Saturday, November 30, 2013

Peter Simmons and the Vessel of Time by Ramz Artso @RamzArtso

Peter

Chapter 4

Portland, Oregon

October 22nd

Afternoon Hours

I sauntered out of the school building with my friends in tow and pulled on a thickly woven hat to cover my fluffy flaxen hair, which was bound to be frolic even in the mildest of breezes. I took a deep breath and scrutinized my immediate surroundings, noticing an armada of clouds scudding across the sky. It was a rather blustery day. The shrewd, trilling wind had all but divested the converging trees off their multicolored leaves, pasting them on the glossy asphalt and graffiti adorned walls across the road. My spirits were quickly heightened by this observation, and I suddenly felt rejuvenated after a long and taxing day at school. I didn’t know why, but the afternoon’s indolent weather appealed to me very much. I found it to be a congenial environment. For unexplainable reasons, I felt like I was caught amidst a fairytale. It was this eerie feeling which came and went on a whim. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Perhaps it was triggered by the subconscious mind brushing against a collage of subliminal memories, which stopped resurfacing partway through the process.

Anyhow, there I was, enjoying the warm and soporific touch of the autumn sun on my face, engaging in introspective thoughts of adolescent nature when Max Cornwell, a close, meddlesome friend of mine, called me from my rhapsodic dream with a sharp nudge in the ribs.

‘Hey, man! You daydreaming?’

I closed my eyes; feeling a little peeved, took a long drag of the wakening fresh air and gave him a negative response by shaking my head.

‘Feel sick or something?’ he persisted.

I wished he would stop harping on me, but it looked like Max had no intention of letting me enjoy my moment of glee, so I withdrew by tartly saying, ‘No, I’m all right.’

‘Hey, check this out,’ said George Whitmore,–who was another pal of mine–wedging himself between me and Max. He held a folded twenty dollar bill in his hand, and his ecstatic facial expression suggested that he had just chanced upon the find by sheer luck.

‘Is that yours?’ I asked, knowing very well that it wasn’t.

‘No, I found it on the floor of the auditorium. Just seconds before the last period ended.’

‘Then perhaps you should report your discovery to the lost and found. I’m sure they’ll know what to do with it there.’

‘Yeah, right. That’s exactly what I’m going to do,’ he said, snorting derisively. He then added in a somewhat defensive tone, as if trying to convince himself more than anyone else, ‘I found it, so it’s mine–right?’

I considered pointing out that his intentions were tantamount to theft, but shrugged it off instead, and followed the wrought-iron fence verging the school grounds before exiting by the small postern. I was in no mood for an argument, feeling too tired to do anything other than run a bath and soak in it. Therefore, I expunged the matter from my mind, bid goodbye to both George and Max and plunged into the small gathering of trees and brush which we, the kids, had dubbed the Mini Forest. It was seldom traveled by anyone, but we called it that because of its size, which was way too small to be an actual forest, and a trifle too large to be called otherwise.

I was whistling a merry tune, and wending my way home with a spring in my step, when my ears abruptly pulled back in fright. All of a sudden, I couldn’t help but feel as if I was being watched. But that wasn’t all. I felt like someone was trying to look inside of me. Right into me. As if they were rummaging in my soul, searching its every nook and cranny, trying to fish up my deepest fears and darkest secrets. It was equivalent to being stripped naked in front of a large audience. Steeling myself for something ugly, I felt the first stirrings of unease.

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Genre – Young-adult, Action and Adventure, Coming of Age, Sci-fi

Rating – PG-13

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Connect with  Ramz Artso on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://ramzartso.blogspot.com/

Author Interview – Lee Tidball @leetidball

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)? Not yet, but I hope to do that more in the future.  I love connecting personally with an audience.
Can we expect any more books from you in the future? Oh yes!  I have a middle-grade/YA historical fantasy coming out soon that is actually a new edition of my first-ever novel, and also the concluding chapter to a three-part graphic novel series for kids should come out sometime this summer.  Really excited about that as it completes a three-part series.

Have you started another book yet? Currently outlining several projects, not sure which I’ll really go with next, but more books are definitely coming.

What are your current writing projects now? Two book projects; a YA female superhero series, and a funny family romantic comedy that involves performing primates, and a couple screenwriting projects; a true-life story about a down-and-out woman who starts a children’s performing arts school and a YA series about a girl who has superpowers, etc.

Are you reading any interesting books at the moment?  Yes!  Dan Brown’s “Inferno” is really good, and I also enjoyed the YA novel “Divergent” a lot as well.

Are there any new authors that have sparked your interest and why? I focus more in on stories that specific authors.  There’s so many YA authors these days (and so many imitating each other) that it’s almost impossible to keep them straight.  But some at least seem very good.

What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out? A good outlining program can really help a new writer get a good handle on their ideas and give it structure and substance.  Also, there’s some good online courses that teach the writing process that would do the same thing, or more.

What contributes to making a writer successful? Self-discipline more than anything.  You’ve got to be able to stick with it.

Do you have any advice for writers? Yeah, if you want to be successful, work hard and don’t quit.  While writing both screenplays and novels involves increasing amounts of just plain luck to get your work out there and noticed no matter how good you are (and that can be very discouraging), quitting is the only way that you guarantee that you won’t be successful.

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Amazon bestseller - Teen/YA Literature and Fiction

“Imagine the unimaginable.”

That was the mantra of young prodigy Hector Chevas’s mentor in architectural design, Gellini. But even Gellini couldn’t imagine the horrors that his prize student and adopted son would fill Suburbia’s new Heartland Mall with to wreak revenge on those who killed Gellini and murdered Hector’s only friends. “Black Friday” was never blacker.

But Hector couldn’t imagine that, in the middle of his deathly rampage, an “angel” from his past would re-appear into his life; wild-child Janey, whose life he’d saved years before, and who’d never forgotten her promise to “always love him…for reals.” But was that love strong enough now to learn the unimaginable truth; to call Hector’s “dead” soul back to life and resurrect him from his mad plunge into oblivion?

MALLED is a story filled with tragedy, terror, raw emotion, unspeakable horrors, and, above all, the awesome power of ferocious, undying love. Go for it. Get into it. Dare to “imagine the unimaginable.”

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Genre –  NeoGothic Horror / Thriller

Rating – R for violence & language

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Friday, November 29, 2013

A Day in the Life of (Pepper Winters) – Pepper Winters @PepperWinters

A Day in the Life of (Pepper Winters)

I’m pretty boring really. It’s all about the written word and socializing with my awesome readers. And I’m a nerd too so I spend about 14-15 hours a day on my laptop.

Morning: I spend the morning answering emails, fan messages, and wasting time on Facebook. I check twitter and pinterest and I have a minor addiction about checking my amazon rankings to see how people are going with purchasing my work. I try and avoid Goodreads as much as possible, but sometimes I can’t help myself and have a sneak peek at reviews.

Afternoon: I finish up my other online work. Answering emails and clearing my desk. Then I open my manuscript and try and get 5000-10000 words done in one sitting.

Dinner: After dinner I re-read what I read and try and tweak the little bits. I then move back to Facebook, twitter, and arranging some more promotion for my work.

As you can see, I eat, sleep, and breathe writing and getting the word out there! J I’m a slave to my craft!

Tears of Tess

Tess Snow has everything she ever wanted: one more semester before a career in property development, a loving boyfriend, and a future dazzling bright with possibility.

For their two year anniversary, Brax surprises Tess with a romantic trip to Mexico. Sandy beaches, delicious cocktails, and soul-connecting sex set the mood for a wonderful holiday. With a full heart, and looking forward to a passion filled week, Tess is on top of the world.

But lusty paradise is shattered.

Kidnapped. Drugged. Stolen. Tess is forced into a world full of darkness and terror.

Captive and alone with no savior, no lover, no faith, no future, Tess evolves from terrified girl to fierce fighter. But no matter her strength, it can’t save her from the horror of being sold.

Can Brax find Tess before she’s broken and ruined, or will Tess’s new owner change her life forever?

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre – Dark New Adult Contemporary Romance

Rating – PG-18

More details about the author

Connect with Pepper Winters  on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.pepperwinters.wordpress.com/

 

Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

#AmReading - The English Girl by Daniel Silva @danielsilvabook

The English Girl by Daniel Silva

Amazon

Daniel Silva delivers another spectacular thriller starring Gabriel Allon, The English Girl. When a beautiful young British woman vanishes on the island of Corsica, a prime minister’s career is threatened with destruction. Allon, the wayward son of Israeli intelligence, is thrust into a game of shadows where nothing is what it seems...and where the only thing more dangerous than his enemies might be the truth…
Silva’s work has captured the imagination of millions worldwide; his #1 New York Times bestselling series which chronicles the adventures of art-restorer and master spy Gabriel Allon has earned the praise of readers and reviewers everywhere. This captivating new page-turner from the undisputed master of spy fiction is sure to thrill new and old fans alike.

Birth of an Assassin by Rik Stone @stone_rik

Chapter 5

For three weeks, Jez watched his peers leave for the front while his presence wasn’t even acknowledged by the sergeant. He had to face up to him, and find out why.

“Excuse me, Sergeant Sharansky.”

“Yes, private, come in.”

He bent as he pushed through the flaps and into the tent. “If I may, Sergeant, I’ll get straight to the point.” Sharansky sat back and nodded. “You seem to be of an opinion that I wouldn’t be of much use in the field. I’ve trained KooKooEh ever since I got here and…”

“And?” the sergeant broke in.

He stood further to attention. “Sergeant, I know this war is bitter and casualties high. I just don’t understand why my skills are not put to better use.”

“Oh – a tantrum. The boy isn’t getting his way.”

Rankled, Jez discarded caution. “It’s not like that, Sergeant, no, I…”

“All right… all right,” the sergeant conceded, and lifted a hand to silence him. “We’ve received information of a rooftop party for a group of significant conservative officers. I’ve looked at your records. Seems you can shoot, but you’ve never killed. Do you think you can go the distance?”

Had Sharansky waited for him to make this approach?

“Yes, Sergeant, you’re right, I haven’t killed, but there has to be a first time for everyone. I’m ready, it won’t be a problem.”

“It’d better not be. Get your combat gear together and make sure you’re ready to travel at first light. Don’t worry about weapons, I’ll sort them out.”

Night still contested with day as Jez emerged. The KKE boy sat behind the wheel with Sergeant Sharansky next to him. It was so early that his mind hadn’t kicked in properly, or was it that he hadn’t clipped his belt buckle properly? Whichever, he got in a tangle and fell.

“Don’t worry,” the sergeant said, “you’re not late.” He turned to the driver. “Let’s go.”

Friendly enough, but Jez could’ve sworn he’d sniggered.

Then it got worse. The accelerator hit the metal before Jez had sat down, and he crashed over into the rear seat. This time the sergeant laughed for all he was worth.

“After the boy drops us, it’ll take him an hour to get to his KooKooEh comrades and let them know we’re on our way,” Sergeant Sharansky said. “We’ll have that hour and another three to get to our position and set up. Oh, one more thing: you’re Jez, I’m Viktor, and we’re without rank. You’re trained, so there’s no need to explain.”

“No, Sergeant, sorry, Viktor, but why the time limit?”

“We’ve arranged for KooKooEh to make a diversionary attack on a military village in the town’s suburbs. When their firepower can be heard we must be in position and ready to open fire.”

They hadn’t driven for long when the jeep left the main road in favor of dirt tracks and paths that wound along low gullies and high mountainsides. But now the boy drove tentatively and made sure the vehicle didn’t kick up dust. Eventually they stopped on a hillside and Jez pulled his rattled body from the jeep. A spattering of houses lay to the west, or at least he guessed they were houses: from that distance they looked no more than an anomaly in the terrain. Viktor took a bag from the jeep and the boy drove off without a word.

“Will there be opposition between here and the town, Viktor?”

“There’d better not be, or the mission is over. Until we’re ready to hit, low profile is the name of the game.”

They crept silently over sterile ground, and the nearer they got the more patrols they found to skirt around. When necessary they bellied out, slung the bag over the back of whoever’s turn it was to be mule, and crawled. When they reached the halfway mark, Jez was up on his feet and trotting crouched with the bag over his shoulder.

“You want me to take a turn with that bag?”

“No, it’s not a problem.”

The lifetime of physical training had paid dividends and his body thrived on the workout. But his mind was full of the task ahead: he would kill; that was why he’d trained so hard. It was a necessary step in his military evolution. Even so, sweat popped on his face – and it wasn’t through physical exertion.

They arrived on the town’s outskirts and nestled into a niche at the base of a hill. Viktor took two AK-47 submachine guns from the bag: a recently developed weapon created by a young unknown called Kalashnikov. Jez had trained with the rifle and liked its responses – accurate to 800 meters and still a kill shot at 1,500 meters. Viktor laid the guns side by side and dipped back into the bag. He took out enough ammunition to fill the magazines twice over.

“Load up, Jez. Then take off your trousers and shirt, and fasten the ammunition belt with the spare bullets in front of you.”

Jez relaxed and grinned. “We’re going to look a bit obvious if we walk into town like this.”

Viktor sighed. “We’re not quite finished,” he said. “Sling the gun over your back.”

Jez obeyed, and as Viktor pulled out sandals and a couple of hooded kaftans, the fog cleared.

“Get into these,” he said. “Reports say there are Arabs in the town, so we should go unnoticed.”

“And if we don’t?”

“Well, I don’t think the conservatives will lose any sleep over killing us slowly.”

“Right, Viktor.”

Reality sobered his thoughts – death was feasible.

“Noticing the AK-47 won’t be a problem as long as you don’t bend to pick anything up in town,” Viktor continued.

Jez held out the kaftan like a girl in a dress shop and nodded. “I could pass as an Arab without the kaftan. And you’re… well weathered.”

He watched Viktor pull the kaftan over his head. His muscular frame could have been a problem, but in the loose-fit garment he just looked fat. Jez grinned.

“What?”

“Nothing, Viktor, just thinking.”

They moved into side alleys of what Jez presumed was a typical mountain town: houses with dark adobe sun-dried brickwork, mainly flat-roofed but some slanted and tiled. Orange trees bore bitter fruit that had been left to over-ripen and wither. Their skins had already bleached to a pale shade of yellow, and the branches they hung from stretched over sandstone walls to reach for the shade of olive trees, whose aged trunks had bloated to more than a meter in width. These olives lined the street, proudly adorning the sidewalks. Their long, heavy branches provided shade for the passersby, while the white paint around the trunks gave guidance to night traffic.

On a main street, Jez watched donkeys pull rickety carts piled with firewood. Rusted old cars belched blue-black smoke so thick that it rasped the throat. An uncovered army truck chugged by, full of soldiers who looked over-heated as they leaned wearily on their rifles. Vehicles had parked on either side of the road, which slowed the traffic. A black chauffeur-driven convertible stopped just ahead with a military officer sat in the back seat, tapping a swagger stick on his forearm and staring straight ahead. His pompous expression raised the hackles on Jez’s neck. The blonde woman sitting next to him was just the opposite: she craned her neck in every direction and showed interest in all she looked at.

They turned off into a side alley and Jez was glad to leave the mayhem behind; but within a couple of meters he found himself pressed against a wall to let a heavily-laden donkey pass. The large wooden cases that flanked the animal looked over-burdening, but it never faltered. A woman led the beast from the front and stared directly at Jez. Her tanned and shrunken face seemed to admonish him, but then he realized she wasn’t looking at him, but through him.

After several alleyways into town they came to an open plaza where Arab vendors manned vegetable stalls. On the opposite side of the square a number of conservative soldiers hung around, smoking, talking.

“Take my hand, Jez,” Viktor ordered.

“What?”

“Just do it,” he said with resignation.

Jez took the sergeant’s hand and they walked diagonally across the square. Viktor clung to him and chatted in Greek – or whatever language it was; it all sounded Greek to Jez. They bumped and pushed their way through a throng of people who eagerly cleared their goods in readiness for an evening of freedom.

Halfway across the plaza, anxiety tingled over Jez’s skin as he brushed against a man. Perfumed and smartly dressed, he looked how a key official might. The stock of Jez’s AK had clipped the man’s arm, not hard, but enough for him to reach up and rub it. With face contorted, he stared at Jez in puzzlement, probably wondering how someone so much smaller than him could cause such pain with a minor bump.

Jez brought his hands together and bowed remorsefully. “I’m sorry, sir,” he said, using the only Arabic he knew.

“Yes, sir,” Viktor added, “I’m sorry too. This is an idiot boy and I don’t know why I keep him.”

By the look on the man’s face, he hadn’t understood a word. Jez guessed that’s what Viktor thought too, which would be why he turned on Jez, swiped at his head, and pushed him across the square. He continued with the angry charade until they got nearer to the soldiers, he quieted, took Jez’s hand and returned to jabbering. They cleared the square and the handholding abruptly ended.

“That’s a relief,” Jez said. “I like you well enough, but not in that way.”

Viktor laughed warmly. “It’s not unusual for male Arab friends to hold hands. It doesn’t mean the same with them, and we need to blend in as much as possible.”

“Whatever you say.”

The sergeant shook his head and laughed as he took another swipe at Jez. His directions brought them to their first destination: a red sandstone house with off-white steps that led to a door on the first floor.

“Isn’t there someone here to meet us? You can’t just go in without knocking,” Jez said, as Viktor reached the top step and grabbed the door handle.

“Don’t worry, we have all the information we need, enough to get the job done. That way if we’re caught we can’t let anybody down.”

“What if the house is found after we’re done? Won’t that lead to our informant?”

“You ask too many questions. Me, I just get on with what I’m given. Truth is, I don’t know what cover has been set up. I only know what we have to do and how we have to do it.”

The windows were small, but inside was bright because a French door was positioned to catch sunbeams that reverberated on the stark white walls. A ladder to a trapdoor stood against a teak-colored ceiling beam. Jez slipped the kaftan off over his head and removed the rifle. “Oh,” he groaned, and stretched and arched his body. “I’m glad to get rid of that. When I bumped into that man, the gun moved and the stock was stuck between my shoulders.”

“Ah, such a sensitive little button,” Viktor baited.

Jez nearly rose to defend his words until he realized he was being sent up. They sat in underwear, tucking into the Feta cheese and bread that had been left out on the table.

“Right, Jez,” Viktor said, and wiped his mouth with the back of his wrist. “We have a good hour before the fireworks begin. According to my information there are a good few rooftops to cross before reaching our position and it’ll be easier to get there while it’s light, so we should make a start right away.”

“That’s not a problem, but do we go in under-shorts and vest? Not a very dignified way to die if we’re caught.”

“Don’t worry about that, there’s no such thing as dignified dying – just dying.”

Maybe, but Jez would prefer it if he had a bit more on than a pair of underpants.

Birth of an Assassin

Set against the backdrop of Soviet, post-war Russia, Birth of an Assassin follows the transformation of Jez Kornfeld from wide-eyed recruit to avenging outlaw. Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution and institutionalized corruption, the elite Jewish soldier is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.

Buy Now @ Amazon, B&N, Kobo & Waterstones

Genre - Thriller, Crime, Suspense

Rating – R

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Connect with Rik Stone on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://rik-stone.simdif.com

Author Interview – Michele Kimbrough @Madambition

Image of Michele Kimbrough
Do you find the time to read?
Yes. It helps me write better.
Last book you purchased? Tell us about it.
The Tutor. A Thriller. It was one of those books I couldn’t put down. The star of the story was a nine year old girl who loved reading Sherlock Holmes mysteries. She was a superstar!
Who do you admire?
There are lots of people I admire. Well, it’s their public persona that I admire (since I don’t know them personally). Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, Maria Shriver, Gloria Steinem
What is your favorite quality about yourself?
I understand that I have a choice.
What is your least favorite quality about yourself?
I can be impulsive. It’s landed me in a jam or two. But then I remember, I had a choice, I made a mistake, life goes on.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
Do what you can with what you have where you are. – T. Roosevelt. I love this quote because it says no matter where you are in your life, you are in a position to do something.  We tend to think in order to be useful, we have to do something on a grand scale. Sometimes, if all you have to offer is a smile, it will brighten somebody’s day.
What is your favorite food?
I love Indian food only second to Mexican food.  But hey, I’m a foodie (who hates to cook)!
What’s your favorite place in the entire world?
My living room.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
It allows me to tap into the emotions of the characters.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
Is there a genre for soap opera type of romance? That’s where I’m comfortable.
Prudence
Things aren’t always as they seem.
Attorney, Prudence Payne, seems to have it all: beauty, intelligence, love and a sure path to making partner with her law firm. The reality is her boyfriend, James, is unable to commit. She’s dealing with recently revealed family secrets and lies. And, she’s doing it all without her best friend who died a year ago.
Richard Mayweather is a single father raising two daughters. He’s been in love with Prudence since they were tweens, and now he thinks it’s time that she knows it. But when James decides to finally commit, is it too late for Richard? Or will Prudence realize, at last, that the love she’s always searched for has been right in front of her the whole time?
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Romance, Interracial
Rating – PG13
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Author Interview – Dermot Davis @dermotdavis1

What marketing works for you?

Unfortunately I have no idea. I’m still at the throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks stage of marketing. I’m going through a heck of a lot of spaghetti if your next question is “how’s it going, so far?”

Do you find it hard to share your work?

Absolutely. It was a big shock to me to discover that I actually get very terrified when I put out a new work. I think there’s some part of me that is afraid that people will laugh at me or worse, maybe form a posse and one night knock on my door or stage an intervention with a request for help me stop deluding myself into thinking that I’m a writer of any value. Is that the doorbell?

Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you?

Yes and yes. Although I do notice that the more books I put out, the less enthusiasm there is among them compared to the champagne-popping excitement of the first, which is only natural, I guess. I may have to wake them up when book number four gets released.

Do you plan to publish more books?

You couldn’t stop me, at this point. Writing and releasing a new book into the marketplace is about as intoxicating as it gets. At least until the first negative review gets posted and then I sober up and wonder what I’m doing with my life.

How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?

Writing in bed doesn’t work for me, nor writing in a coffee shop, either, for that matter. I do prefer to write at a desk as I find that it helps me concentrate better. I used always to write in longhand but soon got tired of typing it afterwards, as I seemed to be doing double the work and I honestly hate typing unless I’m composing something in my head. Having said that, there is something about writing in longhand that I noticed is different from typing. The more personal the project is, the more I will gravitate to longhand but if that’s the case I have to write with a fountain pen and absolutely not a ball point pen of any kind. Don’t know why that is.

How much sleep do you need to be your best?

I totally have to get a good eight hours sleep or I find it very hard to write, period. The fresher I am, the more the good ideas come and it’s usually fun. Writing when I’m feeling groggy gets reflected in the writing: it’s dull, unimaginative and sloppy. In that frame of mind I’ll usually read, edit or take a nap. I love taking naps at all times of the day and when I have my office on the studio lot, it will be in the contract that they supply a cozy sofa to nap on. So sue me.

Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you?

I’ve had wonderful success with my books so far but certainly not enough to live exclusively on my earnings. Doing so would be success on the level of having all my dreams coming true.

It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?

Well, I just threw another batch of spaghetti on the wall but nothing has stuck, so far. I’m open to suggestions.

What movie do you love to watch?

As a playwright, I love movies with clever and sparkling dialogue. Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet is a master class in dialogue writing. The Apartment, The Graduate, The African Queen, Treasure of The Sierra Madre, All About Eve, Harold and Maude… it’s a long list. I’ll watch Groundhog Day over and over again

How do you feel about social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter? Are they a good thing?

Millions of people swear by them but I’m a late bloomer. “Kicking and screaming” is probably how I would describe my exposure to them. Kicking and screaming…

If you could do any job in the world what would you do?

Write, write and, oh, yeah, write.

Zen & Sex

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Genre - Romance

Rating – PG13

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Connect with Dermot Davis on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads!

Website www.dermotdavis.com

#Bargain Sand Dollar: A Story of Undying Love by Sebastian Cole @sebastiancole3

sanddollar
Beverly Hills Book Award winner, USA Best Book Award finalist, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award bronze winner, International Book Award finalist, ForeWord Firsts debut literary competition finalist.
The story opens with Noah Hartman, eighty years old, lying on his deathbed recounting his life of love and loss to Josh, a compassionate orderly at the hospital. As Noah’s loved ones arrive one by one, they listen in on his story, and we’re transported back in time to Noah’s younger years.
Though outwardly seeming to have it all, Noah, now thirty-five, is actually an empty, lost, and broken man running on automatic pilot. He has no true identity due to having allowed his powerful, wealthy parents to manipulate, control, and brainwash him from a young age. With the threat of disinheritance and withholding love and approval if he doesn’t comply with the plan they have for his life, Noah is lured in by the reward of great wealth and the illusion of running the family business empire some day.
Enter Robin, twenty-five years old, who — in direct contrast to Noah — is a vivacious, free spirit. Full of life and always living in the moment, Robin’s love saves Noah by inspiring him to stand up to his parents and live his own life at all costs, reclaiming his true self.
They get married, and while snorkeling in the Caribbean, the captain of the boat warns them not to disturb anything in the sea. Ignoring the exhortation, Noah dives down and snags a sand dollar from the ocean floor, whereupon it explodes in his hand. With the fragile sand dollar taking on new significance, Robin inexplicably leaves Noah shortly after returning from their honeymoon. Like a passing breeze, she disappears out of his life without a trace, seemingly forever.
Years pass, and Noah still can’t get Robin out of his mind and out of his heart. After all, the one he loved the most would forever be the one who got away. That’s when he finds out about her hidden secret, the underlying condition responsible for her leaving. Noah has no choice but to move on with his life without her, meeting Sarah at the premiere of SAND DOLLAR, the movie he wrote about his time with Robin.
Years later, it’s Noah and Sarah’s wedding day, and Robin discovers a clue that Noah had surreptitiously inserted into the movie, inspiring her to race to the wedding to try to stop it. With the wedding in shambles, the scene jumps back to present day, with both Robin and Sarah placed in Noah’s hospital room. But which one did he choose?
As Noah wraps up his story, he discovers a far greater truth about the past, present, and future. Things are definitely not as they appear as the pieces of a shattered love are put back together in the remarkable final chapter of Noah’s life.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Romance
Rating – PG 13
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Indiestructible: Inspiring Stories from the Publishing Jungle @MsBessieBell

Tackling the Time Factor

by Jessica Bell

The biggest problem I had with deciding to go indie was the time factor.

With a stressful full-time job as a project manager for the Academic Research & Development department at Education First, it was difficult for me to see how I could possibly work, write, blog, edit, publish, market, run a literary journal, direct a writer’s retreat, and live my life all at once. It doesn’t help that I’m a bit of a stickler. I like to get everything done myself because I have a hard time waiting on others to do things I know I can get done more quickly and efficiently. I outsource if I really have to, but I do enjoy doing the work, such as designing covers, learning new skills and navigating social media. So when I say, DIY, I really mean DIY. Where on Earth, I wondered, would I find the time to be an editor for an educational publisher and literary magazine, an author, a typesetter, a designer, and a marketer? And what about walking the dog? Making dinner? Sleeping? (Forget the laundry. I have months of unfolded washed clothes in a heap on the couch that will soon need to go straight back into the machine from the dog rubbing herself all over them.)

The time factor is a logical fear. But once I finally made the decision to do this on my own, I realized that it wasn’t as daunting as it seemed. Do you know how much more you actually get done when you think something is impossible?

I don’t want to tell you how to schedule your day, but I’m going to give you a run down on how to approach this time management malarkey mentally. The key for me is not to focus on one thing all day. When you do this, you burn out. Your brain starts to lag from the monotony of the same information. You need to mix it up. If you mix it up, you get more done, because your mind is consistently stimulated with fresh information.

Let’s start with the actual writing of your books. Because this is what it all boils down to, yes? But first, I have to say, everyone is different. Everyone writes at different speeds, deals with stress in different ways, has different expectations of themselves. So you need to figure out what you want and works for you.

1. Stop thinking about what other people will think of your work. And write honestly. The first version of my debut novel was written for an audience. It was rejected again and again—for five years. And then, I found a small press who saw something in me and made an effort to get to know me. (Unfortunately that publisher liquidated only six months after its release, but that’s another story which you can read about here.) The publisher said my book was good, but that it felt like she was watching the characters through a window. She said: “Go deeper.” So I dug deeper and dragged the truth from my heart and soul. A truth I was afraid to admit was there. But it resulted in an honest book—a book I didn’t know I had in me. And one I hope women will be able to relate to. It’s glory-less, but real. And real steals hearts. What does this have to do with time management you ask? A lot. When you believe in your work, when you love your work, the words get written faster.

2. Focus on one paragraph at a time. I will never forget Anne Lamott’s advice from Bird by Bird (most accessible and nonsense-less book on writing I’ve ever read): write what you can see through a one-inch frame.

The reason I say this, is because knowing how much you have to revise can sometimes be daunting and overwhelming, and you might try to get through as much as possible and forget to focus your attention on the quality of your work. If you make each paragraph the best it can be before you move on, you won’t have to do any major rewrites (unless there’s a snag in your plot that you’ve overlooked and it’s related to a pertinent turning point). I’m talking revision here, not first draft.

3. Divide your writing time into short bursts. I find that if I give myself only one hour to write every morning before work, sometimes even shorter periods of time (especially when I accidentally sleep in), I’m forced to come up with things I wouldn’t normally think of.

The brain works in mysterious ways when it’s under pressure, and sometimes a little self-inflicted pressure can push you to great heights. Can you believe I wrote the first draft of The Book over a three-day long weekend? I did this because I experimented with the self-inflicted pressure idea. It worked. But be careful not to expect too much from yourself. There is nothing worse than becoming unmotivated due to not reaching personal goals. Which brings me to my fourth point ...

4. To start with, set your goals low. Set goals you know for a fact you can reach. If you set them too high, and continuously fail to meet them, you are going to feel really bad about yourself. This may result in neglecting your goals altogether. I know this from personal experience. If you later realize that you are meeting your goals with ease, gradually make them more challenging. But I strongly urge you to start small. It’s better for you, psychologically, to meet easy goals, than to struggle meeting difficult goals. Not achieving goals is a major hazard for self-esteem, motivation, and creativity.

So what about the rest?

Let’s see. These are the things I continuously have on the go that are not part of my day job or writing books, and I still find time to walk the dog and make dinner (sorry, the washing is still on the couch):

—Vine Leaves Literary Journal (reading submissions, sending rejection/acceptance letters, designing the magazine, promoting the magazine)

Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop (organizing the event and handling finances)

Typesetting, designing, and marketing my books (which includes, what seems, a never-ending thread of guest posts and interviews)

Blogging (including keeping up to speed with my weekly guest feature, The Artist Unleashed)

Maintaining my online presence (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc.)

I do all this stuff on top of the day job. On top of my writing. Because I do it all in scheduled, short bursts. I get up early to make sure I have one hour to write and one hour to do something else from the list above. I pick and choose depending on priority. During my lunch break, I blog and spend about half an hour to an hour (depends on how long I can take from work) on social media. After work, I walk the dog, make dinner, maybe go to yoga. Once that’s done, I’ll spend another hour or so doing something else from the list above. Then I have a shower, relax in front of the TV, or do something else away from the computer before I go to bed. Then in bed, I’ll read a chapter or two of the book on my bedside table. Reading to me is relaxing and not a chore.

So what have I accomplished in this average day of mine?

Here’s an example:

My job (at least 7 hours worth)

500-1000 words on my WIP

I read 30 Vine Leaves submissions and sent a few responses, maybe even set up a classified ad on NewPages.com.

I wrote/scheduled a blog post, commented on other blogs.

I connected with everyone I wanted to online. I may have worked on my latest book cover for a bit.

I made dinner.

I walked the dog.

I relaxed.

Look ... I’ll deal with those clothes tomorrow, okay?

I know people with kids who have just as much, and more, on their plate, and they’re still finding the time to self-publish. You can too.

My point is, it can all be done. And it doesn’t have to freak you out, or overwhelm you. Just pace yourself. And if you don’t have a full-time job like me, imagine how much more you can get done.

Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.

Nothing is impossible if you truly want it.

Nothing is impossible. Full stop.

Bio:

If Jessica Bell could choose only one creative mentor, she’d give the role to Euterpe, the Greek muse of music and lyrics. This is not only because she currently resides in Athens, Greece, but because of her life as a thirty-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, whose literary inspiration often stems from songs she’s written.

In addition to her novels, poetry collections, (one of which was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2012), and her Writing in a Nutshell series, she has published a variety of works in online and print literary journals and anthologies, including Australia’s Cordite Review, and the anthologies 100 STORIES FOR QUEENSLAND and FROM STAGE DOOR SHADOWS, both released through Australia’s, eMergent Publishing.

Jessica is the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and annually runs the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca. She makes a living as a writer/editor for English Language Teaching Publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, MacMillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

Keep an eye out for her forthcoming novel, BITTER LIKE ORANGE PEEL, slated for release, November 1, 2013.

indiestructible

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Genre –  Non-fiction

Rating – G

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Connect with Jessica Bell on FacebookTwitter

Blog http://thealliterativeallomorph.blogspot.com/

Author Interview – Eleni Papanou @elenipapanou

If you could study any subject at university what would you pick?

Physics, which I would’ve done had I been mathematically inclined. At least I can vicariously become one through a character that I’m now building.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Paros, Greece. I just started plotting another novel that takes place there.

How do you write,“ lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?

A little of everything. I have a laptop at home and a notebook and digital recorder when I’m on the go.

Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support?

My husband, daughters and mother, along with Jodine Turner, Saleena Karim, Margaret Duarte and Sandy Nathan from the Visionary Fiction Alliance.

Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you?

If people appreciate my book and have a positive experience while reading it, I’ll know I’ve done my job well.

Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it.

Jessie’s Song had gone through many incarnations. I wrote it for a screenwriting class I was taking at the time. In the first draft, the protagonist was a hit man who then evolved to a police officer. I did this to lighten the theme that dealt with child sexual abuse. It didn’t help. I later changed the protagonist to Markos Adams, a jazz musician, but I still thought the sexual abuse theme was too dark for the type of story I was trying to tell. I put the screenplay aside thinking that was the end of it.

After I’d written my first book, Unison, my mind returned to Jessie’s Song. Something about it was calling out to me. The theme and characters wouldn’t let me give up. I removed the sexual abuse thread and when I found a new motivation behind the antagonist, the story took off. I’m now a finalist in the for this story, and  I’m  going to turn it into a series. I’m so glad I stuck with it.  This is one of those instants where I’ll say that if you have a good concept, keep working on it until you get it right.

EleniPapanou

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Genre - Paranormal Mystery

Rating – PG13

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Connect with Eleni Papanou on Facebook & Twitter & LinkedIn

Blog http://elenipapanou.com/

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Rachel Hanna @RachelHannaBook

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Rachel Hanna

by: Rachel Hanna

1. I love dogs. I have two dogs now, but I can’t imagine ever living without dogs in the house. If I had land, I’d probably be taking in stray animals all the time. My family calls me Dr. Doolittle because I seem to attract all kinds of strange animals to our house!

2. I’ve never lived anywhere else but the state of Georgia. While I love Georgia and many of my stories are situated here, I would love to live closer to a beach somewhere!

3. I hate spiders! I think anything that has that many legs shouldn’t exist, except maybe octopuses. Any kind of spider, big or small, will send me screeching out of the room.

4. As a child, I loved to write stories but also poetry. I won many poetry contests all throughout elementary school and middle school, but then I gave it up for some reason. I haven’t written poetry since I was probably in early high school.

5. One of my hobbies is selling items on eBay. In fact, I am in eBay Powerseller which means that I used to make a very substantial income when I did it part time. I don’t have as much time for it these days, I still enjoy going to garage sales and thrift stores looking for that treasure.

6. My favorite movie in the world is Gone With The Wind. I have loved it since I was forced to watch it in history class in the eighth grade. My room was always decorated with memorabilia, bedroom door. Even now, I watch the movie when it’s on. Strangely enough, I’ve never read the book!

7. I hate seafood and fish. I won’t eat any kind of seafood at all. For some reason, the smell and the texture just grosses me out. I’ve tried so many times over the years to like fish, but I just can’t do it. The only exception might be canned tuna fish, but even that bothers me sometimes.

8. One time, I had to beat up a girl in the woods at the park. These girls tried to attack me, my friend and her little sister when we were only in elementary school. We were simply walking a nature trail when these teenage girls came out of the woods. That’s the first and only time I’ve had to fight in my life. As soon as I got a chance, I grabbed my friend’s little sister and ran out of the woods.

9. We homeschool all three of our children and have since our oldest was in kindergarten.

10.I was a sports reporter in college. That meant that part of my job was to go into the locker room and interview players. I’m not talking about college players, but professional ones. I was in and out of locker rooms for famous football, baseball and hockey teams. I was the only woman at the time in the locker room, so it always made for an interesting time! Let’s just say that when a woman is in the locker room, the boys tend to show off and walk around wearing very little clothing. :)

Ruined 

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Genre - New  Adult Romance

Rating – R

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Website http://rachelhannaromance.com/

Gringa – A Love Story (Complete Series books 1-4) by Eve Rabi @EveRabi1

It’s almost dinner time so I get ready. My dress is scarlet, short, strappy and figure-hugging, my heels are sling-back stilettos, my lipstick is porn-star red. I look in the mirror and smile. Then I kiss the mirror and say, ‘You’re smoking, Delilah!’ Finally I’m confident enough to face everyone at the dinner table.

Five minutes later, I yank off my dress, kick off my heels and hurriedly wipe off my lipstick. ‘You look like a tart!’ I say to myself, my confidence shaky again.

In just my bra and panties I sit on my bed and ruin a good manicure with my teeth. This is so not me. But then I remember the FBI, the freedom of the villagers, my grandchildren and its back to my slutty dress, my hooker heels and my porn-star lip gloss.

I’m late for dinner so I hurry along. They better notice. Diablo better notice – these stilettos are pinching my toes. How the hell does Paris walk in six inch heels with such ease?

The moment I enter the dining room, conversation ceases. Diablo slowly rises to his feet, mouth agape.

Easier than I thought. Suppressing a smile, I take my seat.

Everyone is staring. I’m somewhat pleased. Embarrassed, but secretly thrilled. I’ve never been able to bring conversation to a halt before.

Christa eyes me, a fixed smile to her garnet lips. ‘Gringa is looking very … different today,’ she scoffs, her eyes sweeping over me.

Bitchface is talking to me? I didn’t know we are on speaking terms again after she whipped my ass and incapacitated me for three weeks. And how come Diablo has just forgiven her like that? I got a good mind to break her other leg with my stilettos.

‘Why? You going to a ball or something, eh gringa?’

Lots of laughter around the table. Santana’s laugh dominates.

Suddenly, I feel like an idiot and I resist the urge to run back to my room.

Using my middle finger (A move I learnt from Paris) I slowly move my hair aside from my heavily made up face and smile sweetly. Usually, I’d use my middle finger differently.

‘I sure am,’ I say, in what I hope is a Marilyn Monroe voice – you know – soft, breathy. ‘And …’ I look at Diablo from under my lashes, ‘I’m taking Diablo with me, so don’t wait up, ’cos we may be late.’

‘Oooooh!’ the men chorus, while Christa slams back in her chair, a granite look in her eyes. Bet that’s not the response she expected?

Santana picks at the table with her steak knife.

Diablo raises both his bushy eyebrows but does not smile or join in the chorus.

I hold his gaze and tilt my head to one side. He gives me the slightest of nods and spends the rest of the evening ogling me, pissing off Santana and Christa.

I ignore their barbs and focus on my target.

Link to Gringa:

http://www.amazon.com/Gringa-Modern-day-Love-Story-ebook/dp/B005CQBCJA\

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BOOK BLURB:

I was twenty-one, a sassy college student who took crap from no one. While holidaying in Mexico, I was accosted by The Devil of Mexico called Diablo and shot, because the s.o.b. mistook me for a spy.
I survived, only to encounter him again months later. How’s that for luck?
Furious and sick of all that I’d been through because of him, I slapped him, told him to go to hell and braced myself for the bullet. He could shoot me – I no longer cared.
But, to my surprise, he became fascinated with me and blackmailed me into becoming his woman. He’d slay the entire village that sheltered me, if I rejected his proposal.
He was Kong, hairy, tattooed from fingertips to face, with scary ass piercings, blood-shot snake eyes, a ruthless killer and above all, he was my murderer – how could anyone expect me to say yes?
To save the village I had to.
He took me by force, terrorized me into submission and made me his. To make matters worse, I had to put up with his ruthless, backstabbing family who hated me and wanted to kill me.
I despised the bastard and I told him that. Spark flew. Fists too.
But, the more I rejected Diablo, the more he wanted me.
At times he wanted to kill me because of my insolence, but other times he just wanted me to love him.
I was his Gringa and in an attempt to get my love, he began to change for me. Drastic changes that made me laugh at him at first, then made me curious.
As the days went by, I found myself drawn to him and I began seeing him differently. When I found out about his past, everything changed.

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Where to find Eve Rabi online

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Website: http://everabi.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/eve.rabi

Blog: http://everabi.wordpress.com/

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/everabiauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EveRabi1

LOVE STORIES BY EVE RABI

Deception – A Palace Full of Liars – Book 1

Deception – A Palace Full of Liars – Book 2

Burn’s World – Book 1

Burn’s World – Book 2

Burn’s World – Book 3

Burn’s World – Book 4

CAPTURED – My Sworn Enemy, My Secret Lover – Book 1

CAPTURED – My Sworn Enemy, My Secret Lover – Book 2

Gringa – A Love Story Book 1

Gringa – A Love Story Book 2

Gringa – A Love Story Book 3

Gringa – A Love Story Book 4

THE CHEAT – A Tale of Lies and Infidelity – Book 1

THE CHEAT – A Tale of Lies and Infidelity – Book 2

You Will Pay – For Leaving Me (This book is free to Eve Rabi Fans)

Obsessed with me –Book 1

Obsessed with me –Book 2

Betrayed – He’d get his Girl at Any Cost

My Brother, My Rival (Book 1)

My Brother, My Rival (Book 2)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Breathing for Two by Wolf Pascoe @WolfPascoe

ONE
BREATHING LESSONS
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IN the freshman year of my anesthesia residency, I was given a lesson in breathing by a patient whom I’ll call Otto. Anesthesia residencies come replete with breathing lessons, but Otto was also teaching humility that day, a subject absent from the formal anesthesia curriculum.
A doctor gets humility not from curricula but from his patients. I acquired a truckload of humility the day I met Otto, and the truck has only gotten larger since.
Otto was undergoing a cystoscopy, a look inside the bladder performed by passing a thin viewing scope through the urethra. There is no incision in such a procedure.
Generally, you don’t need anything fancy to support a patient’s breathing while giving anesthesia during a cystoscopy. As the patient passes from wakefulness into unconsciousness you can let him continue to breathe for himself.
In Otto’s case, I strapped a rubber anesthesia mask over his mouth and nose to make an airtight seal against his skin, and delivered through the mask an appropriate combination of oxygen and anesthetic gas. In principle, what I did was essentially what the Boston dentist, William Thomas Green Morton, had done during the first public demonstration of ether anesthesia in 1846.
The modern anesthesia face mask is a hollow cone of rubber or plastic. It’s like the oxygen mask that drops down from above a passenger’s head on an airplane, though it’s more substantially built. The base is malleable and cushioned by a ring of air, a sort of inner tube. The mask is shaped to fit around the nose and mouth; with a bit of pressure, it seals against the skin. The top of the mask connects to a source of anesthetic vapor and oxygen.
Readers of a certain age may remember the TV series, Marcus Welby, M.D., which began each week with Dr. Welby lowering a black anesthesia mask down over the camera lens. In those days, apparently, the family doctor did everything.
The anesthesia machine—the “cascade of glass columns, porcelain knobs and metal conduits” I described previously—is the gas delivery system. The machine connects to an oxygen tank and directs the flow of oxygen from the tank through a vaporizer where the oxygen mixes with anesthesia gas. The mixture passes out of the machine through plastic tubing (“anesthesia hose”) that connects to the face mask.
The patient breathes the mixture.
Gas leaving the anesthesia machine actually flows through the anesthesia tubing in a circle—in fact it’s called the circle system. One limb of the circle travels from the machine to the anesthesia mask, where the patient inhales it. The other limb, carrying exhaled gas, travels from the mask back to the machine, where excess carbon dioxide from the patient is filtered out. The filtered gas is mixed with fresh gas and travels back to the patient.
The same gases, minus the carbon dioxide, keep going round and round. The system is airtight, except for a pop-off valve that relieves excess pressure.
Otto was a large man with a thickly muscled neck, but by extending his head I could keep his airway clear, allowing him to continue breathing while the urologist worked. Instead of using an anesthesia mask to deliver my mix of gases, I could have assured Otto’s airway by using an endotracheal tube. This is a long breathing tube (about a centimeter in diameter) inserted through the mouth all the way into the trachea.
But getting an endotracheal tube in isn’t always easy, and it’s usually not necessary during a cystoscopy. Most often an anesthesia mask will do.
One side effect of anesthesia is the loss of normal muscle tone. This happened to Otto. A few minutes into the case, his flaccid tongue fell back in his throat. His diaphragm continued to contract, but air couldn’t get through to the lungs—his airway was obstructed. Otto was, of course, completely unconscious at this point.
Everyone loses some muscle tone during sleep—this is the cause of snoring, and of the more serious condition of sleep apnea. But the loss of tone is even greater under anesthesia, and the anesthetized patient cannot rouse herself to find a better breathing position.
I managed the problem by putting a short plastic tube called an airway into Otto’s mouth. The airway depressed the tongue and cleared a passage for air. It wasn’t as good as an endotracheal tube, which would have extended all the way into Otto’s trachea, but it seemed to do the trick.
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Genre – Non-fiction / Memoir
Rating – G
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6 KEYS TO BECOMING A GREAT WRITER – Colin Falconer @colin_falconer

FROM AUNTY IVY TO KHUBILAI KHAN

Colin Falconer

(Isabella- Braveheart of France)

My primary school teacher’s name was Mrs Boyne.

She once told my mother at a parent interview: “Your son is a complete dreamer. He’ll never amount to anything in this life.”

I still think that was a harsh judgment on a seven year old. But she was right, of course, I was a dreamer.

It was my greatest asset.

It was about the time I first read Jules Verne’s Michael Strogoff. To get my hands on it, I had to endure a slobbery wet kiss from my Aunty Ivy, but I considered it well worth it.

By the end of that first afternoon, I was hooked on classic literature.

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Every week my Aunty Ivy took the train down from London to visit with us in (what was then) rural Essex, to have ‘a nice cup of tea’ with my mother. She brought with her a collection of Classics Illustrated comics. She must have picked them up in the markets in London.

There were some Beanos and Victors mixed in, but I threw them out. My treasure was the cartoon versions of some of the world’s greatest literature.

I read all of Jules Verne in an afternoon.

And so began my love affair with literature. By the time I was eight I had read Moby Dick, Doctor Jekyl and Mister Hyde, The Moonstone, The Black Tulip and Ivanhoe, was familiar with most of the major works of Alexandre Dumas (Père), Mark Twain and William Wilkie Collins and had even read most of Homer’s Odyssey (although I never found out how it ended because the last page had been ripped out.)

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I don’t think that back then Aunty Ivy knew she was giving me primers for my future career, for no one in my family had ever used their hands for doing anything other than making pies or fixing corner cupboards.

But those comic books were vital to me. I was an only child and though not particularly bookish – I was then, and still am, a soccer tragic – it nurtured in me a thirst for great stories painted on broad canvas.

So Aunty Ivy did not just give me the gift of something to read when it was raining too hard to play football.

Classics Illustrated stirred my nascent imagination and at the same time gave me an undying thirst for travel and for adventure.

These little gems of comics also made me want to time travel, because many of the places I was reading about no longer existed.

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The only way I could revisit them was to recreate them in my head. Imagining them onto a page was the next logical step.

When I left school the first thing I did, to the consternation of both my parents, was to go hitch-hiking around Europe.

After all, why go to university? I’d read The Iliad and everything Shakespeare ever wrote by the time I was eight.

What could there possibly be left to learn?

After Europe I headed down to Morocco, where me and my mate were the only white faces (then) wandering the Djema El-fna’a, the Place of the Dead, in Marrakech.

Not too long after that I found myself in the middle of a typhoon in the South Java Sea, and wandering the Golden Triangle of Burma, shaking hands with CIA agents and drug smugglers. Every one of those experiences led to a book a few years later.

If I’m lucky, one day they’ll make one of my books into a comic.

But for now, I just want to say thank you, Aunty Ivy and Classics Illustrated. And wherever she is in heaven, I hope the angels are making her a nice cup of tea.

Isabella

She was taught to obey. Now she has learned to rebel.

12 year old Isabella, a French princess marries the King of England – only to discover he has a terrible secret. Ten long years later she is in utter despair – does she submit to a lifetime of solitude and a spiritual death – or seize her destiny and take the throne of England for herself?

Isabella is just twelve years old when she marries Edward II of England. For the young princess it is love at first sight – but Edward has a terrible secret that threatens to tear their marriage – and England apart.

Who is Piers Gaveston – and why is his presence in the king’s court about to plunge England into civil war?

The young queen believes in the love songs of the troubadours and her own exalted destiny – but she finds reality very different. As she grows to a woman in the deadly maelstrom of Edward’s court, she must decide between her husband, her children, even her life – and one breath-taking gamble that will change the course of history.

This is the story of Isabella, the only woman ever to invade England – and win.

In the tradition of Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick, ISABELLA is thoroughly researched and fast paced, the little known story of the one invasion the English never talk about.

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Genre – Historical Fiction

Rating – PG-13

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Connect with Colin Falconer on Facebook & Twitter

Website https://colinfalconer.wordpress.com/

Monday, November 25, 2013

Author Interview – Zarug Thane @ZarugThane

What part of modern society do you like the best?

Running water.  Incandescent lights come in a close second.  If you’ve ever tried to read by candlelight or torch light, you know that I’m talking about.  The gods only know how many people went blind from doing that.  But if I had to choose, I’d take the running water.  Living in a world of chamber pots is dehumanizing.  I don’t even like thinking about it.

What environment do you prefer to write in?

I work by artificial light, usually with some wordless music playing in the background, more as white noise, though I prefer music you could actually listen to, so that when I pull up out of a zone, the music isn’t just mindless, repetitive crap.  My neighbors all think I’m a vampire, because I’ve got all the windows blacked out.  I make it a point to collect the mail while the sun is still up, just to avoid trouble.

I don’t like any external noise or distractions.  People who can write in a Starbucks are just sick.

Do you have any advice for writers of speculative fiction?

Consume copious amounts of psychedelic drugs, then immerse yourself in demonic texts.  The Necronomicon, certainly, but also Daniel, Revelation, and some of the newer prophets –  the White album, the Left Behind series, Stephen King….  You people are far too repressed and literal minded.  Science has blinded you to the supernatural.

Did you find it difficult to adjust your writing style to modern tastes?

The only difficulty, really, was keeping my writing out of the hands of others while I was still a child.  I wrote in Phoenician at first, but as with any language, word order and syntax are different, so eventually I was forced to switch.

Unfortunately, one day my fourth grade teacher stuck her nose where it didn’t belong, reading one of my notebooks, where I dramatized the Old Testament passage, “You must wait thirty days before you go into the captured virgin for the first time.”

Being under psychiatric observation was tedious, but it meant I could write whatever I wanted in the guise of “therapy.”  Modern medicine can be quite wonderful at times!

Do you have any suggestions for writers facing writer’s block?

I always begin by praying to Thoth.  He’s Egyptian, but he’s not bigoted in any way.

Beyond that, it depends.  If I’m not sure what should happen next in a story, it usually means the conflict isn’t intense or immediate enough.  Or it might mean that my character lacks a strong enough motivation, goal, or drive.  In either case, the solution really requires fixing what has already been written, more than writing something new.

If you’ve set up a conundrum and then discover you don’t know how to resolve it, that’s actually a wonderful problem, provided you’re not on a deadline.  It means you’ve really challenged yourself and your protagonist.

To resolve that sort of problem, you pick a solution that you know won’t work, and you write it out and force it to work.  Then, you try a different solution that you know won’t work, and you write that out….  This is how you prime your subconscious to give you the one solution that will work.  Usually, it seems obvious once you see it.

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Genre - Erotic Fantasy

Rating – NC17

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Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.

Tempted: The Dark Hart Chronicles (Book 1) by Alexandra Anthony

Fighting to keep my voice level, I spoke softly.  "Dad, do you think Elliott would screw me over?"

A brief silence greeted me before he answered.  "Of course not, Savannah.  Give Siobhan my best."

"I will.  Thanks for calling, Dad.  I mean it.

"Goodbye, dear."

I hung up and dialed Siobhan next.

"Hey, Blondie."

"Von, you know I hate that nickname," I groaned.  "Guess who I just met?"

"Hmmm..." Siobhan hummed.  I could hear her fingernails tapping on her desk.  "I give.  Who?"

Smiling smugly, I checked my rear view mirror.  "Nick Hart."

"Nick Hart? The Nick Hart? The same one that was eye fucking you across the room last night?"

"Yep.  Your Dad called me last night and had me come into interview for a PA job.  I didn't know who the client was until today." I made a sharp right turn into my driveway.  I let the car idle while I finished my phone call.

"Girl, what time are we meeting tonight? I have to hear the entire story."

It was nearly 4 pm now.  I'd like to unwind before running out to start gossiping with Siobhan.  "How about 8?"

"Works for me," Siobhan agreed.  "Savannah, promise me one thing right now."

I knew where this was going before she asked but indulged her anyway.  "How long have we known each other? You know I don't promise anything."

"Whatever, Blondie.  Promise me if you get the chance you'll bang him like a screen door in a hurricane.  And I want all the torrid details!"

I quickly cut her off.  "Goodbye, Von!"

I'd tucked my phone away when I started laughing hysterically.  I'd never tell Siobhan that I'd already imagined doing that very thing.  It was unfortunate that he was my employer and it would never happen.  I'd have to stay focused or I'd never get any work done with Nick's charm and unabashed sex appeal.

Leave it to me to go from one extreme to the other.  I go from working for a disgusting drug addict to an irresistible, sexy beast.

It figures.  I've always had impeccably horrible timing.

Tempted

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Genre – Erotica

Rating – R

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Website http://www.alexandra-anthony.com/

Sunday, November 24, 2013

#AmReading - Family Pieces by Misa Rush @MisaRush

Family Pieces by Misa Rush

Amazon

Karsen Woods’s life seems charmed, from her hunkalicious boyfriend to her picture-perfect midwestern roots. Away at college, even the necklace she wears serves as a constant connection home - a family tradition created when her grandfather handmade each immediate relative an interlinking charm. Each piece crafted in the shape of a puzzle piece, each one interlinking perfectly together. But when the unexpected death of her mother turns her world upside down, she discovers there is a missing piece of her treasured family tradition, and her life as she once knew it may never be the same.
Addison Reynolds resides in her posh Manhattan condominium and wraps her personal identity around running Urbane, the magazine empire built by her father. In a moment of haste, Addison divulges her deepest secret to her closest friend Emily – a secret she never intended to disclose.
Could one choice, one secret, bond two unlikely women forever?
FAMILY PIECES is a heartwarming debut novel that will have you laughing, crying, calling your mother, hugging your family and staying up past your bedtime.

The Howling Heart by April Bostic

* * * *

Three days after my father’s funeral, I landed at the airport in Denver. I rented a Jeep Wrangler, because I needed a four-wheel-drive vehicle to get up the mountain. The July weather was mild, so I wore khaki shorts, a plain white tee, and beige Vans sneakers.

One of the odd things about finding our cabin was you had to find the nearby town first. I remembered we got lost during our vacation, which caused an argument between my parents. Finding the road that led to the town was tricky, because there was only one accessible by vehicle, and there was no road sign. My father knew how to get there, because the person who sold him the cabin gave him a landmark. Luckily, he passed that information onto me during one of our conversations. Once you found the road, the town was so small that if you blinked, you’d drive right by it. When my mother said it was remote, she wasn’t being facetious.

I drove on the interstate for over an hour before I realized I missed my turn. I had to find a tree shaped like a wishbone—it was struck by lightning — but all the trees looked alike to me. It took another half-hour for me to turn around and make another attempt.

I found my landmark, but a tangle of fallen branches blocked the entrance. My hands gripped the steering wheel. I knew I was in for a bumpy ride. I floored the accelerator, and the Jeep broke through the roadblock. The road was narrow, and the terrain was rough. Whoever constructed it didn’t want people to travel on it. I screamed when tree branches appeared out of nowhere and banged against the windshield. The forest surrounded me on both sides, and I wondered if I’d ever reach the town.

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Genre – Paranormal Romance

Rating – Adult

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Website http://www.aprilbostic.com/

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Inspiration from Places – Rayne Hall @RayneHall

Inspiration from Places

Rayne Hall

“Where do you find your ideas?” people often ask me.

The truth is, I don’t find ideas. Ideas find me.

Like ghosts, they seek me out, haunt me, and don’t let go until the story is written.

My mind is like a revolving drum filled with hundreds of jigsaw pieces, each representing a story idea. Sometimes two or more pieces click together, and that’s when a story takes shape.

The location is often among the first jigsaw pieces to click. The setting lends atmosphere and determines the flavour of the story. Some of the places in my stories are real, others exist only in my imagination, while yet others are a blend of the real and the imagined.

Many of the stories in Thirty Scary Tales are inspired by the places where I have lived and travelled in Britain. I live in a small dilapidated town of former Victorian grandeur on the south coast of England, and if you know the region, you may recognise the landscapes that inspired some of the tales.

The southeast of England has many village churches from the Norman period and the Middle Ages, many of them in isolated locations, often surrounded by tilting, lichen-encrusted gravestones. To research Take Me To St. Roch’s I spent a night in one of those old cemeteries, taking notes about every flickering shadow and every creepy noise. I jotted down how the wooden gate creaked on unoiled hinges, how the gravel crunched under my steps, and how the twigs of the trees beckoned like skeleton fingers, withered and pale.

Locals know what a menace herring gulls can be, but well-meaning tourists always feed them leftovers from their fish&chips takeaway, and this encourages the birds to even more aggression. Like daring highwaymen, they swoop and rob anyone holding food. I live in a top floor flat near the seafront. Every morning, seagulls hammer their beaks on my windows as if trying to break the glass. Watching them gave me the idea for the Seagulls story.

Never Leave Me was the first horror story I ever wrote, a long time ago. Inspiration came from reading about the archaeological discovery of the mummified “Druid Prince” and from a visit to the wind-swept Yorkshire Moors.

When the tide is out, it’s possible to walk on the seabed below the chalk cliffs, across black boulders and rust-coloured shingle. The air smells of salt and seaweed. Waves swish and slurp across the shingle, and in the distance, seagulls squawk. On one side, the sea glints like a diamond-studded sheet, on the other, the steep cliffs tower like unassailable fortress walls, a sublime sight. But woe when the tide comes rolling in while you’re still on the seabed! With no accessible path for miles, you’ll be trapped between the rock face and the smashing waves. In Double Rainbows, I imagined this scenario. What happens if you realise you got the time wrong?

The ferocious force of wind and waves sometimes erodes the cliffs and breaks off whole sections. The first time I walked below Fairlight Cliffs, the sight made my throat constrict. A large chunk of the cliff had recently fallen, leaving houses half destroyed, half standing. From below, I could see the inside of living rooms and kitchens, still furnished, as if any moment the inhabitants would enter. For years, the sight haunted me, but I could not come up with a story. Then St Leonards Writers decided to write stories about a local area, the so-called America Ground. Around the same time, I revisited Hastings Castle, which was partially destroyed during a violent storm 1287 when part of the cliff on which it stood fell. The three places – Fairlight, Hastings Castle, America Ground – clicked together, and I placed my story Scruples during the 1287 storm.

I had long mulled over a ghost story idea, but could not bring it to life until the plot clicked with several places from my memory. I recalled the railway tunnel next to the station where I used to wait after school for the train home, its entrance gaping like a black, hungry mouth. This combined with memories of travels in Wales, of steep slopes, grey slate houses, and drizzling rain. The story Through the Tunnel is the result.

The Devil You Know started with the memory of a night I spent as a young woman on a platform at Richmond station, waiting for the morning train to take me home, trying to sleep while the cold from the metal bench seeped through my thin dress. I kept the bench but moved it to an imaginary railway station on the Kent-Sussex border. Many of the small railway stations these days are unstaffed most of the time, with the waiting rooms and toilets locked, and the help points are often out of order.

Many years ago, I joined a group of divers for a holiday in Dorset. I couldn’t dive – I still can’t – but I listened to them as they talked about their plans for the day, and discussed the adventures at the evening campfire. I wondered if a wreck could be haunted, and what would be the worst thing that could go wrong on a dive. The divers were eager to help me with their know-how. The resulting story was I Dived the Pandora, which has been published in several versions. The current version is set in Sussex.

The main idea for Four Bony Hands haunted me for many years. What if the events in a certain fairytale didn’t happen quite the way everyone believes? After several abandoned attempts, another jigsaw piece clicked: the place was a cosy interior, heated by a big oven, providing shelter from the cold weather, refuge from persecution, and sanctuary from evil. Although the story takes place indoors, you can imagine the pine and oak woods surrounding the cottage, snow-laden like the Scottish forests in winter.

Beltane was my entry for a contest where each writer has twenty-four hours to create a complete story about a given topic. The theme was something about a blind fruit vendor and a young female customer. It was the first of May – the date of the traditional Celtic Beltane festival – and fresh green leaves and white blooms covered the trees, so I decided to set the story in ancient England in Celtic times. What did the blind vendor know that the girl did not? The story didn’t win, but I liked it, and a year later I wrote a more polished version.

Stone circles hold a deep fascination for me, and there are many of them in Britain. I’ve visited many stone circles, from the big ones like Avebury and Stonehenge to the ones which are so small they’re hard to spot among the bracken, from the major tourist attractions to the unknown ones, accessible only after a long hike, climbing across stiles and squeezing through thorny brambles. My favourites are the stone circles of Cornwall: Tregeseal, Merry Maidens, Boscawen-Un and all the others. Sometimes I would reach an out-of-the way place and discover that a previous visitor had left an offering, such as a posy of wildflowers, which always delighted me. On one occasion, though, I was disconcerted to find the offering was the flattened, fire-parched body of a frog. Readers familiar with Cornwall will recognise the landscape in the story Druid Stones and may even guess which circle was the fictional inspiration for the Dredhek Stones.

Burning was one of the most difficult stories I’ve ever written, and I believe it’s one of my best. Several places combined in my mind to form the inspiration. The first was a house on fire in the neighbourhood. My father forced me to watch it burn, even though at the age of seven I was upset and terrified. The second was also a house that burned out. This time, I did not witness the inferno, but I heard afterwards that the Turkish family who lived there had not been able to get out. Their charred skeletons told how they had cowered in the corner as the flames devoured them, and the father had shielded his daughters with his own body for as long as he could. This moved me deeply, and then I heard someone say “They were only Turks. Good riddance to the vermin.”

Later, I learnt about the atrocities committed against Jews during the Nazi period. In the town of my birth, locals burnt the synagogue and then built a church on that spot. In a nearby town, the eager citizens went even further: they locked the Jewish population into the synagogue before they set it on fire. The fire brigade, instead of putting out the flames, fanned and fed them, and made sure none of the Jews could escape. Much later, after the al-Qaeda bombings in London, a wave of burning hatred against Arabs swept through England, and it frightened me. Burning houses, churches, racial hatred, hypocrisy, a scared child witnessing events she cannot understand… these elements clicked together into a disturbing tale of human evil.

The story Only a Fool started with a real incident. As a young woman, I lived in London. One night I walked home from the Tube station when a drunken man attacked me, and I was saved by my wits and vivid imagination. For the story, I added memories of the many places where I had been nervous to walk alone, the kind of alley where shattered windows wink in the sparse light and footsteps echo as loud as your thudding heart.

I enjoy evoking the atmosphere of a place with the senses of sound, touch and smell.

My stories involve little violence. They are horror, but not of the slash-and-gore type with chainsaw massacres and lakes of blood. My brand of horror is of the suspenseful, creepy kind. Where other horror writers shock their readers with graphically mangled corpses, I tantalise mine with with places that ooze creepy atmosphere.

Thirty Scary Tales

Thirty creepy, atmospheric stories by Rayne Hall.

The horror in these stories is spooky, creepy, unsettling and sometimes disturbing. It is not very violent or gory; however, the stories may not be suitable for young readers without parental guidance. PG 13.

This book is a compilation of volumes 1-5 of the Six Scary Tales books. It includes the acclaimed stories Burning and The Bridge Chamber.

All stories have been previously published in magazines, ezines, collections and anthologies. British English.

Stories in collection include:
The Devil You Know, Greywalker, Prophetess, Each Stone A Life, By Your Own Free Will, The Bridge Chamber, Only A Fool, Four Bony Hands, The Black Boar, Double Rainbows, Druid Stones, Burning, Scruples, Seagulls, Night Train, Through the Tunnel, Black Karma, Take Me To St. Roch’s, Turkish Night, Never Leave Me, The Colour of Dishonour, Beltane, The Painted Staircase, I Dived The Pandora, Terre Vert and Payne’s Grey, They Say, Tuppence Special, Disturbed Sleep, Normal Considering the Weather, Arete.

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Genre – Horror

Rating – PG-13

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Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.