Saturday, October 28, 2017

Which comes first, the pictures or the words?

I've done it! I've just pushed the "approve proof" button on Amazon and released the latest book from the Writers' Mill, a local writers group that I belong to. It's a children's book, with stories about a small boy called Carl and his rather superior older sister June. We wanted pictures for the book, so I and several other members of the group tried to come up with some. Of course, words are our creative medium of choice, but, though I say it myself, the result looks pretty good. You can find it at https://www.createspace.com/7691295, and maybe soon on Amazon!

All of which got me wondering about authors and illustrators of children's picture books. Of course, Carl and June is not a picture book. But looking at our various illustrating styles, and the various styles of books I was reading recently, I pondered which comes first - the words or the pictures; and who comes first - the author or the illustrator.

For example, Harry The Happy Mouse by n.g.k. illustrated by Janelle Dimmett seems to have an invisible (or scarcely named) author and a very visible (named) illustrator. It's the first in a very cool series of animal stories for children, with smooth rhymes, whimsical text, and illustrations filled with detail and delightful color - almost old-fashioned, but brightly new, if that makes sense. A nicely whimsical font adds to the fun - not so easy to teach reading from, but seriously good for enjoying it. I've really enjoyed the three books I've read so far (Harry the Christmas Mouse and Harry's Spooky Surprise are books two and three). I suppose I should recommend some coffee to go with the read, so I'll suggest a lively easy-drinking two-star brew.

Theodore Down Under by Ashlee and Trent Harding sends a happy teddy bear (Theodore) on a trip to Australia. It's a flying tour, hitting all the highlights with bright simple illustrations and easy text, plus just enough facts to keep an older child interested. The facts probably came before the images but the storyline - I'm guessing author and illustrator worked together to create this one. Maybe they even enjoyed some light crisp one-star coffee.

Moshe Comes to Visit by Tehila Sade Moyal introduces readers to a small human narrator who finds an even tinier friend and learns to overcome fear. It's a very sweet story, nicely entertaining, with a wise lesson. Rhythm and Rhyme are a little awkward at the start but soon feel natural and the pages fly. So which came first? I'm guessing the rhyme. Enjoy with some bright lively two-star coffee.

Muffy & Valor by Karl Beckstrand illustrated by Brandon Rodriguez allows humans and dogs to share the stage in a story about a pet that doesn't get on well with other dogs. But dogs can empathize and dogs can learn. The result is a sweet true story, with pleasingly realistic illustrations, inviting readers to see how they too can learn. I'm pretty sure the story came first with this one, but I love the well-painted feel of the illustrations. Enjoy with some well-balanced, smooth three-star coffee.

The animals in Dinosaur and Monster and the Magic Carpet by Suzanne Pollen are a small child's toys, and it's easy to imagine a child listening to the story and trying to act it out. I'm guessing the images/characters of the protagonists came first, and maybe a real child even played the story before it was written. But of course I'll never know. I do wish it was a little longer though - just as I often wished the stories my children played had endings as well as middles. Enjoy with some light crisp one-star coffee.

And there are stars. Someone must at least have imagined the pictures before writing this one. Brightley and Glow by Sophie Carmen. The blue and yellow stars on the cover are certainly enticing, and the idea of sibling stars is fun. The storyline revolves around the granting of impossible wishes - an interesting fairytale thought for a modern fairytale story perhaps. Enjoy with some more light crisp one-star coffee.






Friday, October 27, 2017

What do you Know?

Today I'm delighted to welcome author Leonora Meriel to my blog. I've just started reading her novels, Woman Behind the Waterfall and The Unity Game, and I find myself wondering, if we're supposed to write what we know and use our imaginations, how does what the author knows feed into imagining the stories she tells? Since she's here as a guest on my blog, I get to ask:


To what extent do you draw on your own life in her writing, 
and to what extent does what you "know" feed into what you imagine?

Thank you so much for being my guest today, Leonora, and I'm eager to learn your answer. Over to you Leonora.


There are different ways of knowing things.

I have been to New York and Kyiv and Shanghai I know what these cities are like.

I have also been in love, and I know how that feels.

I have known things with my body – fear, mistrust, attraction.

And I have had experiences when I have known things with my soul – known them so deeply and entirely and without any prior knowledge – and they have turned out to be absolutely true.

In my writing, I use every level of knowing and I also make sure my characters use these levels of knowing as well.

My first novel “The Woman Behind the Waterfall” was set in Ukraine, a country I had got to

know and love from living there for 10 years and learning the language. I was painstakingly careful to get every detail of Ukrainian life accurate and I had several research trips to different areas and had Ukrainian speakers check my language.

However, the novel is magical realism, and so I also had one of my characters merge into birds and air and storms and plants. I feel that this is part of my knowing, as I have experienced this unity in occasional moments of my life, and I combined these personal moments with the imagination of a child in order to achieve a character who could transform from a girl into other spirits.

My second novel was set in New York, another city where I had lived and knew intimately. Once again, I was incredibly careful with every detail, and re-visited the city and walked the streets to check the colour of the rain on flashlights and streetlights; to check the menu items in the diners and how far the river jogging paths stretched.

However, this second novel “The Unity Game” was also set on a distant planet, and in an after-life dimension. So…… where does knowledge fit into this scenario?

Well, I had researched after-life / near-death experiences widely and also reported alien experiences. So I had a strong body of knowledge from an Earth perspective. And when I came to write the novel, my characters created worlds and took me to places they wanted to inhabit and discover. I would not strictly call this knowledge, but I would say that I was very open to the possibilities of a far wider-reality, and the realities that I wrote about became extremely vivid for me in their creation. In a way, these other realities have now become a part of my own knowledge. I suspect other writers have experience this as well – other worlds opening up to them from delving into novels.

Every one of my books contains parts of my life, from my experiences as a mother, to a young professional in New York, to drinking home-brewed vodka (“horilka”) in Ukraine – and each of them also contains many layers of knowledge gathered through my mind, through my heart, through my body and through my soul.

But the most special knowledge - is that which I have gained through the writing of my books – the new worlds that have been born. I cannot believe that they don’t exist somewhere, somehow – or how else did they flow through my pen with such insistency?

This is something I will ponder for all my life.


The Woman Behind the Waterfall
Heartbreak and transformation in the beauty of a Ukrainian village.
For seven-year old Angela, happiness is exploring the lush countryside around her home in western Ukraine. Her wild imagination takes her into birds and flowers, and into the waters of the river.
All that changes when, one morning, she sees her mother crying. As she tries to find out why, she is drawn on an extraordinary journey into the secrets of her family, and her mother's fateful choices.
Can Angela lead her mother back to happiness before her innocence is destroyed by the shadows of a dark past?
Beautiful, poetic and richly sensory, this is a tale that will haunt and lift its readers.


Reviewers say
“Readers looking for a classic tale of love and loss will be rewarded with an intoxicating world” ~~ Kirkus Reviews
“The language is lyrical and poetic and, in places, begs to be read repeatedly for the sheer joy of it… A literary work of art.” ~~ Fiona Adams, The Richmond Magazine
“Rich and poetic in detail, it is an often dreamy, oneiric narrative rooted in an exaltation of nature… A lovely novel.” ~~ IndieReader


The Unity Game
WHAT IF THE EARTH YOU KNEW WAS JUST THE BEGINNING?
A New York banker is descending into madness.
A being from an advanced civilization is racing to stay alive.
A dead man must unlock the secrets of an unknown dimension to save his loved ones.
From the visions of Socrates in ancient Athens, to the birth of free will aboard a spaceship headed to Earth, The Unity Game tells a story of hope and redemption in a universe more ingenious and surprising than you ever thought possible.
Metaphysical thriller and interstellar mystery, this is a 'complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel' from an exciting and original new voice in fiction.

Find it on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B072DWZBYC/


Reviewers say
 “A complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel.” ~~ Kirkus Reviews
“Elegantly written, expertly crafted and a moving message. I found this book very hard to put down. Moving and poignant.” ~~ Lilly, Amazon US reviewer
“An engrossing, unique, and totally bizarre tale! I could not stop reading it once I started. Such a beautiful take on the afterlife, and its connection to those still living. A unity game, indeed!”~~ Brenna, Goodreads reviewer

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Queen’s University in Canada. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a multinational law firm.
In 2003 she moved from New York to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA, which included a study trip around China and Taiwan, and climbing to the top of Hoverla, Ukraine’s highest peak and part of the Carpathian Mountains. She also served as President of the International Women’s Club of Kyiv, a major local charity.
During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development.
In 2008, she decided to return to her dream of being a writer, and to dedicate her career to literature. In 2011, she completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine. While her first novel was with a London agent, Leonora completed her second novel The Unity Game, set in New York City and on a distant planet.

What do you know?

Today I'm delighted to welcome author Leonora Meriel to my blog. I've just started reading her novels, Woman Behind the Waterfall and The Unity Game, and I find myself wondering, if we're supposed to write what we know and use our imaginations, how does what the author knows feed into imagining the stories she tells? Since she's here as a guest on my blog, I get to ask:


To what extent do you draw on your own life in her writing, 
and to what extent does what you "know" feed into what you imagine?

Thank you so much for being my guest today, Leonora, and I'm eager to learn your answer. Ove


There are different ways of knowing things.

I have been to New York and Kyiv and Shanghai I know what these cities are like.

I have also been in love, and I know how that feels.

I have known things with my body – fear, mistrust, attraction.

And I have had experiences when I have known things with my soul – known them so deeply and entirely and without any prior knowledge – and they have turned out to be absolutely true.

In my writing, I use every level of knowing and I also make sure my characters use these levels of knowing as well.

My first novel “The Woman Behind the Waterfall” was set in Ukraine, a country I had got to know and love from living there for 10 years and learning the language. I was painstakingly careful to get every detail of Ukrainian life accurate and I had several research trips to different areas and had Ukrainian speakers check my language.

However, the novel is magical realism, and so I also had one of my characters merge into birds and air and storms and plants. I feel that this is part of my knowing, as I have experienced this unity in occasional moments of my life, and I combined these personal moments with the imagination of a child in order to achieve a character who could transform from a girl into other spirits.

My second novel was set in New York, another city where I had lived and knew intimately. Once again, I was incredibly careful with every detail, and re-visited the city and walked the streets to check the colour of the rain on flashlights and streetlights; to check the menu items in the diners and how far the river jogging paths stretched.

However, this second novel “The Unity Game” was also set on a distant planet, and in an after-life dimension. So…… where does knowledge fit into this scenario?

Well, I had researched after-life / near-death experiences widely and also reported alien experiences. So I had a strong body of knowledge from an Earth perspective. And when I came to write the novel, my characters created worlds and took me to places they wanted to inhabit and discover. I would not strictly call this knowledge, but I would say that I was very open to the possibilities of a far wider-reality, and the realities that I wrote about became extremely vivid for me in their creation. In a way, these other realities have now become a part of my own knowledge. I suspect other writers have experience this as well – other worlds opening up to them from delving into novels.

Every one of my books contains parts of my life, from my experiences as a mother, to a young professional in New York, to drinking home-brewed vodka (“horilka”) in Ukraine – and each of them also contains many layers of knowledge gathered through my mind, through my heart, through my body and through my soul.

But the most special knowledge - is that which I have gained through the writing of my books – the new worlds that have been born. I cannot believe that they don’t exist somewhere, somehow – or how else did they flow through my pen with such insistency?

This is something I will ponder for all my life.



About the Author



Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Queen’s University in Canada. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a multinational law firm.
In 2003 she moved from New York to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA, which included a study trip around China and Taiwan, and climbing to the top of Hoverla, Ukraine’s highest peak and part of the Carpathian Mountains. She also served as President of the International Women’s Club of Kyiv, a major local charity.

During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development.

In 2008, she decided to return to her dream of being a writer, and to dedicate her career to literature. In 2011, she completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine. While her first novel was with a London agent, Leonora completed her second novel The Unity Game, set in New York City and on a distant planet.

Leonora currently lives in Barcelona and London and has two children. She is working on her third novel. And you can find her online at...




"The Woman Behind the Waterfall" is literary fiction and magical realism

Heartbreak and transformation in the beauty of a Ukrainian village.

For seven-year old Angela, happiness is exploring the lush countryside around her home in western Ukraine. Her wild imagination takes her into birds and flowers, and into the waters of the river.

All that changes when, one morning, she sees her mother crying. As she tries to find out why, she is drawn on an extraordinary journey into the secrets of her family, and her mother's fateful choices.

Can Angela lead her mother back to happiness before her innocence is destroyed by the shadows of a dark past?

Beautiful, poetic and richly sensory, this is a tale that will haunt and lift its readers.


The Unity Game" is science fiction with philosophy

WHAT IF THE EARTH YOU KNEW WAS JUST THE BEGINNING?
A New York banker is descending into madness.

A being from an advanced civilization is racing to stay alive.

A dead man must unlock the secrets of an unknown dimension to save his loved ones.

From the visions of Socrates in ancient Athens, to the birth of free will aboard a spaceship headed to Earth, The Unity Game tells a story of hope and redemption in a universe more ingenious and surprising than you ever thought possible.

Metaphysical thriller and interstellar mystery, this is a 'complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel' from an exciting and original new voice in fiction.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Does dark matter matter?

With the world growing darker (politically and in season), fires burning, waters flooding... I ought to look for something light to read, but I end up haunted by dark matter and enjoying the sense that perhaps we can learn, if not directly from the past then possibly from its fictional recreation. So here I am enjoying Alice in Sinland, Killing the Devil, following Stainer through a collegetown summer of drugs, watching Ruined Wings try to fly, Missing Presumed and Accountable to None. Dark matter indeed, but some of it's hauntingly evocative, literarily beautiful, and gripping to read. And some of it's just dark. Here are some book reviews anyway. Enjoy complex four-star coffee with the more complex reads, and dark five-stars for the darkest ones.

Alice in Sinland by Antara Mann is an oddly surprising dark read. An up-and-coming lawyer is asked, "What do you want?" and realizes she always wanted to be a star. Down the rabbit-hole of modern-day stardom she goes, where dog eats dog, creativity is compromised in the cause of getting known, success is illusion, and everything's evocatively real. Except there's a message here too, part parable, part life, and it's really rather a cool, compelling read. Enjoy with some complex four-star coffee and reserve judgment till you see where it's going.

Killing the Devil by Paul Michael Peters winds a short story collection around the fate of a man who decides to, quite literally, kill the devil. Freewill, temptation, right and wrong... all are explored in a collection that cleverly illustrate that philosophical debate on the necessity of evil. Thought-provoking, blending parable and reality... enjoy some four-star coffee while you read and think.

Stainer: a novel of the “Me Decade” by Iolanthe Woulff is brutally real in its depiction of a young man falling for the temptations of drink, drugs and sex. But a thread of light runs through the novel, keeping reader convinced the ending will be worthwhile (which it is). So... dark, but positive. Literary I think. And a haunting, enthralling and complex read. Enjoy with some complex four-star coffee.

Ruined Wings by Ashley Fontainne explores the drug scene too as a runner with a brilliant future falls to the temptation and solace of addiction. Bad things happen to good people, and actions have consequences. But some actions can save, with the aid of faith, and Ruined Wings is a novel where faith, while prominent, doesn't overwhelm the story or the message. A good read to go with some complex four-star coffee.

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner might be a mystery or a police procedural, it might be literary (I think it is), but most of all it's a dark look at the divides between rich and poor, powerful and weak, educated and unlearned. Set in Cambridgeshire, blending politics, police procedural and social commentary, it's filled with hauntingly real characters, desperate situations, and a thread of odd hope that lifts it and keeps the reader engaged. Drink some complex four-star coffee and expect a long, slow, rewarding read.

Accountable to none, also by Ashley Fontainne, is a very different read. Slow, short, dark, and angry, it's the first in a collection, but the story's sufficiently complete at the end for it to stand alone. This is one to read with a strong small cup of dark five-star coffee. A truly bumpy ride.

For young adults, there's A Life of Death by Weston Kincade, a dark tale of a young boy abused by his stepfather and learning he has a truly remarkable skill, if only he can live long enough to use it. The story is heavy and dark, but the paranormal aspects draw the reader in--at least, they draw me in; maybe the dark heavy descriptions draw in reluctant readers at school. Enjoy with a dark five-star coffee and share with your reluctant reader guy.

Finally, one more dark tale, The Warrior by Ty Patterson. It's a short, exciting thrill ride about a man with a mission, to avenge deaths in the Congo, to kill those responsible, to live out his rage... so definitely dark, and a strange introduction to a series. It's a fast exciting read, from jungle to marble halls, best enjoyed with a short five-star dark coffee.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

What makes it literary?

What makes a novel literary? I know when I was sending those eager submissions to less than eager publishers, I was advised not to call my writing literary - let the publisher decide if they think that's what it is, or so they said.

I decided one publisher, for whom I was reviewing lots of books, was definitely a publisher of literary fiction, only to be told by someone else that they specialized in mysteries. A case of letting the reviewer decide perhaps? Or the reader?

But what would make a mystery literary? Is it just that the story's character-driven, or is it something more--something in the background, the writing style, use of symbols, or perhaps a deeper message between the lines? What makes any story literary?

My own first novel, Divide by Zero, had an experimental style, with lots of characters and lots of points of view. Maybe that just made it hard to read but I wanted to call it literary--I even used symbols in the title! My novel had a message too, about the link between forgiveness and moving on. So would you call it drama or literary? Would you read it?

Infinite Sum is written in a pretty standard first-person style, but its flashbacks are all driven by the protagonist's art. Does that make it literary? The message is forgiveness again--and the hardest person to forgive is always yourself--a topic that's often covered in literary works.

Subtraction came out in August and is a pretty straight-forward third-person story... well, except for interleaved flashbacks as the man who can't forgive himself has to learn to forgive the world. Forgiveness again? One of my friends asked if maybe I've got it out of my system now. But there's a symbol in the title again. Literary? Perhaps.

And then there's Imaginary Numbers, still being critiqued by friends before it goes to the publisher. Technically it's still being (re)written too, and I'm not entirely sure how it gets from A to B. It will go there forwards, mostly. So maybe I'm getting the literary out of my system. But there's still some forgiveness involved, and plenty of mayhem. There again, perhaps there's forgiveness in all relationships.

Anyway, here are some book reviews of novels I kind of think are literary. Put some coffee on and enjoy.

The Running War by E. L. Carter has symbolism--a butterfly trying to escape its cocoon, and a woman running. It has a small cast of great characters. It contrasts cultures convincingly, with haunting images and events. And there's a very cool message--your gift is what you give. Enjoy with some seriously elegant 4-star coffee.

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood offers reflections on the present through an almost plausible near-future where the social contract has possibly been betrayed. It's not quite dystopia, and it invites some surprising questions about the prices we pay for something we like to call freedom. A  literary novel--everyone says so--and a darkly fascinating read filled with great characters and dark mystery. Enjoy with some more elegant 4-star coffee.

In the City of Falling Stars by Chris Tusa is a different kind of literary. Starkly told, darkly humorous, and disturbingly plausible, it's set in New Orleans just after Katrina, and it depicts a family as storm-tossed as the city itself. Mental illness stands in for societal ills, inviting readers to wonder just who has lost touch with reality in our modern world. Great dialog. Haunting images. Enjoy with some dark 5-star coffee.

Is The Pool Boy’s Beatitude by D J Swykert literary fiction? It has intriguing symbolism--intriguing for me, since it involves black holes and the speed of light. It's filled with seriously odd characters. It draws the reader in to the unbelievable while making it believable. There's social commentary hidden between the lines... But maybe it's a thinking man's romance... or maybe... It's a very odd, deeply intriguing read anyway, best served with a dark 5-star coffee. Enjoy.

Then there's The Kill Circle by David Freed, a mystery from the publisher of literary fiction. I reckon it's literary mystery--it's definitely character driven; the plots always have more than just solving clues going for them; and the real mystery is always something different from what it seems. The novel stands alone, even though it's the latest in a series. It's got politics, romance, a mostly distant cat and... well, it's a really good read and it makes you feel like you've read something literary. How's that for a definition? Enjoy with some elegant, complex 4-star coffee.

Friday, October 20, 2017

If you write a book and nobody reads it...?

If a tree falls down and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?
If you write a book and nobody reads it, are you still an author?

One friend loaned me her copy of The Story of With by Allen Arnold. It's a Christian allegory (an annotated allegory perhaps) which reminds creative weirdos like me that it's the creation that counts--the act of creating "with" others and with God--not the marketing and selling and human success.

Another loaned me To Sell is Human by Daniel H Pink, borrowed from the library. And now we're all salespeople, trying to persuade others to give something up (time, energy, money) for promised gain (information, wisdom, a book). I'm trying to persuade you to give up time and read my blog. Maybe I hope you'll give up money and read my books as well, but Pink's point is I'm still selling something, either way. He offers intriguing arguments in the first half of the book (forget used cars), and lots of practical advice in the second. So I worked on the practical and tried to come up with sales pitches for my novels: http://indigoseapressblog.com/2017/10/13/whats-your-pitch-by-sheila-deeth/ But I'm still not sure...

I write a book and nobody reads it, can I still call myself an author?

Please click on the links for my book reviews, and enjoy some lively easy-drinking two-star coffee if you read either of these books (because my book review posts always come with coffee ratings).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

What's in a genre?

The speaker at our local writers' group writes historical fiction, but his characters have traveled in time so it's science fiction, and there's lots of action, maybe even war, so military fiction perhaps, aimed at adults, but some of the characters are teens so adult and young adult, but...

But what's in a genre?

I'm so behind with posting book reviews I'm wondering if I'll ever succeed in collecting them together by genre. Perhaps I should just post and click and post and click again. But let's see how it goes. I'll try for mystery. What's in the mystery genre? And what coffee will you drink with it?

Murder at the Manor by C. T. Mitchell is a pretty short mystery. It's got a murder and the suspects are a very limited group. I think that makes it a cozy mystery. It makes for a fun novella though, and a nice introduction to characters who continue through an Australian detective series. Lady Maggie might be an Australian Miss Marple--I'd have to read more to find out. Enjoy this easy read with some lively 2-star easy-drinking coffee.

Then there's murder & mayhem in goose pimple junction by amy metz, set in a place as alien as Australia to me--the southern US. I don't speak Southern, but the author renders accents and phrases eminently readable, even making the reader believe they've heard those voices in their heads. Plus there's threat to life and limb, maybe some romance, recent history impinging on the present... Perhaps this one's more than one genre too, but cozy mystery is probably top of the list. Enjoy with some more lively 2-star coffee. Cozies are enjoyable easy-reading for vacation (which is why I've spent lots of time reading and very little time posting reviews recently).

Mother’s Day by Frankie Bow combines gritty realism in the misery of university fundraising with cozy mystery and a pregnant protagonist whose mother rules the roost from far away. The protagonist has problems with smells, and the story's full of olfactory pitfalls, providing pleasing humor in a Machiavellian world. It's another short enjoyable read to enjoy with some lively 2-star coffee.

And finally, The Best of CafĂ© Stories by Jerry Guarino is a short story collection thar certainly includes some elements of mystery, from twisted police procedural to twisted humor and romance. Heavily dialog driven, weighted down with detail, they're a much slower read than those first two books, and this volume's more aimed at readers who might pick it up and down, in a cafe for example as the title suggests. Enjoy in small doses with intense 5-star coffee served in small cups.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Still love the classics?

Today I'm delighted to host author Aniesha Brahma as she tours the internet with her Children's Classic Story book. I was one of those weird kids who didn't like fairytales when I was small, but I love them now, and this looks like the sort of collection I might have wished I could read - I can well imagine I would have longed to collect the set.

About the Book:
This gorgeous treasury of ten classic stories is guaranteed to delight and entertain young children, bringing the magic of traditional stories to the new generation of children. Aimed at 8-12 year olds, each favourite fairy tale or story has been sensitively retold for young readers.
The series 'Children's Classic Stories' contains total 100 stories in 10 volumes. The stories in this collection show the consequences of greed, pride, and vanity, but also tell of the love that grows from a kind heart and a cheerful nature.

Volume 1 includes the following stories:
01. Little Red Riding Hood
02. Cinderella
03. Hansel and Gretel
04. Sleeping Beauty
05. Snow White and Rose Red
06. The Emperor's New Clothes
07. Rumplestiltskin
08. The Wise Little Girl
09. Goldilocks and the Three Bears
10. Rip Van Winkle


About the Author:

Aniesha Brahma knew she wanted to be a writer since she was six years old. She was schooled in Dolna Day School and went on to pursue B.A., M.A., and M.Phil in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur Univeristy. She currently lives in Kolkata, with her family and five pet cats. She is the author of All Signs Lead Back to You, When Our Worlds Collide, The Guitar Girl and The Secret Proposal. She compiled and edited the 10 volumes series, 'Children's Classic Stories' with love and great efforts.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What's In A Name?


Today I'm delighted to welcome author John Mugglebee to my blog. I have to confess, I misread the author's name when I first saw it, as I know people in England with the surname Muggleton, related to a historical sect, the Muggletonians. But that's not John's name, so I'm delighted to welcome him here where he can clarify, just What is in a Name?

What’s in a Name?
By John Mugglebee, author of Neespaugot

Neespaugot is a historical novel recounting over several centuries the trials (in some cases, literal ones) and tribulations of a mixed race, multiethnic family. Readers have asked me about a variety of topics ranging from writing technique to history, setting to character, Native American culture to personal influences. But there’s one question nobody has yet asked: What gives with the last name on the book cover?

Mugglebee is a different sort of handle, at once too odd to be a pseudonym yet too unbelievable to be
genuine, despite its obvious Anglo-Saxon skeins. So, is it real? Or is it borrowed from the non-magical folks in Harry Potter? And if it is genuine, what’s its origin? Finally, what part, if any, did the name play in the theme of Neespaugot and in the lives of the story’s characters?
It’s true, my last name is an invention, but it’s no nom-de-plume. I was born with it, my dad as well, but he and his siblings were the first generation to schlep the name from start to finish. My paternal grandparents had been called something different back in the old country, but upon their arrival in America, the old name had been chased from memory, a fairly common practice for the times, since most immigrants preferred to turn their backs on the misery they had left behind and instead face the future head on.

My grandparents came to America in 1882, following what was no doubt a brutal slog across Europe after a murderous escape from the Pale of Settlement. The Pale was a 700-mile-long pen stretching along the Russian Empire’s western frontier, into which Catherine the Great had herded the empire’s Jews where they could be systematically attacked and slaughtered. In 1881, the reformist Tsar Alexander II was assassinated by anti-reform terrorists, but the Russian ministry blamed his murder on the Jews, setting off the worst anti-Semitic attacks in the history of the Pale. Hence, the first mass exodus from Eastern Europe towards America. Somewhere along their road to freedom, my grandparents had let the old family name sink into the muck of history and had embraced the new one.

My dad, born 14 years later, on the eve of a new century, adopted a laissez-faire attitude towards the past. Unlike my mom, who was proud of her family’s multiracial history, my dad was indifferent to his heritage and more than content to carry around a last name that meant nothing to anyone. He considered it an unburdening from convention, and he took full advantage of his freedom, living multiple lives before the age of 40, and then, against his family’s wishes, marrying a “colored” woman half his age.

Each generation saw the name differently. For my grandfather, Mugglebee was a ticket to a better place. For my dad, it represented a Gatsbyesque repudiation of the past. For me, it was a source of embarrassment. Growing up I cringed every time a teacher roll-called my name. It wasn’t just because Mugglebee sounded funny and kids made fun of it and adults wanted to inject an ”S” between muggle and bee. What hurt was not knowing how to respond to, “Where’s that come from?” I felt dumb sputtering, “Erm, I don’t know, it’s made up.” Later, the name would become like the stray dogs that ended up at our place, often ugly, sometimes sick or lame, but definitely mine to be owned and loved.

The story of my name is one of oppression and flight, indomitable courage and resiliency, repudiation and reinvention, recognition and responsibility—all themes that have worked their way into the telling of Neespaugot. Multiple characters are affected for better or worse by a contrived name. The English colonists call the Indian chief Metacom “King Philip” to demean him, but he turns their joke against them. Melba Blue Jay is forced into foreign slavery and prostitution, stripped of her homeland, people and language—and her name. Lydia Freeman carries around a status for a name, free man being an indication to the authorities not to re-enslave her; her deepest sadness is not knowing the names of her parents. Ching Ah Chung is taken as a young boy to America and renamed Joseph in order to cleanse the Chinese out of him. Ezekiel Roxxmott, raised a Jew in a predominantly Italian neighborhood, believes that the names of people are as much a tell as skin color and hair texture, so, to get ahead in life, he changes his own name to Roxxmotto, opens a law practice in Little Italy and runs for mayor of Neespaugot as an Italian-American, with disastrous consequences.

During the famous balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet, the heroine decries the absurdity of something as amorphous as a name stymieing the lovers’ relationship. “What’s in a name? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man.” She’s right—a name in itself is a trifling thing. But whether in affairs of the heart or in a racial and ethnic context, the consequences of a name can be great. A name can present both a means and an impediment to one’s happiness. It can determine one’s fate. What’s in a name? A lot.


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So now I'm wondering, what's in my name. But perhaps that's a post for another day. Meanwhile, if the name of the book Neespaugot or the author, John Mugglebee, has attracted you, let me tempt you to read more:

The tribes of Massachusetts are outnumbered by white men, and the white Christian leader of dark-skinned men has fallen prey to drink. Covenants are null and void, their “terms died with the Sachem.” And nothing changes in politics or war.

So starts John Mugglebee’s tale of Indians and more. A coin minted for trust becomes an emblem of belonging and history. Memories are lost with the land. Love is elusive. And family demands a home.
Well-researched details anchor the story in American history. Well-chosen words bring foreign languages to life without ever feeling intrusive. Well-drawn characters are strong, flawed, determined and relatable. And a genuine sense of human sins and frailties fills the pages, from rejected Indian to runaway slave, from Chinaman to French, from Canada to foreign shores and back.

Neespaugot views human sins through unfiltered eyes, recognizes our crimes, then builds stories and characters each with just enough good in them to feel real. The coin might be a tie to the land, or to an idea, to family, belonging or hope. Or it might just be a coin. The land might belong to tribe or nation or none. But the lives belong solely to themselves, transcendence lies beyond the labels we apply, and all of us are mongrels in the end.

The storyline spreads from past to present, through generations of large and small betrayals, assumptions and denials. It’s beautifully told. It’s characters are hauntingly real. And it’s ending, firmly anchored in the present, is smoothly powerful and achingly real. I really enjoyed it.


Disclosure: I was given an ecopy and I freely offer my honest review. I loved it.


Find out more. Follow the Tour

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus Sept 12 Interview  & Giveaway
A Holland Reads Sept 13 Review & Guest Post
Penny Amazon Reviewer Sept 14 Review
Between the Beats Sept 15 Review & Excerpt
My Reading Journeys Sept 18 Review, Excerpt,  & Giveaway
BookAunt Amazon Reviewer Sept 20 Review
Lisa’s Writopia Sept 26 Review
Lisa’s Writopia Sept 26 Guest Post
Dee Amazon Reviewer Oct 5 Review
The Page Turner Oct 9 Review, Excerpt,  & Guest Post
Sheila’s Guests and Reviews Oct 11 Review & Guest Post
JBronder Book Reviews Oct 25 Review
Room Wihtout Books is Empty Oct 30 Review  


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Ever been to Monsterland?


Today I'm delighted to welcome Monsterland author Michael Okon to my blog. He's touring the internet with Pump Up Your Book, and his monsters... well... there's more to them than most of us will know. Over to you Michael (except I may not be able to resist interrupting), and thank you for visiting my blog.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Monsterland
By Michael Okon

10. I came up with idea of Monsterland while watching an 80s & 90s movie marathon one weekend with my son. (Ah, those movie marathons with sons. Board game marathons. YouTube marathons. Sons are so great to be around!)

9. I called my brother immediately and told him I want to write a story about a theme park with zombies. He told me no, the theme park has to have werewolves, vampires AND zombies. I started beating out the story that night. ( And now I search my files for werewolves, vampire and zombies and wonder what tales they'll tell.)

8. It took me a little over three weeks to complete Monsterland. (That gives me time to write something before Halloween but wait--I'll probably be too busy reading!)

7. I self-published Monsterland in 2015 and it became a best-seller on Amazon. (I'm dreaming. Your monsters beat my monsters I guess.)

6. Within two years of self-publishing, I got a literary agent, an entertainment attorney, a film agent, a publicist, a two-book publishing deal, and film interest from a well-known producer. (Wow !!!!!)

5. Monsterland went from being an indie book in 2015 to the number one pre-ordered book in Teen & Young Adult Zombie Fiction on Amazon in 2017. (Double Wow !!!!!)

4. My brother designed the cover with an artist. (Brothers are cool too, just like sons)

3. There are two massive twists at the end of the book that most readers never see coming. (Now I really want to read it)

2. Monsterland 2 is completed and comes out May 26, 2018. (I really want to read that too!)

1. I have eight Monsterland books planned. (Triple Wow!)


After reading that, I really am thrilled to host Michael Okon's MONSTERLAND Blog Tour today! Leave a comment below to enter the book giveaway!


Title: MONSTERLAND
Author: Michael Okon
Publisher: Wordfire Press
Pages: 232
Genre: Monsters

Welcome to Monsterland—the scariest place on Earth.

The last couple years of high school have not been fun for Wyatt Baldwin. His parents divorce, then his dad mysteriously dies. He’s not exactly comfortable with his new stepfather, Carter White, either. An on-going debate with his best friends Howard Drucker and Melvin over which monster is superior has gotten stale. He’d much rather spend his days with beautiful and popular Jade. However, she’s dating the brash high-school quarterback Nolan, and Wyatt thinks he doesn’t stand a chance.

But everything changes when Wyatt and his friends are invited to attend the grand opening of Monsterland, a groundbreaking theme park where guests can rock out with vampires at Vampire Village, be chased by actual werewolves on the Werewolf River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.

With real werewolves, vampires and zombies as the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong?

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon


Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling is his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.

Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

His latest book is Monsterland.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK



 

Michael Okon is giving away 2 autographed copies of MONSTERLAND!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Two winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive a copy.
  • This giveaway ends midnight December 29.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on December 30.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!



a Rafflecopter giveaway