Friday, November 30, 2012
Oh, that's just great!
I've been nominated for the Liebster Award by Seumas Gallacher. Thanks Seumas, just what I needed when I'm trying to get some damn writing done!
Here are the rules:
When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
Pass the award onto 11 other blogs (while making sure you notify the blogger that you nominated them!)
You write up 11 NEW questions directed towards YOUR nominees.
You are not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated your own blog!
You paste the award picture into your blog. (You can Google the image, there are plenty of them!)
11 random facts about John Dolan:
1. I was born at a very young age and have increased considerably in size since then. My mother is relieved it's worked this way round.
2. I am a qualified hypnotherapist, so you shouldn't look into my eyes for too long if you are an attractive young woman. If you're an ugly bloke you have nothing to worry about.
3. I was (briefly) the warm-up act for a local rock band in the UK.
4. My wife is a saint, or near enough.
5. I once performed live on BBC Radio. I never got asked back.
6. I am not a member of the mile-high club, although I continue to live in hope.
7. I have a brother who is nowhere near as handsome as I am, in spite of being 8 years younger.
8. I have played the part of Hamlet on stage. Badly. (I was always better in pantomime)
9. I used to be a karate instructor but gave it up because this 9-year-old kid used to kick the crap out of me.
10. Football-wise I support Sunderland. This have given me a great ability to withstand life's disappointments, since with my team every season is a disappointment (except for 1972-3 when we won the FA Cup).
11. My nickname at school was "Donut".
Questions from Seumas:
What's your earliest recollection of anything?
Falling down a railway embankment.
How old were you when you were informed that Mister Claus may not be for real ? and how did you take it?
What? You are telling me that Father Christmas isn't real? Wait there while I jump off this high ledge.
What was the first book that you absolutely hated?
101 Reasons Why Sex Before Marriage Is A Bad Idea.
Money or Love?
Love. Preferably with an 88-year-old billionairess with no heirs and a heart condition.
Fantasy holiday destination?
Megan Fox's bedroom.
Oh God, I can't remember. It was definitely with a girl though.
Favourite funny person?
Whichever politician is giving a speech at the time. You have to laugh, right?
What kind of music, if any, makes you cry?
Some of the songs of Tracey Chapman and Joan Armatrading.
If you could remove any three letters from the alphabet what would they be, and why?
HIV - it should be obvious why.
Elephant. I forget why.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to ?
"Scoundrel" has a ring to it, I think. "Cad" is a bit short.
Here are my 11 questions for my nominees:
1. What is the worst present you have ever received?
2. If you were going to throw someone out of an aeroplane who would it be?
3. What is the most embarrassing thing you've ever worn?
4. If you could have been the writer of any song, which song would it be?
5. If you weren't doing what you are doing, what would you be doing?
6. How long can you hold your breath for?
7. If you had to have a tattoo what would it be and where would it be on your body?
8. Apple or Microsoft?
9. If you could remove one country from the planet which one would it be?
10. Which extinct animal would you like to see not-extinct?
11. Which movie is most likely to make you blub?
My nominees are Joanne Phillips, Marny Copal, Soraya Bakhbakhi, Dionne Lister, Jan Berghoef, Pamela Sutherland, Eden Baylee, Billy Ray Chitwood, Charity Parkerson, Michelle Browne, Meredith Lorimar.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
No sun, no smiles, November.
It’s either November in London or I’m on the set of ‘The Walking Dead’.
Most people I encounter look so damn miserable. However, being a Brit, I understand the cause. It is on account of The Weather.
The Weather is the eponymous British topic. People may be killing each other in Syria, we may be on a countdown to Armageddon, but The Weather will always take top billing. It is the reason why British marriages are unhappy, why we lost the Empire and why our teenage children are a nightmare. We forget that without The Weather the Spanish Armada would probably have succeeded in its goal and the British Isles would now be living on a staple diet of paella and sangria.
Actually, that doesn’t sound so bad now I come to think of it.
Well, London hasn’t really changed that much since my last visit here in 1666 when the bubonic plague victims were piled high in the streets. True, there weren’t any Starbucks outlets in those days, but there were people emptying chamber-pots out of upstairs windows which, metaphorically speaking, is the modern equivalent.
Sometimes it’s tough being an immortal. You always seem to remember the bad times.
The Christmas bulbs are all a-twinkling along Oxford Street. Bizarrely, there are huge golden MARMITE advertisements strung across the thoroughfare (as if life wasn’t bad enough). Regents Street is hung with the Twelve Days of Christmas lights, and there are a few True Loves wandering its length gazing moodily into each other’s eyes. Just wait until the smelly nappies arrive, that’s all I can say.
The statue of Eros is surrounded by some as-yet-to-be-determined hoardings.
Soho is as depressing as ever.
Christmas? Bah, humbug.
(I think Scrooge got a bad press. And I always had the desire to kick away Tiny Tim’s crutches. He used to irritate the crap out of me)
Nevertheless the posh shops still have tourists in them. They look Russian to me. After squeezing the economic life out of American visitors for the last few decades, we are now hosting Russians. They promise to be a tougher proposition. Some of them may even carry guns. And after a lifetime of Siberian winters I don’t suppose they are going to be intimidated by The Weather. They’re not Spanish after all.
Yet in spite of my best efforts at grumpiness, the architecture of the old Capital still exercises a pull; still brings an ache to the heart. I have the feeling that at some level this is still “home” despite my terrestrial wanderings and my fondness for the warmth and exoticism of South East Asia.
I stand upon Westminster Bridge. It is dark. A chilled memory of history climbs noiselessly over the parapet and fixes itself in my mind; inculcates itself beneath my protective layers. Below me, the Thames flows sluggishly and reluctantly towards the sea.
Perhaps Wordsworth was right. I've never thought so before, but perhaps he was. Perhaps Earth indeed has not anything to show more fair.
I turn away from the river and look up at a night sky heavy with cloud.
I adjust my scarf and put my hands back in my pockets.
It is time to leave.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
"COMPELLING AND DISTURBING"
Billy Ray Chitwood’s novel ‘Mama’s Madness’ is a real find.
While many Indie authors follow well-trodden paths of ‘popular genres’, Chitwood’s work cuts its own route through the underclass wilderness of modern America. Based on real-life events – but fictionalised in the telling – Chitwood’s story is by turns compelling and disturbing.
Chitwood has an authentic voice articulating the world of the grifter and petty criminal hovering at the margins of society. The writing is gritty, laying bare the animal beneath the thin veneer of civilisation. Child abuse, theft, deception and murder all feature in a heady cocktail of corrupted morality – yet these topics are handled without sensationalism, and at times the novel has an almost journalistic feel to it.
This is a brave book, swimming against the tide of literary popcorn, and it deserves a wide readership.
You can find out more about Billy Ray Chitwood at http://billyraychitwood.weebly.com/
Thursday, November 15, 2012
This is an elegantly-written collection of short stories by Joanne Phillips, best-selling author of 'Can’t Live Without’.
The stories pull at the emotions but without undue sentimentality. Ms Phillips engages her reader without the angst-ridden accretions which cluster around so much of today’s writing on matters of the heart. Instead she leaves her reader to draw their own conclusions. Her characters are quickly and deftly drawn, and she proceeds without ado straight to the nub of matters.
I detected a unifying theme around the tales: one of loss. Whether it is the loss of a loved one (‘A Life Unpredicted’ and ‘A Careful Man’), loss of perspective (‘Joy’ and ‘So Many Children’), loss of a relationship (‘No Matter What’, ’One to Keep’and ‘Dear Jean’), the writer mines deep feelings while herself maintaining a sense of detachment. It is interesting to note that her full-length novel – the first three chapters of which are included with this collection – begins with the main protagonist losing her home in a fire. The tales are not, however, morose. Far from it.
Ms Phillips’ writing is spare and direct, with scarcely a word wasted. This is just how short pieces should be written, in my not-so-humble opinion.
I enjoyed ‘A Life Unpredicted’. The only question for me now is: Can a guy raised in the North East of England bring himself to read Ms Phillips’ chick lit novel? Hmmn. I did enjoy the first three chapters ...
A Life Unpredicted and other stories
Thursday, November 8, 2012
JD My guest today sitting in the chair is Charles Wells, author of the ‘Whispering Pines’ mystery series. Hi, Charles, and welcome to the Dubai dungeon.
|The Guest's Chair|
JD I have. And the van, that’s part of our security procedures. Along with the chloroform.
CW And what IS that thing, anyway?
JD Oh, don’t mind Digby. That's the lab experiment with the mongoose brain that Travis Luedke met while he was here.
CW That’s Digby? I thought it was Travis Luedke after being exposed to your interview.
JD No, it's Digby although he doesn’t have the mongoose brain at the moment. Travis took that.
CW Whose brain does Digby have then? ... Travis’ brain?
JD He didn’t seem to be using it, so yes.
CW How’s that working out?
JD Digby keeps biting things and trying to hump the furniture, but otherwise OK.
CW Yeah, my brother-in-law gets drunk and does that a lot.
JD How was your flight over from Atlanta?
CW It wasn't too bad. As we were taking off I thought I saw several parts of the plane falling away but we were airborne and all seemed okay, so I went to sleep. About a half hour later, the flight attendant woke me up and said, "The pilot and crew are the last ones to leave the plane." I asked, "Why are you waking me up to tell me this?" She said, "Because they jumped ten minutes ago."
JD Interesting, Charles. Unbelievable of course, but interesting. Now let’s move on to more literary topics. Like your writing, for example. By the way, do you find your deafness is a handicap in being a writer?
CW Huh? What?
JD I said ... oh, yes, very funny, Charles. Hilarious. Laugh at this.
CW Hey! This dang chair just shocked the crap out of me! That really hurts.
JD It’s meant to. It’s an electric chair. God, you Americans are slow sometimes. Tell me about your deafness.
CW I'm deaf? Oh my God, when did this happen?
(electricity arcing sounds)
CW Okay, uh, let me think a second. (extended silence)
(electricity arcing sounds)
|Charles looking his best|
JD I'm sure Digby could let you have his ears if you like.
CW Uh, no, that's okay. Actually, I'm no longer considered totally deaf thanks to a group of Australian doctors working over the last 50 plus years to make deafness a thing of the past. They designed the "Cochlear Implant" I just mentioned and then started looking for human guinea pigs to test it. When the Aussies backed off, they turned to the folks in the USA. So in 1987 the FDA (Food and Drug association in the United States) cleared them to do the first 22 channel implants and ensuing clinical trials on 500 deaf patients. I was number 105 at the time. Today, I'm told that I could be the longest running 22 channel Cochlear implant unit on earth.
JD It's amazing actually that ears as large as yours don't work.
CW Oh they work great for holding my glasses on my face and in a jam, they make good pencil holders.
JD You spent most of your career in journalism, I believe, Charles. So did you spend a lot of time hanging around outside bedroom windows trying to take incriminating photographs?
CW That's where you and I first met, I believe. Wasn't that you next to me outside the Watergate Hotel in DC back in 1972?
JD Of course not, I wasn't even born in 1972.
CW Then you’ve got a twin. Maybe even two.
JD What’s your favourite vegetable?
CW (Awkward and silent pause)
JD Okay, I was thinking about bedrooms and then vegetables just suddenly popped into my mind.
CW Let's keep this rated PG if possible. What did Digby say was his favourite vegetable?
JD A pumpkin.
CW Pumpkin’s a fruit, not a vegetable.
JD Did I mention that Travis and Digby switched brains?
|Book 1 of the series|
JD Apples are a fruit, not a vegetable.
CW Let's not haggle over moot issues.
JD Fair enough. What was your most memorable experience as a journalist?
CW We gone back to that now? You jump about a bit.
JD Yeah, and you’ll be jumping about a bit if you don’t answer the question.
CW I think if one were to put a highlight on my career in news then 9/11 would be the worst day of my life and yet the best as well. I was on duty in the MSNBC/ Don Imus internet chat rooms when the first plane hit the towers. At the time I was in charge of both Imus chat and MSNBC News chat as well. Fortunately, one of the people in the chat was a regular visitor and retired Navy Fighter Pilot. (F4 off Navy Carriers) I sent him a private message asking if he thought the first crash was an accident. I mean, clear day, no reason for a giant airplane to run into the building by accident. His response was, "Oh hell no. That can't be an accident." I called my boss who lived 4 blocks away from the World Trade Center and asked for additional help running the chats because I was sure that all hell was about to break loose. When the second plane struck, it did break loose and I found myself in charge of 2500 chatters (and growing fast). Many months after that nightmare, I was given several awards and citations for my work that day and the article I wrote about it was nominated for several prestigious awards as well. I was proud of how the visitors to those chats stayed cool enough to be dealt with by one set of eyes and computer. Soon enough my co-workers arrived and the rest is history for NBC.
JD Tell me about the ‘Whispering Pines’ thriller/mystery series. You’ve now written ... nine books, is that right?
CW Nine published and book ten is in edit mode as we speak.
JD Where did the idea for the series come from?
CW The initial Book 1 idea came from my experience trying to save a 140-year-old family cemetery from destruction from a land greedy rich family. (This is no joke) While writing Book 1 I realized there were too many sub plots involved so I ripped those out and they became Book 2. Same thing happened with that book and the spill over became Book 3 ... right on down the line to 10. Book 11 is in first draft and yes, it's an assortment of plots from Books 9 and 10 that made those books too large.
JD I really enjoyed the first book in the series. The opening chapter was a real belter. After that I was hooked. I’m not going to do a spoiler here, but it was pretty gripping.
CW Thanks. You said that exactly as I wrote it.
JD That will be $25.
CW Well worth it.
|Coming January 2013|
CW Every character has a real person behind it. A few of them have several characters melded into one person. The two brothers, Matt and Chuck Veal, are based on me and my three brothers and friends. All are high moral good ole' southern folks.
JD “Catfish” was my favourite character. I’m guessing he turns up again?
CW Catfish is more well liked than Festus in the old US TV western series, "Gunsmoke." He's in Book 1 and he is in the draft of Book 11 as we speak.
JD I know you also do cartoons, don’t you, you sly old dog. What’s that about?
CW I love to make people smile and laugh. On Twitter I'm considered the village idiot of sorts as you well know. I worked a few years with a small TV station here in my home town and Talk Show Cartoons is a spin off from that experience. I give them away because I enjoy making folks laugh.
JD Now is there any more outrageous self-promotion you’d like to do while you’re here?
CW Naw, I think I’m done.
JD OK, I’ll get Digby to unstrap you. Where is he? Digby! Digby! Stop doing that to the furniture!
CW Ugh. That’s gonna leave a stain.
JD Yeah. Tell you what, you can take Travis’ brain back to the US with you. I’ve got a jiffy bag somewhere. I think I prefer Digby with the mongoose brain.
CW I know the mongoose would appreciate getting the higher IQ back.
You can learn more about Charles Wells and his writing by clicking on the links below.
If you've read 'The Beginning' (and if not, WHY NOT? Go get it now!), how would you like a FREE copy of Book Two, 'The Revenge'? Then go to Smashwords any time on 9-12 November by clicking HERE When you BUY, enter Coupon code XG25G and IT'S FREE! Choose your preferred file format, download and start reading.
Book Ten in the 'Whispering Pines' series - 'Demon and the Dog' - will be published by Wellston Publishing in January 2013.
Amazon US http://www.amazon.com/Charles-Wells/e/B003U4XOOC/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Website & Blog http://www.wellstonpublishing.com/
Twitter https://twitter.com/Charles_E_Wells or @Charles_E_Wells
Friday, November 2, 2012
JD Our guest today is Travis Luedke, author of ‘The Nightlife: New York’. Hi Travis, welcome to our Dubai dungeon.
JD Yes, sorry Travis, health and safety and all that.
TL It’s not really connected to the mains electricity though, is it?
JD Well, let’s test it. Let me press this button.
JD Yes, it is. Don’t worry, I’ve got the voltage turned down low. At least for the moment.
TL That’s comforting.
JD I think this is your first trip to Dubai. So, what do you think of our dungeon?
TL It’s a bit dank.
JD I thought you would appreciate that. Your being a creature of the night and so forth.
TL I’m not a vampire.
JD You look a bit like a vampire.
TL No I don’t. I have a Texas tan. Ouch! That hurt!
JD I turned it up a tad. We’ll get along a lot better if you don’t disagree with me. So, Travis, you’re a vampire?
TL (Pause) Yes.
JD Glad we got that cleared up. Now, your first book in ‘The Nightlife’ series was set in New York. What was the reason for that?
TL When I began this series, I envisioned vampires traveling from one metropolitan area to another, seasonal nomads. They weave in and out of all those shady elements of the nightlife, feeding off the masses in nightclubs, playing the ‘prostitute’ role at times. These creatures thrive off their anonymity among the masses. The New York nightlife corruption is the perfect feeding ground. And it would’ve been hard to pull off these things in a small town.
JD I enjoyed the book, as you’ll know from my review. But I’m curious as to why you decided to make the female vampire, Michelle, French. The French eat a lot of garlic, right? A bit dodgy for a vampire, I’d have thought.
TL I was originally inspired by two novels by Stephen Clarke, ‘A Year in the Merde’, and ‘Merde Actually’. Both were riotously funny. Clarke speaks of his personal experiences as an Englishman trying to function in the corporate maze of Paris. He dates several Parisian ladies while bumbling through an attempt to launch a British tea parlour business. His discovery of French culture and women inspired me to create ‘Michelle’. I also happen to love that particular song by the Beatles, ‘Michelle, ma belle …’ (I feel a film soundtrack coming on).
And so began my research into French language, lifestyle, culture, thought processes. Michelle, on occasion, has been known to cuss like a sailor, in French. I must confess, I thoroughly enjoyed learning those phrases. I find it’s enlightening and even useful to cuss fluently in multiple languages, especially if you’re in jail, or a dungeon in Dubai. Perhaps I’ll pick up a few more choice phrases down here.
JD That’s highly probable. Now, your concept of vampires is not about reanimated dead people. Why didn’t you go with the coffins and graveyard stuff?
TL Undead, fundead, redead, all that’s been done to death, and it kinda bores me to death. I thought a more realistic take on this scenario was something viral, and yet not documented or understood by modern medicine.
What we discover is that Michelle feeds her blood to Aaron, and in doing so, passes on the blood-borne pathogen making him what she is, a vampire. A whole mess of unintended consequences follows her act of compassion. There’s a deeply intimate psychic bonding between them creating a Master/Slave kind of relationship. She can literally order him to act involuntarily. She enjoys that a little too much.
The ‘undead’ thing is a common mistaken assumption made back in the day because of certain unique characteristics of their physiologies. These creatures are very much alive. Strength, speed of movement, the five senses, all greatly enhanced. They regenerate rapidly from injury. The downside? Extreme photosensitivity. They sleep like the dead all day, comatose, hence the ‘undead’ rumours and propaganda.
TL Yes and no. Did I mention this is a paranormal romance, urban fantasy, suspense, thriller with a splash of erotica? A little cross-genre zig-zag.
JD You didn’t, but you have now.
TL Vegas is a fairly wild romp compared to New York. Our odd couple are together, happy, still very much in love, but there’s a third element introduced, as Michelle calls it, ‘un ménage a trois’. They decide to bring the food home with them, adopting a pet. Their pet, Anastasia, has a laundry list of personal issues. This is partly her story, how she sees and interacts with Aaron and Michelle in their love-triangle thing.
Without divulging too much of a spoiler, here’s a quick rundown: strippers, gambling, drugs, mafia, Columbian Cartels, Jell-O wrestling, death, murder, mutilation, mayhem and sex aplenty. The Nightlife Las Vegas begs the question: What happens when vampires use heroin?
JD And where else in the world is the series going?
TL After Vegas we move on to Paris, to learn the truth of Michelle’s dark past, and to face further consequences of their actions in Vegas. They were followed by a private investigator as they fled the US. Paris brings a drastic change to Aaron and Michelle’s relationship. A new power player comes along, this fallen angel sinks her fangs into Aaron and won’t let go.
Next we move on to London, where Aaron and Michelle are forced into an unlikely union with a pair of not-quite-human Interpol agents. They must work together to track down another vampire who’s been extra naughty, robbing banks and stuff. The group doesn’t mesh well, but they team up in the final face-off. Our fallen angel from Paris begins to show her true colours as she pulls strings, manipulating Aaron and events to suit her own agenda.
And from there I have plans for Moscow and Hong Kong. We all know how wild the nightlife can be in those places.
I have two standalone novels coming soon as well. They are not exactly in ‘the Nightlife Series’. The first, coming out in January, is called ‘Bloodslave’ and another one planned for mid to late 2013, ‘The Nightlife San Antonio’. These novels have no connection to Aaron or Michelle, but the underlying premise and vampiric lifestyle is more or less the same. I am building off the unique mythology created in ‘The Nightlife’ series.
JD I’d describe some of your writing as hovering on the edge of erotica, but without actually tipping over into it. Is that fair?
TL Are you going to electrocute me again if I disagree?
JD Depends how much you disagree.
TL My diplomacy is put to the test. Okay, here we go. In 'New York', I skated the edge of erotica. From Vegas on, it’s debatable whether or not I’m writing erotica. My thoughts on the subject: “Write it dirty, edit out the anatomical references, and call it romance.”
JD But there IS some shagging in ‘The Nightlife: Las Vegas’, right?
TL Shagging galore. They shag till they can’t walk. Seriously.
JD Great. Sounds like my kind of book. And it will be available as an ebook soon, where exactly?
TL Amazon and Smashwords initially. As soon as Smashwords gets off their duff to do their job, it should be available in Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, Diesel etc.
JD OK, I think we’re done. Digby, you can unstrap Mr Luedke.
TL (Looking at Digby) Is this thing human?
JD Most of him is. I’m experimenting with different brains. He currently has the brain of a mongoose.
TL Sounds like this girl I once dated. Where’s his original brain?
JD In a jar on my desk.
JD Let me show you Dubai. I’m afraid the beer is rather expensive here, but I’m not worried about that because you’re buying.
TL Gee, thanks. I was hoping your henchman with the mongoose brain might foot the bill.
Hey, while we’re at it, you think we can check out some of the local cathouses? Do some hands-on research for ‘The Nightlife: Dubai’?
JD Don’t see why not. Although I think they’re called ‘camelhouses’ here. That’s probably indicative of the quality of services offered. And in the interests of accuracy – because our wives will probably be reading this – we’re only going there for research purposes, right?
TL Yeah, right.
JD Why are you smiling?
TL For the same reason you’re crossing your fingers.
JD I love mendacity.
TL Me too. I’ll get my jacket.
JD And you’re sure you’ll be alright in the sunlight?
You can learn more about Travis Luedke and his writings by clicking on the links below. Note the first book in 'The Nightlife' series, 'New York', is currently available FREE at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk
Amazon US http://www.amazon.com/Travis-Luedke/e/B00911L5PS/
Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Travis-Luedke/e/B00911L5PS/
Twitter https://twitter.com/TWLuedke or @TWLuedke