We’re so pleased to have author Anna Butler visiting today, on the tour for her latest novel, Makepeace, book three in the Taking Shield series. Enjoy Anna’s guest post, and the be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget below where you can enter for the chance to win a print copy of Gyrfalcon (Taking Shield: Book One).
I don’t know about you, but while I hope I have some facility with words, I’m really a very visual person.
Apparently whether we’re a words or a visual person when it comes to grasping concepts has to do with the wiring in our brains, and the balance between left and right brain thinking. The sad thing is that not only do I write science fiction, but a long, long time ago I gained a BSC in Biology and Biochemistry. That means I should be able to look at that sentence about brain wiring, stroke my chin and nod in a knowing sort of way. In reality, I wince and turn away, and rush to Google to try and find an image to describe it. That old cliché about pictures being worth a thousand words is true for scientists too.
I can’t speak for all writers, but I not only have words to brigade into some sort of sense, but I also need images and visuals to help me to write. I do a lot of research when I’m writing. Anything from the 1900 Paris Olympics to interferomatic dispersion theory, via genetics and astrophysics. As well as sighing my way through dense scientific tomes—actually, often as a bit of light relief—I search for images too. Sometimes I’m looking for people who can stand in for my heroes, for Flynn or Bennet from the Shield universe for example, and whose faces will often be in my mind as I write. Often, too. it’s peripheral images: clothing, spaceships, steampunky coffee machines, weapons. Rather like having to have the right title for a book before I can buckle down to writing it, I have to have the right images.
That’s where Pinterest comes in. Yeah, yeah, I know. Another social networking site to suck up our scarce free time. But if like me you like to have inspiration images around, Pinterest is incredibly useful for storing them. In the old days I used to print the images and stick them in a folder. These days all it takes to refresh my imagination is the click of a button.
And, you know, it might get you some new readers too.
I have a personal board set up for the things that are nothing to do with my writing. But my writing boards are a treasure trove of things relating to the Taking Shield series or The Gilded Scarab. Everything from how a gentleman tied his puttees, to a hand drawn sketch of the layout of the hangars and launch bays for the Gyrfalcon. Each book has a board dedicated to it but the books will be of limited interest to the average Pinterest user. Only a very small number are likely to follow me on Pinterest because of the books, or go looking for images connected to Shield or Scarab. At the same time, an added reason for an author of a Pinterest account is to catch the eye of potential new readers.
So the trick is to have lots of boards that will attract general Pinterest users, but which are still related to the books. Someone merrily surfing around Pinterest may come across my boards because they’re looking for images of coffee machines or Victorian ladies clothing or steampunk guns, but when they land on my page, the boards of the books are right in front of them. You never know. They may take a look at those too and be intrigued enough to explore further. It’s worth a try, right?
Pinterest can certainly help you both organise your thinking/planning/researching phase and may even send a few new people your way. I thoroughly recommend it. Of course, you have to have a will of iron not to spend hours there, looking at the pretties…
You can find my boards at Anna Butler, Pinterest by following the link, but if you want to see which gorgeous men are in my mind’s eye every time I open up the WIP and start to type their names, here’s Bennet and Flynn.
About the Taking Shield Series
Earth’s a dead planet, dark for thousands of years; lost for so long no one even knows where the solar system is. Her last known colony, Albion, has grown to be regional galactic power in its own right. But its drive to expand and found colonies of its own has threatened an alien race, the Maess, against whom Albion is now fighting a last-ditch battle for survival in a war that’s dragged on for generations.
Taking Shield charts the missions and adventures of Shield Captain Bennet, scion of a prominent military family. Against the demands of his family’s ‘triple goddess’ of Duty, Honour and Service, is set Bennet’s relationships with lovers and family. When the series opens, Bennet is at odds with his long term partner, Joss, who wants him out of the military and back in an academic, archaeological career. He’s estranged from his father, Caeden, who is the commander of Fleet’s First Flotilla. Events of the first book, in which he is sent to his father’s ship to carry out an infiltration mission behind Maess lines, improve his relationship with Caeden, but bring with them the catalyst that will destroy the one with Joss: one Fleet Lieutenant Flynn, who, over the course of the series, develops into Bennet’s main love interest.
Over the Taking Shield story arc, Bennet will see the extremes to which humanity’s enemies, and his own people, will go to win the war. Some days he isn’t able to tell friend from foe. Some days he doubts everything, including himself, as he strives to ensure Albion’s victory. And some days he isn’t sure, any longer, what victory looks like.
Series: Taking Shield
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas
Wordcount: c 94,500
Category: Sci Fi, Gay mainstream
Purchase Links: Amazon.com || Amazon.co.uk || Wilde City
Blurb: Returning to duty following his long recovery from the injuries he sustained during the events recounted in Heart Scarab, Shield Captain Bennet accepts a tour of duty in Fleet as flight captain on a dreadnought. The one saving grace is that it isn’t his father’s ship—bad enough that he can’t yet return to the Shield Regiment, at least he doesn’t have the added stress of commanding former lover Fleet Lieutenant Flynn, knowing the fraternisation regulations will keep them apart.
Working on the material he collected himself on T18 three years before, Bennet decodes enough Maess data to send him behind the lines to Makepeace, once a human colony but under Maess control for more than a century. The mission goes belly up, costing Albion one of her precious, irreplaceable dreadnoughts and bringing political upheaval, acrimony and the threat of public unrest in its wake. But for Bennet, the real nightmare is discovering what the Maess have in store for humanity.
It’s not good. It’s not good at all.
The two members of the Ennead who also sat on IntCom, Seigneur Jethric of Illuria and Madam Beatrice of Achaea, were on the Inquiry Board. Bennet didn’t know either of them on a personal level, just as faces who occasionally sat on the other side of IntCom’s table while he and Felix briefed them on something or other. Supreme Commander Jak was there, of course, and General Martens. The old man talking with Jak was Seigneur Etienne, the head of the Ennead Secretariat, and another of Caeden’s allies.
They had been talking, in two or three little groups, when the captains trailed in. Caeden had said once to Bennet that it was in the margins where the shifting alliances were forged and broken; the shadows where political deals were done and undone, where backs were scratched or stabbed with all the delicacy of a stiletto between the shoulder blades. Bennet glanced at his general, who sat apart. Typical of her. One day, when he’d be the one sitting there with the Shield General’s stars in his collar, he’d take a leaf from Martens’ book and stay above the petty politicking. He could do a great deal worse.
The president called them to order. It wasn’t a big room and the witnesses sat in a tight-packed gaggle in the central section behind the lonely chair where each would be interrogated. The remaining members of the Intelligence Committee, Field Marshal Klára and Caeden, took seats off to one side. They weren’t formal Inquiry members and wouldn’t take any part in the proceedings. Their main part would come that afternoon, when IntCom met. At least they’d been allowed in to observe.
“This is a formal Board of Inquiry,” the president said, when everyone was still, “constituted under the provisions of the Military Judicial Inquiries Act of 6837 as amended by Part II and accompanying legal Schedules of the Military Inquiry Deposition Regulations of 7003. In accordance with those Regulations, the proceedings and deliberations of this Inquiry will be recorded and encrypted, Griffin Beta Six and higher security access only. This Board is convened to inquire into the disappearance of the dreadnought Caliban and her entire crew on 39 Quintus of this year whilst in military action at the former Nicaean colony of Makepeace in the Firenze Quadrant. All proceedings and deliberations of the Inquiry are covered by the Official Secrets Act, and every one of you giving evidence here today will sign declarations that you understand and accept the Act’s provisions as they apply to proceedings here, to you and to your future conduct. You are bound by those provisions in their entirety. Breach them, and you will endure the full penalty of the law.”
He paused and looked around the silent room, and tapped his ceremonial gavel against the table. “This Board of Inquiry is now in session.”
About the Author
Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She recently moved out of the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London to the rather slower environs of a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, where she lives with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo.