IAM15 Interview…Tony Talbot

    Thanks to everyone for taking part in Indie Month 2015!

Hope to see you next year…

IAM 2015 - Topper

To round out Indie Month, we’re talking to AfW regular Tony Talbot



Tony Talbot started writing short stories in 2008, after a dream he had and couldn’t shake; Finally his wife told him to write it down or stop talking about it.

He wrote his first Young Adult novel, Over the Mountain, in 2008, and has completed several others and a growing raft of short stories since.

He lives in a village in Leicestershire, UK, with an American wife he met online and two cats. As well as writing, he enjoys reading, playing on the Wii-U and not getting enough exercise.



What is you favourite way to spend a rainy day?

Listening to it and watching it from somewhere dry. I love a good rainstorm.

You’ve found a time machine on your driveway this morning – where are you going to go in it?

Forward a week so I can sell it to myself on Ebay. 🙂

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?

A laptop, A Kindle with a solar charger and a good internet connection. And an endless supply of Jelly Beans.

What is the one book you think everyone should read?

Oh, so many! To Kill a Mockingbird is just sublime, as good as it gets.

How do you react to a bad review?

Sulk for weeks. Tear my hair out. Then go and write something else. You’re never going to please everyone, so if most people like it, you’re on to something.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?

Mostly it was shock! “They liked it! I’m getting paid for doing this, can you believe it?”

One food you would never eat?

Broccoli. It’s just not right, and I don’t trust it one bit. I always feel like it’s judging me.

What has been your most rewarding experience since being published?

Having reviewers saying that something made them cry, or carried them away to another world for a while. That’s pretty amazing.

What was your favorite book when you were younger?

Bedknob and Broomstick by Mary Norton. I adored that book, and I still have a copy.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

Never give up. And always put everything you have into everything you write.

If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why?

I’d love to be right at the place and time where we know, without a doubt, that aliens are communicating with us. To look into the sky that night, point at a white dot among the millions and say, “There they are.”

What is your favorite Quote?

Currently, not one from a book, but from a maintenance plate on an elevator / lift: Keep well oiled to ensure satisfaction.

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

A librarian for a while. An undertaker (I thought: it’s great job security!). It was always something always bookish and indoors-y.

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why?

Wil Wheaton. He’s about four days older than me, so the age is right for a start. He’s a great actor, very under used talent. I think he could pull off playing the Shining Light that is Me. 😉

Who are your favorite authors of all time?

Dean Koontz for seeing the tragedies of the world with humour; Stephen King for seeing the horror that lurks inside normal people; Charles Dickens for his characterisation.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?

Oh, all of them are parts of me, the good bits and the bad. The lovers of rainstorms and the socially awkward teenagers.

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

There was a photo essay the other week in “The Atlantic” – they have a cool photo section – and it was people who dress as zombies and then go and parade through cities. I thought: What about if real zombies were in there as well and no one noticed – they all thought they were REALLY good at staying in character while they ate people’s brains…And how would the cops know who to take down or arrest?

Hidden talent?

Double jointed thumbs – both of them. It’s a little freaky.

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

Star Wars Episode VII. It’s going to be BIG.

Cats or Dog?

I have two cats now, so I’m heading towards cats on this one…

Apples or Oranges?

Oranges if they don’t have pips. Apples if they aren’t too mushy.

Cause or Effect?

Oh, effects. They’re much more fun, aren’t they?

Heads or Tails?

Heads. Always heads.

Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook. Twitter is a strange, truncated world…

Truth or Dare?

Truth. Or maybe dare. Is there a third option?

Text or Talk?

Talk. I can’t get the hang of text speak…

Favorite quote from a movie?

“Why is the rum gone?!” Captain Jack Sparrow.


Guest Post: Short Stories 101

I was emailing an Australian friend the other day (Anna Hub). She’s written four novels and just finished a fifth (The Ninth Hunter, well worth looking for when it comes out). But…she’s not sure where to start with short stories.

Most writers start with short stories and progress to novels, so it’s curious to see it the other way round…

“Bigger” (54 words)

“Mick? Did you hear that?” Elbows him awake.
“Something downstairs.”
“Bloody cat.”
“No. It sounded bigger.”
“Bloody dog then.”
“No! Bigger.”
“Bloody kids.”
“Yeah. Lots bigger.”
Mick purses lips. “Burglar?”
Eyes wide. “Yeah.”
“Big burglar?”
“Then he can take the bloody cat, bloody dog and bloody kids. Goodnight!”

 …the trick with short stories is to use your reader’s knowledge of the world to your advantage. I didn’t need to say these two are in bed and asleep when the story starts; I didn’t need to say it’s most likely the middle of the night (Most burglars don’t work afternoons, after all). “Elbows him awake” takes care of most of that in three words. Mick has a name, but his partner doesn’t. Trim the fat and leave what you need.

Short stories don’t need to be that short either. Technically, anything under 20,000 words is ‘a short story’, so you have a lot of room to move around in. Most of mine come to between 1500 and 3000 words, for example.

The real fun with short stories is to take what the readers assume and find a way to twist the end. So a short story about a man exploring an alien world turns out to be a robot exploring earth, for instance. Or drop in a humorous spin, like “Bigger”.

Here a great one from science fiction master of the twist and short, Frederic Brown:

“Earth was dead after the last atomic war. Nothing grew, nothing lived. The last man sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…”

Everything you need is right there. We know who the story is about, we know the world he lives in, and there’s even a hook for suspense. Twenty seven words to create a world and tell a story.

Shorter than that? Here’s a (possibly apocryphal) story from Ernest Hemingway:

“For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

Short stories are a great way of perfecting the art of keeping the bits you don’t need out of your novels as well. Sharpen your skills on them and it will always serve you well.

(Reblogged from Musings: The Blog of Tony Talbot)


Where can we find you?

Find me online at Amazon, @authortony, http://www.tony-talbot.co.uk – or drop by for a chat at Goodreads.

Thanks for taking part in Indie Month, Tony!

IAM15 Guest Feature…Competition Writing

IAM 2015 - Topper Back in January, I saw an advert for the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge and whilst I was mulling over whether to have a go at it or not, I posted the link onto my Facebook Author Page to share with others. As it was, I got distracted by something else shiny and didn’t sign up to take part, but a friend – on his way to being an Indie Author – did and completed the first couple of rounds. In today’s guest feature, Christopher William Kinsey, shares a re-blog of the post from his own blog The Kinswah Reflective discussing the experience and sharing the entry he wrote that took him through to Round Two!

NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge – Round One: Weighty Words

Having never managed to keep a short story below 8,000 words before, I took it upon myself to enter this year’s NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. I had no expectation of progressing but thought it’d be a good exercise. For Round One the participants were given eight days to write a story with no more than 2,500 words. In addition to the time and word limit, the genre, subject and character would be random along with the distribution of the writers across the forty-eight groups.

After weighing up the possible genres I decided comedy was the least preferable. The literary gods must have been listening because – you guessed it – I got comedy. Doing a competition just for fun is one thing, attempting a clean-cut comedy is another. After five days of ignoring it I sat down and bundled the following words together. I’m not particularly overjoyed with the results but in one of the biggest surprises of the century, it managed to finish fourth in my heat and progress. Heat 28 – Genre: Comedy; Subject: Unemployment; Character: A Fitness Instructor.


Dale, a former fitness instructor, ponders why he was fired from his last job as he works out in his mother’s basement.

Weighty Words

Dale couldn’t help wonder if he followed bad advice based on what seemed to fit at the time. What at first appeared to be breadcrumbs – offhanded remarks, disguised as advice – now dangled the proposition they were just innocent remarks. Working up the type of sweat he used to force upon his old clientele at the gym, life seemed grim. His pectorals heaved, metal clunked as it echoed around his mother’s basement, while thoughts kept persisting on what job he’d get next.

He’d been a fitness instructor. At the time it was a natural fit. During his high school years he was the typical introvert. When his peers laid on the wise cracks he tried to crawl for the shadows. What he couldn’t build up with banter he’d make up with brawn. The obsession with a better body allowed little time for much else. This included girls and grades.

His folks hinted he could follow family members into their respective fields. His father had repeatedly said:“It’s not what you know but who you know.” The usual follow up sentence his father often added was, “Think about what you’re good at and what those in the family can do.”

To Dale these tips were handy pointers from his father, Bob Tasker, a successful accountant. His old man obviously hadn’t wanted to feed the information on a plate but the hint was snatched upon. He could work in the fitness industry. His hobby was keeping in shape; it made sense to extend this to others. And his father, the cheeky scamp, had left the important subtle hint: think about what those in the family can do. Both Dale and his father were good with figures.

It was after starting work for Mr Nobbs at Fitness Forever he realised another important family trait would come in handy. Dale spent his days pushing people beyond their limits, shouting as they endured pain they wanted for psychological pleasure. Metaphorically cracking the whip during one hour sessions as their personal trainer/torturer. Dale’s ability to do this like a seasoned pro probably came from his mother’s genes. She worked as a dominatrix. The main difference was she literally cracked the whip.

Thankfully tucked away in her basement, like he was now, the sounds of her business remained just that – her business. His new role in life was to ensure the clients left on time and his mother was okay. His parents split years ago, Bob Tasker, being good with numbers, reduced the amount of digits that ended up going his wife’s way. Maggie Tasker had been getting her revenge on men ever since.

It was only her son that received the soft touch from her.

Bob never understood why his advice was ignored the first place. He specifically recalled – on numerous occasions –telling Dale to stick to what he’d be able to do, and to get a job through the family. Short of driving him to Uncle Chad’s store, dressing him in the uniform, demonstrating how to stack shelves, there wasn’t much more he could have done.

These thoughts would have devastated Dale, but he would never hear them, to do so would have meant breaking the Tasker family long held tradition of never speaking clearly or directly to one another. It was much safer and politer to live in a world of assumptions and silence.

Continuing his own fitness regime had kept his mind sharp. Well, as sharp as Dale’s would ever be, it was still more like a spoon than a knife. Still, he reasoned if he worked out why he had failed as a personal fitness instructor then he could avoid similar outcomes in the future. To date this in the most logical thought Dale has ever expressed.

It should have been his dream job. Once he started for Mr Nobbs it became apparent that a lad without an imagination struggled to see the pluses. His lack of drive meant Dale never became certified. This lack of qualification was a bonus for Mr Nobbs for the purposes of hiring – Dale could he palmed off with a lower wage – and an aid to firing.

Study was a reminder of the dark days. The high school days. Boys full of bravado, girls with condescending stares. Those same characters had frequented Forever Fitness.

Instead of performing wedgies on underwear, the boys – who hadn’t grown into men, they’d just become bigger boys– pulled their bodies up on frames instead. They dropped testosterone everywhere they walked, it dripped on the bench press, it acted as steam in the sauna after a workout. Dale’s safe haven had been invaded by those he’d tried to escape.

He wondered if the “geeks” from school had made the right call. No former football captain was ruining chess nights or giving scorn during online gaming sessions. They definitely would never enter a comic book convention or Lord of the Rings fancy dress re-enactment.

The nerds had fewer women in tight fitting spandex to look at, Dale thought. This should have been a glimmer of hope, a perk and a pick-me-up. It was not. Dale saw those same mean girls from school now. Except they, unlike their male counterparts, had grown up. They had become bitchy women. They pretend flirted, as if part of an elaborate act Dale couldn’t comprehend, whilst focusing on everything but the simple goals he’d lay out.

They cared little for running times and lifting weights. They seemed preoccupied with their stretch marks, then in a contradiction cooed over the ones Dale had gained across his shoulders and chest from getting ripped too fast. Bob Tasker laughed at how his son never had enough brains to go around and now it seemed he was short on skin too.

The women also found it more important to update social media. Getting fit would be an accidental side effect of what was in reality an exercise in public exposure. Instead of doing the four sets per station Dale gave them, it was four selfies. Rather than risk breaking a sweat, which would be a disaster for the carefully applied make up, it was more pressing to get a shot near the big machines. Later they could pretend they’d used them while acting drained over a coffee. And a cake.

It should have resulted in a fairly easy day. Only a handful of his clients wanted to lose weight or gain definition. The bored housewife majority could have been his brain off hours. Problem was, his brain off hours started when his eyes opened in the morning, only finishing at bedtime.

This lack of foresight gave a rise to Dale aggravating the paying public. Mr Nobbs cared little if the people with gym memberships used the establishment, he cared even less if the ones that paid extra for Dale actually tried in class. Their lack of motivation equalled more cash. If they never won the battle of the bulge then Mr Nobbs would continue to fund the arms race. Complaints that Dale was too strict, too rude, or too insensitive were a problem.

Most of these came about due to misunderstanding. Take Penny Pinnerman, she asked for a simple request, that from his perspective, Dale attempted to stay on top of. She wanted a “Better tone.”Penny Pinnerman thought it wasn’t too big of a task. She was naturally a thin woman, even the smallest lycra shorts had excess material in the bum region, it was as if she’d been stretched on a rack.

Instead she got Dale snapping at her every other sentence. “Watch how you answer me back in that voice,” he’d say.“Enough of whining in that pitch,” he had once snapped. She felt bad telling Mr Nobbs but it got too much.

Dale was dumbfounded when the complaint was read out during his informal warning. He had prided himself on going that extra mile for the customer. He liked to take a holistic view. That was an alien word to Dale, but so was the cause of this complaint.

Mr Nobbs received Dale’s best apology face. Dale left the office more certain than ever that all women were from the same type of high school clique.

Dale was used to the female clients having perverse views of their bodies. “My bum looks massive today,” was a popular one, when in reality their rears didn’t catch the eye quite as much as the flab bubbling over the waistband. Penny’s request was a new take though. She hated her voice, or more exactly, her tone. Well, that’s how Dale perceived her request. So during work outs he’d point out when her nagging got to that grating level that was most unattractive. Was it really his fault if that happened to be every few seconds? People shouldn’t ask for the truth unless they can take it.

Dale placed the dumbbells on the floor, as he did they kicked up some dust, no carpet had ever been laid down here. He flicked off the dance music he always used during workouts and turned the television on.

A daytime chat show host was shouting at a man for not paying his child maintenance money, then shouted at the woman for not knowing if this guy was even the father – DNA tests after the break. He was glad his father never asked for such a test, just in case. Not inheriting his brains was bad enough, zero cash would have been worse.

Dale sat on the exercise bike. A stationary device to reflect how his constant efforts and peddling would get him nowhere. He did this bit of cardio now to keep an eye on the time. The mystery guest in his mother’s bedroom didn’t have long left.

His mind drifted to the formal warning he received. This time Katie Renton, whom everyone cruelly called Cakie Ten-ton. Her request was simple, a reduction in size. Dale thought Cakie, sorry, Katie, need to lose more than just one dress size. She needed to get to a size where dresses were just that – dresses – and not recycled tents and bedspreads.

After one session she lay slumped on the exercise mat after performing three of the most trying and all-consuming sit-ups ever witnessed by mankind. Had she been the first person to attempt them under study conditions sit-ups would have been outlawed on grounds of danger. People would have placed them above anthrax and napalm on a list of things to avoid.

“I’m struggling because of the weight today,” she wheezed.

This irked Dale, “Maybe avoid the snack shop before the session then.”He was perfect when it came to punctuality; the wait today was her rolling in ten minutes late with a ring of cream around her lips. The audacity of some people never failed to surprise.

Mr Nobbs reminded Dale that while it was perfectly acceptable to offer basic dietary advice, pointing out missteps in a derogatory fashion was something that couldn’t go unpunished.

Dale made the situation worse when he said, “That snack bar should be shut. I know it makes money but too many are in there eating.” To Dale it was like having free beer on tap during an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

The end of show music made the old TV vibrate and hum; this brought Dale back from his daydream. Maggie should have text by now.

He stopped peddling.

Dale had never been one for dramatics– they took up to much energy, imagination, thought – but this was worrying. His mother stuck rigidly to a system once it was in place. Especially when it was for safety purposes. She couldn’t be killing people in her line of work by accidents and oversights.

He walked slowly to the blaring screen and removed its power. The house was perfectly silent. The niggling voice of doubt pointed out it would be in the basement so he took purposeful steps toward the upstairs entry. The stairs creaked as they absorbed his weight; the door to the main corridor gave a warning groan.

On the other side there was still nothing but silence. Had the client left, his mother would be running hot water for a shower or bath. Had the paying pervert stayed the crack of leather or a howl of pain would be filling the walls. He took the staircase to the upper floor.

At the door of the main bathroom, facing the top of the stairs, Dale saw his mother’s dressing gown. He bounced over the last steps and pushed his way into the room. She was sat on the toilet, lid down, using it as a chair. The gown covered up her work clothes, only her black boots were evident.

“What’s up?” Dale asked.

“I pushed myself too hard today, love,” she said. Her face looked drained as she spoke. In his dressing gown her tired face and messy hair made her look more like an inhabitant of a care home than a mistress.

“Why didn’t you call for me?”

“The client is still her,” she said.“I was only taking a break before getting back to him. Then my chest – don’t worry, it’s passed – but my chest was aching a little.”

“Well you definitely should have called me,” he said with a pained expression. He wondered if he needed to give CPR. He’d seen it performed on a first aid video. It didn’t look like she needed help breathing so they could skip that – thank God, only he knew where that mouth had been today – but a few chest compressions could help.

Or the Heimlich manoeuvre, he’d seen that get people going again, but that was after they’d been gagging and his mother wasn’t. Well, she had been, but he hadn’t seen that, it was minutes before she took a turn for the worst.

“He’s still here,” she said. “The client. You’ll have to untie him.”

“Wow! No way,” he replied.

“Please, love,” she said. “He’s blindfolded, so just unclip one hand and leave the room. He’ll see himself out. I’m not up to anything else today.”

The look on her weathered face pulled on all his compassion. “Okay, you go and get a cup of tea and relax,” he said.

The walk to his mother’s “Workroom”was more nerve wracking than the one he’d taken from the basement. He swung the door open, expecting the seediness to suffocate him. Instead his eyes relayed information that replaced fear with shock, confusion with anger.

Spread star-shaped on the four poster bed, tied at his wrists and ankles, a blindfold covering his eyes with a gag in his mouth, was Mr Nobbs. Dale walked over and unfastened the gag.

Mr Nobbs coughed, spittle landed over his face, and he said: “You had me going. But it was good. A tease is good. Now finish me off.”

As always Dale understood you had to adhere to the wishes of the paying customer. And true to form, his understanding of the context was some way off.


If you enjoyed this, you can check out Chris’s entry for Round Two here. At the moment Chris is working on finalising his first novel release as an indie author, which will be available soon!


IAM15 Guest Post…Anna Hub

IAM 2015 - TopperToday we’re talking to Anna Hub about…


Shadow Hunters (Book Two)

“He said it wasn’t like the Valley, he never said it was paradise.”

Selena has survived her transfer into the Shadowlands — she has already beaten the odds — but she soon discovers that although life outside the Valley may be different, it is no less dangerous.

While she searches for a purpose in her new life Brayden sets out to prove he’s not bound by the compulsions of a hunter, but can he master his Instinct before the villagers come to destroy him?



When I was a child I wanted to be an author, it seemed like a perfectly attainable dream to me then, but of course I grew up and realised that writing was not the best way to make a future for myself. So I discarded the idea and decided to do something normal.

When I studied nursing I thought I’d found a place for myself, but within six months of working in that field I knew I needed more. So in July 2007 I bought myself a lap top and started writing in my spare time. It took me two years to complete my first book and by the time it was finished I felt as though I’d learnt enough to pursue the dream.

My love for writing has grown rapidly since then and now I know that it’s something I can’t live without. It’s a place where there is no limit, no exact destination and my mind is free to exist in many worlds.

It’s a beautiful sanctuary.


Guest Post: Why I became and Indie author

These days, being an independent author becomes more viable with each passing week. In the couple of years since I first self-published there has been a huge shift in publishing platforms such as, Amazon, Kobo, Createspace, all of them recognising the growing market and making publishing easier than it’s ever been. And the best is yet to come. Plenty of authors are dropping their publishers and taking the indie route to regain creative control of their work. You can write at your own pace, choose your editors and your book cover, market according to any strategy and of course, keep all your royalties. Why wouldn’t you want to be an indie author?

Are we still battling against the idea that you need a publisher for legitimacy?

Honestly, anyone who’s written a book knows the labour comes long before the publisher. We’ve spent weeks, months, years pouring our heart into our work. We’ve suffered headaches and RSI, we’ve edited out thousands of words and replaced them with better ones, we’ve agonised over single sentences and analysed every plot element until we’re sure it fits. At the end of all that, why would we hand it over to someone else and ask them if we’ve succeeded? I guess the first question we need to ask ourselves, is why we write and what do we hope to achieve?

When I started writing, I set myself goals. There were so many dreams I had for myself and for a long time I believed finding a publisher was at the top of that list. Like so many others, I thought that was the benchmark to measure myself against. But after years of working on my series, I told a friend I planned to seek a publisher and his single response changed my entire perspective.

He asked why I’d written the books but my answer wasn’t, ‘to be published’. In reality, I became a writer to help myself make sense of the world. I use words as a means to digest my thoughts and without this vessel in my life, I don’t feel balanced. That was where it all began, and when I realised how much I loved it I wanted to see how far I could push myself. I didn’t want to put words on the page just for the sake of venting anymore, I wanting to create something that embodied who I was. To build an entire world where I could face my fears and grow into the person I longed to be.

My friend said it sounded as though I’d already succeeded and I finally understood that I didn’t need approval from a publisher. I thought I needed the shiny wrapping paper but in that one conversation I finally took a step back and acknowledged that I’d already made it. I was complete long before my books even went to print.

For me, placing that sense of achievement in someone else’s hands would have been destructive. All along, this journey was meant to teach me to recognise myself and while the books themselves aren’t perfect, they gave me the gumption to stand tall and be a proud indie author.


Where can we find you?

Website: http://annahubbooks.com/

Blog: http://annahubbooks.com/blog/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnaHubBooks

Amazon.com http://tinyurl.com/p5dku7q

Amazon.co.uk http://tinyurl.com/nq979c8

Amazon.com.au http://tinyurl.com/px73bzu


Thanks for taking part in Indie Month, Anna!

(If you enjoyed Anna’s post, she’s going to be blogging for us from time to time…so check back soon!)

IAM15 Snapshot Interview…Melissa Groeling

IAM 2015 - TopperToday’s guest author is Melissa Groeling. She’s dropped in to answer one of our tough ‘Gimme 10’ interviews, where you have to answer each question in ten words or less. You can also find out more about her novel Lights Out.

So let’s get started with the questions…


Melissa Groeling

Melissa Groeling

10 words or less?!? Yikes! 🙂

1. Where do you find your inspiration? Through most people I know.

2. What is your favourite aspect of Lights Out? How heavy Paul’s emotional baggage is. I torture him relentlessly.

3. Who is your favourite character from Lights Out and why? He’s the catalyst for the redemption that Paul needs desperately.

4. What are you working on now? A story called Two Evils.

5. What do you love about most about writing? Creating something from the ground up 🙂


Lights Out cover-1 

Even when the lights are out, he can still see you…

Paul Holten’s profession doesn’t leave much room for doubt or conscience but he’s reaching his breaking point. The nightmares are getting worse, the jobs are getting harder to finish and the volatile relationship with his boss, Aaron, is falling apart. Now faced with the possibility of an impending death sentence, Paul makes the fatal decision to run. Drawn into one hellish situation after another, he’s forced to confront his dark past—and wonder if perhaps dying isn’t the better option.



Want to know more? Check out the links!

Melissa Groeling graduated from Bloomsburg University with a degree in English. She lives, reads and writes in the Philadelphia region and wherever else life happens to send her. She is a hardcore New York Giants fan and loves chocolate. Lights Out is her second novel to date.




Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H51R2AS

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lights-out-melissa-groeling/1117540680?ean=2940148946137

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/379110

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-lightsout-1369485-235.html

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19270732-lights-out

IAM15 Guest Post…Carmen Stevens

IAM 2015 - Topper

Today we’re talking to Carmen Stevens about…



Fourteen-year old Anne Falkman is an arrogant, desperate orphan trying to live any way she can on the streets of London. Through her desolate, lonely years, a hope was born within her, the hope that fate would bless her and give her lasting happiness. Growing up with an abusive, alcoholic father, Anne has nurtured a fear of men. She also fears marrying and giving birth, which was the death of her mother and caused her father to go mad and violently hate his daughter. When a series of events gives Anne a chance for happiness, she takes it and achieves her dreams, but at what cost? Will she attain the life of happiness that she dreamed of? Which choices are the best ones to make?



Carmen Gross, pen name Carmen Stevens, was born in Fargo, ND, March 1992. She currently resides in Detroit Lakes, MN, where she is a recent college graduate and works part-time. Carmen published her novel “Anne” in July 2013-an exciting, richly-written historical work about a young English girl who makes many bad choices throughout her life and then struggles to find redemption.


Guest Post: Why I Love Being an Indie Author

Because I’m in control of everything involving my book, and I’m a bit of a control freak, so this is a good thing to me. I try to do my best every day as I promote my book. I take advantage of guest posts and book reviewers, utilize social media sites to get the word out, keep up with the writers’ groups that I’m a part of on Goodreads and Facebook, write in my blog regularly, and so forth. It’s definitely not the easiest job in the world, but it’s also not the hardest. I try to have fun with it, and I encourage other indie authors to enjoy their promoting as well. I do look forward to attaining a career (I attended college for Paralegalism) and get some steady money coming in so I can do more to promote my work. In the meantime, however, I’m happy just doing what I can to promote my work and myself as an author. Thanks very much for this opportunity!!


Where can we find you?

My Links

Blog: http://bubblymissy16.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/carmstevens

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7191165.Carmen_Stevens

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

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/carmenstevens

Book’s Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Anne-Carmen-Stevens-ebook/dp/B00E4D3HY0

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/372253

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18245315-anne

Thanks for taking part in Indie Month, Carmen!

IAM15 Guest Post….Bryan Perkins

IAM 2015 - Topper

Today we’re talking to Bryan Perkins about…


The Asymptote’s Tail

Far into our future humankind controls the fabric of reality with such ease that “here” and “there” have become one. Space is bent such that many separate worlds exist, most in complete ignorance of the others. The Asymptote’s Tail begins the story of the interactions between seven of those worlds.

In one, a servant imagines life with no master and learns if she can withstand the risks that come with freedom. In another, a young girl is forced into freedom of another kind when her parents disappear and she sets out to find them.

An actor learns how much work is done by who in which worlds and decides what he wants to do about it, a black cat tries to decipher the ways of humankind and protect his owner as she does the same, an assembly line worker seeks revenge for the death of her son, a police officer learns what the job entails and decides if he can stay on the force, and a scientist vies to regain control over her inventions which are being used to wreak havoc on all the worlds of Outland.

As each new perspective illuminates experiences from the old, the Sisyphean nature of chasing an endless limit and the totality of contradictions inherent in a divided system become clear. “Then” and “now” take on as little difference as “here” and “there”, for in the end, we are all, everywhere, and forever chasing The Asymptote’s Tail.

The Asymptote’s Tail is an epic science fiction novel and the first in the four-part Infinite Limits series.


bp(Author photo by Geoff Badeaux)

Bryan “with a Y” Perkins is an Air Force brat who ended up in Louisiana by way of Nevada, Arizona, California, Rhineland-Palatinate (in Germany), and Colorado. After graduating from Airline High School in Bossier City, Louisiana, he received a Bachelor’s in Biology from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge then scurried further south to New Orleans where he works a soul-crushing job for just enough hours to pay the bills and support his true passion, writing.


A Day in the Life of Bryan

by Bryan Perkins

At seven in the morning, sometimes six-thirty, sometimes nine, but every day of the week, sharp cat claws, delicately caressing your eyes and nose, or brushing through your hair, awaken you. Mr. Kitty is ready for the day.

You’re not, though, and Mr. Kitty knows it. That’s why he wakes you up.

“Oh, alright,” you grumble, moaning and groaning, crawling out of your bed to eliminate yesterday’s waste before stumbling back into your room to sit behind the desk and wake up the laptop that’s waiting for you there–asleep itself and probably no more ready for the day than you are.

First thing’s first, though, no matter what any of the three of you want: You have to get to work. Luckily–or unluckily as the case may be–you’re already there, so you begin as soon as you sit down, getting the worst part of your day out of the way.

Work is painful, soul crushing to even talk about. No one knows what it is–not even the people you work for–and you don’t care enough to explain. “Search engine evaluation” the people who pay you call it, but everyone you tell that title to confuses it with SEO so you don’t use it often. You prefer QA. You do quality assurance for search engines is what you tell anyone who asks–not many people, you don’t get out much. Which is true, in a sense, but you’re more like a taste tester, putting yourself in the shoes of a million different Google users, imagining how satisfied they each would be with the results of their unique personal searches, an oddly intimate relationship to have with completely anonymous strangers who you could never hope to meet.

After two hours of murdering your soul for a wage, only leaving the same room you slept in to get a drink or pee, Mr. Kitty is ready to leave. You are, too. You both actually start getting antsy around the half hour mark, but you’ve been trained so well by time that the energy doesn’t properly burst until hour two. When it does, it’s time to go outside.

Mr. Kitty is probably up on the mantel already, staring at the door of the office/bedroom, meowing to get out, so you slip the red bandana in your back pocket and snap Mr. Kitty’s pink harness and leash on. You live too close to a busy street to let him run free anymore, but he’s too used to being wild to be cooped up inside all day, so you both had to compromise. The red bandana gets tied outside your neighbor’s door so her bear of a dog, heavier even than she is, doesn’t eat the cat it’s been licking its massive slobbery jaws at for months.

Walking a cat for ten minutes is not like walking a dog for ten minutes. You don’t walk Mr. Kitty, you follow him, walking as quietly as possible so as not to frighten him, until he goes somewhere you can’t, then you turn him around and follow him some more. Usually you stay in the shaded parking lot behind your building, sniffing cars, tearing up the wooden fence with the same sharp claws that woke you up, or chasing the neighborhood cats out of your territory, but on some days, Mr. Kitty likes to walk all the way to the corner of the block, only running and hiding if there’s a bus or truck to hiss with their pneumatic brakes and scare him away.

After ten minutes, it’s back inside and back to work, whether Mr. Kitty–or you, for that matter–likes it or not. You grab a granola bar for breakfast, to eat while you work, and after two more hours of near soul death experience, it’s ten more minutes in the yard with Mr. Kitty. You work two final hours, usually while eating lunch–frozen Quorn, soy, and quinoa have been on the menu a lot since you gave up meat–then the third ten minute walk with Mr. Kitty, which is the best, because your soul is finally free to rest and recuperate.

Now the beers pop open. You don’t do that, they do it of their own accord, you swear. Besides, you live in New Orleans, a little casual alcoholism is accepted–if not actively encouraged. And though Hemingway has been fake quoted so often–it wasn’t him, actually, but Peter De Vries–as saying “Write drunk, edit sober”, you say “Two o’clock, time to drink” whatever stage of the process you’re in.

And now you’re writing, or editing–as above–but it doesn’t matter. Your soul is healing itself from the beating it took earning the right to do this. An hour passes by within the blink of an eye while you play in an imaginary world filled with imaginary people. Another beer opens, more worlds, more characters, more stories. And you write and you write, and you know it’s the writing, not the beer, repairing your soul, but another one opens anyway, because today is a new day and it’s never ending.

Then six o’clock rolls around. You’re exhausted from traveling through space and time to dimensions unknown, dimensions you wish so desperately–and work so tirelessly–to share with other people, and a little drunk because, in the four or so hours you’ve been writing, you’ve downed and crushed at least three tall boys of Busch beer. So you stumble out of your room, the half full beer still in hand, and there are your roommates, there is the real world again, there is Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, dinner, paying taxes, rent, and electricity, movies, TV, walking to the grocery store because you don’t have a car, there’s everything that goes away when you’re inside that imaginary world you just came from, there is everything real.

Life is harder for you there, but you press on. Maybe, if dinner filled you up enough to sober you, you crack open another beer, maybe you watch some Community or Doctor Who before going to bed early–nine, ten o’clock early–to read yourself to sleep. Whatever you do, eventually, you pass out, you enter another imaginary dimension, one which you have less control over, a dimension almost as chaotic and tumultuous as the real world, but this one filled with both made up and real characters alike.

And when you feel like you can’t take it anymore, that nothing in any of the dimensions makes sense, usually at seven in the morning, sometimes six-thirty, sometimes nine, but every day of the week, sharp cat claws, delicately caressing your eyes and nose, or brushing through your hair, awaken you from that dreamland and tell you to get back to work, because Mr. Kitty is ready for a new day, and it will never end.

Bryan Perkins 06/03/15


Where can we find you?

Website: http://bryanperkinsauthor.com/

Blog: http://bryanperkinsauthor.com/blog/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BPerkinsAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BryanPerkinsAuthor
The Asymptote’s Tail paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Asymptotes-Tail-Infinite-Limits/dp/0996395318/

The Asymptote’s Tail eBook: http://www.amazon.com/Asymptotes-Tail-Infinite-Limits-Book-ebook/dp/B00XNIUFLA/

Thanks for taking part in Indie Month, Bryan!

IAM 15 Guest post…Annabelle Franklin

 IAM 2015 - Topper

Today we’re talking to Annabelle Franklin about…


The Slapstyx

The Slapstyx features psychic twins Georgie and Gem whose stepfather works for dodgy businessman Zachary Zigstack. Greedy Zigstack has teamed up with disgusting Dr Quagley and his tribe of grubby goblins to make everyone buy his toxic cleaning product. This dreadful detergent is poisoning the world’s oceans, and the twins must use their magical skills to put an end to Zigstack’s dirty dealings before all the sea creatures are destroyed.



Annabelle Franklin is a children’s author living on Wales’s South Gower coast, in an area of outstanding natural beauty that could be a model for Fairyland. She has published two middle grade novels, Gateway to Magic and The Slapstyx, and her short story Mercy Dog appears in Unforgotten (Accent Press), an anthology themed around WW1. When not writing Annabelle helps rescue ex-racing sighthounds, two of which share her home.


Indie Interview

  • A genie grants you three writing-related wishes: what would you wish for and why?

A magic word to switch off my Inner Editor while I’m writing a first draft, another magic word to switch it on again when I’m ready to edit my work, and a fairy to take care of everything else in my life so I can concentrate on writing.

  • Describe your ideal writing space.

A luxury beach hut in the Maldives.

  • What has been your most rewarding experience since being published?

Hearing that children are enjoying my stories. When I hear that a child has loved one of my books and laughed at the funny bits, I know I’ve done my job well.

  • Who is your favourite character from The Slapstyx, and why?

Zachary Zigstack. I have a grotesque sense of humour, and Zachary Zigstack is grotesque. I love it when my writing makes me laugh out loud.

  • What do you love about most about writing?

The opportunity to escape from reality and become a fictional character, especially if that character is a child. Much more fun than being grown up!


Where can we find you?

The Slapstyx can be found on Amazon at http://myBook.to/Slapstyx and Smashwords at http://bit.ly/1FQ3gnr .

Gateway to Magic can be found on Amazon at http://myBook.to/G2M

Amazon author page http://Author.to/AFranklin

Smashwords author page https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/StarFireMagic

Blog http://annabellefranklinauthor.wordpress.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Annabelle-Franklin-Author/1474449249481609

Twitter https://twitter.com/Anabel1Franklin

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6904737.Annabelle_Franklin

Thanks for taking part in Indie Month, Annabelle!

IAM15 Guest Post…James Keller

IAM 2015 - Topper

Today we’re talking to James Keller about…


Hand of God

An advanced race of humans have seemingly conquered death only to see themselves dying off from stagnation. A crisis on two fronts emerges as their solar system is destined to be swallowed by the super massive black hole in the galactic center. An engineer from earth may hold the key to their salvation but what he learns in the process will forever change him and perhaps all of humanity.


I am a mechanical engineer working for a cancer diagnostics company. Born in 1962. I spent my senior year of high school as an exchange student in Japan and did the ironman triathlon in 1984 (long time ago!). Current hobbies include woodworking and origami.


Guest Post

I have been told that I should write from a number of different people over the years, but never really had the urge or something I considered worth writing about until this year. Hand Of God has many themes in it, but starts with the idea of what happens once a civilization completely understands the universe? Does immortality become a curse at that point? If there is nothing to strive for, does life lose its meaning?

I also had another idea that I believed would make a good book (which is the revelation at the end) but never quite had a viable means of making it happen in a way that I could stay engaged. Seeing Interstellar planted the seeds of the approach, and time dilation provided the means.

Hand of God isn’t space opera, and that is intentional, as it has been done to death in my opinion. I wanted something different, and hopefully unique. Something to make you think. Nothing is free in the universe as far as I can tell, and Hand of God tries to explore what the true price of genetic enhancement and immortality might be.

I am currently working on the sequel to Hand of God. Originally it was going to be one book but once I started writing it became clear it would be better as a series. I don’t artificially pad my writing by going into 2 page descriptions of what the character is wearing, or how long and thin their fingers are. If it doesn’t add anything tangible to the story I tend to leave it out. Being an engineer means there is an efficiency mandate that prevents me from writing in that manner, and that is why it is relatively short at ~75,000 words.

If you read it and enjoy it please review/rate it! If you want to discuss it or the themes or just have questions my author page on Goodreads is the place.


Where can we find you?

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14056558.James_Keller

Thanks for taking part in Indie Month, James!

IAM15 Guest Post…Jan Sikes

IAM 2015 - Topper Today we’re talking to Jan Sikes about…


Home at Last

With empty pockets and a heart full of dreams Luke Stone leaves behind the nightmare of fifteen long years in Leavenworth prison, not giving it a backward glance.

Eyes firmly on the future, he boards a Greyhound bus bound for Texas…for freedom…for the one who holds his heart. The unjust conviction no longer matters and revenge haunts him no more. Darlina Flowers, the woman who takes his breath away, waits ahead and with her by his side, nothing can stop him.

He is headed HOME AT LAST.



Award winning author, Jan Sikes, writes true stories in a creative and entertaining way.

Her current project chronicles the life of veteran Texas musician, Rick Sikes. Not only was Rick a highly popular entertainer in Texas music, he truly began the Outlaw movement. But, as songwriter Richard Dobson penned, “He took that outlaw thing a little far…”

She also releases music CDs with each book.

At a very early age, she developed a passion for reading. It not only provided entertainment, but also taught her about other ways of life and transported her to exotic places. Jan writes songs, poetry, short stories, screenplays and novels.




I often get asked the question, “why is there a music CD with each of your books?” And I love it when I get the chance to give an answer.

I’ll start at the beginning (although I promise to keep it short!) I grew up in a very strict religious household. We had no TV because it was against our religion. At a young age, I discovered the joy and adventures to be had through reading. My first love was Grimm’s Fairy Tales, but I soon progressed to reading everything I could get my hands on.

I found such exciting people, places and happenings in the pages of the books. I could travel the world without ever leaving my bedroom.

And then there was music! The church I was raised in had very lively music and that was always my favorite part of the service. My first piece of writing was a gospel song about my favorite uncle, who was an alcoholic.

When I was a teenager, I received a transistor radio one year for my birthday. Then I discovered KOMA broadcasting out of Oklahoma City and XERF where Wolfman Jack did his show. Wow! I truly fell in love with music then. But I craved live music. So, when I left home, I sought it out.

This is where the stories I write begin. I met and fell head-over-heels in love with a highly popular Texas musician. Little did I know what that chance meeting would grow to be. And that I would be singing and writing my own music along with him many years later.

So, the short answer to the original question is: The reason I release a music CD along with each book is because these stories all revolve and evolve around music.

Publishing music is much the same as publishing books. I see very distinct parallels. The production mode is different but marketing is similar. I have worked over the past three years to incorporate authors into music events and now that hard work is beginning to pay off. I am helping organize an event in Frisco, Texas this coming September called Wood and Words. It is a combination of songwriters and authors. I am super excited about it and hoping that it grows and flourishes. I hope the idea catches on everywhere because as I said, there are such parallels between music and books as far as creating and marketing.

I hope that you will check out my true stories told through fictitious characters.

Flowers and Stone is set in the rowdy raucous honky-tonks of Texas in 1970. Darlina Flowers is a young naïve girl while Luke Stone is older and a well-seasoned rogue musician. Their love sparks then ignites into an ever-burning flame.

The Convict and the Rose is set in Leavenworth Federal Prison with Luke and Darlina being split apart by fate and circumstance. Both experience tremendous growth through the years and it is a story that can inspire hope for anyone in a desperate situation.

Home At Last is set in the small west Texas town of Coleman. With empty pockets and a heart full of dreams, Luke Stone boards a Greyhound bus bound for Texas, for freedom and the woman who takes his breath away. Prison behind him and eyes set firmly on the future, revenge for the false conviction and imprisonment haunts him no more. He is headed home at last!

‘Til Death Do Us Part is slated for release in late summer of this year. It concludes this series of stories. Luke Stone found making music again, with Darlina at his side, more satisfying and rewarding than filling the Texas honky-tonks as he’d done in his younger days. But, there is only so much sand in the hourglass. Determined to make the most of what life dealt him, Luke persevered through trials that would destroy a lesser man.

The music CDs that accompany these books are each unique, influenced by the time periods the music was written and performed.

The CD that compliments Flowers and Stone is titled Rick Sikes and the Rhythm Rebels – Early recordings and is a compilation of songs taken from 45 rpm records that were made in the 60s.

Forty Foot High, the CD that goes with The Convict and the Rose contains songs that were all written and recorded inside the walls of Leavenworth prison. It is historic.

The most recent CD release – I’ll Be Home When The Roses Bloom Again – is unique in that it consists of songs written and recorded by myself and some written by both myself and Rick Sikes. The other unique feature of this CD is that our daughter, Deva is showcased with her silk voice singing songs that Rick and I wrote together.





Where can we find you?


http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00CS9K8DK * http://www.jansikes.com * http://www.rijanpublishing.com * http://www.ricksikes.com



Social Media

http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJanSikesBooks * http://www.twitter.com/rijanjks * http://www.pinterest.com/jks0851/ * https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=65865260&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic * https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JanSikes/posts

Book trailer videos

Home At Last and ‘Til Death Do Us Part https://youtu.be/y3rAnjhlqgw

The Convict and The Rose https://youtu.be/Bkb9g4f6has

Flowers and Stone https://youtu.be/zgVDzXmKuQo

Thanks for taking part in Indie Month, Jan!

IAM15 Guest post…Isabel Curtis

IAM 2015 - Topper

Today we’re talking to Isabel Curtis about…


Before Life Happened

When sixteen year old Hayden Wilson recovers from the hospital, her world is upside-down. Her parents are dead, and her three older brothers are all she’s got left. But times are difficult, and staying strong is even harder. Wrong friendships and wrong choices will lead her to a path of self-destruction, a one way ticket to downfall. But at some point, Hayden has to learn how to deal with life. Putting the pieces back together and growing up. Because it’s OK to want to go back to before, but it’s also OK to learn how to move on. Before life happened is a YA coming-of-age novel that will bring you into a teenager’s world of grief and despair, and her journey back home. But will she be able to find her way?


Isabel Curtis is the author of “the Before series” and avid reader. She has spent most of her life on airplanes, and because of this she knows pretty well that “Home is where your heart is.” Her debut novel “Before Life Happened” was released June 2015.


Guest Post

I didn’t really decide that I wanted to be an author, I think writing sort of choose me. Characters and stories just popped into my head (and they still do!) and at some point I decided I needed to put my imagination in order: by writing. Then ideas turned into stories and stories into books. My self-publishing journey has just begun: my first novel “Before Life Happened” was published on June 2015. It’s the first book in the YA “Before” series, which features the main character Hayden Wilson, a sixteen year old girl, struggling through life after the death of her parents in a car crash. It’s a pretty deep novel, yet not too sentimental or heartbreaking – just a story about how wrong choices can impact our lives in unimaginable ways, and how at some point we must face our fears. Writing this book, and giving life to all the characters was extremely fun! The second instalment is due next year, and I’m also working on other YA novels that I want to publish in a near future (stay tuned!). Being a writer is not my full-time job, but I really hope one day I’ll be able to turn my passion into more than just a hobby… but if not, life will still be pretty darn awesome – as long as you can count on good books to keep you company.


Where can we find you?

Here’s my website: isabelcurtis.weebly.com

Here’s my Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/iamtheheroofmystory

Facebook book page: facebook.com/beforelifehappened

Thanks for taking part in Indie Month, Isabel!