05 Aug 2013

Malla Duncan: Fat Chance

4 Comments Book Reviews

 fat-chance2“Fat Chance” by Malla Duncan was recommended to me by a friend. Not usually a friend of humorous crime fiction I reluctantly followed her recommendation and was pleasantly surprised to find a book that made me laugh a lot.
We are in Italy and are following the investigation of a serial murder of fat women. Besides the police detectives there are a group of colourful fat women doing their own snooping amongst the suspects
The sense of humour really worked for me, I thought those characters were brilliantly chosen and the solving of the murder was cleverer than I had anticipated.
This is a great beach read, highly amusing.

“This delightful, witty story moves at a spirited pace, with Malla Duncan’s talent for description transporting the reader not only to the warmth and beauty of the Amalfi Coast, but into the middle of a great mystery.”

“I absolutely adore this book! It’s witty, intelligent, humorous (I laughed out loud often), suspenseful, has twists and turns, is set in Italy (who doesn’t love the Amalfi Coast?), and is without a doubt well-written. The details, the setting, the characters, the story – all  fantastic.”

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What made you decide to be a writer? Have you always written?

 

Writing began for me at the age of seven when I wrote a poem because it popped into my head. Once I had discovered the joy of creativity and power words can give you, I was hooked. I wrote screeds of poetry after that – inspired oddly enough by the great war poets of the 1st World War – Sassoon, Brooke, Owen. I eventually wrote my first short story at the age of seventeen and achieved publication in a local magazine when I was nineteen.

 

I think one desires to become a writer rather than decides. They say writing is a drive that shows itself at a very young age. Often it’s a hankering for something you’re not quite sure of – then gradually this feeling hones to a compulsion that sees you spending chunks of time by yourself with the people in your head. You don’t always see an end – you just want to conquer the characters – to bring them out whole and vibrant on paper in a way that makes them seem real and memorable.

 

How did you come up with the idea for Fat Chance?

 

Fat Chance grew out of desperation. I had written children’s books, horror, women’s thrillers – and struggled for years with agents and rejection. Finally I thought I was writing the wrong thing. I needed to try a new genre. Friends told me: ‘Write something funny. You can do funny.’ So I chewed that over. Then I thought that people also like recipe books. Imagine combining funny and food! What a combination! (Been done before, I know, but I was overwhelmed by the magnificence of my idea.)

 

Then I expanded possibility by adding murder as a factor – this book was going to spoof all those formulaic thriller novels out there. Yes! Once I got to this point I knew I would combine murder and recipes. Couldn’t be better. Then Marsha pushed into view: one of those rather overpowering characters who nurse all sorts of secret doubts about themselves. When Milly joined her, equally large but rather timid, I knew I had a novel.

 

I lined up a recipe designer and we were off! Except the designer was never able to get around to those puddings – so the recipe part was ditched and ‘Fat Chance’ was born as a comedy murder mystery laced through with the universally identifiable problems of food and fatness.

 

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

 

Characters are like babies – once you’ve brought them out they’re pretty much with you for the rest of your life. I’ve always believed that your characters shouldn’t be anything like you as the author – they should be entirely different. The writer is simply the vehicle through which people and situations are brought to the reader’s attention.

 

If I had to choose a favourite character from one of my books, I would choose Ilsa Joubert from ‘Deep As Bone’ – my first psychological thriller. Ilsa is a dark little number, somewhat sly and underhand, a plotter and manipulator who doesn’t really let you know much about her – it’s only looking back over the book that the pieces fit together. And yet the great thing about Ilsa is that you can’t help liking her. I liked her in the beginning when she seemed good, then I liked her when she got bad, and when she got really, really bad – liked her even more. I’m probably as puzzled by this as the reader.

 

Tell us about your other books.

 

‘Deep As Bone’ was my first adult book of any substance that I actually completed. A London agent loved it but was unable to sell it. Many new writers don’t realize that just cracking an agent is not the end of the story – the agent then has to sell your book to a publisher and goes through all the difficulties that a writer experiences in trying to attract an agent in the first instance. Most publishers are wary of unknown names and wary of books that are too ‘unique’ – books that don’t have what they consider follow-up value. Many publishers will say that they want ‘something different’ but not so different that the writer cannot write at least six others in the same in look, feel and tone.

 

‘Dark Sanctuary’ became my next offering but was – as everybody had feared – completely different in feel and tone. I deliberately cut the writing to short and snappy, a modern thriller tone because I thought that way I would be more engaging and acceptable – but I was still unsuccessful because by the time I had finished with the rewrites the agent requested, I had a different book altogether – and nobody was happy.

 

‘Catchee Monkey’ was my third offering – an ambitious book that wanted to capture a sense of neurosis in the main character, a touch of paranoia which would add beautifully to the mystery: is she right about her husband trying to kill her – or is she just plain nuts? But now the agent didn’t like the characters – who granted were somewhat dark and irritable, but to my mind very much reflections of real life. So at this point agent and author parted ways, a tad distressed.

 

Since then, I have gone on to write humorous books for African children – the Miki series. There are few books out there for African children at affordable prices. I also began a fantasy series for children The Shadow Garden series and Book I is on all sites as ‘The Vampire Castle’. I also wrote in 2012 what I consider my last thriller offering: ‘One Night’ written exactly the way I wanted to do it and a book that I was happy to publish straight to the Net.

 

How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?

 

Self-publishing has been an exhilarating experience. I absolutely loved it – loved being able to write without interference, enjoyed the learning curve on formatting, thoroughly adored deciding on my own covers. That said, for any kind of success you have work at marketing continually – otherwise your book is going to hang like a lightless star in cyber space. It’s all about keeping traction on social media – and of course, writing the right kind of material that is popular on the Net. I would never advise people not to self-publish – it’s one of the great joys afforded to writers – but be prepared for disappointment. Not many people make money with ebooks. Those that do are lucky. I don’t think there’s a secret magic formula – but what I do know is that any clever person who comes up with a way for self-published writers to connect more successfully with readers, should be dipped in gold.

 

What is your advice to new writers?

 

If I had to mention all the things I’ve learnt over many years of writing, I’d fill a book! So I’ll just offer a couple of pointers on key aspects I’ve struggled to master:

 

1) Your point of beginning is key. Where in the story will you begin? How much back story are you leaving yourself to write? How will you get that across without spending pages talking about the past? Really good writers always have an intriguing beginning. They also manage to lay scene and character and back story neatly in about three pages or less. Or they cleverly interlace the back elements into the current text. This was for me, the most difficult part of novel writing to get to grips with. Often I would be at chapter four and suddenly realize that the beginning was entirely wrong and needed to be redone from a different point in time or point of view. It’s nothing to panic about – but as you gain experience and confidence, you will develop a ‘nose’ for this and it will get easier. Eventually, I found the prologue structure extremely helpful in laying out a snippet of back story that would ‘lead’ the rest of the book without cumbersome explanations.

 

2) Your reader is not stupid. Readers pick up the elements of the story, scene and tone very quickly – so don’t tell them the same thing twice. Every page should introduce new information that takes the story forward. That goes for dialogue as well. There is nothing worse than pedestrian conversation – kills a novel stone dead. Everything your characters say must be relevant to the story. If you don’t keep tight control here, your characters can wander off into idle talk and it’s really difficult to bring them back. Don’t waste space on the page. Add behaviour and description into conversation – this develops characters as they speak – ie: He wasn’t smiling but there was a cheeky glint in his eye.

 

3) Writing is always about the re-writing. Get to like editing because initially it’s going to be about two thirds of your work.

 

How do you handle criticism of your work?

 

Fortunately, most of the feedback I’ve had so far on my writing has been positive. But there’s hardly a writer out there that doesn’t get the nasty little one star from time to time. I got a one star on one of my books because it wasn’t for free! So no matter what you do there’s always someone who might not like your story or your style – or who, for that matter, may just want to hurt you because you have written something really good.

 

As a copywriter, I learnt to take criticism in my stride otherwise I couldn’t have done my job. But criticism is also good. If I do feel a reader has a point, or enough readers come back with the same complaint, I will always look at my work again and try to rectify the problem. All writers should only have one aim – and that is to continually improve. Readers who take the time to connect can be very helpful. I for one, am very grateful to those who take the time to give feedback.

 

What are you working on now?

 

Several things fill my head at any one time. At the moment I’m considering Book II of The Shadow Garden series as Book I ‘The Vampire Castle’ is selling so well. I’m also in the middle of a paranormal murder mystery that I might continue soon. And of course, I’m looking at a sequel to ‘Fat Chance’.

 

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.

 

I can tell you that in one statement: Table Mountain. I live in its shadow. The weird thing is that I never get used to it. I look at it in wonder every day. It has been an inspiration to much of my writing in all sorts of ways: moody under cloud it’s good for mystery; draped in misty wraiths it’s good for dark fantasy; and clear-cut against the sunset just makes the imagination soar!

 

 

About this author

Malla Duncan lives in Cape Town and writes across a range of genres from women’s thrillers ‘women-in-jeopardy’ to children’s fantasy, romantic adventure and humor for African children. Her thrillers focus on ordinary, flawed women in extraordinary circumstances. Fast-paced for intrigue and tension, her novels are geared for readers who enjoy mystery and suspense.

You can find Malla at Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/vi… 
You can join Malla on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Malla-D…
Follow on Twitter: @MallaDuncan
Find on Amazon: http://tiny.cc/tshiyw

http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Chance-ebook/dp/B0080R8ISG/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375024398&sr=1-3

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fat-Chance-ebook/dp/B0080R8ISG/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375024427&sr=1-2

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4955686.Malla_Duncan

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13595927-fat-chance

 

 

 

28 Jul 2013

“Everyone Burns” by John Dolan

1 Comment Book Reviews

130720 EVERYONE BURNS REVISED EBOOK COVER

 

Everyone Burns by John Dolan

It is January 2005 and the charred remains of two Europeans have been discovered on the Thai island of Samui.

Local Police Chief Charoenkul, sidelined by his superiors, enlists the reluctant David Braddock, a burnt-out private detective, to assist in an ‘unofficial’ investigation.

But Braddock has problems of his own, including an affair with the same Police Chief’s wife …

Peppered with irreverent humour and some pithy comments on everyday life in the Land of Smiles, ‘Everyone Burns’ is much more than a crime novel. It is also a carefully-crafted psychological study of an anti-hero for our time

My review:

“Everyone Burns” by John Dolan was recommended to me by several friends.
The story is about a British Private Investigator and counsellor David Braddock who lives in Thailand to make his money stretch further. Braddock is a very interesting, washed out and overall really great character whom to follow is hugely entertaining. Although he has marital problems and a lot of depth there is a dubious and not so serious side to him.
Braddock gets asked by the police to assist in the investigation of a series of murders. At the same time he is being sent anonymous notes, suggesting blackmail, pointing at his affair with the wife of a colleague.
I can picture a film made from this book and I would ideally cast a Humphrey Bogard in B&W in it but fans of the genre will probably have better suggestions.
What I liked most about the book is Dolan’s writing. He is clever, perceptive and very witty. Each chapter has literary or philosophical quotations as headings and they are apt to the chapters as they bear witness to a very well read and educated writer, almost “wasted” in a crime story. I am certain that I missed lots of great references and in-jokes that pay tribute to Sherlock Holmes and other famous crime fiction but I really enjoyed the book even without catching all of them.
This book should do very well.

 

For an interview please go to my blog

 

http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com

 

http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/john-dolan-everyone-burns/

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25 Jul 2013

Supernatural Seduction : Coffin Girls II by Aneesa Price

Comments Off on Supernatural Seduction : Coffin Girls II by Aneesa Price Review

NEW RELEASE BY ANEESA PRICE:

SUPERNATURAL SEDUCTION:18218817 (1)

This is an adult paranormal romance and contains scenes of explicit sex, violence and strong language.

Sophie is an empath and vampire with the power to feel and influence others’ emotions. With the establishment of the Coffin Girls as witch-vampires that kick ass and warriors for the Goddess, the effects of her empath abilities threaten to harm her. Sylvain, the mischievous and seductive fae prince and Coffin Girls ally, offers her the assistance of the fae to hone her powers. Sophie is drawn to Sylvain, which unnerves her as her hope for love has only ever led to devastation. The two of them must face the demons of their past, unknown enemies and new evil to find true happiness at last.

My review of Supernatural Seduction:

“Supernatural Seduction” by Aneesa Price is the second instalment of her Coffin Girls series, a fun filled, chick-lit, paranormal extravaganza with suspense and fantastic characters. The Coffin Girls are a group of supernatural/ paranormal girl warriors with individual blends of witch-craft and empathetic powers. 
Witch-vampire Sophie is the centre of this book, as is her romantic interest in the dubious fae prince Sylvain a handsome man with seductive powers that have given him a bit of a reputation. 
The book starts with what appears a trap for the coffin girls and introduces the problem of changelings who take the place of the real person and infiltrate the warrior group. I won’t spoil the plot by telling you much more.
In this series Aneesa Price has established a great bunch of characters that are the foundation for all the flirtation, action, adventure and magick. I love Miss Suzette, one of the year-wise younger characters who however has a biological older appearance and who mothers everyone. Then there is the sorceress Arianna, another interesting and memorable character. 
A lot of thought has gone into this book; Price is not just another vampire writer. Her thoughtfulness and depth reveals itself in many great passages, such as one scene where the use of herbs in both magic and homoeopathy is being discussed. I also loved the dream sequences that reveal key scenes of Sophie’s past, which were very well done without laying on symbolism or being too obvious (as so often seems to happen in dream sequences in books)
As Sophie and Sylvain are getting closer to each other they are both faced with demons of their respective past, above mentioned dreams and their fears.
As the title suggests there are some erotic scenes and as the genre implies, there is some action and violence, the pace is not too fast, allowing the relationships to develop realistically and the sub-plots to unfold without rushing and forcing events.
Mainly, however, it is a great and very believable romance between unlikely yet likeable characters. Beautiful.

Book links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Supernatural-Seduction-Coffin-Series-ebook/dp/B00E1LF496

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/338802

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Author Biography

Aneesa Price writes romance and lives it with her university sweetheart and husband. After having surmounted the challenges of being in a bi-racial marriage in the newly democratic South Africa, she now attributes her marital bliss to purposefully added spice and passionately resolved differences. After living in a variety of cities in South Africa, as an expat, she’s ready to explore the world with her husband and two daughters.

Aneesa completed her internship in counseling psychology and went on to work first as a therapist and then in Corporate Finance in on projects and in organizational change. This diversity in experience, coupled with her understanding of the human psyche, is translated into her writing through the creation of believable, flawed characters with the innate ability to overcome adversity.

She writes to give her readers the gift of experiencing the new and fascinating, something she strives for herself when she explores new places, reads, cooks with her kids or goes picking for antiques with her husband.
She welcomes new connections so feel free to ‘friend’ her on facebook or follow her on twitter.

 

Connect with Aneesa:

Connect with Aneesa Price:

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Aneesa-Price/e/B008NA62CO

Facebook Fan Club: https://m.facebook.com/groups/390755617667441

Facebook Author and Reviewer Page:  https://www.facebook.com/AneesaPriceSugarandSpice

Twitter: www.twitter.com/aneesaprice

Blog: www.sugaryspicyreads.com

 

Book 1 of the Coffin Girls Series

Book link: http://www.amazon.com/Coffin-Girls-Elegantly-Undead-ebook/dp/B008N0GWVA

Blurb images

A sexy, female vampire with secrets. A sinfully-handsome witch prince on a mission. A formidable Vampire Council with something to hide. 

A vampire descendent from the original Coffin Girls, Anais runs a successful event and wedding planning business from her majestic New Orleans plantation house. To the Vampire Council, she is seen as an exemplary hostess and household head of a misfit bunch of vampires. 
When Yves, her maker and head of the Vampire Council requests her assistance in hosting the mysterious, yet dashing Prince of Witches, Conall, she has no option but to accept. But Anais is the keeper of secrets; secrets that can kill. Protective of her family’s undiscovered uniqueness, Anais is guarded, yet intrigued by the enigmatic witch prince.
Conall and Anais are drawn together when confronted with fatal encounters and an unimaginable destiny… if she’s willing to accept it and fight.

 

25 Jul 2013

Newsflash Christoph Fischer

1 Comment News

It has been an amazing week for my books. THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS received

5 reviews in 3 days with a staggering 24 out of 25 stars, bringing it to a total of 39 reviews on Amazon.com.

It also entered the US charts on Amazon.com for the first time 
#90 in Kindle Store / Kindle eBooks / Literature & Fiction / Jewish 425829_471091442942720_930460501_n

 

Oleg Medvedkov is one of the Top 300 (320) reviewers on Amazon, a successful blogger and renowned writer himself. His praise and the unexpected 5 star review have made my day.

http://www.amazon.com/review/R1QMSNE2W1FVXI/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00AFQC4QC&linkCode&nodeID&tag

as has this glowing review by Ashley Lee

http://www.amazon.com/review/RC1GTC6P42WIM/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00AFQC4QC&linkCode&nodeID&tag

quotes from the last 5 reviews

 

The suspense at several key points was masterfully done and I found myself holding my breath, tensing up and being unable to stop reading until I knew everyone was safe.

a really good book. the luck book

*****

absorbing and utterly convincing

a writer completely confident in his material and research.

Christoph is meticulous in his approach and has the gifts of a natural story teller. I suspect that this is only the first in a long line of must read books.

*****

an important historical rendition of wartime Eastern Europe that will continue to haunt you for a long time after you finish reading it.
…characters are all strong fictional creations that give life and credibility to the historical backdrop.
It is a touching story of courage, love and heroic endurance in a time of abject cruelty and terror.
The players in this drama are far from being two-dimensional; even the cold, unfeeling characters will at times show a glimmer of warmth.
Be prepared for emotional upheaval while reading this– you cannot remain untouched. 

My biggest fan

My biggest fan

*****

What this book reminds us of, is that the “quiet” and “acceptable” racism, just like the veiled racism we can often see just by looking outside of the window, is NOT acceptable. All it takes is one crazy ideology or an opportunistic politician, and we could still relieve the horrors of concentration camps and mass graves. Still, this is not a political book. It’s a human story, with love, betrayals, and hope. I don’t want to give away the spoilers, so do pick up this book and read it. You won’t be disappointed.

*****

This story – the tale of two families – will captivate readers immediately and hold them mesmerized until the final page.
It is a gripping tale and incredibly thrilling. Among all World War II historical fiction novels I would certainly place this within the must-read books.

I was enamored with this story and only regret that I read it so quickly. 8679_571267166258697_1624968188_n

This is a book that deserves to be read slowly and pleasurably.

*****

In other news:

THE LUCK OF THE WEISSENSTEINERS

is No. 5 at the http://www.theindietribe.com/category/top-fiction-books/ sebastian book

and SEBASTIAN is No. 2 

 

*****

As reviewer I have also news:

First I received this email:

On behalf of the Goodreads team, I want to say thank you.  You’re in the top 1% of reviewers on Goodreads! Your many thoughtful book reviews help make us a vibrant place for book lovers.

And our community has been growing! We now number more than 20 million members on Goodreads.

And then one of my preview reviews was chosen for netgalley with this note:

“This is a very powerful and stimulating read and rewarding with its intellectual depth . . .” Said Christoph Fischer, UK author, freelance editor and professional reviewer. “McGonall’s command of language is superb; whether it is casual conversation or speech between the gods and legacy members, he always finds the right tone to draw [readers] into that specific sphere or world . . . This is unlike other books I have read.”

 

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18 Jul 2013

“A World of Possibility” : A Short Story Collection by the Authors of ASMSG

1 Comment Book Reviews

18144783

 

A truly eclectic offering of short stories ranging from humorous and inspirational to dark and frightening, A World of Possibility presents the work of many authors in the group ASMSG, or  Authors’ Social Media Support Group, and each author’s link is provided for your further review of their other work. We hope you enjoy the diversity, laugh, cry, shiver, or look behind you once or twice as you read.

The Authors’ Social Media Support Group (ASMSG) is proud to present the 1st Authors of ASMSG Short Story Anthology under the title A World of Possibility. ASMSG represents a membership of authors throughout the globe, so we found the title of the book and it’s cover appropriate. Inside, you’ll find twenty-six stories of pain, pleasure, anger, despair, fear, love, hatred, passion, and hope. Stories of historic inspiration to the edge of current affairs. Stories that will occupy your thoughts when you turn the lights out, or dance on your mind as you arise with the sun. We hope you will enjoy them

Reviews:

A World of Possibility” is a wonderful selection of short stories of a remarkably consistent high quality of writing throughout the entire book.
Always unsure what you get from an anthology that includes unknown writers I was glad to be captivated by the opening piece, “The Jumper”, and the mystery what said jumper represented in the story.
The book takes us through worlds past and present, into the minds of a killer, victims of abuse, to a possibly haunted Inn, into the past of shipping at Cap Cod in the 1869 or to Germany after WWII.
Not one of the stories failed to grab my attention, something that I find rare in anthologies and which I accredit to good editing and selection processes.
The situations described are inspired, captivating and provide amazing entertainment as well as food for thought.
I have noted down several of the names in the hope to find more of their work in novel form, my personally preferred genre.
This is an excellent showcase of writing talent and I wish all contributors the very best for their promising futures.
Highly recommended.

*****

What a wonderful collection of stories, showcasing the talents of many new authors. The stories range, as do the emotions and visuals they invoke. This is the perfect book to read when you only have a few moments… that five minutes waiting for the bus, ten minutes waiting to pick someone up… the perfect collection for everyone.

*****

“A World of Possibility”, an anthology of short fiction by ASMSG Goodreads authors compiled by Christopher Shields, is a heterogeneous blend of vibrant writers. We find stories of all genres ranging from Kirstin Pulioff’s tale of a young boy and girl unearthing a deadly buried treasure, to Yelle Hughes’ detailed account of a journalist’s sexual experience while interviewing a porn star. Alan Hardy’s sad depiction of a marriage gone stale also deals with sexual frustration.
Criminal acts, both present and past, abound: Iain Parke’s Lala Salaama is masterful with its gruesome depiction of the methodical butchering of a human body.
Ghosts, spirits and vampires make an appearance in quite a few stories. Susan Hawthorne’s description of how the spirit of a long-dead boyfriend takes over the body of a younger man in order to entertain his now elderly lover is captivating.
Each story had the power to transport the reader to another reality and to leave strong imprints of each character. Well done ASMSG authors! I bow to the talent in all of you.
*****

For more on the book on Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18144783-a-world-of-possibility

Download it now on Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/335901

For more on the Author Alliance:

http://asmsg.weebly.com/

6643379 6055453

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alliance Founder R. Grey Hoover

 

 

Editor Christopher Shield

 

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