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Author, Avid Tweeter & Blogger, Lover of books, Teacher of Maths & Swimming, Mother, Speaks Spanish, Friend to many...

Friday, 22 April 2016

KINGS AND QUEENS by Terry Tyler @TerryTyler4

Today, I introduce you again to Terry Tyler. Read on and find out why she is such an awesome author! 
Vanessa :)

As I said the last time I interviewed you (it was a year ago already!)… When I joined Twitter, you were one of the first authors I came across and I loved the way you came across. Straight-talking, friendly, and approachable. Your blogs portray the same image. And over the last year, nothing has changed! You are one of the nicest authors I have met online!

So, when I saw your book was up for grabs via Rosie’s Book Review Team I was in there in a flash!

You kindly let me have a copy of Kings & Queens and Last Child. I read both back-to-back! Here are my reviews…

*~*~*~*

KINGS AND QUEENS by Terry Tyler

“This book is intense!

For anyone who has watched series like Dallas, Dynasty, The Colbys or Falcon Crest (yes, I admit it - I have) this brought back so many memories! My grandmother was obsessed and I remember coming home from school and watching Falcon Crest with her, or when I was sick watching Dynasty. Dallas was much discussed at school! Yes, I am going back approx 30 years!

There was something about characters like Joan Collins, who nearly slept with her son and seduced anyone in sight that made for addictive viewing! As well as the alcoholics and drug addicts! (The rich have it SO tough)

So back to the book. Kings and Queens is all about this & more!

Romance, adultery, suspense, a lot of death and heartache, "fit" men and women, and also (which was nice to see) normal boring characters that fit in nicely to the massacre that is the old-fashioned Lanchester mentality!

Lanchester's Empire is a male dominated family business which relies on the family "male" heir to provide continuity.

Things do not go well from the start though. The first born, Alex, dies in a rock-climbing accident and the second son, Harry, takes the reins of the business at the age of 18!

The saga that continues as his love-life goes on the biggest roller-coaster EVER is extreme.

Personally, I found many of the scenarios to be unbelievable but this is the beauty of fiction! Perfect escapism into a world where many are crooks, adulterers and ruthless murderers!

I highly recommend this if any of what I have rambled on about makes you think, "This is for me!" I must add that having read several of Terry Tyler's books before her style is definitely makes for addictive reading, even though at times some of the character changes left me slightly disorientated.”

Rated: 4 Stars

*~*~*~*


“I have to admit that having read Kings and Queens I was immediately drawn to read the sequel. This is the great thing about reading a book after the next one has already been written. I have on many occasions waited for the next book in a series to be sorely disappointed.

This was not the case here, and I have I say I actually enjoyed Last Child even more than reading Kings and Queens.

There are a few reasons for this. Historically, Henry VIII has always been an interesting historical characters because of his many wives. Personally, I found History boring at school and never connected. What did I care that someone had so many? Seems like a bit of an idiot to me! So, when you read historical fiction written in a contemporary setting it brings everything to life. It makes you think, "Wow! Now I get it!" This is what Kings and Queens did - it made the illogical make sense.

But, in Last Child you see the consequences of someone so promiscuous and irrational via his offspring. The good and the bad. From the pampered male heir who wants to get everything his way (to dire consequences), to the deranged unwanted daughter who feels neglected and abandoned because her father rejected her via her mother, to the younger more exuberant child who had oodles of character and does not care what is expected of her, she just gets on with it.

The way in which we get to eavesdrop on their thoughts and actions again explains historical facts in a way that allows for compassion. I mean, seriously, I would never had thought a man who has an affair with a woman half his age would be rational. Yet, in this story it sound plausible (not for me personally, but I got how it happened).

So many details and actions that have so much relevance to society today. Again, it is like watching a TV soap - everyday events are embellished with tragic consequences.

However, in the end Terry has left us with some inner peace. Everything does not always go to plan, but you can make the most of a bad situation. She has also left an opening for another book - I practically screamed at the book at the end! More twists to come I think...

Anyway, if you have not read this author's books before you really should. She has a way of drawing you in, of getting you involved, of sympathising with characters you thought you hate, and feeling annoyed at characters you thought would be great. I love that. I want to be sent on a roller coaster ride when I read a book and this was definitely up, down, sideways and over!

One thing I will say is that the Lanchester family actually made me think of the Kennedy's not the British Monarchs. I guess it's really sad when a family seems to be so jinxed. Even the best of people have no guarantees in life. I guess we all have to live life to the maximum and make every day count, regardless of what the social niceties dictate.”

Rated: 4 Stars

So, what did you think of my rambles?

It's always interesting to see what people think of your books, Vanessa, as you know.  Everyone reads them so differently.  I will say, though, that Henry VIII did not take six wives because he was an idiot (though, indeed, that may be up for discussion!), but because it was important for him to produce a male heir, and marriage in those days was as much a political move, to form allegiances with other countries/noble houses, as to do with love.

I am in awe of you for the way in which you manage to keep the books coming. What or who inspires you to continue writing? My own muse goes for very long walks at the moment!

It's not always easy.  What keeps me doing it is simply that I feel a bit empty if I'm not currently working on a book.  I have had one on the go constantly for the last five and a half years; I at least plan out the next while the current one is being made ready for publication.  My 'to be written' list is always about four books long!

Which characters did you like and hate the most in these books?

My favourite characters in Kings and Queens are Hannah (everyone's favourite!), Annette and Kate, and I couldn't stand Jenny Seymour!  In Last Child I loved Erin, Jim and Raine; the only one I really disliked was Phil Castillo.

How did you go about doing the research for these books?

I was already pretty well versed in that period of history, but I also read David Starkey's book about the six wives, and also The Watchers by Stephen Alford, and The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory, and watched quite a few documentaries.

What is the most important thing you have learnt, as an author, over the last year?

Over the last year?  Hmm.... reading improves your writing, if you take note about why your favourite books work so well.  I also learnt, when writing my second novella, that writing one of these is not just a matter of writing a shorter story, it's a different process.  I've read novellas that should have been novels; the story has to suit the novella size.  I think I did a better job with my second than my first. 

What advice would you give to new authors starting out now?

  • Make sure your book is as good and as professionally presented as it possibly can be; the market is saturated and competition is enormous.
  • Write from the heart, not what you think sounds good.
  • Do thorough research and make sure you have genuine, personal recommendations before spending money on advertising, marketing services, proofeading, critiques, editing, etc.
  • Don't make the mistake of thinking that signing with a small, independent publisher means you have 'made it'; this is not the same as being traditionally published and you may find that you sell less books and make less money than you would if self-published.  Any publishing house that charges you for any aspect of the publishing process is a vanity publisher, and should not be touched with a barge pole.
  • Make friends with lots of nice book bloggers!

Does it differ from advice you would have given when you started?

Not a great deal, no.  Promotion is a whole different ball game, though; what worked 4 years ago would have little or no effect now.

Thanks, Vanessa, I hope this has been of some interest to you and your readers :)

Where we can find out about you and buy your books?


Amazon.com

Blog:

Book Review Blog

Facebook page:

Goodreads:

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Holiday in Bude, Cornwall

This Easter I went to Bude, in the North of Cornwall for our family break.

We stayed in a lovely house with a hot tub, within a working farm! The cows mooed constantly, the chickens pecked outside, and we had cats meowing outside the kitchen window (I am allergic to them so I was not letting them in).

It was a fantastic family holiday where we walked, played board games, saw beautiful new places, and even saw new life being born!

I highly recommend a visit to this beautiful English County!


*~*~*
Eden Project

The first day trip was to the Eden Project.

The site itself is fantastic and I was impressed by the facilities, activities for children, food, service, and views.

I even did an assault course - on a bouncy castle, nothing too strenuous!

It is amazing what an idea can start... the people who built and thought of this project should be thrilled!


Tintagel

Look out for those rocks...
I was terrified going down...
The second day we visited Tintagel - the ruins of a castle built around the 11-12th Century.

Stunning views, which unfortunately nearly scared me to death at times due to my fear of heights, were all around and I could not even begin to imagine how the place was fortified and used hundreds of years ago.

Human beings (some of them anyway) really are capable of magic...



Beaches
Surfer dude!

I never imagined there would be SO many surfers in April in England!

It is obviously a massive sport in Cornwall and I took some great shots of them over some decent sized waves.

If the water had been warmer I would have joined them, but funnily enough I was happy to sacrifice myself and watch!

Ha ha...

The Big Sheep - Devon
New life born in front of us!

Since we had children in tow, (aged 7, 12 & 13) we had to visit a theme park and we decided to go to The Big Sheep in Devon!

We had a great day and even managed to watch a live birth... the kids thought it was disgusting!

My daughter & I did the egg hunt and got some prizes for our efforts - they did not make it easy!

A fantastic show rounded up the day... loved the sheep with the dreadlocks!
The Big Sheep - Fantastic day out..

We arrived in the morning and were one of the last to leave. We made the most of the visit and loved it! I am glad we had no more buggies or young children - makes life so much easier...

We ate some Cornish pasties, did some sightseeing, relaxed and spent time together as a family. Perfect!

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Thank you to the family in Scorsham Farm in Bude

Luxury accommodation... :)

Monday, 11 April 2016

ASTARTE RISING by Greg Thomas @InfrasonicGreg

Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming Greg to my blog, after reading his novel, Astarte Rising. 

I have not read a SciFi book of this nature in a long time and have to admit that I loved it. 

This was my 5 star review...

"An action & adventure read based on the premise of the discovery of a time travel source, or Time Faeder. Having not read a book of this kind in ages, I thought it was great. 

I always rate a book highly that I could see as a film and this would be brilliant.

A lot of characters in this, but the main ones I liked were Harry and Rosa. Add some zombies brought to life by an evil demon and the rise of Astarte and you have a cracking read. Highly recommend."

So, Greg, how did you come to write this novel?

I’ve always had a love of books and admiration for the writers who create them, and Astarte Rising is my attempt to contribute to the multitude of fictional worlds and dreams that are available for readers to enjoy.

What inspired you? A book, film, or both?

It would be difficult to single out one book or film, but rather the works of authors such as Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials Trilogy), Ursula K Le Guin, together with humour inspired by Terry Pratchett.

Tell us more about your characters. Which one was your favourite and least favourite to write and why?

It’s hard to pick favourites, but I do like the main character Harry Bonneville, as he’s a good guy trying to do the right thing in extraordinary circumstances.

I’d like to mention Professor Rowan Forrest too. He’s partly based on a very kind, intelligent and incredibly curious old family friend. He wasn’t a professor, but he was an engineer, and that’s pretty good in itself.

My least favourite character would be the cruel Captain McVelley. But we’ve not seen the last of him yet…

Do you think time travel will ever be plausible?

Professor Stephen Hawking has just materialised from the future and told me to keep quiet, so as not to alter the timelines. OK, seriously, I’m no scientist but Professor Hawking maintains it’s theoretically possible, and who am I to argue?

For a writer, it’s a very useful device to move your characters to unusual places, and I needed a mechanism to do just that. I tried to dream up an original, hopefully believable, way this could be done and decided on the part-organic Time Faeder. However, as will be explored in future books, time travel by this method comes at a great cost.

Why did you choose the destination and how did you research the past? A few times, I wondered if Rosa would have been so easily accepted, as a woman in that time?

The destination of ancient Israel (or Palestine) was chosen for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I wanted the team to carry out “the strangest rescue mission of all time” where it was especially important to never alter the timelines. This area has seen incredible cultural and spiritual change and has witnessed the passing of the old gods, for example Baal and Astarte who later became demonised as part of that process. The “divine feminine” seemed to become suppressed as monotheism became accepted and so I developed a story whereby our heroes not only struggle to complete their rescue mission, but there’s another rescue that involves Astarte, once known as “the queen of heaven” being seen in a more positive light.

To answer your question with regards to Rosa: you’re absolutely right to doubt that Rosa would not have been so well received, but it was important for the character to be strong even in a very male-dominated world, and so I guess historical accuracy lost out to story and character. Rosa has her faults, but she’s incredibly intelligent and more than a match for anyone. She just wouldn’t have accepted anything less than equality with men.

Some of the names are familiar, e.g. Herod. Did you do this on purpose?

By choosing ancient Israel at around 7 B.C. as the destination of the rescuers, old Herod invited himself into the story as he was responsible for creating a magnificent city, the ruins of which can still be seen today. He did many, many bad things, but if it’s any consolation to anyone, he seemed to die from a variety of nasty and embarrassing illnesses.

One of the helpful characters is named Joseph, and there is absolutely no connection with any other Joseph who may have been around at this time.

The strange female character, Frau Schalke, was interesting. Tell us how she came about. I want to know more about her... Will you use her again?

I absolutely love Frau Schalke, and yes, she is strange isn’t she? Firstly, I wanted strong female characters, and there are no stronger characters than our beloved Western Valkyrie who brings solace to the living and the dead. She is a guardian-type figure who derives from Norse mythology, but instead of the traditional Valkyrie who would choose the souls of fallen warriors to be escorted to Valhalla, I’ve adapted her so that she helps all people – the living as she offers physical protection - and the dead as they need to find their way home. I’ve mostly kept Harry’s adventures distinct from those of Frau Schalke and her friends, but they can and do intertwine. She’ll be back…

I am not sure your cover is as striking as it could be for an action & adventure book of this kind. Would you change it? I have changed my covers loads of times!

I’ve seen your new book covers and they’re stunning. As for my relatively stark cover, I’m hoping that it doesn’t put readers off, and I guess it doesn’t communicate all that the book is about, but it represents Astarte Rising out of the darkness, which is a vital part of the story.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us to make other readers take this book up?

I’d like to think that Astarte Rising is, first and foremost, a good adventure story, but it also has humour, and re-visits an old goddess.

How have you gone about marketing your book?

So far, I’ve set up a website, joined Goodreads and set up a Twitter account. I realise there are other social media tools such as Instagram and Pinterest, but I don’t quite feel ready to join those yet. I was delighted to accept your offer of an interview on your blog.

Would you ever write in another genre?

Possibly yes, because I think it shouldn’t really matter what the genre is, provided you write stories that your reader will enjoy, however we all have our favourites and mine would be SciFi & fantasy.

Where can my readers buy your book and find out more about you?

Astarte Rising is available for Kindle via Amazon and it won’t be long before the paperback is out. In a month or so I’m looking forward to releasing it into the wild on Barnes and Noble, Kobo, anywhere I can.

Should readers want to get in touch, I’d be delighted to answer any questions on Goodreads or twitter @InfrasonicGreg.

Thank you for answering my questions and I wish you all the best with sales and the rest of the series…

My pleasure, thank you so much for inviting me.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

The end of #Amazon Price-Match?

I got this from Amazon today...

"We recently noticed the digital list price for the title(s) listed below is higher than the list price of the same book listed on Amazon.com or another website. 

Hybrid: The Evolution Trilogy (ID: B0081EV8Z8) is listed on Amazon.com at $3.45 and at $0.99 on BarnesAndNoble-US

According to our pricing policy, your book should be priced no higher than the list price on Amazon.com or any other sales channel for either the physical or digital edition of the book. Please adjust the list price for the above book(s) within the next 5 business days. If the price isn’t updated within 5 business days, we may remove the book(s) from the Kindle Store, at which point you will need to republish the book with an updated price.

To republish an item and update the price, locate it in your KDP account and open Step 2, ‘Rights and Pricing’. Enter an updated price, click the rights confirmation check box, then click ‘Save and Publish’.

For more information on our list price requirements, see section 4 on our Pricing Page below:
Thanks for your understanding."

Does this signal the end of price match? I have amended my price for Hybrid, but they have not said anything about my other book which is perma-free. There are many books out there which are free via other retailers and get price-matched by Amazon.

Does anyone know what is happening?

If they do, I have a feeling there will be a lot less books on the free charts from now on. Or, the FREE promo available via being exclusive to Amazon will finally work?

Just sharing my thoughts...

Vanessa :)

Friday, 11 March 2016

Films gallore! #Allegiant #KungFuPanda3

Last week, I went to see Kung Fu Panda 3 with my youngest daughter. Apparently, it was the preview and so the cinema was not that busy. We both thought it was fantastic and it really made me think a lot about perseverance. The Ying and Yang of life...

There were a lot of funny moments and I highly recommend it for family viewing.

I would even go as far as to say that these films just keep on getting better. Different twists and new scenes and characters.

Clever!


Which leads me on to Allegiant, which I saw today... oh dear!

There are some cool effects and scenes that are interesting, but both my (older) daughter and I wondered what on earth was going on. The plot was SO different to the book it was unbelievable and yes, Kate Winslet is sorely missed. The fact they are dragging this out into another film beggars belief. Do they have no ideas for new fresh films? Just saying...

Here is the trailer. We had a good time and it was fun to watch, but it is missing something. The whole fight scene thing is getting old.


Anyway, I have been reading the Harry Potter books to my youngest daughter and we finished book three this week, which means we got to watch the film! It is fantastic to relive this amazing series with my daughter and both the books and films are amazing.


We did have an interesting discussion on the differences between the film and the book and I loved the fact she thought the book had got it wrong. I did explain which came first...

Either way, lets see what you all made of these! Enjoy :)

Vanessa

Friday, 4 March 2016

A Writer's Life...


I am currently in a state of confusion over what to do with my writing. For the past year I have struggled to focus on finding time or the inclination to write. I think I am lacking confidence, which has never been difficult for me. When faced with a challenge I am sometimes quick to doubt that I am capable.

I have always been driven and hard-working, but it does not take much for that cloud of doubt to descend and darken my mood.

Since September, I have been teaching Mathematics for a few hours in a primary school. I have been extremely lucky to get this job and love it! I also tutor at home and get a lot out of this. I have always been good at helping children and get a sense of satisfaction in knowing that I could make someone smile.

This brings me back to writing.

This little cutie inspired me to write...
When I started back in 2010 I needed to write. I had to release all those thoughts that desperately wanted to fly. I needed escapism and wanted to create something that was mine - that I could be proud of. The truth is that I am extremely proud of what I wrote. Three novels, one novelette, six short stories... all in the space of 2 years! How I did this, don't ask... I have no idea.

The feedback I have had since sharing HYBRID on the 27th March 2012 has brought me from tears (of anguish when bad... as I expected everyone to hate it) to smiles and friendships. I have met so many readers, authors & joined so many online groups. I can't imagine a world where I am ever lonely again! Before the internet became a social tool, I never had anywhere to escape. Writing enabled me to find a place of my own, but it also led the road to social media - a place that always has more article, books, conversations, interesting posts, etc... than I could ever get through in a lifetime!

This is why I struggle to write... to persevere. I no longer need that sanctuary writing gave me. But, teaching again has given me that sense of belonging. I enjoy helping others as a teacher.

I also decided to get actively involved with the PTA again and this has also opened the door to more friendships. Yesterday, I helped out at a cake sale that raised £351. Very rewarding.


Writing can be a lonely and soul seeking journey and it is always interesting to hear why people write. You only have to go on to Twitter to see that there are thousands and thousands of writers... all with a voice longing to be heard. Some do it for financial gain, but most seem to be driven by their NEED to tell there story. Let's face it humanity is obsessed with the past. We want to know what people have done, will do, and hope to do. Our inquisitive minds have made discoveries beyond the realms of possibilities.

So, in writing this blog, I am smiling again. I understand that I can not stop writing, in the same way that I need to breathe. I probably will not end up with a bestseller, my new book might be a disaster and fail to impress.

I have no-one to impress but myself. What I have achieved is already out there. What I have not released is on my computer. So long as my children are happy and I still love my husband, what any strangers think of me is by the by.

I don't know who will read this, or what you will think, but at least by voicing my "issues" I try to deal with them in some way.

Thank you for reading,
Vanessa

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

SUMMER'S DARK WATERS by Simon Williams @SWilliamsAuthor

Thank you, Simon, for agreeing to be ‘interviewed’ via my blog. First things first, time for us to find out about you, via one of your books. I read “Summer’s Dark Waters”. My 5 Star Review is featured on my Reader Blog. This is what I thought!

“I have to admit that I was shocked by how much I enjoyed this book. Having read a lot of YA, childrens' books (especially with my children), I thought this was great! I recently read “Gone” and even though it reminded me of "Lord of the Flies" the gruesome elements of the story made it harder for me to enjoy. I wonder why some authors make their stories so dark.

In contrast, even though this book does have some "darker" moments, Summer's Dark Waters is very entertaining and the story-line had me hooked.

The main character, Joe, is someone you want to like. A bit quiet, shy, different. In contrast to his friend, Amber, who wants to look out for him and is inquisitive and no push-over. Together, they discover that something is not right and Joe is special. The creation of a secret society to save the world from chaos is not a new concept, but worked very well here. I am intrigued about this group, which seems twisted in its ideals.

To save themselves, Joe manages to bridge the gap between our world and a new world, which the author creates. It is slightly reminiscent of Narnia... no animals, but strange folk all the same. A collection of the "Lost", a strange melee of individuals. Some from different worlds.
As an added bonus, the author included illustrations within the book, which added an extra dimension.

This book leads nicely on to a follow up, which is fab for children. You want to get them hooked on reading and this works brilliantly for me. Highly recommend.”


What do you think of my review?

I like all good reviews! Seriously though, I think you’ve summarised it very well without giving any particular spoilers.

What or who inspired you to write this story?

I hadn’t actually planned on writing any books for kids or teens, but my niece (who was 9 at the time) convinced me that I should give it a go. We came up with a few ideas, although much of the original plot was shelved. The names of the two children, and the mysterious lake in the woods, are pretty much what survived of those notes, but the important thing was that it led me to the plot ideas for what became Summer’s Dark Waters. It would be a bit facetious to say “the rest is history” but that’s pretty much how it all came about. Cause and effect work in very odd ways.


As you can see from my review, I am a huge fan of the illustrations. Who did them? Tell us more…

They were created by Ankolie (www.ankolie.com) an artist friend of mine. Somehow she managed to visualise the characters in exactly the same way as I did without any real help, which was astonishing really. I’m hoping to commission her for the sequel (which should be out later this year) and a new project of mine for younger children, which I can’t say anything about at the moment. Well I say “can’t”… I’m probably just trying to be mysterious.
I think it’s important that books for younger readers are illustrated in order to fire their imagination, just as I believe that books for an adult audience (such as my Aona series) work better without imagery, with the author creating enough of an idea to sow the seeds of scenes or pictures in the mind of the reader.

How did you decide on your main characters?

I really just let the plot create them or at least give them added personality. As I reworked the drafts of the book they really came alive and when Ankolie’s drawings were complete that was it really- it was almost as if they’d created themselves. I knew from the start that there had to be the two kids in the book- there was just too much for one to realistically deal with, and the story is partly about how sometimes your friends can pull you through when you need them most. So it made sense to do it that way.

What about the Lost? I imagine you had fun making them up…

I did. I thought about their motivations and what had made them how they were, and tied all that in with some observations on humanity in general (not that they’re necessarily human…)

Who is your favourite author? Did any particular books inspire this story?

I wouldn’t say there were any that particularly inspired Summer’s Dark Waters (the whole thing came out of the blue really), but when I was around that sort of age my favourite author was Alan Garner- he actually made me decide to become an author in fact. Nowadays I wouldn’t say I have a single favourite- I still like his work, and also Clive Barker, George R R Martin, Joe Abercrombie, C J Cherryh, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Ian Irvine, Tad Williams and many others.

Can you tell us any more about your story and whether you are planning any sequels?

I’m about halfway through writing the sequel, the working title of which is “The Light From Far Below”. It will be a bit longer, maybe a bit more involved- and is set a year and a half after the events in the first book, so writing it has been a slightly different challenge. It covers some quite “big” and serious subject matter although in a hopefully age-appropriate way.

Where we can find out more about you and buy your books?

My website is always a good place to start- www.simonwilliamsauthor.com


Summer’s Dark Waters:
All Amazon Sites

Oblivion’s Forge (Book I in the Aona series):
All Amazon Sites


Thank you for joining us on my blog!