Sunday, December 20, 2015

Music: Interview with UK singer and motivational speaker Leo Golden Child

To finish off the year in a very positive note, we're bringing to the blog  UK singer and motivational speaker Leo Golden Child. Learn more about the life and work of this talented artist reading the interview he graciously gave us. I hope you find inspiration in his words and music!

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background! We'd love to know more about you.
 
Hey, my name is Leo Golden Child. I'm a recording artist and motivational talker from the United Kingdom. My career started when I was just 15, becoming a young caretaker for my mother who was really ill. My only means of releasing my stress from a lot of things I saw, was to start writing poetry, and so poetry became rap and the rest is history :)

That must have been hard on you, but it released your artistic side! So your poetry became rap, and what other genre of music do you play? 
 
I play hip-hop, R&B , and acoustic experimental. Music to me is like a massive buffet, I try to mix up my genres! 

That's an excellent comparison, it's always great to experiment! What is your biggest influence in music? Why? 
 
My biggest influence would have to be Michael Jackson, and my mother. A weird combination I know (LOL)! Michael, he made music and spoke emotion through notes. And my mom, she used to do gospel so it's her that generates my passion for music. 


It's awesome that your mom has been a great positive influence in your career! And what's the story behind your artistic name? 
 
The name Leo Golden Child came pretty strangely in my life to be fair. My grandad, who I never got to meet, had my first name as his second name which is 'Howard'. And I wanted a name to represent him, so I googled Spanish/Latin names that have a meaning towards families and Leo came up as head of the family, the King of the pack, and I thought this was pretty cool ! And as for Golden Child, me and my brother both stopped breathing at birth - luckily I pulled through, and since then everyone in my family calls me the Golden Child. 

That's very interesting, you're truly a survivor! When was the first time you performed live and
how did you feel? 
 
The first show I ever performed at was a place called Shropshire, for an X-factor boy band called union J - it was awesome !! I felt like a man on fire; the audience was fantastic! 

How cool! So you seem to have a cool rapport with the audience. What do you enjoy the most between the interaction with your fans? 
 
The loyalty and trust they have with me; I see them more as family than fans! I love them all!


Amazing feeling, I bet! Is there a specific performance you feel was your best ever? If so, where and why?

My best performance I would say was Osfest, which is a massive festival in Shropshire. The mic cut out on accident whilst live and I still managed to maintain the audience spontaneous! It was the way forward that day :) 'Rock on! 

Sounds like it was really an amazing experience! What are you plans for the coming year? What are you working on? 

My plans will be to create more music videos, with more acting scenes, and then perfecting the album :)

Now tell us where can we find your music?


Leo, is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers? 
 
Stay positive and please check my work out :) 

Thank you so much for taking the time to give us this interview and let us know a bit more about you and your music! For more information about Leo Golden Child, please visit his website www.leogoldenchild.co.uk and follow him on twitter: @leo_Goldenchild
 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Readers Favorite 2015 Award Ceremony

Readers Favorite 2015 Award Ceremony


I can't express enough how amazing it was to be a part of this wonderful ceremony and gathering of authors, writers and industry professionals. I'm so thankful to be included in this world class ceremony! 

Readers Favorite President James Ventrillo, entertaining MC Eddie Price, a motivational speech by award winning Globetrotters' own Kevin SpecialK Daley, and Mark Wayne Adams' delivering the medals were some of the highlights of the evening.
 


And meeting virtual friends in person and making new ones was a memorable experience that will be hard to beat! The ceremony was well organized, fun, and exciting, with even a surprise performance of award winning author and America's Got Talent winner Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr who blessed us with his fantastic voice!

The ceremony happened in Miami, FL, on November 21st, during the weekend of the Miami International Book Fair, where Readers Favorite had a booth and displayed the winning books. 

Thank you, Readers Favorite, for a evening to remember, and for fond memories to be shared over and over. Congratulations to all the winners and to the organizers who went above and beyond to make sure we all had a great time! Hope to be there again next year!

Make sure to check out these outstanding award winning books!


Kevin SpecialK Daley: http://www.amazon.com/Never-Stopped-Smiling-inspirational-autobiography/dp/0692237682/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448570300&sr=8-1&keywords=kevin+daley

Amalie Jahn: http://www.amazon.com/Clay-Lion-Book-ebook/dp/B00BT3RJQU/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1448570349&sr=8-1

Inge-Lise Goss: http://www.amazon.com/Cost-Crude-Novel-Inge-Lise-Goss-ebook/dp/B00O4GUH0Y/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1448570414&sr=8-3&keywords=inge+lise+goss

Robert Ahanes: http://www.amazon.com/Goddess-Silence-Robert-Ahanes-ebook/dp/B00ODC8IDM/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1448570506&sr=8-1

Landau Eugene Murphy Jr: http://www.amazon.com/Americas-Talent-Winner-Landau-Eugene/dp/0938467670/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1448570601&sr=8-2&keywords=landau+eugene

Mark Wayne Adams (illustrator), Eddie Price (writer): http://www.amazon.com/Little-Miss-Grubby-Steps-Misadventure/dp/1596160268/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1448570649&sr=8-6&keywords=mark+wayne+adams

Andrea Barbosa: http://www.amazon.com/Holes-Space-Collection-Andrea-Barbosa-ebook/dp/B00IIZ9TJ2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448570745&sr=8-1&keywords=holes+in+space

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Books: Interview with Suspense Author Meg Hafdahl

It's October! And right on time for Halloween, we are lucky to have an interview with suspense/horror writer Meg Hafdahl! Her book, Twisted Reveries, launches later this month and you won't want to miss it! Let's get to know Meg and her work!

Meg, can you tell us something about your background and what motivates you to write?

I grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, but I moved to Duluth, MN in the 6th grade, so both feel like home to me. I’m lucky I get to be both Canadian and American! I now live in Rochester, MN a great place to raise my family. Since childhood I’ve wanted to be an author. I was a voracious reader from a young age and I think the love of books is what attracted me to being a storyteller. I also love movies, TV, great songs; any sort of medium for telling stories. And it allows me to live all these lives and sort out my own feelings and share my thoughts with the world. It’s the best job in the world.

I agree with you! And since writing is your favorite job in the world, when did you decide to publish and why?

As I entered adulthood it became very clear to me that hard work was the only path to publishing. I had two small children and I decided one day, when my youngest started preschool, that I would use my free time to get back to what I had loved to do before I was “mom”. I had lost my way a bit, and was focusing only on my kids and forgetting that writing was an essential part of me. So I worked very hard and received lots of rejections but decided not to let that stop me. Then eventually Inklings Publishing liked what I was producing and I felt it was a perfect match.

That's great! I'm glad you found Inklings. What do you like to write about, and who is your target audience?

I write horror/suspense. And I really like to write about complicated women. Not just “strong women”, because we’re not always strong, sometimes we’re weak too. So I love to introduce complicated, real women into these scary situations. And I like to add a dash of humor too when it fits. I believe my target audience is horror fans, suspense fans, women, and men too. I’m tired of this idea that men don’t read stories about women, it’s not true!

There's always a reader for every work, of course, and you're right - why not men, too? So, how many books have you published and which is your favorite? Why?

Twisted Reveries is my first book so naturally it is my favorite!!

I love the title and I'm sure it's a fantastic book, so tell us about it. What inspired you to write it?
Twisted Reveries is actually a collection of 13 short stories. It’s about women, young and old, going through something in their lives, perhaps a change or frustrating lack of change. And then this terrifying event comes down on them and some of them get stronger and kick ass, while others crack and struggle. I am a huge horror fan, I have been since I was very young. I used to take my allowance to Blockbuster (remember those?) to rent anything with Vincent Price in it. And I would stay awake to watch Tales from the Crypt or Dawn of the Dead, any horror I could get my little hands on. But as I grew I felt like there was a lack of female stories in horror movies and horror literature. Women were often being punished for being sexy or happy or just for being female. They were always running and screaming right into the killer’s arms. I really want to bring a female voice back to the dark and spooky. I mean we started it after all; with the haunting novels of the Bronte sisters, Mary Shelley, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and of course Shirley Jackson. I’m inspired everyday to tell cool, fun stories about real people!

Sounds terrific! Since you mention some authors, who is your favorite and has he/she influenced you in anyway? And do you have a favorite book?

Well, my favorite book is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I read it for the first time when I was about 15 and it changed my life. It has the most haunting, effective setting I have ever read and I think you’ll see in my writing that I’m always working to create a setting that really envelops the reader and I think it’s definitely because of Rebecca. Otherwise my favorite author is Stephen King. His worlds are so immersive, and more than that his command of character is just awesome. His characters are all so memorable and often funny and always real. I strive for that in my work.

Great authors to be influenced by! And what do you think is the hardest part of writing, besides striving to pen real characters?

Removing that critical eye for the first draft. For years I would write a sentence and then erase it. Write another sentence and erase it. I would literally end up with a blank page. It took me a long time to realize I needed to be in full creative mode to get it all down to actually create something. We can’t be editors the first time through, and that is still tough for me sometimes.

Now that we know more about you and your book, let us know where can we find your work.

Twisted Reveries is available to pre-order at www.inklingspublishing.com and at the book launch party at Gratifi (in Houston, TX - located at 302 Fairview) on Thursday Oct 29, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. and from now until Nov 1 the book will be on special pre-order pricing of $10. Regular price will be $14.95.  Readers can shop at  Inklings website for it at that special price. You can find more info on me and my work at www.meghafdahl.com and also like me on Facebook (Meg Hafdahl; Author) or follow me on twitter @MegHafdahl

That's great, the book launch party seems like so much fun! What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

You will get rejected. Often. And that’s okay. Just learn to live with it and work even harder. Listen to the criticism, not all of it, don’t change who you are, but be open to other viewpoints. Also, just WRITE!! Don’t just think about writing, don’t just talk about writing, but actually fit it into your real life.


Excellent advice! And is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

I’d love to hear from you all, if you’re an aspiring writer or just an avid reader, hit me up on FB or twitter or email on my website and I’d love to chat about reading/writing/horror. 



Meg, thank you for allowing us to interview you, it's been a great time and we really appreciate your time. Good luck with the book launch and we wish you great success!



To purchase Twisted Reveries by Meg Hafdahl, please click on the links below: 

 https://www.inklingspublishing.com/

 http://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Reveries-Mrs-Meg-Hafdahl/dp/0991021177/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1444791125&sr=8-1&keywords=twisted+reveries

Book Launch Party in Houston, TX:

Join us for the book launch party of Meg Hafdahl's first collection of short suspense-filled tales. Come dressed up for a chance to win "best costume" and the grand prize!

Location: Gratifi Kitchen at 302 Fairview Street. 

Complimentary parking is available for the whole block.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Press Release: Holes in Space is a 2015 Readers' Favorite Silver Medal Winner in Poetry - General category!

Reader's Favorite recognizes “Holes in Space” in its 2015 international book award contest.



The 2015 Readers' Favorite International Book Award Contest featured thousands of contestants from over a dozen countries.

Houston, TX. Readers' Favorite has become the fastest growing book review and award contest site on the Internet. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the “Best Websites for Authors” and “Honoring Excellence” awards from the Association of Independent Authors. They are also fully accredited by the BBB (A+ rating), which is a rarity among Book Review and Book Award Contest companies.

In addition to reviewing for some of the biggest names in the literary industry, as well as the first time independent author, they host a respected award contest which features entries from new authors to NYT best-sellers, as well as celebrities like Jim Carrey and Henry Winkler.

“Readers’ Favorite is proud to announce that "Holes in Space" by Andrea Barbosa is a Silver Medal Winner in the Poetry - General category in our 2015 International Book Award Contest.”







Learn more at https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/holes-in-space

Love, passion, lust, heartbreak, desolation, loneliness, celebration: these are some of the themes captured in this poetry collection; reflections of time, tiny holes in an endless open space, intriguing possibilities, where anything can be accomplished with the power of words. Stunning photographs illustrate this volume to help capture the essence of the verses.



Andrea Barbosa
Holes in Space
https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/holes-in-space
Twitter: @AndyB0810
http://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Barbosa/e/B00DGXPK6W

Friday, September 4, 2015

Lifestyle: Learning how to Make a Book Trailer on Udemy

Learn how to Make a Book Trailer!

According to Internet Retailer, April 2010, “a visitor who watched a product video is 85% more likely to make a purchase than if they hadn’t.” So, what are the advantages of producing a book trailer?

Book trailers give the author a new means of sharing their book on the social media, and that can benefit sales. I came across a great course on Udemy, by Petra Ortiz, that teaches how to make your own videos. Petra, the instructor, has been creating book trailers and promotional videos for 4+ years and she also provides voice over talent, digital and 'for-print' design work, and more. If you want to take advantage of book trailers as a means to increase sales and market your books, you should not miss this class. It's highly informative, and has lots of great hints and resources. The best thing is that, currently, there is a promotional coupon and you can take the 3 hour class for just $10 instead of $47, 79% off the published price. Excellent quality with great samples of videos that have already been created by the teacher, which makes it even more fun to watch and very educational. This course is meant for beginner level authors, publishers and students who are not familiar with creating videos, nor how to quickly, easily and inexpensively source the components to create one's videos.

Here are what some of the students who took it said:

 

"I published two books on amazon about 6 months ago and they are just sitting there. The details in this lecture are perfect for making some book tailors to draw attention to my books and get some downloads. I appreciate the royalty free music sections I do think adding the right music can make or break your trailer. I also really liked the examples of other trailers, I usually need to see a few examples to do things like this. That was perfect." 

 

"I found this course to be just what every indie author needs, a comprehensive tutorial to do-it-yourself book trailer production. It covers everything from the starting requirements to the music track, video footage, animations, and graphics, finishing with several video examples to jump start your creativity. What made this course stand out for me is that it really saves an author time and money."

  

"This course taught me many skills from creating graphics to place in trailers for my book, finding a great video platform, and creating HD video trailers!"





So what are you waiting for?
Here's the link: https://www.udemy.com/learn-how-to-make-powerful-high-quality-book-trailers/?couponCode=82115BT

Don't miss this opportunity to take this class at just $10. We don't know how long this will be on promotion, so hurry and sign up today, and start producing your own book trailers! It's well worth it!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Music: Interview with International Film Composer and Musician Sebastien Pan

Today, we have a wonderful guest in our blog, Sebastien Pan, a French film composer and musician.
We're excited to learn more about his music and the soundtracks he's creating for movies.



Sebastien, welcome! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
 
I am a film composer and professional guitarist born and raised in the east of France. After musical studies and following my graduation as professional musician in 2004, I taught guitar and played in few rock and metal bands. In the meantime, composing music took more and more space in my head, which brought me to think about « how could I live in writing music? » I had already many pieces of orchestral and non-orchestral compositions ready, thus I decided to find a way to use them.

I built a large portfolio in scoring student filmmakers works and other film and TV projects, which enabled me the following year to be hired as composer in-house at Imaginex Studios, a well-known post-production house in Asia. I moved there and gained experience in working on TV commercials, trailers, animated TV series and feature films.Thenceforth, I started working as freelancer and moved to New Zealand where I’m currently based.

What a wonderful career you're building! So, what drove you to start composing orchestral scores for films instead of getting into a band to play guitar after graduating as a professional guitarist?

Actually, I have always been into composing orchestral pieces, it was just something I liked to do for fun until I thought it could be nice to try to compose for pictures, so I proposed to students filmmakers to score their shorts films and that’s how it began. But I would never thought that one day I would score feature films for cinema or TV shows.
I sometimes miss to play in a band, but I will for sure do it again.

I hope you do. I'm sure you play exceptionally well. Who is your greatest influence and how does this influence helped shape your work?

I would say that John Williams and John Powell are my main influences, I learnt a lot in listening to their scores, how they orchestrate and how they focus on the melodies.

Definitely wonderful influences. John Williams has some epic scores! And talking about these great movie score composers, what is your favorite movie score ever and why?

There is two movie scores that I listen to a lot: « The Lord Of The Ring » trilogy by Howard Shore because this is the most epic soundtrack I’ve ever heard, all the themes sounds fantastic and everything in it is connected. The other one is John Powell’s « How to train your Dragon », full of powerful, rich and emotional themes.
(I could also mention film scores by Christopher Young, Danny Elfman and John Williams)


Too many to mention, for sure! All great choices, though. And what is your source of inspiration to compose?

When composing for motion pictures, the movie and its story are what inspires me, I simply imagine what I would like to hear if I was a member of the audience, what could enhance the picture and bring the emotion. The hardest part is to fit what I have in mind with the director and producers expectations, briefs and temp tracks (A temp track is an existing piece of music which is used in film production during the editing phase, it serves as a guideline for the mood or atmosphere the director is looking for in a scene). So I’m not totally free, it’s a mix between my feelings and the Production requirements. Once a cue is approved, I start to polish and improve the piece.
It’s actually the same thing in TV commercials and trailers.

I have more freedom in animated TV series, once we have found the right mood and music direction for the overall show, I’m free to create themes for characters, environments, situations etc… The inspiration here is guided by the personality of each characters and the plots of the episodes. The themes then will be tweaked to fit with the different moods we will find in the TV show.

From the work you've done with Imaginex Studios, what's your favorite and how did you compose it?

Working at Imaginex Studios
I like all the movies I scored with Imaginex, the team of producers and engineers there is great, they take on all the audio stuffs (sound design, foley, Voice over, mix..). It’s nice to have everything done at the same place.

I compose remotely because I’m traveling a lot. Imaginex set up a server where I can download and upload all the files related to the projects I’m working on.

What are you working on now and what are your plans for the future?

I just finished the score of an animated feature film which was released in theaters the 6th of August. I’m currently working on an animated TV series which will be broadcasted next year. There’s two other movies that I will begin to score before the end of the year, and some TV commercials.
I’m also moving regularly to Los Angeles to grow and reinforce my network.

 Sounds like fabulous plans! So, where can we sample your work?

You can hear samples of my work on my website: www.sebastienpan.com
I also wrote a 52 minutes score based on a French epic fantasy novel that you can listen to and download for free here: (see above also for full link).


That's a great score! What a wonderful job you're doing! Thank you so much for granting us this interview. Before we let you go, is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?

It’s a famous quote but I like it: Don’t dream your life, live your dreams.





You got it! Thank you once again, and live your dreams! We wish you success always!

To learn more about Sebastien Pan and his work, follow him on social media:
 
twitter: https://twitter.com/sebastien_pan website: https://www.sebastienpan.com      
soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/sebastien-pan/sets

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Book reviews: New Indie Authors to discover in short stories

Just finished reading a few short story anthologies from Indie authors which are worth mentioning. If you're looking for a new, fresh voice, choose one of these intriguing and witty books by one of the following authors. Be adventurous and pick a new book by an Indie author!

Short Stories:

Southern Gentleman, by Tony Burnett

Description: Set securely in the Southern psyche, the 13 stories blossom into quirky portraits of the male ego. These genre – bending tales find the sweet spot between literature and storytelling. A self-proclaimed foodie convinces himself he has women figured out, until he doesn't. Can a freshly orphaned teenager avoid becoming a ward of the state? A homeless veteran struggles for survival in his home country. Two folk artists use chainsaws to dual for the affections of a young runaway girl.
As an award winning poet, songwriter and finalist for the MIGHTY RIVER STORY AWARD, Burnett writes with a Southern populist voice.

Review: 5 stars: Well written and richly descriptive, each one of these short stories leaves you ready to dive into another to find out more about the interesting characters and plots that make this a witty, funny and enjoyable collection. From an illegal immigrant smuggling gone awry to an orphaned teen inheriting a fortune, this collection offers a variety of situations that are entertaining and fun to ready. Short stories lovers will delight in this master storyteller's book.

To buy, click on the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Q06FEVI/ref=pdp_new_dp_review



A Stocking Stuffer (KSHM Project book 5), by Henry Martin and photography by award winning photographer Karl Strand

Description: This is our first-ever horror/crime issue, and it features five short stories. Karl took it
upon himself to work the magic with the camera for this issue, hiring models and setting up scenes. He created spectacularly disturbing images that speak to his artistic abilities. This particular issue deals with the uncomfortable, dark side of humanity. Prepare yourself to be disturbed.

Review: 5 stars: Excellent collection of short stories by Martin. The content is graphic, violent and not for the faint of heart. Very well written and I can place it in the same category as some of the best literary fiction short stories I've read, comparable to the likes of Joyce Carol Oates. The photography by award winner photographer Karl Strand complements the pieces almost as if they were taken after the stories were written. What can I say? Martin gets better and better every time I read his work. Highly recommended. 


To buy, click on the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZG6NN34/ref=pdp_new_dp_review

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Flash Fiction: a first attempt at a short story with less than 500 words

I decided to stretch my writing skills and submit a piece for a contest, but I never thought the story would amount to anything. After all, I don't write flash fiction and it was hard enough to come up with a tale that made sense in less than 500 words. But I was surprised by my ability to finish it and by my courage to enter it in the competition. When I received a notification that the story received an Honorary Mention award, I was beside myself. Yes, I was proud to know I was able to challenge myself and conquer something for it. Mission accomplished.

My story is published at http://www.spiderroadpress.com/submissions/spiders-web-flash-fiction-prize/ along with other talented winners. And don't be shy about trying something new or accepting a challenge. You never know what it can lead you to. Check Spider Road Press' other award winning books, authors and opportunities for more challenging submissions.

Here's the award winning flash fiction piece - enjoy it!

Honorable Mention

Because the Sky Is Blue

by Andrea Barbosa

Lana picked up the broken pieces of crayons she had collected from under the tables when she was cleaning the restaurant, and spread them on her bedroom’s floor. A white piece of cardboard was ready to be used as the canvas for her next masterpiece.
“What do you do with these crayons?” She recalled the customer asking her. She had no idea she was being observed. The gentleman came to the restaurant often with his wife and two children. She had heard the waitresses mention he gave great tips because he was the president of some company and traveled a lot.
“I… I like to draw,” she had answered, a bit embarrassed by the unexpected contact with a customer. The janitorial staff was usually invisible, and had no business interacting with patrons.
“What do you draw?” The man had insisted on the conversation.
Lana had dug inside her jeans pocket and pulled a crumpled piece of paper. She showed it to the customer. The beautiful picture of Burj Al Arab resembling a sail boat in the middle of an island revealed itself.
“You draw places you want to travel to?” He had asked.
“Yes. One day I’ll travel. As sure as the sky is blue…”
“Dream, because the sky is blue,” she heard him saying.
Lana looked around her small bedroom with no windows. The walls were covered in the beautiful, colorful drawings she had made with the broken pieces of crayons, depicting cities she longed to visit: Paris, London, Venice, New York, even Athens. “One day, I’ll pack and go, because the sky is blue,” she thought to herself while coloring different hues of a blue sky on her makeshift canvas as the background for her own Burj Al Arab.
~~~
“It was an accident, I’m so sorry,” Lana apologized, while picking up the broken pieces of dinner plates peppering the floor of the restaurant. Waitresses were leading the customers away from the hazard. She was mortified, even more so because it happened in front of the only customer who had ever showed interest in her as a person, someone who hadn’t made fun of her dreams.
“Didn’t I tell you not to enter the dining room during busy hours?” The manager yelled at her with a menacing look. “What the hell happened?”
“I tripped over the broom when she was sweeping,” the waiter said in a shaky voice. He couldn’t believe he had dropped the dishes on the floor. Lana didn’t want to look up and continued to clean the mess she had caused while tears streamed down her face.
“You’re fired,” the manager said to her. “Finish cleaning this up and get the hell out. I don’t want to see your face around here no more.”
~~~
Lana marveled at the enchanting view. Like magic, the Burj Al Arab with its entire splendor seemed to be sailing by her bedroom window. She reached inside her purse and picked up the crumpled up picture of the Burj Al Arab she had shown to a customer five years ago, just a few days before the fatalistic day she was fired from the restaurant. She opened up her suitcase and took out the old cardboard canvases that used to decorate the walls of her barren bedroom. They all had red check marks on them. She found her drawing of Dubai and painted a red check mark on it.
“How do you like it?” The comforting, familiar voice asked her.
“I’m amazed! I can’t wait to have the children draw this, looking at the real model!”
“I believe they’re ready to do it,” he said, while his two children ran inside the room in excitement. “You’re the best art teacher. I’m so glad you accepted the offer to work for us.”
Lana smiled at him and hugged the children. She looked out the window again and whispered to herself the words she heard from him long ago. “Dream, because the sky is blue.”



Thursday, June 11, 2015

Books: Interview with talented Author Carol Ann Kauffman

June! Summer time and a great opportunity to pick up new books and do some reading by the pool! Let's introduce to you author Carol Ann Kauffman. Today we interview her to find out a bit more about her books and her background. What about picking up one of her great books for a lazy summer afternoon reading by the pool?


Carol, tell us where are you from and what motivates you to write?


I’m from northeast Ohio, the gray land, the flyover zone.  I honestly do not know.  It’s like eating and sleeping and other primal necessities that seem to be hard-wired into me.
Seems you were born to be a writer, so when and why did you begin writing?
With me, reading and writing have always gone hand in hand. I wrote as a child. I won an essay contest in middle school, and wrote an article for a teen magazine in high school. But college, job, life got in the way and I didn’t pick up writing as a serious endeavor again until I retired.  
That's great, reading and writing do have to go hand in hand, and I'm glad you decided to write when you retired! Do you have a favorite author and has he/she influenced your writing in any way?
My favorite authors are M.C. Beaton (Hamish MacBeth and Agatha Raisin series), Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum), Sue Grafton (A is for Abili, B is for…), Dan Brown, to name a few.  I love indie author Loretta Laird, whose Passers trilogy is a Tolkien-like saga of a princess and a passer, love and duty. I like an author who drags me into the book no matter how I am feeling when I sit down to read, one who can make me put everything else aside and just read.
And what do you think is the hardest part of writing?
I tend to suffer from too many subplots.  I see twists and turns at every corner. One publisher wanted to divide my novel into three separate books.  I wasn’t thrilled with the idea, so I declined.  Though a few subplots are good, too many can certainly strangle a good story. Simplifying my story line is the hardest part for me.
Definitely not an easy task. With all your experience, having written several books, what is the best advice you would give to inspiring authors?
Write every day.  Don’t let the people who haven’t succeeded squash your success.  Today, everybody’s a critic.  Do not get discouraged.  And this is a hard one: when someone is giving your book criticism, emotionally detach yourself from the book and try to glean something constructive from them. Discard the snide remarks and wrinkled noses. Find something they said that you can use to improve your craft. Someone used the term “too trashy” for one of my books.  I howled with delight! My work is not sexual explicit or graphically violent, and most rejection letters said I was too tame, for example “this is something one might find on Mary Poppins nightstand” or “use a more modern descriptive phrase for man part”, or, my favorite, “throw a few fucks in, young people say fuck a lot.” So, if you can’t find something constructive, then find something amusing.
What are you working on now?
I have a new book out with BTGN (Books To Go Now, out of Seattle, WA). It’s part of a five-book anthology called The Monday Mystery Society. It takes place in a small Ohio town, where members of the book club find more than their next favorite author. Each book in the series revolves around a mystery novel. It’s an exciting concept. My book is called Daisy’s Dilemma.
Also, Sea Witch came out in May.  Life extraterrestrial life scientist Dr. Laura Martin hires a new assistant, Dr. Scott Conner. Mayhem insures, mainly because of the mermaid/siren/monster in the basement.
And I have another installment in the Time After Time series that is due out in July, called MacKalvey House. Young American woman/older British gentleman find love and heartache.
THEN the sequel to Madison’s Christmas is due out November 1st. This one, Christmas at Star Lake, picks up almost a year after Madison’s Christmas ended, when Madison discovers the deaths of her father and best friend were murders.
Do you research different topics to write your books? What have you learned from your experience as a writer?
Oh, absolutely. For Sea Witch I had to learn the naval officer rankings and the geography of southern France. I also studies the folktales from the Nordic countries about hooked sea monsters, as well as old tales of mermaid and sirens.
The biggest thing I learned as an author was to make a table with columns and rows as you are writing, noting chapter number and title, page numbers, character POV (point of view), location, month or time of year action is taking place, new characters added, etc.  BELIEVE ME, you will save time and aggravation not flipping and scrolling to find specifics.
Where do you get inspiration for your books?
Anywhere. Everywhere. The bridal section on the newspaper. The police blotter. Lyrics from a song on the radio. Kids playing at the dog park. Something that happened to me personally. A long drive in the park. The people screaming at each other in the hotel room next door. 
Thank you so much for your time and to let us know more about you! Much success with your books and new releases! 
For more information about Carol and her books:
Carol Ann Kauffman is an author from Ohio. She is a retired teacher from a local school district, where she taught for thirty-five years. She has worked as a printer, managed a department store office, worked in an insurance agency, retail sales, and automotive. She was a Red Cross volunteer. She loves to travel; her favorite places being Italy, and Aruba, which show up in her novels quite a bit. She loves to play Bridge and to garden. She grows African violets and orchids. She loves dachshunds and trains. She is the author of the Time After Time series, which follows a pair of lovers through their many lifetimes together. Her novels, classified as romantic action adventures with a sci-fi/ fantasy twist, are about life, love, loss, and lunacy. 

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Carol-Ann-Kauffman/e/B0076OMJY8/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1382533698&sr=1-2-ent
Twitter:  @Cay47
tsu: CAKauff
Cold Coffee Café: coldcoffeecafe.com

 


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Books: On Mother's Day, give a gift she can open again and again...

This Mother's Day, celebrate it by giving a gift she can open again and again: a book! Romance, thriller, mystery, sci-fi, biography, paranormal, western, erotica, poetry, memoir... there are different genres for different reading tastes. You can find a few selections below. Browse your local bookstore for more ideas or visit an online bookstore - there's still time to order, and if you buy an ebook, it can be delivered via email to your mom's email address on Mother's day as well. Enjoy!



Happy Mother's Day!


Monday, April 13, 2015

Music: Interview with talented singer and musician Jef Joslin (California Soul)

What I love most about having an Indie blog is discovering new artists and sharing their talent! Our newest music interview is with talented singer and musician Jef Joslin. And, definitely, his music needs to be shared and find its place in world! Hear and learn more about Jef here!

Jef, tell us a little about yourself, where are you from and what is your background?
 
I am a southern fella originally from TN. I grew up with a natural inclination towards art and music, but spent most of my years playing sports. It wasn't until my latter years of high school in 2003-04 that I started to really dig into writing and recording. I received a full scholarship as a quarterback and was then that I reached a crossroads and made the switch to music as a career pursuit. 
 
That's a big switch, from sports to art! I'm sure glad you did it, because your music is awesome.
What genre do you consider yourself and who is your greatest influence?

I refer to my music as California soul. It's like if Stevie Wonder and Brian Wilson had a baby. Both Stevie and the beach boys are massive influences in what I do. Anything Motown, James Taylor, John Mayer, etc...
 
It has a really nice, cool beat. Do you compose your songs? If so, what is your source of inspiration to compose? 

Yes. Anything that moves me as an experience. Deeper truths of life, love, struggle, hope etc. I try and pull from real experiences, real raw emotions. My main focus is to be a mirror for the listener. Something they can see themselves in and their true identity as beautifully unique individuals. 
 
That's great inspiration! When did you start singing/playing?

Started singing as early as I could open my mouth, but was a bit shy for a while to do it publicly. Started playing piano at 4 and guitar at 10. Didn't really start to write and perform publicly until my latter high school years, expect for the occasional school/church vocal competitions in elementary/middle school. 

Seems like your calling for music preceded your talent for sports! And I'm sure your fans are really happy about that. Talking about fans, what do you enjoy the most between the interaction with your fans? 

I love relating to them on a personal level. I want to remind them of who they are and their potential for accomplishing anything they believe in. It's always a blessing to be given a platform in which to tell people how loved they truly are.

Jef's new album cover
You're really motivational too! And what are your plans for the coming year? 

I am releasing a new album this year, a few music videos and also starting to record the next one which is already a complete thought. Completely written and formulated. Very excited about that one. By far my best work to date. 
 
We can't wait to hear! I bet it is. And we need to know where can we find your music!

Any digital outlet - itunes, Spotify, Google play, Youtube etc... Also on my website jefjoslin.com
 
Excellent! Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Just keep doing whatever it is that makes you happy. Believe in your dreams. They already believe in you. 

Thanks, Jef, it's been a pleasure to feature you and your music! Good luck to you and much success!
 
 
To find more about Jef and interact with him: