Busy Last Few Months

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A couple of loyal readers asked how I’ve been doing, so here’s a quick update.

Split into three parts: my blogging, professional, and personal life.

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1. BLOGGING LIFE

a) I have continued to update the prolific Mr. Yoong’s blog excerpts throughout this year — check them out here!

b) I’ve been meaning to review Tey Tsun Hang’s book, Legal Consensus, for some time now. Hopefully I can get to it by the end of the year (I am doing a bit of traveling next month to visit my family in Maine, and have “some other stuff to get to” after that).

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Verdict: Totes Amazeballs.

Tey’s publication is a coolly concise book on “Singapore’s schizophrenic jurisprudence.”

Here’s a paragraph from the second chapter to whet your intellectual appetite:

The danger arises when ‘government-articulated collective interests in the name of culture and community becomes synonymous with state interests’. When this happens, any criticism of the government, even those that are constructive, becomes criticism subversive of the state and hence the community’s interest. The system becomes open to abuse by governments seeking to strengthen their political power and legitimise their actions via legal formalities within a ‘thin’ conception of the rule of law.
Legal Consensus, by Tey Tsun Hang (Page 5)

I’ll update my social media accounts more regularly once I resume some activity for jessINK-related matters (see below). This year I’ve been enjoying doing more things offline versus online.

2. PROFESSIONAL LIFE

a) As I wrote over a year ago, jessINK’s new direction has been on my mind for the past few weeks and months.

In the past year, I’ve shifted my interests away from indie publishing in order to explore some of my other skills and interests. I have some ideas for what I’d like jessINK 2.0 to be about. It’ll still (and always will) involve SOME degree of writing — my first love forever ♥ — just in a new direction.

It’s because I’m exponentially happier writing when the process is not narrowly dictated by commercial niche genres.

I really appreciate the readers who’ve appreciated my work over the years, so that keeps me motivated to offer good value to my new audience(s) in future, whether it’s in publishing or another field.

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Award-winning book.

b) Playmates, the first book in my psych thriller series, was a finalist in the 9th Indie Excellence Awards last year. That made me smile coz it’s a pretty big contest with tons of entries.

c) Matt Posner, my co-author on Teen Guide, sent me this complimentary mug featuring the book cover. It’s been 5 years since we starting collaborating on it. OMG where did the time go!

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#HappyFace

That’s not a particularly glam or “PR-worthy” photo of myself (I’m in a night dress, which is what I sometimes wear while working from home)…but, having an acne history, I’m quite pleased that breakouts have become more manageable these days. A lot of it is related to stress management and emotional health.

3. PERSONAL LIFE

a) I relocated to Florida earlier this year in January, after living in Maine for several years.

This was a good move on my part, albeit it took many months of “analysis paralysis” before I finally decided that something had to change in terms of geographic location. Maine is a pretty state, but it can be “desolate” (an adjective used by one of my American friends) depending on which part you are in.

The first few weeks in my new space were devoted to house-cleaning, baking, cooking, and figuring out what was wrong with the washing machine.

b) I passed the basic rider course earlier in the year, so my driver’s license says “Motorcycle Also.”

That was just something I used to think about getting during my teenage days, so I’m glad I got that done even though I’m a LONNNGG way off from being a skillful rider.

At the very least, I got a solid foundation from Highlands Professional Motorcycle Training based on a biker friend’s recommendation. Great coaches who were very positive, focused, and looked out for the well-being of the students.

c) The natural terrain is something else I’ve been getting to know a little better. Alligators and turtles in the small canals are common in certain areas.

Relationship-wise, the guy in the shadow pointing pic above makes me smile and I make him laugh — and that’s important. I will leave it up to you to guess whether or not he rides a bike.

On a slight tangent, I like using the following two brands of sun screen: Badger and Babyganics. I use them a lot if I’m spending some time outdoors.

My skin is very sensitive and I prefer organic skincare products. Right now I use a basic soap cleanser, beauty balm, and sun screen. I prefer to keep things simple on that front and not overload my face with chemicals.

d) Since I haven’t lived or worked in Singapore for Quite A While, I can only gauge what it’d feel like to live there now based on friends’ postings on Facebook, along with updates from sites like The Online Citizen.

Quality of life can be a subjective thing, since it is partly dependent on a person’s preferences and comfort zone(s) when it comes to feeling like a certain location feels like home.

A lot of my friends or former classmates occasionally gripe about SG, but continue to stay because of:

  • Their family network, and
  • The convenience of transport and amenities.

My immediate family members felt differently, so I grew up within a different way of thinking so to speak.

Here’s the core sentiment I remember the most while growing up in Singapore: that it never felt like home.

This was due to a combination of factors, such as:

  • The feeling of claustrophobia from the ever increasing population density,
  • Feeling trapped by education/career/housing options, and
  • Feeling that freedom of speech did not exist without severe repercussions.

The constant gleam of the latest and greatest shopping malls and eateries didn’t make me feel any different deep inside.

No doubt variety is good when it comes to food, but one can simply cook up a storm at home if malls are struggling to attract customers due to high rentals, etc.

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(Censored–Sort Of) Singapore Crime Fiction

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Today’s blog post is on Jake Needham, whom I interviewed in December!

WHO IS JAKE NEEDHAM?

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Jake Needham writes crime/noir fiction set in Asia, including squeaky-clean Singapore.

He is a lawyer by education and held a number of significant positions in both the public and private sectors. He has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand for over twenty-five years.

And he posts great, snappy updates on Facebook.

BRAGGING RIGHTS

Described by The Straits Times as “Asia’s most stylish and atmospheric writer of crime fiction.”

Described by The Bangkok Post as “Michael Connelly with steamed rice.”

Wikipedia: Jake Needham

WHO IS INSPECTOR TAY?

Libris Reviews describes Inspector Samuel Tay as “a world-weary Singaporean homicide detective.”

Tay is a senior inspector in the elite Special Investigation Section of Singapore CID. He’s pretty much the best investigator the Singapore police have, albeit he is somewhat of an outsider.

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THE DEAD AMERICAN is the third book which features Inspector Tay.

The blurb for the book mentions the following:

“A young American software engineer hangs himself in his Singapore apartment. At least that’s what the police say happened. Emma Lazar, a writer for the Wall Street Journal, thinks otherwise. She thinks Tyler Bartlett was murdered to keep him quiet, and the Singapore police are covering it up.”

That description immediately brought to my mind the case of Shane Todd, an American engineer who was found hanging in his Singapore apartment.

The author does mention in a blog post that the book is not a fictionalized account of the death of Shane Todd. It is, however, set in Singapore, which Jake Needham feels is a “country whose rulers have perpetuated themselves since its first day of nationhood through ruthless censorship and the relentless suppression of effective dissent.”

SINGAPORE CENSORSHIP (OR, “OB MARKERS”)

Jake’s readers have noticed some spooky parallels between the Shane Todd case and a novel he first published years ago about the death of another American in Singapore.

One would think that there would be a natural market for Jake’s book in Singapore, since all the Tay books are built on real events and real places related to Singapore.

However, the content of the Tay books cut Jake off from his publisher in Singapore — he can’t get any local press coverage either. One can assume that this is due to two factors:

(1) the controversial content of his Works of Fiction, and
(2) the unsavory depiction of Singapore authorities in his Works of Fiction.

After all, we are all told that Singapore is to be recognised as clean and incorruptible.

STDesmond Wee-CPIB

“Singapore is [a] clean and incorrupt system and country.” — excerpt from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s speech at the CPIB’s 60th Anniversary celebration, 2012.

And if you’re like Alan Shadrake who published a well-researched, non-fiction book about the human rights abuses in Singapore, you get thrown into jail at the very least for “scandalizing the Singapore judiciary.”

This makes it difficult for Jake Needham to connect with a Singaporean audience and introduce them to his characters and stories set in Singapore, since his books have disappeared from local booksellers and he receives virtually no local press coverage because everyone knows they are expected to toe the party line.

It brings to the forefront the sense of self-censorship in Singapore.

Can you imagine a scenario where Mike Connelly’s books cannot be sold in California because some of the cops he writes about are stupid, or motivated by politics, or even downright crooked?

JAKE’S VIEW(S) ON THE SITUATION

In an interview with I-S Magazine (original link and blog link), Jake said:

“When The Ambassador’s Wife (the first Inspector Tay novel) was published, all my contacts abruptly stopped returning my calls, and not another word about the book ever appeared in any publication in Singapore. . .

I certainly don’t consider [the Inspector Tay books] to be negative depictions of Singapore. Quite on the contrary, I think they are authentic and honest depictions. That’s always what I strive for, regardless of where I set my novels.”

Jake’s reply to my email on the situation:

“As I recall, it’s very difficult for Singaporeans to buy from Amazon and almost everyone there is forced to source ebooks locally from locally controlled sources. Needless to say, none of my ebooks are available through any of those sources. There is very little popular fiction published internationally that features contemporary Singapore, and I have little doubt a fair number of Singaporeans would enjoy meeting Inspector Tay and seeing their city though his eyes if only they knew he existed.

I’d be happy to support any source in Singapore who could make the Tay books available there — heck, I’d even give a bunch of them away if that was the only way to get them into the hands of people in Singapore.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP

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Screenshot of Amazon page in Singapore — Kindle edition unavailable (thanks to my friend in SG who took this screenshot)

At the moment, Kindle books in the Amazon US store are unavailable for purchase or download for people in Singapore.

THEREFORE, if you’re in Singapore and would like to support Jake Needham’s work of authentic/fresh/exciting fiction set in Singapore, you can help out by doing one of the following:

— Buy his books from iTunes

— Buy his books from Smashwords (coupon code available for people reading this post: see below)

— Sign up for his awesome newsletter

— Follow him on Facebook and Twitter

Share on social media. Here’s a sample tweet.

COUPON AND A NOTE

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Here’s a Smashwords coupon that’s good for a 50% discount on any ebook edition of THE AMBASSADOR’S WIFE (first book in Inspector Tay series) until February 28, which will take the price for you lovely readers down to US$2.50:

Link: The Ambassador’s Wife, by Jake Needham (Smashwords)

Coupon Code: DX49S

* The first two Inspector Tay novels — THE AMBASSADOR’S WIFE and THE UMBRELLA MAN — are available on iBooks and Smashwords. THE DEAD AMERICAN is exclusive to Amazon until March 1 and won’t be available on iBooks and Smashwords until March 2 or just after.

Fifty Shades: Russ Linton / Cliff Burns / Nick Shamhart

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My article Beyond the Hype of Fifty Shades of Grey features the expert opinions of ten professionals who comment on the cultural implications of the series, and share their recommendations for quality sexual literature.

I received some VERY lengthy and passionate responses, which I have compiled here on my blog, divided into three different posts. I could only feature excerpts in the above article, due to space constraints. Here are the full responses of the guest contributors #8-10!

P.S. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 for the full replies of the other guests.

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8. Russ Linton, speculative fiction writer and former FBI Investigative Specialist:

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Hi Jess: Glad to have inspired you in your writing and I’m amazed that anyone ever found that comment of mine buried on Bransford’s high traffic blog. While I have much respect for any writer making it in this tough industry, I couldn’t fathom the Fifty Shades apologist responses. The book was poorly written. I won’t deny it was extremely successful, but to argue it was -not- poorly written was hard for me to understand.

I’m not sure I’m an expert on the subject. I am a writer and I read enough of Fifty Shades to know it was badly executed. I don’t regularly read erotica, however.

But, to answer your questions (may require a bit of editing):

Of course people deserve better. We deserve better books, film, television — all manner of stories which explore sexuality.

Mostly we deserve better quality in literature, especially from traditional publishing houses which continue to claim some sort of supremacy over self-published authors. If they want to maintain the illusion that they are the gatekeepers of that quality, they can’t then snatch up poorly written work and sell it solely based on the titillation factor. If they want to legitimize sexuality in writing, they should find a manuscript that isn’t an absolute train wreck and put their resources behind those authors – they do exist.

Fact remains, however, that erotica is firmly a self-publishing and indie publishing pursuit. As a society, we are much more willing to let mutilation, murder and blood letting of all kinds infiltrate our fiction than we are to allow people to explore their sexuality. Amazon has shown its contempt, along with many distributors, by tightening rules on erotica and at no point did traditional publishers come flying to the rescue. So the “better” stuff is out there if you want to look beyond the high-profile, traditional channels who have only opportunistically grabbed the spotlight of this genre.

I have to recommend the work of fellow critique partner, Jennifer August. I’d recommend any of her books as I’ve critiqued her prose and even learned from her detailed writing and plotting processes. She writes erotica, but at the same time, is concerned about the craft as much as she is the authenticity of the experiences which her characters share. Well-written, well plotted, character-driven smut of the best kind.

9. Cliff Burns, (outspoken) literary pioneer and founder of Black Dog Press:

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YES, men and women deserve better than Fifty Shades of Grey. Because the sexual act, regardless of your orientation, is a ballet, a perfectly breathed and measured poem. It is peerless brush technique and faultless meter and syntax. It reveals the paucity of talent in the Mona Lisa and makes a mockery of the Grand Canyon. It is NOT a tuneless, idiot orchestra, conducted by a tone deaf four year old. It deserves better than Crayola scratchings of sexual congress, stick figure intercourse. Cheap graffiti in a filthy toilet stall. Sexuality is our most fearless and pure expression as human beings. Fifty Shades reduces it to a mere bowel movement.

The hottest sex scene I can think of, at least on paper, is a torrid moment about forty or fifty pages into Terry Southern’s Blue Movie. There are also erotic poems like Yeats’ “Leda & the Swan” and verses of quiet yearning by Sappho. Long, sumptuous passages in D.H. Lawrence’ silly, pornographic “routines” scattered throughout the work of Wm. S. Burroughs. Henry Miller’s up close and personal couplings, genital lice and all. Something for all tastes.

* Cliff Burns’ thread on LibraryThing contains more suggestions for quality sexual literature.

10. Nick Shamhart, public speaker and contributing writer to Esquire and Vibe:

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(1) On whether men and women deserve better than Fifty Shades of Grey:

Art is of course subjective. Personally I shudder to label a Bodice Ripper as art, but some people consider Robert Mapplethorpe to be an artist. It’s a matter of personal choice — the externalization of the internal.

That said, to tear apart the Fifty Shades trilogy would be unfair. The phenomenon that the books stirred about had little to do with the quality of story telling, the prose, or the presentation. What happened was that the populace brought it upon themselves. Worldwide reading trends are quite sad. Entertainment on demand fired a bullet pointblank into the floundering corpse that was the publishing industry. The statistics for the USA are nothing shy of terrifying. 58% of Americans will not read a book after high school. One in ten thousand Americans is an avid reader, meaning they read more than one book a month.

What happened with the Fifty Shades books was a direct result of those numbers. When people don’t read they have little to use as a basis of comparison. So, instead of E.L. James’ books being swept into the growing heap of erotica, with the likes of Steele, Collins, and other ladies that have been working that trade for decades, people took notice.

Social Media, and its fickle trends helped word spread about the books.

It was the same ecumenical ripple effect that Rowling’s Potter books had. They were fine for what they were, in that case fantasy for Fifty Shades erotica, but for true avid readers that could compare the books to a much broader and larger personal library they were nothing special.

That’s why children like simple, brightly colored toys. They are stimulating, and the child has no previous experience to say whether the toy is good or bad. Most of the staunch supporters of the Fifty Shades book that I have met read very few books annually. Half a dozen at best, so if they have read less than a hundred books in their lifetime. Who is to say what they are basing their love of Fifty Shades against?

Far Away In Time, Blog Tour

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New Release Feature!

Maria Savva was one of the first author-friends I made online. She is a skilled writer and a great woman with a kind soul.

You can check out her interview on this blog from 2010.

It is my pleasure to introduce her latest publication, Far Away In Time.

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Blurb/Description:

Our lives are a series of stories, and we are the characters with the starring roles. The memories, regrets, secrets, and struggles that fill these pages are at once unique and relatable. These stories belong to us all.

Eight unforgettable tales reaching out to a place Far Away In Time…

Book Trailer:

Author Bio:

Maria Savva lives and works in London. She studied Law at Middlesex University and The College of Law. She is a lawyer, although not currently practising law. Many of her books and stories are inspired by her years working as a lawyer, although she has not written a courtroom drama to date. She has published five novels, the most recent of which is Haunted, a crime fiction/psychological thriller. Far Away In Time is her sixth collection of short stories. You can find out more about her work at her official website: www.mariasavva.com

Buy Links (Far Away In Time):

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon FR | Amazon CA | Amazon JP

Author Interview, Brian Whitney

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Interview #80, with writer/editor, Brian Whitney!

Hi Brian! Describe yourself in 5 words:

Aware of who I am.

Cool! Share a short blurb of your work (10-100 words):

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Nate used to deal crack and be naked. Sometimes he wouldn’t put on clothes for weeks and people would come over and buy crack and Nate would just sit there, naked, dealing it out and sucking on a pipe. I mean, let’s face it, that sounds awesome, but how long does the story of a happy naked crack dealer last? Dealing crack and using it is like a monkey trying to sell bananas.

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

It wasn’t until a few weeks of living with her that I learned about her hooking business. When I was gone she would take men into our place and give them head for ten to twenty dollars apiece. According to her she never had real sex with them and I’m inclined to believe this because I have been in whorehouses before and they have a certain electricity to them. It’s in the air. I never felt this electric feeling when I walked into my home. ~ Arthur Bradford

Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

I am published with three different independents right now and all of them are cool. Of course I am broke as a joke, but I have been lucky to work with people that appreciate the work that I do without either of us having a lot of commercial expectations. [Note from Jess — have you met Cliff Burns? :)]

What is your definition of “good writing”?

I feel it and I know it when I see it.

Well-said. Please share your #1 tip for writers:

Just do what you do. Don’t think for a minute about whether people will like it. Sit down and write.

Your websites/blogs/etc:

https://www.facebook.com/37stories37women

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Much thanks to Brian for stopping by — do visit his website!

BRIAN’S SHORT BIO (in his own words):

I might possibly be the best author ever — and I am managing editor of a new mag. It has national distribution although it is at the grassroots stage. If your work gets in the mag we also do an ad for your biz.

It is an erotic-lit mag for the sexually entertained. So if you send me a photo of a kid and a dog, I am gonna turn you in to the cops.

~ Brian Whitney | December 11, 2013 at 9:11pm

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Author Interview, Marie-Jo Fortis

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Interview #77, with satirical thriller French writer, Marie-Jo Fortis!

Hi Marie-Jo! Describe yourself in 5 words:

Hi Jess! Okay, here goes: Determined, with sense of humor.

Cool! Share a short blurb of your work (10-100 words):

chainsaw_jane

“Fortis has a marvelous character in Chainsaw Jane…”
~ Kirkus Reviews

Now, for the excerpt, just a little sentence that describes Chainsaw Jane: “With her staccato gestures, mud-covered baggy jeans and clodhoppers, she looked like a barrel drunk with its own wine.”

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

From Balzac’s Le Père Goriot: “Holding this book in your hand, sinking back in your soft armchair, you will say to yourself: perhaps it will amuse me. And after you have read this story of great misfortunes, you will no doubt dine well, blaming the author for your own insensitivity, accusing him of wild exaggeration and flights of fancy. But rest assured: this tragedy is not a fiction. All is true.”

I chose this because I do think that great fiction, the one that gets to the core of things, is truer than what we call reality.

I agree! Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

The writing is just plain fun while the publication process is woooork! Kidding! It’s all fun and sooo easy! Okay, kidding again. Non-writers believe that writing is a simple, amusing activity, an entertaining choice. To these people I want to say, don’t choose writing if writing does not choose you. Writing is as much an addiction, a dependence, as it is a passion. Of course, you can argue that passion is a dependence. You write because you cannot imagine life without it. There are moments when you want to free yourself from it, but as soon as you take some distance from it, it calls you back. It is a love made of pain and pleasure, a mental sadomasochistic adventure. It is also work, work, work. Hitting your head against the wall every time you get a rejection slip. That’s why so many take matters into their own hands and self-publish. But that alone belongs to another discussion. This said, nothing compares to the heights of creativity, when you have found that beautiful sentence, that expression that just clicks, this “mot juste.” Nothing compares to that.

As for publishing, you have to wear a different hat, don’t you? I was the publisher of a litmag years ago, so I have a little experience, even if the publishing world has changed tremendously since. The publication process is about image and marketing. This means that today’s writer needs to double as a business person. Produce a brand. You have to act as a humble peacock. If this sounds like an oxymoron, it probably is. Let me explain to the best of my abilities. You have to show off as much as possible (that’s the peacock part) while thinking of yourself as simply a product. I don’t know many fiction writers who like to see themselves as products, so that’s the humbling part. But to market a book in today’s world, one must market oneself. The left side of my brain gets it; the right one is still pissed off. So there is still training to do on that side.

Very eloquently expressed. I’m a fan of Tarot cards, so the mention of them in the product description for Chainsaw Jane certainly caught my attention. How did you develop an interest in Tarot?:

During one of the trips my husband and I took to Lily Dale, the famous mediums village in New York State, the psychic who gave us a reading recommended Tarot as a way to develop psychic abilities. Since I am a native of France and raised to rely on rational thinking, I thought…mm…okay…whatever. But I am also very curious. Not to mention a Basque; and the Basque Country still has a number of operating “witches.” So I ordered a Tarot set and started studying it. It became a habit to the point where I started reading Tarot to family and friends. Now they come to me and ask for readings. It has basically become a reflex these days. When I am confused about a problem, I use both Tarot and reasoning. I don’t feel the right and left side of the brain are, nor should be, mutually exclusive.

You list some very interesting and eclectic influences on your Goodreads bio (Balzac when it comes to psychology; Voltaire for the bite and satire; Agatha Christie for the structure of the novel). Which of their works would you recommend to readers who would like to try reading them for the first time, and why?

For Balzac, it’s difficult to recommend just one novel from the Human Comedy, as he created one masterpiece after another. I fell in love with him when I fell in love with reading, when I was twelve and when my older sister handed me Le Père Goriot. It’s a poignant story about a man victimized by his daughters. It’s a novel about cruelty, rapacity, as many of his novels are. Balzac depicts his predators like dehumanized machines or marionettes; his victims are poetry. Cousin Pons’ main character is one example of this poetry, and the novel has powerful moments about art collecting, the love of art, the love of beauty. And then there is The Magic Skin, one of his philosophical novels and a dramatic reflection on the meaning (or lack thereof) and brevity of life. In general, the way Balzac portrays, say, the greed of bankers and 19th Century nascent capitalism, pretty much shows that society in its core has not changed.

I love most of Voltaire’ satiric tales, but Micromegas is my favorite. It announces sci-fi, as it is an interplanetary story. There, Voltaire makes fun of human arrogance. A very good lesson told with the philosopher’s customary bite and wit.

For Agatha Christie, I have grown to prefer her Hercule Poirot novels over her Miss Marple ones. To the point that one of the main characters in Chainsaw Jane is actually a parody of Hercule Poirot. Poirot is both an absurd and brilliant character, and I believe the simultaneously absurd, vain and brilliant side of him translates a little better into our world than Miss Marple, although she can be a comforting grandmother. Okay, grandma a bit on the sly side. But still, only when she’s detecting. This said, once I started with one Agatha Christie novel, I had to get another one—Miss Marple or no Miss Marple. She became an addiction. But if you only want to read just one Agatha Christie novel, read what I consider her masterpiece, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

I have a short story collection by Ms. Christie that I like a lot ;) Please share your #1 tip for writers:

I’ll repeat what Gwendolyn Brooks once told me: “Revise, revise, revise.” At the time, I was very young and thought this was the end of the day, the poet was tired or had fallen on her head somewhere, and therefore she didn’t know what the hell she was talking about. But years went by and I know now that “revise, revise, revise” is one of the best pieces of advice any kind of writer can receive.

Your websites/blogs/etc:

www.mariejofortis.com

www.mariejosvoice.blogspot.com

and of course, you can find me at Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook; Book Country on occasion. There are others, but I won’t mention them until I start visiting them more often myself.

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Much thanks to Marie-Jo for stopping by — do visit Marie-Jo’s Website for more info on her projects!

MARIE-JO’S SHORT BIO (in his own words):

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Marie-Jo Fortis had to fight many odds, make many sacrifices, in order to leave France and cross the Atlantic with the man she loved. She could hardly speak English when she reached the US, but that did not stop her. She attained a Master’s in English literature after studying at l’Ecole du Louvre and La Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris. Her work has been published nationally and internationally in Freedom International, Poésie Première, Talus & Scree, and other periodicals. She also founded Collages & Bricolages, a literary magazine she edited for fifteen years, which received accolades from the US and abroad.

Website | Chainsaw Jane on Amazon

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Grammar Tips

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* I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because I wanted to see if a subscription to the service would make a good gift for my Grammar Nazi friends.

NOTE: I’ve added deliberate spelling and grammatical errors throughout this post to show readers the effect of Grammarly ;) Screenshots included after the post.

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The editing for Bedmates (Wilde Trilogy, Book #2) is going OK. Its my first psychological thriller series and a new genre I’ve been wanting to try since a while.

I thot I’d share an excerpt from the book. This is from Chapter 4 which features the evil girl twin ripping out some Barbie doll heads.

But wait! I made a mistake up there. The chapter with the Barbie doll heads being ripped off is from the first book in the trilogy, titled Playmates.

Here’s a short synopsis of Playmates, along with the excerpt:

SYNOPSIS:

playmates

PLAYMATES (Wilde Trilogy, Book #1)

As kids, Tania and Trevor’s unsupervised play time offers a lifeline to sanity amidst the chaos of family dysfunction. When danger threatens Tania, Trevor isn’t willing to stand by and watch his sister get hurt. The instinct for survival is only rivaled by the killer instincts the Wilde siblings encourage in each other. Instincts that turn into a deadly game igniting their first taste for blood.

EXCERPT:

CHAPTER 4: Tania

The thing I noticed with my collection was that all the Kens and Barbies looked exactly the same.

The “Miss World” one reminded me of Kimi, because they both had long, very shiny hair that I couldn’t get my hair to look like even after two hundred slow, gentle strokes with the hairbrush.

There was a black Sharpie pen lying around on the floor. I remembered that show from the other day where the surgeon was drawing arrows on a porn star’s nose, face, and body.

I took off the “Miss World” Barbie’s clothes and drew arrows in similar spots. Little, little arrows. What I didn’t have was a surgeon’s knife like the one on the TV.

Was it painful, cutting a person’s skin with that cold, sharp blade?

I looked at the doll for a moment. Her face looked really ugly now with the black arrows. I tried to wipe the marks away, but couldn’t, because the ink was permanent.

So I colored two ‘X’ marks over the Barbie’s “boobies,” as Momma called them. I had seen a 19 year-old rapper from Jamaica at the VMA Awards on TV wearing that with a pair of gold pants which were very tight. So tight until her huge ass was almost splitting the seams.

Then I colored the Barbie in between the legs, because I had seen another popstar in one of Momma’s magazines with a blue sticker on that area. I don’t know why the sticker was blue. Maybe because it matched the popstar’s new hair color. Yes, that must be it.

“Now you look even uglier,” I remarked to Miss “World-Now-Undressed-And-Like-All-The-Other-Barbies” Barbie.

I placed the black pen on the floor, before flicking it with my fingernail hard across the floor, so that it spun away across the wooden floor from me. It hit the wall with a sharp thud.

I was suddenly filled with hate at the ugly doll—that was where I was going to end up, lying on a hospital bed unconscious with tubes down my mouth, if I wanted to be “pretty” like Kimi and the Jamaican rapper with the big butt, and everybody else who was on TV getting arrows drawn on their faces and bodies at a doctor’s office.

I grabbed the doll’s head. I ripped it right off. It took a bit of effort with getting the twisting angle right.

But I felt good when the head actually came off. Because it made me feel like I had “won.”

I might not have been the prettiest girl on or off TV. But I knew then that I wasn’t as ugly as the hideous doll.

I reached for a pair of scissors from the tabletop. The edge of the tip of the blade was perfect for slowly cutting along the jagged, arrowed lines on the beheaded plastic body.

Playmates (Wilde Trilogy, Book #1), by Jess C Scott / jessINK

Now I will let some screenshots do the talking re: my experience with using Grammarly.

SCREENSHOTS:

grammarly

#1: Screenshot of Grammarly platform processing the first two paragraphs. The program caught one spelling error (“thot” instead of “thought”); missed out “its” in the second line (“it is” is different from “its” as in “belonging to something”). Refer to Screenshot #5 below.

grammarly

#2: Screenshot of Grammarly platform detecting a “plagiarized” paragraph. The program correctly identified where the paragraph was originally from, and suggested some references, including — [APA: Wilde Trilogy: Psychological Thriller Series. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.jessink.com/wilde.htm]

Grammarly

#3: Screenshot of the available “paper type” options on Grammarly (nice!). I selected “Creative” to proofread the excerpt from my psych thiller, since the book was written in a more creative than academic vein.

Grammarly

Screenshot #4: According to Grammarly, my excerpt contained 7 writing issues and 4 enhancement suggestions (I clicked through the suggestions, all of which were sensible and/or helpful recommendations). The score was 83 of 100 (adequate, can benefit from revision).

Grammarly Grammarly

Screenshots #5 and #6: I had faith in the Grammarly platform, so I pasted my blog post again to see if Grammarly would catch the “its” error this time. And it did! As you can see in the right screenshot, the score is 67 of 100 (weak; needs revision). I might have clicked something wrong the first time, since I was still familiarizing myself with Grammarly’s editor interface.

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VERDICT: YES — a subscription would make a great gift for my Grammar Nazi friends!!

I write *a lot*, so programs like Grammarly do make the proofreading process a little less painful and tedious (and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t loathe editing).

If you’d like to try out Grammarly, you can sign up for a free 7-day trial on their website at www.grammarly.com. Let me know how you find it :)

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