[powr-countdown-timer id="f7255c7f_1609943775"]
Coming Soon – Blood Red Sand
Mars will run red with Nazi blood…
After World War Two, Sergeant McCabe knew the British army could send him anywhere. He never imagined facing down another Nazi threat on Mars.

In New Berlin colony, rivalry between Generalfeldmarschall Seidel’s Wehrmacht and Reichsführer Wagner’s SS threatens bloodshed. The Reichsführer will sacrifice everything to initiate the secretive Hollow Programme and realise his nightmarish future for humanity.

McCabe, Private Jenkins, and the Mars Expeditionary Force must overcome bullet, bomb, and bayonet to destroy the Third Reich. While Jenkins fights to stay alive, McCabe forms an uneasy alliance with MAJESTIC-12 operatives known as the Black Visors. Will this be the final battle of World War Two or the first confrontation in an interstellar war?

Mars Occupation Force – Press Office

28 September 2020


Today, I'm joined by Canadian author C.D. Gallant-King. I've had the pleasure of ARC-reading his latest book "Psycho Hose Beast From Outer Space" (out today) and I loved it. Read the full interview below for writing tips, more about C.D's writing style and giving out free hugs and cupcakes on a street corner...

Welcome C.D! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I just turned 40 (holy crap!). I’m Canadian, from the island province of Newfoundland, which you
and your readers should be familiar with. At eighteen I moved to Toronto to study theatre, and I
completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. I haven’t set foot inside a theatre since.
In my life I’ve been a stock boy, an actor, a marketing coordinator, a stage manager, a lighting
designer, a print shop manager, a retail supervisor, a trainer, an executive assistant, a
bookkeeper, and currently I push papers around for the government. I also once spent an
afternoon handing out free hugs and cupcakes on a street corner. Through all of it I’ve written
stories, but to be honest the writing doesn’t pay much better than the cupcakes.
In addition to reading books and telling stories I like playing games, especially if they involve
funny-shaped dice and talking in silly voices, and I’m also very partial to the noble and ancient
art of professional wrestling. I also buy lots of Star Wars toys and pretend they’re for my kids.
When did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve always been a writer. It’s not a decision, it just kinda happens, like getting run over by a
I decided to become a “published” writer in about 2004, except no one wanted my book. I don’t
blame them, it wasn’t very good.
Finally, in 2015 as I approached my 35 th birthday, I finally made the plunge to self-publish.
Everyone was doing it, why shouldn’t I get a chance? I never expected to make much money or
win accolades, but I thought I could at least entertain a few people with my stories, and I did. So
I’ve kept it up, because that’s who I am now.
So, what have you written?
I’ve written about a dozen novels and tons of short stories, but most of them are still sitting in
the basement in the little room under the stairs I affectionately call The Closet. I’ve self-
published three of those novels - Ten Thousand Days, Hell Comes to Hogtown, and the newest,
Psycho Hose Beast from Outer Space. I supposed all of them are some blend of “urban
fantasy,” but Days leans more toward fantasy and romance while Hogtown and Hose Beast lean
(really hard) into comedy and horror.
My short fiction has appeared in several Strangely Funny anthologies from Mystery and Horror,
a couple of collections from Dancing Lemur Press, and an upcoming issue of The Weird and
Whatnot. I also have a series of dark comic fantasy short-stories available called Werebear vs.
Landopus. They’re kind of weird and grotesque, but if you’re into really foul-mouthed dwarves,
brutally maimed heroes and jokes about bodily fluids, then have I got a treat for you!

Do you have any odd writing habits?
I write on the bus, does that count? Before COVID, I had a very long commute to and from work
every day, so to make use of that time I spent a lot of it writing. Hell Comes to Hogtown was
written and edited almost exclusively with my laptop balanced on my knees on an Ottawa city
bus. Some people might find it distracting, but with my iPod blaring in my ears and my focus on
my screen I don’t even notice it anymore. I get so “in the zone” that sometimes I nearly missed
my stop.
Even before the pandemic I had been riding the bus less, so I took to different tactics. Psycho
Hose Beast From Outer Space was written almost entirely on my phone, with me tapping out
paragraphs whenever I had a few free moments - waiting for appointments, on break at work,
sitting with my kids while they fell asleep. I don’t have a ton of free time, so you have to make
every minute count.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

Absolutely. I even tend to leave it between rounds of editing/revision. The longer you stare at
something the harder it is to be objective and worse, j
Any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing?
ust reading it becomes a chore. I have
fallen asleep both reading and listening to my own work, and it’s embarrassing. You don’t ever
want to end up at that point.
So after you’ve spent several months writing a draft, take some time off to write something else
or read a few books or do whatever you need to do to recharge your brain. You want to come
back at it with fresh eyes and renewed interest. You will care more about it when you feel like
the words are at least a little less stale, and it’s not the tenth time you’ve read them in a week.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing as far as content?
Do you mean things I find difficult to write? Not many. I’m not bothered by sex, violence,
profanity and such, which you can probably tell if you read any of my work. I don’t get upset by
killing characters or anything like that. Character death is a necessary part of a story, and one of
a writer’s tools. It would be like getting upset by having to type the letter “q.”
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing as far as content?

Do you mean things I find difficult to write? Not many. I’m not bothered by sex, violence,
profanity and such, which you can probably tell if you read any of my work. I don’t get upset by
killing characters or anything like that. Character death is a necessary part of a story, and one of
a writer’s tools. It would be like getting upset by having to type the letter “q.”
I will admit that lately I’ve been a little apprehensive about stuff involving children. Not about
writing for children, I love writing children’s stories, but about combining my aforementioned sex,
violence and profanity with kids. Being a relatively new parent with small kids leaves that as a
slightly sensitive subject to me. I know, however, that it’s also a sensitive subject with many
other people, so it may at some point be a topic worth exploring. I probably will write about it
someday, it’s just a little too fresh and raw on my mind right now.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing?

What to do: Just write. I know that sounds dumb, and clichéd, but I hear about so many people
who are “writing” a novel but never seem to finish it. Put words down on paper and see what
happens. This leads directly to…
What not to do: Everything else. Stop second-guessing yourself, wondering whether it’s “good
enough”; it doesn’t matter, just put something down, you can fix it later. Stop worrying about
covers and marketing and maps when you don’t have a story to go with it. Stop spending so
much time on message boards, talking about writing; all those words are wasted, they could be
going into your manuscript. Stop world-building and calculating the air speed and wing-beats
per minute of dragons in your universe. None of it will matter if no one ever reads the book
because you’ve never finished it. And stop reading advice about writing from people who don’t
know what they’re talking about.
Wait a minute…

C.D. Gallant-King writes comic horror and fantasy stories in a variety of settings and genres. He
is a proud Newfoundlander and Canadian currently living in Ottawa, Ontario. He holds a
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre. He lived in Toronto for 10 years and tried to be an actor and a
rock star, but we don't talk about that. He is now a happy husband and father of two.
C.D. has previously published two novels, and a third book, PSYCHO HOSE BEAST FROM
OUTER SPACE, is set to be released September 28. His book HELL COMES TO HOGTOWN
was a semi-finalist in Mark Lawrence’s 2018 Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. His work has also
appeared four times in Mystery & Horror's STRANGELY FUNNY anthologies of comic horror
stories, an upcoming issue of The Weird and Whatnot magazine, and in two anthologies from
Dancing Lemur Press.

Newfoundland, Canada, 1992.
Gale Harbour hasn’t seen any excitement since the military abandoned the base there thirty
years ago, unless you count the Tuesday night 2-for-1 video rentals at Jerry's Video Shack. So
when a dead body turns up floating in the town water supply, all evidence seems to point to a
boring accident.
Niall, Pius and Harper are dealing with pre-teen awkwardness in the last days of summer before
the start of high school. The same night the body is found, the three of them witness unusual
lights in the sky over the bay.
Is it a coincidence? Are the lights connected to the rapidly-increasing string of mysterious
deaths? And what does the creepy old lady at the nursing home have to do with it?
There is an evil older than time hidden deep beneath the waters of the North Atlantic. It is
hungry, and vengeful, and it has its sights set on Gale Harbour to begin its path of destruction.
All that stands in its way are a group of kids who would rather be playing Street Fighter II...

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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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