Saturday, 28 December 2013

My Blog Has Moved House

A Woman's Wisdom has moved...find me here on my brand new Wordpress site.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Guest Blog - 'Forgotten Americas' by author Zoe Saadia

Hi Ali, thank you for welcoming me and my pre-Columbian Americas to A Woman’s Wisdom.

I guess I had better start with a quick explanation. My passion for pre-Columbian Americas puzzles everyone, myself included. Curiously, it blossomed in the snows of St Petersburg, on the other side of the globe. Since I was a child, I have been obsessed with everything indigenous to America, passionately disliking Westerns and the way these movies generalized its amazing variety of cultures and nations. Needless to say, my family and friends learned to avoid the troublesome topic altogether as I grew up…and they still do!

So, born behind the Iron Curtain (ouch!), I was whisked away to Israel as a teenager. Whilst I fell in love with everything Middle Eastern, I still moved to North America a few years later, following my boyfriend who went to work there.

However, those few years in sunny California decided my fate. I had found what to do with my passion, aside from driving my friends and family crazy. It took more than ten years of research, then more years still to battle the world of the written word, but here I am writing novels on pre-Columbian Americas and feeling better with the ability to do something about this entirely neglected chunk of history.

You see, dry history is boring. It’s for a few scholars to enjoy. The majority of us regular people do not seek to memorize a date or a name.  I think we are right, for what is history if not an account of notable people’s lives? And usually those lives were full of action and adventure; otherwise they would not have been recorded.

So the element of action-adventure is strong in my stories although they are all grounded in solid, thoroughly researched historical events. Different continents or times aside, people were always people with their basic needs, urges and desires; whether in ancient Rome, Aztec Tenochtitlan or modern-day New York.

Take gambling for example. Was there a place/country/empire/continent without this perfectly human passion? I don’t think so. And of course pre-Columbian America was no different.

What would you bet whilst watching a fierce ball game where the players were not afraid to hurt themselves? A kernel of maize?  A good obsidian knife? A gold necklace studded with precious stones?

Well, why not? In the Mexican Valley (today’s Mexico City) and its surroundings, throughout many important city states, small villages and regular towns men and women whether commoners or nobles, warriors or peasants (practically everyone) could have been found crouching on mats engaged in this pastime, with Patolli, a bean game, being the most popular of them all.

Patolli was a game of luck and skill, requiring practice and a measure of strategic thinking, with the player depending on the caprice of the rolling beans, as well. The players would gamble whatever they felt fit; from blankets to food and precious stones to even their freedom. And the onlookers would hold their breath, liking to watch the game as much as they liked to participate in it.

In the alleys of the marketplace or in the warriors’ camps, in the Palaces and the dwellings of the nobles as much as in the cane-and-reed houses of the poor, people would challenge each other readily, trusting Xochipilli, the God of Gambling, to watch over their luck. Before the beginning of the game this God would be offered sincere prayers, and sometimes even a part of the offerings out of the betting pool.

The game would begin with twelve figurines commencing to race up the board, six for each player. The goal of the game was to move one’s figurines across the board, from the starting squares to the finishing ones. To do that the players would cast five beans (the word “patolli” means beans) which were marked with a dot on one side of each bean.The players would move their figurines according to the number of dotted sides each toss displayed - two dots, two moves, three dots, three, but if the beans displayed all dots the lucky man’s figurine would jump ten squares all at once.

And so, each figurine that completed its turn across the board would win its owner a bet. Six figurines, six bets. Then someone would always go away richer and happier than the other.

Of course there were other ways to lose one’s possessions. Totoloque was a simpler game, but one that required more skill and fitted the warriors best. The players tossed small pellets as close to the target as possible. Each player had five tries and the one who scored more hits would win the bet.

There were also spectacular ballgames, where the players displayed their athletic skills and the warrior’s stamina, hitting a heavy rubber ball with their hips and elbows only, not letting it touch the ground. It gave a perfect excuse for the onlookers to bet wildly, putting it all on their favorite team and its chances of winning.

And so, Mesoamericans dared fate time after time. Between wars and politics and betting games, the people around Lake Texcoco didn’t complain about being bored. Well, most of the time!

Zoe Saadia is originally from Russia and is a very successful author of novels celebrating the pre-Columbian Americas and their culture. Her books can be found on her Amazon page. She can also be contacted through Twitter and Goodreads.

Having survived the failed raid on the enemy lands, Tekeni had no illusions. He was nothing but an enemy cub, adopted into one of the clans, but not accepted, never for real. To fit in was difficult, to run away - impossible. To get into trouble, more often than not, was the only available option. They did not expect anything else from him, anyway.

However, when a meaningless row during a ballgame grew out of proportion, resulting in a fight, Tekeni found himself in truly grave trouble. Neither he nor anyone else could have foreseen the chain of events and the consequences this fight would release when the highly esteemed but controversial Two Rivers, a man who professed unacceptable notions and ideas of negotiating peace with the neighboring nations, decided to help Tekeni out.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

A Sissy Kind Of Christmas: Part 4 by author Kimberly Biller

Meet 11 year old Sissy Ann Smith. Born And raised in the southern United States, she is the main character in the southern humor novellas The Tree In The Front Yard and it's prequel One Street Over. She is a very southern sassy gal living in a dysfunctional family in the early 80's. Her hard life is not reflected in her personality or her desire for a fun loving existence. These little stories will give you an insight into how adventurous she can be. Sissy is going to take you along on her winter holiday fun and show you what she does to forget her crazy folks for a little while. This is the final part of her weekly mini series, the three previous parts can be found on December Sundays in the blog archive list.

I can't believe I almost got myself busted with mama. Heck, I can't believe I came up with that crazy mouse excuse. God is still gonna punish me; I am sure of it. I better do a good deed to make up for it. Now...what could I possibly do? Aha, I got it! Mama always makes Christmas cookies so maybe I can get her to make a few extra and I can deliver 'em to the ol' lady on the corner. She is always alone at Christmas. She scares me, but I bet God will forget that whole mouse incident if I do that good deed.
"Mama, will you make a few extra cookies this year so I can give 'em to the little ol' lady on the corner? She's always all alone at Christmas. I bet that's why she is so grumpy and mean. I bet if we are nice to her she will be happy for once."
"You know Sissy, you might be right. I will bake an extra dozen just for her, but you have to deliver them for me. And, you have to make her a nice Christmas card with your construction paper and crayons. Deal?" 
"Yes ma'am! It's a deal, mama." I ran off to my room and started on her card. If this doesn't get me outta trouble with the big guy in the sky, nothin' will. How should I do it? Hmm, I know. Dear neighbor lady,happy Christmas to you from the Smith family. That's good! I used my best green and red crayons to write it out and drew a Christmas tree on the front with little dots as the ornaments. I fell asleep easily at bed time, even though it was Christmas Eve. I was excited and I had a warm fuzzy feelin' I hadn't experienced before. Is that what Christmas is all about? Givin' and not just gettin'? I bet it is. Somehow the present under the tree for me doesn't seem so important anymore. Mornin' came before I had barely fell asleep it seemed. I hurried up gettin' dressed and brushed my teeth and hair. I had a Christmas mornin' delivery to make. Mama wrapped up the cookies real pretty like and even put a bow on top. I took myself and the card and cookies and headed to the neighbors. I was a little nervous but not bad. I was, after all, deliverin' somethin' good. I knocked on the door expectin' the scowled faced ol' lady to growl at me, but she actually had a half smile on her face. 
"What you doing out on Christmas mornin', child?" 
"I brought ya a Christmas present and a card" Her half smile turned into a big ol' grin and she reached out for my offerin' and then thanked me at least three times. Wow, she actually smiled! I felt so good walkin' back home and I looked up to the sky, wonderin' if God was a watchin' me. I know he was, but I think I just needed that bit of reassurance. I walked through my front door with a renewed excitement 'cause I suddenly 'membered my present was waitin' on me. There under that big 'ol tree was a new bike. Not used and handed down from some other kid, but a brand spankin' new one! It even had a horn and a basket. I was gonna be the hottest kid in the projects, 'cause I know ain't no other kid got a bike this nice! I hugged mama and daddy and thanked them just as that ol' lady had not five minutes before. 


Kimberly Biller is a lot like Sissy, southern and sassy. She was born and raised in East Tennessee in 1970 into her own dysfunctional family. Sissy's stories is her way of bringing her past to life but in a more enjoyable way. You can find her books on her Amazon page. 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Blog Competition Winners

Thank you to everyone who entered my Guest Blog competition! The blogs I have chosen are written by those below and will appear on Mondays throughout January 2014.

January 6th - Karl Wiggins
January 13th - Ruth O'Neil
January 20th - Serena Ackroyd
January 27th - Xunaria J

Guest Blog - Father Christmas by author Francis Potts

When my daughter was a child, there used to be a Christmas party in Sancreed village hall for the children of the parish, with cakes and sweets and fizzy drinks. Besides things to rot the children’s teeth, there was also entertainment, and a visit from Father Christmas. One year the entertainment was a Punch and Judy show, and the year that I agreed to be Father Christmas, a female magician in fishnets and heels, called Yvonne Mystique, who made Chihuahuas disappear.

I’m not built like Father Christmas. He is traditionally pictured as rotund and bewhiskered, and while I did once manage to grow a patchy beard to go to a fancy dress party as Che Guevara, ‘rotund’ doesn’t figure anywhere on my CV. However, I am public spirited, and in the absence of any more rotund and bewhiskered volunteers (or any volunteers at all), I agreed to do it. The previous two Father Christmases had both been called Robin, too, but I saw that as less of an obstacle than the rotundity. Nor have I ever seen myself as an entertainer of children. Hey ho. Or maybe ho ho.

So, on the day of the party, I drove my daughter to the village hall, where she joined in with all the other children in the business of rotting her teeth, and at the appointed time, I slipped out to the kitchen and donned the padded red suit, and with the addition of an extra pillow and some strap on whiskers, I set about being Father Christmas for half an hour. Sancreed village hall has no fireplace, but there is the remains of a metal flue that presumably once had a pot bellied stove under it. If I hadn’t been wearing the padded suit and the extra pillow I still wouldn’t have stood a chance of getting down it, and I reckoned that it would even have been a bit of a squeeze for one of Yvonne Mystique’s Chihuahuas. Undeterred, I shouldered my sack of toys, snuck round the outside of the hall, and banged on the door. Not the traditional way for Father Christmas to enter, but it would have to do.

“Ho ho ho,” I boomed, nursing my knuckles, which were sore from where I’d overdone the banging on the door. “Merry blooming Christmas.” My research into the role had consisted of reading Raymond Briggs’s excellent book, Father Christmas. A biography of sorts, I suppose. Doing my best to sound like Brian Blessed, I explained my unorthodox method of entry by pointing at the flue. “Call that a blooming chimney! I had to park my sleigh up on Sancreed Beacon and walk. Merry blooming Christmas.” To their credit, none of the children actually cried, though some of the younger ones looked a bit worried. On the other hand, a lot of the parents appeared to find the whole thing rather amusing, as did Yvonne Mystique. Raymond Briggs is strangely silent on the subject of Father Christmas and yummy mummies (or female magicians in fishnets and heels) for some reason, so, without his expert guidance, I decided to busk it. “Ho ho ho! Lucky thing Rudolph could see where he was going in this fog. What would I have said to him if he were blind?” I paused and shook my head. “No eyed deer.” It got a laugh from some of the grownups, and the members of the committee who’d previously been so keen for me to volunteer looked at one another nervously.

I was on a roll. “You know, children,” I boomed. “The reindeer have a fancy dress party every year. They’re rubbish. Every year they turn up with a couple of hats on their antlers, pretending to be blooming hatracks. Rubbish. Last year Rudolph came with a woman sitting on his back. ‘Hello, Rudolph,’ I said. ‘You don’t look like a hatrack. What are you supposed to be?’ He said he was a tortoise. When I looked puzzled, he nodded towards the woman. ‘This is Michelle.’ Ho ho ho. Merry blooming Christmas.”
By this stage, my audience was looking like a hung parliament, with the mummies (and Yvonne Mystique) enjoying themselves, the children looking bemused, and the committee undecided as to whether they should frown or go with the mummies. I decided it was a good time to call it a day, and I got on with the business of distributing ‘blooming presents’ to the children. When it was my daughter’s turn, she peered through the fake whiskers, as if she weren’t sure it was really me.

Another ho ho ho or two, a farewell ‘Merry blooming Christmas’, and the show was over. I boomed my way out of the front door and crept in the back. I divested myself of the padded suit, straightened my pony tail, and strolled back into the room, where Yvonne Mystique was already running low on Chihuahuas.

The reviews were mixed, but by and large favourable. However, I have never been called upon to reprise the role. Merry blooming Christmas, though.

Francis lives near Land’s End, in a small granite cottage, with his wife, an assortment of cats, and a couple of rescue orchids. The cottage has a half acre garden, in which he grows weeds, brambles, and the occasional vegetable, and in which he likes to sit and drink Pimms on summer evenings. His low opinion of chocolate is well known, as is his fondness for wine, olives, and the company of women.

Fortunately for his bank balance, besides writing, he has two day jobs, as Keeper of Lost Knowledge for Butterfield Hex (writing software) and as a massage therapist (stroking people for money). Francis has written and co-written a number of books, view them all on his Amazon page.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

A Sissy Kind Of Christmas: Part 3 by author Kimberly Biller

Meet 11 year old Sissy Ann Smith. Born and raised in the southern United States, she is the main character in the southern humor novellas The Tree In The Front Yard and it's prequel One Street Over. She is a very southern sassy gal living in a dysfunctional family in the early 80's. Her hard life is not reflected in her personality or her desire for a fun loving existence. These little stories will give you an insight into how adventurous she can be. Sissy is going to take you along on her winter holiday fun and show you what she does to forget her crazy folks for a little while. This is a four part series, so be watching every Sunday leading up to Christmas for a different episode. 

I can be sneaky when I need to, but spyin' 'round in the folks' bedroom is a little tough; mama is usually home all day. But, I have to know if I'm gettin' that Wonder Woman doll for Christmas! She's my hero. I also want a pogo stick. I'm not sure which one I want the most, though. If I was lucky I'd get both, but mama and daddy don't have that kind of money to spend; that's what they tell me anyways. As soon as mama gets busy in the kitchen I'm gonna snoop around in their bedroom. 
"Hey mama. Need some help?" 
"Sissy, you know I don't need you underfoot in my kitchen. Now go on and play and be quiet." 
"Yes ma'am." 
Yes! No chores means I can sneak in their closet and peak around. I slowly back out of the kitchen and make my way down the short hall. I know they ain't dumb enough to hide it under their bed, but I can look anyway. I drop to my knees and crawl across the floor; quietly making my way to the other side of the bed. I lift up the blankets and NOTHIN'! Aaagh! I jump up and quickly scurry to the closet; surely it's in there. Man, my mama keeps a clean kitchen, but her closet looks like the garbage dump. How am I 'spose to find anything in this mess? I figure I'll start searchin' the bottom, at least I can work my way up. I just hope there is nothin' gross in there. I've heard stories 'bout parents havin' weird stuff hidden. Not sure what kind of weird stuff, but I don't want to see it. I filter through stacks of sheets and blankets, not findin' a thing that resembles a Christmas gift. If it's not in here then where? I get so lost in my own thoughts that I didn't hear mama come in the bedroom, but I heard her when she laid into me for snoopin' around. 
"Sissy Ann Smith! What, pray tell, are you doin'?"  
"Um...I I, nothin.'"
"Now child, don't tell me nothin'. You snoopin' for something in particular? Cause you know I don't like that." 
How was I 'spose to get outta this? That's when the idea hit me! 
"Mama! I thought I saw a mouse!" 
"Eek! No way!" 
Mama took off like a mad woman. I know where she was goin' too! She was goin' after the broom. Oh boy. Mama would be on a mission now. She would be searchin' for that 'mouse' that doesn't even exist. I'm a bad bad girl. 
"It's okay mama, let me have the broom and I will get him if he's in there. It might not be nothin', my eyes coulda been playin' tricks on me." 
Yep, God's gonna get me for this! I better say an extra prayer tonight. 

Kimberly Biller is a lot like Sissy, southern and sassy. She was born and raised in East Tennessee in 1970 into her own dysfunctional family. Sissy's stories is her way of bringing her past to life but in a more enjoyable way. You can find her books on Amazon.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Guest blog - ‘’Fan’’-tastic! by author Carol Hedges

Are you a bit of a flirt? Do you sometimes catch an attractive man’s eye, then deliberately look away. Give him a little knowing smile. It’s all innocent fun and part of the games we play with each other. The Victorians were no different. While researching my new book ‘Diamonds & Dust, A Victorian Murder Mystery’ I delved into the world of nineteenth century courtship. It was a fascinating journey.

Of course there were certain restrictions that do not apply today. Young ladies were not allowed to be alone with a gentleman unless they were properly engaged. You couldn’t even say ‘hello’ to the prospective love of your life until he had been formally introduced by a mutual friend. There were no mobile phones to send flirty messages, or indicate your availability. And most of your obvious charms were covered up in a crinoline, bonnet and button boots, or hidden under layers of corsets and uncomfortable underwear (the average weight of a Victorian lady’s underwear mid-century was 14 lbs).

But if you were a canny lass, you had one infallible way of indicating to that handsome beau that you fancied him rotten: you could use your fan.

Fans were an extension of the Victorian lady’s body and the language of the fan was an important part of the dating ritual. Once you had mastered its subtle messages, you could go an awful long way down the matrimonial path solo and unchaperoned. So here are some of the top flirty ‘’moves’’:  

Fast fan movement - I am independent
Slow fan movement - I am engaged
Fan resting on right cheek - Yes
Fan resting on left cheek - No
Drawing fan across forehead - We are being watched
Fanning face with fan held in right hand - Leave me alone
Swinging the fan - Will you see me home?

What I love about this is that it shows how women, in an age of male dominance, and rigid social formality, still found a way to subvert the rules. Of course, the effectiveness of the fan relied upon one very big unknown: that the gentleman in question also knew the language!  If he did not, the ensuing results could be pretty disastrous....

Diamonds & Dust tells the stories of three feisty young woman. Orphaned 18 year old Josephine King, rescued from a dreadful boarding school by her uncle Herbert King - and then re-orphaned once more when he is brutally murdered. Spoilt clever Isabella Thorpe, whose domineering Mama plans to marry her off to a totally unsuitable man and Lilith Marks, high-society prostitute and Herbert King’s mistress. Their various lives and adventures play out against the background of 1860’s London, with its gas-lit streets and dark dangerous alleyways.

Carol Hedges is the successful UK author of 11 books for teenagers and young adults and one ebook. Her novels have been shortlisted for various prizes and her YA novel Jigsaw was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal. Diamonds & Dust is her first adult novel and is published by Crooked Cat Books.
It is available on Amazon at: Diamonds and Dust
and to order in all good bookshops
Find Carol on Twitter: @carolJhedges
Read her blog:
Visit her Amazon author page: Amazon UK

Sunday, 8 December 2013

'A Sissy Kind of Christmas: Part Two' by Kimberly Biller

Meet 11 year old Sissy Ann Smith. Born And raised in the southern United States, she is the main character in the southern humor novellas The Tree In The Front Yard and its prequel One Street Over . She is a very southern sassy gal living in a dysfunctional family in the early 80's. Her hard life is not reflected in her personality or her desire for a fun loving existence. These little stories will give you an insight into how adventurous she can be. Sissy is going to take you along on her winter holiday fun and show you what she does to forget her crazy folks for a little while. This is a four part series, so be watching every Sunday leading up to Christmas for a different episode. 

I can't believe I woke up on my first day of winter break with snow coverin' the ground; and more was a comin' down like it ain't never gonna let up. I knew exactly what I was a doin' later; goin' sleddin'! I can't wait. I tiptoe through the house, 'cause mama is still sleepin' and I scrounge through the cabinets lookin' for some breakfast. I figure I'll need the energy if I'm gonna make it up that big 'ol hill. The cabinets are kinda bare 'cept for some cornflakes (not my favorite) but I will have to settle for that or nothin'. I scarf down my food and take off to layer up with clothes. I steal two pair of daddy's old socks for my makeshift gloves and put two pair on my feet. I know it's cold out there and I will be frozen like a pop-sickle soon enough; don't wanna be that way any sooner that I have to. The longer I can play in the snow the better! I slip quietly out the door and sneak 'round back to the wood shed; there is an 'ol garbage can lid I have saved for just this occasion. I drag myself and that big 'ol plastic lid up the steepest hill we got; huffin' and puffin' all the way. My belly is still full from breakfast and it's sloshin' 'round; might shoulda waited a bit, but oh well. I ain't one for bein' patient, mama always said so. I get to the top and catch my breath. I know the ride down will be way faster than the walk up, but that's ok, it will be worth it. With no fear I lay flat on my belly and take one last deep breath and push off. Next thing I know I'm flyin' down that hill at a hundred miles an hour, or it feels like it anyway. The cold air is slappin' me in the face, but I don't mind at all, 'cause I'm havin' the best time ever...

Kimberly Biller is a lot like Sissy, southern and sassy. She was born and raised in East Tennessee in 1970 into her own dysfunctional family. Sissy's stories are her way of bringing her past to life but in a more enjoyable way. You can find her books on amazon

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Free Days List (Add Yours In Comments) any free days coming up on your book? Add them in the comments section and let people know.

The World According To Izzie by Izzie Anderton 7th December only - lucky enough to share your house with teens? Need therapy? Try this...

Same Face Different Place: Beginnings  by Helen J Christmas 22-23 November - romantic thriller set in the criminal underworld of 70's London.

Nine Lives by Terry Tyler 20-25 November - a collection of contemporary short stories and an ideal introduction to Terry's writing.

The Witch's Storm by Neel Kay 21-25 November - a fabulous follow up to The Witch of Luna Hill. YA fantasy fiction for all.

I will retweet this list whenever there's new information added.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Fencing Master's Daughter by Giselle Marks

I really liked this regency romance book. It has style. With two strong likeable main characters and a interesting supporting cast there was mystery, love, action and a few cads making this novel a very enjoyable read. Regency romance would not be my first choice as a genre but this book has made me think again and I am glad I had the chance to read it.

Edward the Earl of Chalcombe is walking home when he is set upon by a group of undesirables. He is rescued by a man and a woman who see him home and raise his curiosity over their identity when they then disappear without any forwarding address. Determined to reward them and also seek out his beautiful female rescuer with the intention of marrying her, he sets about finding them. To his surprise they are linked by a villain who has done them both wrong in very different ways and together they fight for justice.

The characters in this book are just so easy to like and imagine. The author has really done her homework in regard to the period and the whole novel is as authentic as it gets without actually being written in that time period. If you haven't tried regency romance before then I happily recommend this book as your introduction. 

Follow Giselle Marks on Twitter: @GiselleMarks1

Monday, 2 December 2013

Guest Blog - HABS! by author Kev Heritage

Image courtesy of

Space Habitats. Artificial space constructs inhabited by humans…Habs!

Why am I talking about habs?

Because I honestly believe that unless we get over this old-fashioned idea of planet living, the earth and us humans will we forever be at the mercy of natural events such as weather storms, volcanism, earthquakes, climate change, asteroid impact, etc.

Sure, Earth is a pretty place. I kinda like it, of course I do – I live on the thing – but it doesn’t mean that we cannot create strictly monitored and controlled environments tailored to ourselves…

I’m a Sci-Fi author and one of the exciting parts of writing a story or novel set in a probable future is to look at present scientific ideas and guess how they may develop.

In my new novel, ‘Blue into the Rip’, set four-hundred and fifty years from now in the twenty-fifth century, we come across a vast artificial habitat created underground (under what is now the Amazon Desert!). It has a fusion sun within a self-contained ecosystem. It has fields and cities, lakes and towns and even a weather cycle. The Amazon is also reborn here as an independent mini-habitat – a hydroponic jungle in which our hero and the other space cadets live and sleep.

So Just What is a Space Habitat?

Any place where humans live day-to-day away from the confines of Earth is known as a ‘space habitat’. We have one at the moment: The International Spacestation (ISS).

Image: The International Space Station (ISS)

The ISS is the biggest object ever flown in space. And is the ninth habitable space station ever built. If you look at the correct part of the sky at night, it is easily observable. Indeed, it is the third brightest object in the sky.

Are humans living in it?


Is the spacestation self-contained? Can it sustain itself without any external help?

No. Food, fuel, oxygen filters and other essentials need to be delivered from Earth to keep the ISS going.

So…self-sustainability is important to this notion of space living?

Yes, it is what space living will be all about.

A viable space habitat must have self-sustaining systems similar to those found on Earth. It should have its own water and oxygen cycles, it should generate and grow its own food, have systems to create energy and gravity - and it should also be able to protect those systems against harmful solar and cosmic radiation.

Since this idea came about in the mid-70s, there have been many designs for space living. And all are pretty much viable, but one thing is similar to all designs…

They will have to be big. ENORMOUS.

Image: The asteroid ‘Eros’. A possible future human habitat? Courtesy of

Early habitats will come from simple practicality. At some point in the future, humans will start mining asteroids. They are a great source of water and raw materials.

Where will humans live while they are doing this? Inside the asteroid itself, of course.

Whatever a space habitat looks like – be it a rotating wheel, tube, hollowed out asteroid or even a spacecraft – they will all have the same needs…


Humans live on Earth. We are perfectly adapted to the tug of our own particular gravity well. Our bodies take this tug for granted. Our musculature and internal organs all developed under what we call 1G (one gravity, which is equal to the gravitational pull of the Earth on our bodies).

Even though humans are surprisingly adaptable to weightlessness, the long term effects are detrimental - the record for a long-duration mission is still held by Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov, who completed a 438-day tour of duty aboard the Mir space station in 1995. Our bodies lose muscle, bone density decreases and our hearts become weaker. Humans cannot live in weightlessness and survive indefinitely.

So how do we simulate gravity?

The answer is easy: rotation and centrifugal force.

If we place a large tube in space, say the size and length to allow humans to stand upright, and apply spin to it, centrifugal force will push on anyone on the inside outwards.

If we get the speed of the spin just right, it can simulate 1G.

See example.

Increase the size of this tube so that it has a diameter of thousands and thousands of miles, add land, seas and atmosphere, and you have an environment similar to that of Earth.

Space habitats do not have to be spinning tubes, they can be of varied design, but they must simulate gravity. Below is an artist’s impression of a looped habitat – a sort of ‘spinning wheel in space’ with humans living on the inner rim:

Image courtesy of

Water & Weather Systems

If you create a habitat large enough – either by super construction or by hollowing out an asteroid - all that is needed to create a water cycle is…um…water – lots of it.

As far as scientists can tell, the solar system is brimming with the stuff – in asteroids and comets and floating in space as ice. Bring enough water into your habitat and you can create lakes and seas. Add heat, add night and day, light and dark, and pretty soon, you will get rain, clouds and a water cycle. With this in place, the next step is vegetation and a breathable atmosphere.


The whole business of breathing in space is a problem. Unless you have a way to scrub the harmful C02 out of the air to replace it with breathable oxygen (or an external oxygen supply and filters), you will suffocate very quickly.

How do we breathe in our space habitat?

The answer is straightforward - the Earth has provided the answer.

In our proposed space habitat, we already have lands and seas. The next step is to introduce soil and controlled plant organisms.

Soil, at its very basic level, is rock particulates stuffed with microorganisms and water. If we are using comets and asteroids as a source for water, we can also use them to create soil. Add seed bacteria and plants, and it should be possible to kick-start the oxygen cycle – and with plants, we get food and sustainable animal life.

Energy & Heat

We have a vast rotating tube in space. We have gravity, land and sea, plants and oxygen but…

Where is our energy going to come from?

All our energy comes from the sun, be it directly from sunlight or from the burning of fossil fuels. All of it. Any space habitat in the solar system will probably use sunlight as a primary power source.

This energy (sunlight and radiation) can be collected using vast arrays of solar panels or can be reflected inside the hab to simulate day and night. The hab’s artificial light will simulate the seasons and help control the weather systems. It can produce all the energy needs for the population without any pollution.

It is also possible that, by the time we create these habitats, we may also have developed fusion energy – a clean form of energy production that mimics the sun itself. Research into this power source has been ongoing for decades and a major breakthrough is expected within the next fifty years. We could illuminate and heat a space habitat independent of natural sunlight using this process.

The good thing about both kinds of energy? They’re, free, clean and in constant supply. Yes, all energy will be green energy. Cool.

Cosmic & Solar Radiation

A typical solar flare from our sun (a regular occurrence) produces x-rays, gamma rays and streams of dangerous energetic particles. Cosmic rays also arrive continuously from deep space. These particles can tear through DNA molecules and may lead to cancers and other diseases. Nasty.

The upshot?

Space is a hostile place for us humans.

How are we protected on Earth?

The answer is…magnetism. The Earth’s molten iron core generates electric currents that extend far out into space. It shields us from 99.9 per cent of this harmful radiation.

Below is a rendition of the solar wind and the Earth’s magnetosphere. See how harmful solar radiation is deflected around the planet:

Like a force field?

Yes, exactly. Without it there would be no life on Earth. Just look at Mars. It has no global magnetic field. Particles from the sun have stripped away most of Mars’ atmosphere, resulting in very poor protection against radiation at the surface. The idea of populating Mars is straightforward, but like anywhere else in the solar system, humans would need to make their habitat underground to avoid this harmful radiation. And who wants to live underground?

Of course we can successfully survive under the surface, and I have given examples of this in my novel, but living in a space habitat, with ‘sun’, ‘sky’, plants, animals, lands and seas – in an environment that pretty much mimics life on Earth - is an infinitely more preferable human experience.

Okay, I get it but…this doesn’t sound very easy

No. It’s not. But it’s a lot easier than terraforming moons or planets. How long would it take to generate an atmosphere? How would they protect an entire planetoid from harmful radiation? Would that be even possible? No, I firmly believe space habitats are the only solution to the problems of space living.

And besides, it would be amazing!


For more information about space habitats and some cool images and articles, please check out my Pinterest ‘Space Habitats & Orbital Colonies’ board:

Or chat to me on Twitter @KevHeritage

To find out more information about my sci-fi novel, BLUE INTO THE RIP, a young adult, time-travel, climate-change adventure, please visit: 
Amazon Kindle: 
Smashwords (Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, iPad/iPhone, Palm, PDF etc.):

All text, images and image ownership information provided for this guest blog by Kev Heritage. 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A Sissy Kind of Christmas: Part One by author Kimberly Biller

Meet 11 year old Sissy Ann Smith. Born and raised in the southern United States, she is the main character in the southern humour novellas The Tree In The Front Yard and its prequel One Street Over. She is a very southern sassy gal living in a dysfunctional family in the early 80's. Her hard life is not reflected in her personality or her desire for a fun loving existence. These little stories will give you an insight into how adventurous she can be. Sissy is going to take you along on her winter holiday fun and show you what she does to forget her crazy folks for a little while. This is a four part series, so be watching every Sunday leading up to Christmas for a different episode. 

I love the holidays. I love the food and presents too. Mama and Daddy can't afford much, but I usually get to ask for three things and then they choose which one they are gonna get me. I don't believe in Santa anymore, but when the weekend after Thanksgiving comes the local fire department strolls into the housin' projects where I live and delivers treat bags to us poor kids. Santa sits up on that big 'ol red fire engine and hands out our goodies saying "Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas" and has that jolly ol' smile and laugh for all us kids. It's filled with fruit, nuts and some candy. We gladly stand out in the cold a waitin' our turn to get our brown paper bag that holds our treats. By the time all us make it back inside our noses are bright red and our hands are goin' numb on us, 'cause we don't have gloves. Sometimes when it's snowing, I swipe a pair of daddy's old socks and slip them on my hands like they was new gloves. I know then that the best days are soon a comin'; two weeks off from school and a new present from the folks. Sleepin' in is the best, it's like havin' days and days of Saturdays. By the time it's down to the last few days before our winter break starts, us kids are buzzin' 'round like bees with excitement. The teachers are as ready for the break as all us kids are. 

Kimberly Biller is a lot like Sissy, southern and sassy. She was born and raised in East Tennessee in 1970 into her own dysfunctional family. Sissy's stories are her way of bringing her past to life but in a more enjoyable way. You can find her books on Amazon