Harper Voyager Update for May

Hello, I’m back! Eurovision ended with a grand final competition on Saturday in Malmö, Sweden. Emmelie de Forest of Denmark won the top prize with her song “Only Teardrops.” Well done, Europe. This is a beautiful and haunting song, and Emmelie de Forest has a strong, impassioned voice. Take a look at her winning performance.

While I was busy (obsessed?) with Eurovision and my 12 Points To… blog, other things happened in the world. In particular, Harper Voyager came out with a new update. For those not in the know, back in October 2012 Harper Voyager opened a two week submission slot for unsolicited manuscripts. Those accepted would be published as part of a new digital imprint. If you are a speculative fiction author, this was a big deal.

Of course, they received thousands of submissions. They’ve been very good about keeping those authors updated via their website. Here is a quote from their latest update.

Another update on the digital submissions! As per the previous update post, we received 4500+ entries, and by early March we had responded to 2905 entries.

We have now reviewed all the submissions in our inbox and responded to 3595 submissions that were not right for our list. The remaining 948 are marked for further reading and consideration.

You can read the full update here.

I haven’t heard back yet, which means my novel “Fake” is one of those 948. This is very exciting and even flattering. Regardless of the outcome, I’m happy to be part of this group.

Submitting your manuscript is a nail chomping experience, but it is necessary if you want to be a professional writer. Even if you plan to go the indie route, it doesn’t hurt to submit a short story here and there. It gives you the experience of pulling together a professional manuscript. Rejections aren’t pleasant, but occasionally editors will include a nugget of invaluable critique.

If you are ready to submit a novel or short story, or even a piece of creative nonfiction, you really should subscribe to Cindi Myers’ Market News blog. It’s a (mostly) weekly blog that contains news on markets open to manuscript submission. Cindi has been doing this for years and she is a fabulous, generous person. While visiting her blog, you can check out her novels as well.

Hey readers, I haven’t forgotten about you. A tasty freebie by Neil Gaiman has been made available by HarperCollins. It can be downloaded for numerous eBook formats.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties By Neil Gaiman How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman
A short story from New York Times bestselling author, Neil Gaiman. Plus an excerpt from his new novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Another Neil Gaiman freebie you can find online is his Sherlock Holmes/H.P. Lovecraft mash-up, A Study in Emerald. It is available in PDF format and is a short, fun read. Enjoy!

Inspiration and Original Ideas

While I was researching my posts on fan fiction and derivative fiction, I came across two schools of thought.

  1. People writing fan and derivative fiction do so because they have no original ideas.
  2. People might as well write fan and derivative fiction because there are no original ideas.

The first thought is on the sour side. And does anyone really want to tell Neil Gaiman that his Doyle/Lovecraft pastiche, “A Study in Emerald” is the work of an uninspired mind?

Didn’t think so.

I prefer to concentrate on that second school of thought because it reminds of a certain trope: there are only seven basic plots in literature. If you’ve taken a creative writing class, you’ve probably heard some variation of this. I learned these seven, which are attributed to Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch.

  1. Man against man
  2. Man against nature
  3. Man against himself
  4. Man against God
  5. Man against society
  6. Man caught in the middle
  7. Man and woman

However, there’s a new magnificent seven in town, according to Christopher Booker and his writing manual, “The Seven Basic Plots.”

  1. Overcoming the Monster
  2. Rags to Riches
  3. The Quest
  4. Voyage and Return
  5. Rebirth
  6. Comedy
  7. Tragedy

If you’re feeling worried and/or smug that your plot doesn’t fit into either of these groups of seven, keep in mind that most stories use combinations of these plot elements. Here are some articles with more in-depth explanations.

So, do we throw away the idea there are any original ideas? Of course not. Every person has their own take on a given situation and their own stories to tell. You may have heard another trope: it’s impossible to create in a vacuum. In order to be creative, you need inspiration. What inspire us are our world and the stories we hear. We take what captures our imaginations and turn them into original stories.

For example, George R.R. Martin’s wildly successful series, “A Song of Fire and Ice” was inspired by the English civil war know as the War of the Roses. Lannister and Stark  = Lancaster and York. Students of history will see the similarities, yet the world Martin created is very different than that of medieval England.

The wacky, ultraviolent Japanese movie, “Sukiyaki Western Django” was also partly inspired by the War of the Roses, and in particular, Shakespeare’s “Henry the Fifth.” The world in the movie is also vastly different than medieval England, and nothing like “A Song of Fire and Ice.”

My novel, “Fake” was inspired by wuxia, the literature and cinema of Chinese martial arts. I incorporated some common elements of this genre, such as the Beggar Clan, and created some of my own. My love of Irish music led me to discover the world of Irish Travelers, a nomadic people who are not related to the Romany. I created my own nomadic people, Strowlers. While based on Travelers, there are also key differences. Putting the two worlds together makes for a unique combination that is all my own.

Neil Gaiman took Sherlock Holmes and put him in H.P. Lovecraft’s London. The movie, “The Banquet” took Hamlet and placed him in imperial China. As an exercise, think of a character or real person who captures your imagination and place her in another world. Be inspired, creative and make it your own.

“A Study in Emerald” is available online for free, formatted and illustrated in the style of an early 20th century newspaper.

Speculative fiction author David Drake took a familiar archetype, the grumpy old wizard, and placed him in post-Revolutionary War America. You can pick up the free-for-now eBook from Amazon.

  Old Nathan by David Drake
The forces of evil are poised to prey on the folk of the hamlets and hollows: witches, demons, and red-handed men—but first they’ll have to overcome Old Nathan the Wizard. He doesn’t claim much for his magical powers, but they’re real enough for what they are—and besides, he hasn’t forgotten how to use his long flintlock rifle… Enter the gritty, realistic world of Old Nathan, a backwoodsman who talks to animals and says he’ll face The Devil himself-and who in the end will have to face The Devil in very fact.

Lucinda Brant penned a Georgian romance novel inspired by the arranged marriage of the 2nd Duke and Duchess of Richmond. You can pick up the free-for-now eBook from Amazon.

  Midnight Marriage by Lucinda Brant
Set in the opulent world of the 18th century aristocracy and inspired by real events, Midnight Marriage is the standalone second book in the acclaimed Roxton family saga. Two noble teenagers are married against their will. Drugged, Deb has no recollection of events. Disgraced, Julian is banished to the Continent. Nine years later, Deb falls in love with a wounded duelist, only to later discover it is her husband returned incognito! Can Deb forgive his cruel deception? Can their marriage survive beyond seduction? Meanwhile, Julian’s nemesis plots to destroy them both…

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Sherlockian

Sherlockian, also known as Sherlockiana and Doyle Pastiche, is a genre of derivative fiction based on the Sherlock Holmes novels and stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes is a wildly popular character, capturing the imagination of readers like few others. Dracula may be the only rival to Sherlock’s claim as king of derivative fiction.

The Sherlockian genre has spawned numerous books, short stories, graphic novels, movies, TV series, and even musicals. Currently, the genre enjoys immense popularity as a movie franchise starring Robert Downey, Jr. and two TV series, BBC’s “Sherlock” and CBS’s “Elementary.”

Whether published professionally or uploaded to an amateur archive, Sherlockian is fan fiction. It is derived from another author’s work and written for an established fan base. Before you decide to jump in, keep in mind not all of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories are public domain and his heirs are asserting their rights when applicable. This Economist article explains the situation in more detail.

What is it about Sherlock Holmes that is so appealing? Is it his cold, analytical personality balanced with an enjoyment of disguises and a Bohemian lifestyle that includes an unfortunate addiction to cocaine? Holmes is deeply brilliant, heroic and flawed, making him a larger-than-life character that can be hard for readers to relate to.

John Watson may be Doyle’s true stroke of genius. Watson’s ordinary intellect and heroic inclinations, combined with a loyal personality, allow the reader to place herself in the good doctor’s shoes, being alternately astonished and aggravated by the unconventional Holmes. Sherlock is the amazing friend who sweeps you off to an exciting adventure.

While much of the genre puts this winning combination to good use, there are many other novels and stories that do not. For example, in Laurie King’s Mary Russell series, Watson is mostly out of the picture as Holmes takes on a young female apprentice who later becomes his wife.

Other stories and novels put the focus on secondary, minor and fictional characters. These include:

The two links below will give you access to extensive lists of professional Sherlockian fiction.

If all this puts you in the mood for the real deal, you’re in luck. Many of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels and stories are available to download for free, in a variety of formats, on the Project Gutenberg website. Click here to go to the Sherlock Holmes archive.

A special note of thanks goes to my good friend and Sherlock Holmes fan, Teacher Jennifer, who provided me with lots of helpful links and information.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Free Today on Amazon

It snowed on Christmas Eve, literally that evening, dumping about four inches on us by the next morning, but, hey, white Christmas! So, no complaints. We’ve had little snow since on the front range, but frigid weather has settled over us. It hasn’t warmed up past 20 degrees Fahrenheit since December 24.

Christmas morning. It looks almost the same three days later.

Christmas morning. It looks almost the same three days later.

Fortunately, we bought tons of food in preparation and have happily hunkered down with Argentine empanadas and my husband’s Cantonese steamed chicken. Yum. While keeping the cranky, housebound cat company, we watched an entire Danish detective series, “The Eagle.” It’s about a special unit that investigates cross border crimes. The protagonist is half-Icelandic, so he’s a fish out of Nordic water, so to speak. It was pretty good! You can find all three seasons on both Netflix and Hulu.

By now, the fridge is empty and we need to do some grocery shopping. I was thinking I’d like to make soup. While I was perusing the Kindle freebies, I noticed two recipe books for soup. Score! I’ve also added a book that was previously listed for those who missed it the first time. “The Complete Sherlock Holmes”, i.e., all the short stories and novels, is being offered for free by Simon and Schuster. Seriously, you don’t want to miss this.

If you’re where it’s cold, stay warm. If you’re where it’s warm, enjoy!

The Complete Sherlock Holmes  The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
The complete collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales, both long and short, compiled together for the first time by Simon & Schuster for free! This fantastic collection is accompanied by an exciting new introduction from Robert Ryan, a writer who’s own book has been fully endorsed by the Conan Doyle Estate. A big Holmes fan himself, he will undoubtedly provide a fascinating new look at the detective and his bizarre ability to read both people and objects, in order to discover who dunnit.

Simply Delicious Soups  Simply Delicious Soups by Royce Anderson
Soup is the quintessential comfort food. It is one of the most basic food dishes, easy to make and almost infinite in form. Start with a flavorful stock then add meat and or vegetables. Season with your favorite spices and let the mixture simmer. Soon your house fills with a delicious smell that promises a wonderful treat just for you. Warm and hearty soups are the perfect answer to a cold winter night. Or beat the heat of summer with a chilled soup. A perfect change of pace without heating up the kitchen.

Delicious Soup Recipes (Delicious Recipes)  Delicious Soup Recipes by June Kessler
In today’s fast track world; I forgot about soup for a while and recently I found my soup recipes and have been busy making soups for my family a few times a week. Now that strawberry season is here my grand children are really enjoying the chilled strawberry soups they seem to awaken their appetites, soup is also a good way for my grand kids to eat their fruits and vegetables they need in their diet. Also I love the aroma from the simmering soup that lingers in the kitchen all day. On a hot Texas summers day there is nothing like a chilled cream soup to cool you down . or a hot beefy soup on a cold night. Soups are very versatile they can be the main meal an appetizer, or served with a sandwich, which is much healthier than potato chips or French fries. You deserve delicious wholesome and nutritious soup.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

San Francisco Dreaming

Free Today on Amazon

A while back, I made plans to visit San Francisco for a December break. I thought I’d do some writing, see the holiday sights, and enjoy the milder climate. I decided to book a small condo through airbnb, something I always wanted to try. That way, I could have my own little place, and dream a little dream that I’d returned home.

What I didn’t count on was catching a cold, followed closely by the flu. I had to postpone my trip by a day and arrive in the city on tail end of my flu. The condo is… a bit of a disappointment. More about that in another post. The location is good, in walking distance to Golden Gate Park and Haight Ashbury. The view is fabulous.

SF Condo View

Double rainbow!

I had to spend the first couple of days here recuperating. Today, I’m feeling better, despite the lingering cough, and ready to step out.

As usual, though, I’ve spent my morning coffee time checking out the Amazon freebies. Usually, much of what I find is written by independent authors. Occasionally, though, big six publishers will offer free material. Also, well known authors will occasionally release ebooks that were previously published in print. Today’s freebies are good examples.

Simon and Schuster has released for free “The Complete Sherlock Holmes” by Arthur Conan Doyle. And, yes, that means all the novels and short stories. HarperCollins is offering a free YA novel that costs $9.99 in print. And bestselling author Claire Cook is offering her novel, “Must Love Dogs” (yes, the one that became a movie starring Diane Lane and John Cusack)  as a free-for-now.

That’s a nice variety and great for taking along on holiday travels.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes  The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
The complete collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales, both long and short, compiled together for the first time by Simon & Schuster for free! This fantastic collection is accompanied by an exciting new introduction from Robert Ryan, a writer who’s own book has been fully endorsed by the Conan Doyle Estate. A big Holmes fan himself, he will undoubtedly provide a fascinating new look at the detective and his bizarre ability to read both people and objects, in order to discover who dunnit.

Sweet Venom  Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
Three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful Gorgon maligned in myth, must reunite and embrace their fates. Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.

Must Love Dogs  Must Love Dogs by Claire Cook
Following up on themes from her debut novel, Ready to Fall, which looked at the pitfalls of cyberspace romance, Cook here chronicles the perils of various tried and true dating ploys, from personals ads to the use of adorable pooches as date bait. “If I didn’t have a job, I might have stayed in bed until I rotted,” muses Massachusetts preschool teacher Sarah Hurlihy, almost 41, divorced and dateless for two years. She’s out to change all that when she bravely answers a personals ad in a local paper, but instead gets the ultimate nightmarish response her would-be date turns out to be her widower father, something her sprawling Irish Catholic family naturally finds wildly funny. Her oldest sister, Carol, decides the best way for Sarah to move on is to create her own personals ad, and soon Sarah’s love life is lively, if not downright rambunctious. (Review by Publishers Weekly)

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Fairies and Curries and Sherlock Holmes

Free Today on Amazon

Got myself a Saturday morning grab bag of freebies that I’d love to share with you.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I love fairies and stories set in Ireland. Finding a book with both is one of my sweet spots. The book listed below is actually a novelette, perfect for a lazy weekend afternoon.

If you like curry, you’ll probably want to grab “The Big Book of Curry,” which includes dishes many different regions, including Africa and the Caribbean. Myself, I love Thai and Indian curries, though I haven’t had a Japanese or Vietnamese curry that I’ve liked. Maybe something in this book will tempt my palate in that direction.

Finally, I’ve included two Sherlock Holmes short story compilations. The free, public domain versions of these two books that I previously downloaded had crappy formatting. The two books below ordinarily cost $2.99 and have awesome formatting. The Go To menu includes a handy table of contents. Get them while they’re free!

Have a great Saturday!

  The Sidhe Princess by Loucinda McGary
In the rural Northern Ireland of the 1960s, sixteen-year-old Moira Mullins is newly released from her second stay in a mental institution. Her problem is that she can’t seem to escape the notice of the other-worldly inhabitants of the wild lands bordering her family’s farm. Creatures nobody else can see or hear. When one of these beings, a fairy princess called the Maid of Ulster, offers to foretell the future, Moira jumps at the chance. But the Maid has ulterior motives that could have tragic results for Moira, who learns the future is sometimes better unknown.

  The Big Book of Curry Recipes by Dyfed Lloyd Evans
Curries are one of the world’s culinary success stories. They are now prepared, in various guises throughout the globe. Curries were originally developed in the Indus valley some 4000 or more years ago. Indian traders introduced them to Southeast Asia and East Africa whilst Buddhist monks introduced them to south Asia and East Asia. The British introduced them to the remainder of the world. This book contains over 700 recipes for curries and curry-associated dishes with recipes for starters, main courses, accompaniments, breads, pickles, curry pastes and spice blends, and drinks from the Indian sub-Continent. Also included are curries from the remainder of Asia, from Africa and from the Caribbean.

  The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
After Arthur Conan Doyle introduced Sherlock Holmes in the novel A Study in Scarlet in 1887, he wrote a series of twenty-four short mysteries featuring the detective and his colleague, Dr. Watson, in the pages of the Strand Magazine from 1891 to 1893. THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES collects the first twelve of these tales—including “A Scandal in Bohemia” (which introduces Irene Adler), “The Red-Headed League,” “The Five Orange Pips,” and “The Speckled Band”—some of the greatest stories in the Sherlock Holmes canon.

  The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
Could it be that Sherlock Holmes has finally met his match in the villainous Professor Moriarty? Quite possibly. The only way to know for certain is to read the climactic story “The Final Problem” from this collection of Sherlock Holmes tales. In this second compilation of stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (following The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes), we learn about Holmes’ first-ever investigation in “The Gloria Scott”; meet his older, smarter (and fatter and lazier) brother, Mycroft; and are introduced to the most evil criminal mastermind in English literature, Professor Moriarty.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Books that I have previously listed will occasionally come up free again. I add those to my current posts for people who didn’t see them the first time.