I picked this book up in early 2013. It quickly became one of the best books I'd read in a good while. Cindy Borgne, a self-published author, creates a tangible corporate/military feuding society on Mars, with an innocent teenager caught in the middle. Ian Connors, a psychic, hates war, and when he causes a skirmish by revealing his visions to his Admiral (which he is required to do), he is disgusted by the results of his actions. Through the pages of this book we follow how he tries to escape from what appears at first glance to be his destiny, to reach for a vision he has little hope of achieving. This book is written to a very high standard in both story-telling and language. It is not, strictly speaking, SFR, but it is unquestionably science fiction with romantic elements and, in fact, the events that unfold are driven by a vision Ian has of himself together with a woman. It can be downloaded from Amazon UK and Amazon US.
Many authors depend on pictures to help inspire their writing. In this modern age of search engines, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo, authors can find pictures on a wide variety of topics using various keywords. However, many of these same authors have a hard time finding pictures using these standard search engines because the keywords they are using in the search engines are not always associated correctly. Therefore, authors will need to find other ways to help find pictures to inspire their writing. This blog article is going to explore a few of the resources that may help authors.
One of the best resources that authors can still use to find pictures for writing inspiration are within a library collection. Many local and national libraries have converted print photographs and drawings into massive digital collections that can be accessed via their websites. These digital collections are organized, usually by topic, and can include pictures on a variety of subjects. However, many of the pictures within these digital collections cannot be found using standard search engines. Therefore, half the battle, is for authors to know where to find these digital collections. Below are a few examples of libraries that offer digital picture collections on their websites:
"The Master Drawings Collection (about 5,000 original drawings) offers works by artists of various nationalities. Although most of the images date from between 1830 and 1930, the oldest drawings were created before 1600 and the most recent in the 1950s. The collection represents diverse styles and media and includes finished artworks as well as sketches, preparatory drawings, and designs related to fine prints, paintings, and sculpture."
"The online presentation of the Lamb Studios Archive offers images of nearly 2,500 design sketches for stained glass windows, murals, mosaics, furnishings, metalwork, and interior architecture. The drawings feature striking watercolors created from the 1860s to the 1990s, primarily for churches, synagogues, and other sacred spaces. The J. & R. Lamb Studios was founded in 1857 and is the oldest decorative arts firm in continuous operation in the United States. The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division acquired the drawings from Donald and Donna Samick, the current Lamb Studios president, in 2003. The firm’s historic business records and photographs were donated by Barea Lamb Seeley and Charles Anthony Lamb in 2004."
For authors who do not live in the United States there are several libraries that also have picture collections that can help inspire writing including:
The National Geographic contains many articles and pictures The National Geographic Photography website, for instance, contains two sections that have interesting photographs that can be used to inspire science-fiction romance authors. The first is the StarStruck Blog, which invites readers to "...discover the cosmos and go behind the scenes of space exploration." The other is the Space Suit X-Ray collection, which includes, just what you think, x-rays of all kinds of Space Suits!
NASA and Other Government Resources
It is fairly obvious that the NASA website contains pictures, which authors, writing any type of science-fiction story, can use for inspiration. However, authors may not know about the other government resources available. For example, many of the NASA images are housed on the Defense Video and Image Distribution System (DVIDS), which is "...a state-of-the-art, 24/7 operation that provides a timely, accurate and reliable connection between the media around the world and the military serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain."
I have three very early memories I'd like to
share. One is from a photograph, where I'm sitting with a book on my knee. Just
ignore my brother. The book is an illustrated Peter Pan. I must have been 3.
Then there was a big book of stories for children (in Dutch) and one of them
was the story from Winnie the Pooh when Pooh goes to visit Rabbit and eats all
his honey, so he can't get out the front door. And the third is just a memory.
My mum used to tell me stories when she did the ironing. The ironing board
would come out and I'd rush to fetch my little chair. I'd ask for the one about
Hansje and the dwarves and she'd do shirts and tell me a story I knew better
than she did. I used to correct her if she got it wrong.
after that beginning how could I not end up writing stories?
Mind you, I've done a few other things. A history
degree, teaching, and a long career in IT. But that's boring.
Tell us about your latest short story, INK:
What inspired you to write this particular
My Morgan Selwood stories are my best sellers.
Readers like to know more about characters and in Ink I explain how
Admiral Ashkar Ravindra acquired his very distinctive tattoo. Not everybody
likes Ravindra. He's been variously described by reviewers as brutal, a jerk -
and an absolutely drool-worthy hunk. Like all people, he is a product of the
society in which he was born and raised. So this little story gives me a chance
to flesh out Manesai society, and put the man into the context of his
upbringing. It's important to understand that men like him DO NOT HAVE TATTOOS.
Common troopers have tatts, not admirals. And this is a highly structured
society where a person is born into a role in life and it's not usual – or good
– to buck the rules, even if they're not written down.
So here we have it. Admiral Ravindra when he was
a youth. School's over, the Fleet Acadmey is next and in that gap, Ravindra
takes off for a jaunt in the mountains. The pleasant hunting trip he'd planned
with an old mentor turns into an ordeal where lives are at stake. If Ashkar
makes the wrong decision, he'll be the next to die.
Please share a favourite snippet from your book:
"Show me this tattoo."
For a moment Ravindra didn't move, his
face still, then his lips jerked into a brief, humorless smile. He slid a hand
down the fastenings on his long-sleeved shirt, then pulled the garment off and
draped it around the back of the visitor's chair beside him. Bare from the
waist he pivoted, graceful as a dancer, displaying wide shoulders tapering to a
narrow waist. The whole of his right shoulder was covered in lines that trailed
down his back.
Torbane shook his head. Brainless, stupid
boy. He'd hoped for something subtle, something he could ignore, or accept with
a reprimand. Although he couldn't argue the tattoo was a work of art, some sort
of flying beast, its wings raised, a crested, cruel-beaked head looking to the
right, the elaborate tail curving around Ravindra's back. The lines almost
glowed against the lad's dark skin.
Ravindra turned around, his gaze fixed on
that spot above Torbane's head again. He stood at attention. No. Many cadets
had stood at attention in that spot. Most had been rigid, about as flexible as
a metal rod. This man/boy was calm, comfortable with his stance.
"What in the Goddess's holy name
possessed you to have something like that done? You're the son of an
Which comes first for you – a character's
looks, personality or name?:
Personality first. But I admit it's mixed up with
looks. Name is dead last. I've renamed many a character more than once.
Any tips for aspiring authors?:
Work at it. Do the courses, learn the 'rules',
read writers you admire and analyse what works for you and what doesn't. Get
support from other writers. Everybody will give you that advice. Let me add a
few other things.
·Don't take all the
advice you're given, particularly from well-intentioned people who don't read
your genre. Not everybody will like or understand your work. It's your story.
·Don't over-edit. I
don't mean nuts and bolts spelling and grammar – they are essential. Get 'em
right. But I know I've nearly gutted my own work by over-editing. Other people
are better at picking up boring bits or irrelevancies than you are, but even
then, you won't get agreement. Once again, trust your own judgement.
·Don't expect to make
money. If you do, aren't you lucky?
·Do understand that
readers are fickle creatures. You don't have to be a brilliant wordsmith to
earn a bazillion. You have to find that elusive thread that catches the
collective imagination. 50SoG, Twilight, The da Vinci Code, Harry Potter. All
of them are panned for poor writing. I wish I had their financial problems.
Questions for fun:
If you had the power of time travel, is there
anything you would go back and change? Why/why not?:
Back to the Future, eh? I think I'd like to
ensure that when the first Martian colonists escaped their dying planet and set
up shop here, they'd make a real effort to put up something for us to find that
would signal our extra-planetary origins, that we would be able to find when
we're advanced enough. Maybe the remains of their spaceship, buried somewhere.
Or maybe they did and if I could go back, I could find out where to go and
look? Somewhere in Australia? Hmmmmmm
What super-power would you choose?:
I'd like to be able to fly. Imagine that, being
able to zoom around mountain valleys, skim over the ocean, see the cities like
an eagle does. <sigh>
If you could have three wishes, what would they
Have you read The Monkey's Paw? Wishes
tempt fate. I'll play with the hand I've been dealt, thanks all the same.
Coffee, tea or wine?:
Wine. A good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with a
hint of spritz and passionfruit and green grass highlights. Or a robust
Koonawarra shiraz, at least five years old, with dark chocolate and pepper
undertones. Failing that, a cup of Tetley's is nice.
What is your favourite book? (aside from one of
Now that's a hard one. LOTR was un-put-downable
for me. Anything by Terry Pratchett is a no-brainer. Then there's a lot of McDevitt,
Asimov, Clarke. In the SFR realm, I fell desperately in love with Philip
Guthrie, Hope's Folly is a favourite. Oh, and Winnie the Pooh (of course).
Favourite genre and why?:
Knee-jerk answer is science fiction but I read a
fair bit of crime (as in murder mysteries) and I read a fair amount of fantasy
in the past.
Blue. Any shade of blue.
Upcoming news and plans for the future?:
I'm percolating a new SF story with that dollop
of romance. Probably set in the Morgan Selwood universe. But I'm a great
believer in finishing stuff (hey, budding writer, are you still reading?) so
White Tiger, which is the sequel to my paranormal Black Tiger, is going to be
next out of the blocks.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to
Life’s good for 18-year-old Ashkar
Ravindra. School’s over, and he’s been accepted into the Fleet Academy. There’s
time for one last trip up into the mountains in the brand new flitter his
father gave him as a graduation present, before his real life, the one he’s
been groomed for from the day he was born, begins in earnest.
Up in the mountains not everyone is
pleased to see the privileged admiral’s son. Jealousy and ulterior motives turn
the pleasant hunting trip into an ordeal. Lives are a stake. If Ashkar makes
the wrong decision, he will be the first to die.
I've been interested in
graphics ever since I first got a PC. That was back when MSN still
had their groups and I joined one that taught Paintshop Pro and also
HTML. Yeah, I'm old.
I stumbled into
professional cover design by the simple process of making mock covers
for my own work – being able to see the “finished” product was
a huge incentive for me. When I signed ELEANOR'S HEART over to
Champagne Books, I had one such cover and enquired as to whether I
could use it. Not only did boss Ellen Smith say 'yes', but she asked it I
wanted to create more covers.
It seems that a lot of
self-published authors don't think about covers, which strikes me as
odd. What is the first anyone is going to see about your book? Cover.
What's the best way of advertising it? Cover. And yet some people
scrimp on this vital part.
Creating a decent cover
requires a graphics program which lets you manipulate pictures, a
vision of what you want, and an understanding of typography. The
cover has to capture a snapshot of the book – indicating genre and
theme. So a sci fi romance ought to have something spacey (technical
description) and a couple. Avoid clichés and cluttering, and keep it
Remember that most
purchase sites will reduce your cover to a thumbnail – check how it
looks as a reduced size and ensure it's still legible.
It you're buying stock
images there are two important things to remember. First, check the
license and ensure it's one that covers everything you want – don't
forget that you're not only going to be using it for the cover, but
for all the promotional material. Secondly, the minimum resolution
you want is 300px, even if you're just publishing electronically.
Again, when it comes to physical promotion – such as bookmarks –
you want quality to avoid “fuzzing”.
Lastly, if you can't do
it yourself, then there are artists who don't charge an absolute
fortune. Shameless self-promotion – I'm one of them. I've done
covers, Twitter and Facebook headers, and blog banners. My rates are
on my website and I have a portfolio of previous work.