29 September, 2017

#SpecialFeature :: #Interview with Chrissie Parker, #Author of Among the Olive Groves




*** Special Feature - September 2017 ***



Quick Recap:
1st September - Introducing the Author
15th September - A complex book of two parts

About the Author:

Chrissie lives in Devon, UK, with her husband. She has published five books including Integrate and Temperance (books one and two of The Moon Series), Among the Olive Groves, Nabataea and The Secrets, a collection of Poems and Short Stories. Other work includes articles for the Bristolian, The Huffington Post, The Zakynthos Informer, Epilepsy Awareness Squad and Epilepsy Literary Heritage Foundation.
Chrissie’s poem Maisie was performed at the 100 poems by 100 women event at the Bath International Literary Festival in 2013. In 2016 Among the Olive Groves won an historical fiction award in the Summer Indie Book Awards.
Chrissie is passionate about Ancient History, Archaeology and Travel, and has completed two Egyptology courses and an Archaeological Techniques course with Exeter University.



Contact the Author:

An Interview:

What do you like best about yourself? Least?
Best - I like to think that I am true to myself - as much as I can be. I’m open and honest with people, and I don’t hide the person that I am. What people see is pretty much what they get.
Least – I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, this can be a bad thing sometimes as people can take advantage of it. I also talk far too much and never know when to shut up! 

What emotion/feeling are you afraid to experience?
To show that I’m afraid, or a failure at something. I’ve spent my entire life fighting to be who I am and to be able to do what I do. I have struggled with people telling me that I shouldn’t be a writer, telling me that I would never be good enough, or that it isn’t a good career choice. I also have a hard time with my medical condition, Epilepsy, as it does tend to hinder my life sometimes.  In the end those obstacles made me a more determined and strong person, but in the process I have found that I still do try to hide my failures. Whilst I have realised that nothing is impossible and I’m not afraid of trying, I am still however very much afraid to fail. 

What do you carry in your pockets/purse/backpack, etc.?
My pockets are usually empty. My purse has the usual money, cards and receipts in, and my tiger’s eye (stone). My bag always has a handful of green pens (I always write in green pen), a notebook, my purse, my epilepsy paperwork and tablets, my keys and a hairbrush.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
Oh boy, where to start. 
I’m very clumsy and tend to do lots of embarrassing things. 
I think the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done however, (which now seems more funny), was a few years ago. My husband is an actor and my best friend and I attended the first night of his new show in the West End, in London. 
There was a red carpet with rope barriers running along the front of the theatre, a photo board with the show and sponsor logo’s on and a row of photographers and TV cameras.  
As we began walking along the red carpet I tripped and fell into the rope barriers knocking them over, and then continued to fall straight into a large glass window. Thankfully the window didn’t break, but everyone, including the photographers and TV cameras saw the whole thing happen. All I could do was jump back up, untangle myself from the ropes and pretend all was okay as my best friend laughed at my ineptitude!

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
She was Chrissie, that’s just how it was.  
It’s a past tense version of my current personal motto:
I’m me, that’s just how it is.

About the Book:
It is 1938, and a young Elena Petrakis lives on the small Greek Island of Zakynthos. Life for Elena is quite, traditional and typically Greek. One day she meets a local young man, Angelos Sarkis and they strike up a friendship. Soon their friendship turns to love, but when Elena falls pregnant Angelos's father is furious and he bans Angelos from seeing Elena again, and forces Angelos to marry another woman. 
World War Two breaks out and Zakynthos is unable to escape invasion. Islanders are pitted against each other under the watchful eye of the Italian D'Aqui division. Elena hates the war and everything it stands for. She joins the resistance to fight for what she believes in, her freedom, and her daughters right to live in a peaceful world, but Elena finds herself drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse. In the end Elena realises that the only way through the madness of war is to makes the greatest of sacrifices. 
Decade’s later, in 1991, a young Cornish woman Kate Fisher is celebrating her 21st birthday. Her happiness is short-lived however when she finds out that she is adopted. The news shakes her and her world falls apart. She argues with her best friend Fletch, and they stop talking, which makes things worse for her. Kate tries her best to carry on, but finds it impossible. 
Ten years later Kate has moved from her home in Cornwall to Bristol, having tried her best to re-start her life, but she is stuck in a rut and unable to move on, her adoption and loss of her friendship with Fletch still haunting her. In the end Kate flees to Zakynthos, in Greece where she is finally forced to face the harsh reality of her past. What she discovers completely changes her life. 

Buy Links:

Giveaway:
Signed Paperback Copy +  a Greek Eye necklace to an UK Winner.
E-copy (all versions available) of the book for an international winner.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

#BookBlast :: Lean in to Relationship by Rishabh Jhol

About the Book:
Doubt has pivoted many a relationship across the centuries. Whether it is Othello suspicious of Desdemona or through the rise of paranoia as a trope in twentieth century writings. While paranoia naturally suggests the vulnerability of individual mind to social rhetoric, it is also the space for deep interrogation of the individual that renders him/her to paranoia. This novel presents that doubt has the potential to be a space of liberation.

Madeeha works in Jordan to rehabilitate Syrian refugees. Zehen, a political analyst from India, meets her in the US during their social impact program. He is intrigued and charmed by her, and falls deeply in love. But the world political climate, with its accompanying cultural narratives about terror and pain, infects Zehen’s mind. Zehen begins to suspect Madeeha as a possible mujahid. Will he find his truth?

Fear doesn’t devastate; it stirs the inner pot. It is a tender love story that triumphs heartbreaks and sets the foundation of deep lasting future relationships - a delightful emancipation from social intrigues and cultural constraints.



Read an Excerpt:

Zehen was experiencing sweet joy in his heart. Memories bustled in the head.

When did he first see her? Zehen searched his head madly. Orientation session? Corridor to the classroom? However, he tried, he couldn’t pinpoint the moment. A whirr of images, of moments, yet-to-be collaged. And a heart that already had a narrative, waiting to be inset.

We imagine that all romantic stories will have a sigh-worthy romantic beginning. But beginnings are when the heart awakens, when the soul remembers. A presence stills and emerges from the shadows of time.

His first memory was when she introduced herself in the class. They had gathered at Presidium University for a one-year course on Social Impact Leadership. Outside, the white fringe tree was laden with its grape-like fruits. The pine, oak and spruce waited for winter to tell the world how unchangeable they were. And the old Redwood stood proud like the institution itself. Inside, in the warm classroom, students from various cultures across the world had gathered. Icebreaker session was on and the usual round of introductions.

Introduction is a ritual. A cumbersome ritual. How does one reduce the tapestry of one’s entire existence, the colors, and the many weaves into a single palatable thread?

The Book is Free on Amazon on 29th & 30th September. Grab it here: Amazon

Anecdote

I published my first book in 2015 and my second book in early 2016. I was single at the time and using dating apps to meet other single people. I met a girl in mid-2016 who took fancy to my dating profile, especially that I am an author. After a couple of meetings, She demanded that I write about her. I jokingly told her that I am a Phoenix writer, i.e., I fall in love, get dumped, and write about my failed relationship. She broke-up with me, and still invariably pings whether I am including ‘her and our relationship’ in my upcoming book(s).

———————-

The genesis of this book came about while I was on a cross-country train ride in the US. I met Mark who had been a successful marketing professional with considerable international marketing experience. He had travelled to all of Asia and understood the regional peculiarities.
He was later diagnosed with lung cancer. By the time, it was detected, it was stage 3. He was put under radiation and intensive chemotherapy. He went in for three other opinions. All of them agreed that the cancer was aggressive and spreading fast. He searched for the latest treatments and sought to enter clinical trials. The process lasted for two years.

In the meantime, the cancer advanced. The doctors said the cancer was incurable and he didn’t have long to live. It took him weeks of denial to come around to the truth – he didn’t have long to live.

He returned home from a long walk one evening and asked himself a crucial question: “If I am going to die, then I might as well die straight away. What is point of waiting for death to show up?”

That evening he ate well, watched a movie with his girlfriend, poured himself a rare scotch and sat at his study. It was time. He wrote out his letter – love and wishes to his family, loved ones and friends, his last wishes about funeral, information on his will, and a general note thanking all. He placed it in an envelope. He planned to kill himself early morning. He finished his scotch, brushed and went to bed.

In the middle of night, he woke up to a noise. The light was on in the study and he could hear sniffles. He walked cautiously up and there in the study, his girlfriend was holding his suicide letter and crying. He watched her as her body crumpled and sink into chair. Her face contorted in agony. In her face, he saw what was the consequence of his action. The penny dropped.

I paled and listened in horror. Mark continued, “I realized that our life is never ours. We are nothing but a bundle of emotions for the people who love us and the people we love. The meaning of life is to optimize for the happiness of such people. There’s nothing more to living.
That day on, I have been living for maximizing the happiness of my loved ones”

That’s how I stumbled on lean in to relationships; it has become my life philosophy.


About the Author 
I was born into poverty. At the time of my birth, my parents shared a one -room hut with six other family members in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Delhi.

It was a hot day in the month of March 1995. I was in standard 4th and had an examination the following day. As was regular in that locality, we didn't have electricity that day. I couldn't study or sleep properly. One of the watershed moments happened when I came back from school the next day. We had an inverter installed at home. I knew we couldn't afford an inverter. But my dad was always convinced that the way out of poverty for our family is through education. 

Despite an interest in creative writing, I chose to study a subject that society values more – Finance.  Later, I got into one of the top colleges for finance in the country. My first salary out of college (in 2007, when I was 20 years old) was higher than that of my dad's salary at the time.

When I was 24 years old, I had everything that makes one happy – loving parents, great partner, close-knit group of friends, and career path that exceeded every goal. Yet, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t sad either; but it never felt like my life. I had carefully and meticulously built that life though. Contextually, it was the safe thing to do.

Following year though, I had to deal with the loss of my 7 year old relationship and of my 5 year old job. My identity was crushed. My biggest lesson was that you can fail at what you don't want, and what you consider safe; you might as well take a chance at what you truly want.
Next year, I got my ‘ideal’ job but walked away from it. Failure had taught me to be more ambitious and audacious. I had reached a point in my life where I wanted my work to have more meaning; and to stand for something more important than myself.

I started a political consulting company to maneuver social ascendance of marginalized communities by equalizing access to political capital.  I primarily did topical research for MPs for their debates in the parliament and on TV shows.  Partial project list includes:

1.   Providing 108 rape survivors with medical, legal, financial, and social support over six months through one of my client's NGO
2.   Getting amendments passed in the communal violence bill that tackle systemic bias towards Muslims
3.   Helping three social entrepreneurs raise a combined total of INR 43 lakhs from their MP for community initiatives

Along with running my own company, I focused on my passion for writing and traveling as well.  I solo travelled to all seven wonders of the world, and did two-cross country trips by train in India and in the US.  I have also written and published three fiction novels.






27 September, 2017

#BookReview :: Wytchfire (The Dragonkin Trilogy #1) by Michael Meyerhofer


In a land haunted by the legacy of dead dragons, Rowen Locke has been many things: orphan, gravedigger, mercenary. All he ever wanted was to become a Knight of Crane and wield a kingsteel sword against the kind of grown horrors his childhood knows all too well.

But that dream crumbled—replaced by a new nightmare.
War is overrunning the realms, an unprecedented duel of desire and revenge, steel and sorcery. And for one disgraced man who would be a knight, in a world where no one is blameless, the time has come to decide which side he’s on.


Goodreads I Amazon




First off, there is not much I can say about the story without giving off spoilers. So, I will stick with what the blurb of the book states; Wytchfire follows the story of Rowen Locke who aspires to become a knight. But with war raging and cities falling to it every day, there is more than one man’s life on the stake. The book has humans, Orcs, Dwarfs, Elfs, Dragons, Magic and much more.

The book was a bit slow at the beginning. The world setting and introduction of Rowen takes up some time. But it slowly picks up pace as the plot is unfurled and the readers are introduced to the many characters in the book. The plot is engaging as it has a lot to offer to its readers. But what I loved the most was the fact that this book has the most varied set of characters not only in terms of species but also in their appearances and preferences. Also, for most parts, the male and female characters are put on equal footing. There are a couple of female characters who made their mark in the plot. The character building in the book is amazing as we see different shades of characteristics and personalities in every character.

The authors style of storytelling is quite lyrical. It somehow complimented the enchanting world setting where everything felt real and elusive at the same time. There’s quite a bit of action, drama and humour sprinkled through the book keeping it from becoming dull at any point. 

The book ends with a cliffhanger that ensures that the readers pick up the next book in the installment soon after.  I think that all fantasy lovers will quite enjoy this book.


Review Copy received from the Author




25 September, 2017

#Spotlight :: Beauty & the Bigfoot by Kelli A. Wilkins

Have you ever read a Bigfoot romance?
Beauty & the Bigfoot – a quirky paranormal comedy


Hi folks,

My latest release, Beauty & the Bigfoot (Yes, it’s a Bigfoot romance!) offers readers a quirky look at the legend of Bigfoot. When I told people I was writing a Bigfoot romance, they said, “You’re kidding, right?”

Nope! Maybe I watched too much In Search Of… as a child, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in “unexplained phenomena” (aka: the strange and unusual).

I started out writing horror short stories and romances, so it was only a matter of time before I went down the paranormal romance road. Beauty & the Bigfoot is my third paranormal romance. My first, Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover, is a more serious love story, and Killer in Wolf’s Clothing takes the concept of werewolves in a very different direction.

Beauty & the Bigfoot started out with the premise: “What if a cryptozoologist’s daughter fell in love with a captured Bigfoot?” I liked the idea, but I wasn’t sure where I could take it.

Later, when I was doing research for the book, (Yes, there was a lot of research involved!), I came across several historical accounts dating back to the 1500s of huge, hairy “wild men” living in the woods. Native American tribes had several names for Bigfoot and they took the subject seriously. After reading these stories, my imagination took over. (Once you read the book, you’ll see how it all ties in together. If you think you know how the story ends, think again!)

Beauty & the Bigfoot was a lot of fun to write and I had a great time creating the characters. Through Tara and her eccentric father, Charlie, I was able to turn up the camp level and add in many wacky references and asides. They don’t exactly take the situation seriously, and neither should readers. It’s called a paranormal comedy for a reason.

So, is Bigfoot real? Is the Patterson film a hoax? Are there Sasquatches roaming the forests of the Pacific Northwest? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that the legend continues on – with a happy ending – in Beauty & the Bigfoot.

Here’s the synopsis:

Beauty & the Bigfoot
Can true love exist between the species?

Tara’s world is anything but normal. Her father is known as the resident crackpot – just because he’s on a personal mission to catch a Sasquatch. Despite all of the “Bigfoot evidence” cluttering their house, Tara never really believed in Bigfoot – until the day her father brought him home.

She affectionately names her father’s prized catch ‘Joe’ and discovers there’s something oddly familiar – and erotic – about him. With a media circus descending on her father’s ranch and a showdown brewing with the local sheriff, Tara risks her life to save Joe. 

When Tara finally succumbs to her animalistic urges, she learns that Joe is not exactly who – or what – he seems. Joe is more than a Sasquatch – he’s her soul mate!

A mild excerpt:

Tara shook her head and sighed as she entered the cluttered den. She adjusted the framed certificate from the Cryptozoological Society recognizing her father as a “Certified Bigfoot Investigator.” It hung on the wall in a place of esteemed honor—next to an 8-by-10 enlargement of frame 352 from the Patterson film. The infamous shot showed a female Bigfoot in mid-stride looking over her shoulder at the camera.
As much as she loved her dad, she had never understood his obsession with Bigfoot.
“Charlie MacAllister’s Bigfoot Museum” was her father’s pride and joy. Floor-to-ceiling bookcases were crammed with dusty paperbacks titled It Lurks in the Woods and Some Call it Sasquatch! Notebooks detailing his expeditions, sightings, and other “evidence” were stacked next to the loveseat. Scrapbooks filled with tabloid articles proclaiming I WAS BIGFOOT’S BRIDE and BIGFOOT SIGHTED IN UFO were strewn on the coffee table. Her mother’s antique china closet held plaster casts of Bigfoot tracks.
She opened the back door, letting in the fresh July air. The den needed to be aired out and cleaned, and she could only do that when her father went on a “field excursion.” If she was lucky, she would be able to vacuum and dust before—
“Tara! Where are you?” Her father raced into the den, then scowled as he spotted her. “What are you doing in here? Are you trying to clean again? What did I tell you about that?”
She stared at her father like he was from another planet. His medium-brown hair stuck up all over his head like horns, he hadn’t shaved in days, and his clothes were covered with dirt and brambles. It was no wonder why the whole town considered him a raving kook—among other things.
“Come on, come on! You’ve gotta come out and see it! I did it. I did it.”
“Now what?” she forced herself to ask. How many times had Dad rushed in with the “biggest discovery of the year” only to show her a photo of another Bigfoot track? She hated to dampen his enthusiasm, but she had been surrounded by Bigfoot paraphernalia for her entire life and she just wasn’t interested in it anymore.
“I got him. The big male. You know the one.” He gestured at a framed, grainy photo of something running through the woods. “Him.”
She rolled her eyes. Her father wasn’t like other Bigfoot researchers who wanted to catch any old Bigfoot—No, Charlie MacAllister was on a personal mission to catch one particular Bigfoot. One he claimed had been living within five miles of their house for years.
“Dad, if this is a bear cub, or a—”
“No. You’ll see. Now I’ll finally be able to prove that I’m not the nutcase everyone in town thinks I am.”
She let her father drag her into the backyard. “Oh my God! What is that?”
She ran to the flatbed trailer and stared at the unconscious creature. It lay stretched out on its back with its hairy arms and legs shackled to the metal trailer frame. Dad had captured something, all right. There was no mistaking what it was. She had seen enough photos of Bigfoot to know him anywhere.
“You did catch him.” She looked at her father. “But, but…” For once in her life, she was speechless.
Her father grinned and folded his arms across his chest. “Well, now do you believe me? I told you I caught Bigfoot. You should listen to your old man. He knows what he’s talking about.”
Her mind whirled. How was it possible? After twenty years of searching, her father had done it. He had actually captured Bigfoot.
***
Order your copy of Beauty & the Bigfoot here:
AmazonApple * B&N * Kobo


I hope you have as much fun reading the story as I did writing it! I welcome comments and questions from readers, so feel free to contact me via my website, blog, or social media.
Happy Reading,
Kelli A. Wilkins

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels.
Her paranormal-comedy, Beauty & the Bigfoot, was published in September 2017.
Kelli released Trust with Hearts, a contemporary romance, in July 2017. Her third gay romance, Four Days with Jack, was released in June 2017. Kelli’s trilogy of erotic romance novellas, Midsummer Night’s Delights, Midwinter Night’s Delights, and Ultimate Night’s Delights was published in spring 2017.
Loving a Wild Stranger was published in January 2017. This historical/pioneer romance is set in the wilds of the Michigan Territory and blends tender romance with adventure.
Kelli's third Medallion Press romance, Lies, Love & Redemption was released in September 2016. This spicy historical western is set on the Nebraska prairie in 1877.
Her writing book, You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction is a fun and informative guide filled with writing exercises and helpful tips all authors can use.
Kelli posts on her Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins and Twitter: www.Twitter.com/KWilkinsauthor.
She also writes a weekly blog: http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com/.
Visit her website, www.KelliWilkins.com to learn more about all of her writings, read book excerpts, reviews, and more. Readers can sign up for her newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/HVQqb.

23 September, 2017

#BookReview :: Yama’s Lieutenant and the Stone Witch by Anuja Chandramouli

As Yama's Lieutenant, Agni Prakash, has diligently been tracking down demons and spirits that threaten peace on earth and dispatching them to his lord's thousand hells. Danger is a constant in his job, but this time an apocalypse threatens his entire world. Agni must go up against a terrifying sorceress-adept in the ancient art of stone magic-and her bestial army of demoniacal creatures who used to be humans before they were transformed into willing killing machines. The witch has a nightmarish vision for a new world that involves large scale culling of the humans-and it falls to Agni to stop her. He must find the Samayakalas, the mysterious keepers of time and reset the clock before all life is destroyed. However, any contact with the Samayakalas is forbidden to mortal and immortal alike and those who flout the ancient decree risk incurring punishment far worse than death. The price asked of him is an impossible one, but Yama's Lieutenant does not have a choice. Enlisting the help of old friends, he must submit to being borne across an ocean of death and destruction to find the Samayakalas before darkness engulfs them all. 



Full disclosure… This review (and future reviews of the books by this author) may be slightly biased. I have been reading Anuja Chandramouli’s books right from the time she made her debut with Arjuna. I have read three more books by her since then, making this the 5th book I am reading (and reviewing). She has slowly grown to be one of my favourite IWE authors with her steady delivery of quality content and lucid language.

Agni Prakash is back with a second adventure in Yama’s Lieutenant and the Stone Witch. The first instalment was Yama’s Lieutenant which was in a way a very dark tale. Agni is still reeling from the events of the last book. But with the help of Minothy, he is also dealing with it all the while disposing of demons that threaten the world. This time around, he is running against time and has to literally reset time before all goes to hell and brings forth an apocalypse that the humans may not survive. Agni is up against a sorceress who may very well be unstoppable.

Well, I would have ended that paragraph with, ‘Will Agni be successful in his quest?’… But then I thought – ofcourse he will be. He is Agni Prakash. The one thing that bugged me in the first book was the way Agni’s character was developed. The author has done a much better job with his character this time. We can clearly see his many shades and it is easier to connect to him. The other characters were also done well irrespective of whether they were repeat characters of new ones. Some had small but significant roles to play and they were handled really well. There are many elements in the plot and each of them had very exciting lines. Whether it be the angle that the sorceress plays or whether it is the concept of existence of Samayakalas, they can ensnare any fantasy lover. 

All in all, this was a very good follow up book that actually makes me hope that we will get to read more about Agni Prakash and his adventures in the future.


Review Copy received from the Author


22 September, 2017

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - A complex book of two parts by Chrissie Parker




*** Special Feature - September 2017 ***


About the Author:

Chrissie lives in Devon, UK, with her husband. She has published five books including Integrate and Temperance (books one and two of The Moon Series), Among the Olive Groves, Nabataea and The Secrets, a collection of Poems and Short Stories. Other work includes articles for the Bristolian, The Huffington Post, The Zakynthos Informer, Epilepsy Awareness Squad and Epilepsy Literary Heritage Foundation.
Chrissie’s poem Maisie was performed at the 100 poems by 100 women event at the Bath International Literary Festival in 2013. In 2016 Among the Olive Groves won an historical fiction award in the Summer Indie Book Awards.
Chrissie is passionate about Ancient History, Archaeology and Travel, and has completed two Egyptology courses and an Archaeological Techniques course with Exeter University.



Contact the Author:

A complex book of two parts

Writing a book is one of the most challenging things someone can do. I do believe that everyone has a book in them, everyone has their own story to tell and I would never discourage anyone who wanted to write a book to do so, but there is so much more to it than just writing. There’s planning, researching, characterisation, spelling, grammar, punctuation, plot and scene development, as well as copious amounts of editing. Ultimately writing a book is more than just writing a story, it’s about all the many elements that all go together to finally form the end product and it can be a lot of hard work.



The final version of Among the Olive Groves is actually the third version of the book that was written, after a lot of trial, error and frustration.

When I first began writing the book the story was set in World War Two only, and told from Elena’s point of view, with Kate’s side of the story not being revealed until the very end of the book. Even though the story made sense I didn’t like it, something about it felt wrong. It was as though the book needed more too it, as though Kate’s story needed to be bigger and more prominent throughout it somehow, so I changed it. 


I went back and started to re-write the whole story, which was incredible difficult, as it meant pulling the first version to pieces and reassembling it like a big word filled jigsaw. This second version of Among the Olive Groves changed dramatically. It became s story told from two points of view Angelos’ and Kate’s, in the modern era, with Elena’s story and the war years appearing as Angelos’ thoughts and retellings to Kate. 
This also didn’t feel right, the story had gone from one extreme to another with Elena being sidelined for the other two characters. It was as though all three characters were fighting to have their say in the story as lead characters.



I sat there with no idea of what to do. I had two very different books, both good, but both not quite good enough. All three characters wanted to be in the book in equal part and have their say, so in the end after much thought I pulled the books to pieces in order to create a new and third one, choosing to set the story in two different time periods, with Kate and Elena having their own stories, with Angelos appearing in both stories. Thankfully, this time it worked and the end I was very happy with the end result.



Many authors say that even though they have story ideas and plans, the books they write often take on a life of their own with characters dictating what happens. This is very true of Among the Olives, but I’m glad that the characters of Elena, Kate and Angelos fought so hard to be heard, as I think the final version works well, and the story is all the better for it.



About the Book:
It is 1938, and a young Elena Petrakis lives on the small Greek Island of Zakynthos. Life for Elena is quite, traditional and typically Greek. One day she meets a local young man, Angelos Sarkis and they strike up a friendship. Soon their friendship turns to love, but when Elena falls pregnant Angelos's father is furious and he bans Angelos from seeing Elena again, and forces Angelos to marry another woman. 
World War Two breaks out and Zakynthos is unable to escape invasion. Islanders are pitted against each other under the watchful eye of the Italian D'Aqui division. Elena hates the war and everything it stands for. She joins the resistance to fight for what she believes in, her freedom, and her daughters right to live in a peaceful world, but Elena finds herself drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse. In the end Elena realises that the only way through the madness of war is to makes the greatest of sacrifices. 
Decade’s later, in 1991, a young Cornish woman Kate Fisher is celebrating her 21st birthday. Her happiness is short-lived however when she finds out that she is adopted. The news shakes her and her world falls apart. She argues with her best friend Fletch, and they stop talking, which makes things worse for her. Kate tries her best to carry on, but finds it impossible. 
Ten years later Kate has moved from her home in Cornwall to Bristol, having tried her best to re-start her life, but she is stuck in a rut and unable to move on, her adoption and loss of her friendship with Fletch still haunting her. In the end Kate flees to Zakynthos, in Greece where she is finally forced to face the harsh reality of her past. What she discovers completely changes her life. 

Buy Links:

Giveaway:
Signed Paperback Copy +  a Greek Eye necklace to an UK Winner.
E-copy (all versions available) of the book for an international winner.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

20 September, 2017

#Interview with Stephen Puiia, #Author of Lucky Duck Cola

About the Author:



Steve was born and raised in Prince Edward Island, Canada. He makes his living as a Yoga instructor and trainer and is presently based in Shanghai, China.






An Interview:

What inspires you to write?
I’m inspired to write by my insecurity. I have a low self esteem and need to be validated all the time. I look at writing like making a friend. Usually, when you’re making friends with someone you tell them a secret, then they tell you a secret, then you trust one another and become friends. When I tell someone a humiliating story and they  are ok with it then I feel reassured. 
Writing is similar but on a larger scale. I do it to give people the opportunity to reject me. I’ve been lucky and often when I’ve been weird or tried to alienate myself people have accepted me. This has shown me that it’s ok for me to accept myself and has given me many good feelings throughout my life.

Tell us about your writing process.
I’d graduated from University and was working as a high performance athletic trainer and a yoga instructor in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. I’d always loved watching movies and making comedy/horror videos. Since entering school I’d wanted to write a novel and my profession allowed me the freedom to work on it. 
It took a few years of working on Lucky Duck Cola for me to realize how lonely writing it would be. It was a sad time. I started writing because I wanted to share myself with others but even when people read your work you can’t be there to watch them read it. Throughout the writing process I was starved for the emotional kick that you get while acting. I’d get someone to read the story, they’d have a really ambiguous reaction, and I’d become fixated on the cause. Did they think it sucked? Or was it because they were so removed from reading that they couldn’t recollect their feelings. Or were they withholding their feelings from me intentionally in order to hurt me?
After three years of working on Lucky Duck I became very suspicious no one was actually reading the story so I began paying people to read it. One of them told me that the story made no sense at all and that it made me look insane. I burst into tears. Afterward I became really obsessed with form. A hundred thousand word story was widdled down to thirty thousand. 
I thought things were finally on a good path and gave the story to a friend, (let’s call him…Ben Allain). He’d read it years earlier and I wanted to see how his perspective had changed. He said he’d liked it better before. Then proceeded to give me really true and harsh feedback which demolished my ego. He also insinuated that I was beneath writing a book. It’s very likely that that last part is a projection of mine. Either way I agreed agreed with him. I started over from scratch. 
Up to this point I’d been working on the story for about 8 years and was about to do a full reconstruction. My sense of failure was so overpowering I saw it reflected in all areas of my life. I found that the bad feelings I was having about the story were causing me to be a worse person in real life. The guilt of being a bad person compounded the shame. At this time I was dependant on many people, things and states of mind. I was haunted by suicidal thoughts. 
I ended a relationship I was in and moved to Taiwan. It was honestly a retreat on my part.  In Taiwan I worked a job I hadn’t done before, my coworkers didn’t respect me, and I hadn’t made enough money to relocate. I slept on the floor in a tiny windowless room that had a black mold infestation. I got mold poisoning. It was a truly low time for me. My neighbour (Luke Dailey) also got mold poisoning and, as fate would have it, was a novelist. He was at a similar stage in life and the writing process. 
The unbearable living situation provided me with the impetus to finish the story with or without a publisher just to move forward with my life. Luke’s objective but empathic perspective helped me to strike a balance between indulging wild ideas and using structured writing to make the story more reader friendly.
In the end I moved to China and shortly thereafter was fortunate enough to be published by Solstice Publishing.  This brings us to today. I feel relieved and like I can let my guard down a little bit but not the good feelings I’d anticipated. I often catch myself trying to contrive an emotionally cathartic moment but I haven’t managed to have one yet. Oh well, I’m sure it will happen when I stop wanting it to so bad.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
I would have to say it’s either the scene of Proctor’s death or the frying pan genocide scene. I love these scenes mainly because I get excited by the supernatural gore. There are other scenes that maybe mean more to me or that get me more emotional. But the supernatural slime and blood and guts are and have always been the consistency of the story and what I got the biggest kick out of creating.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Although many characteristics were taken from people I’ve known, like my father or ex girlfriends, all of the characters trace back to various aspects of me. It was difficult in the early drafts to make distinct characters. They all sounded a little bit like me, the narrator, when they talked. In the end I had to go through the whole story and write down which words different characters tended to use. I’d give each character their own lexicon or at least a few phrases or words that they use and no one else does. My goal was to have it so that in the end I could read an isolated quote and tell who was speaking without any extra information. I don’t think I achieved this in all instances but had some good success. 

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
My friend and editor Luke once told me “This is a nice sentence but you haven’t earned it.” Objectively I don’t think it’s the best writing advice I’ve ever heard but as far as my writing is concerned it’s the most appropriate advice I could have received. I was very insecure at the time and I kept trying to fill the story with all the best sentences I had. I thought if I stacked up all the best sentences I could that eventually they’d add up to something meaningful.  This turned out not to be true. It made me invulnerable to the reader and made it hard for people to feel connected to the narrator. The whole story had to break around these groupings of words I liked and I was reworking plot lines and dialogue to preserve a certain sound or word combination. Needless to say this really hurt the plot.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
It’s important that the reader is able to see something of themselves in you. Write about things that mean something to you in a way you feel people will be able to identify with. Don’t focus too much on looking cool and being right. For a long time I thought about these things too much and it robbed me of the therapeutic benefits of writing. I didn’t see at the time the intimacy between the author and reader. If you can truly let them into your feelings it will deepen the experience for you as 

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
- I’ve had many different jobs. Within the last three years I’ve worked as: a Yoga instructor, an athletic trainer, a Thai massage therapist, a juice bar attendant, a life coach, a bouncer, a writer, ESL teacher and a delivery driver. Often while writing Lucky Duck Cola I’d be doing three or four of these at a time. My favourite of these jobs was the delivery driving job.
- I once rowed a boat on television with Prince William and Princess Kate. I don’t have strong feelings about the royals one way or another but he gave me one of the best handshakes I’ve ever received. You could tell it’s his job to shake hands and that his hands are built to be shook. His hands were soft, clean and elegant but strong—good eye contact, good smile. I was left wanting to like him.
- There is a picture taken of Princess Kate. In it you can see the back of my head. It looks like her and I are sharing a joke or a laugh. But as I remember the moment we weren’t looking at one another and her eyes didn’t settle on me at any point.

About the Book:
Vonnegut meets Philip K. Dick in this dark and surreal, dystopian satire. 
Humania is in danger. Cola mogul, Joe Tornado and General Lenis Meanest are in control and want to kick someone’s butt. Their target is the most disempowered, ugly and stinky group in Hover City—the Humaniacs. One Humaniac, Pooya, stands a chance to stop them. Locked away in the top floor of Tornado Tower he continually balks at action. His self-esteem is weak and he is crushed beneath the weight of his mission. When faced with his own failure Pooya spirals into an abyss of compulsive masturbation, self-pity and binge eating. Can he stop abusing himself in time to save the lives billions? Lucky Duck Cola is the story of falling into and out of love set across a backdrop of monsters, gore, sex, political corruption, death, betrayal, blood, genocide and slime.


18 September, 2017

#Interview with Theodore Ficklestein, #Author of A Day In The Life

About the Author:
Theodore Ficklestein is an author, blogger and poet who has written three poetry books and runs multiple blogs. His first novel A Day In The Life is due out in 2017 and his poetry has appeared in Nuthouse and Avalon Literary Review. 

Contact the Author:
Website I Twitter I Facebook I Google Plus I Instagram 


An Interview:

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
I remember sitting alone in the college lobby thinking to myself, “This. This is a story.” I admit, I didn’t know what I meant by that, but I soon contemplated that the nothingness of college could be a story about self-discovery. A few times later during the semester as I walked around campus from class to class that same thought popped in my head again. “This. This is a story. A kid walking around college not knowing where he wants to go in life.” I was also attending a comedy class at the time so it felt natural to include that part to the story. A funny story about that is, I wrote the first few chapters of the book on my way home on the train from a comedy class. When I wrote them I didn’t’ really have a concrete outline for the book but I definitely knew it would be about a college kid going to classes and then to comedy clubs later that night. I stopped going to the class to focus on the book.

Tell us about your writing process.
I first write down any major parts or notes for the story that I have. So for my book it would be something like, “Kid walks around college. Add comedy to it. Remember that lobby feel.”It all begins with a very basic idea that needs to be developed. If I had thought of certain scenes already I would make a note on them. So for the scene with Nick and Carter talking it would be something like “Carter asks Nick about writing career.  Empty parking lot.” The first notes are just to get the initial book out of my head and onto paper. Then I separate the scenes, however many I have, into a plot. This is where it gets tricky because I am not at a full book yet, so I either work on the parts I wrote already, add more scenes to the outline, or work on characters to help the story. I continue with this until I reach a certain amount I am happy with and the story is at a point I feel I can no longer go anywhere with it.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
I enjoy the scene where Nick and Carter are talking in the school parking lot about Nick’s career. There is a hopelessness in that scene that is not in the others. It was like the characters were there, but not really talking to one another. They both had a lot on their minds, but did not want to talk to each other. The dark empty parking lot for me really makes the scene. They are barely talking and no one is around. The tone from that scene really separates it from others, in my opinion. That was one of the first scenes I told someone about. I said to them. “I think I have something here.”

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Definitely the sarcasm. I try to make all my characters have some wit to them. The main character, Nick, got the most of this trait. Also I realized when I was editing the book, that the main character had an anger in him that I had when I was attending school. I do not feel this way anymore, but I think it helped the story because the frustration from the narrator is real since I felt it when writing the story. 

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I don’t like writing with other people around. I don’t understand how there are some who can go to a coffee shop with the music blasting and still write. I can’t. I also like to write out the first draft by hand, then I type it up. My first draft is never typed up. I have this weird thing I do with the characters if I do not know their name. Instead of giving them an actual name I name them P1 (meaning Person 1) and P2 (meaning Person 2). I do the same if I don’t know the main character’s name when writing about him or her by labeling them MC, for main character. Some of my drafts are only dialogue for these people P1 and P2. If you read only that, you’d be very confused.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
There’s a lot. The most recent one is by a friend of mine who advised me of the following, “Don’t have a backup plan. There is no backup plan. Writing is the only plan.” Sometimes I see people who only put half of what they have into something, to not be ready to work hard for it, I try not to be one of those people. 

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I try to read as much as I can. I actually saw somewhere that someone like Warren Buffet, or Bill Gates advised people to read five hours a day. I can’t do that. I like the classic authors like Poe and Hemingway. I’m impressed that a guy like Poe can still be so popular without having a signature novel. That speaks for the great writer he was. I also find it funny that Hemingway won the Pulitzer for a novel when he is known for his short stories. I try to read what I think will help me, whether it is a classic, a history book, or a how to book.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
A gun; in case of anything. A map; to the treasure on the island (I am going to assume that there is some sort of treasure on the island) and keys to my boat so I can get off the island.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
I am currently working on my next novel. It is contemporary literary fiction and I am about done with the outline. I’ll start to pitch it to publishers in the fall. I don’t want to give too much of it away but I will say that if you like cookies and humor, you’ll like. I would suggest for all readers interested in staying up to date with my writing to follow me on social media or my website. 

About the Book:
A Day In The Life is Theodore Ficklestein’s debut novel about Nickolas Cripp, a college student finding his way in the world. Although Nick won’t admit it, he is the main focus to a young adult book that follows him from his home to college to the city, where he wants to attend an open mic.
Along his path, he encounters a teacher who asks about the apocalypse, a drunk on the train and two friends who feel writing isn’t Nick’s strong point, among others. Nick soon finds out that the funniest things in life aren’t that funny at all, and the greatest comedians never go up on stage.
As he goes through his day, one oddball character at a time, Nick starts to question if the comedy club he dreams of being in, is really for him. Should he be who he wants to be? Or who the world thinks he should be? Neither of which, he is entirely sure about.
A personal journey of self-discovery through the eyes of a youth yearning for meaning in a meaningless world; Nick learns that in life, the joke is on you.