Meet The Author Monday – Claire Buss

This week on Meet the Author Monday, we have Claire Buss, whose dystopian debut, “The Gaia Effect” was launched in December of 2016. As usual, we will put my comments/questions in BLUE and Claire will be in GREEN.

gaiaeffect

Thanks for stopping in to chat with me today, Claire. Congratulations on your first novel. I wish you all the best with it. I understand you are a voracious reader. When did that love affair start for you?
I can’t remember not ever being a reader. It’s not something anyone in my family really does but I think being an only child until my late teens meant that I found adventure and friends in books. I devoured all the usual childhood classics especially things like the Famous Five, Secret Seven, Swallows & Amazons. I tore through the Redwall series by Brian Jacques and with my library card clutched in hand began to explore the sci fi and fantasy section of my library starting off with writers like Greg Bear & Piers Anthony. I had read classics like Dickens, Thackery & Shakespeare before I started secondary school and my English Lit teacher used to let me read my own books within the open set book as he knew that a) I’d already read it and b) I could answer intelligently about it. I still read as much as I possibly can, I’m a member of a real life and online bookclub as well as being a very healthy Goodreads member. I review everything I’ve read and I’m shooting for a goal of 100 books this year. So far I’ve clocked 12. I’m currently reading From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming, Lock In by John Scalzi, Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie, Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett, Burmese Days by George Orwell, Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe and LOTR by Tolkein with my little boy at bedtime. I love reading new stories, experiencing twists, happy moments, loss, meeting new characters, gasping out loud at events and I even like it when a book makes me cry my eyes out. You could say they are a passion of mine.

Very eclectic To Be Read pile there. What genre excites you the most?
Favourite genre to read is Sci Fi & Fantasy especially as that has such a huge umbrella and is spilling over into contemporary fiction which is fantastic. I also quite like a historical novel from time to time but I will read anything.

A kindred spirit. When I saw the description of your debut novel I had a feeling we had a lot in common. What brought you across the line from avid reader to writer?
I wrote a lot as a child, even ripping off LOTR as I’m sure many fantasy writers have. Then life got in the way and I stopped. In 2014 I walked past my library and noticed a poster about a writing workshop they were holding, I tried to get a place but it was full. Then about a week later I got an email saying I had a place at a second, overspill event due to the popularity of the course. One of the things the library was using the course for was to promote a writing competition called Pen to Print. I entered in 2015 and came second with my novel The Gaia Effect and part of the prize was to have your book published by New Generation Publishing. That happened in December 2016 and now I am currently editing a second book. Writing makes me happy and frustrates me and scares me but I love it.

I think you are right, fantasy authors all owe so much to Tolkein. He was a master of world creation. What an amazing way to get started with that workshop turning into a publishing contract. Dystopian is a popular sub-genre right now, is this something you are sticking with? Do you see yourself branching out?
Not yet – my first book is dystopian, post apocalyptic and sort of sci-fi ish but only because it’s set 200 yrs in the future with some advanced technologies. My second book, The Rose Thief, is humourous fantasy. I have also started working on a book about my book club and a short story collection called Tales from Suburbia. I’m currently flexing my creative muscles and dabbling at will.

So, we know you got your start with the contest at your local library, but tell us about your journey and where you are headed.
My novel The Gaia Effect is self published via New Generation Publishing. The Rose Thief will probably be e-booked using KDP I expect although I will go through the literary agent hoopla because you never know right? I did have some very positive no thank-yous for TGE. I blog regularly and have done for about five years and I’ve just started branching out into playwriting – just short ten minute plays atm but I am working on a one-act play currently.

Quite the repertoire of talents you are cultivating. When you aren’t pursuing your many projects, what do you do?
I am a stay-at-home mum looking after my hubby who is a policeman, our little boy (3.5) and step-kids at the weekend. My hobbies include reading, baking, occasionally running when the baking gets too much, watching sci fi/fantasy TV shows & movies, and crosstitching.

Sounds like you have enough to keep you busy even without writing. I do want to take a moment to ask you to pass along my thanks to your husband for his service as a police officer. I am a big supporter of those who dedicate their lives to keeping us safe. I know you had another story you wanted to share with my readers, so I will let you get to it.
I got really scared when my first 10-min play got recorded and added to YouTube because I based the characters on people I knew. I suddenly thought what if they notice, come after me and lynch me??? Then I realised that I am the only person who knows who my characters are based on and provided I don’t do a like-for-like comparison no-one will ever be the wiser. So now I get to kill off anyone I don’t like – brilliant! But seriously, as a writer I can only base my stories around things I either know about or can imagine and that will always be based on and affected by the people in my life and their adventures so I’ll never be stuck for an idea.

That is one of the greatest perks of being a writer, getting to exact revenge on anyone through fiction. Probably safer and easier than any of the alternatives. Thank you again for stopping by Claire. If anyone wants to get more information on Claire and her varied projects, which I highly recommend, you can find her at the following links.

Website
Facebook
Twitter @grasshopper2407
Goodreads

And if any authors out there reading this want to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, You can CLICK HERE for more information.

Advertisements

Meet The Author Monday – Tracee de Hahn

Today on Meet The Author Monday, we have Tracee de Hahn, who launched the first of her Agnes Luthi Mysteries books, Swiss Vendetta,  on February 7th, 2017. As usual, we will put my comments/questions in BLUE and Tracee will be in GREEN.
Swiss Vendetta cover final  copy.jpg
Thanks for stopping by Tracee. I hope your book launch is going well. I understand your love affair with reading has an interesting start.
My mother taught me to read at a very early age (probably because I rolled off a changing table and she started the flash cards to counter the imagined brain damage!). I truly can’t remember not being able to read…. from the time I was in pre-school I had my nose in a book.

Watch for ink on the nose that way. What genre usually pulls you in?
Mystery first (expand it to suspense….). Then historical fiction. Third would probably be some of the classics (Jane Austin, Tolstoy)

Mother got you reading, but I understand it was your father who inspired you to write?
My father had the idea for a screen play and since I loved to read he asked me about it. We taught ourselves and moved on to write a few thrillers together. I was practicing architecture and my father is a physician so we had to learn together. It was a lot of fun. I kept writing and shifted to mystery – as my first love!

I suppose it is pretty easy to guess your chosen genre to write then, isn’t it?
Mysteries!

I had guessed that would be your answer. Ho was your journey from idea to publishing that first mystery?
I had a friend read a manuscript and insist I had to submit it. I realized she wouldn’t let it go, so I went to the Alkongian Writers Conference in NY – the pitch fest. That was a wonderful in to the world of writers and publishing. I met my agent there (Paula Munier of Talcott Notch) and very quickly I signed with St Martins/Minotaur for a two book deal. I’ve found that conferences are an amazing way to meet fellow writers and also learn about the profession.

Congratulations again on the signing. That’s amazing. Aside from writing, tell my readers a little bit about your personal life? Do you have a day job, and what other hobbies do you pursue?
Writing is my day job right now (lucky me!). I have too many hobbies – painting (portraits are my favorite but that doesn’t mean I’m any good. Dogs are better than people in terms of results….), travel (Europe and India right now), cooking (I’m a follow the recipes person mainly! My husband is the truly creative cook).
My husband is Swiss, and living there for several years is the inspiration for my book. Lastly we have two Jack Russell Terriers, and one Flemish Giant Rabbit (that came with the house)!

Painting and writing, quite the creative. Suppose you had to leave something for your husband to be the experimental one with, huh? It’s been a pleasure getting to know you Tracee and I wish you continued success with your books. Maybe stop back by when book two is ready for publication and we can update everyone.

For those looking for more information or to follow up on Tracee’s work, you can find her at the following links.

Website
Twitter: @LuthiMysteries
Instagram
Pinterest

 

And if any authors out there reading this want to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, You can CLICK HERE for more information.

Meet The Author Monday – Kevin McAllion

Today on Meet The Author Monday, we have Kevin McAllion, a Scotsman whose first novel, Moristoun, was released in March of 2016. As usual, we will put my comments/questions in BLUE and Kevin will be in GREEN.

kevinmcallion

Thanks for stopping by today, Kevin. I always like to get started hearing what brought an author into the literary world as a reader first, as that is how many of us got our start.
I was obsessed by football as a kid and only read magazines such as 90 minutes and Four-Four-Two but I started off in fiction with a selection of Woody Allen short stories and was hooked. The first writer I really loved was Roddy Doyle and I rattled through his Barrytown trilogy in a matter of weeks. The most famous of these books is The Commitments but my favourite was The Snapper as the main character was Jimmy Senior and he always had the funniest lines. Since then, I’ve been reading more stuff from foreign writers, thanks to my brother who introduced me to the likes of Gunter Grass, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Milan Kundera. The great thing about these authors is that you learn about other countries and cultures as well as immersing yourself in a great story.

That’s one of the greatest things about the digital age is being able to “travel” to these other lands so much easier. What genre sparks your interest the most?
I really enjoy books that marry a fascinating story with politics, especially those that shine a light on oppressive regimes. My favourite is The Case of Comrade Tulayev by Victor Serge which captures the horror and paranoia of the Soviet Union during Stalin’s great purge. The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa also gives great insight into a despot from South America, as does the brilliant Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Great books should always make you question the world we live in and these ones, while painful to read in parts, do just that.

I think you have certainly given us all some books to think about adding to our To-Read piles. From prolific reader to writer, what spawned this jump for you?
The turning point for me was buying a book from a charity shop that was a compilation of work from contemporary Scottish writers. As I read through each story, I thought: ‘If they can do it, why not me?’ It made me realise that you could write about Scottish issues and people and still make it entertaining. There was also a part of me that secretly thought: ‘I could do better than that’ as I read some of the stories and that gave me the extra push I needed.

A little healthy competitive streak never hurts for motivation. Do you consider yourself a writer of a specific genre? Or do you dabble in several?
I try to write in a comedic style, mainly just to amuse myself first and foremost. I’ve only written one book so far and if I don’t follow it up with another I’ll be forever pigeon-holed as a writer of black comedies.

They say laughter is the best medicine, even if it is dark humor. Share with my readers a little about your journey as a writer and publishing your first novel.
I’ve worked as a sports journalist since I was 19, when I started writing football match reports while studying at university. Since then, I’ve worked for a number of newspapers in Scotland. I currently work as a production journalist, editing, designing and reading pages. After dabbling with several attempted novels and bits of poetry, I came up with the idea for Moristoun in 2012. It took me nine months to finish the first draft, motivated by the desire to get it finished before my daughter was born, then another year to edit the manuscript. I contacted a few agents to see if they would be interested in it but one of them actually turned out to be a publisher, Austin Macauley. They liked the first three chapters, asked me to send the full manuscript then offered me a deal after reading that.
kevinmcallion-moristoun
A dream come true then to find a publisher to pick you up. From the picture it’s clear you have a little one in the house. They can be a handful. When you aren’t working on that second comedic book, what passions do you enjoy?
I work full time as a journalist and have a daughter who is four years old so free time is very much of the premium. Despite losing most of my pace, I still run about every week masquerading as a footballer and occasional embarrass myself on a tennis court. Music and reading are my other passions, something I can thankfully enjoy in tandem.

Sounds like you have a busy schedule to keep, Kevin. I understand that you have another project that you work on that is a bit entertaining. Tell me about it.
I run the world’s only spoof online monkey park, rhesuspark.com. What started off as a made-up newsletter and pamphlet for a desktop publishing exercise in 1999 has now spawned into a monster of a website that continues to grow arms and legs. My made-up nonsense often convinces gullible people on Twitter that there is actually a dysfunctional monkey park operating in the heart of leafy Shropshire. If you fancy making the acquaintance of Rhesus Park CEO David Alsatian you can follow him on Twitter @rhesuspark

A fake Monkey Park. Sounds worth a look. I want to thank you again for stopping by and chatting with me. Good luck with your projects and don’t let those monkeys drive you bananas.

If anyone would like to check out Kevin’s projects and keep up to date with his monkey business, you can find him at the below links.

Website
Facebook Page
Twitter @Moristoun

And if any authors out there reading this want to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, You can CLICK HERE for more information.

Launching Cloaked Press

Today, my Gentle Readers, I began the process to launch my own publishing company, Cloaked Press. You can see my Kickstarter project by Clicking Here

My goal with Cloaked Press is to publish two short story collections a year by collaborating with other authors. The Fall edition will be focused on Fantasy. Be it Epic or Urban, High or Paranormal; I love them all. For the Sprung Edition the focus is on Science Fiction: AI, space exploration, aliens, and technological warfare in cyberspace. 

My goal is ambitious but completely doable with your help. Share the link, tell your friends, and if you are so inclined, pledge a donation to the project. 

Thank you so much for all your support of my blog and I hope to bring you even more great stories and content in the future. 

Meet The Author Mondays – K. C. Blackbyrn

This week on Meet the Author Monday, we have self published Fantasy author, K. C. Blackbyrn, who released her first book, “Stirring Power“, late last year with the paperback going live early this year. As usual, we will put my comments/questions in BLUE and KC will be in GREEN.

StirringPower.jpg
KC, thank you for stopping by to visit with us today. Exciting times for you with the launch of your first book. What brought you to the literary world?
I was dedicated to the outdoors as a child, but then my mother sat me down and gave me a book to read. It was a fantasy book (I believe, as I was too young to remember properly). Ever since then, I read so much that I had glasses by age nine and the local library felt like my personal lounge. I’ve been reading libraries ever since (until I became a writer, that is).

Reading libraries huh? Never seems to be enough time for reading in my opinion. What’s your favorite genre?
Fantasy with a little romance mixed in has always been the genre that gets my brain gears going. Lately though, I bounce between fact, romance, and fantasy.

Fantasy is my favorite as well. I don’t mind a little mushy stuff. Haha. Is there a specific event that brought you across from reading the stories of others to writing your own?
I had been an avid reader for a few years at this point. I fell into a slump where I couldn’t find any books that interested me right away. I began to search the library lists and my search keywords became more and more elaborate until finally I decided I would write down on a word document what I really wanted to see in a story. That became a story itself.

That’s a good way to get started. Stirring Power is clearly a fantasy novel. Is this your passion or are their other works stirring around in your head?
I consider myself a fantasy novelist right at this moment because at this moment I’m devoting 100% of myself to fantasy stories. However, in the future there are some novels I would like to write that are in the romance and the thriller genres.

With your first book launched, what can you tell us about your journey to the world of being a published author?
I’m still a fledgling author so I believe my journey thus far is similar to most beginning self-publishers. Once my story was finished I tried to teach myself to market my book to agents. Having failed a few times I did some research and realized that self-publishing would allow for more freedom and so decided that was the path I wanted instead.

Self publishing does seem to be the wave of the future. The big publishing houses don’t seem to want anything but the same old big names. What interests do you have outside of reading and writing?
When not writing, I have a passion for martial arts. I currently practice Kung Fu, but have a previous black belt in Karate. Other than that, I have many “smaller” hobbies like crochet and taking walks, but my day job takes up a lot of my time so I usually have to put those smaller activities aside.

It’s always good to have a balance. I have heard that martial arts teach a lot about self discipline and perseverance, both traits handy for an author. Did you have anything funny you wanted to share with my readers before you go?
Something you might not know about me is that I have a horrible sense of direction. I’ve lived in the Seattle city for five years and I still need to look up directions to get where I’m going.

Thankfully in this digital age we have a map and gps system readily available on about any modern phone. Good luck with your book launch. It looks like one I will have to add to my ever growing To Be Read pile.

For anyone looking to find out more about KC and keep tabs on her progress with Book 2 in her series, you can locate her at the following links.

Website
Facebook Page
Twitter

And if any authors out there reading this want to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, You can CLICK HERE for more information.

Book Review – Honeymoon At The Hilton by Stephen B. Cooper

Honeymoon At The Hilton

Stephen B. Cooper

3 Stars

Before I get started on my review, I have to mention the obligatory Mature Content Warning on this one.

I was hesitant when Stephen approached me about reviewing his book, “Honeymoon at the Hilton”. I thought to myself, “What in the world is erotic espionage?” I worried there would be no story under the steamy and detailed sex scenes.

My worries were put to rest early on as Stephen delivers a story outside of the erotic aspects of the book. Personally, I felt the story stood just fine without all of the sex scenes. I was reminded of the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie movie, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, in some ways.

Mark and Pyah Fischer are private security agents trying to enjoy their honeymoon when everything goes wrong.  An attempt on their lives sends them on a chase where they don’t know where the next attack will come from.

Soon they are on a globe trotting mission to track down their attempted assassin and retrieve a special briefcase. Along the way they manage to get into an assortment of lewd and lascivious adventures.

Underneath this, in my opinion unnecessary and sometimes overdone filler, is a decent story that will keep you turning the page. The non sexual action scenes are well done with dialogue that will make you chuckle at least once. I did find the British slang/phrasing coming from an American “Yankee” a little off putting at times.

Overall, I enjoyed the book despite it being a departure from my usual genres. If you like a chunk of erotica mixed with action, humor, and a bit of sass, grab “Honeymoon at the Hilton ” today.

“Honeymoon At The Hilton” on Amazon