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…
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
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.
It’s a good idea to keep your virtual filing cabinets in good condition. Rather than having to search through a mile and a half of documents for a document whose title you forgot a year ago, create specific files and folders for specific things, and then make an effort to use them.
When you’re writing your first book you are blissfully innocent of the pitfalls that could await you when the time comes for editing, formatting, and loading onto the various sales sites. Many writers still hit the tab key for indents, and whack the carriage return button to create as much white space as they’d like to see on their title page. While this is fine for the paperback version of your book, it’s going to get promptly spat out of the Smashwords meatgrinder, and the tabs could cause some really terrible things to happen to your MOBI file. So it’s a great idea to be a little pedantic when you’ve written THE END at the close of your tale. It’s a good idea to hit a happy medium, and have a different file for each publishing format, but also not to keep every single old manuscript file “just in case”. Here are a couple of tips to retain a little bit of sanity when the time comes to launch your baby into the world.
Create a master folder for each book, and then create sub-folders within that folder. Keep your original manuscript as simple as possible. Just type it. Don’t fiddle with formatting at all. Don’t use tabs. Be gentle with the carriage returns. Just type it. Just type it. Just… You get the idea. Don’t use one manuscript to format across all publishing platforms. Trying to format a MOBI file from an already formatted CreateSpace file is a bad idea, although the other way around is not as much of a headache. The problem with Word is that it likes to assume what you’d like, based on what you’ve been doing, and Auto formatting can cause lots of glitches in an eBook, especially when you start getting into using a whole lot of different styles. Save yourself lots of future headaches and keep your master manuscript nice and pristine in its own folder. From there Save As new manuscripts for your eBook, Smashwords, and paperback formats, and work on each individually and from scratch. By trying to “save time” and simply trying to convert and then re-convert the same manuscript, you’re guaranteed at least one large headache, and sometimes the only way around such glitches is to completely wipe all formatting and start from scratch – not a fabulous way to go.
It can seem a bit tedious in future to have to visit each folder and manually update a typo found, but it’s worth it. Also remember to delete old files, and to add the latest date to the name of your most recent manuscript file. For instance “XYZ for Kindle 9 15 2016” as a file name will ensure that you don’t accidentally load your pre-proofed copy on to Amazon, a thing that happens very easily when you’ve saved every incarnation of your book file using different names, and believing that you would most definitely remember the most recent.
Even your virtual filing cabinet can become overwhelming. If that’s the case with you, then try and grab a couple of hours to clean it up. Delete all outdated files and manuscripts, and organise the rest, so that whenever you need to update or check on any of your already published works, everything is in place, and you won’t have any sort of disaster lurking and waiting to happen to you. Happy filing fellow scribblers!
I’ve always loved long introductions in the front matter of the books of my favourite authors. Not sure if it’s just me, but finding out more about them, their lives and thoughts has inspired me since I first started reading. What I don’t love so much these days is those same long introductions in the front matter of eBooks. I still want to read them, but I also want to be able to see the first ten percent of a book I might want to buy with a bit of the beginning of the actual story in it. It’s fine in a print book, but best in the back of an eBook with a hyperlink to it from the table of contents. Pages and pages of excerpts and reviews in the front of digital books equally get up the nostrils of potential readers “looking inside”.
The wonder of self-publishing means that we can put anything we like in our books, digital or otherwise. Indies who are going it alone look to advice from already published peers, or from examining the books of traditionally published bestselling authors. They’re not all the same, but mostly follow similar formats. So what can you put in the front of your eBook, and how should you lay it out?
This is the first page in your eBook, and will contain the book title and sub-title if there is one, and your author name. In some illustrated books, the illustrator’s name will also go here, but not always. Contributors generally go on the copyright page. You can add a publishing imprint or logo, or even an illustration or photo. Nothing at all wrong with prettying up your eBooks. All should be centred on the page.
Dedications and endorsements can go next, but I suggest adding them to the back of the book if they’re very long with hyperlinks to the table of contents.
Table of Contents
Here you would list the book’s chapters, and noteable or important diagrams, images or tables. If you have loads of chapters you can condense the contents in the front matter by listing only sections of the book, but then link to the full unshortened table of contents at the back of the book. This is still debatable though, ever since Amazon started clamping down on those dodgy eBook marketers that put a lot of freebie links in the backs of nonsense books to get pages read for Kindle Unlimited earnings.
Forward and introduction or preface can go next if you’re having them, but again, you can place them in the back of the book with hyperlinks to the table of contents. The introduction or preface is something written by the author about the book and its creation. Those lovely long rambles by Stephen King, signed and dated in Maine. A forward is often a recommendation by someone other than the author. Often in non-fiction books by someone knowledgeable in some particular field, and in fiction, often a fan, friend, or follower of the author.
If you’re having a prologue it obviously has to go in the front of the book, as prologues are there to get you up to speed in some way before starting the meat of the book.
If you don’t have a lot of front matter, and your booklist isn’t hugely long, then have this in the front, otherwise zoom it over to the back with a hyperlink to table of contents.
About the Author
I’ve seen this in the front of lots of books, and that’s fine. I prefer mine in the back.
About this Book
Personal choice once again, but vital for any eBook in my opinion. If it’s a long one, to the back it can go.
Best in the front of a book if important.
Acknowledgements and Thanks
If only a couple of lines, then nice in the front matter.
I don’t think that excerpts should ever go in the front matter of any eBook. Rather have them at the end, when readers have discovered that they like the way you write and want to read more.
Whether or not to use a page break between each front matter item is also personal choice. I like the look with the breaks, but have seen many books without them that look perfectly good too. Without making it too overcrowded, do try and make the front matter of your books attractive and appealing as well as functional.
Starting today, 7/08/2016 through 7/12/2016 you can get
The Dolan Girls by S.R. Mallery
“The Dolan Girls by S. R. Mallery has it all. Set in Nebraska during the 1800s, whorehouse madams, ladies of the night, a schoolmarm, a Pinkerton detective, a Shakespeare-quoting old coot, brutal outlaws, and a horse-wrangler fill out the cast of characters. Added to the mix are colorful descriptions of an 1856 land rush, Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show, Annie Oakley, bank/train robberies, small town local politics, and of course, romance. Two, in fact!”
“The Dolan girls will pull at your heart, …”-5 Stars
“A great and exciting read. I always like a good first line.”-5 Stars
“Do you like westerns? Romances? Then The Dolan Girls is your book.”-4 Stars
Summary:If you have to kill one, kill the other also.” These were the words that the renown psychologist, Dr. Susan Patterson had reluctantly had spoken to Dt. Isis Williams. Their topic of discussion: 16-year-old Stacey and Jannifer McHill, The Twins.
A few weeks after Detective Isis Williams and her partner and lover Annette Toni horrific confrontation with the twins– where Dt. Williams was forced to shoot and kill Jannifer McHill–Stacey McHill was sent to a new facility for the criminally insane. Dt. Isis Williams could not bring herself to pull the trigger on the remaining twin. “If you have to kill one, kill the other also.” In the meantime, a sadistic rapist/murderer is on the prowl in Harlem, his targets: middle age women. While Williams and Toni are hot on the rapist trail, Stacey McHill escapes while being treated by her psychologist, Dr. Susan Patterson. Now Detective Isis Williams will come to regret the day she did not take heed to Dr. Patterson’s warning:” If you have to kill one, kill the other also.
Review:Stacey: The Twin is the second book in R.G. Miller’s psychological thriller trilogy. Like its previous counterpart, it starts the ground running with its grotesque scenes and doesn’t let go.
Just under a year after the manhunt for two sadistic teenage serial killers ended, Detective Isis Williams is back, hunting for a brutal rapist and murderer. We are briefly reminded of the past events that took place, and the current fate of Stacey McHill, the only living twin serial killer.
Like the first book, the characters were often referred to by their whole name, which takes me away from reading. There were a lot of misspells or wrong word use throughout the novel, as well as telling rather than showing. However, the scenes were put together much better than the previous, although at times there weren’t breaks between point-of-views, which forced me to reread the paragraph a few times to grasp the difference between the scene changes.
At first, it seemed as though Detective Williams mellowed out from when we are first introduced to her in the first novel. Then at times her moods begin to fluctuate, making it appear to me as though she is bipolar. There was a brief scene when even her partner and lover questions Williams’ morals.
In this book, a lot of psychopaths did, or hinted at doing, psychotic deeds, which made me confused as to who was doing what. And, while the book was titled Stacey: The Twin, it took half the script to delve into the latest story of Stacey McHill, but we do end up finding that everything intertwines together, leading to a climatic ending.
Stacey: The Twins was written with a better effort than its predecessor. If you don’t like novels laced with foul language or you don’t like gruesome scenes, I’d steer clear. However, if you can look past them, then you may truly enjoy this series.
Overall Rate: 3.5 out of 5 stars
About R.G. Miller
“R.G.Miller, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. He’s an avid reader. His favorite subject is Abnormal Psychology. He enjoys classic R&B and Rock. He’s the grandfather of three, and he enjoys picking up a mike and singing a tune or two.
R.G.Miller spent three years working on his trilogy.”If you’re a fan of CSI, Criminal Minds, or Law and Order, The Twins: A Psychological suspense thriller is the book for you.”
The Twins: A Psychological Thriller is R.G.Miller’s first novel.”
I wrote this novel in response to the death of Kurt Vonnegut Jr., determined to create not only a dystopia for modern times, but a payment of homage to the genre. Tucked throughout the work, you’ll find allusions to numerous greats of science fiction past, hints to a future world that could easily come to pass, and subtle references to the death of an important and meaningful literary era.
World-Mart follows the classic dystopian trope, and as such, I recommend it to those who enjoyed Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, Orwell’s 1984, and similar works.
World-Mart is the first in a trilogy, and a chilling story of class segregation, failing energy supplies, food shortages, antibiotic resistant viruses and governmental control over every action and choice made in life. With the way the world seems to be going these days, World-Mart gives a glimpse of a very possible, and frightening, future. It seemed all too real to me.
It’s slow-moving, however, I didn’t mind it because it was at the same time, a quick read. The scenes were put together beautifully. Each character held their own and was very rounded and believable. I enjoyed getting to know them and emphasized with most.
Before agreeing to read the book for a review, I read a review that stated this novel was just a commentary of the author’s rants on the success of businesses, loathing of America, etcetera. After reading, I disagree with that review. World-Mart brings me to mind of The Hunger Games, but better put together, and more realistic. And I enjoyed World-Mart a hundred percent more. I believe that it would make a good Lifetime series or even a mini-series. At the very least, I wouldn’t be too surprised should high school teachers one day decide to have their class read and study its contents for Literature. I enjoyed the ending, which saddened me, but at the same time left me wanting for more.
Still, although the story itself was five stars, there were some imperfections. There was quite a lot of telling, rather than showing, which at times put me off from reading. There were a few misspells and grammatical errors.
Leigh M. Lane followed up with Aftermath: Beyond World-Mart and its prequel, The Private Sector, both of which I would be eager to read.
Overall rate: 4 out of 5 stars.
“In addition to writing dark speculative fiction for over twenty-five
years, Leigh M. Lane has dabbled in fine arts, earned a black belt in karate, and sung lead and backup vocals for bands ranging from classic rock to the blues. She currently lives in the dusty outskirts of Sin City with her husband, an editor and educator, and one very spoiled cat.
Her published works include traditional Gothic horror novel Finding Poe; the World-Mart trilogy, a dystopian tribute to Orwell, Serling, and Vonnegut; and the dark allegorical tale, Myths of Gods.
A Gritty Suspense Thriller about innocence lost and darkness gained…What if two thirteen-year-old sisters, who were identical twins; sisters who’d came from an affluent family; twin sisters whose parents had shielded them from all the ugliness of the world; identical twins who’d shared that unique twin consciousness, were suddenly forced to watch the unthinkable: the torture and murder of their parents? What if three years later, these identical twin sisters go on an unrelenting quest for vengeance?This was the fate of 13-year-old Stacey and Jannifer McHill, identical twins who’d survived a living nightmare, but in doing so…they’ve become a living nightmare.
On their 13th birthday, identical twins Stacey and Jannifer McHill had to witness the worse thing imaginable: the brutal murder of their parents. Stepping into the shoes of the twins, it leaves you haunted by the end of the first chapter. As the story progresses three years later, we find that Detective Isis Williams, who is battling a serious anger problem, is hunting the twins who are on a murderous rampage. This is a story where we already know who did it. We just need to figure out the motive behind the heinous deeds.
The narrative tone throughout the story doesn’t seem as dark as it should be based on the story. The tone leaves one with the feel of a story intended for a slightly younger reader in spite of the sex, language and crime scenes. The twin girls, in the beginning, appear to be younger than 13, but I’m able to look past the youthfulness because on their birthday, they should be excited and happy.
However, according to the book’s description, the twin’s lives have always been perfect. Without reading the blurb, I see the twins as just being normally happy, and at the most, eight years old, rather than 13. We don’t know until near the end that the twins were shielded from a painful life.
When we meet Detective Williams, we find that she is a brutally angry woman. We even see her fighting a rookie in her first scene, which seems odd for a woman in her rank in a real world setting. I did enjoy the brief banter she and her new partner exchanged when they first met. And as Detective Williams progresses, her brutal anger turns to dedication of finding the killers.
My main issue with the story is that there were very few breaks in the scenes, if any. It could be the twin’s perspective, then Detective Williams, then someone else in one paragraph. This caused me to reread the scenes a few times to grasp which scene I should be focusing on at which time. Especially since the switches were so quick in the paragraph. There were also some editing errors that threw me off.
We quickly see how brutal, how dark, how gritty the crimes are. The crime scenes bring me to mind of CSI, or even Saw. That being said, a few word changes here and there would have made the narrative more intense. There was a lot of telling, rather than showing.
As someone who has been obsessed as of late reading literature about serial killings, and has always loved reading about identical twins, I thought the idea of this book was stellar. A little cleaning up, it would be that. If you enjoy movies like Saw, then you’ll probably want to give R.G. Miller’s debut novel, “The Twins” a try.
Overall Rate: 3 out of 5 stars
About R.G. Miller
“R.G.Miller, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. He’s an avid reader. His favorite subject is Abnormal Psychology. He enjoys classic R&B and Rock. He’s the grandfather of three, and he enjoys picking up a mike and singing a tune or two.
R.G.Miller spent three years working on his trilogy.”If you’re a fan of CSI, Criminal Minds, or Law and Order, The Twins: A Psychological suspense thriller is the book for you.”
The Twins: A Psychological Thriller is R.G.Miller’s first novel.”
Every hero must take the first courageous step into adventure. For Luke Callindor, it’s more of a blind stumble.
Depending more on bravery than common sense, Luke sets out to protect a royal heir who is attending the prestigious Hamilton Military Academy. With a demonic assassin in the shadows, the determined warrior will have to think on his feet to defend his charge. If only he waited long enough to find out which student is the hidden noble.
With Luke’s dream on the horizon and a deadly enemy on his path, how will he transform from a reckless adventurer to a true hero of Windemere?
Genres: Action, Adventure, Thriller, Suspense, War
I received a copy of this book for an honest review and I’m glad I did.
Levant Mirage takes snapshots from the headlines of the past few years to build a character and combines it with frighteningly realistic possibilities to give a story you pray never happens.
35 year old U.S. Army Major Adam Michaels is no James Bond, nor did he ever set out to be. What is he? He’s a man who rejects the easy path that being the heir to a shipping empire gives him in order to join the military, serve his country, and be a father. Right, no money other than what he makes as a Major in the Army. You don’t see jet flying, limousine riding, womanizing and all of that. I would trade in the 10 year old Corolla for something a little better though. Tap into the trust fund already.
Finding himself used as a scapegoat for a foreign relations nightmare, Michaels works out his days in the Pentagon pushing papers, and paying alimony, child support and the mortgage on his rising political star ex-wife’s house. You see the everyday life to some extent leading up to the changes in life the military can throw at you. You don’t control you in the Army. And there are times when that twists the guts out of Michaels.
Michaels is of a dubious parentage, with his father not being who he thought he was, but upon finding out explains a great deal. This in part leads to his choice of path in life. He wants to be his own man. He doesn’t want to be identified with a past that isn’t really what he thought it was.
But part of that past comes back in one night and changes a quiet world into a search to find the defense against a missile guidance system he created that is now in the hands of terrorists. Which terrorists? Who is the enemy? You won’t believe it. Or you will believe it but be surprised.
The believability of Levant Mirage is what makes it so freakin’ scary at times. Perhaps the guidance system isn’t real, or I hope it’s not. But I’m sure there is something like it out there. The enemy Michaels must fight against is out of this world. If he fails, billions die. If he succeeds?
Chase writes with detail and a knowledge base that gives the story realism. You are able to submerse yourself into Levant Mirage and you don’t get pulled out by oddities and unbelievable scenes. Some scenes are high energy and amped up, but still possible.
Being honest, the amount of detail is incredible at times and I could have done with a little less of the technological speak, but it doesn’t take away from the story. In truth, it adds the believability—you don’t have these leaps from action to intellect in the span of a few seconds. Okay, maybe you do but for a whole different reason, but I’m not giving those parts away. Ah, that does remind me of one scene that did cause me pause and have to reread in order to get it clear. In part, that was due to the surprise of those involved.
I enjoyed the handling of the terrorists. As you read you’ll develop ideas but never get to comfortable, you never know what is going to happen next, who is going to happen, or what the truth is until it’s almost too late. But there are clues along the way.
I would recommend Levant Mirage to those who like believable action thrillers. Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt and other NUMA series books come to mind, but not that fantastical or off the charts. Where Cussler takes you over the edge of believability at times, Chase keeps you here on earth and scares the life out of you with reality you can find in your neighbors living room.
Character Believability: 4 Flow and Pace: 4 Reader Engagement: 4 Reader Enrichment: 4 Reader Enjoyment: 4 Overall Rate:4
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About the Author
Oliver spent five years in a police department working narcotics and SWAT, and the next 22 in the FBI. Now he’s the author of Marsh Island, Blind Marsh, the first two installments of the Hirebomber Series. And now Levant Mirage, releasing Oct. 15, 2015.
Ronovan is an author, blogger and former educator who shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer though 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 LitWorldInterviews.WordPress.com, a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources. For those serious about book reviewing and interested in reviewing for the LWI site, email Ronovan at ronovanwrites (at) gmail (dot) com to begin a dialogue. It may not work out but then again it might.
Who do you get when you combine 129 Five Star Ratings and 83 Four Star Ratings on Amazon and GoodReads? An author I met about a year ago and did a somewhat stock interview with that I’ve thankfully gotten away from.
I was newish to the arena of interviews and she was generous to say yes. The worst part was, I hadn’t had an opportunity to read her work. But now? It’s a year later, I’ve read and reviewed her latest. And here we are again with another, what I believe better interview. And I like to call us friends. Just don’t tell her that. I don’t want to get the raised eyebrow of “Say What?” from her.
You may have read my review of her book, Violet Chain, the book we’re discussing today. I don’t think the review does the book as much justice as I might have wished for it to. The characters have great layers to them and are not one dimensional, even the supporting cast. She just writes a great annoy character that bugged me. I hope she doesn’t read that line. Now let’s talk to J. Kahele. Author and More.
Let’s start off with why did you write Violet Chain?
Believe it or not I was throwing titles around in my head and come up with this one, then decided to create a story.
After catching her fiancé cheating on her the night of their engagement party, Violet Townsend, a woman people hold in high regards in all aspects of her life, goes through a transformation of character. What do you think brings out that seemingly sudden change the way it does that finds her in the arms of the books leading man?
It is out of the norm for a woman like Violet to delve into a one night stand, but as with every women, when hurt badly by a person they love, she needed an escape from the pain and hers was Chain.
The leading man, Chain Alexander, is sucked in to this wild ride of Violet’s road to recovery. Being a man myself, thank you very much, I would like to say a few things. I’ve read the reviews. Some love him, some don’t get him. Personally I think you nailed the emotional aspects of a character caught up in this situation perfectly. How do you come to write a male character role like that? What do you draw from to give him just the right male reactions? Psychic, or great observer?
Chain was not at all the character I had in my mind for original lead. I wanted more of an alpha male type, but with Violet’s character, there was no way an alpha male would have fit well, so I guess you could say that Chain kind of was a creation from the story itself.
Some people are going to buy this book for the sex, and romance angle. If people are narrow in their thinking and stick to that, I personally believe they are missing a lot of what you’re telling. Would you tell us about the psychological aspects of both the lead characters that make them just like anyone else once you take them out of their palaces and ivory towers, metaphorically speaking of course, and how they deal with love in a damaged arena? I believe readers connect with them in a great way.
I wanted real characters that everyone could identify with, the good, the bad and so I took a lot of extra time concentrating on that. I believe Violet and Chain both have very real emotions and turmoil’s and imperfections that make them very relatable.
Crazy as it may seem, I see a lot of . . . well crazy people in this book. Not so much crazy but people with quirks and foibles. You have a good supporting cast. Speaking to those quirks and the like, do you have a leaning toward or fascination with things like OCD and personality/mental issues that seems to come through in your writing?
Haha. My husband says I’m very OCD about certain things and I believe everyone has their little quirks, don’t you?
I am not falling into the trap of answering what my foibles are. Feel like I’m being cross examined here.
I have to say that you write a great annoying character in the part of Harrison, the cheating fiancé. And honestly even in the best friends of each of the leads in their certain quirks at times which doesn’t make you not like them, but as for Harrison, how much do you use your own personal experience or that of friends when being inspired to create a character like that, not so much the cheating part but his personality and actions through the remainder of the book?
Harrison was probably the easiest character to write, yes I did use personal dislikes I had for men, when writing him.
You did great, I wanted to throw him into a wall or out a door a few times, well every time. That’s how well you made me not like him.
As I was reading Violet Chain I noticed the organic style of writing. You touched on this subject when talking about CHain Alexander earlier. By organic I mean things didn’t always go where you planned. To me that often means the story, the characters themselves, have taken over the mind of the writer and begun to tell the story. Is that how you write, you start out writing, or does it take over at some point and if so, when do you give the characters their head and let them run?
I have never had control of the characters, once I have created them, they tend to go in a direction that I don’t always like and believe it or not I try to fight it, but I think when creating characters true to life, we lose control and that isn’t so bad.
I’ve read where a lot of people are hoping for a sequel. Is that the plan?
Yes. The sequel will be out in November.
You’re quite prolific in your writing and never seem to tie yourself down to one thing. What are you working on now that your fans will be excited to hear about? Because I know from the reviews that you do have fans, not just readers.
I am currently working on the final sequel of the Mine Series and a new series that I’m not revealing yet.
A question I’ve begun to ask my authors is this, what is your favorite line from the book? I think by sharing that you somewhat give us a peek into who J. Kahele is.
I wouldn’t say there is a favorite line in the book, but I do have a favorite part. It is when Chain and Violet are saying goodbye at the restaurant and Chain is begging to see her again and she kind of leaves him hanging. I love that part a lot.
And a final question. What motivates you to put words to your thoughts and begin a book? Writers have ideas, but what is your process of deciding “This is it!”?
When the thoughts follow you everywhere you go and you can’t shake them, until you write them down on paper.
Ronovan is an author, and blogger who shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer though 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 LitWorldInterviews.WordPress.com, a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources. For those serious about book reviewing and interested in reviewing for the LWI site, email me at ronovanwrites (at) gmail (dot) com to begin a dialogue. It may not work out but then again it might.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a CPU and working on your own book, then you know how much I’ve enjoyed a book called Dancing to an Irish Reel by Award Winning author Claire Fullerton. But I made a mistake with that book review. And I want to correct that up front. I wrote the review too soon after reading the book and failed to give time for reflection and full comprehension to take place. I didn’t take it all in and examine all the nuances hidden within the story. Every day since then I’ve been working on some aspect of the Claire Fullerton Experience. Yes, I call time spent working with an author an Experience like that because it does not normally end with a review and/or an interview. There is a lot more going on in the background than anyone other than one of my authors knows.
During the Experience I realized just how much Claire put in her book and how much she put in to her book. The more I think about it, the more I love the book. I don’t normally dwell very long after a review and interview, I always have the next to go to and I have since. But this would had a truth about it, a realness that one connects with and it stays with you. But before I get too carried away, unless I’m already too late, let’s get to my discussion with Claire Fullerton, Award Winning author and #1 GoodReads Irish Romance.
Claire, for a book that finds itself at times falling into the category of Romance, I have to say I was surprised by what I found with keeping that genre in mind. Did you set out to write a Romance? Was that your goal?
I’m so glad you asked this question, Ronovan. Actually, “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is literary fiction, which is a genre that means true to life. It’s a story about those near misses people experience on the road to a love that endures. I can’t think of anyone I know who hasn’t been in this situation before; where all the variables of attraction are in play, while two people are coming to know each other, yet for one reason or another, they can’t seem to get it together. But there is always such hope, and I think new love is typically replete with uncertainty. There is excitement and high hopes, yet on the flip side there is unpredictability and attendant fears. Extending oneself in new love can be risky and can leave one feeling vulnerable. It’s my belief that most people experience uncertainty and doubt when in the throes of new love, it’s just a question of to what degree they’re going to admit it! This is what “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is about. This is also why this book does not fall into the romance genre, but it does explore the subject.
Actually when I was thinking about this interview and the book I thought of real life with those moments of almost romance, or more relationship to tell the truth.
I think so as well. This is why I gave the reader Hailey’s thoughts throughout this book. I’m fascinated by the way people will say and do things in order to project a certain appearance, while thinking something completely at variance with their words and actions. I wanted the reader to know Hailey’s personality as she made her way in rural Ireland; that she saw things from an American frame of reference for much of this book, yet as the story progresses, that frame of reference was changed as she came to understand the Irish culture. I think this is what people do in life: they tend to resist what is new because their mind is already made up, but if one allows themselves to be influenced, there is much to learn!
The role of Hailey Crossan is a strong woman who knows who she is and what she wants. Where did those characteristics come from, as far as a model for her?
I love your use of the word role! I, too, see this book as a movie! You’ve just made my day! But seriously, and to your astute point, I know more women like Hailey Crossan than otherwise. When I consider all the close girlfriends, with whom I was lucky enough to grow up in Memphis, I realize they are all nobody’s fool. My mother was the same way. The women in my life have always been self-confident and self-reliant. They have a savvy, keen eye with regard to sizing people up. And the thing I’ve found with many of my friends is they rarely let on. They prefer to keep things close to the vest, so you have to know them for a while before you realize how aware they really are. This is how I wanted to write the character of Hailey. It was necessary that she was self- sufficient and sure of herself in order to move to another country without fear. She had to be able to hold her own in her new environment because she was a fish-out-of-water, so to speak.
I think your description of close to the vest fits Hailey well, now that I think about her. Cautious is another word that comes to mind. Recently I became a fan of a young man named Hozier, an Irish blues singer/musician/songwriter of about 26. I couldn’t help but picture him during my reading of Dancing to an Irish Reel. Did you have any images in mind, anyone in particular when you were writing Liam Hennessey?
Generally yes, but no one specifically. But I’ll use Hozier to make a point because the look of him is a good example; it is common in Ireland. There are many with dark hair and fair skin. And having lived in Ireland myself, I found the men to be subtle and beautiful, almost with a graceful, feminine quality. And those artistically attuned are the sensitive sort. This is what I had in mind when I created Liam Hennessey.
Oh, and one other thing before we move on, why that name, why Dancing to an Irish Reel?
In Irish traditional music, a reel is a tune that is circular; it goes back and forth and in and out in its execution, and to the listener it may seem unstable, but it is not. A reel has a plan! The title “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is meant to evoke this concept. It refers to the push and pull of the story and the search for stability. Hailey’s navigation of Ireland as an outsider and her sometimes off, sometimes on relationship with Liam Hennessey left her in the position of having to artfully manage a shifting tide, so to speak. She had to learn the ways of the Irish culture in order to live there inconspicuously, and the unpredictability of Liam Hennessey’s actions left her constantly searching for solid ground!
With regard to Maeve Binchy, because she was Irish, she handled Irish nuances effortlessly, as a matter of course. They were not unusual to her at all, but she reveled in their specific, unique quality. With regard to Ireland, she was in it as well as of it, yet able to stand back and observe the islands peculiarity in a way that celebrated its facets. I sought to do exactly this in “Dancing to an Irish Reel” because I carry a love and appreciation for the land and its culture. I find the Irish people earthy and authentic, unpretentious and in possession of a good perspective with regard to what is important in life. They place importance on quality of life and seem to me to accept life on life’s terms, as opposed to trying to manipulate their way through it.
When you were writing the book, was it an organic experience or did you have a specific outline in mind first? And whichever way, is that the same way you wrote A Portal in Time, your previous release?
For both books, I had a point to make, as in something to say. I started with a premise as a statement then set about getting there via a story that unfolded. As for an outline, my process is very loose. I leave room for the story to tell itself, which is something best exemplified as I write dialogue. I never know ahead of time what the dialogue will be, yet I aim for information to be revealed. We learn about characters through what they say and what other characters say about them. In both books, I was mindful of the spirit of intention and had a loose outline of what was going to happen with regard to turning points. I simply held a firm impression of who the characters were to make the events in both books plausible.
Reading your book and the description of A Portal in Time, I get the feeling of your enjoyment of writing about past lives, mystical and spiritual elements. Is this something that comes natural to you, I mean as in the aspects of writing?
My introspection must be showing! In truth, I’m not completely decisive on the subject of past lives one way or the other, but I do love the mystery. Perhaps the idea of past lives shares a blurred line with genetic memory, who’s to say? If you consider the idea of genetic memory, what it basically proposes is that we carry the impressions and experiences of our forebears because they are past down to us through genetics like imprints. This explains inherited talents and proclivities in an understandable way. And if you look at, say, the Druids, they didn’t believe so much in past lives as they did in the transmigration of the soul, meaning we are souls gathering wisdom in this business of living on earth, but it takes many incarnations to accumulate something with staying power. We can’t just get it all in one lifetime, if the aim is enlightenment, i.e, perfection. And because it is an ongoing endeavor, the idea is we return to this earthly plane repeatedly, where we try on different hats. I think there is confusion over the idea of past-lives because it places importance on the experience of the human as opposed to the experience of the soul as it seeks alignment with the divine, however you choose to define the divine. But this subject is important, and it’s enough for me to be mindful of the question. I think Sting touched upon something beautiful when he proclaimed we are spirits in the material world, and I know he wasn’t the first to posit this, but he did make a proclamation that brought it to the public fore.
Everyone that’s read my review of your book knows I loved it, and that I suggested a sequel. We’ve talked about it and it hadn’t come to you as an idea until then. But you set it up so well with the tarot card reading of Hailey. Do you think maybe some of those outside forces were guiding your story during certain parts? Maybe they want you to take another trip to Ireland.
Actually, I have been back to Ireland since I wrote “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” and I plan on going again! As for going back to Ireland in a sequel, I never thought along those lines because “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is a self-contained story with a point to it, which is to say we make our choices in life and from them our lives are set on a consequential course. As of this interview, I am not ruling a sequel out. I’ll let Hailey decide.
Now let’s get something a little more personal. We have a lot in common. Southern. Music business. Location of living for a time. How does your time in the South influence your writing, and is that part of your heritage something that you think might have drawn you to Ireland?
Ireland and the American South share something in common, but do keep in mind that much of the American South was settled by the Scotch-Irish, so perhaps it is something inherent in the area. Both areas spawn terrific communicators in possession of the gift of the entertaining story. It is a cultural way of being in the world, and therefore something passed down to each generation. In both the South and Ireland, I’ve found extremely colorful characters, completely unabashed in personality. As for the South influencing my writing, all I can say is that I write as I think, from the internal monologue I have in my head as well as how I see the world. The South has clearly influenced this as an environment because it is my frame of reference.
What’s the most satisfying thing that has happened to you so far while you’ve been an author?
The writer’s life style. I write daily for one reason or another. It has transpired that with two books in the world and the dynamic that promotion brings therefore, that I am always writing something, and this is due to the affiliations my books have given me. Take for instance the Irish online community “The Wild Geese.” They’re a group of the most erudite, Ireland loving writers I’ve ever come across, all with the desire to communicate and share their love of the island. I contribute to this community regularly by writing pieces that appear as blog posts, but what they really are is a way to celebrate the business of what it means to be Irish! So there is that gift, but I have also spent the last two years writing my third novel, which has been a joyous process. Then, of course, I contribute to magazines. It seems I’m always writing something and sharing it, which to me is simply the high art of communication for its own sake. All this is my idea of fulfilling days with a purpose. Can’t get more satisfying than this!
Do you have a favorite line in Dancing to an Irish Reel?
Yes, it is this: “There’s a feel about Galway that you can wear around your shoulders like a cloak.” It is very true.
Thank you, Ronovan. This has been big fun! Thank you for supporting writers through your exceptional blog.
Claire Fullerton grew up in Memphis, TN and now lives in Malibu, CA. She is the author of literary fiction, “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” which is set in Connemara, Ireland, where she once lived. She is also the author of “A Portal in Time”: A paranormal mystery that unfolds in two time periods set on California’s hauntingly beautiful Monterey Peninsula, in a little village called Carmel-by-the-Sea. Both of Claire’s novels are published by Vinspire Publishing. Claire is a three- time award winning essayist, a former newspaper columnist, a contributor to magazines including Celtic Life International and Southern Writers Magazine. She is a five-time contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series and can be found on Goodreads as well as the website under her name. Currently, Claire is writing her third novel, which is a Southern family saga based on her award winning essay in the 2013 San Francisco Writer’s Conference.
Not long ago I met an author, one of the best I’ve come across in a one on one way ever, through another great author Dan McNeil. I’ve read and reviewed her book, and you can read the review on LWI by clicking here. What did I say? Read it, but I warn you, if you know my normal reviews and ratings…you will be shocked. Her name is Jasmine Aziz. Her book is:
First of all, I think people would like to know how in the world you got into the world of selling vibrators. I think that is somewhat important regarding your book. And in addition, how did you get out of doing that?
Well it isn’t exactly something your Guidance Counsellor in school tells you that you were born to do so no one was more surprised than me when I ended up doing door-to-door dildo sales. I went to a party (my first) with my girlfriend and the consultant that was presenting the products was stiffer than the toys on the table. She made everyone uncomfortable. Naturally, coming from a long line of sales people, I did what I know how to do best: make light of the situation to put everyone at ease. The consultant told me to keep quiet but at the end of the presentation, five women I had never met before came up to me to ask me if I could help them choose what to buy. I can’t be sure what made them come to me for guidance but I sensed I was on to something. That, or it was the “Sex Crazed Loon” shirt I was wearing.
There is an amount of honesty in your book that takes courage. How many times did you stop writing or have doubts and who helped push you to complete the project?
It took me six years to complete the book because I wasn’t sure I could face the potential wrath I was expecting from my extended family. But I had spoken to too many women and men that I felt needed the story so I forged forward. It was actually a fateful trip to Las Vegas that propelled me in the right direction. It was there that I was told I wasn’t “sexy” enough to get free tickets to a club. That made me stop and think, well, what is the definition of “sexy” anyway? It was that concept that helped me string the book together. Now if I ever go back to Las Vegas I’m just going to wear a copy of my novel and we’ll see who gets the last laugh.
How many strange men have proposed to you since the book came out?
Are you proposing? 🙂 If so, then only one 😉 Just kidding!
One thing I believe that makes the book so easy to read and perhaps become comfortable with is the humor. Where did the stories told about the sexual explorations and the disasters resulting come from? (I still laugh at the burning man scene.)
I’m often asked how much of it is based on my own adventures but the truth is, they were inspired by my protagonist Leena herself. I’ve always believed that one of the best ways to tackle difficult topics is through humour. When you are relaxed and laughing, you are more likely to be receptive to information. You don’t even realize that you’re learning something. I personally think laugh lines are extremely sexy too!
Why did you write this book? Your storytelling is great. You could easily have written a romantic comedy of the more traditional type but you chose this one. Why?
Well, thank you! In fact, I am trying my hand at a romantic comedy as we speak! The main reason I wrote “Sex & Samosas” was because I needed a way to purge my own feelings after a very bad breakup so I started writing them down. As I continued with my adult toy parties, I started to realize that other people had the same issues and insecurities that I did and that this was a story that so many others would find relatable. Page after page my personal bitterness and angst gave way to the fiction that unfolded. It’s not necessarily cheaper than therapy, but writing the book helped me work through some very difficult issues.
What has been the public reaction to the book?
I’m really blessed with the reaction. I frequently get emails and notes from people telling me that they not only loved the book and have loaned it to everyone they know, but that they have learned something from it or changed their lives as a result. No author could ask for more than that, I think.
What have men said to you about the book?
When they’re not proposing to me…more men have told me that they love the book because it has helped them to understand how a woman’s mind works. There is a voyeuristic quality to being in Leena’s head all the time that helps them to empathize in ways they couldn’t before. Some have even told me that it has helped them improve on their relationships and pick up women in the book store. It’s all good. Just name the baby Jasmine, is all I say!
I enjoyed the cultural aspects you discussed in the book. I think those parts might be the most surprising to people and maybe in some cases the most informative. Was there an intention of putting that in the book or did it just happen?
That was the starting point of the book actually. Leena and I both struggled with finding balance between two opposing cultures and asserting yourself comfortably in both. She has to find her footing and learn to love herself for the hybrid of cultures that she is as I had to when I was writing it.
What do you have to say or would say to people who say you wrote a sex book and you’ve gone against what a “proper” person should do?
If you’re going to be a suck, then at least read my book so you know you’re doing it right.
What did you want to convey to readers with this book?
My message is simple: if you can’t love yourself, don’t expect anyone else to. And that masturbation is healthy and natural. Sure, I can’t see my hand in front of my face and I have the hairiest palms on the planet, but I know better than anyone else how to please myself and that’s all that matters.
Give me your best sales pitch to get me to buy this book.
Buy my book: there’s sex in it.
Kidding again! I realize my novel isn’t for everyone so when people ask me what it’s about I tell them it’s a funny journey of self-discovery that just happens to have a bunch of vibrators in it.
When can we expect the next book to come out?
There’s the trickiest question of them all. I’ve been really busy and not able to finish my follow up memoir about the four years I sold adult toys, though the frame of the story is complete. It’s only now that I’m beginning to wonder if it should be a television series (Netflix, I’m talking to you!) instead. So I’m going to pursue that first before I head back to finish it as a novel.
Where can you connect with Jasmine? Well, she’s made it easy. Drop a hat and you’ll likely find her, and that’s as it should be with a future star of the publishing world. First go and buy the book!
Click here to find your preferred method. Jasmine has them all listed for you. @JasmineAziz www.facebook.com www.goodreads.com Jasmine on LinkedIn.
Want to discover more about Jasmine? Visit her website, JasmineAziz.com.
Ronovan is an author, and blogger who shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer though 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.WordPress.com.
Sourabh has put his short story for free on Amazon right now for a short period of time. What’s better than free and quick, right?
“Author Sourabh Mukherjee’s “Nargis – Through My Summers” is a love story that goes beyond a conventional ‘happily ever after’ ending and offers realistic views of the variety of emotions one goes through when love comes calling. The story deals with human emotions that readers will relate to. Many of us have found love when we least expected to, nurtured unprofessed love in our hearts for years, and have struggled to cope with lost love. A slice of life in the true sense, the book takes us on a soulful journey as we relive loves lost or found or nurtured unprofessed in the deepest recesses of our hearts. ‘I had two things which not many had—an impossible dream that made every tomorrow worth waiting for, and a pain that not everyone was blessed with.'”~From the Book Description on Amazon
You are never going to believe this! I managed to get an interview with author, Andrew Joyce about his two novels and the characters he chose called, “Redemption” and “Molly Lee.”
Andrew Joyce lives on a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his dog Danny. “MOLLY LEE” is a follow-up novel to the best-selling “REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.”
Here is the description of “Redemption,” from Amazon:
“Three men come together in the town of Redemption Colorado, each for his own purpose. Huck Finn is a famous lawman not afraid to use his gun to protect the weak. He has come to right a terrible wrong. After his wife’s death, Tom Sawyer does not want to live anymore; he has come to die. The third man, the Laramie Kid, a killer Huck and Tom befriended years earlier has come to kill a man. For these three men Death is a constant companion. For these three men it is their last chance for redemption.”
Here is the description of “Molly Lee,” from Amazon:
“Molly is about to set off on the quest of a lifetime . . . of two lifetimes.
It’s 1861 and the Civil War has just started. Molly is an eighteen-year-old girl living on her family’s farm in Virginia when two deserters from the Southern Cause enter her life. One of them—a twenty-four-year-old Huck Finn—ends up saving her virtue, if not her life.
Molly is so enamored with Huck, she wants to run away with him. But Huck has other plans and is gone the next morning before she awakens. Thus starts a sequence of events that leads Molly into adventure after adventure; most of them not so nice.
We follow the travails of Molly Lee, starting when she is eighteen and ending when she is fifty-six. Even then Life has one more surprise in store for her.”
Click here to read my book review of “Molly Lee.”
Colleen: Andrew, what are the advantages and disadvantages of writing sequels to classics? How did you decide what the adult Tom and Huck would be like?
Andrew: In this case there was no disadvantage. I picked two beloved characters—the advantage was the same—everyone loves Tom and Huck.
This will probably not be believed, but I felt Sam Clemens standing behind me as I wrote this yarn. He wanted to write a sequel to Huck and Tom and I think he started to do so. However, he never finished it. Perhaps he used me as his instrument to get it off his chest, so to speak. In answer to your question, I don’t know how I decided to make Huck and Tom gunslingers in the Old West. The book wrote itself. But if you repeat that, I’ll deny it. After all, I’m the genius here!
Colleen: What is the single biggest challenge of creating the settings in your novels?
Andrew: I always write my settings from places I’ve been and experienced firsthand. So, that does not present a challenge for me. I don’t know about other writers, but I start a novel knowing the first sentence and the last paragraph. Then all I have to do is come up with 100,000 words to fill the space in between. That is the easiest part. I let my characters take me where they want to go. I may have something in mind for them, but when we get there, they may take me in a whole different direction in which I am more than happy to follow.
Colleen: O.K. Andrew, who would you most like to sit next to on an airplane?
Andrew: I don’t fly anymore. But if I did, I’d prefer an empty seat. If I couldn’t get that, then I reckon Jesus would do. I’m sure he would have some good stories.
Colleen: Who would play you in the movie?
Andrew: Depending on the day, either Matthew McConaughey or Jabba the Hut.
Colleen: What is the one thing you can’t live without?
Colleen: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever heard?
Andrew: It’s not the best advice I’ve ever heard . . . it’s the best I’ve ever given. READ, READ, READ, and then READ some more. Read every book you can get your hands on. Read Steinbeck . . . “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Tortilla Flat.”
“The afternoon came down as imperceptibly as age comes to a happy man. A little gold entered into the sunlight. The bay became bluer and dimpled with shore-wind ripples. Those lonely fishermen who believe that the fish bite at high tide left their rocks and their places were taken by others, who were convinced that the fish bite at low tide.”— John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat
That is some damn good writing. And when you read stuff like that you can’t help but become a better writer.
Colleen: What are you working on right now?
Andrew: Making a big, tall drink that is 90% vodka.
Thank you for this fabulous interview, Andrew. It was great learning about your novels and getting to know you better. I really enjoyed knowing your inspiration came from Mark Twain himself.
If you love historical fiction based in the American old west, you will love Andrew’s books!