Sunday, March 2, 2014

Stealing Time & Debunking the Myths of Writing, Time and Quality

     There’s a myth that’s been doing the rounds since forever that in order to write quality fiction you need to spend years on it. It’s bunk. Hugh Howey discussed this in a recent post, in which he said, “The lie that a good novel takes five years to write needs to die. There’s no correlation between how much an author procrastinates and how wonderfully literary their creation turns out to be.”
     The very talented Michael Bunker and I had our little say on Facebook about it when he shared Hugh’s post and Michael has written some great posts recently about it. Then there’s aspiring writers who believe in this myth and don’t get started because the mountain seems insurmountable. Yesterday, a friend wrote telling me that she was too busy with life to write, even though she really wanted to write. She’d hoped that somewhere in the distant future (you know that place, it’s very magical) she would find the time.
     Let me set those writers straight who don’t know this. That place in the distant future where you are looking for time, well, it doesn’t exist. To demonstrate how to find a better place, a more flexible place, I thought it would be a fun little exercise to let you share a week of my recent life when I wrote an 11,000-word short story. It will also serve as my contribution to stabbing the stupid myth that successful writers have a cozy office where they get to sit all day and drink coffee, so to produce their works of carefully crafted prose.  If that did ever happen I suggest you look out for the pigs flying by the windows.

     But first, I’ve been tagged in a blog hop by my Aussie mate Mel Hearse. Well she was my mate until she started telling everyone that her story in our anthology FROM THE INDIE SIDE is better than mine. But you will need to buy FROM THE INDIE SIDE to decide for yourself. So I’m going to quickly answer the blog hop questions and then get on to that myth.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?
     I try and write something different from anything I’ve read or seen in a film. My mother once said to me, when I had a high school English writing assignment, “Imagine what everyone else will write, and then write something completely different.” So that’s always my plan.  I try to follow the illusionist’s tricks with my surprise endings, too. While a reader is over here distracted by the action, thinking they know what’s going on, they are exactly where I want them. Meanwhile I’m over here with the real truth that they hopefully won’t see coming. It’s a sleight of hand with words. I love writing it, imagining the pleasure the reader will get from the ending.

Why do I write what I do?
     Zero choice. I love sci-fi, horror and anything strange, and somehow my brain has been programmed that way, most likely from all the horror stories I read and watched as a child. Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock had a huge impact on me. Where my imagination goes, I’m merely a passenger and am forced to follow and take notes. Very quickly, usually.

How does my writing process work?
     I don’t plot. I did try for a long time because that’s what I was taught. But I get bored.  It’s been several years since I knew the ending of anything I write when I start writing. I have a scene or an idea, and then I just sit down and write the first thing that comes into my head. It’s terrifying and exhilarating. At the end, I’m always shocked that I have worked out the story arc and the ending and found a good twist. Of course, there is a bit of rewriting at times to clean up what I didn’t know in the beginning to make it match the ending. But there is rarely a great deal to do.  When I actually try and work something out, outside physically writing it, I can’t. My mind is a blank.

That is the conclusion of the blog hop. Now onto…

Stomping on the lie that you have no time to write or that you need years to write a novel if it’s going to be quality.

     So as an example to fellow time-starved writers and those looking in on this world, I would like to share with you how I just wrote an 11,081 first draft of a story called “Back Again,” while I was crazy busy this past week.
      I’m not doing this to say, “Look at me. Aren’t I a hero?” If I wanted that I would tell you that I slave over my keyboard, need quiet because I am a genius, and that I bleed every word. Some writers might and good luck to them, but that seriously does not sound like fun and it’s not how I feel when I write. Writing feels joyous to me. It’s not work, and many times I feel like I am flying it’s so liberating.
     The first thing to know is that I am a mom before anything else. I’ve got two “monster” boys, eleven and thirteen. They argue A LOT, treat me like I’m a slave, and don’t seem to have a clue that their parents are human beings with their own stuff. It’s all about them. I try to teach them differently, but hey, that’s the nature of kids these days, right? I drive the kids to and from school, and if they need me at the school canteen or to help with anything, my hand is always up. How do you teach your kids to be involved in the community if they don’t see you doing it?
     Secondly, I am a film and book reviewer, and so I go to a lot of movies (averaging about three to four a week). I think my record was eight in a week.  Last year I saw 134 films on screen. Then I have to write the reviews.  Of course, I have to drive to the cinemas all over Perth. So each film is a three to four hour round trip. I get in and out, around chatting to my critic mates. We love talking film and, no, we don’t ever get sick of it. Around all that are promotions which involve many daily emails exchanged with the film and publishing publicists.
     Thirdly, I don’t work outside the home, but as any mom can tell you that doesn’t mean you don’t work your butt off, washing, cleaning, preparing dinner, and all the phone calls and errands you do. My house isn’t meticulously clean, but it is tidy. So I don’t live in a vacuum, and I don’t get to squirrel myself away from life to get to my writing. That’s an impossible dream.


     Two weeks ago on Monday 17th February Michael Bunker wrote to me. He also has a story in From The Indie Side (another reason to buy the book). Michael and I have become friends, which is the big bonus from doing the anthology. So he writes me and says that he and Jason Gurley (also in the anthology—you really must buy it) wanted to put together a time travel anthology and, again, get together some of the cream of indie/hybrid science fiction writers. Could I shepherd it along with David Gatewood (editor of From The Indie Side anthology-you know you want to buy it, and you’re getting sleepy)? And they wanted to do it fast. All of us want to kill that it-takes-five-years-to-write-quality myth so bad. So this anthology is going to be out by May, eight weeks after we start.
     Now I’ve got a lot on in the way of writing, a collection of short stories to assemble, a “Dust” fanfic to edit that’s come back from David, a booking late March with David to send more work to edit, and on top of that, coming up last weekend was the Perth Writer’s Festival where I had two speaking gigs.
But you’d have to be crazy to say no to this idea. And I always say if you want play in the big league, you need to play no matter what. And these guys are the big league in indie science fiction. So I was never going to say no.
     How do I fit writing this story in, which I hadn’t planned to write, when I have no time? I was only halfway through creating my PowerPoint for my three hour workshop and the kids had a lot on with sport. So here is how I wrote 11,000 good words alongside my day-to-day other jobs—imagine constant chaos and interruption in the background, too.

Wednesday 19th Feb:      Attended 13-year-old’s all day swim carnival. Took my laptop and in between races wrote 1400 words. A good start
Thursday 20th Feb:          9-11am     Went for my swim. Swim 2.2km and by the time I wash my hair, blah, blah, there goes two hours.
11- 2pm  Worked on my workshop, that was a priority, so couldn’t do anything else. In between did all the other mom stuff that you do and business emails, etc., etc..
2pm to 2:50pm Managed to write another 800 words just before school pickup. Total now 2200 words.
Friday 21st Feb:                11:30    Writer’s Festival interview hosted by me with Joe Ducie and Chris Allen. It was great fun and they are awesome guys. Spies actually… shh, don’t tell anyone. But I now know spies.
2:00pm   Media screening across town of In A World.  Rushed there, ate my lunch (leftovers) in the dark (pretty stock standard for me).
5:00 pm  Took 11-year-old to indoor soccer and then across town to outdoor soccer training until 7pm. Husband came along. I thought we could spend quality time together while son was training. But no, I had to catch up on my twitter account. Bad me.
9:00pm    Children in bed and we just crashed. I wanted to write, but my brain had started to switch off.
Saturday 22nd Feb:          10am    Slept in. Trundled over to son’s all day soccer tournament in 37/100 degree heat. When he wasn’t playing I wrote. Another 2,500 words.
3pm    Came home and hung with thirteen-year-old. Watched two episodes of Walking Dead because he’s ahead of me and he keeps bugging me to catch up. I was hot and happy to sit down for an hour or so. Sheese that show is violent, though, ain’t it?
8pm        Husband sat with me and checked through my workshop to make sure it was coherent. He gave the thumbs up. It was forty slides of good information on writer “discoverability.”
Sunday 23rd Feb:            Lazy morning. Posted my film reviews for the week. Enjoyed hanging out with my family for late breakfast. Stopped the children from killing each other. Several times.
                                              2pm            3 hour workshop at the Perth Writer’s Festival. Went well and attendees seemed to feel they learned a few things.  I learned something, too. Don’t wear heels to conduct a 3 hour workshop.
                                          6pm       Back into mom clothes, helped son fold pamphlets for his letterbox delivery round (15 flyers folded together for 180 letterboxes). It had to be done by today.
                                             7pm      After dinner walked our letterbox delivery round. We all do it for exercise and as a family outing. Eleven-year-old kicks his soccer ball alongside, Dad does one side of the street, I do the other, and the thirteen-year-old does the exterior of the route because he has an electric scooter.
Monday 24th Feb:             9-11am   Went for my swim.
What seems like millions of emails have accumulated since Friday. So has the washing. But I did manage to scrawl out another 1,000 words. But I wasn’t happy with the progress, because I felt it was going to be a longer story than I’d expected and I wanted it done sooner than later.
6:30pm    Film screening Non-Stop. The whole family went.
11pm-1am Added another 2,000 words. I know a lot of authors say they get up early to write or stay up until 4am.  I can’t do that. I get really tired if I don’t get 6 to 8 hours of sleep. Then the next day, I fall asleep at the keyboard. So that option is only there occasionally to stay up late and usually I don’t go past one am.
Tuesday 25th Feb:           9am    Mel Hearse comes over for coffee first thing. She is also in the FROM THE INDIE SIDE ANTHOLOGY (you really gotta buy it) I haven’t seen Mel for a few months but we email and facebook all the time. (I can’t get rid of her. Does anyone know how I can?) We had an unboxing to film of FROM THE INDIE SIDE. A box of the books had just arrived on Thursday and this was the first chance we could get together.
11:30am Film screening – Ride Along
                                           1:30pm   Email and business stuff – no writing
Wednesday 26th Feb:     Today is the day. I have to get the story finished because I have other things coming up.                                
9am         Catch up on all my film reviews and returning emails.  I wrote six reviews and replied to countless queries and writing related stuff (but not story writing).
                                         1:30pm     Put down another 1500 words before school pick up.  I am close to the end of the story at around 9,200 words, but I still don’t know what’s going to happen, and I am starting to worry. I want that big “wow” ending that you don’t see coming. But even I don’t see it coming at this moment.
                                         4:30pm     Husband comes home early and I ask him to finish off dinner for me, while I go work on my story. He knows the rule “Happy wife, happy life.”
                                             6pm   Husband calls out that dinner is ready.  Just ten more minutes and I think I’m done. I found my ending, (and what an ending) and I’m madly racing toward it.
                                           6:15pm     I join the family for dinner, maybe eight minutes late from the final dinner call, but it’s done. I’ve typed “The End” at 11,081 words (around 45 pages). And I really don’t feel like I broke a sweat.

Now if you extrapolate out that word count for five more weeks of barely doing anything, I would have a novel.  And this week was one of my very, very busy weeks. This story is quality I believe, and by the time you read it in our Ten Tales of Time Travel out in May, you won’t be including this story or this book in the “Tsunami of Crap” bag that is hurled at indies. David Gatewood is a great editor and my story will have had many passes before it reaches him.
So there you have it, folks. It isn’t about being special, or having more time than anyone else, it’s about stealing time that you freely give away. An hour to me is worth a 1000 words, so I spend my time wisely. I’m not a hermit and I enjoy seeing my friends when I can.  I know the job I have to do is to produce words, and so I do it. In between, I do all that I have shown you and I fritter my time on Facebook and twitter. I fritter because I enjoy it.
Next time you hear yourself saying, “I don’t have any time,” or you hear that tale of authors taking years to write their masterpiece, think about this. It’s not that you don’t have time; it’s just that you haven’t learned to find it. It’s hiding everywhere, you’ve just got to open your eyes and see it.
Now I am meant to pass this lengthy, (I know I do go on) blog hop on to someone else, but I don’t know to whom. Hellooo… hellooo… who is the next guy?  Somebody email me, mental telepathy me, something.  Did I talk too long?  Hellooooooo….
And since nobody else is here, and while we are waiting for the next blog hopper author, don’t forget to grab a copy of FROM THE INDIE SIDE. It’s definitely not part of the “Tsunami of Crap” even though we are indie authors and the twelve of us got that little baby out in less than six months. And if you like it, just wait until you read Ten Tales of Time Travel, the anthology Michael Bunker, David Gatewood and I are putting together. We might even give a few copies of Ten Tales of Time Travel away to newsletter subscribers, so do sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss out.
Other stops on this blog hop from authors starring in FROM THE INDIE SIDE:

P.S.  I've just heard from Peter Cawdron, who has joined the blog hop from the side. He's from Queensland, Australia and that's how they roll over there.  It's the humidity we think-it does something to you.  I was actually born in Brisbane, Queensland, and lived thee until I was 25, so I can share that the nickname for Queenslanders is "Banana Benders," and there is a reason for that.  So, the next stop on this blog hop, that is hopping all over the place, is Ernie Lindsey, but you will hop there and find that you have arrived at Peter Cawdron's blog, where he interviews Ernie. See what I mean?  You would expect that Peter interviews himself because that's what we all did.  But we like to shake it up, folks. And we are indies so we can do whatever the heck we want to do.  So hop over to  Ernie's Peter Cawdron's blog and from there, well, you could end up anywhere. But isn't that the fun of it?


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Truth is Finally Out There

(And its not what you think)
 

 

     One of the first questions anyone asks a writer is where do your stories come from?
   Today, a fellow Aussie author in FROM THE INDIE SIDE, Mel Hearse, and I made a decision that while were unboxing our author copies of the anthology that we would let the secret out of the bag about our talents.
    It’s not what you expect. 
   Mel and I are different to other authors and we have felt guilty for many months for letting readers and fellow authors believe that our talent is natural and God-given. Not so, I am afraid. It’s hard for “normal” authors to compete with us. We will take over the Amazon charts. We have experience with this.
     I hope once you have watched our FROM THE INDIE SIDE unboxing that you will still love us and still read our stories. If you haven’t already read FROM THE INDIE SIDE, you really should. Otherwise you will miss out on sharing how much you enjoyed it, not to mention you will miss out on reading it. A travesty. 
   
Here’s more information about the book and the authors on another blog post of mine: From The Indie Side Launch Blog
TO OWN YOUR OWN COPY

·                     AMAZON                                Amazon eBook and Paper
·                     SMASHWORDS:                  Smashwords eBook
·                     KOBO:                                    Kobo eBook
·                     NOOK:                                    Nook eBook
·                     APPLE:                                   Apple eBook
·                      
Here’s what a few reviewers said. Most of them we didn’t hold up against a pole and threaten with a laser. They actually wrote these things of their own free will.

  • ·         A near perfect score on Amazon Five Star reviews: Amazon reviews
  • ·         From the first page to the last, “From the Indie Side” is sensational. Each story grabs you by the throat, squeezes, and doesn’t let go until long after you’ve finished.  –  J.M. LeDuc, Suspense Magazine          
  • ·         The sign of a good anthology is when you’ve finished one story and feel compelled to move straight on to the next. From The Indie Side is one of those. – Eamo The Geek Blog  Eamon the Geek Review
  • ·         From the Indie Side is a fascinating milestone for the independent publishing movement. If you want proof that Indie authors can write concise, beautifully turned out prose, then look no further than this collection of stories.Amy Eyrie author of the Pet Sitter Amy Eyrie Review
  • ·         Wow, what a gem! This anthology of short stories from these great Independent Authors will now be the standard, for me. Write of Mind
  • ·         A great anthology like this is akin to a sumptuous buffet of delicious foods prepared by gourmet chefs.  Scott Whitmore Review
  • ·         It is a true collective artistic endeavor with the same quality and polish you might expect from a Big Ink publishing company. Feet for Brains Review
  • ·         It's a collection about beauty, love, darkness and destruction that combines into an anthology of priceless pieces. Girl in the Woods Blogspot
  • ·         For someone just getting into indie authors, whether on the tails of Howey's huge success, or by the relentless assault indie authors have conducted on the e-book charts, this is a great entry point. Voxirati
  • ·         A great anthology like this is akin to a sumptuous buffet of delicious foods prepared by gourmet chefs. Scott Whitmore, author of Carpathia 
  • ·         Enjoyed every story, had problems putting the book down – Dexter Don
  • ·         You will fall in love with many of these authors and you will want to read more from them. –Stefano Scaglione
  • ·         Sit back and enjoy some very unique stories that you will fall in love with! – RG Dillon
  • ·         Each author’s singular vision comes through vibrantly and all of the stories in this collection are compelling and are never anything less than interesting. – Chris F   
  • ·         I'm not a huge fan of short story anthologies, as usually only one or two of them are worth the price of admission. Not so with From The Indie Side. – Ann Bresnan 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

From The Indie Side

About nine months ago I began quite the journey to alter the direction of my writing career, when I hopped over to the indie publishing path. It felt like I'd jumped from one train track to another. And the decision happened overnight, after I interviewed the well-known author Hugh Howey. It’s an interesting story, how a sequence of chance meetings led me to Hugh, but I’m not talking about that today.
Today, I would like to share with you a project that was put together over a period of six months with David Gatewood (my talented editor and, also, Hugh Howey’s and quite a few bestsellers' editor) and another indie author Brian Spangler.
From The Indie Side is an anthology of supernatural, science fiction, and horror stories written by twelve indie authors including Hugh Howey, as a project to show the quality of work produced by indies and to offer readers a sampler of works so they may discover new writers.
Aren’t we all a tad tired of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and James (multiple personality) Patterson?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find new, fresh authors writing in genres that they love, weaving amazing stories unfettered by a publisher demanding they write the same story as they did in their last book because that supposedly is what the fans want?


Some of these authors are, in fact, New York Times and USA Today bestsellers like Hugh Howey, Theresa Weir, Kate Danley and Ernie Lindsey. Others are Amazon bestsellers in their genre or as in Ernie Lindsey’s case with Sara’s Game have reached #2 overall on Amazon. Many are playing with the new worlds available to indie authors, like Kindle Worlds and Kindles Serials. Some, like talented Jason Gurley are developing businesses on the side from writing, creating covers for other authors that are works of art.
Kate Danley is playing with new ways of marketing in bundling her books with other Indie authors and enjoying incredible sales which you wouldn't believe if I told you. Most of the sales because she writes a wicked tale. She also has a bestselling Kindle Serial happening. 
And there’s bestselling Australian psychological suspense author Sara Foster who has never written in the science fiction genre but had the courage to try and she came up with a very human take on what could be the end of the world. She surprised me and will surprise you.
Mel Hearse delivered her first ever fiction story for the anthology. She’s an in-demand Australian freelance writer. You’ve probably read her stuff and not realized. But she wants some of the indie action, too, and you will not believe this is her first story. It’s that good. She’s madly now writing the book of the short story.
Anne Frasier has been around in the business for a few decades, and she has dozens of books and stories in her catalogue. She’s a hybrid. Sounds like a plant, doesn’t it? But just means she is traditionally published but also has self-published without a publisher.
BrianSpangler, Peter Cawdron, Michael Bunker, Jason Gurley are the new “cool” gang of authors writing in the science fiction genre. They are moving and shaking this genre and indie publishing writing so prolifically that their readers can’t keep up. And their ideas are different. I don’t doubt that in the years to come these will be the Robert Heinlen’s, the Isaac Asimov’s, the Ray Bradbury’s of this generation of writers. When you write as much as they do, you get very good, very fast.
And of course, there is Hugh Howey, the guy who turned publishing on its head, and continues to do so, with his Wool trilogy selling millions and his new book Sand selling like its gold.
And we've included one British author, so the home country didn't feel left out. Kev Heritage is a copy editor who decided to become an indie and whose debut book Blue Into The Rip is probably one of the best YA books you will read. He does everything himself: website, copy-editing, covers, marketing, and even makes his own tea. He’s a cool cat, too.
So where do I fit in? Little ‘ol me among this lot. Well when you want to hang with the big guys either you are a big guy or you come up with the idea. And that’s me—the enthusiastic Aussie ideas girl.
This book was just a suggestion by my husband, that I get a few authors together to create something a little different. But my husband should know by now, give me a crazy challenge and I'm all over it. Of course I never imagined the quality of authors with whom I would eventually unite. Somehow we authors found each other, and From the Indie Side came into existence on the 1st February 2014.
Today after seven days of travelling across the world, From The Indie Side landed at my house. In true indie style I videoed the unboxing. Apparently all the the trendy authors do this. So who am I to argue?
Below the video are the synopses of the included stories. Don’t they sound intriguing? And at the price we’ve set for the anthology, you can really buy two and gift one to a friend. Or read the anthology and click through and buy a book or two more from the authors. Each author has written a note inside to you, the wonderful reader, talking about their story, their feelings on writing, or whatever they thought you might like to know, plus links to where you can find out more about them. Indie authors are thoughtful like that.
So watch the silly video.  I didn’t have a chance to put on my makeup or do my hair (in fact it hasn’t had a wash for a few days). I just wanted to rip open that box straight away and hold this beautiful little creation in my hand that was borne from a silly impossible idea.
Drop me a line after you’ve read it and let me know what you think. Good, bad or ugly, I am happy to field all questions and comments. But most of all I would love you to support this endeavor by spreading the word if you enjoy it and leaving a review at Amazon or wherever you purchased it.
And if you would like to stay up-to-date with what’s happening in my indie world and my indie friends sign up for my wonderful reader’s club or "like" me on Facebook. Now I am off to read this wonderful, incredible book that I can hold in my hand with stories that wouldn’t have existed if not for an idea. 
But isn’t that how all great things start… with a simple idea? Maybe you have a simple idea. And there's something inside you telling you to follow that thought, because that is all you really need to do to create magic. Believe in you, and believe in your ideas and dreams. This could be you in six months, one year, five years, who knows. Come back and tell me what happened, because you dared. I love a good story, long or short...

TO OWN YOUR OWN COPY

  • AMAZON                                Amazon eBook and Paper
  • SMASHWORDS:                  Smashwords eBook
  • KOBO:                                    Kobo eBook
  • NOOK:                                    Nook eBook
  • APPLE:                                   Apple eBook

FROM THE INDIE SIDE

STORY SYNOPSES

The Winter Lands (Jason Gurley) [United States]
Jason Gurley is the author of the Kindle Worlds bestselling novel Greatfall. He also created the cover art for From the Indie Side.
Jonathan Froestt lives alone in a retirement home. His family is gone. His friends are all dead. For over sixty years, he has been writing a novel, the pages collecting in his apartment in stacks. Nobody has ever read it. Until today.

Going Gray  (Brian Spangler) [United States]
Brian Spangler is a Amazon Top 100 author and writes supernatural and dystopian books. 
When their community is engulfed by a deadly, caustic fog, sixteen-year-old Emily and her family decide to escape to the one building they can think of that might be able to withstand the fog’s corrosive force: the shopping mall. But a trip to the mall has never been so desperate, or so terrifying.





Queen Joanna  (Kate Danley) [United States]
Kate Danley is a USA Today bestselling author and her Maggie for Hire series has been optioned for film and television.  Her book The Woodcutter won the Garcia Award for Best Fiction Book of the Year.
Thrust into a loveless marriage of state, Queen Joanna soon discovers her new palace is home to many dark secrets. And when a face in the mirror confronts her with a dire warning, she realizes her life is at risk. Has she awakened a curse—or been struck by madness? “Queen Joanna” presents a haunting twist on the legend of Bloody Mary.

Mouth Breathers (Hugh Howey) [United States]
Hugh Howey is the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling WOOL series.
Moving to a new town, starting off at a new school, meeting new kids... it's never easy. And it only gets harder when the new town and the new school and the new kids are on a different planet. But sometimes, something happens that makes it worth all the trouble.

   
The Man With Two Legs (Ernie Lindsey) [United States]
Ernie Lindsey is a USA Today bestselling author. His book Sara’s Game was a #2 Kindle Best Seller on Amazon
Many winters ago, the man with two legs managed to escape the oppressive maiming rituals of Tritan’s government. Now he stands on a hillside overlooking the city, a bomb in his rucksack, determined to bring about two impossible results: his mother’s rescue and freedom for his people.


Cipher  (Sara Foster) [Australia]
Sara Foster is a freelance editor and an Australian best-selling psychological suspense writer.
When Beatrice leaves her family behind to visit her father, she never imagines she might not see them again. But then a bomb goes off close to home, and Beatrice must rely on a stranger’s help to find out what’s happened—and whether or not her husband and children have survived.




Made of Stars (Anne Frasier) [United States]
Anne Frasier (a.k.a. Theresa Weir) is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-five books and numerous short stories.
A genius vampire named Sinclair creates an alternate world where vampires can experience a traditional human life of love, marriage, and children. Sixteen-year-old Gabriel is Sinclair’s beta tester and volunteers to fall in love with a coffee-shop girl. But when the pain of love becomes overwhelming, Gabriel questions his decision. “It’s too real,” he tells Sinclair. “You made it too real.”


Gyre-Witchery (Kev Heritage) [United Kingdom]
Kev Heritage is a popular U.K. author of fast-paced adventure fantasy and science fiction.
All Tam wanted was to be loved. Was that so hard? Made outcast because of her green eyes—the sign of witchery—Tamina, a well-meaning simpleton, is shunned by a superstitious people who blame her for the ills that have overtaken their small island. It was not her fault that she put on weight while the others starved, or that wild animals slunk at her side, or that men and women both desired and despised her. But change was coming, brought upon the back of a terrifying squall…



The War Veteran (Susan May) [Australia]
Susan May is an international award-winning short story author who also writes books.
For seventy years, World War II veteran Jack Baker has endured vivid flashbacks to that horrific June day
on Omaha Beach. But tonight, the flashback will be terrifyingly different. Tonight it becomes real. Tonight, Jack’s seventy-year-old secret will come back to claim him.


The Greater Good (Mel Hearse) [Australia]
Mel Hearse is a successful freelance writer whose work has appeared in Australian local, national and international well known titles like Cosmopolitan.
When Lanie wakes up in a hospital bed with no idea how she got there, she tries desperately to work out why she was on the old loop road that’s been all but abandoned by the locals. Thinking there must be an obvious answer, Lanie leaves no stone unturned in her quest for an explanation. But when all is revealed, she is left with only one question—and no good answers.

REDOUBT (Michael Bunker) [United States]
Michael Bunker is author of the acclaimed WICK series, The Silo ArchipelagoThe Last Pilgrims, and Pennsylvania, and the non-fiction bestseller Surviving Off Off-Grid.
Phillip is a militia commander who has planned for a decade to defend the pacifist Vallenses of Central Texas with his army if ever the world tips over and goes to hell. He never thought he’d be on a skiing trip to New Mexico when the end comes.


The Man Who Remembered Today (Peter Cawdron) [Australia]
Peter Cawdron is an acclaimed science fiction author from Australia
Kareem wakes with a headache. A bloody bandage wrapped around his head tells him this isn’t just another day in the Big Apple. The problem is, he can’t remember what happened to him. He can’t recall anything from yesterday. The only memories he has are from events that are about to unfold today, and today is no ordinary day.