My Sore Hush-a-Bye: The Kindle Book Review’s 2013 Best Indie Book Awards Semifinalist!

I’’m not having much time to blog lately, but even if I had, I probably wouldn’’t. That’’s because I have Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and bursitis in both my arms and shoulders so typing causes some pain.

Actually, sometimes it causes a hell of pain…

But it’’s a manageable condition, meaning that, as long as I don’t use my arms much, or use them with caution, it doesn’’t hurts that much. I’’ve had to take a lot of painkillers last month –which I hate– but I really had no option. I’m feeling better today, however, so I decided to finally post something new.

Well, I had unbelievably good news on July 1st, and still didn’’t brag about share with you.. My Sore Hush-a-Bye is one of The Kindle Book Review’s 2013 Best Indie Book Awards Semifinalist!!!!! Check it out: (Category – Literary Fiction)

http://www.thekindlebookreview.net/2013-book-awards/

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I couldn’’t believe my eyes either. I’’m still so, so happy.

You know when people say at the Oscars that it was such an honor just being nominated, and that it didn’’t matter if they win or not? And then we always think… ‘Yeah, right!’ Well, I finally understand. It is true. It’’s so crazy just being nominated, just being there with other amazing books as a semifinalist, that I really get them.

I’’m not even dreaming about passing to the final 5 finalists (there’s some serious competition, check out the other semifinalists!), but reading my book’’s name on July first was already a prize to me. Seriously.

So now it’’s waiting time, until September, when they’’ll announce the finalists.

I want to thank some people so much. People that encouraged me in my writing, and gave me reason to believe My Sore Hush-a-Bye stood a chance in this competition. A lot of people, actually, but especially Becky, Chasity, Maria and Martha. You are amazing, and there aren’’t enough words in my humble vocabulary to thank you. Be sure you all have a designed spot in my heart!

Meanwhile, I’m still ‘working on a new novel called Myself in Blue’. It will happen, someday, but of course, it’’s difficult with the typing-pain problem… I haven’’t been able to write much, but the story is in my head. It will eventually come out. I already have the cover though! Maybe I’’ll share it in my next post. 🙂

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Spotlight on Scott Cairns – Interview with Author of ‘Silver’

Scott Cairns is a new author that was recommended by Yvvette Edwards when I interviewed her a while ago. This is a tremendous recommendation, let me tell you.

His debut novel, ‘Silver’ has made it through to the quarter finals (final 500 of 10000) of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award this week.

So, let’s learn more about him and his work!

Please, tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Scott CAuthor Shotairns and I am a self published author from Wokingham. I am married with one daughter. My first novel, ‘Silver’ was published with Createspace in August 2012 and has been shortlisted for the Historical Novel Society Award and is currently one of the quarter final entrants for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013.  I have also written some short stories for teenagers (‘Hogwash & Hooey’) and compiled two further anthologies of Drama Games and Seventeenth Century Comedy Plays.. The book has some high profile fans including Yvette Edwards, Booker Shortlisted author of ‘A Cupboard Full of Coats’. I chose to self publish after receiving some rather positive but narrow minded reviews from agents. ‘Silver’ centres on the story of a transgendered man (Avery Silver) in Victorian England and how, when his secret is revealed, it devastates but does not destroy his family and reputation. One or two agents where of the opinion that, having read ‘Trumper’ by Jackie Kay, there could not be room for another novel dealing with a transgendered character. By this token, is there no room for Andrea Levy’s ‘The Long Song’ because slavery has already been written about, if ‘Schindlers Ark’ is the pinnacle of Holocaust writing then why did John Boyne write ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas‘? At first, this feedback got me down and I shelved my manuscript but I decided to take the plunge last year and self publish because I really felt that the story of Avery is one that deserved an audience. Inspired by a true story of a Tammany Hall politician who, it was revealed on his death bed in 1901, had been ‘masquerading’ as a woman, the plot is tantalising and the era allows the reader some distance to really see a different side to what is a very contemporary issue.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since I can remember and always dreamed of being able to call myself a novelist. ‘Silver’ is my first completed novel but I have many projects on the go and am currently completing Book 2.

Do you remember the first story you wrote?

The very first story I recall writing was in my junior school for a lovely teacher called Mrs Hallett, it was a fantasy story about an island which had a gauntlet of exciting areas which needed to be surmounted before a glorious prize could be claimed. I was really pleased with it and she was too. It won an award and she tried to get me to send it off to someone but I never did. I was embarrassed about my illustrations!

Can you tell us two eccentricities about yourself?

Try as I might, I cannot write without a soft covered, lined, large Moleskine notebook. I have a collection of over fifty notebooks in various shapes, sizes, covers and papers but I just prefer a Moleskine. This is eccentric as I type all of my work but need a notepad to keep track of family trees, character notes and images I collect to inspire me.

What was the best thing you’ve ever heard (or read) from a reader?

I heard from a reader who chose ‘Silver’ as her Book Club read. The all-female group met in February this year and they all dressed as men to discuss the book. As well as enjoying the book and being very complementary about the writing, I was thrilled to hear that the book had sparked a debate about heritage, gender, sexuality and identity – all key themes from the book. I really felt as if they had got it.

Do you have a good Indie author to recommend?

To my chagrin, I haven’t read any independent authors recently. I have been chairing two book clubs and have been reading traditionally published novels. My favourite has been by ‘The Visitation’ by Jenny Erpenbeck, a german writer whose work has been translated recently so I am unsure of the publisher. The book’s central character is a house and the novel follows the lives of its various occupants whilst within the house’s four walls. Its a chilling and compelling piece of work that touches on the horror of Nazi germany from an entirely new angle. This was a book which I jealously admired and learned from.

Who inspired and/or supported you to become a writer?

I am a huge fan of Sarah Waters, Margarat Atwood and Alice Walker and they are a source of great inspiration to many writers. Most of my favourite novels are written by women. I don’t know why this is but they seem to feel more real somehow. My mum, my wife, my Nanna and my daughter are my own network of support and inspiration, all of whom are immensely proud of my modest achievements and encourage me daily to get on with the next project. I secretly think that they want ‘Silver’ to be made into a film so they can go to the premiere. Who would play Avery? Someone like Jude Law, I think.

Do you have a WIP (Work in progress)? If so, can you tell us a little about it?

I am working on a very contemporary novel at the moment. It is a thriller and that is a huge departure for me as I much prefer the historical novel; both  to read and to write. The central character is a hoarder and I have found it fascinating to research why people become compelled to hoard on such a scale that it becomes an obsession; a dangerous one for my character…!

What is your favorite of your books? Why?

That’s easy as I only have one novel so ‘Silver’ it is!

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What is your favorite of your characters? Why?

I have a huge soft spot for Elizabeth Greenwood. She is feisty, hedonistic and, in some ways, quite a charmless creature but she was the easiest character to write. Her dialogue crackles with a fiery quick wit that I am jealous of and she was a pleasure to write. I have often heard writers who say that sometimes characters write themselves or that they find their stories going in directions they had not imagined and I wondered how this could happen. Well, this happened to me every time I sat down to write Elizabeth.

Do you like to interact online? What’s your favorite social media?

 I love Facebook and find it hard to ‘disconnect’. It is a horrible distraction sometimes and one that writers can ill afford. I do tweet but find it hard to find the point to Twitter.

How do you feel about marketing your books?

This has been an uphill learning curve but an essential one. As a self-published author, there is no marketing department to do this part of the job for you. If you want your book  to be read, then you have to promote it. It’s not terribly British to place yourself on a platform and give people reasons why you think they should spend money on your work. It doesn’t come naturally to me but I am learning about the art of Self Promotion all the time.

Please, give us all your links – where can your readers find you and your books?

‘Silver’ is available from Amazon in Paperback or in eBook format for Kindle.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Silver-ebook/dp/B008X9P37A

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Silver-Scott-Cairns/dp/1479132284/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363367303&sr=8-1

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Scott! Wishing you the best of luck with the Amazon Breakthrough Novel!!

And readers, don’t go anywhere! Stay tuned for the next interview.

  • If you’re an author and want to be in my spotlight, contact me!

My 5 star Review of ‘My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me’, by Amanda Green

I believe I’ve never read a memoir before in my life. I read biographies when I was young — used to love them back then, but never memoirs.

Nevertheless, the moment I read the description of “My Alien Self, My Journey back to me’, by Amanda Green, I wanted to read it.

The journey described is intense, almost brutal at some points. And yet there’s tenderness in the way Amanda tells it all, no holding back—after all, it’s her life; she’s her own main character.

Reading fiction can be easy, even if the subject is difficult, because you have the comfort of knowing it all came from a creative mind; here, however, it all really happened.

This is a tough story, but it’s also about redemption and recovery. It will make you change your pre-conceptions about mental illness, and will certainly help so many people!

Find out more about Amanda Green in my interview with her:

My 5 star Review of ‘Space Orville’, by Jeff Whelan

My daughter and I have just finished reading ‘Space Orville’, by Jeff Whelan. I never read Science Fiction–I have no means to explain why, I love watching Sci-Fi movies and TV shows, but not reading them…go figures! Anyway, my daughter loves reading Sci-Fi, and won a copy of the book as a very generous gift from Jeff Whelan himself, after I interviewed him on my blog. Since I knew it had to be a great book, with so many wonderful reviews, I decided to read it with her, and what a fantastic decision that was!

This book is amazing. Seriously, it was an unforgettable journey.

The attention to detail is remarkable. Everything and every name in the story seem to be thoroughly thought. You keep reading and being pleasantly surprised by Whelan’s ability to create the most unbelievable and bizarre things and people in a way that you simply have to believe. It all makes sense! Just like to Space Orville, the mysteries of the Universe are presented to us. Flabbergasted at first we start to get immerse into this Universe. Suddenly, you are holding your Kindle as if trying to control a spaceship, grinding your teeth as if watching a movie.

The story has it all; laughter, tenderness, suspense, action, everything!

In the final chapters, we were reading really fast to finish and see how it all would end, curiosity taking hold of us. Then, when we finished, we were both hysterical about the great ending and sad because we wanted more! I miss the story already. Actually, I can imagine weekly episodes, toys, lunch boxes, etc about space Orville.

As one reviewer said, how can this not be a Pixar blockbuster yet? Imagine seeing all these characters in big screen (bigger than my mental screen, that is)?

Sara’s Promise – Book Release Blog Tour & Giveaway

I’m so happy to present you this new release today! Deanna is a great, bestselling author, and a wonderful person.

Her new book is Sara’s Promise. The cover looks absolutely gorgeous. Plus, there’s a Giveaway!!!

Sara’s Promise – Deanna Lynn Sletten

 Book Release Button Saras Promise

Book Description:

 

Do you believe in soul mates?

 William Grafton had the perfect life with his lovely wife, Sara, and two teenaged children. But one day his perfect forever was shattered when Sara died suddenly, leaving him alone to raise his children and wonder how he would ever get through life without his soul mate. Five years later, he finds himself looking into a familiar pair of blue-green eyes that remind him of Sara. The woman is the exact opposite of his late wife, yet he finds he is drawn to her. But after a few strange occurrences, he begins to wonder–are these just coincidences or has his Sara come back to him as she once promised in the form of this new woman?

Annie Paxton doesn’t believe in soul mates or fate. She had watched her father die of a broken heart after her mother passed away and has since cast away any fairy tale ideas of love. Then she meets the man who has been haunting her dreams and she begins to see love in a whole new light. But her dream man is still tied to his deceased wife, and Annie doesn’t know if he will ever be able to break away from his past. As strange occurrences unfold, Annie wonders if William could ever truly love her for herself and not for the traits that remind him of Sara.

 Were William and Annie brought together by fate, coincidence or by Sara keeping her promise?

***

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 Book Excerpt:

     During dinner, Sara felt the pressure in her side begin to grow again, but she said nothing. As she loaded the dishwasher, William came into the kitchen to tell her that he and Sammy were going to the driving range to hit a few balls. He didn’t notice how flushed she looked as they rushed out the kitchen door. Only Sammy looked her over twice before reluctantly following his dad.

     Sandy tried one more time to get her mom to agree to allow her to get her nose pierced, but Sara raised her hand in warning and shook her head.

     “Not tonight,” Sara told her. Angry, Sandy stormed up to her room, the words “I hate you” rushing down the stairs at Sara before Sandy slammed her door. But by now, Sara didn’t care. She put the last of the dishes in the dishwasher and practically crawled to the living room sofa, and dropped onto it. The pain had become unbearable again, even worse than it had been before, and she felt completely drained. She was pale with bright spots of red on her cheeks, and her breathing had become increasingly labored.

     This was how Sammy found her when they came home, curled up on the couch, her blue-green eyes glassy in her stark white face. William had gone directly into his den to work, but Sammy wanted to see if his mom was feeling better. Seeing her this way frightened him, and he ran directly to his father’s den.

     “Mom’s really sick. You have to come,” he said, his eyes wide with fear.

     William looked up from his drawing board, frowning in confusion. Sara was fine at dinnertime, surely Sammy was exaggerating. “I’m sure your mother’s fine,” he said calmly. “She’s probably just tired.”

     But Sammy wouldn’t listen to his dad’s excuses. “She’s been sick all day, and she’s really sick now,” he insisted. “Come on!”

     William had no choice but to follow his son into the living room, and when he got there, the site of Sara’s pale, limp form unnerved him.

     “Sara?” he asked gently, crouching down beside the sofa. She turned to him but said nothing. He placed a hand on her forehead and pressed lightly. She was burning up. Panic swelled inside him.

     “I hurt,” Sara said weakly, but the pain was so overwhelming, even talking was excruciating.

     William had never seen his wife so sick before. For one long minute he wavered, debating what to do. Sara took care of them, not the other way around. When Sandy had her tonsils out at age six, it was Sara who’d sat beside her hospital bed all night. When Sammy fell off the swing set when he was three and lay unconscious, it was Sara who had calmly rushed him to the emergency room. She handled all the colds, flus, and illnesses. She was the one who doled out the medications, kept the children’s shots current, and handled all doctor, dentist, and orthodontist appointments. He felt completely lost.

Buy Sara’s Promise on Amazon in Kindle, Paperback and on Barnes & Noble Nook

http://www.deannalynnsletten.com/p/saras-promise.html

 About Deanna Lynn Sletten:

Deanna 9Deanna Lynn Sletten writes women’s fiction novels that go beyond the basic romance novel. Her stories dig deeply into the lives of the characters, giving the reader an in-depth look into their hearts and souls. Deanna has also written one middle-grade novel that takes you on the adventure of a lifetime.

Deanna started her writing career in the early 1990s writing articles for parenting publications and local newspapers. Over time she transitioned to writing for blogs and websites and was a contributing writer for the women’s website, She Knows. In November 2011, she changed course and put all her energy into novel writing and hasn’t looked back since.

Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her northern Minnesota home with her beautiful Australian Shepherd or relaxing in the boat on the lake in the summer.

Connect with Deanna:

Blog   http://www.deannalynnsletten.com

Facebook    https://www.facebook.com/#!/DeannaLSletten

Twitter     https://twitter.com/DeannaLSletten

 Goodreads   http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/555634.Deanna_Lynn_Sletten

Amazon Author Page  http://www.amazon.com/Deanna-Lynn-Sletten/e/B00683SQYK/

Giveaway!

In celebration of Deanna’s new book release she is having a giveaway! Leave a comment on this site to have your name entered in the drawing for one of four prizes: Two $25 Amazon Gift Cards and 2 paperback copies of Sara’s Promise. Be sure to include your email address so we can contact you. You can enter at each site of the blog tour for more chances to win! Giveaway starts December 10th and ends December 17th at midnight. Winners will be contacted December 18th after noon.

Follow the tour schedule here: www.deannalynnsletten.com

My 5 star Review of ‘An Order of Coffee and Tears’, by Brian Spangler

Paperback Edition

Kindle Edition

An order of coffee and tears is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s absolutely glowing in my top ten, and even maybe in my top five. I cried reading the last chapters today on the train, and I can say that not many books made me do that; only three or maybe four so far.

It starts with the covers. Look above; I can’t decide which one is prettier, so I decided to put both.

Brian Spangley brings you a tale so vividly narrated by Gabby, a young waitress, that you feel like watching a beautiful, touching movie inside your head. The story is poignant, but not mushy. It has the exactly right amount of mystery, love, friendship, routine, sadness, redemption and, of course, coffee and tears.

 As each chapter unfolds, we learn more about Gabby and her new family—the other employees and some customers of Angela’s Dinner. It’s an old fashion dinner, where people go not only to eat and drink, but sometimes also to share their problems, to talk, to open their hearts. We have the opportunity to hear many of their stories, through the ears of Gabby. And we can see how she, Ms. Potts, Clark and others (I don’t want to give away too much and spoil your fun, so I won’t name all of them) grow. The whole dinner seems to grow along the story.

The dinner contains a universe so intense, so many lives intersecting inside it, that it’s not difficult to see how Angela’s is a character as important as others.

Many deep and intense themes are presented, in a tender and easy to connect way. You get to know the characters and their secrets, feeling their pain, their fear, their hope. You are, at some level, another customer, sharing your own order of coffee and tears.

 It’s impossible to talk much about the plot without revealing too much and spoiling it, so I’ll refrain from it. But I can tell you this: if you liked Fried Green Tomatoes, the movie, or Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, the novel, by Fannie Flagg, you’ll certainly, utterly love An order of Coffee and Tears. A true masterpiece. Beautifully written, masterfully constructed, amazingly finished.

My 5 star Review of ‘Fallen Men’, by Brian O’Hare

I love reading, and love even more to find a good story and help spreading the word about it. That’s why I review books here, on Amazon and on Goodreads. I’m truly glad that Amazon is [apparently] not going to forbid me of doing that… (read more here)

(*I’ve just joined Readers Favorite’s Review team, so in the future my reviews may also been there too)

I  finished “Fallen Men”, by Brian O’Hare yesterday, and really liked it.

Even though it talks about three Catholic Priests, I don’t believe it can be simply defined as “religious fiction”. It’s way more than that.

It’s more a study of how faith can both save or destroy you. Of how morality and honesty are relative concepts depending on one’s point of view or interests at the moment. It’s also a study of how depression can lead to unthinkable decisions.

Brian O’Hare has talent to describe people and situations without boring the reader. He can also make you enter the characters’ thoughts so you are deeply into the situation with them. And he creates real people, defected, sometimes weak, sometimes strong people. Priests, lay people… they are all real in a way you can relate to them here. And about Father McGennity… Boy, I know a Father really similar to him. Well, the truth is, Fathers are men, and men come in all sizes and kinds; O’Hare presented it greatly in this story.

I thought the way the forbidden relationship was presented was both tender and disturbing, which was perfect  for the story. The gray areas that can surround even a Father’s life were very well described, even with Father Dan, and his black or white view of the world.

As a Catholic myself, I must say that I can relate much more to Father Dan than to Father Ray. What Ray did was inexcusable to me and even though the surroundings (internal and external) might help explain in some level his actions, I still believe his mission as a priest was exactly to avoid temptations at all costs. In my Parish we have amazing examples of Fathers so I may be too biased in my opinion… But I still believe he should have been better. I would prefer at all choices to be publicly accused as Father Dan, of following the Church’s Laws to the end than as Ray.

I may sound too harsh, but the priesthood path is not for the faint of heart. It means an entire life of dedication to others and the Church. The Parish is your family, and God must be in your thoughts at all moments. Sure Priests sin too, but to an extent… Mortal sins in a Father shake the Church’s core. I can understand some falls, but Ray fell too much for me.

You see, O’Hare’s great skills as a writer are still making me think so passionately about Ray’s story… All the moral dilemmas stay with you long after finishing the reading. And that’s what makes me say this book is a must read. It doesn’t matter your religion or even if you believe in anything… Fallen Men is an excellent, well-written story that raises great questions and gives a lot of food for thought.

Find out more about Brian on his blog: http://brianohareprofessor.blogspot.co.uk