Scifaiku – Butterfly Effect

Scifaiku - Butterfly Effect

Butterfly Effect

stalking a T-Rex
hunter steps on butterfly
past shifts future forward

*poem published in Far Horizons Magazine – August 2015

A Scifaiku by Wendy Van Camp
Illustrated by Wendy Van Camp

Scifaiku poem is inspired from a famous time-travel story of science fiction literature.

Book Review: His Majesty’s Dragon

Book Name: His Majesty’s Dragon
Author: Naomi Novik
First Published: 2006

Naomi Novik was born in New York in 1973 and raised on Long Island. Novik learned to read at an early age and her favorite books were by J.R.R. Tolkien and Jane Austen. She studied English Literature at Brown University and did graduate work in Computer Science at Columbia University. She became involved in the design and development of the computer game Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide, but soon realized that she enjoyed writing books more than creating video games.

Novik’s first novel is His Majesty’s Dragon which is the beginning of the Temeraire series. She has won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel, and the Locus Award for Best First Novel. Several of the Temeraire novels have gone on to be New York Times bestsellers and the books are options by Peter Jackson to be turned into a movie or television series in the future.

She is a member of the board for the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW), an organization dedicated to the promotion of fan fiction, fan videos, and real-person fiction.

Novik is currently a resident of Manhatten and is married to entrepreneur and author Charles Ardai. They have one child.

“And we must still try or we would be leaving our friends to fight without us. I think this is what you have meant by duty, all along; I do understand, at least this much of it.”
― Naomi Novik, His Majesty’s Dragon

His Majesty’s Dragon begins in the year four (1804) during Britain’s struggles in the Napoleonic war with France. This is a tale of alternate history where dragons are alive and well and an accepted part of the landscape. They come in many sizes and breeds. Some spit fire or acid, others can turn on a dime in the air. When a dragon hatches, humans “put it in harness” in order to control the creature and use it for the war. Each dragon imprints on a human who becomes it companion and Captain.

The HMS Reliant captures a 36-gun frigate during battle and the crew discovers that a dragon egg was being ferried within. Captain William Laurence declares the dragon egg a prize. The egg is about to hatch and Laurence gathers his officers together in the hope that the hatchling will imprint on one of them. The small black dragon with unusual six spines on his wings chooses Captain Laurence, much to his chagrin. Laurence names his new charge “Temeraire” after a second-rate French ship that was also captured and brought into service for England. The name means “reckless”.

Laurence and Temeraire are inducted into Britain’s Aerial Corps. Laurence is used to the Royal Navy where the world is spit and polish formal and he is much respected as a ship’s Captain. He is in for a shock by the change of his status when he joins the Corps. The Captains who do battle with their dragons are an informal lot and the Corps itself is looked down upon as the least of all the branches of service. Still, despite the hardship to his character and career, Laurence develops an affection for the young dragon. He learns that Temeraire is a Chinese Imperial dragon, one that is meant to bond with an emperor and is the second most rare type of dragon in the world. Only a Chinese Celestial, known for its powerful breath of “divine wind”, is more rare.

Life in the Corps takes adjustment, but Laurence and Temeraire train together to become a battle unit. He and his dragon adopt a flight and ground crew that supports Temeraire in his care and during battle. Laurence also meets the mother of one of his crew, Jane Roland, with whom he develops a relationship.

During the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), Napoleon’s navy and aerial strength is diminished. The moral of the Captains and their dragons is high during this victory for England, but during their celebrations, a Captain and his mortally wounded dragon arrive at Dover with important intelligence. Napoleon does not plan to send his troops by sea as expected, instead he will send them by air using transports hauled by dragons. This news ends the celebrations as the Captains prepare their dragons for combat, knowing that they will be outgunned and outnumbered.

Laurence and Temeraire fly out with their formation to meet the French aerial armada, their mission is to destroy the transports. It is the final test of their team: The young dragon who is deemed unlikely to develop a breath weapon and the former seaman transformed into a flight captain. Can they meet the challenge ahead and save Britain from Napoleon’s armada? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

His Majestey's Dragon Book CoverI’ve been a fan of books about dragons starting with McCaffery’s creations on the planet of Pern. I am also a huge fan of Jane Austen and Tolkien, so when His Majesty’s Dragon came on the bookshelves in 2006, I purchased a book immediately. I was transported into a “flinklock” world of the battles between Britain and France due to Napoleon’s rise to power in the early 1800’s. There was one little change in the history of this book, dragons were real and a part of the art of war, much like elephants were used in battle in India and other South Asian countries throughout history, but these giant creatures have wings.

Novik has a way of blending the fantasy elements into the details of her alternate history story that make these ideas seem natural and believable. The tale is mainly about the relationship between Captain Laurence and the dragon Temeraire and how they become comrades in arms and close friends, but the world building that surrounds these two characters is what makes the book shine. There is somewhat uneven pacing in places. I found the training section to be slower than the progressive battle scenes with the dragons and their onboard crews shooting with powder guns at the enemy. The romance between Laurence and Jane Roland was less than to be desired and perhaps could have even been cut out.

My favorite parts of the book is when Temeraire is a dragonet onboard the HMS Reliant and the budding relationship he has with the Captain of the ship. The antics of the young dragon are incredibly cute, rather reminding one of training a new puppy. I enjoyed the Aerial Corps where the conduct is casual and more modern than Laurence is used to and WOMEN are also Captains of the fighting dragons since one of the breeds will only accept a female as its bondmate. It gives a modern edge to this 19th century tale that is a breath of fresh air. (Forgive the pun.)

His Majesty’s Dragon is the first of a series, the final book coming out in 2016. Novik is an excellent author and sure to please fans who would not mind a little fantasy and dragons mixed in with their historical regency era fiction.

The Temeraire Series:

His Majesty’s Dragon (2006) / Temeraire (UK)
Throne of Jade (2006)
Black Powder War (2006)
Empire of Ivory (2007)
Victory of Eagles (2008)
Tongues of Serpents (2010)
Crucible of Gold (2012)
Blood of Tyrants (2013)
League of Dragons (forthcoming, 2016)

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome back to another Monday of Writer’s Links here on No Wasted Ink. This week my online wanderings brought me to articles about general writing techniques, a few about bias in writing, and an interesting one about using your Kindle for audiobooks. I hope you enjoy them!

Comfortable misogyny

3 Easy Steps to Crafting a Language for Your Fantasy Novel

7 Things Dungeons & Dragons Taught Me About Storytelling

Electronic spying – what you can do

3 Ways To Turn Your Manuscript Into A Published Book

How to make a story stand out: Market-ready writing

#TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter Is Funny, But Also Good Etiquette

Facebook for Authors: Getting Started Guide

How to Listen to Audiobooks on Your Kindle App

The Rule and 12 Tips for Writers and Their Family and Their Friends…

You’re Writing What? by Katherine Sanger

College Students

I’m one of those people who feels like I can never learn enough or get enough education. Whenever I can, I attend any workshops or events that are local. I get to as many conventions as possible. And I have gone to school for far too long now.

My last degree was an MFA in Creative Writing.

I selected the program carefully, making sure that it didn’t have dismissive language or didn’t specify that it only wanted ‘literary’ fiction. From research, I knew that many programs looked down on genre writing, and I saw no reason to make myself suffer for two years by writing things I had no interest in.

I’d heard, many times over, that “good writing is good writing.” That genre shouldn’t count in determining if something is good or bad. Writing should stand on its own, regardless of what type of writing it is.

Yet still, during my MFA, when we had a presentation on genre work one day, the “literary” authors giving the talk trashed genre work and mocked it. But then, ten minutes later, they used examples from “Carrie” by Stephen King to show us how passive voice can be used successfully in fiction writing.

Something was clearly wrong.

Later that day, I was in a student-led workshop, and talk turned to the third-term papers that we had to write. They had to be serious research papers, ones that could potentially get published. I brought up the fact that I intended to write one about horror. Another student told me that I couldn’t possibly do that – horror was not “academic enough.” Apparently, the fact that I had actually taken classes in horror, science fiction, fantasy, and gothic fiction while working on a previous Master’s degree didn’t count. Clearly, to him, there was no value to anything that fell into a “genre.”

My frustration level was high during that residency period. High enough that I eventually talked to the director of the program. I asked him flat out if genre fiction was considered “not good enough” for the program, and I told him of the discouragement that I’d encountered so far. He was not happy. He assured me – and re-assured me – that what I had always heard was right: good writing was good writing. He saw no reason why my paper on the use of humor in horror would be rejected by a faculty member, and he wondered if I had misunderstood the presentation. I hadn’t, but it was encouraging that he thought that way.

Throughout my MFA, I ran into the same problem again and again. However, I finally figured it out. The biggest problem was that the people who felt that genre fiction was a lesser form were just not familiar with it. It sold well, and so, in their minds, it was “commercial” fiction and had no value from a literature standpoint. Of course, these same people were all trying to write the next great American novel which, as far as I could tell, would also have to sell well. Didn’t that count as a commercial writing project?

I got lucky during my final semester. My mentor, who happened to be completely unfamiliar with anything genre, was extremely open to learning. When I told her my intent was to write a short story collection of stories that centered around Cthulhu eating people who were staying in a basement apartment over time, she asked me to send her reading material so that she could learn about Lovecraft and Cthulhu. She may not be able to pronounce Cthulhu, but she could read it, and she happily (it seemed to me, anyway), critiqued my stories. She would note where she was unsure if something I had included would be known by my intended audience, but otherwise, she focused on writing. Because good writing is, after all, good writing.

Katherine SangerKatherine Sanger was a Jersey Girl before getting smart and moving to Texas. She’s been published in various e-zines and print, including Baen’s Universe, Black Chaos, Wandering Weeds, Spacesports & Spidersilk, Black Petals, Star*Line, Anotherealm, Lost in the Dark, Bewildering Stories, Aphelion, and RevolutionSF, edited From the Asylum, an e-zine of fiction and poetry, and is the current editor of “Serial Flasher,” a flash fiction e-zine. She’s a member of HWA and SFWA. She taught English for over 10 years at various online and local community and technical colleges. You can check out links to her many, many blogs at or find her at Facebook or twitter.

Author Interview: Bryan O’Raighne

Bryan O’Raighne is an author of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal, but believes that elements of romance and mystery enhances his stories. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author Brien O'RaighneMy name is Brien O’Raighne. I am a divorcee and have a son. I, also, have a daily job I go to until my books can make enough to supplement everything I need. I love to write and have been doing so for some time.

When and why did you begin writing?

I think that it is something that I have always been doing. I have always been writing and making up stories, which started with superhero stories. But I really got hot and heavy with it in my sophomore year of High School.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve considered myself that for a long time. Like I said before, I really got hot and heavy with it in my sophomore year of high school

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My current book, Royal Pains, is really being relaunched since I was released by the publisher who originally published it. Anyways, it is about Douglas Harley and his adventures to rescue Querilla Opaaca and return her home. However, that is not easy. He learns more about his family and ties to her overall. Also, on the planet of Varia there is a resistance movement trying to break the occupation of the Coalition.

What inspired you to write this book?

How long of a list would you like…Well, it is inspired by many, many things. Hmm. Here goes: Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, X-Men, Superheroes in general, Dungeons & Dragons, Babylon 5, Firefly, etc. Heavily inspired by Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Superhero mash-up

Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing style specifically is what I call free flowing. When I write, I see the scenes flowing before me as I lay them down first onto the pad of paper or spiral notebook before going back to type them into the computer.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Wow. Never really thought about this. Most of my titles just come into my head. Not really any spectacular way that I came up with the book title. It’s a fairly common title too. Found out much later about that.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Message in my books? Not really. My characters tend to be rather complicated. I show both sides of the characters. I do not tend to lump them into strictly evil, strictly good categories. I try to show the grayness that they lie in.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Not by a long shot. I try to let my characters tell me who they are and what’s going on. I do go back sometimes to look over the book and my characters sometimes will hand me information they left out in the beginning.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Timothy Zahn, Roald Dahl, and JK Rowling. I find that they are able to tell great stories with concise details, including dialects and imagery.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Mark Twain is who I would consider a mentor. Not because he is a distant cousin, but because he could help in the mastery of the written word. I don’t pride myself on being an expert. I know I am not. But I expect myself to get better each and every day. They day my work is perfect is the day I stop writing.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I designed the book cover. I had no other choice on selecting myself as illustrator. This cover was initially started with my previous publisher, but the cover artist left before it could be completed. Thus, I took over and added the rest of the other elements to it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My advice to other writers. The obvious is to write. But what are you going to write. You need inspiration. So, take in everything that you can through books, movies, TV, life itself. You never know what you will use to be the writer you will be. Also, remember this simple fact, your first work WILL NEVER be your best it will be your worst, but that’s okay because it sets your bar for you to climb above and continually raise to beat.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I hope you enjoy this book. It is relaunched since being dropped by Ravenswood Publishing. It will arrive through Rising Dragons Publishing. There are new material and edits that were not there before.

Book Cover Royal PainsBrien O’Raighne
Houston, TX

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