Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Thank you to the Reviewers!

I have a confession to make: once I have a book published, I sort of forget about it. Not completely or irrevocably, but I move on to the next project. Often the next book is already a completed first draft, or close to getting there. My head is filled with ideas and since I started writing at a fairly mature age (read thirty or so) I have a lot of time to make up to get all my ideas written, edited, or published.
Today I browsed around on Goodreads to see which of my books I still have to add, and the status of the ones on my bookshelf where I need to write a review or ten.
Somewhere in this browsing, I came across reviews for STORM Vol I and Vol II which were a group project published last year. I was flabbergasted at the nice things people wrote about the stories in both volumes.
If you recall STORM is an anthology around a common theme, but any genre suitable for adults (excluding erotica) were allowed for the contributing authors.
Personally I have published two more books since STORM, but it was truly a wonderful experience to be reminded that there are other people who enjoy reading as much as I do. Discovering authors unknown to them and being surprised at the stories they wrote.

It also reminded me that books I read and review for other authors, will hopefully inspire them to write more books for me to enjoy.
A big thank you for each and every reader that takes the time to write a review, you make an author's day every time!

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Saturday, 18 July 2015

Guest Post: In Praise of the Freak by Francis H Powell

There are no real alluring protagonists in my short stories,  if truth be told, there are a few female beauties, however I more glamorize  and  lionize the freaks of this world, those not accepted by this world…the ultimate  outsiders.  We live in a world in which everybody is ideally “body perfect”.  People have this crazy fetish of “selfies”.  Does this mean a generation of narcissists has been born? 
With my stories I mock this kind of culture.  Perhaps one of my favorite characters is called Bugeyes.  The character name is a bit of a giveaway, he has disproportionate bulging  eyes. Where I got this idea I can’t remember.  The character always receives a volley of insults such as “moth eyes”.  I don’t know what kind of school you went to, but I recall anyone who was remotely physically out of the ordinary, would be liable to cruel mockery.  A lot of the dialogue I write is cruel insults or verbal jousting. 
Bugeyes is born into an aristocratic family (genetically inbred). Immediately after his birth his mother rejects him, on account of his oversized eyes.  He is dispatched to live with another family. Later his mother gives birth baby girl, who has the same characteristics as her brother…once again she is dispatched out sight, out of mind. However she develops into a beauty, and large eyes become all the rage.  I was inspired by Sophie Dahl (the model) who I think has rather large eyes, as well as being an over-sized model. 
In another of stories, “Flawless” the story revolves around a man called Sirius Piecroft, who is at the point of proposing to  the woman of his dreams, when an insect flies into his mouth. A few days later he develops a terrible skin disease. After a period of time his “fiancé” Julia, begins to neglect him, then finally she announces she is going to marry Jonas, Sirius’ younger brother. This terrible betrayal, spirals Sirius into a fast descent to madness.  I suppose the point I am trying to make is akin to the old adage “beauty is only skin deep”.  The story emphasizes how fickle people are, when a person’s appearance deteriorates, so does the woman’s love for him.  
In Victorian times you could pay money to see freaks,  there were the bearded ladies, included amongst these was Julia Pastrana resembled more of an ape than a woman.  The sad fact of the matter was Pastrana, a Mexican-born woman suffered from hypertrichosis, a disease that causes the person to be covered from head to toe in long, thick hair.  Added to which she had a large nose and thick lips.  She later had the indignity of being mummified, along with the still born child she gave birth to, who had the same features as her.  Freak shows are a terrible indictment of the Victorian times, a time when Britain was  at the height of imperialism. 
John Merrick,  more commonly known as “The Elephant man” had the most unimaginable skin disease, allegedly suffering from elephantiasis.  Like some of the characters in my book,  poor John Merrick,  was an object of curiosity and ridicule throughout his life. His body was characterized by his malformed head, curved spine, "lumpy" skin and overgrown right arm and hand.  His life was brought further to the public’s attention, with David Lynch’s  file “The Elephant man”.  The real reason for Merrick’s  severe condition is even to this day open to conjecture. 
What we can say is you are unfortunate to be born with   a condition like John Merrick’s  you will have much suffering  to endure and will need the kind of  indomitable  spirit that John Merrick possessed. From the moment we are born, we are dealt different cards of fate, some .
With my short stories, the oppressed often rise up and win the end.  I have always admired the underdog…and have often felt a bit of an outsider myself.  With short stories, you face limits, you have  create characters, that the reader will immediately identify with, so an outsider is a good source of reference.  You have to create strong dialogue.  You have to create an opening sentence like no other, that grabs the reader’s attention… Bugeyes begins with… Bug-eyes was due a life of toil.  Another story “Seed” begins with Captain Spender’s wife was ovulating.  The last story in my book “Cast from Hell” begins with “There it was: I was to be banished from hell.” The ends have to have a dramatic twist, with events leading up to this. 
If your skin is far from perfect…or your ears jut out further than most, perhaps your teeth are all at odd angles, your eyes are bulbous, your nose so terribly pronounced, it looks like you could spear somebody in the eye,  just  indulge yourself with individuality of your features, don’t concern yourself with the judgmental natures of others, in a world that expects nothing short of body perfect…  
About the Author
What better way to put all my angst into short stories. Born in a commuter belt city called Reading, like many a middle or upper class child of such times I was shunted off to an all-male boarding school aged eight, away from my parents for up to twelve weeks at a time, until I was 17.  While at my first Art college, I met a writer called Rupert Thomson, who was in the process of writing his first book “Dreams of leaving”. His personality and wit resonated, long losing contact with him.  Later I lived in Austria, in 1999 I moved to Paris.  During my time in Paris I met Alan Clark, who had a literary magazine called Rat Mort (dead rat). I began contributing and got hooked on writing short stories.  My book Flight of Destiny is a result of this obsession.  I also write poetry.
Connect with Francis online
Flight of Destiny is a collection of short stories about misfortune. They are characterized by unexpected final twists, that come at the end of each tale. They are dark and surreal tales, set around the world, at different time periods. They show a world in which anything can happen. It is hard to determine reality and what is going on a disturbed mind. People's conceptions about morality are turned upside down. A good person can be transformed by an unexpected event into a bad person and then back again to their former state. The high and mighty often deliver flawed arguments, those considered wicked make good representations of themselves. Revenge is often a subject explored.  


Monday, 13 July 2015

Book Feature: HURRICANE COLTRANE by Taya Okerlund

Merrill Hinton is a lightning rod in a town named for bad weather. He's an ace in math, but not smart enough to put together the pieces of his puzzling life, especially where finding his unknown father is concerned.
Musical genius Robbie Stubbs was born in nearby polygamist compound Colorado City. He has the chops to become another John Coltrane, but that will take running away from home, and into a firestorm of controversy--the kind his friend Merrill knows best.
Merrill sets Robbie onto a course that could rocket them both onto center stage, but being the focus of wide public attention will create serious issues. Robbie's mother is not well, and the shock of her son breaking the family rules like this may put her over the edge.
And Merrill Hinton? His precarious future will be compromised in ways he doesn't yet realize.

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About the Author
As a child I lived in every time zone of the lower fourty-eight states and Alaska, and I studied in East Asia, but my roots reach deep into the southern Utah desert where most of my family still live. Right now, I've set up house keeping on the San Francisco Peninsula where I live with my story-adoring husband and daughter who keep me creatively inspired.

Author web site: http://www.tayaokerlund.com



Thursday, 2 July 2015

Book Feature: Seed of Hope by Fiona Tarr

Synopsis
As rumours surface about the new King, his young wife and her unborn child, the prophet Nathaniel will insist that King David seek the Ark of the Covenant of God. Yet, with a trail of tortured bodies appearing from nowhere, with no explanation, it will be clear that General Martinez must be called back from retirement.
As General Martinez leaves his quiet and comfortable days in the field behind him, he will realise that a return to the service of the King must once more take priority over the pursuit of love.
The Egyptian Princess Jezebel will push the pain of betrayal from her mind, instead, replacing it with rage and a longing for revenge. Her magic and powers of seduction may not have been enough to bring the Israeli Kingdom to its knees, but now, the General, the King, and the Priestess will all pay for the death of her father and her banishment from the Royal Palace of the Pharaoh.
As the King seeks the Ark, a new mystery will arise. A new born child will be prophesied; a child of great influence and power. Many men of God will make claim to know the origin of the child, but only the little Holy man will truly know and understand. Old enemies will conspire, as the Universe will reunite old friends to save the life of a loved one, to seek the Ark and to fight to restore balance once more.

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The Story Behind Seed of Hope
When I started writing, I didn’t really plan past my first book, Destiny of Kings. That book took six years to complete, but I was so inspired and I enjoyed the process so much I started on Seed of Hope shortly after I published book one.
I love the idea of a series of books, but as a busy person, I also understand it is good to be able read individual editions without waiting for sequels to come out. Seed of Hope begins a few years after Destiny of King. Although general Martinez is still a main character and a lot of the story is told from his point of view, this story dives much deeper into the character of Jezebel and readers will hear her most inner thoughts. Her story is dark and she can only remember little pieces of it; which she recalls throughout the book.
Like book one, Seed of Hope finds the grey areas which so often lie between good and evil. The story is driven by its characters as much as by the plot. Many of the characters have untold stories still to come in book three and four. This story is more complex than the first, but I think readers will still follow it easily.
People might wonder why I have chosen to use the world of Old Testament Israel for a base. To best honest, I didn’t realise why myself when I began. Whether you believe the Bible stories or not doesn’t really matter. The recount of historical Israel is full of interesting characters, complex historical moments and so much untold intrigue. It is this untold story I get lost in when I write. I hope you do too.

About the Author:
I am a wife, mum of two boys aged 15 & 23 and a full-time small business owner. As a prolific blogger, I host a number of blogs including a small business blog, family business blog and my author’s blog. When I am not writing, I enjoy kitesurfing and stand up paddle boarding. I live in sunny Noosa, Queensland Australia and love the surf, sun and spending time with family and friends.  

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