Thursday, January 30, 2014

Free Books for BETA-Readers

Be my Beta-Reader for my new adventure novel “After the Cataclysm,” (Book 3 of the Legends of the Winged Scarab).

You will receive a free ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) in exchange for telling me in a timely manner, i.e. within three weeks,

1) about content, i.e., is there something that strikes you wrong with continuity, or believability, etc.

2) about spelling, i.e. those pesky nits that have a way of escaping me no matter how often I read through the manuscript.

3) Once I have fixed everything and published the novel, an HONEST Review on Amazon, and also, if you can, Goodreads, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.

I will send you FREE Kindle-copies of Books 1 and 2, if you wish. Of course, an honest review on Amazon, etc. of those as well would be appreciated.

Note: It would help with Book 3 if you had read Sirocco (Khamsin stands completely alone).

Please, contact me at Inge H. Borg
Only serious replies please. We writers work very hard on our craft. Therefore, I would ask that you have at least ten other reviews on Amazon.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ghost Ship Lyubov Orlova--Still Afloat

Taking one last look at the Yahoo News tonight before shutting my computer down, I almost had a heart attack--well, maybe not quite. But I did scream, "It can't be! That's MY ghost ship!"

Yes, the Lyubov Orlova is the very ghost ship I am giving a new life in my "After the Cataclysm." I surely thought she had long since slipped beneath the waves of the Atlantic and that I was free to do with her as I pleased. At least, I was right about the RATS!

I just hope she is not up to any mischief (such as crashing onto shore) before I finish my novel. Because that would surely ruin my plans for her. And they say the life of a novelist is all make-belief.

The Challenge of Writing Sequels

It was relatively easy to write Book 2 (Sirocco, Storm over Land and Sea) of my “Legends of the Winged Scarab,” that takes place in 2012. It seamlessly follows Khamsin, The Devil Wind of The Nile, which plays out in 3080 B.C. With five-thousand years between the two novels, the only tie-ins were ancient Egyptian artifacts: The Golden Tablets, their rims showing a Khepri, a winged scarab, thought to be a First Dynasty high priest’s personal crest (or perhaps a touch of vanity to be remembered in the future).

I am now in the process of writing Book 3, After the Cataclysm. It takes place two to four years later (2014-2016), and I find it infinitely harder to walk the fine line between rationalizing what is happening and why, without regurgitating things from Sirocco. Of course, one could always insinuate to “read bloody Book 2 first.”

Retelling action from a prequel is one of the main reader complaints I am trying very hard to avoid. While some brief flash-backs are necessary, I trust that they will be interesting enough not to arouse the ire of my readers.

Meantime, I keep plugging away hoping for a spring publication of Book 3 with many of the protagonists from Sirocco. I am most excited to reveal then also the name of the real ghost ship (and the website dedicated to its search) that I am using in this new novel, just as I had used a real (stolen) Rembrandt painting for the cover of Sirocco. I think it makes things more exciting and even titillating...if only someone would find them both.

 Don't Google for a ghost ship by this name--it's the new one I gave it.

(I wrote this post only hours before the real Lyubov Orlova heated up the media with supposed sightings and tales of cannibal rats - talk about premonitions)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mayday. Mayday

Researching the purported sightings of the real ghost ship I am fictionalizing in my novel “After the Cataclysm,” I came across an official website that warns mariners of hazards at sea. The dangers that lurk on an apparently empty ocean are as diverse as they seem to be numerous.

Hence, whether you are a sailor or an aviator—or even a radio amateur monitoring those frequencies--these distress signals must instill fear and empathy in your heart especially if the indication is that there is danger of loss of life. You immediately realize that someone, somewhere is in peril. Unless, of course, you are the one sending an SOS out into the ether. Then your fear becomes eclipsed by pure terror.

Most dispatches are banal, devoid of urgency and only those familiar with the way of the sea know what is behind them.

Somebody out there is in trouble, and an “assist if possible” and a “sharp lookout” – they always add that - may not be sufficient to save someone's life.

My heart goes out to those in peril. The sea can be a merciless mistress to those who love her. I may have turned into an armchair sailor, but I still hear the ocean’s siren song. I must follow it; but these days, I do it through my writing.

Bygone Carefree Days

Monday, January 6, 2014

My Most Cherished Words (3)

This is Book 3 of the Legends of the Winged Scarab, my Work in Progress, with my cover design again having received Diana Wilder’s valuable input.

In keeping with the evil winds theme of the first two books, I had originally come up with a working title of “Southern Trades” as most of the action plays out on an island off Venezuela (caressed by the Southern Tradewinds). Likely too esoteric. Then, according to the Pitch below, I thought the new title might be more fitting.

The eruption of a North American supervolcano and a ton of ancient gold throw together opposing protagonists from Sirocco, Storm over Land and Sea (Book 2) as unwilling passengers on a real abandoned ghost ship believed still to be plying the Atlantic Ocean.
Book 3 of the Legends of the Winged Scarab series plunges straight into this desperate post-apocalyptic world. Egyptologist Naunet Wilkins and her scientist husband Jonathan flee the lawless land following an uneasy offer orchestrated by Egyptian archaeologist Jabari El-Masri, a fugitive from his own country, now living on Venezuela’s Isla Margarita, owned by the fanatic art collector Lorenzo Dominguez. Did El-Masri trade the Golden Tablets and the Americans’ expertise for his own survival?
Once again, Naunet is torn between preserving an ancient treasure and sparing the world from its dire predictions just as a new ill-wind rears up and threatens the Wilkins’s escape from their hellish puppet-master.

Publication is planned for early spring.

* **

Prologue from After the Cataclysm
(Book 3 – Legends of the Winged Scarab – 2012-2016 AD)

At first, it feels as if the world simply needs to relieve itself of an irksome burden. As the ground’s shivers grow more insistent, however, people stop their holiday revelries and listen to the distant rumbles emanating from far below their feet. All of a sudden—long foretold by scientists but unheeded by politicians—the earth goes mad. With a roar felt around the globe, the North American Yellowstone Super-Volcano explodes.
Those living close to the huge caldera are quickly incinerated. Others, lucky enough to escape the pyroclastic flow, soon suffocate from inhaling airborne ash particles. For a thousand miles east of Wyoming, the fertile plains are laid bare. Much of the land to the west becomes uninhabitable. The United States of America—the world’s megalomaniac Super-Power—ceases to exist.
World dominance, for what it was worth, shifts dramatically to South America, with Venezuela at the fore and Brazil a close second. A stream of half-starved northern refugees arrives daily at Venezuela’s shores, having drifted on the tradewinds on anything that still floats. But armed patrols prevent these desperados from setting foot on land so that the shoreline soon becomes choked with their bloated bodies.
To be admitted, if not entirely welcomed, to this New World Order, one has to have connections and possess something of great value. 

* * *

Sunday, January 5, 2014

My Most Cherished Words (2)

A day ago, my colleague in writing historical fiction, the talented Diana Wilder, author of The Memphis Cycle, interviewed me for her always entertaining and informative blog. You can read the Interview here:

One of her questions was to tell her about passages in my books that I am most proud of. It made me think. From it stemmed my belief that “my most cherished words” were penned in the Prologues of my historical fiction books.

I already told you about the one for Khamsin, The Devil Wind of the Nile.
Now, let me show you the one for its modern-day but stand-alone sequel.
I really like this novel. It is current, relatable, and more on the thriller-side than its prequel (you may need some Dramamine for the stormy passages).

* * *

Prologue from Sirocco, Storm over Land and Sea
(Book 2 – Legends of the Winged Scarab – 2012 AD)

Trexa! Sorokos!”
Barely, the fishermen pull their boats onto shore when the storm arrives all in a rush, malevolent and laden with Libyan Desert sand.
“Run! Sirocco!” Again, the men cry the warning against the feared wind that had spawned over the Sahara. After giving birth to its unbridled son Khamsin, the Devil Wind of the Nile, it froths the waters of the Mediterranean and mercilessly claws at the islands in its path, scything the coastal shrub into stubble.
The old women of Crete call it The Big Tongue. Innocent-looking at first, a lazy yellow haze comes drifting north. It grows larger, turning the air into choking ochre mist. Its hot breath churns the sea and drives salt spray deep into the island’s interior. As if on cue, tempers turn sour and people suddenly find fault with friend and neighbor. Fights erupt over nothing. Secretly harbored thoughts of suicide and murder attack the mind as voraciously as wild goats strip young plane trees bare. All things bad can now be blamed on the Sirocco.
It is only when the cool steady meltemia breezes blow again out of the northwest that the island breathes a sigh of relief, and much is forgiven.

* * *
Once again, Diana matched the writing on the cover for SIROCCO to that of her design for Khamsin. (Forgive us, Master Rembrandt, but I needed a storm at sea - besides, I still hope someone will recognize this stolen painting and call the authorities.)

* * *

Saturday, January 4, 2014

To Self-Edit or Not to Self-Edit

With so many new authors popping up all over the place, the writing community threads are full of warnings never, ever, to self-edit. True, there are always a few ‘nits’ that escape us. Are we really too close to our work? On the other hand, get the wrong editor (friend, paid hireling, zealot), and you might get a lot more—as well as definitely less—than you bargained for.

Yesterday, I briefly mentioned an early mentor/reader of mine. Let me amuse you with a few instances of this self-appointed and—worse—stubbornly self-righteous 'editor' who thought his English was a lot better than this here humble foreigner’s.

When I started to work on KHAMSIN, I was eager, gullible and naive. Hence, I forked over my floppies--yes, those big black squares that swallowed your words and, if you were lucky, regurgitated them with the right prompt. (There was no e-mail yet.) My Mr. Malaprop simply overwrote the floppies with his edits without annotating what he had changed, or where. A disk-compare revealed so many of his misspellings and malapropisms, that I had to chuck the original disks (clever me: for once, I had made backups).

Here is a sprinkling of his (now actually funny) editing:

Borg:             inciting news (there was a battle brewing)
Mr. M:            exciting news

Borg:              impotent anger
Mr. M.            impatient anger

Borg:              The boat was holed (never doubt a sailor)
Mr. M.            The boat was pierced          

Borg:              roiling waters
Mr. M.            vexing waters (by now I, too, was getting vexed)

Borg:              torment
Mr. M.            termoil [sic] (couldn’t spell worth a damn to boot)

But the funniest was this one (I can laugh about it now):
Borg:              They stomped into battle the image of sustained virility.
(Naked Noba tribes wearing feathers around their neck and a protective penis tube tied around their middle—get the picture?)
Mr. M             They strutted off with a viral [sic] erection. (Evoked howling fit)

I am ashamed to say that I slammed into the misguided man like a German wrecking ball and then followed this up with a scathing letter to tell him to take his ‘viruses’ and buzz off.

All that said, I am fortunate now to have a wonderful Beta-reader who not only knows her grammar but checks my chapters for continuity. For instance, in Sirocco, I was diddling around in the Red Sea when she wrote back: They’ve sailed past Port Said; shouldn’t they already be in the Med? (Oops ... What was that I gloated about not contradicting a sailor?)

Self-edit? Yes. Over and over again.
And then pray for a knowledgeable Beta-reader. A fresh pair of eyes can make or break our reputation as a writer to be taken seriously.

So, be grateful, I say, for those kind and patient souls who read our ARCs and review our books so that the end-consumers, our readers, can be assured to get an almost flawless product. After all, where would we writers be without our readers?

Friday, January 3, 2014

My Most Cherished Words (1)

Recently, I was asked about my “most cherished words.” I admit that I am most partial to my Prologues. They set the mood, introduce foreboding, and even help clarify my titles.

When, years ago, a self-appointed ARC reader (alas, a veritable Mr. Malaprop) tried to mess with the prologue for Khamsin, I fiercely declared my words as untouchable. He circled the passage in red and wrote “Holy” into the margin. Darn right!

(In a few days, I shall show you some amusing “edits” Mr. Malaprop attempted in the original manuscript; it’s funny now, but for sure wasn’t at the time, believe me.)

* * *

Prologue from Khamsin, The Devil Wind of The Nile
(Book 1 – Legends of the Winged Scarab – 3080 BC)

Rih al-Khamsin!”
It was an eerie howl rather than a cry. It multiplied, and it traveled fast. The urgency of the warning sent the inhabitants of the far-flung settlements scurrying. In great haste, children were collected, drinking wells covered, and home sites secured. All against the onslaught of the feared wind whose turbulent airs had gathered strength from far away.
Its father, the Sirocco, was spawned over the hot desert. Before it abandoned its cyclonic origins to reach across the vast stretches of the Great Green Sea, clawing young islands along the way, racing toward the densely forested virgin coast of the primitive Northern Continent, it gave birth to its unbridled son Khamsin, the Devil Wind of the Nile.
This new turbulence then grew into adolescence over the desolate sandy expanses of the great desert, gathering strength and hot dust, reaching merciless maturity as it slammed into the broad Valley of the Nile. With the Khamsin’s arrival, the populace knew to expect accompanying sand storms; and swarms of vermin covered the ground bringing widespread devastation to the already parched land.
Only when the Great Wind’s hot fury was spent, did its evil spirits seem appeased, and the land and its people could breathe anew, and anticipate the life-giving flooding of their river once again.
Just as once again, the principles of Ma’at would be adhered to. It was their cornerstone of all life, of all culture. Its teachings were to suppress all chaos stemming from ones emotions, feelings and reactions. To keep life in absolute order. No deviation was permitted. Those who offended its strict laws were severely punished—often by a cruel death.
But during those enervating days when the incessant wind raged, Ma’at was often breached; usually calm tempers flared; violent crimes were committed. And it was said, that people vanished without a trace.

* * *
Anybody dare to comment? (I promise, I won't bite)

* * *
The amazing cover was designed by Diana Wilder, herself a prolific writer of Egyptian novels, and the author of The Memphis Cycle.