Getting Published: part two

Belatedly following on from my last publishing post, about how I met an agent willing to give me and my novel a chance, it’s time I updated on what happened next.

So, after our feedback meeting, Suresh gave me a couple of big plot points and changes to think about:

  • Maybe cut a character (I’m thinking: I already cut one, aaah!)
  • Act One could be shorter
  • Your antagonists are blatantly villains, develop their motives
  • The world state of affairs is interesting: give us more

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Epic Cheap: 50% Off Editing Special

For the first time in three years, my schedule is completely blank until mid September. I’m actively looking for new manuscripts to edit, and I’d like to aggressively slash my prices. My rates are never this cheap, so I strongly encourage you to act fast because my inbox gets flooded every time I do this. […]

via Epic Cheap 50% Off Editing Special — Storymedic

Getting Published: Part One

FIRST DATE WITH AN AGENT

I’ve done it. I’ve started the journey to publishing my novel, or at least come closer to the dream than ever before. I’ve studied publishing as an industry, I’ve been an editor for four years for a digital publisher, but I’ve not managed to publish my own work—yet.

So, I figure we can experience the journey together, because despite the publishing experience that I have, this is all new territory for me.

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1. How I triumphed the Hunger Games and won the agent 

Okay, so I wasn’t bulldozing through a queue of clients to get to my agent, but the process of getting your foot through any door of traditional publishing can feel like a battle. Just notice me! Give me a chance!

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Art I Couldn’t Resist From Artist Alley

MCM London Comic Con is already behind us, but as per, it’s Artist Alley I always loved the most. Fandom art and original beauties await! This year I took my partner along as a photographer, and both of us spent most of our money on art we can’t hang up yet because we don’t have a house. But here are some of our favourite creatives:

Wei Li Wonka

I was not only excited to discover Wei Li’s art but touched to meet such an excitable young lady. My eye was especially drawn to her tea collection – people bathing in teaware/wearing tea cups. I love tea and work in a tea house; I now wear Wei Li’s badges to work! Her style is soft and delicate, sometimes pastely, sometimes stark and bold. It has an air of innocence and wonder, much like the artist herself, and I will certainly be procuring more of her art.

 

Find Wei Li on her blog, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

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Elements of Writing Horror: Something Must Die

I love writing horror. This is a great little post about drawing upon the aspect of character/animal death to ramp up fear in your story.

The Sarcastic Muse

(c) hotblack (c) hotblack

The goal of horror is to elicit an intense fear, and there nothing that humans fear more than death. Death is the last curtain call, the ending to the show. Everyone, whether they admit it or not, has some level of terror about the final end. Fear of death is universal. Horror stories feed off this trepidation. Every single tale of the macabre contains a death, which is essential to amp up the panic in a character.

The purpose of a story is show the growth of a central character. In order to grow, there needs to be a triggering event that transports the character in a positive or negative direction. Yes, characters can grow negatively and fall from where they originated. Typically in the genre of horror, the main character does descend. Eternal loss is a plot tactic for this catalyst. The build up to death is what generates the character’s (and essentially the reader’s) fear — the intrinsic element…

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An Accident of Stars – Cover Reveal

shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows

So, remember that thing where I’ve written an epic portal fantasy? The cover is finally here, with artwork from the amazing Julie Dillon! BEHOLD THE PRETTY:

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Here’s what it’s all about:

When Saffron Coulter stumbles through a hole in reality, she finds herself trapped in Kena, a magical realm on the brink of civil war.

There, her fate becomes intertwined with that of three very different women: Zech, the fast-thinking acolyte of a cunning, powerful exile; Viya, the spoiled, runaway consort of the empire-building ruler, Vex Leoden; and Gwen, an Earth-born worldwalker whose greatest regret is putting Leoden on the throne. But Leoden has allies, too, chief among them the Vex’Mara Kadeja, a dangerous ex-priestess who shares his dreams of conquest.

Pursued by Leoden and aided by the Shavaktiin, a secretive order of storytellers and mystics, the rebels flee to Veksh, a neighboring matriarchy ruled by the fearsome Council of Queens…

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Weather Report: The Basilisk in Your Pasta

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The South West of England will continue to see frequent and unpredictable bursts of heavy showers and crisp sunshine every day of this week, so don’t forget your rain repellent umbrellas no matter how deceivingly warm it seems.

Those in North London should be wary of lightning strikes today, since thirteen year old Annabella Hackhop reacted badly to getting drenched in water by a speeding muggle car. The young witch is not being charged for casting the spell, as she claims it was an instinctive magical reaction that she had not intended to happen, and the Ministry’s Accidental Magic Reversal Squad should have the lightning cleared away by this afternoon.

Due to an awful incident involving an elderly wizard and his experimentation in homemade dungbombs, the glorious sunshine in East Riding might not be so welcome after all. The stink is potent for miles and truly foul, not helped by the beautiful weather Yorkshire is due all week. Ahmer Laham is being treated for magical burns after his fifth batch of dungbombs exploded in his garden brazier. The Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee are telling local muggles that a gas line combusted and hit a sewer system.

If you’ve been brewing any lunar dependant potions this month, don’t forget that tonight is the first day of the full moon.

And a quick traffic notification: no one else is permitted to apparate into Diagon Alley today due to a pile up of witches and wizards arriving at the same time for the touring performance of the French rock band ‘The Basilisk in Your Pasta’. The crush of folk is heavy and too many of the travellers were uncomfortable with apparition, resulting in a lot of vomit.

[A/N: Literally, honestly, tonight is a full moon in the UK.]

Meddling in Muggle Theatre

I applied to be a writer for Hogwarts is Here a couple of years ago, and my application was successful! But sadly, the acceptance email went to my junk folder, and I discovered it two weeks after they’d sent it, which was apparently deplorable. I never even got a ‘sorry, you replied too slow’. I liked the content I wrote for them, however, so my Quibbler articles shall have a home on my blog. Hello, 2016.

Meddling in Muggle Theatre

Beauty and the Beast

Wizarding theatre has been in decline, according to directors such as Plepbin Eggum, famous for his adaptation of Three Wizards and the Rolling Trolls, for the past fifty years. He stated that the same dusty fables had graced our stages for so long that even fairies would be tired of sweeping up the moral residue for their spells. Whatever that means. He went on about fairy dust for quite some time.

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10 Uses for the Author Business Card

The Sarcastic Muse

10 Uses for Author Business Cards

Do you have a business card as a writer or author? Have you thought about it? Business cards are a good idea with lots of uses.

Just a quick tip: First, make sure your card stands out. A signature color, logo, or something that draws attention is good. Also make sure that you use a legible font and include only details you want widely public (for example, I omitted my address and phone number).

Here are ten ways you might not have thought of to use your business cards:

  1. One clever idea, which I will implement when the third Family Secrets novel comes out, is to use the space on one side of the card for thumbnails of three books. It’s almost a perfect fit. Then put your info on the back along with a link to where you prefer people to buy them. It’s an immediate sales tool in…

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What is Narrative Style? The Condensed Answer

kitty reading bookThis is something budding writers often ask me. “But what is narrative style? Why is it something to be aware of?”

Narrative style is tricky to pin down. Style is tone. Don’t forget that the narrative is essentially someone’s voice. The narrator is a character, not simply words dictating what happens in the story. Even if narration has an archaic, formal tone (such as often seen in classic literature or high fantasy), that is still the voice of a character, the one telling you a story of events as they perceived them to happen – even if omnipresent.

Style is how you structure sentences, how you use or abuse punctuation, how you describe scenery and character-thought-progression. It’s a combination of many writing techniques that you pick and perfect to work for not only your story, but for you as a writer.

I suppose one way to think of it is like poetry (we’re getting a bit hon hon darling now, but bear with me, it’s a metaphor). When you read a poem, you generally expect that poem to have rhythm – to have a way of twisting the structure of words on the page to either be staccato, flowing, or broken. You would expect a poem to scratch the surface of its real meaning – leaving you to infur the rest – or to expose the “character’s” emotional depth. The poem will paint every scene in vibrant colours, or it will be minimalistic and clean.

Writing a story is very much the same. Narrative style is one part you relating events as feels natural, two parts your character shouting into a microphone. Or whispering. I mean. It’s your style. Whatever.

Book Launch: Meet erotica writer L.M. Brown

forbiddenwaters 200x320Today we’ve got something new, something exciting, and something a little bit naughty. I confess that I have yet to read L.M. Brown’s work but as soon as I came across the pitch for her new book – she had me by the tail fins. I’m excited to make her new release, Forbidden Waters, my first taste of her work.

But enough from me! I don’t want to babble, I’m honoured to now hand over to L, who can tell you more about her upcoming m/m/m erotica.


 

Meet Prince Finn

You’d think being born a prince would mean the young heir to the Atlantean throne would have everything he could ever wish for. Well, not if you read romance novels on a regular basis, you wouldn’t. After all, princes have problems too and Finn has more so than others.

As a merman, Finn is at home in the ocean, but even the wonderful world under the surface of the ocean can lose its appeal when you are also its prisoner.

Finn has everything a prince could want, except the freedom to go up to the surface of the ocean and walk on the land. Now, you might think that this isn’t particularly important since he is a merman. He should be just as happy and content under the water, right?

Mermen, at least in my world, can only ever have intercourse in their human forms. Prince Finn, at twenty years old is one of the oldest virgins in Atlantis, if not the actual oldest.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Finn is no different to any other merman or mermaid when it comes to needing the touch of another. Like all of his kind he goes into heat twice a year on the summer and winter solstices and when that time comes the need to go to land can be pretty overwhelming.

Being trapped under the ocean when the heat of a mating fever is upon him is difficult and painful, but despite all that Finn handles his imprisonment pretty well. That is, he does everything he can to find a way to escape the boundaries of the city. This means passing by the dangerous sea dragons as well as escaping the watchful gaze of his parents, the king and queen of Atlantis and his jailers.

Even if he were attracted to mermaids he would have trouble escaping the city to ease his sexual frustration. Being attracted to men, which is strictly forbidden in Atlantis, makes it doubly difficult for him to obtain the freedom he desires.

Despite all this, Prince Finn does not let his imprisonment bother him too much. He is a merman who craves love and will navigate Forbidden Waters to get it.

~

Blurb

To save his clan from ever-increasing shark attacks, merman Kyle seeks sanctuary for his people in the sunken city of Atlantis, even though he knows that as a homosexual merman, he will be sacrificing his own chance for love. Love finds him anyway in the form of Prince Finn, the rebellious young heir to the Atlantean throne.

When their relationship is discovered, Kyle is the one to pay the price. Banished from the oceans, he seeks shelter in England and finds a new love with human, Jake Seabrook.

For Jake, Kyle is the chance to move on from the crush he has on his straight best friend. The strange man he found naked on the beach seems to fit into his life with ease. If only Kyle weren’t keeping secrets from him, Jake could see them having a future together.

Things are not what they seem for either of the men and when Kyle discovers the truth about Finn, he knows he must return to Atlantis.

Three men, a tangled relationship, and one chance for happiness—if they can trust enough to take it.

~

Excerpt

Kyle shook his head and was about to say something else when the sound of someone in pain drifted through his mind. He knew instinctively it was Finn and swam past the queen to the resting chamber. Queen Coral followed at his back. They found Finn curled up in Kyle’s sleeping sponge, his tail curled around him. He clutched his stomach in obvious pain.

Ignoring the queen for the moment, Kyle rushed to Finn and gathered him into his arms.

“I’m here, Finn,” Kyle murmured. “I’ve got you now.”

Finn groaned and wrapped himself round Kyle. “I hate this. The heat of the season gets worse every time. I thought it might help to be here in your home, but it didn’t. It’ll pass by the end of the day. It just hurts not to mate when the desire is so strong.”

“Damn,” Kyle swore under his breath. At twenty years of age, Finn had already gone through nearly ten mating seasons without relief. That was more than Dax and Undine had lived through combined. The pain Kyle suffered from would be nothing compared to what Finn was dealing with right now.

Kyle glared at the queen. “Do you see what your stupid rules are putting your son through?”

“This is not my fault,” the queen argued.

“Don’t fight,” Finn interrupted. “Just hold me Kyle. It’s helping.”

Kyle tightened his grip and kissed Finn on the top of his head. “I’m here now. I won’t leave you.”

Finn settled down a little and began to rub up against Kyle. He could tell what the merman was trying to do, but Finn’s efforts were in vain. Mermen simply couldn’t find release in their half-fish form. No matter how Finn mimicked the movements of the act of mating, they could never actually see it through to completion while under the water. Which meant Finn could never find relief as long as his parents held him prisoner under the waves.

“Kyle, help me,” Finn begged. “Take me to the island. Let me know you the way I need to.”

“I forbid it,” Queen Coral ordered.

Kyle ignored her and sent his next thoughts privately to Finn. “I promise this won’t happen next mating season. Next time I’ll take you with me, even if I have to kidnap you to do it.”

~

Forbidden Waters is now available at Totally Bound and will soon be availble on Amazon.

Bio

L.M. Brown lives in England, in a quaint little village time doesn’t seem to have touched. No, wait a minute—that’s the retirement biography. Right now, she is in England in a medium sized town no one has ever heard of, so she won’t bore you with the details. Keeping her company are numerous sexy men. She just wishes they weren’t all inside her head.

L.M. believes there is nothing hotter or sweeter than two men in love with each other… unless it is three.

L.M. Brown loves hearing from readers so don’t be shy.

~

Where to find L.M. Brown:

Website & Blog – http://lmbrownauthor.wordpress.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/LMBrownTreasureTrove/

Twitter – @LMBrownAuthor

A Writer’s Guide to Building a Steampunk World

FOREWORD: I’m currently moving a lot of my articles from Squidoo over to my blog as Squidoo has declared almost all of my articles as spam. This is one of them. I’ve decided to totally migrate to my blog because I’m sick of fighting my corner on their site.

Create an Authentic Feeling Enviroment

Circa Art - Victorian Art (14)

Click for picture source

One of the magical perks to being a writer is the ability to mould our own world; a place so tangible that other people can taste it, smell it, walk and run within it. I’ve always believed this is why books like the Harry Potter series are popular. It’s not just the characters, it’s not just the story – Rowling created a world in such finite detail that people weep with dreams of living there. I know I do.

This is why it’s important to research what we’re writing, and research isn’t as dull as the high-school homework we groaned and avoided. If you’re writing about it, surely you find the surrounding lore, mechanics, culture etc. interesting? If not, why are you writing about it?

This article will not tell you HOW to write a steampunk novel or short story. Plot, characterisation and quality are most important but there are already sources on those. In this lens I’ll share with you the information I have discovered whilst building a steampunk world. The elements of steampunk – the choices in front of you. There are helpful videos, links to linguistics and social behaviour, apps, books, locomotive facts, a list of popular figure heads of the genre and more.

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Writing 101: How to Treat your Beta Readers

The Sarcastic Muse

BetareadingI have done a lot of beta-reading this past year, and in turn, I’ve had people read my own work. Nothing is more essential in the early stages of a manuscript than its beta readers, so if you have a collection of reliable readers, you should do everything in your power to hold onto them. Below I’ve amassed a series of points that I think are important to take into consideration when you ask people to read for you.

  1. )Do not give them a first draft. The first draft is crap. You can write the first draft, edit the hell out of it, and then share it with your readers. And that’s okay. Because, by then, it’s no longer a first draft. But do not give away a draft you haven’t even bothered to edit yourself. That’s a waste of your readers’ time. If you’re desperate for someone to…

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Evangelion Manga Reviews: Apocalypse and Beaches

What are the spin-off mangas like?

evangelion_144Are you a fan of the popular anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion? Do you want to know what the spin-off mangas are like? Then this review is for you!

I’m a fan of the original series and most of its varing manifestations. I while back I was surprised to discover that there are two manga series. They are, for the most part, published fan fiction and not written by Hideaki Anno but that doesn’t mean they are bad.

I’ll be scrutinising use of plot, writing skill and characterisation. The two manga series in question are: The Shinji Ikari Rising Project and Campus Apocalypse

There are no spoilers in these reviews, but they are aimed at people who already know the characters and are aware of the original plot.

The Shinji Ikari Rising Project – Volume #1

NGE_ShinjiIkariV1This particular spin-off manga, by Osamu Takahashi, drags us into an altered universe with gorgeous artwork featuring our favourite leading characters – primarly, Asuka Langley Soryu.

It takes a while for any serious plot to kick in – chapter 6, to be precise. The lives of Asuka, Shinji, and Rei are completely mundane and revolve around sexual comedy and romantic angst. In a world where Shinji’s mother is still alive and living in a family unit with Gendo Ikari, the story tries to explore how the chosen three teenagers would compete and interact if dating was their only worry.

We’re led through this alternate universe by Asuka who has been friends with Shinji since the age of four. This childhood bond is threatened when the beautiful Rei Ayanami moves to town – capturing Shinji’s interest – and forces Asuka to consider if she wants to be more than Shinji’s friend.

It’s beautifully drawn but plot points concerning the EVA are jarring and feel out of place in an average world where no one even vaguely mentions the Angels. There is no tension or threat of an imminent attack, which makes the EVA project feel slightly superfluous, like an attempt to create danger where there is none.

The first volume is light hearted compared to the original anime series and takes a somewhat heart-warming look at the dynamics between Rei, Asuka, and Shinji. In fact, it acts like a harem in which Rei and Asuka fall over Shinji, and Shinji himself frequently catches glimpses of female underwear; torn between the attractions of two striking young women. So if you’re not a fan of series like Oh! My Goddess this might not be the adaptation for you.

Saying this, Takahashi has done a fantastic job of staying true to the original characters’ personalities and it might be worth giving it a go just to enjoy spending time with Asuka and company. They have been altered to better socialise with each other as there’s an uplifting sense of friendship and love beneath all their pranks and bickering. Even the adults, especially Misato Katsuragi and Gendo, have a cheerful disposition that seems unhampered by dark, NERV secrets.

For those of you hoping for shipping fanservice, Takahashi does a grand job of teasing you with hints at yaoi, yuri, and het pairings all around.

It’s a calm and casual approach to Evangelion. The plot is vague and distracted with summer festivals and beach trips, but the characterisation is gripping and makes it worth reading if you want a closer look at ‘what might have been’ had Shinji and Asuka come from a happier environment. Mechs are not promised!

I personally don’t enjoy this kind of manga, so I won’t be buying the rest of the series. For those of you who do like harem-esc manga, this seems like a good one.

  • Fantastic characterisation,
  • Beautiful artwork,
  • Superfluious plot.

Campus Apocalypse – Volume #1

campus-apocalypseCompared to The Shinji Ikari Raising Project, Ming Ming’s Campus Apocalypse is an original and thoughtful alternate-reality. Corporation NERV, Shinji’s high school, the Angels and the characters themselves have been shaken up and re-imagined. This one is my favourite of the two.

Mystery arises from the get-go when Shinji spots his classmate running around at night with a Giant Spear (a.k.a. the Lance of Longinus) and an unknown guy. He puts this out of his mind until the next day at school where he attends NERV Foundation, a Catholic high school.

His curiosity is peaked when ‘the unknown guy’ turns out to be a transfer student by the name of Kaworu Nagisa who has a particular interest in Shinji, and a suspicious attitude towards Rei. Little does Shinji know, his curiosity will plunge him into a world of Angels, EVAs, Cores, AT Fields and prophecies – but not as you’d expect.

Compared to the original series, the art style has a more modern, anime feel. Ming has poured his own touch onto the page rather than perfectly mimic Anno’s drawing, which is part of what makes this series stand out.

I wasn’t sure if Ming’s story would be particularly good, as the first “in-class-scene” has a forced tone of humour. It’s more a case of, ‘look, isn’t this FUNNY?‘ than it actually being humorous. I was thrilled to discover that the story takes a compelling turn and has an exciting take on all the tech/techno-babble from the series. The Angels are especially interesting in this adaptation. In fact, it was the appearance of the first ‘Angel’ that hooked my attention.

The mood of storytelling has kept with the original – dreamy, brutal, symbolic (to a sensible degree) – and promises to be an insightful interpretation. The characters are true to themselves, especially Rei, Shinji, and Asuka. Like the Shinji Ikari Raising Project, Shinji’s abandonment issues have been toned down but he is a lot truer to his original characterisation with unforgettable, well implemented mantras such as, “I mustn’t run away. I mustn’t run away. I mustn’t run away!

For those of you who ship Kaworu and Shinji, there are enough intense stares between the two boys to make fangirls die of giggles.

This is a compelling adaptation with narrative skill and unexpected re-imaginings of the original series. The artwork isn’t quite as mesmerising as Takahashi’s but the plot makes up for it by the book load. I’ll be buying the next volume.

  • Gripping story,
  • Unique alternate universe,
  • Well written.

Are you a big fan of the Evangelion series?

The Restaurant Owner Who Paid My Tube Fairs

If you follow me on Twitter then you’ll know that this weekend I was working as a journalist for MCM Buzz Press at London Comic Con. It was an absolute blast and I’ve never worked twelve hour shifts without realising it before!

But before any of that, I have another story.

On Saturday night, after the busiest day London Comic Con has ever had to date, we decided to eat dinner at the Italian restaurant next to our hotel. Absolutely beautiful food, portions larger than we could eat, and staff as friendly as sunshine.

The next morning, I realised my Oyster card was missing. If you’re not familiar with the London tube system, an Oyster card is like a ticket that you keep permanently. You top it up with money, swipe it at terminals, and travel around the underground at a much cheaper price. Mine was gone, and the tube is not cheap without one.

The last place my friend had seen me with it was at the restaurant, where I’d placed it on the table to get to something else in my pocket. Unfortunately, the card’s black wallet blended in with the tablecloth.

After work, we returned to the restaurant and asked the owner if anyone had handed in my card. Nope. Nothing. The owner suspected that a had guest taken it, or even one of his staff. I wasn’t too upset, I couldn’t blame him for my own negligence. I was just disheartened at the looming fee I’d have to pay to get to Poplar that evening and then Waterloo station the next day. I didn’t say anything though, I just told him not to worry and thanks for looking.

Without hesitation, however, as the owner poked around in the till draw, he said, “You can borrow mine.”

“Pardon?” I replied.

“How much was on your Oyster card?”

“Not much, only £7, so it’s not a huge loss, but it was enough to travel.” (Without an Oyster card the overall journey would come to £18, with an Oyster it would cost me £4 – keep in mind that paying for a hotel, tickets to London, and buying food had already cost me well over £200.)

“Then here,” the owner said, closing the till and instead reaching into his coat pocket hanging on the peg, “you can borrow my Oyster card. It has about £7 I think. You can post it back to me.”

I was so stunned I didn’t quite know what to say. “What? No! It’s okay.”

“You need to get home, don’t you?”

“Well, yes…”

“Then here. Just post it back to me.”

I’ve never encountered such spontaneous and trusting kindness from a total stranger before. I accepted his offer, thanking him profusely, and made it through London without having to pay a stupid amount. Now home, I’ve written him a little letter and sealed his card in an envelope, ready to post back to him tomorrow.

I’m just so touched by someone placing such trust in a stranger in need. These little kindnesses do happen, and they restore your faith in humanity.

If you’re ever in Canning Town, you should visit Pepenero restaurant; not just because the food is delicious and massive in size, but because the people who work there are friendly, have a good sense of humour, and its manager is one of a kind.

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