Thursday 10 March 2016

Q & A with S. Jane Gari

Losing the Dollhouse
by S. Jane Gari 

When nineteen-year-old Jane finally works up the nerve to expose the truth about her stepfather's sexual advances, her mother is outraged. But not at the stepfather. Her mother takes his side-a betrayal that threatens to destroy the family and leaves Jane struggling to forge her own identity as she enters adulthood. Once marriage is on the table, Jane packs up her life and resolves to stare her demons down. Losing the Dollhouse offers a slice of dysfunctional Americana complete with divorce, stepfamilies, eating disorders, mental illness and the search for true love. 

Paperback, 238 pages
Published February 2nd 2014 by Touchpoint Press

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Read It & Reap:  September 18, 2016

S. Jane Gari lives in Elgin, South Carolina with her husband and daughter. Her nonfiction has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes. In addition to her upcoming memoir,Losing the Dollhouse, she has also co-written Flush This Book, a collection of humorous essays.

                                    Q & A with S. Jane Gari

1. Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
Losing the Dollhouse is a memoir, so I had to craft real people into characters, including myself. I wrote the first few drafts for myself and then edited with the reader in mind. Readers wouldn’t know anything about the details I take for granted, like the mannerisms and physicality of people I’ve known all my life. The main characters are my mother, stepfather, father, stepmother, sister, husband, and me. The central relationship in the memoir, however, is between my mother and me and how we navigated life after I disclosed my stepfather’s ongoing sexual advances and she took his side. My mother was the kind of mom who played with me, listened to me, read to me every night, and cheered me on. I was a sensitive, artistic kid and young adult. Her betrayal is something I still struggle with.

2. Who designs the covers for your books and what is that process like for you as an author?
Brett J. Miller ( designed the cover for Losing the Dollhouse. I thought the cover should have a dollhouse on it, but he felt we should go for something to solicit a more immediate visceral, emotional response. Once I saw what he had in mind I could see he was right. As much as we don’t like to admit it, books are often judged by their covers—that’s what draws somebody in to pick up the book and give it a chance. 

3. Describe your ideal writing spot.
My ideal writing spot is the table in my kitchen under the skylight on a warm day with the door to my screened-in porch wide open. It’s the best of all worlds—an ergonomic setup with fresh air pouring in. I get to enjoy the feel of being outside without the direct glare from the sun on my computer screen (and without the bugs).

4. What is the best advice you have been given?
“To thine own self be true.” It’s one of my favorite quotes from Hamlet. Ironically, my mother used to say it to me all the time. Ultimately that advice led me to write Losing the Dollhouse.

5. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a ballerina until ninth grade. Then I set my sights on being an English teacher and a writer. But I still go to the ballet as a spectator.

6. Which do you prefer: hard/paperbacks or eBooks?
I still prefer a hardcopy of a book in my hand, especially if it’s a nonfiction book I’d like to browse through later for references. I taught high school English for years, and I love to look through my copies of novels with copious notes in the margins. My Kindle saves me from stockpiling thousands of books, but I’ll always love my “real” books best.

7. If you could have any supernatural power what would you choose and why?
I’d want the power to heal myself and others. I think it would be the most practical and the most gratifying.

8. What book are you reading now?
I just started The Stone Necklace by fellow South Carolina author Carla Damron.

Thursday 3 March 2016

Q & A with A.J. Norfield

Stone War Chronicles #1
by A.J. Norfield 

Far away from home, under the command of his brother, Raylan and his squad must retrieve an ancient relic stolen from their kingdom’s trading partner—the Tiankong Empire. 

Traveling deep into unknown enemy territory to complete their mission, Raylan learns that the ancient relic holds unexpected life; a creature buried in legends, one not seen in their world for more than two hundred years. 

With their enemies closing in, Raylan and his friends search, desperately, for a safe way home. Danger lurks around every corner: Warriors larger than any man, predators stalking them through the night and soldiers determined to hunt them down. Leaving them all little choice, except to keep moving as they strategically plot—and skillfully fight—their way back to those awaiting their return. 

ebook, Kindle Version, 386 pages
Published October 30th 2015 by LowSea Publishing

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Read It & Reap:  June 26, 2016

About the Author
A.J. Norfield lives with his loving family on land but below sea level. He tries not to worry too much about climate change and the melting of the polar ice caps. His wife and two rascals of children keep him engaged and grounded in life while he pursues goals of publishing a story that has been stuck in his head for years.

As a longtime forest and mountain enthusiast, he often wonders about his flat surroundings and how to escape them. In his free time, if available at all, he enjoys a wide variety of gaming, reading/writing, drawing and socializing. His interest in (dragon-fantasy) novels has followed him throughout his life ever since he was young enough to read. It was this interest—with a number of broken nights thanks to his daughter’s sleeping schedule—that eventually lead to his current undertaking to write his own dragon-fantasy series ‘The Stone War Chronicles’ and put it out into the world.

Inspired by established names like Anne McCaffrey, Terry Goodkind and Naomi Novik—to name only a few of many—he is ready to show the world what he has to offer.


Q & A with A.J. Norfield

1. Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
Raylan find himself in a situation, he doesn’t necessarily wants to be in. Drafted into the kingdom’s army, he was weeks away from returning to his beloved seas…until he was sent off under the command of his brother; to retrieve a stolen relic from their kingdom’s trading partner—the Tiankong Empire.

He’s a curious person, with a positive look on life. He enjoys the world around him, but values his freedom. He would rather not have the responsibility of anything if he can avoid it. But that promptly changes, when he discovers what the relic truly is and all of a sudden his priorities in life change drastically.

The bond with his brother, Gavin, was strong when they were young. But, at the time, Raylan always felt he stood in the shadow of his more responsible brother. Over the years, since Raylan left his home to sail the seas, the bond deteriorated, but to him it seems even now that Gavin’s shadow still falls over him to keep him down.

The rest of the cast is build up from different backgrounds. A strong female presence is there in the form of Xi’Lao, ambassador of the Tiankong Empire, although she might not entirely be what she seems. The archer duo, who both grew up in the northern forests, an escaped slave that has not seen his home for almost seven years. There is plenty of them to like (and some to dislike!). To meet them all, I would invite everyone to read the book and see for yourself.

2. Who designs the covers for your books and what is that process like for you as an author?
With the risk of falling for the years old self-publishing mistake: I designed my own cover. I have dragon icons in mind for each of the five books that I am writing in the series. Each book introduces a new “main” character and dragon. I found it a great challenge to see if I was able to come up with something interesting. I recently did a revamp of the original cover and with the help/feedback of the Goodreads community (awesome people) I ended up with a cover that I’m very happy with.

I do think I will eventually let the covers be redone, perhaps in celebration of the third book coming out, but that will not happen for a while. In the meantime, I hope that people find the cover intriguing enough to check out the book and enjoy the story that I have written for them.

3. Describe your ideal writing spot.
At home I really only have one writing spot. The attic, behind the computer. Hot in the summer, cold in the winter. Sounds horrible, right? But, it’s a good spot, with two kids running around the house and a full time job, it’s a place to get some peace and quiet, even if there’s not a lot of time to spend on writing. The challenge is to get into the zone, to hit that spot where your fingers will flow and the text comes out without (much) effort, before my face hits the keyboard because I fall asleep.

Although, now that I think about it there is one other spot, where I do love to write: The exit row in an airplane. Enough legroom to open my laptop, earplugs and a seven hour flight, it really does wonders for my story progress. 

4. What is the best advice you have been given?
On the point of writing, the internet is full of good advice. Character development, avoiding writing pitfalls, you name it.

In life I have been lucky to have met many people that cared about me, each providing their own kind of wisdom to me. I have learned to listen to my wife on parental advice, she is such a great mother. I have learned to listen to my kids, who see the world through such different eyes still.

Still if I would have to pick, I would say ‘respect’. Respect yourself and respect others. If you do not wish something to happen to you, do not do it to someone else. We are all very different, which is a good thing or else the world would be a very boring place.

5. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I have had ranges of ideas about what I would like to be. I loved to draw, but was not very good at it. Professional gamer, or programmer, digital artist. At one point I even wanted to be a pastry-chef. As I grew older, I found biology one of my main interest. Animal behavior and large physiology kept me interested through a study of wildlife management. I worked as a falconer in a zoo for some time—a period I hold very dear in my life. The interaction with those animals now founded the base of how I perceive the bond between dragon and humans in my books.

For years I had the idea in my head to eventually write a book, but I never knew the story. And I guess that wish—to tell a story—has been in me from the start, as I recently found old comic drawings that I did when I was much younger. I kept it to show my kids later, when they will ask the same question: “Dad, when did you want to become a writer?”

So now, with my non-profit job in conservation, my knowledge on the animal kingdom and the story that came to me years ago, I spend my time writing, and discovering about writing, and publishing. It’s like a whole new job next to my normal job, and can sometimes be quite a lot to take on. Still, I feel good about the creation of the first book and I look forward to completing the other four in the series that I have in mind…now if I only could find the time!

6. Which do you prefer: hard/paperbacks or ebooks?
Paperbacks for sure. I actually do not own an e-reader myself. I have been thinking about it for years, but the smell of paper is just too charming for me to move away from it. Hardcovers are beautiful, but paperbacks are travel books. I always have one with me on my trips abroad, mostly Discworlds novels, although I am sad to say, I only have one left in the series to read now…

7. If you could have any supernatural power, what would you choose and why?
Indestructible. It would mean I have a great skill to use in protecting and saving others from danger. Although I would love to fly as well, or have laser eyes…and adamantium claws! Errr, do I really have to choose? ^_^ 

8. What book are you reading now?
Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik. I love the Temeraire series, such great bland of history and my favorite fantasy genre, dragons. I have to admit, though, that I have not picked it up in quite some time…as I feel I need to stay away from other dragon fantasy novels, in order to keep my own storyline as pure as possible. The fact of which annoys me to some extent, because I am curious to see how the story plays out for Temeraire and Laurence.

Q & A with Gary Ross-Jordan

Austerley & Kirkgordon, #1
by G.R. JordanGary Ross-Jordan 

A long forgotten manuscript of music. A genius professor hungering for the dark creatures which drove his studies. A Russian vamp with an icy touch. A government agent pulling everyone's strings. And a former bodyguard trying to hold onto his marriage amidst Eldar creatures threatening the end of the world.

Join Austerley and Kirkgordon on a hunt for Eldar music of a long forgotten race. From America to Russia and across the British Isles, two broken misfits try to pull the world back from a cosmic disaster while keeping at bay their reciprocal loathing.

Paperback, 260 pages
Published October 25th 2015 by Carpetless Publishing

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Read It & Reap:  September 11, 2016

Currently working on a fantasy novel about paranormal investigators and a story about mermaids appearing off a remote Scottish island both to be published under G R Jordan. Gary first published "Four Life Emotions" a poetry book followed by a Christian work of short allegorical stories called "A Darker Shade of Light."

Previously he spent his time at Loughborough University masquerading as a chemical engineer but ultimately playing American football, Gary worked at changing the shape of cereal flakes and pulled a pallet truck for a living. Watching vegetables freeze at -40'C was another career highlight but currently he is one of the few remaining "blind" air traffic controllers. Having flirted with most places in the UK, he is now based in the Isle of Lewis in Scotland where his free time is spent between raising three young children with his wife, writing and caring for a small flock of chickens. Luckily his writing is influenced by his varied work and life experience as the chickens have not been the poetical inspiration he had hoped for!

Q & A with Gary Ross-Jordan

1. Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
Well, like any good duo, I have two opposites in Messrs Austerley and Kirkgordon. Austerley, formerly Professor Austerley of Miskatonic University, is a genius when it comes to Occult Affairs. He's ever eager to find out about anything strange and is fascinated with persons, places or objects from other worlds. All his life he has been in the darkest libraries and the weirdest places building up an encyclopaedic knowledge of everything unholy and terrifying. For this cat, curiosity always gets the better of him.

His counterpart, Kirkgordon is a former bodyguard. Proficient archer and protector, his former experience with Austerley has given him a loathing for anything strange and their coming back together has each of them at each others throats. Unfortunately for them, their joint skill sets are a perfect match to deal with the forthcoming darkness and they have to rely on each other as the world depends on their getting the job completed.

And just to stir things up a little more, Austerley's former lover, Calandra turns up. She's an 800 year old former shieldmaiden who is now literally ice cold after she was cursed by a witch. When she feels attracted to the married Kirkgordon and he fights his reciprocated feelings, the partnership is threatened as personal takes precedence over professional.

Through a journey around the globe, they are pushed, pulled and prodded until they have to face an unspeakable demon on a remote Scottish island.

2. Who designs the covers for your books and what is that process like for you as an author?
Jake Caleb Clarke ( is my cover artist, a guy who I have found to be energetic and passionate about his work. I live in the UK and Jake in the USA so communication is by email with Jake being some 6 hours behind time-wise. I'm really not talented in the graphics sense and so I try to give Jake the ideas and essence of the story, usually by giving him highlights of the second or third draft. At that point I try to go a little hands off and let Jake push ideas forward, trying to maximise his talent and not throttle it with my preconceived thoughts.This generally produces graphics I hadn't thought of and it's just a case then of honing down the images and making sure they stand up with the text in the book.

One of the things I have found as an author, and indeed really the CEO of the whole publishing process, is that the one thing you need to succeed at making a great book is talented, enthusiastic people around you to pick up the areas where you either have no or limited talent. Fortunately in Jake, I have someone with bags of both talent and enthusiasm.

3. Describe your ideal writing spot.
I have three children and am soon to have a fourth which means our house is pretty busy. So I don't have a consistent place to write. Generally the view doesn't matter to me but there are three things that do:
1) There is someone there who knows how to make a good coffee! It is my fuel and is like my comforting companion when I am writing. If the coffee is poor then I struggle to focus, it is the potion leading me into the zone.
2) I generally don't like complete quiet so I enjoy coffee shops or places where people are sporadically trundling in and out. I think it helps me to focus but also makes the odd little thirty second break a real diversion. Total silence has never worked for me.
3) A steady table. I usually write on my tablet with a little keyboard I have in the cover that wraps around it. And there is nothing more off putting than a table than rocks back and forward.
Outside of these things I am happy writing wherever. I try and not have too many essentials as it provides a barrier to getting on and writing.

4. What is the best advice you have been given?
Just write, as it's the only way to learn. Neil Gaimen says this in various comments as does Stephen King. And they are right. There is no other way to practise this art we call writing than to simply write. By all means read up on the art but you have to write, even if it is tripe at times. It's how we learn.

5. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I'm forty-two now so you are really testing the grey matter. From the dark recesses I remember always being fascinated with aeroplanes. I used to make crude model ones with my Granddad and also spend hours on the Air-fix model kits. I never quite made it to being a professional pilot but I did spend some fifteen hours in a Tomahawk aircraft on the way to becoming an air traffic controller.

But as a teenager I was always writing, mainly poetry and I think life experience has taught me about people and allowed me to flourish into the novel writing.

6. Which do you prefer: hard/paperbacks or eBooks?
Apologies to all you modern people but it has to be in the solid form. There is something about holding a book and seeing your progress as you turn it sideways. And the flick of the pages with that smell a new book has does it for me. As to whether it's a hardback or paperback, a paperback to hold and read but a hardback always looks better on the shelf!

7. If you could have any supernatural power, what would you choose and why?
Excepting perfect animal attraction to the opposite sex, which all us guys think we have but so few rarely exhibit, it would have to be teleportation. My favourite character was always Nightcrawler from the X-men, strange and weird but incredibly fast and agile. I think I just like the little guy who can rip into the big men.

8. What book are you reading now?
I'm currently reading "Population" by Elizabeth Stephens for the read it and reap program and enjoying it. There's a possibility at at the end of the year I may be looking to write a post-apocalyptic adventure, so this is one of my books in the genre I've decided to read. I'm also reading Baden-Powell's "My adventures as a Spy" which is quite an eye opener into an old profession. In order to gain a deeper perspective into character, I like to mix it up between fiction and non-fiction.