Friday, February 28, 2014
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
The Majestic rose up out of the water in its Liverpool dock with all the glory of its name. Amelia held one hand to her hat and stared at its iron sides, its two dun-colored funnels and three tall masts. The ship was a strange thing to her, a mixture of old and new, progress with hints of the past. It had sails that could be unfurled in a pinch, but with its powerful new engines, the ship could cross the ocean in a week.
Seven days to a new world. It was an exact description of everything her life had become. It was every bit as daunting.
“What am I doing?” Amelia whispered, staring at the hopeful monstrosity in front of her. It was one thing to accept an offer for a new life. It was another thing entirely to go through with it.
She turned away from the ship, swallowing the nausea that had plagued her since she’d left her mother’s house. This time it wasn’t morning sickness. That was long past. At the moment, the baby was the least of her worries. Her stomach rolled over the idea that she was about to board a ship heading for a new life at the mercy of a stranger, a man, no less. The last time she had trusted her life and her future to a man had been a disaster.
She paced, purse clutched to her chest, scanning the busy dock in search of her American savior. Men, women, and children crowded the gangplanks, eager to start their journeys, excited and hopeful. Many of the third-class passengers carried bundles that indicated theirs was a one-way trip as much as hers was. Eric had left her there to go buy her ticket, but there was nothing stopping him from running off and leaving her stranded. Like her father. Like Nick. She was a fool to agree to this. She pivoted and marched away from the ship.
No, she stopped herself after a handful of steps, this was the best decision she could have made. She may have felt small and lonely standing by herself, waiting, heart and stomach fluttering, but she was as much a part of the intrepid adventurers seeking a new life in America as any of her fellow passengers. This was right.
“Well, we got a minor problem on our hands.”
The twang of Eric’s accent shocked Amelia from her worries. She spun to face him as he approached her with wide strides, scratching his head and looking as guilty as a schoolboy.
“A problem?” she asked, voice fluttering.
“Yeah. I went to buy you a ticket, but they’re plumb sold out.”
Amelia’s chest tightened and her tender stomach lurched. “Oh. Oh dear. Well I suppose….”
She lowered her eyes, heart aquiver. As quickly as it started, her chance for a new life was over. All that worrying for nothing.
She squared her shoulders to face her fate. “I … I thank you for your efforts on my behalf regardless, Mr. Quinlan.”
Eric’s brow crinkled into a curious frown. “Regardless?”
“I suppose I could find work here in Liverpool,” she explained. “Surely there must be a shop somewhere that would look the other way from….” She lowered her hand to the mound of her stomach.
Eric’s lips twitched. The morning sunlight caught in his eyes. “I didn’t want to have to put you in third-class, so I told them you were my wife.”
Amelia blinked. “You what?”
“I told them we’re newlyweds. I reserved my stateroom in first class last year when I came over. Good thing I paid for it then too, ‘cuz after this fiasco of a trip I’ll never ride first-class again. Anyhow, when they said they didn’t have any more rooms, I told them you were my wife and that we would be staying in the same stateroom. They sold me a ticket for that.” He handed her a fresh, clean ticket with her name written as ‘Mrs. Amelia Quinlan’. “Sorry.”
Amelia held perfectly still on the outside, but on the inside her heart pounded and her stomach rolled with guilt for questioning him. He wasn’t abandoning her. He had gone out of his way to help her. Her heart squeezed as it never had before. She took the ticket from him with a trembling hand, hardly noticing when her fingers brushed his. She was rescued after all.
“Thank you, Mr. Quinlan. You have no idea how much this kindness means to me.” She had to concentrate on breathing, standing straight, and looking up into his handsome eyes with a smile to keep her tears at bay.
“You don’t mind sharing then?” he asked her.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Western Historical Romance
Rating – R
Sunday, February 23, 2014
If you are a writer, one of the first things you will discover is that it is easy to find people willing to tell you your writing is awesome. You pass your work out to friends and family and all you receive back are glowing reviews and pats on the back. Now tell me, how helpful is that really? If everything is great, how can you improve? The hard truth is although nice things are great to hear, they don’t help you in the long run.
What you need is someone who can be open and honest with you about both the good and the bad in your work. You need a critique buddy. You can find a buddy almost anywhere. You can enlist someone you already know, perhaps a friend you feel you work well with. Or you can find a fellow writer in a writer’s group. Both options work as long as the person has a few important attributes. They must be honest, constructive, and unattached.
For a person, whether a friend or someone you’ve met at a writers group, to make a good critique buddy they have to be willing to dish out bad news. Ask yourself this: Would they let you walk out of the house looking like a hot mess because they are too nice to say anything, or would they tell you that you can’t pull off that outfit and need to change? I relate it to appearance because it is something just a personal to us as our writing. It’s hard to tell people you don’t like something they’ve done because it is a sensitive subject.
But you need to go beyond finding someone who will be honest. You need someone who is also constructive. If they tell you that your outfit is terrible, do they give you suggestions on a better option or leave you hanging not knowing which direction to go in. A good critique buddy will not only tell you when they don’t like something but will point out specifics and offer a different suggestion. For example instead of saying “I don’t like the main character,” a good buddy would say “I don’t like the way the main character talks down to her best friend. Why would they be friends if they didn’t get along? Maybe you can change some of the dialog.” Do you see the difference?
The last trait I think a good critique buddy needs is one most people don’t think of: they need to be unattached. I don’t mean they shouldn’t care. What I do mean is that they should realize this project is not theirs and be okay with that. No matter how much input they give you, in the end it is up to you as to what you incorporate or change. If you think the person might be offended when you don’t take their suggestions or be upset that the project didn’t turn out the way they envisioned it, that person might not be the best critique buddy.
It is a delicate balance to find just the right person to help you through your writing process. But the right critique buddy can really elevate your work in a way you couldn’t have on your own. So choose wisely!
Friday, February 21, 2014
I grew up almost living in the local library. Reading was my escape and the library was my portal. I loved boy’s adventure stories and have been amazed at the reports that say boys don’t read. Some articles have said that they do read, but not many novels. They like magazines, comic books, and some nonfiction, especially if it’s gross or violent. But why not novels? Everybody loves a good story. Maybe the type of story is the reason for so many reluctant readers. We do know boys gravitate toward some books. The Wimpy Kid series, Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson are favorites. There are others, but the numbers are limited, especially for teens and young adult boys.
Today, most books for older kids are girl oriented, a complete reversal of what publishing was like when I was a young reader. Then, most writers were male, and agents and editors were male. There were girl books, but books for boys prevailed. I believe that the change to having women editors in the publishing industry is good. Girls now have tons of books to read about strong girl characters written for them by women, and that’s a shift in the right direction. The problem is that boys now have less books that are specifically for them, and there are fewer male writers. The boys also have fewer adult males as role models for reading. Single moms are raising many of our boys, and the traditional female jobs of teachers and librarians are still mostly women.
However, to me, the main problem is story. There aren’t enough fiction stories in the marketplace that appeal to boys. The publishers seemed to think that a boy book is one that deals with bodily functions, and so we get “fart” books. And while some of those are well written and funny, I think we underestimate boys. As the Harry Potter books demonstrated, boys will read great stories. But many of the popular boy books are paranormal. What about realistic fiction like I read as a kid? There are some adventure books similar to that, but there needs to be more.
So I decided to write the kind of stories I remembered. The result is The Shakertown Adventure Series. More edgy than what I read, maybe The Hardy Boys on steroids. They’re probably PG with some mild cursing and violence. Nothing too terrible, but there are guns and dead bodies. But the whole purpose was to offer boys books with nonstop action and, what I hope, is the authentic interaction between boys. While there is teenage angst, it is limited to one of the boys and is based on something that happened in his past. The stories don’t dwell on the boys feelings, and many of the descriptions are minimal. The book is mostly about the story.
My model for the books was my favorite series as a boy, the Rick Brant Science Adventure Books. The first book was written right after World War II and continued until the late sixties. The stories were exciting with great villains, but the key was the interplay between the two boys. I remember laughing at their antics and running to one of my parents to tell them about it. I loved the way they kidded each other, and yet, when they were in trouble (in every book, of course), they worked together, each using their skills to defeat the bad guys. Male bonding at it’s best.
I still have the books and still enjoy reading them, but now I see the sexism and racism that was prevalent at the time they were written. Something my stories won’t have, although they will deal with the situation of women and African Americans in 1923.
I hope all parents will encourage their children to read—both girls and boys, but especially boys who are reluctant readers. Start them with whatever they will read, comic books, “fart” books or magazines. Then, ease them into novels. Don’t forget the classics, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, and The Count of Monte Cristo. Many of these are free as ebooks. And please have them check out my books. I’d love to know what they think.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
As a big fan of the show Fringe, this book appealed to me tremendously. The writing was well done, and the way the "supernatural" forces were introduced was great.A good, clean read for any age.It was an excellent story that I'm sure both adult and teen urban fantasy fans will enjoy. You don't have to be a gamer or know one to identify with the characters. They're very well developed and definitely feel like people. I would definitely recommend it to a friend and I'm really looking forward to the second book....the novel is written in such a languid style, it moves on effortlessly and absorbs the reader into the story completely. Although the story itself revolves around the online gaming industry, one does not have to have an in depth knowledge as it is ably explained and discussed within the plot line.
OMGosh! I just finished reading "Doubt" INCREDIBLE! I couldn't put it down.
Back in the old days when I started to write, there were no computers (at least no workable ones for writers). There was no social media, there was no Amazon, no eBooks, no Create Space. The books I enjoyed you could actually hold in your hand, turn the pages, and when you were done you could find the proper place on your book shelf. By author. In alphabetical order. By genre. Whatever. It was always there, my growing collection. My personal treasure chest. I hate Kindle.
Selecting books from a book store, never on-line, was a pleasure. I rarely went in knowing exactly what I wanted to buy. I wasn’t a trend setter, and I didn’t just shop for whatever happened to be on the New York Times best seller list at the moment. Oprah didn’t exist back in the day either, at least not the book-marketing guru we now know. Part of the thrill of going to the book store was the hunt, finding that hidden gem. If I enjoyed a particular author, I might check her out first. Otherwise, I got out my detective gear and began the hunt. (There were no cafes in book stores in those days either, so even if I entered hungry, I always came away fulfilled with the book of my choice.)
Titles can matter. A title might draw me to select a book, particularly among the novels whose spines were all I could see crammed into a tight shelf. But the cover art was also important. It didn’t make or break a sale, but quality cover art did draw my attention. At the very least the cover art made me pick up the book and read the novel details or blurbs.
When you first enter a book store, there are always displays right up front, usually from the major publishing houses who purchase the right to have the finest display. Their covers stare you right in the face. When my debut novel HUNTING THE KING was published in 2008, I could just imagine customers entering the book store and being startled by the gaunt face of Jesus the king outlined by a constellation of stars in the pattern of a Star of David. I figured who could pass that by without picking it up for a browse? (The issue of which books get placed where in a book store is the matter for another blog)
These days if you self-publish, you can help design the cover of your book as I did with my iUniverse novel THE HUNTED. Overall, the product was well done with one minor complaint. Certain on-line photographs aren’t copyrighted and so are available for selection in the design of your cover. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, you make do with second best. With DEVOLUTION, my latest novel, the publisher, Imajin Books, made the design with my input. The cover shows the face of a creature, half girl, half chimpanzee a reflection of the drama about a girl who can communicate with chimpanzees using sign language.
In my office taped to the wall behind my desk is a big poster of my cover. It captures the attention of everyone who comes in, stirs conversation, and often leads to a sale. That alone validates a well-done cover enhanced by reviews from well-known authors. Besides that, whenever I feel alone and needing a little self-love, I can pick up my novel and gaze at the stunning cover art and feel just a modicum of pride in my accomplishment. Clicking on my lap top or i-thing-a-majig and seeing the cover on a mechanized screen just doesn’t have the same effect.
Vampires through the ages
When asked to name the first vampire novel, many people immediately cite Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897.) The first known vampire novel, however, was The Vampyre, written by John Polidori in 1819.
Early vampires were creatures straight out of nightmares—pale and gaunt with sharp fingernails and long incisors. They could adopt more human appearances when they chose, but their essence remained unchanged. They were monsters, remorseless predators of the humans they had once been.
Nobody wanted to be a vampire.
And then, Anne Rice came along.
Others before her may have painted vampires in more sympathetic terms, but Anne Rice created empathy for vampires where none had existed before. Lestat de Lioncourt wasn’t just gorgeous, his hair the color of the sunlight he was denied, but he was the sun—eternally dazzling and brilliant—in the lives of those around him. One could certainly make the point that he was as destructive as the sun as well.
His fledgling, dark-haired, green-eyed Louis de Pointe du Lac, was as beautiful and subtle as moonlight, and as soulful and melancholic as a Shakespeare tragedy. The love that drew Louis and Lestat together, and the hate that drove them apart, formed the core of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles.
Anne Rice humanized vampires and endowed them with both strengths and foibles. More importantly, she romanticized them. Vampires still preyed on humans, but it was hard to feel sorry for the humans when death appeared to be more seduction than murder, and Louis wept over every kill.
A paradigm shift had taken place. It was suddenly okay to feel sorry for vampires. More importantly, it was okay to want to be one.
Vampires would evolve at least once more in fiction. After Anne Rice, vampires continued to morph ever closer to the humans who were once their prey. By the time Stephenie Meyer got to her version of vampires in the popular Twilight series, the vampires were no longer susceptible to sunlight and no longer drank human blood. In other words, vampires were no longer the bad guys. More importantly, it was a given that a vampire boyfriend was a far bigger catch (and ironically a better mate—eternal consequences notwithstanding) than a human boyfriend.
What’s the next evolution for vampires? Vampirism is already here. In my Double Helix series, the alpha empath, Danyael Sabre, was a victim of a live blood transfusion, wherein the circulatory systems of two people were joined. The brain activity in the young person decreased whereas the brain activity in the older person increased. It’s not entirely science fiction. The premise is based on a 2011 study conducted in Stanford University on mice.
I took a different tactic in my fantasy novel, Eternal Night. Yes, there are vampires, but the story isn’t really about vampires. It is instead about the icrathari, the vampires’ demonic overlord. In Eternal Night, humans are trapped in Aeternae Noctis, the domed city of eternal night, and preyed upon by the vampires and the icrathari.
But what if the situation isn’t what it appears to be? Jaden’s only goal is to protect his younger sister, Khiarra, from being taken by the vampires, but his chance encounter with Ashra, the icrathari queen, challenges him to step beyond his trained fear of vampires to uncover the truth behind the city of eternal night.
I hope you enjoy this new perspective of vampires and the night terrors in Eternal Night.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jade Kerrion developed a loyal reader base with her fan fiction series based on the MMORPG Guild Wars. She was accused of keeping her readers up at night, distracting them from work, housework, homework, and (far worse), from actually playing Guild Wars. And then she wondered why just screw up the time management skills of gamers? Why not aspire to screw everyone else up too?
So here she is, writing books that aspire to keep you from doing anything else useful with your time.
Her debut novel, Perfection Unleashed, spawned the Double Helix series which has won a total of seven science fiction awards, including first place in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2012 and the gold medal in Readers Favorites Awards 2013. She is also the author of Earth-Sim and When the Silence Ends, which placed first and second respectively in the 2013 Royal Palm Literary Awards, Young Adults category.
She lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with her wonderfully supportive husband and her two young sons, Saint and Angel, (no, those aren’t their real names, but they are like saints and angels, except when they’re not.)
Alone for a millennium, since a human murdered her beloved consort, Ashra, the immortal icrathari queen, rules over Aeternae Noctis, the domed city of eternal night. Her loneliness appears to be at an end when her consort’s soul is reborn in a human, Jaden Hunter, but their reunion will not be easy.
Icrathari are born, not made. If Ashra infuses Jaden with her immortal blood, he will be a vampire, a lesser creature of the night, a blood-drinker rather than a soul-drinker.
Furthermore, Jaden is sworn to protect his half-sister, five-year-old Khiarra. She is the child of prophecy, destined to end the eternal night and the dominion of the Night Terrors—the icrathari and the vampires.
As Ashra struggles to sustain her crumbling kingdom in the face of enemies without and treachery within, Jaden fights to defend his sister and unravel a greater mystery: what is the city of eternal night, and how did it come to be?
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Fantasy, Paranormal
Rating – PG-13
Monday, February 17, 2014
Sunday, February 16, 2014
- Coincidentally with when I finally started to understand about nuclear energy, I also focussed on the fact that visionary people typically “loved” my first novel, Beyond Neanderthal and practical people typically could take it or leave it. The Last Finesse was conceived as a story about nuclear energy. It was aimed at and crafted to appeal to this latter group.
- The more nuclear-related information my research unearthed, the more “up close and personal” I got to see the lack of ethical behaviour that pervades society – in the media, in politics, in banking and in the energy industry, amongst others. I decided to craft the storyline to address this particular issue also. In this way, like Beyond Neanderthal, The Last Finesse’s storyline evolved along with my research.
- Luke Sinclair has a personality profile that is a mixture of characteristics that I or one or other of my friends had when we were his age, or that I admired, but I also added one or two less attractive characteristics that make him an imperfect – and believable – human. I decided not to use my own imperfections because that would have gotten me into trouble at home. I am not a playboy womaniser, and neither were any of my friends – so I was “safe”.
- Katarina Marchetti was modelled on an ex girlfriend of mine from my distant youth. Although she had very attractive Slavic features, she looked nothing like Katie, who was more “sultry Italian”. My ex girlfriend was brilliant, spoke 7 languages, and, like Katie, was both mischievous and adventurous. Also, like Katie, she was the daughter of a mega-wealthy man and the way he treated her was much the same “my way or the highway” way that Katarina’s father treated her. Katie also had the same over-the-top bravado that masked a sense of vulnerability. Few people would have noticed this, but it was the vulnerability that I found attractive; that, and the fact that she had a front-foot sense of fun about her.
- “There have been no deaths directly attributed to radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster” (Wikipedia). Notwithstanding, the media is still full of hysterical fear mongering about “possibilities”. The earthquake and the resulting tsunami that together destroyed or partially destroyed over 375,000 buildings and caused over 15,000 deaths have been long forgotten by those outsiders still screaming about nuclear fallout. The Last Finesse takes a high level look at this remarkable propensity of the media and others to selectively process information. Did you know that the earthquake was the fifth most powerful earthquake in the world (9.0 on the Richter scale) since modern record-keeping began in 1900?
- The name The Last Finesse arose from my personal preference to solve problems collaboratively. Solution by confrontation is less constructive and less durable than finessing a solution that is acceptable to all interested parties. In my view, nuclear can never be “forced” on those who live in democratic countries and who are predisposed to apply prejudicial thinking to the subject. This last sentence contains an irony, because that is not how the book itself is presented. You will need to read the book to understand the irony.
- In order to write the scene at The Rocks in Sydney, I spent many hours casing the joint and taking notes. The dishes that Katie and Luke ordered from room service were on the actual menu of an actual hotel.
- The navy and maritime related information was derived from several conversations with a very helpful Lt. Philip Beaver, kindly facilitated by Rear Admiral Peter Sinclair (retired), with whom I subsequently played golf a couple of times. Luke’s surname was by way of a respectful hat-doffing thank-you to Peter. If you want to write a believable novel, in my view, you may as well ensure that you don’t talk nonsense about subjects that you don’t know squat about.
- The Last Finesse was edited twice – once by my editor and once again by me. I was uncomfortable with her preference to turn Luke into a vegan, even though we had agreed to this in discussions because she had sound reasons to do so, given the storyline. But I was happy to leave Katy as a vegan and for Luke to respect that.
- The ultimate reason that I wrote The Last Finesse was that I am convinced the Global Financial Crisis was caused by declining net annual energy output per capita, across the entire planet, since the 1980s. There is a concept called “Energy Return on Energy Invested” (EROEI) that has not yet caught the mainstream media’s attention. If we do not address this challenge of a globally falling weighted average EROEI – and soon – the world economy will remain languishing because net energy output will in all probability continue to fall. Frankly, in terms of recent research, if we haven’t started to reverse the trend within ten to fifteen years, the global economy may continue to spiral downward and may never recover because net energy output can be expected to fall precipitously once critical EROEI evels have been passed. Fracked gas will only help us keep a holding pattern. Solar and wind have both EROEI and continuity challenges. Nuclear has the highest EROEI of all energy paradigms and, relative to coal, it is far less threatening to the environment. Beyond Neanderthal and The Last Finesse are my humble attempts to address the 7 core issues threatening humanity (in particular, this declining net energy output per capita) via the media of their entertaining storylines.