Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Fanta Claus

Here it is: An early Christmas prezzie for my readers:

Free on Smashwords:


It is a little-known fact that Santa Claus has a younger brother. Fanta Claus, however, is a mess. When one year he is called on to stand in for Santa and deliver the presents, this can only spell trouble.

  (Cover pic is by me - I didn't feel like waiting for a design or trying to find suitable, free usable images. Pardon the roughness of the design, I'm an amateur not a cartoonist, but it is in keeping with the covers of "The Racing Finn" and "The Family Pool". However I suspect my 'reindeer' is a moose. Never mind. Randalph the button-nosed Reindeer is mess too.) Enjoy! (The rest of my shortstories is at this link: - many are free too:


Monday, December 5, 2016

Updates on Solar Wind and the other publishing endeavours

It's been a month, a crazy month with still moving house, renovating, fixing things, sorting things... and full-steam studio work, with 2x exam sessions, 2x prep for studio concert (it had to be moved due to storms), and us closing next week with a Ceilidh.  In short, life's crazy right now.

Federi and the crew have been quiet - real quiet.  He doesn't even want to tell me about his young days in Southern Free right now - possibly he's giving me space to get everything else done first.  I'm going to post "Fanta Claus" on Smashwords; see if I can't get the visibility cranked up a little.  I need to complete "A Friday Fairytale", but there is an aspect missing.  I must also complete "Shooting Star" and get it ready for publication; but not before we've published "The Pourne Identity" by Douglas Pearce, on Honeymead Books. Honeymead is an ebooks only site.   The book has a new cover by now and is being revised, but that process has been taking a backseat to everything else happening.  It has not been an easy year.

So the most recent of the Solar Wind series is still "Nix Romipen".  Here is a taster for the "Shooting Star":

The Shooting Star
Lyz Russo 

((C) Copyright: Lyz Russo, 2016)

“ … for we’re pirates, pirates,
Freedom is our highest law
Shackle us, chain us, you can’t hold us
We’ll see you again on the ocean floor.”

(Excerpt, Pirate Shanty, probably from the late 2050’s)


“Earth can’t emerge!” Sarcasm dripped from the voice of the Great Vaughn. “They are idiots! And they’ve proved it! The first thing they did was eradicate two emerged species.”
“The Council has indeed declared them emerged, o Great Vaughn,” replied Aris. “And the Rapacins are eradicated, but the Moozils are merely genetically altered. They are not predatory any longer.”
The leader stared hard at his messenger, a hand covering his thin-lipped mouth as he considered. At two metres twenty, the tall, slender humanoid with a slightly dusky tinge to his deathly pale skin stood a good head taller than his underling. His eyes moved from his messenger out over the vast expanse of darkness. Vaughhi eyesight extended from the infrared side of the spectrum right into microwaves; because on the planets they had evolved, many things hunted at night, but there was no light as there were no moons.
The Great Vaughn could determine the distaste for the situation in his subject. Aris didn’t care for Earth’s emergence any more than he did. An emergence, he thought, or an emergency? Oh dear!
“Well,” he decided with an icy smile, “if they are emerged, let’s put them to the test!”


An eternity away, in a distant galaxy, nearly another universe, one much closer to Earth than the Vaughhi worlds of Valleylon, the same happy news reached the ears of the Emperor of the Threxes.
Threxes had no sense of humour. But they tried, every now and then. It had to be that the original Earth juice was still flowing somewhere in their veins, albeit very diluted. Most jokes ended with missing limbs.
“What?” The Emperor laughed. “Earth, emerged? Surely you’re joking.”
“I wouldn’t dare,” said Jocande, who was small for a Threx. “According to Corvick the Green, Earth is emerged. And there’s an Earth human on the Council.”
“No,” said the Emperor disbelievingly, swishing his spiked tail. “On the Intergalactic Council?” But if Corvick the dragon, who was a Council member, said so, it had to be true.
“Yes, Sire or Equivalent. And another position on the Council was offered to a second human.”
“Which that human turned down.”
The disrespect those puny creatures were showing! Malinor’s tail was switching from side to side. A huge wave of rage was boiling in him. Jocande slowly started backing away. Attempted humour wasn’t the only misdemeanour that resulted in missing limbs, or even death.
“With your permission, o Highest One,” he said, bowing low, all the while keeping a slit pupil trained on his monarch.
Malinor drained his goblet of life essences. He threw it against the wall, where the solid, heavy metal goblet chipped another bit out of the rock. The life essences, distilled from the heart-blood of fifty fliers, left dark-red splatters on the rock.
“Two Earth humans on the Council – and not one of us!” He smiled angrily. Jocande shuddered, viewing his ruler’s vicious teeth.
“Jocande,” ordered Malinor. “Go back to the Council Meet and find out as much about these creatures as you can! They don’t even have fangs, by the Fires! How can they hope to stand their own? How can the Council keep them emerged? How can they protect themselves?”
“Yes, o Emperor,” said Jocande hastily and made his getaway.


Solar Wind Log, 19 May 2117

Astounding Peace and Quiet! All projects are running smoothly. The Unicate didn’t retaliate against us for Federi blowing their mound apart. Lim is well-behaved – he grew to adult size within two weeks, but without his mound directing his thinking he is very impressionable. Michelle is looking after him.
Calypso Base is flourishing. Shawn and the gypsies are helping Michelle turn it into a thing of beauty. They are gaining land by the week. Lim is working hard, and seems to be enjoying it. I suspect he was supposed to be a worker in the Mound. It’s his programming.
Mindy Adamson and Keenan Quinlan are under the supervision of Itzak, up at the Space Base. They are helping with the construction of the new sectors there. That place, too, is looking good. Old friend Radomir, you did well! The Seafloor Base is growing; so is Island Base. And surprisingly, Las Village. They should have named it after Paean! I had no part in that one!
Ronan and Rushka have built a new co-house for themselves, the Schatz family, and Dana and Johnny, on Tortuga in the Caribbean. They seem happy. Rushka certainly never complains. The men appear to do all the kitchen duty; she reports that whenever they try to get the women to cook, she prepares them a goulash. This ensures that the men volunteer to take the duty back. I don’t understand the logic; Rushka’s goulash is very good, it’s the one dish she can actually cook!
The Tzigan and his wild bird aren’t aboard; they’re on an extended honeymoon, right after I thought they were back! But I’m beginning to wonder if the constant unrest has to do with the man’s bad history following him about like a mongrel dog… Ha! Here my thinking is going Cigany-way! Rampant superstition!
Federi invited me to a drink last week, teleported in and fetched me. He has built a casino on water on that crater the IRP made of his land. This explains why he and Paean needed such a lot of time off. I tested some of his machines, and it doesn’t seem as though they are weighted. But perhaps it’s only my beginner’s luck. His smile got a bit sour after a while.
The Intergalactic Council invited me to sit in as representative for Planet Earth. They offered this position to Federi first, as Prince of Earth (originally Falco’s joke, but our Tzigan is now perpetuating it) and he actually turned them down! The man is unbelievable. To be offered such a position of political power… in any case, I’m happy to take it in his stead. They meet once in a while; there’s a meeting scheduled for tonight. Not too serious a schedule if I compare it with my own plans for meeting with all my bases, the Admiral, the various leaders of the various countries and international associations, and so on. Endless red tape! Nevertheless Dana advises me that these initial meetings are extremely important, to learn the ropes. Once I’m ready, she tells me, I can then take over all the ropes and ignore any further meetings. Sounds good to me.
Things, in summary, are going so smoothly that I wonder at times what all the fuss was about in the past!

Signing off
R Lascek (Pirate Captain and Commander of Earth)

1: Back aboard

“She’s actually floating! I can’t believe it!”
Paean’s cynical little remark was ringing in Federi’s ears as he took his position in the galley, stretching all his limbs so they crackled. Stretching the sunshine of a six-month holiday out of them. Activating nerves that had been so laid-back they had nearly gone to sleep. His fingers tingled.
At least he had Paean with him. And as long as the young Irish musician was by his side and loving him the way she did, he was never really back from his honeymoon. His mind still basked in the many dreamy hours they’d had together.
Back to work. Ha! Such a lot had happened, it was like a step backwards, retaking what he’d always been doing. Stuffing good food into crew on the Solar Wind. His mind twisted and bent, trying to get back into the old frame – and found to its surprise that it couldn’t. It had outgrown the role. But the job description was simple enough; his hands organized his workspace for him while he decided to ignore his mind and allow it as long as it needed to reunite with the menial tasks his body was carrying out.
Cooking; cleaning; quartermastering, stocking up the ship, going through the supplies and organizing them, fixing anything that was broken aboard, directing the croaches – the little cyborgs on six legs that Paean and Wolf had created from roaches so that there would always be enough ‘hands’ to do the dirty work. And of course, his round... pacing through the whole ship, checking that everything was in order and nobody was adding poison to the drinking water. He’d be doing that again, right after getting lunch on the go.
Paean was right. The old ship was in fact in the water; currently in the southern Pacific, at the height of the Tokelau island group. Paean had wondered why Captain still bothered to plot routes and lay courses; why he didn’t just move the ship to destination by her Perdita drives. Every so often the Solar Wind would hop across to Calypso to check on things. They’d had that experience when they wanted to check in on the Solar Wind during their honeymoon.
Federi had spent some time with his young wife on a commandeered yacht. Paean had realized at that point that yachting just for two people was a lot of really hard work. Federi chuckled softly as he remembered how she had thrown herself into it with full enthusiasm at first, but had slacked off after two weeks. He hadn’t hauled her over the coals too much for it. She was his whole treasure. He thought back dreamily to all the things they’d done, all the places they had seen, all the new experiences. It had been wonderful.
So why were they back?
Because Paean missed her brothers. And because the Solar Wind was their family. Tzigany cut off from their family were – fragments. Sad drifters. In danger of becoming outlaws. Ha!
The world was still infested with Unicate. Falco’s curse was still not resolved, because once Federi had established that the Mound was actually aware but that the Unicate Others were genetically hundred percent human, he’d lost his grip on how to tackle the whole problem. There must be countless mounds – how to find them all? And he’d survived pioneering into the depths of one and destroying it from within; but this didn’t mean that he’d survive it as often as he needed to! Another approach had to be found; but his mind had stopped there and decided that a holiday was in order.
But the threat was not the same any longer. It was now easy to teleport out for a while and forget about all that. They even had Calypso to plant and terraform. He almost understood Dana who had simply moved away and established her civilization on a faraway planet called New Dome.
Not on his left foot though! Earth was his planet. He had a birth right. His children, too, would have a birth right. How was this, allowing some aliens (because despite the human genetic code of the Unicate Others, still he could think of them as nothing else) to take over his home planet and allow them to drive away the native inhabitants? The days of the Unicate were numbered; large numbers, he supposed, but still.
And furthermore there was no way – no way! – he was going to sit on that hypocritical Intergalactic Council. Captain didn’t get it! The Council had tricked Falco into selling out the Earth.
He peered at that pile of unpeeled potatoes that sat on the Ironwood table ogling him. No Rhine Gold aboard to take over peeling; no Johnny Anyhow either. Shawn was aboard; but he was catching up with Paean, in the Crow’s Nest. His little girlfriend Nica, who was fire dancer Juanita’s little sister, was up there too. Federi wasn’t going to disrupt the Donegal sibs’ reunion with a potato peelery.
Oh well. Pasta was a perfectly good substitute for potatoes. They said it was healthy, especially if you were Mediterranean. Healthy for the cook, thought Federi as he put a pot of pasta on his gas cooker, because it cooked in minutes. Much less effort.
His gaze wandered out of the porthole into the Great Blue, and he remembered. Why he was here. What the Solar Wind meant to him. How he was an eternal slave to Earth’s oceans. Amazing how one could travel space and realize how small and fragile the Earth’s ecosystem was – and how un-unique… and still feel as though the galley of the Solar Wind, The Ocean, The Earth, was the centre of the Universe. Perceive the here and now as “The World”.
He’d done a round of the Solar Wind, first thing on returning; but he’d been so inconspicuous and habitual that it hadn’t elicited more than a couple of casual greetings from people who hadn’t realized that he’d been away. Anyway he had visited the Solar Wind for a round so darned often during his honeymoon… there was no way he could get out of the habit of worrying about the crew! Too many things had happened. Besides by now he was convinced that there was a morphic echo of himself running around the ship checking on everyone.
Vlad the Morrigan flowed into the galley.
“Ah! You’re back aboard!”
Federi nodded at him. “And yourself? Immortal as usual? Recovered fully?” The shape-shifting alien had had a near-lethal collision with some of the Intergalactic Council’s greatest crooks.
“Perfectly. So is Virian. And Jitanali is settled into Shrn. Suits me, she can keep a little eye on the planet. She likes it there.”
“Good! Hope they like her there too.”
“That’s an interesting point,” said Vlad. “The Were Folk were never asked.”
“They’re a bunch of cowards,” said Federi through his teeth and carved away at a potato. “They deserve a great predator for a Keeper.”
“Technically she’s not the Keeper of Shrn, I am,” Vlad pointed out.
“I know, I know.” Federi shoved a potato in the alien’s direction. “Care to peel, Vlad?”
“I don’t do potatoes,” said the Morrigan of Shrn haughtily.

Federi eyed the head that had emerged from the potato. The Romanian delegate. IRM guy who had viciously opposed all the Tzigany laws – or rather, freedoms – Captain had instated. Federi chopped him up into little pieces and added him to the stew. And remembered that he had meant to make pasta instead. He chuckled and shook his head. His hands were on autopilot.
“You’re dangerous,” commented Vlad with a grin.
“Uh,” said Federi. “Where’s Captain?”
“Off to a meeting with the Council.”
“I come back aboard and resume my duties,” grumbled the Tzigan, “and he’s not even here to see it?” He smiled. “Who’s on the bridge?” Jon Marsden was at Calypso Base. Old Sherman Dougherty was up at the Space Base, keeping Mrs Flanagan company as she held school with the gypsy children. Perdita – well, she was in the habit of accompanying Captain. So the chances were about even…
“My word!” grinned Federi. “This happens a lot?”
“Count the crew,” advised Vlad.
The Solar Wind jarred. Federi stared at Vlad, electrified.
“That was an impact!”

The Solar Wind sounded alarm: There was a leak in the machine room. Paean came bolting down the passage. “Federi, what’s happening? There’s this ship outside…”
“Why did nobody say anything?” thundered the Romany. “Like, ship ahoy or something stupid like that?”
“We didn’t see her, Federi. She was just suddenly there.”
“Right!” He stormed up to the bridge, Paean right behind him. “Virian! Move over!”
The younger Morrigan was panicking. Federi leaned over her and punched a sequence into the console.

The raider captain’s eyes flew wide open.
“What are they doing?!” The quarry was lifting clean out of the water. She headed their way.
The small raider craft cut a sharp U in the water and fled. The Solar Wind, however, caught up, no matter how they turned. She positioned herself right overhead. All they could see was the white hull. With portholes in it. Portholes! In the bilges? What on Earth for?
They had not been fully informed. He hissed softly through his sharp white teeth. When he got back ashore and got hold of that man who had sent them into this trap…
He stared at the white Zephyr, hovering above them. Surreal! And effortless, keeping such perfect pace that both ships appeared to be motionless against the moving backdrop of the sea. He’d believe that his engines had failed if it weren’t for the bow wave.
Hunting and rip-fishing in these waters had been good business. They didn’t only trade their catch with money but with favours. But this, bounty-hunting… the fact that it was considered dangerous, had sold him on the idea. He loved danger. But this exceeded what he knew about ships, and what he’d been told about the Solar Wind!

Vlad flowed onto the Solar Wind’s bridge.
“Fine defence tactics,” he commented. “Dripping on them.”
Federi smiled grimly. Outside the sun set magnificently. Nica, out on the deck, raised her clear eyes and stared at him, frightened. Gypsy girl, he thought. Amongst the pirates. Poor kid. He moved out onto the command deck and gestured to her to get below the deck. Shawn, in the rigging, threw him a thumbs-up with a grin.
Aw hell, didn’t the boy get it? The Solar Wind was under attack! Just because they could get away in the blink of an eye…
The ship had just suddenly been there?
Paean had gone through too much training and sharp situations to miss the presence of an entire ship! Federi commanded the Solar Wind to move aside a little and gazed down at the ship. A Unicate Pursuer. He frowned as he peered at it. An abused pursuer. That poor hull had been through the mill. In the wrong hands, anna bottle! But she was still a beauty; speed was written all over her grey compounding hull.
Well, that grey could be coated with another colour of reinforced compounding. Navy blue, thought Federi with a smile.
“It’s your karma, Federi,” commented Vlad behind him. “No sooner are you aboard, and they attack us!”
“Right!” Federi laughed. This was a superstition that had long hounded him; at times he wondered if there were some truth to it. He turned to Paean. “Little luv, brief Nica. She’s a pirate now, like it or lump it. And take charge of Shawn. And take the bridge, understood? Federi’s got some business.”
“Be careful,” she pleaded, moving towards the console. “Take backup. Pick me!”
He kissed the tip of her freckly nose. Vlad looked away, turning green. Virian gawped, her lilac eyes popping out of her head for a moment. Federi ignored both Morrigan.
“Backup is good, little luv. But I need you on the bridge, in charge of the Solar Wind.”
“Whoa, Federi,” Vlad cut in.
“She’s more qualified than your little girl,” retorted Federi before the Morrigan could finish his thought. “Virian! Come. Need backup!”
Paean’s blue twin blinked, her eyes once again doing the stalk-eye trick. “Me?”
“Don’t worry, girl, I’ll brief you!” said Federi. “Paean, is Wolf aboard? And Ailyss?”
“Exactly,” argued Paean. “If you don’t want me along, at least take Ailyss! She’s your second-best backup.”
“Need a Morrigan for this,” said Federi. Vlad’s mouth opened and closed. “Keep him in line,” commanded Federi, pointing at the Morrigan. “Come, Virian!” He led the way down to the deck.

“I don’t like it,” growled Paean.
“Neither do I,” agreed Vlad with a Dracula smile. “She has no experience with humans! They might shoot at her!”
“She looks like me,” grumbled Paean. “In principle. But prettier. Her colours are better.”
“What?” Vlad was floored. “Paean, I’ve been studying humans a long time now, and they don’t generally go for aliens!”
“What?” Paean laughed cynically. “How long have you been on the Solar Wind’s crew? And turquoise is his favourite colour!”

Federi moved down the rungs, followed by Virian.
“Why aren’t we actually teleporting?”
“Sick of teleporting,” said the Tzigan. “No art to it.”
“You actually enjoy this kind of thing?”
“Live for it,” grinned Federi. He was on the lowest rungs now, just where the waterline would usually be. He tied his new neosilk rope to the rungs. “Virian, you look too cute. Not good enough. Try a bit more vicious.”
“What do humans associate with vicious?” asked Virian, her lilac eyes stretching enormously in innocence.
“Come on,” laughed Federi. “You’re a predator! You can do it!”
“I don’t like intimidating my food,” said Virian.
“Okay. Let’s try this. What scared you most about Anthrim?”
“I get it,” said Virian and grew a mouth full of really vicious teeth.
“Better,” said Federi. “One more thing. Come here.” He pulled a red cloth out of his pocket and waited for her to bring her head of turquoise hair closer, hooked his elbow around the rung and tied the cloth around her head gypsy-style. “You’re a pirate now, see. Got to dress the part.”
“Thank you, Federi,” said Virian, touched.
“And now we go.” He uncoiled the rope and let it drop down to the Pursuer.
“They’re pointing guns at us!” objected Virian.
“More fun,” said Federi as he slid down the rope.
“But Federi, Paean said –“
A round zinged past Federi’s ear.
“Don’t let them shoot you,” he yelled at Virian and let go of the rope, jumping down the last two meters onto the raider’s deck.
“Federi, shouldn’t we-“
“Backchat all the way,” commented Federi, staring into a ring of machinegun mouths. Behind him Virian dropped down to the deck too. “So! Bon jorno! Who’s the Captain on this fine vessel?” He glanced about the Pursuer. Only one hitch. She had no sails. Federi liked sails. Especially after pulling that one on Anya Miller there before Hamilton. Well, retractable solar sails could be installed, he was sure of it.

One of the scurvy sailors moved forward. These weren’t Unicate in any way. Not Unicate Others; not human Unicate military either. They were wearing dirty tatters that looked as though they got their wash in the sea, on occasion. There was no specific pattern to their dress code. And their captain – he didn’t even wear a cap! What was the point in “captain” – the Tain wearing the Cap – if there was no cap? Captain Radomir went without one at times, but mostly he wore his smart ex-Unicate military looted cap with the beautiful Skull-and-Crossbones emblem. Well, that had been replaced before the Peace Talks with an image of Planet Earth.
“You’re the Captain?” asked Federi, incredulous. “Do you even speak – er – a language?”
“Glenn Wilson,” hissed the hulk. “Captain Wilson Glenn!”
“So what comes first, the Wilson or the Glenn?” asked Federi with a quirky lift of his eyebrows. Cor!
“The Captain,” snapped the big man. Federi sized him up. About Wolf-sized. Age maybe an early thirty. Blond – oh hey, never! – mousy brown filthy hair hanging in tangles that reminded Federi of seaweed. The sun finished setting, taking the blond out of the mousy brown. The rest of the crew, five of them, stood shuffling on feet that were bare but looked as though they saw more water than deck. These were basic fishermen! The left corner of his mouth lifted.
“So what are you fisher folk doing on a bounty hunt?” he probed.
“You are Radomir Lascek?” asked the fisher captain.
Federi laughed. A vivid image of him captaining the Solar Wind into Hamilton Harbour, into a nest of Unicate Stabilizers, flashed past his mind. No, he didn’t want to be Captain Lascek, not ever...
“You’re not Lascek,” snapped Glenn Wilson.
“No,” agreed Federi, “but I have a message from him.” He fished for S.I. Lucy in his shirt pocket. The faithful little Special Issue croach had accompanied him and Paean all the way on their honeymoon, running little errands and sorting minor glitches, and occasionally bringing some helpers to clean the yacht or the Tzigany World Casino. He handed her to Wilson, winking at her.
She bit the bounty hunter.
“Shoot them!” barked Glenn Wilson.
It took the fishermen a second or so to comply. They’d never make good pirates, thought Federi as he rolled and teleported. Virian flowed out under the sailors’ feet as they tried to shoot after her.
To the bilges, he ordered her telepathically. Disable every device you can spot.
Yes, sir, she replied.
Did they get you? asked Federi.
No, sir. Did they shoot you?
I move too fast, replied Federi. He took his surrounds in. He was belowdecks, in the passageway on the only crew deck. The Pursuer only had one. He dug in his pockets. He still had a few of those exploding balls of Paean-virus. In the meantime Wolf had made more; he was sure of it. He moved up to the slightly elevated bridge from inside, and back onto the deck, and flung the ball into the confused heap of sailors that were milling about trying to figure out where he and Virian had gone.
The fishermen swooned to the deck. S.I. Lucy teleported back onto his hand.
He walked up to the unconscious Glenn Wilson and hauled him up by the scruff of his neck. The guy was heavy. There was no hauling him. Federi enclosed him into his teleporter field and teleported with him to the bridge of the Solar Wind.
Virian, bring the rest of them!
“What’s this?” asked Paean.
“A present for Captain,” said Federi. “For when he’s back.”
“I think, it must go in the boardroom,” said his wife with a smile.
“And by the way, little luv,” he informed her, “turquoise used to be my favourite colour. It’s my second favourite now. And only when you wear it!”
She smiled. She’d forgotten that the man was a blasted mind reader. And he could hear her thoughts as loudly as though she were speaking them.
“So what colour is your favourite now?” she probed.
“You are.” His eyes wandered compulsively back to that Pursuer on the console screen. “Dark blue,” he added pensively. Virian teleported in on the deck with five unconscious hostages; he didn’t even see. Paean watched him in bewilderment as his gaze stuck on that ship.
“Federi -?”
“I’m in love,” murmured the gypsy.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Launch: Nix Romipen (Solar Wind 6) on Smashwords

Today, 'Nix Romipen' launches on Smashwords.

nixromipen-finalRomania. A place of harsh contrasts; dangerous and beautiful wilderness; a silent invisible people. This is where Federi was born; and this is where he takes Paean in their breakaway from the Solar Wind, their bid for freedom. But Federi is hunting big game now. He is going after the Unicate, once and for all. The old gypsy curse of Falco is singing loudly in his blood, and he has to finish it. Whether it meets with Paean's approval or not. Too many have died; and despite Captain's politics, the Unicate still exerts its rule of terror in this remote, half-forgotten country. As he goes after the Unicate, tracing the secret of the Hounds, something larger is tracing him, though. The trip of the Solar Wind into space has alerted some ancient forces. Federi and his best partner, Paean, trade places as he follows Captain back into space while she finds herself in the depths of a Unicate mound, with an unexpected ally, a Unicate "Other"...

Review by Roughseasinthemed:

This is another great read in the Solar Wind Series by Lyz Russo. Although the sixth in the series, Russo manages to continue developing the original characters, introduces new ones, and adds unpredictable twists and turns to the plot. Add to that, the location is always changing, on the earth, on the sea, in the air, in outer space. In Nix, Paean and Federi face their troubled pasts, visiting Paean's former home in the poor parts of Dublin, and Federi's homeland in Rumania and try to unravel fur ...more

This is the sixth volume in the Solar Wind cycle:

sw-seriesA mostly teenage crew of motley pirates sails the Earth's oceans on a freedom ship, the Solar Wind. Their Captain Radomir Lascek is not only a wily old sea-devil, but also a politician with a big picture on who should take over the Earth... and then the solar system... and what hey, how about the neighbouring world... and overthrow the intergalactic forces that be... The Earth is infested with an uncanny military world government, the Unicate, costing countless human lives. They don't seem entirely human; their decisions and actions run contrary to anything one would consider normal. Radomir Lascek doesn't have a solution for the Unicate. The best he can do is rescue precious people and keep them safe. But aboard, he has someone who holds the answers: The mysterious gypsy, Federi. Except that Federi has a split personality... swseries6

Reviewed by:

Roughseasinthemed ("unputdownable") Silver Threading ("hopelessly in love with this series") Bestchicklit ("Can't wait to be adventuring with Federi again") Fran Lewis (" it will keep you spellbound, alert, terrified, inquisitive and more") ... and more.

For those of you who need to catch up on reading the rest of the series: Special 30% discount on books 2 - 5, only for the next 3 days, in celebration of the launch.

Here they are (you put them into the correct field on Smashwords as you purchase the books) :

  • 2: The Assassin: HZ83Z
  • 3: Freedom Fighter: RAE75
  • 4: Raider: CF73X
  • 5: The Morrigan: PV94L
Enjoy! ~ gipsika ~

Sunday, September 4, 2016

This is so sad...

Editing "Valleylon", the second in the Shooting Star series.


Blue breakers on the white beach.
It could be worse, thought Paean as she woke up to Savvalon’s deepening dusk. Metal prison planet, for instance. Or, cold deck with Hydras. Or, chained up on Federi’s bunk…
She sat up and noticed the violin case next to her. With a short note, written by Virian into the sand.
“Brought you this,” it read. “Can’t hang around, duties waiting, sorry, my human sister. I’ll be visiting you, a lot. Vir.”
That was fine. Paean opened her violin case and plucked pensively over the strings. The beautiful instrument was in good condition despite all the space travel. This spoke volumes for the equalizing systems on all Earth’s space structures, especially the Shooting Star and the Comet.
Her gaze fell on her ankle, where the pretty silver chain still hung that Federi had given her. “To remember whose side you are on,” he had said. Not a true gift; a hateful chain, a handcuff. She ripped it off and launched it into the waves. She didn’t want to think of Federi now.
“Hello, my new planet,” she said to the world around her, then stashed her violin safely in the Comet and made herself a sandwich, took it out onto the beach and ate it, gazing over the sea.
She had missed this. She watched the birds that coursed over the waves, catching fish – or, she’d better presume it was fish, she thought. Birds? She dug her mini-binocs out of her moonbag – nearly burning her fingers on that moonbag, she’d have to find something else to carry things around in – and trained them on those birdies.
They looked like large seagulls. But dusky-grey, and a bit more robust, with the wing-body shape nearly a triangle like in a pterodactyl. And their beaks had teeth.
They danced over the waves like bats! She trained her spyglass on their catch. Gosh, those fish looked like dolphins! Weird place, this.
She made sure she was armed with her submachine gun, the Paean Special that F… that she had acquired while in the Solar Wind’s service. If one of those came a bit too close…
It would be nice to have a guitar of sorts right now, and a camp fire. She trailed around the beach vegetation, finding dried-out twigs and vines, and a single medium-sized branch that had washed up. It was bleached and dried out, typical driftwood. She piled everything into a heap and set a light to it using her laser pen and her binoculars, the way F… the way she had learnt during her training.
Those Vaughhi had a few more surprises coming. She had primed Virian to keep her updated; and she had programmed S.I. Lina to find her way through space, through the portals in one of those mini space suits that Wolf had designed for the special issue croaches. So that she could send messages to those who did care, and find out what was happening to her planet.
But S.I. Lina was here with her, right now, sitting on her knee munching on a crumb Paean had placed there for her. The little croach was loaded. She’d taken a load with her. Who the sire was, was a mystery, as all special issues so far were female. Perhaps an ordinary roach, in which case Paean was in for a merry time. She rolled her eyes.
Well, she wasn’t going to sweat the small stuff right now. She picked up S.I. Lina, instructing her firmly not to offload in her pocket, put out the fire again to keep for later, and went to the Comet. Reconnaissance time.

The village was small and dusky. There was only one inn; and strangers were unheard of. Paean had her Unicate whip with her, and her spray bottle, and of course she could teleport simply by asking S.I. Lina. Her original teleporter and her wrist-com had been taken off her by F… that idiot who couldn’t even throw a Black Widow spider off the ship when he saw one. She had still been meaning to take revenge on that girl; but she’d ended up taking revenge on Federi himself. Because, if she had to be dead honest with herself, that was exactly what hanging out with a handsome young guy all day on her birthday had been about. Somehow, that thought acted like a fizzy cleaner tablet for her brain, removing the cobwebs and confusion. That had been the crux of the matter.
She’d kiss him again, damn that. Her mind ran to the handsome young Vaughn and she envisioned it; and felt the stab of anger and revenge that accompanied that imagined kiss. No. It wouldn’t be fair to Galamer, because it wasn’t for him. Nobody would ever be able to replace… scratch that thought, she told herself angrily. She was heartbroken now; but it would fade. And nobody would make a concubine out of her!
Paean walked through the streets on her comfy deck sneakers, silent as only a gypsy could. She observed the Vaughhi in their dusk-time activities; here a mother was taking clothes off a line, there, some people – elderly or a young couple, she couldn’t tell – sat peacefully on a bench talking softly. No moozling going on anywhere at all. No slaves in view, either.
She’d have to stepwise replace every item Federi had organized her, with an item she picked for herself. She’d eventually throw them all into a box, to open only once a year if she was feeling sentimental. And even that would fade away. She had, after all, worked on the Solar Wind, exchanging fair work for pay; and she’d also been lucky and found a shipwreck, most of which treasure was still stuck in that squat chest of drawers in the Captain’s Cabin of the Shooting Star. That should fetch a pretty price anywhere. But most importantly she could play gigs. If she really needed money. She had other skills; surviving in the wild, for instance. And helping people not die from injuries. Opening portals and closing them down, awakening planetary hearts. Speaking Intergalactic Common. If she thought about it, a career in high politics here on Valleylon… but she’d be too visible. Galamer would find her and return her to Earth.
A Vaughn addressed her in that bird-language. She listened with all her telepathy, but failed. That was a problem.
Sorry, I can’t understand you, she called in Intergalactic Common. Do you speak Earth?
“You’re human,” exclaimed the Vaughn. “Poor lost little slave! What are you doing here?”
“Not a slave,” muttered Paean, her hand clamping around her dart gun. With her valeriensis in it.
“How did you get to Savvalon?” asked the Vaughn and beckoned her closer. “We don’t keep humans here! What happened? Were you left behind on your master’s vacation?”
Paean wondered if coming to the town had been such a great idea. She touched S.I. Lina, ready to teleport away.
“I’m Paean Donegal,” she introduced herself. Perhaps if the village could get to know her, it wouldn’t be such an issue.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Exclusively for readers of THIS blog: 100% discount coupon on Arcana

I want to see how many people who read this blog, like free ebooks.

So here is a discount coupon exclusively for this blog, valid until 23 September (that's my baby's birthday), giving you 100% discount on the urban fantasy "Arcana".

Here's the coupon code:  KL77U


The Light Path; the Dark Path.

When Ivy Pennington, a sensible, intelligent young woman, plummets head-first into the occult, her biggest problem is trying to explain that she is simply not interested. Soon the storms of dark magic rage around her. She has a teenager to protect; a family member to dodge; a lot of explaining to do, to both her boss and the police. And sometimes it's easier to flick a careless little spell than try a lot of explanations.

But what will these little spells end up costing her? As Ivy tries to stay one step ahead of the dark path crowd and their underworld horrors, she learns a few harsh life lessons about what one sends out, coming back threefold.

A fast-paced read peppered with humour, deadly intrigues, magical khazam and a bit of romance.  

Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

3 unexpected Reviews!


The Family Pool
Available for download at Smashwords:

Reviewed by for Readers' Favorite

Mary Jenkinson’s marriage to John Adams was more than she bargained for. The Family Pool by Lyz Russo is an excellent short story of family drama, mystery, and intrigue. Mary found out that once you married into the Adams family, all that glittered was not gold. Even though John appeared to be the man of her dreams, his family legacy held a deep dark secret. On the outside the family possessed wealth, but on the inside there were rules and regulations that all family members obeyed in order to maintain their lifestyles. The family ruler and patriarch, Uncle Daniel, called all the shots in the family, from where the members would live to that of the in-laws. Mary reveals to the family, by mistake, that she's pregnant and begins to wonder upon this announcement what all the whispers and disdain are about. What Mary did not realize is that by her being pregnant she was violating the family's laws of order.

I enjoyed reading The Family Pool by Lyz Russo because not only was it a great story, but Lyz was able to deliver the story, plot, and ending all within this short read. If Alfred Hitchcock was alive, I believe that The Family Pool by Lyz Russo would be one of the stories that he would chose for his mini movie series collections. If you do not like the original ending, Lyz has offered an alternative ending that you may enjoy. I personally liked the original ending because it added an element of suspense to the story. However, the alternative ending can be used as a sequel. If you like family drama, mystery, and suspense tales, get a copy of The Family Pool by Lyz Russo. I am sure that you will enjoy it.

The Mystery of the Solar Wind:

The Mystery of the Solar Wind by Lyz Russo
Available at Smashwords

Roughseasinthemed's review
Aug 27, 2016

really liked it

I really enjoyed this imaginative, creative, futuristic pirate story. But it's so much more than just a pirate story: dark governmental controlling forces, relationships, genetics, and a total sense of adventure. Russo's characters are great and totally credible. I was surprised how long it was, and there were very few errors for such a long book, so I just dove right in and enjoyed the ride, or, sail.

The Assassin:

The Assassin by Lyz Russo
Available on Smashwords

Roughseasinthemed's review
Aug 27, 2016

really liked it

This was a fantastic sequel to The Mystery of the Solar Wind. Action-packed may be a cliché but this book was full of action, emotion and nail-biting moments. Loved it from start to finish. Our favourite characters develop more, and happy endings for good people don't always win out so there is gritty realism.

Why not five stars? Well, if you are going to write in Spanish, it's a good idea to get it right. There were errors. And, there was some repetitive phrasing that should have been tightened up. And some silly little proofing errors. Understandable in a long book. Also, I got lost with the assassination targets. The numbers seemed to change. What happened to the ones in Hong Kong?

Otherwise, it was a top notch read, recommended. 


What did happen in Hong Kong?

Now we’ve got him,” said Sandringham. “Locate that signal!” He punched a few coordinates into his hand-held console.
Bad publicity for us though,” replied Fu. “The man is clever.”
Genevieve smiled sweetly. “We don’t need publicity.”
He’s outsmarted himself this time,” said Reverend Smithler. “We know where he is now.”
Who is he anyway?” asked Genevieve. She was the youngest of the Inner Circle. The youngest – but one of the smartest, thought Fu. The stepdaughter of the Reverend. She came up with ideas that even the Inner Circle found cruel! She was also highly active in the Eradication Squad. Fu didn’t trust her too much. One of those. He also wondered if she didn’t already know the answers to each question she asked – if everything she did was a front. But the Reverend had sponsored her – so she was in.
This man who keeps breaking our forces! Think he’s dangerous?”
As hell,” replied Sandringham. “Radomir Lascek. Old pirate. But he’s become blasé. We’ve got him now. Thought he could con the whole Unicate.”

Genevieve eyed Sandringham, running a pink tongue over her well-pampered pink lips. He thought Radomir Lascek was the threat! These little clubs the old men had were amusing; it was fascinating just how ridiculously wrong they could be about the facts.
The door opened. Genevieve glanced – and realized her error. A semiautomatic discharged a single burst of four bullets. Around her, the three men collapsed to the floor, lifeless. As her own life leaked away, she acknowledged every last mistake she had made.
Number one. She had let him get away out of the garden. Number two. She had followed him and his bonded double instead of quietly making a dash for terminating them, by any means, even ordinary means, in the grasslands. Her native curiosity had prevented her from taking action. Number three. She had thought him amusing – underestimated the Bane. The old legend was true! She had failed to trigger the Clans in the Hub, out of pride. Number four. She had failed to alert the entire Unicate the second he had stolen the Peeping Tom. Out of fear, by then. And the worst mistake of them all: Number Five. She had told nobody that he was on the prowl. They might have protected her.
This body was finished. She sighed. She’d have to wait. This was taxing.

Federi pocketed his gun and glanced guiltily at his young partner-in-crime.
That was it,” he said. “End of Federi’s list!”
Paean stared at the four fresh corpses. Their souls hadn’t understood yet. She glanced at Federi. Hell, he didn’t look good! His face was grey.
Hate terminating girls,” he said, studying that young woman on the ground. Paean peered at her. She looked a bit familiar. “She was one of those… others, those sharp ones, added the Assassin. “Like Anya Miller. And that Dahlia. This one’s bin following us since Miami. We lost her when we stole the Peeping Tom.”
Gosh,” emitted Paean, shocked. So that was why he’d been so badly on edge there in the Hub?
There’s something about them,” added Federi. “I don’t understand it. The rest of them are – window dressing. Unnecessary killings.”
No, not exactly. Filthy criminals, dictators and so on, murderers like that creature in Honolulu… but…”
She gazed at him, his transparent brave face… 
The day I understand it,” he said, “Federi can give the Unicate another shot. Meanwhile…”
She shook her head. “No more killings for you,” she said decisively. Federi laughed softly.
Then how am I supposed to keep you safe, starshine?”
With the sleeping virus,” she replied.
Federi sighed. “All this was terribly bad for you!”
I’ll be fine, Federi. And you?”
Sure. We’ve cleared the path for Captain, little songbird. But…”
It was hard to explain. His mission was accomplished. But he knew he hadn’t achieved what he had personally set out to do. The Unicate was still the Unicate. He hoped that Captain’s political take-over would be enough to ease up living conditions for most people on Earth. That the eradication program was averted – that stood to reason; they had killed the military leadership. Those were the guys who thought in bombs. He doubted that someone like Genevieve, or Dahlia…
Radioactivity in Nemiscau? And then, that Hub… Hub of what? He reached for Paean’s hand and turned away from the scene of the crime.
Hours later when the maidservant came in with the first light to open the curtains, she found three dead officials on the floor.


Friday, August 26, 2016


So here I was, faithfully blogging along, and suddenly a WordPress Admin notices one of my posts and decides it's worthy of being discovered.

It's my "why I can't implement Marie Kondo's method completely no matter how totally brilliant it is" post, my "I have a messy house and here is why" post, my "I'm a hopeless sentimentalist and so are my kids" post.  I don't blog stuff like that here, because it has nothing to do with my writing, publishing and belly-aching journey.

LOL, I ought to somehow harness all those views!  Views, beautiful views...  I'm staggered how many come and look.  Click-through rate:  It depends to where.  My WP blog has many outbound links. One of them is even to here.

Funnily enough, none of those "likes" thought of helping themselves to the coupons of three key books - until 30 August:  100% discount on Solar Wind 3, 4, and Arcana.

Here they are:

Smashwords book coupons: (All valid until 30 August only)

Blank bookcover with clipping path
RW100 - When purchasing this book, enter the coupon code "RW100" to receive 100% discount.



CF73X - When purchasing this book, enter the coupon code "CF73X" to receive 100% discount.



LJ36P - When purchasing this book, enter the coupon code "LJ36P" to get a 100% discount.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

New Shortstories on Smashwords

Sometimes one needs time.  Time for your mind to stop buzzing.  My head is still buzzing, but step by baby-step I'm getting my life sorted out and back on track.  The only problem is that every time I think I've ticked one item off the list, three people ask me, "Have you done this yet?" "Have you checked out that yet?"  "What's happening about... ?"  And  my mind goes right back to buzzing.

In the interim, it seems as though the writer in me leads a life separate from mine.  She just carries on.  That's really good to know.  I wish the musician & teacher in me had it as easy as that.  Anyway, so this writer-alter-ego of mine has been posting more short-stories to Smashwords and making them free.  Here they are:

Newest first:



Rated 0/5 based on 1 reviews
On his meanderings, photojournalist Tom meets a little girl who plays alone in the park. First intrigued by her strange character, then worried for her safety, he accompanies her home, though she never allows him to follow the very last bit to her house. Then one day he misses their appointment... 
(Review by: J.T. (Janni) Styles on Aug. 07, 2016 : (no rating)
If you like paranormal, you will enjoy this story of a relationship between two unlikely characters, one of whom needs closure. The characters are well rounded and by the end of this story at least one of them will sit in your heart for some time after the reading.)
(review of free book)


How To Become A Professional Ghostwriter

Kelly has always dreamed of making her writing into a profession. The ad looks like a perfect opportunity, and she is thrilled when her call is actually answered...

The Family Pool

Rated 5.00/5 based on 1 reviews
Mary Adams has married into money. At first this is amazing and she is overwhelmed with thankfulness; but as time goes by she begins to realize that all is not well in the wealthy family. She comes upon a creepy volume of genealogy in the library of the house that was given to her and her husband John to live in, and from there, her curiosity turns into an obsession to get to the bottom of it.


The Racing Finn

(Short Story.)

Finnegan o'Flannagan (Finn) is an out-of-luck musician in the tiny town of Kilkee. The last thing he knows is how to race a horse; but this is exactly what he is requested to do, by his pretty and forceful young friend, the Lady Millen. Who can deny her?

A bit of slapstick to entertain you on a rainy day...

These stories are all FREE, and you'll find them lumped together at this link:

Shortstory collection


Saturday, June 11, 2016

"Freedom Fighter" : A 4.5-star review by Silver Threading

Thank you, Colleen from Silver Threading, for this gorgeous review of "Freedom Fighter", the third in the Solar Wind series. 


Colleen focuses her review on the teenage relationships in the story, which are very much at the forefront of "Freedom Fighter", inbetween freak waves, terrorist attacks and flying UFOs. I'm so happy she is enjoying the series!

Here's the link:


 I have to tell you all, I am hopelessly in love with this series. The characters have found their way into my heart. I feel pained every time I come to the end of another exciting installment because I want to know more! I think I must have some gypsy blood running through my veins!


What happens next? I’m dying to find out!  

Freedom Fighter finds Captain Radomir Lascek up to his neck in negotiations with the Unicate and other warring factions as he tries to carve out a peaceful treaty to the new world order that has taken over the earth. So much so, that he has no choice but to make his daughter, Rushka Donegal, the captain of the Solar Wind.  


In celebration of this review, I'm giving away a (small, I'm getting stingier) number of copies of "Freedom Fighter" at Smashwords: 



Monday, June 6, 2016

Escape from Dublin!


0 - Dublin

31 March 2116, 5:30 am


Running. No: Scurrying, like rats, cutting corners, slipping and scrambling through the half-dark of the dank storm drainage system of the old harbour town. Her older brother chasing her on from behind, her younger one scouting ahead, furtively checking each corner before they reached it, to make sure it was clear.
In a twisted way she was glad that she had cropped her hair short into an extreme brush cut, because the glorious red mane of curls she still had yesterday would have been in a hopeless mess by now. Her face, hands and clothes were streaked with mud, reeking of rat droppings and cat urine. She clung to her violin case and Ronan’s guitar bag, as he had more than enough to carry with his Clarsach and the heavy backpack.
Shawn, who was lugging the pipes under his arm as he peered around bends, beckoned for them to proceed. The next corner was clear. They ought to be right under the old promenade by now, and they had to be careful, because their tunnel was half visible to the streets from here, through fairly large storm drains. Dawn hadn’t finished breaking yet. Breaking what, she thought dismally. Breaking her whole life, everything she’d ever cherished. Breaking her childhood off with a deadly finality.
It had taken both Ronan and Shawney to get her pulled away from Mother’s body, her hands still covered in blood. What insanity was this? Why not leave her there, to die too when the Unicate came knocking on the door?
Lying low at Mrs Flanagan’s had been gruelling; but not as bad as spending the night down here in the drains. And as for the reaction of relatives, yesterday morning – she didn’t even want to go there. And through it all she couldn’t get the blood off her hands. What was driving her by now, was nothing but primal fear.
“Here!” Shawney’s signal was barely more than a whisper. She allowed Ronan to push past her, and found a way to hold the Clarsach for him too as he helped Shawn work on that manhole lid. They battled with it a bit. Rain and mud had sucked it into place and it was a struggle loosening it, but suddenly it lifted, and they pushed it aside.
All three waited and listened with bated breath, ready to bolt back into the depths of the storm drain system if they had to. Things seemed really silent up there. Ronan made a step ladder with his hands for Shawn, who put his foot into it and pushed himself up, peering out of the manhole.
“Coast’s clear,” he whispered down to his two sibs. Ronan boosted him up, then handed the instruments up to him. It was a tight fit for the Clarsach; but this square manhole was one they had tested before. Life for a young Dublin musician could be perilous at night.
“C’mon, Pae!” came Shawn’s optimistic invitation.
She shook her head, unable to face the scant daylight.
“Sis, we’ve been there,” said Ronan, almost threateningly.
Paean Donegal backed down and accepted the burglar-lift up to ground level from her older brother. Once she was out, she turned around and took the backpack from him. It took her and Shawn’s joint efforts to get that heavy pack lifted out.
She lay down on the pavement and extended a hand down for Ronan; Shawn did the same on the other side of the manhole. Ronan grabbed both hands at the wrist in a mountaineer’s grip and hauled himself out of the sewers, kicking against the crumbling stepladder none of them had dared to use.
All three pushed the lid back into place and stared at each other. So far so good; they were at the docks. They scanned the surrounds. Those uniforms could come breaking out of any alley, at any moment. They were not safe anywhere in plain sight.
An unkempt-looking character was idly leaning against a lamp post, watching them. It looked like a wild man, long black frizzy hair tied down around the head with a bandanna. One thing this person was decidedly not: Any kind of Unicate. There was something... he somehow looked like a sea person to Paean. On a hunch she stormed at the man.
“Sir, sir, please – are you a sailor?”
Gypsy eyes stretched wide in surprise as he took in her filthy appearance. He studied her intensely, making her wonder whether it had been a mistake talking to him at all. If he alerted the harbour guard?
“Looking for a ship to stow away?” he asked eventually with an unreadable grin.
“No, sir! We want to work! We’re hard workers, have been all our lives.” She hoped desperately he’d accept that. She was fifteen – work was only legal once you were sixteen. But he didn’t look like the type that would care.
Critical dark eyes noted the instruments.
“Musicians, huh? Shukar! This way, shey.”
“Paean, what are you doing?” hissed Shawn.
“Getting us a job,” she replied. “On a ship.”
“She’s right, Shawn, move!” urged Ronan.
The wild man led the way, along the docks to a beautiful white tall ship lying at anchor. Paean noticed that he moved like a predator; a feral cat or a burglar. But damn, the three of them didn’t exactly arrive smelling of roses, either.
The name on the side of the two-master sailing ship, she noted as they approached, was the ‘San Diego’. And the figurehead was a mermaid... its eyes seemed to follow them.


30 March 2116, 6:05 am

Loud banging on the white-painted door that was splintering with age. Louder banging. And an impatient grip on the door handle, forcing it.
The old lock gave way. The door swung inwards. The uniformed crew entered, with guns lifted high. Not stun guns; real fire. The little house was quiet. Too quiet.
They made their cautious way through the rooms, first the tight living-cum-dining room, the ridiculously short passage where three bedrooms and a bathroom connected; pushed the only closed door open, lifted their firearms -
“Check the other rooms! Check the bathroom! All the windows!” The young charge-sergeant personally looked under the bed. There was nothing; as opposed to what was on the bed.
So she was dead. He checked the pulse of the woman lying there drenched in her own blood. Accurate. Then where were the three?
“They’re not here, sir.”

6:50 am


“They’re gone!”
The man in grey faced his equally grey officer’s wrath.
“How did you let them get away? They are dangerous!”
“We don’t know, Captain-Major. Technically there should have been no opportunity for them to escape. We were watching them this whole past week.”
“Find them!”
“Yes, Captain-Major!”

30 March 2116, 9:59 am


Tights. Toothbrush. Transmitter. Tarot deck.
The girl smoothed down her sleek black hair and threw a sidelong look at herself in the narrow hallway mirror as she left the apartment. Check. Still myself. No parsley between teeth. No beauty. No big deal. She glanced back at the empty flat she left behind; all traces of her erased, as though the only thing that had dwelt here between the last tenant and now had been time. Home? No. No such a thing. Wherever she was sent, there she went.
This assignment had her excited. She had never worked on a ship before. She almost smiled as she slunk down to the harbour.


31 March 2116, 5:55 am


Paean was standing indecisively in the hatch of a petite, minute, tiny cabin. It had everything she needed; a pull-down bunk that came out of the wall; a round porthole with blinds – those were important; and a small, squat chest for her belongings. Neo-compounding, of course. Ronan and Shawn had been assigned a similarly small cubicle, with the two bunks pulling out of the wall one above the other.
Ronan came in and unceremoniously dumped the clothes he’d packed for her, on her bunk.
“Freshen up, sis. Don’t want to present like street kids, now do we?”
She shook her head, still unfamiliar with the missing mane, and the way there were no curls to move around her shoulders but only a stark crew cut.
“Where are the bathrooms?”
He took her out of her cabin and pointed down the passage. “They call them the heads, like, on a ship, alright? We’d better wise up on the jargon, sis.”
She nodded, gathered up a fresh set of jeans and t-shirt and padded to the ‘heads’ to get cleaned up. The heavens knew, the blood she had tried to wash off her hands for a day now was bothering her a hundred times more than the foul-smelling gutter-mud.


January 2116:


Two ships converge in the twilight, six hundred sea miles off Dakar. A voice calls across from one to the other. A chorus of powerful African voices answers. The national hymn of Southern Free.
Sails are furled. The two ships slow and come to a halt next to each other. Lines shoot across. A gangway extends from the blue yacht to the white trader. Muscular sailors carry goods across: Guns, heavy artillery. Closed boxes.
White teeth flash in laughter. Lines are untied, sails unfurled, the gangway retracted. The two ships veer apart, the crew of the yacht singing loudly. A pirate flag flies from the mast of the white trader. They disappear into the twilight in opposite directions, six hundred sea miles off Dakar...


31 March 2116, 6:59 am


“Don’t know what you dragged aboard there, Federi!”
The gypsy flashed a steely grin, gazing out over the harbour. “Jon, watch these sports.” He pointed at the docks. A pointless sun was rising behind a drizzly cloud cover. A Unicate patrol emerged from the ancient, narrow roads, stepping in perfect synchrony with hair-raising precision. You only heard one single marching gait. And they were headed straight for the ship.
Jon Marsden glanced over his shoulder, at the bridge. Yes, Captain also saw that patrol. He gave Federi a nod and they undid the mooring hawsers, which spun back into their holds. Captain raised the anchor. The ship started moving innocently away from the docks, gliding on solar drives.
The patrol increased its pace. Marsden glanced at the bridge and received a go-ahead signal from his Captain. Together, he and Federi peeled the neo-membrane with the false name off the side of the ship. He glanced back to the bridge. His Captain was grinning broadly. They all three watched how shock and disbelief spread over the faces of the Unicate civic military. The ship’s sails clapped like thunder as they expanded. The Solar Wind cleared the port and moved out into the Irish Sea, picking up speed, sailing close to the wind.

This is of course the opening chapter of the Solar Wind series, available at this link:




Monday, May 23, 2016

"You'll lose your reader to a midnight snack"

Autumnwriting gives 5 tips to a page-turning chapter.

One of them entails to skip what we have called here at P'kaboo, "shoe-lacing". Going into too-much-detail on how the main hero goes down on one knee and ties first his left, then his right shoe-laces, left-over-right, right-over-left, two loops and through, pulling them ever so slightly too tight (causing a thrombosis in his feet that will eventually kill him - nah, just kidding, I put that in to make something happen!).

So Autumnwriting suggests that if the reader needs to participate in every meal the protagonist partakes of, you'll lose your reader to a midnight snack.

Well hey! I've lost a lot of things to midnight snacks (most significantly, my figure), but never yet a reader - midnight snacks are what helps me write! But okay, okay... I know how it's meant.

 Just to illustrate the point:

In the "Shooting Star" series, Federi breaks away irretrievably from the Solar Wind (he tries this repeatedly in "The Morrigan" and more seriously in "Nix Romipen" but by commandeering the Shooting Star, he eventually succeeds).

The Solar Wind's crew feel this in a particularly bitter way. They have been robbed of their master chef; the other two crew members who were really good with food, Paean, and Mindy Adamson (we meet her in "The Morrigan"), have joined Federi and are therefore not aboard either. Galley work falls to the most unlikely suspect: The humble but somewhat creepy Lyr of Dome. Having spent hundreds of years deep beneath the ocean surface subsisting mostly on "frutti di mare", he doesn't understand the advanced palate of the twenty-second century.

Lyr tries; he really tries. Still, somehow, the crew is tough to please.  

1. Shoe-lacing Lyr's cooking skills in "The Morrigan":
Federi ground his teeth. Captain wasn’t making this easy!
What did Captain need him for? The cook was Lyr. The chars were the croaches. There were plenty of sharp assassins aboard. Ailyss, Jon... Able sailors? When last had they actually flown a storm? Quartermaster...
“ ‘s just a holiday, Captain,” he said sanguinely. “Showing Paean a few places.”

“And what does Captain say?”
“Nothing,” said Shawn with a grin. “And he also says nothing to having to eat sushi three times a day. I just can’t get the idea of cooking into Lyr’s head. Captain is in a very good mood. He keeps asking how many days to Christmas.”
“Shawn,” she asked suspiciously, “what have you done to Captain?”

Lyr cropped up in the galley door and lifted his nearly invisible eyebrows in surprise.
“I see you are making food!”
“Yup!” Paean glanced up at him and smiled. The tall gangly Atlantean smiled back, with too many irregular merrow teeth.
“But you’re not going to spoil things by cooking them,” he presumed.
“I am,” said Paean. “The crew wants a bit of a change from the whole-food diet. Come, have a seat, Lyr! Can I give you some vegetation to decapitate?”
“Vegetation has a central nervous system?” asked Lyr, puzzled. Paean laughed and pushed the potatoes his way.
“They even have eyes, sometimes,” she informed him as she picked up a peeler and showed him how to go about it. The next ten minutes, while she quickly fried up enough fish for the crew, she watched how the tall man struggled to get all the skin off that first potato he had picked up.
“Practice makes perfect,” she chirped eventually and sat down across from him, picking up more potatoes and pulling a Paean on them. Those potatoes didn’t know what was happening to them. A bit in the same line, thought Paean with a grin, as comparing Dana and Perdita playing poker.
“Captain, she made lunch,” said Lyr gravely. “She didn’t stay long though.”

2. And in "The Shooting Star":
Lyr!” Ih yoy! Bad enough Virian on the bridge; bad enough Lyr in the galley! But Lyr, holding the bridge? “Where’s Captain?”
Lyr bared his teeth, with a tired, old smile. An Atlantean smile.
Tending to husbanding duties. Poor man.”
Federi hid his urge to explode into laughter. Aliens and their inability to understand about too much information!
Husbanding? That could take a while! Meanwhile the Shooting Star was calling him, crying out to him…
Keep an eye on this one, Lyr. If he moves in a way that bothers you, eat him.”
Federi, there is a moratorium on eating humans on this ship,” said Lyr. “Not that I did previously…”
First time for everything,” replied Federi lightly and teleported out. Damn, Lyr! Show some initiative! And then he remembered. Alien as the man seemed, he was actually human.

3. Things come to a head in "Valleylon":
“Federi,” said Lyr with an ocean-deep sigh, “they did not want to eat the good, fresh food I served them, the fruit of the sea. Rhine Gold told me to make spaghetti, and I’m doing that now, and they don’t want to eat that either.”
Federi peered into the pot that was boiling away on the stove. The pasta was already quite soggy and on its way to becoming paste.
“Got to drain that,” he instructed. “How do you make your sauce?”
Federi laughed. That explained it! “Can’t give them spaghetti without sauce! Course they won’t eat that! Observe!” He dug in the fridge. Everything was – this puzzled him – exactly the way he’d last left it. Except, freshly stocked. Lyr didn’t seem to have the courage to make any changes at all.
“But Lyr, all the stuff is here! Don’t you use it?”
“I don’t know what you keep those things for,” said the Atlantean. “Whenever I look, they need to be replaced because they have rotted.”
Federi snorted. “It’s not mine, Lyr! It’s there for the crew to eat! I don’t work on this ship anymore.”
Well, whatever. It came in handy. He pulled a few tomatoes, some mince, and a number of other ingredients out of the fridge and chopped them up with a flying staccato. Thirty seconds later to it’s own surprise a bolognaise sauce was simmering on the stove, not knowing how it had got there.
“See? There! Now they’ll definitely eat that!” Federi turned from the stunned Lyr to Vlad. “Say, Vlad, there’s something strange about Monica.”
He teleported out. Lyr turned to the Solar Wind’s eye, in the corner of the galley.
“Solar Wind, please could you replay for me what he did with that sauce? Slowly?”

  I played unfair this time. The books aren't even out yet. You can find "The Morrigan" and "Nix Romipen" on Smashwords as part of the Solar Wind series (the last parts in fact), but "Shooting Star" and "Valleylon" are not yet released.

Here's the link to the series:


There are some more cute little points to Autumnwriting's post:  

The number 5. That's just the perfect number. Good blogging practices dictate (and I don't like dictators so I don't) that you 1) keep your posts fairly short; 2) structure them visually; 3) start your heading with a number (5) and a "magic word" ("secrets") for a catchy heading; and the number 5 is a perfect balance. 2 hot parenting tips are barely worth more than a skim, right? Whereas 9 ways of earning cash online are a tome and will take real commitment to read. 5 is the perfect balance.

Here are for instance 5 cool parenting tips of teenagers:
  1. is essential to make the others work. Make them feel sorry for you poor overworked, over-stressed mom.
  2. Dishes: Let them each wash their own plate and cutlery, Scouts-style, after every meal. This will reduce dishes to near nothing.
  3. Clothes: Make them responsible for washing their own clothes - but you check that it actually happens. They need to sort out on Sunday what they'll be wearing for the week, and stick it through the machine. (Checking my privilege, this is for people who are not too poor to own a washing machine.)
  4. Bathrooms: It is in any case good form that each teenager knows to rinse out the basin after brushing teeth, and to scrub out the bath after use.
  5. Give them chores, then let them off the hook. That way, whenever you ask the correct kid to help you with e.g. washing up (just the pots obviously because everything else was taken care of by the each-for-themselves-system), you can remind them that actually it's their kitchen rota and they've been having an easy time of it. It saves tons of backchat!
If you can get these implemented even just 70% of the time you will feel a significant difference - and also with having resilient, clued-up kids. Clearly nobody on the Solar Wind has cottoned onto these - slaves will still be slaves!

Now shoosh and go read!


~ gipsika ~