Author of the Day – John Holt

JohnHi John, thanks for taking the time to answer a few of my questions. You’ve been here before, but I’m glad to see you return.

Hi Lucy, it’s good to be back here and thank you for the invite.

I’m curious, with summer coming will you be lounging in the garden, or are you more of an active person and will you go on walks and such?

Well, to be honest I’m not a very active person. The past few years have not been great from a health point of view I’m afraid. Ten years ago I had a heart attack. My heart is Ok but I suffer terrible headaches every week or so. Then two years ago I was diagnosed with a cancer. Well, I’m glad to say that the cancer is being kept under control, but I have injections every twelve weeks which aren’t exactly pleasant. Anyway enough moaning. I will certainly be out in the garden. We are also members of the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) and one of the RHS gardens is located about 8 miles away, so we shall certainly be going there. Furthermore this part of Essex is a beautiful part of the country, so we shall certainly get out as much as my health allows.

That’s good to hear, John. Stay healthy and writing I would say, and hopefully lots of the latter in the garden.

Do you like to spend time with friends discussing all sorts, and if so what? Or are you more of a recluse?

Certainly I like to spend time with friends. We discuss all kinds of things, politics, world affairs, local events, films, TV programmes. Never sport. Football, and rugby, and worst of all, F1 motor racing, leaves me cold. I don’t mind my own company either, and spend a lot of time writing, or promoting.

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?

Well, I don’t drink beer, or spirits. An odd white wine or a sherry perhaps. I do, however, like my coffee. As for food do you count chocolate, because I do like a square or three of Chocolate.

What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?

When it comes to food I have to say that I’m not wildly adventurous. I don’t like Chinese or Indian food. I don’t like anything spicy, or hot. Chillies, and mustard are no-no. For like plain cooking, roast potatoes, roast lamb, chicken, turkey. I like good old fish and chips. Pizza occasionally, and I do a rather nice home-made lasagna. Courgettes, mushrooms, carrots, parsnips, tomatoes, onions, all go into the mix with Quorn mince. Plenty of white sauce, and plenty of shredded cheese. Add Soya sauce into the mix, and voila..

Sounds like an easy recipe to me. I’ll give it a whirl and let you know. 🙂 

What is the title of the book you would like to talk about, and can you give us a small taster of it?

image[1]The book featured today is “Epidemic”, the third to feature my private detective Tom Kendall. A drug is being developed by a corrupt pharmaceutical company. It is decided to test the drug in a small South American country where controls are not so stringent. Things go wrong and people die. A cover up is put in place. A young reporter is found dead. The evidence shows quite clearly that it was an accident: a simple, dreadful accident. That is the finding of the coroner and the local police. Furthermore, there were two witnesses. They saw the whole thing. But was it an accident, or was it something more sinister? Against a backdrop of a viral epidemic slowly spreading from Central America, a simple case soon places Kendall up against one of the largest drug companies in the country.


There was really only the one major news story that Monday morning. Oh, certainly, there was other news that day; there was no doubt about that. In fact, that weekend had been busier than usual. There had been a major landslide in the northern part of the country following a period of prolonged heavy rain. There had been a substantial amount of damage, but fortunately nobody had been hurt. One hundred and thirty miles to the south, in San Jose, trade discussions with Nicaragua had, at last, restarted after weeks of postponement and delay. On the labor market the Minister of Labor had announced higher than expected unemployment figures, causing widespread protests. And, last but not least, oil workers at the Attico Plant were threatening to take strike action for better working conditions.
Certainly, there was other news, but nothing was quite like that particular news item that dominated all the front pages on that day. Although every newspaper in the country ran the story, it was the influential “La Republica”, based in San Jose, which had broken the news first. The front-page banner headline simply read “Mysterious Illness Strikes” in thick, black letters, almost three inches high. But those three simple words graphically told the whole story, the news report that followed simply filled in the details, such as there were.
“Three people, two men and a young woman, were admitted into the local hospital at Punta Rojas, in the early hours of the morning,” it read. “It is understood that all three were suffering from respiratory problems, and all had a rash to the upper part of the body. A series of tests have been carried out on all three patients, in order to try to determine the cause of the sickness. The results of those tests are still awaited. Preliminary results are not expected until late tomorrow afternoon at the earliest. All three patients are said to be in a stable, but critical condition. An official spokesperson for the hospital said that at this stage it was far too soon to comment on the actual cause of the sickness. However, the symptoms were generally considered to be not too dissimilar to influenza. The spokesperson went on to say that the illness could be due to a previously unknown strain of influenza, or possibly, a mutation. The illness has preliminarily been dubbed Rican Flu by the hospital staff.
It is understood that the Attico Oil Company, which is based in the port of Almeria, employs all three people. It has been suggested that a chemical leak at the oil plant may be the cause of the illness, at least in part. The Health Ministry has said that at the present time there is no evidence to support this rumor. It also stresses that at no time was there any danger to the general public, and that there is no cause for alarm. The plant has now been evacuated, except for key personnel. The area has been completely sealed off. The authorities are stressing that the situation is now fully under control. Emergency teams, including chemical specialists, are currently on the site carrying out a thorough investigation. In the meantime the public are being advised to wash their hands, and, as far as possible, to keep away from crowds. Furthermore they are being told to only make essential journeys. Anyone feeling unwell should take two panadol tablets, drink plenty of fluids, keep warm, and rest.”
In the later editions there were no further details regarding the sickness. There was, however, a small additional news item regarding the alleged oil leak. “Rumors continue to spread regarding a possible oil leak at the Attico Plant. However, a spokesperson for Attico Oil has subsequently denied that there has been any chemical leak at the plant, as previously reported. The plant has been thoroughly checked and no problems have been reported. It is understood, from Interior Ministry sources, that the plant is to remain closed for the next few days at least, and possibly as long as until the middle of next week. It was also reported that there have been no new cases of the mystery illness.”

* * *

Epidemic” will be on kindle Countdown from May 8 until May 15. The price will be 99 cents. Increasing to $1-99 on May 11, and then back to the original price of $2-99 May 16.

Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

I haven’t so far. I try to keep the title short and snappy, and relevant.

What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?

Marketing is by far the worst part of being a self published author. Sadly I cannot afford to pay for a major advert in a book magazine, or a newspaper. I use Twitter and Facebook a lot, some might say too much, but it has to be done. I am fortunate to know a few friends who blog (present company included) who are able and willing to provide some publicity for me. At present most of my sales are coming through Kindle Countdown, but that lasts for a few short days. So, if you have any ideas please let me know.

Do lot’s of blog appearances, like this one, and get on Google+!

And can you tell me something none has ever heard before from you? I can’t help it, I just love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

You are a mischevious little …. I hate to disappoint but I really don’t have any dark, or dirty little secrets. As for something no one has ever heard before, well for some years I was the Chair of our local branch of the RSPCA. The branch actually ran a rescue centre taking in not only stray dogs and cats, but foxes, rabbits, horses, swans, you name it. At that time I was a Chartered Surveyor operating my own practice. I did a lot of architectural work, designing extensions, new houses, and the various buildings at the rescue centre.

Well I can’t think of anything else, except to thank you once again for your support and friendship.

You are most welcome, John. It’s about time I get around to reading the books you’ve written. I’ve got a couple, but I’m slowly getting through my TBR pile and soon enough I’ll reach yours.

Let’s remind the readers once more that Epidemic is on Kindle Countdown at the moment for only £0.99 in the UK, and $0.99 in the US.

 

Featured Author – Tracy Lawson

2013_12_17_Tracy_Portrait_69(1)Tracy Lawson is my guest today and she will tell us all sorts about everything and anything. 🙂 This is one author who isn’t at a loss for words!

Hi Tracy, welcome. Make yourself comfortable because I’ve got some questions for you. I’ve heard you’ve always wanted to be a writer. A statement most writers can claim as theirs, but why? Why do you want to write, or rather why did you want to write?

Lucy, this first question was by far the hardest to answer. Why did I want to write? When I was very young, grandmother was my sitter while my parents both worked. During the day, my grandparents and my uncle were around to read to me, and in the evenings, my parents read to me, too. I memorized all my picture books long before I was old enough to actually read them. Suffice to say, I was very focused on books and stories. I managed to completely ignore numbers until I started kindergarten.

Fast forward through my school years, during which I read voraciously and garnered praise for my writing. I was sure that I would someday be an author. I had notebooks full of childish stories, but somewhere in my adolescence the flow of ideas slowed to a trickle. In college, I took several creative writing classes in which I did not excel, but instead struggled to find my voice. I didn’t have anything to say, and I feared my dream of being a writer was slipping away.

Why did I want the insecurity, the angst, the highs and the lows of writing that sometimes occur within an hour of each other? I have no idea. All I know is that flow opened back up when I was in my mid-forties, I jumped on the opportunity, and worked harder than I’ve ever worked to attain a goal. Seeing my first book on the shelf in a brick-and-mortar store was…well, let’s just say the security camera probably caught me doing the happy dance in the aisle. Now, as I await the release of my first novel, I realize I had no choice. I had to write, and I can’t seem to stop.

If you weren’t an author now, what else would you be

If I weren’t writing, I’d probably teach tap dancing. Seriously. I’ve been a dance instructor and a choreographer for twenty years, and although I no longer teach in a studio setting, I still choreograph the musicals at Bexley High School, my daughter’s alma mater. I’ve done sixteen shows at Bexley, and love that I can stay in touch with that creative side of myself. If I had to choose something completely new and different, I’d want to restore old houses.

What do you feel are the qualities that earn a book an award?

The books that earn awards entertain and enchant us. They have compelling, well-crafted plots and action that keeps us turning the pages. Award-winning books have characters worthy of our concern, whether we love them or hate them, and writing that draws us so completely into the experience that we cease to be aware of the writing itself.

Can you explain what a contact-paper bound book is?

When I was in elementary school, we were encouraged to write and illustrate little books. contactpaper bound booksLegions of stay-at-home mothers volunteered to type the stories and bind them by machine-stitching them onto cardboard that had been covered with patterned contact paper or scraps of wallpaper. The finished books were meant to be keepsakes. I still have a few around here somewhere!

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or in your life?

I’ve never been a coffee drinker, so none of the writer memes about coffee apply—though I do drink tea when it’s cold outside. My go-to snack when I’m writing or revising is roasted sunflower seeds and diet Dr Pepper. The floor under my desk is always littered with shells!

What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?

I’m not much of a chef. My husband does most of the cooking because I worked evenings for many years, but I do make a mean chicken enchilada quiche. Here’s the recipe:

2 refrigerated pie shells

4 eggs

½ cup milk or half and half

1 ½ cups crushed tortilla chips

12.5 oz. can chunck chicken breast in water, drained

8 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese

4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

4.5 oz can diced green chiles

1 cup medium picante sauce

½ teaspoon salt

Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350

Beat eggs and milk together, then stir in other ingredients, divide mixture and pour into two pie shells. Sprinkle tops with pepper

Cover edges of pie crust with aluminum foil and bake for 55-65 minutes or until crust is golden brown and toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.

Let stand ten minutes before serving

Garnish with salsa and sour cream. Best with margaritas!!

Nom! Sounds like one to try myself.

What is the title of the book you would like to talk about, and can you give us a small taster of it?

Counteract is my first novel. It’s a coming of age thriller about a girl, a guy, the terrorist attack that brings them together, and their race to expose a conspiracy that could destroy their country. It’s scheduled for release August 2014.

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The Office of Civilian Safety and Defense, created in the wake of a series of terrorist attacks on the US in the late 2010s, has implemented Restrictions to protect the people—no gatherings in places like stadiums or shopping malls. No public grocery stores, where food might have been tampered with. No personal vehicles which could be used as weapons. The OCSD bullies the executive and legislative branches of the government into agreeing to whatever new Restrictions they deem necessary, because, after all, “it’s a small price to pay for your safety.”At the opening of the story, the OCSD announces that a deadly poison has been released into the atmosphere, where it literally hangs over everyone’s heads until the terrorists responsible choose to activate and detonate it. Mass casualties are expected—unless everyone immediately begins to take the Counteractive System of Defense drug (CSD). Three drops of the antidote, ingested daily, will neutralize the poison. Tommy and Careen, the eighteen year-old protagonists, are too young to remember life before the Restrictions, and of course they queue up to receive their bottles of the antidote. But that’s when their troubles begin.

Careen’s worked hard to win a scholarship to college. Why is it that, when she takes CSD, she has strange hallucinations, forgets to attend class, and wakes up in unfamiliar places? Tommy’s recuperating from serious injuries sustained in the accident that claimed his parents’ lives months before. But when he takes CSD, he neglects his physical therapy, spirals into despair, and believes he’ll never get well.

Both teens flounder in their confusion until they meet—on the day of the feared attack. Careen’s run out of her antidote, and Tommy shares his last dose with her, even though doing so could potentially hasten his own death.

Did you have any difficulty coming up with the title?

The book had several other titles before I hit upon Counteract. I like the title because it’s a verb that suggests the many twists and turns in the story. Early on, CSD is touted as a way to counteract the effects of the toxins in the air. Later, Tommy and Careen have to figure out a way to counteract the conspiracy that threatens everyone in the country.

Is there anything you don’t like about being an author?

I love being an author, and I love talking with students about books and writing. Sometimes I’d like to be able to ask for help when I’m wrestling with a plot issue, but ultimately, the answer has to come from me.

What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?

I love to talk to people about writing and books. If I could sell each copy individually, I would, but that’s pretty impractical, so I worked with a great web designer to create a website dedicated to the book Counteract long before I found a publisher. Visitors to the site can download the first chapter of Counteract and also get a look behind the scenes. There’s a playlist of music that reminds me of the book, photos from the day we shot the cover art featuring the glowing vial of CSD, and my blog, where I tell about my experiences writing Counteract, and also write articles about YA and dystopian books. When I post to the blog it goes out on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, and there’s a noticeable spike in hits to the website.

Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written for a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!

Why didn’t I write today? I was answering all these interview questions! Just kidding. That’s not my real answer. How about this scenario, which actually happened earlier this month:

(Wake up at 8:00 am) Woohoo! I can write for a few hours until lunch rehearsal at school.

(Check email) Snow day? Nooooooo….

(Look outside) Five inches of new snow.

(9:30 am Call theatre teacher, who was at school until 2:00 am the night before painting scenery) “I’m only here for the week! I had a lunch rehearsal with Rachel and William to learn their featured tap dance before we set the big chorus number in rehearsal after school…We can’t rehearse in the building until the snow stops and the superintendent clears us? OMG. Let me call my old studio and see if we can book space in the tap studio there.”
Text students: Can u meet me at BalletMet if I can get studio space? That way we can learn Mr. Cladwell feature before this afternoon.

William: Yes

Rachel: Can I get a ride?

William: I’ll come get u

(10:00 am Telephone dance studio and speak to new receptionist) “Hey! It’s Tracy. I used to teach tap there, and I was wondering if Studio E is available for an hour, oh, about 1 pm?”

“Miss Pat does the scheduling and she’s snowed in at home. I can call her and see if that’s ok.”

(Get dressed and wait for phone call that never comes. Go out to shovel front walk. See condo association fees are actually good for something as front walk has already been shoveled.)

(12:00 noon Get call from theatre teacher) Superintendent says we can practice at school! Hooray! And dress rehearsal for the middle school show that opens tomorrow night is also a go!

(Text kids and tell them to meet me at school)

(Leave at 12:15. Well, almost) Get to garage only to find condo association snowplow guy has dumped eight foot mountain of snow partially blocking my garage door. Thank my stars my next door neighbor’s car is gone. Make 20-point turn in 1997 Chevy Blazer to angle out of garage. Slip and slide down secondary roads to school. What should be a ten minute drive, tops, takes twenty. Park as close to curb as possible and break path through virgin snow to high school’s front door. Swipe ID card through reader. Access denied. Stand alone in snow and curse the polar vortex and cards with fauty magnetic strips. Students arrive. All stand in snow and curse the polar vortex and cards with faulty magnetic strips, then slog through the virgin snow until we find a way into the building. Kids lead me on circuitous route through upstairs hallways to avoid security gates. Arrive at rehearsal room in school 1:15 pm. Learn tap dance.

(2:15 pm) Oh man. It’s only an hour til the chorus shows up to learn the rest of this number. Did I really forget to eat? Decide to go to deli short distance away. Deli is closed because of snow. Continue down sloppy road to Subway, amid heavy traffic. Travel approximately two miles in 35 minutes. What was I thinking?

(3:00 pm) Order sandwich to go. No time to sit and relax while I eat. Arrive back at school late for my own rehearsal.

(3:30-5:30 pm) Conduct choreography rehearsal for 40 students amid bites of turkey sub. Epic dance number involves rolling office chairs, tap dancing on a desk, money bags, scientists with goggles and beakers, and big kick line finish. Thank everyone for coming. Truly surprised and grateful that, despite the adverse weather conditions, only three kids were missing from this important rehearsal.

(5:45 pm) Is it really that late? Dress rehearsal for the other show starts in 30 minutes? Find emergency Power Bar in bottom of dance bag. Consume with diet Dr Pepper.

(6:15 pm) Settle in to seat in theatre to watch fifty fabulous sixth, seventh, and eighth graders dancing and singing in All Shook Up. Dancing looks almost exactly like I hoped it would.

(10 pm) Scrape new snow off car.

Drive home. Find parking space, as there’s no way I can get past that pile of snow into my garage.

Collapse in bed.

Wow, that sounds like one heck of a reason I totally believe! 

Okay, now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want to blab about. Make me laugh, cry, or even envious. Tell me something no on ehas ever heard from you. Hehehe, love those dirty little secrets, real or make believe!

Given the choice, I’d rather make you laugh! Wow, it’s hard to come up with something no one has ever heard from me before. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m rarely at a loss for words. I think romantic scenes are the most excruciatingly difficult part of writing for teens. I obsess over them and try to get everything just exactly right. But my husband loves when I’m working on one…says he can always tell.

Thank you Tracy, that was it for today. I do hope you’ll want to come back in future if you have any news to share. For now I’ll leave the readers with where they can find you and  that first chapter to download. It’s not that hard to find, it’s Tracy’s website TracyLawsonBooks.com.

 

Featured Author – Matt Johnson

matt johnsonHi Matt, Thanks for taking the time to pop in and answer some of my questions. Before we talk shop I’d like to offer the readers an insight into the psyche of the author by posing some personal questions. Is that okay?

I know you’ve had a bit of an adventurous life in your uniform days, without going into detail, can you tell us what shocked you the most?

The evening in 1984, when I switched on the television after coming home from the Libyan Peoples Bureau attack. I had escorted an injured officer to hospital. It was only when I got home that I found out that it was a personal friend of mine, Yvonne Fletcher.

That affected me emotionally. I witnessed very unpleasant scenes at bombings, car accident etc, but that was the one and only time that I lost a friend.

Which uniform suited you best? Police or soldier?

Police. According to my mum, I look better in blue. Besides, have you any idea how much effort goes into keeping No.1 Army dress looking tip-top?

Hahaha, no I don’t but I can imagine it requires a lot of polishing and ironing, not really my cuppa. 🙂 Would things have been less stressful could you have seen yourself serving until your pensioners date, or would you picked up writing anyway?

I’m not really sure. What I can say is that joining the police was something of an accident. After I left the Army, I met up for lunch with a mate who had just joined the Met after being in the Marines. He showed me his pay chit. Three times as much as we had been earning as 2Lts. I thought, ‘why not’ and decided to sign up until I could think of something more interesting. Leaving early did present me with an opportunity and a stimulus to write when I started doing notes to describe symptoms of stress I was experiencing, incidents that caused me discomfort and flashbacks and other things that was receiving counseling for. Becoming a writer was also something of an accident, as it was my counselor that prompted me to start a book and my brother who pushed me into independent publishing. So, to answer the question, I doubt if I would have started writing, as it took a particular combination of circumstances to create the stimulus and opportunity for it to happen.

Was it hard to adjust to ‘normal’ life after being in the service? What is ‘normal’ life according to you?

The longer you are in the services, the harder it is to adjust. Much has been written about it but suffice to say, the change in attitude to work, discipline and many other factors is very different in civilian life. Personally, I was a bit of a ‘square peg’ in the services and never really abandoned my civilian view of life so, for me, the adjustment wasn’t too hard. But, ask others, and they may say different. They may say that I changed and I couldn’t see it myself. As to ‘what is normal’ well, that’s very hard to define. There are so many parameters within the range of normality that is acceptable to people but suffice to say, I still put on my shoes one at a time, still like to walk my dogs and find that I need more time every day than I ever seem to find. I work hard at not having a ‘normal’ life. I like to push boundaries, try things, pursue hobbies and interests and get as much from life as I can. Old cliché I know, but I do plan to arrive in heaven on my Harley with a glass of wine in one hand and a bar of chocolate in the other screaming ‘wow, what a ride.’

Now that’s a goal I can relate to. Stick to this and you can’t go wrong. Can you ever see yourself free of the live you’ve lived, or will that always play a major part in all your future projects?

My histotory is, and always will be, a major part of my life and has left me with old mates, memories and experiences that will always be with me. The services moulded me, made me what I am and, for better or worse, set me on a path that I now follow.

Enough with the chit-chat, because you’ve come to talk about writing and your work. So,what is the title of the book you would like to talk about, and can you give us a small taster of it?

The book is called ‘Wicked Game’.

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AMAZON | iTUNES | KOBO 

It fits loosely into the genre of crime thriller. It’s set in 2001 and is centred on a police inspector called Robert Finlay.

Age is catching up with Finlay. As a police officer on the Royalty Protection team based in London he is looking forward to returning to uniform policing and a less stressful life with his new family.

But fate has plans for Finlay. His past is about to come back to haunt him.

When a fellow policeman is killed in a bomb explosion and a second is gunned down on his own driveway, Finlay discovers that both of the murdered policemen are former Army colleagues from the SAS Regiment. His family learn that he is not the ordinary man they once thought.

Finlay isn’t hero, just a survivor. He isn’t a ‘Jack Reacher’ just an ordinary bloke, of the kind that might live next door to you. The story is of how an ordinary man deals with an extra-ordinary threat from his past

Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

Yes… and No. Wicked Game is the third title. Although I started with a working title, the new one came about from the dialogue between characters. I liked the title, and at the time there was no other book in the genre with it. Since WG has done so well, I have noticed several independent authors have also used the title. Imitation is a form of flattery, I suppose, but it’s not something I would personally choose to do. Indeed, I think it is incumbent on an author to check their title and not to imitate others to try and bring search results to themselves

If you would have to change the genre in order to be able to publish it, what would it be then? i.e. would you conform your work to suit the market?

No, I wouldn’t change it to suit another market. My writing comes from me, if people like it, that’s great. If not, then I am not destined to be an author. The reviews and feedback have both astounded and humbled me. It’s really quite surreal to think that so many people have gained so much enjoyment from my work. To realise that people have given up several days of their lives to read my work, and have kept reading as they have enjoyed it is an absolute treasure of an experience to me. That said, WG is more than simply a thriller. It is a story about friendship, family, betrayal and loyalty, as well as being a thriller involving life-threatening adventure and a plot that should, hopefully keep you guessing until the end.

Can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that tricky chapter (or para) right?

No celebration, but a feeling that it is right. Often, I write and re-write, work and re-work. I read back aloud, and only then do I get a sense of whether it works. I find I know when it doesn’t and, when I think its right, I just keep my fingers crossed that others will agree.

What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?

Without any doubt, twitter has been a Godsend to independent authors. But the advent of the e-book has created the opportunity to get your work into the public eye. I’m no marketing expert, I simply used the kindle direct programme to start with and then switched to smashwords after a few months. I think that it is important for a new face to build up a readership and to be patient. If your product is good, word will spread, albeit slowly. You can help this along using twitter but you cannot force people to read your offerings and, if they do, they had better not be disappointed. People prepared to give new indie authors time and to read their work are few and far between as they expect the best to come through the mainstream channels. Now you and I may know that there is some fantastic indie talent out there, but the public want be in a position that they are not going to wasting their time when they open up a new book. For me, I think that the Amazon review system has paid immense dividends. The system has it’s flaws but it does provide a means for the public to guage whether a book is worth their precious time. The cover needs to be attractive, the synopsis exciting and the reviews encouraging. Given all three, people don’t mind reaching into their pockets to give you a try.

What is the most disgusting thing you’ve ever come across in your writing career?

I think it was when I was dragged from the naive view of an amateur writer into the commercial world of writing. At that point I learned about authors who manipulate the review systems by using ‘sock puppets’, fake profiles, and how it is possible to buy 5* reviews through a couple of companies operating outside of the UK. Like most starters, my indie publication was followed by a few reviews written by friends and family. That said, my family are pretty straight and made it clear to me that they wouldn’t positively review the book if they didn’t like it. After that, I was in the hands of the public. As the book started to gain reviews I then found myself being approached by ‘authors’ who would ask for a ‘quid pro quo’ review exchange if I would give them a great review, they would do the same for me. I always decline. Just lately, maintaining that position has resulted in some unpleasant reviews from people. I do wonder what motivates people to be so unpleasant, but when I read articles where some of our best known and most successful authors have admitted to creating ‘sock puppet’ profiles to rubbish the work of other authors, then I learned that it it more widespread than you might think. 

It does disgust me that people would stoop so low, but human nature being as it is, it shouldn’t really surprise me.

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?

Tea…. On the hour, every hour. Well, maybe not so much now, when it dawned on me how much I was drinking. I also adore cider.

Yes, since coming to the UK I have discovered the pleasure of drinking cider too. What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?

Hmmm…. Very eclectic taste and not much of a cook. My curries seem to go down well, though. I like to use natural ingredients rather than packeted, and yes, you can have the recipe… one day.

Okay, thank you. I’ll have to come up with my own curry recipe then.

Now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

That will happen over a cider, not before. But one thing I do hope for is to make enough of a name for myself that I can help to do something about the state of PTSD treatment in the UK. There are so many little groups doing there bit but no umbrella organization and no concerted, centralized, consistent system in place to do our level best to help the very large numbers of people, from all walks of life, that suffer without receiving appropriate help.

I’ve been very fortunate with my book, but must recognize that if it didn’t cut the mustard, it wouldn’t have had the reception it has. It was read by a couple of well-known authors (no name drops here) who out me onto their agent. I’ve now signed with him, done some additional work on the MS, worked with him on a biography and synopsis and now he has just started to pitch it to the publishers. It’s an exciting time, but there are still no guarantees, it could all fall at the last hurdle. We will see…

Thank you Matt for answering all these questions. I hope you will succeed, and when you do please come back to me and let me do another round of grilling on you. 🙂

For now I would like to present the readers with a sample of the book. (Thank you for the signed paperback, I will cherish that and of course read it. At the moment it’s at the top of the stack. i.e. next to be read.)

Right, for those who are curious and would like to read more, there’s a whole excerpt below.

British Airways Flight BA 783 taxied slowly to a stop. As the passengers started to gather their hand luggage, the stewardesses released the safety catches to open the airplane to the world outside. Bright sunlight blazed in through the door. The cool, artificially chilled air inside was quickly replaced by heat and humidity.
This was Kalikata, India, at the start of the monsoon season. On the runway it was over a hundred degrees. Inside the plane the temperature quickly climbed.
Jed Garrett and Mac Blackwood were amongst the first passengers to start the sweaty journey down the steps to the waiting airport bus. Both men wore jackets and ties. They looked uncomfortable.
“Fucking hell Jed, what is that smell?”
Garrett had smelled Kalikata before. Sweat, exhaust fumes and local spices combined to produce an aroma that was particular to India. It was a pungent, musty smell that some loved but many found hard to bear.
“That’s the smell of India, Mac. Get used to it, we’re gonna be here a while.” Jed was American. His companion was a Scot.
The men boarded the airport bus. Garrett could see that his friend was getting impatient. He was anxious to get to their hotel and get their business underway. Garrett smiled. His friend was just going to have to adjust to the slower pace of life here. The heat was the problem. That, and the humidity. Put the two factors together and you soon stopped any ideas of hard work or doing things quickly. Mac Blackwood was used to the windswept, chilly streets of Glasgow. Garrett was from Florida. He was used to humidity and he had been to India many times before. This was Mac’s first trip.
The two men were instructors, brought in to teach their specialist subjects. They had been hired at rates many teachers could only dream of. But then not many teachers could teach the subjects that these men were experts in. Inside a week they would be in the mountains of Kashmir showing their students how to plant mines, lay booby traps, destroy tanks and, of course, the many other uses that plastic explosive could be put to. Garrett and Blackwood were soldiers of fortune, mercenaries. Former Special Forces soldiers from differing parts of the globe, united through the use of their life skills to make a buck.
The bus returned them to the air-conditioned atmosphere of the arrivals hall. Mac stared through the windows whilst they waited for their luggage.
“No wonder they call this the black hole of Calcutta.” Blackwood pointed through the window to the crowds of poverty stricken who stood waiting to try and beg from, or sell to, the arriving travellers. There were hundreds of them. Men, women and children of all ages. Kids with filthy hands, blackened nails and faces with puppy-dog eyes chased around begging small change from the tourists.
“I fuckin’ hate this place already.” Blackwood turned away from the window. “Ach, fer Christ sake. Look at the state of that kit.” Blackwood pointed to the uniforms of the soldiers who milled around the airport concourse trying to look efficient.
Garrett was starting to get tired of his friend’s constant moaning. He hailed a taxi. As the driver quickly took their bags, children surrounded them. Tiny open hands were extended in hope.
“Gimme dollar, gimme dollar.”
One youngster held up a tatty, soiled copy of Penthouse. “You buy, you buy,” he called.
Mac Blackwood reached for his pocket. His travelling companion was wiser and more cynical. Giving just one some cash would mean another fifty blocking your way. They had a meeting to get to and they needed to get away from the airport. Garret shook his head as he grabbed Blackwood’s arm.
“Oberoi Hotel.” Garrett gave their destination to the driver. Blackwood had to prise children’s fingers from the door handle before he could join Garrett in the back. As they accelerated away, stained and grimy hands smacked incessantly on the windows of the car.
In the relative privacy of the taxi the noise and bustle of the airport faded away behind them.
“Over three million of those kids die ever year in this country from diseases caused by poverty. Help one, they’ll all want a piece of you,” said Garret.
Blackwood simply nodded. Not helping a needy kid didn’t sit comfortably with him.
They had been travelling for only a moment when the taxi started to slow.
“What now?” Blackwood turned to ask. The taxi was stopping to let a cow cross the road.
“Cows are sacred here Mac. Just be patient.” Garrett did his best to calm his excitable friend.
At that moment the front passenger door swung open. A filthy teenager in a simple shirt and trousers had jumped in for a ride. The first thing Blackwood noticed was the smell. Garrett noticed the holdall the kid carried.
“American?” The kid smiled as he turned to ask them the question.
“Canadian,” Garrett lied. Canadians were popular everywhere.
“Have a nice day.”
The last thing Jed Garrett saw was two wires that stuck out from the side of the bag the kid was carrying. As the boy pressed the wires together the car was torn apart by the resulting explosion.
Debris rained down. Even before the smoke began to clear, barefooted men clawed and fought over the Westerners’ luggage. Some gawped at the scorched and mutilated figures that hung from the wrecked car.Nobody tried to help them.

If that has tickled your reading muscle, you can get your copy at:

AMAZON KINDLE AND PAPERBACK | iTUNES | KOBO 

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If you want to follow Matt on his journey you can find him online at his website.

The Tegen Cave by Inge-Lise Goss

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AMAZON | Silver Tongue Press

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Let me tell you in short what The Tegen Cave is about.

After running from her boyfriend’s powerful organized crime family, Sara Jones starts a new life in a new town. But when people around her start dying from poisonous spider bites after she receives a mysterious package with a spider concealed inside, she fears the family has found her. Life takes an even more bizarre turn when she seems to be not only immune to the spider venom, but also surrounded by a sinister group of people using spiders to incapacitate their prey. Even her new boyfriend starts acting suspiciously. Just who can she trust?

Then to make matters worse Sara’s twenty-fifth birthday approaches, and her dark heritage begins to emerge. She is forced to make a life-or-death decision. And somehow, she must find a way to deal with the crime family.

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I-L Of course I’m going to tell you a bit about the author

Inge-Lise Goss was born in Denmark, raised in Utah and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Utah. She is a Certified Public Accountant and worked in that field for over twenty years. She now lives in the foothills of Red Rock Canyon with her husband and their dog, Bran, where she spends most of her time in her den writing stories dictated by her muse. When she’s not pounding away on the keyboard she can be found reading, rowing, or trying to perfect her golf game.

 That is in a nutshell what the book and its author are about. If that made you curious, you can follow Inge-Lise on her website, Silver Tongue PressFacebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Review Yucatan Dead by D.V. Berkom

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AMAZON | B&N | iTUNES | SMASHWORDS

This very witty, and skilful written chick-lit, crime, romance novel had me hooked from the start. It not only shows a woman on the run, but one that knows how to capture the reader and pull her (me) into her world where her adventures are very real.

This author knows how to use words to create real-life situations, even the ones most of us will never experience. Situations that make us hold our breath, sigh in relief and laugh at the characters as they are very human.

The protagonist has her dark side, as the antagonists have their good sides, although one of them is very easy to dislike. It only shows that DV Berkom is a true artist, she knows how to create characters that make us want to know about their life and adventures. Yes, most believable characters that hold the attention and make us root for them.

None of the dialogue is at any point contrived, it has the right amount of serious, humour, and normal foot-in-it awkwardness.

The scenery, and narration, is used to show us what our imagination fills in with details. What I mean is that the author gives us enough detail to set the scene, but never goes overboard in descriptions. A perfect balance between description to show, and room for the reader’s imagination.

I read this book as if watching an action movie with a great, female lead. There’s a love interest, action, a touch of sadness and lots of joy, even with all the things the main character encounters.

All in all a great four star read!