My twenty-seventeen project

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Thanks to the few of you who bothered to state their preference for a sequel in my recent blog post a few days ago It’s for you to decide, I now have my first project for twenty-seventeen. Rather, you have given me one hell of a headache – to work out if a sequel to the archaeological adventure the Forgotten Age which I wrote in 2012 is at all possible. After all Forgotten is already a sequel in its own right, in this instance to Race Against Time.

The OED definition of the word sequel is – A published, broadcast, or recorded work that continues the story or develops the theme of an earlier one. Nothing to it I hear you cry. So what’s stopping me?

First of all I need to re-read it to thoroughly familiarise myself with the story once again. Secondly I have to get myself back into full R&D mode. From memory I appear to have left the reader with the impression that I killed off the hero Nick Palmer and some of his friends by trapping them inside an ancient hermetically sealed room (The Library of the Ancients) somewhere deep beneath the Giza Plateau, between the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx. Did I, or didn’t I? I don’t recall. After all its been four years since I wrote it!

That being true, how in the blue blazes do I resurrect them? It’s not immediately obvious to me at the moment by any stretch of the imagination, hence my need to fully reacquaint myself with every aspect of the story.

For those of you who have been kind enough to read my books in the past, rest assured I’ll give it a lot of thought. If it’s at all humanly possible I’ll make it happen. But if I decide that they’re dead after all…

Either way you my loyal readership will be the first to know via this my blog. So that’s it for now. I’ve got a lot of re-reading, head scratching and note taking to do.

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It’s Research Time Once Again

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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610)

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I’ve just finished editing my old mate Derek Haines’ dystopian WIP, at the moment entitled God’s Gone Fishing, yesterday (Friday 18th March). Now at last I can turn all of my attention to beginning my research into the man pictured above, starting today with Desmond Seward’s book, Caravaggio – A Passionate Life.

For a long time now, (decades in fact) I’ve wanted to write a fiction loosely based on his relatively short, often violent, life. For anyone who has absolutely no clue whatsoever about him, let me just say that as far as I’m concerned Caravaggio was one of the most brilliant artists of his age, when he wasn’t being accused of murdering someone, thanks to his fiery temperament. Or spending time under lock and key, as he did when he got into trouble on the fortress island of Malta.

Extensive research on my part is absolutely necessary to do justice to the story. I need to glean all the known facts and fallacies about Caravaggio for the crib sheets I will need for background detail.

Here are just two of the fifty original works (not including versions he painted) that quiet clearly demonstrate his talent to anyone with an appreciation for fine art at its zenith:

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The Calling of Saint Matthew

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Judith Beheading Holofernes

Wish me luck. I’m going to need it! Why? To keep the anal retentives and other asssorted tosspots out there from attacking the end product if I get anything factually incorrect.

To this day, they never let me forget for one moment that in my best seller back in 2012, The Seventh Age, I misspelt the name of Gobekli Tepe, a neolithic site still being excavated by archaeologists to this day in South Eastern Anatolia (Turkey). To hear them complain, anyone would think that the world had ended because of one honest spelling mistake on my part. Did I ever go back to correct it? Hell no. Never acknowledge any mistake you make on Amazon, unless you have a death wish!!!

See what all you aspiring writers out there have to look forward to… ๐Ÿ˜‰

With all the months of reading/research ahead of me, I can’t see myself writing word one this year, let alone whether or not the end product will prove good enough to offer to one of the big five publishing houses. If it doesn’t come up to their exacting standards, I’ll simply publish it in Kindle form along with the ten other’s I’ve written so far…

PS – back in 2002 while on the one and only proper holiday I’ve ever had in my entire life, I actually climbed down a rickety ladder into the freezing cold underground cell Caravaggio was briefly incarcerated in on Malta.

PPS – for the less computer savvy among you, if you click on any highlighted (coloured) word on this or any other blog post of mine, you immediately gain access to pertinent information for each post. Just thought I’d mention it. One less than intelligent individual a long time ago asked me why some of the words in my posts are different colours. Needless to say they went away red faced. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand idiots…

#The Guardian #Progress Report No: 8

If you have been following all of my posts, you will have seen in Tuesday’s post how I go about visualising my female characters when writing my books.

https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/visualising-my-female-characters/

In it I mentioned the fact that I was still searching for a photograph, illustration or painting of a beautiful, full bodied honey blond who says Lynne Crawford to me. If you are wondering, she is my primary female character in The Guardian. While chatting via Facebook on Tuesday night to Robynn Gabel, a fellow writer, and dear friend of mine, she pointed out the blindingly obvious – why not simply Google honey blonds and see what’s on offer. Sometimes, like a lot of other writers, I get so totally engrossed with the mechanics of writing a story, that often I don’t see the wood for the trees. Following her advice, I finally found Lynne.

Here she is:

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I have absolutely no idea who the beautiful young woman is. But for my purposes, what is important is that hers is the image (near as dammit) which I’ve been carrying round in my head for several months now, of how I imagine Lynne looks. Before any of you who are familiar with my description of her in past progress reports feel the need to say anything, yes I do realise that her hairdo is not Lynne’s trademark severe crew cut. This is how my hero Adler, and myself I might add, eventually want her to look. Always providing that he can convince her to let her soft honey blond hair grow that is. Maybe I’ve already pursuaded him to convince her. Maybe I haven’t. You will have to wait to find out when you read The Guardian won’t you.

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Now for an update on the progress I’m making in writing the first draft of The Guardian. Yesterday morning I finally passed the ten thousand word mark while still writing chapter five. Why has it taken me so long to reach that number of words? Because with each twist and turn of the plot, I seriously need to think about it before I commit to this laptop’s screen. Plus I need to ensure that each and every word is not only correct, but also relevant. Every problem I can eliminate now, during the process of writing the first draft, is one less to worry about once I begin editing, expanding or contracting later on.

At least one thing is finally sorted out – the cover. I know that I’ve previously produced it here. But not everyone who follows my blog will necessarily have seen it. So for those who missed it, here it is:

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Finally – purely for anyone who may be interested, here is my list of characters:

Major Adler Stevens – ex UK Military Police
Lieutenant Lynne Crawford – ex fighter-bomber pilot Canadian Airforce
Professor Ephraim Adelmann – speciality, ancient languages
Captain Brett Abbot – ex Royal Marines – speciality, sniping and close quarter assassination
Master Sergeant Clifford Mayhew Jr – ex US Special Forces – speciality, demolitions
Sergeant Bayla Lombroso – ex Israeli Defence Force – speciality, medic
Lieutenant Moshe Baranovichi – ex Israeli Defence Force – childhood friend of Bayla – speciality, rifleman
Lieutenant-commander Karin Haigh – ex US Navy Seal – speciality, electronic warfare (satellite eavesdropping)
Captain Phillipe Bordeaux – ex Armรฉe de terre (French Army) – speciality, sharpshooter
Senior Praporshchik (Senior Warrant Officer) Anatole Belakov – ex Vozdushno Desantnye Voyska (Russian Airborn Troops) – speciality, Light Machine Gunner

Plus, let us not forget the whole reason for writing this book in the first place, The Guardian itself, which will remain an enigma as far as all of them are concerned for some time to come.

PS – Did you notice the hashtags in the post title? I’ve finally decided to take Chris the story reading ape’s advice to use them to help spread the word about The Guardian. Only time will tell if they work. He reassures me that they do. We’ll see…

More later

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When writing some types of fiction, how accurate do you have to be?

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Unlike some genres, when it comes to pure science fiction, if you as the author prefer a quiet life, the answer is – extremely!

If you want examples of wild inacurracy, look no further than the many sci-fi films and video games churned out by Hollywood and others. Accuracy means nothing to them, spectacular sound effects do. For instance, while it may be acceptable to have music playing in the background via a speaker system when you see a space ship travelling through space, what isn’t acceptable to the pureist is the sound made by the ship’s engines. Or far worse, the sound of any weapons being fired in the depths of space; bearing in mind that it’s actually impossible to hear sound in a vacuum. On the other hand, it is perfectly acceptable if what you are hearing is happening during a scene filmed inside the said space ship. But you just try pointing out that fact to the producers and directors responsible. They couldn’t care less. Nor could most movie goers and scifi gaming fanatics.

In that case, why is it that when it comes to a pure sci-fi book, if you as its author have the effrontary to say something about a particular phenomena that flies in the face of what is currently accepted, or when you are referring to a specific celestial body, that the nerds and others who endlessly obsess over minutiae will immediately take you to task. I can give you a ‘for instance’. I had one individual have a go at me here on my blog several months back, maybe a year, I forget exactly, when I called the Earth’s satellite a planet in one of my recent scifi books – The Next Age, after he had read it.

While learned gatherings of academics like the International Astronomical Union are emphatic that it is not, as seen here in an extract taken from one of their interminably boring papers –ย  A planet is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit, other academics argue that the science behind their reasoning is sloppy at best.

In other words, the jury is still out. Maybe I was correct, maybe the nerd was. In the end, what does it matter? If you want peace and quiet, trust me it matters. Nerds, or anal retentives as I have come to think of them, can’t accept the simple fact that your book is just a fiction. To them anything like that has to be correct, fiction or not! In that particular nerd’s case, as far as he was concerned, what the IAU said on the matter was sacrosanct, not to be flouted by a successful mid-list scifi writer like myself!

If only he could have seen my instant reaction to his hissy fit when I read it. If memory serves, it involved the rapid upward motion of the extended index finger on my right hand, in conjunction with my tongue protruding from my mouth as a loud raspberry was blown in his general direction by your’s truly.

What? What’s wrong with that? Writers are no different from anyone else. We can’t stand total idiots either. We have feelings just like any other human being don’t forget.

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Yesterday morning I had just begun to write some more of my current WIP The Guardian, when I came to a grinding halt. I had just written a mini scene involving Lynne and one of the other characters – Cliff. In it I suggested that she had sensed something when the pair were exploring a part of Mars’ surface.

Bearing in mind that the planet’s atmosphere is 95.32% Carbon Dioxide, 2.7% Nitrogen, 0.13% Oxygen, 0.08% Carbon Monoxide, with minor amounts of water, Nitrogen Oxide, Neon, Hydrogen-Deuterium-Oxygen, Krypton and Xenon, I was about to say that she had heard it, when I wondered if that was possible. So I had to stop writing to research whether or not you could hear sound on the surface of Mars.

Eventually I came across this article –ย  On Mars, no one can hear you scream. According to the article the theory is that sound does travel through the CO2 rich atmosphere, but not nearly as far as in our oxygen rich one, which means that she probably could hear sounds extremely close to her, always providing her space suit’s communications equipment was tuned to the lower frequencies of the Martian atmosphere.

But just to be on the safe side, I have inferred that she felt vibrations brought on by a tremor, through the soles of her space suit’s boots, when she stamped one of her boots down hard, indicating a void beneath her. I don’t need any more nerds taking me to task over a minute detail like that after they eventually get to read The Guardian, now do I? Chances are though that one of these idiots will do just that, arguing over whether or not Lynne would feel anything like a tremor through the thick soles of her space suit’s boots.

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I’m not the only one in the firing line. I know of one well known writer of historical fiction, Michael Jecks, who also gets his fair share of flack from idiots who complain about all kinds of things in his books. Even my good friend Robert Bauval is constantly being taken to task about his knowledge of ancient Egypt. Lets face it folks, there’s just no pleasing some people.

Well, I’d better get back to it now I’ve found out how far sound travels in the Martian atmosphere.

PS – My ego was given a major boost yesterday when one young lady, Emma Paul, said of me in passing, “Jack Eason is a master storyteller.” It’s always nice to be appreciated. Thank you for making my day yesterday Emma.

That’s all for now folks. More later if your lucky.

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Of Pie Charts And Other Things

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There is always a very real danger when producing anything related to a specific subject, in particular when presenting facts, that unless you offer a true representation of the said subject you are offering an opinion on, as in the blog post linked below, which states that only a few genres are doing well with one reader group – children, that you will be seen at best to have offered an incomplete view.

Recently I followed the link provided by Chris The Storyreading Ape’s blog to this post published on the blog Taipei Writer’s Group – https://taipeiwritersgroup.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/books-sold-by-genre-or-why-you-should-write-childrens-books/

While it is clearly headed ‘Books sold by genre, or why you should write children’s books’, it can never be considered to be a true representation of all book genres’ sales to children when so few genres are included. In this particular case I suspect that the author of the post has either created, or imported, Pie Charts to suit their purpose. At the time of reading it, I left a comment on both Chris’ site and TWG’s – “Why isnโ€™t Science Fiction featured?” So far TWG have failed to respond to my pertinent question. In Chris’ case all he could say was that he had merely reblogged their post. Like me, he had no clue why sci-fi did not appear in the breakdown of books for children.

To TWG, I merely say this – be fair. Don’t think I am making a mountain out of a Mole hill, far from it. Nor am I suggesting for one minute that you are wrong. But like most sci-fi writers, all I want is an honest reason why you decided to leave out our genre, let alone infer that today’s kids don’t like reading sci-fi based stories, when you and I both know that isn’t the case. Thanks to popular science fiction television series like Dr Who, sales of sci-fi specifically written for children is doing fine thank you very much. You would have known that TWG, if you had bothered to do your homework.

One other thing for anyone contemplating producing a post like the aforementioned, purporting to show the ‘facts’, make sure that you are doing just that, not merely using certain facts to support your argument.

To use a quote, attributed to the sixteenth American President, Abraham Lincoln – “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time”. Those of us who make our living within the literary world are not fools TWG. We are all fully aware of what sells to varying age groups and in what quantities. Being selective about the facts to suit your personal or collective point of view is never a good idea. If, on the other hand, your blog post was published to cause debate, you have succeeded. Although probably not in the way you envisioned…

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The Guardian – Another Progress Report

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Is one of these The Guardian?

As I’m halfway through writing chapter two of The Guardian, I need to take a break while I do some more thinking. Without giving too much away, I will say that at this stage in the novel there is an undeniable sexual tension gradually developing between the two main human characters – Adler and Lynne. Whether or not they become lovers, I haven’t decided yet.

I’ve just introduced a third human character Professor Ephraim Adelmann, an old friend of Adler’s. Lynne is not best pleased by his attitude towards women.

Like most of the academics I formerly worked with for twenty-five years at the University of Waikato back in New Zealand, while academically brilliant, Ephraim wouldn’t last five minutes in the real world. His speciality is ancient languages. I based him on a particular academic I have admired for years who works in the British Museum, Irving Finkel, who is an acknowledged expert on ancient languages.

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ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  Irving Finkel

I’m finding it difficult not to spill the beans when it comes to clues regarding The Guardian, which is why I constantly need to step back and seriously think about what I am going to say next. In the past, especially with my archaeological adventure The Forgotten Age it was fairly obvious what was going on. As a consequence it was an easy book to write. Well not this time. By hook or by crook I’m determined to keeping you guessing until its time for Adler and Lynne to encounter The Guardian.

More later…

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Writing the Hook

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The setting is Valles Marineris on Mars

Well, In the last few days I’ve been going over several often diametrically opposed scenarios for my new science fiction novel in my mind. I have finally eliminated all but one of them. So, now that’s settled, all I have to do is come up with the hook.

What’s a hook Jack?

I’m glad you asked me that reader. It’s a devise all writers need to employ to get your attention. In other words – we need to dangle enticing bait in front of you as an avid reader, not to mention those who normally couldn’t be bothered to read a book. You know the ones I mean, those who prefer to watch films or play endless video games instead of improving their minds with a book.

If you want an example of a hook just think back to when you last visited your local book store, or clicked on the See Inside feature of any eBook you care to name. If those first few critical sentences didn’t get your attention, chances are you moved on to the next book.

Perfecting the art of writing the hook comes through trial and error combined with years of writing experience. No writer always gets it right. But that doesn’t mean we don’t continue to perfect the art of creating the device with each new book we write. There lies the difficulty. Each new story demands its own unique hook. No two hooks are the same. How can they be? Think about it for a moment…

As for the main body of research for this new story, I’m pretty well there. Of course while I’m engaged in writing, there will be times when I’ll be doing a spot of on the job research. Even though it’s science fiction, (emphasis on the word fiction) there will still be a few who will say “that bit is not right!” Like most of their ilk, they always feel they know best. Even when you tell them, this story is not fact, it’s fiction, they will still endlessly argue the point with you, if you let them. If you write full time, as I do, you will know the particular kind of argumentative pain in the behind I’m talking about.

So, after I’ve woken up tomorrow morning, turned on the heater, consumed a pot of coffee and smoked a couple of roll-up cigarettes, I’ll begin to write the hook, after grabbing a beer for later on when I read it through that is…

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