Blog Author Archive: Momentum

Interpol Confidential: What happens when a former Interpol staffer turns to satire

February 15, 2016 by

The he first question people are asking me is why would a thriller writer with three solid successes under his belt and a growing reputation decide to switch to satire? Well, it’s not just any old satire. It’s a satire about Interpol, so it’s still very much in the world of police and crime fighting and deception and double-crosses. So I guess it’s not all that far removed from the sort of world where my Frank Delaney character operates in the thrillers, really. And remember that because this is a satire about Interpol, just the name, the very word Interpol, breathes intrigue and mystery.

In fact I referred a fair bit to Interpol in my last thriller and had a couple of Interpol characters in that one, The Tsunami File, so I could see clearly the potential for stories and characters drawn from Interpol. But because I worked at Interpol myself, and was so immersed in that organisation, I just thought that in a number of ways the best way to tell the Interpol story was through satire. After my experiences there I wanted to give a sense of the craziness of it all, the intensity of the way that place works, and all major police organizations, really, the way they do crucially important work but get caught up too in personalities and politics and ambition and, not to put too fine a point on it, straight-out human craziness.

Interpol Confidential cover

I suppose in a way this could have been a satire about the FBI or the NYPD or Scotland Yard, just as easily. It just happens that I worked at Interpol after I left journalism, that’s what I knew for a while and I wanted to have some fun with it. The thrillers published by Momentum are what I want to do, of course, they’re my main interest as a writer, and there’s a fourth one in the series underway, but as a breather I wanted to explore the absurd side of police work and, really, of any big organisation, police or otherwise.

People ask me how much of this book is based on real events. Well, any writer, whether a satirist or a thriller writer or a writer in any genre, bases his or her stories on experiences and situations and characters they have encountered along the way. But we build on those and mould them and change them to suit the story we want to tell. And if it’s a humorous story, then of course you can go even further and really pump it up.

But it’s stuff that anyone who’s worked in a bureaucracy can tell you about, and maybe more, I’d say, anyone who has worked in a big police bureaucracy. And, yes, some characters display some of the traits of people I’ve met or worked with, and not just at Interpol. In newsrooms when I worked as a journalist. In universities, when I was teaching. There are strange, idiosyncratic, flawed, amusing people, and therefore potential fictional characters, everywhere for the taking.

And the character of the Interpol Secretary General. Who inspired that guy? There are some people saying he very, very like the disgraced former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Really ambitious, flawed, a schemer, a philanderer. And from a French bureaucracy background. Sounds an awful lot like my Didier Herriot-Dupont character, right down to the double-barrelled last name. Right?

Well, here’s what I have to say about that. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Mr Strauss-Kahn. I wouldn’t have the faintest idea what people talking about! “Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental”. That’s what it says at the front of my book. Right?

I want people to remember, though, even though I’ve had a lot of fun with this new book that Interpol a serious organisation, despite the fun I’m poking at it. These days, in an increasingly interconnected world, especially in the world of police and intelligence and security work, you absolutely need an organisation like Interpol. Absolutely. And there are some exceptionally good police officers working at that headquarters building in France, really fine police from all over the world doing important work.

But is everyone like that? Are there no problems and failures and mix-ups and messes? Are there no strange or inept people in there? Of course that’s impossible. Just as it’s impossible in any big organisation, police or not police. It always gets down to people, and people screw up, they get themselves into trouble, they try to hide their mistakes, and all this is a wonderful bed for satire.

I hope people will finish the book feeling they’ve had a peek inside Interpol. But taking a peek inside any police organisation, even any local police station, will have its funny side. So I tell at least a part of the Interpol story, but I do it through humour and a lot of made-up stuff. I had a lot of fun writing it, I really let myself go. I hope people will have fun reading it.

But now it’s back to writing thrillers. My Frank Delaney character is itching to get back in the game.



Bringing Greythorne to life – the anatomy of a gothic-horror novel


On the blog today we’ve got author L.M. Merrington talking about her debut novel Greythorne.

One of the most common question writers get asked is where our ideas come from. Generally, story ideas creep up on me slowly – they might start with the name of a character, who gradually gets a story, or I might get inspired by a place I visit or something that happens. Sometimes I’ll be turning something over for months or even years before it makes it to the page. Someone once described this process as a bit like archaeology – you start by uncovering one small fragment, then another, then another, and eventually you have something with a recognisable shape and form. It can be a slow, laborious and sometimes disheartening process, when you’re not sure if what you’ve got is a never-before-seen fossil whose discovery will change the world, or the leftover bones from someone’s barbeque.

Having been through this process a number of times, I’ve always scoffed a little at the authors who claim their story – or worse, an entire series – just landed on them fully formed (I’m talking about you, J.K. Rowling). Or at least, I did – until it happened to me.

I was home from work sick one day, lying in bed reading Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, when I dozed off. Something must have been going on in my subconscious, because when I woke up I had a fully formed story in my head – including the main characters and a rough plot outline. I scribbled it all down in the notebook I carry around with me and Greythorne was born – or at least had begun its gestation.

Deciding to write Gothic fiction was a real breakout for me. For the better part of the last decade I had concentrated on writing fantasy stories – grand epics with vast settings and huge casts. I had often felt overwhelmed by the scale and had found them difficult to finish, so with Greythorne I chose a very contained story and setting, with only three main characters and a handful of minor ones.

I made a deliberate choice to keep the setting of Greythorne extremely tight – almost claustrophobic. All the action, apart from Nell’s initial journey and the epilogue, takes place in either Greythorne Manor or the nearby village of Grimly. I was inspired in part by memories of a long-ago trip to the north of England, but more by reading nineteenth-century novels (either those written at the time or published later and set there). I have a long-held fascination with the late nineteenth century – the Victorian and Edwardian eras – which was a time of great technological and social change, and I’m particularly interested in the stories of women, who tend to be written out of a lot of the history and fiction of the time. When I first conceived Greythorne I thought of it as a horror story, but it really isn’t – it’s a Gothic suspense in the tradition of Victorian popular fiction, such as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Frankenstein, Jane Eyre and Dracula, and it actually takes much of its inspiration from adventure writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson and Jules Verne. The village of Grimly was inspired by J. Meade Falkner’s 1898 tale of smugglers, Moonfleet, and my character Arthur Greenslade’s observation that “This here were once a favoured spot for smugglers dodging the Revenue men,” is my little tribute to that book.

One of my most memorable moments while writing Greythorne was a collaboration I undertook with an artist friend, Pamela Horsley, after I finished the first draft. I gave her a short description of Professor Greythorne, and in 24 hours she’d produced a portrait of him. There’s nothing quite like seeing your character in the ‘flesh’ to bring a book to life, and he now hangs in my study, casting a stern eye over my writing.

Greythorne portrait

For more info about Greythorne, check out L.M. Merrington’s blog!

And purchase Greythorne now!



#Pitchmentum is here – pitch us your novel over Twitter!


On Friday the 25th of September, we’ll be throwing open our Twitter and taking your 140 character pitches, for a chance to get published with Momentum!

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The contest will happen on Twitter under the hashtag (#pitchmentum). Authors with completed manuscripts who are keen to be published by Momentum can tweet a pitch for their books. Authors can tweet their pitch once per hour over the 24 hours of 25/09/2015.

If Momentum is interested in your manuscript, we will favourite it. If your tweet is favorited, email your submission to info@momentumbooks.com.au, making sure to include your Twitter handle and your manuscript.

For more information about Momentum and what we do, read this: http://momentumbooks.com.au/about/

When to Pitch

Friday 25th September. As we are based in Australia, if you are overseas, we will be asleep for some of that day from your perspective, but then we will look through the feed when we wake up! The simple way of looking at it is by answering the following questions:

1. Is it Friday the 25th of September where you live?

a: Yes (go to 2)

b: No (go to 3)

2. Yes it is Friday the 25th of September where I live: Great! Submit your Twitter pitch

3. No, it is a different day. It is Thursday the 24th or Saturday the 71st of April: No, don’t submit your pitch, please.

Simple!

What to Pitch

This contest is for completed, unpublished novels. Complete means that it’s proofed, polished, and ready for submission. Unpublished means it hasn’t been published by a publishing company. We will consider self published works.

We publish genre fiction, so we are looking for works of: thrillers, romance, erotic romance, SFF, crime and horror and all the sub-genres.

How to Pitch

Your pitch should contain four elements:

  1. Include the hashtag #pitchmentum
  2. Sell your book as quickly as possible, ie ‘Erotic romance about love triangle between 3 angry vampires’
  3. No run-on tweets: this is about being concise and snappy and wowing us with one sentence!

You can tweet multiple times throughout the day. Make sure each tweet is slightly different, as tweeting identical text is a violation of Twitter’s guidelines. Ask any  the questions in the comments, or on Twitter: @momentumbooks

Good luck!

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The Five Stages of Falling in Love with Ebooks


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You never want to give up your beautiful, beautiful books.

Stage One: Curiosity

You get an e-reader and some e-books. Maybe you borrow one from a friend, maybe you already had a tablet, and you don’t want to carry a pile of books on a long trip. Maybe you are just curious, and want to see what all the fuss is about. But, you insist to yourself, your heart still lies with physical book. You’ll never want to give up your beautiful library.

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Pixels can never compare to that smell!

Stage Two: Denial

There’s a small voice in the back of your head saying that this ebook thing isn’t so bad. You ignore it, and you focus on all the things you love so much about physical books. They way the paper feels. The smell. Oh the smell! Nothing compares to the smell of a book, you tell yourself. You think about buying perfume so you too can smell as good as a book.

You enjoy it, but you still don't quite trust it...

You enjoy it, but you still don’t quite trust it…

Stage Three: More Denial

You find yourself reading more and more book on your ereader. You don’t tell people how much you like it, and you still carry around an old paperback “just in case.” You make jokes about how real books don’t need to be recharged, while anxiously hoping your ereader isn’t dead so you can finish the book you started yesterday. You start realizing how much you love adjusting the font size, the page color, and the brightness.

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You could never bring this many books with you before!

Stage Four: Assimilation

You realize resistance is futile. You love your ereader, and you want it to be a part of your life. You take it everywhere with you, and you start telling everyone about how nice it is to carry hundreds of books in your pocket. You think about getting your grandmother one for her birthday.

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They’ll have to bury you with this thing.

Stage Five: Happily Ever After

Your ereader is fully a part of your life. It usually isn’t far from your hand, just in case you have a spare moment to read. Maybe you’ll never give up your bookshelves, and there will always be books you prefer to read in their physical form, but ebooks are taking up more and more of your reading time. You realize that there’s room in your heart for both ebooks and regular books, and that anything that helps you read more is a good thing.

 



Announcing our new Momentum bloggers!


After a truly epic amount of fantastic applications and spirited debate amongst the Momentum staff, I’m super chuffed to announce our three NEW Momentum bloggers!

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Writing for the Momentum blog are:

Sophie Overett

Sophie Overett is a cultural producer and writer from Brisbane. Her short fiction has been published around the world. In 2015 she is a Queensland Literary Fellow and her YA manuscript, Agatha Abel Meets Her Maker was shortlisted for the Text Prize. She is one half of Lady Parts, a monthly podcast exploring women’s roles in genre cinema and she blogs at www.sophieoverett.com.

Follow her on Twitter: @SophieOverett

Emily Stamm

Emily K. Stamm is sometimes a librarian, sometimes a writer. Her hobbies mostly include things that would make her feel at home in a fantasy world, such as sword-fighting, beer-brewing, and hanging out with cats. For more of Emily’s thoughts follow her on Twitter @Stammily or on her blog: http://carnivalofsorts.wordpress.com

And writing for the Moonlight blog is:

Rhyll Biest

Rhyll Biest is part of the army of darkness that services the government but is certain that her forthcoming novel about the virgin yak mistress of a tofu billionaire will catapult her into fame, fortune and reality television. She likes naughty stories, extreme silliness and is a card-carrying Russophile

 Twitter handle @rhyllbiest

Facebook  at: https://www.facebook.com/Beestfiction?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Blog is at: http://www.biestbooks.com/blog

Rhyll will be joining our Moonlight blogger Jodi McAlister, or Doctor Love as she’s better known.

Hooray, we’re so excited to have these talented writers on the team, and looking forward to all the amazing stuff they will write for us!



Come and write about books! Paid bloggers wanted at Momentum!


Momentum is the digital-only imprint of Pan Macmillan Australia. Established in February 2012, we publish high quality ebooks globally. Our website and blog is the hub of our operation, and we’d like to include as many diverse voices as possible. Our blog currently hosts opinions from Momentum employees, authors and other contributors, and now we’d like you to have the chance to have your say about the world of books, writing and reading on the Momentum blog.

We are looking for THREE BLOGGERS who are interested in books, specifically with an interest in genre fiction (predominantly thrillers, romance, science fiction/fantasy, new adult and horror). We are looking for two bloggers for the Momentum blog, and a romance and erotic romance specific blogger for our Moonlight imprint blog. Obsessive readers in these genres are encouraged.

What we want from you:

– 4-8 blog posts a month, with a minimum word count of 300 words each.

– Each week the Momentum marketing team will take pitches from the bloggers about topics of their choice and sometimes ask for specific material for the blog (posts about particular books, movies, TV as well as genre-specific content and trending events).

– Preference will be given to a blogger with a relevant social media presence (Twitter, Facebook, etc).

– Genre bloggers step to the front of the line. If you love romance, science fiction, fantasy and thrillers show us your passion for your genre(s).

What we are offering in return:

– An audience of readers and writers

– $25 per post (minimum of 4 and maximum of 8 posts per month)

– free Momentum ebooks

To apply, send a sample blog post on the topic EBOOKS VS PRINT BOOKS, as well as a covering letter and brief resume to info@momentumbooks.com.au by July 20th 2015 with the subject line ‘Momentum Blogger’. Be sure to include your name, city, country of residence and occupation. We welcome applicants from all over the world, but the posts must be in English.

Your sample blog post should be the type of thing you’d be posting on a regular basis (not a hokey introductory post). And of course, if we select you as our resident blogger then you will be compensated accordingly if you decide to use your sample blog post as your first post.

If you have any questions, feel free to email or ask in the comments below.

Terms & Conditions

  • The winning applicant will be subject to a trial period of one month.
  • Posts will be vetted by staff before going live.
  • Posts will remain the copyright of the author, however, Momentum will retain an exclusive right to first posting for a period of no less than six months.
  • The successful blogger will invoice Momentum monthly for posts within the previous four week period.
  • The successful blogger’s contract can be terminated with two week’s notice.
  • Momentum welcomes international bloggers. However, we do not accept responsibility for additional bank fees or transfer costs for international invoice payments.
  • These conditions are subject to change.


Cover Reveal: Equilibrium Complete Edition


Generations after the Spirits abandoned the world, two mortal empires stand on the brink of a final battle to end a centuries-old conflict. Ayons in the north, Ronnesians in the south.

Washed up on the shore of a foreign land, Angora is thrust into a war not her own. Proclaimed one of twelve legendary mages – representatives of the Spirits – she is charged with protecting the innocent with magic beyond her imagination. However, when her allies mercilessly misuse their own powers, she begins to wonder which side of the conflict is the more righteous.

  After the abduction of their ruler, the Ayons launch an invasion capable of destroying the Ronnesians once and for all. As the war rages on, Angora’s friends fight bravely as strongholds fall before the mighty crimson wave of the Ayon army.

But when all seems lost for the Ronnesians, a spark of hope is found in an infamous assassin and a fragile rebellion rising from the dust.



Cover Reveal: The Wedding by S.A. Gordon


It’s the biggest of days for Britain’s Prince David and his American fiancée, Caitlin Meadows – but twists in their tale will ensure that it’s not a conventional royal wedding by any means …

This free short is fantastic for all fans of The Prince and The Queen and bridges the gap between the two novels.



Cover Reveal: Equilibrium episode 5 and 6


The Ayons lose their king, making way for a deadly new leader.

King Samian is dead. In the aftermath of the fateful battle in the castle, Lord General Archis Varren launches a full-scale invasion of the south, determined to deal the Ronnesians a blow they will never forget.

Stationed at Kilsney, Captain Rasmus Auran is the first to witness the fury of the Ayon attack. Forced to retreat, and hounded by their northern enemy every step of the way, Ronnesian hearts begin to despair.

Yet Te’Roek provides only a temporary sanctuary, for Varren is determined to see it fall and will not stop until he rules the city from the castle itself.

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When all seems lost for Ronnesia, a small but fearless band of rebels arises.

The Ayons have been victorious. Queen Sorcha has fled Te’Roek, leaving the city under the occupation of the Ayons, led by the new consul Lord General Archis Varren.

But not all the citizens have bent the knee. A fragile resistance—led by Angora, Tiderius, and Rasmus—tirelessly tries to keep the citizens loyal to Queen Sorcha. However, even their combined power cannot stand up to the might of the new consul. Forced to look elsewhere for allies, their gaze falls upon infamous assassin Zoran Sable and his deadly arts. Even so, will it be enough to liberate the city?

At the end of an age, the ancient equilibrium threatens to fracture and break forever.



Naming a Royal Princess


S.A. Gordon, author of The Young Royals series, including The Prince and the upcoming The Queen talks to us about naming her own Royal Baby, and how she almost got the correct name.

When writing The Prince I had to create names for several royal personages, including one princess who was destined to be queen. The prince himself is called David (and his full suite of names will be revealed in the opening lines of The Queen). His younger sister is Margaret Mary Anne. For his older sister I needed a name that would befit the queen she would become, pay homage to the current British royal family and also give a nod to royal watchers.

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The name I chose for this queen was Alexandra Elizabeth Diana, nicknamed Alix. She was named after Alexandra, the much-loved consort of King Edward VII (her nickname was also Alix), and also for the last Tsarina of Russia. Thus, Alexandra is a pedigreed royal name, which made it suitable for a Queen of the United Kingdom.
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No reference is made in The Prince or The Queen to the current British Royal Family (although there are little details drawn from their lives which eagle-eyed royal watchers may pick up), but I still wanted to give a nod to their history. So the ‘Elizabeth’ of the queen’s name is for Elizabeth I. This name had to come second because of that august predecessor – it wouldn’t have seemed right to put it last.
The inclusion of ‘Diana’ was obvious; for me, as someone who adored the late Princess of Wales, it felt necessary too. But I didn’t think it needed to be explained in the story, as Diana is also an ancient name – the name of the goddess of the hunt.
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Cover Reveal: Equilibrium episodes 3 and 4


The Ronnesians are forced to answer for their deception, which comes at a deadly price.

Lord General Archis Varren, intent on avenging the murder of his predecessor, has traced the assassination contract to the Ronnesian Mayor Challan, one of Queen Sorcha’s most valued supporters.

Meanwhile, Vrór viciously attacks the Ronnesian capital of Te’Roek, luring Angora back from her self-appointed mission in the north. The two Leikas finally come face to face and their ensuing battle takes them far from the city. But is this fight one Angora can possibly win?

In the aftermath of the attack, Varren hatches his plan to cripple Queen Sorcha’s power at its very source and the equilibrium begins to tip.

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A mage and newly-made queen is killed, devastating both sides of the war.

Unable to persuade her former companions to give up their quest to reclaim her allegiance, Angora has been forced to turn against them and fight for her freedom. However, the fight has proven to be a costly one and Angora has fallen to her death in a deep ravine.

In the wake of her demise, both empires are momentarily subdued, mourning the loss of a friend and queen.

However, driven by the belief that Angora may have survived, the Ronnesians launch an attack on the Ayon capital of Delseroy in an attempt to free her from the Ayons’ clutches. But their attack does not go according to plan, setting in motion a series of events that could spell their doom.



Cover reveal – Aurora: Eden


The future starts now …

In the wake of the tragic events in Centralis, Captain Saul Harris stands with the weight of the world on his shoulders. With the truth of UNFASP revealed, he realizes that he must embrace his ancestry if he is to survive the coming onslaught. But how far will Harris go to protect the future? Will he sacrifice life as he knows it and become a Jumbo? Or can he face the future as a common man?

Meanwhile Sergeant Carrie Welles has been left devastated by what has happened. Uncertain of the future ahead, and with her nemesis, Sharley, on the brink of control, she struggles to pick herself up. But she is left surprised when help comes from the unlikeliest of places.

As her life veers off in a direction she never expected, Carrie soon understands that she is running a course with a destiny that lies far beyond her control. A destiny that is strangely aligned with her Captain’s.

Aurora: Eden goes on sale September 2015, or is available for preorder now!



Cover Reveal: Unforgettable – Always 2 by Cherie. M. Hudson


My name is Brendon Osmond. I’m a 25 year old post-graduate student who knows three things with absolute conviction. I know damn near everything there is to know about keeping in peak physical shape. I have a plan to make a lot of money from that knowledge. I’m an optimist who’s not easily rattled. But then the girl I fell in love with almost two years ago texts me out of the blue and everything I know is thrown out the window.

Am I rattled?

No.

Not until I fly to the other side of the world and discover the girl I fell for has kept a very big secret from me.

A secret that mocks all my knowledge of the human body and how to keep it healthy.

A secret that shatters my plans for my own personal training business.

A secret with my eyes.

A secret who needs me more than I can comprehend.

Ask me again if I’m rattled.

Now ask me if I’m still in love.

Perfect for fans of The Fault in Our Stars and Nicholas Sparks, Unforgettable is the second book in the Always series that began with Unconditional.

Unforgettable goes on sale soon, and is available for preorder now!



Cover reveal: Equilibrium episode 1


The Spirits’ ancient equilibrium is brought into being when the twelfth mage is finally found. But Angora is unlike those who have come before her and she refuses to blindly accept her fate.

The Ayons have mysteriously retreated from a far-reaching southern offensive, ordered back by their newly crowned king.

In the aftermath of this battle, Angora is washed up on the shore of a foreign land, bruised and battered, determined to keep her past a secret from all. Rescued from slavers, yet immediately falling prey to others, she is thrust into a war not her own.

Proclaimed one of twelve legendary mages, Angora is charged with protecting the innocent with magic beyond her imagination.

But a dark future awaits her and her friends as the Ayon threat begins to swell once more in the north.

Equilibrium: Episode 1 goes on sale April 9th, followed by episode 2 on April 23rd!



All that Sparkles OFFICIAL BLOG TOUR!


We’re super excited that ALL THAT SPARKLES by Claire Boston, Book Two of The Texan Quartet is coming out on April 23rd. To celebrate, we’ve got a month long blog tour featuring some AMAZING blogs, websites and authors who will be reviewing the book, or spotlight, interviewing or hosting guest posts. Watch this space!

1st April 2015

In Their Own Right – I’m visiting my critique group member, Teena Raffa-Mulligan and giving a glimpse into my writing sanctuary and my writing process

3rd April 2015

Amanda Pillar – how I wrote All that Sparkles
What Goes on Tour GoodReads giveaway starts

6th April 2015

Just Contemporary Romance

7th April 2015

Book Pushers

10th April 2015

Momentum Moonlight blog – Clothes, Identity and the Fashionable Romance

11th April 2015

Darkside Down Under – I’m talking about a day in my writing life and how it has changed in the last six months

13th April 2015

Interview with Beauty & Lace

14th April

Shayna Renee’s Spicy Reads

15th April 2015

Christian Barker is the Hump Day Hunk on AusRom Today

16th April 2015

Duncan Lay and I are doing a blog swap and talking about extremes of love – WARNING there are SPOILERS here

17th April 2015

I’m visiting Kylie Scott over on Facebook and giving her a sneak peak at some of All that Sparkles

20th April 2015

Booking It with Hayley G

21st April 2015

Beauty and Lace review

Romance Junkies – an excerpt of All that Sparkles

22nd April 2015

Book’d Out – an excerpt of one of my favourite scenes in All that Sparkles

23rd April 2015 – Release Day!!

Harlequin Junkie
Australian Romance Readers Association Blog
Belinda Williams is interviewing me today
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24th April 2015

Give Me Books – Review

27th April 2015

I’m visiting another critique group member today, Juanita Kees and talking about why I love romance series

28th April 2015

Mae Archer is interviewing me today

30th April 2015

Sophie Masson

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Why I Love John Wick, aka The Theory of Unorthodox Motivation In Heroes


Charles Purcell joins us on the blog today to talk about the hero’s journey:


According to the well-known theory of The Hero’s Journey, there are several steps each hero takes during any quest. They include the call to adventure; facing guardians; battling challenges and temptations; diving into a personal or very real hell or abyss; being transformed by the experience; and returning as a newer, more powerful hero.
The first of those steps is perhaps the most important: the call to adventure. As in, why has the hero or heroine embarked on their epic quest? What gets them out of bed to don their armour, sheath their sword, power up their laser or get their metaphorical Millennium Falcon out of the Mos Eisley hangar in the first place?

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It is this question of motivation that most intrigued me while watching Keanu Reeve’s last effort, John Wick. Described as one of the best action films of 2014, it’s a welcome return to form for Reeves, a pacy shoot-’em-up that reminds me of the excitement and vigour of the first Taken movie. The shooting scenes are particularly interesting as Wick takes down Russian Mafiosko close up, almost using his pistol as a third hand or extra fist.
Yet what stuck out in my mind was Wick’s motivation for bring the pain: the Russian mafia killed his dog. Or rather, they killed the dog that was the last gift from his late wife. But still … it’s all about the dog, whose collar Wick keeps on his bedstand as a reminder to keep his rage fresh. Several Russians can’t believe that Wick would go postal over a pooch. After all, who goes all Rambo over a dog?

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But it’s a welcome twist from the usual tired themes of revenge movies. The “they killed/kidnapped his wife and family … and now it’s personal” gambit has been played out in everything from Taken to Commando. It might have seemed fresh in 1986’s The Princess Bride  – “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die” – but now it’s old, familiar terrain.
So … we all know how the hero’s journey will go. What keeps us engaged and interested are the twists and tweaks on the content of the journey and the motivation of the hero.
It’s the twists on the how and why that keep us coming back.

Maybe that’s why I’m the only person I know who enjoyed National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1. Emilio Estevez stars as a parody of Mel Gibson’s character from the Lethal Weapon movies, a psychotic, burnt-out cop who grieves for the loss of his pet dog Claire. His motivation is rage at the world for taking Claire away from him – and then more rage when he realises that she is still alive.
Again … it’s all about the dog.
Incidentally, pooches seem a popular theme for alt-revenge: the theft of a gang boss’s beloved Shih Tzu is also the inciting incited for Martin McDonagh’s clever comedy Seven Psychopaths.

The eponymous hero from my own novel The Spartan is also motivated by unusual beliefs and desires: namely, the belief system of the ancient warriors of Sparta. How one maintains those beliefs while serving as a special forces soldier in modern America – a hedonistic, “Athenian” paradise far removed from the harsh world of 500BC – is the crux of his personal battle. (No dogs are featured, though. Just lots of mobsters, rogue special forces soldiers and elite Chicom assassins.)
I’d like to see a lot more movies in the John Wick vein.  I’d like to see a revenge fantasy based on a burnt-out Italian hitman taking revenge on the Russian mob for a bad customer rating on eBay. I’d pay good money to see gunmen battle it out over a stolen parking space. I’d book early online to see a psychopathic version ofSideways where snobs go at each other hammer and tongs because someone brought merlot to dinner. I’d definitely tape a movie called Revenge For Flipper … and at least watch the first 10 minutes of The Artisanal Bread Massacre.

Missing cats, neglected goldfish, overgrown hedges, crude personal graffiti on toilet walls, disses on Facebook, poor service in stores and social exclusion in high school now writ large in the adult mind are all real-world fodder for alt-revenge … providing said revenge is exacted on tough, demanding, armed foes and not, say, innocent teen fry cooks.
Perhaps a gun-toting gluten-intolerant could take their intolerance out on the gluten-loving world at large in some bizarre remake of Falling Down (“at first he was gluten intolerant … now he can’t tolerate anything”). Perhaps a $10,000 Apple Watch could be the McGuffin in the suitcase in Pulp Fiction II, the item avaricious gangsters fight and die over. Maybe pimped-out grocery carts could be transformed into Mad Max-style battle vehicles as the apocalypse comes to the frozen food section of your local grocery store (“Everyone is checking out on aisle nine in Store Wars: Episode III”).
I await Hollywood’s best efforts.


My ebook military thriller, The Spartan, is now available.



The Official Aurora: Centralis Blog tour!


We’re so excited about the launch of AURORA: CENTRALIS, the fourth instalment in Amanda Bridgeman’s bestselling AURORA series, that we’ve declared March as an entire month of Official Centralis Blog Tour madness! We’ve got so much amazing stuff lined up – articles, interviews, reviews, discounted prices, giveaways – keep an eye out.

OFFICIAL CENTRALIS BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE:

Monday 2nd March – Just A Guy That Likes 2 Read

Tuesday 3rd March – Momentum blog ‘Your World, Writ Large’ by Achala Upendran

Tuesday 3rd March – Chris Allen’s blog

Wednesday 4th March – Duncan Lay’s Website

Monday 9th March – Just A Guy That Likes 2 Read

Wednesday 11th March – Feathers of the Firebird, Sophie Masson’s blog

Thursday 12th March – Dark Matter Zine

Monday 16th March – A Norse View

Monday 16th March – Just a Guy That Likes 2 Read

Wednesday 18th March – Booktastik Author Feature 

Wednesday 18th March – Aurora Darwin, Pegasus and Meridian 99c promotion!

Wednesday 18th March – Aurora Centralis preorder deal!

Friday 20th March – Book Roulette

Monday 23rd March – Just a Guy That Likes 2 Read 

Wednesday 25th March – SFFWorld

Thursday 26th March – LAUNCH DAY OF AURORA CENTRALIS

Thursday 26th – David McDonald’s blog

Friday 27th March – Gillian Pollack’s blog

Sunday 29th March – Liza O’Connor’s blog

Monday 30th March – The Oaken Bookcase

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Cover Reveal: Cold Deception by D.B. Tait


Secrets, lies, deception. That’s what it takes to stay alive.

At 20, Julia Taylor went to prison for murdering a man who deserved it. Ten years later, she’s ready to put the past behind her and get on with her life. But someone won’t let her. Someone will do anything to drive Julia away, including murder.

As the body count rises, Julia is forced to accept the help of Dylan Andrews, a cop with dark secrets of his own. Unfortunately help has a cost. Dylan is digging into Julia’s past, uncovering secrets she is desperate to keep.

Julia must keep Dylan at a distance, or else risk her own safety, and the safety of everyone she loves …

COLD DECEPTION comes out March 12 2015, or you can preorder now for the special price of $2.99!



Cover Reveal: Aurora Centralis by Amanda Bridgeman


 

The beginning, and end, of everything …

After the dramatic events of the past few missions, Captain Saul Harris and Corporal Carrie Welles have found themselves on a path they never expected to be on. Carrie, more vulnerable than she’s ever been, is placed under immense pressure as she becomes the most valuable asset to the UNF. Meanwhile, Harris works with the Aurora crew to keep the UNF at bay and shield her from their nemesis, Sharley, who wants her now more than anything. As events unfold, Carrie comes face to face with the truth of her father’s past, while Harris is forced to confront the truth of his ancestor’s. The revelations leave them reeling in shock, but not as much as when the explosive truth behind UNFASP is finally revealed.

Harris and Carrie struggle with the difficult decisions they have to make, while the Aurora team endures their toughest challenge yet. Once again they come face to face with their enemies in a showdown that will rock them to their very core and change them all forever.

For the Aurora team, Centralis, is the beginning, and end, of everything …

AURORA CENTRALIS goes on sale March 26th 2015, and is available for preorder.



Six Lovecraft tales to drive sleep from your door


We’re joined on the blog today by Daniel East, writer and Lovecraft enthusiast.

Like that dead rat in the wall, Lovecraft’s legacy is something you know of long before you discover the body of his work. At his best, his stories haunt the reader with an unearthly pall of doom. At his worst, they just stink. Here are six of his best, though be warned – these are works that have not just changed the way we write horror, but have altered our very definition of what that word means.

6. The Shadow over Innsmouth

Two words: fish people. This one’s also great because many of Lovecraft’s other stories exist within the same universe, and it’s nice to know when someone drops a line about, ‘Them thar peeple from Innsmouth,’ you can be all like, ‘oh yeah, that’s on account of all the fish people.’

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Mike Bukowski has a project going in which he is illustrating each and every creature found in the stories of H.P. Lovecraft. http://yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com.au/2010/06/eldritch-stygian-horror.html

Also one of my favourites because it is essentially three long, expositionary monologues followed by a parade.

5. The Rats in the Walls

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I prefer Lovecraft’s longer stories to his short, but this one takes a lovely turn and is a good example of how quickly the universe of a Lovecraft story can go from ‘slightly peculiar’ to ‘HOLY MOTHER OF GOD WHAT IS THAT?’

Also there’s plenty of cats in it. Lovecraft was definitely a cat person (by which I mean he preferred cats to dogs, not that he was a star-born feline abomination.)

4. The Call of Cthulu

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Probably considered by many to be the best introduction to Lovecraft, this story doesn’t top the list due to Lovecraft’s hackneyed detective technique. It’s a good thing people wrote letters and took death-bed dictation classes back in the 1920s instead of Instagramming everything, otherwise this story would be three tweets and a photo of the eponymous sunken god with the hashtag #FML.

Also: Lovecraft is really, really racist. It becomes pretty clear in this story but it’s the kind of overt, damaged grandpa kind of racism. Just fyi.

3. The Colour out of Space

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Recently, my wife went to New Zealand. ‘Read a Lovecraft story,’ I suggested, ‘they’re excellent!’ She was pretty steamed when she couldn’t sleep at 4am, stranded in a strange, sodden country where the locals were like us but strangely affected somehow.

I really like the monsters in this one because they’re right on the edge of comprehension. It’s one of the best examples of Lovecraftian horror where the creature really isn’t describable.

Also also: gotta love his titles. Always do what they say on the tin.

2. The Dunwich Horror

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My definition of a great short story is one where comprehension dawns on the very last sentence. (See: Salinger’s Nine Stories) Unlike the compactness of Salinger, this 40-page tale has enough going on to fill a very excellent movie. In each of the sections the dread just keeps ramping up until you have one of the most memorable monsters in all of fiction just melting small-town folks from New England.

One downside is that there are long tracts of exposition in really bad New England accent.

 1. The Whisperer in the Darkness

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It’s Lovecraft’s cosmological horrors that compel me the most. A lone wizard or a cult of inbred cannibals is interesting, but Lovecraft really shines when he starts to outline the terrible surgery of a race of winged insects from Pluto. This story does it all: turns on the last sentence, has great monsters, a palpable ramping of dread and also one of the best ‘bad idea’ moments of all Lovecraft’s prose.

Hint: if your pen-pal claims he fears for his life, then suddenly sends you a letter saying everything is totally cool and you should come hang out and oh, also, bring all those photos and documented evidence I sent you – DON’T DO IT’S A TRAP.

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Cover Reveal: Frank Delaney Thrillers by Michael Rose


The snow in a Montreal winter covers a multitude of sins …

In the icy depths of a Quebec winter, a harmless old Polish man dies in mysterious circumstances. His suspicious niece draws in Montreal investigative journalist, Frank Delaney, to help her find the truth behind the death, a story the authorities seem to want covered up.

The search for answers sweeps them into a dangerous web involving Canadian, Polish and Vatican agents who will use any means, even murder, to stop them. The catalyst for this international intrigue is the true story of Polish national art treasures secretly shipped to Canada to be hidden from the Nazis in the opening days of World War Two. This classic thriller combines fascinating history, deft storytelling and psychological depth.

 The Mazovia Legacy was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel, 2004.

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Sometimes an obsession can become a death wish …

In the second Frank Delaney thriller, the Montreal-based investigative journalist and sometime spy is assigned by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to locate one of their agents gone missing in Bangkok.

The search for Nathan Kellner, a bohemian bon vivant with a taste for young women and a variety of illicit substances, brings Delaney first to London, then to Thailand and Burma, where evidence points to an elaborate plot to destabilize the Burmese military regime. Untangling that plot thrusts Delaney directly into the line of fire between the generals at the head of Burma’s all-powerful junta and those who would use any means to see them overthrown.

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Not every victim is found to be innocent …

Frank Delaney, investigative journalist and sometime spy, is on assignment in Phuket, Thailand, in the aftermath of the tsunami that killed thousands of people, foreigners and locals alike. Disaster victim identification teams from police forces across the globe have descended on this idyllic holiday location to carry out their gruesome work.

Delaney discovers that, against all logic, someone is trying to prevent identification of one of the bodies lying in makeshift beachside morgues. His search for the reason follows a trail through Thailand’s seedy child sex trade to an elaborate cover-up in Germany and France, where those with everything to lose use increasingly desperate measures to stop him dead.

The Tsunami File was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel, 2008.



Zombies are the new black


Justin Woolley, whose zombie dystopia A Town Called Dust is coming out soon, joins us to talk about the living dead.

We wake in the middle of the night to the sound of sirens and car alarms. The phones are dead. The TV is an endless emergency broadcast about remaining in our homes. Outside the dead are rising. We’re all screwed. Time to bust out the shotgun. The zombie apocalypse is here.

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Zombies aren’t exactly pleasant. They are withered, decaying, slack-jawed corpses, with pieces of flesh periodically falling off, leaking body fluids from every orifice and smelling like the possum that got stuck in my grandparents’ chimney for three weeks. They have the conversational skills of an avocado and if you invite them over for coffee they just keep trying to suck your brains out of your eyeholes. So why do we love them? What is it about zombies and the zombie apocalypse that seems to spawn a never-ending collection of films, books and video games? Why are we fascinated with a plague of rising dead that will destroy civilisation and leave us, the gritty survivors, to make what life we can in a world where our brains are the most sort after delicacy?

 

Zombies are hot property. From films like Night of the Living Dead, Evil Dead, 28 Days Later, Zombieland to books I Am Legend, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, World War Z, Patient Zero to video games Resident Evil, Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead, The Evil Within and now TV with The Walking Dead, zombies are a pivotal part of pop culture and a stable of the horror genre but they aren’t exactly as new as we might think.

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The zombie legend has its roots in African and Haitian voodoo in which a voodoo practitioner would raise a newly deceased person from the dead to act as their slave. These zombies are a lot more like a convenient corpse-butler than the contagious brain-eaters we know and love today. Zombie-like creatures known as ghouls are also referenced in Arabian literature as far back as the 9th century. These creatures were known to have influenced Mary Shelley when she wrote what might be the most famous piece of zombie literature, Frankenstein. Much of the early zombie tales focused on the animating of a single corpse, the rise of a single monster. We really have Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend and then George Romero’s film Night of the Living Dead to thank for bringing us the idea of the relentless zombie horde.

 

So, what is it then about the zombie horde that seems so enduring? I believe the appeal of the zombie apocalypse is two-fold, the zombie horde frightens us, but it also holds a mirror up to humanity.

 

The zombie horde is terrifying not necessarily in the pure grossness of zombies, they aren’t winning any beauty contests obviously, but their true horror is in the fear of the overwhelming. We all feel overwhelmed sometimes, that we have too much to handle, that the world is going to crush us under the weight of our circumstances. The zombie horde is simply this feeling amplified. The idea that you kill one zombie and ten more take its place. It is a flood we realise we cannot hold back. What is frightening about zombies is how committed they are. They’re not going to stop off for a power nap or quick coffee, they don’t procrastinate, they just keep coming. It’s impressive really isn’t it?

 

From a metaphorical standpoint the fear of zombies is also the fear of facing of death. The zombie apocalypse provides a scenario in which you quite literally face death; the living dead are coming at you from all angles. If you can kill enough zombies you overcome death and you get to live a little longer. Then, once you inevitably fall to the unstoppable zombie horde you become a walking corpse too, trapped in death forever. What a cheery thought.

 

Zombie fiction strips away all that we usually consider safe. Everywhere we usually turn for support is gone. Suddenly your Mum wants to eat your brain, society offers no protection and even death is worse than usual. But even with all that the zombie apocalypse is also appealing to people because it is the type of apocalypse we can fight. A killer plague, run-away artificial intelligences dropping nuclear bombs, an big old asteroid sending us on a one way ticket to extinction, all these things leave us powerless but a zombie, hell, I’ve played loads of computer games, give me a shotgun and a baseball bat and let me at them.

 

Of course, like all good stories, the zombie apocalypse reflects a side of humanity. In a very real way zombies are simply humanity boiled down to our primordial, destructive nuts and bolts. The zombie wants to crack open your skull like a boiled egg and doesn’t much care for the ethical, moral, environmental or political dilemma of this. Zombies don’t care for anything except fulfilling their insatiable need to feed. Zombies, like humanity, leave a trail of destruction in their wake. In the end perhaps we believe humanity is the real horde.

 

We love the zombie apocalypse, or any post-apocalyptic fiction for that matter, because it allows us to ask questions about the nature of humanity. If our civilisation is torn down and the rules are gone, what do we become? Will humans become vicious creatures willing to kill each other to survive? Or will we hold on to some semblance of law and order? In the end zombie fiction such as The Walking Dead explores the idea that the real danger existing in a world full of zombies might just be the humans that remain.

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So, perhaps there is deep metaphorical meaning to zombie fiction, or perhaps zombies are just plain awesome. Either way, stock up on canned food and ammunition, because I don’t see zombies dying any time soon.

TOWNDUST



The 10k Day


Write three books for us, they say. It’ll be easy, they say.

The Momentum team have me working harder than an Ork in Mordor, delivering more books to the ravenous hordes. Because I’ve got a reasonably demanding job, it means writing time is at a premium. I try to scribble 500-1000 words a day, and more on weekends. But I’ve also got another ace up my sleeve.

The 10k Day.

Friend and crime writer supremo PD Martin introduced the concept to me. Though I don’t think she invented it, I’m giving her the credit. The Momentum team were so amazed by the concept when we caught up for drinks that they asked me to write a blog about it. I think they think I’m lying.

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How does it work? It’s a stream of consciousness vomiting of words onto the page. It’s hard, it’s tiring, it’s relentless and it’s not very much fun. But it’s a fantastic way to get a lot of words down fast. 10,000, in fact. Words are important when you’re in the novel business.

So if that’s what’s cooking, what are the ingredients?

  • Laptop.
  • Quiet place.
  • Mobile phones, internet, spell check, TV, radio, PS4 turned OFF.
  • Snacks and water.
  • Scotch (optional).
  • Writing buddy (optional).

The key is having enough well plotted scenes to get you to 10,000 words. You don’t have time to think. You also don’t have time to look back. Never look back. Once a word is down, push forward! No editing! No elaborate, perfectly crafted writing here. Expect lots of [INSERT DESCRIPTION HERE].

It’s all about bludgeoning your manuscript into submission then fixing it later.

The schedule I usually stick to:

  • Write from 9.00am-11.00am
  • Break from 11.00am-11.15am
  • Write from 11.15am-1.15pm
  • Lunch from 1.15pm-1.45pm
  • Write from 1.45pm-3.45pm
  • Break from 3.45pm-4.00pm
  • Write from 4.00pm-6.00pm

It sounds impossible. It’s not. It is very, very hard though. I did a handful of these for The Foundation, and I’ve done one so far for State of Emergency. Most of the time I hit the 10k halfway through the last session. Even if you don’t quite make it, you’ll still get a lot of words down.

It doesn’t work for everyone, but it may work for you. If not, some of the things your mind cooks up when you have to write 1250 words an hour are interesting, if nothing else.

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 Steve P Vincent’s first book, The Foundation, was published by Momentum in September 2014. Connect with him on:

Web: http://stevepvincent.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stevepvincentwriter

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/stevepvincent

 



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