Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: A Guest post with Mary Lawlor

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Hello readers, a little bit of a reposting today with the fantastic Mary Lawlor. Myself and Mary have been working together on a couple of bits and bobs recently and she kindly asked whether I would re-post our brilliant article on her book The Fighter Pilot’s Daughter (with a couple of adjustments to give you a little more information!) Enjoy and if you want a beautifully written story  that will really pull on your heart strings use the links below and bag yourself a copy!

If you were to describe your book in three sentences what would you say? (They can be long sentences!)

It’s a story about my life as the daughter of a military pilot who was often away from home and dramatizes the ways the Cold War sifted down into our household. The climax of the story comes with me getting caught up in the heat of the student uprisings in Paris when my father was in Vietnam. The story concludes with our reconciliation: we found our way back to each other as the Cold War ended.

What was the most important thing you learnt during writing this book? How did you feel when the book was completed?

I realized what a problem I was—a pain in the neck, really—for my parents during those really tense years. For decades I’d thought of my mother and father as the bad guys, but in writing the book I came to see that they were afraid for me; and that I was difficult for them to talk to and refused to get along with them.

Is there anything in the book you wish you had changed now that it’s out there in the world – (I love this question!)

I’d give more attention to my sisters. They’re very interesting, imaginative people, but they have their own ways of understanding and remembering our life as a family. As much as I’d like to have included more about them in my book, I have to respect their separate visions.

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 Could you give us an insight into your writing process?

I try to listen to the words moving around in my head. In hearing things said in my family all those years ago, I probably didn’t get them exactly as they were in fact uttered, but I really did hear them. Once they were written down, more memories came; and when those were written, more came still…

Is there a message in your novel that you wanted your readers to grasp?

I wanted to show how complicated military families can be—how the members of a given family don’t necessarily hold the same views about military culture itself. I wanted readers to see the crazy trajectories Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine kids are made to follow and the difficulties of finding yourself in those situations. I wanted to tell my mother’s story, of how it was for her making, unmaking, remaking the household and her self every time we moved. And for my father I wanted to show the human side of a professional warrior. Very difficult.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

On my website: http://www.marylawlor.net

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So there you go a little bit of an insight into Mary’s book and the fantastic writing that this author does and why. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mark number of times now to promote her books and she’s a really brilliant author with a lot of passion.

On a side-note: this will become my usual review date. Unfortunately my plan to get the blog up and running a little more smoothly has been put on the back-burner. I’m tempted to wait until Christmas to really get everything back up and running again but I hope you’re enjoying the little bits and bobs I’m posting for now.

Links for Mary Lawlor’s Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War

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Mary Lawlor’s website

Website Page Fighter Pilot’s Daughter

Amazon

Facebook

Goodreads

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Fear’s Revenge by Lynn Case: A guest post for MLBB

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Hellllo readers hope you’re well – I apologise that the blog has been a little off for a while there’s a reason for that and it’s also the reason they’ve been a lot more guest postings but I will get into this. I currently have very little internet and unfortunately before that day came that the internet just wasn’t there I had quite a few scheduled up to post so I apologise it’s been a little heavy on guest postings recently. Today I have a fantastic guest post from Lynn Case and it’s a brilliant interview so I hope you won’t mind! Enjoy 😀

Tell us a bit about yourself:

Well, I’m, just a country girl at heart, I have lived most of my life in California.  Except for a few years spent in Alaska while my husband, Dan, was serving in the U.S. Army. We have two grown children and many pets. Multiple dogs, cats and a very curious cockatoo named Clyde. I love to cook, if you follow my blog on my website www.lynncasebooks.com you will see a few recipes that I like to share and I love to write.  I don’t always make public the things I write, but some I do.

We have traveled across the country and have visited thirty eight states in the U.S. some multiples times.  Through our travels is where I get some of the inspirations for my stories. Writing short stories here and there while growing up, being a private person, I never shared my writings, even with close friends or family.   Much less allow them to be made public.  I was strongly encouraged to publish my first novel, Fear’s Revenge in September 2013.

I received tremendous feedback from readers so I decided to release my second novel, Return to Lily Cove in March 2014 and just his past August I released my third novel, Gabrielle, lost and I am currently working on my fourth novel in the series, Feathers in the Wind.  Hopefully, I can get this one done and released in early 2016.

Who or What inspired you to start writing this book?

I kept having scene run through my mind and after a few days of it repeating itself I decided to start writing them down.  Day after day until the first book was done.  Then it was onto the next story.

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What three words would you use to describe this book?

Roller coaster ride, maybe? That’s what one reader said about it.  I really liked that description. 

Who is your target group for this book?

My books are about women in their late 30’s.  Because basically us women are never older than that, right ladies?  So my target group is women 18 and over.  I feel that some of the chapters are a little graphic, so I wouldn’t recommend them for younger audiences. 

Tell us about this book.

Allison Symms had forgotten everything about that night over twenty years ago.  The night she was held captive in an old cabin in the woods. Last thing she can remember is running through the woods and crashing head on into something, falling back knocking herself unconscious.

She doesn’t remember anything about that night until one day she gets knocked over by a city bus taking a turn to sharp and hits her head against a flower planter and goes unconscious once again.  Then she begins to have horrific nightmares and flashbacks to events that she can’t remember.

After seeing her therapist and undergoing hypnosis, all is revealed about the lost events of that one traumatic night. Allison decides to take the law into her own hands and take Fears Revenge on the four boys that held her captive.

As each detailed step of revenge Allison takes against, Cole, Tyler, Tony and Bobby she is beginning the healing and growing process in more ways than she bargained for. 

Do you have a favorite chapter from this book?

In Fears Revenge my favorite chapter is definitely chapter 15.  I think I was laughing the whole time I was writing the main scene. 

What do you hope people will gain from reading this book?

Well, I hope they enjoy reading my novels for stories themselves.  I do hope the readers ultimately get the message that regardless of what or how your life has turned out we make our life what we want.  If we don’t like what we have been dealt with in life, we have the inner power and strength to change it.  

Is your book in Print, ebook or both?

All my novels are available in print in perfect bound, hard bound and in ebook for those readers to download on their iPads, tablets and smart phone.

What advice would you give to other Writers?

Write, just write.  Write it down.  Whatever comes to mind, it may not make sense to you right now, but later on it might.  Just keep writing, never give up something you love doing.

 Tell us the link where potential readers can buy this book.

My books re available pretty much everywhere.  Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Books, Xlibris and my website www.lynncasebooks.com 

Any additional links?

My website :  www.lynncasebooks.com

Facebook :  https://www.facebook.com/Lynncasebooks/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/lynncasebooks

Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcq2uOH7XoyU8P6UEBvaCqw

 Is there anything else you would like to share about this book?

 Yes, It has been reviewed and had a Hollywood Coverage completed and is available for movie or television.

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So there we go readers – a fantastic interview with a really fantastic author. Have a wonderful Tuesday and I hope you enjoy the post later today too!

 

Street Preacher by Aaron Davis

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Helllo readers, cheeky little Sunday posting for you. I’ve got a really exciting post for you next week which I’m going to be typing up tomorrow *eeee* but for now, a really super lovely guest post from Aaron Davis and the book Street Preacher.

When John begins shouting his sermons in the middle of crowded downtown sidewalks, his only goal is to collect enough money for some food and a place to sleep.

. . . INSTEAD . . .

. . . he finds himself on the path to faith, a path that may cost him more than he ever imagined.

Can you describe your book to my readers in three ish sentences?

Street Preacher is somewhat inspired by Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood” That is to say, I was reading that a lot while I wrote my novel. Mine, however, is about the struggle to find faith beyond just simply saying “I believe” or affiliating with a church. This struggle is observed by various characters that each reflect different views of faith. There is John who is the protagonist. George who has no faith. Marty who is a sort of jaded, ministry-worn sort of Christian. Jennifer is an idealist. And Walter usually comes into the book to speak truth, though he is not without his faults.


Who is your favourite character from the book and why?

My favorite character is Walter, because he authentically loves others despite his own homeless situation. It was tempting to make him perfect so I had to add a bit of pride to him, but I think that is common. Even at our best, we all struggle somewhere.

Is there anything in the book you wish you had changed now that it’s out there in the world; a different sub-plot or maybe a new character completely? (I love asking this question!)

If I were to add more to this book, I would have developed Marty a little more. He runs the shelter, so he cares, but he also has an almost jaded view from working there so long

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So is this the only book in the series? (Or will there be more?)

This book is not part of a series, no.

Do you have any other books, or plans to write more?

I have two other projects in the works.  I am writing a book of my own struggles with depression and I am writing a novel about a police detective tracking down a serial killer. The theme of that book is vengeance vs justice.

Where can my readers follow more of your writing?

People can learn all about my writing, plus read blogs and poetry at www.authoraarondavis.com

So there we go, a lovely little post with the author Aaron Davis! Have a fantastic evening and thank you to this wonderful author for letting me feature his book on MLBB!

Links

Amazon

 

 

Madam President: The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson by William Hazelgrove

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Hellllllo readers, it’s the weekend and I’m currently in Loughborough watching the X Factor  whilst typing this and I haven’t seen anyone I like yet? Is this something everyone feels (just a note it’s the only thing I can find that is entertaining but not distracting) because I have a fantastic post to share with you. I’m here today with the brilliant William Hazelgrove and his brilliant book Madam President: The Secret Presidency.

After President Woodrow Wilson suffered a paralyzing stroke in the fall of 1919, his wife, First Lady Edith Wilson, began to handle the day-to-day responsibilities of the Executive Office. Mrs. Wilson had had little formal education and had only been married to President Wilson for four years; yet, in the tenuous peace following the end of World War I, Mrs. Wilson dedicated herself to managing the office of the President, reading all correspondence intended for her bedridden husband.

Though her Oval Office authority was acknowledged in Washington, D.C. circles at the time–one senator called her “the Presidentress who had fulfilled the dream of suffragettes by changing her title from First Lady to Acting First Man”–her legacy as “First Woman President” is now largely forgotten.

If you had to describe your book to an alien species what would you say?

I would say my book is about the real first woman President who ruled the country from 1919 to 1921. Her name was Edith Wilson and her husband had a stroke and the public was never told. She took over with only two years of school and having only been married to the president for four years.

Where do your ideas come from?

Reading about Historical events gives me a lot of my ideas.

Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

I prefer just to let the ideas take me along. I keep an open notebook to sketch out the days next scene.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Finding the time

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

The Research – it’s a time consuming part of writing a historically based book.

Finally, where can me readers keep an eye on you and your work?

You can visit www.williamhazelgrove.com or follow me on twitter @rocketman46 

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So there you go a lovely little interview with a fantastic author – if you fancy getting a hold of the book you can click here. Otherwise have a fantastic weekend lovely readers. 

Unexpected: Short Stories from Around the World by P.F. Citizen One

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Hello readers, hope you’re well and having a fantastic Wednesday. I’ve got a hella load of news to share with you this week and I’m excited to get to it, but today I’ve also got a really brilliant interview with a new author friend of mine. I know there have been a lot of these recently – it’s a new thing I’m trying out and if it doesn’t work we’ll go back to the before but for now I’ll let the author introduce this wonderful set of short stories.

A series of short, true life stories, which are the product of the travels and observations of one man. The stories are a miscellaneous collection of the funny and sad, of tragedy, love and friendship. And they are all, in a way, unexpected.  

Unexpected takes you on a journey from a Brazilian working on the oil rigs of Venezuela, who gets the shock of his life, to the uplifting story of a Chinese beggar living on the streets, entertaining passers-by with his songs and surviving through the mercy and kindness of others.  

There is a story for each of us in this book. Each one is subtly different and each carries either a message of hope for lost, or of caution for the unwary.
Unexpected is just that. Just as life is and just as the course of our lives run, at times unexpectedly.

Unexpected: Short Stories from Around the World by [Citizen One, P.F.]

 If you had to describe your book as a whole in three sentences (they can be long sentences) what would they be? 

Unexpected is a collection of true life short stories my travels around the world and the people I have met. The book features seven thought-provoking, humorous and engaging stories that end with the most unlikely twist.

What was the inspiration for the selection of short stories? Why did you decide this instead of one continuous novel?

I have learned a lot about life from listening and being kind to people, as well as from stories others have shared with me. I actively listen, and often feel like I’ve heard these stories many times before, until I realize that each story is unexpected and instructive. These experiences have inspired me to write.

I wanted to write the type of stories that I would enjoy reading: true life stories. Short stories. At first, you feel like you’ve heard these stories many times before, until you read the ending. This is true life—unexpected.

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Can you tell us more about one story?

In one of the stories, The Wedding Contract, a man who was forced to sign a pre-nuptial agreement simply because his wife was wealthy and he was considered poor. As time went on, fortunes changed and the man became far wealthier than his wife. His wife and friends dreaded the worst from him because of his new financial position but what he did next was shocking.

Finally where can my readers keep up with you and your writing? 

You can keep up with me through my website or my Facebook page:

Website

Facebook page: Unexpected by Citizen ONE

Amazon link

So there we go, a fantastic set of exciting and interest stories all with a different twist or turn to keep you intrigued. Thank you so much to this fantastic author for letting me share a little more about his book and have a fantastic middle of week break readers!

Innocent Crook by D. E Rodgers

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Hello readers, fantastic post today for you from the brilliant D.E Rodgers, and his new book The Innocent Crook! Sounds like a little bit of an oxymoron but let’s go with it! I will let Rodgers introduce the book and let you know a little more about it – so let’s get stuck in.

“Innocent Crook” is an exciting story of about Jupiter, a teenage black kid caught between his mother and aunt, and the struggle to control their drug dealing business. Jupiter’s journey, from a scared teen looking out for his younger sister to a successful high school graduate with a Harvard scholarship, will inspire and move you.

“Innocent Crook” is about overcoming your circumstances, learning that family alone doesn’t define you and that the power to succeed is in all of us. A story about love, regret, determination, forgiveness and revenge that will keep you turning the pages for an exciting and unexpected conclusion.

“Innocent Crook” was named winner at the San Francisco Book Festival and Paris Book Festival for Best Unpublished Book.

Where did you get the idea for your most recent book.

This book was a passion project. Over a long period of talking to a woman on the train to San Francisco I learned about her life in foster care. Some of her experiences were good and some were bad. Her story led me to have the same discussion with others that I knew who grew up in foster care and from those stories “Innocent Crook” was born. Though fictional “Innocent Crook” is a powerful story about a young man struggling to achieve more out of life than being a criminal.

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How do you get inspired to write? Interacting with people and hearing about the lives of others. Plus seeing movies and reading books get my creative juices flowing.

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What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Freedom of expression and freedom to be creative. I love being imaginative, thinking outside the box, and creating characters.

What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

If you are truly a writer never let someone else kill your writing dreams.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

Good question. What I do is typically stop trying to write and do something else to take my mine off of what I’m writing about. Go exercise or go play with my kids. Have fun. When the time to write again hits you return and knockout that masterpiece.

So there we go a fantastic book and a fantastic author – if you want to know more here are all the links to all of his platforms for you to take a closer look! Have a fantastic day readers!

 LINNNNNNKS 

Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War

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Hello readers, hope you’re well I have a fantastic guest post today with Mary and her brilliant book. I hope you’re enjoying these insights into different authors and their books because they’ve all be wonderful – please leave a lovely comment below and see the links below to follow Mary’s social media platforms below!

My memoir, Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War (Rowman and Littlefield), came out in hardback two years ago and was reissued in paperback eight months ago. I structured the “plot” of my family’s life chronologically, with the focus alternating between the larger picture of the Cold War, the more intimate dramas of our gypsy household, and the private convolutions of my own psychological development. These were very different stories, and each demanded its own kind of research.

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For the larger picture of the Cold War, I had lots of books and articles at my disposal. Studying histories of the Cold War as a professor had given me a lot of background material for the book. Spending time with the wars of the twentieth century wasn’t pleasant. Those are bloody stories for anybody, but for me they brought back memories of hard times at home. With the names—Eisenhower, Kennedy, Diem—and the places—Vietnam, Moscow, Havana—came recollections of base housing, where we waited for Dad to come home and hoped he was okay. Apart from the emotional edginess, though, this kind of research was relatively straightforward.

For the stories of my own family, the sources were more complicated. First of all, my father had never told us anything. Like other military dads then and now, he was committed to a code of secrecy about the missions he was involved in. He took those secrets to his grave. And he chose not share with my sisters and me those episodes he could relate: they were too violent or frightening in some other way that might shock our young (and girlish) ears. I have reason to think he did tell these stories to my boy cousins and perhaps to my mother; but she too was very circumspect and kept them to herself if she knew them.

What I did have from my Dad was a substantial collection of letters he wrote. And a lot of military records ended up in my mother’s files after my Dad passed away. Those provided a crucial map of the very complicated chronology of his career and definitive, if cryptic, indications of where he went and what the missions were.

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But much was missing nevertheless. My Dad was a good letter writer, but he would go for long periods of time without communicating anything. During his first tour in Vietnam, for example, there was a six-month period when we didn’t hear from him at all. My sisters and I had nightmares and my mother worried constantly. Eventually we heard from the Red Cross that he was alright. It was still a while before we heard from him directly. I describe the effects of all this on my psyche in the book, but for the purpose of building the narrative it meant I had to try to sort out the speculative from the factual in family rumors (still circulating) about where Dad was and what he was doing those months he was in the dark.

 My mother, of course, was another resource for the story of our family. She was a great story-teller. A striking character herself, she gave dramatic accounts of my Dad, his friends, the extended family, and my sisters and me as kids. But she was unreliable. She loved the story more than anything, and the truth sometimes suffered from this.I interviewed her over a period of several months—this was a few years before I wrote the memoir—and learned a great deal about our early years that I hadn’t known before. Much of it turned out to be accurate. When I checked on her versions of the larger history and her tales of my Dad’s work, however, I saw that in some instances she’d picked and chosen scenes and dialogues for their effectiveness in her story rather than as they had actually happened. I tried to make that in itself part of her portrait in Fighter Pilot’s Daughter—without dishonoring her memory.

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For the convolutions of my own psychological development, I had my girl-diaries, journals, and letters to consult. They brought back some of the crucial details of daily life in our household and in the scattered rooms and apartments I called home after leaving my parents’ care. The smells of particular kinds of paint or the odd placement of windows—these details can really bring life to a memoir, and I was grateful to my younger self for having kept a record of them.

But the greater pool of information lay in my memory banks. These in some cases were wide open, but in others not so much. For the harder memories, I had to sit with whatever I could clearly recall and wait for more to come. Sometimes it took days of going back and waiting. It was like courting somebody or, I imagine, being a therapist hoping a patient would come to see something crucial. Memories of my mother’s anger at me when I came home from college in Paris during a time when I was breaking away from the family ethics and beliefs came slow and with difficulty. What was even harder to get back was the recollection that finally emerged of her actually fearing me. She didn’t understand what influences I’d been exposed to in Paris and was frightened to know what they might mean. In the end, it was all much ado about nothing, but it was a hard picture to look at: my own mother, afraid of me.

Living in memory as continuously as I did during the writing of Fighter Pilot’s Daughter introduced a rich practice in my life. The more I remembered, the more I remembered; and writing was an important vehicle for drawing it out. The whole experience of going into the deep past of my youth has given the self-portrait I carry around with me a lot more dimension than before. On the other hand, all this the research—into the histories, letters, journals, interviews, and my own mind—not only made the book possible, but it worked like a kind of self-therapy: and a lead to several new understandings of myself as a fighter pilot’s daughter.

So there you go readers, a fantastic guest post from Mary and her fantastic book! you can use the links below to see more about the author and follow her booktastic journey! 

Links for Mary Lawlor’s Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War

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Mary Lawlor’s website

Website Page Fighter Pilot’s Daughter

Amazon

Facebook

Goodreads

Life of an Aspie: Looking into everyday life with Aspergers Syndrome


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Hello readers, so many fantastic books that I’ve had the chance to help promote recently and this one is really fantastic. Like really, really fantastic. So I’ll introduce the book and hopefully we can all maybe learn a little about life with Aspergers Syndrome (scroll down for my Q+A with Kerrin!)  

A startling fact you may not be aware of, is that as many as 50% of people getting diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome today may not have been diagnosed with the condition.

This is a problem which Kerrin Maclean, who is embracing being an Autistic, in which has been identified and is passionate about rectifying. People like Kerrin who has Aspergers Syndrome do not suffer, it’s not an ailment it’s a neurodiverse need. We struggle from people’s judgements but not from Aspergers Syndrome. And in her new book, Everyday life of an Aspie, she sets out to dispel the many myths which surround it while still acknowledging the facts.

Nothing is left out. There’s a chapter devoted to tips about dating and relationships with Aspie’s and an all-import section with information about support groups.  This book really is a must-read for all people who have AS, their families, friends and partners.

If you were to describe your book in only three sentences how would you describe your book?

If I had to describe my book with only three sentences it would be – A self help guide that has tips and advice that people with Aspergers Syndrome struggle with i.e. depression, anxiety etc for young and old readers alike. It’s a life story following what it’s like growing up with Aspergers Syndrome before, during and after my diagnosis.

How much research did you need to do to write the content for the book?

I only had to do a few hours of research by asking others in the Autistic Community what their lives are like and we had a discussion in the topics that is shared in my book again with Anxiety, despression etc. It was a six month process, but using my life experiences helped to really create an in-depth book.

Why did you decide to write this book? What was the inspiration behind the book?

To let readers know that Aspergers Syndrome is real and does exist. Many people who has Aspergers Syndrome are different on the spectrum yet with a bit of empathy and understanding along the way – we can go far. My inspiration is as always wanting to help people through their everyday struggles being the voice of the unheard- being a mentor, support person/advocate.

Life of an Aspie: Looking into Everyday Life with Aspergers Syndrome by [Maclean, Kerrin]

What is the main message you wanted to teach through the book?

The main message I want to address that despite having Aspergers Syndrome I am trying to remove as much of  the stereotyping and stigma that goes hand in hand with this as well as with other mental health disorders. I am hoping to dispel the myths about Autism, Aspergers Syndrome etc. We need to change our way of thinking and attitudes about this condition as we need to make some resources readily available somehow in some sectors for this especially in the health and education.

Finally, how can we keep up to date with you as an author and your books?

The viewers can be up to date through my social media sites!

Facebook: facebook.com/aspie.answers
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AspieAnswersAll
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWKw1HpNsu_EyAhhEJrayyw

I think Kerrin is truly inspirational and by creating this book she is helping to teach us all about living with Aspergers and how you can overcome the stigma and the lack of knowledge that many of us have. It’s a brilliant book that really looks into all aspects of Kerrin’s life and is a fantastic guide. I’ve inserted a number of links below so enjoy!

Links 

Amazon 

Twitter

Youtube (Definitely worth a look!) 

Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure: A guest post for MLBB

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My name is Andrew Joyce, and I write books for a living. One morning, about six years ago, I went crazy. I got out of bed, went downstairs, and threw my TV out the window. Then I sat down at the computer and wrote my first short story. I threw it up on a writing site on the Internet just for the hell of it. A few months later I was notified that it was to be included in an anthology of the best short stories of 2011. I even got paid for it! I’ve been writing ever since.

Lizzy has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my new book, RESOLUTION: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure, so I thought I’d tell you how it came about.

It all started way back in 2012 . . .

My first book was a 164,000-word historical novel. And in the publishing world, anything over 80,000 words for a first-time author is heresy. Or so I was told time and time again when I approached an agent for representation. After two years of research and writing, and a year of trying to secure the services of an agent, I got angry. To be told that my efforts were meaningless was somewhat demoralizing to say the least. I mean, those rejections were coming from people who had never even read my book.

So you want an 80,000-word novel?” I said to no one in particular, unless you count my dog, because he was the only one around at the time. Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel!

I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in two months; then sent out query letters to agents.

Less than a month later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in New York City emailed me that he loved the story. We signed a contract and it was off to the races, or so I thought. But then the real fun began: the serious editing. Seven months later, I gave birth to Huck and Tom as adults in the Old West. And just for the record, the final word count is 79,914. The book went on to reach #1 status in its category on Amazon (twice) and won the Editor’s Choice Award for best Western of 2013. The rest, as they say, is history.

But not quite.

My agent then wanted me to write a sequel, but I had other plans. I was in the middle of editing down my first novel (that had been rejected by 1,876,324 agents . . . or so it seemed) from 164,000 words to the present 139,000. However, he was insistent about a sequel, so I started to think about it. Now, one thing you have to understand is that I tied up all the loose ends at the end of REDEMPTION, so there was no way that I could write a sequel. And that is when Molly asked me to tell her story. Molly was a minor character that we met briefly in the first chapter of REDEMPTION, and then she is not heard from again.

So I started to think about what ever happened to her. After a bit of time—and 100,000 words—we find out what did happen to Molly. It is an adventure tale where Huck Finn weaves through the periphery of a story driven by a strong female lead. Molly Lee was my second book, which achieved #2 status on Amazon.

Now I was finished with Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer for good. Now I could go back to my first novel and resume the editing process.

12Resolution

But not quite.

It was then that Huck and Molly ganged up on me and demanded that I resolve their lives once and for all. It seems that I had left them hanging, so to speak. Hence, RESOLUTION: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure. Here is the blurb from the back cover of the book:

It is 1896 in the Yukon Territory, Canada. The largest gold strike in the annals of human history has just been made; however, word of the discovery will not reach the outside world for another year.

By happenstance, a fifty-nine-year-old Huck Finn and his lady friend, Molly Lee, are on hand, but they are not interested in gold. They have come to that neck of the woods seeking adventure.

Someone should have warned them, “Be careful what you wish for.”

When disaster strikes, they volunteer to save the day by making an arduous six hundred mile journey by dog sled in the depths of a Yukon winter. They race against time, nature, and man. With the temperature hovering around seventy degrees below zero, they must fight every day if they are to live to see the next.

On the frozen trail, they are put upon by murderers, hungry wolves, and hostile Indians, but those adversaries have nothing over the weather. At seventy below, your spit freezes a foot from your face. Your cheeks burn—your skin turns purple and black as it dies from the cold. You are in constant danger of losing fingers and toes to frostbite.

It is into this world that Huck and Molly race.

They cannot stop. They cannot turn back. They can only go on. Lives hang in the balance—including theirs.

By the way, they are all standalone books that just happen to utilize the same characters, but the stories are self-contained. They can be read in any order.

There you have it. Now, if you nice people will just go out and buy RESOLUTION, perhaps Huck and Molly will leave me alone long enough so that I can get some editing done on my first novel.

Thank you for having me over, Lizzy It’s been a real pleasure.

Andrew ll

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Of Wisdom and Valor by Aleksandra Layland

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Helllllllo readers, hope you’re well and ready for an excellent but really LONG post so I won’t be here long. I’ve got a fantastic Q+A with Aleksandra Layland and her book Of Wisdom and Valor.

If you were to describe your book in only three sentences what would you say? (They don’t have to be short sentences!)

Sometimes shorter is best. Specifically, for “Of Wisdom and Valor:”

  1. The good guys win in the end, and you’ve never seen a war like Leofric plans one, but “luck” or “providence” can still have a critical role to play in who survives in the end.
  2. The love stories are touching, and there are several; love is truly the force that holds the universe together and it can transform even the dustiest of hearts into one of passion for life.
  3. In its small way, this novel is also a subtle salute to those who protect and defend us in a dangerous world, and to their families who love and support them while they do so.

Which character did you enjoy writing the most? Who would you say is your favourite?

This a hard one because I really enjoyed writing three characters more than any others: the heroine, Keridwen: the hero, Leofric; and Leofric’s friend and lieutenant, Wulfgar. Since Keridwen and Leofric are no surprise (if an author doesn’t enjoy writing about their hero and heroine, they need to replace them!) and are impressive as the main characters, let me address Wulfgar. He surprised me the most because the more I wrote about him, the more his role in the story increased and the more I liked him. Although Kimbria is not in our time, and is a world not of our own, I see Wulfgar in my head as somewhat of a tall, reddish-haired (close-cropped on the head, and only short growth on the face), man in his early forties who can be absolutely uplifting with his good humor, joking, and teasing. He’s charming and very approachable, yet you want to get out of his way if he loses his temper. The good news is, his temper is the quick kind… it may be quick on, but it’s always quick off, and he’s loved by the men-at-arms who serve under him for all he can break into a swearing session if something “stupid” or irritating happens.

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Did you learn anything from writing your book and if so what was it?

I learned a lot of technical things. Although the story isn’t set here on our own Earth, I used our experiences and civilizational developments in building the world in which Kimbria is located. The indigenous people, the Kimbrii, are a sort of blend between medieval Vikings in appearance and early age Polynesians in culture, such as wearing Viking-inspired dress, dancing and chanting in ancient Hawaiian-inspired movements, and originally skilled in hand-to-hand combat inspired by Maori greenstone weaponry. When they become a horse people, I used the native American, European, and Asian horse cultures as models for their mounted archery. (These cultural differences are spelled out in the first book in the trilogy, Ansgar: The Struggle of a People. The Triumph of the Heart.)

I should add that something else I’ve learned much more about while writing the book is my English heritage. I knew my mother’s paternal grandparents were English, but I didn’t know where from or any other details until I worked on our family genealogy after I retired. To honor those roots, which come from northern England, I incorporated my mother’s maiden name of “Layland” into my pen name; and adopted place names and even the name of the indigenous people, the Kimbrii, from the counties and peoples where my English ancestors lived. (If you’re curious, “Aleksandra” is a nod to my father’s Polish roots.) In the bigger picture, I learned how long it takes me to write a book. I type with two fingers! The idea for the love story of Keridwen and Leofric came to me in my twenties, in dreams. I’ve only been able to finally write it in my sixties, as well as to add to it the rest of the other books which fill out the Windflower Saga trilogy and book series.

Is there a message in your novel that you wanted your readers to grasp?

Very much so. Each of the novels in the trilogy as well as the three related novellas that I’ve completed so far, have a specific theme. “Of Wisdom and Valor” is very much focused on the struggle between good and evil, both within an individual and within a society, as it expressed in the forces that contribute to war and peace. The individual struggle is personified in the character of Gethin, or Lord Gethin as he became. A sort of “con man on steroids,” one to whom the lives of others means nothing.  This individual struggle is captured in the phrase, “Every child can become the light of the world, or its darkness.” On the societal level, the struggle is characterized by corruption in all levels of society, from the monarchy, the religious hierarchy, and down.

 The theme is that corruption in society should be fought, not necessarily by war, although this situation came down to it, but by the commitment and involvement of citizens to demand and bring about good governance, and to hold public officials, religious leaders, and their fellow citizens accountable. Overall, the Windflower Saga is meant to be uplifting in spirit, even though it deals with some very harsh realities of life.

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What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?

My mother took me to the library as a small child and I learned to love to read. Both of my parents, though they had only a high school (that the American term) education, loved to read. My dad, who was a brick and stone masonry contractor, use to say that he graduated from the University of National Geographic magazine. And the hardest decision my mom had to make the few times we moved from one part of the US to another, was leaving books behind because there wasn’t room in the moving truck to take them. I use to go to the library as a child, as soon as I was old enough to walk there on my own, and rove the shelves, taking an armload home and bringing an armload back, every two or three weeks. I read all sorts of things, both fiction and non-fiction, but I really enjoyed history and biography a lot.

What are you writing next? Is there a second book on the way?

Of Wisdom and Valor is the second book in the Windflower Saga trilogy (the other two are Ansgar and Far Haven), which I wrote last year, along with three novellas (The Feathered Crown, Far Endeavor, and Bind Not the Heart) that relate to characters in the trilogy. I also just finished two small picture books for kids (Tiyo, the Dog Who Saved Ansgar and Bright Star, A Pony of the Kimbrii) and a short “chapter book” (Keri and Kalina) for young readers. I’m currently working on a “middle grade” novel called Golden Skye of Ansgar, which actually tells something more of the lives of Leofric and Keridwen, when the last of their children is born and they are about to abdicate from the throne as joint monarchs after serving the people of Kimbria for twenty years. Two novellas for young adults and three other novellas are on my plate. They will complete the Windflower Saga book series.

Finally, where can my readers find out more about you and your writing?

I have an author’s page on Amazon. After I finish the novels and novellas in the series, I hope to prepare an “illustrated companion and author’s commentary” in which I can tell the story of what inspired the series, things about the characters that were cut out during editing, etc. The questions I’ve often wished I could ask an author who was no longer with us.

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Audio Excerpt from the novel “Of Wisdom and Valor”