Category Archives: Uncategorized


BU Tour poster

I’ve put a hyperlink on this to the BU site. It won’t work until 25 October, when it will show the full table of participants etc.

Gives me a link to the page with a table

Gives me a link to the Rafflecopter
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Dealing with the mucky bits

A little more for writers on the ‘show don’t tell’ thing.

To Die a Dry Death

picture of a kitchen scene I recently wrote a post on my other blog concerning the bits authors leave out of time travel. With my tongue firmly in my cheek, I called it ‘the sexy side of time travel’. Imagine yourself going back from the 21st century to (say) Elizabethan London. What would your impressions be? A lot of it would be to do with stinks, smells, filth, disease, rotten teeth, body odour, rats, mice, lice, death etc. All these things would assault the eye (and nose) of a person coming front our times. But for the people living in that time, it was how they lived.

So how does one write about things like this, conveying what it was really like? The issue is that people wouldn’t have noticed the smells and the vermin. If you go out camping with friends and there is no chance to wash, you’ll no doubt end up…

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Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as over-editing

I’m in the middle of editing a new book and my experience with editing The Iron Admiral came to mind. I learned some valuable lessons then and I think it’s worth repeating them. If you have any views, I’d love to know your experience.

Greta van der Rol

Picture of CosmosThe very first book I ever wrote was called (among other things) The Iron Admiral. I wanted to write a space opera with sex; not erotica, science fiction but with heart. So I did. To start with it wasn’t so very good. No writer’s first efforts are, I don’t think. In my case, the writing was flowery with many words other than ‘said’, much telling and not showing… the usual culprits.

But I went and learnt the craft and I polished and polished and polished. Eventually, I was happy with my work and propositioned literary agents and a few publishers without success. I got desperate and even self-published for Kindle. But then, an agent took an interest. I pulled the book off Amazon and listened to her advice. Rewrite, she said. She pointed out some plot weaknesses and suggested I bring the leading man in earlier. This was all…

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What a midsummer blast! (Or midwinter, in my case)

Whatever the season where you are, huge thanks to everybody who popped by my blog as part of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade’s midsummer blog hop. I gather a lot of you learnt something here, and elsewhere along your journey through some GREAT blogs. And now it’s time to announce the prize winners!

Susan W., you’ve won an e-book copy of whichever of my titles most captures your fancy. I’ve sent you an email.

Thanks so much for participating. Main prize winners will be announced on the SFR Brigade website.

Midsummer nights

Midsummer. Long days, bright nights, a play by Shakespeare, the fabled White Nights in St Petersburg, where people don’t bother going to bed. A brief chance to party before the sun recedes for another year. It’s all based on the Earth’s angle of inclination and the point of its path around the sun.

Stonehenge, the famous stone circle on the Salisbury Plain in England, is the site of one of the best known midsummer celebrations. On the day of the solstice it is claimed that an observer in the centre of the ring will see the sun rise over the heel stone. But actually, that isn’t true.

More than one person has pointed out that ancient people were less likely to care about the summer solstice than the winter solstice and indeed, it seems Stonehenge was set up to record the mid-winter event. This rather good article gives more information. Why? Because winter was a time of freezing cold and biting hunger. The nights were long and dark and people prayed and made sacrifices for the return of the sun. That’s why we celebrate Christmas in the way we do – many ancient traditions are mixed into the Christian myth.

Needless to say, lining the sun up with geological objects has made its way into science fiction and fantasy, too. One that springs to mind is Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. Thread would return when the red star was bracketed in the star stone. The creation of the warning sign was part of the plot in Red Star Rising (Dragonseye in the US).

Mid winter isn’t always so awful, though. It depends on how far you live from the equator. It’s mid winter for me right now but in the sub-tropics it isn’t a real hardship. To those of you in the frozen north, enjoy your time in the sun.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for something to read on the beach, and you like science fiction with a bit of romance on the side, you might like to download one of my books. Please come inside and check out the selection. Leave me a comment and be in the draw to win an ebook of your choice from my titles.

What’s more, you’ll be in the running to win one of TWO GRAND PRIZES!

1st Prize – a Kindle Touch or Nook Touch
2nd Prize -a library of science fiction romance titles from over 20 authors (these will be mostly ebooks with one print anthology), and an Anabanana Gift Card.

For more chances to win pop along to the blogs listed below and comment on as many as you want (only ONE comment per site will count as an entry). Each time you comment at a stop, you’ll earn one entry into the grand prize – so the more sites you visit, the greater your chances of winning. The winners will be drawn at random on the 24th June and announced on this site. The list of participating authors can be found at this link.

One more day, then it’s over

Starheart Banner

Yes, folks, you can download my novel Starheart for free for 3 whole days.

You’ll never get a better price.

It’s damn good Sci-Fi  Two lips reviews says “The twists and turns develop at a good pace, with Ms. Van der Rol’s characters wrapping me up in their plight to such an extent that I hated to let the book go when it ended.” more…

Starheart’s got everything I need for a good time “a strong, sexy, vulnerable female protagonist in the form of the alluring and stressed out, multitasking Jess; a tall take charge and handsome admiral, conflicted about her and her shady doings; a mystery, an adventure, and a believable warp drive.” more… from Toby Neal

I really enjoyed this book. A lot! AB Shepherd says “This book is a fun action/adventure, a murder mystery, a crime novel and a romance all wrapped up in one neat package!” more…

She’s lost her husband, her best friend is missing. What else has she got to lose?

Slightly shady freighter captain, Jess Sondijk, thought she had her life under control until Admiral Hudson’s Confederacy battle cruiser stops her ship to search for contraband. His questions reopen matters she had thought resolved. What if her husband’s death on his way back from Tabora wasn’t accidental? Jess decides to investigate, while keeping Hudson at arms’ length.

While he’s attracted to the lovely Jess, Hudson is also concerned about what might be happening on Tabora and how that may involve the Confederacy’s enemies.

Jess and Hudson’s interests collide in more ways than one. But while Jess is more than willing to put her life on the line to protect what’s hers, Hudson must balance the risk of inter-species war at worst and the end of his career at best, in a deadly game of political intrigue, murder and greed. At the end of the day, how much is he willing to lose for the woman he has come to love?

Photographing Brahmani Kites

Flying brahmani kitePictures of this majestic raptor always brings oohs, aahs and wows from people. Yet in many respects, they’re the easiest of my targets. The reason is two fold.

1)      I know where to find them

2)      They’re not shy

Our part of the bay supports a pair of Brahmani Kites. I’ll often find them on the tidal flat near Tooan-tooan Creek, where they’ll perch on driftwood or an exposed rock – anything where their tail is clear of the ground. Unlike the sand pipers and the white egret, they’ll let me get reasonably close. As they’ve got to know me, that’s increasingly close.

Brahmani kite on driftwood with snake

They’ll fly off if I intrude too much – especially if they’re protecting dinner.

Brahmani kite flying with snake

If they’re not on the tidal flats, they may be at a favourite roost in the mangroves above the creek.

Brahmani kite in mangroves

Or they may be up the other end of the beach, where a line of rocks is exposed at low tide. In fact, I got my bestest pictures of the pair together at that spot. You can see them here and here. If you want those you’ll have to pay for them.

And because they’re so big, they flap their wings slowly and glide so the camera can stop the motion. It’s much harder to get a clear picture of a small bird or an insect in flight because they move so fast and their wings move so fast. For flying shots, the camera is set to ‘sports’ mode, which means maximum shutter speed. That means you sacrifice the amount of light you get in the camera, and depth of field, so for the best shots, I need a bright day.

Share the pictures on this post by all means – just credit me the copyright.

My Cheeky Angel (1st book in the Angels with Attitudes series)

Today I’m hosting Mimi Barbour, who is doing a blog tour with a difference for her book My Cheeky Angel

Annie is naïve and love-starved, she’ll soon to be celebrating her big 3-0. Something needs to be done! Celi, her ‘down-to-earth’ guardian angel appears to help kick-start Annie’s big change—her looks, her job, her whole life. By taking a managerial position with a sophisticated shoe manufacturer, Annie becomes embroiled with her new associates and hooked on the power of big business. Unfortunately, her exhaustion from overwork forces her to ignore old friends, and her lapse places someone she cares about in terrible danger.

Tyler, a Social Worker and a woman-hater previously hurt in two relationships, only wants Annie in his life as a good buddy. Oh yeah! And to help with his mixed-up street kids. Perversely, once her life alters, he misses her like hell.  In one sweet night of loving everything changes. But, due to an overabundance of nightcaps, she doesn’t remember the night he can’t forget.


Within seconds the smooth prick spoke. “Anna had a bit too much to drink. I was seeing her safely home.”

“Not a problem. I’ll take her up,” he growled. By this time, Tyler had a supportive arm around the wobbly woman. He looked down at her. “Say bye-bye to your date…Anna.” His spitting out her newly chosen name would have set worry bells ringing, if she’d been in her normal state of mind. Blitzed out of her head, she just jiggled her fingers and said, “Bye-bye, date.”

With everything happening so fast, Tyler knew Annie hadn’t had a chance to fully appreciate the change in her situation. One minute she was leaning drunkenly against the slimy character whose hands were all over her body, while her unfocused eyes gazed at him adoringly. The next minute, Tyler had taken over.

As the elevator doors closed, leaving Sergio shrugging off his disappointment, a fuming Tyler lifted Annie into his arms.

At ease, Annie wrapped her arms around him, snuggled her face into his neck, and then sighed. His familiar expensive cologne, one of her gifts that he regularly used, seemed to soothe her. “I love how you smell.”

His anger fled the moment he became aware that she sniffed at him like a small kitten. His legs almost buckled when he felt the tip of her tongue lick him, and then press a tiny kiss over the wet spot.

The groan started deep, frustration forcing it out, chasing away his righteous snit. At her door, he lowered her to her unsteady feet, but she refused to unwind her arms from around his neck. They clung, her body glued to his.


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Stories from the dark side

Do you remember when you were a kid and your older brother told you ghost stories in the dark? I do. My brother did it to frighten me and it often worked. My guest today is my good friend Heikki Hietala. Heikki and I met online about 5 years ago now and though he lives in Finland and I live in Australia, we’ve met in real life twice – once in London and again in Helsinki.

Heikki writes award-winning short stories, many of which have an element of the supernatural, and he agreed to answer some questions about his just-published collection,Filtered Light and Other Stories.

You’ve written one novel and a heap of short stories. Which do you prefer to write?

The short stories are a bit of a puzzler for me. When I had finished writing Tulagi, I found I had a need to write shorties though I had expected to start working on my second  novel. But in the span of six months I wrote 16 stories. I was not at all sure of their quality, but working with author friends and especially Dan Holloway of Year Zero Writers convinced me I was on to something.

In ‘Filtered Light and Other Stories’ the tales you tell have a hint of the supernatural. Is that a favourite for you?

It is indeed. I have never been of the opinion that there is nothing outside what we can see and touch. The volume of supernatural encounters, even with people I know can be trusted, is simply too big to be ignored. While I am not a big fan of exploiting the ideas (as was done in quite a few

movies) I like to include a small element of it in my work. In Tulagi Hotel, for example, the main character is able to see in a photograph an omen of people who will soon die, and this feature is based on a story of a reliable person. In short stories, supernatural elements can be given a little more exposure; some of the stories are pure ghost stories in the classic vein.

The story ‘Filtered Light’ is not only eerie it is very moving. Where did you get the idea ?

It is a conglomerate of personal experience and the ideology of ‘otherness’. There’s a fantastic (but sadly untranslated) Finnish poet, Uuno Kailas, who felt himself an outsider all his life. The fate of Lieutenant Steele derives from Kailas’ poetry. The gang is what I remember from my boyhood years, and the supernatural element is a dream I myself had as a youngster. No one died in my childhood, mind you,  but we all have these emotions of ‘did I do enough’ that are the result of action and inaction in demanding situations.

You won a prize for ‘Lord Stanton’s horse’. How did you feel about that?

I was very proud of that. It’s a flash fiction piece, 467 words only, and in that short space, I managed to set up the situation, spin a believable plot, bring it to a rewarding finale, and write dialogue the competition judge deemed excellent. The story’s idea came from a documentary where volunteers dig up the remains of WW1 casualties in Belgium, and of one man, all that remained were a piece of bone and a shoulder unit title.

Which is your favourite story in the collection, and why?

I like the story “The Ephemeral Man”. My favorite author of all times is Omar Khayyam, the 12th century scientist and mystic, and I’ve brought his thinking into both Tulagi Hotel and this new collection of short stories. This I do because no one sums up the human condition better than Khayyam – we are indeed ephemeral, and we will not solve the riddle of life for good, hence we should make the most of what is here and now and try to enjoy life as it unfolds. In the short story I wanted to bring out the pure essence of Khayyam’s thinking, and it may have worked, judging from the comments it has received.

Which was the most difficult to write, and why?

That would have to be The Dispatchers. That is again a supernatural story, about spirit entities who bring dying people across the threshold of death. I set that in a bombing run of the RAF over Germany, and I wanted it to sound technically convincing and spiritually challenging. As this was my second short story ever, I was still trying to figure out how to construct short stories, and I had to go through many revisions. Hopefully the version that now stands in this book is a good one. I translated it for publication in the Finnish speculative fiction magazine “The Cosmos Pen”, and it was issued in January this year.

Would I be right in saying quite a few of your stories are set in WW2?

You would indeed. There’s the novel, set in post-WW2 Solomon Islands and the war in flashbacks, and in the short stories there are two published and at least two in the development stage.

Why is that?

It is because that war was bigger than we will ever see again (I hope) and it was technical, but it was not fought by remote control. For example, aircraft carrier pilots had to perform miraculous feats of navigation, if they wanted to be able to find their ship after a four hour flight. It’s also a well-known era and it is easy to use events in it to date a story. I do not like date-stamping (I do it in The Dispatchers) but I rather want to bring the time of the story up in a side clause or a casual remark that will tell the reader when this story happens.

Thanks for chatting with me Heikki. All the best with the new collection – it deserves to do well.

You can find ‘Filtered Light and other stories‘ at Amazon US and Amazon UK

Heikki Hietala learned to read at four but is still trying to learn to write. His World War 2 era debut novel, “Tulagi Hotel”, was first published by Diiarts (England) in 2010, and is now reissued by the Pennsylvania-based Pfoxmoor Publishing. Even if he is a native Finn, he writes in English. He holds an MA from the University of Jyväskylä where his major subject was English Philology.

Hietala has written some forty short stories, most of them falling into the speculative fiction genre, but also real life and humor stories have appeared to the surprise of many. His flash piece “Lord Stanton’s Horse” won the Flash500 competition in September 2010, and “The Campsite vol. 1” was highly commended in the Global Short Stories competition in March 2011.

In addition to his short story collection “Filtered Light and Other Stories” (PfoxChase Publishing, Feb 2012) Hietala’s work has appeared in five short story anthologies so far, and shown on websites such as Emprise Review and Escape Into Life. Two of his stories were included in the anthology “Words to Music”, for which forty authors were sent a random song to use as inspiration. His flash fiction has appeared in the Rammenas collection”In These Hands”.

He is a member of Year Zero Writers and is active in the Book Shed writers’ conclave. Hietala is able to quote Monty Python interminably.

You can contact Heikki at

Amazon  and his main site:

Once Upon a Dream

Today I’m pleased to host Frances Pauli, who will tell you about her ‘Changeling Race’ trilogy. Over to you, Frances.

Thank you so much for having me on the blog today. When Greta asked me to do a “behind the book” post, I had to think back. It’s been nine years since I wrote the original draft of the first book in The Changeling Race trilogy. While it seems so much shorter, that time in between was filled with marriage, children, and my first steps into the universe of publishing and writing books. It’s been quite a journey, and at least that very last part, all started with A Moth in Darkness.

The book, itself, started with a dream.

I get a lot of ideas from dreams, as do many authors. Our subconscious, thankfully, provides us with a steady flow of creative fodder. In Moth’s case, that inciting dream ended up as one of the very last scenes in the story, however, and from there I chewed and churned and pondered my way backwards to the beginning.

That scene is still one of my favorites in the book, though the dream was more than a little disturbing. There was an elf held prisoner in a dark room. Images flashed on the walls while he struggled to stand. He needed help. He needed me, and though I didn’t know who he was yet, I knew I was madly in love with him. I was in love with his story, and all I had to do was get it sorted out and down on paper.

I woke up shaking. I spent the whole day distracted, thinking about that elf and his predicament. How did he get there? Who was he? How was I going to get him out? The first time I met Lockland Sheen, I knew he was the one. All the stories I’d imagined up till now, the ones I’d started and never finished, the ones I’d thought about and never written, couldn’t compare to him. His story had to be recorded. I had to finish something—and that thought terrified me.

Up until that point, I really didn’t finish. It wasn’t my thing. I mean, I started out great, even wandered into the middle a few times, but reaching the end was an elusive goal I figured only happened in the movies. This time, however, I knew I had to get there. That elf was counting on me to save him.

And because of that, he really saved me. I wrote that first book determined like I’d never been before, and I finished it. After that, lo and behold, I finished another one. I knew I could do it, you see, and that knowing opened up the floodgates.

So in a way the story behind A Moth in Darkness is the story behind Frances Pauli. The first step into The Changeling Race took me farther than I’d ever imagined. It holds a special place in my heart, as does that elf, and they both probably always will.

As to saving Lockland Sheen, well, that turned out to be only a first step too. Once his friends and I got acquainted, and the whole story played out, a trilogy was born. Now, at its finish, I can’t help but think of them as my friends too: Lockland and Liz, the fairies, trolls, gnomes and even the dark Kelpies and boggins will always be an integral piece of that puzzle that is my universe.

If even one reader enjoys them as much as I have, I will consider the journey well played. It certainly was an adventure for one procrastinating, would-be author.

Thank you so much for hosting a stop on the tour. I am offering a free pdf of any book from my backlist to one commenter today, and for each stop on the tour that you comment on, you will earn one entry into the final drawing for print copies of all three books. Follow along and enter to win!

Thanks so much for a fascinating post, Frances. And best of luck to the commenters, too.


Frances Pauli writes speculative fiction with romantic touches. Her books are published through Mundania Press LLC, Awe-Struck, and Devine Destinies, and her short stories are featured in various anthologies. More information on her worlds and writing can be found on her website and blog, and she offers free online stories, web serials, podcasts there as well.!/MothinDarkness

A Moth in Darkness

The boundaries between the worlds have fallen. Forced to integrate the creatures of fantasy into real life, humanity struggles against its disillusionment, prejudice and an inevitable feeling of inadequacy.

Once an agent for the embassy that mediates between the worlds, Elizabeth Larson has abandoned her past and slipped into a world of nostalgic addiction to fairy revels, dancing, and the dark lure of her own memories. But when Lockland Sheen, her former partner and lover, goes missing, she is pulled reluctantly back into service. She must venture once more across the borders, into the land that haunts her, facing a string of gruesome murders, the imposing Sidhe rulers and her own addiction in the process.

While the Embassy’s agents attempt to soothe tensions between the races, Liz and her new partner search the fairy realm for Lockland. Fighting the constant temptation of the revels, they piece together the trail of an unknown enemy. But the longer they follow it, the more it appears that the man they came to rescue is more villain than victim. And the more they rely on Elizabeth’s ties to the fairies, the closer she inches toward the madness that lurks behind her fantasies.

The Fly in Paradise

Something’s rotten in the Fey lands. While Marcus Bramble tracks the lunatic who started it all, Elizabeth and the crew at the Embassy sort through the evidence he left behind. With Lockland back, and the revels behind her, Liz’s world is slowly returning to normal. But on both sides of the borders, shadow creatures spring out of nowhere, and the dark legends surrounding the fey take on a whole new meaning.

Now time is against them.  On the mortal side of things, protesters rally to close the borders, politicians descend on the Embassy, and something that shouldn’t exist stalks Elizabeth through the city.

In his world, Marcus faces a madman with answers he doesn’t want to hear. The Fey rulers turn a blind eye on forests teeming with imaginary monsters, and the Sidhe tower stands silent amidst the chaos. Will the race to uncover its secrets solve the mystery of the elves’ past or unleash even more horrors on them all?

Spiders From Memory

The Seelie court is gone, and the Tower has fallen into darker hands. Now nightmare creatures terrorize the Fey races, and the whole Fey world turns to frost and shadow.

Liz Larson holds the last remnant of the Seelie Sidhe’s power. The elves look to her for guidance, but all she has to offer them is the disturbing story of their origin, the final truth that will turn many of them against her. With her dwindling number of allies, Liz needs to reopen the borders, to find the missing Marcus Bramble, and to avoid the sudden, terrifying attention of the new Fey ruler, the Unseelie Speaker and new master of the Sidhe Tower.

While her friends in Mundanity race to pry open the gates, and Marcus searches for the answer to a puzzle that could save or damn them all, the Unseelie Speaker marches north, bringing his army and his wrath to focus on Elizabeth. What can one, fairy-touched human do in the face of the Unseelie court’s full fury? How can she fight when the enemy’s anger is only partly blind, when she can see all too clearly the traces of justice behind it?