Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat


Stripped of his identity at the death of his father, the king of Akielos, Prince Damianos is consigned to slavery by his half-brother who has usurped the throne. 'Gifted' as a pleasure slave to Prince Laurent of Vere, deadly enemy of the kingdom of Akielos the renamed 'Damen' must submit to his new position while desperately trying to find a means of escape before his identity is revealed and his execution assured.

Captive Prince is a debut from Australian author C.S. Pacat and it is a compelling (for some it will be confronting) tale of politics, deception, power, manipulation and sex. Told from Damen's perspective and coloured by his upbringing in a more warrior-like society than the decadent, pleasure-filled and poisonous one he finds himself thrust into, it is at its heart a love story between captor and captive that slowly builds in a world where sexuality is not constrained by social norms but is liberated by them.

While the marketing department of the publisher is attempting to link Captive Prince into the Game of Thrones audience it is very different to Martin's work. Not least as this is a love story between two men.

Captive Prince is an epic and decadent tale told on a grand, yet still intimate, scale. Full of stunning vistas, two warring Kingdoms, bejewelled pets/slaves and human interaction, it is beautifully crafted and seamlessly plotted wielding court intrigue and betrayals against the strength of hope and honour. Luckily book two, Captive's Gambit is not far off.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Importance of an Editor - and a Manuscript Assessment

I have been reading for years (and years), have beta-read for other authors and review books frequently, but when it comes to writing itself, I am very much still learning my craft for a reader does not a writer make – at least, not entirely. 

Being asked to beta-read has taught me how read critically, to recognise ‘good’ writing from ‘poor’ and to be able to identify plot structure and characterisation rather than just enjoy the read (or not) without thinking any more about it. But identifying issues within your own work is a challenge, especially when you know story, because sometimes what is in your head is not on the page but you can’t see that it’s missing. 

Like any aspiring writer I want to give myself the best possible chance of getting my work published. Working in the bookselling industry I am lucky enough to have a number of contacts who will look at my work – but that is no guarantee of an offer.  So I decided that when my manuscript was ready for beta-reader feedback it would also be ready for an assessment by a freelance editor.


Some writers bulk at the expense of hiring an editor to assess their manuscript. After all, isn't it the job of an editor at a publishing house to go through your work and make it better? Well sure, in a perfect world. But few editors in a publishing house have the time to give a manuscript from a new author that sort of a love and attention. If you want your work to stand out - and to be considered publishable at all - then you need to go the hard yards, and invest in yourself, to polish it within an inch of its life.

I sent my precious manuscript to Abigail at Bothersome Words and the entire experience has been fantastic. I now have an assessment that is making me look at my work through ‘new’ eyes – and furthered my education in the art of prose which I will take with me when I begin the first draft of my next book. I have a detailed and unbiased analysis of the plot and of each character, as well as notes on pacing, questions on world building, examples of showing and telling (and overwriting) in my prose as well as points on its overall cohesion.

Getting an assessment of my work has helped me craft a plan of attack for my 5th (and final – I hope) draft and pointed things out to me that I was just too close to the work to see. Seeking assistance from someone who works with the written word for a living has benefited me in ways that have already changed how I approach each stage of working on a novel – not to mention in ways I have not even noticed yet – and I highly recommend it. I will definitely be working with Abigail Nathan at Bothersome Words again.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Blood of the Spear - WiP Report 2

I've just come back from two weeks of a annual leave and the 5th draft of TBotS is now sitting at 56% complete.

I had a lovely time imagining that I was a full-time writer, working for myself. I was up at 7am every morning , coffee in hand, and writing until 9am to stop for breakfast before going back to the pc to continue until about 11am or so, which gave me the rest of the day to myself.

Image from getwrite.com


Such bliss. I could do this for a living, ya know?

Sigh.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, my novel has two main characters, half-brothers Kaiel and Darien Toranth, and much of the novel is written from their PoV. In this final (I hope) draft I have collected each characters chapters and am working through them so I can focus on their voice without distraction. I have completed Kaiel's chapters and am about half way through Darien's

Unfortunately being back at work means my progress will slow down some given I can only concentrate on the manuscript on weekends - I am just too tired after work to get much done in the evening at the moment.

AND I have realised that the entire middle sequence (of about 4 chapters) is not working. Brainstorming on my break I have worked out how to approach it and rework but I will wait until I have finished this pass on the PoV's and put all the chapters back together. THEN I will work on the middle, re-jig the prologue and send the manuscript back out to beta-readers for a final look.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Must Read

You have no idea of my excitement. I couldn't possibly describe it to you even if I tried.

I have been waiting for this book for a long time (not that Michelle has not been writing but I've been waiting for this particular part of the story!).

It had completely dropped off my radar as well - and for that I feel deeply ashamed.

If you don't read Michelle West you are missing out on awesomeness!



Beneath the streets of Averalaan, capital city of the Essalieyan Empire, lie the three Princes of the firstborn, doomed to sleep until the end of days. When gods walked the world, they feared the Sleepers. They fear them even now. If the Sleepers wake, the city will not survive—and the Sleepers are waking. 

House Terafin has already felt the con­sequences of their stirring. 

To save the city—and the House over which she rules—Jewel Markess ATerafin must go to face the Oracle. She leaves a House that is still divided, and a city in which demons, in human guise, have begun to move. At no time in Terafin’s history has it faced the dangers it now faces, and it will face them bereft of its leader. 

Jewel has always seen unpredictable glimpses of the future—images of death and destruction which she cannot control and cannot always understand. To master her birthright, she chooses to walk the path of the Oracle. In her hands, she carries the only hope of the Winter Queen. 

But the path she must travel was old when the gods ceased to walk the world. Ancient creatures stalk winter skies at the behest of the demons, who mean to ensure that she will never reach the Oracle’s side.

Secrets, long hidden from all but the first­born, will finally be brought to light. Choices will be made, and paths chosen, from which there will be no return.... 

Oracle is the intricate sixth novel in The House War series. Set in the same rich fantasy universe as Michelle West’s Sacred Hunt duology and her six-book Sun Sword series, the House War novels recount the events leading to the momentous final con­frontation between the demonic minions of the Lord of the Hells and the defenders of the Essalieyan Empire—a realm with a long and bloody history.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Maps

To map or not to map? That is the question.

Actually it's not a question at all - I am mapping in my book. I don't understand fantasy books without maps; it's never made sense to me. You (the author) have created a whole new world with mountain ranges and deserts and peninsulas and oceans... give me a visual on what the landscape looks like! Let me get an idea of the surrounding environment of the village our hero(es) starts in. Or the great city that is their home.

I dig all that.
A map of Thedas from the DragonAge games (mine own map isn't this pretty - yet)

In fact it is one of the first things I do when I world build. Once I know who main character is and have a sense of what they will go though and know where they will end up (the beginning and ending are always clear for me, the middle bits are more discovery) then I have to know where they are. What is the stage they are on? The environment that surrounds them?

Creating the landscape and the shape of their world leads into its back story, its history. The rise and fall of empires and kingdoms; wars and conquests and cultures. All of this is vital for my process. Story is important, the characters, their tale and its execution, of course. But the story of the land, the world around them is of equal import - even it if its true depth is never delved in the tale I am setting to paper (or word doc as the case may be/is).

But everybody is different and a story should definitely be able to stand on its own without a map. Flipping to the front pages of a novel whenever a new kingdom or city is mentioned is something I enjoy but other readers (and authors) can't be bothered with. Horses for courses.

But I love me a good map :)