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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Kami Jin by Lloyd Kaneko

I’d like to introduce Lloyd Kaneko author of science fiction book Kami Jin. He has kindly agreed to be interviewed on my blog. I like to do a little research on my guests and have been looking Lloyd up and he's one interesting guy!


He's a Quaker, a religion I thought had died out in England in the 17th century. Lloyd's highly qualified in his chosen career having gained a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and he's studied creative and screen writing. He is also a judge for various screenplays for International Film Festivals at Mexico, Honolulu, Canadian and Las Vegas.

Thank you for having me here today. I’m very honored to be your guest and to chat with someone across the pond. Although I am a Quaker, I believe my spirituality has taken me to a higher plane after I finished Kami Jin.

A higher plane?
I was born into a Buddhist family, eventually converted and baptized into the Disciples of Christ when I returned from Algeria. Much later became a convinced Quaker. That’s pretty much been my path until now. Now I think I have moved on somewhat. Although my ties are still with First Friends Church of Whittier, and I consider myself to be more spiritual rather than really religious for I have learned to see the beauty and truth in everything.

And you've used that spiritualality in your book?
Having written the book I share where the source of this beauty and truth comes from. So even though I know that religion around the world is dying, I encourage readers of my book to at least maintain their spirituality.

You’re well travelled having visited continental United States as well as internationally to Japan, France, Spain, Holland and Algeria. How come Holland and not the rest of Europe?
I have to admit it was a brief stopover entering and exiting Europe. Europe is a fascinating place and I yearn to return and spend quality time there from one end to the other, starting in the UK. In the States, I have had the pleasure of meeting a lot of friends from the United Kingdom.

We could see you in England sometime soon, then?

I’d like to visit, but Wales is beckoning me. My full name is Ryoji Lloyd Kaneko. My middle name just so happens to be Welsh even though I don’t have an ounce of Welsh blood in me – it’s all Japanese. But I’ve always been fascinated with Wales even though I was given a Welsh middle name at birth. My creative writing mentor in college, Dora Beale Polk, is a famous Welsh author of many works of literature. My other Welsh influence comes from my singing experiences in the Welsh Choir of Southern California. So, there are some words in the Welsh language that I can pronounce, including the correct pronunciation of “Lloyd.”


Thanks to Facebook, I’ve come into contact with a lot more people around the world. I especially have several friends in Bulgaria which is also a destination that I’m very interested in visiting. Besides friendships in Canada, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India, I also have a friend in Saudi Arabia. And, one of the nice features about Facebook is the little tool called “chat.” You don’t even need a phone, just start chatting on line. It has made the world much smaller and closer together. The nice thing about it is that you are communicating in real time. Not like the old days where you communicated with your friends abroad with a postcard or letters that took forever to get to its destination.

The trouble with that though is that you can spend all your time chatting, and not writing! So, what have you learned on your travels?
Personally, I think there’s a lot that can be learned from Europe – especially by people here in the United States. There are many beautiful and fascinating cultures, traditions, as well as a very rich cultural arts history. As a choral singer that sings baritone, I appreciate the great master works that have been written by the great master composers of Europe. This is another reason why I really need to get back to Europe! European art has had a great influence on my life, and for this, I am very thankful – especially having the opportunity to see Picasso’s Guernica in person and the Reina Sofia Museum. Don’t get me wrong, this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands of other works which are just as worthy. I’ve only had a great opportunity to see other samples at the Prado Museum. There are hundreds of other places yet to be discovered, at least for myself!


Not only this, but the United States can learn lessons on how to improve relations and be a good neighbor to its bordering countries like Mexico and Cuba. It seems easier to cross the English Channel between England and France; between France and Spain; than it is to cross the border between California and Mexico. And forget about crossing between Arizona and Mexico!

Really? I never knew that!
To elevate this step another notch, I would really like to explore the rest of the world! I really consider the world to be my real home -- not just Whittier, California, USA.

Kami Jin seems to voice your Quaker beliefs. It evokes readers to think about the world they live in and makes them question their government. Was this intentional?
I’m happy to say that Quakerism still survives here in the States and I know in several other countries it is also doing very well. George Fox would be happy to know that we’re still alive and well even though our numbers are small.



My original intent in writing the book was to tell a story reflecting my experiences in Corporate America in a fictitious setting. But as the story began to shed light on the dark side of capitalism – with greed and corruption consuming both the corporate world and in government – social commentary started to get into the mix of what I thought was going to be an ordinary science fiction novel. So as I got into the second third of the book, I found myself on a mission – to get people to think who they are, the world that we live in, and yes, even question the government. In my book, I mentioned that we were always conditioned to behave like “sheep.”

We do behave like sheep though, don't we!
The churches often did this by preaching the stories of the Shepherd and His flock. We were always told not to question authority. But when this “authority” no longer serves the people and has been bribed and controlled by other entities, what are we, the people, supposed to do? Sit back and permit more powerful people to trample our lives? Deny us our freedoms and the dignity of being human beings just so a relatively few people could live “high off the hog?”

Oh my, that's very deep. I take it you don't care for President Obama?
I voted for him in the last election. I am deeply concerned for him even though I might not agree with everything that he does – especially when he reneged on promises that he made during his election campaign. I admired the man when he talked boldly of facing the enemy face to face in order to settle differences and to come to a peace resolution. He has yet to do this. Instead, he escalates the problem by sending more troops to Afghanistan. This is when he has lost some credibility. In my perception, the country would still rather settle their differences through military force rather than through diplomatic channels. No, I’m not one of those praying for his death – this is against my spiritual beliefs.



No, I just don’t care for the government in its current state. And unfortunately, as city commissioner sworn to defend the Constitution of the United States, I am embarrassed to say that there are a lot of politicians in the federal government that don’t know what the differences are between the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are. Many times quotes allegedly from the Declaration are claimed to be that of the Constitution by U.S. Senators and Congressional Representatives. They practically declare everything as being “unconstitutional.” A lot of things that they declare as unconstitutional aren’t even covered by the Constitution!

Not fancied becoming involved in politics, then?
I have undergone ethics training and have signed pledges to adhere to high standards of ethical codes. However, there are many in political circles who don’t subscribe to the same standards. They accept corporate interest money freely and their lawmaking decisions are tainted and influenced by special interests, not in the interest of the people who they were elected to serve.


We’re stuck with a form government that is old and needs a major overhaul (modernization). From my perspective, the federal government is out of touch and no longer serves the people, but is a government by corporations and for corporations. Hence, there is a lot of legislation that heavily favors corporate interests, and punishes the consumer. There is more concern for profit than there is for the needs of people.

Sounds like Britain's politics!
In Michael Moore’s documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story, there are instances where families are evicted out of their houses by banks. Law enforcement officials are sent to the properties to literally remove these families from their dwellings without any offers to assist them with temporary alternative living accommodations. Yet, government stands aside and does absolutely nothing but encourage this despicable behavior. Where is the humility towards men in all of this? The world needs to know about this. The United States often complains about inhumane practices in other countries, but often gets away with crimes of its own. I think justice has to be served equally, this includes crimes against humanity in the United States.

Here in the UK we’re having an election on May 6th, so politics are a major front line at moment. Do you follow any of that too?
Unfortunately, I do not get very much political news about the UK here in the States – and that’s a sad commentary of what news services are here in America. When I get a rare opportunity, I love watching the BBC World Service. The BBC provides me with an excellent picture of what is going on in the world. Listening to Public Radio here in the United States also provides an excellent broad coverage of national and international news. Unfortunately, they are often targeted for closure by conservatives.



News stations here in America do not provide this to the people here in the States. It is sad because most of the coverage is bickering between liberal and conservative journalism. The “news” that is broadcast here in America is typically someone getting murdered, corruption in government or how broke the government is, sports, corruption in sports – practically everything that would be considered as “unimportant” to the rest of the world, and often boring to me. The good news or someone making a remarkable achievement would often get ignored or overlooked both in broadcast and in print. The good news and newsworthy events are often overshadowed by negative news (violence, crime, corruption, sex, scandals, celebrity gossip etc.).

Yep, that sounds similar.
The only kind of international political news that seem to get headlines here in the States are when a corrupt political head of state is “elected” into high office or if it’s about some political regime that is totally contrary to the United States. If it were an ally having an election such as the UK, news like that would often get buried with other matters and, perhaps, not even mentioned at all.


So sorry, I certainly wish there were more coverage of the politics across the pond. But unfortunately, with the lousy news coverage that we are offered here in America, we’re often kept in the dark about international affairs. I think that’s what I like about short wave radio!

I suppose that's the beauty of the Internet.
Indeed, because of the internet you can get world news despite the poor international coverage of our television and radio companies. While reading a little about your upcoming elections, it sounds as if it pretty much carries the same themes as our election – experience vs. change. Locally, in my municipality, we just had an election for city council. Experience won overwhelmingly. I, however, voted for change. To me, it seems like “experience” has been overly used in political circles. Politicians like to say they are “experienced.” But when you look at their records, very little has been accomplished or very little has changed since the person has taken office. So, how important is experience? What real benefit does the public get from all this “experience.” At our federal level, we have a lot of experienced corrupt representatives that have been paid off by large corporations. They work for the special interests, not for the people. And this was supposed to be a government “by the people, for the people?” I wish the people of the UK well and for a satisfactory outcome of your elections.

Thank you. You’ve suffered with your health and because of that you became dissatisfied with your health service. Was this where you got your major idea for the book?
No, the idea of my book came from seeing the masses of people whom were roaming the streets of Los Angeles Skid Row, homeless. Then, I was unemployed for four consecutive years myself. The anger and frustration of not being able to get a job only added fuel to the incentive for writing the book. And that was to shed light on what the society in America will do to an individual once he or she down and out.



The health issues piled up when I was unemployed and my benefits expired. But as I was writing the book, I was able to see the sinister side of health care in America – how more important profit is rather than how important people are. Many doctors are really more concerned about protecting their liability rather than caring for the patient. Insurance companies are more concerned about making profits and cutting benefits and services rather than the health and care of the patient. Somehow, this entire picture seems very wrong in my mind. It is evident in this country that there are people making medical decisions for patients in this country that don’t have a medical degree or license. That, in my mind is a crime against humanity. Furthermore, the way some doctors practice medicine in this country is totally contrary to the Hyppocratic oath that they’ve sworn to.

The world in which you paint in Kami Jin sounds unthinkable. Do you really think we could be heading that way in the future?
In the United States, a lot of citizens lost their jobs due to globalization and automation. I don’t know if it was apparent to you in the UK, but here in the U.S., a lot of people in Mid-America lost their jobs because a lot of manufacturing jobs were exported overseas. A lot of textile jobs were lost to China. Executives continuously sought ways to maximize profits while keeping costs down. A large part of that strategy was to reduce its work force by seeking cheaper labor.



Think about it, with humans still in the workforce, companies still have to pay salaries benefits. With automation, such as droids and robots, executives would not have to pay salaries, benefits, and can work the machines 24/7 without giving them meal or personal breaks for the restroom or for tea, in your country – coffee in mine. This would save a tremendous amount of money that would put even more money into their coffers!


Now if we really wanted to take corporate greed to it’s the extreme, don’t you think this scenario would be likelihood in the future? After all, Honda built a robot called “Asimo” – an intelligent robot that can walk and talk. Is this just the beginning of the demise of workers and laborers around the world?

I can definitely see it happening. Don't they say not so much science fiction, but science fact.
A science probability. The world hasn’t given very much thought as to automation and humans in the workplace. It has pretty much let corporations decide how to freely “dispose” of their workforce without any kind of transitional planning for humans. And unfortunately, as we are seeing today, people are often getting the short end of the stick when it comes to layoffs and corporate downsizing.

Many of these people do not have anywhere else to go. There are very few jobs to be had or, the skills that they possess are no longer useful. In the U.S. our educational systems really haven’t kept up with changing trends. There is overcrowding in schools, and on top of this, the schools and colleges themselves are reducing programs and opportunities all due to the lack of money. Hence, an increasing number of people are forced out of their homes to live out in their cars or on the streets. Unemployment benefits for individuals last only thirteen weeks. This is really inadequate in today’s times. It takes and individual much longer to find a job, let alone, almost impossible today’s job market to get a job. Yet, the government can find money to fund wars and on other frivolous matters rather than investing on its very own people.

I love happy endings. Please tell if there is any hope in your book?
Kami Jin is Japanese and can be defined two ways. The first meaning is “paper people.” The protagonist, Gordon Sakata, uses this analogy while he is on Earth as he describes the homeless and jobless people in the country as being like discards. Or as he says, “paper plates littering the streets of Los Angeles.” The second meaning is “Godly Person.” After Gordon is kidnapped to the Sierra Nevada Mountains to die, he writes in his diary a series of sermons sharing his insights and solutions to solving the world’s problems of homelessness, poverty and making wars obsolete. When he is rescued by his alien wife, he discovers that he is a prince. After being installed as Emperor of the utopian planet, Xychron, he takes on a “godly-like” persona and returns to Earth to rescue the oppressed from the Earth and take them to another world of hope and prosperity.



As Emperor Gordon is taking the travelers to their new homes on a distant planet, he leaves Earth to ponder several questions to think about for their future:

“As for the people left on Earth, only time will tell if they have learned a lesson. One thing is for certain, when one civilization comes to an end, a new one starts anew. Will the “wheel” recreate itself on Earth once again? Will a new generation of people enslave yet another generation of people? Will the people of earth ever learn its lessons of the past? Or will the status quo remain as generation after generation never breakout of their repetitive lifestyles? Will societies on earth ever progress and advance with time? Will nations still continue to use war, destruction, and killing as an answer and solution to their problems? Yes, as for the people on earth, they too will have a “new campground.” But they are going to have to rebuild without the people who helped build their world, countries, cities, and municipalities. Yes, only time will tell.”
Then at the close of the book, Empress Katherine asks Emperor Gordon a question during a closing dialogue:

“If you had a wish, what would that one wish be?” she asked.
“I only wish that people will never have to live in such terrible living conditions anywhere else in this universe, on any planet again. And that no species ever be held under the bondage of any form of slavery or oppression, no matter what it be called or labeled, not here, nor there, anywhere – never, forever.”
Romance?
Not heavily romantic, but Gordon and Wendy (aka Princess Kathy Kusumatsu) have an affair on Earth and elope to Las Vegas just prior to the break out of a War. They eventually have twins on Earth. When Gordon is taken away to a concentration camp for being suspected as an enemy combatant, he is kidnapped to the mountains nearby to die. Eventually, he is rescued by Wendy, who just so happens to be an alien princess. Coincidentally, Gordon has been wearing a ring, a family heirloom, by which he discovers on Xychron that he is actually a descendant of royalty.

So getting back to your question, “is there any hope in your book?” I would have to say, yes. But, as I said in the book. “The world is going to have to come together as one.” In these times one singular nation cannot achieve peace on its own. Nor can it force its will or its values on other nations by force. Likewise, nations also cannot isolate themselves from the rest of the world. If we are to do anything, it should be done for the benefit of the people of the entire world, not just one nation, state, or municipality. People of the world must be uplifted first, above and before profits.

You created an alien world, and when I wrote Eden (which I thought would be easy because it was a made-up world) I discovered the research to a pretend world was just as complex as if I had been researching Mars. Did you find this?
I really didn’t find this complicated at all. By the time I started writing about this alien world, the characters came to life and pretty much took over control. It was if they were channeling their story and world through me. This was a little spooky and fascinating at the same time!All I imagined what a world like Earth would be like if it didn’t pollute like we do here on Earth. What would a world, similar to Earth, look like in pristine condition? What would the forests look like if they grew hemp to manufacture paper rather than kill trees like we do? Especially when we have not even made a concerted effort to replenish the forrest?

I understand you’ve adapted Kami Jin into a screen play. What did that entail?
Yes, Kami Jin has been adapted into a screenplay. It’s currently 3-hours long and I’m still working on the script. Presently, the script has been entered into a few screenwriting competitions and I won’t know about the results until later this year. But Kami Jin originally started out as a screenplay project. The original title – crossed out in my original screenplay – was called “The Dying Generation.” In fact, the script that wrote it with – and I still have some of the original paper – was produced on a typewriter.
I started the project when I was in college. It was a project that I started while I was learning how to write screenplays through the Writers Guild of America, West here in Los Angeles. Then, I hit the proverbial “brick wall.” I encountered writer’s block and procrastination for many years. Then, as I was recovering from surgery last year, I decided in earnest to write the novel to jump start the screenplay. I published Kami Jin in electronic format in September 2009 through Smashwords and completed the screenplay adaptation in December 2009. In March 2010, I published the novel in trade paperback through Wordclay.

There are plenty of sites for writers needing advice for manuscript layout, how to write a synopsis etc but practically nothing for screen writing. Any advice here?
Yes, there is an excellent book by David Trottier entitled, “The Screenwriter’s Bible.” I recommend this book for beginners and the experienced writer. Also, I highly recommend Final Draft, Inc. “Final Draft 8” Professional Scriptwriting Software. This does a much better job than Microsoft Word and automatically formats your script to industry standards. There is also a place that I like to use as a source for reference materials called the Writers Store here in Los Angeles. They can befound also online at http://www.writerstore.com/. They have books and software on writing for both novel (i.e. fiction) developments as well as screenplays.

My other charitable and environmental effort is a partnership with Eco-Libris. With each paperback book of Kami Jin that is purchased, several trees in the world will be planted with the goal that at least one tree will survive on this planet. In the publishing industry, so many trees are killed for paper pulp. We take, but don’t give back to the environment. Books are placed on shelves and often go to waste. A lot of books are not sold, and then discarded into landfills, not recycled. We need to be smarter and have a greater respect for our environment. This is also why I have decided to self-publish – to have more control of the publishing process. This is also why I encourage my readers to buy the book electronically if all possible. But I am also making the book available through print-on-demand technology, using only enough resources necessary without having to waste paper on books that will not get sold or sit on shelves collecting dust. Yes, I would sincerely love to sell a lot of my artwork, but at the same time, I would also appreciate it if my readers would also join me in appreciating and caring for the environment as well.


What is your ultimate goal in your writing career?
My ultimate goal in writing is to see Kami Jin produced in film, eventually. I really don’t care if it is by a major production or independent company. I probably wouldn’t have cared if it were just an ordinary science fiction novel. But when I finished the book, the story carried a message to the world. For this, I hope the book will be widely read.As a writer, my ultimate goal is to write for the live theatre. I’m thinking about adapting Kami Jin for the theatre eventually.

It is commendable that all proceeds of Kami Jin will go to First Day Homeless Coalition of Whittier, California. Do you do any other charitable projects?

There are many worthwhile charitable institutions for the homeless. But I’ve adopted First Day of Whittier, California not only because some of the book’s story is about the homeless in Whittier, but First Day is not just a typical “soup kitchen.” That is, accommodate homeless people for the night; feed them; turn them out the next morning. First Day has transitional programs to assist the homeless back into the mainstream on society through long-term housing arrangements, job rehabilitation and training, job assistance and follow-up. Essentially, it is a holistic approach to resolving the homeless problems in Whittier.



Are you interested in Astronomy?
Yes, very much so! I’ve been interested in astronomy since I was a child and was given a telescope when I was very young. When I used to go camping and sleep outdoors, I enjoyed starring up towards the heavens and looking at the stars and the constellations.

Unlike today’s scientists, I’m a firm believer that we have and are still being visited by guests from other celestial bodies. There are so many things that the government is hiding – so much secrecy as if we are still living in the Cold War. I think times have changed. Government need to change, be more open and honest. Make the taxes we’re paying more worthwhile.
Absolutley, it's a commendable mindset you have.
You have interesting contests going on where people can sketch their ideas of paper people or, for those (like me) who can’t draw stick men, they can enter one where they can share their own idea of a dream world to win a copy of Kami Jin.
This contest is not just for readers in the United States and Canada, it’s open to the whole world! There is an ounce of an artist in each and every one of you.

Folks, if anyone is interested in winning a copy of this amazing book, Kami Jin, the competiton is running now and ends end of July 2010, so better get cracking!

Thank you Lloyd, for such an insightful interview. I'm sure Kami Jin will do very well. It sounds like such a rich and deep read, and will give its readers something to think about long after they've put the book down.

Places to find Lloyd and buy Kami Jin:

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Buy through the Wordclay Bookstore
E-Book editions in 7 different formats available through Smashwords. Visit Lloyd's Smashwords Profile
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"If you don't have a clear picture of your destination and a precise map to get there,you won't even begin the trip." -- Steven K. Scott, Simple Steps to Impossible Dreams

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Was going to keep this blog as purely for writing...

but am feeling sorry for myself.


I've broke my baby toe! Went out with a group of work friends Saturday night, the friends being in their twenties and me in my, er, slightly older all decided to go on a pub crawl.

I dressed in my new harem jeans and Jane Norman black and silver top and I felt the bee's knees. Anyway, girl from the group approaches me in her figure-hugging dress with legs up to her pits, clear sparkling skin and with bum-checks as tight as a drum and boobs that pointed in the right direction, said I was looking really trendy and wished her mum would dress as trendily.

Hmmm I think that's what they call a back handed compliment.

Anyway, they were a bunch of light-weights and I ended up being the only sober one there. Honestly, a coule of Malibu and cokes and they were all over the place. No stamina these days.

Ended up in a club and I, in my sober stupor, fell down a step and landed funny - although I didn't laugh but that didn't stop everybody else - and my poor used-to-be ignored baby toe took the brunt of my weight and it is duly looking like a burnt chipolata. And the worse thing? The only footwear I can bear on my feet are my neon yellow flurry slippers so a quick trip to the shops for a bar of Cadbury is out. The loan penguin bar isn't real chocolate despite what anyone says!

Please leave sympathy for toe below.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Space Trippers

Meet Aurora Lightbourne the author of the SPACE TRIPPERS series. She grew up in Florida, close to Disney and gives credit to being Micky Mouse's neighbour for her imagination. Practically a newly-wed(married three years), and an avid animal lover: she has cats, dogs, rabbits (plural) and a turtle who is 19 years old! It's really amazing that Aurora has any time for writing let alone guesting on my blog!

Space Trippers is a series consisting of twelve books, is that right?

That is the plan. It may be a little less. It depends on how each one pans out if I have to combine any or not. For now I have 12 outlined.

Are they full novels or short stories?

Well..they are bout 60-80,000 words each. So I guess they are full novels, just short ones. I do not like to read long books myself. 350 pages is my maximum for reading, so I try to keep them about that or less.

And is it necessary to read the first before beginning the second?

I would say yes. I did weave some summaries in the beginnings of the second and third books in case it had been a while since you read Book 1. But everything is set up in Book 1, every one meets and things are set in motion. You would miss a lot if you skipped it. You definitely cannot skip to Book 3, too much is said in Book 3 that you need background for. The books are all episodic, they build on one another to form the whole story.

The age is YA to adult, is that right?

Yes, I have had more adult readers than younger ones, and they loved it. But I leave it to the reader to determine exact things, like peoples ages or heights, because everyone pictures things differently and can shape those details to themselves. I only say who is older or younger, who is taller or shorter.

Also my books have no bad language, sex scenes or drug references, so they are safe for all ages.

I haven’t read a book yet, and I shall have to remedy that soon but they seem similar to Red Dwarf or Hitchhiker's Guide and I wonder if you were a fan of either?

I did watch some Red Dwarf, it was very funny. And I think I have a book or two of it around somewhere. Hitchhikers, yes, I loved those books. Mine are not nearly that zany, he was the master of zany, but they do contain a lot of humor.

Was this where you got your idea for the series?

No, I started off with a character, Valesque. As she formed she told me where she came from, her background, her interests and, since she is a Scientific Engineer, her inventions. The story developed from there as people in her past with bad intentions came up, and her regretted invention 'The Space Tripper' came back to haunt her. Since she was not human having the story in space was a must, as she was too advanced to be a Fantasy race.

Did you intend Space Trippers to become a series?

At first I thought it needed at least 3 books to complete the story, but seemed to need more time to develop. It then played out like an anime series, or TV series, with twelve episodes, each book being a stop on their journey home. It paced it out quite nicely and each stop is a different environment you get to see the characters playing in. So it is fun.

Is the collection of ST completely finished?

No, I have outlines for all the books and snippets of key scenes and conversations. But I am working on 'Book 4: Will Work For Parts' this year, aiming for an early 2011 release.

So, you could be writing Space Trippers ten years from now!

Who knows? If people like it enough we could have more of Valesque, Tim, Sanic, Lola and Merena in another adventure.

What’s after the ST books?

I have 15 or so other stories I have started and would like to finish, some are Sci-Fi, some Fantasy and some Fiction adventure. Right now I am writing another book alongside ST 4. It is what I call a 'steampunk fairytale' kind of a combination between Cinderella and Pride and Prejudice in a steam powered world. It is called “Brass Hearts, a steampunk fairytale”.

Did you write the entire series and then send out to publishers?

No I wrote the first 2 and sent out while working on 3. I think publishers and agents are afraid to try an unknown author with a series, especially a sci-fi series. There have articles lately about Sci-fi being a 'dying' genre, I will be writing my opinions on that at a blog stop on my tour on May 3 I believe.

I ended up going with a small publisher, no advance, no marketing budget, but they believed in me and my story and got me into the Ingram catalog so my books are available for order through bookstores world wide.

This is for writers in waiting, how many rejections did you have for ST?

Haha. Well, let's see I queried at least 25 agents? And hmm..any publisher that took Sci-Fi and unsolicited manuscripts and was turned down by all but one. But you know, if you believe in your story and really want it told you will persist and find a way to get it out there. It may not be under a glamorous 'big brand name' but, at least for me, it isn't about the prestige, it is about being able to tell people a good story and giving them access to it.

I love to write, I love my stories and I want others to be able to read them and love them too.

I read on your blog that the one reason you became a writer was because you weren’t satisfied with how other books ended! I think I can relate to that. Do you read much? And who is your favourite author?

Yes, I was disappointed with more and more books I read. I used to read a LOT. I could finish a 300 page book in a day. I do not have the time to read now, and I also try not to read others works while writing my own, it can change my voice. My favorite authors are Jane Austen, she had a lot of wit, and Douglas Adams, he had such a vivid imagination. I also really enjoyed the Trixie Belden series, but that was more than one author sharing a pen name.

Did you base the character Valesque Rhaugh on a vampire?

Not really, I would say she is more cat-like. But if I describe her as cat-like people will picture her wrong, maybe furry or hunched forward. She resembles what people already picture vampires as looking like, so I use that to get her image in their minds. They have similar physical characteristics, pale, fanged, look a bit frightening at times. But she is not dead and has no desire to bite you for your blood.

I like the sound of Lola, a bimbo android in love. She sounds like a lot of fun to write about. But for you, who was your best character?

You can always count on Lola for comedic relief, and Tim....he comes up with inappropriate things to say at the strangest moments. My favorite to write is Valesque, she has many facets to her, most of them hidden from other people, and she has such a struggle in her as these other characters keep trying to get closer and she has to keep them at a 'safe' distance because of the situation they are not privy to.

Valesque and Tim can fill pages going at each other, Tim with pick-up lines and Valesque with sarcastic put-downs, I can hardly get any storyline done!

Is humour your usual genre?

Not plain humor. I do not have Douglas Adams talent for that. But I do have to include humor in all of my work, it is just me. I can't be serious that long and such funny observations and conversations come to me as I write different scenes.

My first book is a straight romance/science fiction but since I started writing comedy romance I find it difficult to write “straight” now. Do you have that problem?

I don't think I could write a 'serious' book if I tried, it just isn't my personality. I see humor in everything, then I write about it. It is so much fun.

On your website you have games and prizes. Fans can follow you from blog to web and find clues to win prizes. How does this work?

People can join my On-line Book Tour at any time and go back to the first stops long after the posting date listed on my schedule. When they visit my stops and see my interviews or guest blogs they can leave me a question or comment and I will answer it, or just say 'Hi'. If they leave me a comment they are entered in a drawing for an autographed copy of one of my Space Trippers books as well as a custom book-thong themed to one of the Space Trippers characters of their choice.

But they have to leave comments at my stops to be in the drawing.
There's a crossword, too.
Yup, I thought it would be fun to play a game with my followers/friends on twitter/facebook/myspace during my tour as well.

All people have to do is 'friend' me on one of those networks, go to each stop on my tour, leave me a comment and add our secret phrase 'Hey A. Let's Play' and their twitter ID or facebook/myspace link. I will then verify they are one of my network friends and then DM them the clue for that stop.

Sounds like fun.

It is. You can go back to the beginning of my tour at anytime and scroll down to find my posts and leave a comment even weeks after they were posted, that is the joy of an Online Tour.

Each stop has a pre-determined clue on my master sheet, so you have to visit each stop and leave me the secret message to get your clues.

Are there prizes?

Of course. Once the crossword is complete, at the end of my Online Book Tour June 1st, submit your puzzle and you'll be entered in a drawing for a $25 Visa gift card, good anywhere you can spend money.

I think I might try my luck! So, tell us where we can get hold of a copy of Space Trippers.

You can buy Space Trippers Books 1 and 2 together in one volume through any bookstore or online, like Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Books 1-3 are also available in ebook formats including ipad, kindle, sony etc, through ebook retailers like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. All three books will be available as separate paperbacks later this year.

Thank you Aurora Lightbourne, it's been a pleasure. I sincerely hope you sell millions of Space Trippers.If anyone has any other questions for Aurora please get in touch.



Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The all-consuming Inspiration V Writers' Block.

All consuming Inspiration

How do you start a new project? Be it a short story or a 80,000 plus worded novel, you have to start somewhere. And for that you need inspiration.

It can come as sparks of thought during the hours of trying to get to sleep, in the middle of a boring business meeting or even in the aisle of a supermarket.

I've had all three. I've had ideas in most strange places. In fact I get so many I find it hard to keep up with them. Before I'm labelled as 'lucky' most of them are worthless, whereas others get forgotten quickly.

I used to keep a notebook on me, but found it  impossible to use. For instance I could be in a conversation or in my day job whilst treating a patient, and if I flipped open my notebook and began scribbling down my thoughts I'd soon be labelled rude! Not so say unprofessional in my day job.
So, my ideas are stored in my head, and yes I forget them. But notebooks are impractical for me. I bet I've lost some gems of a story though. Do you use a notebook, and how do you get around the impracticalities of writing in it without upsetting or arousing someone's curiosity?

Writers' Block

Then comes the block. The moment where NOTHING is happening. You could have the idea but unable to expand it, or no idea at all.

The more you panic and force your brain to work its magic, the worse it seems to be. Maybe unconsciously or not, you're feeling overwhelmed at the task ahead? Maybe you think this book won't be as good as the previous, or you've received so many rejections already you think what's the point in writing another book? This is anxiety.

The other option is that you're not writing the correct book. You'll know this if you're failing to become excited by your efforts, characters bore you, you find yourself using "fillers" and not getting anywhere with the plot.

Fillers: Resorting to boring description to fill the pages/unnecessary subplots/characters that spring in and out of the story for no apparent reason.

There is no shame in putting that particular book to one side and starting another. Never delete a book or destroy a manuscript. That masterpiece sentence or paragraph, or even chapter, could find a home elsewhere.

And there are loads of books on the subject. Too many for me to mention:

Break Writer's Block Now! (Writer's Library)
Learning Resources Writer's Block (LER3035)Write: 10 Days to Overcome Writer's Block. Period.
Writer's Block Is A Crock: Write A Book In 3 Weeks - Or Less!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

When I Remember Love

Trish Silver has a new novel, "When I Remember Love" is a poignant story that follows two kindred spirits as their lives collide and their passion ignites, leading them to build a life together through circumstances that range from exhilarating and exciting to difficult and frightening.

When Jenna, a young woman who is grieving the loss of her mother, is invited to stay with her aunt in Los Angeles, she has no idea that her life is about to change. It is there that she meets Aidan Price, a young singer who has come to Hollywood to compete on American Star, the immensely popular televised singing competition.

Their connection—physically, romantically, and spiritually—is instant, and together they embark on a journey that tests their love and their commitment to each other.


So if you enjoy Simon Cowell's BBT, Xfactor or American Idol there will be something for you in this book.

Not only has Trish Silver written a fantastic romance, she also offers to "spot light" new authors on her  blog.

Check it out!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Chasing Eliot Ness by Michelle Regan

Chasing Eliot Ness is a romantic thriller set in Chicago in the 1930s. The book pulls the reader through the beginning of the Depression and ends just before the start of World War II, following the characters as they each struggle with external forces and internal conflicts that will have the reader wondering just who the 'good' guys really are. And why does Grace feel she has to protect herself against 'the man who got Al Capone'?

Michelle Regan weaves fiction around real facts around Chicago from the late 1920s to the 30s. It describes the Great Depression along with Al Capone lurking somewhere in the background giving it a real feel of that particular era.

It had received exellent reviews so far. Gangsters and romance. All in all, a really fun book.

If there's one book you want to read, let it be this one.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Authors Promoting Authors

Thought I should mention that I'm on a blog tour. I joined Authors Promoting Authors and barely had a chance to introduce myself when the members upped and left to tour around blogs, promoting their books and telling all and sundry about themselves.

Well, I followed 'em didn't I?

I’m being interviewed by Blog Talk Radio with BK on May 10th. I've already been joined by Fiona Ingram and Jo Davis, and on April 23rd I will be interviewing Auora Lightbourne.

She's the author of science fiction and fantasy Space Trippers, which sound like a rival for Red Dwarf. I think I'm going to enjoy picking her brains. So, if you want to pick them with me join me here on April 23rd!

I'll have little time to draw breath and then Lloyd Kaneko will be appearing on the 30th April. He's a screen writer as well as the author of Kami Jin, and I'll certainly be asking him a lot of questions because that's something I've always been interested in doing.

Please join me and feel free to leave comments.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Jo Davis is here!

 Jo (Jonita) Davis, author of DOMESTICS and non-fiction Michigan City Marinas is on a blog tour.



Domestics chronicles a wounded woman’s struggle to end the suffering of domestic violence. Like Death Wish with Charles Bronson when Bronson avenged the innocent against out-of-control street gangs, Sarah is on a mission to avenge women from brutal men. Her story starts with the murder of her child at the hands of her husband, broken but not destroyed, her journey of vengeance begins.



Smoke is a short story, an antidote after Domestics. It tells of Charlie Daniels wanting something so badly that he’d die for it – a short tale of dark comedy.



I’m sure there are a few questions you’d like to ask Jo as well, but I’ll start us off:



I know that that you began writing Domestics in 2004 with the intent to win a literary competition. What made you decide to turn it into a full length novel? I was a bit disappointed after the competition. My husband suggested that I turn my main character into an assassin-for-hire. It was a creative way to let off steam after the competition, to say the least.

Michigan City Marinas is a local history book, so you obviously have an interest in that area. Will you continue to write non-fiction, or is fiction something you prefer now? I am continuing the non-fiction, actually. Michigan City is a tourist town, so the marina book sold well. I have a contract with the publisher (Arcadia Publishing) for two more history books about the area. Fiction is where I get to “let my hair down,” as the saying goes, but nonfiction has become one of my loves as well.

How much research did you have to do for Domestics? Honestly, there wasn’t an organized research effort. Over the years, I have come in contact with a few people who had been through relationships involving domestic violence. Some of it was a little Lifetime Movie Network overload as well. When writing the story, these things just came together with other memories and experiences to create Domestics.

You own the company Bylines by Jo writing content for websites, ghost blogging, editing website design...the list goes on. You sound very busy. How do you fit your writing in? With a crowbar to my calendar and caffeine in my cup! Just kidding. My writing gets a spot in the schedule like any other project. Like Domestics, I am writing my current novel long hand. So, I can get some pages written while in waiting rooms, taking the kids to the lake or the park, places like that.

I’ve got to ask... what’s ghost blogging? Ghost blogging is like ghost writing. I write blog posts on a regular basis. The client that I write for posts them to his blog, as if he wrote it. It’s a practice that is more prevalent than you’d think.

What are your plans for the future? Any more books in the pipeline? Well, I’ll continue to write. My current work has the working title Carrying On, a comedic mystery. The local history books that I’m working on have working titles Michigan City Park and Michigan City Zoo.

Blurb for Domestics:
"Today there would be no slamming door. Keith's grumbling is silenced. He and Brandy are both dead. Sarah Thomas was sitting alone in the middle of her clean home."



So begins the tale of a broken woman, struggling to move past a history of violence and loss. Soon, a new opportunity drops into her life, along with the promise of a fresh start. But, some new beginnings cannot happen until we let go of the past.



Well, Sarah's past is one that refuses to die. In fact, it is haunting her in the eyes of her new abusive employers. She sees herself in the abused women she meets. Sarah also sees a chance to stop the cycle of violence for good.



Domestics chronicles a wounded woman's struggle to end the silent suffering of domestic violence. She justifies the means by the ends, becoming an assassin in a housekeeper's clothing to avenge the victims.



As Sarah brutally punishes the violent offenders, she becomes a freedom fighter for the abused. However, too late does she realize that she just may be the one who needs liberating.

Smoke (Available as a download)
Have you ever wanted something so badly that you'd die for it? Charlie Daniels does. He just doesn't know it yet.



Smoke throws a nicotine craving into a pot of madness, stir in incompetence, inflated egos and fear, to get one darkly comedic story of a cigarette break, miles up in the blue skies.

Thanks Jo, it's been a pleasure and an honour.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

A disillusioned writer's guide to staying/getting un/published

by Louise Wise


Write your book single spaced, on both sides of the paper with a stand-out font such as the beautiful Curlz MT. If you haven't a computer, don't worry, many agents take manuscripts in longhand - some even prefer it!

Your opening must be full of descriptive prose about a beautiful view or weather. They want to know which way the rain falls and what Buttercup the cow looks like. Don't worry about grammar, typos and spelling. The copy editor will sort all that out for you, and probably be grateful for the work!

Nobody cares how long, or short, your chapters are. Just make sure each one all begins from page one again. Then send in your entire 300,000 worded novel with each chapter carefully stapled and in a plastic wallet. Send it to every agent/publisher address you can find.

Make sure to make your query/cover letter as pompous as you can. Don't forget to tell the agent/publisher how fantastic you are and that Aunt Fanny, Cousin Willy and grandma loved your book.

In the twenty-paged synopsis add in that you're unsure of the genre; that it borders romance, suspense, horror and is a biography of your life. This makes certain you have covered all areas.

Use a brightly coloured envelope and write the agents/publishers address in an equally bold colour to stand out from the rest. Add stickers if desired such as 'greatest author has arrived'.  Wrap the envelope in sellotape to secure. Do NOT use the correct postage.

Don't bother with a SAE either, but telephone everyday until they receive your book. This is where you can then demand payment ASAP.

Be firm, and don't take no for an answer.

If by some strange reason they reject your proposal, be outraged. Write a curt letter, letting them know of your disgust. Tell them they are wrong and demand to see someone senior. If this doesn't work, take the next train down to their office and camp outside until removed by a policeman.

This way they will be certain to know of your 'seriousness' in becoming a writer of romance, suspense, horror and biographies.

Writers unite!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Fiona Ingram

Now, this is a new concept. Children's writer, Fiona Ingram, has turned her website into an interactive journey following her characters, Justin and Adam from her book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab through Egypt on an exciting adventure.

Those who survive the journey and manage to translate the Curse of Thoth will be able to read the first chapter in Adam and Justin’s next adventure—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—as they hunt for the Scroll of the Ancients.

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is a thrilling adventure for two young boys, whose fun trip to Egypt turns into a dangerously exciting quest to uncover an ancient and mysterious secret. A book for children (and adults) aged ten and above.

Fiona Ingram's Blog or email Fiona for a more immediate contact: fiona.ingram@telkomsa.net

Fiona has been a journalist for the last fifteen years, so writing a children’s book—The Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for her two nephews (then 10 and 12), who accompanied her on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into a children’s book and the first in the adventure series Chronicles of the Stone.

Fiona is writing the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans.

I've a few questions myself I'd like to ask:

Have you ever wrote for the adult market?
A few years ago I wrote a Regency Romance because I love Georgette Heyer's Regency Romances. They have to be very detailed and historically accurate because Regency Romance fans are sticklers for detail. I never did much with the manuscript until recently. I submitted it to a new publisher and landed a contract. I had already written most of another regency novel so I hope they will take that as well.

Is more care and attention paid to vocabulary in children's writing than adult?
Without using jaw-breaking vocabulary, writers should filter in challenging words because kids love new words, and (surprise!) love learning new things. They feel more empowered by learning and then using a new word.

Do you sometimes feel you have to be a teacher and teach through your books?
My books are all about history, geography, archaeology, mythology (lots of 'ologies') so the books will always be educational. My heroes go on a series of adventures involving a quest; they delve into new places, discover things about countries and cultures they never knew, and uncover ancient secrets. Kids love anything exciting and mysterious.
The trick is to inform without overloading them with information. Kids who have read the book really love the plot, Egypt, the legends, and the aura of ancient mystery and suspense that pervades the adventure.
I make sure that anything I tell my readers about the place or culture has to be directly related to the plot and what the heroes need to know to survive. That way the information comes across as vital, and not something superfluous.


Most people believe that it is considerably easier to write for children than for adults, has this ever been said to you?
When I began my children's novel I did not know that many people find it hard to write for kids - well, I didn't find it so, but I have read that some writers struggle.
There is always a tendency to 'talk down' to kids, whereas, because kids 'read up' or aspire towards a higher level, the writer should always address kids on a mature level. Never treat them like kids. I always think of my readers as small big people. They are capable of sniffing out a patronising phrase from ten miles away.

Thank you Fiona for your time. It's been a pleasure.
If anybody else has a question for Fiona please put it in the comment box below, and she'll get back to you shortly.