Judith Rook

Writer, Reader and general Book Fan

A slightly unusual Facebook Event



“Planet Woman” – Book 1 in the “Circe” Series   http://geni.us/p1w2

I don’t feature much now on author takeovers because I’m hopeless at making up games and other activities, and I feel that offering give-aways reduces the worth of what I want to promote.  However, I do attend such events and find a lot of interest in the conversations, although I rarely play any of the games.

However, I am taking part in the “Ides of March – Essentia” event on March 15th, because it is based around characters – not authors.   Here is the link to where it will be happening:    https://www.facebook.com/events/1842866815961224/1856439211270651

Each participant has to select a character from one of their books to be the focus for the hour-long slot, with the author becoming the character.  I like the idea, probably because my writing tends to be character driven.

The event organiser, Tom Fallwell, writes:

“The essentia of any good fantasy or science-fiction story requires a believable character that the reader can relate to. It is our intent to bring to life, for you, the characters from such stories created by Indie Authors, so you can get to know them. If you find a character you love, then read the book and you may just have a new favorite author.”


The character who will be appearing on my slot is the villain (see the pic.) of my “Circe” series – a story arc based on a sentient planet and the humans who live with her.   But I’m not at all sure how well I’ll be able to step into his shoes and represent him, although I’m the one who has brought him out.  Anyway, it’s an intriguing situation.


All the authors who will feature their characters are introducing them briefly on the site.  We have two introductions already up, and mine will appear on February 25th, so please go and have a look.

I hope that the introductions will be interesting enough for you to put your name onto the “Going” list and then set some time aside on March 15th to have a look at what’s happening on the character takeover.

On March 15th, my character will be appearing at 6.00 pm EST, which is 8.00 am Western Australian time.


A Little Light Reflection


From the Other Side

Unwittingly, innocently, and probably likely to be distressed should I be unkind enough to point out the fact, my young neighbour has become the spectre at my personal and private feast.   I am very glad indeed that he has a job as a junior accountant in a bank, because it takes him out of his house for the working week, and I have hours at a time when I can occupy my back yard without seeing his head rising above the fence, like a balloon with a smiley face.

But when he detects my presence around the flower beds, he pays me an al fresco visit, because he told me that his Nan said that he should take an interest in people.  I think she means young people of the other gender, but he has taken it into his mind to be interested in me.  He is unfailingly cheerful and sometimes comic; he looks at my garden and tells me that his weeds are better than mine, then giggles as he goes off, leaving me to it, as he says.

Sometimes he makes the early mornings hideous as he exercises on his back patio, singing along, enthusiastically and out-of-tunefully, with whatever popular song may be pouring into him through small black devices stuffed into his ears.  He solemnly persists in this completely unnecessary regime of exercise, for he is fit and healthy beyond belief.  He thinks that life is a wonderful adventure.  For my neighbour, grumpiness is an infinitesimal cloud on his horizon.

The other week, he became almost hysterical with excitement when he met one of the great financial gurus from television land, who visited his place of work to deliver a kindly and motivational pep-talk to the up and coming juniors.  I asked what colour tie did the pundit wear.  My neighbour didn’t even know if the visitor wore a tie at all.  What did he talk about?  “Macroeconomics,” breathed the young idiot, and I’d swear that, hidden behind the fence, his hands were clasped against his chest.

My neighbour doesn’t know anything.  When I told him about 1848, the year of revolutions, he looked at me in amazement.  The next day he called over the fence: “I told my Nan about you.  I said that you’re cool.”

What are you going to do?

Resistance may be a Good Thing



I spent part of today attending a free webinar on the subject of Pinterest.  The webinar was very well constructed and presented, and of course, after the statutory 35 minutes of relevant content, the remainder of the hour was devoted to selling a seven-part course – about Pinterest.   I hadn’t expected anything less.

Since I bought my first participation in a similar course in the past, I have grown in experience. I understand now much more about what can be done in the vast world of the internet, I have become more proficient at using it, and I know more about online courses.

I came away in my usual post-webinar condition; slightly bewildered, slightly shaken, slightly depressed, and needing a cup of tea.  Certainly, I was not able to make a decision about whether the rather large amount of money would be worth what I might gain from participation in the course.  I needed time for reflection. The trouble was that in order to benefit from sizable bonuses of content, we were given 15 minutes only to sign up to the whole course.

The outcome is that I won’t be taking this particular course, although the content might have been very helpful.  I’ll wait until I see it offered again.  But here comes that old FOMO feeling.  Have I decided correctly?

New Facebook Group




I have joined a comparatively new group on Facebook.  It is called “Science Fantasy Society” https://www.facebook.com/groups/SciFanSociety/ and as yet it has not decided on its identifying logo.  However, I think it will suit me and my writing rather well, so I put in a little more effort than usual to my introductory message, and here it is.


I started off writing what I intended to be space opera, but I could not seem to manage the empire/huge centralised government aspect, and the power/militaristic theme that goes with it.  Instead, I found myself developing a fantasy theme concerning a sentient planet.

Is a sentient planet possible?  In one way, no; but on the other hand, it can be argued that our Earth already possesses a type of sentience, although perhaps not an awareness of individuality, which my thinking planet (whose name is “Circe”) possesses in spades.

However, I believe that the concept of a sentient planet places my some of my writing in the Science Fantasy genre, so here I am, a new member of this emerging group, looking forward to some interesting discussions around our particular brand of speculative fiction.

I have indie-published two novels in the “Circe” series (“Planet Woman” http://geni.us/p1w2   and “Man of Two Planets” http://geni.us/m1o2p ) and the third is a work-in-progress.   I have also written one (nearly two) more clearly sci-fi works which I won’t mention here.

Earlier in 2016 I turned to a bit of writing for young adults, and produced the novella “First Steps for a Hero” http://geni.us/Hero2  which takes the fact of the multiverse as its basic premise.  This moves slightly nearer science fiction, although there is still an element of: “fantasy rationalized by reference to science-fictional conventions” (quoting Wikipedia).  Therefore, I feel that I can mention this and its follow-on novel (another WiP) in this group.

The simple act of writing this post has motivated me to return to the YA novel, which has been on my ‘pending’ shelf for a little too long.


STEVE ATKINSON – From Story to Story


I came across Steve Atkinson’s novel Ludec by Facebook chance, and while the concept of Ludec is highly intriguing, the important thing is that the novel introduced me to Steve’s short stories.  I read some of them and realised that these are very good short stories indeed. Learning a little about Steve’s background, I wondered if his 30 years experience as a Fleet Street journalist may have influenced his short stories, so I asked him.  In reply, he wrote the following piece.


pizap-com14790930228141 A newspaperman lives through dozens of stories every day. Touching, often harrowing, tales that bring tears, at least on the inside, laughter, pain and sometimes passionate fury. It comes with the job, like milk comes with the milkman.

If you didn’t experience enough life in thirty years, on what used to be called London’s Fleet Street, to cram at least 10 books to bursting, then you were probably on the Obituary Column.

A lot of my stories – but not all – come from exciting snatches of other peoples’ adventures. I’ve had my own, too, and inspired by these two factors, my imagination goes into overdrive.

We all absorb what we see and feel around us from day to day, and with me, it all comes gushing out when I sit down in my study and start to write.

Photographers take pictures, artists paint landscapes, and I plumb the depths of my memories for inspiration. There’s a goldmine down there and all I have to do is wrap it all up in some carefully chosen words and wham!…we have a story.

Steve's study. How did that street sign get onto that wall?

Steve’s study. How did that street sign get onto that wall?

I’m looking at my study wall as I write this, and the framed pictures of newspaper stories I have covered: the last words of a victim gunned down by a gangster in a shocking revenge killing, on manoeuvres with the British military, training with RAF jet fighter pilots (dumped in the wintry ocean before a dramatic helicopter rescue), a day on the motor racing circuit, ski-ing, a venture aboard a two-man hot air balloon ending in near disaster, spy stories, crime stories,  love stories, celebrity stories – I seem to have covered the whole gamut of our modern world.

Lots of people have done these things and perhaps keep diaries and albums to store them in. With me it’s more a case of wrapping them up in storylines and packing them off to a sympathetic publisher.


Four-year-old Steve in his first car. The gate mentioned in the story "Reflections in a Hub Cap" is behind him.

Four-year-old Steve in his first car. The gate mentioned in the story “Reflections in a Hub Cap” is behind him.

That’s where I live, in those books. From the Californian redwoods and surf cities (Old Grumpy and Wipe-out!), the dusty High Atlas mountains of Morocco (Innocents Abroad), Sixties London (Puppets) and even way back in my very own childhood, Reflections in a Hubcap.

Another story (Cokum) is much closer to home, exploring the edgy relationship between a craggy old Sussex fisherman and his son who has no desire to fish.  It is set entirely in the small town where I live and is a kind of homage to a bygone age, now pretty much swept away on the waves of time.

Most of my stories have a shock twist at the end, because that was what always impressed me as a reader. I didn’t want to know what was happening after just a page or two; predictability was pure poison. Now, as a writer, I want people to reach the last line, drop the book and say: Wow! Didn’t see that coming!

It wouldn’t have worked with any of my news-editors but I believe it works well in fiction. They used to say ‘tell the story straight and true.’

Not me. I like to keep ‘em guessing to the very end.


Reflections in a Hub Cap appears on Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=Steve+Atkinson+Reflections+in+a+Hub+Cap


The Five most influential Indie Author Advocates on Twitter

I tend to suffer from FOMO (the fear of missing out), so when I come across a site or blog that seems to throw useful light on the business of book promoting, I save it in my bookmarks.  This results in huge lists of sources which I never find time to consult, so periodically I clear them all out – and start again, of course.

You get the idea.

This is a labyrinth in England.  You get the idea.

What I need, I have decided, is a broader perspective on the available sources about the huge area of independent book publishing, so when I learned about the following list, I asked permission to feature it as a guest post because it provides some excellent shortcuts through the information maze.  Here it is.


If you’re an indie author – or planning to self-publish a book – follow these people to get insider tips and useful advice.

  1. Mark Coker @markcoker

Founder of Smashwords the giant ebook distributing company, Mark Coker has access to data and publishing trends. Although he doesn’t tweet much and rarely interacts with followers, his insider information is gold for indie authors.


  1. Rayne Hall @raynehall

Author of the bestselling Writer’s Craft guide and pubishing strategist, Rayne Hall tweets frequently about writing and publishing. Watch for her #writetip and #indiepubtip memes. Rayne interacts with followers and answers publishing-related questions.


  1. Joanna Penn @thecreativepenn

A marketing expert for indie publishers, Joanna Penn tweets many links to useful articles and blog posts. She engages in brief exchanges with followers.


  1. Jane Friedman @JaneFriedman

Author and publishing adviser,  Jane Friedman regularly posts links to publishing-related web posts. She often replies to tweets from her followers.


  1. Joel Friedlander @JFbookman

Provider of ready-formatted templates for books, Joel Friedlander tweets mostly links to posts about indie publishing. He doesn’t interact much.


Which other important indie publishing advocates do you follow? Post your recommendations in the Comments section.



My stories open portals into other universes.  They are not windows to look out of, but doors to walk through. They are star-gates and meta-light travel; they activate the imagination and sense of wonder that such things can be. My stories exist because the human mind will always look beyond what can be known.








Young Adult Novella

Young Adult novella   First Steps for a Hero     http://geni.us/Hero1 


I have discovered that one does not slide easily into writing for the late adolescent to early twenties reader.  I constantly find myself thinking about that type of sanguine, inexperienced mind, wondering how far, in this day and age, can I presume that a character is still comparatively innocent and still accepting of family influence?

First Steps for a Hero is my first book written for young adults.  It is short, but in its pages I have tried to present a simple, straight-down-the-line tale of a young man emerging into heroic life, because I believe that heroism is one of the highest of all human achievements, and hero growth begins at an early age.

The Earth-based part of the narrative is set in 1969, twenty-four years before the world wide web became available to the general public.  In this story, people still communicate directly with each other, confrontations are face-to-face, and the characters are not affected by what might appear on social media.  These people live in a world where basic human values are unquestioned, and young men and women are still a bit naïve and hopeful about the adult lives stretching ahead of them.

The story which follows the novella is building into a full Young Adult realist fantasy novel, and will probably be epublished in December 2016.  Further ideas about this book, which will become the first in the Warders of Arrath series, are posted on the Audio Visual page.


Synopsis of First Steps for a Hero.

David Eldwick is a farmer’s son, living in the north country of England in 1969.  He has finished high school and will enter agricultural college in the Autumn.

Martin Horner, who lives on the farm next door, is jealous of David and has made his life at school as unpleasant as possible.  Although David resists Martin’s bullying, he avoids fighting with his tormentor.

Martin and his father intend to seize ownership of the Eldwick land by forcing David’s sister into a future marriage with Martin.  David warns Martin off, but Martin wants Jenevieve and goes ahead with his plans.

David has no idea how to handle his adversary, but a stranger comes to work on the Eldwick farm, and things begin to change.

The stranger, known as the Captain, comes from Arrath, an Earth-like world, existing in a parallel universe.  He teaches David how to defend himself against Martin, and David begins to develop in skill and character.

The young man grows to like and admire the captain.  He discovers that people from Arrath have been visiting Earth for a long time and he becomes curious about the other world.

Martin decides to force David into a confrontation, and at the end-of-summer ball, he kidnaps Jenevieve.  Knowing that finally he will have to fight, David confronts Martin.  He saves Jenevieve, and the captain invites him to visit Arrath.

The captain warns David that malevolent creatures from yet another parallel universe may have found their way onto Earth, intending to infect it with evil. But David learns that on Arrath, he can train to become a warder, a skilled guardian against the darkness.

Before David can make the crossing into the parallel universe, he detects the entry into Earth of other beings.  His Arrathan companions discover that the intruders are the evil creatures who threaten both Arrath and Earth.

Because the presence of Arrathan humans on Earth must be kept secret, David volunteers to draw the enemies away, so that his companions can return to their world undetected.

Alone and pursued, he meets the greatest danger of his life, but he must overcome his fear and protect both Arrath and Earth.

What will be David’s path into his future?  Does he truly believe that the other universe exists and that it can affect the lives of people on Earth?  Will he become a farmer or a warder of Arrath?






My very first MS ready for Publication

Towards the end of 2015 I set myself a major task and gave myself a specific goal.  I decided to re-work the first two sci-fi stories that I wrote and prepare them for print publication.

Both are inspired by contemporary cosmology and deal with the idea of the multiverse and the possibility of parallel worlds.

The revision of the first MS is completed, and I feel more than happy with the result. It has taken me three full months of very hard work but now I’m ready to roll.
I have not quite decided whether to publish it online or, as I first intended, send it into the print market and hope that it is accepted by a publisher or agent.  I will let a couple of weeks go by before I decide finally.

City (2)

Here is the first chapter.


by   Judith Rook  ©  2014


Peter Williams swore.  It helped.  There were no children or women around, and if any men heard him, it was their bad luck.  It was either swearing or kicking something, and a man in his sixties should not be seen laying into a baggage carousel.  What was the point of business class if you had to wait for your luggage?  It had upset the airline people.  It had upset him!  How could travelling cases just disappear?  Two of the airline staff had gone off to enquire.  That was twenty minutes ago, and nothing had happened since.  At this hour of the morning, the international arrivals lounge was just about empty.

But what else could he expect?  A trouble-free journey from Western Australia to Leeds/Bradford in the UK?  Not bloody likely!   Grayne, the alien leader, wanted Peter back, to become his helper again.  Once more the other dimension was pushing its way into his life, stirring things up.  He thought he had forgotten – no, he had forgotten – Grayne’s headquarters, the Place of Connection; he did not believe in it now, thank you very much! Whatever had happened there, if it had happened, had been a fantasy, a twist of the mind, although thirty years ago it had got him out of England and across to the other side of the world for the rest of his life.

Here came his luggage, on a trolley pushed by an apologetic airport official, and a Customs window was still open.  But he could put the bags into overnight storage and go back to Australia tomorrow.  Why was he here?  Just because he remembered making a promise?  But at the time he had been desperate and when Grayne, his master, had asked, Peter had given his word willingly.

He would spend the night in a city hotel.  It didn’t commit him to anything.

The intense golden radiance dimmed. Paramax, First of the Governing Council, took shape briefly and addressed the most mature and complex of his offspring.

“Your helper has moved. He is making for the controller’s portal. He will be available to you again.”

The custom was that subordinates remained silent, but the scion’s energy surged.

“You have called him back. You may speak.”

“I have.”

“You know the danger. He will be hunted.”

“I am prepared for the adversary; I wait only for the controller.  She will return soon.”

“Your helper is not prepared. He must be protected until the maker joins you.”

“I will protect him. I will not meet him.”

 At his time of life, Peter could adjust to change, but the new face of the city centre was startling. Sixty years ago, when the Clean Air Act had come in, the buildings, blackened with the soot of a hundred years, had been blasted to their original golden sandstone. That had been good enough but now those buildings were reflected in a wide sheet of water. A mirror pool? In Bradford? Good grief! Peter turned from the hotel window.  No distractions.  He needed to think, he needed to decide.

 Terror was always sweet, and so much fear could be extracted from the human mind. The makers who served him did not enjoy the taste. They found the vibrations of despair too disturbing, too rich for their capacity, but he forced the absorption on them, anyway. It was amusing to watch and bound the makers to him even more firmly.

It was unfortunate that lately one or two of the weaker ones had returned to chaos.

“Great lord, there is a message.”

He dropped the half-drained material body. “Take this for distribution. What is the message?”

“Master Grayne’s human helper has emerged again. Its pattern has been detected. It may be moving towards the Place of Connection.”

“Is its location exactly known?”

“No, great lord, only the pattern has been sensed.”

At last! The proto-master heaved his vast power out of its resting field, preparing to enter the flux which would take him into the human world.

“Instruct the Madon to join me.” 

In this matter, his lieutenant would be needed.  He would find this human helper and through it he would destroy his enemy.

 Across the square was the railway station where thirty years ago, early in the morning and with no-one to see him leave, Peter had taken the train south, cutting himself off completely from the incredible events which he had experienced. Events which, buried deeply in his memory, had lately been wrenched back to the surface of his mind. He did not want them there. He wanted them to retreat, to subside, and that could happen if he returned to Australia immediately. Would it matter if everyone thought he was in the first stages of some mental problem? He could bear that. What he might not be able to bear was to see Grayne again.

Five weeks ago he had received the press cutting from Alexander, and the carefully suppressed memories had welled up and flooded his mind, taken him over, dominated him. Peter’s comfortable semi-retired life in a leafy Perth suburb became shadowy and unsatisfactory, and three weeks later he booked a flight to England.

“Why are you suddenly going to England?” asked his sister, Madeleine.  “There’s nothing there for you now; you’ve always said that.”

“I think I need a break from here, that’s all.”

“Will you contact Alexander?”

Peter did not say that Alexander had already contacted him.

“Are you coming back?”

“I should think so, but there may be a couple of things I have to do first.”

And that was as close as he came to telling Madeleine that he was not going to England for a holiday but to act on the promise made years ago; the promise which meant that, when he saw his sister again, he could have lived thirty . . . fifty more years, although Madeleine would never know it.

It would happen, because now Peter grimly accepted that he could not run back to Australia.  He admitted finally that he needed to see Grayne again, wanted to speak to him, wanted to join him in following the strange plans that his alien mentor believed in, whatever they might lead to.

The controller had returned to her ingathering for renewal. Grayne could do nothing until she emerged, refreshed and powerful again. The years spent in the human world had wearied her, although she had learned so much more about the troublesome and recalcitrant race. She had made no human friends, as he had, but she had watched and thought.

“The controller will assist you in this matter?” His genitor’s query was bland but it hid knowledge. “If a confrontation with the enemy becomes inevitable, will you face him, joined with her once again?”

“She would never agree. She gave up too much in our first bonding.”

“Ah, then, the risk will be great. I do not wish to lose my scion. Is the human so important to you?”

“Nothing could be more important than Peter.”

“I remember the helper; he has courage. Do you also remember; he will be pursued.”

 Soon after breakfast, Alexander rang. Coming down the line were half-distant noises of animals and machinery.  Alexander owned High Leylands, a substantial farm holding given over mainly to the rearing of sheep and cattle, and Alexander was preparing to hand the farm on to his son, Michael, who had been to agricultural college and had modern ideas about diversification and the possibility of producing bio-fuel mass.

Now, by telephone between farm and hotel room, preliminary arrangements were made. Alexander would collect his cousin around six-thirty that evening; they would be back at High Leylands by eight, and Peter would settle in before a late supper.

On the subject of where Peter would sleep, Alexander was a little surprising.  “We thought you may like to stay in the old cottage at the top of the field behind the main buildings,” he said.  “You’ll probably remember it as a bit of a ruin but over the years we’ve renovated it.  It was where Michael lived before he got married but it’s too small for a young family and Michael and his wife have gone to live in Oldwick, still convenient for the farm, but nearer to his wife’s people.

“Everyone’s happy but the cottage stands empty.  It would warm it up a bit to have someone living there again, even if only for three or four weeks.  The place isn’t what I’d call stylish, but it’s comfortable enough and you can be completely self-contained, if it would suit.”

It would suit very well indeed.   Could it be that Alexander realised that his cousin had things to do, and he was offering a base where Peter could be independent and come and go without much remark?

“It’s an excellent idea, Alexander, and thank you both for the offer.  I hope we’ll be able to come to some financial arrangement, but I deeply appreciate your hospitality.  After all, I’m practically a stranger.”

“Well, in the sense that I haven’t seen you for sixteen years and I’ve about forgotten what you look like, yes, you’re a stranger.  On the other hand, you’re family and I remember that we got on very well when you lived with us and we were young fellows in our early thirties, before you disappeared to Australia.”

Alexander paused as though he might be gathering his thoughts for something further but then continued: “Well, we can talk about all that once you’re settled in, but there’s something else.  I haven’t told Fiona that you’re here because of that piece from The Advertiser.  She seems to have the idea that you’re thinking of coming back permanently and this visit is in the way of a preliminary survey.”

“There could be some truth in that,” replied Peter.  “I’ll have a good look round the district while I’m here, and if I find a house that I really like I might decide to stay.”

“Right, then; expect me around half past six,” said Alexander, and rang off.

The proto-master stared out into the human world.

 “It is not to my liking.  There are many troubled energies, but not enough.  There is too much strength of self; too much hope for goodness.  I can change that. But what does Grayne of the Gold seek here?  He cares nothing for goodness.”

He turned to his lieutenant.  “What does the maker desire?”

“This one desires revenge on the human.  This one desires to find the Peter and torment him.”

The dark lord showed him a place, high-lying, earth-fast and strong, a group of human buildings with one standing apart.

“Watch here.  When you see the master’s helper, inform me with no delay.  If you wish, you may contact him, but do not reveal yourself.  You will enjoy his fear.”





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