Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Featured Book: The Glasgow Curse by William Lobban

This chilling and disturbing memoir tells the story of one of Glasgow's most notorious criminals. In his own words, William Lobban tells how he was born in Exeter Prison to a violent, schizophrenic mother. His upbringing in the East End of Glasgow was just as bleak, and he ended up in care, destined for a life of violence and insecurity. Aged only 15 he masterminded a daring break-in to a Glasgow pub, and many years of armed robberies, dealing narcotics and gang fights followed. When he wasn't causing mayhem on the streets, Lobban was serving terms in various young offenders' institutions and prisons, where he was involved in some of the most serious prison riots of recent years. In the course of his criminal career Lobban became closely associated with the infamous Paul Ferris, who was later to incriminate him as the murderer of fellow gangster Arthur Thompson Jr. Police also believed that Lobban was the man behind the brutal double killing of Bobby Glover and Joe 'Bananas' Hanlon, but none of these charges was made to stick. Finally released from prison in 1998, Lobban decided to walk away from a life of crime, but at first it proved impossible for him to break the way of life that had moulded him, and only in recent years has he found a measure of peace and stability. In this searing expose of the Glasgow underworld he reveals the true facts behind those crimes which he really committed, and those of which he is falsely accused.

Buy links    Amazon UK  

GIVEAWAY* for this book!!  Until 23 October 2014 at 12pm (GMT-5) there is a Thunderclap promotion to allow you to win an eBook version of William's book. NOTE that Thunderclap will ask for permission to do the tweet/post on your behalf, it will NOT access your email address book. Only people taking part in the campaign will be eligible to win. That excludes shares and RTs.

You can also stand a chance to win, if you leave a comment (with you Twitter handle) on this post.

About the Author
The Glasgow Curse is my story in my words, a searing and real exposé of the Glasgow underworld that does not glamorise or hide the truth of violent crime. In the book I reveal the real facts behind the crimes I committed and the real facts behind the crimes which I was falsely accused of committing.
I was born in Exeter prison in England and into one of the most notorious criminal families in Scotland. My upbringing in the East End of Glasgow was reminiscent of a poverty stricken city in the early 70's, and I ended up in care, destined for a life of violence and incarceration. In prison I was at the forefront of some of the most shocking hostage taking and riots, and I was wrongly accused of some of Glasgow's most notorious gangland murders. Finally released from prison in 1998, I decided to walk away from crime but personal tragedy led me to a dependence on alcohol and drugs which nearly ended my life. Only in recent years have I found a measure of peace and stability, and now live peacefully in the highlands of Scotland. The Glasgow Curse is my story in my own words.

Connect with William online

* The winner will be drawn on 24 October 2014 from a random selection of the entrants via Thunderclap and this blog post's comments.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Design Your Own Book Cover: Guest Post by author Diane Rapp

If you can imagine a book cover, you can design one. I start with professional photos purchased from Shutterstock. When you purchase a photo you also purchase publishing rights (read the agreement before you buy). I buy background scenery and images of characters that match my novel. I currently use the Adobe PhotoShop Elements 10 program. (I tried the program free for 30 days, a good way to test the features.) The one feature that sold me on this particular program was the Magic Extractor (see how I used it later). 

Let me walk you through the step-by-step process I used to design the cover for my newest mystery/science fiction novel THE ALPHAS. Here are the three photos I bought:

Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 3

I suggest you practice using three pictures of your own while you follow these instructions. Open the Adobe PhotoShop program, choosing Edit. Start a new file by clicking File/New/Blank File. Change the boxes from pixels to inches and fill in the size of the picture you want to design (I chose 5.75” by 8.75”). Be sure to click 300 DPI so you get the highest quality.
Next open each picture in the program. Click File/Open and choose each photo from their saved location. Work on each photo separately before you combine them. When you edit a picture be sure to save it under a NEW file name so you don’t lose the original! 

After you’ve opened all the images, select the image you want to edit from the thumbnails at the bottom of the screen. I needed to turn the dog around so it faced towards the right. I clicked on Image/Rotate and selected Flip Horizontal. Click SAVE and choose a new file name. The next step is to eliminate the background around the animal by using the Photoshop “Magic Extractor” feature. Click Image and select Magic Extractor at the bottom of the pull down list. A new page opens with buttons that look like magic markers along the top left side. (Instructions are listed across the top of the page.)
Using the first magic marker, click around the edges of the image you want to keep, then switch to the next marker and click the background areas you want to eliminate. Don’t worry about doing it wrong. When finished, click preview and wait for your results. If you don’t like what you see, cancel and start again until satisfied. 
When you click preview, the new image displays the foreground and small grey boxes indicate the deleted background (these boxes disappear in the final picture). If the picture looks right, click okay and your new image will appear in the main editing area. Zoom in to identify stray spots that can be erased using the eraser tool along the left side. If too much got erased, close the photo without saving and reopen the original photo to try again. If you’re happy with everything, SAVE this photo as a Photoshop file using its NEW name. You can also save the photo as a JPEG file. The Photoshop files stay on your screen as these are the files you combine for the final cover. The JPEG images gets saved in your pictures file. See how my two images appear (in JPEG format) after I removed the existing backgrounds:
Image 1
Image 2
Now we will combine all three photos into one file. Open the background scenery file. Click Select/All and then click Edit/Copy. Double click to open the White background file waiting at the bottom of the editing screen and click Edit/Paste. The scenery is pasted across the white layer. 
Stretch the scene until it covers all the white showing. Move the scene to show the specific view of background you want and then click the green checkmark. SAVE this file as a Photoshop file under a NEW name designated for the cover design. (Note: You will now see Layers open on the bottom right of the editing screen. To work on any specific layer, click on that layer and it will be available to edit on the screen. You can change the size, position, or move the layer forward or backward.)
Next step, open one of the foreground images by double clicking an image displayed in the boxes at the bottom of the editing screen. Click Select/All and then Edit/Copy. Double-click to open the main Cover File again and click Edit/Paste. You should see the first foreground image appear on top of the background scenery. If you don’t see the new image, drag the picture box to shrink it and see all the edges are in the editing area, and then click the green checkmark. You may need to bring the picture forward to see it on top of the scenery. Click on Layer/Arrange/Bring to the Front. This should do the trick.
Once you see the foreground image in front of the background scenery, resize the image by dragging the edges and move the image until it is in the right position. When satisfied click the green checkmark. See #1 below (note that I left enough room at the top to add a title):

Repeat the same steps for the next foreground image. When I added the wolf image (see #2), her lower body ended in an abrupt angle across the front of the dog. I decided to push her image behind the dog image to hide this angle. I clicked Layer/Arrange/Send Backward to make this happen. Do not click “Send to Back” or the image disappears behind the background scenery. Image #3 shows the corrected placement of the wolf.The images are arranged to your satisfaction, so add titles. Click the Capital T tool along the left side and place the cursor over the part of the picture where you want to add the titles. Draw a box and you’ll see the outline. Font choices, size, color and alignment boxes are available for your personal choice across the header. You can mix font sizes in one box. Type the titles, change them until you have the look you prefer and then click the green arrow to set them. 

After you click the green arrow, a Style box will appear in the header. (You are still using the Title tool.) Click the pull down arrow to find different style choices. Play with these choice by clicking them to create shadows, outlining, depth, etc. See how you like the results. Click the green arrow to set your choices. 
Zoom in and examine your cover up close. If you see something that needs to be fixed, click on the layer you wish to edit and make the changes. You may need to click on the arrow tool (top choice on left side) since you were last using the Titles tool. Zoom in for a close look at any element. (I found stray white spots around the dog’s face.) Use the eraser tool to delete stray background around the edges of the new foreground images. It will only erase things in the layer you are working on, the background scenery layer remains intact. 

Final Cover Design
Save the final cover in a Photoshop file and again in a JPEG file. Use the JPEG version to insert a copy into a word processing file and shrink it to view a thumbnail to see how it looks. This shows how the cover reads as on the Amazon page or Kindle. When satisfied, upload the full-sized JPEG cover to Amazon KDP or use it for the front cover in Createspace. You need to be sure the titles are positioned far enough away from the edges to create a print cover in Createspace. Adjust the title placement or shrink the font until it works.

Buy the book

I hope this helped you learn to design a cover using Adobe PhotoShop Elements 10.  I enjoy making new friends and would be willing to answer questions after you try to design your own cover. 

About the Author

Diane Rapp became an entrepreneur when she started her own dog grooming salon in Santa Barbara, California. She spent the next thirty years as a small business owner; she sold real estate, started an office supply/copy center, and performed free-lance advertising design. During all those years Diane wrote stories as a cure for insomnia. the idea of writing a mystery set on cruise ships in the Caribbean.
Visit her website to learn more about all of Diane's books and contact her by e-mail.

Connect with Diane online:

Friday, 17 October 2014

Featured Book: Fallen Angel by Lynne Lexow

Set in South Africa, with all its current problems, Mo Quinn is born into a family with an indifferent mother and alcoholic father. Although very intelligent, far above average, he has little hope of becoming someone of significance, yet when life deals him another bad hand he embarks on a journey which teaches him the tremendous highs and terrible lows of life.
Throughout the story the reader becomes aware that Mo is no ordinary man and that he has another quest to complete, a quest not of this world.
We meet the people who become Mo’s friends and family and we also live through their pain and happiness, how it affects him and how it ultimately brings him to the final conclusion of his quest.

Buy links   Hardback    Amazon    B & N

About the Author
I have always been writing, often preferring to write than to speak. I tried many creative genre's, even a little modeling in my youth as well as dabbling in tv dramas, yet life intervened, husband, children and along with it the need for survival. For many years I acted as facilities manager, managing shopping centers. After some family trauma I decided that all that was left to me was to finally be true to myself and do what I have always dreamed of doing..writing and painting. It was a long, hard road to getting my first book published, but one I am grateful I finally took. My second, third and fourth novel already patiently waiting on my computer to be re-worked and hopefully also to be turned into the 'real thing', writing has now become a way of life.

Connect with Lynne online

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Featured Book: Core of Confliction by Rachel E.B. Robinson

Charles is just a low level runner with his own small crew and one hot sunny day during their lunch break they witness a bizarre event in a strip mall. Curiosity leads to Charles being drawn to an alien planet by a vortex where he learns not only that he himself is the leader of a nearly destroyed race but that his boss on Earth is a ruthless alien ruler named Halfar who caused the destruction of his beloved planet, Lassa.
As Charles regains his core and his memories, he discovers more secrets connected to the planet’s demise and his relationship with Halfar. How can he deliver the vengeance on every Lassian’s mind but still keep his secrets hidden.
Halfar, the supreme ruler of a planet far beyond our solar system, is passing the time on Earth by taking over crime syndicates in the U.S. His ultimate secret lies with Charles and his crew. He would do anything to keep Charles…and has. When everything starts to be unveiled, Halfar must decide if completing his conquest of an unprepared Earth is worth his time.

Their secrets lie with each other and they must choose whether to reconcile their differences or remain enemies.

Buy Links     Amazon    Barnes & Noble

Yakuza bosses were very stylish, Charles thought as the owner of the restaurant came out from behind a beaded curtain. His hair slicked back, secured in a tight ponytail, showed off his porcelain skin and distinct Asian features. The suit was an Armani, something Charles had a thing for and could identify on the spot. He felt a twinge of jealously.
“How much did that outfit set you back? I’m thinking of getting one next pay.”
Two of the young boys hit him from each side in the ribs. It took the air out of him and he slumped over, his forehead touching the filthy carpet. Addressing the boss directly was stupid but he never did have a filter when it came to authority. He found it amusing, their sense of superiority.
“What did you come here for, trash?” The owner was just as tall as his errand boys, towering over Charles and looking down on him with disgust.
“I just need to get a report to the Undersecretary but, you know…” Charles sat up and shrugged in defeat.
“No,” the owner cracked his knuckles, “I don’t.”
Charles realized his plan of gaining an audience with the owner of the restaurant in order to locate his source was more complicated than anticipated. Too many questions were not looked upon nicely. He prepared to receive his information with a bloody nose and a couple of bruised ribs. It was an expected outcome so he brushed it off and braced himself just as the owner plowed a fist into the side of his face. The owner asked him again and Charles gave a revised recount of the incident in the strip mall, leaving out transforming dogs and vortexes.
After giving Charles a brief reprieve from getting beaten, the owner nodded to his right hand man standing near the curtain. He disappeared for about two minutes which made Charles a little nervous about his chances of escaping. When the thug came back, he whispered into the owner’s ear.
“It seems you DO need to make a report, quickly.” He nodded to the man who scribbled something on a piece of paper and threw it down by Charles’ feet. “Get him out of here.” He turned and went back through the curtain, his thug in tow. Charles left by air as two of the younger boys stood at the entrance and tossed him out onto the sidewalk.

Author Bio
Rachel E.B. Robinson has had a passion for the written word since the age of seven, reading everything she could get her hands on which included encyclopedias and the thesaurus. At twelve, she had her first encounter with a Stephen King novel and was hooked. Rachel became inspired to write her own brand of fiction. Combining multiple genres is her way of keeping things interesting.
Always ready to learn new things, her search for knowledge never ceases. You will find her enrolled in someone’s college earning yet another degree. Rachel has an Accounting degree, went to Cosmetology school and studied Digital Film and Video. Her current stint is working towards an AAS in Business Entrepreneurship.
 She is a huge Anime fan, loves a great bottle of wine and rocks out to heavy metal music. Green and lush Oregon is where she currently resides spinning imaginary worlds in her head and daydreaming.

Connect with Rachel online:

Monday, 13 October 2014

Guest Feature: The Demon Stone by Christopher Datta

Today I'm excited to bring you a Guest Post and Kind Fire Giveaway from Chris Datta. His first Novel Touched with Fire was a number one best-seller in the Historical Fiction category, and this supernatural thriller lives up to the high expectations readers have for this talented author.

The Demon Stone by Christoper Datta

The Demon Stone is a powerful supernatural thriller that leads you from the killing fields of Africa to the quiet Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota. In braided narratives, Datta spins a terrifying story about the spiritual forces—both real and supernatural—that incite the basest, bloodiest and most frightening of human behaviors.
"Reading Chris Datta is like riding a rollercoaster. It’s a fast ride filled with twists and turns. His Demon Stone is scary fun. Stephen King, watch your back!"
-Richard Rashke, author of The Killing of Karen Silkwood
Amazon.comBarnes & Noble

Guest Post by Chris Datta

We’re coming up on Halloween and this is the book you need to read to get ready for the scare! But don’t take my word for it.
“Don’t read this one before you go to bed. And if you do, leave the lights on.”
—Hill Rag Magazine, Washington DC
The Demon Stone is a powerful supernatural thriller that leads you from the killing fields of Africa to the quiet Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota. In braided narratives, I spin a terrifying story about the spiritual forces—both real and supernatural—that incite the basest, bloodiest and most frightening of human behaviors.
When Kevin volunteered to travel to a war-ravaged country in Africa to help out his childhood buddy, Bill, now a physician with Doctors Without Borders, he knew he might face danger. But he could not have envisioned the brief, nightmare encounter that would rob him of his friend, his principles, and quite possibly his sanity. When he returns to his family in the United States, he carries with him not only survivors’ guilt, but, according to a grizzled old juju man in the service of a warlord, a powerful demon.
Liz cannot understand why, precisely, she agreed to go camping with her old college friend Kevin and his sullen teenage daughter, but it was clear that in the wake of his sudden divorce and a horrific family tragedy, Kevin needed someone to lean on. The canoeing trip in the Boundary Waters was supposed to be an escape, an opportunity to bring back the old Kevin. But once in the forests, Kevin’s behavior grows increasingly off-kilter, and Liz feels a growing sense of unease, one that ripens into fear. As the trio glide further into the wilderness, it becomes clear that someone, or something, is stalking them.
I have been a civil conflict specialist with the U.S. State Department, last serving in the newly established embassy in South Sudan. In the course of a long and distinguished career, I have gone into places best known for genocide and bloody conflagration. This novel, which grows out of my experience in the field, is a provocative meditation on the nature of evil.


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About the Author

Chris1Debut author CHRISTOPHER DATTA is no stranger to civil conflict or the still-extant scourge of slavery. Most recently the acting ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan where he helped end a war in April of 2012, he has spent a distinguished career moving from one strife-torn country to another, including Lebanon, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. A lifelong student of the American Civil War, his research for Touched with Fire is exacting and based in part on a true story.