Saturday, February 26, 2011

Author sues over poor review

Karin N. Calvo-Goller, a lecturer at a law college in Israel, wrote a book called The Trial Proceedings of the International Criminal Court. This was released by Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, and reviewed by a professor at the University of Cologne. A site called Global Law Books published the review, which was not a favorable one.

So Calvo-Goller filed a lawsuit in a French court.

Meaning that the Israel-based author of a book released by a Dutch publisher is suing a German professor in a French court for a review on an American website.

(This has been brought to you by a Canadian blogger.)

But on a more serious note, this goes so far beyond complaining about a bad review - or even Tweeting the reviewer's contact information - that I'm not sure what the author hoped to achieve. Publicity for her work, maybe, on the basis that anything is better than nothing?

Sadly, the book's page on Amazon now features over fifty reviews that make the original feedback look laudatory in comparison. There may not be enough countries in the world for all the lawsuits.

March 7, 2011 update : She lost.

"Considering the resulting harm suffered by the accused, he will be justly compensated by judgment against the Complainant requiring her to pay to him the sum of €8,000."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mirrors in fantasy

“Speculum, speculum,” said the Witch Queen to the magic mirror. “Dei gratia.”
“Volente Deo. Audio.”
“Mirror,” said the Witch Queen. “Whom do you see?”
“I see you, mistress,” replied the mirror. “And all in the land. But one.”
“Mirror, mirror, who is it you do not see?”
“I do not see Bianca.”
-- Tanith Lee, “Red as Blood”

Mirrors in fantasy worlds are never ordinary. They are portals to other worlds, magical devices which affect whoever looks into them or information transmitters – and even that is just scratching the surface of what they could be.

Tanith Lee’s “Red as Blood” is a dark retelling of a fairytale where Snow White is the daughter of a vampire – hence the mirror’s inability to see her. I also loved the fact that the Witch Queen and the mirror address each other in Latin. It reminds me a bit of that scene in Mary Poppins where Mary’s reflection outsings her and she doesn’t look too happy about it.

Non-sentient mirrors are more common in fantasy, though – especially those acting as gateways. Alice’s passage through the kooking-glass was one of the earliest examples, and in one of Stephen Donaldson’s novels, The Mirror of Her Dreams, the heroine is translated through such a mirror into another world. There’s an art to making such mirrors so that they translate the correct people or things (rather than driving their creators literally insane). And the heroine, alas, isn’t the person they were hoping to obtain.

A mirror can also be a place to hide. When we look into mirrors, we usually see what we expect to see. We see ourselves. Which means someone else in that mirror, behind the shine and the silver, may go unnoticed. In Graham Masterton’s Mirror, a fading child star disappears but is actually living in a nightmarish world behind an elaborately framed, full-length mirror in his house.

And that’s not even getting into the funhouse mirrors which produce bizarre and twisted images – let’s hope the image stays within the mirror, and is never more strange than what can be explained by the construction of the glass. In Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Dwarf”, the titular character longs to be tall, but the only way he can do so is to look in one of the mirrors that distorts his reflection.

The breaking of a mirror is usually a portent.

Out flew the web and floated wide.
The mirror cracked from side to side.
“The curse has come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott.
-- Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Lady of Shalott

Mirrors can reflect what is not in reality, the reverse of what they traditionally do with vampires. They can show people’s worst sides, like the portrait of Dorian Gray. Or conversely, they could reflect what people might have been, or want very much to be (like the Mirror of Erised in the first Harry Potter novel).

One thing that’s always fascinated me about mirrors is what’s reflected if two of them are hung exactly opposite each other. Then again, I could never resist looking at the multiple reflections of myself, from various angles, in changing rooms. :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mindscape : guest blog

Setting Thesaurus Entry : Mindscape

I've liked thesauruses (thesauri?) ever since I discovered a copy of Roget's when I was twelve. That book contained lists of colors - it was the literary equivalent of the biggest box of Crayolas ever. For a year afterward, whenever I wrote something, my characters didn't just wear blue or green. They were clothed in cobalt and chartreuse instead.

Once I'd gotten over those excesses, though, that thesaurus took its place in my collection. I still have it. And another thesaurus collection extremely helpful to writers is The Bookshelf Muse.

Colors, emotions, settings, symbols... this blog has it all, along with suggestions and examples of how to use these to create evocative images and scenes. It's a wonderful source of ideas for description. And the setting entries are so varied - ranging from a tropical island to a secret laboratory.

So when Angela Ackerman graciously offered to host me on her blog for a guest post on setting, at first I wasn't sure what to write about. Medieval Castle had already been done. Manor House was an option, but I wanted something unusual, something unique to Before the Storm.

Then I thought of the Inward Way.

A psychic power that encompasses deception, illusion and control, the Inward Way also creates a dangerous mindscape. This is a place shaped by the imaginations and fears of whoever walks the Way, and Alex, the heroine, confronts one of the antagonists in this mindscape.

I immediately set to describing how other writers could use such a setting - it's very versatile, easily adapted for a futuristic or steampunk novel as well. Here's the result. Stop by and take a look! And be sure to check out the rest of the Bookshelf Muse as well.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Atlas Shrugged" trailer

I'm picky about the movies I watch, but I may go to see this one, though somehow I don't hold out much hope for it.

The novel wasn't bad per se, though I have never been able to get through the whole of John Galt's speech in one sitting. The trailer just looks... problematic, though.

According to Wikipedia's entry on the film, it's set in 2016. Five years from now and they still rely on trains to that extent?

That's not exactly my idea of a "timeless" setting. It's the nineteen-forties (trains, ladies in long white gloves) juxtaposed with modern times.

On the other hand, it's a dystopian version of the United States. That might explain why all the characters seem so whitebread except for Eddie Willers, the sole black person in the trailer. He was doomed from the start, poor guy.

This is also advertised as Atlas Shrugged, Part I. If John Galt's speech is included in its entirety, there will be at least three parts (and possibly a lot of popcorn hurled at the screen). That worked for The Lord of the Rings, but I'm not sure how intrigued audiences will be by Atlas Shrugged, especially since the trailer makes it look as though the film is all about running a railroad and dealing with government officials.

There's no hint of the mystery that kept me reading the novel. I didn't really care who John Galt was, but I was curious about why people kept disappearing. That was a lot more interesting than moratoriums on railroad bonds. The film will probably still do well, but I won't exactly be going into it with the delicious anticipation that I felt at the start of The Lord of the Rings.

I just hope it won't be a trainwreck (no pun intended) in progress.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Slavery in fantasy : guest blog

I first discovered Maria Zannini's blog through her Prudent Penny posts, though the stories of her cute Rottweilers are even better. As well as being a homesteader, she's a very talented writer and social networker, and I'm delighted to have the opportunity to guest blog on her site.

Maria suggested the topic of slavery in fantasy, which sounded great to me. Slavery can be a controversial topic, it crops up often in fantasy and it allowed me to refer to a Biblical epic.

What does the word “slaves” make you think of right away?

For me, a movie and a book come to mind. The movie is Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments and the book is Alex Haley’s Roots.

Read more here, and be sure to check out the rest of Maria's blog! You'll enjoy it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Getting more reviews : guest blog

Gemma Noon interviews writers, publicists and other industry insiders on her fascinating blog, The Literary Project, so of course I wanted a piece of the action. :)

For once, though, I took off my writer hat and replaced it with a reviewer crash helmet. The result is my guest blog on Getting more reviews - how writers can increase their chances of getting reviewers to say yes. Check it out!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Street-Smart Writer : guest blog

There are dozens of books on writing, but few which describe literary con and pitfalls and teach writers how to avoid these. But The Street Smart Writer, by Jenna Glatzer and Daniel Steven, is one of those books, and my review of it is on Writer Beware. Take a look - and keep this book in mind for any writers concerned about the sharks in the writing waters.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Setting and sex : guest blog

I was trying to think of an entertaining way to introduce this topic, and a story from my misspent youth came to mind.

When I was in grad school, I once reluctantly ended a hot date with a guy called Jason because I had to check on my bacterial cultures, but he drove me to the lab. It was eleven p.m., so no one else was there. I unlocked the door and examined my cultures while Jason stood outside.

Read the rest at Leah Braemel's blog, where she's been kind enough to host me today. And leave a comment about the most interesting place your characters have ever had sex!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Pulse of Publishing : guest blog

It's amazing how much publishing has progressed since I first started writing, back in 2001. That made me wonder if writers should be aware of all these changes - and if so, how they could learn what's being talked about, blogged about and Tweeted in this industry.

Changes always seems to be going on in the publishing industry. New publishers appear, editors change jobs, more authors are self-publishing and scams are revealed. How much of this should writers be aware of?

Read the rest on Absolute Write, where I'm guest blogging today! Preferably while drinking hot chocolate before a fireplace... temperatures over here are well below freezing. Brr.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tales from the promotion front

I made up some fliers about my book, with the cover art on the front and an excerpt on the back, and decided to give one to an instructor of mine who likes fantasy. So I taped a chocolate toonie to the front, wrote "Hi Michelle, take a look!" on a Post-It, stuck that on the flier and slipped it into her mailbox.

Today Michelle told me that when she found it, at first she was pleased to get candy. "Then I looked at the flier," she said. "And I thought, oh, that's interesting. Marian found a fantasy author with the same name as her!"

And I have a giveaway on Goodreads for a trade paperback copy of Before the Storm. If you're in the States or Canada, hit it for a chance to win!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Before the Storm (Eden Trilogy) by Marian Perera

Before the Storm

by Marian Perera

Giveaway ends February 14, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Start with the Heart : guest blog

How can we strip a romance (no pun intended) down to the bare bones of its central dilemna? That's the topic as I guest blog at The Write Type, where Cheryl Kaye Tardif is generously hosting me. I discuss how to start with the heart of the story, the core conflict between the two main characters.

“She’s the owner of a fancy restaurant. He eats there all the time” probably won’t work, but “She’s the owner of a fancy restaurant. He’s the fancier competition” has inherent tension. And ideally, readers should be able to see both sides. “She’s in love with him. But he stole all her savings and burned down her home” raises the question of what exactly she’s in love with.

Read more here!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Interview : The Blog Realm

Many blogs feature interviews with authors and agents, but Realm Lovejoy draws pictures of them as well.

I'd been searching for some information on an agent called Diana Fox, and found not only an interview with her on Realm Lovejoy's blog, but a cute picture of a lady with a fox as well. Realm graciously agreed to an interview with me, and offered to draw one of the characters from Before the Storm as well.

Now when I first planned that novel, I decided to turn a popular romance cliche around. In the story, Mayerd is tall, dark and tortured, so I pushed him off the hero podium and gave him the sidekick role instead. The end result was that most readers loved him, and everyone wanted to see what would happen to him next. I guess that was a cliche for a good reason.

I asked if Realm could draw him, and his picture is up today - dark, compelling, and showing clearly that he's not "human". So is my interview. Realm asked some thought-provoking questions.

What's your advice for effective world building?

If I condensed it to three points:

1. Know what has been done and what could be done. Read both speculative fiction and non-fiction like Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel.

Read more here and leave a comment if you enjoyed it!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Romance for Cynics - guest blog

Here’s a confession which will come as little surprise to anyone who knows me in real life. When it comes to romance, I can be very cynical.

Much as I enjoy stories where people fall in love, I grew up reading the bodice-rippers of the seventies and eighties. Those have their place, and they certainly paved the way for romances where the action didn’t stop at the bedroom door. But I read about so many alpha males and gorgeous virgin heroines that I grew very tired of them.

Want to read more? The article is at author Lisabet Sarai's spicy blog Beyond Romance, where she's graciously hosting me today. Read the rest and be sure to check out her blog!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Zero hour

Today is the paperback release date of Before the Storm. And tonight we're due for a severe storm in southern Ontario. I assure everyone that it's a complete and utter coincidence.

But if you're looking for something to read during a cold wintery night, here's Chapter 1, which is guaranteed to turn up the heat.

Also, to celebrate my impending citizenship I've decided to tell the story of how I had to leave the States, but ended up trapped in the Middle East and had to escape to Canada. Read about it here. Fair warning, though : it's sad in parts and many chapters end in cliffhangers.

But it also has a happy ending... because sometimes real life, like fiction, works out as we hope it will.