books, editing, editor, writing tips

Eyes on the Editor: Dennis De Rose of Moneysaver Editing

Dennis De Rose is the editor at Moneysaver Editing. He’s also the co-author of Jumpstarting Your Inner Novelist. Find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Jumpstarting-Your-Inner-Novelist-Thompson/dp/151530437X/

How did you get into editing?

I never wanted to be an editor. It just happened. About 10 years ago, I decided I wanted to help writers by reviewing their books, but I didn’t want to purchase them. I contacted a wonderful lady, Deborah Gaynor, from Kentucky. She has a reviewing service (Readers Favorite) she had started a few years earlier. She accepted me as a reviewer and I began reading an adventure novel. (I edited the next book he wrote and it won a gold medal for best fiction in the category.) When I sent my review to Deborah, she realized it was well written. Apparently, most of the reviews she received needed tweaking. She asked me to do that for her and I accepted the challenge. I tweaked 1000 reviews for her and she agreed to put me on her website as her editor. The first thing I edited was a children’s story about a horse. I wanted to edit the story for free but the author insisted on paying me. I accepted five dollars as payment and that is how this adventure began.

How do you choose which manuscripts you will accept?

I don’t really choose a manuscript. The writer has to choose his or her editor. I will only accept a job if the writing is somewhat coherent. If, after a lengthy conversation with the writer, I decide we are a good fit I will edit a short chapter at no charge. I need to see how well a piece is written and the writer’s style. That really is the best way.

Is there any reason you would turn a manuscript away?

a) Perhaps the writer refuses to communicate with me via telephone.
b) We might not be a good fit.
c) The manuscript is so poorly written that I can’t even understand the first sentence.
d) The writer cannot afford to pay me even after we set up a payment plan.
e) It’s nonfiction and I know nothing about the subject matter.

What is your position on self-editing within the author community?

A writer is free to do whatever floats his or her boat. I have no problem with someone choosing to self-edit. But chances are, and this has been proven over and over, that the book will not be the best it can be. I have been editing for almost 10 years and I have only met one writer that did such a good job that I could not improve on his writing, not even a little bit.

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Do you have any advice for authors who legitimately can’t hire an editor?

a) Take your time. Do not rush the process. I believe the slow turtle wins the race.
b) Have your manuscript read by several readers, not just family, and listen to what they have to say.
c) Join writers groups on Face Book and LinkedIn. Let those writers help you to write better.
d) Go online and read tons of writing how to’s and spend a few dollars for a few good writing manuals. You might be able to pick up a used copy of A Pocket Style Manual 6th ed. written by Hacker and Sommers for as little as 50 cents at your library’s used bookstore.

Are there specific genres you prefer to work in? On the flip side, are there any genres you refuse?

I prefer fiction in any genre, but I love: adventure, mystery and fantasy. I will no longer edit poetry, or any nonfiction that I am not familiar with.

What does a typical editing day look like for you? Do you keep typical 9-5 hours?

Since I edit part-time, about 3 to 4 hours a day, time is no longer a factor. I retired 5 years ago and my wife lives to shop, so I do a lot of editing when she is not around. As I work on this she is out and about, probably at Sam’s Club or another favorite place, Kohl’s. When I am not editing, I am busy promoting myself, creating an all-purpose website, reading and reviewing books, talking to other writers and keeping in touch with my writers/friends. I believe volunteering in your community is a wonderful way to give back, so I volunteer at our local library bookstore two days a week. I also love spending time with family and friends, especially camping and traveling. Why not see the world and make a few friends along the way?

Picking an editor is a big decision. What advice do you have for authors who feel they are ready to take this step?

a) Take your time looking for a good editor. Think of it as a job interview with you as the employer.
b) Ask yourself a few questions… Have I taken the steps to write the best manuscript I possibly can? Can I afford to pay a good editor? Do I have the time to work closely with an editor so that I know my book will be the best it can be?

What should a writer look for in their ideal fit?

A writer and an editor need to become a writing team. They both have to be willing to take the time to form that bond. Plan to meet either in person or converse on the phone for as long as it takes to get a feel for each other. Look for common ground. People that think alike tend to work better together. Don’t stress yourself out; find someone (like me) that is willing to make a payment plan, one that you can live with.

How can an author reach out to see if you are the right editor for their book?

Feel free to call me at 845-239-4513. Be sure to write all your questions down first. Let’s talk as long as you like. Email me at DDEROSE@HVC.RR.COM. Or do a search for Moneysaver Editing. I am all over the place. Check out my LinkedIn site at https://www.linkedin.com/in/dennis-de-rose-15262917 I am here to help you make your book the best it can be.

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authors, books, fiction, young adult fiction

New Release Spotlight: The Excelsior Witch Chronicles

What if everything you heard about magic was wrong? Hollywood has twisted the story of Tituba in the Salem Witch Trials to be an evil presence. It’s thought that she brought evil voodoo to the world, but that’s wrong. Bali, an unsure 18-year-old, African-American girl is a recent high school graduate, and is about to find out how her connection of lineage to Tituba gives her great powers of good magic. Bali, along with her two new friends, Leilani and James, set out to figure out how to navigate these new magical gifts they’ve been given. During their time together, they must also learn how to navigate their own insecurities and personal problems, while saving New York City from an evil witch named Adelram. This story weaves the true tale of magic, and how #blackgirlmagic is that of goodness and love. Come step inside a fantastic story with Bali, James and Leilani and learn how powerful diversity can be.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692063374

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Leilani and Bali both had tears streaming down their faces. The three friends embraced in a tight hug, as words could not express the joy and love that was in that room at the very moment.
Their embrace was interrupted by a loud rumbling. The great hall began to massively quake. The walls seemed to crumble and the chandelier that adorned the middle of the room was swaying back and forth. Bali dropped to her knees with her head down. It was as if her body had fallen lifeless unable to move. James and Leilani desperately tried to pick her body up, but it was as if it weighed a million pounds. Suddenly, Bali’s body began to slowly rise from the floor. It was as light as air and she began to float. Her arms, legs and head dangled while her body started rising higher and higher.
Her head flipped up, her eyes opened and she screamed and other-worldly scream, so loud, her friends fell to their knees and held their ears in agony.

Bali slowly and quietly said, “…help…me…”

About the Author!

Lyn Michael Kalani McClenathan was born in Georgia to Linda and Jim. He is of Hawaiian/Irish/Italian/Japanese descent and currently resides in New York City. He lives with his husband Nicholas and his two dogs, Ellie (an English Bulldog) and Pip (a chihuahua). He studies Liberal Studies at Arizona State University and after graduation with his BA, he began his graduate studies at Western New Mexico University in Social Work.
As a cardio workout he loves to put on loud music in his small, Hamilton Heights apartment in Manhattan and dance around the house. Currently, on repeat, is The Great Showman soundtrack. His favorite books are ones that have been/are being made into movies. The Help has been his favorite book, in this genre. He and his husband are also avid Disney fans!
You can follow him on social media!
Twitter: @lynmkm
Instagram: @lynmkm

authors, books, fiction, vampire romannce, vampires

FanGirl Friday: The Twilight Saga

Stephanie Meyer hit a homerun with the Twilight Saga, there’s no doubt about that. Some people love it; some people hate it. I, of course, belong to the former group.

Bella Swan is awkward, but she finds a home in Forks, Washington. She’s finally found a place she fits in within the secret supernatural community. She blossoms right along with her budding relationship with Edward Cullen. But when he leaves, all the progress she’s made disappears with him. Jacob Black helps give her what she needs to return to life. Two factions were created with this love triangle: Team Edward and Team Jacob.

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I’m a proud Team Edward supporter. Sure, if he was human, he’d be a narcissistic, psychotic stalker, but he’s not human. Being a vampire really worked for him. Those traits that would raise red-flags in an ordinary relationship made the love story more endearing as he fought against his very nature to be with the girl he loved. Like all passionate star-crossed love stories, Edward and Bela are equally obsessed with one another.

Jacob, on the other hand, is perfect for Bella in every way. He’s down-to-Earth, adorable, and totally devoted to Bella. He’s the safe option. The path her life would have taken if not for the presence of the Cullens. Stephanie Meyer did an exceptional job allowing readers to understand that Jacob should have been Bella’s destiny. I felt the promise between them. I felt the loss that destiny doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes there are forces stronger than fate at play. I’m not ashamed to say I bawled like a baby for Jacob’s broken heart, but not once was I attempted to jump the ship called Edward.

While Ms. Meyer did an excellent job with her portrayal of skin-walkers, her vampires never felt truly vampiric. While the classification I feel was poorly used, the creativity of her special brand of vampires definitely made up for it.

I’ve read these books several times and still get all the feels. I’m sure I’ll read them several more.

open letter, pets

To My Cat With Cancer

My Dearest Buttercup,

 

The doctors tell me this is it. Your time is near. I’m angry, so very angry. They say that by the time you presented your disease, it was too late. It’s not fair. They say it was most likely a genetic predisposition, that logically there was nothing I could do to save you. Not, now. Not, then. Sure, there are treatment options, but the doctor assures me that they would only diminish what little quality of life you still have. I’m not ready to see the light go out in your eyes. It’s still there, I see it. I feel it. You’re not any more ready to let go at this point than I am. But we have time… A little, anyway. And I’m going to do my best to show you how much you mean to me.

 

I remember when you were just a kitten. So tiny you fit in the palm of my hand. Always ready to go, to explore, to climb, to be the cattiest cat you could be. And you were. Oh, God, you were. You used to climb up my legs like I was your own personal tree when you were just a tiny thing. Your claws hadn’t yet developed into the razor blades they would grow to be. It amused me, and made you happy. As they began to grow and sharpen, I had to break you and your siblings of that habit.

 

Do you remember walking through the woods? You always wanted to be high up. You climbed a tree and I was so scared you were going to get stuck, but you didn’t. You were so free, so happy that day. Whenever I called you, you would come romping back to me. You will have so many more days like that when you cross the bridge to what comes next. That is how I will picture you, how I will remember you.

 

You’ve always been a stubborn little thing, full of attitude. I love that about you. You were always sure of what you wanted, and found a way to get it, whatever it was.

 

But your heart is pure, molten gold. The heart of a lion, like your hero, Nala. Remember laying at the foot of the bed with Gizmo watching The Lion King? I don’t care what anyone says, you two would be glued to the movie any time I put it in. Afterwards, you would play- my little Nala and Simba. He’s going to miss you, too, ya know?

 

You’re my princess. You always have been. You always will be. I will miss you every day and I will remember you always. I will do my best to make the rest of your days as pleasant as I can and when you are ready, I will be with you, helping you cross the Rainbow Bridge.

 

All my love, now and always.

authors, books, contemporary fiction, contemporary romance, dark romance

FanGirl Friday: H.Q. Frost

This week’s Fangirl Friday goes to none other that H.Q. Frost. I was introduced to this author and her work during my first-ever release party. Her debut novel, Destructive Gods was totally unconventional and I loved every minute of it. I devoured the Luxe series as quickly as she could write them. There were so many twists and turns that I never saw coming… And that is a staple of her work. I’m still reeling over Little Love, a spinoff from her Immure Diaries series and I read that over a month ago.

Her characters more than come off the page. They truly come alive. Even in their greatest beauty they are inherently flawed. They are more real than the faces a lot of us put out for the public to see, and thus, they become like friends.

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She’s not your average romance writer. There’s no boy meets girl, they fall in love, happily ever after. No, these characters she creates have to work for their happily-ever-after. There’s darkness in her light, and light in her darkness. There is no formula to the stories she pens. She pushes the envelope on what her characters and her readers can endure. Anytime you pick up a Frost book, you can expect the unexpected.

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She doesn’t just write solo books, either. Together with her co-author M. Piper, both authors showcase such amazing talent. If one didn’t know the books were written by two different people, you would never guess. Their books are that seamless and that takes an ungodly amount of talent.

I will forever fangirl over this author and her work.

authors, books, interviews

In the Words of an Author: An Interview With Christopher Griffith

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About the Author and His Work (In His Own Words)

My name is Christopher Griffith and I have been writing across different genres of fiction for a number of years now; Temples of a Fantasy Revenge and its companion piece Corin’s Chronicle are teenage moving to Young Adult fantasy –

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Temples-Fantasy-Revenge-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B007RMHSBS/ref=la_B0034PX2CG_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517766167&sr=1-1

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Corins-Chronicle-Revenge-Chronicles-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B0716MRRN2/ref=la_B0034PX2CG_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517766167&sr=1-6

Rick with a (Bipolar) View is an autobiographical novel about the time in my life when I was first diagnosed with mental illness:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rick-Bipolar-View-friendships-electronic-ebook/dp/B01E9SS0FA/ref=la_B0034PX2CG_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517766167&sr=1-7

Shakespeare’s Secret Knowledge is my stab at conspiracy theory writing – I’ve always loved the Bard’s plays but like many people I’ve also been stupefied that the historical Shakespeare we learn about who signed documents with a cross was able to pen Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shakespeares-Secret-Knowledge-Literatures-Renaissance-ebook/dp/B01EVVH15A/ref=la_B0034PX2CG_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517766167&sr=1-2

My supermarket love story, Champagne Jealousy comes next:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Champagne-Jealousy-Detective-Investigates-community-ebook/dp/B01E9D11N8/ref=la_B0034PX2CG_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517766167&sr=1-5

And then there’s William Ottoway’s Utopia which is the novel I talk about for at least the first part of these interview questions:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/William-Ottoways-Utopia-Christopher-Griffith-ebook/dp/B076NZMZ2D/ref=la_B0034PX2CG_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517766167&sr=1-4

As well as fiction, I also write poetry and stage plays; I’ve got a postgraduate qualification in scriptwriting but I was never able to really settle in to that genre; the buzz word for film, television, radio and stage writing is subtext in which characters say one thing but mean another. That doesn’t suit me at all – what’s the point of saying what you don’t mean? I tend to steer clear of people like that in real life so why would I want to include the like in my creative writing? I’ve also got a soft spot for poetry, but I think that genre is even more niche; a lot of people don’t like it at all and I must say I find much modern poetry weak, soulless and flimsily constructed, but of course that’s just my opinion on the matter!!!

And on to the interview…

Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so, who?

In relation to the above book, William Ottoway’s Utopia, there were four authors whose work influenced the novel – Alex Garland’s The Beach definitely guided me in my choice of background, a society cut off from the rest of civilisation that purports to be paradise but in the end turns out to be its exact antithesis; Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein influenced the literary style of the piece and to some extent the structure regarding its epistolary beginning and end; Sir Thomas More’s Utopia which of course gave me the idea for the book in the first place; and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies that encouraged me to narrate a story in which really there was no redemption at close, and one in which human nature’s own corruption was to blame for the demise in relations between the people sharing space on the island. However, on this last point I was slightly at odds with an admittedly titanic writer in that I have a more optimistic (perhaps more dreamy) view of humankind. I do understand the lure of savagery, and goodness knows our race has succumbed to it over the centuries, but I wondered if the catalyst to our becoming like beasts might in this instance owe itself to an object rather than straight debauchery of our nature, here of course the humble, versatile and rather perennial item otherwise known as the television set. In an instant, I was sold. I still very readily bore in mind my four influences, and in composing my own story I still reflected heavily upon them, but I was keen to tread my own path and so I conflated the quartet (stepping carefully not to plagiarise) to produce my own piece of writing. To broaden scope for a moment, this is actually pretty much the same process so undertaken for each of my novels – I think it is very important to use source material, but of paramount importance is not to slavishly follow its particular dictates of tone, plot and character. Other authors and works I have revered in these instances are Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy – you’ll have to read my other pieces to try to see which has influenced me in each regard! The only non-source novel I’ve written is Champagne Jealousy, and even then you could argue it’s big nod to humorous fiction like Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity and gentle crime works on the Marple-Poirot spectrum, though I stress not of their ilk! Assimilation is key – what I read, I tend to digest and then regurgitate in my own way.

Out of all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite? Why?

It’s got to be William Ottoway, if only because he represents that kind of naive idealism I so miss in my own nature these days – William genuinely believes he can up and run to somewhere else in the world which will somehow provide him with 100% safe and secure haven. The unravelling of his realisation that this is just pipe dream really tugs at my heart, but it’s no use tugging at mine unless it tugs at yours also! Of all the characters I have created, William is for me the most vulnerable, and that includes Rick in Rick With A View who suffers from bipolar disorder, Emily in Champagne Jealousy whose anxiety is off the scale, Norman in Temples of a Fantasy Revenge whose inferiority complex makes both Rick and Emily seem the very paragons of stability, and Thomas in Shakespeare’s Secret Knowledge who simply hasn’t got an iota of clue what on earth is going on around him, and to him. All these characters have human defects in their personalities, but William’s whole personality is the human defect – he simply misunderstands that there are bad people out there like the Usurper, and that people like this, in a fallen world, are the very sort who will find their way to a Utopia and wreck the enterprise. Bound with this is of course the appliance, television, and the fact that it is this, an object, which hastens the protagonist’s demise. I like the idea, although it terrifies me to consider, that it’s not just up to us to cause our own, and each other’s, misfortune but that we live in a world in which inanimate tools and trade can bring us to serious harm – there’s a scene in the film Anaconda in which Jon Voight says the river Amazon can kill you in a thousand ways, well that’s the kind of world of which I think William Ottoway has no conception, but one which dawns and grows upon him as the narrative continues. Of course such a world would be depressing beyond measure, the kind of world which say a particular series of broadcasts blasting out round the clock from a particular appliance might detail and encourage us to think the norm, but rather than accept our home planet holds both good and bad for us at different times William’s hamartia is that he firmly believes the bad can be extirpated leaving the good our warm companion forevermore. Even when the falsity of this dream has been laid bare for him, our idealistic Ottoway still clings to the dream, and that refusal to admit defeat even when defeated cements him as my favourite created character to date.

Are there any types of scenes you find more difficult to write? Which ones and why.

I find descriptive scenes an absolute nightmare, mainly because I feel as though I am cheating my readers of their imagination if I detail too greatly what is in my own head. This is quite a complicated concern of mine so I shall elaborate by saying that, as a writer, when I have a scene in mind it is pretty much fixed in my psyche; now I don’t want to impinge on your innate ability to conjure pictures in your imagination and I think it is remiss of me to try to alter whatever image you may have created when for example I set my scene on a desert island. I don’t want to encourage you to see that desert island from my point of view; I hate it when writers provided detailed description of a location because my imagination has already done most of the job for me when the writer gave me the nature of that location in the first place. As a reader, I like to be involved in doing the work of the writer also, it helps me cement that bond between the two of us into which we enter when I take up the novel in the first place. Of course, and in William Ottoway’s Utopia, I do outline certain features of the island to which the characters journey but overall I feel it more effective for you the reader to create that image of the place in your own psyche. The same, I believe, can be said for character description – I simply think that it’s a more productive exercise for the reader to flesh out features of a protagonist whether physical or emotional because it then makes that fictional character more real for the person making their way through the novel. All that hokum you learn as a writer about flat and round, two dimensional, three dimensional characters, in my opinion that’s not up to the person who’s crafting the story at all; remember again that the writer and reader are bonding over the course of the narrative. The soulless call it a contract but it’s not that at all – it’s not business nor cold jointure but a warm and friendly relationship struck up for however many pages in which the reader says ‘tell me a tale’ and the writer replies with their offering; the reader gives of their time, and the writer gives of their time, and both hope to benefit one another. All this business of description simply muddies the waters and gives the writer undue power in the process. I tend to steer well clear of books which instruct me in this regard and give my attention instead to an author who allows me to breathe my own life into the particular plotline unfolding before me.

What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?

Escaping into creating – it really is the most incredible jump to make from the real world into that of the imagination, and the more freedom in this regard you allow yourself as a writer the greater the sense of fun, responsibility and effectiveness you experience. Alas, I’ve been on courses in which plot synopsis in full was required before the act of writing even took place; this is anathema and gets the whole process of composition the wrong way round. For me, you’ve got to be swimming on the surface of consciousness or everyday life, and then plunge down beneath the water into the subconscious, the realm of the psyche, of imagination, of archetypes and of the really profound elements of storytelling. It can be a dangerous place, a little like the dreams within dreams of that wonderful film Inception in that there is every possibility of diving so deep into Limbo that you can find it difficult to return. But as ever with life, the weight of risk is linked to that of reward – if you can swim amongst the sharks of this underworld and navigate your way through their threat to dry land then your novel will be all the better for it. Planning the whole enterprise in advance is a bit like reading the instruction manual before you make up an object; it’s much more rewarding to have a go at construction yourself, particularly when you get it right and produce the finished piece without much preparation beforehand. Of course, the problem with such endeavour is that you might never achieve what you set out to do, and injury might even result; I once wrote a novel with which I dove too deep, got stuck in Limbo, hunted round for the instruction manual I’d flung aside at the art of composition, and only just managed to return to the surface and to safe haven. Feeling relieved and a bit too pleased with myself, I suddenly realised I bore the metaphorical teeth marks of those sharks who had bitten into me on the way down and then back up. But the whole point is that I learnt from my error of judgement, I matured as a writer, and reward came when I escaped to create again, producing work of more merit. This was progress for me, and there’s nothing that makes us feel more satisfied in our lives than feeling that we have moved on, improved, evolved, shed the slough of our former selves and crawled on to greater output. One more element – reading back over a piece and realising that I’ve said what I want to say, that’s rewarding and harder to achieve than it might sound!!

What advice do you have for authors just starting out in their journey?

Read, read, read! It’s possible to write novels without having read much, but for some reason the more input you’ve absorbed both from life experience and books the easier it becomes to write deeply, profoundly, and therefore authoritatively. I have a tremendously tense relationship with reading and it’s because of this rather awkward confession that I don’t actually enjoy it greatly; I studied English Literature at tertiary level, and after three years of prolonged examination, dissection and analysis of many classic works I found it hard to return to the simple act of reading for pleasure. What my training had afforded me though was the ability to rip through texts and pull out the salient features, skim reading if you like so that now I can study more pieces and extract from them promptly their plot, character and theme. This isn’t a particularly special skill, it’s just practice in a trade whose repetition makes the task easier, more effective; and so I encourage you to read as broadly and as deeply as you are able because the words which are absorbed by the mind are placed upon its parchment, kneaded, doughed, leavened, baked and then returned by way of your imagination, your individual imprint, back on to the page or screen upon which you are writing. The process by which this happens continues to amaze me even as it defeats my ability to explain it, but as life is a mystery we would do wisely not to try to solve in its entirety so this amorphous conversion shouldn’t really bother us, as writers, to understand too much or too greatly. The same really can be said for the input of opinion on our work; when I first started writing, just the fact that I was considering being an author drew detraction, scorn and mockery from people I considered friends. I felt as though no one supported me in my chosen pursuit, and I simply couldn’t understand the hostility towards my practicing a craft which I considered nothing other than benign in operation. The problem was just that though in that I attempted fully to understand this behaviour towards me; once I realised I’d never discover the reasons, an incredible sense of empowerment lifted my pen to compose far more courageously, and freely. This process extended to feedback from those who had taken the time to read my work – when the same novel draws adulation from one person and condemnation from another, well it’s simply enough to draw on the reserves of the only person who really understands your work – you!!

Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.

I actually don’t have anything as formal as a writing ritual or a superstition to which I adhere in the hope that I can compose well; however, I thought it might be helpful to provide a quick rundown of the processes involved in planning and writing each of my novels because they have changed over time and the evolution may, I hope, be of some interest to other writers and readers out there. In essence, I’ve moved from a position of rigidity to that of relaxation – for Temples of a Fantasy Revenge, I created the story framework largely by drawing on personal interests in both Pandora’s Box and Halloween. I was very disciplined with myself, setting aside certain hours in the day to compose, and I retained control of the novel’s direction pretty much from start to finish; that is to say that whenever I felt the plot moving away from me, I didn’t wait too long before I pulled on the reins and brought it back within my charge. Rick With A (Bipolar) View was much more stream-of-consciousness in that I let the horses of my creativity have great freedom whither to travel. The result is that the narrative moves at quick pace, and I certainly enjoyed the feeling of words pouring from my pen to the page during its composition. The research I undertook for Shakespeare’s Secret Knowledge was so voluminous that I found myself editing very heavily as I proceeded with writing that novel; every time I finished a scene I trawled back through it for any evidence I’d been writing from the history books rather than through my characters. Champagne Jealousy saw me drawing heavily on my own experience of retail and with this book I allowed myself to give vent to years of frustration with the trade – this is a novel as much about anger as anything else, but I hope it doesn’t obscure the fun I had in creating the world of Sheila’s. The rigidity I’ve mentioned had, ironically given the emotion permeating the book, by now given way to relaxation, and so I created the novella Corin’s Chronicle as companion to Temples which starts as separate entity before becoming adjunct, the first time I’d really played around with convention and enjoyed the freedom that came from such enterprise. With William Ottoway’s Utopia then, and despite some of the subject matter, writing in a slightly more in elevated, literary style I found enjoyable, liberating and effective. Ritual is for me then to experiment and progress, to grow more comfortable as my writing life continues with each book completed.

Was being an author something you always wanted to do?

Not at all! I’ve always had dreams and plans to do something outside 9-5 office routine though – when I was a child growing up in my early years, I wanted to be quarterback for the Chicago Bears American Football team. Once that dream had been swallowed up by reality, I wanted to be a racing driver; I loved Formula One in my teenage years and felt it would be a short step to emulate great drivers such as Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. Once that plan had been subsumed by reality, I decided I was going to be a star rugby player for England; the theme continued as I realised I probably wouldn’t be good enough to take to the hallowed turf at Twickenham! And then I wanted to be a superstar DJ but I’m too introverted for that kind of life and so I became a writer – even that though was a long time being decided in my mind. At school, I was really good at English and I took the entrance exam to get into Oxford to study the subject but I came up short although I did go on to have a tremendous grounding in the discipline at Bristol. It was in my second year there that I first envisaged I might become a writer; I was growing stifled by the incessant study of novels and poetry, much of it very depressing to absorb if truth be known, and simply felt that I’d like to add my own voice to the oeuvre. I didn’t for one moment think I could outdo the great titans of literature but I did think that I could balance the negativity a little with my efforts. And then I began to write, and realised how difficult it is actually to complete a project without its being affected even a little by the dark side of human nature. Now that interested me, and held my attention – what was it about writing a story which ineluctably drew one to the night in our souls? It wasn’t for years that I understood when reading a wonderful book called The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker; the argument within its pages too lengthy to summarise here, except to say that Mr Booker believes a great change came over storytelling right around the time of the French Revolution and has affected our pages ever since. For me, it’s no coincidence that my favourite story Frankenstein was written just thirty years after that event by an author who I simply can’t imagine still at such tender age could produce something so profound without there being a seismic shift in the society in which she lived also. I write now because I want to understand this focus, and help storytelling heal its self-inflicted wounds.

If you could have a conversation with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

I’d like to speak to Frankenstein’s monster because I think he is an incredible creation and sums up so well what so many human beings have felt through the ages – why was I created? Why was I created so imperfectly? Why was I abandoned by the creator who created me? Why did my creator loathe me so much he sought to pain me? My creator created me, and with that act of creation comes surely the responsibility to look after me, protect me, at least love me? I have often thought about the loneliness and sense of isolation to which Frankenstein’s monster gives such great voice, and emotion, and wondered whether Mary Shelley was in fact tapping in to some part of the human psyche, or indeed our history, of which she may not even have been aware. The ancient alien hypothesis, for example, suggests that humankind was created and then for some reason abandoned. How much more bearable, if still agonising, would this realisation be for Frankenstein’s monster were I to sit down with him and explain that Victor persecutes him because he himself is flawed, fallible, and fated to live out his days not knowing the reason either why he has been born; that, for me, is the monster’s curse, that he is so miserably hurt by not comprehending why Victor is repulsed by him and so seeks to kill him. He is in a state of ignorance, but no more so than the man who created him. Would that make him feel better knowing that he himself has been formed by an imperfect creator? This, inevitably, leads to the centuries old religious and spiritual awareness that anything designed by man is necessarily corrupt, and that by putting our faith in men and women we do ourselves grave disservice and sometimes unimaginable pain when they in due course let us down. Victor Frankenstein has the tools at his disposal to genetically engineer but he lacks the compassion, love and empathy to create a being in which he can imbue his soul. I would tell Frankenstein’s monster not to worry about securing the love of men because he already possesses the Creator’s care and concern for every living element in the world – if Victor wants to ditch him, so be it, but don’t fight fire with fire and seek to kill him first; ignorance, superficiality and detestation can only be overcome by love, not by some misguided redirection of them against themselves. The monster’s condition is our condition too, and we would do well to learn from the increase in his misery that hate must be returned by faith, hope and charity.

Would you care to provide an excerpt from one of your books as a sample of your work?  

I was about to call him out, tell him how predictable his actions had been since first we had pulled him from the boat, but then Manou’s almighty scream from the direction to which Dan had pointed set my hair from my head and I turned to see the mud covering the Usurper’s grave being pushed up from within. First one hand, then another broke through the earth, the right fist clenching the air, vital, pulling its torso and legs up and into view, head emerging last, shaking itself free of mud and dust, standing rather sullenly as we all watched in terror and many crossed themselves at sight this undead resurrection. And it was him. Of that there was no doubt. Momentarily, he looked back down at the grave from which he had emerged, bent over to pick something up and in one movement somehow swung it round to strike Manou hard on the side of his head. It was a corpse, the half-rotting skull smashing into Manou’s temple with a force that sent him sprawling in that sick sort of motion which immediately made me fear the worst. Then the Usurper threw the body towards us and it landed face up on the table, spread-eagled, half a dozen melons squashed beneath it and the same number of Utopians backing away feverishly crossing themselves still.
It was Emily.
I gawped at my nemesis.
Death, not even death, had contained him. Somehow he had transcended it, returned back through the gate, by what soul-killing magic I knew not, so that here he now stood, commensurate with his new condition, strong, mighty, immortal, and ready for the last time to harrow our paradise to extinction. I glanced at the Utopians sitting rigid in their seats and Dan who continued to eye me with disdain. Then I looked back at the Usurper. In the instant he nodded, I felt searing pain as my arm was twisted back behind me, forcing me to bend to the table where my face smacked hard upon the wooden top, Dan’s laughter increasing as he lifted my arm to breaking point before suddenly letting go, his choking the only thing I could hear as I fell back to the ground and cradled my injured limb. Through the fog and tears in my eyes, I saw him struggling against an assailant, a heavy length of rope coiled about his throat. It was Tom, strangling him to death, but not with rope, a snake, holding it at both ends and pulling it tight. Dan fought against him, kicking out with flailing legs, reaching with his right hand for one of the candle holders we had set by the table but he fumbled and groped thin air instead…

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books, New Release, nonfiction

Spotlight Book: 7 Simple Tricks to Remembering Names by Travis Tyler

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Synopsis

Forgetting a name can be worse than embarrassing—it can cost you in reputation, relationships, or even business. Remembering a name, on the other hand, makes you look great and can open doors.

Most of us have trouble remembering things — we’re only human, after all. The good news: Your brain has enormous memory capacity; you just need to learn how to use it.

7 Simple Tricks to Remembering Names is here to help with easy-to-remember tricks you can use anytime, anywhere. Use the techniques inside to unlock your brain’s powerful memory potential today.

You will learn:
•Why the human brain discards information—even information you’ll need
•How to memorize names (and more!) and access them anytime
•How to build your “memory palace” and store all the information you want
•Memory techniques that work for YOU

The human brain — YOUR brain — can remember names and so much more. Are you ready to unleash your amazing memory? Read 7 Simple Tricks to Remembering Names and start making better connections now

Buy It On Amazon!