StatCounter

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Paul McDermott Talks Weather in Books


This week we’re going to find out a little about author Paul McDermott. November’s theme is ‘Weather as Setting’ so Paul will share his thoughts on this plus share a little about himself and his writing.

Born in the Year of the Tiger, Paul’s natural curiosity combined with the deep-seated feline need to roam has meant that over the years he’s never been able to call any one place home. His wanderlust has led him from one town to another, and even from one country to another.
“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write - my father claims to possess a story I wrote when I was six, which filled 4 standard school exercise books! What I do remember from that time was being told off for doing the Liverpool Echo crossword before he got home from work!”
While Paul was living in Denmark, he allowed himself to be persuaded to write for a purpose instead of purely for his own amusement. Perhaps it was the catalyst of breathing the same air as Hans Christian Andersen. Paul’s IT guru (aka his talented daughter) has recently constructed a website for him. Paul frequently lurks at:  www.thewriterschatroom.com  (Sundays & Wednesdays)

Beverley: Do you think using weather can be part of a setting?
Paul: I’ve always preferred ‘The Great Outdoors’ – probably starting when I lied my way into the local Cub Scout pack @ 6 years of age. There was no such thing as ‘Beavers’ at the time, you were supposed to be 7 to join the Cubs. By the time they found out, I’d already earned several Merit Badges, so they couldn’t “throw me out”    I’m no longer ‘active’ but I’m a BP Guild member and try to make the annual summer Meet, which is usually in cabins rather than tents.           Long (typical!) preamble: now for the question itself! Yes, for me weather settings are an important background detail in many of my stories. The old guideline “write what you know about” holds good. You can create the atmosphere you want the reader to experience.
Beverley: Do you think adding weather to a scene can add emphasis to the scene?
Paul: One of my books (due to be published early 2018) starts with a description of the main character battling his way through a storm, seeking sanctuary. Another WiP  is based on Climate Change (and how we might have an outside chance of saving ourselves and our planet).
Beverley:  Can weather add to the emotional contact with a reader?
Paul: Looking back on the above I seem to have answered this question already but I’ll expand my thoughts. The brief answer, as you’ll have guessed, is most definitely Yes! If I write (for example) about a camping trip, I try to ensure that a City kid who’s likely to starve to death in a wood filled with apple trees and bramble bushes because he doesn’t recognise food if it doesn’t come shrunk-wrapped from Walmart will get a ‘feel’ for Nature. I don’t suppose for one moment that any of us would try to begin a work with the infamous phrase: “It was a dark and stormy night ….” but weather conditions such as storms instantly create a tension which will (hopefully) engage the reader, draw them in and get them ‘hooked’ into the drama as it unfolds. At the same time, you’re reaching out to the reader, working on their emotions.
Beverley: Do you know any authors who use weather in their books?
Paul: It might be easier to list successful writers who DON’T use weather conditions as part and parcel of their ‘stock in trade’. At this time of year, when Horror writing is highlighted, certain names are automatically on everyone’s lips. Steven King has to be top of MY list – think of the minimalist casting of “Misery” and how significant the Weather and the immediate location becomes. Shakespeare, Bram Stoker, Tolkien …the list goes on and on. In a lighter vein, the illogical ‘weather patterns’ in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books are hilarious. There are also fantastic cinema moments, such as the final shot in “Return to the Planet of the Apes” when the almost-completely buried Statue of Liberty shows (without need for dialogue) how much time has passed since the returning adventurers left home …
Beverley: Have you ever used weather as a setting in any of your books?  If yes, tell us how.
Paul: I’ve used weather and environmental descriptive passages in most of my work, both published and those still patiently waiting their turn. The one I would most like to see published has a central theme of Global Warming & Climate Change. It’s intended as a ‘wake-up call’ to do something about our mistreatment of the only planet we’ve got. Working title:  “Taking the Heat”  Watch this space!
Beverley:  Anything else you’d like to add about the use of weather in a book?
Paul: Other thoughts about use of weather.  “Fair is foul, and foul is fair …” quoth The Bard. We might think of heavy rain as ‘bad’ weather – try telling that to an African tribesman who hasn’t seen rain to grow his food crops in the last three or four years. One man’s meat, another man’s poison. Take nothing for granted, least of all the weather. “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it” – possibly a quote from Mark Twain, or one of his friends.
Beverley: Which genre or genres do you write or prefer to write?
Paul:  I’ve always been of an imaginative turn of mind, so most definitely fantasy in one form or another I’ve flexed my wings in a number of different writing genre and I still get a kick from booting up my laptop and then deciding (usually with the careful application of the day’s Second mug of Hot Lava Java #6 strength coffee) which WiP I most fancy working on today. My ‘Defence against the Dark Arts’ aka “Writer’s Block” is to have a minimum of 6 – 7 pieces “on the bubble” at any given time. Ideally they should ALL be of different genre. If I hit the proverbial ‘brick wall’ with one of them I’ll turn to another until my Muse stops sulking and returns to the stables … I’ve never attempted to write a Western – I haven’t got the ‘hands on’ experience I think a good Western writer would need. And from a personal choice (not solely on grounds of faith or religion) I don’t “do” Smut/Porn/Erotica or whatever fancy title you want to dress it up in. It’s the Literary equivalent of the Emperor’s New Clothes / the Elephant in the Room. We all know it’s there, but nobody wants to talk about it
Beverley: What prompted you to write in the genre/s you do?
Paul: Right now I’m working on 4 different WiPs in 4 different genre. Stepping back a moment and looking at what I’ve had published to date is probably as good a summary as I’ll get.                [1] Books for children, Prompted by a long & varied teaching career, I wanted to provide something which would encourage children to leave their PS 4 (PS5, PS7, PS99 …) and pick up a BOOK instead. I was ‘having a rant’ in a school Staffroom re the indifferent quality of books available for children, when my Head of Dept said: “Well, if you think YOU can do better …” That was all the challenge I needed. Six months later a limited edition (300 copies) were printed and I sold them ALL in the space of about a month. More childrens’ books are now in print & in the pipeline!  [2] Adult work. First in this category was a book based on research into my family history. Fiction, but based on Real people & events, intended as a ‘Family Saga’ historical (planned as a Trilogy). The publisher decided to market it as a Romance, which surprised me, but it’s done well so far. I’ve almost completed Vol. 2. Also available:  a mediæval thriller (12th C. plague epidemic, England) and coming soon 11th C. Fantasy adventure about a troubadour with a magic lute (both these have ‘spawned’ sequels which are amongst current WiPs). And finally, another genre: WW2 ‘sub hunt’. A (very lightly) fictionalised account of the sinking of U-534 in the final days of WW2 and the mystery surrounding her secret mission. Title: “The Spear of Destiny”, it raises almost as many questions as it attempts to answer. This was my most recent publication (June 2017) and sales are starting to take off. I had a personal reason for writing this book. I had the extraordinary privilege of meeting a number of very brave elderly men, who were once active in the Danish Resistance Movement or Modstanderbevæggelsen. Their story is almost unknown, and they have earned due recognition and respect. Obviously the names had to be changed. Therefore, this is a tribute to you, gentlemen.  De ved, hvem De er (“They know who they are”)         [This loses something in translation, unfortunately]
Beverley: I’d love to hear what you think of the present genres, how they’ve been affected by self-publishing and where you think they might be headed.
Paul: I try to read something ‘outside my comfort zone’ for every book I choose purely for my own tastes. There’s an amazing range of talented writers here in Liverpool, which as we all know IS the Cultural Centre of the Known Universe. I usually look through the dedicated ‘local writers’ shelf at the bookstore and find something there.     *RANT WARNING*   Yes, we still have Bookshops!! Do NOT under any circumstances give in to the easy (cut-price) option of buying Books in a SUPERMARKET!!!    Rant over …  pass me my coffee …!
I’ve been told (though I can’t find any hard corroborating evidence) that Westerns are making something of a comeback. As they’re my 94-y-o Pop’s favourite form of TV entertainment I’m a bit sad I don’t feel able to write one – though I’m toying with the idea of a farmer battling rustlers on his SHEEP farm in the hills of Wales 😊. If I set it in West Wales, I suppose it would be a ‘sort of’ Western …                                                                                                            Other genre. Some seem to be trending towards extremes – every horror HAS to be more gruesome than the last, ditto sex and violence. I’d settle for Utopia rather than Dystopia any day but bliss, harmony and an idyllic existence isn’t likely to sell too many books. Humour can be difficult to get right, unless you’re as gifted as Terry Pratchett or similar masters of the subject. At the moment I’m enjoying the simplicity of writing stories for children, in which it doesn’t matter too much if your imagination suddenly takes a side-step into nonsensical fantasy. There’s something of Peter Pan in me: I never want to grow up!                                                                        
Self-publishing has its merits if you know you’ve got a good product, but I can’t see it having a major influence on genre in general. I believe an experienced Literary Agent who can channel your work to a Publisher with a good track record for a specific type of book will always have an advantage.
Beverley: How long have you been writing?
Paul: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. It used to drive my father to distraction to come home from work and discover his 6-y-o son had (once again!) solved the crossword puzzle in our local newspaper before he got his hands on it! As far as published work goes – not counting the 4 bulging scrapbooks of (generally angry) Letters to the Editor clipped from a range of newspapers – that had to wait until I completed my teaching career and got myself a ‘proper job’ writing Full Time. The “Staffroom Challenge” I mentioned earlier on was the catalyst, I guess. I haven’t stopped since. I can honestly say, I’ve never in my life been so busy as I’ve been since retiring!
Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?
Paul: Influences. Not an easy one to answer. I think, if I didn’t write the only alternative would be to go mad. When you read something powerful, something with pzazz, something memorable, you think: “I wish I could write like that!” Then, if you’re like me, you sit down and have a go. It won’t always work, but when it does …!!!! Wow! One of my greatest influences was an elderly, very modest Jesuit priest who taught me at Liverpool Uni. A real polyglot, he wasn’t entirely sure how many languages he had at his fingertips, but he was native-fluent in ALL of them. It was his example which encouraged me to build on my schoolboy French, and I’m native-fluent in all the main European languages. One of my books is set in Ireland. I recently decided I’d be able to do this far better if tá mé ag foghlaim Gaeilge (I’m learning Gælic) became my new aim.
Beverley: What obstacles did you have to overcome to begin creating your work?
Paul:  Obstacles: when will someone invent the 25-hour day? I could use a few of them …
Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?
Paul: Creative juices (flowing/ebbing) are like the tide. This is why I’m not happy unless I have at least 5-6 (preferably more) WiPs ‘on the back burner’ so I can always switch horses if one refuses the next hurdle. As a result, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a full Stop. A day when I write less than 1000 words I generally chalk off as a wasted (or “skiving”) day. How I hate “that” song by Bruno Mars!!
Beverley: What will stop your creative muse the quickest?
Paul: Discovering I’ve painted myself into a corner and I have to backtrack about four chapters…
Beverley: What do you have for breakfast?
Paul: Breakfast is easy. Since as far back as I can recall, TWO Weetabix (milk + sugar): and Don’t speak to me until I’ve had my second cup of coffee (Garfield poster over my writing desk)
Beverley: What do you wear when you are writing?
Paul: “ … and a T-shirt that seemed clean …”     (can’t remember the singer!)                             No need for the ‘new shoes’ which seem to be the main drive of that song. There’s always a lyric hiding somewhere. Another Liverpool writer (and a good friend) has written a series of Police stories using Beatles songs as his book titles. I often ‘hear’ music while I’m writing. If I’m fast enough to transpose it, I occasionally get a song out of it even if I didn’t sit down intending to write music. One of my children’s’ books is now roughed out as the Libretto for a Rock Opera which I hope will be performed by (and for) a teenage/YA audience. I own a formal Dinner Suit (School/Uni Reunion Dinners is about the only time it comes out of the wardrobe) but trousers (not denims) and an appropriate T-shirt is my usual dress (or ‘kip’ as it’s known in Scouseland).
Beverley: Where do you do most of your writing?
Paul: Where I write. This is my ‘gift’ to anyone, free and gratis! I’m a miserly curmudgeon by nature, so I opted NOT to pay the (relatively minimal) excess for a landline when I moved into my apartment. This would have given me access to ’Internet and all the research data on the WobblyWeb. It would also have led me astray, rambling away all over the world when I could be writing. For e-mail and research, there’s a perfectly good Internet server in our Common Lounge two minutes’ walk from my flat, so I take a trip once or twice a day over there if I need to check something. I can also log on at night when the rest of the house sleeps, so I’m often to be found lurking on http://writerschatroom.sallyfranklinchristie.com (Sundays & Wednesdays). There are a number of well-kept open green spaces close at hand, and I’m just as likely to sit out somewhere with a notepad, several pens (different colour inks) and a cold beer if the weather tempts me. Not a fan of running a laptop on its battery – the old ways are sometimes the best! 
Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?
Paul: Hergé’s Tintin, in the original French version “S’il vous plaît!” (I’ve seen a few cringingly atrocious English translations!). He’s the eternal young sprog newspaper reporter I always wanted to be – the Head Teacher of my Alma Mater thought teaching was a better option 
Beverley: Who would you love most to meet 'in person' and why?
Paul: Turlough O’Carolan [1670-1738] Blind Irish harpist composer. Employed by one of my ancestors, the last King of Tara (Ireland). He left an amazing repertoire of some of the most beautiful (and difficult to play!) music you’ll ever hear.
Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?
Paul: There’s a pub called “The Thatched House” in the middle of McDermott country (Co. Roscommon, Ireland) where the Guinness tastes like liquid velvet and Mine Host behind the bar will smile and say “Welcome Home, Paul
Beverley: What are you working on now?
Paul: Gearing up for the annual lemming-run aka NaNoWriMo (for which I can boast of a perfect ‘strike record’, 10/10 so far!). I have 3 WiP’s almost finished. One of these is the Global Warming/Climate Change work I mentioned in an earlier comment, working title “Taking the Heat”. I’m fine-tuning this while I wait for a response to the Synopsis & Sample I’ve subbed to a Publisher. I’m also working on a series of childrens’ books, stand-alone stories each set in one of Liverpool’s eight beautiful public gardens.
STOP PRESS! As I write, an e-mail has just landed in my Inbox. Rehearsals will start tomorrow (it’s after midnight: make that TODAY!), for a play about one of Liverpool’s historic streets, Bold Street, Script written by Yours Truly   

Blurb for The Spear of Destiny:
In 1945, U-boat Kapitän Herbert Nollau must deliver a weapon which will turn the war in Germany’s favour. His orders are delivered verbally. There will be no written records... and no witnesses.
Alone, far from home, hunted by the Danish Resistance and the might of the Allied Forces, he must obey either his final Orders…or the inner voice of his conscience.

Excerpt for The Spear of Destiny:
      Überlojtnant Herbert Nollau stood with his Zeiss nightglasses glued to his eyes, impervious to the rain whipped across his cheeks by half a gale. This howled almost exactly at ninety degrees to the tide, which had just reached the full but had not yet begun its retreat. His command craft, U-534, sat uneasily at anchor, dipping at bow and stern in the current, yawing appreciably as frequent Force Ten gusts buffeted her broad flanks. Low, heavy rainclouds hunkered closer, seeming to settle on the upper branches of the natural pine forest which spread untamed, unculled, across the low hills of Schleswig-Holstein.
      An identical pair of black Opel staff cars bracketed a canvas bodied Mercedes half-track transport wagon, all three vehicles picking their way carefully along an unmarked country road. The headlights were taped down to the size and shape of a feral cat's vertical slits, acknowledging the strict rules governing all traffic during the hours of darkness. The road to the harbour just outside Lübeck was neither tarmac’ed nor enhanced with any form of lighting. The drivers were obliged to steer cautiously around every twist, using the gears and brakes more frequently than the accelerator.
     "Amateurs!" he thought to himself, as the three sets of headlights crawled slowly closer.
     He blanked the thought as soon as it intruded on his consciousness, forcing himself back into State-approved Wehrmacht thinking, based on purely practical matters directly related to carrying out current instructions, with maximum efficiency, without question. He pulled the collar of his oilskins closer around his throat in a futile attempt to prevent the rain from seeping through, soaking his uniform. Raising his night glasses once more, he cursed the weather, the Wehrmacht and the world in general, feeling more exposed and vulnerable with every minute that passed as he waited for the convoy of lights to crawl closer, carrying the equipment which he had been ordered to collect. It bothered him that he was expected to set sail immediately, and await orders concerning his destination by radio once he had cleared the bay and entered Store Bælt: technically, that section of the North Sea was neutral Danish waters, and if he were to remain on the surface for any length of time in order to receive orders …
      As the lights snaked around another pair of curves and began their final descent to the shoreline and the jetty where U534 was waiting, Herbert Nollau realized that he had on board a much more powerful sender/receiver than any other U-boat: in fact, not just one but two radios equipped with the Enigma cryptographic programme had been installed, ostensibly for testing. With a sudden jolt, the deceptively young-looking Überlojtnant realized that this technology was far more sophisticated than that which had previously been regarded as the best in the world: apart from being guaranteed unbreakable as a code, it could also send and receive radio signals without his craft needing to surface.

Buy Links:
Publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/component/virtuemart/historical-fiction/the-spear-of-destiny-detail?Itemid=0
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZKRH5K/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/718491

You can find Paul at:
Website: www.paulmcdermottbooks.webs.com
www.thewriterschatroom.com

Don’t forget to check back next week for another author interview and discussion of weather in books. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Weather as a Setting With Toni Sweeney

This week we’re going to find out a little about author Toni Sweeney. November’s theme is ‘Weather as Setting’ so Toni share her thoughts on this plus share a little about herself and her writing.

Toni V. Sweeney has lived 30 years in the South, a score in the Middle West, and a decade on the Pacific Coast and now she’s trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art and a diploma in Graphic Art and also produces book videos. Since the publication of her first novel in 1989, Toni divides her time between writing SF/Fantasy under her own name and romances under her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone. Her novels have garnered awards from The National Writers Association, Preditors & Editors, The Maryland Writers Association, and The Paranormal Romance Guild. In March, 2013, she became publicity manager for Class Act Books. She is also on the review staff of the New York Journal of Books and the Paranormal Romance Guild.  Recently she was named a professional reader by netgalley.com.
Beverley: Do you think using weather can be part of a setting?
Toni: Most assuredly. Using weather to reflect a character’s mood, or to foretell an event or underscore it has always been a good facet of an author’s craft. As an example, my excerpt today  (below) is set in the middle of a Nebraska winter, which can be about as brutal as can be. It depicts a man riding from his ranch to Lincoln 25 miles away, to fetch a doctor, and I think the cold, bleak snow depicts the desperation of his ride.
Beverley: Do you think adding weather to a scene can add emphasis to the scene?
Toni: Certainly. In Jericho Road, I used this idea during the funeral of one of the main characters who is killed:
It should have been raining, the heavens in tears, the skies black, mourning Wade. Not just because he was her brother but because a good man had been lost. Instead, the sun beat down brightly, scorching everything, wilting them in their funeral clothes and making the flowers dry and brittle, until Lindsey felt that if anyone touched her, she, like the dying flowers, would shatter and fall.
Beverley: Do you know any authors who use weather in their books?
Toni: Thinking back, I remember Emily Bronte used weather in her novels, especially in Wuthering Heights. I think she even has the narrator comment on the title as having something to do with the weather: “Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff's dwelling. 'Wuthering' being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather. Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed: one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun. Happily, the architect had foresight to build it strong: the narrow windows are deeply set in the wall, and the corners defended with large jutting stones.” 
Herman Melville has Moby Dick begin by Ishmael stating that when it becomes winter and it feels the same way in his soul, he signs on to go sailing: “Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”
Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven” uses quite plainly the time of year as the setting: “Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December, And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.”
Beverley: Have you ever used weather as a setting in any of your books?  If yes, tell us how.
Toni: I’ve used weather in almost all my novels as a portrayer of the character’s mental and emotional stability at that particular moment.
My novel Barbarian Blood Royal starts off with one of the main characters standing on a cliff in winter:
Val One Eye stood upon the high precipice under which the wolves’ fortress was carved out of the mountain. The spring wind, sharp with the lingering bite of frost, blew about him but he didn’t feel its chill. The long-sleeved woolen shirt woven by one of his women kept the cold from touching him, as did the leather tunic he wore over it.
Beverley: Which genre or genres do you write or prefer to write?
Toni I’ve always been of an imaginative turn of mind, so most definitely fantasy in one form or another
Beverley: What prompted you to write in the genre/s you do?
Toni: That imaginative turn of mind. I love the fantastical, whether it’s scifi, a la Star Trek or space opera per Star Wars, or Horror via some vampiric tale, or simply what most people consider fantasy, a tale of wizards and magic.
Beverley: What genres do you enjoy reading?
Toni: I’m pretty omni-generic (is that a word?)  I like mysteries and thrillers, soft core SF, fantasy, horror, historicals, all with a touch of romance.
Beverley: I’d love to hear what you think of the present genres, how they’ve been affected by self-publishing and where you think they might be headed.
Toni: I’ve no problem with any of the genres but I’ve some very definite opinions on self-publishing and there’s so strong I think I should err on the side of caution and not mention them.  I will say that, in spite of what all those vanity presses state, not every one can write a novel. Self-publishing is going to prevent some very good writers from ever becoming known.
Beverley: How long have you been writing?
Toni: Though I started composing stories and writing them down when I was seven, my first written piece was published in 1963, while I was in college. I guess that qualified me as having been an author since the age of 20.
Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?
Toni: My seventh grade teacher, Lucille Comer encouraged everyone in our class to write stories that we’d then read aloud.  I wrote enthusiastically because that was the first time my stories weren’t ridiculed and the other students didn’t tease me about writing them as my family did.  
Beverley: What obstacles did you have to overcome to begin creating your work?
Toni: Showing my writing to anyone.  As I said, I was so teased by my family who ridiculed what I wrote that I was embarrassed to show anyone I’d written to anyone because I expected them to be sarcastic about it.
Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?
Toni: Anything.  I can see a painting or hear a descriptive phrase, and I’m off and running on a creative tangent.
Beverley: What will stop your creative muse the quickest?
Toni: An emotional jolt.  I was in the middle of writing a novel when I received a phone call that a friend had committed suicide.  The caller didn’t mince words but simply blurted out that she was dead.  It took me a very long time to get back to finishing the story because all the time I worked on it, I remembered that interrupting phone call.
Beverley: What do you have for breakfast?
Toni: A cup of decaf coffee.  Occasionally, it’ll be accompanied with a plain doughnut or perhaps a thickly-buttered piece of toast.
Beverley: What do you wear when you are writing?
Toni: I usually dress “writer casual”…a caftan and sandals.
Beverley: Where do you do most of your writing?
Toni: I have my desk set up next to a large picture window where I get plenty of sunlight and can look out and enjoy the scenery occasionally. The window sill is also filled with plants so when I want to take a break, I potter around watering and tending my “garden.”
My computer desk is also near my bookcases so I have reference books and anything else I need at hand.
Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?
Toni: I love Shrek’s friend Puss in Boots. I have the DVD and have watched it numerous times. I also have Puss in Boots and the Three Diablos but the Shrek movies he’s featured in are my favorite.
Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?
Toni: I’d probably go to a movie or read a book which sounds like a busman’s holiday, doesn’t it?
Beverley: What are you working on now?
Toni: I’m currently toying with a Southern gothic novel which doesn’t even have a title yet. The folder heading simply says “Book”.  I say “toying” because I no idea where it’s going to go and am just putting words on paper kind of aimlessly at present.  It’ll probably come out under my pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone, since it’s set in the South.

Blurb for The Man from Tippeeary (Book 3 of The McCoys series): Paraig McCoy is the Bad Boy of the McCoy family. 
Up to now, his father’s money has gotten him out of scrapes …until the day Paraig  commits one offence too many and finds himself a remittance man, paid by his father to leave home and never return.
Still in shock, the young exile finds himself on a boat to America where he comes to rest in the Nebraska Great Plains. Knowing nothing about cows doesn’t stop Padraig from hiring on as a ranch hand, however, and on a trail drive to Sedalia, Fate steps in and changes his life forever. 
It takes a few years, but, thanks to a cattle stampede, an influenza epidemic, and a determined young woman arriving on a Wells Fargo stage,  the ne’er-do-well from Tipperary is about to become the man he should be.
As civil war looms and nobles turn against each other, Riven will risk everything he holds dear when he makes a choice between following a madman or being declared traitor to the land he loves.

Excerpt from The Man from Tippeeary (Book 3 of The McCoys series):
    Padraig pulled his hat from his head, looking up at the sun. It was still early morning and the snow was bright and near-blinding. He should be wearing his eye protectors, but he’d forgotten them.
    Taking a deep breath, he said quietly, “Lord…I know my da think’s I’m a bad one, but I swear I’m tryin’ t’ be good. Maybe th’ people in Four Corners, an’ me’ own men, an’ Jacob’s li’l girl…maybe they’ll get well without me’ help, but then again, maybe they won’t. I’ve got t’ try…I’ve got t’ get t’ Lancaster an’ convince that doctor t come back with me. Even if he says Cookie’s doing exactly what he’d do, I’ve got t’ get his expert opinion. Will you please make this damned animal cooperate? I don’t think I can walk that distance…not in this snow…” Putting his hat back, he wiped his eyes, and said, “Amen,” and kicked the pinto in the ribs.
    To his surprise, the horse started up, picking its way at a smart trot through the snow.
    Padraig laughed, looked up again and said, “Much obliged,” and turned the animal’s head in the direction of Lancaster.

Buy Links:

 You can find Toni at:
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/tvsweeney
Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BLQBB8
MySpace: https://myspace.com/tvsweeney
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard
Twitter: @ToniVSweeney

Don’t forget to check back next week for another author interview. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Canadian Remembrance Day


Canadians recognize Remembrance Day, originally called Armistice Day, every 11 November at 11 a.m. It marks the end of hostilities during the First World War and an opportunity to recall all those who have served in the nation’s defence.
Armistice Day

Armistice Day was inaugurated in 1919 throughout much of the British Empire, but on the second Monday in November. In 1921, the Canadian Parliament passed an Armistice Day bill to observe ceremonies on the first Monday in the week of 11 November, but this combined the event with the Thanksgiving Day holiday. For much of the 1920s, Canadians observed the date with little public demonstration. Veterans and their families gathered in churches and around local memorials, but observances involved few other Canadians.

In 1928, some prominent citizens, many of them veterans, pushed for greater recognition and to separate the remembrance of wartime sacrifice from the Thanksgiving holiday. In 1931, the federal government decreed that the newly named Remembrance Day would be observed on 11 November and moved Thanksgiving Day to a different date. Remembrance Day would emphasize the memory of fallen soldiers instead of the political and military events leading to victory in the First World War.

Remembrance remained a day to honour the fallen, but traditional services also witnessed occasional calls to remember the horror of war and to embrace peace. Remembrance Day ceremonies were usually held at community cenotaphs and war memorials, or sometimes at schools or in other public places. Two minutes of silence, the playing of the Last Post, the recitation of In Flanders Fields, and the wearing of poppies quickly became associated with the ceremony.

The 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in 1995 marked a noticeable upsurge of public interest, which has not ebbed in recent years. It is now a national holiday for federal and many provincial government workers, and the largest ceremonies are attended in major cities by tens of thousands. The ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa is nationally televised, while most media outlets – including newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, and internet sources – run special features, interviews, or investigative reports on military history or remembrance-related themes.
Many people wear artificial poppies on their clothes in the weeks before Remembrance Day. Red poppies symbolize the memory of those who died and white poppies campaigns for non-military interventions in conflict situations. On November 11, special church services are organized. These often include the playing of "The Last Post", a reading of the fourth verse of the 'Ode of Remembrance' and two minutes silence at 11:00 (or 11am). After the service, wreaths are laid at local war memorials.

The official Canadian national ceremonies are held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario, according to a strict protocol. A service is held and wreaths are laid by armed services representatives. In May 2000 the remains of a Canadian soldier who died in France in World War I, but was never been identified, were laid in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial.
Since then, members of the public have laid poppies, letters and photographs on the tomb. Similar services and events are held throughout Canada. Some schools that are open on Remembrance Day hold special assemblies, lessons and presentations on armed conflicts and those who died in them.

IN FLANDERS FIELDS POEM
The World’s Most Famous WAR MEMORIAL POEM
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae




In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.               


We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!


Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields


Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Weather As a Setting by Ken Gordon


This week we’re going to find out a little about author Ken Gordon. November’s theme is ‘Weather as Setting’ so Ken will share his thoughts on this plus share a little about himself and his writing.

Kenneth Gordon grew up in Milford, NH and still lived in that state. When he isn’t writing scifi-infused horror novels, he plays PC games, electric and acoustic guitars, and drums. He also holds a brown belt in Kung Fu.
Beverley: Do you think using weather can be part of a setting?
Ken: Certainly, depending on the story. In some cases, weather can be a character itself.
Beverley: Do you know any authors who use weather in their books?
Ken: None come to mind, but it is a tool available for all writers.
Beverley: Have you ever used weather as a setting in any of your books?  If yes, tell us how.
Ken: I do not recall a time when I did, at least not for anything I have that was published.
Beverley: Which genre or genres do you write or prefer to write?
Ken: I write primarily sc-fi, yet within that framework, one can say anything, do anything, put any other genre within it.
Beverley: What prompted you to write in the genre/s you do?
Ken: I’ve always enjoyed Sci-Fi my entire life, it was a simple transition from watcher to writer.
Beverley: What genres do you enjoy reading?
Ken: The aforementioned sci-fi, of course. I also really enjoy fantasy.
Beverley: I’d love to hear what you think of the present genres, how they’ve been affected by self-publishing and where you think they might be headed.
Ken: I think the entire publishing industry has been affected, not just certain genres. It is certainly frowned upon, but self-publishing cannot be denied any longer by the industry. I’ve noticed hybrid shops popping up that are kinder to the self-publishing world, that is very likely where it is going. The best part about traditional publishing is that the author doesn’t have to shell out money, but finding the right house for your book can be very challenging.
Beverley: How long have you been writing?
Ken: Nearly 10 years for published titles, 24 years if you count collage writing, fanfic and short stories.
Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?
Ken: I may be unique in the world, but I have been more heavily influenced by episodic TV than by any book or author. In my case, I had a moment of inspiration which led to a story to tell. People who read it said it was good, so I threw my hat into the publishing ring.
Beverley: What obstacles did you have to overcome to begin creating your work?
Ken: Many times if I need help with certain aspects of a story, I have trouble getting that help. One book I wrote had an alien plague, so I called up the CDC to try to get some help. There likely was much laughing. I was finally able to get some help from an HIV doctor, but this is a definite obstacle. Many times I run out of ideas and have to set it aside for a while. Believe it or not, getting ideas for other books can be a terrible obstacle. You want to finish what you are working on, but you get inspired for something else and that is what you are drawn to.
Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?
Ken: Many times it will be a show I watch, or even a commercial for a dating service. It really can be anything.
Beverley: What will stop your creative muse the quickest?
Ken: Getting bored or blocked.
Beverley: What do you have for breakfast?
Ken: Usually cereal, English muffin, tea and oj.
Beverley: What do you wear when you are writing?
Ken: Nothing special, what I would normally wear for clothing: t-shirt, jeans or shorts
Beverley: Where do you do most of your writing?
Ken: At the computer.
Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?
Ken: I cannot say I have a favorite, there are many characters/shows I have enjoyed over the years: Force Five, Star Blazers, Scooby Do, Superfriends, He-Man, Dungeons and Dragons, and many others.
Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?
Ken: I could do some programming, writing, binge watch netflix, etc.
Beverley: What are you working on now?
Ken: Currently I’m working on a story about a 15 year old boy that is drafted into a space based branch of the military, serves a 20 year tour of duty, is taken back in time and put back into his 15 year old body. He has flashbacks of the things he did, but cannot reconcile the places he couldn’t possibly have been or all the things he couldn’t possibly have done. It is inspired by the life of Randy Kramer. One of the big adventures is being able to help the “Ant People” from Hopi legend remove their evil queen.

Blurb for Dirus Sonus (Terrible Sound):

On a warm summer night, Jack Wallace awoke with a start. A strange feeling led him outside into the eerie night. A very odd sound greeted his ears as soon as the screen door closed behind him with a click.
He heard the sounds of retching coming from every house on the block that had children.
Each bathroom window was illuminated as the sounds increased in volume, duration, and frequency. Jack proceeded to walk around the neighborhood. The road was illuminated by the streetlights as well as the faint glow coming from the houses. It wasn’t long before something else pierced the veil of the night. The wail of ambulance sirens and a whirl of red and white lights roared past him one after another.

This is only the beginning…
Excerpt for Dirus Sonus (Terrible Sound):
Walking briskly across the parking lot, he entered the building at the main entrance. The outside relative calm was instantly shattered by the tumult inside.
Doctors and staff were running about, phones were ringing, children were crying…it was sheer chaos. The waiting room was standing room only, even as the nurses’ station had a line snaking all the way down the hall and around the corner. Several times, he tried to stop one of the
doctors to get some answers, but each gave a hasty ‘No comment,’ and went about more important business. As he was backing up to get out of the way of a gurney plowing through, he accidently bumped into another doctor.
“Pardon me.”
The woman turned toward him, swore at him in Hindi and raised her arms in exasperation.
“Hey, I know you.” Jack realized.
Her eyes focused on him and some recognition was gained.
“Can I talk with you?” he asked.
“I am just coming off shift. Meet me please in the cafeteria, five minutes.”
Jack’s face brightened and he nodded. “Where is the cafeteria?” Jack inquired at the station.
No answer.
He asked again, louder this time.
Again nothing. This time he screamed it and finally received a response in the form of a finger pointing the opposite way. He cried, “Thank you,” but no one heard it.
Walked through Radiology and Physical Therapy, Jack found the sign. There was a large menu above a steel counter in the back of the room, a lady in white behind the counter ready to take orders. Tables were all arranged with plastic cloths, a coffee bar with fountain drinks, trash bins, and metal flatware in plastic bins added to the no-frills café.
Jack picked up a white Styrofoam cup and placed it under the coffee dispenser, pulled the handle down and let the blackish, brown liquid fill his cup. He released the handle, picked it up, and hastily took a sip.
As he spun around, he saw his neighbor walk in. Her eyes were brown with crow’s feet around them, and a half moon of black with baggy red underneath. She was dressed in pale green scrubs, her thick black hair pulled into a pony. She motioned for him to come to the table closest to the doorway.
Both sat down.
“Thank you for talking to me.”
“What can I do for you?” She rubbed her eyes and traced a path over the top of her head.
“How is your son?”
“Better. He is better.”
“It must have been a mad house last night…with all the people out there, you’d think it was an epidemic.”
“It might have been a full moon even if the calendar didn’t say so. No, people here now, they are scared. Heard on news. They want answers. Last night fairly quiet except for children on our block.”
“How many kids came in last night?”
“There was Ravi, Makey child, and Morgans’ two. Each presented with the dehydration. Ravi had worse than others. Touch and go, but he strong, and pull through. Makey boy still in treatment, Ravi now out of ICU. He come home tomorrow. Makey we release this afternoon. Others we release early this morning.”
“Do you know what caused this?”
 “No idea. Odd that they all came in at the same time with all same symptoms. We brought Ravi in, had to do early shift.”
“I was awake and went outside, saw the whole thing. It was very surreal.”
She eyed him curiously.
“Thank you for talking with me.” He took another sip of coffee and grimaced.
“Coffee very bad here.”
“I see that,” he commented, as he cleared his throat.
She raised a finger and pointed it straight at him, “You press man, right? You be cautious in your writing. Leave Ravi name out, leave out condition too. Don’t need circus at our house.”
Jack raised his hands as if a gun were pointed at him. “I’ll execute as much tact as I can.”
“If you do not, I sue you. We clear?”
“Yes, ma’am. Again, thank you for talking to me.” Jack rose and slipped out into the hallway, bypassing the crowds and exiting the building. He took in a deep breath to clear away whatever recycled air he had inhaled.
The humidity was such that any deep breathing felt like drinking a glass of water. The heavy, stagnant air was almost too thick to breathe. Jack coughed a little and cleared his throat again. He hoped this wasn’t the start of something else.

Buy Links:
Paperback from the publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/component/virtuemart/science-fiction/dirus-sonus-8262017-08-14-01-40-08-detail?Itemid=0
eBooks from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dirus-Sonus-Kenneth-Gordon-ebook/dp/B074T6BSGX/
 
You can find Ken at:
Web Site: http://kennethgordonnovelist.com/
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/KennethGordonNovelist/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KennethGordon69
Publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/index.php/our-authors/manufacturers/kenneth-gordon

Don’t forget to check back next week for another author interview and discussion of weather in books.