Monday 27 June 2016

Blogival - "Attack at Dawn" by Ron Cope

Book Blurb (from Goodreads): On March 1, 1940, Adolf Hitler ordered the invasion of Norway. Having swept across Europe at a terrifying pace, the Nazi assault on Scandinavia was designed to secure the valuable source of iron ore being delivered by rail from Sweden to the Norwegian port of Narvik. To complete the task, Hitler sent ten large, modern destroyers, with 220 Alpine Troops on each. Five smaller British H Class destroyers were sent up the fjord in retaliation by the Allied forces, with little knowledge of what to expect. On April 10, the first battle of Narvik began. Royal Naval Captain, Bernard Warburton-Lee, led his flotilla at midnight into the fjord. They had to navigate the four hour passage undetected, under darkness and in driving snow storms. The harbour — eerily silent on their arrival — quickly erupted into a torpedo attack. Back into the fjord, the destroyers Hardy, Hunter, Hotspur, Havock and Hostile were confronted by five German destroyers, coming from both the front and rear. This resulted in a ferocious sea battle with the loss of Hardy and Hunter and damage to the enemy ships. Those crew members who managed to abandon ship and swim ashore, under bombardment from the Germans, had to endure a ten mile march and pray for safe passage back to Britain in order to survive. Author Ron Cope delivers a comprehensive and gripping account of the Narvik battle, juxtaposing the myriad strategic difficulties encountered by the British Navy, with the vivid and insightful personal accounts of the brave survivors involved, most of whom were under the age of twenty-three. Including first-hand testimony from Cope's own father Cyril, a then twenty-one year old Torpedoman, and documents shared for the first time by the family of Captain Warburton-Lee, Cope presents an arresting account of this crucial British naval victory, as told by the sailors who were there. "Meticulously researched, Attack at Dawn relates the vivid real-life experiences of the British sailors who took part in the extraordinarily bold attack by five British destroyers against superior German forces at Narvik... and the desperate running battle that ensued as they tried to make their escape". John Warburton-Lee, grandson of Captain Bernard Warburton-Lee. V.C.

1.     Why did you decide to self-publish the book?
My aim was to have the book published by the 75th Anniversary (10th April 2015). I was advised to send my manuscript to the well known military book publisher 'Pen and Sword'. They took six weeks to get back.  The Editing Commissioner was Brigadier Henry Wilson, he was very helpful, his words were, “Ron I hate having to turn down books like this”.  But he went out of his way to offer professional advice.

I was about to send it to my second publisher option but they came back with the same, “We will let you know in six weeks time”. I can quite understand the pressures that are now place on the old publishing firms, with the new technologies like digital books. They are running a business and need to be assured that any book when published must make a reasonable profit. As Henry says, “There is not a lot of money made here”.

I was running out of time so I decided to go down the self publishing route. Initially, I went to possibly the largest and world wide company 'Pearson'. They were obviously a very professional set up, but whilst they made contact quickly and made promises, I was concerned I would be working with a commissioning editor in Philippines. She was extremely nice and knowledgeable but I want somebody nearer home.

In the end 'Authoright' also offered a speedy process. They kept to their word and the book was ready within three months, two weeks before the Anniversary. In fact, what seemed like only days co-founder Hayley suggested a slight change from my previous 'working title' with the present result. Then the excellent 'Design Team' came up with the front cover options, one of which was quickly sanctioned.

2.    How have you found the overall experience of self-publishing?
The simple answer is yes.  I wanted to be some part of the professional team and was willing to do my bit, being at home throughout and ready to go. So the advice is; let the team get on with what they know best and take on board their guidance.

3.    Would you do anything different in hindsight?
 Nothing comes immediately to mind.  I am a newcomer to this industry.                                                   

4.    What do you take from the experience now that 6-years of work is finally complete? 
Once you have finished your book and decided to go down the 'Self Publishing' route, yes, an immense amount of responsibility has been taken away.  It has been hard work keeping focussed and disciplined but it is not yet over, until you have the final product in your hands. However when that occurs it is the one of the best feelings you will ever experience in your life time.

5.    What was your must-have writing companion/habit?
I found I had to keep my brain functioning in top notch and needed to get plenty of exercise and fresh air.  In my case after forty years I was still playing squash two to three days a week and on the other days spend an hour in the gym.  Or as my wife Alison calls it “going round and round the hamster wheel”.

Once I have done my sporting bit I feel much less guilty to partake in my poison, which is a pint or two of a cold lager and lime. During which I am able to put in another couple of hours work in the evening. Then I am able to convince myself I deserve a glass of wine with my meal, maybe followed by a brandy. In the early days I found it difficult to stop treading the keyboard until a piece of work still in my mind was completed. I now discipline myself and stop and leave till the next morning.

Thursday 16 June 2016

Cover Reveal - "Under a Brass Moon" by Jordan Elizabeth Mierek, et al.

A Steampunk and Science Fiction Anthology

We are thrilled to present this dazzling cover by Eugene Teplitsky.   

UNDER A BRASS MOON releases on July 28th, but in the meantime, check it out on GoodReads. 
Many of the short stories are continuations from GEARS OF BRASS.  The anthology is now on sale for 99 cents!

Help us celebrate the cover reveal with the chance to win a $30 Amazon gift card.  

All winners will be notified after verification of entry at the end of this promotion.  Prizes have been supplied by and the responsibility of delivery are solely that of the author and/or their representatives. Blogs are not liable for non-delivery on the part of the author. No purchase necessary.

Monday 13 June 2016

Blogival - "A Father's Betrayal" by Gabriella Gillespie

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):
Muna and her three sisters were happy children, growing up in Newport South Wales with their English mother and Arabic father. But in 1972 her mother disappeared, setting in motion a chain of events which would forever shatter her seemingly loving family.


Here is an interview with Gabriella Gillespie. Enjoy!

1) What inspired you to become an author?
My inspiration for becoming an Author was to highlight the plight of child/forced marriage. I felt it was important for people to know the truth about what really happens to young girls and women when they are sold to men as wife's. Many people believe this was a tradition that happened centuries ago and no longer exists in our time, or at least people didn't believe these things happen to British girls. I also hoped that telling my story would encourage and give hope to other victims and survivors to speak out and seek help.

2) What books impacted your life the most?

Sold by Zana Muhsen was the book that had the biggest impact on me. Maybe it was because I believe I met her or her sister in Yemen but couldn't be sure because of our circumstances. Her life story is very similar to mine so I could relate to everything she went through.
Gabriella Gillespie with her children recently

3) What was the most important thing you have learned from writing this book?

One was that my readers would have liked an epilogue chapter, this was mentioned a lot on my reviews. I've also received hundreds of messages on my social media pages from people who want to know more about how my family are doing now. Another thing I've learnt is that if I write another book I need to be more aware about the editing, this seems to be the only criticism of my book.

4) What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Having to remember some very painful memories that I tried for so long to forget. Especially my eldest sister Ismahan - or Issy as we called her- who was sold alongside me as a child bride in Yemen.For a while, we lived with our paternal grandparents in a village near the city, learning Arabic and to wear the body-covering abaya - a garment neither had donned before. Six months after they arrived in Sana'a, our father announced that Issy would marry a man of 60, who already had a wife and children older than she was. The impact was devastating. Despite her repeated refusals and desperate protests, our father insisted she would marry. On the day of her wedding, rather than marry the grandfather chosen for her, Ismahan killed herself by throwing herself off the roof of her fiance's apartment block. However, as painful as the memories were and still are I needed to tell to see my story through and gain justice for my mother and sisters and even for me not to mention further the cause to raise awareness for the atrocious reality of child brides. The book is in memory of my family and in aid of those women who find themselves in the same situation.

Gabriella Gillespie's children in Yemen
5) What are you working on now? What is your next project? 
I've had so many requests for a second book so I’m really thinking about writing that. In the mean time my charity work keeps me very busy.

But at the moment my priority is my continued work alongside many NGOs in highlighting child/forced marriage by doing public speaking at their events/conferences. I speak with, and on behalf of survivors so that our stories and voices don't go unheard.

I've written for online publications such as "Words in a bucket" and the NGO where I am now on the board of advisors  "Too Young to Wed" .

And I have helped campaign to change the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015 which is where I was born and my family lived for much of my life until everything changed which is also why I help organize the annual International Women Day events in Wales.

I was also surprised and humbled to win the Emma Humphreys memorial prize 2015 for my campaigning through writing

My Review:

***I received the eBook free as a review copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review***

Angelina: This was  a truly hooking book and I loved every single page of it. The author pulls the reader into an emotionally-laden story.
This book is actually a true story, narrated from the author as a little girl, Muna, when she was ripped away from her family by her own father and kidnapped along with her sisters to the Yemen. There she was sold as a child bride and we, the reader, follow her on her journey as she fights for her life and the lives of her children.
It was a harrowing tale, written with a beautiful writing style. I started this book knowing that it was a true story and harsh treatment of the sisters was to be expected from the book blurb. However, I wasn't ready for what I ended up reading. Everything that could have gone wrong for the girls, happened and the saddest part, was that all of them actually happened. I found it amazing, that the author was able to convey so much feeling, making the reader feel sad. The descriptions were also short but very efficient in describing thee scene to the reader. Even though I don't know what its actually like, I felt like I could imagine how the places described in the book looked like.
I couldn't put the book down. It was captivating to read. I was just sitting there, going onto the next page and then the next, I had to continue reading. When I finished it, I kept on thinking about what Muna had to struggle through and how the book ended.
I also wanted to conclude this review, by saying that I greatly admire the author. It takes immense strength to survive and endure through all of the hardships she had to suffer. She managed to endure through all of the abuse and came out with an unbroken spirit and the will to help spread the word to save others from the same fate. So many people would have given up only a couple of months after the abuse started. It is also admirable, that she dug through all of her memories, including painful ones, to tell her story and spread the truth about child brides.
This book was unique and beautifully written. I couldn't put it down and always wanted to keep on reading. I was hooked from the very first page. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!

Sunday 5 June 2016

Blogival - "Doing Life in Paradise" by Gary Line

Book Blurb:

Doing Life in Paradise explores the impact and ripple effect of trauma on a group of strangers inextricably linked by, and witness to, a tragic accident. 

The novel is a surreal voyeuristic journey into the minds and lies of its larger than life characters, each trapped in their own psychological struggle for survival and redemption.  Ruby hopes for love, but her destiny is controlled by a malicious spider.  Peter laments the loss of love, but prefers to discuss it with Mr Dishwasher.  Madeleine discovers rapture while counting down her periods.  Hawkey knows if you lie to your psychologist, you are still telling the truth. And Tommy is a killer. 

Through the eyes of its flawed characters, and clipped acerbic prose Doing Life in Paradise exposes the absurdity of life and dependence on hope to find meaning within life’s disinterest.  But how can life in a city called Paradise feel anything but cruelly ironic, how can it not be anything but a life sentence?

The novel explores the peculiar places life can take us, while exposing the curious strategies we each employ in order to survive.

We also asked Gary Line questions about his book Doing Life in Paradise and about his writing process. These are his answers. Enjoy!

How did you come up with the story?
In Doing Life in Paradise, the narrative discusses the philosophy of the dependence people have on hope, or should I say the over-dependence. Without hope we all would struggle to get out of bed each day but too much hope, or the wrong kind of hope can be a paralysing factor in people’s lives. It either prevents them from taking charge of their own life or at the very least, retards their outcomes – they hope for things rather than taking action to achieve the things they want in life. The story took shape when I imagined a group of ordinary citizens to which an extraordinary thing happens. Such as, in this case, the witnessing of the accident which kills a young girl. Events like this tend to interrupt people’s hope structure.

Doing Life in Paradise asks the questions, what happens to a young woman when she witnesses a car accident, which results in the death of a girl her own age? What happens to the young driver of the car who causes the accident? What happens to the other people who witness this accident? such as a young boy with his mother and the brother of the girl run over and so on. And how do these people cope and proceed with their aspirations in the light of such a tragedy? Are their personal hopes and dreams corrupted? What can they rely upon now?

This is how I started the story, but how I invent scenes and characters is a function of my writing process.

What is your writing process? 
As a writer, I am always thinking, listening and watching people. I note what people say, and what they do and when they do the things they do. I am not concerned too much about why people do anything, as the explanations of why people do the things they do, are very often elaborate lies – lies they tell themselves and lies they tell others almost as though the truth of our lives must be kept hidden. It is this behaviour and gap that the narrative explores.

I do not have a formal method to track a plot such as cards for each chapter or an organisational chart. Nor do I construct characters in service to a plot. It is the other way around. I am more interested in the characters and what they do both consciously and unconsciously.

It can start with a line of dialogue, or alternatively, a line of seemingly ordinary dialogue or behaviour will trigger an idea or a character. The discussion of the importance of either character over plot or vice versa has never been answered satisfactorily and probably never will. However, each writer will have their own opinion in regards to this question that will always inform the way they write. I think both are important, but for me, character is the superior of the two. So invariably, I will start with the character. I zero in on the gap or space we inhabit between reality and hyper-reality, the gap between lies and truth.

Elaborate action is not so important, I am more interested in the interior life of a character – what they think, what they believe in, and how they react when life indiscriminately singles them out and interrupts their universe. Postmodernism often concerns itself with the small events, not the grand events of life – indeed it might be said that it is all the small human events that create the grand event, or result from a grand event. This is never more evident than the example of 9/11 for example.

I start writing with an idea that is expressed through either dialogue or action and I may have a theme in mind but almost always, I never have an ending in mind – I prefer to let the narrative write its own ending, as life itself does. And it isn’t automatic that any opening line or paragraph will survive. As any piece I write takes on its own life and creates its own universe and starts to drive in one particular direction, the first sentence or paragraph, even the character themselves might disappear or change. For example, I started Doing Life in Paradise with the character Peter. It was his story and journey that started the whole thing but that changed, and it became more of Ruby’s journey, at least that is now how the narrative starts.

This may seem somewhat unorganised or even chaotic but that is not the case in the end. However, this method allows me to be as surprised as my reader might be with the actions and behaviour of my characters, and there will be a freshness and an absurdity to each character that might not be there if I were to use a more logical controlled method. In other words, I trust in the ‘muse’, I let the work do the work and I do not consciously impose myself in a contrived way. 

Here is an except chapter from Doing Life in Paradise


Tommy had to come home early from work. He was sick again. He managed to pick up some tin beer at the Tonsley Park Hotel drive-thru near his flat in Clovelly Park without passing out. He had to rest outside the café where Ruby often had her favourite pineapple crush drink and where he bought biscuits. But that was when he was eating. He made it back to his flat and struggled up the stairs, holding on to the rail and trying to keep hold of his tin beer with his shaking hands. About half way up, Lemon Guy who lives on the top floor was coming down. Tommy didn’t look at Lemon Guy, no one looked at Lemon Guy, he wasn’t the kind of guy you wanted to make eye contact with, he took it as an invitation to beat the crap out of you. And Tommy was too sick to take in Lemon Guy’s stink. ‘Well if it isn’t Franz.’ Tommy was never sure why Lemon Guy insisted on calling him Franz but he wasn’t the kind of guy you challenged; Tommy wouldn’t have thought him capable of reading anything more substantial than a comic, so literary allusions were well out of his reach. Tommy stopped, held his breath swallowing his nausea and bowed his head to let Lemon Guy pass. But it was no good. As Lemon Guy reached Tommy, he clocked Tommy right in the face. Tommy’s legs buckled, and he crashed to the floor. When Tommy opened his eyes, his nose was full of lemon smell and blood and Lemon Guy’s face was only centimetres from Tommy’s face. Lemon Guy spat at Tommy. ‘You killed my cat, you cockroach.’ Lemon Guy shouted this into Tommy’s nostrils. Tommy didn’t ordinarily use his nostrils for hearing, but in Lemon Guy’s case, he felt compelled to make an exception. Then Lemon Guy smashed Tommy again with his head and that was when Tommy felt his nose buckle, making a sound like plastic snapping. It seemed unlikely that a discussion about neighbourly harmony would be fruitful right at this moment. Tommy felt his nose fill with blood, which surely would put to an end any ambitions Tommy’s nostrils might have entertained as listening devices. As it stood at the moment, they were flat out fulfilling their basic design function of air in, air out. Tommy didn’t know it was Lemon Guy’s goddamn cat. It was true then, Tommy thought, he had killed Lemon Guy’s cat and this confirmed his worse fears about himself. Tommy was a killer.

My Review

***I received the eBook free as a review copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review***

Angelina: This was definitely a very interesting and unique book to read. Honestly, after I finished reading this book, I needed some time afterwards to sit down and think about what just happened. Not because I didn't understand what exactly happened, but to process it timeline-wise. 
This book switches perspectives every chapter to the next person who is going to progress the story in some way. Those main characters are called Ruby, Tommy, Peter, Madeline and Steve. The story takes place in a town called Paradise (previously called Adelaide). I won't reveal much about what happened prevoiusly because a lot of the fun reading came from finding out what happened and how all of the characters are linked together in a strange and explicit way. But stated simply, all of these characters were linked together when they all witnessed the same trauma several years back that would ultimately affect their lives in the future. 
I actually really liked the concept of this book. It was really philosophical at times and I had to put the book down several times when the statements got big and deep in order to process my thoughts on them. Another unique thing about the theme is that it talked quite a bit about coincidences and synchronicity. Especially after finishing the book, it does make one think about coincidences that can't be explained in real life. However, I think that in some cases, the characters became too philosophical to the point where it started getting a bit annoying. I felt kind of overwhelmed that every single character became so philosophical. I felt that the plot wasn't progressing because of this because some of the philosophical thoughts, I felt, were being repeated by the individual characters. On the other hand, a factor that had me wanting to keep on reading this book was to see when the characters would meet once again. The close calls when the characters just barely missed each other had me wanting to read more. 
The characters in this book were unique. They all seemed really real, not just a work of fiction. They all had to deal with problems that other people also face around the world. First I thought that it seemed weird that coincidentally all of the characters had such big dilemmas in their lives, but then it kind of made sense with the context of the story. My favourite perspectives were probably Ruby and Tommy's perspectives. Something about their point of view just clicked with me. 
I also really liked how the ending tied all of the loose ends together really nicely, so that there wasn't anything left hanging which would otherwise make the reader have a nagging feeling that something was missing. 
Overall, this was a very unique book with a very realistic set of characters. The book focuses on how characters deal with trauma and the stress of living in a place called "Paradise". The philosophical thought put in this book was clever, although I felt that it as too much for me at times. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars!

About Gary Lines

Website is

Gary is a regular contributor to the Australian Financial Review, Australia’s premier business daily newspaper. He writes a column for the “Talking Points” section, which allows him to discuss everything from ‘Why we keep our books’ to Celebrity chefs and their proliferation in the world today. This section of the paper is intended to be informative and humorous.

Doing Life in Paradise, Gary’s debut novel, has received strong endorsement from reviewers as being a ‘precise’, ‘thoughtful’, ‘clever’ and ‘intriguing and highly original read’. The novel centres on a group of people all struggling to cope with the absurdity of life. Some make it, some don’t – everyone tries in their own way.