Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Neil Grimmett

JJ is delighted to be welcoming Neil today

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Neil Grimmett has had over eighty five short stories published. In the UK by among others: London Magazine, Stand, Panurge, Iron, Ambit, Postscripts Magazine, Pretext etc. Australia, Quadrant, South Africa, New Contrast. Plus stories in the leading journals of Singapore, India, France, Canada, and the USA, where he has appeared in Fiction, The Yale Review, DoubleTake, The southern Humanities Review, Green Mountains Review, Descant, The Southern Review, West Branch and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. He has appeared online in Blackbird, Plum Ruby Review, Tatlin’s Tower, Web Del Sol, In Posse Review, m.a.g., Word Riot, Blue Moon Review, 3AM, Gangway, Eclectica, The Cortland Review, Segue, The Dublin Quarterly , Ducts, Sugar Mule, Mysterical E, Thuglit and over thirty others. His stories have also appeared in the anthologies: ENGLAND CALLING, BOOK OF VOICES and Italy’s ISBN’s Top International Stories. He has made the storySouth Million Writers Notable Short Story list for the last three years. In addition, he has won the Write On poetry award, 7 Oppenheim John Downes Awards, 5 major British Arts Council Awards, a Royal Society of Authors award and was just awarded a major grant from the Royal Literary Fund.  He has been signed over the last ten years by twelve of the leading literary agents in both the UK and USA. His current agent is Jon Elek at United Agents .

THE HOARD, Neil’s next novel is about to come out on Kindle.

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Welcome Neil,

What was the idea/inspiration for The Threshing Circle?

 The murder of a young English woman who had fallen in love with a Greek Resistance hero and was betrayed to the occupying Germans.

If you could choose to be one of your characters in your book which would you be? and why?

Barba Yiorgos, because he is a complicated, reluctant hero who eventually makes good.

Please tell us about the characters in your book

Kirsty: feisty divorcee who tries to rescue a kidnapped couple. Barba Yiorgos, her reluctant and devious (at first) accomplice. Nikos and his sons: band and evil to the core. And the Cretans with their special take on life.

Was there anything about your protagonist that surprised you?

My characters always end up surprising me. That is how I know when they are alive!

What scene did you most enjoy writing? Why?

The tunnel to the prison. I loved the smell, memory and tension.

What scene was the hardest to write? Why?

The end. Can’t say as it is a spoiler.

Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book were optioned for a movie?

Several reviewers have said Sean Connery for Barba Yiorgos and he would be perfect if still young enough to try! Julianne Moore for Kirsty.

If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be … 

Kirsty, run; Barba Yiorgos, stay hidden; Eleni and Patrick don’t come to Crete. But then there wouldn’t have been a book!

Did you do any research for your book?  What resources did you use?

Orthodox Academy of Crete; Chania Museum and several interviews with Resistance fighters and about everyone who I met during six years on Crete!

What inspired you to write?

Like Faulkner said every time I sit down to write, I am inspired! But also, the short story that came out in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and the fascination with the story I felt.

Do you have a most creative time of day?

Morning before anything or anyone gets in the way!

Who designs your book covers?

Damon Za  for the Kindles and a painter, Louise Yeandle, for my early literary novel, The Bestowing Sun.

How do your characters come into existence?  Do they have a bio?

They grow hair by hair, tooth by tooth until flesh covers bone and they begin to move off the slab  by that spark of life I’ve managed to generate.

What are you working on now?

A new novel about to come out called, THE HOARD. And 300 pages into a supernatural thriller.

Do you have a favourite book? Why?  What is it about that book?

Too many; but recently read again Polar Star by Martin Crutz Smith and was amazed that a writer could take a different culture, place it in an almost alien environment and make it totally credible and so surreal at the same time. Great writing. But so many. Comfort book: Brideshead Revisited.

Do you think movie adaptations do books justice?  Do you have a favourite?

Yes and no. Loved Shutter Island and Mystic River nearly as much as the books. Thought Life of Pi better than the book. Thought Blood Works destroyed a good novel.

What are you reading now? Opinion?

Gone Girl; contrivance but an original one. Dr Sleep; brilliant as King often is.

Are there any tips you could share with self-published writers that have worked well for you or was there something difficult you overcame?  How?

At the moment this is new to me after having had top literary agents for the last decade, but something I have been told many times already by Amazon’s top reviewers is: (a) most of the query letters are so badly written they don’t bother to ask to see the book; and (b) most self-published novels are so bad, they are refusing to read them all! So, just because you can self-publish, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are ready to be read. Work, work and work some more. And remember what King said: To write is human; to edit divine.

What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

My literary credits; the prizes and the recent reviews for THE THRESHING CIRCLE. Plus meeting other writers.

What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?

14 major literary agents signing me; and all the publishers not quite willing to take a risk.

 Finally Neil, what tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

Keep writing; keep reading. Don’t lose the fact it is about the story and your vision. And do not try to write for the market.

Thank you for sharing with us today Neil.

Wishing you success with all your writing projects.

The Threshing CircleD (4)A young couple arrive on Crete and start prying into the execution of a beautiful English woman during the German occupation sixty years before. They enter a labyrinth of betrayals, murder, greed and vendettas, old and new. Then they disappear.

A feisty Scottish lady and an irascible, Zorba-like Greek, form a reluctant allegiance in a desperate attempt to save them. Each has a very different motive for their actions. Their search will take them to hidden rituals and remote gatherings, famous monasteries and villages abandoned after years of vendettas. To the remote island of Gavdos and to a place ‘even the gods do not know exists’.

All the time they are being stalked by the sons of a man who seeks to complete the crimes of his father and sate his own greed. His sons are more animal than human and have been raised in the mountains for the sole purpose of fulfilling his brutal will.

The mystery of Crete runs deep and the novel explores some of the myths and magic while not shying away from its violent history.

By the end choices will have to be made; if such things are possible on a island where many Cretans still believe, ‘The Cycle of Blood’ can never stop flowing.

US Amazon

UK Amazon

Goodreads

 

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Jera’s Jamboree review : Lighthouse Bay by Kimberley Freeman

lighthouse bayPaperback: 400 pages

Publisher: Quercus (21 Nov 2013)

ISBN-10: 1780877269

ISBN-13: 978-1780877266

 

1901: Isabella Winterbourne has suffered the worst loss a woman can know, and can no longer bear her husband nor his oppressive upper-class family. On a voyage between London and Sydney to accompany a priceless gift to the Australian parliament, Isabella is the sole survivor of a shipwreck off the sun-drenched Queensland coast. But in this strange new place, she finds she cannot escape her past quite as easily as she’d hoped.

2011: A woman returns from Paris to her beachside hometown to reconcile with her sister. But she, too, has a past that is hard to escape, and her sister is not in a mood to forgive her. Strange noises at night and activity at the abandoned lighthouse raise her curiosity, and she finds herself investigating a century-old town mystery.

Amazon Paperback  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Goodreads  |

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Beginning in 2011 we get to know more about Libby, her reasons for leaving Paris and her ambivalence in returning to her home of Lighthouse Bay.  She has the deeds to what once used to be the lighthouse keeper’s cottage and this is where she makes her home.

In 1901 we’re with Isabella and husband Arthur on the baroque.  Their arranged marriage is a total mis-match – Arthur is straight laced and ruled by routine while Isabella is quite fey.  Isabella’s strength of character is clear in how she overcomes the depravations as a result of the shipwreck and finds a place in the town.

If you read my reviews you will know I really enjoy the structure of alternating timelines.  In Lighthouse Bay, I loved the length of time we spend in each century. We leave after a major turning point, not knowing the consequences until we’re back in that time.  This is such a page turner as I was quite desperate to find out what was happening!  Each timeline has a different rhythm to the writing too which fits with the era.

I enjoyed the parallels of the two women coming to terms with emotional turmoil as a result of two very different experiences … and the building tensions in the story but for opposite reasons – escape and return.

I also loved that the priceless gift has a totally different beginning in 1901 to that of the treasure in 2011.  I loved the symbol and all that it represented.

Despite being quite a lengthy story, my imagination was engaged at all times.  Reading this during the school holidays allowed me to have quite long reading sessions and I didn’t have to wait too long to be able to pick it up again. A definite bonus!

This is the first book I’ve read from this author and have to admit that I’ve since purchased Wildflower Hill.

Lighthouse Bay is staying on my keeper’s shelf.

Buy it but be loathe to share your copy ... it's a keeper!

Buy it but be loathe to share your copy … it’s a keeper!

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Author Links

Website

Twitter @KimberleyTweets

Author Facebook page

Jera’s Jamboree review : Witch Hunt by Syd Moore

witch huntFormat: Kindle Edition

File Size: 645 KB

Print Length: 422 pages

Publisher: Avon (11 Oct 2012)

ASIN: B007WOC3L6

 

A chilling, haunting ghost story that delves into the dark past of the 16th century Essex witch trials.

Sadie Asquith has been fascinated by the dark past of Essex’s witch hunts for as long as she can remember. And for good reason: between 1560 and 1680, over 500 women were tried for witchcraft in the county of Essex. But as she researches a book on the subject, Sadie experiences strange, ghostly visions. She hears noises at night, a sobbing sound that follows her, and black moths appear from nowhere. It’s as if, by digging up the truth about the witch hunts, she has opened an unearthly connection to the women treated so cruelly and killed centuries before.

And something else in the modern world is after her too: Sadie is sure she’s being followed, her flat is burgled and she finds clues that reveal her own past isn’t all that she believed. Can she find peace for the witches of Essex’s history and can she find a safe path for herself?

For fans of Christopher Ransom and Susan Hill.

So scary you’ll sleep with the lights on…

|  Amazon Paperback  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Goodreads  |

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Witch Hunt was my Halloween read.  Having bought it a year ago, I finally made it in time for this year!

The prologue is obviously a scene from the past.  I wanted to know who is she?  What had she done?  How is she invisible to neighbours?  This really hooked me in.

Another hook for me was how the author makes the reader aware that something of significance had happened in the past.  This definitely made me want to carry on reading because I really wanted to know!

Fabulous scenes at St Botolph’s, Colchester Castle, Manningtree and in the Witchfinder General’s room at the inn 🙂  I have to be honest and say I wasn’t scared.  Fascinated yes, scared no!

I also have to mention when Sadie visits Dan.  I really felt as if my perceptions had been altered.

The flashbacks to the time of the trials were brilliant.  It is obvious Moore has researched thoroughly as they felt authentic.

There was one character that I just wasn’t sure of.  I asked myself, what part was he playing?  I knew it was more than we saw on the surface.  This was a shock when I found out because I just hadn’t worked it out!

Blending fact with fiction, excellent characters and some terrifying scenes, I enjoyed this story with its different threads weaving through, all linking back to the witch trials.

I have to admit I’ve now bought Moore’s debut, The Drowning Pool.  Hope it won’t take me another year!

Buy it and spread the word

Buy it and spread the word

Syd Moore tweets @sydmoore1 and you’ll find her on Facebook.

Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Rae Lori

I’m delighted to be welcoming Rae Lori to Jera’s Jamboree today.

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Romance-Adventure-Mystery is Rae Lori’s motto as she strives to write stories that are romantic yet adventurous no matter what time period and setting. With a love for film, vampires and visual storytelling she couples the visual with art of the written word to tell her stories.

She is an avid reader and viewer of science fiction, romance and fantasy since she was young. Throughout her writing career, she has garnered credits writing movie reviews, fiction and articles on the comic book and film industry. Under various pen names, she has written books, novellas and short stories that run the genre gamut of science fiction, fantasy, short roman noir and paranormal romance and many more waiting to drip onto the page.

Rae makes her home in Phoenix, Arizona where she pens her stories and works as a graphic designer.

Learn more about her work at: http://www.raelori.com

 Blog – http://raelori.blogspot.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RaeLori

Twitter – https://twitter.com/RaeLori

Amazon Author Page

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Welcome Rae!

Do you have a most creative time of day?

I’m usually mostly creative late at night. When the world is sleeping and all is quiet in the city, I feel my imagination come to life with characters and situations that would otherwise be quiet during the day. If I’m under deadline, I can focus enough to write anytime but night time is my preferable writing hour.

Do you have a theme for your book covers?  Who designs them? 

I create my own book covers. I studied media arts and animation and graphic design was part of my curriculum. I learned to wield Photoshop in a way that can help me get the desired cover that would fit my books. They don’t have one overall theme other than emulating the story between the covers in a visual form. I try my hardest to achieve that while making the covers unique.

 Are you a panster or a plotter?

Definitely a pantser. I plot very lightly in my head in that I get an idea for a story through its characters but I don’t do full on plotting because I like the story to grow organically from my head. When I go through rewrites, that’s when I start molding the story into a more finished form with a focus on plot and more characterization.

 What are you working on now?

I have a few in the works but I’ll pick one. 😉 I’m working on a romantic suspense with a lot of action focusing on a female CEO with a cure for diseases. Another larger company wants to buy her out but she refuses and soon becomes the target for a hit. Thankfully our hitman has a conscience and takes matters into his own hands. The book is called On the Cut and I hope readers will enjoy it. I’m also still working on finishing Inheritance of Ashes, the third book in my Ashen Twilight series which I want to be perfect before it hits the market.

 Which authors have influenced your writing?

A few actually! Rod Serling, Alfred Hitchcock and Anne Rice. These writers are just masters at the art of storycrafting and I love how they can weave a story with such interesting characters. They keep an audience captivated and unique in their presentation and they don’t rely on gimmicks. I love that. I try to do the same with my own writing.

Do you have a favourite book? Why?  What is it about that book? 

Definitely! Besides the Bible which is just an amazing historical blueprint for humanity, I love Brave New World. I remember when we started reading it in high school. I hadn’t read anything like it and I marveled at how close to our society the story was, even though it was a satire. It inspired me to write my own sci-fi vision of the future, CimmerianCity, but it also said a lot about humanity’s possible future if we continue on a certain path.

Are there any tips you could share with new writers about self-publishing that have worked well for you or was there something difficult you overcame?

I would say try not to worry about what other people are doing. There is so much talk about marketing and promoting and everything that detracts from writing. Focus on the craft, focus on telling a great story and the rest will follow. Feel free to try different marketing techniques but sometimes it’s just plain ole word of mouth that gets you in front of readers. Social Networking may help here and there but try not to get sucked up so much in it that you forget your writing roots! Overall, have fun with it!

Being a writer can be lonely.  Do you have a support network?

I do indeed! I pop into my writing groups now and then to see how my fellow writers are doing. It’s nice to be able to talk to others who are going through the same thing I am. I tend to disappear at times and take time off to rediscover my love of writing if I get too jaded and during these times I’m enjoying spending time with my new husband and my family. It also helps develop new stories for me that I think readers will enjoy seeing through a different kind of lens.

What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

Seeing my books in their final form. So much time is spent writing, reworking the writing, editing, formatting, etc. that I tend to just hop from one story to the next. I rarely take time to stop and look at what I’ve accomplished and looking back helps me keep from beating myself up too much if I’m not where I want to be! So I love looking at my finished products and seeing my readers enjoy the stories that come out. I also love it when I get a nice compliment from readers who discovered me via recommendations from their friends. I can’t help but squee over that.

What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?

The bad reviews can be kind of tough especially when it’s over something that means a lot to me like the characters. The industry is in flux now and not knowing if readers will like your story can make you a bit batty. But keeping an eye on enjoying what you write and what you also like to read can help because it keeps you passionate about a project even when it’s under the radar!

Use three words to describe the plot of your current WIP.

 Fast, romantic, sexy

Thank you for sharing with my readers today Rae.  I know a lot of authors will identify with your comments about social media and the best/worst part of your writing journey.

Inheritance of Ashes – Coming Soon

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The Comfort of Strangers – Coming Fall 2013

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Jera’s Jamboree : Guest Author Dean Crawford ~ Published Vs Self-Published

It gives me great pleasure to be welcoming Dean Crawford to Jera’s Jamboree today.

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Dean Crawford is a thriller writer based in the United Kingdom. He started writing in 1995, after his hopes of becoming a fighter-pilot in the Royal Air Force were dashed after a medical test revealed a slight flaw in his eyesight. Having been unable to attain one almost-impossible to achieve career, he continued his habit of setting his hopes way too high and decided to try and become a best-selling author. Five novels, four screenplays, over one hundred submissions to literary agents and fifteen years later, he finally achieved his goal and was signed to a powerful literary agency, Luigi Bonomi Associates, and a fantastic publisher, Simon & Schuster.

He is now fortunate enough to be able to write full-time, creating novels that are driven by his passion for high-concept scientific discoveries and fast-paced action adventure.

You can find out more about Dean and his writing journey on his blog and on his website.  He also tweets @DCrawfordBooks.

In 2011 I reviewed Dean’s debut novel, Covenant.  It was a page turner!

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Dean is sharing with us his publishing journey and how he has adapted to the changes in the publishing industry.

Getting published. It seems sometimes as though everybody wants to do it these days, and fortunately for all of us it has literally never been easier due to the unstoppable rise of e-books, predominantly through Kindle Direct Publishing.

When I started writing, in 1995, self-publishing was virtually impossible in any reasonable numbers without a considerable financial investment. It was for this reason that traditional publishing houses held sway over who did and did not get published, for only they could afford the expense of national and international distribution. Fifteen long years later, when I signed my first publishing deal, things had changed considerably and publishing was teetering on the edge of a new era. Now, the publishing game has changed completely.

I have had four novels internationally published in my career so far ( by Simon & Schuster and Touchstone USA ) with a fifth reaching shelves in December. I sold around 100,000 copies in my first year of publication, some of those titles have been Sunday Times best sellers and from time to time I’ve been contacted directly regarding the movie rights to those books by Hollywood film producers. You’d think that I was safe and sound, right? Looking forward to a long and happily published career ahead? The truth is very different. Many authors I have met in my career have since returned to day jobs to pay the bills. Others soon will do. Although I’m still full-time as an author and will be for many years yet, my last major work, EDEN, was sent to publishers on both sides of the Atlantic and was roundly rejected by all of them. My agent, Luigi Bonomi, was stunned. So was I. Had I written a terrible book? Had we made some error of judgement?

As it turned out, no. Major publishers obsessed with contracting their lists to contain only the types of books selling at that time in BIG numbers were not looking for male-orientated action-adventure novels. They were looking for female-orientated, darkly psychological tales: the next Gillian Flynn, or the next 50 Shades. Eden just wasn’t a viable purchase for them at the time.

Left with no sale and a perfectly good book with nowhere to go, I decided to take the plunge and self-publish it instead. I did some research, learned how to convert the novel to HTML, designed a good cover and contacted bloggers for reviews. I figured there was no point in buying advertising, because I wasn’t likely to reach far into the charts given that there are about 750,000 e-books on Amazon UK and over two million in the USA. I had been told by many people that if I self-published I was doomed; traditional publishers won’t like it; sales will be negligible; you’re wasting your time. With a heavy heart I published Eden exclusively to Kindle, hoping that it might sell a few copies here and there, maybe get my name known in a different genre. It might even earn me a few quid if I was super-lucky.

Three months later, it has sold some 10,000 copies and ranked high in the Paid Kindle charts on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching #1 in the Post-Apocalyptic sub-category and seen me feature as one of Amazon.com’s Top 100 authors by sales of my books alone. Simon & Schuster USA liked my success so much they asked if they could advertise their books in the back of Eden. The title is earning enough, all on its own, that I have virtually no cost of living. Moreover, other best-selling authors have discreetly contacted me regarding Eden’s success, asking for advice as they too are embarking on self-publishing careers alongside their traditional contracts.

It’s only fair to point out that with a decent portfolio of traditionally published books behind me I had a better ‘launchpad’ for success than somebody starting out from scratch. However I was and still am utterly stunned by Eden’s sales, so much so that my next title, Holo-Sapiens, ( which is also in a genre deemed unpopular by traditional publishers ) will be self-published too, along with sequels to both novels next year.

The publishing world has changed completely in just a couple of hugely eventful years. Publishers are trying to stem the tide but I think that they need to adapt and embrace the new model or render themselves irrelevant in the future. There are first-time, self-published authors out there who have worked hard to publicise themselves and gone on to sell 100,000 copies of their books in a single year, reaping 70% royalties at the same time. Few traditional advances and publishing deals with their 12.5% royalty rates can compete with that.

Does that mean that in the future I will only self-publish? No. I like working with publishing teams, and the big houses can reach far broader audiences than Amazon, especially in translations and subsidiary deals. But if I write a book that’s considered outside of the current market trend I will self-publish it, because I can’t think of a single good reason not to. Your book’s never off the shelves. It never goes out of print. You can boost publicity for it at will, edit mistakes whenever you want or change the cover if you feel it’s not working well. If it is selling well, you can find it sitting next to BIG NAME authors in various categories or appearing as a “customers also bought this” title, giving a brand new author a huge boost in potential recognition and thus another potential avenue to bigger sales.

It’s still extremely hard to get noticed, and just like traditional publishing a few big names take the lion’s share of the sales while the majority lie in obscurity far down the rankings. But, and it’s a big but, even the authors who have not yet been noticed HAVE been published. They’re there, working their way up the ranks, publishing new books and gaining followers and fans as they go. Some end up being signed to leading literary agents and establishing traditional deals as a result of strong digital sales ( there’s irony for you, eh? ).

Today, self-publishing is no longer just for authors who for whatever reason could not find an agent or a traditional publishing deal. Today, it is a viable place to both begin and build an entire publishing career. And it’s definitely here to stay.

Jera’s Jamboree is hoping that Dean’s experience has given inspiration to all authors who may be struggling at the moment.

Take heart and keep writing!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFormat: Kindle Edition
File Size: 520 KB
Print Length: 346 pages
Publisher: FICTUM Ltd (24 July 2013)
ASIN: B00E5MRF66

If the world fell apart overnight, what would you do to protect your family? When a horrific natural disaster causes the collapse of civilisation and strands Cody Ryan deep inside the Arctic Circle, he is forced to embark upon an impossible journey. Thousands of miles from home in a brutal new world where only the strongest will survive, Cody and his companions must conquer seemingly insurmountable odds in a search for their loved ones, the limits of their own humanity and the rumoured last refuge of mankind… Eden.

|  Amazon Kindle  |  Goodreads  |

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Holo Sapiens is publishing direct to Kindle on Thursday November 28th, 2013

I just love this cover! 

3D human brain from the side over a blue background

Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Julie Ryan

I’m delighted to welcoming Julie Ryan to Jera’s Jamboree today.

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Julie was born and brought up in a mining village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. She graduated with a BA (hons) in French Language and Literature from Hull University. Since then she has lived and worked as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language in France, Greece, Poland and Thailand. She now lives in rural Gloucestershire with her husband, son and a dippy cat with half a tail.  She is so passionate about books that her collection is now threatening to outgrow her house, much to her husband’s annoyance!

“Jenna’s Journey” is her début novel set in Greece, a country to which she has a strong attachment. She is now working on a second novel in the series, “Sophia’s Story.”

Julie is looking for reviewers for Jenna’s Journey.  Find out more after the interview.

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Hi Julie, welcome!

Please summarise your latest book in 20 words or less.

Jenna hopes for a new future by escaping to Greece but discovers her future may not be what she envisaged.

What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?

Initially it was the setting. Having lived in Greece in the 80’s, I found myself every winter imagining an alternate life in warmer climes. Eventually the characters took over and their story had to be written down.

How do your characters come into existence?  Do they have a bio?

It could be a photo of someone on the internet or TV that gets me imagining how they would behave in different scenarios. Before I know it, they’ve gone and done things beyond my control and I have to rein them in a bit. Their bio develops as I go along.

If you could choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why?

I’d like to be Allie. She’s young, intelligent and beautiful with a gorgeous boyfriend.  What’s not to envy?

Do you have a theme for your book covers?  Who designs them?

My covers obviously have a Greek theme as that is where this series is set. I enlisted the aid of Linn at ‘Heartfelt Design’ to do the fiddly bits and I’m delighted with the results.

What inspired you to write?

 Even as a child, I always had my head in a book or was scribbling. Apart from a few short stories though. I’d never written in a serious way until about 18 months ago. Moving to the country and working part time gave me the opportunity to write. The opportunities for self-pub gave me hope that other people may actually enjoy what I’ve written.

Do you have a most creative time of day?

I don’t have a set time of day as I have a six- year old son! Writing has to be done when he’s in school or in bed. Generally though I seem to write better in the mornings. I’m too tired at night!

Are you a panster or a plotter?

The biggest learning curve for me has been wishing that I were able to plot a story in advance. I’ve tried and I can’t, I’m afraid. I seem to need the spontaneity of the book developing a life of it’s own. That means constantly changing the storyline until I’m happy but it does get difficult to remember which version I’m actually working on. I probably have enough material for another book with all the changes I’ve made. I promise myself to be more methodical on the next book but somehow I doubt I’ll be able to.

Have you joined any writing groups? 

I helped set up a book group in my village with a writer friend. The members are very supportive and very good at constructive feedback. We’re hoping to do some writing during our meetings too but so far that hasn’t happened yet.

Do you have a favourite book? Why?  What is it about that book?

‘The Magus’ by John Fowles is brilliantly written. He describes the magic of Greece in a way that I can only aspire to. Somehow he gets beneath the skin of the country and I feel a real affinity with this book.

What is in the future?

I felt such a loss when I finished writing ‘Jenna’s Journey’ that before I knew it, I’d started a second book in the series. It’s not a sequel but some of the same characters are in it and the reader will find out more about some of the under-developed characters in’ Jenna’s Journey’. The working title is ‘Sophia’s Story.’

Thank you for sharing with us today Julie.  Jenna’s Journey sounds a great read.  Wishing you success in all your writing projects.

Jennas journey largeWhen Jenna decides on a whim to go to Greece, she’s trying to escape her failing marriage.  Will Greg let her go so easily though? Can she make a new future for herself and how did she get involved in an antiques smuggling ring? Is fellow holidaymaker Tom all he seems and will it be happy ever after with Nikos? Twenty-five years later some of the questions are finally answered.

A tangled web of intrigue—can Jenna escape her past and find a new future?

Links

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If you’re interested in reviewing Jenna’s Journey, please complete the form below and I will share with the author.

Jera’s Jamboree : Review A Cornish Affair by Liz Fenwick

600_A_CORNISH_AFFAIRPaperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Orion (23 May 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1409142779

ISBN-13: 978-1409142775

Running out on your wedding day never goes down well. When the pressure of her forthcoming marriage becomes too much, Jude bolts from the church, leaving a good man at the altar, her mother in a fury, and the guests with enough gossip to last a year.

Guilty and ashamed, Jude flees to Pengarrock, a crumbling cliff-top mansion in Cornwall, where she takes a job cataloguing the Trevillion family’s extensive library. The house is a welcome escape for Jude, full of history and secrets, but when its new owner arrives, it’s clear that Pengarrock is not beloved by everyone.

As Jude falls under the spell of the house, she learns of a family riddle stemming from a terrible tragedy centuries before, hinting at a lost treasure. And when Pengarrock is put up for sale, it seems that time is running out for the house and for Jude.

|  Amazon Paperback  |  Amazon Kindle  |   A Cornish Affair    |

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We begin at Jude’s wedding to John in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  The wedding is everything her mother wanted and she realises just as she’s about to walk up the aisle that it’s not in fact, what she wants.  Having run, on her return she overhears her parents talking and realises she will always be in her sister’s shadow.

Jude decides to leave for Oxford and godmother Barbara but is only there a short time before the job cataloguing Petroc’s copious papers in Cornwall comes her way.  From this time, alongside the romance is the intrigue and the mystery of the Trevillion gems… and intrigue from the silence of her parents.

We have plenty of conflict in A Cornish Affair.  Jude with her parents; between Jude/the community and Tristran on the sale of Pengarrock; between Tristran and Mark Triggs.  There are some uncomfortable moments for Jude when John visits.  I’m so glad she didn’t give in to sympathy!  Intrigue comes from the sudden silence of Jude’s parents and this is a key to another thread in the story.

The setting is so perfect.  Fenwick’s writing transported me to this Cornish land amongst these Cornish people.

Pengarrock and Manaccan enchant her, allowing her to find and be herself for the first time in her life.  I love a story when our main character ‘finds’ herself and in this story we have two people who find their own way having been on a journey through those childhood scars.

The romance is perfect but what made this book a keeper for me is the underlying mystery (and the family history!) Petroc’s journals felt very real as did the appearance of the portraits and the finding of the sketch book.  I loved that I had no idea how the riddle would come together!

A Cornish Affair is very different to Liz Fenwick’s debut, The Cornish House.  We have a love story, conflict, family relationships and community.  Add in the mix the intrigue and mystery and we have a page turner that has kept me engaged and turning those pages.

Buy it but be loathe to share your copy ... it's a keeper!

Buy it but be loathe to share your copy … it’s a keeper!

I would like to thank the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

You can find Liz Fenwick on her websitetweet with her and find her author page on Facebook.

Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Marianne Wheelaghan

Today I have great pleasure in welcoming Marianne to Jera’s Jamboree:

Photo courtesy of author

Photo courtesy of author

 

Before becoming a writer, Edinburgh-born Marianne Wheelaghan was a croupier, a marketing manager, a chambermaid, a cashier, a Brussels sprouts picker, but mostly she was a teacher. Marianne taught English and Drama in Germany, Spain, the Republic of Kiribati and Papua New Guinea. She also wrote plays. Marianne now lives back in Edinburgh with her family. When she is not writing, she is running her online creative writing school http://www.writingclasses.co.uk, which celebrated ten successful years in 2012.

Twitter @MWheelaghan

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Hi Marianne,

Please summarise your latest book in 20 words or less.

{Food of Ghosts}

DS Louisa Townsend is miles away from home on a remote coral atoll and has a week to find a killer.

Did you do any research for your book or use any resources? Did you travel to any places or undergo any new experiences?

I lived in Tarawa, the setting for my novel, for five years. Tarawa is the capital of the Republic of Kiribati, and a remote coral atoll in the middle  of the Pacific.  South Tarawa was, and still is, on route to nowhere. According to UNWTO, the World Tourism Organization, it is so remote that it is the third least visited country in the world, beaten to second place by Somalia and to first place by Nauru  (another Pacific island country). The island itself is a fifteen kilometre narrow stretch of sand, where nothing grows other than coconut palms, and it sits slap bang in the middle of the tropical Pacific Ocean. At its highest point it is three metres  and width-wise it is approximately five hundred meters.

When I was there I used to teach English. At first I struggled  living in such an  isolated place with  no shops (not as we know them), no cinema, no theatre, no library, no swimming pool, no parks, no gardens, no museums, no TV – and this was before the internet so – no Facebook, no Twitter, no Pinterest, no blogs, no podcasts, no mobile network, no newspapers or magazines – you get the picture I am sure!  However, gradually I grew to love it. it was peaceful and there were some beautiful idyllic beaches and,  most important of all, the people on Tarawa were and are a most generous and hospitable people with a fascinating culture. In a world where everywhere seems so similar it was great to discover such a unique place and people.  When I started writing I knew I would use Tarawa as a setting. Not only did I  want to bring this very unique, little known people and place to life for my readers –  I also thought a remote, isolated desert island was a perfect place to set  a murder.

Your book is part of a series, what is in the future?

Food of Ghosts is the first in a series of  mystery novels  and my WIP is the second DS Townsend novel, set on Tarawa and Fiji!

What inspired you to write?

I always liked telling stories but never thought about taking my writing seriously until my mum died and  I found letters and diaries that related to her early life in Germany – my mum was a Christian German girl, who grew up in Nazi Germany.  Mum never talked about her early life before coming to Scotland, so you could say it had been a mystery to us. What I discovered in the letters and diaries so shocked me I was compelled to write her story, which is my first book The Blue Suitcase. This started me taking my writing seriously and now I can’t stop 😉

Do you have a most creative time of day?

I used to write at night but that was because it was the only time I could squeeze it in but now I am lucky enough for the writing to be my job and so I write during the day. But my most creative time, I believe is first thing in the morning, when my ideas tumble out of my head after  mulling around in my subconscious overnight.

Do you have a favourite place  you go to for inspiration or a favourite activity?

I like writing in the same place at my desk but in between I love walking along beaches or in wide open spaces –  I hate woods as I get claustrophobic.

 Do you have  a book trailer?

I have a book trailer for Food of Ghosts, yes. It was an experiment but I’ve had lot of people tell me  it made them want to buy the book so  we will definitely be doing a trailer for all future books. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZ3gIBStvVQ (intriguing book trailer!)

(We also made a second trailer, just for fun, about shopping on Tarawa because so many people asked about it : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9DjBzCo9Kk(brilliant!)

Have you done any creative writing/writing courses that you would recommend to others?

Writing can be very lonely and scary and I strongly believe  a creative writing course and/or class can help the beginner writer. I really struggled to find an encouraging class and tutor when I started out. For this reason when  I did eventually complete a Masters in Creative Writing, I co-founded the online creative writing school  www.wriitngclasses.co.uk.  We started with two students and one beginner course. We now have six tutors working for us and run six different creative writing courses for all level of writers.

What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

Seeing my novels published and being able to help so many emerging writers develop  their writing skills through the online writing school writingclasses.co.uk

What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?

Keeping going. Writing is a very  lonely job and it’s very competitive. You need to spend as much time on promoting yourself as you do writing and it is easy to become disheartened. But, on the other hand, I am very lucky to be able to work at doing something I love – that makes it all worth while.

What’s on the horizon?

I am also planning a sequel to The Blue Suitcase which will be based on my mother’s life  (and the life of her brothers and sisters). It will cover Mum’s life from when she arrived in Scotland (after the end of the second world war) and will be set in the late forties and fifties.

 Thank you for sharing with us today Marianne.

food of ghosts cover final4Nothing ever happens on Tarawa, a coral atoll in the middle of the Pacific. Then a mutilated body is found in a children’s nursery hut. Detective Sergeant Louisa Townsend from Edinburgh is on the island, helping train local police officers in basic detecting skills. She is asked to find the killer and jumps at the chance to be in charge of her first murder investigation. She marvels at the simplicity of the task ahead – after all, how difficult can it be to find the murderer on a desert island the size of a postage stamp and with only one road? But nothing on Tarawa is what it seems. There is a rumour the victim’s eyes were eaten as part of a macabre, cannibalistic ritual and a second body is found and a third death looks suspicious. With no forensics on Tarawa and no one telling the truth, Louisa begins to worry she’s out of her depth – not to mention the voices in her head have started up again. DS Townsend is an engaging, new female detective from Edinburgh, who is as impetuous as she is ambitious, with an innate sense of justice at her core. Her determination to find the killer is matched only by her struggle to overcome an obsessive compulsive disorder, which threatens to consume her. To read Food of Ghosts is to be taken to Tarawa and be immersed in the crazy sights and sounds of the contradictory island and its people. Food of Ghosts is the first in a series of crime novels featuring DS Louisa Townsend.

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It is 1932, Silesia, Germany, and the eve of Antonia’s 12th birthday. Hitler’s Brownshirts and Red Front Marxists are fighting each other suitcasefinalin the streets. Antonia doesn’t care about the political unrest but it’s all her family argue about. Then Hitler is made Chancellor and order is restored across the country, but not in Antonia’s family. The longer the National Socialists stay in power, the more divided the family becomes with devastating consequences. Unpleasant truths are revealed and terrible lies uncovered. Antonia thinks life can’t get much worse – and then it does. Partly based on a true-life story, Antonia’s gripping diary takes the reader inside the head of an ordinary teenage girl growing up. Her journey into adulthood, however, is anything but ordinary.

Jera’s Jamboree reviews: The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis

The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis

Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Amulet Books (1 Jan 2012)

Language English

ISBN-10: 1419701223

ISBN-13: 978-1419701221

Anna and Abel couldn’t be more different. They are both seventeen and in their last year of school, but while Anna lives in a nice old town house and comes from a well-to-do family, Abel, the school drug dealer, lives in a big, prisonlike tower block at the edge of town. Anna is afraid of him until she realizes that he is caring for his six-year-old sister on his own. Fascinated, Anna follows the two and listens as Abel tells little Micha the story of a tiny queen assailed by dark forces. It’s a beautiful fairy tale that Anna comes to see has a basis in reality. Abel is in real danger of losing Micha to their abusive father and to his own inability to make ends meet. Anna gradually falls in love with Abel, but when his “enemies” begin to turn up dead, she fears she has fallen for a murderer. Has she?

Award-winning author Antonia Michaelis moves in a bold new direction with her latest novel: a dark, haunting, contemporary story that is part mystery, part romance, and part melodrama.

The prologue shows the reader a scene in the woods, which is very poignant.

We’re introduced to Anna’s world –  naïve and still enjoying some childhood activities although best friend Gitta appears more worldly-wise than her.  She is on the edge of changes, which are precipitated by the finding of a doll in the school’s common room.  The doll belongs to Abel Tannatek’s 6 year old sister, Micha.

Anna begins to follow Tannatek – first to the elementary school where she sees him pick up Micha and then to the University restaurant where she eavesdrops on the fairytale he is creating.

Slowly, very slowly, Anna begins to erode the walls Tannatek has built up around himself and Micha. Going against everyone’s warnings, she wraps her own life around his.  She is never sure of the part he plays in the darkness that surrounds them but despite that, her love grows for him. Their romance reminds me of the mythic journey of the Cups in the Tarot.

While Anna is moving closer to him, there is another peer at school who is in love with Anna and secretively follows her everywhere.  When the tragedies happen, this made it difficult to predict whether I should side with Anna in her beliefs or lay the blame elsewhere.

There are plenty of ‘hooks’ in the story.  For example on page 135:

“Later, she would think, what if she had called, if she had talked to him on that Sunday, if she had … but who cares about later?  Later is always too late.”

Written mostly around the season of winter in Germany, the scenes/setting create just the right atmosphere for the darkness of the story.

The writing is really beautiful:

“The ice was smooth and wide, and it lay hidden under the snow like a secret thought.” (page 311)

This is such an unusual story, not only because it is part romance, part mystery and part melodrama but also because the fairytale that Tannatek creates is a reflection of his and Micha’s life.  Rich in symbolism, it is enchanting while at the same time dark and compelling.  It weaves its way through their everyday lives and I was engrossed trying to work out who represented who and the deeper meaning behind the words.

The Storyteller is a poignant story that steals into your heart and gives you hope but then shatters it into splinters, just when you think it will be whole.

Targetted towards the Young Adult audience, I would also suggest for adult readers (because of its literary content and also because of the myth/symbols).

Buy it and spread the word

I won my signed copy of The Storyteller via A&C Kids UK.  You can find them on Facebook  and tweet them.

The Storyteller is available to purchase from:

Amazon paperback £5.24

The Book Depository paperback £5.59

 

You can find out more about the author here.

Jera’s Jamboree reviews: Bundle of Trouble by Diana Orgain

Bundle of Trouble (A Maternal Instincts Mystery)

Format: Kindle Edition

File Size: 563 KB

Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.

Language English

ASIN: B006IGUM6C

First-time mom Kate Connelly is bringing up baby- and bringing down a killer.

Kate Connelly may have found the perfect work-from-home Mommy job: private investigator. After all, the hours are flexible, she can bring the baby along on stake-outs, and if you’re going to be up all night anyway, you might as well solve some crimes. But when a body is pulled from San Francisco Bay that may be her brother-in-law, Kate must crack the case faster than you can say “diaper rash” in order to keep her family together.

Bundle of Trouble is the first in the series ‘Maternal Instincts Mystery’.  The second book is called Motherhood is Murder   and the third, Formula for Murder.

We first get involved at the end of Kate’s pregnancy.  She receives a phone call from the Medical Examiner’s Office.  A body has been found in the bay, her brother-in-law’s possessions have been found at the end of the pier.  Then she goes into labour.

I have to admit that in the beginning I wasn’t caught up in the story and wasn’t sure whether I would continue reading.  I didn’t ‘feel’ the worry Kate and husband Jim were feeling as Kate was in labour.  The short and simple sentences didn’t catch my imagination.  However, as soon as the first death occurred I was caught up in the whirlwind of activity, the intrigue making me click the pages.  In the end, I was so caught up in the action I read it in 24 hours!

The plot is very clever and fast moving and at no point did I guess who the murderer was.  Every time I had a guess, I was wrong.  I loved this.  Alongside this, I was transported back to those first few weeks of having your first baby in your life.  Having Laurie (baby) as part of the story in no way detracts from the plot.  It’s just a part of Kate and Jim’s life.

I also loved the tongue-in-cheek sarcastic humour.  I found this so down-to-earth and it’s an integral part of the whole.

Kate makes To Do lists (a girl after my own heart).  I think this list sums up the story and the humour:

To do:
1. Find Killer
2. Figure out hideous breast pump.
3. Avoid cranky cop.
4. Send out Make birth announcements – need pink paper.
5. FIND KILLER

I would like to thank the author for sending me an e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it and spread the word

You can find out more about the author on her website,  tweet with her or like her author Facebook page.