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It’s NaNoWriMo Time Again, and I’m Piloting Fury!

Scribe-computer-keyboardMG_07771-225x300I love November! November is National Novel Writing Month! I love the camaraderie, I love the challenge and I love the endless possibilities and the way the creative energy simply explodes in unexpected ways when I have only thirty days to finish a novel. Most of you already know that my latest release, The Tutor, got written last year during NaNoWriMo, and I had so much fun, that I decided to try it again this year.

 

What I wasn’t expecting was the I’d be making my first ever attempt at a Science Fiction novel, which I’m calling, Piloting Fury. To celebrate NaNoWriMo 2016, I’m sharing a little of my WIP with you lovelies today. This is the beginning of the first chapter. Please remember this is only a work in progress and this is the first draft, but I’m rather pleased with the direction Fury is heading already. Hope you enjoy.

 

Piloting Fury Blurb:

“Win the bet and the Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.” It seemed like a no-brainer, Rick Manning’s slightly inebriated offer. If he’d been sober, he’d have remembered Diana “Mac” McAlister never lost a bet. All her she life she’d dreamed of owning her own starship, and when the Fury’s ne’er-do-well, irritating as hell captain all but hands the Fury to her on a silver platter she figures she can’t lose. But she does. That’s how the best pilot in the galaxy finds herself the indentured 2nd mate of a crew that, thanks to her, has doubled in size. Too late, she finds out the Fury is way more than a cargo ship. It’s a ship with a history — one Mac may not be able to live with and one that she’s been a part of for a lot longer that she could imagine, and Rick Manning was not above fixing a bet to get her right at the center of it all, exactly where he needs her to be.

 

Piloting Fury Excerpt — The Bet:

 

“Win the bet and the Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.” Rick Manning was more than a little bit drunk. He had to be to make that sort of bet with me. Everyone knows you don’t gamble with Diana Mac unless you want to lose. I never lost – ever! What gambling I managed in spaceports was my income, and I hoarded it all obsessively. Every credit of it went toward paying off the contract of my indenture. Nope! I never lose because I can’t afford to, and yet here I stood on the small but efficient deck of the Fury, reporting to Rick fucking Manning, and the bastard was nowhere to be found. “Probably sleeping it off in some whore’s bed,” I growled under my breath.

“You cheated, you bastard!” I said more loudly. Even if he heard me, what the hell was he gonna do, dock my wages, crest-05e1a637392425b4d5225780797e5a76throw me in the brig? “I know you cheated, I just don’t know how you did it,” I said out loud to the console, which, in spite of my anger at Manning, already had me intrigued. OK — Pilot! I confess. Even visions of strangling Rick Manning with a New Hibernian cryo-whip couldn’t hold my imagination quite like the console of a new ship – even if it was one I was now indentured to for who the hell knew how many galactic years. I’m not bragging when I say I’m the best pilot in the galaxy, and that means I’ve never met the spacefaring ship I couldn’t fly. Not that I got that many opportunities indentured to the Dubrovnik, but Captain Harker had fattened his pocket more than once by betting on me in an impromptu race of some sort. Of course the ship was never my own, and that made the bet even more interesting. No one ever saw it coming. In spite of my crap situation, I couldn’t help admiring the clean lines and the efficient arrangement of the Fury’s controls. Already I was jonesing to see what the ship could do, and the truth was that the Fury was one helluva ship – not a new one, by any means. Hell I doubted if Manning even knew what the original make was. If the entire ship wasn’t glued together with spare parts, I’d be surprised, and yet leave it to Manning to win, steal, smuggle and finagled some of the best, state of the art, components in the galaxy. I only knew that because he and I got drunk together on Diga Prim waiting out a lava storm one night in a bar. The man was as proud of his ship as he was his cock and, while I’d made it a point not to check out the latter, I’d wanted to check out the Fury for a long time. Just not like this.

I flopped down in the pilot’s seat, which strangely enough felt as though it molded to fit my butt. I knew for a fact that Manning’s ass needed a little more space than mine did, and so did his broad shoulders, which while I had admired in more than a few space ports where we’d had the misfortunate to ran into each other, I now loathed with a loathing hotter than the fiery pits of Diga Prime, and envisioned kicking that very fine ass out the airlock somewhere in the Outer Rim. But thanks to the fine mess the cheating scumbag had gotten me into, I couldn’t even do that, and it had been such a sure thing. I was sitting pretty, wasn’t I? The newly healed incision on my forearm itched like crazy, and while it was already all but invisible, it was far better than any manacles Manning could have slapped on me. I should have known. I should have suspected something, but I was too busy patting myself on my back for my good fortune, too greedy for more.

I should have suspected something when Manning lost a small fortune to me in game after game of Sandirian poker. At the time, the man wasn’t yet too drunk to make intelligent decisions, and I knew for a fact he wasn’t a gambling addict. I’d heard about addicts who had gambled away far larger fortunes than the one Manning had amassed, which was just enough to buy back my indenture with a nice little nest egg to tide me over until I could find other work. Nope, Manning was a lightweight when it came to gambling losses. In fact a minor satrap was legendary for gambling away a whole planetoid out at the edge of the Orion Nebula. I just figured it was a cock thing with Manning. I recognized the signs. The skirt had worked its magic just like it always did with lonely, horny sailors in spaceport hoping to get laid. Men or women – it didn’t really matter. If they gave me that look and offered to buy me a drink, I knew I had them. They all just assumed because I was sitting alone, shuffling a deck of cards, I was as lonely and as in need of entertainment as they were. And then there was Rick Manning. He’d been doing his best for the past several galactic years to get me in bed. By now it had become a game between us. He flirted with me, and I let it roll right over me. I liked the banter. I liked the fact that we had intelligent, often witty conversations in between his flirtatious, but harmless advances. It was what we did, the two of us, so why should I think anything was particularly different about last night, and yet the man had lost everything he had, all of his life savings and all he could do was chuckle.

“It’s your hair, Mac,” he said, as he motioned over a notary to make the transaction legal. “And when you wear that dress and let your hair down like that, of course a man’s gonna lose. And you, you little minx, that’s what you’re counting on, isn’t it?”

I rubbed my fingers together indicating money. “My entire income depends on me making it work, indentured here, remember?” I laid a palm against my chest. “But if it’ll help,” I grabbed up the band that had secured the battered deck of cards and pulled my hair back in it. “The dress I can’t do anything about. Other than my uniform, which is back on the Dubrovnik, I don’t own anything else.” I truly did live close to the bone. But that was about to end, wasn’t it?

He leaned over the table and offered a smile that would have shamed the Suns of Valoxia. “Well that’s a start. Tell you what, one more hand and I’ll bet my jacket.” If you win, you can cover up a little bit and maybe give me an even chance, and if you lose,” he looked me up and down.

“I won’t,” I said shoving the deck of cards across the table to him.”

He took them and began to shuffle, his eyes still locked on mine. “If you lose, then I get your clothes. All of them.”

“I won’t,” I repeated organizing my cards as he handed them over.

In no time at all I was bundled up in a vintage flight jacket that Manning swore up and down was a real Terran relic he’d one in a poker game he’d apparently done much better in that he was doing in this one. He slugged back another New Hibernian whisky and the barmaid, who bent so he got a good view down her bustier, brought him another one. I laid down enough credits to pay for my drinks and stood. “Gotta go, Manning. You’ve got nothing left I can win off of you, and I sure as hell don’t want the clothes off your back.”

“Not so fast, Mac,” he said, his words not exactly slurred, but getting pretty close. He blocked my exit with an extended leg, nodded back to my chair and with a wave of his wrist sent the barmaid scurrying for another whisky for me. “You can’t leave till I’ve had a chance to win back all my shit.”

“I can, and I will,” I said, stepping over his leg, but even half drunk, Manning was fast, he lifted his thigh, effectively high-centering me and ending me up in his lap. He curled a thick finger around a strand of hair that had escaped my make-shift pony tale and, I remember thinking it strange that he smelled more like a man who’d been enjoying a trek or a camping trip in the National Parks of the Beledine than someone three sheets to the wind on cheap-assed whisky. I even remember not minding his flirtations at the time, but then why would I when I was a free woman at last, one with a very nice jacket, even if it was considerably too big.

“I do have something I can bet.” His breath was warm against my ear, and I felt the buzz of my own generous alcohol consumption that made me think I just might take him up on what I figured he was about to offer me as apart of my drunken celebration of my freedom. After all, an indentured didn’t have a lot of free time for sex, and for me, when I did have the time, I was trying to manage a few more credits toward my freedom.

“Oh that,” I nodded down to his lap and gave a little laugh. “I figure I can have that without wagering for it.”

The chuckle he returned sounded positively animal, and his lips quirked into a crooked smile. “And while I can think of nothing I would enjoy more than a good shag in the sheets with you, Mac, that wouldn’t win me back my stuff now would it?”

I was about to say since he had nothing to offer I saw no point. I was about to walk out the door of the bar free and clear, go straight to Captain Harker and pay off the contract of my indenture and see what it felt like to sleep and wake up as a free woman. That’s what I should have done, in retrospect, but then Manning dropped the bomb.

“One more hand, Mac. Just one. Win the bet and the Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.”

Fuck me! If he hadn’t been holding onto me, I would have fallen right off onto the floor. Now I’m not a woman who is often speechless, though as an indentured, I know when to keep my mouth shut, but this time, all I could do was make a couple of fish gasps as he gave me that look I was sure had gotten more than a few women in his bed and probably worked just as well getting him out of trouble with the authorities when his cargo was less than copasetic.

“What do you say, Mac? You up for it? I’m betting the Fury along with the next three contracts I have to fill.” He shrugged. “If I don’t have a ship, I can’t fulfill the contracts, right? Come on. Give me at least one more chance.”

“Your ship? You want to bet the Fury?” I stumbled off his lap all but falling on my ass before I made it back to my chair, and he was already motioning the notary over.

“What does this mean, her ass is yours?” The notary asked, with a strong New Hibernian accent. “You know I need specifics.”

“He wants me to fuck him, if I lose,” I clarified. Me arrogant? Huh! I could already picture myself easing the sleek bulk of the Fury out of dock and seeing what the ship could do in open space.

There were three other tables demanding the attention of the notary, and the fact that such a big wager had to be witnessed wasn’t making them or him very happy. “Well I can hardly write that down, can I?”

Manning rolled his eyes and grabbed the notary’s device using the touch pad to type in whatever was a good euphemism for the thing I was certain wasn’t going to happen, and I was so sure of myself, so positive that the Fury was already mine, that I didn’t bother to look at what he wrote. I just placed my thumb against the DNA reader on the keypad and the notary grunted his approval, nodding to the barmaid who brought over a sealed pack of cards. Manning settled her on his lap – for luck, he said, as he shuffled the cards, considerably longer than necessary, but then I could be patient when I would be walking away with the price of my freedom plus change and a bright shiny starship of my very own. I certainly wasn’t worried about Manning. He was a respectable pilot – not as good as I am, but not bad Writing pen and birds 1_xl_20156020either, and he was one cunning sonovabitch. He’d land on his feet no matter what happened.

When he dealt me three tens, I figured I was in like Flin. The vacuous barmaid was too busy playing with Manning’s bronze curles to give anything away, and really, while she might meet him after hours and commiserate with a good fuck, she wasn’t at all interested in the outcome. Looking back, I should have thought that strange. I should have thought the whole situation strange, that a man was about to bet his fucking starship to a woman who had a reputation for never losing. Looking back, I should have thought of a lot of things, but all I could think about was that in one glorious night, I would gain my freedom and a starship with contracts pending.

I sure as hell wasn’t thinking about Rick Manning pulling a straight flush. But that’s exactly what the bastard did. Winner takes it all.

 

Jane Riddell Shares How to Get Your Words’ Worth

I’m very pleased to have editor and novelist, Jane Riddell, at my place today. Every writer has nightmares about not giving their babies the best possible editing, and nothing. We certainly want the best for our readers. Knowing my own angst about giving my book the best editing, I jumped at the chance to have Jane on my blog so that I could pick her brain for some ideas that might help both writers and readers at the end of the day. And so that she could tell you all about her wonderful new book on editing, Words’ Worth. Welcome, Jane!

 

book-cover-guide-a-4-smallKD: Jane, what inspired you to write a book about editing?

 

JANE: When I began editing my first novel, Daughters of the Lake, I had a small list of things to check for but found myself constantly adding to it. The more I learned about writing, the more things I felt required checking. It felt overwhelming, so I decided to put my checklists into table form, so that I could tick things off when I’d done them. It also meant that I didn’t have to follow a particular order in my checklist because I knew exactly what had and hadn’t been done.

When finding myself longing to explain my system to any writer who’d listen, it became obvious that I should turn it into a book and hence Words’Worth: a fiction writer’s guide to serious editing was created. It’s a small guide – 54 pages – but more comprehensive than it looks at first sight. I continue to use this method of editing my novels because it works, although it takes time and can be tedious.

 

KD: Tell us a bit about yourself, Jane, and about your other books.

 

JANE: I came to writing seriously quite late in life. For many years it was a hobby, something I fitted in around work. When we planned to move to France for three years (2006 – 2009), I knew I wouldn’t be able work there with such limited French. A month or so before we left, on a wet Saturday afternoon at the gym, walking on a treadmill and listening to Martha Reeves and the Vandellas singing Dancing in the Street, I had a defining moment.: I thought ‘I’ll give writing a go.’ And I haven’t looked back. Interestingly, it was only during our second year in Grenoble that I was able to tell people I’m a writer, without that critical demon in my head accusing me of being a fraud.

My first novel was Daughters of the Lake, a contemporary family drama set in Switzerland. The idea came for this while I was on holiday in Brunnen on beautiful Lake Luzern in Switzerland. It’s told in four viewpoints – the mother’s and those of her three daughters. I think that at a subconscious level it was inspired by Anita Brookner’s Hotel du Lac, although the plot isn’t at all similar.

Chergui’s Child is my second novel, and it’s about a woman who receives a large inheritance from her aunt, and also a revelation which changes her life. It’s set in London, Morocco and the south of France.

I’ve recently completed a novella – The Bakhtin Chronicles: Academia, about a Russian cat who comes to Edinburgh to final-cover-for-final-cover-for-daughters-of-the-lakestudy creative writing and struggles with literary theory. The inspiration for this came from my own experience of failing to understand the relevance of French philosophers and literary critics to writing, while I was studying for a Masters in Creative Writing. It was therapeutic after a miserable academic year.  Doubtless some will consider me mad when they read it, but as all writers know, insanity is a good personality trait. I plan to publish Bakhtin some time before Christmas.

 

KD: What is the biggest editing problem you think novelists have?

 

JANE: Eliminating unnecessary words. A big chunk of Words’Worth is devoted to this. Strong, descriptive verbs don’t require adverbs. And sometimes verbs are surplus: ‘I’m going to have to’ can be shortened to ‘I’ll have to’ without sacrificing meaning. People don’t ‘begin to laugh’, they simply laugh. By deleting words that can’t justify their space on the page, it’s possible to lose thousands of them. And I do – in each novel…

 

KD: If you could give just one piece of advice to writers to make their editing tasks easier what would it be?

 

JANE: Have checklists rather than keeping in your head everything that needs to be done. Allow enough time for the editing process – it may take longer than writing the first draft did.

 

KD: Tell us a little bit about your next project.

 

JANE: When I’ve finished my current novel, I plan to write a second version of Words’Worth, this time targeting business writers. And I’m considering writing another Bakhtin novella, perhaps about working life after university, or perhaps about a writer struggling to promote his/her work.

 

KD: Do you, as a writer, have editing shortcuts that make your life easier? If so, what are they?

 

JANE: Not really. I plod through my lists each time. But a key point in Words’Worth is that the writer can personalise the checklists for every novel. Initially, I included checking for unnecessary adverbs and unnecessary prepositions. I don’t include these items now because searching for them rarely showed either of these and I was wasting time.

 

KD: Is there anything else you’d like to share with writers?

 

JANE: The often dispensed advice, ‘Keep going’ is fine, but only if at the same time you are working hard to improve your writing technique. This makes sense: if you made a chocolate cake that no one liked, you’d find another recipe rather than continue to use the old one in the hope of finding someone who thought the cake was yummy.

I’ve found that the best ways to improve my writing are to read the ‘how to’ books, read fiction as much as possible to see how other people write. Receiving feedback on my writing has been invaluable, but it’s important to be discerning about choosing readers.

 

Buy Words’ Worth Here:

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/WordsWorth-fiction-writers-serious-editing-ebook/dp/B01H2B9ZF0/

 

https://www.amazon.com/WordsWorth-fiction-writers-serious-editing-ebook/dp/B01H2B9ZF0/

 

Here’s a peek at Jane’s novel, Chergui’s Child:

 

Blurb for Chergui’s Child:

 

cc-front-cover-jpgOlivia is recovering from a traumatic event five years earlier, when she is summoned to the bedside of her dying aunt, Dorothy. Shortly afterwards, she learns that her aunt has left her a large sum of money and a letter containing a startling revelation. From Morocco to London to the south of France, this is the story of one woman’s journey to make her life whole again.

 

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Cherguis-Child-Jane-Riddell-ebook/dp/B00YTE9XWE/

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/ebooks/dp/B00YTE9XWE/

 

Extract:

 

Two days later as I handed a £20 note to the taxi driver, I could still visualise my aunt’s pallid, dying face.

‘Hey – your change,’ he called after me.

I took the money, scrambled up the steps and pressed heavily on the brass doorbell of the lawyer’s office.  In reception, I removed my jacket and perched on a leather armchair, wondering again why I’d been summoned.  What was so important it couldn’t be discussed over the phone?

The paintings on the drab green walls did nothing to lift my spirits: cherubs hovering round a tormented loin-clothed man; mountains tumbling into a murky lake.  My fingers drummed the armrests as my thoughts reverted to the evening before. James had arrived late, and from the window of my third floor flat, I’d watched him adjust the metal coat hanger that served as an aerial for his Citröen.  His perfunctory peck on my cheek irritated me.  When he left early, claiming a headache – from my incense, of course, not his smoking (nothing that happened to James was ever his fault) – I’d been relieved.

Exhaustion permeated me: no Dorothy, and the funeral to endure tomorrow.  Ten fifteen.  Where was the lawyer?  I flicked through a National Geographic article about Iceland, closed the magazine.  The door opposite opened, two men shook hands and one of them left, smiling at me as he passed.

‘Miss Bowden, I’m Charles Minto.  Apologies for summoning you at such short notice and for keeping you waiting.’

I followed him into a large, sparsely furnished room, sat down and surveyed my surroundings, wondering if their soothing cream colours eased the stress of divorce, financial worries and problems with neighbours.  Outside, the wind buffeted leafless trees and the sky showed no inkling of sunshine.

‘I am sorry about your aunt’s death,’ he said, smoothing back his white forelock.  The glare from his specs reminded me of my former headmaster, but the lawyer’s aura was calmer.

‘I didn’t manage to talk to her.  I was in St Albans when she had her stroke.’

‘Your father told me.  I contacted you to tell you about Dorothy’s will.’

How much more caring he sounded, using Dorothy’s name.  ‘Her will?’

He nodded, studying me with sudden intensity as if I were a specimen in a lab.   I wanted to parachute myself home, to work, anywhere.

‘She changed it the day before she had her stroke.  You are the main beneficiary.’

My pulse raced.   ‘But… this isn’t…  What about William, what about my mother?  Does she know?  Will I have to tell her?’

His eyes softened.  ‘Your aunt was adamant you have the money.  She has provided well for William but the rest has been left to you.  The figure is about £700,000.’

I imagined Mum’s outrage.  £700,000!

‘There’s something else.  Dorothy dictated a letter to you on the day before she died.  This was when she changed her will.’

‘A letter?’

He handed me the envelope.  ‘Take your time – the contents are… unusual.’

My heart clamoured for escape.  I wanted Dorothy, not her money.  I didn’t want to read a letter, I didn’t want to discuss finances.  All I yearned for, in fact, was my cosy duvet and sleep.

After peering at my name on the envelope, I opened it and scanned the letter.  Then I reread it, the letters dancing like pixies.  When finally I glanced up, the green and maroon circles on the lawyer’s tie swirled.  Struggling to breathe, I reached into my bag for my inhaler.

Mr Minto waited for a moment, then handed me a glass of water.  ‘Drink this, please.  You’re in shock.’

 

 

About Jane:Jane Riddell

Jane Riddell is a Scottish writer based in Edinburgh. For years she worked for the NHS as a dietitian and health
promoter, writing being a hobby. In 2006 she impulsively moved her family to France, and during her three years there writing became a passion.

Jane summarises herself as: enthusiastic, well-intentioned, hopelessly inadequate with technology, having a dysfunctional relationship with time and addicted to chocolate, her only vice (to date). Her partner describes her as a benign crocodile. She loves: sash windows, perfume, wild weather, photography and films. Travel is her passion, especially pet sitting in other countries. To date she has looked after: dogs, cats, stick insects, turtles and parrots.

 

Find Jane Here:

 

www.quietfiction.com.

 

Jane also offers an editing service. Check out Choice Words Editing on her website.

 

What’s so Cool about Writing Sex?

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To answer that question, I would like to just point you back to my motto — I totally believe Freud was right. It really IS all about sex. And as a writer of erotica and erotic romance, no one is happier about it than I. Since sex touches every part of our life, since it is so multifaceted, since it intrigues and us and enthrals us as nothing else does, why wouldn’t it be fun to write about?
Originally I started writing erotica because I could write it well and it was something I could sell. Yup! I admit. I was a bit mercenary. At first. Now I can’t imagine a story without sex in it because sex is the quickest way to give my readers aScribe-computer-keyboardMG_07771-225x300 deeper understanding of my characters and to add a little chaos and up the stakes of a good pacy novel.
But here’s my little secret: I wrote erotica secretly long before I published any of it. Yup! I think of writing erotica as a sex toy on steroids. Nothing is hotter, nothing can push all the right buttons — reader of writer — nothing can get you there quite like the written, filthy word straight from your dirty little mind. That’s because no on knows what turns you on like you do, and no one knows what fantasies you have, but you. Write them and squirm! Write them and giggle! Write them and sizzle! But once you start writing it, you’ll quickly discover there’s a lot more to it than the ole in and out. Writing erotica is a creative process, an art form in itself. Writing erotica is a sexy way of telling a story.
If you ever thought you’d like to tell a sexy story, maybe write it down to share with someone special over candle light and fizz, or maybe write it and send it off to a publisher, this is your chance. Kay Jaybee and I will talk you through the essentials with plenty of hands-on experience. …er I mean WRITING experience, you naughty lot! There! You see, you’re already in the right frame of mind. Come join the fun. (You see what I did there)

Follow the links below for details on how you can join the fun.

 

 


Kay Jaybee
 and I are very happy to announce that we’ll be joint-teaching an Essential Elements of Erotic Writing 13442263_1220482214628479_1390160962256925281_nWorkshop in London at Sh! Women’s Store on the 23rd of September from 5:30-7:30 PM. We promise a sizzling
evening of fun, filth and writing, all set in one of our favourite places on the planet, the fabulously sexy Sh! Women’s Store. That alone is enough to inspire erotic thoughts. Is there a better combination?

 

Kay and I are scheming and planning an inspiring, educational and filthy class, guaranteed to help you set aside your
internal editor and get down to writing the good stuff in a nasty, fun way.

 

The cost is £20 per person and there are still a few spaces available, so be sure and sign up as soon as possible. (This workshop is open toSh!logoboth sexes.) Follow the link for details and come join us prepared to write!

 

Sex, Chaos, and Story

(From the archives)

I’m in the air over the Atlantic somewhere as this post goes lives. That being the case, I’m doing seasonal re-runs with a the screampost from the archives on one of my favourite topics — sex and chaos and their effect on story. Enjoy.

In my opinion, there are few things a writer can do to a story that will kick-start it quite as much as creating a little chaos. A calm and happy life in the real world might be just the ticket, but in story, there’s one word for it – BORING! A story is all about upsetting the apple cart, breaking the eggs, turning the bull loose in the china cupboard and — heart racing, palms sweating – seeing what happens, while we’re safely ensconced on the other side of the keyboard/Kindle/book. Oh yes we do love that adrenaline rush — at someone else’s expense!

One of the best tools for dropping the character smack-dab into the middle of the chaos – and the reader vicariously – is sex. And the more inconvenient, the more inappropriate, the more confusing, the more SO not what the character was expecting, the more delicious the chaos will be.

The thing about those big brains that I spoke of a few posts back is that they like to make us think we can control all the variables. The thing about the biological housing for those big brains is that it doesn’t always want to be controlled. Oh and that big brain, well that means there’s all sorts of stuff going on up there that can lead us down the havoc-wreaking road to sex and chaos. It wants what it wants. And the ole grey matter can be so damned stubborn at times. Oooh! I get goose bumps just thinking about what happens when the big brain gets a hankering and the biological soup starts overheating and sex happens.

If we look at Western history from the point of view of religion and its effects on culture, there are few things the religious powers that be have made more of an effort to control than sex. And in story, in myth, there are few things that have caused more chaos than a little rough and tumble in the wrong place at the wrong time. Troy lost war and was destroyed over it, King Author’s realm fell because of it, David had Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, killed because of it.

The resulting chaos that sex unleashes in a story can be nothing more than to create self-doubt in a cock-sure character, which is always a delight to see. Or the resulting chaos can be world-destroying, and anything in between. Sex can cause the kind of chaos that will make the reader laugh, or the kind of chaos that will make the reader say, ‘if only they hadn’t done that.’ However, the one thing sex should never do in a story is leave things the way they were before it happened. Can it be used for bonding? Of course! But the tighter the bond, the more chaos can be caused if that bond is tested or broken. I shiver with delight at the thought.

And because our big brains don’t give a damn if our sexual thoughts and fantasies are ‘socially acceptable,’ nor is it discriminating about who we might have those thoughts and fantasies about, the resulting internal chaos can be almost as delicious as the external – maybe even more so. That lovely mix of guilt and desire and self-loathing and arousal and denial and shear over-heated lust. OMG! It’s a total writer’s paradise there for the taking.

I’m sure I’m like most writers in that I analyse what I read for pleasure in terms of what worked and what didn’t, what I
would have done if I’d written it, and what I’ve learned from the author’s writing skills that can be used to make my own writing better. I have to say one of the biggies for me is how well the author uses chaos to move the story forward
at a good pace; and especially how effectively sex is used to create chaos. I’m sure I pay a lot more attention to how sex is used in a story (or not) now that I write erotica, but it’s the resulting chaos that fascinates me and keeps me reading Botticelli_Mars_and_Venusin almost any kind of novel. The world is not a static place, and especially the world of story should not be static. Happy endings are called happy endings because they are at the end. They follow the chaos and happen when the story is finished. There is no more story, or at least none the reader wants to follow. It’s the chaos that pulls us in and keeps us turning the pages, and when that chaos is directly tied to sex, hold on to your hat!

 

A View From Above: Lakeland Keeps on Inspiring

I was reminded again how important that view of the overall picture can be when a good friend sent me a link to a breath-taking photo of the Lake District taken from the International Space Station, and I was deeply moved by such a view of a place I love, of a place that inspired and figured strongly, into each of the three Lakeland Heatwave novels, Demon Interrupted and the Medusa Consortium, almost as if it were another character in its own right.

 

The lake District image taken from the International space Station behbysjcaaayk3t-large

 

The photo was tweeted by Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield from on board the International Space Station, orbiting roughly 200 miles above the earth, moving at over 17,000 miles per hour.

How could such a ‘snapshot’ of one of my very favourite places not get me thinking about writers and the way we view our stories. I’ve always been an advocate of what I like to call snapshot writing. Snapshot writing is giving the reader snippets of detail, of experience, of a fleshed-out moment so full, so rich that the reader can feel it, taste it, revel in it. A snapshot can say so much about an event, often way more than words can. So for me one of the most powerful tools in my writing tool box is to create a snapshot with words, to write a moment so vividly that readers are instantly transported to the place and time. Commander Hadfield’s amazing snapshot from space has done just that for me.

Imagine my delight when I realised that I could not only see the whole of the Lakeland Witches stories and the Medusa Consortium stories in that snapshot, but I could see all the snapshots, all the intricately woven stories of my own adventures on the fells, of my own explorations and uncoverings of Lakeland one footstep at a time.

castlerigg_Stone_Circle1How could I not wonder what Alfred Wainwrightwould have thought if he could see his beloved Lakeland in such a view from above? His incredibly detailed drawings and descriptions of the Lakeland Fells are among the most accurate, most lovely, most poetic ever recorded. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat in the Twa Dogs Inn in Keswick, the night before climbing a fell I’d never walked before, drinking Cumberland Ale while reading through Wainwright’s notes and studying the maps and drawings from his Pictorial Guides of the Lakeland Fells. The beauty in the minute detail of his work is now reflected in a stunning overview from space. How could anyone not be moved by that?

More than just the love of Lakeland, which I could go on and on about, and frequently do, is the sense of place such a snapshot from space gives. (I’ve added links with lots of pictures to show you the up-close-and personal of what you can see from a distance from the ISS photo. Enjoy!) I can look at that shot and see Ullswater and Derwent Water. I can see snow-capped Helvellyn and Skafell Pike, the highest peak in England. I can see the Borrowdale Valley, the Newlands HorseshoeHonister Pass – all the places my characters in the Lakeland trilogy frequent – all the places I’ve frequented, and I couldn’t not share it. So if you look closely at the picture, the highest snow-covered point in the lower Landscapesright — that’s Helvellyn. Its iconic Striding Edge put me to the test in one of the most adrenaline-laced, exquisite walks I’ve ever done in the Lake District.

And if you look to the left and slightly lower, at the last snow-covered range in the picture, that high point is Scafell Pike, the highest point in England and another walk I’m proud to say I’ve had the pleasure of doing.

But now, if you look in between those two ranges and slightly north, settled, almost centred, in between the two is a dark spot, roughly oval in shape with jagged edges. That’s Derwent Water with Keswick on the northeast shore invisible to the naked eye from so far above. To the south of the lake, where the fells begin again, is the Borrowdale Valley. And slightly to the left, you can just make out the irregular U-shape of the Newland’s Horseshoe, all of the above frequented by my characters in the Lakeland trilogy, frequented by me. The Newland’s Horseshoe is the place where both Marie Warren and I first ‘got lost’ in the mist. The Borrowdale Valley and the Newlands Horseshoe are the places that inspired the trilogy, the places where heather clings to steep cliffs, where deserted slate quarries make for slippery descents, where the views are breath-taking and where it can all disappear into the mist in a heartbeat.

I’m so glad it was clear the day Commander Hadfield took this picture. I can’t stop looking at it. I love the fact that I’m somehow connected to that place and all the stories it evokes – not just mine, but everyone else’s – all those poets and walkers and writers and photographers and artists – past, present and yet to come — who have found Lakeland as powerful and as moving as I have. I’m connected to all of them, and by that connection, to all of those who read the writings and look at the works of art inspired by that tiny, rugged piece of land that’s just as exquisite when seen from 200 miles above as it is when explored slowly, painstakingly, one footstep at a time.

Surely there is no other place in this whole world quite like Lakeland … no other so exquisitely lovely, no other so charming, no other that calls so insistently across a gulf of distance. All who truly love Lakeland are exiles when they are away from it.

Alfred Wainwright

 

FB Kindle new release demon interrupted the right cover

 

Don’t Miss any of my Demon Interrupted Blog Tour and Giveaway which starts tomorrow with stops at these fabulous blogs: 

 

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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