Interview with Award Winning Author Joan Fallon

Joan Fallon BRAG

I’d like to welcome Award Winning B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Joan Fallon today. Joan was born in Dumfries, Scotland but spent most of her adult life in England. Teacher, management trainer and business woman, she moved to Spain at the beginning of the new millennium and became a writer. Her first published work was a social history, ‘Daughters of Spain’, inspired by the women she met in her adopted home. Her subsequent books too have grown out of her experiences living and working in Spain. She is especially interested in Spanish history and has set her novels in periods as distinct as the Golden Age of the Moorish conquest and the Spanish Civil War.  She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Alliance of Independent Authors.

 Hi, Joan! Thank you for visiting with me today. Please tell me how you discovered indieBRAG.

 Well actually it was Helen Hollick, the lady who set up Discovering Diamonds, who recommended IndieBRAG to me. I first got to know her when she was working for the Historical Novel Review Society a few years ago.

I love your book cover! Tell me about your story, The Shining City.

THE SHINING CITY BRAG

The novel is set in southern Spain in the mid tenth century. The country is ruled by al-Rahman III, who is celebrating the fact that he has just pronounced himself caliph of al-Andalus by building a new palace/city, Madinat al-Zahra. Many of his subjects have flocked to this new city looking for work and among them is a potter called Qasim and his family. Qasim is running away from his past and hoping to build a new future in Madinat al-Zahra, where he has taken on a new identity. Even his sons do not know his history.

The woman on the cover of the books is supposed to represent one of the leading characters in the novel. She is Jawhara, one of the caliph’s concubines. She was originally from Saxony and was captured by Viking raiders and sold as a slave to the caliph of al-Andalus. She is very beautiful and one day she is spotted by Omar, the youngest son of Qasim the potter. He falls desperately in love with her and becomes obsessed with seeing her even though he knows it is forbidden on pain of death.

One night he breaks into the harem to meet her but it does not go well. His father is horrified at what he has done and the consequences for everyone are severe. I can’t tell you any more without spoiling the story for you.

What fascinates you most about the period in history you have written about?

As you know, I live in southern Spain and over the years I have become fascinated with the country and its history. The Moors lived in Spain for 700 years and their influence is everywhere – in the architecture, the language, the food and the culture. So naturally I was drawn to learning more about them. I chose the tenth century because it was the Moors Golden Age. Never before nor after, did the country have such a reputation for wealth, culture and learning, nor was it so egalitarian. It was the most educated country in the western world and people flocked from all parts of Europe to its universities and libraries.

Tell me a little about Qasim. Was he a real person in history or fictional? What are his strengths and weaknesses?

No, Qasim isn’t a real character but he is based on real people. For example, the past he is hiding is based on a real man called Omar ibn Hafsun, one of the rebels who fought against al-Rahman III. Qasim is a potter who moved to Madinat al-Zahra, as many other artisans and workmen did at the time. The caliph encouraged people to move out of Córdoba and settle in Madinat al-Zahra by offering them the money to build a house. It was an offer too good to miss and thousands of people moved to the new city. So, I made Qasim one of them.

Qasim’s strengths lie in his strong religious beliefs and his love for his family. He is a man of honour. He treats his wife as an equal – almost. His weaknesses are that he is not flexible enough when faced with his son’s mistake.

Describe the city for me.

Madinat al-Zahra is in ruins now. But it is believed to have been a wonderful place with street lighting, paved roads, running water and public bath houses. I think the best way I can describe it to you is to let Omar tell you what he related to his nephew when he was an old man:

‘Our ruler, Abd al-Rahman III, wanted to build a city-palace worthy of the title of Khalifa so he sent his engineers and architects out to find the perfect location.  And they did.  They found a spot in the foothills of the Sierra Moreno, green, fertile, sheltered from the north winds, with as much water as you could wish for, yet set high enough above the plain so that you would be able to see anyone approaching.  From there you could see across the valley of the Guadalquivir to Córdoba and beyond.’

‘It was indeed the Shining City.  When visitors entered through the Grand Portico, passing beneath its enormous, red and white arches, when they climbed the ramped streets that were paved with blocks of dark mountain stone, passing the lines of uniformed guards in their scarlet jackets and the richly robed civil servants that flanked their way, when they reached the royal residence and saw the golden inlay on the ceilings, the marble pillars, the richly woven rugs scattered across the floors and the brilliant silk tapestries, when they saw the moving tank of mercury in the great reception pavilion that caught the sunlight and dazzled all who beheld it, then they indeed knew that they were in the Shining City.’

How did you come to write this story?

Back in the year 2000 I went to an exhibition in Madinat al-Zahra. I knew nothing about the place before that and I was fascinated by its history, and particularly by the fact that the city lasted no more than 75 years. I knew that one day I would write a story about it.

What is a tradition the people have in this civilization?

At that time Moorish civilisation was far more advanced than the rest of Europe. The majority of people were educated, including women. Women were allowed to work, to go to universities, to own property, to have careers such a doctors and scribes.

It was a multi-religious society. The ruling class were of course Muslims, but both Christians and Jews were allowed to worship their own faith, pursue careers in government and live their own lives. They were not however allowed to try to convert any Muslims to their faith. It was a society that also relied on slaves – but the slaves were non-believers. If a slave converted to Islam he regained his freedom.

Who designed your book cover?

A delightful woman called Rachel Lawston of Lawston Designs. She has designed a number of covers for me now and has a knack for getting just the right feel for the book (without having read it!)

Where can readers buy your book?

The Shining City is the first book in The al-Andalus series. All the books in the series are available on Amazon, from Barnes and Noble and other bookshops, both on-line and in the High Street.

Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?

Only this. Whether you prefer to read ebooks or paperbacks, never stop reading and encourage any children in your lives to read as much as they can. I worry that people are drifting away from the written word now that there are so many alternatives available to them. I’d like young people to realise that there is nothing so satisfying as reading a good book and becoming completely engrossed in the characters and the story.

Thank you, Joan!

Thank you, Stephanie, for inviting me to talk to you.

other links: Facebook

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A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Joan Fallon who is the author of, THE GOLDEN CITY, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, THE GOLDEN CITY, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

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Interview with Award Winning Author Jim Andersen

Jim Andersen BRAG

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Author Jim Andersen to Layered Pages today. Shortly after the walk Jim quit his job at the paper mill and moved to Austin, Nevada where he lived for 32 years. While in Austin–chronicled in his first book ‘Lost in Austin’ (University of Nevada Press, 2009)–he worked various jobs, finally settling into positions of deputy sheriff for eleven years and Justice of the Peace for twelve. Jim is currently retired and living in Pahrump, Nevada, with his wife of 30 years, Val. He has one daughter, two stepsons and a cat.

Thank you for talking with me today, Jim. How did you discover indieBRAG?

Purely by chance.  I was looking into ways I might promote the book and just came across indieBrag on one of the searches.  It looked and sounded professional, and their function was clearly stated, short and to the point, all of which appealed to me.

How has your self-publishing journey been thus far?

Swift.  My other book was published by a University Press and took three years from the time it was accepted to the day it was printed.  I mean we’re burnin’ daylight here, and none of us know how much daylight we’ve got left to burn so that’s certainly a consideration.  The other thing I liked was the latitude I was given.  I really did have the final say on everything from the cover design to the punctuation.  The only thing I would have changed would be the photos accompanying the text.  For some reason, I thought the publisher would edit them a little as to focus and lighting.  However, I had total control over that too even though I wasn’t aware of it, so it wasn’t their fault.  The pictures are acceptable, they just aren’t as grabbing as they could have been.

Please tell me about your book, Sometimes a Great Notion…Isn’t, so much.

Sometimes a Great Notion

The ‘Great Notion’ was to get listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, a fad that swept the nation in the manner of the ‘pet rock’ craze or the Macarena dance.  In the late sixties, everybody was talking about the record book and trying to find some way to get listed.  I came up with the idea of walking from 14,496′ Mt. Whitney to Death Valley’s Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level; until Alaska joined the Union in 1959 those were the highest and lowest points in the entire United States.  My book documents the seven-day 143-mile trek I and three of my friends made, with the help of a support party and a lot of moleskin.

Would you undertake a challenge like that again?

Not likely.

What is one of the high points of this journey?

Mt. Whitney.  (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)  I suppose the high point would be early in the walk, on the second day from Whitney.  We’d hiked a bit off course to get to a phone booth located in the old town of Keeler, where I called home and my stepdaughter told me the Oakland Tribune newspaper had run a Sunday article on our trip.  It was from an interview done a couple weeks earlier and contained our picture and these final words which I still know by heart because they made such an impression on us; “If all goes well, four figures dressed in ghostly white will emerge from the shimmering desert near Badwater in eight to ten days.”  Any thoughts of quitting that might have been skittering around the corners of our thoughts were expunged by that beckoning vision, at least for the time being.

Describe Death Valley.  

It’s well-named.  The summer heat out there itself holds a world record in the Guinness book–134° logged on July 10, 1913.  A person can’t function very long, if at all, in that kind of heat.   We didn’t measure the air temperature on our walk, but we did take a reading of the ground temperature with a meat thermometer in Panamint Valley and it was 165° just before noon.  I would say the heat we encountered was just short of debilitating in Death Valley, even at night.  And the walking surface out there was the worst on the trip–jagged rocks and salt pinnacles.  If you’re already beat half to death, it’s a bad place to put yourself.

Did you and your friends meet others along the way and what was that like?

We met very few people once we hit the Mojave Desert.  And outside of a ranger on Mt. Whitney, I don’t recall talking to anybody except a few drivers while we were walking the roads. They kept offering us a lift.  You have no idea how hard that was to turn down.   Our campsites we just set up whenever we got too tired to walk.  We’d scouted the route and had several wide spots scoped out and we even used one or two of them.  Nobody ever came around our camps.

What was your learning experience while writing this story?

Well I intended to keep a daily journal the entire trip so I wouldn’t have to trust to memory, but that sort of went by the wayside after a couple days, when the focus somehow shifted from keeping a record to just keeping upright, period.  So, I did have to trust to memory which can be a little scary if you’re really concerned with getting the right happenings in the right order.  I am sure of the book’s overall accuracy but I wouldn’t want to swear to the details.  You just have to recall things the best you can and get on to the next page.  So, I learned you should keep good notes if you intend to write about some event in particular.

Do you have any new writing projects in the works?

Not at the moment.  My wife and I are in the process of moving to a new house in Nevada so I’m just too busy.  There.  That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Where can readers buy your book?

Amazon is about the only place at this time, but we hope to place them in both Mt. Whitney’s lodge and the visitor’s center at Furnace Creek.  Hopefully, this interview may even help with that stuff.

Thank you, Jim!

To purchase this book, click HERE to the Amazon links.

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Jim Andersen who is the author of, Sometimes a Great Notion…Isn’t, so much, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Sometimes a Great Notion…Isn’t, so much, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

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Interview with Award Winning Author Molly Greene

MollyGreeneHeadshot2

I’d like to welcome Award Winning Author Molly Greene to Layered Pages today. Molly writes the Gen Delacourt Mystery Series, which includes Mark of the Loon, The Last Fairytale, Paint Me Gone, A Thousand Tombs, Swindle Town, Lock the Cellar Door, Midnight at Half Moon Bay, The India Archives, and, out soon, Burn Rubber. For freebies, giveaways, and news about upcoming releases, join her Reader’s Club.

Thank you for talking with me today, Molly. Tell me how you discovered indieBRAG?

Hello Stephanie, it’s a pleasure to join you, thanks so much for the opportunity to talk about myself and my books! I heard about the indieBRAG program through my friend Virginia King, author and fellow B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree. Virginia is a staunch supporter of the program, and suggested I apply when I inquired about the Medallion on her book’s cover. I’m thrilled to have been chosen.

Please tell me a little about the premise of your book.

Mark of the Loon

Mark of the Loon is about a single, semi-isolated, thirty-something female real estate agent who falls in love with a cottage, side-steps a potential relationship and several obstacles to buy it, then slowly discovers that the house is so much more than it appears to be on the surface. As she and college friend Gen Delacourt unravel the mysteries attached to the property, she examines her personal issues and (better late than never) embarks on a new chapter of her life. Every title in my Gen Delacourt series involves a mystery, but also reveals some level of personal growth on the part of the characters.

Tell me a little about Madison and her strengths and weaknesses.

Madison is strong, disciplined, knowledgeable, and resourceful, but afraid of getting too close to a man. She has great relationships with smart, supportive, funny women. She does what she says she will do. She’s not afraid of taking risks, unless that risk involves her heart.

What is some of the history that surrounds this story?

The plot involves WWII, an Irish spy, Nazi looting, and Hitler’s plan to destroy the economics of the US and the UK by flooding the market with counterfeit bills.

How did you come to write this story and how many books will be in this series?

I’m an avid reader of mysteries and I love great writing, but over the years I grew tired of all the graphic gore and serial killers and child predators and unnecessary sex that so many authors depend on. So I set out to write a book that did not incorporate those things. The plot grew in my mind while my dog and I were on our daily walks, something I still rely on to hash things out as I’m writing.

Since then, I’ve grown the series to include eight titles with plots that avoid all the above-mentioned elements. I’m planning at least twelve Gen Delacourt Mysteries, then I’ll write a few standalones and/or another series that spin off a couple of Gen’s secondary characters I’ve grown to love.

What is the easiest and most difficult part of writing a series?

The most fabulous part by far is getting to know and understand characters so well that I know exactly what they’ll say and how they’ll react in most situations. It’s like having invisible friends! The challenging part, especially since I avoid many typical plot situations (sex, cursing, gore) is coming up with plausible cases and situations for my characters to react to. So far I’ve had great good fortune making this happen. I have two future book ideas in my head, and I also keep a file of real-life articles about weird and wacky stuff that might prove interesting for future story lines and characters.

How long did it take for you to write your story and what was your process?

I began LOON in 2009 when I was working full time, and it took a year to complete the first rough draft. A dozen full-book edits later it was published in 2012, then I edited the manuscript again in 2013. From 2014-2015 I wrote like a madwoman, publishing four more titles, then slowed a bit. Eight are available at this writing. My goal now is to publish two new titles a year.

Where can readers buy your book?

Amazon, of course, and other major online booksellers.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I have a marketing background and have always done a lot of business-related writing. I wrote narrative poetry when I was in high school. I never planned to be a writer of fiction; not until I sent Mark of the Loon to a friend to read and she told me she couldn’t put it down. I chose to believe her and embarked on a new path.

What are some of the writing tools you have learned along that way that has helped you?

I’m a panster at heart, which means I don’t know how a book will end until I’m at least halfway there. At first, I wrote knowing nothing about future events in the plot. But having a clue about what’s going to happen before it does helps an author write faster, so now I do a bit of outlining before each book, usually the first 10 chapters or so. That way I have to backtrack less, revise less, and it gives me an opportunity to think up cool scenes I might otherwise miss. Outlining is one of the best production-boosting tools I’ve learned.

Is there a particular message you would like to give to your readers?

I write mystery novels that include elements of cozy mysteries and women’s fiction. So far, all these stories are set in California. They each feature strong, independent female characters who are professional and/or amateur sleuths. My novels are both character and plot-driven, include both friend and romantic relationship elements, but no graphic sex or gore. My protagonists are flawed and smart and imperfect but manage to improve, both personally and professionally, in some way, through every story line. Think whodunit suspense solved by smart women!

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Links:

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A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Molly Greene who is the author of, Mark of the Loon, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Mark of the Loon, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

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Interview with Award Winning Author J.F. Rogers

JF Rogers BRAG

I’d like to welcome award winning author J.F. Rogers today. J.F. armors up in the Word of truth daily to battle as a church office administrator, a wife, and a mom with a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science. She is a health nut, a recovered troubled teen, and is consistently inconsistent. But, most importantly, she is a believer in the one true God and can say with certainty—you are loved.

Thank you for chatting with me today, J.F.! Please tell me how you discovered indieBRAG.

Thanks, Stephanie! This is my first interview. So, exciting…

I discovered IndieBRAG through K.M. Weiland’s blog Helping Writers Become Authors. She wrote a post wrapping up 2016 and noted awards her novels had received. One was the BRAG Medallion.

Please tell me about your book, Astray.

Astray

Astray is a spiritual journey. Fallon is a troubled teen with little to no love in her life. She’s existing. The story unfolds on her 17th birthday when she receives a necklace that belonged to her deceased mother. That very day, she’s chased by a wolf through the woods, knocks herself unconscious running into a branch, and wakes in another realm. In Ariboslia she encounters strange creatures, learns more about herself and finds something she’s always longed for—family. But she also must face the vampire-like creatures, fasgadair, that are killing or enslaving the people, farming them for their blood. Fallon must face the prophecy that devastated her family and destroy the fasgadair’s leader, her uncle. But it’s something she can’t do alone, and there is much she must learn along the way.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

Astray was originally entitled Ariboslia, for the world I’d created. But once I realized it was going to be a series, Ariboslia became the name of the series. I came up with Astray, Adrift, and Aloft for the titles within the series. Astray is fitting for the first novel because Fallon is lost. Off the path. Though she hasn’t a clue. Once trapped in Ariboslia she truly understands just how lost she is. But that’s the starting point for finding her way.

Who designed your book cover?

I came up with the concept and found the pictures and fonts. Unfortunately, I don’t know photoshop…yet. So my friend, Kara May LaPierre, lent her amazing graphic design skills to create the cover.

What age is this story geared towards?

Astray was intended for teen/young adult girls. Interestingly enough, it seems to appeal most to middle-aged women. I’ve received great feedback from men too.

Please tell me a little about Fallon Webb and how you came up with that name.

The majority of the names in Astray are Irish/Gaelic. I get the names from baby name websites. I try to find names with meanings that fit the character. In Fallon’s case, I liked the sound of it for multiple reasons. For one, it sounds like fallen…which she was. The other I don’t want to give away since it may be a spoiler to any potential readers out there. I chose her last name, Webb, because as I was envisioning her story and her backstory, delving into her family and their past, I found so many connections…like a web.

What is one of the skills she must learn for her quest?

Fallon must learn to trust. She comes from a broken family, raised by a grandmother who resents her. She has only one friend, Stacy. Despite their friendship, Fallon doesn’t fully trust Stacy either. She trusts no one.

How did you come to write this story?

That is a long story. The idea first came to me back in high school, sparked by Queensryche’s song Silent Lucidity.  “There’s a place I like to hide, a doorway that I run through in the night.” Those words, along with the haunting melody, stirred my imagination about other worlds. I tried to write the story many times over the years, but each attempt failed. Much later, a few years following my divorce, after I’d lost my job and all seemed hopeless, I returned to Christ. At that point, the book practically wrote itself.

What was your writing process and how long did it take to write your story?

Try as I might to be an outliner, I’ve come to accept the fact that I’m a pantser. I write by sitting down and writing by the seat of my pants. Of course, the final period on the final sentence in the final paragraph isn’t the end. Many readers provided feedback and I made many adjustments. My critique partners went through each chapter. And I made many more adjustments. Then my editor went over it which resulted in a whole slew of adjustments. Then I took the advice of a publisher, Steve Laube, and added 20, 000 more words and repeated the process… I’d say it took almost a year to write. A couple of years to edit. Another couple of years to add another 20K words and critique/edit again. Then a couple of years sitting on it, discouraged, before finally self-publishing it. In other words, a long time.

Where can readers buy your book?

Astray is available in paperback and e-book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It’s also available as e-book in iTunes, Kobo, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Inkterra, Smashwords, !ndigo, and Mondadori.

How did you get into writing in the Fantasy genre?

Fantasy is the best! I love reading books of many genres. But to me, reading is an escape from reality. When I escape, I want to be transported into another world that no amount of money could allow me to visit. I want to enter the world of someone’s imagination. That is what I hope to do for my readers.

How many books will be in this series?

I plan on having three in this series. I may go back and write prequels since there is so much backstory that will never make it into these books. And Fallon’s parents and grandparents have quite fascinating stories as well. Perhaps I should make them known…

How did you come to be a writer?

I’ve wanted to write all my life. It’s my escape. When I was little I would write stories about secret passageways to lands full of candy. As much as I love reading other peoples’ stories, I love being able to escape, at any time, into my own imagination. It’s a gift God has given me…as protection, for healing, and for pure enjoyment.

Thank you, J.F! Please visit with me again at Layered Pages!

Thanks so much for having me, Stephanie!

Author Website

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview J.F. Rogers who is the author of, Astray, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Astray, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

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Award Winning Book: Flank Street by A.J. Sendall

Me IIAs you all are aware of this summer I am selecting award winning books from the indieBRAG Library to add to my reading pile and to feature on Layered Pages. Today I have selected Flank Street. I love a good thriller and this one looks fantastic! If you would like to purchase this story, click on the title and it will take you directly to the indieBRAG, where you will see the buying links.

IndieBRAG’s mission is to discover talented self-published authors and help them give their work the attention and recognition it deserves. Their primary focus is fiction across a wide range of genres; however, they selectively consider non-fiction books.

Authors, if you feel your book can meet indieBRAG’s high standards, they encourage you to nominate it, but they cannot make any guarantees that it will pass either the initial screening or the subsequent review by their readers. On average, only 10-15% of the books they consider are awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion and are presented on their website and promoted on various social media sites.

Conversely, they do not make public the titles of any books or the names of their authors that have been reviewed but were not selected to receive a B.R.A.G. Medallion.

This award is an honor indeed!

Flank Street

Synopsis

I didn’t set out to write about Micky, or Carol, come to that… but this is how it happened.
The rain was falling steadily, running down the small, below ground-level window, which is the only source of natural light in the boiler-room where I write. For some obscure reason it reminded me of a rain-soaked street in Sydney, Australia; a street I’ve walked down many times, both wet and dry.

As I held that image in the back of my eyelids, a man appeared. Yellow streetlights reflected from the wet tarmac; he walked in the shadow of the plane trees, pulling his hood up against the unrelenting rain. He stopped, leaned against a tree, and waited. Right at that moment, I knew what I had to do.

I didn’t know Micky, but I’ve known guys like him, and so his character was soon defined; a grifter that could never amount to much without living in the shadows.

I hope you enjoy reading Flank Street, I certainly had fun writing it, and missed the daily interactions with Micky and Carol when it was finished. And I hope that one day I can sit and have a drink with them again… one day.

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When Micky DeWitt sails into Sydney, Australia, his only assets are a run-down yacht, his wits, and the skills he’s picked up as a dedicated career criminal.

Shiftless, cynical and dishonest, even with himself, Micky takes a job as a barman in Sydney’s seedy red light district of Kings Cross. He’s a chameleon, seeing himself as both master criminal and chilled-out world sailor. He wants a life on Easy Street, is driven by the desire to ‘get away with it,’ and addicted to the adrenaline rush that comes with that life.

Carol Todd is turned on by money and risk-taking. For Carol, there’s no such thing as “enough”. Being an escort to a few wealthy clients is just a means to an end. A couple of underworld connections help, too. But what she needs for her latest con is a fall guy—someone she can use and lose once she’s done with him. And Micky DeWitt looks like the perfect man to fall into her sultry, seductive honey trap.
Playing to Micky’s twisted sense of chivalry, Carol leads him into a hedonistic free-fall. As Micky’s life spins out of control it doesn’t take long to graduate from burglary to arson, then accessory to murder. And no matter which way he moves, someone’s going to get hurt… or die.

“Suspenseful, pithy, unpredictable, and laced with black humour, Flank Street perfectly captures the mood of Sydney’s criminal underworld.”

About A.J. Sendall

A.J. Sendall

I’ve always written, as far back as I can recall anyway. Until 2011, that writing was just for me, or as rambling letters to friends, and travelogues to family. I never thought about why, or if others did similarly, and the thought of publishing never entered my head. Since I left England in 1979, I’ve travelled widely, collecting experiences, people, and places as I did so. From the blood-soaked streets of Kampala, the polluted dust bowls of the Sahara, or the pristine ice floes of the Antarctic, I’ve gathered and filed them away. Some have recently squeezed through the bars of insecurity and are now at large in the pages of my first four novels. Others await their future fates.

Although I grew up in Norfolk, UK, I never felt truly at home until I lived in Australia, and that is no doubt the reason my first published novels are set there. All of my books have some element of fact in them. I guess it’s hard for any writer not to include events from their life. Our experiences shape our thoughts, and the words and actions of our characters.
I sometimes wish I’d become a novelist earlier in life, but then if I had, I wouldn’t have the range of characters and events that I do.

After spending much of my adult life travelling, I now live in a remote forest house in Germany with two Mexican dogs, an Icelandic horse, six French hens, and a mermaid who I found at a beach on the north coast of Bequia.

Author Website

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Do you love to read and would like to be part of a reading group who selects B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees?

If you are an avid bookworm, we invite you to become part of the indieBRAG B.R.A.G. Medallion global reader team. In this program, you’ll tell us a bit about yourself and the genres you enjoy reading. We’ll then provide you with digital versions of self-published books (ebooks), using the gifting process at amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com, and ask for your honest evaluation.

Your evaluation will be combined with those from other readers who read the same book, to help us determine if that author will be awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion, which has become a recognized mark of excellence within the self-published book industry.

To apply you must be eighteen years of age or older, and have at least graduated from high school. You must also have an ebook reader, or be able to download ebooks onto your computer, tablet, or smartphone. If you meet these requirements and would like to apply, please fill out the form below. We will give your application prompt attention and respond to you within two weeks.

Become a reader HERE

Enjoy your weekend happy reading!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 

 

Interview with Award Winning Author Gordon Long

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I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Gordon Long today. Brought up in a logging camp with no electricity, Gordon Long learned his storytelling in the traditional way: at his father’s knee. He now spends his time editing, publishing, travelling, blogging and writing fantasy and social commentary, although sometimes the boundaries blur.

Gordon lives in Tsawwassen, British Columbia, with his wife, Linda, and their Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Josh. When he is not writing and publishing, he works on projects with the Surrey Seniors’ Planning Table, and is a staff writer for <indiesunlimited.com>

Thank you for chatting with me today, Gordon! Please, tell me how you discovered indieBRAG?

I’m a staff writer for Indies Unlimited, and the name has come up multiple times as the Minions gather around the gruel pot and chat about writing.

Tell me a little about your book, Zoysana’s Choice.

Zoysana_s Choice

They say creativity comes from putting two old elements together in a new way. I took my favourite tragic hero, put him in a fantasy world, and gave him a sympathetic, loving stepdaughter instead of a vicious, overly ambitious wife (Shakespeare fans will have fun finding the tributes). And then I told the story from the girl’s point of view. So Zoysana is a young woman of mixed heritage, trying to find a place for herself in a changing world at the same time as the man she has come to love as a father is doing his worst to mess things up.

How did you come to write this story and how many book swill be in the series?

That’s rather complicated. I have always been in awe at the way Anne McCaffrey turned her Fantasy series, Dragon Riders of Pern, into Science Fiction by writing a space-age prequel series. So, once I got going on the first three books of the Petrellan Saga, (Books 4-6) and the history of the society became more and more important, I began to think how interesting it would be to go back and find out where these people came from. So for the next three (Books 1-3), I jumped back 400 years. It was all sorts of fun writing them all at the same time, inserting hints in the later books that readers can find in the prequel series. The seventh book is meant to tie it all together, but I haven’t exactly figured out how, yet. These are mostly stand-alone novels, with the main character from one book taking a supporting role in other books. So Zoysana hires Jhanes, the main character of The Innkeeper’s Husband, to help her fight the Inari, who become the fighting force under Anine, the main character of Mercenary’s Dream. And so on.

Steven Spielberg did it in Star Wars, why can’t I? I’ll tell you why. Because I don’t have a multi-million-dollar marketing campaign to tell everyone. I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity to explain.

BTW, The Innkeeper’s Husband is launching this month. Watch for it on Smashwords and later on Kindle.

What age audience is this story geared towards?

This book is specifically aimed at the “New Adult” audience: People of age 20-30, interested in stories about characters finding their place in society. However, it is also designed for YA readers (some violence, but very little blood and gore) and for older readers as well.

Is there any real historical significance or themes in your story? What is the time period for your story?

Because it’s Fantasy, the era would correspond with European late medieval society. There is a rough parallel between the Kyabrans, the old empire, and the Romans, although in Books 2 and 3, I play fast and loose by giving them 18th century sailing technology. I find it fascinating to set a novel in a historical or fantastical era where social change is happening, because I can draw parallels to the changes happening in our society. Zoysana would be a member of a visible minority in our society, with all the problems and opportunities that implies.

Tell me a little about Zoe

Zoe is a demonstration of how a sympathetic, friendly person can be rather hard to get along with at times, no matter how hard she tries. She was raised in isolation by her Kyabran grandfather, who gave her the best martial arts and diplomatic training in the world, but not much social interaction. When he dies, she is taken in by Barent, First Prince Ascending of the Arlyn Dynasty of Petrella, and brought up in Arlyn Castle. This makes her sympathetic, cooperative, and well mannered. It gives her a copious mental capacity, incredible fighting skill, and powerful leadership qualities. It also makes her stubborn, self-righteous, and serious. And, deep inside, it leaves her with a feeling of not really belonging anywhere. When a trader lord from Kyabra appears, she jumps at the chance to go with him to the source of her other heritage, and incidentally escape from the difficult choice of whether to be loyal to the kingdom or to Barent, who is in the process of royally messing everything up, doing the wrong things for all the right reasons.

When she returns to Arlyn Castle, she discovers that the conflict was only set aside, not avoided, and she has to make a choice that will affect her for the rest of her life.

Where can readers buy your book?

Amazon

Smashwords

Search by title at Barnes & Noble and iTunes.

What was your writing process for this story?

When I first started writing Zoysana’s Choice, I was doing it very part-time while working and raising a family. I would get an idea for a chapter, sit down and write it, and maybe leave the MS for a month before I got another idea. Very “seat of the pants” writing. I started with a prologue showing the meeting of Barent and Zoe when she was 9 years old and her grandfather had just died. That became too long for a prologue, so I set it up as an independent short story, “Requiem for A Hero,” which is available free at Smashwords

Then I wrote Zoysana’s Choice. Then I wrote most of Innkeeper’s Husband, Book 5. Then part of Mercenary’s Dream, Book 6. By then I was seriously thinking about becoming a writer, and I planned Book 1 of the prequel series out more carefully, setting up the structure and the conflict more to normal novel standards. I now have half of Book 2 and most of Book 3 finished, and seven or eight random chapters of Book 7.

Once I started self-publishing, I had to go back and seriously rewrite Zoysana’s Choice, applying everything I had learned in the 5 other novels I have published in between. Likewise Innkeeper’s Husband and Mercenary’s Dream.

As my writing career progresses, I do more and more planning before I write, but once I get writing, I go where the muse takes me. Characters often take over a scene and tell me what they’re going to say and what they’re going to do.

What do you like most about writing in the Fantasy genre?

My first delight is in creating characters, no matter what genre. But in Fantasy I love creating the worlds. I spend a lot of time thinking about the societies I am creating, and making them realistic. I also freely admit that I create societies to be in some way a reflection of our own, and use the similarities and differences to emphasize the themes of my novels. I’m a traveller and a big fan of geography, so I create maps, including climate and prevailing wind patterns. I always know how many days it would take a rider to go from one town to the next, or how long it would take someone to walk to the next village. I take most of my names, both people and places, from real geographical names. It gives them a sense of ethnicity.

Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?

My messages are all there in the themes of my books. Look for them as you read; I try not to make them obvious. In the words of Mark Twain (or was it Thumper the Rabbit in Bambi ?) “If you ain’t got nothin’ to say, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

 

Thank you, Gordon! Please visit with me again at Layered Pages!

The next book in Gordon’s Petrellan Saga, “The Innkeeper’s Husband,” is available at Smashwords

Coming soon on Kindle.

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A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Gordon Long who is the author of, Zoysana’s Choice, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Zoysana’s Choice, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

 

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Interview with Award Winning Author Marlo Berliner

Marlo B BRAGI’d like to welcome Award Winning Author Marlo Berliner today. Marlo is the award-winning author of THE GHOST CHRONICLES, her debut book which was released in November 2015 to critical acclaim. The book won the 2016 NJRW Golden Leaf Award for Best First Book, was named FINALIST in the National Indie Excellence Awards for Young Adult Fiction, received the Literary Classics Seal of Approval, was awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion, and was named one of the “best indie YA books we have seen in the past year, from both self-publishers and small presses” by IPPY Magazine. Marlo is represented by Eric Ruben of the Ruben Agency and she writes young adult, women’s fiction, and short stories. Her second book, THE GHOST CHRONICLES BOOK 2, will be released in August 2017. Visit her at marloberliner.com or on Twitter and Instagram @marloberliner.

When she’s not writing or editing, Marlo loves reading, relaxing at the beach, watching movies, and rooting for the Penn State Nittany Lions. After having spent some wonderful time in Pittsburgh and Houston, she’s now back in her home state of New Jersey where she resides with her husband, two sons, and a rambunctious puppy named Max.

Thank you for talking with me today, Marlo! Tell me about how you discovered indieBRAG?

I noticed an indieBRAG medallion on another young adult book and thought, “I’d like one of those, too!”

Please tell me about your book, The Ghost Chronicles.

The Ghost Chronicles BRAG

The book is about a young man who dies tragically and is trapped in the afterlife, where he falls in love with the ghost of a beautiful woman who died just as tragically as he did. The only trouble is falling in love and binding oneself to another soul is forbidden, for it may keep one or both of the souls bound to earth for longer than they should be.

To make matters worse, there’s also a danger in going too far with Sarah, because the “joining” of two souls in the afterlife is also strictly forbidden and they don’t know what will happen if they do go that far. Each time they touch they can feel the boundaries of their energies slipping perilously into one another.

Things get even more complicated as Michael learns he’s being pursued. Demons are after him because he’s a marked soul, a soul the devil wants very badly for some unknown reason.

So, maybe falling in love in the afterlife isn’t such a good idea.

What audience are you targeting with this story?

I designed the story with upper young adults in mind, but also tried to give the book that crossover appeal for the adult audience.

Tell me about Michael’s strengths and weaknesses.

Michael’s main strengths are his bravery and his inherent goodness. His major weaknesses are his impatience and his impulsiveness.

Give me an example of the relationship between Sarah and Michael.

Their attraction is magnetic from the very beginning. They have a lot in common – they both lost a parent young and they both lost their own lives way too soon. They’re also both free-spirited, fun-loving and have big hearts. Once Michael meets Sarah and gets to know her, he realizes they were meant to be together.

How long did you work on this story and what was your inspiration for it?

I worked on and off on the story for more than five years, but most seriously in the last two of those years. Inspiration for the best stories lie at the intersection of truth and imagination. The Ghost Chronicles began this way, as well. I had my ‘eureka’ moment one day while reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with my son. Chapter Eight, The Deathday Party, deals with the ghosts in the Hogwarts Castle and what it might be like to ‘live’ in the afterlife, so that provided the spark that ignited the fire to write The Ghost Chronicles.

At the same time, I was also thinking about a truth from my past. When I was seventeen I was in a car accident that wasn’t my fault. An accident that almost took my life. The thought of ‘what if I had died’ has been one that has haunted me ever since. So immediately I knew I wanted The Ghost Chronicles to be not only a story of what it’s like to be stuck in the afterlife, but I also wanted it to be about a boy who dies tragically through no fault of his own. The kind of story ripped from the headlines about a promising young person who has their life taken away far too soon. It won’t be completely apparent until later in the series, but I wanted it to be a story of great hope for anyone who has lost someone tragically, particularly someone young. I’m also hoping readers will take away the theme embodied in this quote from the book – “Cherish life, it’s absolutely precious.”

The final piece of the love story in The Ghost Chronicles fell into place after I stayed at The Angel of the Sea, an award-winning bed and breakfast in Cape May, NJ. This spectacular inn has been featured on several television programs and in magazines throughout the world. Most notably, it was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as one of the “Best Vacations in the World” and included in her television talk show. The two buildings of The Angel of the Sea are so iconic, that it is one of the most recognized Victorian structures in the United States. Legend has it that in the late 1960’s, a girl did fall to her death at the Angel of the Sea and did at one time, haunt the inn. The story of the girl has been included in several non-fiction books about ghosts in Cape May. Sarah’s character in The Ghost Chronicles was inspired by this legend and after staying at this romantic inn, I also decided to make The Angel of the Sea the setting for the book.

How many books will be in this series and will you introduce new characters in each one?

I’m planning to have three books in the series and will introduce many new characters along the way. I love bringing historical characters, both well-known and lesser-known, into the books.

Who designed your book cover?

My cover was designed by the very talented S.P.McConnell.

Where can readers buy your book?

The book is available at all major retailers – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound and Walmart.

Tell me about how you got into writing.

I began seriously writing in high school and thoroughly enjoyed it. I even had teachers and professors who told me I had true talent and begged me not to stop writing. I continued writing in college, but largely gave it up once I graduated because I was simply too busy with life. I picked it up again many years later when my kids were young and I was struck by the idea for THE GHOST CHRONICLES. This book just wouldn’t let me not write it!

Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?

I always intended THE GHOST CHRONICLES to be a thought-provoking story, and I hope the story touches your heart the way it touched mine.

Thank you, Marlo! It was a pleasure chatting with you! Please visit with me again soon at Layered Pages!

AUTOHR LINKS:

Amazon –
US

UK

Barnes & Noble

 Indiebound

Walmart

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Marlo Berliner who is the author of, Ghost Chronicles, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Ghost Chronicles, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

indiebrag-team-member