#BookReview Nirvana by J.R. Stewart (Blue Moon Publishers ‏@BlueMoonPbh) Two versions and two reviews

Nirvana by J. R. Stewart
Nirvana by J. R. Stewart

Title:   Nirvana
Author:   J.R. Stewart
ISBN:  0993639763

ISBN13:  978-0993639760
ASIN:  B014LLM1XW
Published:  10th November 2015
Pages:  201
Genre:  YA/Science-Fiction/Dystopian/Romance

This review is a bit special but I wanted to share it with you precisely for that reason. I reviewed an early version of this book that was offered through Net Galley before its publication and I was later contacted by the publishers’ (Blue Moon Publishers) PR Department who asked me if I’d read and review the revised version. I decided to share both reviews with you because I felt I had learned from the experience, both as a reader and as a writer.

  • Early ARC version review.

Nirvana by J.R. Stewart. Virtual reality, bees, grief and politics

Thanks to the publishers (Blue Moon Publishers) and to Net Galley for the gift of an advance copy of this book. I have read that it is undergoing major revisions, so it might be that some of the issues mentioned are no longer there if you get the final edition.

Nirvana, despite the name, is a dystopian Young Adult novel. It is set in a future where bees have disappeared and nature as we know it has gone; there are a few places left where people live (the novel takes place in Canada, around Toronto, although there are hints throughout the book that the situation might be slightly different in other places), and the Hexagon (yes, I know) controls “security” (read intrudes in everybody’s privacy, destroys all books and keeps a tight hold on everybody’s activities, words and imagination). Larissa, a young woman whose husband (a very talented scientist) disappeared during a mysterious mission six months ago is not ready to accept his death and refuses to let go.

The novel mostly focuses on Larissa, although the third person point of view sometimes shares the thoughts of other characters, like the Corporal, Serge (a childhood friend of Larissa’s), the psychologist…but not consistently and sometimes it seems to hide things, and we also get letters, documents, etc. The time-line can be somewhat challenging at times as Larissa can flicker between memories (how she met Andrew, her husband, their time at university, some of her musical gigs, her childhood memories including some very dark ones) and things that are happening at the time of the action of the novel, when she is being pressurised by the authorities to sign a document acknowledging that Andrew is death. Although this is how our mind works, sometimes it’s not easy to tell the difference until you get to the next change in perspective. Perhaps a different type of letter or a break would make it easier. I also found the fact that many characters have similar names (all beginning with K, I’m not sure why) made me go back and forth to make sure.

The description of Larissa’s psychological state and emotions is accurate for somebody suffering from a grief reaction (even if in her case she has no real proof that her husband is dead). She feels guilty, angry, sad, confused and doubts constantly about what to do. Her family circumstances were already complicated and she does not know if her sister is alive or not and it’s not difficult to understand that she’d be reluctant to let go of the one bit of family she had left. We might lack outside perspective on her and know little about her previous personality so it’s difficult to get a full picture of the character but this will probably build over time.

I am not an expert in science-fiction but I know world-building can be one of the main strengths of these novels. After reading the author’s biography I understand why the parts that deal with virtual reality (the Bubble, that is where the crème of society live, in a fake world of their choosing, and Nirvana, that is the low-key version that workers might access, but in small doses) are very strong and mind-boggling, even scarily so. By contrast, the descriptions of the rest of the world are very succinct and only much later, when the point of view returns to some of the characters in positions of authority, we get to know a bit more about the world order, but this is more tell than show (although that is one of the difficulties with the genre, maintaining the balance between trying to make the story come alive whilst at the same time leaving something to the readers’ imagination).

The idea behind the politics of that world reminded me of 1984 (the level of intrusion into people’s lives is greater than even insiders realise), and the conspiracy theorists will “enjoy” the implications of some of the things uncovered and suggested towards the end of the novel. They throw an even darker light on the authorities and put into question loyalties and certainties. The comments about the interests behind big funding for scientific research and how those dictate the direction human progress takes made me pause and gave me cause for concern. (Having studied Medicine this is a thing we’re always aware of).

I found the brief discussions on physics and even music theory fascinating, but might not be to everybody’s taste, especially younger readers interested mainly in the characters.

I found the overall story engaging, although the surprise at the end was hinted at and most readers are likely to have guessed it by then, but it is a good twist and it leaves room for much more to come.

This is perhaps a novel that does not fit in comfortably within the YA category, but I think it’s a series worth keeping an eye on, as there are interesting plot lines, characters with plenty of hidden agendas and room for development, and a whole world (or worlds) that we’ve only glimpsed. And virtual reality as you haven’t seen it yet. Ah, and don’t forget to read the writer’s biography. It will make you very uneasy…

  • Published version

Nirvana by J. R. Stewart. Revised version and revised review. Still about bees, and virtual reality, less grief and politics.

Thanks to the publishers (Blue Moon Publishers) and Net Galley for providing me with a new copy of the revised version of the novel.

Let me explain why I’m reviewing this novel for the second time. Nirvana was gifted to reviewers in Net Galley and it garnered many reviews. I was one of the people who downloaded it and reviewed it over the late summer and published a review, aware that the book would not be published officially until later. The site offers you a chance to be kept informed or contacted by publishers with news about the authors and I said I’d be interested. I had a member of the PR department for the publishing company contact me and ask me if I’d be interest in reading the revised version. I was curious and they obliged and sent me the book.

It took me a while to get around to it but when I did I was surprised by how much it had changed. Rather than a revision it was a full rewrite. The story is about a dystopian future where the bees have died, and with them most of the plants and animals. The ‘Hexagon’ controls everybody’s lives, food and entertainment have become big businesses, and virtual reality is the only way people can experience life as it was, but this is also monitored, and very expensive. The really rich can live in a virtual reality paradise, called The Bubble, and there are several in different countries (although the story is set in Canada, near Toronto). Nirvana is the virtual reality system where the protagonist (Larissa Kenders) works and it has been created in its majority by her live-in boyfriend Andrew. Andrew disappears and the authorities tell Kenders he is dead. But he keeps appearing to her whilst she is in Nirvana, and although initially she thinks he is just a virtual reality creation, soon she realises that’s not the case. The rest of the book becomes her attempt at following the clues he gives her to retrieve something hidden but very important to the future of humanity whilst trying to remain alive. It’s difficult to know who she can trust and there are traps and conspiracies everywhere.

The novel now fits more neatly within the YA/NA dystopian genre. The story is told only from the point of view of the protagonist, Larissa Kenders, and in the first person present. It is told chronologically, and that avoids some of the confusion of the previous version. It also allows for a closer identification with the main character, and the reader gets to know more about her, about her activism and how her music was always socially conscious (even if she later realises things weren’t as she thought and she might have been playing into the hands of the big corporations). She is younger than in the previous book, although I wasn’t clear of the timeframe, as she’s supposed to be still 17, bus she has been engaged in campaigns in the past, is a famous singer, and has known Andrew, studied at university and visited many places with him before the Earth became practically a desert. It’s true though, that it falls with the genre’s convention that young protagonists seem to have lived several normal lives by the time we get to meet them.

It is easier to empathise with Kenders in this version and we also get to see more of her relationship with Andrew before he disappears. There are bad characters clearly delineated, some heroic ones (more so because doubts were cast upon them), and a more optimistic outlook. It ends with a big hook and the chase starts again, as it should in a series.

Sadly I missed what I had noted in my first review as perhaps not fitting in the genre. I liked the disquisitions about physics and musical theory that have not disappeared, and there is much less emphasis on the politics and funding of research (it is mentioned, but in passing). Perhaps the author will write, at some point, the book that according to her biographical note she had thought of writing, looking at the truth hidden behind the virtual reality industry and research. I’ll be waiting.

In summary, this is solid YA book, with romance, angst, chases, mystery, a strong, talented and intelligent female character, and an interesting world with a strong ecological theme and a warning. Look after the bees and the Earth before all you have left is just a holographic image and your memories.

 

 

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5
Made Me Think: 4.5/5
Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
 

Buy it at:  
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $12.99 http://www.amazon.com/Nirvana-J-R-Stewart/dp/0993639763/
Kindle: $3.98  http://www.amazon.com/Nirvana-Book-1-J-R-Stewart-ebook/dp/B014LLM1XW/

 

 Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

Thanks to Net Galley and Blue Moon Publishers for the two versions of the novel, thanks to you for reading and feel free to like, share, comment and CLICK

When You Pay to Publish the Royalties Are All Yours

There’s no shame in paying to have all the technical aspects of getting your book to publication done by others if you feel that you really don’t want to tackle these things, just as there’s no shame in paying for formatting and print runs of your book from publishing companies who do this if you can afford it. With new Indies arriving online all the time without knowledge of how these businesses work, it’s probably wise to post a reminder now and then of what to avoid with this. I was speaking to a blogger friend by email the other day, and he mentioned that he was considering one of these companies. Of course I zoomed right on over there and had a look. The first things that jumped out at me were “The cost to you will be….” and “We will pay you royalties……”.

There should only ever be two totally separate choices here. You either pay a publisher to print runs of your book, which you then sell, or they pay you for your book, which they then sell, as well as paying you future royalties. You must never, ever, never – seriously – never, ever pay to have anything at all done to your book as well as signing any contract involving copyright and royalties. It’s one or the other. I know that there is a lot online about these unashamed scammers who will charge you for everything from cover design to paying for copies of your own book – which you would then have to sell yourself anyway, all the while owning your copyright for years and paying you a small royalty percentage for any sales, but it’s clear that they’re still doing great business. If they do advertise it would really be minimal, and they load your books for sale on the very sites that you can load them up to yourself for not a cent. They set the book’s price – you have no say in this. This situation benefits only them, and never you.

It’s exciting when you’ve just finished your first book to let everyone know that you’ve been “signed” by a publisher, especially if said publisher appears to be large and impressive. Signing deals with these “publishers” is really not a good idea at all. They will take on all comers, regardless of talent anyway. It’s not the quality of your story they’re interested in – it’s the size of your bank balance. So take care if you’re about to go zooming out there with your first book, seeking a publisher. Google any of them that take your fancy, research properly, and look for anything that involves the kind of “deals” above, and if they are there, then run away sharply.

If you’re not sure, then ask. There are lots of seasoned published scribblers around on the internet, on their blogs and writer’s groups as well as on forums, both Indie and traditionally published. They’re generally a helpful bunch, so don’t be shy to seek their help rather than finding your copyright signed away and you getting royalties for the book that took you years to write, and which you have to pay your “publisher” to purchase from and sell yourself anyway.  Don’t hand your hard work over to these unscrupulous shysters.

Money

Book Launch – Tales from the Garden – Fairy Stories by Sally Cronin

Tales From the Garden small- Cover

Lit World Interviews is delighted to announce that Tales from the Garden, by Sally Cronin, is now available in Ebook versions with the print copies available shortly.

Sally and husband, David, will be leaving their house and garden at some point in the future and when they put the house on the market, Sally realised that it was not only the sunshine that she would miss. She already had many photographs taken over the last sixteen years and she decided to capture as many aspects of the garden as she could to take with them digitally at least.

As Sally photographed the statues, most far too heavy to take with them, it came to her that some of them had been there at least for 60 years and had seen many changes over that time. Also there was the mystery surrounding the missing dwarves? Just exactly where did they disappear to some nights; when the garden seems to be alive with excitement and you can hear the fluttering of many wings in the air?

Sally wrote the stories weekly on her blog but was so delighted by the response from those who read them, that this became her surprise book of the year. Those that were planned will be released in the New Year.

The Ebook is available now, and the print version will be available in the next week. Both are discounted on her publisher’s website, as there are no additional charges as on other online bookstores.

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About the book.

Fairy Stories for children of all ages, from five to ninety-five, that will change the way you look at your garden, forever….

With over 80 photos/illustrations, “Tales from the Garden” by Sally Cronin, reveals the secrets that are hidden beneath hedges and trees.

You will discover what really happens at night as you sleep unaware in your bed. Stone statues and those hidden worlds within the earth are about to share their stories.

The guardians who have kept the sanctuary safe for over fifty years will allow you to peek behind the scenes of this magical place. They will take you on a journey through time and expand your horizons as they transport you to the land of fairies, butterflies and lost souls who have found a home here.

Meet Queen Filigree of the Kingdom of Magia, The Last Emperor and The Lost Boy who live in the sanctuary on the Spanish mountain. Ten stories of adventure, magic and love.

 Book Trailer.

Find out more about Tales from the Garden and buy the Ebook in Mobi for Kindle Format and Epub at a special 50% discount via the website – £2.48. Print copies are discounted by 23% at £8.42. The photographs in the print copy are in black and white and will be available in the next week to ten days.

Secure payment through the Moyhill Publisher sitehttp://moyhill.com/tales

Or through Amazon at the recommended retail prices.

Amazon UKhttp://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0180Q6CKM

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0180Q6CKM

About Sally Cronin

DSC_0869 a

Sally Cronin spent a number of years in each of the following industries – Retail, Advertising and Telecommunications, Radio & Television; and has taken a great deal of inspiration from each.

She has written short stories and poetry since a very young age and contributed to media in the UK and Spain. In 1996 Sally began studying nutrition to inspire her to lose 150 lbs and her first book, Size Matters published in 2001, told the story of that journey back to health. This was followed by another seven books across a number of genres including health, humour and romance. These include Just Food For Health, Size Matters, Just an Odd Job Girl, Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story, Flights of Fancy anthology, Turning Back the Clock and Media Training.

For the last two years Smorgasbord Invitation has offered a legitimate excuse to write daily, meet amazing people from around the world and provide a platform to assist any artist, musician or writer to showcase their work.

Connect to Sally on social media.

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sallycronin1
https://twitter.com/sgc58
https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin
https://www.facebook.com/sallygeorginacronin
https://plus.google.com/+SallyCronin/about

Book launch

Any help that you can provide in promoting the book would be most welcome and you can contact Sally on sally.cronin@moyhill.com. She will be doing a series of guest posts on various aspects of the book. Behind the scene stories of the statues, parts of the garden etc. and will of course share any posts on your blog across by social media.

 

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#BookReview ‘Satin Island’ by Tom McCarthy. What do you read for?

Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
Satin Island by Tom McCarthy

Title:   Satin Island
Author:   Tom McCarthy
ISBN:  0307593959

ISBN13:  978-0307593955
ASIN:   B00PI0P0NE
Published:  12th March 2015
Pages:  210
Genre:  Literary Fiction

Body of review:

Thanks to Net Galley and to Jonathan Cape for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Honestly? I enjoyed the book. On the other hand, would I recommend it? Well, it depends.

The book is narrated in the first person by U., an anthropologist working for a global corporation, which at the beginning of the book has secured a project that will change everything. We never quite know what this project is, and it seems nobody else knows either. U.’s contribution to the project is celebrated, although he has no idea what that contribution might have been. His job also consists of creating a report. A report about everything. He’s at liberty to choose how to do it. But how would you go about it?

U. chats constantly about things that might appear unconnected, but his job —in so far as he knows what it is— seems to be to find connections. He talks about Lévi-Strauss and his thoughts about anthropology and tribes, he collects random data (about oil-spills, parachuting accidents, airports and places…), he goes to conferences and gives lectures he seems totally unprepared for, but his search for meaning is thwarted, and it’s difficult to know if it’s the world’s fault or his own. Perhaps, as he mentions, Lévi-Strauss was right, and eventually it all becomes reduced to either new tribes that get absorbed into the everyday and stop being weird, or tribes that are so weird they are completely meaningless and cannot be processed using our current methodology.

The book reminded me of many things, although I didn’t consciously try to find similarities or connections. Perhaps it’s a side effect of reading it. It did remind me of reading literary theory, in particular the French Theorists (Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida), and how much I liked them (although I was in a minority position in the American Literature class, I must admit). There are moments when the absurdity of everything made me think of works like Terry Gillian’s Brazil or some of Kafka’s or Orwell’s books (minus the pathos.) There were moments breathtakingly beautiful and poetic, usually found in something mundane. (Wonderful examples are the descriptions of the videos one of his colleagues’ shoots and later watches on a loop. But other things too: traffic, people skateboarding, dreams, even the Ferry to Staten Island…). And even moments where it seemed as if he’d found an explanation, a brilliant who-done-it that later comes to nothing, much as happens with his thoughts of rebelling and disturbing the set order. Flashes of genius in a pan.

Recently I read a very long book, stylistically interesting, trying to be about everything and for me too full of itself and failing. This is a book that possibly is about everything. Or about nothing (the difference might be only one of degree), and thankfully doesn’t take itself too seriously.

My opinion. Yes, I really loved this book. With regards to recommending it… Well, it has no plot, not much on the character side of things, it’s clever, it’s beautifully written, and it might make you think, although probably not reach many (if any) conclusions. So there you are. If with all that you want to read it, I hope you enjoy it. And if not, that’s all right too.

By the way, the book is nominated for the Man Booker Prize.

I checked over my notes and it seems I’ve highlighted a variety of things, but not sure any of them are very exemplary.

‘Me? Call me U.’ (wink to Melville, whom I love.)

In describing how his boss, Peyman, talks about the company:

‘If I had, he’d say, to sum up, in a word, what we (the Company, that is) essentially do, I’d choose not consultancy or design or urban planning, but fiction.’

‘Key to immortality: text messaging.’ At this point in the story, a friend of his had died, and he explains that he’d received a text message from his friend’s phone, sent by his estranged wife, to let him know he’d died. His friend had commented how one of the things that bothered him about dying (he was quite ill with cancer and knew his end was near) was that he wouldn’t be able to tell anybody about it. He felt mortified by the fact that when the most important thing that could ever happen to him, finally happened, he wouldn’t be able to tell anybody. U reflects that if one has a system to automatically send messages on one’s name, forever, (Tweets, blog posts, SMS, social media updates) that would be the equivalent of immortality…

 

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 3/5
Made Me Think: 5/5
Overall enjoyment: 5/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 4/4
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
 

Satin Island in paper
Satin Island in paper

Buy it at:  
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $11.25 

Kindle: $12.15 

Hardback: $13.20 

Audio: $22.35 

Thanks for reading! Remember to like, share, comment and CLICK!

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

 

Close Up on Murder by Linda Townsdin @ltownsdin. A #BookReview.

As always with any Book Review, these are one person’s opinions. That includes the great, the good, and the bad. This book was provided by the author for an honest review.

A Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist stuck in a vacation lake town without her man? Combine that with a deadline to leave town for an assignment and murder threats against her family and what do you get?

Close Up on Murder by Linda TownsdinClose Up on Murder by Linda Townsdin is the second in her Spirit Lake Mystery Series with her main character Britt Johansson, a magnet for trouble. She doesn’t go looking for it, it finds her, then she finds it back. Townsdin takes the cozy mystery genre feel of Lilian Jackson Braun and kicks it up to the next level with a touch of realism and a bit of 21st Century whacked out criminal elements. I do think I noticed a homage to Lilian Jackson Braun and her mythical Moose County in a restaurant of importance. I won’t tell you what it is so you can look for it.

For those of you who are fans of Jackson Braun, you will get the same development and connection with Townsdin’s characters but with a higher energy and more sense of urgency. There are dozens of writers out there trying to achieve this and Townsdin has done it.

Don’t get me wrong, the town of Spirit Lake is NOT Pickaxe City. Townsdin has created an edgier world reflecting the reality of today, influenced, I imagine, from her time spent as a writer and editor for a criminal justice consortium. Not only do you get a mystery of who murdered a gentle and kindly old neighbor, much beloved in the town, but you get the continued challenge of cat and mouse being played by the brutal murderer.

Britt Johansson is only the main character of the cast. But much like any series the supporting cast adds a lot. Her brother Little, yes he is little, and his restaurant business and life partner Lars, are the reality check and family Britt needs to keep her grounded and always coming back from her assignments in war and famine.

Sheriff Wilcox is the local law who spends all of his time and resources to protect Britt, her family, and the town while trying to keep the photojournalist from getting herself in hot water or worse.

The rest of the supporting cast is varied and needed to flesh out a close knit community. But Britt’s many supporting cast member is Ben Winter, a Forest Ranger along the US and Canadian border who spends most of his time hunting down and stopping anything from people attempting to make their way into the country to human trafficking. His work and Britt’s don’t combine for a traditional or easy relationship.

You will fly through this book. Not because of an ease of read so much as a need to read. You will want to know the who, what, and why. Will you be surprised? I don’t know. Linda Townsdin does a great job of giving you what you need to get the answers. Are they the obvious or is she being sneaky? You would think sneaky or I wouldn’t ask, right?

Recommendations

I would recommend this book to those who like that cozy mystery hometown community feel but want a dose of reality in the mystery itself taken from the headlines at times. How much do I recommend this book? I have to get the first one now.

Character Believability: 4.5
Flow and Pace: 4.5
Reader Engagement: 4.5
Reader Enrichment: 4
Reader Enjoyment: 4.5
Overall Rate: 4.4
 
Author: Linda TownsdinClose Up on Murder by Linda Townsdin
Title: Close Up on Murder
Print Length: 262 pages
Publication Date: June 1, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00YQ3UIKE
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
Price: $2.99/$12.52
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Linda Townsdin AuthorLinda Townsdin writes mysteries, short stories and poetic fiction. Published in 2014, Focused on Murder is the first book in her Spirit Lake Mystery series, inspired by her wonderful childhood in Northern Minnesota. Close Up on Murder is the second in the series. She lives in California with her husband. For much more information visit lindatownsdin.com. and follow her on Twitter .



Ronovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in December of 2015. He shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge, a  Weekly Fiction Prompt Challenge, and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

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Understand the Tools of your Trade

You’re unlikely to find gainful employment as a secretary if you can’t type. Any job of work that you want to do obviously requires some study and knowledge of what you’re going to be doing. Likewise if you’re self-employed, while you can call yourself anything at all, if you really want to do what you do as well as you can, you’d be wise to arm yourself with knowledge of your field, and also knowledge of the tools that you use to do your work. For scribblers one of your most important tools is your word processing software. If you’re an Indie publisher just knowing the very basics is not really good enough, unless you can afford to outsource formatting and all the rest. It’s a good idea to study up on what your word processor can and can’t do because either way knowledge can never be a bad thing, and it’s much more satisfying to know that you’re the captain of your own ship and unlikely to land up on the rocks.

In today’s world you can learn anything you like online. Just like being successful at school it depends how much work you’re prepared to put into it. There’s a lot of incorrect information online as well, so going in, the first thing to do is to check out the source of information. If you want to know more about Microsoft Word 2007, which is what I use and is the preferred software to use for publishing on Amazon, then head straight to the source. There is all you need to know about this software available from Microsoft themselves, as well as from respected and established gurus with visible and impressive credentials online for you to find, study, take piles of notes about, and become the ninja master of your main writing and publishing tool. Likewise for Scrivener, Mac, or any other system you use.

Two of the main problems that Indie authors have are typos and the final formatting of their books either to publish as eBooks on Amazon or paper books with CreateSpace. Typos will always weasel their way in – the little sods, but some of them can be avoided by knowing your way around your software, and using the tools available to you. Word is a powerful system with loads of functions that many scribblers don’t know about. The fact that the biggest piece of advice for formatting eBooks is not to use manual paragraph indents or tabs tells us that many Indies are using their word processing software as good old fashioned typewriters. We need to step up and stop flailing around doing that. I’m learning something new all the time, so I can indeed confirm to all of you that it really is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. It’s up to you whether or not you’re prepared to put the time in. Setting aside a few hours to watch or read tutorials isn’t going to hurt. It could feel tedious, or it could feel exciting – depends on your mindset going in, but you’re absolutely going to come out on the other side with more knowledge and confidence in doing the job you’ve chosen to do.

It’s worth taking some time to explore the power of whichever writing software that you have. For instance, in Word 2007, pop up to the Microsoft Icon in the top left corner and click on Word Options. There should be something similar in any software you use, so if it’s not immediately obvious, Google will be your friend here.

Word Options

Next click on Proofing.

Word Options 1

Now just have a squiz at the various automatic proofing options to choose from. For instance, Ignore Words That Contain Numbers comes automatically checked. As writers, why on Earth would we want to do that? Uncheck that puppy straight away.
Word Options 2
You’re not going to break anything by slowly going through your options here, and it will empower you as you scribble away. It’s comforting to know what you’re doing – even just a bit. Also take the time to explore all the tabs above. Watch tutorials if you don’t know what they all mean. It really is worth taking the time to get to know as much as you can about this particular tool of your trade. Use what’s available to you rather than floundering. Do you use the Find and Replace features up in the top right hand corner there? Another incredibly helpful tool in our quest to rid our works of typos and grammar gremlins particular to ourselves. Did you know that you can view two documents at the same time? Open up two documents, and then click on View Side By Side, and Bob’s your uncle – no need for endless click overs when reference material is needed.
Word Options SBS

Finally, the most common cause of pain in the writerly posterior when publishing on CreateSpace is getting the page numbering right. The very simple answer is getting rid of unseen formatting, particularly the Link To Previous commands within the header and footers before the start of the first chapter.
Word Options LTP
Simple as that. A tiny bit of formatting knowledge that will make your Indie road a lot less painful. Take the time fellow scribblers, to learn about the tools of your trade. Just as doctors, plumbers, and even telemarketers take the time to learn about theirs. If this is your career of choice, arm yourself with the knowledge you need to do it as well as you can.

LET LWI HELP YOU WIN!

14 days left of National Novel Writing Month. As a famous New Yorker that had some FRIENDS used to ask:

“How You Doin’?”

If you haven’t achieved your goal yet, then let LWI help you.

Win with L. W. I.

I’ll get that help out of the way first.

ASK TO JOIN OUR BRAND NEW TODAY FACEBOOK WRITERS GROUP:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/LitWorldInterviewsWritersGroup/

I will be there as often as I can to help you with:

  • Writing Sprints: Timed writing periods where you write as much as you can without editing or worrying about anything. Then you rest and we start again. I let rest happen or you tire out and give up.
  • Plot Needs: Do you need help with what a profession might do or a business practice is? I can help look it up quickly. I have even helped with what does a gun sound like to draw attention without it being fired or cocked or a bullet put in the chamber.
  • Encouragement: Sometimes you need someone to talk to. No, I won’t be there every moment, as I do have blogging and writing to do as well, but I will be there to do what I can.

I won’t tell you my word count but I’ll say this, you can’t base anything on the word count of someone else.

How can you get from where you are to 50,000 words?

I will tell you this, I hit 50,000 words in 8 days.  A lot of that came on a day on the weekend. That means you can do it in 14. Did I write every minute of the day? No. Did I write some of every hour? No.

I’ll repeat some of what I’ve advised before:

  • Don’t get bogged down in the details of what you are doing. Since this is a first draft and your goal is speed and word count, it isn’t about quality. In fact even if you were going for quality in a first draft, you would still end up doing at least drafts 2 and 3.

What does that mean?

  • WRITE!!!

Keep writing even if it doesn’t make sense. I wrote myself down paths I had no idea I was heading in and ended up using those directions to the story’s benefit.

  • LET THE CHARACTERS AND STORY WRITE THE STORY!!!

I’ll tell you one thing I did and still do, because I’m actually going through my novel and doing some detail work and research.

  • I like a certain show that has a lot of episodes on YouTube. So what I do is write for a while until I get a little tired and then I watch a YouTube episode. Then I return to writing.

Don’t want to get to that tired point?

  • Set a timer.  if your computer doesn’t have one then use one online.

http://onlineclock.net/

Do sprints using the alarm clock with or without friends. Sprints? Yes,  Do about 23 minutes and take 7 off, or you can do 26 minutes. You are thinking that is a lot of wasted time. Let me tell you something. If you do sprints where you take only 5 minute breaks your fingers are going to get so tired you will either end up having to quit OR you will be making so many mistakes you will get frustrated with your typing. I got to the point during sprints with a facebook group, which helped me get my word count, that my fingers didn’t want to move off of the keys to the other keys. It was awful.

I CAN ALSO POINT YOU TO OUR:

NaNoWriMo Support Category.

There you will find some NaNoWriMo Tips articles. One of which is:

5 WAYS TO MOVE AHEAD IN YOUR NOVEL.

Remember to ask to join the group and I’ll do what I can to help you win.

Much Respect

Ronovan



 

Ronovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in December of 2015. He shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

@RonovanWrites

© Copyright-All rights reserved by LitWorldInterviews.com 2015

#FREE JUST ADD WATER by @jinxschwartz A SASSY BOOK BY A SASSY AUTHOR!

FREE THROUGH NOVEMBER 18th!

This one doesn’t come up for free ever! Get it now. I got mine.

jinx_schwartz_just_add_water.jpg

HETTA COFFEY IS A SASSY TEXAN WITH A SNAZZY YACHT, AND SHE’S NOT AFRAID TO USE IT!
Just Add Water, winner of the National EPPIE Award for BEST MYSTERY.

The Need for Farsightedness

A Diary of Writing Wisdom (and other nonsense)

#FOUR

The Need for Farsightedness

Human beings are naturally shortsighted. The current opinions are the ones we see in front of us, the ones that are discussed in current magazines and on social media. It is natural to concentrate on current trends and hot topics. But there are two disadvantages in doing so. One is that we fail to learn from the past; the other is that we fail to look to the future.

Interestingly, these two forms of shortsightedness are connected, for one of the clearest lessons we learn from the past is that the “normal” of one generation is out-of-date in the next. In theory this is not hard to accept. At one time or another we have all read books/excerpts from articles written many centuries ago and smiled at the quaintness of the ideas and the language contained therein; and we realize that our own generation would be unique were it not for the fact that it will appear equally quaint in years to come.

I wonder, for instance, what our descendants will think of the Zombie Apocalypse theory or of stem-cell research. It is difficult for us to see it as future generations are likely to see it. Robert Burns once prayed for the gift to see ourselves as others see us. It would be an even greater gift to see ourselves as people in the 23rd Century will see us.

When it comes to writing, don’t be too shortsighted. Learn from your past. Don’t just let it lay dormant. Incorporate what you’ve learned from the past into your script of today. Believe it or not, this looking-back approach can help writer’s generate even greater power to look ahead. It can help writer’s ignore the temptation to write only about current trends and hot topics. It can even help writers become less shortsighted and more farsighted—nearby distractions become blurry while the ability to see distant goals and objectives become more and more clear.

OC Maryland-001Ocean City, MD, 2014. 

#BookReview The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks (@GeraldineBrooks). A fascinating King David, warts and all.

REVIEWS FOR LITERARY WORLD REVIEWS

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks
The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks

Title:   The Secret Chord
Author:   Geraldine Brooks
ISBN:  1408705931

ISBN13:  978-1408705933
ASIN:  B00URUOJGY
Published:  6th October 2015
Pages:  320
Genre:  Historical Fiction

Body of review:

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks. A fascinating King David, warts and all.

Thanks to Net Galley and to Little Brown Books UK for offering me a free copy of The Secret Chord in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve always thought that the Bible, the Old Testament in particular, is full of fantastic stories, and there are very few plots you won’t find there. Fratricide: check. Murder: check. Incest: check. Adultery: check. Epic disasters: check. Wars: check. Love: check. Magic and miracles: check. Battle of Good versus Evil: check. Prophecy: check. No matter what your beliefs are, as storytelling goes, it’s in a class of its own.

David’s story is a very good example of it. As the author observes in her comments, he is one of the first characters whose story we follow from beginning to end. It has all the elements a fiction writer could wish for: rag to riches, the weak confronting and winning the battle with the mighty, unjustly accused and outlawed makes a comeback and becomes King. He’s also elected by God. A great fighter and leader but a deeply flawed character. He has great joys, but through his own behaviour, brings tragedy and disaster to his family. Like the best heroes, he is also an antihero.

Brooks chooses a narrator, Nathan, the prophet, to tell David’s story. It all starts as Nathan’s attempt to distract the King, who is upset because he has been asked to remain in the palace after a near miss during a battle. Nathan suggests that buildings and palaces won’t make him live in the memory of people, but telling his true story will (a beautiful justification of the power of storytelling). David decides that Nathan should hear the story from others, not himself, and he does not hesitate in sending him to talk to those who might not have that much good to say about the King, including his mother, his brother, and his first wife. Although we go back and forth in time, through the different versions and witnesses, the action starts at a pivotal time in David’s story as he’s about to commit a series of crimes that will be severely punished.

I loved the book. I hadn’t read anything by the author before, but now I will. She writes beautifully, giving voice to the different characters and bringing them to life. The reader experiences Nathan’s visions, is a privileged observer at King David’s court, and although we know (the same as Nathan) what will happen, it is impossible to not get emotionally involved, and worry and suffer with them. Descriptions of David’s playing and singing, dancing to the glory of God are full of wonder and magic. The book pulls no punches either, and descriptions of some of the brutal acts are also vividly rendered.

For me, the book is the story of an extraordinary man, who did many wrong things, but also many great things, and who loved God and his people, even if sometimes he loved himself a bit too much. He is a warrior, an artist, a statesman, a father, a husband, and a faithful servant of God (most of the time). He acknowledges his wrongdoing and does not shy away from his responsibilities. He’s a human being.

Nathan is also a very interesting figure, at times unable to talk despite what he knows, only a passive observer of the tragedy to unfold. But that’s his role, and despite everything, he is loved and cherished by David and later by Solomon. And he is a great stand-in for the reader, knowing but silenced, frustrated and disgusted at times by the King’s actions, but also at times in awe and moved by him.

I couldn’t help but read some of the comments about the book and it seems that most of the people who’ve taken issue with the book, do not like the suggestion of a relationship between David and Jonathan, Saul’s son (and brother of his first wife). It is strange that in a story with murder, incest, rape, pillage and more, the one thing people find upsetting is the suggestion that David might have had a homosexual relationship. It proves that we all bring our own mind-set to our reading experience.

I am not an expert in Bible studies or that particular historical period so I can’t comment on how accurate the book might be in its detail, but for me it brought to life the times, the people and the events.

I finished the book with a greater appreciation for the figure of David (and particularly thankful that the author decided to end the book at that particular point, and on that note) and a wish to read more of Brooks’s books. If you have an open mind, love lyrical writing and are intrigued by the times and the people of that historical period, this is a unique book.

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think: 5/5
Overall enjoyment: 5/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
 

Buy it at:  
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $15.99 (http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Chord-Geraldine-Brooks/dp/1408705931/)
Kindle: $13.59 (http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Chord-Geraldine-Brooks-ebook/dp/B00URUOJGY/)

Audiobook: $28.61 (http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Chord-Novel-Geraldine-Brooks/dp/1611764777/)

Hardcover: $17.05 (http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Chord-Novel-Geraldine-Brooks/dp/0670025771/)

 

Thanks so much to Net Galley, Little Brown Books and Geraldine Brooks, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, CLICK, and if you read any books, please review!

 

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

 

LitWorldInterviews.com-The Week-In Review. 11/9-11/14

BOOK REVIEWS

‘The Blue Crimes’ by Enrique Laso
by Olga Núñez Miret
Olga_Núñez_Miret_author.jpg

The Blue Crimes by Enrique Laso. An intriguing case and an even more intriguing investigator.

The Blue Crimes by Enrique Laso
The Blue Crimes by Enrique Laso

The Blue Crimes is the first book in Enrique Laso’s collection of Ethan Bush Thrillers. Ethan Bush is a young FBI agent, one of the most promising, top of his Psychology class at Stanford and self-assured, or so he seems. He arrives to Jefferson County fresh from solving a serial murder case in Detroit and expectations are running high. Read The Complete Review.
 
 
 
 


The Judas Apocalypse by Dan McNeil “At times his encounters are humorous, deadly, and explosive.”
by Ronovan Hester
Ron_LWI

McNeil gives us a story that spans two thousand years, not year by year or hanging out in that distant past for so long you want to skip pages, and that story threatens to devastate a world, a way of life, and rewrite history. And he does so by piecing together historical The Judas Apocalypse by Dan McNeilfacts with bits of legends and myths that are most familiar and some not so to the average layman. He brings some new twists to the saying “everything old is new again”.

There are times when you completely lose yourself in Dan McNeil’s world. You see and hear things. You feel remorse at times, even surprisingly for characters you can’t stand. McNeil makes you have emotions and thoughts, or perhaps maybe I should say he has you examine things about yourself at times that may make you wonder. Read The Complete Review.


 

Fort Applegate & The Battle of Wounded Knee by Brian Wu.
by Jason Royle
Judas Hero Misunderstood

Brian Wu’s approach to teaching children about the immune system in his book, Fort Applegate & The Battle of Wounded Knee, was informative and effective. As Wu Fort Applegate & The Battle of Wounded Kneestates in his opening “tips” section, Fort Applegate & The Battle of Wounded Kneeone of the primary goals in the writing of this book is for it to be used as a means of getting children interested in their immune system, and as a teaching tool. I found this to be true. Read The Complete Review.
 
 
 
 


FEATURE ARTICLES

Are You A Published Author? Then I Have A Question For You.
by Hugh Roberts
5c7f0fa5629d1be714bbc32bb9e48ddf

When Ronovan initially started Lit World Interviews, his idea was that it would be a place where authors could promote themselves as well as their work. It’s also a place where authors come to seek help and advice from others. Of course there’s the book reviews as well.

I don’t know about you, but I often find that my pride gets in the way when I want to ask for some help. That’s where blogs like this can really help because I don’t feel as afraid to ask for advice especially as many of the readers here are published authors. I am sure that all of them will have been in a similar situation to where I find myself today. Read The Complete Article and Comments.


Promoting Your Books on Amazon
by Jo Robinson
Jo Robinson Author

I’ve only just discovered, too late, that when you run a Kindle Countdown deal it either happens at Amazon.com or Amazon.UK, and not all regions at the same time. So while this time I’ve managed to put different books on Countdowns for the different regions, I’ll know better for next time.

The thing to do if you want your deal to be available to both regions is to set up two separate promotions for the same book on the same dates – one for UK and another for the USA. Read The Complete Article.

 

© Copyright-All rights reserved by LitWorldInterviews.com 2015

Fort Applegate & The Battle of Wounded Knee by Brian Wu. #BookReview by @JERoyle

Brian Wu’s approach to teaching children about the immune system in his book, Fort Applegate & The Battle of Wounded Knee, was informative and effective. As Wu states in his opening “tips” section, Fort Applegate & The Battle of Wounded Kneeone of the primary goals in the writing of this book is for it to be used as a means of getting children interested in their immune system, and as a teaching tool. I found this to be true.
            Wu is certainly well qualified for the field in which he is writing about. He holds a PhD in integrative biology and disease and is an MD Candidate.  But don’t let all of that education intimidate you. Brian’s storytelling is very child friendly. 
            My eight year old daughter read the book. Afterward she asked me, “Dad, do I have T-Cells and B-Cells like that boy in the story?” A great example of the author’s intent; get children more interested in talking about their health, and get parents more involved in educating their children about their bodies.    
 
            Though the book is not very long, Brian does a fine job in touching upon the highlights of the immune system. And he does it by introducing you to Nolan, a young explorer who cuts his knee on a rock. With a little imagination, Nolan takes us to the front lines of the battle going-on inside his body. As the white blood cells attempt to rescue him, it is just the beginning of the attack of the Bacteria Gang
Editor’s Note: After reading Jason’s review, I wish I had taken this one instead of offering it to him and his family.-RH


ABOUT BRIAN WU

Brian Wu, AuthorBrian Wu graduated with a Bachelor’s Science Degree in Physiology and Neurobiology. Currently, he holds a PhD and is an MD Candidate (KSOM, USC) in integrative biology and disease. He is also an experienced writer and editor for a large number of prestigious web pages. Brian values the ability of all ages to learn from the power of stories. His mission is to write about health conditions, educational topics, and life situations in an entertaining way in order to help children understand their own health conditions and daily circumstances.

Contact Brian Wu at hello @ healthstoriesforkids.com (Don’t forget to remove the spaces. All in blue is the email address.)
More info on Brian can be found at http://www.brianwwu.com.



Writing, for Jason Royle, is a way to express the ongoing story of theology. With every book or article, he hopes readers get a sense of the complexity of God and the necessity of faith. Captivated by the spiritual component of life, Jason loves to read everything from the Greek classics to the Sunday comics.  Amazon Author Page.

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© Copyright-All rights reserved by LitWorldInterviews.com 2015

Promoting Your Books on Amazon by @JoRobinson176

I’ve only just discovered, too late, that when you run a Kindle Countdown deal it either happens at Amazon.com or Amazon.UK, and not all regions at the same time.  So while this time I’ve managed to put different books on Countdowns for the different regions, I’ll know better for next time.

The thing to do if you want your deal to be available to both regions is to set up two separate promotions for the same book on the same dates – one for UK and another for the USA.  It’s a bit trickier setting a low price for the other regions, so you’d probably be better off doing an extra promotion where you manually set prices to ninety nine cents for your promotional period.  The only problem with that is that you won’t get the additional visibility of having your Countdown books listed on Amazon’s deals page.  People do actually go there to surf for bargains, and those sales are the cherries on the top of your promotion.

If you, like I have just mistakenly done, zoom along and set up your deal only to realise on the day, then you’re going to have to state in any advertising that you do which region the deal is for, or you could end up with angry potential readers clicking on your links to find that there is no discount for the book in their country.  It’s not the end of the world, but definitely not a good way to go about things, especially if you’re running ads on any of the book tweeting and newsletter services.

The same applies to free books.  I’ve often seen books advertised for free only to see that they’re not free for me.  Always have a look when you’re doing a free book promotion to see where it’s going to be free.  If you have it set to limited regions you’re definitely going to lose out on potential readers.

Even if your book is not enrolled in KDP Select, it’s a good idea to have pricing promotions now and then.  It’s not a good idea to leave your books languishing on the virtual shelf with only the occasional promotional tweet.  You get new followers on your various online sites all the time, and not everyone looks at all the widgets in your sidebar.  They could be following you because of a funny or gorgeous tweet or blog post, and have no clue about your books, even though they like your articles.  At least twice a year give your books a little party.  Drop the prices and share the news all over the place.  You’re sure to find at least a couple of new readers.

Having said that, I’m not suggesting that you join the “Oy buy my book!” brigade.  Those guys who solely blast out their book links several times a day, every day, to the same audience.  If you post only your book links this way your followers will quickly get either bored or irritated and stop looking, so when you do finally have something interesting to share there will be nobody who sees it.  Occasionally though, of course you must promote your book.  Promotion is part of your job as an Indie, so share your work proudly now and then.  There is no shame at all in earning cash for your writing, and nothing wrong with marketing without being spammy.

coins-948603_1920

Are You A Published Author? Then I Have A Question For You.

When Ronovan initially started Lit World Interviews, his idea was that it would be a place where authors could promote themselves as well as their work.  It’s also a place where authors come to seek help and advice from others.  Of course there’s the book reviews as well.

I don’t know about you, but I often find that my pride gets in the way when I want to ask for some help.  That’s where blogs like this can really help because I don’t feel as afraid to ask for advice especially as many of the readers here are published authors.  I am sure that all of them will have been in a similar situation to  where I find myself today.

As yet I have never published a book.  However, I now find myself  at the beginning of a road whose signpost says ‘Published Authors.’ The road ahead not only looks very scary but very uninviting as well. I’ve been told it’s full of pitfalls and that if I do get to the end of it, then not to expect to find the roads paved with gold.   We all fear going into the unknown and many of us will turn away and never go down that road especially if we don’t ask for advice.

The question I want to ask may be one that some readers here today will probably want to ask and I am sure is one that most published authors would have asked at some stage.  I’m sure it will generate lots of different answers and where better to store all those answers than here on Lit World Interviews.  So here’s that question I want to ask you all.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to anyone who is at the beginning of that road, looking up at that sign-post and thinking about publishing a book?

 

5c7f0fa5629d1be714bbc32bb9e48ddf

 

 

 

@RobertHughes05 (https://twitter.com/RobertHughes05)

Hugh Roberts Google+ (https://plus.google.com/108647661887874692677/posts)

Hugh Roberts LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/home?trk=nav_responsive_tab_home

hughsviewsandnews.com (http://hughsviewsandnews.com/about/)

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2015 © Copyright-All rights reserved by litworldinterviews.wordpress.com

The Judas Apocalypse by @DanMcNeil888 “At times his encounters are humorous, deadly, and explosive.”

the-judas-apocalypse-dan-mcneil-review

He’s been referred to as the new Dan on the block of historical fiction conspiracy theories. I don’t agree. Dan McNeil handles his subject with a better hand than Brown ever has. Yeah, sure, you want to knock him across the room at times but who doesn’t want to read something that gets them on an emotional level at times? If you want a fluff read, skip this review. McNeil isn’t about fluff.

Dan McNeil? You know, I normally have a few ideas to start off with for a review. The problem today is—McNeil throws numerous things into The Judas Apocalypse that are intriguing and varied. And they The Judas Apocalypse by Dan McNeilappeal to me on a DNA level. That meaning he has inclusions which spark my interests.

McNeil gives us a story that spans two thousand years, not year by year or hanging out in that distant past for so long you want to skip pages, and that story threatens to devastate a world, a way of life, and rewrite history. And he does so by piecing together historical facts with bits of legends and myths that are most familiar and some not so to the average layman. He brings some new twists to the saying “everything old is new again”.

I’ll tell you this, I know the legends, the history, and the names of the real people mentioned in The Judas Apocalypse. And McNeil gets them right AND he brings some to life in a most interesting way. Why do I know these things? I was a world history expert and teacher with special courses in Nazi and European History under my belt. I taught delinquents to the point they blew the national average in World History testing away.

History is still a major love of my life. This is why one day, not so long ago, I chose to pick up this book and begin reading for pleasure, yes, a Book Reviewer was going to read for pleasure with no intent on reviewing. But my motto is “Read a Book, Write a Review”.

Then I got either interested or ticked off because McNeil was writing about the same characters I used in a YA book I had written a few years ago. (It’s still in one of the draft stages on my computer.)

Dr. Gerhard Denninger, a Jewish Archaeologist in Nazi Germany is spending his years in of all places the Ahnenerbe, the Heritage Bureau of the Third Reich, headed by Heinrich Himmler himself. This is the department that searches for religious relics in the hopes their power will bring victory to the Third Reich.

He comes in contact with a fellow member of the Bureau, one Otto Rahn and off we go on the adventure of a life time. Denninger’s love of the legend of the Cathars and their missing treasure has consumed his life and now he finds himself doing whatever it takes to find it. This includes lying, cheating, and risking death at the hands of the Nazi regime as he makes his way closer and closer to his dream come true. At times his encounters are humorous, deadly, and explosive.

But what happens when he stumbles across four US Army soldiers, who make modern day Reality Shows look like the cast of My Three Sons, wandering France in search of their unit? It gets even stranger and more nerve racking.

McNeil unites four soldiers that represent a broad range of US culture and forces them to be a close knit unit to survive.

  • Who is good?
  • Who is bad?
  • Who is nuts?
  • Who can be trusted?

Honestly, the answers may not be as clear as you think, not even to Dr. Denninger who gets a ringside seat to the soap opera that occurs as they all continue on the hunt for the Cathar Treasure.

This is one well researched piece of fiction and you don’t feel like you’re reading a research article like you do in some novels who get lost and forget they are writing a story to entertain. There  are times when you completely lose yourself in Dan McNeil’s world. You see and hear things. You feel remorse at times, even surprisingly for characters you can’t stand. McNeil makes you have emotions and thoughts, or perhaps maybe I should say he has you examine things about yourself at times that may make you wonder.

Dan McNeil makes mention at the beginning about the religious content of The Judas Apocalypse.  For those on either side of the hill about their faith, this book need not worry you. Read as it was intended, a good, fun time to let your imagination flow from a man who obviously has some obsession with history and loves to piece together the pieces from different puzzles to make a new picture. I personally was able to read it with no problems and knew enough and felt enough about what I believe to enjoy the story.

Personally, I believe a book that gives one pause at times is a good book. I like to have a think as a result of something I have read rather than have my time and thoughts filled with something I won’t get anything out of. Dan McNeil’s The Judas Apocalypse is a book that will make you think. And at times some of you will shout at him. Don’t worry, he won’t hear you, and if he did, he would laugh and applaud, for that’s what he was hoping for, I’m sure.

Dan Brown? Indiana Jones? Neither. This is a unique story with characters not fitting nicely into anyone else’s pigeon hole. Similarities of feel? Maybe, just so you have that frame of reference where this might genre might fall, and find yourself comfortable in, but the story is its own story.

RECOMMENDATION

I recommend this book for lovers of history, WWII fiction, and some of those archaeological adventure stories.

Character Believability: 4The Judas Apocalypse by Dan McNeil
Flow and Pace: 4
Reader Engagement: 4
Reader Enrichment: 4.5
Reader Enjoyment: 4.5
Overall Rate: 4.2

GET THE JUDAS APOCALYPSE

Amazon.com       Amazon.ca        Amazon.co.uk

Visit http://www.danmcneil.ca/ for other outlets.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan McNeilDan McNeil is a born, raised and currently residing Canadian and proud to say so. After a song-writing partnership brought some fame and continued own into a music career, Dan spent many years behind the scenes of television as a camera operator learning the art of storytelling, whether it be good or bad. He became senior editor of the station and often composed the music for many of the local productions. Then it happened.

His first book, “The Judas Apocalypse” was published in 2008. He fully enjoyed the experience and decided to write another. His latest offering is “Can’t Buy Me Love,” a light hearted romp about a heist during the Beatle’s first visit to the United States in 1964, to be released in the summer of 2012. He currently is fending off his friends and fans constant clamoring for more. As if there isn’t more in the works.

CONNECT WITH DAN

 

http://www.danmcneil.ca/

https://www.facebook.com/judasapocalypse

ALWAYS SHARE LITWORLDINTERVIEWS.COM BOOK REVIEWS AND ARTICLES!


Ronovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in December of 2015. He shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

@RonovanWrites

© Copyright-All rights reserved by LitWorldInterviews.com 2015

 

#BookReview ‘The Blue Crimes’ by Enrique Laso (@enriquelaso)

Hi all:

You might remember that a while back I shared an interview with Spanish author Enrique Laso (check here) where we talked, among other things, about his novel The Blue Crimes. Today I wanted to share with you my review, and let you know that I’ll be translating the second novel in the series, so I’ll keep you posted. And if any of you are interested in translations to Spanish, feel free to get in touch with me. And now, the review.

The Blue Crimes by Enrique Laso
The Blue Crimes by Enrique Laso

Title:   The Blue Crimes
Author:   Enrique Laso
ASIN:  B00UQV3BYA
Published:  21st March 2015
Pages:  308
Genre:  Mystery, Thrillers and Suspense, Police Procedurals

The Blue Crimes by Enrique Laso. An intriguing case and an even more intriguing investigator.

The Blue Crimes is the first book in Enrique Laso’s collection of Ethan Bush Thrillers. Ethan Bush is a young FBI agent, one of the most promising, top of his Psychology class at Stanford and self-assured, or so he seems. He arrives to Jefferson County fresh from solving a serial murder case in Detroit and expectations are running high.

The story is told in first person from the point of view of Bush, and that is one of the most interesting aspects of the novel. If the actual procedural investigation, the process of solving the murders of two young girls that are very similar in details to a murder committed 17 years ago is gripping (and I particularly enjoyed the setting in small town America, with the prejudices and the difficulty understanding and fitting into the mentality of the place that it brings to the big city investigators), I found the insight into Ethan Bush’s mind even more interesting. Why?

Well, he is an intelligent man. He knows it and he’s reminded of that by quite a few of the characters he comes into contact with (sometimes in great contrast with some of the witnesses they come across). His intelligence does not always help him, though. Characters who are far less intelligent than him (the sheriff, local investigators, even his mother…) contribute greatly to the success of his mission. He acknowledges and admires the morality of some people (Jim Worth, a solid character that would make his perfect side-kick and foil, and I hope we’ll come across him again in the series), but he’s not squeaky-clean and has no qualms crossing the line of the ethically correct when he thinks it’s necessary to solve a case (not strictly for his own benefit). He has weaknesses that include his irresistible attraction to Vera, one of the witnesses, but also a suspect. He is somewhat obsessive in his methodology and has to be in control of everything, to the point of preferring keeping handwritten notebooks (in Moleskin, that become his trademark) as he does not like to be dependent on technology that could let him down. And during the book, he becomes as obsessed with running as he is with everything else, to the point of putting off the questioning of suspects to not disturb his running schedule. Running means more to him than the simple exercise, but we only become aware of this later on. (By the way, I am aware that the author is a runner himself and he has written non-fiction books about it so this would add to the interest for those who are keen runners.) Despite Ethan’s constant analysing everything and thinking non-stop (to the point of getting severe headaches although they could well be psychosomatic), he is not the most self-aware of characters, and keeps missing clues and hiding stuff because of his own unresolved issues. But those issues are what make him fascinating.

Ethan Bush is not the most likeable hero and has many flaws, and that is a plus for me. He is a man searching for explanations, about the case and about himself. And he never gives up. He’ll go as far as he has to, whatever that might cost him.

I’m not sure how challenging you’ll find the book if you’re one of these people whose main enjoyment is working out who the guilty party is (I did guess who it was early on, but I kept wondering if I was right) but if you enjoy complex characters, a solid story and interesting dynamics, I think this series could keep us guessing for a long time.

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think: 4/5
Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5
Readability: 5/5
Recommended: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
 

Buy it at:  
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $11.95 (http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Crimes-Enrique-Laso/dp/1511536322/)

Kindle: $3.07 http://www.amazon.com/BLUE-CRIMES-Enrique-Laso-ebook/dp/B00UQV3BYA/)

 

 

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

 

5 WAYS TO MOVE AHEAD IN YOUR NOVEL.

It’s the end of the ‘work’ week and I thought before we hit the weekend and more easily accessible writing time, I would do a little bit of NaNoWriMo talk.

As of the writing of this post, I am over 25,000 words on my NaNoWriMo book, Honor Bound: Monsters. Crazy, right? The thing is I wrote 13,000 of that on Wednesday. How?

Actually it took me a while to find that groove. I was stuck in research limbo over wanting a fact to bridge one scene of the book to the next scene. Yes, I hear some of you now, “Dude, that is stoopid!”

And yes, it was not quite intelligent. I got caught in a trap. A trap I knew to look out for and to avoid during a first draft of a work of FICTION.

My advice has been “Just write the freaking story.”

And I was “Stalling on a freaking point.”

Now to the how to get in to your groove.

5 Ways To Move Ahead In Your Novel

  1. Don’t get stuck on the finer details at this point. It is just a first draft.
    • How did I move from stuck to the next scene. I just went to the next scene. I knew where I was going, and I knew all I wanted was a simple dialogue scene with a touch of information in it, but I was too brain tired to get that part done, so I went on to where the ground was fertile, while making a HUGE note there was a need for a scene addition. And the great thing is, by the time I get back to that scene, I will know the characters even better and very likely have the information that I need to use in that scene. Or maybe, I will find I don’t need the bridge at all.
  2. Take a break. If you write and push through exhaustion you end up burning out and for some they end up in pain.  I do this too often, pushing. I did it Wednesday and suffered for it most of Thursday. I finally kicked back into the groove late in the day and put in a good number of words. I think begin half way to the NaNo goal isn’t bad. And when you do take a break what should you do?
  3. Leave your writing in the middle of a sentence or scene. This way you know what to pick up with next time. Walking away at the end of a scene or chapter is one of the worst things you can do.
  4. A big thing that helped me get my word count moving was being part of the facebook group for my NaNoWriMo Region. A bunch of strangers, or some are friends of each other, joining in and doing sprints. Sprints are when you write for 15 minutes as focused as you can and then time is called. You share your word count and people encourage and the like. It seriously helped me late last night. It got to the point my hands were so tired my fingers didn’t want to lift off the keys and move.
  5. A challenge buddy is also pushing me. I have one particular friend that is as competitive if not more so than I am about this. I’m not overly competitive but I like to use competition to help encourage others to push onward, and you get caught up in it.

I find it odd that last year only about 17% of those who signed up for NaNoWriMo actually finished it.  I think most of those not finishing never started, at least that’s my opinion. And if you don’t finish, at least get a habit going of writing.

Writing around 2000 words a day, writing a story that isn’t supposed to be read yet, isn’t that difficult. You keep writing and get yourself out of whatever you got yourself into.

Author and LWI Team Member Jo Robinson has a great article about Writer’s Block called Dodge Around the Blocks. Make sure to check it out for some more advice. Also the other helpful tips in the NaNoWriMo Support section might give you an idea to get you to where you want to be.



Ronovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in December of 2015. He shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

@RonovanWrites

© Copyright-All rights reserved by LitWorldInterviews.com 2015

Dodge Around the Blocks

When you absolutely can’t think of another single word, and the very thought of sitting down at your keyboard to carry on, or start, writing your book makes you almost come out in hives, that’s the very time to do just that. Force yourself, no matter how blank your mind seems to be. If you give in to the “I’ll do it later when I’m feeling more inspired” thought, there’s a very distinct probability that you’ll give in to that very same thought again, and then again. Habits form amazingly quickly, and bad habits even quicker than good ones, so it’s best to try not to give them any room for takeover. One unproductive hour becomes two – one day becomes two.

The path of least resistance is generally the wrong path to take in writing – in life too, but most definitely in writing. If writing a single book, let alone multiple books, was easy, then everyone would be doing it. The fact that it’s actually really hard, and that you’re doing it anyway makes you a legend. Not everyone has the ability to translate a story in their head to words on pages that people will enjoy reading. Just like art, you can see amazing things in your mind, but if you don’t have that mystical innate artistic talent that some are born with you’re not likely to transfer it exactly as you see it to canvas.

When the going gets hard, make yourself work harder. When the words on your screen look stupid, and you’re sure that your book is going to be laughed under tables, and physically thrown at walls because of the very rottenness of it, just add more words to those words. They’re very probably the opposite of rotten words. When doubt creeps in to try and steal your words, write those words down anyway. They’re there inside waiting for you to move around the fear.

When you get stuck, and we all get stuck at some point in writing our books, it’s time to firmly employ the dodge and scribble on anyway maneuver. At the end of that sentence that seems to be the last one you’ll ever be able to write, and you’re quivering in terror knowing full well that you’re an absolute fake. You’re not a writer, and never will be. Just hit the page break button and start typing something else. If you’ve hit a wall as far as what must happen next, forget about it and move on to the next chapter. You have a general idea of what will happen later in your story. Move on and write some of that. Never stop and allow the blank page to stay where it is while your doubt induced terror freezes you up even further. Move on. Write something else. Anything else. But write on.

Generally people don’t get impossible to ignore urges to do something unless it’s something that they should be doing. Doing anything worthwhile is seldom a doddle. If you have been called to write, then that’s what you should be doing. It’s not going to be easy, but it won’t always be hard either. So, never give up. Always dodge around the blocks and scribble on anyway.

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New Book! A Haiku Perspective by Annette Rochelle Aben @YouAreTheExpert

A book just out makes me a bit proud.

A Haiku Perspective by best selling author Annette Rochelle Aben hits a bit close to the heart for me.

“If not for the prompting of Ronovan Hester and his
Weekly Haiku Challenges via his blog
http://www.ronovanwrites.wordpress.com I may not Annette Rochelle Aben Authorhave fallen in love with writing Haiku. There is an entire section of this book filled with my offerings to some of these weekly challenges, for this is where it all started. Check out his blog, follow and receive the announcement each week of the challenge. I look forward to being inspired by what you write.”

A Haiku Perspective by Annette Rochelle AbenBut it’s not the mentioning of my name or my personal blog that is what touches my heart, it is also part of what Annette is trying to accomplish with her book.

The Storybook Project of Iowa

This program allows for people to purchase a book and send it to a mother in an Iowa prison who then reads the book and records it for her children to hear her voice. The book and the recording are then sent to the child. Annette can tell you more about it and I believe she even offers a way to have the books autographed when they are sent to the women. You basically would send it to her and she would then send it onward. You can contact Annette for the full details.

Some people think of people in prison as criminals, but sometimes they are there because of situations. A mother wanting to read to her child is a sign of a wonderful character to me.

From Annette

“Here is an address if anyone wishes to send THEIR BOOKS directly to them. The Storybook Project of Iowa 1111 9th Ste 320 Des Moines, IA 50314 Attn: Tabby K. Originally, the project was geared toward authors who wrote children’s books, as many of these women have small children. However they did accept my books and found that some of the older children really appreciated them. So please author friends, gift these families one of your books, it will mean so much!”

The book was in the top 25 upon release and I would review it but I don’t think that is a good idea. I’ve already reviewed most of the individual Haiku that were for my challenge. I will tell you that Annette has fun with her poetry. You will find humor, history, and heart.



 

Ronovan HesterRonovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in December of 2015. He shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

@RonovanWrites

© Copyright-All rights reserved by LitWorldInterviews.com 2015

#BookReviews ‘The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen’ by Lindsay Ashford (@LindsayAshfordA). Faction and death in the Austen Family

he Mysterious Death of Miss Austen by Lindsay Ashford
The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen by Lindsay Ashford

Title:  The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen
Author:   Lindsay Ashford
ISBN13:  978-0753190227
ASIN:  B007BTHCIQ
Published:  October 2011
Pages:  336
Genre:  
Historical fiction. Mystery, thriller and suspense

Description:

When Jane Austen dies at the age of just 41, Anne, governess to her brother, Edward Austen, is devastated and begins to suspect that someone might have wanted her out of the way. Now, 20 years on, she hopes that medical science might have progressed sufficiently to assess the one piece of evidence she has – a tainted lock of Jane’s hair. Natural causes or murder? Even 20 years down the line, Anne is determined to get to the bottom of the mysterious death of the acclaimed Miss Austen. A compelling speculative fictional account of the circumstances surrounding Jane Austen’s mysterious death from established crime writer Lindsay Ashford, based on her own and relatives correspondence.

Review:

Thanks to Honno Welsh Women’s Press for sending me a paperback copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I do like Jane Austen’s novels. Some more than others (Pride and Prejudice is my favourite at the moment, although there are some that I can’t even remember if and when I read them, so this could change), but I am not an expert on the subject or her number one fan. Still, when I was offered a copy of this book, I was intrigued. I had written a post about Jane Austen for my series of guest classical authors and it proved one of the most popular in my blog, and I remembered from checking her biography that she’d died quite young after a somewhat unclear illness. So a book exploring her death, and backed up with research into the archives at Chawton House, in other libraries, and also by careful perusal of some of her best known biographies was intriguing. (I’m also a doctor, but not in internal Medicine, and no Dr House either).

The book is narrated in the first person by Miss Anne Sharp, a governess who goes to work for one of Jane’s brothers, Edward, and his wife, Elizabeth, at Godmersham. Her personal circumstances are difficult, and not that different from those of Jane herself, a single woman, educated but of no independent means. In Miss Sharp’s case, she does not have a family to rely on and she considers herself lucky obtaining a position with a wealthy family, even if her standing is unclear (she is neither a servant to share the world of downstairs, nor a member of the family who can participate in all their social gatherings). She meets Jane when she visits and they are kindred spirits, well-read and less interested in fashion and finding a husband than in cultivating their minds and observing the world and the society around them. They soon become friends, and correspond and see each other often over the years, despite changes in circumstances, until Jane’s death.

The novel mixes well-researched data with some flights of fancy (the intricacies and complexities of the Austen’s family relationships are rendered much more interesting by suggestions of illicit affairs involving several family members, which then become one of the backbones of the hypothesis that Jane was poisoned with arsenic, providing a possible motivation). I’ve read reviews stating that if this novel had been published within 50 years of Jane’s death it could have been considered slander. This is probably true (I won’t go into detail, as I don’t want to give the plot away) but hardly the point. Yes, there are suppositions that would be virtually impossible to prove, but they help move the story along and serve to highlight the nature of the society of the time.

I liked the portrayal of Jane, indirect as it is and from the point of view of a fairly unreliable narrator. She is presented as a bright, humorous and fiercely intelligent woman, devout of her family but fully aware of their shortcomings. She is a keen observer of human nature and a good amateur psychologist, producing wonderful portraits of the people and the types they come across. There isn’t much detail about the process of getting her novels into publication, other than what the narrator conjectures, as she is no longer in the Austen’s circle at that point.

In the novel, Anne Sharp has feelings for Jane that go beyond friendship, but she never reveals them to Jane, and three is no suggestion that Jane reciprocates her feelings. One of the keys to the novel is the narrator. Although I thought the observational part of the novel was well achieved (I’m not an expert on the literature of the period, though, but I felt there was enough detail without getting to the point of overburdening the story), I was not so sure about how rounded Miss Sharp’s character was. She can be self-restrained one minute (in her relationship with Jane) and then throw all caution to the wind and risk her position with no solid basis for her accusations. And some of the theories she works with and then rejects felt a bit forced (yes, I had worked out who the guilty party was going to be well before she gets there). I didn’t dislike her, but wasn’t fully convinced either.

I enjoyed the book. The story moves along at good pace and it made me want to read more about Jane Austen’s life, and, especially, revisit some of her novels. As a murder mystery of the period, it is perhaps closer to a cosy mystery than to a police procedural (for evident reasons), with the beauty that the background and the period are well researched and fascinating in their own right. I would recommend it to readers in general, particularly to people who enjoy or are curious about Austen’s work, although I suspect that to real scholars of the subject it might appear too little and too fanciful. But if you want a good read, go for it.

What the book is about: The possibility that Jane Austen might not have died of natural causes. The story is told from the point of view of one of Jane’s friends who pieces together what she believes was the reasons and the guilty party to Jane’s murder. And not only hers…

Book Highlights: The inside information about Jane Austen and her family (although I don’t think there’s evidence of some of the fancier aspects of the story, but see above). It makes us want to go away and read more.

 Challenges of the book: Our level of engagement with the narrator.

 What do you get from it: A renewed interest in Jane Austen and her historical period.

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think: 3.5/5
Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5
Readability: 4.5/5
Recommended: 4.4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
 

Buy it at:  
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $29.99 (Cheaper copies available on the site)
Kindle: $ 3.05

Hardcover: $ 27.84

Thanks to Honno for sending me a copy of the book and to Lindsay Ashford for this fascinating novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com