Tuesday, 9 August 2022

An important difference...

... author and friend, Henry Corrigan, visits the bog this week.  Thanks for being here Henry and this space is all yours...

Words such as bleak and oppressive are kind of like kissing cousins. While they might not be directly related, they know each other well enough to have been intimately acquainted on more than one occasion. The reason for this is that bleak tends to describe one’s outlook on a situation, be it cheerless and exceedingly dark. Whereas oppressive tends to describe the situation itself, as something that’s difficult to endure. Given their closeness, it can be easy to assume that the words are interchangeable, and in some cases, they are. But in most cases, and especially fiction, the difference between them is overwhelmingly important, which is a lesson I was forced to learn early on when writing A Man in Pieces.
Earlier today, I was lucky enough to receive a wonderful review from Readers Favorite, and while I’ve read it at least a dozen times, one line still stands out. The reviewer said she “felt enamored by the sweet and heart-warming love” between two of my characters, which is a funny thing for me to consider because there was absolutely nothing sweet or heart-warming in the original version of my novel.
Not long after I finished the first draft, I sent the book out to a number of beta readers and they all said the same thing. They said it was beautiful, but oppressive. There was no break from the unrelenting darkness, it was like being hit over the head with nihilism.
And while I was disappointed by their reactions, (this book was based on my nightmares after all, darkness was what I was going for) it didn’t take me long to realize that they were right. A Man in Pieces was nothing but one bad thing after another. There was no light to be found.
All the things my readers have been enamored with since, the warmth and tenderness, the life and humor, were all things I went back and added in because just like a rollercoaster, it’s the ups which make the downs that much more thrilling. By bringing in the light, I was able to make the darkness hurt that much more.
The difference between bleak and oppressive is as important as the difference between ‘I can’t’ and ‘I can’t stop.’ It’s what prevents a reader from walking away and keeps them thinking about your book long after it ends. A Man in Pieces is bleak, make no mistake. I knew going into this it wouldn’t be for everyone. But much like Edward Van Sloan said shortly after the opening credits of Frankenstein, it would be unkind to present this story without just a word of friendly warning.
There is light here. It is a story about average men with average jobs, struggling to survive and you will find life and warmth and romance and a couple of laugh-your-ass-off moments. But there is also something else here too. And I think you will love how much it hurts you in the end.

about the author…
Henry Corrigan is a bisexual, omnivore author, poet and playwright who writes every kind of story. Whether it’s horror or science fiction, erotica or poetry, high fantasy or children’s books, he writes it all because every story matters to him. They’re what keeps him going. Always an avid reader, Henry started writing poetry in middle school but it wasn’t until he started writing erotica in high school that he really learned the mechanics of writing. What started out as private stories and love letters, soon became publications in anthologies.
To date, he has the rough drafts of two science fiction books, one horror novella, one play, four children’s books, numerous poems and several song lyrics waiting in the wings. Above all, he wants to be known for not staying where he’s been put. To always surprise people, especially himself. Because that’s what makes it fun. The feeling that even he doesn’t know what he’s going to do next.
about the book… Mike Harper would like nothing more than to burn his dead-end job to the ground. But with a wife on bed rest and a son on the way, discovering that the company is downsizing couldn’t come at a worse time. Now, struggling to stay afloat, Mike is forced to fight for the last remaining spot to secure his family’s future. It’s too bad that Tom, his obnoxious boss, is in the same boat.
Tom Downes is a man with few friends and even fewer prospects, but the aging veteran has never gone down without a fight. Now , with his health failing and his marriage falling apart, Tom is willing to do whatever it takes to keep his job.
With a blinding snowstorm closing in, these two desperate men will battle each other on a long and twisted road fraught with heartbreaking losses – and murder.
For when it comes to staying afloat, the American Dream can break anyone…

You can get the book Here

You can follow Henry on his Website on Medium  Amazon Twitter  Facebook and on his Blog

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Please welcome fellow writer, Sheunesu Kasiamhuru....

...to my blog this week. Hello Sheunesu and thanks for making time in your busy schedule to be here today.  I understand you have a new book out about leadership. So tell me more...

Do you ever feel like you don’t know how to be a great leader?

In Sheunesu E Kasiamhuru leadership book The Art of Decisiveness, we are taken on a blast to the past to learn key skills from the Age of Enlightenment through modern greats in order to move towards a brighter future. From the world of theory and philosophy, we will learn the practical applications to help support individuals and businesses on their quests for success in this ever-changing landscape.

The Art of Decisiveness embraces the pillars of belief, health, attention to detail, unity of purpose, first impressions, perception, initiative, merit, and legacy. Through studying the history of great leaders such as Napoleon, Sir Isaac Newton, and modern-day giant Kobe Bryant, the author places us alongside these greats as they discover what it takes to become decisive thought leaders and thinkers. This book urges readers to get off the couch onto the field and then into the boardrooms where decisions are made.

about the author...
Sheunesu E Kasiamhuru-Mutembwa is a Zimbabwean entrepreneur, writer, and a FIFA accredited soccer coach who is a graduate of the University of Pretoria in the discipline of sports management. In addition to this Sheunesu also worked as a field manager for a joint research survey in Zimbabwe organized by the American University and the University of California Davis in 2018. Having sampled many diverse cultures in his numerous travels after his high school education at St Georges College Zimbabwe, Sheunesu combines those experiences with his love for history in his debut philosophy book.

The Art of Decisiveness provides insights into the traits and principles of decisive leadership. He believes in looking back in time to help solve the issues that lay ahead. He loves to travel, hike, climb mountains and support his favorite teams which are Real Madrid, Arsenal, the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Zealand All Blacks. 

You can read an extract from Sheunesu's book here Here and you can get the book on Amazon 

You can follow Sheunesu on his Amazon Author Page on Facebook and on Instagram

Tuesday, 26 July 2022

Please welcome, friend and author, Bart Rice...

... to the blog this week.  Hello Bart and thanks very much for being here today.  Tell me, what is your current release?

BR   On March 31, 2022, my novel, Knights Templar Treasure Found was published on Amazon.
AW   What first got you into writing and why?
BR   I won two poem contests while in grammar school in the U S.  Both poems were submitted by my classroom teacher to the American National Anthology. Realizing that I had a talent for writing, from time to time, I wrote down various portions of both fictional and non-fiction books. During my career as an attorney, I daily drafted a variety of documents. After retiring, certain subjects and stories found their way into my thoughts. I felt compelled to put my pen to paper.
AW   You write action/adventure speculative fiction.  Is it all imagination or do you do research?
BR   My novel, Knights Templar Treasure Found, was first imagined as broad and wide thrilling mysterious saga.  Since real people are mixed in with fictional characters, I conducted research into the lives and surroundings of the real characters. The vast majority of the dialogue and settings in my novel are imagined. I conduced a considerable amount of research into the facts as they were woven into my novel. 
AW  And what about other types of writing?  Have you dabbled with other genres/short stories/poetry/scripts for stage/film/or TV?
BR  I wrote a non-fiction book which was not published. Two other action/adventure speculative fiction manuscripts lie unfinished in my files. I have not pursued other genres / short stories / poetry / scripts for stage / film / or TV.
AW  Famous authors such as Roald Dahl and Dylan Thomas had a special space for writing.  Do you have a writing shed of your own?
BR   I have a dedicated office in my home that is located in our basement.  Thoughts related to my writing and current book issues regularly occur to me during those hours when I am not in my office.  My imagination takes over as I write.
AW   And finally, if you had a whole afternoon to yourself and could choose to spend it with any one individual, living or dead, or a character from a book, who would it be and what would you discuss
BR  One fascinating person I would like to have spent an afternoon with would be Leonardo da Vinci due to his mastery of painting, engineering, and depictions of the human body. I would like to have watched him paint and draw.
Another person I would like to spend a whole afternoon with would be James Patterson and look over his shoulder as he wrote.  His books have sold more than 400 million copies, and he was the first person to sell more than one million e-books.

about the book...
From Bart Rice, the author who received a 4+ star rating from Indie Review, comes the action/adventure speculative historical novel Knights Templar Treasure Found, named by Indie Review as being a Best Review for the Month of June 2022.
Alain Gervers, a youth responsible for inventorying jewels and coins,  ensconced in the gigantic Knights Templar Paris Fortress is forced along other Knights Templars to leave along with their massive fortune for a mysterious destination. The Templars arduous journey toward their destiny is chronicled, complete with obstacles, pitfalls, and successes.
The year 1307 was a momentous time for the then world’s movers and shakers. The extreme religious beliefs and strong territorial passions shown by those from West were directly and violently opposed by their antagonists in the East, the prime motivating factors for the bloody and horrific Crusades fought.
French King Philip IV was shockingly deprived of his planned booty when he arrested the Templars in their beds on the morning of Friday, October 13th, 1307, a day which has lived in infamy through the ages.
Many people throughout history have had a theory or two where the fabulous mysterious missing Knights Templar treasure might be found. Television programs and books have been produced over the years which surmise that the treasure is in Scotland at Roslyn Chapel, in the South of France, Portugal, and even in America somewhere.
Where could the rumored Templar treasure be found? A plausible and colorful scenario is put forth where the Templar great wealth could be located.

about the author... Bart Rice is a retired attorney who lives in Colorado with his wife. A history major in college, Bart is fascinated by all kinds of historical events and sagas, regardless of the country of origin. Knights Templar Treasure Found is his debut novel.

You can get the e-books Here 

Print books can be obtained by contacting Bart Rice by email Here and using the code AW to get a discounted price on each book until August 31st, 2022.

You can follow Bart on his  Amazon Author Page  and on LinkedIn




Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Having just returned from post-covid France...

…I'm reeling a little from how much things have changed and how much they haven't...

My travels this time around have taken me to some favourite places and to a couple of new locations, but, all in and around the regions of Le Grand Est and Bourgogne-Franche Comté.
It was really great to catch up with Dutch friends whilst sitting at the river’s edge in Haute-Marne (see pic right).
They had lived through the pandemic without catching Covid and both looked very well and they had come to France for their usual four months stay.  It was great to just chat, rest and relax while I was there.
On the day I left J— noticed that the GB sticker had been replaced by the newly required UK sticker and asked me why.
“It's because of Brexit,” I said.  “We’re not allowed to be English any more.  We have to be the United Kingdom.” I went on the explain that, despite my heritage, I had always considered myself to be English and, because England is the central section of Great Britain, the GB always seemed to fit better than anything else.
J— pronounced UK as a word which came out as something like ‘ouck’. “In Dutch that means something very small,” he said.
I smiled.  “Perhaps that’s what we are now,” I said.  “A small but not quite so united kingdom!”
Moving on, in the blistering heat, to Bourgogne and I noticed how empty the roads were.  Not just of local vehicles, but British vehicles in particular.  When I thought about it, I realised that the ferry hadn’t been that full, either.  It seemed everyone, apart from the Dutch, was staying at home.
My trips to the supermarkets evidenced something else I had never seen before - empty shelves.  Dijon mustard couldn't be found anywhere.  Sunflower oil was also in very short supply and purchases were restricted to one bottle per customer.  Other related products that use sunflower oil were also similarly absent or restricted.  And it doesn't seem to matter at what time I shop, the supermarkets are pretty much empty, too.  It seems the internet shop has really caught on here through the pandemic and is still persisting.
It takes me about three weeks before I realise that something really fundamental has changed.  It was seeing two ladies meeting in an Intermarché and chatting for almost an hour that brought the realisation home to me.  They clearly knew each other very well, but at meeting, or finally leaving each other they didn’t do La bise, the quintessentially cheek-kissing thing.  It was only as I was stood waiting at the checkout, that I recognised that I hadn't seen anyone doing the cheek-kissing thing, anywhere.  Not in the market, not in the street, not in the supermarket or even on the campsites.  Has the virus killed an ancient piece of French social etiquette forever?
Luckily, some things remain the same.  In the period that I was in Bourgogne I witnessed the surrounding landscape shift from spring green to corn yellow under the relentless sun.  As I moved on to Yonne, I knew that at the beginning of this month, as I was passing through on my way north to catch the ferry home, that the landscape would have changed again - the fields would be shorn, some already ploughed and they would have become a grubby ochre in shade.
But, the wine, the cheese, the fabulous smoked meats and hams, the tarte-au-citron and mille feuille were refreshingly familiar.  As was French humour – check out the pic (above) of a postbox outside a house in Ervy-le Chateau!

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

I'm Off my Beaten Track in Giza...

...today.  Come and join me as I explore the pyramids at Giza again through the jottings in the journal I kept whilst in Egypt...

I woke up early feeling refreshed but, on glancing in the bathroom mirror I found a panda to be staring back at me.  I knew I had slept for some part of the night but I couldn't pinpoint when.  I remembered, seemingly hearing all the traffic but I knew I had woken suddenly from a very deep sleep when the alarm went off.  Perhaps I hadn't slept at all and just imagined that I had!
A punishing schedule today and it begins with a short coach ride through Cairo and across the river and then out into the western desert to Giza...
...I'm astounded to discover that the pyramids are kind-of at the end of the street in a suburb of Cairo.  We drove down a wide road with apartment blocks on one side and suddenly the road started to climb slightly and immediately in front of us were the pyramids.
The coach driver stopped at the local camel park and gave us the option of travelling the short distance to the monuments by camel.  I declined.  Camels don't come with sunshades or air conditioning as standard.  Neither are they properly instructed in the use of deodorant and after shave.  They look so damned imperious, too and the one I was offered was just way too tall!
The pyramids are vast.  Much larger than I had imagined.  And that realisation made it all the more difficult to work out how such a thing was built.  The great pyramid of Cheops was built in about 2600 BC.  Cheops is the ancient Greek name for the  Fourth Dynasty Pharoah Khufu.  His pyramid was constructed of about 2 million blocks of granite each estimated to weigh about 2 1/2 tons.  The exterior of the monument was once covered with polished limestone blocks so that the sides were completely smooth.  Each side faces a compass point and as the sun rose in the sky each day the pyramid would have reflected its light across the funery complex and the desert.  The shape of the pyramid is a copy of the ben - ben stone.  This was a sacred symbol of the sun god at Heliopolis - now the name of a suburb of Cairo.
The second pyramid is that of Chephren - Ancient Egyptian name, Khafre.  Khafre was the brother of Khufu and his successor to the throne of Lower Egypt.  The third and smallest pyramid was built for the Pharoah Menkaure.  The burial chamber in the pyramid of Chephren was our goal.  The descending passage was just over a metre high, it then levelled out into a second passage about 2 metres high for a short distance before shortening again into a tunnel that lead to the chamber.  There was nothing there!  Nothing other than the painted monica of Giovanni Belzoni - the C19th circus strongman who used his knowledge of hydraulics to plunder the larger ancient objects that had been left by smaller less well informed robbers.
The landscape of the Western Desert
Back in the sunshine, which had become almost unbearable searing heat, and I could straighten up and stand and gaze for a moment at the incredible sight before me and take in the landscape of the desert.
How did those ancient Egyptians do it?  Understanding the scale of these monuments showed that the man power involved must have been highly organised and skilled.  To attract such a labour force must mean that they were rewarded for their work either in wages or in kind or both.  Their homes must have been near by otherwise too much time would have been lost in travelling backwards and forwards to visit their families.  Naturally they had a deadline to work to - the pyramid had to be completed in time for the Pharaohs funeral.  Not all Pharaohs reigned for 67 years as Ramses II did.
Next, the solar boats and the sphinx…

You can read more about the city of Cairo Here and there will be more jottings from my Egypt journal next month.

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Please welcome, friend and author, Matt Williams...

...to the blog this week.  Hi, Matt and thanks for making time to be here today.  You have a new book - your very first novel - and I really want to hear more about it...

MJW It’s my debut novel, The Velocity of Blood. It’s a revenge noir, set in California and deals with social media bullying, fat-shaming and a school shooting. My protagonist Jack has done nothing wrong whatsoever, but he’s victimized and bullied until he snaps.
I started writing it in 2020 and signed with darkstroke last year. Obviously the fiction has yet again been overtaken by the awful reality of mass shootings in the US, so a substantial amount of my royalties will be going to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

AW What first got you into writing and why?
MJW I’ve always loved reading stories and especially whodunnits and I loved writing thriller essays when I was a kid, heavily influenced by the likes of Alastair McLean, Jack Higgins and Wilbur Smith.
Fast forward thirty years and I discovered Cambridge University’s part-time Masters in Crime and Thriller Writing and I thought, I *have* to apply for that. So I wrote a twisty short story for my application and that changed my life!

AW You write crime and thriller fiction. Is it all imagination or do you do research?
MJW So much research. The internet makes things much easier than I imagine it used to be, and Google Earth is really helpful. I used it to walk the exact route in Dallas that Jack walks to buy his gun, and I discovered by total chance that he would pass by a 20 foot high art installation of a plastic eyeball!
Likewise, I did a lot of research into gun laws in the United States, as well as an awful lot of deep background on modern-day bullying. Absolutely heartbreaking what teenagers go through nowadays but I wanted to be accurate.

AW And what about other types of writing? Have you dabbled with other genres/short stories/poetry/scripts for stage/film/or TV?
MJW I like short stories because they’re usually twisty and that’s my thing (spoiler alert – Jack does something truly unique and unexpected in The Velocity of Blood). I also find short stories easier as you usually just need the one scene. A full-length novel is much more complicated but more rewarding I think.
I’ve never written specifically for TV, but when I write novels, I’m effectively transcribing the movie that’s playing in my head. Someone clever said radio beats television because the pictures are better and I think the same applies to books.

AW Famous authors such as Roald Dahl and Dylan Thomas had a special space for writing. Do you have a writing shed of your own?
MJW Not a shed, but I write a lot in coffee shops. In fact, the best one in London (Dose in Smithfield Market) are so good they even get thanked in my acknowledgements! The book would not have been written without their truly excellent flat whites!

AW And finally, what do you think your eight-year-old self would think and say about you and what you have achieved today?
MJW I think my eight year old self would be unsurprised that I write crime thrillers but mildly disappointed at the lack of Olympic medals for high jumping (my secret sporty pastime!). My eight year old self would also expect me to be taller!

about the book…Jack Tolleson has done nothing wrong.  Absolutely nothing. But that doesn’t stop him being viciously bullied.  Online and offline.  Twenty-four hours a day.  Every day.

Every.  Single.  Day.

One day in October, dehumanised, forgotten and stripped of his very identity, he breaks.

Jack wants revenge.  Carefully calculated revenge.  Justice.

Jack is willing to do whatever it takes to get even.  He’s going to do something that’s never been done before.  And when he’s done, you’ll remember his name.

You’ll remember his name for the rest of your life.

You can follow Matt on Amazon  Instagram and on Twitter

You can get the book Here

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Friend and author, Sue Barnard...

 ...makes a very welcome return to the blog this week.  Hi Sue, thanks so much for taking time out from your very busy schedule to be here today.  Tell me, what are you working on at the moment...

SB  I’m currently putting the finishing touches to a French edition of my paranormal romance novella Never on Saturday.  It’s set partly in medieval France and partly in present-day North Wales, and is based on an old French legend.  The French edition will be called Jamais le Samedi, and will be released in paperback and Kindle versions this summer.
AW   How interesting.  I will look out for that.  So, what first got you into writing and why?
SB   If you include those compulsory “Composition” exercises at primary school, I guess I’ve been writing, on and off, for most of my life.  But it was only after a life-changing event nearly twenty years ago, when I realised I had a story to tell, that I started taking it more seriously.
AW   You write romance, historical, paranormal and cross-genre fiction.  Is it all imagination or do you do research?
SB   Both.  The stories might come from imagination, but the settings and the facts need to be authentic – so research is essential.  I really enjoy it, but it often leads me down all sorts of internet rabbit-holes.  It’s not unknown for me to suddenly realise that two hours have passed and I haven’t written a word!
AW  And what about other types of writing?  Have you dabbled with other genres or short stories perhaps?  And what about poetry or scripts for stage, film or TV?
SB    Following the aforementioned life-changing event I did several short courses in Creative Writing in its various forms: Fiction, Poetry, Plays, and Creative Non-Fiction.  Since then I’ve written various short stories and poems (one of which, to my eternal surprise, won a major award) and non-fiction articles.  Whilst I’ve never made any further attempts at playwriting, that particular course has proved very useful in creating realistic-sounding dialogue, and also helping me to adhere to the all-important principle of Show Don’t Tell.  As a result, much of my work is dialogue-driven.  As Alice in Wonderland so rightly observed: What is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?
AW  Well Said Alice!  Famous authors such as Roald Dahl and Dylan Thomas had a special space for writing.  Do you have a writing shed of your own?
SB   Not a shed as such, but I do have my own writing spaces.  In the summer it’s a corner of the conservatory with a lovely view of the garden, and in the winter it’s a corner of the front room.  Having said that, as long as I have my trusty laptop I can write almost anywhere, so long as it isn’t the Muse’s day off.
   And finally, if you had a whole afternoon to yourself and could choose to spend it with any one individual, living or dead, or a character from a book, who would it be and what would you discuss?
SB    I think it would have to be Shakespeare, who has been the inspiration for so much of my own writing.  I would ask him how he managed to be so prolific, if he ever suffered from the dreaded Writer’s Block, and also what really happened during his so-called “lost years”.

about the book... Two stories, two heartbreaks: one past, one present...
Leaving her native France and arriving in North Wales as a postgraduate student of History and Folklore, Mel is cautiouly optimistic that she can escape from her troubled past and begin a new and happier life.
She settles into her student accomodation and begins work on her thesis, concentrating particularly on one facsinating manuscript: a compelling and tragic tale of a cursed medieval princess.
Then she meets Ray - charming, down-to-earth and devastatingly handsome.  Within days, Mel's entire world has transformed from lonely and frustrated to loving and fulfilled.
Despite her failure with previous relationships, she allows herself to hope that this time, at last, she can make it work.
But Mel's dreams of happiness are under constant threat.  She is hiding a dark and terrible secret, which Ray - or indeed anybody else - must never discover.

about the author... Sue is a British novelist, editor and award-winning poet who believes that an immaculate house is a sign of a wasted life.  Thus, her house is chaotic but her life is anything but dull.
Her mind is so warped that she has appeared on BBC TV's Only Connect quiz show, and she also compiles questions for BBC Radio 4's fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz.  This once caused one of her sons to describe her as "professionally weird".  The label has stuck.
She speaks French like a Belgian, German like a schoolgirl, and Italian and Portuguese like an Englishwoman abroad.  She is also very interested in family history.  Her own family background is far stranger than any work of fiction.  She would write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.
Sue lives in Cheshire, UK, with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.

Sue also works as an Author and Editor at Darkstroke and Ocelot Press 

You can follow Sue on her Blog and on Facebook Twitter  Instagram  Goodreads  RNA

You can get all her books, including the audio book, The Ghostly Father, on  Amazon