Review – Murders and Mysteries, People and plots


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Murders and Mysteries, People and Plots: A Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire Miscellany

3.5 stars

I found this local history book when I was looking for something else. As I was born in Buckinghamshire it appealed to me.

The author is/was a vicar and this showed throughout the book. There was a bias towards the religious personages and buildings of the area, and although interesting enough some wider accounts would have been nice.  The author knows his stuff and has obviously spent time researching the areas but all the accounts are pretty short, and sometimes a couple lumped in together, which gets rather confusing.

There were a few odd grammatical features – which began to get on my nerves after a while – mostly capitalisation where none was needed. Perhaps it was a style choice for the author, but it did throw me out of the accounts somewhat.  That said the book was nicely laid out, with a reasonable mix of illustrations and prose and could be easily dipped into.

None of the accounts was especially detailed, but there were quite a few and these provided enough information to whet the appetite and leave the reader wanting to know that region of England better.

Overall I’d say a good first insight into the local history of this English counties.





Author Interview 104 – Oliver Chase


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Welcome to Oliver Chase

Where are you from and where do you live now? I’m not from any one place in particular, and instead grew up on military bases throughout the country. Like all boys, we played good guys and bad, although usually I favored the good. Coaxing me into an afternoon of baseball or hiking the Southern California hills didn’t take much unless a book grabbed me first.

With my fourth novel scheduled for publication in the winter of 2016, I spend a lot of time on the family’s tiny farm along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. My job is farm hand, dung digger, and companion to the farmer, my lovely wife. We have family in north Florida, so I spend time there, too. The beaches are terrific and the fishing great, although my finny friends have little to fear from me.

I’ve got a corner of the old farm house that waits for me in the early mornings with all my forgotten and remembered friends and enemies, and my research. Every few months, I head out to bookstores and malls to sign my work, always with the intention of meeting new friends. Everyone has a story, and I love to listen. If we have the chance to meet one day, don’t be too surprised if you find your way into my pages.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc.

I’ve written five novels for publication to date:

Marsh Island, mystery thriller 2013 AEC Stellar, Inc New Orleans

Blind Marsh, mystery thriller 2014 (second in series) AEC Stellar, Inc New Orleans

Levant Mirage, military/science thriller 2015 Pearl River Publishing

Joshua Tree, political thriller 2016 Pearl River Publishing (release date March 15, 2016) PRPG

Bequeathed, adventure thriller projected 2016 PRGP

Where do you find inspiration? I like to write what I know. Hence, many of my characters are investigators, cops, soldiers, pilots, divers, drivers and unwitting observers to human shortcomings. I avoid autobiographical insertions and instead choose to believe many of my extraordinary acquaintances, both good guys and bad, worthy of my pages. I’ve known and respected strong women and opinionated men, the two traits not necessarily ascribed to either sex who’ve found their way into my pages. I find watching aggentively, meeting, and testing people to an internal yet intriguing exercise. In my devious brain, they slip into a new set of virtues and sins. No one knows I do this, so please keep it between us.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? My current favorites are Scott and Angela McHale, the dynamic son and lovely daughter of California field workers. Winning election after election, the kingmaker proclaims the time is now and the sky is the limit. Cast in the image of John Kennedy’s bygone Camelot come hints of America’s first Latino presidency. Just when life seems its most promising, his beautiful senatorial aide goes missing. Rumors abound. Storm clouds darken the horizon. Three thousand miles away, an unwitting fisherman stumbles upon her pregnant corpse. Speculation and accusation become the media’s daily fare. At the height of the investigation, the senator plans a weekend retreat only to have his private airplane disappear into the night. Daily revelations drive delighted conjecture and reform public opinion until suddenly, the country’s electrical grid comes under hacker attack. Words of the senator’s warning prove prophetical as the nation plunges into a chaos that threatens a second, and far uglier American Civil War.

Have you ever thought about the secret you? The one that no one ever gets to see, not even the one person on earth we trust the most? Well, Scott thought that guy was under control. When he fought and climbed into the national limelight, he found fidelity and integrity often stand at odds with desires and dreams. Joshua Tree is more than a redemptive novel and begs to ask if history makes a person, or does an influential person make our history. Intriguing. I also note you address this concept in your later questions.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? I don’t dislike Walter LoPresti as much as I fear him. For all the thousands of years of social evolvement, Walter is a man bypassed by humanity’s better traits. His heroes are dark villains and nasty legends, his brilliance unmatched, and his wanton desires legion. If at some time you were to fall within his crosshairs, don’t run, because as the saying goes, you’ll only die tired.

Are your characters based on real people? I like to think that all my characters have doppelgangers in real life. The only difference is one character is many people that I’ve known through the years. Therefore, no one character is reflected by a similar live person. My research sets the stage and renders my setting believable and possible. My memory and the interpretation of my own emotion drives the characters.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off?Funny question, but no, I’ve never committed murder either literally or … literally. Some have not survived the story, but it wasn’t me that pulled the trigger. One of those dang protagonists killed him.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? Research is the best part of filling out the reality in a novel; organization makes it worthwhile and believable. My studies are broken into two general camps. The first allows me to build a world, even if it happens to be in downtown Miami on Calle Ocho. I like real places with a real feel. If a book is cooking inside my brain, I like to go there. Most of the time, I’ve already been there because frankly, Google maps just won’t do it. The exception might be a back alley in Fairbanks, Alaska or Reykjavík Iceland. I’ve been in plenty of alleys and recall the smells and feel, so no, I won’t go camp out in New Orleans and pretend it’s cold.

The second research I try to minimize is using Bing or Google while I’m getting the first draft down. Afterwards, maybe, but stopping to plan out the size of a doomsday asteroid breaks my concentration and may end me up with start-stop disjointed writing. That usually turns into an additional draft, etc.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? Absolutely. Theme is equally as important as creating a world, characters, and plot. A theme is my shot at influencing and affecting my reader’s outlook. I’m not egotistical enough to believe I’m always right, but I do have an opinion, and I like to share it. The theme in a novel is more than an opinion and often borders on strong belief. Harry Potter had a theme, and if you missed it, you missed out on Ms. Rowling’s message, muggle.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) In the historical context, great and strong personalities, possessing charisma, leadership, and other virtues are often consigned to local, less memorable events. This might be the respected dogcatcher, who with his superior wit and feel for animals saves a village from rampaging wolves. Because, the wolves are local, the dogcatcher never rises to the epic proportions of say, an Adolf Hitler. Here’s another character of wit and feel who stepped into history books largely because of the Weimar Republics’ abject failure in the 1920s. Could someone else have done what Hitler did? So goes the argument. My position? Historical circumstance allows the famous and infamous to be known, not the other way around. (Here comes all the philosophical opposites about to argue the other side of this well-worn coin. Go for it!)

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? Currently I only do print (Ingram Spark, Lulu, and CreateSpace-Amazon), and Ebooks (Smashwords, Kindle, Lulu, and PDF all via my website At this time, we’re considering an audio version of Levant Mirage. Joshua Tree will follow if LM is a commercial success. I love, trust, and believe in my work, but this stuff is really expensive. I haven’t done any hard covers or large print because I agree with setting financial priorities. Pearl River Publishing is a small, boutique publisher representing a limited number of authors with the stated goal of launching only a single writer at time. This enable that person’s full and unfettered use of all company resources. I had my shot, and now its Greg Lamb’s turn. He’s another terrific writer that PRPG will soon launch.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? That’s best answered by revealing my process:

1) I write a first draft…and a third draft, and each in between.

2) I then self edit in accordance with the Browne and King Self Editing manual.

3) The book then resides in a drawer (or desktop folder) for at least sixty days.

4)  I again read, and edit, and fault search-not error search-in accordance with the Canadian fiction self editing guide. I’m not a Canadian, but it’s a heck of a good guide.

5) I then grab coffee, schedule a day without interruption and read for “continuity, cleverness, and consistency.” Red ink marks only.

6) I grind the novel into an MS find and correct using my own unpublished guide.

6) My novel is then ready for an editor. I hire one and send it off.

7) Following two drafts reviews, I read a last time (and boy am I sick of re-reading), and then…

8) I then send to my beta reader and give them a couple months.

9) And then, you guessed it. I re-read, correct and send off for one last edit, but not by me. By another’s set of eyes.

10) Then, I release the book to the world. Watch out.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Absolutely. Today’s market has amazing self-pub authors (SPA). Some of the work I read, especially local colour literature easily reaches and exceed work I’ve read by traditionally published authors (TPA). For discussion purposes, a TPA is a product of one of the top houses or their off-shoot imprints. I’m somewhat a product of both and have my roots as a SPA, so when I say there’s a lot of less-than-professional work out there, I’m being critical of myself as well as others. We tend to rush our work to market, thinking readers will treat us like our mothers. Doesn’t work that way. A single mistake may put off a reader, and they’ll proceed no further. How many “free” novels have been offered? There’s no free novels in publishing! Those things drip in blood for god’s sake. Give them free to your parents, but sell them to a reader. How can they respect us, if we cheapen our work and ask for nothing except a promise in the future?

Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes. All the time. Too often I’m forced to quit early due to overwhelming errors. Often enough, I’m engrossed and lose sleep with great stories.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? If you mean, me commenting on my reviewers, some things must be done in private. I’ve been slammed before. If you haven’t, you will, because it’s only a matter of time. Keep your opinion of the reviewer to yourself.

One of the greatest compliments ever paid to me was a reviewer who took another reviewer to task. I stayed above the fray and didn’t comment publically. Nor did I cry in my beer. There’s no crying in writing…did I already use that one? Life’s too short to take on a knucklehead, even if they deserve it. I’ve read enough to know a good novelist will just use a denigrating reviewer’s portrait in some future  work. I can’t wait to read it.

Reviews are huge and wildly important…to future readers. I like reviewers face to face. In a recent presentation to a library writer’s group, an audience member took me to task and pointed out a grammatical error. I appreciated that effort, because obviously she read the book. Afterwards, I scribbled a note to myself and added her critique to my self-edit checklist.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? Not as much as some. Generally, I know the authors, like the authors, understand that not everyone will be on their game every time. I also know that what I like, may not be liked by someone else.

What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? It’s okay, and done often. Honest reviewers are key. Writing is like any other game in life. Integrity means we all get our fair shot. Cheating is for cheaters, and they can play their own game without me.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?

1) Read as often as you can. Always carry a book  in some form with you and hope someone will strike up a conversation. If they do, cover up the title of the book, and have fun telling them about your book. Oops…integrity right?

2) Set a schedule and write. Get up early or stay up late, but write every day. Make it a habit.

3) Keep your life in balance. Treat writing, family, obligations, duties, and responsibilities with equal importance. Keep any one, from dominating the other as you set priorities.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? Eric Larsen’s Dead Wake. Absolutely chilling and suspenseful non-fiction.


Book links, website/blog and author links:

Here’s a trailer you might enjoy:

Levant Mirage 2015






Janet Morris on I, the Sun, literature, life and everything….

A very insightful with Janet Morris.


First published at:

I, The Sun ~ Interview ~ Janet Morris

Microsoft Word - 09 12 24 Sacred Band Cover white horse white foBeverly and Tamara: Welcome to SSLY. Thanks so much for joining us today Janet. So first why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m Janet Morris, born in 1946, married to Christopher Crosby Morris for whom I have played bass on a major labor record that went Top 20 in some important markets and got international airplay; bred horses and won world championships with them; been a research director and senior fellow at Washington think tanks; served as a strategic planning and technology consultant to national laboratories, academia and industry; created the original Congressional mandate and architecture for the (now international) Nonlethal Weapons program; written novels (historical, main stream, thrillers, fantasy, science fiction), written nonfiction papers, op/eds and ghost-written in the areas of international security, technology development, futurism and national security, as well as short fiction…

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Author Interview 103 -Ana Claudia Antunes


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Welcome to Ana Claudia Antunes

Where are you from and where do you live now? I’m originally from Brazil, though I have been living and traveling around the world. I love to learn about other cultures, about history, habits and/or rituals, etc. And I need to wander for quite some time to wonder about the country, its people in doing so I may absorb the essence of each place. But somehow I always return back home. Brazil has a magnetism that attracts the most sensitive souls, and it’s a irresistible force that ignites and gives you a chill and sparkles to everything around, you know…

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I’m a multi-genre author and my works go from Mystery/Crime, Historical fiction, Children’s Literature, Poetry and Nursery Rhymes, fables, myths and legends, Fantasy/Sci-Fi to hybrid fiction/nonfiction and self-help, methodology and techniques and how-to books. Here are some of them, just to name a few:

Fairies of the Four Seasons and The Enchanted Valley Series

The Mysterious Murder of Marilyn Monroe (182 pages- Lulu, 2015)

From the trilogy Memoirs of an Amazon:

The Witches of Avignon (Past) -Occult

The Pierrot’s Love (Present) -Mystery/Suspense (174 pages- Createspace, 2009)

Out of the Blue (Future) -Fantasy/Sci-fi (192 pages- Createspace, 2009)

From The Pierrot’s Love Series:

Pierrot & Columbine (Book 1)

The Phantom of the Ballet (Book 2)

Harlequin (Book 3)

Diary of a Columbine (Book 4)

A-Z of Happiness (79 pages – Lulu, 2015)

The DAO WORKBOOK ILLUSTRATED (119 pages – Lulu, 2015)

The MilkShake’s Opera Series (colouring books with fables)

They are all available in major book retailers worldwide (in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian).

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? Oh there are so many great main characters in my plots. For example, there are four main characters in the Four Sea Sons Series. They all have a special touch that will turn the world around and make such difference in nature and in people’s lives. And yes, I am talking about the seasons as living beings, as ethereal and real entities. And then there is a main character in The Pierrot’s Love Series that you will fall in love with, and then you will hate her and then you will feel compassion and so a mixed feeling will pour your heart in such a way that you will not know why but will have the urge to hold that child’s hand, and that’s Talitha. She is a teenage girl and she has been through so much in her life already that you can feel all her pain and her ambitions, she wants to reach out to you through her seductive manners. But then again she’s just human. And so she is an anti-heroine. Her antithesis could be Ann, from the future, of the same trilogy, in the book “Out of the Blue”, like a mirror reflecting the opposite side. Ann is just as ambitious but she lacks faith in herself, all the confidence Talitha has in her feminine tributes, Ann is totally oblivious of it, in a total loss from her life and with no self-control. Contrary to Talitha, Ann will have to go through hell to reach out for help and get some redemption, to finally feel free from her own instincts and let go of old fears.

Are your characters based on real people? Some of my books were inspired by real life characters, some other books I wrote are hybrid fiction/non-fiction, so yeah, I pretty much so get inspired by people who have lived, and even who are still breathing among us… so don’t get discouraged if I didn’t mention your personality traits yet. I might even have your name over my books, I must some day…

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? No, I never hated that much. But some people did. (Not anyone whom I knew or met in person, and I thank God for that!) So I used what others did (you see it in the news everyday) and wrote it down. Some cases of murder were real, some were taken from my own imagination, but they could have easily happened in real life, for sure!

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? There are always messages, even enigmas to be searched, mysteries to be solved in all of my books. I like to puzzle readers, but I do not make so to the point of being so complex that they will lose interest in the plot. And that for me is the essence of every great literature around the world, and that’s been so for ages.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) Great characters- They are pivotal for a great plot. THEN a solid plot: Why then? If you do not have great characters it is impossible to create a good plot, nonetheless a solid one. Once you have built great characters for the scenes, there you have it. It’s just like the movies, you cannot have a great film if the characters are frail and their lines are weak as well. I guess great world-building comes along with a good plot. If there is something that will work fine in a novel is how you will develop from the theme. You’ve got to establish a good timeline, and from there it comes a world. You see the technical matters don’t match or matter as much to me. Even a poorly written story, if there is a good plot and great characters on it will make a divine combination There are simply many cases of it over the mainstream and that even reached the big screen.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? My books are available as print and e-books and I also have some audiobooks though I am still figuring out how I am going to expand it.

Do you read work by self-published authors? All the time.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Reviews are for readers AND authors. It’s a good way of learning from what people think about the work. Being it good or bad. A book might as well be hurt by a bad, poorly written review. That’s such a pity. Some people don’t know how to express themselves, and maybe that’s why they are just readers and not writers, others read a book like chewing a cupcake. That’s too bad. If that was not your cup of tea, leave it there, untouched. Don’t go bash the author for that. But if you really hate the book, why bother telling others. It’s your problem after all. You can give constructive opinions but don’t blame the author for your different tastes and views. Also authors shouldn’t comment on reviews, it sounds unprofessional, even silly. Some busy writers don’t even have time to read what other people say about their work. If someone enjoyed your book, or not, that is irrelevant. If you will continue or not to write something else it doesn´t add to the plate.. Besides, why bother commenting on a review, just read it and shut up. Being it good or bad. So my opinions about authors commenting on reviews is just my opinions after all!

When buying a book do you read the reviews? I do read many, if not all of them. I think reviews are important as much as I notice there is an unbiased opinion about them. The problem is that many authors are just too worried about getting reviews when they actually should be more about promoting their own works. Reviews will help as long as they have a good name and reputation. It’s easy to spot a liar from a true and honest review. The ones who are not solid sound silly; I always spot a good book not simply by reading its positive reviews but by actually reading about the author, his/her experience in the field and many other signs that give out the author’s identity, hence his or her authority in the matter.

What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? I think that it’s simply magnificent, if not perfect. I do review many authors, and I wish I could do much more. I simply have not much time, and if I do have some encouragement, I graciously give a positive remark. Unless the book is not worth my two pennies I will always give a feedback. But when I really enjoy a book I don’t simply read the whole thing, I will give a five-star review, and I will help it reach as many people as I can, with word-of-mouth, by blogging about it, by telling people from my network to go read it because it’s that good.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? A book can be a great friend, an advisor, a means to an end. A book reveals so much more than a movie would ever do. For example, when I watched the movie “The Hours” I was fascinated by the story. Just a year later I decided to read the book. And what was my surprise that I was even more dazzled by its writings than I was by the images… The images in my head were more vivid than the film could ever transport me to that feminine universe that the author was trying (and so successfully granted me) to conceive… About video games; you are kidding, right?

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? First of all, please, please, don´t go publish until you are one hundred percent sure you are doing a great job, the best that you may deliver. For in this publishing media it´s easy to get it all wrong when you are just starting. Secondly, find a good editor, or at least a second opinion. You know, four eyes read better than two. You will regret later on for not having a good editor to go through your writing, or having a great artist to do the best cover for your book. Because if there is something I learned during these years in the publishing market it is to never ever underestimate the power of good editing. And my third piece will be to advice about a good image: the saying “never judge a book by its cover” was created by a lazy author who didn´t give much thought of what really works in the marketing of both fiction and nonfiction.

What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst? My best move so far it was to help others into marketing their own works. For mine I would say it was a lucky strike, or not: I offered a pre-sale from one of my books that reached a good amount of people interested on the project even not knowing anything about it. Anyway, I guess it was not the beginner’s luck but the theme of the book that made people buy it so fiercely. I tried it again with another book that I was certain it wouldn’t get as much attention and it would not draw a crowd. And that’s exactly what happened. There was a lack of interest for the theme, I guess.

My worst marketing strategy it would be to hurry with the publishing. I would avoid rushing into the process, and marketing books with too many mistakes, like typos or misspellings, and I would spend more time rereading my texts and editing it thoroughly before submitting them to a publisher or even self-publishing.

Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? No, there are simply too many of them to name just one.


Book links, website/blog and author links:



Step into the twilight zone…

A great interview with Joe Bonadonna, fellow Heroika author


…and meet author Joe Bonadonna, the master of heroic fantasy, a lover of Captain Blood and Greek mythology, and a force behind many hellish stories in Heroes in Hell series!

10270438_868090946582158_5334768555320528089_nJoe Bonadonna has written the heroic fantasy novel, Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, published by iUniverse; a sword and sorcery pirate adventure called Waters of Darkness (with David C. Smith), published by Damnation Books; and the space opera, Three Against The Stars, published by Airship 27 Productions. He’s also written stories for several anthologies, including: Azieran: Artifacts and Relics, published by Heathen Oracle; Griots: Sisters of the Spear, published by MVmedia; and Sinbad: The New Voyages, Vol. 4, published by Airship 27 Productions. For Perseid Press, Joe has stories appearing in Poets in Hell, Heroika: Dragon Eaters, and Doctors in Hell, and has just finished a novella for the next volume…

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Monsters and Myth – part 1 – Cyclopes


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Fantastical creatures have featured in mythology and storytelling since people first sat around the fire and told of great beasts and wicked monsters. They are at the core of our cultures, from great dragons, to hydra, to sea monsters, mermaids, fairies and pretty much everything you can think of and some you wish you hadn’t.  Many  were humanoid, some carrying more arms, legs or eyes and some less. Some weren’t – lizards,  half birds, half lions, creatures which look they they are made up of left over bits of other animals. The unnatural zoology was vast.

Of course many still feature in modern fantasy – dragons, fairies/feyfolk, unicorns, shapechangers and more.  Paranormal fiction is extremely popular – with the vampires/werecreatures etc as the heroes. But what of the lesser known creatures? The nightmare of our ancestors?

The ancient Greek heroes fought and slayed everything from Medusa, the snake-haired woman whose gaze was petrifying, to one eyed Cyclopes – the offspring of mighty Poseidon and the sea nymph Thoosa, (Homeric tradition) or second generation gods – the spawn of Gaea and Uranus (Hesiod). They were giants, builders and liked to snack on mortals (and demi-gods) who strayed into their path. Some were famed for working for the lame god Hephaestus, and some such as Polyphemus were shepherds. (  Today I am going to focus on these creatures.

The Greek deities were a paranoid lot (with good reason for the most part) and the Cyclopes were imprisoned by Uranus who was afraid of their power. To be released again by the Titans and Chronos in order to defeat Uranus they were later imprisoned again as their power increased, only to be released by Zeus so they could help him overthrow the Titans. (Yes intrigue and double crossing was the staple diet of the Greek immortals.)

One eye had been traded in order that they may see into the future – but as such bargains often turn out – the small print was overlooked and all they could foresee was the day of their death.

Odysseus blinded and tricked Polyphemus, who had it must be admitted eaten several of the trickster’s friends – who in turn were trying to steal some of the giant’s provisions and had found their way into the cyclop’s den.

Getting the cyclops tipsy Odysseus thrust a burning, sharpened stake into the monster’s eye – then cried out his name was ‘No one’ or ‘Nobody’ (depending on the translation) so when the cyclops staggered outside crying ‘Nobody’ blinded him the other giants thought him mad.

Of course Odysseus being Odysseus couldn’t resist letting Polyphemus know who it really was once he was safely back at sea. Telling him it was ‘Odysseus, son of Laertes of Ithica who has blinded you’. This was not among Odysseus smarter plans as this particular cyclops was the son of Poseidon who was rather annoyed and send the great hero’s boat in a rather roundabout way home…

The story reappears in later myths – Virgil tells the story from the perspective of a seaman of Odysseus’ crew left behind (Aeneid) and Aeneas and his crew see the blinded giant and his companions and beat a hasty retreat.

Later mythological writers, including Ovid, speak of the love affair between Polyphemus and the sea-nymph Galataea – with a greater or lesser tragic ending (she loved another).  And Wilhem Grimm collected tales and retelling of one-eyed giants from Serbia, German, Finnish, Romanian and Russian mythology.

In the Renaissance composers brought the tales to opera. Giovanni Bononcini, Jean-Baptiste LullyJoseph Haydn  and George Frideric Handel composed works around the story of Polyphemus, Galataea and Acis, her lover (whom Polyphemus kills). Artists and sculptors too have used the cyclops and his tale as a basis for their work. Interestingly too the Scottish Rite Freemasons have Polyphemus as a symbol for civilisation that harms itself using ill-directed blind force.

Origins – Othenio Abel in 1914 argues the origins maybe from prehistorical dwarf elephant skulls – with a big central hole for the trunk, which of course would be gone by the time the fossil was found.

Cyclopia – is an uncommon but real condition is a ‘rare form of holoprosencephaly and is a congenital disorder (birth defect) characterized by the failure of the embryonic prosencephalon to properly divide the orbits of the eye into two cavities’.

Often the nose is missing or is non-functioning and appears ABOVE the single eye-socket. The foetuses usually abort or are still-born, however some living cyclopic animals have been recorded, although they rarely survive for long. Causes can include toxins such as cornlily or false hellebore Veratrum californicum – which resembles Hellebore, which is given as a natural remedy for vomiting, cramps and poor circulation. White Hellebore, which was cited by Hippocrates, also contains teratogens  which can cause the deformity. Genetics too can cause the condition – the Sonic the Hedgehog gene regulator (yes really) can suppress a particular protein needed in eye development in early embryos and cause the mutation.

So misunderstood fossils or deformities could have created a myth, which in turn became the story of one-eyed giants.



Mutants: On the form, varieties and errors of the human body. (c) Armand Marie Leroi 2003

The Odyssey of Homer (various translations)



Returning Author Terry W Ervin II


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I’d like to welcome back Terry W. Ervin II, author of the First Civilization’s Legacy Series and the Crax War Chronicles.

Please recap briefly about your books: First, thank you for having me back.

Flank Hawk, Blood Sword, and Soul Forge are post-apocalyptic fantasy action adventure novels that make up the First Civilization’s Legacy Series. They follow the adventures of Mercenary Flank Hawk. While his skills with sword and spear are far from legendary, he makes up for it with tenacity, dedication and loyalty.

Relic Tech and Relic Hunted are the first two installments in my science fiction series, The Crax War Chronicles. Security Specialist 4th Class Krakista Keesay is a Relic, meaning he relies on late 20th Century technology. Specialist Keesay does his utmost, both aboard ship and on distant colonies, fending off the invading Crax and their traitorous human allies.

Maybe a quote will give a good feel for the series:

The tech level premise is fascinating, but what really makes the novel special is the spirit of Krakista Keesay. Kra is a hero to root for—often underestimated, adept with brass knuckles, bayonet, shotgun, and all sorts of old style weaponry. He proves that, while technology matters, so do courage, intelligence, and daring.”
—Tony Daniel, Hugo-finalist, author of Metaplanetary and Guardian of Night

 Beyond that, I’ve written a number of short stories that range from SF and horror to mystery and inspirational. When the rights reverted to me from their original publications, Gryphonwood press released them as a collection, Genre Shotgun.


What has changed since you last visited? Tell us your news!

Since my interview in January of 2014 ( ) my publisher, Gryphonwood Press, has released Soul Forge (June

2014) and Relic Hunted (January 2016)


Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be?

While some authors and reviewers view self-published authors differently from traditionally published authors, I think readers are less focused on such divisions. Readers are interested in good books, ones that catch their imagination while providing an engaging read.

I will say that self-published authors that produce quality stories, coupled with good editing, formatting and everything else that goes with a professional product, have a substantial opportunity to find readers, especially ebook readers. Those that don’t will struggle to find and build readership of their works.


Do you read work by self-published authors?

Yes. Currently I am reading (and listening to—I enjoy audiobooks) Stephen Campbell’s Hard Luck Hank Series, as well as Robert Bevan’s Critical Failure Series.

I’ll add that of traditionally published authors, I am very much enjoying Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles.


What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?

  1. Finish projects. Get that first draft done. Then go back and revise and edit and repeat until you’ve produced the very best book you can.
  2. While you’re submitting the completed manuscript to agents/publishers or working to self-publish it, write something else. Don’t wait to see what happens (either way).
  3. The best ‘how to’ books for writing are successful novels. Yes, there are many ‘how to write’ books out there, but they can only give a writer the basics. Read, and reread, and study writers you enjoy. See how they do it…tell the stories, create dialogue and interesting characters, pace the storyline, incorporate foreshadowing, irony, characterization and more. If you get stuck on a problem, refer to those novels/authors. See how they did it, then apply what you learned, incorporating it into your own storyline and writing style.


What aspect of writing do you least enjoy? Why might this be?

Completing that first draft. I don’t mind planning/plotting and I actually enjoy editing. I’m an English teacher, so I guess that makes sense. I don’t know why I dislike completing the first draft the most. Maybe because it takes the longest.


Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it?

Masters of the Air: Americas Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany by Donald L. Miller. Yes, I enjoyed it. I read a lot of books related to World War II. Beyond the enjoyment, reading and studying history provides ideas for plots and stories and characters.


Do you have a favourite movie?

I would say Serenity is my favorite movie. It offers a mixture of action and adventure and humor and sort of wraps up what was started in the short-lived SF television series, Firefly.


Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing?

 I’ve held a lot of jobs in my life, from library assistant and dishwasher to landscape assistant and quality control at a potato chip factory. Currently I am an English teacher, an e-course instructor, a village councilman, and an author. My wife teases that any Ervin working fewer than two jobs is a slacker—that, and she says if I’m not busy I get grumpy.

But as to my worst job (or least favorite)? A golf caddie when I was in high school. I didn’t mind the hard work, but I found that the more money the golfer had, the more poorly they tipped and less respect they had for the hard work their caddie did. Maybe my high school experience was out of the mainstream, but it left me with utterly no desire to ever play golf.

How is that experience used in my writing? An experience of life learned about human nature and the human condition.


What are your plans for the future? When will we see your next book? Tell us about it.

 My plans for the future are to keep writing. I have several Flank Hawk (First Civilization’s Legacy) novels planned, at two Relic Tech (Crax War Chronicles) novels and possibly one novella in mind, along with a YA based that leans heavily on Norse mythology tentatively titled Icebox to Asgard, a middle school novel, tentatively titled Go Home Gnome, and a novel where gamers get caught up in their RPG world. That last one isn’t a unique plot idea, but I have some interesting twists which I think could lead to a series.

But, beyond my recent release, Relic Hunted, I am now working on an alien invasion novel whose working title is Jack’s Tale, but I am leaning towards Thunder Wells. That last one, I hope to have out before the end of summer 2016. It’s about a loner trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, where aliens have seeded the Earth with nasty critters that feed on humans—after using EMPs to wipe out the world’s electrical grids and high tech devices, bombarding key targets and cities from orbit, and inflicting mass damage and death through creation of tsunamis. Jack gets shanghaied into joining a team transporting one of the few remaining functional nuclear warheads in a desperate bid to destroy the alien colony ship before it deposits its cargo, dooming what remains of humanity.

To contact Terry or find out more about his books and writing endeavors, visit his website at or his blog, Up Around the Corner at


Guest Post – Erin McGowan and Kindle Scout

Some of you may have heard of Kindle Scout, I have but not in much detail. Today I welcome Erin McGowan, who has her book Mage Awakening in the programme and she’s here to talk about the process.

Over to you Erin.



FB Event:

Twitter: @Erinm128



Mage awakening

Kindle Scout


The Kindle Scout program benefits Kindle publishing, authors, and readers.  An author submits an unpublished book to the Scout program for thirty days of public viewing, during that time the author can promote the book any way he or she chooses.  Readers can save the book for later or nominate it if they are interested in that book based on the cover, title, blurb, summary, and sample of the book.  The sample is around 5,000 words, and usually shows the reader around three or four chapters.  There is also an author bio, and the author can choose to answer some questions, mainly about reading, writing, and their book.

Kindle Scout shows the author daily stats on page views and how many hours a day the book was on the Hot and Trending list, but not how many nominations the book has.  Those reports are updated once a day around 5:30 in the morning.  At the end of the thirty day campaign the Kindle Scout team has up to fifteen days to decide if they will award a five year contract to the author for that book.  If the book is picked up by Kindle the author receives a $1,500 advance, and has the promotional power of Kindle backing that book.  A lot of authors hear back from Kindle after 48 hours, but there are some instances where the wait is longer.

Personally, I have found the people at Kindle Scout to be very nice, professional, and accommodating.  The campaign requires more promotion than I was expecting, and I think that I would have been in a better position if I were a more established author, but this has been a great learning opportunity and has given me a chance to reach more potential readers.

My book, “The Mage: Awakening” is about a thirteen-year-old girl who discovers her magical powers when she is four.  Her disastrous home life turns unbearable, and she uses her talent for channeling emotions right before she runs away from home.  A fully trained mage tracker, Cadence, feels her use that talent and tracks her down.  He informs her that she is a mage and can go to school to learn more magic and develop more facets of her magical talent.  Her new school is in the in Faerie realm, and Katrina quickly makes friends with other mage students and Fae students, alike.  Katrina has a lot on her plate, juggling her old family, a new family, friends, school, and a new romance, when accidents start happening to the Fae students.  People start questioning whether the accidents are all that accidental, or if someone has an agenda to make the Fae pay.


Experiments in promotion – part 1


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As some of you know I not a big fan or marketing but books don’t sell themselves. In a market place where there are millions of books getting one’s novels seen is tricky.

So what marketing strategy works for me? Honestly I have no bloody idea. Recently I had Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse on freebie for a few days – results were OK. Some downloads but not huge amounts. That said it is a short story and I didn’t promote it much. Whether those freebies will result in sales for the audio book or garner reviews is yet to be seen.

What I have found is author/character interviews help – at least initially and at least sometimes. Of course the difficulty there is finding them and keeping the content interesting. They also take away from writing time.

I tried a Thunderclap a couple of times last year with very mixed results so I’m going to do a couple more – one starting today to promote The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book I and another when the audio is released.

I may also try one for Outside the Walls if I can sort the banner out.  Thunderclaps are an interesting concept – the basic package is free to set up and only needs 100 supporters to go live. There are several Thunderclap groups on Facebook and they do require a lot of pushing. Is there a bump in sales during/after? I’ll let you know.

Anyway if you’d like to support my campaign here’s the link. All you need to do is click the link then support using the big red buttons (everyone likes pressing big red buttons! Or is that just me?)

I’m trying another Kindle Countdown for Stolen Tower – I tried one last year, again with mixed results. The

UK Kindle Countdown

The original list price is £1.72 but it will be on offer for 99p until the 7th January.

There will also be a Countdown for the store starting 8am PST

I’ll let you know how they go.

When Book I is released on audio I may well do a blog tour or paid ad. I’m always looking for new ideas so any advice welcomed.





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