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Getting to know: Mark Gillespie

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So, that was the serious interview, now it’s time to get to know the real you!

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Dreamer, Distracted…(sorry what was the question?) 

What were you like in school?
I really was a dreamer.  Whatever they were trying to teach me I was thinking about something else.  I couldn’t be bothered with school to be honest! Home economics?  I mean, what’s the point??

Right. So, imagine that there’s a zombie apocalypse and you can only use the item to your left to survive. What is it and how long would you live?
A shoebox.  I’m dead.

Um.. well.. Yeah, sorry, you’re probably right..
If there was a movie made about your life, who would play you and why?
It’d have to be Woody Harrelson.  Been told many times there’s a resemblance. Don’t see it myself!

Interesting choice!
If you were an animal, what would you be and why? 
Anything that can fly.  But if it’s a choice between a mosquito and a golden eagle, it’s eagle all the way!

Golden Eagles are great!
Imagine that you’re a hosting a dinner party for your three favourite people. Who have you invited and what have you cooked?
Cook?  Eh, it’s a Dominos all round.  I’m sure they’d understand.  Assuming I can bring in people from throughout history, I would invite Richard Burton (fascinating man who possessed the greatest voice ever), Crazy Horse (Sioux who defeated Custer at the Little Bighorn), and Amelia Earhart just to ask what the hell happened to her plane!  

Awesome choices! Though that home economics in school probably would have helped with the cooking!!
Finally, if you had a time machine, where and when would you most like to visit?
Last week.  Glasgow city centre.  I lost a tenner there 😉 

Interesting use of a time machine! Haha

Thanks, Mark!

To see Mark’s serious interview, please click here.

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Author interview: Mark Gillespie

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Hi, Mark!
Before we get started, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Mark Gillespie and I’m from Glasgow, Scotland.  My background is in music.  I used to work as a bass player all over the UK and Ireland doing gigs and sessions and whatever paid the bills.  Then I came to writing.  Anything to avoid the insanity that is a ‘proper job’.  As of this summer, I’ll be leaving Scotland and relocating to Melbourne, Australia. 

That’s a big move! Good luck with it!
So, what is your favourite thing about being an author?
 
You get to gather all your hang-ups, enthusiasms, frustrations, hopes, fears and darkest secrets together and then dump them onto an unsuspecting reader.  It’s a strange kind of therapy.

Great answer!
When writing a new story, do you start with the plot or the title?

The plot.  If the title is there at the beginning that’s great, but it doesn’t really matter.  As long as it shows up eventually otherwise that would just be awkward. 

What made you want to become an author?

An ever-so slightly overactive imagination.

Who has been your biggest supporter?
My wife, Ide.  She’s the greatest person in the world.  She understands, encourages, and supports me through everything.  I say the same thing to her that Sly and the Family Stone said to the world: ‘Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

Aww, that’s so sweet!
Do you have any regrets about becoming an author? 

No.  Well, the money sucks.

Can I ask, if you don’t mind, what you’re currently working on?
I have two short stories on the go and one piece of flash fiction (about 750 words).  I’m also on the third draft of a novel that I started back in 2013, inspired by the London riots of 2011.  Lord knows when all these things will be finished.  I turn up to write everyday but still I take a long, long time to get it done.  

Brilliant. Thanks!
Finally, is there anything you would like to say to your readers or just in general?

You’re awesome!

Great!

To learn more about the great Mark Gillespie, please click the following links:
His website
His twitter account
His amazon author page

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Tag: Seven Deadly Sins of Reading

I have been tagged to do this by the lovely Brittney over at Brittneys Book Nook.

Thanks, Brittney! This looks really fun!

Defined as: An intense and selfish desire for something.

 What is your most expensive book?

Probably the Riverside Chaucer which cost me about £30? ‘The Wife of Bath’ was on my A Level English Literature syllabus and I enjoyed it so much I went out and got the Riverside Chaucer.

Defined as: Extreme anger.

 What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

Hmm. This is difficult! Either Michael Cargill because his writing is amazing but he makes the events seem too real and they’re upsetting, or David Stainforth because I loved the Fuel to the Fire trilogy but he has no current plans to extend the series

Defined as: Intense over-indulgence.

What book have you devoured over and over with no shame?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I adore this book.

Defined as: a reluctance to work or make an effort.

What book have you neglected to read due to laziness?

Okay, this will probably get lots of nasty comments but I have only read the first two books in the Game of Thrones series. They’re huge and they’re not a light read! I just can’t find it in me to dedicate the proper amount of time to the series. Sorry!

Defined as: satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

What book do you talk about most in order to sound like an intellectual reader?

This is difficult. Probably my edition of the Riverside Chaucer again. Maybe Milton’s Paradise Lost?

Defined as: a strong sexual desire.

What attributes do you find attractive in male characters?

I like a good sense of humour and wit. I hate sarcasm, though!

Defined as: a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.

What book would you most like to receive as a gift?

Right now, that would have to be Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. I adored To Kill A Mockingbird and cannot wait to read the sequel!

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I’m tagging:

 Spider’s Book Club

Secret Lives of Fiction Lovers

Romance Novels for the Beach

What are your seven answers?

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Thanks again, Brittney, for tagging me! This was great.

If anyone else wants to do the tag and I haven’t tagged you, let me know and I’ll add you in!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Movie/Book/TV Heroines

25a4c-toptentuesday[Hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish]

Top Ten Movie/Book/TV Heroines

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday has the choice of heroines from either books, movies or tv shows. I’ve decided to do a mixture of all three.

Merida from Brave

Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter series

Black Widow from The Avengers

Sarah Williams from Labyrinth

Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck It Ralph

Arya Stark from the Game of Thrones series

Lorne Simpkins from the Justice series

Davran from the Fuel to the Fire series

Michonne from The Walking Dead

Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter series

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So, that’s my list! It was really difficult to pick only ten!

Who would you have on your list? Let me know!

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Rant: I’m a name, not a number!

So, you’ve spent days/months/years writing a story that you MUST share with the world, and then it happens: you realise that all of those days spent slaving away at the computer, all the hours spent banging your head against the wall in frustration, are over. It’s done; you have finally finished.

Realising this, it’s time to put the final touches on it. You design a lovely cover (or hire someone to do it) and you make sure the writing is flawless. It is then time to send your book to your editor/beta readers. Finally, you get your story published, either by yourself or through a publisher. You book is now ready to share with the world.

Days go by and you realise that your book is not getting any recognition. You’ve not had any reviews yet. No one is talking about it. It’s like the story that you have lovingly created doesn’t exist. Then it hits you – you can find reviewers and tell them about your book!

So you start searching goodreads, Amazon, etc. Eventually, you find an email address, a private message feature or your search leads you to a blog. Finally, you could get the word out about your book. You can finally find out if all that time spent pouring your heart into this story was worth it.

However, you are now faced with a problem.

What do you say to these readers/reviewers/bloggers? Do you send a blanket email?

Maybe your email looks like this –

“Dear awesome blogger/reviewer,

I’ve written this book. Look how great it is! You should review it. Here’s a free copy to make sure you do!

Signed,
Author”

Or, do you spend the time getting to know the author? Do you comment on their blog? ‘Follow’ them for a while before asking? Have you taken the time to learn the bloggers name? Their review policy? What they like to read?

Maybe your email would then look like this –

“Hello -name-!

I’ve been following your blog (-blog name-) for a while now and in that time I’ve taken a look at your review policy and learned what you enjoy reading. Based on that, I would like to tell you about my book. I think you might enjoy it!

Here is the info:
-blurb/genre/page numbers-

I think your posts are very insightful and I love the honesty of your reviews. I would greatly appreciate a review, but if you’re busy or it doesn’t interest you, or you just don’t feel like writing a review, that is fine, too!

Thanks for taking the time to read this, -name-!

Best wishes,
-author-“

Which do you think is more likely to get a response? The email that has clearly been sent to hundreds of readers, or the email that is addressed directly to you?

Now I completely understand that for a lot of authors, writing is something they do in their free time – something that they don’t get much of when you factor in work, family life and personal commitments. That time is further reduced if they have to spend time interacting with readers and searching for names and review policies. Sometimes, it’s just not possible!

I also understand that reviewers are also reading in their free time. Personally, as I’m in my final year of university, I don’t have time to sleep, let alone read something that isn’t on the course reading lists! However, I try my best to keep on top of everything and to still post my reviews.

Taking both of these things into account, I’m asking that both readers and authors keep this in mind. A little respect goes a long way. It is also important to remember that a review is that readers personal opinion. What works for one reader may not work for another, so don’t take it personally!

There have been times when I have wanted to give up my blog and stop reviewing due to either authors/publishers sending me blanket emails about books that are in the genres that I specify that I won’t read, or due to the response I’ve had from authors when I’ve posted their review. I should specify that I’ve only had a few bad interactions with authors, though I do get a significant number of blanket emails each day. Some of these blanket emails don’t even say hello. They’re purely other reviews and the blurb – no interaction at all! It makes it really difficult to find the energy or willpower to respond to these emails, let alone read the books suggested!

However, I keep my blog running and continue to accept review requests because I like finding new authors and new books, and because occasionally, an author responds to my review. A simple Thank You message makes the hours spent reading the book worth it. I also love having the opportunity to interview these new authors or my fellow reviewers.

I’d also like to take the time to mention  this post that I read today by author Dylan Hearn, thanking all readers and reviewers, not just those that had read his books! It is posts like this that make readers want to pick up his books and take a chance on an author that they may not have heard of before. So, I’d like to thank Dylan for taking the time to write his post. I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s greatly appreciated!

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So, what do you think?

Readers, are you getting blanket emails? How do they make you feel?

Authors, do you take the time to get to know someone, or at least learn their name, before sending a review request? Do you think there’s a need?

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Review: ‘Under the Winter Sun’ by Carrigan Richards

Genre: Young Adult (YA) / Paranormal / Romance
Length: 350 pages (approx.)

This book is part of the Elemental Enchanters series.

I have awarded this book 4 stars.

Summary: When the previous battle leaves all of the Enchanters powerless and broken, Ava distances herself from everyone. Her closest friends have been kidnapped and she feels useless. All she can feel from Peter is guilt because he could not protect the coven so Ava learns to hide her emotions in order to keep her thoughts at bay. It’s taking more time than she expected for her strength and powers to return and she sinks deeper into a depression. Once Ava and her coven gain their powers back they start their journey to Caprington to defeat Havok and save their friends. She must choose her allegiance or risk losing everyone she loves.

Review:  I enjoyed reading this. What Ava had gone through in the first two books of the series doesn’t compare to what she faces here. It was interesting to see how the Enchanters dealt with the aftermath of the events in the second book and there was certainly a lot happening. The twists and turns and certain events left me feeling as confused as Ava and I greatly enjoyed the development in Ava’s love life. My only complaint would be that, while I understand that the author was leaving scope for further books, I would have liked the ending to have been developed a little more, as it felt like it ended a bit too abruptly for all the build up it had.

★★★★ – Exciting and fast-paced with lots of twists and turns. However, ending felt a little abrupt in my opinion.

Where to buy:
Amazon UK (Kindle)
Amazon UK (Paperback)
Amazon US (Kindle)
Amazon US (Paperback)

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Author Interview: Kathy Shuker

Kathy Shuker photoHello, Kathy! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed.

Before we start, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m an author of character-driven mysteries and have published two so far: ‘Deep Water, Thin Ice’ – set in Devon – and ‘Silent Faces, Painted Ghosts’ – set in Provence. They aren’t crime or ‘whodunnit’ books but they do have an element of suspense and intrigue in them. Originally I trained as a physiotherapist, then a back injury forced a career change and I worked as a freelance artist for a number of years. Now I still maintain my interest in art as well as a love of music and languages. I play (badly) the guitar, octave mandola and fiddle and of course I love reading.

Brilliant, thanks!
So, what has been your favourite thing to write so far?
It’s impossible to choose! I love whatever I’m working on at the time – even though the early drafts often seem shapeless and I wonder when – and if – it’ll all come together.

What advice would you give to other authors?
Write what you want to write. There’s a lot of pressure out there to write in a certain way or for a particular market. I found out when I was painting professionally that if you don’t follow your own star and see where it leads you end up with weak, emotionless work.

Brilliant advice!
Who has been your biggest supporter(s)?

Lots of people have been wonderful – even people I have never met – but it’s my husband who’s had to cope with all the ‘I can’t write’ days! Poor guy.

Is there anything you regret about becoming an author?
That I didn’t start sooner, but hopefully the life experience has informed and improved the work.

Are there any authors or books that you feel have particularly influenced you?
It’s hard to say how much I’ve been influenced but I particularly like the writing of John le Carré – wonderful characterisation with no wasted words – and I loved ‘The Go-Between’ by L.P.Hartley and ‘Snow Falling on Cedars’ by David Gutterson.

Can I ask, if you don’t mind, what you’re currently working on?
I’m writing another mystery, set in Cornwall: a divorced woman returns to the village in which she grew up, married and had her children and where her nine-year-old daughter disappeared six years previously. She thinks she’ll be able to put it behind her but the mystery of that disappearance comes back to haunt her.

Sounds interesting!
Finally, is there anything you want to say to your readers or just in general?

I’d like say thank you for taking a chance on an unknown writer and for taking the trouble to give feedback. To be told that someone stayed up till the early hours reading your book is just the most wonderful feeling.

Brilliant. Thanks, Kathy!

To learn more about the wonderful Kathy Shuker, please visit the following links:
Her Website
Her Facebook page
Her Amazon author page