Toxic Beer by Simon Bullock – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Simon Bullock will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Unemployed computer engineer Sidney Ramsbottom inherits a small fortune from his late father’s business investments after he is found dead floating face down in a large vat of beer accompanied by two scantily-dressed Polish pole dancers and their three performing sheep Brittany, Lulu, and Michaela.

Before Sid has a chance to enjoy this unexpected windfall, however, he is abducted by a group of thieving alcoholic aliens who have been bumping and burping their way across the universe while on the run from the Intergalactic Police in a stolen spaceship.

Sid is left unconscious in the spaceship’s smelly cargo bay and left to rot while the aliens set forth to carry out their plans for the planet Earth.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Newly promoted, Harry now found himself with an additional problem. Before the chief had got himself shot, he’d explained the situation with the spaceship’s propulsion system, which was helpful, but not how to solve the problem, which was far from practical. Harry knew that they’d needed additional parts to fix it. Harry racked his brains for a suitable solution. He then did the only thing he could think of that would help by suggesting that they land on the nearest planet before the ship blew itself to pieces. Once he had explained the problem to his senior officer and the captain, Harry went ahead with their blessing and started searching for a habitable planet.

However, after searching for intelligent life and not having much luck, Harry was about to give up when one of his junior engineers, a chap called Chas, came running in one afternoon with some good news. ‘I found a planet that’s habitable, Harry.’ He could hardly keep the excitement out of his voice. However, Harry wasn’t convinced. ‘Where?’ ‘I checked the planets several times for intelligent life, and the computer came up blank every time.’

‘Look, Harry, I’m not messing you about.’ ‘It’s most definitely coming from the planet earth. You need to come and listen to it yourself if you don’t believe me.’

Harry followed his engineer to the ship’s main communication room to see all the fuss was about. The engineer was correct in his calculations, and the signal came from the earth. It overjoyed Harry when he heard the good news, realising that this would mean they could get the vital spare parts they needed to make for repairs, perhaps some alcohol. Harry rushed back to the ship’s bridge with the good news of his discovery. Dick was equally excited and informed the captain.

Harry suggested landing the spaceship on a small abandoned planetoid that orbited the planet earth.

About the Author: Simon, who works as a medical engineer, has had a lifelong passion for writing as well as a sci-fi comedy.

Toxic Beer has been a decade in the making but, as readers and critics alike attest, has been worth the wait. Simon’s zany, joke-rich and earthy storytelling will appeal to anyone who loves the likes of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide, the writing of Robert Rankin, as well as classic British TV sci-fi comedy, show Red Dwarf and the cult sci-fi comedy film Galaxy Quest.

With his first, critically acclaimed novel having gone down better with readers than a cool pint on a scorching day, Simon is now working on a follow-up to Toxic Beer–a prequel revealing the bleary-eyed aliens’ escapades during their extended inter-galactic booze cruise.

A hoopy frood who always knows where his towel is, Simon also plays blues harp in the rising Dutch blues band, BluesShack.

Originally from the UK, Simon currently lives in Utrecht, Netherlands, with his wife Chrissie and two cats. In his free time, he enjoys cooking and likes to brew homemade Beer with more kick than an Arcturian MegaDonkey.

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Listening to Your Editor, Listening to Yourself, Listening Out Loud by Lou Kemp – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lou Kemp will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner, a 2nd randomly drawn winner a mug and pen with the book image and a 3rd randomly drawn winner will win a eBook via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Listening to Your Editor, Listening to Yourself, Listening Out Loud

All views expressed below are either personal experiences or advice from other authors I trust. The worth of this information has been verified by a steady improvement in my writing and in the comments that I receive from readers. A review from an astute reader will also mention what isn’t working, and that is like gold.

If you are a beginning writer…

Avoid:

Run away if a friend or relative offers to critique your writing (of course after thanking them, and perhaps even telling them why). A critique by a parent or close friend will usually be tainted with:

a) pride in knowing you are a writer, protecting you from bad news, and withholding what they thought,
b) fear of telling you what they thought so as not to hurt your feelings,
c) they may see something that needs to be changed, but are not sure why, so they do not mention it.
d) all of the above

This situation will not propel your skills forward, it could even give you a false sense of security that will eventually be blown apart when you try to sell your work.

Covet:

Writing Groups and writers conferences, whether online or in person. There are many types, and like shoes you may need to try on a dozen till you find the one that is just right, not too advanced, or not too junior of a group, not too cold, or not too hot, but just right.

Once part of a writers’ group, don’t feel obligated to read your writing to them until you are ready. When you do, listen to the feedback. Beware there are some authors in the group who may not be a good match for your purposes. To decide, take all feedback in, digest it, and determine if it is valid. Example: if more than one critique complains about the way you use the word “anyhow,” then it is probably time to rethink how you use it. If you balk at a particular suggestion, get another unbiased opinion, and compare. If both say the same thing…time to change it.

When others in the group are reading their writing, listen to what works and what doesn’t and apply it to your writing (it doesn’t have to be the same genre—you’re looking for pacing, characterizations, skill, and more). You’ll hear kernels of ideas from other writers to water, and watch grow into something fantastic. Are their characters vivid and wonderful, but there isn’t a discernable plot? Does it sound like your cat wrote it? Is the plot stellar, and you can picture it as a movie someday?

Listen to yourself:

Decide if you are writing just for yourself, or to make money. If it is money and glory you want, you’ll need an editor eventually. This stage is sometimes known as beta reading, but that is a loose interpretation. Beta readers come in a variety of experience and are at times used to see if the work is on the right track, and at other times they occur right before the book debuts. Just like a writers’ group, one editor’s point of view will not be another editors. Case in point: In my Celwyn series I’ve heard complaints about how I use the character Bartholomew. I also hear feedback that he is not only loved but readers follow what he does and can’t wait for the next book. These are completely differing points of view, and I tend to take it somewhere in the middle.

Again, there are dozens of levels of editors with the prices to match. The amateur editor/friend will do initially, but…they are usually limited. Really good editors are not there to just correct your grammar (line editing), but to use their innate sense of what is missing, what is not moving fast, where the scene is not set up with enough detail, where you write something illogical or without any background to justify it (one of my habits), where the piece is going and how will you get there with it?

If you notice things still do not read like you think they should, or that much of your feedback points to problems, look for another editor, preferably one with a good track record and who does it professionally. There are also writing classes, good ones, out there.

A final word about editors: I know of no one, big or small, who snagged a great literary agent without having their work edited by a professional.

Two tricks:

One, when you have finished a section or major part of your writing, let it sit at least 2 weeks without looking at it. Then, read it. You will see much you didn’t before because we subconsciously memorize what we write and think it is wonderful. It isn’t.

Two, ask someone (now is the time for a friend or relative) to read your writing out loud while you are sitting there. You will hear plenty you didn’t see when you edited it yourself.

Quotes:

A great quote can set the tone, explain life, scare the beejeebers out of a reader, or up the tension until the reader swears it is dripping off the walls. One of my favorites, just to explain life, that I have given Celwyn is:

“Xiau, I’d miss Earl Grey very much if I died.” This is usually repeated by someone every time he is wounded, and almost dies.

As the music dies, the magician Celwyn is mortally wounded. His darker, immortal brother Pelaez brings him back, barely, with his magic. The party of protagonists travel on the Nautilus to the Cape Verde Islands and the healer of immortals. During the journey, Professor Kang and Bartholomew can not tell if Pelaez will keep his brother alive. Captain Nemo is ready to evict Pelaez forcibly, and keeping Celwyn alive is the only thing that restrains him.

After Celwyn is saved, the healer requests payment for his services. This sends the adventurers to the catacombs in Capuchin where their experience is one they will not forget. Before it is over, several of the protagonists question why it seems everyone from warlocks and vampires to witches, seem to be congregating in their world. Before it is over, some of them become surprising allies, and a few of their allies turn against them.

In part II, work on the new flying machine begins in earnest bringing attention from the Mafioso and a cherub-like warlock called Duncan. After a final battle with Duncan, the flying machine is destroyed and everyone at their compound is murdered by one of their own.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Prelude
The rolling hills near Odessa, north of Constantinople 1867

With each step he took, Professor Xiau Kang sensed the intensity, and importance of what he would find. Above all, he felt the weight of his sadness. He had done his best to ignore that there was no guarantee Captain Nemo had located Thales, if Nemo failed to find him, Jonas Celwyn would be dead within a matter of days, perhaps hours.

A long time ago, on the Zelda, the magician had doubted a mechanical man could feel. Kang paused, swaying on his feet as he fought to regain his control; at this moment, the automat knew real despair, a wrenching grief that they would lose Jonas. He swallowed hard and walked faster, climbing to the top of the berm.

There she was! The long black submarine lay still in the water. A single sailor stood on patrol, and another perched in the cage on top with a spyglass.

Kang called, “I’ll get Mr. Celwyn. Please let the Captain know we’re here.”

Conductor Smith joined him as they ran back to the coach. The others had seen them and began unloading the magician onto the stretcher that Kang had fashioned for this moment. He skidded to a stop and grabbed Celwyn’s hand.

“The Nautilus is here. It isn’t far.”

In the distance, a low hum reached them; the sound sputtered and grew stronger.

The magician’s eyes opened slowly, like a thread from his memory raised his lids, impelling him to look. Everyone, including Jonas, gazed upward, as if they had already known what was to come.

The noise grew louder, and then a bright yellow flying machine crested the low hills and headed toward the estuary.

“Yes!” Kang shouted, raising his fist in triumph.

The plane swerved to the north, banked, and then flew toward them again in a wide arc.

“Oh, my God, it’s Bartholomew,” Elizabeth exclaimed.

Bartholomew wore a broad smile and his scarf fluttered in the breeze as he sailed over them. He waved. As he banked again, the engine revved and he turned, descending for another pass. Celwyn raised himself onto an elbow to wave back.

“Hurry,” Kang said. “Bartholomew is going to land. We have to get Jonas onto the ship.”

About the AuthorEarly work was horror and suspense, later work morphed into a combination of magical realism, mystery and adventure painted with a horrific element as needed.

I’m one of those writers who doesn’t plan ahead, no outlines, no clue, and I sometimes write myself into a corner. Atmospheric music in the background helps. Black by Pearl Jam especially.
More information is available at LouKemp.com. I’d love to hear from you and what you think of Celwyn, Bartholomew, and Professor Xiau Kang.

Milestones:

2009 The anthology story Sherlock’s Opera appeared in Seattle Noir, edited by Curt Colbert, Akashic Books. Available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble online. Booklist published a favorable review of my contribution to the anthology.
2010 My story, In Memory of the Sibylline, was accepted into the best-selling MWA anthology Crimes by Moonlight, edited by Charlaine Harris. The immortal magician Celwyn makes his first appearance in print.
2018 The story, The Violins Played before Junstan is published in the MWA anthology Odd Partners, edited by Anne Perry. The Celwyn series begins.
Present The full length prequel, The Violins Played before Junstan, to the Celwyn book series is published on Kindle. The companion book, Farm Hall is also published where Pelaez, another immortal magician and Celwyn’s brother, makes his first appearance. The remaining books in the series: Music Shall Untune the Sky, The Raven and the Pig, The Pirate Danced and the Automat Died, will be available beginning in August 2021.

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What Would I Tell a New Author? by Phoenix Blackwood – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Phoenix Blackwood will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What Would I Tell a New Author?

While I’m kind of a new author myself, there’s some things that I would’ve liked to hear (and some that I did hear) that would’ve helped me get to where I am now, with a fully published book.

Believe in your story. Whatever you’re trying to accomplish by telling your story, believe that it’ll get there. It’s a difficult thing to do sometimes, but it’s worth it in the end to have a piece you can stand by and hope to put something good out into the world. My stories are about marginalized communities, my goal is to make people feel seen, have characters they can relate to, see themselves in a piece of media. Whatever your goal is, follow it through until the end.

Find someone enthusiastic about your work. I’m extremely lucky to have a couple friends and a publisher that all cheer on my work. You don’t need a whole group, just one person. Whether it’s a friend, critique partner, family member, or anyone else, find one person that sees the soul in your work. Someone that’ll urge you on when you don’t feel like your piece will make it. You’re going to have doubts, that’s normal. That’s the time when you need someone to turn to who can set you straight.

Be persistent. Getting published is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re going to get rejections, that doesn’t mean that your piece isn’t worth publishing. It just means that you haven’t found the right place for your piece yet. It’s going to take some time, years even, and that’s okay. Eventually, you’ll find the right match that will take your work and run with it. Maybe you just need to sit with your work a bit longer, put a few more touches on. I’ve had short stories rejected that then turned into full novels that were accepted elsewhere. Don’t give up on your work.

Keep writing. It doesn’t have to be constant, it doesn’t have to be a lot. People write at different paces, in different quantities. I personally shoot for a thousand words four or five days a week, but that’s because I have a work schedule that accommodates this. If you’re working five days a week, maybe you only have the energy to write a hundred words when you get home. Maybe you’ve got writer’s block and don’t write for a week, even a month. That’s okay. That’s more than okay, that’s the perfect pace for you. Just keep at it, don’t lose your spark for telling stories. Work out of that writer’s block, write those hundred words. In the end, no matter how long it takes, it’ll be beautiful and it’ll be yours.

At sixteen, Liz had already trudged through hell and back. Having bounced from one foster home to another most of her life, she finally finds herself in a stable home. But stability poses its own challenges after a life of unsteady fooling, and Liz grapples to find a way to be still. Her past still plagues her in this new world. Everything feels wrong, she is at odds with her own body and mind, and struggling to survive.

Liz finds an unlikely friend in Alex, a girl who may not share Liz’s troubled past but strives to understand, even though it means becoming a pariah at school. With Alex’s help, Liz searches for the strength to confront her demons, and the two see each other through addictions, transitions, and the dangerous consequences of coping.

Unable to let herself trust and love, even in this new space with new support, Liz’s trauma begins to drag her under. Some secrets kill, and some truths fight to stay hidden. Unearthing them all will require Liz to trust others despite a lifetime of learning just how dangerous that is.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Fluorescent lights flickered overhead, making me squint even more than usual to try and see everything going on around me. The air smelled of overripe fruit; just looking at the tables in the crowded classroom made me feel sticky. Trying to ignore the stares of students as I walked by them, I made my way to the back corner of the class and sat down. I started squirming in my seat due to the texture on the desk’s surface – it was like someone had spilled a cup of fruit juice and let it dry there. A few kids looked back at me and snickered. I was the new kid again, and fifth grade in this school would probably be just as ruthless, if not more so, than in the others.

About the Author:Born and raised in New England, Phoenix has always been a creative – whether it’s painting or writing. From a very young age, Phoenix has envisioned and created characters, writing them into existence and exploring them through visual arts. Having graduated to first-time short story author, Phoenix is embarking on a journey towards novel writing as they finally bring characters they’ve known for years into the world. Phoenix is neurodiverse and intersex and hopes to bring more representation to both topics with their writing. They believe in creating relatable characters that people can find themselves in and empathize with.

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Lady Wild Fowl by Ivana Hoxha – Spotlight and Giveaway

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Lady Wild Fowl is an unusual, self-developing story, that analyzes the deepest repressed feelings and emotions, narrated from the romantic mindset of a twenty-six years old lady, who has never had a man in her life.

Nicole has been raised in a society that teaches her nothing about the value of the woman and her feelings, and she leaves home to accept a job offer in China, where she meets Benjamin. In the messy, unpredictable, and, at the same time, exciting Shanghai, Nicole and Benjamin see life from another perspective. While Nicole is facing the lies on which she based her life, revealing secrets she had kept hidden, embracing all the new unknown feelings blooming in her heart; Benjamin has to face the loss of important relationships and fight not to lose himself along with them, as he discovers how stubborn and deep love can be.

Discovering other perceptions of life and love, facing the unknown feelings that come along with them, and fighting the patterns of the social definitions on relationships, will they be able to discover who they really are? And maybe, experience love on the way?

Enjoy an Excerpt

“We realize time after time, – I spoke to fill that deafening silence, – how small and powerless we are. When we think we have it all figured out, something happens to change everything we know. And we lose balance and we lose control, and there is nothing we can do, but surrender. And this is what hurts the most. Knowing that you would be able to do anything for that love, but seeing that the other person doesn’t have the same intention with you. And you realize that this is your battle only, because the feeling is only yours.”

I wiped a tear off my cheek because that period still hurt, and I got the pillow he handed me. This had become a ritual. It was our therapy session; his understanding and my healing.

“Oh my God, Nicole, – I saw his eyes were filled with tears as well, and I hated witnessing his vulnerability. – How can you find the words for everything?”

His hand was trembling as he put it above his heart. I had never wished to see him like that.

“Because I’ve felt it Gem,” – I had no courage to look him in the eye because I didn’t want to make him feel guilty, but it was true.

I knew it all because of him.

About the Author My name is Ivana and I am from Albania, but I am a citizen of the world. I have studied languages and literature, and I currently speak 5 languages.

3 years ago, I decided to move to China and I lived there until Covid started. After that, I transferred to Bali, where I lived for almost another year. Currently, I am traveling around Europe.

As you can see, I love traveling, and this is where I find my inspiration to write. I write about experiences, people I meet, and everything that impresses me. People become my characters, and places I live in, become the book’s environment because there is nothing more beautiful than finding meaning in the everyday life. I have combined my love for writing with my experiences and brought to life “Lady Wild Fowl” which is the book I am publishing right now in the women fiction genre.

I have also published two books in the Albanian language some years ago, titled “Nje mengjes ndryshe” (A Different Morning) and “Nen shiun e vjeshtes” (Under the Autumn Rain) both of them in the genre of teenage fiction.

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What I Would Tell a New Author by Seyoum Nigussie – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Seyoum Nigussie will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What I Would Tell a New Author

Everybody knows writing is not easy, and a new author is no different. But every author would have his or her mindset to accomplish something with writing and that mindset is the driving force for writing what you intend to write. When writing any genre of literature, there are prior considerations. The subject matter on what to write is the main consideration.
After identifying the story’s aim in question, identifying the extent of the story is the second consideration. At this stage, visualizing the story’s scope and dimensions is of vital importance. Once the scope of the story is determined, getting geared to writing begins. Once writing started, the nature of the story becomes to get shape. While writing, there will be moments of unease and doubts about the work underway.

A new writer should relax during the writing, and visualize more and more substances for the ideal subject story at hand. At some points, the writing becomes tiresome, and the flow of ideas from the brain onto the paper or screen gets stuck. But most of the time, the flow of ideas becomes natural and fluent. Adequately writing at the time of good flow of ideas is very crucial. When stuck somewhere down the road of writing, it is time to go back and refresh the story from the beginning. A new author should consider his or her work seriously and fondly. Working through and thoroughly, writing becomes so much more enjoyable. If there is no enjoyment in writing it will be futile for a new author to accomplish the desired goal.

World of Stars is a collection of poetry that portrays the beauties of nature and human experiences in the world. The poems enumerate various places, events, personas, notions and conditions that deserve poetic attention. A portion of the poems are made for tributes and gratitude to great personas who make this world as adorable as it is.

The poems are on varied topics and distinct from each other. Abstract and subjective ideas are woven into the poems to highlight the degree of transcendence. All the poems are metrical composition. By illustrating the good side of the world and nature within it, the poems aim to elevate people to a good way of looking at life as beautiful and meaningful.

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Stars Every Where

Countless heavenly stars rock in the cosmos
Glamorous stars walk the earth for good cause.
Every where they reach for social worth
Stars every where delight of human growth
Through infinite universe that exists forever
Up in skies brighter and on earth glimmer,
To mark human lives for better and better
Gracious they are, stars appear every where.
As mysterious universe is subtle and endless
There could be time for galaxies to impress.
Leading human world into new progress
Fathoms of spirit generate legends to redress.
As microcosmic creatures inhibit on earth
Star lights come forth to unleash sound health.
Striving and tackling renewal of ethical wealth
Invincible stars would show up for moral rebirth.
As fountain of all lives and blossom of love
Stars reinvigorate themselves further to live.
As images of dreams and homages to believe
Stars every where shine out cures to relieve.

About the Author The world and life in general was promising to me until I was 17 years in my native country of Ethiopia. While a high school student in 1974, the world around me came crashing down when communist military Junta took state power and soon started a killing spree, at times committing mass murder. This was very traumatizing and the start of Stalinist ‘Red Terror’ on the ground. It was bad enough to hate being in life. From this, I quickly learnt life in the world is about taking on adventures.

With six of my school friends and one of our teachers, we formed an alliance to take action against the Junta. With 2 years of preparation we had managed to inform the public and get the local police headquarters on our side. Then, in April 1976 we staged a rebellion without violence in Nekempte, provincial capital of Welega. The revolt was short-lived, nothing lost with little gain. Amidst media control of the Junta, the news of rebellion was heard across the country. After that, my friends and I vowed to individually take on challenges for democracy as a life-long mission. We split apart and I went underground. When the security situation became harsh, I left the country for Sudan.

Despite traumatizing news and the realities around me with the ‘Periods of Gloom and Doom’, I took refuge in reading classical poetry which became my long time passion.

After a long journey through ups and downs, I suffered a car accident in Sudan, and left Africa all together – migrating to Canada in 1990. Through my journey in life, I looked around for a drug of relief from grief and nostalgia. Poetry reading had become my choice for entertainment and to delete bad memories and traumas. Soon after I realized that positive poetry is as good as drugs, music and paintings are, I decided to write one and here I begin with World of Stars.

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My Take on Critique Groups by Tabitha Biel Luak – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Tabitha Biel Luak will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

My Take on Critique Groups

Knowing my mistakes and having a chance to improve on them before my work gets in the hand of the public is worth every fear I may have about someone in a group criticizing it. And that is my take on critique groups. But I understand there more than one way to look at critiques since difference experiences add up to different definitions. It is true that sometimes acknowledging that some area of one’s work needs more work may not feel as pleasant as someone’s applause on the work one has done. However, though the reward on their applause may be an immediate feeling of proudness about oneself, the reward on an improved work via the critique of a group is much more extensive. Therefore, I believe critique groups are essential.

Firstly, when someone work is criticized, it is like handing garden tools to a gardener. Writers are like gardeners and gardens are their minds. A garden may look promising by looking at the type of soil it has but just as its soil has greater potential of fertilization, anything which the gardener may not need can grow in the same soil. The mind of the writer is the garden; however, when it comes to growing one kind of plant, the gardener chooses what to grow in the garden, comes out of it, or how it will look like once it is out. Sometime the gardener lacks the tools to plow away other grasses she does not need to make her plant distinct and grow to its potential and that is when another gardener comes to rescue by giving her the tools she may have had and had worked for her in her gardening experience. In the same way, critique may sound harsh depending on how a person receive it but if the person can reverse how it sounds, the critique can only be a tool to improve one’s way of gardening. In other words, it can only enable an individual to look at their work and improve the lacking. There are always areas of improvements.

Secondly, critique can be informative. Sometime, some works look simply great because not a lot of work has been put to them. In other words, if a writer only ends up writing a shorter version of what he intended to, the writing part may look neat. However, when someone else points out areas of weaknesses, it may not only result in it being improved but expanded beyond its original length. Sometime writers need an outsider to look at what they have emotionally been involved in, and when they step out of how they have been viewing their work, and allow other opinions, their work may really change after all. The critique may only leave them desiring more than they may have thought they really need.

On the other hand, however, some people within a group may have the intention to bring down the work someone does leading to crashing the spirit of the person. At the end of the day however, nobody knows your work as a writer more than you do. Nobody knows the message you are trying to convey more than you do, and nobody knows your characters more than you do. People may help you with your character development, but it is up to you to have them reach their destination. You are the mastermind behind their actions. Being crashed by critique only prove you have more work to do. It is the writer choice to work on the areas which have been critically pointed out. The uncomfortable feeling that comes after knowing your work may lack something sucks but to have known that prior, that is the key to your work’s success.

This book is inspired by true events.

Chosen from among the mob of her boyfriend’s girlfriends, married in the most secure, respectful, and honourable way known to the people, Nyayang Jock, a girl born without a brother, won the race, defeating her top co-girlfriend, Sarah, by being the youngest over Sarah born with brothers. At the least, unlike ninety-nine percent of the girls of her generation and how they were married, it is safe for Nyayang to say she was married for love to Chuol Malual, a businessman who was born into a big, rich family.

Nonetheless, unlike the expectation of her in-laws, the unattended attitude of the nature secretly stabbed Nyayang in the back, leaving her to fail and creating the family Chuol and his family fundamentally paid the forty cows for. After waiting for what seemed like a decade for her to get pregnant, she gave birth to a girl, a thing that only fueled the resultant ager. Taking a long time to get pregnant and only giving birth to a girl when she should have birthed a boy called for a quick search for another wife. For Chuol’s parents, this was a search for a working womb, but for Chuol it was just a search for wife number two, which he found hard now that he realized most girls showed many of the characteristics Nyayang had shown; however, eventually all displayed some problem.

But that all changed when he accidentally stumbled upon Sarah again, who instantly restored his manhood. Sarah not only filled Chuol’s life with the boys he had been looking for, but she had her chance one more time to not only show Nyayang that it is the woman born with brothers who wins, but that the woman who has the ability to birth boys is the ultimate winner. But values-setting, worth-determining, and love are all weaknesses in society. There is only one true winner, and that is the neighbor, the seasonal enemy, the chaff buyer, the Murlen man.

Enjoy an Excerpt

There is a famous saying among the Nuer people which goes a little like this: “Every family has its way of talking and eating.” I don’t know what thoughts may pop into your mind upon hearing this saying. Personally? I see it as a universal family description—or perhaps the nature of these two things, “talking and eating,” are indeed that which differentiate us, the human race, universally
.
Of course, there are other differences amongst people. And although one of the obvious differences is the colour of skin, there are also things formed with conscious intentions for the purpose of them becoming our ways of life. In most cases, although this can’t really be said about skin colour, there are persuasive goals set prior to forming a way to live. For instance, we teach children how to do well behaviourally so tomorrow is a bit clearer for them. However, within a formation, a tendency is developed. Sometimes, these tendencies come in the form of beliefs, which influence what and how we teach them.

Take this belief from the place I call home. Where I come from, in South Sudan, it is overwhelmingly believed that there is a difference between a male child and a female child. Of course, there is a difference. And so this difference is often exhausted and exploited to identify potential inequalities between the two. Unfortunately, the further this persists, the more limits we place on what we consider males and females to be capable of.

Nevertheless, humans are known to loathe dwelling in a valley of non-competitive spirit. Therefore, the only way forward is still to lean iii strongly toward one side and confidently unwrap the other side as if someone was there when she was all assembled.

It has always been the belief here at home, exhaustedly theorized and relentlessly practised, that one thing must be different from another. Often, to roll out one thing is enough but the other is not. In a remote way, this perception unconsciously brings us to inherently believe one is the product while the other is the producer. In other families, this way of reasoning may look a bit different; nonetheless, the derivation of the tendentious tendency in this family walks its way persistently from a claimed, precise understanding of fullness that can only be explained in four ways.

These involve precise understanding of the structural beauty of appearance, the strength of the structural body, the enormity of the group to which one belongs, and the sophistication or smoothness of the tongue. As a result, every response, every act and every performance revolves around these four things. Therefore, how each family teaches the two is different, for each family believes the two exist for different, unbalanced reasons. And that, unlike other families, this family eats and talks differently.

The stories you are about to read, with the exception of names and certain places, are real people’s stories, which, to this day, are still happening. As you flip through the pages, I urge you to ask yourself the following questions: What, then, is human? Who is human? And what does it mean to be one?

About the Author:Tabitha Biel Luak is a South Sudanese-Canadian author. Tabitha was born in South Sudan, Africa. She relocated to Edmonton, Canada in 2011. Tabitha is a mother of two beautiful girls. She is currently taking her bachelor degree in Psychology. She is very passionate about helping her community grow. She is involved with youth in helping them reconnect to their roots by learning about where they come from. Tabitha is a gospel singer who also writes and sings songs about social issues.

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World of Stars by Seyoum Nigussie – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Seyoum Nigussie will be awarding a 15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

World of Stars is a collection of poetry that portrays the beauties of nature and human experiences in the world. The poems enumerate various places, events, personas, notions and conditions that deserve poetic attention. A portion of the poems are made for tributes and gratitude to great personas who make this world as adorable as it is.

The poems are on varied topics and distinct from each other. Abstract and subjective ideas are woven into the poems to highlight the degree of transcendence. All the poems are metrical composition. By illustrating the good side of the world and nature within it, the poems aim to elevate people to a good way of looking at life as beautiful and meaningful.

 

 

Enjoy an Excerpt

Big Apple Tree

There will always be big apple tree

Big apple tree heralds of being free.

Greatest city where fortunes redouble

Graceful city where everybody is noble,

And also a city where doves are humble.

New York City is the one of Big Apple.

People so far use cars or planes to travel

When next generation begins to shuffle,

Visits to New York is by space shuttle

And create centre of galaxy if possible.

As humans grow to feel a living glory

Instincts will remerge just as in priory.

To chant on around Big Apple Tree

The world will convene so as to agree.

Big Apple Tree as City of New York

And there is much stamina on every dock.

There are persons with stripes of zebra

And there are varieties in every single aura.

When musicians play pulling their strings

Big Apple Tree contents behave like kings.

About the Author: The world and life in general was promising to me until I was 17 years in my native country of Ethiopia. While a high school student in 1974, the world around me came crashing down when communist military Junta took state power and soon started a killing spree, at times committing mass murder. This was very traumatizing and the start of Stalinist ‘Red Terror’ on the ground. It was bad enough to hate being in life. From this, I quickly learnt life in the world is about taking on adventures.

With six of my school friends and one of our teachers, we formed an alliance to take action against the Junta. With 2 years of preparation we had managed to inform the public and get the local police headquarters on our side. Then, in April 1976 we staged a rebellion without violence in Nekempte, provincial capital of Welega. The revolt was short-lived, nothing lost with little gain. Amidst media control of the Junta, the news of rebellion was heard across the country. After that, my friends and I vowed to individually take on challenges for democracy as a life-long mission. We split apart and I went underground. When the security situation became harsh, I left the country for Sudan.

Despite traumatizing news and the realities around me with the ‘Periods of Gloom and Doom’, I took refuge in reading classical poetry which became my long time passion.

After a long journey through ups and downs, I suffered a car accident in Sudan, and left Africa all together – migrating to Canada in 1990. Through my journey in life, I looked around for a drug of relief from grief and nostalgia. Poetry reading had become my choice for entertainment and to delete bad memories and traumas. Soon after I realized that positive poetry is as good as drugs, music and paintings are, I decided to write one and here I begin with World of Stars.

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Pondering the Muse by Susan Merson – Guest Blog and Giveway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Susan Merson will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

PONDERING THE MUSE

Oh boy. I’ve been at this art thing a long time. I got the tickle very early on when, as a little one, I used to hug the barking elm in front of our house and lean into the stories that the sap chattered. “Come closer! Listen!” As the gush and babble flowed up and around its magical network.

Then, there were the lily of the valleys that hid under the spreading evergreen on our front lawn. If I crawled under the branches, I could see an entire village of perfectly shaped wonders, little clanging bells, announcing my arrival to the other occupants of the secret village.

Theatre came naturally. And classes at the Detroit Institute of Arts, where I wandered before and after, through the galleries, getting lost in the depth of Mark Rothko’s layers of color or Diego Rivera’s murals of the working men and women who I knew. They lived all around me and their stories were mine, too.

Years of letting the stories and the characters run through me. That’s been the journey so far. And, getting clearer and clearer at how and when to bring them from my internal creation chamber to the world.

Sometimes they show up as characters I inhabit, or maybe as plays or poems, even sometimes in the quilts and clothing that come together from scraps of this and that seeking seams to make them whole.

The muse runs through me. And all of us. If I had to say what I wished most for the planet right now, at this time of extraordinary change, it would be my grand and embracing hope that everyone can begin to feel the tickle of larger understanding, the nuance of color and character, the cratering of self-serving systems that cannot be sustained.

I am blessed with a direct connection with dimensions up and down, and I am practiced now in the bringing of that word to the world. So, too, is that gift there for everyone. And the more we all embrace more than ourselves, the more we understand that our concept of ourselves alone in a dead landscape just won’t stand.

Starting over is hard enough but when ghosts decide to hitch a ride into the future—things can get complicated.

Widowed Vivi leaves California for a new start back east landing in a college town near her old friend Vikram, now the local ‘spiritual’ leader and disappointing lover. But the two have old business which leads them to uncovering the ghosts they conjured long before and the ones that are haunting them now. Vivi reclaims her life, — with the help of a couple different dimensions– saying hi to the ghosts who choose to hang around, and growing a new garden and a new life.

Enjoy an Excerpt

They have settled into their chairs and Tara is tossing some cards, shuffling them and getting a feel. She flips over three cards.

“Oh, my dear. Some bleak times, past, yes?”

Vivi is startled by this pronouncement. “Well, it’s been a time of change, I’d say.”

“Change?” says Tara. “You betcha. This Tower card is about the whole thing coming crashing down. But it’s in the past position. See here? This is the present,” she shows Vivi the 7 of cups. It’s a picture of a man taking a look at a whole gallery of possibilities. “Look at him”, Tara says. “He’s got lots of things to choose from.”

“Well, that sounds good,” says Vivi tentatively.

“Not bad. Don’t get over infatuated with the possibilities. And the last one… here. The Hermit. Yep.”

“What’s that mean?”

“Oh it’s fine. Just a time to go inside and let things percolate. Inner wisdom and all that. Not a bad sentence!” Tara laughs again. “Now. Anything specific on your mind?” Tara continues to flip cards. “So,” she says. “Who is this guy? This King keeps showing up. King of Cups? He fell out of the deck twice while I was shuffling. “Who is this guy who won’t leave you alone?”

Vivi is mystified. “How did you…?’

“Oh, it’s not magic. The cards just know, that’s all. They pick up what you bring. Who is this guy?”

About the Author: Susan Merson began her career as an actress on and off Broadway, in television and film. Co-founding the LA Writers Bloc in 1985 with award winning writer Jane Anderson, she has mentored writers through the Bloc and through her private and university classes in Playwriting, Life Stories, Writing as a Spiritual Practice, Tarot for Writers and the popular VOICING Series. Her short fiction has been featured in The Jew in America, Nice Jewish Girls (Penguin), The Worcester Review, the Chicken Soup series and several other online platforms. As a playwright, her award-winning plays have been performed internationally, including her 8 solo plays featured and used as example in YOUT NAME HERE: An Actor Writers Guide to Solo Performance. (Amazon). Long form fiction available on Amazon is her award-winning blog, WHEN THEY GO AND YOU DO NOT and her first novel DREAMING IN DAYLIGHT. OH GOOD NOW THIS, her newest novel launches 12/1/21. She is a tarot reader and counselor, a maker of quilts, clothing and whimsy. Susan is a humble mother and a proud resident of New York City.

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The author has also done a series of five videos regarding the use of Tarot for writers (for more information, visit her website):

1: Author/ teacher Susan Merson (OH GOOD NOW THIS/ Amazon) explores Tarot to jump start your writing. TAROT FOR WRITERS #1: INTRODUCTION

An introduction to using your own intuitive powers to tap into the resonance of Tarot images, packed with archetypes and symbols, to jumpstart inspiration for your artistic projects.

**CORRECTION: The Raziel Tarot Deck is designed by artist Robert Place with commentary by Rachel Pollack.

2: Author/teacher Susan Merson (OH GOOD NOW THIS/Amazon), explores TAROT cards to jumpstart your writing, TAROT FOR WRITERS #2: LANDSCAPE

Explore the landscape of story. Entering the world of the card offers visceral clues to the landscape of your writing.

3: Author/ teacher Susan Merson (OH GOOD NOW THIS/ Amazon) explores TAROT cards to jump start your writing. TAROT FOR WRITERS #3: CHARACTER.

A brief exploration of character and how to find their first basic journey. Look deeply at the character clues in the cards and throw three cards to begin their adventure.

4: Author/teacher Susan Merson (OH GOOD NOW THIS/AMAZON) explores TAROT cards to jump start your writing. TAROT FOR WRITERS #4: WHAT STORY SHOULD I WRITE TODAY

On pulling cards to intuitively discover the story, the genre, the themes and the major turning points of a new story.

5: Author/teacher Susan Merson (OH GOOD NOW THIS/AMAZON) explores TAROT to jumpstart your writing. TAROT FOR WRITERS/ #5 TIMELINES AND DEEPER DIVE INTO RELATIONSHIPS

Timelines and going deeper into relationships with pro and antagonists. The more cards you draw the more information you can gather.

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Addiction to Poetry by Trevor Muir – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Trevor Muir will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

This book is a compilation of all the poems I have written in my life. Each one comes from a very personal place within me. Some of the poems truly show me at my most fearful, sad, and lonely moments in my life, and others are examples of how I was feeling at a time when I was desperate and lost all hope.

Some are of love, hope, a general wonder or curiosity, and accomplishment, and others came from the experiences of people closest to me.

I have added a page that briefly describes where the inspiration for the poem(s) came from, to help better tell the story. For me, poems and writing became a personal outlet. They have given me a safe way to express my thoughts and feelings.

I hope you enjoy them. If they are at all relatable than that’s even better. I hope that those who read these, and identify with them, will see that no matter how rough life may seem at any given time, it can get better if you just keep going.

Although the poems within these pages may be a bit random and unorganized, as is my life sometimes, they are raw and real. They are as I wrote them at that time.

I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read any or all of them, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I am sure my Mom will.

Enjoy an Exclusive Excerpt

When you look into a mirror

This was a bit random. I was reflecting on a time in my life when I couldn’t bear to look at my own reflection. I just had such low self-esteem. I was full of fear and shame, and guilt had become my norm. I did some things to change my life and overcome those feelings, and one day I realized I was looking into my own eyes in the mirror without the negative emotions I had felt most of my life. This prompted me to write the poem. – Trev

When you look into a mirror, do you see your face?

Or has someone unfamiliar seemed to take its place?

Can you look the person in the

mirror directly in the eyes?

Or do you have to look away because

they know your lies?

Does the person in the mirror look

at you with disrespect?

Is there shame and sadness in their

face that you seem to detect?

Do you ever turn the lights off when

you’re looking in the mirror?

With the hope that when they’re on

again, the face will disappear?

Do you ever fear the morning most and feel quite

insane, because the person in the mirror

wants to haunt you once again?

If you look into a mirror and do not see

your face, because someone unfamiliar

has seemed to take its place,

Just stare at the reflection, and say I’m proud of you,

And I’ll always love you very much,

no matter what you do!

Say this every morning and every afternoon,

Then the face that’s unfamiliar

will disappear quite soon.

Just focus on becoming who you really want

to be, and the face that’s in the mirror

will be the one you want to see.

About the Author Trevor Muir grew up in Elmworth, a small farming community in Northern Alberta. He learned at an early age the importance of family, friends, and community.

He also learned that working hard and being kind were essential to getting ahead but giving back to others was truly what life was about.

His life has led him down many paths that he could have never imagined, and he has had the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people on the planet.

He strongly believes in sharing experiences in the hopes that it will help others to see they are not alone, and inspire them to become the best version of themselves.

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Addiction to Poetry by Trevor Muir

Addiction to Poetry

by Trevor Muir

Giveaway ends July 04, 2021.

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High Country Justice by Nik James – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Nik James who is celebrating the recent release of High Country Justice. Enter for a chance to win the May releases from Sourcebooks Casablanca.

Fans of William Johnstone will love this unique and riveting historical western series. A perfect gift for Father’s Day, birthdays, and holidays for the men in your life.

It will take all this lone frontiersman’s skills to save his only friend from murderous outlaws.

Caleb Marlowe carved out his own legend as a frontier scout and lawman before arriving in the Colorado boomtown of Elkhorn. Famous for a lightning-quick draw and nerves of steel, he is mysterious, guarded, and unpredictable. Now, he wants to leave the past behind. But the past has a way of dogging a man…

When Doc Burnett, Caleb’s only friend in town, goes missing, his daughter Sheila comes seeking Caleb’s help. Newly arrived from the East, she hotly condemns the bloody frontier justice of the rifle and the six-gun. But this is outlaw country.

Murderous road agents have Doc trapped in their mountain hideaway. To free Doc, Marlowe tracks his kidnappers through wild, uncharted territory, battling animals and bushwhackers. But when Sheila is captured by the ruthless gunhawks with a score to settle, Marlowe will have to take them down one by one, until no outlaw remains standing.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Elkhorn, Colorado, May 1878

Caleb Marlowe watched the embers of the fire throw flickering shadows on his new cabin walls. Outside, a muffled sound drew his attention, and Caleb focused on the door at the same time Bear lifted his great head. The thick, golden fur on the neck of the dog rose, and the low growl told Caleb that his own instincts were not wrong.

In an instant, both man and dog were on their feet.

Caleb signaled for the big, yellow animal to stay and reached for his Winchester ’73. The .44–caliber rifle was leaning, dark and deadly, against the new pine boards he’d nailed up not two hours before. If he’d had time to hang the door, whoever was out there might have gotten the drop on him.

Moving with the stealth of a cougar, Caleb crossed quickly to one side of the door and looked out, holding his gun. The broad fields gleamed like undulating waves of silver under the May moon between the wooded ridges that formed the east and west boundaries of his property. Down the slope from the cabin, by a bend in the shallow river, he could see the newly purchased cattle settled for the night. From this distance, the herd looked black as a pool of dried blood in the wide meadow.

He could see nothing amiss there. Nice and quiet. No wolves or mountain lions harrying the herd and stirring them up. The only sound was a pair of hunting owls hooting at each other in the distant pines. Still, something was wrong. His instincts were rarely off, and he had a prickling feeling on the back of his neck. He levered a cartridge into the chamber.

Caleb slipped outside into the cool, mountain air and moved silently along the wall of the nearly finished cabin. Bear moved ahead of him and disappeared into the shadow cast by the building blocking moonlight. The crisp breeze was light and coming out of the north, from the direction of Elkhorn, three miles away as the crow flies.

When Caleb peered around the corner, he was aware of the large, yellow smudge of dog standing alert at his feet. Bear was focused on the dark edge of the woods a couple hundred yards beyond Caleb’s wagon and the staked areas where the barn, corral, and Henry’s house would eventually set. Bear growled low again.

Caleb smelled them before he saw them. Six riders came out of the tall pines, moving slowly along the eastern edge of the meadow, and he felt six pairs of eyes fixed on the cabin.
He had no doubt as to their intentions. They were rustlers, and they were after his cattle. But this was his property—¬his and Henry’s—¬and that included those steers.

If they’d been smart enough to come down from Elkhorn on the southwestern road, these dolts could have forded the river far below here and had a damn good chance of making off with the herd. It must have surprised the shit out of them, seeing the cabin.

“Bad luck, fellas,” Caleb murmured, assessing the situation.

He needed to get a little closer to these snakes. Standing a couple of inches over six feet, with broad shoulders and solid muscles, he was hardly an insignificant target, even at night. His wagon was fifty yards nearer to them, but with this moon, they’d spot him and come at him before he got halfway there. It’d take a damn good shot on horseback from a hundred and fifty yards, but they could close that distance in a hurry. And Caleb would have no cover at all. Beyond the wagon, there were half a dozen stone outcroppings, but nothing else to stop a bullet.
Just then, the cattle must have smelled them too, because they started grunting and moving restlessly. That was all the distraction he needed.

Staying low, Caleb ran hard, angling his path to get the wagon between him and the rustlers as quickly as he could.

He nearly made it.

The flash from the lead rider’s rifle was accompanied by the crack of wood and an explosion of splinters above the sideboard of the wagon. A second shot thudded dead into the ground a few yards to Caleb’s right. Immediately, with shouts and guns blazing, they were all coming hard.

About the Author: Nik James is a pseudonym for award-winning, USA Today bestselling authors Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick. They are the writing team behind over four dozen conflict-filled historical and contemporary novels and two works of nonfiction under various pseudonyms. They make their home in California.

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Bookshop, or BAM.

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