A Literary Legacy

At the end of November 2019 my father passed away after a long illness. When discussing what to put in the Eulogy with my sisters we all agreed on the legacy he’d left us – a legacy far more valuable and less easy to quantify than money or a house. A love of reading and storytelling.

Dad left school at 16 with a basic education – he was, apparently, rubbish at art, woodwork and behaving himself but excelled at English, maths and history. He was a born storyteller. Times were different then, and even had he wanted to continue in education it would have not been possible financially. He joined the army at 19, was wounded in action and left partially sighted after being hit by a roadside bomb. (Not much changes in war).

Despite this he still loved to read – mostly westerns and historical books – but struggled with the print size to the end of his days. Both parents encouraged us to read, and both read avidly. Often the sitting room would be filled with people – noses buried in books and there were always books in the house. A trip to the local library was a treat.

Dad told stories about runaway pork pies and mischievous sausages, not to mention household implements which rose up against their masters. I vividly remember the wicked saucepan that hit its owner when it was replaced, and a hosepipe that went on the rampage. All told with my father’s wicked wit and gleaming eyes.

He loved poetry, particularly Kipling, and even a week before his death was able to recite one of his favourites word perfectly (even though his memory was going, he was confused about most things, in pain and on a whole raft of meds). His whole face was aglow when he spoke poetry.

Cargoes – by John Masefield was one of his favourites. The first verses would be read with wonder and then the final verse – well that was read very fast and loud. Reflecting the beauty of the old, fine ships and the somewhat less elegant British ships…

Of all the things Daddy gave us – love, a sense of humour, a belief in ourselves, not taking crap from anyone, to me the love of the written word was the finest – and the most ensuring.

I’m a writer and a poet, both my nieces write, my sister teaches English and drama, and the other sister is an artist and loves history. We all love books, and have FAR too many in the house.  The love of reading and storytelling will live on, and so it should. Storytelling is what makes us human, and it brings us freedom, adventure and emotion.

Thanks Dad, we will miss you.

This is one of Dad’s (and my) favourite poems Twenty Bridges from Tower to Kew

 

My Favourite Genre Is…. Part 2

I have just finished a rather tacky true crime book (I find some of this genre are good/interesting and well written but many are too sensationalist). Anyway, I was scrolling through my kindle, and gazing forlornly at the myriad of bookcases at a loss – what shall I read next?

There is a poll attached to this post – please vote on it and I’ll read and review a book from the winning genre.

 

Reader Interview – Melanie Fraser

Welcome to Melanie Fraser

Where are you from? Born in South Africa but have lived in the UK since the age of 10.

Please tell us a little about yourself. I’m an Actress (and former singer and dancer) and performed in theatre, TV and film for several decades. I started my professional training aged 5 in Cape Town before moving to England. I have a  recording studio in a peaceful part of the Isle of Wight where I record voice-overs and narrate and produce audiobooks.

 I have two pet rabbits and also enjoy jazz music and reading – mostly historical espionage and crime thrillers.

On average how many books do you read in a month? Oh, usually one and a bit as I read fiction and non-fiction although I don’t get much time to read so it takes a while to complete a book.

Where is your favourite place to read? At night at bedtime!

What genres do you prefer and why? Do you have any genres you avoid? My favourite genre is espionage (love the mystery and intrigue)

Other favourites are historical fiction and non-fiction (one learns so much about the world’s past events – if only history lessons had been so interesting)

Crime/thrillers I enjoy too as I like to guess whodunnit and enjoy the suspense.

Why are books important to you and what does reading bring to your life? Those with non-fiction elements are the most important. Reading is my special treat at the end of the day.

Do you have a favourite book or author, why do you think you like this book/author so much? I have many favourite books and authors – too many to mention here. However, the following are some of them:

 Rachel’s Shoe by Peter Lihou
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6…
Rachel’s mother’s ingenuity in protecting her daughter and Rachel’s admirable strength of character in dodging her former captors had me hooked.
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/960
The graphic detail of the killer’s methods and the pursuit of the Illuminati were compelling.

Birth of An Assassin by Rik Stone
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1…
Great atmosphere and descriptions of the terrain as a backdrop to Jez’s dangerous challenges – one of the best books I’ve found so far.

I also love the styles of authors, Simon Sebag Montefiore and BenMacintyre.

What medium do you prefer – e-books, audiobooks or paper books? Would you care to expand on this? I prefer hard copy as I like the feel of a book. However, e-books are convenient for downloading and as one can increase the font size, that helps too.

How do you usually find the books you read? For example: recommendations from friends, promotion on social networks, your local library, following authors you already know? I browse bookshops and charity shops as well as finding them on Amazon and Goodreads – the latter through information in groups. Once I find an author whose style I really like, I follow their upcoming books. Recently though, I found Ted Allbeury’s “The Twentieth Day of January” after hearing about it on BBC Radio 4 and loved it.

When choosing a book what makes you stop and give it a second look?  What makes you turn away? The blurb will attract me if it is a subject that intrigues me. Then the first page has to capture my interest for me to continue to read it. The cover isn’t vital but it helps if it is suitable for the story.

What makes me turn away is if there are glaring grammatical and editing errors – I feel this is insulting to the reader and shows sloppiness and a lack of professionalism. If the book doesn’t capture my interest on the first page – as mentioned above – or the writing is clumsy, I move on.

Do you read reviews by others and if so do they influence your choice? Yes I do read reviews but usually after reading a book as I prefer not to be influenced by anyone.

Do you “judge a book by its cover?” No. Often a cover can be ghastly but the writing is superb and vice versa. The writing is much more important to me.

What do you think is the most important aspect of a book for you? Plot, world-building, strong characters etc.? What turns you off? Short sentences, good grammar and spelling and excellent research are vital as well as the plot and believable characters. I like a good pace to the book. Too much description hinders pace and can be monotonous which would definitely put me off.

Does the behaviour of an author affect your choice to read one of their books?No, I don’t think so.

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews on sites such as Goodreads? I think it’s fine for other people’s books but I don’t think authors should give ratings or reviews for their own books – that’s bizarre.

If you had to pick three favourite books to take to a desert island what would they be? I’d say the three I listed above! Although I’m currently reading a wonderful book which meets all the criteria I mentioned above called “Beneath Sunless Waves” by Stephen Makk so If I could squeeze in another one, that would be great!

Do you think bricks and mortar bookshops are in decline? Hopefully not. I’m sure there will always be a need for actual books for us in venues.

 

Reader Interview – Victoria Zigler #Reading #interviews

I don’t often do reader interviews these days, but it’s great to be offering this. As an author readers are vitally important – they are our customers, our critics and our audience.  Many authors are avid readers, but of course, not all readers are authors.

Words are power, they are knowledge and they are freedom.  Readers play an important role in the life of books and words, for without readers books would sit unread, unloved and unknown.  What makes a good book, or for that matter a bad one?  Why do people read and how do they find their books?

Welcome to Victoria Zigler (or Tori, if you prefer).

Where are you from? I’m originally from South-West Wales, UK, and was born and raised in the shadow of the Black Mountains… Well, other than a short time in my teens when I lived on the South-East coast of England, and again later in my teens when I lived in Canada for six months.  But these days I live on the South-East coast of England, UK… Yes, the same part of it where I lived in my teens.

Please tell us a little about yourself. I’m a bookaholic.  Seriously! I’ve loved to read since I learned how, and been writing almost as long.  If I’m not either reading or writing, chances are I’m either spending time with my hubby and pets, dabbling in one of the other activities that sometimes manage to capture my attention for a while, such as watching movies, listening to music, playing roleplaying games (like Dungeons & Dragons, and that kind of thing) or doing crafts.  Either that or it’s because I’m sorting emails, putting in an appearance on social media sites, pretending to work while really playing Scrabble or Solitaire on my computer, or it’s because I still haven’t managed to get a house elf and am therefore forced to worry about things like housework and household errands.

Oh, yeah, I’m also completely blind, having lost my sight to Congenital Glaucoma.

On average how many books do you read in a month? Judging by the 317 book total for 2016, I read on average something like 26 books a month.  Of course, that varies, since some years I read more than the 317, other years I read less.  Basically, it depends on how long the books I’m reading at the time are, and what else is going on in my life that may cut in to my reading time.

Where is your favourite place to read? I’ll happily read anywhere, but most of my reading is done in my bedroom, which is where my stereo is, and where my Kindle spends most of its time.

What genres do you prefer and why? Do you have any genres you avoid? My favourite genre is fantasy, because anything can happen in it, and I enjoy the experience of being carried off to magical lands.  I’ll read almost anything though, regardless of genre or age range.  It doesn’t matter to me if it’s a children’s book or an adult book, or if it’s a fairy tale or a historical romance.  As long as it’s not Christian fiction, chances are I’ll give it a go.  I tend to be more concerned with whether the story appeals to me, rather than what genre it falls under.  Like I said though, the exception is Christian fiction.  That’s the only genre I completely steer away from.

Why are books important to you and what does reading bring to your life? Reading offers me an escape from reality when I don’t want to face it.  It also allows me to see the world in a way I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.  Not to mention, reading is one of the few areas where I’m not at a disadvantage from others due to my lack of sight; reading is one of the few activities where being blind doesn’t change the amount of information I absorb from the experience compared to a sighted person.

Do you have a favourite book or author, why do you think you like this book/author so much? To be honest, I have several favourite authors and books, and we’d be here all day if I listed them all in this interview.  Besides, my favourites depend on my mood to some extent.  Although, having said that, I fell in love with Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “A Little Princess” when I first read it as a child of maybe ten or so, and have adored the book ever since.  I don’t know what it is about the book, but it’s always my go to book when someone says I absolutely have to pick a favourite.

What medium do you prefer – e-books, audiobooks or paper books? Would you care to expand on this? Most of my books are eBooks, because they’re cheaper than audiobooks, and easier to get hold of and store than Braille books.  Of course, with my lack of sight, reading a physical book is only possible if it’s in Braille, otherwise I’d be perfectly happy to read my books in any format.  I literally only stopped reading paperback and hardback books when I couldn’t see to do so any more.

How do you usually find the books you read? For example: recommendations from friends, promotion on social networks, your local library, following authors you already know? Mostly it’s either from following authors I already know and love, or getting recommendations from friends or family members.  Other times it’s from someone randomly buying me a book they think I’ll like, from seeing a movie and learning it’s based on a book, or from being bored and typing random keywords into the search box of online bookstores or Goodreads.

When choosing a book what makes you stop and give it a second look?  What makes you turn away? It’s usually the title that I pay attention to first.  Sighted people may judge a book based on the cover, I do so based on a title.  If the title gets my attention, I’ll check out the book blurb.  If the blurb makes it sound like something I might enjoy reading, I’ll give it a go.  At least, I will as long as the blurb isn’t filled with typos and things; I’m always reluctant to read a book if the author can’t even make sure there are no editing issues in their blurb.

Do you read reviews by others and if so do they influence your choice? I pay attention to reviews of family and friends on Goodreads, because I like to know what my family and friends have been reading.  When it comes to choosing a book to read though, I only sometimes glance through reviews, especially if they’re by people I know, but only usually if the book has already captured my attention, and I’m already thinking of reading it anyway.  Bad reviews don’t generally stop me buying a book, unless the bad reviews are because of poor editing, in which case I’ll think twice about reading something, and be reluctant to do so.

What do you think is the most important aspect of a book for you? Plot, world-building, strong characters etc.? What turns you off? All those things are important, and it depends on the book in question to which matters most to me when I’m reading it.  Things that turn me off though are poorly edited books, and excessive use of curse words in inappropriate situations.  When it comes to the editing, I can let some mistakes slip by, since I do appreciate that even the best editors can miss things, but when there’s a mistake every other word – or it feels like there is – it stops me enjoying the book.  When it comes to the curse words, it’s not that I’m prudish or anything, it’s just that some people seem to use curse words excessively, in situations where people wouldn’t normally swear, or just to save themselves the trouble of thinking of better replacement words.  There are also times when it feels like the curse words were only added to make up the word count.  While I can accept the use of curse words in some books… Especially during steamy scenes in books of an adult nature… Excessive and inappropriate use of them seriously irritates me, and the use of them at all in books aimed at middle grade readers or younger is entirely unacceptable to me.

If you are a reviewer why do you review? I write reviews to help other readers decide if an author’s book is worth reading, and to help out other authors looking for some attention for their books.  I admit some of my reviews are vague, and most of them are really short, but at least I do them.

If you’re wondering, I post my reviews on Goodreads, as well as in a monthly review round-up post I do on my blog, and sometimes post reviews on Smashwords too (the latter only being if I got the book via Smashwords, of course).  I’ve also done reviews on Amazon and Audible on request.

What factors are important in a review? This is a tough one.  If I enjoyed a book enough that I gave it the full five stars, I feel just a few words saying how awesome it was is enough (though I’ll expand on that if I’m dealing with a review request, or feel there’s something I want to specifically compliment).  If I gave it less, I feel it’s important to explain what stopped me giving it the full five stars.  Beyond that, I think it varies from book to book.  Although, it is often helpful to say something about the quality of the writing and world building, and the believability of the characters, I think.

Do you think it is appropriate to discuss author behaviour in a review? No.  Reviews are about the books, not the author’s behaviour.

What are your views on paid for reviews? I don’t agree with them.  By all means give someone a free copy in exchange for an honest review, but I don’t think you should pay them to review your book.  I’ve never been paid for a review, and never expected to be.  I mean, I’ve been given free copies of books in exchange for reviews, and there are a couple of authors who regularly send me advanced review copies of their books because they know I’ll want to read their books anyway, and have learned that sending me copies in exchange for my review will get their books bumped to the top of my to-read pile.  But, as I said, I’ve never been paid for a review.  I’d also like to stress that any review I write in exchange for a free book is an honest one, based on my own personal opinion, and nothing else.

Some readers believe all 4 and 5-star reviews on a book must be fake. What are your thoughts on this? Some people just like to find a reason to criticize others, and whether or not some books have all four and five-star reviews that are genuine or fake is just another example of this.  Sure, it’s possible that some of those reviews might be fake.  But for the most part I don’t think they are, and don’t think it’s fair to assume they are.  For the most part those books are just examples of authors who did a great job in producing a book worthy of high praise.  If people can’t see that, then they’re obviously blinder than I am.  Either that, or they’re the kinds of people who only feel pleasure when saying or doing things to hurt others, in which case I feel sorry for them, because it must be a lonely existence only feeling pleasure when causing others pain.

Website: http://www.zigler.co.uk
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/toriz
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/pub/simplesitesearch.search.do?sitesearch_query=Victoria+Zigler&sitesearch_type=STORE
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/toriz
Personal Facebook profile: http://www.facebook.com/tori.zigler
Facebook author page:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/victoriazigler
Blog: http://ziglernews.blogspot.com
E-Mail: keroberous2004@gmail.com

Reader Interview Number Twenty – Amanda Kent

It’s been over a year since I’ve posted a reader interview so it’s great to be running one again.

*Welcome to Amanda Kent

Where are you from? United Kingdom

Please tell us a little about yourself.
Retired IT Programme/Project Manager. Labour Party activist and ward chair, currently campaigning to remain in the European Union. Member of local Amnesty International group. Fluent in French and German as well as English mother tongue. Married with two sons.

On average how many books do you read in a month? Approx 80–90-120 per year. Of these, I read a small amount of books in French and German each year, maybe 5% and hope to add Italian to this eventually. I don’t read translations of books that I can read in the original French or German.

A quarter to a third of the books I read will be re-reads, mostly genre fiction to unwind. A quarter to a third of the books will be by women. With a conscious effort, I managed to make it half and half last year, but it doesn’t really seem worth a conscious effort, because it was lowering the overall quality. More of the women authors I read seem to be crime or SF/fantasy than serious.

Where is your favourite place to read? Anywhere and everywhere. I almost always carry a book.

*What genres do you prefer and why? Do you have any genres you avoid?
I have no prefered genre though I’m finding that I read more non-fiction as I get older than I used to. As well as novels and non-fiction, I quite often read plays but only a little poetry, usually short poems.

I don’t like horror/ghost stories at all, or misery memoirs. I rarely read chick-lit/romance. I’m not usually much interested in travel books.

Why are books important to you and what does reading bring to your life?
Fiction, notably genre fiction, provides escape and relaxation. Non-fiction provides information and food for thought which may influence moral and political choices, as does quality fiction.

Do you have a favourite book or author? Why do you think you like this book/author so much?
No, I would spend hours trying to work out even a top 100.

What medium do you prefer – e-books, audiobooks or paper books? Would you care to expand on this?
I prefer physical books, paperback or hardback. If I re-read a paperback too often, I may need a hardback replacement because it fell apart. This happened to my childhood paperback of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings – and the hardbacks of it which my sons have shared are now showing a pale skin pink under the leather of the binding.

Good covers, presentation, illustration do contribute to the pleasure of reading. I don’t like e-books, possibly because I was in IT: screen-reading is work not pleasure to me. I never really got into audiobooks – unless you’re travelling a lot by car or have a visual handicap, they just take too long compared with reading. Also most audiobooks are abridged and I want to read the real thing. That may, of course, change if I go blind in old age.

How do you usually find the books you read? For example: recommendations from friends, promotion on social networks, your local library, following authors you already know?
I read things I’ve earmarked from the Guardian’s Saturday Review of Books, friends recommendations and further works from authors I already know.

I buy books firsthand from Waterstones, Foyles, Daunts, second hand through Amazon marketplace(not from Amazon direct if I can possibly avoid it) or charity shops and I borrow books from friends and from the library, especially books where I have any doubts if I’m going to like them. Occasionally if I love a library book, I may later buy it to re-read.

When choosing a book what makes you stop and give it a second look? What makes you turn away?
Mostly I read books I’ve already identifed I want to read so what attracts my eye is a known author or title, very occasionally an intriguing cover and blurb.

Do you read reviews by others and if so do they influence your choice?
I rarely read on-line reviews but read some newspaper/magazine ones.

Do you “judge a book by its cover?”
Occasionally a cover will put me off reading a book, which sometimes I may return to a later edition of, but not very often and very occasionally a cover & blurb will attract me to a book I might have overlooked, but it’s definitely secondary .

What do you think is the most important aspect of a book for you? Plot, world-building, strong characters etc.? What turns you off?
Plot and the construction of the story is important in fiction/drama, except in poetry where form to a large extent takes over from plot. I hated Stephen Donaldson’s Lord Foul’s Bane because after a really interesting opening idea it went into chapter after chapter of he met some strange beings, did some unconnected stuff (repeat, repeat, repeat, stop) with no linking or development of character or apparent point to the tale. Fernando Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet I couldn’t read because of the absence of plot; there were beautiful passages but the lack of overall shape made it well nigh impossible to remember what you’d read 10 pages ago – it can only really be done as a kind of poetry and that’s hard.

Plausible characters and events are critical in fiction whether in a totally imaginary or a realistic tale. Style/narrative approach matter, at their best they reinforce the story e.g. Primo Levi: the Periodic Table or Jeannette Winterson: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit; at their worst they give a gimmicky feel to the book.

The way some authors write can put me off, if their style is very ‘look how clever I am’ for example or outright pretentious – I’m not a big fan of Salman Rushdie or John Fowles because of this. Stylistic tics and bad proofreading can be an irritant – for example it is sadly obvious that Bloomsbury gave up proofreading JK Rowling after book 3 and the quality is affected even if the overall narrative is still strong.

In non-fiction, I like information to either to be a story eg biographies or to present a coherent argument on an issue or issues.
My favourite books tend to be ones that give you some food for thought on issues of ethics, politics or approach to live.

Does the behaviour of an author affect your choice to read one of their books?
Potentially yes. If the author is obnoxious in real life, it’s likely to come through in the books. And there are so many other books… If I hate the first book I read by an author, it takes a personal recommendation to get me to try another. I have an accumulated ‘To read list’ of about 500 titles so why waste energy on things I probably won’t enjoy!

It’s only rarely that I give up part way through a book, though, and that’s partly because I read quite fast. However, some books I couldn’t finish are supposed to be very good e.g. Don Quixote but I was so bored by the end of part 1 I just couldn’t manage any more.

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews on sites such as Goodreads?
I wish they would keep away and I absolutely hate it in when they promote their books, it almost guarantees that I won’t read them: if their books were any good they wouldn’t be doing it. I don’t buy from door-to-door salesmen for the same reason.

If you had to pick three favourite books to take to a desert island what would they be?
I doubt if I could really, but for example Mrs Gaskell: North and South; Victor Hugo: les Miserables and Erich Maria Remarque: A Time to Live and a Time to Die (sometimes mistranslated as a Time to Love because of the film).

Or on a different day, Hermanne Hesse: the Glass-Bead Game, Antonio Tabucchi: Pereira Maintains and Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

Do you think bricks and mortar bookshops are in decline?
They have been but seem to have stabilised at a lower level and physical books are not in decline, at least here in Britain.

 

Reader/Reviewer Interview Number Twenty – Joselyn Moreno

*Welcome to Joselyn Moreno.

Where are you from? Panamá

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m just an average girl who loves to read and craves lots of books. I’m bilingual and I like blogs a lot too. I’m 30 years old, and have been reading since I could, a trait from my mom since she is a elementary teacher.

On average how many books do you read in a month?
Usually depends on the length of the books if they’re short I can read 3 to 5 of them if they’re more full-length maybe 2 a month.

Where is your favorite place to read?
Anywhere I can find to read, being my bed, my car, the mall.

*What genres do you prefer and why? Do you have any genres you avoid?
My favorites would be romance because which girl doesn’t sigh with a good one, terror/horror love to scare myself ajajaaj, dystopia since it seems so real but at the same time sci fi and interesting.

Why are books important to you, and what does reading bring to your life?
Because they can lift my spirits whenever I need, for me they’re like my drug and well they bring a lot of good things to my life, like friends and lots of reads.

Do you have a favorite book or author? Why do you think you like this book/author so much?
Jovee winters, I love her sexy retells of classic children tales.

What medium do you prefer – e-books, audiobooks or paper books? Would you care to expand on this?
Ebooks mostly, audiobooks are good too so I can go in the traffic hearing something cool, paperback are nice only when you have space at your home for them.

How do you usually find the books you read? For example: recommendations from friends, promotion on social networks, your local library, following authors you already know?
Following authors more than anything and with my blog I receive a lot of request to read.

When choosing a book what makes you stop and give it a second look? What makes you turn away?
For me the covers and the blurbs are it, that can convince me to give a book a try. For me to turn away a book it mean the blurb didn’t catch my attention or it was too heavy for my liking.

*Do you read reviews by others and if so do they influence your choice?
Yes sometimes I do, and not really but they could always make a book seem more interesting.

Do you “judge a book by its cover?”
Jaja well sometimes, I do love cute covers it’s a great catch to my eyes, however I do try to buy them for their story.

What do you think is the most important aspect of a book for you? Plot, world-building, strong characters etc.? What turns you off?
Plot and characters for me is what makes a book good or bad.
Too much roundabout can make me turn off since I get bored.

Does the behaviour of an author affect your choice to read one of their books?
Only if they do something bad to me personally if not well people are people and we can’t control them, but it doesn’t mean the books are bad.

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews on sites such as Goodreads?
I think it’s awesome, they get to know their fans and interact with them, that is always a good thing.

If you had to pick three favourite books to take to a desert island what would they be?
Fields of Elysium, The Veil: Awakening, Red and her Wolf

Do you think bricks and mortar bookshops are in decline?
Yes and no, Yes because they’re so few you can get to really like bookshops, and no because lots of business sells books so they are like miniature bookshops inside stores, I’m hopeful they never disappear.

If you are a reviewer why do you review?
Because I like to help people discover new books and authors to know people out there likes their books.

What factors are important in a review?
That the plot is good more than anything in my case.

What are your views on paid for reviews?
It will depend if you’re paying for a good review then it’s bad it should be honest, if you’re paying for the time someone took for reading your book it maybe be more like a donation to that person to keep reading and doing what they love.

Are you influenced by other reviews when choosing a book? What other factors influence your choice?
Not really, I do see what other people think and it’s a matter of points of view.
What influences my choice in a book will be the cover design if it is appealing to me and if the story is enticing.

When reviewing what are the important criteria? Editing? Plot? Which factors do you overlook? (if any)
My criteria, plot and character making, I do overlook editing sometimes since we are humans and can make mistakes.

What are your opinions on authors commenting on a review – negative and positive?
Positive because that shows they care and are willing to learn from those reviews and grow as authors.

Do you feel it is appropriate to discuss author behaviour in a review, is this a factor which influences your choice?
NO its not, a review should solemnly be what you think about a book, no hard feelings in it.
If you need to say something about behavior you can always talk with the author directly.

A lot of readers comment about a book with all 4 or 5 star reviews and nothing below as being suspicious? What do you think about this?
That they really liked these books, it’s not unheard of, I guess.

Do you give negative reviews?
I do try not to be negative about my reviews but if I don’t like a book I try to be professional and polite about it and I never blame a book for not liking it, it’s just not my taste that’s all.

Do you mainly stick to your preferred genres, or would you consider reviewing outside your comfort zone?
I usually stick with my genres but from time to time I like to try and explore a different thing, it can surprise me.

Do you deal with reviewing Indie books differently to how you review a mainstream book? NO I review them the same way, they’re books and shouldn’t be treated differently just like people.

Have you ever been a victim of an ‘author behaving badly’? How did you deal with it?
Just one time and I think it was kind of my fault too, but I think that she was too harsh and judgmental the way she looks at things, well I did apologize to her and all but after that I didn’t want to read her anymore.

2015 – A Writer’s Diary

Welcome back to the Library of Erana and the last day of 2015. So another year has dashed past and I’m sitting at the end of 2015 and wondering where it went. I have a theory – someone is siphoning time out of the weekend and holidays and sneaking it into the working day. That’s why days at work seem to go on longer than the same day on leave.

What has 2015 brought me? A house! We bought our first house in April and it’s great. Whilst the place isn’t perfect it’s a good deal better than renting a damp flat and my overall health is better. Also we now have a delightful doggy – she’s grown from a tiny puppy to almost adult and we adore her. Every day she makes us smile and she’s such a happy and joyful creature.

Work… still there. Still stressful and busy but at least I am working and thankful for that.

Writing wise I’ve not been as productive as I planned – mostly due to the factors above but I’ve not been idle.

Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book III was published in March 2015. https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/new-release-the-stolen-tower-the-light-beyond-the-storm-chronicles-iii/

thestolentower500x800 (1)

The third edition of Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book I was published with quite a few revisions and a new cover for the paperback. http://www.amazon.com/Light-Beyond-Storm-Chronicles–ebook/dp/B0088DQO9C

Outside the Walls was revised and expanded and the audio book produced with narrator Melanie Fraser. It sounds great. There is something magical in hearing one’s book read aloud.

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/08/25/outside-the-walls-fantasy-short-story-new-release/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/outside-the-walls-now-in-print/

Audio

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Outside-the-Walls/dp/B0189QHB12/

http://www.amazon.com/Outside-the-Walls/dp/B0189Q944E/

http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Fiction/Outside-the-Walls-Audiobook/B0189QCHI4/

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Outside-the-Walls-Audiobook/B0189Q95XO
Warrior’s Curse was produced in audio by narrator Rob Goll – who has also done Heroika: Dragon Eaters for Perseid Press and will be narrating Light Beyond the Storm and Shining Citadel in 2016.

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Tales-of-Erana-The-Warriors-Curse-Audiobook/B00UG8AWU4/http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Tales-of-Erana-The-Warriors-Curse-Audiobook/B00UG8I5SK
Heroika: Dragon Eaters was published – along with the accompanying audio book. Please check out the A Week with the Dragon Eaters posts for author and character interviews.

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/12/19/heroika-dragon-eaters-audio/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/heroika-dragon-eaters-heroic-fictionfantasymyth-new-release/

11143231_897184103657050_5318210832294606375_o
I’ve done 17 guest interviews elsewhere including the latest with Melanie Fox here. https://mercedesfoxbooks.com/meet-author-a-l-butcher/ and four character interviews including Mirandra, Ephany, Dii’Athella and the Thiefmaster.

Oh and a course on Roman and Greek Mythology – which was really interesting. https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/greek-and-roman-mythology-course-review/
There have been over 160 blog posts – including another Week in Hell, a Week with the Dragon Eaters, character, editor and author interviews, and several fantasy based posts and reblogs.

10 tips and lessons

1) I’m rubbish at using Twitter! Does it help marketing? Not a bloody clue. Many people say it is a vital tool; personally I’m not convinced as I have never bought a book or product from a twitter link and it looks like many people shouting to me. That said I do follow a few authors and it is useful for sharing blog posts. I follow the history, nature an astronomy posts too.

2) There is never enough time or energy to write. This is, of course, mostly my fault. I work full time and often I don’t have enough energy or brain power to do much but poke about on Facebook.

3) Networking is vital. I knew this already but it’s good to have one’s knowledge reinforced. Indie authors are, generally, a supportive lot and I’ve traded interviews, found great books to read and got to know a wide variety of people through social media and networking. It’s a good way of getting support for new releases, blogging, Thunderclap and more.

4) There are some total asshats about and many more idiots. This too has been obvious for a while. Recent events have NOT made the world a safer place. Whilst I agree that terrorism is bad, and religion pernicious bombing the crap out of an area that is already a wasteland is not going to make things better. Humans have an amazing capacity to be total asshats to one another – I can’t think of any other animal which is so unpleasant to its own kind – of course not everyone is like that and certain groups have been labelled as terrorists when it is the actions of a minority. History tends to repeat itself – and in many ways humans have a short memory – or at least a selective one. Often people are quick to judge, especially when they don’t know all the facts. Ignorance leads to fear and fear to hatred, then the killing begins anew, or the ghetto, or the pogrom, or the genocide….

Facebook especially fuels both idiocy and vitriol. There are lots of calls from freedom of speech but – of course that depends on who is doing the speaking and what they are saying. There is either freedom to say what the hell you like – and that goes for everyone or there’s not – some limitations are put in place. But then where and when does that stop. Perhaps if people thought before they spoke (or typed) such limitations wouldn’t be needed. Just because you CAN say something doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
Anyway enough of the political talk…don’t get me started I spent 7 years studying politics, sociology, ethics and philosophy and it taught me not to get involved in debates with people who won’t listen and assume they are always right…

5) Marketing is a lottery. I’ve tried some new tactics this year – including Twitter and Thunderclap – results have been mixed. Both are free – at least at the basic level so although not particularly successful no outlay was lost. I’ve found a mix of things helps. Don’t rely on one strategy – vary your approach and keep things interesting.

tps://www.thunderclap.it

6) Write every day, even if it’s not working on a book or story. A blog post, a facebook post, a letter or email to someone – it all keeps the brain cells ticking. Write stories when you can and don’t force it. The world is NOT going to end if that story isn’t finished this week. That’s one of the many reasons I love indie publishing. With a few exceptions the person setting the deadlines is me and so if the book isn’t finished or life intervenes (which it does frequently) then it doesn’t matter as much.

7) Be nice to people. If you can’t be nice be quiet.

8) Vary what you write – if you’re struggling with a project then step away from it and work on something else. I’ve found that focusing on other things means my brain can be ticking away in the background sorting out the problems with the other project.

9) Some things can’t be fixed. It’s easy to spend a lot of time on a project or idea only to find it doesn’t work, or its crap. Yes I know this contradicts point 8 a bit but sometimes an idea simply won’t work – or at least not in the way you want. That’s fine. Sometimes shit happens (or doesn’t) don’t force it to be something it isn’t. Readers can spot a forced plot. If it doesn’t work then change it – look at your options. Can it be used for something else? What is causing the issue? Can it actually be fixed? Sometimes it can’t. Sometimes it becomes something else. That’s fine too.

10) Read more. Reading is great relaxation, great research and great enjoyment. The more you read the better writer you’ll become.

So what’s planned for 2016?

I have lots of plans for 2016 – most of which may never materialise but it’s still good to plan.

These are not in any order….
Hopefully a second Heroika volume will happen (for Perseid Press). Not going to mention too much of my WIP but the volume should be great, having seen a few snippets of draft stories. Hopefully my story will be up to scratch and I’m sure the book will feature on the blog when it’s published.

There will be at least one short Tales of Erana, possibly two. I’m planning to release Just One Mistake with a few revisions as a standalone. It’s already featured in Nine Heroes plus my own Tales of Erana Volume One but I have idea how it can be expanded. I think it would make a great audio short story.

Book II is currently being revised so there will be a new edition of that sometime early to mid 2016.

Book I in audio. Rob Goll is narrating that and we are hoping for spring 2016 release on that. I can’t wait to hear what he’s done.

Tales from the Golden Mask – this has been a WIP for a while. Hopefully the first part of the series will be released by the summer. It’s a co-authored erotic adventure set in an Erana of the past. We think it’s a lot of fun, with feisty women, sexy heroes and of course a goodly helping of nookie. This one doesn’t take itself or the world too seriously and is aimed at a slightly different audience.

The Kitchen Imps – a short book of fantasy tales for kids and the young at heart. I really need to work on these, as this is another project which has been around for a while.
I’m contemplating changing the blog – currently this is the free wordpress type but the upgraded version has a lot more features. I’m hoping to attach a website dedicated to just the books as well. I’ll let you know how that goes…

Also looking to participate in a blog tour – I’ve hosted people before but I’ve never done it myself. Will be an interesting experience and I’ll review it after.

Want to try and read more, and review more. I often stick to re-reads but I’m going to try and branch out for new authors. I’ll try and be better at posting reviews as well.
Looking for plenty more interviews – both giving and receiving – guest posts and articles.

Signed up for a course on medieval magic, one on Ancient Greece and also looking at ancient Egypt. Plus whatever else takes my fancy and I can manage with the other commitments.
I’ll look back in twelve months and see how many of these I’ve done.
Feel free to comment on ideas, suggestions for the blog and contacts about interviews.
Hoping 2016 is good for you, my followers, and you’ll keep viewing the blog.

Red and gold rose 2chronicles banner  Warriors Curse Final 1 - ebook

Reader Interview Number Nineteen – Jessica Jackson

Where are you from? (Country)
 -U.S.
On average how many books do you read in a month?
-I tend to read a book a day, so, at most, 31.
 
Where is your favourite place to read?
-Just at home, in bed, with my music blaring out of my laptop.
 
What genres do you prefer and why? Do you have any genres you avoid?
-Anything Young Adult. I will basically read anything in YA.
What medium do you prefer – e-books, audiobooks or paper books? Would you care to expand on this?
 -Paper! I love to have the actual book in my hands, and yes, I love the smell. I do like ebooks, though, as ebooks are generally very cheap and  it makes it easy for review copies, but nothing can beat Paper books. I do listen to audiobooks, but it generally takes too long and I only do it for multitasking.
 
How do you usually find the books you read? For example: recommendations from friends, promotion on social networks, your local library, following authors you already know?
-Goodreads and Blogs mostly. Goodreads is my favorite website and I follow numerous blogs that introduce me to new books.
 
When choosing a book what makes you stop and give it a second look?  What makes you turn away?
-I hate saying this, but the cover. The cover initially attracts me, then if the blurb features any unique ideas I’ve never seen before, I’ll want to read it. Especially if it includes parallel worlds.
-Things that are overdone, hints at love triangles, or forbidden romance. I’ll still read them, sometimes, but I’ve either seen them too many times or I’m just no longer a fan of the trope.
 
Do you read reviews by others and if so do they influence your choice?
-YES. I follow so many blogs, that I definitely read a lot of reviews. I try not to let them influence my choices, but if I see a lot of positive/negative reviews for a certain book, it will affect my reading.

Fantasy, Science Fiction and Heroic Literature in our Society – Logan Judy

 Name:  Logan Judy

www.loganjudy.com

http://www.loganjudy.com/newsletter/

www.facebook.com/loganjudyauthor

http://twitter.com/loganrjudy


Location (as I am wondering if it is regional)?
:  Northern Indiana (Remington)

Bio: Logan Judy is a fantasy, science fiction, and dystopia author who began writing when he was 12 years old.  Nine years later, he published his first novel, Finding Sage, and the sequel a year later. He currently lives in Indiana with his wife Rebecca and her Don Quixote-esque guard dog, exploring new worlds and writing new stories.

How do YOU define fantasy/science fiction? Both science fiction and fantasy can be broadly defined as stories existing outside of our own present terms of reality.  Either you have science fiction, granting things plausible but not yet discovered or invented, or you have fantasy, existing outside of plausible reality altogether.  I love that definition because it leaves a great realm of possibilities open to us as writers.  So if I want to write fantasy, I don’t have to stick to wizards, elves, dragons, and vampires; I could create something entirely new!

If you’re a writer how do you portray heroism in your books? The hero as a literary construct has been given a very rigid definition by literary critics: a young person, usually male, who receives a call to action, rises through challenges with the help of a mentor, experiences a metaphorical (or literal) death and rebirth, then returns home to glory while having become a different person through self-knowledge.  It’s neat, clean, and defined.  I don’t like that about it.

When it comes to heroism in my books, I like to concentrate on one theme in particular: sacrifice.  There are many things that can make a hero, including bravery, strength, saving people, and conquering great things, but to me, a hero is someone who will sacrifice themselves for somebody else.  Beyond that, I like to leave it wide open.  So that might fit some or even a lot of those typical definitions, but it also leaves a lot of room open for stories that maybe haven’t been done before in quite the same way.  So you could have the aforementioned scenario, or you could have a young woman who sacrifices herself to save her little brother without the help of a mentor, and without a rebirth or return.  She’s every bit the hero that Frodo is.

It has been argued fantasy is full of ‘tropes’ – what are your views on this? It most definitely is . . . just like every other genre in fiction.  Nearly all romance has a formulaic progression to it, but that doesn’t keep A Walk to Remember from making me cry.  The book about small town wonders has been written scores of times, but that didn’t keep me from thoroughly enjoying Dandelion Wine.  There’s a logical fallacy in assuming that just because there are ‘tropes’ that there’s no originality within that.  Different writers can have different takes on the same ideas and concepts.  Dracula is nothing like Twilight which is nothing like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, yet all feature vampires, so that’s less a criticism than an acknowledgement of classic influences – or at least it should be.  In fact, some of the best and most exciting fantasy I’ve read in recent years have been interesting takes on classic tropes, as opposed to completely new inventions.

How important are ‘facts’ in fantasy/science fiction – does something need to be plausible to be believable? If you substitute the word ‘consistent’ with ‘plausible’ then absolutely it does.  But there’s a great deal of difference between the two.  In science fiction, for example, plausibility is a key part of the appeal.  Classic writers like Jules Verne and George Orwell were so successful because their stories were just close enough to reality to make us imagine that they could be prophetic.  But when it comes to fantasy, we have something different altogether.  That a dark lord could make magic rings and bind everyone to them in a land filled with elves, dwarves, halflings, and orcs is not plausible, and yet Lord of the Rings is enormously successful–because it is consistent.  The rules of the world make sense because of the willing suspension of disbelief.  So the premise of the world in science fiction and fantasy doesn’t necessarily have to be plausible, but internal consistency is non-negotiable.

What science fiction/fantasy has influenced you most?  What would you say the most influential writers/film-makers? I grew up on fantasy, particularly the Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, as well as more contemporary works such as the Percy Jackson series, Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, and the Star Wars saga.  But of those, I would only ascribe Lewis as a strong influence on my writing.  Since becoming a young adult, I have been progressively influenced by science fiction and dystopia writers, particularly George Orwell and Ray Bradbury (although the latter of those claims to have written only one science fiction novel, Fahrenheit 451, labeling his other works such as Something Wicked This Way Comes as fantasy).  I especially identify with Ray Bradbury; if you read interviews where he talks about his writing method, that’s exactly how I operate.

Reviewer Interview Number Nine – Rebecca

Welcome to Rebecca from the Literary Connoisseur.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Well! I am an eighteen year-old American book reviewer. I read anything and everything from YA (young adult) to Biographies to Fiction. My blog will be turning a year old next month on June 28th (YAY!) and this is my dream. I am loving every single minute of blogging, I have had so many opportunities open up because of it, and I couldn’t be happier! (Unless maybe if I interviewed J.K. Rowling.)

On average how many books do you read a month?  What genres do you enjoy? I read on average a book every three days. That averages to about ten books per month, or depending on my schedule, eight to twelve books per month. I have set my reading goal to 150 books this year! I read absolutely everything and enjoy them all. I used to be skeptical about Sci-Fi books, but I have fallen in love with a few of those recently as well!

Where do you tend to review? (links etc.) I review on my blog, http://www.Theliteraryconnoisseur.com, every few days, and occasionally Amazon and Goodreads as well. (As per request from the author.) If it’s a mind-blowing book, I post EVERYWHERE about it!

Why do you review – for other readers, for author feedback, for yourself? For myself! I always wanted to discuss the books I read with my friends, and I wanted to get them to read all of the wonderful books I was reading. This was my solution, and it worked! I do it for myself, but I’ve heard that my blog has helped many readers find their perfect book.

Are you influenced by other reviews when choosing a book? What other factors influence your choice? Mostly friends, magazines, word of mouth, etc. If I hear wonderful things, I want to read it. If I hear terrible things, I want to read it also. Basically if I get wind of a book, I put it on my TBR (to be read) pile!

When reviewing what are the important criteria? Editing? Plot?  Which factors do you overlook? I overlook writing, unless it really bothers me and I cannot concentrate. I mainly pay attention to character progression, how much I like the female characters (I’m really critical when it comes to female characters), how easily the book grabbed me, and stereotypes. I like books that defy the norm.

What are your opinions on authors commenting on a review – negative and positive? I love hearing what the authors think of my reviews. And my favorite- which is terrible – I love it when my reviews affect an author so much, they cry. I’ve gotten a lot of, “Your review was so beautiful, I’m crying right now!”s. That makes me feel really good. Authors deserve wonderful reviews.

Do you feel it is appropriate to discuss author behaviour in a review, is this a factor which influences your choice? I typically don’t incorporate authors’ personalities, habits, personal views, etc. into book reviews. I like to stay on track and only cover the author’s story in my criticisms.

A lot of readers comment about a book with all 4 or 5 star reviews and nothing below as being suspicious? What do you think about this? Well, authors love good reviews. I completely understand if they’d rather stay away from three and below stars, so I don’t find it suspicious. I’m sure eventually they’ll come across that one, or those few people who dislike their book and give it less stars. I’ll probably end up reading the book anyway!

Do you give negative reviews? I do. I don’t like to, but sometimes they help people pick up the book! There are only a few books I have disliked, and I do write reviews for them, but I always find something positive with the book, and I NEVER badmouth. That can ruin an author’s reputation, and it can crush them like that. I respect all books and authors.

Do you read reviews by others and if so do they influence your choice? I surprisingly do not! I like to avoid others’ opinions before I read the book (which is ironic since…well, that’s my job!), but I do like to read reviews after I read the book and form my own opinion.

What medium do you prefer – e-books, audiobooks, or paper books? Would you care to expand on this? I LOVE paper books! I love the flexibility, I love the smells, the weight, the feel, and I love the way they look on my bookshelf. Although ebooks sure do come in handy sometimes. They have their purpose as well!

Do you mainly stick to your preferred genres, or would you consider reviewing outside your comfort zone? I have read books out of my comfort zone before, and I ended up adoring some of them! Never judge a book by its genre. You never know what you’ll find!

What are your opinions on paid reviews? (not including a copy of the book for review purposes only). I think it’s appreciated, but not necessary. I mainly get paid for one on one publicity work, and that tends to be easier and more beneficial to both the reviewer and the author. I have yet to be paid for a review!

Do you deal with reviewing Indie books differently to how you review a mainstream book? Well, the big difference is that there’s an enormous chance that the Indie author will in fact read your review. Mainstream authors will most likely not. When it comes to reviewing books, for me, it isn’t any different. But when it comes to the authors reading my reviews, yes! There’s a big difference!

Do you “judge a book by its cover?” Yes if it’s a nice cover, no if it’s a bad cover. The authors typically have no say over the cover, so if it’s a “not-so-appealing” cover, I look past it and read the synopsis. But if it’s an intriguing cover, I will most likely pick it up/buy it.

If you had to pick three favourite books to bring to a desert island what would they be? Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (my favorite of the series!) by J.K. Rowling, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. Weird variety, I know!

Where is your favourite place to read? Oh, I do not know! I can honestly read anywhere. I’d have to say…probably at home, with my mom, with a nice cup of coffee, and my cat curled up in my lap.

Feel free to add your blog/website etc.

You can follow my blog at Theliteraryconnoisseur.com, you can find me on Facebook as The Literary Connoisseur, and on Twitter at @LitConnoisseur, and you can email me for review requests at Fangirl1695@gmail.com. Thank you so much for interviewing me! I had a blast!