Last Day! Star Trails Tetralogy Box Set 99c!

STTclassicsale

Today is your last chance to get your ecopy of the entire Star Trails Tetralogy for only 99c! The box set includes “Beyond the Hidden Sky,” “A Dark of Endless Days,” “A Psilent Place Below,” and “Refractions of Frozen Time” as well as “The Star Trails Compendium.” Descriptions of the individual books can be found below as well as at the series’ website, www.StarTrailsSaga.com.

STAR TRAILS TETRALOGY DESCRIPTION

Close families share everything.  Including consequences.  When one of the HIO’s premier terralogists refuses a job offer from a wannabe despot the chain of suspicious circumstances which quickly follow scatter his family across the galaxy.  Torn apart by space and time, will each survive long enough to be united ever again? 

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Volume I: BEYOND THE HIDDEN SKY

A move to another planet that goes horribly wrong.  A power hungry man’s obsession with another’s abilities.  Suspicious circumstances that scatter a family across the galaxy.  Will rescue efforts succeed or make the situation even worse?

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When the Brightstar family leaves fog-shrouded and predictable Mira III for Cyraria they have no idea their comfortable lifestyle is about to end forever.  Even before the starcruiser arrives, shocking events transpire that comprise a parent’s worst nightmare.  Not only is their fourteen year old daughter, Creena, missing but it’s clear her father’s ruthless and power-hungry nemesis plans to exploit the situation to promote his own selfish ambitions. Formidable and lethal challenges await as increasingly suspicious circumstances scatter them across the galaxy.  Will they survive long enough to be together again?

“Sneek Peeks” on Bublish:

REVIEW SAMPLES

“The story begins at warp speed as space travel and its theory weaves throughout the tale of a family separated by mishap and kept apart by intent.” – Editorial Review

“The author’s colorful and animated word sketches give the reader the feel of actually watching or being right in the mix of the story. She brings personality and quirks to the characters as they develop through expressive descriptions and dialogue.” – Amazon Reviewer

“I am an author as well as having taught junior high science for a number of years and think this read would be a fabulous addition to classroom libraries as well as “the hungry for sci-fi lovers” personal bookshelf.” – Amazon Reviewer

“Although geared for the YA market, it is suited for sci-fi audiences for all ages who will thoroughly enjoy the talented professional writing of Marcha Fox’s wonderful expeditions.” – Amazon Reviewer

“All her characters, even creatures on the planets, are outstanding examples of a writer totally in touch with the depths of the subconscious mind, all interacting with their roles of good and evil with hidden spiritual messages as one experiences their own individual growth of consciousness.” – Amazon Reviewer

 ALL AMAZON REVIEWS OF BEYOND THE HIDDEN SKY

BEYOND THE HIDDEN SKY on GOODREADS

Volume II: A DARK OF ENDLESS DAYS

Opposition’s lethal temperatures are more than a simple ballome can’t withstand.  Designing and building a heat-exchanger is the only way they’ll survive.  Obtaining the needed components, however, is another story.

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On a hostile planet like Cyraria terralogists are in high demand and Laren Brightstar is one of the best.  Regional governors compete for positions at the territorial level based on their economic achievements, allowing those with terraforming skills to demand a high price.  Refusing to work for those with devious intent, however, has an even higher price.  Thus the Brightstar family discovers when they’re plunged into a web of political intrigue on a planet cursed with lethal weather where survival can never be taken for granted.  Will their missing daughter return with help or will she remain trapped forever on an alien world?

“Sneek Peeks” on Bublish:

 

REVIEW SAMPLES

“Young people can identify with the children in the family, but this series is for people of all ages. Marcha does transport you to outer space, way into the future, and you will believe you are there with the Brightstar family.” – Amazon Reviewer

“In the vein of old science fiction literature this story could end up as another classic. Its original, with all the components, technology, other world and races, and a contact with Earth.” – Amazon Reviewer

“Written in a technically proficient yet engaging style this book is sure to captivate science fiction lovers of all ages!” – Amazon Reviewer

“Fox once again does an exceptional job building character and making her created universe a reality. I can’t turn a page without picturing the story in my mind and visualizing each character.” – Amazon Reviewer

 ALL AMAZON REVIEWS OF A DARK OF ENDLESS DAYS

A DARK OF ENDLESS DAYS on GOODREADS

Volume III: A PSILENT PLACE BELOW

Taking refuge in the Caverns is like a dream come true.  But the dreams generated by their mysterious depths promise death or worse.  Is forewarned really forearmed?  Or another lure into the Integrator’s grasp?

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Going underground to escape Cyraria’s harsh climate brings more than a few surprises besides the hospitality of an indigenous race known as the bnolar.  The caverns feel strangely like home, but shortly after their arrival prophetic visions in the form of veridical dreams alert them to upcoming danger.  Incarcerated in a territorial prison, Laren Brightstar is about to receive and refuse Augustus Troy’s final offer, after which he’ll be exiled permanently to a place from which there is no return.  Will Dirck and Win’s rescue succeed?

“Sneek Peeks” on Bublish:

 

REVIEW SAMPLES

“The specific and very detailed description of the places and of the characters say so much about the author’s capacity to depict all of it with words, making your imagination start running freely in the process.” – Amazon Reviewer

“[The author] has created an entire world and its inhabitants along with various languages and races that each have unique abilities and qualities. Her extensive knowledge in science is evident in the explanations that are utterly believable.” – Amazon Reviewer

“A highly intelligent and prolific read, you really get a feel for the authors experience given she had a career at NASA. Speaks to the insight and depth of the book, well thought out and concise.” – Amazon Reviewer

ALL AMAZON REVIEWS OF A PSILENT PLACE BELOW

A PSILENT PLACE BELOW on GOODREADS

Volume IV: REFRACTIONS OF FROZEN TIME

A discovery that links two dimensions of time.  A prison ship’s dirty little secret.  Esheron has answers but can they access them before it’s too late? 

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The discovery of a mineral that manipulates space and time provides the potential to reunite the Brightstar family at last.  Controlling it, however, is another matter.  With the Integrator closing in on the ability to destroy anyone for whom they have a mindprint, finding the secret of manipulating the two dimensions of time becomes a matter of life and death.  But is time their ally or another enemy?

“Sneak Peeks” on Bublish

REVIEW SAMPLES

“Author Marcha Fox has a gift for explaining the science. The detailed world she creates in the Star Trails Tetralogy is genius, so well thought out and crafted. As the Brightstar youngsters observe and understand their surroundings, their conclusions can be coloured by their Miran schooling, but when they break old habits and open their minds in order to survive this hostile planet they now call home, these children achieve the incredible. Quite Beautiful.” – Amazon Reviewer

“What sets this apart from run-of-the-mill ” space operas is Fox’s experience during her tenure at NASA. She draws upon her technical expertise and enhances it with fact-based theory that gives this as much of a ‘what-if’ perspective as you can expect within the genre. The moral and philosophical questions also give us much to reflect upon.” – Amazon Reviewer

“[The author’s] creativity and imagination never fall short but always leave me wanting more. Each character has been carefully crafted and developed. I enjoyed watching the children develop and grow from bickering teens to collaborative young adults. The final climax had me shivering as the forces of dark and light came hurtling together into an unexpected and shocking end.” – Amazon Reviewer

ALL AMAZON REVIEWS of REFRACTIONS OF FROZEN TIME

REFRACTIONS OF FROZEN TIME on GOODREADS

BOX SET BUY LINKS

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1kAJxRn

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/550675

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/star-trails-tetralogy-box-set

iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/star-trails-tetralogy-box-set/id1007498996

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/star-trails-tetralogy-box-set-marcha-fox/1122157702

Stock Photo Copyright: kjpargeter / 123RF Stock Photo

An Expert’s View of Brexit

Small Island Big History (1)

One of the hot topics this week has been Brexit, Great Britain’s decision (at least England’s) to leave the European Union (EU). I find it interesting and perhaps a bit ironic that it came so close to the USA’s Independence Day, July 4. However, whether or not the decision will stand or be reversed via the Bremain movement is yet to be seen as more and more ramifications of the decision evolve.

This was the perfect time to interview author and historian, Christopher Berg, author/compiler of a book of essays on the British Empire entitled “Small Island, Big History.” I love the cover, which was a real eye-opener regarding Britain’s conquests over the centuries. Truly, British influence is worldwide, something that’s easily forgotten today when Britain’s prominence has retreated since the last century.

Let’s see what an expert on the subject has to say.

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MF: As a historian, especially with regard to the UK, did you see “Brexit” coming when the EU began to stumble a few years ago?

CB: No, I did not, though in hindsight, the UK was reluctant to relinquish the British pound for euros as it would have diluted their purchasing power, but, aside from this, the only one who probably saw it was Niall Ferguson.

MF: Do you think it was skepticism toward the EU at its inception that motivated the UK to retain its own currency and not accept the euro?

CB: That might be part of the answer but such matters are rarely so simple or cut-and-dry.  In an international context, the sovereignty of a nation must be maintained and to devalue, dilute, or jettison a national currency in favor of a new and untested common currency linked to dozens of other nations of varying economic strength and solvency was problematic for the British.

MF: The British Empire influenced the entire world with its conquests, largely by planting substantial populations imbued with its culture throughout the globe. From South Africa to India, New Zealand and Australia, there is no doubt that the British have enjoyed a worldwide influence. While over the past several decades, independence has been granted to several commonwealths, some peacefully, others not so much, with its extensive history of imperialism, why do you think that the UK joined the EU in the first place?

CB: Self-interest.  That is the primary motivation for most first-world nations and, perhaps, many aspiring nations that want to join the ranks.  And, it was an evolving economic reality and to keep markets stable and encourage and maintain good trade relationships with her continental neighbors, the British pondered long and hard about their entry into such an economic community.

MF: Do you think there was a single coup de grace that drove England to withdraw from the EU?

CB: The issue with many European banks bordering on the brink of collapse, the considerable economic tensions escalating with such countries as Ireland, Spain, Italy, and Greece, as well as the issue of a “bail-in” in Cyprus was startling news to many, including Germany.  The specific issue or trigger is much more difficult to pinpoint, if there is one.  Again, I would defer to Niall Ferguson, the imminent Harvard economic historian.

MF: Britain’s conquests have been anything but friendly, which earned her a lot of opposition based on her reputation for an iron hand and brutal enforcement. Do you think being tromped during WWII took her entirely by surprise? What affect did that have on her subsequent policies toward her commonwealths and the world in general?

Chris_HeadshotCB: WWII caught Britain by surprise in some respects.  The fall of Singapore, for example, suggests that they really had little intelligence on the “strength” or “state” of their empire.  It was simply the leadership of Winston Churchill that gave the British people the moral resolve to withstand the Nazi threat in 1940-41 and the budding friendship of Churchill and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt known as the “special relationship.”  Churchill was willing to make many compromises in terms of relinquishing colonies, and, as a former Colonial Secretary, was more even-handed in his approach to the colonies.  However, the shock of losing the empire after 1945 and the rise of self-determination brought a tough decision on how to move forward.  The British had lost their preeminent position of the Victorian Age and, now with the rise of the United States as the world superpower, a new balance-of-power had been thrust upon Great Britain.  Churchill’s prescience and a concern for home and social matters helped to ease the transition of Britain from a recognized world power to that of a secondary role.

MF: The initial response of the financial markets toward England’s withdrawal from the EU was unfavorable for its currency. What do you think the long term effect will be, to strengthen or continue to weaken the pound?

CB: I think that the move to withdraw from the EU was Britain’s response to growing uncertainty, the rise of international unrest, and economic instability in many EU-member countries.  In the short term, I think this was a defensive move to maintain the pound’s position.  The long term position is much harder to discern as economics is a volatile area that is very difficult to manage, much less be proactive about.

MF: What lessons should remaining members of the EU take from England’s withdrawal? Do you think others will follow?

CB; I do think that others might follow suit and others have expressed interest, such as Germany.  The stronger economies will definitely begin to re-think their present position and the international effect is only beginning to be felt, even here in the United States.

MF: What effect will this break for freedom have upon England’s citizenry? Do you think it will restore their pride and increase nationalism in a dramatic way?

CB: So far, it has shown to have a galvanizing effect upon the British people, a sense of renewed solidarity, and, perhaps, even a return to protectionist policies.

***

You can pick up a copy of “Small Island, Big History” at the following links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Create Space

Additional Book Information

Quest Publications

Author Biography

 

BLOG HOP: “MIRROR OF OUR LIVES: Voices of Four Igbo Women”

Book Cover

In Mirror of Our Lives, four Nigerian women share the compelling tales of their troubled lives and failed marriages, revealing how each managed to not only survive, but triumph under difficult and repressive circumstances.

Njide, Nneka, Miss Nelly, and Oby relive their stories of passion, deceit, heartaches, and strength as they push through life—each on a unique journey to attain happiness, self-respect, and inner peace. But none of the women’s journeys is without misjudgments and missteps.

Njide falls in love at first sight, marries Tunji too quickly, and is dismayed when Tunji shows his true colors. Nneka once thought that she and Oji were the perfect couple—until Oji traveled to the United States. Miss Nelly is a kind and good natured woman who allows everyone to take advantage of her—even her husband, whom she married only for his name. But everyone wonders why Oby and Mat even married at all, for their marriage was a battle from the very beginning.

The tales in Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women will inspire women around the world to never give up, to discover a sense of worth, and most of all, to learn to love themselves above everything else.

Background To The Story:

It is important to give a brief background information on the history of this book. In my culture, it is a great luxury for a woman to be educated. This situation is still prevalent in certain parts of Nigeria, especially in the North, where the people are Muslims. In the South, women education has made a very deep inroad. It was a battle that the women themselves fought and won. Today, in our Universities, the population of the women is more than those of men. But there was a time, when, even in the South, the choice to educate the kids in a family, fell on the male children. The male child was always chosen over the female child, and the female child was bundled off into an early marriage. Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women, is the story of the victory that education has given to four Igbo women. It is also the story of what education can do for women, especially , women in the Muslim areas of Nigeria where education is still tabu for the women to attain happiness, self-respect and inner peace. But none of the women’s journeys is without misjudgments and missteps. You can also read the reviews on the book on Amazon.om and on Barnes & Noble.

An Interview with Adebowale On Mirror of Our Lives

(1) Your debut novel, Mirror of Our Lives, focuses on four Nigerian women who went through hardship but triumphed under such difficult and repressive circumstances. Is it right, therefore, to say that you are a female rights campaigner, or a feminist?

JLB: Thank you Adewale for your interest in my book, Mirror of Our Lives. Right now, I am writing you from California, where I am performing the “Omugwo” for my daughter who recently had a baby. When I sent you a complimentary copy of my book last April, 2012, I sent copies also to as many Nigerian newspapers and magazines, as I could find. Since then you are the second newspaper to show interest. Thank you very much for this. To answer your question, I do not like to be hedged into any type of category. I am for justice for all, for each person to be treated humanely, and for the disadvantaged to be given the opportunity to excel.

(2) One of the characters in the book is Njide. How much of your real self is reflected in Njide’s life?

JLB: One thing I learnt in my writing class is that no writer writes from a vacuum. You write from what you know, from personal experience, and then go from there to create a world, or in this case a situation that does not only reflect your personal experience, but all other experiences similar to yours. I am not totally Njide, but Njide lived a lot of my personal experiences, as well as the experiences of other women I have come to know.

(3) If Njide’s life is part of your story, then the other three characters — Nneka, Miss Nelly and Oby — must also have a link with you; can you share this with us?

JLB: Just as I said in my answer to your second question, after writing about Njide, I found it easy to fictionalize the experiences of other women I know. The names I used are not the names of the women whose stories I told, and the stories I told did not reflect the experiences of any particular woman. I wanted any woman who read the story to relate to it, and many women whom I know who read the story have called to tell me that the story of one of the women or the other is the story of their lives. This is what I wanted, to tell a universal story.

(4) In your opinion, do you think the average woman is getting her credit in her contribution to societal good?

JLB: In my opinion, women are doing better today than they did in the past, but that is not to say that they are getting the credit they deserve. I would like to see very hard working women given recognition based on their work. We see a lot of women today, especially in our society getting on based on who they know, and not on their contribution in their areas of specialization. God fatherism in whatever shade or colour, to whom ever uses it, male or female, should not be condoned in public service. We see a lot of this happening in our country.

(5) Mirror of Our Lives is an interesting read. When next is the public reading another story from you?

JLB: I am working on it.

(6) The book is actually published by a foreign publisher; was there a reason why you didn’t approach our local publishers?

JLB: There were two main reasons why the book was not published by a local publisher; first, I wrote the book while I was still living and working in the United States, so I was more familiar with the publishing scene of the US. Secondly, if you notice, the book is a self-published book. I did not want to suffer any rejection on this book as I did in my other attempts to publish. I believed so much in this book that I wanted it out by all means, and iUniverse provided me the opportunity  to self-publish.

Author Pic

Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko

Joy’s Bio

Joy Nwosu was born in Enugu, Anambra State of south-eastern Nigeria. Her parents were Charles Belonwu and Deborah Nwosu. She is the fifth in rank of the seven children of her parents. Joy was born into a music family.

Joy, now retired, was a music teacher, trained in Santa Cecilia, Rome, and obtained her Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Michigan, USA.

She has written and published extensively on national and international scholarly journals, magazines, and newspapers.

Her short story I Come from Utopia was published in African Voices, Spring/Summer, 2007, pg. 18, and her first English novel; Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women was published in 2011, and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Contest in 2012. She has also two books published in the Italian language.

Joy is a trained musician, and taught music for 35 years.  She writes, performs, and record folk songs.

Her new book: The Legend of the Walking Dead: Igbo Mythologies, which has just been released, is a journey into the mysteries of life and death of the Igbos of Nigeria.  She loves reading romances and mystery stories.

Websites:      http://sbpra.com/joylobamijoko/  Mirror of Our Lives …..

                         http://sbprabooks.com/JoyNwosuLoBamijoko/ Legend of the Walking…

Buy Mirror of Our Lives…Amazon Link:

http://www.amazon.com/Mirror-Our-Lives-Women/dp/1450278965

Barnes & Noble Link

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mirror-of-our-lives-joy-nwosu-lo-bamijoko/1102630079?ean=9781450278966

Link to my Blog:       jinlobify.Com

Face BookLink: https://www.facebook.com/joy.lobamijoko

Link to my LinkedIn Book Add

http://goo.gl/fT1P2O

Trailer: Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women

https://youtu.be/UhSyMaUz0Uk

Twitter Handle:         @Jinlobify

“Wandering Feelings” by Boyko Ovcharov: A Glimpse into the World of Those Driven by Emotion

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Much of the prose in this story was poetic and beautifully rendered, such that it did an excellent job of capturing feelings, which can be elusive and difficult to describe with words. The descriptions of various places provide excellent imagery and added to the dreamy, flowing nature of the story. The style is definitely unique and doesn’t conform to formula writing. There is no plot in the usual sense most readers expect and the characters are nameless. In other words, it breaks plenty of rules, yet in its own way, as a chronolog of feelings, it “works.”

As an astrologer, this story struck me as a great example of getting inside the head of someone driven by emotion, such as those born under a Water Sign (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces). If you’re not a deeply emotional person, you’re likely to see the characters in this book as illogical and possibly even dysfunctional in their inability to dismiss their unloving, materialistic upbringing and get on with their lives. However, for someone ruled by emotion, this is not easily done.

And for those driven by logic, not easily understood.  In fact, this latter group will probably be unable to understand the emotions expressed in this story. They may feel uncomfortable and perhaps even disgusted with the characters, who simply can’t seem to “get over it.” This is something that can cause great divides in relationships when people can’t understand how others are programmed. We’re all egocentric to some degree, especially when we’re younger, and think everyone sees the world as we do, or at least should.

Thus, if you fully relate to this book and become blissfully immersed in its beautiful prose and deeply felt emotions, you’re probably an emotional person yourself. Those who roll their eyes, keep waiting for something to happen worth noting or for the characters to get a grip and quit whining are probably logical by nature.

The richest part of life is often that which is felt. Those who have never fallen deeply in love, felt overwhelming joy or even its antithesis of debilitating emotional pain, are missing something. I believe this book is most important for those who don’t understand how deeply emotions can operate because it introduces them to a world with which they are entirely unfamiliar. Emotions are not always positive, e.g. love, but can be viciously destructive as well. Understanding that brings new insights into human nature, of which no one can ever have too much.

Rather than dismissing or criticizing the book or the characters, learn from it. Yes, there are people out there who are that tied to their emotions. If you’re not one of them, this is an example of what you’re missing, for good or ill.

You can find it on Amazon here.

Review of “Both Sides Now” by John Reinhard Dizon

bothsidesnowcover6

This unique story entirely sucked me in. It has so much substance I scarcely know where to begin. The characters are incredibly real, not only the protagonist, but the supporting ones as well. It feels like real life because there are so many others involved with their own agendas. In this sense, it reads more like a biography as opposed to a novel. The plot is likewise incredibly complex and convincing while it skillfully portrays a slice of history representative of the 60s era.

Lucien Triskellion obtains his PhD in Germany and accepts a teaching job at New York University teaching German. Lucien is a big guy who was a champion amateur wrestler during his college years. It doesn’t take long for someone to notice the fact he can press 500 pounds and lure him into the professional wrestling circuit. If you’re not a wrestling fan, don’t let this stop you from reading this book. I, personally, couldn’t care less about this pseudo-sport, yet I enjoyed this story tremendously because it went so far beyond that. Wrestling comprises numerous settings, but the story was so character-driven that it was comparable to meeting someone really interesting and listening to their life’s story. For example, the dichotomy of Lucien’s life as a university professor versus that of a pro-wrestler, in which he was cast as a bad guy, is gripping in and of itself. If you’re a wrestling fan, then you’ll undoubtedly love it even more as it brings the human element alive with the conflict behind the scenes.

Of course with a young, hot protagonist like Lucien, there’s going to be a romantic angle. This involves Anneliese Krieger, another German immigrant, who lives with her father. As if Lucien doesn’t already have enough going on in his life, Anneliese’s father is falsely accused of Nazi war crimes incident to WWII which results in a gripping trial which is loaded with additional suspense.

The details of all elements of this novel are so vivid and convincing it was easy to get lost in it and forget that it wasn’t real. The author has the masterful ability to include just the right amount of detail to build strong imagery, clear sense of place, as well as character appearance and development. Whether it’s an address in New York City, a famous restaurant, Madison Square Garden, or legal terminology or courtroom protocol, you feel as if you’re there. Needless to say, this book would make an incredible movie.

They say an author should write what he knows, and clearly Dizon knows wrestling, which shows in how he immerses the reader in this crazy world. He’s footnoted some of the unusual terminology and slang, which helps if you’re unfamiliar with it. The business and politics of this sport are explored and exposed as well as the various complications this adds to Lucien’s life and even reflect on the trial of Anneliese’s father. While some of the detail regarding the players in the wrestling business was somewhat overwhelming, possibly a bit overdone, it nonetheless added to the story’s amazing credibility.

I don’t often find myself in a position where I’ll actually miss the characters of a book, but I felt as if Lucien and Anneliese were personal friends by the time it ended. If you enjoy a meaty novel with a different setting, strong, well-developed characters, and a breathless ride through the 60s, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this book. I absolutely give it 5-stars.

You can pick up a copy on Amazon here.

The Best of Times and the Worst of Times

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Forgive me for borrowing the title from Dickens. As you may have guessed, the context, however, is entirely different. I’m talking about publishing.

Truly it’s the best of times for those of us who burned out trying to find a commercial publisher. I remember how excited I was when I found out you could publish your book on Kindle and even more excited when Create Space came along so you could actually hold your book in your hands. Long ago I discovered that, like so many other parts of life, finding an agent, much less a publisher, was quite political. I’m sure you’ve encountered books that were commercially published that sucked worse than a day-old calf. Just the memory of a few I remember is enough to make me shudder. So bringing the DIY world to self-publishing without the thousands of dollars required for a vanity press was like a gift from Heaven.

However, there was definitely a downside. First of all, there’s the competition. In the days when books were only available in, well, bookstores, there was limited shelf space. Thus, most books had a shelf life of about six weeks with a print run of a few thousand copies. Then they were remaindered, i.e. sent back to the publisher, sold to the highest bidder or perhaps the covers ripped off and tossed. Bookstores could only hold so many books and your chance at fame were thus limited.

Now, thanks to e-books as well as print on demand (POD) publishing, books are available ad infinitum, both in time and number. This is a good thing because it gives you all the time in the world to hawk your book. It’s a bad thing, because now there are literally millions of books competing with yours.

Of course when a market is saturated, that also drives down the price. It’s never been easy to make a living as an author and it’s even more difficult now. Readers have come to expect their books to be free, maybe 99c for an author they love. Even if they pay more, especially if it’s someone who prefers print books, selling a print book via Create Space’s “expanded distribution” usually earns you something in the neighborhood of $0.18.

Yeah.

And if the book is used, the author won’t even get that. Bear that in mind the next time you buy one.

As if that’s not bad enough, it costs money to be an author. Having a computer and word processor software is assumed in today’s world. But unless you can do everything yourself, there’s a matter of line editors, content editors, copy editors, book interior designers, and cover designers, perhaps even voice actors. Then there’s the expense of maintaining a website and a presence on social media, which seem to be spawning new platforms like mushrooms after a spring rain. There are book promoters, book fairs, and marketing classes, plus, to maintain your sanity, you may need to hire a personal assistant to keep up with it all. The bad news is that everyone makes money but you. The good news is that it’s a good tax deduction. Just don’t ever make the mistake by referring to it as a hobby with the IRS.

blackboard_writer2So why on Earth do we write? Because we have to. It’s something inside us that needs to come out. It’s that creative spark of self-expression that makes us feel alive. If we can share it with others, all the better. But the fact is, it’s something we’re born with and can’t deny.

Yes, it’s the best of times and the worst of times.There’s a whole lot to bitch about. But when all is said and done, being able to hold your book in your hand is priceless. The only thing better is finding a five-star review.

The Importance of Formatting

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Typos, grammar and such are an amazingly common complaint in reviews, something which many indy authors encounter at some point. However, there’s another issue that can get you a bad rapp (or rep, as the case may be) that you may not even be aware of–formatting.

The guidelines for a printed book with an interior that looks professionally done are substantially different than those for an ebook. Considering how there’s a good chance most of your readers are going to opt for the electronic version, it’s in your best interest to make sure that it looks professional as well, not like an afterthought.

I suspect that numerous indy authors, after getting their book set up on Create Space, simply hit that button on the last screen to publish their book in Kindle format. This is all well and good, but don’t trust that automated process to produce an electronic version that looks anything like the printed one. At the very least, check it yourself, especially if your printed version has dropped caps at the beginning of each chapter.

The first thing you need to do is save a second copy of your book to use for the electronic version prior to formatting it for print. Then you can add headers, footers, chapter headings, dropped caps and so forth to the printed version without introducing potential corruption into the electronic version. If you’ve already done the formatting, then obviously when you save that second copy it will be to remove such things. typewriterEither way, it’s a lot easier than the old days, when authors wrote on a device like the one shown to the right. Those of you who haven’t had that experience don’t even want to know what it was like handling simple revisions that changed the pagination. Gives me a panic attack just thinking about it.

If you want to produce a professionally formatted ebook, the best guide for doing so is the Smashwords Style Guide, which you can download for free from their website here.

Even if you don’t use Smashwords’ service (perhaps because you’ve opted into Kindle Unlimited, which requires giving Amazon exclusive rights to sell your work), the instructions will enable you to format a clean version that won’t aggravate readers enough to blast you with a bad review. It takes a little extra work, but it’s worth it.

Writing a book entails a lot of hard work, but that’s just the beginning. If you want it to be well-received by readers, it also needs to provide a comfortable reading experience. It’s not difficult to do and will be worth it. If it’s not something you care to tackle, then check into some of the services that will do so for a reasonable price, such as Fiverr.com.

Showing respect and appreciation to your audience starts with clean copy. Getting yanked out of a story by errors of any type, whether they’re typos, incorrect spelling, punctuation problems or formatting in nature, is not only distracting, but annoying. Some readers are more forgiving than others in overlooking such things, but sure as death and taxes, sooner or later, a reviewer will say so.

After all the time, sweat and blood you’ve put into your story, don’t let its message be diluted or even lost due to careless formatting. Take care of your readers and they’ll take care of you.

Interview with Author/Historian, Augustine Kobayashi

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Augustine Kobayashi

What better way to commemorate Memorial Day than with a history lesson?

Tokyo-born Augustine Kobayashi, author of “Japan’s Pacific War”, earned postgraduate degrees in modern international history and Byzantine history at Leeds and London Universities in the U.K. In the following interview he shares insights that convinced me that what’s needed in politics today is more attention to historians and less to lawyers, businessmen and career politicians. Historians possess a perspective that could work through differences in a diplomatic fashion while never forgetting the fact that future generations will be affected by those decisions. Most of what we see today are those seeking only to expand their own wealth and power. The few who know anything about history only use it to further their own agenda, not improve the human condition.

MF: What motivated you to research and subsequently write your book, “Japan’s Pacific War”?

AK: I had been writing some historical articles for Historical Quest ezine, and I got some responses from readers for my article explaining how Japan’s war in China in the 1930s and the Pacific War were linked. Many reacted saying that they had no idea how the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) directly led to WW2 in Asia. I felt that we have a knowledge gap in this area of 20th century history, and thought that I could make some contributions to fill it. As for the American side of the story, there are many excellent books out there, so I decided to tell Japan’s story, from a Japanese perspective. When I was a student back in Leeds University, UK, I did research on Anglo-American relations in the 1920s, including some naval strategic discussions, such as how Japan’s stance in the world stage might affect international politics. In a way, this current book of mine is the fruition of my past historical studies.

MF: What surprised you the most regarding Japan’s decision to attack Pearl Harbor? Do you think they were realistic in their expectations of the outcome?japan_for web

AK: In hindsight, Japan’s decision to attack Pearl Harbor is incredible, but, having gone through Japanese history of the 1930s, I have found that it is not really so surprising. Given the pre-WW2 American isolationism and Eurocentric tendency of the USG(overnment), giving strategic and diplomatic priorities to the solving of European situation, if they didn’t think that the USA would react by mobilizing the whole economy for war to crush Japan no matter what, it is understandable that they miscalculated this way. This is the time before TV or the Internet. People were not well informed and the Japanese public knew nothing about the outside world. The Japanese military basically thought that the US would be too busy fighting Germany or even be defeated and all they had to do was to immobilize the US Fleet a while, pick off Western colonies in the Western Pacific one by one and hold out until the European war was settled in favour of the Berlin-Tokyo Axis. If Germany had won, these expectations would have been deemed as quite realistic. Ironically, they attacked Pearl Harbor just when Germany tasted her first defeat in front of Moscow.

MF: As a student of Byzantine history, what is the most important lesson you believe it holds for those of us living in modern times?

AK: Things change. The secret of longevity of the Byzantine Empire was its ability to reinvent itself every now and then after crises. So much so that, even though it’s real designation should be the ‘Roman’ Empire, modern historians, who are so fond of the Classical image of Imperial Rome, feel uncomfortable with the designation ‘Rome’ and use ‘Byzantine’ instead for the empire after the 4th or 5th centuries. But this is precisely the point: it changed its shape and cultural characteristics so much to cope with the changing political, economical and military environment surrounding the empire, after several centuries, it was almost unrecognizable. So, the lessons for us are: be flexible and accept changes. Rely on your ingenuity rather than muscle power.

MF: A common saying is “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” What is your favorite example of a culture or country failing to learn from previous civilizations?

AK: There are so many, it is difficult to single out a favourite one. As I live in Japan now, I’m concerned with China at the moment, as she seems to be in danger of repeating Japan’s mistakes in the 1930s and the 1940s. Given that China was the chief victim of Japan’s aggression in those decades, it would be so ironic. Hope the Chinese are capable of learning from others’ mistakes.

MF: The world today has a lot of problems. Based on your studies, what do you think is the most important thing world leaders should do to avoid another World War?

AK: Do not let others fear you too much. A cornered beast tends to lash out, which was the case for Japan in 1941; and I suspect that that is what is happening with the Islamic militants right now. The Byzantine Empire fought a devastating war with its rival, the Persian Empire in the 7th century, which in turn led to the Islamic Arab conquests. The Persians started this war as they were so worried over the reviving power of the Byzantine Empire (in 476AD, they had gleefully been watching the fall of the West; but now alarmed by the Byzantine reconquests of North Africa and Italy in the 6th century).

Christianity as soft power of Rome, its spread among small countries and ethnic groups geographically surrounding Persia frightened her leaders. Persia attacked Rome when internal power struggle at the capital Constantinople momentarily paralyzed the Byzantine war machine as a heaven-sent and only opportunity to strike. In modern times, in WW1, both Germany and England were motivated by the need to weaken their rivals before they became too strong. Japan’s war in China in the 1930s was partly due to a resurgent China and thus Japan’s fear of losing their top dog status in Asia. As for solutions to this problem of power imbalance, I don’t really know. Probably we have to find out by working patiently through diplomatic effort.

guscropMF: What are you finding in your current research into Syriac Christianity and its spread into Persia that relates to modern tensions between Christians and Muslims?

AK: Persia’s state religion was Zoroastrianism at the time, but Christianity was gaining ground. It seems that Jesus’ saying that he came to fulfill old religion applied to Persia also! When you realise that Judaism had also been strongly influenced by Persia, which released Jews in captivity and allowed them to return to Jerusalem, you can see that Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians were not that very different. And Persia can be a very tolerant place for different religions.

But inevitably, religion and politics cannot be separated completely; conflicting socio-economic and political forces often clashed along religious lines, causing internal instability and external wars. As in my answer to question No.5, as Rome’s power grew, Christianity was seen as a threat by the Persians. At this stage, Roman Christianity became a political religion, which forced a political response from Rome’s rival(s). I think that today’s problems we have with Christians and Muslims are fundamentally the same: they are not really in conflict in terms of religion, but, whenever communal tensions arise and political conflict develops, they unfurl their respective banners and try to protect themselves by rallying around them. Some hotheaded young men often employ rhetoric of religious mission etc., but they do not really represent what should be the majority view.

MF: Do you think it will ever be possible for those two religions, which actually have similar roots, to make peace with one another?

AK: The answer should be yes. Different religious communities usually live in peace side by side most of the time anyway. It is a time of political tensions when religious communities are pitted against one another. The Coptic Egyptian Christians, for example, had lived in a relative calm for nearly 2,000 years until very recently. They should be able to go back to that, normal state. In Syria, sadly, the Christians appear to be being exterminated or displaced permanently, but, once a politically stable Syria could be achieved, Christians and Muslims should be able to live side by side again. But so long as political forces exploiting religious differences remain too strong, it might be a while before that could happen.

Pick up your electronic copy of “Japan’s Pacific War” on Amazon here.

Paperback: https://www.createspace.com/6222626

Read more about Augustine: http://www.quest-publications.com/authors/kobayashi/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15168533.Augustine_Kobayashi

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/augustine.kobayashi

Publisher’s Book Link: http://www.quest-publications.com/books/japans-pacific-war/

Spotlight Author Blog Tour: Meet Kim Cox!

I’m excited to be a part of RRBC’s Spotlight Author Blog Tour! This week’s featured author is Kim Cox, who writes in several genres, one or more of which is likely to be on your list of favorites. If you’re a fan of the TV series, “The Ghost Whisperer”, then her Lana Malloy series is just what you’ve been waiting for! Keep reading to learn more about Kim and this intriguing series.

Lana Malloy Paranormal Mystery Series

In the LANA MALLOY PARANORMAL MYSTERY SERIES, Lana Malloy is a psychic, private investigator who is on a mission to help the dearly departed even when they don’t realize they need help. With each book, Lana’s psychic abilities grow. As she’s pushed to new limits, she learns she’s capable of much more than she knew.

In book one, HAUNTED HEARTS, Lana sets out to solve her first case—the twenty-year old cold-case and double murder of her great aunt and her great aunt’s fiancé. If she succeeds, they’ll spend eternity together; if she can’t, they’ll be stuck as Haunted Hearts. With the help of the ghosts and a new love interest, she is able to find the murderer.

In book two, GET OUT OR DIE, the success of Lana’s first case has spread throughout the local Charleston area and her business is booming. At one pro-bono job, Lana helps a widow communicate with her late husband where she learns of a frightening new ability—an ability that could give the next spirit, an angry ghost, the upper hand if she’s not careful.

In book three, THE WEDDING CRASHER, Lana is on her honeymoon in Gatlinburg, Tennessee when she learns that a recurring vision about an abducted woman took place in nearby Knoxville. This case takes her hiking up mountainsides and trekking through rough terrain to find a madman before he can harm this young woman.

In the fourth book, CHRISTMAS CRUISE, Lana boards a cruise ship haunted by dead women who were brutally murdered. While aboard the ship Lana has an experience that mentally injures her. Once she recovers, she’s more determined than ever to find the murderer.

Coming up next, book five, HAUNTED BY HER PAST: Lana is faced with the task of helping, Jena, a domestic abuse victim escape the ghost of her dead, abusive, ex-boyfriend.

Other Books Coming In This Series

In book six, DEMI’S SERIAL CASE, the town of Charleston has a serial killer and Demi requires Lana’s assistance. Demi is Lana’s best friend and a police detective. Lana helps Demi profile the killer who is believed to be a copy-cat killer (copying another serial killer’s modus operandi) of the man who has been in jail for about five years.

In book seven, DEATH COMES CALLING, Derek, Tony’s brother has moved back to Charleston after living in the middle east and Africa, treating serious injuries while associated with the organization, Doctors Without Borders. A ghost that died in his care begins to haunt him.

Book eight is of yet untitled, but the idea is that shortly after Demi is promoted to Police Captain, she will be involved in a shootout that leads to her being charged with murder. Lana will need to find the truth in order to save her friend. The problem, the dead spirit isn’t talking and he’s the only one that knows what truly happened.

Also Available at the following book sites:

HAUNTED HEARTS – Book 1 – Available now in print and ebook through Amazon KindleAmazon Print24Symbols, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Page Foundry.

GET OUT OR DIE – Book 2 – Available now in ebook through Amazon Kindle24Symbols, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Page Foundry.

LANA MALLOY PARANORMAL MYSTERY (Box Set 1)  2-Book Set – Available now in ebook through Amazon Kindle24SymbolsBarnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Page Foundry. Save $2 by purchasing the box set.

THE WEDDING CRASHER – Book 3 – Available now in ebook through Amazon24SymbolsBarnes & NobleKoboiTunesPage Foundry, and Scribd.

LANA MALLOY PARANORMAL MYSTERY (Box Set 2) 3-Book Set – Available now in ebook through Amazon24SymbolsBarnes & NobleKobo, and Page Foundry. Save $3 by purchasing the box set.

CHRISTMAS CRUISE – Book 4 – Available now in ebook through Amazon24SymbolsBarnes & NobleKoboiTunesPage Foundry, and Scribd.

Read more . . .

SM - Book CoverallthistimeKCcoverIf you like romantic suspense, be sure to also check out “Suspicious Minds” on Amazon here and “All this Time” on Amazon with this link.

About The Author

KC - Author Photo

Kim Cox is an author of Paranormal, Mystery, Suspense and Romance. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina with her chain saw artist husband, their West Highland White Terriers–Scooter and Harley, and a Yorkie mix, Candi. Kim is published in novels, short stories and articles.

Sign up for Kim’s Readers List for exclusive information, new releases, contests, giveaways, and free books.

Visit her at the following sites:

Author’s Website: http://www.kimcoxauthor.com

Blogs: Kim’s Musings, Kim’s Author Support Page

Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/kimcox

Social Media locations:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kimcoxauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KimCoxAuthor

Google: https://plus.google.com/+KimCoxAuthor/posts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/kimcox

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kimwrtr/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimwrtr

 

Interview with Multi-genre Author John Reinhard Dizon

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John Reinhard Dizon is one of my favorite authors and definitely one of the most versatile. His literary repertoire includes thrillers, family sagas, historical settings, steampunk, sports, suspense and techno-horror to name a few.  His latest release, Both Sides Now, is a romantic comedy, and I must say that I have a bit of a personal interest in this book since I designed both the interior and the cover plus my daughter is the model on the back. While formatting the interior, I gleaned enough of the story’s basics that I’m looking forward to reading it properly in the near future.

I interviewed John a few years back, but in view of this new release, I thought it was time for a rerun with some specific questions directed at him about this latest work. While he dubs it a romantic comedy, it struck me as much more substantial, especially with its unique setting and situations. So let’s see what he has to say.

MF:  The protagonist in your latest novel, “Both Sides Now”, is an intellectual wrestler. You are a highly intelligent person and were a wrestler in a “previous life”, which explains the authentic feel and terminology of the sport. How much of this story is autobiographical?

JRD: Actually it’s far more biographical. Hans “The Great” Mortier was one of my mortierWorld Wide Wrestling Federation childhood favorites. There was a major roster change when Vince Mc Mahon bought the Company from his father at the end of the Sixties, and the stars from the old regime were swept under the rug. Mortier was not a German professor, so that is all ‘what-if’. However, a large portion of the story is going to be instantly recognizable to fans of the era. The novel is as much a testament to the era as it is to Hans Mortier.

MF: Ray Karpis, quite a shady character from the early 20th Century, has made an appearance in two of your books, this latest one as well as “The Triad.” What do you find most appealing about him?  Did you ever meet him?

TheTriadCover1 copyJRD: As a criminologist, I have to say that Alvin Karpis is my favorite gangster. He was the last of the Public Enemies but was so elusive and shadowy that hardly anyone knows of him. I wrote Both Sides Now before The Triad and paid homage to Karpis by naming the Lou Thesz-based character after him. Outside of his autobiography and the Public Enemies biography and movie, there is almost nothing out there about Karpis. Hence The Triad. I think I did a good job of bringing his personage to life. He was considered a genius, loyal and generous to a fault, and very much in touch with the modern world and technical developments. Like most of the great gangsters, he would have been a tremendous success in society and the real world had he not gone the wrong way.

MF:  You do a great job of capturing the flavor of other eras as well as places.  You’ve lived through quite a few yourself, but when you get beyond your experience, what’s your favorite research method for your stories?

bothsidesnowcover6.jpgJRD:  The Internet usually helps you find the resources you need to make your story work. Only in this case, as you mentioned, I lived through most of this. Ergo, it was mostly a matter of documenting my recollections. I spent a lot of time in the NYU neighborhood, Soho and Greenwich Village, so most of what I did was pull up addresses. I read hundreds of wrestling magazines so was familiar with the old-time arenas. I was also a paralegal, so that helped me make the courtroom drama all the more realistic.

MF:  You’ve certainly held a wide variety of jobs, which undoubtedly contributes to your writing. Authenticity is important if you want to be taken seriously as an author and when you can say, “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt” the details bring the story alive. As far as the plot itself, do your stories reveal themselves as you write or do you know what’s going to happen, start to finish, when you first sit down to write them?

JRD:  Many times the characters end up helping write the stories, as Sabrina Brooks does in the Nightcrawler series. She just makes things happen around her. In this story, Ray Karpis greatly influenced the conflict in the storyline (pun somewhat intended). He becomes the voice of reason, letting Lucien clearly see all the possibilities if he chose that direction in life along the road to wrestling superstardom. I think it also lets the reader see ‘both sides now’ and will stimulate discussion as to whether or not Lucien makes the right choice.

MF: Ethical dilemmas make great material because the reader is forced to think.  You have a huge list of published work. How long does it take you, on average, to finish one of your novels?

courthouse1JRD:  It varies, considering how complex the story is. The action/adventure stories move along pretty quickly as there’s the adrenaline rush that keeps you writing. Historical fiction such as this takes a bit longer because you have to authenticate your work. Getting names, places and events wrong will leave your story dead in the water. The courtroom storyline in this novel took almost as much research as all the wrestling background. It probably took the better part of a year to put it all together.

MF: Wow! That’s so true, though, if you want to be taken seriously as an author. When a reader stops to roll his or her eyes because something is inaccurate it pulls them out of the story, which is the last thing an author wants to do. Of the numerous books you’ve written, do you have one particular character who’s your favorite? Why?

JRD:  I’m having to go with Sabrina Brooks, aka the Nightcrawler. Every one of her novels is an adventure in itself. She’s a beautiful woman who moonlights as a crimefighter, who seems to target the Russian Mob. She’s the CEO of a chemical company, which means she doesn’t have to do this but does anyway. She’s very compassionate and is a churchgoer, which makes her all the more unique. Her personal relationships suffer greatly as she gets beat up, and the Nightcrawler’s successes come at the expense of her personal life. I enjoy writing her story as much as people love reading it.

MF:  Multi-dimensional characters are essential to a good story.  So what’s your favorite part of the writing process? Which part is the most difficult?

JRD: It’s the dialogue. It may be my strong point as a writer, and it helps me develop the characters and give the reader the best insight as to the speaker’s personality and motivation. The reason why reality TV shows get over is because people want to see their heroes behind the scenes. In literature, the author allows readers to listen to the characters giving up their innermost hopes and fears. The most difficult part is bringing it all together, making the story plausible. You do your homework, you authenticate your background, you flesh out your characters, but your audience has to buy your story. That’s the make or break part, and I think I make that happen every time.

MF:  Yes, you certainly do! When did you decide you wanted to be an author?

JRD: I was writing dialogue for my stick-figure cartoons when I was six. I was fascinated by TV and the movies and wanted to tell my own stories. Many people will say my entire life was about turning my fantasies into reality.

MF: So obviously you were born to write, which isn’t surprising considering how prolific you are.  You’ve worn a variety of hats over the years in a wide variety of jobs and places. What can we expect from you in the future? At what stage is your next novel and when do you expect it to be out?

JRD:  The Blight is about a decorated fire team of Navy SEAL commandos working as an elite unit for the St. Louis PD. They are taking on a mass murderer intent on destroying the ‘social blight’ plaguing the city. Kirsten Streicher is a typical JRD bad-ass female protagonist. Only her team is heavily impacted by the madman known as X, and the writing is on the wall as their group is slowly disbanding. Kirsten is forced to move forward with a whirlwind romance beckoning, though she feels compelled to bring the killer to justice before her career comes to an end. As usual, there’s lots of social issues and moral conundrums discussed, and the standard JRD reflections of current-day controversies. I’m hoping to release it by Summer 2016.

MF:  Sounds like another winner! Is there any particular author or authors who have inspired you the most?

JRD:  Shakespeare, Ian Fleming and Robert E. Howard. The Bard for his conciseness and verbal dynamism, Fleming for his ability to take the reader to a myriad of locations, societies and situations, and Howard for his gift of lurid description and breathtaking action. I hope my readers see my work in a favorable light in comparison.

MF: From what I’ve read, I believe you can rest assured that they will.

You can pick up a copy of Both Sides Now on Amazon here.

Connect with John Reinhard Dizon:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/johnreinharddizonUSA

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/John-Reinhard-Dizon/e/B00DU9JNUQ/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/JohnRDizon