Welcome to No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links. These are a top ten of articles about the craft of writing or of interest to science fiction and fantasy readers and writers. Forgive my blue mood, but there has been far too many losses in our speculative community as of late. I want to highlight both Chadwick Boseman’s and Terry Goodkind’s passings in particular. Many bright lights are diminished, but not forgotten.
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outgoing beauty that Edward always disdained as “a child”, the curate becomes aware that his opinion of Sally is sorely outdated.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?
Losing herself in an imaginary world is quite possibly the best thing that has ever happened to Author Jeannie Wycherley. She can travel far and wide with an array of wonderful people and creatures and when it gets interesting, she can share it with everyone else. Bliss! Please welcome Jeannie to No Wasted Ink.
I’m Jeannie Wycherley. I live by the sea in East Devon in the south-west of the UK. Over the years I’ve worked as an academic, a waitress, a library assistant and as a stage manager. I have a doctorate in modern and contemporary British social history. I run a seaside gift shop with my husband (or try to at the moment, things are not great). I have two dogs that I love above all creatures and I’m fanatical about forests and wildlife.
When and why did you begin writing?
I always loved to write but I lost the urge when I started working. I was busy, I was young, I had a life. Then in 2010, during counselling for a bout of depression, I uncovered my desperate need for creativity. I started to fiddle with words again and wrote a play that was performed by a local theatre company. I then found an online virtual writing bootcamp in June 2012 with a group called Urban Writers. I loved it! There were lots of exercises to do, something everyday, and by the end of the month I had a long short story that I was quite proud of. After that I began to write every day. It became a habit. I submitted short stories everywhere and gathered quite a collection.
I took part in the Six-Month Novel challenge, again with Urban Writers, and produced my first novel. It has never seen the light of day, but I proved I could do it.
I was made redundant in September 2012 and over the next few years, I balanced freelance copywriting work and working in our gift shop with my creative writing.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Relatively recently! I published two novels, Crone (2017) and Beyond the Veil (2018) but felt like an impostor. It wasn’t until I started to work on my Wonky Inn series (first published September 2018), when the writing and the characters totally consumed me, that I realised I was a proper writer. Now I drive my husband mad because I don’t talk about anything else. He’s currently in the process of getting a proofreading qualification so he can help me out!
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
It’s called The Municipality of Lost Souls and, put simply, it’s a ghost story where some dead sailors want vengeance for their wrongful deaths. But it’s far more complex. It’s about greed, power and manipulation, love, lust and loss. It’s about the way we treat others. It has shades of Jamaica Inn and The Old Curiosity Shop and The Woman in White about it.
What inspired you to write this book?
It started life as a short story, published by the Society for Misfit Stories. It was a story that would not let me go. I knew there was far more to it, but the complexity of it put me off. It requires quite an ensemble of characters and that proved difficult to balance at times. I take much inspiration from the landscape around me. The town of Durscombe—a fictional name—is based on Sidmouth, where I live. I wanted to write about the power of the sea and have this kaleidoscope of people’s lives unfold in front of a tempestuous, glowering backdrop.
Do you have a specific writing style?
People have often remarked how immersive my descriptions are, that reading my work, whether it’s dark fantasy or cozy mystery, is a little like going to the cinema. They can see the world through my eyes.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
I have absolutely no idea! It just popped into my head. I have had some criticism for it, because of its length, but to me, The Municipality of Lost Souls, has a whole different meaning to Lost Souls. It adds place, context, era and specificity. There are so many lost souls in this book, but the most important ones, are in the town.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, but it’s not spelled out. Part of me wants readers to understand what drove me to produce this story, but not everyone will. I’m perfectly happy if they read it and enjoy it without getting ‘it’, though.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I’m getting on. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve experienced a lot. I’ve observed a lot. I’m ravenous for people-watching. Obviously, this is a historical fantasy novel, so it’s not true to life, but I’ve used my experience as a historian to add flesh to the bones. I like my characters to be flawed. This bunch certainly are!
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
So many. I drew on my love of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins for The Municipality of Lost Souls. I love their use of language. Both of these writers have wonderful villains too. Dastardly! I have several Dickensian type villains in this novel. I would add Elizabeth Gaskell and Edith Wharton to that list too. Gaskell is my favourite author of all time. She has a gentle touch, but she really packed a punch when it came to unpicking the social issues of the day.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
The beautiful cover was designed by Anika Willmanns of Ravenborn Covers. She does the most magnificent work. I wanted something ghostly and tempestuous and I wanted to show vulnerability. I think Anika did an amazing job.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Commit! And believe in yourself.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thanks so much for reading! I can never quite get over the fact that people actually read my words! I’ve never been happier and it’s entirely down to people like you!
Over Memorial Day Weekend I was on an online panel as part of Balticon, which was held virtually. The topic of the panel was “There’s No Finish Line.”
I keep thinking about that panel as I continue to feel like I’m living the topic.
You see, I began trying to get published in earnest about ten years ago. It’s not that I hadn’t tried before, but I gave up submitting to forego the pleasure of so many rejection letters.
However, as hurt as those letters left me feeling those many years before, I kept writing, but at that point I was just writing and rewriting for myself. Then, as can happen, well, life happened. I was told I had to grow up and stop this writing stuff. Other obligations in life were far more important—and stopping was killing me inside. Oh, I don’t disagree that priorities need balance, but “growing up” doesn’t mean you should give up doing what you love. No matter if you face rejection even from those closest to you.
I learned something from taking that and fantasy is part of who I am. I had stories I needed to write and share, and I found I couldn’t let that part of me not be expressed.
So, the moment came when my life dramatically changed and I knew it was time to dust off the stories I liked the most and I proofed, edited, wrote and rewrote again. Then, I guess, you could say “I rinsed and repeated.” I began submitting again and this time, well, some editors didn’t send me rejection letters. Oh, plenty of others still did, but, well, those rejections didn’t hurt like they had before. Actually, I think I just didn’t care about the rejections. I just kept writing and started going to science fiction and fantasy conventions, which offered workshops on writing. The editors started liking what they were seeing, I guess–especially the ones who offered me my first book contracts.
Subsequently, I came to the point where going Indy made more sense, which led to my selling enough books and making enough money at it that I qualified to join SFWA, the science fiction and fantasy writers association.
I love aspects of self-publishing, commissioning cover designs, formatting for print,. while other aspects like self-promoting, not so much… Now I’ve 19 books in print. Over the years, I’ve met people who wrote and published one short story or book and stopped. I don’t really understand that. Or, perhaps, I do. Writing’s a business and not exactly profitable—except, well, when it happens to be profitable. But profit’s not everything. There’s something about it that let’s my soul sort of fly on the winds and across the stars. Fine, as an author I’m delusional… but such delusions of life on Mars or among elves really aren’t so bad for a fantasy and sci fi writer..
All I know, is there’s really no finish line.
What gives me hope for a wider readership one day are people telling me how George R.R. Martin would attend some of the conventions I have, participating on panels, and would walk down the halls unrecognized for years and years until everything changed for him. Another author I’ve come to know, who shall remain nameless, sold his first book to a major press after twenty years of publishing short stories and novels and was introduced as a new author by that publisher. He chuckled, telling me how after twenty years he was an overnight success.
Funny thing about that phrase… I watched a biography on A&E about Jeff Dunham. He too became an overnight success after twenty years and shared he was rejected as not yet ready to be on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson eight times. The ninth time he made it and found himself headlining around the country from then on… but that was only a major step toward success for him. Because he was a ventriloquist, Comedy Central wouldn’t offer him a special. They didn’t understand his appeal or that a man with dummies could truly be funny… He decided to pay for producing a special himself (he said it cost him over $100,000) and his business manager had to beg to get Comedy Central to air it. The day after it aired they called and said something was wrong with the ratings. It turned out that his special had the highest ratings they’d ever had.
That didn’t just happen. He did everything he could, practicing his skills for years, writing jokes, being creative—including sculpting his own dummies. What really echoed in me was how he’d built his “overnight success.” Like authors need to, he built a mailing list. He collected the names and addresses of those who came to his shows and when he was returning their area. Today, it’s about building an email mailing list and twitter following, but then it was about sending out postcards when he was going to be performing within 50 miles of where his fans lived, encouraging them to buy tickets and bring their friends. That’s how he built his fan base, so when that Comedy Central special aired, they were watching… Jeff Dunham’s a story teller. I’m a story teller–I just throw the voices on the printed page and have a lot more work to do until I hit that twenty year benchmark hopefully can become an overnight success.
I have to keep telling myself, write, write, edit, rewrite, edit, proof, submit stories, self-publish as I choose, and most of all keep dreaming… telling myself the day will come.
So I promote my books as best I can—while the day job pays the bills, provides the medical insurance, and try to keep balance in my life as best I can.
So I speak on panels at conventions—even if must be virtually these days, do a talk on science fiction like one I recently did on Zoom, write, rewrite, edit, proof, and repeat. Oh, and the recipe includes promote, promote, seek out a new advance reader while I’m at it—and seek precious reviews. Oh, what the other authors on that panel at Balticon with me included from their own experience — work on more than one project at a time. One book may be with a publisher for months, while another is being written and others already published need to continue to be promoted.
There’s one other thing. The more I write the better I get at it. The characters and stories just keep whispering in my dreams, becoming more real as I write them. Truth be told, those pesky characters keep wanting me to share their tales and won’t let me stop.
Oh, along those lines, I’ve a number of book projects about ready for publication or just launched. I recently published Lessers Not Losers, a Young Adult novel with an unusual take on an origin story for would-be Superheroes, which I hope to become the first book in a trilogy or series.
D.H. Aire likes to blend genres, mixing his science fiction with a touch of fantasy, and especially blending his epic fantasy with a science fiction twist, which has found expression in his writing of his Highmage’s Plight Series and The Hands of the Highmage Series, and the more contemporary Dare2Believe series. He is also the author of the space opera series, Terran Catalyst. His most recently published book includes Nowhere to Go But Mars, a novella, and the forthcoming Knight of the Broken Table. His short stories have appeared in ezines and anthologies. D.H. Aire is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. To learn more about Lessers Not Losers and his other projects, visit the author’s website, www.dhaire.net, or follow him on Twitter at @dare2believe1 or Dare 2 Believe on Facebook.