Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Merry Heart of Madness by David A. Ringer Book Feature

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The Merry Heart of Madness Title: The Merry Heart of Madness
Author: David A. Ringer with J.D.C. Ormond
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 378
Genre: Erotica Fiction
Format: Kindle

 Weakened, he is promised only months to live. When Western medicine leaves him without hope, botany professor Dr. Charles Douglas follows his past back to India in search of the only cure left to try.

 A lifetime ago, before his escape into the academic world, Charles built another life, one rich with intrigue, danger, and easy cash as part of the shadow world of Himalayan smugglers and pharmacists. Older but arguably wiser, he brings home the side of himself he’d left behind all those years before.

 A seemingly ordinary and charming man, his new quest leads him down all the blind alleys he was once wise enough to avoid. Except now, with the skills he’s acquired, those blind alleys become a source of power he could never have imagined. Amid a flurry of corporate espionage, BDSM disciples, and terrorism, Charles sees his fortunes change. Can he rise again from his primordial self—or will he join the skeletons piling up in his closet?

David A. Ringer retired from a career in newspaper publishing to become a writer and human- and animal-rights activist. He lives with his partner in Columbus, Ohio.

J.D.C. Ormond is a writer, family man, and consciousness upstart from New Zealand. When not tending large herds and crops, he can be found prospecting the imagination for the nuggets that see his spirit soar.

David and J.D.C. are giving away a $25 Gift Card!

 
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins June 29 and ends on July 10.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on July 11.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 29, 2015

Profile: Author Barry Hornig

Were you on line at Studio 54? Did you ever swap drugs for gold in Tangiers? Or try on a dog collar at the Botany Club? Ever marry a countess or a Playboy playmate? Meet Barry. He did all of that and a lot more. He’s had many ups and downs and has probably forgotten more than you’ve fantasized, but this book is what he can recall…
“I hope I left a roadmap and some signposts to show other people that when they get lost, there is a way out."
Thus goes the pitch of Barry Hornig’s candid, compelling, revealing, and ultimately inspiring memoir, Without a Net: a True Tales of Prison, Penthouses, and Playmates (Köehler Books, 2015), which, from idea to polished manuscript, took him eight years to complete.
Without a Net is the story of a young man from a middle class background who shoots for the stars and goes after things that aren’t attainable, and when he thinks he has them, they get taken away,” states Hornig. “In the process, he winds up incarcerated, threatened with guns, and succumbs to addictions, but through a powerful series of visualizations he manages to manifest somebody who helps him change his whole life around through love and compassion. And through that, he is able to help other people.” Hornig’s over-the-top life is told with honesty, self-mockery, hope, and more than a little Jewish humor.
The decision to write this memoir came about from Hornig’s anger about his great ups and downs in life and the question, “Why do they continue to happen to me?” He needed to get it out of his system. Through writing, he hoped to see life more clearly and get rid of some of the anger and pain. He decided he wouldn’t misdirect his energy by looking back, but instead concentrate on looking forward and benefit from lessons learned, and it worked. “I hope I left a roadmap and some signposts to show other people that when they get lost, there is a way out,” says Hornig. “I believe that with determination, visualization, and the right partner, you can emerge from any darkness, live an interesting and fruitful life, and recover your sanity and your spiritual balance.”
In addition to his personal journey, the book offers a kaleidoscope of America from its triumphant and proud years in the 50s to a more recent time when – from Hornig’s perspective – “A great power has been shamefully falling apart. We’ve killed all our heroes, and there’s nobody to look up to. Violence never wins. And Gordon Gekko was wrong; greed is not good. (Sorry, Oliver.)”
Writing Without a Net had its challenges. From telling the truth, to stirring the hot coals, to old temptations re-awakening, to unsupportive peers telling him he was wasting his time and would never finish the book, Hornig admirably stuck to his vision through it all and came through the other side with a completed manuscript and a renewed sense of reality.
Besides the obvious painful, emotional journey of having to access his troubled past, Hornig’s challenge included the fact that he’s dyslexic. Because of this, he decided to work with Michael Claibourne, who helped him organize his thoughts and Without a Net Coverpen his words. Claibourne loved his life story and had been urging him for quite a while to write it all down.  It seemed just as exciting as any of the screenplays they were working on. “My creative process was a form of channeling with Michael, who acted as interviewer, scribe and psychiatrist,” adds Hornig. “We wrote this memoir from Topanga Canyon to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Montana, and New York City. Sometimes lying down and sometimes sitting up.  In person, over the phone, and over the net. It was complex but clear. I tried to be truthful and honest with all the subjects.”
In spite of help from his writing partner, as well as support from his spouse and family, becoming an author has been overwhelming for Hornig, to say the least. “I can’t quite wrap my head around it,” he says. “All I did was tell a story. We’ll see what happens from there, and I’ll leave it up to my audience.” He’s looking forward to sharing some of his experiences in this journey with younger people, and hopes that this book puts him in a venue where he can talk to them. “I want to spread the news: it’s never too late.” He hopes readers will learn from his story and even find themselves in it, and realize that even the most destructive impulses can be overcome. “I have been able to forgive the people who wronged me, and forgive myself for wronging the people that I wronged – both the ones who are dead and the ones who are still alive. And looking back now through the other end of the telescope, it’s all very clear.”
Barry Hornig currently divides his time between Santa Monica, California, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where he owns a gallery of fine art rugs. He is a professional sports fisherman, an expert on the paranormal, has talked with beings from space, had visions in Masar-i-Sharif, has been blessed by Muktananda, and hugged by Ammachi. “I have so many more stories to tell… and they’re not all autobiographical” states the author on what lurks on the horizon. “Screenplays, movies, all with messages. I am hoping that with this book my other story work will be taken seriously. And that in turn the other work will get out and more lessons will be learned.”
Connect with Barry Hornig on the web:
Without a Net is available from Köehler BooksAmazon, B&N, and other online retailers.
My article originally appeared in Blogcritics

Aeromancist by Charmaine Pauls (Book Cover Reveal)




About The Book



Title:  Aeromancist
Book 3: Seven Forbidden Arts Series
Author: Charmaine Pauls
Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance
Publisher:  Mélange Books
Publication Date: July 6, 2015


Preorder Book Buy Links: 
Amazon:   http://www.amazon.com/Aeromancist-Seven-Forbidden-Arts-Book-ebook/dp/B010766W5S/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1435450290&sr=1-1&keywords=aeromancist



Book Description:

Passion always comes with a price.

All he could offer was thirty days of passion.

He condemned her to a terrible fate instead.

Now he’ll do everything in his power to save her.

He is known as the Weatherman. Lann Dréan is the last of his kind. A price on his head, chased for a power he should not possess, he can’t promise any woman forever. All he can offer Katherine White is thirty days of passion. But his uncontainable desire comes with an unforeseen price. Lann’s lust will cost Kat everything. Now he’ll do anything to save her from the fate he has brought upon her.

* This book contains adult content with explicit language and frequent, consummated love scenes, including light bondage, sex toys and breath play. Reader discretion is advised.

 

About The Author


Charmaine Pauls was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa. She obtained a degree in Communication at the University of Potchestroom, and followed a diverse career path in journalism, public relations, advertising, communications, photography, graphic design, and brand marketing. Her writing has always been an integral part of her professions.

After relocating to France with her French husband, she fulfilled her passion to write creatively full-time. Charmaine has published six novels since 2011, as well as several short stories and articles.

When she is not writing, she likes to travel, read, and rescue cats. Charmaine currently lives in Chile with her husband and children. Their household is a linguistic mélange of Afrikaans, English, French and Spanish.

Read more about Charmaine’s romance novels and psychological short stories here on www.charmainepauls.com.


Contact Charmaine at:

Website: www.charmainepauls.com 
Blog: www.charmainepauls.com/blog/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Charmaine-Pauls/175738829145132 Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharmainePauls Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AuthorCharmainePauls

 

Book Cover Reveal Event Page




Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Writing Life with Suspense Author Gabriel Valjan


 "I define success as knowing that right here and now I am writing to the best of my ability, and that tomorrow I will write better. Writing is a craft and I am a craftsman."

Gabriel Valjan is ‘Gnomeo’ to his friends (read, ‘he is short’ but lacks the Napoleonic Complex). He writes short stories, novels and enjoys film noir. He is submissive to two cats -- one is a Bengal and the other, a tuxedo, both of whom also double as his editors. Winter Goose Publishing has unleashed Gabriel’s writings onto the reading public with the Roma Series. Book 4: Turning To Stone premiered 15 July 2015.

What’s inside the mind of a mystery-suspense author?

I sincerely believe that the key to all forms of creativity is intellectual curiosity. Answers, while interesting, are not as important as the questions. I keep alert to developments in science and technology; read about current events, and from there I do a ‘what if’ with what I find. Our world is beautiful, mysterious, and terrifying – it’s just a matter of perspective.

What is so great about being an author?

What other profession allows you to be your own boss, the architect of whatever is inside your head? As a writer I have control of what I put on the page before the reader. As a writer, I have control over what I put on the page, over what I serve up for the reader. It’s like a chef in the kitchen: the reader doesn't have to know a thing about me, but I have a responsibility to feed him or her something that tastes good and is well made.

When do you hate it?

Self-promotion; it doesn’t come easy to me, but it is often harder than the writing itself. I don’t like talking about myself. I’ve always been the gray man, the guy nobody notices but who, they know, can be counted on. I am that guy. I equate drawing attention to myself to wearing a hat rack in a crowded forest of hunters looking for moose. I’d like to think that my work can speak for itself, but I understand that there is a lot of noise out there and writers struggle to be heard – and seen.

What is a regular writing day like for you? Be honest!

We all have our rituals. We get out of bed using the same foot. We stumble half awake to the kitchen to make our morning coffee. I wake up each morning, early, thankful that I’m alive another day. I write within an hour upon waking up. If I’m preoccupied with something in my writing, I’ll work out first to clear my head, otherwise I’ll write four hours a day. By the time most people greet the day, I’ll have been up for three or four hours already and been writing.

Do you think authors have big egos? Do you? How do you know?

Interesting question and good timing because yesterday I was reading an article in which the author had asserted that Fitzgerald and Hemingway knew that they were great writers and had something to say; that they knew this about themselves unequivocally and without any doubt. Hemingway was Type-A+ competitive; Fitzgerald felt that the world owed him a living. We know this from letters and from people who knew them. My point is that there is healthy ego, a sense of honest pride in good work, and then there is an unhealthy ego, which manifests itself in the person’s putting others down. Unfortunately, I’ve met authors who have unhealthy egos: they mistake snark and sarcasm for Wit when they deride other authors. I can only hope that they become the people their dog thinks they are. If you mean ‘big ego’, as in I am proud of my work, then yes, I have an ego. If you mean ‘big ego’, as in I think I am a better writer than other authors?  Well then, no.  That is for the reader to determine.

How do you handle negative reviews?

I’ve been lucky that I haven’t had negative reviews. I have had criticisms, which I do consider and evaluate before I move on. All my writing goes through several editorial rounds and critiques, but at the end of the day, I know that I am proud of what I put out there. Yes, I look back at my ‘earlier stuff’ and I think how I would’ve done it differently, but it is all part of the process of growing as a writer. If I were to have a nasty review (and reviews of the sort do exist on Amazon), I’d treat it like I would with trolls online: stop reading, don’t respond because to do so is to feed them.

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?

I usually don’t tell people that I’m a writer. Nine out of ten times the other person will start telling me that they have written something and it comes out that they had given up for whatever reason. Then the question will come up, “Have you been published?” I tell them that I have. They might try and make a distinction: publish or self-publish? I give them my answer and the conversation will either end there, or the person will realize that I am serious about writing. They’ll ask, “How do you do it?” I’ll tell them that I’m disciplined and committed to improve myself somehow 1% every day.

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?

I’ll revise my work and, if that is too frustrating, I’ll read.

Any writing quirks?

I read passages, particularly dialog, out loud to my two cats, Squeak and Squawk. They listen, make noises, and I pay them with treats. They think I’m crazy.

Have you worked on your novel intoxicated? What was the result?

No, I have never written while intoxicated. I’m too much of a control freak to do that to myself.

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or if they saw it as nothing but a hobby?

Same thing if the people around me did take my writing seriously: write.  I’ve always made time for other people throughout my life, so I look at writing as time for myself. I don’t see that as selfish. The people who care about me know that it makes me happy, which is far better than dealing with an unhappy me. I ignore people who dismiss writing as a hobby; often the same people presume that writing is easy until they try it themselves – if they try at all. There are people who talk about writing and there are those, like myself, who do it daily. We are the quiet professionals. The work has to speak for itself.

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate? 

I experience Frustration, but never hate. I love to write, love to create something that another person can sink and disappear into, in which he or she can live among characters they love, hate, or distrust. Even when I am frustrated, I find pleasure in solving problems, in working out the knot in the narrative and plot.

Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?

No. I understand the logic that money for an author implies sales, but there is a thread of fallacious logic there. I think of my friends who have done impulse purchases because they saw an e-book for ninety-nine cents. The books pile up on their reader unread. The author may have made some money, but was he or she read? Did someone leave a review that entices other readers? While money is great, the book then becomes another commodity. Success has to have another definition. I define success as knowing that right here and now I am writing to the best of my ability, and that tomorrow I will write better. Writing is a craft and I am a craftsman. I will always want to improve my story-telling skills. Success is the well-told story, the writing that is admired even when the tale isn’t something that a particular reader seeks out. I’m realistic that not every reader will enjoy what I write, but for every one person who tells me that they enjoyed my work, I am honored that they spent time with my pages.


Leave us with some words of wisdom.

Write what you know. Write what you don't know. Obey the laws of grammar and syntax. Break the rules of grammar and syntax. Speech is what you hear. Dialogue is what you imagine between fictional characters. A beat is time in the corner for the boxer to rest or time for the boxer to deliver the punch. Characters live and breathe by how they act, however flawed or noble they are, and not because someone tells you they do. Point of view is a camera; change the lens and you change what you see and whence you see it. Visual is in the mind and it is also white space on the page. Edit for copy, for structure, but always have someone else do it because you won't see it. Criticism is always constructive, never personal. Voice is yours and only yours, as unique as your fingertips, your earlobes, and your handwriting.

As you can see, there are rules and there are no rules. Writing is about creation and expression; it is a function of the intangible human spirit. The act of creative expression, be it oral or written, nearly always involves the person who is doing that creating through words to be sitting down. Spoken or written, the story is created from a seated position. Tell the story that you have inside you. You have no control over whether you’ll make money (or not), be famous or forever obscure. Read widely other authors and genres to see how they “work” and why what they did did work. Should you be fortunate to meet your readers, stay until you have met every last one of them. You’ll be the better person. Don’t compete with other writers. Somebody will always be better at something than you. Just be you. Respect the time your readers spend with you and be grateful that they chose to spend that precious time with you.

////////////////////////////////////

Title: Turning To Stone
Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Author: Gabriel Valjan
Publisher: Winter Goose Publishing
Amazon Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/o38tpen

About the Book:

Bianca is in Naples for Turning to Stone. Loki, her mysterious contact, is now giving her baffling anagrams. They seem to lead to a charismatic entrepreneur who has a plan to partner with organized crime to manipulate the euro and American dollar. Against a backdrop of gritty streets, financial speculation, and a group of female assassins on motorcycles, Bianca and her friends discover that Naples might just be the most dangerous city in Italy.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Poetically Baring My Soul by Jerald Brown Book Blast!



Title: Poetically Baring My Soul
Author: Jerald Brown
Publisher: Jerald Brown
Genre: Poetry
Format: Paperback

 Poetically Baring My Soul is a poetry book that offers a honest inscription of trials, feelings, thoughts, and revelations. It creates a visual image from personal accounts within the expressions of the writings. Poetically Baring My Soul invites all those who have an acceptance of faith, a honesty and even accountability of self, and a vivid appreciation of metaphors and wordplay, to embrace the poems inside.

  ORDER INFORMATION Poetically Baring My Soul is available for purchase at  
amazonBN

  I was born and raised in Danville, Il, a small town about 2 hours outside of Chicago. My parents, J.W. and Dizer Brown instilled values and principles of life in me at an early age. I enlisted into the Army 10 days after graduating high school and the discipline I received added to my upbringing, shaping me into the man I am today. My love for poetry began through hip hop. I had aspired to become the greatest rapper of all time! Alongside the music, I would write little poems about anything from my surroundings, to my feelings, to my experiences. Eventually, those "little poems" turned into pieces of my life. Poetically Baring My Soul is my very first book. It provides a testimony to the trials and tribulations I've faced, my growth into manhood, and expressions of my spirit, soul, and body. I wrote this book to honor God with this gift, glorify Him, and to connect with others who may share in my walk through life. I am a man of faith. I am confident that my poems will explain my purpose, provide insight, and give readers a honest look into my heart.

For More Information

Visit Jerald’s website.
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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Two Hunky Historical Hero's in a Hero vs. Hero Challenge - who will you vote for?

Hero vs. Hero
Summer’s just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than a hot one-of hero vs. hero match between two hunky historical heroes!

 In one corner there’s Diana Cosby’s Giric Armstrong, rugged Highlander. Giric-Armstrong_FACE Giric-Armstrong_STATS

 In the other, his opponent: Valentine Alesander, crusading warrior. Valentine_FACE Valentine_STATS

 Who will win? That’s up to you! Read up on these heroes and place your votes now through June 22nd.

And come back June 23rd to see who will be victorious!   http://kensingtonheroes.tumblr.com/historicalhero  

Friday, June 19, 2015

Breaking the Silence: A Novel of Spain's Civil War by Maria J. Nieto Book Blast - Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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Breaking the Silence Title: Breaking the Silence
Author: Maria Nieto
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 202
Genre: Historical Thriller
Format: Kindle/Paperback

 On a sweltering summer day, the streets of Old Madrid that once resonated with the laughter of children playing are empty and silent. But inside the apartment buildings there is life as families faithfully wait for updates about an army uprising in Spanish Morocco. Before long, their greatest fears come true. As rebel troops storm Madrid and chaos fills the streets, six-year-old Mari wonders why she cannot go outside to play. Unfortunately, she has no idea she is about to be trapped inside the abyss of what is rapidly becoming a ruthless civil war.

Already emotionally wounded by the absence of her mother, Mari attempts to go about her fear-filled days living with her father’s family, which includes a grandfather who lovingly teaches her about the history leading up to the conflict. As she embarks on a coming-of-age journey submerged in the darkness of war, Mari somehow stays alive despite the decisions of an intimidating, ruthless dictator, starvation, and brainwashing by the new Fascist regime. But when circumstances lead her to inadvertently commit the ultimate betrayal, Mari must face the horrifying consequences of her actions. Breaking the Silence shares the compelling tale of a little girl’s experiences as she attempts to survive amid the horror and death surrounding the Spanish Civil War.

The author spent her childhood in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and the post war years that followed the war under a brutal dictatorship. As an adult, and after four years in the US Navy, Maria graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia with degrees in nursing and nursing education followed by graduate and post graduate degrees in mental health education and counseling psychology. After teaching psychiatric nursing in Philadelphia, the author moved to New Mexico where she worked in mental health services for the Indian Health Service, and later worked for the University of New Mexico in the department of Emergency Psychiatry. Now retired, Maria still lives in New Mexico with her horse. 
 

Maria is giving away a $25 Gift Card!

 
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins June 15 and ends on June 26.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on June 27.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Book Review: Turning to Stone (Roma Series Book 4), by Gabriel Valjan


TurningtoStone_FlatforeBooksInternational spy Alabaster Black returns in this the latest instalment in Valjan’s exciting mystery/suspense Roma series.
This time Alabaster (aka Bianca Nerini) and her colleagues takes us to Naples, where tension is rapidly escalating between mafia clans and where she must outwit a powerful crime syndicate named Camorra.
Counterfeited euros and bonds, anagrams, car bombings, sexy women assassins on motorcycles, undercover detectives, and delicious Italian food mix together in this page-turning thriller filled with international intrigue. At the heart of the plot is a mysterious agent named Loki who, via the computer, communicates intelligence to Bianca. The problem is, we don’t know who she or he is, or what his motives are. We only know Loki has an avid affinity for anagrams which Bianca must decipher. Needless to say, not an easy task.
I’ve read all of the Roma series books and I found this to be the most complex and skilfully plotted. There are a lot of secondary characters and I was grateful for the list of character descriptions at the start of the book, which I found helpful, especially at the beginning until I familiarized myself with all the names. Valjan has a gift when it comes to writing about organized crime, and I found the dynamics between clashing mafia clans and their doings terrifyingly real. The inter-relations between special agents, the FBI, the Italian regional police, and capitalist magnates also ring with authenticity. The story moves fairly quickly with a lot of dialogue propelling the plot.
Turning to Stone is a deftly written novel and one fans of suspense will surely enjoy. Recommended.
Find out more from Amazon.
Visit Gabriel Valjan’s Amazon page and website.

A Conversation with Jason LaPier, author of 'Unexpected Rain'



Born and raised in upstate New York, Jason LaPier lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and their dachshund. In past lives he has been a guitar player for a metal band, a drum-n-bass DJ, a record store owner, a game developer, and an IT consultant. These days he divides his time between writing fiction and developing software, and doing Oregonian things like gardening, hiking, and drinking microbrew. He is always in search of the perfect Italian sandwich.
His latest book is the space age noir murder mystery, Unexpected Rain.

For More Information

Can you tell us what your book is about?

In a domed city on a planet orbiting Barnard's Star, a recently hired maintenance man has just committed murder.

Minutes later, the airlocks on the neighborhood block are opened and the murderer is asphyxiated along with thirty-one innocent residents.

Jax, the lowly dome operator on duty at the time, is accused of mass homicide and faced with a mound of impossible evidence against him.

His only ally is Runstom, the rogue police officer charged with transporting him to a secure off-world facility. The pair must risk everything to prove Jax didn't commit the atrocity and uncover the truth before they both wind up dead.

Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

There are two main characters. Jax is just an operator who works on life support systems inside a domed city on a distant planet. He's kind of an underachiever, a little lost and directionless, going through the motions of life, and then everything is turned upside down when a whole block loses oxygen while he's on duty and he's arrested for the murder of the residents. Runstom is a law officer in a corporation called Modern Policing and Peacekeeping - essentially he's a cop for hire. He's been around a while and should have been promoted to detective, but because of his background, he's been held back. He seems to be the only one willing to question whether or not Jax is guilty of the crime and has to make a choice of whether or not to risk his career to dig deeper.

The third point-of-view character is an assassin called Dava. She's a significant character, but her arc is tangential to the murder plot that drives the novel and so she doesn't get as much "page time" as Jax and Runstom. As a child, she was "rescued" from the deteriorating Earth, only to find herself dropped into a dome on another planet and orphaned. As a teen, she was recruited by the criminal outfit known as Space Waste. Her role will increase dramatically in Unexpected Rain's sequel.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

I used to do a kind of partial plot and then just start writing by the seat of my pants. This is what led to two dead-end, unfinished novels. I discovered that for me to be successful, I need to plot from beginning to end. Now, let me clarify: my outlines always have a beginning, middle, and end, but they usually have a _lot_ of wiggle room in between. I understand the value of pantsing, the freedom to allow the story to evolve on its own. Personally, I need a minimum amount of structure to keep my momentum going, but I appreciate a level of flexibility.

Is it hard to promote a sci-fi book and where do you start?

I find it very difficult, to be honest, specifically when you're not writing Young Adult fiction. In this age of social media, any noise I make feels like I'm shouting into a windstorm. On the other hand, there was a time when no such outlets existed and the only way to get your words in front of people was through the gates of the media.

Right now I feel like sci-fi is making a comeback. Geeks are cool, and our culture is becoming more and more accepted. Sadly, this translates to film and TV more easily than it does the written word, but we're getting there. The great thing about SF readers is once they get a taste of a story, they want more, more, more, especially if you manage to create an immersive world for their imaginations to thrive in.

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

Oh, absolutely. A book is a long journey. Sometimes you're going to get bored, distracted, stuck, lost. Those are the times that you need the next thing to pull you forward. Sometimes revisiting my outline helps - and it might mean re-writing some of that outline. Sometimes freewriting a piece that won't actually be part of the narrative helps too; I've on occasion taken a step back and written from the perspective of a non-POV character, such as a villain. The freedom of writing something related to the story, but not actually going into the book, can jumpstart creativity and get that momentum back. Lastly, when I just can't get a scene going, I draw it out. I'm no artist and I would never show those sketches to anyone, but there's that creative freedom again. It gets the gears of the imagination working and helps me get lost in the story again, which is where I need to be to get beyond the block.

What do you like to do for fun?

I read a ton, of course, and being a sci-fi lover there are loads of films and TV shows to consume as well. I try to get outdoor time when I can; my wife and I love to garden and to hike, and we live in the Pacific Northwest, so there is plenty of great hiking. In my day job, I'm a software architect, which is actually pretty fun too. Stressful sometimes, but mostly I really like it.

What do you like the most about being an author?

I've always sought a creative outlet. For a long time this was making music (first metal, then electronic), then it became game design. I'd dabbled with writing on and off but when I was writing quests for an RPG that I'd been developing in my spare time, I found I really enjoyed it. It was in 2005 that I started working on a couple of novels (neither of which ever got finished) and some short stories. I had the bug, and within a few years I was attending workshops and devouring books on writing and just getting more serious about it in general. What I like most about writing as opposed to my other outlets is the freedom I have to control the process on my own terms. Sure, I take feedback and work with editors and things like that, but the vision from the beginning is mine, and there's something empowering about that.

What is the most pivotal point of a writer’s life?

I think I had several. The first time I completed an entire novel - after a few false starts with other novels - I felt like I reached a new level. It was proof that I was capable of going the distance. Shortly thereafter, I was a finalist in a very competitive short fiction competition. That was proof that I had talent.

But just knowing I had the capability and the talent only went so far. I struggled with being unable to get my work out there, into the hands of agents, publishers, and readers. I was getting to a point where I thought I might do something drastic... like, shelve everything and start anew or something. And then I got the call from HarperVoyager telling me they wanted to publish my book. That changed everything.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

Persistence is key. I have known some talented writers who became too frustrated to continue because they just couldn't keep the momentum going. Your best shot at success is to keep at it, day after day. I work a full time job - a demanding job - and I still find the time to write novels and short stories and blog articles and whatever else. It's daunting sometimes, but you'll be amazed at what you can build over time with just an hour or two a day. At first it will be slow going, but the more you keep at it, the easier it gets. And then extend that persistence from the act of writing to the act of putting your work out there - submitting it to contests, magazines, anthologies, agents, and so on. Never take rejection personally and instead see it as an opportunity to turn around and share that work with someone else.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Book Review: The Accidental Art Thief, by Joan Schweighardt


TheAccidentalArtThief_medTitleThe Accidental Art Thief
Genre: General fiction/Literary
Author: Joan Schweighardt
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Find The Accidental Thief on Amazon 
Set in New Mexico, this is the story of 45-year old Kathryn (aka Zinc), a deeply sensitive yet socially awkward woman who’s lived all of her existence without making her own decisions, and whose life suddenly forces her to take charge, face her fears, and grow as a human being.
For the past 25 years Zinc has cared for an old art collector and lived in a casita under the protection of his estate. She writes poetry and her only possessions are her two dogs. Life is monotone and safe for Zinc, whose idyllic environment is perfect for hiding from the world. But things abruptly change when the old man suffers a tragic fall and dies. His nasty daughter Marge takes charge, and gives Zinc only two weeks to gather what little she has and find another place to live. Overnight, Zinc is forced to face her fears and the world she’s been hiding from for so many years—or tries to, anyway.
Her first decision—stealing one of the old man’s paintings—unravels a series of unusual events that forces Zinc to interact with other people—a clairvoyant, her auto-mechanic brother, and a poet whom she ends up meeting in Antigua and falling in love with, among others. She even gets a job at the Chamber of Commerce. But Zinc isn’t the only one struggling through life and facing her demons, and so do the other characters in the book. Eventually, Zinc must make things right and return the painting, but not before going through a series of unusual turns.
The Accidental Art Thief is a well-written literary novel with complex, skillfully developed characters—ordinary people moving through life like ghosts, it seems at times. Their emotions are what makes this novel compelling. Themes of love, friendship, self-growth, and emotional survival interlace in this sometimes darkly humorous story. Elements of magical realism further deepen the tale, adding a light touch of the paranormal to the plot. Fans of Alice Hoffman, Sue Monk Kid, and J.K. Rowling (The Casual Vacancy) will surely enjoy Schweighardt’s The Accidental Thief.
My review originally appeared in Blogcritics. 
I was given a review copy by the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Breaking the Silence by Maria J. Nieto Book Blast - Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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Breaking the Silence Title: Breaking the Silence
Author: Maria Nieto
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 202
Genre: Historical Thriller
Format: Kindle/Paperback

 On a sweltering summer day, the streets of Old Madrid that once resonated with the laughter of children playing are empty and silent. But inside the apartment buildings there is life as families faithfully wait for updates about an army uprising in Spanish Morocco. Before long, their greatest fears come true. As rebel troops storm Madrid and chaos fills the streets, six-year-old Mari wonders why she cannot go outside to play. Unfortunately, she has no idea she is about to be trapped inside the abyss of what is rapidly becoming a ruthless civil war.

Already emotionally wounded by the absence of her mother, Mari attempts to go about her fear-filled days living with her father’s family, which includes a grandfather who lovingly teaches her about the history leading up to the conflict. As she embarks on a coming-of-age journey submerged in the darkness of war, Mari somehow stays alive despite the decisions of an intimidating, ruthless dictator, starvation, and brainwashing by the new Fascist regime. But when circumstances lead her to inadvertently commit the ultimate betrayal, Mari must face the horrifying consequences of her actions. Breaking the Silence shares the compelling tale of a little girl’s experiences as she attempts to survive amid the horror and death surrounding the Spanish Civil War.  

The author spent her childhood in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and the post war years that followed the war under a brutal dictatorship. As an adult, and after four years in the US Navy, Maria graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia with degrees in nursing and nursing education followed by graduate and post graduate degrees in mental health education and counseling psychology. After teaching psychiatric nursing in Philadelphia, the author moved to New Mexico where she worked in mental health services for the Indian Health Service, and later worked for the University of New Mexico in the department of Emergency Psychiatry. Now retired, Maria still lives in New Mexico with her horse. 
 

Maria is giving away a $25 Gift Card!

 
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins June 15 and ends on June 26.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on June 27.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 12, 2015

Guest post by Richard Michael Cartmel, author of 'The Charlemagne Connection'

Research. Does it all come out of my head or is it researched? The ideas come from within, but they all could happen or have happened. All my books are carefully researched. Right from the start of the Richebourg process, I went down to Nuits Saint Georges to look for a spot to put my imaginary wine village. The response from any number of wine makers I talked to was, ‘Why do you want to create another village? Haven’t we got enough of them here already?’ Then a cork got pulled and a glass had a splash poured into it, and we all sniffed a bit, and I was asked what I thought of that. There were times when that all got too much, and the research became more of an atmosphere and less concerned with fine detail. There were other times when I really needed to understand exactly what the Phylloxera mite did to the vine, and why every single one of that sea of vines in front of me had rootstocks that came from the far side of the Atlantic, while the plants above the soil were all French. So I spent time at a vine nursery near Dole, sat and chatted with winemakers in all of the villages, and hopefully they will recognise the villages around them.

In The Charlemagne Connection, there were also forensic issues and issues of French law that were explored. The only bit of Charlemagne that needed to be rewritten was the forensic issue, which turned out to be not as I supposed. Nicholas Marquez-Grant, a forensic anthropologist at Cranfield, corrected my error, and the results of my error was written out. Much of the technical viticulture was edited and corrected by David Clark, an erstwhile winemaker in Morey-Saint-Denis, five miles north of Nuits-Saint-Georges over various cups of tea, and the occasional glass of wine, usually wine he had made himself, and if you can find any Domaine David Clark, buy - you will be well rewarded when you open it.


Did I write the books to be where I wanted to go and do the research? Perhaps the answer to that one is yes, and it’s not a bad excuse. Go where you want to go, and write a book about it!
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Title: THE CHARLEMAGNE CONNECTION
Genre: Mystery
Author: Richard Michael Cartmel
Website:  www.rmcartmel.com
Publisher: Crime Scene Books 

The Charlemagne Connection, Cartmel’s latest mystery, is an exhilarating tale of villainy in the vineyards featuring the rumpled but shrewd Inspector Charlemagne Truchaud of the Paris police. 

About The Charlemagne Connection:  Something sinister is afoot in the charming little Burgundy village of Nuits-Saint-Georges.  Inspector Truchaud will have an elaborate mystery to unravel when a young German tourist goes missing in Nuits-Saint-Georges.  What appears, at first, to be a straightforward case takes a dark turn when a decomposing body is found in the woods….

A captivating tale that transports readers to the vineyards of Burgundy, The Charlemagne Connectioncrackles with suspense. Smart, seamless, and sensational, The Charlemagne Connection blends a to-die for setting, a well-balanced, full-bodied plot, and irresistible characters.  Celebrated novelist R.M. Cartmel uncorks a wild, witty, and winning wine mystery in The Charlemagne Connection.
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RMCARTMEL_GARDENBorn into a military family, R.M. Cartmel was educated at Sherborne School in the South West of England and at Oxford.  Cartmel served as a practicing doctor for over three and a half decades. As a novelist Cartmel combines two of his lifelong loves—writing and traveling throughout France’s exquisite Burgundy region.
Connect with the author on the web:

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Guest post: "How to Do Everything Wrong, and Somehow Still Get Published," by Terry Jackman


Apparently I won a Cadbury’s essay competition in primary school. I don’t remember but I do recall an exciting day the teacher shared out chocolate. With hindsight I have to wonder if that was my prize. Maybe that was my first intimation that one shouldn’t expect to get fat, or rich, from writing. J

Secondary school produced my first ‘published’ work, in an end of year magazine. I was about sixteen. Unfortunately it didn’t actually have my name on it; it was a piece I’d dashed off for a friend when she’d begged for help. If you haven’t guessed, the entries weren’t voluntary. She did offer to own up, but I told her I wasn’t bothered. The truth was I didn’t want my name in print; by that time I was abnormally shy, something I still struggle with despite numerous public appearances.

I got a job as a teacher. I wrote exam papers. Once I wrote a playscript for a music teacher who fancied being another Andrew Lloyd Weber. I recall a scene where the young hero climbed the church tower to talk to the weathercock, a chance to write choral music without words to represent  the wind as the boy climbed higher. But the musician vanished to another school with it. I have no idea if he ever completed the libretto. It would be nice to know, but it was fun anyway.

Maybe by now you’re seeing a pattern? I liked writing, the challenge, the excitement, a lot more than I did people knowing about it? In fact, I kind of preferred them not knowing. I went through my teens frankly too self-conscious to live; the kind of ‘shyness’ that means taking a deep breath before walking into a room with actual people in it. I did manage to partly handle the problem during my college years. That’s when I studied Drama- and did rather well at it. Because I discovered I could perform pretty well in public - if I let ‘Terry’ replace‘Teresa’. It wasn’t the real me, it was this much braver alternate persona. (No wonder I like fantasy.)

But neither Terry nor Teresa was brave enough for a long time, they let ‘life’ get in the way. Till one day I thought, ‘All right. Why not. But how? How do I know I can write anything worth reading?’ And that’s how I enrolled in a writing course. Hey, it was long distance, and it promised if I completed the course and hadn’t earned back my fees they would refund them! Couldn’t lose.
Lesson one: plan three articles for three magazines. Bother, I’d wanted fiction. Never mind, it would still be good for me. I planned them. Lesson two: write them. Done. Lesson three: send them off. 

Huh?

Long story short, they all sold and one turned into a series. I’d earned my fees in three lessons. And editors asked for more. A great compliment, how could I refuse. For ten years my spare time – I often worked six day weeks in my ‘day job’ - had a waiting list of articles. I’d become a ‘writer’. I was fairly sure I was a good one, at least in fifteen hundred word bites. I finally had my name on my work. I got paid. The problem I wasn’t trying the fiction I’d intended.

And of course I had no idea how to sell my writing. I’d never had to.

So picture the shock when I finally switched tracks into fiction. I was supposed to submit stuff? You’ve guessed it; the old me came rushing back; the me who had trouble facing people. I sold a couple short stories, but I didn’t send out anything once it failed a couple of times; obviously that meant it wasn’t good enough.

In fact I did exactly the same thing with Ashamet, Desert-Born. Getting the world the story is set in just right took a while but eventually I took a breath and sent it out; twice. First time: a senior editor held it for a year, then said no. The second: they said it was “too difficult to market”. I knew it didn’t fit an established niche, but stupidly I’d thought that might be a good thing. Obviously not. I was disappointed, but prepared to shelve it when, amazingly, Dragonwell Publishing heard about it from another writer and asked me if I’d “like to send them something”! When I recovered from the shock Ashamet was sold, in ten short days.


Truth really can be stranger than fiction. But trust me, it’s not the way you should intend to get published. Even if it makes such a great story in itself.

ABOUT THE BOOK
TitleAshamet, Desert-Born
Genre: Fantasy/adventure/romance/paranormal
Author: Terry Jackman
Find out more on Amazon
A desert world. A warrior nation that worships its emperor as a god. But for Ashamet, its prince, a future filled with danger…
Ashamet is confident his swordsmanship, and his arranged marriage, will be enough to maintain the empire’s peace. But when a divine symbol magically appears on his arm, closely followed by an attempt on his life, he no longer knows who to trust. Worse, the strange attraction he feels toward a foreign slave could be another trap. As events unravel, too fast,Ashamet must find out if this innocent young male is a tool for his enemies–or the magic key to his survival.
“Ashamet, Desert-Born” is a debut adventure fantasy with an exotic Arabian-style setting and elements of same-sex romance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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Terry Jackman was christened Teresa, and is married with kids. She’s not pretending to be a guy just for the book. It’s just that nobody, but nobody, calls her anything but Terry, so Terry is actually the most honest name to put on the cover.
To go with her two names she inhabits two worlds. In one she’s a mild-mannered lady who tutors children and lives in a pretty English village, called Lymm. [It’s not far from the Manchester United football ground. You can take a peek at it onwww.lymmvillage.co.uk/gallery If you look carefully at the picture of the old stone cross in the village centre you might see the ancient stocks below, where villagers would have thrown rotten eggs etc at local miscreants – but we don’t do that now, honest.]
In the other, she’s written articles and study guides, is secretly on the committee of the British Science Fiction Association, coordinates all their online writers’ groups, writes a regular page for Focus magazine and reads submissions for Albedo One magazine in Ireland. Oh, and has been known to do convention panels and some freelance editing.
When Ashamet goes public the two worlds will finally collide. She suspects there’ll be some raised eyebrows so she’s stocking up on fortifying tea and biscuits – and lots of chocolate!

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