Another Round @ The Crow Bar #12 – December 2017


focus-article-header-jan-feb17-christina-engela

Hello friends and fans!

Welcome to my 12th newsletter: December 2017 – jam-packed with tidbits and information about new releases and projects I’m currently busy with!

Coming up in this edition of Another Round @ The Crow Bar:

Regular updates, new releases, and a monthly spotlight on one of my books, this time “Prodigal Sun“, book 5 in The Quantum Series! Included in this month’s newsletter, two extracts from a new release: “Panic! Horror In Space #3.

Hello!

As you might notice, I’ve made a few small detail changes to the format of the newsletter this time! It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since I started posting this newsletter, and what a productive year it was!

During 2017, I managed to complete and publish 6 new titles this year alone, pushing my count up to 22 individual titles published in total! This year I also released an update of a non-fiction title, and had a poem published as a contribution to an anthology about the walking disaster known as Donald Trump and his effects! I still have a load of projects on the assembly line, some of which should be completed sometime in 2018.

Some of you may think that I publish an awful amount of material per year, and naturally some of you may fear that this could negatively affect the quality of my work – but have no fear! 🙂 If you remember, in mid 2016 I parted ways with my American publisher and went back to what is called ‘indie’ or independent publishing. I had been with them for only one and a half years, and prior to that, I had started out as an indie author anyway. When I got picked up by the publisher in 2014, part of the deal was that I had to take down all my already published books so that they could be published under their label, which I did – but they only got two titles out in two years – and I then had eight books! At that rate, I was never going to get them all out!

In the meantime, I finished several new projects and started new ones. In 2016, when I went back to indie publishing, I simply reformatted the two books they’d published under their label along with the rest that had been waiting in the wings – and re-published them all in the dazzling high quality format you can see them in today! A friend of mine, author Alex S. Johnson said:

“I’d like to offer my congratulations to Christina Engela for showing great resourcefulness in the quickest recovery from losing a publisher I’ve ever seen. It’s a tribute to her ingenuity that she doesn’t waste time belaboring her losses, but simply moves ahead.” – Alex S. Johnson, author of ‘The Doom Hippies’.

I’ve often joked that I write in relays… that is, while I seem to finish stories in fairly rapid succession, I work a bit on one story… and then I leave it to work on another, and then another, and so on. Sometimes I work on three or four stories a day, and sometimes I focus just on one until it’s finished – although that is more rare! I find that it keeps my mind fresh, and often I will get ideas about a book while working on another one – and then work on the story with a fresh perspective!

Sometimes a short story or a novella will lie in my file for a good few years before it actually gets finished to the point where I feel it is ready to be published. Rarely do I start and finish a book in the same year these days – in fact, I laid the groundwork for the concepts for the stories I’ve recently published in the Quantum Series (“Prodigal Sun” and “High Steaks“) about a decade ago.

I guess it should be no surprise if I told you that, following this method, there are still quite a lot of stories in my files that I’m working on – so the risk of me running out of ideas or material, or the risk of delivering a substandard writing project is… well, very low to say the least!

In the meantime, I also drew some cartoon promotional items (which I called “Gone Quantum”) that help to explain various background aspects of some of my stories and characters – you can view them here:

But before I waffle on too much, let’s get on with the newsletter! 🙂

New Releases

Panic! Horror In Space #3” was published on 18 November 2017 and is now also available cheap-cheap on Amazon for $2.99 (ebook version)! The paperback version (pocketbook size) goes for $14.99.

The third volume in this series of horror misadventures in deep space (with the crew of the starship Mercury) features two more related short stories entitled “Miora” and “The Big Rain“. What, you may be asking yourself, is there to panic about?

You can find out here.

The Galaxii Series

Galaxii – Into The Abyss” – a special omnibus of all three already released titles in the Galaxii Series, was released on 23 June and is only available in paperback 6″ x 9″ format. Work on book 4, “Where Darkness Softly Treads” is still pending due to other projects at this time.

The Quantum Series

The Quantum Series – Keep Off The Crabbygrass”, an omnibus of The Quantum Series titles 1, 2, 3 and 4 (“Black Sunrise”, “The Time Saving Agency”, “Dead Man’s Hammer” and “Loderunner”) was released in July 2017.

About The Quantum Series will give you more background about the series, its settings and characters. To get a better idea of what the latest two titles are about, read What Readers Can Expect In “Prodigal Sun”, “High Steaks”, “Fortitude” & “The Last Hurrah”.

Panic! Horror In Space

Panic! is a sci-fi/horror series, which will have some decidedly sci-fi characters encountering some decidedly horror entities – ghosts, haunted objects, zombies, etc. along with my usual twisted brand of humor! The first two titles are available in paperback and ebook versions on various distribution platforms including Amazon and Lulu. “Panic! Horror In Space #1” and “Panic! Horror In Space #2” were released earlier this year and “Panic! Horror In Space #3” was just released on 18 November 2017!

Below, brief synopses of the two stories in volume 3, and extracts for you to enjoy! 🙂

“Christina Engela proudly presents the 3rd volume in a series of horror misadventures in deep space with the crew of the I.S.S. Mercury.

MioraAfter a few hair-raising assignments – and some even more harsh treatment at the hands of his skeptical superiors, Captain Flane and the crew of the Terran starship Mercury were only too happy to be sent on a truly mind-numbingly boring assignment: to survey and catalogue every planet, moon, asteroid and speck of space-dust in a previously unexplored star system. There, on a long-dead world scarred by an ancient war of self-annhilation, they discover a deserted alien ship on the surface, stranded since the great calamity that ended the burgeoning civilization that once lived there. The fact that Flane’s best friend and executive officer, Commander Vic Chapman, got all aflap about detecting life on board that ship, didn’t make things any easier.

“In a show of faith, which might have been a little misplaced, Commodore Peters had sent the still-reeling Captain Flane back out again in the Mercury with a replacement crew on a ‘milk-run’ to babysit a small group of paranormal investigators (one of whom had been her favorite nephew) from a famous TV show called “Specter Adventures”. Their destination turned out to be the most haunted abandoned Terran outpost in the galaxy. Milk-run. Right. What could possibly go wrong?

Upon his return to the starbase a couple of days later, tail between his legs, Captain Flane very reluctantly reported that four members of the “Specter Adventures” crew – including the favorite nephew of the aforementioned Commodore – were missing, presumed dead… and handed over a report laced with words like ‘paranormal’, ‘entities’, ‘invisible forces’, and ‘spooks’. What happened next was reflected later in the star-base log as an ‘official reprimand’, although in reality it featured a very frisky sparring session between Flane and the lively ninety-eight year old Commodore Peters (and her favorite nine-iron) across the entire length of the star-base, with six or seven very well-built security marines in hot pursuit, and a short stay in the brig for Flane. Things carried on after that pretty much as before – which was part of the problem.

When Flane really thought hard about it, he realized his most recent reprimand (this time at the hands of Admiral Tawney) had been far less severe than the previous one. At least that one hadn’t featured any golf clubs or threats to his physical wellbeing. Why? Well, aside from the minor detail that one of the loderunner Marconi’s crewmen who was under his care in Mercury’s sickbay at the time – had actually been on fire at one point …that is, while in the actual bed – and that Captain Flane had taken the Mercury on an unauthorized joyride back to Floridia-7 (the site of his previous ignominious offense) the fact that nobody had expired during that little adventure did go a long way to softening Admiral Tawney’s demeanor.”

The Big RainIt’s a funny old ‘verse,’ Stuart Flane – Captain of the Terran starship Mercury, thought. Most people who found out a cursed object was responsible for the untimely messy – and unavoidably mysterious deaths of 13 people, would steer the hell clear of it… but for some weird reason, some people seemed to think that owning it was a smart move – or that it would end well for them! Unfortunately for Flane and his intrepid crew, their latest assignment – being sent to relieve a terraforming plant on Atooin of such a cursed object – things did not go without a hitch – but then, the thing was called ‘the Jug of Death‘, and obviously with good reason…”

“The object had been uncovered by a couple of workers just a year prior, while they were leveling and clearing land which was to be used to expand the atmo-processing plant just south of the main complex. The silver jug was dug out by hand from the dry Atooin soil. It looked like it had been tucked into an alcove in the buried remnants of a low stone wall, which had been described as ‘some kind of foundation wall built of rough native stones’.

The correct procedure when uncovering things of that nature was not followed, in that the Company’s small platoon of anthropologists and other lab-coat-wearing scientists with a keen interest in such things was not notified, and the man who found it kept it quiet and hid it – presumably thinking it was a rather nice keepsake to take with him one day when he returned home again. The foundations were destroyed by the earth moving machinery and never investigated further – and the site now lay beneath Vent Number 12, a towering, hollow cylindrical chimney that spewed moisture into the planet’s air. This cunning little dodge might never have come to light, except that death seemed to follow this antique silver jug. Like a homing pigeon – well, homing.

Its finder died in a mysterious freak accident less than two days later, apparently choked to death alone, chewing on a taco while doing naked aerobics, or so the story went. A little while later, a friend of the deceased found the jug while going through the dead man’s possessions, and decided to keep it for himself. Again, the unfortunate new owner died within a few days – this time of a rather messy industrial accident involving a stone crusher. As though following a strange pattern, the mysterious silver jug was again passed on with that man’s possessions to the next new owner, who shortly afterwards followed the first two in a string of suspicious accidents that rapidly become the basis of Atooin’s growing new local urban legend.

The pattern of mysterious deaths continued, from owner to owner – with no discernible sign of foul play – until the mysterious alien artifact reached its twelfth owner just the day before… and even though someone – presumably one of its previous owners – had marked it with a paper tag that read “BEWARE! THIS IS THE JUG OF DEATH!” the new owner thought it might be a good idea to auction it off that night at the Crazy Eight – the canteen that catered to workers at the atmo-processor! Even more unbelievably, someone actually bought it!

Just thirty hours later, the Jug of Death’s newest owner – number 13, was dead – snuffed out in a mind-boggling domestic accident in his bathtub inside own locked apartment, involving of all things, a cake of soap and an ordinary kitchen blender – and no sign of foul play. The Deputies – and the forensics department – were completely baffled, and to be honest, a little spooked. So far, the twelfth owner of the Jug of Death was the only person to have had ownership of the item without dying. At least, not yet. Sheriff Yackley was pretty sure Trucilla Gorny – the seller – felt pretty darn clever for outwitting ‘the curse of the Jug of Death’.”

For more detail about this series, visit About Panic! Horror In Space.

Non-Fiction

On A Personal Note

  • Fan Mail & Honorable Mentions

Noticed in the past month by my long-suffering PA and fiance’e, Wendy K. Gloss, were the following honorable mentions:

  1. Trendolizer.com shared one of my recent Facebook posts as ‘trending’.
  2. Quotecatalog.com displays one of my quotes.
  3. Takealot.com (South Africa sa-flag ) now also (finally) lists some of my books on their website (prices in ZAR sa-flag !) 🙂 …Unfortunately they only list the ebook versions, except for “Bugspray“… and for some unfathomable reason, the cover images aren’t visible. Perhaps they need a reboot?

I display my Fan Mail & Compliments with pride, gratitude and humility. You are always welcome to have a look.

  • Hate Mail & Horrible Mentions

August was rather quiet on the hate mail front. I’m almost sad to say I have nothing new to show you this time! (I may have something to show you next time though!)

(I’m rather proud of my hate mail, and you can review it here – but be forewarned, don’t do it while eating or drinking or you might choke while laughing!)

  • Interviews

Nothing new during this past month! If you would like to do an interview with me about my works, please do get in touch!

  • New Videos

Nothing new at the moment, but in the meantime, here is the book trailer video for “High Steaks”!

  • New Listings

All my books now seem to be listed just about everywhere – except for the ones I haven’t published yet! AmazonAnobiiBarnes & NobleBol (NL), Book DepositoryeBookMallFictionDBFnac (FR), Foyles (UK), GoodreadsIndigoiTunesKobo (prices in ZAR sa-flag), LybraryNookTakealot(prices in ZAR sa-flag) and 24 Symbols, Christina recommends readers make their purchases via Lulu.

Monthly Book Spotlight [Spoiler Alert]: “Prodigal Sun”

“Prodigal Sun” is the fifth title in the Quantum Series by Christina Engela – a writer described as “that rarest of authors – able to seamlessly blend together elements of dark horror and sci-fi to create stories that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned.” (Mark Woods, author of ‘Time of Tides’ and ‘Fear of the Dark‘). Her writing in the sci-fi genre has been described as “one of the most unique and captivating styles I’ve encountered in science fiction.” (Alex S. Johnson, author of The Doom Hippies.)

Of her characterizations, Sarah Rutledge Fischer of Focus Mid-South Magazine said “Like many of us, Engela has been frustrated with the representation of LGBT characters in mainstream fiction, where gay characters are often nothing more than superficially portrayed plot devices or worse, the object of satire and ridicule. Engela’s work breaks the trend. In her stories, a gay man may be the anti-hero or villain, but not because he is gay. A transwoman may fall in love with a cisgender straight man, and their relationship doesn’t revolve around her gender identity. LGBT characters, in Engela’s work, follow narrative arcs that occasionally intersect with their sexual or gender identity, but are more often driven by the human characteristics shared by all people—hope, fear, ambition, humor, and love.

Set after the fourth book (“Loderunner“), “Prodigal Sun” continues the saga of the ‘third rate’ Terran colony on the planet Deanna, and the diverse characters the reader has no doubt by now become familiar with. Old familiar faces rub elbows with brand new characters in “Prodigal Sun“, some heroes, and some villains. Readers will remember the crotchety old military veterans of the Skegg’s Valley Dynamite Fishing Club, and of course, Fred the Arborian.

navigational-symbols-deanna

Although the author has demonstrated her adeptness at writing dark tales infused with humor (“Dead Man’s Hammer“) previously, she takes this ability up a few notches with “Prodigal Sun“. In this story, which is set in the distant future where human rights (and in some cases inhuman rights) has become so secure and safe under the rule of the benevolent Terran government, that they are very much taken for granted, something unusual starts to happen. It goes unnoticed at first, a steady increase in vandalism, assaults, arson and acts we today would associate with the term ‘hate crime’. Directed against minorities… the non-human aliens, immigrants, LGBT folks, diverse religions and cultures, awful things start to happen.

Readers will recall Danielle Grauffis, the younger sister of Jenny who lives on the ranch outside Atro City, who early on in this tale mistakenly attends a mysterious rally at the varsity campus that takes a bad turn for Nazi. After several unusual assaults occur on the same night in the same area, with victims all reporting having attended the same event on campus grounds – which the Atro City University Chancellor denies any knowledge of – suspicions become aroused in local law enforcement, which up until then had been completely immersed in arrangements for an imminent royal visit now only days away.

Suddenly it becomes apparent to Sheriff Peggy-Ann Muller (now the Chief S.O.D on Deanna, who is “really an okay sorta gal” according to the Mayor of Atro City – and up to her eyeballs in strange crimes and daily committee meetings) that something frightening is afoot, and it seemed to be getting worse very quickly! And – where did all those skinheads come from suddenly?

Things progress in “Prodigal Sun” at a steady and at times, blistering pace. A new set of characters is introduced, living in an underworld, a sub-culture existing within the broader human culture of Deanna – but at the same time invisible to the uninformed eye. The reader is introduced to Marla de Bris and the vampire underground, and Tracey Ferris, a bounty hunter who becomes stranded on Deanna when her only transportation is destroyed by a rival with a yen for calling himself a vampire hunter!

Brandon Carver comes to Deanna with an ulterior motive – to join a clandestine quasi-political group which has plans to disrupt all communications between the colony and the rest of the Terran Empire, as well as the imminent grand parade at the launch of the royal visit and create an independent republic!

Slide 26.jpg

The intentions of the Deannan Service League are far from noble however, and suddenly the small backwater planet where almost nothing high profile ever happens, finds itself at the center of a fascist populist revolution! The situation is about to turn into a bloodbath for the various minority social groups on Deanna – including several vulnerable characters marked as ‘undesirable’ by the new regime… But wait – someone else is watching all of this unfold!

While the purpose isn’t as grandiose as saving the universe this time, the principle is the same – just on a smaller scale! In “Prodigal Sun“, Engela builds on her unique and amusing concept of time-travel, because while Time Agent extraordinaire Johnathan Scrooby cannot interfere – he most certainly can ‘help’ a little! Who should he enlist to aid him in a little time insurrection of his own, but long-standing friend Gary Beck a.k.a. Beck the Badfeller and his sweetheart and former C.I.A. agent Cindy-Mei Winter, who are both vacationing with her family on Mars at the time.

The already familiar regular characters in “the Quantum Series” continue their adventures in this latest book!

To get a better idea of what this story is about, read What Readers Can Expect In “Prodigal Sun”, “High Steaks” & “The Last Hurrah”

Published: Feb 23, 2017
Pages: 310
Binding: Perfect-bound Paperback
Dimensions (inches): 4.25″ wide x 6.88″ tall (pocketbook)

“Prodigal Sun” is the fifth book in the Quantum Series. To read more about the settings and characters of this series, visit About The Quantum Series and Characters & Plot Devices. To find out about Christina Engela’s main writing focus, read No LGBT Stereotypes Here!

‘Like’ Prodigal Sun by Christina Engela on Facebook

In Closing

Phew! Well, that’s been a very hectic and busy year for us at the Crow Bar! It’s time to relax, take a vacation, and take a break from writing for a bit! I’ll pick up the slack again in January – and hopefully I’ll have some more good things to tell you by then!

Well, that’s it, folks! 🙂

My fiance’e and I, wish you a wonderful and happy holiday season, Merry Xmas, Io Saturnalia, happy whatever you and yours celebrate at this time of year – oh, and a happy and safe new year for 2018!

Thanks again for all your support, friendship and interaction! Until next time,

Cheers! 🙂


If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website. If you want to know what Christina Engela’s focus group or target market is, please read here. If you would like to read more about Christina’s life and experiences, please go to her Biography and the article “Timeline of Milestones, Awards & Achievements“. To leave her a message, please use the Contact form. Visit her Shop. ‘Add’ Christina Engela on Facebook (Profile). ‘Like’ Christina Engela on Facebook (Page). All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2017.

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