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Guest Posts

Guest Post – Katherine Givens, Historical Romance Author

I’m a sucker for a sweet historical romance, and I also have been toying with the idea of accepting author guests again, so when Katherine Givens approached me about doing a guest post, I didn’t say no. I did warn her that the remnants of my audience consists of a few awesome folk who have morphed into true friends who have stuck with me through thick and thin. Unsurprisingly, this appealed to her.

Her book, In Her Dreams, looks very fun, and I will probably read it soon.

I love this from her bio:

Katherine Givens is a museum employee with a secret. Few know the truth of her greatest passion, but those closest to her know she loves to write historical romances… Alright, maybe more than a few people know she is a writer. Anyone who will listen to her can glean this from a conversation.

I can totally relate! Here she is.

~*~

Katherine GivensNot all ideas come with ease. Sometimes a manuscript is started, but later abandoned when your inner editor deems the story a failure. Other times your muse turns her back, her ray’s of creativity no longer shining upon your face. Frustration builds and builds, which only adds to the hindrance.

The accepted phrase for this artistic disease is “writer’s block.” It is the author’s plague. A story’s greatest enemy. Breaching the wall writer’s block builds is often difficult. There are tactics to move past it, but these don’t always remedy the situation. In several articles I’ve read, one should listen to music, write in new surroundings, or just walk away from the manuscript.

Sometimes this advice works, other times it fails. Miserably. The frustration continues, and the muse keeps her back turned. But once writer’s block is conquered, a treasure trove might await. This was my experience before In Her Dreams came to fruition.1013-in-her-dreams_1400

One day about a year ago, I was in a rut. A writing rut. I bounced ideas around in my head, but I shot each one down. Only one image stuck in my head during those days, popping up like unwanted weeds. Emerald eyes with amber drops floating in the lonely pools.

The concept was very vague, but my ability to conjure up ideas was as arid as the Sahara. So, I sat before my laptop with my iPod blaring. I started with those haunting emerald eyes, and the opening scene of In Her Dreams fell into place. Rain had come to the Sahara.

With every clack of my laptop’s keys, a sentence was strung. With every sentence, a story formed. Three weeks later, In Her Dreams was finished. Writing the story was one of the most amusing and enjoyable experiences of my life. The witty lines of the characters. The devotion of two sisters towards one another, no matter the draws of jealousy and sadness. The underlying message regarding dreams, and how love conquers all. All this came with ease once my writer’s block was conquered.

A couple months passed before my manuscript was sold to Harlequin Australia’s imprint Escape Publishing. The process of preparing In Her Dreams for publication was the highlight of my summer. If I was down for any number of personal reasons, all I had to do was think on my little gem. My dash of good fortune.

Even though I sold the manuscript some time ago, the magic has yet to wear off. In fact, with the continuous growth of my writing, the spell I am under continues to thicken. And my horrid cases of writer’s block are lessening.

http://katherinegivens1.wordpress.com/.
She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Ever have an idea like Katherine’s that just seems to persist?

Veronica Scott on her Evil Editor Experience

After posting my review of Veronica Scott’s Wreck of the Nebula Dream, Chicory remembered seeing the query on Evil Editor. Well it turned out that old EE had recently reposted the query as an “Evil Editor Classic”.

I asked Veronica to write a blog post on the experience. Take it away, Veronica!

~*~

In 2007 I was an unpublished author trying to learn my craft pretty much in a vacuum. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and so I hadn’t joined any writers’ groups or loops, hadn’t found my own beta readers and critique partners, didn’t know how to look online for the wealth of advice and assistance available. I was committed to improving the stories I was telling, in hopes of someday becoming published. At that point I’d written the first drafts of four science fiction novels and thought maybe I was ready to start querying agents and publishers. Being a total newbie to publishing as it existed six years ago, and realizing feedback was essential, I hit the send button,  emailing a sample query for one of the novels to the Evil Editor blog.

A lot of the feedback I received in return was useful, no one was too snarky, which I appreciated. (Humorous yes, serious suggestions yes, overly snarky, no!) EE and the commenters were probably much kinder than they could have been, given the total newbie things I was doing at that point, including some predictable beginner mistakes…the novel was too long, I was trying to write a synopsis without knowing it, I wanted to send an agent fifty pages of the book….I did revise my draft query a few times in 2007 in response to the comments and suggestions but it was clear to me after the experience that I was in no way ready to submit anything to anybody. What I had was a very early draft of a novel that required a lot more revising and rethinking and I needed to become more knowledgeable about the publishing world. All good, solid realizations!

Wreck of the Nebula DreamI honestly don’t remember all the ins and outs of the EE experience. 2007 was the start of some very turbulent times in my personal life and I basically put the draft novels on the shelf for several years to deal with what Life was tossing at me and my family.

Flash forward to today and I’m happy to say the finished version of what was a raw manuscript in 2007 eventually (after revisions and edits) became my  WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM, which received a 2013 SFR Galaxy Award and was a recent Amazon Best Seller in Science Fiction Adventure.

I didn’t give it much thought in 2007, but now that the finished, polished version of my novel is out there as a published work, I do kind of regret that there’s a titular connection to that six year old, public feedback because the early version had a lot of “growing up to do” as a novel and the finished book is drastically different than the 2007 version.  (Although the fundamental “bones of the plot” endured.)

I don’t regret the path I took, however, because I firmly believe writers need feedback to make the books stronger, whether from Evil Editor, Dear Author’s First Page feature, or your own circle of beta readers and critique partners.

Of course I always reserve the right to listen to the feedback and then make my own decisions LOL!

~*~

Learn more about Veronica here.

I hope we didn’t embarrass her too much by dredging up these old memories. If you have any questions about Veronica’s experience, just leave them below; she has promised to come by and take part in the conversation. I’ll start!

Author Interview – Nicole Luiken

I have been digging Nicole Luiken’s Kandrith novels of late; I already reviewed Gate to Kandrith and I just finished Soul of Kandrith, which was the first book I ever preordered for my Kindle. I just loved these books so I was thrilled to do this interview with Nicole. Although these books are labeled fantasy romance, they are fantasy first, in my mind.

luikenn

About Nicole

Nicole Luiken wrote her first book at age 13 and never stopped.

She is the author of eight published books for young adults, including Violet Eyes and its sequel Silver Eyes, Frost, Unlocking the Doors, The Catalyst, Escape to the Overworld, Dreamfire and the sequel Dreamline. She also has an adult thriller, Running on Instinct, under the name N.M. Luiken and a fantasy romance ebook, Gate to Kandrith.

Nicole lives with her family in Edmonton, AB. It is physically impossible for her to go more than three days in a row without writing.

Would you tell us a little about Soul of Kandrith?

Soul of Kandrith is the second book in a epic fantasy series.  Although there is a strong romantic subplot, the main plot is fantasy.  Kandrith is a tiny country created by magic and founded by ex-slaves that exists in the middle of the corrupt Republic of Temboria.  At the beginning of Gate to Kandrith an uneasy peace exists between the two because of the Hostage Pact.

GateToKandrithSoul of Kandrith deals with the consequences of the end of Gate to Kandrith, the breaking of the Hostage Pact and the more personal ramifications of Sara’s sacrifice.  Kandrith has a one-year reprieve before the Republic of Temboria invades again.  Lance is sent on a mission to encourage a rebellion in one of the Republic’s conquered provinces.  Because of the Republic’s many Legions, the rebellion is doomed unless Lance can teach the rebels magic and even the scales a little.  But, of course, there are complications, one of them being Lance’s determination to help Sara get her soul back.

At their heart, both Gate to Kandrith and Soul of Kandrith are about slavery.

How long did it take you to write Soul of Kandrith?

I started the first draft of Soul of Kandrith as part of nanowrimo in 2009, but had to continue into December to finish.  The novel then lay fallow until I received word that Gate to Kandrith had been accepted for publication.  I wrote the 2nd and 3rd drafts in an over-lapping fashion from August 2011 to June 2012.  Then editorial revisions in August.  In total I probably spent a full year writing it.

Tells us about your favorite scene in Soul of Kandrith.SoulOfKandrith

Ooh, that’s tough.  I have a certain fondness for the hard-boiled egg scene [in which the soulless Sara is indifferent to the pain of reaching into a pot of boiling water to bring out the eggs]–I think it’s memorable because it shows just how far to the left of center Sara has gone.  I like action scenes, and I’m quite proud of the whole Legion at the Gate section and, of course, the climax.  For romantic scenes I like the bath scene and the bargaining-for-kisses scene…  I could go on and on.

I sometimes think my goal when I’m editing is to make every scene a favourite scene.  The first draft has a lot dull transition scenes that take the plot from point A to point B, and I work hard to transform those scenes into something enjoyable.

Tia aside–I name my scenes too! That’s how I end up with chapter names.

Can you tell us about any scene that gave you trouble?

The first scenes with soulless-Sara were horrible to write. At this point, Sara doesn’t understand emotion, doesn’t feel pain and fear.  I couldn’t even use the word ‘smile’ or ‘frown’, but had to rely entirely on visual clues like ‘his lips curved up’.  And yet they were critical in giving the reader a tiny bit of hope for the future and in showing Sara’s growth throughout the book, how she slowly begins to experience emotions again, first mild ones such as irritation and liking then growing into hate and love.

What  draws you to writing epic fantasy?

I love reading epic fantasy.  My husband and I can endlessly discuss Jordan’s The Wheel of Time or Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire.  I’m eagerly awaiting book of Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive and am halfway through Rothfuss’s The Wise Man’s fear.  I love entering new worlds and learning about their quirks and customs and magic.  I had great fun coming up with Kandrith’s magic system.

I was afraid to try my hand at epic for many years because I’m not good at description, something that is crucial for fantasy.  (It’s not that I can’t write description, it’s that it feels like three times as much work as writing dialogue or action.)  I eventually realized my problem was that I hadn’t put enough thought into the setting, that writing a description of yet-another smoke-stained inn with a beer-sticky floor and a pot of stew bored me because I’d read hundred of other stories with the exact same inn.  The challenge then became to come up with something different:  an inn that was also the Temple of Jut, God of Travellers.
When you are writing, who is in control? You or your characters?

For the most part I am.  I plot my novels out before typing chapter one, but I’m a firm believer that if a character balks at a scene it’s a sign from my unconscious that I’ve taken a wrong turn with the plot–usually this just involves backing up a page and taking another run at it.

However, one of my characters did give me serious trouble when I was writing Soul of Kandrith: the villain, Nir, high priest of the God of War.  He ran roughshod over my outline and wrenched the plot into a much darker place than I had intended to go.  The meeker way I’d asked him to behave in the outline was, quite simply, out of character.

What advice do you have for other writers?

If you’re a beginning writer, let some time lapse between your first draft and your second.  This will give you some emotional distance and allow you to come at revisions from a fresher perspective and with a keener eye.  Nobody writes a perfect first draft.
What authors or stories inspired you to write?

The books that leave me inspired and eager to write are usually books about writing.  I wrote my first book (at age thirteen) because I happened to take a book out of the library called Guide to Fiction Writing by Phyllis A. Whitney. How to Write Best-selling Fiction by Dean Koontz, Writing the Block Buster Novel by Albert Zuckerman are sources I’ve gone back to over and over.  I also love the craft notes J.R. Ward included in The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide.

My favourite SF and Fantasy authors are Lois McMaster Bujold, Jim Butcher and Patricia Briggs.  I buy them in hardcover.  My favourite romance author is Suzanne Brockmann.
9.     The Kandrith series is a duology. Do you have any plans to write any more stories in this fascinating, pseudo-Roman world?

I have a short story telling Rhiain’s origins that I’ve toyed with lengthening and putting up as a freeread, but for the most part no.  The duology gives Lance and Sara a HEA and I wouldn’t want to upset that by writing another book.  Plus, there are lots of other stories in my head clamouring for attention.

10.  Is there anything you wish I had asked, or that you would like to add?

I’d just like to add that sample chapters of Gate to Kandrith and Soul of Kandrith can be found on my website: www.nicoleluiken.com

Nicole’s Links:

Website GoodreadsFacebook fan page Twitter

Guest Post – Science Fiction Author J. L. Hilton

I’ve been reading J. L. Hilton’s Stellernet lately. Since the second book just came out, I thought I’d ask her for a guest post. I’m hoping to get back into more guest posts in the next few months, so look for more of these. She has a blog tour going on at http://jlhilton.com/2012/10/stellarnet-prince-schedule/.

She also has some contests going on if you want to get in on them. Just click the Rafflecopter link.

A “r’naw eye” necklace giveaway through Nov 30:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nov 4-11 giveaway of digital copies of both Stellarnet books:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

J.L. Hilton on love triangles

I’ve avoided talking about this for more than a year, because it’s a spoiler. But Stellarnet Rebel [ http://www.stellarnetseries.com ] has been out since January, and the upcoming sequel Stellarnet Prince certainly gives it away, right there on its Amazon page [ http://amzn.com/B0092MTI9Q ]: Human blogger Genny O’Riordan shares two alien lovers.

Genny is soul bound to Duin, who is fighting for the liberation of his people, and married to Belloc, who is fighting for his identity. They don’t carry on like cats or bunnies – it’s not an erotic series. In fact, many readers and reviewers say it’s not “romance” at all but science fiction “with romantic elements” because the series is also about action, adventure, planetary war, ecological devastation, first contact, video games and lots of other things. Their relationship might be unconventional for us, but Duin and Belloc aren’t human, they’re alien. They’re not going to be exactly like us, physically or culturally. Their world is dangerous, and exclusive pairing would impact their species’ survival.

But it’s time for me to admit that the real reason they’re in a polyamorous relationship is because I’ve had a lifelong frustration with the 1967 movie Camelot. I can’t remember exactly when I saw it for the first time. Maybe around age 8, when I also developed an interest in Shakespeare because of my mother’s 33rpm record with excerpts from Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet.

Throughout my childhood, teen and college years, I watched the movie more times than I can count, deeply moved by King Arthur’s heartfelt – entirely surprising and otherwise unrepresented in mainstream media – attitude toward his wife sleeping with his best friend. Portrayed by Richard Harris, he says: “Could it possibly be civilized to destroy what I love? Could it possibly be civilized to love myself above all? What of their pain and their torment? Did they ask for this calamity? Can passion be selected?”

It broke my heart that his beautiful kingdom had to fall to ruin simply because society wouldn’t accept what he himself accepted.

In interviews, when I’m asked about inspirations for the Stellarnet Series, I’ve answered – honestly – that I can pinpoint several influences: V for Vendetta, Beauty and the Beast, Les Miserables, Babylon 5, North and South. The one I’ve failed to mention is Camelot, because it was totally off my radar when I started writing my first book in 2009.

Just a few weeks ago, I watched it with my daughter. It was my first viewing in over twelve years. Duin bears an uncanny resemblance to Richard Harris bouncing about and pontificating, Belloc also comes from a far-off lake and can’t be defeated in battle, and “Genny” is what they call Guinevere throughout the movie. Only then did I realize how something buried in my subconscious had entered, unawares, into my writing. The relationship between Duin, Genny and Belloc was my attempt to resolve a lifelong and long forgotten heartache, in cyberpunk clothing rather than medieval armor. I wanted to give Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot a happily ever after, together.

Have you ever been heartbroken by a fictional romance that didn’t turn out as you wished? Do you find love triangles to be exciting or frustrating? Who are some of your favorite love triangles?

J.L. Hilton is the author of the Stellarnet Series published by Carina Press, including Stellarnet Rebel (January 2012) and Stellarnet Prince (November 2012), and a regular contributor to the Contact-Infinite Futures SF/SFR blog. Her artwork is featured in the books Steampunk Style Jewelry and 1000 Steampunk Creations. Visit her at JLHilton.com or follow her on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and deviantART.

Guest Post – Rabia Gale on Writing Short Stories

Rabia Gale breaks fairy tales and fuses science fiction and fantasy. She recently published Shattered: Broken Fairy Tales, a collection of three short stories. A native of Pakistan, she currently resides in Northern Virginia. Visit her online at http://www.rabiagale.com.

Why I Write Short Stories

 by Rabia Gale

As a new writer, I wrote short stories only as practice for greater things, like the long, complicated novels that were my first love. Now, though, I write short stories because I’ve grown to love them for their own sake.


The instant gratification factor of short stories is a big attraction. After spending months laboring over a first draft or a brutal revision, it’s nice to write a complete story in a few sessions. That’s not to say that some short stories don’t simmer in my backbrain for a while before I commit them to paper. Because a short story doesn’t have a lot of wiggle-room for extraneous words, I mentally try and discard many different approaches to my story idea before hitting upon the right one. Months, or even years, can pass between that first flicker of a short story premise and when I actually write it.

I am more willing to experiment with a short story. Sometimes that takes the form of writing outside my preferred genres. Or I can write in an unusual point-of-view or tense (such as second person and present tense). Short stories also give me the opportunity to share headspace with an unlikeable protagonist. All these would be difficult to sustain over the course of a novel, but are intriguing novelties in a short story.

Sometimes I have ideas that are too small for novels. These tightly-focused ideas would become diluted and dulled in the tens of thousands of words in a novel. Or perhaps there is one moment that I want to build up to, or one particular emotional response I want to evoke in my reader. Occasionally—though humor is not my forte—I have a punchline I want to showcase. In these cases, I turn to the short story form as the best vehicle for my idea.

I also pay greater attention to my prose when writing short stories. In a novel, I am forgiven a less-than-stellar sentence or two, as long as the story is exciting and the writing competent. In a short story, every sentence needs to do an exceptional job. Short stories help me hone my writing style.

Do you read or write short stories? What do you like about them?

Guest Post – Cover Art and Symbols

Kimber An is an old blog buddy of mine–you’ve seen her here before! She writes YA fantasy and science fiction. Her Ophelia Dawson novels are a blend of both, like many urban fantasies. Except, since these take place in the wilds of Alaska, they are decidedly not urban. The first book is Sugar Rush, the second (a novella) is Crushed Sugar, and the third, newly released, is Sweet Bytes. Here, she writes about the symbols in cover art.

~*~

Cover Art & Symbols

By Kimber An

Good morning!  My new book, Sweet Bytes, was released by Noble YA last week and I’ve been seeking out cover contests.  C.H. Scarlett did it and I was just stunned.  I’m still rather stunned!  Isn’t it gorgeous?  So, I thought I’d post about the cover symbols.

I was a blogging book reviewer before publication, like Tia, and I’ve seen, I don’t know, thousands of book covers maybe.  And I’ve read the woeful tales of authors who got stuck with cover art they hate.  It seems like every author gets at least one book cover they can’t stand.  A few get more than their fair share.  Only rarely does an author score great cover art every single release, it seems.  Lisa Shearin is one whom I think has been blessed by the cover art angels.  I’ve loved all of hers.

I’ve loved all of mine too!

My latest completely stunned me.  I think maybe it’s the bear and the ice coupled with the young woman obviously longing for her mate.  I think in pictures.  My stories create themselves in full color images like a movie on Blu-Ray.  But, they’re all jumbled together.  I have to work very hard to sort them out in a story.

Sorting out the images for a book cover is beyond me.  I’m baffled how an artist can take all these images and come up with such beauty.

Okay, so here’s the symbols on the Sweet Bytes cover.

First, you have the heroine, Ophelia Dawson, long red hair and in a gorgeous formal dress.  It’s her prom dress, in fact.  The skirt was long, but it ripped half way off while fleeing and fighting the baddies.

Second, you see her spotting a young man in the distance.  That’s Adrian, her soul-mate.  She believed he was dead.  Now, there he is, alive.  How will she react?

Third, you see the ice and snow glistening under an enormous full moon.  That symbolizes Alaska, my home state and where most of the series takes place.

Fourth, the bear is Shesh and she represents Alaska Native culture, which I’ve intertwined with the Scandinavian roots of Ophelia’s family.  Shesh also represents the strong maternal instinct to protect, wisdom, and the wildness of Alaska.

Finally, you see the ravens flying.  In Europe, the raven represents death, but in Alaska the raven is revered for its intelligence and ability to endure.  In the Ophelia Dawson stories, the raven represents the Benevolent Oldbloods, the good vampires.

I love symbols.  I guess because I’m such a visual thinker.  You can convey so much meaning in one image.  It’s powerful.

Thank you, Tia, for having me here today!

~*~

Sweet Bytes
by Kimber An

Ophelia’s escape from Martin, an Addicted Newblood, came at a terrible sacrifice.  Adrian, the boy she loves, is now infected and hunted like vermin.

As her new Protector, Tristan Li represents the Oldblood determination to destroy Adrian, along with all the Newbloods, addicted or not.

In her grief, Ophelia hates everything about Tristan, until his subtle strength empowers her to resist being turned into a vampire by the High Prefect.

As Tristan helps Ophelia harness her empathic ability, his need for redemption rings in her heart.  Her own strength grows, along with her passion for freedom.

The veil of mourning lifts.

The evil of Martin returns.

Ophelia seizes ownership of her destiny.

 

Putting the Punk in Steampunk – Guest Post

Christine Bell is an author of naughty fairy tales, werewolves now steampunk. Her story is called The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale. She has a rather fun bio and I’m in a hurry to post this, so here it is:

Christine Bell is one half of the happiest couple in the world. She and her handsome hubby currently reside in Pennsylvania with a four-pack of teenage boys and their two dogs, Gimli and Pug. If she gets time off from her duties as maid, chef, chauffeur, or therapist, she can be found reading just about anything she can get her hands on, from Young Adult novels to books on poker theory. She doesn’t like root beer, clowns or bugs (except ladybugs, on account of their cute outfits), but lurrves chocolate, going to the movies, the New York Giants and playing Texas Hold ‘Em. Writing is her passion, but if she had to pick another occupation, she would be a pirate…or, like, a ninja maybe. She loves writing fun and adventure-filled romance stories, but also hopes to one day publish something her dad can read without wanting to dig his eyes out with rusty spoons.

~*~

First, I want to thank Tia for having me! I’m such a huge fan of The Sevenfold Spell and can’t wait (foot tap) for her next release.

It’s Steampunk Week at Carina Press so I thought it apropos to talk a little about putting the PUNK in steampunk. When people think of this hot new sub-genre, we often think of dirigibles and corsets, of goggles and bowler hats, of alternate worlds featuring fantastical machines, possibly made from gears, and powered by steam. Granted, those are all definitely part of the steampunk aesthetic.

There’s also this intangible quality to it, an almost “you know it when you see it” type of feel. I like to say that if steampunk was a movie it would star Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, be directed by Tim Burton, and the score would be done by Danny Elfman.

Yet another aspect of steampunk is often a dystopian society (i.e. what happened after mechanical monsters took over the world). That can go hand in hand with the last, less talked about facet of steampunk, which is the “punk” part. In order to fall under the umbrella of a punk movement, there is typically a sort of anti-establishment thread woven into the fabric of the discourse. To my mind, steampunk is no different.

Let’s use Meljean Brooke’s The Iron Duke as an example, because…well, because it’s a really good book, PLUS is illustrates my point perfectly! Meljean created a swashbuckling tale of sky pirates and nanobots, and paired it with a really well-done love story. With its top notch world-building and fast pace, I was so entertained, it didn’t strike me until afterward that she’d also masterfully woven a poignant critique of imperialism, colonialism and racism into this tapestry.

While she doesn’t shove it in your face as such, there is no question that it’s there lurking under the surface of every page. It’s evident in the way her protagonist, Mina Wentworth, is treated by others due to her appearance and her blood line. The way the Horde views its victims. The nature of Horde-run “crèche’s” where many children were kept. The world has suffered enough major and well-documented periods of class/race/sexual discrimination, apartheid, oppression, genocide etc. that we know a nod to a particular instance when we see it, and there were nods left and right in The Iron Duke.

I loved that about The Iron Duke, because that’s the part that had me thinking about it long after I turned the last page (who am I kidding? I mean pressed the last next-page arrow on my Kindle). While it doesn’t have the theatricality that the other elements of steampunk have, it’s the one I feel really sets the sub-genre apart from science fiction or fantasy. Not to say that sci-fi and fantasy can’t have anti-establishment underpinnings, just that it’s not integral to the genres, whereas with steampunk, in my opinion, it is to some degree.

This probably seems funny coming from me, especially if you’ve read or heard about my book, The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale. To steal a phrase from fab author Cindy Spencer Pape, it’s “steampunk light.” I love steampunk that mixes in other genres, maybe some paranormal, definitely romance, or maybe even a hint of a twisted fairytale. So when I wrote this novella, I picked the parts I loved most about traditional steampunk and skipped others. I skipped the fantastical world-building. Stormy is set in a world that is pretty much just like the regular world was during the Victorian era. My characters are the only ones who know about time travel and the various mechanical inventions that facilitate their journeys. I also didn’t make mine a dystopian society and while, at points, it’s certainly emotional, the overall tone is not dark. In mine, the romance takes center stage, the time travel element is stronger than the steam-element, the characters have a lot of banter and my heroine is full of piss, vinegar and snark. And I like it like that. That’s the story I wanted to write.

BUT, even with all that, there is a message buried in there. Stormy wears pants when everyone else wears dresses, she’d rather be brave than pretty, she rails against the injustices of society based on class and works to right the wrongs heaped on the impoverished. My hero Devlin’s plight shines a light on the way society views the mentally ill and the way the aristocracy views the poor. It’s not exactly a rage against the machine or anything, but this book stands for something and my characters buck the status quo in many ways.

Right now, I’m working on the sequel to this tale, tentatively titled From the Logs of Bacon Frogs which will chronicle Stormy, Devlin and Bacon’s unexpected trip back to 17th century Salem, Massachusetts. There will be mayhem, and romance, and adventure. There will be time travel, and goggles and corsets. And, my trio of characters will again stand up and fight for the oppressed!

Because I like my steampunk with at least a dash of punk.

Please tell me, Tia Nevitt blog readers, how do you like yours? Do you feel like there are some facets of steampunk that are non-negotiable? What has been your favorite steampunk read so far?

~*~

Learn more about Christine’s book at her website Books page. In the meantime, Christine wants to give away a copy of Stormy and a set of her trading cards, one of which is to the right. So if you want to enter, please leave a comment!

Guest Post – Third Person: More Intimate than First?

Susanna Fraser‘s first novel, The Sergeant’s Lady, came out last year, and I reviewed it here. A Marriage of Inconvenience is her followup novel, and it takes place before the events of The Sergeant’s Lady. She’s a great blogger. Were it not for her, I would never have known that the Duke of Wellington was hot. Here she talks about first vs. third person, and why in Romance, third person is so prevalent.

When Third Person is More Intimate Than First

One of the first decisions an author makes in sitting down to write a new book is which point of view to use. Almost every book you’ve ever read is in first or third person. For those of you not familiar with the terminology, in first-person books, the storyteller is “I.” In third person, the storyteller is “he” or “she.”

(On very rare occasions, you’ll encounter a story told in second person–in other words, where the storyteller is “you.” And there are variations within first and third person.  Occasionally first-person books use two narrators, alternating between them. And within third person, the author has almost infinite choice about how many characters’ points of view to use and whether to take a “limited” approach–only showing you what the point of view character sees and knows–or an “omniscient” approach, where the narrator is a sort of God figure who sees, hears, and tells the reader all.)

Most romance novels are written in third person limited, using the points of view of the hero the heroine and possibly a villain or other secondary character or two. I didn’t know this when I sat down to write the first draft of my new Carina release, A Marriage of Inconvenience. Frankly, I didn’t even know I was writing a romance novel then. I just had a character I couldn’t get out of my head, so I started writing about her. I used first-person because it felt natural to do so.  It was a good way to let Lucy, my heroine, tell her story, and for me to show readers what was going on in the mind of this outwardly meek and reserved character.

After my early attempts to sell that first-person version of A Marriage of Inconvenience failed, I set it aside for a year to write my second manuscript, The Sergeant’s Lady, which was to become my first published book. By then I understood more about genre expectations, and in writing my second manuscript I grew comfortable with third person limited. So I decided to revisit Marriage and see how it worked in third person.

It worked much better, I discovered. Partly that was because using the hero’s point of view and those of some of my secondary characters added greater richness to the story. But the main reason third person worked better is that it allowed for greater intimacy. That sounds counterintuitive. All the writing advice books say the first person is the most intimate choice. Since the character is “I,” the reader is explicitly invited to identify with the character. The narrator is telling the story herself; she’s giving us a window on her soul. What could be more intimate than that?

All that may be true with a character who wants to bare his or her soul–and body. For example, I think the first-person epic fantasies written by Jacqueline Carey work beautifully because her characters are uninhibited enough to invite the reader into their lives.  Her courtesan heroine, living in a culture where sex is a form of worship, will gladly tell you all about her sex life. And everything else. My Lucy will never be quite that forthcoming. She starts the story quite inhibited. And though she learns to let go and even get a bit kinky with the hero, she would never, ever talk about it to anyone but her husband. She was born in England in 1791, and she’s a creature of her place and time. So in first person, written as if Lucy was penning her own memoir, I would need to make the sex scenes fade to black. Lucy wouldn’t tell it any other way.

However, in third person, Lucy isn’t quite telling the story. I, the author, am in Lucy’s head, telling you what’s happening there, even the things she’d rather keep secret. At least in this case, it makes for a far more intimate story and a better romance.

I’m not sorry I wrote that first draft in first person, though. Writing in first person is a wonderful exercise to train yourself to write well in third person limited. When you write in first person, you can’t tell us anything that that character doesn’t know or see the world through any eyes other than hers. It’s really obvious when you cheat by having your character read other characters’ minds (unless, of course, you’re writing a paranormal and that’s your character’s ability). Having written my first book in first-person, I find I’m not even tempted to head hop.

What about you? Do you like first-person stories? Are there some kinds of stories you think work better in first person or third person? Writers, do you mix up your point of view choices, or do you have a favorite you stick with? One commenter wins a copy of A Marriage of Inconvenience.

Blurb for A Marriage of Inconvenience:

Lucy Jones is a nobody. As an orphan she was reluctantly taken in by her wealthy relatives, the Arringtons, on the condition that she be silent and obedient, always. When her lifelong infatuation with her cousin Sebastian is rewarded by a proposal of marriage, she’s happy and grateful, even though the family finds excuses to keep the engagement a secret.

James Wright-Gordon has always had the benefits of money and a high station in society, but he is no snob. He’s very close to his sister, Anna, who quickly falls for the dashing Sebastian when the families are brought together at a wedding party. Meanwhile, James is struck by Lucy’s quiet intelligence, and drawn to her despite their different circumstances in life.

Lucy suspects that Sebastian has fallen for Anna, but before she can set him free, a terrible secret is revealed that shakes both families. Will James come to her rescue—or abandon her to poverty?