Monday, 30 April 2012

Love and Circuses: A Review of The Midget's House

My Book Review of The Midget's House by Anita Bartholomew:



I loved this book. Now I might have been a bit pre-disposed to enjoy it considering it’s full of things that interest me: ghosts, history and circus performers, but there is enough charm and grace in the book to entrance any reader.

The book essentially tells the story of two women, Marisa, who is starting her life over after loss, and the ghostly Lucinda, whose truth has been lost in time. Their stories interweave in a fascinating tale of mystery, ghosts, romance, and circus history until they collide in a tense conclusion.

The perspective of this novel is told from two points-of views, Marisa’s and Lucinda’s, and shifts the reader back and forth from the modern day to the early 20th century. Now this change could have easily become disjointed, but the author makes the transition seamless, and as a reader I flowed through the story effortlessly. Both Marisa and Lucinda are compelling characters -never seeming helpless or weak, even when they faced adversity- and you are naturally pulled into their captivating parallel stories.

The book is also rich in alluring backdrops of setting and description. Both worlds come to life exquisitely as the book takes you on a charismatic journey through modern Florida and the bygone era of the heydays of carnivals and circuses. This lovely detailing keeps the book’s pace flowing perfectly until the end.

The Midget’s House is an easy and enthusiastic recommend

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Of Farce and Fantasy: A Review of Magnus Opum

My Book Review of Magnus Opum by Jonathan Gould:


Magnus Opum by Jonathan Gould is whimsical fantasy novel, that trips along the path fantastic. It takes a quiet approach to its storytelling, but also regales the reader with a frothy sprinkling of satire and wit.

The book begins with an unlikely hero, Magnus Mandalora, an unassuming character from Lower Kertoob. An unexpected event turns his life askew and sends him off into the world. He embarks on a spy mission of sorts, finds friends and unlikely allies, and uncovers enemies, danger and escapades galore.

The narrative style follows the traditional epic quest, but folds in an absurdist quality, balancing the plot on a decidedly quirky edge. The characters are both amusing and appealing, and carry the reader blithely along on the adventure. On the surface the story portrays itself as a conventional, if fanciful, fantasy, with a touch of light farce, but by its end has flipped a few fantasy traditions on their head.

I enjoyed reading this book very much with its clever turn of phrase and endearing characters. It never renders too much idiosyncrasy, or becomes overburdened with cuteness. It strikes a perfect balance of odd and sincere and I give it an enthusiastic recommend.


The book is available from Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Magnus-Opum-ebook/dp/B007QGNO1I

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Interview with Caddy Rowland

Today, another author joins us for interview.  Please welcome Caddy Rowland, author of The Gastien Series...


1. Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

Well, I have been published for less than a year. I had always wanted to write a novel, but put it on hold. You know, that “someday” file. Then, two years ago, I got breast cancer.  It was caught really early, so I am completely cured, but getting cancer taught me that “someday” can easily never come. After I had finished up with radiation and started to get my strength back, I decided to go for it.


2. Can you tell us about your book, Gastien Part 1: The Cost of the Dream?

It is the first book in The Gastien Series (there will be five). This book is really Gastien’s coming of age, and his struggle to stay alive on the streets of Paris.  It takes place in late nineteenth century Paris. That was during the height of Impressionism in painting.  Gastien is from a farm, the eldest son of a cruel, abusive father.  He leaves home at eighteen to become a painter and, no matter what the cost, have his own studio.  Peasants owning property was almost impossible in those days.  Because he suffered physical and mental abuse, he would like to feel something besides pain, but does not want to get close to anyone. He  decides to become a very skilled lover.  That way he can finally feel pleasure. He heard his father using his mother and how it made her cry, so he vows to also make it wonderful for the women he partners with.  That was unheard of in those days, so he would become a very desirable lover by the wives and daughters of the upper classes.
There is a lot of darkness and struggle in the book. Gastien vowed to stop at nothing to get his dream. When promoting the book, I like to say:  Sometimes the “impossible” is possible. But the cost can be extremely high.


3. What motivated you to write Gastien’s story?

I am also a painter, so that era has always interested me. I did some past life regression and ended up back during that timeframe in Paris. Reading about that whole bohemian artist era in Paris is fascinating! People think we are decadent now, but we are nothing compared to Montmartre and everything that was legal there! And what a time to be painting! The camera had been invented so artists were forced to think in new ways.  Just reproducing realism had lost its glow. In order to stay needed artists had to show things in new ways.


4. What do you find most appealing about writing historical fiction?

I get lost in the period.  It is such fun learning about the things people did not have, and about what things were considered acceptable and not acceptable. It is great fun to add historical events to fictional ones. I hope it gives the reader a sense of belonging to another time.


5. What’s the hardest part of the writing process for you?

I need to work on weaving in historical events and facts better instead of dumping too much information at once. I would say that is hardest for me.


6. How much research do you do for your books?

I spend just as much time researching as I do writing the story. I use the internet and various books.  I had three books that I used a lot for the first two books in the series.


7. What was the best advice you ever received as a writer?

To go indie. I did not realize that the majority of new authors were doing that. What freedom!


8. Who has inspired you as an author?

I don’t have specific authors that inspire my writing, but I do have certain ones I love to read.  They tend to be male for some reason.  I liked Harold Robbins, Sidney Sheldon, John Steinbeck, and George Orwell (1984 is my favorite novel).
All of these authors wrote raw, gritty stories that were not always pretty.  Some were very graphic and angst ridden.  I like a story that causes strong reaction.  I don’t write pretty, I write real. I also write for a reader who likes characters who are at times hated, and yet loved. Readers who do not expect a certain formula, but want to be entertained and moved.
 I also really love William Burroughs, an old beatnik writer.  His novels are very surreal.  Not for those looking for realism, the writing is like an abstract painting.


9.  What’s next for you?

Well, Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny came out in December and I am currently working on the third book in the series.  The name of it is Tristan Michel: Bloodline of Passion.  I hope to have it out in May.  Then I will write books four and five.  After that, who knows?  I have several novels pounding on my brain.


Caddy's sites:

Her blog: Writer of Fiction, Painter of Life and Energy
Meet Gastien Beauchamp: http://www.facebook.com/Gastien.Beauchamp

Where to Find Gastien (Part One: The Cost of the Dream):

Available in Paperback at https://www.createspace.com/3664944
Available on Amazon for Kindle http://tinyurl.com/3ecu8ku
Available on Barnes and Noble for NOOK http://tinyurl.com/3luddg7

Where to Find Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny:

Available in Paperback at https://www.createspace.com/3749863
Available on Amazon for Kindle http://tinyurl.com/bv9zosn
Available on Barnes and Noble for NOOK http://tinyurl.com/cx87deq

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Spotlight on Socialpunk

Today, I'm playing host again, this time to author Monica Leonelle as she makes her way around the internet on a blog tour for her book Socialpunk (the first novel in the series).  There are also prizes to won; to enter just use the Rafflecopter widget located on the bottom of this post.

So here you go, an introduction to Socialpunk:



Socialpunk by Monica Leonelle

Ima would give anything to escape The Dome and learn what’s beyond its barriers, but the Chicago government has kept all its citizens on lockdown ever since the Scorched Years left most of the world a desert wasteland. When a mysterious group of hooded figures enters the city unexpectedly, Ima uncovers a plot to destroy The Dome and is given the choice between escaping to a new, dangerous city or staying behind and fighting a battle she can never win.



Excerpt from Socialpunk

Prologue:

After playing God for six years with the world he created, he couldn’t control any of his subjects, none at all. Over the years, he had watched them evolve and become the sum of their own choices rather than the sum of his; and for that, he regretted ever giving them life.
A small, blinking red light from just inside his eyelid reminded him of the news they sent him earlier that morning. The company had cancelled his funding and would shut down his project within three months. According to them, the project cost too much and took up too much space, and the inconclusive results couldn’t be published reputably, now or in the future.
Six years of his work, tens of thousands of lives at stake—and he could do nothing to save any of it. He bowed his head, letting his chin rest on the rim of his breakfast smoothie. The smoothie reeked of powder—crushed pills—but he supposed he had better get used to it. He wouldn’t be able to afford the luxury of real food after they canned him.
He closed his eyes and called up the camera view of one of his favorites, number 3281. She fascinated him; he couldn’t deny it. When he had designed her, her pre-teen rebelliousness lit fire in her eyes. A survivor, he’d thought. He’d meant for her to have it all—to grow up, to get married to the love of her life, and to have a beautiful family of her own someday.
But he had only given her sadness so far. Instead of creating a strict father, he had given her an abusive one. Instead of creating a loving boyfriend, he had given her a friend who could never love her. And instead of creating a strong, proud mother, he had given her a meek one, who watched the whole thing unfold and did nothing about it.
He looked at his last and final creation sitting in the chair across from him—his own son, not awakened yet. The law forbade him to have any children of his own, so this boy would substitute.
But he had done the unthinkable with this creation—he had bestowed on it his own thoughts, emotions, and decision-making processes. He’d given the boy his own mind, his own physical characteristics, his own wants and desires.
He had never done so with any of the others because of the dangers of investing too heavily in any one of his subjects. But who could he kid? He had not stayed objective thus far, watching some of his subjects more closely than others, wishing for the happiness of some at the expense of others. He had become an abomination, a monster of his own doing, who had created subjects only to watch them suffer.
He couldn’t forgive himself; not now, not ever. His eyes lingered on the vial that sat next to his breakfast smoothie, that he’d stowed away for the day when they destroyed all his work, his entire world. He would save it, tuck it away for now, for as long as he could protect them. When things spun out of his control, he would drink it and end himself the way he had ended them.
In the ancient stories, gods frequently gave their sons as gifts. Now, he would give his son as a gift to her, number 3281. So she could be happy in her last months on earth, before they destroyed her with the rest of them.

Socialpunk available at:




Author Bio:
Monica Leonelle is a well-known digital media strategist and the author of three novels. She blogs at Prose on Fire (http://proseonfire.com) and shares her writing and social media knowledge with other bloggers and authors through her Free Writer Toolkit (http://proseonfire.com/free-writer-toolkit).



To enter the Contest:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sunday, 15 April 2012

A Bite of Crime: A Review of Half and Half

My Book Review of Half and Half by Betsy Miller:


"It's Friday night at the local roadside diner when Roy stops in to fuel up for a night of gambling. He's got a bankroll, and the knockout at the bar just let him buy her a drink. It's boom or bust and the night is just getting started. Is Roy a high roller, or is someone else about to show him up?"

The short story Half and Half by Betsy Miller is a quick, entertaining read and was a nice introduction to the author. The story had an engaging style and well penned characters that come to life with verve and slightly dodgy dispositions.

The tale is a bit of a half and half itself, with its skilful plot part crime tale, part human nature narrative. The author mixes all the elements well and comes up with a satisfying tale for the reader. There’s also a nice twist to make things interesting.

In all, it was a great story, a fast read, and I look forward to reading more from the author.  I can easily recommend it.

Half and Half is available at:
Untreed Reads
Amazon
Barnes and Noble


Website of Betsy Miller:
http://betsymillerbooks.weebly.com


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Interview with Sylvia Ramsey

Today a guest stops by for an interview.  Please welcome author Sylvia Ramsey to the blog:


1- Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

Hello, my name is Sylvia L. Ramsey. Thank you for having me as a guest. I live in Georgia, but I grew up in a very rural area in Southeast Missouri. When I am writing or blogging, I work full-time at a two-year liberal arts college. I am a communications professor and the coordinator for the Academic Resource Center/Library. I am the advisor for our campuses newspaper, the GMC Journal. I am the vice president of the American Bladder Cancer Society, and a seventeen year survivor myself.
I was a mother of two before I married my husband Tom, and now I have gained five more.  Therefore, I am a mother of seven, grandmother of twenty-seven, and a great-grandmother of six. I love to paint and sculpt.  I have some example of my work on my current book's webpage, that is the same name as my new book.  My poetry has been published in over one-hundred literary magazines, and my short stories in several more.  I have been published in academic journals as well.  I am currently working on marketing my new book, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts. I interact with my peers on LinkedIn in various author and publishing groups, Facebook and Twitter
Many may wonder why I am so adamant in my support of bladder cancer awareness. I think it is because I remember only, too, well how badly I needed to talk to someone about it, and to find information that would help me understand what was happening to me. However, when I was diagnosed there were none of these things available. I had great medical care, but there was no informative or emotional support. I decided to try to change this if I could. Since that time, things have changed some but not nearly enough. My quest has only just begun. That is why the sales of my books are given to the American Bladder Cancer Society


2- Can you tell us about your latest book?

My newest book is a memoir, Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.  The book is a journey though time from childhood to mature adulthood. The stories and poems in this book reflect the lows and highs of life. The loving memories, the hardships and the things we learn as we travel the road of life. It covers an abusive mother who had mental problems because of being abused as a child, childhood polio, a rocky marriage with a husband who was often abusive, the role of caregiving, death and grief, coping with bladder cancer, asthma, losing a home and more. Therefore, to not to scare you off with gloom and doom, there are funny stories along the way and an ending that I never dreamed would happen. My hope is that the book will bring about understanding to others, and be inspiring to even more. Our journey in life has a purpose, finding it is often the most difficult task of all.


3- What drew you to writing non-fiction and what influenced you to write a memoir-style book?

Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts, was inspired by a young man that has some very serious heart problems, and all the people I have met over the years as a teacher, mentor and a bladder cancer survivor. I have tried my best to encourage them, and to give them hope. To not give up on themselves or life. As I have traveled along life’s highway, I keep running into people who have let the rocks that have been thrown in their life’s road giving up on themselves, or life in general. The truth is that life is harsh, and it is not like the movies that give a false impression that it is smooth sailing. Being the hero that toughs it out and keeps on regardless of the situation is difficult, but with faith, it can be accomplished. It often takes a backbone, humor and a wishbone to survive it all.


4- Can you tell us about your writing process? Do you have a certain writing routine?

I write every day, but I wouldn't classify it as a "routine." I write in my home office at the computer usually in the very early mornings, and again in the evening. My day job requires a lot of writing as well.
However, there have been times when I have had an idea, I have written things down on anything I could find. When I was working on my second book, An Underground Jewell, I drove about forty-five minutes to and from work. I would use my small tape recorder to plot out the scenes, the characters and ideas of where I wanted to take the story next. Once I had time to write, I would listen back to the recording and take it from there.


5- What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

Having more time to write. I could do it all the time. I have more books and in my head, and I want to get them told; written. The next thing is marketing. I have learned a lot in the past few years, but there is so much more to learn. Time is often the biggest hurdle.


6- How much research do you do for your books?

It depends on the book? I write from the soul. I get started on a story idea, a poem, or whatever and it is as if someone else takes over. I think we call it the muse.


7- What is the best advice you received as a writer, and what kind of tips would you give to new writers?

I think the theme of my latest book says it all, keep trying, keep writing. Find your voice and tell your stories.


8- How would you describe your books, and what type of readers do you believe are your target audience?

Each book has its own target audience. For example:

An Underground Jewell is set in a possible near-future, and is about a female sleuth who must clear herself after being accused of espionage by hacking into the national computer system. What if all the western world's information is eventually located in a central computer center, and a terrorist faction has infiltrated several of our government agencies? How much worse could it be? Just recently in the news, an illegal was discovered working at a nuclear power plant. Another aspect is the change of language. We have another famous novel that covered this: Orwell's 1984. Today we have Double Speak and many other things in our high-tech world that is changing our language. Language has an effect on our perception and our perceived reality. This is a possible scenario, and I think we may find we have reason for concern. The target audience here would be people who are interested in possible future scenarios, science fiction fans and those who read espionage novels.

My children's book,  Merchild Land, is obviously for children.  However, it is directed to young children rather than older.

The poetry book, Pulse Points of a Woman's World, is a walk though life. The book is unusual into days publishing world because it is fully illustrated with art nouveau illustrations that carry the theme of each section of the book as well as each of the poems in that section. The sections are Pulse Points of Youth, Pulse Points of Love, Pulse Points of Reality and Pulse Points of Wisdom. Many people think the poems are just for women, and I felt that was probably true, however; I have had several men who have read it and have said that they think the poems are more universal.

To answer your question about current book, Traveling , may best be answered by a couple of people who reviewed the book.

"Taking the rocky road with Sylvia is a joyful challenge. It takes the reader through the most common and uncommon hardships, but at the conclusion of this delightful journey, the reader feels more joy and satisfaction: Love, faith, and incredible guts turn the rocky road into an assuring path that all of us so humanly desire. This book is so uniquely universal in every essential aspect that I enthusiastically recommend it to all readers regardless of their age, gender, and race." ~ Dr. Aman B. Kay

"This is a tale of strength in the face of adversity. How one woman survived psychological and physical blows to her psyche and health to overcome them with courage and resilience. Sylvia faced many challenges in her life, from childhood trauma, to difficult times in her marriage, then with personal health. It was heartbreaking to learn that both received news, on the same day, that each one of them faced a cancer diagnosis--her husband prostate cancer and Sylvia's bladder cancer. Sylvia was already taking care of her husband with COPD and now prostate cancer, facing bladder cancer herself, and having to deal with her full-time, job and the only wage earner in the family.

This amazing book has it all, from terrible news to lighter humor. It all happened when a large raccoon was found on their exercycle in the morning room. He was sitting on the bike with his hands on the handle bars trying to figure out how to work it. This book is a valuable addition to those suffering from cancer and at the same time for those who have their health. Many times in life we agonize over the small dramas and forget the most important thing: that we're here on earth to enjoy life as best as we can and to forgo the insignificant events in our lives. This book teaches just that". ~ Lilian Gafni


9- What’s next for you?

Right now is getting the new book launched, and marketing. In between, I will begin to write my other stories I have yet to tell. Continue being an advocate for bladder cancer support, and try my best to be as good of a role model as my father.



You can learn more about Sylvia and her books at:

Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts
(A blog about my newest book)
Thoughtful Reflections Blog
Amazon Author's Page - All books




Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Guest Blogger Kenneth Weene: Doing Audios

Today we have a guest, author Kenneth Weene, who has dropped by to chat about a sometimes overlooked subject:  books in audio format...



Doing Audios by Kenneth Weene


Lately I have fallen in love with SoundCould, a site to which you can upload your audios and which can be easily accessed by anyone who wants to hear listen. So far, I have uploaded a long poem, a short prose poem, a chapter from my newest book, Tales From the Dew Drop Inne, and three short stories.

For those who are curious, let me set out the technique I use. I have a Mac, so I use Garage Band set on voice. I then save the recorded story to Itunes and upload that file to SoundCloud, all of which is relatively easy. I do cheat one small bit; I use an upgraded microphone instead of the built-in on the Mac.

It isn’t simply that I love the sound of my own voice. It isn’t that I expect others to swoon at the sound. It’s a decent voice with a marked New England accent—certainly nothing designed for voice-overs. In fact, for my book trailers I hire professional readers.

No, it’s that I think people want to know that there is a real person doing the writing. I want my readers to think of me as somebody they know, and what better way for them to know me than for them to listen to me read some of my work. Audio provides a personal connection.

Are there some problems with doing this? A few. Perhaps the biggest one is my accent. One Linkedin friend thought I was saying “human hat” when I was in fact saying “human heart.” Oh well, it’s little late for speech lessons.

Also, I am making myself rather public by doing these audios. There is a sense of exposure just because it is something that I am doing so directly. People are no longer just considering my crafted words but much more, the timbre of my voice, the inflections, those missed words and stammers, the coughs—the human essence.  Still, I think it well worth the time and the risk of openness.

Will these recordings result in book sales? That I cannot answer. In a sense I don’t even care. What I want is to feel good about my writing, and doing audios is another part of that great feeling I call being an author.

Here are the links to my audios. Do enjoy!

http://soundcloud.com/kenneth-weene/holocaust-rag
http://soundcloud.com/kenneth-weene/dark-warnin
http://soundcloud.com/kenneth-weene/in-the-army
http://soundcloud.com/kenneth-weene/bender
http://soundcloud.com/kenneth-weene/in-my-fathers-house
http://soundcloud.com/kenneth-weene/why-we-welcome-crickets-in-our

As for my books, I do hope you’ll check them out, too. The easiest way? Visit my Amazon page where you can find the books and reviews. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&sort=relevancerank&search-alias=books&ie=UTF8&field-author=Kenneth%20Weene

By the way, Widow’s Walk, Memoirs From the Asylum, and Tales From the Dew Drop Inne are all available in print, Kindle and Nook formats.
Read well and be happy!


Author Bio:

Life itches and torments Kenneth Weene like pesky flies. Annoyed, he picks up a pile of paper to slap at the buzzing and often whacks himself on the head. Each whack is another story. At least having half-blinded himself, he has learned to not wave the pencil.
A New Englander by upbringing and inclination, Kenneth Weene is a teacher, psychologist and pastoral counselor by education. He is a writer by passion.
Ken’s short stories and poetry have appeared in numerous publications including Sol, Spirits, Palo Verde Pages, Vox Poetica, Clutching at Straws, The Word Place, Legendary, Sex and Murder Magazine, The New Flesh Magazine, The Santa Fe Literary Review, Daily Flashes of Erotica Quarterly, Bewildering Stories, A Word With You Press, Mirror Dance, The Aurorean, Stymie, and Empirical.
Ken’s novels, Widow’s Walk and Memoirs From the Asylum, and Tales From the Dew Drop Inne, are published by All Things That Matter Press.

To learn more about Ken’s writing visit: http://www.authorkenweene.com/