Saturday, August 30, 2014

Robert Breeze on Family, Happiness & Writing @robertbreeze #AmWriting #AmReading #Fiction

1. Tell us a bit about your family. Mum, Dad and dog Winston live in Hereford, a small town near Wales. Brother James lives in London and I pop over to see him when I need a good roast dinner.
2. How do you work through self-doubts and fear? It’s a torturous process and one I’ve not found a solution to, other than working on something else/crying.
3. What scares you the most? I have recurring nightmares about ships and being back in an exam situation.
4. What makes you happiest? Writing with my dog at my feet.
5. What’s your greatest character strength? Work ethic.
6. What’s your weakest character trait? Obsessive about planning.
7. Why do you write? Sounds vomit inducing but it’s just become my main passion.

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Genre - Political Fiction
Rating – PG
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Roland Hughes on Being Well Known #IndieAuthors #SocialMedia #AmWriting

Despite what you have heard, that question is foremost in the mind of every writer who hasn’t become fabulously wealthy.  I have heard many deny it, yet they go out and promote their books.  You will hear many claim they “need to write and don’t care if anybody buys it.”  Well, the first part was probably true, but if they didn’t care about people buying it they wouldn’t keep putting it up for temporary free download.  Not just a chapter or two mind you, the entire book. The on-line world has put in place systems to feed this need for recognition and/or discovery.
The on-line world has answered with hundreds of places to download books for free.  Even Amazon has various “free download” promotional programs.  Many of the “free” eBook sites allow authors to post just a few chapters so readers can decide if they like the work before purchasing it.  There was a time when that actually worked for all involved.  Most of the services handing out an author’s work for free allow them access to some kind of dashboard or report which shows them the number of downloads to feed the fantasy of having been discovered.  It really is just a fantasy for 99.99%.  True, when eBooks and eReaders were first entering the market such free downloads generated buzz and sold additional units.  Today the only buzz they seem to generate is in the file hoarder community and they are only looking for free stuff.
Currently there are a growing number of people with the addiction.  There has been a slogan attached to drug dealers, at least in the writing world if not real life, “first hit is free.”  Now anyone can upload an unedited work to one or more of these on-line markets and watch the download counter climb.  The rush feeds the fantasy they will be “discovered” and offered a book contract with a rich and famous sized advance.  When the rush wears off they either begin spending their own money promoting or quickly create another work to post for free so they can feel the rush again.
You’ve all seen the news of formerly famous people and their downward spiral out of this world.  Addiction is a brutal thing.  Many of you have heard or seen news reports where some member of law enforcement comes on the screen and states “the new form of drug Y isn’t the same as it was in the 60s and 70s, it is N times deadlier.”  The same has become true of the free book market.  There has been a culture shift on a global scale.  A growing percentage of the world population now believe they should be able to download anything they want without having to pay for it.  The people making the money from this new addiction are the people selling the paraphernalia which would be the devices required to consume and or obtain the free stuff.  Many vendors of such devices pitch the size of the free library you will have access to with their device.
On the other side of that ether from whence the free stuff comes is a writer who is driven to write asking “Do you know me?”

“John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars” is one big interview. It is a transcript of a dialogue between “John Smith” (who, as the title of the book implies is the last known survivor of the Microsoft wars) and the interviewer for a prominent news organization.
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Genre – Dystopian Fiction
Rating – PG
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DL Cox on How She Writes and Her Favourite Author #AmReading #Fantasy #BookClub

1. What scares you most?
As a father of four with the youngest being nine and one, I'm afraid of not properly preparing my younger children for what's waiting for them out there in the world.
2. Who is your favorite author?
Jessie Redmon Fauset. She was part of that first wave of writers published during what we ca~l the Harlem Renaissance. Although some have charged her with indulging in too much idealism, that's what I love about her. She dared to capture the reality of a dire situation and reimagined and cultivated it into a world of hopeful and inspiring possibilities.
3. How do you write (laptop, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk)?
There was a time when I wrote with pen and paper, but that was nearly a decade ago. I'm a sit at the computer and type kind of guy. I may jot something onto a piece of paper if I can't get to the computer, but it's become very difficult for ideas to come to me with a pen in hand. I'm addicted to seeing my words and ideas magically appear on the screen as I type. It's almost inspirational. I get a rush out of it.
4. How much sleep do you need to be at your best?
Sleep? Who sleeps? Seriously. I steal an hour here and there. Much of my writing is the result of a lot of contemplation about how a story or plot can play out. Not only does that contemplation happen long before I start writing, but it usually occurs when I'm trying to go to sleep. Before I know it, I've spent hours lying in bed working a story out in my head. I guess you could say that I'm at my best when I think I need sleep.
5. Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you?
It would be great if I could make a lot of money from my writing, but money's not the barometer I use to measure my success as a writer. Although it sounds corny or cliché, I just want people to enjoy my writing. Success for me is about having readers really connect with a moment, a character, a situation, or even a sentence in my works. I've experienced a stranger telling me I how much he loved a certain scene in one of my works, how much it touched him, and at that moment I got a taste of what it is to be a successful writer. That's the bar for me. I'm hoping to have millions of people expressing those kinds of connections to my work, even if they passed around the same book. Of course I would prefer they each purchase their own copy. Like I said, it'll be great to make a lot of money.
6. What's your greatest strength as a writer?                                                 
I would say that my greatest strength as a writer is that I don't take writing for granted. I cherish every opportunity I've been afforded to write. There are people who are capable of writing, but they can never seem to get going. I understand that writing is not simply a skill, it's also a gift. I don't take it for granted, which leads me to constantly work at being better at it.
7. What book should everybody read at least once? 
There are so many. If I had to choose one, I'd say Walter Mosely's Man in My Basement. It's kind of quirky, but it's very thought-provoking. It's a great conversation piece to say the least. It raises a lot of controversial questions without taking itself too seriously.    

In this Urban Fantasy, the devil’s daughter, SALEENA, and her reaper boyfriend, IZZY, elope to earth and seek to overthrow her estranged brother, SIMON CLASH, as the devil’s heir apparent on earth, but Simon is head of a powerful conglomerate, and he’s not going out without a fight. As the rivalry turns bloody, the warring siblings discover the devil has been manipulating their feud to advance his secret agenda and is using them as decoys to draw out a sword-wielding champion of humanity called the HOST, whom must be slain before the devil can unleash a reign of terror on earth.
Legend says the Host will emerge when humanity plunges into hopelessness and despair, and NATHANIEL BRENNER, the young man responsible for delivering a magic sword to the Host, hopes that is soon. Nathaniel has spent the last six years searching for the Host to no avail and has recently seen a drastic rise in demon activity on earth, which he knows could only mean one thing: humanity is running out of time. Saleena and Simon unite to save their own hides, but it may be too late—not only for the devil’s offspring, but for humanity too! The future of humanity hangs in the balance, and Nathaniel is determined to thwart the devil’s plans and find the Host.
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Genre - Urban Fantasy
Rating - PG-13
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Other Side of the Ice #Excerpt by @TheobaldSprague #Memoir #Climate #Divorce

As we rolled into the next day and the sun was illuminating the fog around us, Dominique saw an extremely large target that wasn’t moving, especially out of our way. The persistent, heavy fog that had settled in around 2 a.m. gave an ethereal feel to a light not quite twilight or dawn. Yet what was now showing up on the radar four miles to the north was so large neither fog nor low light could hide it; our first official sighting of an ice- berg was an amazingly impressive one in that this berg had to have been at least a thousand feet long and more than 100 feet high. The fog was playing tricks in that first this “thing” was there, then it wasn’t. When I could see it, my immediate impression of the massive hulk in the fog was that of an aircraft carrier. It had to be, nothing was that big and tall and actually moved.
As there wasn’t sufficient light to photograph it, Dominique and I went through every possibility we could so that we could define it for the others as they revolved into the watch schedule; there were no rectangular, steep-sided islands charted for the area and it was too irregular to be any sort of cargo ship. Looking at it through the glasses, we could see the jagged and rough outline it presented against the northern sky. There was no doubting that it was truly a mountain of ice. And, as the minutes ticked by, our sighting was confirmed by the presence of several others—albeit not half as large— mini-islands of ice. By now all were up and crammed into the pilothouse, all with cameras in hand and soft exclamations about the size and power of these giants. The first sighting of ice is one that I will never forget. It’s no exaggeration when I realized that the icebergs held power, strength, drive, and a presence that could truly not care less about who you are or where it is you
want to go. They travel along silently. Seas break against their frozen and rock-hard surfaces, exploding with furious impotence as this massive structure of blue-brown-white ice keeps its determined course. Yet, as we were to learn, their presence wasn’t always known. A few hours later, I’d rotated out of watch and was below cleaning up when I heard Dominique say from the pilothouse, “Jesus, that one didn’t even show up on radar.”
It was hard to ignore such a comment so I went up to join her and immediately saw that we were now in the company of many more of these floating, silent icy sentinels and, sure enough, a particularly large one about three miles off our bows failed to register even as much as a blip on the radars. Yet some smaller ones, perhaps the size of Volkswagen Beetles, stood out bright and conspicuous on the green electronic screens.
All through that foggy morning, as many sets of eyes that were available were glued to either one of the two radars as ice targets and bearings were called out to the helmsman of the hour.
No exaggeration to say there were five sets of nerves on a knife edge. As the hours ticked by and the heat of the morning sun started to cook off some of the fog, we became more accustomed to the ice and a bit emboldened. I asked Clinton to take us closer to a particularly large iceberg that had amazing shapes, ledges, tiny waterfalls, and brilliant deep, ice-blue colors glowing from within. Very capably and with great precision, Clinton all but driftedBagan up to this massive berg.
On the grand scale of things, it was far from massive but when you’re in a boat one-tenth its size, it fit the definition of “massive.”

A sailor and his family’s harrowing and inspiring story of their attempt to sail the treacherous Northwest Passage.
Sprague Theobald, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and expert sailor with over 40,000 offshore miles under his belt, always considered the Northwest Passage–the sea route connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific–the ultimate uncharted territory. Since Roald Amundsen completed the first successful crossing of the fabled Northwest Passage in 1906, only twenty-four pleasure craft have followed in his wake. Many more people have gone into space than have traversed the Passage, and a staggering number have died trying. From his home port of Newport, Rhode Island, through the Passage and around Alaska to Seattle, it would be an 8,500-mile trek filled with constant danger from ice, polar bears, and severe weather.
What Theobald couldn’t have known was just how life-changing his journey through the Passage would be. Reuniting his children and stepchildren after a bad divorce more than fifteen years earlier, the family embarks with unanswered questions, untold hurts, and unspoken mistrusts hanging over their heads. Unrelenting cold, hungry polar bears, and a haunting landscape littered with sobering artifacts from the tragic Franklin Expedition of 1845, as well as personality clashes that threaten to tear the crew apart, make The Other Side of the Ice a harrowing story of survival, adventure, and, ultimately, redemption.

TO WATCH THE OFFICIAL HD TEASER FOR “The Other Side of The Ice” [book and documentary] PLEASE GO TO: VIMEO.COM/45526226) 

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Genre – Memoir, adventure, family, climate
Rating – PG
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Monday, August 18, 2014

The Soul of the World by @jg_silverman #Fantasy #AmReading #ReviewShare

The Soul of the World (Legends of Amun Ra, #2)The Soul of the World by Joshua Silverman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The writing definitely deserves applause. This is definitely better than the first book in the series. All of the characters are complex. The fantasy elements are richly developed. From start to finish, the pace is fast and does not lag. There were no unnecessary dialogue or scenes, especially ones that did not connect to the key focus of the book. In the end, everything was connected.

The protagonist has a driven goal which by 30% of the book has the reader rooting in his favour. Good or bad, his reactions were strong and clear in a way that made me like him even more. Despite the need to do what others wanted him to do, he was intent on finding his way.

An easy story to read and even better story to love. Four stars from me.

Disclosure - As a Quality Reads UK Book Club member, I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my book review. This book review is based on my thoughts, opinion and understanding of the book. This book review does not reflect the opinion of other book club members.

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Dance for a Dead Princess by Deborah Hawkins @DeborahHawk3 #Mystery #Romance #ReviewShare

Dance for a Dead PrincessDance for a Dead Princess by Deborah Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that is a great conversation starter and can make conversations go on for a long time because you'll want to turn every angle around so nothing is missed. If it isn't already obvious, I love mysteries.

The theory or rumour that Princess Diana knew of her assassination plan is a strong point of debate. That alone would have anyone scrambling to read this book. Some readers will point out that the involvement of royalty was nothing but a mcguffin but I think it draws on the idea of how we perceive people which is the very foundation of this book.

Both main characters perceive each other in a strong, stubborn manner which later has them backtracking. I had just finished an Atwood book when I got to this so my expectations were high. The introduction felt forced but by the time you reached 25%, you start to have a relationship with the characters and there's no turning back.

If you are looking for a fabulous "carry you away" type read, this is it. The characters are human and wonderful. They are frail and faulty. You can see yourself in each one of the decisions they must make. It's not the "rending of the loincloth" type romance, either, and I'm so happy it’s not.

Disclosure - As a Quality Reads UK Book Club member, I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my book review. This book review is based on my thoughts, opinion and understanding of the book. This book review does not reflect the opinion of other book club members.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

@MargaretWestlie on the Origins of 'Anna's Secret' #Historical #Mystery #AmWriting

I have been steeped in the stories about my ancestors since my birth. They may have even seeped into me through the walls of the womb. Anna’s Secret is a story I’ve heard many times from various people. The latest version was from my Uncle Harold. He said that one of our own people was suspected of the crime of murdering Anne Beaton with a turnip hoe. It was said that she was no better than she should be and was doing a little marital wandering with someone in the community. For a long time the smithy was suspected. He was in custody for a period but was finally exonerated and left Prince Edward Island for good. Ultimately the authorities decided that the crime was perpetrated by a woman and was in fact, a crime of passion. This last was pronounced with great relish. They never found the person responsible. It seems that Anne had greatly riled a wronged wife, and probably several.

The story caught my imagination and I began to wonder: what if she wasn’t who they thought she was? What if the reason for her murder was entirely different? What if the murderer was discovered? Who would it be? Her husband? The wronged woman? The man she was said to be involved with? There was a lot to play with here. In a technical sense, how close to reality could I be without offending descendents? Not too close, I decided. Anyway, it’s more fun to write what pops into my mind and see how it plays out.

As I wrote, the narrative opened like a flower as I examined the individuals who I decided were involved. Who were they? What relationship did they hold to Anna and to her family and to each other? How did Old Annie figure into it? After all she was a daft old woman who had to be transported to gatherings in a wheelbarrow because she couldn’t be left alone. Most of the time she didn’t know anyone and lived in her mind very far in the past with people she knew in her youth. What did she have to do with Anna’s murder? After all, she and Anna had been life-long friends.

And what did it do to the community? Their sense of safety was shattered and people took to locking their doors, some even in the daytime. This was in a community that never locked its doors even in my grandmother’s time. I remember this from my childhood. The only time the door was locked was if they were going to be away for an extended period because, what if someone needed something and they weren’t home to give it to them? I remember my own mother telling me a story about an old man who peddled goods and trinkets door-to-door. He was a little simple as they say here. They woke up one morning and discovered him asleep on the lounge with a blazing fire in the stove. After the murder, people were afraid to walk out alone at night.

As the story progressed it took awhile for me to realize who the real perpetrator was and the denouement was almost as much a surprise to me as it will be to you.

Anna Gillis, the midwife and neighbour in Mattie’s Story, has been found killed. The close-knit community is deeply shaken by this eruption of violence, and neighbours come together to help one another and to discover the perpetrator. But the answer lies Anna’s secret, long guarded by Old Annie, the last of the original Selkirk Settlers, and the protagonist of An Irregular Marriage. Join the community! Read Anna’s Secret and other novels by Margaret A. Westlie.
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Genre – Fiction, mystery, historical
Rating – G
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