Vivienne Vermes’ debut novel is a gripping read which will appeal to readers who enjoy historical fiction, thrillers and evocative themes. The book begins with a young woman found, emaciated and unconscious, in the mountains surrounding a village in Transylvania. When it is discovered that she is of an ethnic group which was violently driven out of the regions many years before, old wounds are reopened as the villagers are reminded of their role in the bloodshed.
An uneasy peace is maintained until a young married man falls in love with the girl, and tension begin to rise within the community. The mysterious disappearance of a child causes this tension to mount into hysteria, driving the story to its chilling outcome.
I love books that tackle difficult themes. A number of my favourite books hold that accolade for precisely that reason; To Kill a Mockingbird and The Green Mile are but two examples.
The historical context of The Barefoot Road is clear straight away. In the first chapter, we re-live the persecution and slaughter of a community. When a young woman from that community is brought into the village, mistrust broods. As soon as anything untoward happens the blame falls at her feet; the villagers are quickly roused into seeing her account for her actions.
One constructive point I would like to make is that sometimes the narrative comes across a little stiff when referring to main characters by “first name” “last name”. As a significant character, addressing Ioan Trifoi in this way (more often than not) distances him from the reader. It makes the narrative feel a little less personal and Ioan harder to identify with. He does grow on you as the tale progresses. Dropping the formal address could speed this up, in my opinion.
I’m glad that The Barefoot Road portrays society in its darkest moments, and how individuals can get swept up into a crowd for not agreeing with the majority. It is a common thing… but this kind of behaviour can have real, nasty consequences. Naturally, this is not a side to humanity we want to acknowledge or recognise. Yet, it happens…and we should recognise it in order to do something about it.
The tension that builds as the narrative progresses feels very real. As a reader, you cannot help but delve into the book further to watch events pan out. Themes of religion and witchcraft (and the weight characters lend to their importance) go a long way to setting the book. As a huge fan of historical fiction, I really enjoyed this aspect. The underlying motives, agendas and pre-existing relationships of various villagers within the town adds to the tension and conflict nicely.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vivienne Vermes is a writer and actress of Irish and Hungarian descent who divides her time between Paris and London. She has published four collections of poetry: Sand Woman, Metamorphoses, Passages and When the World Stops Spinning, and has performed her work in festivals throughout Europe. She is winner of the Piccadilly Poets’ award, the Mail on Sunday’s Best Opening of a Novel competition, as well as Flash 500s prize for short prose and the Paragram national competition for best poem and “petite prose”. She has taught creative writing in universities in Transylvania, and runs a writers’ workshop in Paris.
As an actress, she has played roles in a number of French films, including Les Trois Frères, Le Retour and in Les Profs 2 in which she portrayed Queen Elizabeth II. Her voice also warns passengers on the Paris metro to “Mind the gap”.
Thirty-something single mum Beth Haldane is forced to become Dulwich’s answer to Miss Marple when she stumbles over a murder victim on her first day at work. To clear her name, Beth is plunged into a cozy mystery that’s a contemporary twist on Golden Age crime classics. But can she pull it off? She already has a bouncy young son, haughty cat, a fringe with a mind of its own and lots of bills to pay, as she struggles to keep up with the yummy mummies of SE21. Join Beth in #1 of the London Murder Mystery series, as she discovers the nastiest secrets can lurk in the nicest places.
Beth is a bubbly young woman, who discovers a murder on her first day back at work. Having convinced herself that she is implicated, she delves in to try and uncover the murderer and motive.
I quite enjoyed her bouncy, ditzy character. She loves to think she is organised; she cleans and tidies the house to “get her thoughts together”. The facade slips whenever she has to tip the contents of her handbag out to find her phone though. It is her way of determining that she is in control. But, as a single mum, things can get pretty hectic. I like the “modern” family structure in the book – increasingly there are more families, for one reason or another, that are reliant on a single parent. I thought it was great that this was recognised.
Alice Castle’s description of Beth is on-point, even down to the rogue, uncooperative hair (anyone with long hair will really relate to this, I’m sure). Her personality makes her the perfect candidate to want to uncover the mystery, despite being warned of the potential dangers by Inspector York. Exasperated at her meddling and finding her around the corner of every development, York has to concede to her knowledge of the small, exclusive community in order to solve the case. Whilst most of the narrative is written from Beth’s perspective, there are small sections from Inspector York. I would have liked to see a little more from his perspective, as the expert on the case.
The narrative is full of plot twists, leaving you guessing the next move and the identity of the perpetrator. What makes it even better is that the final twist was one I didn’t expect at all.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Dulwich…
It’s a perfect summer’s morning in the plush south London suburb, and thirty-something Beth Haldane sneaks off to visit one of her favourite places – the world-famous Picture Gallery.
She’s enjoying a few moments’ respite from juggling her job at prestigious private school Wyatt’s and her role as single mum to little boy, Ben, when she stumbles across a shocking new exhibit on display. Before she knows it, she’s in the thick of a fresh, and deeply chilling, investigation.
Who is The Girl in the Gallery?
Join Beth in adventure #2 of The London Murder Mystery series as she tries to uncover the truth about a secret eating away at the very heart of Dulwich.
I moved on to reading The Girl in the Gallery almost immediately after Death in Dulwich. A number of the main characters are already established; therefore the plot flows effortlessly, without filling in too much back-story. The tale continues shortly after Death in Dulwich leaves off, making the book easy to pick up. There are plenty of references to the previous book to remind you what has happened before anyway.
The biggest plus point is how well the book tackles the sensitive issues within. Body image and the impact of social media are explored in detail. I particularly like how different characters in the book have various views on the struggle teenage girls’ experience. On the whole, the narrative has a balanced approach. This topic is completely different from the first book, so neither narrative nor setting is stale and repetitive.
The dynamic between characters is familiar, yet boundaries are tested in this second installment of the series. Inspector York has come to appreciate that in Dulwich, Beth has access to the inside scoop and enough curiosity to investigate to make his job easier. Where there was a reluctance to involve her in the previous case, now he calls upon her insight willingly.
One of my observations from Death in Dulwich is that there was little input from Inspector York into the narrative. Small sections are devoted to his viewpoint on the case, but they are few and far between. Whilst the sections in The Girl in the Gallery are still quite brief, York certainly has more of a voice and presence than before.
I really enjoyed reading both of these books and cannot wait to see what Calamity in Camberwell has in store! Once again, a huge thank you to both the author and Rachel for organising the tour! If you would like to read either book featured today, a copy can be purchased using the following links:-
Alternatively, the author is running a GIVEAWAY of a signed copy of each book via Rafflecopter. Please note that this is only available to UK residents at this time. See the Terms and Conditions below:-
*Terms and Conditions – UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter link above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the Author
Before turning to a life of crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, was a European best-seller which sold out in two weeks.
Alice is currently working on Calamity in Catford, the sequel to Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery. It’s the third instalment in the London Murder Mystery series and will be published by Crooked Cat next year. Once again, it features Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.
Alice is also a top mummy blogger, writing at DD’s Diary.
She lives in south London and is married with two children, two step-children and two cats.
Empire of Silence is classic space opera. Set approximately twenty thousand years in our future, humanity reigns across the galaxy, with seats on millions of worlds, on uncounted moons and asteroids, and even across the Dark between the stars. So what can you expect to see as you journey with Hadrian through the pages of this first adventure? What brave new worlds—and what people in them—will you encounter along the way? Here’s a quick rundown of five things you can expect for the world and worldbuilding in my novel.
WE’VE GOT THE EMPIRE, NOW AS THEN
More than sixteen thousand years old by the time our story begins, the Sollan Empire is the largest nation ever to exist. With the control of nearly half a billion habitable worlds and hundreds of trillions of people, it stretches all the way from the Perseus Arm at the outer rim of our galaxy towards the dense Norman Expanse near the center, carving out a wedge of human-controlled space in an uncaring cosmos. Interstellar travel being slow, the Empire is essentially feudal, each planetary system acting more or less independently, with minimal oversight from the Emperor (and minimal interference from his legions) in his palace at Forum. Each feudal territory—be it a moon, a planet, or an entire solar system—is under the command of one or many noble houses. These nobles are the beneficiaries of the finest genetic engineering: they’re stronger, smarter, better-looking, and they may live for centuries, ruling their respective worlds like tiny gods. Founded as they were out of a reaction to the abuses of artificial intelligence and other forms of high technology, the Sollan Empire tightly regulates access to anything more complicated than an automobile.
The Empire’s culture is self-consciously traditionalist. Built on the back of a human victory over their own machines, the first Sollans experienced a renaissance during which the ancient aesthetic and cultural traditions of our checkered past were revived as emblems of an age before our near extinction. Anything that smacks of the postmodern, the artificial, or the inhuman, is cast out or destroyed.
BUT WE ARE NOT ALONE
There may be billions of habitable worlds in the Milky Way, but if there are other civilizations, we have yet to hear from them. As humanity made its way into space, we discovered the answer to Fermi’s Paradox was rather simpler than we expected: we were early risers. Intelligent life is relatively rare in the cosmos. In nearly twenty thousand years of exploring deep space, we encountered dozens of intelligent species, but none of them had developed any technology more advanced than steel. Some of these species we uplifted, others enslaved. In all that time, we have only encountered one other species capable of star travel: the Cielcin. Like humanity, the Cielcin homeworld is lost, destroyed in the deeps of time. Unlike humanity, they have not settled other worlds, but set to roaming, wandering in the black of space inside ships hollowed out of asteroids: gathering fuel from gas giants, sucking water from comets, and harvesting planets for food—when they can find it. Roughly humanoid, they are carnivorous to a fault, and it is this need to eat that has driven them to assault human colonies. Entire cities are captured and butchered to feed their migratory hordes, leaving only smoking ruins in their wake. Because of their migratory nature, humanity has been forced to fight a defensive war for centuries, unable to find the aliens’ fleets in the dark of infinite space. For mankind, it’s been nothing but a series of losses and losing battles, punctuated by the odd, startling success…that is, until Hadrian Marlowe appeared.
BIOLOGY IS DESTINY
Hadrian Marlowe is a child of lords. A palatine. Born at the very top of the imperial caste system, he is the the beneficiary of dozens of generations of breeding and genetic engineering. Members of the palatine caste may live for centuries, with the very oldest and noblest families living as long as six or seven hundred years. They’re free from most diseases, taller, smarter, more attractive than their low-caste plebeian counterparts who—like you and I—are doomed to live a mere 80-some years with various health problems and insufficiencies. Between them are the patricians, low-caste people given gene therapies and other medical interventions in return for services rendered. Such patricians may live longer—some as many as three hundred years—and may even pass those inheritances on to their children, if their lords are gracious enough. But not all is well for our palatine overlords. Their genomes are so heavily modified, so idiosyncratic, that they cannot reproduce without scientific help. That’s all well and good. The palatine nobility wouldn’t want children the natural way to begin with, preferring instead to have their children in artificial wombs under the watchful eye of scientists. But they also cannot reproduce without imperial permission, as the keys that would allow each noble couple’s children to develop healthy are tightly controlled by the Emperor’s office. Thus the Emperor retains control of the noble houses: through their children.
NEVER TRUST ROBOTS
You won’t find any robots in the Sollan Empire (and if you do, you must report them to the Holy Terran Chantry at once). They’re forbidden. Long ago, before the foundation of the Empire, the ancient Mericanii were ruled by machines, vast artificial intelligences that governed Old Earth in its dying days. Those would have been humanity’s dying days as well, for our machine children turned against us, and it was only the actions of a few offworld colonies—led by the man who would become the Sollan Empire’s first Emperor—who delivered mankind from the machines. Never again, they vowed, would we make monsters out of metal and silicon. That’s where the Chantry comes in: part religious institution, part judicial apparatus, the Chantry polices the imperial world. Every citizen, from the lowliest serf to the Emperor himself, is subject to their inquiry. Their influence even stretches beyond imperial borders, into Jaddian space and amongst the Norman colonies. Though they police all manner of crimes-turned-sins, their primary charge is the hunting down and destruction of illegal technologies, especially any technologies with a glimmer of intelligence. Cybernetic implants are strictly forbidden, as the mixture of man and machine is considered the worst abomination of all.
But beyond the borders of the Empire—in the Dark between the stars—the Chantry’s power breaks down. Among the Extrasolarians (human pirates and barbarians that rejected imperial civilization) it is said the old, forbidden technologies still prosper. Perhaps the machines are not so dead as the priest-hunters of the Chantry believe.
THE SWORD IS MIGHTY
It was space travel that first revived the age of the sword. The delicate hulls of spacecraft and the presence of volatile chemicals made firearms a poor option, but it was the development of the Royse field that truly restored the sword to its rightful place in the hand of every soldier, mercenary, gentleman, and privateer. The force field sidelined traditional firearms, forcing common soldiers to adopt plasma weapons—whose ambient heat can pass through a Royse barrier—and melee weapons, which are slow enough to pass beneath a shield’s energy threshold. This revolutionized combat and reshaped human culture as we expanded into space. Most battles between human groups became fought on the ground or the air, most inter-ship weaponry having been made obsolete by the shield and by the blanket ban on artificial intelligence, and what space combat there is most often performed by boarding parties and by stealth. Just an importantly, the swords themselves improved. Highmatter is a form of programmable exotic matter discovered some millennia before Hadrian’s day. A kind of liquid metal, highmatter is used in some electronics and especially in spacecraft, but it is also used for swords. Highmatter swords can cut through almost anything. Their edges are programmed to an atom’s thickness, and they might cut steel or stone as easily as an arm or leg. The atoms of a highmatter blade are bonded together, making the sword essentially one massive molecule, and nigh unbreakable. The only defense against a highmatter sword is the long-chain carbon atoms that are found in starship hulls—or, of course, another highmatter sword.
About The Author
Christopher Ruocchio is the author of The Sun Eater, a space opera fantasy series from DAW Books, as well as the Assistant Editor at Baen Books, where he co-edited the military SF anthology Star Destroyers, as well as the upcoming Space Pioneers, a collection of Golden Age reprints showcasing tales of human exploration. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University, where a penchant for self-destructive decision making caused him to pursue a bachelor’s in English Rhetoric with a minor in Classics. An avid student of history, philosophy, and religion, Christopher has been writing since he was eight-years-old and sold his first book —Empire of Silence— at twenty-two. The Sun Eater series is available from Gollancz in the UK, and has been translated into French and German.
Christopher lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he spends most of his time hunched over a keyboard writing. When not writing, he splits his time between his family, procrastinating with video games, and his friend’s boxing gym. He may be found on both Facebook and Twitter at @TheRuocchio.
Guess who almost mixed up their dates for their slot on the blog tour for Chilling Tales of the Unexpected?
Yep, that would be me.
Normally I am so on-the-ball with checking these things – I have never been wrong before! The one time I don’t check before hitting publish on my Sunday Summary post, however, it’s a different story. At least I checked at all, so I am posting on the correct day!
My next blog tour is scheduled for the 14th July, so that is where I got muddled. Anyway, less about my epic failures and more about books, yes?
Four twisty, short reads.
Addictive works of suspense,
That will leave you breathless and give you goose bumps…
Trading with Death
What sacrifice might we make for those we love? In the face of death, will we be selfish or selfless?
Tell Me a Secret
Deceit, lies and secrets – how well do we know those close to us?
We follow Tess as she confronts the dark side…
Written on the Apple Tree
A moment from a past life, a possession, or a simple meeting between strangers?
*** I kindly received a copy of Chilling Tales of the Unexpected via Rachel’s Random Resources in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated are my own***
These tales are a fabulous read when you have a few minutes to spare.
I usually find myself engrossed in epic tomes; books jam-packed full of detail and as solid as a brick. Seriously, I am not a small handbag girl…. anything less than War & Peace and the kitchen sink and I consider myself under-equipped. In complete contrast, I had forgotten how refreshing it is to have such a light, quick read whenever you have a cheeky five minutes! Hefty books are great if they are your thing – but you have to have the time to dedicate to them in order to make it work.
Each of the four stories within Chilling Tales of the Unexpected is broken down nicely, so each part takes no longer than ten minutes to read – if that! It makes it ideal for sneaking a few pages in before work, in your lunch hour… or even a quick read before bed (so long as you don’t have an overactive imagination at least!) Each part is paced in such a way as to keep each story moving forward without a clutter of unnecessary detail. This is essential for short stories because their structure requires a minimalist approach. I also think this was used in such a way as to hide plot twists until their due time.
If I had to choose, I think my favourite story was Tell Me A Secret. It’s a complex tale of trust, deception, and manipulation and in my opinion, struck up the best balance of plot/character development whilst keeping a concise narrative.
If Ann’s work as a psychotherapist inspired some of the character’s that feature in her stories, let me say that I am glad I lock my door at night! Each story is different from the next, but most have either unsavoury characters, involve death in one way or another, or both. What makes these stories unnerving is how close a “perpetrator” (for want of a word) is to the “victim”. Think about it too hard and you’ll start overthinking about the people in your life…
No seriously, don’t.
I really enjoyed this short collection of stories. If you enjoy genres like psychological thriller or crime then these tales should appeal to you.
Well-written and concise, yet not lacking for detail either, these are perfect for filling a few minutes of free time and then occupying your mind for the rest of the day! Perhaps not ideal for those with a vivid imagination, or trust issues.
Want to know more? I would love if you could also check out some other stops on the tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources… or you can find out more about the author herself below:-
Born and educated in the UK, Ann Girdharry is a trained psychotherapist and has worked as a manager in the not-for-profit sector for many years.
Today she lives in Montpellier, France with her husband and two children.
She writes suspense and thrillers, is a book reviewer and occasionally blogs for the Huffington Post UK. Her crime thriller novel, GOOD GIRL BAD GIRL, was an Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist 2017. Two of her thrillers are READERS’ FAVOURITE Five Star Books.
Good morning everyone!
I am delighted to be taking part in a Blog Tour today for The Ghost of Glendale, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources. Unfortunately due to my reading schedule I wasn’t able to read and review this title today, but I would encourage anyone interested in the book to check out the other stops on the tour!
About the Book
At twenty-four years old, Phoebe Marcham is resigned to spinsterhood, unwilling to settle for anything less than the deep love her parents had shared. That is, until adventurer Duncan Armstrong rides into her home wood, larger than life and with laughter in his eyes and more charm in his little finger than anyone she’s ever met before. Far from ridiculing her family ghost, Duncan resolves to help solve the mystery which has left Simon Marcham a spirit in torment for two hundred years.
About the Author
Natalie is a published novelist and short story writer whose addiction to the books of Georgette Heyer and love of The Regency have been the inspiration for her latest book, The Ghost of Glendale.
Working on the premise that you never stop learning, she goes to any and every writing event and workshop she can. In addition she attends The Write Place Creative Writing School in Hextable in Kent, one of the rewards for which is an abundant supply of cream cakes to celebrate the frequent successes of its students.
Natalie is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, The Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She lives with her husband in southeast London.
If you would like to find out more about the book, or if you are interested in purchasing a copy, you can do so via Amazon.
Don’t forget, there are a number of lovely blogs involved in the tour so please check out their posts and their thoughts about The Ghost of Glendale.
I have been looking forward to this post for so long!
Today I get to share my thoughts with you about StoneKing as part of the ongoing Blog Tour. Thank you to Fiery Seas Publishing and Donna for the opportunity to get involved!
Part of the reason this has been some time in the making was that before February, I hadn’t even read any of the earlier books in this series. So… I had some catching up to do! If there is anyone else new to the series and would like to learn a little more about my thoughts for the prior books in the series, Kinglet and Fiskur, you will note I have kindly (and unashamedly) provided links for my self promo for you to take a look at.
Are you sitting comfortably, ready to see where Kristan’s adventure takes us next?
StoneKing by Donna Migliaccio February 20th, 2018 Fantasy The Gemeta Stone Book 3 Fiery Seas Publishing, LLC
They call him StoneKing: the lord of four countries, the vanquisher of the Wichelord Daazna, the man who will restore his people to prosperity and peace.
But there is no peace for Kristan Gemeta. Already weighed down by the cares of his new realm, Kristan carries a secret burden – the knowledge that Daazna is not dead. He isolates himself in his ruined castle in Fandrall, where he struggles to control the destructive Tabi’a power that may be his only hope of defeating the Wichelord once and for all.
And there’s trouble elsewhere in his realm. His Reaches are squabbling in Dyer, Melissa and Nigel are experiencing heartache in Norwinn, and Heather’s command in Hogia is in jeopardy. Unaware of this turmoil, Kristan receives an unexpected gift – one that forces him, his knights, an inexperienced squire and a crafty young shape-shifter into a hazardous winter journey.
StoneKing picks up a short while after Fiskur – Kristan’s anointed Reaches are now governing his realm whilst he returns home to Fandrall to restore his birthright.
Yet the StoneKing himself is as broken as the realm, and as he tries to take the troubles from everyone’s shoulders, will he break under the strain? He is certainly a different man. In Kinglet he is a young, strong, altruistic and stereotypically heroic in character – which couldn’t be any further from the truth now. He is physically weak and mentally tested as he struggles to master his magic, whilst everybody else succeeds in trying his patience. It is hardly surprising when the rocky foundations of control crumble, given that Kristan’s Reaches lack the experience required to rule the realm in his stead.
An unexpected journey as a result of a delegation visit and an even more shocking gift is the only reason that Kristan discovers any of the ongoing turmoil; it only goes to show how tenuous his control is.
I am not going to lie – I loved seeing Kristan fall from grace in Fiskur; not that I would wish the trauma he went through on anyone, but there would have been very little scope for character development if he hadn’t. I’m not a huge fan of tropes, some more than others, and I actually love this series more for breaking the stereotype. Nobody is as perfect as Kinglet painted Kristan to be, so the newfound dark elements of his mind and perspective lend a greater depth to his character. At the moment, his all-in-all expression of negativity creates a lot of conflict and uncertainty, but I cannot help but feel it has some greater part to play later on. Who can say, maybe Daazna created the tumultuous monster that will be his undoing?
I would say it helped a great deal that I have read the previous instalments to the series only a short time ago, but I found StoneKing incredibly easy to pick up. Also, given that by the third book the reader understands the fantasy world built by the author, the pace of the book seemed quicker to me. Whilst the text was still beautifully and vividly descriptive, the need to impart detail and explanation was not so prominent and that enabled us to get on with the action. I am not one for spoilers, so you will just have to pick up the book(s) to find this out for yourself!
The one thing that surprised me about the book was the distinct lack of presence of our main antagonist, Daazna. Instead it appears that Kristan has more than one enemy and maybe their future role could become more significant than we know. Personally, I would have liked to see even one chapter dedicated to Daazna. I want to know his plans!! Even just to serve as a reminder that he is still alive!
Much like in Fiskur, we are introduced to a number of new characters. I love Serle, aforementioned “inexperienced squire”. He is only a child, bless him, but I would go so far as to say he is practically incompetent at being a squire. There were times when he irritated Kristan so much and was so deflated at the whole situation that I just wanted to mother him and tell him it was alright. I also loved Nolle and her cheeky side. Even knowing the wrath she would endure from the StoneKing, she still pushed the boundaries far more than she should have. But then she could, because he needed her Wiche power. Both of these characters made refreshing additions and I hope to see more of them in future books.
I cannot wait to see what the next instalment of the series is and what difficulties Kristan and his friends encounter. Having read the first three books and really enjoyed them, I can hand on heart say that I will be following the series through to the end, whenever that may be.
About the Author:
Donna Migliaccio is a professional stage actress with credits that include Broadway, National Tours and prominent regional theatres. She is based in the Washington, DC Metro area, where she co-founded Tony award-winning Signature Theatre and is in demand as an entertainer, teacher and public speaker. Her award-winning short story, “Yaa& The Coffins,” was featured in Thinkerbeat’s 2015 anthology The Art of Losing. Social Media: WebsiteFacebookTwitterPinterest
Roll the Dice was published on November 28th, so I think I can speak for all book bloggers in congratulating Wayne for all his hard work. You can breathe a sigh of relief because it has all paid off!
Just how hard is it to get that first draft manuscript into a published novel? I was given the opportunity to ask the author about his experience…
“Both processes: writing a novel and retaining a publisher were time-consuming, circuitous, thrilling roller-coaster rides with uncertain twists and turns. I landed on terra firma and delighted to share the emotions of those rides. I overcame the obstacles and now revel in the ultimate victory for an aspiring author—my novel Roll the Dice will be published November 28 by Fiery Seas Publishing.
My novel’s main protagonist is Tyler Sloan, a rock star who exits the stage to campaign for the United States Senate. Sloan has a complicated and difficult relationship with his father Mike, who was a nationally famous politician. The novel has plot lines with intrigue, corruption and sexual tension between Sloan and his young, attractive media advisor Bree Baker. A quick plug—the novel is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads and in selected bookstores.
The first novels I remember reading were Ian Fleming’s James Bond series. I love that genre, but the “write what you know” cliché is accurate. I have no knowledge of that world; or the nuances of crimes and police work that Michael Connelly skillfully explores in many of his novels. I do not hold the passion to create a fictional world such as Harry Potter or The Hunger Games.
I have been an attorney for more than two decades and volunteered in my first political campaign when I was 17. Before I graduated college, I was the campaign manager for a successful Los Angeles City Council campaign. I managed another victorious campaign and served on the staffs of those two Council members, including as Chief of Staff. I later served on two government commissions and in other roles in politics and government.
As an attorney, I draft legal documents, but needed guidance to write fiction. It is not a skill set taught in law school. I attended UCLA Extension courses on fiction writing. I would encourage any aspiring author to attend classes, review online material, read books or view YouTube videos of a host of tutors, my choice is best-selling author Michael Levin, who skillfully explains the writing process.
The most important recommendation is to simply keep writing. The goal is to write daily. Just keep going. I jotted down notes of interesting phrases, observations, and people I met. Exaggerate, combine, twist, mold and mangle these qualities for your novel.
Writing the book consumed years of my life. I never suffered from “writer’s block,” but my legal practice is a time-consumptive occupation. I rewrote Roll the Dice many times; it was an illusion when I thought the work was completed.
When I thought the novel was completed, I entered the manuscript in online book contests. I survived the initial cuts in Amazon’s CreateSpace contest, but did not proceed as far as I hoped. With my confidence muted, I did some research.
I went online and to the bookstore to acquire ideas on fine-tuning a novel. I rewrote it, tightened it, reduced a character or two, combined or eliminated scenes and once again, thought I was ready. The novel was completed. It was done.
My first real success was when the manuscript was named one of the year’s best unpublished manuscripts in a Kirkus Reviews contest. The novel was completed. Now it was done.
I had a fortuitous meeting with a friend, a former executive at two major studios. I described the plot and main characters and asked for his input. He suggested one substantial change; that the deceased father of my protagonist Tyler Sloan be alive and become a major character. This one change added significant conflicts throughout the book. I rewrote it again. Once again, I was now certain the novel was done.
I sought out a literary agent. Cue the drumroll— the Rejection Process began. I reminded myself that the best-selling authors of our time were rejected. John Grisham was rejected by 16 publishers and J.K. Rowling nearly matched it with 15 rejections. The Beatles were rejected numerous times. One Decca Records executive passed, and informed their manager Brian Epstein, that “guitar groups are on their way out.” Good call.
I only needed one agent and braced myself for the expected deluge of rejections. I was not disappointed. One rejection was humorous. An agent took some time to write on my query letter which was on my legal stationary, that he would, “never represent an attorney as an author.” No profanity, but his comments were laced with insults as to the honesty of my profession. That agent was likely to be pleased to reject: Grisham, David Baldacci, Scott Turow, Meg Gardiner, Linda Fairstein and countless other attorney-authors. You have to smile.
More than one agent expressed an interest and I retained New York-based, Linda Langton of the Langton Literary Agency. Linda is perfect; supportive, smart and patient. I was once again certain the novel was complete.
Linda was pleased, but believed the manuscript needed an editor to be commercially viable. After the editor’s comments, I once again rewrote Roll the Dice. One bit of advice to all aspiring authors; accept the input of a skilled professional. I gladly accepted Linda’s advice and the editor greatly enhanced the manuscript. With her guidance, the manuscript was transformed into a finished work. The novel was now ready to be published.
I was very fortunate to have a skilled literary agent who located Fiery Seas Publishing to publish my first novel. I have enjoyed a varied career in politics and law; however, the satisfaction of a publisher believing in my work ranks among my most satisfying career achievements.
I admit that even holding the book in my hand, there are times when I would revise certain sentences or phrases. However, the novel is now complete.”
About the Author:
Wayne Avrashow was the campaign manager for two successful Los Angeles City Council campaigns and a Deputy/Chief of Staff to those two elected City Council members. He served as a senior advisor for a successful city-wide referendum in the City of Los Angeles, co-authored ballot arguments on Los Angeles County-wide measures, served as Chairman for a Los Angeles County ballot measure, and was a Los Angeles government Commissioner for nearly twenty years. He currently serves as a Board Member of the Yaroslavsky Institute, a public policy institute founded by long time Southern California elected official, and now UCLA professor, Zev Yaroslavsky.
His background in politics, government, business, and law provides unique insight into the machinations and characters that populate political campaigns.
Wayne is a practicing attorney who specializes in government advocacy, real estate, and business law. Formerly, he was an officer in two real estate development firms. As a lawyer-lobbyist, he has represented clients before numerous California municipalities and in Nevada and Idaho. He has lectured at his law school and taught at Woodbury University in Los Angeles. He has also authored numerous op-ed articles that appeared in daily newspapers, legal, business, and real estate publications. In addition, he is the author of a self-published book for the legal community, Success at Mediation—10 Strategic Tools for Attorneys.
Today I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in a blog tour, arranged by Fiery Seas Publishing. As a part of the tour, I am glad to provide you with an excerpt from Fiskur by Donna Migliaccio, which has just been published this month!
Fiskur by Donna Migliaccio November 7th, 2017 Fantasy The Gemeta Stone Book 2 Fiery Seas Publishing, LLC
With his family’s talisman in his possession, Kristan Gemeta is ready to face the Wichelord Daazna – but he has no inkling of the scope of Daazna’s power, nor the depths of his hatred.
With the recovery of his family’s protective talisman, Kristan Gemeta has found hope, courage – and perhaps even the first stirrings of love. With the aid of Heather Demitt, her band of rebels, a shipload of Northern brigands and the legendary Kentavron, he readies himself to face the Wichelord Daazna. But neither he nor his comrades realize the strength of Daazna’s power and hatred. The Wichelord’s first blow comes from a direction Kristan least expects, with horrific, lasting consequences.
FISKUR EXCERPT #4
From Chapter 17
Kristan swung. It was an efficient sideways blow that severed the boy’s head and sent it flying. For a breath or two the boy’s body stayed upright, twitching and spurting blood, then fell back. Kristan stood over him. His knees buckled for an instant, but then he recovered. He stooped and carefully wiped his sword on the boy’s blanket, then straightened up and looked at his friends. “That’s all,” he said, and sheathed his sword.
Melissa’s hands went to her mouth. Nigel made a sound of revulsion and averted his eyes. “Astéria mou –” Torrin started to say.
Kristan’s face twisted into a snarl. “Do you object? Should I have let him go, so he could tell Daazna where to find us?”
“He was just a boy –” Melissa whimpered.
“You chose to come with me. All of you. No one forced you. No one ordered you.”
Olaf put out one hand, as if to pat him on the shoulder. “Now, Fiskur –”
Kristan threw up his own hand to ward of Olaf’s touch. “Don’t touch me. I’m sick of being mollycoddled; sick of being challenged. I will do what I must. If any of you don’t like it, then you can go your own way, do you hear me?”
He wheeled and strode off. Silenced by his outburst, they followed him back to their horses, tethered some distance away. They mounted up and continued north through the night, wordless and miserable.
As the sun rose, the woods around them grew unpleasantly still. Heather was sticky with sweat but left her hood on and her sleeves rolled down against the biting flies that swarmed around them. Near noon they paused to eat and rest, but no one had much appetite, and the flies and heat made sleeping impossible.
“How much further?” Torrin asked as they broke camp again.
“A day and a half…maybe two,” Kristan murmured thickly. He dragged himself into Malvo’s saddle. “We lost time when we doubled back.” Sun and shadow…shadow and sun…
As they journeyed on, Heather closed her eyes against the flickering light. The muffled clop of hooves, the creak of saddles and the jingling of tack blended into a monotonous drone; half asleep, she thought of O Tópos, its vineyards and sun-warmed clusters of grapes, orchards full of meaty, succulent cherries and crisp sweet melons on the vine. She thought of walking barefoot on the cool green grass of the promenade; she remembered Kristan’s hand stroking her hair. How long ago it seems, she thought, a lifetime ago. We were children, we were pure. Daazna took that from all of us. We’ll never be that innocent again.
Tears stung behind her closed lids. One squeezed free and rolled down her left cheek, and as it did, she felt a breath of cool air along its track. She opened her eyes. Daylight was fading. A gust of wind rattled the leaves overhead. Beyond them the sky was thick with scudding greenish clouds.
“Storm,” Olaf said. “You can smell it coming in from the west.”
“How soon?” Torrin asked over his shoulder.
A spat of rain landed on Heather’s hand, another on her face.
“Right now,” Olaf said.
I hope you all enjoyed that little snippet of the book! If you would like further details of the book, the links are provided below! Buy Links: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ iBooks About the Author:
Donna Migliaccio is a professional stage actress with credits that include Broadway, National Tours and prominent regional theatres. She is based in the Washington, DC Metro area, where she co-founded Tony award-winning Signature Theatre and is in demand as an entertainer, teacher and public speaker. Her award-winning short story, “Yaa & The Coffins,” was featured in Thinkerbeat’s 2015 anthology The Art of Losing. Social Media: WebsiteFacebookTwitterPinterest