11 Jan 2015

Review: “Destiny Nexus (Shimmer In The Dark series 2)” by Ceri London #asmsg

2 Comments Book Reviews, News

Ceri 1“Destiny Nexus (Shimmer In The Dark series 2)” by Ceri London is the excellent and well constructed second book in her space opera series that shines with its masterful suspense, great depth and scientific competence. 

 

The scenarios are thought through and convincing, Niall a fascinating character with many talents and sides to him and the book is rich in plot and intrigue.
London is clearly not a one-trick pony and has many more up her sleeve as far as her stories go. Governmental politics (with some great references to current Earthly affairs), alien immigrants, time portals, telepathic powers, an evil nemesis, threats to Niall’s family and to himself – this really is a fireworks of excellent ideas, put together professionally with attention for detail, tight editing and great use of language.

 

I’m not a huge fan of science fiction and find myself bored easily. This reeled me in depite the late hours I was reading it and the multiple distractions and interruptions.
Truly remarkable.

Blurb/Synopsis:

“This man isn’t the exclusive property of the US any longer. He is answerable to the world.”

Major Niall Kearey is the only man capable of bridging space-time to create portals across the known universe. His government and the US military exploit his abilities, a secret society incites global unease in a bid to control him, and the alien refugees he smuggled to Earth revere him as the fulfillment of ancient prophecy.

Under threat of exposure, a potential one-man weapon of mass destruction, Niall and his family are forced back into hiding. Struggling to protect his wife and children, honor his oath to God and country, Kearey discovers he’s attracted the attention of a devourer of worlds – the legendary Balor – an enemy so powerful it enslaves or destroys everyone in its path.

The world needs Niall Kearey and his abilities, but the shady politics and dirty maneuverings of Earth’s power-brokers have tied his hands. Shackled by the unceasing suspicion and assaults on his liberty, Niall desperately seeks a means to protect planet Earth against the ancient predator hunting him down. Whether Balor’s purpose is Apocalypse or invasion, the threat escalates as Niall realizes the answer to the future lies in the past—his past.

How far can one man travel to preserve a world that has turned on him? Niall must accept his destiny as the nexus – a magnet for destructive forces and possibly mankind’s last hope for salvation.

An exploration of love and betrayal with the high-octane pace of military thriller, Destiny Nexus stretches a man’s moral fiber to breaking point and changes him forever. This action-packed sequel continues the epic space opera saga introduced in Rogue Genesis.

Book Links

 Ceri 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazon

 

Author Information Ceri 5

Ceri London (pen name) is an author of science fiction / fantasy who has just published the second volume in her Shimmer In The Dark series. She is a member of ASMSG, a league of international writers.

Back on Earth, life is very normal. Ceri lives in the UK, is married, a mother of two girls, and a piano tutor following a fifteen year career in IT within the international financial industry. She holds a BSc Honors degree in Chemistry & Computer Science, but acknowledges that in no way provides her any authority with regards to the science in her fiction writing, relying on research and drawing on the experience of others far more qualified.

Looking forward, Ceri is committed to completing her Shimmer In The Dark series and developing a range of related short stories and spin off novels.

Author Links

 

Amazon Author Page

Smashwords Author Page

Website

 Facebook Page

Goodreads

Google+

Twitter

Author Email: cerlondon@yahoo.com

Link to my interview with Ceri 

 

Other Work Ceri 6

Destiny Nexus is the sequel to Rogue GenesisRogue Genesis is the first book in Ceri London’s Shimmer In The Dark series and can be read as a standalone novel.

“I’ve loved developing the characters from Rogue Genesis and have introduced a few more as Niall discovers his heritage and unravels the threat of an alien predator hunting him across the cosmos. I’m now looking forward to developing a cast of new alien characters in Galacticus Elecion, the third book in the series.” Ceri London.

Rogue Genesis Blurb/Synopsis:

One man. Two worlds separated by a universe. Space-time warped by black holes. In the passing of seconds on Earth, Major Niall Kearey has witnessed the birth and death of generations on Astereal. His mind shortcuts light years to visit a fantastical world of floating sky cities populated by telepaths.

Astereal is in decline, the dueling forces of black holes threaten extinction. Ancient prophecy predicts their interstellar visitor brings salvation. As Niall faces the staggering truth – that his alien dream world is real – he and his family are targeted by secret societies, scheming politicians, and the US military.

Time is running out as Astereal races towards annihilation and temporal alignment with Earth. Power brokers vie for control of his capabilities. Niall must act, balancing the needs of Earth, his family, and the alien civilization he has come to know and love. The fate of two worlds rests on Niall Kearey’s shoulders.

 

My review:

“Rogue Genesis” by Ceri London is a complex, highly intelligent and competently written Science Fiction / fantasy thriller. I don’t often read Science Fiction and only let my curiosity get the better of me because several of my friends raved about this book. They were right to do so.

The story is based on a excellent idea: A man from Earth who kind of lives in two worlds at the same time.
The other world, Astereal, is in danger because the fragile balance of black holes holding it in place is coming loose. The concept of time folds, time warps, astral travel or whatever phrase you would like to use for this double excistence is highly original, fascinating and certainly unique. It made the story stand out from others in the genre just for that. With this creative set up, the subplots and the competent military/ technological writing it is impossible to find fault with this book.

Our protagonist, US Air Force Major Niall Kearey, is a splendid character with his own family life, deep thought and with – literally – A LOT on his overloaded mind. The way the author blends the telepathic fantasy side with more technological science fiction and fantasy is brilliant and made me think that maybe I should read scifi books more often. This is a far cry from repetitive and formulaic writing; this novel is innovative and therefore hugely rewarding.
It is also a gripping thriller, a family story and simply a must read.

 

02 Jan 2015

New Release: “Destiny Nexus (Shimmer In The Dark, Volume: 2)” by Ceri London #asmsg

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      Ceri 1Destiny Nexus (Shimmer In The Dark, Vol 2) by Ceri London

 

I’m really looking forward to reading this. The genre is a bit of a hit and miss for me but Ceri’s first book in the series, “Rogue Genesis” really took me by surprise with its excellent characters, research and a brilliant premise. I’ve added my review of “Rogue Genesis” at the end of this post.

“Destiny Nexus” has big shoes to fill. 

 

 

Blurb/Synopsis:

“This man isn’t the exclusive property of the US any longer. He is answerable to the world.”

Major Niall Kearey is the only man capable of bridging space-time to create portals across the known universe. His government and the US military exploit his abilities, a secret society incites global unease in a bid to control him, and the alien refugees he smuggled to Earth revere him as the fulfillment of ancient prophecy.

Under threat of exposure, a potential one-man weapon of mass destruction, Niall and his family are forced back into hiding. Struggling to protect his wife and children, honor his oath to God and country, Kearey discovers he’s attracted the attention of a devourer of worlds – the legendary Balor – an enemy so powerful it enslaves or destroys everyone in its path.

The world needs Niall Kearey and his abilities, but the shady politics and dirty maneuverings of Earth’s power-brokers have tied his hands. Shackled by the unceasing suspicion and assaults on his liberty, Niall desperately seeks a means to protect planet Earth against the ancient predator hunting him down. Whether Balor’s purpose is Apocalypse or invasion, the threat escalates as Niall realizes the answer to the future lies in the past—his past.

How far can one man travel to preserve a world that has turned on him? Niall must accept his destiny as the nexus – a magnet for destructive forces and possibly mankind’s last hope for salvation.

An exploration of love and betrayal with the high-octane pace of military thriller, Destiny Nexus stretches a man’s moral fiber to breaking point and changes him forever. This action-packed sequel continues the epic space opera saga introduced in Rogue Genesis.

Book Links

 Ceri 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazon

 

Author Information Ceri 5

Ceri London (pen name) is an author of science fiction / fantasy who has just published the second volume in her Shimmer In The Dark series. She is a member of ASMSG, a league of international writers.

Back on Earth, life is very normal. Ceri lives in the UK, is married, a mother of two girls, and a piano tutor following a fifteen year career in IT within the international financial industry. She holds a BSc Honors degree in Chemistry & Computer Science, but acknowledges that in no way provides her any authority with regards to the science in her fiction writing, relying on research and drawing on the experience of others far more qualified.

Looking forward, Ceri is committed to completing her Shimmer In The Dark series and developing a range of related short stories and spin off novels.

Author Links

 

Amazon Author Page

Smashwords Author Page

Website

 Facebook Page

Goodreads

Google+

Twitter

Author Email: cerlondon@yahoo.com

Link to my interview with Ceri 

 

 

 

Other Work Ceri 6

Destiny Nexus is the sequel to Rogue GenesisRogue Genesis is the first book in Ceri London’s Shimmer In The Dark series and can be read as a standalone novel.

“I’ve loved developing the characters from Rogue Genesis and have introduced a few more as Niall discovers his heritage and unravels the threat of an alien predator hunting him across the cosmos. I’m now looking forward to developing a cast of new alien characters in Galacticus Elecion, the third book in the series.” Ceri London.

Rogue Genesis Blurb/Synopsis:

One man. Two worlds separated by a universe. Space-time warped by black holes. In the passing of seconds on Earth, Major Niall Kearey has witnessed the birth and death of generations on Astereal. His mind shortcuts light years to visit a fantastical world of floating sky cities populated by telepaths.

Astereal is in decline, the dueling forces of black holes threaten extinction. Ancient prophecy predicts their interstellar visitor brings salvation. As Niall faces the staggering truth – that his alien dream world is real – he and his family are targeted by secret societies, scheming politicians, and the US military.

Time is running out as Astereal races towards annihilation and temporal alignment with Earth. Power brokers vie for control of his capabilities. Niall must act, balancing the needs of Earth, his family, and the alien civilization he has come to know and love. The fate of two worlds rests on Niall Kearey’s shoulders.

 

My review:

“Rogue Genesis” by Ceri London is a complex, highly intelligent and competently written Science Fiction / fantasy thriller. I don’t often read Science Fiction and only let my curiosity get the better of me because several of my friends raved about this book. They were right to do so.

The story is based on a excellent idea: A man from Earth who kind of lives in two worlds at the same time.
The other world, Astereal, is in danger because the fragile balance of black holes holding it in place is coming loose. The concept of time folds, time warps, astral travel or whatever phrase you would like to use for this double excistence is highly original, fascinating and certainly unique. It made the story stand out from others in the genre just for that. With this creative set up, the subplots and the competent military/ technological writing it is impossible to find fault with this book.

Our protagonist, US Air Force Major Niall Kearey, is a splendid character with his own family life, deep thought and with – literally – A LOT on his overloaded mind. The way the author blends the telepathic fantasy side with more technological science fiction and fantasy is brilliant and made me think that maybe I should read scifi books more often. This is a far cry from repetitive and formulaic writing; this novel is innovative and therefore hugely rewarding.
It is also a gripping thriller, a family story and simply a must read.

 

17 Oct 2014

“Things aren’t always as they seem…” – a fantastic review of my new book “Conditions”

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I had the perfect start to my day when I found this ever so thoughtful and very kind review of “Conditions”. The endorsement comes from a talented writer and a woman with a background on social and behavioural sciences. Not that this should matter, since any praise and feedback is naturally welcome but read for yourself. 
Thank you Anna Burke and everyone for  your support and sharing the journey with me.
Here is the review:

Things aren’t always as they seem…We humans seem to love to name things, sort and tuck them neatly into categories. I get it. It’s a way for a busy, crowded brain to sift through and assimilate massive amounts of information in a reasonable amount of time. Can you imagine a world where every situation or event is taken on the face of it as a completely new and original one? It’s a kind of shorthand we use, an important and very basic capacity that lays the foundation for language and history and science and just getting through the day.

When it comes to people, we like to do the same thing. Despite that admonition not to judge a book by its cover, we often do just that. Peg people based on a superficial or incomplete understanding of who they are. For humans, labels, at best, convey something narrow and delimited about a particular aspect of an individual’s nature or status. That ‘shorthand’ strategy may not serve us quite so well.

All of this is a bit of a windup in order to place Christoph Fischer’s latest book, Conditions, in context. It’s an unassuming book that takes a thoughtful and intimate look at some very weighty subjects. One of those ‘slice of life’ stories, it captures interactions among a group of family and friends brought together by a key life event. In this case the death of the mother to Charles and Tony. The two brothers, struggling toward middle age, are central figures in the book. They couldn’t be more different, on the face of it. Tony is the successful responsible older brother, with a job, a mortgage, a wife and children. Charles, on the other hand, is a single man with a serious and persistent mental illness who, at times, is unable to even care for himself. Fischer’s book asks us to beware, however, of pigeon-holing these two brothers and tagging one as ‘normal’ and successful and the other as, well, less.

If labels are less than ideal when it comes to dealing with people, they’re even trickier when using them as a way to make sense out of the life and experience of persons with mental health conditions. Fischer doesn’t go there in his book. He sets aside the matter of naming Charles’ disorder, leaves it open-ended. I think that makes the man’s condition a far more interesting—less a mental patient and more a human being facing his own limitations and trying to understand those of others. Like his brother. One of the big hurdles someone with a severe mental illness faces is the social distance created by difference. By avoiding the use of labels, Fischer closes the social distance between the two brothers, especially when some of Tony’s life struggles are revealed. On some level he and his brother are the same—two men looking for ways to deal with the problems of living.

The book provides glimpses into the challenges placed upon a person with a mental illness—challenges that impinge on friends and family, too. The helpless feeling those around Charles experience, at times, is all too familiar to anyone with a friend or family member like Charles. The brief descriptions of Charles’ encounters with the mental health system speak for themselves. After thirty years in the social and behavioral sciences, it’s a disappointment to me that we know so little, and fail to use what we do know, to support individuals with mental illness. Charles, for all the challenges of his condition, is a lucky man. In most any big city, or big city jail, it’s not hard to find with those like Charles who are less fortunate.

Bravo to Christoph Fischer for writing this gently provocative book. This book is recommended for readers who enjoy family sagas and stories about humans trying to do their best to figure it all out.

Find the book

On Facebook: http://ow.ly/C0ZqX

On Amazon: http://smarturl.it/CONDITIONSCFF

On Goodreads: http://ow.ly/C0Ziw

Connect with Christoph 922159_10151345337037132_1303709604_o

Website: http://www.christophfischerbooks.com/

Blog: http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6590171.Christoph_Fischer

Amazon: http://ow.ly/BtveY

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CFFBooks

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/christophffisch/

Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/106213860775307052243

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=241333846

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WriterChristophFischer?ref=hl

Conditions Book_marketing2-lrg

When Charles and Tony’s mother dies the estranged brothers must struggle to pick up the pieces, particularly so given that one of them is mentally challenged and the other bitter about his place within the family. The conflict is drawn out over materialistic issues, but there are other underlying problems which go to the heart of what it means to be part of a family which, in one way or another. has cast one aside. Prejudice, misconceptions and the human condition in all forms feature in this contemporary drama revolving around a group of people who attend the subsequent funeral at the British South Coast. Meet flamboyant gardener Charles, loner Simon, selfless psychic Elaine, narcissistic body-builder Edgar, Martha and her version of unconditional love and many others as they try to deal with the event and its aftermath.

04 May 2014

Adriano Bulla: The Road To London

2 Comments Book Reviews

Through a Goodreads Discussion Group I came across “The Road To London” by Adriano Bulla, which was Book of the Month.  The book was up against a traditionally published and commercially successful book but to my surprise I clearly preferred “The Road to London.” 
It is a very artistic account of a personal journey, from youth to growing up, from Italy to London, from in the closet  to being ” out”, from group member to individual. 18990618

Told in an episodic narrative the book also includes poems, music lyrics and letters. 


A light… A birth… A journey… An escape-not just from the whispering noise of expectations but from the growing awareness of a different life, a different path, a different quest. The greatest love letters are written in prose but bring forth the poet’s heart, awakening in the receiver an equal passion-or so the writer hopes. This love letter tells the story of how I reach London, how I reach you, My Dear, how I come to love so deeply, so truly and completely. The journey was not easy, beloved. I faced many ugly trials on this narrow path-but also tests that were… Fun, naughty, spicy and the stuff of memories which will make me smile into my old age, whether you are with me or not. I have no regrets, My Dear, except one… Just one…

I fed off the athmosphere and the compelling tone of the writer and am glad to present him today in an interview.

ME
Tell us a little about yourself as writer and as person.

As a writer, I love experimenting: I could never stick to a format, a style or a structure. I have to try something new every time I write. I also have big issues with the whole idea of ‘genre’… I don’t have any problems mixing different genres, even mixing prose and poetry, I don’t want to be constrained by predetermined rules, and I hope I never will. As a person… That’s harder to say. I am actually a joker. I know people who know me as a writer think I’m dead serious, but the reality is that I can turn anything into a joke, in particular into innuendos. I can’t help it.

Tell us about your writing history. When was the first time you decided to write and when was the first time you did?

I started writing poetry as an adolescent; I guess I did it in order to create a world I alone could understand. Like most teenagers, I was, and in many ways still am, afflicted by angst, and like most teenagers I had no one to talk to about the deep uncertainties that were troubling me: confusion about my own identity as a person, especially because I was leading the life of a bohemian young man outwardly, yet, deep inside,  I felt totally insecure about who I was, both in terms of my intellectual identity, fought if you wish between James Joyce and Pink Floyd, and, of course, my sexuality, as I never fully identified with a typical gay man, but never really felt I was straight either. I was a boy suspended between contradictory realities and without the courage to come clean about either of these worlds, so, I created my own world, an almost impenetrable world of words.

Tell us about your book and how it came about.

I had never thought I would be writing a novel until she (The Road to London is a ‘she’) came to me unexpectedly, like most beautiful things, while dancing in a gay night club in London. The words just started coming to me, and they did so for a couple of months, every Friday night, and I simply wrote them down when I got home on a Saturday (or Sunday). The whole novel was born in club, apart from the last chapter, which I wrote on a sunny day sitting on a bench in the Rookery, a park in South London near where I live. The difference between The Road to London and my poems is that the novel is open to the reader: although she is in both prose and poetry, I think she is accessible. My poems were written as a way of hiding from the world, The Road to London was written as a way of talking to the world.

When did you decide to publish your story?

The Road to London was first meant to be published in 2008, I had a publisher, but the recession hit and they folded. Then I left her in a drawer for years, till I hit rock bottom: in 20013, I found myself in a state of total and utter depression, I had lost all confidence in myself, and was about to do something very silly. But then, the very first words of the novel came back to me, ‘Yes, I will, yes. I will save the world, the universe and you.’ I myself had never fully understood what they meant. I’d never worked out who ‘you’ was. In a way, I am sure that ‘you’ is my best friend, Stephane, to whom the novel is dedicated, but I also think that ‘you’ can be me… What I mean is that the novel gave me a reason to live, to pick myself up and show to myself that I was not worthless, that there was still something I had to do in this world, that I still had words I wanted to share with other people. So, I looked for another publisher; I must say that I was lucky, as it did not take long before I received offers, and ended up choosing Glastonbury Publishing / Mirador because they ‘gave me good vibes.’

Did anyone influence you / encourage you to become a writer?

Lots of my Italian friends have always believed that I was ‘wasted’ as a teacher and should become a full-time writer, and I have kept them waiting for years and years. One in particular, Daniele, has been nagging me to publish for a long time now, but I am at heart a very shy person, and because The Road to London does have some autobiographical elements (though it is by no means my autobiography, as some people seem to believe), I hesitated for a long time. On the other hand, I don’t think I could write about something in any credible way if I had not lived it myself, so, for example, even if the story of the Boy in the novel is not my own, lots of his dreams are actually ones I have had.

Would you say there is a message in your books beyond the story? Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers? Are you happy with the reception so far?

Yes,  there is a message beyond the story: The Road to London is a cry for freedom, the freedom to be whoever you want to be, the protagonist, whom readers simply call the Boy, grows up un a very homophobic environment; he is not a perfect person, not at all, in fact, in his early life, he is himself a bully, and, having enjoyed the approval and respect of his friends as a leader in his small ‘gang’, he finds it hard to admit to himself that there are areas of his personality, in particular his sexuality, which do not conform to expectations. In a world where boys are meant to be dominant and masculine, his gay and fetishist/ submissive sexuality is something he cannot admit to himself. Thus, he finds himself divided between his thirst for social acceptance and his need to be himself. This is possibly why he starts lying not just to his friends and family, but to himself, then seeks shelter in his dreams, by which I don’t mean his ambitions, but the dreams he has at night, yet, the days remain grey and offer no space where he can express himself, so, he starts taking drugs and drinking excessively, and hallucinations start replacing reality. His romantic life takes place partly in impossible love stories with his mainly straight friends, and in part in mysterious letters he writes to his great love, called My Dear, maybe an ‘imaginary lover’ he meets in a gay club in London.

I am impressed with the way the novel has been received by reviewers and critics so far: although different readers seem to have read the novel in totally different ways, but this is one of the peculiarities of The Road to London, that she is not a story that’s ‘written in stone’, and she allows, actually she asks, readers to contribute to her meaning, to add their own stories and perceptions of the world to hers, the reviews have been incredibly enthusiastic. I’m not just happy with how the novel has been received so far; I’m ecstatic.

Who would you hope plays them in a movie version? download (4)

The name that comes to mind is Xavier Dolan: he likes to explore impossible relationships and has a very artistic flair in his films; I think he would be ideal for The Road to London.

Did you have it all planned out before you write your stories or do the characters and story surprise you?

No, I never plan what I am going to write. I don’t even decide if I want to write… I could never be a poet laureate. I find it impossible to predetermine what a book is going to be about, what will happen to a character, how they will speak, behave or react to an event. When I start writing, it’s because I feel an urge to write that I cannot resist, and I haven’t got the foggiest idea how the story is going to turn out, what will happen next and how the characters will fare in it. All I do is put emotions and feelings into words; if an event is necessary to create a feeling, then that will take place in the story, otherwise not. I am much more concerned with human beings’ reactions to events, meaning their emotional and psychological reactions, than with the events themselves.

What would your character(s) say about you?

I think each one of them would find something in common with me. Even those who seem evil at times would say that the origin of all that evil is in me, not in them.

What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favourite thing?

Words have their colours, their rhythm, their sounds, their smell, and their flavours for me. When I write, it’s as if I am totally engrossed in an explosion of senses: they mix, they match, they literally dance and sweat in front of me. I love that. I see myself more as a ‘facilitator of words’ than a writer: I see my task as putting them down on paper the way they wish to be. I find that beautiful. I like to be part of this process of finding new ways of expression, rather than forcing words to be written down the way I want them. It is the words that tell me what to do, not I who tells them where to take their place on the page. My least favourite thing must be a consequence of the way I write: I never know if I will be writing again; as I don’t force myself to write and I don’t plan what and when I am going to write next, I never know if will write a new novel, a new story or a new poem.

Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it?

Yes, I did have a say in the cover art: I chose seven possible options and then discussed them with my publishers. I actually love the cover of The Road to London: to start with, and this has happened purely by chance, but I believe in Fate, all the covers of my creative writings have a bold head / face that resembles mine. I like to think that the face crossed by the stars and the clouds on the cover of The Road to London is just the face of the human soul in general lost in the cosmos. It could as well be the Boy’s face, or Seb White’s (a key character in the novel), looking down on us from the stars, but I don’t know. I know it is not the typical cover you would expect in what is regarded as a ‘gay novel’: we didn’t want two hunky men in an erotic position; the novel is very sensual and very much about sexuality and even sex, but she is much more about how the individual can find his (or her) way in life, against all odds, against the ‘thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to’. I also feel that those green eyes looking out of the cover see a whole world in front of them, the whole path to freedom, the future, the road to London, in fact.

What is your writing environment like? Do you need silence or music to write?

I write wherever words happen to come to me. I cannot distinguish between silence and music when I read or write, because I confuse signs, colours and sounds: I’m synaesthetic, you see, so, if you say a word, I see flashes of colours in front of my eyes, if I write a word, I hear music, sometimes I even see shapes moving in front of me. It’s a funny condition, but I quite enjoy it.

How many rewrites does it normally take you for each book?

I write once, and I do not type: I write with a fountain pen on paper. If I change something, I tend to do it straight away as I am writing, I don’t go back to it and re-read it and maybe cut and paste or change sentences like people can do if they use a word processor.

What is your advice to new writers?

Write from the heart. Hide part of yourself in every one of your characters. Even if it’s a trait of your personality you do not like.

Who are your favourite authors?

There are so many… Woolf, Emily Bronte, Joyce, Milton and Dante very likely top my list of favourites, but I could go on for hours and hours. I tend to read the classics, all of them, and I find it hard to put them down. My favourite living novelist is Toni Morrison: she’s a genius and my favourite living poet is Derek Walcott.

What is your life like outside of writing?

I love History and I love Art. I used to go clubbing a lot, but now I’ve calmed down a bit… maybe it’s time to for me to go out a bit more.

What makes you laugh?

Satire, especially political satire and innuendos (I think I said that). I like puns and verbal humour more than slapstick.

Who would you like to invite for dinner?

Plato, for sure. If it’s true that the whole of human knowledge is only a footnote to Plato, I have so many questions to ask him. I would also like to invite Leonardo Da Vinci, I can literally burst into tears in front of his paintings.

What would your friends say are your best and your oddest quality? What would you name as those qualities?

Oddly enough, I don’t think my friends really know me that well: I’m sure they would all say that my best quality is my intelligence, and that would also be my oddest quality for them. Instead, I would think that my best quality is my heart, not my mind, and I would think my oddest quality is that if I give my word, I stick to it, no matter what.

Tell us about your other books?

Tales is a collection of short stories based on ‘minor’ characters or events in The Road to London, my favourite story in there is ‘The Housekeeper’s Innocence’, the story of a woman who gets raped when leaving mass, then decides to become a nun, but a sister shows her that she is a lesbian, so, she becomes a priest’s housekeeper instead, but when she sees the man who raped her in the congregation, she burns the church down. It’s based on one of the dreams of the Boy in the novel, a Kafkian dream. Ybo’ and Other Lies is a collection of poetry that I first published in 2005, it is quite experimental, there is a lot online about it, including articles on its erotic poems and on the ‘flickers’ a form of poetry I have allegedly invented. I have also written a grammar book, The Labyrinth of Grammar and a study on Dante and Coleridge, The Mariner’s Inferno.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

The ‘soundtrack’ of the novel is mainly provided by Pink Floyd, though there is a reference to ‘Live to Tell’ by Madonna, and other songs, however, the one I would choose to capture the feel of the heart of the novel, which is also quoted, is ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ by Jaques Brel.

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

The weird thing very few people know about is that the first English Dictionary was written in Streatham, South London, where I live. A nice thing about Streatham is that is a very safe place and it has a real mix of people, and a fact… It’s still affordable to live here despite being a stone throw away from Central London.

Find Adriano and his books on
Twitter: @Bulla_Adriano
Bio
Born in Milan, Italy, and Londoner by adoption, Adriano Bulla has been publishing since 2005, when his first collection of poetry hit the shelves. Over the years, he has always tried unconventional and experimental ways of expressing himself, often crossing genres and refusing stereotypes in content, style and form. His style has often been praised for being intense, dense and surreal, and his themes have become more and more conscious of social inequality, in particular when concerning homophobia and the LGBT community, yet always exploring the emotional and spiritual dimension of the individual in search for freedom in an oppressive society.

 SYNOPSIS

When time and place play tricks with your birth, what can you do apart from creating your own imaginary world, then run away from your own creation, to a new life?

A boy is born, some time in the recent past, in Milan, Italy, yet backwards when concerned with ‘different’ sexualities, and Fate wants this boy not only to be of an intellectually and socially dominant nature, but of a sexually and emotionally gay and submissive disposition.

Unable to explain himself to himself, unable to relate to the world, this soul creates his own world, through dreams, drugs, alcohol and lies, while from a distant place, a club in London, and maybe from his future, if he ever learns to fly, letters to his beloved My Dear look back at his life in Italy with parallels in a romance yet to be.

He tries to be ‘normal’ and have relationships with girls, he tries to be honest, and open himself up to his love and friend, but life has decided only pain, rejection and suffering should come of it, for the time being at least.

But little glimpses into another, maybe possible life, sparkle here and there through his life, his dreams and into his heart….

29 Apr 2014

NEW RELEASE / REVIEW OF “Triton” by Yelle Hughes

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41K8eT7YItL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_I am proud to announce the release of a particularly enjoyable novel – hot from the press:

“Triton” by Yelle Hughes is an excellent fun read about Greek Gods in modern times. The plot of this inspired novel is spanning the millenia with a twisted family feud that begins in Ancient Greek, moves through the days of Rome and finds its way to contemporary Ohio. Descendants of the Gods and the Immortals themselves do the name Greek Drama proud. Incestuous lusts, improper longings, love, jealousy and revenge – it is all there for you.

The characters themselves are wonderful creations, very much in the way you would like them to be in a novel about Greek mythology, but also some great unexpected additions, such as Poseidon’s aid, George, the dolpin.
Ariadne, a young woman in Ohio, discovers some Greek book and read out the writing while clearing out her grandmother’s belongings, an event that is noticed in the Aegaen and draws attention to her. Pursued also by one of her ancestors and an unsuitable ex-boyfriend, the complications add up nicely and make for an inspired and well unfolding plot.
Hughes has combined existing myths with fresh ones and historical characters with invented ones, but somehow managed to keep the authentic feel of Greek Mythology. I studied ancient Greek at school for 5 years and have had my fill of its history, language and mythology. Hughes’s ‘post-modern’ take on it comes together very well and is intelligent as it is hugely enjoyable.
I’m a huge fan.

Hi guys. I’m Yelle Hughes, mum of three and now a proud grandparent. I’m an avid reader as well as author. I enjoy canoeing, studying the Greek myths, watching action and western movies, and also an unpaid movie critic. 16a9acdfd34b0a8c0911a4.L._V341619370_SX200_

My work is written from the heart and pays homage to people who have passed through my life, just as the seasons pass each year. 

I discovered the world of Greek Mythology in Jr. High and the idea of adding the modern and fantasy worlds together, began to take form.
Twenty years, a marriage, three rugrats and a trip to Greece finally brought to life my series, the Aegean Chronicles (coming soon). A mixing of cultures, humor, sadness and weird sex takes you on an adventure in finding out that romance can be achieved, no matter who you are.

The Book on Your Amazon site: http://bookShow.me/B00K02TUEU

Yelle on Goodreads

twitter username yellehughes

07 Apr 2014

Author Interview: Crime fiction writer Stefania Mattana

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“Into the Killer Sphere (Chase Williams detective stories #1)” by Stefania Mattana is a very enjoyable and well written thriller set in a atmospheric medieval-looking city in contemporary Italy. 18640159
Chase Williams from the UK is called upon to assist his friend Inspector Angelo Alunni in a case that seems like an accident but highly likely isn’t.
Together the pair combine forensic and personal intelligence to get to the bottom of the case.
The investigation is one wonderful and charming journey through Italian idiosyncrasies with amazing colourful characters.
The plot is cleverly woven and told with attention to detail. 
This is a great crime story with a beautiful setting, entertaining but sophisticated enough to distinguish itself from mere beach reads – although it would certainly work as such, too.
Highly recommended. chase_avatar

“Cutting Right to the Chase” by Stefania Mattana is a selection of several very short crime stories, all rather unusual and very entertaining. With powers of oberservation, wit and some with great humour they describe odd cases and mysteries solved by former British detective Chase Williams, who now lives and works in Italy.
The stories are anecdotal in nature, clever, well told and very worth while reading. 
Great entertainment.

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Interview with Stefania:

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and as person.

I am probably one of the very few people in the world who has a nickname with first and last name, Erania Pinnera. My sister’s fault!

I’m turning thirty and I’m happy about it. Some people are afraid of leaving their twenties, I am not! My main passions are reading and running. I’ve been both running and reading since I was six, I guess it’s not a coincidence. I’m a mens sana in corpore sano kind of girl.

If I have to quote a weakness of me I would probably go with the perfectionism mania. Perfection should be a tool to reach a moving target, not an achievement. Sometimes I forget it and I get fussy.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

I should say my main character, former MET detective Chase Williams, but I will say his friend, Inspector Angelo Alunni. Angelo is Italian, few years older than Chase, single by force of circumstances and with the odd idea that he can attract more girls with a Montalbano-style shaved head.

Angelo is the most lively and irascible side of the partners in crime (Chase always helps Angelo solve murders or mysteries) and I like depicting him as a genuine Italian prototype. And trust me, Italians pull through extremely well.

What would your characters say about you?

They’d probably say that I let them do whatever they want too often! Sometimes it’s like I lose the control of my characters and I end up writing things that subvert my plot – I guess you can understand me, dear Chris.

Maybe my characters would like more discipline from me, but I don’t change this balance until readers keep appreciating my stories and I receive an official complaint by my characters themselves!

What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favourite thing?

I like creating way outs for murderers and triggering reasons that lead normal persons to kill somebody else. This is my most enjoyable point, the way Chase and Angelo will find the truth is pure deduction practice. I like also putting little clues for my readers to help them find the murderers before Chase. I don’t want readers to think they are “inferior” to Chase or Angelo. The perfect murder doesn’t exist and anyone could find the truth, it’s just a matter of method.

Maybe the least part is – paradoxically – reviewing the drafts. Every time I read something I wrote, I see there’s something that needs to be changed, or modified, or that can be improved. No matter if it’s published or not – there’s always a way to write it, show it, tell it better. I mean, that’s good, but sometimes I realise I’m getting too fussy again!

What is your life like outside of writing?

I like running outside, especially on track. I love the smell of the track and the noise of the spikes on it. When I was in Italy I enjoyed long walks with my sister and our dog, I really miss them. Oh, I love dogs, any kind of dogs. If it was for me I’d have a hundred dogs in my home. My partner and I go out quite often in London, discovering the city and enjoying all its wonderful attractions. We are also planning some interesting travels abroad, armed with cameras, good walking shoes and – guess what? – a couple of Kindles in our bags 😉

Hot or cold? Hot!

Salty or sweet? Definitely salty.

What are you working on now? 

Pull the Trigger, the first Chase Williams long length novel, is on the fly. It will be out approximately at the beginning of the summer, ready for the beach!

I’m also defining the plot of the next new novel along with two new books for the Cutting Right to the Chase series, as readers really liked both the Volume 1 and the Volume 2. For many reasons I don’t think I’m going to replicate the novella experiment, although Into the Killer Sphere is receiving lots of positive feedbacks, but never say never!

Stefania Mattana is a crime fiction author whose stories and essays have appeared in numerous publications, websites and anthologies. Her first self-published short stories collection Cutting Right To The Chase, featuring the former Met Police Detective Chase Williams, was released in June 2013 to great acclaim. She also blogs for Huffington Post UK, her own DailyPinner and other webzines.

Book links:

CUTTING RIGHT TO THE CHASE VOL.1

CUTTING RIGHT TO THE CHASE VOL.2

INTO THE KILLER SPHERE

PULL THE TRIGGER

 

Mailing list: free preview of Cutting Right to the Chase vol.2 for the subscribers.

 

Author website

Facebook

Twitter

Twitter Chase

22 Jan 2014

Guest Blogger Dianne Harman: “THE MAKING OF TEA PARTY TEDDY’S LEGACY”

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Today I have the pleasure of welcoming the wonderful Dianne Harman, who just released TEA PARTY TEDDY’S LEGACY. Dianne has already been my interview guest on this blog [Link to this interview ] and today she is letting us look ‘behind the scenes’ of her new book. Scroll down for my excited 5 star review! 

Author Dianne Harman on

THE MAKING OF TEA PARTY TEDDY’S LEGACY

(for my review and the Amazon link scroll down)

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          A common question writers get is whether or not the people and events in their books are real. If one is writing about events and people in the now, I don’t think they can escape from bringing in parts of themselves, knowingly or unknowingly. In other words, we bring to the table the sum of our experiences. Certainly, that’s been true for me.

          I wrote Tea Party Teddy after I’d been seated next to one of the most bigoted, biased politicians I’d ever met at two dinner parties two nights in a row.. And since my husband was a California State Senator and the number three man in the Republican Party in the California Legislature, I had met my share of them. We entertained Congressmen, Governors, Legislators, and Lobbyists of all political persuasion. I was one of the few people privy to the inside workings of politics, and trust me, it’s often not a very pretty picture.

          After I sat next to this politician, I began to wonder what his wife and family were like. I was also curious why he hated the illegal immigrants and even the legal immigrants. Where did that come from? His views were not “politically correct.” The story I made up in my mind became the book. The response to Tea Party Teddy was huge. Political papers and blogs featured it. People loved him or hated him and reviews reflected it. There were even a couple of low reviews from people who didn’t like my husband’s politics! My poor husband was never part of the book other than to read it

          What so many people missed was that the book was essentially a satire – a look at a minority of people who have a stranglehold on one political party. But make no mistake, money is mother’s milk in politics, and this minority can be counted on for big bucks! The book tells of a man whose fall stems from the need to get money to finance his campaign.

          I remember a Saturday morning many years ago when my husband mentioned he had a coffee meeting with a constituent in an hour. He’d just returned from a week of meetings in Washington, D.C. and I told him I thought he needed to take a break. His response: “So and so is a very heavy contributor to my campaigns. If he wants a meeting, he’s paid enough to get the meeting.” In other words, if they pay to play, a politician will listen to them – and probably vote for whatever it is they want.

          Tea Party Teddy’s Legacy was a natural offshoot of the first book. Nina and Bob, Teddy’s ex-wife and arch enemy, fall in love and get married. Bob decides to run for the California Legislature against a minister who has the same political beliefs and ethics of Tea Party Teddy. True? Not really, but some traits of politicians, donors, and aides I’d known found their way into the book. There are many good politicians and I made sure Bob was one of them. There’s a line in the book about politicians willing to trade their first-born if they could win a political race. Often, this is sad, but true. Legacy was probably motivated by a need to show there are still some honest politicians. I’ve noticed that once a politician gets beyond the local school board level, the monies they’ve taken to move up the ladder usually means they’re beholden to someone. If you doubt it, look at some of the bills that are passed, locally and nationally, then look at the politician’s voting record and check out his/her supporters. There’s usually a very clear nexus.

          I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Slade Kelly, the lovable reprobate private investigator. So many people have told me he is their very favorite character in my books. Since none of us is perfect, we can all probably identify with a less than perfect character – which may speak to why people love it when a politician is caught in a scandal. And those scandals are only the ones that see the light of day!  I’m in the midst of writing my third book in the Coyote series, and due to public demand, Slade Kelly is the pivotal person in the book!

Link to the book on your Amazon website: http://bookShow.me/B00HWXB8WC

Tea Party Legacy

My Review:

“Tea Party Teddy’s Legacy” by Dianne Harman is a great political thriller about the election campaign for the California State Assembly. Bob Silva, hero of the first book, Tea Party Teddy, runs against far right-wing Reverend Jim Thurston. Silva’s wife used to be married to Tea Party Teddy and is now heavily pregnant.

Harman sets up the rivals brilliantly within a short space of time and with excellent eye for details, background and characterisation. When Silva retreats from the election campaign for private reasons the Reverend needs to step up his game by all means necessary.
With dry wit, great observational skill and humour and with clear knowledge of political processes the author has delivered another excellent story that exposes greed and hunger for power and the extent to which some individuals will go to get what they want.
The term `legacy’ from the title reverberates throughout the story – a well-chosen title. The story is relatively short which is perfect for the tightly edited plot. Nothing is superfluous in this story, this is a well-paced and skilfully narrated novel full of suspense. A compelling and intelligent read that I most enjoyed. 5 enthusiastic and well deserved stars.

01 Nov 2013

S.R. Mallery : “Unexpected Gifts”

3 Comments Book Reviews

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“Unexpected Gifts” by S.R. Mallery is a great novel, comprising of an excellent dive into American history of the 20th century, with a hint of a very palatable family saga, a kind of personal memoir and a psychological journey into self-discovery by the main character Sonia. 
Coming with her own set of problems Sonia is confronted with the ageing of her parents and when she finds diaries of family members in the attic she digs into her family’s colourful and intriguing past. Mallery takes us back to various eras of recent American history, as experienced by Sonia’s family members. With great attention to detail and intensive research the author transports us to the 1960ies, the draft lottery, draft dodgers and the actual fighting in Vietnam while in the US the hippies protest and the Beatles are all the rage. Bringing the personal into the political and showing how our characters are caught up in the spirit of the times this book does an excellent job at portraying the spirit of the times, to the author much more so than many other novels with similar subjects. 
Another great sequence in the book takes us back to Ellis Island in 1913 as the first members of the family are immigrants from Eastern Europe and then settle in Detroit before the Great War.
Told out of chronological sequence and with much reflection by Sonia as she is rooted in the present the book serves as a history lessons for us non-Americans as well as a psychological exploration of a woman who tries to find answers about her family but more so about her own problems, her character and her identity.
Warm, thoughtful and with great insight this is a wonderful book that has a lot to offer. Well written and cleverly structured it shows great literary talent and comes highly recommended.

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INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR:

Tell us a little about yourself.  Have you always written?

Actually, no.  Oh, of course in school for papers, but I really am a late bloomer when it comes that. Wish I had started it years and years ago, but so be it…. spilled milk and all that.

How did you have the inspiration for this story?  What was more important for you – the OCD issue, the personal development, the history, or the family aspect of your book.

I have always been interested in seeing my family albums––their modern–60’s–50’s–40’s–30’–20’s–1910 outfits and their faces; were they sad, happy, bored?  In addition, having always loved history, particularly about the U.S., I remember wondering how I could present different American time periods in a single book and have it work out logically.  The more I percolated, the more I speculated about the idea of one person reading the scribbling of her relatives and gaining insight from them. That way, I could integrate a modern character with different eras.  In addition, I wanted to have the main character somewhat flawed.  Hence, the OCD.  I really enjoyed researching the OCD part because I have some of that myself; the kind where the mind never shuts off!  So, to answer your question, it all was important to me.

Did you do a lot of research for it?

A ton!! I studied books/articles/documentaries about each time frame, looked at many photos, read about the language from not only those different places, but also separate periods.  For example, I looked up how people in Ireland talked during the early 1900’s, how African Americans talked up in Harlem during the 20’s; how in Bulgaria, they would shake their heads when they meant yes, and visa versa when they meant no; what the foods were like for each period and country, the clothes, the politics, you name it.  It took quite a while—the downside of being an historical fiction writer, I suppose.  On the other hand, the journey is wonderful and you sure do learn a lot!!

 How much of the story was fixed before you started writing and how much changed during the process?

The story was pretty much fixed, but in a very general way.  The first draft I sent my publisher was 650 pages in paperback format.  Yikes!  We both agreed that cutting out every single extraneous historical tidbit wasn’t going to hurt the characters or the plot, so half a book later, I realized it had become much more flowing.

Tell us a little about your writing and editing process.

I’m an ex-quilt designer, so I’m always thinking in little patch-worked pieces.  I start with a big expandable file and little scraps of paper—upon which I keep putting thoughts, ideas, motivations, descriptions, plots, book passages I’ve underlined, anything I can think of.  Then I make up envelopes marked with various characters’ names, ambiance/description, language, plot, etc.  From there comes a very generalized outline and as I start to look at all my paper snatches, I fill in the outline with more detail.

As for editing, I do a lot of my writing online, but sometimes I do write just on paper, type it, then edit it, and sometimes I do editing online.  I’m pretty flexible that way.

What is your writing environment like?  Can you tolerate music or noise or are you a reclusive writer?

I have been known to write entire scenes at a Carl’s Junior, but in general, I do write at home and do not want to have a lot of noise around me.  Music, however, is my great muse away from the writing.  It gives me all kinds of ideas about motivation, scenes, characters, plots, etc.  I listen while I drive or at home and it always works like a charm. For Unexpected Gifts I downloaded music from the various periods, and an Irish music CD for that chapter.

 Which of your characters was the most fun to write?

Daria.  I definitely don’t have a drop of Irish in me, but I do love Irish music and the sing-song rhythms of their language, so whenever I would reread what I had written about that Irish lass, no matter how small the passage, or simply a single sentence, I would use an Irish accent.  It really transported me.

Who would play her in a film?

Goodness, I don’t know….an unknown maybe?  Some lovely actress who could make her proud…

Are you like any of the characters?

Probably Sonia, because of some of her OCD tendencies and her growing love of finding out about her ancestors.

What is your life like?

At the moment, it’s fairly peaceful.  Of course these days that could change on a dime!  I live with my husband, daughter, and a couple of cats, in an unassuming, cottage-like house.  I teach part time to ESL adults whom I love and respect, and intermixed with that is writing, editing, research, promotional networking, family, friends, movies/series on DVD, light gardening, and laughter as much as I can muster. Good for the soul, what, what?

Who are your literary influences?  What are your favourite books/films/albums?

Authors: Harper Lee, O.Henry, Ray Bradbury, Mark Twain, Dodie Smith, Victoria Holt, Mary Renault, and Betty Smith, William Styron and more.

Films: To Kill a Mockingbird, Friendly Persuasion, L. A. Confidential, Poltergeist, Love Actually, Bridge On the River Kwai, The Miracle Worker, Tootsie, etc., etc.     I guess I’m eclectic…..

Albums:  Stevie Wonder, Judy Collins, Mozart, Faure, Debussy, The Beatles, The Gaitlin Brothers, Irish music, movie themes, etc., etc….

What are your views on independent publishing?

At first I figured being published traditionally was really the only way to go. I’m changing my tune rapidly as the entire industry is changing and I see my friends getting more money and having more control.

However, I do admit that my publisher, Mockingbird Lane Press, has been very patient and kind to me and I have learned so much. Frankly, I really couldn’t have done it on my own as a new author.

Can you recommend any indie books/authors?

Lasher Lane’s Deadlight; Simon Okill’s  Nobody Loves a Bigfoot Like a Bigfoot Babe; Tony Riches’ The Shell;

and last, but certainly not least, YOUR book, Christoph, The Luck of the Weissensteiners!! (NO KISS UP HERE, simply the truth!)

Aw, thank you. What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

Interesting question….my oddest quality, which I totally attribute to my OCD, is I can’t let go of things easily.  For my kids, it has meant me reminding them over and over again to do something (they’ve learned to make a joke out of it), and if I get hurt by someone, it takes a while to clear my system.

My best quality, I have been told by family, friends, and students, is that I really care about them, and will always listen to them and help them if I can.

What are your favourite animal/color/outdoor activity?

Cat/periwinkle blue/used to be tennis (can’t because of knee issues), gardening

 What would you take to a remote island?

My husband (even though your question wasn’t with who).  He is so smart, he could figure out a way to provide me with food, shelter, and caring.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

My website, www.srmallery.com, has synopses of both Unexpected Gifts and the upcoming Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads.  I am doing last minute edits on the latter. As for my next project, I am in the very beginning stages of it––research, formulating, etc, so I don’t really want to talk about it quite yet.  However, it will involve a missing persons case during the American Civil War. 

Here are some links:

Website:  www.srmallery.com

Facebook: S. R. Mallery (Sarah Mallery) http://on.fb.me/13fFI4T

Amazon page: http://amzn.to/13ar2pa

Book Trailer: http://bit.ly/18cSWUG

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/13NBxA2

Twitter: SarahMallery1

 

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31 Oct 2013

Paul Cude: “Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Threat from the Past”

1 Comment Book Reviews

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“Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Past” by Paul Cude is using a highly original idea and makes it the centre of a very entertaining adventure story for young adults and those young at hearts. In times of “Eragon” and “The Hobbit” many of us older adults love a good dragon story just as well as the younger ones and I am sure most people who pick up this book will appreciate Cude’s excellent effort in that regard.

Most of the story however is surprisingly set in present day and not in the distant past. The dragons are not enemies of us humans but are actually here to protect us, a tradition that goes a long way back into their past. Using this inventive set up Cude tells us with much love for detail about the world and communities of dragons, their habitat, tunnels under the sea and much more which I found very enjoyable. 
Myths and legends in the dragon world their good and bad members, their habits, their sports and their views on the human world add flesh to the action part of the story. 

Cude has taken the simple idea and given it a lot of thought and imaginative detail, it is obvious what a labour of love writing this book must have been and it certainly has paid off.
Highly recommended, a great and fun-filled read.

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Interview with the author:

How did the idea for the novel come to you?

In the story that I’d dreamt, the main character, when in his dragon form, had a marking on his scales that looked just like a bent whistle. This is where he derived his name from, and I think I was desperate to include this somewhere in the title. As for the ‘threat from the past’……it just seemed so obvious, given how it starts and ends. Those were two parts of the story I knew in my head in graphic detail, long before I’d completed the book. Originally I’d intended just to write the story for my kids……for when they were a little older. But the more I wrote, the more seemed to spring forth from inside me, far exceeding the length I thought the book would be. About halfway through writing that one, I started dreaming about what would happen in the next book and beyond. The whole thing seems almost to have a life and will of its own.

How did you come to writing in the first place?

Oddly it just happened. Sounds a bit crazy really, but one night, when my elder daughter was just a baby (she’s not far off 11 now), I had the single most realistic dream I’ve ever had. I didn’t remember it until the following day, but when I did, I swear it was just like watching a movie in my head…..so graphic, so intense, so…..mesmerising. Anyhow, I told my wife, who was gobsmacked to say the least. And so was what she said to me, “You have to write it, you just have to.” Initially I just laughed off her idea, bearing in mind that at the time I could only type with two fingers. But over a period of I suppose months, I kept getting more dreams, flashbacks into the story…….sometimes little details, sometimes insights into the characters, sometimes twists and turns to do with the plot. In the end I suppose it was inevitable that I would write it. First I taught myself to type properly…..3 months, and then, well………..I began. At first I needed complete silence to be able to write, something there wasn’t a lot of bearing in mind I was taking care of one young child, with another on the way. But over time I’ve learned to filter it all out and can now write with the kids playing around me if I need to, but I still think I do work more efficiently in total silence. It has taken a long time, and I was surprised how hard and crucial the editing  process was. But in the end it was most definitely worth it.

Who is your favourite character and why?

Difficult question to answer as I love them all for different reasons. The main character, Peter Bentwhistle, is loosely based around me so I suppose I should really say him. But whenever I’m working on the next book, or one of my children asks me a question about any of the characters, each stirs a different memory and emotion in me. Some are based around people I know, and my thoughts turn to them. The lacrosse playing dragon called Richie Rump is based on one of my best friends who was captain of the England lacrosse team and is also a fantastic hockey player. The dragon shopkeeper who sells the best mantras in the world shares the same name with one of my best friends. An important human businessman who is duped, is also named for one of my best friends. Other more minor references feature other friends and acquaintances. When looking for some of the character names I used references from everything around me at the time, while sitting working at my desk. There’s a dragon called Axus….his name was gained from my Canon camera at the time, with just a tiny amendment. Also one of the bad characters is a combination of one of my favourite author’s first names and surnames combined. I now have a long list of dragon names tucked away in my computer somewhere, that I can use whenever I need. I think as it’s my first book, everything, and in particular every character, will always mean a lot to me. So sorry, it’s a bit of a cop out, but they’re all my favourite characters.

Were the plot and sub-plots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?

The plot was most definitely planned from the start. I had it all worked out in my head, and the second from last chapter ‘Fawking Hell!!!’ with a huge amount of action in it, I’d known before I’d typed the very first word of the book.

As for the sub-plots, I found my imagination would go off at a tangent while writing. There are a few ‘rants’…..well, that’s what I call them anyway, from the main character, Peter Bentwhistle, who is based loosely on me, which I suppose just flowed out of me while I was caught up in the writing process. I kept them in the story because I thought if they were my opinions, then they should be his as well. They are mainly views on life and morality, hopefully wrapped with a little humour.

Could this become part of a series?

Well, I’ve just finished writing my follow up book….’Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Chilling Revelation’, and before any editing it’s just over 215, 000 words long, considerably longer than the previous one. It picks up pretty much from where the first book left off. Only in this one, things get much……..chillier. Quite literally. There’s another tale from the nursery ring (where dragons grow up), related to something that happens much further on in the book. Old and new characters alike feature in what I think is an adventure even more action packed throughout. We come across the mysterious nagas, for good or bad, and we learn a little bit more about the background and living conditions of the king, as well as discovering that he’s far from past his sell by date. There’s much more dragon and human team sport. Tank, one of Peter’s friends, even gets to play a whole detailed game of rugby, in a much similar vein to Peter’s hockey match in the first book. Plus more death defying laminium ball matches, this time in the league, rather than the global cup, with the Indigo Warriors perhaps biting off a little bit more than they can chew. Some of the action here is truly EXPLOSIVE! (A clue, methinks…) The characters, new and old alike, reveal a little bit more about themselves, with something for everyone. The new places visited include Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Egypt, USA, and of course the underground world of the dragon domain. My warped sense of humour still features in places of course. Watch out especially for two of the King’s Guards in the early part of the book, that are particularly good value on that front. Other than that, there’s not much more I can tell you without giving away some of the plot, which of course I’m reluctant to do.

What do you do when you don’t write?

When I’m not writing I like to either spend time with my wife and children, or play hockey. A day at the beach down in Swanage or Hengistbury Head followed by a meal out on the way back sounds perfect. If not that, a family bike ride somewhere or a walk in the New Forest. I do love a game of hockey with my friends at Salisbury hockey club, but as I get older it’s much harder to do on a regular basis. I help coach my kids and other children every Sunday morning though, and still try to get to men’s training weekly. Playing squash weekly with an old friend helps me get through the week. (He’s mentioned in the book.)

Which are your favourite books and authors?

When in my late teens, I mistakenly ordered a Tom Clancy book…..Debt of Honour. I was too lazy to return it, so it sat on my bedside table for weeks. Until one evening, when I picked it up and started to read it. Many hours later I put it down, only because I needed a few hours sleep before I went to work. I was hooked. After finishing that, I went out and bought all the other Tom Clancy books I could find. It was also about that time that the Star Wars expanded universe books started to appear. I caught sight of the first one while working in a book shop in my role of service engineer. I can remember it clearly: Star Wars Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn. It had a striking blue cover with some of the Star Wars characters on it, and I had to buy it there and then, in the middle of doing my job, much to the amusement of the owner of the bookshop. My love of the expanded universe has continued ever since, and as soon as the next book comes out…………..I have to have it.

It seems my love of books goes in phases. If I have nothing to read, I wander around a bookshop until I find something I like the look of and then read it. If I get hooked, I go back and find other books by that author. Examples of this for me are Terry Goodkind and Christopher Paolini…………I love all of their books. The detail, the plot……the characters….are just all amazing. I can only dream of writing as well as they do. Other authors I’ve found and loved this way include Robin Hobb, J.V. Jones, David Gemmell and Trudi Canavan, to name but a few. I love the way they use their imaginations and the worlds that they create on the pages of the book. They’re all very easy to visualize.

My favorite author of all though, is the wonderful Terry Pratchett. If you haven’t read one of his books you really should. While I love pretty much all the books he’s written, the ones about the guards of Ankh-Morpork, Captain Carrot, Sam Vimes, Corporal Nobbs, Angua and of course the Lord Vetinari, are easily my favourites. The characters themselves are described in magnificent detail, all with their own funny little ways. The plots twist and turn like a raging river, and the humour……….well, let’s just say that is exactly on my wavelength. I’ve cried with laughter on many occasions reading some of Terry Pratchett’s books, and I can’t recall doing that for any other author I’ve read. If you’re a reading fan, you really must try one of his books.

What would you take to an isolated island?

My wife and children, a hockey stick for the kids and I, and of course a hockey ball. If permitted, just as many books as possible. My whole family love reading, so with a huge supply of books we’d never be bored.

What else would you like us to know about yourself and your books?

Currently my book can be found for free at Smashwords, in all formats, or can be purchased in either paperback or kindle version from Amazon

The Goodreads page for my book can be found here

My facebook page can be found here

I can be found on twitter @paul_cude

I have my own website to support the book www.bentwhistlethedragon.co.uk as wells as a blog www.thesoberhockeyplayer.co.uk that provides an insight into me and also offers author interviews.

 

 

19 Oct 2013

“Free Fall” by Amber Lea Easton

6 Comments Book Reviews

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 I saw a feature on “Free Fall” by Amber Lea Easton on a writer’s blog [Lucy Pireel] and I was immediately drawn in by the subject: surviving your husband’s suicide.
The book is truly amazing. Easton opened my eyes to the tragedy and its manifold implications that this period in her life held for her and her children.
The book is written in raw honesty but does a splendid job at sticking to the author’s side of the experience. Without portraying herself as a victim or accusing those around her who did or could not help, Easton describes her experience soberly and in a way that broke my heart.
Maybe the book was written in parts as a catharsis but it will serve perfectly for other ‘suicide survivors’ to learn that they are not alone, that their worst experiences have happened to others, too, and that – like Easton – they will come out at the other end, that this will pass too. 
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. From the moment Easton finds her husband, to the humiliating and insensitive behaviour of the emergency and police services on the scene, to family and friends unable to provide appropriate help to dealing with the long term consequences of bereavement this book is an emotional tour de force that will stay with me for a long time. 
A remarkable woman, an inspiring book, outstandingly told and indispensable on the self-help / inspirational publishing market. Tragic, raw, without make-up but with a message of hope and encouragement for others.
Unlike the author says in the foreword, this book is certainly not just for people with such a bereavement and/ or their friends. It is a good read for anyone. If the book taught me something it is to be more aware of how such a drama may feel. I’d like to thank the author for opening up and sharing her story for the rest of us to learn from it.

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Hi Amber, please tell us a little about yourself, as a writer and as a person. 

     I’m a passionate dreamer, hopeless romantic, mother of two teenagers, wanderer of the world, explorer of self, perpetual student, lover of music, and eternal optimist. Pardon all the adjectives. As for who I am as a writer, I’m driven by emotion whether I’m writing romantic suspense or nonfiction.

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

     I started writing when I was nine years old. I would sit on my parents’ roof, stare at the horizon, dream of all the adventures I’d have one day, and scribble stories in notebooks. This evolved into a career in journalism with a brief stint in advertising. I eventually published my romantic suspense novels with Siren-Bookstrand Publishing in 2011. Now I’m both published and self-published.

                   Could you briefly describe what your reason to write this book was and what message you are trying to bring across with this book? Is it intended as inspiration, self-help or factual information? 

     It is both factual and inspirational. “Free Fall” has been a journey. I often questioned my intentions for needing to write it. But that’s the thing, you see. I felt compelled to write this story of my husband’s suicide and the subsequent fallout because I had never in my life been so alone. I didn’t want another person to feel that kind of confusion and loneliness. It’s my intention that my story will inspire those who haven’t gone through such a tragedy to act with compassion rather than judgment. For those who have experienced a similar trauma, I hope my story gives them hope and reassurance that they are not alone.

                     How do you come up with your ideas about the structure of the book?

     I read through my journals written during the time period. I went through them a few times, actually, because it was quite painful going backward like that. During the second read-through, I started using post-its on the pages of what I needed to include. Believe me, this was a challenging experience. Some of the pages in my journal were filled with such intense pain and statements like “Sean, why”, “I’m so angry” or “grief sucks” scribbled over and over again in large letters. Tear stains blurred ink on the pages that brought it all back to the present. Like I said, I questioned why I wanted to experience that kind of pain again, but I couldn’t shake the notion that I needed to do it. I met people in my support groups who didn’t have the words to describe their own experiences yet felt as isolated as I did who encouraged me to be their voice. So here it is.

                     How do you decide which pieces to put in and which ones to let out?

     I needed to keep the focus on my perspective only, without blaming others or coming off as bitter. I don’t know if you’ve ever kept a journal, but, for me, I use journals as a way of venting out all the darkness I may be feeling. I needed to weed through some of that brutal pain and raw anger to pull out the truth of the experience. That’s not an easy task, which is why I made a point in the foreword of the book to say “Free Fall” is written from my point of view alone. I also wanted an end point—which is why I stopped the book at two years out rather than going forward through present day. Why two years? Well, that’s when the huge fall out occurred, when the shock wore off, and when I probably acted the most erratically (in my opinion). After two years, there were still rough spots and developmental challenges for all of us as a family, but I didn’t want to weaken the message of the book by going on and on. Yes, this happened. Yes, this is how I dealt with it, right or wrong. Yes, we made it to the other side of grief.

                     How comfortable do you feel writing to inspire others?

     I’m completely out of my comfort zone with this book. I’m not at all at ease in this role. Like I said, I felt compelled to write it because I felt like a carnival freak show at times after my husband’s suicide and never want one other person to feel like that. If I can be that one person who holds the figurative hand of another in their darkest moments, then this all will have meant something.

                     How long did it take you to write?

     Six months from the opening of the journals to the completion of the book.

                     How do you write? What is your writing environment like? 

     I have a roll top desk covered with pictures of fun moments from my life—a picture of me as twenty-one year old in Greece with some sexy men at my side, my late husband and I swimming with dolphins, friends and I in Las Vegas, kids and I in the Dominican Republic, me kissing a sea lion in Mexico…fun memories that make me happy. I also have momentos from my late grandfather sitting within reach. In between all of that, I have candles and incense that I always burn when I write. My dogs are usually underfoot while the cats supervise from their tower behind me. There’s a wood stove about five feet away that’s constantly burning from late October to May (I live at 8500 foot elevation in the Rocky Mountains so it’s a bit chilly). I put on my headphones so I can blast iTunes and write away in my own little world. There’s a rule in my house that I’m not to be disturbed unless someone is bleeding from a mortal wound or fire is licking at the door.

                     How many rewrites did it take you?

     “Free Fall” took about five or six rewrites. I truly wanted to make sure I stuck to my point of view, kept on point, and delivered a raw/honest account of my journey without going over-the-top. It probably could have been longer, but I felt I needed to keep it streamlined. It’s rather intense and I didn’t want to overburden the reader.

                     Who are your favourite authors / influences? 

     I have many favorite authors, but there are a few that shaped me early in life. Sidney Sheldon definitely inspired me during my teen years with his international thrillers. Danielle Steele and Nora Roberts brought forth my love of the romance genre. Now one of my favorite essayists is David Sedaris who never fails to make me laugh out loud in the most inappropriate public places.

                     What are your next projects? Another book?

     Yes, I have two more romantic suspense novels, “Dancing Barefoot” and “The Pretenders”, slated for release in the upcoming months.  

                     Where would be likely to find out about them?

     My author page on Facebook is the easiest way to stay in touch with me. http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmberLeaEaston

                     What song would you pick to go with your book?

     Good question. Well, “Free Fall” is pretty intense . I listened to a soundtrack of my own creation while writing it that consisted of Sade, Bonnie Rait, Snow Patrol, Coldplay, Pink, and the Black Crowes. An eclectic mix. Here is a link to my book trailer: 

http://youtu.be/NqXYy4PqZL0

                     Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it? Tell us about the artist.

     I’m the artist. I had a very clear vision of what I wanted the cover to look like so set out to make it a reality.

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

     I have an advantage of being both published and self-published so I can compare the two. Both have pros and cons. With self-publishing, I’ve enjoyed the control I have in all aspects. I’m still doing the same amount of marketing I’ve done with my publisher so that’s not an issue. I guess the downside is that there are times I wish I could call my editor at the publishing house and have her deal with things—delegating the madness, I suppose you could call it. I think one of the lows of self-publishing is the stigma that comes with it, even though I am technically “published” through traditional methods as well. To be honest, though, I understand the stigma because I’ve met some Indie authors who need to go back to writing 101. That’s a fact, not a judgment. However, to stereotype all Indies that way is wrong and shouldn’t be done. It’s a mixed bag. Do I prefer one over the other? No. I like being diversified. I sincerely run my writing business as a business rather than a hobby. I publish with multiple publishers, including myself at this point. I think it’s smart to have different income streams and varying perspectives. 

                     What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favourite thing? 

     The creativity is the best part. Writing gives me a high like nothing else. The least favorite part? Well, dealing with the arrogance of other authors. As a journalist, I understood competitiveness. I didn’t realize that would be tripled amidst published authors, which is something I don’t understand. It’s a hard business, but the work stands alone at the end of the day. Most authors help each other, but there are some that live to stir up trouble. It’s exhausting. I love the readers, the writing, my editors, but other authors can sometimes be a pain in the ass. I hope I’m not being too honest. Sometimes I don’t have a censor and apparently that’s the case this morning.

                     What is your advice to new writers?

     Accept feedback and learn from those who have experience. Too often (this morning in fact on an author forum) I hear authors say they reject advice and feedback and do exactly as they please. Well, guess where their careers are? Stagnant. The only way to improve is to listen to feedback from your editor, your mentors, and the readers. Do you need to change your style or become a slave to others’ opinions? NO! That’s not what I’m saying. Be like a palm tree that bends in the wind but remains strong in its roots. People succeed because they’ve learned to adapt and listen.

                     What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

     I’m reading The Witness by Sandra Brown in Kindle format.

                     How do you handle criticism of your work?

     I’m pretty thick skinned after years of being a journalist so try to let it roll off my back. When I worked at a progressive magazine, for example, a woman would call me once a week to tell me that I was an evil minion of Satan’s. At first this bugged me, but then it became more like, “well, it’s Thursday so I’ll probably get the Satan call again.” There are times negative feedback frustrates me if I feel I’m being misunderstood, but mostly I just let it go. I love feedback from my editor, though. It’s fair to say I crave it. I know that I’ve revised my work so much that I can’t be objective and appreciate a fresh set of eyes looking at it. As for reviews, I’ve been fortunate to receive many good reviews, but I know there will always be someone out there who hates everything I do. That’s fine. There are best selling authors that I can’t stand. It’s all subjective.  

                     What are you working on now?

     I’m working on revisions for “Dancing Barefoot” which is a story about a woman who is torn between pursuing her passion, risking all she’s worked for on a dream, or living for the expectations of others. To spice it up, there’s a sabateur in her midst who is undermining her confidence and success. It’s actually one of my favorties thus far because the love story is…let’s say…sizzling. My keyboard is steaming. I also think this lead character, Jessica, is a true reflection of myself, which has been interesting to write.  

               Tell us about your other books.

     I have “Kiss Me Slowly”, which is a romantic suspense about diamond smuggling, embezzlement, murder, and love on the run under Miami sun. Then there’s “Riptide” which is about stalkers, betrayal, envy, and love triumphing over it all. It’s set in the Cayman Islands, one of my favorite places in the Caribbean. My latest romantic suspense is “Reckless Endangerment” about a soldier returning home from Afghanistan and having a hard time adjusting to his ‘new normal’ and his wife who’s fighting for their marriage while investigating a human trafficking ring that’s threatening their very existence. Yeah, I like high-stakes drama. I’m working hard to keep the drama in the fiction and OUT of my personal life these days, though.

Buy Links for Free Fall:

AmazonUK: http://amzn.to/15xOyQe

AmazonUS: http://amzn.to/15iGimT

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/353127

Buy links for all books can be found on my author website: http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Two blogs:

Kisses, Caresses & Whispers in the Night http://amberleaeaston.blogspot.com

Moxie Girl Musings http://moxiegirlwriting.blogspot.com

Social Media: Twitter @MtnMoxieGirl

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmberLeaEaston

My review of RECKLESS ENGANGERMENT

I was interested in “Reckless Endangerment” by Amber Lea Easton because of some of her non-fiction work that had quite impressed me and I wanted to see how her talent would show in a different genre.
From the first page is was evident how well Easton can draw her readers into the story and how skilful she creates characters that we instantly will want to know more about. The wounded Afghanistan war veteran Michael and his journalist love interest Hope are far from one dimensional creations and the problems they face in their strange relationship are much more gripping than a mere ‘taming-of-the-shrew’ scenario. Both characters have a lot to keep you interested in them and make you want them to succeed and grow. 
Although this book is marketed as romantic suspense it also covers some serious issues, such as people trafficking and post-traumatic stress disorder, adding further depth to a book that is rich in plot and personal conflict already. Nothing prepared me for the literary quality of this novel. Regular romance and suspense fans get more than enough here to be satisfied by the great chemistry between the main characters and the intriguing story lines. However, if you – like myself – want a little bit more out of a book than you will find it in the well-handled and insightful passages about trafficking and PSD, issues that are handled with care rather than in an exploitative or decorative manner. 
Easton clearly cares about what she writes and it pays dividends, her book is surprisingly impressive and certainly recommended.

 

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