Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Background for Worldbuilding



Like I said last time, worldbuilding is one of my favourite pass times. I find it so much fun, though obviously it’s not for everyone. A lot of people talk about asking questions and that’s always a good place to start. But what do you ask questions about? What makes up a culture?

In my last article I mentioned some of the fundamentals, politics, religion, history, borders. All of these things matter to a world and will instruct a lot of how it develops. But you don’t need to know a great deal about these things to build a world and you don’t need to build a whole world.

When I was a kid growing up in Ireland, I heard a lot of stories about the Banshee, Leprechaun and other ancient Irish mythological creatures; the books we were taught were also filled with ancient Irish and Greek mythology, so I was getting a good foundation in classic worldbuilding elements. From the story of Hades and Persephone I learned believability. That you can get away with any element in a story as long as you build a world that lends itself to that.

As I grew up, my mum, who was very respectful of other religions, told stories of the Holocaust, of her Muslim friends back in England, and moving to London where she lived among a lot of different people. It was rare for a woman in the 60’s to do something like that and used her stories to expose me to more cultures and religions beyond my rural Irish upbringing.

All of these experiences helped develop a strong sense of how different cultures, different ‘worlds’ if you will, interacted naturally and from there, coupled with a new love of Ancient Egypt – thanks Stargate – my love for building worlds of my own began, manifesting in my first short stories.

When I sit down to build or grow a world, these ideas will surface and, because my subconscious mind is much smarter than me, they'll pull a few things up with them and suddenly it looks like a fleshed out world.

I believe, when it comes to worldbuilding, that there are two things that are important above everything else, they are:

     1.      People. Believable characters who feel like they help craft the world they are in and are shaped by it.

    2.      Believability.

Let’s look at the Netflix movie Bright. I really enjoyed that movie. There were elements about it that completely sold the world to me. But there were also elements that kept making me pause to think. Like how the Orcs have their own version of ‘Black Lives Matter’, but there are still black gangs, which came about because of black oppression. So, did the Orcs take the place of oppressed people, or are both Orcs and black people oppressed in this world? In a world were we’re not just talking about ethnic differences, but actual differences of race, why do people care about skin colour? That element broke Bright’s believability for me.

Bright is an alternative history world, where a single change has altered the course of history, but this isn’t a single change. These beings didn’t just appear one day, they were always there yet, somehow, we still have recognisable historical events?

This is why the elements above, history, politics, etc, are so important in world building. You do need a basic understanding of how things can be changed by any one element being slightly different and how all of these things being totally different, like it probably will be on an alien world, will completely change the shape of your world.

All of the elements above help me to fill out that shape and I learned them just from reading mythology and having an interest in them, even though it's a casual interest; more like picking flowers in a field than planting a garden.

I'm not a historian, or an anthropologist, or a philosopher and I doubt anyone would think I was any of these things. To me, world building isn't about the minutia of a world. I would consider J.R.R. Tolkien, a world builder who occasionally wrote a story That's not to diminish what he wrote, but Tolkien's world is about minutia and it's easy to get bogged down in the details. To my mind, a story should be a moving, flowing thing. There are readers for all the writers. But, for me, I found it hard to stay engaged in his world for any length of time. I can usually read a 500 page book in a day, but it took me 5 months to read The Lord of the Rings.

My point is, to build a world you don’t need the minutia. You need broad strokes, impressions of a few elements, the ones that are the most important to the world you’re creating. For example, In my book, The Prisoner's Deception, Danithor’s world is barren, his people very poor. The world runs on politics, poverty and religion, with a background of slavery and oppression, so those are the elements I built. I ignored everything else, even the neighbours of the native Huan, because they didn’t matter. They have a negligible effect of the Huan and their home world.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the detail. Writers have a tendency to creatively procrastinate and worldbuilding can be one of those methods, but you can build a world that feels like it has depth and breath just as easily with light touches.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

News about Abduct Me SFRCon and more!


Abduct Me SFRCon is this weekend!!!

If you're shocked, think how I feel!!! I thought it was the weekend after until around four days ago when the SFRCon messenger group blew up with panicked new authors asking advice from some of ladies who have been doing this for years! Let me tell you, there are some calm heads in that group.

I'll be going live on the Abduct Me SFRCon Facebook page Sunday at 5pm EST for a live reading of chapter one of *drumroll*

The Bounty Hunter's Honour.

That's right. Just for people attending the virtual con, there will be a sneak peak of the last book in the Renegades series.

Then I'll host a AMA (Ask me anything) for the rest of my hour, so come armed with questions.

I hate being on camera, so this'll be the second time I'm doing it for SFRCon! 🤣 If you want to see the first, you can find the interview I did with the organiser and amazing author Erin Reagan, here.

Two things, before you watch the video.


1. I've broken a tooth and because we're in lockdown here in the UK, I can't get it fixed before March. You can see me being very self-conscious here and covering my mouth occasionally.

 2. Check out the look of pure horror on my face when Erin asks me to talk about myself! It was literally the only question I hadn't prepared for. 


Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Tessan Universe


The amazing Serena Nova created this video for me as a surprise! I can't believe how good it is.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Silent Lucidity


By Tiffany Roberts



She didn’t ask to be abducted.
She didn’t ask to be torn away from her simple, happy life on Earth.
She didn’t ask to become a pet to a powerful alien merchant.

Abella hasn’t allowed four years of slavery to break her spirit, but after numerous failed escape attempts, the chances of making it home to her family seem bleak. That is until she shares a passionate, forbidden dance with a silent stranger. His piercing silvery eyes haunt her with a taste of hope.

Intense, mysterious, and deadly, Tenthil may be the key to Abella’s freedom. But as she finds herself increasingly drawn to him, she realizes the truth—Tenthil has no intention of taking her home.

Will he be her salvation, or will she trade one master for another?


Not a book review


Early fair warning: I told you two weeks ago that I'd recommend Tiffany Roberts time and again and here it is. I am going to gush a little, maybe a lot.


‘Arthos, the Infinite City

          Terran Year 2105’


Arthos is famous as a powerhouse of politics and trade owned by the Consortium. The whole planet is one city, including the massive underground caverns. Humans have only just established an embassy there, their membership sped unusually quickly. It is also notorious as a place where those enslaved can disappear forever and where humans are considered little more than animals by some of the many races that call the Infinite City home.


Abella, a professional dancer, was kidnapped from Earth and has been the property of an alien who detests her for four years, living as his slave. The only moments of freedom she knows is when she dances.


Tenthil was kidnapped as a child and trained as a deadly assassin. The moment he sets eyes on her, his mating instinct is tripped and he will destroy her owner and the organisation that owns him to save her.


I love this story so much and every story in this series. This novel introduces Alkorin, the hero of the second novel and my favourite hero of the series. The moment you see him, you'll know why. This is, by far, my favourite series of Tiffany and Robert and this story is the best of them so far, though I do love the Alkorin's book, Shielded Heart.


Start with Entwined Fates, which is a prequel novella.


I cannot recommend this book enough. If you like my books, you'll love these.


Fair warning: To me, this book is flawless.

 You can find Silent Lucidity here.

Friday, October 23, 2020


Hunted on the Predator Planet

By Vicky L. Holt


Love will capture its prey, especially on a Predator Planet.

Esra Weaver, exo-geologist, is hired for the Kerberos-90 Mining expedition, but when she awakens in her Emergency Egress Pod on a tropical, uninhabited planet, she realizes her life has taken a drastic turn for the disastrous. ‘Predator Planet’ tries to kill her at every turn, and Esra soon discovers it also harbors a mysterious alien out for her blood. When danger and death converge on her, her hunter becomes her savior, and when her feelings for him evolve, she realizes she must battle not only Predator Planet but also her past to make room in her heart for an unexpected but passionate future.

Naraxthel Roika, Mighty Hunter of the Ikthekal race, discovers the existence of a spy on his hunting grounds planet. With blood and fury in his veins, he tracks her down, only to discover that she isn’t a spy at all, but a mighty little hunter in her own right. Against centuries of tradition and physiology, Naraxthel’s heart-home begins the biological changes that indicate he has discovered his mate. He tries to fight what his heart is trying to tell him, but love doesn’t distinguish between star systems and it won’t stop growing, even if the consequence is exile.

Together, along with Naraxthel’s hunting party, they must embark on a dangerous and desperate journey to reclaim not only Naraxthel’s place in his society but also find a way for them to be together.


Not a book review

With Tracked on the Predator Planet recently released, I decided it was time to start this series and I'm so glad I did.

Esra's emergency egress pod lands on one of twin planets, orbiting twin suns. She witnesses, what she thinks is, the death of an alien hunter and on investigating inadvertently helps him survive. Unaware of her help, Naraxthel hunts her down, at first believing she's a child, but later with the intent of killing her as the law of his world demands. But when he finds her, he admires her bravery, cunning and strength so much, he finds it impossible to end her life. Returning to his world, the second world in this system, he and a handful of others are sent back to the planet when he manages to insult one of the two leaders of his people. While the others are angry, Naraxthel is relieved to be rejoining the small human who threatens to change his entire world.

This is a well written book by Vicky Holt which appeals to my science-fiction loving heart. Esra's an exo-geologist and the sheer amount of research Vicky must have done to make this book scientifically accurate is mind boggling, but it never overwhelms the story, instead, it lends authenticity to it.

I've read reviews that complained that Esra is too easy about the aliens when she meets Naraxthel. Well, she runs away from him the first time she sees him, but it's also made clear that humans know about and intereact with aliens all the time. Naraxthel just happens to come from a species they aren't aware of and looks, in his armour, particularly scary. The romance unfolds slowly, with Naraxthel being more aware of it than Esra, but when it finally happens, it feels real and organic.

I'm a massive science-fiction fan, I was raised by a Trekkie, (my mum, not my dad) and have devoured science-fiction shows and books since I was a kid. I also love happy-ever-afters and this book provides both in spades.

Fair Warning: This is a Sweet romance. As such there are no sex scenes. But honestly, I loved the romance between Esra and Naraxthel so much, I barely missed it. However, you can download Vicky's novella which contains steamy scenes from here. It gives us a little more Esra and Naraxthel as well as having a great cover which shows Naraxthel's red armour and the size difference between the two, which just always makes me swoon!

For reference sake, sweet means we stay firmly outside of the bedroom. Sultry means things get hot before the bedroom door shuts and Steamy means I'm a perv who enjoys writing this stuff.  😂


You can find Hunted on the Predator Planet here.