Monday, April 30, 2012
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It's Hank Reed's birthday. As a citizen of the United Federation of Nations that means a mandatory death sentence simply because he turned sixty years old. Referred to as "retirement," it's one of the desperate steps the government has taken to curb overpopulation. Retirement is a widely accepted fact of life on a dying planet ruled by a tyrannical government. Hank's execution goes ahead as planned but state sponsored euthanasia isn't what it seems. The Reed family learns what really happens to retirees when secrets the UFN keep from the public start to unravel.
This book is intended to be read by adults and may be unsuitable for children under 17. Contains indecent language and descriptions of graphic violence.
This short novelette really captured my attention and my imagination. Its premise is frighteningly realistic given the current alarming world population growth. Combine that with the large (and still to be larger) glut of elderly in our society as a consequence of the ever-aging baby boomer generation and Mr. Brumm’s curiously gruesome imagination, and what evolves is an, at times, intensely graphic horror story decidedly not for squeamish readers. I do not want to give any of the story away, but suffice it to say I will never look at retirement in quite the same way again.
Think about all the food additives that are already an accepted part of the foods we eat (pink slime immediately comes to mind). Think about how our planet is being systematically plundered of its precious resources in order to satisfy the demands of a population deluded into believing that its every demand can be met without repercussions. Then think about the fact that more than 25,000 people die daily from starvation. Then think about a government conspiracy of massive proportion determined to keep certain secrets at all costs. When I think of all these things and more, I can not help but wonder if Windigo Soul may be something of a predictor of something chillingly similar in our not-too-distant future.
View all my reviews
Also, See my recent Interview with Robert Brumm.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Chiyo Alglaeca was happy in her life. That is, until it was all taken away. Forced into notoriety, stalked by a mysterious cult, hunted by the emperor, and facing betrayal at every turn she clings to the only safety she can find: two enigmatic men and the sharp bringer of death, Salvation. The Weeping Empress explores the devastating effects of loss, the hunt for redemption, and the price of destiny. It questions the true meaning of evil and asks what monster is not also an innocent.
Character interview with Andela, protagonist of The Weeping Empress
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A Sacerdotisa--I wanted to support others with the same kindness they showed my family and me.
What was the scariest moment of your life?
Facing Senka for the first time--he's a pitiful child, but cloaked in his darkness lies the light of the Goddess and it is painful to look at.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
As advised by Confucius, I contemplate the chrysanthemum. The unfurling petals are said to be the reflection of perfection, and it has so many conflicting meanings. It can symbolize death, grief and lamentation, while in other places it is seen as a cheerful flower representing honesty and positivity. The story told here in The Weeping Empress encompasses all of these elements. I think about these things.
If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?
If I could apologize to Chiyo for the part I played in her sad circumstances I would, but I don't think that she would accept it or my heartfelt thanks for her sacrifice.
What makes you happy?
No matter what regrets I might have, knowing that what I've done with the last years of my life made a difference, and that my children will live a better life because of it makes me happy.
Do you have a favorite quote, quip, or saying? What is it?
'Your flesh is of the Goddess, care for it accordingly.' I like that it reminds us to look after ourselves and each-other.
Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?
My mother told me that there is no point in worrying about those things that you have no control over. Instead I concentrate on changing that which is within my reach. I advise others to do the same.
Thank you so much for stopping by today and letting us find out a bit more about you. It's been a pleasure.
Sadie Forsythe hails from the Southeastern United States, lives in
Northwestern England, and is a fan of all things Japanese. She holds degrees in Anthropology/Comparative Religion, International Criminology, and Social Change. She loves local coffee shops, geek culture, everything bookish, and tea (steaming with milk and sweet iced). She is married with two daughters and an imaginary dog.
Additionally she is a graduate student at the
. She's currently in the latter stages of her 2nd Masters and applying for PhD funding to begin said research at the end of this year. Sadie asks that we Cross our fingers for her. University of Manchester
Additionally she is a graduate student at the
Saturday, April 28, 2012
A dark coming of age story. Seth McGrath goes through hell to raise ten grand to find a girl. What would you do to find your true love?
This young man is the son of an icy neurosurgeon and a pill popping debutante who send him away to be raised by his Grandmother. Seth will sell drugs, arrange bum fights for hire, and steal from anyone. What does it take for a psycho to become a CEO? Find out in this chilling tale, written in contemporary literary beats. A MMA style of writing that will keep you up reading.
I have a Bachelor’s Degrees in Literature and Art from
Scripps College and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from . I have been writing, taking photographs, and living a creative life since I was a little girl. Claremont Graduate University
After college, I muddled along making a meager living as a performance poet and painter. I married my college sweetheart (after eighteen rocky years we divorced).
With children to feed all by myself, reality became such that I must work hard to sustain myself and family.
In 2008, I joined a writing group in
. I ghostwrote a couple thriller novels for someone. In the end of 2009, I came out of the closet (after blogging on Blogit in secret for ten years prior) and decided to self-publish a series of seven short stories. This first project became tied up in litigation. I have now edited and put all seven stories together (to be released sometime after August 29 2012). That group of short stories (Cardinal Sins) seems long in my past. Los Angeles
My writing process
I am a planner. I believe all people should write out their one, five and ten year plans. Without a point to work towards, and a method to break down the steps on the path, we are lost. My planning includes my creative work, family, financial, spiritual, and health aspects of my life.
My daily schedule:
I wake up at 5:15 every day. I don’t need an alarm clock that rings. The coffee machine downstairs delivers an aroma and I jump up.
For two hours, I work on the long form novel. This time is important because it is when I am fresh and ideas from the past day are ready to flow. I work on the kitchen table wearing a Darth Maul baseball hat. This goofy hat indicates to my children that Mom is working. My house is quiet until my son
wakes and grabs something healthy to eat. If it is a school day, I made his lunch the night before and he now has his permit (soon he will drive himself to school yippee). Carson
From eight to nine AM I check emails, Twitter, Goodreads, my blogsite, now new on Pinterest, write a few responses to emails or publishing events, book appointments etc. I use an egg timer to limit my time on twitter and other sites that get me off tangent reading. I do not use any auto tweeting or auto-bot marketing services. I dislike the feel of receiving the junk mail tweets and junk emails – therefore I have decided not to use any of those type of tools. This has worked very well in finding readers.
I take five and ten minute breaks to stretch and complete the daily chores on the weekends, but on weekdays I work my “Day job” in mortgage and will switch hats to complete that set of duties. I carry with me a separate cell phone connected to my writing platform and will check that when I am waiting in line, waiting on hold, or doing anything that allows multi-tasking. I don’t have a formal lunch, I will spend the hour writing a blog post or editing.
Evenings Monday – Thursday I write from 5:30- 9:30.
Weekends usually are nine hours broken into pieces.
This gives me about 40 hours writing, five hours marketing and planning, and 40 hours job.
On the weekend, I shop at the farmer’s market, plan dinners and have five twenty minute meals half prepared. Eating healthy is vital to support your creativity and ability to sustain a pace. I wrote a post about diet for creative people here if you are interested: http://carolinegerardo.blogspot.com/2012/01/brain-food-for-writers.html
What we put in our bodies and our minds does come out in the work.
I always carry notebooks. Handwriting patterns of speech, an idea to express emotion through how someone uses their hands, a moment of synchronicity that becomes a poem and more are drawn, scribbled and rarely written in pretty handwriting. I have been seen writing poetry in the bleachers of one of my children’s Lacrosse games on a regular basis. Allow information to fill your soul. Be a sponge for great information. Read all the time. Be unafraid to tackle hard subjects, those that make you ache inside might connect the most with those in our time.
Time is the most important thing we own. I do not squander minutes it on junk television or agreeing to do things that keep me from goals. Learn to say no thank you upfront and save yourself from working on deadlines for others. I used to do a great deal of fundraising for causes, but I do not have the luxury of time to give in that direction today.
Physical exercise is important for creative people. I hike, run, hot yoga, and play sports with my children. Last Saturday I hiked eight miles in
Red Rock Canyon and Sunday ten on the Kern River. In my backpack I had a gallon of water, notebook, camera, and “protection.” My oldest says I should not go alone, but arranging someone who wants to leave at the minute I am ready, well is difficult. This weekend, I went with the Laguna Nursery to Lotus Land in . Santa Barbara
I will post photographs of the amazing mini-climates, rare plants and my experience on my blog and Pinterest. Getting out of your own surrounds adds new ways to see, opens the creative person to thinking and combining better art.
My writing process for novels:
· First draft 150000 words
· Write seven days a week
· White board with graph of story
· Photograph images of story, character, drawings of characters
· Outline two pages of the narrative
· Read it aloud
· Then edit two times after you beg friends to read and comment
· Let it rest.
· Edit one last time (lost my two best beta readers last year –Tony, and then my Mom can’t after her stroke)
· Send to professional editor.
· Decide on cover art from the photographs and images after the book is completed. All covers are created from my own artwork/ photographs.
· My original outline may not be at all like the end product novel. The characters direct the story and take over. My work is often character driven.
· It takes me about a year to finish a book.
My recent novel:
The Lucky Boy is a dark bildungsroman. Seth McGrath’s a boy who experiences trauma at home. I will not reveal you if he has ADHD or is disturbed or has a guardian angel who helps him.
The story is set in 1965- 1972 when these types of modern labels went undiagnosed. In The late sixties, it was acceptable to spank your children, but this boy is actually beaten. The trauma of not receiving love, scars the young boy, until he is sent away to live with his paternal Grandmother. Something spiritual in Grandmother’s approach leads him towards finding love and connections. It as if she is a psychology and neuroscience expert before her time. Then suddenly she dies, causing Seth to stress to the point of ruin. He regresses to bad choices. Evil friends arrange what they label “bum fights” or illegal betting fights, selling drugs and stealing lead Seth into the wrong pathway. Somehow, he maintains decent grades and works hard at sports. These are not enough to make him feel accepted or grounded. Seth decides to run away to find his true love.
In order to write the fight scenes I trained in a Mixed Martial Arts studio.
I hope you will read The Lucky Boy and feel free to contact me to let me know what you think.
I am easy to find on twitter: @ cgbarbeau
I just started on Pinterest and have about 40 photographs that I enjoy sharing.
CHAPTER SIX Excerpt
Friday, April 27, 2012
A cross-cultural romance set during the fury of British imperialism and the social-cultural divide in early twentieth-century turbulent
It’s the year 1911. King George the Fifth is due in
Raju, a college student, struggling to establish his identity in the charged atmosphere of
A passionate romance with Eileen, the daughter of a British officer, keeps Raju inspired in their roller-coaster ride against the backdrop of British imperialism, turbulent political conflicts, the fury of the freedom revolution, the catastrophic first World War and the racial, cultural and social divisions in the post-Edwardian era.
The book has moved on to the second round of 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.
Tell us about your current release.
Wings of Freedom, released recently as a kindle book on Amazon, is a historical romance novel. It depicts a passionate cross-cultural romance defying the fury of intense political, cultural and social divide in turbulent
British India. The story is accentuated by the backdrop of coronation celebration of King George V amid speculation of sabotage, freedom revolution swirling furiously in the country and the ravages of World War I.
I’m taking the liberty to give an excerpt below from a review on Amazon that aptly sums up the features of this novel:
“Any readers of historical romance will really love this novel. Kaul has created a wonderful story dealing with amazing fictional characters during the British occupation of
in during the early 1900s. It's a story of forbidden love, society ideals, betrayal, and danger.” India
“Kaul is a fabulous writer, engrossing the reader in his story as the beautiful descriptions, the gripping action, and the sweeping romance all come together to create a wonderful novel that I couldn't put down. I am not usually a reader of historical novels, yet Kaul's historical fiction is fabulous and I would recommend it to anyone.”
Tell us about a favorite character from your book.
Eileen, the female protagonist in the novel, is my favorite. Looking at her, you’d think of her as a sweet, beautiful, bubbly woman on the threshold of adulthood. But inside, she is intensely emotional and sensitive, suffering the plight of a motherless child that is accentuated by her being trapped between the powerful currents of her British parentage and her love for
, where she was born and brought up. India
She is an effervescent child till she loses her mother at the age of ten. That transforms her and makes her a kind of recluse, craving for a shoulder on which she could rest her head, cry and shed her grief. Because of these inner conflicts she also gets recurrent, mysterious dreams of boating in the River Jumna flowing close to her house, with a call from some supernatural source. Her personality continues to remain suppressed till she meets Raju, the male protagonist and then their romance, maturing from a subtle to a passionate level with rendezvouses on boats and in old castles and monuments frees her from her shackles resulting in the culmination of her ‘predictive dreaming’ episodes. This also makes her a determined woman, ready to defy the political and social order in the colonial
It won’t be an exaggeration if I say that at times I became sentimental while writing her character.
Who is your favorite author?
The name of Mary Margaret Kaye comes at the top. In fact, I’ve been inspired by her novels, most prominent out of them being The Far Pavilions, which depicts the story of a passionate but dangerous cross cultural love between an Englishman and an Indian princess.
As you’d know The Far Pavilions, which was published in 1978, sold millions of copies and inspired a popular television adaptation as well as a musical play.
However, my novel, Wings of Freedom, has a vital distinction as it’s written from an Indian’s point of view, and reflects the aspirations of the Indian masses during the turbulent colonial period. Moreover, with the Indian authorship, it depicts appropriately the locales, language, dresses, social customs and flavor of the Indian society as it existed a hundred years ago.
Is there one passage in your book that you feel gets to the heart of your book and would encourage people to read it? If so, can you share it?
Here’s a passage that I intentionally put in the prologue to give the readers a feel of the setting, period of the novel, intense political and social conflicts during the colonial rule and the hint of a budding romance.
“His eyes flickered away to the rear of the lobby, which opened onto the beach. Restlessly, he got up and walked out the door toward the stone steps descending to the water’s edge. Stepping down, he gazed at the enormity of the
Arabian Sea and its turbulent waves, frothing as they lashed at the large stone boulders skirting the retaining wall.
The waves gradually coalesced in his mind to a collage of images: meetings with Eileen over the last five years, the love she had for
, her culture, her traditions, her language and him. India
Raj’s mind raced, reliving the intensity, the sublimity of their love, which transcended the barriers of race, religion and society in tumultuous times--when many countries were in the grip of British colonial rule and when
was struggling for her freedom. He gazed back to December of 1911 when he--then fondly called Raju--felt the caressing touch of the hand of a bubbly English girl of eighteen during the coronation celebrations of King George the Fifth near the Red Fort in India .” Delhi
Besides interweaving the fiction with threads of important historical events in India, the novel has the back drop of World War I, tracing the events prior to the great war-- the Balkan War and the assassination of Francis Ferdinand at Sarajevo-- Britain joining the war, the ravages of trench warfare in Belgium and other war theatres in severe winters, where inexperienced recruits from the colonies were deployed in forward positions.
The social and political conflicts prevailing in
in the pre–war period, particularly the women’s suffrage movement and the rise of trade unionism, too find a place in the novel. England
Where did you do research for this book?
The first draft stage took me to government archives, museums and libraries as also the cyberspace, browsing for archival documents, particularly the early twentieth century editions of New York Times, Illustrated London News and Reuters.
This was later supplemented by visits to the monuments, heritage sites, buildings and memorials constructed during colonial
as also actual locales in the novels to provide an authentic flavor of culture and traditions as they existed in early twentieth century. India
Do you have a Website or Blog?
Yes. I’d be glad if the readers visit these sites and post their comments.
Blog sites: http://ratankaul.blogspot.in
Ratan Kaul is an Indian author living in
. Though he had a long career in corporate management, he has been an ardent student of history, particularly relating to the British Indian period. He loves writing historical fiction as it gives him an opportunity to delve into the archived historical manuscripts and documents that provide an insight into what transpired back in time. New Delhi
The serendipitous moment for writing his historical romance novel "Wings of Freedom" came to him when he visited the memorial obelisk at the coronation park in Delhi commemorating the coronation celebrations of the British Emperor King George V in Delhi in 1911. After publishing this novel depicting the cross-cultural romance during
British India of early twentieth century, on Amazon, he is now writing a sequel to it.
Besides his interest in reading historical novels and writing fiction in that genre, he is working as a consultant and an arbitrator. He co-authored a book on Arbitration: Procedure and Practice, published by LexisNexis Butterworth Wadhwa in 2009. He has delivered lectures on arbitration and also contributed papers for seminars.
More information about him can be viewed on his website and he can be reached at email @ ratankaul.in