National Pet Day

Cats inspirational qoutes about cats(1)

Today is #NationalPetDay on Twitter. What better way to celebrate the friendship and love they give us by posting some pictures of my cats and chickens.

hens napping

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rasky posing

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I don’t think I could live without a cat in my life. They are wonderful creatures that only trust you when you deserve it. If you truly love a cat it will reciprocate and be your friend forever.

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Always respect a cat’s privacy

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Mess with a cat and be prepared to face the consequences.

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Ignore a cat at your peril.

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Happy Nation Pet Day everyone.

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Writers of SciFi Interview with Author Bonnie Milani

Hello everyone. I thought I would share this author interview with a fellow Sci-fi writer Bonnie Milani. 

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This Writers of SciFi Interview is with Author Bonnie Milani. Follow her at:

 Amazon Central , Twitter,  Facebook or Website.

Email address:

bonnie.milani@yahoo.com

Question 1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a Sci-Fi writer?

About the time I figured out how to put words together.

Question 2) What authors and books inspire your writing?

Wow, that’s a tough one. Dickens (baaaaadddd style to copy but addictive reading), Austen, the Bronte sisters, up through Heinlein, Asimov, Pohl, Anderson, Norton, and the writer who quite literally got me to actually start writing Sci-Fi, C.J. Cherryh.

Question 3) Are you an extrovert or introvert? How well do you like book signings and other interaction with readers?

Total extrovert. LOVE meet’n greets! LOVE signings – it’s just that I’m here in LaLa land, so there’re neither many bookstores left nor people willing to show up for a signing unless that person’s a ‘face’.

Question 4) What is unique about writing in your genre?

Sci-Fi, to me, is a technological society’s answer to the ancient world’s mythology. We can’t believe in anthropomorphic gods anymore; even accepting miracles is a challenge these days. Yet to be human is to need to let your imagination roam, to create, to explore. Sci-Fi is the one medium that lets us do so by exploring the possibilities in the tech we’re beginning to create.

Question 5) Have you ever created a character with an actor or a person you know in mind?

Only before I actually started working with the Industry.

Question 6) What inspires you to write?

Life. News magazines. History. Politics. Religion. Crazy relatives…

Question 7) Are you Self-, Indie-, or Traditionally published? Why?

Both traditionally (small press) & indie. I’m glad I went small press to start; my publisher was able to get my debut Sci-Fi novel, ‘Home World’ onto the shelves at Barnes & Noble, as well as into Canada’s Indigo chain. I wouldn’t change the experience for anything. But working Indie requires me to learn to understand the business side of publishing, and I think that’s a necessary piece of knowledge for all writers. Besides, I LIKE working on cover art!

Question 8) Do all authors have to be grammar perfectionists; or do you use a Copy Editor?

With a Master’s in Communication from Stanford, I don’t typically find grammar to be my greatest challenge in writing. There’s such a wealth of alternatives…

Question 9) “Writing is a get-rich-quick scheme.” And, “All writers are independently wealthy.” How true?

Hah! To quote Stan Lee: “’nuff said!”

Question 10) Plotter or Pantser (free flowing)? Do you write from an outline, or just start writing and go with the flow?

I tried just going with the flow when I first started writing waaaaayyyyy back in the day. Never got a story finished that way; always landed myself in a corner with no place for the plot to go. It was terribly difficult to teach myself to outline, but I’ve found the discipline of making myself work out the whole story to be invaluable. Even if the final product winds up bearing no resemblance to the outline at all!

Question 11) What is the secret to becoming a best-selling author?

You tell me we’ll both know. In truth, I believe it’s a combination of producing professional caliber work with a systematic, consistent dedication to market identification and outreach.

Question 12) Do you write book reviews? How important are reviews for your work?

Definitely! I generally won’t review a book I couldn’t finish, but I believe reviews are essential to indie authors’ success. Me, I am ALWAYS hungry for more reviews! Not that I’d stoop to hinting or anything…

Question 13) Do you have a favorite book or series you have written? Which one?

Each story I write is my favorite until the next one comes along. But I have to admit to a special fondness for ‘Liquid Gambit’. It’s the Casablanca tie-in, y’know?

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Question 14) What are you working on next?

I’m trying to clear my decks to dive back into ‘Home World’ and get the series going. I have a generation of stories in my head for that universe!

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Short Story Anthology Launch

Here is a blog post about short story writer Paul Toolan. I was drawn to his anthology because of the subject matter, ageing and dementia. We all grow old and with it subjected to illnesses and lapses in memory. Paul uses these themes to conjure up twelve tales to tackle this often sensitive subject.

Please read on and learn some great insight into how the author gets his inspiration.

The characters in this collection are looking back into the half-shaded landscapes of memory. (5)

‘Where do your stories come from?’

 If only I received royalties every time a reader asks me this!

Here, there and everywhere is the true but unhelpful answer. In ‘A View from Memory Hill’, there’s a story called Old Man, Young Pub that was triggered by seeing…an old man in a young pub!

I was at the Brighton Festival [Brighton, England – I used to live there] with old friends/fellow retirees. We dropped in to a wonderful, low-ceilinged pub called The Basketmakers, whose decor has barely been touched since it opened. I remember thinking we were the oldest people there, among many young and lively folk, some dressed in the trendiest fashion, some so far ahead they were next year.

It was a hot day, but as I looked around I spotted an old gentleman in a tweed jacket and tie, standing at the bar, quietly sipping his pint. All around him, bright young things were loud and full of energy. They squatted on bar stools, but no-one offered a seat to the old guy, and his legs could have used one. I wondered about his silent thoughts.

His anonymity, mine too, amongst this colourful crowd threw up a name: Smith. With the conscious germ of a story now in my head, I called him Frank Smith in hope he would eventually be frank enough to tell some sort of tale. I never spoke to this old man, but later when I sat at my keyboard, I spoke to Frank Smith, or he to me. I really don’t know which came first.

What I had was a character and a setting. No plot, no events, no history. Yet. But Frank Smith travelled with me, later in the Arts Festival, to a shabby-chic little theatre where, on hard seats, we watched a trio of skilled actors on a bare, dark stage. Magically, they brought to life some of Damon Runyan’s New York Prohibition stories.

Shortly after, inside that inexplicable swirl called a writer’s head, two separate experiences merged. Frank Smith went to his local pub; and he went to see a play. To keep the story structure tight, I made the theatre a blacked-out room at his pub, and had him go out of sheer boredom. Frank would have liked the Damon Runyan stories, but there’s insufficient conflict in what characters enjoy. I needed to change the play, to find one that Frank Smith liked less, that triggered something of his history, his demons or regrets.

On my bookshelves I have ‘Samuel Beckett: The Complete Dramatic Works’. I browsed through it. ‘Krapp’s Last Tape’ seemed ideal. It featured an old man’s memories, recalled with the aid of an old reel-to-reel tape recorder. Krapp is a drinker too, which resonated with Frank. While flicking through, I revisited ‘Rockaby’, a short Beckett play featuring an old woman in a rocking chair, remembering her past. Within moments, Frank Smith had a wife.

A day or two later, I named her Lucy. Then killed her off. The story would have become a novel if I hadn’t, and I wanted to balance Frank’s ageing memories – of Lucy and others – with voices of youth. So along came the young woman who ushers the audience to their seats in ‘the long thin dark theatre’ where Krapp’s Last Tape is performed. Her surprise that Frank turned up at all, among so many young people, releases the demons that rumbled as Frank watched the play. Short stories need a moment of realisation or change, and the clash between her enthusiasm for the play’s use of the past and Frank’s disturbed memories provided this.

‘We’ve all been something,’ was all he managed to say. ‘Known someone.’

The story might have ended there, but because the theme of age and youth was well-established I felt more could be done. I went back to the keyboard and jiggled the plot, making Frank inadvertently upset the ‘woman in black’, so her young hopes and dreams could quietly confront his regrets.

“In the half-dark, she looked squarely at him, black T-shirt and jeans appraising jacket and tie. A slight twitch flickered her lips. He thought there might be tears.

‘We all have dreams,’ she said, in the quietest voice he’d ever heard. ‘I’d rather dream than drift, any day.’ She pressed her lips together to control the twitch, but it continued. ‘What’s wrong with having dreams?’ she asked.”

This exchange then allowed a more positive development in Frank, making for a more satisfying conclusion [in my view, anyway, but I’d love to hear yours too].

So, a chance observation in a pub, a visit to a play, a book on a shelf, some musings and experiments at the keyboard – and before too long there’s a character’s voice, a felt situation, and a set of realisations. If it was as easy as I’ve made it sound…

I drop in to a pub maybe once week. I’m wondering if I should go more often. Pubs are full of people, and where there are people, there are stories.

a view from memory hill

You can find A View from the Memory Hill here:  smarturl.it/avwm

 

Paul Toolan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a special place to write?

As I was typing away on my new project yesterday, it occurred to me that I need certain requirements to enable me to think, create and write. Not much to be honest, but I do have  my special place to help me channel my inspiration. I have a comfy chair with cushions, gentle lighting from the beautiful leaded light windows my husband, Martin made and my shelf of reference books ready to hand. When all that is in place I can happily delve into my fantasy world for hours.

Here is a photo of my ‘workstation’.

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Do any other authors out there have their special writing places? If so, I’d love to hear from you. If you have a picture, that would be even better.

I am currently working on a series of stories to complement my Sci-fi/Dystopian/Action Adventure books The Song of Forgetfulness.

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The idea came from several readers who contacted me after reading the books wanting to know more about the history of the world I have created. So, I thought, okay, why not?

Can of worms!

I needed to do a lot of research to make my history credible. So it has taken longer than I anticipated to write this prequel of sorts. In fact, I’m nowhere near done, but I have finished the first part, so that’s something.

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Here is a snippet from part two of The Chronicles of Mayer – out soon!

One weatherless night when quietness surrounded us and I lay snuggled against Paul, a sound awoke me. I thought at first it was just more thunder. But the thumping, rumbling noise was not coming from the sky. It was not the air echoing off a lightning bolt, but the thudding of many feet in unison. I rolled away from Paul’s sleep-twitching body and sat up. Glancing at the wet earth I noticed a puddle ripple. The cows called out. Paul stirred and Arjuna knelt beside me.

‘I was foraging for mushrooms and saw tiny lights. I climbed the branches of a tree and as the dark sky brightened to herald a new day, I saw them. Soldiers.’

‘How many.’ Fully awake, Paul stood. ‘Do they carry weapons?’

‘Guns. Some drag carts. They are coming this way.’

I rubbed my sleep-encrusted eyes. ‘That does not make sense. To travel towards the flooding? Why?

A single gunshot ricocheted through the forest. All that were in slumber jumped to their feet. Cries of puzzlement were met with a loud honking as if a nest of geese had been disturbed. Then a voice, deep and full of authority boomed out. ‘Stay perfectly still and you will not be harmed.’

If you would like more information about my books please do visit my website – Oddly Books.

www.oddlybooks.com

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Would you buy this book?

I have been working on my second short story collection for over a year now. I was going to publish it last Christmas, but like I said in my previous post, I got cold feet.

I have now finished it and will be publishing it on November 5th – Bonfire Night in the UK. May as well start with a bang!

Anyway, here is the blurb and cover. Would you buy this book?

Crow Bones:

Revenge, desire, elusive muses, incest, cannibalism, alien infanticide and a very angry goat.

Inspired by artists such as Chagall, Munch, and Banksy, these curious, darkly humorous and sometimes surreal stories explore human nature in all its disparate colours. From finding love against the odds on Blackpool Beach to surviving abandonment on a dying planet, each tale takes you to another time and place where reality is blurred and dreams mingle with the paint mist from a spray can.

 If you like authors such as Philip K Dick, Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Bradbury, Annie Proulx and Franz Kafka, then Crow Bones is the anthology for you.

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I will also be launching my new venture – Oddly Books  where I will be publishing my own weird novels and stories as well as getting together other like-minded authors to produce quality fiction that strays beyond the edge of reality.

So, if you are an author who writes quality, speculative, strange stories, please do get in touch.

Here is a short extract form one of the stories in the new anthology

 Soft Boiled.

“The hiss and babble of a pot brewing up bones and gristle gave the kitchen a sense of bustle despite the stillness of the sole occupant.

Alice, fixed to her seat, did not waft her flushed cheeks, scratch the itch that made her thigh twitch or wipe off the sticky fluid on her fingers. She just sat, stared at the pan and let the blood drip.”

My first short story anthology – Glimmer and other stories – the ebook is on offer at the moment for only $0.99 £0.99. You can purchase it on Amazon:

US: https://www.amazon.com/Glimmer-other-stories-Unusual-suspense-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M

Or from a variety of sites such as Kobo, itunes and Barnes and Noble. Just click on the link below:
Any author interested in the Oddly Book anthology, please do get in touch. My email is: nikki@nicolamcdonagh.com. Or leave a comment with a contact for me to get in touch with you.
Thanks for reading!!

Author Spotlight – Peter Scott

I have decided to do a series of blogs promoting new authors that live in East Anglia, in particular, Suffolk. Why? Because I live and work in this beautiful part of the country and have come to know a lot of new and established authors that also live here.

I have recently been hosting a series of workshops designed specifically for authors who are either new to publishing or new to marketing and promoting their author profile online. I have had the pleasure to meet several fabulous people who have self-published their books and are in need of some support.

So, to celebrate the varied talent from Suffolk and East Anglia I am proud to present debut Indie author Peter Scott and his novel Pimple.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself Peter:

I have lived through a period of considerable change, particularly social and demographic change. Joining RAF probably saved me from the local borstal, and set me up for a career in aircraft maintenance. This would have been about the time that ‘Bill Hailey and ‘The Comets’ came over to stir up our youth – including me. A first posting to Kenya jump started me into an awareness of a wider world and fascination for wild places which I was able to satisfy via various overseas contracts.  Later, following a period of self study and in a completely different role as a careers advisor it was rewarding to help young people come to rational decisions in a complex educational and working environment.

I suppose my de-fault position is that of a lucky so and so enjoying happy personal circumstances, but with a deep underlying foreboding about the massively growing numbers of our own species, many of which are programmed to inflict horror on each other and the natural world.

ABOUT PIMPLE – THE BOOK

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Pimple is about a very ordinary lad with limited self expression but great sensitivity. Quite unknowingly he is recruited into a hopelessly optimistic scheme to make the world a happier place. The scheme was devised years before his birth, and an extraordinary tune was created to act as a ‘recruiting agent’ tailored to select just the right band capable of creating music so inspirational it would create a global climate of love and co-operation.

As the story unravels Pimple encounters some bizarre situations and characters who are not quite as they first seem. It is of course a ‘tall story’ but during a trip to the USA they make an astounding discovery which could indeed change the world.

WHAT WAS THE BACKGROUND AND INSPIRATION BEHIND THE BOOK?

I used to play traditional jazz in a Lincolnshire pub and on one occasion a lad came up with a trumpet during the first interval and asked if he could ‘sit in’ with the band. Young ‘sitters in’ usually come with loud warning signs, noisy coteries or doting mums, but this one was different. For a start he was alone and wanted to play ‘Poor Mans Blues’ – a slow tune which should really be sung, but he just liked the tune and asked for it to be in Bb because it was his ‘easy key’ and he didn’t want to make too many mistakes. There was something genuine about his approach and something very genuine about his playing. He exactly captured the feel and sadness of the tune without any attempt to show off and I sensed it had been a consoling experience for him. Thanking us for letting him sit in he wandered off some time later and we never saw him again.

He made quite an impression, but no-one asked his name so we remembered him only as ‘Pimple’ because of a prominent pimple on one of his cheeks.

Some time later a particularly nasty incident in war – torn South Sudan started me wondering if a melody could be sufficiently powerful in its emotional impact to modify general nastiness and unkindness. I doubt it, but it developed it a ‘what if?’ fictional possibility, with Pimple as a central character. His limited verbal self-expression coupled with his sensitivity made him an ideal ’sounding board’ for the various characters and happenings around him.

WHAT WERE YOUR LIKES AND DIFFICULTIES WHEN WRITING YOUR BOOK?

Perhaps the most satisfying part of writing was creating believable characters. It was also satisfying to succeed in making commonplace events seem interesting or enhancing a character by describing a simple action.  The most difficult part was producing the manuscript and cover suitable for an ‘e’ book .  Right now it’s marketing it on the web, however, Nikki McDonagh: http://wwwnicolamcdonagh.com  has been really helpful in her training sessions, so hopefully I’ll get there soon.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED?

Much of Pimple was written during overseas contracts, and only recently did I think it  ‘had legs’. I didn’t change it much except to make it more succinct and more ‘grown up’. So perhaps writing a book is a maturing process – or I’m just old.

DO YOU HAVE ANY FUTURE WRITING PLANS?

I have a few short pieces and rants which I hope to compile.  I also have a monster of a concept which I cannot yet resolve, but which also refuses to go away – hopefully something will go ‘click’ and I’ll move forward soon.

Thank you, Peter for a very interesting insight into your life and your writing process.

Pimple is on offer right now for only $0.99 £0.99.

So grab your copy NOW!

Available on:

Amazon.US: https://www.amazon.com/Pimple-Peter-Scott-ebook/dp/B008CFHDPA

Amazon.UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pimple-Peter-Scott-ebook/dp/B008CFHDPA

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Want Something Different To Read For Mother’s Day?

Firstly, I want to say Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers out there.

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I am all for celebrating the joy  and hard work of motherhood. I think it is a wonderful idea to have a special day to say thanks, but I do get a bit fed up with all the over-the-top sugary sentimentality that the event conjures up.

So, as an antidote, let me share my Sestina – Echo– with you all. It may be a little dark, but it does celebrate the relationship between a mother and daughter.

Sestina – Echo

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Echo

In blackness, Mother reaches for the light

switch, but the bulb has blown. There’s a candle

under her pillow, ready for a time

like this – when the darkness grips. A cut

on her arm has festered and now the skin

appears red and taught; an angry mark.

She tries to rub it away, but the mark

won’t go. Mother cowers, whispers, ‘No light.’

Calls out, ‘Mary, quick.’ Then picks at the skin

around the wound. Mother lifts the candle

rubs it on the dirty scratch. Mary says, ‘Cut

again?’ Then sets the wick on fire. One time

she found Mother naked, another time

crouched in the corner making a mark,

a sign to her daughter. A broken nail cut

her arm, left a blood trail that soaked up light.

Mary saw it flow and seep into the candle

whose flame highlighted Mother’s aged skin

hanging in folds. Mary peers at her own skin.

But the dimness hides the truth; that at some time

gravity will win. Mary takes the candle.

Sees a rough carving of a heart-shaped mark.

Did Mother make this? A bird calls as light

shines through the window. It’s enough to cut

into the gloom they stand in, and to cut

away the chill. It shines upon the skin

they share, so similar in this half-light.

Mary shudders at the thought that in time

her fate will be to scratch out such a mark

and wear her body half melted like candle

wax. A strand of hair has stuck to the candle.

She pulls it off revealing a perfect scar, a cut

embedded. With her thumb she makes a mark

like Mother made, leaving some of her skin

behind. They smile at the symmetry; how time

has crept up behind them and how the light

transformed the candle wax into a fresh skin

to lay across the cut, giving it time

to heal the mark, slowly fading in the light.

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If you enjoyed this poem, you might like to read more unusual and darkly inspiration stories to be found in my anthology – Glimmer and other stories.

On the Eighth Day:

“He wriggled and pushed the bedclothes down. It was the first time I had seen him in the flesh.  His skin was white, and smooth as the skin on warm milk.

Never knew a man could feel so soft. More used to rough hands grabbing, not knowing what they touched.

He knew.

At least, I hoped so. Hard to tell. Been a while since I was in the company of a male.”

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‘The subjects range from humour to horror and supernatural romance to repressed creativity – they all have an underlying oddness about them which is quite refreshing. Recommended for those who enjoy something a bit out of the ordinary.’

‘Glimmer and other stories’ is a miniature treasure chest of jewels. I absolutely loved these short stories. As I was reading, I fell into a trance of adjectival excess… they were mesmerising, masterful, original, eloquent, lyrical, clever…’

On Offer at Amazon:

US:  http://amzn.to/239YbRG

UK: http://amzn.to/1n6Hqpu