Bad News

Sunday, 12 July 2015

My laptop has finally given up on life. One day I'm typing like the wind and the next it won't even turn on which means there won't be any posts until I can get a new one. Sorry about that!

Blog Tour: Sleeping with the Blackbirds

Monday, 6 July 2015

Hey guys, welcome to Confessions of a Bookaholic's very first blog tour! Alex Pearl, author of the YA novel Sleeping with the Blackbirds will be joins us in this thrill ride of a tour!

The novel has been described by author and screenwriter George Layton as "A delightful fairy story that deals sensitively and compellingly with real, modern-day issues like homelessness, single mums and abusive parents."

Here is the synopsis: 

Eleven-year-old, Roy Nuttersley has been dealt a pretty raw deal. While hideous parents show him little love and affection, school bullies make his life a misery. So Roy takes comfort in looking after the birds in his garden, and in return the birds hatch a series of ambitious schemes to protect their new friend. As with the best-laid plans, however, these get blown off course - and the lives of both Roy and his arch tormentor, Harry Hodges are turned upside down - but in a good way.

Find out more on Goodreads | Amazon | Website

There are a number of events involved from reviews and guest posts to interviews and giveaways.

The tour schedule is below, visit as many as you like! 

6th July - Book Wormie Spot - Guest Post
7th July - Mallory Heart Reviews - Review
8th July - CK Books Blog - Review 
9th July -  Mousiey Books - Review
10th July - Books and Barrels  - Review 
13th July - Daniela Ark's Blog - Interview
14th July - Lovely Paranormal Books - Guest Post
                 - Tanya Robinson 100 - Review
15th July - A.E. Albert: A Writer's Blog - Interview
16th July - A Cascade of Books - Interview 
17th July - Poseidon99 - Guest Post

Sunday Spotlight: Sandra Saidak, author of Daughter of the Goddess Lands

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Sunday Spotlight is a weekly scheme I am running to bring publicity to lesser known authors who, in the book blogging community, it is important to support.

I am NO LONGER accepting submissions for my spotlight scheme.

Today I am hosting Sandra Saidak, author of Daughter of the Goddess Lands.

About Sandra
Sandra Saidak is a high school English teacher by day, author by night.  Her hobbies include reading, dancing, attending science fiction conventions, researching prehistory, and maintaining an active fantasy life (but she warns that this last one could lead to dangerous habits such as writing).  Sandra lives in San Jose with her husband Tom, daughters Heather and Melissa, and two cats.  
Writers she counts as her greatest influences include Jean Auel, Spider Robinson, Zena Henderson, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Ursula Le Guin.

Sandra’s prehistoric fiction series, Kalie’s Journey began with the novel, Daughter of the Goddess Lands, an epic set in the late Neolithic Age, and published in November 2011 by Uffington Horse Press.  Book 2 of the series, Shadow of the Horsemen, was released in July of 2012.  A story set in the Kalie universe can be found in Sandra’s short story collection, In the Balance.
Sandra loves to hear from her readers, so feel free to post a comment on her Author’s Page, or her website.

Interview

Hi Sandra! Thank you for joining us at Confessions of a Bookaholic.
I know you write prehistoric and alternate history fiction but many of my readers won’t be familiar with those genres, will you explain what they entail?
Prehistoric fiction is generally viewed as anything which takes place before the birth of writing, anywhere in the world.  When set in Asia or the Middle East, it often bumps into Biblical fiction or new takes on the Classics, like the Trojan War. Generally, prehistoric fiction relies on archeology and a really good imagination, since very little information from those times can be proven—or agreed upon.  Alternate History is taking any real event in history and asking: “What if things had gone the other way?”  What if the South had won the Civil War?  What if Nazi Germany had won WWII?  What if the Black Plague had wiped out 90% of Europe in the fourteenth century instead of 30%?  What if Islamic Africa became the dominant power and colonized the America with slaves brought from Europe?  And yes, there are novels about each of the scenarios I just mentioned.

How easy is it to maintain a balance between fact and fiction in your work?   
I’ve studied archeology since I was twelve, so I’ve got a pretty good library now.  I find the balance easy to maintain because the research only gives me ideas, pictures of artifacts, and information on what the climate was at a certain time and place.  The characters I create tell me the story I’m going to write, and that’s when the real work begins.

Tell us about your Kalie’s Journey series!  
The problem with this question is that I could talk about this series all day, and I’m sure your readers will eventually have to move on to other things.   Kalie’s Journey is about the culture-clash that occurred when peaceful, Goddess-worshiping farmers first encountered violent, nomadic horsemen in what is now Eastern Europe and Russia.  It takes place about six thousand years ago, and there is a lively debate in professional circles about how much of what I show in my books actually occurred. What no one disputes, however, is that the abuse of women that I describe in my fiction is very much a fact of life in many parts of the world today.  I was inspired to write these books after reading the work of Mary Mackey, Joan Wolf, Judith Tarr and Joan Dahr Lambert.  I loved their books, but none of them had exactly the heroine I wanted to read about, or the confrontation I wanted to see between characters who hold such strongly opposing views.  So I wrote my own book, which grew into a series.  My favorite part was starting out with a character who had survived abuse and trauma, and traveling with her as she grew from an angry victim to a powerful hero.

I read that you are an English teacher; do you believe that daily interaction with young writers influences your own writing in any way?
Unfortunately, most of my students are not big fans of either reading or writing. It’s more a case of the students themselves inspiring my writing.  I teach high school and teenager’s lives are so full of drama—whether they want it that way or not.  Sometimes, when my students misbehave, I threaten to put them in my next novel.  This actually helps, because they always want to know what characters they would become.  I like to think that being a published author gives me more credibility than I had before.  I tell them, “I know what I’m talking about because I don’t just read books, I write them.”  For those students who do enjoy reading, I think that helps.  The ones who don’t like reading don’t seem very impressed to have a published author as a teacher, except when they ask me how much money I've made.

What authors have influenced your writing the most?
There are so many, and the answer constantly changes, depending on what I’m writing (or thinking about, or living through) at any given moment.  Jean Auel, of course, since she remade the genre of prehistoric fiction, and made it so popular that there’s now room for writers like me.  The rest are all in the science fiction/fantasy realm: Spider Robinson, Robert Heinlein, Zena Henderson, Orson Scott Card and Marion Zimmer Bradley.  There are many more, but that should give your readers an idea about me.

Tell us about the most interesting character you have created.
I think my most interesting is Adolf Goebbels, the main character of my upcoming book, From the Ashes.  Adolf is my only male protagonist to date, but—much to my surprise—he was the easiest to write.  A privileged son of the ruling class in a world where Nazi Germany won WWII, Adolf is probably the nicest, humblest and most empathic character I’ve created.  Although Ilsa, originally created as Adolf’s love interest, tried to hijack the novel, I managed to satisfy her by putting her in charge of the military side of the revolution.  A terrible soldier (because he doesn’t want to hurt anyone), but a brilliant leader and visionary, Adolf showed me strengths I didn’t know I had as writer—and a person.

How important do you believe it is for writers to read widely?  
I don’t know many writers who don’t love to read.  I certainly do.  I can’t speak to “widely” since that means something different for each person.  I enjoy fiction over non-fiction, but within that genre, I read science fiction, fantasy, historical from almost any period, and all kinds of mainstream fiction.  I sometimes read books in the genre I’m writing as a form of research, but if a book doesn't hold my interest, I don’t finish it.  

What should we look out for from you in the future?  
This summer, I will be making my debut in alternate history with From the Ashes, a novel set in a future where Nazi Germany won WWII. The inspiration came from a documentary I saw long ago, when a historian explained that one of the plans of SS Chief Heinrich Himmler was to create a series of museums showcasing vanished races (this would be after he and his government finished exterminating them).  But the result was that, even while the war raged, many Jewish books and artifacts were preserved for this purpose.  (I don’t know anything about other groups, such as Gypsies, although I would love to find out.)  It came to me one day, more than twenty years ago, that a world under Nazi rule would be a pretty terrible place to grow up, even for the children of the ruling class.  What would happen, I wondered, if an angst-ridden adolescent, dreaming of a better world, or looking for meaning in his life, wandered into one of these museums—and started reading?  Before I knew it, I had young Adolf Goebbels (grandson of Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda) leading a group of college outcasts, ready to overthrow the government—with Judaism as their guide.

I read that you have cats called Cocu and Oreo, they sound adorable. I’m sure my readers want to hear more about!    
Cocu, the older cat, is a Japanese bobtail.  I’d never even heard of that breed until my husband met one and fell in love with him.  Cocu is nearly pure white and, of course, has that stubby little bobtail that makes me laugh when he wags it.  My husband is more of a dog person, and insists this cat is really a dog wearing a cat suit.  I think the word cocu is a form of ancient Japanese currency or measure of rice; I never did get it figured out.  Oreo, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, is black and white.  He’s a rescue cat we adopted.  I wanted to name him Tuxedo, but was outvoted by the rest of the family.  A scrawny kitten when we brought him home, Oreo now outweighs Cocu by several pounds, but Cocu is still the dominate one—for both the felines and humans in the house

 Finally, is there anything else you wish the readers of Confessions of a Bookaholic to know?  
I really love to hear from my readers, and I also love book discussions.  Put those two together (discussions about the books I write) and I’ll be on cloud 9.  If anyone reading this interview decides to start reading my books, I hope you’ll post a review, comment on my blog, or start a discussion somewhere (but if you do, please tell me where, or I may not know about it!)  I also hope to see you in a discussion of favorite books we turn out to have in common.

About Daughter of the Goddess Lands
Daughter of the Goddess Lands is the unforgettable saga of Kalie, a courageous young heroine born into the untamed beauty of prehistoric Europe. Kalie's peaceful life is shattered when a brutal attack by horsemen from the east leave her scarred in body and soul. As the sole survivor of the assault, Kalie makes her way home, and warns her people to prepare for the invasion that she knows is coming. But the goddess-worshiping farmers of her home have no concept of battle, and dismiss Kalie's warning. 
When the marauders strike again, they cut a swath of destruction and death that prove too late the truth of Kalie’s words. Then Haraak, the leader of the invaders, demands a tribute of gold, grain and slaves in exchange for sparing her village. It is in Harak's cruel show of power that Kalie sees a chance to save her people--and gain revenge for herself. 
She leads a group of volunteers to infiltrate the horseman's society, and then destroy them from within. Once she is among them, Kalie uses her skill as a storyteller, and her knowledge of healing to penetrate the horsemen’s inner circle and to discover the secrets that could lead to their destruction. But Kalie discovers that price of revenge is high, and that a quest for vengeance can become a journey of healing and redemption.

Tell Sandra and I what you thought of the Spotlight! 

Review: King's Warrior by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

Thursday, 2 July 2015

King's Warrior (The Minstrel's Song, #1)Series: The Minstrel's Song #1
Genre: Fantasy 
Release Date: February 29th 2012
Source: Received from author in exchange for an honest review
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
Cover Rating: 4/5 Stars
Synopsis: Six hundred years ago the land of Aom-igh was threatened with invasion by the Dark Country across the Stained Sea; in their danger King Llian sought the help of the dragons and the myth-folk. Graldon, King of the Dragons, granted the human king with a gift that would help him defeat his enemies. Graldon also promised King Llian that the dragons would come to the humans’ aid should Aom-igh ever be in such danger again. Years passed, and Aom-igh remained safe and isolated from its enemies. The dragons slowly disappeared and faded into legend and myth, and people forgot magic had ever existed. 
When her kingdom is threatened by the Dark Country once again, the headstrong Princess Kamarie sets off on a quest to find the man who may be able to save them all: the former King’s Warrior. Traveling with her are two companions: her eccentric maid, and a squire who resents his charge to travel with and protect the princess. However, finding the legendary hero proves to be the least of their worries. Together the companions encounter more than they ever bargained for. A beautiful gatekeeper, a sword fashioned by dragons, enemies who pursue them relentlessly and hound them at every turn, and an underground world full of mythical creatures are just the beginning of their adventures. 
As they search for the answers to mystifying riddles and seek a way to save everything they hold dear the comrades will learn a little about courage, a lot about truth, and more about themselves than they ever imagined. But if they can succeed in their quest, they may join worlds together. 
First Line:Graldon, King of the dragons, mighty lord of the skies over Aom-igh, handed the golden sword to the mere man who stood before him.

I always say that I am not a fan of fantasy but this keeps being disproved again and again as I delve further into the genre. I think what I actually don't like is a novel that focuses more on plot and events rather than character development and this does appear to be more common in fantasy than in any other genre. This does not apply to every fantasy, though, as I am slowly discovering after getting lucky with the genre recently. King's Warrior is another of those fantasies I have discovered which deviate from the tendency to focus entirely on plot, in fact, it focuses on plot and character development in equal parts and this works really well. The worldbuilding has often been compared to that of the Lord of the Rings but I think there is one significant difference, King's Warrior is a young adult novel and therefore the language is more suited to a variety of different people as opposed to the complex and sometimes dull language of the Lord of the Rings. When reading this novel I often forgot it was a young adult novel because of the gorgeous language, it was only when I got to the end that I realised it lacked the more gory and explicit aspects of the normal fantasy but this complemented the novel rather than detracted from it. The young adult tag of King's Warrior does not mean it cannot be enjoyed by all, it is one of the rare YA books which anyone can love.

The character development was definitely the best part of the novel, I loved every one of them. Kamarie in particular was a wonderful heroine in the way that she is very unique. In all literature, not just fantasy, a heroine is often at one extreme or the other - weak or ridiculously strong. Kamarie, on the other hand, has a very strong personality and is easily admirable but she still has feminine weaknesses. I know what you're thinking but I don't at all mean that in a sexist way. I mean, the environment in which Kamarie lives mirrors our medieval period and therefore also has the traditional gender roles, women are feminine and domestic and men were the warriors. Kamarie deviates from this by being a female trained as a female warrior but, unlike most strong female characters, this deviation isn't taken to the extremes, she still respects the role that her society has determined for her. While the feminist in me feels slightly conflicted about this, I really do appreciate the realism and the author's ability to craft such a lifelike character. The other characters were all also equally realistic and interesting, I loved every one of them. What I really enjoyed about the character were their relationships. The loving and, again, realistic relationship between Kamarie and her parents was refreshing to read and the sweet one between her parents themselves was a lovely contrast to the usual troubled relationships I was used to reading about. My favourite relationship was the love-hate one between Kamarie and Oraeyn, it was so amusing to read about and easy to relate to. It is the realism of Schmidt's characters that makes them so great.

This novel had me glued right away, some may call the plot slow but personally I think it is that aspect which enabled the characters to be so complex and developed. The plot itself is not sacrificed for the fantastic characters, this book could easily be used as a recipe for the perfect fantasy. I would recommend this book to everyone, even those who are not the biggest fans of the genre like myself. I loved every page and cannot wait to get my hands on the second book. The sooner I can get to it the better.

Sunday Spotlight: John Williamson, author of Collision

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Sunday Spotlight is a weekly scheme I am running to bring publicity to lesser known authors who, in the book blogging community, it is important to support.

Today's author is John Williamson, author of Collision.


About John:

J.M.J. Williamson
I grew up in York, graduated in economics from Hull University, and then moved to London to make a career as a charted accountant working for one of the world's largest firms of chartered accountants.

I am now retired living in Bedfordshire and pursuing what I love most - writing.

I love sci-fi movies and books, and I love writing. It was therefore not surprising that my first novel published would be a sci- fi novel.


Interview: 

Tell us what makes Collision unique

Collision is a thriller, a sci-fi and a love story all in one novel. It started life as an idea. A man is running along a beach at night when a UFO crashes further down the beach after a high altitude collision with a US spy plane. However, when he gets to the crash site it has gone. But now the US, UK and Russian secret services are trying to find it and the mysterious catwoman to get hold of the UFO technology.

The main characters are the man of the beach (Ben), a university lecturer, and the mysterious catwoman seen on the beach (Elle). The antagonists include the secret services of three nations and some more. Let’s just say the UFO is not what it first seems. No spoilers here.

Your book is labelled a sci-fi romance, what attracted you to that genre?

I don’t think I set out to write a cross-genre story. I wrote the story I wanted to tell and then looked for the best way to describe it. At the heart of the story is a classic Sci-Fi trope: time travel. There is also a strong romantic theme to the story, which is something more than just the ‘B’ story. At the time of publication I chose sci-fi romance as the best way of describing the story. But with the benefit of hindsight I may have been wrong. The story does not easily fit into mainstream Sci-Fi or Romance genres. An alternative would have been to place it under the thriller genre which captures some elements of speculative fiction.

In your bio you describe your love of sci-fi movies, what would you say was the main difference between sci-fi movies and novels? (minus the obvious of course)

Money. Hollywood tends to choose stories that will make the biggest impact on the box office. Most of these tend to be storylines with positive endings rather than tragedies. But then again I tend to like positive endings.

Money is also important to finance the amount of time and resources invested in a blockbuster movie. Unlike a novel, a movie is a collective effort of numerous writers, the director, actors and technicians. A huge effort goes into preproduction and post production to produce the highest of quality stories. Every second of a movie is there for a specific reason, and what is surplus ends up on the cutting room floor.

Compare that to time and resources available to the poor novelist who has to rely on himself/herself plus maybe a helpful agent, and an editor.

Having said that I believe a writer can learn a lot about story design from analysing why certain movies are so successful.

Who is your favourite character of your creation?

That’s a difficult question to answer. I like them all in different ways. I would say Jean Daniels who plays the main antagonist in Collision. She’s a relentless CIA operative who will stop at nothing to achieve her objective. But she’s not driven by selfish reasons or greed — others are. She’s a patriot following in the footsteps of her heroic father. In some respects she is a mirror image of the main character (Elle), who is a workaholic. The only difference between them is that Daniels has psychopathic tendencies: she doesn’t have any boundaries she wouldn’t cross to get what she wants.

Which authors would you say influenced your work the most?

In my younger days, I would say the Sci-Fi writers: Frank Herbert, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Poul Anderson. They certainly stirred my interest in science fiction. More recently, I have learned a lot from the works of Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer, Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth.

Give us an excerpt of a favourite review you have received for one of your books.

Here are two extracts:

“… an immense and complex thrill seeking adventure. It gives way to strong characters and constant action with a little romance thrown in for good measure…”

“This is a novel about high-tech, industrial espionage, corporate greed and… time travel!”

Do you have anything new in the works that we should look out for?

Yes. I’m in the editing phase of my second novel, which I hope to publish in the autumn. It’s another sci-fi story set again in the current day. The main characters are a unmarried mother with a sixteen-year-old daughter running a spa hotel in a Yorkshire village whose best friend is an alien, and a redundant investment banker from the City of London! Together they must save the Earth from enslavement by evil alien corporations. And No, before you laugh, it’s not a comedy. I said it was unusual. There is some more detail about the book on my website jmjwilliamson.com.

Tell us something unexpected about the life of an author.

With the exception of the big-named authors, the vast majority of writers don’t make a huge amount from their writing. They write because they love to write. Of course, we would all love to write the blockbuster novel and movie. But the reality is that you’re more likely to be hit by lightening than get such a pay-off.

Having worked in the City of London for almost forty years as a chartered accountant before retiring I’m fortunate in not having to rely on my writing to put food on the table. But other indie authors are not so lucky, many having to combine their writing with a full time job.

Is there anything else you want the readers of Confessions of a Bookaholic to know?


I’m always contactable through my website at jmjwilliamson.com. and I would love to have feedback from readers. In fact, like most writers I crave feedback. Also if anyone would like to review my new book before publication drop me a line.

About Collision:
Collision - a sci fi romanceThis is a story about corporate greed, espionage and time travel. But it’s also a love story about two scientists from different times, who are caught up in the events.

A UFO collides with a US spy plane at 150,000 feet, but survives. US military intelligence track the path of the UFO to a beach in Northern England, before they lose sight of it. After a call from the Whitehouse to Downing Street, MI6 are tasked to work with the CIA to investigate the UFO. But with the UFO now gone, the only clue to its whereabouts is a mysterious cat woman seen by a witness on the beach.

The morning after the incident, a young woman wakes up in a service station after sleeping there overnight. Traumatic memories of her escape, from the night before, flood into her mind. Now her only chance of returning home is to find the scientist who shares her field of research, and persuade him to help her before the security forces catch her.

Find out more about Collision on Goodreads | Website

Review: Affairs of the Dead by A.J. Locke

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Affairs of the Dead (The Reanimation Files #1)Series: The Reanimation Files #1
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: November 25th 2013
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review
Overall Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Cover Rating: 4/5 Stars
Synopsis: "Help ghosts, stop a thief, and try not to die..."
Necromancer Selene Vanream helps ghosts settle their affairs so they can move on. But when breaking the rules gets her in trouble, she's bumped down to tracking ghosts trying to avoid the afterlife. Ghosts like Ethan Lance, who claims he was kicked out of his body when someone else jumped in. Which might be plausible--if such a thing were possible. And if Micah, Selene's partner, didn't pull her into an investigation of brutal murders that lead directly back to Ethan.
But when the whole mess puts Selene's life in danger, she suddenly has very personal reasons to get Ethan's body back. Between her uncomfortable relationship with Micah, and problems with her boss, Selene learns just how much trouble it can be when you don't follow the rules...
First Line: "I was in a strip club trying to help a ghost get laid, which was challenging but not impossible."

I'll be honest with you guys about the reason I decided to pick this book up. I haven't read a good paranormal book with a sassy heroine in a long time and one look at the cover confirmed for me that this was the perfect book to restart on. I know, I know, judging a book by its cover is a really bad idea, however this time it really did pay off. Selene was just as sassy as the cover model suggested she would be and the novel had the satisfying mixture of romance and action that I expect from a good urban fantasy. From the moment I read the first line I knew this book was for me. The reason I always include the first line in my reviews is that it is so important for the reader to be grabbed right away. This doesn't have to be through action or humour, it can also simply be from language style or plot set up. Affairs of the Dead nailed it, I like a book that fills me with questions from the start and slowly reveals all and A.J. Locke succeeded here. I doubt many of you who enjoy the genre are able to read that first line and be satisfied not knowing what comes next.

It has been such a long time since I actually prefered the female protagonist of the story to the male one. It is a fact that most books that are aimed at women very much focus on the male protagonist because the trick to gaining a fanbase is having all the women fall totally in love with the main male character. I am in no way complaining about this device, I love falling for a new guy every time I pick up a book, however the problem many authors come across is in focusing so much on this male character, the female protagonist winds up underdeveloped. I almost wrote that this device is reversed in Affairs of the Dead but that would be to suggest that the male protagonist was underdeveloped which is certainly not the case. You can tell that Selene is the main focus of the story, she is sassy, hilarious, independant but also sweet and kind, the kind of multifaceted personality you would expect from the traditional male love interest. She is a heroine so skillfully crafted that you can both admire and relate to her. There are various male protagonists in the novel and every one of them is just as developed. Ethan is absolutely adorable, like the younger brother we all wish we had, and Micah is just lovely, somewhat aloof to begin with but that's exactly what you would expect. You don't just automatically become comfortable with someone right away after all. Locke's characters are both likable and realistic in a balance that many authors just cannot manage.

Affairs of the Dead is not your traditional ghost story. A.J. Locke creates a world unlike anything I have seen before. The necromancers and the normal people coexist peacefully, the ghosts are no secret they are a fact of life. I really think the deviation from the norm of the ghost world being shrouded in secrets works well here. Locke creates a world that we can actually imagine existing that operates almost exactly like ours with the exception of us lacking a necromancer network. Overall, I really loved this book and was gripped from start to end, which was rather inconvenient given that I started it in one of my busiest periods! Locke incorporates both light fun and serious, heartrending events masterfully. I would recommend this book to anyone remotely interested in the genre, or those who are bored of bland characters, because once you start you just can't stop turning the pages.

Look out for my review of Requiem for the Living, book 2 in the Reanimation Files, coming very soon!

Tell me what you thought of my review in the comments and while you're here please check out all my active giveaways in order to find gems just like this one! 

Sunday Spotlight: Christine Keleny, Author of Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Sunday Spotlight is a weekly scheme I am running to bring publicity to lesser known authors who, in the book blogging community, it is important to support. If you are an author and you wish to be considered for it please email me at emily.confessionsofa
bookaholic@gmail.com with 'Author Spotlight' in the subject line.

I know it's not Sunday, don't worry, but I am now caught up from my very busy period earlier this month.

Visiting with us today is Christine Keleny, author of Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up.

About Christine:

Christine Keleny
I am a writer, reader, author, editor, book designer and publisher. I am a mother of two, mostly grown, children and a wife. I like working with my hands, so when the need or desire arises, I crochet, sew, tile, paint, cross stitch, frame pictures, stain furniture, cut and split fire wood, x-country ski, train and ride horses…

But my main loves are writing and helping others publish the book of their dreams. I started writing in college (a while ago!) and haven't stopped since. I'm having the time of my life!

Find out more on Goodreads | Amazon | Website

Interview:

Hi there Christine!
Tell us about your book, ‘Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up’.
Carolyn Keene is a pseudonym for some 28 writers of Nancy Drew, though there were three primary writers. But who really created Nancy is a significant controversy in the Nancy Drew world, so that is what my story is about, the three primary characters of Nancy and how she came into being.

What inspired you to write a Nancy Drew rewrite of sorts?
My book is not a mystery, but it is fiction. It tells of the lives of the three primary creators of Nancy and shows what influences they all had in writing her story.

Which of the characters is your favourite and why?
I think I like Nancy’s first creator, Edward Stratemeyer, the best. He sounds like he was a very interesting and pleasant man. He was very creative and a prolific children’s writer. He really made writing for children a thing. He wrote the Hardy Boys, the Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift and many many more.

Tell us about your other works.
My first three books are what I call my Rose series (Rosebloom, A Burnished Rose, Rose From the Ashes). They are three books about a young farm girl in Wisconsin in 1936 who runs away from home to get a job on a Mississippi riverboat. Book I is about her time on and along the river, Book II is when she becomes a nurse in WWII and book III is when she comes home.
Then there is “Living in the House of Drugs.” That is a memoir I wrote for a recovering addict and alcoholic that grew up in the Chicago projects.
“The Red Velvet Box” is a book I only have as an ebook. I want to illustrate that book so have not put it in print yet. It is set in 1951 and is about a young girl and her relationship to her grandmother, who is getting forgetful. She connects with and helps her grandmother through a box of old Christmas ornaments.

What authors would you say influenced your work the most?
I write mostly historical fiction because I love history and I think it’s a great way for people to learn about our past. I’m not sure there is any one author, but the king of historical fiction in my eyes is Gore Vidal.

I read that you also help struggling writers get published, tell us about that.
My day job (which is my second career) is my indie publishing company: CKBooks Publishing
I offer editing – all types - print book formatting, ebook formatting, simple cover design and book publishing. Or I can just answer any questions a writer might have. Whether you are self-publishing or going the traditional route, there is a lot of information out there and it can be confusing, so I like to help authors by answering any questions they might have about the process. I was a new author once myself, so I like to help when I can.

What advice would you give to writers who are just starting out?
Read a lot, especially in the genre that you’re writing in, but really any good writing is helpful to read, and of course, write a lot. Don’t worry if it’s any good, just write. Computers make it so easy to change things after the fact.

I read that you have won an award for your work; did you ever imagine you’d get so far?
It’s nice to feel like others think you are doing well with your writing, but that is really just a marketing thing when a writer puts their book into a writing contest. What readers I really want to impress are the ones I meet at book events or online.

What other upcoming books should we look for from you?
When you asked about writers who influenced me, one I have really resonated with lately is Alan Bradley. He has written the Flavia de Luse mystery series. So I am going to attempt to write my first middle-grade mystery about a 12 year old girl by the name of Agnes Kelly. Agnes is a precocious girl in 1961, who is taken under her grandmother’s wing after her father dies. Grandma thinks there is something fishy about her son’s death and Agnes gets drawn into the mystery. But in the style of Alan Bradley and JK Rowling, I’d like my book to transcend age limits. We’ll see!

Is there anything else you want the readers of Confessions of a Bookaholic to know?
As a promoter of indie authors, I would like to remind readers that no matter who you read, please leave reviews of what you’ve read. It is so important to any writer, but especially writers who don’t have a large publishing company to back them up. It also helps other readers. There are so many books out there to choose from and your opinion does matter!

Thank you for joining us at Confessions of a Bookaholic!
Thanks for having me! And happy reading!

About Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up:

Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up
If you always wondered how the plucky, intelligent, resourceful, and famous girl sleuth we affectionately call Nancy came into being, “Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up” will give you insights into the lives of the three primary creators of Nancy and her pals and the controversy that still rages today about who really created the Nancy that millions of readers across the globe have come to know and love.

"Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up is a fresh take on one of America’s most popular characters—Nancy Drew. Keleny offers readers a behind-the-scenes look at the dedicated and determined creators of the series. She also reveals the competing—and often conflicting—visions each author had for Nancy. This novel is entertaining, smart, and exceptionally well researched. It is certain to interest anyone who is curious about the surprising mystery behind the Nancy Drew mysteries." ~ Jenna Nelson, PhD

To be in for a chance to win enter the competition below!

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Sunday Spotlight: John Elray, Author of Pattaya Beach

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Sunday Spotlight is a weekly scheme I am running to bring publicity to lesser known authors who, in the book blogging community, it is important to support. If you are an author and you wish to be considered for it please email me at emily.confessionsofa
bookaholic@gmail.com with 'Author Spotlight' in the subject line.

Visiting with us at Confessions of a Bookaholic today is John Elray, author of Pattaya Beach.

Hi there John, welcome to Confessions of a Bookaholic!

Tell us something about Pattaya Beach which isn’t covered in the synopsis.
That's a tricky question to answer without giving too much away but I'll give it a shot.  Probably the best way to address this is to talk about the methodology I used when writing Pattaya Beach, namely drawing on actual events and conversations and working them into the story.  These can be as simple as an off hand comment which could easily go unnoticed but in reality has a profound meaning.  For example, when Fah tells Ed that she doesn't like her step father because of the way he treats her mother:  "…he use her like a football… make red come out."  In part, it's the broken English Fah (a composite of two individuals) uses to express this the best she can that gives the statement more power than if I were to tell you the same thing in proper English.  Another instance where an actual event was used is the tale she tells of the bar girl whose body was found in a large duffle bag after sitting for three days under the hot sun in a vacant lot right off the main Beach Road.  Apparently a customer took her to his hotel room and got too rough with her… to the extreme.  As it was told to me, "the police know who he is, but they don't know where he is".  Pattaya is a small city, however, it's rife with drugs, local thugs, Russian mafia, and more than its share of crazies.  Life is cheap there. It can be a dangerous place.

That cover is really very unique, care to explain it?
The cover of Pattaya Beach is a collage made up of a few of the photos I took one night in 2006 in an effort to capture the night life of the town.  It's laid out in much the same fashion as you'd see Pattaya walking through one of the bar districts to the beach… illuminated signs overhead, the girls enticing passersby to patronize their establishment, and the gentle slope of the land down to the palm fringed shoreline of the Gulf of Thailand.  The sign being held by a young lady advertises Lady Drinks, which are mixed drinks containing little if any alcohol which one can buy for the girl(s) of one's choice to secure some conversation time.  The girls get a commission for every drink bought by their customer.

Who is your favourite character of your own creation?
I guess my favourite is the female protagonist, Fah, although I'm not sure I can take full credit for creating her since she's a composite character based on two real people.  So I'd have to go with Ed, the male protagonist.  He is a fabrication but has some stereotypical qualities found in many of the farang (pronounced falang, meaning western) men who frequent Thailand.  Ed has some interesting personality quirks that I spent a considerable amount of time researching so that I got it right.  Saying any more than that would be a spoiler.

What is the best piece of feedback you have got on your work?
The most gratifying statement made about Pattaya Beach came from a literary agent who posted a review of it on Goodreads.  She described it as "…a tutorial in excellent writing."
What is it about Thailand that intrigues you enough to base your book there?
I first began travelling to Thailand on business, and while I've been there many times now since I started writing Pattaya Beach, the first two or three years were real eye openers.  It was the revelation of a culture which, on one hand, is vastly  different from what most of the English speaking world is familiar with… a Buddhist society with all it's charm, customs, superstitions, and religious devotion, while on the other hand is no different whatsoever when all the veneer is stripped away.  This contrast is especially true in Pattaya where pretty much anything goes.

What inspired you to write about this subject matter?
If you were to ask frequent travellers to Pattaya what its most prominent feature was, they'd probably say the bars… and lots of them.  It's these establishments and the women that work there, in one fashion or another, that provide ample fodder for the novelist.  Each lady has her (or in some cases his) own unique story, sometimes resulting in happy ever after true love but more often than not ending in heartbreak, trapping them in a world that beckons with opportunities that seldom pan out.  It was this seemingly futile, revolving door, pursuit that led me to create Pattaya Beach driven by one of those "gotta write this story" obsessions.

What authors do you believe have inspired your work the most?
Two names come to mind.  One is Leon Uris, whose outstanding works of historically based fiction ignited the spark in me to write my first novel, Khalifah – the story of how the son of Muhammad's archenemy took control of the Muslim empire in the seventh century.  Like Uris's works, it's by and large a historically accurate (albeit fictionalized) epic that spans many years in the main characters' lives.  The other author is John Burdett who has written several fascinating novels set in Thailand.

Have you any more works planned that we should look out for?
I'm presently doing a book of short stories, most of which can be generally described as dark humor.  It's about half completed and has the working title  "… And You Though You Had It Bad".  I plan to have it ready for publication by early summer.

Fancy telling us about your publishing company, Aardwolfe Books, and what it is you do?
I'm one of the principals of Aardwolfe Books, a small publisher of distinctive works of fiction and narrative non-fiction.  We also provide editorial services to authors, either directly or through agents, to include line editing, story editing and ghost writing.  We're always looking for new (or established) authors with promising manuscripts and provide thorough proofing and copy editing before releasing a book for publication.  Our only requirement is that the author provide us a high quality product before going into copyediting, but we never insist that they use our editorial services to get there as a condition of publication.

Finally, is there anything else that you want the readers of Confessions of a Bookaholic to know?
Only to acknowledge the superb effort you put in, Emily, to connect writers and readers on Goodreads .  I'll be happy to respond to any members who have further questions via the Ask The Author feature on my profile page  Thanks for the opportunity to showcase Pattaya Beach.

Thank you for joining us John!

About Pattaya Beach
Pattaya Beach
Fah, a twenty-two year-old farm girl from Thailand's rural northeast has moved to Pattaya City to do the one thing that has any hope of bringing her decent money – work in the sex trade. Her goal: land a well to do foreigner who can deliver her and her family from a subsistence life. Ed, a recent arrival from America, looks like he might just be the one. What Fah doesn’t know, however, is that Ed is a deeply disturbed man who has traveled to Thailand to kill his nemesis, Bill (Fah's employer), in retaliation for an imagined betrayal. What Ed doesn't know is that he's about to fall in love – and that's when all the trouble begins.

Whether you're a seasoned traveler to the Land of Smiles or a neophyte, you'll be totally absorbed in John Elray's latest novel, Pattaya Beach. Based on a true story, Pattaya Beach exposes the grit beneath the veneer of the fun capital of the world, and delves into the psyches of its cast of inimitable characters in this compelling novel that you won't want to put down. The author guides you along the broad arc of Fah and Ed's engaging odyssey to convey invaluable insight into the people, passions and perils of Thailand – a land of pleasure unmatched anywhere else on earth.
Find Pattaya Beach on Goodreads | Amazon | Aardwolfe Books

Enter the giveaway below to be in for a chance to win and don't forget to comment and let us know what you think!
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Cover Reveal: Fluence by Stephen Oram

Thursday, 18 June 2015



I'm sure you all remember Stephen Oram from his spotlight here at Confessions of a Bookaholic a few weeks ago, today I have a special cover reveal for you all for his newest book!

FLUENCE
Ten thousand minutes and counting
Genre: Dystopian
Published by Silverwood Books

Amber is young and ambitious. Martin is burnt out by years of struggling. She cheats to get what she wants while he barely clings on to what he has. It’s the week before the annual Pay Day when strata positions are decided by the controlling corporations. The social media feed is frenetic with people trying to boost their influence rating while those above the strata and those who’ve opted out pursue their own manipulative goals.
Fluence is a story of aspiration and desperation and of power seen and unseen. It’s a story of control and consequence. It's the story of the extremes to which Amber and Martin are prepared to go in these last ten thousand minutes before Pay Day.

Find Fluence on Amazon | Website


About Stephen
Like each and every one of us, my perspective of the world has been affected by many people and
experiences: as a teenager I was heavily influenced by the ethos of punk; in my early twenties I embraced the squatter scene and then joined a religious cult, briefly; I did some computer stuff in what became London’s silicon roundabout; and I’m now a civil servant with a gentle attraction to anarchism. I really enjoy taking a sideways look at our world and thinking, “what if,” and then writing about it through speculative fiction.

Visit Stephen on Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads


What do you think of the book so far? Enter the below international giveaway to be in for a chance to win!

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There will be a review tour for Fluence soon. Read the book or interview the author! Sign up for the tour by emailing brookbooks@hotmail.co.uk

Sunday Spotlight (on Wednesday): Elisabeth Grace Foley, author of the Mrs Meade Mysteries

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Sunday Spotlight is a weekly scheme I am running to bring publicity to lesser known authors who, in the book blogging community, it is important to support. If you are an author and you wish to be considered for it please email me at emily.confessionsofa
bookaholic@gmail.com with 'Author Spotlight' in the subject line.

Visiting with us at Confessions of a Bookaholic today is Elisabeth Grace Foley, author of the Mrs Meade Mysteries.

I have been so busy recently which is why the spotlights I missed are being posted this week - don't worry I am back on track now!

About Elisabeth:
Elisabeth Grace Foley is a historical fiction author, avid reader and lifelong history buff, the author of Peacemaker Award-nominated Western novella Left-Hand Kelly, and short story collections The Ranch Next Door and Other Stories and Wanderlust Creek and Other Stories. Her work has appeared online at Rope and Wire and The Western Online. Her other books include a series of short historical mysteries, the Mrs. Meade Mysteries; and short fiction set during the American Civil War and the Great Depression.

Find out more about Elisabeth on Goodreads | Blog | Amazon

Interview:

Hi there Elisabeth, welcome to Confessions of a Bookaholic!
Thank you! I’m excited to be here!

Firstly, you have written a lot of books! Tell us about some of your most popular ones.
My series of historical mystery novelettes, the Mrs. Meade Mysteries, have been my bestselling titles most of the time. Everybody loves a mystery! Mrs. Meade is a shrewd but kind-hearted widow lady with a knack for solving the puzzles that arise in a small Colorado town in the early 1900s. Think Miss Marple in the Edwardian era, in a part of America that still has a bit of the frontier element left. And my novella Corral Nocturne, which is a retelling of Cinderella set on the Montana prairies, has also been popular with readers; it’s been receiving some lovely reviews!

What is it about historical and western fiction that you like so much?
History has always fascinated me from a very early age—I love reading about past times and about the personal stories of the people who lived them. There’s a quote by Louis L’Amour that I like: “Historical novels are, without question, the best way of teaching history, for they offer the human stories behind the events and leave the reader with a desire to know more.” That’s definitely been true for me. As for westerns, I grew up watching western movies with my dad and enjoying them, and then later, when I ventured into reading western fiction and history, I became interested in the Old West era as a part of American history. I find it a wonderful backdrop for storytelling: you have such a large slice of the country to choose from for your setting, and so much history to spark ideas for plots and characters. It isn’t only about the cowboys and outlaws; it’s about the families who settled the country, those who went west to start a new life after the Civil War, the young people who headed west to seek their fortunes. There are so many stories there to tell.

How do you balance fact and fiction in your works?
Usually when I set out to write a story it’ll be in a time and setting that I’m already interested in, so I have a background gathered from the history I’ve read, and also from fiction written at that time. I try to have my characters speak and act in a way that’s realistic for the time period—reading fiction written during the era itself is an excellent way to get a sense of that—and I research factual things like clothes, houses, inventions, etc. as I go along, if I run into something that I don’t know about in detail.

What authors influenced your work most?
For westerns in particular, my biggest influence is probably my personal favorite B.M. Bower, an early woman author of westerns who began writing around the turn of the 20th century; and also Henry Herbert Knibbs, Dorothy M. Johnson, Max Brand, and Elmore Leonard’s early western short stories. O. Henry, P.G. Wodehouse and A.A. Milne taught me the delights of wordplay and a sense of humor; Booth Tarkington and Leo Tolstoy I love for their ability to create wonderfully human, sometimes flawed but relatable characters; while authors like Mary Stewart and Daphne du Maurier leave me awed by their skills with description and creating a sense of place and atmosphere.

I notice that you write lots of short stories/novellas, what is it about those that appeal to you more than the traditional novel?
Actually, my ambition has always been to write novels. If anyone had told me five years ago that I’d have written and published this much short fiction, no one would have been more surprised than myself. But I’ve enjoyed writing short stories and novellas, and I feel that all the work I’ve put into them has been like serving an apprenticeship in honing my writing skills. At present I’m trying to take a step back from shorter works for a while (except for continuing the Mrs. Meade Mysteries) and focus on finally completing a novel—I’ve got a few novel manuscripts in various stages of being written or edited.

On your blog you say that you’re a Christian, many writers cite their faith as a major influence on their works – is this the case for you?
I don’t see myself as writing so-called “Christian fiction,” because I’ve always been rather ambivalent toward that term—but yes, my Christianity does influence my work in the way it influences all areas of my life. I always strive simply to craft the best quality book that I’m able, but I think my writing will always reflect my beliefs and worldview in some way, as all writers’ do. Sometimes Christianity may play a direct role in a story, if I feel it’s needful to the plot; other times it won’t; but I think it always influences what I write in some way.

What books would you compare your works to? Comparisons are always helpful for readers looking for more books.
Well, as I mentioned before, I think anybody who enjoys Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books and similar mysteries will enjoy the Mrs. Meade Mysteries. A recent reviewer of Corral Nocturne compared its style of that to L.M. Montgomery, which was a very flattering compliment! For my westerns, I think readers who like the traditional westerns of Louis L’Amour and others will enjoy them; but my stories are not just based around gunfights and action; they’re largely character-driven and I think they would appeal to readers of general historical fiction too.

You described a liking for ‘obscure forgotten gems’ in your blog, will you share some of those with my readers?
Some of my favorite discoveries from the past few years: Thorofare by Christopher Morley, Poor, Dear Margaret Kirby and Other Stories by Kathleen Thompson Norris, The Street of Seven Stars by Mary Roberts Rinehart (one of her non-mystery novels, set in Vienna just before the outbreak of World War I), and Uncle Abner, Master of Mysteries by Melville Davisson Post, to name just a few. And one of my favorite books ever is Westward Ho! by Charles Kingsley, a splendid adventure novel set in the Elizabethan era that doesn’t seem to be as well known.

Which of the characters that you’ve created do you like the most and why?
I get quite attached to most of them, but I think some of my favorites are Claire Lester in Left-Hand Kelly, Cole Newcomb in Corral Nocturne and Sheriff Andrew Royal in the Mrs. Meade Mysteries. Sheriff Royal has been one of the most fun characters for me to write. As for Cole, when I set out to write a Cinderella retelling, I knew I wanted to give my Prince Charming character a little more personality and charm than the prince seems to have in most traditional versions of Cinderella—and I think I succeeded pretty well, for I’m quite fond of him myself. With Claire, it’s a little harder to say, but by the time I finished writing the book she was one of the characters that I liked and empathized with the most.

Which of your works did you find the most enjoyable to write?
Probably my short story “The Rush at Mattie Arnold’s” from Wanderlust Creek and Other Stories. The idea for the story came to me on the spur of the moment, and it only took a few days to write, which is much faster than I usually complete a story. I knew where the story was going, the ideas for dialogue came to me smoothly as I went along, and basically it was just plain fun.

I noticed that you're quite young to have so many works published, what advice would you give to a young writer like yourself?
First of all, read—read plenty of good books, and definitely include classics that have stood the test of time. There’s nothing like reading quality books to observe what good writing looks like, and to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t work. Second, if you are young and just considering publishing for the first time, I’d advise taking a good hard look at your work and deciding if you’ve really made it the best it can be before you go ahead and put it out there. There are some manuscripts I wrote not too many years ago that I’m glad I didn’t rush ahead with, things I’m quite content now to regard as practice for what came after. Edit it as many times as you need to; get honest feedback from friends or beta-readers, and just try to appraise it honestly.

Finally, do you have any upcoming works that the readers of Confessions of a Bookaholic should look out for?
The one definite thing on the agenda at the moment is the next entry in the Mrs. Meade Mysteries, The Silent Hour, which I’m aiming at releasing in autumn 2015. After that, I don’t know yet which of my works-in-progress will make it into print next!

Elisabeth has kindly agreed to give away a copy of Left-Hand Kelly, which was recently named a Peacemaker Award finalist for Best Independently Published Western Novel


Left-Hand KellyAbout Left-Hand Kelly

Sixteen-year-old Lew Kelly grew up idolizing his enigmatic ex-gunfighter father. Everyone thought Lew’s habit of practicing his quick draw was a harmless amusement—until the day when a boys’ hot-headed quarrel exploded into gunplay, with disastrous results.

Three years later, Lew is withdrawn and bitter—and he still carries a gun. When an unexpected twist of circumstances forces him to face again the memories and the aftermath of that ill-fated fight, will old wrongs be righted—or will the result be an even worse tragedy than before?

Find the book on Amazon | Goodreads | Blog

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Review and Book Tour: Warrior's Surrender by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Friday, 12 June 2015

Series: Standalone 
Genre: Medieval Romance 
Release Date: November 7th 2014
Source: Received as part of the book tour in exchange for an honest review
Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars 
Cover Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Synopsis: A shared secret from their past could destroy their future…
Northumbria, 1077. In the years following William the Conqueror’s harrying of the North, Lady Alfreya of Tyrswick returns to her family home after seven years in exile. But instead of returning victorious as her dead father had promised, she returns defeated by Baron Sebastian de la Croix, the Norman who rules her lands.
To save her gravely ill brother's life, Alfreya offers herself hostage to her enemy. As Alfreya gets to know her new husband, she finds he’s not the monster she feared, and their marriage of convenience soon becomes a bond of passion.
But Sebastian is a man with a secret—one that could destroy him. As a series of brutal murders haunt their nights, the man who betrayed Alfreya’s father returns claiming to be her betrothed. He has learned Sebastian’s secret and will use it to further his own ambition—using Sebastian’s own family—which will destroy Sebastian and mark him a traitor, and plunge an unprepared England into war with the Scots…
First Line: The flare of a pitch-soaked torch lit the corner of the timber long-house.

When I read historical fiction I really do tend to love it however I do not pick it up very often for reasons unknown even to me. Therefore, obviously, I haven't read very much historical fiction but I was a huge fan of Phillipa Gregory so I thought I'd give another historical fiction a try and I'm so glad I did. Carter's Warrior's Surrender vastly surpassed anything Gregory ever came up with, and that's not just because it name-dropped a few areas really close to where I live! In fact, it was by far the best book I have read in a very long time. I know reviews always say things like 'I couldn't put this book down' and I always look upon those reviews and recognise exaggeration but now I get it. I literally couldn't put it down. The moment I read the excerpt (which is below so that you can see what I mean) I was gripped, I had to read it. This is one of those books that you speed through all the while mourning how fast it is going. I wanted so much more.

The characterisation of a novel is always the most important part to me, as I know it is to many other reviewers. How can you possibly fall in love with a book if there are no love-worthy characters? It's impossible! I loved almost every character in this book, even the ones you were supposed to hate, because they were all so well developed and relatable. Alfreya, or Frey, was one of the best heroines I have come across. She managed to be both feisty and in love - at the same time. There are so many authors out there who keep their feisty heroines cold with the men in their life in order to keep their independent spirit (Katniss Everdeen comes to mind) but that is not how it has to be and Carter realised that in her portrayal of Frey. She managed to create both a tender and feisty character and that is so rare, I was very impressed. It is not often that I love the heroine of a story as much as the hero but in this case I did - Frey and Sebastian were perfect. Despite this, it was indeed Sebastian who I became most invested in, he had the typical characteristics to begin with: he was cold, guarded and witty. However, unlike most characters who fit these qualities, he had genuine reason to be - given that Frey was his enemy for a long time - and he did not keep these qualities any longer than he needed to. Sebastian, alike Frey, managed to balance his strength with his loving nature. Seriously guys, I loved these two!

The plot itself was unbelievably tense! A compromise for many authors who focus on characterisation is that they sacrifice the plot, it gets slow and uneventful a lot of the time. Once again, this was not a problem for Carter. The plot really kept me on my toes - me! The queen of working out endings in record time. From start to end the plot kept me wanting to turn the pages (aka swipe my phone screen) faster than humanly possible. I will definitely be re-reading this one, it was too good not to. As many of you know, one of my favourite series' of all time is the His Fair Assassin series and this book reminded me of it so much. Yes it lacks nuns, assassins and the god of death but in writing style and characterisation it was on par. Anyone who loved HFA like I did will absolutely love Warrior's Surrender. I can't wait to read more of Elizabeth Ellen Carter's work and I fully intend to get my hands on some more very soon. In the meantime I am praying for a sequel.

Seriously, enter the giveaway or you will really regret it!

Excerpt:

By the light of the fire she could see the abandoned chair. To see the second chair Frey must peer around the door. 
It too was empty.
Frey frowned. Did she doze and Sebastian slipped past her unseen? She took a further step or two into the room and looked.
The bed was…
Before Frey could complete the thought, she was grabbed roughly from behind and held firmly against a man’s broad chest. A large hand covered her mouth and suppressed an involuntary scream.
The man recognised her and relaxed but did not remove his hand.
“You picked the wrong night to slit my throat while I slept, princess.”
Sebastian’s whispered voice filled her ear. He held her still for long moments before speaking.
"Are you recovered? You will not scream?”
Frey nodded and shook her head in answer to each question and she was released, her heart pumping furiously.
“Do you suggest I pick some other night then?” she said, wiping her mouth to rid the sensation of his hand. 
Sebastian ignored her barb and poured a small measure of spiced wine into his goblet. He handed it to her and watched as she drank.
“Why do you assume the worst of me?” she asked.
“Habit,” he answered, arms folded across his chest.
“Now tell me what you’re doing in my chambers while others sleep.”
“I have to speak to you.”
Sebastian’s eyebrows rose in surprise. It might have been scepticism, but Frey couldn’t be sure.
“And it couldn’t wait until morning?”
All of a sudden Frey’s courage left her and she wondered if her senses had taken leave of her too.
She was an unmarried woman, alone, late at night in the bed chamber of a man whose mere presence made her feel powerful sensations that she struggled to understand. What on earth was she doing?
She shook her head softly. 
“This was a mistake.”
As she turned to leave, Sebastian grabbed her wrist.
“It’s a mistake to not finish what you start.”

About Elizabeth:

A future with words was always on the book for Elizabeth Ellen Carter who started writing her own stories when she ran out of Nancy Drew mysteries to read when she was 10.
Using her mother’s Olivetti type writer with the italic keyboard, she spent endless school holidays making up her own stories and then using the Dewey Decimal System to arrange and categorize her bookshelf. Somewhere around the age of 13 she determined to become a journalist and at 17 was awarded a cadetship to the Gold Coast Bulletin. She covered news, council, education, health but had the most fun as the paper’s entertainment and features reporter covering film, TV
and music. Best of all she met her husband there and together they started a small award-winning media, marketing and advertising agency and now she works as marketing manager for an international organic skin care company. In 2012, Elizabeth also returned to the keyboard to write
stories (and laptops are so much better than manual typewriters). Her debut, Moonstone Obsession  was shortlisted for the 2013 Romance Writers Of Australia’s Emerald Awards for unpublished
manuscripts.


Sunday Spotlight: Scott Kinkade, Author of God School

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Sunday Spotlight is a weekly scheme I am running to bring publicity to lesser known authors who, in the book blogging community, it is important to support. If you are an author and you wish to be considered for it please email me at emily.confessionsofa
bookaholic@gmail.com with 'Author Spotlight' in the subject line.

Visiting with us at Confessions of a Bookaholic today is Scott Kinkade, author of God School who is sharing a guest post with us today. 

About Scott:
I write science fiction. I frequently imagine a past that never was, and futures that never will be.
I run a sci-fi blog where I post book and movie reviews.
I also work to educate people about the reality of living with clinical depression and Asperger's via my YouTube channel.

World Building in Fiction 
Most sci-fi and fantasy novels have their own world, and it's the author's job to make that world believable. To me, there are three essential aspects of making that happen: lore, diversity and religion.

First, let's start with lore. Your world absolutely has to have a rich history. What happened in the past to make your world interesting? Who are your historical figures? How was history shaped to bring your inhabitants to the present? An unparalleled scribe in this regard is George R. R. Martin. He has spent countless hours fine-tuning the details of his world, and it shows. From Mad King Aerys to the Dothraki, there's no shortage of history to be learned in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. 

Another loremaster is Stephen Hunt. For those who have read his Jackelian steampunk series, you know his world of Jackals is rich in detail. He gives us many tidbits of Jackals' history throughout the series, steadily forming it into a compelling, believable world.

But perhaps the all-time king of lore is J. R. R. Tolkien. He inserted an obscene amount of lore into Middle Earth. Ever read The Silmarillion? He wrote an entire book dedicated to the history of his world. That's true dedication.

Also, if your story takes place in an alternate Earth, we need to know what's different about it. How does its history differ from our own timeline? For example, in my steampunk Infini Calendar series, Marie Antoinette championed steam power, leading to the creation of airships and other steam-powered technology in the 18th century, well before the Industrial Revolution. And in Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century series, the American Civil War started much earlier and went on for over a decade.

Next, let's take a look at diversity. Every good world must have different peoples and cultures. Again, George R. R. Martin is very good about this. You've got your Starks, your Lannisters, your Dothraki, your Wildlings and many others. Each of them has their own unique viewpoints and motivations which drive them (and continually bring them into conflict with one another). And I must again cite the work of Stephen Hunt. Jackals has Victorian-esque society, a jungle region,a sky city, and a country where women rule over men, just to name a few.

Finally, any good world you create should have religion. Here I must mention--you guessed it--George R. R. Martin. The characters in his world share a wide variety of beliefs. They worship a multitude of gods, including the Drowned one. It seems like everyone in that world has their own set of beliefs.

In my own novels I've explored the role of religion in our lives. In my Infini Calendar series, Joan of Arc struggles to stay faithful to God despite knowing she's going to be burned at the stake (a struggle she fails in that timeline). I go even further in my Divine Protector series (beginning with God School), creating new religions in the world of Narska. The Holoists worship the god Bethos, while the citizens of the Faust Kingdom bow to the Lost Gods which include Earth deities. Conversely, the students at Divine Protector Academy don't worship any gods because they are gods (or, at least, gods in training). But even before attending the school for gods, protagonist Ev Bannen wasn't religious at all. He couldn't reconcile the idea of a benevolent creator with the physical and emotional abuse he and his mother suffered at the hands of his father. So, in a sense, even a lack of faith counts when coming up with your world's belief systems. 

There's a very good book by Jay Marian called Creating God: Worldbuilding a Religion (How to Write Fantasy Book 1) which details the important functions of religion within a fantasy world.

Well, that's about it. I've covered what are, in my opinion, the three most important aspects of a fictional world. Really, though, that's just the starting point. Feel free to be as creative as you want in designing your world. Just make sure it's believable.

About God School
God School
18-year-old Ev Bannen was just hoping to get admitted to college. He never expected to be recruited to a school for gods, where he’ll be spending his days building up his strength, learning to answer prayers and getting an education in religion alongside aspiring god of money Jaysin Marx, the lovely but troubled Maya Br├╝nhart and anger-prone ginger Daryn Anders. But the organization of evil gods, Zero Grade, has plans to unleash hell on earth, and they require the blood of potential gods to do it. What’s more, someone close to Ev is not who they claim to be, and their betrayal may doom mankind forever. Ev steps up to save the day, but does he even stand a chance in hell of defeating a legendary deity?

Find God School on Goodreads| Amazon

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If you are an author and want to be spotlighted drop me an email. Don't forget to share my spotlight posts wherever you can, it's really important to support the lesser known author community! Also if you want to be included in my scheme then you need it to be popular enough for you to have maximum publicity!

If you do share my scheme let me know where and I will post an endorsement of your blog/book/anything in exchange on my Twitter account.

Sunday Spotlight: Marc Nash, author of An Eye for an Eye for an Eye

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Sunday Spotlight is a weekly scheme I am running to bring publicity to lesser known authors who, in the book blogging community, it is important to support. If you are an author and you wish to be considered for it please email me at emily.confessionsofa
bookaholic@gmail.com with 'Author Spotlight' in the subject line.

Visiting with us at Confessions of a Bookaholic today is Marc Nash, author of the dystopian novel An Eye for an Eye for an Eye.

About Marc

20 years in the counterculture working at Rough Trade Record Shop, now working in freedom of expression NGO world. I hope my books are more than just the sum of the above. I used to be a playwright, but then started writing more for dancers and physical theatre performers. I like a challenge and I like to move out of my comfort zone. Now I’m a novelist and am writing more ‘voice’ than I ever did as a playwright. Go figure!

Find Marc on Goodreads | Amazon | Blog


Interview

Hi there Marc!
Tell us something about An Eye for an Eye for an Eye that the synopsis doesn't cover.
That it’s a police procedural without an actual detective at its heart and is actually about the death of procedure. It’s a dystopia which is in fact not too far further from becoming a reality in our world if certain current events continue to play out. And it has paranormal elements which are explored as to whether they can be truly called paranormal or not. So it’s both three genres and not those genres at the same time!

Tell us about your genre(s) and why they interest you?
I don’t restrict myself to any single genre. This one was dystopian because I was thinking a lot about the civil unrest in countries like Greece and Italy due to the economic cuts imposed by their governments as the Eurozone hit financial trouble. I just imagined what it would be like to take that to its logical conclusion and that ended up in a dystopia!

Who is your favorite character from all of your works?
Karen Dash from my novel “A,B&E”. She’s a tough woman who’s had to hold her own in two very male worlds of academia and criminal gangsterism, through a mixture of being as tough as the men, while also retaining enough femininity to give her that little bit extra over the men. She’s funny and clever and yet also ground down by the male worlds she has to operate in. She directly addresses the reader too, as if you’re holding a conversation with her.

What sets An Eye for an Eye for an Eye apart from other works?
It is that most difficult of things, a genre work which has high literary content. It goes deep into character motivations; there are thoughts about man’s relationship with man when our creature comforts are denied us and lots of metaphors and images to give a real sense of the physical environment. And as already mentioned, it subverts its genres as much as conforms to them.

What author do you believe inspired your work the most?
None specifically, though this book only came about because I was so irritated by a book I read that claimed to be both genre and literary and was really bad, that I sat down the next day to write one of my own. There was no planning, I just started writing, though many of the ideas and themes must have been swirling about in my head, my irritation just brought them altogether to produce this book! The first draft came together really quickly.

What is the best feedback you've got on your work?
I’ve been described as “thought-provoking” and “use(s) the reader’s grey cells like a hockey puck. There is no slacking off you have to pay attention”. A critical review for a collection of my flash but which really tickled me was “just strings of words that took up space and left me none the wiser afterwords”. I really liked the first half of that statement as a description of all literature!

You say you do flash fiction, tell us about that.
1000 words maximum to tell a story is just so liberating rather than restrictive. With no time to set the scene, no room for lengthy descriptions of character, it places such a high value on the words themselves. With so few to play with, the words have to do so much work and this emphasises metaphor and imagery which allow you do that. I’ve now written 200 stories, mainly one a week and it’s really influenced my longer novels as well. I’ve published four collections of flash; many of the stories will knock your socks off in terms of what we imagine the structure of a story to be. With flash anything is possible, in a way that couldn’t be sustained over the length of a novel.

Your cover for An Eye for an Eye for an Eye is very unique, how does it link to your book?
It was collaboration between me and the artist Little Appleseed. I let her choose the central image she thought appropriate from the book and then we honed it between us. Mezcal is a Latin American drink like tequila in which a worm is added to the mixture. Supposedly if the worm is preserved by the Mezcal, it shows it’s good quality alcohol! The worm is also said to be hallucinogenic if swallowed. Like many detectives, the protagonist in the book is a heavy drinker and due to his emotional state often looks to crawl inside the bottle to be with the worm. I love the way Little Appleseed echoed the worm in the bottom of the bottle with the colouration of the eye on the label. We also came up with the idea of reversing the author’s name looking through the bottle glass. I like covers in which title and author name are organically part of the image, rather than take away from the overall effect.

What other works should we look out from you in the future?
Well I have a healthy back catalogue of seven other books. I’m trying to get a book of short stories published traditionally, while I have enough flash stories for my fifth collection and perhaps my strongest yet. I am also collaborating with a video designer on a kinetic typography video of one of my flash stories. I’ve done this once before and represents a very different and fresh way of telling a story, by emphasising the letters that make up the words, since these are what move in kinetic typography. My first video is here.

If you could invite three authors to lunch, past and present, who would they be?
Samuel Beckett definitely for his humor and take on the world. William Burroughs just because he was so out there and would have tons of anecdotes. And Franz Kafka my favorite author of all, though he’d probably refuse or complain about the food because that’s just the kind of guy he probably was! I think he’d get on well with Beckett though, they’re equally dark.

Is there anything else you want to tell the readers of Confessions of a Bookaholic?
Just thank you to readers and you wonderful book bloggers for all the support you give to us indie authors! You guys make it all worthwhile.

Thank you for joining us on Confessions of a Bookaholic!

About an Eye for an Eye for an Eye
You can tell a lot about a society from its murders. And Simon Moralee can tell everything from its victims. He has the gift- or is it a curse?- of being able to recover a vision of the last thing murder victims had imprinted on their minds before death. It means he can identify their killers and describe them to the police to secure a one hundred percent clean-up rate. A gift he first discovered as a teenager when cradling his butchered mother in his arms.

His financially bankrupt society leaps at the opportunity his gift provides, by cutting the level of policing and detection back to the bone, as a yet another cost-saving measure. The few remaining policemen serve as Simon’s minders as they seek to protect their most valuable asset and the one remaining celebrity the State can promote to their citizens as a good news story. Only people are losing interest in his exploits, as they lose hope for their society with its murder rate spiralling beyond Simon’s ability to keep pace. And into this numbers game emerges a new threat, when a criminal mastermind with a psychic power of his own, challenges Simon in a psychological joust to the death...

Find An Eye for an Eye for an Eye on Goodreads | Amazon 

Marc has kindly agreed to a giveaway of An Eye for an Eye for an Eye plus the flash fictions Long Stories Short and 52FF. Enter below! The first winner selected will win AEFAEFAE, the second LSS and the third 52FF.

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Make sure to let Marc and I know what you thought of the spotlight in the comments!

If you are an author and want to be spotlighted drop me an email. Don't forget to share my spotlight posts wherever you can, it's really important to support the lesser known author community! Also if you want to be included in my scheme then you need it to be popular enough for you to have maximum publicity!

If you do share my scheme let me know where and I will post an endorsement of your blog/book/anything in exchange on my Twitter account.
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