18 January 2018

Historical Fiction Spotlight ~ Daughters of the Night Sky, by Aimie K. Runyan

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

A novel—inspired by the most celebrated regiment in the Red Army—about a woman’s sacrifice, courage, and love in a time of war.

Russia, 1941. Katya Ivanova is a young pilot in a far-flung military academy in the Ural Mountains. From childhood, she’s dreamed of taking to the skies to escape her bleak mountain life. With the Nazis on the march across Europe, she is called on to use her wings to serve her country in its darkest hour. Not even the entreaties of her new husband—a sensitive artist who fears for her safety—can dissuade her from doing her part as a proud daughter of Russia.

After years of arduous training, Katya is assigned to the 588th Night Bomber Regiment—one of the only Soviet air units composed entirely of women. The Germans quickly learn to fear nocturnal raids by the daring fliers they call “Night Witches.” But the brutal campaign will exact a bitter toll on Katya and her sisters-in-arms. When the smoke of war clears, nothing will ever be the same—and one of Russia’s most decorated military heroines will face the most agonizing choice of all.

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About the Author

Aimie K. Runyan writes to celebrate history’s unsung heroines. She is the author of two previous historical novels: Promised to the Crown and Duty to the Crown. She is active as an educator and a speaker in the writing community and beyond. She lives in Colorado with her wonderful husband and two (usually) adorable children. To learn more about Aimie and her work, please visit www.aimiekrunyan.com and follow her on Twitter @aimiekrunyan

15 January 2018

Book Review ~ Copycat by Alex Lake

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

When an old friend gets in touch, Sarah Havenant discovers that there are two Facebook profiles in her name. One is hers. The other, she has never seen. But everything in it is accurate. Photos of her friends, her husband, her kids. Photos from the day before. Photos of her new kitchen. Photos taken inside her house.

I've always felt a little uneasy about sharing personal details on Facebook - but what would you do if you found someone had stolen your Facebook identity?  It seems there is little you can do unless you can prove criminal intent. This is how Copycat, the latest thriller from author Alex Lake begins.

It's great to find a book you can't put down. Fast paced and innovative, the plot kept me guessing about how it would all end. The apparent lack of motive is a clever device that keeps up the mystery as the unfortunate Sarah struggles to understand events which become increasingly impossible to explain.

To make things worse, everyone around her, including her husband and the police, begin thinking these are all symptoms of escalating paranoia. She has no idea who would be doing this to her or why, so begins to suspect everyone.

I would have expected a qualified medical doctor to have been a little sharper than Sarah Havenant and I spotted some errors, such as wrong names used, which is odd for a commercially published novel. These were minor issues though as Copycat is one of the best thrillers I've read for a long time - highly recommended.

Tony Riches  

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About the Author

Alex Lake is the pseudonym of a British novelist whose first book was one of Amazon UK's top ten debuts of 2012. Alex was born in the North West of England in the 1970s and now lives in  in Brunswick, Maine. You can follow Alex Lake on Twitter @Alexlakeauthor 

14 January 2018

Why You Should Consider Writing a Trilogy #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

For most writers, completing one book would seem more than enough of an achievement, so why would anyone make a commitment to writing three?  

There are real benefits of tackling any story as a trilogy and now I’ve written one I’m convinced it’s something any novelist should consider. The scope of a trilogy offers writers a liberating sense of space and freedom, as ideas hinted at in the first book can be developed and explored over the rest. This means the writer has space to explore the complexity of relationships that evolve over time, as well as the shifting social, political and economic context over years – or even generations, offering readers a more ‘immersive’ experience.

There are also practical and commercial considerations. If you follow the fashion for longer books, you have one opportunity to sell it and the promotion can only begin once it’s available for pre-order. I was able to promote book one of my Tudor trilogy while writing book two (and it became a best-seller in the UK, US and Australia.)  Readers began contacting me to ask when the next book would be available and I soon built an international reader base for the trilogy.

Similarly, although each book works as a ‘stand-alone’, I’ve seen evidence in my sales that even people who read them in the wrong order tend to buy the others. I also hadn’t realised Amazon (and other retailers) are happy to promote and market a trilogy (or any series) as a discounted single purchase, which is good value for readers and means your books are more likely to be ‘discovered’.
Finally, a trilogy offers a framework for developing work on an ‘epic’ scale. 

I realised there were countless novels about the court of King Henry VIII and his six wives, yet I could find almost nothing about the early Tudors who founded the dynasty. The idea for The Tudor Trilogy was that King Henry VIII’s father could be born in book one, ‘come of age’ in book two, and rule England in book three, so there would be plenty of scope to explore his life and times.

The first book of the trilogy was my fourth novel, so I had a good idea about the structure. In book one, OWEN, a Welsh servant of Queen Catherine of Valois, the lonely widow of King Henry V, falls in love with her and they marry in secret. Their eldest son Edmund Tudor marries the thirteen year-old heiress Lady Margaret Beaufort, and fathers a child with her to secure her inheritance. The birth of her son, Henry, nearly kills her, and when her husband dies mysteriously, his younger brother Jasper Tudor swears to protect them.

In book two, JASPER, they flee to exile in Brittany and plan to one day return and make Henry King of England. King Richard III has taken the throne and has a powerful army of thousands – while Jasper and Henry have nothing. Even the clothes they wear are paid for by the Duke of Brittany. So how can they possibly invade England and defeat King Richard at the Battle of Bosworth?

In the final book of the trilogy, HENRY, I explore how he brought peace to England by marrying Elizabeth of York, the beautiful daughter of his enemy, King Edward IV. The Tudor trilogy offers me the scope and depth to help readers understand how Henry’s second son became King Henry VIII, the tyrant who transformed the history of England forever. 

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.

12 January 2018

Special Guest Interview with Adam Kluger Author of Desperate Times: Short Stories

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Desperate Times: Short Stories, is a compendium of previously published flash fiction and short stories by Adam Kluger, inspired by the works of Bukowski, Hemingway, Fante, Mamet, Salinger & Fitzgerald., Desperate Times is also an eye into the American culture. Published by Belphegor Editions, edited by Whiskey Down Press, Desperate Times was inspired by the likes of Bukowski and Hemingway, to name a few. 

Today I'm pleased to welcome author Adam Kluger:

Why did you choose Bukowski? 

There are a lot of reasons. The humor, the honesty, the accessibility. When you find a writer that speaks to you-- like music - you just really appreciate it. Bukowski deserves all the love he gets. His writing delivers. Post Office, Women, Love is a Dog From Hell, Barfly, Ham on Rye, Hollywood and pretty much every book he ever wrote-- I've read them all and will keep re-reading them. The prose, the poetry - so good. His film with Barbet Schroeder- The Bukowski Tapes is just amazing. I could watch it over and over. Bukowski revered and promoted John Fante, who was also a terrific writer. Bukowski, to his credit also had the courage to criticize many of the literary world's over-rated writers--as being pompous and unreadable --which was criticism that was frankly long overdue.

What about Hemingway?  

Same thing. Hemingway knew how to write beautiful, sparse prose and he delivered. I loved his Iceberg theory and his other theories on writing. The Old Man And The Sea is a classic but so too are most of his short stories like The Killers, A Well Lighted Place and The Three Day Blow.  I also really enjoyed his Green Hills of Africa. An important writer.


Catcher in The Rye. Masterpiece. Franny and Zooey also praise-worthy. And his Nine Stories. Salinger was a good short story writer. A Perfect Day for Bananafish was powerful and memorable.

F. Scott Fitzgerald? 

Love Fitzgerald. So good. So talented. Gatsby was brilliant but his short stories were also worthy of notice from Bernice Bobs Her Hair to a Diamond as Big as the Ritz to the hilarious Pat Hobby Stories. To become the voice of a generation means you're pretty good.

What is Guy Lit?

A label. People come up with labels.  Who knows why? The truth of the matter is that Desperate Times is simply a collection of flash fiction and short stories about male protagonists who find themselves facing various conflicts. These stories do owe quite a bit to the rich American short story traditions that these previously mentioned literary giants (Bukowski, Hemingway) have already set forth. It's hard not to be inspired by their books and advice on writing. One modern writer I love just for his understanding of dialogue is David Mamet. Glengarry Glen Ross, Hurly Burly, Speed The Plow. Doesn't matter if you are writing for the stage or a short story. Great dialogue is great dialogue.

Who are your other literary heroes? 

Melville and Kerouac have all impacted me in various ways. How can you not read Moby Dick over and over and over and marvel at the timeless poetry within? Oscar Wilde's gorgeous use of description in his short stories is almost like that of a painter. Capote's facility with language at such a young age, Kerouac's exuberant jazz-like explorations, O'Henry's incredible sense of humor and use of Twain-like twists of phrasing. There are so many incredible American short story writers. My hope is that folks who pick up Desperate Times might also decide to explore America's great short story traditions.

Any other short story writers that have caught your attention? 

James Joyce, I love Dubliners which I just came across recently at a book fair in Kent, Ct. Joyce's writing style is such a pleasure to read and his ability to deliver a meaningful and resonant short story is so impressive.  While not a short story, I was greatly impressed recently by the classic French coming of age novel The Wanderer by Henri Alain Fournier. Also, I'm just now digging into the collected stories of Guy De Maupassant and was immediately blown away by the sheer beauty and profundity of  Moonlight. I also picked up a dog-eared copy of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, which I've often wanted to read. It has a weird, unsettling, mythic quality to it due to the way that Anderson incorporates dreams with character sketches. Reminds me a bit of the feeling you get watching Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks.

Adam Kluger

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About the Author

Adam Kluger is a New York City writer and artist and distant cousin of famed British sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein. Kluger attended the same high school as Jack Kerouac and draws inspiration from diverse literary sources that include Charles Bukowski, John Fante, Ernest Hemingway, and Herman Melville as well as artists Jean Dubuffet, Andy Warhol, Bob Ross, Eric Payson, and Pablo Picasso. Kluger is one of the leaders of New York's growing Anti-Art movement. Kluger has had over fifty short-stories published by various literary magazines and literary-arts outlets in the U.S., U.K., and Ireland.Adam is a proud dad and a terrible golfer who credits his current literary and art-world success to hard work, a willingness to completely ignore all the rules and the kindness and unflagging support of family and friends. Find out more at https://literallystories2014.com/artists/adam-kluger/

11 January 2018

Book Spotlight: For the Winner, Book 2 of 3 in the Golden Apple Trilogy Series by Emily Hauser

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Some three thousand years ago, in a time before history, the warriors of Greece journeyed to the ends of the earth in the greatest expedition the world had ever seen. One woman fought alongside them.

Abandoned at birth on the slopes of Mount Pelion, Atalanta is determined to prove her worth to the father who cast her aside. Having taught herself to hunt and fight, and disguised as a man, she wins a place on the greatest voyage of that heroic age: with Jason and his band of Argonauts in search of the legendary Golden Fleece.

And it is here, in the company of men who will go down in history as heroes, that Atalanta must battle against the odds – and the will of the gods – to take control of her destiny and change her life forever.

With her unrivalled knowledge and captivating storytelling, Emily Hauser brings alive an ancient world where the gods can transform a mortal’s life on a whim, where warriors carve out names that will echo down the ages . . . and where one woman fights to determine her own fate.

'Kept me utterly absorbed. Here is a heroine to cheer for and a book to cherish.' Margot Livesey, author of THE HOUSE ON FORTUNE STREET and THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY

'Hauser recreates one of the oldest tales in Greek myth with great skill and panache.' Sunday Times

'Fascinating and innovative . . . Filled with intellectual erudition, passion and unparalleled imagination.' Antony Makrinos, Fellow in Classics at UCL

'A brilliant, epic tale full of breath-taking action . . . This gem of a book will leave you desperate for the next Emily Hauser novel.' Crystal King, author of FEAST OF SORROW 

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About the Author

Born in Brighton and brought up in Suffolk, Emily Hauser studied Classics at Cambridge, where she was taught by Mary Beard. She then went to Harvard on a Fulbright Scholarship, and now studies and teaches at Yale, where she is completing her PhD. For the Most Beautiful – the first book in a trilogy based on the myths of the Golden Apples – is her debut novel. Find out more on Emily’s website, and follow her on Twitter @ehauserwrites. 

Special Guest Post by Ralph Webster, Author of One More Moon: Goodbye Mussolini! One Woman's Story of Fate and Survival

Available for per-order from Amazon UK and Amazon US
Scheduled for release on February 28 2018

Goodreads Choice Nominee Ralph Webster tells the true story of his grandmother’s desperate journey from her life at the Pensione Alexandra in Naples to America - after Mussolini and the Fascists join with Hitler - and as countries across the world close their doors to Jewish refugees fleeing the spread of Nazi evil.

Whose voice?  A woman’s or a man’s?

This past week I was asked “how was writing One More Moon different from what I’d experienced when I wrote my last book?”  It’s a curious question - one that I find myself reflecting upon now that One More Moon is finished and I sit here not so patiently awaiting its release.  I can’t say I was overly conscious of this question when I was writing.  So now I ask myself had I considered the difference, had I recognized its significance, what would I have changed?  I am not big on second guessing.  What’s done is done.  Would it have changed the way I wrote One More Moon?

Old habits are hard to break.  At my age I am sure that I don’t change too much.  I like my chair and my desk.  I didn’t change the way I approached the writing  - the way I researched, my daily routine, the thought process - that all stayed the same.  I always take my craft seriously.  Even though this was a different story, little else in the process changed.  I still had the same sleepless nights when it seemed my head would burst with all the thoughts looking for a way out.  I still struggled to get the words on paper.  My emotions ran high and low.  My editor never asked about the difference.  Only one initial reviewer noticed.  I suppose that gave me a moment’s pause, but then I shrugged it off, and never gave it much more thought.

I realize now that it’s very obvious.  It was part of each and every word.  The difference?  My first book, A Smile in One Eye, is told by a man, my father.  Then I tried to put myself into my father’s head and explain his world from a man’s perspective.  My new book, One More Moon, is told by a woman, my grandmother.  This time I had to find her voice, understand the world from her vantage point, and speak the words she would have said. 

I was so focused on their journeys - so entirely different, one from Germany, the other from Italy, both grown, but at different ages in life, and from different sides of my family.  I remain convinced that they shared many of the same difficulties and emotions - the anguish, the loss, the confusion, the uncertainty, the isolation, the fears, the unknown, the way others reacted.  Yet, I don’t think I stopped and tried to express these emotions differently just because one was a man and the other a woman.  I didn’t instinctively prepare or choose male words and female words or male voices and female voices.  I simply was unaware of that nuance.  And, quite honestly, I really don’t want there to be one, at least one that’s recognizable.  My aim was to portray and project the individual characters as I knew them.  More than anything else, I wanted them to be real, true, and intimately known by the reader.

Now I wonder how readers will react.  Is there a commercial aspect to all of this?  Do readers prefer books written in a woman’s voice versus a man’s?  Did I make these characters authentic?  Should I have used a different pen name?  Will their voices stand up to the scrutiny of my readers?  When put to paper, what does distinguish a man’s voice from a woman’s?  Is there a stereotype one is supposed to follow? 

As One More Moon rolls out in the coming weeks and months I am sure I will learn many of the answers.  Readers have a way of being very direct in their observations.  They will tell me the answers.  Now I am just curious.

Ralph Webster 
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About the Author

Award winning author Ralph Webster received worldwide acclaim for his first book, A Smile in One Eye: A Tear in the Other, which tells the story of his father’s flight from the Holocaust. Voted by readers as a Goodreads 2016 Choice Awards Nominee for Best Memoir/Autobiography, A Smile in One Eye: A Tear in the Other and his second book, One More Moon, are proven book club selections for thought-provoking and engaging discussions. Whether in person or online, Ralph welcomes and values his exchanges with readers and makes every effort to participate in conversations about his books. Now retired, he lives with his wife, Ginger, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Please contact Ralph to schedule via Skype or in person for your book club. Find out more at Ralph's website