@FTThum #BookReview ‘From a Paris Balcony’ by Ella Carey

My birthday isn’t here yet, but I have just finished “From a Paris Balcony”, a gift from a dear friend. Here’s what I think of it.

Title:          From a Paris Balcony
Author:        Ella Carey
Publishers:     Lake Union Publishing  (October 11, 2016)
Format:          Kindle, Paperback
Website:         www.ellacarey.com
Pages:             290
Genre:           Fiction – Contemporary

 

What’s it about?

“From a Paris Balcony” tells the stories of two women from two different centuries, both lost. Louisa Duval (nee West) longed for freedom and independence in conservative 19th century Europe, while Sarah West longed for the husband and family she would now not have.

They are bound by a devastating death, Louisa’s through suicide. To escape the pain in her life, she fled to Paris on a personal mission to discover the story of Louisa, her great great-aunt’s death after discovering a letter written to Louisa’s husband, Henry from one of Belle Epoque Paris’ notorious courtesan, Marthe de Florian. Guided by her instinct, Sarah searched for answers as her path crosses that of Laurent Chartier, an acclaimed artist who seems to be on his own private journey.

Will Sarah find the answers she is searching for? Did Louisa?

The women’s lives ran parallel in their attachment to their ideals and the future they wanted. Will they dare to embrace the lives they have, instead of the lives they wish?

Other than the romance, “From a Paris Balcony” highlights the conflict and hypocrisy of morality, class and norms in late 19th century Europe, particularly Paris and London. It also brings the issue of gender inequality to the fore.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, and enjoy it. There are whimsical and reflective elements to this book, and few could escape the romanticism of the City of Light.

Now I wish I was back there 😉 !

 

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 3/5
Made Me Think:                   3/5
Overall enjoyment:               3.5/5
Readability:                           3/5
Recommended:                     3.5/5
Overall Rating:                  3/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 4.99
  Paperback USD 6.32

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

Self-Publishing and Formatting Quick Tips

One of the biggest challenges to Indies is getting a professionally published looking book when up against the costs of editing, proofreading, formatting and cover designs. If you can afford these services then foregoing them is not a good idea, but when you really can’t afford them they can mean the death of some really great literature. There are a couple of things that can help though.

Editing or Proofreading Swopsies

Rather than simply asking for Beta readers, offer to swop proofreading services. Writers have a different kind of eyeball when reading. I’ve just finished a Joanna Trollope book, professionally published by one of the big houses, professionally edited and put together, but so far I’ve found a couple of typos and instances of poorly strung together sentences. As far as the cover design is concerned, if it wasn’t for the fact that I was specifically looking for and wanting to buy a Trollope book I wouldn’t have been at all “grabbed” by the image on the cover. We automatically see things that “normal” readers don’t. We’re also all very busy, and generally prefer to choose what we read for pleasure, so we’re more likely to put the effort in to read a draft novel to look for problems if we know that the same service is on offer for one of our own babies in exchange. Offer something valuable in exchange for this valuable job.

Cover Design

I you’re going to have to do your own cover design
then do a bit of in-depth googling and watch how to videos about the way to go before you even try. Do not use Paint or the basic software on your computer. Download free programmes designed for the purpose and find out how they work. It’s a schlep for the not artistically inclined, but at the end of the day it’s better to have a slightly forgettable cover than one which is eye-wateringly terrible. One of the biggest ways to ruin a fabulous image is to use horrible fonts. When in doubt go as plain as possible with fonts. There are thousands of beautiful free images to be had online. Before you choose an image make sure to have a look at how many times it’s been downloaded, and that way you can be a little reassured that it won’t be something that you see on loads of other book covers. This isn’t a huge deal though. Even with traditionally published books, very popular images often seen on more than one bestseller. Again though, while not a dealbreaker for a bestselling author, this could be a problem for Indies.

Formatting

Once again, this is something that’s going to require work and hours of research on your part, but it’s work that is going to be worth it at the end of the day. Have a look at our previous in-depth articles and view a couple of videos on Youtube by reputable Indies who have gone before. Unprofessional formatting will be noticed by readers and can lead to bad reading experiences and will possibly be followed by bad reviews. Take note that formatting is totally different for different types of book. The Smashwords meatgrinder has a slightly terrifying reputation, but to be honest there are only a couple things to note with it once you have your eBook
formatted for Kindle. First is to get rid of all extraneous line spaces. Never, ever, have more than two consecutive line spaces for Smashwords. Make sure to have “Smashwords Edition” in your front matter, and load your book up as a clean Word document. Unfortunately there are lots of disappointing books about how to format, but there are a couple of good ones too. A pet hate of mine are those who say “Hire a good formatter” when you get to the formatting sections. Seriously, why on earth publish a how to book without getting to the how to nitty gritty? Make sure that you have a look at the reviews before buying any how to book. They are the best indicator.
Basic formatting isn’t impossible to do, but it’s not a magical thing that will just happen without a bit of research and putting in of the time. Good rules to remember are to not format while you write. Forget about fancy fonts, bullets, page numbers and text boxes. These are anathema to Kindle books. Type your book straight out and then once you’ve formatted your paragraph indents and spacing, save different copies for each format—eBook and paperback.

Make sure that you have a NCX table of contents
for your eBook. Regardless of the chats on forums, this is a requirement by Amazon, and even if you’ve gotten away without them in your books so far, at some point their absence will be noticed and acted on.

Formatting for paper is often the most stressful thing for Indie authors. Using paid for software definitely makes the process a lot easier, but not everyone can afford it. When publishing your first book it can all seem overwhelming, but if you take the process one step at a time you’ll generally find it doable. Here are a couple of tips for newbie paperback publishers:

Book Size

Don’t automatically go for the default 6” x 9”. Consider how many pages your book has and then think about how thin or thick the end result will be. If you’re publishing a novella or something with few pages it might be a good idea to go with 5” x 8” to avoid having a really skinny result, or go bigger if it’s a massive tome.

Paper Colour

Generally cream looks better for fiction. White is best for non-fiction in most cases.

Full Colour or Black and White Text

Full colour is going to mean expensive to buy, so unless you’re publishing a book where images are the most important thing then black and white should be good enough. Remember that even one single full colour picture means that the entire book will be printed on a colour press. You could publish two versions—one colour and one black and white. You would use different ISBN numbers for each, and if you do choose to do this make sure to let potential buyers know that there are two options in the blurb section of each.

ISBN Numbers

Using your own ISBN numbers is obviously the best way to go if you can afford them, but there is no shame in using the free ones offered by CreateSpace. The only real drawback with the freebies is that you have to list CreateSpace as the publisher.

Templates

I’m not fond of templates in general, but they really can save a lot of hair pulling if you can’t face the thought of formatting yourself. They are free from CreateSpace and the most difficult task involved is a bit of copy and paste.

Margins

Once you’ve set your book size you will see your page count. Your margins can’t be set to less than 0.25 and 0.5 is recommended by CreateSpace for all four sides. Gutter margin settings depend on page count:
24 to 100 pages needs a gutter setting of 0.375
152 to 300 is 0.5
301 to 500 is 0.625
501 to 700 is 0.75
701 to 825 is 0.875
To set page size and margins go to Page Layout in Word and click on the arrow next to Page Setup. Change book size in the Paper settings and margins in the Margins settings.

Page Breaks

With a paper book it’s important to separate sections using section breaks rather than page breaks to ensure proper page numbering. Click on Page Layout > Breaks > Next Page to insert these and make sure to remove the regular page breaks where you do put these in.

Numbering

Click into your headers and footers BEFORE inserting numbers and remove any active Link to Previous instructions in any of them where there are to be no page numbers.

Then go to the page that will have the first page number in your book and click Insert > Page Number and select your preference for positioning.

One very big tip here is that Word can play with you here and reinsert the Link to Previous instructions sometimes, so if numbers keep appearing where you don’t want them, keep calm and simply go back into relevant headers and footers and remove them again. Also double check that you have section breaks in place. Where you don’t want anything in headers and footers in certain places throughout your book, remember to click on Different First Page also in the header toolbar on the relevant pages.

With a bit of work and research you can publish fabulous and professional looking books. Happy formatting!

Stevie Turner’s Review of D.G Kaye’s Memoir ‘Conflicted Hearts’.

D.G. Kaye

To purchase ‘Conflicted Hearts’, please click on the link below:

http://bookShow.me/B00HDTPPUQ

5 out of 5 stars!

I must write about how much I enjoyed D. G Kaye’s memoir ‘Conflicted Hearts’.  The troublesome relationship that the author has with her mother mirrors episodes in my own life, and I can empathise regarding feelings that ensue from the author wanting to stay away from the negativity of her mother’s narcissistic ways and try to carry on with her own life, but at the same time suffering an overwhelming guilt at staying away for long periods of time.

D.G Kaye is a strong-minded woman and a fearless lone traveller, who is always trying to please her mother.  However, I have found, as the author has, that some people just cannot be pleased no matter what is done to help them.  Sometimes it’s a case of standing back, taking a deep breath, and either walking away or growing a thick skin.

I admire the author’s courage in writing this memoir.  Being an only child I was never brave enough to walk away and so I had to grow the thick skin, but it was only in my mother’s last years that we actually became closer.  Through major illness and stress D.G Kaye tried to do what was best for her mother and herself, and I applaud her for it.  But at the end of the day it is only by actually living true to ourselves that we can really be happy.

Hannah’s Moon #Bookreview

  • Title: Hannah’s Moon51bro8xaiol
  • Author: John A. Heldt
  • File Size: 869KB
  • Print Length: 481
  • Publication Date: February 8, 2017
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B06X3RKB37
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Historical Fiction

I honestly don’t think it gets much better than this. Hannah’s Moon is the fifth book of John Heldt’s American Journey series. I’ve read two other books in the series (Indiana Belle and Class of ’69) and thoroughly enjoyed each. However, if I were to give the prize ribbon to a story-line, Hannah’s Moon would win by a mile.

It tells the story of a young couple in 2017 who wants nothing more than to have a baby. They’ve spent years trying and failing and finally began considering adoption. They soon learn of a way where they can legally adopt a healthy child in a shorter amount of time, but the catch is they have to do it in 1945. After meeting the child of their dreams, their bliss is deferred when they must overcome life-changing obstacles.

I caught a few typos along the way and also found myself overanalyzing the plot (though I did love the idea of it) by wondering about adopting a child born more than seventy years ago and the consequences of such an action. But I found myself drawn into the story within a few pages, having to force myself to set it down and get some sleep.

This has everything: love, friendship, pain, happiness…toward the ending, several moments pulled at my heartstrings and tears began to form from the corners of my eyes. After wanting to hurry and find out what happens next, I finished Hannah’s Moon and was sad to see that I had no more left to read.

I could tell Mr. Heldt did his research. I felt as though I was a fly on the characters’ walls, watching as they fought to come out on top.

If you’re in the mood for light romance and/or time travel where anything can happen–or you’re simply after a good book, then I highly recommend Hannah’s Moon.

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Biography

John A. Heldt

John A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.

DRM or Not for Amazon

When you load your book up to Amazon you will get to choose whether or not to enable Digital Rights Management.


It is important to note here that this particular choice cannot be undone. Short of unpublishing and republishing this cannot be changed. Once you have some nice reviews and lots of sales on any particular book unpublishing it is not a great idea, so give some thought to this before setting it in stone. So, what is DRM?

Amazon says that Digital Rights Management “is intended to inhibit unauthorized access to or copying of digital content files”. While this sounds great in terms of combating piracy, in reality it’s about as effective in this regard as a straw hut would be at keeping you dry in a hurricane. My African Me & Satellite TV was published with DRM enabled and it is my most pirated book. Stripping DRM is the work of minutes with appropriate easy to obtain software and a penchant for theft. In all honesty DRM is more of a headache and deterrent to potential readers. While a DRM enabled book can be read on any Kindle device or on the Kindle App when loaded on to any reading device, it can’t be opened without it (crooked software notwithstanding). If you also publish with a distributor such as Smashwords DRM becomes irrelevant anyway as far as protection against piracy is concerned because they supply every form of digital copy of your book to anyone who purchases a copy of it.

With certain eBooks authors encourage the printing of them, such as for workbooks or colouring books, and supply links away from the book to download PDF copies for this purpose. On your copyright page you will state what is not allowed to happen with copies of your eBook purchased, but regardless of that it is very easy to convert any non-DRM book to PDF form and print it out for whatever your reader chooses to do with it. Most readers are unaware of this, so if you want to encourage this for any particular reason (for workbooks and so on) it’s a good idea to have instructions in your book. The main reason for not enabling DRM though is to ensure that any potential readers who have reading habits that do not include any form of Kindle are not put off from buying it. Odd as it sounds, there are quite a few people who do not have Kindle devices or apps, and don’t like reading on their computers, who still enjoy Amazon’s competitive pricing and book promotions.

When purchasing eBooks it’s fairly easy to see whether or not DRM is enabled. Have a look at the Product Details on the book’s landing page. If you see Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited there the book is DRM free, and if you don’t it isn’t.

Or Not:


If you want to check whether or not your already purchased books are DRM free, either for reading on a non-Kindle device or for printing purposes, you can use your Calibre eBook Viewer. If you don’t already have Calibre download it for free. It’s a must have tool for Indie publishers anyway as we’ve mentioned before.

Open Calibre and click on View.


Click on Open Book and then go to My Kindle Content in your Documents folder.


The books there are listed in alphabetical order by Amazon ASIN number. Search for and select the book’s ASIN (also to be found under Product Details on the landing page). The book will open if DRM free and you can either read it or convert it to PDF for printing.
If DRM is enabled it will be locked and you will only be able to open it on a Kindle device or with the app.

Or Not:


It’s a good idea to remember that most readers simply want to read the books that they buy. Some of them have fixed likes or dislikes that don’t always make sense to everyone. Some people refuse to read anything other than paper books, and we all have our favourite reading devices. I like to read most non-fiction on the Kindle app on my computer, especially any book with pictures, diagrams or recipes. Fiction I prefer to read on my actual Kindle, and generally in bed with a nice cup of chocolate or glass of wine. I have used this method to print worksheets out from workbooks where there was no link to exterior PDF copies. There is no point to workbooks published as eBooks without this option as far as I’m concerned, even though I have bought some without thinking where this is not an option as DRM is enabled. Needless to say those workbooks have gone mostly unread and unused, and their authors most definitely on my list of never to buy from again.

DRM is very, very weak protection against piracy, and I think not really a good option for any Indie publisher.

#Bookreview The Way of the Writer. Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling by Charles Johnson. Unique reflections based on a lifetime of thinking and writing well.

Hi all:

I’m sorry this review doesn’t follow the usual format, but I ‘ve shared it on my own blog and thought many of the authors reading this blog might find it interesting.
Hi all:

Although I read more fiction than non-fiction, there are more and more non-fiction books finding their way to my to be read pile, and I’ve read a few that I want to share too. So to bring more variety to the reviews, here comes one I read recently that might be particularly interesting to writers, but I believe many people will find interesting and inspiring, no matter what their call on life.

The Way of the Writer by Charles Johnson
The Way of the Writer by Charles Johnson

The Way of the Writer. Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling by Charles Johnson

Scribner

Nonfiction (Adult)

Description

From Charles Johnson—a National Book Award winner, Professor Emeritus at University of Washington, and one of America’s preeminent scholars on literature and race—comes an instructive, inspiring guide to the craft and art of writing.

An award-winning novelist, philosopher, essayist, screenwriter, professor, and cartoonist, Charles Johnson has devoted his life to creative pursuit. His 1990 National Book Award-winning novel Middle Passage is a modern classic, revered as much for its daring plot as its philosophical underpinnings. For thirty-three years, Johnson taught and mentored students in the art and craft of creative writing. The Way of the Writer is his record of those years, and the coda to a kaleidoscopic, boundary-shattering career.

Organized into six accessible, easy-to-navigate sections, The Way of the Writer is both a literary reflection on the creative impulse and a utilitarian guide to the writing process. Johnson shares his lessons and exercises from the classroom, starting with word choice, sentence structure, and narrative voice, and delving into the mechanics of scene, dialogue, plot and storytelling before exploring the larger questions at stake for the serious writer. What separates literature from industrial fiction? What lies at the heart of the creative impulse? How does one navigate the literary world? And how are philosophy and fiction concomitant?

Luminous, inspiring, and imminently accessible, The Way of the Writer is a revelatory glimpse into the mind of the writer, and an essential guide for anyone with a story to tell.

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Charles Johnson has given us a book that will hopefully place a gentle but firm hand on the shoulder of every writer. Here are short essays offering advice, writing life insight and encouragement to anyone wishing to master the art of storytelling. Johnson’s book is a reminder that good writing consists of more than sleeping with the dictionary. It requires a major commitment to the love of language.”– E. Ethelbert Miller, award-winning poet and 2016 recipient of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature

“Charles Johnson here provides—as his subtitle promises—’reflections on the art and craft of storytelling.’ It’s a welcome addition to the small shelf of useful books on the way of the writer and one that belongs with those of his mentor, John Gardner. Here the writer links the personal with the professional in ways that both inspire and instruct. Use this book (a) to deepen your familiarity with the work of a distinguished author, (b) to understand how serious practitioners address their art and (c) to improve your own.”–Nicholas Delbanco, author of The Years

“Those of us who put pen to paper for a living have known of Charles Johnson for a very long time. He is one of America’s greatest literary treasures. He is a skilled wordsmith, superb craftsman, master of understatement, philosopher, cartoonist, and deeply talented novelist whose 1991 novel Middle Passage, (which won the National Book Award for fiction) predates the current surfeit of Underground Railroad novels by a good two decades. Like the great Ralph Ellison to whom he is often compared, he will forever cast a long shadow over us who follow in his wake. Here he graciously opens up the treasure chest of writing secrets and philosophy for those of us who seek to kneel at the tree of learning, told by a man who has kissed the black stone of literary excellence.”—James McBride, National Book Award-winning author of The Good Lord Bird and The Color of Water

“If you’re looking to learn to tell stories in written form, look no further. This book is as accessible as it is profound, lively, practical, and full of earned wisdom. I was a student of Charles Johnson’s, and can vouch for the power and value of his teaching. There are plenty of craft books available out there, but this is the only one I know of that is–and I don’t think I’m exaggerating–indispensable.”–David Guterson, author of Snow Falling on Cedars

“This is a book for many readers. If you are an aspiring writer, the path that Dr. Johnson sets out is a clear guide to your destination—whether you become a best-selling novelist or a top non-fiction writer or not. You will find a compass in this book that will direct you towards a real way that will fulfill your efforts. There is much practical advice and worldview wisdom here that will sustain you in your journey. Those who are on a different path (as readers) will also find fulfillment here. Dr. Johnson sets out original and illuminating guides on how to confront literary fiction—especially philosophical fiction. These reflections advance critical theory toward literature that is, itself, philosophy. This is a must-buy for both of these travelers. The destination will more than reward the price of the ticket.”–Michael Boylan, Professor of Philosophy, Marymount University and author of Naked Reverse: A Novel

“An honest, engaging, and wonderfully inspiring book for both writers and teachers. Charles Johnson’s deep intelligence, joyful rigor and refreshing iconoclasm are evident in every subject he covers here. Philosophical and practical, The Way of the Writer is sure to become a classic in the mold of John Gardner’s excellent books on writing.”–Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others

“A meditation on the meaning of literature and practical guide to the art and craft of writing fiction.”–Library Journal

“Charles Johnson has a long-standing reputation as one of the world’s greatest fiction writers. Now in this brilliant new book, The Way of the Writer, he offers us an eclectic meditation on the storyteller’s craft that is by turns memoir, instructional guide, literary critique, and philosophical treatise. Every reader will be deeply enriched by the book.”—Jeffery Renard Allen, author of Song of the Shank and Rails Under My Back

“All writers will welcome the useful tips and exercises, but the book will also appeal to readers interested in literature and the creative process. Johnson’s wonderful prose will engage readers to think more deeply about how to tell a story and consider the truth-telling power of the arts.”-Library Journal STARRED review

“Throughout, Johnson’s voice is generous and warm, even while he is cautioning writers to be their own ruthless editors. A useful writing guide from an experienced practitioner.”—Kirkus Reviews

“National Book Award winner Johnson (Middle Passage, 1990) has taught creative writing for over 30 years and now shares his well-refined thoughts on how best to develop literary taste and technique…. Every aspect of this writing manual, which is laced with memoir, illustrates Johnson’s seriousness of purpose about literature and his laser focus on the thousands of small choices that shape a written work. The result is a book that will be appreciated by aspiring writers and everyone who shares Johnson’s delight in the power of words.”–Booklist

“A meditation on the daily routines and mental habits of a writer…the book radiates warmth…a writer’s true education might start in institutions, it seems, but for Johnson it is more a lineage of good, memorable talk.”–New York Times

“Eloquent, inspiring and wise, The Way of the Writer is a testament to the methods and advice the author espouses, and even if you aren’t an aspiring novelist, Johnson’s book is a fascinating glimpse into the mind of one of our finest writers.”–Seattle Times

“Writers who haven’t had the opportunity to study with Dr. Charles Johnson during the past 40 years are now in luck. The novelist, essayist, cartoonist, and philosopher has collected the creative lessons he’s learned along the way in a new practical and semi-autobiographical guide.”–Tricycle

“An instructive, inspiring guide to the craft and art of writing.”–Chicago Review of Books

About the Author

Charles Johnson is a novelist, essayist, literary scholar, philosopher, cartoonist, screenwriter, and professor emeritus at the University of Washington in Seattle. His fiction includes Dr. King’s Refrigerator, Dreamer, Faith and the Good Thing, and Middle Passage, for which he won the National Book Award. In 2002 he received the Arts and Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Seattle.

My review: Unique reflections based on a lifetime of thinking and writing well.

Thanks to Net Galley and Scribner for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I voluntarily review.

This non-fiction book is not a ‘how to’ book and won’t give the reader a formula for producing, and even less, selling, books by the bucket load. The subtitle, Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling describes much more precisely what the book is. And if there’s one thing we can’t accuse Charles Johnson of, is of lacking precision.

The book is structured in six parts (1. Who Is the Writer?, 2. The Process of Writing, 3. What Helps the Writer, 4. The Writer as Teacher, 5. The Writing Life and Duties of the Writer, 6. Philosophy and the Writer), each one collecting some of his essays on topics related to the craft of writing, that are very numerous. The parts, and each essay, can be read separately, although if read as a book there are reflections and quotes that will become familiar, and anecdotes and thoughts that appear more than once (not a big problem if readers dip in and out, or read it over an extended period and go back to revisit the parts they find more relevant or inspiring). Due to the nature of the materials, some of the content overlaps, particularly as this is a deeply personal book, based on Charles Johnson’s experiences, and he talks about his personal writing schedule, his interest in martial arts, how he started his career as a journalist, his love of drawing and design, his Buddhist beliefs, his interest in Philosophy…

The author taught an undergraduate and a postgraduate writing course for many years, although he has been retired for a while, and he describes his ‘boot camp for writers’ that he strongly based on John Gardner’s (that he describes as his writing mentor) programme. Johnson talks about the readings he recommends, the hard schedule of writing he requires, how he focuses on technique, how he advises writers to read a dictionary from cover to cover… So, there are exercises one could do independently and advice one can follow, but mostly the book is a reflection on his career, as a writer, philosopher, teacher and reviewer. From a personal point of view, I especially enjoyed his essay on reviews because it spoke to me and to my thoughts on what a review should be like, and the importance of telling people what they might find and like in the book, above and beyond your personal taste and opinion in the matter.

In some of his essays, he uses his own books as examples of some of the points he makes (character building, voice, point of view, among others), understandably, as he can discuss his intentions and how they relate to the technique he used, rather than assume what other authors were trying to do. This creates two issues. I’ve read some comments that would indicate he might come across as self-aggrandizing, arrogant and full of himself, although reading the rest of the articles makes quite clear that that is far from the truth. The other issue is that the comparisons and examples might not be as clear for readers who are not familiar with his work (although he does mention other writers often). I must admit that living in the UK, although I studied American Literature years back, I am not familiar with his work, and checking Amazon.co.uk, this is the only one of his books I could easily find. Even in Amazon.com most of his books are only available in paperback or hardback. But many of his comments about drafts, editing, working as a journalist, and his compelling defence of storytelling and the importance of finding a story that captures the reader’s (and of course, first the writer’s) imagination can be enjoyed and savoured without direct knowledge of Johnson’s fiction.

The author is an exacting and hardworking writer and thinker and he expresses strong opinions about what literature should be like. His is the world of literary fiction, and literature and stories used to explore and explain philosophical insights, of traditional publishing and paper books. He does mention pork literature or industrial literature and acknowledges that some writers make a living by writing genre fiction (although he does not mention it by name or discusses it in any details) but that is not what he’s interested in. I could not help but think about the self-publishing movement and the writers who embrace it, who will also find much to enjoy in the book but, like many other writers will feel very differently about some of the topics. Charles Johnson mentions a couple of times that he did not himself study a degree in creative writing (his method is more like an apprenticeship, and it reminded me of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography and his account of his self-education and dedication to learning, although with a very different goal in mind) and says that those degrees do not exist in Europe (they do, so I’m not sure all the essays are up-to-date). He acknowledges changes in standards and interests in the student body, and how he’s had to adapt his reading list to such changes so they remain relevant.

The author uses wonderful quotes from great writers and philosophers to illustrate his thoughts and make some points. I had to stop highlighting the text as there was hardly anything left without colour on the page, and this is one of those books eminently quotable and that will keep readers going back for second helpings.

This collection of writings by Charles Johnson is likely to make anybody interested in books and writing think and reflect. Some of the advice might be easier to apply than other, depending on the style of writing and the intentions of those reading it, but many of his reflections and thoughts will resonate and inspire most of us, and who would dispute the importance of storytelling?

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Way-Writer-Reflections-Craft-Storytelling/dp/1501147226/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Way-Writer-Reflections-Craft-Storytelling/dp/1501147226/

Thanks to Net Galley and to Scribner for offering me a copy of the book and thanks to Charles Johnson for sharing his career with us, thanks to all of you for reading, and if you feel so inclined, like, share, comment and CLICK.

Olga Núñez Miret

http://www.authortranslator.olga

Halfway (Aspiration for Deliverance #1) #BookReview

  • Title: Halfway (Aspiration for Deliverance #1)51ybqthmpxl
  • Author: Lokesh Sharma
  • File Size: 618KB
  • Print Length: 130
  • Publication Date: February 1, 2017
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01N4ULEWY
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Synopsis:

A few hundred people wake up in an auditorium with no memory of their past, scared and confused, struggling to remember who they are and how they got here. A voice draws their attention to the person standing on the podium, impeccably dressed, an air of calm confidence about him that suggests he has the answers to all their questions. As he starts explaining the situation, they slowly begin to realize they are in a futuristic realm called Enigma, where dead humans are reborn and brought to trials for the crimes they committed in their human-lives…

Review:

I have to say good going on this one. I honestly don’t know where to begin. This will be a short review because I can’t really say much about the story…I’d hate to give it away. The characters are basically living in purgatory—a city called Enigma. When the humans die, they’re reborn, so to speak, to be tried for the crimes they committed in their human life.

Halfway was absolutely nothing like I expected. But, then again, I wasn’t exactly sure what I expected. It did take a little bit for me to get into at first, but I soon found myself drawn deep into the story. The characters were three-dimensional, the plot first-rate. I found the idea of the storyline quite intriguing and original.

I recommend this book.

Overall rating: 4 of 5 stars

Biography

Lokesh Sharma

Lokesh Sharma grew up reading books and watching movies—a little too much for his parents’ taste. He spent his childhood in a small town about 150 Kms from New Delhi. Having finished his studies, he moved to The Heart of India in 2010, where he worked for a reputed American-based Bank for about three years, until he came up with the idea for his debut novel and decided to put it into words. Aside from lots of reading and a little bit of writing, he likes travelling, shopping, and listening to music.

What To Leave Behind?

Should we be thinking about money when we write? This is one of those questions that scribblers like to ponder, and occasionally have heated debates about. Are we writing for the love of writing, or to earn a living? Certainly not everyone who writes fiction is going to be able to live off the proceeds. If that was the case the whole world would be reclining under an oak, holding forth to their readers and sipping absinthe. No. There is a small percentage of the planet’s population who can be considered career writers of stories, who have their scribbles pay for their homes and vittles without them having to go without. The rest depend on various things. Luck and being visible in the right place at the right time are pretty massive factors in whether or not some really genius and gifted writers ever get their amazing books read by more than their aunty and the barman. So, apart from money, what do we want to do with our writing? I mean, REALLY apart from money. I am quite serious about wanting to leave a little legacy behind. I hope to leave a scribble or two that will help, inspire, or just bring a smile to the dial of some future reader when this old bod has turned to dust and I’m swanning around with angels and Pratchetts on clouds. What scribbles would you like to leave behind that would make your future discorporeal self proud? Do you even want anyone to have access to your books when you’re gone?

We all leave footprints behind after departing this mortal coil, regardless of what we do for a living, for fun, or for no reason at all. Most people leave behind a Will with instructions as to how whatever bits we leave behind is to be divided up, and with a bit of luck during our life we have the foresight to ensure that if we were to suddenly expire, there would not be anything overly disturbing for our nearest and dearest to discover. So, apart from occasionally cleaning out our drawers and upgrading our undies, as published Indie authors we should consider the legacy we want to leave behind as well as how the spoils will be divided. I’m not going to go into the legal nitty gritty here. I suggest that you read up on it from the experts. What I do suggest though, is a little bit of thought about your actual written legacy. Your published books, blog articles, every little old thing you’ve ever posted online will hang around somewhere after you’ve moved on to that forever-after fabulous literary drinks festival waiting for you in the sky.

Writing is generally a solitary pursuit, and often some of those who are drawn to writing are solitary in every possible way. No known next of kin, or perhaps none that they particularly want to be known to. Few friends, or none in “real life”. What happens to those scribbler’s books when they die without a will? When nobody knows that they are indeed dead? When they peer over their bottomless Bellini from fluffy clouds up above, will they be happy with the way they’ve left their tales for posterity? If you don’t have any family or friends to leave your work to, even if your royalty payments never break two figure monthly payouts, should you just leave your books to fade gradually into the deepest bowels of Amazon, to be lost and finally forgotten, only ever to be seen again by accident?

That is of course entirely up to you. What I suggest is at least leaving a trail behind. Who knows, even though you won’t be physically able to participate, you might enjoy the belated readership in the spirit, so to speak. Get yourself a book. Write down user names and passwords to all of your online publishing platforms. While you’re at it, write down the same for all your social networking sites. Write down your wishes for your published books. Do you want them to be unpublished when you die? Do you want their copyrights to be given to a person or an institution? Find out where to leave these things and make it easy for whoever is left behind, rather than have them scratching their heads, or worse, giving up at the first weird form letter they get in response to their query about accessing your publishing platform.

So while I’m not going into the legal bits here, they are pretty easy to find out about online, I am encouraging all of you to consider what you’d like to leave behind. Forget about making a dollar for a moment, and consider what bits of “you” you’d like to stay here. Inspiration, instruction, laughter, excitement, all of these things are worthwhile contributions to humankind. Your books will lurk in Kindles long after you’ve zoomed on to your mansion in the sky, so while money is rather nice to have while you’re here, love floating up through the ether is probably a nicer thing to invest in for all eternity. Tweak bits. Insert bits. Forget about the rent and write for the love of writing. And while you’re at it, leave something wonderful behind, and finally remember to make sure it’s not too difficult to stumble upon.

Reading a BookImage Courtesy: Pixabay

#Bookreview and #mini-interview ‘what if I got down on my knees’ by Tony Rauch. For readers who enjoy short-stories, love language and the unusual.

what if I got down on my knees by Tony Rauch
what if I got down on my knees by Tony Rauch

Sorry I haven’t been around much recently, but today I bring you a review and the author, Tony Rauch, has also agreed to answer a few questions, so we have a double feature, a review and a mini-interview.

Title:   what if I got down on my knees
Author:   Tony Rauch
ISBN:  098293355X

ISBN13:  978-0982933558
ASIN:  B00YNR6HBM
Published:  Whistling Shade Press; 1 edition (May 31, 2015)
Pages:  189
Genre:  Literary Fiction/Short stories

Description:

what if i got down on my knees? presents romantic misadventures and entanglements of absurd, whimsical, existential longing, featuring discovery, secrets, identity, escape, strange happenings, endurance, regret, and hope. The stories are little postcards from the lonely regions of the human heart.

These tales of wonder are about people trying to find meaning and a place in an indifferent world, and their discoveries, revelations, secrets, failures, struggles, connections, and odd encounters along the way—

—two unemployed men steal dogs and run them through buildings around town.
—a man goes on what turns into the worst date in recorded history.
—you are asked to baby-sit for a neighbor, only to find a giant baby waiting for you.
—a man comes home to find his entire yard and home paved over by a long lost rival.
—a clerk at a used record store finds a man has passed away on one of the couches.
—some young adults go into the basement to get sad, in order to impress girls.
—a stranger extracts a baby from a man waiting for the bus.

With themes of longing, fragility, uncertainty, impermanence, regret, the mysteries hidden in everyday life, discovery, ennui, loneliness, irresponsible behavior, confusion, change, identity, and absurd situations, Tony Rauch is a worthy successor to the artistry and absurdism of Donald Barthelme and Steve Martin.

 Body of review:

I received a copy of this novel from the author and I voluntarily review it for Lit World Interviews.

Short stories are an acquired taste. We might think a short read is perfect because we are always rushing and don’t have a lot of time, but sometimes we might feel disappointed when the story ends and we’ve invested time and, in the best of cases, emotions only to have to get to know some new characters after a few pages. Of course, not all short stories are born equal. And this collection of short stories by Tony Rauch proves the point.

Some of the short stories in this collection are whimsical (surreal) and might leave you scratching your head (or looking up to the sky searching for… No spoilers) , some are vignettes illustrating the lives of people who might appear content with their lives at a superficial level, but whose thoughts and worries run deeper than it seems, many are about lonely people wondering about others and trying to connect (in some occasions with hilarious consequences), some are about pretending to be something or somebody else, about growing up, about growing old, about moving on or remembering the past…

The quality of the writing is superb, and the first person narratives cleverly capture the speech and rhythms of the characters, who sometimes are talking to others, sometimes conducting an internal monologue with themselves, or even writing a story. From young kids trying to impress their friends to old men dying, from people contemplating a new relationship to others letting go, these few pages run the whole gamut of experiences and emotions.

To give you some examples:

His skin appeared two sizes too tight for his body, stiff and washed out, like he’d gotten it secondhand, or found it in an alley late at night.

His suit is mythical—straight, lean, long, pure, giving, musical, thoughtful, caring, dynamic, cosmopolitan, unselfish, strong, industrious, and nostalgic for his mother, her peanut butter cookies, and snowy Christmas mornings.

“And what would someone do with a dream of mine? Where would you keep it?”

“I’d stretch it out to create a sail, and then use it to float off to who knows where,” I advise.

 Some of the stories are nostalgic and melancholy, but there are great comedic moments, ranging from slapstick to joyful turns of phrase (and oh, a so very satisfying revenge story).  Another example I highlighted:

Eventually, he turned up in over 3000 cans of a popular brand of tuna. A horrible fate to be sure, and amplified by the fact that the guy was notoriously reputed to detest tuna.

I won’t tell you which stories I liked the most as I’d find it difficult. I checked the reviews, and on reading the comments when the reviewers mentioned a story or another I’d agree with them. So… Just go and read them and enjoy their variety.

 What the book is about: Many things: growing up, life, dreams, realities, loneliness, relationships, friendship, revenge, writing…

 Book Highlights: The quality of the writing and the very distinct characters and voices. The whimsical sense of humour.

 Challenges of the book: Sometimes with the electronic version I wasn’t clear when I had moved from one story to another. The titles of the individual stories and the different parts weren’t always easy to tell apart.

Although the book is not long, I think it is best taken slowly and savouring the quality of the writing, rather than rushing to get to the end of the story. It is not a book to be read in a hurry.

 What do you get from it: Beautiful writing, stories that make you think and a few laughs.

 What I would have changed if anything: As I mentioned perhaps change the size of the titles or the formatting (in the digital version) to make the divisions clearer.

 Who Would I recommend this book to?: To readers who enjoy language and a mood more than heavily plotted stories (although there are some great ones too). And to writers who are considering writing short stories, or just keen on exploring the many ways characterization works.

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

Buy it at:  
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $12 

Kindle: $3.22 

Author Tony Rauch
Author Tony Rauch

And now, I asked a few questions to the author:

People have less and less time these days and short forms of writing are becoming more and more popular. From flash-fiction to microfiction and even stories told in Tweets, it’s all about brevity. Of course, the short story has a long tradition, but what is for you a short story? And what makes it (so far) your preferred choice when writing? –

For me a short story is anything that conveys a feeling, or an event, or that sets up an event that may then spring forward. It does not have to have a beginning or an ending. I like story starters, that is a written piece that poses a situation or premise, and then you have to imagine various outcomes. But the premise is so interesting it creates that zing in your brain and gets you thinking. That to me is a good story: anything that kick-starts that zing in your imagination and gets you thinking on a different track or about various possibilities.

I prefer the short form because I don’t need a lot of useless background info that longer work sometimes gets bogged down in. I don’t have a lot of free time, so the short form is good for getting ideas down. I have a lot of different ideas, so the short form works well in sorting them into more organized paradigms.

Tony Rauch in action
Tony Rauch in action

Who are your favourite writers, in general, and writers of short stories (if they aren’t the same ones)? Why? What have you learned from them? –

Favorite authors, influences: Anyone interesting, imaginative, and concise. Anyone who makes you think.

Mostly I like short stories as they get to the point quickly. The books that really inspired me are mostly imaginative story collections because they were exciting and new and you never knew what was going to happen next in them. Also, they were brief, which made them memorable and easily digestible.

I like strange or absurd adventures that are well crafted and have a meaning to them, and sci fi as it offers ideas. Reading these types of writers is like taking mini adventures that I could not experience otherwise in the limitations of my actual life –

Older writers:

Donald Barthelme, J.D. Salinger, Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Charles Bukowski, Leonard Michaels (murderers), Mark Twain, James Thurber, Antoine de Saint Exupery (the little prince), Dr. Seuss (cool illustrations), Roald Dahl, Steve Martin (cruel shoes), W.P. Kinsella (the alligator report), Jim Heynen (the man who kept cigars in his cap), Don Delillo.

Contemporary writers:

Barry Yourgrau, Mark Leyner, Adrienne Clasky (from the floodlands), Lydia Davis (Samuel Johnson is indignant), Etgar Keret, Stacey Richter, George Singleton, James Tate (Return to the city of white donkeys), Thom Jones, Italo Calvino, Stephen-Paul Martin, Will Self, Denis Johnson (Jesus’ son), David Gilbert (I shot the hairdresser), David Sedaris, Paul Di Filippo, D. Harlan Wilson, Andersen Prunty.

Science fiction from the 40s, 50s, and 60s:

Rod Serling, L. Sprague De Camp, Ray Bradbury, Phillip K. Dick, Aurthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Charles Beaumont, Ursula K. Le Guin, Douglas Adams (an 80’s writer), etc.

Author Tony Rauch trying to grab the intangible
Author Tony Rauch trying to grab the intangible

Many writers read this blog. I subscribe to the advice that one should read in order to improve one’s writing. I know it will be a difficult choice, but any stories in particular that have had an impact on you or have increased your understanding of the form? 

Yes, many – see the list of authors above. One thing I look for is that buzz or zing when they convey a feeling or present something I hadn’t ever seen before. For example, I like that F. Scott Fitzgerald story “Winter dreams” because in it the character changes, or his feelings for someone changes. I like that arc, that sense of change the character goes through in a story. That story presents a loss, and the character’s feelings about that change and loss.

Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?

Yes, it is:  https://trauch.wordpress.com/

You can find book information and story samples on that bad boy of rock and roll.

If you know of any good publishers looking for arty story collections, please let them know about me. I’m always looking for good publishers. A lot of places don’t publish single author story collections.

Thank you for your time.

Thanks very much to Tony Rauch for his book and for answering my questions, thanks to you  for reading, and don’t forget to like, share, comment, and CLICK!

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

 

 

Cradle of Crime #BookReview

  • Title: Cradle of Crime511xfj2yzjl-_sx331_bo1204203200_
  • Author: Luellen Smiley
  • Print Length: 264
  • Publication Date: November 19, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Paperback, Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Memoir, True Crime, Non Fiction

We all have a past, and we know our parents had a life before us. But what if we come to realize that one of our parents had affiliations with the mob? That’s something hard to imagine, even if you are the daughter of Allen Smiley, a friend of the infamous Bugsy Siegel.

Luellen Smiley grew up in both admiration and fear of her father, Allen. He was an overly protective and a stern man with many, many secrets in his closet. She loved her father but didn’t know him. She feared her father but didn’t know the reason why. Ten years after the death of Allen Smiley, Luellen begins to unravel, feeling severe unease and anxiety about herself and her father until she finally breaks. While many would choose to try and ignore it and move on with their life, Luellen embarks on a quest to understand the reason for her pain. She takes to government surveillance records, newspaper articles, court testimony, classified FBI documents, interviews and conversations with relatives in order to learn all she could possibly know about her father and about her heritage.

I found some of the scenes to be very short and sometimes confusing, so I needed to reread. I could think of a few ways to rewrite it in order to make the tale flow more smoothly, but it’s possible Luellen had her reasoning, unbeknownst to me of why she kept the scenes so brief. The dialogue was engaging, and she’d obviously done her research in bringing the past back to life. She wrote the prose in a way that made you want to turn the next page and find out what happened next. Who was this guy, Allen Smiley? How could he manage to keep all these dark secrets?

My main issue is the reason the story is a four star and not a five (actually, I’d give 3.5 stars for this, but only full stars are allowed, and the story is too intriguing for a measly three). Throughout the prose, there were so many grammatical and punctuation errors as though it hadn’t been edited after written. If I didn’t care to learn about what it was like to be brought up unknowingly in a mobster world, I’d have set it down. However, that wasn’t the case. The story had me too intrigued and I wanted to meet the ending.

If you enjoy all types of gangster-related stories, particularly the true ones, I’d highly recommend Cradle of Crime.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

*Read more reviews at: https://angelakaysbooks.com/book-reviews/*

About the Author

Luellen Smiley was the daughter of Allen Smiley—Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s best friend and business partner. Her upbringing within the Mafia family breaks through a long-standing stigma about the organization and its members. She wants the world to know that they started as defenders of their neighborhoods—not trigger-happy murderers.

Ten years after her father’s death, she evolved into a gangster authority through researching thousands of classified FBI and Department of Justice documents and interviews and conversations with relatives, ex–mob guys, and authors.

Luellen is an award-winning newspaper columnist who has written for publications such as the NY Post and MORE Magazine.

#BookReview of Forbidden by F. Stone.

Forbidden Book Cover Image4_stars_goldBook Description

Captain Sharif’s police compound has been breached. Fifteen Americans murdered. CIA agent Frank Hutchinson has proof the cop is lying and has him in his crosshairs, eager to exact revenge. Captain Sharif must please his corrupt superiors; and yet see justice served, and abide by the Koran. He’s in hell, with no way to escape – either be buried alive or suffer Allah’s wrath. In the balance hangs the life of Eliza MacKay, witness to the massacre. He’s drawn to her courage and discovers her ‘take no shit’ personality warrants respect. Even so, her struggle with PTSD may get both of them killed. Desperate, Sharif initiates an act more forbidden and fatal.

Forbidden Banner Image

Book Review

One thing about Forbidden by F. Stone you need to know is that it’s set in the year 2047 and the Muslim countries in the Middle East with a few exceptions have formed into one large nation. I think of it like the old Soviet Union. Iraq is the center of power and that’s where this story takes place.

You quickly forget about the future setting because everything in the story is still very much present day except for the political setting, which doesn’t play a huge part in the story.

I really liked the book. There were definite elements that needed to be handled well, especially with CAPTAIN SHARIF’S faith. The author has obviously done her homework and that shows up primarily around how Sharif handles his interactions with ELIZA MACKAY.

But enough about that. This book is action from the beginning to end. A great who is doing what to whom. I’m pretty good at figuring things out but was surprised in the end about who was not involved in the murdering of the 15 Americans.

The writing is fast paced and I read it in a day because of not wanting to put it down. Throw in the romance elements and you have a well balanced story that gives you a chance to breathe between the action moments. The romance part isn’t overplayed and doesn’t detract from the story at all.

MacKay’s traumatic history and PTSD are used to great effect in the relationship between her and Sharif. Some of it is a little unexpected but overall I think it was exactly the way it should have been.

I recommend the book for thrill seekers and action junkies.

Book Review by Ronovan.

Get FORBIDDEN on AMAZON by clicking HERE.

How to Format Bullet Size

Microsoft Word is powerful software and generally the Indie author’s friend, but sometimes its intuitive automatic tweaking can cause headaches that can take days to get to the bottom of, and at other times lead to giving up on certain looks we want for our books altogether. Non-fiction books in particular regularly have bullet lists in them, and if you have lots of bulleted lists in any particular book you can end up with dodgy margins, among other unattractive changes.

It’s common knowledge among self-publishing authors that Word generated bullet lists and Kindle books are not the best of friends. The easiest ways around this are to either to manually insert bullet symbols at the beginnings of each sentence of the list, or to create the lists as images in software built for the purpose, or to use Canva or some similar online image creation site. Here’s an example of using a screenshot of a list as an image.

bullet-list-from-screenshot-paintnet
We can be much more creative with our POD paperback books  than with the limitations Kindle books give us because once the fonts are embedded, and the manuscript is saved to PDF, what you see there is locked in and will appear that way in your print book. Sometimes with bullets though, Word itself gets creative in ways that are hard to fathom or change. For instance, certain bullets mysteriously change size, leaving your lists looking patchy and irregular. There is no obvious place to change them no matter how deeply you dig into your formatting ribbons. Luckily there are ways, not only to change or regulate your bullet sizes without at all affecting text size, but also to get creative and add personalised-particularly-for-your-book bullets. Once they’re embedded in the PDF file, they will appear beautifully in your paper book. Here’s how you do it.

Firstly, to change bullet size without changing text size, simply use the Show/Hide function (Click on pilcrow emblem in the Home ribbon ¶ and these will appear where formatting is used in your manuscript). Next Highlight ONLY the pilcrow sign at the end of each item in the bullet list one at a time and change the font size bigger or smaller. This will change the size of the bullet only while leaving the text font size the same.

activate-pilcrow-to-change-size
For a bit of fun, why not try making your own bullets. Firstly apply a bullet to the page and then right click on it. From the dropdown menu select Define New Bullet from the Bullet Menu. Choose Symbol or Font, or for your own personalised bullet, choose Picture and browse your computer for an image, load it up and there you have it!

define-new-bullet-1define-new-bullet-2
If it’s too small use the above process to enlarge your bullet picture without making the text to large at the same time. This way you can make your non-fiction print books wonderfully individual to you or your book’s topic.

format-bullet-size

Next EMBED and Print to PDF for upload to your POD platform.

print-to-pdf-for-upload-to-print-platform

The Battered Wife and Her Five Little Kids All Dressed in White #Bookreview

  • Title: The Battered Wife and Her Five Little Kids All Dressed in WhiteThe Battered Wife and Her Five Little Kids All Dressed In White: A True Story by [Garrigues, George]
  • Author: George Garrigue
  • Print Length: 138
  • Publisher: Quail Creek Press
  • Publication Date: September 21, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: True Crime, Criminal Procedure

Synopsis:

It was pitch dark outside a stately New Jersey mansion early in the morning of Tuesday, July 11, 1916. Inside, a man’s body lay on the floor. His wife held a smoking gun.

Two little girls crept from their bed and clung to their mother. She arose with the revolver carefully pointed away from them, and then, in fright, threw it down. She sank back and wept. The six-year-old ran to soak a towel in water from the sink and returned to bathe her mother’s face. The servants came.

Was it murder or self-defense?

This true story is told as almost everybody learned it at that time — through the actual printed newspaper reports, day after day as the tale unfolded. It is a unique way to look at this gripping drama of not so long ago.

My Review:

This has prospect for being a five-star book. The reason I rate it three stars is because it was mostly a compilation of old newspaper clippings with a brief narrative thrown in here and there.

Yes, it is a true crime story, which makes it hard to write. As I began to read, I’d expected a little more of a narrative than who said what at what time, especially with Mr. Garrigues being a longtime journalist. For someone that hasn’t lived in that era, and loves to disappear in those times, I’d hoped for more of a painted picture of the times and the scene of the crime.

George Garrigues provided a slight background of the troubled family life. With each instant of the murder to the trial, he provides the dates as well as the magazine articles he got the information from. In the end of the story, he offers his own opinion of what really happened in 1916 when a wife murdered her wealthy, extremely abusive husband. He also provides “where they are now” as movies tend to do, which proved to be interesting.

When I first saw the name of the book, I wasn’t too crazy about the title. However, when I reconsidered, I decided that I loved the title.

Overall Rate: 3 out of 5 stars

Biography

George Garrigues

George Garrigues has been a journalist since he his brother, Charles Samuel Garrigues, put together a hand-printed “newspaper,” to send to their absent father in a distant city. Later, the said absent father wangled a job for George as a oopyboy on the San Francisco Examiner, at the age of 15, and they worked together in the same newsroom. the father on the copy desk, and the son on the copy bench, which is where all the copyboys sat.

George wrote a book about his father, “He Usually Lived With a Female,” which is now out of print, but you can still buy it very cheaply on Amazon.com.

George was a reporter on the Inglewood Daily News, Ontario (California) Daily Report, and Los Angeles Times. He later was a journalism professor at several universities. He worked in public relations for the State of California (San Francisco and Sacramento) and the International Labor Office (Geneva, Switzerland).

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Spotlight on Indie Author @AngelaKaysBooks. The Murder of Manny Grimes.

Today’s Spotlight Author is our very own Angela Kay! A new Indie Author as well as one of our busiest book reviewers here at LWI.
angela-kay
1. How did you come up with the idea for your novel the Murder of Manny Grimes?
I started writing it during my final semester of college. I was taking a writing course where we were to write the first thirty pages of a novel. I didn’t really have an inspiration strike…I just started writing and the plot seemed to unfold. My professor and students alike 8-the-murder-of-manny-grimes-coverloved the beginning of the story. Because of my passion of writing, I continued the first draft with the hopes of getting it published one day.

2. For aspiring writers out there, tell us how long it took you from idea to publishing your novel? Tell us about the process of how it all came about.

It took me seven years to perfect it. I finished the first draft in a year. I was excited because it was the first full length novel I finished. For the most part, I’d only written short stories. After that, I began to edit my book, and it was a major headache. I must have changed the direction of the story three or four times. I took a lot of breaks from it…more than I should have. Finally, by the many rocks God tossed my way, I finished my final draft. And just as I finished, I came across an awesome editor who didn’t mind fixing a few kinks. I played around with the idea of submitting my completed novel to a bunch of agents, but the truth is, it’s a dog eat dog world out there. I didn’t have patience for a bunch of no’s. Even when I was ready to send it off, I was hard on myself about whether it’s good or not. After considering my options, I went the route of starting as an Indie author. My publisher is a long time friend of a friend, so I trusted him. After I got my beloved books in my hands, I knew I did the right thing.

3. What kind of research did you do for the novel?

The setting used to take place in New York, but someone a long time ago told me it sounds as though it’s in Augusta, Ga (where I currently reside). That got me a bit worried because the setting relies a lot on the aftermath of a bad snowstorm. I mean, it is the south, where we hardly see one flake. I went online to see whether it was possible (although I knew it’d be okay since it’s fiction and anything was possible). I was glad to find that in 1973 we were hit with sixteen inches of snow. Although it was a long time, it satisfied me. The other researching I did was try and get the investigation as close to real as possible. I spoke to several police officers, primarily lieutenants, since  my main character is a lieutenant. They were kind enough to answer any and all questions.

4. When I read a book I sometimes like to have a visual of characters. What actors would play your main characters in a movie?

Lt. Jim DeLong: Michael Fassbender. He’s a little older than DeLong, but I think he’d be good for it.
Russ Calhoun: Possibly Dean Winters
5. What are you working on now?
I’m currently editing the sequel to “Manny Grimes,” and plan to release it in a few months. I also have an FBI thriller ready to be edited and another book I’ve almost completed. I’m only doing suspense now, however, I’m starting to dabble with a bit of romance–I already have an idea for a saga.

6. I know you edit the work of other authors, how can people contact you for your services?

7. What do you think is the one thing that drives your main character to do what he does?
Lieutenant Jim DeLong is passion-driven. I think when he gets something in his mind, he can’t seem to let it go. It’s also somewhat of a release while he’s dealing with personal issues outside of work.

8. If you could’ve written any other book than your own, what would it be and why?
Probably “Pride and Prejudice.” I love that book so much. It’s in a complete different era and I get swept away in the character’s lives.

mark-and-krystinaIs there a way people can get an autographed copy of your book?

Sure! They can email me for more information at angelakaysbooks@gmail.com. I sell signed copies of my book for $14 even. That includes shipping and handling. You can check out my book by clicking on these links: Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Like me on Facebook: Angela Kay’s Books

To learn how to receive a FREE PDF copy of The Murder of Manny Grimes, click HERE!

Reviews Needed For My Debut Novel!

My debut novel, The Murder of Manny Grimes, came out September 20, 2016. As you can expect, as someone who wanted to be an author ever since she could hold a pen, I was exhilarated.

I’m currently working on the sequel to Manny Grimes and plan on sending it to my publisher within the next few months. I’m also in the process of completing a few more works. Writing certainly keeps me busy! Happily, so.

Anyway, Manny Grimes has nine reviews on Amazon (two 4 stars and seven 5 stars). I’m in the search for some more honest reviews. So, if you’re interested in reviewing my debut novel, feel free to contact me at angelakaysbooks @ gmail .com. For the FIRST TEN inquirers, I will send you a free pdf copy.

Here is the synopsis of my suspense/thriller:

When three young boys stumble into Lieutenant Jim DeLong’s8-the-murder-of-manny-grimes-cover life one night during a winter storm, they claim they’ve seen a dead body by the swing sets of the Columbia County Elementary School. After he investigates, DeLong sees no evidence, not even a body.

But were the boys telling the truth?

With the help of his oldest friend and mentor, former Naval investigator Russ Calhoun, DeLong sets out to find whether Manny Grimes is alive or dead. The further away he gets to the bottom of the mystery, the closer he comes to realize that his own life is falling apart.

Delving deeper into the murder of Manny Grimes, Lieutenant DeLong begins to unravel, losing his sense of control, falling into old temptations he spent years to overcome.

Will he be able to move past his own demons and untangle the web of lies before it’s too late?

A few notes of the contents: It’s clean writing, meaning no sex or bad language…it’s at the most hinted.  There is a touch of paranormal to the story, but not overly so.

Thanks and happy reading! I would also appreciate it very much if you’d support me by liking my FB page and/or following me on Twitter! The links are down below.

Angela Kay

Like me on Facebook: Angela Kay’s Books
Follow me on Twitter: @angelakaysbooks

Poet of the Wrong Generation #BookReview

  • Title: Poet of the Wrong Generation
  • Author: Lonnie Ostrow
  • Print Length: 455
  • Publication Date: November 10, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult

My Review:

I was surprised to find that I loved everything about this book–from the cover to the prose. The storyline was engrossing, the characters extremely well-developed, the dialogue superb…well, Poet of the Wrong Generation is a book you have to read when you have no pressing matters to attend to because it’s that hard to put down.

We open with a prologue to the present. Johnny Elias is staring into a photograph taking himself back into a time when life was good and carefree. He was in love, had friends, he had happiness. And now, because of the things happened since then, he’s feeling regret. Don’t we all when we start feeling that nostalgia?

After we’re through we the prologue, the next time we see Johnny is back in time in 1991. He joins Megan Price, the girl he loves, and their friends at a concert in Central Park. However, soon after, everything changes. Feeling heartbroken and betrayed, he begins doing what a lot of real people do in these kinds of situations: a writes down his feelings. But these aren’t just words. They’re magical poetry from the heart. Johnny ends up turning his writing to music and falls into success and fame.

This was a truly amazing novel. I can see it becoming a summer series or even a mini-series on the Hallmark channel. But at the same time, perhaps they better not touch this story. After all, bringing stories to live, especially on network television, it just may ruin this beautiful creation of Lonnie Ostrow’s.

If you want a book complete with twists and turns, pick up Poet of the Wrong Generation. If you want a book with star-crossed lovers, pick up Poet of the Wrong Generation. If you want a book that tugs at your heartstrings in every way, pick up Poet of the Wrong Generation. It’s well worth the time it takes to read. I highly recommend this pleasure of a book.

Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

Lonnie Ostrow
Biography

Lonnie Ostrow has been an innovator, storyteller, promoter and celebrity-insider for more than two decades. With Poet Of The Wrong Generation, he combines all his unique experiences to bring you a novel of love & betrayal, music & fanfare, downfall & redemption — a fable of stardom’s rewards, set in New York City during the 1990s. It’s been hailed as “the ultimate rock & roll love story.” Since 2001, Mr. Ostrow has been the publicity/marketing director & researcher for the iconic best-selling novelist Barbara T. Bradford. He also serves as an editorial and marketing consultant for a collection of first-time authors through The Editorial Department in Tucson, AZ. Previously he served as a PR executive, promoting an assortment of first-time celebrity authors including Ray Manzarek of The Doors.

From 1995 – 2001, Mr. Ostrow was widely credited with inventing the “living celebrity postal phenomenon.” In all, he worked with more than 40 legendary personalities from the Bee Gees to Bob Dylan, Sylvester Stallone to Jackie Chan, creating media events to celebrate their postal recognition by an assortment of foreign nations.

Ostrow’s first publication, Titanic, A Postal Collection, was published in 1998.

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Hell Holes: Demon on the Dalton #BookReview

  • Title: Hell Holes: Demons on the DaltonHell Holes: Demons on the Dalton by [Firesmith, Donald]
  • Author: Donald Firesmith
  • Print Length: 202
  • Publication Date: May 15, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Science Fiction

From the Author:

When huge holes mysteriously formed in Alaska’s North Slope, a research team went to discover their cause. But when an army of invading demons erupted out of these hell holes, only two scientists and Aileen, the team’s secretive photographer, survived. Now in this exciting second book in the Hell Holes series, they must flee south along 350 miles of the Dalton Highway, one of the world’s most treacherous roads. Aileen, a member of an ancient order charged with defending humanity from Hell, must save the two scientists, but who will save her?

My Review:

Hell Holes: Demons on the Dalton is volume two of What Lurks Below. It’s another action/adventure written by Donald Firesmith. This time, we’re in Dr. Angela Menendez’s (Dr. Jack Oswald’s wife) point of view. She picks up where we left off in volume one. Oswald and his team are desperately trying to escape the demons that are set on pursuing them.

The character development was a bit lacking. There were not a whole lot of conflict as I’d imagined there would be. After all, stress and fear make even the nicest person a tiny bit snippy, and I saw none of that in the story. However, I was eager enough to see what would happen next to not worry about the lack of character conflicts. There was enough nail biting and plenty of surprises to keep me wholly satisfied as I read. The ending was left as though a continuation could come into play. Or possibly it’s left for our imagination to work out. We’ll see what Firesmith has in store for us next.

Overall Rate: 4 out of 5 stars

Donald G. Firesmith

Biography

Donald Firesmith is an ACM Distinguished Engineer who works at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), where he helps the United States Military and other Governmental Agencies acquire large and complex software-reliant systems. He has 34 years of experience in both commercial and governmental software and systems development in numerous application domains that range from software applications and management information systems to embedded aviation and space systems. His primary areas of expertise include requirements engineering, system and software architecture engineering, object-oriented development, testing, quality engineering, and process improvement including situational method engineering.
Donald Firesmith has published dozens of technical articles, spoken at numerous international conferences, and has been the program chair or on the program committee of multiple conferences and workshops. He has taught several hundred courses in industry and numerous tutorials at conferences. These articles, presentations, and conference papers can be downloaded from his personal website. He is the developer of the OPEN Process Framework (OPF) Repository, the world’s largest free open-source website documenting over 1,100 reusable system/software development method components.To relax, he writes fantasy and science fiction books and crafts magical wands as a hobby.LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=1955172
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Firesmith
OPFRO website: http://www.opfro.org
Personal website: http://donald.firesmith.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/don.firesmith
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DonFiresmith
Feuerschmied’s Wand Shoppe: http://magicalwandshoppe.com

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Hell Holes: What Lurks Below #BookReview

  • Title: Hell Holes: What Lurks BelowHell Holes: What Lurks Below by [Firesmith, Donald]
  • Author: Donald Firesmith
  • Print Length: 191
  • Publication Date: August 5, 2015
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Science Fiction

From the Author:

It’s August in Alaska, and geology professor Jack Oswald prepares for the new school year. But when hundreds of huge holes mysteriously appear overnight in the frozen tundra north of the Arctic Circle, Jack receives an unexpected phone call. An oil company exec hires Jack to investigate, and he picks his climatologist wife and two of their graduate students as his team. Uncharacteristically, Jack also lets Aileen O’Shannon, a bewitchingly beautiful young photojournalist, talk him into coming along as their photographer. When they arrive in the remote oil town of Deadhorse, the exec and a biologist to protect them from wild animals join the team. Their task: to assess the risk of more holes opening under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the wells and pipelines that feed it. But they discover a far worse danger lurks below. When it emerges, it threatens to shatter Jack’s unshakable faith in science. And destroy us all…

My Review:

Hell Holes: What Lurks Below is a quick, enjoyable novella. Donald Firesmith shows his talent in mixing real science with fiction.

We are looking into Dr. Jack Oswald’s point of view for this narrative. Once the premise of the story gets started, it moves at a fast pace and I was able to finish it the same day I started. The book is shorter than you’re lead to believe. After the major cliffhanger at the ending, we’re fed information about the characters, author bio and what volume two is about.

Despite the typos and run-on sentences, I quite enjoyed reading the story. However, if you really cannot stand major cliffhangers, I’d recommend against reading this story, because it is a whopper. Some people enjoy the urge to continue the plot, others don’t. Fear not, though: volume 2 is already out and waiting for you to pick up and continue the story. After all, it was a fun page-turner, leaving you enticed for more.

Overall Rate: 4 out of 5 stars

Donald G. Firesmith

Biography

Donald Firesmith is an ACM Distinguished Engineer who works at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), where he helps the United States Military and other Governmental Agencies acquire large and complex software-reliant systems. He has 34 years of experience in both commercial and governmental software and systems development in numerous application domains that range from software applications and management information systems to embedded aviation and space systems. His primary areas of expertise include requirements engineering, system and software architecture engineering, object-oriented development, testing, quality engineering, and process improvement including situational method engineering.
Donald Firesmith has published dozens of technical articles, spoken at numerous international conferences, and has been the program chair or on the program committee of multiple conferences and workshops. He has taught several hundred courses in industry and numerous tutorials at conferences. These articles, presentations, and conference papers can be downloaded from his personal website. He is the developer of the OPEN Process Framework (OPF) Repository, the world’s largest free open-source website documenting over 1,100 reusable system/software development method components.To relax, he writes fantasy and science fiction books and crafts magical wands as a hobby.LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=1955172
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Firesmith
OPFRO website: http://www.opfro.org
Personal website: http://donald.firesmith.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/don.firesmith
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DonFiresmith
Feuerschmied’s Wand Shoppe: http://magicalwandshoppe.com

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@FTThum #BookReview ‘Burial Rites’ by Hannah Kent

A book which I earmarked to read for some time. Finally, I did.

burial-ritesTitle:          Burial Rites
Author:        Hannah Kent
Publishers:     Back Bay Books, April 2014
Format:          Kindle, Paperback
Pages:             311
Genre:           Fiction – Historical, Literary Fiction

What’s it about?

This heartbreaking story of a woman’s life journey in early 19th century Iceland gripped me from page one.

Burial Rites is a fictionalised story of a true event – In 1828, an Icelandic servant named Agnes Magnúsdóttir was convicted of killing her employer and another man, then burning their bodies. Hannah Kent’s take, as she explained, was “to supply a more ambiguous portrayal” of a woman who has been seen as a “witch, stirring up murder”.

There is no happy ending, and it is no surprise. But this book is not about finding out what happens at the end, but a study of Anna Magnúsdóttir’s life leading to her execution.

The Icelandic setting of unrelenting cold and unforgiving rocky terrain, is perfect backdrop to this story of poverty and a woman’s place within it. A young girl growing up without love and care, spurned and betrayed by those she depended on, Anna’s shame is writ large in her name, and by all that followed her survival.

There was no prison in Iceland then. So when Anna was convicted of murder, she is sent to live with District Officer Jon Jonsson; his ailing wife, Margret; and their two daughters to await her execution. A young clergy, Assistant Reverend Thorvardur Jonsson (‘Toti’) is sent to Anna as a spiritual guide to prepare her for the fateful day.

Reverend Toti initially did not understand the story Anna told, listening through his naïve and blinkered view of the world. But he finally did. And as Anna’s story unfolds, I the reader am confronted by questions.

What makes a person culpable for her actions?

What does it mean to undertake voluntary act? Who is responsible?

How much of our stories are constructed by what was told about us?

How much of us is truly seen and understood?

Would I recommend it?

A solid account. An engaging story. Highly recommended.

 

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5
Made Me Think:                   3/5
Overall enjoyment:               4/5
Readability:                           4/5
Recommended:                     3.5/5
Overall Rating:                  3.5/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 7.47
  Paperback USD 6.00
 Bookdepository  Paperback  AUD 18.00

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

The Daily Janet #BookReview

  • Title: The Daily Janet
  • Author: Leanna Conley
  • Print Length: 186
  • Publication Date: October 7, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Biography

Synopsis:

And you thought your mother was nuts. From hilarious drama to childhood trauma, ‘The Daily Janet’ chronicles author and comedienne Leanna Conley’s journey of being raised by a 1960s fashionista before the Devil had even heard of Prada. Janet is a chain-smoking martini enthusiast who swears like a sailor but dresses like Audrey Hepburn, and her erratic behavior has made for a sometimes stormy, but always loving, mother/daughter dynamic. Be prepared to laugh out loud at Janet’s antics and pearls of wisdom as Leanna hops on the tumultuous ride to adulthood. . .in one of Janet’s Cadillacs, of course.

My Review:

From the moment I started this biography, I became completely engrossed, I forgot to go to sleep early as I originally planned. Leanna Conley is a natural born storyteller with a flair for the comedic, which I imagined she inherited from her mother, Janet.

Since I’m not one to read a lot of biographies, I had agreed to read this one expecting it to be just another biography with comedy here and there. I didn’t prepare myself for what lay in store. Janet is truly a wild, wise woman that you just can’t get enough of, no matter how you try.

The Daily Janet offers everything a good story requires: pain, drama, comedy and love. She’s a class act with a wild side. I highly recommend this extremely pleasurable read. You won’t be disappointed.

Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

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