Monday, 31 December 2012

On Tour 31 Dec to 4 Jan - Cephrael's Hand

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Cephrael's Hand eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.

The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:
1. Purchase your copy of Cephrael's Hand for just 99 cents
2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
3. Visit today’s featured social media event
    About Cephrael's Hand:  Two brothers find themselves on opposite sides of a great battle, neither knowing the other is alive... A traitor works in exile while preparing for the disaster only he knows is coming... A race of beings from beyond the fringe of the universe begin unmaking the world from within... And all across the land, magic is dying. Cephrael's Hand is the first novel in the award-winning series A Pattern of Shadow and Light. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

    About the author: Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid Fantasy reader. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats. Visit Melissa on her websiteTwitterFacebook, or GoodReads.

    EXCERPT

    Ean hugged the shadows as he tried to find his way back to le Comte’s estates. He feared they’d hurt his head worse than he thought, for the twisting alleys of the city disoriented him now. He was sure he’d passed the last street corner already once, and he had the uneasy feeling that he was walking in circles.

    Trying to break the cycle, he turned into a long and shadowed alley, spotting a streetlamp at the other end. Abruptly a form reared out of the shadows. Ean reached for his sword—

    “…Ean?”

    The prince halted with his hand around the hilt. “Fynn?”

    “Balls of Belloth!” Fynnlar crossed the distance in a rush and grabbed him by both shoulders, giving him a shake. “What are you doing out here, you wool-brained fool?”

    “I might ask the same of you, cousin.” Pushing a hand to his throbbing head, Ean closed his eyes. He’d seen so much death since the last moon…so many lives lost, and for what? He couldn’t fathom the events that spun violently around him, only knowing they somehow had him caught in the whirlwind.

    “Ean, are you unwell?”

    “Hit my head pretty hard,” the prince murmured, lifting tired eyes to refocus on his cousin. “I’ll be all right.”

    “Come on. We’d best keep moving.”

    The prince shook off the numbness edging his thoughts and followed his cousin. Fog was rising from the river as they headed back toward le Comte’s villa, fat fingers sliding through the streets to leach the color from the night. They reached a corner, and Fynn paused and looked warily around.

    “Fynn, what are we waiting fo—”

    But the words stuck on Ean’s tongue, for he heard it then: a strange whispering, the whisk of silk across the rough edge of glass. The sound had prickly tentacles that pierced into the soft flesh of Ean’s inner ear and twisted there, making him cringe.

    Something flew out of the shadows and Ean swung his head after it, straining to make out what he’d seen. “What in Tiern’aval was that?”

    Grimly, Fynn held his sword before him. “A Wildling—a Whisper Lord.”

    The whispering continued, tormenting, growing soundlessly louder until it shrieked inside Ean’s skull, shattering any hope of focus.

    The Wildling shot out of the shadows again, and Ean forced his eyes to follow, to find him in the shadows where he hid.

    There.

    He saw him lurking against the wall, smiling around big white teeth. His leathery skin was pitch black , and his eyes were golden like the desert sands. The man locked gazes with him, and—

    Suddenly they were nose to nose. Ean felt the heat of his breath in the same moment that the fiery sting of steel pierced his flesh.

    Shade and darkness!   

    “Ean, he cut you!”

    “I’m all right.” But Ean grimaced as he gingerly probed the wound. “Shadow take the abominable creature.” Fynn gave him a long look. “Be ready,” and he rushed to meet the Wildling.

    The fight turned instantly vicious. Whisper Lord fought with long, stiletto daggers that speared like claws out of his gloves. His hands crisscrossed with amazing speed, never failing to find their mark on Fynn’s person, while his body twisted and spun. Fynn’s thrusts in turn only seemed to meet with the slashed silk of his garments. So fast did the Whisper Lord dart and cavort that Ean at first felt helpless to join in, for he could barely see the Wildling move until after it had happened, as if the sight had to bounce off the back of his eyes…as if he could only see the man’s reflection.

    Then Ean found his focus and rushed to help Fynn.

    The Whisper Lord marked him before he even got his blade around, a long swipe at the joining of neck and shoulder that burned bitterly. Ean realized that trying to use his sword alone would get him killed, so he pulled his dagger and dove in again. The Whisper Lord dodged like a jumping spider and managed in the same maneuver to slash a deep cut across Ean’s thigh, his daggers flashing first with the silver of steel and then dark with blood. Ean snarled a curse and staggered into the wall, teeth clenched against the pain, for the wound was angry and deep.

    Abruptly Fynn threw himself backwards, himself narrowly avoiding a deadly thrust to his gut. Those spine-like blades sliced a chunk of flesh out of his side instead. The royal cousin clenched his teeth and held one hand to his midriff, using the other to pull himself out of reach.

    Ean dove at the creature with renewed determination, his battered head forgotten in his haste to keep the man away from Fynn. He wore a malicious grin as they battled, and his golden gaze was flecked and sparkling against his face of leathery pitch. As Ean’s strength failed, the Wildling grinned even broader and began to chant in a voice like sand, “Tur or’de rorum d’rundalin dalal!  Tur or’de rorum d’rundalin dalal!” Over and over while he pressed Ean on the retreat; gleefully, like a madman.

    And then he made a sudden thrust, and Ean jumped to avoid the slashing daggers that barely missed his throat. He came down unevenly on his bad leg, and his knee buckled. Stumbling, he hissed a curse and the man bore down on him. A swipe of his hand, and three spiny daggers cut deeply across Ean’s back with their sharp fire. The Wildling’s other hand darted for his throat again, but the prince veered and twisted so the blades caught his chin and cheek instead. Ean rolled and thrust upward, but the Wildling merely laughed and arched out of his way; the weapon met only the whisper of silk.

    Ean lay panting. His dagger seemed lost along with his will, and desperation could no longer drive him on.

    The Whisper Lord advanced slowly wearing a grim smile. With the shrieking noise still accosting his skull and the loss of blood and nausea in his stomach, Ean felt only numb acceptance. Shaking, he lowered his head—

    A tall form pushed past him, knocking Ean aside as it rushed to engage the Whisper Lord, driving the Wildling back and away, taking the battle out of Ean’s hands.

    Ean fell onto his back, gasping as the last of his strength bled out of him, and lay watching his rescuer take offensive control.

    The woman’s brown half-cloak floated behind her as she advanced with long, fast strides, forcing the Whisper Lord on the retreat beneath two short swords wielded in a flashing figure-eight.

    The Wildling smiled no longer. Every thrust and swipe of his daggers was blocked by the woman’s whirling black blades. She matched him stride for stride, spinning when he spun, darting as he did, dodging as he lunged. They performed a ferocious, twisting dance of death where both knew the steps intimately and took them with ease.

    As Ean watched, the Wildling slashed his daggered gloves in a motion that should’ve gutted the woman, but she flipped out of his reach, thrusting long as she landed. Her sword met with the flesh of his side, drawing a hiss as he jumped back. He glared malevolently at her and pressed one palm to his side.

    “Merdanti,” he snarled, his golden eyes hot as they assessed her black blades.

    Arching brows with a predatory smile, she twirled her blades and lunged for him again, and once more the dance began, the meeting of their deadly weapons a rhythmic beating that seemed in time with Ean’s still-racing heart.

    And then—

    Ean thought he must’ve dreamed it, his tortured mind inventing an impression for what clearly defied explanation. The woman and the Wildling seemed to shift and slow, their cloaks floating as if suspended on the wind. Then the woman launched out of her turn so quickly that Ean lost sight of her, only to spot her again as she stood squarely before her opponent, blades crossed. With naught but a grimace of effort, she chopped her short swords crosswise through the Wildling’s neck, removing his head completely. His body toppled to the stones at her feet, paying respects to her skill.

    Silence hung in the street, a palpable blanket sewn of incredulity fringed with pain.

    The woman lowered her dripping blades and leveled tawny eyes on the prince...

    Saturday, 29 December 2012

    Blog Tour looking for Hosts - The Sullivans by Bella Andre

    Did you get a new eReader for Christmas, and are now looking for something awesome to read? Or, maybe you didn’t get anything good and want to spoil yourself a little with the chance to win that coveted eReader, some major gift cards, or other awesome prizes. Maybe you just need to relax after hurry-scurrying around all season. Well...
    Wouldn't it be nice to take a long hot bath or snuggle under your favorite blanket with a great read? Sounds like the perfect day, right? Hey, we can offer you something even better than that.

    In fact, we can offer you something seven times better!

    For starters, we can offer you up to seven review copies of Bella Andre's New York Times and USA Today best-selling contemporary romance series The Sullivans.

    We'll introduce you to—not just one, but—each and every member of the Sullivan family on their quests to find happiness. Even though most of them aren't even really looking for love, it has a way of finding them anyway. These sexy, emotional and funny novels will nurse all your literary and metaphorical desires. You'll laugh and cry right along with the characters, and get hooked into these great stories right from the very first page. They even take place in lovely California, giving you the opportunity to travel by proxy and escape the windy winter doldrums.

    What's that you say? The books sound awesome, but you're not sure why you have to join the tour to enjoy their awesomeness? There are so many reasons to sign-up. Since there are seven books (so far) in The Sullivans series and seven that will be taking part in this extraordinarily large tour, let's stay right on theme and discuss seven reasons why you need to join the fun, pronto.


    The perks

    Not only will you get to read a great novel—or two, or three, or seven—but you'll also get...

    1. The opportunity to network with other bloggers and avid readers.

    2. The option to host a guest post, excerpt or interview with best-selling author Bella Andre. This will bring new readers to your blog AND give you content for your blog—what's better, a post you didn't even have to write yourself. If your New Year looks as hectic as mine, having a guest post is almost as good as reading an awesome book... because it means I'll have TIME to READ that great book.

    3. The chance to interact directly with the author through a number of social media activities, discussions, and awesome giveaways .


    But wait, there's more!

    4. Literally, there are more books. If you love The Sullivans, you can find half a dozen more books just waiting for your eager hands and mind. AND REVIEW COPIES ARE AVAILABLE FOR ALL SEVEN! WOWZA!

    5. Kick start your New Year's resolution to read more! Plus you get hours of entertainment absolutely free—you may even win something (which makes the deal even sweeter).

    6. The Sullivans will make you fall in love. You'll love the writing, the humor, the characters, and the stories. You might even find hope for true love within these pages.

    7. If you've ever wished for your own happy ending—heck, even if you've already found it—there's something in each of these novels you'll be able to identify with. We all know life isn't perfect, and the Sullivans know that too. They're so real, reading the book is almost like watching a movie or watching somebody's real life unfold right in front of your eyes.


    Did I forget to mention the prizes?

    The prizes are ridonkulous. We've got romantic swag baskets, hundreds of dollars gift cards, an iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, AND a Sony eReader to name a few.

    Well I guess there's just one more reason to join us on the biggest tour Novel Publicity has ever put together. More books, more bloggers, more buzz and, of course, more prizes!

    Oh, did you want specific details?


    Sullivan Tour Badge
    Learn what all the buzz is about when you receive review copies of the first 7 books in this on-going series. Read one, or read them all. Or, you could host an excerpt, interview, or guest post instead–and we’ll even put that together for you.

    Tour Dates:  January 7 to 20, 2013
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Page Count: approx 300 pages each

    CAUTION: Explicit language, very steamy love scenes…and lots of emotion!

    The Prizes:

    * iPad Mini
    * Kindle Fire
    * Nook Color
    * Kobo eReader
    * $100 Amazon gift cards (7 prizes)
    * $50 Amazon gift cards (2 prizes)
    * $25 Amazon gift cards (8 prizes)
    * $20 iTunes gift cards (10 prizes)
    * Custom prize baskets for EACH of the 7 books–including items such as wine gift set, silver bracelets, romantic photo books and photo frames, eReader and smart phone skins, and MUCH, MUCH more!

    …and we’ve got special prizes just for participating bloggers


    Read summaries and excerpts on the sign-up page.


    Friday, 28 December 2012

    Tips, Tricks and Tales – Lesson 2

    Editing your Story: Draft manuscript written, now what?


    It is a truth universally acknowledged (if I may be so bold as to paraphrase Jane Austen) that once you have completed that first (albeit a brilliant or crappy) draft, that you should stick it somewhere dark and forget about it.


    http://www.dreamstime.com/the-pool17-imagefree208832
    Now before you think that it has to disappear into the murky depths of your drawers to aquire many layers of dust, it is only to let your mind rest from the exertion of writing it. If you write like I do, my mind never rests until I get to that last period at the end, you will need the break. Whether it be a day, a week or a month, step away.

    Do something else. Rest. Take a holiday. Then tackle the next bit that truly sets the tone of that jewel hidden in all the words you have bled onto your computer screen. How long this period is depends on you, but all the research I have done, and followed myself, recommend that this is one very important step towards producing your next book.

    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    Tips, Tricks and Tales – Lesson 1

    Editing your Story: Why is it necessary to edit?


    As with many other people in this world, English is not my native language, and yet I still prefer it as the language to write my stories in. Does this excuse any mistakes that I would make as a result? Never. And there are a few reasons for that, but the most important would be respect for my readers.
    If I don’t make the effort to ensure my manuscripts are as correct they could possibly be, I would be insulting my readers if I delivered sloppy work and then expected them to pay for it.
    Let me tell you the reason I decided to write this series of blog posts. When I decided to self-publish my first novel, Géra’s Gift, I was pleased that the publisher offered copy-editing services as part of the package that I purchased from them.
    I was, however, really chuffed when they didn’t find many mistakes in the manuscript. After a re-check, I found two more and then it was published with all the corrections. Of course, I am under no illusion that it was perfect, as pointed out by a friend who found three more grammar errors after it was published. Still, three mistakes in a book of ninety odd thousand words can probably be forgiven. They were not glaring mistakes either, so I wasn’t worried.
    When the short story, Hunger, was done, I decided to do my own editing, given the track record I had with Géra’s Gift. After it was published, a friend who is also an editor, pointed out some mistakes to me, and brought my arrogant self down a notch or two or three. Five errors in a 7500 word story is not the kind of quality I was striving for. Although these were minor, I was not happy since it seemed that I was getting worse not better.
    So lesson learned, I asked several friends and acquaintances, all of them writers, to proofread Perfection for me. And boy, am I glad I did. Upon reading their comments, I decided that there had to be more to this editing business, and I was right.
    Stick around as I share with you the tips and tricks that I find, and try them out as I do my final editing on Keeper of the Dragon Sword.

    Saturday, 15 December 2012

    Cover Reveal - PERFECT

    PERFECT is my next SF romance short story that is planned for publication on Smashwords by the end of the month. This is the cover that will introduce you to Dal's story

    A masters student falls in love with a famous SF author thinking that he only wants to be friends. When he wants to add benefits to the friendship, things get complicated when the transformation is inadvertently initiated. Will Andrew accept Dal or will his guilt about the past remain in the way of finding a happy future?

    The story is written in the same setting as HUNGER. The two stories are completely independent.

    Sunday, 9 December 2012

    The-Adonis by Charity Parkerson



    Blurb:

    Grecian Fantasies hosts one of the hottest balls in town, a naughty Nobody-Knows-Your-Name masquerade that is not only exclusive, but is also not for the faint of heart.
    Pleasure, fantasy, fetish, and vice are all on the menu at this ball. The only thing not up for grabs is the notorious woman behind its creation, but that is about to change. 

    Excerpt:

    “I’m Weston,” he said as he wound Rob’s ribbon around his neck, tying it in a neat bow, and making himself appear as a giant unwanted present. “What’s your desire?” Rob started to tell Weston that he desired for him to go away, but a bright yellow feather caught his eye once more, and his gaze found the Goddess across the room.
    “I need you to fetch someone,” Rob answered, deciding to use the awkward situation to his advantage.
    “Oh, yay, a threesome,” Weston cheered. “May I suggest Mike over there,” he said, pointing to a gigantic man wearing a plain black mask. “He has lumberjack hands,” Weston added cheerfully.
    Rob paused. Lumberjack hands? No, he was not going to ask. “What are lumberjack hands?”
    “You know, he can wield his . . .” Weston began before Rob waved his hand, cutting him off.
    “Never mind, I get the picture.” And he did, too. He would never be able to wash this moment from his mind. Getting back on track before things got out of hand, Rob pointed across the room. “Bring her to me,” he ordered.
    Weston’s face fell as he caught sight of the woman to which Rob referred. “I cannot,” he stammered, sounding horrified.
    “What the hell? I thought you were supposed to fulfill my desires or some shit?”
    Weston seemed honestly distraught over Rob’s aggravation. “I’m sorry. If you ask me to fetch anyone else for a bit of fun, then I am at your service, any service,” he added, raking Rob’s body with his eyes. “However, that is Theadonis and I cannot do as you command.”
    “The Adonis,” Rob repeated, sounding ridiculous even to his own ears. “I thought Adonis was a man. That is no man.” As the words left Rob’s mouth, he found himself tilting his head to one side and studying the woman closer just in case he was wrong.
    Weston rolled his eyes. “Not ‘the Adonis.’ Theadonis. That’s her name. She is the owner of Grecian Fantasies.”

    Want to read more?


    Linzé's review of The-Adonis

    I am not going to tell you the story, that would be cheating ;) but I will say this: The-Adonis is well worth the read, even if you are not normally a fan of erotica. It is a short story, about 7000 words, that left me unsatisfied at the end...because it was the end :( 
    This is not my first book written by Charity Parkerson, and it will definitely not be the last.
    Rating: 4 stars 

    Friday, 7 December 2012

    Blog Touring Author - Charity Parkerson

    On Monday, 10 December 2012, I will be hosting the release of The-Adonis by best selling indie author, Charity Parkerson. I have read the story and will also be adding my review to the details of the story on Monday.

    But here is a sneak preview of a woman who is not only a great writer, but also a great supporter of other indie authors, worldwide. 

    Oh, and by the way, if you joined the event on Facebook, I offered a discount coupon for Géra's Gift for Monday - but Charity will decide who gets it ;)



    Charity Parkerson was born in Tennessee, where she still lives with her husband and two sons. She is the author of several books including twelve Amazon bestsellers. You can like her at http://www.facebook.com/authorCharityParkerson. Be sure to visit her at http://www.charityparkerson.com and you can read her blog at http://charity-thesinners.blogspot.com
    Her “Sinners series” was voted one of the top ten best books by an Indie author in 2011- Paranormal Romance Reads
    She was named as one of the top three Indie authors of 2012- The Book Connection
    She is a member of The Paranormal Romance Guild, is a Goodreads moderator, a member of Coffee Time Romance, and co-host of The Melissa Craig and Charity Parkerson show.
    She won author of the week in August of 2011, and is a three-time winner of The Mistress of the Darkpath.
    You can follow her on Twitter @https://twitter.com/CharityParkerso

    Saturday, 1 December 2012

    NaNoWriMo - The Day After The Month Before

    November 2012 is behind us and so is NaNoWriMo for another year. My target for this year was 120k words, and while I did not make it, I did manage a respectable 100k in my opinion. But setting such a large target did teach me a few things:

    1. Make sure the house is cleaned before November, because there simply is no time for anything but the most essential chores.
    2. Practice typing such large word counts for a while, my hands are tired and even typing this blog post is taking some time.
    3. Having a Plan B in my pocket was very useful, yet again. But for such a high target this is essential as there is simply no time to sit and wonder where the plot is going.
    4. A support group is a life saver. Whether it is your NaNo group, or your writer's group, or just friends and family. Without such people behind you, a target this high becomes impossible.
     
    On this last point I have to make special mention of :
    -my husband, Francois Venter, who practiced an unusual amount of patience with my constant typing and taking my notebook computer everywhere we went, and
    -the kind people of Cherry Berry Café who not only let my write there for hours at a time, but with their enthusiasm, and great coffee, I made it with my sanity intact!

    Saturday, 17 November 2012

    NaNoWriMo - Day 17

    We decided to take a weekend away in the Drakensberg, and you have to agree the view is a spectacular one. My writing is not spectacular in progressing towards my target though, but I am getting some words in. It is difficult to write when such a scene is before me, but then again it is a terrific inspiration too :)

    Thanks for letting me share the pic, Francois! Hubby did an HDR with 5 photographs of the view from the Berghouse and Cottages in the Northern Drakensberg, near Bergville.

    Wednesday, 14 November 2012

    NaNoWriMo - Day 14

    Yes, I have fallen behind on my crazy schedule, but I am still writing and still having fun. My story has taken a few unexpected twists, but that is not really a bad thing. The end goal is still the same, my plot is only taking a more interesting route to get there.

    Thinking back, and knowing where I stand now in terms of writing it, I didn't plot as well as I should have. Lesson learned. With the editing still to be done, whenever that is going to happen, I can always fix the little glitches that have cropped up along the way.

    My favourite line so far:  "I wanted you to myself for a few minutes without them hovering over you like bees on a flower."

    Friday, 9 November 2012

    NaNoWriMo - Day 9

    I think I should call it Linzé's Insanity day 9 instead! This target is bigger than I thought, and I am still behind. We do  have a write-in tomorrow, so I hope to make some serious headway into getting the deficit smaller. Problem is also getting the 4k for everyday also done on top of the number of words that I am behind at this stage!

    To get back on target I need to double my word count (as it stands now @ 28885) in four days. So here I go, and I am not giving up, yet!

    Wednesday, 7 November 2012

    NaNoWriMo - Day 7

    I called it motivation at the beginning of the month, now I am calling it insanity! 

    My 120k target is looking more and more like a light fading away on the horizon. The weekend is coming, and I really need to put some effort in.

    Sunday, 4 November 2012

    NaNoWriMo - and its Day 4!

    I have jumped in guns blazing. After falling behind my target on Friday, I have now caught up and I am actually about two thousand words ahead at 17483 words.

    It remains a tough target that I set for myself, and I need to be spending more hours each day writing that what I have available.

    We had our first write-in yesterday and that helped a lot for me to get caught up, so that I could spend today to get ahead.

    So its a short post today - like many more to come this month - but the words are flowing, and that is exactly what I need in November.

    Wednesday, 31 October 2012

    My Alternate Life: November = NaNoWriMo

    According to my time zone, my challenge kicks off in little under three hours. I won't be awake until then, since I have to work tomorrow. But I can hardly contain my excitement, and not only for the reason that you might think. I decided not to aim for the 50k words - instead I set my own challenge target of writing a complete novel.
    And in case you didn't know, in the fantasy genre that equates to 120k words. Yip, your eyes are not deceiving you. One hundred and twenty thousand words in thirty days. That comes to 4000 each day. It is a real challenge, given work and all the other things that add up to requiring time each day. But I am going to give it my best shot.
    According to the word counter you will see here on my blog, I have to reach the 50k target for NaNoWriMo on 13 November.
    So why did I post that target here? Foolish? Perhaps, but then it will be more of a motivator I guess as it is now visible to anyone who reads this blog.
    Will I make it? I don't know. Last year I easily managed more than 60k, so I know I can do 50k. Yes, 120k is a long way to go, and I have every intention of getting there. One word at a time!

    Sunday, 28 October 2012

    NaNoWriMo - and so the fun begins!

    The Pretoria Region had its launch party this afternoon, and as usual we had lots to eat (thanks everyone), lots to laugh about (we have a funny ML) and loads to look forward to. 


    The Speech (with such a scary shirt, we had to listen to our ML!)

    The group has grown and it was exciting to meet new people who are taking up the challenge for the first time, as well as seeing the more experienced Wrimos too. Here are some of the evidence :D
    The Thinkers aka the Pretoria Wrimos
    The Plot Bunnies (Warning - they can be dangerous!)
    Our colourful goodie bags
     



    Saturday, 27 October 2012

    Today's Lesson: There is nothing new, only new tools

    Dear Reader,

    Since you have followed my journey through the history of the Kamasutra, you have no doubt reached similar conclusions: that history keep on repeating itself, we only use different tools to do it with.

    People often think that authors that publish their own books is something new - as you have seen with the Kamasutra and many other books during the course of my journey - this is not the case. In those days, submissions and query letters were not the way to get published. You approached a publisher, paid your dues, and there you go.

    Marketing was especially difficult for the Kamasutra and other books of disreputable standing (:o) with the legislation of the time. So social media marketing was born - yes, back then! They used snail mail (or should I rather call it horse mail) to market their books. Today we have email and Facebook and Twitter and blogs, and ... you got the message. The point - marketing took place via a social network, and that is exactly what we indie authors are doing today. We are linked in social networks across the globe to spread the word - by e-mouth?

    Word of mouth is an exceptionally powerful tool. Readers like a book, they say so! With reviews and star ratings, thus telling others in the network what they thought. You know what they say, good news travel fast, but bad news travel at the speed of light! So write good, and many will know about it. Write bad, and the whole world will never buy your books.

    The next lesson? Sex sells. And boy, did it sell! The Kamasutra sold hundreds of thousands of copies in its first two printings, and who knows how many are being sold today - in whatever format the book is available. You only have to look at advertising, in any media, and you know what I mean. 'nough said.

    The last lesson? And perhaps not the least. The history of the Kamasutra brought social awareness of sex education and the use of contraceptives, that to this day remain an ongoing battle in many parts of the world.

    And with that my friend, I wish you a good weekend.

    Happy reading,

    Wednesday, 24 October 2012

    And then we saw the light - Kamasutra part 7

    Since its publication in 1883, the Kamasutra lived under the blanket of pornography mostly due to the laws of the time. Even in Europe its French translation hardly had a better reputation. (Because of the clandestine way the Kamasutra was published, Burton and Arbuthnot could not claim any copyright protection, thus a myriad of illegal copies saw the light in record time) But despite the underground way of distribution, word of the English Kamasutra made its way back to India. Before too long the Sanskrit edition was published as India rediscovered its own history. This was the first time that Vatsyayana’s original sutras were published.
    A German by the name of Richard Schmidt, published his own version of the Kamasutra in 1897. Only his translation was not in German, but Latin. By doing this, he not only attempted to protect the publication, but now it entered the realm of the scholar. Although it would never reach the heights of the orignal English translation, it managed to cut its own niche in the academic world as the gold standard.
    Still its notoriety did not lessen, even as it became more well-known. Even as more sex manuals or erotic books were published, the Kamasutra, along with other publications stayed in the shadows because of the obscenity legislation. When it crossed the Atlantic in 1920, then being published by a few American publishers, it became available to a wider market. It did not signify acceptance, as one publisher was sentenced to a jail term of ninety days, because he dared to mail a copy through the US Postal system.
    Tolerance towards the publication, although indirectly, came with an amendment to the US Tariff Act in 1930, when books considered classics, or of literary or scientific importance were allowed to be imported. Not finding a main stream publisher kept the Kamasutra on the limited edition, and exclusive distribution lists for a long time. It might have been considered a classic by many, it was still classified as a dangerous publication.
    The breakthrough came in the wake of a court case where a US Federal Judge ruled a book not obscene and actually stated that “the sincerity and purpose of an author as expressed in the manner in which a book is written and in which his theme and ideas are developed had a great deal to do with whether it is of literary and intellectual merit”. The book that was awarded that judgement was DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover. This also signified open season for the publishing houses in the UK when publishing house, Penguin, also won a not guilty verdict for the publication of the DH Lawrence novel under the amended Obscene Publications Act.
    It was now more widely read, and amazingly enough, by many scholars as well. Another new English translation was published in 1961 in India, and it was imported with vigour into the UK despite efforts to limit the numbers. The only other version available was the 1883 edition, and it was only in 1987 when another English translation - done by a German Sanskritist Klaus Mylius saw the light. This was not the last translation, as others were also published with each author, like Burton and Arbuthnot, inserting their own commentaries on the text.
    The Kamasutra was now fully Westernised and yet continue as only a sex manual, the other sutras from Vatsyayana conveniently disregarded in the face of our Western culture’s obsession with sex. (Linzé’s note - I refrained from using the strong language in the book, although in my opinion, it explained the situation in much clearer terms.)

    Sunday, 21 October 2012

    Indie Publishing with a Difference - Kamasutra part 6

    Translated but not published was the Kamasutra’s fate until August 1882. For seven years Burton looked for his fortune in gold prospecting, while his friend Arbuthnot retired and went back to England to work on other stories under a pseudonym. Once they had taken the decision, risky as it was at the time, they then had to find a publisher. This should sound very familiar to the indie authors of today!

    Their problems with finding such a publisher had less to do with price, than it had to do with anonymity. Not only did the publisher have to keep quiet as to who brought the book for publication, but he also couldn’t sell via the normal public channels.

    Enter the Kama Shastra Society, the friends had jokingly mentioned all those years ago. Marketing had to be done in the same manner as publication and distribution - with the utmost discretion and secrecy.
    Letter were written to friends of friends, and the book had to be distributed by all kinds of creative means. No public reviews, no special offers, no marketing campaign to advertise.
    Only to the modern indie author, this would have meant certain blacklisting under those laws of Obscene publications. But not only did they manage to market the Kamasutra, it started a campaign on sex education, especially amongst women, and contraception albeit not in the public voice of the time.

    It was a radical time for the Kamasutra, and yet it sold thousands of copies for the two friends. By the printing of the second edition, it was issued in a more luxurious package with Benares as the author on the cover.
    Emboldened by their success, and evasion of prosecution, they issued another Indian erotic classic, this time with their initials on the title page. It was an audacious step, that raised eyebrows even amongst their supporters, as it now more than just hinted at who the authors of the English Kamasutra had been.

    Burton died on 29 October 1890 after frantically trying to complete the translation of another erotic work, that his wife burned a few weeks after his death. She wrote that she was not afraid of the work that he had done, but of the way it would be received.
    She uttered prophetic words, as the Kamasutra spend the next century not as a work of anthropological study, struggling to be recognised for its value in history, but as a pornographic publication spoken of behind closed doors.

    Sunday, 14 October 2012

    At last, they found it! - Kamasutra part 5

    Burton, posted to Trieste, remained unhappy with his fate whilst his friend Foster Arbuthnot was in India searching for the ‘book of Vatsyayana’. Although told that no Sanskrit library was without one, Arbuthnot found that to be an exaggeration. The state of Indian libraries did not make matters easier at all.

    It was only in the 1870s that the British study of Sanskrit was to be taken up again after years of neglect. Political aspirations and forcing English as the only education language into Indian schools did not endear the British to the local scholars either.
    But Arbuthnot felt that if England did not take the lead there will be others to do so. A German scholar, Johann Bühler sided with the British sentiment but was hampered by lack of funds to obtain Sanskrit manuscripts and by his non-indian status. He was however to be the key that lead Burton to the Kamasutra.
    Bühler was given permission to investigate the holdings of the old libraries in India once he realised the huge problem of the lack of preserved manuscripts. Paper were not properly looked after and there was a risk of losing all this valuable information. It was an ambitious task to catalogue every Sanskrit manuscript in India. Fortunately, he was not alone in this undertaking, but it was still a task that could not have been easy no matter how scholars helped.

    Bühler’s persistence did produce results and it wasn’t too long before the manuscripts came rolling into his hands by the thousands. But the Kamasutra was nowhere to be found. Another German scholar, Hermann Jacobi did find it, but did not tell anyone about it. And he wasn’t the only one inhibited by his prudish beliefs.

    These guys really knew how make a girl growl in frustration. Prudish or not, dammit, couldn’t they just have told someone?

    Bühler introduced Arbuthnot to an Indian scholar, Bhagvanlal Indraji who turned out to be ideal guy to help Arbuthnot in his search for the Kamasutra. After an initial awkwardness between the two, the language barrier being the greatest obstacle, Arbuthnot was elated to find out that his new acquaintance owned a copy of the Kamasutra. Although incomplete, it was the best news he had had that day!

    Without hesitation he wrote to his friend Burton, who implored his bosses (although carefully) that they send him back to India. They didn’t, but the Burtons went for a visit anyway. The friends concocted the idea of establishing a club for enthusiasts of erotics of the East, under the guise of a publication house. They would call it the Kama Shastra Society!
     
    By now the complete Kamasutra had come to Indraji’s possession. But before it could be brought to the West, the Sanscrit text had to be prepared and then translated. Indraji played the pivotal role in the preparation, from Sanskrit to Gujarati, but he was hampered by his English. That task fell onto the shoulders of Foster Arbuthnot, and a scholar named Shivaram Bhide, to complete the translation.

    Burton’s role as a translator is not that clear, since the work was done after he left India, but his contribution was definitely that of the celebrity editor. He received a smuggled copy of the final translation from Arbuthnot and set about polishing it. Limited by Arbuthnot’s requirement that the translation remain true to the original, however dry in style, Burton could only add his comments as footnotes.

    Although credit for the translation is to be laid at the doors of Indraji, Arbuthnot and Bhide, it was Burton’s notoriety and drive to find the manuscript, that brought it to the notice of the West.

    Wednesday, 10 October 2012

    The Light at the End of the Tunnel - Kamasutra part 4

    Richard Francis Burton set foot on Indian soil in 1842 after the university expelled him for unacceptable behaviour (gambling, duelling, and the worst charge - independence of mind) and his father bought him a commission in the Bombay Native Infantry, hoping that military discipline would have some positive influence. It didn’t quite happen that way.

    Burton, through various circumstances never saw any military action, but it was his extracurricular activities (ie, studying Indian languages with the help of innumerous mistresses) that lead him to a stint in the intelligence service. Although here the kind of information, and seemingly disrespectful attitude towards his superior officers, soon lead to his dismissal from that as well.

    He did however document much of what had at the time been unknown to westerners, simply because of their lack of understanding the language. After recovering from cholera, he convinced the doctor to grant him two years’ leave. This was the start of his research into the sexual culture and customs of India. It is believed that Burton came into contact with a later commentary on the Kamasutra, but since most of his notebooks were lost in a fire in 1861, it is impossible to know what he thought about it at that time. The book of love would remain in obscurity for a while longer.

    After being looked over for promotion as a translator, an unhappy Burton had to leave India. He travelled to many places including Mecca (in disguise) and wrote about his visit to the Islam holy city. While the resulting books made him famous, it also caused him to be alienated in the Muslim world. His career as a diplomat was always difficult, because people knew that he understood languages and cultures that other westerners didn’t.
    His notoriety in British society and his papers on subjects like fertility rituals and peculiar customs of Dahomey, did not grant him any favours with the Royal Geographical Society.

    Stints in the diplomatic service in various countries did not satisfy as much as his life in the East either. Through friends Burton came into contact with collections on erotica and sexual customs, later commentaries and transcripts on the subjects, that referred to their reference as the book of the ‘holy sage Vatsyayana Muni.’

    If they were to truly dig deeper into the realm of Indian sexuality, Burton and his friend then had to find that reference, the Kamasutra.

    Sunday, 7 October 2012

    Theatre, religion and painting - Kamasutra part 3

    The unbridled success of the Kamasutra flowed over into other forms of art. It was the theatre in particular that embraced the new found love for artistic expression, where sensuality found its way to the stage even more than before. Tastes were assigned to human emotion, of which the most fashionable was the taste of the “rapturously erotic”. It is thus thanks to the playwrights of the time, that the Kamasutra was kept alive, where its predecessors did not survive history.
    Poems and plays in the centuries to follow show not only remarkable similarities to the Kamasutra, there are sometime direct copying of the behaviours described that the playwrights and writers emulated in their own works.

    In later centuries the influence of the Kamasutra extended into religion even more. Only now it was more subtle and kama was brought into the realm of love at a higher level of existence, not the physical. This love was pictured as divine in essence and as such lead poets to abusing this new love in their writing – if sex now had a divine expression, they could use every single chance to exploit it, couldn't they?

    Despite all the interest in religion and eroticism, people no longer studied the original text of kama. Until about the twelfth century when a Buddhist monk (anyone else notice the irony here?) took up the baton by studying the ancient text of the Kamasutra, For by this time it was ancient. Like the writer of the Kamasutra who studied its ancient predecessor, so did Padmasri . He considered the Kamasutra to be the authoritative text on the subject, even though at that time it was far outdated for its social context.

    The monk may have used the Kamasutra as the reference, but he updated its psychological approach and added a magical touch mostly influenced by the Tantric theologies of traditional medicines. Remember the aphrodisiacs? Padmasri's recipes now included the more rustic ingredients of a hyena's eye, or coating the genitals with red arsenic, sulphur and honey, not to mention an ingredient or two that had to have made even the hardiest believer cringe.

    There were others to follow doing the same thing as Padmasri, but then added their own interpretation to some aspects of the Kamasutra. Kokkoka classified women into four categories, and thus adapted the text accordingly. (Good thing he is long dead, or he would not have lived very long in this era!)

    More and more sex manuals saw the light, but each became more obsessed with sex to the point that kama became equated with sex, instead of pleasure that originally included other activities as well. As time passed the Kamasutra became more obscured, eventually becoming relegated to the religious libraries.
    But as the Kamasutra became more forgotten so grew the visual arts of the erotic, thanks to the Persian influence of painting. There are no surviving manuscripts before the twelfth century, thanks to the lack of concern for preservation of such texts and paintings, although it seemed unlikely that there would have been illustrated versions of the Kamasutra anyway. The visual representations of the erotic can mainly be ascribed to the late fifteenth century, because of Persian predilection for miniature painting.

    It was however a British scholar, Sir William Jones, who found the ancient relic almost by accident. And it was thanks to two unusual amateur enthusiasts in the Victorian period, that not only brought the Kamasutra to the attention of the West, but also managed to let India rediscover its own erotic classic.

    Tuesday, 2 October 2012

    Where did it begin? The Kamasutra - Part 2

    Let's start with the name itself: Kamasutra. Its made up of two different words kama and sutra. Kama was sexual desire, the urge to create or procreate if you like. Sutra is a scholarly treatise, something that is used to impart pearls of knowledge or wisdom. So in essence the Kamasutra was written to be the “condensed version of the teaching of sex”.

    It was written by a man called Vatsyayana, of whom little is known, except what he writes about himself in the text of the Kamasutra. The exact date when it was written is unknown, but from other writings, it is believed that the author lived in Pataliputra (modern day Patna in the north-east of India) and he wrote the Kamasutra during the early to middle part of the third century AD.

    The book itself comprises seven books, or sections. The first describes kama in a context of the man - playboy if you prefer - preparing himself for a life of pleasure. The second section explains how he should actually go about doing it. This is also the most detailed of the books, for it seems that having sex can be quite a complicated thing. Of course, to be respected amongst his peers, the man had to be accomplished in all the techniques. They are not “just tools for successful love making, then: they lie at the heart of what constitutes an educated man”.

    Once the man has achieved the necessary skills, he could now turn to the next four books that explained the types of women that he may pursue. Clearly this could get many modern men into trouble - for various reasons - as details were given on how to woo or seduce (depending on your point of view I suppose) virgins to prostitutes. Married women were not excluded from that equation either!

    The last section is about aphrodisiacs, and even the author himself seemed sceptical about some of the recipes, recommending that readers should be careful when using them.

    The Kamasutra is not the first book of this nature, but rather a summary - a condensed version - of earlier, more extensive works, one of which was described as comprising thousands of chapters. The author thus believed that he did his peers a favour by providing them with the knowledge, but without the need for a whole library. Even in its time, it was controversial as seeking to promote physical and social pleasure, instead of aspiring towards the higher goals of dharma (duty, sacrifice, religion) and artha (material things and knowledge).

    Next time we move forward in time a little to find more of the Kamasutra's journey into our world today.

    Monday, 24 September 2012

    Did you know this? The Kamasutra - part 1

    Wow there, this is not about sex or anything kinky at all. Let me explain. At school I hated history as a subject. I didn't do badly at all, but it was the first subject I let go in favour of maths and science for my final years in high school. What does this have to do with this notorious sex manual? More than what you might imagine!

    Unless you count the books about plotting, characterization, style, grammar, writing, etc., this book is the first truly non-fiction book I have read in years.
    I am referring to James McConnachie's, The Book of Love. It describes the history of the Kama Sutra - its history and how it was originally intended to be used. I am by no means in a position to critique the contents - I am no expert in the field of history - but I have to confess that the book intrigued me. Enough. that I now own a first edition of James' book.

    Stick with me as I take you along on my journey of exploring the history of the Kama Sutra.

    Thursday, 20 September 2012

    Swords and Knives - Cover Art

    I have the privilege to have a friend that owns, designs and manufactures swords and knives that grace the covers of some of my books and short stories (and hopefully more to come). This is an interview that he kindly consented to - after some persuasion on my part ;-)

    Hi Dennis, thank you for letting me tap your brains on knife and sword making.

    Linzé: What kinds of knives and swords do you design and manufacture? Any particular reason why?

    Dennis: Knives: I like to design and manufacture folding knives and fixed blades leaning towards classical designs. I use antique knife designs of European and Mediterranean origin as inspiration for my designs. I am fascinated by history; especially ancient civilizations. Nevertheless, I also do designs conforming to more hunting knife requirements; but without compromising that old-world look. I prefer to work in Damascus steel; not only because of the ancient origins of this steel, but also because of its pure beauty.

    Swords: I prefer to design and manufacture swords that can be considered historically accurate. I am especially fascinated by European, Ancient Grecian and Roman swords designs. Some of my swords are interpretations or amalgamations of various design aspects in ancient swords that fascinate me. I am for instance quite drawn to short leave-shaped blade designs. So whether it be a hoplite, gladius, broadsword or something suited to ‘Lord of the Rings’, I am sure I must have held and handled all of them in previous lives.

    Linzé: I have noticed that they are particularly sharp, so they are real blades, not only for decoration?

    Dennis: All my blades are made to use, whether it be for hunting, food preparation or war. There is no sense in making a blade only for decorative purposes.

    Linzé: Please tell me about the skills you need to make knives and swords. Did you need special training to learn these skills?

    Dennis: I didn’t and there are certainly knife makers more experienced than I am. I have been making knives and tools since an early age. I am essentially self taught.

    Linzé: Would you consider it to be an art? Why?

    Dennis: Any skill able to transform materials in raw form into something of beauty can be considered art. Knife and sword making therefore can be nothing else but art.

    Linzé: Do you need complex or special tools for the manufacturing of the blades?

    Dennis: It depends on the methods that you use. There are essentially two methods of knife making: stock removal or forging. I prefer the last mentioned. A small amount of stock removal is still required. The basic tools required are a forge to heat the steel, steel tongs to handle the hot steel billets, a large anvil, some hammers and basic forging tools, belt sander, sandpaper, files and polishing buff.

    Linzé: You use Damascus steel for your blades. Why this kind of steel?

    Dennis: Damascus steel is ancient. Damascus steel has character and unique beauty. Each Damascus steel knife and sword is unique; fingerprinted through a forging process that cannot ultimately control the material flow. Damascus steel exemplifies the pinnacle of ancient metallurgy. Damascus steel was rare in ancient times and remains rare today. I am enthralled by it, and so are my customers.
     
    Linzé: I have noticed that the handles of the blades are also made of different materials. How do you decide which material is best for the type of blade?

    Dennis: Blades: Swords able to withstand the rigours of battle must be made in carbon or Damascus steel. I use both. Stainless steel is not ideal for this application.

    Handles: I prefer to use natural materials with character: bone, hardwoods, horn…..I like brass, red copper and again, Damascus steel.

    Linzé: You have also made rings from this steel. Is it a difficult material to make jewellery with? How do you deal with the problem that this is not a precious metal and could corrode when in constant contact with skin and the environment? (Note from Linzé: the rings can be seen on the cover of HUNGER)

    Dennis: The steel (in annealed form) can only be worked on lathe. The pattern is brought forth via etching with diluted Ferric Chloride.

    Some people have oilier skins that preclude rusting from taking place. My own Damascus ring has been worn constantly for two years without rust damage. Generally a smear of Vaseline also helps. It is a lifestyle decision and I prefer the beauty of the basic beauty of Damascus over that of gold or platinum. It is not made to last forever; but neither are we.

    Linzé: If someone would like to order a knife or sword, how can they can do that?

    Dennis: They can contact me via my website. I don’t make any custom knives. I make what I want and sell these. My business has grown so much, that I subcontract work to other knife makers on many of my more popular designs.

    Thank you, Dennis, for the information and allowing Francois Venter to take the photographs of the blades. PS: I love my Damascus ring, too!