Thursday, June 28, 2012

Interview with Author Cindi Crane



It is my pleasure to introduce Author Cindi Crane winner of the B.R.A.G Medallion.



Cindi please tell us about your book, Roswell Redemption.

Roswell Redemption is a story of two women whose stories come together in Greyson Manor, a plantation home in Roswell, Georgia.
In 1838, Jade Hawkins is the thirteen year old daughter of a prominent Cherokee family who own one of the most successful plantations in the Cherokee Nation. But the Hawkins plantation is taken over by force as a result of the Georgia Land Lottery and Andrew Jackson’s insistence on the Cherokee removal to the west. Jade's family is destroyed and she is forced to stay with the new white owner. Her strength and sacrifices change the history of several families for many years to come.
In 2010, Carolyn Kane searches for a property where she can open a restaurant and event facility in Roswell, Georgia. Carolyn finds Greyson Manor, one of the only original plantations remaining. The owners are unwilling to renovate or sell. As Carolyn strives to persuade the Greyson clan, she uncovers the story of an Indian girl that will change the town of Roswell forever.





What inspired you to write this story?

I was inspired to write this story after struggling with uncovering my husband’s genealogy. My husband’s grandparents died very young (39 and 42) and their 6 children were orphaned – the family records were lost. However, I was fascinated by my husband’s grandmother’s Cherokee background. I discovered that it was difficult to prove. In my research I learned that many Cherokee would note on the census that they were white or black in fear that the government would take their land – even still today. I realized that I didn’t know as much about Georgia as I had thought and my mother bought me the book, The Trail of Tears, by John Ehle. My heart broke reading about the tales of the Cherokees’ attempts to integrate into the white man’s world. They dressed like the white men and women. They learned to speak, read and write the English language. They worked farms and even married into the white race. It wasn’t enough. When gold was discovered in Northwest Georgia, part of the Cherokee Nation, Andrew Jackson stepped in. He defied the Supreme Court, who had ruled that the land should remain with the Cherokee, and asked Governor Lumpkin to conduct the Land Lottery of 1832. And in 1838 the Cherokee were removed to the west along the Trail of Tears.

What fascinates you the most of the time period this story takes place in?

At the same time I was working through my husband’s genealogy, I became fascinated with the beautiful historical plantation homes and quant shops and restaurants in Roswell, Georgia.
I absolutely love that town! I even toyed with the idea of opening a plantation home as an events facility and looked into what it would take. I decided I was better suited staying in the technology industry I have worked in for over 25 years, but again it was a time of my life that really opened my eyes to the history and the culture of this area. The idea came to me one day that I should write about what I had learned. I wanted it to be a novel versus a non-fiction book hoping to capture the hearts and minds of the many fiction readers and book club members. I think historical novels are a great way to educate readers and I hope that I portrayed the beauty and sorrows of the area and events. Roswell King and the other “Founding Fathers” began building their homes in the late 1830’s – shortly after the removal. Apparently, Roswell has more plantation homes and other historical buildings still standing than almost any other town in the South. Some of the homes were spared because they had Mason symbols on them (Sherman was a Mason himself) so the Union used them for hospitals and to rest in prior to taking over Atlanta. I take my story from The Trail of Tears (1838) through the Civil War (1865).


Were there any research challenges you faced?

I had to do my research and write on the weekends because I work full time during the week. Some places I would have liked to go in person to see and research, I was unable to because of the timing. Most of my research was done through reading many books about the Cherokee, Roswell, and the Civil War. One of the fun and fascinating books I read was Dianna Avena’s book, Roswell, History, Haunts and Legends. Dianna runs the Ghost Tour in Roswell – she really knows the history of the homes!

How long did it take you to write Roswell Redemption?

I wrote my first draft of Roswell Redemption in 21 Sundays! That’s not really something to brag about – whipping out a novel isn’t really the best way to go about it, but I was on a mission! I of course then edited it 16 times and had my book club read it and edit it as well as many family and friends. At the same time I was learning about the publishing business. After writing a bunch of query letters to agents, I decided to go with Outskirts Press. They are a hybrid type of publisher. You pay a little up front, but then they take it from there just like a traditional publisher. It’s exciting to see all of the book stores and on line retailers pick it up. It’s even available in Australia and Croatia! It’s really exciting to see the finished product. It’s also available in Kindle and Nook and within a few weeks it will be available on the iPad Bookstore.

What is your next book project?

I have gotten emails and letters from people all over the country telling me how they loved the story; that they either have Cherokee ancestry or learned something about the area they were unaware of. Most people really like Jade, my protagonist in the 1800’s. Some have asked for a sequel so I decided to start one! I can’t wait to see where this story takes me. I’ll be writing about the 1860’s through the 1920’s – can’t wait to learn all about that era and will of course intertwine Jade’s fictitious family into the historical facts. I love going from current day back to the past. It’s almost like getting two books in one!
My most exciting project however is that I am working with the City of Roswell, the Roswell Historical Society, the Trail of Tears Association and the Cherokee to build a monument to the Cherokee in Roswell. We hope to unveil it in 2013, the 175th anniversary of the Trail of Tears. When I approached the mayor, Jere Wood, about the idea, he was all for it and has been supportive as well as the organizations that I will be working with to build a memorial to the Cherokee – to honor those who came before us.

Who or what inspired you to become an author?

My college English professors used to tell me they liked my style of writing and I should try to work it into my career. I do write technical papers, proposals, etc. with my job – but truly, my husband inspired me to write what I had learned. He had the faith in me that it would get done. He even helped me rewrite the last chapter and gave me feedback as I worked through the story line. His support, as well as my family and friends’ support, helped bring this story to reality.

What is your favorite quote?

I love this quote from Benjamin Franklin - If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Just Start! I found that you have to pick a day and time that you will write and make it a priority. The good news is, once you start, it will flow! I found writing my novel was like reading a book that you can’t put down. Once the story starts to flow, you just go! And it doesn’t have to be perfect out of the gate – just start – you can always change it later – but not until you start! The other very helpful activity for me was to join the Georgia Writers Association and the Atlanta Writers Club. I am sure most towns have writers groups. You meet other people that are at different stages of the publishing process and I learned a lot from them. Another tip - find out who your local authors are, recommend their books to your book club and invite them to attend your meeting. Most authors really appreciate your support and love to attend the book club meetings to talk about their stories and what inspired them. They will then be great mentors for you. I did that with Wendy Wax, Karen White and Sandy Weaver Carmen and they have been so inspiring and supportive of me!

Author Bio:

Cindi Crane is a member of the Georgia Writers Association, the Atlanta Writers Club, the Roswell Historical Society, the Trail of Tears Association and the Georgia Trust. She has a BS degree in Marketing and has worked for 25 years in the technology industry. She is the Southeast Consulting Sales Director for Oracle Corporation. Cindi is a Georgia Author of the Year, First Novel Nominee for 2012 and is an IndieB.R.A.G. Medallion recipient. Visit her website at http://outskirtspress.com/roswellredemption.




 
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Cindi Crane who is the author of Roswell Redemption, one of our medallion honorees at www.bragmedallion.com. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as Roswell Redemption merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

IndieBRAG


Thank you Cindi for this wonderful interview and to IndieBRAG.

Stephanie
Layered Pages



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review: The Twelfth Child by Bette Lee Crosby



“Trust, love and friendship—Abigail Anne Lannigan searched for these things all her life; now, when she is at the tail end of her years she teams up with a free-spirited young woman, a nobody from nowhere, who suddenly moves in across the street. It’s an unlikely friendship which comes under suspicion when a distant relative, claims embezzlement. One million dollars is missing and only Abigail knows the truth of what happened – but, she’ll never get the chance to tell.

The Twelfth Child, a novel rich with emotion, humor and tenderness, explores the splintered relationships of a Shenandoah Valley family and their willful daughter’s struggle to survive America’s Great Depression and overcome the past.”

Goodreads


My review:

The Twelfth Child is the second book I have read by Bette Crosby. Her unqiue style of writing is timeless and her character building is inspiring. I admired the protagonist Abigial and her resilience to life and situation. She is a character of strength and courage, we can all learn a lesson from.

Bette has such a way with words that you feel the happiness, love, hate, sadness, greed, and outrage of the characters. You know you’re reading a good story when you feel such emotions for the characters and their plight. They’re like real people you know and love.

This is a deeply moving story that touches the core of your heart. Bette truly is a talented writer and a wonderful story teller.

Stephanie
Layered Pages


I will be holding an interview with one of Bette's characters, Destiny! You won't want to miss it! More information coming soon!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Interview with Author Lloyd Lofthouse





Lloyd please tell us about your book, The Concubine Saga.

The Concubine Saga is based on a true story. Soon after arriving in China in 1854, Robert Hart (1835 - 1911) falls in love with Ayaou, a young Chinese concubine, but his feelings for her sister go against the teachings of his Christian upbringing and almost break him emotionally. To survive he must learn how to live and think like the Chinese and soon finds himself thrust into the Opium Wars and the Taiping Rebellion, the bloodiest rebellion in human history, where he makes enemies of men such as the American soldier of fortune known as the Devil Soldier.


Were there any challenges researching for your story?

Only in China. To reach China requires a twelve hour (or longer) flight and since China is almost as large as the US getting around means long train trips or airplane flights. In addition, finding material was not always easy as some of it from the Cultural Revolution was restricted.

What interest you the most about Robert's life in China?

His relationship with his Ayaou, his concubine. Since Hart burned about 7 1/2 years worth of his own journals that covered the ten years he lived with Ayaou and she is seldom mentioned elsewhere this was what I wanted to bring to life. Few Westerners in China were capable of bridging the cultural gap as Robert Hart did and it was his relationship with Ayaou that made it possible.

What is the most surprising thing you learned about the Chinese culture?

The degree of effort a child will go to show piety for his or her parents and elders. In America we worship youth and as we age the culture tends to want the older people to not be seen or heard while making sure young people get what they want, but in China the exact opposite is usually the case.

Who or what inspired you to become an author?

Ray Bradbury, who recently died, gave a talk in 1968 at the college I was attending. After that event, I knew what I wanted to do and I started writing and haven't stopped yet.

What is your greatest strength as a writer?

If I have strength as a writer, it must come from the number of years I dedicated to the craft. My BA is in journalism, I have an MFA in writing and I attended writing workshops once a week out of UCLA's extension writing program for about seven years so I will say discipline and perseverance to not give up on my writing goals no matter what obstacles get in the way.

What is your next book project?

"Running With the Enemy", another love story, which is set in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War while President Johnson still lives in the White House. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. In “Running With the Enemy”, Ethan Card is a loyal US. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again, and the woman he loves was trained to kill Americans.

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote comes from a poem titled "The Face in the Glass" by Dale Wimbrow (1895 - 1954).

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to a mirror and look at yourself
And see what that face has to say...
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the face in the glass.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

An aspiring author should educate him or herself about the craft of writing and learn as much as possible about the publishing industry and how to promote his or her work using the Internet. In the last few years, publishing has changed dramatically with the advent of the e-book and print on demand publishing (POD). Opportunities to find an audience for one's work that did not exist a few years ago, have sprouted as if they were a forest.

The aspiring author must avoid becoming the tree in the forest no one sees or hears.

Author Bio:

Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart [combined in this single volume], which earned honorable mentions in general fiction at the 2008 London Book Festival, 2009 San Francisco Book Festival, 2009 Hollywood Book Festival, 2009 Los Angeles Book Festival, 2009 Nashville Book Festival and was a finalist in historical fiction for the National Best Books 2010 Awards. Lloyd Lofthouse grew up in Southern California, served in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Marine and lives near San Francisco with his wife and family with a
second home in Shanghai, China.

Thank you Lloyd for this wonderful interview and for Virtual Author Book Tours for including me in this fantastic tour.

Stephanie
Layered Pages



Monday, June 25, 2012

Concubine Saga by Lloyd Lofthouse



"No Westerner has ever achieved Robert Hart's status and level of power in China. Driven by a passion for his adopted country, Hart became the "godfather of China's modernism," inspector general of China's Customs Service, and the builder of China's railroads, postal and telegraph systems and schools. However, his first real love is Ayaou, a young concubine. Sterling Seagrave, in Dragon Lady, calls her Hart's sleep-in dictionary and says she was wise beyond her years. Soon after arriving in China in 1854, Hart falls in love with Ayaou, but his feelings for her sister go against the teachings of his Christian upbringing and almost break him emotionally. To survive he must learn how to live and think like the Chinese. He also finds himself thrust into the Opium Wars and the Taiping Rebellion, the bloodiest rebellion in human history, where he makes enemies of men such as the American soldier of fortune known as the Devil Soldier. During his early years in China, Robert experiences a range of emotion from bliss to despair. Like Damascus steel, he learns to be both hard and flexible, which forges his character into the great man he becomes. Full of humanity, passion, and moral honesty, The Concubine Saga is the deeply intimate story of Hart's loyalty and love for his adopted land and the woman who captured his heart. Historical fiction potboiler, yes. But where The Concubine Saga truly shines is its thought-provoking passages on relationships, attitudes and cultural differences. The heated dialogue between Hart and Ayaou will especially touch a nerve for any westerner who has ever lived and loved in China…" Thomas Carter, photojournalist and author of "China: Portrait of a People"

Goodreads

My review:

When I first started to read this story, I found it a little difficult to read because I felt so dismayed over the the way of life of the Chinese and the men's treatment of their women. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to stomach it and continue. But I did continue and I'm glad I did....

As Robert first comes to China, I could only imagine the culture shocked he experienced. But he certainly embraces their way of life quickly and as the story unfolds he comes into power that is just incredible. I learned a great deal about China in the 1800's by reading this story and I applaud Lofthouse for his vivid details and well researched novel.

I rated this novel three and a half stars.

Stephanie
Layered Pages



Thursday, June 21, 2012

Interview with Author Scott Nicholson




I would like to introduce Author Scott Nicholson the winner of the IndieBRAG Medallion.


Scott, please tell us about your book, Too Many Witches.

I did IF I WERE YOUR MONSTER with Lee Davis and really liked his art, so I kicked around for another "monster" type of book.





What inspired you to write this story?

I liked the idea of "too many cooks spoil the kitchen," so I wondered what would happen if little witches tried to out-do each other on a wicked potion.

Is there a message in your story you want young readers to grasp?

It's a story about friendship and working together, but also inspiring children to be creative.

Who or what inspired you to become an author?

All the great books, art, and music I've been lucky enough to find have inspired me to be creative. Ever since I was young, I have always been making up stories, songs, and pictures. Dr. Seuss was probably one of my strongest early influences.

What are your goals as a writer?

I've fulfilled my only real goal of wanting to create for a living, but now I want to meet even more readers, get out books in foreign languages, and experiment with new types of storytelling.

What is your next book project?

I'm working on a post-apocalyptic series called AFTER, and I am developing another kids' book with Lee Davis.

What is your favorite quote?

"Life isn't fair."--three billion parents

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Dare to dream. Ignore all the people who say no or put up walls. Be relentless and uncompromising in your creative vision.

Author Bio:

Scott Nicholson is author of 20 novels and eight story collections, as well as four children's books. His website is www.hauntedcomputer.com. He is also a partner in the book promotion and giveaway site eBookSwag.com.

Scott Nicholson
http://www.hauntedcomputer.com
Sign up for my newsletter and win prizes:
scottsinnercircle-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Scott Nicholson who is the author of Too Many Witches , one of our medallion honorees at www.bragmedallion.com. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as Too Many Witches merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

IndieBRAG

Thank you Scott for this wonderful interview. It was a pleasure!

Stephanie
Layered Pages

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review: Four Sisters, All Queens by Sherry Jones



From the award-winning author of the controversial international bestseller The Jewel of Medina, a historical novel that chronicles the lives of four sisters, all daughters of Beatrice of Provence—all of whom became queens in medieval Europe. When Beatrice of Savoy, countess of Provence, sends her four beautiful, accomplished daughters to become queens, she admonishes them: Family comes first. As a result, the daughters—Marguerite, queen of France; Eleanor, queen of England; Sanchia, queen of Germany; and Beatrice, queen of Sicily—work not only to expand their husbands’ empires and broker peace between nations, but also to bring the House of Savoy to greater power and influence than before. Their father’s death, however, tears the sisters apart, pitting them against one another for the legacy each believes rightfully hers—Provence itself.

Told from alternating points of view of all four queens, and set in the tumultuous thirteenth century, this is a tale of greed, lust, ambition, and sibling rivalry on a royal scale, exploring the meaning of true power and bringing to life four of the most celebrated women of their time—each of whom had an impact on the history of Europe.

Book description from Goodreads


Introduction to my review: Have you ever read stories you enjoyed so much that when you sat down to gather your thoughts, you didn't know where to begin? Or it seems that anything you want to say or write doesn't quite do it justice? I feel this way about Four Sisters, All Queens. I don't believe there is anything I dislike about this story except that it ended!

I mentioned to Sherry yesterday that I'm having to re-write my review because I felt I was giving too much away. My review below will be nothing but praise and I hope it will encourage you to read this brilliant story.

My review: This poignant and powerful story is about four extraordinary sisters. Who-due to their mother's ambition-became queens. What is so intriguing about them is their distinctive personalities and how they shaped and molded Europe during a fascinating time in history.

There are several complex issues happening in this story but Sherry gives us a perfectly balanced and evenly paced story that will keep you enthralled to the very end.

Sherry does a wonderful job capturing the culture of the era, so good, in fact that one can tell she did extensive research. Historical accuracies is what avid readers of Historical Fiction such as myself want to see. I highly recommend this story to all.

I gave this novel five stars.

Stephanie
Layered Page

Monday, June 18, 2012

Interview with Author Tui Allen


I would like to introduce Author Tui Allen, the winner of the the B.R.A.G Medallion.


Please tell us about your book, "Ripple."

Ripple arose from my fascination with two facts:
· Dolphins were fully evolved 20 million years before humans came down from the trees.
· A dolphin brain has ten times the capacity of the human brain for processing sound.

It made me realise how little we really know about dolphins, how great is their mystery and how presumptuous we are to consider ourselves worth more than them. I want my readers, to wonder if this story might really have happened and then to want to give all cetaceans the benefit of the doubt and accord more respect to all those life-forms which humans, through their own limitations, cannot possibly fully understand. The book had a working title, “Ripple of Sound.” The story brewed in my brain for twenty years before the novel emerged. The poem version was the first incarnation of the story. The poem is included at the end of the book. It’s about twenty years older than the novel


What were some of the challenges you faced while researching for your story?

I needed to know what life was like in this part of the world twenty million years ago, but I had no idea before I started. I had a lot of help from people in the geology department of the Otago University, both from their writings and even in person. I soon learnt that in that era, New-Zealand itself was not even here yet. It was mostly still underwater. Dr Ewan Fordyce at Otago University showed me a real dolphin skull from my era and a case full of marine fossils and shells which were all from that time. It was utterly inspiring. I have a photo of my hands cradling that skull. To me it was the real skull of Ripple herself. It was an emotional moment.


Is there a message in your book you want readers to grasp?

Oh definitely. A very similar message to the one Samuel Taylor Coleridge sent us all those centuries ago. Respect for all living things, great and small, because when we kill, we do not understand the enormity of what we have done and may never know until it is too late.


What is your next book project?

A story called Rigel’s Prayer which continues on with some of the characters from Ripple, including another incarnation of Ripple’s mother Pearl on a distant world. I’d also like to resurrect an old children’s picture book of mine called “Captain Clancy the Flying Clothesline” but with different illustrations.


Who or what inspired you to become an author?


I am heavily influenced by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and can recite The Ancient Mariner by heart. It takes half an hour to recite. I love our NZ kiwi children’s authors. I’m convinced we have the best in the world right here in NZ.


What is your favorite quote?


I am not a religious person, and not a creationist, but I somehow still agree with Coleridge when he says, in his famous poem:
“He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.”


What advice would you give to an aspiring author?


It’s all about the story. Find one that’s truly worth telling, that has never been told before and then tell it to the very best of your ability. Never waste your time on a second rate story.



Author Bio:


Although Tui Allen was born in the rural New-Zealand town of Te-Awamutu, she grew up in a sailing family in Auckland. She rode horses in her teens and was a keen sailor as a young woman during the 1970s, when she cruised the South Pacific under sail in the small wooden yacht, which was her first marital home. She met many cetaceans during those voyages.

Since then she has worked as a teacher, a children’s author and a web designer. In her thirties and forties she became a long-distance athlete and completed half marathons and marathons as well as some half-ironman and ironman triathlons.

At the turn of the millennium, she returned to live close to the place of her birth in the rural Waikato area of Te Pahu, close to Mt Pirongia and Te Awamutu, where she continues to enjoy both road cycling and mountain-biking in her spare time.

She chooses to refrain from eating fish or animal flesh because of her love of animals and her concerns about the negative environmental effects of the fishing industry. She is the mother of two grown children. Ripple is her first novel.

Ripple has been selected to help showcase NZ literature at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October where NZ is the 2012 Country of Honour.


Tui Allen




We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Tui Allen who is the author of Ripple, one of our medallion honorees at www.bragmedallion.com. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as Ripple merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

IndieBRAG


Thank you for this wonderful interview

Stephanie
Layered Pages










Thursday, June 14, 2012

Interview with Author Hardy Jones



I would like to introduce Author Hardy Jones the winner of the winner of the B.R.A.G Medallion.
    Please tell us about your book, "The Voice of the Dolphins."
    The Voice of the Dolphins is the story of more than thirty years of filming and research among dolphins around the world. In 1978 filmmaker Hardy Jones was swept into the universe of dolphins. In his work as a filmmaker he came to know many of these magnificent animals as individuals. “I know when I’m with them that I’m relating to creatures as intelligent, social, and imbued with emotion as I am.” Hardy’s life became even more closely entwined with dolphins when he learned that he and the dolphins share a genetic trait that imperils both his life and the survival of dolphins worldwide. Starting with the film that came from his first life-changing encounter with spotted dolphins in the Bahamas, he’s made over 70 documentaries for PBS, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and foreign broadcasters. “Filming became my entrĂ©e into the world of dolphins but not my ultimate purpose there. My true aim was to get inside the minds of these enormously intelligent and friendly animals.” His book tells many stories of interactions with dolphins that could not be captued on film. In coming years Hardy would apply what he had learned with dolphins to killer whales in the Arctic fjords of Norway, and sperm whales off the Galapagos and the Caribbean Island of Dominica. “I became a pioneer in a parallel universe inhabited by highly intelligent, friendly, curious aliens. I came to love them and felt an intense need to protect them.” The Voice of the Dolphins covers more than three decades Hardy has fought to end the slaughter of dolphins by Japanese fishermen and tells the inspiring story of how he was instrumental in converting a dolphin hunter to a dolphin watch tour leader. In the late 1980s Hardy became aware of a threat to dolphins even more insidious that the blades of dolphin hunters – rising levels of chemical toxins in the oceans that were impacting marine life and human beings. Over succeeding decades these contaminants have reached crisis level. In 2003 Hardy was diagnosed with an incurable form of blood cancer that is linked to chemical toxins. “I’ve struggled with the side effects of medications, but my first lab tests after beginning treatment brought stunning results. My burden of monoclonal cells had been reduced by ninety-eight percent.” The diagnosis spurred Hardy to seek the sources of the pollutants in his own body and to document their impact on marine life and human beings. Hardy continues treatment and maintains an active life traveling the world to campaign for dolphins, the oceans and the welfare of humanity.

    Were there any challenges in the research for this book?


    The book is based on life experience. Challenges to research were hurricanes, boats sinking, lung searing heat in the Galapagos, frigid temperatures in Norway. Where there was research in the classical sense of the word, finding epidemiological connections between contaminants and disease in dolphins and humans is tricky work.

    What is the most surprising thing you learned in creating your book?


    My greatest surprises in the field revolved around the astonishing level of curiosity and friendliness expressed by dolphins and whales for me and my fellow divers. My greatest surprise in marketing my book was how useless it was to advertise in the New York Times Book Review.

    How long did it take you to write, "The Voice of the Dophins?"


    If you exclude the false starts – I made several stabs at writing it in the 1980s and 90s - it took just over a year to write the book.

    Who or what inspired you to become an author?


    I wanted to go into detail that is not possible in film. There are surprisingly few words in a film narration and the major focus is on picture. In my my book I was able to express in detail events and emotions that could not be portrayed in film. And writing a book – especially when you do it independently – you get to say exactly what you want without someone overriding you.

    What is your next book project?


    I’m looking at writing a short book in electronic form on the experience of covering the mass mortality of dolphins in Peru and the mystery behind this tragic die-off.

    What is your favorite quote?


    “Gentlemen in England now abed shall think themselves acursed they were not here..” Henry V

    What advice would you give to an aspiring author?


    Be clear that you are as much a marketer as a writer.

    Thank you so much!
    Stephanie



    Author Bio:

    Hardy Jones has spent more than thirty years investigating and working to save dolphins. He began unique research on dolphins in the Bahamas in 1978 that has led to internationally broadcast films and many awards. In 1979 he broke the story of the slaughter of dolphins at Iki Island, Japan which led to international outrage and helped shut down the killing of dolphins in several villages in Japan. Since then Hardy has worked at Futo and Taiji to stop the last vestiges of slaughter on Japan’s main island. Hardy has covered the increasing levels of toxic chemicals in the oceans and their connection to disease in dolphins and human beings. He has most recently been investigating the mass mortality of dolphins along the coast of Peru. Hardy is a former journalist with CBS News. He attended Tulane University and studied law at Columbia University under a CBS Foundation Fellowship.

    Websties: for my book http://hardyjonesdolphins.com/
    Also http://bluevoice.org/


    We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Hardy Jones who is the author of, The Voice of the Dolphins one of our medallion honorees at www.bragmedallion.com. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such asThe Voice of the Dolphins merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

    IndieBRAG


    Thank you to Hardy Jones for this wonderful interview and to IndieBRAG.

    Stephanie
    Layered Pages

     


     

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012

    Review for The Needle in the Blood by Sarah Bower


    Book Discription:

    January 1067. Charismatic bishop Odo of Bayeux commissions a wall hanging, on a scale never seen before, to celebrate the conquest of Britain by his brother, William, Duke of Normandy. What he cannot anticipate is how utterly this will change his life-even more than the invasion itself.
    His life becomes entangled with the women who embroider his hanging, especially Gytha-handmaiden to the fallen Saxon queen and his sworn enemy. But against their intentions, they fall helplessly in love. Friends become enemies, enemies become lovers; nothing in life or in the hanging is what it seems.

    From Goodreads


    My Review:

    I was captivated by this story and The Needle in the Blood is the first historical fiction novel I have read about the Bayeux Tapestry. It has left me wanting to know more of it's history. I enjoyed the characters in Sarah's story and felt she did a wonderful job with the character building. I also felt her secondary characters really helped support this story and I enjoyed reading about their lives. I have to admit I'm not fond of reading a story in the present tense, but I feel Sarah pulled this off and I was intrigued with Sarah's explanation to me of why she wrote the book this way. She said the story is written this way because it's the way she "heard" the story coming to her. That on reflection she found it interesting as a means of making long distant history seem more immediate.

    I recommend reading this story and hope that each reader finds a little something to come away with and would want to explore the history of this time period a little more. I rated this story three and a half stars.

    Stephanie
    Layered Pages

    Monday, June 11, 2012

    Interview with Author Richard Denning



    Layered Pages has the honor of introducing Author Richard Denning. Two time winner of the B.R.A.G Medallion! -Stephanie

    Richard please tell us about your book, The Last Seal.


    The Last Seal is a historical Fantasy set during the Great Fire of London in the year 1666 – a fire which destroyed the heart of the city and made 70,000 people homeless. I started reading up on the fire when I was designing a board game I published a couple of years ago AND for a scene in a Time Travel novel I also wrote. When I read about the fire I came across a lot on what beliefs and superstitions people had. I found about the widespread paranoia about foreign plots and conspiracies that people had at the time as well as their belief in magic being real. All that came together very quickly into a idea. I asked myself what if the fire was not just an accident, what if there really were secret societies involved and a supernatural explanation behind the great event?

    So here is a synopsis of The Last Seal. September 1666: a struggle between two secret societies threatens to destroy London. Three hundred years previously the Praesidum defeated and incarcerated a demon beneath the city. Now the Liberati aim to release it and gain its power for themselves. Meanwhile agents of the King are seeking four suspected foreign spies who are, in reality, disparate and unlikely heroes: GABRIEL, the sole remaining member of the Praesidum, crippled by his fear of failure; FREYA, a young thief orphaned by the Great Plague, driven by poverty and self-interest; TOBIAS, a cynical physician, obsessed by his desire for vengeance against the Liberati cavalier who killed his father, and finally and most vitally, BEN, a Westminster schoolboy, whose guilt over his parents’ death threatens to destroy him. Thrown together by chance when Ben finds an ancient scroll revealing the location of arcane seals that bind the demon beneath London, the story launches into a battle between the Liberati and Praesidium, a battle which takes place within the Great Fire of London. These four must overcome their personal problems and work together if they are to foil the plans of the Liberati, protect the city and gain the means to defeat the demon.

    Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

    I don’t consciously write books to get across a message to readers. I enjoy books where fantasy is blended with reality. I have to deal with gritty reality in the day job - I am a family doctor - so I really never watch or read stories about real life dramas if I can avoid it. Give me a good bit of escapism please! Thus I loved Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman and Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko - where fantastical events and creatures live alongside us. So it was that I decided to write a novel where the real historical background of 1666 and of the fire was the back drop to a story of sorcery, entombed demons and secret societies.
    Having said all that it is a tale of good vs evil, courage and having to face one’s own demons and deal with them.

    What was your biggest challenge in writing this book?

    Historical research. I wanted the reader to FEEL like they were walking around London in 1666. I wanted the fire to seem real too and the scenes involving the fire to be accurate and believable. All that took time – and perhaps that is the challenge of historical fiction – fantasy or real history. You have to spend hours visiting locations, reading about the clothes and weapons, food etc. Fortunately I enjoy all that.

    What is your greatest strength as a writer?

    Folk who give me good reviews usually say that I inject a good pace to my books, that they are fast moving and exciting. I also write a good battle. Not too much blood and gore but hopefully again a feeling of being in the middle of the action. I think I am also good at descriptions – particularly of locations.

    Who or what inspired you to become an author?

    Reading a lot. I spent my teens, twenties and thirties reading - devouring is a better word – anything historical and fantastical I could find. Gradually I got ideas for my own stories. So it is really my favourite authors who are to blame ;-)

    What books have influenced your life the most?

    I am a fan of historical fiction such as by Bernard Cornwell and Simon Scarrow. I also enjoy fantasy and I am a huge Terry Pratchett fan as well as having devoured The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, the Belgariad by David Eddings and most of the works of Raymond Feist for example. Lately I have enjoyed Helen Hollick's Harold the King and her Pirate Trilogy and of course have read all the Harry Potter books.

    What is your next book project?

    Shield Maiden – which should be out about the time of this interview – is historical fantasy which blends the historical world of Early Anglo Saxon Britain with the mythology those people believed in. It is the first of my Nine Worlds Series aimed at top primary schools.

    What is your favorite quote?

    Roads go ever ever on,
    Under cloud and under star.
    Yet feet that wandering have gone
    Turn at last to home afar.
    Eyes that fire and sword have seen,
    And horror in the halls of stone
    Look at last on meadows green,
    And trees and hills they long have known.
    JRR Tolkien
    As a doctor I have seen my share of horrible things – both in Africa as a student or even here in the UK. If times are tough that poem reminds me that home awaits me at the end of the day.

    What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

    Read a lot. Then write, rewrite and rewrite. Then get an editor. Only an editor can help take your book and mould it into something worth publishing. You won’t always agree with them, you may have the odd row but they are usually right!! (Hope Jo Field , my editor, is not reading this ;-) )

    Many thanks for the interview.

    Richard Denning
    Author of Young Adult Sci Fi and Historical Fiction:
    www.richarddenning.co.uk
    On Twitter:
    @RichardDenning
    On Facebook:
    http://www.facebook.com/richard.denning1



    Author Bio and Links


    Richard Denning was born in Ilkeston in Derbyshire and lives in Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, UK, where he works as a General Practitioner (family doctor). He is married and has two children. He has always been fascinated by historical settings as well as horror and fantasy. Other than writing, his main interests are games of all types. He is the designer of a board game based on the Great Fire of London.

    By the same author:

    Northern Crown Series
    (Historical fiction)

    1.The Amber Treasure
    2.Child of Loki

    Hourglass Institute Series

    (Young Adult Science Fiction)

    1.Tomorrow’s Guardian
    2. Yesterday's Treasures

    The Praesidium Series

    (Historical Fantasy)

    1.The Last Seal

    The Nine Worlds Series

    Coming soon: Shield Maiden

    Website: www.richarddenning.co.uk

    Book Links:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005CC4RSC
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005CC4RSC

    Twitter:

    @RichardDenning

    We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Richard Denning who is the author of The Last Seal, one of our medallion honorees at www.bragmedallion.com. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as The Last Seal merits the investment of a reader’s time and money

    .
    IndieBRAG

    Thank you Richard for this wonderful interview! It was a pleasure!

    Stephanie
    Layered Pages