This is what I find encouraging about the writing trades: They allow mediocre people who are patient and industrious to revise their stupidity, to edit themselves into something like intelligence. They also allow lunatics to seem saner than sane.”
~ KURT VONNEGUT, JR.
People who have followed the last few issues (and if you have, my gratitude for your return knows no bounds!) know that I have been experiencing a bit of an identity crisis. To put it in the briefest terms possible, I find that I’m no longer a writer. Oh, not that I ever was in the strictest sense of the word, but my interest as a hobbyist in creating and describing worlds on the page has waned to virtual nonexistence. So now I find myself with this visually beautiful website, nothing in particular to do with it, and a score or so of wonderful friends who don’t deserve to be unceremoniously abandoned. And yet, having lost all interest in writing, which is what this blog is purported to be about, how can I remain relevant? I guess that’s the real question.
I’ve tried this and that over the past weeks, and you’ve seen me say “from now on, I’m gonna do this, or that,” and then it doesn’t pan out. So I’m not going to say “from now on” any more. I’m going to say “here’s the latest thing I’m trying, and we’ll see if it works.”
I’ve always stated with pride that I write in an older style of prose that would be more familiar to readers of the 1930s than the 2010s. Now I’m going to go to an older style of publication. Joining such pioneering names as Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I am going to serialize my work right here in my own little weekly newspaper.
I currently have four novels that have never been published. One is the first one I wrote before I actually put any effort into learning what went into the construction of a novel. One is the first part of a trilogy that I undertook with a co-author who then tired of the project and abandoned it. Not being able to continue in the same unique voice myself, I abandoned it as well. For two very different reasons, neither of those will ever see the light of day. However, the two remaining have some merit, and they will be serialized here and presented under the tabs above.
Currently being serialized is Chameleon, the story of Colleen O’Reilly, a soldier of Sinn Fein, the IRA, who has grown a conscience and left her old mates behind. Wanted throughout Europe for crimes already committed and by those former mates for leaving the cause, she has fled to the new world and makes her way using the only skills she possesses in abundance as a paladin for the downtrodden, the last hope of the hopeless. This was meant to be a series, and I was well into the second book when the peace accords cut the underlying tension away from the narrative, and I moved on. Nonetheless, the first one told a gripping story of desperation and heroics, and it is currently being serialized under its tab above; Chapter Six of fourteen was just added yesterday.
Once Chameleon wraps up and is available for the ages, I will begin the serialization of Broken English, a murder mystery set in Monterey, California with overtones brought about by the collapse of the old Soviet Union. Assuming that I have recovered my interest in any form of writing by then, I have a couple of stories that are well-along in their development, my San Diego steampunk opus Stingaree, and an epic fantasy spanning two continents and the ocean between, The Orphan Princess. The truth is that, if I do return to writing, my intuition tells me that I’m pretty much over the punk genres, steam- and otherwise. In any case, continuing either of those stories would require me to get my “mojo” back. Should that happen, the world of The Orphan Princess is large enough to contain a multitude of stories. And one more thing: If I am ever honored enough to be invited to participate in another anthology, I will summon my best effort to produce something memorable; in fact, that may very well be the extent of my original writing going forward. Time will tell.
Of course, I don’t need to be a writer to support my writing friends and acquaintances, nor to promote exceptional writing whenever I find it. Just know that I favor the independent authors almost to exclusion. They’re the ones who are out past the edge of the map, breaking new ground and establishing the paradigms that the Big Five will be claiming they invented ten years down the road. Don’t give up on indies because you got one bad book; someday when a major house is crowing about their latest discovery, you’ll have the pleasure (and the outrage!) of being able to say, “I read a guy who was doing that over a decade ago!”
Interesting Books . . .
I should clarify what I mean by “interesting.” Most books featured here I have not read. I either know the author and his or her work, I have read something else by the author and appreciate their quality, or something about the cover, blurb, or both has caught my eye, and I very possibly will read them in the future. Got it? Okay, let’s take a look.
The Fallen by Ravek Hunter. Drystan, Temple Knight of Lyonesse, is sent to retrieve the betrothed of his uncle, the Duke of Tintagel. This simple journey sets into motion a chain of events that upends the lives of three unsuspecting innocents and everyone they care about. Betrayal, intrigue, jealousy, murder . . . And love will drive the human condition to its most extreme. Who will survive the emotional struggle and find true love in the end? Or will love be lost forever? There are strange and dark forces working against the struggle in a very unsuspected way. A healer with a remote background and a dark secret, a soldier with a penchant for debauchery and the moral high ground, and two mysterious brothers from the mystical island of Hy Brasil all have a stake in the outcome. And the stakes are higher than any of them could imagine. Free on Kindle (reg. $4.99).
Murder at Kangeroo Downs by June Whyte. Book 1 in the Vets2U cozy mysteries. If you enjoyed watching Rosemary and Thyme – the TV show where two gardeners dig up a dead body in every episode – you’ll love reading about Emily and Maggie, two quirky veterinarians, who travel around Australia treating animals and stumbling over unwelcome corpses. When Emily and Maggie arrive at Kangaroo Downs to officiate at the opening of its new race-track, they expect to find the usual friendly ambiance characteristic of all small country towns – not the Chief Steward, their very first client, seated behind an ‘engaged’ sign in the local Diner’s restroom – deader than last week’s news. Not everyone is happy about the new race-track in Kangaroo Downs. Unexplained accidents have been happening at the track. Like workmen falling off sabotaged ladders, the starting gates malfunctioning, an administrator getting electrocuted as he tested the two-way radio in the stewards’ room, broken glass found scattered on the track and the caretaker’s tractor up and disappearing overnight. With a deranged murderer on the loose, all Emily and Maggie want to do is complete their assignment and hit the road again. That is, until Emily discovers her car stripped of its wheels and CANCELLED written in red paint on the windshield. Angrier than a couple of bees stuck in a vegemite jar, both Emily and Maggie are determined to unearth the identity of the saboteur. But are the saboteur and the killer the same person? What happens when they find another dead body inside the starting-gates at the track? Will Emily and Maggie find answers to these questions before the first race on Opening Day? Or will the two reluctant sleuths be the next casualties on the killer’s Cancelled list? 99¢ on Kindle.
Songs from Richmond Avenue by Michael Reed. If the adage “nothing civilized ever resulted from the drinking of beer” requires further proof, one needs look no farther than down Houston’s pothole-infested Richmond Avenue. There, the blurry-eyed denizens of the Relix Club wile away the hours engaged in their two favorite activities – drinking and betting. Until recently that was good enough for our storyteller, a journalist of questionable work ethic, who undergoes an epiphany following a bus stop meeting with pretty Michelle, a woman he declares has “skin so perfect I doubted she even had pores.” Could she be his redemption? Maybe, but first he’d better contend with her baseball bat-wielding former beau, her nihilistic stripper roommate and the suspicious death of a friend, who fancies himself the father of Brute Generation poetry. Mostly satire, often wildly unpredictable, the only real long shot in Songs From Richmond Avenue would be for its protagonist to put down his beer long enough to learn anything of true value. $2.99 on Kindle.
Dark Gods: Take the Body by Arthur King. Seth, a young soldier is sold into slavery by a corrupt city watch. In order to escape he is forced into a pact with an ancient wolf-like demon, an old god of his people’s past. Through its ‘gifts’ he gains the skills, memories and knowledge of those he kills, but at a high price. Now the Dark Guild, the creature’s old masters, seek to find him and kill him. They must regain his stolen memories and end this threat to their secrecy. The powerful guild has members in the nobles and rulers of the land, and paid blades at every corner. Seth must fight through them all, as he struggles with his new found powers and against the blood lust that his dark alliance brings. Free on Kindle (reg. $2.99)
Hope in Paris by Donnalyn Vojta. This is NOT a children’s book. In this first volume of the extraordinarily unique suspense series (for ages 16+), unexpected, sweet narrators tell quite a suspenseful and cringe-worthy story. On top of plot-twists, this book offers a mind-bending twist on narration! The story is about a young educated Chicago woman, Kelly Donovan, who must escape from her luxurious home to get away from her sociopath boyfriend, Mark Flannery, before he takes her to a woodsy cabin for a little “anniversary get-way.” She must plot, lie, and pretend to be happy before she can flee her relationship and her own home, alive. Unforeseen obstacles frustrate Kelly’s efforts to escape, and her family and friends, strangers to one other, must perfectly work together to help her live a life free from threat. The diverse group includes an insecure drama teacher, a brilliant pharmaceutical engineer, and an international businesswoman with a secret that comes in very handy at one critical point. This story is uniquely narrated by inanimate household teddy bears, which, notwithstanding their immobility, have interesting thoughts and perspectives on the shocking events and intriguing relationships which form before their plastic eyes. These plush bears also get a healthy dose of an entertaining blooming romance when Kelly’s plight takes everyone overseas to Paris. While in France, more scheming, racing to stay steps ahead of Mark, and even physical violence ensue – violence which does not always involve a damsel in distress. To complicate matters further, some of the characters are not necessarily what, or who, they seem. Once the plot’s feverish pace decelerates, the group starts to feel some hope, but is the race really over? $4.99 on Kindle.
The Best Friend by K. Larsen. What she saw was enough to make her a liability. Just before sunrise, she went down to the docks to set up a photo shoot she’d dreamed up. She wanted to capture a colorful graffiti wall to use against the minimalist décor she had in mind for an upcoming project. But what she accidentally captured instead was about to change her life forever. The click of her camera shutter was the last untroubled sound she heard. When a muffled scream ripped through the air, Aubry turned around. That was her first mistake. When men dressed in black forcefully shoved a scantily-clad girl into a shipping container and set their sights on her, Aubry ran. Little did Aubry know, her luck was about to run out. $3.99 on Kindle.
And don’t forget mine! Three steampunks and a fantasy, just 99¢ each on Kindle. Info and samples at the “Books for Sale” tab above.
Blogs Worth Reading . . .
LINK #1 will take you to the online home of C.W. Hawes, a prolific writer who has recently been delving into the challenges of marketing and finding your audience. This is a very worthwhile read for anyone about to release their latest opus.
LINK #2 leads to Through the Eyes of a Stranger, the blog of N.O.A. Rawle. Noa lives in Greece where she teaches English as a second language, so she knows her way around some literature! Her job as a teacher takes up most of her time, and she doesn’t get to blog as much as she’d like, but when she finally makes time for a post, it’s a good one. The current lead article is an interview with Karen J. Carlisle, who recently began the Aunt Enid series.
LINK #3 will buy you a visit to Writers Helping Writers, a spectacularly informative blog run by two professional authors with guest posts from a number I’m not going to sit here and count. But you can do that. Go have a look!
LINK #4 will whisk you off to the ongoing writing clinic that is Richie Billing. Yes, this Englishman named his blog after himself, but I promise you, once you read it, you’ll forgive him! I haven’t yet read his work, and cannot in good faith tell you he’s a great writer, but he certainly understands the concepts, and when it comes to writing about how to write, he has very few peers!
Finally, LINK #5 will take you to the spectacular website of one Eva Newermann. Eva is a Norwegian author, artist, and photographer. A former flight attendant and purser, she draws on a lifetime’s experience traveling the world to write stories of Eve Lowe, a character not too unlike Coleen O’Reilly of Chameleon. She also paints scenes from the books, and posts drone-photography of the beautiful Norwegian countryside. Treat yourself to a bit of fine art today.
And that’s 30 for this week. There’s plenty of good reading material here to keep you busy until I return with who-knows-what on August 5th. I’m not going to offer a preview any more, because a lot of good ideas come and go in a week. I can only promise to make it interesting. Until then, read well, and write better!