Friday, 31 October 2014

Featured Book: Maurpikios Fiddler - The True Meaning of Magic by MJ Logan

In the small town of Hallows Creek beware of what you assume; things are not always what they seem. The Fiddler’s appear to be the picture perfect family, but they harbor deep dark secrets that are about to be unleashed on the stability of an entire world. Even after realizing the terrible twin diseases are one in the same, childhood cancer and scorpioma, it is still a race to save the lives of their children. A century old treaty had ended years of war and is now vulnerable to a long held prophecy that foretells the emergence of a champion. Could that Champion be young Maurpikios Fiddler? Unfortunately, for every champion, there will be dark forces to oppose his greatness. Radu Vrotsos, a wealthy philanthropist and a maniacal wizard, is vehemently against the integration of the magicals and the non-magicals. It is his hope to bring the world to submission under one of the darkest and most evil powers in existence.
A sudden attack of excruciating headaches and horrifying dreams will be the horrific antecedent to Maurpikios Fiddler’s journey. Unexpectedly, he will find himself in the position of facing down the enemy as well as his own mortality. He swiftly soars into a world of chaos where he is suddenly exposed to the staunch reality of magic intertwined with danger, curses, evil witches and wizards and infinite adventure. This magically enchanting quest involves other children like himself, a scroll that reveals the secrets of a family, a golden scepter and a stone destined only for the hands of the chosen one. Maurpikios Fiddler will discover just how the secrets of the Fiddler family affect his own destiny and the entire town of Hallows Creek. He will have no choice but to display true bravery, accept his destiny, and ultimately discover the True Meaning of Magic.

Amazon Buy Links   Kindle   Paperback   Hardback  

The story behind Maurpikios Fiddler
In 2012, the most amazing transformation took place. An enchanting fantasy novel was born out of real life tragedy. After only two years in the realm of academia, I accepted the 10th Accolade as an Award winning professor at a Major Flagship University. As a wife, a mother, and a medical practitioner, I was on top of the world, and nothing could have slowed me down. However, that is what I thought. On February 29, 2012 my eleven year old son was diagnosed with a rare cancerous brain tumor, and my life was turned up-side-down. Within weeks following total brain resection, we up rooted our lives, and moved over 600 miles away for radiation and chemotherapy treatment at one of the nation’s leading hospitals in childhood cancers. The immediate aura of the hospital was magical, and each day spent throughout the eight month ordeal did not motivate me to write an “oh woe is me book”, but one that mirrored the magic and miracles that both I and my child experienced during this ordeal.
This magical story is the result of my own coping mechanism as my child endured cancer treatment. He is an eleven year old boy with big hopes and dreams, and an avid reader, with an amazing love for fantasy fiction. More important, alongside the warriors of this amazing hospital he fought a victorious battle against childhood cancer. This is a story of life, love, loyalty, family, friendship, and most of all faith in God. It is set in a world of fairies and angels, and all things magical. However, it is loosely based on the real life journey of an amazing child who discovered the True Meaning of Magic. This story is told through the experience of imaginary characters, yet all of the characters are a culmination of every wonderful child, family, medical provider, nurse, administrator, and staff that we encountered in our journey. I wanted to share not only our experience but the magical blessings that were received by my family and the other families, as we all discovered the true meaning of magic.

About the Author
M. J. Logan resides in the Southeastern region of the U.S. Logan's doctoral education was earned at a major university in the Southeast as well. Logan has two boys and has been happily married for over 13 years. Most recent service was in academia as a college professor. Logan is an avid reader, has a love for fantasy, and 20 years in health care, spending much time working with youth ranging from five years old to young adult. Recent personal tragedy steered Logan toward the fight against childhood cancer, and henceforth the birth a new kind of magical hero- Maurpikios Fiddler.
Dr. Logan boasts accolades and accomplishments in healthcare as well as in academia. Logan's favorite charity is Saint Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis Tennessee. There are a list of writing credits related to academic studies and practices, yet this is a debut work in the realm of fiction. The Maurpikios Fiddler series is to be rolled out over the next few years with the True Meaning of Magic being the first of a journey for the next generation of fantasy lovers.

Connect with MJ online

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Featured Book: Dark Side of a Promise by Allan Hudson

How far will a man go for a promise? It has been three years since Amber Payne and her friend were murdered in Venezuela while on holidays. The man responsible, Bartolommeo Rizzato, has never been found. Williston Payne, Amber’s brother, searches the world over for him. He has been sighted in Bangladesh. Payne turns to his best friend, a former soldier. Drake Alexander makes Williston a promise. 
Dark Side of a Promise is a tale of revenge, not only for Williston and Alexander but for Andrew Stratton, a tortured soul that seeks recompense for his own losses, his two children. Drake Alexander encounters more danger than he anticipated when the man he is pursuing joins forces with Stratton to undertake a reprisal so diabolical it defies all sensibilities. 

From the shores of New Brunswick to the busy rivers of Dhaka, Dark Side takes you on an international journey. Alexander, his band of ex-soldiers, a French expat and a stalwart Bengali cop are closing in on the man they seek only to discover a sinister plot to murder hundreds of innocent people. Can they stop it?
Buy Links   Amazon  
Drake leans against the wall of Inspector Chowdhury’s office and crosses his arms. He had been sitting in the same chair Mireille had occupied the day before, telling Chowdhury of the events of the last three years. He had been speaking for over an hour when he had gotten up to stretch half way through, his muscles taut from the day’s action and frustration. He had paced about the office as he related the rest of his story before leaning back against the wall.
The Inspector had interrupted occasionally for clarification on some points of Drake’s narrative but mostly sat unmoving, wrapped up in the details. Drake began by telling Chowdhury of finding Amber and Sakeema, who they were, the condition their bodies were found in. In those very first sentences, Bitan learnt a great deal about the stranger in his office. When Drake had been itemizing the girls’ terrible wounds, he had choked up. Chowdhury, who had been listening while writing his own notes, had looked up at Drake when he had gone quiet. The man was looking him directly in the eyes, not downcast, not covert, and not ashamed. Chowdhury could tell the effort it was taking Drake not to blink. The inspector stared back only for a second, dropping his gaze out of respect. He continued to write when Drake speaks again, stops writing and drops his pencil. The notes can wait, he believes, and listens intently.
“So you see, Inspector, every trail we follow has always led us back to Central America, but it goes cold when you set foot on the isthmus. He could be in the Honduras, Belize, Panama, Guatemala, we don’t know. All we know is that he’s involved in something here in Dhaka. Men, we can safely assume work for him, are chasing one of the slain girls cousin’s, who by the freakiest chance heard someone speak Rizzato’s name.”
“Why didn’t you contact someone in our departments when you arrived”? He asks, his English precise, his accent euphonic.
“Well, as I told you earlier, law enforcement agencies have not been effective in finding Rizzato. It has always been an international screw-up, with arguments over jurisdiction. The girls were in Venezuela, so agents there are involved. The girls were foreigners, one American, one Saudi Arabian living in the U.S.A. on a student visa, so those countries are involved. Bartolommeo Rizzato is a wanted man in several countries, so when his name popped up, they all got involved. Now your people will be involved. Do I need to go on, Inspector? Can’t you see the bureaucratic mess? We had originally planned to do this on our own. But Rae is right, it’s important for us to stay on the right side of the law. I think we need to work together. I have good people with me and we can find him. Let us bring him in.”

About the Author
I've been reading since my mother - a school teacher - brought home Dick and Jane. I discovered The Hardy Boys when I was 10 and read everything I can get my hands on, even the milk carton when I'm having breakfast. I've made a living either by selling things or building things. It’s been a wonderful trip so far. Along the way I met my fantastic wife, Gloria. After all the years of going on about writing, it was she that finally sent me to the computer with the admonition to either write or shut up.
Bryce Courtenay is in my opinion one of the finest storytellers to have ever lived (Died Dec/2012 RIP) and he started writing in his fifties - an inspiration. Harlan Coban.....his Myron Bolitar is one of my favorite characters, another inspiration. So to those three in particular, thank you for prompting me to finally start writing, one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life.
I have a son, two stepsons, lovely daughter-in-laws, and three fantastic grandchildren. I live in the seaside community of Cocagne, New Brunswick, Canada.
Connect with Allan online:
The South Branch Scribbler  or

Friday, 24 October 2014

Featured Book: Again David's Having Distractions by Teresa Oliver

Again David's Having Distractions (an acronym for ADHD) is a humorous story of a nine year old boy who absolutely hates school. David, the main character, begins the story by explaining how different he is from the other kids in his class especially his rival Michael Hunter. He uses his strong wit and natural sarcastic nature to ensure the reader totally understands how he feels.
Next, David takes the reader on a small journey into his home life. David comes from an upper middle class prestigious family. He likes to call them "The Perfects"- only David is not so perfect. He has an older sister, Emma, who is a bit of a “priss” and a younger brother, Aaden, who is absolutely adorable. His mom and dad are very stern parents especially when it comes to school.
This year David's class is competing with the rest of his elementary school for winners of this year’s Fall Festival. If his class wins, they get to take a field trip to the local amusement park for a day of fun. Also, within each class there is a competition to see which student has the best game for Fall Festival. David, unfortunately, has to host the worst game of all, Friggin Chicken, and his rival is hosting the game he really wants. Everyone in the entire school thinks this game is the most awful and teases David because he HAS to host this game.
In order for David to not become the laughing stock of the entire school and beat Michael Hunter, he has to be creative and add his "own" special flare to Friggin Chicken. However, when he tries the entire game falls apart. So what can David do? How can he beat Michael Hunter and avoid becoming the laugh in stock of the entire school? You'll have to read to find out!

Currently, Again David’s Having Distractions has been used in several elementary schools to help bring awareness to neurodiversity while also giving students who may feel ‘out of place’ something they can relate to. The children’s story has been review in a Finland magazine, and is being considered in and ADHD conference in the Philippines.

Buy Links     Amazon 


About the Author
Teresa Oliver was born in Gary, Indiana, but she considers herself to be an Atlanta native. She has been in the city for almost 30 years.  Although Teresa grew up with two very supportive parents, she was raised in a single parent home by her mother Judy Lovette. As a young child, Teresa often expressed her creative side through singing and dancing. She was involved in several girl singing groups, and was in chorus from second grade through her senior year in high school. Also as a young child, the author attended Marlene Rounds Dance School in inner city Atlanta. She studied ballet, tap, jazz, and Afro-centric dance. As Teresa was getting older, her mother moved her and her older sister to the suburbs in hopes to provide a better life and for them to have a better education.  Shortly after high school, Teresa gave birth to her son Jayden Oliver. During this time, Teresa discovered her true passion- education. Teresa began her freshman year at Clayton State University in 2005, as an education major. After considering the teacher education program, she decided that education was too rigid and she wanted something with more flexibility. Therefore, she changed her major to psychology. Shortly after graduating, she decided to re-enroll at Clayton State University for a Master’s degree in Applied Developmental Psychology.  Before entering the program, Teresa spent one year as a teacher at a school for students who had unique learning profiles or who were formally labeled “learning disabled.” Shortly after working there, she noticed that many, if not all, of the children were not learning disabled. They simply had a unique way of viewing the world and learning. She knew then it was her job and duty to understand their minds. She also began to notice her son struggling in school. Teresa wanted to use the knowledge she gained in the Master’s program and combine it with her creative writing skills to tell a story. She wanted students who were struggling, whether academically, physically, socially, or emotionally, to have someone or something that they could relate to. Teresa believes, “As a society, we make big deals of individuals who are the best or those who are number one, and we have empathy for those disabilities that are easily seen or easily detected. However, it is the invisible `disabilities’ that are swept under the rug and overlooked.”  So her first novel is for those individuals!
Connect with Teresa online

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: