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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Welcome to my blog Adam.  Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about yourself and your book, Cell Wars – The Battle For Brian

Q. Tell us about your latest worktitle, genre, etc. and why you wrote it?
A.  I blame my diet. You see I edit two health magazines and so believe in the power of nature I started “juicing” raw fruit and veg, which gave birth to … and some strange behaviour in my head! My mind suddenly found renewed energy, like Lewis Carroll on speed. OK a dry martini or two of an evening may have helped, but suddenly this peculiar story was spilling into my laptop at an astonishing rate.

Oh, beg pardon, you asked about title and genre. It’s called Cell Wars, a reference to what happens when we don’t treat our bodies right. Yup, we’re talking cancer here so it may surprise many people that this novel is an attempt at humour. A little bit of education, too. All in a science fiction wrapper, I suppose, because it all takes place inside an accountant called Brian.

Am I losing you? I blame the juice, or the martinis, or both. Besides it’s difficult to explain except to say it’s probably the world’s first health book that’s actually a novel.

Q.   What draws you to your genre(s)? Why is this type of story compelling to you?
A.  I have edited several health magazines in my time as a journalist, and my wife and I have a library of thousands, half of which is categorised “health”. These are pretty much all dry, science-based books on body systems and nutrition. Not one novel until your eye falls on my Historical Fiction shelves.

Now I confess that I’m not good at reading non-fiction. I like historical novels, science fiction, a ripping yarn. And one day while I was researching the role of probiotics in the intestines, how the “good guys” are fighting a losing battle against the baddies in the average Western diet, that I decided to get right down there with them (figuratively speaking) and have a look-see at how the war was proceeding.

After several days of pure liquid nutrition topped with those miraculous martinis I realised the story was virtually writing itself and I had stumbled upon the “Protectorate”, the minuscule guardians that live inside each one of us, all of them quirky, full of character and mostly loveable. Except that in this “Host’s” case, they were about to face the battle of their comfortable lives because a team of cancer terrorists had sneaked in the back door, so to speak.

Q.  What is your writing process like? Do you map the whole thing out or do you just let it unfold?
A.  Ah, the writing process. I have written 2.5 historical novels (under my real name, Alistair Forrest, These require a lot of research and I check facts as I go. My first novel “Libertas” took a year to write, my second, “Goliath”, six months. My third (and best in my opinion) is unfinished as yet.

But Cell Wars took just a few weeks. This is because I already have a grounding in body systems, but also because Cell Wars is very short at 25,000 words and – sorry about this folks – the characters are all made up thus requiring zero fact-checking. And yes, the story told itself. I was astonished how many words flowed each evening. I just let my fingers do their stuff on the keyboard and read the story as it leapt onto the screen. Amazing. My wife, children and the gardener read bits as the story developed and were all very kind. They could have sent for the men in white coats.

Q.   What kind of research was involved in writing your book?
A.   I am privileged to have a wife who buys every health book going, to work in an industry full of wonderful people who all want to share their knowledge of natural health, and to have lived a good proportion of my life under the influence of a Mediterranean diet. But I am no angel, and I know the pitfalls of stress, working long hours, Western diet and potentially harmful over-indulgence (ask any journalist about that). In other words, life itself has been my research for Cell Wars.

Q.   How much of YOU makes it into your characters?
A.   A lot. Not just me, but many of the people I love or admire. There are heroes and villains. I fall into both of those categories, I like to think, my past demonstrating more of the latter. But I say that with a twinkle in my eye, a bit like the hero of Cell Wars.

Q.   How do you balance the need to have time to write with the needs of family, society, etc.?
A.  I haven’t written in either genre for a year now, and it hurts. The reason is that my wife and I have moved house and country in the most trying of times and true to form we have spent all of our time and resources on restoring a fabulous Guest House on top of the Long Mynd in Shropshire, UK. Both of us eagerly await completion so we can enjoy our family and the company of our friends, and resume doing the things we love most – writing, photography, art and socialising.

Q.   Have there been any authors in particular, that inspired your writing?
A.  In historical fiction, good old Bernard Cornwell, plus names from the past like Mary Renault and Mary Teresa Ronalds. For Cell Wars, most definitely the artist at The Beano who invented the Numskulls! That brilliant comic strip about the little people inside Edd Case was my starting point, so that was my inspiration I guess. Terry Pratchett of course and Lewis Carroll too – you’ll see several throwbacks to Alice in Wonderland in Cell Wars.

Q.   Is there a story you want to tell behind or about your work(s)?
A.   I was digging a hole in the garden of our house in Monda, Spain, when we moved there in 2005. Suddenly my spade clanged on an old chest. Inside was a suit of armour, all burnished bronze, plumed helmet, short sword the lot. At the bottom of the chest was a fading Polaroid of the owner wearing his outfit, signed “Gaius Julius Caesar”. So, realising I was living on the site of an ancient battlefield, I wrote my first novel, Libertas, based on Caesar’s last battle (Munda, 45BCE).

Q.  What other projects are you currently working on or about to start?
A.  Alistair Forrest wants to finish Shamash, the story of a youth exiled after the fall of Samaria who returns to his homeland as an Assyrian diplomat.
Adam Fox wants to write a further 30 novels in the Cell Wars series and become Terry Pratchett.

Q.  Could you share some of your marketing strategies?  Which ones are the most effective in your opinion?
A.  I used to own a PR company so you would think I could do this. But I am lousy at promoting myself. When I have time I’ll be active on several groups, create Facebook pages, Tweet, do Pinterest, get more Linkedin, do book signings and generally make a nuisance of myself.

But I’d really love it if the world would come to me instead.

Q.  What would be the top five, (or 3 or 1 or however many) things you would tell aspiring authors?
1. Are you mad?
2. Do you want to be broke?
3. Looking forward to losing your hair?
4. And all those agent rejections?
5. What are you waiting for?

Again, thanks Adam for taking the time to share your knowledge with us. We appreciate you and your work.

Good luck with your current and future publications.
For more information: 
Purchase:                      Amazon US Amazon UK       
Please go to the comments button below in white box next to the time to interact with our Author and other readers.

Friday, August 24, 2012

2nd Annual Back to the Book Giveaway Hop

Keep posted for lots of Exciting Events
Back to the Books Giveaway Hop 
September 1st to 7th
Don't miss this!
my next interview with 
Adam Fox on August 27th

Monday, August 13, 2012

I'll Put 3 Chips on God 
Leave a comment on Preeti's interview below
to be entered into drawing for a signed copy of:
 I’ll Put 3 Chips On God – just in case there is one

Welcome to my blog Preeti.  Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about yourself and your first book.

Q.  Preeti is an unusual name.  What is the origin?
A.  It is of Indian origin and it means “love” or “affection”. 

Q. Tell us about your latest work—title, genre, etc.
A.  My newly published book is called I’ll Put 3 Chips On God – just in case there is one.  The book is about Spirituality, analyzed from an agnostic point of view.  I take a look at common spiritual concepts such as the Ego, the Soul, Karma, Detachment, Heaven, God, Meditation, Vegetarianism, and Astrology, and examine them from an objective, “devil’s advocate” point of view.  In other words, I analyze these ideas from all angles, including the possibility that they are valid, and the possibility that they are not.  I do come to some conclusions at the end of the book, but it is less about preaching and more about the use of logic when exploring Spirituality.

Q. What draws you to your genre(s)? Why is this type of story compelling to you?
A. Well, let’s seeI was getting close to my 40s, was in the middle of a divorce, and was realizing that my numerous entrepreneurial attempts were not working and I would have to return to the corporate world.  That was enough for me to dive headfirst into the lap of Spirituality!
When I did, I realized that a lot of existing material is written from a “purist” point of view, i.e. the idea of Karma or Detachment is not questioned, rather the focus is on how to incorporate these concepts into one’s life. I wanted to take a step back because I was not sure whether I even believed in these ideas in the first place. 
So I had to do my own analysis of all that I came across.  I wrote the book because I simply wanted to share whatever knowledge I’ve acquired with those who might think similarly to me. 
Q. What is your writing process like? Do you map the whole thing out or do you just let it unfold?
A. This is my first book, so my writing was pretty juvenile at first.  I had written short articles for local newspapers before, so I wasn’t a complete novice.  However writing a book is much more challenging.  There is more opportunity to ramble on and not be clear and concise when trying to make a point.  I tried writing my first draft almost three years ago, and it was awful.  I made another attempt a year later.  Then one day, I was reading a book that was written very naturally, with a lot of humor, and I realized that the “voice” of the author was similar to the “voice” in my head.  No, I was not a crazy person, what I mean is that the way he wrote was the way I thought.  And I realized that if I simply write whatever I am thinking, without trying to formalize or alter it too much, I can communicate much better.  So that’s what I did, and voila! . . . the words started flowing.

Q. What kind of research was involved?
A. None really.  I write this from an everyday, layman perspective. 
I had been exposed to all of these concepts as I was growing up, so there was a lot of learning that took place indirectly in the past.  But when it came time to write the book, I simply presented whatever thoughts and questions had accumulated over the years.  There was almost no research done for this, except for me referring constantly to the Thesaurus to avoid sounding like a repetitious parrot with a three word vocabulary!

Q.  Is there any part of your Indian heritage that has influenced your writing?
A. As I mentioned, a lot of the discussions that I bring to the book stem from my background.  We weren’t a particularly religious household, but I did attend a fair number of lectures, celebrations, and temples as a child.  As you will see from reading the book, I do make a lot of references to Hindu and Buddhist beliefs because those are what I’ve learned and analyzed over the years. And while I come to the conclusion that many of them seem logical, I also cover those I don’t find to be so, like the ability to wear precious gems or special colors to ward off negative energy.  Or Meditation which seems a great idea in theory (and I know genuinely works for others), but is a practice I’ve never been able to master.

Q. What would be some advice you would give to aspiring authors?
A. Give yourself time to “forget” the manuscript while writing.  It was REALLY tempting to just edit quickly and get the book out.  It’s exciting to see your name in print, after all.  However I made myself resist, and took the time to set aside the book for 2-3 months between edits.  That really made a world of difference as to how I was able to revise and improve the book. 

Q. Could you share some of your marketing strategies?  Which ones are the most effective in your opinion?
A. I’m planning to offer the printed copy to some local bookstores on consignment.  In addition, I’ve done some postings on a few booklover sites, and I’ve also posted a fundraising project on a few crowdfunding sites.  My objective was not to raise money, truthfully, I did it to expose the book to people.  It worked in that I got a few supporters who learned about the book through those campaigns and are now interested in reading it.

However I don’t really plan to do much more in the way of marketing.  I am not even sure I’ll be writing another book, unless this does well and people want me to expand on what I’ve presented.  I always had it in my mind to write this particular book, because I felt I had something to say on the topic.  But it was one of those things I thought I’d do in retirement or “later”.  It wasn’t actively on my agenda.  However the Universe presented a set of circumstances that led me to have the time and desire to write the book now.  So I did.  Where the book goes after this, and how well it does, I will leave to destiny, and to God!

(If there is one.)

Q.  Any closing remarks?
A.  I’d love to offer a complimentary copy of the EBook to your readers, downloadable at:
There are also some excerpts available to read on the site.  I am very interested in hearing everyone’s feedback, so I hope they will take the time to write me, or to post an honest review on Amazon.  It would mean a lot.
Lastly, I want to thank you for taking the time to learn about the book, and for the opportunity to introduce myself.   I’ve enjoyed sharing my experiences.

Thanks Preeti for taking the time to share your knowledge with us. We appreciate you and your work.
Good luck with your current and future publications.

READERS:  Do not forget to leave a comment and be entered in the drawing for a free, signed copy of 3Chips on God.  Preeti is generously offering two copies.  So leave a comment and contact details to enter the drawing.
For more information: 
Purchase:         Amazon, Barnes and Noble        
Please go to the comments button below in white box next to the time to interact with our Author and other readers.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Poison Pen

Detective Cheif Inspector Richard Hayward Returns
with The Poison Pen

Mum's next book is soon to be published!  Edits and work on cover art are going well!
Keep posted for further announcements. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Welcome to my blog Chris. I and my readers are intrigued to learn about your book Tears for the Mountain and your mission to Haiti.  Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and share your experiences.

Beautiful Haiti Sunset

Q.  Chris, is ‘Tears for the Mountain’ your first book?
A.  Yes, Tears for the Mountain is my first book.

Q. Please tell us about your booktitle, genre, etc. and why you wrote it?
A.  Tears for the Mountain is a non-fiction book about a medical mission trip to Haiti in 2010 after the deadly earthquake there.  It is the story of a team I worked with whose job was to deliver 20,000 pounds of medical supplies to hospitals affected by the quake.  Along the way we dealt with gangs of roving bandits, heard heartbreaking stories of survival, and worked with a notorious Haitian warlord. 

I wrote the book because I wanted to raise money for the orphanage in Port-au-Prince where we worked.  A portion of the proceeds goes to New Life Children’s Home, which has been taking in children from the streets since the 80’s.  I also wanted people to get a feeling for what relief work is really like.  It’s not a book that says “look at all the wonderful things I’ve done, I’m a great person.”  It just covers what something like this feels like, including the bad, the ugly, and the
Haiti after Earthquake 2010
Q.   What draws you to your genre(s)? Why is this type of story compelling to you?
A.   When I started thinking about writing the book I researched what else had been written about Haiti, and I was disappointed to find that there were either fictional stories that included the earthquake or books written by high-level people.  No one had put together a piece on what it was like working on the ground.  It is one thing to read the UN envoy’s thoughts on the disaster, but it’s another to read what it was like to be working in the post-disaster environment.

The story is compelling to me for two reasons: first is that is raises money for orphans.  To me, that really is the most important part of the book.  The second thing is that the book just gives an honest look at what relief work is like, and I try to place the reader in my shoes during the journey.  Part of my writing style is to describe the settings in as much detail as possible, and I’ve received a lot of feedback from readers that said they felt as though they were there with us.

Q.  What is your writing process like? Do you map the whole thing out or do you just let it unfold?
A.  The writing process for this book is a lot different from a novel.  Since its non-fiction, you don’t have the option of adding pieces that didn’t happen; you are bound by fact.  Because of that, I was able to base the book around notes I took when I was in-country.  I usually keep a log or journal when I travel, and it’s been helpful for me when I’m trying to remember the name of the town I went mountain climbing in Mongolia or the restaurant in Nice I went to for my honeymoon.  So it made sense to me to keep a journal when I was in Haiti, and I based a lot of my information on those notes.

I was also fortunate that Dr. Stephen Schroering, the orthopedic surgeon in the book, was able to go over the manuscript prior to publication.  It really helped to tell a story that more than one person lived through.

Q.   What kind of research was involved in writing your book?
A.   Going to Haiti during a disaster. 

One interesting thing about the book was reconciling what we heard/saw on the ground with what the ‘official’ reports were like after.  For example, there was a big scandal that an aid agency had been smuggling children from Haiti to the Dominican Republic.  The UN found out about it and came down hard on the aid agencies.  The news was broken by a major news outlet – CNN or someone else big.  But when we were on the ground, I heard leaders of other aid agencies saying that these guys had been doing this for years, that the UN knew about it, and that it was only a big deal because someone was putting it in the news.  That made for interesting research a year later when I started writing because I had a degree of doubt as to what was accurate and what was the official story that the major agencies were telling. 

Q.   How much of YOU makes it into your characters?
A.   A great deal.  I normally try to keep myself out of books, but in this case it was impossible.  This experience did make me enjoy writing about settings I have been to before, which is something I have used in my other books.  This book is very different, however, and it is all about one world event seen through my eyes.

Q.   How do you balance the need to have time to write with the needs of family, society, etc.?
A.  You know, if you love writing, you’ll make time for it. You have to enjoy the creative process more than watching ‘Project Runway’ or else you’ll decide to spend your time watching TV instead of writing.  It’s all about priorities, and you have to decide what is most important to you.  I use all my spare time to write – when I’m in the shower, I’m thinking about the next scene I need to put down.  When I drive, I’m thinking about the holes in the plot of the book I’m outlining.  And whenever I have 10 minutes free, I’m on my laptop putting down words.  You just have to be disciplined about it.

Q.   Have there been any authors in particular, that inspired your writing?
A.   I probably re-read “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller every year.  I also have great admiration for Herman Woulk’s work, which still is gripping and captivating half a century later.  Any book that grips me and makes me want to read more than eat or sleep interests me.

Q.   Is there a story you want to tell behind or about your work(s)?
A.   Dr. Schroering and I had lunch a few months back and he was telling me about another trip he took to Haiti this year.  He had been trying to meet up with a priest who is also a physician in Haiti, and on this trip they had the chance to connect.  When Dr. Schroering arrived, the priest was in the middle of mass, and there were 4 bodies laid out in the middle of the church.  He realized it was a funeral mass, so he waited quietly until everything was done and the service was over.  When he met the priest he said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know you had a funeral today.”  The priest replied, “This is Haiti.  Every day I have a funeral.” 

I think everyone forgets what the situation is like on the ground there, and I am hopeful that this book is a reminder that people still need your help.

Q.  Have you been back to Haiti since your mission of mercy in 2010?
A.  I haven’t been back to Haiti since, but I have done a great deal of work with some of the children that we met on that trip.  Dr. Schroering and I worked to bring back a young boy whose legs were infected by wounds caused by sickle cell anemia.  The hospital where we worked had one of the best wound care centers in the nation, and we were able to get him treatments to heal his legs.  If he had not had access to the hyperbaric oxygen treatments there, both of his legs would have been amputated.

Q.  Do you have continued contact with New Life Children’s Home in Haiti?

A.  I do.  Miriam is hard to get a hold of because she is always on the go, but fortunately I am able to speak with her and Dr. Schroering.  Social Media also makes it really easy to keep track of them because you can go on Miriam’s Facebook page and see where she is.  It makes me giggle when I think that most people use FB to show what movies they’re going to or what night clubs, and here’s Miriam showing what part of the mountains of Haiti she’s in, and she’s posting pictures of her and children being rescued.

Q.  Has any particular child or children, of all who you met at the orphanage, had an impact of your life?
A.  This might sound like a cop-out, but they all have an impact on you.  I mean, when you see a 9-year old who has just had his leg amputated and is learning to walk on crutches, you can’t avoid feeling something.  Every child who told me about their parents dying, babies who were scarred for life from the earthquake…they’re images that you can’t forget, and they’re people you can’t stop wanting to help.

Q.  Please tell us how your experience has changed you?
A.  There are a lot of things that changed.  First is that I can never look at another story about relief work the same way again.  It’s not glamorous; there aren’t these wonderful experiences that play out like a Hollywood movie.  It’s hard work, you are dirty and tired, and it’s an emotional rollercoaster.  I’m not sure why we always try and make stories out to be more than they are, but for some reason, we try to make relief work seem perfect, and it’s not.  There are a lot of mistakes that NGOs and governments make, and we should be willing to acknowledge them and try to fix them. 
I also learned that there are some pretty wonderful people in the world, and some pretty awful people in the world.  The media members that I met who were there to get a story and not to help really made me sick.  When I think about them, I actually still get physically angry.  There is a fundamental human emotion to help those you see who are in trouble, and the members of the media who were there just didn’t display that. They showed a complete lack of compassion or caring for their fellow human beings, and frankly, I will always be disgusted by that.  On the flipside, seeing people who dedicate their lives to helping strangers is a religious experience.  When I say that Miriam Frederick is the Mother Theresa of Haiti, it’s not just a tag line.  I really mean that she is someone who is a wonderful example of what each of us should strive to be every day.
The last thing that I think changed within me was my view on American society.  Before I went to Haiti, it dominated the news, and it was all anyone was talking about.  When I returned, it was as though someone had changed the channel and we were talking about other things, but for me, I couldn’t get over what I saw there.  I was really sad that we, as a people, have moved to this culture where we move from topic to topic quickly instead of seeing things through.  I fully understand that most people couldn’t find Haiti on a map or tell you more than 3 facts about the country, but it just bothers me that millions of people donated money, pretended to care about what was happening, and then forgot the next day.  We need to have better character than that and see things through to completion.

Q.  You say you have ‘taken a break to write fiction’; do you plan on another similar mission and subsequent book?
A.  Did Dr. Schroering pay you to ask that?  Every time I have lunch with him, he asks me the same thing!  When I think about writing non-fiction, I want to write stories that have a purpose, that I can connect with, and that develop naturally.  The idea of going to Haiti to write a second book seems a little…forced to me.  I’m sure it would be a good book and it would sell and have lots of good information in it, but there’s just some part of me that feels it would be wrong to do that way.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think non-fiction has to develop organically, and if it turns out that I went to Haiti with Dr. Schroering again and felt compelled to write a book, I would.  But I can’t plan on it happening.  You can’t plan your life-changing events.

Q.  What other projects are you currently working on or about to start?
A.  I have taken a break from non-fiction and am writing a 4 book fictional series.  The thing I like most about fiction is that you can just make it up!  If someone says, “Hey…that can’t really happen like that,” you can tell them it’s just fiction.  It’s a liberty I did not have with Tears for the Mountain.

Q.  Which is more satisfying, writing non-fiction or fiction?
A.  That’s like asking whether homemade apple pie or homemade ice cream is better!  They’re both fantastic, and I find writing both of them satisfying, but in different ways.  Fiction is satisfying because it is creative.  Fiction is the depths of imagination.  Fiction is trying to weave a story where there was nothing before, forging your own path on a blank page.  The only guide when you write fiction is the picture in your mind, and the limits are just what you can dream.  Non-fiction is beautiful because it is a reflection of life.  It is real.  There are no exaggerations, no Hollywood gimmicks to make you feel something artificial.  Non-fiction happened.  It is much harder to write, and every sentence is a struggle because you have to ask yourself, “Is this 100% true?  Can someone misinterpret what I’m saying here?”  With fiction, none of that matters because you’re making it all up!  If you write a novel and someone says, “Hey…that can’t happen!” you just tell them, “Dude…its fiction.” 
Writing each has its own pleasure and pain, but if I had to choose one, it would be non-fiction, with a slice of apple pie on the side.
Q.  Could you share some of your marketing strategies?  Which ones are the most effective in your opinion?
A.  This book has been successful mostly by word-of-mouth.  I was lucky enough to get CBS to do a story on the book, and I think we have a nice promotional video that shows what Haiti really looks like – not just the devastation, but also how beautiful it is.  But really, having people go out and tell their friends and family about the book is the best thing.

Q.  What would be the top five, (or 3 or 1 or however many) things you would tell aspiring authors?
A.  I would first tell people to ask why they want to be an author and what they think they’re going to get from it.  I have had a few people tell me that they want to quit their jobs and write, and I hate to burst their bubbles and tell them that there are few full-time writers who make good money.  For most writers, it’s a one or two-project thing that will not fully support them.  So if it’s an escape from your current situation, it’s a long shot.

The second thing I would tell aspiring authors is that they need to write.  Don’t get stuck in over-editing work.  Don’t get me wrong – it needs to be edited and look professional, but for me, writing new material is the most important thing.  This business is all about having new books/articles/stories being published, and you can’t do that if you spend 7 years on the same book. 

The last thing I would mention is that you need to just keep going.   It’s not uncommon to get hundreds of rejection letters before you have one person even acknowledge your existence.  Just push through it and keep querying. 

Again, thanks Chris for taking the time to share your book, thoughts, and experiences with us. We appreciate you and your work.  I understand that you have a new book ready for release ‘The 8th Doll’.  Congratulations and good luck with your current and future publications.

For more information: 
Email:                 E-mail:                       
Purchase:           Amazon, BN, Book Depository    
Please go to the comments button below in white box next to the time to interact with our Author and other readers.