Interview with Author Lorna Brown

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I always wanted to write, I don’t remember a particular time when the feeling came to me- it was always there. I started my first book at around 11 and it was an orphan Annie story that really disappointed me for the lack of originality. I thought ‘I have nothing to write about’ and I believe that’s when the yearning for travelling came. I talked about that all the time. After studying psychology and working for a year, I left Ireland. I worked in Australia, Japan, Boston and traveled South East Asia and New Zealand for three months alone, and South America for six months with my husband who I met in Japan. Eventually I came back to Ireland and I was nearing 30 when I finally started writing full time, with my husband’s support.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

This collection has been a while in the making. I’d been writing novels, breaking every rule in the book too as I tried to figure it out, and when I moved the States with my husband and three daughters, I started writing the stories. I wanted to write about how society views certain people, which make it difficult for them, like Lou and dyslexia, or Marcus marrying and trying to hide that he was gay, or Ester getting it wrong when her friend moves in with an older man, all these mistakes we make about people because it is impossible to know the whole truth about anyone. After I knew the characters, I put them together in the village I grew up.   

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I think through all the stories is the idea that we never truly know what’s going on with other people, while also addressing the fact that society can be tough. ‘In Taste of Salt’, when the group of kids come into the room with Lou, I write, they didn’t really know him but it was easy to forget this, to accept their wariness as reasonable, because there is the idea that we become how society views us. It is so hard to break from the mold. But there is also through the stories an idea of second chances, or being able to rise above it, and I think the ending of ‘White Trout’ is good for that.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I started short stories because I wanted to understand them and see how it was done. It took a good while for me to learn what they were about and how to write them.  This year I finished my second collection ‘It Is Good We Are Dreaming’ which is about that moment when people realize something about their live never known before, or that moment when we are forced to grow up, and I loved writing the stories, as well as the stories of Treading The Uneven Road, because they really made me look at the world around me. Writing a novel is a lot more insular I think. At least I tend to focus on the world I am creating, but when I am working on a collection I really look at what’s going on around me. The second collection most of the stories are taken from news articles and my ideas of what was behind them while Treading The Uneven Road was more about society and its biases.  

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Hard one, I like Dick for his dreaminess, but I really like Patrick from ‘Amends’ for his sense of humor. Eilish is a funny one, so stern and upright, but there is some softness to her that I’d like to see, Ann, would be interesting, I’d imagine sitting in her small kitchen with the view of the bay and that I wouldn’t get a word in edgeways. I’d probably ask her if she wished she’d knocked on that hotel door. (You have to read the collection to get see what I mean)

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I really don’t like social media, and I don’t use it much. But I love all the reviewers, such as yourself, who have been willing to review my book after my request with a synopsis. It’s fantastic that you spend time helping authors get known. I have to give it to the book bloggers sites.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

To accept feedback with gratitude because it is impossible to get better or learn without it. To be able to erase your words, none written is a waste of time. They lead to the destination, but not all are meant to stay. Read and write as much as you can and believe in your talent and ability no matter what anyone says, or how long it takes.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I have a lot of projects on the horizon. Fomite has my second collection. It Is Good We Are Dreaming. I secured an agent with my novel, Patient 55. But I finished my re-write of Hinterland soon after and we both agreed it was a stronger one to start with. It took eight years for me to get all the pieces right for Hinterland.  I was glad that he thought it stronger because I’d like to think my books get better with each one. I recently finished my latest novel Our Wandering, and I was planning to write a short story collection with Irish folklore in present day setting. I love doing short stories between novels. They are so different. But with the Government shut down and everything that’s happening here, I realize I need to write something about that. I’m reading now and in the planning stages. I write a lot and am always thinking of stories.

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Treading the Uneven Road by L.M. Brown Review

Author L.M. Brown delivers a powerful collection of short stories that explores the connected lives of several people living in a small village in Ireland during the 80’s and 90’s in her upcoming book, Treading the Uneven Road.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author L.M. Brown delivers a powerful collection of short stories that explores the connected lives of several people living in a small village in Ireland during the 80’s and 90’s in her upcoming book, Treading the Uneven Road. Here’s the synopsis.

The Synopsis

The stories in this linked collection are set in a small village in the Northwest of Ireland in the early 1980’s and 90’s. A by-pass around the village has rid them of their once busy traffic. The residents feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later. 

The collection is not only about the characters need for salvation but it is about a society that is unraveling. In Amends, we hear about the Bishop who has fathered a child. A priest is beckoned by a dying man to be mocked. The world inside and outside the village is changing. In every story the characters need to make a choice on how they might carry on.

The Review

This is a fantastic short story collection. Filled with heart, passion and fantastic character development, the story flows naturally and makes for an even paced series of stories that build this village’s life in unique ways. Exploring this unique time period and showing off some of the many problems people living in Ireland faced on a daily basis was an inspired choice, highlighting the changing world around them and how some people accepted this change, while others fought it wholeheartedly. 

From the hostility towards anyone who comes out or is found to be gay in a very religious community to the trouble that comes from  parenthood and how some people aren’t made to be mother’s or father’s. Exploring marriages, friendships and everything in between, this emotional roller coaster of a short story collection is truly unique and brings some heartfelt struggles to life.

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The Verdict

This upcoming collection is a must read 2019 book. An interesting journey of individuals with their own personal struggles and how those struggles affect others really shone brightly in the novel. Amends in particular is one short story you won’t want to miss, as the story takes readers into shocking directions and forces the reader to ask themselves how our elders prejudices affect us, and how they can affect others. If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder your copy of L.M. Brown’s “Treading the Uneven Road” today (or grab your copy of the book if it’s already released)!

Rating: 8/10

https://www.amazon.com/Treading-Uneven-Road-L-Brown/dp/194438880X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1548732149&sr=1-1&keywords=9781944388805

2019 Writing & Reading Goals

Welcome to the New Year everyone! With the beginning of a new year, it’s time to start planning ahead for what we hope to accomplish in 2019. 2018, as was the case for most of us, was a year full of turmoil and heartache. While there are no guarantees that the year ahead will be better, we can only hope. As an author and blogger, I have been planning out what I hope to accomplish in the coming year. That’s why I’m going to publicly outline my goals for 2019.

Build Website

I hope to continue building my website that you guys are currently visiting. While I want to get more viewers and followers, my ultimate goal is to provide more exposure for other authors, review and preview amazing books coming in 2019, and meet some new and amazing friends in the author community. 

Read 150 Books Or More

I will make this public on Goodreads as well, but I more than surpassed my goal of books read in 2018, and so I want to challenge myself to read 150 books or more in the coming year.

Enter 2-4 Writing Contests

Writing is going to become much more frequent and a part of my life. In 2018 my own personal writing took a step back. Between my day job becoming much more frequent and a priority, building my website and taking on more responsibilities in my personal life, my writing fell to the wayside. I did publish a short novella and began working on the third novella in that series. I also wrote the fourth book in my Nightmare Wars series. However most of that writing has fallen to the wayside, not edited or reworked or even getting a second draft. 

That’s why in the coming year, I want to further my writing goals and enter at least 2-4 writing contests. This will give me the motivation not only to write, but edit and rewrite these stories and put them out there for others to see and judge. 

Submit 2-4 Stories For Anthologies

Similar to the contests, I want to submit 2-4 stories for anthologies. I get notices all the time for publications putting anthologies together and I’d love to collaborate and work with other authors in this way. 

Edit 1-2 Books Previously Published

One thing that I’ve learned in my years as a writer and blogger/reviewer is that there is always room for improvement and more lessons to be learned. When I was first starting out, I definitely failed to edit and flesh out the stories I wrote as a young writer. I want to take some of the stories I still love that I published prematurely in my writing career, and go back and fix them. I want to bring the stories to life and edit them so that readers will appreciate them more the way that I do.

Write 1-2 Novels

I have so many series in the works and so many stories floating around in my mind, that it’s time to put some of them down to paper (or a computer screen). I hope to write at least 1-2 novels in the coming year. 

Write 2-4 Short Stories

In addition to the 1-2 novels, I hope to write 2-4 short stories (not including the contests or anthologies I plan to write stories for). 

Adapt First Graphic Novel

I would love to adapt one of my novels into a graphic novel. I plan to study and learn how to write a graphic novel, and hopefully will find an artist who is willing to collaborate on the project.

Research, Investigate and Write Book On Southern California Haunting Claims

This is a passion project I hope to pursue in the coming year. My mom and I are deeply passionate about the paranormal, more specifically finding the right science behind the paranormal (we are not religious and believe there is a science that has yet to be discovered in regards to the “spirit”). One thing we have dreamed of is going to places around the world, investigating and writing about what we found/discovered. Our goal in 2019 is to try and do this by writing our first book together on local haunts in the Southern California area. 

Monthly Vlogs on Author Anthony Avina Channel

This is not specifically a writing goal, but it is related. I used to have a vlog channel called Avina Vlogs, but after all of the turmoil and changes to YouTube, I left it behind. However I loved making videos, and want to do it again. So not only will I be filming and uploading a video each month to my new YouTube channel, Author Anthony Avina, but I will be uploading them to Facebook, Instagram and hopefully my website as well. I’m doing monthly vlogs as I have a full schedule and filming daily is not an option at this time. I may look into restarting my podcast again or creating a new one, but that is not confirmed at this time.

What are your writing goals in 2019? Any books you hope to tackle in the coming year? Leave your comments below, and to keep up on whether or not I hit my goals, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and here as I post my progress.

Momentary Illumination of Objects in Motion by Jason Arias

A series of short stories captures the reader’s heart and challenges societal norms in author Jason Arias novel “Momentary Illumination of Objects in Motion”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

Momentary Illumination of Objects In Motion is the debut short story collection by Jason Arias. Focusing on life and death, race and identity, change and resistance to change. They’re stories of growth, both in the moment and over a lifetime. 

“Jason Arias will break your heart, blow your mind, make you laugh and bring you to the edge of everything that matters.” 

– Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Chronology of Water, and The Book of Joan

“Inspired, challenging, heartbreaking, and uplifting—the stories of Momentary Illumination of Objects In Motion are an after midnight bar story, a foxhole prayer, a graveyard shift confession. Jason Arias confronts masculinity and identity and memory and authority—as urgently needed as anything in fiction today.” 

– Matthew Robinson, author of The Horse Latitudes

“It’s a book that makes you feel whispered to and pulled in close. It’s a book that makes you wince your eyes and re-see things you thought you knew.” 

– Rita Bullwinkle, author of Belly Up

“…homes in on powerful imagery, revelatory metaphor, and vibrant characters who are fascinating to watch evolve from one story to the next.” 

– Samuel Snoek-Brown, author of Hagridden and There Is No Other Way to Worship Them

“At once, both funny and stark. A kickass debut.” 

– Margaret Malone, author of People Like You

“… Arias finds flashes of humor in the wreckage, as well as rare moments of beauty when humans transcend their limitations to become their best selves.” 

– Stevan Allred, author of A Simplified Map of the Real World

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The Review

The stories told within this collection are truly one of a kind and powerful. From the story of a young man confronted by death in the eyes of an innocent, to a young boy in love taking a leap of faith and even tales that challenge the notion of a definition of “masculinity” and the need to break societal norms, this collection has it all.

The imagery used in these stories really spoke to me personally. The emotional core of these tales that visited themes of love, loss, death and the possibility of a grim future came from these truly remarkable and relatable characters. It’s the kind of collection that highlights the struggles of the world, fusing humor and real life drama with characters that grow and evolve through their struggles.

The Verdict

Overall this was a truly creative, emotional and remarkable collection of short stories. It makes you stop and ask yourself whether or not you and the people around you are treating others the way they deserve to be treated, and whether or not you and the people around you are treated with the respect you deserve. It challenges the notion that we are defined by where we live, how we grew up, and who we love. It’s one of those rare collections that touch the heart and get your mind working, so if you haven’t yet be sure to grab your copy of Momentary Illumination of Objects in Motion by Jason Arias today.

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jason Arias’ stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Momentary Illumination of Objects In Motion is his first short story collection. 

He has worked as a hospital patient food courier, charter bus after-event cleaner, DMV records consolidator, lithography product deliveryman, one-hour photo developer, cashier, vinyl windows warehouse worker, UPS loader, EMT, paramedic, firefighter, LYFT driver, specimen collector, and sometimes a writer. 

Author’s Website: http://jasonariasauthor.com/

Author’s Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/jasonariasauthor/ 

Interview with Brandon Dragan

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
I grew up Northeastern New Jersey and have loved writing for as long as I can remember. My mom tells a funny story of a third-grade teacher who said that during writing assignments most of the kids would come to her desk with a few sentences scribbled and ask if they had written enough, but I would walk up asking for more paper. So, there’s always been that desire to write and express myself, although for the better part of my life I had trouble really sticking with it. I ended up focused mainly on writing songs and actually pursued it for a bit in Nashville, Tennessee, but pretty quickly found that I wasn’t a good enough musician to really hack it there. Eventually, I think I was about 25, married and working a regular corporate job when the idea for a story hit me and I just couldn’t shake it. That idea would eventually become my first novel, “The Wages of Grace,” which will hopefully be out later this year.
2) What inspired you to write your book?
As far as the writing of my newest short story “Cast No Shadow,” again it was really just a thought that hit me between the eyes and I couldn’t shake it. I absolutely love complex characters who are capable of enormous good and repulsive evil. I think most human beings are capable of both, so I really wanted to explore the thought of a good, loving, respected family man who also has a propensity toward violence and aggression toward those he finds evil or criminal.
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3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I don’t particularly want to feed readers what they should they think, so I’ll be careful here. When art is compelling it’s because of what each person brings to it. If anything, I would hope that this story raises questions about the concept of “just” violence. Is there such a thing as “good” violence, or does it all just feed into a nasty cycle? “Cast No Shadow” does touch on several themes-many of which were not intentional when I initially wrote it, such as race, children with guns, the war on drugs, etc. It is a short story, but I feel like there is a lot of meat there and I hope everyone who reads it will come away with something to chew on.
4) What drew you into this particular genre?
I was drawn into this type of story mainly by my admiration for the work of Cormac McCarthy. After reading “No Country For Old Men” I always had the desire to write a kind of “modern western.” 
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
If I could sit down with any character, I think it would be Annabelle. Although she maybe comes across as a bit mousy at first, though that’s probably not the best description, I think we find by the end of the story that she’s the strongest character in it. I would love to explore her background and particularly ask why she allowed Beau his vigilante fantasy when it’s clear that was something she never wanted any part of.
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
I am, unfortunately, not quite a dynamo when it comes to social media, but as far as connecting with actual readers, rather than just followers, I would have to say Facebook has been most helpful.
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
My advise for any upcoming or aspiring writers would be to do it for the love of it. Don’t expect a big pay day, don’t write to try to make a living. Write because something deep in you needs out and don’t give up on it. Write for you and be equal parts honest and kind to yourself.
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
I have got lots on the radar. My debut novel “The Wages of Grace” is complete, save one last round of nit-picky edits and cover art. I am hoping to release it in the fall or early next year. I’m also about 90% done with a rough draft on a work of Pride and Prejudice fan fiction, which I’ll be sharing some details about soon. I’ve got another novel in the oven and lots of ideas, so I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me again!

Cast No Shadow by Brandon Dragan Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A dark, perilous story that explores one man’s struggle to balance the horrors of war, family and the hunt for justice in an unjust world, author Brandon Dragan’s short story Cast No Shadow is a gripping tale that packs a punch in just a short amount of time. Here’s the synopsis:

Set deep in the heart of 1980’s Texas, Cast No Shadow tells the harrowing tale of Vietnam veteran, husband, and father, Beau Moreland. By day he helps his elderly neighbors and watches his son’s baseball practice; by night he hunts drug gangs. In his quest for justice and a more peaceful life for his loved ones, Beau inadvertently sets off an unstoppable chain of events which will hurtle his family toward a startling and breath-taking conclusion.

The story was incredibly engaging. It showcased the struggle many veterans face coming home from war and seeing the horrors the nation they fought so hard to protect are enduring on their own front doors. In a unique twist that kind of blends stories like Breaking Bad with The Punisher, we see Beau take on criminals while still profiting from his vigilante work, and how the danger he comes into contact with slowly begins to infect his daily life at home.

It also does a great job of exploring the impact we have on our children as a whole, and the way profiling and judgement can lead to trouble no one would ever expect. The writing was incredibly powerful and captured the essence of the story perfectly. The setting and imagery was incredibly vivid, and by story’s end you were left wanting more of Beau and his story, hoping to delve deeper into this amazing character and his backstory more.

Overall I thought this short story was brilliant. It was an evenly paced short tale of intrigue, action, and heart-pounding thrills that very few short stories manage to capture. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of Cast No Shadow by Brandon Dragan today!

Rating: 10/10

About Brandon

brandon dragan author photo 01

Brandon Dragan grew up in New Jersey, just miles from the Lincoln Tunnel.

At eighteen he left home to attend Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

He draws on a wide range of influences—from literature, to history, to philosophy—to craft meaningful and often surprising narratives that challenge the status-quo and reach for a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.

Brandon and his wife Jami live in the Nashville area with their two daughters, Natalie and Brooklyn.

He enjoys road cycling and is an avid supporter of Arsenal Football Club.

Links:

brandondragan.com

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This Side of Paradise by TK Olsen Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Once in a while you come across an author who is able to engage an audience in a matter of just a few simple pages, and that’s what we have today. Author TK Olsen has brought to life an incredible story of two men from very different cultures who find their own personal paradise in the short story This Side of Paradise. Here’s the synopsis:

“Huritt looked gorgeous in his suit, albeit very out of place. He had lovely tan skin, a color only Jin could dream of achieving, and dark brown eyes, lighter than Jin’s almost black ones. They both had short, messy dark-brown, almost black hair, and Huritt was just a tad taller than Jin; however, that wasn’t much as Jin was blessed with being almost six feet in the height department. Huritt also had calloused hands and strong lines of his face, smoothed out by the softness of his skin and slight roundness of his cheeks. Jin hadn’t really experienced races outside of his own, this really was his first time meeting a Native person in real life; however, he was drawn to the male in ways that made his heart soared and his father’s legacy cry. Huritt was beyond gorgeous and Jin’s father was going to kill him.”

The story of two boys and how they found their side of paradise.

The story was very thought-provoking and entertaining. The story of Jin and Huritt is amazing to watch unfold, bringing a natural and emotional LGBTQ romance to life while exploring two people who fall in love despite their very different cultural upbringings. It showcases the struggle members of the LGBTQ community go through when living in a culture or family that abhors people who simply want to love who they love, and the struggle to find happiness and peace while living in that kind of hostile environment that forces young people to repress who they really are.

It’s a very impactful story that is also a quick read, coming in at only 18 pages or so. Yet in that short amount of time you come to know Jin intimately and see his struggle and his passion for Huritt come to life. These characters are so engaging that you will be left wanting to explore their lives even more, and that’s what true storytelling is all about. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copies of TK Olsen’s This Side of Paradise today!

Rating: 10/10

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