The Celwyn Newsletter Issue 12

In this issue: MWA news, Celwyn news, and interviews with: 

                —Historical novelist Victoria Ventris Shea.               

                —The Writing Duo Kate Jenkins and Morgan Moreau    

                —Mystery writer WM Gunn

Celwyn’s Cats
The Beauty and the Beast. Guess which is which.

Book Signing!!
Please join us on May 4th from 2-4 p.m.

Barnes and Noble: 1530 Black Lake Blvd. Olympia, WA.

Lou Kemp will be signing all of the books in the Celwyn series, including book 5, The Wyvern, the Pirate, and the Madman.

Mystery writer Linda Norlander will also be there, signing The Death of Goldie’s Mistress and her Cabin by the Lake Series.

Before this signing, Linda will be on a panel with other amazing writers for:

Left Coast Crime Conference, Seattle Shakedown, April 11-14 in Bellevue, Washington.

      

Interview with Victoria Ventris Shea

Bio: Victoria Ventris Shea began writing historical fiction of the Pacific Northwest at the recommendation of a psychic, despite disliking history. Her approach was to focus on the characters; real people with families like ours today. She retired from a career in education in Washington state and currently lives with her husband on Whidbey Island, home of Penn Cove mussels. Every day she enjoys reading, research, writing, cooking, yoga and her family who live nearby.

About Victoria’s historical novel, SHAGOON: 

This multi-cultural historical novel begins with Ana’s Tlingit mother whose fierce love for her warrior husband and son launches a change for future generations. Ana, born of Wolf Clan, was meant to die in the Alaskan forest,. She was a naked newborn left with moss in her mouth while her mother fought to keep Ana’s brother. The babies were born with a deadly condition and although twins, the Wolf spirit has other plans.

Which book was the hardest to write?

My first book, SHAGOON, was hardest. It was 110,000 words. I cut it severely to hit the “sweet spot” of 80,000, then went back to fill some in again. The section breaks (blank space to show a change in time or setting) were left out of the paperback which made the story confusing. It resulted in some bad ratings out of the gate. That took time to clear up.

Did the plot flow as you wrote, or did you need to change anything major?

That plot was easy. It appeared in my research like a map to travel around the Pacific Rim and included the love interest which became  the main conflict: love or duty.

What did you discover in research that was interesting?

In many Native American cultures of the past, twin babies were killed. That was the impetus for me to write SHAGOON; I needed to save a twin.

Which character is most like you?

I’m most like my main character’s mother. As the mother of twins, she fights valiantly to save her babies. She does not follow tradition for tradition’s sake and is relentless.

What happened when you killed a favorite character?

I killed my main character’s father. It was traumatic for me. I stalled for two weeks, then wrote it at 3 a.m. through the tears, sobbed for hours, and mourned for days.

Do you write for yourself or for readers?

I choose the story for myself since I will be writing it for about two years. I try to write it in a way that will be interesting to the reader.

Could we have a preview of your next book’s plot?

In THE GHOSTS OF WHIDBEY ISLAND the first settlers from the Oregon Trail come to live with the indigenous Skagit people in Washington Territory. Life is rugged. Still, relations are good until the governor arrives.

Mystery Writers of America members (and the public are invited)
The Edgars May 1, 2024

The Writing Duo of Kate Jenkins and Morgan Moreau

Kate Jenkins and Morgan Moreau began writing together in 2009. They’ve only met once in person, but their chemistry as authors shows in their fantastic books, The Fractured City and The Coming Rebellion due out in May 2024.

Bios:

Kate Jenkins enjoys writing fantasy, sci-fi, and romance. She lives in a small town in Idaho with her autistic teen, her parents, four dogs, and six cats. She loves gaming, especially first-person shooters and asymmetrical horror games. She’s a K-pop enthusiast and harbors a secret love of K-dramas and Anime. Her favorite tropes are currently enemies to lovers, there was only one bed, coffee shops, time travel fixes it, and soul mates/soul identifying marks.

Morgan Moreau’s literary interests span across various genres. Her affection for The Little Mermaid profoundly influenced her vibrant red and purple hair, mermaid tattoos, and a growing collection of mermaid memorabilia. She lives in Alabama with her dog, Scarlett. Her current passions include higher education and watching the 1995 Pride & Prejudice once a month. Morgan is a fan of vampires, pirates, mermaids, and superheroes, and she hopes to incorporate them into future works. 

The Coming Rebellion Legends of Coralia, book 2 

Synopsis: Following a late-night escape from Quenall, Queen Collette and her friends journey to a neighboring kingdom, hoping to gain allies to help put Collette back on the throne. After Nawalya experiences a series of deadly visions, she struggles with revealing the possible futures to Whyldon, Tolan, and Collette. Back in Coralia, Zephraim and Rhoslyn are crowned the new King and Queen, but Lord Riken’s return threatens the success of the union.

Background

We’ve never lived in the same state, or even the same side of the country, so all our writing takes place online. Originally, we discovered each other online and have only met in person once (at Disney World of all places!!). We met in an online RPG (role playing game) and began writing together in that capacity. When we decided we wanted to write books together, we already had experience plotting, creating characters, and putting stories together.

Our Writing Process

Our writing process is straightforward. We consider ourselves “pantsters.” We know the overall plot of the book, the important points we have to hit, but otherwise, we let the story and characters lead where they will. We often write scenes out of order, and we often work on multiple books at once. For example, we are currently writing chapters for books 4 and 5 in the Legends of Coralia series. 

Next, we put the scenes in order and fill in the gaps along the way. Kate describes the writing process as, “It’s like we are playing a two-person D&D campaign where we split the characters and forgot who the DM is at times.” Truthfully, many of the stories we currently write, or want to write in the future, usually come to life when one of us goes, “what would happen if…?”

Morgan likes to watch the 1996 Pride and Prejudice miniseries while writing and editing. Kate is a recent fan of Hazbin Hotel and gets inspired to make book memes by the cartoon.

Character creation can be mutual or individual depending on the scene and the needs of the story at the time. If individually created, the one of us who is doing the creating is the person who names the character, creates their background, appearance, and other relevant details. When developed together, the combination of who does what can vary wildly. We each have characters we are the primary writer for, though we write for all characters as needed. The primary writer for a character is usually the person who does the creating. For example, Morgan is the primary writer for Collette, and Morgan is the one who created Collette.

How we communicate

Most of our writing takes place on our private discord server (instant messaging platform). We have channels for each of the books in our series, and we will write under the appropriately labeled channel. We will write out chapters or scenes in a sever channel (where each of us can see what is going on and comment). We tend to share a similar view of the story and where it is going, but creative differences do arise. Usually, where there are creative differences, we simply talk them out. This can involve going through the repercussions of each of the possible paths forward and choosing what we think works best. If something ends up not working, we can change it or use it later. Usually, by the time we do our read through before submission, we will consider these points and make sure they work as intended.

As we write, Morgan transfers the writing to a Google Doc for editing. Usually, the editing process at this point is ensuring the cohesiveness and flow of the chapter. We also try to make sure the scene remains in one POV. We haven’t heard of other writing teams writing this way, but the process works well for us. Once the scene is fully put together, we do an initial read through to make sure everything fits together and flows well. Our goal is to make sure no one can tell which of us wrote any particular line. We also take this time to search for passive language, overuse of certain words, and more.

We talk on and off all day, every day. Most conversations happen on the server, but we have a chat with some other authors on Instagram. We also call each other through the server or on the phone a few times a week. Morgan likes entertainment when she drives, so Kate usually gets called upon in those instances. The latest phone conversation involved Morgan cheering Kate’s son on while he played a video game.

Some Ideas For What to read Next

An Interview with Mystery Writer W. M. Gunn

Bio: WM Gunn is native Texan who spent over 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry in sales, sales management, and training and development where he developed, wrote, and delivered programmed instruction, technical seminars, and product launches. In 2009, he took those writing skills and began writing novels, novellas, and short stories.

Tell us about your writing process

I would assume every author has a different take on the process of writing, and I am no different. Sometimes I lead the story to its conclusion, and sometimes the story leads me. Sometimes I may wake up in the middle of the night and write for hours, only to discover the next morning that it was best completed with the DELETE button.

Where do your characters come from? It is easy to establish relationships (good and bad) with the characters you create. After all, they are products of your own mind, or approximations of people you know or meet. You infuse them with personality traits and quirks you exhibit or see in others. You see their models at the grocery store, the movie theater, the gas station, church, and a bar on Saturday night. Here are some of my character examples:

1. Jakob Sofer was a 28-year-old man when he got off the boat at a port in Jamestown, Virginia. In Ireland he had been an indentured servant, and now embarked on a new life in a new world.

2. Ichiro Hisakawa was a 16-year-old Japanese-American imprisoned in a concentration camp with 12,000 others in California in 1942. They became the enemy because of their race – not because of what they did.

3. Huntington’s Disease, a devastating killer, slowly ravaged 11-year-old Maria and took a grave toll on her widowed father, Pedro. He was desperate to save his daughter, but nothing could be done until she wrote a letter to Santa.

What is unique about your unusual characters?  Here are a few examples: 

There was an assassin who suffered from epistaxis (nosebleeds) who went on a Boos Cruise on Halloween and along with another couple got more than they bargained for. 

Follow Corporal Dean Cummings on Omaha Beach on D-Day after he died. 

Then there is Commander Gretchen Moreno and her trio of Synthetic Space Sanitation robots named Larry, Curly, and Moe. 

Oh, and did you hear about the time Klaatu and Gort got into an argument? Or when Satan held court on a tree stump. He stood on his toes, knees bent, and hunched over at the waist. He had a long, red-orange muzzle, teeth as sharp as daggers, one blinding red eye, and one a deep pool of black like the tunnel to death. He faced Thomas Barton, better known as Red Smoke of the Keechi Creek tribe.

Since the late 1980s, I had an idea for a book. I never wrote anything down, but I knew how the story would begin and how it would end. It rolled around in my head for 20+ years until I retired in 2014 and finally put it down in my computer in about six weeks. My new career in writing had begun, but I was in no hurry to publish. Since that novel, I have written eleven more novels and two novellas but am only now beginning to publish. I have also written somewhere around 300+ short stories, many of which appear on my website under Storytime with Bubba, a rather unusual character to say the least.

We launched Holmes, Moriarty, and the Monkeys on March 1. This is a 19,000-word whodunit novella on Amazon Kindle ebooks. On the hearth in front of the Holmes and Moriarty Society’s massive fireplace are three stone statues of monkeys – Mizaru who holds its hands covering its eyes, Kikazaru with its hands covering its ears, and Iwazaru who covers its mouth. The story begins as Osgood Ridley, the owner of the mansion, and one of the society’s founding members, turns up dead. But as more bodies are found, the H&M Society’s true purpose is slowly revealed. When the statue of the fourth monkey, Sezaru, appears on the hearth, the questions begin to outweigh the answers. The members of the society realize that this is no longer a job for amateurs. Now it is the job for two police detectives to solve the mystery.

Upcoming: In May 2024, we will launch another novella entitled Chasing the Sun. As the sun moves from the East to the West comes the story of a group of adventurers following the trail of treasure from the Civil War last heard of in the 1880s. Ride with them as they encounter Union soldiers and Confederate Gold, Maximillian’s Lost Treasure and Indians, and a haunted cave of treasure and death.

Gina Rae Mitchell

Navigating the Journey from Writing to Publishing

By Gina Mitchell (full text found at GinaRaeMitchell.com)

The journey from writing to publishing is a significant milestone for any author. However, it’s crucial to approach this process with careful consideration, balancing the desire to see your work in print with the commitment to ensuring its quality and proper formatting. Here are some insights and tips to consider as you delve deeper into ways to make this transition easier.

  • Strive for Quality Over Speed             
  • Develop Your Skill 
  • Embrace Revision
  • Align with Your Goals Formatting Matters: Professional Appearance
  • Consistency is Key Resisting the Urge to Publish: Patience Pays Off

Seek Feedback: remember, the first draft is for the writer, but the final draft is for the reader. By prioritizing quality over speed and ensuring proper formatting, you can increase the likelihood of your work resonating with readers and making a lasting impact.

The Celwyn Series YouTube channel

What is New with the Celwyn Series?

What is new?

Not as much as I’d hoped. About the half of the handwritten draft for book 7 has been put through Dragon (voice activated software that is supposed to save my hands but can’t consistently spell the names of the main characters) and into a digital format.. No comment on the software other than to say that someday there will be a horror novel about it. I’m working on the title.

Book 7 will be called Lucky and Mrs. Nemo.

The mini-synopsis: Swango is still traveling with them on the Nautilus, and his flamboyant and rude tendencies remind everyone alternately of Celwyn or Pelaez. He is not as irritating as Pelaez (who he hasn’t met yet) and mostly means well. But, his way of participating is unusual and never planned. After attending to a deadly assault on Findbar Island, the adventurers leave for Spain to confront Doctor Lazlo and Mrs. Nemo, and when Tellyhouse is threatened, they return to Prague. Things shift again, and the Nautilus races west—-and for Kang’s sake, Celwyn hopes they arrive in time.

A coming attraction—– I’m planning on several companion books to the Celwyn series. Once exists now, The Sea of the Vanities, and it is set a bit earlier, in the 1850s. The next involves Pelaez, Celwyn’s obnoxious brother in 1945 England at a mansion called Farm Hall. There may be another before then.

Great Reviews:

Recently, on her blog Gina R. Mitchell featured a review of the Celwyn book 5, The Wyvern, the Pirate, and the Madman.

Here are two more reviews for book 5. A big thank you to Stacey Wilder, and Sandra Cox. Love you all. Link to the reviews: https://www.goodreads.com/…/203518795-the-wyvern-the…

About the Series:

The Celwyn Series is a steampunk fantasy filled with murder, mystery, and magic. The series stars the immortal magician Jonas Celwyn , Bartholomew the widower from the Sudan, and Professor Xiau Kang an automat who is also a doctor and scientist. As they travel the world they become part of the Nautilus and Captain Nemo’s adventures.

If you’d like a bulleted synopsis of any of the first 4 books of the series, please contact me at: https://loukemp.com/
If you have a comment on the newsletter or would like to participate in the Author Debates or the ongoing article “A Readers Point of View” in future issues, contact me there.

Synopsis Book 6. Swango, available fall 2024

The story begins in Hong Kong after Celwyn, Bartholomew, and Professor Kang are attacked. The identity of their assailant is interesting; and it portends an event that will challenge them all.

Pelaez is back, which makes life aboard the submarine rather tense while everyone tries to kill him. Before they can leave Hong Kong, the magician uses a unique method to retrieve half of Captain Nemo’s crew from their shore leave before they are killed. Months later, when Celwyn and company arrive in Prague they must bury one of their family who has been cruelly murdered.

From there, the adventurers reboard the Nautilus to travel to the Castell de Ferro in Spain. They expect a dangerous and supernatural reception and need more protection than what Celwyn can provide. At the magician’s suggestion, they plan to invite his acquaintance, Swango, aboard. Captain Nemo suspects Swango may be an asset, but the man also brings much more than assistance onto the ship.

For months, I’ve been volunteering with the non-profit group Engin to help Ukrainians speak and write English.

No degree needed, or experience. Just an hour a week per student you want to help. The sessions are over Zoom. Engin supplies support and everything you need. Engin is a non-profit, and donations are always welcome. My students waited more than 8 months for a volunteer, and still others are hoping for a volunteer match soon.

If you can donate or volunteer, even for an hour a week, they would be so happy to hear from you.

info@enginprogram.org

Shameless Buy Links

The links below lead to booksellers who carry the Celwyn series.

The Violins Played before Junstan book 1

https://books2read.com/celwyn01

Music Shall Untune the Sky book 2

https://books2read.com/celwyn02

The Raven and the Pig book 3

https://books2read.com/celwyn03

The Pirate Danced and the Automat Died Book 4

https://books2read.com/celwyn04

The Sea of the Vanities. Companion book.

https://books2read.com/celwyncompanion01

The Wyvern, the Pirate, and the Madman Book 5 https://books2read.com/celwyn005

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