Monday, August 8, 2016

Launch Into Exclusive Content

Happy book birthday to Quantum!
Yes, today is the day that Quantum will be set free into it's natural habitat, where it will hopefully live long and prosper... yes, I just mashed a Star Trek reference with a nature documentary.
Anyhoo, I'm very excited, because Quantum is a little more special than my other releases, because Quantum has something that they didn't.
Ah, now you're intrigued!
You see, there's this very special scene between Rian and Ella, with a rather large and startling revelation. But, silly me, I forgot to put it in the book. The only way to get this scene? Check the back of Quantum for instructions.
Need a copy right this minute? No problem, just follow these links:

Entangled Publishing

Amazon

Book Depository

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Snippet from Quantum -- Coming out Monday 8th Aug

With under a week until Quantum comes out, here's a little sneak peak of what you can expect from the second book in the Atrophy series:


Take her back down.” Sweat crept along Zander's hairline, and he took a second to wipe at the gathering drips.
“Navs aren’t responding.” Apart from her words coming fast, Petros’s tone sounded mostly calm. Good, because he needed her to keep her head if they were going to get off this shuttle alive. The whole vessel was shaking hard enough now that anything not bolted down skittered across the grate floor. The groan of stressed metal was audible under the shrill chime of the emergency sirens.

He abandoned the shielding as a lost cause. The only play they had left was to disconnect the autopilot, which was taking them higher into the ether. Another few moments before they left the stratosphere altogether. Without the shielding, the craft would burn and implode almost in the same instant.

His breath came too short, chest too tight as the same error message kept blinking at him, telling him autopilot could not be disengaged. Frecking christ, the higher they got, the harder it would be coming down. And he had no doubt they were going down. Whether or not they got destroyed in the planet’s atmosphere before they crashed was still up for contention.

Swiveling the chair away from the all-but-useless control panel, he ducked down and pulled a section off the bottom of the console.

“What are you doing?” Petros demanded as he wrenched out a whole bunch of wiring.

“Manually disengaging autopilot. Until that’s off-line, we’ve got no hope of doing anything.” He skipped through several wires until he found the one he needed and yanked it clean out of the micro-crystal panel.

A new warning siren joined the dozen others already wailing, and the ship dropped sharply to the right, on the verge of going into an uncontrolled spiral. Zander’s stomach flipped up into his chest, and he grabbed hold of the chair’s armrest.

Petros pulled the physical flight control from out of its recess and jerked them to the left to counteract the ship’s listing. The angle of their hard decent lessened, but they were still going down on a bad, barely-in-control trajectory. Her face twisted into a grimace as she fought for control of the vessel, yet the shuttle hardly responded. They were beyond hope. There was only one way this crisis was going to end.

He tightened his harness and glanced over his shoulder to where his three crew were holding onto their seats in much the same way he had been. “We’re going down and it’s not going to be a soft landing. Brace for impact.”

Find it....



Thursday, July 28, 2016

Win An E-book Copy of Atrophy!


Here's your chance to win a copy of Atrophy and catch up on the series before Quantum comes out!

What more could you want? Well, maybe a just a snippet of the prize:


Onboard the Imojenna, somewhere in void-space

“So, tell me how we’re not going to explode this time?” Zahli Sherron grabbed onto the back of her brother’s chair, the wail of multiple warning alarms and urgent flash of red emergency lights cutting right through her skull until her head throbbed.
If it weren’t for the fact she knew the Imojenna was just a ship of mechanical parts, she would have sworn the old girl had a mind of her own. One that occasionally tried to kill them.
Dizzying weightlessness pulled at her as internal gravity failed, and she held tighter to the back of the captain’s chair. That was all they needed—one more malfunction added to the impressive list of utilities already flat-lining. If the heat was anything to go by, environmentals had failed for the fifth time this month.
Rian slammed a fist against his console. “Come on you fat assed, lazy whore!”
“You know she always gets into a mood when you call her names.” Gravity returned and Zahli’s knees jarred when her feet thumped back down to the floor.
“I wouldn’t have to call her names if she’d cooperate once in a while. Why aren’t you belted in?” Rian glanced over his shoulder at her and wiped at the sweat running down the side of his face. Her brother turned his attention back to the display screen across the main viewport as data flashed, warning about the impending depressurization of the cargo bay from a hull breech. “Not the Grigorian liquor, you crotchety bitch!”
Automated full ship lock down and venting of cargo bay in thirty seconds,” the monotone voice of the Imojenna announced.
Frecking great. When the last lockdown had sectioned up the Imojenna, the bridge hadn’t opened afterward with the rest of the ship, and it’d taken almost an entire rotation to override the command. She’d thought it kind of funny at the time because she’d been on the outside. Next time Rian tried to buy hull sections from a dodgy parts dealer on some backwater moon, a slap upside the head should remind him not to bother.


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Friday, July 22, 2016

Out and About

With Quantum coming out on the 8th of August, I've got a few things lined up to celebrate. Want to win some prizes or ask me about my books? Then here's where you can find me in the coming weeks:

27th of July - Guest post on the Science Fiction Romance Brigade blog
27th of July from 8pm to 9pm (US EDT) - the Entangled July Paranormal Event on Facebook (with prizes!)

3rd of August - Guest post on Romancing the Book blog

8th of August - Guest Post on the Science Fiction Romance Brigade blog
8th of August - Guest post on Ever After Romance blog
8th of August - Fortune Teller Day of Entangled Publishing's Summer Carnival (more details to follow, also with prizes!) 


There may be a few more, so I'll post them as they're locked in and organized. For now, I've got writing to do!


Monday, July 18, 2016

Just Finished Watching... Edge Of Tomorrow

You know, I'm not a huge Tom Cruise fan. I was way too young to appreciate him in Top Gun (try 4 years old... and actually, I've never watched that movie in its entirety, only seen bits and pieces when its been on TV over the years) I'm not a Mission: Impossible fan and the only thing I took away from Jerry Maguire was "SHOW ME THE MONEY!"
But I have to admit, the man can make a movie. I've seen his other recent sci-fi offering, Oblivion, but I think Edge of Tomorrow was the better of the two.
Warning, this post contains some spoilers!
The premise of this story is a firm favorite of mine; a reluctant soldier fighting aliens has to relive the same day over and over again, the day restarting every time he dies.
I absolutely love a Ground Hog day story. Any time one of my favorite TV shows does it (Stargate SG1 and Supernatural always come to mind as examples of shows that have done this brilliantly) I'm pretty much in heaven. That, and the fact this was a sci-fi were the only two elements which made me want to watch this movie. However, I ended up enjoying it far more than I expected. 
This was the kind of character-driven story I like to see, though usually I'm consuming them in TV series format and the evolution of the character happens over a long period of time, often taking years.
For William Cage in Edge of Tomorrow, the journey from reluctant participant to outright hero was fast and brutal. And I have to say I was very impressed with how the sometimes obligatory blockbuster movie romance between Cage and his counterpart heroine, Rita Vrataski, (played by Emily Blunt) was woven into the story. The audience wasn't clobbered over the head with it, nor was it ever completely forgotten in favor of other story elements. It built up along with the tension as Cage went from simply trying to survive the day, to actively intending to beat the alien invasion.
As the story built toward the inevitable bloody ending, and each character was killed off one by one, I thought this was going to be case of a movie where the main characters die, but the world is saved, so its a hollow kind of happily ever after. However, the surprise in this ending came in Cage regaining the ability to loop time (after losing it that day and expecting that he would no longer be able to right things if he or Rita were killed) taking him to an earlier time hours before his original reset point. However, instead of everything being the same and faced with killing the aliens again, Cage finds that the world is reporting a mysterious event had occurred and the aliens have basically dropped dead, meaning the final battle that Cage had spent the whole movie trying to fix doesn't even end up coming about, and he is the only one with memory of what happened. Cage goes to find Rita, who of course doesn't remember him, and the movie closes on Cage looking relieved and happy. You can just imagine that he's going to take her out for a drink, tell her what happened and they'll live happily ever after.
Now, for a lot of people, I can see this ending would have caused a lot of wtf-ery. For myself, only my previous experience with movies and TV shows dealing in time travel, and some thinking on my part meant I wasn't totally thrown. I have to say, however, when the movie initially finished, I did yell rather loudly "what the hell just happened?"
But, the theory I have is this: because the aliens controlled time, when Cage killed them and regained the power of time looping, their death happened outside the normal bounds of the space-time continuum, which is where they probably existed anyway. Still with me? Cage was dying when he regained the power, and I have to imagine one of his last dying thoughts was wishing he could go back before it all started. So though he didn't realize what he was doing (and since the power is never really explained in depth, this is just a guess on my part) I have to think that Cage sent himself back to an earlier point, well before his usual reset place, to a time before he was even told that he would be joining the battle front.
So, as I said, I ended up enjoying this movie far more than I expected. Though some hard-core sci fi fans might complain about the lack of explanation behind a lot of the story concepts, I was happy to go with it in return for a great character-growth story arc and understated but excellent undertones of romance. However, being an action movie, this was on the violent side, with too many different kinds of death scenes of both Cage and other characters to count. Not for the squeamish, but if you can stomach a bit of graphic violence and Tom Cruise, then I think this movie is definitely worth watching. I might even see it a second time!



Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Gluten Free Bread Recipe for Bread Machine -- Going All In

So after another two unsuccessful attempts at hand baking this week, which resulted in another loaf not rising and not tasting all that great, and a fourth (is it four now? I've lost count!) loaf tasting okay but crumbling to the point I couldn't even pick up a piece without it breaking apart, I went back to the drawing board, reading A LOT of articles and recipes from various sources about gluten free baking, the different kinds of flours, working out which were considered heavy, medium, light etc, and the other types of ingredients people used with successful results.
To make my challenge even harder, I was avoiding the use of the "easy" gluten free flours that are considered to be junk carbs. They have no real nutritional value and will spike your blood glucose level (like eating slices of sugar, really) after you consume them. This being rice flour, tapioca flour, maize flour and potato flour. I also wanted to avoid soy flour, because as someone who has had extensive issues with endometriosis in the past, I was advised by both my obstetrician/gynecologist after the birth of my 2nd kid, and by my naturopath that soy products have been proven to interrupt and interfere with the production and management of some hormones. For someone without hormone issues, soy probably might be a healthy diet addition. For myself, not so much.
Anyway, I was also trying to avoid using xanthan gum as a lot of gluten free recipes do. While probably not entirely unhealthy, I quickly found there were healthier alternatives, such as psyllium husk powder. I also didn't want to use eggs (a common ingredient in gluten free baking) as I seem to have sensitive taste buds and while I like eggs, I didn't want that eggy taste in my bread.
So, I wasn't making things easy for myself!
After much reading, research and consideration, I decided that I was going to employ the use of my bread machine for the next experiment. After all, doesn't seem much point of having it in my cupboard if I'm not going to use it anymore (I used to frequently put packet mixes of bread through the machine instead of buying a loaf until this whole gluten free thing started) though I was most worried about this experiment because I knew the bread would be more likely to fail in the machine if the measurements weren't correct.
But, I'm happy to say that my first from-scratch attempt in the bread machine was the closest to success I've had yet! I'm going to make some adjustments for liquid and baking time for the next round, but this bread was definitely a winner and we've nearly finished the entire loaf. I'll probably be making another tomorrow. Just before I get to the actual recipe, a side note, I have used oat flour in this, and for people with Coeliac disease, that technically doesn't make it gluten free. However, apparently the gluten in oats is slightly different from the gluten in wheat, so some people with NCGI (non-coeliac gluten intolerance, which is what we're dealing with in my family) are able to eat oats without issue. But don't just take my word for it, always consult with your doctor and do your research.
So here's what I came up with:

1 1/2 cups oat flour 
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup arrowroot (arrowroot is almost the same as tapioca, I know but they are technically different, sourced from two totally different plants. Supposedly, arrowroot is the better of the two health-wise)
1 tablespoon coconut flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons psyllium husk powder
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
2 tablespoons of chia seeds in one cup of water, left to sit for at least 30 minutes until they become gel-like
1/2 cup milk (I used goats milk, but a milk alternative such as almond or coconut should be fine)
130mls water
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil (or melted coconut oil)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1) mix the chia seeds into 1 cup water, whisk and leave for at least 30 minutes.
2) mix all remaining dry ingredients together.
3) mix all wet ingredients together (including chia seeds gel, which is the egg substitute)
4) add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and fold together until combined.
5) put in bread machine tin/pan and set machine as per machine's instructions.

Now, I have a gluten free setting on my bread machine, which makes things a whole lot easier. The only thing I will say is that the baking setting was not long enough, and my bread sank a little in the middle after I took it out. I was also slightly doughy still at the bottom, but only right in the middle near the paddle, so next time I'm going to back it for another 20 minutes. It'll mean my crust will be extra dark and crunchy, but I don't mind that, especially if it means the middle is cooked well!
So, I have found a gluten free mix for my bread machine that I'm very happy with. The next item on my baking list to conquer is scones!



Monday, July 11, 2016

Just Finished Watching... Red Dawn (2012)

I'll admit, I'm not much of a movie buff. Very occasionally I'll go to the cinema and catch a blockbuster, but it happens very rarely these days in my busy life. I will be making an exception when the new Star Trek movie comes out in just under two weeks.
But I do have Netflix (the much smaller Aussie version anyway. Maybe in like ten years our content will be closer to the US) and while I got it for the TV shows, I decided that I really should start watching a movie every now and then.
SO. Last night I picked Red Dawn. It was staring Chris Hemsworth. Need I say more?
Maybe its also worth mentioning that Thor is joined by Peeta from Hunger Games and Bobbi from Agents of Shield to create this kick-ass team.
Seriously though, the premise sounded interesting: "A group of teenagers look to save their town from an invasion of North Korean soldiers."
I have since seen online that a lot of reviews bagged this movie, and I have to admit, that Wired.com summed it up pretty well. "North Korean paratroopers descend on an American small town. U.S. military resistance collapses. Korean armored vehicles roll down the streets unopposed except for a band of heavily armed bros in hoodies."
However, most of these bad reviews pick at the fact that North Korea invading the US is completely ridiculous, enough so that viewers can't even suspend belief long enough to enjoy this movie.
For me, not having seen the 1984 version with Patrick Swayze, I had nothing to compere it to, and wasn't looking for any deep and meaningful commentary on the state of the world's military tensions. I just wanted to watch a movie where Chris Hemsworth walks around with a huge-ass gun generally looking hot.
And hoping to god he took his shirt off at some stage (side-note: he did not remove his shirt, much to my disappointment, though he did lift it up a little at one stage to get some stitches).
Anyhoo, if you can leave all reality of the might and invincibility of America's military at the door, then this movie isn't half bad.
Don't get me wrong, there were a few gaping plot holes, like if the town was so heavily guarded and locked down, how on earth did the teens keep managing to get in and out of town for supplies and an increasing stockpile of weapons without getting caught? And how were they able to just brazenly walk around and plant bombs everywhere without anyone noticing? Anyhow, maybe leave your logic at the door with reality and not think about anything much beyond how blue Chris Hemsworth eyes are. Seriously, what is up with that?
Ahem. Anyway, this movie is unapologetically violent and brutal to its cast of main characters, so its really not for the faint of heart (despite it apparently having a PG13 rating in the US. Sheesh, I wouldn't be letting my 13 year old watch this!). One thing this film definitely got right was the suspense. Almost right from the word go, it amps up the tension and leaves you (or at least me) clutching a cushion for the next hour and a half, waiting for the moment everyone is going to die. Because you just get that sense that there's no way they can all survive this, especially when they start actively attacking the invading forces.
Characters are killed off left, right and center, and usually just when you think they're safe or are actually going to get away with whatever suicidal plan they've come up with next.
Without giving away any spoilers, I guessed the outcome for Chris Hemsworth's character about half way through the movie, but the ending was rolled out fairly well, so even though it all finished pretty much how I guessed, the method managed to surprise me.
Oh, and one other great surprise in this movie: Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Ever since seeing him in Grey's anatomy (Denny, my heart still hurts over that) and as John Winchester (that time I was possibly more attracted to the hot guy's dad more than the hot guy [but it was Dean Winchester, who, let's face it, is the embodiment of every sexy bad boy hero out there. And since John got killed off, I didn't need to agonize over it anymore] ) I have been a huge Jeffrey Dean Morgan fan. I mean really, the guy pretty much turns every scene to gold.
So, I enjoyed this for the fact that it was a fast action and suspense movie. But its really not anything more than that, so if you can't get over the impossibility of the premise or can't ignore the plot holes, or can't stomach intense, continuous violence, then it definitely isn't for everyone. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Experimenting with Gluten Free Baking

Recently one of my family members was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, so we had to make some changes in our meal planning. We found a gluten free bread from a bakery that was very nice; delicious tasting and very bread-like. However, upon closer inspection, I found this bread was mostly made from tapicoa/arrowroot flour, rice flour, maize (corn), potato and soy flour. Depending on who you talk to, these can be considered the "bad" gluten free flours as they can make your blood sugar spike after consuming them. I figure this bread will be okay to eat sometimes, but not all the time.
I have always enjoyed baking, so I was very interested in seeing how I went baking with gluten free flours, which do not act the same way as wheat, and require different liquid to dry ratios.
So far, I've been fairly successful with biscuits, muffins, and cakes, but when it comes to bread and scones, I am failing miserably.
But, not to be defeated, I've been reading a lot of different recipes and articles on baking gluten free bread. I went to my local health food store and bought all sorts of flours -- teff flour, buckwheat flour, coconut flour, almond meal and chia four. Let the experimenting begin!
Yesterday, I attempted a buckwheat and chia bread, which completely failed miserably, though I forgot to take a picture of it. I had read that chia flour will soak up the liquid, but I think I over compensated a little too much, and the bread remained doughy no matter how long I cooked it. The non-doughy bits were only so-so in the taste department, buckwheat having quite a distinctive flavor.
Today I have tried a teff and coconut flour bread, with a touch of almond meal. In the taste department, this bread ticks all the boxes. Its really delicious, but the coconut flour gives it a dense, again somewhat doughy texture. I used yeast, baking powder and eggs to get it to rise, but this wasn't very successful. I put it straight on to bake, but wonder if I should have let it warm for an hour first to get the yeast to activate more.
At least I won't be throwing this bread out. Its a little flat, and yes denser than I'd hoped, but its very definitely edible.
Next time, I think I'll try less coconut, maybe add a small amount of buckwheat, and give the dough an hour to rise before baking. If I ever do manage to nut out a successful recipe, I'll definitely post it here to share.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Try it While its a Steal!

A little late in sharing this... but better late than never?
Until the end of May, Damage Control is one of the Kindle Monthly Steals books, price reduced to only 0.99c! So if you've been thinking about reading one of my books, now is the time to do it! Find it on Amazon.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Agents of Shield - 3x17 "The Team" - Thoughts While Watching

After my thoughts while watching The 100 3x11 was so easy and fun, I decided to do the same thing with Agents of Shield's The Team episode this week, simply because it had so much hype going, plus I heard internet rumors that someone was going to be outed as a Hive spy. 
Without further blabbing, here it is. Obvious spoilers and minor language warning...

1) *Previously on Agents of Shield* - That Aussie dude in the last ep was totally entertaining. They should give him a super power and make him part of the team!

2) *Skye/Daisy explains her plan to The Team to rescue Coulson and the others* - This plan is already sounding like a terrible idea that will only cause more trouble. Skye certainly seems to be all about the rushing-in-without-thinking at the moment... sorry. DAISY. Still not used to that. Don't think I ever will be used to it. Can't we just go back to calling her Skye?

3) The zephyr has a vault? Is that where they're all hiding? That plane really does have everything!

4) You really think none of the badguys noticed a wall exploding in Skye/Daisy? Yep, stealth is totally overrated.


5) Just have to say that Lincoln has the coolest power.

6) Uh-ho... Malick! So, Lincoln, what do you do when you stumble onto one of the head-honcho badguys Shield has been looking for?

7) Well, that rescue was almost too easy--  OMG Lincoln! Not the guy with the freaky eyes! Totally forgot about him-- can't watch--! *shudder*

8) Ward/Hive - "Now we have one on the inside."
Does he mean Malick going to the Shield base, or someone else?!?!

9) Joey clearly not taking the whole killing-a-person thing very well. Hello, can't anyone else see that???

10) Uh-ho, watch out Fitzsimmons, creepy-eyes dead Lucio is about to get creepier!

11) Malick - "You sent four inhumans into his lair and now they're in your base. How many of them do
you think he turned?"
So THATs what Ward meant. One of the super team has been infected... would have to be either Skye/Daisy or Lincoln. Wouldn't make sense plot-wise for it to be Joey or Elena.

12) *May slaps Lincoln's hand because she doesn't want pain meds* - LOL May, way to act like a five year old.

13) *Mack sees bomb missing from case he told Elena about earlier* - TOTAL misdirection. They want us to think its Elena, so clearly its not. Too obvious. For shock value alone, it has to be Daisy or Lincoln. Plus they'll get more long-term angst out of the storyline that way.

14) Oh crap! They blew up Fitzsimmons! YOU BASTARDS!

15) Love that Malick dying this way proves that the death visions aren't set in stone and circumstances can change the outcome... which means whatever Skye/Daisy saw won't necessarily happen how she thinks its going to.

16) Now the suspicion is on Joey. More misdirection!

17) OMG did Skye/Daisy really just call Lincoln Sparky??!!

18) Starting to really think its not Lincoln. He's so doctorly and concerned about an infected person getting out. That only leaves Skye, which makes a warped kind of sense. Esp since she just called him Sparky. That kind of low blow is a little out of character for her.

19) Yep, the infected person being Skye/Daisy would definitely have the most impact on the storyline.

20) OMG! What did Mack find and whose is it?!?!

21) Burn! Skye/Daisy totally screwed the super team and led them into a trap Coulson had made. Maybe its not her? So confused right now!

22) Someone is totally framing Lincoln. Its too easy. Come on, Coulson, can't you see it?

23) Oh holy crap. Lincoln is getting angry and sparky (pun intended from earlier insult). This is not going to end well. He still has the coolest power though!

24) *Skye/Daisy takes Lincoln out with her power* - Well, that's not going to be good for the relationship.

25) Joey - "I think I don't want to be here anymore."
Aw, poor Joey!

26) My feeeeels! Fitzsimmons, you are just too cute. Seriously, you guys are just killing me over here.

27) *Skye/Daisy turns up outside Lincoln's white cell* - OMG it IS Skye/Daisy!

28) Skye/Daisy "And you have trouble keeping your temper."
      Lincoln "You used that against me?"
Oh, Lincoln. Yeah, that hurts.

29) Skye/Daisy's betrayal of Lincoln is an interesting reflection/echo of Ward originally betraying her at the end of season 1. Love it!


30) OMG! Skye/Daisy, what are you doing??? She's not going to bury them alive is she?!?!

31) Ward/Hive called her Skye *squeee*

32) *Next week on Agents of Shield* - OMGOMGOMG! *hyperventilating* Ward/Hive with his arm around Skye/Daisy!! Bring it! 

Okay, so its hard to ship Skyeward (do they even call it that any more? These two have had so many name changes!) when its not actually Ward or Skye. Ward has been taken over by a psychotic organism called Hive, and Skye/Daisy has been brainwashed.
Still, I can't wait to see how Hive treats Skye/Daisy because of whatever residual feelings Ward had for her before he died. If nothing else, I believe that though he made a lot of seriously bad choices, and had a warped view of life, Ward really did love Skye/Daisy. If he can love someone selflessly for the right reasons, then I believe he's not beyond redemption. He just has an extra long and hard path to get back.
That being said, Ward is technically dead and gone, so how are the writers going to get around that little wrinkle?
My hope is that this will actually be the beginning of the path to Ward returning to the team and becoming a member of the family again. How could that be possible? I'm thinking Fitzsimmons can find away to kill the organism Hive. The unexpected result? While it kills the thing living inside Ward's body, it leaves the body alive. Then the easiest fix for everything Ward did to everyone in the past would have him being completely wiped -- no memories of who he was or what he did, leaving him free to become a completely new person.
Unfortunately, that plot line might be too pedestrian for the likes of something that Joss Whedon has a hand in. So I can't wait to see how this season wraps up, and how they're going to get rid of Hive but hopefully keep Ward around. They cannot kill Ward off. Even when he was at his worst, Ward was still more than half the reason I kept watching this show.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Just Finished Watching... Star Trek: Into Darkness

As mentioned in the last post I did about Star Trek, when I watched the 2009 reboot movie, I'd never understood all the hype around Star Trek. Not to conform to cliches or anything, but as a generation Y-er, Star Trek was sci-fi for my parent's generation, and I wasn't interested in getting anywhere near the "trekkies" or learning anything about Klingon.
However, with Chris Pike playing Captain Kirk, and feeling awkward about explaining why, as a sci-fi author, I'd never managed to see any Star Trek, I decided it was time to give the franchise a fair go. And, as I admitted in that last post, I did really love the new version. But with JJ Abrams (responsible for some great shows like Alias, Revolution, Almost Human, and those are just the ones I'm a fan off) behind the development, it was always going to be hard not to like it. The guy knows how to create edge-of-your-seat, holding-your-breath action.
Anyhoo, so I don't know why it took me so long to get around to the second installment, Into Darkness. Well, actually I do. Its 'cos I'm freaking busy! But anyway, after finally getting around to this movie, I have to say, I loved it even better than the first, and can only imagine the next movie, Beyond, due out in July this year, is going to be better again.
My reasoning for this (besides the trailer looking fricken' awesome) is that Into Darkness felt much more fluid, like the actors and production crew had settled into their roles to produce a really great movie. The villain of Khan was used really well, and it was interesting to see the back and forth between him being the enemy, to helping Kirk with a common goal, back to being the enemy again. It was however sad to see Kirk lose the man who had been like a father to him, and then have the entire Star Fleet kind of dismantled through killing important members and the admiral turning out to be the real bad guy.
I also have to say that Kirk went through tremendous character growth in this story (getting killed will do that to a person!) including his friendship with Spock dissected and put back together really well, leaving them with a new understanding of each other. So it will be very interesting to see where or how these changes continue into the next movie.
All in all, this was a really great sci-fi movie, which I've added to my DVD collection and will no doubt re-watch a number of times.
Whether you're a Star Trek fan or not, if you love sci-fi, then these movies should be on your watch list if you haven't seen them already.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The 100 3x11 "Nevermore" - Some Thoughts While Watching

My blog has been sadly lacking content or regularity lately, due to a lot of other commitments and a looming deadline. And its been so long since I've done anything TV-related.
Considering I was so excited about seeing this week's episode of The 100, being that the Bellarke reunion was finally about to happen, I decided to write down some thoughts throughout the episode, something similar to tweeting commentary, I suppose.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not totally blind when it comes to the Bellarke ship. Since Clarke walked away from Camp Jaha/Arkadia at the end of last season, the whole Clexa ship development of this season pretty much sank Bellarke... until Lexa's death in the past few weeks.
Now I'm not saying I want or am expecting Clarke and Bellamy to jump at each other within minutes of reuniting, but just a few meaningful Bellarke moments is all I need to keep me going, simply because they do have such great chemistry. I also think after all that's happened and all they've been through, at the end of the day, they ground each other. They don't need to be together romantically for me to be satisfied, they just need to be in the same place at the same time.
But onward to my thoughts as this pivotal episode unfolded...
(Minor language and obvious spoiler warning!)

1) Am so ready for a Bellarke reunion, but predicting it will be frustratingly understated.

2)a *Previously on the hundred* STILL can't believe they killed off Lincoln :*(
2)b Creepy red-dress Alie needs to get what's coming to her.
2)c CLARKE!

3) Until Jasper said something, I'd actually forgotten that he hated Clarke for killing Maya.

4) Bellamy - "What can I do to make this right?"
     Octavia - "Bring Lincoln back."
Ouch. Bellamy, its going to be a long, hard road to get back to Octavia.

5) OMG this is it, Bellamy and Clarke are going to be in the same screen shot... aaaaand... Of course.
Meaningful Staring.

6) This show is so good at exploiting plot tension, even when they're retelling us stuff we already know. 

7) So awesome to see the band back together -- Monty, Jasper, Octavia, Bellamy, Clarke, Nathan... and Nathan's boyfriend whose name I can never remember.

8) Ping! Light bulb moment. Clarke knows where to get a wrist band.

9) *Bellamy to Clarke* - "I'll go with you."
YES! The Bellarke adventures begin.

10) Ouch. The blows keep coming for Bellamy. Niylah's father killed in the Pike Massacre Bellamy took part in.

11) Bellamy is clearly not "fine" like he says, Clarke! Don't fall for that!

12) *Raven dislocates her shoulder to escape* - That is some freaky shit right there. Now we're getting to Walking Dead levels of barbarity. Also, Alie is now officially scarier than the Cylons.

13) Good thinking, Jasper, talking directly to Alie. He always was the smartest one.

14) Clarke always knows when and how to play her cards. Bargaining Raven's life for the AI chip is good
stalling strategy. Also, Bellamy classic WTF face.

15) *Jasper to Bellamy about Clarke* - "Guess she thinks Raven is worth saving."
Oh, burn!

16)a Bellamy giving Jasper a pep talk right now is all kinds of hypocritical.
16)b And Jasper totally called him on it. Although, what is this? Hate on Bellamy night? Guess he did kind of dig his own hole.
16)c Just have to say that I love the development of Jasper's character. Its sad what brought him to this, but really liking the darker and stronger elements to his personality now.

17) Watch out, Clarke, Alie is trying to psyche you out!

18) Just when I thought it couldn't get any freakier, Raven bit a chunk out of Clarke's arm. Def channeling the Walking Dead now! Also, EEEEWWWW!!!

19) DAMMIT CLARKE! You gave away the plan! Grrrr!

20) *At the drop ship* - This is not going to end well for Monty and Octavia.

21) *Monty to Octavia* - "You're one of the hundred.*
Good call! Monty is awesome.

22) FINALLY! Bellarke one-on-one moment. Now for some angst... Wait? That's it? Where's my angst dammit?!

23) *Back at the drop ship* Oh crap... where the hell is Octavia?

24) OMG Monty! Your mom is a cylon now! RUUUUUN!

25) Oh man... the Octavia/Monty's mom fight is only going to end one way. Someone is going to die and I have a feeling it won't be Octavia.

26) Monty, you should have let Octavia kill her. Would have been easier to hate Octavia than hate yourself.

27) Matricide... how much darker can this show get?

28) Sinclair is such an underutilized character. He's so great, I'd love to see them do more with him.


29) *Raven hating on Jasper* - Oh man, this hurts. Can't imagine what Jasper is feeling right now. Why the hell is Bellamy just sitting there? Shut her the hell up already!

30) Bellamy. Poor, sweet, unsuspecting Bellamy. You're about to get verbally bitch slapped.

31) Love that Bellamy saying sorry to Niylah is an echo of Clarke saying sorry to Jasper earlier. Really
great balance/symbiosis.

32) OMG now they have to get the rover battery? AH! The tension! Also, why the hell didn't they just use it in the first place instead of going all the way to the drop ship? Are they going to use both?

33) You shoot that drone, Bellamy! Shoot it good!

34) Nope, apparently they're only going to use the rover battery. Okay writers, let's just gloss over the fact they didn't need to go all the way to the drop ship after all. Maybe no one will notice.

35) OMG RAVEN WAKE UP!

36) Oh no. Poor Monty. Realization suckage.

37) Oh damn, I just got the worst feeling that Clarke is going to split and go off on some quest to find Luna. Bellamy DO NOT let her walk away again!

38) YES! The original team is finally back together and going to kick Alie's creepy artificial ass.

I can't even imagine what the writers have in store for us in the coming weeks.
Right now, my wild guess is that Clarke will decide to take the Grounder's commander chip herself to get the answers they need to stop Alie. Either she'll find a way to become a Night Blood (and thus inadvertently the next Heda of the Grounders) or she'll decide to take the chip even knowing it will kill her because she's not a Night Blood. And she'll justify the self-sacrifice by needing to make things right for what she did at Mount Weather. But this will also impact Bellamy's guilt over Mount Weather and the grounder massacre. Either way, I'm sure there's a lot of dark angst coming our way!



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Lost A Month...?

So somehow I managed to lose a month on this blog and not post anything, which doesn't bode well for my commitment to blog more regularly in 2016. I have no idea how we got to March already, all I know is that I've been super busy behind the scenes.
Once I got into 2016 and looked at my goals, I realized some changes had to be made and took a rather large leap (maybe gamble is a better word) to make an adjustment in the direction of my career. It wasn't easy, and the process itself was rather stressful, but in the end I knew it was the right choice. For now, until things are completely settled, I'd rather not say too much on the matter.
In other writing news, I've been doing edits on the 2nd Atrophy book, Quantum, which will be coming out in August. In the past few weeks, I negotiated with my editor and publisher to slot the third Valiant Knox book, Cover Fire, in toward the end of the year. At this stage its looking like it'll release in November, but that's not set in stone (or contract) yet, so it could change. Of course, I haven't actually finished writing it, either, and with the 1st of May deadline coming up quickly, I'll be writing my fingers to the bone in order to get it done.
Otherwise I've got the 3rd Atrophy book, Diffraction, to finish writing, which is due for release in January 2017, and decided to go back and take a second look at a Young Adult sci-fi book I wrote back in 2014, called Salvation One. I'm hoping that in the coming months, I might have some exciting news to share in regards to that manuscript.
So, yes, 2016 had a very crazy start, and for the foreseeable I'll be a little snowed under, trying to play catch up in order to release 3 books in the latter 5 months of the year after August, into January 2017. I keep telling myself that after all that, maybe in 2017, I won't commit to so many projects and get so crazy... but I'm probably fooling myself!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Just Finished Reading... These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Megan Spooner

Overall, this book was really great, don't get me wrong about that, and I will definitely read it again at some point in the future once I'm finished with the series. But it started off at an 'oh my GOD' level of awesome, with the ship crashing and working out how Tarver and Lilac were going to survive, deciding to get to the wreckage, and all the expected angst. Although the characters were 17 and 20, so you would have to expect some of the usual teenage inner monologue, I actually felt like this was one of the best YA/NA books I've ever read in terms of the characters not getting in the way of themselves, or descending into whinging annoyingness. I feel like Tarver and Lilac handled themselves pretty well considering the circumstances, while staying true to their characters.
But somewhere between Tarver recovering from an infection and the end of the book... I'm still not quite sure if it just lost me, or the story lost momentum. Whatever happened, the result was the same in that the end left me feeling a little deflated. The ending was definitely original, I'll give it that, but it almost felt like it was in a completely different tone to the first half of the book. It also felt a little rushed, like the build up kept increasing and then the end just happened in a blur that stopped a little suddenly. Nevertheless, this is still by far the best book I have read in over a year, and I truly wish there were more sci-fi books like this on my bookshelf.
From a technical side I thought the writing was flawless, easy to read, paced wonderfully, keeping me immersed, and thankfully, my pesky internal editor switched off. 

I can't wait to read the rest of the books in this series, and hope they will continue to be as fantastic as These Broken Stars. 
Also, this is another book I would love to see made into a movie. 
Oh, and one last thing... How gorgeous is this book cover? I'm pretty sure that's going on my list of best book covers ever. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Top That: Rewarding Start to 2016

So I have been very slack in compiling some good news in regards to my books the past few weeks... one book in particular: Atrophy.
I always felt and hoped that Atrophy was different from anything else I'd ever written, and hope this is just the beginning of many milestones.
Onward! Atrophy closed out the year by making several lists on Goodreads. The two most notable I'm going to mention today are "Best New Sci-Fi Novels You've Never Heard About" where Atrophy is currently sitting at number 5, and "Best 2015 Sci-Fi Romances" where Atrophy is currently sitting at number 4. Damage Control also made the best new sci-fi list, hovering around 10 at the moment.
These made me excited enough, but earlier in the week, when the annual Sci-Fi Romance Galaxy Awards were announced, I was blown away to find out Atrophy had won an award in round 2, given the title of the "Keep Me Up All Nighter."The judge's final comment was "I knew I would buy the rest of the series, should there be more books. No doubt at all. These are the best new characters of 2015 for me."
I had checked out the Galaxy Awards in previous years and discovered some great new sci-fi romance authors, but it never even occurred to me that any of my books might make the list this year.
Finally, while I entered Atrophy into the Aurealis Awards myself (which is the biggest speculative fiction award in Australia), I also found out a few weeks ago that it had been nominated for a Ditmar Award, which is the biggest science-fiction award in Australia. I'm up against some really big-name authors who are like pillars of the Australian speculative fiction/science fiction world, but its still great to be in the running and see my name sitting there next to theirs. Both awards are announced in March, and even without winning, it would be a thrill just to get shortlisted!
So Atrophy has made a great start to 2016, and with Quantum and Diffraction coming out later in the year, I'm excited to see what the next twelve months have in store!