Monthly Archives: April 2013

Likes, Loves and Influences: JRR Tolkien

The second edition in this series has to go to the Godfather of Fantasy – JRR Tolkien.

I can’t really remember when I first read The Lord of the Rings. I was probably about 12 or 13, and I read the Dutch version, of course. I also read LotR before I read The Hobbit. Most of that experience is lost in the hazy mists of time, but I do remember absolutely loving it. I must have re-read it at least once a year for the next ten years or so, and to my great joy I was even allowed to put it on my book list for my secondary school English exam.

(As an aside here, I took three languages in secondary school – Dutch and English because they were compulsory, and German because it was relatively easy. Each language required you to read a number of books for the exam. I think German and English needed about 20 and Dutch around 25. The problem is that all these books had to come from a list of ‘proper literature’, which is a hard pill to swallow when you love to read but hate long-winded, dramatic prose, or nasty books like Lord of the Flies. Being able to put a hefty 1200-page doorstop like LotR on the list was a godsend. But, as usual, I digress.)

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Beyond Shame – Kit Rocha

  • Title: Beyond Shame
  • Author: Kit Rocha
  • Genre: Erotica
  • Why: Saw it as the read of the month on an Erotica group and thought I’d give it a go.
  • Rating: 5 Stars

Description: All Noelle Cunningham has ever wanted is a life beyond–beyond the walls of Eden, where only the righteous are allowed to remain, and beyond her stiflingly restrictive existence as a councilman’s daughter. But only ruins lie outside the City, remnants of a society destroyed by solar storms decades earlier.

The sectors surrounding Eden house the corrupt, the criminal–men like Jasper McCray, bootlegger and cage fighter. Jas clawed his way up from nothing to stand at the right hand of Sector Four’s ruthless leader, and he’ll defend the O’Kane gang with his life. But no fight ever prepared him for the exiled City girl who falls at his feet.

Her innocence is undeniable, but so is their intense sexual attraction, and soon they’re crossing every boundary Noelle barely knew she had. But if she wants to belong to Jas, first she’ll have to open herself to the gang, to a dangerous world of sex, lust and violence. A world where passion is power, and freedom is found in submission.

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The Land of Painted Caves – Jean Auel

  • Title: The Land of Painted Caves
  • Author: Jean Auel
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Why: Had to finish the series.
  • Rating: 1 Star

Description: In The land of Painted Caves, Jean M. Auel brings the ice-age epic Earth’s Children series to an extraordinary conclusion. Ayla, one of the most remarkable and beloved heroines in contemporary fiction, continues to explore the world and the people around her with curiosity, insight, and above all, courage.

As the story opens, Ayla, Jondalar, and their infant daughter, Jonayla are welcomed by the Zelandonii, but problems arise. They are faced with new challenges, not just the ordinary trials of sheer survival, but the complications posed by many groups of people who need to live and work together. The wisdom that Ayla gained from her struggles as an orphaned child, alone in a hostile environment, strengthens her as she moves closer to leadership of the Zelandonia.

Ayla and Jondalar’s first priority is the care for their golden-haired child, Jonayla, and the well-being of their amazing animals, Wolf, Whinney, Racer, and Gray. The two participate in hunts to provide food, in travels to Summer Meetings for decision making, and in social activities. Whatever the obstacles, Ayla’s inventive spirit produces new ways to lessen the difficulties of daily life: searching for wild edibles to make delicious meals, experimenting with techniques to ease the long journeys the Zelandoni must take, honing her skills as a healer and a leader. And then, there are the Sacred Caves, the caves that Ayla’s mentor–the Donier, the First of the Zelandonia–takes her to see. These caves are filled with remarkable art–paintings of mammoths, lions, aurochs, rhinoceros, reindeer, bison, bear. The powerful, mystical aura within these caves sometimes overwhelms Ayla.

Ayla’s final preparations for her initiation as a Zelandoni bring The Land of Painted Caves to a riveting climax. So much time apart from Jondalar has caused him to drift away from her. The rituals themselves bring her close to death. But through those rituals, Ayla gains A Gift of Knowledge so important that it will change the world.

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A Shire Romance – Part One

This is the first full-length novel I ever wrote, a couple of years ago now. It stems from an idea which had been fermenting inside my head ever since the first Lord of the Rings film was released, it just took a long time before I did anything with it. Once I did, I wrote the whole thing inside three weeks.

It is far from perfect, nor is it ever likely to be. This story mostly takes place in Middle-Earth (specifically the Shire), so copyright issues would prevent me from every publishing it properly. That said, I like the story and I hope that people will enjoy it on those terms.

It is a ‘classic’ romance of the Mills & Boon/Harlequin staple, so don’t expect in-depth plotting. It’s just a boy-meets-girl-and-stuff-happens story. Every installment will be posted first on Silk Screen Views (on Saturdays) so if you can’t wait to see what happens next, you may find a new installment there already.

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The Ups and Downs of Self-Publishing

Yes, I know, there are hundreds of posts about this subject already, but that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to write one as well. Also, this post will be entirely on a personal level, because I’m anything but an expert on self-publishing. All I know about it is what I’ve absorbed over the past few months on the subject.

I’ll apologise now if this post gets a bit angsty and/or whiny, but this is my way of getting my thoughts in order, and maybe help others along the way, since I’m sure there are plenty of other people in the same situation as me.

A year ago I knew next to nothing about self-publishing. I knew about e-books, of course, and that it was possible for authors to publish their own books without the intervention of an agent and/or publisher, but that was about it. I was determined to try and publish my book the traditional way first, and only when that didn’t work out would I get it out there myself. I deliberately say ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ there, because I had no illusions about the difficulty in getting a traditional agent or publisher to take notice. I would get my round of rejections, and only then would I investigate self-publishing.

Except I had failed to take my own impatience into account.

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Chateau d’If

It hit me late last night – I’d posted up a love letter to Jack Vance and not once did I mention my absolute favourite short story of his! So here is a separate post to remedy that.

As the title suggests, the story is Chateau d’If. It starts with five friends who are having a drink at a terrace, as they often do, and get talking about a mysterious new advert that has started to appear around town. It advertises the Chateau d’If, and promises adventure beyond anything you’ve ever experienced. The Chateau has them intrigued, and after some enquiries they discover that there are two programs it offers up for purchase: one costing ten thousand and one costing ten million (the currency is never mentioned). The friends agree that one of them will try it, funded by the other four, and roll dice for who gets to go.

The chosen person goes for his appointment, then fails to show up for the agreed rendez-vous to report on what it was like.

I’ll refrain from saying anything else and giving away spoilers, but I adored this story when I first read it as a teenager, and still do whenever I read it. It originally attracted my attention by its title, because anyone who has ever read The Count of Monte Cristo will recognise the Chateau d’If as the rocky island prison where Edmond Dantes spends nearly twenty years of his life. It has absolutely nothing to do with any of that, but that simple coincidence led me to one of my all-time favourite stories.

The sad thing is that it is fiendishly difficult to get hold of, like most of Vance’s more obscure work, and I had to pay about £40 a few years back to buy a second-hand copy of a book with Chateau d’If in it, which was comparatively cheap. If you see this story for sale somewhere and it is a bargain, grab it. It’s awesome.

Likes, Loves and Influences: Jack Vance

Today’s post will be the first one in a series I plan to devote to the authors who have inspired and influenced me the most throughout my life so far. It’s been a bit hard to decide who to start with, but in the end it had to be Jack Vance.

I’ll say this right off the bat: it may not be my smartest choice to start with him. I’m sure lots of people reading this will never even have heard of him, but he has been one of my favourites since I was a teenager. I’m sure he was pretty popular in the Netherlands at that time, and I was quite surprised to find that most of my English fantasy-loving friends had no clue who he was.

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