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Book reviews

Overboard – new novel by one of our writers

Overboard Ivy Ngeow crime novel

Overboard Ivy Ngeow crime novel

Ivy Ngeow, who has written for us about writers’ tips, etc, has her third novel Overboard out now. Please have a look at this gripping suspense-filled 5 star novel

Crowd fund your new novel or story this way

One of our occasional writers, Ivy Ngeow, also writes fiction. She has been published and won awards. This might smooth your way to a publishing deal, but the new way involves crowdfunding, or rather, pre-selling enough copies of the book (which is completed). It is set in Chicago, USA, and Macau near Hong Kong, China, and is set in the 80s, with Reagan the untried new president, parallels with Trump there.
Check out her entertaining video here on the Unbound site now >

Heart of Glass novel by Ivy Ngeow

Heart of Glass novel by Ivy Ngeow

The pre-sales have to reach a target, such that the publisher (in this case, Unbound, part of Penguin/Random House) can remove any risk. The book is only published when pre-sales have got to a level where they will at least make some profit even if nobody else buys the book. This is like the opposite of an advance, the writer has to do all the marketing and selling to get the book out at all. It seems to work though, as many interesting and successful books have appeared via Unbound.
Unbound have just had a massive hit with The Good Immigrant, a collection of essays about being an immigrant in the UK. And Robert Llewellyn, an actor from the SF series Red Dwarf, has had many novels out through them.
Ivy will be discussing her crowd funding techniques, using Facebook, blogging, email etc, on this site soon.
I am preparing a pitch video for my next novel now!

Check out Ivy’s new crime novel here on the Unbound site now >

Paranormal romance, SF, Fantasy, vampires, aliens, time travel, mixed race, Star Trek, telepathy

Paranormal romance - the horror, the horror

Paranormal romance - the horror, the horror

I noticed this intriguing sign in our local library. I assumed Paranormal Romance was a sub genre of Horror, but is apparently part of Romance.

So that is Mills and Boon with ghost, ghouls and things that go bump in the night.

Or SF with a bit of love.

There is a series on UK TV now about mixed race relationships, looking at the opposition people met from conservatives, racists, etc. to mixed race couples. This has become less obvious now but is still around, it has just got a bit more subtle. For instance in the UK Channel 4 series Little Britain, the only race-related jokes were aimed at a Thai woman who was married to an English man. Because Thais are not Black or Islamic, the series would have no organised negative viewer response, as South East Asians usually try to blend in rather than assert their identity.

So what does paranormal romance with vampires and aliens signify for mixed race relationships?

The genre is mainly aimed at a young readership. Are they more open-minded, due to the ubiquity of mixed race children (supposedly 10% in the UK), and the constant emphasis in education of the global village concept, planet consciousness, and so on?

What are the main characteristics of paranormal romance?

In no particular order:

Humans getting it on (or not, which makes for the narrative) with vampires, aliens, ghosts (disembodied souls), rarely hairy werewolves, cyborgs, robots.

Vampires? Just neurotic humans with cold hands.

People yearning so much they get into telekinesis, telepathy, a kind of ultra empathy. This is very adolescent, passive activity in the psychic realm. ‘Passive activity’ might be the term for all this psychokinetic, psychoactive area.

SF or Sci Fi romance – aliens, lust, domination – like Captain Kirk in Star Trek and his alien romantic dalliances. But more so. Feature exotic locations (no, not Sandals) such as alien planets, space stations, Dyson worlds, add a bit of teleportation, some additional body parts.

Bromance – talking of Star Trek, in the recent film, there was the famous bromance (brotherly romance) between Captain Kirk and Spock. This is straying into fan fiction territory.

Time travel – The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is a global hit with ensuing film. Why? No one has any time so let’s conjure some up out of a gadget. Then have a love affair.

Will you be staying for breakfast?

See our Story Software page of vampires and romance for teenage readers >

The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters – plot and ending of story discussion – for Book Club – Story Software Lite

For a discussion of the plot of The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters please have a look at this Amazon review I wrote a while back.

Go to Sarah Waters – The Little Stranger plot discussion >

The discussion has continued through many many entries. What do you think? Might be useful for a for Book Club debate or recommended read.

Spoiler alert – this discusses the PLOT and the ENDING of the story so please do not read if you have not read the book yet!

How to Tips for exciting stories or novels – The Pianoplayers, Anthony Burgess

The Pianoplayers 1986
Anthony Burgess

Burgess The Pianoplayers

Burgess The Pianoplayers


What he wanted in a film:
Plenty of variety
Which means:

  • A railway train
  • A house on fire
  • A scene by the lake for lovers
  • Galloping horses
  • A fist fight that did not go on too long
  • A ball scene with the Blue Danube waltz for preference
  • Soldiers marching down the street coming home from war
  • No battle scenes
  • (machine guns OK, big guns, not OK)

‘He’ is the narrator’s Dad, who is a piano player at a cinema in the time of silent movies… which explains this list.

This is a very readable novel, it is more like a memoir than a conventional novel. Which is what it is supposed to be, an old lady reminisces about her life, mainly her early life with her father, an itinerant and drunken piano player.

How to write a story or book – try some of these in a short story and see how it goes – if your imagination is stuck, use some of these as modifiers. For instance, add Galloping horses – this will always liven up a scene. Perhaps use them as a metaphor if you do not want actual horses charging about in your existential office drama.