Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Forgiveness and Courage in Real Life

Someone wrongs you - maybe speaking about you in a bad way, or taking what's yours, or breaking their promise - and of course your feelings get hurt. It happens to us all, one way or another. In The Calling it happens to Valin and to Mertyl, and much of the story involves how they deal with their hurts.

The hardest hurt can be when it's someone close to you that wrongs you - a parent, a sibling, or a close friend. I remember when I was about 7 or 8 or 9 having some terribly loud, door-slamming arguments with my older sister over terribly small things that I can't recall now. And I get on very well with my sister now - when she's not rolling her eyes at what I wear or the odd things I do... ;-)

Where does courage come in? Both Mertyl and Valin have need of it when facing the Vreymak raiders, but another form of bravery comes when they have to let go of their anger and forgive. After all, when you're angry with someone who's wronged you, you just know that they don't deserve to be forgiven, and that they owe you a big apology. Why should you let them off the hook? Why can't you show them how it feels, and hurt them just like they hurt you? Wouldn't it make you feel better?

No. Just ask Mertyl about that. It doesn't solve your pain, and you won't get back what you've lost.

Courage, in this situation, is letting go of your hurt and refusing to let it rule you anymore. This way, guess what? You win! That's right. Release the other person from your anger, and tell them about it. Who knows? They might realise what they've done and make it up to you, or they might not. But at least you won't be weighed down and tormented anymore.

You'll be free.

It might be that you feel you don't have what it takes to forgive; you just can't. Then you need help from outside, from one who is always prepared to help and to change you a bit more into the person you should really be. He's just waiting for you to call.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

What's in a name?

As part of my ongoing quest to make my writing as good as it can get, I'm renaming a major character. (Can you guess who?) I joined a facebook group of writers and several strongly felt that this name sounded more like a pharmaceutical product than someone a reader could identify with and cheer for throughout the ups and downs of the adventure.

On reflection, I have to agree. Thing is, I don't buy that many drugs so it didn't have that connection in my mind. And I doubt that many of my readers, aged around eight to thirteen, would think, 'Ugh! Sounds like medicine!' But for those for whom it would create a bad taste in the mouth, here goes...

I formally rename Merratol as...   Mertyl.

I hope you'll continue to make her welcome in The Calling, whatever her name is.

Mertyl. I'm not used to it yet. OK, what does that remind you of? Any associations? Maybe a Welsh mining town? Or a trademarked variety of roofing material? ;-)  I don't know. Maybe 'Valin' sounds too much like that other drug, whatsitsname...

Anyway, you can see the immense power of publishing on the internet. I can upload an updated version of my manuscript for free, at any time, both to Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace, so that the ebook and the printed book reflect the very best that I can do. The CreateSpace book does become unavailable for about 48 hours while the file is updated and reviewed.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Free again!

From this Thursday (November29th) until Sunday, The Calling will be free at Amazon Kindle. Go ahead, help yourself! If you like science fiction and you're somewhere around the age range eight to twelve or thirteen, it might be the thing for you. Or if you have kids at that age, get it for them.

Also this Tuesday The Calling will be advertised on Young Adults Promo Central   including an interview about the book and the writing process.

Happy reading! And remember, if you would like to write a balanced review of the story on Amazon, that would be a service to other maybe-readers and to me as well.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Selling Books in Thunder Bay

So finally a box of 25 copies of The Calling arrived on the doorstep a few days ago. And despite my doubts about the printing quality, the covers and insides look terrific. Thankyou CreateSpace!

I've started talking to the book shops in town and expect to have at least one book signing sometime in the next few months. Sorry that I can't be any more vague than that!

Anyway, it means I can spend a few minutes designing a poster to use at such events, and to display wherever the book's sold. Victor Habbick's artwork crackles and flames off the screen! It's a pity that the copy I ordered for him has my original home-made cover on it! Is that artistic license or poetic injustice? I can't decide.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Young Science Fiction

While I'm waiting for the first delivery of The Calling in print, here's a review of another young readers' science fiction author. It will be brief, since I haven't yet read a whole book of his!

Sigmund Brouwer is the author of a significant series of young-reader science fiction, as well as many novels for adults. His Mars Diaries stories were published some years ago and have been updated by the author and re-released as Robot Wars. They feature a physically disabled boy named Tyce who lives on a colony on Mars. He learns to use a mind link to control robots and takes part in some amazing interplanetary struggles. Actually I did skim-read one or two of these some years ago when they were still Mars Diaries, but then we had to move house and move continent and I couldn't fit them in the suitcase! I hope I can buy the series for my sons who are just the right age now.

The stories are thought-provoking. Sigmund Brouwer is a great writer, and he brings out all the character struggles and conflict very well. Search for them at Amazon or start at the link above. I hope to be able to write as well as he does... when I get the time!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Calling : on a screen near you...

OK, now I get to write one of those "The Making Of..." special features you find on the second DVD in the case. ;-) Basically, yesterday I saw on Twitter a web page dedicated to publicising indie authors' promotional videos. And it was a free special offer. What independent author can refuse free publicity?

But the issue was time, not money. I had to go out in a couple of hours, to keep a number of appointments I couldn't put off or miss. So I rushed into the video-making business, planned a script, ran out of time...

...Finally finished it today and uploaded it, much shorter and simpler than I'd envisioned at first. This was mainly because I checked a few of the other authors' clips and saw what kind of thing was popular. I'm now all revved up to produce a more in-depth, chatty thing where I talk to the camera about the story. But don't hold your breath!


By the way, the breathtaking new image you see in this video, and that now graces the covers of the Kindle and print editions, is by my new friend Victor Habbick, a professional photographer and artist who lives in Scotland. He kindly produced the image of the crashed space fighter in exchange for a copy of the book! He claimed that his wife will take it into the school where she teaches and read it to the children, but I think he might have a peep between the covers himself. Anyway, a BIG THANKYOU, Victor!

And the music soundtrack is borrowed from the astounding Celtic Christian folk-rock band Iona and their album The Book Of Kells. I've emailed the band for permission to use the 45 seconds of music but received no reply so far. So I haven't published the video on Amazon yet.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

THE CALLING : Science Fiction for free on Amazon Kindle!

So I have The Calling, this great adventure story about Valin the average nomad, who has to rescue the man who saved his life. It's the sort of science fiction story I would have read in my pre-teen years, I think, if I had heard about it. I'm working hard on the publicity side of it these days, learning the best way to tell people about the novel.

Amazon Kindle has this program called KDP Select which allows authors to promote their book for free for up to 5 days out of 90. I'm going to try it out on Monday October 8th and see what it does to the book's rating. The idea is that there are large numbers of cash-strapped readers out there who are hunting for free reads. I have to admit I've been there and tried it! Then, when lots of them download the book, its rating climbs. Then, after the free period, others will notice the book more and be more likely to buy it.

Science fiction is a funny thing. A writer is constantly inventing things that don't exist, and may never exist, spinning yarns that sound more plausible than their cousins in the Fantasy department, but still, the more startling and even shocking a story is, the better it may catch on. I admit that The Calling is not especially shocking: very little gore, no teenage vampires, no nauseating aliens dismembering their tranquilized victims. Instead I hope that The Calling portrays realistic characters caught up in events way beyond the normal routine of life, and discovering inner resources and inner conflicts too. The way they resolve those conflicts may help some of us think through how we can resolve our own messy lives. And I trust that enough readers will appreciate this side of the story to tell their friends about it.

We'll see. Do you want a free e-book? A pre-teen (mid-grade) science fiction story? Visit The Calling at Amazon Kindle on Monday October 8th. The promotion starts at midnight, US Pacific time, which is about 10am UK time. It runs for 24 hours. Maybe we'll meet up there.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

More on Valin's Log

I remember reading The Lord Of The Rings and wondering where elves came from, and what happened to King Aragorn next, and who lived in all the spaces on the map of Middle Earth, and what adventures you could have if you wandered off the eastern edge of the map...

Then I discovered books like The Silmarillion, a collection of stories building up the history and folklore of the main story. So that answered some of my questions. Painting a broad and colourful backdrop to a story is a great thing to attempt, and I'm amazed at how much Tolkien accomplished.

I hope to construct just such a foundation for The Calling and, eventually, the Beyond The Elder Stars series. You can find what I've done so far if you click on Valin's Log to the left of the screen, under 'John's Handy Links'. Be sure to explore some of the worlds that Valin has heard of under Star Catalog, although he mainly writes down the stories of travellers he's met in Elmara City. To catch a glimpse of a few of the spacecraft he knows about, visit Tech Specs. The other two side-buttons fill in some of the big blank spaces in the planet Elmarune's history and geography.

It's a big project I've set myself. Please be patient and forgiving as it slowly takes form - I'm doing it in my spare time. And I'm not giving everything away: Valin doesn't know much at all about the Inborls, and at this point has never heard of Drokstrak or Elha. In fact, at this point even I don't know very much about the Inborls...

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Hold THE CALLING in your hand!

Here's where you can find The Calling as a print book - the CreateSpace e-store. Pardon my efforts at customizing my page, but that's all it seems to be able to do. From there, though, you can order a copy of the book. As soon as I get paid for some work I did last month, I hope to order some to sell around town (and give away to the important people in my life!)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

New Feature: Valin's Log

Now that The Calling is an ebook and almost a print book, I have a few moments to throw in some more content. 

Imagine if you could look over the shoulder of the main character of the story, and follow him or her off the page and into their everyday life. What might you discover? What if you could borrow Valin Derojan's private journal and find out more about the world he grew up in?

That's the aim of Valin's Log. I will add to it gradually, as I have time, and your comments are welcome. Does it add colour? Is it too dry? Do you have ideas of what you'd like to see there? As a guide, I'm writing it as if Valin's still living with his family, a few chapters into the book, before the Winter Market incident changed everything. Then, when I get round to writing Book Two, Valin will find the time to add to his journal all the new things he's learning on his adventures.

Click the Valin's Log button to the left of this post, near the top of the page, and see where it takes you! Remember, it's a work in progress.

PS... You can find the button for Valin's Log on the left, above, but here's the link again:

Thursday, 13 September 2012


Now The Calling is finally published and available as an ebook! In a few days' time I hope to publish it on CreateSpace as a print book too. I've had a full day of work, helping a friend re-roof his house, and I need to sleeeeep! See you later....

And here's the link to The Calling at Amazon Kindle

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Real science amidst the fiction!

More excerpts from 'The Calling' which is (honestly!) nearing the end of its last revision. I think science fiction for any age group can be liberally spiced with real science to feed the mind. It makes the fiction more solid, too.

Then he turned the SHF receiver dial and listened for the space communications traffic he occasionally heard during his flights, usually as he was approaching Elmara City. He loved to hear the chatter of pilots coming in from deep space to Elmarune's only orbital station, known by the call sign E-One. Even the shuttle pilots making their scheduled lifts and drops in and out of Elmara City could be interesting to listen to. The best reception of these microwave signals was at the lower end of the band, up to 10 or 15 gigahertz, since at much higher frequencies the moisture in the atmosphere tended to spoil the signal, and the voices of the flight controllers on the ground would fade in and out....

He powered off the radio and pushed the MR-65 into a steep climb. Before he engaged the return-to-base autopilot he wanted to do a little flying. Heading east, the interceptor shot towards the outer reaches of the atmosphere. The planet rotated towards the east, and heading that way meant Valin was already travelling at great speed. Elmarune was boosting him into orbit. The cockpit shook, and the details of the land slowly disappeared into haze. He spared quick glances outside, and otherwise kept his eyes on the instruments: hull temperature still rising as the airspeed increased, reactor field strength steady, exhaust temperature normal, magnetic heading 83 degrees east; then altitude, atmospheric pressure, vertical acceleration, angle of attack, pitch… there was plenty to watch. His eyes flicked back and forth, constantly responding to the ship's slow drifting by adjusting the power or the steering yoke.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Excerpt from 'The Calling'

"No excuses," said the warrior, baring his teeth, "it's you, alright. The call is for you. Your scan matches the profile we were given." While he was still speaking, a cluster of slim steel shapes like fish streaked out of the distance towards him. He merely held up his other hand, without looking over his shoulder. The air seemed to ripple like a silk flag, and the missiles were rudely scattered, some exploding on the ground, some tumbling away out of sight. "Stand up like a man!" he went on. "The honour of your people is at stake. Your honour!"
Valin just began to edge away from the glowing man, sliding along on his rear, along the base of the boulder, and shook his head frantically. Honour! What use was honour to a man who thought he saw silver angels? As much use as a jewelled crown to a child who sat in the mud, lecturing the birds.

The final edit of The Calling is being squeezed in between all sorts of other work! But it should be finished and released in the next few weeks. The cover art is ready... I'm pretty happy with it, after quite a few hours using an application called Paint.NET. The image reflects a scene or two from the story. Here's a preview:


Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Towards The Calling ebook...

After much busy clicking and making some short ebooks on Smashwords (and now Amazon, Kobo, etc) I'm aiming at putting the Calling out there as an ebook too.

Have I given up getting a publishing contract? Yes, for the time being. Breaking into print via a traditional publisher isn't happening, and it sounds like it happens very rarely for new writers. So the ebook way I get my story read by some people, and I will explore CreateSpace at Amazon so it will be available also in print.

Watch here or at my Amazon author page for the e-release. Estimated Time of Arrival... next month?

Monday, 26 March 2012

About Writing

If you're in North-Western Ontario and would like a visit by an author to your school, club or other group, then I'm willing to look into it. I can present a simple session on the basics of writing, and can include some of the science in science fiction writing. I can read extracts from my writing, tailored to fit the age group and interests of those attending.

If you're in another part of Canada, we can talk... I like to travel, but Canada is so BIIIG!To get in touch, email me at the following address (I am not writing the complete address to avoid spam, so complete it yourself, without any spaces)

If email doesn't seem to work, try leaving a comement on this post.

rjpeace  'at'  fastmail  'dot'  fm

Friday, 23 March 2012

'The Calling' is born!

Valin Derojan, a young nomad, must steal an orbital interceptor and take on a whole cruiser full of merciless space raiders. He's trying to rescue the man who saved him from certain death, and regain his lost honour. Along the way he must face his fears, control his runaway thoughts and forgive his domineering older brother.

His headstrong younger cousin is seeking revenge for the murder of her father and stows away. Now he must protect her too! But wait a moment, now who's saving whom? 

In the process of the rescue, they are enlisted by an elusive band of freedom fighters and catapulted towards a galaxy-wide struggle between good and evil.

The Calling is a gripping 26-chapter novel for children around the age range 8 to 12. It's a complete story in itself, but is also intended to be the first in a series of stories, each of which ramps up the scope and the stakes of the conflict. 

The Calling focuses on the need to control one's thoughts, face fears and weaknesses, and to brave the challenges of growing up.

I've just finished writing it, so now comes the challenge of finding a publisher. Writing a three-page synopsis of the whole thing was quite a task, requiring me to be a 'genius of compression'. Watch this blog for details of how to get hold of the published book.