New serial story begins!

Ha! The time to write has rushed upon me. I said I wanted to write something completely different. The result of feedback was fairly strongly in favor of SciFi Romance. Love in Space. Romance Among the Stars. Whatever.

I have no idea yet what it will be called. A Name Among the Stars? Dunno. When I publish, I may use a pen name. It’s fairly normal when changing genres for writers to do that. It would lose me some cross-over… so I’m still thinking.

Kissy-kissy… No, not really. This is a romance, but it’s in an adventure setting. You know I make my heroines suffer, so welcome to Zara, the lass I’m throwing into the deep end.

I started this last night after dinner, and wrote about another 3 hours today. I was really trying out the style and getting a feel for Zara, so that’s the sort of feedback I need. Can you see her? Do you feel that connection? For some reason I’m writing in the present tense again. It just felt appropriate.

This will be longer than Change of Regime, so I will try, as part of my writing development skills programme, to write a couple of chapters at a time. Again, all in development time.

Acknowledgment to Nick Foreman for the SciFi art.

Comments, feedback, opinions…all welcome.


I have had to remove the episodes I posted here to fall into line with Amazon’s policies on Kindle Unlimited books.

The full novel is available on Amazon:




When I post stories on my blog, they will remain for at least a month after completion.


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About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first book, 'Sleight of Hand' is available on Amazon at

29 responses to “New serial story begins!”

  1. wiggiemomsi says :

    Wow, what a great beginning to what looks like another winner story! I’m already hooked on it … so, when can we expect the next chapter, hmmm??

    • Mark Henwick says :


      I will *try* to do this every weekend, otherwise it will stretch away and lose momentum.

      I really want to set a page up for serials so they’re easy to navigate and then attract *lots* more readers. Of course, if they come and read it here, they’ll realise my name isn’t really Tamsin Leigh. Or maybe they’ll argue it is, and Mark Henwick is actually the invention. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. RoseMarie Putnam says :

    Very interesting. Nice twist, but I personally would have liked a little more backstory. Without a few “reasons why”, she just came off as a nervous nellie. I could not actually identify with the validity of her need to get away. Yes, she felt threatened, but why and by who? Was it real or just in her own mind? How did her grandfather die, and why was she so alone? These are questions that knowing the answers to, would have engaged me more. There was no world building here…I missed that.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      “Never release the backstory until your reader is demanding it” ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yes, we have no clues as to why she’s under threat, and these will emerge at drip-feed over the next couple of chapters.

      Similarly with the world building.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      I probably need to add that the grandfather & rest of the family was murdered, so readers can tell she’s definitely not a nervous nellie.

    • C Hoskins says :

      Yes my thoughts too.
      Didn’t ike the scare and nervous description, didn’t like the sneer to the other applicant. Feel story is a bit ‘block’ and doesn’t flow at the moment.

  3. Susan Emans says :

    I do read sci fi with a heart *snicker*. I thoroughly enjoyed the begining and look forward to next weekend’s installment.

  4. Vroni says :

    Liked it. Looking forward to See the World developed further down. Keep your Name on it. Personally i hate having to look for pennames.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thanks Vroni.

      As I say, I’m undecided about using a different name. The argument is whether SciFi Romance is close enough to my style of Urban Fantasy that I won’t damage my ‘brand’.

      I also have SciFi Space Opera stories eager to get onto the page. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Colleen says :

    I liked it enough to look for more!

  6. Shannon says :

    Very promising. I am looking forward with excitement to the finished work!

  7. Justin Savely says :

    Others have commented that she is a nervous Nellie, but I got right away that her family has been killed. I expect such subtly plots from you, so that may make a difference๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Lol. There are threads already in there just …. waiting … for the twist.

      However, I think Rose is right, I should explicitly say that the grandfather was murdered & also stress the same with the rest of the family.

      • Justin Savely says :

        I only ask that you don’t be too obvious about the plot early on, or what else will I look forward to? I have faith that the twist will be worth it๐Ÿ˜ƒ

  8. Jason says :

    Nice start Mark looking forward to the next part.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thanks Jason – next weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

      I will be taking the opportunity to build a little of the space-faring culture behind the story and showing a bit of the technology (‘world building’). Now that’s a ‘problem’ in serialisation: if I did that in a novel, you experience a few pages of info dump and then get right back to the juicy bits. In a serialisation, your whole weekly read is all info-dump and that is too much of an opportunity to quit following. So, there must be tension/action in every chapter (which is a very good writing method for novels!).

      • Michael Orton says :

        Oh too true!

        I need to know about the background. Perhaps not of the world she’s leaving, but a bit more about how FTL travel happens.

        You have got off to a good start, but how she gets off planet is a good moment to start your SciFi bit. Sky-hook or shuttle? If shuttle is it a lifting body to reach high atmosphere followed by rocket, or plain rocket, or something more exotic.

        Transporter beams are dull. Don’t beam me anywhere thank you Scotty!

        Incidentally, does maintaining a starship’s engines come with a free Scottish accent?

        Remember Kubrick’s law: in space no-one can hear The Blue Danube play during docking maneuvers.

        • Mark Henwick says :


          Zara’s going up by intra-system shuttle to a ship called the ‘Shohwa’, which she finds out is “New, barely five Terran years old. Latest inter-system freighter design out of the Xian Hegemony.”

          FTL involves a sort of trans-dimensional jink. The field around a ship that is required for this ‘jink’ is hugely affected by gravitational interaction, so the inter-system ships must lift themselves out of the gravitational well of the star, and away from any high-mass planets as well. The greater the external gravitational pull on the field, the larger the margin of error for the FTL trip. Also, the longer the trip, the larger margin of error. Navigational AI computes a 3D map of risk assessment based on the mass of the ship, the size of the star and the rotation of its planetary bodies (for both originating system and target system), and the distance of the ‘jink’ between the two. Even using powerful intra-system inertial engines, and travelling ‘up’, or ‘down’, out of the disc of the system (and thus away from gravitational interference), it takes time to reach a point with a reasonable risk index. A compromise is chosen. The ‘jink’ itself takes little time, but some ships don’t arrive. Some ships arrive, but smear themselves across a light year of space. Inter-system navigation is an intersection of high power computation, learned knowledge and intuition.

          All such technology and more will be revealed in info-trickles in the story, when they’re needed.

          Zara is going to spend some time explaining the planet she’s left, mainly in terms of why she’s running etc.

          However, the planet she’s going to, she will have to discover. Each planetary system has its own internet, the ‘InfoHub’, but trying to do the equivalent of a Google search on a planet from outside of that planet’s system provides you the bare minimum of verified information, and a lot of out-of-date unverified information. This is all dictated by the bandwidth restrictions on inter-system comms I have hinted at already.

          Alas, accents traceable to specific Terran areas no longer exist, except in highly isolated communities. There *may* be an engineering crew-member of the Shohwa who could trace ancestry back to Scotland, but he’ll be talking with a strong Xian accent. (Xian sounds like shee-ann in case you were wondering, and Shohwa means ‘gathering blossoms’) ๐Ÿ™‚

          In a *completely* different story, Bian dances to the Blue Danube at the Harvest Festival Ball in the Governor’s palace. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Michael Orton says :

            Thank you for the tip on pronunciation: I read it as “Ex-ee-an”.

  9. Kris says :

    Hi Mark,
    dunno if you already changed anything in the story or if it is still the same; I got that she is nervous because her family was killed, and might be a bit harsh towards the others because of that nervousness. Only thing I am not sure about is present tense, I need to get used to that.
    All in all, I’ve enjoyed it and look forward to,reading the next instalments.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thanks Kris.

      Not quite sure why I started in present tense. I guess it was a hangover from Change of Regime. It seems to be working okay.

      I will amend the first 2 chapters slightly (specify family murdered and the sneer is an attempt at bravado) and probably put out the first 4 chapters as the next release.

  10. Rocky Wells says :

    Dance Mistress. Hopefully something akin to “Sword Dancer” (Jennifer Roberson). I really enjoy your prose style in all of your stories, Mark. I’m going to be one of “those” fans and just say – write faster. heh

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Somewhere in the mists of history, I have actually read Jennifer Roberson’s Sword Dancer. Is Zara a mystical, unbeatable swordswoman? Not really. Does she expect to spend her time teaching her charge deportment, etiquette and dancing? Definitely not.

      But this is the Henwick-verse; nothing is as expected. Lol.

      S.M. Stirling used the coded phrase Dance Mistress deep in the ‘Dies The Fire’ series (well worth it btw), and of course it was also used in Game of Thrones – remember Syrio Forel, Arya’s ‘Dancing Master’ in King’s Landing? “The pointy end” … LOL.

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