10 April 2011

Sex and Violence

Today we have a special post, a sort of cross between a Random Shout Out Sunday (where I highlight an indie author or press, or other cool writing thing) and a guest blogger. Please welcome Drew Cross!

Hello out there!

First things first, thank you very much to Jen for letting me guest on your blog. The title of this post is a deliberately provocative one – just as the titles of my books aim to be (BiteMarks for my debut crime novel, and The Scarmap for my debut middle grade fantasy novel, both of which will be appearing later this year); but that's the whole point, right?

Read any 'how to write a bestseller' manual, and sooner or later they'll talk about your opener; so in that vein, here's one of mine for BiteMarks:

The girl draws in a sharp breath through clenched teeth and moans with a mixture of pain and pleasure; her white-blond hair feels like falling snowflakes where it brushes my skin. She has a tattoo on her neck, two small red pin-pricks and the words BITE ME in gothic lettering, stark against her near translucent paleness. A thin rivulet of blood snakes down her bare back, an escapee from the small clean incision on her shoulder blade. I kiss her deeply, my mouth still wet with her blood, holding her close and feeling her tremble, wanting to consume her, she runs her tongue over my elongated fangs as if she can read my thoughts. I can taste peppermint and vodka, the blood as a sweet honey tang underneath, her skin is aromatic with cocoa butter and the soft smoky musk of burning incense clings to her hair.

Whether or not that's attention grabbing is a matter of opinion and personal taste, but it does tell you something about the novel immediately. Note that I said 'something'…but not everything.

Now here's a piece from the next section of chapter one; it also features the male MC – Shane Marks - who we met drinking blood in the opener, but the tone's entirely different (a device used throughout the book to emphasise the duality of his existence):



“Briefing's in five minutes with CID, if that‟s enough time for you to finish preening yourself?”

The Inspector strides off without further pleasantries, but I can‟t help but like the grumpy old sod anyway. Marcus Cooke emerges still dripping from the shower, hurriedly towelling himself down and putting on his shirt having heard the Inspector's words.

“Why can‟t you put some pants on before your shirt? I don‟t want to see your dick every day.”

“Seeing my dick is the highlight of your day and you know it.”

He grins in his usual stupid broad fashion and slaps me on the backside as he passes to get to his locker.
Marks is a cop, and for me, that element of surprise is very important too. We live in a world with a short attention span, 'keeping em hooked' is half the battle - an extreme example of somebody who does this in the crime genre might be James Patterson, with his frantic pace and twists and turns on every page. Does it work? I hear he's sold one or two books recently, so just maybe there's something in it…
Let me also say this; BiteMarks is NOT a vampire novel. If you're catching the coat-tails of that particular bandwagon then all the best to you, but I am emphatically not. I've not read Ms Meyer, and all of the characters in my twisted little tale are all too human; albeit quirky types of human. However, there is something to be said about being mindful of 'trends' if you're commercially minded…I'm not suggesting you should sell-out and write what everybody else is writing, just that if you're aiming to make a good living, then be mindful of what the readership at large want when constructing your masterpiece.

So here comes the sex and violence promised: BiteMarks features a young police constable and practising blood-fetishist, chasing a savage attacker with a deep-rooted desire to bite his victims and spill their blood through the red-light zone of a violent city. Got that? Good. Sex and violence, and sexual violence, in all of it's permutations is dissected and deconstructed for your viewing pleasure – fundamentally sex and violence sells. If you want some more then look out for the book coming out somewhere near you very soon.

Drew is a married father of two from Nottingham, England; he has been a model and a police officer (but never a model police officer!), and now masquerades as a financial adviser for a large banking group while dreaming of one day writing full-time for a living. When he's not reading, writing, toddler wrangling or weimaraner wrestling, he enjoys martial arts, cooking various cuisines (South East Asian a particular favourite) and meditating.

 BiteMarks will be available soon in ebook and print form from Night Publishing.

Eternity, which Drew co-authored with Jenni James, was released as an ebook earlier this year.

04 April 2011

Review: Triune, by Andrew Bowen

A Jew, a Muslim and a Christian walk into a bar....

It's okay, you can laugh at whatever punchline you can imagine to finish that sentence. When it comes to religion and religious differences, I'm pretty sure Andrew Bowen would prefer we all laugh a little more and bicker a little less. Andrew recently published his novella, Triune, and it is available both in print and in Kindle format.

Product description from Amazon:

No one--not even the band themselves--expected Triune to go this far.

Jaron, Sam, and Noah have a simple mission: bring unity and peace among the faiths of Abraham through killer music. Triune's members: Jaron--a Jew with strong Israeli roots, Sam--a Palestinian Muslim, and Noah--a devout Christian with a haunted past, set out across the United States to spread their message and face acclaim and disaster at every turn. The country is taken by storm as Triune blazes a trail of revolution across the Plains toward a record contract in California. But when tragedy strikes Jaron's family and the Palestinians declare total independence from Israel, the Holy Land errupts into civil war. Secrets from the past and old rivalries emerge, forcing Jaron, Sam, and Noah to pick sides in a conflict that threatens to rip the band, their spiritual homeland, and their lives apart.

When I began reading, I was chuckling every few paragraphs it seemed. Jaron is a wellspring of comedic moments, whether its his substitutions for Amen at the end of prayers (Ra-men, Gay-men) or popping golf cart wheelies in the middle of a round of golf with the Reverend of a church. There are plenty of moments to laugh, but also plenty of moments to think.

You'll get to know and care about all three members of the band throughout the book. Sam's struggle to be her own person under the watch of her strict Muslim parents is touching, and something we can all relate to on some level. Noah is mysterious, seemingly haunted, and provides a quiet voice of reason. While each band member has their own “book” in the story, I feel Jaron is really the central focus of the plot. His actions are the catalyst for much of what happens, and he is the character I most identified with. He is light-hearted in his faith – something some may interpret as a lack of faith, or shallow faith, but it's not. He's prone to whimsical decisions he believes are divinely inspired, and this makes not only for some funny moments, but also his dramatic end.

Triune has an ending you have to read to believe, so I won't give it away here. I'll just say that Jaron takes some actions that surprised and saddened me. The ending stuck with me. I had to think about it for a while. I wished desperately that it hadn't ended the way it did. At first. Then I realized that, really, it couldn't have ended any other way. It was a logical progression of events where the characters behaved according to their personalities, not some author-contrived ending simply intended to shock (c'mon, I know you've all read at least one book like that and wanted to toss it across the room afterward, right? No worries about that here.)

I think the best word I can use to describe this story is unassuming, and that's a good thing. If someone wants to tell you a parable or fable, you expect a message. If someone wants to quote to you from the Bible or other holy text, you expect a message. Sometimes, expecting a message gets in the way of receiving that message. With Triune, Andrew has crafted a story that is entertaining and will pull you in, have you rooting for these three friends as their band tours the country, and hoping for their safety when things take a turn for the worse. Before you've had a chance to look for a message, you'll have learned it.

01 April 2011

This Ain't No Joke!

Happy April Fool's Day, everyone!

Despite the day, what I'm about to say is NOT a practical joke. (No, I haven't scored an amazing agent or publishing deal.) What I do have for you, though, is something that could help YOU on your journey to improving your writing, finding an agent, publishing - traditionally or otherwise - your work, and navigating the rapidly-changing industry.

Myself and a handful of other writers who met on Agent Query Connect (though let me stress, we are NOT affiliated with, nor endorsed by, AQC in any way) have come together to compile our various talents, levels of experience, and opinions, all for your benefit! I feel so lucky and honored to be working with this group of talented writers, and we are happy to present to you:

Offering multiple perspectives on writing and the publishing industry—
from first draft to final product, and everything beyond.
Go on, click on the picture to go to the website! In addition to the site, you can also find us on Twitter and Facebook! Make sure you sign up to follow the blog, and visit the blogs of all our members, too. Leave comments, ask questions, email us, and enjoy!