Thursday, September 15, 2016

Event: Houston Writers Guild presents Indiepalooza Conference

Indiepalooza 2016

Members:  Friday Only $50; Saturday Only $100; 2-Day Pass $120
Nonmembers: Friday Only $75; Saturday Only $125; $170
Student 2 Day Pass: $75


Ticket price includes:
Friday Night:
Coffee and Double Tree’s famous cookies; cash bar available
Saturday:
Continental breakfast
All day coffee, tea, sodas, water
Lunch:  Tuscan Delight Buffet
Cucumber and tomato salad; bocconcini and tomato salad; fire-roasted red pepper salad; Ceasar salad; chicken parmesan; beef lasagna; sauteed Italian vegetable medley; and fettuccini alfredo. Garlic breadsticks and Tiramisu included as well plus coffee, tea, water, and sodas.
Plus: Afternoon Double Tree’s famous cookies break
Spend the night Friday and stay up with us at our cocktail party in the hotel’s bar area.  

To reserve a room at the special $99 per night rate, visit http://doubletree.hilton.com/en/dt/groups/personalized/H/HOUSYDT-HWG-20160920/index.jhtml

Still have individual marketing coaching with expert publicist, Brian Jud.  Marketing Coaching Sessions (see below for details): $50

Friday, September 23rd, 2016 from 7:00 pm-9:00 pm
Dylan Drake – What Makes a Great Cover (7:00pm-8:00pm)
In this session, Dylan Drake will explore the elements that make for a great cover design.  As a graphic designer, book nerd, indie publishing evangelist, and Owner of Wayword Author Services, Drake will share tips and techniques for making your cover stand out fom the rest.

Cocktail and Networking from 8:00pm – ?

Saturday, September 24 from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
9:00 am to 10:00 am Keynote Speaker Max Regan – Indie Publishing is a Team Sport

Everyone knows that the author is always the driving force behind any great piece of writing, but what happens when we ask our work to cross from private to public space? When we embark on the publishing journey, how do we ensure that our work is as professional and successful as possible? The truth is that every book you’ve ever read has a whole team of professionals working invisibly behind the scenes, making sure that the author puts their very best foot forward. These folks can help you bring texts through the Drafting Process and see your work through the eyes of your readers in the literary marketplace. They help you build not only a stronger book, but a stronger craft. Whether you are developing a story, working to finish a book, building an author platform, choosing a book cover, or trying to market a project, come take a look at who these people are, what they do and how they can help you bring your best possible work to life.
Max Regan is a freelance Developmental/ Content editor of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. He has worked with a diverse array of authors who have published with Simon and Schuster, Counterpoint, WW Norton, Random House, Harper Collins and others. Max is the founder and director of The Hollowdeck Writing Guild in Boulder, Co www.hollowdeckpress.com. For over 25 years Max has designed and taught creative writing classes across the United States, Europe and the Caribbean. He has taught and lectured at the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, Rose Medical Center and Naropa University where he worked for over a decade as the Director of the Naropa Summer Writing Program. His own creative work has been published in numerous literary journals, magazines and anthologies and has been translated into Czech, Spanish, French, German and Japanese. He lives and works in Boulder CO and St.John, USVI.

Breakout 1  Options: 10:15 am to 11:15 am

Option A: Rookie Indies tell Their Journey -Chantell Renee and Martine Lewis
Chantell Renee is an Urban Fantasy writer that caters to New Adult. She has been writing short stories and poetry since she fell in love with the subject at the young age of twelve. The idea that she could ever write a novel seemed unbelievable. She fell in love with words. What made them so fascinating was the way words create worlds; how they can inspire physical and emotional experiences for those who read or hear them. Her debut novel, Belonging, and the second book in the trilogy, Consumed, were published this past year.

Martine Lewis is a forty-something who was born and raised in the French-speaking province of Quebec, Canada. She spent her childhood looking forward to her summer vacations at the farm, which were a nice escape from the suburbs where she lived. Her debut young adult novel, Crossing the Barrier, is book one in the Gray Eyes Series and was published this past year.

or

 Option B: Building Winning Relationships -Mary Smith

Creating a team of professionals to help you reach your publishing goals is not easy.  Managing those relationships takes skill.  In this session, Mary will share tips and techniques for managing your relationships effectively and keeping your team on target and working productively. This is a Zig Ziglar Legacy Certified class.

Mary Smith is a Ziglar Legacy Certified trainer, coach and leadership development expert.  She started an oil and gas recruiting firm, Personnel Professionals, in 2004. She has 28 years as an educator, 8 of which were in developing and teaching staff development, curriculum writing and coaching/mentoring teachers.  Mary was a ROPES facilitator for 10 years, and has experience building teams that are successful through collaboration.  Mary is an active member of Toastmasters and Association for Talent Development Houston.  She is personable, fun, relatable and her passion shows in her presentations.  Mary has owned several businesses, but none have met her need for the training and development that Educational Leadership Consultants has provided.  She truly loves her work! Mary, a native Texan, was raised in Houston, TX and graduated with a BS from The University of West Florida.  She still resides in Houston, is married with two children and 8 grandchildren.

or

Option C: The Types of Editing and Why We Need Them – Johnnie Bernhard

In this session, Johnnie will discuss the difference between developmental/content editing, copy editing, and proof reading.  She will share how these types of editing are each an integral part to ensuring the success of your manuscript.
A former English teacher and journalist, Johnnie Bernhard life’s work has been reading and writing. A published author, her work has appeared in newspapers and magazines, both nationally and internationally. She is a graduate of the University of Houston (B.A. Journalism) and Nicholls State University Graduate School (English). She has written articles and columns for: the Suburban Reporter, Houston, World Oil Magazine, Houston, The MS Press, Ocean Springs Record, Gulfport Memorial Hospital Patient Publications and Word Among Us. She was also published in two anthologies for the Gulf Coast Writer’s Association and the Houston Writer’s Guild.

Breakout 2 Options 11:30 am to 12:30 pm

Option A: Setting Goals – Mary Smith
(see above for Mary’s bio)
In this session, Mary will discuss tips and techniques for effective goal setting.  Understanding time management and making an effective plan to reach your goals will also be covered. This is a Zig Ziglar Legacy Certified class.

or

Option B: Journals, Magazines, Anthologies: An Author’s Friend – Adrienne Perry and Fern Brady

Many authors are using publication in journals, magazines, and anthologies to help them build up their following as they work towards their first novel.  As an author, these kinds of publishing can help you market and promote, but how can you tell which publications you should submit to.  Join Adrienne Perry and Fern Brady as they share tips on making these options work for you.
Adrienne Perry grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the daughter of a rolling stone from Souther California and a mother whose family homestead outside of Gillette, Wyoming. Adrienne earned her MFA from Warren Wilson Collee, serves as the current editor of Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts, and is a Kimbijio Fellow at the University of Houston. Adrienne is currently at work on a novel and a collection of short stories. An exerpt of her story “Red Desert” was translated by Jean Guiloineau and appears in the French Literary journal Siècle 21.

or
Option C: Business Basics – Small Business Bureau

In this session, members of the Houston chapter of the Small Business Bureau will share tips and resources for launching your own small business. Whether you will publish only your own books or have a larger dream of becoming a small press, this session will provide valuable information to keep in mind as you embark on the journey of being your own small business.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.
The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow business. Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, SBA delivers its services to people throughout the Unites States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.
Is the organization that works with SBA to teach and assist individuals that are interested in starting small businesses.  They offer workshops, mentoring, templates, and other tools to help make small businesses in Houston successful.  Check out their website at https://houston.score.org/

12:30pm to 1:30 pm  Lunch  — See above for the delicious buffet options we will be enjoying

1:30 pm to 2:00 pm – Presenting Authors Book Signing

Breakout 3 Options 2:00pm to 3:00pm
Option A: Veteran Indies Share Their Experience – Melanie Bragg, Alicia Richardson, Dorothy Tinker

Artemis Greenleaf [A.K.A. Alicia Richardson] has always been fascinated by the mysterious, and she devoured fairy tales, folk tales and ghost stories since before she could read. In 1995, she had a near-death experience which turned her perception of the world upside down. She lived to tell the tale (and often does, in one form or another). Artemis lives in the suburban wilds of Houston, Texas with her husband, two children and assorted pets. She writes novels, short stories, and non-fiction, and her work has appeared in magazines. For more information, please visit artemisgreenleaf.com.

Melanie Bragg obtained her Bachelors of Science from the University of Texas at Austin with Honors in 1978 and her Juris Doctorate at the University of Houston Law Center in 1982. After serving a year as a Briefing Attorney for the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston, Texas, Melanie started her own law practice. She worked in the civil, criminal, probate and family courts. Her self-published legal thriller, Crosstown Park, explores social justice issues.  The sequel is in the works.

Dorothy Tinker is a genre fiction writer, with a heavy focus in epic fantasy.  She is the author of the Peace of Evon young adult series, with three books published and the fourth, and final, book of the series in progress. Dorothy has two fantasy/romance short stories published in the HGW Press anthology, Riding the Waves, and a scifi/spiritual short story published in the Inklings Publishing anthology, Eclectically Cosmic.  The first two stories further explore the lives of two minor characters from her first book, Peace of Evon, while the third short story explores the mysteries of an extradimensional resort hotel. Dorothy is an enthusiast of languages, cultures, and fantastical worlds

or
Option B: Marketing 101 – Brian Jud

In this session, Brian will review the basics of marketing strategy and planning; planning new products to expand profits; sales forecasting; finding and working with distributors; pricing strategies for greater net income; generating buzz through publicity, advertising, sales promotion and selling.
Brian Jud is author of Beyond the Bookstore (a Publishers Weekly book) and TheMarketing Planning CD-ROM describing new ways to sell more books profitably to special-sales buyers. He is also the author of the new series of printed booklets published by R. R. Bowker with Proven Tips for Publishing Success. Brian is editor of the Book Marketing Matters special-sales newsletter, and creator of the Special-Sales Profit Center used by R. R. Bowker to sell other publishers’ books to special markets.

or
Option C: Successful Crowdfunding – Adam Holt

Author Adam Holt will share his experience with Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform. From campaign start all the way through fulfillment, he’ll share the methods he used to successfully fund his debut and followup novel on the crowdfunding website.
Novelist and poet Adam Holt grew up near NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where his father worked for Mission Control during the Apollo missions. After attending Baylor, Adam taught English at Greenhill School in Dallas for a decade; however, he left teaching in 2013 to devote himself to writing and sharing his love of human space exploration. He’s currently working on the third novel in the Tully Harper Series, about a trio of teen space travelers that change the fate of the solar system. As a poet, Adam was selected to read at the upcoming Poetry Series at the Houston Public Library. In his free time he coaches, travels, and searches for great tacos.

Breakout 4 options 3:15pm to 4:15 pm

Option A: Difficult Conversations Made Easy: Giving and Receiving Feedback — Mary Smith
(see Mary’s bio above)  In this session, Mary will discuss the importance of genuine feedback, how to give good quality critique to others, and most importantly how to receive and use feedback critique given to you.  As indie authors, the critique process helps ensure that when our work finally reaches publication it is of the highest possible quality in terms of content.  But knowing how to use critique to our advantage can be difficult

or

Option B: Poetry and the Indie Author – Andrea Barbosa

Selling poetry today can be difficult.  In this session, Andrea will share tips and strategies for finding places and methods for selling and publishing your poetry. As Author Events Director for the Houston Writers Guild, Andrea will give guidance on how to make poetry sellable again.
Award-winning novelist and poet Andrea Barbosa is an avid reader, soccer fanatic and a tourist at heart. She took Creative Writing classes at Texas Tech University. Her poetry collection, Holes in Space is the recipient of the 2015 Silver Medal Award in Poetry from Readers’ Favorite, and is featured in the 50 Best Books of 2014 at ReadFree.ly website, voted top 5 in poetry by readers. She is currently working on Olympian Heartbreak, the second in the Olympian Love romance series

or

Option C: Teaming Up for Maximum Promotion – Space City 6 Artemis Greenleaf, Monica Shaughnessy, Ellen Leventhal, Mandy Broughton

These four local Guilders have teamed up to help each other promote. Join in this session and learn some tips and tools, strategies and techniques, for developing a team approach to marketing and promotions as authors.

(see Artemis Greenleaf above as Alicia Richardson on Veteran Indie Panel)
Monica Shaughnessy has a flair for creating characters and plots larger than her home state of Texas. Most notably, she’s the author of the Cattarina Mysteries, a cozy mystery series starring Edgar Allan Poe’s real-life cat companion. Ms. Shaughnessy has numerous books in print, including mysteries, suspense novels, children’s works, and short story collections. She also writes under the pen name, Annie Bassett, with co-author Mandy Broughton. Customers have praised her work time and again, calling it “unique and creative,” “fresh and original,” and “very well written.” When she’s not slaying adverbs and tightening plots, she’s walking her rescue dogs, goofing around with her family, or going back to the grocery store for the hundredth time because she forgot milk.

Mandy Broughton is a nerdy girl who loved school (M.A. in Clinical Psychology and M.A. in Christian Education). But as much as she loved school, she loves reading more. She usually has a book in her hand and two more in a bag. And she won’t buy a purse unless it has a special pocket for her kindle. She gravitates towards mysteries, science fiction and historical novels but the Bible is her passion.

4:30pm to 5:30pm   Bloggers Panel Meet book review bloggers Emily Reads Everything, Bohemian Housewife, and Rolopolobookblog. These ladies will share about their blogs, working with authors, and provide tips for how to best reach out to this growing avenue for book promotions.  You won’t want to miss this panel!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Books: Interview with expert historian Christopher Berg


We are fortunate to introduce Christopher Berg on the blog today, who is a writer and an expert in History! We invite you to read on to find more about his exciting background and work.

Christopher, can you tell us a little about you?

I’m from the United States and my educational background includes an undergraduate degree in Medieval and Renaissance studies, advanced degrees in Religious studies and Comparative World history, and a doctorate in Curriculum and Teaching.  My teaching includes all areas of history with majors-level courses in modern Europe and military history, as well as the humanities and world religions.

Wow, that's impressive. I love history, too, it can teach us so much. Tell us about your book.

The book is a collection of essays I wrote on various aspects of the British empire. Generally, they look at specific moments in time, such as the creation of the Boy and Girl Scout movements in sub-Saharan Africa, through the lens of “empire” and “imperialism.”

That sounds very interesting and a different look at this time period. What's your target audience?

The book was written as a popular history, so that it would appeal to a wide readership. The narrative resembles more of a story line rather than a dry retelling of events that are standard fare in many historical studies. The content does not presuppose a level of familiarity with the topic; in fact, necessary background information is often woven into each short essay to make the reading more accessible and, perhaps even, enjoyable. This book would make an excellent companion to a majors-level course in British history but would, no doubt, be beneficial to anyone interested in transnational themes, such as international history and the rise and fall of empires.



I'm sure the book is very enjoyable! Why did you choose to write a book with this subject, though?

When I was a graduate student, certain courses were only offered on a rotation basis and one of the courses I had wanted to take for some time was open when my own course load was light, so I took “Great Britain and the British Empire” as one of my exit courses.  It was undoubtedly the most difficult course of my graduate career as the reading and writing loads were unlike anything I had ever taken before. But, this course, and the professor who taught it, pushed the boundaries of what I thought was humanly possible, or even desirable, and it led to a period of intellectual growth I had not experienced since my time at New College. Much of the content for this book was produced, in preliminary form, during this time.

That shows how a teacher can influence learning so much! And now you're spreading your love of history and making it accessible for all. Is there a historian that you think that has influenced you?

Several come to mind but only a few have really influenced my own educational and professional path and the way I see the world. Will Durant, in his Story of Civilization, showed me the lofty heights of good style and prose.  The first volume I ever read of his award-winning multi-volume work was The Renaissance and it profoundly influenced the way I see history and how I try to communicate it in my own writing.  If there is one historian who rivals, or even surpasses, the grand style of Gibbon it would be Durant. Daniel Boorstin’s trilogy on civilization, too, is one of my favorites to read as it blends the best of academic and popular history.  Boorstin’s The Seekers is one of my favorites as it was the first to introduce me to a number of topics outside of Western Civilization as well as cultivate an appreciation for good quotes.  Niall Ferguson is one of the few living historians that continue to influence the way I see the world; his award-winning book The Pity of War was not read once, but twice, as it was on the syllabi of two different courses I took in grad school. Ferguson has become quite an intellectual luminary for his conservative and, often, contrarian positions on economics, history, politics, and the rise and fall of nations. He is particularly relevant today because he uses the past as a measure and standard for the present but also as a means to discern the future. And, if you’ve never seen him speak or debate, I encourage you to do so because you’re promised a stimulating tour de force on the intersection of history and current events.

Thanks for the suggestions. History lovers will be thrilled! What made the British Empire, in your opinion, stop being an Empire?

Winston Churchill’s vision during World War II was to not only survive the war and the Nazi threat, but also to maintain, if possible, the grandeur of the empire. He had grown up during the Victorian age at the height of Britain’s empire and imperial position. But, as an aged prime minister, Churchill saw that the empire had slipped the grasp of the British and in order to make it through this ordeal, they would have to relax their positions towards their colonial brethren. This was especially so in Africa and India. World War II, essentially, brought the end of the British empire and, in the post-war world, a new balance-of-power emerged with new superpowers and a new wave of paranoia in the dawn of the nuclear age. Britain would not play a key role and would be resigned to focusing on social and welfare matters at home. Two world wars had crippled continental Europe and Great Britain; the only vestiges of the empire remaining reside in historical memory and in the title of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

I'm learning a lot with this interview! Are there any other subjects that interest you?

Ancient and medieval history, in general, and military history, in particular, are my favorites. One of the problems of attending university in the United States is that you must have a good idea of what you want to study and then specialize and declare majors/minors but I never did so until the last minute when the matter was forced upon me as I just couldn’t bear to pass up a class because it wasn’t in my specialty. I still feel that way, even now. I earned a degree in Comparative World history mainly because the scope of my program was too diverse to “fit” in any other major at my university.  

That's true. There are so many interesting courses to take. What are you working on now?

I’m presently completing my dissertation on World history education in public and private schools and how teachers negotiate historical significance intellectually and instructionally in the classroom. 

I hope you will write more books on history. Where can we find out more about
you and your work? 

My website is christopherberg.org and I have author’s pages at Amazon.com, Ancient History Encyclopedia and Historical Quest online.You can read about my books at www.quest-publications.com

Thank you so much for spending some time here letting us know more about your work and your book! We wish you lots of success and keep making history available to all! 

For more about Christopher's work, visit: 




Monday, August 15, 2016

Books - New Release: A Journey of Self Discovery Preorder Review Tour -'East-A Novel' by @PeriHoskins #RPBP

East-A Novel
By Peri Hoskions
Preorder Now
End of August Release
‘About ‘East – A Novel'
It’s 1994. Junior lawyer, Vince Osbourne, leaves behind a small, mean and viciously circular life in the city representing petty criminals and takes to the road. He’s lived 30 years. The wide continent of Australia is out in front. He’s almost young. Where will the road lead?

East takes in sunsets; rain in the desert; a five-year-old girl on a bike; a battered former thief and jockey; old-timers; young lovers; beautiful women, and aboriginals in public bars. The open road connects many vignettes making a rich tapestry of human encounters.

East is poignant, gritty, funny, sad and above all: human. Hoskins’ laconic prose captures the harsh, arid country in all its big, empty beauty along with quirky exchanges with strangers, travel buddies, shop assistants, workmates, and friends old and new. A journey without and within, East taps into the spiritual realm that lies beneath this land and its people.

(#travel & Adventure, #Travel, #Aus, #RPBP, #preorder, #ebook, #NewRelease)
~Pre-release review~
A Journey of Self Discovery
This intriguing book is based on the author’s personal memoirs and although it is described as fiction it feels very, very real.
Vince has reached a stage at 30 when he wants to break free from a life that seems to be suffocating him. He has been working as a junior lawyer but needs to do something different and this book tells of his travels towards the East of Australia.
His journey draws you along with him as he discovers himself and realises that he can achieve so much more than he previously thought possible. He settles in places with people from his past that he sees in a new light, along with their prejudices.
Then there are the long and testing journeys across the deserts of Australia, meeting a fascinating mix of people along the way. Vince’s observations on the Aboriginal people, being of Maori origin himself, are extremely revealing. The back breaking work he takes on in a mine, to earn some extra money, couldn’t be further removed from his previous work as a lawyer.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys travel writing and journeys of self-discovery. ~Robert Fear 8.10.16
~Enjoy Chapter One From East~
Leaving
The bonnet in front of me is big and white. Rain on the windscreen – the wipers sweep it away. The clouds are grey, the road is grey, the suburbs are grey and I am leaving. There is joy in that. I’m leaving it behind – a life – small, petty, viciously circular. Out in front is the road and I don’t know where it will end. I am free. I’m almost young.

A beginning. Renewal pulses in my blood, pumping out from my heart, through my veins, feeding me, making me new again, a keenly conscious being reaching out to the uncertainty. This road will lead me to places that I have not seen – to people I have not met. There’s no place I have to be and no time I have to be there.

I drive on and on leaving the city far behind. The rain clears. Sunlight glints on wet grass and trees. I see farmhouses, fences and cows. The gnawing in my belly eases as I’m gently enveloped by the freedom of the great mystery now upon me. The shackles of the old life fall away, for I’m shedding a skin – dry, worn, old and scaly. I found the courage to step into the dream. And the dream has become real.

The life of a suburban lawyer is behind me. Small decisions. Small repetitions. Which tie to wear today. Pay the electricity bill. Sunday – iron five shirts for the week ahead. See the same people. Say the same things. Hear the same things said. In that life I wondered whether I had it better than the petty criminals I represented in court. Some had no job and no home. They pleaded guilty and I said what I could say, for something had to be said. And then the court, that street-sweeper of humanity, tidied them away. For there must be a place – there must be somewhere for them to go: a prison, a halfway house, a drug rehab centre. There must be a place for everyone – somewhere. These people had fallen through cracks and become untidy. Did they envy my tidy life, those that I helped to tidy away? Did they see my life as I saw it – not a tidy life, but a tidy prison?

Tidiness. I had been taught to lead a tidy life. What was it they had said – the teachers, the headmasters? Work hard at school. Get a good job. Be a good employee. Pay your taxes. Mow your lawns. Be a good neighbour. Be a good citizen. Lead a tidy life. Not a full life, a varied life, a great life – no, a tidy life of small neat circles. I have lived thirty years.

As the trees and houses and petrol stations whistle by, the reasons for leaving once again crowd my mind. At thirty, life no longer stretches out before me like an uncharted great ocean. If I live to be eighty, more than one third of my life is spent. Where am I? At a time of life when I’m supposed to be somewhere – I’m nowhere I ever wanted to be. I’ll taste the last drops of youth before the cup passes from my lips, forever. The familiar yearning claws at my insides again – but it’s different now – it’s happy knowing I have been true to it – finally.

The yearning … a murmur in a corner of my soul ... that’s how it started … a couple of years ago ... I pushed it away. I was busy; there were things to do. It kept coming back, stronger and stronger: a growing gnawing that would not be denied. The day I turned thirty, I came to know what it was, finally. It was the feeling of having missed my destiny. At one of life’s important junctures, I don’t know when or where, I’d taken the wrong turn.

So maybe that’s what it is: a journey back down life’s highway to try and find the turn I missed. A journey to reconnect with who I am and what I should be doing here – in this life. Did I ever really want to be a lawyer? Maybe I did it because my father didn’t finish law school. Maybe I did it for him, and not for me. Didn’t have the courage to find my destiny and follow it … settled for safety and caution. And the small repetitions of the safe life had closed in and were suffocating me. Don’t know if that’s what it is … I had to go – I know that much … it was the most honest thing I could do. And now it’s real: this journey with no end and no decided route. It’s a big country. Yeah, I’ll head east ... And in my travels maybe I’ll find something of the soul of this land and its people ...

I have been at the wheel for four hours. The muscular movements needed to keep the car on course have become automatic. My thoughts drift freely now, first to the future – new, pregnant with possibility – before anchoring in my childhood. I recall a long-buried idea – from a time of wonder at a world full of possibilities. As a child I thought I could see into people, a kind of second sight.

Memories flow into my mind – sharp, clear, focused. I see things now as I saw things then. I am a small boy sitting in the passenger seat of a car. My father is driving. We approach an intersection. A policeman is standing in the middle directing traffic. He signals the car in front to stop. The policeman fascinates me – his neat blue uniform, high black boots, long white gloves – his precise hand signals. He makes cars stop and go by moving his hands like the man who made the puppets move at the fairground. The gloved hands move and the cars obey, crossing the intersection, slowly and respectfully passing the uniformed man.

From above I hear the noise of a plane. In the eye of my mind as a child I see the silver wings and fuselage. The policeman’s eyes turn skyward to the plane I see clearly in the window of my imagination. The officer’s long-gloved hands slowly fall to rest at his heavy belt. Cars bank up at the intersection. The driver in front looks at him for directions but he gives none. Unconscious of the traffic, his attention is focused in the sky above. The face of the policeman loses form and I see into him. First I feel his discomfort in the hot uniform, the dryness in his throat and the tiredness behind his eyes. Gradually my perception deepens. I sense the numbed heart, the thwarted ambitions – the hopes and dreams unrealized and gone awry. He doesn’t want to be here, directing traffic. The past has cheated him. He is disconnected from the present and fearful of the future.

A car horn honks from behind. A driver doesn’t know why the traffic is not moving. The policeman’s eyes return to the traffic, his arms snapping up with military precision. As he waves us on, the look of purpose clothes his face once again and the moment of seeing into him has passed.

The second sight would come to me without warning and always just for a fleeting moment or two. I would see my mother trying to hide an emotion or catch my father unguarded, looking into the distance. In the moment of second sight the physical would melt – the body become transparent and amorphous. Instead of seeing the person I would see into the person – reach inside to the heart, sense the fears, touch the dreams – see the humanity, raw and struggling.

~About The Author~
Peri Hoskins is the author of 'Millennium – A Memoir’, a travelogue memoir that has received many five star reader reviews.
Christopher Moore of the New Zealand Listener had this to say about ‘Millennium – A Memoir’:
'Written with perhaps the merest of bows to Joseph Conrad and Robert Louis Stevenson, the book’s colourful cast of characters come together to greet the dawn of the 21st century. It’s a vigorously written sly-humoured account of human encounters in a small place lapped by the tides of change…It’s a genial well observed book that insinuates itself into the affections.’
~Christopher Moore, New Zealand Listener, 2 August 2014.

Peri Hoskins was born in Wellington, New Zealand. He is the second son of a family of five children, four boys and a girl. He is of mixed Maori and Anglo-Celtic ancestry. Peri grew up in Whangarei, Northland, New Zealand, a provincial city then home to about 30,000 people. He was educated at Whangarei Boys’ High School where he twice won a national essay competition. After completing high school and winning the school prizes for English, History and Geography, Peri went to Auckland University where he studied law and the humanities, including history and English literature.

Peri was substantially based in Australia between 1985 and 2005. He completed his study of law and the humanities at the University of Sydney including several courses in philosophy. He worked as a lawyer in New South Wales before embarking on a 1994 five-month road trip all around Australia. This road trip comprises the material for his soon to be published second book, East. Peri subsequently worked as a lawyer in both New South Wales and Queensland, and developed his current specialisation in legal work – civil litigation. In December 1999 Peri travelled to the Kingdom of Tonga to be in the first country in the world to see in the new millennium. The diary of his three weeks in Tonga has become his first book, Millennium – A Memoir. In 2004 Peri completed a post graduate diploma in film and television production at Queensland University of Technology.

Peri now lives, writes and works as a barrister (being a self-employed lawyer) in Northland, New Zealand.

You can connect With Peri Hoskins here:

 Read an interview with author Peri Hoskins here:
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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Books: Interview with UK talented writer Poppy Reid



We're excited to introduce Poppy Reid to the blog today! Find out more about this talented writer in the interview below.

Poppy, where are you from and what’s your background?
 
I’m originally from the United Kingdom, but for most of my adult life I’ve lived in Japan studying or working. Right now I’m an English teacher, but I’d love to write full-time. But I suppose that’s the dream of thousands of writers around the world, isn’t it? All we do is write, or think about writing.

Talking about the dream of writing, when did you realize you wanted to write and when did you start writing?
 
I’ve been writing stories since I was a child, perhaps nine or ten years old. In elementary school, when it was raining and we couldn’t play outside, I’d either be reading or writing a story, folding pieces of paper together to make it look like a real book. When I was eleven, I wrote my first series, the Fire Princess. Looking back though, it’s probably not that good.

I'm sure you had a lot of fun writing them! What genre do you write and what’s your target audience?
 
The books Quest Publications have released are fantasy adventure, with a little romance thrown in because I’m a sucker for tragedies. My target audience would be people like me who absolutely love being sucked into a completely different world, joining an exciting adventure, and perhaps enjoy their heartstrings being pulled a little, too.

Sounds very interesting. How many books have you published? Do you have a favorite?

My second book came out a month or so ago. It’s the second in the Blood Scrolls Trilogy and it’s called Blood of the Innocent. I love both books I’ve released, of course, but I feel like my writing is getting better all the time. If I had to choose one, it’d be the latest book in the series.

What is your favorite quote, and who wrote it?
 
It may sound corny, but I love inspirational quotes. One good one is “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” I’m not sure who was the first to say it; I actually heard it from Family Guy.

That's a great one, you're right! Do you have a favorite author? Who? What’s your favorite book? Has this author or book influenced your writing in any way?
 
When I was a teenager, I loved Jacqueline Wilson, but I think my favorite is Darren Shan. I adore his vampire series – it’s original, genuinely frightening and at times, completely heartless. My influences when I was writing the Fire Princess were mostly J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books in terms of story line, and Jacqueline Wilson in terms of writing style. The Blood Scrolls Trilogy gained some influence from the Emma Grady Trilogy.

These are really great influences. Are you optimistic, hopeful or romantic?
 
In my writing, I love terrible tragedy that is difficult to forget. However, I often fight with myself whether there’s a time and a place for this – would a happy ending be better? Would it be more appropriate for this character to live, or to die horribly, traumatizing all her friends and family and changing the plot-line forever? I try to mix it up – I think being predictable is the worst thing an artist can be.

Great answer! And what are you working on now?
 
Right now, I’m writing the finale in the Blood Scrolls Trilogy – the Blood of the Avenged. I’m really excited to get it finished, because I’ve been planning it for a long time. I’m hoping it can be released next year, or perhaps even the end of 2016 with a push.

I'm sure you can do it. Where can we find out more about you and your work?
 
I have a fan page on Facebook and also a Twitter account. You can also check out my publisher’s website for some extra information about me and my work. I’d absolutely love it if I got a message from someone who has read something of mine. That’s the dream right now – to receive fan mail!

Good luck, Poppy, and we wish you a lot of success in your writing career! Hope that fan mail comes soon! And thank you so much for stopping by and tell us more about you and your writing!

For more on Poppy Reid's work, click on the links below:



 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Event: Comicpalooza, Texas' largest Comic and Pop Culture Celebration

This year, from June 17-19, Houston was host to Comicpalooza, the largest annual multi-genre, comic book, science fiction, anime, gaming and pop culture convention in the Southern US. I was lucky enough to be a guest panelist in the Comicpalooza Literary Track, and attend the event along with other local and state authors.

The Literary Track brings together the creative minds in writing and offers learning opportunities including panels on the craft and business of writing, hands-on writing workshops, and entertaining discussions about different genres in writing and literature. This year, the offering was ample and varied, and Convention's attendees could choose to attend panels that ranged from the Storytelling of Star Wars, and Horror Explorations in Literature to the Ins and Outs of Self-Publishing. There was even a critique workshop. 

My first panel was The Changing Image of the Vampire, and together with moderator Mari Mancusi
and fellow panelists Dicey Grenor and Leslie S. Klinger, we discussed how the image of the vampire changed over history, in literature, on stage and on screen, touching on the works of Stoker, Anne Rice, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and even Twilight. Klinger, who is considered to be one of the world’s foremost authorities on Dracula, gave a brilliant overview of the vampire myth and enlightened us with his knowledge of the topic.

Check the video presentation of the panelists here:

https://www.facebook.com/853443224691673/videos/1008793582489969/

My second panel was Lost in Translation: Language Barriers in Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Along with panelist and moderator Tex Thompson, we discussed language barriers in literature and the comics, including cultural differences, nuances in languages, interpretation and misunderstandings, using as examples movies like Enemy Mine, Star Trek episodes, and novels like Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis. With an engaged and highly sci-fi educated audience, we had a great time exchanging ideas and learning more about this intriguing topic.

https://www.facebook.com/853443224691673/videos/1008875109148483/

Check below for more information on the writers and industry experts with whom I had the pleasure
of interacting in these exciting panels!

Mari Mancusi: http://www.marimancusi.com/
Dicey Grenor: http://diceygrenorbooks.com/books.html
Leslie S. Klinger: http://lesliesklinger.com/
Tex Thompson: http://www.thetexfiles.com/








Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Books: Interview with Award-winning romance author Lyn Horner


We just met romance author Lyn Horner and we're so pleased to share a little bit about her life and her work! Read on to find more about this Award-winning writer!

Hi, Lyn, can you tell us where you are from and what's your background?
First of all, thank you so much, Andrea, for hosting me today. It’s a pleasure being here.
Although born in San Francisco, I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I married my high school sweetheart right after graduating from college (art school) and we eventually had two children. Meanwhile, I worked as a fashion illustrator and art instructor until my husband accepted a company transfer to Chicagoland. Two more transfers brought us to Houston and later to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where we put down permanent roots.

Texas is great! When did you realize you wanted to write and when did you start writing?
As far back as I can remember I’ve enjoyed writing, as well as drawing and painting. After our move to Chicago, I took to scribbling story ideas in order to save my sanity while coping with a five-year-old and a toddler, without the escape a job offered. Don’t get me wrong. I love my children dearly, but staying home with two little monkeys required quite an adjustment. Anyway, my hobby soon grew into a love of research and the crafting of sensual, fast-paced romances.

What a great hobby! And you've basically answered the next question, but since the romance genre has so many sub-genres, what genre do you write and what's your target audience?
I’m a cross genre author, combining western historical romance with flashes of paranormal, and romantic suspense with paranormal themes as in psychic characters and secret apocalyptic prophesies. Obviously, I hope to attract western romance and romantic suspense fans, but they need to be hungry for something a little different.

How interesting! And how many books have you published? Do you have a favorite?

I have published eleven books: seven novels, two novellas, one box set and a photo-illustrated memoir. In addition, I am a contributor to two anthologies.
The book I’m currently writing is always my favorite for the moment. However, if I must choose one that’s closest to my heart, it has to be Darlin’ Irish, my very first book. I love the characters, the settings I spent so many hours researching and the emotional roller coaster ride both I and readers experience along with the hero and heroine.

Sounds like a great romance! What are your favorite two quotes, and who wrote them?
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
"If you give us the chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels." ~ Texas Governor, Ann Richards, from her famous speech at the Democratic National Convention in 1988.

I love those, too! Great choices. Do you have a favorite author? Who? What's your favorite book? Has this author or book influenced your writing in any way?
Diana Gabaldon is my favorite author. Her book, Outlander, is my favorite. Voyager, the third book in Ms. Gabaldon’s blockbuster series is a close second. I believe her writing has influenced the way I portray my characters, their actions and emotions. At least I hope so.

I'm sure it has! Are you optimistic/hopeful/romantic?
I must be all three or I wouldn’t continue to write romantic fiction and dream of a day when other, newer authors will point at my work and say it influenced them.

Wouldn't that be wonderful? I hope you influence the younger generation of writers! What are you working on now?
I’m hard at work on book five in my Romancing the Guardians series, a saga about seven descendents of an ancient Irish race known as the Tuatha Dé Danann (People of the goddess Danu.) According to Irish-Celtic mythology, these legendary people came to Ireland from 'the islands in the west' and practiced magic. Expanding on that premise, their fictional descendents in my books possess psychic gifts – and they guard secret prophesies about the future of mankind.

It sounds intriguing! Where can we find out more about you and your work?
You can find me in several places:
Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/Y3aotC
Website: Lyn Horner’s Corner (Click tabs to sample chapters from my books.)

Sign up for Lyn’s Romance Gazette to receive giveaway and new release announcements. NO SPAM!

Lyn, is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Yes, I have some exciting news! I’m participating in the 1st Annual HotDamn! Summer Reads Giveaway, underway now http://bit.ly/1Xsqs3c.  Enter to have a chance of winning a Kindle Fire plus 17 great ebooks, including Touching Charlotte (Romancing the Guardians, Book 4).

Best of luck to all who enter!


What a nice giveaway! Thanks for sharing all these with our readers, Lyn! We wish you lots of success in your career! Good luck!

Don't forget to check out Lyn's books and enter her giveaway!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Book Blog Tour: New Release: Parched - #dystopian #RPBP

Parched (The Parched Series Book 1)
Available Now!
from author
Andrew C. Branham
The sun has become a 'red giant' and the world is hot and parched. In California, James and Lexie Deforio have three goals: to find food and water, to survive another day, and to protect their two children. When their home is abruptly robbed and burned to the ground, the family is forced to embark on a cross-country journey in search of safety and water.


Facing ruthless bandits, murderers, and some of the most extreme conditions they have ever encountered, they struggle to survive. When James is shot trying to help another family, Lexie and her children set out on a harrowing journey to save him. Finding temporary safety in the abandoned Ohio salt mines deep under Lake Erie, they appear to have found a new home. But, like everything on their journey, not all is as it seems.

Parched - a dystopian thriller by Andrew Branham V4
The sun no longer shone canary yellow. It hadn’t done so for years. Instead, it glared down, obstinate, punishing—beet red, like the garden tomatoes that no longer existed. It stood guard over the desert-dry water taps that had likewise fallen prey to the relentless heat, even in mid-October. Livermore, California had been a town set on rolling hills, swathed in green grass and fragrant orange poppies. Now, each day played out like the one before it: sun, heat, illness, death.

On that particular day, relative calm engulfed them. Only a few trails of smoke rose up in the distance toward the west and the Oakland Hills. Usually it was worse—the smoke was more like the dense cloud of marine fog that used to roll in daily. Now, the arid air, once fresh with coastal mist and the scent of eucalyptus trees mixed with wild lavender and rosemary, smelled like burning hay. The sun’s transition from an earthly asset to man’s most vicious foe had been going on for decades, but you would never have known it. It had caught humanity ill-prepared. Those who once had awaited its daily arrival now despised its very existence.

Scientists had a word for it; scientists had a word for everything. They called it a Red Giant, a star that had exhausted the supply of hydrogen at its core and had switched to thermonuclear fusion. As a result, the Earth found itself baking, its waters evaporating, and humanity’s extinction imminent. No scientist or politician could explain why the sun had made such a drastic transformation; nor did it matter.

In the distance, the sound of a laboring sixteen-wheeler lumbering up the road startled James as he popped up from his sleep. Scanning the room, he breathed out his relief. Everybody’s okay, he thought, checking out their California king bed. For a brief moment, he recalled his dream, in which he had been frolicking with his brother along the beaches of Lake Erie, near where they had grown up. But, instead of laughing, shouting, and swimming in cool waters, he was perspiring. Sweat soaked the bed and stained his shirt and underwear. His mouth felt and dry.

What’s the truck doing here at this hour?

The clanking of the massive tires hitting the potholes brought him back to reality. Rising cautiously, he kicked into the nightstand and let out a yelp, awakening their infant, who began to cry.

“What is it?” his wife asked.

“Nothing. Just the water truck. Go back to sleep.”

His thirteen-year-old son, Silas, was now awake as well and was scanning the room with his eyes. His long blond hair was matted down against his boyish face and, despite his sleep, he still looked extremely fatigued. He was irritated not only at the unrelenting heat and his sister’s cries, but also that he woke up in the same depressing room where they almost always stayed. Sometimes he hoped his life was just a nightmare that he would someday wake up from. Looking around, he saw walls stacked with cardboard boxes, dirty clothing on the floor, and dirt-stained sheets on the bed in which he was lying. The two windows in the room were covered in a thick film of dust and sand. A loaded rifle and handgun were on a box next to the bed.

“Can someone keep her quiet?” Silas grumbled as he looked toward his crying infant sister, Charlotte. “It’s impossible to sleep around here.”

Already dressed, James grabbed his shotgun and several plastic gallon water jugs, which he had strung together with nautical rope, and sprinted down the steps, the jugs thumping with each step. He pushed aside the heavy desk and chair he had used to barricade the door and scrunched down to peek out through a two-inch crack he had opened. He saw the truck that had stopped in the middle of the road. As he struggled to focus, he smelled the burning air and saw the heat waves reflecting off the cracked and buckled asphalt. He made out several residents emerging from their deteriorating town-homes, guns and jugs in hand, walking toward the truck with its distinctive Red Cross logo. The sound of his baby crying and the rustling of his waking family echoed through the empty stairwell.
Andrew Branham is an award winning writer and business executive who lives in Jackson, MI. Over the years, he has received several awards for his editorial columns and op-eds. His memoir, Anything for Amelia, has won multiple honors/awards.

He was born in the culturally rich and diverse town of Lorain,

Ohio. He is married and they have one daughter. Andrew is an avid writer and has contributed articles and op-eds for multiple major newspapers throughout the country. He also writes business articles for many different publications and websites.

Anything for Amelia is his first book and he was inspired to write it due to his extremely difficult adoption that many experts claimed was 'the most difficult adoption in U.S. history'. Andrew found that writing in a journal each day during the adoption helped him to relieve the extreme levels of stress that he was facing. The journal proved to be the key to him writing the memoir. Andrew hopes that his book will help other adoptive families to avoid some of the mistakes that he made. In addition, he is donating a portion of any profits to the foster care system.

He has recently finished his first fiction novel, Parched (available 4/14/16). It is a post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel that is set in a time when the world has nearly run out of water. It follows a family as they attempt to cross the United States in search of food, water and shelter. He was inspired to write this novel while living through the extreme droughts of Northern California.


Giveaway #1


Giveaway #2
Purchase Parched for the special price of 
.99 cents and get "Anything for Amelia"
 for free!Email your proof of purchase to rukiapublishing@mail.com
This giveaway is limited to the first 10 receipts. First Come , First Serve! 
This is a fantastic prize- the ebook is listed at $7.99, but today you can get it free when you buy "Parched" for 
just
 99 cents!



Giveaway #3
Free Competition From Rukia Publishing!
Visit John Lock Publishing To Enter!
http://www.lockpublishing.com/comp.html
Subscribe to Andrew's Newsletter for updates! http://eepurl.com/bSqs41

Email (Andrew responds to all emails) drew.branham75@gmail.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/drewanddjadoption

Linked In: www.linkedin-com/in/authorandrewbranham

Twitter: @AuthorAndrewB



“..the relentless pacing of this story, which rarely pauses from the action or relishes in the monotony of life after civilization’s breakdown, keeps the reader engaged throughout. By placing an entire family at the center of his novel, the author makes every challenge feel that much more dangerous. The book concludes with a brief excerpt from a forthcoming sequel, so hopefully readers can expect more adventures in Branham’s fearsome wasteland. A fast-paced post-apocalyptic tale of survival and family.” 
~Kirkus Reviews
****
“There is a constant urgency and energy in the writing that makes it difficult to put down. The most powerful parts of this story are when the lines of morality begin to blur in the family’s quest for survival. This resilient family always seems to be running away from something, narrowly escaping danger, and eking by to survive – it was exhausting just reading about their life on the run! At its core, Parched is about hope and survival against all odds, and the personal demons we must face when our bodies and minds are pushed to the limit. However, the underlying message is that the bonds of family, morality, and humanity can be bent, but never broken.” 
~Self-Publishing Review.
****
“The story is taut and inventive and Branham makes some bold narrative choices, the stakes are high and no one is safe. With shifts in perspective each character is made sympathetic and three dimensional. PARCHED sets the stage for a suspenseful saga with well-crafted characters and numerous conflicts yet to be resolved.” ~Indie Reader
****
“Parched holds several surprises; not the least of which is its ultimate direction. Readers used to the typical linear progression of many apocalyptic reads will find something unique and special in Parched: highly recommended for any who want a powerful thriller with a strong environmental message.” 
~Midwest Book Review—Diane Donovan, Editor/Senior Reviewer

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