Thursday, 31 October 2013

Guest Authors Revisited - James Forrest

I first interviewed James Forrest back in April (you can read the original interview here), I recently caught up with him to see what he has been up to since then, you can find out more below:
 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00BJ83F2C/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00BJ83F2C&linkCode=as2&tag=phasespacenet-21

What has changed in your life since we last spoke?
When we last spoke I had just published Fragments, my book of short stories. Since then I've also published Believers, my first novel. It's sold a small number of copies (as has Fragments) but, in the UK at least, the reviews have been excellent. US reviews have been in very short supply, and I'm unluckly in that the one existing US review for Believers was from someone who couldn't get into the story cause it's not his type of book!

That aside, I have just started publishing magazines; one on Scottish music and another on cool TV shows, movies, video games etc with my digital publishing company LBM Publishing. I'm also writing my second novel, which is going really well.

Have you learnt any new wisdom?
Oddly enough, in the course of writing my new novel I've rediscovered an old wisdom. I am trying to get it down as it unfolds in my head, but I'm not trying very hard. I know roughly where the book is going, and I've had the end for about three months now, a very dark ending, a very visual ending, but I am not forcing the story to get there. It's evolving very organically. At first I was labouring mightily to keep it on a certain track, but the characters are unravelling as the situation described begins to unravel, and I'm at the point now where I'm just letting that happen, and going with them rather than trying to direct things.

That's part of why I'm enjoying it so much. It really is a clusterfeck of a situation, and the characters are reacting to it in ways that feel real to me. Nothing is forced.

Have you become a better writer? If so, how?
If I've become a better writer I think it's because I am doing it every day again, but in truth I think where I really have gotten better is in that I've actually started to develop a grudging love for reviewing and rewriting. Oh, I am not doing it as I go, I am not touching the book until it's finished and it's been put away for a couple of weeks at least, but as I read over what I've written I can see all the places where I will need to rewrite and revise, and for the first time ever I am not dreading that prospect. Reading over the published draft of my first novel Believers it's clear to me that it's a better book - by far - than what it was before I worked on it, and that's why it won't be such an almighy chore next time.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am presently working on my second novel, about a bio-terrorist attack in the UK. I genuinely believe if I can keep hold of the story it will be an excellent piece of work, the kind of book I would buy without reservation. In the end, as all writers should, I write for myself as much as for any audience and it's the kind of novel I would get a lot of pleasure out of reading.

The book is called A Pocket Full Of Posies, which most of your readers will recognise immediately. There have been pesistent rumours about Ring-A-Ring-O-Rosies being about the Black Death, but it appears to be a myth. Nevertheless, I do find the words to be compelling enough to name my novel after them.

The ring-o-ring-o-roses was supposed to be a reference to a rash, to the first onset of the disease. The pocket full of posies were meant to be a reference to an old wives tale, a herbal rememdy which was supposed to keep the disease at bay, or cure it. The tishoo-atishoo ... and we all fall down ... well that's pretty self explanatory, it seems to me. I have split the book into four sections as per those lines, and I'm actually midway through Part 2 right now (the Pocket Full of Posies) which concerns itself with the government's early efforts to contain the outbreak to a single city.

I have to say, it's a lot of fun to write!

Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
Both my published books, Believers and Fragments, are available on Kindle right now, priced quite reasonably (I think!), and my second novel should be finished by early next year.

My magazines are a different story, and can be read by clicking the respective links at www.lbmpublishing.com

Books by James Forrest on Amazon:

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Guest Author Interview - Mary Filmer

In today's guest author interview I welcome children's book author Mary Filmer, you can find out what she has to say about her writing below:
 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00DUJVEYE/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00DUJVEYE&linkCode=as2&tag=phasespacenet-21


Please introduces yourself, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Mary Filmer and I am a children’s author.

What first inspired you to start writing?
 I wish I could say I was born a writer but the truth is I had a learning disability. I am dyslexic and in my day no one had even heard of that let alone could help children with this type of disability. I had never even read a book until my children were born. So that is when I started to write because I would write little stories for my two children and as time when by I started to study and learn more.

What attracted you to write for children?
My children at first, then as they began to grow older and I became more educated and started to work in schools in the library. I would write short stories for the teachers to help them teach different subjects. Or I would help with different art and writing classes.

What are the challenges for writing for children compared to older readers?
I really couldn’t tell you as I have never written for anyone but children. I have written teaching material such as Emergence 000 which is a black liner book for teachers to teach a class. It has the teachers notes and the class material which enables the teacher to just photo copy the material and then hand it out to the class. All the research material is in the book which they need to teach the class with. A part from that I have only written educational material for teachers. As far as writing a fantasy book for an older reader goes I really have never tried too.

Where do your best ideas come from?
I am not sure I know. Maybe it is when someone ask you something or when you see something different from someone else. Or it could be something so simple as watching a little bird or watching rain fall.

What is your favourite song lyric?
You are the second person who has asked me this within a few days. I have so many songs I like so I may say something different to what I said before. At the moment I would have to say it was, “just a spoon full of sugar help’s the medicine go down, in the most delightful way. “ As my husband has a cold and he has to have some cold and flu tablets.

What is the best piece of writing advice you have received?
Answer: Never give up on your dreams, even if someone tells you they do not like your book. That is only one person another might think you write great. This is a lesson I think a lot of authors must learn to face, as not everyone likes the same things.

What are you working on at the moment?
Book 3 of the Mary Sumeridge series of fantasy books.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more?
Can I show you my latest work which was published on the 18/7/13. It is the first of the fantasy series of Mary Sumeridge Beginnings. It is here on the UTube and it is Poppy the Troll telling you all about the book. My husband is the voice of Poppy so it is nice and clear. The animation was created by Dilla from Malaysia for me, she also did the cover of the book.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pgz_ZvccD7c

You can see it on my website which is : http://maryfilmer.com/
It tells you where you can buy the book and all about it.

Mary Sumeridge Beginnings is available from Amazon

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Guest Authors Revisited - Rita Lee Chapman

I first interviewed Rita Lee Chapman back in April (you can read her original interview here), I recently caught up with her to see what she has been up to since then, find out more below:


What has changed in your life since we last spoke?
I now have my own website at http://www.ritaleechapman.com
I have a guest author page and interview a different author each week. If anyone reading this is interested in being interviewed, please contact me through the form on the website.

I have also issued a Large Print Edition of Missing in Egypt.

Have you learnt any new wisdom?
i) Edit, edit and edit some more. I re-published Missing in Egypt after finding some small but annoying errors.
ii) Marketing and promoting is very hard!

Have you become a better writer? If so, how?
I think Winston – A Horse’s Tale is a better book than my first one, but this may be because I found it easier to write.
What are you working on at the moment?
Winston – A Horse’s Tale is just about to be published in time for Christmas. It was held up because a publisher asked to see the full manuscript and then hasn’t contacted me again or answered my inquiries. Don’t you hate that? In this day and age how hard is it to have a computer-generated acknowledgement with a tracking number so that you can check on its progress?

I have just started my next book, which will be a crime thriller mystery. All different genres I know, but I like to write about things that interest me.

Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
Winston – A Horse’s Tale will be published as a paperback through Amazon and as an e-book through Amazon and Smashwords. More information can be found on my website.

Missing in Eygpt is available from Amazon

Murder Drabbles - Keeping the Secret

The latest in the Murder Drabble series has been posted in the Indie Book Bargains Newsletter, if you haven't read the other drabbles in the series then you can do so here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/murder-drabbles.html

Keeping the Secret

The memory of that first kill captivated me for days. I recalled the scene over and over again. At first it felt fresh, but the memory turned stale, its image no longer vibrant.

I wished that I’d kept a trophy, some trinket to freeze the moment so that it would never fade.

And then it struck me, a way to store the treasure without the risk of keeping evidence. I’d always dreamed of writing and I learned of drabbles, a story exactly one hundred words long. A memory stored in the open as a story and no-one would ever know.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Tales of the Imp - Wishing on a Star

 
The latest Tales of the Imp drabble has been posted in the Indie Book Bargains newsletter (if you don't subscribe then check out the site here: http://www.indie-book-bargains.co.uk/ as well as a daily drabble you also get the hottest daily Kindle bargains), I've copied the drabble below.

If you'd like to read the complete series of the Imp then visit his page here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/p/tales-of-imp.html

There's now a Facebook group dedicated to drabbles, come and like the page here:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/drabbles

Wishing on a Star

The long walk home seemed too normal; I didn’t feel like a murderer. It was a cold night, but I barely felt the air’s chill. The sky was crisp and full of stars. The Imp danced a merry jig upon my shoulder. He kept congratulating me on a job well done. His shrill little giggle filled my ear.

It took forever to walk home; I kept to the quiet streets, guided by the Imp and kept out of sight from the few people out at this strange hour.

Did I feel regret? Not then, that would come, but not yet.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Game Review - Bioshock Infinite

I enjoyed the first two Bioshock games a lot, this third game follows a similar pattern to the previous games although rather than being set in the undersea city of Rapture (I'd love to play a game set in Rapture at its height) it takes place in an even more unlikely city called Columbia up in the clouds.

The game also follows a familiar pattern with the gameplay, it's a first person shooter but you also have the ability to use certain powers although essentially are just a different type of weapon. There's a wide range of weapons to play with, although they do follow the usual spread for FPS games.

The strength of the game ironically isn't in the gameplay (although that is solid enough), it tells an interesting and well crafted story. The story starts on a rowing boat heading towards a lighthouse far out to sea, a scene reminiscent of the first game. From there you arrive in Columbia and those first steps through the temple are some of the most beautiful I've seen in a game. You're there to rescue a girl and while that might seem like common game fodder it does get more interesting as you progress.

Oddly I wasn't as impressed with the city as I was when I first saw Rapture. It's pretty and makes for an unusual setting, but somehow it just felt like it was lacking something.

When you do rescue the girl she joins you as a companion for the game and here was something refreshing an AI partner that is actually useful during the game rather than being an annoying burden.

Overall I enjoyed the story more than the game, although the game was pitched at a level that meant that I always felt like I was making progress and interacting with the story. It's not as good as the first game, but on balance on par with the second. It's a decent shooter in a very well made wrapper.


Developed by Irrational Games, BioShock Infinite won more than 75 editorial awards at E3 in 2011, including the Game Critics Awards’ Best of Show. The title has been named one of the most anticipated games of 2012 by more than 50 media outlets, including WIRED, USA Today, TIME, GameSpot, and GameTrailers. The BioShock franchise is one of the interactive entertainment industry’s most successful and critically acclaimed series, which has sold-in over 9 million units worldwide.

BioShock Infinite puts players in the role of Booker DeWitt, a hard-bitten former Pinkerton agent, together with the revolutionary AI companion, Elizabeth. The two struggle to escape the sky-city of Columbia, in a 1912 America that might have been. Armed with an arsenal of new weapons and abilities, they face menacing enemies, in unique expansive environments. Classic BioShock gameplay joins innovations such as aerial combat on high-speed Sky-Lines in the service of an immersive storyline – an Irrational Games signature.


Film Review - Psycho

I've been watching Bates Motel recently (which has been better than I expected) and realised that I hadn't watched the source for a while. Psycho is a classic movie and for good reason. To modern eyes it might seem a little on the over dramatic side, but I love it and many modern film makers owe a debt to this film.

For those of you that haven't seen it (in which case stop reading this and just grab it!) it tells the story of a young woman who impulsively steals $40,000 from her job. While on the run she stays at the Bates Motel, run by the ultimate mummy's boy - Norman Bates.

Both of the leads perform an excellent job with their roles, Bates has a creepy feel to him that pervades every scene. In some ways it's a film of two halves and in fairness I do prefer the first half. The build up to her arrival at the motel works well and the scenes to the shower scene and aftermath are superb.

The second half encapsulates the investigation and is still good, but doesn't shine as much as the first. The capture scene also stretches the over dramatic label a little and for me was Perkins' only bad scene. It's churlish of me to complain though, it remains an excellent watch and fully deserves it's classic status.


Hailed as one of the most influential suspense movies of its time, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho had a profound effect on how future filmmakers made movies and shaped audience expectations for generations to come. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of one of Universal Studios’ most treasured and prestigious films, Psycho will debut for the first time ever on Blu-ray Hi-Def. Meticulously restored for perfect digital picture and the purest DTS HD 5.1 digital sound, the Psycho 50th Anniversary Edition takes audiences on a thrilling journey as an unsuspecting victim (Janet Leigh, The Manchurian Candidate, Bye Bye Birdie) visits the Bates Motel and falls prey to one of the silver screen’s most notorious psychopaths – Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins, Murder on the Orient Express, Les Miserables). Featuring one of the most iconic scenes in film history – the infamous “shower scene” – Psycho continues to terrify audiences today as much as it did half a century ago.

Psycho is available from Amazon (and is a classic watch)

November Short Fiction Contest - One Week In


We're now one week into November's short fiction contest and I've received the first few entries, all inspired by this month's image, a rather spooky image as well, most suitable for the time of year. If you haven't entered yet there's still time to do so, all you need to do is write a story of no more than 500 words based in this month's picture and you could win a £50 Amazon gift card. You should submit the story via the competition page here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/november-short-fiction-contest.html

The winners for October's short fiction contest have been announced and you can read the wonderful winning stories here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/october-short-fiction-contest-winners.html

Finally I've set up a Facebook group for readers looking for short and flash fiction as well as for writers to show of their work in those formats, you can join the group here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/shortfictionreadersandwriters/

Guest Post - Mixing Fact and Fiction by Bethany Turner

I received my first writing award in the second grade at a State-level competition. We were asked to write an essay explaining who we would choose to have lunch with and why, if it could be any person living or dead. Seven- and eight-year-olds all around me wrote of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa and Princess Diana. I chose John Stamos, who at the time starred as Uncle Jesse on Full House, and I was rewarded for it. My obsession with pop culture had been validated! So why wouldn’t my first novel take the same approach?

When I first started writing Abigail Phelps, the idea was simple: merge the fictional world I am going to create with real people, places, and events the readers will already know. Truthfully, maybe I was just being lazy initially. Suddenly, I had a book idea for which I only had to do half the work! But the reality of it became something else entirely.

Pop Culture + Bethany Turner + Obsession-Level Project = New Levels of Insanity!

Suddenly it wasn’t just, “Okay, what if Abby has a relationship with John F. Kennedy Jr.?” Instead it was, “What if the story begins with Abby being committed to a mental institution and she claims Senator Ted Kennedy was the person who had her institutionalized?” But, because I can never leave well enough alone, that turned into, “And what if Abby’s psychiatrist diagnoses her as delusional?”
But what if there’s more truth to the “delusions” than her psychiatrist believes?

What if the psychiatrist embarks on a fact-finding mission and discovers he’s had it all wrong for years?

And what if, as the psychiatrist discovers the truth, the reader can’t help but suddenly question what they have always known to be the truth?

And suddenly, I was in full-on cultural experimentation mode! I wanted to see if I could paint such a vivid, believable snapshot of a life, intermingled with people and events from the public consciousness, that the reader would never again watch Torvill and Dean perform Bolero, or even hear those well-known drum beats, without picturing Abigail Phelps. If the reader hears a certain Billy Joel song or two, I want them to blush because of Abigail memories with which they now associate the song. And JFK Jr.? Well, I want Abigail Phelps to be part of the Kennedy legacy. And it doesn’t matter that you know she’s not real, and it doesn’t matter that you know what really happened, because the mind is a powerful thing, and reality is in the eye of the beholder.

Sometimes it’s small - we’ll convince ourselves we possess a talent that we truly don’t, or we’ll tell ourselves so-and-so was to blame when we really need to shoulder the blame ourselves. Sometimes it’s a little bigger - the company owes me this money, it’s not stealing because they’ve been ripping me off for years. And sometimes it’s huge - he’s a good guy and it’s my fault he hit me, or if I just take these pills, the pain will go away.

 We all lie to ourselves. We all get a little bit delusional. We each behold our own vision of our reality. And isn’t that why we read anyway? Fiction is a momentary escape from our own reality, and even self-help books often trick us into believing we can be something that we can’t or shouldn’t be. Whether you get lost in a romance, and wish things like that would be whispered to you during your most intimate moments, or you read a history book to reflect on a simpler time, you’re escaping.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Life is stressful but reading shouldn’t be. We want to get lost, and we want to momentarily forget the assignment which is due, or the fight we had, or the bill we can’t pay. And even though we know that our reality will be there waiting for us when we look up from the page, we find comfort in temporarily focusing on someone else’s problems, someone else’s reality.

I started with a small, pop culture obsession-fueled idea which took on a life of its own. And hopefully it will take on an individualized life of its own for each reader. Want to escape with romance? You got it. History? Check. Extreme happiness and the lowest of lows? Absolutely.
Reality is in the eye of the beholder. Make it what you wish.

Bethany is the author of the Abigail Phelps series, check out her books on Amazon by clicking the images below:

Film Review - Oblivion

I'd heard many terrible things about this film before watching it, almost enough to make me not bother, but I'm a sucker for sci-fi blockbusters so I gave it a try. The good news is that it's not a bad as I'd heard, the bad news is that while it's reasonably entertaining it's far from a good film.

At its heart this is an Independence Day type of affair and while it tries to take itself more seriously any purists watching it would be cursing the poor science of it. Unfortunately it's not as much fun as Independence Day either, however it's more modern visual effects do provide some stunning scenes.

The story is simple, aliens attack Earth and are beaten off with a nuclear attack that irradiates vast regions of Earth, rendering it unihabitable. Most of the survivors ship of to a colony at Titan, but two stay behind to protect essential assets needed to support the far off colony. Remnents of the invading aliens still survive on the Earth's surface and are trying to hamper the operation.

Things aren't quite what they seem and the story really unfolds from there. It's fairly predictable as to where the story is heading, but the journey isn't too bad. The cast all do a reasonable job with their roles, but there's nothing inspired about any of it. It's a sci-fi blockbuster that goes through the motions, an ok watch, but nothing more.



Tom Cruise stars in Oblivion, an original and groundbreaking cinematic event from the director of TRON: Legacy and the producer of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. On a spectacular future Earth that has evolved beyond recognition, one man’s confrontation with the past will lead him on a journey of redemption and discovery as he battles to save mankind.

Jack Harper (Cruise) is one of the last few drone repairmen stationed on Earth. Part of a massive operation to extract vital resources after decades of war with a terrifying threat known as the Scavs, Jack’s mission is nearly complete.

Living and patrolling the breathtaking skies from thousands of feet above, his soaring existence is brought crashing down when he rescues a beautiful stranger from a downed spacecraft. Her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything he knows and puts the fate of humanity in his hands.

Oblivion is available from Amazon (and is an ok watch)

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Film Review - Tracker

I was pleasantly surprised by this film, the trailer looked like it would be fun and it was, but it also turned out to be a pretty decent film. Ray Winstone plays a Boer who travels to New Zealand after the Boer war. After he arrives he's tasked with hunting down a Maori who has been falsely accused of murdering a British soldier.

The film get's going quickly and it's as the hunt begins that the film starts to shine. Ray Winstone plays the tracker well in what is a relatively sedate role for him. His South African accent isn't great, but apart from that he does a good job with the role.

Temuera Morrison (who was excellent in Once Were Warriors) also plays his part well and the interaction between the two leads is the film's greatest strength. The story itself is a little predictable, but unfolds in a pleasing manner. Mention should also be made of the scenery, quite simply there are some stunning views throughout the film.

Overall its an excellent watch, reasonably slow paced, but that's fine, it gives the two leads time to breath and you can enjoy the scenery while they do so.


Set in 1903, Tracker is a tense action thriller in which Arjan (Ray Winstone), a guerrilla survivor of the South African Boer War, lands in colonial New Zealand and is promised a bounty to capture Kereama (Temuera Morrison), a Maori seafarer accused of killing a British soldier.

What should be a simple job for Arjan, a master tracker, turns into a gripping and dangerous game of cat and mouse as Kereama repeatedly escapes and is recaptured., all the while insisting on his innocence. As each gains and loses the upper hand, they find they have more in common that simply a mutual hatred of the British…


October Short Fiction Contest Winners

Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
It's that happy time of the month where I get to announce the winners for the latest short fiction contest. October's contest was the hardest to judge of all the competitions so far, not only because of the quality of the entries, but also due to the variety that October's moody image inspired. In total I received 40 entries and it's taken me all week to pick the winners.

As always I'd like to thank everyone who entered and please leave your appreciation for the winning stories in the comments below, I'm sure you'll agree that they're all an excellent read.

  • First prize of a £50 Amazon gift card goes to Colbey Pratt for 'Achromic'
  • Second prize of a £20 Amazon gift card goes to Kath Middleton for 'The Tree'
  • Third prize of a £10 Amazon gift card goes to Will Macmillan for 'Ysgaddril'
Congratulations to the winners and if you'd like to enter November's short fiction contest then click here.

If you enjoy reading short or flash fiction, or you have written a piece you'd like to share then why not join my Facebook group, click here to take a look.

And now let's enjoy October's winners:

Achromic by Colbey Pratt

I live in a world divested of color.

My senses escape me, lost and separated from the void in which I am trapped. I cannot feel the warmth of the light, nor the icy chill of the shadows. I cannot taste any fragrance in the air, of the dandelions that dance with even the subtlest hint of a breeze. I cannot hear the rustling of the Great Tree's leaves, or even that soft static that always accompanies silence. And, even though I can decipher shapes, I cannot perceive the color they may or may not possess.

Of my senses I can only smell, but even that is a curse in and of itself. For the only odor I can detect is of ash and smoke, of soot and the lingering essence of death. I am not quite positive of where it comes from, and every theory I've created has been squashed by simple logic...although logic is untouchable from my prison.

I am completely alone, isolated from any other soul that may occupy this realm as I do. Once, a while ago or so I believe, I thought I glimpsed another being passing by, tiptoeing just along my peripheral. But the instant I tried to look, anyone that might have been there had already vanished, and I was forsaken once more.  I remember endeavoring to call out, but no sound came - and where no sound can be heard, no sound can be made.

I have no memory of a past or place before this province before this never-ending moment suspended in the fabric of time - only a knowledge of what should or should not be in the presence of reality. And that alone gives me the notion that I'm ensnared in the clutches of a world, of a universe, completely detached, severed from all facets of reality. It simply does not exist where I reside.
And that, I suppose, is the most frightening aspect of all. The idea, the possibility, that I am caught between the thriving before and the sacrosanct after.

The Tree by Kath Middleton

http://www.ignitebooks.blogspot.co.uk/

This tree has come to symbolise my life.

I was nineteen years old and taking part in early experiments in electrical conductivity when something happened which made me different from others.  I believe it occurred when one of our experiments went badly wrong.  We were passing a powerful current through a cadaver and I caught the full blast in error.  I was thrown across the laboratory and had my hair singed.  I even lost consciousness for a time and spent two days in hospital recovering.

It was after this that I realised, very gradually, that physical changes which affected my fellows left me untouched. I didn't age.  Oh, I don't mean I still look nineteen.  I have filled out a little and my facial features have matured.  That was all over a hundred and fifty years ago though.  Unless someone cuts off my head, shoots me or runs me through with a blade, I will live on, potentially forever.

So many people think that it must be wonderful never to age - never to die.  They don't know what they're talking about.  Being immortal doesn't stop you from falling in love.  Every woman I have ever loved has aged before my eyes, has become bent, grey and wrinkled.  She has died of sickness or old age and I have lost her.  It happens to many people once.  It has happened to me several times, that I have buried the woman I love while appearing to the outside world as though I were her grandson.

When I lost Lilian, my first wife, I buried her and planted a seed above her withered body.  The tree that grew there would be her remembrance.  I go back every year and watch as it grows.  It's in the prime of life but I have buried two other beloved women since its seed was sown.  I now know that I will either live alone and desolate, or I will love women yet unborn and lose them too.  It's not just the loss that hurts, it's watching helplessly as day by day she slips away from me.  I am now aware that my memory tree has reached its own maturity and will begin to decline.  I shall have to collect seeds from it and begin another tree.

Now my fifth wife is white-haired and looks like my grandmother.  For the first time, with this wife, Ellen, I have a son.  After a wonderful childhood I watched him grow, taught him much and now see him looking like my father.  My life feels like a tragedy.

Today is the anniversary of Lilian's death and my first great grief.  I stand under the canopy of my mourning tree and finger the seed in my pocket. Unless I take my own life, I will need another tree to commemorate my lost loves - and children.

I stoop, bury the seed in the damp earth and stand back.

Ysgaddril by Will Macmillan

www.willmacmillanjones.com

I don’t know about you, but I love trees.  I spend as much time as I can walking in the woods and talking to the trees.  They are alive you know, and everything that lives talks and communicates to its fellows in some way.  Look at the oak trees.  Did you know that you even get male and female varieties?  So they love and mate as we do: only it all takes place over a much longer life cycle than ours, obviously.  They talk, they must talk, and I try to hear them and understand their romance.

If you’ve any spark of romance in you, then like me you probably get drawn to the lone tree.  Don’t you love the image of the single tree on the skyline of a ridge?  Especially when the rosy fingers of a summer dawn glow on the leaves, or the cold, sweet light of the moon shines stark through the bare branches as the autumn wind howls.  At times like that the lonely tree still talks, but to whom?

Well, to me for one.  Every year at this time there’s one special tree on a skyline for me.  It isn’t far from where I pass the days, and one night in the year I go and sit there beneath the bare spreading branches and talk to the tree of the season fled, the approaching winter and the spring beyond.  Does it hear me?  I’d like to think so, for I always rise from the grassy seat feeling I have been refreshed and gifted with enough energy to last me the coming year.  One reason I think of it as my tree of life.

Sometimes as I walk away down the ridge with the grey dawn rising at my back, I look back and outlined with the branches I can see my body hanging from the tree, just as I left it there all those years ago.

Book Shout Out - Daddy's Got You by M. R. Gott - Free Today!

Here's a book shout out for M. R. Gott's short 'Daddy's Got You', it's available for free download today from Amazon so grab you're copy now while you can!


Daddy’s Got You is a tale that follows a young couple awakened by the cries of their child in the middle of the night, and their realization that comfort is only an illusion. 

Reviews for M.R. Gott’s work;
“…one of the most disturbing and atmospheric things I’ve read in a long while.”
Dana Fredsti author of Plague Town

“…exceptionally frightening and creepy, and very well written.”
Peter Schwotzer of Famous Monsters of Filmland.

"...frantic, horrific, brutal, and without doubt the darkest thing I have read in years. Maybe in my life."
Marc Nocerino of She Never Slept

“a high-octane thriller that packs a wicked punch and a killer bite (and a surprisingly soft heart).”
Naima Haviland Author of Bloodroom

“…made my skin crawl…”
Timothy McGivney author of Zombielicious and Vampalicious

“Action sequences were well written, there was gore and violence in all the right places, and there are even some scenes that kind of pull on the heart strings...was nothing sort of brilliant.”
Top of the Heap Reviews

US: http://www.amazon.com/Daddys-Got-You-ebook/dp/B00G1R1BZY/
UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Daddys-Got-You-ebook/dp/B00G1R1BZY/

Other books by M. R. Gott on Amazon:

Friday, 25 October 2013

Guest Author Interview - Filipa Silva

In today's guest author interview I welcome Filipa Silva, you can find out what she has to say below:
 


Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
I'm a 34 years old Portuguese author and advertising creative, who dreams of becoming a full time writer one day. I'm also a eco warrior and a spoiling mother.

What first inspired you to start writing?
I started writing when I was 7 because I loved stories and wanted to create my own. I also loved writing school plays back then.

If you could recommend only one book to someone, what would it be and why?
Blindness by Portuguese Nobel Prize José Saramago. It's a beautiful and raw reflection about the real human nature.

What is the best piece of writing advice you have received?
Keep writing.

Where do you like to write?
Anywhere really! As long as I'm alone and have a power source around to plug my Mac. The alone parte is not easy with a toddler around the house, but I do what I can.

Are you a planner? Or do you prefer to dive straight into writing?
I plan a little, specially the main structure of the story and the characters. But most of the times my characters come to life and decide their own fate, despite all my plans...

Where do your best ideas come from?
From real life and from art (a song, a painting, a quote) - which ends up being an interpretation of real life too.

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on a few children books I've written some years ago.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
My latest book is called The Strange Year of Vanessa M. and it's about a woman who has a kind of depression and realizes she's been living her whole live according to other people's expectations. So she decides to turn her life around and, during one year, she struggles to find happiness. You can find out more at Amazon or any other virtual bookshop (B&N, Apple, KOBO, Smashwords) and it's available in both paperback and e-book.

Books by Filipa Silva in Amazon

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Guest Authors Revisted - Laura Susan Johnson

I first interviewed Laura Susan Johnson back in April (you can read the original interview here), I recently caught up with her to see what she's been up to since then, you can find out more below:
 


What has changed in your life since we last spoke?
We last talked in April I believe...In June I learned some scary stuff about my health, which made me more determined than ever to make sure my 2Nd book was finished and released as soon as possible. I don't have any solid diagnoses yet, but just the health scare motivated me in a good way :)

Have you learnt any new wisdom?
I have enjoyed the reviews I've gotten over the past year or so for Crush (my first book). Even one very negative review ended up being amusing rather than soul-crushing LOL I have learned that different people react to the same book or movie or whatever in different ways. I also learned that people have different opinions and levels of toleration for certain things. I can't watch certain paranormal/horror films without being triggered into panic attacks. Some people will have that same reaction to the child or animal abuse in Crush, so it might not be a good idea that every single person out there read it.
Have you become a better writer? If so, how?
I don't know if I've become a better writer as much as a better listener. It's pretty much a consensus about Crush being quite a long read, with lots of repetition and much content that is disturbing, controversial and sensitive. I knew when I began to write book #2 that I didn't want to write another "Crush". Crush is a very unpleasant book in many ways. I covered that ugliness and now I'm moving on to other things to talk about that I find important.

What are you working on at the moment?
I just published my 2nd novel "Bright" to Smashwords the other day and sent it in to my UK publisher as well. After a bit of a rest, I'm gonna write a couple of short stories and work on a compilation. My books will all be interconnected. Bright is a sequel of sorts to Crush because of character connections.

Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
Bright is a gay romance/erotica taking place in the state of Idaho. In 2008, 2 men meet under very extraordinary conditions. They end up falling in love and getting married. Some years later, they decide it's time to start a family, and one of their best friends agrees to help them. They end up facing a series of tragedies and discoveries that will test their marriage and friendships.

the official site to my new book Bright is:
http://bright-the-book.snack.ws

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Guest Author Interview - Loukia Borrell

In today's guest author interview I welcom Loukia Borrel, you can find out what she has to say below:

 


Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Loukia Borrell and I wrote "Raping Aphrodite," a novel set, in part, against a violent coup on Cyprus in 1974. My parents came to America in 1952, but a lot of our relatives were still living in Cyprus when the island was invaded. My maternal grandparents were killed and many other relatives became refugees. I was born in Toledo, Ohio, and was raised in Virginia Beach. I graduated from Elon University with a bachelor's degree in English and journalism. For about 20 years, I worked as a journalist at newspapers and magazines. I started working on my novel in 2009 and self-published it a couple of years later. I am married and have three children, ages 10 to 15.

What first inspired you to start writing?
I have always kept a diary and made pretty good grades in English classes when I was in school. By the time I got to college, I decided to major in English and journalism. I also was editor for my college newspaper. I spent about 20 years working as a journalist for newspapers and magazines. In 2009, I started writing "Raping Aphrodite," after helping my oldest daughter with an English assignment. She had to put a fictional character into a real world event, so she chose the 1974 invasion of Cyprus. I thought, you know, I should try this, and a year later I was finished. I spent another year rewriting and looking for a publishing house. When all that didn't work, I went ahead and self-published the ebook in late 2011 and the paperback in 2012.

What is the last book you read?
"Wedding Song," by Farideh Goldin. It is a memoir about growing up in a poor Jewish family in pre-Revolutionary Iran and how she fought her family for the chance to make a life for herself in the United States.

Where do you like to write?
I have a gold loveseat in my dining room. I like to sit there to read and write. I also have a green one in my bedroom. I'm usually on one or the other.

What is your favourite song lyric?
"When a problem comes along, you must whip it." - Devo. Of course, there are a lot of song lyrics I like, but that one seems to sum up how to handle challenges the best.

Which author do you most admire and why?
I really don't have a favorite author. I think it is fair to say I read a wide variety of books and admire many authors who have the courage to put their feelings, experiences and imagination into a book.

What advice would you give new and aspiring authors?
Never, never, never, ever, ever give up. On the worst days, when you have no sales and no one seems interested in your work, those are the times you have to put pen to paper. Just keep going. Most success is based on persistence.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am finished with the first draft of "Delicate Secrets," the prequel to my current book, "Raping Aphrodite." I will be releasing it on Amazon and NookPress in late 2014 for Kindle and Nook, and as a paperback in early 2015.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
"Raping Aphrodite" is my current book. It is really two story lines. The first involves a young married couple. They live in the United States and come across some artifacts from Cyprus. They own an art gallery and the idea comes up to exhibit the pieces. As they begin to research Cyprus, they begin to realize the woman, Tash Colgate, has ties to the island she didn't know about. Her husband figures out she has a hidden identity and has to figure out how to handle that situation, which threatens his marriage. The second story line involves a young American who has been taken hostage in Cyprus during the 1974 invasion and division of the island. She escapes and begins to walk to safety for the rest of the people in her group. At the end of the book, both story lines converge. You can see the book on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Raping-Aphrodite-ebook/dp/B0063W6KMG and at NookPress at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/raping-aphrodite-loukia-borrell/1107015445?ean=2940013213432

 Thanks for having me! Readers can find me on Goodreads and on Twitter @LoukiaBorrell.
You can also follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Raping-Aphrodite/198813510283786
I follow back!

Raping Aphrodite is available from Amazon

Book Impressions - SeeSaw Volume 2 by Rosen Trevithick

I recently read the first volume of Rosen Trevithick's collection of short stories and immediately started reading the latest collection. I wasn't dissapointed that I did, I enjoyed the first collection and while the format is very much the same the quality is higher than the previous book (which was a damn fine read in its own right).

The format follows a similar pattern to the first collection, there is a vareity of stories that predominantly feature relationships and mental health issues. On the face of it that might sound mundane, but the author's talent is to bring clarity and even some humour to these situations. They also do a great job of providing understanding of some of the mindset that people suffer, a good example of this was the text message story from a woman with OCD.

Two stories in particular stood out for me. The first was 'My Granny Writes Erotica', I'd read this as a standalone previously and it was just as funny reading through it again. This was comedy gold. The other was the opening story 'A Stormy Afternoon in Falmouth Harbour' which is a short drame that had my heart in my mouth for the duration.

The author's writing has developed since the first collection and this is readily apparent when reading, there is a greater level of polish here, but not so much that it loses the immediacy of the story. Overall this is an excellent collection of stories, well worth reading.


A short story collection by number 1 bestseller, Rosen Trevithick.

Will writing erotica save a grandmother from financial ruin? Where is Emma’s baby and why hasn’t he been returned to her? And will a boy be able to stop his little sister from being made into a gourmet girl burger?

Following Rosen’s acclaimed Seesaw collection, Volume II continues alternating between outrageous comedy and more sinister, psychological tales. At the core are two very different novellas – My Granny Writes Erotica and The Ice Marathon – alongside brand new short stories.

The preface will continue Rosen’s own story, inviting you to share in her rocky but exciting journey from long-term incapacity to professional author.


Seesaw Volume II is available from Amazon (and it's a cracking read)

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Film Review - Alice in Wonderland

This is probably my favourite Disney film, that's not to say that it's their best, but it's always a pleasure to watch this film. I'm a big fan of the book and the story in it's many guises over the years and while this is far from a faithful recreation of the story it is a magical film to watch.

For anyone who doesn't know the story, it is about Alice, a young girl who is bored by her studies and wishes herself into a land of nonsense, a wonderland. She follows a white rabbit into this strange place and the story is about her trying to catch the rabbit. Her adventures mean that she meets a range of unusual characters.

In some ways it lacks the quality of some of Disney's other big films, it has some weaker moments through the film, but the high points are pure gold. The tea party, painting the roses red and the walrus and the oysters all stand out as great moments, with some fun songs to go with them. It does mean that it can feel a little disconnected in places.

The whole film is filled with charm and does maintain some of the craziness of wonderland, although it does tone down some of the peril. Alice herself is interesting and well voiced as are the rest of the cast. A lovely film and one I'll continue to watch again and again.


Based on the 1865 book by Lewis Carroll, this is the classic Disney animated version of Alice's adventures as she follows a white rabbit into a 'Wonderland' of her own imagination. On her journey, she encounters the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and a host of other beloved characters brought to life with the usual Disney zest. Combining stellar animation with upbeat songs such as 'I'm Late', ALICE IN WONDERLAND garnered an Academy Award nomination for 'Best Scoring of a Musical Picture'.

Alice in Wonderland is available from Amazon

Guest Authors Revisited - Elizabeth Los


I first interviewed Elizabeth Los back in March (you can read her original interview here), I recently caught up with her to see what she's been up to since then, you can find out below:




What has changed in your life since we last spoke?
You wouldn't think much has changed, but my knowledge about this industry as increased exponentially. I had no clue what I was getting into and how much marketing was involving in the selling of an ebook. I was one of those writers that hoped once the book was published, I'd be able to leave it for readers to discover and focus on my writing. That certainly hasn't been the case! Oh, and I have a new URL for my blog: www.elizabethlos.com

Have you learnt any new wisdom?
I've learned a lot, but I think the most important thing I've come to discover is support. Support your fellow indie authors and, like Karma or the Golden Rule, it will come back to you. In some cases ten fold. We need to stick together. From doing so, I've learned so much about this industry that will help aid in my personal journey to publish my own novels.

Have you become a better writer? If so, how?
I've been told I have. I would say, absolutely! Not only am I polishing my novel, Second on the Right, but I'm also working to finish my fan fiction story and a few short stories. All of these help me stretch and work out my writer's muscle. Practice does make perfect, or nearly so. My sentence structure has greatly improved, I'm catching my frequently used words more, etc.

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm currently finishing up the polishing and editing of Second on the Right. I had published it in 2012, but discovered there were multiple errors. So I unpublished it, removed it from the market and started from the beginning. The story has changed so much since then that this new edition will be a far cry better from the first.

After that, I plan to move on to either my mystery novel or my thriller/suspense novel. I'm excited for both, so I may have to roll the dice to see which one I will start on.

Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
Second on the Right, set to release in 2014, is a twist on the classic Peter Pan story. I was prompted to write ‘Second on the Right’ because the first time I read Peter Pan and watched the Disney movie I felt Captain Hook needed more to his back story than was revealed. Fans around me cheered for Peter Pan. I thought it odd, considering this young boy had, prior to the start of the story, cut off Hook’s hand and fed it to the crocodile. That was no action of an innocent boy. My mind began to weave a story for Hook, one where he originally was the good guy, a family man. Following the events of his first encounter with Pan, perhaps he had changed not only physically but mentally as well. And that is where we see the captain when J.M. Barrie’s story begins.

Elizabeth has a new story featured in the latest Sanitarium magazine

Monday, 21 October 2013

Guest Author Interview - RJ Crayton

In today's guest author interview I welcome ninja mom RJ Crayton, author of 'Life First', you can find out what she has to say below:
 


Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
I call myself a ninja mom, I know how to hang drywall and I have a not-so-secret addiction to cupcakes. TMI, huh? OK. Let's start over. My name is RJ Crayton and I'm an American author, living just outside Washington, DC. The R stands for Rasheeda, if you're curious; and I tell no one what the J stands for because I don't have to. At present I write fiction and mom (yes, I'm using that as a verb). The fiction writing is actually very pleasant after dealing with the squabbles I referee as a mom. Prior to writing fiction, I was a journalist and worked for big publications like the Wichita Eagle and Kansas City Star and little publications like Solid Waste Report. If you ever run into me in person, I might tell you an American city with high levels of airborne mercury due to a checkered landfill incineration past (see, you thought working at a place called Solid Waste Report would be boring; so not true.)

What first inspired you to start writing?
I haven't a clue. I've always loved to write, ever since I was a child. I'm sure there was something that inspired it, but I'd be hard pressed to tell you.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
This was a tough question to answer, because a lot of people popped into my mind. Famous noteworthy people like John F. Kennedy, Mother Teresa, Malcolm X. But, in the end, one of the things I'm most curious about is the Egyptian pyramids. As such, I think I'd like to spend the day with an Egyptian monument architect. I'm curious how they built the pyramids and sphynxes and what inspired them to design everlasting monuments such as these. Now, hopefully, if this were to really happen, I'd get to spend the day with two people: the architect and a translator (as I know exactly NO Egyptian; not a single iota).

What was the last book you read?
Hmmm. I'm going to cheat a little. The actual last book I read was a whimsical romance that I enjoyed. The last book I read that I just loved I read right before the romance and I would recommend this book to everyone. It's called The Genius in All of Us by David Shenk. It is a completely stellar book that explains how our genes are not these definitive things that tell us who we are or are going to be. We thought evolution happened over a period of centuries, but genes are built to adapt quite easily and depending on your environment, the exact same set of genes can produce two completely different creatures (turtles with the exact same genes exposed to light/vs darkness in their early months turn out completely different colors). It's the most fascinating book, and it discusses the fact that our DNA is wrapped in another layer of cells that react to the environment and tell the DNA whether/when/ and how to turn on. Absolutely a must read. Please do. (And, no I am not related to Mr. Shenk. It was just an utterly fascinating book.)

Where is your happy place?
Roller skating. I love to rollerskate, and when I'm on wheels and rolling, I'm happy.

What is the best piece of writing advice you have received?
Gosh, that's tough, because nothing has ever stood out in my mind where I go, yeah, that's perfect. I've sort of taken in lots of pieces of advice and integrated them into my thought/writing process, without distilling out some wonderful great thing. But, to answer the question as best I can, I'll offer you two things. The best piece of writing advice is: Capture the reader's attention and hold it. However that's a very wishy washy piece of advice as it offers nothing practical. The best practical piece of advice I've received is regarding the old adage of "show don't tell," which I find to be a particularly useless piece of advice. Instead, an agent once told me: "Imagine the scene you're writing is a movie. Describe everything that you would see/hear on the screen, as well as the stuff you wouldn't: smells, tastes." That was helpful, applicable advice.

What is your favourite song lyric?
I love songs that are stories and even have a note to blog about story songs. Some of my favorite song stories are Rupert Holmes' Escape (also known as the Pina Coloada song), Norweigan Wood (by the Beatles) and A Boy Named Sue (written by Shel Silverstein). If you've never seen the lyrics to these songs, Google them. You'll be glad you did. My favorite song lyric, however, comes from the Oscar nominated song Rainbow Connection (my favorite version is the one performed by Jim Henson as Kermit the Frog): "Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices? I've heard them calling my name. Is this the sweet sound that called the young sailors. The voice might be one and the same. I've heard it too many times to ignore it. It's something that I'm supposed to be." I guess that's really more than "a lyric," but I tried pulling out one line and it loses its luster alone. As a writer, this section just totally speaks to me. Though, it probably speaks to all dreamers.

What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, I'm working on the sequels to my novel Life First as well as a young adult novel that I'm having a great deal of trouble coming up with a title for.

Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
My latest work is Life First, and you can buy it online at several retailers, including: Amazon USAmazon UK, Smashwords and the Apple Store.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

November Short Fiction Contest

Welcome to the latest monthly short fiction writing competition here on The Cult of Me. Every month I post a new picture and you can then write and submit a short story (with a maximum word count of 500 words). At the end of the month I will pick the winners and announce them on this blog.

The winner's stories will be available here (and promoted across KUF, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook and Stumbleupon and anywhere else I can) and you'll also have a link to your blog or website displayed alongside your story if you win.

Winning stories will also be compiled in a collection later in the year, proceeds from the sales of that collection will be used to help fund the prizes for this competition.

The winners will also receive an Amazon gift card:
  1. First Prize is a £50 gift card
  2. Second prize is a £20 gift card
  3. Third prize is a £10 gift card
Details on how you can enter are provided below and I'm looking forward to reading your entries!



This month's image is inspired by that great horror writer Edgar Alan Poe, that doesn't mean you have to write a horror story, although I imagine one would come naturally from this picture. Covids are apparently one of the smartest birds, so maybe there's a bit of fun to be had in that direction. Whatever angle you decide to take with your story I'm looking forward to reading what you come up with.

I'd like to thank everyone who entered October's short fiction contest, I'll reveal the winning stories next weekend.

Please make sure to check your story for typos before submitting. I don't mind a few errors, but my enjoyment of a story is diminished if I have to wade through too many.

I'll post the winning entries by December 1st 2013.

As with everything in life there are a few rules:
  1. Only one entry per person.
  2. The story must not be longer than 500 words.
  3. Closing date for submissions is November 23rd 2013.
  4. By submitting the story you grant me a non-exclusive license to use it. I'll only post the winning entries.
  5. You also grant me a one time non-exclusive license to include the story in an e-book release.
  6. The judges decision is final.
Use the form below to enter your submission. After you've submitted please leave a comment on this page stating that you have submitted. And please help spread the word. I'm working to make this a regular feature so I need readers for the stories as well as entrants.
As well as comments section below you can chat about this competion in any of the threads I've listed below. If you don't know the sites then entering the competition is a good way to introduce yourself. Note that these sites are not affiliated with the competition in any way!

KUF: http://www.kuforum.co.uk/kindleusersforum/thread-13760.html

Goodreads (UK Amazon kindle Forum group): http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/977021-michael-brookes-horror-science-fiction

Kboards: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,152168.0.html

If you've started you're own thread or discussion somewhere about this month's competition then let me know and I'll add the link to this page.

Blog Tour Stop - In the Beginning by Abby L. Vandiver

As part of her blog tour supporting the recent release of 'In the Beginning' I have interviewed Abby L. Vandiver, find out what she has to say as well as details of her new book below:


In the Beginning
An Amazon #1 Best Seller

Not fast paced or action packed, In the Beginning is thought provoking and a page turner. Set in 1997, it follows Biblical Archaeologist Justin Dickerson, who is unhappy with her life in general and has decided to run away from her problems. Intervening, her mentor asks that she go with him to the Fifty Year Jubilee commemorating the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Jerusalem. There she finds that in 1949 Jerusalem some of the 2,000 year old manuscripts, hidden in clay pots in the caves of Qumran, may have been destroyed.

Justin, obsessed with this revelation, is determined to get to the bottom of the deceit. Uncontrollable emotion takes hold of her, and family and faith help guide her as she unfolds the truth of Earth's ancient mysteries discovering what really happened In the Beginning …


In the Beginning is available from Amazon

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Abby L. Vandiver and I am a writer. I write and promote my book full time. I used to practice law and was a professor of Economics. But that was in my former life.

What first inspired you to start writing?
It is just something I like to do. I never aspired to be a writer, it just kind of fell in my lap. I found that I was good at writing, and always had been good at storytelling. So, it was a natural path for me to follow.

Your book 'In the Beginning' is a religious themed thriller, what made you write that particular story?
Actually, I don’t think that it’s not a religious themed thriller, many people do say that it is, however. In the book, the main character, Justin Dickerson is a Biblical archaeologists and she is a Christian. But as Justin tells her brother, Greg in the book, “It’s not about God, Greg. It’s about science.” That’s why I’ve picked mystery and sci-fi as the categories. But, I do think that people that read Christian fiction will enjoy the book as well.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
I think that would be Albert Einstein. He did poorly in math in high school and then became a Nobel Laureate in a category that relied heavily on math. I would love to hear what he had to say on just about any subject.

What is it about your stories that makes them stand out against the competition?
I think that the premise in my book is unique. I challenge anyone to show me another book or movie that has the same idea. And, I think because I mix fact with fiction, giving plausible reasons for ancient mysteries that readers are familiar with, it provokes thought in the reader long after they’ve finished the book.

What is your favourite song lyric?
Oh, I have many, but what comes to mind now are the words to This Old of Mine by the Isley Brothers.

What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was The Eleventh Hour: The Enlightened Ones Book I by Kathryn Dionne. It was an Amazon #1 Best Seller as well. It is a very interesting read, and as part of a trilogy, I am looking forward to reading the next two books.

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on the sequel to In the Beginning. It’s called The Westbury End Book Club and will be a suspense/thriller. I’m very excited about it as it follows Justin and she uncovers the lost knowledge of our ancestors. Check out my website, www.abbylvandiver.com under the Books & Biography tab to learn more.

In the Beginning is available from Amazon

Book Impressions - Seesaw by Rosen Trevithick

I've read a few stories from this author and as I've recently picked up her latest collection I thought it best to read the first collection before reading the new one. I've heard it said that an author's first work is to a varying extent autobiographical. I don't know if that's the case here, but some of the stories do have that feel to them. That isn't a critisism by any means, although compared to her later writing some of these stories do have a raw feel to them. In some ways that has more impact on the reader than the technical ability to string words together in a pleasing fashion.

The previous work of hers that I've read have been comedies, in this collection there is still a lot of humour, but in a less overt manner. It is a situation, almost self deprecating humour that pervades through the stories. Although there is a great deal of humour this isn't a work of comedy, many of the stories take you to various dark places in your mind.

In both situations the author excels, her writing is immediate and you feel what the charcters feel. There's some lovely twists along the way and each story brings something new to the collection.

As I've already mentioned this isn't a slick as her later work that I've read and I enjoy that with reading. It's fascinating to see how an author's skill develops over time and through tackling new subjects. I don't mention this as a critisism, more as a warning to those who (like me) have only read the more recent books. The same Rosen Trevithick trademark is still there in spades, but it's not as accomplished as the more recent writing. Don't let that put you off though, this is an engaging and emotive collection of stories, so much so that I've immediately started the new collection.

 
Short stories by number 1 bestseller, Rosen Trevithick. So called because of its alternation between laugh out loud comedy and more sinister, psychological tales, "Seesaw" showcases some of Rosen's most loved shorts, alongside some previously unpublished bite-sized tales. "Captivated my attention from the start and I could not put it down." - Rachel Dove, The Kindle Book Review ("The Other Daughter"). "It is that famous sarcastic, British wit that I could eat all day." - N. Blackburn ("London, the Doggy and Me"). "A poignant and thought-provoking book." - A. Coburn ("The Selfish Act"). "A deeply moving and emotional read." - D. Jones ("The Other Daughter"). "Yet again this author manages to hit the jackpot in this most entertaining read." - A. Coburn ("London, the Doggy and Me"). "A very short story which made a very big impact." - A. Coburn ("The Other Daughter"). "Oh my goodness, what a laugh!" - J. Allison ("Lipstick and Knickers"). "Laugh out loud humour, amazing descriptions and loveable characters." - S. Hitchens ("London, the Doggy and Me"). "I wish I could give this more than 5 stars. Again, Trevithick has shown herself as a master of the short story." - N. Blackburn ("The Selfish Act").
Seesaw is available from Amazon (and is a very good read)

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Film Review - Berberian Sound Studio

This is a strange film and a pretty decent horror to boot. An English sound engineer travels to Italy to work on a disturbing horror movie. He doesn't  realise it's a horror film he's working on until he gets there and finds himself being drawn into the violence that he's recreating.

The film is well paced with a gradual ramping up of tension and towards the end it gets gets very strange. As well as being an entertaining story it's also an interesting watch. His job is to recreate the sounds of various nasty scenes, the techniques he uses to achieve these make for an interesting watch in themselves.

Another aspect I enjoyed was the lack of shock or visual horror, apart from a few glimpses it's all in the audio and not in a surprise fashion, in places it is downright creepy, which always get's my vote! In summary this is a decent horror watch, and something a little different from the usual tropes.


United Kingdom released, Blu-Ray/Region B DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( Dolby DTS-HD Master Audio ), WIDESCREEN (1.78:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast/Crew Interview(s), Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Documentary, Interactive Menu, Making Of, Photo Gallery, Scene Access, Short Film, Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: 1976: A timid sound engineer from rural Surrey arrives in Italy to work on a mysterious horror film, mixing bloodcurdling screams with the grotesque sounds of hacked vegetables. But as the onscreen violence seeps into his consciousness reality and fantasy become blurred and the nightmare starts to awake. Daringly original and masterfully constructed, this inspired homage to 70s Giallo horror is a devastating assault on the eyes, ears and brain, already being compared to the films of Ingmar Bergman and David Lynch. SCREENED/AWARDED AT: British Independent Film Awards, ...Berberian Sound Studio (2012) ( Studio ihografiseon Berberian ) (Blu-Ray)

Film Review - Samsara

This is quite simply a stunning watch. It doesn't tell a story in the conventional sense, but it does have a narrative that runs unspoken through the film. In essence it is a collection of clips filmed across the world, it is edited to form a sequence covering aspects of life from a myriad of cultures. There's no speech it's all silent with a superb soundtrack, again reflecting the multicultural vision of the film.

The visuals are amazing, it has to be watched in high definition. The glimpses of lives all over the world make this a fascinating watch. Some of it is uplifting, at other times cruel and disturbing, but it is always interesting.

The soundtrack is also worth mentioning containing a variety of songs that match the visuals perfectly. This is an awe inspiring film, the two hours just passed by without notice.

You may have guessed that I really enjoyed watching this and I won't apologise if I sound like I'm gushing and I can't recommend this enough.

Hollywood Reporter calls it 'Soul-stirring' Independent on Sunday says 'A fascinating, clever and thought-provoking statement on the world we live in.' Flickfeast gives it 5 stars and says 'Phenomenal. A life affirming cinematic experience. A spiritual awakening in 70mm!' Samsara takes the form of a non-verbal, guided meditation that will transform viewers in countries around the world, as they are swept along a journey of the soul. Through powerful images prisitinely photographed in 70mm and a dynamic music score, the film illustrates the links between humanity and the rest of nature, showing how our life cycle mirrors the rhythm of the planet.

Samsara is available from Amazon (and is a wonderful watch)

Watch Dog by Jon Jefferson

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Jon Jefferson won the third place prize in September's short fiction contest with his story 'Watch Dog'. You can read the story in full below and I'm sure you'll agree that it is a fine read.

The first and second prize stories were also damn fine reads and if you haven't read them yet you can do so here:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/september-short-fiction-contest-winners.html

October's short fiction contest is almost at an end, you only have a day left to enter, go to this link if you'd like to take part:

http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/october-short-fiction-contest.html

I'll post a new competition for November tomorrow, in the meantime if you're looking for more quality short and flash fiction why not join my Facebook group:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/shortfictionreadersandwriters/

And now let's enjoy Jon's story:

Watch Dog by Jon Jefferson

It was never a good idea to go in through a public jack. In a perfect world Simon would have a place with untraceable lines set up so he wouldn't have to do it this way. This wasn't a perfect world and Shelly was paying him to get it done now.

He pulled back the cover on the underside of his arm. The line popped out and connected to the input on its own. He plugged his deck into the bottom connection and pulled up the home screen. The world around him digitized as he adjusted his ready programs for the hack.

Breaking through the security apps at the cafe were not an issue. They were low grade watchdogs, he didn't need any black ice for them. He sent them chasing their digital tails.

Once you left the confines of the jack-in, the getting around the world was much easier than the average user could know. This was the playground of the hackers.

He grabbed onto a data stream and whisked away to the data base he would need. At least the cafe was near the Brankot Building. They rode on the same data streams. He only needed to hit a repository within the first level of encryption.

He was deep inside the data streams, time worked differently for him than it did for the outside world. It felt like forever for him to find the location he needed. While in the outside world only seconds had passed.

He was digging into the low level stuff so at most he would need a few watch dog apps to take out the locks. No problem really, his kid sister could have done this in her sleep.

As he was working through the third lock, something felt off. If he hadn't been digitized he would have sworn the little hairs on the back of his neck would have gone goose pimply.

The lock melted away. It wasn't his app. The thing melted from the inside out. A black dog chomped through the last of the lock. The thing was still hungry.

You couldn't send these doggies out chasing their tails. This was going to take a bit more work. He pulled up a shielding and fast attack app. He was ready for hand to mutt attack action.

It leapt at him, biting through the bottom of his shield. He struck out as well, taking a chunk out of its shoulder. His shield wasn't going to be much more than extra for the doggie to chew on.

He stepped back, a plan forming. The cyber dog lunged again. This time he was ready. He slammed his shield into the gaping maw forcing it open. He released the shielding into the attack app, then struck underneath the maw and shield into the throat of the problem.

His attack burned it out. The attack app winked out as he went back to the data base to pull up the information he needed.

My Books on Goodreads