Hello friends and fans!
Welcome to my 52nd newsletter!
Let’s take a look at this months’ news!
I was quite busy during March, and as usual, not always just with writing! These hands are good for more than just typing, y’know! 😉 In the past few days I’ve revamped my website – yes, it’s a never-ending process of fine-tuning and sometimes complete overhaul to try and find what works better! Since you’re reading this, you might already notice a few changes – have a look around, you never know what you may find!
This time I’ll be telling you a little of what I get up to during the month aside from work and writing – starting with two of my current projects – my bike and by bug! 🙂
Some years ago I bought a mountain bike with a 66cc 2-stroke gasoline engine to ride around essentially for the fun of it. I used it to commute to work for several months in 2015 while I was between cars, and became a familiar sight on that route, wearing an old leather jacket and my trademark black leather-covered German helmet and flying goggles! An old codger I used to work with, who has since retired, used to teasingly call my bike a “snot-separator”. Then we had some cold winters and I ended up putting it in storage for a while. This past month I got the bike out, got it running again – and the moment I felt it take off under me, surging forward, I decided against selling it! Instead, I decided to update its look a bit, and keep and enjoy it!
Off with the horrid yellow factory stickers! Off with the cheesy plastic bike fairing I’d fitted after purchasing the bike! I decided I like the bobber/cafe’ racer look instead! Don’t laugh too hard 😉 Yes, I know it’s based on a mountain bike frame, and yes, I haven’t forgotten it’s still a bicycle as my cycling-snob wife keeps reminding me! 😛 LOL. Anyway, I fitted a pair of chrome steel mudguards, a chrome headlight pod, and polished up the black paint on everything else. The light in the headlight comes from a battery-powered string of surprisingly bright blue LED fairy lights stuck inside the reflector! Then I made a leather tool bag to mount up front to hold an assortment of small tools (aved myself around R500 there!) and modified a plastic Halloween skull to make a cool cover for the air filter on the carburetor. I wasn’t quite happy with the look of the fuel tank though, and made a dummy tank to fit over it – not bad for something made out of coffee cans, eh? Next, I plan to fit a pod tail-light on the rear mudguard just to complete the old-school look. How’s the number plate on the front mudguard with “Crazy Lady” painted on it? Appropriate, right? 😉 As you can see, the bike has been Cat Approved – Ash lounging with my old helmet. Photos below:
I’ll probably do a DIY article about my bike project soon as well.
Aside from that, I also tinkered on Dolly, my 1962 VW Beetle – who we joke has a bedroom, not an actual garage haha. The trouble with a bug – er, bog-standard 58 year old 1200cc Beetle when living in a city, is other drivers. Many people are in a permanent state of haste these days, and having to cool their heels while the vintage car in front of them sedately accelerates to 60kph appears to be too much for them! They come roaring past me, either staring resolutely ahead, or actually tooting their horns because I’m in their way. One actually flashed me the finger recently. Of course, Dolly is not a sports car, or a “hot hatch” or a pocket-rocket by any means. Most days I’m just grateful she’s still running and hasn’t given me any serious trouble and still carries me where I need to be. That said, while she may not have a comparable turn of speed, she does have a loud, noticeable hooter – of the electric air-horn variety that loudly blasts “aah-ooooh-gah” – and embarrasses my better half to no end.
I’ve thought of ways to inobtrusively increase performance slightly… and my mind dwelt on superchargers and turbos… but those things don’t come cheap and usually involve pulleys and belts and all sorts of paraphernalia that clutter up the engine bay and overcomplicate things! I wanted something cheap and simple, and just carried on driving Dolly “as is”.
A few months back, while I was scrolling through “Wish”, I spotted a device for sale that was claimed to reduce fuel consumption while offering a modest increase in engine performance and speed. My interest was peaked, and I ordered one. It arrived last Friday, and that evening I was already taking measurements and trying to work out how to install it on Dolly! By mid-day on Saturday I’d already visited three local car and bike accessory shops and bought an air filter, a high heat silicone hose or two, and some clamps, and set about creating a doo-dad around the item I got in the mail. The resulting doo-dad is a sort of inertia-powered impeller that acts like a supercharger. Fitted to Dolly’s antique 1200cc flat four air-cooled motor, it certainly looks impressive. I figured that if the thing didn’t work as advertised, at worst I’d replaced the old leaky, dirty oil-bath air filter and its grubby breather hose with a better free-flow system that looked neat and sweet. That said, I certainly wasn’t prepared for what followed.
There is a modest increase in performance yes – just enough to make me worry about having to upgrade Dolly’s soggy old brakes! While I wouldn’t actually do any stoplight racing in Dolly, the increase in low-end power is enough to tempt me to do so! Having all that extra “vrrrroom” under my foot in this car is a new one on me! I haven’t floored her accelerator on the highway yet – remember this old bug has retreads on, and no seatbelts, but as yet I don’t know if the top speed has been affected or not – but it probably isn’t by much! Speed isn’t everything, as you start to figure out once you’re past your twenties! Now, getting to the speed limit in blisteringly quick time… is something different! I can only imagine how this thing would improve a 1600 twinport bug with a free-flow exhaust… yikes!
This device has also smoothed out the power-band some – gone is the jerkiness in first gear… and, as I notice the envious looks on the faces of passing drivers, I wonder where the hell that lovely low growl in the exhaust note came from?! Under acceleration her standard pea-shooter exhausts sound just like a 4-into-1 now! I always drove Dolly with a smile on my face – how could I not, after all… Beetles have always been my dream car – but lately that smile’s broadened into a grin!
On Sunday the 21st of March, Dolly got a little media spotlight! 🙂 Hugo and his filming crew descended on me to feature Dolly on his YouTube channel, “Retro Rustics”, and I was happy to oblige! It was a fun experience, and all I really had to do was drive sedately behind Hugo while being filmed! Video below, check it out and give us both a few “likes” 🙂
Aside from the excitement of working on my bike and on Dolly this past month, I did some writing, as well as some marketing.
Aside from writing I also indulge in painting from time to time – and no, I don’t mean walls! The following paintings are in my portfolio:
You can read more about my art projects on the Art page. What do you think of them? Feel free to let me know!
Yes – I also make music from time to time!
A selection of music tracks I made using eJay and other similar apps between 1999 – 2008 is available on my YouTube channel.
You can read more on the Music page on my website!
Innovation DIY is where I showcase some of my DIY projects! Pop along and have a look! There’s also a Facebook Page. From November 22, 2020, articles from this site were also reproduced as a weekly column in the Weekend Post called “DIY On A Dime”! Examples below.
I also have a paranormal blog “Our Ghost Encounters” where my wife and I share our experiences in the paranormal!
For those of you interested in my activism-related posts and activities, you can follow them at “Sour Grapes: The Fruit Of Ignorance“, where you can view my activism-related (human rights, eco and animal rights) articles and books from 2009 onward. SGTFOI details “The thoughts and experiences of an author and human rights activist”.
Current Writing Projects
So far this year I wrote three academic papers, one in January, and two in February, where I changed over to editing a book for a client, and then went right back to fiction writing again to work on the new Galaxii book 4!
Now officially titled and covered, “Sentinel” introduces a new set of characters into the same general timeline and setting as the first three. It’s set some time after the capture of Meradinis by the Terran Space Fleet and the collapse of the Corsair civilization. Two of the most dangerous Corsair prisoners held in the maximum security prison facility on Kobarr have somehow managed to escape – and who knows what their plans are!
Captain Sonia La Belle has been tasked with whipping the crew of the ailing starship Munray back into shape after years spent under the malingering Captain Polluk – who pulled a ‘Section 80’ to get out of the Service – but thanks to the wily Vice-Admiral Beens, that didn’t pan out as he’d planned! Of course somewhere along the line, the aforementioned escapees will re-emerge and somehow, Sonia and her crew will need to deal with them – but that part of the story is still under construction! Sentinel is currently at over 42k words, and probably only about 2/3 of the way. I’ll be keeping you updated on that in future.
The next book after Sentinel is also underway, and I work on it in the spare moments when I tire of working on Sentinel. That’s barely been begun though, holding a current word-count just over 9000 words! I started working on “Where Darkness Softly Treads” about four years ago, and already have a fair idea of how that story will go, as I’m basing it on a much older manuscript I first drafted in 1989-90 (yes, goodness, I’ve been at this lark for quite a while, now haven’t I?) that was originally titled “Dreams of Innocence” and was completely handwritten. I’ve already designed the cover for that one, but I’ll do a proper cover reveal later on.
Meanwhile, you can enjoy the first three books in the series here.
I offer my editing services on a freelance basis to interested parties. More about that here. I am however, currently occupied with my own writing projects!
Marketing – The Dreaded “M” Word!
As an indie author, most of the marketing that gets done, is done by me. This is an unfortunate consequence of choosing the path of an indie author – but the cons of indie authoring are far outweighed by the pros – and I’m certainly not sorry!
One of the main benefits of being an indie author and walking the self-publishing path, is retaining creative control over your works. Also, having the support of a traditional small press (Moon Books Publishing) handling my main distribution channel for eBooks, paperbacks and audiobooks via Amazon and Audible for me, is a great bonus! The detail that it’s owned and run by a friend of mine also makes it much “safer” and much less frustrating for me than dealing with people who don’t know me or don’t have an understanding of my creative needs!
What helps indie authors like me most however, is when readers share my posts to help me promote my books! Word of mouth sales make a huge difference – so I really appreciate it when I see you share my book promotion posts on social media!
I’ve nothing new to show you here this time, but feel free to browse through the videos on my YouTube video channel! This promotional video by Nigel Peever, the narrator par excellence of the audiobook version of “Blachart” is still my favorite!
These are the new titles I’ve published in 2021 so far! The first 3 are academic papers, but I still have a few new fiction works in progress and should finish some during the year!
After the three academic papers I put out early this year, I also released the new updated Portfolio 2021, as well as a updated second edition of “The Galaxii Guide To The Terran Space Fleet“. Both are free items.
I thought it would be nice if I could produce a neat, organized catalog of all my books that interested parties could download and browse – a free, distributable and shareable catalog, and so I created “Portfolio 2021!” – a listing of all my currently available titles!
Portfolio is more than that though, because it also contains a biography as well as synopses for most of my titles – and I have a plan to update it regularly, perhaps on an annual basis! Portfolio 2021 is available as a free download from my website.
The Galaxii Guide To The Terran Space Fleet by Christina Engela
I also posted a new updated version of “The Galaxii Guide To The Terran Space Fleet by Christina Engela” on the 28th, and included a list of new items previously included in some of my relevat “The Tech Side” articles.
“The Galaxii Guide To The Terran Space Fleet by Christina Engela” is a nice free guide to the Imperial Terran Space Fleet and Space Fleet Academy, featuring diagrams and illustrations of ships from the Galaxii, Quantum and Panic! Horror In Space series.
In the meantime, here’s a look at the covers for hot new audiobooks currently in the pipeline:
Stay tuned for updates!
I have no items to show you in this section this time, but you can see all my previous reviews here. If you would like to do a review of one of my books, please do get in touch!
Currently Available Titles
I now have 30 unique titles available in 4 series (not including books I’ve been the editor for, and my 16 free promotional items)! My books are available in different formats: eBooks, Paperbacks, Audiobooks, or Movies & Series. Click the links in the slideshow below to view titles available in these formats.
Below are links to a few of my most recent posts and articles since my previous newsletter:
- Cover & Title Reveal For Galaxii 4!
- A Sneak Preview Of Galaxii 4!
- Another Round At The Crow Bar #51 March 2021
Fan Mail, Reader Reviews & Honorable Mentions
I have the following awesome items to show you this month, including a few stray reviews from Audible’s .co.uk version! Weird that reviews don’t all appear together on the .com site, isn’t it?
- The Blue Jay Blog quoted me in February.
- A user of the City-data forum quoted me – looks like I keep turning up in the darndest places! 😉
- Wise Sayings. It does me the world of good to see my quotes turning up alongside quotes from personalities like Barack Obama, Morgan Freeman and Robin Williams.
- The audiobook for “Blachart” got a grrreatttt review from John Gibson on Audible.co.uk in October 2020 😉
- John Gibson also gave the audiobook for “Demonspawn” a fair review a few days later:
- Johnathan Goodall gave “Demonspawn” 5 stars in his review on Audible.co.uk, January 21, 2021 :
I display my Fan Mail & Compliments with pride, gratitude and humility. You’re always welcome to have a look.
Hate Mail & Horrible Mentions
Surprisingly, I still haven’t received any hate mail this month either – wonder what I’ve done wrong? Perhaps I need new haters? They seem to have forgotten me! 😉
- I’m rather proud of my hate mail, and you can review my collection here – but be forewarned, don’t do it while eating or drinking, or you might choke while laughing!
- All my interviews are linked to from this page. If you would like to do an interview with me about my work, please do get in touch!
Well, that’s all for this time, folks! 🙂
Thanks again for all your support, sharing, friendship and interaction!
Until next time, keep reading!
Catch me on social media!
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 via the Contact form.
Show your appreciation for Christina’s work!
All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2021.