Friday, 27 May 2011

New Beginnings - Proofs, Paperbacks and Freebies

Hi everyone

Almost ready!
It's been a while since I posted, but that's for a good reason. I was gearing myself up to read through the proofs of my book. I hadn't sat and read it all the way through for a very long time, and I can't remember the last time I read it through on paper. So it felt like a new read all over again, and I did enjoy it. I guess that's a good thing.

The amazing thing is, despite the official publication month being January 2012, I will have copies in my hands earlier than that, and possibly even by July. I am very exciting about holding the actual book in my hand. I have got such a thrill from seeing the anthologies I have been involved with in print, I have no idea how I will react when I see a box full of books with my name on the front. Perhaps I should warn the locals.

After I finished reading it through yesterday, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has been so supportive in recent months. If it wasn't for my online network of friends I wouldn't be in this position now, it's as simple as that. I decided to have a giveaway, and this will remain open until I hold the paperback copies in my hand.

When I have my copies, I will see how many people have clicked 'like' on my Facebook Page and if it's over 200 I will pick one of the people following at random to receive a free signed copy.

Thank you so very much.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Launch of 'Nothing But Flowers' and '100 Stories for Queensland' on Tuesday 17 May 2011

On Tuesday 17th May there will be two books launched, both fund-raising anthologies for the people in Queensland who were hit by the recent floods. Please visit Amazon on 17th May as we are having an 'Amazon Chart Rush' to try and gain maximum exposure for the books and raise as much money as possible for the people who need it.

On a personal level, I have a short story in 'Nothing But Flowers'. It's called 'On The Corner of Clerk Street' and I think it's one of my best pieces of writing to date, not least because of the editorial imput of Jodi Cleghorn.

I was a voluntary reader for '100 Stories for Queensland' and I can guarantee there is something in this book for everyone. I can't wait to read the final 100 stories. (I have a story in the contributors selection at the back as well.)

Thank you for supporting the people of Queensland.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Friday Flash: Do You?


Do you?

Do you ever stare at a starry sky and wonder what your place is in all of this?

Do you hear the choirs of birdsong in your garden and imagine the meaning of each tune?

Or is the walk along this journey enough? Are you that important that none of it matters?

Sometimes I sit on a bench in a park, blowing smoke rings and watching the children play. They look at me like I’m a curiosity. “Mad Mr Jeffrey is at it again,” they whisper.

Do you look at a weathered face and wonder about the memories behind the creases?

I wouldn’t like to imagine how these infants would feel if they could read my mind and see the images that play there over and over. Distant times, faraway places; the recall as vivid as a show on TV.

Do you look at a hat, almost a century old, and wonder where it has been; picture the heads it has sat upon?

Would you put a message in a bottle? Do you think there is someone who would read it? Or instead, would you wrap your coat around you and leave the shoreline?

Do you think perhaps, one day, you’ll look up at a starry night, and finally realise?

Friday, 6 May 2011

It's Only A Number: The Aftermath

Setting up a competition, I thought would be fun. I thought perhaps, a couple of people may enter it.

I was bowled over by everyone's reaction. Not just the word-spreading, of which there must have been a lot as checking my stats today I discovered the initial competition blog post has had nearly 800 viewings in total to date.

I was so impressed with the support shown to the writers not least by other writers. When I published the shortlist, a number of people who hadn't made it were the first to congratulate those who had.

I was delighted by the excited tweets I received and the feedback I was sent was wonderful - especially by those who said I should host another competition which I definitely will at some point.

But when it comes to the top three, there were three lovely winners, it has to be said.

In 3rd place, Simon said he'd happily receive an eBook. Simple, and I was grateful for the lack of trip to the Post Office!

In 2nd place, when I asked Aaron which book he'd like his answer was he'd prefer the book that contained the story of mine I like the most. What a lovely answer! (I'm sending him Nothing But Flowers.)

And in 1st place was Anthony who has just told me to donate the prize money to a charity of my choice. I have made a donation to the fund supporting Steven Harris who is recovering from a very serious car accident. I don't know Steven personally but I have been following Steven's progress since the accident, if any of you would like more information about him, please do let me know.

Three cheers for my top three! And if you haven't done so already, please do read their stories and leave a comment if you like them.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Interview with Kathryn Brown

An extract from the blurb for Discovery at Rosehill reads: "Finding your dream home is difficult enough, but what if you found it and then discovered it was haunted?

When The Reverend Marcus Calloway introduces himself to her, a friendship develops and Camilla realises she could at last have found her true love. But all is not what it seems when further spirit contact confirms that Marcus harbours a guilty secret.

Spirit communication, manifestations and an eerie atmosphere all add to Camilla’s new surroundings as she tries hard to decipher mixed messages and a life she never knew existed. An open mind is all she asks for as her relationship with Marcus grows and the secrets of Rosehill are discovered with help from her relatives of a world beyond our own."


Discovery at Rosehill is the first paranormal romance novel I've read and I wasn't sure what to expect, but I enjoyed it so much that I invited the author, Kathryn Brown, to my blog for an interview. So, without further ado:


Hello Kathryn, and welcome to my blog!

How did you come up with the idea for Discovery at Rosehill?

I wanted to write about ghosts. My life contains many of them and one in particular, my dad, made me realise it was time to put pen to paper and just get on with it. The spirit world is a big part of who I am and I wanted to share that with the world. Or at least my readers! Inspiration also came in the form of my farm; a beautiful country dwelling set high on a hill amongst stunning panoramic landscape. The house is haunted and just like Camilla (the main character), I felt drawn to live here and make a discovery about who I am.

Romance plays a big part in the story, too. Although I’m not romantic I did want to make my main characters that way, particularly Marcus, the reverend. The character of Ross is based on an old-flame of mine, someone I was totally in love with but I guess we all have a few skeletons!


As the readers of your blog will already know, you live and work on a farm and have a daughter with Autism, which together must take up a lot of time. How did you find the time to actually write a book?

Good question! It took three years from planning to eventually writing those wonderful words, The End. The editing took six months. But unfortunately, I took about seven months off last year after my epilepsy flared up and caused me to have continuous seizures. I had to limit time on the computer and lost motivation to write. Eventually, I was put on different medication and decided to knuckle down again, get it finished, wrapped up, before I needed to find an editor.

Looking after Amy, my eleven year old daughter, is an incredibly rewarding aspect of my life. Her autism doesn’t faze me these days, even though she can often be quite challenging. I suppose I’m used to this way of life; daughter, writing, husband and farm, probably in that order! I wrote this book when Amy was in school, but when it came to the editing it became an evening job, too. I’m afraid I feel ashamed to say I neglected my motherly duties somewhat and let my husband take over occasionally. They have both supported me tremendously.


Is Rosehill based on an actual place?

Oh yes; my home! When I first moved into this house there were so many rooms to renovate. I’ve done the house up gradually but there are still rooms to do. The cellars in this house are the same cellars Camilla talks about in Rosehill. Creepy, damp, dark and full of cobwebs. But incredibly atmospheric at the same time. Just perfect!


Have you had any paranormal experiences yourself?

Too many to mention. Many of the paranormal experiences Camilla tells us about at Rosehill, are my own. I obviously “beefed” them up and fictionalised them to add a bit of excitement but many are taken from my home.

My dad is around me and makes sure I know it whenever he feels I need him. Very often I experience tobacco smoke and the smell of TCP; my late father-in-law who lived in this house all his life, smoked like a chimney and used TCP on a daily basis. I also smell pipe smoke, sometimes very strongly, and my husband’s grandfather who bought this place in 1919, smoked a pipe like there was no tomorrow!

Not long after I first moved here, I was sat in a lounge, which is now our dining room and got a very strong whiff of Vanderbilt perfume. It’s got quite a distinctive aroma and I knew immediately what it was. The following day, I asked my father-in-law who was still alive back then, could he remember what perfume his wife used to wear and his response, without hesitation was, “Vanderbilt. It was her favourite.”

We have a beautiful gilt-framed mirror on the half landing which was put up in the 1800’s by previous occupants of the house. The stair case is original, from when the house was built in 1750 and I have often seen figures in the mirror, gliding up and down stairs. Sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly sensitive, I like to run my hands up and down the banister and feel energy. It’s the most incredible feeling; like having an out-of-body experience, as though I was living in this house in a previous life, perhaps even as the Lady of the House.

With regard to the romance in the book, I love the way you keep us guessing about who Camilla will end up with. Without giving anything away for people who haven’t read the book, did it ever cross your mind to use an alternative to the way it turned out?

Of course! The first draft was very much a love-triangle but it made Camilla sound too much like a tramp, and as my editor pointed out quite rightly, it didn’t fit her character. I didn’t know who she would end up with until half way through the book. I couldn’t make up my mind. I’m glad I keep readers guessing because I kept myself guessing, too!


Do you have any plans for another novel in the future?

Absolutely. I’m hoping to get started on it when Amy goes back to school on 3rd May. I was thinking about a sequel to Discovery at Rosehill and it has been suggested that it could be something worth thinking about. But right now, I have already started to plan a romance, without the paranormal this time, but perhaps a little mystery. I do love a triangle in a relationship, so it might have that, too. I’ve already thought of my main characters names, Tom and Lydia. It’ll be written in 3rd person this time, whereas Rosehill was written in 1st person. But I’m not going to give myself a deadline; my life dictates that I just do what I can. Keeping up with my blog can often be a full-time job but I don’t want to neglect it whatever I do.

Thank you for visiting my blog!

I am delighted to say that Kathryn is offering a signed and dedicated paperback copy of her book to one reader. All you have to do is put a comment below to be in with a chance of winning. This will remain open until 5pm UK time on Thursday 12th May when we will select a winner at random.



Find out more about Kathryn via the following links:

Watch the book trailer: YouTube


Kathryn's Paranormal Blog where she publishes guest posts of paranormal experiences: www.marvellousmable.blogspot.com


Buy Discovery at Rosehill direct from Kathryn via her blog and you will receive a signed copy

Buy in Paperback:    Amazon.com
                                    Amazon.co.uk
                                    Ebay.co.uk
                                    Lulu.com

Kindle:                       Amazon.com
                                    Amazon.co.uk

Kathryn is on facebook: www.facebook.com/CrystalJigsaw
Kathryn is on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CrystalJigsaw
Add the book on Goodreads

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Spotlight on Indie Bookshops: The Wallingford Bookshop.

We are blessed here in Oxfordshire with many Indie bookshops in the small market towns surrounding Oxford.

The Wallingford Bookshop is a very small indie bookshop but it has enormous character. When I first had stories published in 50 Stories for Pakistan and Shambelurkling and Other Stories, I asked if they would be interested in stocking the books and there was no hesitation. Within a week there were copies on the shelves.

I went back today. In all honesty, I was going to ask if they would like me to take my books away. The shop is so small there is no stock room; everything they have is on the shelves, so I thought they may want to free up the space.

Imagine my delight when I was greeted by name, and then: "We have sold all your books, please can you let us have some more?" I then mentioned the other anthologies I have since been involved with, and they are going to stock those as well.

THEN another lady just happened to be in the shop who is thinking of setting up a literature festival for childrens' books. So the owner/manager introduced me: "Rebecca is an author..." (God, I am, aren't I?) and we swapped contact details as well.

What a fantastic visit that was!


Follow The Wallingford Bookshop on Twitter at: @wallingfordbook

Sunday, 1 May 2011

It's Only A Number: The Winner!!!

I am absolutely delighted to announce the winner of my competition. When I first read through all of the submissions, this story made me take a sharp intake of breath and then think afterwards. I am sure you will agree that it is a very worthy winner.

Congratulations to Anthony Anderson. I will be in contact about your prize.


IT’S ONLY A NUMBER
It at had been a long and tortuous journey from Warsaw. Cramped, freezing and distressing.

 The weak and sickly ten years old Pavel would never grow to comprehend the place ‘Auschwitz’; or fully understand the true  meaning of the sign over the gates at the camp’s entrance, ‘Arbeit Macht Frei (Work makes one free). Pavel had hoped he would find the comfort and warmth he so desperately sought since leaving Warsaw.

Stripped naked and shivering, the frightened boy looked down at his striped clothing, which he still held tightly in his hands. He raised his shirt to his lips and kissed the yellow star which reminded him of the sun and warmed him from within.

Standing in front of the large metal door, waiting to be cleansed and provided with warm clothing, Pavel looked up towards the face of the kind soldier in the grey uniform, with his blond hair and his iridescent blue eyes. Pointing to the marks emblazoned across his naked chest, Pavel asked ‘What is this?’

The kind soldier looked down on Pavel, gently resting his palm on his head. Pavel felt comforted.

He replied softly, ‘It’s only a number.’




About the Author

Anthony Anderson is a Civil Engineer and Business Advisor, who has recently started to devote some of his spare time to writing. Anthony has recently completed a novel, ‘Adventure into Darkness’ which is a dark adventure story for the YA age group, and is currently working on a detective novel. Anthony is a member of the Walk Café Book Club and also a musician who has played as lead guitarist in a number of rock bands.


Anthony is new to Twitter and will be tweeting as @TonyGray555 Please give him a warm welcome!

It's Only A Number: In Summary

Before I announce the winner, I would like to thank my judges, Rachel T, Andy, Geraldine, Curly, Donna, Matt and Rachel S. They definitely had their work cut out, but I think they have done a wonderful job.

Thank you to also to all of the writers who entered the competition, I was overwhelmed by the response and enjoyed running this competition so much, I will definitely host another one in the future.

Please do take a look at all of the six stories I have posted today. Comments are very welcome, and I am sure the authors will appreciate them if you like their stories.

Thank you all for reading too!

It's Only A Number: 2nd Place

The second place story as chosen by my judges is Clock Watching by Aaron Conaway:

Congratulations to Aaron!
For your prize you get to chose a copy of one of these books. I will be in touch by email.

 
Clock Watching
I dreamt I was outside.
In the dream I sat beneath the large oak in our front yard, barefoot in the grass.
Whatever is the matter?” asked the oak.
“It’s my birthday tomorrow.”
Wonderful.  You should have cake.”
“But…I’m another year older.”
Indeed.  Per the custom.”
“That makes me worry.” I pulled at the grass with my toes.
Worry?  What is ‘worry’?” the oak questioned, swaying its branches.
“I’m aging.”
That is worry?  Worry is a simple word.”
“You don’t understand.”
“Hence my question.  What is to worry about a birthday?  It’s just another number.”
“It’s a bigger number.”
I see.  How many full moons have you seen?”
“I – what?”
I have seen more than three thousand, personally.  How many times have you played in the rain?”
I tried to remember even the last time I’d played in the rain…
How many times have you said ‘I love you’ and meant it?”
I don’t know.”
“If you are going to only dignify certain numbers in your life special significance, might I suggest more worthwhile numbers than the passing of time?  Only a fool watches the clock while hearing a wondrous tale.”
There the dream ended and I woke.


About the Author
You can read more from Aaron at www.timberhaven.wordpress.com and www.mgideon.wordpress.com.
Aaron is on Twitter as: @M_Gideon

It's Only A Number: 3rd Place

Congratulations to Simon Kewin whose story The Number Six came in at third place.

Simon, I will be in touch via email about your prize!

The Number Six

The young doctor explains what it all means, her face earnest, compassionate. Dan soon stops hearing her words. She wears a fine gold necklace with a single hexagonal diamond that glints as she talks. The sort of thing a lover buys. She has a whole life outside the hospital, of course. A whole future. Fun, friends, family.

Dan picks out the key word from what she tells him. It’s just another number from many but it’s the only one that matters. Six eggs in half a dozen, six branches of a snowflake, six legs on an insect, six months left to live. He absorbs the word while she carries on explaining, feeling the number settling into his brain, becoming a part of him. His mind becomes a clock-face, the long-hand already swept half-way round to midnight.

She stops speaking and looks at him. Has he anything he’d like to ask? He shakes his head. He has all he needs to know. He smiles and thanks her for her time as he stands to leave.




About the Author
Simon writes fiction, poetry and computer software, although usually not at the same time. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. He lives in the UK with Alison and their two daughters, Eleanor and Rose. He blogs about writing at http://spellmaking.blogspot.com and can also be found on Twitter as @SimonKewin.

In those brief moments he likes to refer to as his spare time, he is learning to play the electric guitar. He generally finds turning it up loud helps.

It's Only A Number: 4th Place

The top four stories were placed highly by four of my seven judges, and it was very close between them.

Congratulations to Lisamarie Lamb, who came in at 4th place with this wonderful story:



It’s Only A Number

It's only a number, I thought as I put down the receiver, biting my lip. A two instead of a three and my entire life had just changed. I'd been dialling a number so well known that I hadn't been looking at what I was doing, and then I heard an unknown man’s voice. 

I glanced down at the display and there it was, the wrong number. 

"Right," the man said before I could speak, business-like. "I've got what you wanted. A million, used notes. Difficult, but I did it. I'll put it where we discussed. You just need to collect it and leave my daughter."

What the hell had I just stumbled on? It had to be someone playing about. I stayed quiet, waiting for the next bit. It came soon enough. "Oh, I see. I get it. Just make sure you're there, at the station, locker 490. No one else is involved, like I promised, like you asked. I'll be there at 10pm." 

And that was it. I had a choice. Collect the money and let the child presumably die. Or tell the police and potentially save a life. It was a tough call.



About the Author
Lisamarie Lamb lives in Kent with her husband and baby daughter. Lisamarie self-published her first novel Mother's Helper recently, and is now working on a collection of short horror stories to publish later in 2011.

Lisamarie blogs at The Moonlit Door and tweets as @lisamarie20010


It's Only A Number: 5th Placed Story: Forty by Pete Domican


Forty

I can't move but I can breathe, for a while at least.  I know people are looking for me but the air is running out and I'm losing body heat.  How many minutes left; twenty, thirty minutes; forty at most?
'Forty, it's only a number' I said a few weeks ago.  'Life begins at forty'.  I wasn't sure I believed it but I said it anyway.  I should be at home surrounded by friends and drinking champagne.   Instead I wanted a 'challenge'.  Now the only thing on ice is me.  I remember the avalanche hurtling towards me and a fall that lasted forever. 
It's so cold. I don't know how long it's been; I can't see my watch.  What are my odds; twenty, thirty, forty to one?  I'm feeling tired but I know I shouldn't sleep.
It's warmer now.  I can see myself.  The room is packed with people and equipment.  I'm the centre of attention like a birthday boy at a party but there is no cake nor candles.   I am wired to machines.  They are worried about my heart rate.  I don't need to look at the screen.  Some numbers stay with you, for life.

It's Only A Number: 5th Placed Story: The Returnee by Paula Kennelly

The Returnee

“Number 79,847,784,197,125,143,121 returning.”
The monotonous mechanical voice broke into the woman’s thoughts. She turned round to look at the returns pod and as the device lit up, she looked at the swirling mass inside. She’d been doing this for as long as she could remember and every time one came back she felt a deep sadness she couldn’t understand. As she transferred the mass of energy to the diagnostics cabinet she wondered how the intended recipients felt. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong with the returnee so she carefully put it back in the holding chamber for later despatch.
            “Some things are not meant to be” she said to herself. She looked at the files to see where this one should have gone. London, England. due 20 July 2011, single girl, 19. 
            “Poor girl…” she sighed, wondering why she felt the girl’s loss so sharply when she didn’t know her. She saw so many returnees that she couldn’t get emotional about it or she wouldn’t be able to do her job.
            “It’s just another number, Gaia,” she told herself “nothing more, not to you.” and she prepared the next batch of despatches, fighting back the tears.




It's Only A Number: Joint 5th Place

There were six stories fighting for the top slots and because of that I wanted to mention each of them, even though there are only prizes for the top 3.

The stories that ended up in joint 5th place are:
Forty by Pete Domican
and
The Returnee by Paula Kennelly

Well done both of you!

You can follow both of these authors on Twitter:
@PeteDomican and @peekaywrites

It's Only A Number: Judgement Day!

Today's the day I will be announcing the winners of my competition.

It has been so exciting seeing my judges' choices as they have come back.

Obviously I have read all of the stories through myself. I am delighted with the judges' decisions and I have to say the voting has been very tight. So much so that the final sets of votes from my 7th judge will swing it.

There is also an obvious difference when a story competition is judged by readers and not writers. I have found this an enormous pleasure as ultimately writers are writing for readers and it's very interesting to see their favourite stories of the submissions. I have had several comments back from my judges saying they have spotted something perhaps gramatically incorrect in a story, but still saying it's their favourite.

This is exactly why I chose to have a panel of readers judging my competition.

See you back here later when I prolongue the agony excitement by announcing the winners and runners up in a series of blog posts.