CAST OFF – the collection

I have earmarked the next few weeks in my diary as the time to really promote my new book, Cast Off, which was released by Solstice publishing last month. It has been selling steadily, particularly in the UK, without much input from me, but I will soon have print copies delivered to take to local events. Enough of a hint, surely, to get out there and do a bit of marketing!

Cast OffCast Off is a collection of short stories based around female characters in plays by Shakespeare – what are they doing or thinking whilst they are off stage? Do they like the lines the bard has given them? What do they really think about all that cross dressing? There is no need to be an expert in Shakespeare to enjoy the stories, but for the knowledgeable, there are plenty of opportunities to ‘spot the quote.’

Today and throughout September, in between the usual author interviews and posts on words and meanings etc, I will share the opening or closing sentences for several of the stories. And if these tempt you to buy the book, the purchase link is helpfully listed below!

Here are the first three excerpts:

  1. Last paragraph of Is Not This Well? (The Taming of the Shrew).

And, gosh, the audience didn’t half laugh on opening night, so he succeeded in writing a great comedy all right. I’m still not sure about the title though. And don’t get me started on that closing speech. “I ran out of time for more changes,” he told me, quite unabashed, when I challenged him. I’m sure there’s a word for men like that.

  1. Opening paragraph for A Midsummer Day’s Dreama midsummer day's dream

“You’re welcome.” Mia smiled her thanks to the barman then, with purse tucked under her arm and a glass of wine in each hand, she hobbled back out into the glare of the midday sun. Her feet were hot and sweaty, and she could feel the skin on both little toes chafing, adding to the pain she was already experiencing from an old blister on her right heel that had burst back into angry life earlier in the morning. It was stupid to wear heels on such a hot day but, with Helen being so tall, Mia liked to give herself a bit of a lift when she was out with her.

  1. Closing paragraph for Time Out Of Mind (Romeo and Juliet)

Dear Nursey, had she been to see this play one time in Verona before she came to the Bella Vista Care Home? She was such an old romantic, I can see why she would have loved the story. And I’m sure that is far more likely than that some English chap had written a play about how she and an elderly friar had tried to help two star crossed lovers get together. Maybe, as old age had worn away her wits, his tragic love story had become more real to her than her own life? After all, if I remember right, someone says at the end of the play – “they don’t come much fuller of tragedy and of woe, than this one of Juliet and her Romeo.”

Purchase links for the Cast Off collection and other stories: 

(Remember – you can always download at least one of my stories for free if you want to ‘try before you buy’!)

Cast Off, and most of the stories on Amazon Books, can also be purchased from http://www.solsticepublishing.com

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Meet author Molly V. Lovell

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Molly’s debut novel will be published on August 25th . Here she describes what it is about, her love of character, and how she fits writing into her already hectic life. Seems writing whilst watching TV works for her!

 

 

What is the title of your latest book?

 My latest novel is titled A Sibling’s Dilemma. It’s my first novel so I’m pretty excitedMolly 1 about it. A Sibling’s Dilemma is a contemporary romance novel about a private detective, Cassie, her sister, Ellie, and a CEO named Edric. Edric’s kid brother goes missing so he hires Cassie to find him. After Cassie finds Edric’s brother and earns his trust, Edric’s arch-rival hires her to infiltrate his company. Cassie agrees but knows that she’s not exactly the desk-job type so she gets her sister, Ellie, to work for Edric’s company as a mole. Ellie and Edric start to become friends and then she develops romantic feelings for him. It gets a little complicated, needless to say, since the only reason Ellie knows Edric is because she’s sent to spy on his company. I won’t say anymore because I don’t want to spoil things.

The book’s mostly about the characters—Ellie, Edric, and Cassie. They develop a lot during the story and their relationships with each other change.

 What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

 The most challenging aspect of being a writer, for me, is time budgeting. I’m a law student as well as an author. I spend probably about 40 hours a week doing legal things (attending class and studying in the school year and clerking at prosecution offices in the summer) and then I try to write an additional thirty hours a week and then I spend Molly 3about five hours a week marketing and such. I love writing and I need to actively make a point to budget work and family to make time for it. So far I’ve been rather successful. But that’s probably the most challenging part.

The most rewarding part is bringing my characters to life and telling a story. It may sound silly but Edric, Ellie, and Cassie sort of became real to me throughout this process of writing the book. It’s fun. Writing is a reward in and of itself.

 

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

 Make writing fun for you. If it becomes a chore, then you’re not going to want to write and your book either (a) won’t get finished, or (b) the book will reflect that you don’t enjoy making it. If you love your book, it’ll almost write itself. Sure, there are some times when it does feel like a chore (like editing can be tedious), but overall it should be fun for you to create your own story and get to know your characters.

I have a little routine when I write. It sounds odd but I like to write while I watch television with my husband. It’s become a nightly ritual so I look at writing as my way of unwinding through the day. I look forward to writing every night. Granted, multitasking isn’t for everyone but the main point is to make writing fun for you.

What are you working on at the moment?

Right now I’m working on another romance novel. I’m thinking that it’s going to be called “Mel and the Mob” but that title is subject to change. I wrote it before under a pseudonym a while ago but I’m re-writing it now because I want to totally change the plot and change some things about the characters. The protagonist, Mel, is a lawyer, actually. (Not the type of law I’m going into.) It’s going to involve lawyers, the mob, a pharmaceutical company, and a handsome chemist/CEO. It’s going to be a fun book; I love the characters. (In case you can’t tell from the umpteen million times I’ve mentioned characters, I have a thing about characters, haha!)

What do you like to read?

 Right now I spend most of my time reading court cases because of that whole law school thing I have going on. When I’m not reading legal stuff, I like to read contemporary romance novels (surprise, surprise). My favourite novel is A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford.

Where can readers find you?

 I actually made a website! It’s mollyvlovell.com (easy to remember because my name is Molly V. Lovell). I’m also on Facebook, @MollyVictoriaLovell, Twitter, @MollyVLovell, and Instagram @Mollsie18.

My book will be available on Amazon come August 25.

Here’s my Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0746PHKR1/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500933827&sr=8-1&keywords=a+sibling%27s+dilemma

Here’s my Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35714147-a-sibling-s-dilemma?from_search=true

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Meet Author Leigh Podgorski

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In my latest ‘meet the author’ interview Leigh Podgorski describes the many things, beyond just writing, that the modern author has to learn to be adept at. And all of that, for a lot of us, is on top of a hectic family and work life. It takes a special kind of dedication …

Leigh’s latest book was published in June by Solstice Publishing.

What is the title of your latest book?

WESTERN SONG. Western Song is a timeless love story filled with rich unique charactersLeigh 2 played out beneath the wide Wyoming sky about a bull riding rancher and his recently deceased best buddy’s Thai mail order bride As she learns the true power of freedom, he discovers he’s lost his heart.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

Unfortunately today the most challenging aspect is promoting and marketing. Things that once upon a time had nothing to do with “being a writer,” but today are the difference between whether a writer and more importantly a writer’s work will be read or left to wither and die away. The marketplace now is so vast—5.2 million books on Kindle, and counting to the tune of 1 million added per year. That’s a lot of noise to cut through. I always say the writing is the easy part.

Which brings me to the second part of your question: What is the most rewarding part of writing. To this I have often answered: Writing is the best high I have ever had. No substance exists that can fly you as high as writing can. You can create whole new worlds, universes and the creatures who dwell within; you can create love and sorrow—and you can grow the love and heal the sorrow. You can bring back characters from the dead, and kill off the bad guys. You are the creator of your world.

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

Write. Write every day. Write even when you don’t feel like it. Write.

 What are you working on at the moment?

Promoting Western Song. I’m also looking at several new projects and deciding which one to tackle first, one is a Mystery/Romance set in a Broadway Theatre in 1949; the other could become a Mystery/Series that begins in the Philippines; and the third book would be the continuation of my STONE QUEST series about a psychic tracker and his nemesis a black magician.

 What do you like to read?

I love a good mystery with well-written complex characters like Elizabeth George writes; literary fiction such as Barbara Kingsolver and Ann Patchett; great horror—Steven King, Anne Rice; family sagas: Susan Howatch; historical fiction. I’ve always devoured anything that Joyce Carole Oates has written. Basically, I like depth, complexity, rich characters—make me weep, make me laugh, carry me off to another time, place, another world.

Leigh 1 Where can readers find you ?

www.facebook.com/leighpodgorskiwriter

https://www.facebook.com/WStheNovel/

http://www.VioletHillsProductions.com

http://amzn.to/2sTk6CM

http://amzn.to/2u4dVsi

 

 

Meet author Cyn Ley

The latest author to appear on my blog is Cyn Ley. I first came into contact with Cyn when she edited one of my short stories for a Solstice Anthology. As you can see below, she is the published author of several short stories herself.

What is the title of your latest book? THE OSSUARY PLAYGROUND AND OTHERCyn 1 UNEXPECTED TALES. It consists of four eerie and touching stories of our world and the ones beyond–whether they are real, or matters of the imagination. One of my readers called it “stunning!” I leave the rest to you.

 My other book is ENCOUNTERS: TALES RECOUNTED AND REBORN. These are the best of my previously published stories from 2014-2016, some expanded and re-imagined. From the blurb: “Ranging from social satire to the paranormal, from fight to flight to friendship, these stories touch base on the encounters of the human experience.” Reviewers have called it “original,” “captivating,” “magical,” “thought-provoking,” and “a satisfying and interesting reading experience.”

Cyn 2 What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

Taking your time writing the tale. I think we all get hit periodically with the impetus to hurry through our work—we want that stuff out NOW! The problem is, we tend to leave a lot of the story in our heads and not on paper when we do that.

The most rewarding aspect? There are two. The first is when I can read one of my stories over and say, “Wow. That’s really good.” The second comes when a reader comes up to me and says the same.

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

Cat toys. Seriously. Write and rewrite as many times as you need to in order to get your wording absolutely right. Wad up the drafts for your cat to play with. No one’s first drafts are that good. Sure, there may be perfect bits. Your goal is to make the rest of the story as perfect.

What are you working on at the moment?

A collection of short stories based around a central concept, entitled Neighborhood Tales. It’s pretty much what it sounds like—tales of the microcosm right outside our front doors. There will be a lot of humor in this one.

I don’t write in a specific genre. It’s more like my Muse smacks me upside the head and orders, “Write this down!”

 Note to aspiring writers: Always obey your Muse. She hits hard.

 What do you like to read?

Everything. I’m a professional fiction editor by day for Solstice Publishing, which means my work runs the gamut when it comes to genres. (I was voted #6 Top Editor in the 2016 Predators & Editors poll.) Any well written story is worth the time it takes to read it. Beyond that, I love history and folklore and things that are generally rather strange. Finding where stories and facts intersect is a constant source of fascination.

Where can readers find you?

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A cracking time in Dublin

I’ve just been away for a few days – a quick trip to Ireland involving two nights in a hotelP1010404 in Dublin and three beautiful sunny days in which to enjoy lots of sightseeing and plenty of ‘craic.’ Almost everybody knows what ‘craic’ means without needing a translation, but in case you are one of the few that don’t, it can be roughly translated as ‘a fun time with friends’. The word seems quintessentially Irish, but in fact it started out in Middle English as ‘crack’ (meaning a loud conversation), and was borrowed by the Irish in the mid twentieth century. Then, with the change to the more Gaelic spelling, it took on a joyous life of its own over there. It has however subsequently been borrowed back – as in informal  conversations: ‘What’s the crack?’ (What’s the news? How are you?). ‘We’ve had a cracking day out.’

 

P1010435Dublin is a beautiful, cosmopolitan city. It was founded by Vikings who sailed from Iceland across the North Sea, down the Irish Sea, and up the large estuary to a spot where the river Poddle (which is now underground) flowed into the river Liffey. Where the two rivers met, they formed a dark pool, surrounded by fertile soil. The Vikings decided it would be a good idea to settle around this black pool – better known now as Dublin. (Classical Irish / Gaelic for black was ‘dubh,’ and the word for pool was ‘linn’).

The city has a literary feel, with plenty of bookshops, museums connected with writing or specific writers and, if our hotel was typical, shelves of books in all the lounges, and earnest looking young men scribbling away in odd corners. A great environment in which to think about my current writing projects, and catch up on some reading.

 

Postscript: When I was in Dublin, I did no tweeting, blogging, or posting on Facebook. So I was pleased to note when I got home that my new collection of short stories – Cast OffCast Offhad been selling steadily on Amazon, especially as an e-book, whilst I was away. Cast Off includes thirteen short stories based around female characters in plays by Shakespeare. Only one review so far, but it was very positive about the stories. I could do with more reviews and if anyone is looking for something to read on their holidays and is willing to review my collection (and post the review on Amazon, Goodreads etc.) I would love to send you a copy. Just email me with ‘Cast Off review’ in the subject line and I’ll email you back a copy: margaret.egrot@gmail.com

Cast Off, and other stories are always available from Amazon books. And there is always at least one free offer if you want to ‘try before you buy.’

Meet Author W. H. Matlack

W. H. Matlack, who has had several novels and short stories published, is the latest author to appear on my blog this summer. He writes in a variety of genres, including a recent venture into writing a series for  young children (see the end of this post for more information). He has another book released at the beginning of this month.

 What is the title of your latest book?

Latest book title: Grin of the Krocodil.  A new synthetic opiate has been discovered that offers a high that is hundreds of times more intense than Heroin. It’s also many times more dangerous than any other drug as it eats away flesh right to the bone.

Now a chemistry PhD candidate has worked out a formula that makes the drug safe and just as effective. As the word of this modification gets out both the US government and a powerful drug cartel become highly interested in obtaining the formula beginning a deadly tug of war.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

 Most challenging is plot-line development. Character development is the most rewarding. I can spend all day happily developing characters. It clearly releases endorphins when I’m working on characters. Then turning to what these characters should do, or what should befall them, the endorphins evaporate and the grind of plot development kicks in.

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

My top tip for all writers is to read like a writer. Go ahead and enjoy reading your favourite author, but the whole time be aware of how he or she phrases things, handles action sequences, builds characters and manages grammar.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m a third of the way into my sixth novel. It’s a bit too early to tell what it’s about, but it involves a pawn shop and a mystery gun.

 What do you like to read?

Raymond Chandler, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Carl Barks, Dashiell Hammett

Where can readers find you?

 On Facebook at: W.H. Matlack – Author

Amazon: http://goo.gl/jloZ8w

Barnes & Noble: http://goo.gl/ufLCJe

Email: matlackpr@att.net

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Are all book reviews equal?

I’ve been reading quite a lot about book reviews in various Facebook groups recently. One theme has been that even bad reviews can help sell your book. (I believe that JK Rowling has more one star reviews than any other writer, and they certainly don’t seem to have held her sales back).

To date I’ve only had a single one star review – for an anthology in which I had a short story (Mary’s Christmas in Festive Treats): festive-treats

Mary’s Christmas by Margaret Egrot relates the highly boring Christmas of an OAP in a nameless British town. Nothing of note happens. It is related in excruciating detail.

This review came straight after a much more upbeat one for the whole anthology, in which my story was again singled out:

Some of the stories are moving and heart-warming. The story of Mary’s lone Christmas, standing above the rest in the bunch, I feared another outcome, which is testament to the cleverness of how the author made the story unfurl, the resolution made me joyously happy! Margaret Egrot has written a truly beautiful story.

Just goes to show you can’t please everybody.

Despite (because?) attracting the full range of star ratings, Festive Treats has almost never been out of the Amazon best seller list – though the fact that it is free as an e-book might help!

One of my favourite ‘critical’ reviews was for my first YA novel, And Alex Still Has And Alex -coverAcne. The young reviewer hadn’t much liked the book, because she didn’t like books about topics covered by the celebrated author, Jacqueline Wilson. As many readers do though (including me) I was quite chuffed:

The book certainly shows the author’s understanding of the idiosyncratic problems which certain young people today (often described in the novels of Jacqueline Wilson) have to deal with.

Whether one star reviews boost sales or not, it is still re-assuring for an author to get a good first review after a book is published. So you can imagine I was delighted to get the following five star review last week for Cast Off, my recently released collection of short stories based on female characters in Shakespeare’s plays:

One word for this short story anthology? Original. Certainly an odd descriptor for a Cast Offcollection of tales based on the characters in another’s works, but Mrs. Egrot weaves intriguing story lines utilizing some of Shakespeare lesser known supporting characters, and spin-offs from his heroines. My favorite two? “Time Out of Mind” affected me on an emotional level, and “Ban! Ban! Cacaliban” left me wanting more. Each story stands alone on its own merit. If you’ve never even heard of the bard, and you were born in a cave and raised by wolves, you will find a tale here to fall in love with. Thoroughly enjoyed.

On balance, whatever they say about the merits of one star reviews, vis-a-vis five star ones, I know which I prefer for a first review!

All the stories mentioned are available from my Amazon author pages:

All but Festive Treats are also available from Solstice Publishing.

http://www.solsticepublishing.com

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