Another Round At The Crow Bar: #26 February 2019


 

Hello friends and fans!

Welcome to my 26th newsletter!

In Brief:

Hi folks!

I’ve a really exciting new release to tell you about – which is in the very next section, so without any fur- well, you get the idea!

On with the show!

New Releases

As a writer, it goes without saying that I’m very proud of my work – so on the occasion that I sometimes go back to revise something I wrote previously, then it’s occasion to celebrate – at least it is for me!

You may recall, if you’ve been following my updates and newsletters, that last year I revised the entire Galaxii Series, and re-released the first three titles “Blachart“, “Demonspawn” and “Dead Beckoning” – and then I released the next new title, “Lange’s Legacy“, which had originally been a shorter novelette called “Space Vacation“. Well, this year I’ve embarked on a similar journey of revision, and I’ve chosen to work on the Quantum Series this year.

Today I’ve just released the Fourth Edition of book 1 in my Quantum Series: “Black Sunrise“. The new version comes with a beautiful new cover, is over 11,000 words longer at 58,986 words – and has also been edited, grammar and spell-checked to my own exacting standard. I am very, very proud of this new edition!

When I first wrote “Black Sunrise” back in 2005 – a whole 14 years ago, it’s safe to say that I was a different person to who I am now. I was in my mid-twenties then, and was right in the middle of my own gender reassignment process, in fact I only had my final surgeries the following year! I wrote this book partly as a way to work through my own gender transition, and while Cindy-Mei Winter was trying to deal with the same issues in her reality, the truth is that I was too!

As authors, I feel we should realize that as people, we never stop learning and gathering experiences – and that as authors, the believability and realism we crave to put in our stores comes from that learning, and those life experiences – and we write from them. It should be expected that in a few years we might look back at some of our earlier works and feel the urge to tweak the words here and there… perhaps to reword entire sentences, or even to add a paragraph here, move another to a different spot… and so on. This is exactly what I’ve done – in order to satisfy my own slightly annoying perfectionist drive, and also to provide YOU, my beloved readers, with the best, most satisfying read possible.

I also need to add, that in the middle of the editing process of the recently completed new draft, I almost lost the only copy of the file! Having been a computer tech for years, I’d always advised people to make regular back-ups, and just for once, I’d been caught between back-ups – with the only file I’d worked on since starting work after my long December to early February holiday… lost somewhere on a hard-drive my laptop suddenly told me needed to be formatted before I could use it!

I tried a data recovery program – but that told me since all I had on the disk was ‘raw data’, I would have to run a deep scan of the entire disk – which took the PC nearly a day and a night! The next morning, when the scan had finished, I went through every doc and docx file the thing had found – which had all been numbered and nameless and re-dated – to try to find “Black Sunrise 2019 4th Edition”… in vain! I was very nearly in tears!

At that point, I sat and quietly considered my options – checking them off my list one by one. The recovery software hadn’t found my file at all, not even in a corrupted state! It was gone! What was I to do? Start the redraft over again from scratch? Redo two weeks of work? Oh, if only I’d emailed the thing to myself before closing it! If only I’d saved a copy of it on my PC’s desk top! If only, if only…

As a writer, my books are very much a special part of my life, my very soul! They’re like children to me, with lives and characteristics all their own – it was like someone had died! Oh, sure – I could work off the 2016 version of the manuscript again, as I’d done mere days before – and I was pretty sure I could still deliver a superb end-result… but it wouldn’t be the same! The variable in the scenario would be me – and I would be different because I would feel different about it than I did before… The words would be different, and the story would be different… I was so angry at myself! I even wished that Scrooby from the Time Saving Agency would drop in to help me out of this self-inflicted mess! I literally nearly walked out into the street to look for an ambusulance to run over me!

I regained my composure, and instead of taking the mobile drive outside to smash it into smithereens on the concrete, I decided to take another more technical approach to the issue. The problem was the file allocation table on the disk – which had become corrupted. I decided to look for some way to restore the FAT – and discovered a DOS command used in Windows: chkdsk/e:/f Unbelievable! After more than two days torturous suspense, just five minutes later, the entire hard-disk’s contents were restored! On checking, it was confirmed – I hadn’t lost a damned thing – other than two days sleep! I immediately made a back-up – AND emailed it to myself! …and let that be a lesson to you, writers – ALWAYS make back-ups!

Just a few days later, and the Fourth Edition of “Black Sunrise” was finished… Now perhaps you have an idea why writers – or *some* writers – put their hearts and souls into their storytelling?

Here’s the back cover blurb for the book:

Cindy-Mei Winter, who until recently had been Agent Winter, C.I.A. – that’s Colonial Intelligence Agency – had been one of their best agents… that is, until they threw her out for coming to work in a dress. After a disappointing and sudden end to what had been a promising career, Mei rewarded herself with a long relaxing vacation in the outback to celebrate her gender reassignment and her new start in life. The first stop on her journey turned out to be a little backwater planet called Deanna…

As a third-rate colony in the Terran Empire, Deanna had more than its fair share of dull moments… Dull – but also definitely weird… Deanna orbited a star called Ramalama – and if you think that’s funny, Deanna’s two moons were called Ding and Dong, respectively. (This was a local joke.)

When a single Ruminarii Hammerhead – the first seen by Humans in over eighty years, arrived to invade the small backwater Terran colony of Deanna, rather than cowering in their basements or running away, the ordinary people of Atro City headed to the spaceport to meet the aliens when they landed – and grabbed anything remotely resembling a weapon on the way out the door!

As bombs fell on Atro City, Cindy-Mei found herself in exactly the right place at the right time – but what should she do? She’d hoped to put her violent and somehow depressing past behind her, but now it seemed her new beginning (and her holiday) were going to have to wait! The Gimp were back, and this was no time to be a sissy! She faced seemingly insurmountable odds in the midst of panic, hysteria – falling sherry – and people hiding under furniture! What would she do?

Thankfully, with the assistance of an alien walking, talking plant called Fred the Arborian, a local bounty hunter called Beck the Badfeller – and the Skeggs Valley Dynamite Fishing Club, she wouldn’t have to find out alone.

“Quite simply, Christina Engela is one of the best voices in sci-fi right now and to not read her work would be to miss a treat!” – Mark Woods, author of Time of Tides and Fear of the Dark.

Now, a little more about the story itself:

Black Sunrise“, being sci-fi, is set in a distant possible future on a Terran colony world called Deanna, which has a charm all its own.

Cindy-Mei Winter, a former agent for the CIA (again, that’s Colonial Intelligence Agency) comes to Deanna to try to forget her male past and looking for a fresh start. The rest of the universe however, seems determined to get in her way. Just hours after her arrival, a single warship belonging to Humanity’s long-absent alien foe – the Ruminarii – attacks the colony.

The residents of Deanna’s capital, Atro City, are a pretty unique sort, and meet the invaders at the local space port with open arms. With the colony in the grips of confusion and thrown into disarray, the former Agent dons a sexy black outfit, retrieves her blaster from a secret compartment inside her luggage, and jumps back into action.

She immediately enlists the aid of Deanna’s most famous son – the legendary bounty hunter Beck the Badfeller, who – legend has it – is so good at his job that he could find the missing day in a leap year. Together they set out to track down the last surviving alien invader to escape the space port, and meet a few very interesting people along the way.

Among these, is an alien plant called Fred the Arborian, who talks and walks about while carrying – or rather, wearing his own pot. Gary Beck is a lot nicer than his name suggests – and despite his reputation for always getting his man… will he get his girl this time?

And now, a few extracts to help introduce some of the characters:

Cindy-Mei Winter:

Ruminarii were bad for everything, and not just business! Ruminarii didn’t trade – they just took whatever it was they wanted. Besides, when was the last time dropping a few bombs was the universal way to announce someone was looking to trade?

At the same time, Mei was also overcome by doubt and hesitation. This was her new life, not her old one! The old one was over! Well, it was supposed to be over now, wasn’t it? She was just Cindy-Mei now, not Agent Winter, C.I.A. anymore! She’d stopped working for the Agency months ago! Hell, it was nearly a year! But… but… the Ruminarii were back – and they were attacking the city! Shit was breaking loose all around her, and an alien attack, or even an invasion meant trouble for her and everybody on the planet! She mentally cursed the lack of information available to her! Was this the vanguard of an invasion? She couldn’t ignore the fact there was no significant military presence on Deanna to deal with this sort of threat – after all, that was why she chose to come to Deanna in the first place… To get away from it all. In contrast to everything she now felt and wanted, this was also an opportunity – her chance to prove her old colleagues at the Agency wrong. Cindy-Mei shrugged off a funny feeling that someone had just walked over her grave – or was going to sooner than she would like.

Back in her room, she closed her door and leaned against it, her eyes closed. “This isn’t right, it’s not fair,” She thought. “Not after everything I’ve been through to get here…”

“Life isn’t fair! Agent Winter thought right back at her.

Oh, Agent Winter! He knew all about life’s unfairness, about long nights out in the cold, being air-dropped into dangerous places, the sound of bullets and bolts as they narrowly missed their mark, and the hard feel of fatigues and the pressure of being an agent in the field! He knew all about being a square peg in a round hole and an outsider everywhere, even when he was on the inside – and even when he was among outsiders! Agent Winter was saying, “Now isn’t the time to be a sissy! Later maybe, but not now! Chicks can kick ass too, girl!”

Her alter ego was right, she thought. Being a woman didn’t mean having to be a sissy! Plenty of men had been accused of being sissies, and Mei knew very well that there were plenty of girls who were sissies too – and that although she enjoyed feeling feminine – she was no “sissy”. Resolved, Mei walked over to the traveling trunk and punched a code into its command interface. A small hidden panel slid open in the back and she reached slowly inside. Her hand looked small and awkward as it came back out holding the Glock 30, though the blackness of it offset the milk-whiteness of her skin and long delicate red nails nicely. She caught her reflection in the full-length mirror against the wall. “Frills and thrills,” She thought. “Fluffy slippers and a blaster. Hmm. Perhaps something in black?”

Beck the Badfeller:

Meanwhile on Deanna, Gary Beck, the famous bounty hunter also known as Beck the Badfeller, was at the wheel of his jeepo, which bounced happily along the dry dirt-track that led back to the small farming town of Lugaluru.

Life as a private investigator, slash bounty hunter wasn’t all that Gary Beck had wanted it to be. There weren’t any big mansions on a palm beach owned by an affluent writer generous enough to let him live rent-free and use his spare Ferrari – but then he had to ask himself, what could he expect, living on a planet like Deanna? As a third-rate colony in the Terran Empire, Deanna had more than its fair share of dull moments – that is, aside from having built a reputation for being the center of the universe as far as weirdness was concerned. As a foremost example of case in point, critics would almost invariably point out that Deanna orbited a star called Ramalama – and if you think that’s funny, Deanna’s two moons are called Ding and Dong respectively – this is a local joke – and if that weren’t actually weird enough, one of them also fell down occasionally – AND got put back up again!

Fred the Arborian:

“Your leaves are looking greener.” Mei remarked pleasantly. A roughly meter-high generous bush of thick fleshy green wiggled a few leaves at her in gratitude.
“Thanks. I got the computer to turn up the UV a little.”
Mei smiled, realizing that if she had seen that happen a few months earlier, she’d be half a block away by now, screaming. She made a mental note to remember to include sun-block in her morning routine – she didn’t want UV damage to her hard-won milk-white complexion.
“Fred?”
“Yes, Mei?”
“Something I’ve been wondering about…” She paused. “I don’t mean to pry.”
“Well, as you Terrans say – spit it out.” Said Fred plainly. “Ask away.”
“Erm. Okay, what’s it like to be a plant?”

Fred sighed. Being on the rec-dec meant that he spent a lot of time alone. The other plants weren’t much company. The ships computer was very accommodating, acceding to his requests for what he called good music – but its capacity for reason and conversation were somewhat limited. However, being the only member of his species on board meant that he spent a lot of his time, well, vegetating. The ship’s tiny crew came here fairly often in an attempt to relax. Crewmen would often sit and talk to him at odd hours of the cycle, often while slightly pickled – while wondering where that strange disembodied voice was coming from. Sometimes they would unload their worldly troubles on him and make him feel like a bartender – and a rather confused one, at that. They asked him questions that presupposed he somehow soaked up the wisdom of the universe through his aerial roots. He still didn’t understand the animal obsession with reproductive activities.

“Well,” said Fred after considering the question carefully. “Suppose I asked you ‘what’s it like to be human?’ I suppose you’d say, ‘Well you’ve got lots of muscles to move, squishy bits inside, you feed by actually sticking things into yourselves and you’ve got rocky bits inside called bones that stop your body from collapsing into a blob of goop on the floor.’ Well – now suppose I told you being a plant I don’t get around much, being pretty much rooted to the spot. I don’t like the nightlife ‘cos it’s too dark and people keep picking my flowers in spring. Suppose someone came along, ripped your balls off and walked off sniffing them? The point being, actually, that you couldn’t imagine my life as a plant any more than I could imagine being human. Understand?”

Mei waited for a definite pause before answering. “Umm. I suppose.”
“What kind of name is Winter, anyway? Not some sort of seasonal thing, is it?”
“It’s my last name. My full name is Cindy-Mei Winter.”
“That is a full name.” Said Fred. “Mine’s just Fred. Plain old Fred, first and last, all in one.”
“Tell me, Fred.” Said Cindy-Mei, risking another question, “What is it you like most about being a plant?”
Fred barely hesitated.
“I suppose it’s not having to pause for breath.” He replied almost smugly.

The S.V.D.F.C:

The Skeggs Valley Dynamite Fishing Club was perhaps best represented by one gentleman in particular, General Albert McIntyre-Smythe (retired), who was seventy-four years old. Although retired, the General was currently Chair of the Imperial Officers Reserve on Deanna, a veteran serviceman’s organization which officially cared for elderly or infirm former military staff, up to and including medical care and spousal benefits and even the planning of local social events. Unofficially, the Reserve was something of an extended military family, which had several social clubs, one of these being the reason why a collection of members were outside that night, for want of a better word, camping on the banks of the Whatoosie River in Skeggs Valley, which wound past the Southern side of Atro City to the sea.

Smythe was a firm believer in the adage that said “time flies when you’re having fun”, mainly because he’d been having a great deal of fun since he retired twenty years and a few months previously – some of it even self-inflicted – but probably more because he remembered his last day in uniform fondly as if it were yesterday. Smythe was a spry young man for his age, which was quite remarkable after a career spanning thirty-six years in the Starmarines. He’d been decorated with various – um, decorations, including the Silver Cluster (Gold), with bar, and several other good attendance medals, which just meant he was at work most days without screwing up badly enough to get fired. He’d seen action in several campaigns in the Empire’s short history and had been an accomplished soldier in his time. He’d got the purple-heart thirteen times – which went some way to explain why he got the nickname of ‘Fucking Blaster Magnet’ early on in his career, from what was left of his first platoon. All in all, Smythe wasn’t in bad shape for a man who’d spent most of his youth running around getting shot at and blown up. He was at least still breathing on his own and didn’t need any prosthetic devices to live his life the way he wanted to.

Smythe’s military activities since retiring on Deanna twenty years ago consisted mainly of arranging benefit dances for the Veteran’s Widows and Orphans Fund and (of course) the regular piss-ups around campfires in Skeggs Valley while indulging in some harmless dynamite fishing with the boys on the Whatoosie River every other week or so.

The city was under attack, which meant he was here and not there (that is in the wrong place at the right time). It was so exhilarating, he almost broke into a smile. His top lip tensed up with anticipation and his thinly trimmed mustache began to quiver a little, which sort of made him resemble a rat sniffing cheese. Right!

“Okay, men!” The General bellowed. “Rise and shine! Up you get, wakey, wakey!”

Grumbling, still half asleep, partially intoxicated and suffering from potential PTSD in varying degrees; the party stirred and lifted their heads to look at him as if he was from Proxima Centauri. Another dull boom sounded off in the distance, just as a small bright mushroom finished blooming on the horizon.

“Hear that?” He said, pointing. “D’you see that? The city’s under attack. Come – on, let’s go! Sergeant Major Wilkins, get the weapons and ammo, Colonel Riley – get the vehicle ready – Commander Atkins, break camp and pack it all in, we’re going! C’mon people, let’s move like we’re still got a pulse! That goes for you too, Jordan!”

Commander Atkins (67, formerly of the Space Fleet) leaned on his walking stick, muttering as he slowly fumbled with his sleeping bag. Colonel Riley (69, Starmarines Armored Division) said a naughty word as he dropped his for the second time and watched it unroll itself again. Each lens in his glasses was as thick as armor plate. WO1 Wilkins, who was an eighty year old former Starmarine RSM, was still standing there, looking at him with a blank expression.
“Eh?” He shouted, cupping a hand by his ear.
“Put your eyes on, you deaf bastard!” Smythe chided his companion. “So you can see what I’m saying!”
“What?”

“Damn!” The General thought. “That’s what dynamite fishing does for you. Hard-of-hearing, poor bastard.” Beside him, young Jordan finished struggling to his feet, took a step forward and fell over with a loud thud, still zipped up to his neck inside his sleeping bag. “Maybe,” the General thought while exercising notable restraint, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. Perhaps it would be a better idea just to take this lot back to Shady Palms. There’d be a nice martini at the Lodge for him – and Mr. Jordan over there could go back to his rubber room.

Black Sunrise” is the first 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.)

Currently Available Titles:

The Galaxii Series

"Blachart" by Christina Engela "Demonspawn" by Christina Engela "Dead Beckoning" by Christina Engela "Lange's Legacy" by Christina Engela "The Galaxii Series Omnibus 1" by Christina Engela

The Quantum Series

 Front Innocent Minds - Front.jpg  Front Front Quantum Omnibus Front prodigal-sun-front high-steaks-front

Panic! Horror In Space

 Panic! Horror In Space #2 Front 

Other:

Front OKAKJLY Lulu - Front.jpg 

Non-Fiction

slide1 Front Spread Cover   

On A Personal Note

  • Fan Mail & Honorable Mentions

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

  • Hate Mail & Horrible Mentions

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 at it!

  • Interviews

If you would like to do an interview with me about my works, please do get in touch!


CHRISTINA WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! A few nice words go a long way! Please leave your REVIEWS on Academia.eduAnobiiApple iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Bol, Book Depository, Dilmot eBookMall, FictionDB, Fnac, Foyles, Goodreads!Indigo, Kobo , Lulu, Lybrary, MoboReaderNook, Smashwords, Takealot, 24 Symbols – or wherever you see Christina’s books – or just send her an email via the Contact form!


Support The Author

Although most titles listed are available in paperback and/or ebook formats through most online retailers internationally, Christina prefers readers make their purchases via her website, or via Lulu. This is because while all retailers charge the same price to YOU the reader, Lulu gives the author the largest portion of the proceeds from your purchase (her website gives it ALL) – which is really, really important if you’re the author! 🙂


In Closing

Well, that’s all for this time, folks! 🙂

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

Cheers! 🙂


If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to christinaengela@gmail.com or use the Contact form.

Show your appreciation for Christina’s work!

All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2019.

 

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