Buy the book in print or e-book  Amazon Smashwords

Picture of A Victory Celebration coverA Victory Celebration

What’s good for the gander has to be good for the goose … or so Morgan thinks. The fleet has won a major battle and Ravindra’s doing his celebratory thing with his officers. Morgan gets a rare invite for a girls’ night out.

Dinner, a little dancing, a little jealous pining… And a whole lot of trouble when Ravindra discovers his lady is out ‘n about… without protection. What started as an innocent night on the town turns into something very, very different.

Buy the book from Amazon US or Amazon UK

Praise indeed – and yes, I love it

Iron Admiral: Conspiracy coverAs I work on the final tweaks for the release of my new book, Starheart, I received the news that both of my ‘Iron Admiral’ books had been reviewed and accorded 5 kisses by Two Lips Reviews, an online review site. What’s more, Iron Admiral Conspiracy was the reviewer’s book of the month and Iron Admiral Deception was given the status of ‘recommended read’.

I know not everybody is going to like my work but you’ll excuse me if I bask for a short time in fulsome praise.

This is what the reviewer had to say about ‘Conspiracy’

Ms. Van der Rol has that unique ability to paint a masterpiece with words.”Iron Admiral Deception cover

And this is what she had to say about ‘Deception’

Deception is, in my humble opinion, one of the five best space operas ever written. Hands down!”

And even nicer …

“Aside from the fact that Chaka’s a strong, intelligent, committed military man, he cares about Allysha’s well-being above his own. Yet, his duty to the Fleet and to maintaining a stable inter-planetary political system must come before his personal life and his own wants and desires. His absolute defining moment comes near the book’s end when the good of the many comes before the good of the one, and the Iron Admiral makes the only decision he can. It was the most emotional moment I’ve ever experienced in my entire life of reading. And I applaud you, Ms. van der Rol, for your accomplishment.”

It’s nice to feel I’ve connected with a reader.

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. 🙂

Out of this World!

The second annual Out of This World Blog Tour is just about to start in a Galaxy far, far away – that probably looks a lot like this one.

A bunch of SF writers are having a knees-up get together – and you’re invited. Come and join the party, discuss space and stuff, find out what’s out there, what’s coming next and maybe win a book or two.

Here’s the line-up. Wear a costume if it makes you happy. Oh… and it’s BYO. Sorry.


September 17 Diane Dooley at Amber Norris’ blog

September 18 Gary Starta at Melisse Aires’ blog

September 19 Frances Pauli at Diane Dooley’s blog

September 20 Amber Norris at Greta van der Rol’s blog

September 21 Lilly Cain at Anne Kane’s blog

September 22 Greta van der Rol at Frances Pauli’s blog

September 23 Lisa Lane at Gary Starta’s blog

September 24 Melisse Aires at Lilly Cain’s blog

September 25 Anne Kane at Lisa Lane’s blog

Do you judge a book by its cover?

I think everybody agrees that a book’s cover is one of the more important selling points. Sure, the blurb has to be interesting and the first few pages, too, but if that cover doesn’t grab a potential buyer then it’s all for nought.

Two of my SF novels have now been published – ‘The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy’ and ‘Morgan’s Choice’. Both books are action adventure space opera with a romance arc. ‘Morgan’s Choice’ became a best-seller in Omnilit’s science fiction genre. ‘Iron Admiral’ didn’t do much at all, despite getting good reviews on Amazon, Smashwords and Goodreads. I can only imagine the reason is the covers.

So for the second ‘Iron Admiral’ book (out around October) I’m thinking about a change of cover from this… Iron Admiral - Deception cover

to something more like this.

All these books are fast-paced action-adventure set in the future, rather like Star Wars but with (I hope) some more up to date and believable science. Romance is an important element to the story but by no means the only theme.

I’m looking for some help, here. What do you think? Which would you prefer?

Let’s talk about admirals

Ashkay Kumar actorI 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 him over there. That’s 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.