DEBT’S HONOR

From my publisher, Rage Machine Books:

The long awaited sequel to our best selling title DEBT’S PLEDGE has finally been released!

Jefferson Odett returns in Jack Mackenzie’s DEBT’S HONOR, an action-packed military science fiction adventure that will have you hooked!

PIRATES, ALIENS, BUREAUCRATS – WHO CAN YOU TRUST?

Korax is a colony world beset by problems. Pirates have targeted the world for plunder, a race of wandering alien nomads have made themselves at home and the colony’s new governor seems intent on making enemies of just about everyone.

Jefferson Odett would rather be out on the rim, fighting the war for humanity, but a misadventure has landed him here. Now he has to try to secure a planet that does not want its new governor, the aliens who have moved in, or the platoon of undisciplined soldiers under Odett’s command. The only thing the colony seems to want is the pirate that Odett has been ordered to kill.

Action-filled military science fiction by the author of DEBT’S PLEDGE.

DEBT’S HONOR is available at Amazon in e-book and in paperback.

Advertisements

Debt’s Honor progress report

After a long period of being blocked I managed to write over 1300 words on DEBT’S HONOR the sequel to my novel DEBT’S PLEDGE (available now at Amazon.com). Yay, me!

That brings the word count up to just over 46,000 and I reckon I’m about a third of the way into it, which means the final first draft may end up being somewhere in the neighborhood of 120,000 words.

Which is a far cry from the quick and dirty short novel I’d envisioned the sequel being when I started.

Hopefully it will go a bit faster from here on in.

The Man with One Body and Two Personalities

wild

I have a problem.

You see, I have two personas and only one body.

I am Jack Mackenzie, author who is trying to write a sequel to his book DEBT’S PLEDGE and who is trying to keep this blog updated on a semi-regular basis.

But I am also M.D. Jackson, an artist who occasionally gets paid to do actual illustration work. Kind of like the one at the top of this blog post but… not that one. That one was just done for shits and giggles.

No, M.D. Jackson is a real artist who has to actually do real artwork. That takes time. And despite having two personas I only get twenty-four hours in a day and I spend a disturbing amount of that time sleeping and eating.

So, the point of this post is that M. D. Jackson is in the middle of working on a commission and so Jack Mackenzie has to be quiet, just as if he were bound and gagged and stuffed in a closet.

Don’t worry. He can breathe. I’ll let him out when the job is done… hopefully soon.

DEBT’S PLEDGE and the Bechdel Test

134BechdelTest

So, my daughter came home for Christmas, which is enough of a Christmas present for her mother and I. While on the Greyhound she passed the time reading a trade paperback edition of my book, Debt’s Pledge. When she pulled the book out of her backpack she told me she was only three quarters of the way through. I asked her what she thought about it.

“Well, first thing; your book would not pass the Bechdel Test”, she said.

For those of you who don’t know, the Bechdel Test (sometimes called the Mo Movie Measure or Bechdel Rule) is a simple test which names the following three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. The test was popularized by Alison Bechdel’s comic Dykes to Watch Out For, in a 1985 strip called The Rule.

I thought about it for a moment and realized that what she had told me was very true. There are several women characters in the book, and most of them are strong characters. Some are more feminine than others but none are shrinking violets. However, the book’s main character is Jefferson Odett and the entire book is told from his point of view. It’s not told in the first person, but the third person narrative is deliberately limited to Odett’s point of view. That makes it kind of difficult to pass the Bechdel Rule.

I admitted as much to my daughter.

“Also,” she continued. “Why do all the women characters all have to have some sort of relationship with Odett? It’s like they’re all there just as sex objects for him”

“Wait,” I said, trying to think. I’m writing the sequel but the details of the first book aren’t as fresh in my head as they are in hers. “What about Amy Brown, the guildswoman?” I asked.

My daughter nodded. “Yeah, I was hoping that she would be different, but then you ruined it by having them kiss!”

Oh, yeah. I’d forgotten about that. “Well… okay… but…”

“And where are the feels, Dad? The book has no feels!”

Feels? The book’s got feels!” I protest.

“No it doesn’t” said my wife, which caught me off guard.

“I thought you loved my book.”

“I do. But you’re daughter’s right. It’s got no feels.”

At this point I felt a bit out of my depth. “Well… I set out to write a vary manly book…” I heard myself saying. “It’s a manly book… for manly men!”

They both looked at me like I was some sort of special mental case. I felt a bit like one.

“Well…” I sputtered. “The sequel will be better.”

“Dad,” my daughter said. “You know you wouldn’t get this kind of honest criticism from someone who didn’t love you, right?”

It was true. I had received a negative review… honestly, the worst review the book has garnered so far, from the two people whose opinions I value the most… and yet, I never felt so loved.

Family is funny that way.

Whatever your faith, however you choose to celebrate (or even if you don’t), I hope you all have a good holiday season and that it is filled with warmth and love.

OPENING PARAGRAPHS

Most writers now the importance of an opening paragraph. Writers are keenly aware (or they should be) that they only have so much time to interest a reader in investing his or her attention in your work. You’ve got to hook them — intrigue them — right away.

First paragraphs are usually crafted very carefully and are usually one of the last things a writer does. The crafting of an opening paragraph, unless you are lucky enough to come up with a doozy in your first draft, is usually something that is worked on, filed, cut, honed and polished many times before you publish and/or submit to a publisher.

An opening paragraph — heck, an opening sentence — can make the difference between reading the book or putting it back on the shelf (or throwing it on the floor which was my reaction to the opening sentence of The Hunger Games, but the less said about that the better).

Here, in no particular order, are some of my favourite opening paragraphs:

When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

 

He was one hundred and seventy days dying and not yet dead. He fought for survival with the passion of a beast in a cage. He was delerious and rotting, but occasionally his primitive mind emerged from the burning nightmare of survival into something resembling sanity. Then he lifted his mute face to Eternity and muttered” “What’s a matter, me? Help, you goddamn gods! Help, is all.”

The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

 

IT WAS ABOUT ELEVEN O’CLOCK in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.

 The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

 

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.

 1984 by George Orwell

 

Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast table. I stood upon the hearth-rug and picked up the stick which our visitor had left behind him the night before. It was a fine, thick piece of wood, bulbous-headed, of the sort which is known as a `Penang lawyer.’ Just under the head was a broad silver band nearly an inch across. `To James Mortimer, M.R.C.S., from his friends of the C.C.H.,’ was engraved upon it, with the date `1884.’ It was just such a stick as the old-fashioned family practitioner used to carry – dignified, solid, and reassuring.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

You see, I had this space suit.

Have Space Suit – Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein

 

In the week before their departure to Arrakis, when all the final scurrying about had reached a nearly unbearable frenzy, an old crone came to visit the mother of the boy, Paul

Dune by Frank Herbert

 

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

The Dark Tower by Stephen King

And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t include one of my own opening paragraphs. I’ve been working on this one for quite a while now (several years, in fact) and I have changed it many times since that first draft. Here is the opening paragraph for my forthcoming novel DEBT’S PLEDGE:

Jefferson Odett found the alien skull on a tiny backwater world covered with heat blasted rocks and little else. He sat on one of those rocks, waiting for Colonel Lightyard and his division. He’d seen the Colonel’s shuttle land some ways off and he was growing impatient waiting in the merciless heat.

So what are some of your favourite opening paragraphs? Or do you have an opening paragraph to one of your own novels that you are particularly proud of? Post them in the comments below.