Latest Release - Big Red
We have always been here...
Traumatized by the effects of Compression travel, soldier Darren Loughlin holds the key to the fate of Earth’s Martian colonies. With his Battalion decimated, his fractured memory holds the only clues to the colony-wide communications blackout.

With time running out, Darren pieces together his year-long tour of duty with the Mars Occupation Force. Stationed in the Nazi-founded New Berlin colony, ruled by the brutal MARSCORP, he recounts his part in the vicious, genocidal war against the hostile alien natives and all who question Terran supremacy.

But as his memories return, Darren suspects he is at the centre of a plot spanning forty years. He has one last mission to carry out. And his alien enemies may be more human than he is…

Mars Occupation Force – Press Office

22 May 2020

Planet Building by Scott Coon

Today, I'm joined by author Scott Coon. This is a fascinating article about planet building. Enjoy!

I love Star Wars but someone needs to explain Endor. A moon should not be all forest—no polar caps, jungles, or deserts. It's fun but unrealistic. Icy Hoth and desert Tatooine make more sense. But life-sustaining planets can be—and actually are—much more interesting than these mono-climates. 


Our Earth formed when two planets collided, leaving us with a wobbling tilted axis and a huge moon. With our moon, four seasons, and ice ages, we may be unique in our galaxy. We would be strange and interesting to other peoples. If you’re a Sci-Fi or Fantasy writer, you can create a planet that's strange and interesting to us humans by considering its satellites, star, orbit and axis. 


Our moon is our only satellite. If it were much bigger, Earth and Luna would not be planet and moon but planet and planet orbiting a central point. Luna causes our tides and has protected us from meteors. In contrast, Mars, our sister planet, has two asteroid-like moons. Saturn and Jupiter have rings that are continuously raining meteors on their planets. The moon and the north star have played import rolls in our civilization. How would a ring affect the development of a society or navigation? 

Our yellow sun is in a minority of stars. The most common star is the Red Dwarf, outnumbering all other stars in our galaxy three to one. One in twenty Red Dwarves have a planet in the Goldilocks Zone, an orbital distance where liquid water forms. If your sci-fi story visits several solar systems, I recommend you make some of them Red Dwarves. But don't forget about all the other types like Red Giants and Brown Dwarves. Study them and go beyond the yellow.


Orbit and axis come together to create the seasons—or lack thereof. Our seasons are caused by our tilted axis. For half of our orbit, the north is titled toward the sun and the south away, causing the opposite seasons of the hemispheres. The wobble of our axis causes our ice ages. But our orbit is mostly circular, so it has little effect. On a planet with a vertical axis and elliptical orbit, the seasons would be in sync, all regions experiencing winter at the same time when the planet was farthest from its sun. On a world with a vertical axis and circular orbit, no seasons would exist. Weather would only change by latitude.


In Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, the planet experienced the destruction of its moon, sending its axis rolling, causing the unpredictable winters that define their society. Try imaging worlds with different tilts, wobbles, and orbits. Then try imagining one with none of it, not even a spin. This is called tidal locking—one side is always day, the other always night. The day side would be desert while the night is tundra. In between, where water melted off the glaciers into the broiling wasteland, a ribbon of life could arise. Who would these creatures be? How would they explore the extreme sides of their planet?


Around some gas giants, moons are squeezed and stretched by the planet's gravity, creating heat that could support life without the benefit of a Goldilocks Zone. There are orphaned planets, wandering between the stars that could have such moons. Dark Eden by Chris Beckett is set on a plant flung away from its star and its galaxy. It drifts through darkness, its atmosphere heated by the biochemical reactions of the life that evolved on it. 


Scientific theories and pure imagination can take planet building even further. Somewhere between a planet and a spaceship is the Dyson Sphere, a shell constructed around a star in the Goldilocks Zone. This scientific theory appears in science fiction, including Star Trek TNG's episode Relics. In Bowl of Heaven by Gregory Benford, Cup World is a half Dyson Sphere. Fantasy stories can break the planet standard altogether. In Discworld and other works by Terry Pratchett, the planet is on the back of a turtle swimming through space. As absurd as this may be, Pratchett creates rules for his world and follows them. The result is interesting and entertaining. And it's not a mono-climate.

Scott Coon has been published in various magazines and has won accolades for his short stories. He served for six years in the U.S. Army as an Intelligence Analyst, including a tour in Kuwait where he received the Joint Service Achievement Award. Now a software developer for a major bank, Scott brings his computer and military experience into his work, along with a sense of spectacle. See his website for links to his published shorts and his papers on the art and business of writing.

LOST HELIX by Scott Coon, a sci-fi adventure/mystery. Available for Pre-Order Now! When his dad goes missing, DJ finds a file containing evidence of a secret war of industrial sabotage, a file encrypted by his dad using DJ's song Lost Helix. Caught in a crossfire of lies, DJ must find his father and the mother he never knew.

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18 May 2020

It's Not You... It's me...

I know, I know… I haven’t put up a blog post in a while. It’s not you, it’s me!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; I’d rather write four thousand words than four hundred. I can craft battle scenes, create new characters and worlds, and destroy them with ease. But the thought of writing a few hundred words about myself or what I’m up to makes me want to throw myself onto the ground like my five-year-old son after I tell him we’ve run out of yogurt… Anyway, enough of that and let’s dive right into it!

The last few months have been exceptionally busy. I’ve watched the British and Irish Writing Community grow from strength to strength and witnessed our online magazine Bard of the Isles continue to expand. We’ve added more members to our community and leadership team and have a dozen projects in the pipeline to support and promote fellow writers across these beautiful islands. With three issues of Bards under our belt, we’re still receiving some fantastic short story submissions, articles, and interviews. With Issue 4 out as of yesterday, we’ve expanded our offerings and opened up a poetry section. We’ve also announced the first ever BIWC prize for indie authors with the finalists due to be announced at BIWCcon in October!

Big Red, my debut Irish military science fiction novel, also got a brief moment in the limelight. Thanks to fans and supporters, Big Red reached the longlist for the BSFA award for Best Novel released in 2019. There were some serious heavy-hitters on that list and some fantastic works – just to see my name alongside them was a massive win.

Big Red was also a year old on the 14th May. A continued thank you to everyone who’s checked out my debut Irish science fiction novel and left a review. A year later and my mind is still blown by the level of support I’ve gotten!

On the writing front, things have taken an interesting twist. This year, I started on a project using the working title ‘Oceania’, a military science fiction set seventy years after humanity colonises a water world. My publisher Diane from Dancing Lemur Press had previously asked for a short story set in the Big Red universe. Setting Oceania aside, I crafted a 13k word story entitled ‘Blood Red Sand’ which covered one of the pivotal backstories in Big Red, namely the Allied invasion of Mars in 1954 and the Battle of New Berlin.

It was a lot of fun delving back into the universe of Big Red. One of the things fans of the novel had said to me on more than one occasion was that they wanted more insight into the action and the actual battles. It’s a fair point because as Big Red was told from the POV of an unreliable narrator, it can be a bit trickier to capture the wider action from a platoon, company, or battalion-sized operation. Blood Red Sand gave me the opportunity to switch to a third person POV and explore the Allied invasion from the perspective of the invading Mars Expeditionary force and the defending Wehrmacht.

Needless to say, I was thrilled by my publisher’s reaction to the story. Rather than launch it as a standalone prequel short story, she suggested developing it into a novel in its own right, which gave me a boost. Three months later, Blood Red Sand stands at slightly over 100k words and is sitting in the hands of my amazingly talented proofreader and editor Monique. I’m sure I still have a bit more to go to polish it off, but I really enjoyed writing this project and especially answering some of the questions fans of Big Red had brought forward.

For those that have read Big Red, I’ve covered a good few topics ranging from the origins of the Hollow Programme to the Mars Occupation Force and the Compression Matrix, as well as some insight into the background of the so-called Natives. Although some of those burning questions have been answered, I couldn’t resist leaving a few threads open, while creating a few new ones…

I have a few more writing projects scheduled for this year and a lot more exciting news coming your way. Stay tuned and stay safe!


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05 October 2019

The Choctaw by Charles Suddeth

To celebrate the launch of his STONE MAN AND THE TRAIL OF TEARS on 8th October, I'm pleased to host a guest article from author Charles Suddeth. I learned about the Choctaw and their donation to Ireland during the Great Famine back when I was in Primary school and it's a story that has always stayed with me. 

The Choctaw

By Charles Suddeth


The Choctaw call themselves Hacha hatak, River People. In 1492, they lived primarily in the state of Mississippi. Contrary to views about most Native Americans, the Choctaw were farmers. The three sisters—corn, beans, and squash/pumpkins were their staple crops. They lived in chukka, houses covered in mud and grass. They were Mound Builders who they lived in towns Their temples were located on earthen mounds similar to pyramids.


In the 1830s, the US federal government sent several tribes west to the state of Oklahoma to make room for white settlers. Many Native Americans died, so it was called the Trail of Tears. The Choctaw Trail of Tears took place over 3 years: falls of 1831, 1832, and 1833. About 16,000 Choctaw went west. In 1831, a blizzard hit, and food supplies were scarce. Many Choctaw starved to death. In 1832, cholera hit. At least 2,500 Choctaw died, so when the Irish famine hit a few years later, the Choctaw knew of the horrors of starvation.


Today, the Choctaw have 3 federal reservations, small ones in Mississippi and Louisiana, and the main reservation in Oklahoma. Smaller, state-recognized bands also exist in Alabama (1 band), Louisianan (4 bands), Mississippi (1 band), and Texas (1 band). The Choctaw language is still spoken. The Choctaw national sport is ishtaboli, stickball, a type of lacrosse. “Okla” means “people” and “homa” means red—the state of Oklahoma is Choctaw for Red People.


Though I am of Cherokee descent, my great-great grandfather never signed a government roll, so I cannot claim Cherokee citizenship. The Cherokee and Choctaw have many similarities. Both were Mound Builders, farmers, suffered on the Trail of Tears, wore turbans (this surprises many people), and today, they meet yearly for stickball games.


As the Choctaw say, Yakoke. Thank you.

Charles Suddeth has published poetry, picture books, middle reader’s books, young adult thrillers, and adult mysteries in English, Cherokee, and Turkish. He is active with Green River Writers and leads a monthly SCBWI Social. He lives in Louisville and teaches for the Jefferson County Schools. 


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Driven to Stone Man’s trail...


After U.S. soldiers attack twelve-year-old Tsatsi’s Cherokee village, his family flees to the Smokey Mountains. Facing storms, flood, and hunger, they’re forced to go where Stone Man, a monstrous giant, is rumored to live. 


His family seeks shelter in an abandoned village, but soldiers hunt them down. Tsatsi and his sister Sali escape, but Sali falls ill and is kidnapped by Stone Man. Tsatsi gives chase and confronts the giant, only to learn this monster isn’t what he seems.


Their journey is a dangerous one. Will Tsatsi find the strength to become a Cherokee warrior? And will they ever find their family?


Print ISBN 9781939844620

EBook ISBN 9781939844651

Release date – October 8, 2019


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