Emily Read…The Fairytale Keeper by Andrea Cefalo

 Emily is our Goodreads pal and all-round lovely lady! :) And, as you’ll know from our side-bar, her blog Confessions of a Bookaholic is one of our favourites. Throughout August and September, we will be featuring some of her book reviews on Aside from Writing so you can get to know her too!

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Cover Rating: 3.5/5   Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis: Snow White was a pet name her mother had given her, but her mother’s dead now. Adelaide hates that name anyway. A rampant fever claimed Adelaide’s mother just like a thousand others in Cologne where the people die without Last Rites and the dead are dumped in a large pit outside of the city walls. Adelaide’s father is determined to obtain a funeral for his wife, but that requires bribing the parish priest, Father Soren. When Soren commits an unforgivable atrocity, he pushes Adelaide to her breaking point, but if she seeks justice against the cruel priest, she risks sacrificing everything: her father, her friends, her first love, and maybe even her life.

I was kindly sent a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. To be fair I was slightly hesitant about starting this book because I’ve never read a fairy tale retelling before but I was pleasantly surprised. The book centers on Adelaide aka Snow White after her mothers death. She is refused a funeral for her mother and after that they begin to see all of the flaws that the church has. And there are many. Back when this is set the church was a big part of life so you can see how this would be a problem. Throughout the book there was sections from well know fairy tales and then the chapter afterwards would have some kind of connection to that story. This aspect I found especially interesting. The writing in this book was old fashioned but it was meant to be so it suited perfectly.

The main character Adelaide, I found to be quite annoying at times but in no way as annoying as a lot of other heroines. She won’t be on my top ten anytime soon. I did like some things about her though. She was brave and didn’t need a guy there to hold her hand all the time. I loved her best friend Ivo. He was really sweet! I loved how Adelaide and him made such a great team and he tried to look after her. One person I didn’t like was her father. He just seemed to hopeless to me.

I really did enjoy this book even though apart from her appearance I don’t know what the connection to Snow White was. Maybe we will find out in later books. As a whole this book was a good, quick read that I finished in one sitting. I would recommend this book to fairytale and historical fiction lovers. I would give this book 3.5/5 Stars and look forward to the second one in the series. Thanks to the author for letting me read it before it’s release.

My Favorite Quote
“Snow White is a name I do not enjoy.  It is a term of endearment from my mother, but a phrase of torment used by the artisan and merchant children who mock me for my fair skin and black hair.  I would never tell mother for it would hurt her to know, and while I have no love for the name, Snow White, I do have love for the way she speaks it.”

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Read Emily’s interview with us here!

Goodread Group: Books, Blogs, Authors and More

 http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/62777.Books_Blogs_Authors_and_More

My blog: http://emily-confessionsofabookaholic.blogspot.com/

Writing 101…Pricing Your Books

You were careful to choose great words for your book. You sweated it out through the editing process. You went through the formatting line by line to make certain every page is perfect. If you don’t price your books the right way, you’re going to watch that hard work go to waste. If you want readers, you’ve got to take a hard look at your book pricing.

How Much is Your Writing Worth?

A lot of factors are at play when writers are pricing their books. For any given book, whether it’s a short story of a full-length novel, every page represents hours of work in formatting, writing, editing and reading. If authors charged by the hour, every book would cost hundred of dollars.

But that’s not really feasible for the readers, is it? As a writer, you’re expected to love your book. You’ve poured soul into it; sweat, blood, tears, heartache. And, if you’re like many writers, you probably want to do nothing but write full-time. It’s easy to get lost in the math. Charge five bucks, sell a million copies — just imagine those numbers for a little while. Your book is a huge piece of your life, your heart and your skill. And you’ve got to forget all that. The price of your book isn’t a reflection of your skill or how much you put into your work. It’s a reflection of the market.

So the first thing you have to do when pricing your book is cut any and all attachment you have to it. Forget about the fact that you’re an author, that this single book represents all your hopes and dreams and everything you’ve worked toward for years. None of that matters, and honestly your readers don’t really care. They’re looking for a story, and it shouldn’t be one about the book that costs way too much. How much is your writing worth? Much more to you than to anybody else. Keep that in mind when you go to set a price, because now is not the time for sentiment.

The Book Market

You don’t determine the price of your book — the market does. Once upon a time, every book was hand-bound and printed on vellum. Making a single page was a big process, and books were costly. Today, they’re churned out every single day by automated machines on huge reams of paper that cost less than a penny a page. They are everywhere, and that’s just the printed books. The ebook market is getting bigger every day, and in the time you’ve been reading this post more ebooks have been published. You can’t navigate online without bumping into seventeen of them on your way to your favorite sites.

So if the first rule is to forget about the feelings you have for your book, the second is remind yourself that you are not alone. Yes, your book is probably special — let the content reflect that, not the price. There are way too many other books out there, and yours has got to be competitive.

You should know, by now, in which genre your book belongs. Before you set a price and publish your book, take the time to look around the virtual bookstores. Find bestsellers in your genre, and look for other indies in your genre, and find out what they’re charging. You cannot charge as much for your self-published book as the traditionally published books. Your work is probably just as good, but you don’t have the same name recognition or cachet as those big publishing houses and their authors. Know your market. When you self-publish, you need to take your pricing cues from the other indies — not just the other authors.

99 Cents

A great many indie books (mine included) cost 99 cents. This is a very common price in the ebook market, and you’re likely to find that many indies in your genre charge this amount for their work. It’s always good to stay competitive in your own market, and you don’t want to stand out by charging too much for your book (because readers have so many much cheaper choices), but you also have to be aware of the 99 cent stigma.

Self-publishing in general has a bit of a bad reputation among some readers, for good reason. I have found many indie books that are poorly edited, terribly formatted and otherwise riddled with errors — but I have also found some truly great indie books I’d be happy to read again. But because of all the bad apples in the bunch, many readers have been burned by indies. Some avoid self-published books altogether as a result, but others try to avoid the bad by avoiding 99 cent books. There are even self-published authors who turn their noses up at 99 cent books. To some, they are thought of as cheap and not worth reading. If it was any good, the author would charge more, right?

On the other hand, if you charge too much for your work and go above what others in your genre and in your position are charging, you will probably get fewer book sales. Pricing your books is a monumental task, and it’s not as easy as arbitrarily picking a number. Once you’ve taken the market into account, let that determine how to price your books and forget the rest. You can overcome the 99 cent stigma and other small pricing problems that may arise by getting good, and genuine, reviews of your work (just make sure your work is well-written, so that you can get some good reviews).

Readers will be more willing to look beyond their own preconceived notions and buy a book they might think is too cheap, but it’s much, much harder to convince them to buy a book that’s too expensive. If you’re going to err, do it on the side of affordability.

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This post originally featured on Jade Varden’s author blog on 18th May 2012.

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Author Jade Varden is a regular guest contributor on Aside From Writing. The Writing 101 features originate from her own blog  at http://jadevarden.blogspot.co.uk where you can see more of her thoughts on writing, as well as her own books. Her first two books in the Deck of Lies series are out now! Read our review of Justice here.

Indie Author Spotlight…Katie Hughart

Indie Authors Spotlight is a weekly meme that will be held on every SATURDAY in the month. It is hosted by Beckie @Bittersweet Enchantment & CYP @A Bookalicious Story.
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This week’s spotlighted author is Katie Hughart aka Kate Rice…
About the Author - Wife, mother, and writer, Katie Hughart (aka Kate Rice) is pursuing her dream with the support of her family, friends and readers. Growing up in Toledo, Ohio Kate has always pushed the boundaries of normal. Now embracing that creative energy she is launching it into her books, one word at a time.

Kate has been married for nine years to Tommy Hughart Jr. who is a devoted football fanatic, but she loves him anyways. She has an amazing little boy who’s rambunctious and bright with a promising future ahead of him. “He is the breath God has given me,” Katie says.
With many more book ideas burning under the surface, Katie is excited to share this chapter of her life with you, and hopes that you will read, love and read again.
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Quick Author Q&A 
1. If you could be a superhero and have any superpower, what would you choose?
 I have thought about this a lot; in fact, I’ve probably thought about this more than most normal people, but I’d have to say that my super power would be the ability to tell the future. Sometimes I have weird dreams that come true, so the way I figure it, I’m already half way there! I also have a tendency to write more towards the paranormal genre. Even though my book, Panic, is a mainstream novel, my new projects are Fantasy and Sci-fi driven.
2. Any other books in the works for 2012? Other goals for future projects? 
I currently have three books out right now. One book I did with two other talented writers, the book is a YA Suspense Novelette titled, Midnight Masquerade. I have Panic, which is a full-legnth, suspense/romance, and a book of poetry titled Words in Black and White: a book of poems, but I have so many new projects brewing, it’s crazy!
The first one I’m working on is a YA fantasy titled, Wolf’s Run. Wolf’s Run is going to be the first of three books that will be part of, The Wilderness Series. This project has been so much fun! It has wolf spirits from other realms, fairies, curses, and a counsel that keeps their thumb on the happenings of the Wilderness. This book has been the most gratifying and yet the most challenging! I’m expecting to release it in early 2013. 

I am also working on a YA Sci-fi titled Club X! The main character is a headstrong girl who falls for a dark and mysterious guy named X, it just so happens that dark and mysterious doesn’t begin to cover him, since he doesn’t come from this planet. Club X is also coming out in 2013, but probably later in the year. I also have my hands full with some romance novella’s that I plan to release this year, and sequels that I plan to release in 2013/2014, so as you can see I’ve been keeping myself pretty busy! You can find all of my published books and reviews if you type my name (Katie Hughart) into the amazon store! :)

3.  If you could jump into the pages of any book and live in that world…which would it be?
The great thing is I don’t have to pick just one, I do it everyday! I’m in the stories I write 100 percent. I’ve been to different dimensions, and fell in love, had my heart broken, and been to new places and planets time and time again!
4. If you could be one of the Greek Gods, which would it be and why?
I am currently working on a romance novella staring Zeus, so with that in mind I wouldn’t be one of them. Fictionally speaking, I would choose to be their item of affection. I think that’s a much better gig!
5. How did you know you should (or wanted to) become an author?
I didn’t have great grades in school, some years were better than others, but I always did well in English, so naturally I went into Accounting. *slams on break, screeching tires* That’s right I started in accounting, and it was only years later, after my father died, that I had a story that wouldn’t go away. It was stuck in my head like chewed bubble gum stuck to the bottom of your Nike’s on 100 degree day, and it stayed that way for six months. I started writing the story in a notebook and decided that it was a good way to handle the trama I felt from my dad’s passing, but then like I’m sure a lot of other writers can attest to, the story didn’t simply trickle off. It grew into a 400 page novel that today is known as Panic. It didn’t stop there either, new idea’s sprung to life and now I’m sitting on about 30 stories all pulling and tugging for my attention like small children. Go figure! What a way to find out you’re a writer!
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Midnight Masquerade 
Laurel Adams was a normal teenager with dreams, aspirations and a bright future ahead of her…until the night her parents were brutally murdered. And she saw it all. With no promising leads, the killer is still out there, lurking in the shadows, waiting to strike again. Now Laurel’s life has been turned upside down. Haunted by reoccurring nightmares and forced to live in a cramped apartment with her screwed up sister and her sister’s two kids, depression is her constant companion. That is, until the boy she’s been pining after all year finally notices her. Suddenly Laurel’s future is looking brighter than ever, everything she could have hoped for is coming true. She has the attention of the hottest guy in school, a date to Prom, and the only thing standing in the way of her happiness is his girlfriend, Amanda Price, the queen of her daddy’s checkbook…and Laurel’s mortal enemy. Worse yet, the mysterious killer seems to have turned up again. And his sights are set on Laurel.
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Want to know more? Check out the links!
Avaliable on Kindle: by typing in keyword Katie Hughart into your Kindle store or at amazon.com  http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Masquerade-ebook/dp/B005OA2E28/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1338517749&sr=8-4


Interview with…Author Marc Nash

Author Marc Nash joined us with a guest post on Sunday, discussing experimental fiction and why he writes…today he is back for an interview so we can learn a little more about him!

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Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. For a different type of read than you may be used to

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? Lots of books, but what I’m dying to do is work with someone to make a kinetic typography video of one of my flash fiction pieces. What’s kinetic typography? It’s animated text that moves along a screen and can do all sorts of interesting things visually. Then I want to perform it with a live scratch DJ

What has been your most rewarding experience since being published? Live readings. I put on a bit of a ‘show’ and I love the immediacy of the audience’s response

What was your favorite book when you were a child? I didn’t read books until I was 14. That first book was very significant to me as it got me reading, it was “L’Etranger” by Albert Camus

Is there a song that you would list as the theme song for your book? Every one of my books has its soundtrack. My WIP is going to have a Spotify playlist link when it’s published, as every song on it is referred to in the book

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? You will receive a lot of conflicting advice about your work, so stay true to your own artistic vision as the ultimate arbiter

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why? Martin Sheen. (Not Charlie!) I like his intensity and integrity. Not sure if he could do the humour though

Who are your favorite authors of all time? Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett, Jonathan Lethem, Don Dellllo, Jeanette Winterson, David Peace

Can you see yourself in any of your characters? Whatever anyone else tells you, all novels are autobiographical! All my characters emerge from me, different parts of me, or other people’s anecdotes and stories that I’ve made ‘mine’

How do you react to a bad review? I welcome it as much as a good one and respect the reader for trying to engage with my work even if ultimately it wasn’t their type of thing

If you were an animal, what would you be? Well I love vultures, find them endlessly fascinating. Not sure I’d want to be one though. They have a bad rep! I did write a flash story from a vulture’s point of view though

You have won the lottery, what is the first thing that you would buy? A study with walled bookshelves and music speakers to the ceiling. At the moment I write on my lap sat on my bed while my books are shelved in the shed…

Favorite music? Experimental! What else did you expect me to say? Let’s just call it ‘art noise’

Chocolate or Vanilla? Does anyone ever answer vanilla? Because if so they’re fibbing

City or Country? Argggh, city, city city. I’d shrivel up and die in the country!

Spontaneity or Planning Ahead? You’re probably not surprised if I say spontaneity right?

Beach or Pool? Library!

Cats or Dog? Cats, superior creatures who will one day inherit the Earth

Cause or Effect? Quantum physics, so neither and both

Favorite quote from a movie? “I love the smell of napalm in the morning”

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A,B&E

From the black market economy of the 1980′s through the gangsterism behind the Clubbing scene of the 1990′s, to today’s decade of drift and low cost airline hedonism, one woman in exile has lived it all. On the run from her gangster husband, Karen Dash is hiding out in a Club 18-30 resort in Kavos on the island of Corfu. A home from home as the neo-colonial horde of hens, stags, booze cruisers and sex tourists turn mythical, Classical Greece into Little Britain. Meanwhile, back in the UK, an NHS nurse decides she has had enough of being assaulted by the patients she is trying to help heal…

A guided tour into the contemporary British soul, conducted by the presiding Mother Spirit as a barfly Scheherazade and an arse-slapping midwife. Avenging angels both. This scurrilous and scabrous book not only peels away the sunburnt skin of our hens, stags, booze cruisers and sex tourists, but delights in jabbing fingers into the pus below. Wish you were anywhere but here ?

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About the Author: Marc Nash lives and works in London. He has been in the counter-culture of the indie music scene for 20 years and now works for a non-government organisation monitoring censorship around the world. He has twin boys whose football team he coached for two years, which gave him more stress than anything to do with writing! He has published 4 books on Kindle, recorded 19 videos on YouTube and performs live readings often in costume! His next ambition is to perform a piece with live backing from a scratch DJ.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Amazon.com.Author Page

Website   Blog   Goodreads   YouTube Channel

Twitter: @21stCscribe

Emily Read…Ill Wind by Rachel Caine

 Emily is our Goodreads pal and all-round lovely lady! :) And, as you’ll know from our side-bar, her blog Confessions of a Bookaholic is one of our favourites. Throughout August and September, we will be featuring some of her book reviews on Aside from Writing so you can get to know her too!

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Overall Rating: 4/5

I’ve read two books in one day, I think that may be a record! Anyway on with the review. I picked up Ill Wind thinking it was a Young Adult book because the author wrote my beloved Morganville series. I was mistaken. I really need to start checking books out, I think this has been the third I’ve picked up and found it was adult. I didn’t mind too much though.
Ill wind is about Jo Baldwin, she’s a Weather Warden… on the run. A Weather Warden’s job is to keep people by delivering the world of dangerous weather but that’s easier said than done. Joanne is searching for Lewis, the only person she knows that can help her avoid the certain death that is approaching. One problem, he’s also on the run after having stolen three Djinn’s. So not only is he on the run but he is the most wanted man in the world – things couldn’t get much better for Joanna – but if she’s going to survive then she has to find Lewis. And fast.

“Joanne Baldwin is a Weather Warden. Usually, all it takes is a wave of her hand to tame the most violent weather. But now, she’s trying to outrun another kind of storm: accusations of corruption and murder. So, she’s resorting to the very human tactic of running for her life…  Her only hope is Lewis, the most powerful warden known. Unfortunately, he’s stolen not one but three bottles of Djinn-making him the most wanted man on earth. Still, she’s racing hard to find him-before the bad weather closes in fast…”

I enjoyed this book mostly because I love Rachel Caine’s writing style, I don’t know what it is but I always love anything written by her. This was a good book, not as good as Morganville, but good. As it’s the first book I didn’t really get to know any of the characters well but I quite liked Jo and David. Lewis, to say he’s the main part of the book, is hardly in it so I don’t know how I feel about him just yet. Some parts of Ill Wind confused me slightly but by the end I got it. I am really looking forward to book two. I wouldn’t reccomend this to younger readers but its a good read. I would give it 4/5 stars.

My Favorite Quote
“People talk about nature as a mother, but to me she’s always been Medea, ready and willing to slaughter her children.”  

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Read Emily’s interview with us here!

Goodread Group: Books, Blogs, Authors and More

 http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/62777.Books_Blogs_Authors_and_More

My blog: http://emily-confessionsofabookaholic.blogspot.com/

Guest Post…What is Experimental Fiction?

It’s actually quite hard to say what experimental fiction is. It’s fiction that consciously departs from ‘conventional’ novels, so first we’d better define just what a conventional novel might be!

 

A novel depicts a fictional character or characters acting and moving through a period of time, usually but not necessarily a recognisable time from our actual history be it recent or long past. Its primary purposes are to communicate and to move the reader, a remarkable achievement of the author who is absent; that through the power of their words whispered inside the reader’s head as they read, can produce these responses across the separation in actual space.

The first myth I wish to dispel about experimental fiction is that somehow it is exempt from having to communicate and move the reader. It absolutely should, otherwise how could we expect a reader to devote time to reading a book that failed to communicate to them? Literature is a pastime and therefore must provide elements of entertainment.

The other myth I would like to debunk is that the word experimental lends itself to notions of an unfinished process that is still ongoing. Or that somehow the work is half-baked because it’s not been thought through and planned out. That the writer has no idea of the destination he will end up at.

I started writing the way I do, because the books I read didn’t satisfy me. It’s been a long journey finding my way through to discovering alternative ways of navigating the problems of traditional novels as I saw them. This wasn’t something I just arrived at all of a piece, so in that sense I have experimented along the way. But in any new novel I write, I often don’t know the destination. But as I proceed, the things that don’t work I throw out. Thus I think I prefer the term ‘radical fiction’ rather than experimental. It has less negative connotations.

I said experimental fiction consciously departs from one or more elements of the conventional in the way it puts together its narrative. It can be in story, in language, in how it deals with time or space or perspective. It can be in how it treats character. It can even be in the physical look of the book, or the print on the page. B.S.Johnson wrote a book that was loose leaved and came in a box. You could read the chapters in any order you chose, in between the specified opening and closing chapters and the book still worked! Georges Perec wrote a novel without using a single letter ‘e’ throughout, this style of writing being called a lipogram.

What experimental writing seeks to do is not use these devices simply for the sake of being clever or tricksy, but to open up new ways of representing narrative. Conventional narrative usually has story as its main feature around which it is arranged. That story in all likelihood will have a beginning, a middle and an end. The inner workings of the main character’s mind will be slowly revealed through a build up of information as the book progresses and thus the character will undergo a journey or an arc, which will probably end up with them being significantly changed by the book’s end. Conflict will be the catalyst of the character’s actions and resultant change. Time will flow one way as the character progresses, even if flashbacks and memories are used.

Well I’d say that experimental fiction opts to avoid most if not all of those elements in structuring its narratives. First and foremost because human lives do not unfold with beginnings, middles and ends. And while we do live our lives one day after another in a way that we cannot relive yesterday in any real way today, the past is constantly informing and impacting us in the present, through thoughts and emotions which spark off and draw from past experiences. The human mind is not linear, it is constantly feedbacking on its present disposition and comparing to the past information and planning ahead to the future consequences of action. In a way we live in an eternal present. We do not have arcs. We don’t even have stories, rather we have ongoing lives instead. A story is merely a set of datelines we artificially impose on our own lives in order to group events together in such a way as to seemingly offer us a pattern for making sense of our lives. Experimental fiction may opt to represent its characters in this non-linear, constantly feedbacking way. An example is the book “The Damned United” by David Peace, which has the best depiction of a human mind I think I have ever read.

Why might any of this be important? Because experimental narrative attempts to approach ‘truth’ in a different manner than the conventional novel. What could be stranger than seeking to derive ‘truth’ from a work of fiction? Yet if a book can move us emotionally, then it has resonated with some truth within us to move us so. Therefore fiction can touch truth. Experimental narratives primarily seek to represent human life in a more ‘realistic’ way than the conventional novel. That does not mean its techniques are realistic, but it recognises our lives as being far more formless than they are represented within conventional narrative form.

Another significant difference being that the experimental novel is aware of itself as constructing yet another layer of representation of ‘reality’ and weaves that into its quest to more realistically represent human ‘truth’. It is less likely to ask a reader to suspend their disbelief in order to enter the world of the book that is absolutely fictional. Rather it says to the reader through its radical narrative forms, that it is absolutely a work of fiction and therefore takes its place in the confusion of life that forms ‘reality’. And it does so knowingly, in order to better help unpick the struggle for truth; it’s easier to separate fact from fiction, if fiction announces itself clearly.

A huge part of this revolves around language. Experimental fiction is aware of the limitations of language and adopts many different ways to try and make language do what it is supposed to do and communicate meaning. Words will be played with. The likes of Perec go further and play with the letters that make up words.

So experimental/radical fiction seeks different narratives from conventional fiction in order to differently attack the notion of human truth. It is less interested in linear story and plotting. It has a radically different approach to character, one that I feel is more akin to how we are as human beings. Language is key to our fiction, even down to the look of the words on the page which may not be blocks of print all flowing left to right. It endeavours to search for a different type of meaning. Personally, I’m not seeking a revolution to sweep away all other types of writing. This is just a different approach to stories that may appeal to readers who are interested in something a bit different. Something more in tune with our times, than the conventional novel which has basically remained unchanged in form for over 200 years.

Marc Nash

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A,B&E

From the black market economy of the 1980′s through the gangsterism behind the Clubbing scene of the 1990′s, to today’s decade of drift and low cost airline hedonism, one woman in exile has lived it all. On the run from her gangster husband, Karen Dash is hiding out in a Club 18-30 resort in Kavos on the island of Corfu. A home from home as the neo-colonial horde of hens, stags, booze cruisers and sex tourists turn mythical, Classical Greece into Little Britain. Meanwhile, back in the UK, an NHS nurse decides she has had enough of being assaulted by the patients she is trying to help heal…

A guided tour into the contemporary British soul, conducted by the presiding Mother Spirit as a barfly Scheherazade and an arse-slapping midwife. Avenging angels both. This scurrilous and scabrous book not only peels away the sunburnt skin of our hens, stags, booze cruisers and sex tourists, but delights in jabbing fingers into the pus below. Wish you were anywhere but here ?

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About the Author: Marc Nash lives and works in London. He has been in the counter-culture of the indie music scene for 20 years and now works for a non-government organisation monitoring censorship around the world. He has twin boys whose football team he coached for two years, which gave him more stress than anything to do with writing! He has published 4 books on Kindle, recorded 19 videos on YouTube and performs live readings often in costume! His next ambition is to perform a piece with live backing from a scratch DJ.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Amazon.com.Author Page

Website   Blog   Goodreads   YouTube Channel

Twitter: @21stCscribe

Indie Author Spotlight…Lisa Ard

Indie Authors Spotlight is a weekly meme that will be held on every SATURDAY in the month. It is hosted by Beckie @Bittersweet Enchantment & CYP @A Bookalicious Story.
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This week’s spotlighted author is Lisa Ard…

Friends and family have asked me how I came up with the idea for the Dream Seeker series and to tell you the truth, I’m not sure. What I do know is, I was spending a lot of time thinking about the types of books I love to read and those stories usually involved fantastic adventures for kids.

When I started to write Fright Flight, the first book in the Dream Seeker series, I knew I wanted a strong preteen boy as the main character. Patrick is twelve years old and at the age when he’s experiencing a lot of change, both physically and emotionally. Most of that change is out of his control, but how he reacts to that change is important.

Patrick’s family and best friends are important to his adventures too. When life and dreams seem out of control, Patrick knows he is not alone.Perhaps that’s my dream for my own kids, showing up in my writing. My hope is, that whatever challenges my two children face in life, they’ll know they can count on me and their dad and those that love them.

Writing is an adventure for me. It’s been a long and winding journey to authoring a book. Here’s some of that journey’s highlights:

  • I grew up in Wenatchee, Washington. Better look it up on the map, because it’s the Apple Capital of the World!
  • As a kid I played lots of sports, enjoyed art and photography, read lots of books (still do) and dreamed of traveling the world. 
  • I left home to study at the University of Washington where I earned my B.A. in German. (And yes, my dad asked me “what are you going to do with a degree in German?”)
  • After a couple years living and working in Seattle, I went back to school. Now, you may be asking why I signed up for MORE school. Actually I’ve always thought school was pretty fun. I found a really cool school that let me work overseas. I got my Masters in International Business from the University of South Carolina and worked in Germany.
  • For the next 15 years, I worked in Finance and Quality departments for some really big companies. In other words, I went to lots of meetings, talked on the phone, traveled all over the country and sat in a cubicle for a lot of that time.
  • Then I fell in love, got married and had two wonderful kids. We now live happily ever after in Portland, Oregon.

That’s the story so far. I’m now starting the journey of author. How long that will last, I don’t know. However, I’m ready to enjoy the adventure

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For Patrick, being twelve years old can be challenging. Add to that the unusual ability to experience dreams as reality and you begin to understand Patrick’s need for a little self-control. A “sweet” dream devouring the world’s largest ice cream sundae can end with an enormous stomachache. A fall from a bike means Patrick wakes with a broken arm. Try explaining that to the emergency room doctor. Oh wait — that would be Patrick’s mom. She’s a dream seeker too, as are Patrick’s sister and brother. If Patrick follows the family’s dream-seeking rules he can have cool nighttime adventures. But if he forgets….

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Buy the Book:    iTunes   Powells   Amazon   B&N   Goodreads   Shelfari

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/LisaArd

My blog: Adventures in Writing & Publishing http://www.dreamseekeradventures.com/blog/

Emily Read…Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

 Emily is our Goodreads pal and all-round lovely lady! :) And, as you’ll know from our side-bar, her blog Confessions of a Bookaholic is one of our favourites. Throughout August and September, we will be featuring some of her book reviews on Aside from Writing so you can get to know her too!

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Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Noughts and Crosses is quite a complicated and intriguing novel about a divided society. There is the Noughts and the Crosses. Sephy is a Cross, a member of the dark-skinned higher class. They can have what ever they want. Callum is a Nought, a member of the ‘colourless’ lower class. They have no rights.

Noughts and Crosses is a tragic story about love, loss and justice. Callum and Sephy have been best friends since they were children but what happens when that friendship turns to love? Noughts and Crosses explores the relationship between a Romeo and Juliet style couple in a world when love is unimportant. If you need more details here is the synopsis:

“Sephy is a Cross – a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a nought – a ‘colourless’ member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood. But that’s as far as it can go. Until the first steps are taken towards more social equality and a limited number of Noughts are allowed into Cross schools…Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity by Noughts, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum – a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger…”

I thought that Noughts and Crosses was a highly fascinating and realistic read. It highlighted some issues that still happen around our world today. It explores racism and prejudice in depth and really shows us what our world could be like today if we let it be. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes an intense read and stories about forbidden love. I would rate this book 4.5/5 stars. I hope you enjoyed my review.

Favourite Quote:
“‘Just remember, Callum when you’re floating up and up in your bubble, that bubbles have a habit of bursting. The higher you climb, the further you have to fall’”

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Read Emily’s interview with us here!

Goodread Group: Books, Blogs, Authors and More

 http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/62777.Books_Blogs_Authors_and_More

My blog: http://emily-confessionsofabookaholic.blogspot.com/

Guest Post…Is Katniss Really Better than Bella?

Following the popularity of her last post with us: A Letter to Stephen King; author Georgina Morales is back again looking at feminism in contemporary literature – particularly the books aimed at young women and girls. She’s asking Is Katniss Really Better than Bella?

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You see it everywhere; there are pictures in Facebook, reviews in Goodreads, punch lines with pictures in Pinterest. It seems like Twilight is at the butt of every joke. Edward Cullen’s sparkling, lean, loving machine has made every hardcore vampire lover retort in hatred. The pathetically insecure Bella Swan hasn’t fared much better. Her image has come to equate everything the Feminist Movement fights against.

Then came The Hunger Games movie and craziness ensued once again. Though the books were widely popular way before the movie broke out, the simple knowledge that a movie was about to be made drove thousands of new fans to the saga. Soon comparisons arouse and Katniss Everdeen became the antithesis of Bella Swan, therefore, the character that defined Feminism for the present generation.

Now, I have a bone to pick with this. I get why Bella is such a nightmare for many women. She is whinny, insecure, and unable to stand for herself. I’m an unapologetic fan of the Twilight books and even I wanted to choke her sometimes.

But let’s check Katniss’ character through The Hunger Games Saga:

  • She is the sole provider of her family in a post-apocalyptic world where you need to fight for every morsel of food. A point for her.
  • She knows how to handle a weapon and isn’t afraid to do it. Two points for her.
  • She, unknowingly, becomes the symbol of rebellion; yet, she fights hard to show the world she is, in fact, in favor of keeping the status quo. Mmm… Not so sure about this one.
  • She is not interested in having a boyfriend, first because she doesn’t want to have a family in that messed up world, and second because she isn’t sure if she would pick her best friend or the boy who saved her life. Again, not so sure this has anything to do with ‘Girl Power’.
  • Finally, it becomes clear there’s no way to stop the rebellion. Does she embrace it and volunteers to fight for a better world? No. In fact, she lets everyone use her image the way they please while she becomes a puppet in the power struggle that ensues. This is definitively not fortitude of character. As a matter of fact, Katniss spends half of the saga breaking to pieces and most of the third book literally hiding in a closet. I fail to see how this is any better than Bella’s obsession with her boyfriend.

The sort answer is: It isn’t. Feminism is a movement designed to empower women, to bring recognition to the value of women in our society and to fight for the right each one of us have to take control of our lives. Whether we choose to embark on a career in the world of finance or to dedicate ourselves to the education of our children, Feminism is the reason why we even have the option.

The problem is getting married and tending a home was the only career path available to us back in the days, therefore it is seen with shoddy eyes when a modern gal openly acknowledges her desire to do so. We look for specific traits in our females in order to select them as our new standard of ‘Girl Power’ like physical strength and open disdain (or disinterest) for men.

Katniss is both, lethal and uninterested in boys, but is she truly the encarnation of empowerment? I don’t think so.

Let me tell you, it was hard for me to come across a female character in modern literature that met my idea of Feminism, which is very sad and goes to show you why is it that our teen girls hold so hard to the few outstanding female characters they have available, however faulted these might be. But I finally found it: Hermione Granger.

Think for a moment. She is intelligent, determined, strong, and she might not be able to take a life with her magic wand, but she is powerful nonetheless. She is so, not because of how many magic spells she knows, but because she knows what she wants, what is good for her, where her weaknesses are, and she has a great moral compass. All these traits make her, in fact, a much better symbol of Feminism; a role model for our youth they can actually hope to become.

When we decide to bash a fictional character such as Bella Swan because of its interest in having a boyfriend, we are sending the message that worrying about boys is a sign of times past and a weakness. When we sing praises to characters like Katniss Everdeen for her physical strength we tell our teen girls that this one trait is so positive, it actually compensates the clear shortcomings the character shows in other areas.

Do you think I am being ridiculous? Giving way too much importance to fake and clearly fantastic novels? Well, yes! And therein lies our main trouble. We read too much between the lines. Teenage girls will worry about boys, that’s just how it is, very few of them are the actual providers of their household, and even fewer know how to shoot a gun, forget about a bow. Let’s not make the mistake of confusing physical prowess with strength of character. They like Bella? Sure, why not. Then, show them a book where the female character is worthy of being emulated and talk about it. That will take you a lot farther that trashing the latest fad. Communication is the ultimate influence to empower our youth and help them travel the murky waters of adolescence and external influences; it is the final weapon that trumps even books and that’ll make of our kids true Feminists.

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More thoughts on this topic? Check out the links below!

Katniss v Bella on The Huffington Post

Katniss v Bella – A Feminist Analysis (You Tube)

Cage Fight – Katniss v Bella

Girls Night In – With Bella, Buffy, Katniss and Hermione

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About the Author 

Born in Mexico City, Georgina was always divided between the world of the paranormal, the religious, and science, even as a kid. Through her years in medical school, she experienced and heard all kinds of creepy tales. She, now, writes from her home in Norwalk, Ct. where she resides in the company of her husband and two young daughters. The history of the northeast, its old buildings, and its endless forests provide her imagination with a constant influx of ideas, which combined with her rich background make for her unique style. She’s also a staff reviewer for Dark River Press.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

www.diaryofawriterinprogress.blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Perpetual-Night-by-Georgina-Morales/159894374059399

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4646361.Georgina_Morales

http://www.darkriverpress.com/reviews.html

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/perpetual-night-georgina-morales/1100075745?ean=9780615438405&itm=1&usri=georgina+morales

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=georgina+morales&x=0&y=0

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/38400

Indie Author Spotlight…Rebecca Weinstein

Indie Authors Spotlight is a weekly meme that will be held on every SATURDAY in the month. It is hosted by Beckie @Bittersweet Enchantment & CYP @A Bookalicious Story.
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This week’s spotlighted author is Rebecca Weinstein…

About the Author - Rebecca Weinstein was born and raised in central New Jersey and continues to live there with her husband, daughter, and two pesky rabbits. Rebecca is an alumna of Monmouth University and teaches art at a private high school. She loves to paint as much as writing, and created the cover artwork for all of her novels. A frequent blogger, she blogs on WordPress about writing and her other love: cooking. She is the author of six middle grade and young adult novels, and is currently working on the third installment of the Redstone Series.

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Quick Author Q&A

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?

I have a few works in progress right now. Sometimes I find that I want to work on one project, then another day I’ll want to work on a different one. I’m working on the third installment in the Redstone Series, the sequel to Yokai, and a sequel to Amazon. I also have several new works on the back burner. I’m also working on heavily promoting Yokai. I really was so excited to write this novel, that I had many sleepless nights while crafting it. The story wouldn’t leave me alone! I really like the story, and I think that others will really like it too. I was blog hopping during the month of June, including the Paranormal Freebies Blog Hop on June 21-22, and a few others. Whew. I’m a busy lady!

 

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Definitely southern Japan, and not just because I’m an Otaku. I love the Japanese culture, and I think their country is beautiful, even though I’ve only seen pictures. I’ll get there, someday.

 

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?

I always wanted to be a Disney animator. Every time we’d go to Walt Disney World, I’d coerce my family without fail to go through the animation tour in MGM so I could see what the animators were up to. But people change, and although it was always my dream job as a kid, I know it wouldn’t be my dream job today.

 

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?

I can see a little of myself in all of my protagonists. I tend to do that; write a little of myself into them. It makes it a little easier for me to relate to them or to get inside their heads. Even the animal ones.

 

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?

When my father was admitted into hospice nine years ago, he gave me the best bit of advice. He said, “If your dreams of Disney don’t pan out, find a new dream.” It taught me to not dwell on the things that won’t or don’t happen, and to always find a new dream. It’s pretty good advice, and I followed it.

 

Favourite sweets?

Sno-Caps. But definitely with popcorn. It’s the only way.

 

What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year?

Actually, I recently found out that one of my favorite manga/anime is being made into a live action movie, to be released in Japan in August. It’s called Rurouni Kenshin, and I absolutely love it. If you’ve never heard of it, look it up. It’s about a wandering samurai (a rurouni), a former government assassin, who has given up killing after the revolution sparked the Meiji period. I can’t wait until I can see it, but I know it’ll take a while to get released on a subtitled dvd.

 

How do you react to a bad review?

You know, a lot of authors don’t respond online to reviews at all. I respond to every review, good or bad. There’s a big difference between responding well and responding poorly. I respond well by thanking them for taking the time to even write a review. They didn’t have to do that. Whether I agree with them or not is besides the point. They are entitled to their opinion, be it good or bad. I don’t argue their points, good or bad, but I make the effort to thank them for their comments on my work.

 

What do you do in your free time?

What free time? Haha, just kidding. I like to read, a lot. I also like to cook, and I blog about my cooking on WordPress. That blog is called Android In The Kitchen. I post pictures of the food I cook. One mainstay is the “Daily Bento” post, where I photograph and blog about the bentos I make for my daughter’s school lunch. A bento is a Japanese lunch box, but it’s more than that. Creating bento is an art, but also an act of love. How much love do you put into your own family members’ lunches?

 

Favourite sport?

HOCKEY! I love the New York Rangers so much, we had hockey elements in our wedding, we have memorabilia around the house, and one of the rabbits actually loves watching it with us!

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Sixteen-year-old Kit Maguire has never met her mother, made lasting friendships, or had a permanent home, and she’s always known that she was a little different from others. When Kit and her father move to Kyoto, Japan, her father insists that this time will be better, but Kit is reluctant to give it a try. The kids in Kyoto seem to be the same as everywhere else: judging her for her looks before they get to know her. She figures it’s just one more short stop that she won’t make friends, so why bother?

With the appearance of her thought-to-be-dead mother, Kit yearns to find out more about her mom, their family, and why she has the ability to conjure green fire. When a girl named Yoriko insists on becoming friends and two of the hottest guys in school vie for her attention, things get complicated. Kit learns just who she is and what she’s capable of, but with that knowledge comes the realization that she may never be able to have a relationship with Riku; as their clans are bitter enemies. Kit hopes that their love will bring the clans together and that she’ll get everything she’s ever wanted: family, friends, and a place to call home.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Available for $2.99 only on Amazon

Website:www.rebeccaweinstein.webs.com

Blog: www.rweinstein6.wordpress.com  and http://www.androidinthekitchen.wordpress.com

Follow me on Twitter! @rweinstein6

Rebecca’s Other Work: Seraphim   Nashoga (Redstone Series #1)   Blood Moon (Redstone Series #2)