Cover Crush: When It’s Over by Barbara Ridley

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I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of stories and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

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When It's OverWhen It’s Over by Barbara Ridley

She Writes Press/ Historical Fiction/ Pub Date 26 Sep 2017

Coming of age in Prague in the 1930s, Lena Kulkova is inspired by the left-wing activists who resist the rise of fascism. She meets Otto, a refugee from Hitler’s Germany, and follows him to Paris to work for the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War. As the war in Spain ends and a far greater war engulfs the continent, Lena gets stuck in Paris with no news from her Jewish family, including her beloved baby sister, left behind in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. Otto, meanwhile, has fled to a village in England, and urges Lena to join him, but she can’t obtain a visa.

 

When Lena and Otto are finally reunited, the safe haven Lena has hoped for doesn’t last long. Their relationship becomes strained, and Lena is torn between her loyalty to Otto and her growing attraction to Milton, the son of the eccentric Lady of the Manor. As the war continues, she yearns to be reunited with her sister, while Milton is preoccupied with the political turmoil that leads to the landslide defeat of Churchill in the 1945 election.

Based on a true story, When It’s Over is a moving, resonant, and timely read about the lives of war refugees, dramatic political changes, and the importance of family, love, and hope.

My Thoughts:

The first thing that drew my attention to this book was actually the title. It spoke to me in different ways. First it hit me personally and then of course when I read the premise it drew me in on a history level-if that makes any sense. This goes to show that even titles, and book covers can have an emotional impact on a person. The layout itself has meaning and a time of war, fascism, encounters, relationships, and turmoil.

For those of you who are readers, you can request this book on NetGalley.

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Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Erin’s latest Cover Crush HERE

Other great book bloggers who cover crush:

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation

Meghan @ Of Quills & Vellum

More cover crushes over at indieBRAG!

 

Sense and Sensitivity (and Censorship) by Award Winning Author G.J. Reilley

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Over the past several years, I’m sure that many readers have noticed changes in the way that books are written and presented, both in mainstream and in independent publishing. Whilst some of those changes have been subtle, others have been reasonably blatant. One thing is certain, however – nearly all of those changes have been justifiable. Nearly all.

I don’t mind admitting that I first started planning this article after reading a piece on the BBC’s website about Anthony Horowitz (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39988992; 21st May 2017). Broadly, it discusses Horowitz’s feelings at being ‘warned’ that he shouldn’t include a character of colour in a piece of work. According to the piece, it was suggested to him that he’d be unable to adequately portray the character because of his inexperience as a person of colour.

As statements go, this sentiment has certain ramifications for the book industry and, indeed, the creative arts as a whole.

If a white author is unable to adequately portray a character of colour, it must follow that a male author is incapable of correctly portraying a female character, mustn’t it? Having never experienced life as a member of the opposite sex, I, as a writer, need to employ a great deal of empathy in order to relate to my female characters. But that is why research is undertaken and discussions take place. It prevents those characters from ‘feeling wrong’, or niggling at the reader’s imagination.

Recently, a great deal has been made about publishing houses employing sensitivity readers, who check potential acquisitions for tone-deafness and insensitivity, and not all authors (or readers for that matter) are in agreement with this decision. Some opinions I’ve read have termed this extra buffer between the thoughts of the author and the opinions of the reader as a form of censorship.

I would argue that few authors looking to make a career out of writing set out to be inflammatory. There are oceans of differences between evocative, provocative and downright antagonistic writing, and I’d wager that most aspiring career authors do not want to cause intentional offence. It’s counterproductive. However, what if an author wants to include a controversial aspect into their narrative because it fits with the context of the story? If censorship of this type existed, would we ever have stories based around the abolition of slavery or women’s suffrage ever again?

Whilst Orwell’s Animal Farm (1945) was an interesting portrayal of the events leading up to the Russian Revolution, I don’t think many readers would appreciate the same being applied to the Suffragette movement. But, how else are we supposed to write about those events if no author can write characters that aren’t “in their experience”?

Then there’s the use of the much hated “stereotype”. In some cases (certainly not all), stereotypical characters are sometimes necessary because they are characters we can all relate to. They are uncomplicated, and usually, bear a resemblance to one or more people we have all come across in our own lives. Would I want all of my characters to be that way? No, it would make for some pretty awful reading and would negate a large proportion of my audience. Should they be intentionally offensive? No. But can they be used to provoke the desired response, if used appropriately, within the context of the story? Of course, they can.

This is where sense and sensitivity come into play. People come in all shapes and sizes, have varying levels of intelligence and are of varying skin tones. Each and every one of us is unique, both in the physical respect and in our experiences. The skill in writing a plausible character is the author’s ability to approach their work with a bit of common sense, and sensitivity towards the group they are writing about. This is why some of the most accomplished authors research their characters (and create backgrounds) before they even put pen to paper on the actual story.

Denying someone their creativity based on their inexperience is the severest form of censorship. It stifles their opportunities for self-growth and development, and it leads to biased points of view. In other words, telling a female author that they shouldn’t write male characters because they themselves are not male, is denying them the opportunity to empathise with the opposite gender. Telling a Chinese author that they can’t write about a Japanese character is denying them the opportunity to see life through their character’s eyes.

Telling any author that it’s insensitive to write a character of any colour that isn’t their own is denying them a chance to walk in their character’s shoes, and to understand what they might have been through. It doesn’t mean that, as an author, I can ever fully understand what it’s like to be a woman, or a woman of colour, or, indeed any person of colour. I don’t know what it’s like to be disabled, either. Does it mean that I can’t ever adequately portray any of the people mentioned above? Not if I take responsibility for my writing and research, it doesn’t. That is why realistic and researched characters are so important. Pre-empting offence will only limit the availability of what’s on offer to experience-based, bland, un-empathetic prose. That’s not to say that we, as authors, are entitled to be offensive. However, people looking for offence will always find it. Censoring literature or art based on what might happen is fruitless and, as a society, we may as well give up our creativity altogether if we take that route.  The alternative is going to lead to the same work being cloned time and again until we’re all sick of it. We will not grow. We will not experience. We will no longer empathise.

About Author:

Award Winning B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree 

By day, G. J. Reilly is a teacher of (mostly) ICT and Computing in the South Wales valleys, where he lives with his long-suffering wife and 2.4 cats.

He has an eclectic selection of hobbies, from playing a number of musical instruments with varying degrees of competence to learning the art of contact juggling and teaching sword-based martial arts. Having gained his degree, he spent ten years working in industry, before deciding to change career and head into education.

With an interest in high fantasy, contemporary fantasy and science fiction from a young age, it comes as no surprise that his first work falls into the young adult contemporary fantasy genre.

Anthropologist & Historical Fiction Writers: How are they linked?

me-iiAs a child I was inquisitive and longed for adventure. When I was ten years old or a little younger, I dreamed of being an archaeologist. I remember my friends and I at lunch recess digging in the sand for fossils. As I got older, I still wanted to know more about the past, thus began my deep love for history and anthropology.

There are different types of scientific fields.  Scientists from various fields many times work together to find answers and to uncover the past. They use hypothesis, evidence, technology for solving problems, and ask questions on what they observe to help them come to some sort of conclusion. We know that not everything we question has answers which leads us to different avenues to explore.

When scientists investigate and come to conclusions they usually write a scientific paper of their findings; then they publish their work. When scientists publish their work, not everyone will agree with their findings resulting in more questions and discussions. I would say it takes as much courage to be a scientist as it does an historical fiction writer because they will be both judged on the accuracy of written history.

How are the two linked? The definition of anthropology is the “study of human societies and cultures and their development.” Anthropologists study different aspects of humans from the past; how they lived, worked, cultivated the land, and so on. Anthropologists provide vital information on human existence.

Truths and or hypothesizes are revealed when we look to the past. The past speaks to us in many ways. The history of cultures and the human condition reveal these realities. A good historical fiction writer gives us tangible material to bring the past to life. In their research they must look to the past and study the civilizations and cultures-very much like anthropology.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 

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One Reader’s Voice Out Loud

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Hi folks. I have been a way for a bit and as you can tell, I haven’t posted in a while. Also, I meant to get the Reader’s Voice series up and running at indieBRAG this week. It did not happen but I will make a strong effort to get up and going this weekend or early next week. It really is great to hear from all our readers. Their voice and opinion is vital to the success of indie and to the success of indieBRAG. There is a tremendous response from them. We appreciate them so much and they are great to work with. Please stay tuned. Its going to be fabulous! Below is the link to our blog so you can bookmark it.
Authors be sure to thank your readers!
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Stephanie M. Hopkins

indieBRAG Team Member

Historical Fiction Matters

me-iiIt is no surprise I love historical fiction. I am a history enthusiast and there is nothing like escaping to the past and exploring how people lived long ago. We often find ourselves not so different from them. Or how history repeats itself in more ways than one. Historical Fiction Writers today brings those voices to life so we might share a bond with them or better yet, learn from them. There is so much we have inherited from them. Not only our cultures, religions, social norms and wanting acceptance but a deep feeling of survival and planting more roots for the future.

We must know history to understand and to grow. Knowledge is power. We must also study history so we may not to repeat past mistakes of our forbearers. Which we tend to do regardless. The human condition is extraordinary and an enigma.

Historical Fiction does matter.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Listening Instead Of Reading

I can’t believe I am saying this but I haven’t done a whole lot of reading in the last week or so. Instead I have been listening to audio books. It’s not my usual norm. You see, I don’t often listen to them. I prefer reading to listening. Anyhow, I have found two interesting audio books. I am curious as to how I will review them when the time comes.

what-she-knewWhat She Knew by Gilly Macmillan

In her enthralling debut, Gilly Macmillan explores a mother’s search for her missing son, weaving a taut psychological thriller as gripping and skillful as The Girl on the Train and The Guilty One.

In a heartbeat, everything changes…

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.

the-drapers-daughterThe Draper’s Daughter by Ellin Carsta

A thrilling historical novel by the author of The Secret Healer.

Cologne, 1351: Elisabeth and Stephen Hardenstein are twins, but they could not be more different. While Elisabeth is inspired by the family business, absorbing everything her father shows her about the cloth trade, Stephen enjoys a leisurely life and pays little attention to their father’s teachings. Elisabeth recognizes her true vocation as a tradeswoman, and though the odds are stacked against her, she pursues her passion.

When the twins’ father suffers a tragic stroke, the tables turn. Suddenly Stephen is interested in running the draper’s shop his father left behind, and he takes the lead in managing the family business. But Elisabeth can’t sit idly by and watch as he makes bad decisions and accumulates debts. Stephen pushes her to marry as soon as possible, even proposing a suitor, but Elisabeth has her own ideas about matters of the heart. Are her talents in the art of negotiation enough to win her both the job of her dreams and the man she truly loves?

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