Monthly Archives: August 2015

Brain To Book Blog Tour Aug. 24th Day 32/#3

Mel Edwards

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Fast Facts

Author: Mel Edwards
Genre: nonfiction
Books: The Bold Way

Bio

IMG_1518Mel has a master’s degree in storytelling from East Tennessee State University. She is a defeater of depression, eLearning Pro, and (other than writing) she loves: bodybuilding, the arts, and nerdy stuff.

Blurb

Everyone, it seems, tells you to find your passion, but few talk about your truth — that part of yourself that is undeniably you. Have you ever heard what happens if you ignore your truth? This book attacks the reality of self-denial, and gives step by step actions to discover, honor, and live a life that yokes your best traits to create a happy life worth living on your terms, your way.

The companion workbook is available separately for those who want to dig deeper and start immediately.

Review

“I have had the opportunity to read and do the exercises suggested by Mel Edwards in her new book: The Bold Way. She uses a simple no nonsense approach to help you get out of the rut you are in and living the life of your dreams. I highly recommend this book and the companion workbook that goes with it” – Jocelyn Jones

Interview with Mel Edwards

mel_edwards_theboldAngela B. Chrysler: I want to take a moment to welcome Mel Edwards author of The Bold Way, The Bold Way Workbook and As Spirit Moves Me: Poems and Photographs of Everyday Life available on Amazon.

ABC Question: Thank you so much for speaking with me, Mel. Please take a moment to tell us about The Bold Way.

Mel Edwards: The Bold Way is about finding, claiming and living your truth. Your truth is who you essentially are. For example, from an early age I was a creative person. One of my first memories was of my mom asking me to sing her a song. Instead of just singing where I was, I found it necessary to move the hassock (ottoman) into the middle of our little living room floor, stand on top of it, stretch out my arms and belt a tune of nonsense sounds that were very operatic, in my opinion, at that age. That is what I thought singing was, and I honestly haven’t gotten far from that idea. For me, singing is performing. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it big.

ABC Question: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

Mel Edwards: There a hundreds of books out there about finding your passion, but I am passionate about many things: being kind to everyone, equality, empowerment, gardening and feeding yourself/family/community, learning all I can to create the life that I want and encouraging others to do the same. It is not a simple one word, one phrase answer for me, and, frankly, most people I speak with can’t put their passion into a word, phrase or box of any kind.

I want everyone to create joy by being who they’re best at being, as long as that causes no harm to themselves or others. Your best skills and greatest joys are part of your truth, and can be used in your passions, but they don’t have to be. For me, my truth is that I am a creative, curious person with an immense appreciation for beauty and excellence. I use all those things in my writing, teaching, art, gardening, and even watching others in action – from students to those I see in public. These things bring me incredible joy, and to foster that is to empower my own success and growth. Everyone deserves growth, successes, and excitement as they navigate their life journey. It is my hope The Bold Way will lead to such realizations for the readers.

ABC Question: What happens if you get so busy with your life that you don’t have time to work on your truth or passions? After all, most of us have bills to pay.

Mel Edwards: I’m glad you asked. In 2008 I had the opportunity to interview 75 creative women for a project I was completing called Shout: Kiss My Art! As I interviewed everyone I kept coming across this thread that when life got in the way, and they ignored their truth, bad things happened, almost as a warning or omen to take care of themselves. Those who ignored the warnings eventually had horrible things happen to them, including cancer, being told they’d never walk again, and multiple failed relationships from family and marriage to work.

In the end, I also ignored my truth to do a job that paid the bills, but had many shackles on my freedom of expression. People I loved and admired told me to keep at it because they loved my work, but I was miserable, and ended up clinically depressed. I wanted this book to come out immediately so people could hear the warnings and perhaps avoid the pitfalls that many of others experience when ignoring their truth.

ABC Question: Where can we find you and your book?

Mel Edwards: It is a Kindle book on Amazon, and the Spanish translation is coming out on my birthday, August 27th, with the German version coming out soon after that. The audio book is due out on Audible on my birthday as well. I picked that day because it was one I would remember.

ABC Question: What are your next steps?

Mel Edwards: The Bold Way was the first steps in getting people to realize how important being true to yourself really happens to be, but I also know stubborn folks, like myself, will say, “Sure, that might happen to others, but not to me!” just like I did. So, I’ve written Depression Smackdown, a book that spends half of it detailing my journey into depression and how I stopped my slide down the rabbit hole once I found myself in a position that I never dreamed I’ve be in. One day I woke up and said, “This is not me, my life or my path,” and went back to my truth.

That will be out on October 19th, on Evaluate Your Life Day.

ABC Question: I understand you have some special gifts for those who purchase The Bold Way?

Mel Edwards: Yes. If someone purchases The Bold Way on Amazon (or the audio book on Audible later in August) and joins my email list via my website http://www.MsMelEdwards.com during August or September (2015), they can send me proof of purchase to me via email at mel@MsMelEdwards.com and I will send The Bold Way Workbook and The Bold Way Playbook as free pdfs via email.

Also, if they review The Bold Way on Amazon, Goodreads, or Audible, and email me a link to that written review, I will also send my chapbook As Spirit Moves Me: Poems and Photographs of Everyday life for free.

In the end, one purchase, combined with joining my mailing list and writing a single review can give a reader not only the one purchased book but two more (The Bold Way Workbook and As Spirit Moves Me) as well the special bonus The Bold Way Playbook, not published anywhere else at this time.

I’m all about paying it forward.

ABC: Thank you again, so much for speaking with me.

Mel Edwards: Thank you, Angela, for your time and consideration. It is a pleasure to be part of your world and to speak to your readers.

If someone purchases The Bold Way on Amazon (or the audio book on Audible later in August) and joins my email list via my website www.MsMelEdwards.com during August or September (2015), they can send me proof of purchase to me via email at mel@MsMelEdwards.com and I will send The Bold Way Workbook and The Bold Way Playbook as free PDFs via email.
Also, if they review The Bold Way on Amazon, Goodreads, or Audible, and email me a link to that written review, I will also send my chapbook  As Spirit Moves Me: Poems and Photographs of Everyday life for free.
In the end, one purchase, combined with joining my mailing list and writing a single review can give a reader not only the one purchased book but two more (The Bold Way Workbook and As Spirit Moves Me) as well the special bonus The Bold Way Playbook, not published anywhere else at this time.
I’m all about paying it forward.

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Brain To Book Blog Tour Aug. 24th Day 32/#2

One of my personal favorites and probably the only YA writer I read, Chess always delivers the good thrills when called for. If you only pick one author from this entire tour, let it be me…if you pick two, then go with Chess.

Chess DeSalles

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Fast Fact

Author: Chess Desalls

Genre: YA, fantasy, time travel

Books: Travel Glasses from The Call to Search Everywhen series

Official Site

Bio

I recently authored the first two installments of the YA time travel serial series, The Call to Search Everywhen. I’m a longtime reader of fantasy and sci-fi novels, particularly classics and young adult fiction. There’s nothing quite like a good fairy tale or fable. When I’m not writing I enjoy traveling, reading and trying to stay in tune on my flute.

Accomplishments

 I work and write outside of my creative writing. My work has led to both academic and industry publications. I’m a contributing editor for my local writing club’s monthly newsletter. I also received a first place award for best short fiction from the California Writers Club, South Bay branch.
(I wish I could say more, but I routinely deal with confidential information and prefer to keep that part of my background separate.)

Blurb

Calla Winston’s mobile devices sit in a corner of her room, covered in dust. Weeks ago, she shared photos and laughs with her best online friend. Now, after having felt the sting of betrayal, she prefers being hidden and friendless. She equates privacy with security and technology with pain.

Then she meets Valcas, an otherworldly time traveler who traverses time and space with a pair of altered sunglasses. When an ethereal being knocks Calla to the ground near her family’s lakeside cottage, Valcas uses the Travel Glasses to help her escape. He offers his further protection in exchange for a promise. Intrigued by Valcas and the possibility of time travel, Calla accepts. That is until she learns that his search for her was no mere coincidence.

Calla sets off on her own, taking the Travel Glasses with her. Torn between searching for her estranged father and reuniting with the rest of her family, she tracks down the inventor of the Travel Glasses in hopes of discovering more about Valcas’ past and motivations. The Travel Glasses take Calla’s mistrust of technology to all new levels. But without them, she’ll never make it back home. With Valcas hot on her trail, Calla hopes to find what she’s looking for before he catches up.

The Call to Search Everywhen is a serial series of novel-length installments. Travel Glasses is YA fantasy filled with metafiction and other literary twistiness. It’s a thought-provoking narrative about trust, relationships, reality and illusion.

Review

This book is really unique and unlike anything I’ve read” ~ Goodreads reviewer
The sci-fi aspect of the novel was perfectly executed, everything was wonderfully explained and it felt real to me, it felt very possible, less fictitious. The TSTA, glasses, rules, bright light, nowheres and everything made sense to me. Best of it all, this is a theme I haven’t hear of. Its not a copy of any other sci-fi novel I have ever heard of, and trust me, I’ve heard of a lot.” ~ Goodreads/Amazon reviewer
I also enjoyed the originality of the devices and means of time travel in this book.” ~ Goodreads/Amazon reviewer
The story of the travel glasses is very original and inventive, props to the author for coming up with this story and keeping it believable.” ~ Goodreads reviewer
Time travel, mystery, romance and plenty of adventure, this book captivated me with interesting characters and a plot that was unlike anything I had ever read before.” ~ Goodreads reviewer
“Its a really fun read, very unusual and with some novels like this I’ve a shedload of questions that never get answered, but here – each time I think “ I wonder why/how/who/what?” the answer comes, and not through that horrible device so often used of simply telling the reader the answers, but by Calla thinking her way through, using logic to find them, or by looking at what’s happening to her, or sometimes just asking questions of another traveller. That makes the story so much more realistic, more interesting than what often happens, where we just read pages of text giving the reader the answer.” ~ Amazon top reviewer

Excerpt

The fireplace glowed and crackled behind me as the light of the flames reflected off of Valcas’ lenses. I sipped tea while sitting cross-legged on a sleeping bag.

“Time travel is possible and has been in operation for a long time,” he began. “There are at least two known methods of travel. This,” he said as he removed his glasses and handed them to me. “Is my way.”

Valcas’ sunglasses did not look extraordinary. They were large enough to block light from the front and sides. Both the frames and lenses were of a similar black opaque material, light and smooth like plastic. The tops and sides of each rounded rectangular lens were shuttered. I turned the glasses in my hands, looking them over, expecting to see a power switch and control buttons. There weren’t any. Still holding the glasses in my hands, I looked up at Valcas—I was finally going to see his eyes. When I did, I froze.

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Brain To Book Blog Tour Aug. 24th Day 32/#1

John W. Howell

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Brain to Books Blog Tour John W. Howell

Fast Facts:

Photo by Tim Burdick
Photo by Tim Burdick

Author: John W. Howell

My genre(s): Fiction Thriller

My book title: My GRL from the John Cannon Trilogy

Official Website

Bio

John was born in Detroit Michigan but has lived on all coasts of the United States as well as Chicago and Indiana. John graduated with a Social Science degree from Michigan State University and after working for a large consumer products company he went back to school to obtain his MBA from Notre Dame. After twenty-five years in the consumer products industry, John then worked as a consultant and then finally in the telecommunications industry for fifteen years. John finally escaped organized commerce to pursue writing full-time.

John is married and lives by the Gulf of Mexico in South Texas with his wife Molly and loving rescue pets.

Author Accomplishments

Molly and John are active in Austin Boxer Rescue where the emphasis is on saving individual Boxer dogs from euthanasia in community shelters and finding suitable forever homes.

Blurb

John J. Cannon successful San Francisco lawyer takes a leave of absence from the firm and buys a boat he names My GRL. He is unaware that his newly-purchased boat had already been targeted by a terrorist group. John’s first inkling of a problem is when he wakes up in the hospital where he learns he was found unconscious next to the dead body of the woman who sold him the boat in the first place. John now stands between the terrorists and the success of their mission.

Book Blurb

5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting thriller and terrific fun January 25, 2014, Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

My GRL is a terrific thriller – exciting, with an engaging and very likeable protagonist (who has a wonderful dry, self-deprecating humor that had me laughing out loud at times!), and full of twists and turns that keep you guessing and turning the pages to see what happens next. Throughout the action builds very well and is fast paced when needed and very believable. Every aspect is described so well you feel almost like you are watching a movie, and indeed I believe this would translate very well to that sort of medium and be very successful in that form too.

The story commences with a lawyer going on a sabbatical, buying a boat and starting to enjoy a new way of life. Little does he know what these innocent and worthy pursuits are about to bring into his life! I won’t give spoilers because a great deal of the pleasure of this book is having the story unfold, but suffice to say the hero finds himself with far more than he bargained for!

The author John W Howell has constructed his thriller very cleverly and created a truly pleasurable reading experience. I found myself suspecting just about everyone of something and being right only about half the time, which is probably in itself one of the marks of a very good thriller.

I do note there is a vague hint at the end of a possible sequel – if, so I say bring it on! I’d love to read the next stage of this story! But if that’s just wishful thinking on my part I certainly look forward to any other work from this engaging and talented thriller author.

Read the Excerpt

Gerry and I finish our beers at the Sandbar and make a move to cross the crowds toward the front door. Before the karaoke noise starts, we agree to go to another place for some pizza. She directs something to me which I can’t understand, so I hold my hand to my ear and try hard to hear her. She looks a little upset. I signal we should wait until we get outside to talk.

She nods and I take the lead, reach back, grab her hand, and act like a bulldozer while I separate the crowd as we pass through. It becomes harder since everyone has begun to pay attention to the drunken girl singing what sounds a little like a slurred Avril Lavigne song to the karaoke machine on the stage up front.

We make it to the door and go out into the humid night. I drop Gerry’s hand and notice there are two guys walking toward us. I tell her to stay close and figure the guys will eventually make way and go into the bar. I am about to ask her what she was trying to get me to understand in the bar when I feel a rush of air behind me and hear what sounds like someone thumping a watermelon. That was the last thing on my mind when the lights of the world go out.

Links

Buy the Book

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CAN

Interview with John. W. Howell

Angela B. Chrysler: Tell us a little about yourself (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you are not writing?

John. W. Howell: I have always wanted to write and tried doing it while working full time. I found that neither the work nor the writing was quality output when done in the same time frame, so I waited until I retired to devote myself to wring full-time. I started writing as a kid and did it for the enjoyment. When I’m not writing, I usually spend time on the beach with our two Boxers.

ABC: Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (If any?) List other titles if applicable

John. W. Howell: My first book which is titled Next Door is in manuscript form and works to hold the laundry room door open. I have not published it since during my first edit I realized just how bad it was. My GRL is my second book, and I have since written three more. Two are the final books in the John Cannon Trilogy, and the forth is a different story and being queried.

ABC: What genre do you enjoy writing the most and what is this book about?

John. W. Howell: I most enjoy Thriller Fiction since there is always the challenge of crafting a story that is not easy for the reader to guess the twists before they happen. My GRL is about an ordinary guy who gets caught up in a terrorist plot to blow up a symbol of America’s greatness. He is not a superhero so he must use his intellect and whatever is at hand in order to thwart the plot.

ABC: What inspired you to write this book?

John. W. Howell: My sister and I visited the Aircraft Carrier Lexington since our dad served on her as a naval aviator during WWII. I was standing on the massive flight deck, and it struck me that if anyone wanted to destroy this symbol of America’s military strength they could do so with no resistance. Later I developed a plan to destroy the Lexington and then a plan to prevent it. The story just flowed from there although in the book the Lexington is not the target.

ABC: How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

John. W. Howell: The title MyGRL came from the name John J. Cannon; the protagonist gave this boat. The boat played an integral part in the story, and the name reflects John’s affection for her. The second book is titled His Revenge, which leaves the reader guessing if John gets revenge on the terrorist boss or is it the other way around. The final book is titled Our Justice, which leads us to believe all ends well.

ABC: Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

John. W. Howell: The cover was designed by Martin Sisters Publishing. The image symbolizes the final scene of the action, and although it appears calm, it is a view that John sees as he is slipping away.

ABC: If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

John. W. Howell:

John Cannon – Bradley Cooper

Ned Tranes – Sam Elliot

Jason Savard – Gerard Butler

Ralph Winter – Matthew McConaughey

Matt Jacobs – Christian Bale

Sarah Barsonne – Kate Beckinsale

Choices from the serious list

ABC: When did you consider yourself a writer?

John. W. Howell: The day I opened my first case of books I considered myself a writer. I have to say the day I got my first royalty check enhanced that view.

ABC: What does your writing process look like?

John. W. Howell: When I’m working on a novel I, set a daily word count goal. The count that is comfortable is 1000 words. My routine is to accomplish the goal first and then do other writing or jobs around the house. This gets me to about 90,000 words in three months. I use a laptop computer and operate from a limited outline of the story. The characters and story develop while I am writing although I have written the last three lines of the book before starting the first chapter as an ending spot.

ABC: What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?

John. W. Howell: When I’m asked, I always tell aspiring authors not to show their work to others until it’s finished. The reason is too often I have seen writers showing pieces of a book to someone only to get discouraged when the someone has some critical comments. This leads to a self-confidence problem that might not be solvable. Once a work is finished there is plenty of time to show it around and get all the advice in the world. At least the advice won’t stop the book from getting written. Don’t stop writing for any reason is another piece of advice I like to give since procrastination is so much easier than the hard work of writing.

ABC: Do you read reviews? Do you respond to them good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

John. W. Howell: I always read reviews. I consider understanding what the reader thinks of my work is a part of my job. I hope everyone enjoys what I write but know that does not always happen. I don’t respond to reviews as I think the person wanted to leave the review without having to worry about the author making comments. I respect the reviewer’s privacy in this manner. My advice on dealing with bad reviews is simple. If the bad review is well thought out and has some merit, learn from it. If the review is nasty and obviously meant to deride the author, then it should be ignored. In no case should an author engage in any response.

ABC: What are your current projects?

John. W. Howell: My publisher has waived their first right of refusal rights on the sequel to My GRL,which is titled His Revenge. I am currently working to self-publish the work so I have the book out for a beta read and once done then it will be professionally edited I expect publication before the end of the third quarter. The final book in the series Our Justice is complete and waiting a beta read and professional edit. I think the publication of Our Justice will be in April of 2016. I also have a general fiction novel completed titled Circumstances of Childhood. It is the story of a successful athlete and business person who gets sideways with the SEC and Justice Department. He ultimately finds out his firm has been compromised by a thief and yet must stand trial as if he committed the crime. This book is currently in the query process and is being reviewed by an agent.

ABC: What do you do (when not writing) to support yourself?

John. W. Howell: As I mentioned, I am retired, and I have my pension and investments to keep me in the necessities. For support, I generally turn to a well-made margarita or an IPA since I very seldom am not writing.

ABC: Which of your books was the most fun to write and why?

John. W. Howell: Circumstances of Childhood was the most fun for me. I’m not sure if it is because I think I know more now than I did when I started the first or if I am less concerned about making mistakes. I do know that I wrote this book exactly as I wanted to write it. The characters were developed on my terms, and the story flowed more from the character development than story construction. The freedom I experience was such that I almost don’t really care if it ever gets published. Of course, it will but if not it was like taking a test drive in a Lamborghini. A real pleasure that not being able to afford the car will take away.

ABC: Here are some zanier and off-beat questions. What do you wear while you are writing?

John. W. Howell: Since I live on the Gulf of Mexico, I’m usually in a T-shirt and board shorts. I very seldom have shoes on my feet unless I need to go down to the beach. I also listen to music while I write and find IHeart radio to be a real pleasure since I don’t have to fool with playlists or CDs

ABC: Do you have a pet or pets?

John. W. Howell: We have two feral cats and two Boxer dogs. The cats were found fifteen years ago out in the wild and were brought into our house when they were four weeks old. They don’t know they are feral and are as kind as they can be. One Boxer was rescued from the streets of San Antonio, and the other is from a litter in Port Aransas Texas. All four get along as if they were raised together. My wife and I do realize we are outnumbered.

ABC: What is your favorite snack food?

John. W. Howell: I’m afraid I am addicted to potato chips. I just love them in almost any form. My favorites are Cape Cod, and I am embarrassed to say I visited the plant when I lived back east. I could hardly wait for the free bag they give you at the end of the tour. I like my chips plain but can go with French onion dip once and a while.

ABC: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

John. W. Howell:My favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut and what really strikes me is his ability to blend humor and a sense of history into every story. He was able to capture the headlines of the day and turn a piece of fiction that was amazingly plausible in its creation. I was particularly taken with Jailbird, which had the Watergate break-in as a backstory. The main character went from being in prison for getting caught with a bunch of Watergate-related evidence to heading up a worldwide company that owned everything. The story is well crafted and to me at least represents some of Kurt’s finest work.

ABC: What are you reading now?

John. W. Howell: I am reading a fantasy book by Charles Yallowitz titled The Family of the Tri Rune. It is the fourth book in the series and although I’m not a fantasy fan I am totally enjoying each of his books. He writes a very plausible story that is well thought out and detailed. After the fourth book, I’m beginning to realize the series has a sophisticated continuity about it, and I am feeling more comfortable with understanding some of the conventions that come with the Fantasy Genre.

Angela: We are pleased to have with us John J. Cannon the leading character in the John J. Cannon Trilogy. I hope you are comfortable John. I will be asking you a few questions and want to thank you for being here.

John: My pleasure Angela. After what I have been through being with you is like a vacation.

Angela: I’m sure we’ll hear more about that but go ahead and tell the audience about yourself.

John: I’m a litigation attorney working for a law firm in San Francisco. About six months ago I decided to take some time off, so I asked for a leave from the firm. Up to then I’ve been working straight for the last ten years and haven’t taken any time for myself. In fact, I was quite surprised at how much money I had in the bank, and so I convinced myself to spend some of it on a beautiful boat. You see I have always wanted to be a charter captain and figured now was the time.

Angela: Tell us where and when and were you born.

John: I was born in 1977 in a small town in Indiana. The town is named Nashville and is in the heart of the tourist area. My parents still live there.

Angela: How would you describe yourself?

John: I think I would describe myself as a normal perso0n. I am a bit driven though and from the time I left high school and until this year I have kept a pretty stiff pace. There was college, Law school, and then the firm.

Angela: Tell us about where you grew up.

John: My hometown is small and during the summer it is packed with tourists. It is a very quaint town, and people come from all around to shop in the stores and look at the wonderful scenery. I worked in a few of the stores while in high school and during the summer in college. My friends, I have known since kindergarten, and most still live in town. We used to do all the normal stuff. We played football and baseball and when old enough we would hang out at the Dairy Queen. When I went away to college, I pretty much lost contact with them. I had hoped to go to our ten-year reunion but was busy with a case

Angela: Tell everyone what it is you do when you’re not working on a law case?

John: Up to six months ago I really didn’t do anything but work on law cases. When I bought my boat which I named My GRL I had every intention of staying in the small fishing village where I took up temporary housing for a year to get my captains license. I really didn’t know if I was ever going back to the law.

Angela: Are you serious with anyone?

John: Yes I have a special person who I have found. Her name is Stephanie Savard and in addition to being a terrific partner she is a combat pilot in the Air Force

Angela: Tell us about your worst fear.

John: Right now my worst fear is that the leader of a group of terrorists by the name of Matt Jacobs will elude being brought to justice. If not incarcerated he will carry out his plan to exact revenge on America. He holds America accountable for the injustices perpetrated on Palestine by the Western World for the last five hundred years. He is a dangerous man and a billionaire to boot. I hope he is reading this interview since I have sworn to help the authorities bring him to justice.

Angela: Wow, John. I had no idea you were involved with such dangerous people. I hope that all will be resolved, and you will be able to go for that charter license.

John: Thank you again for having me and I share your hope for normalcy

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Brain To Book Blog Tour Aug. 23rd Day 31/#1

OK, I am not seeing any post for the 23rd in my mail and Angela’s blog still refuses to speak to me. I’ve apologized to it numerous times (that usually works with my wife) even though I have no idea what I did wrong.

So, if there was a post or two from the 23rd, I’ll get you in at the end of the tour. Hopefully, the blog and I will have patched things up by then…

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Brain To Book Blog Tour Aug. 22nd Day 30/#3

Joshua Blum

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Fast Facts

Author: Joshua Blum
Genre: YA, NA, Fantasy
Books: The Thirteenth Hour from The Thirteenth Hour Series

Bio

Willa modeling bookA child of the 80s, Joshua Blum, like many other people, remembers wishing he had Marty McFly’s hoverboard from “Back to the Future 2″ to ride to and from school. For awhile, he wanted to be an American Indian hunter and spent many a misspent day making bows and arrows out of tree branches, ultimately leading to a love of archery which continues to this day. After entering that penal colony known as middle school, he decided that he ought to learn to defend himself, leading to the wide world of martial arts and lots and lots of push-ups, both of which he enjoys to this day.

All of these elements were inspirations for aspects of “The Thirteenth Hour,” which he wrote after finishing high school and edited little by little until the present day – in effect growing up with the characters. During this time, he was educated at Princeton and Penn State Universities. In total, he estimates having spent 23 years of his life in school (give or take). Despite that rap sheet, he still enjoys learning new things. He credits his mother for instilling in him a love of literature, music, and yard sales. He credits his father for teaching him to do, you know, manly things, like hit a baseball, ride a bike without falling over, and most importantly, never give up on the important things in life. He credits his younger brother for helping him stay young at heart.

He currently enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter. Although not surprising given the decade in which he grew up, he still enjoys breakdancing, though he will admit the bruises take longer to go away now that he can no longer consider himself a young adult. He hopes to forever avoid corporate middle management and is currently at work on a graphic novel for adolescents as well as a sequel to “The Thirteenth Hour.” He hopes it does not take sixteen years to finish.

Accomplishments

Finishing this book!

Blurb

BookCoverPreviewDo you remember those 1980s fantasy movies with the big hair and electronic synthesizer soundtracks – movies like The Neverending StoryLadyhawke, and Labyrinth?  If you can imagine those films in illustrated book form, you have some idea whatThe Thirteenth Hour is like.
It’s essentially a fairy tale aimed at adults, chronicling the adventures of a young man named Logan who grows up in an orphanage with his best friend, Aurora.  When Logan is eighteen, he’s drafted into the Imperial Army, where he is ultimately picked for a mysterious mission to find the elixir of eternal life for a petulant, immature, and thoroughly narcissistic ruler.  On the way, he is unexpectedly reunited with Aurora, and both characters have to reconcile adulthood with who they were as children.
One could classify the story as adventure or fantasy, though not a serious JRR Tolkien-style fantasy.  The book doesn’t take itself too seriously, though there are plenty of introspective, psychological parts where the characters grapple with balancing that difficult no-man’s land of feeling older than an adolescent but too young to classify oneself as an adult.
In some ways, the book grew up with me, since I wrote a very early draft of the book the summer after I finished high school.  I’d drawn from some of my favorite novels and (mostlty 80s) sci-fi and fantasy films as inspiration for the narrative and illustrated a number of black & white and color pictures to add visuals.  Although I’d written the story because it was the sort of thing I’d always wanted to read but never found, I never really intended to publish it.
So life went on – going to many years of school, working to pay the rent, getting married, changing diapers, etc.  But the story wouldn’t let me go, and I kept working on it, little by little, over the next sixteen years, reworking and editing the story and characters until I felt like they, too, had grown up.
If you’re interested, there are two short stories that serve as bookends to the novel that are available free on Smashwords that may serve to whet your appetite, available here:

Review

The Thirteenth Hour by Joshua Blum is one terrific book! This science fantasy has a detailed, creative, fast-paced adventure with a quest for immortality and well-considered musings on life. The tongue-in-cheek humor is just wonderful. Darien IV is a king mortally afraid of dying. His father was “the king of all things stingy, prejudiced, and cruel…and he lived long enough to instill some of these fine characteristics in his son.” The clever illustrations capture the essence of the story and add to the value of this book.

Logan is an orphan who joins the army when he’s 18. The social commentary is perfect. “I don’t think I was ever quite able to reconcile how a city full of people and possibilities could leave me feeling so grimy, dejected, and alone at the end of the day.” He’s inept and a misfit, younger than the other soldiers in his group, which made me root for him to succeed. Finally he begins to find his place. “I began to dance with the wind, sword in hand. I leaped and turned, kicked and swung, lunged and dove. The wind was my partner, and I was following her lead.” Aurora, another orphan, is his best friend. The quest is filled with deadly dangers and magical beings; the ending is as satisfying as a good dream remembered. Definitely worth reading, for all ages.” (from Amazon.com)

Book Excerpt:

In this section, the main character, Logan, has become lost in the King’s castle and finds himself in the women’s quarters by accident.  The society he now lives in is very conservative in terms of gender relations, and there are stiff penalties for breaches in conduct.  But nothing ventured, nothing gained, and it’s during this adventure that Logan finds something of a fabled treasure …

…I had to find a way out fast before one of the female guards found me and had me castrated or something.  Naturally, at that very moment, I heard footsteps.

So, I did what anyone would probably do when faced with such dire straits.  I panicked.  I started running around, trying to open all the doors.  They were all locked except for one, a janitor’s closet. I ran inside, closed the door, and waited for the guard to pass.  When the footsteps abated, I breathed again and turned the knob of the door.  It wouldn’t budge.  Great.  I tried it again.  And again and again and again.  Somehow, I had picked the one janitorial closet in probably the whole castle that locked.  It was pretty dark inside, and of course I didn’t have any matches to see if there was a latch or lever that could spring the door.  I felt my way around the doorframe.  Nothing.  I sank to the floor to think.  And then I saw it, and it all came rushing back.

 

* * * * * * * *

 

In order to understand what I was thinking, I must first digress.  There was a running rumor among all soldiers in training about a stash of treasure hidden somewhere in the castle.  Not the King’s treasure vault; no, this was different.  This treasure vault contained all the things that we soldiers wanted but couldn’t afford, since no one was paid until after all training had been completed.  Nobody was entirely sure what was in there, but there were plenty of speculations: gold coins and jewels, alcohol, tobacco, and dirty magazines, exotic weapons, fine clothes, and fancy preserved foods … the possibilities were endless. 

There was even a whole legend that had been built up around the rumor.  No one knew how much was true, but according to the story, long ago, when times were stricter, the King would send his soldiers out across his realm to make sure no one was selling or harboring any illegal substances.  If they found any, they were to confiscate them immediately and bring them back to the castle for inspection.  What constituted an “illegal substance” was a hotly contested point whenever the legend was told, but as the story goes, a few bored recruits decided to turn pirate, hijack the convoy carrying these contraband materials when it returned back to the castle, and then disseminate the goods among the rest of the soldiers.  Thus, they had the support of all the troops, who went out of their way to make sure the ringleaders had every spare moment free to plan the attack, their method of transporting the goods, and where they would hide everything.  On the night the convoy returned, they attacked.  The convoy guards were caught completely by surprise, and everything went as planned.  The stash was hidden, the location known only among the enlisted men, who had to swear upon the penalty of death to keep the location a secret. 

The raid had been so successful, in fact, that the next time the convoy returned, the recruits tried again.  They almost got away with it, but their luck ran out as they were carrying the last bit of contraband to their hide–out.  They were caught, a fight broke out, and one of the recruits was killed.  His name – Ian McCroff.  And ever since then, the stash was known as McCroff’s treasure.  No one involved would talk, and eventually, the matter was forgotten.  Over time, even the secret of the treasure’s location was forgotten.  But the story lived on, passed from one generation of soldier to another, all the way down to me.            

I was as curious as anyone else, but the whole thing had always sounded like a crock to me, something somebody had made up and spread around to see how far it would get, just to pass the time.  It was a nice idea – hidden treasure always was – and it put some mystery and hope back into our lives.  In that sense, it was a good thing.  But like a lot of other folks, I found it hard to take seriously.

Up until that moment, that is.  When I’d shut the door to the closet, another door to my back had popped open.  You had to squat down to see it, and when I sat down on the floor of the closet to think, it caught my eye.  By then, my eyes had adjusted to the dark, and I found that I was staring into a passageway.  A faint glimmer of light emerged from its depths, allowing me to just make out a little plaque someone had mounted on the inside of the doorframe.  “MCCROFF – WE REMEMBER,” it read.

Could it be?  I crawled in the direction of the light.  I eventually came to a fork in the path and chose the one that seemed brighter.  It was getting really hot in there, and though I couldn’t see too well, I felt all grimy, like I was covered in dust and dirt.  But I kept crawling, and finally, the air seemed to get cooler.  I found myself looking down into a large storeroom.  The faint glimmer of light I’d seen all the way at the other end of the tunnel was due to a small window near the ceiling that let in some light from outside.  It didn’t exactly make it bright inside, but I could make out stacks of boxes.  I lowered myself down from the tunnel opening onto a few of the boxes and stepped onto the cool floor of the storeroom.

I pushed the lid off one of the wooden boxes.  Inside, packed in hay, were several dark bottles.  I opened one up and sniffed it.  Wine.  I popped the lid on the next box.  More wine.  Then I peered around the room.  The boxes, some of which had blankets thrown over them, seemed to be grouped into piles.  Perhaps some kind of organizational system?  I ran to the pile across from me.  Those boxes were filled with little vials that contained powders that seemed like spices.  The next was forks and knives.  Was this just a storeroom for the castle kitchen?  My heart sank a little at the thought, but I ran to the next pile of boxes and was trying to pry the lid off when I heard the sound of a match striking.  The sound of hard heels against the stone floor reverberated off the walls.  I froze.

“Freeze!  You’ve seen enough,” came a female voice.  My heart sank even lower.

The guard carried a lantern and a spear.  She hung the lantern from a hook in the wall and walked towards me, spearpoint first.

“Where did you come from?” I asked forlornly.

“That’s none of your concern.  How long have you known about this?”

“About five minutes,” I said.

She studied me over.  “You used the closet entrance, didn’t you?”

“I … I guess,” I said.

“Yeah.  You’re filthy.  Alright, enough gaping.  Get down from there.”

In trying to avoid the spear she had poked in my side, I sidestepped and slipped on a dusty blanket.  Flailing my arms to regain balance, I fell right on top of the next pile of boxes.  The boxes and I hit the floor with a crash.  I landed on my side, but something soft kind of eased my fall.

“You clumsy idiot!  Look what you’ve done!” the guard shouted.

I was going to say something when I realized what I was lying on top of.  A pretty woman’s picture stared right back at me. And another and another.  A broken box lay near my head, and from it spilled volumes and volumes of old, yellowed magazines.

“Whoa,” I think I said, as my virgin eyes, suddenly less so, stared in a mixture of confusion, curiosity, revulsion, and admiration at my latest find.  Maybe this really was McCroff’s treasure after all …

“Hey!  Quit stalling!  Get up!” yelled the guard.  She walked over with a lantern and peered down at me.  She gasped.

“Hey!  Gimme those!  They’re mine!” she yelled and kicked me off the pile of magazines.  She carefully picked them up, one by one uncreasing bent pages, and stacked them neatly back into the somewhat injured box.  “Nosy good–for–nothing–grumble–grumble–grumble …” was all she said as she worked.  I couldn’t help but shake my head in amused bewilderment.

“Umm … sorry I busted the box,” I said.  “All those are yours?”

The guard glared at me, then in a flash, drew her dagger and grabbed me by the throat.

“You tell one person what you found here today, and I will personally hunt you down, cut your balls off, and toss them in the moat.  Do you understand?”

“Gurrghhh …”

She loosened her grip a little.

I panted for air.  “Alright, I won’t tell anyone about your dirty magazines, okay?”

“No, no, I mean this whole place!”

“You mean … this really is McCroff’s treasure?”

“Yes, you idiot!  Didn’t you see the sign?  Or can’t you read?”

“Well, yeah, I saw the sign … but all I found was some wine and some cooking stuff.  Well, and that your porn collection … how come you keep it locked in here?  Kind of inconvenient to get to, isn’t it?” I couldn’t help blurting out.

Her grip tightened again.

“Okay, okay, I promise not to tell.”

She let go and eventually succeeded in clamping my hands behind my back with heavy chains despite my struggling.

“Jeeze, take it easy.  How come you get all this stuff, and no one else does?  In the story, this junk was for everyone!” I protested as she led me out at spearpoint.

“Don’t believe everything you hear, kid.  Like you said, that was just a story.”

“Where are we going?”

“You’ll see.  Or rather, you won’t.”

A sack was tossed over my head, and all the guard could hear were my muffled protests.  I kept stumbling ahead blindly, lead only by the point of the guard’s spear and her gruff commands.  At one point it became light, and we kept walking awhile before I was ordered to stop.  I felt myself being pushed down and stumbled onto a pile of hay.  The sack was removed from my head.

“Open your eyes.  I have too much to lose by killing you,” said the guard.  “An investigation is the last thing we need right now.  But I need to be sure you’re not going to talk.  That ‘treasure,’ as you put it, is the only thing worth keeping in this castle, as far as we’re concerned, and its secret stays with us.  It’s been safe for hundreds of years – as long as we’ve been around, and it’s going to stay that way.  That entrance you found – it won’t be there tomorrow.  The one I led you out of – that won’t, either.  As far as you’re concerned, it won’t exist.  Gone, vanished,” she said, with a snap of her fingers.  She paused.  “So, what did you really see?  The truth this time.”

I looked around.  We were standing in the royal stables, near the back.  I could see daylight ahead.  I could make a run for it.  I looked at the guard.  She’d whipped out the dagger again and was flipping it around in her hand.

The dagger was at my side in an instant.  “Just because I said I wouldn’t kill you doesn’t mean I can’t make the next few minutes very, very uncomfortable.  Are we clear?”  The dagger moved down and hovered at my groin.

Oh, boy.  What a day.  “I told you already.  Just the kitchen stuff.  The magazines.  Honest.  That’s all I got to see.”

The guard paused and considered this for a moment.  Then she straightened up, taking the dagger with her. 

“Oh.  Well, then it’s nothing to you.  Just another overblown rumor.  You know what the penalty is for being caught in female quarters?”

I nodded.

“Say anything about any of this, and you get that and worse.  Now look up at the watch tower.  Wait till the guard isn’t looking, then hightail it to the wall.  She can’t see you there.  Then go back to your camp.  If all goes well, no problems for either of us.  I don’t wanna explain this to my commanding officer.  Or it won’t be just your body parts in the moat.  Now go on, run, get out of here!”

  

* * * * * * * *

 

That night, after dinner, I was walking back to the barracks when a hand reached out from the shadows and yanked me into an alley.

The now familiar face of the female guard that had caught me that morning greeted me.

Oh, boy.  Not her again.

“I didn’t say …”

She pressed a strong, gloved hand over my mouth.  I looked up into the shadowy face of the guard, which spoke of tension and worry.

“Don’t worry, kid.  Your nuts are safe.  But it’s trouble.  On my end.  Someone overheard us in the stables.  One of us.  Word got around.”  The guard sighed.  “Let’s just say that things within the female guard aren’t as rosy as I made them out to be.”  She uncovered her hand and let me go.

“What does this …”

“Have to do with you?  Simple.  The word’s out now that you were seen in the female quarters.  Nothing official.  Just a rumor.  Figured I’d let you know.”

I sighed.  “I guess it’s just been one of those days.  Hey, what’s so bad about being caught in the female quarters anyway?”

“Ah, you’re not from around here, kid, you wouldn’t understand.”

“You know, where I grew up, boys and girls lived together in the same room for years, and it was never any big deal,” I said, shaking my head.

“Really?  I didn’t know there were places in the world like that.  Never would have guessed!   Good for you.  All men could take a lesson from you.”

“Well … I doubt that very much.”

“Ahh, modesty.”

“No … it’s not that,” I said.  “I mean, there were always plenty of girls around when I was growing up.  And sure, there were plenty of people fooling around, but … I never really did.”

The guard laughed at first, then did a double take.  “Wait, you’re joking, right?”

“No.”

“Why?”

I shrugged.

“Maybe you prefer men?”

“No, I like women.”

“So, you mean you never had a sweetheart?”

“No.”

“Didn’t you ever want one?”

“Sometimes.”

“Then why didn’t you get one?”

I thought about it awhile then shrugged again.  “I dunno.”  When she continued staring at me, I blurted out, “I was busy with … other things, I guess.” 

“Geeze, kid.”  The guard stared at me curiously then said, “Well, at least you’re honest about it.  Most men think they know more about women than they really do and end up looking like jackasses.”

“Yeah.  Well, thanks for the compliment,” I said, not without bitterness.

“Ha!  You’re still pretty pathetic, but hey, you’re just a kid.”

I shrugged.

“But seriously, what a shame,” she said.  She actually sounded like she felt sorry for me, which was probably the last thing I needed.  “All those opportunities you might’ve had when you were growing up – all gone, never to be had again.  And goodness knows you won’t learn much in this dump.  Aren’t you at all curious?” she asked incredulously.

“Yeah, I guess.  But why are we talking about this?”

“Hey, it’s none of my business, but I’m just looking out for you, kid.  What would your mama say if she knew you were out here all alone with no one to look after you?”

“My mama’s dead … but … thanks, I guess, maybe she would’ve appreciated it.”

The guard’s face softened a little, and she said, “I’m sorry, kid.  Well, your dad then.”

“No, I’m an orphan.”

“Geeze, kid, you’re full of great news.  Don’t you have anyone?”

“Well … I have this one friend.  Far away.”

“Do you pray?”

“No.”

“Well, maybe it’s time to start.  Though I can’t say I blame you.  You got dealt a lousy hand.”

“Are you religious?” 

She snorted.  “Me?  Are you kidding?  Gave that up a long time ago.  But still … at one time, it was … nice to have something to believe in.  Anyway, the world’s a strange place.  You grow up with girls, and that’s not what you think about.   Here, men and women live separately all their single lives, but that’s all they can think about, know what I mean?  You’ll see.  Things are different here.  You may have it tough for a few days.”

“Maybe it’ll just blow over.”

“Well, hopefully it will.  You know, I was watching you.  You didn’t talk.  To be honest, I was surprised.  Is it just today?  You didn’t seem to talk much to anybody.”

I shrugged.  “They’re older.  I dunno what to talk to them about.”

“Well … we all gotta have a few friends.  It’s tough to go through life all by yourself.  That’s all I’m saying.  Anyway, I gotta go.  Sorry, kid.  I never meant for all this to happen.  Just thought it would be a stand–up thing to do if told you first.”

“Thanks.  I appreciate the risk you’re taking.”

“Forget it.  Here, I brought something for you.  For not talking.   Entertainment for most soldiers, but, in your case, I’d lean more towards education.”  The guard held out something for me to take.

I laughed when I looked at what it was.  It was one of her prized adult magazines from the treasure trove.

“But it’s one of your magazines,” I said, laughing.

“No big deal.  I’ve got doubles of this issue.  Besides, what are you, eighteen, nineteen?  If I knew then what I knew now … believe me, if your folks were alive, they’d thank me.  All I’m saying is that you need to get with the program.  You’re not exactly in a profession that comes with a pension, you know?   You’ll be lucky if you make it to thirty.  You gotta get out there.  In a way, you guys have it lucky.  We become women whether we’re ready for it or not.  But you guys … well, it’s never too late to learn to become a man, you know?”

I nodded even though I didn’t really understand.

“And while you’re at it, sow your oats.  You might not be around to do it tomorrow.”

“What, have kids, you mean?”

“Why not, I got three, how many you got?”

“Well, none, I …”

“Hey, you gotta grow up some time, kid.  Might as well start today.  Just take the magazine.  Read it, look at the pictures.  The drawings in that one aren’t the best, but maybe you’ll get some ideas.  Hey, it worked for me.  Anyway, I gotta scram and get the kids in bed.  Later.”

Then she winked at me, and just like that, she was gone, leaving me standing alone in that dark alley.  I stood there in shock for a minute before realizing that the magazine was still cradled in my trembling hands.  I looked down at the cover.  For a moment, society’s voice chirped in, and I felt like throwing it out.  But curiosity got the better of me.  What did “society” (whatever that was) know anyway?  The hell with them.  This was part of McCroff’s treasure, and how many soldiers could lay claim to even a little part of that?  Besides, it was probably more educational than anything else around here.  I stuffed my hard–earned treasure in my pocket and walked out of the alley.

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Brain To Book Blog Tour Aug. 22nd Day 30/#2

Elizabeth Davies

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Brain to Books Blog Tour

Fast Fact

Author: Elizabeth Davies

Genre: Paranormal romance

Books:

State of Grace from the Resurrection Series

Amazing Grace

Sanctifying Grace

The Spirit Guide

The Medium Path

Official Site

Bio

ElizabethDaviesPhotoElizabeth Davies was born and raised in South Wales more years ago than she cares to remember. She lived in England for nearly two decades but returned to her roots when she felt the mountains of her youth calling to her, and hiking in her beloved Brecon Beacons is now one of the joys in her life. When she is not working as a full time secretary, Elizabeth loves spending time with her family, hates doing necessary chores, and tries to fit in writing whenever she can. She has published several books: the Resurrection trilogy, beginning with “State of Grace”, continuing with “Amazing Grace”, and ending with “Sanctifying Grace”, “The Spirit Guide and most recently – The Medium Path. She is currently working on another paranormal romance set in Wales. 
She is also seriously addicted to chocolate.

Blurb

Cover - State of Grace.Grace has a terminal brain tumour and will die in the next few months. Roman has an addiction to blood, and could possibly live forever. 
Grace is twenty-seven years old. When they meet in the twelfth century Roman is several hundred years old.
And Grace has another problem – she’s from his future and neither of them believe it.

Interview with Elizabeth

  1. Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?

Like nearly every author I read a lot. I devour books like a child eats sweets. But I didn’t even consider writing until I read Twilight. I enjoyed the series, I wanted my own vampire. So I made one up.

I work full time and have a family, so I fit in writing when I can.

  1. Is this your first book?

State of Grace was my first book, and I have written another four, with two more in the pipeline and more ideas that I can handle. I think I’ll be busy for a while!

  1. What genre do you enjoy writing the most and what is this book about?

I’ve only published paranormal romances, but I have plans for novels that are more general women’s fiction.

State of Grace is about a woman with a terminal brain tumour who is unpredictably projected into the past, where she discovers vampires do exist.

  1. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

Grace is the name of the protagonist, and she was in a bit of a state – so it seemed apt.

  1. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

I did the cover – and not particularly well. Having no money to spend on a cover designer, and not being able to source a pre-made that effectively linked the three books, I decided to have a go myself.

  1. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

That’s a hard one to answer. I actually have no idea.

 

  1. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
    I’m not sure that I do consider myself a writer. I don’t make a living out of it, and I suppose I still think of myself as dabbling. I’m quite shy about it, and most people who know me personally don’t know that I’m an author.
  1. What does your writing process look like?
    I start off with a premise, a beginning and an end (and often a title), with no idea how I get from one to the other. I’m definitely a punster. I have tried plotting but the minute I start typing the plot goes out of the window and the characters decide what’s going to happen for themselves. I write early in the morning before I go to work when I’ve got the house to myself, and I sit curled in an armchair with my pjs on and a laptop balanced on my knee – I don’t think I’d know what to do if I had an office…
  1. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Doing exactly the same thing but hopefully be better at it. I don’t envisage earning enough to be able to give up my job, so I’ll still be fitting the writing in when I can.

  1. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors??

Keep writing, and don’t spend so much time marketing and promoting that all your energy goes into that and not your writing.

  1. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

Yes I do, read them, though not as much obsessively as I used to. I will go weeks or even months now without looking at how State of Grace, my first novel, is doing. I do check far more often with my latest book, though.

Less than favourable reviews are heartbreaking, especially when you think they may be unjustified. But as an author you have to let them go and I never respond to a review unless I’ve specifically asked that reader to review my book. Then I thank them for their time regardless of the review they write – it’s only polite, and it’s not their fault if they didn’t like my work.

 

  1. What is the most difficult thing about being an author?

Apart from the bad reviews??

Seriously, I find promoting and marketing to be the hardest and least favourite part of being an author. Sometimes I’m tempted to not do it, and just concentrate on writing, but I know I can’t do that!

  1. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

The best thing they can do is to leave review, and if they have a blog or are on Twitter, then they can mention it, and help spread the word.

 

  1. How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking of suitable names for the main characters. But reactions to names are very subjective, and what I might think reflects the essence of a character other people may have a different reaction. I don’t research the meaning, necessarily, though I might look it up later, just out of curiosity. Also many of my characters are people who really lived, and I’m stuck with their names. For instance, in my current manuscript, which features Joan, daughter of King John, there is a woman called Clemence, who is Joan’s mother. Someone did say this is a man’s name – which it is – but that was her real name, so I’m not going to take it away from her.

15 What is your best marketing tip?

I found I’ve had the best response from book recommendation sites, rather than Facebook or Twitter, but there are still many things I haven’t tried yet to generate interest in my work, so marketing is an on-going process.
16   What are you working on now? 

Another paranormal romance set in 13th century Britain. I do love history! It’s about a witch’s familiar, and hopefully isn’t as cutesy as it sounds. I’m aiming to publish in time for Hallowe’en.

 

17 What can we expect from you in the future?

I’ve got another paranormal romance or two up my sleeve, and I also have a few ideas for general woman’s

Interview with Grace:

You’re an intelligent woman – how come you didn’t realise straight away Roman is a vampire?

Seriously, would you? What’s reasonable in fiction, isn’t so reasonable in real life. If you read an article in a newspaper saying that some guy drinks blood, etc, your first thought would be that this guy is a nutter. Plus I was never into the supernatural stuff. I preferred science fiction, so my first instinct was to blame it on the tumour. Science. Fact. Not made-up stuff.

Yeah, about that. How did you feel when you were diagnosed?

At the time my diagnosis was more unreal than the vampire situation. It still is. I’m twenty-seven, for goodness sake! I can’t possibly be dying. And I feel so well – apart from the headaches.

Have you made any plans – you know, um, for the end?

Yes. No. Sort of. I’m selling the flat in London, tying up all the loose ends. I suppose I should be thankful I’ve got the time to do that, and the time to say goodbye to my family.

How are they dealing with it?

Not well, but I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. Hell – I’m not sure I believe it either! Sometimes Roman is more real to me than my tumour. I don’t want to talk about my family, it upsets me too much.

Okay, I understand. Tell me about Roman. What’s he like? Deep down.

He’s a vampire. That’s what he’s like. He’s not human – not really. Vampires are complex creatures, much more than the media usually gives them credit for. Yes, they are driven by their need for blood, but that’s only the same as the way humans are driven by their need for air and food. They don’t just lie around waiting for their next meal, the same way people don’t. They have lives to live – unimaginable lives.

What did you think when you first saw him?

That I was dreaming. For a long time I thought it was all in my head. I still do, if I’m honest. I know things I shouldn’t know, but I compare this to people waking from comas and being able to speak a foreign language. Things like that happen, right? So perhaps it’s happening to me. That’s a far more believable story than time-travel and vampires.

Well, when you put it like that…

Of course I’m putting it down to the havoc the tumour is wreaking in my brain. God knows what nerves it’s pressing on, and what electrical impulses it’s disrupting.

 

I’ve been wanting to ask you – what’s with the naked thing?

Arrrg, I was hoping you wouldn’t bring that up. I have no idea. It must be a subliminal fear of appearing naked in public, or something. It’s really annoying. I’m never naked in any other dreams.

Doesn’t that tell you there might be more to this whole situation? And there’s the fact that if you are injured in the past you bring that injury with you to the present day.

I can’t answer that. Psychosomatic, maybe? Like stigmata? The brain is a complex organ and science knows only a fraction of what it is capable of.

You made some, shall we say, reckless decisions whist at the castle.

I’m dreaming. It’s not real. How can they be reckless?

You came back injured. I’d call that reckless.

Okay – you dream you’re killing your mother-in-law. Do you honestly believe your dream is going to follow you when you wake up? No, of course you don’t. I didn’t either. I didn’t think anything was REAL. So it didn’t matter what I did when I was dreaming.

Yet the first couple of times you time-travelled you brought back injuries…?

Yes, I did. And I can’t explain them, and I tried to pretend they weren’t there. I was in denial.

It seems you may still be in denial.

Perhaps I am. I think if this was happening to you, you wouldn’t believe it either.

You’re probably right… Do you think it’ll happen again?

Who knows, but I hope so…

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Brain To Books Blog Tour Aug. 22nd Day 30/#1

Jason Greensides

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Brain to Books Blog Tour

Fast Fact

Author: Jason Greensides

Genre: Contemporary

Books: The Distant Sound of Violence

Official Site

Bio

Jason GreensidesJason Greensides has a degree in Video Production and Film Studies and has made several short films, two of which have been broadcast on television – but writing fiction is his real passion.

He’s interested in ‘outsider’ types, those operating on the fringes of society. This inspired him to write his first novel The Distant Sound of Violence. It’s about a group of kids, one in particular, Nathan Dawes, whose philosophical obsessions and criminal connections have all but made him an outcast at school.

Jason is now working on his second novel, another coming-of-age mystery, but on coffee breaks he blogs and tweets about the mysteries of writing and throws in the occasional book review.

Book blurb for The Distant Sound of Violence:

Do we ever escape the decisions we make when we’re fifteen?

finiNathan Dawes, the loser from school, an outsider, street philosopher and member of The Grove Runners gang, needs Ryan’s help to get Stephanie to fall for him. When Ryan’s lawnmower is stolen, Nathan sees this as his chance to enlist Ryan in his plan.

Although Ryan knows becoming friends with Nathan could lead to trouble, he reluctantly agrees to help.

Stephanie wants nothing to do with either of them. Besides, she’s more interested in the one guy in the world she really shouldn’t be.

As Nathan continues his pursuit of Stephanie, and Ryan becomes embroiled with The Grove Runners, soon events overtake them all, haunting their lives for years to come.

Part coming-of-age, part mystery story, The Distant Sound of Violence is a heart-breaking tale of bad decisions and love gone wrong. It’s about the choices we make that lead to violence, loss and tragedy.

A Video review by Author D.M Cain for The Distant Sound of Violence

An Amazon Review For The Distant Sound of Violence

A Great, Fast-Paced and Gripping Coming-of-age Tale ★★★★★

 Hooking you from the opening pages with its vivid characters and pacey narrative, this is a gripping tale of coming of age in early 90’s West London.
The story centers on fifteen year old orphan Ryan, an average kid trying to keep his head down until exams, while at the same time keeping his girlfriend and the conservative-minded aunt he lives with happy. His life is thrown off kilter, however, when he is hesitantly drawn into a friendship with Nathan Dawes, a fellow pupil whose oddball mentality, criminal connections and philosophical obsessions have made him a social pariah to anyone but the gang of petty crooks he consorts with.
Narrated by Ryan, with the wisdom of hindsight as he looks back on events spiralling beyond his control, it is easy to see how he becomes so easily pulled into Nathan’s circle; he’s a vibrant character with a hapless, lost charm that is as compelling to the reader as it is to Ryan. Nathan is in love with Stephanie, a girl far outside of his league, and he believes Ryan’s help is the only thing that can help him win her over and attain him the life he dreams of. Nathan’s longing is poignantly described and his earnestness and helplessness in this area resolves Ryan to his cause and us along with him.
The spectre of determinism looms over events as the characters navigate the trials of adolescence and Ryan and Nathan find themselves dealing with a heart-wrenching mystery that will haunt them into a no less turbulent adulthood.
A powerful sense of place and a sharp, nostalgic feel for time pervade the novel, and the supporting cast of characters are richly drawn – Stephanie in particular, who might have been a canvas upon which to project Nathan’s desires, is depicted with a depth and feeling that makes her at times the most relatable character. Her growth and the development of her relationship with Nathan provides another, moving aspect to an engaging, exciting and thought provoking read that I’d strongly recommend.

Excerpt from Chapter Two

 

I was late for school the next day because I couldn’t get out of bed at the thought of seeing Karen. When I did finally arrive for the first lesson of the day – maths – I was greeted by Nathan’s ridiculous grin. I immediately saw what he was smiling at: the seat next to his was the only one free. I scanned the class, searching for another chair, but they were all taken. So, nodding at Peter, who was still angry with me for missing football practice, and ignoring Karen and the raised eyebrows of Mr Harrington, I slumped into the seat next to Nathan’s.

As soon as Mr Harrington’s sweaty back was turned, I pulled out my note pad, ripped out a sheet of paper and scribbled, what happened after i left?

Nathan activated the red nib of his four-coloured pen and wrote back in capitals (he had this really annoying way of writing all his notes to me in capitals): MISSION ABORTED.

karen dumped me last night because she found out i was with you. she hates you, I wrote, tossing the paper back at him.

But as soon as Nathan began reading the note, I regretted what I’d written. I didn’t think he’d care either way, but his shoulders sagged down, he unhooked his left foot from his right knee and placed it back on the floor, began to rub his fat lower lip with his thumb, then gently folded up the note and stared down into his textbook.

This last act must have been particularly painful for him because he hated maths. The shape of the E Mr Harrington awarded him on every piece of homework reminded him of a rake slowly scrapping off precious cells from his brain; and when you turned the E ninety degrees clockwise, he would tell me, manically flapping his arms about, what did you get? M: M for maths. The ‘therefore’ symbol, that small triangle of dots, was like the laser targeting system the Predator used to hone in on his victims before he skinned them and ripped off their skulls. The square root symbol was like the meat hook from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; the pie sign like the wire speculum used to force Alex’s eyes open as they tortured him in A Clockwork Orange. So to bury his head in his textbook must have meant my note had hurt him.

(Although, I still wonder whether he was less concerned with his role in my break-up with Karen and more the fact of being hated by a girl, any girl, feeding into his insecurities about never having had a girlfriend and his hopeless relationship with the opposite sex in general.)

Shifting my gaze towards the back of Karen’s head, my thoughts pulled back to last night’s devastating phone call, I ripped out a fresh piece of paper from my note pad, began to write a letter asking her for a second chance, then changed my mind and screwed it up.

But the sound of the paper being crumpled cut through the silence of the class, drawing all heads in our direction and all eyes onto Nathan, the pupil everyone thought most likely to have caused the noise.

Mr Harrington strolled over to our table, inserted his hand into Nathan’s closed fist and extracted our note. He uncurled it and read it, his eyes flitting over our written crap. With a disappointed sigh, he finally placed the note back into Nathan’s hand, pointed at the two of us then over to the door.

Nathan closed his eyes and slowly shook his head, not in anger or outrage at some injustice he’d just suffered, but rather at the inevitability of the situation, as if the concept of determinism had finally been proven right.

I sank back into my seat, cringing at the disappointed looks I was getting from Karen and Peter.

‘Can’t we just discuss this?’ Nathan said.

I stood up.

‘Sure,’ Mr Harrington said, ‘come back here at three forty-five and we can discuss it in depth. But for now, could you and Ryan please leave the room.’

Nathan flushed, and for an instant he looked distraught. For the first time ever he actually seemed gutted about getting detention.   ‘Can’t we do this another day? I was going to get Ryan’s lawnmower back.’

Mr Harrington seemed confused by his remark, as if it were inconceivable that Nathan might have something to do after school that he actually cared about. ‘Well, you should have thought about that before you started sending notes. Now, go report to Mr Whitehead.’ His expression turned sour, daring Nathan to say another word.

For a moment it looked like Nathan was about to speak again. Instead, he stuffed his books into his rucksack and stood up. My legs buckled as we trudged through the desks towards the door, and I was way too embarrassed to look in either Peter or Karen’s direction.

Closing the door behind us, Nathan said, ‘I’m sorry about you and Karen, but she probably wasn’t right for you anyway.’

‘What would you know?’ I said a little too loudly, my voice echoing down the deserted corridor.

‘Probably not much. But before we go to Whitehead’s office, let me show you something.’

‘Uh, no.’

‘It won’t take long – we’re just going to the science department.’

‘Fuck off,’ I replied, quickening my pace. ‘I’m not getting chucked out of school for your bullshit. Fuck that.’ The thought of my aunt squinting at an expulsion letter made me feel sick.

Nathan caught up and walked along with me. His eyes now had a pathetic, pleading look in them, and he was breathless, his hands all jittery. ‘Just let me show you this one thing,’ he went on. ‘Tonight I’ll get your lawnmower back and you won’t have to hang around with me again.’ His eyes widened in hope.

This made me pause; it certainly didn’t sound like he was asking me to join him in the toilets for a crafty fag. Then I remembered where we were going – Whitehead’s office – and that I didn’t really want to go there either. Hearing the fight gone out of my voice, all I could think to say was, ‘That’s what you said yesterday.’

‘Yeah, I know, but this is important, if not the most important thing.’

‘OK, but I swear it had better be worth it.’

He didn’t give me the grin I had expected him to, instead, without another word, he took hold of my arm and marched us to the Science labs.

Standing to one side of the classroom door so that we couldn’t be seen, we peeked through the window at the class full of kids, stood over experiments involving petri dishes, Bunsen burners, glass tubes, and pipettes.

‘What I am supposed to be looking for?’ I said.

‘Over by the window near the cupboard, you see…?’

I pushed my face up against the glass and scanned the area he’d referred to.

‘Standing next to Taylor,’ he continued, trying to catch a peek over my shoulder. ‘You see her?’

‘Yes,’ I sighed, ‘I see her.’

Stephanie Redding was a high-achieving student who’d joined our school at the end of last term. She hadn’t made much of an impression on the boys, as she wasn’t one of the prettiest girls in our year. She was almost too thin for her height, with a chin a little too elongated, so at first glance I couldn’t understand why she got Nathan so excited. But as I continued to look, Nathan’s cinnamon breath hot in my ear, I could see that she had a head of rich dark brown hair, which, in the light from the window, gave it a radiant, velvety sheen, luscious hazel eyes, a pretty nose and clear white skin. But the thing that struck me most was that when she laughed you could see her front teeth were slightly angled inward, an unusual trait which made her look (and I know this makes no sense) exotic, European-looking. French.   I finally turned away from the door, moved out of sight and leaned against the wall.

Nathan didn’t have a chance.

‘That,’ he said, moving into the position I had just vacated, straightening the thin end of his tie dramatically, ‘is the girl I’m going to marry.’

 

Where to buy The Distant Sound of Violence

Amazon (on sale $99 from Wed 19th-Sun 23rd August): mybook.to/TDSOV

Greensides’ Website and Social Media Links

Website: jasongreensides.com

Facebook: facebook.com/jasongreensidesauthor

Twitter: twitter.com/jasongreensides

Google Plus: plus.google.com/+JasonGreensides

Pinterest: pinterest.com/jasongreensides

Goodreads: goodreads.com/Jason_greensides

Amazon page: amazon.co.uk/Jason-Greensides

(The Distant Sound of Violence on sale $99 from Wed 19th – Sun 23rd August)

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