Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Featured Author - Nicholas Boving

Today, I am honored to interview one of my mentors and an author I greatly admire. I have been very lucky to know him personally and to be coached by him. He is the first one I send a draft to if I am unsure about something. He is the one I share writing tips with (he shares most of them of course) and he is the one I talk to about books that frustrate the hell out of me (Gone Girl for example!). In short, Nicholas Boving is one of my favorite authors and more than that, he is my writing guide and teacher. 

Nicholas has worked as a mining engineer, as a docker, fruit inspector and forester. His diversity is evident in his books and screenplays. Nicholas is the author and publisher of the Maxim Gunn series of action/adventure books. He has written fifteen other novels: drama, thriller and action/adventure and several screenplays. 

Nicholas was kind enough to humor me and shared his thoughts about writing and the writing process. I am sure authors out there will benefit from this as much as I think I will:

Why do you write? 

Why do I write? Good question. I just can’t think of anything quite as satisfying even if I never make a dime out of it. Because it’s what I love to do. This is the best reason. Also, living in a fantasy world is rather fun, not to mention playing God.

However, to quote Dr Samuel Johnson. “Sir, no man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money”. Which may seem to contradict the comment above, but let’s face it, not a lot of writers are prepared to invest such a great deal of effort and time on something just for the fun of it.

Which writers inspire you?

More than any others, the ones that were read to me by my grandfather. They shaped my literary forms whether I think so or not. I’m a little older than most of you – make that a lot – so when I mention Rider Haggard, Rudyard Kipling, Conan Doyle and John Buchan, don’t say “Huh?” There’ve been a lot of others along the way, including the late Hammond Innes, who was the master of the thriller in which you get the horror and mechanics of a crime without the comforting guidance of a detective or secret agent: just a protagonist dropped in the middle of a pile of you-know-what, and by luck and sweat gets the better of the baddies. Of course he also gets the girl, which makes the whole thing worthwhile.

Depending on the genre I’m writing in at the moment, the influences of similar writers from the past pop up and are welcomed. Leslie Charteris (The Saint), Sapper (Bulldog Drummond), Dennis Wheatley (occult thrillers). Of course there are many others: too many to list.

Also, the screenwriter and director, Quentin Tarantino said, “I steal from every movie ever made.”  I can also say I probably steal from every book I’ve ever read. There’s always something that catches your eye, something worth saying again in a different way. This is quite natural and I think every writer does it, consciously or otherwise.

I regret that not very many of the modern writers find their way onto my Kindle. I find them too slick and basically implausible. Somewhere along the way thriller writers have lost the art of telling “The rattling good yarn”. I guess that’s my loss, but it’s also a loss to the new generation of reading public. I love sci-fi, but it’s got to be good.

What is your favourite book and why?

Oh Lord. This is an unanswerable question. There are so many I go back to from time to time. You can however scrub any of the recent ones – I’m talking more from a man’s point of view – as so many of them have just climbed onto some bandwagon that involves vampires, zombies, fantasy worlds or peculiar religious sects out for control. No names, no pack drill, but you know who I mean. However, if pressed I’d say I still go back to the works of John Buchan, leavened with Kipling, and a sprinkling of Winnie the Pooh. At least my tastes are eclectic.

What do you think is the easiest thing about writing? What is the most difficult?

Thinking up new stories. I don’t know about others, but my imagination well never runs dry. I once had something to say about that, to the effect that those who complain about writers block generally don’t have enough imagination, or else they were lazy.

The most difficult part for me is editing. Some writers enjoy the process: I hate it. Once upon a time editing was done by professionals employed by publishers: these days the poor writers are expected to do it themselves. Content editing, copy editing, line editing. I confess that by the time one of my novels is ready for the Amazon Mill, I’m sick of the sight of it.

From books that have already been published by other authors, which book do you wish you had written? 

That’s easy. None of them. Being a writer I find it all too easy to take a so-called classic and pick it to pieces. It’s a terrible habit, but I can’t get out of it. I see a turn of phrase by one of the world’s literary icons and think, “Why in God’s name did he say that?” Which is probably why so many great writers never read their work again after it’s been published.

How do you market your books? 

All the usual ways I suppose. Social Media – I have Facebook pages dedicated to books I’ve written and try to keep them up to date. Twitter, of course, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and my own website. However, to paraphrase a well-known businessman, “I know half the effort I spent on advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half.” And, there are supposed to be three secrets to selling, only no one knows what they are.

One thing I have found out is that you should give very careful consideration to your titles. You really need to make them not only memorable and apposite, but so they’ll stand out on search engines. I called one of my books “The Warlock”.  Huge mistake although it sounds good if you’re looking for that “kind of book”. It gets over 5,000 possibles on Amazon. But it just doesn’t stand out. Now, “The Malthorpe Slaughterhouse” gets just one: the right one.

Any new release? If yes, what is it about?

Yes. I’ve got another thriller with an occult flavour coming out shortly. It’s called “The Dark Side of God”, which should give a bit of a hint. As soon as the cover is finished by my multi-talented son, it’ll be going up on CreateSpace and Amazon, so watch out and keep those Kindles running hot. Better still, snuggle up with the paperback.

Book blurb

David Morgan, an investigative journalist researching the dissolution of an ancient abbey is fascinated by a sidebar to what he sees as just another piece he can uncover and sell to the highest bidder.

Sylvanus Falconi owns the land around the Abbey of St Mary Zion and is the last in a family line that stretches back to a Roman Centurion, Gaius Sylvanus Falconius, who witnessed the Crucifixion. He is the final guardian of a dark and explosive secret called simply, “The Keeping”.

The story is a deadly chess game between Falconi and Morgan culminating in battle on the Downs of Sussex and a final act of unbelievable destruction.

The Dark Side of God” is part biographical exploration, part love story and part exposé of the Falconi family’s long-guarded secret in a world of darkness and the occult.

Book excerpt  - Just to set the mood.


Twenty years does not wash away memory. The best it can do is impose a patina that blurs horror, making those things we would rather forget more acceptable, allowing us to look at the past with a more dispassionate eye. The passage of time creates its own objectivity, and we can view events in the light of cause and effect.
At the time I hated Falconi with an intensity bordering on the murderous, but even that had dulled with the years, until in a way I felt I could find some small understanding of the forces which drove him. His actions could never be condoned, never excused. They were beyond forgiveness, perhaps even by God, but could be put into a perspective from which the historical causes leading to his obsession could be understood.
Two thousand years is a long time. Centuries of tradition cannot be wiped away by reasoning, for obsession knows no reason, how can it, or it would not be obsession. But obsession always extracts a terrible price, and part of that price stood before me in ruins.
There was little left of the house but a misshapen pile of rubble, the blind, empty window frames of the shell of the Great Hall, and a scattered jumble of fire-blackened beams pointing skyward, like the accusing fingers of a long-buried corpse exposed by time and erosion. But nothing would ever erase the memories.
As I stood on the once immaculate, but now weed-choked gravel drive, the winter sunset fought a last ditch attempt with low grey cloud, scudding cold and wet across the tops of the hills behind, a futile rearguard action against approaching night. And rain, a memory of another time, dripped sullenly from the bare elms, darkening stark branches and slicking the trunks with reflected red like lifeblood oozing from a severed artery.
Two thousand years of inheritance gone, blasted from existence in a holocaust of leaping flame and smoke one wild, storm-wracked night, leaving no one to mourn its passing. All that remained was inarticulate brick, the harsh lines of which nature had long since softened with its widow’s weeds of growth.
I turned to look across to where the lawns had been, the sunken garden beyond, and saw instead of velvety green mown perfection and groomed flower beds with roses winter-pruned, weedless with new-tilled earth, stands of nettles sagging in winter death, and the long octopus tendrils of brambles rearing against the sky, silhouetted, hydra-like, ready to sprout more arms as soon as each was cut. The great house’s tended grounds had become the home of rabbit and badger, stoat and adder, each defending territory as fiercely as the Falconis had defended theirs.
As I approached the broken, moss-greened walls, ivy and wisteria grown rank and wild, my feet crunched on broken glass, exploded by the heat of fire, and looking down as one does when treading on the unknown, caught a flicker of blue and green, and bent to pick it up. My hand held a fragment of a stained window, algae-sheened but still recognizable.
Memory flooded back unbidden to the time when I had first seen it with the red of another setting sun shining through, and it seemed Falconi’s face loomed in the early evening murk, dark and sardonic, the eyes filled with the old overweening arrogance. I threw the glass fragment away, hearing it tinkle and shatter against the bricks, and the conjured face disappeared, its spell broken by my simple angry action. Above my head in the bare elms, rooks cawed and wheeled, their long possessive peace disturbed, resenting the intrusion.
Gingerly avoiding a rambling rose, once a glory but now a trap reminiscent of a magical, fairy tale forest, its long-thorned tendrils reaching out to snare the unwary, I walked up the front steps and entered what had been the hall. Nothing remained but blackened brick, slab-flaked plaster, and fire-charred panelling. Gone were the paintings, the great oak sideboard with its silver salver and towering vase of hothouse flowers, while underfoot, the Bakhtiyari carpet, sad rotted threads remaining, brilliant colours long since faded, squelched, a sodden rag no more exciting than a flooring of grain sacks. And still, over all, even after twenty years, the sharp, acrid tang of long dead fire and ash remained, a vivid reminder of that bitter winter night.
And in the way memory has, my mind reeled back its film to replay the last moments, recapturing the sights and sounds as clearly as if they had happened mere days before.
Red flame behind the great hall windows, leaping like the fires of hell to claw the long damask curtains with greedy talons, and the roar like an express train in a tunnel as it created its own firestorm.
Something had crashed, a ceiling perhaps, an avalanche of noise, and glass broke, exploding like Chinese crackers, windows blown out onto the frost-covered lawn, strewing it with a million sparkling, coloured stars. And a monkey puzzle tree, Araucaria imbricata, had burst into flame like a gigantic torch, throwing its lurid light high into the great elms till they seemed long-limbed, gnarled-fingered, menacing, witch-spelled shapes, leaping and twitching in an insane dance.
Fire engines came from far off, called by I never knew who, but too late, their red strobe lights flashing, firemen like demons, running, shouting, water pouring, steam exploding, unable to make more than a token attempt against the blaze with the house already in its death grip.
The roof collapsed, a rumbling crash that sent all running with shouts of fear, and sparks, more than all the stars in the heavens, leapt skywards in a great galactic cloud, and the flowers of flame followed, soaring, roaring, gigantic tongues beyond any feeble attempt to control.
Blue lights, police cars. More red lights, ambulances. Long snaking lines of hoses, water pouring. Uniforms, locals hastily dressed and rushing to help, cars blocking the drive until the police ordered them away. And through it all, with a face like stone and eyes empty as death, Philippa had stood at my side, hands thrust deep into the pockets of her coat.
Then, miraculously, Sylvanus Falconi, the last of his line, a sagging, lifeless body, was dragged from the west wing by two yellow-coated men, themselves choking, staggering and near to death. It had been an heroic but futile act of unimaginable bravery. Only then did Philippa show emotion, and I felt her stiffen and heard a sound that might have been a stifled cry of pain, or fear.
For a moment it was so depressing I nearly walked out, intending to consign the whole thing to the finger-written past; but having come that far, sidetracked thirty or more miles in miserable weather, I had to check, to just make sure for my own peace of mind that the past was indeed dead, and that meant going up the hill to the old ruined abbey, the genesis of all the troubles.
Skirting the house on the west side, wary of going through though it seemed still safe enough, I pushed through thickets of leafless feral lilac; sad, starved-looking hydrangeas, and waist-high brown grass, and found myself at the gate of the old kitchen garden, and the path which led to the Down above, through the yew forest, so ancient it was mentioned as a resource in the Doomsday Book.
Nothing of that beautiful tended plot remained, except the long tumuli of the asparagus beds, run wild, last season’s stalks towering and dry-seeded; and against the walls, the twenty-year unpruned, espaliered branches of medlars and a fig, so overgrown it might have been twining its limbs through the broken stonework of some derelict Indian temple. The greenhouses at the far end, once the pride of Puddyfoot the gardener, whose name came back to me from the past with a small jolt, broken-paned and staring, the remaining glass half obscured by a creeping tide of grey green algae. Hothouse grapes in winter, fresh peaches when snow lay on the ground, and cut flowers brought in daily as winter’s winds knifed down from the high ground above.
Lost and gone. Nothing could ever bring it back, not even the cunning hand of man, because the place had an aura of defeat that would have cancelled the best intents; and no amount of money, not even that of some new-minted Croesus could ever make it, and the house, into more than a resurrected ruin overhung by the miasma of its dark past.
The iron gate creaked open on rusted hinges, and some small creature rustled, panic-stricken by the intrusion. I walked along the path dividing the weed-reclaimed beds, itself uneven; the mellow bricks lifted and parted by clumps of rank grass, passed the hothouses without looking inside, and out through the wicket gate at the far end. The track twisted upwards, zigzagging snake-like until it vanished, obscured by both the falling dusk and the dark overhang of a yew tree already old when the Abbey had been built.
Climbing the slippery, mud-slick way, Philippa’s words came back, a haunting reminder of the first overt emergence of her fear.
“Sometimes you see things in the shadows you can’t quite make out; and the harder you look the more difficult it becomes, as they keep on sliding just beyond the periphery of vision. And there are other times, in summer, at the end of a long day as the sun starts to go down, when I’ve heard things in the wood which weren’t . . . She had faltered, confused and a little embarrassed at seeming fanciful.
“What sort of things?” I had asked.
“Music, laughter; but not human. You see, no one else goes into the woods, and there are stories, some very old, which take you back to times before there were times; a prehistoric age when all things were possible, and we hadn’t driven out the unknowable with rationalization and science.”
“Old gods and fairies?”
She had shrugged, “Maybe. I don’t know. But up there when the sun goes down, I get a feeling of being watched; and whatever it is, is not always kindly.”
I got no such feeling on the path between the dark trees. Perhaps the old gods had left, driven out, exorcised by the fire. The only quality I found was an aura of ineffable sadness and emptiness such as must pervade the ruined temples along shores of the wine dark seas of Greece. A loneliness that had a sound if listened for; a thin, haunting melody that might have been nothing but the wind, or a receding, beseeching deity, hands held out, pleading for the return of worshippers long gone.
The old gods lost their power when they were abandoned, becoming nothing more than imps and afreets to scare naughty children and wide-eyed countrymen returning home in the dusk. Then again, maybe the explosions which had been the prelude to the inferno had released them from their age-old captivity, and they had gone to once more roam the land that for so long had been their undisputed domain.
I tripped and stumbled and, half out of control, swearing, slithered down the slope onto the open ground of the ancient graveyard where the Abbey monks had been laid to rest six centuries before, and before that.
 “For all the saints, who from their labours rest.” Brave words, poetic words, assuming everything. Assumption one: men of God were saints. I smiled wryly into the deeper dark thrown by the towering, broken, Sussex flint walls. Cover-up one: never let the peasants know the monks didn’t give a damn about them. Wide monastery lands was what it had all been about, self-aggrandizement of the Abbot, glory for the Bishop, power for the Church. Money and power were all that mattered. If you had those, then you could build to the greater glory of God, and leave lasting evidence of your sanctity. Treasures on Earth bought treasures in Heaven, and with luck, a place at the right hand of the Almighty.
But they’d known how to build, those fraudulent old churchmen, they’d known the meaning of beauty, and place. Witness for that the ruins of Rievaulx, Jervaulx and Fountains Abbeys; but they, like others, had been on the bases of ground dedicated to gods far older than the one exported by the wandering tribes of Israel.
But it was the great slab stones at the eastern end I was interested in, the place where the high altar had once stood, flanked in its glory days by chanting monks, surface strewn with silver and gold and, if Geraint was to be believed, cloth of gold, silks, woven and threaded and embroidered with scenes and symbols. And beneath all that, hidden from the eyes of all but a very favoured few, the Keeping had lain, outlasting the Abbey’s destruction, undiscovered; remaining the charge of the Falconis as it had always been.
I took a deep breath and walked across the open ground, brushing through high grass, dried groundsel and sharp thistle, till my shoes hit stone. There I stopped, peering down at the shattered remnants of six-inch-thick slabs, thrown aside as by giant children playing tiddlywinks, leaving nothing but a gaping, empty hole, darker than the mouth of hell.
The light had nearly gone, no more than a pale orange outline limning the towering shell of wall, the lone remainder of an abbey once home and worship place to more than a hundred monks.
The first time I had been there was also in the winter, but on a day when frost sparkled on the dried grass stalks of the enclosure, and the winter sun unnaturally bright in a sky so blue the colour hurt with its intensity.
But that very brightness, the wholesomeness of a crisp English Downland winter morning, had made it so much worse. Evil at night, mist tendrils curling, a gibbous moon chasing through dark cloud; those are the stuff of evil, portrayed in a thousand films and pictures, told in a thousand ghostly tales. Then we expect the night creatures to be abroad, it is the time of the wolf, and the bat, and those things that slither beyond the periphery of vision to set our hearts beating just a little faster.
But evil in broad daylight, with the sun shining from God’s heaven, is so much worse for being out of place and time in our imaginations. Horror under the sun, with a skylark singing its heart out overhead, is so contrary our minds at first refuse the possibility. It can’t be happening; therefore when it does the effect is so much more.
But there was no more evil. Just a hole; and even the dark misery of a cold wet winter’s evening could make it nothing more than a trap for an unwary foot. What had been in it was gone, and with its passing the earth and woods must have heaved long awaited sighs of relief.
The church clock in the village tolled. Five echoing chimes reverberated through the vale, and I thought I caught a note of joy not there in my memories of it. It was as if a weight had been lifted from it too, and was there just a little tinge of triumph?
Cold seeped from the ground, chilling my feet and ankles, and with the sun gone, defeated by night, the rain increased with steady, remorseless purpose, and I shivered.
Ten minutes later, the warmth of the car heater swirling round me, fogging the windshield and side windows, I went out between the tall gate posts with their winged falcon images, and drove away, never to return.

You can find out more about Nicholas through:

Website:  http://www.tauruspub.net
Taurus Publishing.

Blog:    http://tauruspub.blogspot.com/  
Not a lot going on here at the moment – too much to do and not enough time! But watch this space.

Nicholas Boving’s Books:  http://on.fb.me/14SHgtp 
The promo page for my more “serious” work. I’d love your comments.

Maxim Gunn: http://on.fb.me/1svJmcS  
Action adventure series. Try it, you’ll like it. I promise.

Amazon Author Page: 


Book Links:
All books on Amazon US       http://amzn.to/12AbJWW
All books on Amazon UK       http://amzn.to/1B9kacC
All books on CreateSpace         http://bit.ly/JpfKrY
All Maxim Gunn on Amazon     http://amzn.to/1rPrIua

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Featured Author - Julie Kavanagh

Julie Kavanagh lives in London with her husband, her grown up daughters and six rescue cats. She works in an Inner city school and has been writing for as long as she can remember and, despite modest success, a few years ago she gave it all up to concentrate on her family but now she's back with a vengeance and lots of wonderful tales to share.

Julie is a believer in the stranger things of life and can often be found sitting in the dark in a haunted house. Many of her weird experiences can be found within her stories, bringing a touch of fact to fiction. She loves to both hear and write ghost stories. Julie was kind enough to share her thoughts with me and this is what she had to say. 

Why do you write?
That’s an easy question to answer. If I didn’t write, I'm sure I’d go mad. I have voices whispering their stories in my head and if I don’t get them out on to paper or the computer screen, I think they will drive me crazy.

What is your favorite book and why?
My favorite book is The Stand by Stephen King. I love his characters and the reality he created. I have read it many times and each reading reveals something that I hadn’t spotted before.

What do you think is the easiest thing about writing? What is the most difficult?
The easiest thing about writing is the writing. On a good day, I can spend hours in my ‘writing’ worlds with my characters. As I said before, they talk to me and their conversations are what first starts a story for me. I often hear snippets of dialogue before I even ‘see’ the people involved.

The hardest aspect of writing is when I'm stuck and can’t think of anything else to write. It’s like a black cloud descending into my brain. I have to give up and walk away until the fog lifts.

From books that have already been published by other authors, which book do you wish you had written? 
I wish I had thought of the Black Dagger Brotherhood created by J R Ward. They are sexy, vampire warriors set in a town in New York State.  Each book contains the love story for each major character plus the complex relationships between the other members of the brotherhood. If you like sexy dark paranormal romance, these are the books for you.

How do you market your books?
I’m still learning about marketing and I study the other authors in the Bookstogonow family for methods and technique to further the knowledge of my stories. I use Facebook and author groups to publicize my work.  I work full time in a primary school as well as helping to care for my invalid mother so my time is limited. I have hired on a part time basis an assistant to help with marketing so I can get on with writing.

Any new release? If yes, what is it about?
My latest release is called ‘Nanna’s Naughty Noel’ and was inspired by another BTGN author, Manda Ward who writes romance stories for the slightly older members of society. I thought, why not? Why does age determine a love life? Gina is a recently divorced grandmother, spending the holidays at her daughter’s home when she meets a younger, sexy neighbor. Noel likes the look of Gina and wants to experience the thrill of seducing an older woman.

Book blurb
When Gina decides to spend the holidays with her daughter and family, she had no idea how an unexpected meeting with a younger man could lead to a steamy love affair. Noel is handsome, highly sexual and has fallen in passion with his best friend’s sexy Mother in Law. Newly divorced Gina decides to take a chance on a short lived passionate liaison with the good-looking man who makes no effort to disguise his desire for the beautiful Gina.

Book Excerpt

             “What color panties are you wearing?”                            
             “I'm sorry?” Gina looked up into eyes which wouldn’t have looked out of place in a cat’s face. Even the long dark lashes framing the green eyes gave a feline look to the young man who had moved to stand next to her. His hair was dark and longer than was fashionable but it seemed to give an air of devilment to his handsome face.
“You heard me,” he declared as a wicked smile crossed his lips.
“I thought you said…” Gina began, but paused when the man’s smile widened.
“I asked you what color your panties are.” He moved his head closer, his breath tickling the side of her neck. “Unless, of course, you’re not wearing any.”
“Are you joking?” Gina gasped, feeling the touch of his hand on her arm, a gentle stroking surely designed to put her at her ease.
“I never joke about colors,” he sighed. “Nor about panties. If you're not wearing any, you will make my day, but I suspect they are some kind of red. Am I right?”

You can also connect with Julie and read more about her:
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/juliekavanagh/boards/
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Julie-Kavanagh/e/B0072O06A6/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Book Links: US   http://www.amazon.com/Nannas-Naughty-Noel-Julie-Kavanagh-ebook/dp/B00Q8U5GY6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421619221&sr=1-1&keywords=nanna%27s+naughty+noel&pebp=1421619225672&peasin=B00Q8U5GY6
UK    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nannas-Naughty-Noel-Julie-Kavanagh-ebook/dp/B00Q8U5GY6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421618103&sr=1-1&keywords=nanna%27s+naughty+noel

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Heartthrobs and More

Bang Bang! I've Just Re-discovered Hrithik Roshan

I’m not a big fan of Indian movies. Not after the era of Amitabh Bachchan ended, that is. Only a few actors appeal to me including Aamir Khan, who always dares to be different, and Shahrukh Khan who has been vastly entertaining in his Don movies. Apart from that, I haven’t found much entertainment from Bollywood.

A few days ago, I saw Bang Bang starring Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif. Before that, I did not even know who Katrina Kaif was :-) But it’s actually Hrithik Roshan who took me by surprise.

Hrithik Roshan is the winner of six Filmfare awards, is considered to be one of the most attractive male actors in the Bollywood film industry and has been crowned for the second year in a row as the Sexiest Asian Man in the world by the Eastern Eye Weekly. He became an overnight superstar back in 2000 with the release of his first film, Kaho Naa Pyar Hai.

                                           Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Like all girls back in 2000, I also went gaga over him. His chiselled face cut, his perfect body and his drop-dead gorgeous smile (not to mention those eyes), were definitely appealing back then. However, I didn't think much of him after that. I thought Krish was very childish and Mission Kashmir was quite boring and I basically never turned around and saw another one of his films ... till Bang Bang which was released in 2014.

wasn't expecting the movie to be good. I assumed it was going to be another boring action film which makes no sense and has nothing to offer. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong.

Now, I have to admit he looks damn hot in the movie. I’m a romance novelist and the looks of the hero make or break a movie (and more or less everything else) for me. That's what motivated me to see it to the end but what surprised me most was that I actually enjoyed the movie.

Bang Bang is a remake of a Hollywood movie Knight and Day starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. I never thought I'd live to see the day when I would say that Hrithik looked as good (if not better) then Tom Cruise and Katrina Kaif definitely looked way better than Cameron Diaz. What's more, rip-off or no rip-off, I think Bang Bang was overall a much better movie then Knight and Day. Wonders never cease now, do they?

Hrithik Roshan not only looks awesome in the movie but his acting is great, his dancing's even better and those stunts... are amazing. What's even more amazing is the fact that he did those stunts himself. Andy Armstrong, Hollywood's famous stunt director said that Hrithik's action scenes are better than Tom Cruise's stunts in Knight and Day. He also said that he has never worked with any actor in Hollywood who is more accomplished than Hrithik when it comes to action scenes. Andy considers Hrithik to be a "dream for any action director". Well he's a dream alright :-)

Much respect for the actor because he did all those stunts himself and actually injured himself during one of the action scenes. He had to go through a near-fatal brain surgery. Not only did he survive, he came back with a bang and completed the movie.  I also did not know that Hrithik had a speech disorder. He overcame stammering through speech therapy and he still has to go through therapy to sustain it. Respect indeed.

The reason for writing this is not to just sing praises for Hrithik Roshan. I mean, I am singing his praises but it's actually for myself – because I was so quick to judge.  I dismissed him after a few bad movies (which to some may not have been bad at all). I'm glad I rediscovered not only a good actor but also a person who has overcome several obstacles - speech issues, gunshot wound, sister's cancer, divorce and injuries. Yet, Hrithik calls his life a fairy tale. Well, you sure define optimism and you sure have my respect.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Cover Reveal - My new Valentine Romance "One of Those Days" ... Coming Soon!

Things are not always as bad as they seem. Elizabeth Jennings and Neil Baldwin. Two different personalities. An accidental meeting. One strange day. A string of events that bring in a ray of hope and love. Both don’t know what hit them. The result: a beautiful and unexpected Valentine miracle. Coming soon! 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Featured Author - Chris Karlsen

Chris Karlsen is a history buff with a passion for traveling. She has traveled extensively across Europe, the Near East and Africa. A retired police detective (wow :-), Chris has spent 25 years in law enforcement. I had a quick chat with Chris and this is what she had to say. Enjoy! 

What do you write?
I write historical/paranormal romances, romantic thrillers and my latest is book one of a historical mystery/thriller series.

Which writers inspire you?
I'm inspired by Bernard Cornwell, John Sandford, J.R.R. Tolkien, Julie Anne Long, Julia Quinn, and Guy Gavriel Kay.

What is your favorite book and why?
My favorite book is: The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay. It's a medieval fantasy that is clearly meant to be medieval Spain. The story is brilliant characterization of the two powerful male leads. The reader is as fascinated and empathetic to the antagonist as the protagonist. It's a most remarkable, moving, and exciting story.

What do you think is the easiest thing about writing? What is the most difficult?
The easiest thing is naming my characters and second most is choosing a setting. The most difficult, for me, is keeping the pace up in the middle and, feel free to laugh, sex scenes. They take me forever. I have a devil of a time making them sensual without being cliché or using too graphic language.

From books that have already been published by other authors, which book do you wish you had written? 
It's hard to pick one book that I'd wished I done. I'm inclined to choose a series like Cornwell's Saxon Tales. But one book would be the one I mentioned as my favorite, The Lions of Al-Rassan.

How do you market your books? 
I do a lot of tours to give my marketing a jump start and I buy a fair amount of ad space for Kindle oriented readers. I'm very picky though in the type of ads I do now. I don't do ads on sites that I'll be buried in with dozens of other authors. I look for mainly review tours now. I have done many tours that required posts and found them so time consuming that they became an drain on my writing. I've done a couple of FB parties, which went well, but I don't really know if they resulted in a lot of sales. I have a publicist that assists me with updating my website and getting my books posted on free sites. I make trailers and I do book boards with my "dream" casts on Pinterest. I do a lot of giveaways when I tour or do FB parties. I have enough books in release that I also have created a free promo book with excerpts, sample chapters, some reviews, and even a few recipes. I include this book in with swag bags I send out. It's offered for free on Amazon as well.

Any new release? If yes, what is it about?
My latest release is Silk. 

It's book one in the Bloodstone Series. It's set in Victorian London. Rudyard Bloodstone is a Detective Inspector with London Metropolitan Police Service. I had a lot of fun with him. There's a serial killer murdering woman in the gardens of the British Museum. Rudyard and his partner are the investigators. The clues lead them to a wealthy and powerful member of the nobility and House of Lords. Although under pressure from the man's influence, Rudyard presses ahead. I added several twists and turns that should surprise the reader.

Book blurb
Silk on the skin—luxurious, luscious..lethal.
London-Fall, 1888
The city is in a panic as Jack the Ripper continues his murderous spree. While the Whitechapel police struggle to find him, Detective Inspector Rudyard Bloodstone and his partner are working feverishly to find their own serial killer. The British Museum's beautiful gardens have become a killing ground for young women strangled as they stroll through.
Their investigation has them brushing up against Viscount Everhard, a powerful member of the House of Lords, and a friend to Queen Victoria. When the circumstantial evidence  points to him as a suspect, Rudyard must deal with the political blowback, and knows if they are going to go after the viscount, they'd better be right and have proof.
As the body count grows and the public clamor for the detectives to do more, inter-department rivalries complicate the already difficult case.

Book Excerpt – Silk
He wrapped an end in each hand and pulled. His fingers crept up the silk and he tugged a bit harder still. The material pressed deeper into the flesh of her neck. Bright pink dotted her cheeks and radiated down to her jaw. The veins in her temples popped out and pulsed in time to her heartbeat. She moaned, pushed her hips upward and writhed against him. Her soft pubic hair tickled his testicles. Isabeau’s unsubtle way of letting him know she wanted him inside her. He obliged.

Her hands encircled his wrists. She tugged hard outward, harder than usual. A choked sigh escaped her. He paid no attention. This was standard. Isabeau always insisted he maintain pressure until she signaled for him to release his hold. In the past, when she reached the edge of consciousness, she’d beat along his upper arms. This time she thrashed her head back and forth, something he hadn’t seen before. Her eyes bulged in an unattractive way and she clawed at him. Her nails gouged the skin on his hands, drawing blood.

She hurt him and he wanted to slap her. He almost let go of one end of the scarf to do that. Instead, he pulled tighter. Isabeau tried to insert her fingers into the spot where the material crossed over. Her mouth opened and shut, soundless and fishlike. She swatted at the mattress wildly. Red-faced to the point of being near purple, she bucked beneath him.

She fired his blood with her lack of inhibition. Never had she responded with such intensity. Raw power surged through him, primitive, animalistic. He pumped hard. Ready to climax, William clenched his fists, twisting the scarf one last turn. Odd, feathery touches tapped his biceps, feminine and subtle grazes, and then she went limp. Spent, he released his hold and collapsed on top of her, his heart pounding while he caught his breath.

Isabeau didn’t move and her head stayed turned to the side. She hadn’t cried out the way she normally did when sated. Perhaps she was disappointed with his effort. He gave the thought a mental shrug. At the end of the day, it really didn’t matter. He’d arrange for her departure first thing in the morning.

William rolled over and slung a sweaty arm over his eyes. He tried to decide which was worse, telling her tonight the affair was over or waiting until morning. The idea of doing it after such a rambunctious sexual endeavor seemed bad form, but he wanted to get it over with. He turned onto his side, prepared for histrionics, caterwauling, great tears and verbal abuse.

“Isabeau, look at me. I’ve come to a decision and it will likely distress you.” Nothing. She didn’t stir. “Isabeau?”

He shook her by the arm. Still no response. William let go and her arm dropped listless to the mattress. He raised her arm again and let go. Again, it fell listless. He straddled her and patted her cheeks. Nothing. Her head twisted without resistance first right then left depending on the direction of his pat. He slapped her harder. Nothing. Vacant eyes stared fixed on the ceiling. He bent an ear to her chest. Nothing. William leapt from the bed, snatched a silver mirror from the dressing table, and held it under her nose. Nothing.

“Bitch.” William hurled the mirror against the wall. “Bitch, whore,” he raged and paced along the side of the bed. “I will not allow you to make my life a nightmare. This was your doing. I told you to leave me alone.” 

Book Trailer - Silk 

You can also connect with Chris:
Website: http://chriskarlsen.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chriskarlsenwriter
Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Chris%20Karlsen&search-alias=books&sort=relevancerank
Good reads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4822048.Chris_Karlsen

Book Links:

Silk- http://www.amazon.com/Silk-Bloodstone-Book-Chris-Karlsen-ebook/dp/B00QSTM578/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1420146944&sr=1-1

Boxed set Knights in Time-http://www.amazon.com/Knights-Time-Boxed-Chris-Karlsen-ebook/dp/B00NDE3GM4/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1420146944&sr=1-2

Heroes Live Forever-http://www.amazon.com/Heroes-Live-Forever-Knights-Time-ebook/dp/B004WPW29G/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1420146944&sr=1-6

Journey in Time-  http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Time-Knights-Book-ebook/dp/B005KP18XS/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=102Z23E8F43G78C1XS0D

Knight Blindness-   http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Blindness-Knights-Time-Book-ebook/dp/B00E2QS488/ref=pd_sim_kstore_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1QTCGNFFX1JDEX5R0S67

Golden Chariot-   http://www.amazon.com/Golden-Chariot-Chris-Karlsen-ebook/dp/B007KNLC02/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1420147246&sr=1-1&keywords=golden+chariot

Byzantine Gold-  http://www.amazon.com/Byzantine-Gold-Dangerous-Waters-Book-ebook/dp/B00B431BYQ/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0KS67Y4XQSB23C19VTPN

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Featured Author - Alison Jean-Ash

Today, I had the opportunity to chat with Alison Jean-Ash, a soccer hooligan and an avid writer of poems, articles, essays, reviews and what do you know... books! I have one thing in common with Alison - we both love Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer! Alison shared some of her thoughts with me. Hope you enjoy. 

Why do you write?
I don’t know, really.  I just always have, since I was little.  I solve most of my attitude problems by journaling, and I write fiction as much to entertain myself as to please anyone else.

Which writers inspire you?
Jane Austen, of course, and Georgette Heyer for her humor, and earlier generations of romantic suspense writers: Mary Stewart, Joan Aiken and her sister Jane Aiken Hodge.  I read their books over and over.  I also reread Elizabeth Goudge, an English writer of the 1940s and 1950s: terribly sentimental by today’s standards, but a lot of psychological insight and a lot of magic, old legends influencing the present, which is a wild combination.  I also read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, Ursula LeGuin, Robin McKinley, Octavia Butler.  In between my Oakville stories, I’m working on a few magical romance stories myself, one about modern Selkies in Ireland, and another called Summerwitch, about nature worship.  It’s a sunlit kind of story; I don’t do Dark very well.  Joe Coomer writes about women as well as if he were one, and he has some great titles, like Apologizing to Dogs.

What is your favorite book and why?
 Jane Austen’s last novel, Persuasion, because it is about hope and renewal, about how it can take a very long time to get to the happy ending, but when you do, it’s even better.

What do you think is the easiest thing about writing? What is the most difficult?
 For me the easiest thing is to edit.  I love to revise and rearrange and tinker with word choices, and so, naturally, the hardest thing is to do fresh work so I’ll have something new to edit!  That’s usually how I have to start each session, warming up by revising what I wrote the last time.  Endings are hard.

From books that have already been published by other authors, which book do you wish you had written? 
Wow, that’s a hard one.  The best new book I’ve read in a while was Marilynne Robinson’s Home.  The end took my breath away for a moment, as if I’d been punched in the belly—not because it was shocking in any way, but because it was so intensely beautiful.  I’ll never be that good; that’s why I write pop fiction instead of literary novels.

How do you market your books? 
Badly.  I recently got a blog—third time.  I have trouble remembering to keep up with it.  The other day I discovered December posts still sitting there as drafts.  Ouch!  I have a facebook author page too, but same story:  keeping up with it.  I still haven’t learned to do blog hops, and I don’t tweet.  But I always take part in the Books To Go Now holiday cookbooks, for the exposure. 

Any new release? If yes, what is it about?
 My latest release is still my Christmas story, Comfort and Joy, but I like to think it’s entertaining any time of year.  Sid Meade is 40, teaches yoga, has had girlfriends but never been married, and has a very stark lifestyle.  When he falls in love with Melody, his world turns upside down.  It’s my second story about Oakville (a contemporary small town where people still know their neighbors, friendships last a lifetime, and gossip is a force of nature. 

My third Oakville story, Heart of Stone¸will be coming out soon for Valentine’s Day, on Books To Go Now.  It’s about a librarian, a sexy policeman, a little group of homeless people who hang out at the library, and a young man who’s obsessed with the librarian, and so deep into fantasy that he wants a library card in his Night Elf name.

Book blurb for Heart of Stone  

Sharon Hall’s biological clock is ticking.  Policeman Jack Kennett appeals to the cuddly librarian, very much—but his attitude toward the library’s less-fortunate patrons makes her wonder if he’s too cold-hearted for marriage and fatherhood.  Meanwhile, a very odd young man is becoming dangerously obsessed with Sharon.

Book excerpt  for Heart of Stone 

Faerveren Yadaril.  Ydri, what does this mean?”
“That’s your Elf name.”
“I didn’t know I had an Elf name,” said Sharon.  
“I figured it out for you.”  Kyle blushed with pride. 
Sharon couldn’t help but feel touched.  “That’s very kind of you, Ydri.”
“Go on, open it.”
Sharon slit the envelope and pulled out a thick wad of pages, hand-written in the same thick ink and elaborate script.  It appeared to be a very long poem. She could see it would be hard to decipher, but some phrases stood out:  “queen,” “destined,” “silken cords of magic,” “fate,” and “forever.”
Her heart sank.  She struggled to say something, anything, to break up the eager intensity of his stare.   “Ydri, I’ll have to read this when I’m alone.”

Thanks Alison. You can also connect with Alison: 

Blog:  http://arachnealison.blogspot.com/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authorAlisonAsh
Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Alison-Jean-Ash/e/B005C6FOY4

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5090731.Alison_Jean_Ash