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If you’ve read one Walking Dead clone, you’ve read them all and this book is no exception

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by
Stephen Kozeniewski


I have only six words to say about the steaming, execrable hunk of titillating, sex-and-violence fueled piece of garbage so unfortunately mistitled THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO:


NO ONE SHOULD BUY THIS BOOK

That’s your takeaway. Good enough. Walk away now. Oh you want to hear more? How about I make a list of five reasons NOT to buy it.

1. Zombies are SO OVER. There’s nothing original left to be said on the subject. If you’ve read one Walking Dead clone, you’ve read them all. THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO doesn’t take readers anywhere new (except a semi-colonial, semi futuristic South Pacific anti-paradise.) It’s just the same old urban hellscape of ALL zombie novels. Yawn. Not to mention its characters are just the same old clichés, trotted out for one more retread:
– a sheriff searching for his family (or, in this case, a rakish smuggler captain)
– a one-eyed megalomaniac villain (or, in this case, a twenty-something billionaire inventor)
– a wisecracking pizza delivery boy (or, in this case, a silent red-headed engineer)
– a wise old farmer (or, in this case, a sexy stowaway)
 
And so forth.

2. Any decent, normal person would be shocked and horrified by the salacious, gratuitous pornography and bloodcurdling, grand guignol violence in this so-called “book.” It features (and I’m not making this up):
– Torture
– Sacrilege
– Human sacrifice
– Cannibalism (original recipe)
– Cannibalism (extra crispy)
– Corpse goo in the eyes
– Strongly implied sodomy
– A puppet made out of a dead teenager
– Masturbation
– Masturbation “paraphernalia”
– Zombie sex
– Zombie barb wire sex
– Zombie foodie porn sex
And, perhaps most damning of all:
– Mildly leftist subtexts

3. This book did NOT win the 2013 Amazon Breakout Novel Award. In fact, it made it no further than the Quarter-Finals. Right off the bat, this book was a LOSER. The fact that legendary horror publishing house Severed Press offered a contract within a week of seeing it does little to assuage its status as an ABNA LOSER.

4. It’s a lucky thing this book DID make it as far as it did in the ABNA contest, because otherwise it would not have received a Publisher’s Weekly review. That reviewer stated (and I quote,) “This abysmal tale of post-zombie apocalypse life in the South Pacific will try the patience of any reader…elements might have been combined into a decent story, but the prose isn’t up to the task. Readers must suffer through nonsensical phrases…Some passages are just straight-up gross…Many characters come to a sticky end, but most readers will have given up well before the conclusion.”

5. What’s the matter? You didn’t heed the warning from PW about how awful this book is? Okay, how about this actual one-star review from Goodreads? The reviewer states (and, again, I quote,) “…” Well, okay, so the only one-star review is blank. But a reader did think lowly enough of the book to join Goodreads (and then never log in again) for the SOLE PURPOSE of panning this novel with zero words, feeling, perhaps, that the rating was sufficiently self-justifying. That’s the sort of contempt this book inspires in healthy, God-fearing people.
So, there you have it folks. Five simple reasons not to click on the following link and hit “insta-buy:”

               Introducing the awful Ghoul Archipelago

After ravenous corpses topple society and
consume
most of the world’s population, freighter captain Henk Martigan is
shocked to receive a
distress call. 
Eighty survivors beg him to whisk them away
to the relative safety of the South Pacific. Martigan wants to help, but to
rescue anyone he must first pass through the nightmare backwater of the Curien
island chain.

Amazon.com | Amazon.UK

A power struggle is brewing in the Curiens. On one side,
the billionaire inventor of the mind-control collar seeks to squeeze all the
profit he can out of the apocalypse. Opposing him is the charismatic leader of
a ghoul-worshipping cargo cult. When a lunatic warlord berths an aircraft
carrier off the coast and stakes his own claim on the islands, the stage is set
for a bloody showdown. 

To save the remnants of humanity (and himself), Captain
Martigan must defeat all three of his ruthless new foes and brave the gruesome
horrors of…THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO. 

Stephen Kozeniewski lives with his wife
and two cats in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. He was born
to the soothing strains of “Boogie With Stu” even though The Who are
far superior to Zep, for reasons that he doesn’t even really want to get into
right now. 

During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served
for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a
clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. The depiction of addiction in
his fiction is strongly informed by the three years he spent working at a
substance abuse clinic, an experience which also ensures that he employs strict
moderation when enjoying the occasional highball of Old Crow. 

He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds
much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s degree is in German.
                  Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Blog

How to Get Ideas for Books

by

Lisa Binion




Before I began to write, the complex plots in the books I read would amaze me.  I just could not figure out how the authors of these books came up with such fantastic ideas.  Since beginning to write, I have discovered ways to come up with some terrific ideas.


VBT

Take a look at your own life.  Life has a tendency to throw you into all kinds of situations, and each situation can be made into a story.  Softly and Tenderly came from the death of my mother when I was nine-years-old.  It was a traumatic time of life for me, and it took me a very long time to recover from her death.  I could have turned it into a mystery or a story that made people cry.  I could have written events just as they happened, but I really would not have been satisfied doing that.  I chose to make it creepy.


A few years ago, something happened to me that I’ll never forget.  It is something that I don’t want to live through again.  While I was out jogging, a spider must have fallen on my shoulder or in my hair.  That’s bad enough in itself, but when I discovered this spider on me, it was in my ear.  I didn’t realize at the time it was a spider.  All I felt were its legs as it crawled deep inside my ear.  Many excruciating hours later, I finally managed to coax it out by about drowning it with hydrogen peroxide.  It was one clean spider when it hit the floor.  I couldn’t let that horrifying event be for nothing.  I’m writing a book, Whisper, very lightly based on what happened.  Again, it will be a tale of horror.


If you can’t decide on an event in your life to write about, take a look at things that have happened in the lives of people you know.  Read newspapers and magazines to see what interesting things have happened in the lives of people you don’t know.  Check out current events and what is happening in the world today.


When you go shopping or go to town to pay bills, notice what is going on around you and listen in on other people’s conversations.  Just try not to be too obvious about what you are doing.  Is there someone you see doing something unusual?  Maybe someone is dressed in an unusual way.  Did you see someone walk away from their cart only to have someone else come along and pick up an item out of their cart?  Was that arranged beforehand?  Maybe it was a trade of some kind.


Perhaps your neighbor has a strange habit.  Does she walk outside every morning at exactly the same time and look down the road?  Is she watching for someone?  Why?  And who is she watching for?  I’m sure you can come up with all kinds of interesting scenarios to explain that.


Listen to your muse.  Pick up a sheet of paper and write down a word that interests you, a word that has a lot of meaning for you.  Now start jotting down other words that your main word brings to mind.  Before long, a story should start to form in your mind.  Keep at it long enough, and you should have enough to start writing.


One other way you can come up with ideas is to look at story prompts.  There are hundreds of these floating around on the Internet.  A lot articles on my BellaOnline Fiction Writing site have story prompts included in them.


Story prompts happen all around us each and every day.  All you have to do is notice them and build a story around them.







Softly and Tenderly
Death’s doors will part and evil shall be seen through the eyes of a child.

Amazon.UK
Amazon.com
“Mom died in her sleep last night.” Those are terrifying words for a child to wake up to. The beetle that falls off the stretcher and stares at her is only the beginning one of the strangest and most frightening times in Lori’s life. Death is not a pretty thing, especially not when the funeral is to be at the Lights Out Chapel and Crematorium.

Once she walks into the funeral parlor, she experiences things that no little girl should ever have to experience. No one is acting normal. No one can see what is going on. Is Lori the only one who sees the blood oozing from the pictures of Jesus on the cross? Doesn’t anyone else see the beetles? Is Lori hallucinating when she sees her mom sit up and hears her speak? There is absolutely nothing soft and tender about what happens to Lori.

From her overly morbid piano teacher to the creepy preacher and a father that just isn’t acting like himself, Lori is surrounded by people and things that hint of something bizarre. Once she leaves the Lights Out Chapel and Crematorium, things will go back to normal. Or will they?

Enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a copy of Softly and Tenderly by Lisa Binion. Competition open Internationally

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Something to whet your appetite: a short excerpt from Softly and Tenderly.

“Lori, it’s your turn to say bye now. You need to tell her that you love her and how much you will miss her.” Daddy put me down next to her coffin and placed his hands on my shoulders. He pushed me so close to her death box that I felt the white satin that overlapped to the outside. It rubbed against my hands. At least it was soft for Mommy. She would be comfortable in there.




I decided to speak out loud this time. Maybe no one else would bring me back up here again if I spoke my goodbyes out loud. “Mommy,” I began, but then I started crying so hard I couldn’t speak. Daddy rubbed my shoulders until I quieted down and could begin again. “Mommy, I love you. I don’t want you to leave me. Please come back. No one, not even this Jesus, is worth leaving me over.” I opened my eyes and looked at her. She hadn’t moved since Mrs. Minuet had dragged me up here. But then her eyes opened, and she stared at me. She was staring at me! I sucked my breath in and felt my legs grow weak as my head began to spin. With one hand I grabbed on to the edge of the coffin, while with the other hand I grabbed hold of Daddy’s arm.


“Daddy! Daddy! Mommy’s not dead! She looked at me!” I screamed as I jumped up and down. “She was still alive when they took her out of the house. I saw her trying to get out from under the sheet.” I pulled on his arm and shook it. “Please, Daddy. You’ve got to save her.”


Daddy was beginning to sound a bit mad. He picked me up and held me over top of Mommy. “Maybe if you give her a goodbye kiss you’ll understand she’s dead, and believe me when I tell you she isn’t coming back.” I was so close to Mommy’s cheek that I could see the makeup was beginning to cake in her pores. There was no warmth rising up from her body, only icy coldness.

Author Lisa Binion

Lisa Binion is a writer, editor, and wife. She makes her home in the beautiful state of Kentucky. Her two children are now grown, but she has been blessed with two beautiful grandchildren, Tyler and Zoey. Her family also includes four dogs, four cats, and two goats.


As the Fiction Writing Editor for BellaOnline, she writes articles, reviews fiction books, and interviews fiction authors. She is also an editor for Silver Tongue Press and Edit 1st. In her spare time, she attempts to clean house and relax.

For vampire lovers I bring you… ALERON

“I was born in the year 1791 in Alexandria, Egypt. The story of my becoming is NOW.”
Aleron must cope with a timeless existence, seeing those he loves suffer the fate of mortality, while he remains cursed with eternal life. What if your immortal origin as well as others of your kind were hidden from you by the one you loved most; the one who gave you into a life of darkness and a lust for the sweetest nectar? These dilemmas and more face Aleron, but he must first learn to live, to survive, and most of all, to feed.

Seduced by the alluring vampire Mynea, Aleron learns what it truly means to be immortal as he adapts to his new life and new insatiable lust. She is teaching him to give her what her maker never has. She desires a new king and a new coven. Hearts, minds, and vampire souls intertwine as long kept secrets crawl out from the grave, refusing to remain buried beneath earth and lies. A blood kiss between them reveals a darker and even deadlier soul that has learned of Aleron’s blasphemous existence. Vlad is the beginning, the father of them all. Mynea must not let her young prince learn of her ancient king. Can a vampire truly love and trust another of his kind when their very lives depend on skillful deceit? 

Walking a thin line between life and death, Aleron is certain of one thing, if love is, then blood is.


http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0983259569&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrThe author Kane A. has followed the genre of fantastical creatures for as long as he could remember. Though a typical child and diligent student, his imagination never ceased to paint a surrealistic vision that could force many to question their own reality. Early on, Kane expressed his creativity by means of drawing, writing short stories ranging from science fiction to horror, as well as through poetry expressing love, hurt, and betrayal.

His fascination with the undead grew when he studied the history of the witch, werewolf, warlock, and sinking his teeth finally into the world of the vampire. Kane began his first of five novels detailing the lives and challenges of being immortal.
He now resides in Atlanta, GA where he spends the majority of his time writing.

David Fingerman writes SPYDER:
a street-wise antihero of inner city society.
Experience his strange wisdom, and his twisted sense of humor.
Thirty-year-old Spyder doesn’t waste time thinking how much lower he can sink. When he finds his girlfriend dead as the result of drugs he supplied, Spyder contemplates his life and decides it’s time to do what he’s avoided most of his days—join mainstream society. All he needs to do is kick the drug habit, find a job, a place to live, and earn some money. Easy. He’s done it hundreds of times, but never all at once. As always, Fate steps in and knees him in the groin. All the dregs he’s ever known want their say. George won’t stop his pestering, Sal needs a huge favor, Coon is hunting for a certain arachnid, and Spyder’s dealer doesn’t want to lose one of his best customers. As things spiral out of control, Spyder tangles himself in a web so tight that even he might never be able to escape.

Meet the author David Fingerman at:

Buy SPYDER at the following outlets:


SPYDER is published by L and L Dreamspell, a small independent and POD publisher. Fingerman appeared on my blog introducing his collection of chilling shorts called Edging Past Reality, and a novel that was on the verge of being released called Silent Kill.


David Fingerman very kindly wrote a guest post about self-publishing. Something I’ve been blogging about recently. Check out the post: Here.


Let’s speak to David Fingerman!
Hi Louise ~ thank you so much for letting me appear on your blog.


http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1935097075&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrYou’re very welcome. Tell us how are Edging Past Reality and Silent Kill doing?
Edging Past Reality is still doing pretty good, especially in downloads. Downloads are way outselling hard copy which tells me that’s where the future is. With Silent Kill I’m really not sure – I’ll know more when I get my next quarterly statement from the publisher. Going strictly by Amazon rankings, I’m a little disappointed that it’s not doing better. I’ll keep marketing that at the same time as Sypyder.
 
So, who or what inspired you to write Spyder?

Oh, this is embarrassing. There used to be this persnickety old woman who attended the same writers’ group I did. She drove me nuts. When it came http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1603182306&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrtime to critique she would interrupt and go on and on about how it wasn’t anything compared to her life. No matter what the person wrote, she could somehow twist it into how her life was so much better, worse, etc. It got to the point where we’d run out of time before everyone got a chance to read even though the moderator would explain we were here to critique the writing. It didn’t matter ~ to her it was a social gathering.


My goal was to write something so insulting that she’d be speechless and Spyder was born. It was a short story (now chapter one in the book) and it worked. For the first time since I’d started going to the group, she had nothing to say. I thought that was the end of Spyder, but no. One day I was researching guidelines and found a small press in England that was looking for raunchy inner-city stories. I sent it in and the editor loved it. He asked that if I had any more Spyder stories, I should send them. With that encouragement I wrote another and sent it in. I got a letter back saying that he liked that one even better than the first, but unfortunately the magazine was going under. By that point I was having way too much fun writing Spyder stories.

What is it about?
Spyder is a streetwise punk with a very warped sense of humor. As he gets older and the streets become more dangerous, he comes to the conclusion it’s time to clean up his act and try mainstream society. But because of his self-destructive behavior . . . well, I don’t want to give too much away. It’s marketed as mainstream but I like to think of it as an urban adventure.


Was there a character you struggled with in Spyder?
This was the only novel where I can honestly say that I had no trouble with the characters. I had a blast writing each and every one.


How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
Yikes. I don’t dare look under the bed to see what’s lurking (I’m guessing killer dust bunnies). However, I do have a couple of unfinished novels hiding in the deep recesses of my computer. I started them years ago and one day I might pull them out again. If I still like the story line I’ll rewrite and complete them.


You’re still with L and L Dreamspell how did you find them, and are you still happy with them? Would you still recommend them?
Whenever I see a new book that looks interesting, and also looks like the type of thing I write, I always see who the publisher is. I can’t recall what the book was that I checked, but the publisher was L & L Dreamspell. I checked out their website and decided to give them a try. Wonderful for me, they liked my work. They’re a small, independent, POD publisher and I couldn’t be happier. They treat their authors almost like family. I highly recommend them ~ but read their guidelines before submitting!


In your original interview with me you said that you had a plan to self-publishing primarily to get your name out to the masses, and then I would try the traditional route . Have you not tried with Spyder?

I did self-publish Edging Past reality in hopes of getting a wider name recognition. Whether it had anything to do with my signing on to L&L Dreamspell I highly doubt. L&L Dreamspell is a small independent POD publisher, and I definitely found a wonderful home with them. L&L published bother Silent Kill and Spyder, but I’m pretty sure they hadn’t heart of me prior to sending my writing to them. Still, I think it was a smart business plan and I learned a lot about the publishing world by going the self-publishing route first.


What’s the best/worst part of being a writer?
The best part is I’m doing what I love to do. I’m in the enviable position where I can write full time. The worst part is marketing. Although it’s getting a little easier, I’m still way out of my comfort zone. Being an introvert, I much prefer sitting alone in my office and typing away.


What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
I try to treat my writing like a job and write during the day (otherwise my wife will make me go out and find a ‘real’ job). I normally start at around 9 a.m. and go until about 4 (taking an occasional break). On those rare occasions when all the stars are in alignment and the creativity is flowing, I’ll keep going well into the night. I’ve also been known to wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning and feel creative. (Like I’ve mentioned earlier ~ I love what I do.)


Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer
The only time I use pen and paper is when I don’t have access to my computer.


What/who do you draw inspiration from?
Anything and everything. I just put a “What if . . .” in front of the thought and set my imagination free.


Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
I’ve found that it’s self-defeating setting goals for myself. I know that it works for a lot of writers but not me. I do try to spend at least 6 hours per day writing, but that includes research and editing (and when my new books come out ~ marketing). As long as I’m productive, I’m happy.


What are you working on now that you can talk about?
At present I’m working on a horror novel. I shall say no more. : )


How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
I actually led a seminar at a writers’ conference on dealing with rejection letters. Doing research I found a number rejects some great writers had received ~ I’m in good company. I also learned of how many rejects some classic novels received. I always wonder what happened to the people who rejected J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (over a dozen rejections) or Stephen King’s “Carrie.” (30 rejections)


For the most part rejects don’t bother me unless it’s one where I really thought I had a perfect fit – those sting a little bit. Fortunately for me, I’ve had enough acceptances that I’m secure (some call it egotistical) enough to feel that it’s them and not my talent.


Do you have a critique partner?
I belong to two writers’ groups – each one has an average attendance of about 12-15 people. People will read pieces of their work and get critiqued. So, I don’t have a specific critique partner, but I do have a couple dozen.


And to whet readers’ appetite for Spyder, here is a snippet:


When Sal opened his eyes he looked shocked, as if the coffee appeared by magic. I poured us each a cup and waited for him to start.

“I wanted to visit my ma, let her know I was okay. She had this big bruise on her face, and her arms were all black and blue. I could tell that she was happy to see me, but she kinda whispered that maybe it would be best for me to leave. Then the ass-hole came to the door. He was drunk as hell and the first thing he does is start dissing me. I politely told him not to call me those names.”
I could imagine how he made those “polite” comments.

“It was self defense. He took a swing at me and I guess I went kinda crazy.”

“But you didn’t kill him.”

“No. He didn’t die ‘til later.”

I choked on my mouthful of coffee. “So how did he die?”

“After I showed him who was boss, he ran out of the house. I chased after him and told him never to hit my ma again. I caught up to him and he just collapsed. I didn’t touch him.”

I didn’t think now might not be the time to tell him that the courts would most definitely disagree on his theory of murder and self defense.

“So what do you want from me?” I asked.

He stammered a bit. “Well, a lot of the neighbors came out to see what all the noise was. I was wondering if you could, ya know, kinda set ‘em straight on what really went down. Tell ‘em it was self defense.”

“You want me to go door-to-door, and tell all your neighbors that they really didn’t see what they thought they saw?”

“And I was wondering,” he continued. “Well, I know you’ve got a roof now. I was wondering if you’d let me crash there for a while ‘til the cops quit looking for me.”

It was like he reverted to a giant mound of stupid. I silently pulled out my knife and hugged it next to my leg. I knew he wasn’t going to like my next words and wanted to be ready.





Sow And You Shall Reap – debut novel by B.P Smythe

Sow And You Shall Reap
by
B. P. Smythe

How cruelty, sexual abuse and greed created this monster of a former care home Matron and the haunted hotel that hid her evil secret.
Just released from prison after their care home atrocities; former Matron, Elizabeth Waverly, and her accomplice, Norman Christie, team up and see an opportunity to inherit two million pounds. But first they have to kill the main beneficiary, Elizabeth Carragher, with Elizabeth Waverly taking on her identity.
At the reading of the will they see their plans back fire when a second will is found and a long lost brother, Victor Carragher, turns up and claims it all.
What follows is a series of terrifying events including flashbacks of the main characters, the breakdown of their early family lives and how cruelty, abuse and greed, installed with a liberally wielded trouser belt, can manifest itself later like a cancer on their morals.

All author royalties and profits will be donated to cancer research uk.
oxfordoffice@cancer.org.uk
Barry Smyth will be book signing in September. I’ll let you know the date and venue soon!


What is your book all about? Can you tell us a little more about its genre?
The story unfolds with the two main characters being released from prison after their care home atrocities i.e. former Matron, Elizabeth Waverly, and her accomplice, Norman Christie. They team up and see an opportunity to inherit two million pounds. But first they have to kill the main beneficiary, Elizabeth Carragher, with Elizabeth Waverly taking on her identity.

At the reading of the will they see their plans backfire when a second will is found and a long lost brother, Victor Carragher, turns up and claims it all. Salvaging what they can, they plan to kidnap the brother’s young precocious daughter, Helen, for half the inheritance.

Before the kidnap can be arranged Victor Carragher moves to Majorca with his daughter and buys a hotel. The killing couple follow him with Elizabeth Waverly still in disguise, and help Victor run the hotel. But unbeknown to them the hotel is haunted.

My plot for Sow And You Shall Reap was inspired by the true chilling revelations of the Parkfields nursing home exposé in Somerset during the year 2007; and from my tennis holidays at the hotel Font de Sa Cala in Majorca. The hotel kept guard dogs, way out of sight in kennels somewhere, but while we were playing you could hear them at feeding times. Honestly, everybody stopped playing and froze. It sounded like they’d caught something and were ripping it apart. So with that, coupled with an old rumour: locals used to say the former hotel owner was killed by his guard dogs, gave me the idea of a short story. You know how it is; from a short story carried on writing till it got to a word count of 96,000.

Can you sum the book up in one sentence?
To sum up the book in one sentence is a tough one, but I suppose it shows how cruelty, abuse and greed, installed into the early vulnerable life of the main protagonist, Elizabeth Waverly, with the help of a liberally wielded trouser belt, can manifest itself later like a cancer on her morals.

Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family or by real-life experiences?
The evil character Matron Elizabeth Waverly is based upon my mother-in-law…No! I’m only joking. I’m not saying my mother-in-law is hard to get along with…yes, come to think of it, I am saying my mother-in-law is hard to get along with. No seriously, some scenes in my novel were inspired by real life experiences, the dogs for instance. Another one in particular is the scene when a character gets planted by a mechanical palm tree planter. This actually happened to an MD of an engineering subcontractor my company used a few years ago. He hired a mechanical tree planter for his large back garden and somehow got caught up. They found him buried up to his armpits, very dead. The accident was in all the local newspapers.

What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?
My favourite scene would be the nasty old lady going up the stairs in a stair lift with her yappy cocker spaniel on her lap and seeing Rupert, the rubber snake, threaded through the balustrades. Here’s a snippet:

Her dog was looking up the stairs and began to growl. ‘Stop it Winnie.’ She got a soft slap on her rear. ‘Behave yourself.’ The cocker spaniel meant business. It began to bear its teeth in a viscous growling snarl at something Mrs Crackston couldn’t see.

As the stair lift slowly climbed she stiffly turned her head upwards. Winnie had started barking aggressively; jumping in her lap with the full force of each bark. She had never seen the dog in such a state. Winnie had her lips pulled back into a nasty curdling sneer.

‘Shut up Winnie!’ She slapped the dog hard this time. It yelped at the blow and jumped off, rolling down two stairs then steadying herself. She looked up and continued barking in a frenzied state.

‘Winnie you naughty dog, I’m going to give you such a…’

Rupert had slid down the balustrades and was peering over the top of the Landing.

Mrs Crackston let out a scream when she saw the Black Mamba. She cowered, half out her seat. ‘Keep it away…Oh God! Help me Winnie…Kill it…’

The dog quickly moved up the remaining stairs snapping and barking. Mrs Crackston was standing on the moving chair, leaning away from it screaming, as the long olive grey body and the black gaping mouth came nearer.

‘Kill it Winnie…kill it for mummy…ARGHH!’

Mrs Crackston lost her balance; she lunged at the thick newel post to save herself but missed her grip. She rolled over and over screaming down the stairs. Her face smashed into the wall at the turn, leaving a bloody smear; then she somersaulted down the remaining flight. The brittle snap of her neck as she hit the bottom echoed through the quiet hall. Her walking stick followed, clunking and bonking down the treads until it came to rest across one arm.

Winnie had grabbed Rupert. She had the snake in her mouth as she ran back down the stairs and dropped it by Mrs Crackston’s body, yapping at her face. Then, Winnie quietened. She began to whine, wagging her tale. Not understanding the staring eyes, the twisted head at right angles. She licked the blood from the ear and nose, affectionately, hoping to waken her owner.

Winnie snarled and grabbed Rupert; the rubber snake bouncing up and down in her mouth as she took it to her basket. She nuzzled the old blanket and left it under there with her favourite ball and chewed slipper.

Do you have an agent, or have you gone alone?
I don’t have an agent although I’ve tried to source one many times. I think the majority of agents these days, unless they can immediately place your work and earn a quick buck, will play safe and keep with their client list. I sent my manuscript to fifteen agents listed in the Writers’ Artists’ yearbook that handled my genre; and got back seven rejections. Never heard from the remainder.

I went to the London Book Fair this year and the HarperCollins seminar. At both venues I met many first time published writers who would never use an agent or publisher again.

They said they would definitely go the self-publishing route – more control over their work. Although there is a slight stigma/snobbery attached to self-publishing, this attitude, fortunately, is disappearing with many reputable self-publishing companies filling the gap for much needed aspiring talent out there.

Also many agents and publishers, although they’d strongly deny, would prefer to use writers with creative writing qualifications; Master’s degree etc. This solves a huge cost outlay in copy editing. A lot of publishers have reduced their work force in copy editing departments and rely on agents sourcing qualified writers; to cut out the typos with grammar and punctuation. This also includes dialogue, view point, narrative, exposition, prose, scene structure etc. If agents and publishers can be assured a manuscript is pretty well clean at submission stage; they just have to rely on story changes, if any; then more money can go on marketing and advertising.

To support this, if you tot up the last twelve or so winners of the most popular book awards i.e. Mann Booker, Richard and Judy. Orange Prize, Nokia, Times and Observer Literary prize etc; you’ll see many winners with creative writing qualifications. Nothing wrong with this; in fact creative writing has had a strong resurgence in recent years with Internet, University and college courses packed to the rafters; with the popularity of self-publishing as a knock on.

All this influenced my route into self-publishing. I’m using AuthorHouse self-publishing. The total cost with discounts £1,757. At the moment I’ve found them very helpful and co-operative through the setting up stages. My book, Sow And You Shall Reap, will be going into production on the 9th December this year.

What marketing have you been doing to help sales?
As well as paying AuthorHouse for a social media setup package i.e. for my finished book to be place in the AuthorHouse book store and on Google/Amazon Book Search Programmes including a WordPress Blog, a Facebook profile and page for my book, a MySpace profile, a Twitter account. The book will also appear on UK websites like Waterstones, Amazon, and Priceminister. Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million (United States) Chapters (Canada) Tower.com, Powells Books, and Amazon (International).

Readers will be able to order copies of my book at their local bookstore. Bookstores will have the option of carrying a running stock of my book.

This is what AuthorHouse have promised and what I’ve paid for. So we’ll have to wait and see.

I’m on http://www.facebook.com, who isn’t? under Barry Smythe. My sons persuaded me, and I’ve created an info/profile for my novel and shared it out.

I’ve done some footslogging of my own. Been to fifteen bookstores including Waterstones and handed out a synopsis and flyer for my book and got some good positive feedback from the store managers. A few stores wanted me to deal directly with their warehouse, but most, if they were happy with the synopsis said they would put it in their window set aside for local authors. I’ve also uploaded my finished manuscript on the HarperCollins Authonomy website at http://www.authonomy.com.

How long does it take you to write a book? Have your written other books?

Sow And You Shall Reap took about three years. I had to do a lot of research in-between the Internet, creative writing classes, reading and post assessment alterations. The rough outline with the start, middle and end took about three months.

At creative writing classes they told us to use index cards at the planning stages; and I found this invaluable. I would recommend this to anybody starting out, especially with a lengthy novel.

The Literary Consultancy based in London also assessed my manuscript at a cost of £530. I can recommend these assessments as they firmly bring you back down to earth. And using their assessment report I spent another four months tweaking the manuscript again.

I’ve also written some short stories and entered various Internet competitions, never winning mind you, including the Bridport Literary Festival and the Literary Consultancy competitions.

Mind you, I did win a book token as a runner-up for my short story, The Letter, in the London Borough of Sutton Library competition.

Which comes first for you – characters or plot?
When I start I spend time on the plot; from start to finish, continually roughing out then enlarging, bit by bit until I’ve got the basis of a synopsis, from beginning, middle and end. Then on to the characters. The characters grow with the plot, increasing many plot avenues as the story unfolds.

How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?
 I never wanted to become a fiction writer although I’ve always been a constant reader of crime novels. I just sort of slipped into creative writing. I studied engineering at college and eventually became a member of the institute of quality assurance.

As well as playing tennis I write tennis articles for my local Surrey county magazine. I suppose this, coupled with a technical writing career, partly influenced my transition into creative writing.

Are you working on another book?
I am currently working on my second novel, working title, ANOTHER MOTH IN THE KILLING BOTTLE , using the same nasty protagonist, former care home Matron Elizabeth Waverly. I just couldn’t simply kill her off in the first book. She was far too valuable and we’ve been down a long road together. None of us would want to see Hannibal Lecter dead; be honest?

In this book she’s a prostitute in her late teens set in the year 1969. She’s been skimming off some of the client money and her pimp catches her out. A fight ensues and the client accidently gets killed. A school girl recognises Elizabeth. She witnesses the killing and puts it in her diary. A chase follows and the schoolgirl is killed; but the diary containing Elizabeth’s name goes missing.

What mistakes do you see new writers make?
I think most new writers like to style themselves on a favourite writer until they develop a style of their own. Also new writers tend to over concentrate on plot rather than characterization. The plot is their be-all and end-all. I personally think the hardest part for a new writer to grasp is choosing the right point of view and narrative. For me, understanding narrative and how to work it correctly in conjunction with the current point of view, is very important. Readers can go off the boil with a book if they feel cheated; the narrative has spoilt a surprise, or some things are kept from them, or they feel left out or alienated. If they can’t empathise with the main protagonist; all of which poor narrative can cause.

A common fault for new writers is they tend to lose ‘what’s at stake’ as they drift through the book. All those enticing subplot avenues lead them away from the real reason for writing the story.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Write for enjoyment; not so much to get an agent or be published, and most certainly not for money. Anyone can write and be self-published with your book networked to all the main book search sites. But, to write and get an agent? Then the agent has to find you a publisher? Then you hope to make lots of money out of it? Plus all that hanging around; waiting for that phone call, being given all those promises. One could end up being very disappointed. Know your limitations.

Always remember, few people have a natural talent for something. I love playing tennis but I’m never going to get to Wimbledon.

Years ago when I was fourteen years old, unbeknown to me, my same age school mate sketched my portrait while we were all watching the Simon Dee show with his mum, dad and the dog. He showed me afterwards. It could have been done by a young Jan Vermeer. He’d caught it all; the facial anatomy with the fine lines, the curly hair, the correct balance between shadow and the light, even my Jewish nose. He’d never had an art lesson in his life apart from school with me. There wasn’t a picture of his work on the wall or in his bedroom where we used to smoke and drink his dad’s fags and scotch. And he wasn’t even interested in art. He wanted to be a boring engineer like me. What a waste. But he was naturally talented.

I think the same goes for writers; some are gifted, others have to learn the nuts and bolts of it and may still, after a number of years, never quite get there. But as long as you get a kick out of it; get that buzz when you fall through the hole, as Stephen King says; there’s nothing better.

Louise it’s been a pleasure talking to you and I’m grateful for allowing me some space on your excellent site.



Sow And You Shall Reap