20 July 2017

Guest Post by Dylan Callens, author of Interpretation


Available for pre-order on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Interpretation is a dystopian fiction that explores hope and happiness in the bleakest of conditions and what happens when it’s torn away.

Dreams.  We all have them but we don’t really know what they are. Scientifically speaking, the explanation is pretty lame.  According to WebMD, “Dreams are basically stories and images our mind creates while we sleep. Dreams can occur anytime during sleep. But most vivid dreams occur during deep, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, when the brain is most active. Some experts say we dream at least four to six times per night.”

That’s great and all.  But it doesn’t help us to understand our dreams. Many people put great stock in their dreams, believing them to be linked to daily events or some hidden truth about life.  But maybe they mean nothing at all.

According to an article in Time (Why Dreams Mean Less Than We Think, 2009), countless experiments have been conducted that link the way we feel to external data.  We make dumb choices based on things that we see all the time.  For example, in one study, people were asked to guess at how many African nations were members of the UN.  The researcher then spun a wheel of fortune which landed on a random number between zero and one hundred.  Respondents typically picked a number that was close to whatever number was on the wheel, even though it was obviously not tied to the question.  This suggests that what we see may have an impact on what we think, especially when we are not conscious of the association.

Even if that is the case, wouldn’t our dreams still mean something?  The external data that we see every day, the stuff that we are not even aware of, helps shape who we are.  It’s also not clear if the waking mind and sleeping mind necessarily processes that information the same way.

In my novel, Interpretation, there is some examination about dreams and what they could mean.  In one part, an artificial intelligence examines Carl Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections in search of creating its own plan for a dreaming humanity.  In his book, Jung says, “…In addition, I discussed her dreams with her. In this way I succeeded in uncovering her past, which the anamnesis had not clarified. I obtained information directly from the unconscious…”

According to Jung, he was able to interpret this patient’s dream and uncover details about her past that otherwise weren’t known to the patient.  Can this actually be done?  Do our dreams reveal secrets that we’ve hidden away in our subconscious?

In another part, Jung says, “…dreams with collective contents, containing a great deal of symbolic material...”  The collective contents in this case are those things which are common to mankind as a whole.  Although it’s not entirely clear what things these are, Jung believes that we inherited these ideas from our early origins and are hardwired into our brain.  While we might not be aware of what these things are in our day to day lives, these ideas exist at an unconscious level.

“…These dreams show that there is something in us which does not merely submit passively to the influence of the unconscious, but on the contrary rushes eagerly to meet it, identifying itself with the shadow…”  In Jungian psychology, the shadow is the stuff about ourselves of which we are not necessarily aware.  Jung wrote, "Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is."  While these are typically things that are negative and we don’t want to admit to ourselves, it is possible that we are not aware of our positive attributes.  For example, people with low self-esteem may not be able to identify what they are good at.  Dreams, then, are a way for us to see what is in that shadow.  Dreams let us reconcile some of the traits that we are unaware of, yet are heavily influenced by.

Whether you see dreams as revealing more about yourself, entertainment, or a waste of sleep, is obviously up to you.  I just enjoy incorporating them into writing.  In writing, they present an opportunity to let the imagination run wild and have fun.

Dylan Callens
# # #

About the Author

Dylan Callens lands cleanly. That would be the headline of a newspaper built with an anagram generator. And although Dylan is a Welsh name meaning god or hero of the sea, he is not particularly fond of large bodies of water. His last name, Callens, might be Gaelic. If it is, his last name means rock. Rocks sink in the sea. Interestingly, he is neither Welsh nor Gaelic, but rather, French and German. The inherent contradictions and internal conflict in his life are obvious. Find out more at Dylan''s website www.cosmicteapot.net and find him on Facebook and Twitter @TheNitzsch.

19 July 2017

Echoes – a journey: Guest Post by P.J Roscoe


Echoes is due for release July/August 2017
and is available for pre-order from
https://squareup.com/store/doce-blant-publishing/item/echoes
and will be available through www.doceblantpublishing.com,
B&N, Gardner’s, Ingrams and Amazon. 
A signed copy is also available through www.pjroscoe.co.uk

‘Echoes’ the award-winning novel due for re-release this summer has had one hell of a journey since I first began to write it twenty years ago. It began as ‘Ruined Echoes’ a short story of a woman as she travelled through time and how she survived as a 21st century woman in medieval Britain – been done to death, so changed it and changed it again to become, ‘Echoes’, a paranormal historical thriller moving between present day and the Tudor period when Henry Tudor won the battle of Bosworth. Bronwen Mortimer moves to the secluded village of Derwen to escape her past, but when she witnesses murder and becomes a serial rapist’s next target, she must face her past to have any chance of living in the present as the echoes of history move through time.

Echoes first began in June 1997 following the sudden death of our unborn son, Jac, my husband had to return to work and I was left alone, pondering how I was going to get through the rest of my life. I remember vividly, sitting at my kitchen table, a mug of coffee going cold beside me and a pencil in my hand as I stared into space, tears flowing down my cheeks. At some point, I began doodling on an old A4 scrap of paper and an image came into my head. With the image, came words and within an hour or so, a short story had emerged. The next day, when I realised I had survived a day without my son, I ran out and bought a new pad of A4 paper and began expanding the story. Within eight weeks I had a novel and was pregnant again.

With my pregnancy came a new surge of writing. I wrote short stories for magazines, historical articles for a Welsh magazine, ‘Country Quest’, but Echoes remained untouched for years, as my new daughter had special needs and needed my full attention. Many years later, I started an online writing course and was asked about a novel, Echoes resurfaced and worked on and my tutor encouraged me to send the first three chapters off to agents. Rejections were forthcoming, yet my enthusiasm did not wane and I persisted. Working on it, expanding it, changing it, all the time knowing it had to be read.
By 2008 I self-published on LULU, yet I was so self conscious,

I held a book launch, without any books!! I figured if they liked the copy I had, they would order it online – 13 people did. By 2012 I re-did Echoes and launched it on Amazon and held a proper book launch at a local theatre. 24 people came. That year ‘Echoes received an Honourable mention in the new England book festival. In 2013 it won the e-book category in the Paris book festival and in 2014 it was awarded an Honourable Mention in the London book festival and received five stars from Reader’s Favourite.

By this time I was ecstatic and trusted a publisher with my novel. Alas, she was a fraud. However, it got me in touch with another author who had begun her own publishing company, Doce Blant publishing and through her, I have had support and brilliant editing, a book cover and Echoes is at its full potential for the world.

And so, although Echoes was born of sorrow, it taught me strength, resilience and courage to see my own true path is to write.

Thank you

P.J Roscoe
# # #

About the Author

P.J Roscoe lives in Wales with her husband Martin and daughter Megan. Starting out as an author of several historical articles published in 'Country Quest' a Wales & Border magazine, she moved onto writing short faerie stories for her daughter whilst penning Echoes following the death of her son at birth. She worked for Cruse Bereavement care as a trainer and volunteer whilst qualifying as a person-centered counsellor. She is a holistic therapist, a Chakradance facilitator and a drumming facilitator along with being a medium and mother to a child with Autism and Dyspraxia and it is these experiences that have helped to shape her stories. Find out more at her website www.pjroscoe.co.uk and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @derwenna1

18 July 2017

Guest Post by David Ebsworth, author of Until the Curtain Falls, a new thriller set during the Spanish Civil War.


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

October 1938, and foreign correspondent Jack Telford is on the run in northern Spain, territory now controlled by Franco’s fascists. And he’s killed somebody close to the Generalísimo’s heart. Telford’s a hunted man, and hunted by three different and deadly enemies. In a climactic chase from Madrid to the Republic’s last outpost, in Alicante, during the closing days of the Spanish Civil War, Jack will learn hard lessons about the conflict between morality and survival.

“The image of the woman Telford had just killed would not leave him. He was almost sure she deserved to die. And, if he hadn’t drowned her first, he was fairly certain that he himself would now be dead.”  

I suppose that Spain and its civil wars are in my blood. An ancestor, Francis Crook Ebsworth, died there in 1837, fighting for the liberal Isabelino faction against the more reactionary Carlists. And then, as a trade union activist from the early 1970s onwards,

I worked closely with men who had volunteered to fight as part of the International Brigades – Merseysiders, like Jack Jones and Frank Deagan – on behalf of the Spanish Republic in the terrible conflict from 1936 until 1939, which was, itself, the opening chapter of the Second World War. That struggle began when, in July 1936, four insurgent generals, including Francisco Franco, launched a military coup to overthrow the elected Popular Front Government.

Three brutally cruel years followed, and sadly ended with Franco’s eventual victory and the establishment of yet another dictatorship for Spain, one that would last until 1975.

Meanwhile, I’d grown close to our ‘extended Spanish family’, many of whom had themselves supported the Republican cause. And so, when I was thinking about writing my second novel, during 2012, it seemed natural to think about the Spanish Civil War as the background – though I was obviously keen to find a “new angle” for the tale.

I began researching different aspects and, through sheer serendipity, came across a paper by American Professor Sandie Holguin, in which she’d uncovered the bizarre story of Franco’s Battlefield Tours, organised from mid-1938 onwards, while the outcome of the war was still in the balance – tours which attracted thousands of international tourists between 1938 and 1945. That’s right, all the way through the Second World War.

The result of all this was the publication of The Assassin’s Mark in 2013 and, this year, its sequel, Until the Curtain Falls – although, to be honest, Until the Curtain Falls can just as easily be read as a stand-alone story.

Between the two novels, I’ve been able to tell some generally untold and “stranger than fiction” stories of the Spanish Civil War: about the way that Franco used Battlefield Tourism and the Camino de Santiago as international propaganda tools; about Franco’s lair in Burgos and the barbarity of the neighbouring prisoner-of-war concentration camp at San Pedro de Cardeña; about the final months of the two-and-a-half year Siege of Madrid; about the secret story of Britain’s dirty involvement in the war’s politics; and about the tragedy of the closing chapter, in Alicante Province.

Then I needed some major characters through whom these stories could be told: left-wing correspondent for the weekly Reynolds News, Jack Telford; Franco’s Irish tour guide, Brendan Murphy; Jack’s mysterious travelling companion and fellow-journalist, Valerie Carter-Holt; Republican army Captain Fidel Constantino; and, in Madrid, the British consulate’s staff member, Ruby Waters.

I like to know my protagonists very well before I start writing and then, with only the most flexible of plot outlines, let them loose on the historical timeline – the “stranger than fiction” incidents I mentioned earlier – to see where their characters take the yarn.

In this case they rewarded me with enough material to fill the pages of these two thrillers: a suspicious accident in San Sebastián; a hostage siege in Spain’s most holy sanctuary; assassination attempts; an unexpected murder; mayhem in Burgos; enough guerrilla activity to rival For Whom The Bell Tolls; espionage and skulduggery in Madrid; a life-and-death chase to Spain’s Mediterranean coast; and twists galore during the finale in Alicante and beyond. Hopefully, Until the Curtain Falls will live up to its reputation as “a roller-coaster” ride, as a simple thriller, but might also serve – as historical fiction should always do – to bring this important period of history to a wider audience.

David Ebsworth
# # #

About the Author

David Ebsworth is the pen name of writer Dave McCall, a former negotiator for Britain’s Transport & General Workers’ Union. He was born in Liverpool but has lived in Wrexham, North Wales, with his wife Ann since 1981 – though they now spend a significant part of each year in Alicante, Spain. Each of Dave’s six novels has been critically acclaimed by the Historical Novel Society and been awarded the coveted BRAG Medallion for independent authors. His work in progress is a series of nine novellas, covering the years from 1911 until 1919 and the lives of a Liverpudlian-Welsh family embroiled in the suffragette movement. Until the Curtain Falls is also the first of Dave’s books to be translated into another language, with the Spanish edition due for publication in November this year. For more information on the author and his work, visit his website at www.davidebsworth.com. and find him on Twitter @EbsworthDavid.

Hemingway Editor Reviewed #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #writing


I've been using the previous version 2.0 of the Hemingway app to improve the draft of my latest novel, before sending it to my editor, so was interested to see what's new in version 3.0.

Originally an online tool, it was written by writers for writers. The app highlights long, complex sentences and common errors; if you see a yellow sentence, you can shorten or split it. Phrases in green have been marked to show passive voice:


You can write directly into the app but I prefer to copy and paste a chapter at a time and see how my writing is improving. I also found the readability functions useful for spotting long sentences and words with better alternatives. Over the course of a full length novel I reduced the number of errors, so my editor can focus on content rather than style.

New Features

Version 3 adds a new feature of publishing directly to WordPress blogs, either as a draft or live post, from the Hemingway Editor. You can also now import and export HTML Microsoft Word and pdf files The new feature I'll be using most is to have more than one file open at the same time,

The Hemingway App doesn’t turn you into Earnest Hemingway overnight but has proved a useful tool which I recommend to all writers. You can use it online or download it from www.hemingwayapp.com.

Tony Riches

Do you have some great writing tips you would like to share?
Please feel free to comment


The #AuthorToolboxBlogHop is a monthly event on the topic of resources and learning for authors. Feel free to hop around to the various blogs and see what you learn! The rules and sign-up form are below the list of hop participants. All authors at all stages of their careers are welcome to join in.

17 July 2017

Great Video About "The Making of Jane Austen" by Devoney Looser



New on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Just how did Jane Austen become the celebrity author and the inspiration for generations of loyal fans she is today? Devoney Looser’s The Making of Jane Austen turns to the people, performances, activism, and images that fostered Austen’s early fame, laying the groundwork
for the beloved author we think we know.

British women writers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries fascinate me. And yes, there were hundreds of them publishing their work. It wasn’t only Jane Austen and Mary Shelley. From the way the two of them are dominating the conversation today, however, you might be forgiven for thinking they were the only females in all England who ever thought to put pen to paper. They’re in the news now because each author is about to celebrate an important bicentenary: Austen for her death in July 1817 and Shelley for Frankenstein’s publication in January 1818. 

So much has been written about Austen’s and Shelley’s lives and works. Surely all of the best ideas have been expressed and the most significant research has been completed? It would take audacity on the part of a writer to sit down at the keyboard and think she might have anything new to add. Yet that’s exactly what I decided to do when I embarked on my book, The Making of Jane Austen (to be published 27 June). Previous literary critics have written about how Austen became an icon in the decades after her death. What I wanted to know is whether we might have overlooked a few things in our recording what is, after all, an incredibly complicated story of her remarkable rise to posthumous celebrity.

I discovered that we’d missed a great deal. I’m excited to report that I’ve corrected a few errors in previous scholarship and have dug up some strange skeletons from the Jane Austen afterlife-closet. I like to imagine this book as a history not only of Austen’s changing public image in the decades after she died but as a collective biography of her earliest devotees, entrepreneurs, and fans. My book charts how Austen’s fiction and characters morphed into every successive new popular medium and how important that transformation was to her reputation. I look at how Austen’s nineteenth- and twentieth-century image was shaped by book illustration, dramatization, film, politics and activism, and teachers, students, and schools. We just haven’t looked as carefully at those popular aspects of her fame as we have at her critical history.

There have been some terrific previous accounts of Austen’s fame; they deserve their due. But most focus squarely on the big names who loved and hated her: Rudyard Kipling and Winston Churchill loved Jane Austen, Mark Twain and Charlotte Brontë hated Jane Austen, and so on. We’ve described her most important scholars and critics, including pioneering editor R. W. Chapman and celebrated critic George Saintsbury, the man who’s said to have coined the word “Janeite.” We quote Virginia Woolf and Rebecca West on Austen. Then we call it a day.

But it wasn’t just famous authors and establishment critics who catapulted Austen to immortality. There were many lesser-known people who were working with great care and no small success to popularize her stories and characters, long before Longbourn or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. My book shows that we can’t possibly understand how Jane Austen became an icon without learning about her popular innovators and their motivations and stories, too. Hundreds—thousands--of lesser-known writers, artists, actors, teachers, and fans shaped her image and told her history in new ways. They made Jane Austen. We’re still making and remaking her, as her stories inspire many to ask difficult questions, not only about who she was but about who we are or might be with her. That’s cause enough for celebration.

Devoney Looser
# # #

About the Author

Devoney Looser is Professor of English at Arizona State University. Her recent writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The TLS, The Independent, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Entertainment Weekly. Devoney grew up in Minnesota and now lives in the desert, near a fantastic roller rink, and teaches women's writings and the history of the novel. She says, 'I met my husband--also an English professor and Austen scholar--over a conversation about Austen, and together we're raising tween sons who find Austen tolerable but un-tempting.' Find out more at http://www.devoneylooser.com/ and find Devoney on Twitter: @devoneylooser and @Making_Jane.

13 July 2017

Historical Fiction Spotlight: The King's Daughter, by Stephanie Churchill


Available for pre-order
on Amazon US and Amazon UK

In this gripping sequel to The Scribe's Daughter, a young woman finds herself unwittingly caught up in a maelstrom of power, intrigue, and shifting perceptions, where the line between ally and enemy is subtle, and the fragile facade of reality is easily broken.

Irisa's parents are dead and her younger sister Kassia is away on a journey when the sisters’ mysterious customer returns, urging Irisa to leave with him before disaster strikes. Can she trust him to keep her safe? 

How much does he know about the fate of her father? Only a voyage across the Eastmor Ocean to the land of her ancestors will reveal the truth about her family’s disturbing past. Once there, Irisa steps into a future she has unknowingly been prepared for since childhood, but what she discovers is far more sinister than she could have ever imagined. Will she have the courage to claim her inheritance for her own?


# # #

About the Author

Stephanie Churchill grew up in the American Midwest, and after school moved to Washington, D.C. to work as a paralegal, moving to the Minneapolis metro area when she married.  She says, 'One day while on my lunch break from work, I visited a nearby bookstore and happened upon a book by author Sharon Kay Penman.  I’d never heard of her before, but the book looked interesting, so I bought it.  Immediately I become a rabid fan of her work. I discovered that Ms. Penman had fan club and that she happened to interact there frequently.  As a result of a casual comment she made about how writers generally don’t get detailed feedback from readers, I wrote her an embarrassingly long review of her latest book, Lionheart.  As a result of that review, she asked me what would become the most life-changing question: “Have you ever thought about writing?”  And The Scribe’s Daughter was born.'

Find out more at Stephanie's website www.stephaniechurchillauthor.com and find her on Facebook and Twitter @WriterChurchill.

11 July 2017

New Book Review: Carol McGrath’s The Woman in The Shadows: Tudor England through the eyes of an influential woman

  

Available for Pre-Order from Amazon UK and Amazon US

When beautiful cloth merchant’s daughter Elizabeth Williams is widowed at the age of twenty-two, she is determined to make herself a success in the business she has learned from her father. But there are those who oppose a woman making her own way in the world, and soon Elizabeth realises she may have some powerful enemies – enemies who also know the truth about her late husband.

Carol McGrath’s The Woman in The Shadows is my latest favourite book. I recall being intrigued by the character of Elizabeth Cromwell after reading Wolf Hall, particularly after David Starkey’s assertion that the notion of Thomas Cromwell as a loving family man is total fiction.

Now we have a new book siding with Hilary Mantel – from Elizabeth’s point of view. Written in the first person, this touching and evocative account makes impressive use of the few known facts of Elizabeth’s life.

We are transported to a dangerous and dirty Tudor London, where you need to look over your shoulder and watch for cutpurses. I loved the details of daily life, of the Tudor attitudes to birth, marriage and death - and feel I understand what life was like as a medieval cloth merchant.

In an inspired break from the conventional timeline, we dip into the past for entire chapters. It reminded me of watching a skilled portrait artist at work, with increasing detail over broader brushwork until the result is three dimensional.

I cared about Elizabeth Cromwell. I worried about the way women were treated. I cheered at Elizabeth’s achievements and groaned at her mistakes. I could not put this book down. Highly recommended.

Tony Riches

Disclosure: I am grateful to Accent Press
for providing a review copy

# # #

About the Author

Based in England, Carol McGrath writes Historical Fiction. She studied History at Queens University Belfast, has an MA in Creative Writing from the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University Belfast and an English MPhil from Royal Holloway, University of London. The Handfasted Wife is her debut novel, first in a trilogy titled The Daughters of Hastings. The second and third novels The Swan-Daughter and The Betrothed Sister have followed and are now available on Amazon and in bookshops. Carol is an historian specialising in the medieval era. Her first love, however, is writing. She is an avid reader and reviewer. Find out more at Carol's author website www.carolcmcgrath.co.uk and find her on Twitter @carolmcgrath.

AddToAny