Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Smugglers Cave

I took the kids rockhopping over to the Smugglers Cave. It looks like no more than a crack in the cliff face from a distance, but when we slipped inside we found this tunnel, hewn into the solid rock.

t was very dark and we scrambled and bumped our way over the boulders with only our torches to light our way.

After a while the tunnel took a 90 Deg turn and suddenly ended at this shaft.

I told the kids that this was where the smugglers brought their booty ashore and stored it. The people in the house at the top of the shaft were in on it and used to use the shaft to bring the contraband to the surface on dark stormy nights when there was nobody about to watch their illegal activities. There they would load it onto carts to take to the mainland. And they never got caught ... until one day a young girl.....

I think that's much more exciting than being a service tunnel for the old pump that was used to supply water to the naval base, don't you?

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Guest Author: David Bridger.

Please welcome today’s guest, David Bridger. David’s debut novella ‘Beauty and the Bastard’ has just been released as an e-book from Liquid Silver Books

Hello David, Welcome to the Scribbling SeaSerpent.

Thank you for inviting me to the Scribbling Serpent, Kate. It's a pleasure to be here.

Please could you tell us a bit about ‘Beauty and the Bastard’?

Beauty and the Bastard is a paranormal romance novella about a dangerous love in dangerous times, involving a tortured fallen angel who works as a bounty hunter for powerful urban demon families, and the modern-day demon princess he is hired to protect when those who mean her harm get too close for comfort.

What draws you to Paranormal Romance?

I love paranormal romance, and her brother genre urban fantasy, for their dark and delicious danger. I love the battered and bruised characters who strive to find light in the darkness against all odds and most people's better judgement. And I love the coolness of it all. These are very cool genres.

The e-book market is fairly new. How do you see it evolving?

The ease of self-publishing via ebooks and POD has exploded the potential for every man and his dog to put their stuff out there. But I honestly don't believe this huge wave of self-published (and largely unedited, and therefore quite often rubbish) books will pose any threat to anyone. I don't think it will do much of anything, really, except just sit there.

The only authors who will thrive in that medium are the ones who would thrive anyway - or who are already thriving. Good writers, in other words, many of whom are already published and who are extending their reach via self-publishing.

Professionally published ebooks come from two different segments of the industry.

There are the ebook-first ones, such as those from a small group of well-established and very succesful epublishers of the various romance sub-genres. My publisher is one of them. In my opinion, these guys have it sussed. Their authors and readers are respected, well-treated and happy, and who can ask for more than that?

Then there are the traditional publishers who are trying to muscle in on the ebook market, mostly through fear. Their sweaty desperation is clear to see, and they're throwing their weight around the same way they always have. If they had any common sense and really wanted to learn how to succeed in the electronic market, they would study how dedicated epublishers go about their business. But I won't hold my breath on that one.

Do you need to buy and e-book reader in order to enjoy an e-book?

No. I don't have one, but that doesn't stop me from buying about 50% of the books I read from epublishers. I'm quite comfortable reading on my PC screen, actually, and I use my netbook as an ereader when I want to take a proper break from the computer.

So how does it feel to be published?

Absolutely bloody brilliant!

Honestly, I'm over the moon. I was about to trot out the "words fail me" phrase just then, but that's even less true right now than it usually is. So I'll dam the enthusiastic river and just say: it's wonderful.

Can you tell us about your journey to publication?

I always wanted to writing novels when I came home from sea eventually, but I didn't expect that homecoming to happen traumatically and in my early thirties. I was badly injured and it took me several years to regain movement and mobility. Learning how to write novels helped me stay sane during that long process.

And once I thought I'd cracked the creative learning bit, when my first novel was complete and I thought I was ready to start learning the business side of writing, that's when I really started to learn.

Joining a good writing community was an invaluable step in the right direction at that point, as was finding and joining other communities along the way and, later again, teaming up with my wonderful crit partners. Without those most excellent people, I'd still be stumbling around in the wilderness.

So what else do you have in the pipeline?

I'm writing another paranormal romance at the moment. It's set in the same world as Beauty and the Bastard, but features a new cast of characters. I love it!

Thankyou David for stopping by. And you can buy Beauty and the Bastard here.

Monday, 12 July 2010

What Happened at Frome

Yesterday I attended the Words at Frome Writers and Publishers Day at the Frome Library. It was the first time I had attended on of these events and it was a fascinating experience – I talked to some interesting people and learned quite a bit along the way.

Anyway, I thought I would share some of my experiences with you.

Well Frome is quite a trek for me to get to – there’s no easy route, so it was a good thing I hadn’t already bought a ticket for the first talk because I would have missed most of it. Still, chilling out after the long drive in the sunshine with a coffee was rather pleasant and everyone there seemed to be very friendly.

A group of self published authors were setting up a stall nearby and it wasn’t long before I was chatting to them. Now I don’t buy self published books as a matter of principle. I’m sure there are some good ones out there but when I’ve bought one in the past (usually more to be polite because I know the person) I’ve always been disappointed and I don’t think I’ve ever finished one.

So these guys kept telling me about their books and handing them to me and I kept putting them back down, After a while one of them frowned at me and said:

“You’re not going to buy anything are you?”

To which I’m afraid my answer was “No.” But all credit to them they took it in good heart and were an interesting bunch of people to talk to.

Then I managed to hook up with a couple of people I do know. Well, one person I know in real life from my real life writers group and the other a friend from Cyberspace – Journeygirl from Litopia. It can be strange meeting up with other Litopians – staring at someone wondering if they fit the description they’ve given you, but for some reason we recognised each other the moment our eyes met. And she’s a scientist too!! Yay – let’s hear it for women in science!

But I digress. Back to the festival:

I attended two talks.

The first was the short story prize giving, which I went along to with my writing group buddy. The overview of the stories was very interesting, but two things stood out immediately. First the fact that a number of the shortlisted stories had been sent off to women’s magazines and the second was when the lady giving the summary went through her pet hates in a short story – you know the sort of stuff – telling not showing, inconsistent POV, bad grammar and spelling and Science Fiction.

Yup, you heard me. SF was on the pet hates list.

When she said that my friend and I rolled our eyes and looked at each other. Oh dear. Well at least we now know why our entries didn’t get anywhere.

In fact all the shortlisted stories were very much in the women’s fiction genre, and I also noticed that there wasn’t a single man amongst the finalists!

I think that’s really quite telling!

Since I don’t write women’s fiction I don’t think I’ll enter this one again.

The second talk was on how to get an Agent for your Children’s Book given by – yes – you guessed – an Agent. It was an excellent talk packed with useful advice. I sat there, frantically scribbling notes (and noticed the woman beside me was doing the same.) I just hope I can read my own handwriting.

And of course, I had a 1:2:1 with said Literary Agent. But I’ll tell you all about that next time.

So all in all, my first foray to one of these events was an excellent experience –. I was quite nervous but everyone was so welcoming. Bring on the next one! I’ll be there.

And if you’ve never ventured to one of these yourself then do it! You won’t regret it!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Analysis: The Thieves of Ostia by Caroline Lawrence

This is the first novel in the Roman Mysteries series. I picked it up in an offer in Waterstones and gave it to my daughter to read since they were doing the Romans in school at that time.

She devoured it, worked her way through all the subsequent stories that were published, and then waited eagerly for each new volume to appear dragging me into town so that I could buy it for her. So I thought I’d better read one of them to find out what it was that gave them their appeal. Actually I’ve read a few of them because they’re really rather good, but I’m just going to concentrate on the first one here.

This is a wonderful book that really brings Ancient Rome to life – you can almost taste the figs and smell the dusty streets. And it’s a good story – an adventure mystery set in the ancient world.

But what I think gives this book its appeal is the characters. We have Flavia, a well bred Roman girl, her slave Nubia, Jonathan the Jewish boy next door (who is really a Christian) and Lupus the deaf mute beggar boy. These are a group of characters that are really well drawn and authentic, that the reader really empathises with and cares about. They have great depth and each of them reflects an aspect of Roman society. They drive the story forwards and when the novel ends you don’t want to leave them.

My analysis: Engaging Characters