Review Notorious Murders of the Twentieth Century: Famous and Forgotten British Cases (True Crime)


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Although some of the cases were interesting enough overall the book was a little slow and sensationalised.
The discussion about the forensics and the unsolved cases were well presented. The lesser known cases were the most fascinating, as the famous cases are easy to find elsewhere.

There were a lot of typos and formatting issues – several per chapter and this got quite annoying. Whether that was to do with kindle conversion I have no idea but it did detract from the reading experience.

3 stars

*** I’ve just checked on Amazon and apparently the book has been pulled for significant quality errors. Let’s hope the book is republished sans typos.

Character Interview Number Thirty – Rajveer


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Tell Us About Yourself
Name (s) Rajveer of the Guhilas of Mewar

Age 27… forever.
Please tell us a little about yourself.

My body died when I was twenty-seven. I don’t know what to call myself now. I look exactly like I did then – if a little paler. A kshatriya (warrior) of Chittor turned into a rakshasa (demon) by a foreign bloodsucker… I had to leave Chittorgarh at some point, so they didn’t notice I’m not ageing anymore.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. Tall, handsome and honey-eyed warrior.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? The kshatriyadharma enjoins the Rajput male to die the good death on the field of battle and to maintain his personal honor and masculine integrity in all situations. The Rajput women have their own codes, the most exacting demand of which is to join her dead husband on the funeral pyre and become a virtuous woman by perishing in the flames.
Would you kill for those you love? I have killed to defend my king and my people. Not so much to survive. And I don’t kill anymore. I mean, I feed on blood now, but I don’t need to drain anyone to go on.

Would you die for those you love? Unfortunately, I’ve become very hard to kill. I don’t feed on human blood unless it’s enemies in the heat of the battle, and this makes me stronger and almost invulnerable…

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Why I had three wives, the most loved being Charumati, but since I’ve started my second life, I’ve been quite lonely. No love relationships and even friendship is hard. My only “family” is my fledgling, Shashank.

Do you like animals? Do you have any pets/animal companions? I feed on animals. Either that or I feed on you…

Do you have a family? Tell us about them. I lost them to time and my newly found immortality. I’m supposedly a member of a coven, but I wouldn’t call them family. They don’t even have the same origin that I do.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. In spite of my newly found strength and enhanced senses, I’m a warrior, so I still wear my faithful sword by my side. I’m often teased for it, but I don’t care. I still have my kshatriya pride.

Tell Us About Your World

Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? If so do you follow one of them? Please describe (briefly) how this affects your behaviour. I was raised Hindu – I follow the Rig Veda – which makes it hard for me to feed on human blood. I was turned by a Celtic Druid and my sister-in-darkness was raised Christian. I deal with Jains on a regular basis and I’m getting to know Buddhists and Muslims as well.

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where? Northern Hindustan. I can’t stay put for long or they’d notice I don’t age. So, I was born in Chittorgarh, then visited the four cities of Delhi before it was destroyed by Timur the Lame, and then Varanasi, Gwalior, Agra, Lahore…

What form of politics is dominant in your world? (Democracy, Theocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Kakistocracy etc.) Delhi sultanate, kingdoms and eventually the Mughal empire…

Does your world have any supernatural/mystical beings? Please tell us about some.  The coven. They’re demonic bloodsuckers. Their bite is poisonous, it either kills you or turns you. Although only Menka can make new ones, everybody else is forbidden… I’m glad I’m not one of her “children” – although I’m not much better myself. But actually neither of us belong to the myths and legends of our country. We’re not rakshasa, gayal, pacu pati, vetala or any other creatures such as the one in the Baital Pachisi (a.k.a. King Vikram and the vampire in a 19th century translation)

Name three persons of influence/renown within your society and tell why they are influential (Could be someone like Christ/Mandela/Queen Elizabeth or a renowned figure from a non-human/fantasy world.) My king, Rana Ratan, and his beautiful wife Rani Padmini who boldly perished in the siege of Chittor when Sultan Alauddin attacked us – a glorious story of true Rajput pride. Babur, the first Mughal emperor, who brought those beautiful persian gardens to Hindustan. And his grandson Akbar, the greatest of all.

Author notes:

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links

Rajveer the Vampire

A “sun clan” warrior can never become a true child of darkness.
In 14th century India, Rajveer, a proud Rajput warrior of a Suryavanshi clan, is turned into a bloodsucker by an ancient Celtic vampire. Immortal, he loses his family to war and time and travels through northern India, seeing history unfold. Threatened by both human wars and evil vampires, can he remain true to his sworn vow not to take human lives?
A vampire’s journey through centuries.

Rajveer the Vampire is now available on Amazon for pre-order. Amazon India has the price of INR250.

The price might go up on the release date, November 1, 2015, so order it now.

Pre-order on Apple US, Barnes&NobleKobo and Smashwords.

Author name

Barbara G.Tarn
Website/Blog/Author pages etc.




Author Central
Publisher’s page with info on all the books:

Review – High Couch of Silistra – Janet Morris – Sci-fi


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So where to start? As one would expect from Janet Morris there is a lot more to this story than a simple science fiction tale. Firstly the protagonist is a woman, and a strong one at that. Estri is not your screaming maiden waiting to be rescued. She’s a feisty woman, who knows her worth, knows her skills, and her failings and above all she knows herself.

Estri is more than a woman of pleasure – for on her world this is no shameful profession. As Well Keepress she is much sought after, and highly skilled, but she is also teacher, student, lover, friend, fighter, diplomat, businesswoman, a slave, mistress and so much more.

Silistra is a world of contrasts – its people long-lived, its terrain in places inhospitable and its morals unusual. Fertility is everything in a world where the people rarely breed successfully. Duty, or Chaldra is everything – be that duty to oneself, one’s people, or the world in general.. A world misunderstood by the others, but attractive for many reasons, not least its Well Women must stand for its uniqueness and protect its beliefs. In many ways Estri is Silistra – wise, with hidden dangers, intriguing, alluring, complex and misunderstood.

Duty, power, sex, the complexities of relationships between men and women, and how they can change, fate, courage, loyalty, betrayal, personal journeys, fear, and adventure fill every chapter. The sex is not overdone, considering the context and although there is violence that too speaks of the power play which is core.

The world building, as with Morris’s other novels, is rich, complex and totally believable. For the duration of the tale Silistra is real. The characters, too, are a mix of good and bad, but no way clear cut. These are living, breathing characters with all that entails.

This is not a book for those of a faint heart or who cannot see deep within a tale for what lies therein. It’s a book to make the reader think. It’s a book of great stature, and storytelling of the finest sort. Of course it’s also a book for those who seek a heady adventure beyond the stars.

This is a book I couldn’t put down. 5 stars.

Editor Interview Number Twelve – Nikki Andrews


Hi, welcome to the Library of Erana and thank you for talking to us today.

Please introduce yourself.  Hi, I’m Nikki Andrews, AKA Kinan Werdski or Runs With Bears. Long stories.

How did you get into this line of work? Several years ago, a bunch of authors were featured in a collection by a very small local publisher. The editing was so poor that I begged to fix at least the punctuation. That led to a standing position at the company, with more responsibility as time went on. By the time the company folded, I had discovered how much I love the work, and sought out possibilities for freelance and contract work.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? Do you have any you love? I don’t accept erotica, porn, or dystopian novels, simply because I don’t like them. I love mysteries, classic sci-fi, and well-written fantasy.

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor? Yes, I am. I self-edit, but also submit to my writing group, and welcome editing by my publisher. If I were self-publishing, I would definitely hire an editor to check my work.

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors? I think authors short-change themselves by trying to edit their own work. Editing is a different skill from writing, requiring a whole other set of qualifications. Most important of all, an editor is not emotionally attached to a manuscript, and can see where changes need to be made.

Have you ever refused a manuscript? Other than for genres I usually refuse, I rarely turn down work. On occasion I have advised authors that their work needs more than ordinary editing; they may need a writing coach or instructor. In those cases, I’m willing to help, but because the work is much more intense, my fees are accordingly higher.

Have you ever had an author refuse your suggestions/changes? If so how did you deal with it? In my freelance work, a self-publishing author is, of course, free to do what she wants with my suggestions. However, if an author brings me a new story with exactly the same issues as the ones I corrected in his first manuscript, I gently suggest he refer to our previous work together before I contract the new one.

In work contracted to a press, I explain in detail why the change needs to be made and offer alternatives. I cite company policies and contracts, which often require edits to be made to company satisfaction. If all else fails–and this has never happened to me–a book might not be published if the author refuses to make satisfactory changes.

Editors often receive a bad press in the writing community, what are your thoughts on this? As an author, I understand the feeling. Editors criticize your book, which is like a stranger criticizing your child. But for an editor, it’s never personal; it’s always about improving the work. We may have different ideas on what “improvement” means, even among ourselves, but the goal is always to polish the gem.

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word Manuscript. Regardless of length, I start with the big picture, the content. Is the story compelling, the characters well-rounded, the setting realistic within its genre? Does every scene serve a purpose, whether to advance the plot, develop the world, or deepen the emotion? The key question here is, “Do I want to read more?” If not, why not, and what can be done to make it more engaging?

Then (and often simultaneously) I do the line editing, which encompasses finding the right words, clarifying point of view, checking the flow of dialogue and narrative, verifying consistency, rooting out anachronisms, and more. Finally (and again simultaneously) I check grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

What is the difference between proof-reading and editing? Good question. Some people are under the impression that editing is making sure commas are in the right place. Nope, that’s proof-reading, which looks for the sort of errors that creep in when you’re writing in the middle of the night: there/they’re/their, or is/are, or !/? Proof-reading is “proving,” in the original sense of “testing,” that the text is exactly what you meant it to be, with all the p’s and q’s correct and every word in the right place. It’s a very painstaking process, but different from editing.

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t? I love watching stories and characters come alive, and seeing writing grow stronger and more dynamic. I hate teaching how to punctuate dialogue.

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? What genre do you enjoy the most? Housework can wait. Cooking can wait. Visiting relatives can definitely wait. I’d much rather read. I probably read more mysteries than anything else, but I also enjoy science fact and fiction, mainstream fiction, and history.

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?” As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always “edited” my reads. If a book can make me switch off, I dance.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor? Get some nuns to teach you basic grammar. Preferably with a ruler across the knuckles. Failing that, and in addition, read some good style guides. Study well-edited books (ask your librarian for suggestions) and figure out what makes them special. Take a course or two or five. Read. Read. Read.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit? Don’t.

Tell us a silly fact about yourself. I settle editorial disagreements with hard copies of Roget’s or CMOS at ten paces.

Please add any links to your blog/website etc.

Author Interview Number Ninety-Six – Nikki Andrews – Mystery


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Welcome to Nikki Andrews

Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born in New Jersey a long time ago, but since then I’ve mostly lived inside my head.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. My latest book, Framed, is a cozy mystery set in a New Hampshire art gallery. More books in that setting are in the works. I also dabble in sci-fi and just started a romantic thriller.

Where do you find inspiration? The world is so full of a number of things…Normal everyday life, with a twist.

Are your characters based on real people? Yes and no. I’ve used real people as a baseline for characters, but I blend in traits, habits, or idiosyncrasies from other people. So far, no real people have recognized themselves in my books.  

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? Oh yeah! (rubs hands together) That’s part of the fun.

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? For Framed, I drew on my nine years as a picture framer, and did research into police procedures and messenger services. Like many writers, I’m a bit introverted, but I’m better at finding a person to talk to than I am at book/Google searches. And as I get older, I’ve gotten bolder at walking up to people who snag my interest. Once you get someone talking about their passion, it’s almost impossible to shut them up.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? Books that beat you over the head with a “message” bore and annoy me. Story first, always. There is a–let’s call it a theme–that runs through my books, but I’d rather let readers discover it for themselves, if they are so inclined.

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? Framed is available as an ebook or print. Large print and audio would be lovely, and in my spare time I’m looking into it.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I also work as an editor, and I’ve learned that no one can adequately self-edit. Every writer needs someone else to insist “this beloved passage adds nothing” or “you really need to expand that thought.” Even before I started thinking about becoming an editor, I used to mark up books where I thought changes would improve them. So yes, I think all books should be professionally edited.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? A book is far more interactive than movies or games. Books allow, even demand, the reader’s participation in imagining the world and the characters described. Just as a for-instance, I had a very different image of Gollum than what Peter Jackson gave the world. Every time I open a book, I become a co-creator with the author. And that is far more exciting than watching a movie or playing a game.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Read widely, write daily, learn deeply.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? Just finished Ann Hillerman’s Spider Woman’s Daughter. I was pleasantly surprised and relieved to find she did an excellent job with her father’s characters, and I loved getting a feminine perspective on them. I’m curious to see what will happen if she goes on to create her own new characters and mysteries.

Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? No, I couldn’t possibly name them. There are too many of each!

Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing?  I won’t name the company where I worked as an admin assistant, but that job from hell did provide a deliciously evil character that I managed to kill off three times in one book. Bwaa-ha-ha!

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I have been known to stand in front of the local planning board and make train noises at them.

Book links, website/blog and author links:



Twitter: @NAedits



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Taking the Plunge – One Writer’s Story – Ramon Youseph


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Not so long ago part time writer Ramon Youseph made the decision to leave his day job and work full time as a writer. For many of us this is a dream come true, for others a decision which is terrifying. Any freelance work is risky for someone with bills to pay. One cannot guarantee an income but Ramon is a man of some determination. Here’s his interview.

What made you decide to leave your previous job pursue writing as a full time career? It’s a big step!

Simple really, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do since I was a teenager, and at my age now (44) I decided that I didn’t want to sit about wondering what it was like to live my dream but to get on and do it. For the last six years I tried getting noticed with blog posts, articles and networking but my day job meant I was limited in terms of time, concentration I mean let’s face it after an eight hour day the last thing you want to do is stare at a computer for another five or six hours. Still in that time I managed to publish over 350 articles and posts of my own choosing as well for a client or as a guest contributor. I was even approached for comment by BBC online and quoted in their finished article – it was about the crowdsourced fan film “Star Wars Uncut”. However I Just got tired of seeing opportunities pass me by and not being in a position to seize them. Confidence also plays a big part.

When I started working for Kung-Fu Kingdom it provided me with a sort of litmus test of whether or not I could be a successful writer outside of my own blog. After a very promising two or three months with one very happy client, along with some long talks with my family and friends I decided to take the plunge. Since I have already had to make a couple of big life changing decision in my personal life, the prospect of a third one seemed less daunting, but only a little less.

How much support have you had from your friends and family?

The outpouring of support has been overwhelming if I am honest. Friends who have known me a long time and know this is my life’s ambition have rallied round me expressing their pride, admiration, some even a little envious that I could potentially live my dream. I have been called brave and an inspiration, even one or two of my most risk averse friends have simply said “go for it.” Yet the biggest support has come from my family. My parents are behind me 100% and offering their insight and experience of being self-employed. They appreciate there are risks involved but continue to encourage me, and have every faith that I will make a success of this.

How did you go about making preparations for this?

Well I already had an idea of what was involved from talking to one or two friends who are freelancers. I also picked up this book with the very simple title of “Freelance Writing” by Linda Jones. I noticed it had some good reviews so I thought I would give it a go. It covers all the fundamentals of the business aspect, how to source work, what to do about fees, and so on. It helped me map out a sort of template of the infrastructure I needed to put into place. This is not as a fancy as it sounds – it simply involved many hours in a coffee shop scribbling pages of notes riddled with ideas in a caffeine fuelled frenzy, such as building a professional looking website, marketing, the admin side including what to charge, but mostly what specific services to offer. Writing is such a big umbrella term so I had to think about the specifics that would combine the kind of services I can offer with the sort of writing I like to do. This is still something I am working on but I think I am nearly there.

There was also the question of how to structure my day, working hours, allotted time for breaks and tasks to undergo. I am still ironing out the creases on this. Then there was the question of letting potential clients know that this was the direction I was taking;  I set up a mailshot from my contacts list – people and organisations I worked with over the years and sent them a RamonWrites release to let them know I am available for hire. I also used my existing social media accounts to get the word out. The tough part I anticipated would be approaching potential clients for work and so far that is meeting my expectations, for example I registered with various portals that offer freelancing opportunities and there is a lot to choose from. The thing is that because there is SO much listed work they vary on subject matter which is great but also pay levels ranging from insultingly low (£1 per hundred words) to surprisingly generous (£350 per thousand words). Really it is just a case of being meticulous in the search to find work that is right for me. Above all else I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and my aspirations in terms of earning capacity are cautiously optimistic. So far all my expectations have been met.

You are a determined person, I know you’ve started running fairly recently – tell us a little about that? What else drives you?

I used to run as a teenager but like many things you dabble in at that time in your life there is the tendency to move onto other things – some people obviously stick with them. I got back into running over four years ago, worried that my weight was going to get the better of me. I needed something to drive me so a friend pushed me to run the Bristol 10k. It was grueling work for someone of my size but I did it and since improved on my time in various other races. Yes I am getting fitter although I could always lose a bit more weight and I am working on that but here are some benefits of running that I think those who insist it’s unhealthy or even a waste of time routinely ignore or don’t consider; running is one of the keys to both mental wellbeing and success.

As human beings our minds are riddled with thoughts, and rarely focused on the present moment. Sometimes we even overthink and get ourselves worked up over stuff we can do nothing about. A good run whether it’s a mile or ten will drag you into the present moment (sometimes kicking and screaming). It doesn’t take away your fears and worries which continue to float there like vapours but they can’t touch you especially when you’ve ran that first mile, or if you’re in a race, crossed that finished line knowing you beat your personal best. Nothing comes close to that feeling of accomplishment, it’s a rush and that’s when you truly appreciate what it means to be in the moment.

Running for me also shapes my attitude to my work and life in general. It teaches me what needs to be done to be successful. Through running I appreciate that successful accomplishments only come through adversity, hard work and putting in the time for the best possible results. When I run I push myself to do better, and that’s what truly drives me now that I am a full time freelance writer, the determination, not shying away from hard work and long hours, setting achievable goals, ready to climb hills and work through even the toughest days whether it’s dry spots (writing is very much a feast or famine business) or other things life sends to try us. After that intense tirade it might surprise you to learn that what also drives me is to get as much as joy as I can out of my life in all aspects whether it’s work, running, socializing, everything. You only have one life and I have a tremendous opportunity to live life on my own terms and enjoy the ride, why squander it?

If I recall you are a fan of fantasy/sci-fi, why this genre? What intrigues you so much about it?

Well on the lighter note it’s a lot of fun to be transported to magical realms in some far away land or worlds & galaxies light years away populated by an assortment of alien creatures, magnificent battles and so forth. It really excites the imagination and done well makes for truly engaging story telling. It’s a genre you can have a lot of fun with too and the creators are not necessarily bound by the restrictions of “realism” although science-fiction requires a certain element of that, or at the very least some plausibility. It can be exciting and a lot of fun to just get lost in another world.

Yet what I really love about sci-fi/fantasy is how it can act as a window through which we can examine the human condition, whether it’s speculative as with sci-fi pondering on what the future will be like, or reflective, sometimes even making a point about human activity. Some have said that there was an element of environmentalism in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and I think that’s true when you read (or see in the films) the destruction of the forests by Sauruman to build weapons and monsters of war. I don’t think you can get a more impactful representation of the harmful effects of industrialization than that. Both examine the notions of class, society, bigotry with such gravitas but what really draws me in is examining what it means to be human through a non-human conduit such as aliens and my favourite, machines. Isaac Asimov and Philip K Dick created some of the most amazing stories exploring humanity through androids or robots. Films such as Ex-Machina, AI: Artificial Intelligence really get into the nitty gritty of this aspect of sci-fi but none more so than Bladerunner. It still makes for a compelling idea that both the human and android characters are embroiled in their inner struggle for their humanity, and as for the ending – well I don’t want to spoil it for anybody who hasn’t seen it but the idea of epiphany finally learning what it’s all about is just mind blowing.

How important is research to your work? What are your best resources?

 Research is very important regardless of whether you are producing work through your own ideas or working from a brief/instruction from a client. When I wrote for the Daily Crowdsource I was given a brief outline and relevant web links on the topic I was asked to cover. The brief has plenty of information to craft an article but it is vital that further research is carried on receipt of the brief. I would always spend half an hour to an hour scouring the internet either for additional relevant information but more importantly for anything that might question, refute or even make irrelevant the information given to me. It protects the client and you the writer after all it’s not good business to put your client in a position where they have published false or outdated information. This is not a reflection on the quality of the client’s brief but simply having another pair of eyes covering your back but also suggesting angles and information that would stand out from the competition.

The internet is a great  source of information if you know how to use it properly. I try to adapt what I call a newsroom approach to web research which is, say I want to write about working conditions on coffee farms and the first bit of information I come across gives a glowing report. Whilst that is the sort of thing people like to read so that they can enjoy their lattes guilt free I am not going to take one source’s word for it. So I look for a minimum of two corroborating sources and then just to be on the safe side I would research the sources to see where their bias lies. There will always be more than one side to a story and there will always be someone with a challenging view and evidence to support, but what you are doing is checking the validity of your information and sources.  Of course not all briefs will require this much extensive research but it doesn’t hurt to check.

I read a variety of blogs, some of which can just be personal musing but also feature insights from news savvy academics, speakers and activists writing or expanding on various topics that might be missed in a Google search. These can saved to your browser or reader. I place great value on internet research which you can do from the comfort of your own bed still in your PJs. However I do find Twitter is a great source of information for any article. Like any social media site it is a mixed bag of news and gossip, activism and of course ephemeral socializing but there are plenty of accounts that provide specialized knowledge that could prove tiresome searching the web. If you were to write an article about Barbecue food you could contact any chef or connect with @devonwoodsmoke, the twitter account for a Devon based chef specializing in smoked and barbecue food. So that’s how Twitter can put you in touch with people and resources with vast knowledge that will help you add real meat to the bones of any article.

 Your website offers articles on ‘any subject’ – that’s a tall order. How do you aim to pursue this?

 Yes that is quite a boast isn’t it? I am not saying that I have a wealth of knowledge on anything from how to apply lipstick to the implication of Schrodinger’s Cat in solving the problem of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics in everyday objects, far from it. However if a client puts out a call to write about either topic, or both, my experience has been that they usually have an idea of what specific information to be included, style suitable to a target readership and purpose. This gives me an idea of what to write and how to structure it and anything that goes over my head I can learn more from internet research, ploughing through relevant blogs or even putting a shout out on Twitter for “expert” opinion.

There are of course limitations to what I can do and I am unlikely to be approached to produce academic essays that can only be read by other academics or professionals although I am always open to a challenge.

I do feel realistically that I can write about any topic that is put before me and fill any gaps in my knowledge with a little research and this comes from my work in crowdsourcing and crowdfunding. Through my blog Crowdsourcing Gazette and my client The Daily Crowdsource I have looked at how those have been used in technology and innovation, film making, journalism, marketing and advertising, crisis management, restoration, scientific advancement, banking, trade, and promoting the arts. It was important for me to understand what I was writing about so that it made sense and that I could decide if certain things needed expanding – for example I wrote an article about a percussion instrument that uses kinetic energy to produce enough electricity to power a USB light or charge a phone – by the way it refers to build up of energy through acceleration. In understanding that I was able to understand how the instrument worked and explain that in the finished article.

Of course I do love writing about subjects of which I have knowledge such as films, martial arts, fitness, and so forth but I am conscious of limiting my market potential should any of these areas “dry up” – I don’t want to be known as a film writer as there is a risk of deterring potential clients. Plus I like a challenge and always relish the opportunity to learn something new. In order to make this happen what I try to do is through freelancing portals apply for work on a variety of subjects but also use my Ramon Writes blog to showcase my varied range. Right now my crowdsourcing work provides ample evidence of my topic range but of course this needs updating. What I am also doing is keeping an eye on the market for what topics are in demand. So far example if it’s Internet Dating, whilst I have some experience as a user I might start reading up on the industry, study blogs and then apply for the job if it is still open.

Do you feel your previous jobs/interests will provide useful experiences for your writing career? If so why?

 My interests will provide me with insight where the work will reflect my passions; my work with Kung-fu Kingdom has involved reviewing martial arts films, events, as well as an interview with a graphic novel that combines Zombie story with martial arts. Since these are also my interests I can write passionately and informatively on all of these.

My previous jobs have certainly provided me with some basic skills – organizational, time keeping, day structuring that sort of thing although I am learning that those can go right out the window if you are hit with the dreaded writer’s block and you have a deadline. I already have experience of writing to deadline or quota (20 articles per month for example) so I can bring that to my new role. What I really bring to the venture is a strong work ethic – I don’t like to boast, although some former colleagues might disagree but for much of my working life clients, customers, and employers have expressed satisfaction with my work, and a happy client/boss makes me a happy worker and content in the knowledge that I am doing something right. I aim to please and (sorry for the shameless self-promotion) if you look at the Testimonials page on my website you’ll see current and former clients telling the world how happy they are with my work.

And of course working as a credit controller for 12 years I am not shy about chasing unpaid bills.

The internet offers a wealth of opportunities for writers – do you think the older, printed materials are becoming obsolete?

 I think it’s a possibility. Reading online whether it’s on your phone, tablet, laptop or PC offers so many advantages over printed materials – I mean if you feel inclined you can take 1000 books on holiday with your e-reader, imagine trying to fit those into your suitcase. Newspapers can only give you so much information as space is a premium whereas a news website can deluge you with a barrage of stories from all over the world, and through other sites. How can printed materials compete with that?

However I think there is a still a generation or two that prefers print over electronic reading the obvious one being newspapers, magazines and books don’t need charging up but also some (like myself) just love the smell of printed material. There is also still a concern that technology is encroaching on our daily lives, evolving too fast and so want to dial it back a bit – reading printed materials gives you a necessary break from your phone, TV and laptop. It can also be quality over quantity – why take 10 electronic books when you can just take one and take time reading it?

The debate is still raging of print over web – someday we could end up with a paperless society but unlikely in our lifetime.

 What are your tips on marketing/promoting yourself and your products?

 Oh that’s a tough one and I am still very much working through this but I would have to say is this;

  1. Put a professional face on your venture, in my case it’s the website. It’s clean, user friendly and visually pleasing on the eye but provides plenty of information without overloading potential clients with too much information. As a writer this is possibly the first glimpse anyone has of my writing and presentation ability so it is vital that the website reflects the best of all of that.
  1. An obvious one, use social media. Whether it’s Twitter or Facebook I try to post regularly my latest work, updates on how the business is going, articles of interest relevant to writing, sometimes I will promote other freelancers work, and even share my latest efforts out running. Seriously I try to keep it relevant to writing, and business but you can add some personal stuff to remind people you are human. Avoid controversy, bad language and text speak. Like my website my social media presence is the professional face of my business. Just like any business a little office banter or water cooler moment is ok but keep it clean and respectable and at some point you have to get back to work.
  1. If am writing about an event, any event I take plenty of business cards. Certain events are geared towards networking so there will be lots of business card swapping. I am conscious at such gatherings I will be caught shorthanded when a potential client wants my contact details and I have none to give him save a scrap of paper that is likely to be lost or binned.
  1. I am currently working on sending speculative letters and pitching ideas for potential articles to various publications.
  1. If you get an opportunity to talk about your specialism, business etc, or to be interviewed then quoted in a publication then take it. Doing presentations at talks and sitting on Q&A panels will work wonders for your professional face unless of course you get a case of flop sweat and start tripping over your words. Seriously, these events showcase what you’re all about and break the ice come the networking stage. If you were engaging enough, people will come to you with questions and want to know more about what you do. I am still waiting for my invitation however I have featured on the BBC website – have I mentioned that already?




Word of the Week – Misandrist


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I’ve been thinking of ways to vary the types of posts from the Library of Erana. After all variety is the spice of life, they say.

So I am starting a Word of the Week post – basically either myself or my followers can suggest a word, preferably an uncommon or unusual one, and I’ll look up meaning and origin. The Library of Erana is a hall of words – so we may as well find some:)

Today’s word: Misandrist – suggested by fantasy author Janet Morris.

NOUN: a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against men.  It’s parallel is misogyny – a word more familiar (hatred of women).

This is a word which appeared in the 19th Century in The Spectator (1871).

Translation of the French “Misandrie” to the German “Männerhaß” (Hatred of Men)[5] is recorded in 1803.[6] Misandry is formed from the Greekmisos (μῖσος, “hatred”) and anēr, andros (ἀνήρ, gen. ἀνδρός; “man”).[7]

Use in literature: Miss Haversham in Dickens’ Great Expectations was a caricature of a misandrist – jilted at the alter she thus hates men and uses the protagonist to exact revenge.

Arguably The Vagina Monologues is misandrist work as all the male characters are rogues, brutes and reprehensible individuals.

I’d like to say I haven’t read the latter of these but read Dickens many years ago and can’t remember much of the story.

Audiobook Narrator Interview Number Seven – Melanie Fraser


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Name: Melanie Fraser

*Tell us a bit about yourself:

I was born in Cape Town, South Africa to where my father had moved during WWII. I made the decision at the age of 3 to become a ballet dancer! Following my training there and after the family moved to England – post-Sharpeville  – I continued full time theatre training. As an actress, singer and dancer I later appeared  in theatre, film and television. After a long break away from performing, during which time I qualified and taught professional classical ballet in the UK and abroad, I returned to acting and now perform on screen and as a voice over artist.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production?

Gary Terzza told me about BeeAudio’s new Studio Certification Course and that they were establishing a UK network. Helen Lloyd, with whom I had worked in a few theatre productions, runs the UK side. The course introduced me to audiobook narration as well as production.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these?

These are on audible (UK and USA sites)

‘A Gentleman’s Daughter: Her Love’ (Reina M Williams)

‘The Promise’ (Elizabeth Chappelle)

‘The Final Dawn’ (Alice Catherine Carter)

 ‘Princess in Peril’ (Janet Whitehead)

 ‘A Murderer’s Heart’ (Julie Elizabeth Powell)

 ‘Lady Concealed’ (Jane Bridges)

‘Dirty Business’ (Julie Elizabeth Powell)

 One of my favourites is The Final Dawn, a compelling story of treachery and murder set in Stalin’s era/

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this?

At the top of my list is espionage, then historical and crime/thrillers non-fiction and fiction as these stimulate my interest and I always buy these books.

I’m not drawn to narrate erotica, science fiction and fantasy (involving elves and pixies) and wouldn’t usually buy books in those genres.

What are you working on at present/Just finished?

Currently I am nearing completion of an historical fiction set during the Anglo-Boer War called, ‘Crossing the Vaal’ by Archie Vincent.  It is beautifully descriptive and my top favourite to date.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.)

I start by reading the whole book before auditioning. Production begins by marking up the whole script with any pronunciation, unusual words etc listed or researched. I liaise closely with the author if there are any queries.

The characters are all colour coded on the script and a spreadsheet sets out the ages, types of voice and other information for reference. Accents are sourced via the IDEA, You Tube, film and other archives. I engage a tutor – always a native speaker – in whatever foreign accent is needed.

After recording and proofing, the editing takes considerable time. My studio is in a quiet area. Nevertheless, noises such as cars, planes, lawnmowers, barking dogs occur, picked up by my extremely sensitive microphone and are all removed. Each chapter is paced and proofed again with a final QC done before mastering, saving to the required format and specifications of the publisher after which the whole production is uploaded. An ongoing backup procedure is followed throughout the production so that nothing is lost……

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? 

I love the actual narration and really enjoy getting totally immersed in the story.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this?

Yes, so far I have done mostly these but now give preference to projects with a PFH rate.

Do you listen to audiobooks?

Yes. I’m currently listening to David Rattray’s ‘The Dead Moon’ a thrilling history of the Zulu Wars in the 19thC.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling?

Whilst many people like listening to books whilst doing other things such as travelling, there are also people like me who prefer to read a book. For me it is partly because after many hours of working with sound, I like peace and quiet. I think they both have their value.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself.

I have a dimple on each shoulder!

Where can we learn more about you?

Social Media links:

I am not on Facebook or Twitter


Review – Being Max’s Mom – Rebecca Miller


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Being Max’s Mom – Rebecca Miller

5 stars!

#Biography, #autism #specialchild

This is not usually the sort of book I’d read, but it was recommended by a friend. I’m so glad I picked it up. I read the whole thing in a few hours – I seem to recall looking at the clock and it was 2 am when I finished.

Max Miller is a young man whose life has been filled with challenges, even from before he came into the world.  In a world largely against Max and his courageous and determined mother, Rebecca, knew there was a fight to be fought, and my god was it fought.

Max is autistic – branded ‘unteachable and unreachable’ his mother was advised to send him to an institution. Instead her love, a hell of a lot of support, work and sacrifice have resulted in a boy who is not only ‘a good egg’ but a writer, and advocate for autism and the organiser of an arts project. Not bad for a child written off by doctors, family, and society. Ms Miller herself continues to study, to work and to fight and her intelligence and her love show through on every page.

Ms Miller’s language is easy to follow – in many ways this book is a diary of their lives – and the reader can truly relate to a mother fighting to get her son educated and accepted. Never does she say ‘why us?’ but she is realistic.  There is no bitterness here, sadness perhaps, but no not bitterness.  Ms Miller has done her research and her views are apparent but never does she say I think you should do this – the book provides the experiences of a parent raising a disabled child – but is not a ‘how to’. Autism is complex, misunderstood and no two cases present the same.  This book is an insight into a world, little understood and widely shunned. Read this  it will open your eyes and your heart.

Book Blast – The Dragon Stone Trilogy #DSTBlast


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Blast Info
Titles: Dragon Stones / Return of the Dragon Riders / Vosper’s Revenge
Series: Dragon Stone Trilogy
Author: Kristian Alva
Publication Date: July 31, 2015
Genre: YA Fantasy


Dragon Stones

Sequestered deep in the capital, the tyrannical Emperor Vosper weaves a plan to destroy all the dragons. He succeeds in driving them to the very brink of extinction. Only a handful of dragons and riders remain; living in exile in the desert. When young Elias Dorgumir finds a carved dragon stone in the forest, it brings empire soldiers to his doorstep, and puts Elias on the run with a bounty on his head.

With some help from his friends, Elias must escape the emperor’s wrath and try to make it to the safety of the dwarf caverns. Elias holds the key to the salvation of the dragon race. Is Elias strong enough to save himself and halt the evil that is spreading across the land?

* * *

Return of the Dragon Riders

The evil emperor Vosper gathers his troops in the east, poised to conquer the entire continent. His target is the rebel city of Parthos, a constant thorn in his side, and the last sanctuary of the Dragon Riders.Besieged from all sides, the remaining Dragon Riders come out of hiding. Forced to fight for their lives, they leave the safety of the desert, traveling across the land to gather intelligence and shore up forgotten alliances.At the center of it all is Elias Dorgumir, the key to an ancient prophesy, and Vosper will do anything to get his hands on him. Is it too late for the Dragon Riders to save Elias and stop Vosper from destroying the only refuge they have left?

* * *

Vosper’s Revenge

As the races of Durn stand on the brink of war, the power-hungry emperor plans his conquest of the entire continent.The dragon riders are fragmented. They have been scattered across the land; weakened by the discovery of a traitor in their own ranks.

Are the riders strong enough to defeat Vosper before he destroys them all?

Author Bio
Kristian Alva was born into a family of writers and teachers. She worked as a staff writer and a ghostwriter before publishing her own manuscripts. She currently lives in the United States with her family. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading all genres, especially epic fantasy.
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