The Guardian Begins


Well, it’s New Year’s day in my other home – New Zealand, even though it’s still December the thirty-first here in the UK. So I have begun to write my new science fiction novel. I have settled on The Guardian as the title. For the few who bothered to at least read, let alone the six who I am indebted to for offering their opinions, and whose advice I took note of, here is my New Year’s gift to you – the reconstructed Hook and a short extract.


The guardian’s dark pitiless eyes surveyed the scene one last time. Satisfied that the threat was finally eliminated, it returned to its duties while awaiting the return of its masters. Three weeks later, while on patrol, something on one of the video screens in the mine operations centre got its full attention. More trouble was on the way. Intruders had just arrived. Until they were dealt with, the guardian could not even begin to repair the damage they had caused. But at least it could finish sealing the entrance to the inner sanctum.

Chapter One

“Why us?” Lynne grumbled, once they had arrived at the Space Port in stationary orbit above Mars. Even though she already knew the answer, she still needed to vocalise it, if only to emphasise her displeasure at being volunteered. She had driven her new boss crazy with endless questions like this during the month long journey aboard the robotic solar-wind powered transport. They both knew that this was likely a suicide mission. “What’s so all-fired important about an automated mining operation on Mars?” she continued, “and why the hell did we have to put up with that stinking ancient transporter. Why didn’t the cheapskates get us seats on something more luxurious for the trip?”
“For Christ sake woman will you give it a rest, quit bellyaching! At the moment I’m guessing that the bastards have downed tools over pay and conditions. You’ve read the brief from Earth Corp, therefore you know as well as I that we are to establish why the Olivine mining has stopped. Even though the system is automated, techs are still needed to keep an eye on the machinery and fix things when they break. Plus the ore has to be brought up here to the Space Port to be loaded aboard unmanned transporters like the one we just arrived on for the return journey to Earth. Which means someone like you has to fly the damned cargo shuttles back and forth. Until we get there, we’re only speculating. The first thing we have to do is talk to the mine boss, David Malcolmson. He and everyone else is housed in an accommodation block just inside the mine in Ganges Chasma, an eastern branch of Valles Marineris.
If you are wondering what Olivine is used for, it is the principal component in the carbon dioxide sequester process back on Earth. You know how bad our atmosphere is, thanks to heavy industry. According to Earth Corp, the last load to arrive back home was six months ago. Before that the mine was sending regular monthly consignments. Any more questions? No? Good. Now quit complaining and get us the hell down there!”
Adler shook his head as he strapped himself into the seat behind Lynne. Why the hell he had to be saddled with this totally unpleasant woman was beyond him. Surely there must have been other pilots to choose from?
As far as Earth Corp was concerned, being ex-military, both Major Adler Stevens and Lieutenant Lynne Crawford were the obvious candidates for the job, and therefore expendable. The CEO of Earth Corp saw no good reason to send one of her own on such a hazardous mission. If they managed to work out what had happened, fix it, and send back a report to say that everything was back to normal, all well and good. If not, someone else would soon be sent in their place. After all, since war was declared illegal, there were plenty like Adler and Lynne to choose from. They had been given precisely one week after their arrival to investigate before they must send that report to Earth Corp.


The guardian watched the shuttle descend to the loading bay airlock inside the mine entrance from inside the inner sanctum. It heard the unmistakeable sound of the outer door closing, sealing off the mine from Mars’ atmosphere, which is one hundred times thinner than that of Earth, being mostly carbon dioxide, and the hiss as the now sealed loading bay automatically pressurised as oxygen was pumped in to allow whoever was inside the shuttle to enter the mine reception centre. It watched as Adler and Lynne walked across to the door connecting the airlock with the living quarters.


So, there it is. With this one, I’m in no steaming hurry. I just want it to enthral the reader all the way through to the end. That requires hours of thought and endless rewriting on my part. To achieve my aim, I’ve given myself the whole of two thousand and fifteen to complete the task.

I’ll keep you all up to date as I progress. Have a happy New Year.

😀 😀 😀

Typos and Errors in Indie-Published Manuscripts

Good advice for all writers.

Nina Soden

I originally published this article as a guest author at and on August 8, 2014, but I felt that the information was important enough that I wanted it in my blog feed as well. I hope you enjoy my take on Typos and Errors in Indie-Published Manuscripts. You can let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.


Are typos in a book a big deal?

Of course they are – to some extent! Typos happen. Typos happen in books that are self-published and traditionally published. Typos happen to new authors and seasoned authors. Typos happen in eBooks and print books. It doesn’t matter how many people you have edit, proof read, re-read, etc. there is always a chance a typo (or two – or three – or four) is going to slip through. Does that mean the world is over, the author should never write again, or that the…

View original post 1,016 more words

How My Blog did in 2014 According to WordPress

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Some Things Are Truly Magical

All my life, the one thing that I was totally rubbish at is dancing. Yes I can ‘Dad Dance’. But when it comes to real dancing I have two left feet. Each year here in the UK we have a very special show on television called Strictly Come Dancing which is broadcast each saturday night for three months, culminating in the final just before Christmas (in the US it is known as Dancing with the Stars). This year’s winners were television presenter Caroline Flack and her professional partner Pasha Kovalev pictured here. uktv-scd-final-3

Of all the dances each couple had to master, for me there is only one dance that, if I was able, I would love to learn. I give you the most beautiful dance there has ever been, the Argentine Tango. Watching the professionals perform it is pure magic.

The accompanying video is of the couple placed third in this year’s world championship in Buenos Aires – Shirley Xu and Jesus Haborda. If they only placed third, god only knows how good the winning couple are! If I find a video of them I’ll post it here.

The First Version Of The Hook


Ok folks, if you have been keeping up with my blog, you will have already read my previous post on the subject of the Hook. If not here is it’s link –

Now then, all I need from the three hundred and twenty-two people who currently follow my blog is for you all to read through the first version of the Hook shown below.

Don’t just click ‘like’ and move on, or ignore it. Here is your one and only chance to partake in the birth of a new novel. I really need your totally unbiased opinions. Even if science fiction does nothing for you, I still want to know whether or not the Hook works. In other words did it get your attention to the point where you want to know more? One other thing, forget about the character names. At this stage of the proceedings, they are very temporary. I just used them to give you the two character’s points of view.


   Dark pitiless eyes surveyed the scene one last time. Satisfied that the threat was eliminated, it turned to head back to its hiding place. Something on one of the screens temporarily caught its attention. More trouble was on the way down to the surface.
  “Why us?” Cal grumbled. Like Mike he already knew the answer. Tradition demands that the questions be asked by anyone crazy enough to have agreed to be sent on a mission like this. Both men were ex-military. Mike was a former sergeant in the Military Police, while Cal was an ex fighter pilot, making them ideal as trouble-shooters in the eyes of the company, even though they were not expected to survive. If they managed to work out what had happened, all well and good. If not, someone else would be sent in their place. “What’s so all-fired important about an automated mining operation on Mars?” Cal continued, “and why the hell are we on this stinking ancient solar transporter. Why didn’t they get us seats on something more luxurious for the trip?”
“Quit bellyaching will you! Even though the system is automated, techs are still needed to keep an eye on the machinery and fix things when they break. Plus the ore has to be taken from the surface up to the space port to be loaded aboard unmanned transporters like this one for the return journey to Earth, which means someone has to fly the cargo shuttles. The whole operation demands that a small population lives in an accommodation block down inside the mine in Valles Marineris. According to the company, the last load of ore to arrive back home was six months ago. Before that the mine was sending regular monthly consignments. We’re being sent to find out why the operation has stopped. Any more questions? No? Good. Now let’s get down there.”


Ok, now you have read it, please think about it first, then leave your opinions below in the comments section. No idiotic ones thanks TSRA. For me, and every other published writer, this is a serious game. None of us are in it for the laughs – there are non to be had.

PS – until I’ve read all of your comments, I won’t continue on with the first chapter. So get busy, please..


Feeling Totally Pissed Off!


Not too many years ago, there was one person visiting your neighbourhood on a daily basis that you could always rely upon to knock on your door whenever he or she had a parcel for you. I refer to your friendly postperson. No longer. Since Royal Mail became privatised, time and motion studies dictate that the postmen or women must get round his or her ‘Walk’ in as short a time as possible, to the detriment of their customers.

The one who delivers the mail around here is a feckless idiot, especially on a saturday! He has been on this ‘Walk’ for years. Therefore he knows all of us in the close I live in. For instance he is well aware that I am housebound. Yet, when it comes to delivering anything other than letters which he can push through my letter box, like a small package, what does he do? I’ll tell you. Instead of knocking on my door, he takes a few moments to fill out one of those package pickup cards and then posts that through my letter box instead!!!

Five times now he has followed this procedure whenever something I have ordered left the warehouse via Royal Mail, instead of a courier. I sent an email to the particular company concerned informing them that if they want their product back, they had better contact my local Post Office, as that’s where its being held.

Royal Mail doesn’t even know the meaning of the words ‘Customer Service’!!!!

Bah Bloody Humbug!

😦 😦 😦

Writing the Hook


The setting is Valles Marineris on Mars

Well, In the last few days I’ve been going over several often diametrically opposed scenarios for my new science fiction novel in my mind. I have finally eliminated all but one of them. So, now that’s settled, all I have to do is come up with the hook.

What’s a hook Jack?

I’m glad you asked me that reader. It’s a devise all writers need to employ to get your attention. In other words – we need to dangle enticing bait in front of you as an avid reader, not to mention those who normally couldn’t be bothered to read a book. You know the ones I mean, those who prefer to watch films or play endless video games instead of improving their minds with a book.

If you want an example of a hook just think back to when you last visited your local book store, or clicked on the See Inside feature of any eBook you care to name. If those first few critical sentences didn’t get your attention, chances are you moved on to the next book.

Perfecting the art of writing the hook comes through trial and error combined with years of writing experience. No writer always gets it right. But that doesn’t mean we don’t continue to perfect the art of creating the device with each new book we write. There lies the difficulty. Each new story demands its own unique hook. No two hooks are the same. How can they be? Think about it for a moment…

As for the main body of research for this new story, I’m pretty well there. Of course while I’m engaged in writing, there will be times when I’ll be doing a spot of on the job research. Even though it’s science fiction, (emphasis on the word fiction) there will still be a few who will say “that bit is not right!” Like most of their ilk, they always feel they know best. Even when you tell them, this story is not fact, it’s fiction, they will still endlessly argue the point with you, if you let them. If you write full time, as I do, you will know the particular kind of argumentative pain in the behind I’m talking about.

So, after I’ve woken up tomorrow morning, turned on the heater, consumed a pot of coffee and smoked a couple of roll-up cigarettes, I’ll begin to write the hook, after grabbing a beer for later on when I read it through that is…


Trolley Armageddon and Free Short Stories

No matter what country you live in, visiting the supermarket is exactly the same. In this case – chaos. 😉

Jo Robinson

I’m in the middle of my launch tour for Echoes of Narcissus in the Gardens of Delight, and absolutely loving it! Party time! It’s fantastic connecting with new readers and friends on all the blogs, and also hearing from people who have suffered the same as Donna has. I’ll introduce you to all my very kind hosts when the tour wraps up on the 31st.

I’m very late logging on today because I had to go to town, and having committed the unforgivable sin of forgetting to buy ice cream in the first place, there would have been no peace otherwise. Then I spotted a thing – and then another thing – you know how it goes.

When I headed out the door I was accosted by a guy in a store uniform who very firmly insisted that he’d be pushing my trolley to the car. I said no and…

View original post 293 more words

Visual Research for my new Science Fiction novel

I thought you might like to take a look at the kind of information I am currently studying for my forthcoming science fiction novel, set on Mars in the twenty-second century. It might be the Christmas/New Year break, but holidays are meaningless to a writer, especially this one…


To begin with take a look at this:

And finally this video shows the location for my new novel – Valles Marineris or The Great Rift, which is 2,500 miles long, 120 miles wide and up to 23,000 ft deep, and no you haven’t gone deaf. There is no sound with this last one. 🙂


Fun time over. Now it’s back to hard research. You might be taking it easy, but I’m not. I have a lot of reading to do.

😀 😀 😀