Monday, August 25, 2014

Enter Your Unpublished Novel into the RobinHood Press Annual Fantasy Novel Award

While browsing the net, I came across the RobinHood Press annual fantasy novel award and decided it was worth sharing with you. This award is only for previously unpublished novels of 250 pages or more, and no first person POVs are accepted.

It appears all genres are accepted and entry seems to be free.

The deadline for submissions is 30 November 2014, and the three winners will be announced on 31 December 2014.

Interested authors can read the other rules and submission requirements here.

Good luck!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

5 Famous Assassinations

1. Martin Luther King Jr: A civil rights activist who fought for the rights of African-Americans, King made no bones about the fact that he was anti-violence. His white supremacist opponents were involved in beatings, murders and bombings in an attempt to retain the status quo. King eventually fell victim to their actions on 4 April 1968, when he was shot. A petty criminal named James Earl Ray was convicted for the assassination, but, to this day, there are rumours that the assassination was commissioned by the government.

2. John Lennon: A former member of the popular 1960’s rock band, The Beatles, Lennon was shot dead when entering his New York home on 8 December 1980. Mark David Chapman was arrested for the assassination. At his trial, in which he ultimately pleaded guilty, he stated that it was ‘the will of God’.

3. Abraham Lincoln: The man whom many view as the greatest American President of all time was shot dead on 14 April 1865 while attending a play. John Wilkes Booth, an actor, was arrested for the crime – the assassin didn’t even try to run or hide his identity.

4. John F. Kennedy: This American President was killed by a sniper on 22 November 1963. Investigations concluded that the sniper, ex-Marine Lee Harvey Oswald, had acted alone. However, many believe this to be untrue, claiming that there was actually more than one shooter.

5. Mohandas K. Gandhi: Famous for leading India’s independence from Great Britain, Gandhi was shot to death on 30 January 1948. The shooter was Hindu nationalist Nathuram Godse, who believed that non-violence was the wrong approach and that Muslims were receiving preferential treatment.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Your Soul Trapped on the Internet

According to a recent Gizmodo article, some scientists believe that, when the human body dies or is dying, we will be capable of saving the mind on the internet. According to these experts, this could be possible within the next thirty years.

The technicalities aside, would this truly be you, your soul, or just a copy of what was once you? If the latter, I can see the temptation to save brilliant minds that have the capability to further the human race. Just imagine where we would be today if Tesla was still alive! However, as far as immortality goes, I doubt one’s ethereal soul could be contained within the internet. Even if it was possible, would you really want to be trapped in the internet – until the end of time as we know it?

Never mind that, what guarantees do we have that the consciousnesses held within the internet won’t develop a will of their own, create chaos and be humanity’s undoing? None whatsoever.

Would this be true immortality and would we want to be immortal when we have lost the ability to feel the wind in our hair and the sun warming our faces? As with most things, I believe natural is better. While immortality is enticing, I would prefer to remain in my natural body. What about you? Would you jump at the chance for digital immortality, or take your chances with The Beyond?

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Stealth Assassination

While many assassinations are public, assassination is obviously best performed in stealth to avoid capture, which is probably why many assassins tend to be more discreet in their attempts.

For example, during the French Revolution, in 1793, Jean-Paul Marat, a radical French journalist, was assassinated while taking a bath. Under the pretence of being a journalist who wanted to interview Marat, Charlotte Corday, who supported the opposition Girondists, gained access to his private chambers, and the rest is history. Over two centuries later, al-Qaeda, a Muslim terrorist organisation, used the same pretence to get close to the Northern Alliance rebel leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud. In the latter case, however, the two assassins were killed along with the target when their fake camera exploded.

Another famous example of a stealth assassination was that of Leon Trotsky in 1940. Trotsky’s rival, Josef Stalin, had him exiled, but still had the KGB track him, with the intention of assassinating him. Trotsky’s assassinator, Ramón Mercader, also posed as a journalist to obtain a private interview, even going as far as to seduce a woman with close ties to Trotsky in order to gain his trust.

Even the CIA is alleged to have carried out or supported many stealth assassinations, including a botched attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro by poisoning his cigar. Many believe the CIA also supported or had a hand in the assassinations and attempted assassination of myriad world leaders, such as Saddam Hussein. Some believe the CIA was also behind the Kennedy assassination. What do you think?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

3 Ways Indie Authors Can Improve Self-Publishing

With self-publishing being so easy nowadays, anyone can publish a book. However, the fact that there is no quality control over self-published books creates a problem for readers, with so many authors who think it’s okay to write the last word, slap together any old cover and then publish. While this may be perfectly legal and there is no one to stop anyone from doing this, no self-respecting reader will purchase a second book from these authors, and, with the free preview option most distributors now offer, may not even purchase the first book if the writing is too bad. This defeats the entire purpose of publishing, doesn’t it?

Here are three ways that indie authors can improve self-publishing, with the aim of keeping readers happy and thus creating sales.

1. Write an interesting book

It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction, your book should be interesting to those who enjoy the topic/genre. Don’t waffle with too much back story in one go, or with details that aren’t important to your plot or characters. Don’t write your life story if it’s going to be all about the sports you did in school and every girl/boy you ever dated – it’s boring and no one will find this interesting, except perhaps your friends and family. A ‘life story’ is only interesting to readers in general if you were on board a sinking ship, were kidnapped by terrorists, battled a killer disease and won, grew up in a cult environment or experienced something else that most people don’t. Also don’t copy from existing books or movies – it’s a cop out that most readers will spot immediately, and, in my opinion, is borderline plagiarism. For example, I’ve lost count of how many books there are out there with a sword in a stone. Even though these books might be totally different to the original Sword in the Stone, they still copy a key element – rather, invent your own ‘sword in the stone’ to keep readers interested.

2. Write and publish better books

Let’s assume you have an interesting book. Once you’ve written the last word, you need to read it countless times until you’re certain you’ve picked up every little inconsistency – was your character holding something important that he/she didn’t put down, yet, a few paragraphs later, he/she picks it up again? Make sure, too, that you edit for grammar and spelling mistakes, and typos. If you aren’t sure about something, never assume it’s right – do some research to find out what the language rule is for whatever you’re unsure of. Make sure that all your facts are right, even if you’re writing fiction – for example, you can’t have a character juggling old, unstable dynamite without it exploding; it’s unrealistic and will put off any intelligent readers (and most of them are quite intelligent, I assure you). Once you’re 100% certain that you can’t better the book anymore, hire a professional editor. No writer can edit his or her work completely efficiently, and an editor is vital for picking up those mistakes that you didn’t during your self-edit, and thereby preventing your readers from thinking you’re an illiterate fool (in many cases).

3. Make your books cheaper

Research has shown that readers have a tendency to purchase cheaper books, especially if the book is by an author they haven’t read before. Sure, the free sample might be enough to hook them and convince them to spend money on the book, but the reader still risks the fact that your overall story might be boring or have a terrible ending. Also keep in mind that most people only have a certain budget for books, and an extra dollar could, therefore, mean the difference between a reader purchasing your book or that of another author.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Kunoichi – Female Ninja Assassins

Female assassins may be portrayed as sexy in the movies, but victims of the Kunoichi – female ninja assassins in medieval Japan – probably didn’t think so… at least, not once they realised who they had let into their beds.

Like their male counterparts, the Kunoichi were trained in disguise, stealth and combat, but, unlike most male ninjas, they were also spies and their method of attack was quite different. In a way, the Kunoichi had it easier than male ninjas, because women were usually trusted and seen as harmless, while unknown men were seen as a potential threat. This made it easier for Kunoichi to infiltrate an enemy household or temple, posing as servants, courtesans, performers or even prostitutes.

Ninja training focussed on using the trainee’s strengths to his or her advantage, so, if a female trainee was exceptionally beautiful, she would be taught to use her looks as a weapon. Unlike many people thought in medieval times, beauty did not mean that Kunoichi were otherwise useless – these women were just as deadly in combat as any male ninja.

Ninjas were trained in the use of a variety of weapons and most could use a sword, but Kunoichi were particularly good with daggers, bladed fans, hair needles, poisons, garrottes and sharpened claw-like finger extensions called neko-te. In fact, the neko-te was usually the Kunoichi’s weapon of choice, and they often poisoned the claws. Kunoichi were also taught to dance, sing and play instruments, skills that came in handy when pretending to be someone they were not.

Kunoichi instilled greater fear than male ninjas, who were easier to discover in time to prevent the assassination. Women, however, were almost impossible to discover in time, because they entered boldly as servants or mistresses, and waited until they were trusted before making a move. Crying in order to draw in a victim was one method unavailable to male ninjas – the Kunoichi would sometimes cry, manipulating the victim-to-be into feeling as if he should help her or ask what’s wrong, and that would be the death of him.

Some of the ninjas’ assignments were suicide missions, and others were lifelong, such as in cases where the ninja was instructed to spy on someone until one of them died or the ninja’s true identity was discovered. Other female ninjas, called Mikko, guarded sanctuaries and temples, and these were mostly respected rather than feared.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

What to read after The Queen’s Blade

If you’ve read The Queen’s Blade and you want something else to sink your teeth into, I recommend my sci-fi fantasy series, The Cyber Chronicles.

The protagonist, Sabre, is as broken as Blade, yet in a rather unique way… for he is a cyber – part human, part machine – who has finally tasted a hint of freedom.

As with all my series, Book 1 is free!

When Queen Tassin is forced to flee her kingdom on the backwater planet of Omega V, she has no idea that the strange warrior who helps her is a cyborg; the deadliest hi-tech killing machine ever created. Her world has forgotten the technology that almost destroyed it, but then a freak accident damages the micro-supercomputer that controls Sabre, and he is free to take charge of his destiny…