Hello, friends and fans!
Welcome to my 73rd monthly newsletter! Pull up a chair, let’s chat! In this month’s newsletter: updates on publishing, reviews and news. Let’s take a look at this months’ “stuff”!
Some General News
Firstly, happy new year! I hope 2023 brings us both better experiences and fortunes than 2022! While most of you were slacking off in December, I was working on behind the scenes stuff necessary to keep my books moving – which included, unfortunately, marketing! (As you may recall me saying, that’s something I really dislike doing.) Be that as it may, I did plenty of updating of the website, some banners and imagery, smaller technical things that needed seeing to, and I also managed to publish one or two support and technical items relating to my stories, including a Galaxii technical manual about the Space Fleet, and a coloring book.
During the closing days of December I also managed to redraft and update “Portfolio” for 2023, so visitors can download it and use it to look through my catalog later when they feel like it.
I had actually last released “Portfolio” in 2021 and was in the process of completing the update for 2022 when Brandon Mullins, my publisher at Moon Books Publishing, suddenly died. Let’s just say that after that, I didn’t really see the point in releasing an update since my books were in limbo for a considerable portion of the year, and just leave it at that. Nevertheless, things are settled now, and for the last few months it’s been back to business as usual, so having skipped an update, here’s the updated current catalog!
Moving on to other matters.
News About Writing & Publishing:
This is the current state of things:
- Audiobooks on ACX: The process of transferring my audiobooks from Moon Books Publishing’s ACX account to Nigel Peever‘s ACX account is 99% complete. I’m still waiting for confirmation that the audiobook for “High Steaks” has been transferred, then it’s all over!
- Recording & New Audiobooks: Darla Middlebrook has been uploading new chapters recorded for the Panic! series to ACX, and is about to start recording book 3, “We All Fall Down“.
- Marketing: During December, I was notified that short stories I submitted to “SFN Anthology 2023” were accepted! More news about that as it happens.
- Writing: This past month I published a new addition to the Space Sucks! franchise – book 3, “Space Really Sucks!“. Also returning to my line-up is the coloring book “Ramalama-side Up!” and “The Galaxii Guide to the Terran Space Fleet“.
I also worked on the editing side of a commissioned editorial work for Peever Publishing: “Christina Engela Investigates: Pirates of the Sea & Sky“. In order for there to be an audiobook, there has to be an eBook or paperback first! Thus far I’ve been gathering public domain short stories about pirates and also submissions sent by some authors, and preparing the formatting of the finished article. So far there will be contributions by Matt Bradley Tshirgi and Thomas M. Malafarina and Anya Louw to look forward to! More about this to follow.On Dec 30 I finished copy-editing a 1 act play called “The Traitor Loyal”, a play I first wrote back in 1991! It was sort of like 17 year old me versus older, more mature me working on the same project! Then on Dec 31, I finished a new short story entitled “The Pirates Of Carthagena”. The latter will likely be included in the Pirates anthology as well as appear in the next Space Sucks collection.
- Marketing: The webzine I’m working on is called Schtick! You can Send Your Submissions Now: Schtick! Webzine for Sci-fi & Transgressive Fiction. Schtick! first edition will be out sometime later in January, so send in your submissions now!
- Local News: As I mentioned last time, on Tuesday 28 November I had a chat with my local publisher, Hally Park Publishers, and it seems things are picking up again – sufficiently so to become more hopeful about the future of my plans to get my foot in the door in the South African market, to the point where I can actually have book signings and the like! Now in the meantime, the Hally Park edition of “Blachart” has been scheduled for printing early in January, so things are really happening on this side for a change! Stay tuned for more news on this matter in the near future!
I will, as always, keep you updated.
Currently Available Titles:
My books are available as eBooks, Paperbacks, and Audiobooks, and you can find them everywhere. Click the links in the slideshow below to view titles available in these formats.
If you’re still wondering where to find them in the format of your choice, you should read “Where To Get My Books – Specially For My South African Readers!” (recently updated).
On November 24 I also published the second edition of “A Guide To Self-publishing In South Africa“! It is now available on Amazon in eBook format. A paperback version is on its way as well!
These are the most recent new titles published in 2022:
My most recent new releases in 2022 were “Christina Engela’s Strangely Compelling Scifi” (September 5, 2022) preceded by “We All Fall Down” (July 27, 2022) and “Sentinel” (May 07, 2022) and a trio published on the 19th of December 2022: “Space Really Sucks!“, “Ramalama-side Up!” and “The Galaxii Guide to the Terran Space Fleet“.
The starship I.S.S. Munray is a ship crewed by a lot of ill-disciplined misfits barely one step away from another court-martial – and the Captain’s the worst of the lot! When the opportunity presents itself for Vice-Admiral Beens to rid himself of the troublesome, malingering Wynne Polluk, he jumps at the chance to introduce a new broom, in the form of one Sonia La Belle.
In order to meet the deadline, she must deal with all the obstacles in her path; an old rundown ship whose engines lie disassembled, an uncooperative senior staff, and negative hopeless crewmembers who’d probably be more at home in the stockade than running a starship! The Munray and her crew resume their life of routine space patrol – which is soon interrupted when the ship is diverted to pursue a pair of dangerous fugitives who’ve escaped from a max-security facility – one that was supposed to be escape-proof! This turns out to be an exercise which will push ship and crew – and the Captain – to their limits!
Can they overcome all the obstacles they face, track down the Corsair fugitives, and do so in time to prevent the destruction of Earth?
We All Fall Down
Stuart Flane, Captain of the starship Mercury is called in unwillingly, kicking and screaming, to investigate the mystery of the ghost-ship Amundsen, which has just pitched up out of the black after being missing for 63 years. On top of that, Flane must also race to a mining colony where strange preternatural fuckery has resulted in six missing children and a series of inexplicable related events had left the subterranean city in a state of panic. What dark, aberrant secret lay behind the tangible terror of Caverna?
How would Flane’s skeptical superiors react to his next report – and above all, how would he word it? The word “carefully” always came to mind. What was he supposed to do – lie? Well, if he didn’t use apparent trigger words like “ghost”, “haunted” or “undead”, that’s pretty much what he’d have to do! Trouble was, some high-ups at Fleet HQ were starting to ask pointed questions about his reports – and sooner or later, Flane worried, someone was going to turn up demanding answers.
The astute Captain’s fears are realized when the Mercury is ordered to Starbase 43, where Commodore Link is waiting to ask a few questions about Flane’s reports. The Commodore, a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic and heavy-handed disciplinarian, makes it his business to interrogate and intimidate crewmembers referenced in Flane’s reports – at least, the ones who aren’t dead yet. Flane grumbles as Link’s investigation progressively turns his life into a bit of a miserable hell. Then, as if by coincidence, the Mercury is redirected to a nearby industrial colony to investigate disturbances at what – much to Flane’s acute embarrassment, turns out to be one of the most haunted hotels in the outblack.
Christina Engela’s Strangely Compelling Science Fiction (Book 1)
“Sci-fi is the main thing.” I was told in the original brief by Brandon Mullins, CEO and owner of Moon Books Publishing. “Compelling would be nice. Strange is only a suggestion.”
That set the theme (and the title) in stone, and thus it was that Christina Engela’s Strangely Compelling SciFi was born! I set out to look for stories which fit these parameters – sci-fi which celebrates the weird, embraces the unusual, seeks to unscrew the inscrutable… and is also… strangely compelling! If that’s what you’re after, you’ve come to the right place!
This anthology contains eight strangely compelling sci-fi stories by a group of four talented, imaginative fellow writers: H.G. Emert, Thomas M. Malafarina and Major Roxbrough – and me!
This particular title was originally published by Moon Books Publishing, but as Brandon Mullins sadly passed away in January of this year, his widow Elizabeth returned the rights to the book to me. I have now republished it on my own, and it’s now available in its second edition format via all the usual places.
A Guide To Self-Publishing In South Africa
So you wrote a book. Be it a novel, a collection of short stories, a how-to-braid-your-own-back-hair-without-a-mirror-and-a-third-hand guide, or an academic research paper about the fascinating night life of hump-backed snails. Whatever it is, you need to get it out there where it will be read, appreciated and praised for the work of genius it really is!
The only trouble is, you don’t know what to do next – and who could blame you? After all, you’ve never done this before! Writing is your game – not cover design, working with images and associated software, marketing – and as for the internet, don’t even go there! It’s all way too complicated! Right?
It can really feel that way sometimes – but the truth is, modern self-publishing is really a lot easier than you may think. It doesn’t have to be as complicated as doing quantum physics – say, like shooting a playing card through the center diamond with a pistol, blindfolded, while riding a dairy cow backwards.
But… you live in South Africa, where almost everything is stacked against you from the start!
Many South Africans today have a story or two to tell – the only trouble is, writing (or typing) the story is just the first part of the journey for an author. It’s what comes after that part that stumps them. What do you do next? How do you get your masterpiece out there? Do you send it to every publishing company you can Google in the hope that someone – anyone – will show interest? What about publishing it yourself? Does that sound crazy, or what? Is it presumptuous? Is that “real” publishing – or is it “vanity press”?
It’s an undeniable fact that since the early 2000’s, the internet has changed the face of the publishing industry and ended monopolization by “traditional” publishers – opening the field up for ANYONE to self-publish their own books – AND being successful at it!
…Except of course, in South Africa.
For bright, talented up-and-coming authors who happen to live at Africa’s southernmost tip, the choices are few and limited – and the over-bearing gate-keepers’ narrow focus and small capacity stifles literary progress and growth in the industry itself!
In South Africa, publishing companies, book sellers, banks, and even government over-regulation all combine to create almost insurmountable obstacles for local authors trying to make names for themselves, or to make a living off their writing talent. There are also no workable local means to self-publish.
South African options in the field are clunky and steam-powered, limited, and expensive. So we do the only logical thing: go online, internationally, to do it ourselves.
In this book, Christina Engela – herself an indie self-published and traditionally published author with over 30 titles in fiction and non-fiction to her credit, will show you how she does it – no cards, pistol, dairy cow, or blindfold required – even if you’re stuck in South Africa!
“Ramalama-Side Up! A Coloring Adventure” is a printable eBook in pdf format comprising 82 printable A4 black & white illustrations ready for coloring, and 5 puzzles (answer sheets at the back – no cheating!) inspired by the writing of Christina Engela!
Ramalama is the star orbited by Deanna, the small backwater Terran colony which is the setting for the Quantum Series. The small moons Ding and Dong, which orbit Deanna, complete the rhyme!
Get “Ramalama-Side Up! A Coloring Adventure”: a downloadable and printable coloring and activity book… er – for BIG kids, er – as well as little kids.
Remember: Keep that Ramalama-side up!
The Galaxii Guide To The Terran Space Fleet
The Galaxii Guide To The Terran Space Fleet” – An illustrated technical guide to the Terran Space Fleet and Space Fleet Academy, its structures, hierarchy, organization, shuttles, starships, weapons and technologies.
Ever wonder what the inside of the Antares looked like? How the starships’ gravity net worked? Want to understand the system of ranks and organizational structure of the Space Fleet? Like to see a diagrammatic layout of the bridge complex, sickbay or engineering complex?
Look no further!
Space Really Sucks
Would the sun ever go out? Why would it? What would happen if it did? Find out here!
When Mr. Vandalwa woke up that morning, death by vampire was probably the last thing on the list of ways he thought he would one day die. He found the fact that it would be later the same day equally as surprising.
Follow the exploits of a WW1-esque fighter pilot during the war on the lost Human colony Eden in three subsequent short tales.
Cindy-Mei Winter is a former CIA agent (among other things), out to celebrate her recent gender reassignment by taking a holiday through the Outblack. Trouble is, her past proves difficult to leave behind.
Captain Joe Lofflin has been laid up for six months at the Colony of Tremaine, described overwhelmingly with the word “lovely” – and just can’t take it anymore! He must leave as soon as possible, by any means necessary!
Everyone talks about the end of the world as if it were something that might actually happen. Thing is, what if it did?
Launch into space, the future and beyond! Enjoy a humorous look at life in space through the eyes of some colorful characters in this collection of ten unique sci-fi tales by Christina Engela, spanning everything from adventure to suspense to comedy and then back again!
You can view my audiobooks here.
New releases for now include the long-awaited audiobook of “High Steaks“, which as you may recall, was completed and uploaded ready for review and publication by Brandon almost immediately prior to his untimely death.
Since it has now been published, ten months later, it has finally appeared on Audible! Transference to Nigel Peever’s Peever Publishing account should then take a further number of weeks. “High Steaks” is my 17th audiobook.
I’m extremely grateful to all concerned: Brandon & Elizabeth Mullins, the late-lamented Moon Books Publishing, and Darla Middlebrook the narrator, and Nigel Peever of Peever Publishing for making this possible! I look forward to many happy years of us working together in future!
When complete, these next three audiobooks will be released via ACX!
Feedback & Communication
You can see all my previous reviews here.
I have no new interviews to show you this time, but all my interviews are linked to from this page.
What The Readers Say:
All my reader comments are linked to from this page.
“Blachart” received the following review from Lori on Audible on the 29th of November:
A harrowing, nuanced adventure
“Blachart is a gorgeous, wickedly smart adventure and it’s not just the story or the amazing vocal performance by Mr. Peever that makes this audiobook so memorable. The journey is enhanced by music and sound effects that only deepens the intensity of Mykl d’Angelo story as the skipper and owner of the loderunner Pegasus suffers the harsh losses of this crew and in desperate need of rescuing.
Rescued by the Antares, Mykl d’ Angelo sees getting back into the Space Fleet as the way of having a future once again; he could never imagine becoming a pain to a very dangerous Corsair, known as Blachart the bloody whom had left behind a path of death. As d’Angelo comes to get to know the man faces the conflicts of how to view the man; leading to some of the best encounters this book has to offer.
Grab this book, eBook or audiobook and become immersed in one heck of a world. Highly recommended.” – Lori, Audible review, 29 November 2022.
“Demonspawn” received the following review on Audible on 9 Dec:
“Another good space opera romp in the shadow of Trek meets Aliens. More great narration from Nigel Peever.” – PJM, review on Audible, 09 December, 2022.
You’re welcome to browse through the videos on my YouTube video channel! I’m not really the performing seal type, but I do my best! There’s also a 13 minute animated movie on there, called “Bang, Splat!“, based on characters and settings from “The Time Saving Agency“.
- I listed some videos several weeks ago that Nigel Peever had made, and I must say he’s really been prolific with the marketing! I’m really, really impressed with these new ads! Here they all are:
We’ve been sharing these videos and ads all over the place – Twitter, Facebook, Tumble, Instagram, and it really makes a huge difference to not be doing marketing of my books by myself anymore! By all accounts it might not boost sales as much as we’d hope, but at least I’ve gained a few more great reviews in the process!
Below are links to a few of my most recent posts or articles since my previous newsletter:
- A Peek At My Week! #83
- New Release (Just In Time For Giftmas): Space Really Sucks!
- A Peek At My Week! #82
- Asterism Or Dinkus – What’s In A Name?
- The Interrobang – What Is It?!
- A Peek At My Week! #81
- Forewords, Prologues, Prefaces & Introductions Explained
- Christina Engela’s Monthly Newsletter: #72 December 2022
This will be the last newsletter for the year, although I will be still sending out my weekly “Peeks”. And remember:
In spite of some of my books having been on Amazon since 2005, not one of them has yet reached 10 reviews, let alone 50! I would really appreciate your help on this! Come on, leave a review – it’s free!
Thanks again for all your support, sharing, friendship and interaction!