Monthly Archives: December 2012

Novel excerpt: The Jealousy Glass (Artifacts of Empire series), by Gwen Perkins

Today I’d like to introduce Gwen Perkins, author of the Artifacts of Empire series. The second book of the series, The Jealousy Glass, was released on November 28 and has been getting a number of 4 and 5 star reviews. Want to know what the fuss is about? Well, here’s a sneak peek:

Cover art for The Jealousy Glass, by Gwen Perkins. Art by Enggar Adirasa.

Cover art for The Jealousy Glass, by Gwen Perkins. Art by Enggar Adirasa.

Excerpt from Chapter 1, The Jealousy Glass

The white monster swooped down.

All that Asahel could see was a cloud of pale feathers as the Rukh lashed out at the cannon that had fired.  Screams throbbed around him as the Rukh lifted, golden talons now rusted with blood.  Broken bodies lay on the wood, ribs smashed by the weight of unearthly claws.  The men were too distant for Asahel to put faces to as he fell to the deck, heart pounding at the sound of the wings beating once more.

The Rukh dove again, its beak rending the ship’s prow.  The heavy timbers cracked like bones against the pressure.  A slow tearing sound cut through the haze of chaos settling over the ship as panic took hold.  Spice spilled out of the hold the beast had torn open.  Pungent scents of oil and cedar clouded the air as chests smashed against the bow, breaking apart into the water below.

Asahel crawled on his knees toward the heart of the battle, his eyes stinging red from the spices in the air.  The Rukh thrashed as another cannon fired its shot, black powder belching into the fading light.  Angry cries from the monster above filled his ears as it lurched down, plucking a sailor off the deck and squeezing its talons tightly around the man’s midsection.  Another series of screams began as the ship’s port side blazed into flames, but he kept moving toward starboard, trying to reach the first cannon that had been fired.

“Zuane!”  He called, hoping that the captain was near.  When that failed, Asahel shouted out for others.  “Felix!  Nicolas!”  His knee edged forward as he crawled, the coarse wool of his trousers suddenly damp.  He looked down to see the blood of the fallen pooling in the cracks of the boards.

He was near the side of the Serenissma.  Asahel stood, crouching each time the Rukh let out another shriek.  Black smoke surrounded him, choking his lungs as he turned.  The white beast had grown dim as the wall of fire leapt up, flames feeding on the ship’s planking.

“Soames—”

Asahel turned but did not see who could have called him.

“Where are you?”  He whispered, afraid to raise his voice.  He saw a pair of hands gripping the railing.  He reached out, his own strong fingers clutching them and pulling the man toward the deck.  He could feel Felix shudder as he came up over the rail, his thin body battered.  The older man began to cough almost immediately as Asahel helped him back to the deck.  They stared through the flames at the carnage.

The Serenissma wrenched sharply to the right.  The Rukh cawed as it rose, white wings blotting out what was left of the sun.  Water splashed across the wood, shooting up from the hold as the lower decks flooded.

“We’ve got to get out of here,” Asahel said.

“There’s no rafts.” Felix coughed and leaned back against the rail.  His eyes were bright with a fear the other man had never seen.

“Aye.”  The fire was close enough to warm them both.  Which will it be?  Asahel thought.  Burning or drowning?

“I can’t swim.”

“Sure, and now you tell me.”  Asahel steadied his expression for Felix’s sake, more nervous than he let on.  The Soames family had been merchants and traders for generations.  Unlike Felix, Asahel had been raised at water’s edge.

“I never expected it to come up.”  Felix grimaced.  “I know.  We’re on a boat.  Clearly, I was being an optimist.”

“Ship,” Asahel corrected gently, looking over his shoulder at the waves.

“Grave—if we don’t do something shortly.”  Felix inhaled, his body clenched as he turned his back on the flames.  The Serenissma was moving downwards rapidly.  The remaining sailors leapt from the deck, disappearing into the churning tides as they plummeted through the darkness.  He looked at Asahel, his mouth twisting into a crooked grin.  “No time like the present.”

Felix climbed back up on the railing, sweat trickling down his forehead, his skin mottled with bruise and shadow.  Asahel followed, his own ungainly body slower to take action.  The two men looked at one another a last time, then back at the burning ship.

With one breath, they jumped.

———————-

Gwen Perkins

Gwen Perkins

Gwen Perkins is a museum curator who holds a MA in Military History. She has written for a number of magazines, exhibitions and nonfiction publications. This interest in history fueled the creation of the world of her Artifacts of Empire series, inspired in part by people and events of the medieval and Renaissance periods.

Gwen is presently hard at work on a number of projects, including an illustrated dark fantasy novel with Wilson Fabián Saravia. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. As it happens, today is also her birthday so I’d like to take this occasion to wish her many happy returns of the day. :)

Thanks Gwen! The book looks fascinating and that excerpt really has me wanting more. If anyone would like to read on, they can find The Jealousy Glass at Amazon as an ebook.

Today is also my last post for 2012. I would like to wish everyone a very happy and safe holiday season, and I will be back blogging from January 7. Happy Christmas, everyone!

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The joys of being plagiarised

 

Plagiarism

Plagiarism (Photo credit: Kalexanderson)

 

Ah, the joy of it all. Discovering (before breakfast, even) that a story you have published online has been re-posted by someone else on another site, as their own work.

Yes, you guessed it, that happened to me. Today, actually. I was going to post about how last week I had a brilliant idea for my next novel (main story, subplot and hero and heroine conflicts all worked out) but this has stayed my hand, so to speak, as I’ve been running around doing what needs to be done – reporting it to the site, posting on Twitter to warn others, etc etc.

I found out through a vanity search. I’ve got Google alerts set up for all sorts of things – my name, my pen name, this story title, you name it. I got the idea from my husband, who does it too: apparently he’s both a professional soccer player in England and a techie in the movie industry who worked on the Lord of the Rings movies. But I digress. Through this vanity search I have found things like the video someone made in honour of my story, and the blog of the person who wants to make a movie out of it. I’ve also found some less than complimentary comments on it, but you have to take the bad with the good, don’t you?

The story in question is on another site under another name and, within a certain genre, is rather popular. As such, I’ve had this problem before – people have posted it on other sites under their own names. I think this is the third time it’s happened, but there could be more and I’ve just blocked it from my subconscious. After all, there’s not much that makes me feel sicker than knowing that someone out there in cyberspace is willing to steal my work.

As such, this blog is intended to be a warning. I know that I’ve talked about this risk before, especially when discussing posting your work online, but in reality everyone thinks that it’s not going to happen to them. Even when it’s happened before, there’s something in your mind that says that you’ve had your share of bad luck, and it’ll be someone else’s turn. (This sucks for the someone else, but when they’re nameless faceless people in cyberspace they seem a lot less human and therefore you feel less guilty about subjecting them to the risk.)

So take note. If you do publish original work online, make sure that you check up on it. Do a Google alert for the story title or a character name or something, and do a manual search occasionally as well. Because there are people out there who don’t have the same sort of scruples you and I have, and they’re willing to pass off your original work as their own. It’s not on, but unless we stay vigilant and report every instance we find, it will continue to happen.

 

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The day of the missing post

 

Hi all! I’m afraid that there’s no guest post or book review or anything today – not because I didn’t have any lined up, but because I’m not well and just can’t spend the required amount of time at the computer putting it all together without feeling ridiculously sick. So sorry about that but it does happen, sometimes. :(

While I’m here I’ll also say that next week will be my final posts for the year. I’ll take a break over Christmas and will start posting again on January 7.

Have a nice weekend, everyone! Cheers :)

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How far is too far?

No Sex Please

No Sex Please (Photo credit: Michael Jessen)

 

I write romance. Many, if not most, books have some kind of romance in their plotline, whether it be a small or large part. Overall, romance is probably one of the most overused types of plots in fiction.

The thing is, of course, that when you write romance, or at least romance between adults, then invariably sex comes into play in one form or another. And that’s where (excuse the pun) things can get sticky.

Nearly every author of romance asks themselves at one time or another, how far do I go? Do you leave it at “they closed the door behind them” or go into full, Fifty Shades of Grey detail? And this is something that a lot of people have worried about for a long time.

Me, I’ve had this conversation with myself a number of times. I have a novel up on another site, under another name, which has very strict rules about how explicit one can be, and the story I wrote had to be tempered to fit those guidelines. Some scenes never made it on there at all, as it was just too hard to tone them down enough. And to be honest, I surprised myself with how far I was willing to go with my writing. I dare say the cover of anonymity had an effect, as I didn’t have to worry about what people I knew would think when they read it, but still it was a bit of an eye-opener. The more I wrote (and the better I knew my characters), the more explicit the scenes.

With my current project, I had a few scenes that I really ummed and ahhed over. Should I include them or not? Were they too steamy? Did they fit the rest of the novel? And that was when I realised that I really had to sit down and make some decisions. What exactly was I writing? I’ve been telling people it’s chick-lit, romantic comedy, but some of the words coming from my fingers were more in the hard-core romance realm. Therefore, a line had to be drawn so I stayed consistent and kept to genre.

Eventually, I found a point I was comfortable with, which I felt kept to my stated genre yet didn’t compromise my writing at all. And what was that line? Anything I was comfortable with my dad reading, knowing I was the author, was acceptable. Anything more than that wasn’t. A simple rule, yet one that I am sure I will have no trouble keeping to.

With that in mind, my question to you all today is this: Have you ever had this conversation with yourself? If you have, how did you decide where to draw the line? And have you ever regretted that decision? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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Guest post: To Write or Research? by MCV Egan

Today I’m thrilled to introduce MCV Egan, author of The Bridge of Deaths, a love story and mystery centred around a plane crash off Danish shores just prior to World War II. She has very kindly agreed to do a guest post for me, and even offered her blog for me to post on as well! (You can find my post here if you are interested.) Anyway, you don’t want to read me rambling on, so without further ado, here she is!

MCV Egan

MCV Egan

To Write or Research?

Research in the 21st century is as easy as a quick Google search, watching a film or reading a book. Is it really that easy? I personally think it is not and that many of today’s writers suffer when their work is not backed up by the key component KNOWLEDGE.

As nonsensical as it may seem knowledge is the key component to writing a fabulous and concrete piece. Knowledge comes from experience and research. Is this too absurd, too obvious? Unless you have the educational background in what you write about and stick to just that ‘one subject’ it is not.

If you create a fantasy world to make it believable you need knowledge of how the key components of your landscape and atmosphere will affect the story line, the way the characters breathe, move, feel and exist.

If you write about a certain era you need the clothing, vernacular, and setting. Was that building there in 1890? Was that expression used?

Even in a story of the day, if you have a character of a certain age, how do they speak?

As wonderful and easy as the information superhighway is at providing facts and data right at our fingertips, it has also done so for our readers. The availability of information today has made it far more difficult for a writer; any bored reader can look up a thing or two. The very reader can besmirch your name by blogging about your lack of accuracy!

I personally like to use a wide variety of sources and some are on-line and some are old-fashioned magazines, newspaper microfilm, books, movies, documentaries and interviewing or observing people.

For my WIP I am hooked on Psychology Today. I had not touched a copy in years and I find that old copies are full of fantastic articles that have helped me enhance story line and have also provided some pretty cool and quirky ideas. I also people watch a certain age group; I do so in cyberspace as well as at Starbucks. I am not writing about 53 year old menopausal women fighting hot flashes. If menopause gets any worse I probably will soon!

I believe there are countless fantastic writers out there. In this era of blogging and the ease of communication I see it every day. The one key component that will make anyone standout in the fierce competition of the 21st Century wordsmith is knowledge. This goes to every aspect of a story; Characterization, setting, plot.

Get to know your characters in a level of familiarity that far supersedes what the reader will see. Understand what would make them tick even in areas that are not what you are writing about.

As a writer your awareness will guide the reader to experience the moment, the sound and the feel of it all.

When you have that feeling of eureka with the first draft be your own worst judge when you re-read and look up any fact that you could possibly question, as simple as would a 16 year old today, in the 1990s in the 1980s talk, dress or dance that way? Or as complicated as at what altitude does the thin air in a mountain make a climber hallucinate?

So what do you think? Was I that absurd and obvious?

 

———————

The Bridge of Deaths

The Bridge of Deaths, by MCV Egan

MCV Egan lives in south Florida in the United States and is fluent in four languages. From a young age she was determined to solve the mystery of her grandfather’s death, which resulted in The Bridge of Deaths, the culmination of nearly twenty years of research and analysis. If you like the way she thinks, please go and follow her blog and, even better, check out The Bridge of Deathswhich can be found at Amazon and a number of other booksellers. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I’ve done it!

Celebration champagne

Celebration champagne (Photo credit: Lisa Brewster)

 

Yes, folks, it’s celebration time. After WAY too long (I started this process over two years ago), I have finally finished the first draft of my novel.

*pops champagne*

It’s been a long and interesting process, and I’ve learned a lot along the way, both about storytelling and also about myself. From my decision to cut over 70,000 words back at the start of the year and restructure the whole thing, to the blogs I’ve been frequenting and the courses I’ve attended (a big hello to Lucy Clark, who has been extremely helpful), it’s been a journey of ups and downs, peaks and troughs, finally culminating in today, when the last scene was penned and the book finished.

It’s an odd feeling. I have written completed novels before, but this is the first one that I’ve felt confident enough to unleash on an unsuspecting public by way of publication. (Yes, I have other things online, under another name, but that’s something else entirely.) And I know that this is only the start – there are months of editing ahead of me. Heck, I haven’t even read the whole thing through from start to finish yet to make sure it makes sense! I have a bundle of notes that I will keep handy when I get to that point, just to make sure I’m going in the right direction when it comes to structure and the like, and I’m full of enthusiasm to get that process underway. I know, though, that I need to let it rest for a little while. Give myself a break. Because only when I’m looking at this story with fresh eyes will I be able to edit it properly.

As such, I’m taking December off writing entirely. I shall continue to blog, of course, and to read, but the novel is being put away until the Christmas and new year celebrations are over. Then, once I’ve had that break, I’ll bring out the red pen and really go through it – structurally first, then characterisation and the like, and finally line edits. I’ve chosen this order because line edits are so easy to do, and if I start with those I’ll get sidelined with those and never do the big stuff. Besides, why busy yourself with the minutiae when you know that it’s all likely to change anyway when you do the structural edits?

So there it is. I’m about to uncork the champagne to celebrate, and I’ve promised my fingers a manicure as a reward. After all, they’ve done the bulk of the work here. And then I’m putting this manuscript away until 2013, when I can hopefully attack it with fresh eyes.

Boy, am I exhausted. But really, really pleased with myself at the same time. This is a milestone and one I’m determined to mark. Cheers all!

 

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