September 2015 – Page 2 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: September 2015 (Page 2 of 2)

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Blade of the Destroyer Blog Tour Part 2

Since I posted the first part of the Blog Tour a few weeks ago, I’ve been all over the internet–doing guest posts, author interviews, and getting reviews. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

A Writer’s Tale: Author Interview with Scarlett Van Djik

Armand Rosamilia: Guest Post “Why Do We Love Horror?”

Deborah Jay: Excellent Book Review by Deborah Jay

The Dark Phantom: Guest Post “Why a Writing Schedule ABSOLUTELY Matters”

Zirev: Brilliant Author Interview with Liezl Ruiz

Into Another World: Author Interview with Susan Leigh Noble

The Cult of Me: Guest Post “The Importance of a GOOD Bad Guy”

A Novel Reality: Guest Post “Does a Writing Schedule Matter?”

BodyRock: 10 Ways to Beat the Back to Work Blues

Chasity Nictole 720: Epic Book Review by Chasity Nicole

Sapphyria’s Book Reviews: 20 Fun Facts About Me and Brilliant Book Review

Reader’s Favorite: Great Book Review

Katy’s Words: Guest Post “Why Research Matters for Fiction”

Erindor Press: Guest Post “Why Writers Cannot be Anti-Social:”

Britbear’s Book Reviews: Guest Post “What the Heck is Grimdark/Dark Fantasy?”

Faveable: 10 Great Fantasy Books to Beat the Back to Work Blues

Authors Interviews: Interview with Fiona McVie

 

I wonder where I’ll go next…

TR

Author Interview: Thom Reese

It’s Book Review Wednesday, but seeing as I’m sick as a dog, I can’t bring myself to read anything. Instead, I’ve conducted an interview with Mr. Thom Reese, the author of the book I will be featuring next Book Review Wednesday…

 

About the Author:

Thom Reese is the author of the novels, A SAVAGE DISTANCE, THE DEMON BAQASH, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY, along with the short story collection, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER & MADNESS. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATRE. Several of Thom’s audio dramas have been published on CD and MP3 formats. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home with his wife in Las Vegas, Nevada.

TR

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

The main characters in my new novel, A SAVAGE DISTANCE, are Marc and Dana Huntington, a husband and wife rescue and recovery team. He’s former Delta Force and left under a cloud of disgrace. She’s former MI6 which is roughly equivalent to the British CIA. They make their livings by collecting reward money for rescuing missing persons and recovering lost or stolen items of great value. They both have personal issues plaguing them, Marc has a prescription substance abuse problem and Dana is dealing with the aftereffects of a brutal attack on her. They are still very much in love but these issues have impacted them to the point where they are living separately.

In A SAVAGE DISTANCE they work independently of one another, Marc attempting to rescue the kidnapped child of a Nishati Azibo, who is the oppressive tyrant of a small African nation. And as if that’s not bad enough, she’s a sorceress in the service of a demon god. That, as you might expect, causes problems for Marc. There are plenty of twists and turns as well as significant supernatural elements to this side of the story. Meanwhile, Dana’s inner struggles have led her to track a Hoodoo-inspired serial killer/rapist across the southwestern United States. The characters have a lot going on and are multifaceted. As well, the supernatural elements impact Marc and Dana in unexpected ways.

A SAVAGE DISTANCE COVER

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

Wow! It may be hard to believe, but I’ve never really given this any thought. The characters of Marc and Dana were birthed on a weekly audio drama radio program that I wrote and then co-produced with my wife, Kathy. Neither of the actors that played Marc and Dana in the audio dramas resemble the character descriptions in the books. Dana had a Vietnamese mother and a Caucasian British father and so has a euro-Asian appearance. And Hunt has severe scaring on his face due to an explosion on his final mission in Iraq. That said, minus the scars, Matt Damen is pretty close to Marc’s description and Lucy Lu might work for Dana. But both are probably a decade older then the characters are in the book. Halle Berry might be a good choice for Nishati Azibo.

Why do you write?

Because I can’t stop myself. Seriously, it’s become such a big part of my life that I can’t imagine not writing. I write seven days a week and have done so for years. Some days may only be an hour and then another day twelve, but I do write every day. It’s just who I am.

Where do your ideas come from?

Everywhere. I’m always thinking about my current projects and tend to be aware of interesting people that I could use as models for characters and for interesting settings that I can use as locales. All of these are modified for the story. I do a lot of meshing various ideas together. As far as plots go, I think I’ve trained myself to be in writing mode throughout the day. So an off the cuff comment, a news story, a strange dynamic between two people, any of these things can trigger a plot idea or the setting for a scene that I’ve already planned. I’m a real pack rat when it comes to ideas.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I’ve always thrived on creative outlets. Whether it be writing, music, art, acting, whatever! As to writing, I constantly have story ideas flitting about my brain. The ideas come very naturally to me. But I had to work on my craft for quite a while. It’s not that I had no natural ability. I think that was there. But like anything else, it takes practice and perseverance to truly excel at something. I see growth with every book I write and hope I continue to do so. Life is about growing and I’m forever seeking to grow as a writer.

What genre are your books?

I tend to walk a tightrope between genres. At my core, I’m a speculative fiction writer, which refers to the horror, sci-fi, and fantasy genres. My stories tend to have elements of all three along with some thriller trademarks thrown in. Home base for me is a story with supernatural elements, but this isn’t always present. My book, THE EMPTY, for instance, really has a science fiction concept at its core, but nothing supernatural.

What draws you to this genre?

It’s what I read. It’s what I enjoy. I’m drawn to stories that take the reader outside of the normal existence of life. I’ve always found that taking characters away from the ordinary often allows the writer to explore issues and traits of humanity from a “safe place.” The circumstances are not possible in real life and so readers are sometimes more comfortable confronting what might be difficult or controversial issues in a purely fictional setting.

In what formats is your book available?

My books are available in print and eBooks. I also wrote and co-produced, with my wife, three audio drama CD sets. These are full cast recordings with sound effects, original music, the works. They’re available on CD and MP3.

What is your favourite book and why?

If I can only pick one I’d have to say John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.” It’s not in my genre but I’ve read it three times now and intend to read it again. The characters are so rich, the prose so vibrant. The last time I read it I was tempted to go directly back to page one and start all over again. I just didn’t want to leave those characters.

What is your favourite quote?

Oh, I’m sure it’s something silly. Maybe, “I’m Batman,” or, “Luke, I’m your father,” or “This parrot is dead!” Or maybe, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

What is your favourite film and why?

These questions keep getting harder! I’m terrible at this. There are so many and I’m sure that after I answer I’ll think, “Wow, that was stupid, Thom. You forgot all about – fill in the blank – which is actually the favorite. I think I might go for the original Wolf-Man, though. The one with Lon Chaney Jr. I’ve always loved werewolves and that’s where it all started.

Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?

On Earth… And still writing.

What is your biggest fear?

On a quasi-humorous note, not living long enough to read all of the books that I already own but have not yet had a chance to read. But more seriously, not having enough opportunity to spend quality time with each of my daughters, all of whom are now grown and living in different states. The other is something like Alzheimer’s or dementia. I always want to be me. Any disease that takes away the person that I am would be horrible to me.

If you were a super hero, what would your name be? What costume would you wear?

I used to be a competitive swimmer, so something with water. Maybe Waterboy! Yeah, Waterboy has a nice ring to it. And, considering my stellar physique, my costume would be anything that’s not a Speedo.

What secret talents do you have?

I don’t know how secret it is, but I play guitar and bass. I also have an amazing ability to fall asleep during any movie or television show in less than a second’s time. I guess you could call it my super power.

 

Writing Has Taught Me to Let Go

It’s amazing how many writers cling to their works like they are their “babies”. Which, all things considered, they really are!

It’s hard to release your creation into the world, out there where others can see it, comment on it, and possibly say negative things about it. It’s definitely one of the greatest challenges writers face, and it can lead to some pretty bad insecurities.

But over the course of my writing career (short as it may be), I’ve learned that we have to let go. Once we make it as good as we possibly can, the only thing we can do is put be brave, put ourselves out there, and take our lumps!

When I launched The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer, I was incredibly nervous about the feedback I would get. I spent months poring over every word in that book, trying to make it as good as possible. When the day come to press “Submit”, I knew it was as good as I was going to make it.

Thankfully, most of the feedback has been positive! The book’s rating on Amazon hovers at 4.6 Stars, with most of the reviews being five-stars (all without me saying “Pretty please”). But there have been a few reviews that forced me to be a man and take my lumps.

There are things about the book that I absolutely love! For example, the part where the Hunter goes around the Temple District and sees all the different temples to the various gods. For me, that was the most enjoyable part to write! I loved creating an entire pantheon of gods, and I felt that was the best way to explain about the gods of Einan (the world in which the Hunter lives).

But a few reviewers have said, “It felt like an infodump.” To anyone who reads/writes, that word “infodump” is something to be dreaded! It’s basically a way of saying, “That’s a newbie way of sharing information–it could have been done better.”

So, I had my idea of what would make the book interesting, and I discovered I was wrong. I have two choices:

  1. Cling to the blind confidence that I am right and these reviewers are wrong.
  2. Let go of my way of thinking and try to approach it the way someone else sees it.

I’m not going to go back and change anything, but I will DEFINITELY keep it in mind for future works. Because I have made the choice to “let go” of what I think to be right and am trying to be open to the suggestions of others, my work will only improve in the future.

Writers–and anyone who creates–learn to LET GO! It’s the only way that you will get better. Don’t box yourself in by sticking to your opinion or idea of what “right” really is, but let go of your assumptions or preconceived ideas. The more open you are the learning, the more you will learn, and the better you will become!

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Book Review: Black Ops Zulu by Arthur Bozikas

It’s Bonus Book Review Saturday, and today we’ve got a thrill for you…

 

Black Ops Zulu: Pivotal Velocity

Tom Stiles is Australia’s James Bond—part philosopher, part killing machine and always the ladies’ man. Follow his journey from family man and fraud investigator to elite Black Ops secret agent who has full authority to use deadly force to complete his covert missions.

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Recent events have left Tom craving distraction in the form of adrenalin rush. When Tom’s lover dies in a catastrophic accident, her father Vlad, a Chechen Mafia member, makes a dangerous demand. This deadly favour gets Tom in deep with Cerberus, a criminal mastermind with links to international terrorism. When the Prime Minister of Australia appoints him as Chair of a new international fraud taskforce, Tom is left wondering if there is more to this than it seems. Stiles does what other agents can’t do.

 

My Review: 4 Stars

While the story was pretty decent overall, it was definitely not what I expected. This is not much of a thriller, but more of the prequel to a thriller. Imagine if you read the back story of why John Clark of Tom Clancy fame decided to become the bad-ass he is, and you have an idea of what this book is like.

The book felt slow-paced (not plodding, but not a fast-paced, heart-wrenching thriller that I was expecting), which is fine considering that it’s the back story of this (future) bad-ass agent. I’m certain that Book 2 and beyond will show the bad-ass side of him, but for now, Tom Stiles is very much NOT a James Bond–more of an Average Joe than anything else. In the story, he is supposed to have a lot of awesome military training, but he doesn’t come off as a brass-balled bad-ass. Instead, he’s more of a slightly tougher-than-average man going through a bit of a midlife crisis.

At least at first. I didn’t feel much of a “thrill” until about 75% into the story, when things start happening more quickly and a potentially awesome villain is introduced. That’s when it started picking up, and by the end, you’ve seen the first shadows of the “Australian James Bond” that the book claims.

There was one part of the story that was supposed to be intensely emotional, but I felt the author did us a disservice by rushing through it. There was less than one page to describe what should have been the most important scene in the whole book. I felt NO emotion at that part, which is disappointing.

One huge issue for me: the book is missing out on A LOT of commas. Perhaps the punctuation rules in Australia/New Zealand are different than the U.S. (the books I’m accustomed to reading), but the lack of commas was pretty glaring for me.

That being said, it was an enjoyable book, with a decent story, and enough of a “hook” to make me want to find out what happens next.

 

Here’s a Taste:

Lightning speared through the worn blinds of the Motel Voyager. Tom Stiles fastened his Jaeger-LeCoultre around his wrist, his face pulsing between light and dark. Rain plunged down outside.

“Natasha, summer’s over,” Tom said, without turning from the storm outside.

“I’m glad, I hate the heat.”

Tom looked over the grey brown carpet and followed the trail of hat, dress, bra and stockings to the bed. She lay beneath the sheets with her arm stroking the pillow which still retained the impression of his head.

“It means I have to go, now.”

Natasha turned to the bedside table, unclipped a cigarette from her diamond-studded cigarette case and lit it.

“So I was just your seasonal lover, is that it?”

“You are more than that Tash, but we knew this day was coming.”

“Save me the, it’s not you, I still love my wife speech!”

“I have to return to my daughters.”

“Don’t give me that Tom. Don’t tell me you have to leave; you’re volunteering to leave. You could take me with you… At least, stay one more night, come back to bed.”

Tom did not turn around but he could see her reflection in the mirror. She had pushed aside the sheet covering her body. He closed his eyes. He knew that one more glimpse of her thigh, or her silhouette against the crumpled pink sheets would weaken his resolve. Taking a sip from his hip flask, he picked up his heavy fire fighting boots and walked out the door. He heard a glass shatter on the door behind him.

Tom ran through the dark car park, hunched against the storm. His black BMW was parked next to Natasha’s dark green convertible with the number plate MG 1979. He turned the key in the ignition and the radio started up, the three a.m. news was just beginning. Tom thought he should sit through the rain. He turned on his mobile. Fifteen missed calls, all from Victoria. Well, what did he expect? He was due home hours ago. Garth Brooks began singing Thunder Rolls and Tom pulled out onto the Great Western Highway.

The city’s silhouette throbbed in the distance but the road ahead was devoid of taillights. Now and again a truck passed in the opposite direction. He came to a complete stop at the intersection in front of a red light, and glanced at the clock—three forty-five. He exhaled for what seemed like the first time that summer. Home soon, he thought. Another summer of fighting fires was over, another few houses saved, some scares but no death, no scars, and no harm done. Excluding the harm he had done to Natasha. He thought of her lying naked beneath him again and let the thought go. Home, soon.

He exhaled again, and asked himself if he really did still love Victoria. He had imagined taking Natasha home with him but that was not possible. Yes, he had contemplated it but knew it would destroy Victoria. And it was far too soon after the death of their mother to turn his daughters’ lives upside down again. The girls were still grieving, as he was, and they had become accustomed to Victoria being around. He had lost his parents when he was a child and that pain defined him. There had been other women after his wife Helen’s death, women he had found every summer when he volunteered. He would search them for any resemblance to Helen and judge them against what was now becoming a faded, idealized image of her. But Natasha, he was falling in love with Natasha for the way she smoked a cigarette, the slight Russian accent that became more prominent when she swore and her indefatigable body.

He struggled then, as he always had, to make some connection between all these things. The death of his wife, the death of his parents and his brother … they were like withered bouquets left by the side of the road. The long tuneless white noise of death had followed him his entire life. He felt no sense of resolution; he often puzzled over an indistinct question that woke him, noiseless, always around midnight. But beside Natasha he slept at ease.

A sheet of what looked like lightning illuminated the entire crossroads and shocked Tom into pressing the brakes even harder as he waited for the lights to turn green. Tyres screeched behind him. Suddenly, his body jolted forward and the air bag exploded in his face. Pain seared through him. And then there was no horizon lights, no road, no car, nothing except pain from his spine to his fingertips and a sense of helpless, unbidden flying, as if he had entered a recurring dream. Then the car seemed to gather him back in. A wheel rolled past the driver side window. Then, darkness.

 

About the Author:

Arthur Bozikas lives in Sydney and is the CEO of a Non-Government Organisation (NGO). He is married and has two children. In his early 40’s Arthur returned to university and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Management. During this period, Tom Stiles inception was created out of a combination of short stories Arthur wrote, while developing his creative writing skills during the long breaks in between classes.

Find the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B00TRMJV1Q

Or on the B&N Store: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/black-ops-zulu-arthurbozikas/1121251179?ean=9781925271324

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24971183-black-ops-zuluGoodreads

Read a review: https://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/black-ops-zulu/

Find out more about Tom Stiles on his website: http://tomstilesthrillers.blogspot.com.au/

Tweet at Arthur: https://twitter.com/ArthurBozikas

Connect with him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TomStilesThrillerSeries

A Few More Thoughts on Life

In lieu of intelligent thoughts from me, here are some interesting thoughts from intelligent people:


“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” ― Mae West

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” ― Mark Twain

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” ― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” ― Dr. Seuss

“Everything you can imagine is real.” ― Pablo Picasso

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” ― George Bernard Shaw

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” ― Albert Einstein

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I’m the one that’s got to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to.” ― Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix – Axis: Bold as Love

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” ― Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

“All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring.” ― Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”  ― Gilda Radner

(Courtesy of Goodreads)

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Book Review: Once Upon a Dragon by Tabitha Ormiston-Smith

It’s Book Review Wednesday again, and boy do I have a treat for you!  If you love short stories, this eclectic mix of shorts will be right up your alley…

 

Once Upon a Dragon

This eclectic collection includes a number of short stories previously published in various anthologies and as single shorts, and some new material. You’ll laugh, shiver and cry.

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My Review: 4.5 Stars

I’m not much of a short story guy, but I have to say that I loved these stories. My favorite were the ones about the dragons–sort of a Grimm’s Fairy Tale style, but with hilarious, humorous, and often droll endings.

I never “shivered” as the blurb promises, but I definitely got the feels with the story about the man and his dog. There were a couple I didn’t understand, yet I enjoyed most of the short stories. The only reason it didn’t earn 5 stars was because I reserve that ranking for books I absolutely LOVED. I really enjoyed this (a lot more than I thought I would).

I found no typos, errors, or grammatical mistakes, and the short stories were all well-composed. Definitely an author who knows her business!

 

Here’s a Taste:

Pete Baxter wasn’t overjoyed when his wife, Janette, brought home a puppy. In fact, not only was he not overjoyed, he was furious. The eight week old puppy was already the size of a kelpie. He shuddered to think what it was going to grow into. Pete had never cared for animals, especially dogs. Their loudness and hairiness offended his prim sense of order; dogs were, he felt, essentially chaotic, and no good would come of it.

“But why, for heaven’s sake, Jan?” he asked her over their dinner, after Ancient Majesty Culainn (“Mummy’s Little Kitchy-boos”) had been fed and put to sleep in the laundry on a pile of old towels. “You’ve never shown the slightest interest in dogs before.”

Janette looked pityingly at him over her Sav Blanc. “Petey, don’t you know it’s all the go now to have dogs? That bitch Sam Wallace has the cutest little Chi-wow-wow,” (she pronounced it like this) “and she takes it everywhere in her handbag.”

“Well, you won’t be able to take this one in your handbag. It would need a suitcase now, never mind when it grows up.”

“Silly! That’s the idea. My dog will be ever so much better than that Wallace bitch’s. Both his parents were Supreme Champions. Just imagine how cool I’m going to look walking down the street with him.”

“What is it, anyway? What breed?” Pete knew little about dogs, and cared less.

“He’s an Irish Wolfhound. And stop calling him ‘it’. Dogs are people too. It’s like having a child. I love him to bits already.”

Unheard, the loved child sent forth a mournful howl from the laundry.

***

By morning, Ancient Majesty Culainn had cried all night, destroyed a mop and the peg basket, and copiously decorated the laundry floor with various biological products, all of which caused Janette to screech with horror and outrage when she opened the door, which wasn’t until shortly before she planned to meet her friends for lunch. Fortunately, it was one of the cleaning lady’s three days a week, so she swanned off in her sports car without stopping, either to clean up the laundry or to feed Ancient Majesty Culainn, who cried in the boot all the way to the restaurant. Denied entry to the restaurant, he continued to cry for the next three hours, tied up out the front. Janette was very disappointed at her friends’ lack of enthusiasm (Jesus! It’s as big as a horse! No way, get it off me, it’s all slobbery! Oh, yuk, it smells!), returned home in a foul mood and spent three quarters of an hour knocking back vodka martinis and complaining to Pete while he made dinner, kicking Ancient Majesty Culainn away when he tried to play with the tassels on her shoes.

Over the ensuing days, Janette’s enthusiasm for the puppy waned as Ancient Majesty Culainn was successively denied entry to a charity auction, a gallery opening and the beauty parlour. She didn’t look all that cool walking him down the street, either; it was more dragging him by the neck, Pete thought. Within a week, she had stopped taking him for walks and left him to his own devices in the back yard.

 

About the Author:

Tabitha Ormiston-Smith was born and continues to age. Dividing her time between her houses in Melbourne and the country, she is ably assisted in her editing business and her other endeavours by Ferret, the three-legged bandit.

Find it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Once-Upon-Dragon-Tabitha-Ormiston-Smith-ebook/dp/B01366Z6OO

Check it out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Once-Upon-a-Dragon/168067133249537

Follow Tabitha on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tabitha-Ormiston-Smith/137637486306612

Read her thoughts on her website: http://tormistonsmith.wix.com/tabitha

 

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