First Alpha-reader feedback about “Evil Eye”…

I’m just getting the first feedback from my Alpha-readers about ‘Evil Eye’. One lady told me today that it is well written, fun and moves along at a good pace, with an obvious link for a Book 2, which she would also like to read –

“You should feel proud of yourself,” she said – not bad, Lee. Not bad!


picture: “#EB Photo January challenge” by lee roberts on (Creative Commonas Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license)

Hav you ever wondered how the planets formed? …

Have you ever wondered how the planets formed? Now you can see for yourself with the updates that are starting to come through from the New Horizons probe’s flyby of Ultima Thule…

“We’re looking at one of the first building blocks that came together to form the planets and moons,” says Jeffrey Moore, a research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center. “It looks like somebody left it out in the back of God’s freezer for the last four-and-a-half billion years.”
The full article is at Scientific American

Picture Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the Southwest Research Institute

Using a digital voice recorder and YouTube to automatically convert your spoken word into text…

My latest author vlog is now up on my YouTube channel – today I explain how you can use a digital voice recorder and YouTube to automatically convert your spoken word into text – take a look at

titlecardThe DVR I’m using is a Sony ICD PX370. The lavalier lapel mic is an unbranded purchase from Amazon, circa £10.

I’m finding this to be a great for ensuring that when I’m walking or driving, that my creative thoughts don’t just get lost!

I’ve now printed the first 4 alpha copies of ‘Evil Eye – A Lissa Blackwood Thriller’…

Back in August I announced that I had finished the first draft of ‘Evil Eye’, and like all writers I immediately started work on improving that copy. ‘Evil Eye’ is my third novel and I’m getting used to that process of polishing and embellishing my work, but this time around I was thrown by some unexpected feedback from an alpha reader who said “Nothing much seems to be happening at the start…”

Wow – that really gave me a pause for thought because the last thing I want to do is bore my readers with what should be an exciting story. It was time to get back to work!

I quickly realised that the story was not properly structured and whilst plenty of exciting things were happening, they were not in the right places. I took the novel apart, scene by scene, and then reordered the entire manuscript in line with the 7-Point Story Structure:



  • Hook
  • First Plot Point
  • Pinch Point 1
  • Mid-Point
  • Pinch Point 2
  • Second Plot Point
  • Resolution

For more about this approach to structuring a novel take a look at this link.

It has taken me 4 months to restructure ‘Evil Eye’ and I am very pleased to have taken the time to do it because the story is now much stronger!

I had the pleasure of printing the first 4 updated copies for my alpha readers today – 3 copies arPrintingTheEvil Eye~FirstFullDraft~281218e already allocated and I’m hoping to get some more helpful feedback before the manuscript is edited next year.

Evil Eye~FirstFullDraft~281218



“Hospital Station” by James White – first published in 1967…

Just finished reading “Hospital Station” by James White – first published in 1967, an auspicious year!

HospitalStation~JamesWhiteI had a strong sense of déjà vu from the first short story in this collection, but the others were new to me. What stands out in this sci fi book is that although it is set in space, the objective is not one of the usual colonise-conquer-survive-kill or destroy tropes. Instead it is set in an inter-stellar hospital where ‘people’ (of all forms) go above & beyond duty to cure other ‘people’.

Being a collection of short 1960s stories you shouldn’t expect a modern Hard-SF read – the level is more ‘General Hospital’ (if you remember that one… ) than General Relativity – but they tripped along well enough and it was refreshing to read a ‘nice’ tale for change!

“How I Learned to Live with Climate Change”…

“How I Learned to Live with Climate Change”

DroughtPhoto~shrinkOn 8/12/18 the BBC reported that “Attempts to incorporate a key scientific study into global climate talks in Poland have failed”

– these talks are known as “COP24”, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
– see the BBC article here.

Apparently delegates to the meeting were shocked when representatives from the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait objected to this meeting “welcoming” the report. I am astounded that COP24 could not accept the IPCC’s work and enable mitigation against the effects of Climate Change to proceed. This essay and accompanying poem are my personal response to this complete failure of governance by these global leaders, who should now be hanging their heads in shame.

=== image: “Cracked Mud: California Drought” by Tyler Bell, CC BY 2.0 license, from flickr.dom

“… if you’re stupid enough to be biased against SF you will read SF stupidly…”

An insightful quote from Chris Gavaler on :

Prometheus~Hypersleep Pod~Torbay 2015


“… when readers who are biased against SF read the word ‘airlock’, their negative assumptions kick in – ‘Oh, it’s that kind of story’ – and they begin reading poorly. So, no, SF doesn’t really make you stupid. It’s more that if you’re stupid enough to be biased against SF you will read SF stupidly.”

Full article at

Image of hypersleep pod from the film Prometheus (c) Lee Russell, taken at Torbay exhibition, 2015

the international diversification of sci-fi…

I enjoyed this interesting article from the BBC about the international diversification of sci-fi:

Barbican~020817~Russian sci fi artwork~shrink

Nothing ever stays the same and it is very good for the genre to bring in new ideas and new voices. On the other hand we are seeing an increasingly aggressive China and Russia exerting themselves militarily in several regions – so while the rapid changes in those countries is great for SF, they are also triggers for great inter-cultural friction…


== Image of Russian sci-fi artwork (c) Lee Russell, 2018 – taken at the August 2017 “Into the Unknown” exhibition at the London Barbican Centre.


Latest vlog about “Evil Eye – A Lissa Blackwood Thriller”…

I’ve just shared a new vlog about ‘Evil Eye – A Lissa Blackwood Thriller’ on YouTube – take a look at

In the vlog I talk about 2 large changes that I’m making to the story.

Firstly I’m removing the references to Brexit – the plot of this book isn’t driven by that and taking it out will give the trilogy more longevity.

Secondly, I’m restructuring the story to the 7-Step Novel Structure. I’m quite a way through this already, and these changes should be finished in 1-2 weeks, which is great because I really want to get back to writing Lissa Blackwood’s “book 2” – she has become a much darker character and I’m enjoying seeing where she is going!