Showing posts with label Writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Writing. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My Simple Understanding of Short Fiction

I was talking to a relative during lunch about Kindle singles, flash fiction, and novellas. She shared how she loved following these itty-bitty stories provided by Amazon for .99. She loved them so much that she wanted to try her hand at creating a series of short pieces of fiction dished out in the same bite-size manner. My idea was to encourage her to write one, seeing that she had a story inside of her that she obviously felt needed telling. I urged her to give herself a chance, and starting small was a good move. Just write something, hire a decent editor, if at all possible, and just throw it out there and see what happens. But she still chewed her lip in concerns to how long her story should be. So our discussion turned into the differences between novellas and such. It was interesting trying to decipher the differences.  Eventually, we settled with the fact that we needed to do a little more research. And that’s what I'm bringing here to this post.

So let’s start with the shortest form then work our way up. I learned that the differences in all these short forms of fiction appears mostly in their word count (though that seems apparent, I prefer focusing on page count). Following that notion comes brevity of style, as you probably don't want to get so caught up in prose and details within a limited amount of space.

Flash fiction are stories under 1,000-2,000 words. I guess this would be difficult for someone like me, as I love every scenic detail and morsel of character development available in fiction. Nonetheless, with flash fiction it’s obvious that you have to get to the point of your narrative. These are the kind of stories that provide little to no build up, as the reader is instantly thrown into what may be considered a narrative conflict. I think of it as throwing readers at the emotional peck, or climax, of a story and let their imagination fill in whatever holes lay available. Or something to that extent. Nevertheless, all overtures are tossed aside. It’s sort of like the proverbial knife gone right into the gut. How do you respond? Flash fiction may show you how.

Length wise, short stories are probably a step up from flash fiction. They're somewhere in the realm of 1,000 and 6,000 words. (But seriously, who keeps up with that mess?)  I think short stories differ than flash fiction because it gives you the tiniest of room to present the majors: character, setting, narrative, and conflict. Each wrapped in a handy theme.  I kind of get the feeling that short stories take on a far more thematic approach than flash fiction. Actually, I would guess that short stories line its bases in a theme of some sort. Immediate to mind I think about the Chinese superstition that you shouldn't sweep your floor on New Year’s Day because you may sweep away bad luck. You can take that uncomplicated concept, decorate it with the "majors," and give a nice consequential conclusion as to why you have to honor that superstition. All in a simple, quick story.

The novelette just boggles me. describes a novelette as “a brief novel or long short story.” I never even considered such a thing; I probably would've touted a novelette as a short story. Nevertheless, it’s really a middle child in all of this. The Jan Brady in the mix. A novelette gives itself probably a stretch or two more narrative room unavailable in a short story; however, it doesn't jump completely into the involvedness that makes up a novel or novella. So I would assume a novelette’s word count (should it matter) would arrive somewhere between 8,000 and 20,000 words. Just guessing of course. So in essences, it’s a touch longer than a short story while not considering it a short story. I guess…. And I say “I guess” because I’ve probably heard of a novelette in passing, but never gave it a thought until I actually looked up the subject of fiction short forms. It’s a cute word, if anything else.

Last–but not last–we have the novella. This is the one everyone is familiar with. It’s a novel that’s not a novel... exactly. It’s a short form fiction far more intricate than its common comparison, the short story. It’s a short novel, or it has just about everything that makes a novel except for a lower word count. Even that sounds unrehearsed and superficial. But I digress. Everyone knows what a novella is.

And that’s basically my understanding, guys.  A touch self-deprecating, but most certainly told in my own words. Nonetheless, a less than thorough understanding of the different forms of fiction. Don't quote me on any of this! Just pray that I take the time to produce some kind of work out of either of them–along with that relative I spoke of.

Add any ideas or thoughts about these fiction short forms in the comments below.  Expand our understanding.  And share whether you have a healthy appreciation for any one form.

Carry on.

Friday, March 6, 2015

~3. Back 2 High School - Towel Style ~

All right, guys!  Here we are with the next five panels of my old high school comic featuring my Towel character.  It's slowly, slowly moving out of the slice-of-life shoujo style and into the action, magical girl realm.

Ah, in the last post I couldn't figure out this guy's name.  Akiru, huh?  Anyway, apparently he has always noticed Towel around school.  So when he asks is her best friend, Cornbread, her boyfriend, she freaks out and hits him.  While the attack wasn't necessary, she freaked out for good reason.

How inpatient of her.  Here Akiru is trying to ask her out and Towel's like, "hurry up."  I have to laugh, though.  That's very much like myself.  Get to the point.

Here's the new girl again.  She's giving her teachers' hell per usual.  What's her deal?

Yep.  Curse the teacher out.  Snap the ruler in half.  Then kick the teacher in the face while proclaiming how things are about to "change" in the classroom.  Sounds about right with something I would think of back when I was 17.

Now all of the students are flying out of the classroom under her influence–with the exception of Towel who seems unaffected by her sway.  Even Clip sticks out her tongue and splits for the door.  So is this new girl human?  I more or less took this scene from an incident that happened to me while in the tenth grade.  The lights went out in the entire school, and when the substitute we had for English left to check everything out, the entire class got up and left.  I'll never understand why I got into that, seeing as I didn't have anywhere to go.  However, I have to admit that that week of in-house suspension was great.  I spent that whole week writing a story until I finished it.

See you guys in the next 5!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

~ 2. Back to High School - Towel-Style ~

Here we are with the next five pages.  Click HERE for the first five.  Or you can follow the labels at the end of the post.

Obviously I made my pages super busy.  Busy, packed and hectic.  Nevertheless, that's how I saw a lot of manga pages; busy and occupied.  I suppose I was just copying, but to an extreme.  I wish I had the skill to tell an efficient (as well as effective) story without too much fuss.  Maybe if I tried to do this these days I could get it right.

Once again a busy page.  I didn't have an manga screens (though later I started to print pictures on tracing paper and go from there), so I had to do all of my backgrounds and effects by hand.  I used what I had.  That's why I always tell people to just start wherever you are and enjoy the process.  

I love Towel and Clip's teacher in the top left corner.  "Break's over!  Let's go!" he says.  And as always, Towel decides to call him a "patty mouth dog."  I don't know what that is.  Should I ever get the time to write her these days, she would never say something like that.  It's not clever enough.  Nonetheless, here her and Clip continue to peep the new girl.

I remember showing this page to a friend of mine and he made a comment about the top panel character's (if you didn't catch it, her name is Miino) expression.  He was pretty direct in his observation that the character looks as if she's about to do something salacious.  I'll leave that to your imagination.  Nonetheless, what I want to point out is how the teachers always seem to be yelling at Towel.  Even this female teacher on the left is yelling at her to take a seat.

Towel's trying to be friends with the new girl, Miino.  Instead, Miino is more interested in strangling Towel.  The scene transitions over into the gym area where Towel and Clip reunite to discuss the new girl, as well as some of the male students playing ball topless.  Said boys have taken a liking to Miino–naturally.  This makes Towel even more curious as to who this new girl is.

I don't think Japanese female students wear bloomers anymore for gym class.  However, this is another obvious testament to my love of the shojo manga genre.

The bloomers again.  Other than that, here is where I introduced another male character (other than Towel's best friend Cornbread).  I'm cringing here as I revisit this particular page.  Why?  Because while I was shaky, I don't like how I drew this guy at all.  I think my drawings of him will get better.  But yesh!

See you guys in the next post...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

~ 1. Back 2 High School–Towel Style ~

Now this is hilarious. It started out really quite simple: I needed an eyeglass repair kit–but not for eyeglasses. I needed to replace my cell phone’s USB charger port and had all the equipment in one kit, including a useless micro screwdriver. So convinced that I had another one in an eyeglass repair kit, I scoured my room searching. Eventually, I dived into my closet, pulled out a couple of plastic storage crates, and ran across this old comic I drew back in my junior year of high school. It’s where I started to develop and understand this character that’s been in my head all my life. Her name is Towel. (Nicknamed if you will.) She’s young. Highly misunderstood. Stubborn. A romantic. Senseless and often times forgetful. However, most of all, she’s a hero. She’s lived and manifested in many different forms and appearances. Many different races. Many different occupations. Nonetheless, she’s always been influenced by my love of Sailor Moon, Buffy and a variety of other forms and medias that represent women in power.

So it took me a while, but I finally whipped out my scanner, thinking it would be cool to share some of these scans just for the hell of it. It’s rough. It’s hard.  It's random and confusing.  It’s impulsively drawn. But it’s here. So be tickled.  And sorry that some areas are cut off. My scanner isn't that large.

And no. I never found that eyeglass repair kit. Therefore, I was left making a run to the Dollar Store for one.  However, eventually I got my phone repaired.

I’ll release these in a series of 5 per posts...

What other way to introduce Towel other than to make her late for school?  Why was she late?  Because she was busy admiring a dress.  Heavily–and I mean heavily–influenced by Naoko Takeuchi and Miwa Ueda's work, I placed her in a sailor-style uniform just like Japanese students.  Which only exacts her locale.  

While I was rarely late for school/class, I will say that I was not liked by a couple of teachers for other reasons.  Like Towel, I kind of didn't have a filter on my mouth.  I remember one English teacher calling me out because I proclaimed "this sucks" during one dull, boring class period.  It really was boring listening to her read out of some book.  However, school was like that for me; I was always bored.  And though I've always tried, I find it hard to hold back how I feel.  Especially when it comes to the urge to create.

While she may be located in Japan, Towel definitely had my Southern wit.  I also want to mention how, as it regards manga/anime, characters who have blond hair and blue eyes are not necessarily considered white.  In fact, you'll know when a white/foreign character is present in either form, because of the difference in his/her appearance and behavior.  However, the obvious is a silly caricature of say an American or Russian.  

I never really saw Towel as white, mixed maybe.  Eventually she became a black character who dyed her hair blond.  Why blond?  Because Minako/Sailor Venus is yellow-headed of course.  Plus, the color is so light that it's easiest to product and hide mistakes over.

I've always loved these little character introductions in manga.  A quick, running page of information regarding the star and her buddies.  Clip (later changed to Klip) and Cornbread (we'll talk about him later) were always the characters I had in mind as Towel's best friends.  Both have changed tremendously over the years.  Something I'll realize more and more of as I re-read these early introductions.  

Nonetheless, back to Towel.  I wanted Towel to be sporty, unlike myself.  So I made her a basketball player (like my sister at the time) and a gymnasts (so she could do flips like the original Pink Ranger).  She loves to write, which is something that did come from myself.  Ultimately, I shot for well-rounded.

And here enters a character inspired by Naoko Takeuchi's Rei Hino (my second favorite senshi), or other known as Sailor Mars.  She becomes Towel's school rival and later something else entirely.

Perhaps now's the time to ask that you stay tuned for the next half...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pardon My Intermissions (Monthly Rambles)

This goes out to all the writers who aspire to be published authors: is it more important to write for you or for readers? I was asking myself this question with Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) coming up next month.  I have to say that I haven’t produced at least ten words each November since joining in 2010. Nonetheless, that doesn't dissuade the fact that I love to write, and am still plugging into writing my long-dreamed mystery novel. 

I take my time because I love writing stories that probably–though I say this with extreme doubt considering the vastness of our universe–strike a chord with me and what it is that I want to read about only. Of course, I want to eventually test the waters and share my material with the hopes that readers would connect. But still, it breeds excitement in me to write something pulled from my raw imagination; something that may be more misunderstood than my daily conversations with social individuals.

But I digress…

So what are the foreseeable advantages of writing for yourself versus others–considering you want to be published? It’s kind of a double-edged question, really. Should you want to be paid and published (or perhaps marketable), you may want to concern yourself with targeting a specific audience of readers. If you just want to trample along the pages, unleashing every curve of your imagination, then you may have to hold on to your material privately.  Especially for the sake of not having to chop and screw the material into publishable form. But who really wants to do either of the two? 

So maybe the better question is how much should you focus on writing for yourself while keeping readers in mind?

Towel did not win him over. And I knew she wouldn't.
This is something I questioned back in early 2009 when I tried to find an agent for a book I'd written. In response, the agent's first criticism was that he didn't like the names of my characters [Towel and Cornbread], names which were nicknames for characters who've lived inside my head for years.  I've written about the two many times before, but at that moment I had spent nine months drafting and editing the two an urban fantasy story with a touch of Buffy intact.  Or enough Buffy that I just knew their story was markable, despite their names. Nonetheless, I took his words gracefully, because inside and from the very start, I kind of knew it would be an issue. I suppose I just didn't care, having lived all the wildness of my fantasies on paper and through these characters for nine months.

So my ending thought is that sometimes you have to write the raw stuff for yourself, and the other stuff with readers outside your realm of strangeness in mind.  Then again, sometimes you just have to change the names, tweak a little bit more, then try again.

Ramble Ending.  Signing Out.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Pardon My Intermission (Monthly Rambles)

It’s September 1st, and I’m here now just to write. It’s in me to want to play with words and language, even when I’m not necessarily moved by anything to help push them out of me.  Well, to be super clear, August kind of exhausted me. Nevertheless, writing something–anything– is a habit. No, it’s more than a habit. It’s something I couldn't imagine living without doing.  Especially when you consider how fun it is as well as the escapism it provides.

So with the closing of August, I think I kind of want to put blogging to the side–but not really at all. Seriously, I couldn't imagine how when I love it so much. But the thing is, whenever I do a blog post, I draft it for about two days, and then I spend about two more days reading and re-reading it repeatedly. I know I'm not going to nail it–as nothing is 100 percent perfect–but I try to get my voice (and grammar) as clear as possible.  I overthink.  Over exhaust.  Over flood myself with what comes next.  Sometimes I undercut my confidence in a post, but throw that aside because I believe in showing up to your desires despite the voices in your head. 

And so that is why I think I'm in a writing and reading slump (though it hasn't even been over a week since I last posted). I've exhausted myself just a little, or at least I feel like I have. But then these ideas of putting aside blog posts to focus on possibly writing and illustrating that children’s book I've always wanted to do comes along. And with that comes this idea that maybe I can get back into fiction writing by seeing if I’m capable of writing short stories again.

I don’t know. I think I just want to do more in the creative general. I wake up an hour before I have to be in at work (which is 5am) and spend 30 minutes writing.  I'm always late, but I never care. I alternate between blog post drafts and stories. Lately the stories have been calling me. I want to continue the story I have about love. The one about ghosts. The mystery and the supernatural.  I want to write them as best as I can, then share them here with some simple pencil sketches to semi-illustrate the scene.  I want to create.  And in many, many ways I wish this j. o. b. would go away so I can just create.

And I want to figure out how in the world could I write a children's book with a constrain on my words.

So pardon my intermission here. I’m just thinking and sharing my thoughts as I allow the Universe to continue to push me further in my desired direction.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Beginning to End with Ms. Josephine

"Can you trust God for all things in every area of your life?  Have you ever been faced with life-threatening situations in your marriage, that made you want to give up on God, but he allowed you to be stable, keeping you still in order to see the salvation of the Lord in your flesh, mind and resources, etc.  Psalms 46:10a, 'Be still and know that I am God.'

Have you ever seen God transform the Natural into the Super-Natural?  From the beginning to the end.  When your mother tells you are not able to have children because of your unproductive organs, no menstrual period, no nothing.  Then you meet your husband that tells you all things are possible if ye only believe.  Later on God blesses you and your husband with two lovely daughters, when doctors said live with the fact you will never have children."

This is a special, special post on a book by a woman I know personally.  Her name is Josephine Brooks-Clark, but we just call her Ms. Josephine!  Anyway, over a year ago she told me that she was working on writing and publishing a book inspired by her life with her passed husband.  She used to tell me that she had the necessary files and was ready to go to work!  Needless to say, I was ecstatic and encouraged by her; always inspired by people who make energizing commitments to share a part of themselves for the betterment of others.  And that’s precisely what Ms. Josephine did in her debut memoir, From the Beginning to the End, published by ABM Publications.

With a couple of hash browns and a cup of coffee, I sat down one morning to read Ms. Josephine’s book.  I didn't find myself out of bed until all 84 pages were read.  So I sat, fully grasped by her story outside of our old conversations.  From the Beginning to the End is a very personal memoir, so personal that I had to reach out to Ms. Josephine to bring her to Comic Towel to talk about her book first-hand.  Follow my questions and her response (in bold lettering) below...

1.  From The Beginning to the End opens with a testimony from yourself regarding your personal story.  So how did you decide where to start your story specifically?  As well as where to end it?

From the Beginning to the End starts with my testimony. How I got started? One day I was dealing with so many things going on in my life.  So while lying in bed, it came to me to start my life story of all I was going through. I was only 34 [at the time] and life began to make a turn from the good to the worst.  

I decided to end it [the book] after the death of my husband.  All that I was going through with sickness after sickness had [finally] ended. Thank God.

2.  I could only imagine how you dealt with some of the actual events and details you shared within your story–as they were happening in your life.  If you had to choose, what was probably the hardest detail to share with readers regarding your life?  And why was it hard to share?

The hardest part to share with my readers is when we were robbed.  THIS IS A STICK-UP [Chapter 4].  It was hard because every time I begin to speak of that situation, it bring tears to my eyes to see my hubby tied up in a knot and my two girls with a gun at their head.

3.  Could you offer any advice to someone who desires to share their personal story, such as yourself?  Does emotional distance take part in the writing process?

First I would say let fear of the unknown go, meaning fear of sharing your life because of friends that may read your story and criticize you.  I felt that if I shared my story, someone will be blessed to know that they can make it through the hard times. It is love that kept us together [her husband and herself] and my vows that I made to God and Man. In Sickness or Health, Richer or Poor, and for Better or for Worse.  

No, emotional distance has nothing to do with writing. When I left Alabama, it gave me the peace and quietness I needed to concentrate on writing.  This book was completed years ago, but fear of the unknown kept me from getting published.  

4.  If there is one thing you would wish to communicate and inspire into those who've read your book, what would that be?

I would like to impart that the beginning of a new thing shall come your way. Every door that has been closed unto you shall be opened, and every crooked path shall be made straight.  September and October are the months of increase, so don't put off today for tomorrow.

5.  Now that your book has been released, where do you plan to go from here?  Are there more books at work?

Since my first book has been released, my plans are to take a portion of my funds to feed the less fortunate. And yes, there are other books being published.

1. Seven Steps to Empower your Faith
2. The Seed of a Woman (both natural and spiritual)
3. Why Hurting People Hurt Others.
4. Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman

Thank you so, so much Ms. Josephine for sharing your story and giving me the opportunity to help share it with others.  

You can grab your copy of Ms. Josphine's book, From the Beginning to the End. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

3 Ways of Making Character

Buffy, the Character Bible
What makes a compelling character?  And how can an author write one?  These questions are on my mind recently, as I find myself slipping in and out of a summer reading slump.  Seriously, I'm finding it hard to connect with books/characters as of late.  Especially after having this whole Martha Grimes hangover from reading the incredibly character purposed Hotel Paradise.  Then again, part of my reading slump comes from marathoning shows (including America’s Next Top Model) on Hulu, and replaying a few video games.  That’s neither here nor there, though.  So nonetheless, why is it that you can read about ten pages before you put a book aside for something else?  And what is it about characters that hook you to a book so that you don’t turn away?  Questions and more questions.   I want to share a few of the things I believe make a character worth diving into without the obstruction of time and outside distractions.

1. Battling Interests

I believe the first element that makes a great and compelling character comes by providing the character battling interests–or values. I love stories where the protagonist steps on stage filled with his or her own values and assurances, only to have those things about him or herself tested by some sort of moral choice. I saw that recently in Ha Jin’s The Crazed where a young Chinese graduate (during the late 1980s) battled with his dreams of becoming a Chinese scholar, but questioned his choice in accordance with the way his country needed activist to bring about democratic change. The tensions in the book lie mainly in his theorizing the consequences of either path.  And his theorizing is further complicated by the pressuring influences outside of himself (such as family and friends).

So, he could easily keep a low profile with a guaranteed (or even passive) existence as a scholar underneath China’s communist control.  Especially considering it has been a governing force all his life. Nevertheless, China’s government snuffs and even imprison those expressionists who push the use of foreign influences.  So what good would it do for him to be a scholar limited to the conceptions of his own country? This is a battle of interests, and in turn, drives the character. A character faced with plenty of opposition, but knows that eventually he or she has to make a choice.

2. Testing Principles

I don't like when authors make a character’s decision come easily to them, and when there is no clear and direct result to their choice. Sort of like that instant-love connection you sometimes get in romance novels, which is probably why I don’t read many of them.  I get annoyed when there is little to know stress or testing used to move a character to his or her choice. Even worse is when there are no real stakes to be had. The thrill is when an author provides a character with high stakes, then doubles the consequence.

If I’m reading a mystery novel, I want to know how far the detective would go to bring about justice. Would ruining his or her reputation be the risk? Or can a case only be concluded with the vengeful murder of its culprit? As for a romance, I would like to know how far the couple would go to stay together. Would they be ostracized from their families? Would they lose the respect of their friends? Or would society have an influence in their resolve to be a couple? Things such as that bring about testing the principles of characters.

3. No Pain, No Gain

The reason I gave up the series :(
Deus ex machina is Latin for “god from the machine." It’s used in the literary sense to describe an author who uses a quick, abrupt means of interference to solve a problem within a novel. Needless to say, it’s frustrating when an author does this. You usually see it when an author builds up some solid tension, then completely loses its release for whatever lazy or uncunning reason. See, it just doesn't pay when something swoops in out of God knows where and saves the day. The result is a cheapened and transparent experience for the reader. And I’m one to distrust the author's direction the minute I spot this kind of authorial ploy.  I’ve even stopped reading some series where books upon books of conflicting back-story is resolved with a single button and a puff of smoke (here‘s looking at you J. D. Robb).  The fact is that a character isn’t convincing without pain. Life isn’t convincing without pain (much to my chagrin).  Nevertheless, like life, character is about how the human spirit is capable of pulling itself off the floor in its final hour. No pain, no gain. So the best characters are always backed far into corners with no foreseeable way out but through their own resourcefulness.

Something that immediately comes to mind in reflection of this topic is actually from Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Season two, episode 34. Buffy is battling her former lover, Angel (technically Angelus), for the season finale. They clash swords for a minute or two, taunting just a little along the way. He’s evil again, and she’s already made the decision that if she can’t save him, she must kill him. They're close to the wire, and Buffy begins to lose the battle when Angel disarms her.  She appears defenseless. 

When he raises his sword for one finishing sweep, he taunts: “That’s everything. No weapons. No friends. No hope. Take all that away, and what’s left?”

Angel jabs, and Buffy pulls a bare-handed blade block.  Her response to his question: “Me.”

Suddenly, she’s out of her corner and kicking Angel’s ass back before eventually sending him to hell, which subsequently saves the world. A high stake for her indeed, because no one will ever know that she scarified her lover to save the world. Nevertheless, my point is that nothing came to save Buffy in that final moment but herself, her spirit, and her palms.

Needless to say those are only a few things that I believe creates a compelling character–gray areas and such aside. So answer me this: what makes a compelling character to you? Who is a character you can admit that causes you to keep reading a book even if the book isn’t all that great? What do you prefer in a character–or what should come first in a character to you? Should a character be someone you can relate and identify with? Or is it better to have character fresh and new, yet someone you can learn something from in relation to his or her story and the proceeding choices that makes it (sort of like asking are there any villains whom you like)?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Guest Post: The Writer's Life by Jeffrey Perren

This Writer's Life by Jeffrey Perren

Up before dawn — make tea for me, coffee for the wife. Check emails — marketing tasks, correspondence with beta readers, and miscellaneous. 

So far, that doesn’t sound very exciting. But that’s the business side of things. I leave as much of that as I can to my publicist — remembering how blessed I am to have one who loves my work.

Later, write or edit the latest story. Currently, that’s Clonmac’s Bridge, the tale of a maritime archaeologist who discovers a Dark Ages bridge near Ireland’s Clonmacnoise Monastery — and finds it perfectly intact. Soon, it will be a re-telling of the William Tell legend and later a trilogy set in the Age of Discovery.

But whatever the subject matter, the process is similar: research everything you can about the history, technology, and general society and daily lives of the period and people. Then, weave a plot within and around all that — filled with drama, romance, and ideas to enrapture the reader for every single page until the end.

Tall orders, all of them. But that’s what makes the writer’s life a glorious adventure all on its own. Visit places I’ve never been but want to see. Be people I’ve never been but strive to become.

Like life, the effort is three-parts tedium to one-part heart-pounding excitement. And you’re continuously trying to shift the ratio, despite the never-ending resistance of the universe to move it in the undesired direction. Still, you have to try — and try and try again. To give up is to decay, to die a little, on your way to complete dissolution. No profit in that.

It isn’t for everyone, for sure. It’s cerebral and emotionally taxing. It’s isolated and isolating, and it takes far more self-discipline than most people — me included — can manage on a regular basis.

No one orders you to write all day, every day. But if you don’t the page doesn’t get filled. You feel guilty when you slack off, and rightly so. You realize that no one, yourself included, is paying you to not write — neither in coin nor in praise. So, you pick yourself up by the bootstraps and plunge in.

Then, you find you’re enjoying the process so much you wonder why you procrastinated so long.

That’s one writer’s life, anyway. Your mileage will no doubt vary.

A maritime archaeologist raises a medieval monastery span from the mud of the River Shannon, sunken for 1,200 years… and finds it perfectly preserved.

What could account for this astounding longevity?  Why are his colleagues and the Church so desperate to prevent him learning the secret?  And why is his consummate lover his greatest enemy?

Griffin Clonmac will go through hell to find out.

He won’t go alone.  Inspired by a real discovery, Clonmac’s Bridge shifts between contemporary times and 9th century Ireland.  It tells the story of two men who struggle against envy and mediocrity--a millennium apart--aided only by a loyal helpmate and an unconquerable will.

An archeological thriller, a love story, and a pensée on society then and now, Jeffery Perren fans are sure to find this latest novel his best yet.

Jeffrey Perren

Excerpt from Chapter 1

     Mari Quispe looked down from the peak of a hill above an archaeological dig near her home in Cusco, Peru. She was the official head of the project, largely owing the influence of her father, but she had no illusions. Few would follow her instructions without it, despite knowing she was the most knowledgeable investigator among them.
     As her gaze crossed the dry expanse she saw her assistant climbing the hill toward her. She smiled down warmly. She waved a second then replaced her hand again over her thick eyebrows when the sun blinded her.
     As she waited for Sandrine to walk up the rise, Mari looked off into the distance. She could see the tall rocks of Sacsayhuaman rising from the desert-like ground, some of them heavier than 100 tons. The sight of the Incan site made her smile, just anticipating what treasures she might dig for there in the future.
     At last, Sandrine reached her and said without any chatty preamble, “I think we should shore up that section behind the corner.” She pointed. “I’m worried about the weight from the earth above.”
     Mari nodded her agreement about the cave. “We’ve made good progress. Maybe too good.” She checked the angle of the sun. “Do you think it can wait until tomorrow, or should we clear everyone out now?”
     She scrolled rapidly down a mental list of who would have to be contacted to do the work and how long it would take. She had enough men on staff to tackle it, but no one with the expertise except Sandrine and the three students. She didn’t want to spare them for that.
     Sandrine read her mind. “It will wait, I’m sure. We can get a whole day in today.”
     Mari thanked her and went off to find someone to take a message to town for the contractor. This high in the Andes and several miles from Cusco her cell phone was useless.
     One of the local workers told her the contractor was at a small house a kilometer from the site. She trotted off to deliver it herself, reaching the shack in a few minutes. She knocked on the door and out came the man, the leathery skin on his face looking flushed from drinking too much Chicha de Jora.
     She was still arguing with him, insisting over his drunken resistance that he start first thing in the morning, when a young man rushed up to her. He hadn’t bothered to knock on the open door, a serious breach of local manners. Mari suspected the reason. She turned to him, ignoring the barking coming from the contractor.
     He said, “It’s collapsed! The cave!”
     She rushed up the hill, her running feet barely touching the trail sloping to the dig. She rounded a turn a few minutes later to see a group of young men standing in front of the cave. She screamed, “What are you waiting for?”
     Mari hustled forward to the now-blocked entrance, transformed by the cave-in to an avalanche of dirt, limestone, and shattered support beams. She tapped the stone beside the entrance with a hand pick and waited.
     She heard a hollow echo, a good sign. The interior hadn’t collapsed, just the front. If Sandrine had been deeper inside she would be uninjured. Mari checked her watch. She estimated they had about two hours to dig her out before the air ran out.
     Her time estimate had been too optimistic.
     Three hours later it was nearly dark and everyone was exhausted. Mari was sure they were nearly through, though. They had opened up a hole big enough to admit adequate air. Everyone fed off her confidence and she refused to let up. She urged them on. An hour later, there was at last a hole large enough for a person to slide inside.
     She pulled Sandrine’s upper body by the armpits between her own legs and onto her stomach, then she grabbed her around the chest. She scooted backwards, pushing with her heels, dragging her precious cargo along, careful not to bang her friend’s head on anything.
     When Mari scrambled out after her, she saw Sandrine stretched out near the rubble, lying alone. The group of onlookers stood back several feet. No one was looking at the body. She was about to shout what idiots they all were but stifled it and began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. She worked at it for a solid two minutes, then paused to examine Sandrine’s face with the flashlight.
     She could see the effort was futile.

Clonmac's Bridge Amazon & Createspace Links

Inspiration of Clonmac's Bridge was a real-life discovery

Perren has always been fascinated by important archeological discoveries, and he found this one particularly interesting. Maritime archaeologists aren't common characters and they fit splendidly in the story he had in mind. 

Also, it’s set in Ireland, a land he loves very much. Like the main character, his mother's ancestors were Irish and he admires the people. But mainly, he wanted to tell about individuals who strive to give their best because they love their profession.

Reader Snippets

"Fascinating, detailed and complex, an investigation that takes us from the present day back to 9th century Ireland." Lili - Goodreads

"Perren's masterfully crafted adventure story covers more than just one marine archaeologist's discovery of a twelve hundred year old bridge. Flawlessly written and paced to take the reader on a journey of discovery with main character, Griffin Clonmac," Gregory Lamb – Goodreads

"Jeffrey Perren has created some fine, odious villains for his protagonists to contend with even as they explore and deepen their feelings for each other."  James Ellsworth, Amazon

Professor Thomas Payne didn’t intend to wind up dead on his caving vacation, and the truth he wasn’t the victim.  But proving his identity to the police becomes tricky after they pull his passport off the lookalike body.

Things go from bogus to baffling when as mysterious phone call at the crime scene leads to the arrest of the young scientist.  His fate seems sealed when the victim’s fingerprints match the professor’s work visa.

Intervention by the police inspector’s daughter frees Thomas to search for clues to prove his innocence.  So, it’s off around the UK with sculptress Terri, one jump ahead of the authorities--and running from his estranged sociopath father.  One slip and claustrophobia will be the least of their problems.

Thomas’ journey soon becomes as much about healing his troubled past as recovering his present self.  Along the way, he’ll battle betrayals by his envious staff, romance the rebellious artist, and suffer harrowing misadventures at historic sites in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

Travel--even to find yourself--was never so perilous.

Jeffery Perren

Excerpt from Chapter 12

     “She opened her eyes again and searched discreetly for the man who had invited Thomas to the island.

      She was determined to appear casual, to keep her observer off guard. But the strain of waiting was taking its toll. With every muscle taut, she was beginning to tire. Relax, girl, just relax, she told herself. He’ll get here. And his face will tell you somehow whether he’s the one who put Thomas in the path of the police by false implication.

      She was glad now she’d stopped at a shop in Glasgow to pick up a change of clothing. The bikini top and shorts suited her purpose much better than her business suit. She flicked a look at the lowering sun and hoped she would still be glad in a little while. The weather in the Hebrides could change from bright to stormy on a whim.

     She tipped her head back and slowly moved her face from one shoulder to the other, like a delphinium following the sun. But she took no pleasure in it this time. It was a feint so she could look around again without seeming obvious. She was sure she would recognize the man who sent the email, though she could not have explained why. She saw no one nearby.

     Even during the summer, in late evening there were but a dozen people on the island that held Fingal’s Cave. This day, two were sunning themselves, but far from her. Most of the rest were clambering over the rocks, leaving the cave, trying to avoid slipping off the basalt columns and into the sea. A couple were already waiting at the shore. There was less ten minutes before the last boat left.

     Terri debated whether she should check inside the cave. If she stayed where she was much longer she’d miss the boat and camping on Staffa overnight could be suicide. She looked at the dark clouds in the distance and judged that trouble was on the way. Then she measured again how low the sun was. She’d give him another few minutes to show.

     When he didn’t, she looked at the boat anxiously, checking her phone’s clock for the fourth time. To avoid being reported by the tour boat captain she watched from behind a boulder as the boat left, then ambled back to her previous spot and lay down.

     Unseen, a man lying on his stomach watched her from the flat, tan bluff atop Fingal’s Cave.”


Death is Overrated Amazon & Createspace Links

The inspiration for Death Overrated

Death Is Overrated had its genesis in an old film called DOA. The protagonist is poisoned and has 48 hours before dying to discover who gave him the fatal dose. Perren spun that idea into a scientist on a caving vacation who is accused – through mistaken identity – of killing himself. He has to prove he’s neither the victim nor the murderer. That, combined with his insatiable travel bug, led to the characters and plot of this romantic mystery.

Reader Snippets

"The author has managed to create well developed, likable characters and scenes which are not boring, but realistic.” Teritree001971 Amazon

Death is Overrated is a great blend of suspense, tension, action, villainy and excitement. A modern day crime thriller with the heroic characters and daring escapades of a 1940's Hollywood film. Mr Perren writes in a style that conveys topics from the humorous to the philosophical with great clarity, accessibility and pacing.”  

Frank Palmer-White

Death Is Overrated by Jeffrey Perren is well made mystery novel full of twists and turns that will keep reader excited to the last page.” Denis Vukosav


Jeffrey Perren is an American novelist, educated in philosophy at UCLA and in physics at UC Irvine. The lure of writing soon outweighed everything, though.

He was born in Independence, MO right around the corner from Harry Truman's house. But then, at the time, everything there was right around the corner from Harry Truman's house. Right now he lives in Sandpoint, Idaho with his wife.

He wrote his first short story at age 12 and went on to win the Bank of America Fine Arts award at age 17. Since then he has published at award-winning sites and magazines from the U.S. to New Zealand. He has had short stories published at the award-winning sites Apollo's Lyre and Mystericale.

You can connect to Jeffery at...

Jeffery's Blog

Jeffery on Facebook

Follow Jeffery on Twitter

Total Pageviews