Guest Author Stuart Handley

Today out guest is Stuart Handley, author of yesterday’s post LOL#1. Here is a link to my book review http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-5wr

Stuart Handley

Let’s find out more about Stuart.

1) Where is your home town?

 

I live in Auckland, New Zealand, in one of the outlying northern suburbs. I consider myself to be lucky to live in a country with beautiful scenery and a rich diversity of life. Five minutes from my house is the Hauraki Gulf which offers some amazing boating and fishing and on a beautiful calm day the water and the small islands within the gulf look stunning. I was born in a town called Taupo which lies on the shores of the largest fresh water lake in New Zealand bearing the same name. Taupo is the place I really call my home town.

 

2) How long have you been writing?

 

Full time now around eighteen months. Before that I used to get up in the wee hours of the morning and write before going off to paid employment. I do recall when I was a young boy writing my first book called ‘Danger Man.’ It must have been at least a couple of pages long, hand written in pencil and bound in a stiff piece of cardboard bent double. The binding was a piece of string.

 

3) Do you have a preferred genre for writing?

 

I have a feeling I could write in most genres but I like writing where strong characters can be placed in difficult situations that bring out their emotions, much like as would happen in real life. I have known some very courageous men and women who have been in very trying situations and when you do know them personally, you realize that they are just human; they have emotions just like the rest of us. I have also seen the underbelly of some in society, those whom have scant regard for others. Mix the two together and you get a clash of good over evil, those who deserve and those who do not. My time as a soldier and probably my own personality led me into the genre of thrillers and action combined with underlined themes which I will tell you more about later.

 

4) Tell us what inspired your collection of short stories for LOL#1

 

Well, I wrote these short stories in the time when I used to get up in the wee hours. One of the stories about the molluscs was inspired while taking a lunch time walk along the beach at low tide. The story about the dog is due to my love of animals and the antics I have seen them get up to. Life experiences has a lot to do with some of my writing. I used to be a shepherd with a small team of dogs and some of the things they got up to…I also worked as an inspector with the RSPCA in Australia so I have a natural affinity with animals. As I write this my cocker spaniel is sleeping in his bed next to me. Now the bees! I keep a couple of hives myself and yes, I have had the odd bee or two end up on the wrong side of the veil I wear. Let me tell you, you go cross-eyed very very quickly and when they get caught in your chest hairs, oh the pain…

 

 

5) I loved some of the animal voices which narrated several of these stories, how easy was it to get these right?

 

Animal have very real personalities, I recall being on horseback riding along with my dogs next to a small bank above a creek, one of my dogs must have been day dreaming and fell off the edge, I laughed myself silly at him. When he scrambled back up you should have seen the look he gave me; if only he could have talked!

 

6) Give us a quick insight into your book TanDrex, entice the readers in.

 

My novels have an underlying them, with TanDrex it is what happens when science goes a bit too far and there are consequences. In real life, nanotechnology will one day be able to replicate anything we can think of, scientists believe that day is not that far off. Okay, say they can replicate gold, good and bad could come of that but say they replicate carbon eating organisms and these organisms grow and grow (they replicate.) Our world needs carbon to survive. If that technology gets into the wrong hands then quite literally we are all in deep trouble. In TanDrex the technology has been devised, the code for replication has been discovered and one of the companies’ owners wants to sell it — to the highest bidder, the Chinese Triads. Someone needs to step in and stop it.

 

7) Last week we featured another of your books BioKill with a book team review by Susan, what’s the main theme of this book? Here is a link to Susan’s Review http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-5vB

 

Terrorism is a fact of life be it a bomb or something else. In BioKill it is that something else. This is a fact from the CIA; there is a virus, which does not affect humans, that can cause an estimated 50 to 60 billion dollars in lost revenue to America alone. That virus is not something you would normally think about. How easy is it to transfer between countries? Very easy, too easy. Worldwide, governments are aware of this — particular problem and most try to prevent it from happening but terrorists are terrorists. I had reservations about writing this book but the more I researched, the more I found that the answers to certain technical problems are already in the public domain. If I could find them out so could others. When reading BioKill it is too easy to just see this as a novel, a make believe piece of fiction.

8) Susan commented that she liked many of the genuine sounding voice accents, how do you decide what is too much or too little of a local accent/ dialect to use?

 

This is when you need your work to be professionally edited. Writing a book is a team effort. As a writer you need to be flexible enough to take constructive criticism and alter things if they need altering. Don’t get me wrong, at the end of the day the authors own voice is what counts, that gives the style to the book. The author has the final say as to either accept or reject advice. Susan gave me some constructive criticism that I will be taking in, she did an excellent job of the review. It’s all part of the journey.

 

9) What are you working on at the moment?

 

I have nearly completed my latest work, which of course, also has a theme. The book takes one to America, South America, Afghanistan, Australia and New Zealand. Again I have done research, so for example, while reading part of the story of a bike gang (Road Kill) in New Zealand, you should find the way they speak and interact pretty comparable to real life. As for the theme, let me ask you this; is it possible to make a human being do something that they would never dream of actually doing, make them commit something that was totally outside their own nature. The answer is yes, it can and has been done. Think about the School of America and what happened back in the 60’s and 70’s. Both in TanDrex and BioKill as well as in my upcoming book, Matt Lilburn, the series central figure, figuratively rolls up his sleeves and gets stuck in.

 

 

10)Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

 

My books can be found at Amazon http://amzn.to/1pxyt3K

and Smashwords http://bit.ly/1jSmUqd and the retailers of Smashwords e.g Barnes & Noble, ibooks, Kobo etc.

 

 

 

 

Good Deeds Week 19th – 25th January

Good deedsWelcome to my weekly roundup of my year long challenge to do one Good deed a day for a year. This challenge began back in April 2013 and is still going strong. My inspiration came from reading “A Year of Doing Good” by Judith O’Reilly. Here is what I’ve been up to this week.

January 19th – Went to visit my parents and return a book about the geology of New Zealand. A fascinating book, but I didn’t get to finish it, just a bit too academic this time. Mum had a friend whom she wished to lend the book to. Was able to help out with several small computer issues Mum had, just tweaks and finding files saved all over the system. Good deeds received: Have related the tale of our missing parcels (from last weeks post) Dad was able to lend us 2 clamps from his own workshop for us to continue with our bookcase project. Thanks Dad.

January 20th – A good morning helping out at school, no phone calls interrupting me and I successfully completed all my tasks. Sorted out a coffee date with a friend for next week to catch up with each other, and lucky me I’m also out to dinner with friends next Wednesday.

January 21st – Just heard of a friend who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, will be supporting the family any way I can in the next few months. Walked to the post box to post a letter and picked up litter on my way home. Met my neighbour who is just recovering from a stroke and had a chat.

January 22nd – Volunteered to be the driver today for my dinner date next week with a couple of friends. Set up two book reviews on sainsburysebooks.co.uk , they recently contacted me about doing some book reviews for them and I started with The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion and Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando.

January 23rd – Posting a cover reveal today for author Cherie Reich and her new book Reborn. http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-4ox Dashed to the post box with an urgent letter and took a calmer stroll home and picked up more litter. Good Deeds received; Lots of Thanks from Cherie for the cover reveal, she’ll be sending me the book to read and review in a few weeks time.

January 24th – Officially launched my A to Z April Challenge 2014 today, I’ve probably jumped the gun, but I need authors to sign up and so I need to give them time to start acting. Got a book you think could fit? Want to promote it for free? Check out the post and get in touch  http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-4r7 The A to Z Challenge was set up in 2010 by Arlee Bird and last year over 1600 bloggers from around the world took part. I had a ball visiting other bloggers who write about all sorts of subjects that I wouldn’t usually seek out and I increased my followers to my own blog too. Good Deeds received; The first authors to jump in and sign up for the challenge are thrilled to have the opportunity of a free promotion.

January 25th – Today I have a guest author on the blog, L.T Vargus, if you’ve missed some posts this week do try and check out her interview. http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-4o9. My A to Z Challenge has had a great start, I’ve filled 8 places already. Please do spread the word if you know an author who might like to have their book promoted during the challenge. There won’t be much work involved. Short punchy posts work well during the challenge because everyone is encouraged to visit and comment on as many blogs as they can, so they only have time for a quick visit to blogs. The trick is to make the post a memorable one with easy links for readers to buy the book or find out more about the author.

Guest Author Jamie Baywood

Today my guest on the blog is Jamie Baywood and her book Getting Rooted in New Zealand.

Jamie Baywood authorLet’s find out more about Jamie;

1) Where is your home town?

Petaluma, California.

2) You wrote your book from diary entries, have you always liked writing?

I didn’t start keeping a diary or writing until I moved to New Zealand. Getting Rooted in New Zealand is a collection of my emails, memories, and dairy entries. It seemed natural to organize the book in chronological order in dairy format.

3) Can you tell our readers what made you choose to go to New Zealand?

Growing up in California, it was always my dream to live abroad. I found a work abroad company that helped young Americans get work visas in New Zealand and Australia. I had been watching a lot of Flight of the Conchords at the time and enjoyed Bret and Jemaine’s sense of humour and accents.

I had bad dating experiences in California and read in a New Zealand tour book that the country’s population at 100,000 fewer men than women.  I wanted to have some me time and an adventure. New Zealand seemed like a good place to do so.

4) How long did you plan to initially stay in New Zealand?

I had a 12 month visa, but I literally had no plans.

5) What type of jobs did your work visa allow you to do? Would you like to see a change in this type of visa?

The visa I was on only permitted me to work temporary positions. This greatly limited my options.

As crazy as my job experiences were in New Zealand, I would actually like to return to New Zealand and give it another try working as a writer. It would be great to return to New Zealand to make Getting Rooted in New Zealand into a TV show.

6) I believe the cost of living shocked you, can you give us some examples?

It was mostly the cost of fresh produce at grocery stores like bell peppers and cucumbers were $5 each. It would have been ideal to have a garden and grow my own veggies.

7) Tell us about “Performing” stories from your adventures. Where did you perform them?

I was very lucky in New Zealand to meet a lot of talented people outside of work. I had the opportunity to write and perform for Thomas Sainsbury the most prolific playwright in New Zealand. I performed a monologue about my jobs in the Basement Theatre in Auckland.

The funny thing about that experience was Tom kept me separated from the other performers until it was time to perform. I was under the impression that all the performers were foreigners giving their experiences in New Zealand.  All of the other performers were professional actors telling stories that weren’t their own. At first I was mortified, but the audience seemed to enjoy my “performance,” laughing their way through my monologue. After the shows we would go out and mingle with the audience. People would ask me how long I had been acting. I would tell them, “I wasn’t acting; I have to go to work tomorrow and sit next to the girl wearing her dead dog’s collar.” No one believed I was telling the truth.

8) How did meeting Grant change your views on meeting men?

I’ve always loved men, too much in fact. I didn’t escape California because I hated men; I left because I was perplexed by how to date.  I had one boyfriend from the age of fourteen to twenty-three. There were a lot of life experiences and things I should have learned in high school and at university that I didn’t.  After my first relationship ended I felt like a zoo animal released into the wild. I had no idea how to date and for a few years was completed bombarded by unwanted suitors in California.

By the time I meet Grant at the age of twenty-seven, I had fulfilled my dream of living abroad, been single for over a year and felt healed from previous heartbreaks. Grant had been in a long term relationship since he was a teen as well. He was more clueless about dating than I was. I found comfort in our mutual awkwardness.  Grant was very different than the guys I dated in California. We spent the first couple months going on long walks and talking. It reminded me an old-fashion courtship. I knew very early into dating him that he would be my husband.

9) At the end of your book you were hoping to move to Scotland to find a college course, did this work out?

 We didn’t stay in Scotland to study as planned. For unwanted complicated reasons, we had to move to England to study.  I have just completed a one year MA in Design. Designing my book cover was my dissertation project.  Grant is in middle of a two year MA in Landscape Architecture he will be done in 2014. We plan to move when his course is completed.

10) I know you a had a sneak look on the internet at holding a wedding in a Scottish Castle, did you fulfil this dream?

We got married in a little castle in Scotland at the beginning of year 2012. My husband wore a kilt. I was hoping for a white winter wedding, but we ended up getting sunshine in Scotland during the winter. It was a magical day; we had a rainbow over a loch, bunny rabbits hoping by us, birds chirping and a full moon reflecting on the loch at night.

Getting Rooted in New Zealand is available in paperback and eBook on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1482601907 and Amazon.co.uk

Jamie Baywood can be followed on:

Facebook.com/jamiebaywood
Twitter.com/jamiebaywood
Pinterest.com/jamiebaywood
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7069448.Jamie_Baywood
amazon.com/author/jamiebaywood

Getting Rooted in New ZealandGetting Rooted in New Zealand book description:
Craving change and lacking logic, at 26, Jamie, a cute and quirky Californian, impulsively moves to New Zealand to avoid dating after reading that the country’s population has 100,000 fewer men. In her journal, she captures a hysterically honest look at herself, her past and her new wonderfully weird world filled with curious characters and slapstick situations in unbelievably bizarre jobs. It takes a zany jaunt to the end of the Earth and a serendipitous meeting with a fellow traveler before Jamie learns what it really means to get rooted.
About the author Jamie Baywood:
Jamie Baywood grew up in Petaluma, California. In 2010, she made the most impulsive decision of her life by moving to New Zealand. Getting Rooted in New Zealand is her first book about her experiences living there. Jamie is now married and living happily ever after in the United Kingdom. She is working on her second book.

I’d like to Thank Jamie for being our guest today.

Getting Rooted in New Zealand by Jamie Baywood

Getting Rooted in New ZealandGetting Rooted in New Zealand by Jamie Baywood

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Getting Rooted in New Zealand is Jamie Baywood’s first book about her escape from California to Auckland. It is written in diary format and tracks her experiences with finding, primarily a home and job in a country where the language, customs and prices shocked her. Her work visa restricts her to temping jobs, and her budget to pitiful accommodation. Finally she finds comfort with Grant, yet their future plans are complicated by international restrictions. Making your home in any new country can be a huge experience, it was a shame that Jamie didn’t enjoy New Zealand.

What worked for me were all the different people that Jamie included in her book. There were certainly a wide range of characters.

What didn’t work for me; I found myself skipping the long copies of e-mails within the book and I would personally put the author dedication and notes after the story.

The diary format of this book allows it to be an easy read for anyone interested in someone’s personal experiences in a foreign country.

Find this book here on Amazon.

View all my reviews

Romancing September author Marina de Nadous (Day 17)

Welcome to Day 17 of Romancing September Across the World. Today’s author is Marina de Nadous and her book “The Celestial Sea”. Cross over to Georgia USA in a few hours and read what Marina has to say about writing romance in today’s society with Stephanie.

Marina de Nadous author

Marina has chosen not to reveal her full picture for privacy reasons.

Let’s find out more about Marina;

1) Where is your hometown?

My hometown is Frome in Somerset, UK

2) How long have you been writing?

I began writing 7 years ago

3) Have you always written romance?

No—I never set out to be a writer. I am a novice author launching a series I have been working on since 2006. I consider myself a scribe, recording a story that arrived unexpectedly in my lap. 

4) Your book is written in diary format, why did you choose this?

My above answer goes some way to explain my reason for the diary format. Written as a diary narrative, the story includes the beginnings of my writer’s career and the conception of the series. In a way, the story turns itself inside out as my writer’s journey becomes embroiled in the script.

 5) There is a chalk model of a ship on your book cover. What is the role of the ship in the book?

I shall leave that as a mystery—for now. I don’t want to expose too much of the magic interwoven through the pages of The Celestial Sea Voyages. ‘Lovers’ Metaphor’ is a clue.

6) Much romance is written with characters in the 20-30 year old age bracket, do your characters fit this model?

Move it on ten years—my story will probably resonate more strongly with adults in their 40/50’s. I presumed I had written a romance for women in this age bracket but I have been enormously surprised to find that the men are appreciating the story just as much, if not more, than my female readers!

7) You chose New Zealand as the setting for your book, why?

For one reason only—I just happened to be there when the story appeared. Others would say it was destiny that took me there. My story certainly points to the ‘destiny’ theory.

8) Do the New Zealand Maori traditions play a part in some of the spiritual areas of the book?

Many aspects of Kiwi life are represented throughout the story—seen through the eyes of a domestic housewife and mother new to the Southern hemisphere. I hope I have represented lots of interest in this realm and yes, Maori heritage, culture and spirituality provide evocative elements throughout the tale.

9) Fans have described this as one of the ‘Great Love Stories’, why do you think that is?

This is a hard one to answer because I am both the writer and the protagonist. All I can say is that the romance is totally unique. I have never read anything that compares. Each person takes from it what they will. Readers with a spiritual leaning will gain most from the series. Mix a cocktail of ‘Shakespeare in Love,’ ‘Bridget Jones Diary’, add a nautical, sacred ingredient that can’t be put into words and perhaps—perhaps that might just define the story—sort of!

10) Will any of your work be available to buy on Kindle?

Yes—the series is available in both paperback and Kindle.

11) You’ve just published book 2 in the series, what is it called? How many more books are you planning for fans? Any planned publication dates?

The first book; ‘The Celestial Sea’, was published last August. The second book is called ‘Dry Dock’ and came out at the beginning of this month. There are several volumes planned, but as yet I have no fixed publication dates. It rather depends on the public’s appreciation. Over to you, readers—how much can you take?

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Find “The Celestial Sea” on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

A Big Thank you to Marina for being our guest today, Good Luck with the series.

After the Fall by Charity Norman

After the FallAfter the Fall by Charity Norman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a book about a family who decide to emigrate to New Zealand to leave behind a failed business and give themselves a new start in life. Each member of the family expects a different outcome from the move and the family left in England have their own opinions about the emigration. Martha and her family are tested severely by their choices and for some it’s too much. Is New Zealand the paradise they wished for or the hell they all fear? I related to this book as I have been to New Zealand and I have a friend who emigrated there, leaving behind her own failed business and finding a few demons of her own!

View all my reviews

Progress, progress

Getting down to writing a book has a great sense of achievement for me. Firstly I am loving what I am doing, I get a great buzz from it.
So how are things are going? Well I’m no techno expert which is all part of the challenge. I can’t upload a picture to this blog yet, but I’m determined to get over that hurdle! Last minute details for my characters need adding and a few other touch ups.
Meanwhile I am still a full-time mother, so domestic life must continue. Having decided to stop moaning about the housework because I am the only one who gets upset by either the moaning or the state of the house, I’m breezing through the backlog. Homework and revision still need to be done by the children. Nearly messed up big time when I only remembered on Friday that it was Fathers Day today, but managed to buy a prezzie and card on behalf of the kids. Got home to scan the calender for the next week to make sure I was up to date with everything and realised we had a friend with a birthday on Saturday! No worries! I had a few spare blank cards and a (very expensive) first class stamp, so that disaster was avoided. Checking the number of events written and crossed out for today and realised that it was also our wedding anniversary! Bother, I knew the 17th rang a bell! Oh well, fingers crossed that I can cheekily say the Fathers Day prezzie covered both, and hope hubbie hadn’t got me much.
Playground parent: This is where I’ll do my piece about school, education etc. So this week there is the issue of government proposals to re-form pre-school education. Reports are out from academics in Regensburg University, Germany and their fellows from Otago University, New Zealand, about childrens performance in school. They have compared hundreds of children who began school at different ages and compared their abilities. Children who started school at age 7 performed just as well as those who started school at 5, and some out-shone their peers!
This is timely when our own government wants to put more emphasis on the 3R’s at an earlier age, and wishes to set targets for children to achieve before their 5th birthday.
What do you think? is there too much pressure on our children?
Lastly; Bringing it all back to reality in the playground: M&S had 20% off all school uniform when I was there on Friday. Look out for more bargains as other stores want your business too.