If you’re on the road, cleaning the house, or out in the garden you still need to read a book right? Well now you can download The Running Game as an Audio book. Check out the sample and listen to the wonderful Mil Nicholson as she narrates my paranormal thriller.
Category Archives: Useful Info
I’m very excited today to be bringing you a guest post from amazing author Alina Popescu, who isn’t just a great writer and promoter, but she’s a good friend who has held my hand for more than a year now. Check out her book, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Find the Author in the Character Details
They say the devil is in the details, and they probably are right, just because everything is in the details. You idiot in a text can be an insult or it can show anger. Add an emoji that’s winking or sticking its little tongue out and the meaning changes. But I digress! Authors follow the way the devil likes to play it. Sometimes, you can find them hidden in character details. Is this an extension of write what you know? Maybe. Or maybe we spend so much time with our characters that we just can’t help it and we put a bit of our very souls in them. Or some of our ideas, feelings, fears. It’s an anything goes sort of deal!
I’ve been quite honest in saying that Alexa, my female lead in the Bad Blood trilogy is probably 90% me. She had my background, a lot of my physical traits, even more of how I think, react, and talk at times. She ran away to the one place I considered running away to. Yup, she’s me, no doubt about that. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to writing myself into a character, and that is probably why the trilogy was both therapeutic, cathartic, and challenging for me to write.
However, Alexa is not the only character I added parts of me to. I added my need to get away and break free to Wynn. Sure, I did not have it as bad, but while I wrote Craving Stains, I was also staring out the window at the beautiful weather and hoping I could just forget about work and run way somewhere. Writing is always easier and better when you’re on vacation, isn’t it?
Doyle did not escape either. I gave him all my love for bikes, tattoos, and adventure. In a way, Wynn and Doyle were two sides of me that were arguing with each other at the time. They went ahead and ganged up on me, making me write their story, but that’s okay!
I did not stop there. Vicks, one of the main characters of my werewolf universe, got my dog, Ares. She refuses to walk him when I tell her to, even if he actually listens to her… Bad character! Shiki—who shares the same universe of the Tales of the Werewolf Tribes series and whose book, Strength to Let Go, you’ll get in early July—got my otaku side (he’s into video games, manga, and anime as much as I am), and some of my emotional hiccups, such as blaming himself for everything that goes wrong in his relationship.
Putting bits and pieces of yourself into the characters you write is not good or bad. It just is for a lot of us. I also happen to think it makes the characters real, easy to relate to. Sure, I am trying to keep it subtle and not get swept away by my god complex… I have one, I just try not to be obvious about creating my characters in my own image 😀
Title: Craving Stains
Author: Alina Popescu
Genre: gay, gay fiction, science fiction, paranormal, gay romance
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing
Wynn Brenwood has been trapped by his mother since birth, shut away in a sterile, hospital-like apartment.
Is it her desire to keep him safe that sees him locked up in his pristine cage? Or are her motives less innocent and well-intentioned?
Wynn longs to break free to experience the world he sees beyond his window.
Desperate to escape, he meets Doyle, a handsome, leather-clad, and enigmatic stranger.
But is Doyle real, or is he just a figment of Wynn’s imagination?
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UUE58SU/
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00UUE58SU/
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00UUE58SU/
Amazon DE: http://www.amazon.de/dp/B00UUE58SU/
Prizes: 1 x $20 WIP Gift card and 3 x ebook copy of Craving Stains by Alina Popescu
About the author
Writer, traveler, and coffee addict, Alina Popescu has been in love with books all her life. She started writing when she was ten and she has always been drawn to sci-fi, fantasy, and the supernatural realm. Born and raised in Romania, she finds her inspiration in books of all genres, in movies, and the occasional manga comic book. She is a proud geek who needs her fast Internet and gadgets more than she needs air.
Site & Blog: http://alina-popescu.com
A young and happy-looking hostess whom Moira barely acknowledged greeted her and walked her to the Director’s office. They know how much of a screw up they have to weasel their way out of, Moira thought, a cold smile curving half of her mouth. She was going to make them sweat, and she was going to get everything she wanted from them.
Doctor Miller, the chief physician on Wynn’s case, the Director, and some mousy-looking little man who Moira suspected was an accountant or something along those lines were all waiting for her. They first offered her any and all treats and beverages in the universe, and when met with her brusque refusal, they slouched in their chairs and prepared for the onslaught.
“Gentlemen,” Moira started, smiling broadly, yet having no warmth reflected through her eyes. “I hear you’ve sent a report to the Finance Bureau, claiming my son is in perfect health,” she went on, her voice turning icier with every word. “Maybe it’s time for us to end our contract then. No use paying you that obscene monthly fee to have you do nothing but hold his hand.”
“Miss Brenwood, it was simply the truth,” the accountant said in a bitter voice, but reconsidered under the murderous stare of the Director.
“Moira, darling, please ignore him,” the Director said, his heavy breathing being for once caused by something other than his obesity. “We clearly stated that this qualified as proactive care, preventing any other future illness in your son’s case.”
“Well, Clifton,” Moira said, stressing the man’s first name with a curl of her lip. “You weren’t very convincing apparently. They are going to investigate me for money laundering. As I have all the proper documents and invoices from you, I assure you, they will find nothing wrong with my papers. But as your reports indicate otherwise, I am sure they’ll think someone in your lower financial ranks isn’t in on it, thus forgetting to cover your tracks, and have your hospital investigated as well.”
She watched the man pale, his jaw dropping, making an obscenely gaping hole. She rolled her eyes, and then shook her head. What the hell had these idiots thought would happen? That when the Bureau came a-knocking and found nothing, they’d just go home with their tail between their legs? Of course they’d always investigate both or all parties involved in a potential fraud.
“Clifton, you really have no idea how the world works. How on earth do you manage this hospital?” She graced them with her special, mocking smirk, the one she’d developed in the many decades of being a rich wife with seemingly too much time on her hands.
“Mrs. Brenwood, I assure you, we will fix this,” the Director said, turning to look at the accountant sternly.
“Oh, I am sure you will. Now, Dr. Miller, I need a private moment with you.” She stood and left the office without saying goodbye, walking straight to Miller’s own
office. Moira ventured a glance over her shoulder and saw the good doctor following her like the obedient little dog he was.
GUEST POST: FROM DEREK TAYLOR
I was born wanting to make stories out of what went on around me. From the cradle words fascinated me – the sound of them, the meaning of them and the fact that you could make them rhyme. Poetry was my first love, I think because it was the fastest route to doing something with words. I didn’t come from a particularly erudite family, so was rather alone in my love of words. Words for me were a performance thing and although my family were amused by my word-spouting antics, they didn’t take it particularly seriously. In fact, I was often told to pipe down and stop showing off, which did put a bit of a dampener on life for me.
There weren’t a lot of books in our family, but there was music. Pop music. The radio was always on and it was full of what we now call the American song book. And it was the 50s: the great age of popular music, the time before rock. Songs were full of meaning, the lyrics practically always rhymed, or half rhymed, and they nearly always told a story of some sort, usually a love story, but nevertheless a story.
On the banks of the river
Stood Running Bear,
A young Indian brave.
On the other side of the river
Stood his lovely Indian maid.
Little White Dove was-a her name,
Such a lovely sight to see,
But their tribes fought with each other,
So their love could never be.
(1959 JP Richardson aka The Big Bopper)
I was fascinated by ‘maid’ being made to rhyme with ‘brave’ and sang it over and over again. We were living in Northern Ireland at the time and for some reason my twin and I went to a convent junior school. We were the only boys. I sang all over the school and, even though I didn’t have much of a singing voice, I became something of a star. My English teacher, Miss McGoldrick, noticed my love of performing and began to put me forward for poetry recital competitions, most of which I won. It
was she who gave me my first real grounding in poetry, as opposed to song lyrics.
We moved to England and I moved up to secondary school. There was no one there to nurture my love of poetry but I did discover children’s adventure stories. I particularly remember a series of books about the Canadian flying-doctor service. Although I don’t remember the name of the series or it author/s, I remember the stories were full of drama and heroism. I loved them. Then I discovered the Bull Dog Drummond series of spy stories. Bulldog Drummond was a swash buckling hero in a line of comic book-like heroes that led in the end to James Bond and, for me, Dan Brearley, the hero in my book BREARLEY’S ENCORE. I still loved poetry and recited it whenever I could, but I had discovered real adventure and I couldn’t get enough of it.
Before long there were the James Bond films. These introduced me to Ian Fleming and the James Bond novels, which I devoured as quickly as they came out. I read them over and over again. Now fast forward forty years. I found myself living in a formerly very grand hotel which had been converted into apartments. They were sold on long leases, mainly to retired people, but the owner of the freehold remained in situ, taking charge of the day to day management of the building and responsibility for its maintenance. He was not a pleasant man, was less than honest and failed miserably to meet his obligations. The building began to fall into a state of disrepair and life for me and my fellow lessees became less than comfortable. I began to wonder what was to be done about the man. He was not open about his business affairs in general and I began to wonder what he got up to. Then I began to wonder who could find out. A private detective, I thought, or, better still, a super comic book-type hero. A James Bond! What if a retired secret agent were to move into the building? What would such a man do about our rogue landlord? And Dan Brearley was born. I had been writing western novels – the only sort I could get anyone to publish – and it wasn’t much of a leap to start writing a spy story.
I no longer live in the converted hotel mentioned above and I wouldn’t want the owner, who is still in situ, to in anyway think BREARLEY’S ENCORE was about him and his building, but our life’s experiences do sink into our subconscious and inform our artistic creations. My book is really about what could happen to a retired-secret agent, rather than a rogue landlord. Leasehold as a form of residential property tenure is a peculiarly English means of home-buying but it is fraught with problems and lease holders often find themselves living with bad landlords. I wanted in the book to highlight this fact. Changes in property law have tried to alleviate the problems but not with total success, and they are
hard to enforce if you are saddled with a non-co-operative freeholder. I wanted to highlight this fact in my story.
But still I wanted more to write an adventure story. I was writing westerns, they were being published, but their appeal was somewhat limited. I wanted to reach a wider audience. I suppose, given my love of Bulldog Drummond and James Bond as fictional heroes, it was natural that I should follow in their authors footsteps in creating my own fictional hero.
I still recite poetry and sing pop songs but mainly to myself or in the shower, when I know the whole world is listening.
You can download Brearley’s Encore here
Author Marc Nash approached me a few days ago to see what I knew about Flash Fiction… answer very little. So he’s written a must read article for all authors interested in Flash Fiction and he’s also given us a taster of what he can do – don’t forget you can interact and leave comments below.
I’ve just published my fourth collection of flash fiction stories “28 Far Cries”. If you don’t know what flash fiction is, it’s the shortest form of fiction, ranging from 6 word stories to 1000 words. There’s no agreed definition of length, but 1000 words is generally felt to be the upper limit for flash, otherwise you’re straying into short story territory.
But flash fiction is so much more than a word limit. It actually offers the greatest freedom to writers, because you simply don’t have the words to play with to achieve many of the standard things of story such as introduction, character or setting description and the like. Your opening sentence plunges the reader into your story, as with any longer work, but only in flash does that first sentence have to bear the weight of establishing the world of your story. Word choices are important in flash, because again you do have the room to waste words. And the English language is wonderfully set up to offer you plenty of choice in order to find the exact word that can simultaneously carry different shades of meaning that give your story layers. Words like ‘cleave’ and ‘fast’ which have entirely opposite meanings and the skilful flash writer can imply both together!
But flash isn’t only about language. It offers a liberation for the author of the classic structure of a beginning, middle and end. I’ve written stories that are all about endings. I’ve written stories without any human character, so that these are more like a landscape painting (flash often employs quite lyrical language, where it could almost be seen as a prose poem). I’ve written a story made up of 100 single word sentences, all beginning with the letter ‘C’. In my latest collection, there is a story where one letter in every word has mutated into another, changing the word and therefore the meaning of the piece. Flash therefore represents many different ways of telling a story.
Although a tight word limit might seem to offer only sketches, actually the opposite is possible. You can take a central image or metaphor and examine it from every angle, reflecting different interpretations just like the different facets of a gemstone as the light strikes it in different ways and at different angles. So in the present collection, I have a story “Off Colour” about all the colours we use in every day speech, or another “Nocebo” which explores all the different ways of taking pills and concludes with the ultimate, that of a cyanide pill. In “Nemesis” an ageing superhero develops cancer from the radiation which gave him his superpowers and the story compares the cancer with the nature of his crime fighting.
Flash fiction has really come to the fore in the internet age. Its length is akin to a blog post. It’s easy to read on phones and other portable devices. It’s easy to do a YouTube reading of a story that lasts no more than five minutes and they are great for reading live as against an extract of a novel that needs a lot of explaining the story up to that point. And most importantly perhaps, it’s a really good way of flexing your writing muscles, especially when in between longer projects or if you’re feeling blocked. There are plenty of online communities with prompts such as photos or words to get you going.
And here is a great piece of Flash Fiction from Marc himself:
My superpowers were ineffectual in the face of this particular adversary. Even though our potency derived from the same source, mine ultimately proved the inferior. I might be able to crush solid steel with my bare hands, but my foe could render me prostrate with an invisible motion.
Little did I know, that when I felt the swell of energy through my body as my uncanny physiology unfolded its transformation, a parallel transformative surge was happening too. As my sinew rippled and expanded to fill my costume, so my cells divided and thickened beneath. As my mitochondrial DNA fuelled my malignancy-fighting bursts, so they also unwittingly stoked a corruption of their own inside my body. A metastasis within Megalopolis.
Having been exposed to gamma waves in childhood, inevitably I was immune to radiotherapy. It baffled the oncologists, but at least they didn’t twig my identity. The chemotherapy was supposed to target the carcinomas just as precisely I’d excised villains. The magic bullet which I myself supposedly represented as the cure for the pathology out on our streets. But like the street antagonists I faced, remove one and three more grow back in their place. In the parlance of myth, we might have said like a many-headed hydra. In the clinical jargon of now, we cannot escape the fact of its tumefaction.
Luckily the hood of my cape covered up the ensuing baldness from the treatment. But the clumps of hair I had to remove from inside each time I divested myself of my costume, reinforced my reversion to mortality at the end of every mission.
Exposure to radiation turns the super-villain’s minds, sends them insane with their power. Allied to their innate malevolence which sees them looking to flout law and authority. With me the process has been slower, far more perniciously indirect. The creeping realisation of the price I have paid with my body divided against itself, has tipped me over the edge. The super-villain never felt any pain, except when I slapped the handcuffs on him. There was no slow erosion of the person they once were. My pain is doubled, the tumescent physical spasms augmented by the leeching away of my inviolability.
The felons simply regarded that they had to dislodge me as an impediment to the wholesale advancement of evil. They could not in all bad conscience see themselves as villainous if I, as a force for good, was allowed to prevail. They could not possibly live and operate as super-villains, if a super-hero was still poised against them. That made them heedless of danger for they did not care if they died, so long as they perished in the act of trying to vanquish me. And that ratcheted up the level of their degradation, made them capable of the most dire outrages.
So what did I achieve? I provided my citizens with the briefest of short-lived remissions. Before the pathology reared up again, more virulent and resistant to any relief I might provide. A superhero is supposed to provide protection, to keep death at bay, yet ultimately I’m unable to achieve either. A superhero can’t be killed, but he can still die. Undermined and overwhelmed by his own frailties. Harking back to the Greek origin of the term ‘hero’. Someone displaying the hubris to imagine they could rise up above the human throng, always to be brought crashing back down by the nagging apprehension that their life is no more elevated than anybody else’s. Narcissus is the more pertinent myth, only the pool that we gaze upon our reflection, turns out to be a mirage.
You can find Marc Nash here: