The Curate’s Brother by Wendy Van Camp

The Curate’s Brother: A Jane Austen Variation of Persuasion
by Wendy Van Camp

Available on Amazon

A Regency Historical based on the characters and settings from Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion. It can serve as a stand-alone or a prequel to Austen’s book.

It is the summer of 1806 in Somerset, England.

EDWARD WENTWORTH, a young curate, is surprised by the arrival of his brother, Commander Frederick Wentworth, the “hero of San Domingo”, who is on shore leave from his battles in the Napoleonic wars and has come to spend time with the only family he has in England.

All the good Commander wants to do is flirt and dance with the ladies until he is called back to sea, but when his flirting extends to SALLY MARSHALL, an outgoing beauty that Edward always disdained as “a child”, the curate becomes aware that his opinion of Sally is sorely outdated. Meanwhile, Frederick becomes drawn to shy wallflower ANNE ELLIOT. She is the daughter of a baronet and above his station, but Frederick pays no heed to his brother’s warnings that class may prevent their union.

At the end of summer, a letter and package arrive that will change everything for the two brothers. Which will prevail? The bold action of the commander or the quiet manners of the curate?

Author Interview: John Meszaros

Author John Meszaros loves mixing together his interests in natural history, world cultures and mythology to create worlds that feel like they live and thrive on their own, apart from the narrow story of the protagonists. I’m pleased to introduce him here on No Wasted Ink.

Author John MeszarosI’m John Meszaros. I’ve worked in science education all my life, at zoos, aquariums, natural history museums, and currently a planetarium. I love natural sciences, particularly paleontology, astronomy, and marine biology. I collect books, plants, and fossils and am well on my way to transforming my house into a combination library/green house/wizard’s laboratory. I’m a big fan of cryptids and folklore and I currently run a blog about “official” state cryptids. I’m also an illustrator, and I love to weave my art together with my writing.

When and why did you begin writing?

Like many authors, I’ve been writing since I was a kid. But I first really started taking my writing seriously in college when I began submitting sword and sorcery stories to magazines.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Definitely when I started submitting stories. I mean, packaging and mailing all those manuscripts (this was just before email submissions became widespread) and collecting rejection letters really got me into the mindset of being a serious writer. That’s also when I started really analyzing the works I read from other authors to figure out how to improve my own craft.

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

My first novel is a dark fantasy set in a world based on medieval Japan. It’s about a young woman who becomes a fire-controlling demigod against her will, and her efforts to learnt to control her powers. I’ve always loved Japanese mythology and monsters, and incorporated an abundance of ghosts, yokai, magic and other supernatural happenings into my book.

What inspired you to write this book?

For the first part of my writing career I wrote short stories. I really wanted to try my hand at writing a full novel with lots of world-building. I grew up watching a lot of anime, and that sparked an interest in Japanese culture and history. I couldn’t find much fantasy fiction with a Japanese setting (though that’s thankfully changed in recent years), so I decided to write my own.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I actually didn’t discover my writing style until after I wrote this book. I have a very episodic style that comes from my experience writing short stories. My books usually have a single overarching plot driving the character’s long-term goals, but they run through many semi self-contained adventures in the process of getting there. I struggled with this style for a long time, trying to smooth it out and write in the more conventional way that you’re “supposed” to write a novel. But I realized eventually that this was the method that was true to me, regardless of what other authors and editors thought I should do.

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

I didn’t have a name for my book until the last draft. By the end I found that the underworld of Yomi played a huge role in the book. All of the conflict in the story sprang from the machinations of beings hailing from this realm, so “At Yomi’s Gate” was a very fitting reflection of that.

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

At Yomi’s Gate isn’t really a hard moral story, but a major theme of the plot is about the main character, Sakura, dealing with her own fear and anger and learning to turn that rage away from hurting other people and focus it on protecting those she cares about.

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

There are kernels of my personality and life experiences in each of the five main characters. They each have different aspects of my own emotions, creativity and curiosity, around which I’ve hung other personality traits to make them their own individuals. In particular, one of the main characters, Fumito, is a scroll painter and artist, and I share his love for collecting and telling stories.

On a more concrete level, several scenes in the underworld that are visually inspired by the time I visited the Dazu Buddhist rock carving grotto in China.

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

Ursula LeGuin has been my biggest influence. I love her stories about finding balance. Her use of Taoist philosophy has greatly influenced my own work.

I’ve also been heavily influenced by China Mieville’s weird fiction. My own settings, characters and creatures can get bizarre, and seeing how he handles odd settings helped me figure out how to ground my own stuff.

The early 20th century author Harold Lamb has also been a big influence. He wrote tons of pulp adventure fiction based in meticulously-researched historical settings, particularly Central Asia. I’ve tried to put the same level of care and research into my own world-building that he put into his.

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

Again, definitely Ursula LeGuin. Her works taught me a lot about incorporating theme and meaning into a story without turning it into a bland morality fable. Her books taught me about accepting both the bad and good sides of oneself, and that one must learn how to incorporate them together into a whole. That idea directly runs through At Yomi’s Gate, especially in Sakura’s character arc.

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

The cover was illustrated by Matthew Meyer. His style is based on old Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, particularly of monsters called yokai. I love that look and really wanted my cover to look like a print you might find at a vendor’s stall in old Tokyo. Meyer was really the only person I wanted to illustrate my cover, and I’m still glad I went with him.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

The most important thing about writing is to find the style that works best for you. There are tons of classes and how-to books that tell you that their way is the “correct” way to write. And sure, if one of those methods resonates with you, then use it. But don’t get stuck thinking that you have to find the one perfect system for writing, because none of them work for everyone. Furthermore, it might take you a while to figure out what method is right for you. I wrote for ten years before I finally found the most productive system for me.

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

My current works-in-progress are combining my passions for art and writing, so hopefully fans of my illustrations will enjoy seeing them mingle with my written words, and vice versa.

At Yomi's Gate Book CoverJohn Meszaros
Connecticut

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At Yomi’s Gate

Cover Artist: Matthew Meyer

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No Wasted Ink Writers Links

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

After a short hiatus, the top ten writing link posts have returned to No Wasted Ink. This week I attempted to focus on writing tips, but there were too many recent obits to ignor. I wanted to call to attention Phyllis Eisenstein, one of my favorite fantasy authors who passed away recently. I am a graduate of the James Gunn Science Fiction Workshop and had the pleasure to hear Mr. Gunn explain his method of intuitive brainstorming that was one of the best lectures I’ve heard on the subject. RIP to both these fine authors.

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Phyllis Eisenstein (1946-2020)


In Memoriam – James Gunn


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On Using Humor in Fiction

Reading Like A Writer by Dora Blume


Researching to know your genre
So, everyone tells you to research in order to know your genre. But what does that really mean? Today, I’m going to discuss reading like a writer.

Francine Prose wrote in her book Reading like a Writer:

“If we want to write, it makes sense to read—and to read like a writer. If we wanted to grow roses, we would want to visit rose gardens and try to see them the way that a rose gardener would.”

So, how do we do this?

What is Reading like a Writer
I’m going to assume you are experienced readers, and you have been reading books and texts like readers for a while. But for you same readers, the concept of reading like writers–or reading to identify writing techniques–is new. It’s hard to “cook up” techniques when you don’t know what to look for.

To grow, as writers, you must be able to recognize craft in professional writing and bring it back to your own work. But this kind of reading does not come easily.

The first step in reading like a writer is to read to notice the overall ideas of the story. This could be the tropes the author is using, the theme of the story, character types, anything that adds to the overall meaning. This gives you an idea of what the writing is doing in their genre. Making sure you are matching the conventions of the genre and reader expectations should be your first goal.

Second, break down the pieces, into different techniques to focus on. When doing this, ask yourself: Why did the writer write it like that? Think about why the writer used this craft and how it enhances their ideas.The point is to examine the possibilities as to why a writer might craft a piece in a particular way. Noticing writing techniques means noticing things that are close to the words, close to the text. Examples to look for: repetition, word choice, or the structure of the text. This is different than responding to reading ideas such as “It flows” or “It has great description.”

What techniques you might notice as a writer
· Repetition: repeating a word or a phrase
· The Power of Three: three words used in a row to create emphasis
· Onomatopoeia: sound words
· Interesting Punctuation: ellipses, dashes, colon, parentheses
· Figurative language: simile, metaphor, personification
· Stretching out the print
· Intentional sentence fragments: used to create rhythm and flow
· White space (Dialogue used for pacing.)
· Hyphenated adjectives

Once you’ve discovered a craft technique, name it, then try to emulate it in your own writing. I love doing this for particularly striking sentences when reading, but you can do this at the scene level too. Break down a scene and ask what makes this scene so appealing? You can also ask, why is this scene not appealing to me?

Questions to ask when noticing craft
· What did you notice as you read?
· How is the white space used differently?
· What I noticed next was…
· Many people who write often…

Form a theory about the craft technique
· Why would a writer do this?
· How does this help you as a reader?
· Are there other places in this text where the author has done this?
· When you find other instances of this, how does that affect your theory? Does it make your more certain? Does it nudge you to reconsider?
· Does this help your theory grow? If so, how?

Explore other authors
· Do we know other writers who do this?
· Let’s explore one of these texts and see if we notice any other writers who do this.
· What do you notice in these texts?
· Consider your theory and check it in this title. Are both authors doing this for the same reason?
· Is there more than one reason to use this crafting technique? What other possibilities are you thinking of?


Author Dora BlumeDora Blume is a middle school English teacher by day, writer by night. She tends to write books with spunky, bad-ass female characters, random movie quotes from the 90’s, and page-turning adventure. She lives just outside of Minneapolis with her two dogs, Jack and Bailey.  Check out her paranormal books today!

www.dorablume.com


The Planets: a scifaiku poetry collection by Wendy Van Camp

THE PLANETS: a scifaiku poetry collection
written and illustrated by Wendy Van Camp

The planets have fascinated humanity since the dawn of time. We’ve looked up into the heavens and wondered what these wandering stars are and why they are different from their more stationary cousins. In modern times, humans have sent probes to all the planets in our solar system, sending back tantalizing views from faraway worlds. The planets are woven into our culture and history. They are signposts of our journey ahead.

This collection of 108 science fiction haiku poems (scifaiku) will take you on a journey of exploration showcasing tiny moments of wonder with each of the planets of our solar system.

THE PLANETS: a scifaiku poetry collection was nominated for the 2020 Elgin Award for best speculative poetry book of the year.

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Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays * Writer's Links * Scifaiku

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