Monday, 30 January 2017

Book Review: White Lies and Wishes by Cathy Bramley


AD* | What happens when what you wish for is only half the story...?

Flirtatious, straight-talking Jo Gold says she’s got no time for love; she’s determined to save her family’s failing footwear business.

New mother Sarah Hudson has cut short her maternity leave to return to work. She says she’ll do whatever it takes to make partner at the accountancy firm.

Bored, over-eating housewife Carrie Radley says she just wants to shift the pounds – she’d love to finally wear a bikini in public.

The unlikely trio meet by chance one winter’s day, and in a moment of ‘Carpe Diem’ madness, embark on a mission to make their wishes come true by September.

Easy. At least it would be if they hadn’t been just the teensiest bit stingy with the truth…

With hidden issues, hidden talents, and hidden demons to overcome, new friends Jo, Carrie and Sarah must admit to what they really, really want, if they are ever to get their happy endings.

Book, Review, White Lies and Wishes, Cathy Bramley, Blog Tour, Corgi, The Writing Greyhound, Lorna Holland

Today I'm thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Cathy Bramley's newest release, White Lies and Wishes. There are many Cathy Bramley books, but this is the first one I've had the pleasure to read, so I'm very happy to have had the chance to read and review this one.

On the surface, White Lies and Wishes is a fun, lighthearted read, a sort of contemporary rom-com in bookish form. We follow our three main characters - Jo, Sarah and Carrie - as they go about the process of completing their wishes, becoming firm friends along the way.

That all sounds rosy, but then as the story digs deeper we discover that each of the women is hiding something. In fact, none of them has been entirely truthful about their wishes or admitted what it is that they really want. Without giving away any spoilers, I actually find their true wishes to be a little sad. Each of their real wishes is a completely valid thing to want, and the sad thing is the fact that they feel they have to hide these wishes for one reason or another. It just makes you think - how many women are out there in the real world facing similar dilemmas?


Despite that, it's an entertaining read, packed with plenty of humour. I loved how different the three women are, yet how well they work together as a team, really bringing out the best qualities in one another. They are interesting to read about, engaging, and you find yourself really rooting for them and wanting them to succeed and achieve their wishes. 

The plot is a little predictable, but then I suppose that's to be expected. This is the type of book you go into knowing there will be a happy ending, but when it comes you're happy all the same. I also loved the grounding and down-to-earth realities of the character's lives. I'm from Northamptonshire myself, coming from a family in the shoe-making industry, so it was great from a personal perspective to read about Jo and Gold's. 

Rating: 3 stars

White Lies and Wishes is available to buy now.

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Guest Post & Giveaway (CLOSED): Ethnicity's Place in Pigeon-Blood Red by Ed Duncan

Pigeon-Blood Red is an interracial crime novel but it is, first and foremost, a crime novel. At its centre is the theft of a priceless pigeon-blood red ruby necklace. That theft sets in motion the novel's action and, together with the hunt to find the necklace, it pushes the action forward. The crime also brings together the novel's disparate characters, each of whom contributes something different to the story, but the ethnicity of the characters is incidental to the plot. In other words, with minor exceptions, a reader would not know whether a given character was white or black if the character weren't described as such. On this latter point, permit me a slight digression. 

When an author doesn't point out a character's ethnicity, the widely accepted default position is that the character is white. I haven't done a scientific study but I think this statement is true. Therefore, even where race or ethnicity is an issue in a novel, the author expects his readers to assume that all of the characters are white unless the writer says a particular character is black or describes him or her as such. This default position is a little trickier to handle where the novel's setting is a place where blacks predominate, such as Africa or certain countries in the Caribbean like Jamaica. In those cases, authors do often specifically point out when a character is white to distinguish that character from the predominant group. My novel takes place in Chicago and Honolulu, so I have adhered to the default position by directly pointing out when a character is black or by indicating it by describing the colour of the character's skin.

The above digression aside, the point of this piece was to explore ways of addressing two questions that arise when writing a crime novel in which some of the main characters are black (or are of some other non-white ethnicity), but in which their ethnicity is not central to the story, as is true in my novel. The first question is how the novel should be marketed. The description of Pigeon-Blood Red on the novel's back cover is completely silent as to the ethnicity of the characters, because their ethnicity is incidental to the story. Here is that description:

"After an unfaithful husband and his lover try to double-cross a loan shark, they endanger the lives of the man's unsuspecting wife and an old flame who comes to her rescue. Pursued by a "killer with a conscience," the wife and her newly found protector must decide what to do with a stolen ruby necklace worth millions. And their pursuer must decide what to do with them: murder them as ordered - although one of them saved his life - or refuse and risk the life of the woman he loves."

The unfaithful husband and his lover are both black, as are the unsuspecting wife and the old flame, while the loan shark and the killer with a conscience are white. Race is irrelevant to these characters as they react to the theft of the necklace and as they interact with each other. Therefore, pointing out their race in the description of the novel adds nothing. This is not to say that race might not have been relevant to a different set of characters I might have imagined. It could have, just not in this novel. But wait for the sequel!

The second question is whether a realistic interracial crime novel can be written where race is merely incidental to the story. My answer is yes because Pigeon-Blood Red is that novel. That said, I do in fact mention race in the novel, but only a few times and then only tangentially. Addressing it, if only incidentally, was a bow to reality. Regrettably, at this time and place in our history, it is very difficult to ignore race completely. Perhaps it will not always be so.

About Pigeon-Blood Red


For underworld enforcer Richard "Rico" Sanders, it seemed like an ordinary job. Retrieve his gangster boss's priceless pigeon-blood red ruby necklace and teach the double-dealing cheat who stole it a lesson. A job like a hundred before it. But the chase quickly goes sideways and takes Rico from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu, where the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory when a couple of innocent bystanders are accidentally embroiled in the crime. 

As Rico pursues his new targets, the hunter and his prey develop an unlikely respect for one another and Rico is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the couple whose courage and character have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves?

About Ed Duncan


Ed Duncan is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years. He currently lives outside of Cleveland and is at work on the second instalment in the Pigeon-Blood Red trilogy.

For more information about Ed and his work, visit his website or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads.


If you think Pigeon-Blood Red sounds interesting, then you're in luck, as I've kindly been given a copy to give away to one lucky reader. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget below. Please note, this is a US only giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions:
  1. Giveaway closes on 5th February 2017 at 11.59pm (GMT).
  2. The prize consists of one paperback or Kindle copy (winner's choice) of Pigeon-Blood Red by Ed Duncan.
  3. Upon confirmation of the winner's address, the prize will be sent to the winner by the promoter, NOT The Writing Greyhound.
  4. This giveaway is open to US residents only.
  5. The winner will be randomly generated by Rafflecopter once the giveaway has ended.
  6. The winner will be informed by email once the giveaway has ended.
  7. The winner will have 72 hours to claim their prize. If the winner has not responded by this time, another winner will be announced.
Pigeon-Blood Red is available to buy now.

Will you be reading the book? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, 27 January 2017

Interview: Faye Hall

Today I am super pleased to be able to bring you an interview with historical romance author Faye Hall, ahead of the release of her latest novel, Deceit and Devotion.

Firstly, tell me a little about yourself and your background.

My name is Faye Hall and I’m a published author of steamy historical romantic suspense stories set in the beautiful coastal towns of 19th Century Australia. I currently have six titles available from Beachwalk Press and Red Sage Publishing.

How did you first become interested in writing? 

I’ve written stories ever since I can remember. I got really dedicated, though, towards the end of High School when my then English teacher told me I would never amount to a decent writer. That gave me the drive to want to prove him wrong.

What draws you to writing romance? 

I love happily ever afters. But more so I love putting the characters’ lives through turmoil and knowing that no matter what I put them through they will always end up with the love of their life. To me, that’s something very important and not something often allowed in people’s real lives.

Why did you decide to write historical fiction? 

I love history. A few years back, I did my own family’s history and how they came to Australia. It made me wonder about the struggles these families must have gone through together and how they were lucky enough to have a love to survive it all.

Tell me about Deceit and Devotion. 

My newest release Deceit and Devotion is a complex tale of a young half-caste aboriginal man, Jarrah, who is hired to seduce a white man’s wife. In turn, the wife, Emily, hires Jarrah to spy on her husband and find his connection to her father’s missing black opal collection. The relationship that develops between Jarrah and Emily is a very controversial one and was very taboo in the 19th century.

Do you find it difficult to write about race, as it can be such a sensitive topic? 

Yes! I find it very hard to write about race as there is so much tension and controversy surrounding the racial past of Australia.

How do you get inspiration? 

My husband is always my greatest inspiration and he is always letting me rebound ideas off him and he often gives me ideas for new stories.

What’s your writing process? 

It’s very scattered. I have a large family so writing happens when and if I can. I’ve also got very used to writing with constant interruptions.

What’s the hardest thing about writing? 

Usually, the beginning is the hardest for me to write. I never quite know where to start. More often than not, by the time I’ve written the ending, I need to go back and rewrite the first few chapters to tie everything in.

What do you love most about writing? 

I love creating the characters with all their different personalities. That would have to be my favourite part by far.

Which authors inspire you? 

Love Amanda Quick! She has always been my greatest inspiration.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers? 

Never give up and learn to take criticism. Don’t take too much to heart and just keep writing if that’s what you love.

What’s your all-time favourite book? 

To Kill a Mockingbird.

What are your ambitions for your writing career? 

I would love to have multiple best sellers.

What are you currently working on? 

A book called Heart of Stone – a story about an Australian slave trader who becomes entangled with an Irish slave.

Deceit and Devotion is available to buy now. To find out more about Faye and her work, visit her website or find her on Facebook

Have you read any of Faye's books? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Guest Post: Writing A Cause Driven Series by D.J. Williams

I stood on the shores of the Zambezi River as a spark for a story pierced my soul. After three weeks of travelling across the country, witnessing the reality of those forgotten by the world, and facing a major change in my career, I knew that one day I'd write about this place. Little did I know that it would be years before I found the courage to write my first novel, The Disillusioned. I was so afraid of failing to capture the story that I wrote the novel without telling anyone. When it was finished, I reached out to a friend in the TV industry and her response encouraged me to step out in faith and publish.

I share this with you because those days on the Zambezi defined my passion as a storyteller.

What I discovered throughout the writing process, was that using my experiences of travelling to the poorest places in the world fuelled my drive to create the Guardian novels, a series filled with mystery, suspense, and adventure. All of those were aspects of the story, but from the first novel the reality of the fight against human trafficking was an underlying thread throughout. It's one reason why I've defined this series as cause-driven novels. My hope is that readers will be entertained, but will also be inspired to make a difference in the world when they flip that last page.

Writing the second novel, Waking Lazarus, was challenging to continue in the cause-driven storytelling style. To capture this story in a unique way, the novel spans nearly a century as readers are taken back to the 1920s and then return to the present day on a global adventure. It also pushes readers further into the world of child slavery, poverty, and the darkness of secrets. I'm humbled that the Guardian novels, and the cause-driven storytelling style, have garnered the attention of Hollywood's elite.

"The Disillusioned is a fast-paced mystery... you won't put it down until you've unlocked the secrets and lies to find the truth." 

- Judith McCreary, Co-Executive Producer, Law & Order: SVU, Criminal Minds, & CSI.

"Waking Lazarus is a captivating visual story with a colourful narrative. Once I started reading, it was hard to put down." 

- Peter Anderson, Oscar Winner, Cinematographer.

I'm writing my third novel, The Auctioneer, and experimenting with ways to continue in telling stories that raise awareness for causes and issues around the world. It's like writing layers, where the story that draws readers in leads to a deeper place that travels the road between fiction and reality. My hope is that others who are passionate about storytelling will embrace this same approach and will write books that not only entertain, but also challenge readers beyond the last page.

About Waking Lazarus


Jake Harris’ life hasn’t turned out the way he planned. Battling his addictions, and the shattered pieces of his family, he is hired to ghostwrite a memoir. From the 1920’s story of a controversial evangelist, to the present day mystery of a former District Attorney, everything changes when his search for the truth leads to an atrocity hidden from history. With a past he can’t remember, he begins to discover that he is not the person he believed himself to be. Rather, he is a threat to a secret society that has remained in the shadows for nearly a century. Jake is drawn deep inside a world he never knew existed that brings him closer to his own extraordinary destiny.

About D.J. Williams


Currently based out of Los Angeles, Williams continues to add to his producing and directing credits of more than 350 episodes of broadcast TV syndicated worldwide by developing new projects for television, film and print.

For more information, visit his website. Waking Lazarus is available to buy now.

What do you think about the concept of cause-driven books? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Interview: Jeffrey H. Konis

This morning, author Jeffrey H. Konis is stopping by the blog for a chat about his life, his writing, and the release of his new semi-biographical book.

Firstly, tell me a little about yourself and your background.

I'm a married father of two boys, with a joint J.D./MBA degree. After practising law for many years, I went back to school to get my master's degree in education and became a high school social studies teacher (the primary, though not sole reason was because I would never see my children grow up had I remained an attorney). I lived in NYC for about half of my adult life; I am now back where I grew up, about 50 miles north-west of NYC, near my parents.

How did you first become interested in writing?

I first got into writing when I would write my own birthday, father's day, and other occasion cards for my family. Everyone, including people who would not compliment me so freely, thought I was a good writer. As I enjoyed writing so much, I decided to believe, delusionally or otherwise, that maybe they were right. This is only my second book, however. The first, From Courtroom to Classroom: Making a Case for Good Teaching, was published in 2008 and offers a late-career changer's perspective on teaching adolescents.

Tell me about your book.

The book is about the lost opportunity to ask my grandmother (actually, my dad's aunt) about my real grandparents who had perished just before and during the Holocaust. I had lived with her for over two years and, like my dad, had never asked her questions about the past. My father is an only child and she was the last person on earth who could have told me so much about my dad's background. This book is a chronicle of my time with my Grandma Ola and an imagining of the stories she might have shared had I only took the time to ask her the questions.

What do you hope readers take away from your book?

I hope that readers take away that - as I write in the book - the time we have with the elderly among us does not include forever, that we need to spend time with our older relatives and talk to them, listen to what they have to say. Such conversations will serve to provide some insight into how you got to be who you are today.

What’s your writing process?

My writing process entails sitting in my living room and writing longhand in a journal from Japan with the most beautiful paper - yes, I am quite tactile. I later will type up sections on the computer, editing along the way. I will then print out the pages and work on them, again, longhand; then repeat the process.

What’s the hardest thing about writing?

The hardest thing about writing is isolating yourself from your family and friends for long periods of time but you have to do this. You must be alone with your thoughts, I believe, to adequately articulate them on paper.

What do you love most about writing?

The freedom to express myself in the most intimate fashion. When I write, at the end of the day, I am simply having a conversation with myself; the process, to me, represents an endeavour to understand most deeply who I am.

Which authors inspire you?

The incredible J.M. Coetzee who had the unimaginable audacity to write as Dostoevsky his Master of St. Petersburg; Hemingway, whose writing puts you right in the scenes he describes in his writing, and Fitzgerald: "So he waited, listening for a moment to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star;" who writes like this? Just beautiful - I had quoted this fragment along with the next few lines, from Gatsby, to my wife on our first New Year's Eve. Just as we were about to share our first kiss, she started crying!

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Details, details, details - and honesty in your work. I think the more honest you are with yourself, the more interesting readers will find you.

What’s your all-time favourite book?

The Brothers Karamazov. The writing, the story and the ideas combined into one piece of work is simply remarkable.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

They are modest, to say the least, as I am first and foremost a school teacher who practices law on the side. I came to writing rather late in life. I do wish, at times, that I had made a greater effort pursuing it as a potential career in my younger days.

Do you prefer reading e-books or traditional books?

Traditional books - I need to examine the cover, feel the paper.

Do you prefer self-publishing or traditional publishing?

I prefer self-publishing because of the fact that the author owns the rights to his works. There was a traditional publisher who was interested in my first book and the first thing they told me was that they would likely change the title of the book. That title had come to me in such a moment of clarity and inspiration and was just perfect given the substance of the book. I then realised I would lose complete control over the book. This is something I don't think I could ever do.

What are you reading at the moment?

I am in the middle of reading City of Dreams, a 400-year history of immigrant New York City. Fascinating. Next up is Jonathan Safran Foer's latest novel, Here I Am.

To find out more about the author, follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads. The Conversations We Never Had is available to buy now.

What conversation do you wish you'd had the chance to have? Let me know in the comments below!

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Wing Jones Photo Tour

Wing Jones is the much anticipated debut novel from Katherine Webber, publishing 5th January 2017 in the UK. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants…

Katherine Webber was born in Southern California but has lived in Atlanta, Hawaii, Hong Kong and now in London. For several years she worked at the reading charity BookTrust, where she worked on projects such as The Letterbox Club which delivers parcels of books to children in care, and YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention. You can find her on Twitter - @kwebberwrites.

Throughout January, over 40 bloggers will be participating in the #WJphototour – a photo blog tour documenting Katherine’s path to publishing her debut novel. From childhood memories that inspired her writing to her time living in Atlanta and Asia that influenced the book to authors she’s met over the years right up to receiving her first finished copy of the book, follow along to see Katherine’s author life unfold! Keep an eye on the hashtag to see the latest photos!


This post is one of the more personal, and serious, posts. 

The week my US and UK book deal was announced, a childhood friend of mine lost her life in a drunk driving accident. Julia was the passenger in a car that was hit by a teenage drunk driver. I was devastated by the tragic news - I had only just seen Julia a few months before at a friend’s wedding. She’s the one pictured with me in the black and white striped dress. 

In the picture above, I’m with her sister and my friend Courtney, both who had run track and cross country with me in high school. I know this is a bit of a heavy post for a photo blog, but a drunk driving accident is central to the plot of WING JONES, and having this happen to someone I knew in real life hit hard. It also influenced later edits to make sure I handled the subject matter with sensitivity and respect, especially dealing with the victim’s families. 

To remember and honour Julia’s life, her family started I Keep Dancing, an organisation dedicated to providing resources, support, and opportunities for others going through grief and hardship. WING JONES is now forever linked to Julia - and as I celebrate the launch of the book, I’d also like to celebrate her amazing life and memory. You can find more information on I Keep Dancing here.

Wing Jones is available to buy now.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Interview: John Murray and Abby Jones

I am very pleased to welcome John Murray and Abby Jones to the blog to talk about their new book Code Name: Papa, the thriller/biography of John's life. Read on to find out all about the pair and the extraordinary tale that inspired the book.

Welcome to the blog! John - tell me about yourself.

I was a fairly ordinary kid. I got average grades in school, first became a police officer and then an enlisted soldier during the War in Vietnam. I’ve always had very strong feelings about helping people, my country and the world. I met two friends in boot camp who immediately felt like my brothers - which they were for the rest of their lives. One of them had a very powerful father in New York, the original Papa. I was chosen by Papa to take over his position before he died. As your readers will see in the book, beyond that time, I never had a normal life. In the book, your readers will see the many sacrifices my team and I made on behalf of world safety.

How did you first become interested in writing?

Abby: I’m the working writer in the group. This is my fifth book and I write for magazines as well. John is the storyteller - and what a story he has to tell of his amazing life! But, this book would not have been possible without the encouragement from John’s wife and my long-time friend, Sharon, who finally convinced John that his story needed to be told. Sadly, along with many family members and friends, we lost Sharon this summer to a rare form of cancer. It’s still very hard to believe that she’s gone and we all miss her so much.

Tell me about the book.

Abby: The book is getting great reviews and we are truly happy to hear from our readers. The book quickly reviews John’s (Papa’s) early life, then moves on to his association with a secretive international group and their work on behalf of world order with the blessings of their countries (mostly in Europe, plus Canada and the US). In 43 chapters, Papa talks about their training and many of their missions. The book is truly a wild ride… and all true. Only names and some places have been changed to protect the families of those involved (most of whom are now gone). One of the aspects that our readers seem to enjoy is the fact that the book also looks at the personal lives of several agents, including Papa. Their home lives were almost non-existent at times and their marriages and families suffered, as the agents did, by the requirements of their jobs. 

What inspired you to write it?

John: I used to wake up from nightmares in a panic with night sweats. Finally, Sharon, who I married just a few years ago, encouraged me to tell her my story. She was fascinated and suggested she take notes and we then put it away. However, she soon felt that the story was one that people needed to know. Transparency is important in today’s world. We contacted Sharon’s friend, Abby, to advise us. She agreed to work with us and we worked hard for eighteen months to put my story together. It was Abby’s goal to never loose my distinct voice or any of the facts in the book through the long process. Luckily she was able to accomplish that.

Is the story fictional or based on real events?

All true, except the names and a few of the places. Readers in the UK will likely be fascinated with the chapter,“Out of This World” about what thousands in southern England thought was a UFO sighting. Now, decades later, the facts are laid plain.

How do you plan for the book to educate readers?

John: There is so much secrecy in all governments. This book takes a look at some interesting and often gruesome things that take place to fix bad situations and sometimes eliminate bad people both within and outside of governments.

What’s your writing process and where’s your favourite place to write?

Abby: Luckily, where and how you choose to write is very adaptable. I write at all times of the day and sometimes night at my home in California. I have two desks and move back and forth between them. However, part of the book was written when I lived in New York. I’ve also written parts of this story in a quiet library and in my home garden. So, like Papa in our book, the writing of Code Name: Papa moved around a lot, too!

What do you love most about writing?

Abby: There is real satisfaction in putting a story together to truly convey the intended meaning. I never really know how the words will tumble out and if they need to be adjusted. This is especially true with this book because it’s non-fiction. John, Sharon and I worked very closely - in different states via the Internet, phone, and messaging - and truly made this book a team effort. By the way, John and I have never met... yet. Perhaps we will finally meet sometime soon because we are now working on book two of this planned trilogy. Stay tuned...

Which authors inspire you and what’s your all-time favourite book?

John: My favourite book is Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. I enjoy reading many types of fiction and non-fiction. 

Abby: My favourite book is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. As a child, I accidently picked up Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca at the library, thinking I was bringing home Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. It was a fascinating read for my young, na├»ve mind. I believe she truly inspired me to write.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Abby: Yes - Go for it and write what inspires you! However, don’t turn down boring projects offered to you when you first start, because each project helps you develop your focus and skills. You don’t really need a backup plan, just a second source of income to help support your passion for writing. Oh, and you’re never too young or too old to become a writer. 

John: Amen to all of that!

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Abby: I’m blessed to be able at this point, after slightly more than twenty years, to be able to write what I like - both books and magazine articles. For new writers, I would suggest picking two to five topics that interest you the most and work on developing those through research and your writing skills. However, your career may surprise you with detours and even complete changes in direction. I started by writing about food and home trends. I still love that, but my career has moved far away from both.

If you weren’t a writer, what do you think you’d be doing?

John: Well, I’m an accidental writer who is now working on book two about my life with a likely third one planned. I’d hoped to be doing a lot more fishing at this point. And I love spending time with my children and grandchildren. 

Abby: I have a true entrepreneurial spirit, so I’d likely be creating a style and design website and running with that.

What are you currently working on?

John: Our second book is about the many interesting, intelligent women who passed through my life and career. Their crucial roles and sacrifices need to be honoured - and that is our goal with this book. Younger readers may not fully understand that in covert operations, female agents were almost unheard of in the 1960s and ‘70s. They were trailblazers for women in many related fields, including police work. I think our readers will find these brave women fascinating!

Self-publishing or traditional publishing?

Abby: I prefer traditional publishing, but I’m very excited about what is happening online, which is allowing many more voices to be readily heard. This is my third book that is offered in traditional format and as an e-book. The others were all traditional. I’ve always worked with traditional publishers before. But, for security reasons, this book needed a lot of control over John’s privacy, Sharon’s and mine, as well. (We are using pseudonyms.) Subsequently, we used Simon & Schuster’s self-publishing imprint for book one. But, self-publishing requires wearing a lot of extra hats and much more time.

What are you reading at the moment?

Abby: I always have two or three books I’m reading at a time. Currently, they are On the Shoulder of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (basketball great and fascinating writer), and Exodus: A Memoir by Deborah Feldman. I’ve got about twenty others I’ll be so excited to read, but writing takes up a lot of my reading time! 

John: I’ve been so involved with book two recently that - sadly - I’m too busy to read right now. I look forward to sitting down with a good read soon.

Where can my readers go to find out more about you and your work?

We really appreciate you and others in your field allowing us to talk about the book. If readers want to read a few snippets and see some interesting photos, they can go to our website.

Code Name: Papa is available to buy now.

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Interview: Tam May

Today I'm pleased to welcome the lovely Tam May back to the blog for a chat about her latest release, Gnarled Bones and Other Stories. 

How did you first become interested in writing?

When I was 14, my sister’s best friend was a writer and introduced her to journaling and fiction writing. We’re twins, so naturally, I always wanted to do what my sister was doing. I bought two notebooks and started writing in a journal and a children’s story inspired by The Wizard of Oz. That started me on my writing journey.

Tell me about your latest book.

It’s called Gnarled Bones and Other Stories and it’s a collection of five short stories in which strange and spooky events affect the characters’ lives in ways they never could have anticipated. In one story, for example, during a mailroom secretary and her friends’ fun day at the circus, childhood nostalgia becomes mingled with brutal fear. Another story was featured on Whimsy Gardener’s Storytime With Whimsey and is the eerie imprint that an art exhibit leaves on a lonely woman’s psyche one quiet Saturday afternoon.

The title story paints a picture of the complicated bond between an orphaned brother and sister by weaving journal entries and first-person narrative. The stories are really about how our past shadows our present and future.

How do you get inspiration?

From everywhere! I’ve always been an observer and absorber so everything going on around me can be an inspiration. Sometimes an incident, book, film character, an idea in an article, or something else will create a picture of a story for me that I write down and save in a folder on my computer. Sometimes a small thing, even a feeling, might make it into a story.

Interview, Tam May, Gnarled Bones and Other Stories, Fiction, Short Stories, Book, Author, Writer, Writing, The Writing Greyhound, Lorna Holland

What’s your writing process?

I tend to work on several projects at once. Sometimes I wake up early in the morning and write, sometimes I write in the evening. I have problems concentrating for long periods of time, so one-hour writing stints are most productive for me. I write the first draft from beginning to end without really doing much editing. I do read over the last few paragraphs I wrote plus any notes I made on the scene just to jog my memory and I might make some changes in grammar and punctuation but nothing really serious. Then I let the first draft rest once it’s finished for as long as I can. The revision process begins once the first draft has rested. I’m a perfectionist so I do quite a few revisions on my own. I turn it over to my critique group, a wonderful group of women who are honest and insightful and know and appreciate my offbeat style. After more revisions based on their feedback, I turn the work over to a professional freelance editor who goes through it and then more revisions.

What’s the hardest thing about writing?

All of it, really. Writing the first draft is tough because even though it’s an exciting, creative time, I’m full of doubts about whether the story will work, whether I’m exploring the characters fully. Editing and revision is hard as well, trying to shape the story and cement the characters. I self-publish my work so there is just a lot to do to get the book out to readers. I think a lot of people see self-publishing as “write the book, put it through the spell-checker, publish it on Amazon”. Many of us do a lot more work than that to get our books as polished as we can make them.

What do you love most about writing?

No matter how tough the writing process is, I love every minute of it. I love the creation of the first draft and the polishing in the revisions and seeing the characters and story take shape, all the pieces falling into place. And I love putting the book together, making the finished product.

Which authors inspire you?

I’m a huge classic literature fan. I’m the crazy person who willingly reads Dickens J. I love offbeat, philosophical writing too. My favourites are Anais Nin and Jane Bowles. I love classic psychological fiction writers like Edith Wharton, Henry James, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf and the Brontes. I recently discovered Thomas Mann and was completely blown away by his stories.

Interview, Tam May, Gnarled Bones and Other Stories, Fiction, Short Stories, Book, Author, Writer, Writing, The Writing Greyhound, Lorna Holland

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Yes. Follow your fear. If you’re writing something and you feel yourself becoming afraid because you’re touching on emotions that you maybe didn’t know you had or haven’t visited in a long time or have been avoiding, don’t stop. Go on. It’s a place where your imagination is leading you to discover yourself and where you can go to give something back to others. It’s a good thing.

Also, go with what you love, even if it’s not trending on Twitter or if it’s not getting you praise from your Aunt Minnie or your friends are telling you it’s too way out there. You can’t give something to readers that you don’t have with authenticity and honest. Readers deserve that and so do you.

What’s your all-time favourite book?

Under a Glass Bell by Anais Nin. I wrote a guest post for Lit I Love about why this book is a favourite of mine and why it means a lot to me.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I would just love to have a readership that gets something out of my writing because it makes them think and feel. I would love to introduce new readers to psychological fiction. I believe that every writer eventually finds his or her audience, however large or small it is.

If you weren’t a writer, what do you think you’d be doing?

I would be an independent ESL/EFL tutor and teacher. I did some of that a few years ago through a company and I loved it. I wasn’t just helping non-native English speakers with their English, I was learning about their world and their culture. It was very fascinating to me.

What are your interests outside of writing and reading?

Part of my love of classics includes classic films. I adore watching classic films. I also love to cook and discover new recipes.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a series called the Waxwood series set in a Northern California resort town that revolves around crumbling relationships among a wealthy San Francisco family. The series was originally a novel I wrote about 12 years ago in three different narratives that I felt would work better as a series. Book one is called The Order of Actaeon. I’m doing revisions on it with the help of my critique group and I hope to get it out to an editor soon. I’m working on the first draft of the second book, The Claustrophobic Heart. I’m also working on another book called House of Masks which I started during National Novel Writing Month last year.

What are you reading at the moment?

I like to read several books at once. I’m reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Lewis Stevenson, which I’ve always wanted to read. I’m also almost through with Death in Venice and Other Stories by Thomas Mann, which, as I mentioned earlier, has been mind-blowing to me. And I’m also reading a biography about Zelda Fitzgerald called Zelda Fitzgerald: Her Voice in Paradise.

To find out more about Tam, visit her website or sign up for her newsletter. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Gnarled Bones is available to buy now.

Will you be reading Gnarled Bones? Let me know in the comments below!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Print is the Word: Literary Inspired Art & Giveaway (CLOSED)

Like many book-lovers out there, I love discovering new bookish products and designs to fill my home. I recently redecorated my room, which gave me the perfect opportunity to get creative and search out some gorgeous literary inspiration.

This research made me fall in love with some of the most stunning literary-inspired art and quote prints out there. As I have neither the money nor space to buy them all, I've picked out a few of my favourites to share with you!

The Secret Garden

Simple but striking, this super stylish quote print features the wise words of author Frances Hodgson Burnett - "If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden".

Ideal for those who love gardening as much as books, this print is the perfect addition to a minimalist design.

Alice in Wonderland

There are many Alice in Wonderland inspired prints and pieces of artwork out there, but this is one of the best I've seen. It's eye-catching and bold, with a special kind of charm all of its own.

It's vintage and whimsical, printed directly onto an original page from the book. No two prints are exactly the same, meaning that each one is completely unique!

Peter Pan

I have a major crush on Bookishly products (so much so that I - unsuccessfully - applied to work there a while back) and this Peter Pan canvas is one of the best.

The print features the famous quote, "second to the right, and straight on till morning," against a gorgeous backdrop of the starry night sky.

Edgar Allan Poe

Print, Art, Inspiration, Books, Literary, Bookish, Edgar Allan Poe, Quote, Not on the High Street, Fable and Black, The Writing Greyhound, Lorna Holland

This spooky Halloween themed quote is taken from Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven and Other Poems.

It's quirky and original, offering a more modern option than some of my other picks. Its bold colours and comic graphics are sure to make it stand out, wherever you chose to put it.

Winnie the Pooh

Last but not least, we come to Winnie the Pooh. This classic and much-loved children's character is the perfect addition to the home, and this stunning print is one of my favourites. Printed directly onto a vintage page from a Pooh book, this quote reads, "I knew when I met you an adventure was going to happen". It's sweet, touching, and would make the ideal gift.

If you love this Winnie the Pooh quote print as much as I do, you're in luck, as I have one to give away to one lucky reader. Simply enter via the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions:
1. Giveaway closes on 22nd January 2017 at 11.59pm (GMT).
2. The prize consists of one Winnie the Pooh print as seen above.
3. This giveaway is open to residents of the UK aged 18 and over.
4. The winner will be randomly generated once the giveaway has ended.
5. The winner will be informed by email once the giveaway has ended.
6. The winner will have 72 hours to claim their prize. If the winner has not responded by this time, another winner will be announced.

Which of my picks is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, 13 January 2017

Interview: Piers Anthony

Author Piers Anthony is stopping by the blog today for a chat about his writing world. Enjoy!

Hi, Piers! Who are your favourite authors?

If I lost my memory and had my choice of reading matter, I hope my favourite would be Piers Anthony. I try to write what I would like to read. As for other authors, I have admired many in the Science Fiction and Fantasy fields, from Robert A Heinlein on down. I am also an admirer of the plays of George Bernard Shaw, and not just because he was a vegetarian.

What's the best thing about being a writer?

For me, the best thing is getting to exercise my imagination and being independent. I can’t be fired for someone else’s mistakes.

What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?

It used to be dealing with publishers, who were like insensitive robots interested only in money, regardless what they claimed. But the old order is passing and the new publishers I am dealing with are generally more compatible. Some of them even like good fiction. So now the hardest thing is facing the prospect of my declining ability with advancing age. I’m not capable of simply letting it go and retiring. So when I no longer write well, I hope I am the first, not the last to know it.

Interview, Piers Anthony, Service Goat, Dreaming Big Publications, Author, Writer, Lorna Holland, The Writing Greyhound

What are your thoughts on self-publishing versus traditional publishing?

I approve of self-publishing. In the old days only about one aspiring writer in a hundred could ever get anything published. That led to bigger sales for the one percent and tough luck for the 99%. I prefer that every writer has a chance. That’s why I have worked to make self-publishing possible for anyone, notably by my early investment in Xlibris – I am no longer connected – and my ongoing survey of electronic publishers. The playing field will probably never be level, but it’s better than it was. Traditional publishers had dictatorial power for over a century. Now it’s the writers’ turn.

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

I needed to decide on my college major. I pondered a day and a night, and it came to me: I wanted to be a writer. It was like a light turning on and it has guided me ever since.

Do your family support your writing career?

My wife supported me. She went to work so I could stay home and try to be a writer. That was when I broke through with my first story sale – for $20. But it led to greater things, in time.

Interview, Piers Anthony, Service Goat, Dreaming Big Publications, Author, Writer, Lorna Holland, The Writing Greyhound

What's your favourite line from a movie?

Great lines in movies are myriad, but it’s the quiet personal ones that get to me the most that others may not even notice. There was one whose title I don’t remember, where a man, a widower, got a girlfriend he was considering marrying. His early teen daughter lived with him. When the woman made them a meal, the man told the teen to do the dishes. The girlfriend intervened. “No, she doesn’t have to do that. I’ll do it.” Why? “She’s your daughter and I want her to like me.” That disarming candour surely ensured that the girl would like the woman.

What do you like to snack on while you write?

I maintain my college weight, and I exercise seriously. I don’t eat between meals. I’m pretty fit for my age, pushing 82, and mean to stay that way.

What is the funniest thing you’ve been asked during an interview?

At the moment I’m not thinking of anything funny in an interview. But I was amused by a sentence in my fan mail: “Ha! Caught you reading fan mail!” 

Sometimes I do learn things from my fan mail .

I had a suicidally depressive girl in one of my novels (Virtual Mode, if you must know) who regularly cut her wrists so that they bled. So she wore red bands on her wrists to conceal the blood. A reader wrote that I had it wrong: blood dries black, so she needed black wristlets. I suspect she spoke from experience.

Piers Anthony's latest book, Service Goat, is available to buy now.

Will you be reading the book? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Spotlight & Giveaway (CLOSED): Into the Americas by Lance & James Morcan

Regular readers of the blog may remember that I recently collaborated with father-son writing duo Lance and James Morcan to promote their novel White Spirit. As that post proved to be such a success, today we're teaming up again to tell you about another of their novels - Into the Americas.

The novel is a tale of two vastly different cultures – Indigenous North American and European civilisation – colliding head on. It also has a strong romantic subplot.

It has been described as:

"A Romeo and Juliet story set in the wilderness."

Spotlight, Giveaway, Into the Americas, Lance and James Morcan, Books, Cover, The Writing Greyhound, Lorna Holland

Nineteen-year-old blacksmith John Jewitt is one of only two survivors after his crewmates clash with the fierce Mowachaht tribe in the Pacific Northwest. A life of slavery awaits John and his fellow survivor, a belligerent American sailmaker, in a village ruled by the iron fist of Maquina, the all-powerful chief. Desperate to taste freedom again, they make several doomed escape attempts over mountains and sea. Only their value to the tribe and John’s relationship with Maquina prevents their captors from killing them.

As the seasons' pass, John ‘goes Indian’ after falling in love with Eu-stochee, a beautiful maiden. This further alienates him from his fellow captive whose defiance leads to violent consequences. In the bloodshed that follows, John discovers another side to himself – a side he never knew existed and a side he detests. His desire to be reunited with the family and friends he left behind returns even stronger than before.

The stakes rise when John learns Eu-stochee is pregnant. When a final opportunity to escape arises, he must choose between returning to civilisation or staying with Eu-stochee and their newborn son.

Into the Americas is available to buy now.

Lance and James have kindly offered an ecopy of the book to one lucky reader. Simply enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions:
  1. Giveaway closes on 18th January 2017 at 11.59pm (GMT).
  2. The prize consists of one ecopy of Into the Americas by Lance and James Morcan.
  3. Upon confirmation of the winner's address, the prize will be sent to the winner by the authors, NOT The Writing Greyhound.
  4. This giveaway is open internationally.
  5. The winner will be randomly generated by Rafflecopter once the giveaway has ended.
  6. The winner will be informed by email once the giveaway has ended.
  7. The winner will have 72 hours to claim their prize. If the winner has not responded by this time, another winner will be announced.
Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Interview: Erin A. Jensen

This morning, I have an interview with fantasy author Erin A. Jensen to share with you. Find out all about her writing process and the inspiration behind her books!

Firstly, tell me a little about yourself and your background.

I live in the US in upstate New York with my husband, two teenage sons and a Yorkshire terrier who thinks he's second in the family chain of command. In addition to being a writer and a mother, I'm also a pharmacist. I love to read, can barely function without coffee, and have always dreamed of living by the water.

How did you first become interested in writing?

I first became interested in writing when I was in college. As a pharmacy major, my coursework was mostly math and science. Since that didn't really satisfy my creative artistic side, I picked up a literature or art history class whenever I could fit one into my schedule, and I started writing poetry. Being the introvert that I am, I only shared my writing with a handful of people back then, but the response was always positive.

What draws you to writing fantasy?

Fantasy has always been my favourite genre to read. I love to lose myself in alternate worlds where mythical creatures exist and magic is real and every impossible thing is possible. And I naturally write what I'd love to read.

Tell me about Dream Waters.

Dream Waters is the first book in a series and it's mainly set within a psychiatric facility. Charlie has spent most of his life in mental institutions because he sees the people around him morph into creatures that no one else can see. Unlike the rest of the world, Charlie remembers the Waters that come each night to transport everyone to the Dream World, where they take an another form and live another life. Charlie can see people "flip" to their Dream forms in this world and he has the ability to jump in the Waters and travel to the Dream World.

The story begins when a beautiful new patient is admitted to the facility. Emma is clearly out of her element and terrified to be there. Charlie offers his friendship and protection, and the two patients quickly become inseparable. Charlie soon discovers that Emma's Dream form is shadowed by a monstrous dragon. Each night while Emma dreams of the man who's been banned from visiting her, Charlie searches for the beast in the Dream World hoping to figure out how it's connected to Emma. But when Emma's buried memories begin to surface, Charlie finds more monsters than he bargained for.

How do you get inspiration?

The inspiration for this series came from my interactions with mentally ill individuals during my clinical rotations in pharmacy school. No matter how coherent or rational the patients were, if you looked into their eyes you could see that soul struggling to connect with the world around them. The idea for the story stemmed from my need to understand why some individuals are burdened with such debilitating mental illnesses. I guess it's my fictitious answer to the question "where does that soul exist when the mind holds it captive?"

What’s your writing process?

I think through most of the scenes in my books long before I write them down. I picture it playing out like a movie and envision actual actors playing the parts of my characters. Sometimes before I sit down to write, I'll watch brief YouTube clips of the actors so their voices and mannerisms are clear in my head. I'll also listen to music that sets the tone of the chapter, both before and during writing.

Which authors inspire you?

Stephen King was a huge inspiration. I read an interview he did a long time ago where he mentioned that his scenes played out like movies in his head and he could easily entertain himself with his mental pictures. That wasn't his exact wording, I read it ages ago, but the idea stuck with me. I could always entertain myself with elaborate daydreams that played out like movies. So I guess the concept that I could entertain others with my daydreams came from him. 

 I'm also inspired (like every other author out there) by J.K. Rowling. I was just reading an article about how she was told that she'd never make any money on her "overly long novel about a boy wizard in glasses." She didn't listen to those who told her she couldn't. She just kept believing in herself and chasing her dream, and look where it took her. She's the ultimate inspiration, not just because of the wealth she earned but because she didn't let anyone else's negativity discourage her from following her dreams.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Write every day. Read every day, and not just in your genre. The more you read, the better you'll write. And never let anyone else convince you to give up on your dream. You only get one life. Live it for all its worth!

What’s your all-time favourite book?

Oh gosh, do I have to pick just one? I fell in love with Wuthering Heights when I read it for a Humanities course in college. I skipped the class once because I hadn't read the chapter we'd be discussing (I'd been studying for a chemistry test for that darn major of mine) and I didn't want the class to spoil anything for me! If I'm allowed to pick a second, the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning is my favourite urban fantasy series. I can't select just one book because I adore the whole series.

Where’s your favourite place to write?

Well, my ideal spot would be in my dream house with a window overlooking the water. Until then, it's a desk in my bedroom where I listen to music and transport myself to the Dream World.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Right now, it's to get my books into the hands of readers who will enjoy them. It's a thrill each time I see that my book has found its way to a reader in a new country. Down the road, I would love to make writing my full time job some day. If I could do that and earn enough to afford a waterfront home, I'd be in heaven!

What are your interests outside of writing and reading?

My biggest interest is my family. A day spent with them, sharing a big meal and playing board games or going on a hike (preferably somewhere with waterfalls) or on any sort of vacation is a perfect day. I also love art history and took as many art history classes as I could fit into my schedule in college. And I love going to the movies. I'll sometimes picture my story up on that big screen as the previews play.

What are you currently working on?

I'm currently writing Dream Sight (book 3 in the Dream Waters series).

What are you reading at the moment?

I just finished The Light Between Oceans, which I absolutely loved. And I've started Me Before You. Normally, I like to read a book before watching the movie but I saw Me Before You with a friend, loved the movie and then bought the book.

Dream Waters is available to buy now. To find out more about Erin, visit her website or follow her on Twitter

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Monday, 9 January 2017

Book Review: Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups

Lighthearted humour and modern takes on classic stories are all over the bestseller lists at the moment - just look at my review of the Enid Blyton for Grown-Ups series!

The Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups series, by Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris, has been around for a while but seems to be getting increasingly popular. Thanks to Christmas presents, I've now read four of the books, which I'll briefly talk about individually below. Of course, there are plenty more books in the series, so get browsing and find one which suits you!

How it Works: The Dog

Books, Review, Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups, Jason Hazeley, Joel Morris, How it Works the Dog, The Writing Greyhound, Lorna Holland

How it Works: The Dog is definitely my favourite of the four I have read. Each page bears a short, funny story. a few of which are even laugh out loud hilarious! Hazeley's dry wit, speckled with a fair touch of sarcasm, makes the ideal accurate stories about man's best friend. The stories are made even funnier because they ring true - it's those funny little things every dog does, compiled perfectly into one small book.

Rating: 4 stars

The Ladybird Book of the Meeting

Books, Review, Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups, Jason Hazeley, Joel Morris, The Ladybird Book of the Meeting, The Writing Greyhound, Lorna Holland

The Ladybird Book of the Meeting was also really funny - anyone who has ever worked in an office or corporate environment will instantly recognise many of the situations described with hilarious accuracy within this book's pages. It slyly pokes fun at all the corporate-speak and ridiculous mannerisms often affected by those in the world of business, accompanied by great images which only add to the fun.

Rating: 4 stars

The Ladybird Book of the People Next Door

Books, Review, Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups, Jason Hazeley, Joel Morris, The Ladybird Book of the People Next Door, The Writing Greyhound, Lorna Holland

I'm sorry to say, but The People Next Door fell a bit flat for me. I feel that there was a lot of untapped potential here, as neighbours have always been a great source of comedic material. However, the jokes seemed to be worn rather thin and the humour was sadly lacking here. Still, it's impossible for every book in the series to be spot on, so hopefully, the others are all much better!

Rating: 2 stars

How it Works: The Student

Books, Review, Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups, Jason Hazeley, Joel Morris, How it Works the Student, The Writing Greyhound, Lorna Holland

Better than The People Next Door but not as good as the other two, The Student is nevertheless a solid attempt at finding humour within the stereotypical student lifestyle. Again, I feel that there was some unexplored potential here, as the authors focused very much on the stereotypical student. As a former university student myself, I have to say that I came across very few people who you would describe as the stereotypical student so it would have been nice to have a few more pages dedicated to more widely relatable student-themed fun.

Rating: 3 stars

Have you read any of the funny Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Guest Post: Quick Stories of Substance, for when Life has you on Standby by Rico Lamoureux

We’ve all heard the staggering statistics of how we spend years of our life waiting in lines. From stores to airports, amusement parks to ATMs, you can’t really go anywhere nowadays without having to play the hurry-up-and-wait game.

We do, however, have something to keep us busy during these required times of patience. Pocket-sized devices that allow us access to just about every topic under the sun. And, if you think about it, we’re really at a great time with such mobile entertainment. In the past, one would have to lug around a book if they wanted to broaden their horizons while passing time. And as far as the future - well, the way things are headed - screens will soon be in the lenses of our eyes, with scrolling and clicking becoming a lot more virtual yet physical. Can you imagine what we’re all going to look like in just a few years time? Everyone waving their hands about as if they were orchestra conductors? I mean, sure, eventually advancements will take it even further, to where we’ll be using thought to navigate, but not before some seriously embarrassing mime activity!

So yeah, we’re at a pretty good time right now, but just because there’s a sea of content at our fingertips doesn’t mean it’s easy to find great reading material. In fact, it can be rather difficult to come across something with substance, more times than not spending that waiting time scrolling through fluff and not really getting anywhere.

I saw this lack of great content as an opportunity to do something special. Being known for my dramatic novellas, this is where my concentration lay for several years, choosing not to be one of those authors who just blogs about what they’re peddling at any given time. I mean, yes, I was sure to let the world know via social media when I had a new release, but personally speaking I didn’t want to be one of the countless who clogs the internet with nothing but self-promotion. It was for this reason I hadn’t kept a regular blog going, believing there were already far too many doing that job.

But a few months back, an idea occurred to me. The thought of how everyone has to deal with the waiting game, and nowadays, in most cases, this means scrolling through endless rubbish to pass time. Suggest a book to someone, the most common reply would be, “Oh, I just don’t have time.” And yet they have time to wait!

In reality, what they don’t have time for are long reads. Human beings have always been drawn to storytelling, it’s part of who we are. But traditionally speaking, this involves setting aside time in order to enjoy. But what if great stories could be read and finished in the amount of time it took to get through a line or two?

Naysayers will argue that these types of stories are too quick, not being long enough to really resonate with the reader, and in most cases I would agree. But it really all comes down to the skill and craft of the storyteller, and folks, as a person who has dedicated their life to this particular niche, as well as a grand lover of story myself, I can honestly say that the blog of short stories of substance I’ve recently started is indeed a place where someone can come to get a great read in a short period of time.

Like my novellas, these tales do not all centre around one genre, but instead simply focus on the universal love of a great story. And who are they written for? Anyone who considers themselves an open-minded human being, for when we ponder we realise, and when we realise, we have an enlightening moment.

This, my friends, is what The Flash Fiction Ponder is all about.

About Rico Lamoureux

Author Rico Lamoureux has written over a dozen novellas and numerous short stories. His autobiography, Power of the Pen, is available now.

Do you enjoy reading short stories? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, 6 January 2017

Interview: Rick Moss

Today it is my pleasure to host the author Rick Moss on The Writing Greyhound, talking about his life, his writing, and his latest novel Tellers.

Firstly, tell me a little about yourself and your background.

I grew up, along with two tolerant older brothers, in rural and suburban Maryland, which had and continues to have a tinge of the South affecting its general liberal-minded population. We witnessed a lot of racial disharmony in Baltimore in the ‘60s, and to see that the pain and anger carries on there to this day is terribly disturbing. But I digress.

I took to drawing and painting at a young age and studied visual arts of all kinds through college. I found work as a video editor and producer, at a point forming a small design firm and, ultimately, launching a business web publication with the help of two talented partners. In short, I’ve picked up whatever skills were necessary to get on in my work and always enjoy taking on new challenges, but the need to create things has motivated all else.

How did you first become interested in writing?

With the growth of our web publication, it became necessary for me to do a lot of business writing and reporting, so I learned the craft.

In 2007, I was taken with the passing of Kurt Vonnegut and began writing an essay that played off one of his half-serious world-altering ideas. But the essay kept expanding in unexpected directions. At a point, I realised a novel would be the best platform for the ideas, so I plotted out the narrative. My first draft was over 700 pages. I hired an editor who took me to school on everything I had done wrong. I spent two more years rewriting and produced Ebocloud, my first published novel.

Ebocloud is the story of a utopian social media movement that spurs a step forward (ostensibly) in human evolution. Ebocloud may have gotten more interest among the scientific community than with fiction-lovers, but to my delight, it was picked up for a Duke University course on augmented reality in fiction and read by students alongside William Gibson’s Neuromancer.

Tell me about Tellers.

Tellers concerns the close-knit residents of a small farming collective who suffer a tragic loss and seek comfort - and perhaps forgiveness - by telling their stories. We hear the tales voiced by the individual characters, flashing back between chapters to learn about the events that led to the tragedy.

What made you decide on the unusual format of Tellers?

Tellers is, in effect, a set of inter-related short stories, stitched together by, and supportive of, an overarching narrative. In other words, it’s a novel/anthology hybrid. I can’t say that I set out to take on such a difficult task - it grew organically out of the need to express a lot of ideas that all play toward a few core themes: the dissolution of family and society; our disassociation with nature and reliance on technology; and the role of artists, free-thinkers and utopians in pushing humanity forward.

How did you get inspiration?

I was researching innovative design concepts for inner cities (just poking around for ideas) and happened across a short book on the MOVE tragedy that took place in Philadelphia in 1985. MOVE was a radical green political group founded by John Africa (born Vincent Leaphart) in 1972. Africa and his extended “family” of followers believed that society’s ills and, in particular, the struggles of Black people in America, stemmed from our separation from natural processes. Africa taught a return to a hunter-gatherer society while voicing opposition to science, medicine and technology. The MOVE lifestyle, in other words, was at odds with living in inner-city Philadelphia and the group had a number of run-ins with the police, some violent.

By 1985, the conflict had come to a head. The MOVE family barricaded themselves in their row house. In an ill-conceived effort to end the stand-off, the Philadelphia police firebombed the home, killing all but two of the MOVE family and igniting a firestorm that destroyed a large swath of homes. The essay I read proposed a solution for rebuilding the homes in a way that would support a healthier social environment.

My head was spinning. I could see the MOVE tragedy as a microcosm of so many problems that plague modern life. And because of the kaleidoscopic swirl of influences, I imagined not just one but a set of distinct voices exploring these themes from their unique perspectives.

What’s your writing process?

I don’t recommend my process - it’s anything but efficient. (Tellers took me nearly six years to complete.) My fiction-writing time is limited to off-hours, so I write in bursts. I tend to dive headlong into the story at any point that offers an entry point. Later, once the overall plot comes into focus, I sketch out a chronological outline and begin rearranging what I’ve written. I’m also an obsessive editor, so after writing only a few paragraphs, I double back to begin reworking. It’s a confounding process, but I love every minute of it.

What’s the hardest thing about writing?

The toughest challenge for me is perhaps keeping the broad objectives of the project in mind while buried in the minute details. Often what should be an inconsequential story thread lassos me and drags me off on a tangent. I have a great time and can’t imagine the reader not following me off on some darling side adventure. Later, I man-up and “slay my darlings.” It’s sad. I love my darlings.

What do you love most about writing?

I’ve worked with painting, printmaking, photography, animation — on and on. Writing is unique in that the scope of your expressive product is limited only by your skills. There are no boundaries — no edges to the canvas. You can write about anything, from the point of view of anyone, set in any era, and in any setting. I believe art is the highest aspiration of the human race and that language is the most versatile tool in pursuing those ends. And so what I love most about writing is the freedom it offers.

Which authors inspire you?

The aforementioned Kurt Vonnegut is my singular hero. He was able to uncover our most damnable and dumbfounding qualities with a depth of humour that can only come from recognition of life’s absurdity. And yet, despite his cynicism, he was an unyielding humanist. To read stories that can balance all those traits is quite inspiring. David Foster Wallace and George Saunders rank right up there for me in this regard, as well.

When it comes to improving my craftsmanship, I look to Doris Lessing, Elmore Leonard, Franz Kafka, Faulkner and Hemingway.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
  • Be humble. When you think you’re getting somewhere, remind yourself that you don’t know diddly. 
  • Accept that nothing you write is beyond sacrifice for the overall good. 
  • Never give up. Good writing doesn’t come cheap — you need to spend years, if not decades, at it.
What’s your all-time favourite book?

This question is causing me pain. I feel like I’m being asked which of my daughters I favour. In support of my gushing praise of Vonnegut, I’m going to go with Slaughterhouse-Five, a book that’s got everything I could possibly ask for. But please also put Moby Dick, Ulysses, The Illiad, Infinite Jest, Gravity’s Rainbow, 1984 and Valis in my suitcase before shipwrecking me on that desert island.

Where’s your favourite place to write?

I’m perfectly content working on the couch in my Brooklyn apartment but, often as I sit here, I imagine myself on a bench in nearby Prospect Park.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Realistically speaking, to bring enrichment to as many people as I can - and in the scheme of things, a few thousand readers would suffice. Money doesn’t really play into that objective at all. And yet, if I could make a modest income from fiction writing, it could make the rest of my life a heck of a lot more satisfying. But I don’t kid myself. This is not the right time in human history to make a living as a writer.

If you weren’t a writer, what do you think you’d be doing?

Painting more - big canvases, huge brushes, buckets and buckets of gobby acrylic.

What are your interests outside of writing and reading?

My wife and I are movie-obsessed. Being in New York City makes it all too easy to spend lots of time feeding our habit. It’s a great joy sharing those experiences with her in those dark rooms. (Yes, I’m still talking about movies.) And, as discussed, I like to throw paint around when I’m able.

What are you currently working on?

My third novel, which is still at Stage One. I’m spitting out story fragments with somewhat vague metaphysical themes swimming in my head. As with Tellers, this one will also tell stories from different vantage points. I can’t say more. The embryo hasn’t formed features yet.

What are you reading at the moment?

Oblivion - a book of short stories by David Foster Wallace, and a pile of small poetry volumes that we recently won in a raffle at a reading.

Where can my readers go to find out more about you and your work?

The Tellers website, my Amazon author page, or my Goodreads author page.

Tellers is available to buy now.

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!