Category: Guest Blogs


Hi all:

Today we have a bit of a treat for you – a guest post and giveaway from Vered Ehsani, original member of the Creative Reviews group and co-participator in the Christmas Lites charity anthologies. Vered writes fascinating, unusual paranormal novels set around African mythology and for a short time only, you can download some for free! Details below….

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What happens when Lara Croft meets Jane Austen in colonial Africa? You get the USA Today bestselling “Society for Paranormals”, a delightful cozy mystery series in which a paranormal investigator refuses to let danger, death and unwanted suitors inconvenience her in the small town of Nairobi. Vered explains why she wrote the series:

Having lived in Kenya since mid-2000, I wanted to write about my home. I noticed a distinct lack of books about African mythology and paranormal creatures (apart from Egyptian ones), so I decided to do something about that. Miss Knight, the main character of the “Society for Paranormals” series, seemed the best person to accompany me on that journey. After all, we share a few likes (tea, archery and exploring) and dislikes (wet dogs, giant bugs and naughty monkeys).

When I began researching for the series, I was impressed at the paranormal diversity in Eastern, Southern and Western Africa. Here are a few of my favorites.

Called a ghost, demon or ogre, the Popobawa attacks people at night while they sleep, instilling terror in whole villages along the East African coastline and islands. The name is derived from the Swahili words for “bat” and “wing”, as its wings have a bat-like appearance. The Popobawa shape-shifts into human form during the day. At night, when it attacks, it changes into a man-sized bat with gigantic wings, talons, pointy ears and one eye in the center of its forehead.

The Tokolosh is a brown, hairy three-foot high dwarf. It speaks with a lisp and is usually naked. There are several stories regarding the origin of the Tokolosh, but they all result in a rather disagreeable beast. Some claim it is a dwarf zombie which can be created by following this simple recipe: 1) remove the eyes and tongue from a full-sized corpse; 2) stick a heated iron rod into the skull in order to shrink the corpse; 3) blow a secret powder into its mouth, giving it life and obedience to its creator.

I’d always thought fireflies were romantic, until I heard of the Adze. A vampire in the legends of the Ewe people of West Africa, it moves about as a firefly. In its human form, the Adze will attack and eat your organs. When in its insect form, the Adze will suck your blood while you sleep, and in doing so spread diseases. Its preferred victims are unfortunately young children. And for those victims who survive, they suffer again by becoming a witch possessed by the Adze’s spirit. Unlike European vampires, the Adze has no fear of the sun.

The first book in the series, Ghosts of Tsavo, is free, as is the prequel and a beginner’s guide to African supernatural beings; pick up your copies from http://veredehsani.co.za/free-books/.


As if that’s not awesome enough, you can pick up 8 books for $2.99! On 29 January, Stones of Nairobi (the seventh book in the series) will be released. Everyone who buys a copy in the first 48 hours of its launch will also get free access to seven more books. For all the details on this time-sensitive deal, go to http://veredehsani.co.za/books/stones-of-nairobi/

Enjoy this excerpt from Stones of Nairobi:

A cool dampness enveloped us as we descended into the tomb but it wasn’t a pleasant relief from the humid heat above. Moist slime soiled the walls. The air clung to my skin with hints of moldering bones and unpleasant secrets. In a few steps, we were entirely swallowed by earth and shadows. The opening above our heads provided us only the dimmest illumination. Still, as the tomb we entered was not so big, it was sufficient for the purpose.

A sarcophagus filled most of the space. Carved out of a single chunk of coral, it had similar engravings on the side as the stone above it. The outline of an unusually tall man protruded out of the lid, the carved features of the face sombre and stern.

“Do we need to launch into poetry again to open this lid?” I inquired. “Or will a song and dance suffice?”

Smirking, Koki replied almost affectionately, “Insolent human.”

Approaching the sarcophagus, she gestured to me to join her. Wordlessly, we both pushed on the lid. Despite its size, it wasn’t as heavy as it appeared. I could only thank the porosity of coral for that one consolation. In preparation for the fumes that would certainly exit around us, I ceased breathing through my nose and, as the lid crashed onto the other side, I held my breath entirely.

Peering down, we came to the same realization at the same instant: Liongo’s body was gone.

“Well, how inconsiderate,” I said as I turned to Koki. “It’s one thing to drag me half way across the country to this desolate, dreary and uncomfortable isle. It’s quite another to do so for no purpose at all.”

Bewilderment was a rare, if impossible, mood for Koki and yet, in that moment, it clouded her countenance thoroughly. “I don’t understand. The body is supposed to be here.”

A glimmer caught my attention. I leaned over the edge of the sarcophagus, its cool stone pressing into my waist, and studied the phenomena through my glasses.

“There’s more writing here,” I said and read the inscription. “Cool water.” Straightening up and removing my glasses, I scoffed, “There’s nothing cool around here.”

“It’s the Maasai name for Nairobi,” Koki said, her smug smile reasserting itself. “Enkare Nairobi. Cool water. His body must have been moved there, to protect him from his enemies.”

Before we could continue discussing the whereabouts of a corpse, a deep, throaty, snarling growl vibrated around me, its volume equivalent to an entire pride of lions growling together. The earth vibrated just as we heard an explosive crashing above our heads. Bits of coral and dust loosened and fell upon our upturned faces. Something large covered the opening to the tomb.

In the resulting darkness, I heard Koki sigh.

“What is that?” I demanded, hefting my walking stick in preparation.

Koki replied in a bored tone, “That, dear Miss Knight, is why the island is deserted.”

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Many thanks for that, Vered, and best of luck for the launch tomorrow! 

Go and find your free copies, peeps! Certainly I am about to do so. Next week we’ll be back to the usual ramblings from me; in the meantime have a lovely weekend, and here’s that link to Vered’s website again, so you don’t need to scroll back up for it:http://veredehsani.co.za/books/stones-of-nairobi/ (See how I spoil you…!)

Happy reading, and if you have questions or comments for Vered, please comment below. 

JAC.

Hi all: 

Once again the weekend beckons, and this week is the last of #NaNoWriMo.This year, I am chuffed to say, I have written my 50k words already, rah! Trying to keep the momentum up till the end of the month but I am getting pretty tired. 

 Fox in the Snare is now at about 50k words and it’s about to all get busy in the Valley again, though I am sad as one of my characters who was supposed to have a happy ending has messed up and now is having a premature one instead. Sadly, it makes a lot more sense to the general narrative arc this way, but there is a certain amount of snivelling into the keyboard happening in his scenes. Damned awkward characters! I liked this one too. But sometimes there is an inexorable pull in a certain direction and if you resist it, it shows, and jolts the reader out of the moment. Besides, usually when there is that tidal movement going on, it’s a kind of balanced evolution towards a goal which will ultimately work better than anything I had in mind. Which is all quite irritating (don’t look at me, I just hold the pen!) (all right, tap the keyboard!). 

So come the end of November I will drop tools on Fox and get on with the Christmas shorts which are in the works. The first is The Locket, which is a short story from the world of On Dark Shores, but set some twenty years before that story, when Nereia was a child living in luxury with her parents. The second is The Holly & the Ivy, which is a standalone sequel to A Sprig of Holly. Hoping to have Wesley Souza do another of his beautiful covers for that one! 

And in the meantime, Christmas Lites 6 is due out any minute, and there will be a cover reveal for that due with the breakdown of how the picture was made again (because I love that bit of the process best). Wesley has done another fabulous job on there, so I can’t wait to show it to you!

So, busy busy, eh?

In the meantime Flight from Shantar is currently pinned under the scalpel of editor #1, fellow novelist and talented playwright Julia Lee Dean. I asked her to tell us a little bit about what she’s up to at the minute (though not too much about all the bacon sarnies she’s had to cut out of the book… again…!)

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Julia Lee Dean

writer – editor – teacher

A quick glance at the kitchen clock tells me it is nearly 12:40pm, German time. I am at home, in Bad Godesberg, a suburb of Bonn and, so far it’s been a good day. I was awake at 6am this morning which was useful because it means I did my 15 pages of editing for J.A Clement before I launched into my main task of the day; 20 university exam papers to mark. You see, I am not only a novelist and editor, since my move to Germany in 2014 I have been working as an English teacher in and around Bonn. The trick with exam marking is rather similar to that of proof-editing; don’t try and do it all at once. A little bit at a time guarantees a closer attention to detail and avoids tunnel-vision. I must admit, exam marking isn’t my favourite thing but it does allow me to work from home which means I can sit, as I am now, with curlers in my hair and look forward to a meal that I have not been carrying in my bag since before dawn.

However, while the exams I mark are only mildly annotated, the novel I am editing is bristling with comments; observations about descriptions and characters designed to give the author something to think about with a view to development or amendment rather than direct instructions (I can only suggest, I cannot be not the authority on someone else’s novel). Occasionally I edit the text itself; typos of course and grammar when I think another tense works better. Since setting up shop as an English-language teacher, I seem to have become rather more sensitive to grammar. Again, it’s all using the “this is my opinion, feel free to ignore” approach that J. A. Clement and I agreed when we were at university, editing each other’s poems. Online editing (tracked changes) makes that so much easier! As I write that, I am rather aware that when I had my novel edited, I chose hardcopy and really loved it. I prefer to work from hardcopy but I must admit that online is much more environmentally friendly.

I have just taken up my current novel after rather a long break. Well, not a break exactly, more a prolonged period of not-getting-very-much done. Over the last two years, I have worked very hard to establish myself as an English teacher and make enough money to be able to pay rent without sacrificing my social life. So far so good. However, my own novel writing has suffered quite a bit. It’s just taken off again over the last few weeks – I do find NaNoWriMo a helpful motivator – but it’s still caught in between the need for gainful employment and the rather demanding (three times a week with homework each time!) German course I finally managed to squeeze into my schedule in August this year. Still, I must admit I do consider myself pretty lucky. Nowadays I enter an office only to teach English and, considering how much I used to hate being in an office, this is an incredible boon.

I am, however, very excited about my new novel. It is the sequel to my first novel, And I Shall Be Healed. That book followed the experiences of a young Army Chaplain on the Western Front during the First World War. The sequel, Lost & Won picks up the story five years later and takes Leo and his wife through the 1920s and 1930s, an era of incredible – and sometimes harrowing – change. Up until a few weeks ago, my writing was sporadic to say the least. However, joining NaNoWriMo gave me the impetus to finally type up the novel so far (I write longhand in the first instance) and, since then, the new material has been flowing fairly steadily from my pen. I must admit I do find the research task ahead a little daunting but right now I’m just enjoying feeling my way around my characters. Some already familiar but growing older and adapting to experience, and others quite new. I do not consider myself to suffer from writers’ block. When the words won’t come I go and do something else, grateful for what I know will be a temporary release. So far this year I have taken three exams in music theory, set up The Bonn Writers’ Club to give myself and others pure, unadulterated time to write (we meet in a café once – two times a month and just work on whatever we’re working on) and I even managed to acquire a certificate in Foundation Journalism from the NCTJ so, hopefully, I will be able to ease off some of the teaching in favour of more editing and writing work.

If the writing goes on at the current rate, I shall have a good bit done by Christmas. For those who are looking for an editor, I am taking bookings from January 2017. An average novel (c 86k words) should take a month at most. Articles and academic stuff is usually a lot quicker. If you’re interested and want more information, have a look at my website. On the “Novelist” you’ll be able to have a look at the reviews my novel attracted and, if there’s anything else you want to know, just contact me through the site or at julialeedean@gmail.com

For now, keep writing. If the writing’s not happening, read something!

Julia 

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Thanks for that, Julia.

Having read her first book I Shall Be Healed, I gave copies to my Mum, Dad and mother-in-law, all of whom loved it (and in my Dad’s case you have to bear in mind that he didn’t read much). It is a quietly melancholic book, very understated and consequently very effective – if you like the slow development of characters, I can heartily recommend it.

She has edited all of my stories (I think all?) and I can tell you she’s pretty easy to work with. If you’re after a thoughtful and perceptive editor who suggests rather than demands, look no further! Moreover, she has a great grasp of characters and plot holes – certainly she’s saved me from a couple of howlers (and we’re even still on speaking terms…) Heheheheh.

So that’s it for me this week, peeps. Hoping to bring you a cover reveal next week, so watch this space. If you’re still working on Wrimo, keep at it! You’re on the home stretch now. If you need harassment of an encouraging nature, add me and I will cheer you on from the sidelines… 

In the meantime, don’t forget there’s still time to get your freebie copies of The Last Dragon and The Scarred Artisan from Instafreebie – and watch this space as there may be an amusing Christmas short going up there too, under the name of Trial by Christmas Pudding, no less. A comic historical cowboy romance? Don’t mind if I do….

Have a good weekend, all, and catch you on the upside.

Take care:

JAC

 

Hey all:

It’s been a bit quiet around here of late, so just a quick update for you . Partly it’s been a bit quiet because my job has just gone mental as well as the fact that it’s house-moving season again, so all the usual time-consuming housey stuff is going on.  However, I haven’t stopped my writing (I am constitutionally incapable of doing so for more than a couple of weeks at a stretch) so I thought I’d give you all a little taste of what’s coming up in the second half of the year.

So: of my own stuff, there are a few main bits that have been keeping me busy:

a)       Inputting the last corrections to the proof copy of the paperback so I can finally, finally hit that “Publish” button. Currently about halfway through it – I’ll need to get another proof to check I haven’t missed anything but only a few steps away now! Exciting!

b)      Writing a short story for a Christmas anthology, currently titled The Locket. If you ever wondered what Nereia was like as a little girl, or wanted to know a bit more about her parents, you should enjoy this.

c)       Adding to the Parallels series of related shorts. You know when you get an idea and you think it’s going to be maybe five thousand words and then you hit twenty five thousand and wonder how that happened? This was one of those. Twenty seven centuries before Nereia and Mary’s time, there was a terrible war that raged across the world. Great armies swept across one country after the next, killing and burning everything in their path. Who was the uncanny leader who did not lust so much for world domination as absolute destruction? The Making of the Circle will explain.

d)      Expanding and editing a short from last year’s Christmas Lites anthology to release as a separate. My current intention is that the royalties from the separate will also go to the charity NCADV but the story will be available on Amazon.co.uk and the rest (which the anthology isn’t) and I’ll put a link in the back to the anthology’s Createspace page, which hopefully might spark a few more sales from this side of the water.

So that’s what’s lined up for my lunchtimes and commutes for the foreseeable. After that, there may well be a few guest blogs on the way. I’m currently working with a few other first-time authors so that they don’t have to make the mistakes that I already did!

Watch this space for more about:

–         J. Lee Dean, with historical fiction novels “The Turncoat” and “The Way Home”.

–         Jo Edwards, author of “Work-Wife Balance” which tells of the mishaps of a woman trying to hold down a job and family

–         Dulcie Feenan, whose stories describe the ups and downs of life in a small village in England

and none other than my own Mum, whose short story has just come out of editing and is due for release as soon as I can format it!

Busy busy! But it’s all good. And once my various bits of writing are out I’ll be getting on with the last part of Book 3, which is currently at 90k words and has a while more to go. (You see, you lot said you wanted longer texts and that’s just what you’ll get – no idea how long it will be at the current time but I’m aiming at somewhere between 100k-150k, depending on when I get to a sensible stopping place).

So that’s this year and probably at least a part of next year sorted… Have I mention how much I love this publishing lark??

< pipedream >

Now all I need to do is earn enough to go part-time and I’ll be firing books out so fast my editors will beg for mercy!

< / pipedream >

Probably the readers too, alas….

Anyhow, enough listing of stuff and more doing of work, methinks! I’ll finish for now but do watch this space – soon as I have the last proof sorted and checked through I’ll be talking launch dates, and unless we’re moving house at that time there will be online contrafibularities involved (and possibly a crafty pint for anyone local enough to get to London and interested enough to partake)!

Have a good one, peeps, and will catch up with you later;

JAC

Hey all –

As you know, now that ODS 1 & 2 are both out, I’m about to release the paperback. It’s currently in formatting and should be ready to go to the printers quite soon, but in the meantime, I have a new cover to show you and in all honesty I’m too excited to wait any longer!

It was done by the inimitable Regina Wamba of Mae I Design, and below you’ll find her guestpost. I will say, when you’ve read it, do go and look at her design gallery – there are such beautiful pictures and book covers there that I keep having to go back and see if she’s got any new ones up!!

So without more ado, here is my lovely new cover:

 Image

 

It’s based on a photo of model Maria Amanda by photographer Helle Gry Schaub – and now that you’ve admired it, here is a little more detail about the designer…

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 Name: Regina MaeAnn Rasmussen Wamba

Covers for books by:  MaeIDesign (pronounced May I Design! It was meant to be clever!!)

Website / Gallery: www.maeidesign.com or www.facebook.com/maeidesignandphotography/

One-sentence biog: I don’t blog. You have to be able to write to blog. No bueno here!

Links:

www.twitter.com/reginawamba/

www.facebook.com/maeidesignandphotography/

http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2873421-regina-wamba

Questions:

What is the first picture you remember making?

Horsies… I loved horsies. EVERYTHING was horsie related. And because it’s been a long time… I will say it again. Horsie.

When did you know you wanted to do art for a living?

Gah… FOREVER. I used to watch Bob Ross and think… now this is what I want to do. Now, not technically am I doing what bob did, but hey… I love creating. He made some great trees you know?

When you draw / make art, do you have a routine or habit?

Not really. I usually just find something that sparks a thought, which sparks pictures, which sparks me doing something creative. I have to have some sort of outlet with me at all times, otherwise scraps of paper get used as my canvas and that isn’t really all that efficient.

What kicks off the picture? Do you plan it or do you start with a line and see what it looks like?

Usually I just have a base, and then everything kind of just happens. 🙂

When you do bookcovers, what in the summary tends to catch your attention?

Sometimes the whole thing, but usually I have to read a bit more than a summary to get a “FEEL” for the cover…. I want to express your words in image format… It’s important that I get it right.

Of your various  artistic endeavours, which is your favourite?

Because I live in a teenytinylittlepuny house… I don’t have the space for a studio, so I don’t get to do paintings and such as often. But when I do, I enjoy probably drawing first, and painting second. And then my other favorite art form is photography. Boy… that is just FUN… I love all types of art!

When you make covers without a story, is that a different artistic process from when you have a summary to work from?

Yes, basically it is more free rein. I get something small to make something big. BUT I get more vivid imagery when I read more.

Do you have a favourite cover or picture that you’ve done?

I love my daughter’s picture of the dragonflies where it looks like her hair is on fire. I called it “Do you believe in Magic?” I love the colors, space and wonder in that manipulation. It was her one year picture, and I ended up just having more fun with it when I got home! 🙂

Do you read much, and if so what?

YES. I love to read! Love Love Love… I love historical romance, new adult and young adult paranormal. I love anything paranormal. But I also enjoy a good book if it makes me think.

 

Do you have an e-reader?

I have a Nook and and iPad!

Have you read and enjoyed any other indie authors?  

Oh yes! Cambria Hebert, Brynn Meyers, Hanaan Rosenthal, John Corwin, Jacob Walker, Penelope King… and this gets longer…

What are your views on self-publishing /  e-books?

I really only read on an e-reader, so all I really have are ebooks. 🙂 I love how much control authors have over their books… but I wish that it was easier for them too! There are tons of VERY VERY talented individuals!

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So there we have it! Did you like my cover? What do you think?

Thanks to Regina for her splendid cover and for guesting here – and to the rest of you, watch this space for news of the paperback, and if you’d like to be involved in the launch party (and I’m intending to have giveaways and prizes and all sorts), drop me a line….

Catch you later peeps!

JAC

Dear all –

First an apology – this should have gone up last night but my computer is still having the occasional temper tantrum, and so I am a day later. But better late than never, esp in this case where our guest is none other than Prue Batten, who will be telling us about her new book Gisborne; Book of Pawns.

I asked Prue for a biog, and this is what she sent me;

“The best way to describe myself would be to use a quote written         about me by Mark Williams on a blog  (http://markwilliamsinternational.com/) in 2011. Since then, Mark has become my UK digital publisher through his highly successful  publishing house: MWiDP.

Here are his tongue-in-cheek words: ‘She lives in Tasmania, has a pet Tasmanian Devil called Gisborne, eats kangaroos’ testicles, has the most ridiculous one-star ever awarded on Amazon, and wrote a novel on Twitter…’

Believe it or not, most of it is true. My husband and I do own a farm so we have lots of kangaroos around, but the testicles? NEVER! As to the Tasmanian Devil? Not really the right sort of animal to cosy up to; besides, as reported in the Huffington Post, http://huff.to/f3zxSd the Devils are suffering the ravaging effects of a disease that is bringing them to the edge of extinction.

I do have a one star rating on Amazon… a woman bought my first book thinking it was an embroidery book, despite the blurb, and then gave ME a one star despite HER mistake.

And yes, myself and 50 others wrote a Jane Austen style novel on Twitter, [(#A4T) http://www.austenproject.com] which was mentioned by The Times (UK) no less as it took off in 2011.

Me in a nutshell!”

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That is indeed a corking biog! So without further ado, let me hand you over to Prue, and let’s find out a bit more about her take on one of the characters from the UK’s favourite folk-legend, and just what he looks like! JAC

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How many of you might have watched the BBC’s version of Robin Hood?

Being a lover of all things historical, both dramatic and less so, I did and I was honestly charmed by the in-jokes, the modern turn of phrase, the olde costumes with an edge and the slightly left field storylines.

In Series Two I began to hear a rather lovely male voice, one I hadn’t noticed in the first series – fans since have called it velvet, although how a voice can be velvet I don’t know… perhaps it’s the feel that tickles your spine as you hear the tone. At any rate, I was sewing at the time, and I remember looking up to see whose was the voice. It appeared to be an actor called Richard Armitage and whom I subsequently found out had an Army named after him and a global legion of fans devoted to him!

And so my affaire with Guy of Gisborne was conceived.

At the end of Series Three, I went to an online site called www.wattpad.com only to find that many fans were re-writing the series in flash-fiction form. And as I washed the floors one day, I began to imagine what Guy of Gisborne might have been without Robin Hood, without the Sheriff of Nottingham. And heresy… without Maid Marian!

Thus Gisborne the novel began – far from the traditional trope.

I began detailed research into the twelfth century, structuring the story as pure historical fiction. (I have an innate love of the hist.fict novel, stirred and fanned in the first instance by the inimitable Rosemary Sutcliffe from my childhood).

Eighteen months later I have finished writing the first in the series. I say ‘series’ advisedly because whilst there is definitely to be Volume Two, I think there could even be Volume Three… but of course my plots take me on strange journeys and Vol 2 may be the conclusion.

Gisborne, my protagonist, is based very loosely on his dopplegänger Armitage, or at least how Armitage portrayed the man… the tall, dark, embittered knight who abhors life.

So what is it that makes this man so raw?

Ah… well that’d be telling, wouldn’t it?

A postscript: The idea for a second volume came from a short story called Gisborne that I wrote for a miniature book press in America (www.bopressminiaturebooks.com) in 2011. The tiny bespoke book led me on such a journey, sold and is selling well, so that the publisher and myself sent one to the man who inspired it. We received a kind letter back, sent from his UK home in Leicestershire, whilst on a break from filming The Hobbit in New Zealand.

The short story prompted me to think hard on the ending for Vol 1 and to see that changed and manipulated, it might lead Gisborne down another even more convoluted road. Thus Volume Two is on its way!

Buy it from Amazon US and Amazon UK

The novel will be available for all other readers (eg: Nook, Kobo, i-Pad etc) by the beginning of March. It will be available in print with all online distributors in May.

Useful links:

Website: http://www.pruebatten.com

Blog: http://www.mesmered.wordpress.com

Twitter: @pruebatten

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Prue.Batten.writer

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So there you have it, guys, and many thanks to Prue for that little slice of gossip!

If you’re curious about Richard Armitage, here’s the link to his IMDB page and if you’re curious about Prue, please do go and check out her blog – sounds as if the next part of the story will be out soon, and you’ll get the news first that way!

Have a good weekend all – for the next couple of weeks I am having a push on the editing so please do check back here, but if posting is a bit sporadic it should only be for the next month or two while I concentrate on getting Book 2 out into the open.

Catch you later, peeps!

JAC

Dear all;
Today we have a guestpost and giveaway by the lovely Splitter, author of The Reluctant and it’s sequel The Willing. At the end will be a giveaway – a free copy of each and all you need to do to enter is comment with your worst joke or most embarrassing moment!

Alas at the mo my computer is offline & am having to upload this from my phone so apologies if the formatting is all shonky- I’ll sort that out later.

So here are Splitter’s books on Amazon (check out those reviews!) and will leave you with him!
JAC

Splitter’s page on Amazon.co.uk

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And Now for Something Completely Different: The US vs. the U.K.

No, I am not trying to rekindle unpleasantness that was settled more than 200 years ago. This post is about two countries separated by a common language who share completely different cultures.

Living in the US, we are somewhat insulated from the rest of the world. As a matter of fact, our largest export just might be our culture (for good or ill). Our television shows, movies, music, and books, end up all over the world. Most of us don’t take a lot of notice of things made elsewhere.

I guess I am a bit different because I have been a fan of British television since I was a kid. Dr. Who anyone? I, Claudius? I even watched soccer (sorry, I know that is a bad term over there but we have our own version of “football” and we get confused) and became a Manchester fan. We only got these movies and programs through our state’s public television stations and they were sandwiched between really worthless programming. But I loved them even though I did not always understand them.

Now, with the advent of satellites and cable, we are exposed to far more entertainment from around the world. Recently, my wife and I found BBC America on our cable system. They even show some old American shows that I still love like Star Trek the Next Generation.

But the most wonderful thing about BBC America is the programming that comes from Britain. Yes, they blur the naughty bits when there is nudity and bleep language too foul for our American ears (drives me nuts!), but the shows are outstanding!

We have a long history of stealing the best British TV shows and Americanizing them. “All in the Family” was a great old example and these days, we have “Being Human” among others. The thing is, there is nothing like the original.

In the newer British shows, I have been tremendously impressed with the writing and acting. I have favorite American TV shows too, but Hollywood turns out more trash than treasure by a wide margin. Britain seems to hit the nail on the head far more often.

Just some examples:

Luther: Who knew Stringer Bell had that accent? This show is spooky and deep with very conflicted characters. But our question is: Where are all the people? Luther is always running around an empty city. What gives? And maybe you should consider giving your police guns because Luther gets beat up a lot…by criminals with guns.

Torchwood: Ahhhh, a secondary character that should have been killed becomes a star. That’s ok, I like that woman. Great stories, but do you all really have such a problem with aliens? Why have we not heard anything about this? Seems like all of the police over there know about it. Your people are obviously better at keeping secrets than our people.

Bedlam: Now we are talking! All the actresses are super hot. My wife says the main guy is too…but she is married to me so if you question her taste, I understand. Insane Asylum turned condominium complex = win.

Fades: Maybe my favorite. Again, I find it hard to believe that so many people are dying and no one notices, but I am willing to suspend disbelief. I write fiction so I understand the need to play with reality a bit for the story. GREAT characters. I especially like the friend who is obsessed with women and Mork and Mindy. Really, though, my British friends….do all of your young men walk around in the same pink pants every day?

I had to make a stop on my blogtour here on JAC’s (that what I call her) blog because she has been such a supporter and is a talented writer in her own right. I am not sure that there is a large international market for my books because they are rather “American” in setting and language. My writing is also rather American and JAC and I have discussed the differences in styles before. So I am not sure you all will like them, but I did want you to know that some of us do appreciate what you have to offer. Maybe my books can be one of the things we export that the rest of the world might actually appreciate.

Eh, who am I kidding.

By the way, sorry for that whole “late to WWII” thing. And thanks for the Beatles. We do hope you are enjoying McDonalds, though.

I know…you all might have gotten the better end of the deal with the whole colony thing.

Splitter
==========
so peeps- to get your free copies of Splitter’s very entertaining books, all you need to do to enter is comment with your worst joke or most embarrassing moment!

We will post the winner over the weekend, and you may have the ebook in whatever format you specify.

Thanks for dropping by, all – now, enter below!
JAC

Hey all:

This week’s guest post is by another alumni of Creative Reviews, no less than Beth Ann Masarik. She has recently brought out Prince of Darkness, part of her trilogy The World Among Us. So all you fantasy  / romance fans, take a look at her interview below and be aware that she’s going to do a giveaway- there will be a couple of great prizes, all to be had for a simple comment below.

I leave you in Beth’s capable hands!

JAC

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Name: Beth Ann Masarik

Author of: The World Among Us: Prince of Darkness

Genre/s: Young Adult/Fantasy (Urban Fantasy)

P- or e-book: All formats…paperback, hardcover, and e-book

Available from:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords & Otherworld Publications

One-sentence summary: The World Among Us is a Young Adult/Fantasy Trilogy that has plenty of Greek Mythology & Vampire lore, and of course, forbidden love.

  One-sentence biog: I love to write, read and    role play.

 Links to your Blog / Twitter / FB / other:

The World Among Us Fanpage,

My Author fanpage

 Twitter accounts:

@theworldamongus &

@literarylunes

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When you write, do you have a routine or habit?

I usually like to write in my bed, with my pajamas on, and the music blasting in the background. I usually listen to something fast beat.  This is going to sound weird, but I like to try to write to the beat of the music. Does anyone else do that?  I also usually have either a glass of Pepsi or mom’s homemade iced tea & a bag of chips with me when I write.

What kicks off the book – a character, a situation, a plot-point? 

Usually a situation is what kicks off my books.

Do you plan the plot or follow it as it unfolds? How much do you know in advance? 

I usually do very little planning.  I like to have set goals or situations that have to happen in each book I write.  Otherwise, I usually just let my characters write the books, and I dictate.  Sometimes, however, my characters tend to sidetrack, and I have to get them back on track and plot a little bit.

Do you write character notes or background information?

Yes!  That is mostly what I plot. It’s how I get to know my characters.

Do you do research and how?

It depends on the topic I am writing about, but yes, I do research.  I usually browse the internet for said topic, and keep looking until I find whatever it is I am looking for.

Do your characters do as you intend or do they tend to run away with the plot? 

My main characters are generally good with doing what I want them to. However, once in a while they tend to get off track.

Do you have clear visuals of places or characters? 

Most of the time, yes I do.  It’s getting that vision into words that’s the problem sometimes.

When you have writer’s block, what do you do? 

When I have writer’s block, I usually put the book down for however long I need to, and read.  I usually read books in the genre I write in, and after a while, something I read or see in real life will spark an idea. I find that going to church is actually a good place to get inspiration from.  I often find myself zoning out of the homily’s after the gospel during mass, and entering the thoughts of my characters.  It’s a nice escape I have to say (especially if the sermon is really boring lol)

What made you decide to write this story? 

I’ve always been into the fantasy world, and love vampires and witches (not so much werewolves).  It was one of those stories that once I got the idea for it, it just HAD to be written.

What element did you start with and how did it develop? 

I started out with knowing the last ¼ of The World Among Us: Prince of Darkness, and developed the story around it.  It sounds complicated, and I guess you could say I kind of wrote the book backwards, but it developed nicely (I think).

Did anything change substantially along the way?

Sometimes something that started as a detail suddenly becomes a plot point. Have you had that happen and what was it (if it would not be a spoiler to say)?  I am sure that I have, but to be honest, I can’t remember a specific detail.  (there are just too many).

Do you have a favorite character or place? 

I hate being asked about my favorite character lol. It’s like being asked if you have a favorite child.  I love them all.  In terms of a favorite place, I would have to say Mount Olympus.  You don’t get to visit it much in Prince of Darkness, but you will get to see why it’s my favorite in Stormy Nights.

Are any of your characters / places / situations based on real life? 

Some of the places are loosely based off of places that I frequently visit in real life.  IE, Holly Oak University is based off the college I went to, and Port Washington is a real town in NY.  It’s in Nassau County, Long Island.

What are your views on self-publishing? 

If you have what it takes, go for it!  I self-publish my magazine called Literary Lunes (www.literarylunes.com), so I know that it’s a lot of hard work, and can be very frustrating if you don’t know what you are doing.  BUT if you have the time and patience, then by all means, all the more power to you!

What are your views on e-books?

I think e-books are great and convenient for traveling, but, I still prefer to hold the actual book in my hand.

Do you have / are you considering getting an e-reader?

I actually just received an e-reader for Christmas from my fiancé.  I received the Nook Color J.

Did you have your cover made /  work edited / proofed by someone else?

My cover was designed by someone that Otherworld hired.  James from JE Ellis Design designed it.

What do you do to market your book? 

I talk about it all the time on facebook, twitter etc. I have a fanpage on facebook (www.facebook.com/theworldamongus), and my twitter handle is also the title of my book @theworldamongus.  This way, whenever someone sees the name, they are always thinking or talking about my book (even when they don’t realize it!)

Are you on any social media? Which do you prefer? 

I am on too many social media websites. I am on so many, that I can barely keep up with them all.  I personally prefer facebook & twitter as opposed to myspace, however.

What has proved your most successful marketing method so far? 

Networking sites such as facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.  They are MUST HAVES, especially for new authors.  Blogging is also proving to be successful as well.

Have you read and enjoyed any other indie authors? Who / what book? 

I’m honestly only just starting with reading some Indie authors, and the one that I just read was called Legacy of the Highlands by Harriet Schultz.  It’s a new, romantic thriller that has you on the edge of your seat right to the very end.  It was out of my normal genre (YA/Fantasy), so it took me a chapter or two to really get into it. BUT once I got into it, I was hooked.  I will be writing a review for it on www.literarylunespublications.blogspot.com over the next week.

Have you any tips for other authors? 

Be kind to your fans & readers.  If you’re on a pedestal, step down.  No one likes a stuck up author.  Be humble.  If someone takes the time out to review your book, be sure to thank them, or pay it forward. If you received a bad review, take it with a grain of salt.  Remember, a review is ONLY ONE PERSON’S OPINION.

Which book review sites do you read?

I honestly try to avoid reading book review websites BUT I absolutely ADORE everyone that has been participating on my tour.  It’s hard to pick just one.

Which review sites have reviewed your book? 

Too many to list.  If you take a look at the tour list on www.bethannmasarik.com or www.bahbammymusings.wordpress.com you will get an idea of who’s reviewed me.

Are there any resources you have found really useful? 

Goodreads is a goldmine for authors, writers, and yes, even readers.  It’s a great way to connect with your fans and the general audience.  There are lots of great books out there, and Goodreads is a great resource to finding them.

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Many thanks to Beth for the interview, and now for the giveaway – Beth has kindly offered prizes for you! There will be the chance to win an ebook, a fanclub Tshirt and possibly a mug, which could be yours! To enter, please leave a comment below…. and if you know other fantasy / romance fans, please let them know as well!

Thanks to Beth for this great opportunity;

JAC

Dear all –

Happy New Year! And slightly belatedly, here is the long-promised Guestpost kindly written by Barbara Silkstone, writer of the Fractured Fairy Tales series. A bit of preamble:

………………

Name: Barbara Silkstone

Author of:

Books in the Fractured Fairy Tales by Silkstone series:
The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters


Wendy and the Lost Boys


London Broil


Snow White
– coming in 2012

 

Genre: Comedy Mysteries

Available for Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook (Amazon links at bottom of post)

My books are criminally funny fables frequently taking place between Miami and London – Snarky and Pythonesque.  I blog about eBooks and famous authors I’ve  met under silly circumstances: PD James, Stephen King, and Robert B.Parker, etc.

 Links:

http://barbswire-ebooksandmore.blogspot.com

http://www.amazon.com/Barbara-Silkstone/e/B0047L8A8W

http://www.facebook.com/people/Barbara-Silkstone/100000778601230

http://twitter.com/#!/barbsilkstone

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I get up at 4 am every morning to write. I think most writers know the time of day when their creativity peaks and when it slides into the valley. I’m strong at 4 am and 4 pm. I’m not worth a fig – creatively – in the evening. That’s when I pull out my Kindle. I don’t own a television. I gave mine away a few years ago and haven’t really missed it since I have my eReader.

Fairy Tales are my launching point. I’ve had so many strange things happen in my life and each episode can be easily related to a fairy tale or fable.  Often I know where the story is going to end up. It’s the journey that amazes me. I draw on some of the wackier events in my life.  I was born under the Sign of Silly and seem to get into the craziest scrapes. I love comedy.

The art of writing comedy is tricky. Drama is pretty clear cut. Something bad happens; there is loss, or betrayal. Comedy requires timing and execution, plus a talent for reaching universal humor. That’s the challenge. What’s funny to a fifty-year-old woman in New York may not touch the funny bone of a young mom in Texas. Our sense of humor is defined by the experiences we’ve endured. No two people “get” the same silly joke the same way.  How do I create that intimate feeling of sharing a chuckle with a friend? I assume my readers are my friends. If they don’t get it then they aren’t my ideal readers. And that’s okay. My Alice in Wonderland book has 40 / five star reviews in US. So most readers get my play on British-American humor.

I usually don’t write character notes. I seem to know the most intimate details of my lunatic bad guys. My women sleuths are all extensions of me. My characters are like old friends or nasty bullies whose stories I heard once and never forgot. So, are my quirky folks in my books based on real characters? Yup. They are blended and shaken, not stirred. Frequently my characters run away with the plot, but when I draw from my own life I shock the knickers off them.

Wendy and the Lost Boys required quite a bit of research. It takes place aboard Charlie Hook’s yacht, one of the larger private vessels in the world. I had to learn about luxury ships. Not first-hand but by reading and asking advice from yacht experts. The Predator is a yacht chock-full of high tech gadgets both real and imaginary including a cloaking device that makes the super-yacht invisible.

Wendy had to learn to fly a helicopter to rescue her friends. I needed a chopper pilot to guide me especially  since Wendy is afraid to fly. Then there were the geographic challenges. Wendy is kidnapped in the Caribbean, and is forced to trek by truck to a goat farm in north Georgia in pursuit of treasure. I put that character through hoops!   *Cackle, cackle.*

London Broil was a delight to write. It was just published in early December and is the sequel to Wendy and the Lost Boys.  Wendy and her archaeologist love-interest race to recover a rare antiquity stolen from the British Museum. I had great fun playing with some of my favorite places in London, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and of course, the British Museum. I’m a bug on Egyptology and loved doing that research and creating rare antiquities.

Algy Green reappears in London Broil after making his appearance in The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland. He’s a bad guy who super-glues his sugar-bowl ears to his head. They pop loose at the strangest times. He’s based on someone I knew who glued his ears to his noggin. Strange dude.

It sounds horrible to admit, but I’ve never had writer’s block. I’ve waited so long for the luxury of time to write that I’m like a bottle of champagne, shaken and then uncorked. I bubble over with ideas. I just hope I live to be 125 so I can get them all on paper.

I adore eBooks and love the state of eBook publishing right now. I sold over 2000 Wendy books in November. That could never have happened in the old horse and buggy traditional publishing days. I now have fans around the globe which would have been impossible two years ago. As an Indie you can be all you want and more. It takes 12-16 hours a day of hard work writing and marketing, but it is so worth it. I have two professional editors, a covey of beta-readers, and a wonderful book cover designer, and the best fans in the world.

About 75% of my friends own eReaders. Face Book  and Twitter are great for reaching your ideal readers. Word of mouth is super. The sites that are subscription based for eReader owners are the best way to get word out about your eBooks.

Following are just a few of the many sites my books have been reviewed on:

Red Adept Reviews, ChicklitClub.com,  Bock on Broadway, Tiffany’s Bookshelf, GirlsWhoLovetoRead.com, and  Mark Williams International.

The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters has received 40/ five star reviews. My newest book, London Broil received a five star review from best-selling British author, Sibel Hodge.  Wendy and the Lost Boys has an average 4.8 out of 5 stars.

 

eBooks that I won’t forget:

The Ex-Boyfriend’s Hand Book  by Matt Dunn

Sweet Ophelia by Kenneth Rosenberg

Both are romantic comedies written by men.

I adored A Thousand Glass Flowers written by Australian Author, Prue Batten. There are too many wonderful indie books to mention in one post.

 

 At the end 0f Dec 2011, what progress have you made this year?  

I published two more novels :Wendy and the Lost Boys and London Broil.

Both Wendy and the Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland were in the top ten best-selling comedies. At one time they were both in the top twenty at the exact same time. Wendy became a #3 best-seller ranking over major comedy writers in the US.

I was honored to take part in an anthology, the proceeds of which go to benefit breast cancer research. The Indie Chick Anthology introduced me to twenty-five inspiring women who share their stories on overcoming incredible obstacles. I highly recommend it.

Where will you be with your writing in Dec 2012?

Two more novels and two more anthologies.  Snow White will be a continuation of my Fractured Fairy Tale series, and the other will be another adventure with Wendy and her archaeologist lover, Roger Jolley. They will be recovering more stolen Egyptian artifacts.

What are your predictions for the year?

It’s impossible to predict. Each day brings new changes in the industry. Not sure what will happen I just know we are not going backwards.

 

Regarding your deeply personal questions:

 

Liquorice can never be evil. It is one of the best flavors.

Cats or dogs?  Cats rule! Love their independence and haughtiness.

Favourite recipe? Kentucky Fried Chicken – extra crispy.

Favourite gadget?  Dental floss

Favourite wine / beverage / coffee?  I only drink fine champagne, water, and coffee.

Unusual phobias or talents?  Phobia… I hate holes in fabrics. I’ve had this phobia since I was an infant. I’ve never met anyone else who shares my freak-out from holes in cloth. When I go to the hairdresser or nail salon, they know to hide any towels that might have the slightest inkling of a hole. If I’m shopping and I see a selection of ladies jeans with holes in them… I leave the store. I get the shudders just thinking about holes in fabrics.  Let’s leave this topic. Yuck!

Onto the New Year ~

Wishing all a glorious 2012… full of surprises… never boring… always challenging.  May the wind be at your back… because it hurts when it blows in your eyes.

Love,

Barbara Silkstone

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So there you have it, folks! Now, while you’re all raring to investigate these witty rewrites of old favourites, here are the links for you! So do check out the following, and  if you have any questions or comments for Barbara, hit the button and have your say!!

Thanks to Barbara for answering all these questions for us. More next week but I haven’t planned what yet (Christmas mayhem, don’t ask!) but here for your delectation are the Fractured Fairytale links – download the sample and take a look?

Catch you later guys:

JAC

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Barbara’s books and where to buy them:

The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wendy and the Lost Boys

Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

London Broil

Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Adventures of a Love Investigator, 527 Naked Men and One Woman

Amazon.com    Amazon.co.uk

 

Barb’s Wire – eBooks & More

 

A Moose Walked into a Bar –  (group blog)

 

Happy Christmas!

Hey all –

First, have a great Christmas! I’m in the depths of the countryside so out of signal and out of touch apart from brief jaunts into town, so in the meantime here’s a Christmas guest post which I wrote for Lee Sinclair and co at Boomers and Books, called

The Curious Incident of the Turkey in the Night-time

hope you enjoy it!

Other than that, I’m inputting edits as far as is possible between taking the niece Christmas shopping, making mince pies and “humorous” top-up pressies (tremble all ye who might be getting one!) and taking anything between 5 and 9 dogs  of assorted sizes and shapes for a walk.

So have an excellent Christmas and New Year, and if you haven’t already bought your copy (or ecopy ) of Christmas Lies, links are at the bottom of my guest post!

Do come back on 30th when Barbara Silkstone will be doing our New Year’s guestpost; in the meantime, take care and Happy Christmas to all and sundry!

JAC

 

Morning peeps!

And here we are with barely ten days to Christmas, with a very seasonal post for you!

For the English, Christmas means Pantomime season, and panto is so much a part of the national psyche that for me it was a real surprise to find out that they don’t do pantomime all over the world, but apparently so.

For those of you who have never experienced the madness of panto, you are about to meet one of the great phenomena of Englishness… If you haven’t a clue what we’re on about, shout and we’ll explain what pantomime is and what the conventions are!

So without further ado (and not too much heckling from the back), let me  hand over to Lexi who will introduce the main character’s for tonight’s entertainment….

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PANTOMINE SEASON IN PUBLISHING

It’s the pantomime season – who were the heroes, villains and pantomime dames of the literary world in 2011? It’s a matter of opinion, so take your pick from the following suggestions.

  •  Look out, he’s BEHIND you! Amazon is the big bad villain, twirling his moustache and swirling his cape. Counts against him this year: stealing the livelihood of bookshops (many of them small, local and independent), seducing innocent young indies with the evil KDP Select scheme, banning innocuous authors from their forums, and generally attempting world dominance in a manner worthy of a Bond villain. Publishers had never noticed indies were making them money, until nasty Amazon wanted to keep them all to itself. Boo! In November, famously nice Michael Palin criticized Amazon – nuff said.
  •  And swarming behind Amazon, alarming many a blogger, are the Orc-like hordes of self-publishers, who have the temerity to seek readers – even though they have been told frequently by the gatekeepers to Go Away, their writing is Not Good Enough, and certainly can’t compete with the likes of Katie Price or Pippa Middleton. They are also known as the Tsunami of Crap, through which desperate readers will be forced to wade in search of a decent read.
  •  Cinderella: she is every indie author with a good book the traditional publishing industry won’t touch, drooping disconsolately and patronized by passing literary agents. She keeps writing because she has to. Wash off the cinders, and she does not look all that different from the lucky elite who do have invitations to the publishing ball.
  •  Fairy Godmother: the Kindle, without which Cinderella would not have been able to go to the ball. There are other, lesser fairies around, but their light is dimmed by Fairy Kindle. Watch out for Fairy Fire, surely coming soon to the UK, Fairy Nook, and Fairy Kobo, to be found in WH Smith’s.
  •  Prince Charming: Appearing now in Good Cop guise, it’s Amazon again, who scoops indie author Cinderella from her hopeless situation and enables her to sell her books, sometimes in rather large numbers. Sad to say, Prince Amazon is not in love with Cinders; his eye is fixed firmly on the bottom line. He believes she will contribute to his wealth and standing in the kingdom. She will stick with him as in spite of all his faults, he promises her a brighter future than…
  •  Buttons: Mark Coker, proprietor of Smashwords, helping Cinders with her chores, wanting to share his humble home with her, but ultimately not offering anything like as much as the Prince.
  •  Whoever that character was who offered Jack five beans in exchange for his cow: Penguin, with their scheme to take advantage of indie authors by volunteering to format and load their books to KDP for a mere $549 plus 30% of their profits in perpetuity. And Penguin’s beans won’t turn out to be magic, either.
  •  Pantomime dame: Katie Price, best selling novelist, an ornament to Random House’s author list.
  •  Pantomime horse: Authonomy, which some of us believed was a racehorse when it first appeared. We were wrong. Sorry, Scott Pack, but does anyone take it seriously any more? What, exactly, has it achieved in three years, except to waste a great deal of its members time?

Do you agree with my choices – have I missed anyone? Whom would you suggest?

Lexi

Replica UK    Replica US    Remix UK      Remix US

www.lexirevellian.com

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So, what do you think? Do you agree, disagree, or need explanation? Many thanks to Lexi for that, and do weigh in and let us know who your own candidates would be!

Any thoughts?

JAC