Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach – Book Review for Monday Motivation

Hey folks, this week I would like to share with you the book called Radical Acceptance written by Tara Brach.

I know I have written about this book in the past, but I just finished rereading it. I was feeling a bit down and needed a pick me up. Today I still feel a bit crappy, but at least I can now reflect on the book and accept what is happening at the moment Read more

Free -Trick or Treat – May 10 to 14

Junkies of horror and short stories look no farther and feast your eyes on the brand-new tale weaved by Jamie Stewart titled Trick or Treat.

For a limited time, pick up your copy FREE  right here! Trick or Treat!

514tU6DJWmLIf I do say so myself, I found that it had the right dose of spookiness and chilling details to fill your craving of a supernatural high.

While brewing up his tale, you can tell the author cleverly placed all the ingredients he needed into his literary pot to serve you a lethal dose of the creeps. The parts of the story blended together smoothly just like a creamy fatal elixir, and just like a pusher of the spooks, he had no problem making you devour his creation. Read more

17 Questions with John Mead the Author of The Fourth Victim

Topher Hoffman: Hello folks! And welcome to the House of 1000 Books!  Today I have a special guest who happens to be the writer of two excellent novels.  The Hanging Women and The Fourth Victim! He specializes in the crime, thriller, and mystery genre and writes about events that are based on actual people and real events.
From his biography, it states that he is a vivid people watcher! That indeed works out for his writing in my opinion because he can sit back and wonder what really makes people tick!
Anyways, enough of what I think, let me introduce you to John Mead!
Welcome John, to the House of 1000 Books! I’m super thrilled that you are here and I more pleased that you were willing to take the time to talk to the readers! So without wasting any more of your time, let us begin the cross-examination! (See what I did there, he’s a crime writer, get it?)
John, from your biography I see that you are a worldly traveller.  Can you tell me, what was your favourite place to visit?
d6vWNUIX_400x400John Mead: The easy answer to this question is always Tibet, with Nepal in a close second. However, in reality, I find all travel fascinating – watching people and what they do is completely absorbing. Whether it’s simply walking around or sitting outside a café watching people go about their everyday business. Or waiting at train stations and in airports imagining all those journeys that are about to start. The spirituality of some places, like India, or the gun culture of America, or discovering the horrors of past wars in Vietnam and Cambodia. Enjoying a glass of wine in a small air-conditioned bar in Venice, a power cut in Shanghai, ice cream in San Francisco, watching Fruit Bats fly across the Mekong. Or, simply, eating a delicious plate of mussels with a pint in a pub, by the beach in Llandudno, on a warm spring day.  Every excursion becomes a new adventure.
TH: With you being in so many parts of the world, do you recollect a time that you were visiting another country or city that you feared for your life or, at a  minimum, your safety?
JM: In many places, the biggest threat is getting run over – and you don’t always have to be on the road for that to be a danger. India seemed the worst, where even driving towards oncoming traffic on a motorway didn’t seem out of place.
In most cities, there are places you are told to ‘watch your back’, though Durban SA came out top on that score. We did a stop over there and the hotel we stayed at gave us a map with about 80% of the city covered in crosses as being unsafe for tourists.  Although, in Egypt, the guide happily showed us the bullet holes on the temple walls were the tourists had been recently shot. And, in more than one place, we have aroused suspicion and curiosity in equal measure by wandering around back streets and markets not usually frequented by foreigners.
In practice, we have never had any trouble, apart from a couple of attempted pickpockets (Florence and Paris) and having my camera stolen whilst in a hot air balloon over Luxor – long story.
TH: Are any of your books based on your travels?
39104053JM: The Hanging Women – we travelled by train across the USA and, along the way, I was really taken by Chicago and it’s history. The incredible rate of technological, social and economic change taking place in the 1800s was staggering.  Throw in the gun culture, gangs and racial mix and you have the basis for a real potboiler.
TH: You are a people watcher, have you ever worked any of the personalities you have seen into a story? If so, what is that person like?
JM: Virtually every character has some personality traits of people I’ve met. Initially, I start by thinking I need to use a character, someone like X, for a particular part of the story. But the problem is they soon take on a life of their own, even the minor characters, and the plot ends up following the characters. So, in the end, I doubt if anyone would recognise themselves in the character.
It has been my experience that there are no good or bad people, no heroes or villains, just people with a mix of everything in them. It is the process of living a life, that causes that mix to come out in a certain blend, that is what is important to understand when developing a character.
TH: Ok, changing pace a bit here is a random question and the one I ask everyone that I have interviewed.  If you had the chance to tell your younger writing self one thing about writing, one piece of advice that you wish you knew when you were younger,  that you know would have helped, what would it be?
JM: If you want to develop a career in writing then start early – build a base, start a blog, review books, read a wide range of books, write short stories and articles. Basically, do anything and everything that helps build a following and will show your talent and credentials to potential agents and publishers in the future. Don’t bother about writing a great opus, write what you enjoy – what you need to write – in a style that is your own.
From a practical point of view: always assume your book can stand to be edited at least once, if not twice, more than you think necessary.
TH: Who is your favourite author, and why?
JM: PG Wodehouse – for his wordplay
RL Stevenson – for never wasting a word
C Hibbert – for his historical research
G Simenon – for atmosphere and character
TH:  If you had the chance to meet one author, and ask them one question about their work, what would it be?
JM: It would have to be Shakespeare – and the question would be: ‘Did you really write every work accredited to you?’
TH:  Most people say that their family supports their writing, I’m asking you, does anybody in your family disapprove of your writing?
JM: To be honest, I don’t ask, and I suspect they are all too polite to tell me if I did.
TH:  If you had to give up one thing that is exceptionally important to you, what would it be, and why would you decide that is the one thing that you would give up?
JM: I’d lie – I’d never give up anything important to me, not willingly.  As Confucius once said: ‘If someone demands you give them your pen, then your only logical recourse is to stab them in the eye with it.’  Or was that Machiavelli?
TH:  What is your favourite quote?
JM: ‘Out, damned spot!’  (MacBeth, Act 5 Scene 1)  – Shakespeare.
It was the only quote my school friend learned for O Level English Literature, while I memorised 30 plus quotes and had context and analysis to use them in a variety of ways – he ended up with the same grade as I got.  There is, I feel, a lesson in life there.
TH: I see that you have two books published in 2018.  What one is your newest book, and can you tell us about it?
41072341JM: The Fourth Victim – it’s a police procedural crime story.
I wanted to write something that tended to reflect how police really go about solving crimes. It is more team based rather than around a central angst, a filled hero who ends up solving the crime against the odds. And, like most crime stories, it isn’t meant to be a mystery, the real uncertainty is how or if the police will discover who the real killer is – the story is in the journey rather than the end. The latter is especially true as knowing who the killer is doesn’t mean they will be convicted.
It is set in modern-day Whitechapel –
‘Whitechapel is being gentrified, the many green spaces of the area give the illusion of peace and clean air but are also places to find drug dealers, sexual encounters and murder…’
And the police are not only having to do battle with crime but also budget cuts. Solving crime is about choices not just about detection.
TH: What is one thing in the book that you have left out of the blurb that should have been in the blurb?
JM: ‘This is not a cosy murder mystery.’
‘A story about how life will bite you back.’
TH:  Who is your favourite character from your newest novel, describe that character in three words.
JM: I’m developing the ‘Whitechapel theme’ into a series of books and one of the characters that emerge is an old, smalltime East End gangster whom one of the police officers describes as ‘a proper arsehole crawling, racist little shit.’  Unfortunately, he reminds me of one or two people I grew up with.
TH: Using that same character, if a movie adaptation was produced out of your book, who would you pick to play that character, and why?
JM: Bob Hoskins – cornered the market in this type of character in The Long Good Friday
15.  There are so many genres out there that you could have decided to write, what has drawn you to write in the mystery, thriller, and crime genre?
JM: Given the context of this genre, stories tend to be looking at the most terrible moments in a person’s life – events that bring out the worst and best in people. They will also have a smattering of technology (in the form of forensics, etc) and tell you something about society – how the criminal and victim are viewed and treated.  Therefore, they have a large range of angles and issue to explore.
TH:  Where can the readers find out more about your work?
TH:  Is there anything else at all that you would like to share?
JM: I like to thank the following for their support:
o My publisher: @BookGuild
o Blog Tour Arranger: @rararesources
o London Crime Fans: @LondonCrime1
And, of course, many thanks to yourself for this opportunity.

21 Questions with Raven Corinn Carluk the Author of Nomycha

Welcome to the House of 1000 Books, and today we have a treat for you.  We have an interview with Raven Corinn Carluk.  She’s a self-described “desert rose that belongs in the heat.”

Welcome, Raven to the House of Books virtual interview room!  Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions with us. I took a look at your profile, and you have a lot of books. I can only imagine you are a pretty busy lady! It surprised me how many books you had written.

So let’s start, shall we?

Topher Hoffman: I read your biography, so I know the answer to this, but can you tell the readers when did you write your first book?  I think they will be surprised!

21069830Raven Corinn Carluk: It surprises even me sometimes, especially as I keep getting older. My first completed novel was written back in my freshman year of high school. That manuscript is long since gone, and it certainly wasn’t up to my current standards, but there’s a part of me that wishes I had it for at least the nostalgia of it.

Recently, though, one of my aunts showed me a picture book I had written and drawn about the bicycle she had bought for me. So, I could argue that my first book was written when I was eight.

TH: What was your favourite childhood book?

RCC: There are two that really come to mind, though I read so much while growing up. Green Eggs and Ham will always be a favorite book, because it’s the first book I remember reading. And it has a great moral that more people should embrace.

The other favorite was The Rolling Stones by Robert Heinlein. I was seven or eight when I read it, and I just related to the whole family, but especially the main kids. Precocious, too smart for my own good sometimes, and hungry for adventure.

TH: I see that you write romance, science fiction, and fantasy. Has your family read your romance novels, and if they have what do they think of them?

RCC: I’m not sure if any of my extended family has read my books, because I never connected with them as a child, thus didn’t keep in contact when I became an adult. But my very tight-knit family circle has read the romance, and they like it. Even if they sometimes tease me about the steamier bits.

I’ve been told by them that they enjoy the adventure, that it’s not all heaving bosoms and pining for unrequited love, so it’s something a person can get into.

TH: Now, my favourite random question! If you were walking down the road, and you saw a younger you writing, what advice would you give yourself?

7943082RCC: That’s a great random question, but my answer might be considered “cheesing out” by others. My personal philosophy is that I wouldn’t be the person I am now if I hadn’t lived through my experiences. So I wouldn’t give my younger self advice, because then she wouldn’t become me.

But my advice to any writer is to tell your story. Keep writing. Keep doing. In this day and age of internet access and free information, there is no reason to hide your story just because it isn’t popular, or is too similar to something else, or can’t be defined by a genre. You can publish it yourself, you can get people to read it, and you don’t have to compromise your vision to fit current trends.

TH: You started writing at a young age. Could you tell us how many books have you written and which is your favourite?

RCC: Published, there are five novels, one novella, and two collections of short stories. On my blog there is a serial novel that’s basically a rough draft, and a couple hundred short stories. Three or four short stories published in anthologies not quite a decade ago.

And that’s just what’s currently available to readers.

Currently, Nomycha is my favorite. There’s something about that story of star-crossed lovers, and discovering yourself as a person, and learning to balance good and evil within yourself and your actions, that touches me like nothing else I’ve written. I have other characters that are closer to mine and my husband’s personalities, and I love their tales, but Cyryna and her novel are my babies. I worked the longest on polishing the manuscript, hesitated the most on hitting the submit button, and sometimes worry that it’s not as good as I think it is.

TH:  You must have a pretty good idea what it takes to make a good story. What do you think makes a good story?

13482846RCC: It’s easy to say a good story should have relatable or interesting characters, and rising action, and real consequences, and a satisfying conclusion, but those are just parts of the craft. To paraphrase Captain Jack Sparrow: That’s what a story needs, not what a story is.

A good story really has that element of je ne sais quoi: you’ll know it’s good when you read it, but you can’t define it in tangible words. It has to do with the passion of the storyteller, with how well they translate their vision to the page. I could read two novels with similar plots, characters, and conclusions, and one will just feel like the better story to me because of that touch of passion.

TH: Do you enjoy what you write, meaning, do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

RCC: I think of myself as a storyteller, and that my duty is to share my vision with people. Sometimes it’s just a variation on a common theme, sometimes it’s about subverting expectations. Sometimes it’s just about embracing the darker side of life. I’d like to think I appeal to what readers didn’t know they wanted to read.

I’ve been asked if I would write something more commercially appealing if it meant my big break, and I had to say no. I’ve never been one to follow trends in my own lifestyle, so couldn’t do that with my writing. Yeah, it would be easy to crank out another dystopian YA novel where the good guys win, or yet another bodice-ripper escapist romance novel, but that’s not me.

TH: Do all your books run along the same storyline or are they all unique standalone novels?

RCC: I mean, if you boil any story far enough down, then everything is similar. I think someone similar said there are only seven basic plots in the world, and I can’t exactly argue against that. It’s just how that plot is dressed up that makes each book different.

So, there is a basic plot of Girl-Meets-Boy and they live Happily Ever After in all my novels, but it’s the adventures they have and tribulations they go through that make each novel stand on their own. All of them are walking to the same place, but they each take slightly different paths to get there.

TH: Are there any books that you started to write, but haven’t finished, if so, how many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

21583322RCC: Unpublished, I have a novel that my husband and I are working on together. Maybe a dozen short stories out for submission. Another dozen short stories in various stages of revision, and a serial novel I’m still working on. There are a few plots for more Keila books running around, and a handful of other ideas that just haven’t solidified into something that could actually become a book.

TH: With writing so many romance novels, can you tell us, what’s the worst thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

RCC: Gaw, this is a hard one. I actually can’t think of one, because I enjoy writing about my men, and I enjoy writing short stories from male points of view. The hardest part would probably be trying to write a stereotypical chauvinist, what the vernacular considers toxic masculinity. I’ve always had good men in my life, and that translates to the men in my story, so I can’t put myself in the headspace to create such a character.

But that goes for women, too. Writing someone stereotypically weak or simpering takes more effort than a woman who will defend herself or put her foot down when necessary.

TH: How long on average does it take you to write a book?

RCC: From plot outline to publishing, it’s a couple years. But that was while I was working full time, and had to do all my editing and rewrites in my spare time. If I can come up with a good novel idea, it might be much easier now that I’m a full-time housewife.

TH: When you start to think up a book, do you make up the plot first or the characters?

RCC: 60% character first, 40% plot. The two are really linked for me, especially since there’s magical elements to my works. So, I play with character ideas and what kind of adventures they would have. What would be the stumbling block to them based on their abilities, and who would make a good partner for them, and what kind of antagonist would they be going up against?

TH: You’ve written in the romance genre and the science fiction & fantasy genre. Do you have a preference?

RCC: Fantasy is almost always my preference over sci-fi, even in my reading tastes, but I enjoy telling love stories. I know romance has a bit of a reputation that it’s about sex, and I’ve put some explicit scenes in All Hallows Blood, but I really like to read about two souls meeting and becoming one. So I will probably always write romance with fantastical elements, because that’s where I’m most comfortable.

TH: Have any of your books been made into audiobooks? If so, what are the challenges in producing an audiobook?

11244531RCC: I actually am looking to making some audiobooks. I’m not rolling in cash, so I wasn’t going to hire anyone, but do it myself. So I won’t have any idea what challenges come with working with a narrator, but I can tell you what it’s like narrating my own stuff.

Currently, I am posting videostories on my YouTube channel. Me, reading my old flash stories from my blog, while the words are on screen for anyone who wants to read along. And it is a fun project, because it allows me to exercise so many different facets of my creative nature.

Learning how to speak into a mic is probably the hardest thing for me right now. Learning how to give emphasis without spiking the audio levels, how to pace myself, how to make sure I’m enunciating, how to do slightly different voices. But this is an information age, so I can Google lots of tips, and am learning as I go.

Editing the audio itself has been pretty easy. At least so far. Clearing out my breathing, the occasional clicks, trimming down pauses that went on to long, that all takes less and less time. It was always the easiest part.

Once I feel I’ve really mastered audio production, I’m planning to turn Stories With Bite O,.,O into my first audiobook, then Nomycha.

TH: As I can see, you have a lot of published books. Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be?

RCC: Until recently, I was having to work full-time to do all the things that kept me fed and housed. After an injury at work, my husband was able to position himself so I could stay home and become a housewife. Which means I am now a full-time writer, so long as I’ve gotten my daily chores finished.

It is certainly something I’ve always wanted. Trying to be creative while working sapped my energy, and was painful. Trying to find time for self-promotion while working led to a nervous breakdown, which caused me to put writing on a hold for five or six years. Telling stories is in my soul, but it takes time and freedom. Both of which I have now.

TH: You said you have been writing since you were five. When did you first consider yourself an author?

RCC: I didn’t actually consider myself an author until I signed a contract for All Hallows Blood. I was no longer just writing, I was published, and I felt I could call myself an author.

TH: Can you please tell us about your most recently released book?

41123759RCC: The synopsis reads: When war breaks out between the two lands, Cyryna must leave her training and contemplation to recover a relic of great power. Her magical skills are immediately put to the test in skirmish after skirmish with the undead hordes of Valham. Her heart is put to the test when she meets a man with silver eyes.

Nomycha has been an on-and-off again project for probably ten years. It was inspired by a dream, and went through at least one complete re-write before it got to this stage. I tried to explore elements of destiny, of balance, of how light and dark hate each other for being different. Cyryna explores what it means to be yourself, to stand up for your beliefs, to embrace your inner strength. Maksim is warrior, protector, and proves that love will conquer all.

Plus there’s adventure, action, monsters, magic, and villains.

TH: What is the significance of the title?

RCC: I’ll let Maksim explain it: “Mychas are spirit hounds. They act as guardians of the mystic plane, guiding magic users. Nomychas are the little hounds that watch over dreamers. I’ve dreamt of you my entire life. You are my nomycha. You are the one who guides me.”

It’s his pet name for her throughout the book. It seemed the most appropriate title, even if it’s a made-up world, because there is so much in the tale regarding dreams and the great hounds.

TH:  If your book one day made into a movie,  who are the celebrities that would star in it?

RCC: Even though I tend to write my action scenes with a cinematic style, I don’t usually think about who would play my characters in a movie. I don’t even usually have a particular person in mind while I’m writing. But in this book, Orlando Bloom was my inspiration for Maksim’s looks. He’s always my guilty pleasure; I’ve loved him since I first saw him, and always will.

I’m not sure who would be cast, but they’d need to be young and hot.

TH:  Where can people buy your books, and what book do you recommend starting with?

21596338RCC: I’m on Amazon http://bit.ly/RavenCorinnCarlukAmazon and Smashwords http://bit.ly/RCCSmashwords I recommend starting with Stories With Bite O,.,O to get a feel for what I like, how I write, and then decide where to go from there.

Or come by my blog for free stories every week. http://bit.ly/Raven-Corinn-Carluk

TH: Finally, is there anything else you want the readers to know?

RCC: Leave reviews about the books you read. It helps the author, especially us indie authors, but you’re really helping your fellow readers. They want to know if their time and money are worth spending on a book, and you could help them make that choice.

Thank you!

RCC: Thanks for having me!

So there have it folks!  Raven Corinn Carluk! She’s definately an author to keep an eye out for!

Follow Raven!

Blog: http://ravencorinncarluk.blogspot.com
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ravencorinncarluk
Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/RavenCorinnCarluk
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ravencorinncarluk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ravencorinn