What keeps you writing?

This week: sneak preview and what keeps you writing?

Sneak Preview
This week it’s from the new project provisonally entitled December Radio a sci-fi World War II story.

The following scene takes place in an aeronautical centrifuge in Cologne. Remember those? I seem to remember they featured in a few 60s films and as a very young boy, one of these left a lasting impression on me. In fact the scene has such a powerful effect on me personally – it almost disturbs me in the same way OCD does sometimes – that I would love to pin down the film I originally watched and see it again. The Gerry Anderson film Doppelganger, sometimes called Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, may well have been the one. It is reputed to have a centrifuge scene in it and the only other film I know if is the Roger Moor Bond film Moonraker, but this would have been too late for me to have affected me so powerfully and yet be a vague memory. If anybody knows of any other film where a man has trouble surviving a centrifuge, please get in touch.

December Radio
Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved

The cage-wall began to blur. He began to feel nauseous.
“Is 3 Gees fine?”
“Yes. I can feel the pressure in my head.”
“It’s lack of pressure.” After a pause the voice continued, “Still alright?”
“Yes. Increase to… the next Gee.”
“4 Gees. Increasing to 4 Gees now. That’s 4 Gees. How does it feel? Take your time…”
“It… feels… tough. I feel a bit… sick.” Robert was struggling to stay conscious.
“That’s normal. How about 5 Gees?”
“Alr-right.”
“Going up to 5 Gees… now. You’re doing superbly. 5 Gees now.”
“God! How do I…” Robert had to close his eyes for a moment. The cage-wall was just a blur and seeing it was just adding to the dizziness he felt overwhelming him. It was frightening him slightly.
“Are you alright, Robert? Shall we stop?”
“No… no, it’s… alright. Just a little longer. Is this the top Gee?”
“No. Six is the highest. You want to try it?”
“No. But do it.” Robert knew he was being tested. Priller told him he was the best and he wasn’t going to let his commander down.
“Up to 6 Gees.”
“Oh! Aewargh-…” Robert passed out.
“Robert? Robert? I am going to stop if you don’t respond. Okay, stopping. 5 Gees, 4 Gees, 3
Gees, 2 Gees, 1 Gee, stopped. Okay, let’s get him out.”

What Keeps you Writing?
I am often asked this. I guess the question has two main answers for me:
1. What motivates me in the first place?
2. Why don’t I just give up, since I am making very little money and it’s extremely labour-intensive?

Both are easy to answer.

1. My first attempt at a novel was while traveling to Egypt on a cruise ship when I was 19. Now, it’s not what you think! In actual fact I had just dropped out of of an Aeronautical Engineering course at Queen Mary College and decided to catch the Magic Bus to Athens. From there, the plan was to go through Iran and on to Bombay. In fact I was too curious about Africa to stick so entirely to my plan and the bus was Hell on Wheels. So I jumped off in Athens and caught a boat – a DFDS Seaways ship. I was travelling third class – the swimming pool was a bilge tank in the bottom of the ship, we slept on deck after the other passengers had all gone to bed, meals were only served to the first fifty or so of us arriving in the ‘canteen’ and entertainment was a movie shown on one of those plastic screens in the ‘canteen’. I well remember translating El Cid (a movie about a Christian beating Moors) to a canteen full of Muslim Egyptians. They were bemused and I was worried for my life!
It was natural in such a place, given that my normal hobby/career of writing and composing music had to be put on hold for the journey – that I would turn to something similiar; writing. The novel was abandoned after about one hundred pages. I thought it was awful (in fact I recently discovered some of the MS and it’s not too bad!).
When I left the music industry permanently in 1994, it would seem natural that I returned to writing. In fact it took nearly ten years to give it ago. Maybe it was lack of confidence, maybe I was just plain dried-up creatively. In any case, my first efforts met with some positive comments so I continued. I don’t think i could live without creating something. It’s just in my DNA, my bones or my psychological makeup. Whichever way you put it, I just have to write. I think its’ cathartic – probably a way of releasing the huge amount of anger I felt every day as a child and which built up over the years until I could contain it no longer.

2. The second answer is that people seem to like what I write. It ‘resonates’ with them. If it was just my anger that drove me; my anger about the inhumanity in the world today, anger about inequality, anger about ignorance, then it would just be vanity writing and I couldn’t bare that. In about 2006 I was approached by a publisher who wanted me to come to a seminar at their offices in Milton Keynes. I drove up there in a rain-storm and sat down with about a dozen other writers. It quickly became apparent that this was all about vanity publishing; we put up the money for marketing and production, and the publisher reaps the financial rewards. Some of the titles I saw hardly bare thinking about. I was out of there within ten minutes.
Recently I have started getting reviews from people I have never met – good reviews and these have really inspired me to keep going; to try harder. I think at the end of the day, a good review from somebody who has paid for your book and doesn’t even know you, is the best tonic of all. So the second answer is; good reviews.

I’ve given my answers to what keeps me writing? I would love to hear from you. What keeps you writing? Please comment below. If I like your comment, you can make a more detailed post about your reason on my blog.

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What is the most effective way to promote a Sci-Fi book launch?

This week: What is the most effective way to promote a Sci-Fi book launch? Also Lazlo Friend Newsletter, Hinduism and HAL 9000

What is the most effective way to promote a Sci-Fi book launch?

Two beta readers have now completed Iron III: Worlds like dust and it is getting nearer to publication. Science Fiction books are always hard to promote: sci-fi simply doesn’t get the attention of other genres, which is a shame, because it allows you to develop characters and explore elements of human nature in ways that no other genre allows. So I am faced with the problem: how do I promote this book?

In both Book I and Book III of the iron series there are video blogs recorded by some of the main characters; the corporation that supplies arms to the USAC army does so in exchange for sole rights to these video blogs recorded only by officers. The viewers are civilians looking for kicks. It occurred to me that since these blogs are done into a small camera (much like a web-cam today) anyway, they would be really fun and easy to shoot for real.

During one of the free promos for Too Bright the Sun, I met up with Dominic Kay – a British actor who has acted in Hollyoaks and happens to look exactly like my personal image of Jake Nanden. I asked him if he would be willing to shoot a Promo Video for the publication of the third and final part of the Iron Series: World Like Dust, and there is a slim chance he will do it – with a full professional camera crew. It won’t be free for me but I am hoping that it will be a nice way to introduce the final episode in what has become a fairly epic story. The scene choice is the three below (at a push Dominic could pass as Hani Deitner – a character in World Like Dust):

Jake Nanden in Iron I

There are two possible scenes for Jake (the star of the show and only character in all three books).

1. This is midway through the book when he is hastily promoted to replace a dead officer:

I glanced at the piles of crates in the corner of the office marked ‘Roanald’. They had been left for me to go through but I couldn’t face them now. The only crate I was interested in was marked, ‘Nanden’. I flipped the catches and peered inside. It contained the only personal possessions of mine to be retrieved from the CMS which was blown up by the IM. I smiled and reached inside. “Marcus!” I lifted out the crushed pot with a pile of dry soil held to the clay shards by the roots of the miniature sunflower. I couldn’t believe he was still alive and I was grateful some grunt somewhere had even bothered to crate it. The sunflower looked almost dead and was bent right over like a crippled old man. I went to the n-gen and ordered four glasses of water and a large bowl. I replanted the flower in the bowl and poured on all the water before setting it on my desk. I would need a UV light but I could organise that in the morning. I turned on the comms unit and recorded my last company commander message for Amtel.
“Record. Today I’ve taken up my new position as Acting Lieutenant Colonel. I cannot tell you where I’m stationed now or what my new mission will be but I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who’ve followed me over the years and I hope you find another commander to follow. Thanks. Over and out! End record. Terminal on.”

2. This scene is filmed on a space-liner (as in 2001 A Space Odyssey) but you could do it so your face fills the camera or perhaps it could be in a booth on the ship.

(This is Jake talking in first person)
I was tired when I woke in my recliner four days in, on the flight to Mars, but I wanted to send a quick message to Jena. I had thought several times over the last few days of sending one to Katie, but the business with Jena was unfinished and it seemed faithless to abandon it. It was easier to send a message rather than record video or set up a vid meeting. I groggily put on my headband and pressed ‘On’.
“Record: message to Jena Ω. Hi Jena. I spent four days with Mum and Justine… I woke up the other day having had an argument with myself. At least it seemed like it… There is part of me I’m just not… connected with. I cannot remember its voice or words. It is something unknown to me… and it disturbs me. At the same time I am curious about it. I wanted you to know… Thinking about u. Jake. End record.”
Then I sent a brief one to Katie. “Record: message to Katie. Hi space boogle. Just spent four days on J5. Going back now to J4. Got promoted to L. Colonel. Cool eh? See u soon. J. End record.”

Hani Deitner in Iron III

The first bit is background leading up to the recording – the video blog bit is obvious.

Lieutenant Hani Deitner returned with his detail to the Operations Room after just over one hour. They had not been able to take the truck far, and he was exhausted. But every last soldier still able to shoot a laser, now knew what he was doing, and to be at the Hanger in 5 hours.
“Reporting, Colonel: all remaining forces now instructed for retreat!”
“Good work, Lieutenant. Now, you better get a few hours’ sleep. I am gonna need you fully alert for our exit. Oh, and one other thing. I am going to put you in charge of a squad. That means you now have to record your activities for the Amtel blog?”
“Yes, Ma’am! But I thought it had been closed down. Surely there’s no subscribers left?”
“That’s probably true. Today’s will be the last possible entry. The transmitter in the MCS wouldn’t reach the Moon or any other likely remaining allies even in peacetime. But with the Ischians blocking transmissions there’s no hope. This will the only chance for us all to record our last wills and testaments. Even the privates have borrowed sets from commanders to leave theirs. Use the third room on the right. It’s Pfeninghaven’s. Record you message and get some sleep.”
“Yes, sir. Sir?”
“What is it?”
“I had an idea.”
“Go on. I need any ideas I can get.”
“I saw this film, once – a nature film, about a bird which pretended its wing was broken, to avoid predators. What I was thinking was that we should deliberately damage the MCS. Take of one of the POD s and make it look like it’s been torn off. Then rig the side of the Hanger to blow out. We then slip out quietly, looking like the MCS has fallen out. If we drift for a while, the Ischians may assume it’s just a wreck.”
“Hm. I don’t like the thought of losing a POD. But something like that … I will get the engineers on to it. Nice idea Deitner. Sleep well.”
Climbing over debris, and negotiating the corridor to the Senior Staff quarters, Hani Deitner found door 3 and sealed himself inside. He wearily pulled on the Trion head-band and said, “Record. Hm. This is the log of Lieutenant Hani Deitner June 3, 2136.”
He sat looking at the small screen blankly for a few moments. His dark brown hair, stubble and goatee made him look like a criminal. Goatees were forbidden in USAC regulations, but since the alien attack, the book had been thrown away and discipline had become secondary to survival. One of his fellow Corporals was the first to try a goatee and had persuaded Deitner to try it.
He tried his first words. “Hello subscribers – on Earth, Mars, the Moon, or wherever you may be now. That is… if any of you are left alive. I don’t know what to say. I’ve never done one of these before!” He laughed nervously. “I don’t have parents, or relatives – what replicant does? I had some time with a foster family in New Brooklyn – on the bad side of the Moon dome! Anyway, I doubt they remember me much now. The USAC is my family now. But I joined late. Ran with the mob in Lunar City; stealing hoverbikes, cars, shoplifting – the usual. USAC made me. I don’t have anything to leave – I had a collection of lager cans, but my bunk was blown to pieces by the Ischian Dogs – should I say that? Oh well, seems a bit late for … protocol. This is going to be a fight to the death. Probably the end for us. Let’s see. I think that’s it. Oh, and if anybody knows me, I got promoted to Lieutenant!” He grinned like a stupid kid. Then he said, “End recording.”

The final step will be to stick it on YouTube and see what happens. By the way, get ready to share this video with all your friends when it gets made.

So, that is my idea for a promo campaign, what would be yours? let me know your ideas. I really want to hear them so please comment below. If I like your suggestion enough, there may be a prize in return.

 

Lazlo Friend Newsletter

As you will have seen in my previous  post, there will now be a Lazlo Friend Newsletter every three months. Please subscribe: you will receive publication dates in advance, news of Freebies and Competitions. There is a permanent link to the Newsletter in the menu at the top of this blog.

 

Hinduism and HAL 9000

A friend of mine is a Hindu. The Hindu religion never ceases to amaze me. If you haven’t already seen it, you should think about watching the Mhabharat. There is a short British version but a much longer one  on youtube so you will need plenty of time. We were watching 2001: A Space Odyssey the other day and of course the scene where HAL is turned off was as impressive as ever. I have never sympathised with HAL. He had already killed. My friend didn’t. Surely only a Hindu would say, “He didn’t deserve to die. They were cruel to him.” The Hindu religion holds all life, and all consciousness in such a high esteem: no other religion could engender this kind of attitude. Only my opinion. Please let me know what you think.

Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Romania and some of it’s Vampires Part 2

A great article on Romanian vampires and their names

Mari Wells

Moloi

Moloi are Romanian vampire spirits. These vampires can only life if it eats human hearts. It’s created when one of its parents kills an illegitimate child. A girl is called Moloica.

Necurat

The Necurat or Orgoi means “accursed or “dishonest” in Romania. Romanians call all of their vampire creatures this. It’s believed using this name instead of a specific name will keep from calling the vampire to them.

Another name for Vampires in Romania is Baboana for females and Babon for males.

Baba Coajo

A vampire forest spirit in Romania is a bloodthirsty monster.
She’s described as half bear and half woman. Baba Coajo pronounced Baba Co-ya means the Old Woman of the Tree Bark. She’s also called “Queen of the Forest” and has total control over the evil within the woods.

She is very dangerous evil entity. She catches children who wander into the forest alone, or those…

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Spring Forward, Fall Apart (Audio Short)

Nice bit of poetry being read.

Drew Chial

When cabin fever strikes, we all get to reenact Pink Floyd’s The Wall, here’s something I wrote about it.


(Download the instrumental version here)

I wrote this poem just as the leaves started to turn, and slowly but surly it became a self fulfilling prophecy. The cold has gotten so harsh that my dog refuses to step on the sidewalk for fear that the ice will chill her paws.

The clouds overhead have become a fixture. The stars won’t be back until May. The monochrome landscape isn’t as inspiring as it was a few months ago. Anything worth describing has been buried beneath a layer of white out.

There’s a city to explore, but subzero temperatures have a way of narrowing my field of vision. My introversion has gone from a choice, to something that’s necessary for my survival. If I wander the streets too long, I’ll die…

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