IAM Excerpt from…A Planet for Tristan Wolf by Mariana Llanos

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Our guest author on Indie Month for the next couple of days is Mariana Llanos, author of the Tristan Wolf series. Check out the books and an excerpt from one today, then find out more about the lady herself in our author interview tomorrow!

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  Tristan WolfA Planet for Tristan Wolf

Tristan Wolf is back! And this time he’s not alone on his adventure. After fighting with his  brother, Billy, Tristan and his best friend, Red, run away… to another planet! They want to start over with a new life, in a new place, far away from angry brothers. But this new planet is strange. There are no plants, no parks, and no sun. And Tristan can’t figure out exactly why everyone there is a strange shade of green. But the strangest part of all is the way everyone reacts to Red. It’s like they’re scared to be around him! Tristan will learn that nothing is at it seems in this crazy, extravagant planet! Now he must race to rescue himself and his friend, and get them both back to Earth, before they’re stuck on planet Orb forever! With colorful illustrations and the story line full of surprises, this will easily become one of your children’s favorite stories in no time! Tristan Wolf fans and new fans alike will fall in love with this tale of a young boy, his relationship with his family, and his wild imagination!

 

frontcover

A PLANET FOR TRISTAN WOLF EXCERPT

MARIANA LLANOS

Illustrated by

Rocio Perez del Solar

When Tristan opened his eyes, the world was still swirling around him. He stood up to look out the window. His body felt light and slow. He knew he wasn’t on Earth anymore. The almost perfectly-round blue planet was spinning in the distance, and Tristan, inside his spaceship, wiped a tear off his cheek.

He knew he’d have to land soon; he didn’t have enough fuel for a long trip. He didn’t have enough food either. Whatever he had he’d have to share with his best friend, Red, who was traveling with him. Just a few chips, bacon bits, an apple, and half of a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich … that’s all they had left. Red had such a big appetite that Tristan was afraid they’d run out of food before they found a new home.

Home. That word seemed so cold now. It wasn’t sweet to Tristan, not anymore. Not after that big fight with his brother. Billy had gotten so mad at him! And it wasn’t even his fault… it was Red’s. Billy let Tristan look at his baseball trading cards, instructing him to put them away when he was done, but Tristan forgot and left them on the dining table. Somehow, Red got ahold of Billy’s favorite and most expensive card and completely destroyed it.

“Why did you do that?” Tristan asked Red in disbelief, but Red just turned around and looked away. He looks kinda sorry, Tristan thought.

Oh, Billy was so mad at them! He called Tristan all kinds of hurtful names. He yelled and kicked and even pushed Tristan to the floor. When Tristan threatened to tell Dad, Billy just looked at his brother and Red with a cold and hateful stare and yelled, “Get lost! Both of you!”

And that’s what Tristan and Red were doing. They were getting lost.

“I don’t think Billy likes us anymore, Red.”

Red opened one eye, closed it without making a sound, and rolled back to sleep. Outside, the cold, dark universe kept on doing its thing: planets were spinning, stars shining, black holes forming, big bangs exploding. Tristan watched a moving light sweep across his window. “A shooting star!” he yelled. “Come, Red, let’s wish for something special!” Red lazily got up and sat next to Tristan, looking up at their little skylight.

“I wish,” started Tristan, “to find a good home … and for me and Red to be loved and safe.”

“Grff!” Red said in what seemed to be agreement. And with that he turned his nose towards Tristan and started licking his leg.

“We’ll be all right, Red,” Tristan promised and lay back down on the sleeping bag floating nearby. Red, his loyal dog, wagged his tail and seemed to smile.

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About the Author Mariana Llanos writes poetry and short stories since she was very young. In her native Lima, Peru, she explored her interest in the performing arts. She now lives in Oklahoma with her husband and their three children, who inspire her to create touching stories. She works at a preschool where she likes to motivate children through music and art. Her first book, Tristan Wolf, was published early in 2013 and it’s getting great reviews. Now, in A Planet for Tristan Wolf, Mariana takes us one more time to the world of this imaginative boy and his adventures. The art of Rocio Perez Del Solar makes this a beautiful book that will spark creativity and entertain children and adults alike. As Mariana would say: “Let your imagination go wild!”

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Amazon “A PLANET FOR TRISTAN WOLF”: http://www.amazon.com/Planet-Tristan-Wolf-Mariana-Llanos/dp/1492747181/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392952974&sr=8-1&keywords=a+planet+for+Tristan+Wolf

Amazon “Tristan Wolf”:http://www.amazon.com/Tristan-Wolf-Mariana-Llanos/dp/148205308X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392953445&sr=8-1&keywords=tristan+wolf

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tristanwolfofficial

Website: www.marianallanos.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/marianallanos

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/marianallanos

Blog: http://www.marianallanosauthor.blogspot.com

 

IAM Feature…Being a ‘social’ Indie

Guest Feature

Event Feature

No guest author today, just lil oil’ me pondering the value of marketing and social networking for indie writers 🙂 Mel x

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The one thing most writers will agree on, is that you think the writing part is hard…until you release your book and then have to consider how you actually get people to read it! Even over the last couple of years since I released my first book Hope’s Daughter as an indie, I’ve seen the indie writer world change: Goodreads seems to have exploded with people coming to the e-book scene; people are getting more savvy with blog tours, book trailers, well-designed covers…oh and marketing…

No matter how you look at things, everything takes time. When you’re writing, you might give up reading, TV, friends, family…maybe even eating any food that you can’t do with just one hand…but there is an end in sight. Your book has a beginning, middle and end (unless it’s some strange contemporary thing that comes as loose pages in a box that your reader puts together themselves…sorry – I digress) – and when you come to the end of writing the book, edit it and then send it out for the world to see, that part is done.

What begins then is the (perhaps) endless task of promoting your book and getting people to read it. After a while, I imagine some books can gain some momentum and begin generating attention for themselves, but, until you have some reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and co. – until you have a few bloggers reading your book and featuring it on their sites, it can be a very tough nut to crack.

What is tough for any author, but more so for indies, is being your own promoter. If you’re spending time blogging about books or your writing, networking with readers and other authors through websites, blogs and twitbookpindiggit.com then the one thing you’re definitely not doing is writing. Take me for example, right now – the last few hours of free time I’ve had to get on with anything writing related have been spent popping up the guest features for the indie month, posting tweets about the event and now, writing this post. In economic terms, I suppose today, I’m electing to accept the opportunity cost of using my time to do this, rather than the spare hour to progress my ‘Faris’ story.

Does this stuff – Goodreads, blogging, social media – help you get more people reading your books?

Maybe yes, maybe no.

Perhaps a person reading the blog today will say “Hey – I like the waffling style of this person, perhaps their books are equally odd,” then go off to check them out. Or perhaps, I’ll meet another book blogger on here, whose stuff I like reading, which gets me reading other books or thinking about my own writing in a different way, and then I’ll do something different than I might have done before. Sometimes you meet other lovely authors (Mister Talbot is in this group!) 🙂 who become book-buddies and indulge your crazy writing obsession more than ‘real world’ friends might. Plus, it can be worth it for the odd time a reader comes back to you and let’s you know how much they loved reading your book – the positive feedback can make all the time spent cruising the interweb, working out what to post and frittering away good writing time, worth it.

I suppose it all comes back to being about the writing – even if it feels at times like it is completely unconnected (and perhaps even unproductive). So – to help you guys out a little, I’ve shared below some links to interesting blog posts on how to improve your social media stuff as a writer, as well as one for if you want to avoid it altogether. Hopefully then, you’ll find something useful yourself from this blog post and it won’t have been a waste of your time reading it 😉

Links

Duolit SelfPub Team are one of my favourite writing / publishing tip blogs around – I’ve always found their features interesting, useful and real – check them out on Twitter @duolit or online at their site: http://selfpublishingteam.com “Shannon’s the author. Toni’s the geek. As Duolit, we love indie authors, self-publishing, book design, author branding and book marketing. Oh, and Mountain Dew!”

Author Jade Varden blogs on all things writing and has everything from grammar assistance to marketing and social media advice – take a look on Twitter @JadeVarden or her blog: jadevarden.blogspot.com With 24.5k followers on Twitter, she must know something! 

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Mel is currently working on book 3 of her indie sci-fi dystopian series, The Ambrosia Sequence, as well as dabbling with a couple of old ideas for children’s books. She launched Aside from Writing in 2012 and blogs here and at her author blog regularly.

Want to know more? Check out the links!

Blog: http://www.melcj.com

Twitter: @melabupa

IAM Guest Post…Why I Like Being an Indie

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Today’s guest post on about why she loves being an indie writer is by lovely author Patricia Lynne, whose novel Being Human was reviewed and featured on the blog in 2012. Today you can also find out about her latest work: Snapshot

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Patricia Lynne never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never gave it any thought during high school and college, but some stories are meant to be told and now she can’t stop. Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow. You can find her at my website, on wasting time on Twitter and lurking on Facebook.

Why I like being an Indie…

When I first started looking into publishing and I found out I’d have little say in my cover, book title, and synopsis I was very worried. What if the publisher did an awful job in my opinion? There is nothing more horrifying than the idea of hating my own book because I don’t like the cover or I think the title is awful. I was also concerned about changes to the story. Publishers mold stories to fit the market and I didn’t want to lose my story just because of what was hot at the moment.

Enter Indie and self publishing. I would be in control of everything. My cover, title, and synopsis. I discovered writing the synopsis was a giant pain, but every word I picked out. Essentially, I am the boss.

Lately, I’ve been wondering about traditional publishing again. A few writing friends are considering submitting their stories to small publishers in hopes of benefiting from the editing and possible marketing a publisher might have. The possible help marketing is very tempting. I haven’t been able to market like I want to because 1) I have no idea what I’m doing and 2) I’ve been jobless so I haven’t had much money to spare for marketing. A publisher might be able to help with that.

But then I wouldn’t be the boss.

Honestly, that is the main reason I plan on sticking with being an Indie. As tough as it is to be the boss of everything, I do love having that control over my story. It ensures I tell the story I want and the story isn’t at the mercy of trends. There is nothing wrong with trends, but I don’t want to sacrifice the story I want to tell just to sell more copies. The world is full of readers, more born every day, I’m bound to find plenty who like my story the way I wrote it. From time to time, I may consider the idea of a publisher, but that’s just being sensible. As things change it is wise to reassess. Maybe one day a publisher will be an option for me, but I am doubtful. I love saying I’m an Indie too much.

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SNAPSHOTS

 My name is Cyclop Blaine and I am a real person.
“You are mine.”
I am a real person: heedless of a childhood spent under the supervision of an old man I only know as Master.
 “You belong to me.”
I am a real person: regardless of my teenage years bound by violence as the adoptive son of the Victory Street Gang’s leader.
 “You will obey me.”
I am a real person: despite the visions I see in others’ eyes. Snapshots of their futures.
“You will cower before me.”
I am a real person: my life will be my own. I belong to no one.
“You. Are. MINE.”

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

IAM Interview with…Kim Smith

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Our guest author for Indie Month today is Kim Smith, author of An Unexpected Performance and several other adult fiction books. Let’s find out a little more about the lady herself in today’s spotlight interview.

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AUPsmallIf you could have any superpower, what would you choose?

I would totally be able to fly. It has been a dream of mine many times. It feels so weird to be shooting through the air and have the ability to look down and see the world below. It would enable me to get, quite literally, a bird’s eye view of the places I want to visit and write about.

Night owl or early bird?

Early bird. I can accomplish more in the hours before dawn than all the others during the day. It may be because I can feel free to focus on whatever task I am doing. Other times, people, and ‘have to do’ things hone in on my time.

One food you would never eat? Chocolate covered insects. No way.

Your most unusual or random habit? Petting my dog with my feet. She loves the constant stroking and her fur feels good. It’s totally weird, but wonderful.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

A drama award, a theatrical mirror, and two teens destined to be great actors if their roles don’t get them killed first.

 

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

http://www.kimsmithauthor.com

http://www.facebook.com/mkimsmith

http://www.twitter.com/mkimsmith

Kim’s Radio Show-Writer Groupie – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/writergroupie

Amazon link for Kindle

Amazon link for paperback

IAM Guest Post…Why I Write Indie

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

 Today we have a post from one of the regular Aside From Writing blog authors, Mel Cusick-Jones. Today she tells us what she loves about writing as an indie and why she self-published in the first place.

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I’d written for a long time before I published Hope’s Daughter, and even though I had worked on the novel for over two years (part-time around work and the rest of my life!) and taken it through numerous revisions and read-throughs with friends there are basic elements I would change now, especially with an extra 18months of reviews and feedback to take into account. But that’s the best part about reviews, and was the main reason I published the book in the first place…I wanted to know what other people thought of my story.

What I should say is that publishing isn’t what it was once… you can self-publish easily and relatively cheaply (promotion is tough though) where that was not really an option before ebooks came onto the scene.

I published Hope’s Daughter myself because:

I’m really impatient and didn’t do well with the traditional agent/publishing route. What I’d do is get a piece ready, send it away, wait X months and when it came back as a negative would begin something completely different thinking “well if they didn’t like this, maybe they like this” (hence I’d done several books before Hope’s Daughter). I think I’d sent one proposal to three places and Hope’s Daughter to one, before I decided to go the indie route – and that took me five years because of what I did in between.

A friend of mine works in product design and marketing and she agreed that it can be SO subjective whether they take on a project/design or not, and imagines it’s the same with publishing houses. You’ve got to get the individual liking it and then also from a business perspective it must fit with their operating model and where they want to spend their money at any given time – that’s a lot of considerations and a ‘business’ approach for a book. And look at some of the dross publishers do put out, simply because they want to replicate Twilight or another success story!

Personally – that wasn’t what I needed. Of course I’d love to hold a ‘real’ copy of my book in my hands or see it on the shelf in a shop – but the ‘virtual’ world bookshelves aren’t much less exciting. Your first good reviews are no less wonderful because someone’s read your book on a kindle and not in hardcover.

Creative writing is something I do when I’m not working and so it didn’t have to pay the bills (if that’s what you want – good luck – I’ve read that only 5% of authors make a living doing solely that), so when I was happy with the book I put it out there: I wanted to get wider feedback on the book beyond my local readers. And also, I’d written it so ‘why not’? It wasn’t doing anything sat inside the laptop.

And I suppose – from the occasional self-pub success story you see – if you are good, sometimes generating your own readers can demonstrate to publishers that you are viable as an author…without having to wade through dozens of slush piles to show them (also another long shot – but it does happen).

Hope’s Daughter had been through five full MS edits as well as numerous localised ones – so I was happy with the story. Four pre-readers had gone through it and given me feed back. I’d read it so many times I could probably recite scenes from memory – so I did it!

If you are going self-pub, make sure you’re ready to market – ideally before the release of the book – as you can get REALLY bogged down in the writing/publishing side to organise this properly. One of the best prepared launches I saw in 2012 was Marie Landry for Blue Sky Days – she used her network of blogs to ensure there was excitement for the book before release and then a very strong blog tour starting immediately after. Plus – it’s a good book! 🙂

Also – couple of good places to hone your skills – try Miss Lits (I’ve seen them on facebook) – you get to write short or full stories, everyone reads, reviews, etc. and you get constructive feedback, which like Ann says, you can then work on. Also – goodreads groups often have writing areas which you’ll get support and feedback on for your stuff so try there.

Phew – sorry – I got on a bit of a roll there – but hopefully it’s a little helpful and not just waffle. Basically, if you love writing – do it! Get the feedback, take it on board and practice. And when you’re really happy, try whichever route you want to go and that works best for you

Mel x

IAM Interview with…Mari Wells

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Our guest author for Indie Month today is Mari Wells,introducing herself through one of our quick ‘This or That’ interviews. Enjoy!

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Pirates or Zombies?

Zombies, I’m writing a novel right now about Zombies. I like the monster aspect of them, and their history is quite interesting. My Husband keeps asking me to write about Pirates though, so many soon. I do have an idea or two for a Pirate story.

 

Popcorn or Chocolate?

Chocolate, always hands down Chocolate. You can’t add popcorn to coffee or ice cream. Raspberry popcorn doesn’t sound as good as Raspberry chocolate. Popcorn truffles just turns my stomach.

 

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

When I was little, I wanted to be a mom, and a poet. Some really mean teachers in middle school told me I couldn’t ever be a poet. I believed them for a really long time too. (For that matter, they told me never to pursue a career in writing.) I believed that for a long time too.

 

What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had?

Hmm, I’ve had lots of crazy ideas. One idea I’m currently playing with takes what society considers as okay for men/ no no’s for women and trades their places. There’s some taboo subjects in this idea and a lot of comedy. Another idea is a mermaid who works for a fishing company or a sushi shop.

 

Reading or Writing?

Reading or Writing is another hard question. I personally think you can’t have writing without reading. Both are my favorite pass times, they take me from this boring world and let me hang out with my own and other’s imaginations.

 

Good Book or Good Film?

A good book. I’ve never been in movie fog for weeks, but I’m often in book fog for that long. Movies also “spoon feeds” me, I like to imagine what a character looks like or what the setting looks like.

 

Vampire or Angel?

Vampire! I like my angels. Angels are cool and if you can create a good “Bad Boy Angel” I’m a content reader, but Vampires have me 99% of the time. There’s something about vampires that stop my heart. Vampires have been my thing since I was a little girl, and they always be my thing.

 

Drive or Be Driven?

Be Driven, I freak out when I drive. If cars get too close to my sides or ride my tailgate. I get all shaking and have to pull over and let someone else drive. Driving is usually at the root of my panic attacks.

 

Early Bird or Night Owl?

I’ve been an Early bird and a Night Owl. I’ve burnt the candle at both ends too. However, as far back as I can remember I’ve been a Night Owl. Night Owl is my favorite, there’s nothing like being awake late at night writing a paranormal story. 😀

 

Quiet Night In or Out On The Town?

This one was the easiest question of all, No Doubt about it, Quiet night in. I’m the kind of girl that would rather curl up with a good book (or writing utensils) than go out to party. If I really have to, I’d watch a movie (Young Frankenstein anyone?) and cuddle on the couch with the whole family than be out on the town.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Google +

www.mariwells4@gmail.com

IAM Guest Post…You’re Never Too Old

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Our featured author today is Clinton Harding, a regular visitor to the blog since we ran our first Indie Author Month in 2012. We recently hosted a week-long tour feature for Clinton celebrating the release of Book 2 in the Bad Monsters series. If you missed that, or any of his previous features and guest posts, you can check them out here

Back to today – Clinton’s shared a great post on the young adult fiction genre and why you’re never too old to enjoy great books…

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YOU’RE NEVER TOO OLD…

 When you walk into a brick and mortar bookstore (the few left anyway) or browse Amazon’s list of new book releases and see books under the category “young adult” what do you expect to see? Most people will say the Twilight series of books, maybe The Hunger Games trilogy, or any other single or set of books with young adults or children as protagonists dealing with common growing pains on their way to adulthood. Now, name the target audience for these books. This is an easy one. People will roll their eyes and probably say, “duh! What section of the store are you in? Young adult.” I can hear the forehead slapping right now.

 I’m not sure the definition and categorization is correct here.  For one, I don’t believe young adult fiction is written specifically for one audience, let along one that is a less mature age group. Publishers Weekly reported in late2012 that 55% of people buying and reading these types of books are 18 years or older. I’ll buy that. A lot of my friends read young adult fiction, a couple prefer the stories to some of the “adult fiction available. Most of them were reading Harry Potter (not an “adult” fictional series) in high school when the books were just coming out and bursting into a cultural phenomenon, book that are targeted at children and not high school students or anyone older.

The young adult and children’s fiction genres have good quality reading options for readers of all ages. The writing style is generally simple, sure. Description of the setting, characters, the over physical sights in the novels are not verbose. Vocabulary is simplified. However, some of deepest world building can occur in these adolescent novels.  The narrative is rich. The characters are vibrant, individualized, fully formed.  Even without paragraph-length descriptions, novels like those in the Harry Potter series have wonderful , colorful characters that people fall in love with and the worlds they inhabitant are no less realized. These novels can tackle adult issues, sociological and political and relationships.

Going back to my original question… what aspects of the novel makes it young adult? Again, generally the age of the protagonists makes the difference. Teen protagonist saving the world, dealing with homework, bullies, dating, family issues… yup, that’s a young adult novel typically. If you’re an older reader, immersing yourself in those types of stories is childish by the standards of other people.  Same as wearing capes and tights is stupid and kid-stuff.Except for a few cases, of course.That’s the stigma that separates the genre and leads to hesitation in readers of a more mature age. Is the young adult genre childish, though? I don’t think so.

Orson Scott Card wrote in the eighties “Ender’s Game”. Originally considered an adult novel (first a short story published through the magazine “Analog”). It’s about an eight or ten year old boy named Ender Wiggin who is by all accounts a genius. Ender is sent to a military academy in space so he can learn the art of war and so later he and the other cadets can lead the fight against an alien race of insects that humanity is at war with.  The novel contrasts the lives of children and adults, how the adults treat children, how the thoughts and ideas of children are no less real than an adult’s own because a child can manipulate and destroy as easily as an adult but he or she is also capable more so of creating and helping. Overall, the novel explores compassion and cruelty and how the concepts relate to humanity and humanity’s treatment of each other and another species.

Deep stuff, right?And there is a lot more themes woven into the novel, I touched on only a few Card explored. Remember, though, “Ender’s Game” is about a boy who is about eight or ten years old. Originally “Ender’s Game” was marketed as adult science fiction. Later editions of the novel place it in the young adult category because of the protagonist’s age and that at its core the novel is a Bildungsroman, a coming-of-age story about a boys’ moral and emotional growth. Can adults enjoy the story? Of course. Can adults learning something from the story? Damn straight! “Ender’s Game” is sometimes suggested reading at military organizations, the United States Marine Corps is one such group. “Ender’s Game” is today enjoyed by adults and younger readers a like without discrimination and despite its categorical labeling.

Another example of young adult fiction with adult themes is the His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. A number of years ago the first book in the trilogy, “The Golden Compass”, was adapted to film and starred Nichole Kidman and Daniel Craig. Box office results did not garner the property a sequel. Too bad since the material asks questions about religion, free will and the right to knowledge and how that plays into freedom and a person’s maturity. Again, main protagonist Lyria is a maturing little girl and developing into womanhood so the series is considered young adult. Its themes, however, contradict the silliness and juvenile perceptions of what most people view as an adolescent novel. If the film had done better, His Dark Materials may have found a wider popularity and acceptance like Potter or Twilight.

Should adults limit their to-read selections to what the publishing industry and general public considers adult? After all, many adolescent readers do not stick to roaming the young adult fiction shelves. They branch out. Those who like horror will find their way to Lovecraft and King and McCammon and Matheson. Fantasy lovers will read Lord of the Rings, they’ll crack open Brooks, Jordan, Erikson, or Martin. When I was in junior high and high school I was reading adult fiction. Reading young adult never crossed my mind.  What’s more is that some of the great portrayals of child heroes/protagonists are in adult novels, stories that spin a tale of how the child establishes his or her moral footing and uses those convictions to face adult challenges.

Why are adolescents allowed to read adult-marketed fiction but adults cannot venture to read young adult? Probably because someone younger reading A Song of Ice and Fire or Tales of Malazan or “The Shining” is considered mature while an adult reading Potter or some other younger title is juvenile.

Labels are the problem. Humans love to label and put things into boxes so we know what to avoid and what is acceptable. We do it to each other, to our neighbors. Genres in fiction are labels.

I always encourage people to read or watch entertainment based on their enjoyment and not popular perception. Fads fade in this fast-paced, internet, information at your fingertips world. Good novels—regardless of being adult themed or young adult themed—don’t transform into bad fiction when the census decides it’s ready to move on to the new/next shiny, noisy attention grabber.  Harry Potter—in my humble opinion—will remain a favorite of so many people because of its readership’s genuine love for the material, because the stories are good, because Rowling wrote something special. That young wizard turned on a generation to reading. Roald Dohl wrote memorable fiction that stand the test of time, regardless of the generation.  Multiple generations know about and enjoy “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “The BFG”, and “Matilda”. Lord of the Rings is another example where generations later people still love the books long after the author has passed and the first generation with him, it is the introduction of many to fantasy novels.

Good fiction is a category of its own, the only category that matters.

 

IAM Interview with…Jewel Thief, Michael Crandon

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Look whose back again! Our indie guest today is author Hazel West, who is joining us for a very special feature: interviewing jewel thief Michael Crandon, the lead character from her latest book… A Company of Rogues.

We’ve featured Hazel several times before on the blog, reviewing her books, as well as in interviews, so it’s a great pleasure to have her join us again to share her latest book with us – we hope you enjoy her character interview as much as we did, it certainly got me wanting to read the book! If you’d like to know more about Hazel, check out our previous features with her here.

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Company of Rogues coverMichael Crandon used to be an impeccable thief, never leaving a trace and never getting caught–that is until he takes a job with a flamboyant millionaire, Charles Randall who has got it into his head he wants the Dalton Emeralds, famous for belonging to Elizabeth I herself. When the heist goes horribly wrong and Michael is forced into hiding, he decides to swear off thieving and turn to more cultured and safe pursuits, such as knitting and drinking tea–oh, and consulting for other thieves on the side; he has to make a living somehow, after all. Then his comfortable world is turned upside down when the Emeralds are stolen and his old partner tells him Randall is out for his blood thinking him responsible. And as if that weren’t bad enough, he’s found himself forced into the company of a young, naive con man who’s got himself mixed up in the mess as well. Reluctantly, Michael agrees he has no choice but to find the Emeralds himself before Randall exacts his pound of flesh. Along with Reilly, the young grifter, Justine, a romance writer and Michael’s lady love, and Victor, the huge, yet friendly, Russian pub owner, Michael conducts this unlikely company of rogues to the ultimate goal of finding a peaceful existence once again–if that could even be possible for the ever unlucky Michael Crandon.

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Hi Michael, thanks for stepping out of the pages of A Company of Rogues to be with us today, it’s been a while since we’ve interviewed a character. So, let’s get started – can you describe yourself to me?

Describe myself? Very well. I’m a middle-aged, retired jewel thief, now running a consulting business for other thieves when they need help on a heist. I’m rather plain in appearance, nothing special—no flash and dash like everyone seems to think jewel thieves should have—and I rather like a good cup of tea and knitting at the end of the day.

How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?

Well, as of now, I finally have a somewhat normal and peaceful existence, and I’m quite happy with it. I run my own business and have plenty of time for the things I like to do, mostly living a peaceful life while knitting and drinking tea as well as pursuing my relationship with Miss Aberline. Yes, it might sound a bit dull, but if you’ve had the misfortune I have in my life, then you would understand my love of the mundane.

How do you feel about your family, now that you’re an adult?

Unfortunately I didn’t really get to live with my family as long as I should have. My mother died when I was very young and I don’t remember her, but my father always told me she was a sweet and loving woman—whether or not that was actually true, I liked to believe it. And my father was killed when I was thirteen so I had to fend for myself on the streets after that. I did love my father, and even though he wasn’t able to provide everything for me I never thought any less of him. I could have had it a lot worse.

What do you want from life?

What do I want from life? Survival! Peace from my past and those who come with it and also eventually a life with the woman a love. I hope to quit the criminal business as soon as I get enough funds to live happily away from it all.

How do you fall in love? At first sight? Over a long period?

I hate the idea of love at first sight. I really do. How could it be possible? And I really hate talking about it. And yet, I can’t deny that when I first met Justine Aberline, I knew I loved her. But it wasn’t just love at first sight fairy tale tripe either, it was just that we knew we belonged together. She read me and I couldn’t let her get away then, could I? But after our initial reaction, yes, our love has grown. It’s only a natural occurrence.

How do you decide if you can trust someone?

Well, first off, it’s a good thing if they don’t instantly try to kill me. Besides that, I am not much in the habit of trusting anyone unless I have known them for a long period of time and even then I can only count the number of people I trust on one hand. Being a thief and having to work with questionable characters has taught me how to read people and most of all not to trust anyone when it comes to money or power.

What really moves you, or touches you to the soul?

 I don’t like to say much about that. I’ve been so many years pushing my feelings aside, I hardly knows what moves me anymore, and I don’t like people to pry into it!

 What do you consider your special talent?

Well, if I do say so myself, I was a very good jewel thief and still am when I want to be. I never got caught, and only got on the wrong side of the Yard when I took on inexperienced partners who messed up an entire heist—thus forcing me to retire prematurely.

What do you wish your special talent was?

Hmm, that’s a tough one. I really would like to be better at fighting. I’m rubbish at it and I end up getting beaten a lot for my troubles. Now, don’t get me wrong, I try to avoid a fight if at all possible, but when there’s no way out, I would like to be able to hold my own.

What are you most proud of about your life?

Very little. Nothing in fact, apart from Justine. She’s truthfully the only good thing in my life.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Why?

When I was young, my family could barely scrape up enough money for one square meal a week, so I got in with some bad people and did some illegal things for them (moving certain items) but messed up and ended up getting my father killed for it. I’ve lived with that every day since.

 (The first book of Michael’s series “A Company of Rogues” will be out September 2014)

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DSCN1821_3 About the Author 

Hazel West lives in Florida and took up writing mostly as an excuse to stay out of the heat. Apart from being an Indie author, she also enjoys reading, drawing, drinking coffee, and knitting and crochet. A lover of all this historical and a good deal of folklore and mythology and enjoys seeing how those things can be written into stories.

And here are Hazel’s answers to our tough, but fun, Gimme 10 ‘mini interview’ – each question has to be answered in ten words or less. Let’s see how it goes…

Where do you find your inspiration? Everywhere, anything has been known to inspire me

 

  • What is your favourite aspect of A Company of Rogues?

The characters are thieves and cons but yet good people.

 

  • Who is your favourite character from A Company of Rogues and why?

Reilly. He’s adorable, and if flawed, a good kid at heart

 

  • What are you working on now?

An urban fantasy about the descendants of legendary Irish warriors.

 

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  • hat do you love about most about writing?

Crafting characters that can become real to the reader.

 

 

 Want to know more? Check out the links! 

Blog: http://hazelwest.blogspot.com

Tales From a Modern Bard (short stories/fiction): http://talesfromamodernbard.blogspot.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/artfulscribbler

Pintrest: http://www.pinterest.com/artfulscribbler/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5289626.Hazel_B_West

You can find all my books here: http://hazelwest.blogspot.com/2013/03/purchase-links.html

IAM Guest Feature…A Day in the Life of an Author

To launch our Indie Author Month 2014, we’re pleased to welcome back to the blog author and satirist Michael Cargill. Regular visitors to the blog may well recognise Michael from his previous interviews and features where we’ve reviewed his books (see previous features here) – today he’s back to tell us about being an author.

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A day in the life of an author

By Michael Cargill

 

The other day I received an email from a friend complaining that I spend far too much time writing and not enough time socialising. I found myself surprised by the email, initially because I couldn’t help but notice that the apostrophes were in all the wrong places, but as I read through it a realisation began to dawn on me: my lifestyle has become wholly incompatible with how my friends live.

I’ve been an author for nearly three years now and, although the changes that this has brought to my life are dramatic and overwhelming, they have occurred at such a gradual pace that I hadn’t really noticed them until now. Imagine travelling across Europe, absorbing and immersing yourself in all the sights and local cultures as you go, and before you know it you’re dining on racoon goulash and vodka coffee in the Siberian plains like it’s the most natural thing in the world. It’s as if the Twilight Zone has come to life… and by Jove is it effing marvellous.

This morning my alarm clock went off as it usually does and after splashing my face with cold mineral water I had to shoo Apple, my Siamese cat, off of my yoga mat lest he claw it to bits and spoil my chi. Bear in mind that I get up at midnight so there’s always a few minutes of fumbling around in the dark as I try to get my bearings but once all the lanterns have been lit (why do the matches never seem to be in the same place that I left them?) I’ll spend a few minutes doing leg stretches and finger exercises before stepping into my sun-blushed slippers and unlocking the door to my office. I sit down, make myself comfy, and check with Roald Dahl to see if anyone has sent me any important letters, fan mail, or ideas for future stories, all of which happen with surprising regularity these days. Although he has something of a high pitched voice and an annoying tendency to ramble on a bit, the great man does an important job for me so I patiently wait for him to finish. Just to clarify, Roald Dahl is the name I’ve given to my fax machine and may God bless his noisily efficient soul.

With all the boring admin and paperwork out of the way, I’m free to move onto the more interesting things that the modern world has blessed us with. If it’s a Wednesday I’ll fire up the laptop and connect up to one of those online elearning portals that are all the rage these days. Although Sting and his wife have developed something of a reputation for bad time keeping, their tantric sex meditation sessions are worth their wait in gold so I just sit tight until they’re ready to get things started.

When that palaver (finally) finishes my other alarm clock goes off to remind me that it’s 6am and the local coffee shop will be opening up for the day. After popping down on my scooter I’ll order a strawberry latte and, depending on how hungry I’m feeling, maybe even an apricot croissant.

By the way, does anyone else’s coffee shop sell those overpriced wafer biscuits? £3.50 for a flimsy hazelnut cream snack? No thanks, not when I’ve already got a bag of Melba toast in the kitchen cupboard.

Anyway, the barista is a pretty girl from Romania who pronounces the silent ‘p’ in the word receipt and I’m sure she’d be thrilled to learn that she made a brief appearance in one of my books… and the three year old girl in a pushchair who pulled a blanket over her head when I poked my tongue out at her, she’d be tickled pink to hear that her shyness planted the seed for an unwritten story that has been bouncing around in my head for the past six months or so.

There’s also the teenager in baggy jeans and oversized baseball cap who, even though I only caught sight of him for a few seconds on the London Underground, gave me the idea for the as yet unpublished short story that is currently sitting pretty on my external hard drive. And the woman in black tights who was sat cross-legged in her chair, completely oblivious to the fact that I was staring at her as she casually bounced a loose shoe off the end of her foot… she’d probably think I was an oddball if she knew that her slender thighs were the inspiration for a short scene in a book I published last year.

Once I’ve had my fill of coffee and grown bored of observing the actions of people minding their own business I’ll scoot back home to check my sales ranking. I load up the Amazon page, enter my password, and OHMYGOSHASALE! This is wonderful, it’s been ages since someone expressed an interest in… hold on, they went and got a refund shortly afterwards. How dare they do such a thing, that’s… that’s just plain unfair.

*Sigh*

If only I could hold down a regular 9-5 office job.

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About the Author: Living in England, Surrey and about to break the 33-years old barrier.  I can honestly say that coming to terms with getting older is worse than puberty.  At 14 every extra hair was greeted with rapturous applause and a desire to show it off at school.  Every time a small breeze blew I would worry that it was going to blow away.

These days whenever I spot a new nasal hair I can hear it laughing at me.  I even have to make use of electronic devices to prune it back.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Blog – http://michaelcargill.wordpress.com/

Twitter – @MichaelCargill1   Facebook

The Books…

Author Page on Goodreads

 Trailer for Underneath  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUBrxs38Dkc

Smashwords

UK Amazon

It’s Here! Indie Author Month 2014

Guest Feature

It’s here!

Welcome to our third Indie Author Month! It’s come around quickly, hasn’t it? So, over the next few weeks we’ve got a whole load of new books, authors and characters to introduce you to – so sit back, grab a cuppa and enjoy meeting our 2014 Indies! Mel x