books, New Release

Spotlight: Live Your Dreams by Neeti Nigam Keswani

AuthorBestsellingbookofalltimesNeeti

Author Neeti Nigam Keswani.
https://www.amazon.com/Neeti-Nigam-Keswani/e/B00UXB

“It feels good to be supported. But first we have to learn to support our feelings and values. So today I decided I am going to take this step.” -From Live Your Dreams

BookLYD

IF YOU LOVE THE CREATIVE FLOW:

If you would have experienced that creative flow when inspiration strikes and you cannot keep yourself from flowing with your thoughts. When you are in that flow, time loses its relevance. It is just you and your creation. Feel all that and more as you find yourself lost in Rhea’s creative world where she takes you by hand and makes you see her exquisite pieces.

IF YOU LOVE READING BOOKS ON TRAVELOGUES:

Rhea loves traveling and the way she sees London, Zurich, Himalayas, Maldives and many more places… will make you want to follow in her footsteps. Her experiences are powerful, vivid, and moving. See the magnificent Himalayas through her eyes, watch the streets of London become her fashion haven and find the jewels of the Maldives as she visits all these destinations.

IF YOU WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR SELF-WORTH:

If you love self-help tools, you have found just the book. BE YOU is the message on the book cover. Live Your Dreams:: BE YOU. Often in the walks of life, we dawn various roles a daughter, spouse, parent, or as highly-proficient skilled job owner, but we forget to dawn that one hat we are all born with. ‘BE YOU’. Find yourself, as Rhea discovers herself and her inherent talents somewhere in the flow of life.

USA: http://amzn.to/2osPaok
UK : http://amzn.to/2sPaSIC
Italy: http://amzn.to/2Fw0k44
Australia: http://amzn.to/2sWS3DJ
India: http://amzn.to/2GELLKG 

“Identity and striving for a goal are both important. But never at your own cost. Never let the little voice in you fade away. Listen to it often and take it’s advice.” -From Live Your Dreams

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“Sometimes, we just tend to take our families for granted forgetting that these little moments spent with them will be the ones we cherish for life.”

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Are you settling for a Pay Check, when what you really want is a life?
Is the price of freedom – a lack of true achievement and life of busy work?
What if life presents you a chance, a chance to follow your dreams?
Do you BELIEVE in your dreams?
These are the questions Rhea is asking herself as she is swishing through the lanes of life. Most people dream of having a story that Bollywood movies are made up of. How about actually living one? Opposites attract and repel in this tale of love, inspiration, and dreams. The beautiful, adventurous Rhea and the ambitious, intellectual Sahil are drawn to each other but require some pivotal times and a whirlwind of emotions to understand each other and their dreams. It takes you through a journey, a journey within and answers those questions which only you know subconsciously.
These lines will talk to your heart. And this book will take you through a journey…make you re-think and re-write your story.

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“As they say, it is easy to fight but very hard to make anyone understand your point of view. Go with the flow. Do not fight the current. Because if you try to fight the current, chances are you might exhaust yourself and drown. So, my simple advice is, go with the flow. And believe you are well protected.” -From Live Your Dreams

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Enjoy the life as it goes. Enjoy the stopover that may come in future. Stop being unhappy about where you are and where you want to be. It is the interim time that the journey is all about… make it fun ,make it exciting. Your adventures, your paths are what will make your destination worthwhile. Never ever forget to Live your dreams.

http://www.liveyourdreams-beyou.com

“Set your priorities right and then live from values set out. And don’t do something because he wants or she wants or what will they think. Do what you want.” -From Live Your Dreams.

 

authors, interviews, poems, poetry, Uncategorized

In the Words of an Author: An Interview With Jennifer Juan

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Jennifer Juan is a cultural melting pot of an artist. She is a writer, a musician, a producer, a film maker and a podcast host, currently residing in the Kent countryside, but dreaming of the ocean. A tornado of darkness and delicacy, Juan creates engaging and powerful projects, using a variety of mediums and platforms, each dripping with her signature playful, yet powerful style of writing.

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

I’ve always been very inspired by Carol Ann Duffy. I’ve been reading her work since I was a little girl, and she has always been somebody I admired and was inspired by.

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

Probably Marina, who is featured in my upcoming media project “Drowning In Us”. The project uses music, film, and poetry to tell Marina’s story, as she tries to create a new life for herself, after screwing everything up. I think a lot of people have moments in their life where they wish they could just run away and start again, and Marina actually does it. It was a lot of fun to throw her into the worst time of her life, and then write her out of trouble.

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

I mainly write poetry, and a lot of what I create is based on my own life, so it can be difficult to relive some of the more tempestuous and troubling experiences, but it does feel freeing to create something from those moments.

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

I think for me, being able to reach out to other people, and share my experiences, and to be able to create something from the life I’ve lived is the most rewarding thing.

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

I think the best thing someone can do is learn to appreciate their own voice as a writer, and their own style. It can be tempting to copy what you see, and what is popular, but sooner or later, it becomes obvious that it isn’t authentic. Being yourself and discovering your own way of doing things is one of the most challenging but rewarding things any creator will do, but it will always be worth it.

The other thing I would advise is to build a base for yourself, like a website you regularly update, or a social media page that contains your information and content. Make it easy for people to find you, and your work, and see what you’re all about. It’s such a shame to see some writers creating amazing things, but barely sharing them, or making them accessible to an audience. If you don’t have the resources to create your own online spaces, there will be other creatives who can help. I recently launched a poetry contest on my own website for this reason, as part of the prize package is the winning and commended entries being read on my podcast, “Sincerely, Jennifer x” and hosted on my website, with biographies and further information about the writer. There are lots of other creatives who are doing similar things, and sharing their own platforms, so there is a lot of help out there for young writers who want to get more exposure for their work, or find a base for potential fans to find out more about them.

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

I like to dress up sometimes, when I write. I take bubble baths before, a lot, and just stay in the water for a little while, thinking about what I’ll write about, and then I get dressed, and make sure I feel good, before I get started. I like to listen to records while I’m writing. I have a lot of instrumental, ambient stuff, but I also like older things, like The Beach Boys or Bobby Vee, it depends on the kind of day I’m having.

I normally start with a stream of consciousness, so I can get down everything I’m thinking, and then I pick out the things I’m most struck by, the things I’m really in love with, and begin crafting them into something bigger.

Was being an author something you always wanted to do?

In a sense, yes. I was very interested in creating things in general, and dabbled in music and acting, but along the way, I ended up focusing mostly on writing.

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

Joan Crawford. I think she was a fascinating and talented woman, and I’d love to get some more insight into her life and who she was. I wrote a poem about how fascinated I was with her life, and how I see parts of her in myself sometimes, in my recent poetry collection “Kissing Boys, Just For The Thrill” so, it would also be interesting to ask her what she thought about that.

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

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This is a poem called “You’re A Crushing Bore (But I’ve Got A Crush On You)”, taken from my latest book “Kissing Boys, Just For The Thrill”.

 

You spent two hours,
telling me you’d never break my heart.
You spent two hours,
breaking my heart,
just from wrapping it,
so tightly,
that it suffocated.

I fantasised,
about your nights,
as a werewolf.
My fingers lost in your fur,
as you left me marked,
by bites you’d apologise for,
when the moon was put to bed,
and you awoke,
worried what I thought of you.

When the sun is in our eyes,
you’re a crushing bore,
but I’ve got a crush on you.
My hands speak a language that I know you understand,
but most days,
you pretend your whole body is deaf.
I play on the tracks,
hoping for a highspeed service,
to take me somewhere sublime,
but you’re still waiting at the station,
ignoring green light,
after green light.

You swing,
and you miss,
by not playing at all.
I stole your mind,
from your back pocket,
in some bar,
where you were so interesting,
insane,
a tornado.

Your destruction,
delicious,
lasted minutes,
before you shrank to the ground,
found naked in a field,
and I am marked,
missing the man you are,
when the moon comes out to make you a monster.


Make sure to check out Jennifer's work at http://jenniferjuan.com

 

 

authors, books, children's literature, kids books

New Release! Find Your Happy, A Self Love Kids Book by Patricia May

Endorsed by New York Best selling author Anita Moorjani, this book, Find Your Happy, A Self Love Kids Book, offers tools needed to create a more pleasant daily experience. Full of fun and easy affirmations, self esteem practices, fun projects and techniques kids and adults really love. Great for teachers, parents, and coaches. Perfect for kids 4-12
http://www.booksthatinspireakidsimagination.com

 happy_what_is_page_2_pdf

Within the pages of this book, you will find fun and simple daily exercises and practices to help create your physical, emotional and spiritual balance. When these three things work together in harmony, you feel more spiritually connected, physiclly stronger and emotionally happier. Practice these daily to help provide the tools you need to be the happiest you, you can be!

book_cover_happy_merged1

authors, books, poems, poetry

Spotlight & Review: The Long Body That Connects Us All by Rich Marcello

Synopsis

Provocative and profound, Rich Marcello’s poems are compact but expansive, filled with music as seductive as their ideas, and focused mostly on how to be a good man. This is a collection of deep passion and wisdom for fathers, husbands, and sons, but also for mothers, wives, and daughters, many who began with a longing for the things they were taught to desire by their forefathers, only to later discover a different path, one lit by loss and welcoming of the vulnerable, one made of the long body that connects us all.

Buy Links

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-long-body-that-connects-us-all-rich-marcello/1127357860?ean=9781545611944

Porchwork
You come home from work
with metal pieces in need of straightening,
the result of an earlier errant production run.
For ten dollars, I spend my Saturday
on the front porch running thousands
of bent rods, of scrapworks,
through a straightening machine

On occasion, I gaze outward
into the woods, aware
that my increasing sense
of accomplishment
mirrors the rise of the sun.
Finally, when it’s dusk,
you come to the porch
to see me, your nine-year-old son,
to offer payment, but it’s the warmth
on your face that stirs me the most
I know you’re proud of me
for sticking with the cogs
and crooked metal.
I know you love me.
I know I’ve somehow taken
a step toward you

Today, building a Lego set on the floor
with my son, I realize I’ve been trying
to duplicate that moment on the porch
over thirty years now, my entire work life

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MY REVIEW

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Long Body That Connects Us All is a wonderful collection of poetry. Each poem is exceptionally well crafted, original, and personal- everything a great collection should entail. So, why only 4 stars? 

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, poetry is personal. It’s meant to be. That being said, not all poetry will touch everyone the same. The majority of the poems in this collection didn’t speak to me the way I’m sure it will speak to others, but I appreciate a well-written poem. I appreciate a poet who knows what they’re doing and isn’t afraid to put themselves and their experiences on the line. 

The poetry within this collection is full of vivid imagery. The Walking, In the rough patch, Stillness, and Blue Gears were some of the poems that stood out to me, but my favorite, without question, was Daughters and Sons.

I struggled with the rating. If my rating was based solely on the quality of the work, it would be an easy 5 stars. The placement of the poetry, the three different parts and the flow within each was incredible. However, a review isn’t just about the skill an author has; it’s also a reader’s opinion.

I would recommend this collection to poetry fans, for sure. Even if they don’t feel a connection to the poems, they will be better for having read The Long Body That Connects Us All.

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An Interview With the Poet

Rich Marcello is an author who creates both fiction and poetry. He’s been with us before to discuss his works of fiction ( https://sandraely770.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/445/ ). Now, he’s back discussing poetry.

You’ve been with us before to discuss your works of fiction. How would you say writing fiction differs from writing poetry?

I think they complement each other.  With a novel, I start with the story and go down to the chapters, the scenes, and the individual sentences.  When I reach the sentence level, I often think about certain sentences in a poetic sense, trying to make them as vivid and lyrical as possible. In a similar way, when I write a poem, I often start with a fragment or a phrase or even a single word, but when I’m done I make sure I’ve told a story.

Is the publishing process different? How so?

It was very much the same since the publisher of my novels, Langdon Street Press, also published this collection.  Clearly, the editors assigned were different, but otherwise it was a similar process.

Do you have a different writing process for poetry than you do for fiction?

Yes.  I tend to write poems when they come to me, and then hone them over time.  I also tend to work on them for shorter periods of time, maybe an hour at time, until they’re complete. Typically, I get an idea for a poem or a single image, and then I develop it from there.  If I started with the idea, I spend my time making the poem more physical and concrete.  If I start with an image, I spend my time working on the poem’s thematic payoff.

It takes quite a few poems to make a complete collection. How do you decide which poems to include, which to scrap?

I wrote over two hundred poems over two years for this collection and then honed it down to the 60 poems I liked best. I didn’t really use a process to decide on what poems to use. It was mostly what felt right given the theme of the book.

What is your favorite poem from this collection?

I love many of the poems, but if I had to name three,  I would say, “Passing,” “The Blue Line,” and “Belong to No One

What’s your favorite thing about poetry in general?

The ability the express a great deal of emotion on a single page.

What would you say to a fiction reader in order to get them to try to read poetry- more specifically your poetry?

My novels deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, aging, self-discovery. My goal is to fill my novels with rich characters and ideas, to continually improve my craft as a storyteller, and to tell my stories with the eye and the ear of a poet. For me, writing and art-making are about connection and making a difference to a least one other person in the world. So, if a reader liked the style and theme of one of my novels, I think she would find the same elements in my poetry, only more emotional and focused.

How long have you been writing poetry?

I’ve been writing poetry all my life. I also have written over sixty songs and my publisher, Langdon Street Press, has published three of my novels: The Color of HomeThe Big Wide Calm, and The Beauty of the Fall. I am currently working on my fourth novel, The Latecomers.

What would you like readers to take away from this collection?

I wanted to publish a collection about what it means to be a good man in the modern world. There are many great poets out there, but few these days are writing on this topic. With all the divisiveness in the world these days, much propagated by violent men, I wanted to show some of my own experiences about being open and vulnerable with the hope that some of my specific experiences would generalize.

If you could go back in time, what one piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Take bigger artistic risks in your twenties and really go for it.

If you’d like to find out more about Rich Marcello visit his website: http://www.richmarcello.com

authors, books, interviews, young adult fiction

In the Words of An Author: An Interview With A J King

AJ

A J King, young adult author.
http://www.thepowervestedinme.com

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

Stephen King and David Baldacci

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

It varies from book to book. In The Power Vested in Me trilogy the main characters are the five teenagers collectively known as the Stardust. I can’t pick a favourite from these because as my own kids tell me you can’t have a favourite with your kids. In fact, when I write I feel guilty if I have given one more page time than the others.

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

In the last book saying goodbye to some of the characters was hard and I found writing these scenes emotionally difficult, probably because I had grown attached to them- however killing some of them off was scarily easy.

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

Without doubt it is when people give you positive feedback on the books, and speak to you sometimes quite passionately about scenes and characters they have enjoyed and loved. So much work goes into writing the books that knowing they are appreciated lightens your heart and your step.

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

On a disciplined day- I wake up mega early in the morning, convince myself I’m not going to go back to sleep, get up, put on my Rocky Balboa dressing gown, drink lots of coffee, listen to music on youtube and write. On an undisciplined day, I do all of the above minus the writing.

Was being an author something you always wanted to do?

Always, from an early age at school my absolute favourite thing was when the teacher would tell the class ‘you need to write a story about….’ I just love stories- hearing them, reading them and of course writing them.

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

It would definitely be Billie Jean King- she has been my idol since as far back as I can remember, my first book is dedicated to her and I have a tattoo of her on my left shoulder. To meet her and speak to her would be an absolute dream come true for me- although I would possibly just open and close my mouth like a goldfish and find no words come out.

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

Then, as random as a dream, through the dimmed light, a figure appeared in the centre of the room. It was a man. His shirt, tie, trousers, shoes and ankle-length overcoat were all black. His body was almost camouflaged in the darkness, but his spiky white hair and vivid blue eyes made his expressionless face stand out like a beacon in the night. For a moment he stood there, moving only his head, glancing around the room at the sleeping babies. Then he placed the palms of his hands together in front of his chest, with his fingers pointing to the ceiling. He closed his eyes and took a deep, concentrated breath through his nose. As he exhaled, he stretched his arms out to either side of his body. On the palms of each hand were stars. They glowed blue at first, and then white – as white as the stranger’s hair. Suddenly beams of light erupted from these stars, and fell like rays of summer sunshine upon some of the sleeping babies. The babies stirred slightly as the beams of light hit them, but they didn’t cry. In fact, none of them made a sound. They just slept peacefully while the light fell upon them, like fairy dust sprinkled by Tinkerbell herself. The man remained there for no more than half a minute with his palms pointed outwards, keeping the light directed at the babies. His eyes remained closed, but his aim did not falter. Eventually the rays faded. It was as if they have been sucked back into the stars on the palms of his hands. The man opened his eyes, put his arms to his side and then, as silently and as suddenly as he had arrived, he disappeared, his visit gone completely unnoticed. His work was done. The gift was given. The die was cast.

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, 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!

 

authors, books, fiction, interviews, kids books, murder-mystery, mystery, New Release

In the Words of an Author: An Interview with Robyn Washington

 

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Author Biography

Starting out in Seattle in a military family, Robyn’s family moved to North Carolina where she was raised in a family of six siblings. Being the oldest child, she had to learn how to make up stories to survive in a competitive family. Storytelling became easy for Robyn, and she started to pen romantic stories, children’s books and mystery novels at an early age. She progressed to writing journals and blogs, and later to novellas, plays, skits and her first published book. Graduating with a B.S. in Biology, an M.B.A in Business Administration, she has worked in the business world most of her life, but her passion is to excel in writing and brand her next series featuring stories on Children’s Books.

 

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

 

My favorite authors are the following: Nora Roberts, John Grisham, James Patterson, Dean Koontz, Charles Dickens, Stephen King, Mark Twain, J. K. Rowling, and Danielle Steele. I can’t even mention all the authors I’ve read. Some are unknown, and I read just about anything to learn and for pleasure. I’ve been known just to get a biology book down and start reading From plays to history, science to romance novels, reading has been a favorite hobby of mine for years.

 

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

My favorite character was Jade, a CIA agent. Trying to write from a federal agent’s perspective and one who has been shafted was extremely hard. Penning emotions and fleshing out the character can be hard when tagging them with specific characteristics.

 

What are the most difficult scenes for you to write?

The most difficult scenes to write were the action scenes where confrontations occurred. I have two new books coming out soon in the month of February 2018, Deception, Love & Lies Part 2 and New Beginnings that have scenes that I had to rewrite so many times until it stressed me out. I had to teach myself how to write with continuity and make the topic interesting for readers. Romance novels are my favorite to read, but I don’t write steamy punk love scenes. Although I may read one occasionally, I like a story with a learning curve and a romance linked to the storyline.

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

 

The most rewarding part of being an author is that I get to create, design, draw, imagine, deliver, and make-up stories as I go along. I have a very wild imagination and can step out of my mind at any time and write what I feel. The hardest part is when you come back and edit your words, change it around, and forget what you were trying to say. I want a reaction out of my readers, and I’ve got to master the art. I understand now why movie directors try to get a rise out of the audience, it makes sales.

 

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

A good story needs to be adequately researched, so the facts match what you’re writing about. Mysteries need to have a good twist, romance novels need to be unique, murder scenes need to be fleshed out, and the facts need to be as real as possible. Inadequate info can turn readers off. Don’t get trapped by criticism, learn from what others say about your work. Visit author’s groups and participate, create a blog, create and tweet, become friends with colleagues, and ask questions whenever you can. As a previous science teacher, asking questions always helps to increase the learning experience.

 

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

I have a room with crazy colors and designs to set the mood for me to write with a large desk, a comfortable chair, a tv, a bright light, and then I try to write every day. There is no set time, but when I enter my space, I spend time researching, reading, writing, or creating an outline for a book. I carry a notebook and pen in my pocketbook at all times, and sometimes use my iPhone to capture ideas or thoughts. Explosions can occur everywhere. The first process for me in writing a book is to create an outline, jot down thoughts, ideas, and create a plot for the story.

 

Was being an author something you always wanted to do?

No, I wanted to be a doctor, but I changed my major, so many times in college it was funny. I have worked in management and business most of my life and even taught school for a short while. My interest in science and animals has been a focal point in my life and lead me to start publishing my work.

 

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

My father. He died when I was a child and knowing him would have been the highlight of my life. People don’t know what they’re missing when they miss out on knowing their parents.

 

Where can readers go to find out about you and your books?

Coming soon a Pinterest link, but below are my Facebook and Twitter accounts for Robyn Washington.

https://twitter.com/RobynSeattle

https://www.facebook.com/RobynSeattle/

 

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Synopsis:

After a lifetime of a broken marriage, zoo owner, Barry Weinstein is persuaded by his longtime friend, Chad Everette, an MI6, to buy two Amur Leopards for the zoo. The Leopards become the featured attraction at the zoo and a baby cub, Malachi is born.

Life begins to change for Barry, and he must face his attraction to his new office administrator at his zoo, the curvy petite Gloria Peterson. But love is not that simple for Barry, and he runs. Tragedy strikes and Barry must face the battle from within himself to empty the darkness out of his soul.

Endowed with bad investments and massive debts, Chad falls in love with what he hates the most, an American CIA agent, the classy blonde Jade Ayers. Back in the USA, Jade is heading up an investigation involving six CIA agents that have been murdered in the last year in Afghanistan. When she finds out who’s involved, she becomes a suspect in her own investigation from London to all parts of the world. Love, adoption, greed, kidnapping, pain, torment, and endurance will be best experienced when everyone realizes what they’ve been chasing was right at their back door.