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Book review Book reviews Writing

#Bookreview THE LITTLE BLUE BOOK FOR AUTHORS: ESSENTIAL MANNERS FOR THE MODERN AUTHOR by Gisela Hausmann (@Naked_Determina) Short and packed with useful advice. Because being polite has never hurt anyone #amwriting

Hi all:

This book is recommended for the many authors among my readers. I have read and reviewed some books in this series before, and as this one was free, I could not resist. I’m not sure if it was a temporary offer, but do check it out, just in case!

Book review. The Little Blue Book for Authors: Essential Manners for the Modern Author by Gisela Hausmann
The Little Blue Book for Authors: Essential Manners for the Modern Author by Gisela Hausmann

The Little Blue Book for Authors: Essential Manners for the Modern Author by Gisela Hausmann

Hundreds of thousands of authors try to wow readers, reviewers, and book bloggers. No reader can handle the volume of books they are offered.
Etiquette matters.

Learn from one of Amazon’s top reviewers what to do and what to avoid.
This book includes three different examples of how to turn a “maybe” into a “yes.”

Content:
Be Kind to Yourself
Ban the Word “Automatization” from Your Book Marketing Vocabulary
Put Yourself in Others’ Shoes
Don’t Brag or Lie
Facebook
Blogging
Don’t Just Mention Your Book, Create a “Dating Profile”
It Takes Creativity to Open Doors (Practical Examples)
Lastly – Listen! Listen to Your Friends

Link:

https://www.amazon.com/Little-Blue-Book-Authors-Essential-ebook/dp/B07BBSZWDY/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Blue-Book-Authors-Essential-ebook/dp/B07BBSZWDY/

Author Gisela Hausman
Author Gisela Hausman

About the author:

Gisela Hausmann is a 29 yr. self-publishing industry veteran, an email evangelist, and a top reviewer.

Her work has been featured in regional, national, and international publications including Success magazine (print) and Entrepreneur, on Bloomberg, The Innovation Show – a show for Square Pegs in Round Holes, “The Brutal Truth about Sales & Selling”-podcast, and Austria’s Der Standard and Das Wirtschaftsblatt. Gisela is a graduate of the University of Vienna, Austria.

A unique mixture of wild risk-taker and careful planner, she globe-trotted almost 100,000 kilometers on three continents, including to the locations of her favorite books: Doctor Zhivago’s Russia, Heinrich Harrer’s Tibet, and Genghis Khan’s Mongolia.

Her motto:
“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”-Napoleon Hill

For more information about the author please visit her website at www.GiselaHausmann.com

She tweets at @Naked_Determina

https://www.amazon.com/Gisela-Hausmann/e/B000APN192/

My review:

I have read and reviewed two of Gisela Hausmann’s books from her little books collection before (you can read the reviews here) and enjoyed enormously her no-nonsense attitude and the easy-to-use format. These are books that, as the author explains, should take a short time to read (she aims for less than 90 minutes, and I don’t think I’ve gone over 30 minutes for any of them), and the advice offered should be easy to implement, so that anybody who’ve just read one of them could apply what they’ve learned, rather than having to go through a lengthy process, take a course, or make a huge investment. (With regards to this last issue, that does not mean there is no cost involved at all, as in this book she emphasises the importance of finding an editor and states that is much more useful investing your hard-earned cash on that than spending money on things like tools to automatize marketing or on exchanging reviews with other authors).

This book will be appreciated by authors and reviewers alike. I had to smile at her examples of some of the e-mails she has received asking for book reviews. As a book reviewer, I’ve had similar experiences (authors sending an unsolicited copy of the book, without even bothering to find your name, and stating they read your blog, although you’ve never seen them there and from the content of the letter is evident they haven’t) and I can’t but agree with her recommendations to authors. (Although I am an author, other than in my own books and the blog, I rarely approach reviewers directly, but I’ll try and make sure I remember her advice in the future). I really liked her suggestion that we should try to introduce our book as if we were preparing the book for a date, making sure to try and choose the right partner and find the points of connection between our book and the possible date (reviewer). As she puts it:

A creative, exciting, funny, and unique “dating profile” will attract “matching” readers to start a relationship made in “book heaven.”

The author covers etiquette as pertains to various social media as well (Facebook and Twitter) and the etiquette of blogging. Her advice might not suit everybody and I suspect some of her tips might be more or less useful depending on the readership and genre of the author, but I have personally concluded that we must remain true to ourselves, and not just adopt passing fashions because they seem to work for somebody else, and I am with her on the importance of adhering to proper etiquette. (It might seem unnecessary to some people, but I can’t imagine many people will take offence to being treated politely).

This is another solid offering in a series of books for authors that has become one of my favourites, and I recommend it to authors with little time to waste (all of them, I guess) who prefer realistic advice to pie-in-the-sky promises, and who don’t mind some straight-talking (or writing). If you check the sample of the book and like what you read, it is worth following the author as she runs regular promotions and offers of her back catalogue.

Thanks to the author for all her advice, thanks to all of you for reading and please (I’m applying her advice, here), feel free to like, share, comment, click, review, and be happy!

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews Marketing Tuesday Book Blog Writing

#TuesdayBookBlog Two short books for authors by Gisela Hausmann (@Naked_Determina) worth their weight in gold #Amwriting #Bookreviews

Hi all:

Although I tend to write more about other people’s books than about my own, I know you know I’m an author (or at least some of you know). I have the best of intentions and always want to learn what to do to sell more books, but I normally get sidetracked and end up reading about something else. But when I came across those two books (there are more in the series), they had the advantage of being short, and although I know not everybody will like the writer’s style, I did, so here are the reviews and a bit about the author.

First, the author:

Author Gisela Hausman
Author Gisela Hausman

About the author:

Her motto:
“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”-Napoleon Hill

Gisela Hausmann is an email evangelist, a PR coach, a communication expert and a life skills artist.

Born to be an adventurer, she also co-piloted single-engine planes, produced movies, and worked in the industries of education, construction, and international transportation. Gisela’s friends and fans know her as a woman who goes out to seek the unusual and rare adventure.

A unique mixture of wild risk-taker and careful planner, Gisela globe-trotted almost 100,000 kilometers on three continents, including to the locations of her favorite books: Doctor Zhivago’s Russia, Heinrich Harrer’s Tibet, and Genghis Khan’s Mongolia.

She is also the winner of the
2016 Sparky Award “Best Subject Line” (industry award)
*
2017 Finalist IAN Book of the Year Awards
2016 Honorary Mention Readers Favorite Awards
2016 International Book Awards Finalist
2016 National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist
2015 Kindle Book Awards Finalist
2014 Gold Readers’ Favorite Award
2013 Bronze eLit Awards

Gisela Hausmann graduated with a master’s degree in Film & Mass Media from the University of Vienna. She now lives in Greenville, South Carolina. She tweets at @Naked_Determina

https://www.amazon.com/Gisela-Hausmann/e/B000APN192/

And, the books:

The Little Blue Book for Authors: 53 Dos & Don’ts Nobody Is Telling You by Gisela Hausmann
The Little Blue Book for Authors: 53 Dos & Don’ts Nobody Is Telling You by Gisela Hausmann

The Little Blue Book for Authors: 53 Dos & Don’ts Nobody Is Telling You by Gisela Hausmann

In times of hyped promises, many marketing organizations don’t tell “everything,” especially in the self-publishing industry.
In this short book, Gisela Hausmann, a 29-year industry veteran, author of the naked (no-fluff) book series, and Amazon top reviewer reveals 53 rarely published facts that will help indie authors to avoid costly mistakes and market their books cheaper and more effectively.

Topics:
•Basic Warnings
•Legalities
•Editing & Covers
•About Influencers
•Book Promotions on Social Media Platforms
•Book Reviews
•Communicating with Influencers
•Book Marketing
•What’s Overrated and What’s Underrated

My review:

Considering I am an author, I don’t read enough books about how to sell books or marketing (I read articles and blog posts about writing, but not many books) and although I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, I had decided to try and at least read ‘some’ books on the industry, especially because I have quite a few already waiting to be read.

Very recently, in one of the regular newsletters I get offering book promotions (I’m always intrigued to see what is being promoted, and one never knows when we’ll discover the next big thing), I came across this book. I could not resist but had to check the Look Inside feature, and I liked the style. I also liked the fact that it is very short and it could be read during a short break and as it was cheap… well, there was not much to lose.

This book might be too direct for authors who have just started, as some of the things the author assumes we all know, novel authors might not know yet, but for most of the rest, I think it can help clarify things.

Hausmann takes no prisoners, and you might or might not like her style and approach (she says things as she sees them. That does not mean they are necessarily right, as different people look for different things and have different experiences…) but if you would prefer to cut to the chase, her book might be the one for you. It might give you permission to do things you’ve been thinking about for a while but nobody had dared come out with them straight, or you might agree to disagree, but I’m sure if you’re an author, it will give you pause, and it won’t waste too much of your time.

As the book is very short, I cannot share much of it. She does talk about blogging and says there is no much point in rehashing the usual content or in spending time reading posts that say the same you’ve read thousands of times before. Here is what she recommends:

Stop following and listening to people who whine.

Follow all bloggers who offer data, facts, and real insights about book marketing. (Hint: Look for numbers.)

As I said, this is not a book for everybody, but I recommend all authors with little time but interested on reading something about the industry to check it and see if they connect with the author’s style. She made me think and nod quite a few times.

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Little-Blue-Book-Authors-Telling-ebook/dp/B076V862XT/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Blue-Book-Authors-Telling-ebook/dp/B076V862XT/

The Little Blue Book for Authors: 101 Clues to Get More Out of Facebook by Gisela Hausmann
The Little Blue Book for Authors: 101 Clues to Get More Out of Facebook by Gisela Hausmann

The Little Blue Book for Authors: 101 Clues to Get More Out of Facebook by Gisela Hausmann

Tens of thousands of authors network on Facebook. Most of them complain that many of their friends and fans don’t see their postings.

Gisela Hausmann, author of the naked, no-fluff book series for authors reveals 101 Clues to get more out of Facebook.

My review:

I’m an author and after reading another one of Hausmann’s books The Little Blue Book for Authors: 53 Dos & Don’ts Nobody Is Telling You I was curious to read more of her advice (especially as her book are so short and easy to fit into anybody’s reading schedule).

I admit that I can’t keep up with the changes on Facebook. I’m not sure I ever got a handle on it, to begin with. I avoided it before I started publishing, and now, although I have a personal and an author page, I tend to use it mostly to connect with readers and other authors (yes, and friends) through messenger. It’s also useful to know when people’s birthdays are, and I share my reviews there, but I’ve never been savvy as to how to use it to sell anything…

Hausmann’s book is not a book about Facebook advertising. It is mostly about what you see on Facebook, how you can influence what you and others see on Facebook, and the way to ensure that your posts have the best chance to be seen (be warned, that chance is very small). She warns us about our online activity (it does define us and it’s forever there, especially if other people like or share our content, as we might be able to delete something from our site but not from other people’s sites. Recently, an author asked me to remove his old picture from one of my old review posts and I did, but I thought it was a useless exercise and wondered how he expected to trace everybody who might have been in contact with his page at the time), reminds us that Facebook is not a non-profit organization, and tells us that if we want it to work for us, we must align ourselves with its goals (not the other way round, because it won’t happen. No point in moaning about it. Facebook is not there to help us).

This book is written in the author’s direct style, and I’d advise anybody thinking about buying the book to check the Look Inside feature before buying it. I suspect it is a bit of a marmite kind of book: some people will love it and others loathe it. Personally, it made me think and made me consider my strategy, and I’d recommend it to authors who like her style and are looking for brief and easy to follow advice.

I leave you with one of her gems (and it is a profoundly personal book, so it will not work for everybody):

No, I do not believe that creating a perfect landing page, posting the usual content, and buying Facebook ads leads to success for indie authors.

Links:

Thanks to the author, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, and REVIEW!

[amazon_link asins=’1983781975,B075R4VPNB,0996897275,0996897283,0996389342,B00XJYY80C,0986403431,0991272404′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’wwwauthortran-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’faaed18c-14e4-11e8-8a22-330bee7017ce’]

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews Writing

#Bookreview The Way of the Writer. Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling by Charles Johnson. Unique reflections based on a lifetime of thinking and writing well.

Hi all:

Although I read more fiction than non-fiction, there are more and more non-fiction books finding their way to my to be read pile, and I’ve read a few that I want to share too. So to bring more variety to the reviews, here comes one I read recently that might be particularly interesting to writers, but I believe many people will find interesting and inspiring, no matter what their call on life.

The Way of the Writer by Charles Johnson
The Way of the Writer by Charles Johnson

The Way of the Writer. Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling by Charles Johnson

Scribner

Nonfiction (Adult)

Description

From Charles Johnson—a National Book Award winner, Professor Emeritus at University of Washington, and one of America’s preeminent scholars on literature and race—comes an instructive, inspiring guide to the craft and art of writing.

An award-winning novelist, philosopher, essayist, screenwriter, professor, and cartoonist, Charles Johnson has devoted his life to creative pursuit. His 1990 National Book Award-winning novel Middle Passage is a modern classic, revered as much for its daring plot as its philosophical underpinnings. For thirty-three years, Johnson taught and mentored students in the art and craft of creative writing. The Way of the Writer is his record of those years, and the coda to a kaleidoscopic, boundary-shattering career.

Organized into six accessible, easy-to-navigate sections, The Way of the Writer is both a literary reflection on the creative impulse and a utilitarian guide to the writing process. Johnson shares his lessons and exercises from the classroom, starting with word choice, sentence structure, and narrative voice, and delving into the mechanics of scene, dialogue, plot and storytelling before exploring the larger questions at stake for the serious writer. What separates literature from industrial fiction? What lies at the heart of the creative impulse? How does one navigate the literary world? And how are philosophy and fiction concomitant?

Luminous, inspiring, and imminently accessible, The Way of the Writer is a revelatory glimpse into the mind of the writer, and an essential guide for anyone with a story to tell.

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Charles Johnson has given us a book that will hopefully place a gentle but firm hand on the shoulder of every writer. Here are short essays offering advice, writing life insight and encouragement to anyone wishing to master the art of storytelling. Johnson’s book is a reminder that good writing consists of more than sleeping with the dictionary. It requires a major commitment to the love of language.”– E. Ethelbert Miller, award-winning poet and 2016 recipient of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature

“Charles Johnson here provides—as his subtitle promises—’reflections on the art and craft of storytelling.’ It’s a welcome addition to the small shelf of useful books on the way of the writer and one that belongs with those of his mentor, John Gardner. Here the writer links the personal with the professional in ways that both inspire and instruct. Use this book (a) to deepen your familiarity with the work of a distinguished author, (b) to understand how serious practitioners address their art and (c) to improve your own.”–Nicholas Delbanco, author of The Years 

“Those of us who put pen to paper for a living have known of Charles Johnson for a very long time.  He is one of America’s greatest literary treasures.  He is a skilled wordsmith, superb craftsman, master of understatement, philosopher, cartoonist, and deeply talented novelist whose 1991 novel Middle Passage, (which won the National Book Award for fiction) predates the current surfeit of Underground Railroad novels by a good two decades.  Like the great Ralph Ellison to whom he is often compared, he will forever cast a long shadow over us who follow in his wake.  Here he graciously opens up the treasure chest of writing secrets and philosophy for those of us who seek to kneel at the tree of learning, told by a man who has kissed the black stone of literary excellence.”—James McBride, National Book Award-winning author of The Good Lord Bird and The Color of Water

“If you’re looking to learn to tell stories in written form, look no further. This book is as accessible as it is profound, lively, practical, and full of earned wisdom. I was a student of Charles Johnson’s, and can vouch for the power and value of his teaching. There are plenty of craft books available out there, but this is the only one I know of that is–and I don’t think I’m exaggerating–indispensable.”–David Guterson, author of Snow Falling on Cedars

“This is a book for many readers. If you are an aspiring writer, the path that Dr. Johnson sets out is a clear guide to your destination—whether you become a best-selling novelist or a top non-fiction writer or not.  You will find a compass in this book that will direct you towards a real way that will fulfill your efforts.  There is much practical advice and worldview wisdom here that will sustain you in your journey.  Those who are on a different path (as readers) will also find fulfillment here.  Dr. Johnson sets out original and illuminating guides on how to confront literary fiction—especially philosophical fiction.  These reflections advance critical theory toward literature that is, itself, philosophy.  This is a must-buy for both of these travelers.  The destination will more than reward the price of the ticket.”–Michael Boylan, Professor of Philosophy, Marymount University and author of Naked Reverse: A Novel

“An honest, engaging, and wonderfully inspiring book for both writers and teachers. Charles Johnson’s deep intelligence, joyful rigor and refreshing iconoclasm are evident in every subject he covers here.  Philosophical and practical, The Way of the Writer is sure to become a classic in the mold of John Gardner’s excellent books on writing.”–Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others

“A meditation on the meaning of literature and practical guide to the art and craft of writing fiction.”–Library Journal

“Charles Johnson has a long-standing reputation as one of the world’s greatest fiction writers. Now in this brilliant new book, The Way of the Writer, he offers us an eclectic meditation on the storyteller’s craft that is by turns memoir, instructional guide, literary critique, and philosophical treatise. Every reader will be deeply enriched by the book.”—Jeffery Renard Allen, author of Song of the Shank and Rails Under My Back

“All writers will welcome the useful tips and exercises, but the book will also appeal to readers interested in literature and the creative process. Johnson’s wonderful prose will engage readers to think more deeply about how to tell a story and consider the truth-telling power of the arts.”-Library Journal STARRED review

“Throughout, Johnson’s voice is generous and warm, even while he is cautioning writers to be their own ruthless editors.  A useful writing guide from an experienced practitioner.”—Kirkus Reviews

“National Book Award winner Johnson (Middle Passage, 1990) has taught creative writing for over 30 years and now shares his well-refined thoughts on how best to develop literary taste and technique…. Every aspect of this writing manual, which is laced with memoir, illustrates Johnson’s seriousness of purpose about literature and his laser focus on the thousands of small choices that shape a written work. The result is a book that will be appreciated by aspiring writers and everyone who shares Johnson’s delight in the power of words.”–Booklist

“A meditation on the daily routines and mental habits of a writer…the book radiates warmth…a writer’s true education might start in institutions, it seems, but for Johnson it is more a lineage of good, memorable talk.”–New York Times

“Eloquent, inspiring and wise, The Way of the Writer is a testament to the methods and advice the author espouses, and even if you aren’t an aspiring novelist, Johnson’s book is a fascinating glimpse into the mind of one of our finest writers.”–Seattle Times

“Writers who haven’t had the opportunity to study with Dr. Charles Johnson during the past 40 years are now in luck. The novelist, essayist, cartoonist, and philosopher has collected the creative lessons he’s learned along the way in a new practical and semi-autobiographical guide.”–Tricycle

“An instructive, inspiring guide to the craft and art of writing.”–Chicago Review of Books

About the Author

Charles Johnson is a novelist, essayist, literary scholar, philosopher, cartoonist, screenwriter, and professor emeritus at the University of Washington in Seattle. His fiction includes Dr. King’s RefrigeratorDreamerFaith and the Good Thing, and Middle Passage, for which he won the National Book Award. In 2002 he received the Arts and Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Seattle.

My review: Unique reflections based on a lifetime of thinking and writing well.

Thanks to Net Galley and Scribner for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I voluntarily review.

This non-fiction book is not a ‘how to’ book and won’t give the reader a formula for producing, and even less, selling, books by the bucket load. The subtitle, Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling describes much more precisely what the book is. And if there’s one thing we can’t accuse Charles Johnson of, is of lacking precision.

The book is structured in six parts (1. Who Is the Writer?, 2. The Process of Writing, 3. What Helps the Writer, 4. The Writer as Teacher, 5. The Writing Life and Duties of the Writer, 6. Philosophy and the Writer), each one collecting some of his essays on topics related to the craft of writing, that are very numerous. The parts, and each essay, can be read separately, although if read as a book there are reflections and quotes that will become familiar, and anecdotes and thoughts that appear more than once (not a big problem if readers dip in and out, or read it over an extended period and go back to revisit the parts they find more relevant or inspiring). Due to the nature of the materials, some of the content overlaps, particularly as this is a deeply personal book, based on Charles Johnson’s experiences, and he talks about his personal writing schedule, his interest in martial arts, how he started his career as a journalist, his love of drawing and design, his Buddhist beliefs, his interest in Philosophy…

The author taught an undergraduate and a postgraduate writing course for many years, although he has been retired for a while, and he describes his ‘boot camp for writers’ that he strongly based on John Gardner’s (that he describes as his writing mentor) programme. Johnson talks about the readings he recommends, the hard schedule of writing he requires, how he focuses on technique, how he advises writers to read a dictionary from cover to cover… So, there are exercises one could do independently and advice one can follow, but mostly the book is a reflection on his career, as a writer, philosopher, teacher and reviewer. From a personal point of view, I especially enjoyed his essay on reviews because it spoke to me and to my thoughts on what a review should be like, and the importance of telling people what they might find and like in the book, above and beyond your personal taste and opinion in the matter.

In some of his essays, he uses his own books as examples of some of the points he makes (character building, voice, point of view, among others), understandably, as he can discuss his intentions and how they relate to the technique he used, rather than assume what other authors were trying to do. This creates two issues. I’ve read some comments that would indicate he might come across as self-aggrandizing, arrogant and full of himself, although reading the rest of the articles makes quite clear that that is far from the truth. The other issue is that the comparisons and examples might not be as clear for readers who are not familiar with his work (although he does mention other writers often). I must admit that living in the UK, although I studied American Literature years back, I am not familiar with his work, and checking Amazon.co.uk, this is the only one of his books I could easily find. Even in Amazon.com most of his books are only available in paperback or hardback. But many of his comments about drafts, editing, working as a journalist, and his compelling defence of storytelling and the importance of finding a story that captures the reader’s (and of course, first the writer’s) imagination can be enjoyed and savoured without direct knowledge of Johnson’s fiction.

The author is an exacting and hardworking writer and thinker and he expresses strong opinions about what literature should be like. His is the world of literary fiction, and literature and stories used to explore and explain philosophical insights, of traditional publishing and paper books. He does mention pork literature or industrial literature and acknowledges that some writers make a living by writing genre fiction (although he does not mention it by name or discusses it in any details) but that is not what he’s interested in. I could not help but think about the self-publishing movement and the writers who embrace it, who will also find much to enjoy in the book but, like many other writers will feel very differently about some of the topics. Charles Johnson mentions a couple of times that he did not himself study a degree in creative writing (his method is more like an apprenticeship, and it reminded me of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography and his account of his self-education and dedication to learning, although with a very different goal in mind) and says that those degrees do not exist in Europe (they do, so I’m not sure all the essays are up-to-date). He acknowledges changes in standards and interests in the student body, and how he’s had to adapt his reading list to such changes so they remain relevant.

The author uses wonderful quotes from great writers and philosophers to illustrate his thoughts and make some points. I had to stop highlighting the text as there was hardly anything left without colour on the page, and this is one of those books eminently quotable and that will keep readers going back for second helpings.

This collection of writings by Charles Johnson is likely to make anybody interested in books and writing think and reflect. Some of the advice might be easier to apply than other, depending on the style of writing and the intentions of those reading it, but many of his reflections and thoughts will resonate and inspire most of us, and who would dispute the importance of storytelling?

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Way-Writer-Reflections-Craft-Storytelling/dp/1501147226/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Way-Writer-Reflections-Craft-Storytelling/dp/1501147226/

Thanks to Net Galley and to Scribner for offering me a copy of the book and thanks to Charles Johnson for sharing his career with us, thanks to all of you for reading, and if you feel so inclined, like, share, comment and CLICK.

Categories
Book review Book reviews Escaping Psychiatry launch Writing

My own #newbook and what’s to come in the runup to Christmas

Hi all:

The end of the year is approaching quickly and I was trying to work out how best use the blogging days left. I have accumulated a lot of book reviews that I’d like to share before the end of the year, in case you’re looking for books to either purchase for others or to help with the festive season. Yes, I’m one of those people who finds all the Ho-Ho-Hos a bit too much at times. Trying to catch up on all of them might mean to either share several in one post (but I don’t want to tax people’s patience), blogging more often (we have the patience issue again), not featuring new books (unless I’ve read them too) or… Perhaps I’ll see what I come up with and join books by genre. I have at least one Christmassy book I want to share close to the date too. Well, we’ll see.

I know I’ve been talking, on and off, about the next book in my Escaping Psychiatry series. I’m only waiting now for some work on the paper cover to get finished (I’ve decided to publish the novel with the prequel as extra content in the paperback version). But no matter that, I’m set on publishing it before the end of the year, paper version ready or not. As it’s not very Christmassy, I’m thinking about trying to make it coincide with the time between Christmas and New Year. I haven’t decided if I’m going to make it available as a pre-order or not (other than knowing everything is there, it won’t make any difference, and in my case it hasn’t worked as a promotional strategy before).

I thought I’d remind you of the book:

Escaping Psychiatry 2. The Case of the Swapped Bodies
Escaping Psychiatry 2. The Case of the Swapped Bodies

Escaping Psychiatry 2. The Case of the Swapped Bodies

A woman shot dead. No enemies, no motive, only a story about how she swapped bodies with another woman found on her computer. The other woman in the story, the owner of the swapped body, goes into labour and won’t talk.

When FBI Agent Dave Dean asks psychiatrist/writer Mary Miller for her assistance, she doesn’t know that The Case of the Swapped Bodies is not the only mystery in Port Haven. A hit and run, an armed robbery gone wrong and questions about family traditions, priorities and legacies come into play and complicate matters. The line between fact and fiction is more tenuous than anybody realised and suspense is on the menu.

This is the third book in the Escaping Psychiatry series and it poses new challenges for Mary Miller. And not all the challenges are professional ones. How do you carry on when you’ve survived the unthinkable?

Here is the blurb:

In Port Haven, and idyllic small town in California, a career woman appears shot dead in her own apartment, a pregnant mother of three who won’t/can’t talk is the main suspect in the murder and the only evidence is a suspenseful story about swapped bodies found on the victim’s computer.

In this psychological thriller, psychiatrist and writer Mary Miller, a recent survivor of a rape and attempted murder, gets to collaborate for the first time with the FBI agents who saved her. Agent Dave Dean, her would-be suitor, is not himself. The sheriff’s men aren’t cooperating. And the case is like a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces. Will Mary manage to see beyond the lies and fiction?

I have shared a couple of the chapters here before, but if you prefer you can also check them in Wattpad.

Thanks to you all for reading and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK if you fancy. 

Categories
Book reviews Writing

M.M. Bennetts Historical Novel Award. Have you written a historical novel?

Hi all:

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might remember that a few months back I was very busy reading novels for a Historical Novel award, the MM Bennetts, and I couldn’t really talk very much about it. I received an e-mail yesterday about this year’s award and I’m going to help once again with the process of selection. This made me realise that I had not dedicated a post to the winner, and I thought, better late than never. So here it is:

Into the Hidden Valley
Into the Hidden Valley by Stuart Blackburn

Into the Hidden Valley by Stuart Blackburn

The sins of the father …
Charles Taylor was raised in the typical British manner of the late Victorian era: distant from his father, George, a civil servant in India. The two grow closer as Charles ages, but after his father’s untimely death, he finds himself on a path of discovery about George’s life and his role in the pacification of tribes near the Tibetan border, especially his father’s encounter with a powerful shaman and his son. A past as hidden as the Apatani valley, which protects its secrets well.

Stuart Blackburn was born American, but is a man of the world. Experiencing India first hand in Peace Corp, Stuart would later go on to earn a PhD in Indian culture and folklore. A teacher for many years, Stuart’s writing remained in the academic field until 2014 when his first novel , Murder in Melur, was published in India.

Link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YT6WGV2/

I have not read the novel and I can’t give you my personal impression, but having been involved in the process of selection, I’m aware it must be pretty special to have made it all the way and won.

In case you want to know a bit more about the author and the novel, here are two posts, one announcing the winner, and the other sharing a detailed interview with the author:

http://www.mmbaward.org/2016/09/announcing-winner-of-2016-award.html

Interview:

http://www.mmbaward.org/2016/09/interview-of-stuart-blackburn-2016.html

And if you’re an author, or know one, who writes historical novels, you could be interested in submitting the novel. Here is the post that explains it all:

http://www.mmbaward.org/2016/09/call-for-submissions-2016-we-invite_23.html

Thanks to the M.M. Bennetts Awards organisers for counting with me again, thanks to all of you for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment, CLICK, and tell your author friends!

Categories
Friend helpers and good-eggs in general. New books Writing

#Newbook MY VIBRATING VERTEBRAE by Agnes Mae Graham (@Storyreadingape) A fitting homage. And in case you haven’t met the Story Reading Ape…

Hi all:

As you know on Fridays I try to bring you new books. And today I have a very recent book that I thought deserved an introduction.

I’m sure that a lot of you in the blogosphere know The Story Reading Ape and his blog Author Promotions Enterprise. Chris Graham (a.k.a The Story Reading Ape, or perhaps, The Story Reading Ape, a.k.a Chris Graham, I’m never 100% sure) is deservedly known as he works ceaselessly to help and promote writers.

Chris Graham, The Story Reading Ape
Chris Graham, The Story Reading Ape

Let me tell you a bit what he does (in case you haven’t crossed paths with him yet… Where have you been hiding?).

He has a Hall of Fame where he shares features of authors whose work he finds interesting and also of supporters of his blog. Here is the link where you can check both features. If you’re an author but have never been featured in the Hall of Fame or didn’t know about it, you can check here how to go about submitting an article. (Yes, I am featured but I’m not going to pester you with it. If you want to find me, please do…)

If you’re interested in finding writing resources, Chris regularly writes his own, has guests and also generously shares and reblogs content he finds interesting. Go and explore his author resources!

If you’re looking for a great design service, he also provides covers, 3-D covers and videos at bargain prices (and I’d advise you to keep an eye open for special offers). Check here to see what he can do!

He also recommends other people’s services and has great content like the Monday Funnies, so I just advise to explore in general.

OK, I’m sure by now you’re wondering what any of this has to do with the new book. Chris has always said that as much as he enjoys reading and loves the ins and outs of the world of writing, he doesn’t think it’s his thing. But, he decided to do something wonderful. Enter

Agnes Mae Graham
Agnes Mae Graham

Agnes Mae Graham is Chris’s mother. She’s no longer with us but she wrote poems. In her day and age, it was difficult (well, almost impossible) to publish and there were no easy options available to everyone as we have now. Chris’s sister Lorna had kept her poems. Chris re-read the poems, talked to another great supporter of authors and great author herself, Jo Robinson, and here is the result:

My Vibrating Vertebrae by Agnes Mae Graham
My Vibrating Vertebrae by Agnes Mae Graham

We all have dreams, loves, and hopes; but what if you are a girl growing up in 20th century Northern Ireland before, during and after the ‘Troubles’?
From the poetic thoughts of our Mother, we get a sense of what it was like, ranging from humor, sadness, wistful thinking and sometimes just downright nonsensical, these are the words of one such girl.

Available from AMAZON:

UK  –  USA  –  CA  –  AUS

If you want to read in Chris’s own words how the book came to be, you can check this great post, here.

My father was a great storyteller but he didn’t write. My mother is more of a listener, but I’m planning on prying a few stories out of her while she’s still with us. I love Chris and Lorna’s idea and I had to bring it to you.

Thanks to Chris, Lorna and Agnes Mae Graham for the book, thanks to Chris for all his help to writers, and thanks to you for reading, please, like, share, comment and don’t forget to CLICK and explore not only the book but also the Story Reading Ape’s site. 

Categories
Writing

#Bookideas. Non-fiction. Living alone. What is your expertise? #TuesdayBookBlog

Another winning image from Unsplash.com
Another winning image from Unsplash.com

Hi all:

Although I’m busy at the moment with translations (mine and other authors’ as well. By the way, don’t forget my promotion), my brain has been focusing on writing too. I think I already mentioned that I’d finished the draft of the next story in the thriller series ‘Escaping Psychiatry’ (and if I don’t change my mind it’s going to be called ‘The Case of the Swapped Bodies’) and now I’m correcting it and translating it. I have ideas for several stories on the series, fairly detailed for the next one. I also have a romance that every so often pops up asking to be written but it hasn’t managed to get me writing yet. My mother keeps trying to convince me to write sequels of some of my stories (and I have some half-baked ideas for possible ones). We’ll see if she manages.

For some time now, I’ve been wondering about non-fiction. I’ve read quite a number of posts on writing about what you know that might be of interest to others, and more recently, one of the Webinars I attended asked about the unique area of expertise that one has that others need to know about or would find interesting and useful. And that got me thinking. I had an interesting conversation with Teagan Geneviene where we talked about expertise, careers, jobs, and noted that some of the skills one acquires might not be stuff easy to teach (I can’t teach anybody to become a doctor or a psychiatrist by writing a book, there are great books on literature and criminology and I don’t have a particular expertise born out of years of teaching or working on either subject, and with regards to writing or publishing books, other than suggest you don’t do things the way I have, I don’t have great wisdom to share).

I had a thought. I live alone and have done so for many years (sometimes I’ve shared accommodation in hospitals or colleges but that’s not the same as living with somebody) and have had people (women mostly) tell me they wouldn’t dare to live alone, or they wouldn’t do many other things by themselves, like go travelling, go to the cinema or to the theatre alone, go to a restaurant… Although I don’t think I have much of an expertise on the subject, at least I have some experience and came up with quite a few topics I could write about related to it. I checked, looking for books about it, and found some readers complaining that most of these books (not that many) seemed to focus on women who had to live alone after their relationship ended and much of their books was about how they tried to find a partner, rather than showing living alone as a voluntary choice and a happy one.

I’ve written a few notes and have some ideas on what I could write about, but wondered if you had any thoughts. Not only about that topic, but also: what’s the non-fiction book you’d like to read? Or what topic you could (or are planning to) write about?

If you’re avid readers of non-fiction: what characteristics do the books you’ve enjoyed most share? Where do you discover these books?

And if you’ve written some non-fiction books, did you find it a totally different experience? Any thoughts or tips (both on writing it and on what you did next)?

Oh, and another question: Would you be interested in reading some posts where I explore some of the topics I’m thinking about covering in the book?

Thanks so much for reading , and please, like, share and comment. And all suggestions will be very welcome.

Another great image from Unsplash.com
Another great image from Unsplash.com
Categories
book promo Writing Writing samples

#FREEChapter2 of my psychological thriller ‘Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings’ #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

As I promised last week, here is chapter 2 of the prequel to Escaping Psychiatry. Escaping Psychiatry Beginnings.

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés

2.     The Firm

“Mary! Here you are!”

Phil hugged her and slapped her on the back. He looked well. Dressed casually, well, what passed for casually in Phil’s books, perfectly ironed chinos, Italian black leather shoes, a polo shirt, and impeccably cut and combed hair, and with a huge smile on his face. He definitely had something planned.

“You look like the personification of a WASP on his day off,” Mary said.

He chuckled. “Now, now. I’m wearing full length trousers. No tweed or golfing attire. And in my heart of hearts I’m a small town boy.”

“If you say so.”

He grabbed Mary’s arm by the elbow and picking up the suitcase she had deposited on the floor, guided her inside. “Come in, come in, have a look. You can drop your things in your room, here, and then we’ll have breakfast.”

“I had a drink on the train.”

“But I haven’t!”

Mary had a quick look at the apartment while Phil set the table. Tall ceilings, huge windows and an air of quiet elegance. A bit old-fashioned, but not pretentious.

“What do you think?”

“It’s a nice building and a quiet street, especially for Manhattan.”

“The rent is high, but I prefer it to one of those slick new apartments with no personality or charm.”

They munched on the toast, quietly. Finally Mary asked, “But how do you find the firm? I know you had misgivings. You thought it would be good for your career, but didn’t necessarily like their ethics.”

“I still don’t, although I keep quiet about it. Don’t ask, don’t tell, kind of situation. But they do have some of the best lawyers and I’ve learned a lot already. And there’s plenty more to come, I’m sure.”

“Are you thinking about effecting change from the inside?” Mary asked.

Phil didn’t look up from his plate, and kept playing with the marmalade and the butter, making patterns with his knife. “I don’t have a master plan as yet. So far I haven’t seen them do anything too questionable, although yes, they have a preference for taking cases that attract plenty of attention and are likely to be on the newspapers and TV. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with free publicity.”

Mary put her right hand on his, and managed to make him stop playing with his food and look up.

“Uh?”

“Don’t tell me you’re thinking of defecting to the dark side?”

He laughed, although his laughter sounded flat and not genuine. “Let’s not get melodramatic. I think the Force is still with me. They are committed to taking up a percentage of pro-bono cases, and I’ve volunteered. Sometimes one has to compromise. Even the devil can be a good ally if the cause is worth it.”

“Be careful. I fear for your soul.”

As he opened his mouth to reply, his mobile phone rang. Mary didn’t have one and didn’t want one. The thought of somebody being able to get hold of her anywhere and in any circumstances made her quite nervous. She hated being on-call, because you could never be completely at peace and you could be summoned at any time, and she felt that having one of those contraptions would be the equivalent of being forever on call. But Phil loved his gadgets, like most men she knew. And she also suspected it was a status thing. Although, thinking about it, it was probably one of his firm’s requirements.

“Yes. Of course I’m interested in being there when we talk to the client.” Phil put his hand on what must have been the microphone and made a gesture with his head, towards the phone. “It’s about that case I was telling you about. The writer,” he whispered.

Mary nodded. So far, she only knew the case involved a writer in some fashion or other but nothing else. He was doing a good job of building up the suspense.

“Yes. Sure. I’ll be there, Mr Wright. Oh, my friend… yes, the psychiatrist.” Silence. “Yes, of course I’ll ask her. I don’t think it’ll be a problem, if you’re sure the client will be OK with it.” He listened again and then laughed. “See you in half an hour. And thanks!”

“Was that your boss?”

“Yes. Percy Wright. Of the Wrights of Virginia. He doesn’t do much in the firm anymore, only picks up some case he’s interested in, occasionally, but he leaves all the groundwork to other lawyers and he just pokes his nose wherever he fancies. For some reason he’s quite intrigued by this case.”

“I guess he said I could go. But what did he say that made you laugh?”

“Oh, when I mentioned that I thought you’d be happy to come, of course if the client was OK with it, he said the client would be OK with whatever we told him. That he knew we were his best chance and he’d have to earn it. And he’d be grateful.”

“Oh.”

“Sorry for assuming you’d want to come…”

“Of course. I wouldn’t miss it. Now, I’m not sure if I’m more interested in the case or in your boss and the firm.”

“Well, Mr Wright always says that there might be some intrinsic quality attached to good and evil, but the justice system is a completely arbitrary set of rules and which side we are in is at best an accident and at worst just pure bad luck. So perhaps there isn’t much difference.”

Mary wondered if her friend believed what he’d just said or it was a philosophical position. The Phil she knew had always been very convinced of what was wrong and what was right. Jokes apart, she was slightly worried.

They left the apartment and hailed a taxi.

The offices of the firm where Phil worked (Wright and Partners, Attorneys at Law) overlooked Central Park. They occupied a whole storey in a slick commercial building, all glass and shiny surfaces. It was slightly cloudy but Mary imagined that on a sunny day it must have glistened and glowed like a diamond.

While they were in the lobby, waiting for the elevator, Mary said, “How peculiar! I would have thought that somebody like your boss would have an office in an old building, full of the weight of history and following tradition. But no. It couldn’t be a more modern and neutral place if he’d designed it intentionally.”

“I think that he wants to make sure everything is impersonal and can be replaced. Apart from himself, of course. And the same goes for the firm’s name.”

“Don’t the partners query the fact that their names are not on top of the door, so to speak?” Mary asked Phil.

He turned to look at her with a lopsided smile. “Like Mr Wright said about the client, they are OK with whatever he says. And they’re grateful. In my opinion it all boils down to his insistence on not leaving the slightest option open for anybody else to make a claim. The partners might come and go, but there’s only one Mr Wright.”

They reached the top floor of the building and stepped out. As soon as they crossed the massive glass doors, a young thin man who had been pacing up and down, rushed towards them. “Oh, you’re here, Phil. Mr Wright didn’t want to make the client wait too long. You know he likes to strike when the iron is hot, as he says.”

“We came as soon as we could. Traffic was quite heavy. This is my friend, Mary Miller. She’s a psychiatrist. We met at college. This is Ryan Spencer. One of the lawyers here. And aspiring partner.”

Ryan wore black thick-rimmed glasses that made him look child-like, and a beautifully cut suit that looked loose on him. Not as if it was the wrong size, but as if he’d lost weight. He didn’t look sickly, though, only anxious.

“Some days I’d be quite happy if I was just left to do my work in peace, but that’s very unlikely. Pleasure to meet you.”

He extended his arm and bowed slightly as he shook her hand. “And now, let’s go in. Mr Wright said that he didn’t want to formally introduce you, Mary, can I call you Mary?, at least not for the time being. He just wants the client, Mr Fenton, to think that you’re part of the team. No details.”

She nodded. She wasn’t expecting any long term involvement and that would make life easier. No need to overcomplicate matters. Also, people’s reactions on being told that she was a psychiatrist had always been a mystery to her. Some people would take the opportunity to try and get an impromptu consultation, right there and then. Others would retreat, as if they feared that she’d discover their most intimate thoughts and secrets only by looking at them. But Mary had no superpowers, and although at times she might have her suspicions and be able to come up with an educated guess as to what people were thinking, especially people she knew, unless the person talked to her, it was an almost impossible task. There were also the people who treated it as if it were a joke, or a funny anecdote, and asked her if she was going to ‘analyse’ them. Surely if someone asked her that, there would be little need for analysis. And she’d never been an expert in psychoanalysis. Or keen on the idea.

The three entered what looked like a meeting room, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. There was a middle aged woman, dressed in a blue suit, sitting with a laptop in front of her, in the farthest corner from the door. There was a very attractive young girl, blonde, with honey-coloured eyes and wearing a polka dot dress, sitting close to the door. She had a small notebook and a pen and seemed poised to not miss a single word. Next to her was a man, older than Phil and Ryan, probably early forties, impeccably dressed in a navy blue suit, whose greying hair was a bit longer than the standard of the business seemed to impose. Perhaps he had a streak of rebellion in him. Sitting at the centre of the oval-shaped table, was Mr Wright. Although Mary had never met him, once she saw the man sitting there, she had no doubt.

Mr Percy Wright’s appearance was rather peculiar. He was dressed as if he was in the country house he surely had, in tweed, wearing a jacket with brown elbow patches, and his face, with a protruding jaw and a broken nose, seemed more appropriate for a price fighter than for a top layer. On closer look, his green eyes were inquisitive and exuded authority, and his hands were perfectly manicured. Mary wasn’t sure if the man was a genuine puzzle or he had put a lot of thought into wrong-footing his opponents and collaborators alike. Phil’s boss turned towards the door when they entered and nodded curtly. Phil, his hand behind his back, gestured for her to follow him.

When they sat, on the same side as Mr Wright, she was finally able to see ‘the client’. He looked younger than she had imagined, mid-thirties, and was the only one dressed casually, in jeans and a black T-shirt, that she wondered if it was his uniform perhaps, like some very successful people were said to do (always wear similar clothes to be more productive and avoid getting bogged down making inconsequential choices). His eyes were small, so much so that Mary couldn’t see them well enough to decide what colour they were. Nothing too striking. He was slim, but his hands looked skeletal, and she hoped they would not be expected to shake hands with him. The thought that she might feel the bones made her cringe.

“Are we all here, then?” asked Mr Wright. They all nodded. He stared around the table, to make sure he had everybody’s attention, and nodded at his secretary. “Good. We can start, then. For those of you who haven’t met him yet, this is Oliver Fenton, the famous author. Steve, give us the main details of the case.”

Steve, the older man of undefinable age, started talking. “Mr Fenton is accused of aggravated assault, although it could become attempted murder —it depends on the DA and how things evolve—, on the person of a Miles Green. Mr Fenton describes what amounts to serious harassment on the part of Mr Green, who had been pestering his agent, and later him personally, sending letters, making phone calls, and in general making a nuisance of himself, for months. On the day of the incident, Friday the 23rd of April, as Mr Fenton was on his way out of his apartment building in 5th Avenue, Mr Green appeared from behind the reception desk, and attacked Mr Fenton, threatening him and trying to choke him. Mr Fenton managed to overcome his attacker and restrain him onto the floor. As he resisted and tried to attack him again, Mr Fenton hit him on the head with a heavy brass lamp. Very shortly after, it seems, a couple who also lived there arrived, stopped Mr Fenton and called an ambulance and the police. Mr Green was already unconscious then. He hasn’t recovered since and remains in hospital in intensive care.”

That had been around six weeks ago.

“What did you mean when you said that the couple ‘stopped’ Mr Fenton?” Phil asked.

“He was still hitting him with the lamp when the neighbours walked in.”

“Do we have any pictures of the victim?” Phil asked, again.

Steve looked at Mr Wright, who nodded, and Steve passed a folder to Phil. He looked at the contents for a few seconds and then passed it to Mary. She thought she shouldn’t look at them, but realised it would seem weird to the client, and quickly looked over the pictures. She doubted she’d ever be able to recognise Mr Green based on those pictures. His face was so swollen and bruised that it was difficult to make out the slits of the eyes. The bridge of his nose was flattened out, and it looked as if both cheekbones were fractured. The next picture showed a ragged hole in the back of the head, a few inches from the nape of the neck. The impact had been so hard that the skull had caved in.

She passed the file to Ryan, who shook his head, indicating that he’d already seen the contents, and stood up, taking the file back to Steve.

“Any word from Mr Green’s doctors?” Mr Wright asked.

Steve cleared his throat and said, “They have no idea if he’ll make it. They had hoped that with steroids the swelling of the brain would go down and things might improve, but so far that’s not the case. His family have asked that they do some further tests. They seem determined to pull the plug if they can find no evidence of brainwaves.”

As Mary was about to say something, Phil grabbed her arm tightly and she kept quiet. He asked, “What family are we talking about?”

Steve sighed.

“He was, is, I mean, married and they have twins, a boy and a girl, 18 months old. They were separated, and had not lived together for six months prior to the incident.”

“He blames me for the separation. The victim, I mean.” Oliver Fenton had spoken. Although the volume was low, there was steel in his voice and his words resonated around the room. No remorse, no sadness.

They were all looking at the client. Rather than being intimidated by having all eyes on him, Mary thought he seemed to puff up and grow taller, as if he enjoyed public attention.

“Yes, he kept following me everywhere, writing, phoning, turning up at events, insisting that I’d taken everything from him and I was a criminal.”

“How?” Phil asked. “Did you know him? Did you have an affair with his wife? Was that the reason for the separation?”

Mr Fenton shook his head. Mary noticed how his neck was reddening. “I’ve never met the woman. Or him before all this. He was mad. Who knows why somebody as crazy as him does anything?”

“Even when people are ‘mad’, they usually do things for a reason, although perhaps it’s a reason that only fits in with their delusional view of the world. Do you have any idea about what he thought you had done to destroy his life?” Mary asked ignoring Phil’s kick under the table.

“He insists that I’ve written about him in my book. He told everybody that he was the person my main character, David Collins, was based on, and he kept insisting that due to that people were pestering him. It seems that the guy who had abused him had turned up, convinced that he had sold the story, and had threatened his family, and Green had been the victim of all kinds of humiliations.”

“Was it true?” Phil asked, looking at me intently, before turning to the client.

“No, of course not! Yes, I’ve based the book on the story of a person I know, but I’d never met that Miles Green guy before. And I’ve changed the details. Nobody would be able to recognise the individual by just reading my novel. I made sure of that.”

Mr Wright cleared his throat, noisily. It seemed his time to talk had come. He leaned forward and looked at the client intently. Mr Fenton’s face grew paler, but he returned the look.

“So, Mr Fenton… You’re telling us that Mr Green was making a nuisance of himself and following you everywhere, accusing you of all kinds of things and threatening you. Didn’t you think of going to the police?”

“Of course I did! You can ask my agent, Mike Spinner. I called them and we even went to the station to make a statement. They agreed to give him a warning but said that unless he actually tried to do something violent, there wasn’t much they could do. They suggested that perhaps the easiest thing to do would be to reveal who the real person behind the character in the novel was. That way he’d leave me alone and move on to something else. Can you imagine?! Reveal my sources!” Two red marks had appeared on his cheeks and seemed to be spreading and his eyes were bulging with anger. Mary saw now that they were grey.

“Well, you’re not a journalist…” Ryan said.

Mr Fenton jumped from his chair, but Mr Wright raised his hand and waved at him, getting him to sit down again.

“Don’t get excited, Mr Fenton. I guess what Mr Spencer, our young friend here, meant, was that you’re not sworn to secrecy and it’s not a professional obligation. Although I understand your wish to protect your sources. But, I wonder if you could enlighten us and give us some background, as I suspect not everybody here will have read your story, no matter how popular. We tend to have our heads buried in other types of books and papers, so you’ll have to forgive us for our ignorance. If you could be so good as to tell us, what your novel is about, when it came out, etc. We don’t need too many details, but just enough to help us understand the circumstances of the affair.”

Mr Fenton kept looking sideways at Ryan while he talked. “My novel, The Darkest Night, is the story of David Collins, a man who is brought up in a Catholic family, subjected to sexual abuse by one of the priests at the religious school where he studies, and later by a male neighbour, who is also a friend of his father. When he tells his family, they do not believe him, and he ends up on the streets when he is only fifteen. His life is very difficult. He lives on the streets for a while, and survives as best he can until he is literally pushed into an Army recruitment office and decides it must be fate and enlists. And life changes completely for him. He fights for this country and becomes an upstanding citizen.”

“I see. And you say it’s based on a true story,” Mr Wright added, opening the file and seemingly checking something.

“Yes.” The writer’s eyes were fixed on the file.

“At this moment in time we’re not going to ask you to give us the name of that person, although let me make it perfectly clear that it might become necessary that we know, later on, and that here we are obliged, by professional code, to keep the secret, so you don’t need to be worried about that. But in the meantime, if you could tell us how you came across the story, unless the protagonist is based on somebody you’ve always known.”

“No, no. Nothing like that. It’s quite simple, really. I volunteered, years back, and manned a telephone helpline for people thinking of committing suicide, or with mental health problems in general. A young guy phoned me and told me his story. This was a few days before he enlisted and he had hit rock bottom. We chatted for quite a while and he agreed to phone me again in a few days. When he phoned me again, he had enlisted and was ready to go into training. He kept in touch when he could and even phoned me when he got posted to Iraq. When he came back, we arranged to meet and by then I had decided his story should be told, although in novel form. When I suggested it, he agreed, on the understanding that he would read it and I’d make changes to protect his privacy and hide his identity. And that’s what we did.” He only raised his eyes to look at Mr Wright when he finished talking. To Mary’s ears it sounded rehearsed, but then he’d probably been asked the same question quite a few times.

Mr Wright looked around, as if inviting further questions. Phil didn’t hesitate, “Are you still in touch?”

“With the original David, you mean? Once the novel came out and it started to attract so much attention we decided it would be best not to be in contact, to prevent anybody from making the connection between him and the book.”

“I’m surprised he didn’t come forward when he heard you were in trouble,” Ryan said.

Judging by the look Mr Fenton shot at him, Ryan would not be on his Christmas-card list.

“He’s not that easy to reach.”

Mary was surprised that nobody asked him why. Either the information was already known, or they’d all assumed that somebody else would ask the question and now the moment had passed. Ryan was on the edge of his seat, but even he must have thought he’d attracted enough hostility from the client for one day and gave up.

“If it’s OK, I have to meet my agent for lunch. We had organised a book signing tour, and with all this we’ll have to reschedule.”

“Yes, of course. Maggie, my PA, will arrange a few appointments, starting on Monday morning. We have plenty of information to work through. And you haven’t met Mr Mayfield, yet. Although he’s the youngest of my partners in the firm, he has plenty of experience in similar cases.”

Mary looked at Phil and he shook his head slightly, as if to indicate that they’d talk about it later.

The author stood up and nodded briefly. The woman who had been typing in the corner accompanied him out of the meeting room. Once the door closed behind them, Mr Wright cleared his throat. “Phil, will you introduce your friend to all of us, please?”

Phil blushed and stood up. Mary couldn’t help thinking about a headmaster telling off a young kid.

“This is Dr Mary Miller. She’s a psychiatrist. She also writes, although she has not published anything yet.”

Everybody nodded in her direction. Then Phil proceeded to introduce everybody. Steve Burman smiled pleasantly. The young girl, Tania, no surname used in the introduction, was there on a placement from college.

“My Dad works in accounts and thought it would make for an interesting project. And Mr Wright kindly agreed.”

“And Maggie, my PA, who’s gone out with Mr Fenton. So, first impressions?”

“It’s a good story,” Steve said.

“Do you really think so?” Ryan asked. “There are lots of holes in it.”

“Nearly as big as the one in the victim’s skull,” Phil added. “I don’t know how big or heavy that lamp was, but to make a hole that size, he must have hit him with something very heavy and many times. Once the attacker was unconscious, why carry on?”

“Perhaps we’ll have to look at his mental state and mental health. Maybe the harassment became a bit too much for him and he lost control,” Steve said.

“Could we convince you, dear Dr, to consult on the matter? You could do an assessment of Mr Fenton’s mental state and see if there’s anything else we need to do. I mean any tests, imaging, or any other expert we could call that might be of use when putting together his defence,” Mr Wright said, looking intently at Mary.

“He didn’t strike me as particularly disturbed, but the current circumstances aren’t the best to make a judgement. As long as I can fit it in during my visit, I’d be happy to be of assistance.”

Mr Wright smiled at Mary and then stood up, nodding at everybody and officially ending the meeting.

 

As I told you last week, to prepare for the launch, Escaping Psychiatry is available for only $0.99. Here I leave you a reminder and some links:

 

Escaping Psychiatry cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry cover by Ernesto Valdés

Escaping Psychiatry

‘Escaping Psychiatry’ is a collection of three stories in the psychological thriller genre with the same protagonist, Mary, a psychiatrist and writer. She is trying to develop her literary career but circumstances and friends conspire to keep dragging her back to psychiatry.

In ‘Cannon Fodder’ Mary has to assess Cain, an African-American man accused of inciting a religious riot when he claimed that he could hear God and God was black. He might not be mad, but Mary is sure he’s hiding something.

‘Teamwork’ sees Mary hoodwinked into offering therapy to Justin, a policeman feeling guilty after his partner and ersatz father was killed on-duty. Before Mary can extricate herself from the case, things get personal.

In ‘Memory’ Mary goes missing after an incident with Phil, who is manic as he hasn’t been taking his medication. When she is found, she has been the victim of a horrific crime, but they soon discover she was luckier than they had realised.

The epilogue revisits Mary at the point of the trial of her abductor and sees what changes have taken place in her life. Will she finally manage to Escape Psychiatry?

AMAZON (e-book)    KOBO           NOOK            APPLE           SCRIBD        

PAGE FOUNDRY   OYSTER    PAPER

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Categories
Writing

Writers on writing and new guest blogs

Hi all:

I don’t know if I’m unique in this, but I not only love reading and writing, but I’m fascinated by books and films about writing and writers. I can listen to interviews with my favourite writers without ever getting bored and I love it when authors I like write about…writing.

I was reflecting on how many horror stories there are about writers who end up locked up in a nightmare of their creation, or stalked but their fans (Stephen King‘s     Misery is a great example of the genre, and the film adaptation, like many of King’s materials, good in its own right). Crime writers see their crime novels copied by killers. And of course now we have Castle but who could forget Murder She Wrote?

I recently watched Ruby Sparks that I loved. Young man who wrote an incredibly successful novel when he was really young but 10 years later hasn’t managed to write anything else (yes, the one hit wonder). He starts dreaming about this girl, talks to his psychiatrist (great Elliot Gould) who suggest he writes about her and that seems to solve his writers block. Better than that, she comes to life and then, the story changes from wish-fulfilment into a strange version of Pigmalion where the writer can’t decide what he wants her to be. The story is really about him and about his need to realise that dreams are not real and nobody is perfect. Or, if you love somebody  you have to set them free.

This is all a roundabout way of getting to what I wanted to tell you. I hope you have the same love of writing and writers than I have because I’m planning on getting guest authors to come to my blog and talk about their writing process, their inspiration, their likes and dislikes, their projects…anything they like, really. For the moment I’ll let it be a surprise, but I’m hoping for guest next Friday.

In the meantime, so you don’t forget about my book, I have a new trailer that Magda Olchawska has created for me (I’ve posted about her before).

I’ll have to give you the link as it seems I cannot post the video itself.

The link to my book in Amazon (not sure the ones in the film work) is:

English:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009TWRT22

Spanish:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009TWEGC8

 

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