Introducing fellow author Erik Meyers who reviews Fee Simple Conditional by H.C. Helfand
I don’t remember exactly how I found how about “Fee Simple Conditional”. While that’s not really important, I loved the book so much, I wish I knew where I had discovered it.
At first you think ‘what a funny little phrase’. Then you begin reading and are pulled into a glorious story that grows and grows and grows on you.
Besides learning a lot about deeds, property and the history of such, you follow the ups and downs of Abigail Fischer.
A chance side-job takes her to places and people she never thought she would connect with.
I loved the twists and turns and surprises on every page.
What really stuck out though are the quirky characters. None of them are what you would expect. And that’s what makes the book so sensational.
They aren’t perfect. They have their good times and their bad times, like real life.
I read the book in an afternoon turning page after page faster and faster to find out what happened and the whole time wishing Abigail gets the life she deserves. She sounds like a wonderful person I would actually want to meet.
The ending is a beautiful cherry topping on the cake that will blow you away.
No spoilers here. You will just have to devour this book like I did to find out what happened.
Planned as a series, I can’t wait to read book 2!
I haven’t had a book touch me like this is a long time.
Emma Jordan is back to talk about Romance Indie Author Monty Jay.
I first discovered romance author, Monty Jay, earlier in 2021, when I bumped into the release of her latest novel, Courage for Fools, a rock star and US road trip romance that tugged, but didn’t sever, the heartstrings: who doesn’t need a happy-ever-after in their fiction?
From the first couple of pages I was hooked on Courage for Fools. Rhett and Quinn leapt off the page, and their road trip and romance are just gorgeous. He’s the reckless rock star on his way from the east to the west coast; she’s on a road-trip with a purpose. Emotion + banter = happy reader.
As I confessed to Lee’s readers recently, I’m a little bit of a music fan – I loved the book so much I had to see what else Monty had written.
That’s when I discovered her 4-book hockey romance series and promptly lost a weekend underneath my Kindle. I was immersed in the fictional world of the Chicago Fury hockey players, starting with the two main characters from book one, Love and Romance. Valour Sullivan (Vallie Girl) and Bishop Maverick (B) have known each other since childhood. Both characters live for hockey and are destined to follow in her father’s footsteps, becoming the best hockey players in the NHL. It was great seeing the perspective of both Men and Women’s hockey, and following other Fury players in books two, three and four.
THEN Monty announced that author merch is available from her online shop.
Now, as a fellow indie romance author, I always have an eye on unique marketing opportunities. (I recently encouraged readers to download one of my free books so that I could treat myself to a new coffee machine). What better way than for a writer who has created a fictional rock star and a fictional hockey team to enhance the reader experience than by offering hoodies and shirts in a shop that ships worldwide? I was more than happy to help out and treated myself to a Vallie Girl sweatshirt which is so comfortable, whether I’m writing (or editing) at my PC or on the school run! Supportive AND practical.
As Monty told me, ‘I love being an indie author because I have the freedom and control over my own work. It’s hard to build readership, but when you do you know it’s because you did it your way. I can write the stories that inspire me, and brand and market myself the way I want others to view me!’
Why shouldn’t authors who have created worlds for their readers be a bit rock star and offer readers clothing, bags, stationery, home items, to celebrate their characters? I’ve started to notice other authors offer swag bags or reader-themed goodies, or authors who have an Etsy presence. The marketing opportunities for independent authors are phenomenal.
What will you come up with to share your character’s stories with readers?
Monty Jayhas a new, supernatural, series on the way, out in September 2021.
Author J.D. Sanderson shares an excerpt of his short story collection ‘Around the Dark Dial’.
Shooting Taye a look of intrigue, Terrance asked, “Crying? As in whimpering?” “Yeah,” Stacey said. “I’m crate training him at night. He started whimpering from across the room in his crate.” “Incredibly common,” Terrance mused. “Dogs have often shown the ability to sense a wide range of paranormal occurrences.” “He’s a rescue, so at first, like, I just thought he was being a scared puppy. Then when I opened my eyes, I realized I couldn’t get out of my bed.” Terrance could hear the woman’s voice shaking. It was hard to tell how old she was over-the-air, but the fear coming out of her would have made some of the toughest people he knew sound like children. “Go on…” Terrance prompted. “Something was holding me down. It wasn’t a hand or device or anything, it was just pressure,” she continued. “This is awesome,” he heard Taye’s voice whisper in his headphones. While his sidekick’s mic was not live, it was often kept on so he could give feedback on the fly. Terrance motioned for him to be quiet as he turned back to his microphone. He could see Taye’s dreadlocks bouncing with excitement as he continued to listen. “Did you see anything? Feel anything at all?” “No. It was hard just to keep my eyes open,” she whimpered. “I don’t know what they wanted from me.” “They?” Terrance asked, sitting up straight. “So, you did eventually see something? “I did,” Stacey cried. “I saw two shapes. One was short, one was tall.” “Humanoid?” Terrance asked as he reached over to grab his notepad. He often jotted down details from the more exciting phone calls in case another caller had a similar story down the road. “What?” Stacey asked. “Were they humanoid? Did they look like people? Two arms, two legs, a head — that sort of thing?” “One did,” Stacey answered. It was tall, taller than me. I think it was wearing a suit maybe. The other was short. Like a little kid.” “Did you get a good look?” “I don’t know,” Stacey said. Her voice was now filled with a soft, trickling terror. Terrance genuinely felt bad for her. He may have been a true believer in the paranormal, but he was self-aware enough to know that at least half of his callers just wanted attention. This did not sound like one of those calls. “Take your time, Stacey,” Terrance said. “Do you need a minute?” “No, I’m… I’m okay. I’m sorry,” she replied. “It’s just, this happened a few days ago. I haven’t gone to work or told anyone. But then I remembered a friend telling me he listened to your show.” “It’s alright,” Terrance soothed. “What happened next? Do you remember?” “I was lifted off the bed. Moved. I don’t know where. They were talking to each other, but I don’t know how. I didn’t see the tall one’s mouth move. The short one was too low for me to see, really.” “Hang up.” Terrance’s train of thought derailed immediately. He turned around to look over at Taye, who had pushed his mic over to the side. Terrance waved his hands to get his friends attention. Taye looked up, motioning his hands in question. The host mouthed the words ‘Did you say something’ to his friend as caller four droned on in his ear. Taye shook his head. “Are you there?” Stacey asked. “Yes. Yes, we’re here. Continue,” Terrance said, shaking his head. “What else can you tell us?” “The only other thing I remember was a really, really bright light. It was painful. My eyes hurt the next day.” “You need to stop.” Terrance’s head jerked around as the voice popped in his ears a second time. “What?” he said aloud. “Huh?” Stacey said. “I was trying to say that they put something on my forehead…” “What are you doing?” Taye asked through the secure line. Terrance switched off his microphone for a second while Stacey continued to talk about her horrific encounter. He looked over at Taye through the glass. “I heard something in my ear. My headphones!” Terrance exclaimed. “I didn’t hear anything,” Taye replied. “Dude, you’re missing the best part! C’mon, this is the best caller we’ve had in three weeks.” Terrance reached over to flip his microphone on when the deep voice echoed in his ear a third time. “Hang up, Mr. Storey. Please.” The voice was deep. It sounded like there might have been going through a processor. Something about it sounded off, as if it was made to sound like a machine. Or human. Terrance froze in his seat as Stacey continued to recount a procedure done to her eyes, ears, and nose on a cold, dark table. He was only half-listening as the voice told him two more times to disconnect the call. “Stacy,” Terrance interjected, “I’m afraid we are coming up on a break. Thank you so much for the call. Very riveting stuff. Call again if you remember something else.” “But this isn’t even half of what happened to me,” Stacey pleaded. Taye tapped his wrist and pointed up to the clock, signaling that they had another five or six minutes until a commercial break was needed. Terrance ignored him. “This is Late Night Storey, we’ll be back in a minute.” Terrance reached over and switched off the mic before hanging up on the caller. “Dude! What the fuck was that?” Taye asked. “Sorry,” Terrance mumbled. “Something came up.” “Jesus Christ, Terrance. Did you get spooked or something?” “I thought I… I don’t know.”
Introducing author Alan Scott who shares the story behind his book.
Hello, my name is Alan Scott, I am 52 years old, and I am Dyslexic.
I read a book called the Dyslexic advantage by Dr Brock L. Eide & Dr Fernette F.Eide, and for the first time ever I read something about Dyslexia that was not negative.
In its opening pages it quotes a press release (2004) from a top business School in England whose headline was “Entrepreneurs five times more likely to suffer from Dyslexia.” The subheading went on to ask “What makes Sir Richard Branson, Sir Alan Sugar and Sir Norman Foster special?”
The book goes on to say – in light of the tremendous success enjoyed by these entrepreneurs it seems rather odd to describe them as ‘Suffering from Dyslexia’.
After finishing the book, I started to think back over my own life and how being dyslexic had impacted on it. Then during Lockdown, as I stared out the window, I finally found decided to write about experiences.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to write but I did know I wanted to challenge people’s thoughts on dyslexia, the world around them and what society expects of them.
Now, as an author I can go on for hours about how wonderful my latest book is. However, sometimes it’s the reader who can summarise the best. Below is a review on Amazon which I think sums up ‘The Rain Dancer’ perfectly.
“This is not your usual novel with twists and turns, and a plethora of characters finding their way to entertain your bored mind. This is a trip into the author’s mind and a chance to see the world through his eyes, the view, that is quite unique because the author is dyslexic. Alan is a sharp observer of life. I think you’ll appreciate his perspective.
I read or listen to lots of books that I really enjoy at the moment and then I completely forget about them the next day. This one was a little bitter and sour to read but it made a mark. I keep on thinking about it. Isn’t this an attribute of a book worth reading?”
If you do decide to read it, I would be very interested in reading your honest thoughts and if it did make you think about life slightly differently.
Introducing author Dan McKeon who shares the story behind his writing journey and book ‘Wonder Rush’
“I think we figure out who we are based on our life experiences and the different people that impact us. People who come in and out of our lives shape who we are, even if we don’t realize it.”
This quote from my debut novel, Wonder Rush, sums up Wendy Lockheart’s struggle. She is a seventeen-year-old girl fighting to discover who she truly is and the adult she desires to become. Wonder Rush is a coming-of-age tale under the most extreme circumstances. A story about a girl with no identity of her own. A girl fighting for not only a stable home, but for survival.
Abducted at birth, Wendy was raised by an agency of assassins. She was never given a name of her own, but was bounced around from one foster family to the next, assuming a new identity each time. She was brainwashed, tortured, psychologically manipulated, all to carry out the will of “the agency”—a group of assassins that communicates with its teen operatives using randomly flavored, encoded sticks of Wonder Rush Happy Funtime Bubblegum. After carrying out a hit on an alleged drunk driver, Wendy suspects corruption within the agency. Her ultimate betrayal makes her the agency’s next mark. As Wendy uncovers the agency’s twisted intentions, she realizes she must destroy the organization that shaped her in order to discover the person she truly wants to be—that is, if they don’t kill her first. I began writing Wonder Rush with a seed of an idea—what if the unassuming new girl in school was secretly an assassin? What a perfect cover. Who would ever suspect a sweet, innocent girl? As the concept took shape, I was inspired by my own teenage sons and their individual journeys into adulthood. I recalled the struggle of personal growth I experienced at that age, and I wondered how much different that road to self-discovery would look if a person never had an identity of her own to begin with. It was that underlying universal theme of identity that got me excited about this story. It is what elevates it from a high-octane thriller to something deeper and more meaningful. I did not write Wonder Rush with a target age group in mind, and I think some of the best stories transcend age. Upon completion of the novel, I understood it fit best under the young adult category, given the age of my main character and the coming-of-age theme. However, what has made me happiest about the release of this book is the overwhelming connection it has made with teenagers, young adults, and mature adults alike. I think we all remember that internal conflict we felt when we balanced the thin line between childhood and adulthood. We may not relate to a teenage girl killing people in various and sometimes gruesome ways, but we can all relate to that child fighting to do better, to be better, and to grow into an adult that she can take pride in. My initial spark of interest in creative writing came during a film analysis class I took while I was an undergraduate at Villanova University. It was the first time I realized that film was more than just entertainment. It was a literary and visual art. I learned all I could about screenwriting. I read books, attended seminars and workshops. I ultimately enrolled in a Professional Screenwriting course at UCLA. I complete four screenplays over the years, but I always wanted to write a novel. I found the rigid structure of screenwriting to be beneficial in novel writing. Additionally, the visual storytelling nature of writing for the screen was beneficial when painting mental images and developing characters in Wonder Rush. I enjoy the more flexible nature of novel writing, but I will always appreciate my screenwriting roots. Through my journey to publish Wonder Rush, I discovered the great difficulty in getting books into the hands of readers. There are literally millions of books published each year worldwide. Even though the reaction to Wonder Rush has been overwhelmingly positive, it is still a herculean task to deliver it to a wide audience. I am so grateful for bloggers and indie author advocates like Lee Hall for giving new writers an avenue to reach the readers these books deserve. There are some amazing stories out there, we just need to find them. I hope you all find Wonder Rush, and I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it.
You can read more about ‘Wonder Rush’ here and Dan McKeon can be found over on Twitter
Sabi followed Vane through the front door of the house, out to the porch. She placed herself in the rocker then watched him. Vane cradled the gun in her lap then crossed her hands over it as though she was trying to hide it. Sabi leaned against the post next to the steps facing her.
“Go ahead. Who is Sabi and why does he need to hide at my house?” She asked while lazily rocking in the chair.
“Okay. I’m not sure where to start.”
“Why don’t you start by telling me why a guy that drifts in and out of British accent. Sometimes sounding European and sometimes sounding American is in Guatemala? And why that guy is lugging around all this computer equipment?”
“If I answer questions for you will you answer questions for me too?”
“We’ll see. Get started,” she said as a light breeze blew her hair moving it gently.
“Okay. I was staying at a resort on the coast.”
“I knew that.”
Sabi shot her a look, telling her not to interrupt him with his eyes before he continued. “I’d only been there a few days. Before that, I was in Bolivia, before that, Sierra Leone and before that, Togo.”
“Togo? You’re making that up.”
“No, it’s a real country. Look it up. It’s in Africa on the west coast, very small. Nice on the coast, but when you get inland a little, there’s not much and it’s a lot warmer. Anyway, you are starting to get the picture. I’m always moving. I’ve been home three times in the last two years. I go from one hotel to the next.”
“Why?” She asked. She had stopped rocking and scooted forward in the rocker.
He held up a finger, “I’m trying to explain. I’ve never told anyone this story. I have one friend that knows parts of what I do and other than that, it’s my boss and Momma.” Sabi stopped talking, moving from the post he was leaning against to the opposite side of the steps. He sat down leaning back against the other post. “I was educated in England then went to university in America. America is where I received my degree in international finance. My dad was a big wig in the Ministry of Finance at home.”
“Oh. Turkmenistan. So I get home, dad gets me a good job at the biggest bank in our country. In less than two years, dad is convicted by the government for a bunch of crap. Basically dad was on the take. The trial is like the first one ever in our country to be televised. Within a week of his conviction, I’m fired.”
“I guess I can understand that, but it doesn’t seem right.”
“I knew it was coming. There was a lot of talk at work during the televised trial. Not much I could do about it. So I’m out of work. The government took everything from my Momma and dad. Momma moves in with me and I’m now the man of the house with no way to support her. Two weeks later, I’m down to next to nothing in money. A guy shows up in front of me on the street, asking if I want a job in international banking. “Sure,” I say. He tells me to be in front of my building the next morning at nine and someone will pick me up. I’m out there a little early, waiting and right on time, this limo pulls up in front of me and this man tells me to get in. I get in, there’s another guy in there. I’m thinking he’s interviewing too when the first guy hands me a hood and tells me to put it over my head.”
“You get into a limo and they want you to put a hood over your head?” She says not really asking a question.
Sabi nodded his head. “Yeah. So, I have to wear this hood the whole time. And it wasn’t really an interview. Basically, the guy tells me that he was friends,” Sabi used his hands to make air quotes as he says friends, “With my dad. He says he will give me a job and he’ll make things easier on my dad. He says Momma will be taken care of. And he will even make sure my two brothers are able to stay in school, one in England, one in America. I have to do what he says.”
“Shit. I thought I got dealt a bad hand. Go ahead.”
“So it turns out, this guy is a big-time opium smuggler. He needs to be able to launder his money now that the government threw all his contacts in jail. I spent about three months, traveling all over the world to conferences. I learned how to catch money launderers. Then I came up with a system to use, to beat their system of catching people like me. One of the things involves me moving all the time. Hence, I’m in your country.”
“Okay, that explains why you’re in Guatemala, but not why you’re at my house.”
“You don’t think I’m a bad person after hearing that, do you? I did what I could to help my mom, dad and brothers. I never planned to be involved in something like this.”
“No, I don’t think you’re bad. You’re not doing good things, but…” Vane shrugged her shoulders.
“I know. Sometimes I’m not happy with myself. I don’t like what I’m doing now, but I don’t know another way out. Momma. My brothers and dad. I didn’t want to steal the money, but I don’t know any other way to get out and save my family.” Sabi hung his head down between his knees.
He started sobbing quietly and turned away from her. Vane moved from the chair and knelt behind, him placing her hand on his back. She rubbed his back in a circular motion, “Sabi, you’re not a bad person.”
“You don’t understand.” He said between sobs, his shoulders heaving up and down. “I haven’t had anyone to talk to in so long. Always being careful what I say. Looking over my shoulder. This is the first time I’ve been able to let my guard down with anyone in-” He trailed off, trying to remember the last time he openly talked to someone.
“You want to take a break for a little bit? I could tell you my hard luck story if you’re interested…
This is an excerpt of ‘Killer Coffee Beans’ by Shaun Young which will be released on August 1st. You can find more information via Shaun’s Twitter.
Author Micah Kolding shares his story which led to his first published children’s book.
It starts with my community theater work. My voice qualifies as “true bass”, which is rare enough to be in high demand among local musical productions. I therefore find something of a niche as “the guy with the deep voice”.
Something I realized over the course of my theater experience is that the kids tend to find it fascinating that I’m part of the cast by choice. There are occasions when I’m the only straight guy who isn’t one of their dads, and they gravitate to me to talk about things they probably don’t feel like they can talk about with the rest of the cast. They ask if I like geckos, they want to discuss Star Wars, they need to recount how they got in trouble at school… a lot of topics that are, on some level, too “boyish” for much of the musical theater environment. And it’s very often the girls who most need to talk about this.
I’ll always remember one girl in particular; a true tomboy, she once showed up before a show in a pink dress and revealed that she was only wearing it because she lost a bet. When much of the cast reassured her of how pretty she looked, she shouted, “I’m going to sit with Micah, because he won’t judge me!” She did, and I told her she looked like “a pink nightmare”. She said “Thank you!”, and we fist-bumped.
My takeaway from this experience is just how little people understand tomboys. More girls than we realize are not buying into the culture of constant sensitivity and validation; they want to be challenged, they want to compete, and they want to be “one of the guys” without having adults ask if they’re pre-op. You look at how tomboys are depicted in most stories, you see hostile weirdos who are content to be the one sporty friend in a cast of near-identical bratz-dolls, and I wanted to write something that rang truer.
The plot of “The Fellas, the Mermaid, and Me!” came to me while I was serving as Lurch in the Addams Family musical. It’s a story about a mermaid named Kris who hangs out with five human friends, all of which are boys. I remember realizing how perfect it was to depict a composite of every tomboy I knew as a gritty, gap-toothed mermaid; people expect mermaids to be quintessentially girly, but they’re ultimately an apex-predator sea creature, making them necessarily a sporty, adventurous, competitive friend.
Indeed, when I first sent out the story to beta-readers, I got a few comments opining that Kris shouldn’t be the only girl in the group. It was enough that I actually ran the idea past my wife; “Should I change one of the boys to be a girl?” Speaking from quite a bit of experience herself, her reaction was an insistent “NO! She’s a TOMBOY! She doesn’t hang out with GIRLS!” So “The Fellas, the Mermaid, and Me!” went to self-publication as-is.
You know when people say they’ll listen to anything?
I really do, I’ve seen New Kids on the Block and Andrea Bocelli live shows – not together, although that could inspire an intriguing book one day. I’ve spent five days at a country festival that I had to be dragged away from, I RockFit to Rammstein and I’ve seen Muse perform 12 times in six countries (don’t even get me started on combining travel and music).
I even volunteer to write music reviews and interview musicians forLyric Magazine, because I love sharing my love of songwriting and storytelling.
I’ve always loved music. I grew up in a music-loving household. We didn’t have much, but we had cassettes. I remember 13th July 1985 as a 7 year old, standing in the lounge in front of BBC One and yelling to my Mum, ‘It’s On!’ just as Live Aid, the first charity concert, was about to kick off 12 hours of live music (including Paul Young. Swoon).
As a teen, I took babysitting jobs based on the person’s cassette collection, and if there was a twin deck I could record from. As an adult, and parent, I need live shows as much as my daughter needs to read (proud mama moment; she’s book-obsessed). Perhaps my gig obsession is not for the reason you think. I’m deaf in my right ear, which probably explains my addiction to live shows (front and centre if possible) I need to feel the music. It also makes for great writing inspiration when I hear something completely different to what’s actually being said. Talk about Four Candles.
I absolutely can’t wait for live shows to resume again, so that I can convince myself, ‘I’ll write on the train’ when I actually mean I’ll listen to artist’s music all the way back home, reliving the show, drifting to sleep with a huge grin across my face.
What do you listen to when you’re supposed to be working?
Romance writer Emma Jordan hangs out on Twitter and Instagram (as well as Spotifyand Amazon’s KDP reports) and loves to connect with readers and potential-readers.
To celebrate the 1st book birthday of my second romance novel, Everything and Nothing, all readers can add this to their #TBRPile FOR FREE before the end of Friday 16th July 2021.
We’re all excited and waiting for something eagerly to happen. Some of us, especially artists, writers, and avid dreamers can even see our expectations fully realized within our heart imagination. We can taste it, smell it, maybe even feel it like a new set of clothes against our skin. We even dance in celebration! There’s real joy in knowing we already have what we’ve sought out for despite not having it in our hand.
However, on who or what do we rest our expectations on? A person? A place? A government? A time in the future? (Personally I wouldn’t choose any of these). Be mindful on whom or where you set your expectations on. It’s important to dream and to plan for the future, regardless of how far or near it may seem, but be careful with the choice of your foundation, the thing that you rest your expectations on. If you want your hopes and dreams to be fully realized beyond your wildest imagination then rest them on something sure and solid (such things do exist), something that won’t change like the weather or your mood. Your dreams, your life are very real and very important. Shouldn’t they be rooted and planted in and on something that will always be there for you? The future is unclear, in fact it doesn’t even exist. There’s only the present. Be wise and check your foundation. Choose a foundation you trust to rest your life on and expect the best while in a state of rest because the fruit of your labours is coming. Like someone who sows seed in good soil, the crop has no choice but to come and it will come quickly.
Introducing author Stephen Pennell who shares a review of his novel ‘Gangsters, Geezers and Mods’.
Book review by Richard Whitehead, formerly of The Times.
I first came across Stephen Pennell’s writing years ago in the Aston Villa fanzine Heroes and Villains and admired his work then – now he has truly delivered on that potential. Gangsters, Geezers and Mods is a slice of tough working-class Brummie life rooted in a love of the Villa, but also with a devotion to Mod culture and a great deal of crime – some shockingly violent and murderous, some reminiscent of Dickens’ Artful Dodger. It is a gritty account of friendship, love, betrayal and revenge, but among those sweeping themes there is an attention to minute detail that engages and absorbs the reader. Starting with a touching tribute to his parents, the protagonist tells the story of his life and loves with wit and honesty, dwelling on his various obsessions with a tinge of nostalgia that will resonate with many. As the narrative evolves into a pacy and suspenseful crime thriller, relationships between the characters are explained in such a way that the consequences seem perfectly natural – inevitable even – and unlikely alliances make just as much sense. In a moral vacuum of inner-city depravity, one fable battles against the odds to triumph – true friendship will overcome football rivalry and racial differences and transcend them all. This book is a remarkable alliance of fiction and memoir, done so skillfully that you are left wondering exactly what is true and what isn’t. Having checked with Steve, I have discovered that much of it is true – he’s certainly had a livelier life than me!
Gangsters, Geezers and Mods is highly recommended for lovers of the second city, the Villa, Paul Weller – and anyone who just likes a really well-written book. The best thing to come out of Birmingham since Jack Grealish.