27 Oct 2013

Scott Stevens: “Every Silver Lining Has A Cloud: Relapse and the Symptoms of Sobriety””

3 Comments Book Reviews

silver lining cover

Today I have the pleasure of introducing one book particularly close to my heart. We all know people suffering from Alcoholism and/ or dependency issues. I thought I had read and heard it all, but along comes Scott Stevens with his personal experience and sharp journalistic mind to add a valuable contribution to the discussion. Here is my review, an interview and an excerpt from the book.

 

“Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud : Relapse and the Symptoms of Sobriety” by Scott Stevens is a remarkable book about alcoholism that has busted a few myths for me, taught me a few truths and filled in other gaps in what I thought was comprehensive knowledge on the subject of addiction and alcoholism.

With journalistic precision and competence Stevens informs his readers in excellent fashion about the correlation between alcoholism and cortisol, a chemical in the body related to stress and stressors. Stevens also brings in psychological aspects and data, statistics and the impact of spirituality and communication on recovery.
I found Stevens’ approach refreshing because unlike other self-help books there is no agenda or one simplifying message about the subject. This is an informed and personalised account of facts that can clarify patterns, help understanding them and shed new light on the subject without trying to force them into a one-trick-pony of a book.
The book includes many great quotes on the matter and should be helpful for alcoholics and those around them just for the inspirational impact of those alone but I also personally related particularly well to the rational journalistic approach interspersed with the personal.
I commend Stevens for his honesty when it comes to his own private experiences and for his talent to chose wisely where to bring the personal into the book in the first place. Here is not a sinner asking for forgiveness, or someone revealing to shock or to accuse. The ‘sobriety’ of his account is most rewarding and probably helps to increase the impact of what is being shared.
I have already passed the book details on to my friends in recovery.

Interview with Scott Stevens:

(for an excerpt and another review scroll to bottom of this screen)

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

Thanks for the opportunity, Christoph.  I’ve always been a writer.  I had strong influences at an early age.  I was encouraged to read classics and work on composition.  I went into journalism.  That was a trip.  Working in TV, you learn to be precise but brief.  When I left TV for marketing, I continued as a writer.  That was where my passion was.  I continued my journalism as well, working in “emerging” platforms — not so emerging any longer.  A few years ago, when I left my executive career, I continued writing and consulting until my life took one big left turn.  I turned that into an opportunity to help others with my message, my research and my story about alcoholism and recovery.

Could you briefly describe what your reason to write Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud was and what message you are trying to bring across with this book?

I am alcoholic.  In recovery now, of course, but ran my life against the rocks pretty hard at two-liters-a-day-every-day.  As I began recovery I recognized that the people around me struggling were not the same as the experts writing the books about struggling.  The messages we got in recovery were coming from people who lived lives unchallenged by alcohol.

Is it intended as inspiration, self-help or factual information? 

ALL of the above.  Sort of.  I didn’t set out to write something inspirational, only something practical and useful in the same voice as those most familiar with the drama of the disease.  It is flattering that those same people tell me it IS inspirational.  The journalist in me wanted to write an air-tight, well-researched book.  But I lived it, too.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

My first book was What the Early Worm Gets.  I’d always been the early bird. Still am. But I found out what it was like to be on the other end of the food chain.  Flipping around the old adage ‘The early bird gets the worm’ is a feeling many people upended by alcohol find familiar.

Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud is about relapse.  Sobriety was supposed to be the silver lining to the cloud of alcoholism.  When you relapse, you discover that silver lining has a cloud all its own.

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

I read a ton of research studies in the course of my reporting.  I know that is NOT how I want my work to read.  I want the facts, but it has to read page to page, not chart to chart.  It’s not a self-help manual for insomniacs… it’s a story for alcoholics and their families.

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

I have a good editor I trust.  But before she sees it, I clobber my own writing with the red pen. And I mean red pen. I wrote both books in notepads. Two drafts each, long-hand. If you’re going to write long-hand, you cannot allow a whole lot of extraneous stuff.  Removing pieces of a story isn’t easy for fiction writers and it is just as wrenching for me writing non-fiction.  Given my topic, I cut out old-wives tales and myths about the disease.  There is a lot of junk science out there on addiction, so I jettison that stuff quickly.  People die from this:  There is no room for fairytale thinking.  Other pieces may be of value and from reliable sources, but stray too far off the message of the book, so they get set aside.  Some of those set asides from What the Early Worm Gets found a place in Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud.  Some research I did for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud will be more appropriate in my next book on the stigma of the disease.

How comfortable do you feel writing to inspire others?

When people comment on my books being inspiring, then I have accomplished a really humbling task I never really set out to tackle. 

I’m grateful to have had readers who trust me regarding a sensitive, excruciating subject.  As a journalist, I am comfortable with informing with facts.  In relaying my personal story within the framework of the facts, I simply wanted the reader to know that I HAVE been in the very spot, the very crossroads, in which they stand and have felt exactly the same. If they say it is “life changing” or even that it helped just a little, I am comfortable with that, too. It is very high praise.

How long did it take you to write?

How old am I?  It’s pretty much been in development that long.  The actual writing of Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud took 18 months.  Could have been faster using something other than old-fashioned pen and paper, but I don’t know if I’d have the same confidence in the finished product.

It might take me longer to write, especially compared to many, more prolific authors.  Part of it is the archaic pad-and-pen, but part of it is my background.  Reporting teaches brevity.  I write 60-second broadcast stories, or 300-word pieces for news sites.  Then putting a manuscript together, especially one with 70-plus citations, is like jumping from Tonka trucks to driving a semi.

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

I’m always writing in my head.  And I usually have scrap paper or a journal handy and write down things to look up or thoughts I could develop.  When I am sitting down to write, I’ve done it on trains and other noisy places just as easily as if I were secluded in total silence.  I’ve come to appreciate that when you FEEL like writing, you do it that very moment before the moment escapes, no matter where you are, no matter what hour.  I’m still a morning person, so there is a lot of scribbling or keyboard clacking going on early in the day.  Sometimes well before the sun is up.

How many rewrites did it take you? 

Three before I handed it off to several fresh sets of eyes for review.  One of which is my seventh grade English teacher.  She’s a grammarist, but excuses my often conversational style when I fracture the rules.  She also reads it for flow, not just for Oxford commas or dangling modifiers.

Who are your favourite authors / influences?

Way too many to include.  My favorite mass-market authors include Jefferey Deaver.  I can’t read research reports all the time, and when I want a great, twisty rabbit trail to follow, Deaver is the guy.  Stephen King’s The Stand is one of many favorites.  American TV journalist Charles Kuralt wasn’t just an influence for my journalism career, his writing style balanced news with color and feeling.  That’s a special gift of his that influenced how I’ve approached both books.

Who are your favourite independent writers? 

I like your work, Christoph.  Simon Okill is a very talented paranormal author you featured in Sept.  I also like the work of William O’Brien, Dianne Harmon, Marsha Roberts,  Karen Prince,  Lucy Pireel.  Zushka Biros of the U.S. and Australian Kerry Connelly write great non-fiction in recovery themes. Many more. The list is long.  There is a lot of excellent writing in the indie space.

Thank you. What are your next projects? Another book? Workshops?

Speaking opportunities when they come up.  I’m very busy promoting Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud these days though.  The book on stigma is a work-in-progress.  I have two childrens’/young readers’ books I’ve written that I dream of publishing sooner rather than later, however I’m busy being a dad to my own young readers, too.

Where would we be likely to find out about the stigma project? 

My website. www.alcohologist.com

What song would you pick to go with your book?

Christoph, it is a whole soundtrack!  At times, it is Runnin’ With the Devil by Van Halen.  At times, it is Help by the Beatles.  At times, it’s the melancholy In My Room by The Beach Boys.  Everything I Do I Do It For You by Bryan Adams.  Sounds sort of like Metallica meets Adele, doesn’t it?

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

My idea from the word go.  I had the first say, went with my first idea (but not my only one).  I ran it past many eyes and the cover stood out.  Typeface and layout aren’t my thing.  The designer made it work.  I had the right image to go with the title.

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

The highs and lows are the same thing:  Doing it yourself.  I don’t know enough to know what I don’t know.  So I had to listen and learn.  But as frustrating as self-publishing can be, it is also that rewarding in the end.

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

I usually have two or three going on at the same time.  If I have a really heady psychology title I’m reading, I balance it out with a great piece of fiction.  I’ve just completed reading a horror short, Orchid, on Kindle by indie author, Shane O’Neill from Norway.  I’m halfway through the paperback of Babylon Confidential, an alcoholism memoir by Claudia Christian.  And I just downloaded indie author Diane Major’s I Am Nine.  I’m reading the paperback on Women for Sobriety with my eye on beginning a Men for Sobriety meeting locally.  There’s a stack of psychology/addiction/recovery books in my in-box, too.

How do you handle criticism of your work?

I have a very personal, sensitive topic that is wrapped in stigma and myths and opinions.  I challenge long-held myths and it will not please everyone.  For example, I recently did an ad campaign  in which I call the disease a disease. You’d think I knifed a puppy.  The idea that alcoholism is a moral failure rather than a medical and genetic condition is still deeply rooted, despite nearly 60 years passing since it was recognized as a disease.  Even some medical professionals still hold onto antiquated beliefs.  Several people lashed out over the ads on Facebook. It’s doubtful the ads convinced them to read the book, let alone let go of outdated stereotypes.  They were criticizing a word, not me, not the book.  Just like a romance writer won’t win over every romantic, an alcohol writer won’t connect with every alcoholic.  Alcohol misuse is the third-leading cause of death worldwide.  That’s developed countries like the U.K. and U.S. included.  The social problems are tremendous – to the tune of $223 billion a year in costs in the U.S. – and the public picks up the majority of the tab.  It’s the leading cause of emergency room visits.  Most important is the chaos it causes families.  There is room for another voice in the field of recovery books, especially a voice that’s actually experienced the dread and drama, regardless of the critique of my message.

As for reviews, I appreciate honest reviews.  Criticism for the sake of throwing rocks, well, I have to just roll with it because I put myself out there for good or bad.  Coming from a TV background, you get a pretty thick skin.

Links:

My site: http://www.alcohologist.com

My blog: http://alcoholauthor.blogspot.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/everysilverlininghasacloud

Twitter: @AlcoholAuthor

Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/scottjstevens/alcohol-and-health/

 

Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6966491.Scott_Stevens

Goodreads Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17194419-every-silver-lining-has-a-cloud

Amazon Canada: http://www.amazon.ca/Every-Silver-Lining-Has-Cloud/dp/1479759481/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378859120&sr=1-1&keywords=alcoholism

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Every-Silver-Lining-Cloud-ebook/dp/B00BIDD1ZO/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1370176442&sr=1-2&keywords=alcoholism

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Every-Silver-Lining-Cloud-ebook/dp/B00BIDD1ZO/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1370176320&sr=1-2&keywords=alcoholism

Apple iTunes Bookstore:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/every-silver-lining-has-cloud/id593836361?mt=11

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/every-silver-lining-has-a-cloud-scott-stevens/1114016523?ean=9781479759491

Books a Million:  http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Every-Silver-Lining-Has-Cloud/Scott-Stevens/9781479759484?id=5779579350647

Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Every-Silver-Lining-Has-Cloud-Scott-Stevens/9781479759484?a_aid=Alcohologist&selectCurrency=USD

Kobo:  http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/every-silver-lining-has-a-cloud

Xlibris Bookstore:  http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-0124614049/Every-Silver-Lining-Has-a-Cloud.aspx

Excerpt: 

“Alcoholics have a tendency to cling to their denial of their losses, not denial of their problem. By lingering in the stage, it only makes the cortisol worse. Even though the reason we linger in denial is simply that we don’t want to feel worse, we’re actually feeling worse because of the cortisol. To move away from more of continued Symptoms, the denial evolves into anger. Ashley Davis Prend identifies it as going from “Not me” to “Why me?” and it takes a long time.

 

“On average it takes one to three years to work through the disorganization and anger stage. That’s because you need to process the grief repeatedly so it can sink in, settling on deeper levels of consciousness over time.”

 

Simply put, you’re not going to be pissed off one time for one day, but you’re entitled to it and it is a healthy part of what comes naturally during mourning and recovery. Different anniversaries rekindle the anger. Social losses and financial ones have long tails and breed anger over and over. Impatience sparks the anger, too, because all of us Alcoholics have a little control freak in us.

 

Unfortunately, some of us never get past the anger because that’s where we lapse. We drink at the anger. Or if we don’t drink, we become what’s known as a dry drunk, a bitter and angry person who doesn’t and won’t drink. The dry drunk won’t find recovery, but will maintain sobriety because they cling to the anger. They become dry drunks because of a false sense of power anger provides. It does beat being sad. Sad feels so broken, anger feels powerful, but sadness is the next stage. Rather than moving forward, the dry drunk chooses the power of anger rather than feeling like the ornament at the bottom of the Christmas storage box. They’re usually more of a pain in the ass than they were when they were drinking.”

from Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud: Relapse and the Symptoms of Sobriety, pg. 79

 

 

 

 

 

 

BONUS FOR CREDIT FANS: REVIEW OF SCOTT’S FIRST BOOK

Have you ever wondered what you would like to do with a person who drinks and drives? Different people will give some very different answers to that question, but what would be the most (cost- and help-) effective way? In “What the Early Worm Gets” Scott Stevens writes about his personal experience with one judicial and correctional system in place in the US today that deals with those offenders. Unfaltering standing up for his mistakes and honest to the bone about his life as an alcoholic he writes as an intellectual, not as an angry victim – although as the reader I often got angry at the way an ill person is misdiagnosed, mistreated, angry at the waste of tax resources and the short sightedness of some of the existing programmes.
Stevens points out many lesser known facts and statistical data about alcoholism, clears up some common misconceptions and misleading terminology and gives constructive ideas for changes and amendments to current policies. Fully knowing his science Stevens presents his material with the skill of a sharply minded professional journalist. By bringing his own life and his dramatic experiences into the writing with understandable emotion but also objectivity and honest assessment of his path I find it difficult to imagine that someone could not agree with his findings and conclusions.
This is a well written, informative and perspective changing essay that should be made compulsory reading to those in charge of alcoholics and alcohol abusers everywhere. 

 

 

 

 

 

15 Oct 2013

NEW RELEASE: THE BLACK EAGLE INN

1 Comment News

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THE BLACK EAGLE INN

BOOK 3 OF THE THREE NATIONS TRILOGY

was released this weekend.

The book has already been featured on several book blogs

Devilwinds (Release Post)

Tattle Tale Blog (Long Feature)

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap (Release Post)

Hotchpotching (Release Post)

UviArt (Long Interview)

MarthaEmms (Interview)

Tazzis Place (Release Post)

Iyana Jenna (Interview)

 

The Book also charted in Historical Fiction / German and the first reviews have come in. Here are some excerpts:

 

Brilliant Historical Fiction: Fascinating and Entertaining

impeccably researched historical events with a personal perspective,

the best way to engage the readers and make history real

Christoph Fischer knows how to write amazing stories.

how did Germany recover, not just economically and physically, but philosophically and culturally?

a riveting story of a family, set against the backdrop of the changing political landscape of wartime and post-war Germany

***

an allegory of the old Germany

a really great historical novel in best traditions of James A. Michener and Errol Lincoln Uys, that delivers a historical narrative through character exploration; a fascinating journey into a less-explored territory. Highly recommended.

***

a candid snapshot into the psychological make-up of people

A very honest and ruthless book with an incredible story

***

a brilliantly authentic period narrative while also being a juicy melodrama complete with family secrets and sibling rivalry. This is first-class historical fiction.

I was blown away by the detailed recreation of time and place. At the same time, I found myself lost in the emotional life of Anna Stockmann and her compelling journey of self discovery.

 

http://bookShow.me/B00FSBW2L6

 

A New Germany?

Can a leopard ever change its spots and can a Nation ever change? Is Germany trying to take over the European Union in militant fashion as some people claim? Are Germans always rigid, organised and pushy? Did Mussolini’s fascism stem from a reminiscent ‘Roman’ megalomania? Is there something inherently unchangeable in the makeup of a Nation?

Confronted with often harsh stereotypes of Nazi-esque Germans in film, television and conversations abroad it seems that a certain image sticks to us Germans in the view of other Nations. I left the country 20 years ago and often see the Germans from the outside perspective with similar eyes and cringe at some innocent remarks by my compatriots and their sometimes only misunderstood behaviours. Yet some of these stereotypes can reinforce undifferentiated ideas about German mentality and politics.

My book is by no means a glorification of the German nation. As much as I love my place of origin I am happy where I live now. By having written a somewhat political book about post-war Germany I hope to paint a more balanced and more complex picture about its past and its people. Like every country in the world Germany should remain a work in progress of continuous development and improvement.

download Molly author pictureP1080444

 

13 Oct 2013

Amy Metz: “Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction”

1 Comment Book Reviews

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Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction

“Murder and Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction” by Amy Metz came with high recommendations from a friend. I am not a great fan of murder mystery, but this one was as good as I was promised.
Cleverly told in separate narratives jumping between 1932 and 2010, there is the story of an old bank robbery that is connected to an unsolved murder, and there is the story of Tess.
Tess recently divorced her philandering husband and is trying to make a fresh start in a Southern town, aspiring to write a book. With help from local celebrity writer and unexpected love interest Jack Tess investigates mysterious break ins into her new home, which leads to the past.
Tess is an engaging character, as are her companions. The setting in the South sounds authentic and endearing to my European eyes and the plot is well paced and intelligently unfolded.
This is a very charming and entertaining read and one that I am sure may fans of the genre will follow through the entire series as it is being written. Great fun and highly recommended.

 

Interview with Amy Metz:

Tell us a little something about yourself as both a person and an author:

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Well, I have a husband, two sons, one daughter-in-law, one dog, two granddogs, and two grandcats. I am a former first grade teacher and PTA mom. I’m currently writing a humorous mystery series, a chick lit book, and a thriller (when I’m not dealing with a crisis with my mother, who has dementia). I started writing about four years ago, and I have one published novel that is a cozy mystery.

What made you decide to be a writer?

Necessity. It was either start writing or go insane. I chose the former, but the latter might have chosen me. I started writing as therapy when I became a caretaker for my mother who had just been diagnosed with dementia—that’s what I meant by necessity—but halfway into a memoir, I started writing a humorous southern mystery as an escape from real life. I found I really like living in imaginary worlds and talking to imaginary people, so that’s what I do most days now. And nights.

What made you decide to write comic crime fiction?

The memoir I mentioned was therapeutic to write, but it was also like immersing myself in depression. I needed something to laugh about. When I started thinking about writing a mystery, stories from my childhood came to mind about murders in my family’s history. The need to laugh and the need to tell the story of those murders just melded into a humorous mystery novel.

Tell us a little about your latest book.  GPJbackpainting

My latest published book is Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction. As I said, it’s based on real life and told in two different time periods—the 1930s and the present day. The 1930s are flashbacks to the murders—one unsolved—and my characters in the present day try to solve the cold case. My main character, Tess, is a Yankee, new to the town, and she’s a little culture shocked as she gets to know the folks in town. That’s where Jackson comes in—he helps translate the southern speak, helps her investigate the murder, and becomes a temptation Tess doesn’t want.

Did you have it all planned out before you wrote it or did the characters and story surprise you?

My characters absolutely wrote the story. I knew the basic premise, and I kind of knew how I wanted it to end, but they did all the rest.

How do you come up with your ideas?

My characters whisper them to me. Sometimes they knock me upside the head with them.

You also write in other genres. Could you tell us about those projects?

Waxman is a thriller set in the South. It’s also based on a true story—something I experienced, combined with a real serial killer on a college campus that someone told me about years ago. The killer was disguised as an old man, and he’d ask unsuspecting college kids for help. Who wouldn’t help an old man in need, right? Then, he’d get them alone and kill them. Cut to several years later when I was at the park with my sons and we were approached by the creepiest old man I’ve ever seen. He still makes me shudder, and I wonder if he really was an old man or just disguised as one. Creepy doesn’t begin to describe him.

Anyway, Waxman is set at a resort in Alabama, and someone is killing the women guests. The hotel hires a private investigator—Kate Pepper—to find the killer before word spreads and the hotel loses all its business. Of course there’s a handsome FBI agent assigned to the case, and sparring and sparks ensue.

My children’s book is called That Would Taste Better In Your Mouth, and it’s about Louie, who is a very picky eater. His mother tries everything to get him to try new foods. It’s told with alliteration and repetition—two things my kids loved in books when they were little. This is going to sound redundant, but it’s based on real life too. My oldest son was a very picky eater (hence, the storyline), and once when we tried to get my youngest son to eat something new, he said, “I think that would taste better in your mouth” (hence, the title). I’m working on the Guinness world record of rejections for that story, but I’m not giving up on it.

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

Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction was published by a small press. It would not be hyperbole to say my experience with them has been a nightmare. The highs? That’s got to be when I was on Amazon.com’s bestsellers lists for mystery authors, mysteries and women sleuths. I don’t care how simple my little book is, it is absolutely thrilling when you see your book ranked in between James Patterson and Janet Evonavich.
The lows? Let’s see…maybe when the publisher pulled my book from Amazon and B&N. Or maybe it was when I got the umpteenth bad comment on the poor formatting of the eBook. No, maybe it was when the eBook was pulled from Amazon for two and a half months while the publisher “fixed” the formatting. No, it was probably when the publisher filed for, and got, the copyright to my book. There have been a lot of lows. If your readers want to read about my experiences with publishing, they can check out these blog posts:

http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/guest-blog-amy-metz-when-bad-publishers-happen-to-good-writers/

Did you have any actors or people in mind when writing your characters in Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction?

No, I really didn’t. In my mind, my characters are unique people. I find it hard to pair them with actors when I’m asked to do so in interviews.

What is your writing environment like?

It varies, but it almost always includes a big comfy chair. At home, I write either in my office or my bedroom, both of which have big comfy chairs. But I also like to go to a local dessert café that has big comfy chairs and couches. I love a lot of natural light, and the room is surrounded by floor to ceiling window. I love going there during the week when it’s not very busy. Besides the bright, comfortable room, it has pie. My philosophy is life is always better with pie.

 

But I had the absolute best writing environment last July when I stayed in the Berkshires for a month. Every day, I went to the Stockbridge Library, up to the top floor, which was rarely occupied. And I had thousands of books, lots of history, and a big, beautiful room all to myself. It was wonderful. I worked on GPJ3 while I was there.

 

Tell us about your blog.

 

Stockbridge Library

When I first started promoting my book, I contacted a lot of bloggers. Some were very kind and hosted me with an interview or agreed to review my book. Some said no, and some just plain ignored me. I learned that it’s not easy for an Indie author to promote their work. I saw a need to help authors market their books. So I started A Blue Million Books, in a pay it forward spirit, and a desire to help Indie authors connect with readers.

What is your advice to new writers?

Oh my goodness, how much time do you have? My first bit of advice would be to join a writers group—either online or locally—and get feedback on your work. Beta readers are essential in helping you strengthen your story. I also recommend reading your work out loud after you’ve edited the heck out of it. A final read through out loud will help you see/hear things you might otherwise miss. And if you think your work doesn’t need to be edited—by you or anyone else—don’t quit your day job. Editing can sometimes be painful, but it’s part of the gig. If you can’t edit or can’t take constructive criticism, put your work in a folder for your family to read. Because they’re the only ones who will.

My next bit of advice is read, read, read, and write, write, write, but don’t stress if you get stuck at times.

And my last bit of advice is to thoroughly investigate a publisher before you submit your work to them, and investigate even more if you’re offered a contract. Pick apart the contract, and if you can afford it, have a lawyer, or someone who really understands contracts, read through it too. Whatever you do, avoid at all costs a first right of refusal clause or a contract that binds you to the publisher for longer than two years.

Buy Links:

Amazon US:

http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Mayhem-Pimple-Junction-ebook/dp/B009FR8ZO2/ref=tmm_kin_title_0

Amazon UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=murder%20%26%20mayhem%20in%20goose%20pimple%20junction

Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/amy-metz


Social Media links:
Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com/AmyMetz

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/AmyMetzAuthor

http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmyMetz

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/authoramymetz

Blog:

http://abluemillionbooks.blogspot.com

Website:

http://amymetz.com

10 Oct 2013

P.C. Zick: “A Lethal Legacy”

1 Comment Book Reviews
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“A Lethal Legacy” by P.C.Zick was a real surprise-find and treat for me. Knowing this superb author from her award nominated environmental novel “Trails in the Sand” I was not prepared for a psychological thriller so incredibly well written and breath-taking.
The powerful and to me entrancing narrative follows two cousins through their lives as teenagers and young adults, their first amorous affairs and their marriages. While writer Ed envies his good looking cousin Gary the women and the ease in his life, Gary is struggling with his concealed homosexuality and would probably happily trade with Ed who has all the qualities that Ed’s father would appreciate.
I felt myself deeply engaged in the minds of these two men and was eager to find out where the story was leading, how the men would develop and if or how their many intriguing issues would be resolved. The powerful writing kept me almost entranced with the story and made for some compelling reading.
Gary’s grown up daughter Kris re-appears in his life and gets re-acquainted with her father. Ed tells her (and us) more of the missing pieces of his and Gary’s past. In small segments we learn more about the failed marriages and the friendship between the two. The narrative strands work extremely well together to keep the suspense and explain what needs to be told. Family secrets and background information add spice to the story and fairly late into the book a murder pushes the plot even further.
I am truly amazed at the author’s versatility and the quality of the writing. This reads more like it is coming from an experienced thriller expert rather than from a newcomer to the genre. I found the depth of the characters, the continuous tension and the easy flow of the narrative outstanding and must give this book a very enthusiastic 5 stars.
Interview with the author:
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Welcome back to the blog. What made you decide to write/ publish a thriller after writing/publishing environmentally themed books?
 
Actually I wrote A Lethal Legacy in 2000. It was my second novel and an experiment in writing technique. I wrote it in first person, but the main character is a man about fifteen to twenty years older than me. I tried to keep it suspenseful yet thoughtful so I made Ed, the main character, a writer.
 
I understand You wrote the book ten years ago.Tell us a little about the history of the book.

There’s bits of truth interspersed. An event with some family members gave me an idea. I had a cousin who was similar to the Gary character although I extrapolated the details of my cousin’s life from small little tidbits. He was the only son of my dad’s brother and wife. He had two marriages (one to Miss America 1973 who’s now on the 700 Club as a host) that ended abruptly. One involved the removal of his son as a young child. My cousin ended up dying in San Diego in 1992 with a dear friend who called my aunt and uncle with the news. The friend was with him when he died and he was male. My aunt and uncle refused to go to his funeral even money, time, and health were not issues. They told the rest of us my cousin died of lymph node cancer. Then the son he hadn’t seen in fifteen years showed up at my aunt and uncle’s and started bilking money from them. The police even suspected that he tried to kill my aunt with an overdose of phenobarbital. I had to do something with this story. My aunt didn’t die until a year later and in the meantime she had her will changed to disinherit her grandson. Who couldn’t resist writing that plot?

What was your motivation to write A Lethal Legacy? Do you have a particular message you would like to convey?

Many things occurred in the lives of the people I just mentioned that involved greed and a concentration on the outward trappings of a successful life. In fact, the first title of the book was Greed.

How did you have the inspiration for your story and your characters?

I loved writing the sexy, seductive Kristina. She is the vamp I’ve never been in real life so it was a hoot to let loose with her. I also intimately understood Ed’s character. He tried so hard to please everyone around him, but he couldn’t until he started loving himself. 

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

Not much really changed in the way of plot. However, I do remember moving the scenes around quite a bit to get the flashback part right. I had two people read the first draft, and they didn’t get it or understand the plot. I went away to the beach for a few days and holed up in a hotel room with the surf beating outside my balcony. I moved the pieces around the board and came up with the right mix. When I reissued it this year, I didn’t do much of anything but work on grammatical things.

Are you like any of the characters in the book?

I believe I’m in a little bit of all the characters. The two Townsend brothers are very similar to my father and his brother–they were very easy to write.

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

My husband and I love to be outdoors as much as possible. We have a small pleasure boat and spend summer weekends on the water. We also kayak and golf. My husband is a master gardener so we have an abundance of produce in the summer that I’m put up by either freezing or canning. We eat well all winter long. I lived in Florida for thirty years before marrying my husband in 2010. Then I moved to Pittsburgh, but we get back to Florida two or three times a year.

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

John Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors. I also love Carl Hiassen’s books about wacky Florida. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is probably one of my favorite books. When I was a high school English teacher, I taught that book along with Steinbeck’s The Pearl. It was amazing to turn teenagers on through reading.

What are your views on independent publishing?

I fought it for a long time. My first three books were independently published. Then I became disillusioned with the publishing world when I realized if I could only be Madonna’s maid for a year–then I’d be able to sell a book. Then when I came out of my period of pouting, the revolution in indie publishing was occurring. I love it, but I want all Indie Authors to put out only their very best writing so we can gain respect.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

I love the work of Darlene Jones, Revital Horowitz, Christina Carson, and so many others. However, my queue on my Kindle is packed so I’m sure there are many more left to discover.

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

My best quality would be my sense of humor I suppose. My friends tell me all the time they laugh the hardest with me. My oddest quality? I like my underwear to match my clothes and just don’t feel put together when they don’t match.

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

I’m a lover of wild animals as long as they are left alone to be wild. I love burgundy and kayaking is my favorite outdoors activity.

What would you take to a remote island?

My husband.

Who would you like to invited for dinner and why?

I would invite Carl Hiassen because he’s so funny and breaks all the bounds of decency with his characters. I then would bring back Thomas Jefferson so we could sit around and talk about the stupidity that’s occurring in Washington right now. And then I’d like to round out the table with a few of the wonderful people I’ve met through my blog and books, but I’ve never met in person. 

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

I’m just finished putting together the diary of my great grandfather. He wrote the journal about his experiences as a Union soldier during the Civil War. I added historical tidbits to round out the piece. I’m quite proud of it. I’m also working on my next Florida environmental novel called Native Lands. I began the book several years ago, but then got busy on other projects. I’ve pulled it out and gone through it. Right now it’s on my coffee table in a three ring binder waiting for me to read and flesh out. It’s merely a 300-page outline at this point. My website, www.pczick.com, contains all the information about my books.

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

Very simply, I love to write. I love to write about the human condition, but I also like to have a deeper meaning evolve. I believe that our future depends on us living lightly on this earth and taking responsibility for making it a better world.

Find Lethal Legacy on Amazon:

http://bookShow.me/B00F1Z74TE

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18529710-a-lethal-legacy

The official website:

www.pczick.com

08 Oct 2013

Ben Manning: The Vril Codex

2 Comments Book Reviews

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Vril is a force which to its believers can heal or destroy.’ For famous journalist Jane Wilkinson, a peaceful architectural assignment in Berlin is a chance for some much needed relaxation. Until she notices that something very sinister is happening… she is touched by an occult evil more terrifying than anything she has ever known. An evil that will engulf her and reach out remorselessly to her husband Bob who is literally haunted as he tries to discover her fate and what lies beneath the ancient legend of the VRIL CODEX’
Part romance, part conspiracy thriller, involving Nazi’s, and the mysterious cults of the “Thule Society,” and the “Devils Bible.” Supernatural forces and conspiracies combine, leading Bob and his companions into danger and a confrontation with the ancient Vril power’.

“The Vril Codex” by Ben Manning is an unsual and to me a highly original read.
While the main protagonist is a widower and tries to overcome his grief with a work trip to Berlin, the plot edges into paranormal area and sheds light on some supernatural cult around Hitler and his hardcore followers.
I have read quite a few stories and articles about it, all handled as rumours, but their existence is so persistent that the plot – speculative conspiracy as it may be – sounds very plausible to me.
The book is well written and held my interest throughout.
The most pleasant aspects of the book are that the characters are so real and believable, more dimensional and that the storyline is far from flat, as I find so often with books in the genre.
I found it a compelling and fascinating read.

 

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Hi Ben

Your novel has quite an unusual theme. Can you explain it to my readers quickly. How did you hear about it and when did you decide to write this story?

Sure I was influenced to write this novel series  – the Vril Chronicles – by reading “Morning of the Magicians”- a cult new age book that covered everything from secret societies to the unexplained.  It was strangely written and published back in 1962 ish but influenced me as did a rather tacky but interesting history channel documentary aired in 2009.  It was in 09 that I completed my first draft, which I rewrote at author workshops in 2010.  Then I got it published in 2011 and 2012 but the final edition with a reputable publisher has come out in 2013. 

How did you research for it? Especially since so much of the information is contested. What was the most fascinating aspect in the research and the writing for you?

I enjoyed travelling to Germany a lot and finding obscure libraries and meeting characters that influenced the book.  To be honest the internet was useful but I enjoyed meeting real people such as Anthony J Hilder who is probably the most unusual conspiracy theorist out there with a fascinating past in entertainment. I also wrote off to lots of obscure people and cults to differentiate what I was writing with what’s really out there, when it comes to Vril.  There are some rare books on the subject but not a lot is out there.  Not many people realize the esoteric traits of Hitler and especially Himmler, either with the Vril Society or the Thule Society or the Black Sun.  There is some on youtube and many obscure pamphlets were printed about it after the war.        

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

Well the plot was kind of roughly planned but I added to it as I went along. I knew nothing much had been written on Vril and the Nazi’s but paranormal Nazi’s have been written on a lot – from Indiana Jones to James Herbert – so I wanted to create my own myths and figures rather than just using Norse myth and Hitler.  That would have been obvious; they were just the starting point.  Hence my characters such as Helena Hister and the whole mythos around that, that I invented. More recently there have been a few more vril novels out there but it is still few and far between.  There are hundred on the spear of destiny and the Nazi’s for example. As I often say – mine was the first ever on vril and the nazi’s – a fact I am proud of.    

This is part of a series. How many books will there be and can you tell us where this will be going – without any spoilers?

Well part 2 was self-published in 2012 but that will have a proper final release, possibly with Double Dragon Publishing.  That is set in Dresden and is called the Dresden Benefactor.  It is more of a mystery and the one I am working on right now is more of a thriller perhaps.  

How did you choose the characters for the story?

I wanted characters people could relate to.  It is hard trying to be original because you have to produce characters that are familiar so to an extent they have to be based on universal types.  I did base Warwick Blake – a psychic archaeologist – on the late Michael Baigent who was co-author of “The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail”. 

How did you come to writing in the first place? Apart from this historically themed blend did you have other genres in mind, too?

I wouldn’t call the Vril series historical fiction as it is set in the present but yes there are historical elements.  I did think of making it more science fiction like because of the aliens and UFO’s but then the whole vril universe is very “Fantasy” too – couple that with the fact that there are paranormal romance elements and crime thriller ones that we have one of the strength’s to critics a possible weakness .  It is primarily a thriller but does genre hop.  But why not break the rules?!  

I wrote short stories as a small child and poetry (cringe!) and as a teen and in my twenties mainly did journalism.  Then in my thirties I decided to turn to novels as I felt the need to be creative. 

Who is your favourite character and why?

Warwick Blake- 

This is simply because he is an interesting outsider.  I imagine him portrayed by Michael Gambon. 

Are you like any of the characters (and how so)?

Yes –

I guess Bob is loosely based on me.  Make of that what you will!

Did you have any say in the cover art and who was that process?

To be honest both covers came largely from my idea.  I still do not think there has been a definitive cover and vril 2 and 3 are yet to have a professional cover done.  I do like vril codex’s second “alien” cover most which I designed with Riley Steel. 

What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?

Best aspect is when people like it and the worse is when people don’t but then no writer in history is liked by everyone.  I love the creative highs but I don’t like the writer’s block lows.  I am also dyslexic which makes me a slow writer. 

How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?

With difficulty!  I know the internet has opened up some opportunities but it is also a boon to criminal publishers.  I worked in marketing and part of me is repulsed by mixing it with my creative side.  In the past, if you had the money to self-publish  – pre web – marketing had to be done by the writer or paid for.  These days whether you self – publish or go with a publisher you still have to promote which is kind of a shame as it used to be more the domain of marketing at the publishers.  

What do you do when you don’t write?

I am a keen actor. 

What would be the cast in a Hollywood or British film?

Michael Gambon or Bill Nighy as Warwick

Rufus Sewell as Bob – depending on budget!  If not – me! 

Romola Garai as Jane

Who are your biggest influences?

Rod Serling

Alfred Hitchcock

Roald Dahl

Gothic Horror

M.R James

Hammer Horror and Amicus  – Vincent Price, Peter Cushing ect…

Which are your favourite books and authors?

I have always loved I Claudius by Robert Graves.

Other favourites are Douglas Adams, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, James Herbert and Isaac Asimov.

I would also pick Roald Dahl as an author and Samuel Taylor Coleridge as a poet.
Dahl always fascinated me with his short stories for “Tales of the unexpected” on the TV from “someone like you” and “kiss kiss” – but what im most impressed by is that he could write, horror, humour –in a book like “my uncle Oswald” and for children with stories like “Charlie and the chocolate factory”. I think he understood the way people think – in terms of how children feel and react and also the very adult world of intrigue, where there is always a moral twist. A tribute I wrote to both him and Coleridge is at the Roald Dahl museum here in the UK.

ST Coleridge – I would love to know his theories on the universe and life in general, as well as the subconscious and life after death.  Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner is incredible and I used to work at his cottage where he lived in 1797 and wrote it. 

Douglas Adams – “The Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy” 
Aldous Huxley –”Brave new World”

Voltaire – “Candide”  *** Charles Dickens –”A Christmas Carol” *** George Orwell – 1984

 *** Edgar Allen Poe – Murders in the Rue Morgue *** Mary Shelley – Frankenstein.

Which indie writers can you recommend?

Terry Ravenscroft.  His books make me laugh a lot. 

What would you take to an isolated island?

A cat

Who would you like to invite for dinner?

David Bowie

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

I am in a forthcoming major horror film called “Zombie Snuff Movies”  and I am interviewed in the major magazine “Haunted after Dark” who are sponsors of the British Horror film festival held in Leicester Square, London. 

Links –

http://vrilcodex.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Vril-Codex/151342004886833
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Vril-Codex-Fanpage/192024584186066
Twitter – “@TheVrilCodex”

New from DOUBLE DRAGON publishing…the number one award winning publisher…the VRIL Codex…a paranormal thriller and the first to ever be written on vril and the Nazi’s…conspiracies and norse myth…

http://www.amazon.com/The-Vril-Codex-ebook/dp/B00EPQT0GA/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1377430967&sr=8-1&keywords=vril+codex

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Vril-Codex-ebook/dp/B00EPQT0GA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377432705&sr=8-1&keywords=vril+codex

 

 

 

 

 

 

06 Oct 2013

NEW RELEASE: “A Menu of Death” by Lucy Pireel

2 Comments Book Reviews, News

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“A Menu of Death” by Lucy Pireel is a selection of very strong short stories, all written with a raw, edgy and bloody pen. Ranging from harsh reality to fantasy territory they provoke, open your mind, change your perspective, entertain and take you to the edge of your seat. They can be gory and violent yet also thoughtful and insightful; they are most certainly unpredictable and therefore a truly compelling read. Excellently written, tightly edited and brilliantly compiled into a varied yet homogenous collection the pages just flick through your fingers.
I’d find it hard to choose a favourite story or tell you much about the stories without giving vital clues away. I loved however one story about Karma, one about an abusive husband and one about a brutal killer, all of which turned out completely different from what I expected them to become and were extremely rewarding and a pleasure to read. There is a bite to these stories and a sharp mind behind them.
I came across the author via a tweet about her previous book, “Red Gone Bad” which was also an excellent reading experience and I am pleased that this new book is in no way second. Pireel is a fascinating emerging talent, an uncompromising wordsmith with plots that stimulate your adrenaline and your brain. 

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Here is a link to Lucy’s interview on my blog earlier this year:

http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/red-gone-bad-by-lucy-pireel/

13 Sep 2013

“Nobody Loves a Bigfoot like a Bigfoot Babe” by Phantom Bigfoot (a.k.a. Simon Okill)

Comments Off on “Nobody Loves a Bigfoot like a Bigfoot Babe” by Phantom Bigfoot (a.k.a. Simon Okill) Book Reviews

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The Northern California town of Big Beaver has become a haven for Bigfoot, alien sightings and is home to The Phantom Bigfoot Bather. One particularly weird Beaverite, Duane, has kept the Bigfoot a secret, but to his utter dismay, a female Bigfoot abducts a teenager. Duane must use all his guile to stop his secret from getting out, especially now that MB, his close friend and crypto-zoologist, is on the trail, along with Sheriff Lou and the FBI. Can Duane keep his Bigfoot friends a secret? And what does MB discover deep in the forest?

“Nobody Loves a Bigfoot Like a Bigfoot Babe” by Simon Okill is simply a wonderful book.
Set in a sleepy town in Northern California called Big Beaver it centres around sightings of a Bigfoot, who may or may not be real, according to the people in Big Beaver. Much fun is poked at these sightings with pranks and jokes by the locals.
When a teenager is abducted Sheriff Lou gets assistance from FBI Agent Merlot. But the Bigfoot is real and while the investigation is under way, one citizen tries to keep this a secret for his own reasons.

What strikes me most about this book is the great sense of humour and the tongue-in-cheek style that runs through the entire story. There is a reference to Twin Peaks and there are some stylistic parallels or similarities, only this book is funnier and not quite as dark as David Lynch’s work.

There are great one-liners and excellently drawn characters to make this book a delight to read. I finished the book in almost one sitting, drawn in by the great story telling and addicted to the community of Big Beaver. Simon Okill is an author to watch.

A very entertaining novel, highly recommended.

 SImon author pic

Hi Simon, please tell us a little about yourself as a person and as author. –

Howdy Christoph, and before we get into it, a beer would be helpful. Thanks. That’s better. I am Phantom Bigfoot, author of that which leaves my brain as a jumbled mess and somehow gets put in some semblance of order when the lights are all on. My lights were left dim by an accident and only my writing seems to replenish the power. The more I write the brighter the light. So it’s best not to be around me when I’m not writing. Hehehehe!

How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

At least 15 years, but not since the accident have I become a full-time author. It all began one night long, long ago when I had too much to drink watching Twin Peaks and The Broken Lizards’ Super Troopers – well let’s be honest you need a few to watch those shows. That night it struck me like a right cross from Rocky – Bigfoot! Combine those shows into a town obsessed with Bigfoot!

The Bigfoot theme is such fun. When did you decide to go with it and write a whole book? –

That very night.

How did you manage to make it your own story when the Bigfoot theme has been kind of monopolised by the Hollywood films? –

Hollywood has declared Bigfoot a monster. Not me. My Bigfoot are peaceful creatures who bonk at the drop of a hat. There’s more but that will be revealed in my new Bigfoot novels.

Was the humour planned or was the idea initially more serious? –

I don’t like serious novels. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a serious message in Bigfoot but it’s relayed tongue in cheek. After all, I am Phantom Bigfoot purveyor of the practical joke.

Did you ever think of writing it just for children or young adults? –

Wouldn’t work, Christoph. The search for Bigfoot is not the realm of teenagers.

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

Actually all my novels started out as screenplays and from there I fleshed them out into novels.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Duane is my favourite as he is what most guys would like to be – a bum with loads of money.

What would your character(s) say about you? –

Nothing good, probably – hehehehe – except a big thanks for giving them life.

Are you (or your children) like any of your characters? –

There is a pinch of me in Duane and MB, but I prefer going over the top so no one could identify with them.

Would you say your books have a message and could you hint at it – for the confused? –

Bigfoot’s message is clear – save our environment and stop hunting for pleasure.

What do you like best about writing? –

Leaving my world and entering a fantasy world of my own design where I can do and be anything I want.

What’s your least favourite thing? –

Marketing the little monsters – they take over your life and that’s not much fun.

How do you balance writing with family life? –

I get up before I go to bed and slave away until dawn then market for several hours and with a stroke of luck find time to write until the early hours. Family life has suffered somewhat, but I am hoping the pressure will ease with more books published.

How do you edit and quality control? –

First I type in key words that should be used sparingly – suddenly, became, felt, seem etc and use next mode to correct. I do same with repetitive words. After that I send the book to an editor.

How have you found the experience of self-publishing? –

Daunting at first. Formatting for Kindle and Smashwords drove me mad. By downloading reviewers for both, I have cut the time right down and now I can format both in under 20 minutes.

What were your highs and lows? –

Lows were getting formatted indents right – highs was getting into Smashwords Premium and seeing Luna Sanguis, my vampire romance on sale at WH Smiths UK.

What is your advice to new writers?

Never ever give up. Even Stephen King had 100s of rejections before Carrie was a hit. Oh and get a good pro editor.

Who are your favourite authors?

Stephen King, Graham Masterton, Dean Koontz and too numerous to mention Indies from ASMSG.

I know you are very supportive of other writers, but who are your favourite independent writers?

– That’s such a loaded question, Christoph, there are so many I love for different reasons, I’ll just say they are all my dear friends on ASMSG and I love them all. They know who they are.

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

ebook – Fantacia: Voxian Series by Ruth Watson Morris of ASMSG

What three books have you read recently and would recommend? –

Once Upon Another Time by Rosary McQuestion –

The Nightlife Paris by Travis Luedke –

Capital D by Natasha Johnstone.

Travis would appreciate the sandwich I have going for him there. Hehehehehe!

Who would you say are the biggest influences?

ASMSG as a whole. So many great posts on writing have shown me my faults.

 What books have you read more than once or want to read again?

None as far as I can remember, but I have watched my faves on the box several times – Where Eagles Dare, Guns of Navarone, True Grit, The Shining, Salem’s Lot, The Stand, To Kill A Mockingbird and the list goes on.

Tell us about your other books?

Okay, Christoph –

Luna Sanguis and Luna Aeturnus follow a young woman on the verge of vampire superiority, but she witnesses a brutal murder and is hunted by her evil lover. She wakes up in a prison-like room with total amnesia. She is defenceless and must depend on a young doctor to save her from The Count, help her recall her past and escape into the night as vampire lovers.

SS-Steppenwolf retells WWII through the eyes of a werewolf created by Himmler to destroy the Allies at The Battle of the Bulge. Not many people know that the Waffen SS were addicted to a mind-altering drug which drove them to kill without mercy, but when the drug ran out, so Germany’s fate was sealed by Stalingrad. Facts are twisted to fit the new order of the wolf. Rainbow’s End is a YA fantasy which explains what happened to Errol Flynn’s family heirloom that went missing from his birth 1910. The heirloom is Captain Bligh’s sword.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

Bigfoot has its own song – Nobody Loves a Bigfoot Like a Bigfoot Babe. But “Addicted to Love” sums up the entire book.

What are you working on now?

Luna Aeturnus is being edited for release in September.

Is there anything you would like us to know about yourself and your books?

What you read is basically me, so read my books to find out what I’m like.

Thanks Christoph for this chance to air my laundry.

 

Info Links:

Http://tassyoneill.wix.com/the-phantom-bigfoot

http://facebook.com/simondokillwriter

http://twitter.com/simonokill

https://www.amazon.com/author/simondokillwriter

http://goodreads.com/tassyoneill

Buy Links:

US Kindle

http://www.amazon.com/Nobody-Loves-Bigfoot-Like-ebook/dp/B00AAL9UB4

UK Kindle

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nobody-Loves-Bigfoot-Like-ebook/dp/B00AAL9UB4

US Paperback

http://www.amazon.com/Nobody-Loves-Bigfoot-Like-Babe/dp/1938985036/

UK Paperback

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nobody-Loves-Bigfoot-Like-Babe/dp/1938985036/

 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/nobody-loves-a-bigfoot-like-a-bigfoot-babe?keyword=nobody+loves+a+bigfoot+like+a+bigfoot+babe&store=ebook

 

I live with my wife and Shirlee Anne, in a pretty coastal town in South Wales, UK. We both love Stephen King and had read many of his books and enjoyed their transition to the screen. Due to our love of books, my wife and I dabbled in writing for some years as a hobby. We were approached by a film company to write a paranormal TV series. We struggled most nights and all through weekends to come up with 22 episodes only for the company to go bust. Then after an accident at work, I was forced into early retirement due to disability. I used my newfound skills as a writer to help with my depression. We decided to use our TV series episodes as templates for film scripts and novels. My writing became more serious as certain A-list actors expressed interest in my scripts and my debut novel Nobody Loves a Bigfoot Like a Bigfoot Babe was accepted by Christopher Matthews Publishing after so many British publishers turned it down.

 

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Also by the author:

“Luna Sanguis” by Simon Okill attracted me because of its setting in Paris around 1925. I enjoy only the occasional Vampire story and with the setting in mind I had different expectations to the intense but thoroughly enjoyable reading experience I got.

Luna Sanguis has some exquisite historical feel to the story but it is mostly an intense and gory read with some detailed descriptions of killings, sexual scenes and psychological power games. It took me by surprise and thanks to the surprise effect I was totally engulfed in it.

At the heart of our story is Delicate Rose, or Eternal, who becomes amnesiac after being witness to a dreadful killing and she only escapes by the skin of her teeth. Brought into a lunatic asylum she continues to have nightmares and horrific visions.
Count Lucien and his two sidekicks are after her and she knows a certain fate awaits her at the next full moon. 
The book is written in a very powerful prose and with very appropriate language to the historic setting. The story infiltrates your mind as you read it and the build up of suspense, the sense of helplessness and fear oozes from every page.
Scary, clever, superbly written and at times disturbing this is not for the light hearted but seems a must for all fans of the Vampire genre who like it ‘rough’.
Quite unforgettable.

 

Coming soon:

“Luna Aeturnus” by Simon Okill is the long awaited sequel to Luna Sanguis. I was lucky enough to get an early copy by the author for review.
Rose, or Eternal, is still trapped in the lunatic asylum and the romantic sparks between her and her Doctor Eduard are blossoming, but Rose is afraid of Count Lucien, who will be coming after her at the next full moon. The possibility of two lovers eternally ‘reincarnated’ and meeting over the centuries is beautiful and adds romance of great quality to a story that is also often chilling and intense. The theme of eternity, eternal life and love runs through the novel and adds some reflective notes to the fast paced story with its many action packed scenes of fighting and violence. 
The characters are wonderful creations, be it the vile Demon Bonbon, the evil Count or his colourful sidekicks.
The writing in this piece is amazing, and that goes not only for the skilful use of language. While the doctors wonder about Rose’s Amnesia, deem her possibly schizophrenic or ‘just’ traumatized it makes us often wonder ourselves if Rose is really losing her mind and we with her. Or are we? Much remains ambiguous but in a very fascinating and rewarding way.
Like the first book this is a must read for Vampire fans

 

 

07 Sep 2013

Author Bernice L. Rocque in Lithuania

1 Comment Book Reviews, News

THE FOLLOWING POST IS ABOUT A WONDERFUL SHORT NOVEL,

UNTIL THE ROBIN WALKS ON SNOW by BERNICE L. ROCQUE  

and the author’s visit to Central Europe to connect with her roots there.

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THE STORY:  It is 1922. An immigrant family and their devoted midwife struggle to save a tiny premature baby. Inspired by real events in Norwich, Connecticut, this historical fiction novella about determination, family, faith, and friendship includes a story chapter about the family’s Polish and Lithuanian Christmas Eve traditions. Appendices include Author’s Notes about the facts, family history, and research behind the story

BERNICE: 

More than forty years ago when I was in my teens, I interviewed my grandmother and numerous other relatives about family history. I took a few notes about the 1.5 pound baby born to my grandmother in 1922. It is astounding to me now that I didn’t ask more questions.
In the fall of 2009, my Uncle Tony reminded me about that baby. My uncle is a retired engineer and a naturally curious person and problem solver, much like my father was, and like their grandfather, Nikodimas. Since this event about the baby had some mystery attached to it, my uncle and I became more and more intrigued as we talked.
Since 2004 when I joined the writing group, I had been writing mostly memoir pieces about my immediate family and cousins. I could tell my uncle was hoping I would write a story about this birth, so I offered to try historical fiction if he would serve as an advisor, since he grew up in the 1920s-1930s. He gave me a big smile and said, “Let’s do it.” And so we embarked on this adventure of trying to unravel the mystery and tell the story that “might have happened.”

My Review of the book:

“Until the Robin Walks on Snow” by Bernice L. Rocque grabbed my attention on the historical fiction forums on Goodreads and was intrigued by the Eastern European angle of the story, something that I have researched myself for my own books.
I found the relatively short novel had a lot more to it than Eastern European culture. It is a meticulously researched and detailed account of the winter 1922 and 1923 in Norwhich, Connecticut, during which a group of mainly Lithuanian Immigrants fear for the live of a fragile baby. Antoni is the smallest baby the doctor has ever seen – dead or alive – and his survival is in serious question.
The author describes precisely which steps the family and the doctors take to help the baby survive in the same way as she adds great detail and authenticity to the cultural background of that group: The house they live in, the cooking implements they use, the clothes and fabrics, the religious habits and celebrations – all of this creates an amazing insight and allows the reader to become part of the community and the times.
It is a great challenge to write about one small subject matter such as the birth of a fragile baby. Some authors might have been tempted to fill the book with lots of side plots to keep the reader’s attention but Rocque manages easily to hold the interest and the suspense up.
As a plot driven writer and reader I was surprised to find myself so comfortable in the slow pace which this close up of the family and the surrounding community kept. The Wigilia, a Polish Christmas Eve dinner, the fables told and so much more that is mentioned makes this a well-illustrated and rich feast for the historian and culturally interested.
Right from the beginning when the author gives an introduction, background and her acknowledgements, the writing was already so fascinating and captivating that I was surprised when the actual novel began.
This is well crafted from research to the composition. If you have an interest in this field then “Until the Robin Walks on Snow” is a must read.

http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/until-the-robin-walks-on-snow-by-bernice-l-rocque/

THIS IS FROM BERNICE’S WEBSITE  BLR Connections Photo Cropped 4

http://3houses.com/lithuania-that-feeling-of-being-home/

 For years I have wondered about Lithuania.  What was it like? This Baltic country was the homeland of my immigrant grandmother, Marianna. Two years ago, I promised myself that I would travel there. Fifty years had passed with no communication with relatives.

A month ago, when I stepped onto Lithuanian soil and began to experience this exquisite country, my first impression was that Lithuania felt like home. In researching my trip and experiencing the country first-hand, I learned that Lithuania is a land of geographical contrasts, rich history, and deep traditions. 2013-06-11-14.52.47-Cathedral-Square

A resilient people, the Lithuanians have survived centuries of unwelcome governance by other nations and extreme suffering at the hands of invaders. Remarkably, the Lithuanian people endured, often resisted their oppressors, and somehow protected their language and culture. The first country to break away from the Russian block (1991), their high level of education, respect for the environment, and enterprising nature are moving this spirited nation forward.

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While I was visiting Lithuania, a writer friend was visiting Poland, also on an ancestral journey. I smiled when I read her email question to me: could her DNA know?  She described the similar phenomenon  — that surreal sense of being home. Her question has been on my mind since she posed it.

The feeling is somewhat difficult to describe. Calming and peculiar at the same time, this same wash of familiarity had pervaded my trips years ago to Quebec, Montreal, Arizona, and even Alaska. Maybe my DNA somehow recognized French Canada, my mother’s homeland, but why Arizona and Alaska?

I believe part of the answer came less than a year after the trip to Alaska. When I submitted my DNA to National Geographic’s genographic project in 2006, they analyzed my mitochondrial DNA. According to their report, my mother’s mother’s mother’s… people had traveled out of Africa, across the Middle East and Asia, and over the land bridge to the Americas. I was stunned. I expected the diagram to show a path to western Europe. Could this be correct?

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Before contacting National Geographic, I called the cousin who had assumed the research on our French Canadian family after I had to let it go due to work demands. She HAD identified the likely ancestor in our family tree, a Native American woman. As it happens, we also have some Native American blood on our Canadian grandfather’s side of the family. So this information provided a possible clue about why an unfamiliar place might feel familiar.

Any rational person might dismiss these “sense of home” impressions, perhaps assigning the experiences to the realm of overactive imagination. As I age, though, I trust my instincts more. They have proven reliable far too frequently to ignore, somehow magically distilling my reservoir of knowledge and life’s experiences, not so unlike the insights that “big data” analyses digitally discover for businesses today. In simpler terms, I also pay more attention to any impression that moves from a single point, to two (a pattern), and then three or more (a trend). Just part of the lessons of business and life.

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That being said, my left brain would still like to see science backup my sensory feedback. In every century, science does bring clarity to some of life’s mysteries. So, as I sit here writing this blog, and though emotionally accepting the wisdom of my intuition, my intellectual curiosity is jiggling.  Is there scientific evidence to support this feeling of “being home” in a location you are visiting for the first time? Is there such a thing as genetic memory?

This lingering brain action is normal for me. My cousin, Birute, in Lithuania, had commented that our family has curiosity in its blood. Her observation, shared during my Lithuanian visit, agrees with what I know. Many of my U.S. relatives are/were not just curious occasionally, but skilled problem solvers, perpetually looking for answers to their questions.

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My grandmother, Marianna, her father, Nikodimas, and her husband Andrzej all exhibited this attribute during their lives. If you have read my book, UNTIL THE ROBIN WALKS ON SNOW, you are familiar with how they and the midwife did not hesitate to attempt the impossible in 1922 — find a way to save a 1.5 pound newborn. Researching this compelling story helped me to understand why I have consistently chosen to “climb mountains” during my business career. Challenging projects are like a favorite food!

So, my curiosity is fueling my fingertips right now. As someone who was a reference librarian when the internet did not exist, I just marvel at what can be found with only a few key strokes and a little time.

Well, there will be more than I have found so far. But, I have identified a field which appears to be investigating related questions. Epigenetics is a relatively young field of interdisciplinary study. A number of credentialed researchers are examining whether the genetic code of humans and animals is altered by life experiences and then transmitted to offspring, with effects emerging in subsequent generations.

Wouldn’t it be fabulous if, in our lifetime, they more fully unravel the breadth of genetic memory?  Will these curious scientists be able to explain eventually that peculiar sense of “coming home” when visiting a land of your heritage?

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What do you think?  Have you visited an ancestral country and had the feeling you were home?

Here are a few links if you are curious to read more about Epigenetics and related research.  If you find more great information, please leave a comment.

http://discovermagazine.com/2013/may/13-grandmas-experiences-leave-epigenetic-mark-on-your-genes#.UelgiqyYfkQ

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/science/in-andalusia-searching-for-inherited-memories.html?ref=science&_r=0

http://www.routledgementalhealth.com/books/details/9780415191876/

Key to photos by Bernice L. Rocque.  All rights reserved.

Photo 1:  Cathedral Square, Vilnius, Lithuania (6-11-2013)

Photo 2: The Nemunas River, taken at Vilkija, near Kaunas (6-15-2013)

Photo 3: Historical house at Rumsiskes Open Air Museum, outside Kaunas (6-14-2013)

Photo 4: Forest on the Coronian Spit (Kursiu peninsula) (6-17-2013)

Photo 5: View from Ventes cape toward Curonian Spit (Kursiu peninsula) (6-16-2013)

Photo 6: Giant pine in Palanga (6-18-2013)

 http://3houses.com/lithuania-that-feeling-of-being-home/

 Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKIYGsZmjUY

03 Sep 2013

Judith Barrow: “Pattern of Shadows”

1 Comment Book Reviews

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Mary is a nursing sister at a Lancashire prison camp for the housing and treatment of German POWs. Life at work is difficult but fulfilling; life at home a constant round of arguments—often prompted by her fly-by-night sister, Ellen, the apple of her short-tempered father’s eye. Then Frank turns up at the house one night—a guard at the camp, he’s been watching Mary for weeks—and won’t leave until she agrees to walk out with him. Frank Shuttleworth is a difficult man to love and it’s not long before Mary gives him his marching orders. But Shuttleworth won’t take no for an answer and the gossips are eager for their next victim, and for the slightest hint of fraternization with the enemy. Suddently, not only Mary’s happiness but her very life is threatened by the most dangerous of wartime secrets

 

“Pattern of Shadows” by Judith Barrow is a wonderful gem of a historical novel with a greatly chosen setting.
Mary is a nursing sister at a prison of war camp in the UK during the last years of WWII. Her family often seems at war with each other, particularly Mary and her sister Ellen argue a lot, not least in connection with prison guard Frank, for whom Mary has mixed feelings herself.
The book has really great characters and a complex storyline. Although it is set in war time a lot of the book is about a regular family that has to deal with the loss of one of the family members and it is also about a blossoming but complicated romance. It is my kind of book, rich in plot and different themes while offering a lot of historic facts and insights with a fresh perspective.
The book was an interesting and very compelling read and I’d recommend it to anyone who – like me – likes a good story with interesting characters

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Hi Judith

How did the idea for the novel come to you?  Your story heavily features a Prisoner of War camp. Why did you choose this setting?

Pattern of Shadows was inspired by my research into a disused cotton mill in Oldham, a town in Lancashire in the North of England, and its history of being the first German POW camp in the country.  I was looking for information in the Oldham Local Studies and Archives for general background for a story I was writing. The history of Glen Mill brought back a personal memory of my childhood and I was side-tracked.

My mother was a winder (working on a machine that transferred the cotton off large cones onto small reels (bobbins), for the weavers). Well before the days of Health and Safety I would go to wait for her to finish work on my way home from school. I remember the muffled boom of noise as I walked across the yard and the sudden clatter of so many different machines as I stepped through a small door cut into great wooden gates. I remember the rumble of the wheels as I watched men pushing great skips filled with cones alongside the winding frames, or manoeuvring trolleys carrying rolls of material. I remember the women singing and shouting above the noise, of them whistling for more bobbins: the colours of the cotton and cloth – so bright and intricate. But above all I remember the smell: of oil, grease – and in the storage area – the lovely smell of the new material stored in bales and the feel of the cloth against my legs when I sat on them, reading until the siren sounded, announcing the end of the shift.

When I thought of Glen Mill as a German POW camp I wondered what kind of signal would have been used to separate parts of the day for all those men imprisoned there. I realised how different their days must have been from my memories of a mill. There would be no machinery as such, only vehicles coming and going; the sounds would be of men, only men, with a language and dialect so different from the mixture of voices I remembered. I imagined the subdued anger and resignation. The whole situation would be so different, no riot of colour, just an overall drabness. And I realised how different the smells would be – no tang of oil, grease, cotton fibres; all gone – replaced by the reek of ‘living’ smells.

And I knew I wanted to write about that. But I also wanted there to be hope somewhere. I wanted to imagine that something good could have come out of the situation the men were in.

How did you come to writing in the first place?

I’ve been a compulsive reader for as long as I can remember. As a child, every Saturday morning I went to the local village library with my mother and carried home a stack of books that didn’t always last the week. My father didn’t believe in the television or radio, so reading was always my greatest pleasure. Books were both my passion and an escape. As I grew older they also became an inspiration for the writing I did in secret. I hadn’t the confidence to show anyone what I was doing; the short stories, plays and poems stayed firmly hidden. And, later again, like many women, work, getting married and bringing up a family was a priority for a lot of years. I didn’t start writing seriously until I was in my forties, had gained a BA degree and a Masters in Creative Writing.

How did you choose the characters for the story?

I know what I want my characters to look like but I need to sort out their personalities first. I don’t think you can be a good writer without empathy for your characters. They can’t be one-dimensional; good or bad. I suppose, initially, they’re a mixture of people I’ve known but mostly they become rounded by their place in the book.  Once I have a clear picture in my head of my character’s personality I can feel free to tell the story. But it rarely finishes up as the one I have in the beginning; the characters lead the way in that; I can sense how they react to the events in the plot, how they feel, what they say, invariably means I change the direction of the story.

Who is your favourite character and why?

Mary Howarth: She lives within the shadows of her family’s expectations of her – a pattern that rules her life. Most of all she lives within the shadow of her own loyalties. I believe we all live within the confines of our own pattern of the shadows that rule our lives – our expectations and those of other people. But ultimately she goes her own way

Are you like any of the characters (and how so)?

I believe we all live within the confines of our own pattern of the shadows that rule our lives – our own expectations and those of other people. On a personal level, I was brought up in a patriarchal household where what my father said was the rule. I know the feeling of helplessness, of the unfairness of not being listened to, of being ‘invisible’ if you like. I carried the frustration of having no voice into my adulthood. Luckily (or perhaps by wise choice) I married a man who believes in the equality of the sexes, who gave me a voice. We are still together after forty-five years.  It’s taken me a long time but I’m more comfortable with who and what I am than I’ve ever been.

What was the most fascinating aspect in the research and the writing for you?

I always carry and explore characters, ideas, a story in my head. So when I knew where and what period of time the events would take place I went back to the Oldham Local Studies and Archive to research Oldham, in the forties and also to a records officer in the county of Pembrokeshire during that decade. It was fascinating. By knowing my settings, the details of the background, I could write in the knowledge that it was a strong and a fitting place for my characters to live in.

How did you research for the book?

 The most important aspect of my research was making sure that the details of a German POW camp in Britain during WW2 were authentic. So I learned as much as I could about the history of the camp and its occupants throughout the war years.

I traced a map of Oldham in the nineteen forties and then renamed all the streets and the town – and did the same for a village in Pembrokeshire.

 Then I read books and researched on the Internet to find out what life was like during that time.

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

I had an idea how I wanted the plot to run but there were lots of twists and U – turns when the characters wouldn’t act as I originally intended. I didn’t want to change the personality of the characters so the plot had to be altered. Ultimately the end result was the same though. As for the sub –plots – they just appeared as the story progressed. Oh dear, that doesn’t make me sound very organised – but it worked for me.

This is part of a series. How many books will there be and can you tell us where this will be going – without any spoilers?

Changing Patterns, the sequel to Pattern of Shadows, was published by Honno in May of this year. It follows the lives of the characters, there are continuations of some of the issues raised in Pattern of Shadows – but it’s also a stand-alone book with a story of its own.

I’ve already started to research for the third in the series. It’s set in the sixties and most of the same characters are in it; certainly Mary and Peter will feature quite largely. But the children who were born during Pattern of Shadows will have the major part

Tell us about your other books.

My eBook, Silent Trauma, is awkward to categorize; it’s fictional but based on fact. It’s the result of the anger I’ve felt about an injustice done to many women. It took me a long time and a lot of persistence to get it published but, finally, I succeeded.

 It’s a story of four women affected in different ways by a drug, Stilboestrol, (Diethylstilboestrol, DES, in the USA) an artificial oestrogen prescribed to women between the decades of the nineteen forties and seventies, ostensibly to prevent miscarriages. Not only was it ultimately proved to be ineffectual it also caused drastic and tragic damage to the daughters of the women. I learned about the charity (DES Action UK) some years ago through a relative and became involved. I wrote an article for the annual newsletter and mothers and daughters affected by the drug began to contact me

The characters are a disparate group; their stories are run both in parallel and together and have been described by readers as ‘strong’ and ‘speaking with a true voice’.

I chose to self-publish Silent Trauma initially as an eBook mainly because, after years of research, I was impatient for the story to be told. Luckily, I was given permission to reprint an interview from the Independent on Sunday with two DES Daughters as the Foreword (which lends both veracity and authenticity to the book) and I’ve been given quotes from many women affected by the drug to use at the beginning of each chapter.

DES Action UK folded last year due to lack of funds but http://www.desaction.org  (the USA equivalent) is available to help and advise any DES mothers and daughters in Britain also. A percentage of the sales will go to the charity. People shy away from ‘issue-led’ novels but ultimately the story is fictitious and has been described as’ a good read’ and ‘sad, fascinating and poignant’

What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?

The best aspect of writing for me is that I’m never short on ideas; there so many images and words in my head – I just need to write them down. The worst aspect is time – and that I am a slow writer. I tend to go over and over what I’ve written the day before and need to get it right before I can move on. I envy writers who can speed along getting the whole story down – and then edit it.

Why do you write?

I can’t stop writing. I get tetchy if I ever miss a day – which is rare. I have a motto on the wall next to my desk “You’ll know you should be writing when you hate the world and everyone in it”. When that happens I know I’ve gone too long without sitting in front of my computer and getting words on the screen. I should apologise to my family, at this point, for being irritable sometimes.

How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?

 With difficulty – on line; I’m not completely on top of things with social media because I resent spending time learning all the ‘ins and outs’ of it all. So it’s my own fault that I find keeping up with everything hard work and time consuming. But I’ve made good friends with a whole host of writers on Twitter and Facebook and I find myself drawn in. I want to read everybody’s blog and look at all the websites and answer all the posts on Facebook and Twitter. So I plod on. My favourite side of marketing is book signings and appearing at events and giving talks. On the plus side, I do manage to balance the two aspects of being a writer these days. I tell myself I was a ‘domestic goddess’ for years – now the house gets a ‘lick and a polish’ most days.

What do you do when you don’t write?

 I paint, walk. potter in the garden, meet with friends and family. I try to ignore ‘domestic trivia’ but it catches up with me eventually and so then have I spend a whole day cleaning.

Who did you have in mind when you wrote the characters?

 I don’t think I should say who I have in mind for the ‘difficult ‘characters. The rest of the them are a disparate mix of people I have met or imagined over the years.

Who would play them in a film?

I’ve never thought of that. I have been told many times that Pattern of Shadows would make a good television drama series. In which case I would love to have Gaynor Faye, from Emmerdale, as Mary.

Who are your biggest influences?

 My husband, David. And then my closest friends – one of whom is Sharon Tregenza, a children’s author, and my greatest critique.

Which are your favourite books and authors?

A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou. And anything by Pat Barker; I think her writing is so complex; she mixes absolutely exquisite description with dialogue that is so believable the reader lives within the internal lives of each of her characters. I am, and have been for a long time, a real fan of her work.

Which indie writers can you recommend?

 There are so many: If I had to pick names out of a hat – Judith Arnopp, Jenny Lloyd, E.L. Lindley, Eleanor Anders, Regina Puckett, Bert Murray. And I love all the mottos and saying Khaled Talib Tweets.

What would you take to an isolated island?

 My husband and family

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

 I think I’ve said enough!

 

Pattern of Shadows was published by Honno in 2010

http://www.honno.co.uk/dangos.php?ISBN=9781906784058

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pattern-of-Shadows-ebook/dp/B00940YWKQ/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=pattern+of+shadows&tag=googhydr-21&index=stripbooks&hvadid=15209327994&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=297622601706156893&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&ref=pd_sl_30tvv8osf2_b

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Changing Patterns:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Changing-Patterns-Judith-Barrow/dp/1906784396/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1376847892&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Changing-Patterns-ebook/dp/B00B0STM2I/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376847892&sr=1-2&keywords=pattern+of+shadows

 

Silent Trauma, published December 2012.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Silent-Trauma-ebook/dp/B00AFZ8CLO

The link to my website:

http://www.judithbarrow.co.uk/

http://www.judithbarrow.com

 Other links:

https://twitter.com/judithabarrow

judith.barrow.3@facebook.com

 

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3295663.Judith_Barrow

 

02 Sep 2013

A Chat with Christoph Fischer

3 Comments News, Review

TLOTW SLider

Today my biggest news is that a website in the US by a fellow author has chosen my book to become a study object for online students and I am invited to answer their questions. Oddly enough just a few days ago exactly this was suggested by one of the reviewers. 

Author Julia Gousseva is a writer and a teacher  Molly

She has a BA in English from Moscow State Linguistics University and two graduate degrees from the University of Arizona: MA in English Language and Linguistics and a PhD in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching. 

She is a full-time writing teacher at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona. 

The goal of this blog is to give her students (and anybody else who happens to wander in) a chance to interact with today’s most interesting writers.

Here is the link!  2137033

http://juliagousseva.com/2/post/2013/09/a-chat-with-christoph-fischer.html

The Luck of the Weissensteiners  

continues to do well in the Jewish Fiction Charts on Amazon –  as does Sebastian.

The current review Bonanza is ongoing for both books.

And here are the last three reviews for The Luck of the Weissensteiners , bringing it to a total of 64 on Amazon.com and 50 on Amazon.co.uk.

Sebastian climbed to 28 reviews – amazing after only being on the market since May.

******

Should be Required Reading for History Students, August 31, 2013

…As a romance, this book is superb: well-drawn, believable, with authentic and likable characters, each with their own realistic flaws.

But calling this amazing novel a romance would be a major understatement. What immediately complicates the budding relationship between Greta and Wilhelm is the historical setting that at first acts as a backdrop for their relationship but, as the story develops, gradually comes to the fore and becomes a guiding force in the story, just like it happened in Europe in 1933 as the dramatic events of World War Two unfolded.

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...The historical detail, the meticulous research done by the author (just look at the topnotch bibliography at the end, and you will be amazed), the accuracy of the smallest detail in the narration – all make this story come to life in the most realistic way possible.

But don’t think that research means absence of plot or dry writing style. Far from it. As the story and the raging war in Europe progress, Greta and Wilhelm get deeper and deeper involved both in their own relationship, full of challenges and complications, from settling on common religious beliefs to dealing with a miscarriage to attempts to find a safe place for their young family to eventual separation, and in events surrounding them. And that’s just the beginning.

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This beautifully told story is filled with allegories and symbolism. For example, at one point, Greta and Wilhelm are considering getting forged passports from a communist and a former customer of Wilhelm’s bookshop. A passing phrase, “we know a lot about people by the kind of books they buy” immediately made me think of the power of books, a theme that runs strongly throughout this novel, and Hitler’s multiple agencies that diligently worked at blacklisting, banning, and eliminating anything that could be construed as “un-German.” Banning books and limiting information access – a terrifying but still very much present concept in today’s world.

The author’s portrayal of Greta as a “pawn in a political chess game” as she is trying to fit in but failing, feels very real. In Greta’s case, with her Jewish background but lack of Jewish religion, a blond son, and a German husband, she just doesn’t belong with either Jews or Germans. Nowhere seems safe for her in war-ravaged Europe. Greta’s plight feels so real, I couldn’t help but wonder if it’s the author’s own “ambiguous sense of belonging” in Bavaria (he was born in Germany from a mixed heritage marriage) shaped his understanding and emotional connection to Greta.

An amazing book on many levels. Highly recommended.

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Wonderful, September 1, 2013

I was gifted this book to review and it is one of the best books that I have read about WW2 . A very humane and personable. The family of weavers where like a family to me. I felt the pain that Greta experienced…. Rather than reading about the atrocities that occurred during the war, this writer wrote about a family and all of the trials and tribulations they experience. While presenting facts about the war that tied everything together…. I would highly recommend this book.

 *****

An Oblique Lightness of Being, September 2, 2013
 
This review is from: The Luck of the Weissensteiners (The Three Nations Trilogy) (Volume 1) (Paperback)

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… two decades before the setting of Kundera’s novel, but dealing similarly in the themes of identity, nationality, shifting ideas and shifting frontiers.

I called up Kundera’s name because Fischer has the same oblique style and concentrates on the slow steady construction of his characters until they are flesh and blood people that we know as intimately as our neighbors and friends. His story portrays struggle, romance, separation and, ultimately, redemption in a way that is both moving and totally believable. The moment I finished this book I clicked into Amazon to find the second book in the trilogy. That says all that needs to be said.

*****
THANKS EVERYONE FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART FOR THE SUPPORT! Reviews like this keep us writers going, so thanks for taking the time and writing such lovely and heart-felt comments.
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