Review of Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop

Brilliant. Bonkers. Dark. Original. Fan fiction made flesh. W.T.F!

There’s…a LOT of ways to describe Anne Bishop’s writing. She has a very singular vision, she needs a firmer editor, she’s a FANTASTIC worldbuilder.

Having stumbled on her series The Others, I read all of them last week, then – needing a further Anne Bishop fix- read this series. Wow.

Dark fantasy on STEROIDS! Murder. Magic. Rape (women, men, oh so much of it!) Bloodletting. Politics- though not as intricate as George RR Martin. (OOhh, how I’d love to read a series co-authored by those two!) An original look at what happens if the male-female balance gets out of kilter.

The Realms in this series are ruled by females. Witches and super-witches. Men are magic wielders called Princes or Warlord-Princes according to their caste. Both genders are violent. Their magic complementary. But its gone from a healthy, life affirming society to a twisted Gynocracy due to two power-hungry, corrupt, women. As they come from long lived races, the corruption has very gradually twisted the world in these books over millennia. As a result, ruling queens in various territories can by psychopathic, forcing males to be sex slaves, Warlords can be always on edge, ready to kill.

The battleground is the mind, the psyche, as much as the body. Bishop has created her own rules of magic here, filtered/amplified through the Jewels of the title. The colour of the Jewel a magic wielder has as his/her birthright, and after his/her majority, determine how powerful they are. Magic users are people of the Blood who rule countries. Non=magic people are called Landen. If you’ve ever wondered what a world would be like where hundreds of thousands of sorceresses, mages, warlocks etc openly practice, and rule over millions of normal people, well… here’s one possible glimpse. Loads of sex- but not much described- and often weaponised. Some characters well fleshed out, others 2D cliches. Lush, evocative, a little bit loony.

As a wannabe fantasy writer, I’m picking up ideas on storytelling, worldbuilding, and pacing from reading this series. And I’m impressed that the writing style is totally different from that in The Others series

Its…both Tosh and Terrific.

A Must Read!

My Book of Short Stories is Out!

After literally YEARS of procrastination, I’ve done it. Short stories. First set.

After the crappiest year. And I plan to get more writing out there in 2021. In Your Face, 2020!

https://amzn.to/3pdFqNe

Scifi Stories through a Caribbean, African, retro, futuristic prism.
Its on Amazon, Smashwords,Apple Books, Barnes & Noble,Kobo, Overdrive, Scribd, Libri etc

The Age of Corona

So..

The World is different. Maybe l’ve fallen into a parallel universe. Or is it alternative universe?

Right at the end of 2017 l lost my Mum. And then months later, l was diagnosed with breast cancer. So half of 2018, and all of 2019 was taken up with operations, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, etc etc and fighting that.

2020 was supposed to be getting my life back. Travelling, house repairs, seeing relatives in the US, Caribbean…

Small dreams.

But now, we are in the Coronavirus World. I now have a new label – vulnerable. So l can’t go out, because Death might catch me after all.

But,

I’m a writer.

So l can read, and l can write, and l can weave tales and dreams of worlds and people. I can create a world without this threat.

Yes.

Watch. This. Space.

(And in the meantime, l hear the annoying earworm ‘muh-muh-muh my Corona!’)

NaNoWriMo!!!!!!!!

NaNoWriMo (Again!)

That time of year has come round.

50,000 words, in 30 days. AKA, ‘Masochists R Us’.

I’m doing it.

And I’m behind…..

Miss You, Dad

Its 2 years since my father died.

Looking at those words feels like looking at a piece of fiction. I still haven’t really engaged in the grieving process, I’m just…frozen. Even though I kind of spent years trying to prepare myself for it. Him having retired to live in another country made it more bearable, because I’d got used to not seeing him every week.

Growing up, I was a daddy’s girl. He was part of that great generation that travelled from the Caribbean to England at the request of the British government after the war (World War II) to help ‘rebuild the mother country’. People nowadays are unaware we were invited. It was a long journey, by boat as it was before commercial flights. Into a strange, and often hostile terrain. I can remember as a small child, seeing the signs in front windows, about rooms to rent, but warning no dogs, no coloureds, no Irish…

He and my mother had planned to return Home after 5 years. Instead, their marriage didnt survive. But he remained a constant (saw him 2-3 times a week) presence in my life, and due to both parents’ belief and encouragement (e.g they bought me a complete set of encyclopaedias- which must have cost a fortune at the time. My mother sent me to ballet lessons, despite having only ever seen it on the telly). I got a good education and made the painful journey from poor(ish) working class to professional (lawyer) whilst also developing creative talents. Music (I got a scholarship. Dad reminded me that Yehudi Menuin came to our house to try to persuade them to send me to his music school) Writing (I was for a number of years a performance poet, and got published in a number of anthologies). They didn’t encourage the fashion design, though. That was because they both sewed for a living. Dad was a master tailor, who also designed and made incredible hats.

Coming from a people who slavery had marked, affecting how children were treated -hard physical chastisement was very much the norm, and dreams of future greatness were quashed in the name of pragmatic survival- I was aware that my parents were very different from those of my contemporaries. Openly affectionate, very encouraging.  Dad could never smack me. He’d been beaten so much and so badly as a child.

He used to come back to England every year, stay with us at my house for 2-4 months at a time. Some of my fondest memories, are watching  WCW wrestling and Walker Texas Ranger on a Friday with him, and my son. Then all of us going to the fantastic car boot sale in the school grounds in the street next door on a Saturday, wandering about for hours. We were both car boot junkies. His dry wit, astute observations, and sheer bloody mindedness, his doting on my son, his dearest grandchild who was struggling with a learning disability, made those family times special.

When he stopped coming over every year, our contact was by phone. I was desperate to get him to use skype, but… anyhow, something made me decide I had to go visit him, and I got on a plane after a friend invited me to her wedding in the same country that he was in. It was a shock, when I saw him. He was – finally- old.

He hadn’t become old in his 60s, 70s or even early 80s. But at 89 his spirit, his vitality was gone. I saw it in his eyes. A proud man all his life, he was somehow shrunken in spirit, even though physically he looked at least a decade younger (something i inherited from him). His interest in politics was gone. He spoke very little. He dozed, or was introspective.

As always, his inherent charm and charisma meant that those around him- family, friends, people in the nearby countryside town, even the bloody family pets-still gravitated towards him. I decided to pester him into engaging, saying I’d flown 10,000 miles to see him, so he’d bloody well better talk to me! Which would cause him to snort, and laugh. I cherish the time I had with him on that visit, told him to hang on, that his grandson -who adored him- would be coming to see him early next year (it was summer) My son had not been well enough to travel.

When I said goodbye to him at the airport, I wondered if I would see him again. But that’s something that I used to wonder every year I said goodbye when he used to fly over to visit me.

Six weeks later I got a phone call. Because of the time difference, I knew someone calling me at 8am my time, from the Caribbean, could not be good news. He’d had a heart attack, collapsed and died a few hours before. I just about registered the news, then went numb. I’ve…stayed numb to the grief ever since.

I flew back out for the funeral, and I spoke words at it. But the most important ones I spoke came from my son- still not well enough to travel. What do you want people to know about your grandad? I asked him. I knew it was important to my son to have some input. And the words he gave me to read out, were epic:

“He was wise, funny and supportive. And he was cool, always cool.”

Clyde Bruce Prescod: January 28th 1925 – August 30th 2014

 

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Reflections: Why I Love Libraries

I’ve been addicted to reading, since I taught myself to read- apparently at around age 4.

Growing up the only child of migrant parents, coming home from primary school and letting myself in with the key on the string around my neck by the time I was aged 7, books were my companions, were an entry into the strange new country and culture we’d landed in. They were the opening up of my imagination. I devoured them.

We couldn’t afford to buy books. My parents had enough bills to worry about. They bought newspapers. But they encouraged me. One of them must have filled in my library membership.The other taken me there the first few times. I can just imagine, how big my eyes must have been, the first time I saw all those books!

The librarians in my tiny local library got used to the sight of this determined little, mocha coloured girl, her head full of tiny plaits, bundled up against the cold ( central heating wasnt in homes in Britain yet. And I was a child of the tropics) sitting with her nose buried in a book, taking new ones out, returning read ones.

I must have been one of their best customers. It was near enough to where we lived, for me to walk there and back safely. It was my second home. Especially in the school holidays.  Thank you, Maida Vale library!

Its That….NaNoWriMo Time of the Year!

I’m taking part in Nanowrimo, the international Writefest that exists just to get lazy, undisciplined writers like me to be productive. And feel part of the wider community of hardworking, disciplined writers like you (whoever’s reading this post!). There are great forums on the NaNoWriMo site, and special offers, and useful tips, and very useful writing tools.

Here’s urls to some helpful  tools for writers, that came via NaNo:

Erik Benson created a writing tool that lets you  set a gaol -say 50,000 words in a month like for Nano, add how many words you’ve written each day, which tells you how many days it will take you to reach your goal, charts morale, will calculate how many words you’re writing per hour etc etc. Its set up as an Excel spreadsheet. I dont know how to use Excel, but even I can use this.Latest version is 2011-you’l have to find it via Google, Ive got the 2007 one- but you can change the dates etc:

http://www.book-in-a-week.com/NanoReportCard.xls

Another great spreadsheet wordcount producer is here:
http://svenjaliv.com/spreadsheets-for-2014/
beautifully illustrated steampunk, pirate, fanatsy etc versions

Other writing tools, look here on Stephanie A Cain’s site:
http://www.stephaniecainonline.com/master-post-of-my-favorite-nanowrimo-tools/

And here, on Tracy Lucas’ site:
http://www.tracylucas.net/13-free-writing-tools-meter-tracker-word-counter-widget/606

Let’s get cracking!

PS: I’m adding a NaNoWriMo Widget!

Book Review I did on ‘GoodReads on ‘Twist Me’ by Anna Zaires

I read books. Lots. I’m trying to write books. But…I get distracted. because I’m…reading books. Circular, huh?

Anyhoo. I’m writing, scifi/fantasy. I’m reading…all sorts. And at times I cant resist going over to Goodreads. Looking at readers’ assessment of books. And sometimes, I cant resist doing a review. I’m seeing a worrying trend in romantic/erotic books written for a predominantly female readership. So, here’s one I just did on there.

‘   Alrighty then….
Ladies, we all know we have fantasies. Thats why we read books, right? I mean, we all have days where we daydream that we’d like a little caveman action. A gorgeous, super-dominant guy who just…instantly falls for us and captures us and takes us to his lair, and shags us silly um, discusses world peace. Because.

Hence, books like these.In that regard, this book delivers in spades.
But. Heres the thing.

Ever since Fifty (Shades of G) there’s been a lot of bandwaggon jumping. Writers going ‘Want me some of that 70 million booksales, movie rights action.’ So we get a ton of these post-Fifty books.
Dominant, stalkerish heroes, who are ‘damaged’ and into bdsm. But like with that book, the authors haven’t researched bdsm, and don’t realize that to work, it has to be a) consensual b) genuinely pleasurable for the submissive.

Also, stalking is not the new foreplay.
Also, damaged guys need therapy.

And each author-to get attention/sales- has to push the boundaries further.
So you end up with a book like this: Virginal heroine? Check. Superhandsome (anti)Hero? Check. Stalkerish behaviour? Check. You-are-the-only-one-for-me-I-must-take-you-away-from-everyone-you-know-and-love? Check
And to push it further, we have to get kidnapping, hostage taking, forced/coerced sex, beatings, mind manipulation…you get the picture.

Being ravished on a gorgeous tropical island, having fabulous clothes+food, and the overwhelming attention of Mr ‘I’ve-Got-Too-Much-Goddamn-Testosterone’ is all very well.But it doesn’t really disguise the fact that the heroine, Nora is an abused teen, and the hero,Julian is her abuser.

The sex is well written- thats why I gave it 3 stars. Well written sex is way harder to do than people realize (I’m looking at YOU, Laurel K Hamilton).

The writer has talent. But the basic premise steps over the line by trying to turn a guy who has sociopathic tendencies into a romantic hero. I mean, there’s Heathcliff…and then there’s this m@*&ker.

Srsly. Is this a thing, now???? ‘