Sunday, 29 May 2016

Interview With Author Arnold Logan

Today I have an interview with fellow Canadian, and satirical author Arnold Logan. Enjoy!


Interview With Arnold Logan



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

Experience has been my teacher. I shrank from the firm embrace of power, preferring to learn by sitting on a footstool in the School of Hard Knocks. But I paid what seemed to be the exorbitant price that school exacts.
I once read the story of a young man who smuggled hashish from Afghanistan through Russia in the 1970s. He rode the Siberian Express train and was caught by the Russian police, only to be put in a Siberian prison for any years. On the day he was released, he followed the example of the other prisoners who’d been freed. It was the custom there to break in half the spoon which was the one piece of cutlery the prisoners were allowed to have. Every prisoner kept that tin spoon close at hand, lest it be stolen from him. If that happened, their diet of watery, compromised soup would go uneaten and be stolen by others. Like that young man, I, too, have broken my spoon in half. Perhaps I am still breaking it.


Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?


Springtime in Lawrence Park is a roman á clef, one that’s influenced by the picaresque novels of the eighteenth century. It’s a rollicking yarn, if I dare analyse my own style.
The novel follows Marie Barnacle, the heroine or subject (if you prefer). Marie is the youngest child in an old-money family that’s slid down a few rungs on Canada’s social ladder. They have great expectations for their daughter, of course. I trace Marie’s struggles as she tries to transform herself—from a chrysalis into a butterfly. But the ancient force of authority and the genetic tug of medieval history combine with the motives of her family to oppose her progress and development.


Who is your intended readership?

The reader whose reward is sympathy.


What are your writing inspirations?

For this novel, the books that feed its cold stream are Hamlet, The Tempest, everything by Daniel Defoe (but especially Roxanna), and Dickens’ Little Dorrit.
The poets have been inspirational too. Baudelaire the Miraculous, Shelley the Gentle, Keats the Giver, Poe the Obscure.


What was the most challenging part of writing this book?

The greatest challenge was to stay the course. The second was entering the arena of dialogue; I feared that the most.


What did you most enjoy about writing this book?

The triumphal whirl that came from the inspiration inherent in composing that first draft. Which, of course, was followed by the essential work—breaking up hot rocks in the sunshine of editing.


Did anything surprise you about the process of writing your book?

The joy of unearthing buried treasures in the course of rewriting.


Why did you write this book?

I felt like a tailor sewing a coat. After devising a pattern, I cut it out and selected the fabric.
I’ve always wanted to speak, to speak of the stories I’ve gleaned or suffered through or sought out curiously. This is my first effort to be heard in public.
To say that I was inspired by emotions, by tragedy, and by an urge to honour the writers who have often rescued me would seem trite, were it not true. And the sheer pleasure derived from the process—pen in hand—inspired me to continue to the end.
When the book was complete, when it was over, it felt a bit like losing a friend, which is, of course, a bitter end. But this is one friend who I may never lose fully, and I’m starting to appreciate the sweetness of closure with its potential for a new beginning and new friendships.


What’s your next project?

I’d like to write about war and orphans, but I haven’t formed an outline yet. Right now I’m bundling some poems together to send off to magazines.



Springtime in Lawrence Park


Marie Barnacle should have had the perfect life. Born into wealth and prestige, she grew up in posh Lawrence Park, with its winding roads, stone mansions, and old money. But Marie’s charmed life is haunted by a dark family secret. The youngest child of Raul and Tabitha Barnacle, Marie Dorée is burdened by her parents’ attempts to burnish the faded glory of their dynasty. This dark satire follows Marie through her troubled childhood, rebellious adolescence, and her efforts to establish a life beyond the reach of her domineering parents and possessive brothers. She traipses from one unfulfilling career to the next and drifts through a series of dalliant affairs. When she finds a love that offers a real escape, Marie’s family tightens its noose. The Barnacles would do anything to protect their darling—even destroy her. Springtime in Lawrence Park peers past the veneer of our most dignified neighbour­ hoods to explore the hidden—and often hysterical—lives of the decadent elite



You can find Springtime in Lawrence Park at:

Fire and Ash Publishing

Chapters/Indigo

It is also available on




Friday, 27 May 2016

Book Spotlight for the Twin-Bred Series

Today I bring you a spotlight on the new boxed set of the science fiction series, Twin-Bred, plus a peek at the newly released book three, Leaders. Enjoy!


The Twin-Bred Series by Karen A. Wyle



Can interspecies diplomacy begin in the womb? This is the question that launched the Twin-Bred series.

As the series begins, humans have lived on Tofarn, planet of creeks and rivers, for seventy years, but they still don't understand the Tofa. The Tofa are an enigma, from their featureless faces to the four arms that sometimes seem to be five. They take arbitrary umbrage at the simplest human activities, while annoying their human neighbors in seemingly pointless ways. The next infuriating, inexplicable incident may explode into war.

Scientist Mara Cadell's radical proposal: that host mothers carry fraternal twins, human and Tofa, in the hope that the bond between twins can bridge the gap between species. Mara knows about the bond between twins: her own twin, Levi, died in utero, but she has secretly kept him alive in her mind as companion and collaborator.

Mara succeeds in obtaining governmental backing for her project – but both the human and Tofa establishments have their own agendas. Mara must shepherd the Twin-Bred through dangers she anticipated and others that even the canny Levi could not foresee. Will the Twin-Bred bring peace, war, or something else entirely?

The saga begins in Twin-Bred, continues in Reach, Book Two, and in the newly released Leaders, Book Three.


The boxed set of the series is now available at:



Warning: spoilers ahead for those who haven't read books one and two.


Leaders by Karen A. Wyle



They fled Tofarn and found a new home. Should they care what happens to the old?

The Twin-Bred are finally ready to welcome visitors to New Landing, the refuge they found after fleeing the former Tofa regime. They have invited Lan-sol, child of the only Tofa Twin-Bred still on Tofarn, to cross the galaxy through the same wormhole that channels communications between the two planets. But suddenly, all communication becomes impossible.

Lan-sol must decide whether to venture into the now-silent unknown. And the Twin-Bred must ask themselves whether the fate of those they left behind is important enough to justify a return to the planet they once called home.





Leaders is available at:




About the Author

Karen A. Wyle lives in Indiana with her husband and their sweet but neurotic dog, occasionally graced with visits from one or both of their adult daughters. She is an appellate attorney and photographer as well as an author, and spends too much time discussing politics on social media. In science fiction and other genres, she tends to deal with themes of family, communication, the impossibility of controlling events, and the persistence of unfinished business.


Thursday, 26 May 2016

Book Spotlight: Kallum's Fury

Today I have a book spotlight for the epic fantasy novel,  Kallum's Fury by E. Michael Mettille. This is the second book in the Lake of Dragons series. Enjoy!


Kallum's Fury by E. Michael Mettille




Five summers have passed since Maelich and Cialia bested Kallum over the Forgotten Forest and scattered the god to the wind. Ouloos is entering an era of peace like none the world has ever known. Or is it?
Tragedy strikes. Ymitoth is killed at the hands of dead-eyed men bearing an uncanny resemblance to Kallum’s priests. The loss proves too great for Maelich to cope. His sanity slips and he vanishes.
Cialia embarks on a quest to find her lost brother. Along the way she learns her former city, Druindahl, has entered a period of darkness. The people she once protected are at the mercy of mercenaries interested only in coin and presided over by a king powerless to stop them. The cruelty she finds in the hearts of these horrible, false riders of Druindahl is more than she can stand. She finds her flame. The aftermath challenges the very core of her moral beliefs.
Meanwhile, war threatens the shores west of Havenstahl. Without the city’s two greatest heroes to protect her, one man must stand up and lead the armies of the greatest city of men against an unstoppable force of monsters from across the Great Sea. Riddled with uncertainty, Daritus must stand tall against overwhelming self-doubt and lead his soldiers into a war more perilous than any in Havenstahl’s history. Ouloos will never be the same.


Kallum's Fury is available at Amazon



Author Bio:





E. Michael Mettille is the pen name of Mike Reynolds. Mike Reynolds is the author of Lake of Dragons and Hell and the Hunger. Mike has also written numerous short stories and poems. He has spent the last twenty years in direct marketing, print, and communication. Mike is fascinated by history, belief systems, the human condition and how all of those things work together to define who we are as a people. The world is a wonder and, based on the history of us, it is a wonder we have a world left to wonder about. Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, he now lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Shelia.



Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Lost in the Woods

Today on Drabble Wednesday we venture far into the deep, dark woods, among the horrors and the primal fears…



Welcome, Dearie

Welcome dearie, to my humble cottage in the woods. It’s not much, I’m sure you consider it very meager. But I’m a poor old woman, with no coffers of gold. I have to make do with odd jobs.
Like the one your wife gave me.
You shouldn’t have cheated on her, you know.
But don’t you worry, I’ll try to make the killing painless. Take comfort in the fact your meat and bones will fill my larder and belly for some time. I won’t waste a thing.
So what will it be, oh Prince?
The carving knife or the cleaver?

~*~


Cursed

It is dark in Onyx Woods.
The sun never creeps within its shadows, and it never knows light. The wind blows cold, and whispers horrors to gloom. The trees sway and moan, and sometimes scream in pain. The damp, loamy earth smells of perpetual blood.
It is dark in Onyx Woods.
Not a living creature skitters through that forest, though shapes move like grey mist. No birds sing, no mice scurry, but things move within its depths. Things shift and shriek and shudder.
Stay away from Onyx Woods
The ghosts of the dead linger there.
The ghosts of the damned.

~*~




Princess

Such a damsel I distress am I.
Lost in the woods.
I’m so frightened.
Oh, someone come and save me!
I can’t believe that lame prince bought my act. All I had to do was bat my eyes, tell a sob story, and pretend to faint. The gullible fool whisked me to his castle, and after some weeks of feigned simpering asked me to marry him.
Of course, I said yes.
Once we’re wed I’ll poison his wine to ensure I get my hands on his riches.
And it sure beats being hunted through those woods for murdering my step-mother.




© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved




Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Cold Revenge

Today on Drabble Wednesday, I serve up a dish best served cold… Revenge.




Country of Shadows

In the darkness I fume, in the blackness I scheme... mine enemies best beware. Revenge is best served bloody.
I still feel their sharp blades, cutting, cutting, draining my blood, my life. They left me to stain the marble and die. I saw their looming shadows as I took my last breath.
Death did not finish me, though.
I yet exist.
Somewhere between, in this eternal night.
Somewhere in the shadows of what I once called home.
I see them. I will haunt them.
I will ruin them.
Then I will see their blood run free to stain the marble.

~*~





Absinthe in the Rain

I stand on a Paris street in the rain.
I can hear the soft strains of happy laughter, and faint music from the Moulin Rouge.
I am waiting.
He will come to me this time.
It has been a year since he abandoned me, abandoned our grand plan. But I did not give up. I succeeded. Now he will be the fool, as he once called me.
He walks up the road. He sees me in under the street light. My men shoot him dead.
I watch his body fall, the bottle of absinthe he held smashing on the cobblestones.

~*~





Dollhouse of Death

“Stop squirming.”
But the miniature man keeps wriggling, so I squeeze, just a bit, to make my point. I hear a tiny crack, and a small high pitched scream.
Oh dear, I’ve broken him. No matter, he’ll be dead soon.
I shrug and place him in the doll house, on the small braided rug. He cradles his arm and moans.
The two others stay huddled in the corner. I think they’re still in shock from my spell. And yesterday’s killing. I did a public execution with a working guillotine.
Their own fault, really. They should not have double-crossed a witch.




© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved



Sunday, 15 May 2016

Piracy Kills Authors


Book Pirates Suck!


I spent part of today once again taking time (instead of writing) to send out DMCA notices to pirates sites hosting illegal copies of my books. And once again I'm wondering if it is worth continuing to publish my books.

This is what goes through my head every time I find one of my books has been pirated by some arrogant, selfish individual, who has no regard about the consequences of their actions. I wonder why I publish books at all if I inevitably will have to face this total ingratitude and asshole behavior.

Because I don't have to publish books. No writer has to publish their books. We do it because we want to publish. We want to connect with readers.

This is why it is so disheartening when readers use pirate sites. When readers support pirate sites and screw over authors when they do so. And the sad thing is, readers don't have to use pirate sites, not these days. Amazon, Smashwords, author websites, they all offer legal and free or discounted books for readers. Yet piracy persists.

It makes me ask the questions: 

Why am I bothering?

If people think so little of authors why do I publish at all?


And I don't have an answer.

I wish I did. 

I wish I could tell you that it will get better.

But I can't.



I haven't quit yet. Maybe I never will. Or maybe someday I will say, I've had enough. Take your pirated books, I'm done.  If I do, I'm sure my small career will join the sad ranks of dead authors killed by pirates.






Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Say Hello to the Dead

Today on Drabble Wednesday I explore what happens when the living meet the dead, or undead…




Encounter

The woman stood in the middle of the road, blocking the path of the wagon.
Henry pulled on the reins and slowly halted his buckboard. The woman stared at him.
“Are you hurt? Do you need aid?”
She shook her head. “I knew you once, when you were a baby. I held you in my arms. I’ve never forgotten.”
Henry shivered. “You look familiar, do I know you?”
“Not as you should, that was not to be.” She smiled whispering, “Happy Birthday, Henry.”
And she disappeared.
Shocked, Henry gasped, only then realizing he had spoken with his long dead mother.

~*~




Not In the Job Description

“I got a notice to report to the basement level.” Cindy spoke out loud, bewildered.
“You mean the secret lab?” Fred, her colleague in the neighbouring cubicle answered her, trying to sound ominous and failing.
“Ha, ha, very funny.” She smirked at him, before frowning. “But still, it’s odd.”
“Nah. They probably lost some paperwork. You know lab geeks.”
“I guess so. See you later Fred.” Cindy smiled, and left.
The department boss walked over and leaned against Fred’s desk. “She went, no problems?”
“Yep. No worries on feeding the zombies tonight, boss. I’ll clean out her desk after work.”

~*~




By the Light of the Moon

A woman alone at night is a dangerous thing, I know, but I couldn’t resist a chance to walk along the park trail under a full moon. It’s been ages since I took time to enjoy an evening’s beauty.
And it’s lovely. A big, bright silver moon, surrounded by a cascade of stars, in an indigo and sable sky. The air is crisp, and smells of spring, with the fading hint of fragrant blossoms. Nothing could—oh, dear. Footsteps.
I turn, and sure enough, a man with a knife.
Oh well, I am hungry.
I bare my fangs, and attack.



© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved 


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Book Spotlight: Kovu Part Two by Kenneth Fultz Jr

Today I bring a book spotlight for the manga style, fantasy book, Kovu Part Two by Kenneth Fultz Jr.  You can check out the spotlight I did for Kovu: Part One here: Book Spotlight: Kovu: Part One by Kenneth Fultz Jr.


Kovu Part Two by Kenneth Fultz Jr.


A dethroned prince must gather the ten rings of the kings to save his people from the corruption of the rich and powerful. 

The dethroned Prince Kovu and friends continue his quest to become the next king of Eden. Along the way to Zuriel  they discover new secrets about themselves and the true danger they face as enemies show up from all sides to destroy them. Meanwhile Prince Dayo continues his quest to discover the truth about the country as he slowly works to rise into the good graces of his father. 



Kovu Part Two is available on:




An illustration from the book






Book Trailer







Author Bio:




Kenneth E. Fultz Jr. born in Columbus, Ohio. Since a child had a strong interest in both anime and writing. Kenneth's first novella, "Warriors of Matrimony", dealt with gender roles and marriage while his second book "Destruction of Sweet Creation" deals with how relationships shape who we are and the image of age. Kenneth plans to get into turning his stories into graphic novels at a later date.  

Friday, 6 May 2016

The Reality of a Writer’s Life


The Reality of a Writer’s Life


Or the Hard Facts of Why Readers Should Think Twice About Piracy and “Free Books.”



Before I begin with my post, I want to state I am very much against book piracy, but not against free books. I do, however, think offering books for free should be the author’s, or publisher’s, choice, NOT a reader’s prerogative. I also want to say, this is not a condemnation or a taking to task of readers in general. The majority of them are darling angels that authors depend on. This post is merely offering up information and enlightenment for, perhaps, common misconceptions. In addition, all number and figures are based on my experiences (and possibly bad math skills); some other authors may have smaller or larger publishing costs.


Now on with the rant…

~*~

When most non-writing people think of “authors” they think of the big boys, the bestsellers raking in the money. They are, though, a minority when it comes to authors. Most writers are lucky if they eke a living from their writing without supplementary income. That is a fact, and one writers deal with or decide not to write for a living. And I’m not asking for sympathy for this fact, it’s just the way the job works. What I am saying is that writing is a job. Yes, it may be “artistic” but it’s still work.
And like all work, we want to get paid for it.
Period.
We may love what we do, but we still need cash to pay the expenses.
And writers do have expenses. Especially indie authors.

Let me break it down for you.

It takes me three to five months to write the first draft of a novel (if everything goes smoothly). This writing does not happen as in the movies with a writer frantically tapping on a keyboard for uninterrupted hours at a time. It happens in spurts and fits between doing laundry, dishes, marketing, other work, running errands, the occasional family crisis, and so on and on…

After the first draft it’s weeks more editing and polishing until I have a fully functioning manuscript. At this point I’ve invested several months of hard work and time into one book. So you say, off to the publisher, right? Wrong.
If I decide to try and submit to a publisher, it’s weeks more, months more, even years more rounds of queries and rejections, until hopefully acceptance. All the while I’m writing more books in-between life.

But that’s if I go the route of traditional publishing. If I go indie, here’s what happens.

I find a professional editor. A service I pay for, generally around 500-800 dollars (novellas, which is what I’ve previously published will run 200-300 dollars) depending on the length of the novel, and the editing service. Some services are cheaper, sometimes you can get deals, but by far editing is the most money you’ll shell out to self-publish a book.

Let’s round it up and say I’m now 600 dollars in the hole for my book. That’s the minimum amount I’ll have to make back before I even see a profit. That’s assuming I can design my own book covers and format my own books (which I generally do). Most authors have to shell out more money for either cover design or pre-made covers, and formatting. And of course, after the editing is done, there may (may meaning the probability is high) be a few more hundred dollars for proofreading costs.

So let’s round up again to a nice $800 dollar cost for publishing my book. And this doesn’t include marketing costs, which can tack on another few hundred.

So in one final roundup, let’s go with 1000 dollars in costs, shall we.

So this is what I will pay to publish a novel. But wait, you say, you’ll rake in the dough in royalties, right? That 70% Amazon ebook cut, right?

Well, not quite. If I price my book at 5.99 (and that’s a big if, more likely it will be priced between 2.99 and 3.99) I make about $4.20 per book (if I did the math right there). That means I have to sell 239 books just to break even. If I don’t sell that number, I’m losing money. The more money I lose, the less likely the next book gets published in a timely manner, or at all. And if a book is priced at less than 2.99 you get a 30% royalty share, and an even bigger financial hole to climb out of.

Which brings me to my point. Publishing books isn’t free. Asking authors to publish their books for free isn’t fair. Pirating books, and downloading books from pirate sites, makes it that much harder for indie authors to make a living. It might put some out of business permanently.

However, this does not mean (and I know this is weird, considering what I just said) free books don’t have a place in the publishing business. They do. But authors need to control that place. They need to factor free book offerings into their marketing to boost overall sales, and factor them into their costs.

Free books are not a right, and they are not a privilege. Don’t treat them like one. Free books, like all books, are a product, a commodity, if one born from creative minds. Books are forged from hard work and imagination, an amalgam of invention and art. Be gracious to their authors.



Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Fairy Tale News

Today on Drabble Wednesday we travel back to Fairyland with more news bites…




Breaking News From FTN


Spider Bramble and my co-anchor, Aurora Gossamer here, coming to you with the latest news and buzz from Fairyland.  Our top stories include...

Construction of the new Swamp Habitat and relocation of the homeless trolls under Cinnamon Swirl Bridge went smoothly, with all trolls moving to their new location peacefully.  Early negotiations saw the release of the hostage Billy goats, and while no charges were laid in that incident, after the relocation an official apology was issued by a troll representative. This following statement was broadcast earlier:
We’re terribly sorry for any hostilities, and the abduction of innocent goats. Old habits, and all that. We let anger and frustration rule. Humble apologies to the poor goats.  And all thanks for our new home.

In other news…

The construction bids for the new Fairland Metro Police Station closed today, with the winning contractor being no other than the new Three Pigs company Bad Wolf Construction. This is the first city contract for Squealer, Wiggly and Curly Tail Pig, and they had this to say: “We hardily thank the city for awarding us the bid, and we will do our best by the boys in blue and build them a fine new police station.”
Bad Wolf Construction has gained a sterling reputation since its inception from family tragedy, and the ground-breaking for the new building begins next month.

Now over to the entertainment desk with Lucinda…

I’m Lucinda Lovedust with the latest updates in entertainment.
The much anticipated Wonderland Camelot Festival happens next week, and Fairyland is already agog with the early influx of celebrity from those two neighbouring realms.  Alice and the Mad Hatter have been seen squiring about town, still canoodling like newlyweds and sampling Fairyland cuisine.  Camelot’s playboy, Lancelot, has been setting hearts aflutter in every hotspot in town, along with close chums Gawain and Tristan.  So far the trio have behaved, with none of the bar brawls that marred their last visit, despite a minor altercation with the infamous Hansel and Gretel.


  

© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved 


For previous adventures in Fairyland check out my book, Fairy Tale Fusion.

Available at:



Monday, 2 May 2016

Book Spotlight: Sonny

Today on the blog, I bring you a book spotlight for the newly released horror/thriller, Sonny by MJ Mulholland. Enjoy...



Sonny by MJ Mulholland

Meet Sonny – quiet, simple, murderous – and all he wants to do is join the club.
He is taken under the wing of a professional in the field of torture and murder, and is tested and shown the bloody horror of the house he will now inhabit.
Sonny meets the rest of the team, and soon realises that he needs to be careful if he is going to survive at all inside a house of murderers and helpless victims, where being dead becomes a luxury.
But there is one thing to remember – you are Sonny, and Sonny is you.

Are you what you first appear to be?





Sonny is available at:





Author Bio:

MJ Mulholland was born out of love for the horror genre and the need to push the limits of what horror is. He enjoys the quiet, he enjoys the dark, and with his pen and paper he weaves monsters that his counterpart doesn't dare to even look at. In his spare time, he watches you.



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