Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Blog Tour - Vanished in Berlin - Gry Finsnes

Title: Vanished in Berlin
Author: Gry Finsnes
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 404 pages
Release Date: February 2, 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1507669709

SYNOPSIS: If you love two countries and they go to war with each other, which one do you choose to fight for? The German musician Friedrich is in Norway with his Norwegian girlfriend Ellen when Hitler attacks in April 1940. They flee together from Oslo but happen to find themselves very close to the fighting. Their dilemma is that both like Germany but not the Nazis, and Friedrich does not want to fight. Ellen hides him, pretending that he is Dutch. After a long struggle they end up in her grandparents' house on the coast where they spend some idyllic months. But it cannot last forever. When Friedrich disappears Ellen goes to Vienna and Berlin in the middle of war to look for him.


Gry Finsnes, Norwegian, has lived in Sweden, India, England, Germany and France. After university studies in Oslo in French and English literature, she started her career as a teacher, but had to give it up as she moved out of the country. She has published two thrillers in Swedish but has recently written in English.

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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Blog Tour - Kingdom Come - Mark Colington

Title: Kingdom Come
Author: Mark Collington
Genre: Science Fiction/Noir Suspense
Length: 540 pages
Release Date: November 21, 2014
ISBN-13: 978- 0692323151 (UK)
ISBN-13: 978-0692306048 (US)

SYNOPSIS: In the distant future, the world has been reconstructed into the Realms, controlled by a mysterious unseen entity called Kingdom. Jasper Montague-Smythe, a private detective in the 1930s L.A. Realm, is struggling with a stack of clients and a growing caseload. As he juggles disappearances, blackmail, kidnapping, and murder, he also finds himself custodian of a woman who doesn’t belong in his Realm. Drugged and confused, she needs his help. Can he afford to take the time? Can he really afford not to? Yet an even larger problem looms: Kingdom’s Enforcers have started disappearing. Now it’s fallen to Jasper to find the cause and stop it before it’s too late.


Mark Collington was born in the south-east of England in the early 90s. At the age of ten he moved to Mid-Wales and started writing a novel for the first time at 14. He graduated from Bangor University with a Bachelors degree in English with Creative Writing. He is currently studying for an MA at SUNY at Albany in upstate New York.

Writing Process: The Physical and the Mental

Whenever people ask me about my writing process, I’m always intrigued as to whether they mean the physical process of sitting down to write, or the mental process of deciding which words to write. So I guess I’ll try and talk about both.

I’m one of those nocturnal authors. I’ve always found that my most productive hours are between about 11pm and 4am. Not sure why, they just are. Maybe it’s the silence and the lack of external distractions. Maybe it’s that I get appalled when people suggest waking up earlier than 9:30am. When I do sit down to write, it’s in a dark room, usually just one lamp, and with my laptop (my handwriting is awful, left hander’s curse, and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to write an entire novel by hand and then type it up). I’ll settle down with a cup of coffee, a can of coke, and a glass of water (yes, all three at once, something nice about the temperature and flavor combination….and the caffeine high) and can sit there and just get involved in the writing.

People have often asked me whether I listen to music when I write. The answer is yes, music is an important part of my life, but when I’m writing I ban (give or take) anything with lyrics, and will sometimes have it so it’s barely audible. Any other time I love good quality vocals in my music, but they can be too distracting to the “writing process.” Its purpose becomes to provide a beat for the work, something to listen to in those moments when I need a short breather, and to block out some of the other, more disruptive noises—I used to live in the countryside surrounded by all manner of noisy night time creatures and farm animals, now I live three feet from the sidewalk in upstate New York and it’s a whole other type of night time creature. Some of my favourites to listen to are movie soundtracks (Hans Zimmer and Harry Gregson-Williams tend to provide well there), Apocalyptica, the instrumental/orchestral versions of Kamelot and Nightwish, and a small instrumental rock group from Albany called Yoma.

As for the mental side of things, you’ll see articles about how meticulously J.K. Rowling planned her series (with accompanied photo of scrawled blue biro), or hear advice of how you have to have a clear plan written down. That’s not how I work. I plan massively. In fact I have plots already in place that aren’t likely to appear for another seven books or so. But I don’t write it all down in notebooks. It’s truly a mental process—if it’s good enough to put in a book, then I’ll remember it.

Most of what I write in any one session I’ll have outlined mentally beforehand, and maybe thought of a few key phrases while driving, walking, standing in the shower, anytime I’m doing something that requires only a small amount of thought. And from there, I let the narrative and the characters take it away and flow freely.

In all honesty, I do occasionally take a few brief notes to keep track of my various plot strands, but nowhere near what I’m aware that some people do. I find it too restrictive—one of the first novels I wrote I planned out scene-by-scene and the result held little feeling because it was just following a preordained plan. I have also looked back at the brief notes I’ve made after I’ve finished a section and seen something about where a plot is going, or what a character will do and thought “wow, I was really wrong, [that character] wouldn’t have done that…”

For me, the writing process is a source of great joy. It holds elements of quiet contemplation or having a laugh with a group of your friends (even if these ones are imaginary). I can get very excited about what I’m doing, even if it’s 3 in the morning, dark, and everyone else is in bed. 

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Saturday, 21 March 2015

Self Edit Tips - Stephanie Dagg

Editing - you either love it or hate it. As a freelance editor who's now clocked up twenty-five years in the publishing profession, clearly I love it. However, I know a lot of authors dread the E word. For our purposes editing is the preparation of written materials for publication or presentation by correcting, revising or adapting. When you do this yourself, it's self-editing. Whether you can ever self-edit adequately is a matter for debate. Generally you can't. You are too familiar with your own work and the human eye is a devious thing. It will swear blind to your brain that you've written what you were trying to say and not notice a missing word or a spelling mistake. How much editing should you do before you either hand your project over to a professional editor for a final polish or launch it directly into the market yourself? You should read your work through at least twice and tidy up as you do so. But not much more than that. I cringe when I come across authors saying they are on their sixth or seventh revision. That's way too many. By that stage you're only tinkering and obsessing. Stop. Let your baby go.
Stepahie Jane Dagg
As an editor, I take as much care of your book 'baby' as I do of every llama baby that arrives on our farm!
 As an editor, I take as much care of your book 'baby' as I do of every llama baby that arrives on our farm! OR It can be hard to let your baby go!

So, to help with the editing process and make it as efficient as possible, here are a few tips on self-editing. 1. Spot your overused words and weed them out: we all have some that become our default words and we shove them in without really thinking. The usual culprits I've found over the years are these: just, a bit, however, though, a little, of course, in fact, said, stood, walked, nevertheless, nonetheless, seeing as, almost, really, surely, certainly, some, could only, suddenly, nice, lovely, immediately, rather, well, very, decided. But how can you discover your own foibles? Select a passage of a current piece of your writing, say at least 1,000 words. Copy it and paste it to create a new document. Starting with the list of words above, now do a 'find' for each one of them, and note down how often it appears. Add other words that you know you're prone to employing. Any of these words or phrases that are cropping up more than 5 times definitely need your attention, and any with 3 or 4 appearances could do with thinking about too. Replace them with a synonym or get rid of them altogether. Now critically read the new version and I'm sure you'll see an improvement. 2. Names: keep a list of character names. And keep them as varied as you can. There are thousands upon thousands of names to choose from but it's astonishing how many authors duplicate names or end up with a selection that are all very similar to each other - for example Jane, Joan, Jean, Joanne, Janet all appearing in one book. (There's a definite bias towards names beginning with J I've noticed too!) There's a very handy character name generator on my website here to help you come up with a name if you're stuck. Hugely successful indie author Kristen Ashley has quite a line in making up unusual names for her characters. If it works for her, then why not give it a shot too. Be inventive. 3. Style sheet: as with the list of names, you should keep one of these. A style sheet is where you jot down how you present your work. Will you use double quotation marks around speech (recommended) or single ones? Where will you use hyphenation? Will you capitalise certain nouns that aren't proper nouns to give them extra emphasis in your story? And so on. The idea of the style sheet is to ensure consistency in your work. It's not too late to compile one during your last read through. 4. Back to front and a different format: on your final proofread, work from the back, a page at a time. This gives you a whole new perspective on your story from seeing it in a very different way. This will make it easier to spot typos. You should also read your story through either printed out or on an ereader. Again, the different appearance of your MS from how you've usually seen it on the computer screen will help you spot mistakes more easily. 5. Don't rush: take some time over your self-editing. Take plenty of breaks and even put the work aside for a few days before a final proofread. Mark Coker of Smashwords has said that one of the main mistakes indie authors make is being too impatient to publish. This will mean grumpy reviews that stick if there are silly grammatical or spelling mistakes, or a plot that was too hastily cobbled together and not thought through. Don't spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar. Fools rush in. More haste, less speed. There are plenty of age-old sayings advising against impetuosity and they hold true in this era of epublishing where the temptation is to throw ourselves into the digital stream as quickly as possible. You've put a lot of time and effort into your writing, so don't let yourself down by skimping on the last stages of production. Spend time on self-editing and editing and produce something that's as professional as you can make it. Your writing is worth it. Stepanie Jane Dagg

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Blog Tour - Storm in the Valley - Lee Passarella

Title: Storm in the Valley
Author: Lee Passarella
Genre: Historical Civil War Fiction
Length: 134 pages
Release Date: February 25, 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1508414209

SYNOPSIS: Townsend Philips, a.k.a. Monk Phillips, has soldiering in his blood: his Uncle Lucas, who raised him, was a colonel in the Mexican-American War, and Monk’s older brother John Tyler is a cadet at the famed Virginia Military Institute. With his uncle’s blessing, in the summer of 1861 12-year-old Monk enlists as drummer boy with the 51st Virginia Volunteer Regiment.

Throughout the war, the Phillips brothers despair of ever seeing each other again. Then, in spring of 1864, the 51st faces the task of driving superior Union forces out of the Shenandoah Valley.

On the eve of the Battle of New Market, Monk is overjoyed to find himself unexpectedly reunited with John. But the circumstances that join them are also unexpectedly perilous for both.


Lee Passarella acts as senior literary editor for Atlanta Review magazine and served as editor-in-chief of Coreopsis Books, a poetry-book publisher. He also writes classical music reviews for Audiophile Audition.

Passarella’s poetry has appeared in Chelsea, Cream City Review, Louisville Review, The Formalist, Antietam Review, Journal of the American Medical Association, The Literary Review, Edge City Review, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Snake Nation Review, Umbrella, Slant, Cortland Review, and many other periodicals and ezines. He has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, and his work has appeared in several anthologies as well.

Swallowed up in Victory, Passarella’s long narrative poem based on the American Civil War, was published by White Mane Books in 2002. It has been praised by poet Andrew Hudgins as a work that is “compelling and engrossing as a novel.” Passarella has published two poetry collections: The Geometry of Loneliness (David Robert Books, 2006) and Redemption (FutureCycle Press, 2014). His poetry chapbook Sight-Reading Schumann was published by Pudding House Publications in 2007.

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