Thursday, 31 January 2013

Book Review: Of Darkness And Light (ROYA #4)

This week I am reviewing Of Darkness and Light (Shadow of the Nephilim) by YA author Lily Crussell. Warning: This is most definitely one for the girls.

Admittedly, I haven't read many angel stories. In fact, the only books I recall having anything to do with angels are Cassandra Clare's urban fantasy The Mortal Instruments and Steampunk The Infernal Devices. Actual angels don't even feature that much in them.They're not really my thing, but Lily Crussel's book has at least taught me that I don't mind them. My belief on the existence of angels is irrelevant. This is Fantasy after all, and I'm not one for dwelling on the mundane.

My Angel


Seventeen year old Elora is discontent, but getting on with things. That is, until something unseen starts attacking her. With her parents away a lot, she feels pretty isolated. It's not helped by that fact that her best friend's mother hates her. Universally sceptic, when a handsome stranger comes into her life she suspects the worse. However, celestial intervention is what's required to save Elora from her vicious, invisible assailant.  But when she discovers she's destined to be the love of  angel Raziel, it's pretty hard to take in. Especially considering she doesn't even believe in angels.

Until about 2/3 through I was ready to give this book 3 out of 5 stars. There are a few typos, but nothing that detracts from the story.   It does drag a bit though, in the build up to the romance. There were aspects that were sweet, but I wasn't particularly interested. It takes more than a "perfectly beautiful" male to capture my interest. If you're into angels I imagine it's quite lovely. However, the pace picks up and the plot thickens when an entertaining new character steps into play.

Dance with the Devil


Before Raziel mysteriously disappears, he tells Elora that it's Nephilim attacking her.  But angels aren't supposed to believe in them, so Elora has difficulty convincing other angels that Nephil has taken her boyfriend. Cue Lucifer (not to be mistaken for Satan), a mischievous, lovable rogue, oozing with hypnotic charm.

As this book made me laugh out loud it definitely gets 4 out of 5 stars. As a rule, anything that makes me laugh or cry automatically gets 4 stars minimum. If it makes me do both, 5 stars. I found myself looking forward to Lucifer's appearances. His arrival brings humour to the story, making it a far more compelling read.  He's completely mischievous and devilishly irresistible. Certainly, as much as I enjoyed Elora's pragmatic, if somewhat paranoid navigation of her plight, I much preferred her impish nature around the fallen angel. More of that, please. There's some really grisly bits which were great. I'll definitely be up for reading more of this series.

˜˜˜˜


Remember, if you have something that you think would be of interest to ROYA, email me at merrybawz@hotmail.com with ROYA and your name as the subject.














Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Poetry ~ Winter's Warm

I wasn't inspired enough by this week's Speakeasy prompts to write a poem. However, I had this one going spare. Enjoy.


With Winter’s warm affection feel
The crispness, crystal white,
Kissing cheeks and making rosy;
Cosy, wrapped up tight.
Smelling snow in the air,
Red berries and evergreens.
Birds twitter, scatter, scour for feed
Preparing by any means.
Sparkling frost on branches reach
And dreamlike twinkle wink.
Cold and runny noses
Line up at the outdoor rink.
Grey clouds quilt the sky above
And pass on downy breeze.
It chills, but still, the pleasure thrills
And with the heart agrees.
Then dark arrives apace and early,
Begging for candle flame
To light the night and flicker bright,
And any worries claim.
Peat fires burn away the blues,
Heating bones and souls austere.
Making the very, merry best
Of this wondrous time of year.


Sunday, 27 January 2013

Teaser: The Heart Thief

I'd been struggling to think of what to write for my weekend blog post.  I thought a teaser would be fun on Friday. Then I talked myself out of it yesterday. However, come this morning I was convinced it was the right idea again. I am a fickle creature.

As a thank you for your continued support, here is a teaser from The Heart Thief (Devils Light Book 2). In this excerpt from Chapter 3 (unedited) we see the first exchange between the main character Madeline, and her second cousin Gidderoy. As you will see,  they don't  get off to good start.


“Watch where you’re going!”

Gidderoy blocked her path, a sneer curling his thin upper lip. Maddie observed he hadn’t bothered to dress properly, even though it was almost mid-morning.  The loose, cream shirt he wore was undone to the waist, exposing his lean, smooth chest. Ugh, she thought, how inappropriate. His dark breeches, which clung so tightly to his hips, were stuffed carelessly into his boots. There was something about his dishevelled appearance that struck her as odd. Was it possible he hadn’t yet been to bed? His brown eyes fixed on her with disapproval. It was clear he was awaiting some kind of response.

 “Is that how you were taught to treat a lady?”

Resting his hands insolently on his hips, he arched one of his dark blond brows, “That’s you, is it?”

“I beg your par-?”

He cut her off with a taunting laugh.

 “What gives you the right to - ?”  

Lady? Lady Madeline,” he jeered. “You need to understand who’s in charge here.”

“That’s you, is it?” Maddie bit back, mimicking his words from a moment before.

 “I am the gentleman of the manor.” he returned smugly.

Gentleman?” she couldn’t help but laugh at this, “You’re no gentleman. Obnoxious little weasel, is more like.”

“Tut-tut!” he drawled, “Name calling? What unladylike behaviour.”

Maddie resisted the urge to stick her tongue out at him. Instead she kept it behind her tightly clamped teeth. She scowled at him in the vein hope he might back off. It didn’t work.

“You don’t actually think you have a say in things, do you?” he spoke with a lazy, inflated confidence. It made her blood boil. She watched with increasing irritation as he tipped his head back, shaking his blond waves from his face, muttering: “Silly girl.”

If she’d had any respect for him at all, it was now obliterated. His foppish arrogance was irksome, but his rudeness? Unacceptable! Unable to hide her annoyance, she spoke her mind, “Just because your pompous, drunkard of a father has always been after Hynegarry, doesn’t mean-”

“Daddy” he cut her off sharply, “Is more concerned that you pair of nitwits are running this estate into the ground.”

“Nitwits? I’m sure Aunt Charla would have something to say about your low opinion of us.”

“Auntie Charls knows her place,” he looked her up and down, resting his gaze brazenly on her breasts, “You’d do well to listen to her.”

Angrily, Maddie folded her arms, protecting herself from his intrusive stare. Smirking, he raised his eyes and was met by her blazing blue ones. “If you think I’m going to take orders from a conceited, snot-nosed little boy like you, you’re mistaken.”

“I’m no boy!” Anger coloured his cheeks. “I’m a year older than you. I am of age, and a gentleman!”

Maddie inwardly patted herself on the back for finally having ruffled his feathers. “Then why don’t you act like it.” 
 
 
Excerpt Chapter 3, The Heart Thief. Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved. No part of this post may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written consent from the author.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Film Preview 2013 (ROYA #3)


From a ROYA Perspective


Last year I was spoilt for choice when it came to cinematic releases. It was as though every month there was something on that was worth going to see. It seems that although there is slightly less on offer, 2013 is set to release more of what's in demand: adaptations of Young Adult books, twists on classic fairy tales with only a smattering of sci-fi, and a few graphic novel novelties. Here's my pick of what's on offer.
Kicking off the year is tongue-in-cheek fight-fest Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, with Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy) and Gemma Arterton (Clash of the Titans). This twist on the classic fairytale sees brother and sister as merciless witch slayers for hire. The ever-sexy Famke Jansen (X-Men) uglies up to play their evil adversary in what promises to be a ridiculous, blood-spattered nonsense.
 
February sees the release of Beautiful Creatures: a paranormal boy-meets-girl-with-a-dark-secret.  First of popular YA series The Caster Chronicles, this movie adaptation looks set to be either a hit or a miss. Relatively unknown actors Alden Eherenreich and Alice Englert play the star-crossed lovers and head up an impressive cast, which includes movie big-wigs Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson. Granted, the set-design and the effects will be wonderful on the big screen. Sadly, there's an unavoidable whiff of cheese, chiefly provided by Emmy Rossum (Phantom of the Opera), who plays devilish Ridley Duchannes with pantomime flair. The proof, as they say, will be in the paranormal pudding.


March has three - that's right three - movies that I'll be making sure I go to see.  First is Jack the Giant Slayer, for more fairy tale spinnery. Cheeky (and rather hot) Brit actor Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy) plays hapless Jack. He plants magic  beans which grow into a giant beanstalk leading to a magical kingdom, as you probably know. There's an all-star cast, featuring Warwick Davies, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Ian McShane and Bill Nighy. From what I've seen there's some spectacular special effects. It's a fine combination, so unless the screenplay's written by E.L. James (it's not), I'm confident this film will entertain. Next on my hit-list is Oz the Great and Powerful, from one of my favourite directors, Sam Raimi. Set before Dorothy Gale landed in Munchkin Land, the story centres on Kansas con man James Franco (127 Hours). He's surrounded by a bevvy of beauties too, with Rachel Weiz,  Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams playing the witches.  I have to say, this film looks The Business! It even starts off in black and white, which makes it all the more true to the original (IMO). After that, I suppose I'll have to check out the adaptation of Twilight author Stephanie Meyer's The Host. I found the book quite hard to get into, and frankly didn't force myself past chapter one. BUT, seeing as Saoirse Noran (The Lovely Bones/Hanna) is playing lead, I suppose I ought to give it a shot. Okay, so it's a "sci-fi" (we'll see) about a girl who's had her body taken over by a parasitic alien. However, the human part of the girl refuses to give up, forming a bond with the alien. It sounds interesting... my fear is it will turn out to be just another over-dramatic teen romance. Hopefully I'm wrong.
 
Oblivion hits the big screen in April, starring the legend that is Morgan Freeman (Yay!) and half-pint soap-box scientologist Tom Cruise (Meh). It's your typical dystopian  scenario: Earth is a wasteland after years of war with an alien race. An engineer discovers a spacecraft, the contents of which make him question everything he believes about the war. In all honesty, this is only making my list because it is a sci-fi, and it has Morgan Freeman in it. I have to say, when reading about this film I am put in mind of Rich Hall's description of every Cruise movie ever made. All the same, the effects look immense, definitely one for the big screen.
 Two films worth checking out in May are the long awaited sequel Star Trek Into Darkness and animated adventure Epic. With a star-studded cast, Epic is a story about a teenage girl, lost in a strange forest, who finds help from a group of odd-balls. It's then a battle of good against evil, all in amazing 3D. Yeah, it's probably aimed more at kids, but so what? Doesn't stop it from being good. If you're in need of something more adult, then the new Star Trek movie will get you back on track. The cast of the first film are back in this slick production from J.J. Abrhams. Let's face it, there's bound to be a good plot, but what it'll essentially boil down to is the Enterprise crew going after the bad guys. Fine by me. Expect more action, more effects, more Kirk kissing cute chicks, and even though it's considered only a "rumour" I've seen pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) as the wrathful Khan. I'll be happy so long as I get to ogle John Cho (Sulu).

By the time June comes around, I'm usually not bothered with going to the cinema. But with the release of Kick Ass 2, I'll be there, bum on seat, popcorn at the ready. Sadly, as this film is still in production, I'm unable to show you any official pictures (Go look on Google images if you're interested). Aaron Taylor-Johnson returns to the role of Kick-Ass, along with a motley crew of costumed crime-fighters. There's quite a line up, including Jim Carrey, John Leguizamo and of course, scalp-collector Nicholas Cage. I've got high hopes for this one.

July, summer time! There's not much that will get me in a picture house at this time of year. Except maybe Johnny Depp. Funnily enough, this summer dons war paint as Tonto in Gore Verbinski's version of The Lone Ranger.  Starring alongside is Armie Hammer (Mirror Mirror) as the masked man of mystery. Made by the same folks as Pirates of the Caribbean, then big budget, big explosions,  family-friendly humour and ever-quirky Depp-ness is guaranteed. Predictably, Helena Bonahm Carter turns up as vixen lady Red, pale-skinned and wide-eyed as always. Ah well, I'll give it a go, 'tis Depp after all...

August, officially rainy season where I'm from. Cinema is a must for me at this time of year. I'll be checking out the new Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (rumoured release), as well as the eagerly awaited Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Cassandra Clare's Young Adult fantasy about Shadowhunters;  demon slayers of angelic decent, who fight to save us mere mundanes (mortals) from the dark beings that threaten our world.  There's been much debate over the casting of  this film. Many fans do not approve of Jamie Campbell-Bower  as cock-sure hero Jace Wayland. Why is this? Probably because in the books he's described as unrealistically good-looking with a body sculpted by the gods. That's a tall order, for any actor. For me, the success of this film will come down to how well it's acted and how good the script is. I am a big fan of funny man Robert Sheehan (Ch4's Misfits), and I think he'll be wonderful as Simon, best friend to heroine Clary (Lily Collins [pictured] of Mirror Mirror). There's a lot of hype surrounding this film, which can often lead to disappointment. Even so, the trailer gives me goosebumps. Can't Wait!

In September there's rumoured release of a particularly strange offering called I, Frankenstein. In a bizarre turn of events, the  table-top lab-creation man of Mary Shelly's gothic horror, finds himself in a clan war between immortals. What? I shall keep my eyes peeled and let you know everything I hear. Aaron Eckhart (Dark Knight) and Bill Nighy (The Boat That Rocked) are reported to  be cast.



Sin City sequel A Dame To Kill For is set for release this October.  Bruce Willis and  hotties Jessica Alba and Rosario Dawson reprise their roles in this violent adaptation of the popular the graphic novel. Another film out this month which has caught my attention is the remake of Stephen King's Carrie. As a huge fan of the book, and the original movie, I've been let down by some of the productions that have come along since. Fingers crossed they don't muck it up this time. Still, there's also paranormal adventure The Seventh Son, which looks promising. Set in the 1700's, it's about young man, Tom (Ben Barnes of Dorian Grey and Prince Caspian)  who trains to fight evil spirits. Julianne Moore [pictured] also stars.

November sees the release of highly anticipated sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Jennifer Lawrence returns as Katniss Everdeen, sent into an arena to fight other teens to the death. Once again, they're still shooting this, so I can't show you any pictures. I'm a little disappointed at the casting of red-haired District 4 champion Finnick Odair,  but hey! They're never as cute in real life as in your head, right? This is one film I cannot wait to see. The effects of the first movie were superb so my expectations are high. Catching Fire is when the political intrigue starts to thicken, and the full story starts to unfold. It also has one of the most romantic scenes I have ever read in a book, so EEP! Excited!

December rolls along, and with it The Hobbit returns with sequel The Desolation of Smaug. Opinion has been mixed over the first instalment. Some say it's brilliant, while others have commented on the obvious "padding". I think we can expect pretty much the same this time around; those who like it, will, and haters gon' be hatin'.

Well, that's my preview of what's due out this year. I may even review a few of them, should I take a notion. Remember, if you have something that you think would be of interest to ROYA, email me at merrybawz@hotmail.com with ROYA and your name as the subject. Toodle-pip!


 
 
 



Monday, 21 January 2013

A Woman's Place (Speakeasy #93)


The magic was all in the finishing touches.

I know this as much as

I try to deny.

Magnolia apartment, bare walls, a cheap kettle.

All testing my mettle,

But I now know why.

I’ll buy some flowers and a photo frame,

Isn’t it all the same?

What does it matter?

Little nick-knacks to make a place feel more like home.

Pretend I’m not alone,

I’ll soon feel better.

But I’m not yet ready to go outside.

I just want to hide…

Get some perspective.

My new surroundings are too much like a hotel.

They make me feel unwell,

Which holds me captive.

I could’ve stayed, not sought refuge and aid,

If I had just obeyed,

Taken his beatings.

But now I’m here in this secured apartment block.

They’ve told me I should talk,

Go to some meetings.

Maybe flowers, pictures –They’ll bring back some magic

To this life, so tragic,

Get me back on track.

I’ll leave this place, go to meetings; be a new me.

Then everyone will see

There’s no going back.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Made it to Teen Titles


Thanks to Stuart Swarbrick
for supplying this image.
There are times when I work hard with no immediate result. I plod away, plugging my book and generally annoying all and sundry with constant reminders of where to buy it. This has to be irritating. In fact, I'm pretty sure it is. Still, many need reminding that my book is for sale. Persistent advertising does work, my sales sheets show this. It's almost as though with every advert one copy gets sold. Is it worth it? Of course! But no doubt at the cost of having all my other posts silenced by disinterested parties.

Regular readers will know that last year I organised a promo event at my old high school. While there I was interviewed by some of the pupils who had read my book. The interview and reviews were to be featured in Teen Titles, a book magazine that goes out to all the schools in Edinburgh. Well, turns out that now, 4 months after, ITeen Titles is out.  With four fantastic reviews of The Ferryman's Wife, I really couldn't be happier. Here's hoping that I get a good return from the feature.

Sometimes it simply takes a little longer to reap the rewards of ones efforts. I'll bide my time and continue to plod away. Hopefully, it wont all be for nothing.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

GIVEAWAY ~ FORKS Music (ROYA #2)

As I’ve already mentioned, this feature isn’t just about books. It’s about all that is available for fans of the YA genre. When it comes to something I love, I actively seek out everything that’s connected to it. What I’ve discovered so far has been illuminating, for this genre encompasses a vast range of topics. Granted, not everything I come across connected to YA is good quality, but that’s no big problem. I find entertainment in the god-damned awful, so long as I get to write a deliciously bad review about it. At the same time, when I find something good I like to share it. This week, I'm not just sharing, I'm hosting a giveaway! It's really easy to enter too. SEE DETAILS AT THE END OF THIS POST.

Tra-la-la


Good music features greatly in my exploration of the YA genre. There’s a lot of tripe too, but sometimes you’ve got to bear stench to find treasure. There have been numerous books, films and TV shows that have introduced me to some epic tunes. In fact, I still own most of the movie soundtracks I was into in my teens. Between Pulp Fiction, Interview with the Vampire, Austin Powers and bloody Armageddon, it’s quite an eclectic collection. I even rediscovered de Bussey just a few years back when reading Twilight.

I’ve always enjoyed classical music. It has the ability to spark my imagination and carry me away to places in my mind. I definitely prefer classical and instrumental music when reading or writing; interchanging styles depending on what I’m doing. Saying that, it seems I favour classical music which tends towards the melancholic. Not sure what it says about me? Probably that I’m a miserable old witch. Yeah, in fact that sounds perfect.

 

Hearing FORKS


I caught the previews of FORKS a few months ago when they were first release. My conditioning was as such that I immediately thought of Forks,Washington. Now, I'm no Twihard, but I’d never heard of this place until Stephanie Meyer wrote about it in YA sensation Twilight. Had I not read the books or seen the films I’d never have made the connection. in fact I'd have probably thought it was about something culinary. As it turns out, this little town and the surrounding beauty of the Olympic Peninsula are exactly where the album derives inspiration.

FORKS: "Music for the forests and abandoned 
places in the world" - Jamie Ball 

For Forks' Sake


You need only visit the Discover Forks Washington website to see how deeply ingrained Twilight has become in the town's culture. They host a variety of events, including a celebration of fictional character Bella Swan's birthday(!). It seems that it's went from a quiet town surrounded by breathtaking wilderness, to a bustling tourist attraction. Is this a good thing? I suppose that depends on your perspective.

For Jamie Ball, creator of FORKS, this transformation was seminal in his aspiration to release a "classical" style album.  I asked Jamie why it was such an inspiration.

"I find the idea of the place a paradox... It has gone from being a very sleepy, empty loggers pit-stop to a town crammed all year round with die hard Twilight fans looking to force every aspect of this once quiet place through instagram filters." True enough. That's the thing about natural beauty; everyone wants a bit of it, usually at the cost of losing all that's "natural" about it.

On the other hand, images of Forks and the Olympic Peninsula depict the kind of place that would be well worth visiting. What I've seen of the town's surrounding landscape is a mossy, ethereal rain forest and towering, indomitable mountains. That definitely appeals to my adventurous side. I have to admit, if I visited I'd probably even dabble in a little Twilight tourism too. However, I do sympathise with the idea of losing something this precious to franchise. No doubt this is something that splits opinion amongst those aware of the situation and familiar with the Twilight Saga.

The dichotomy is that FORKS music appeals to both camps. Jamie agrees. "Being as it's music, and instrumental music at that, the conventional idea of 'lyrics' telling the story and setting the scene doesn't really apply. I get really particular about concepts and emotional correlation between different pieces of sound...Ultimately, for the listener, Forks can be about whatever they want it to be about. I have a few key concepts behind things, but these are never highlighted in the release."

You only need to listen to the album to hear how well it would fit into a movie score. The grand, sweeping strings of the first track immediately take you to a Forks of fantasy.  In the following track, appropriately titled La Push, the Native American influence is apparent without being clich├ęd. In 13 mins this album perfectly encapsulates my perception of Forks. There's just no denying the links to Twilight. They're inescapable. It's simply the case that the reality seems to be moving consistently further from the ideal.  

While observing the irony of the situation, Jamie doesn't deny the appeal of fantasy fiction: "I find fantasy books interesting, as the world created in your head is forever your own. However, though the Twilight books are clearly fantasy, and many of the locations do not exist in reality, the fans still flock to Forks."

Incidentally, one aspect of this very point was inspiration for the track The Lodge. Jamie informs me that it is "intentionally more 'human' sounding." For those who don't know, The Lodge is a fictional restaurant in Twilight. The track differs to the rest of the album without sounding out of place. It features a sleazy, rattling saxophone that strip-teases over a rolling drum beat.  It puts me in mind of a tawdry, smoke-choked house of ill repute. Funnily enough, there's a reason for this. Jamie goes on to explain  "[The Lodge] now stands as brick and mortar in the real town. I can only imagine custom has gone up but presumably at the cost of the charm, warmth and individuality of the original place it re-branded." Trading character for cash; The more money that's made only serves to cheapen that which is being sold.

Either way, the situation does nothing to cheapen the quality of this album. In some respect, the elegant, classical approach of FORKS gives something original, individual and charming back to the whole area. It is a lament for that which is lost, but also celebration of the magnificence of Forks. It is an excellent production. It has all the ingredients to please classical music lovers, fantasy fans and Twihards alike. My only issue with it is that it's too short! Nevertheless, I highly recommend it.

Getting Hold of FORKS


 After hearing the previews I knew had to buy this album. I am the proud owner of the limited release, which comes with loads of goodies. There's not that many of them either, so if you're interested in buying a copy, best act fast. Visit http://forksmusic.bandcamp.com/ to have a listen and get your own. You're not getting mine!
 
As for what the future holds for Jamie Ball as Forks Music? It appears some new direction is on the cards. "I intend to do a lot more of this style of release in future, not necessarily musically similar but definitely in terms of deluxe packaging/limited editions. The next thing I'm working on is very different but I'm really enjoying the shape it's taking so far."
Well, if this album is anything to go by, that's something to look forward to. Still, if you fancy doing something musically similar again, Jamie, you'll get no objections here.

*~!!!GIVEAWAY!!!~*

To enter is simple. Just choose as many as you like of the options below to participate, and you could be the lucky owner of the full album FORKS on mp3.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

You'll also find Jamie Ball as Forks Music on Twitter and Facebook. For information of forthcoming releases, Like the Jamie Ball artists page too.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Blowing Bubbles (Speakeasy #92)


Blowing bubbles in milk always feels good.

The sound takes me right back to my childhood.

Popping, gurgling, it rises in the glass.
Instantly the frothy globules amass.

So then do memories from days gone by,
All with an eternally sunny sky,

A time of dolls and bears, and being good,

Of toy cars and a play-mat neighbourhood.

As I think, my drink drains away loudly.

I top it off by then belching proudly.

Friday, 11 January 2013

...and now for some Dark Company

It is with great pleasure that I announce the forthcoming release of Dark Company: a collection of stories and poems from a group of very different authors.  You may remember that I posted the first verse of my epic poem, The Sorcerer, a while back. Well both that, and my poem Darkly Does The Melody are featured. With erotica, murder and more of the grim & ghoulish, this book is for most definitely for a mature audience. Here's a sneaky peak at the book description:


"Brought together by shared misfortune,
this Dark Company of indie authors has
chosen to forge tragedy into triumph.

Join us for tales of gangsters, phantoms,
unrequited love, secret societies, and ill-
gotten dreams in a journey to the dark side.

Proceeds from this anthology will benefit the Charity buildOn ~ For more information on buildOn, visit www.buildon.org"


Featuring work by authors:
Lily Crussel
Caitlin Hawkins
Royce Hawkins
Brian Patrick McKinley
Georgina Merry
MacKenzie Raye
Dominique Weldon  

Edited by Amanda Wimer, Cover by Must Love Fangs.


I've had the pleasure of reading some of the pieces, and from what I've seen, expect very different contributions from each author/poet. The sheer variety of content means that even the most discerning reader will find at least one thing they enjoy. I am very much looking forward to reading the rest of this unique little publication, and I am proud to be a part of it. I can't wait until it is released and I can share the links with you all! For now, please make sure you like this on Facebook and Goodreads.

 


 



 

 

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Expand your Mind...Reader (ROYA #1)


Mind Reader's distinguished new look..

Welcome to my new feature, Readers of Young Adult (ROYA).  It's my aim to explore the wonderful world of what is on offer to people with similar tastes to myself. Whether you're a young adult, or like me, a fan of this all-encompassing, accessible genre, then prick-up your eyes! I'm writing this blog for you.



Better Get On With It Then...



To kick-off my new concept I'm taking a look at Mind Reader, a blog about books and more. It's not only gone and got itself a brand-spanking new look, it's expanding. My impish side would even go so far as to say it looks like Mind Reader has grown up a little. Don't get me wrong, the old look was intriguing, and certainly eye-catching, but now it's darker, with a professional edge. Why is this of interest to ROYA? Because Mind Reader is a veritable goldmine of information on books, and it's about to get bigger. There's plenty on offer for lovers of YA fiction and beyond.

This new image is twinned with a change in the blog's format. There are new features, and new opportunities for authors and for bloggers. This really is something to talk about!

To mark the occasion, author of  Mind Reader, Francesca Poggi, has decided to celebrate, and why not? There's an international GIVEAWAY! that's running until the end of January. All you need to do is Like  Mind Reader on Facebook and leave a comment under the post with your email address and the name you liked the page with. To do this, Click Here.

The evolution of Mind Reader is something that has caught my attention. It has a respectable reach that continues to grow. Expansion is inevitable. Thankfully I am in the fortunate position of being able to pick Franny's brains on the matter, as well as finding out what we should expect from  Mind Reader in 2013.

For those of you who aren't familiar, Mind Reader is the views, reviews, loves, and that which make up Dark Franny's thoughts. As she describes it: "Mind Reader is mainly a book blog, but since it’s a personal blog, it’s also about the other things I love, and my life in general." Indeed, it is the personable approach in this blog that makes it so enjoyable.  Franny's affability shines through her writing, which is both charming and engaging. You need only read one of her reviews to see what I mean.  Some reviewers fall prey to ruthless criticism (guilty) or play it safe and over-rate to impress peers. You won't find this on Mind Reader. Each review is friendly and informative, without being complicated or sycophantic.

A Little History



 The old Mind Reader.
 image before the makeover.
Conceived in spring 2011, Mind Reader marked a turning point for Franny and her interest in blogging. As she recalls:

"I used to blog before that, but [...]had other interests that are not a part of my life anymore. I was in a bit of a dark place, I was unhappy and I wanted that to change."

And to what does she attribute this transformation? The Royal Wedding, of all things! "Prince William and Kate gave me the push I needed to make it happen." It's nice that Franny got something so constructive from this event. All the Royal Wedding  pushed me to do was switch the TV off and listen to music. Each to their own. However, this is a great example of what Franny is all about; she has a fabulous talent for taking even the more popular subjects and making them her own. She went on to say:

 "I wanted to blog again, and about something I loved. I love books, so that was it. I am very grateful of the past blogging year. I’ve come very far and accomplished so many things that I’ve never thought I did, and I think that without Mind Reader, I wouldn’t be where I am today."

Blogs, beautiful blogs! You don't need to tell me about how fabulous blogging is. I am a true fan. I discover new blogs of interest every day, as well as cradling a desire to branch out with my own. I've found so many fabulous pages out there. I mean to discover more. Mind Reader was one of the first blogs I started following, and I've yet to be disappointed.

New Designs


There's a lot to be said for a tasteful-looking blog. I can't be bothered with busy pages. They always take too long to load, and the result is ultimately a let down. Simple, elegant designs always appeal more. I like pictures, sure, and I like pretty pages too. Just don't clutter up my screen with unnecessary crap.  That's what's good about Mind Reader; it's easy to navigate, and that's something I appreciate. Here's what Franny had to say about it:

"I’ve been wanting to change the design for a while, and since I launched my company, Dark World Books (offering boutique services for both independent and published authors) back in November, I decided that I wanted to give it a more professional look ... I plan to get more involved with authors. Silvia, blogger of Darkest Sins and my partner in crime at Dark World Books, is a wonderful designer and she managed to capture the essence of everything I like to read. I am beyond satisfied and I’d recommend a blog makeover to everyone, if I could!"

Regular visitors will know that I too have worked with Dark World Books, and that my blog had a full-body makeover. It is a grand feeling. I understand why Franny has been inspired to take her blog to new levels.

What Should We Expect from Mind Reader in 2013?


Authors and bloggers, there's plenty of new things going on for you.

For you published authors, Mind Reader is accepting reviews. All you need to do is read the review policy, then get in contact.  With a dedication to promoting new authors, they're also looking to do interviews and spotlights. What are you waiting for?  Also, you can now advertise your book on Mind Reader. Several plans and sizes are offered, simply Click Here to find out what to do.  

Bloggers, get yourself geared up! Mind Reader are looking for blogs to feature in their  Blog Of The Week.  I for one will be keeping an eye on who's appearing. As I said, I'm all about the blog just now. If you think your blog should be featured, get in touch with them. Who knows? It could just be perfect...

Which means that all you readers will have plenty to keep you going. Between the reviews, the juicy fresh meat and the sprinkling of blogger spice, there'll be plenty enough to get stuck into. I for one will be looking to their reviews for something good to read. Hail to Mind Reader!













Wednesday, 9 January 2013

ANNOUNCING NEW BLOG FEATURE: Readers Of Young Adult (ROYA #0)

I can only prattle on about my books for so long, and I don't want to be giving too much away about their plot. So, I've been looking for more things to blog about.  I'm putting some of my previous experience to good use by starting a new feature: Readers Of Young Adult (ROYA). It will not just be about books, and it will not just be for or about teens. It's essentially what I think is of interest to fans of YA books, so it could be about anything!

I see this as exciting opportunity to connect with more of you out there on the World Wide Web. Lets see what we can do with this!

If you have a topic that you think will be of interest to ROYA, email me at merrybawz@hotmail.com with ROYA and your name as the subject.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Poor Ducky (Speakeasy #91)


The footsteps paused briefly at her doorway,

And scuffed upon the mat.

Then came the knock that she was expecting,

That familiar rat-a-tat-tat.

She flustered, gathered up her things,

Put on her waterproof coat,

Reached for her keys, gripped them tightly.

A lump formed in her throat.

Fear began to jangle her nerves

When she heard him knock once more.

He wouldn’t leave. This she knew.

So she opened her front door.

“Nice weather for ducks!”  His smile was broad,

Rain splashing off of his hood.

“Come on, we’ll take a walk by the river,

Then stop somewhere for food.”

“Don’t think I can,” she shook her head.

“Too wet, too cold, too far.”

How long had it been since she’d left the house?

Or went for a spin in a car?

“Come on,” he said, cajolingly,

“We’ve been through this already.

You’re coming out, mum. That’s that.”

Taking her hand, he held it steady.

“You’ve been stuck inside for far too long.”

He spoke as though he were the parent.

She took a deep breath, crossed the threshold,

And stepped out onto the pavement.

The door slammed behind her, made her jump,

But her son held her hand fast.

As raindrops ran off her waterproof back.

She felt something of freedom at last. 

 

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

It’s a Corker! (Speakeasy #90)


New Year’s Eve? Oh, we didn’t do much,

Except go to the supermarket, for drinks, nibbles and such.

We grabbed some pop, and some champagne,

And battled the crowds (a bit of a pain).

In the aforementioned aisles, we saw people we knew,

We chatted, wished them the best, and then joined a low(ish) queue.

Fuel top-up, then we dropped by a friend’s

To give them some fizz, and bid good Year Ends.

Then off to our reservation; our new tradition!

A family meal; who needs a party invitation?

Tasty food, but no hanging around,

Mummy needs a drink! So, we return to home ground.

Bottles of plonk just waiting to be popped,

Felt like the first time all day that I’d stopped.

Cava first (Champagne for the bells)

Any troubles with bubbles are soon dispelled

Pyjamas then on, felt comfy at last,

Pondered on how the last year’s went so fast.

Popped the good stuff as New Year was rung in,

Sent good wishes to our friends and our kin.

Effervescent relief as glasses clink.

Happiness symbolised by this decadent drink.

-          True Story

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

WISHING YOU ALL THE VERY BEST FOR 2013!
 
Thank you for your continued support.
 
 
2012 has been a funny old year. The Highs have been life-affirming, the Lows disappointing, yet enlightening. Still, if Chinese astrology is anything to go by, it's still Year of The Dragon until 10th February, so most of 2012's energies are still with us for a bit. Fine by me.
 
However, as January 1st signals a turning point for many, a round-up of my year seems appropriate.
 
At the start of the year* I lost the last of my grandparents, which sparked in change in my thinking that I can only describe as a watershed. As a teen things seemed as black and white as pages in a book. The way I saw it, from my twenties until this point I'd been able to not only to read between the lines, I saw grey areas too.  However, at this junction I saw that there was even more to the book of life. I found new meanings, new ideals and saw the myriad of colour the book contained. I also began to fully realise that in terms of understanding, I had much of this book to experience yet.  I decided to take new approaches to life, pursue goals fervently, and stay open to possibilities I'd disregarded in the past. Yes, it was upsetting to say goodbye to a relative, but born of the sadness was new hope and determination. I considered myself an open and tolerant person, but now I welcome all that this book of life is willing to teach. With this new insight, I plunged ahead into 2012.

March arrived as I finished my first ever novel, The Ferryman's Wife.  After months of forcing myself to get the book posted on here, a chapter at a time, I'd finally reached the conclusion.  However, the end was rushed and I vowed to add to it. Even so, I received some fantastic feedback from a number of dedicated followers. They may not follow this blog as a face on a numbered list => but they had tuned in with such regularity that I'd found it encouraging. It was their support and appreciation of my writing that gave me the impetus to approach publishers. I did not think to submit the peice as a manuscript. I simply contacted them and asked them if I could publish a blogged story.  After all, what did I know? I had been taking pointers from Silvia Paoletta of Darkest Sins and Dark World Books,  whose sage advice had brought me that far. But being published? Sure, she'd told me it would happen if I blogged, but I'd never for a moment thought of submitting my first ever online book to a publisher. However, I was taking new approaches, and so I sent emails to a few small publishing houses. One got back to me quickly, read my work, and offered me a contract. I was over the moon! A publisher thought that my little fantasy adventure was worthy of investing in. March 22nd saw me signing that contract and ultimately changing my life.

Over the following months I adapted the ending of The Ferryman's Wife and submitted it for a final edit with the publisher. I was still riding the high wave, thrilled that I'd had such a wonderful opportunity, and looked forward to my launch date in August.   Things appeared to be going well.  The launch party was fun, for what it was: a Facebook event where a small group (mostly my friends) joined in with games and quizes related to my book. I invited the majority of them over for vino and hilarity. With laptops on the dining room table, we had an altogether different kind of launch party. Sadly, I hadn't received any proofs of my books in time for the event, in fact I hadn't seen the finished article at all, but I didn't let it dampen my spirits.

After the event had past, more problems began to occur, but again I tried to see things from a different perspective. Everyone makes mistakes, right? Sadly, it soon became apparent I was the one who had made the mistake. Although I remained hopeful, overlooked issues, and tried to stay positive, certain things started to niggle at me. I plodded onwards, and tried to be as understanding as I could. Then, one day I was given a wonderful surprise! My blog had a makeover from Silvia Paoletta! The new look gave my blog a professional edge. This woman inspired hope in me, and this surprise put wind in my sails which spurred me onwards.

Another wonderful occurance this year, connected to my book, was getting back in touch with John Clarkson, the librarian at Trinity Academy. His willingness to help me promote The Ferryman's Wife to the pupils was a blessing. It was also good to get reaquainted with someone I'd  got along well with in the past. In September  this wonderful event at my old school went ahead. It was a valuable experience, speaking with those youngsters. It certainly opened up different ways of promoting my book.  I also got married that month, something I'd swore I'd never do. It had taken me nine years of being with my partner, and the death of my grandmother in January, to come to the decision of marriage.  Unfortunately, I'd been too hasty in my decision to sign with this paticular publisher.

There were problems which I will not go into on this blog, as I have resolved to not cover old ground. If you do not know what this is in reference to, I apologize, as I wont be giving an explantion. By October I'd decided to continue with my contract, but not sign with them again. I wanted to make the best of the situation, with the aim of finding another publisher once this contract terminated. Then, in November, the publishing company closed. I was free! Or so I thought. As it turned out there were more problems in store for me from these people. Yet I refused to let it hold me back. Seizing the oppoortunity to have my book properly edited, and put out to a standard I was happy with, I took the plunge. In December I self-published my story. Again, thanks to Dark World Books for a truly fabulous editing job. I now feel that I'm able to promote my story with confidence.

And here we are. Yes, there have been problems, but this year has brought me new friends, business accosiates, opportunities, and harsh lessons learned. That, to me, is a good year.

New years resoloutions? I don't do them often, but I've decided to limit my time on Facebook. It is a wonderful way of keeping in touch with friends and promoting ones wares. What I discovered this year is that it can also be used in such a way as to create a false sense of importance. I will continue to connect with people, uphold friendships and such like. What I will not do is take stock in any person or business that does the bulk of their practise through Facebook, and that includes me.  It seems there are many who would use Facebook as a means to cause trouble. While it's wonderful for getting messages out there, I dislike how easy it is to create false identities and in turn, false situations that can blow up out of all proportion. Still, ever the one to see the silver lining on a mushroom-cloud; I take what this experience has taught me and now hold it in my arsenal. I remain a tolerant person, but when it comes to business I now refuse to compromise my standards. If this past year has taught me anything, in the future I'll act on warning signs instead of giving the benefit of the doubt.

So to you all, I wish you happy reading, writing, listening or whatever it is you do that makes your life satisfying, (so long as it hurts no one but yourselves). I see this year as bringing me an opportunity to forge ahead with my career. After all, it is only just the beginning.
  
 
 
*Still the old Chinese year, Year of the Rabbit. I know far too much of this stuff not to use it when it seems relevant. Myths and Legend are of great influence and inspiration to me.