Saturday, 27 February 2016

Ahh! The Pirates are coming! Guest blog post from E.C. Jarvis

Do you like stories with pirates? If the answer is no, then you can leave and go do something else other than read the rest of this.


Have the strange people gone? Yes? Good. Well here we are then.

I wrote a book. It’s an action/adventure/mystery/romance in the theme of fantasy steampunk. Quite a mouthful right? Really it’s just a rollicking good story about our heroine Larissa, her counterpart - a reticent yet highly skilled fighter named Holt - her genius engineer friend Cid, and a cat.
The first book The Machine is where the story starts and really you need to read that before you can read book two, The Pirate. It’s available now for only .99 (or equivalent currency in your location).

You go read that now and come back to me here, I’ll wait…

Now that’s out of the way, you want to find out what happens next don’t you? Well lucky you. Book 2, The Pirate is out on 29th February. The same team are off on yet another adventure. Poor Larissa has a bit too much to handle on her plate, and now that she has become the Captain of the pirate airship all responsibility falls squarely on her shoulders. I do like to torture my poor characters. It’s good for them (at least that’s what I keep trying to tell them. I’m not sure they agree.)

The story is fast paced, action packed, funny in places and a compelling page-turner. There’s never a dull moment in my books because who wants to write/read dull stuff? Not me, and presumably not you either.

Here’s a little sneak peak for you:

“Set the five-minute fuse going and place the bomb in the middle cell. It’s far enough away from the furnace room that it won’t destroy the ship, and far enough away from Barton not to kill him.”
“Not wanting to slaughter your way off the ship today, huh?”
“These men are only following orders.” Holt cast a wistful glance up the stairs. “Most of them, anyway. Set the next fuse when we get to the mid-deck and leave it in the staircase so the explosion doesn’t catch any of the black powder. The last two we’ll light when we’re about to get up top. How do we get off?”
“The pirate ship is sailing aft. It’s…invisible.”
“We’ll have to jump.”
“Into thin air,” Holt said.
“It’ll be there,” she tried for reassurance as she held the bomb with the longest fuse up to a gas lamp to light it. She wasn’t sure if she was trying to convince Holt or herself.
“Who’s piloting?” Holt asked.
Holt gave a grunt in response. It was not a grunt of approval.
“You think you can make it with those still attached?” she asked, pointing to his chains.
“Too late to worry about that now.” He nodded at the bomb.
Larissa jumped a little as she suddenly realized that the clock was ticking. She rushed to the middle of the corridor and placed the small bomb through the bars of one of the cells and chanced a quick glance at her pocket watch.
“Five minutes,” she whispered, heading back to Holt, who’s already started up the stairs. He’d collected a short-sword from the Captain and carried it in both his hands. Larissa would have doubted the ability of most men to be effective being so restricted. Holt was not like most men.
“What if we see people?” she whispered as they ascended.
“There are sixty-two men aboard. I would find it odd if we did not see anyone.”
“I mean what do we do if people see us?”
He turned back and cast an appraising glance over her. “Do not let people see you.”
Did that catch your attention? I hope so. If it did then you can order your copy here.

Let me know what you think if you read them. You can find me any number of places:

Happy reading!

E.C. Jarvis is a professional bean-counter (accountant) and semi-professional word spewer (author). She once got the two confused – it was not pretty. Born, raised and currently living in England. Over the years, E.C. Jarvis has managed to accumulate a husband, a daughter, and a cat.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Fearful February - Women in Horror Month and some new stories

If you were asked to list ten women who write horror, could you?

It wasn't until I was looking at the listings of authors in the last two anthologies I had work published in, Hides the Dark Tower and Once Bitten, that I really began to think about how few female authors of horror are well-known. By well-known, I mean recognisable to people who don't usually read this genre. Most would probably know Mary Shelley or Daphne du Maurier, some might get as far as Anne Rice, or even, to stretch the horror genre description to extreme limits, Stephanie Meyer. But why so few?

So why are there not more well-know women horror authors?

Hides the Dark Tower was edited by two highly respected female editors and writers, Kelly A. Harmon and Vonnie Winslow Crist. Once Bitten is published by Knightwatch Press, then under the auspices of Theresa Derwin, and these are just the tip of a bone chilling iceberg of women working in horror publishing! So why are there not more well-know women horror authors? Is it that there aren't quality submissions made by women? Or perhaps the work that is submitted by women is not the right fit for a particular anthology? It might even be that few women submit work at all. Kelly A. Harmon said that the entries in Hides the Dark Tower anthology reflected the number of submissions by men and women, "-two thirds of the book are stories written by men, one-third by women--just as two thirds of the submissions came from men, and only a third from women." She also added that if more women had submitted, more would have been published.

"Women simply do not get the same consideration or outlets for their work as do men."

Strangely, the very month I was pondering all these questions, Billie Sue Mosiman (herself, an established author of horror) posed just the same questions in her call for horror stories by women to be included in the Fright Mare anthology, a publication aimed at redressing the balance, "I don't mean to upset or demean male writers, but no one can deny fiction has been dominated by males for a hundred years. Women simply do not get the same consideration or outlets for their work as do men. I hope my anthology helps that out a little bit. I love much of the work of male writers, but I think I'd love more women writers if only they were published more often." Mosiman told me when I asked her about her motivation for the anthology.

"I noticed that all, and I do mean every single one of the authors, panellists and moderators was male."

In yet another spooky coincidence, I contacted Theresa Derwin for some statistics for this post and it turns out that she has just published the aims of her PhD in an article Hear my Voice, on the very same subject. After reading about her experience at a first time Horror con, Horror in the East, I can understand why there is a need for a more reactionary response from women writing in the Horror genre. Derwin says "This con was predominantly organised by a woman...I noticed that all, and I do mean every single one of the authors, panellists and moderators was male."
Theresa Derwin kindly shared the following statistics from her preliminary findings with me and they are alarming:
  • Sunny with a Chance of Zombies: Submissions received: total = 44 (31 male authors, 13 female authors) female submission rate of 31.7%. Acceptances: 8 male authors, 4 female authors. 
  • Crystal Lake Publishing stats open period: Submissions received: total = 144 (115 male authors, 29 female authors) female submission rate of 20.1% 
  • Wild Things: Submissions received: total = 76 (56 male authors, 20 female authors) female submission rate of 26.3%
Women have long been portrayed as secondary characters or the victims of horror fiction rather than the protagonists or strong and determined individuals.

Then there's characterisation; women have long been portrayed as secondary characters or the victims of horror fiction rather than the protagonists or strong and determined individuals. As a writer, I tend to write more male leads than female and wonder if this is due to the male-dominated diet of horror literature that I have been brought up on - writing what one reads rather than is. Since writing this post, I have been more aware of who my protagonists are and have even altered the course of some of my works in progress so that the male and female protagonists are represented in a more balanced way if not altered entirely. It is not the same for everyone. Harmon commented, "Personally, I enjoy writing stories about strong characters--male and female. For me, it's more a matter of storytelling than anything else: I find it hard to root for a weak character of any gender" With regards to editors' choices, she says, "Since Hides the Dark Tower was conceived as a book about towers, rather than people, we weren't really concerned about publishing stories with empowered female characters. However, there are several in the book--some even written by the men who submitted."

The aim is to highlight the changing roles of women in movies and in fiction both as characters and creators of horror.

This issue is so pressing that February is officially Women in Horror Month and has been for the past seven years now. The aim is to highlight the changing roles of women in movies and in fiction both as characters and creators of horror. So get out there and read some horror written by women! If you are a budding woman writer, but worry that your voice will not be heard, just keep plugging away. If you fear that your voice is too unladylike, check out the following list of the Top Ten Women Horror Writers. How many have you read? Be inspired! Make every month Women in Horror Month.

For my part, I have written The Whistler, a short horror story with a twist of Steampunk for the Mocha Memoirs Press Women in Horror Contest. (Read through the other great entries before mine which is 11th on the list!) You can also check out my new venture into self-publishing, Close Call (for now) a Wattpad publication. (This is one of those stories that changed direction after writing this article.)


Remember to leave me a comment here or on Wattpad and let me know what you think!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Stereotypical or Not: Guest Blog from Julie Burns

Today my guest blogger is Julie Burns, whose new novel The Purse has been released this month. Born in Marshalltown, Iowa, Julie has a love of mountains and dedicates her life to working with mentally challenged and/or mentally ill adults. In this post, she shares her perspective on sexuality in novels and challenges the reader to think differently.

Stereotypical or Not
Stereotypes are everywhere. The reason they exist is because there is some element of truth in them. The LGBT community knows this fact well. After all, it is often how we find each other and how others seek us out. This is never more true than in the literary world.

I have read many books geared toward an LGBT audience and there were a few that I really enjoyed. I realize now more than ever, that sex sells and it always will. Many lesbian-centered stories play the stereotypical “butch” versus “femme” setup. The “butch” girl wears flannel and works on cars and has a hot temper. The “femme” girl wears makeup, does her nails, and passes as straight in society. Some of these stories are sexual and the reader takes it for what it is: sex. Being a Midwestern gay woman who doesn’t go “clubbing”, I find it hard to relate. Many of these stereotypes are classified as a “male” and “female” role. This is why gays and lesbians always get asked, “Who’s the man and who’s the woman?” In writing, we have an opportunity to not always adhere to the stereotype but, quite possibly, to celebrate the uniqueness and forge a new path with different characters who aren’t so predictable.

Another idea prevalent in these books is the coming-out story. While coming-out stories are indeed fascinating, I think there is more to people than their sexual identity. When a story focuses on self-acceptance only, there are so many questions that don’t get answered. These include what now? It’s nice to get past the shock of being different and forging ahead to real situations (well, as real as fiction can be) and good solid characters. I really like stories where being gay is just a given and we don’t have to go through all that.

As an author, I have discovered that it is difficult to get publishers interested in a story where someone who is LGBT is a main character and not some evil villain who must meet impending death and doom. Fortunately, it’s becoming more mainstream now, and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

In all of life, there is some sense of secrecy about something—someone knows something and doesn’t want someone else to find out. That is the basic of any mystery. So, being an LGBT book sets the stage for that because no one announces they are straight. There’s no mystery there. In my book, The Purse, I did not want another coming-out story, but instead a main character who understood who she was and, even though she thought others didn’t know, she still carried along with her life, and being gay was just a small part of her identity. I think it’s important to showcase these stories because they encompass all of us. There is beauty in everyone, but there is also the struggle. The struggle isn’t always being gay or straight, or black or white. That just scratches the surface of who we really are.

Find Julie on Facebook , Twitter and Smashwords