Hello, friends and fans!
Welcome to my 74th 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
Today is the first of February 2023. It’s my birthday, and while I don’t ordinarily mark the day as a special occasion anymore, it’s of some significance to me because this time round it’s my 50th! Fifty years is half a century, and while I’m certainly not old, there is a certain psychological aspect to that realization.
Birthdays always used to be special for me because it used to be a day on which I’d receive lots of phone calls from relatives or family friends, birthday cards in the mail, and of course, gifts and a shower of attention from loved ones. There was a time when I would invite all my friends around for a party, or to share some cake. The party I had in 2012 was awesome, but that was the last one. I no longer have birthday parties because I no longer occupy that sort of space in people’s lives.
Over time, the herd has been thinned out by deaths and also, less prominently, the deaths of relationships. The last time I had a truly happy birthday was in 2013, the last one I celebrated while my mother was still alive – and yes, that was on my 40th. She died in October the same year, and from that time onwards, birthdays have only served as a reminder of what I had lost, and have become something of a traumatic, even depressing experience. Thus I’ve generally avoided them ever since.
However, this time around, I’m quite astonished that I’m able to look back on 50 whole years. I’m still here, in spite of everything life has thrown at me. I think I still look pretty damn good for someone at the age I had grown up to think was already “old”! Oh there are a few gray hairs, but I think of them as “battle stars” in the naval sense.
I look back at my life’s experiences: growing up as a misunderstood child, struggling to form relationships with others, navigating a world I didn’t really understand (and in many ways, still don’t), having to fight my way through life as a teenager coming to grips with complex concepts like sexual orientation and gender identity – and working out by myself that I was being forced by social convention to live a lie, and not knowing who I was or was supposed to be. By the time I had an idea of who I wanted to be, life had already forced me into a mold of who I wasn’t.
I encountered a lot of challenges; being drafted into the army at the tender age of 18 was a life-affecting experience. Considering suicide a number of times during my life, and then being glad I hadn’t followed through. Getting married at the age of 25, when I was still really not mentally an adult, desperate to fit in and be like everybody else. Starting my transition at the age of 26 and facing up to ridicule and open hatred, even enduring threats of violence from strangers, coworkers and former friends as I began to live my life openly and genuinely for the very first time. Going through a messy divorce at the age of 27.
Struggling for years trying to get in with one of the big mainstream publishing companies before launching my writing career as an indie author, self-publishing my own books in spite of the attrition rate and huge obstacles involved. I’d always craved success as a writer, and in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds and low returns for my efforts, I never gave up. It took me a long time to realize that this is what success depends upon – not giving up. Giving up would mean I’ve failed. In my writing career – now spanning 30-odd years, I’ve been with a total of four publishing companies. Today I’m with two, and if I’d quit earlier, it would never have happened. The feedback I get from readers and reviewers is rewarding in itself – it means people are reading and appreciating my hard work, my efforts are not in vain, and not everything I write is just sent out into a void. In this, as in everything, there’s an element of risk. You only have to be willing to accept that risk.
In my life I’ve done and experienced things I think most people would lack the courage to risk. I’ve crossed and blurred the gender line in society’s constructed binary, and I’ve continued to chip away at the stereotypes that strive to limit people in their scope of interests or activities, hopes, dreams and achievements. I’ve taken risks others might shy away from and endured painful surgeries and exhausting recoveries to have the life I wanted. I’ve been loved by some people I knew, and hated by more people I didn’t; I’ve explored the taboo and the abominable and mingled with people and groups many would be too fearful to enter, or to be associated with, to find the truth of things for myself. I’ve also often defended them when attacked, in spite of the consequences, because I saw that no-one else would, or had the ability or knowledge to do so.
Getting to grips with society’s obsession with religion and morality set me off on a journey of self-discovery that took me on a path leading from Christianity, to agnosticism, through Wicca, witchcraft and Paganism, to atheism. I’ve met and interacted with a huge variety of different sorts of people from diverse cultures, beliefs and backgrounds. I’ve learned that at the heart of it, all people are cut from the same cloth and that stereotypes are falsehoods designed to keep people apart.
I’ve grown to accept that everyone experiences disappointment and heartbreak, and if they’re lucky, healing and recovery – and some more or less than others. We all deal with these things in our own unique ways. I’ve learned that being hurt or showing tears in front of my enemies can be a show of strength rather than weakness. I’ve learned that forgiveness for those who have harmed me isn’t for their benefit, but my own – and even so, find it difficult to let some things go. I got hurt along the way many times, sometimes so badly I didn’t know how I was going to survive, but I did. Today, I’m able to admit I’m glad I did.
I’ve tramped the highway of life, searching for a special someone whose own character, flaws, niggles, insanities and quirks suited my own, only to find her when I had already stopped looking. It may not be visible to others, but I know just how truly lucky I am. Every day since April 2016 has been a constant sense of comfort, a measure of joy and happiness, appreciation for what I have, and hope for the future.
My life – all 50 years of it so far, has been a journey that made me the person I am today. I’m glad to be her.
Moving on to other matters.
News About Writing & Publishing:
This is the current state of things:
- Audiobooks on ACX: I’m still waiting for news that the audiobook for “High Steaks” has been transferred to Peever Publishing, then that process is all done!
- Royalties: There’s still no sign that payment of outstanding royalties from the late Moon Books will resume. At this stage it looks like I’m not going to get paid for audiobooks sold for 2021-2022 via MBP after all. Naturally I’m disappointed and angry about it – even though it’s not very much in US$. It’s a little more in my pathetic local currency, 17 times as much in fact. So much about this business angers me, but I’m not going to go into it right now, I’ll save it for later. At least I got full control of my books back, which is immeasurably more valuable to me than the outstanding sum. Even so, it’s the principle of the matter.
- Recording & New Audiobooks: “We All Fall Down“, the third book in the Panic! series, is due to appear on ACX soon. Two weeks ago, the audiobook for “Life Signs” appeared on Audible. The week before that, you may recall, it was book 1 (“Static“). Darla Middlebrook is the narrator for all three titles, which represent my 17th, 18th and 19th audiobooks!
- Writing: Since two weekends ago, I’ve been engrossed in an investigative article I’d decided to write. Sadly, I spent an entire week of my holiday working on the research and drafting of this article every day from about 6AM to 2 or 3 PM solid, without any breaks because I was so absorbed by it! But then, writing is what I enjoy most, so I can’t say I didn’t enjoy any of it!
- Projects: Over the past two months or thereabouts, I’ve been working on the ‘Pirates’ anthology, which if I must be honest, is not panning out the way I’d hoped. Neither is the quarterly webzine I hoped to launch at the end of January. The cause at the root of both conundrums is a lack of submissions, which has persisted despite numerous public calls for submissions. Word-count as you may gather, is the basis for length. Although I’ve had a few submissions sent in good faith for both projects by a number of enthusiastic and supportive fellow authors – to whom I’m very grateful, these projects still haven’t reached what I regard as a minimum threshold word-count to launch either of them. I still need more. The ‘Pirates’ anthology has enough sea pirate public domain stories already, but as for the ‘pirates of the sky’ section for which I requested submissions, the word-count is a bit on the low side. It needs to hit close to 100,000 words, but presently it’s still sitting at just over 48,000 – which is apparently too short to be ‘interesting’ as an audiobook, which was the ultimate goal for that project. The webzine doesn’t have to be that long, but it needs a bit more content and variety before I feel comfortable putting it out as well! I really can’t justify putting out a webzine containing just five short stories (including one of my own), can I?At this stage it doesn’t look like either of these items will materialize soon, if at all. I will give it a little more time before calling it either way – for both projects, and let you know. Oh well, as an indie you tend to work things out as you go along, finding out just what works… and what doesn’t. That’s how it goes.
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).
These are the most recent new titles published in 2022:
My most recent new releases in 2022 were “Sentinel” (May 07, 2022), “We All Fall Down” (July 27, 2022), “Christina Engela’s Strangely Compelling Scifi” (September 5, 2022), followed by “Space Really Sucks!” (December 19, 2022).
You can view my audiobooks here.
I’m extremely grateful to Darla Middlebrook the narrator for the Quantum Series and Panic! Horror In Space, 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, this audiobook join the others on Audible!
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.
This past month, I found the following awesome reader’s reviews on Audible!
Two ships. Two crews. One wild adventure.
“Dead Beckoning is a very interesting turn within this series because it beautifully blends the crews of the Mordrake and the Antares as they collide with the world of the Corsairs with epic battles and personal, profound reckonings for such as once known as Blachart, now being called Adam. This is an amazing journey as you get to know even more about characters such as Mykel d’Angelo that were already well defined; especially Mykl’s friendship with Adam is the strongest and enthralling. While this story is not narrated by Nigel Peever and I did miss his exceptional abilities; narrator Edmund Bloxam does a great job taking on this story and making it a good listen. Highly recommended.” – Lori, review for Dead Beckoning on Audible, 19 December 2022.
“This was wonderfully written. The atmosphere was thick and creepy. I loved it! Michelle Innes was a terrific narrator.” Five stars. – Deedra, review for Malice! on Audible, January 11, 2023.
5 Separate Short Stories
“These a 5 stories that are unrelated to each other. I personally enjoyed this book and think other people will also. The actual blurb describing this book is quite on point and I do not have much more to add. The narrator does a great job with the various characters voices and the entire storyline on all 5 stories.” – Georgia McNabb, review for Space Sucks! on Audible, January 7, 2023.
“I liked it! Very well written short story of one haunted family. It had a lot of atmosphere for as short as it was. Darla Middlebrook was a terrific narrator.” – Deedra, review for Opsaal on Audible, January 11, 2023.
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“.
Below are links to a few of my most recent posts or articles since my previous newsletter:
- New Release: Life Signs Audiobook!
- A Peek At My Week! #86
- New Release: Static Audiobook!
- A Peek At My Week! #85
- A Peek At My Week! #84
- Christina Engela’s Monthly Newsletter: #73 January 2023
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!