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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

How to Find Humorous Inspiration

Betty Collier

An editor for a magazine in which I ran an ad to promote my book, Living Inside The Testimony, asked me to come up with “A HOOK” that she could use as the headline for the ad. She said it needed to be something “catchy” that would peak the curiosity of radio and TV producers.

This is what I came up with:

• I Became an Author Overnight, and I Remember the Exact Night it Happened
• How to Become a Best Selling Author Overnight
• When You Live Inside a Testimony, You Can’t See It
• Why Read a Book Written by Someone Who Never Wanted to Write One?
• Is it Luck or is it all Part of THE MASTER’S Plan?
• Is Your Life Part of a Master Plan?

She considered all these suggestions, but after she read the book for herself, this is the headline she created and used for the ad:

Marrying Your High School Sweetheart is Great: Until Your Kids are in High School
Don’t Miss this Woman’s Fun Advice About Life

Having said all this, my point is simply that the book takes on so many different faces. It was written to be inspirational and encouraging, but it offers much more than that. It’s hard to categorize it only in the inspirational genre because it has so many other facets that are neatly tied together to flow very smoothly. The editor said she was definitely inspired, but felt the main thing I had been missing in my promotions was to stress the humorous side of the book also. She thought it was very funny, but also full of life, love, and faith. It has enough variety to appeal to the general population, whether you share my faith or not. If you read the book, you will see that my journey has been inspired by faith, hope, humor, romance, and a lot of love. As one reader told me, "It's like being on a roller coaster. I didn't know what to expect next. I was laughing on one page and crying on the next...This book is a masterpiece!"

Monday, 29 November 2010

Meet Allan Mayer and his book Tasting the Wind

Andrew saw what happened. Eddie saw what happened. But their severe learning disabilities prevent them from communicating what they have seen.
Ten years later, the hospital is destined for closure and Andrew and Eddie move to a bungalow in the community.

Enter Martin Peach, who has come into care work for all the wrong reasons. As if the challenge of helping six severely disabled people settle into a sometimes hostile community is not enough, his new manager, ex-nurse Della Belk, has a deadly secret which links her to the new residents…

Can Martin and his colleagues put together the fragmented clues about Andrew and Eddie’s pasts before one of them becomes the next victim?

Trailer Allan Mayer- Tasting the Wind Chapter 1

This is an amazing offer by Allan. He is prepared to giveaway an ebook of Tasting the Wind for FREE. Tell us Allan, why would you want to do that?

The novel took me ten years to write and I want to give it to you, free of charge…

Attached is a FREE e-book, Tasting the Wind.The paperback would cost you £8.99 on Amazon. Click HERE to see it and to read some excellent reviews.

So why am I giving it away?
There are 3 reasons:

1) We are living in difficult economic times. I want to give you a free read. If you want to check out what it’s about and if it’s any good, click on the link above.

2) Because we live in difficult economic times the powers that be will be looking to cut essential services. ‘Tasting the Wind’ is partly set in a 1980s institution for people with learning disabilities. I want to raise awareness of what life could be like for people with learning disabilities if funding cuts force them to return to institutional styles of living.

3) The profits from the paperback go to Derian House children’s Hospice. If you keep your copy of the e-book I would ask you to give a donation (as much or as little as you like, if you give £1/ $1 and pass this on it could make a million!) to Derian House. You are under no obligation, but if you wish to do so go to: http://www.derianhouse.co.uk/donate.html

Please forward this on to your friends and contacts.
Other links for ‘Tasting the Wind’ :
My blog- http://allanmayer.wordpress.com/
Tasting the Wind Facebook page- http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=56190762166
Do you use Kindle or another electronic reader? Download your free copy of ‘Tasting the Wind’ here:
And finally: although I do not wish to make money from this book, I do have an ego. Please add reviews on Amazon, and join my Facebook page.
Let me know what you think, and how far round the world this has travelled.

Tasting the Wind is a tale of the lives of a group of mental patients who move out of their institution into “care in the community”. You class it as a thriller, can you tell us a little more about its genre?
With ‘Tasting the Wind’ I have perhaps committed the cardinal sin for a new author of writing in mixed genre. It certainly is a thriller, because the whole premise is what happens when two people who can’t communicate what they have seen witness a ‘murder’ and the person responsible is the manager of their care facility?

But it does cross genres. Originally I wrote a novel which aimed to show the reality of the lives of people with learning disabilities and give a realistic account of moving from a long stay hospital into the community.

I soon realised that it had been done before, for instance in the novel ‘Walter’ which was dramatised on the opening night of channel 4.

I decided that I wanted to entertain as well as inform people about a fascinating period of history. I wanted humour in there as the lives of people with learning disabilities, like the lives of everyone else, are a mixture of tragedy and comedy.

Originally the death came half way through and the nurse’s culpability was never discovered. What would happen, I thought, if I moved the death to the prologue?

Life is mixed genre. I believe that fiction should represent that and feel that publishers’ preference for single genre, although it is understandable because that is what the customer wants, is inhibiting.

What gave you the incentive to write this book?
Two reasons. Firstly, I felt that in working in long stay Mental Handicap hospitals in the 1980s I had had a unique experience. I had witnessed things that the majority of the population would never see. If you want to know what I’m talking about have a look at a documentary called ‘The Silent Minority’ which can be seen on ‘YouTube.’

Secondly, ‘Tasting the Wind’ came to me when I had been diagnosed with depression- a diagnosis which later changed to Seasonal Affective Disorder- I needed a longterm project, something to get me through the dark days.

It’s commendable that 50% of your royalties are going to Derian House Children’s Hospice. What is your connection to the hospice?
I’ve never been asked that, but when I think about it there are several. The first is that It’s local, and it gives dying children quality of life. How important is that? But there is more to my connection.

I first heard about Derian in the early 1990s, when it was being set up, at the same time that I was setting up a day service for adults with profound learning disabilities. My service was visited by some very well spoken ladies from the local council who, in a conversation with our Director of Finance, spoke disparagingly of how Derian house had been set up without government funding and would never survive.

I was brought up a socialist, and although professionallity prevented me from speaking, I seethed at their superior and glib attitude. This was about dying children, and why didn’t the government that they so obviously supported (you can fill in the gaps) fund such an essential service?

So since that day I have given to Derian House. I used to do amateur dramatics, and when I had to have my beard shaved off to play an ugly sister I had it sponsored for Derian House.

And guess what? Twenty years on Derian House is still providing an excellent service. Another connection is that Derian doesn’t only provide services for children in their last days. Sometimes children with profound disabilities stay there for respite, and some of those children now use the service I manage as adults.

You can find out more about Derian House at http://www.derianhouse.co.uk/

Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family or by real-life experiences?
The whole of ‘Tasting the Wind’ is inspired by the work I did in the mid eighties in what we used to a ‘Mental Handicap Hospital.’ Most of my characters are a combination of up to four people I have known, but are unique in that the old adage is true- they take on life of their own. Once a character had formed I would put them in a situation and their reactions wrote themselves.

One character who is not a combination is Jamie, who is based on David Heffer, a superb care worker who worked with people with learning disabilities and had so much to offer to the future development of services. The IRA decided that he wouldn’t get to make this contribution when they planted a bomb in a Covent Garden pub.

One of the best outcomes of publishing ‘Tasting the Wind’ was that it led to David’s family contacting me. We spent a lovely weekend together, which I have recorded in my blog.

What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?
That’s a difficult one. Because of the mixture of genres one passage may give the impression that it is a miserable tragedy, another would say ‘slapstick comedy.’ So I’ve chosen the scene where the ‘patients’ finally leave the hospital which has been their home for decades.

By way of explanation: Eddie has coped with his years of institutionalisation by inventing imaginary characters and pets, such as Pansy the dog. Don Maguire is the Hospital Bully. Frankie is a patient that Eddie witnessed being murdered by a nurse ten years previously. Got that? God- here we go:

Eddie’s leave-taking was that of a celebrity: kissing the reception staff, waving to all and sundry and swinging his carrier bag as he passed through a corridor of patients, all chanting 'nee-naw nee naw.' Behind him came Jamie, uncharacteristically red-faced, carrying a large blue suitcase with a red balloon tied to the handle.

'Come on, Pansy, come on boy, we’re escaping.'
'Eddie,' Jamie called as he approached the bus, 'I thought you’d agreed to leave Pansy behind?'

Eddie looked down, his eyes glazing. Then with a beam and a flicker of white tipped tooth he said 'Yes, Pansy, stay here boy, off you go,' as he pretended to throw an invisible stick and watch the dog race back into the hospital.

'Bye Pansy. Be a good dog.'
Eddie squeezed into his seat he held his carrier bag to his chest and, staring at the hospital, muttered, 'mustn't forget Frankie. Must take Frankie with us.'

'But there isn't a Frankie,' said Ruth, 'or are you thinking about Billy?'

Eddie shook his head, as if she was misunderstanding what he was saying and there was no way that he could ever explain.

As Rita and Oscar started to cheer, signifying that the bus was setting off, Eddie stepped for a moment out of his private world and joined in, waving his bag as if it were a flag. With the other hand he was patting the air and talking out of the corner of his mouth: 'Hush boy,' he whispered, 'need you where I'm going, but bark like that and the screws will hear you.'

At the main gate, Don Maguire was leaning against the post. For once he was not wearing his green jacket. Instead he wore jeans and a T-shirt, and was pretending that he was too much of a man to feel the chill of the early spring breeze. Rita turned from him, rubbing her eye.

‘‘E no ma boyfren no more,’ said Rita.
Colin stopped as a tractor went past, giving Oscar a chance to slide open a small window and give the Don his parting message:

'Bye Don. Will you miss me?'
'Fuck off.'
'Hey Don, when I was in the office I saw your records. They say you’ve got the biggest brain in the mental hospital...'

Don’s chest puffed out as he shrugged as if to say 'isn’t that obvious?'
'...And the smallest cock they’ve ever seen.'

As the bus started to pull out of the grounds, Oscar reached into the black bin bag at his feet and held up a green jacket, which he waved like a victor’s banner. A study in rage, Don Maguire shouted obscenities and waved his fists; but there may as well have been an invisible field across the entrance, because he never once stepped out of the grounds. As Don's rage receded into silence, Colin looked in his mirror, watching the hospital grow smaller and smaller, until it disappeared.
They had left.
This is an amazing offer by Allen:

The novel attached to this e-mail took me ten years to write and I want to give it to you, free of charge…

Please forward this to everyone you know.
You should have received this e-mail from me or someone you know. If not, please delete it.
Attached is a FREE e-book, Tasting the wind.
The paperback would cost you £8.99 on Amazon. Click HERE to see it and to read some excellent reviews.
So why am I giving it away?
There are 3 reasons:

1) We are living in difficult economic times. I want to give you a free read. If you want to check out what it’s about and if it’s any good, click on the link above.

2) Because we live in difficult economic times the powers that be will be looking to cut essential services. ‘Tasting the Wind’ is partly set in a 1980s institution for people with learning disabilities. I want to raise awareness of what life could be like for people with learning disabilities if funding cuts force them to return to institutional styles of living.

3) The profits from the paperback go to Derian House children’s Hospice. If you keep your copy of the e-book I would ask you to give a donation (as much or as little as you like, if you give £1/ $1 and pass this on it could make a million!) to Derian House. You are under no obligation, but if you wish to do so go to: http://www.derianhouse.co.uk/donate.html

Please forward this on to your friends and contacts.
Other links for ‘Tasting the Wind’ :
My blog- http://allanmayer.wordpress.com/
Tasting the Wind Facebook page- http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=56190762166
Do you use Kindle or another electronic reader? Download your free copy of ‘Tasting the Wind’ here:
And finally: although I do not wish to make money from this book, I do have an ego. Please add reviews on Amazon, and join my Facebook page.

Let me know what you think, and how far round the world this has travelled,
Allan Mayer

Do you have an agent, or have you gone alone?
I went alone- sort of. I spent ages getting rejection letters, as you do. I wrote to my hero, Dean Koontz, and got a reply which recommended that the new writer should write in a single genre. He acknowledged that he got away from the single genre thing because of who he was, but that the new writer should do that to get a mainstream publisher.

Now I had a problem. I was a new writer, but didn’t believe that Tasting the Wind could be properly presented in a single genre. So I decided to do it myself. I talked to friends who had self-published, but that seemed to be too expensive and too involved. Then someone informed me that YouWriteOn were offering a cheap Print on Demand service.

Did you send Koontz a copy of Tasting the Wind?
No, but it did cross my mind. It was just that his letter said how his brief had advised him never to comment on stuff that was sent to him- you can imagine it can't you- 'Why aren't you publishing my book- Koontz said it was good.' It is well worth writing to him- you get a really thick package back. I got his standard letter, which says that he is busy writing, but the signature is genuine (well worth having I thought.)

Then... there was a messager in ink at the bottom of the page which said: see other letter....
and there was another letter which advised me as a new writer to go for a high concept novel. Thing was, it didn't answer any of my specific questions, so I guess his team have a stock of letters, some for fans and others for writers asking for advice. Nevertheless, I am pleased to have a couple of signatures and feel very happy with the response. He's also got an excellent website, don't know if you've seen it:

Tasting the Wind is published with a POD company YouWriteOn. Were you happy with their service?
There was a lot of criticism of YWO in the early days of their POD service. They had claimed that they could publish 5000 novels in the three months before Christmas 2008. That was never going to happen. Critics from the publishing world claimed that the quality of their publications could not be assured and compared it to vanity press.

For my part, I could accept the shortcomings of the service, but have never had reason to call it a scam. The books are of good quality- admittedly they lack the benefit of professional proof reading- but they don’t fall apart like some of the earlier POD books apparently did. These days, anyone who asks me about the wisdom of using a POD publisher I would direct to my reviews on Amazon UK. The critics say that POD books are only bought by friends and relations. Only two of my reviews come from friends, and most of them are five star. These days we have the internet, and if you learn a few marketing skills you should be able to sell your book beyond your immediate circle.

My only criticism of YWO as a service is that books ordered direct took ages to come- I now order books exclusively from Amazon.uk and use their free delivery option.

Would you do it again?
It would depend. Tasting the Wind was a one off which wouldn’t fit into a category. If I wrote another book I would still go through the traditional route of submitting to agents and publishers. If that failed then yes I would use a POD publisher again. I would rather get my work out to an audience- however small- than leave it sitting on my hard drive.

What marketing have you been doing to help sales?
What marketing haven’t I done? Well not TV and radio yet- although I did wake up one morning to find that an American internet radio station had featured me. I’ve done local papers and magazines, and saturated the internet. (just Google Allan Mayer Tasting the Wind and you’ll see what I mean.)

I spent most of 2009 exploring every avenue of marketing. Take a look at my blog to see the whole list. Some worked, some didn’t.

The most important lesson that I could pass on about marketing of a self-published or POD book is to find your niche audience. I finally found it this year when I did some readings at the Open University. There is a group there which studies the Social History of Learning Disabilities. I so enjoyed doing the readings and afterwards people queued for me to sign copies- a small taste of fame which I will never forget.

(The reading was recorded and will soon be added to the OU website at: http://www.open.ac.uk/hsc/ldsite/conferences_v2.html )

Through the conference I also made some useful contacts in the academic world. Tasting the Wind will be being reviewed in the Briutish Journal of Learning Disabilities in December (one of the biggest journals in the field) and is on reading lists at Manchester University and at Lancashire Adult Learning.

Having said that, I would hope that Tasting the Wind is of interest not only to people in the field of Learning Disability. What I set out to do was open a window into a world that few have seen firsthand.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Tasting the Wind took ten years. Part of that was the need to get it right. It was a labour of love, and a very difficult balancing act . I wanted to present realistic characters with learning disabilities without being patronising or stereotypical. I wanted to get over a ‘message’ without preaching. I also wanted to include humour and was very conscious that handled wrongly it could have looked like I was poking fun or laughing at rather than laughing with the characters.

Which comes first for you – characters or plot?
I can’t think of a simple answer to this one. The original kernel of inspiration was my own experience, therefore at that stage characters and happenings were intertwined. Then I would combine characters and add my own original tweaks until they took on a life of their own. The plot then developed in ways I had not anticipated once these new creations started to interact. So I suppose that the characters do have some sort of primacy, although the relationship between character and plot is probably best described as symbiotic.

The best example of the book ‘writing itself’ is to do with the demise of the villain of the piece. She is based on a real person (who for obvious legal reasons cannot be named.) The real ‘Della’ abused people with learning disabilities, and when this was found out was not punished but ‘promoted out’ of the situation. This was my original ending, but when my wife complained that it was not sufficient (although sadly realistic) I looked at an alternative ending. One leaped out, based on what had gone before, and I can promise you that it is dramatic, appropriate and satisfying.

How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?
Yes. As a child I would write stories and poems. In my teens I had poetry published in local anthologies and used to contribute to readings. A bit scary when you’re fifteen, but it was good experience. I always wanted to write a novel but it was a long time until I felt that I had the right subject. My favourite reading genre was Science Fiction, and I was waiting for a Sci- Fi story to come along. It never did.

Are you working on another book? Possible to have a preview snippet or blurb of that?
I have completed the first draft of a thriller. I have degrees in theology, so have decided to put them to good use in writing a Dan Brown style thriller packed with biblical clues and cultish conspiracy.

For one reason or another I haven’t had time to do much to it recently. I’m hoping to return to it eventually, and the gap will hopefully help me to view it more critically so that I can be merciless in my editing.

I have never been able to show anything to anyone while I’m still working on it. I had been writing Tasting the Wind for many years before my wife even got a glimpse of it. It’s a personal thing.

What I can say is that it involves a theology lecturer (Jack Ellison) who gets involved in a local fundamentalist church where a young girl claims to be demon possessed. Soon he finds himself in life-threatening situations, as do others who are close to him, and each time a biblical clue is left. Are the clues related to the ‘demoniac’ or are they linked to Jack’s former life where he rescued youngsters from cults? It’s a million miles away from ‘Tasting the Wind’ but in my new novel (working title ‘Legion’s Daughter’ I am still writing about ‘what I know.’

What mistakes do you see new writers make?
To me one of the most serious mistakes is not paying enough attention to editing. Once a first draft is complete you may have to slash it by half, completely cutting scenes which you may really like but which do not take the story forward. This takes a lot of honesty, discipline, and understanding of form.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Go in with your eyes open and know why you are writing. Be your own greatest critic- why give someone else the pleasure?

As well as mastering the craft of writing, learn about the world of publishing and book marketing. Get hold of a copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, and visit web resources such as the excellent ‘How Publishing Really Works’ and ‘Absolute Write.’

Another piece of advice which I got from a confidence coach, was to identify your model of excellence. Choose a writer you admire, study their style, find out their beliefs about writing, write to them- meet them if you can (without becoming a nuisance or a stalker!) They did it- so can you.

Above all, enjoy your writing and enjoy the world of writing. Few of us will make a living from it, but all of us can enjoy many of its rewards.


Thursday, 25 November 2010

Lily of the Nile

Stephanie Dray

With her parents dead, the daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony is left at the mercy of her Roman captors. Heir to one empire and prisoner of another, it falls to Princess Selene to save her brothers and reclaim what is rightfully hers…

In the aftermath of Alexandria’s tragic fall, Princess Selene is taken from Egypt, the only home she’s ever known. Along with her two surviving brothers, she’s put on display as a war trophy in Rome. Selene’s captors mock her royalty and drag her through the streets in chains, but on the brink of death, the children are spared as a favor to the emperor’s sister, who takes them to live as hostages in the so-called lamentable embassy of royal orphans…

Now trapped in a Roman court of intrigue that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, Selene can’t hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her flesh. Nor can she stop the emperor from using her for his own political ends. But faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his very own, Selene is determined honor her mother’s lost legacy. The magic of Egypt and Isis remain within her. But can she succeed where her mother failed? And what will it cost her in a political game where the only rule is win or die?

Friday, 19 November 2010

Russell Brooks talking about Pandora's Succession

Where would you hide if you learned the CDC and a major pharmaceutical company unleashed a hyperdeadly microbe on the human race?

CIA operative, Ridley Fox, never stopped hunting his fianc√©e’s killers—a weapons consortium called The Arms of Ares. When an informant leads him to an old bunker outside of Groznyy, Chechnya, Fox is captured, beaten, and left for dead. When the informant rescues him, Fox learns that his capture was no coincidence: someone had set him up—possibly another government agent. Fox barely escapes after learning that Ares has acquired a hyperdeadly microbe—called Pandora—that is believed to have wiped out ancient civilizations. The trail leads Fox to Tokyo where he discovers that people within the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Japanese Intelligence want Pandora for themselves. The only person Fox can trust is a woman from his past who he nearly got killed.

Russell Brooks is a former Indiana Hoosier Track Champion and Canadian Track Team member in the 100 and 200 metres. He has written several essays on his blog The Big Picture, one of which was published in the online Op-Ed section of the National Post in early 2009. He has also written the short story, To The Last Bite, and produced his own poetry/novel-themed show, The Russell Show, on YouTube. He currently lives in Montreal, Quebec.

You can learn more about Russell Brooks at www.russellparkway.com

Pandora’s Succession is now available on Amazon. Just click the picture to the left.

What age group is Pandora's Succession geared towards?
It’s for an adult audience. Many readers and reviewers so far have compared it to The Bourne Identity. Many have also said that it would easily translate to a film.

Into which genre would you say it falls?
It falls within two genres. I marketed it as action/thriller, but some book bloggers have described it as science fiction meets spy novel

Tell us a little about your book?
A CIA operative is assigned to intercept the sale of a hyperdeadly biological weapon only to discover that he’s caught in the middle of a war between various organizations that want the weapon for themselves, even those that work for various Government agencies.

What is your favourite scene?
My favourite scene would have to be the part where Ridley Fox, the CIA operative, meets Dr Nita Parris, a fellow CIA operative under NOC (Non-official Cover) during the mission. Coincidentally she’s also someone from his past that he nearly got killed.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Buckle up for Bobby Nash - Pulp Fiction

VOL. 1
Since 2006, Lance Star and his air aces, the Sky Rangers have thrilled readers with their amazing pulp-inspired adventures. Based on the characters created for the Airship 27/Cornerstone Books Lance Star: Sky Ranger pulp anthologies that can be found at http://www.gopulp.info/ or wherever your favorite pulp fiction is sold.

Airship 27 Productions and Cornerstone Book Publishers take to the skies with the release of their reprint edition of LANCE STAR – SKY RANGER. This collection of new stories starring the long forgotten pulp hero was the first anthology title produced by Airship 27 Prod. dated 2006. Its overwhelming success helped launch the company’s ambitious plans to bring back classic pulp characters in brand new adventures. “Without LANCE STAR – SKY RANGER, there probably would have been no Airship 27 Prod.” claimed Editor Ron Fortier. “It was the book that got us going.”

This anthology features four action packed tales of Lance and his loyal Sky Rangers. They include, Attack of the Birdman by Frank Dirscherl, Where the Sea Meets the Sky by Bobby Nash, Shadows Over Kunlun by Win Scott Eckert and Talons of the Red Condor by Bill Spangler with cover and interior art by comic pro, Rich Woodall of Johnny Raygun fame.

The book also contains an article on the history of the character by Norman Hamilton and a second on airplane modeling in the 1930s and 40s by Larry Marshall. Included as an added bonus feature for this new edition is an excerpt from Bobby Nash’s full length novel, Lance Star – Sky Ranger: Cold Snap, coming soon!

At the height of the pulps’ popularity, flying heroes like Dusty Ayers, G8 & His Battle Aces and Bill Barnes were among the biggest sellers on the market. Airship 27 Prod. once again turns the spotlight on another such aviation daredevil, LANCE STAR – SKY RANGER! Brought to you proudly by Airship 27 Productions, pulp fiction for a new generation!

The Lance Star: Sky Ranger books are available through book distribution channels as well as through stores, on-line retailers, and wherever your favorite pulp fiction is sold.

From his secret lair in the wilds of Bethlehem, Georgia, Bobby Nash writes. He is an author of novels, short stories, and novellas like Evil Ways, Fantastix, Lance Star: Sky Ranger, Domino Lady, Sentinels: Alternate Visions, Full Throttle Space Tales: Space Sirens, A Fistful Of Legends, and the upcoming Green Hornet Casefiles and Secret Agent X among others. He also writes comic books and graphic novels like Life In The Faster Lane, Fuzzy Bunnies From Hell, Demonslayer, Fantastix, Yin Yang, I Am Googol: The Great Invasion, and Lance Star: Sky Ranger, among others. For more information on Bobby Nash please visit him at www.bobbynash.com, http://bobby-nash-news.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/bobbyenash, www.twitter.com/bobbynash, and www.lance-star.com, among other places across the web.


Two years ago, with Volume One, this long forgotten pulp hero returned with a bang in four action packed new stories.

Once again its time to strap in to your seat belts and rev up your props, as Lance Star – Sky Ranger returns with another heaping of all out action, adventure thrills and spills high up in the wild blue yonder. And this time he’s accompanied by a handful of pulpdom’s greatest aviation heroes to include, The Griffon, The Three Mosquitos, and the undisputed Commander of the Clouds, America’s # 1 action ace, Captain Midnight!

Writers Bobby Nash, Van Allen Plexico, Aaron Smith and David Walker pull out all the stops to bring you five pulse pounding tales of brave men and their flying machines as they fight our countries deadliest foes both at home and abroad. Here, for the first time, is the origin of Captain James Charles Albright and the mission from which he would become known forever as Captain Midnight. This volume contains a brief history of all these classic pulp fliers, interior illustrations by Rob Davis and a stunning cover by Shane Evans, Lance Star – Sky Ranger Vol.Two is the high diving collection pulp fans have been waiting for. Brought to you proudly by Airship 27 Productions, pulp fiction for a new generation!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Gary Ponzo and his Touch Of Deceit.

FBI agent Nick Bracco can't stop a Kurdish terrorist from firing missiles at random homes across the country. The police can't stand watch over every household, so Bracco recruits his cousin Tommy to help track down this assassin. Tommy, however, is in the Mafia. Oh yeah, it gets messy fast. As fast as you can turn the pages.

The author of Touch Of Deceit,Gary Ponzo, lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife Jennifer and two children, Jessica and Kyle. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications, including Amazing Journeys Magazine and Potpourri. Two of his short stories have been nominated for the very prestigious Pushcart Prize. His novel, "A Touch of Deceit" won the S.W. Writers Contest, Thriller category.

Gary is currently working on the sequel to, "A Touch of Deceit," as well as continuing to place his short fiction in magazines. When he's not busy trying to find a solution to the problems in the Middle East, he enjoys running, golf and spending time with his family.

Tell us about A Touch of Deceit in a few sentences.
The novel is about a Sicilian FBI agent, Nick Bracco, who heads the counterterrorism division of the Baltimore Field Office. When his family becomes the target of a Kurdish terrorist, he recruits his mafia cousin Tommy to help track down the terrorist. Yes, it gets messy rather fast.

How did you come to write this particular book?
Believe it or not I started this book back in 1999. I was almost halfway through the novel when September 11th happened. I’m from New York originally, so it definitely affected me. Since one of the plot-points of my novel involved a terrorist attempting to blow up the White House I didn’t write a single word for close to a year. I just didn’t have the stomach for it.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Grammar Police

I've always hated bad grammar: it's sloppy, unprofessional and RUDE. Yes, I am offended by poor grammar.

I'm not perfect, I make silly mistakes (don't we all?) but what I'm talking about here is sloppiness, and people who just don't seem to care about the differences in there, their or they're etc. And don't get me started on the apostrophe!

This is a funny clip from Youtube. Are they for hire, do you think?

Disclaimer: Please don't write in telling me my mistakes. I shall completely deny them!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Sarah O'Donoghue's Primortia

Sarah O'Donoghue is here to talk to us about her science-fiction novel, Primortia:

"Primortia: the holy seizure that strikes without warning, the curse that has shaped Hutosan culture and civilisation. After losing her brother to Primortia, Shonoka Lagan devotes her life to studying the phenomenon. Now she believes it can be stopped. With clues from her grandmother's diary, Shonoka begins an adventure that reveals the secrets of her family, her planet, and the ageless stranger with his peculiar green stone..."

Author of Primortia, Sarah O'Donaghue is a UK-based writer with a background in language and science teaching and she is the co-author of Oxford Content and Language Support: Science (2010 Oxford University Press).

She has been living and breathing science fiction for over twenty years. She has been involved in many fandoms from Doctor Who to steampunk but has always wanted to create her own sandbox to play in.

The world of Primortia has been in development for four years and is growing all the time.

The first of the series: Primortia is available to buy - paperback £11.99, download £3.99 from http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/primortia/12918783

I asked Sarah a few questions abut her writing, Primorita and her experience with self-publisher Lulu:

Who, or what, is Primortia?
Primortia is a seizure that strikes some people on the world of Hutosa where most of the book is set. No Hutosan knows what causes it but as the book progresses the reader discovers that nothing about Primortia is what it appears.

Can you tell us a little about it?
A religion has developed around Primortia over the centuries to the point where it defines many of the world's cultures. People who have the seizure are known as Primortians, and it is known to run in families. Once someone has suffered a seizure they're on a countdown to transfer, which Hutosans believe to be death. They are fitted with a Primortian Mark by the monks in their local Primortian Temple and are released on condition that they return just before their transfer. This period of time can vary but it's never more than a few months. The Primortian Temples control Primortians and therefore the fear the general population has of the condition and those who suffer it.

Is Shonoka the main character of the book? What is she about?
Primortia is the story of two women. Shonoka, known to her friends and family as Shony, is on a search to discover what Primortia is. She lost her brother to Primortia when they were children and she has dedicated her life to discovering its secrets. When the novel opens she's an academic, about to enter what she knows will be a loveless marriage, who is starting to work out some of what Primortia is. We meet her at her grandmother's funeral. She was very close to her grandmother, Piany, and Shony starts to learn more about her grandmother through the diaries she left behind. The diaries give her information about Piany's mysterious past and the adventures she got involved with before Shony was born. Shony is inspired to break free from what society expects from her and pursue the truth of Primortia. She gets caught up in a quest she never imagined with a man from her grandmother's past, and finds out that Primortia has consequences far beyond her world.

What era is Primortia set?
Primortia is set across multiple eras and locations but Shony's story unfolds in her world's modern-day which has technology loosely comparable to ours. Hutosa has regular space travel within its own system but people still like to travel by ship. Most cultures have evolved from monarchies to democracies, but religion is dictated by a central order of Primortian monasteries.

How much research did it involve?
The first ideas for Primortia were sparked about five years ago when I had the idea of a woman learning about her grandmother from diaries she'd left behind. From there I started to world-build Hutosa and the other locations and eras within the story. I have always had an interest in science and there is a very important mineral within the novel that became a character itself. I drew on courses I have taken in astronomy and geology to create a source and properties for this mineral which, whilst not exactly true to science, are at least vaguely plausible!

How does it compare with other novels?
I've been reading and involved with science fiction for over twenty years and whilst I love the 'hard' science fiction of Clarke, Verne and Asimov I've always been drawn to science fiction written by women like Marge Piercy and Connie Willis. I love Connie Willis' work, particularly her novel Bellwether. Her books combine romance, science and science fiction in fascinating ways and I've aimed to mix up the genres as she has done.

What audience is the book intended?
Not to sound selfish but I primarily wrote what I wanted most to read! There is very little science fiction with a romantic element out there and I wanted more! Primortia contains space-faring, technologically-based societies, time travel and a brutal war; but it's also the story of two women, one in the present and one in the past, each trying to escape what their society expects of them and to find out the truth about their families. I hope the novel will appeal to anyone who enjoys science fiction for adults.

How long did it take you to write it, and how many drafts?
The actual writing took about two years. The first half was written as my project for NaNoWriMo back in 2006 and then I wrote another story, set in the same universe in 2007/8. It was then that I discovered that the story was actually one continuous novel and spent the next eighteen months in Editing Hell, moulding and enriching the storyline to create what became the finished book. Looking at my hard drive I went through 16 drafts. I really hope I never need quite so many again!

Will you be interested in writing another genre?
Not at the moment. The science fiction and fantasy genres have been my home for over twenty years because they are so rich. I can't remember who said it but I've read that the grand stories of our time can only be contained by an arena as vast as SF/fantasy. Older societies had mythologies and sagas. SF/fantasy is where our battles between heroes and villains, gods and demons are now played out.

Is it going to be part of a series?
I've just started writing the sequel to Primortia, using NaNoWriMo 2010 to kickstart the writing process. Primortia 2 (not the final title!) will answer all the major questions left at the end of Primortia, but there are many other stories to be told within the Primortian universe so it's a place I plan to come back to in future books. I'm aiming for a reader to be able to pick up Primortia 2 and jump right into the story but the books are designed to be read in order.

Do you have a favourite scene in the book? Can we have a snippet?
I think it has to be the scene where Shony first explores a place called the Sundial Garden. I've always loved sundials and their image is woven throughout the novel. Here's a snippet:

One dial appeared to be made of clear glass, raised looping patterns etched onto its matching base, numbers unrecognisable. She was familiar with the Dargan Firescript of another dial, mounted on a base of volcanic rock, pockmarked with chips exposing the voids within the stone. Next to a sundial carved into a large block of horostone, another base was engraved with spirals and swirls. They were ancient carvings, perhaps dating back to the Samana Dynasty. She remembered reading of their ancient priesthood who worshipped the end of the world and, stooping to look at the worn carvings, she could make out crude figures running from a large spiky shape in the sky. An explosion perhaps? Intrigued, she knelt on the grass, her finger tracing the patterns in the crumbling sandstone. From her new position she could see some of the figures were prostrate, perhaps praying, perhaps dying. Then she saw a blurred shape at the centre of the explosion. It was a large, deep rectangle. Age had barely blurred the edges of the shape.

 Are you agented?
No, I'm not agented and I haven't tried to find an agent for Primortia for a number of reasons. Firstly, I know that very few agents will touch Science Fiction, secondly, I want to keep control of my books and finally I see internet publishing as getting more and more powerful year by year. Thanks to the internet I can get my book printed, promoted and distributed right around the world; and thanks to the internet I can interact with readers and writers on every continent.

You published with Lulu. What was your experience with them?
I've been really pleased with Lulu. I did a lot of research before deciding to go self-published, and I did a lot of research before deciding to go with Lulu. I read a lot of other authors' websites to find out about their experiences and in the end Lulu seemed best for me.

Were they expensive?
I haven't given Lulu a penny!

If you hit a problem were they there for you?
So far I haven't hit any problems, but any queries I've had about formatting, distribution etc have been answered on their comprehensive user forums.

Do they help with marketing?
I've opted for their Extended Reach distribution package which has given me a Lulu ISBN and distribution with Amazon (that should be online within the month). Again, all this has been free. I've taken on marketing duties myself, setting up my website www.primortia.com and getting involved in science fiction and writing communities.

Did they typeset the novel?
The option is there but I chose to do this myself. Again, other author pages gave me great advice on formatting the manuscript correctly. I have reasonable IT skills and found typesetting fairly painless.

Did they arrange your bookcover/blurb?
I designed the cover myself and a good friend wrote my blurb.

And finally would you use them again?

Would you call yourself a full time writer?
I'm on a career break from teaching at the moment so, for the next few months at least, I am a full time writer.
Do you have any writing experience?
I've always been immersed in words. My first degree is in English Language and Literature and I taught English as a foreign language for over 10 years. I have taken a couple of short writing courses but I've learned far more about the craft by reading fiction and getting out there and writing my own.

You are the co-author of Oxford Content and Language Support what is this book about, and how much input did you have as a co-author?
OCLS Science came out of my background in science and English Language teaching. I saw there was a gap in the market for books to help second language teenagers get to grips with science topics, so I put a proposal together and approached a number of publishers.
Academic writing is the only area I've found where publishers are willing to look at unsolicited proposals and so I was able to move forward without an agent.
Oxford University Press were interested in my ideas and asked for a science workbook for second language students. I asked a science teacher friend of mine to get involved and we ended up splitting writing duties 50/50: she wrote the science material, I then unpacked the science content through a variety of exercises and sections on grammar, comprehension and vocabulary. I also compiled a chapter on study skills and a glossary to explain complex scientific terms in straightforward English. It's been a fantastic project and it's given me a valuable professional writing credit that I want to build on in the future.


Friday, 5 November 2010

NaNoWriMo - Mercedes Lackey

Article by Mercedes Lackey

I can't think of anything more intimidating than a blank page. Especially the first blank page of a new project. Now, after twenty-mumble years of writing, I have a lot of things to get me past that, one of which is to use the screenplay writing technique of the late Blake Snyder---you can find all of that in his book, Save the Cat! And on the website dedicated to his techniques.

And these things work really, really well if you already have the basic plot idea and the characters and world in your head.

But what if you don't? What if all you have is a plot?

This is where I am going to deviate from practically anyone you have ever heard from, and tell you this: try writing fanfiction.

For those of you who don't know what fanfiction is, it's pretty simple, and I would bet that you have vaguely thought about doing something like it without ever realizing it. It goes like this: you see a movie or read a book or even play a game, something you really love, but when you're done the first thing that pops into your head is "But what if they had done---" or "And then what happened?" or "Gee if there had been a character like this---"

Fanfiction is taking an existing world, and possibly even some of the characters, and writing your own stories in it. And it is a lot less intimidating than making everything else up for yourself (especially when you're talking about fantasy, science fiction, or horror). Now I am not advocating that you do this with the idea of selling the thing, (though more on that later), because that's called plagiarism and it's illegal. And there are writers and publishing companies that don't allow fanfiction to be published in any form, even on the web, so you have to be very careful about that.

But for purposes of practice? It's fun, it's going to give you a giant kick-start, and you would be surprised at how many professionals started out that way (and still do it!). Well just as an example, go have a look at all the Star Trek, Star Wars, and game-based books there are out there. If you reduce things to principles, most of those are fanfiction---fanfiction commissioned by and given the blessing of the publisher, and produced by professionals, yes, but still fanfiction.

And there are those of us professionals that still write fanfiction for fun (although I doubt there are very few who will be as up-front about it as I am). Sometimes it's because someone else's creation got us by the throat and our storytelling demon won't let us go until we get our version down on paper or in pixels. Sometimes it's because it's not the genre we make our bread and butter at. Me, for instance; I got involved with a small group of folks in the City of Heroes superhero MMORPG (http://www.cityofheroes.com/) and we were all driven to write fiction about the characters we played. I did that for a couple of years until an even smaller group of us decided to take those characters, create a new setting for them, and see if we could write some real books around them. That became The Secret World Chronicle, which is in podcast form at the website above, and will be a series of books coming from Baen starting in March. So you can see that what starts out as fanfiction can, once you get your practice in, turn into a real, marketable project!

But the point is you have to get that practice in first---and NaNoWriMo is one of the best forums for that, just as fanfiction can be one of many platforms for you to launch from. If that's the route you want to go, bravo! Let your fanfic flag fly! You’ll be following in the footsteps of a lot of greats, like Marion Zimmer Bradley (who wrote Tolkien fanfic)!

Now get out there and conquer that blank page!

Mercedes Lackey has over eighty books in print, with four being published in 2010 alone. You can learn more about her writing and other work at www.mercedeslackey.com and www.secretworldchronicle.com


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Join the movement to dream bigger and win prizes to help you make your dream a reality.

Parents Have Dreams Too
by Julie Wise
Life and Relationship Coach and Author of Dream Bigger: Reclaiming A Life of Joy and Ease

When your children are born, you imagine a wonderful future for them. Perhaps they’ll be the next Einstein or Michelangelo, or the scientist who finds a cure for cancer. You encourage your children to explore the world, develop their imaginations, and dream big dreams. And you do whatever you can to help them reach those dreams.

What happens to your dreams along the way? If you’re like most parents, you probably set them aside a long time ago, dismissing them as impractical or unrealistic. Perhaps you tried to reach your dream once, only to hit a roadblock and you gave up. Maybe you figure it’s more important to focus on your children now, and you’ll go back to your dream later, once the kids are older, or when you retire.

Children learn from watching and listening to us. If we really want to encourage our children to be all they can be, then we need to walk our talk.

Yes, it is possible to enjoy some of your dreams, raise your children and pay your bills all at the same time. In fact, it’s not as hard as you might think. That’s why I wrote Dream Bigger: Reclaiming a Life of Joy and Ease - to give you the skills and tools you need to make your dreams a reality.

Monday, 1 November 2010

MRS. LIEUTENANT: A Sharon Gold Novel

 Phyllis Zimbler Miller

They had their whole lives to look forward to if only their husbands could survive Vietnam. In the spring of 1970 - right after the Kent State National Guard shootings and President Nixon's two-month incursion into Cambodia - four newly married young women come together at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, when their husbands go on active duty as officers in the U.S. Army. Different as these four women are, they have one thing in common: Their overwhelming fear that, right after these nine weeks of training, their husbands could be shipped out to Vietnam - and they could become war widows. Sharon is a Northern Jewish anti-war protester who fell in love with an ROTC cadet; Kim is a Southern Baptist whose husband is intensely jealous; Donna is a Puerto Rican who grew up in an enlisted man's family; and Wendy is a Southern black whose parents have sheltered her from the brutal reality of racism in America. Read MRS. LIEUTENANT to discover what happens as these women overcome their prejudices, reveal their darkest secrets, and are initiated into their new lives as army officers' wives during the turbulent Vietnam War period.

Is Mrs Lieutenant your debut novel?
“Mrs. Lieutenant” is the only published novel I’ve written. I self-published it at the time that it was named an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semi-finalist. (Many years ago I wrote a series of mystery novels that my agent couldn’t sell.) And I have just self-published “Four Comedy Screenplays” – two of which I wrote with my husband Mitchell R. Miller and two I wrote myself. I self-published in April of 2008 (see http://www.mrslieutenant.com/ ) and I wish I knew then what I know now about social media. This is why I often write book marketing posts -- to help other authors.

Can you tell us a little about Mrs Lieutenant?
The novel is based on the experiences I had as a new Mrs. Lieutenant at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, in the spring of 1970 during the Vietnam War. I’ve mashed together people from that time and other times to create the fictional characters.

Mrs Lieutenant is a fictional story based on a real event – the Vietnam war – yet you proclaim to be anti-war so why write about a war that happened forty years ago?
I am not anti-war; my fictional character Sharon Gold starts out as an anti-war protester. And although she is the novel’s character most like me, I am an active online supporter of our U.S. troops today.

I wrote the novel to preserve a very specific slice of women’s social history at the beginning of the women’s liberation movement in the U.S.

How does it compare with other novels in its genre?
I tried to make my novel very realistic in order to give readers a better understanding of military life. And I told the story from the point of view of four young women in order to avoid a single perspective.