First Contact

The Chaos Station website has a page of extras that includes playlists, excerpts, interviews, trivia, and cut scenes from the series. Some of the links have expired, though, due to the sad disappearance of many review blogs. Because I dislike the idea of lost links, I thought I’d repost some of the missing content here, on my blog!

First up, I have an exclusive excerpt from Inversion Point, the fourth book in the series. Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t read this far in the series, reading this excerpt will spoil certain developments in both Zed’s character and his relationship with Felix.

To view a full list of excerpts and extras, visit the Chaos Station website

Continue reading “First Contact”

Read Uncommon Ground for FREE with Kindle Unlimited

If you’ve ever been curious about my books, now is a great time to try one! Uncommon Ground is now available FREE on Kindle Unlimited for US subscribers of the KU program.

Uncommon Ground was written as part of the Felice Stevens’ Memories with the Breakfast Club Kindle World, which brings together two of Felice Stevens much-loved series and a number of m/m authors. You can check out the rest of the series here.

Unfortunately, these books still aren’t available internationally. Until they are, I’ll be giving away a copy of Uncommon Ground every month to a random newsletter subscriber. For your chance, sign up!

UG Kindle Unlimited

Continue reading “Read Uncommon Ground for FREE with Kindle Unlimited”

Stories Waiting to Be Told

Have you ever browsed stock photo sites? There are some ridiculous pictures posted there and I often wonder what the photographer was thinking. Obviously, they were setting a scene with the hope it matched a story waiting to be told – probably by an advertising company or a journalist. Because nuns praying to fish is a thing, right?

But when I’m not giggling over implausible scenarios, I’m collecting another type of stock photo. These ones are, well… They’re book covers for the stories I haven’t told yet. It’s kind of annoying, to be honest. Because as just about any writer will tell you, ideas aren’t hard to come by. We have notebooks and files full of them. The stories that come from these ideas are less abundant. The time to write these stories? At a premium. I’ll never get to a quarter of my list.

But, hopefully, I’ll get to at least one of these:

the-hand-1172231The Hand

The door has just been closed, but whoever is on the other side with her has given them a moment. He’s let her touch the window, just once. Is it because he knows it’s the last time they’ll see each other? Is the gesture cruel or kind?

Where is she going? Why? That’s the story I don’t have yet, but this photo suggests something sinister. Interrogation? Experimental gene therapy? Prison?

Maybe she’s going willingly. Maybe she asked for this moment, knowing it would be the last one. Or, maybe the shape of her hand is a symbol.

 Here, Now

This stock photo is tagged passion. I…don’t see it. I can see the tension. This kiss is a spur of the moment thing, but it’s more meaningful than hormonal, in my opinion. It might just be that the models were asked to pause before their lips connected, but in that pause is the story. The distance between their faces and the stillness of their pose. They’re in a public location, but their posture is fairly relaxed. They don’t fear being caught out in this kiss. Their connected at several intimate points – the hand on the thigh, a hand around the back of the head. There is a possessiveness to both gestures, and familiarity. This is a couple, but maybe not one well established.

So, maybe this kiss began as a passionate impulse. Then, as they drew close, something else intruded. A realisation that this moment was about more than the kiss. It was about them telling the world they’re together. That they’re intimate. That their feelings are something they want to acknowledge and share.

Footsteps

It took me a while to figure out that wasn’t snow. Before I did, though, this picture begged for a story. Why is this woman out there without the proper gear? Has she been abandoned? Or has she escaped from a remote facility. Once thing is clear: she isn’t going to get far. The shadows are long and with the night, any lent by the sun will disappear, as will her compass.

Any stir of wind will erase her footprints, hiding her trail. This is good and bad. In the event someone is following her, it’s a good thing. But it also makes it hard for the good guys to find her, and if she can’t look back along her trail, how will she find her way in the dark. She has to keep moving, remember? It’s cold. Even if that is sand, it’s going to be cold – but traveling at night will protect her from the heat of the day.

Where did she come from and where is she going? I don’t know, because I’m probably never going to write this story.

I Heart LA

I nearly bought this image to use for “Graduation”, the short story Jenn and I wrote for our Chaos Station series. The clothing wasn’t right, though, and my Photoshop skills aren’t up to all the other changes I wanted to make, such as modernizing the city skyline and changing the letters. Adding another figure.

But there is a story here. It’s separate from the letters this guy is writing in this picture. Change those words and this could be about anything. Is he writing a name? Is he giving a clue to the code? Maybe he’s been possessed by aliens and he’s writing equations against the night sky as if it were a blackboard. He could be solving the theory of everything.

Or, he could be pointing to a bird, a plane…Superman. Or a UFO. He could just be really, really drunk and imaging there’s something there.

I really like the idea this picture is a celebration, though. It just has that vibe. Maybe he has just graduated and he’s writing his new name in the sky. Or maybe he’s dancing and what he’s writing isn’t important at all.

I have close to a hundred other stock photos saved to favourites folders, though, and some of them…some of them are calling. They’re weaving their stories for me, even as I write this post. I just hope that when I get around to writing one of them, the image hasn’t already been used by Stephen King or something. Or in a Buzzfeed quiz.

Review: Zero World by Jason M. Hough

Zero World

I didn’t actually read the synopsis of Zero World when I requested a copy for review. I had enjoyed Jason M. Hough’s Dire Earth series so much, I figured I’d like anything he wrote. I also hoped this would continue that story. I was wrong on one account and right on the other. Zero World introduces a new story and universe, but it’s just as compelling as Hough’s previous novels.

Peter Caswell is an assassin. He has a switch in his head, that when flipped, allows him to act almost without conscience, knowing that when he completes his assignment, he will be reset, forgetting any atrocities he may have committed. He begins each job as a rookie – remembering only his training and whatever skills he acquires in between.

His latest assignment will be the most interesting one he will ever forget. A lost spaceship has been found. He is sent to investigate and discovers it is full of bodies. But one crew member is missing, as is a landing pod. Caswell’s switch is flipped and he’s sent after her. In a second lander, he follows a preprogrammed course through a wormhole. On the other side he discovers a planet that looks just like Earth – except for the huge scar of craters across the middle. This duplicate planet only looks like Earth, however. Their culture is heavily influenced by this cratered scar which divides the continents into North and South. They speak English, but with market differences. They dress differently, and he cannot stomach any of their food.

Tracking his quarry in this alien landscape is already a test of Caswell’s skill and adaptability. He also has a time limit. He will reset in just fourteen days, six of which will be required for the journey back through the wormhole. If he forgets why he’s there, he may never get home.

This book is divided into four parts. I devoured the first part. Futuristic assassins equipped with techy gadgets set upon intergalactic mysteries? Sign me up. The second part was a little tougher to read. Hough introduces his second principle lead, another spy named Melni Tavan. I liked Melni and through her, formed an appreciation for the thought the author had put into creating the duplicate earth. Everything was just off. A different culture, a different social norm. For instance, women are dominant and men usually wear their hair long. It was like reading a book with 3D glasses. The focus was a little weird.

Eventually, Melni and Caswell run into one another, complicating their respective missions. Then, in the third part, THINGS HAPPEN. The truth of it all is revealed and it’s pretty cool. In the fourth part, Caswell reverts, forgetting everything, and he has to rely on Melni to complete his mission. What he doesn’t realise is that his mission parameters have changed.

Overall, I enjoyed Zero World. It was new and different. Caswell and Melni were extremely likeable characters. I did wonder when Melni was going to properly react to all the killing, but I did enjoy her propensity toward planning. A woman after my own heart. Caswell’s situation came with a lot of build in sympathy, and when he discovered the truth, I was fully invested in how he’d overcome the lie of his existence.

My one issue with Zero World would be with the overwhelming number of action scenes. The book is exciting in that Caswell and Melni are constantly running for their lives. But not a lot of plot elements hinge on these sequences. I got a little bored reading fight scene after fight scene, particularly as the plot is actually fairly simple. The magic lies in the big reveal, which could have come a little sooner, I think.

Still, it’s an entertaining read that introduces a diverse new universe, and while Zero World does work as a standalone novel, there is a lot of story left to tell.

Written for SFCrowsnest.