Virtual Book Tour #18-The summoning of Clade Josso: The first descent into the Vein by J. Dean

CladecoverWhat is your story about?

This novel is the first of a series of novels (at least eight that I have planned). They encompass a central place callled the Meridian, a sort of “Bridge dimension” between Seven different Worlds. Many years ago, a terrible war broke out between two factions, which resulted in a cataclysmic disaster: The Meridian was sealed off, cutting the Seven Worlds off from each other.

Once a paradise of unity, the Meridian is now an inhospitable place, inhabited by deadly monsters and treacherous beings, subject to dark times until a Being from each world, bearing an Artifact (the only means to enter the Meridian alive) arrive in order to set things aright.

These Seven beings, once coming to the Meridian, must brave their way to the central region, and enter a place called The Vein.

Within this Vein lies a power called the Control, which will not only restore the connections between the Seven Worlds once again, but will also grant to one of the Bearers the ability to fulfill one desire.

Enter the first Bearer-Clade Josso, a young being from the world of Cyrco, who has entered the Meridian. His motivation for wanting the Control: to restore the broken home and family business owned by his parents, who have been devastated by the death of Clade’s sister. He must brave the perils of this alien place, aided by members of a mysterious Sect, in order to make his way to the Vein.

And after that, the real adventure begins.

Tell us a little about yourself as a writer.

I first became interested in writing when I was in the fifth grade. At the time, the movie RED DAWN was out in the theaters, and my buddies and I were putting out these two page stories about the Russians invading our schools, and us being forced to make a stand and drive them off (Yeah, pretty far-fetched, wasn’t it?).

When we hit junior high, the writing bug stayed with me, even though most of my friends seemed to have given it up by then. About my freshman year, my writing abilities received a real education; I had discovered Stephen King . After reading his works, I said to myself “I wanna write like that.” Not necessarily in a horror genre, but rather with the vivid description and character depth that King puts in his stories.

The next big influence on me was Ray Bradbury. Bradbury uses an economy of words and unusual phrasing for his descriptions. He does a fantastic job of avoiding cliches and typical words, instead coloring his writing with unique setups. Whenever people ask me about recommended authors, King and Bradbury are always at the top of my lists. You can’t go wrong with them.

Now, finally, at 35, I decided to try to make a real go at writing. After trying my hand at various short story and novel attempts, I finally completed the first book of the Vein series. Currently I’m dividing my time between the promotion of CLADE JOSSO, writing the second novel in the Vein series, and amassing a collection of short stories on the side.

Has it been difficult writing your book and self-publishing it?

Writing it? No. I’ve never had more fun in my life working. Writing is one of the most enjoyable jobs I’ve ever done. This is not to say it hasn’t had its hard days, but those days have been few and far between. What more fun could you have than putting your imagination to paper so that you can share it with everybody else?

The only part that’s been really difficult about the whole process has been attempting to get the book out there for people to see. That’s probably the biggest drawback. You have to work extra hard on getting your product out there, and do so aggressively-people aren’t going to flock to the website on their own. Add to this the fact that I’m not really the “salesman” type; marketing isn’t one of my strengths. That’s why I’m glad for sites like yours that help me out in that regard. (moon: hehe, thanks!)

Do you have any future plans for more books?

Oh yes. There will be at least seven more books for the Vein, not to mention the short stories I’m writing on the side. As long as the God-given imagination I have keeps churning ideas up, I’ll keep writing!

If you get the chance to write a book of a different genre, what type of genre would you choose?

That’s a hard one to answer, because I’m perfectly content for now to be in the scifi/fantasy genre. There’s so much room for imagination in scifi and fantasy that I’d be hard-pressed to write in another genre. I’ve learned that you have to be careful spreading yourself out too thin as a writer.

There’s a saying that goes like this, “You don’t become a master by doing a thousand things; you become a master by doing one thing a thousand times.” That’s true for writing. You need to get solid in one genre before you try to branch out into too many other genres. If you branch out before you’re established in one genre, it can be difficult to remain consistent.

Having said all of that, if we’re talking fiction, maybe I’d try my hand at a horror or crime drama story. At the same time, I wouldn’t necessarily rule out non-fiction either. I have a small booklet about making business meetings more economical for time and usage that I might get back to work on in the future. Right now, though, the fiction is just too much fun!

J. Dean’s book is available at Smashwords. Do hop on over to check his book out!

Want to be featured as an author/mangaka on the AMWC Virtual Book Tour? Check out our simple guidelines and we look forward to hearing from you! =3

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Virtual Book Tour #17-The Bum Magnet by K.L. Brady

bumcoverHow did “The Bum Magnet” come about?

The story came to me in an epiphany as I was reading a self-help article about dieting. I laughed to myself because I thought, “How many of these dang articles have I read?” They give you 12 steps to follow, and the first I do in my mind is negotiate. “Well, I don’t have to walk two miles a day, maybe just two blocks” or “I can eat vegetables three times a day, but I’m going to eat them with fried chicken.” Yet, I still expect to lose 112 pounds.

So, I thought I’d write a story about a woman who attracts players. She knows it’s a pattern in her life that she needs to stop. She sees a self-help article about emotional baggage and toxic men, and one of the suggestions is a “man diet.” Just like a dieter that drives past the McDonald’s, stops for “one little Big Mac” and knows full well she should go home and eat a carrot stick, the main character Charisse stops for a big “something else.” That’s how her journey begins.

Tell us about your story.

Real estate agent Charisse Tyson seems to have it all-a great job, a dream car, and a McMansion in high-and-mightyville. Everything in her life is just right…except the Mister. While lamenting the break-up with her most recent “the one” during a holiday meltdown, Charisse realizes she has a type when it comes to men—players, players, and more players. A magazine article motivates her to swear off men and examine the complex roots of her romantic fiascos.

Just five simple steps to turn her life to the stuff of legends, right? Life is never that easy…

Charisse commences her do-it-yourself therapy project and barely cracks open her emotional toolbox when she encounters the monkey wrenches: an irresistible new beau, two persistent ex-flames, and an FBI agent with life-altering secrets threatening to turn her world upside-down.

A tug of war ensues and Charisse is dead center, trying her best to distinguish the Don Juans from the Romeos. As her love life is propelled into unpredictable twists not even she could imagine, will a twenty-seven-year-old secret keep Charisse from finding the right “one”?

Laugh loud and often as Charisse discovers whether her choices in men reflect more than a penchant for good looks, great sex, and bad judgment.

Was this your first book? Tell us a little about your journey as a writer. Has it been difficult?

Yes, this is my first novel. I had an Oprah “aha” moment one day last summer. I was coming up on my fortieth birthday, feeling like I’d reached some level of success in my life, but what I was doing didn’t really fulfill me. As I got to thinking about what I wanted to be when I grow up, it just hit me that I wasn’t living my best life. I’d always wanted to be a writer. I’d been writing in my diaries and journals since I was maybe seven or eight years old. I’d always let the fact that I didn’t have a degree in English or any fiction writing experience keep me from starting. I pushed those negative thoughts out of my head and decided to give it a try.

Has it been difficult?

It’s been more challenging than difficult. When you put yourself and your writing out there for all the world to see (and criticize), you have no choice except to grow. I’ve had to learn how to process criticism and accept rejection without allowing it to paralyze me. But I have also experienced the joy of making people laugh, entertaining and touching people through my work. There is nothing better than getting a note from someone who says they read and loved your novel, that it made them laugh until they cried. That’s like writer’s crack.

Is it tough writing a romance novel? If you had the option to do it all over again, would you have done another genre?

Well, it’s not exactly a romance. It’s funny women’s fiction with a romantic element, but the romance is not the core of the store. A woman’s journey for emotional growth is the driving factor, but there are certainly romantic elements in it. Many characterize it as chick lit, but the main character in The Bum Magnet is not your typical “chick lit” girl. She’s not a perky blonde and she doesn’t obssess over shoes and clothes, although she knows the value of a Marc Jacobs handbag. She is hilarious, however, which I think is the reason for the characterization. I love funny women’s fiction so I’m going to do it again and again.

Did you self-publish it yourself? Tell us a little about the process that led to the book’s realization.

Yes, I created my own imprint, LadyLit Press, and published it myself. I shopped it around to some agents for a while and, of course, I got rejection after rejection. But instead of letting it get me down, I took most negative comments and used them to fix my novel. By the time, I got to the version that I published, I was getting multiple requests to read the full manuscript.

If I had kept querying, I have no doubt that I’d have found someone to take me on, but I just decided that I didn’t want to give the publishing industry the power to determine my worth as a writer or the worth of my work. So, I stopped. I hired an illustrator to do my cover, a former acquisitions editor from Simon & Schuster to give it a final editorial review, and I put it out myself. It’s a lot of work because you have to become your own publishing house, from writing and editing to marketing and distribution. But it is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and it never feels like work.

What, in your opinion, makes a good writer?

I think good writers just make you feel, you know? They transport you. They can make you laugh, make you angry, make you cry, make you want to change your life–they move you. It’s not an easy thing to move someone emotionally through writing, but when you can pull that off, through some element of truth, it’s very powerful.

K.L. Brady’s book is available at her website. Add one more self-publishing author to your shelf by reading her book. =3

Want to be featured as an author/mangaka on the AMWC Virtual Book Tour? Check out our simple guidelines and we look forward to hearing from you! =3

Virtual Book Tour #16-Celtic Evil: A Fitzgerald Brother Novel: Roarke by Sierra Rose

CelticEvilcovernewWhat made you decide to be a writer? Tell us a little about your journey to becoming a writer.

It seemed like I was always writing something or jotting something down since I was little. I’ve also always had a vivid imagination and liked to make up little stories in my head so I would jot them down.

It wasn’t really until middle school that I began writing seriously and then that was for extra credit in English. I was homebound with a school sent tutor due to illnesses and while I love to read and write, I’m horrid at English so the stories were taken as extra credit.

In high school, I decided I could actually do something more with my writing and started writing novels and have gone from there.

What is your book about?

The first in a five part paranormal series in which five brothers must each face their own personal challenge against a foe that seeks to destroy their very line.

Once a world famous young singing group, the Fitzgerald Brothers of Fitzgaren, Ireland believed they had it all.  Until an ancient witch took the lives of their parents and ended up separating them Now, it has been fifteen years and that evil has returned to finish the job since the long-time family prophecy has said it will only take one of the five brothers to fall in death or surrender to evil to make it fail.

Reuniting for the first time since their parents’ deaths, the brothers must get past the pain, their differences and years apart to begin stopping the threat.
Roarke Fitzgerald, the fourth born son, has been many things in his twenty-six years but mainly he has been running from his past since the fateful day he witnessed his parents’ murder.

Now, forced to return to the land of his birth to face his shame and pain to protect those he cares for from harm or all that he loves will end.  Can he do that or will his own demons destroy his chance for peace and love. Can he forget his past and the bitterness he left behind and reform a bond between his brothers that many, both within their family and without, have worked hard to shred?

It will take all his power and that if his brothers to take the first step in defeating the demon who sought his death so long ago and now will seek it again if he cannot face and overcome this first challenge.

Why did you choose to write a paranormal series?

Truth? It chose itself actually. When I first started this book, it was aimed to be more an action/romantic suspense type of thing since action has always been more my genre. Then, one night while plotting another scene it just took on a more paranormal aspect. So I changed the whole thing around and it became what it is now. I’ve learned early that a good plot or strong characters will rewrite themselves to be what they’re meant to be and I don’t argue with that.

If you had a choice, would you go for self-publishing or getting published by a reputable publisher?

Actually, the book is self-published with Createspace and Amazon. After I get the other four books written for the series, I still plan on trying the traditional publishing route but after looking around the various self-publishers that are out there, I decided for me at this time in my life that self-publishing or using Createspace was the right thing. Though, I admit e-books are much easier in some aspects.

What future plans do you have for your series?

To write it, lol. I’ve been told by some that doing a five book series is too large and it does at times seem like a huge undertaking. These characters though have a life of their own and deserve to have their stories told and hopefully…have a happy ending.

Sierra Rose’s book is available at Smashwords and Kindle. Do show your support by reading her book!

Want to be featured as an author/mangaka on the AMWC Virtual Book Tour? Check out our simple guidelines and we look forward to hearing from you! =3

Virtual Book Tour #15-Sage: Tales from a Magical Kingdom by Maria E. Schneider

twentyfivepercentgrannyWhy did you decide to write three novellas about the kingdom of Sage instead of one entire novel?

I originally started writing short stories to hone my writing skills. I hoped that getting a short story or two published would help my writing resume so that I might be able to sell one of my novels. Foolishly, I went about the task completely backwards. I wrote the first novella, “Toil, Trouble and Rot,” before studying the short story market.

When publishers say “Short story” they mean short. Most magazines want works of 5000 words or less. “Toil” checked it at nearly 10,000 words when I was finished!!! I had some paring back to do…

While a somewhat shortened version of “Toil” was on submission, I started writing another short story in the same world. I loved the main character–a fifty-five year old grandmother. Demetria was a very unlikely hero, but one that reminded me of real heroes in my own life. Yes, my grandmother was a gardener, and like Demetria in my story, she was magic to me, creating a beautiful world in which she had a magical way with plants. I worked on four stories in the Kingdom of Sage before I finally sold “Toil” to Coyote Magazine. The problem with all the stories was that they were getting longer–not shorter.

With few markets to submit to due to the unlikely hero and the length, I decided one day to clean them up a final time and turn three of them into a book: Sage: Tales from a Magical Kingdom.

Since publishing “Sage” I’ve had several people ask if I plan on writing a novel set there. Maybe that is where I should have started…

Tell us about your story.

Sword and Sorcery meets Agatha Christie. Three novellas introduce the Kingdom of Sage and those who protect its boundaries. Join Demetria and her husband Ward in their adventures as they protect Sage from evil: Rats, Snakes and perpetrators from within.

Sometimes it takes a more experienced hand to save an entire Kingdom.

The first of these stories, “Toil, Trouble and Rot,” was published in “Coyote Wild Magazine.” The other two are all new, original stories. “Toil, Trouble and Rot” finds the Kingdom of Sage under attack from a deadly and mysterious enemy. In “Dungeons and Decay” find out just how far a mother will go when her child is in danger–and how much magic it takes to keep him safe. In “Call to Arms” every hand is needed when a ghost invades the kingdom demanding old wrongs be righted.

What has your journey as a writer been like? Was there any time when you felt like giving up during the journey?

Oh goodness, I give up on writing on a regular basis! I didn’t at first–enthusiasm and ignorance carried me for at least five years. Then I began submitting to publishers and agents. The rejections were inevitable. I’m stubborn so I just continued to edit each work, resubmit and work on new ones.

After I obtained an agent and she shopped one of my manuscripts for a year…I finally did reach the point where I wanted to give up. At least…give up on the publishing aspect. I stopped writing anything except a short story here or there for probably six months. Truthfully, had Kindle not come along, I might still be there.

Where did you get the inspiration for your writings?

Inspiration is easy for me. I have more ideas than a garden has bugs. Discipline is what I want more of. I need to get my butt in the chair and write the words–and then edit the heck out of them to turn them into a story. The ideas I have always seem greater than the story I produce. I want to create the perfect work that “captures” the entire idea, but perfection is a mirage–always off in the distance, beckoning me closer, but escaping my grasp.

Self-publish or published by a reputable publisher? Why?

I’m self-published, mainly because there was only one or two markets for novellas. When the Kindle came along, I heard that Kindle readers were more open to self-published works. And Amazon was open to publishing my work. So I gave it a shot. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the results.

Do you have plans to develop your novellas in other mediums or otherwise?

I’ve had a few readers suggest that “Sage” needs to be developed into a full novel. I’ve also had a few people request it in paperback. At this point, I don’t have any concrete plans to create a novel…but. There is that fourth “Sage” story sitting on my hard drive. It was too long to make into a saleable short story.

It was getting more and more complex…so, never say never. As for creating a trade paperback, I have no plans to do so at this point. I’m not sure that I could sell enough copies at a fifteen dollar price tag to make it worth my while. One of the reasons I think “Sage” is doing so well is because it is an e-book. It’s inexpensive–and for an unknown author, I think that is working in my favor.

Maria’s book is available at Amazon, Smashwords.com (multiple formats), Barnes and Noble and will soon appear in the Sony store. Go check out her book now!

Want to be featured as an author/mangaka on the AMWC Virtual Book Tour? Check out our simple guidelines and we look forward to hearing from you! =3

What has your journey as a writer been like? Were there any time when you felt like giving up during the journey?

Virtual Book Tour #14-Snodgrass Vacation by Dave Conifer

51N7bfU-oUL._SS500_Why did you decide to be a writer?

I can’t say I ever made a conscious decision to be a writer. It’s just something that I’ve always done ever since I learned how to operate a pencil. Now, the idea of putting my work out for others to see is a different story. I don’t care about the money (luckily, since there isn’t any) but I think anybody who writes needs at some point to have strangers read their work and provide some objective feedback.

What is your story about?

A fun spoof of Disney World and the people who love It!

Dave Jevik wasn’t too happy to hear that his wife had scheduled a family vacation to Snodgrass World Resort with the Zandanels. Loudmouth Vinnie is hard to put up with for an hour, let alone a week. But when Vinnie spots wheelchair-bound George Van Morrison in first class on the flight to Florida, the dreaded trip takes on a sense of purpose. Van Morrison claims he was injured at a restaurant owned by Dave’s friend back home and the lawsuit has already been filed.

Dave and Vinnie just know he’s faking it and they have a week at Snodgrass World to save the restaurant by proving it. They’ll have to dodge fleets of wheel chairs and scooters long enough to expose him while taking in park attractions like ‘Brutal Yet Fun and Lovable Buccaneers’ and ‘Showcase of Random Allied Countries.’

Vinnie’s sharp-elbowed wife is indispensable as she leads the way past line-cutters, other people’s obnoxious children and the maniac driving the scooter with the on-board colostomy bag. When they befriend a crotchety bartender back at the hotel Dave and Vinnie unexpectedly tap an inside source that just might help them get their man.

Anybody who’s ever taken a trip to Orlando will recognize most of what they read about in Snodgrass Vacation, a 65,000 politically incorrect satire of theme park life.

Where did you get the idea to write your novel?

I’ve always been a wise-ass and I’m good at identifying/spoofing ridiculous behavior. Somehow, though, comedy isn’t something I ever tried before so I decided I’d give it a shot. I was at Disney last summer. Don’t get me wrong, I love the place, but there was just way too much material for me to ignore, between the worshipping fans and image-conscious Disney trying so hard not to offend anybody. I couldn’t help myself. It practically wrote itself.

Why did you decide to take the self-publishing route?

Well, I spent years querying agents with other things that I’ve written. There were a few times I thought I was pretty close to landing an agent but it didn’t work out any of those times. I just don’t have the energy for that anymore and I think it’s futile anyway. There are so many people doing the same thing that it isn’t worth it.

It finally dawned on me that most rejections were of a query letter. In most cases nobody was even looking at what I wrote. It made me realize that it just doesn’t work that way anymore, if it ever did. I don’t blame the agents — they are overwhelmed with queries and there aren’t enough hours in the day for them to spend more than a few seconds on each. But that model just isn’t going to get the typical unpublished writer anywhere in my opinion.

I honestly don’t know if anything I’ve ever written is any good but I do know that there is a lot of self-published stuff that is better than some stuff that is traditionally published. What that means to me is that there’s some intangible factor that doesn’t help me (and again, I accept that there is a strong possibility that maybe it’s just that I’ve never written anything decent). I just feel like no matter what I write, no matter how appealing it might be, nobody in the traditional publishing world is ever going to consider it seriously.

The only problem with self publishing is that the only promotion is self-promotion. I was frustrated a few years ago when, by coincidence, a mainstream publisher put out a novel about a high school wrestler at the same time that I self-published one about a high school wrestler. It was hard watching that book sell when nobody ever even knew mine existed. I thought mine was just as good, and there was room in the market for two, but it never mattered.

Has it been difficult writing your book? Why?

Not really. Sometimes writing is painful, and lot writers feel that way, but at the same time it’s something that writers just have to do. I haven’t had any problem at all writing this or any other book.

Other than simply persevering in writing when it comes to penning one’s novel, what other qualities do you think a writer should have?

Perseverance and discipline are indispensable. It’s easy to type the first paragraph of chapter 1, and maybe even the last page of book, but it takes so much discipline to write an entire story properly. There’s a lot of groundwork that has to be laid and that can be a grind.

The most important characteristic is a love of writing, I think. It’s a skill that can be learned by trial and error, but there has to be that spark to start off with. There also has to be a willingness to learn and grow. One of the ugliest truths about writing that a new writer must face is that the first few things he or she writes is going to be crummy. We all learn this when we revisit our early stuff after a few years. It’s embarrassing, even if there’s nobody else in the room!

Dave’s book can be bought from Amazon. Do drop by and check out his book! It is also available for FREE on Smashwords.

Want to be featured as an author/mangaka on the AMWC Virtual Book Tour? Check out our simple guidelines and we look forward to hearing from you! =3

Want to be featured as an author/mangaka on the AMWC Virtual Book Tour? Check out our simple guidelines and we look forward to hearing from you! =3

Virtual Book Tour #11-Mystery of the Battle Box by Raymond Han

What is your story all about?
Mystery of the Battlebox by Raymond HanEntitled Mystery of the Battle Box, the 290-page work is partly set in Greendale Secondary School and Hougang housing estate.

Jing Yang, his classmate Angelina, and his cousin Tim team up to solve a mystery about hidden treasure in an underground bunker which was built during World War Two.

A history dropout from a local university has been searching for the treasure for many years. The teenagers must find the treasure first before he does.
They stumble into a secret tunnel beneath the bunker with help from two spirits haunting the bunker since World War Two.

Just when they lay eyes on the gold bars hidden in the secret tunnel, who else but the history dropout should turn up behind them, startling them…

Your story is set in a local secondary school (Greendale Secondary School). What made you decide to use it as the backdrop to your story?
First of all, let me say that I taught in Greendale in 2008. When I came up with the idea of writing a novel with teenagers as the main characters, I thought it would be fitting to introduce this relatively new school which in my novel would be the ideal place in which to place these students in — being a neighbourhood school where teenagers of all manner of backgrounds come together. Also, I was also aiming at capturing a slice of school life in the 2000s so that, perhaps, in the near future, students/teenagers of the day reading this novel can reflect on what students/teenagers did in school in the 2000s.

Was this book picked up by a publisher or you self-published it?
I self-published this book which I wrote last month. Looking for a publisher who would be interested in my work may be like looking for a needle in a haystack. By the time I find one — that is, if I do manage to find one — it may already be 2012. My novel can’t wait for something that might not happen. That is why I did not think of approaching a publisher for the novel.

What was the publishing process like? Did you experience any difficulty during the process?

I looked around on the Internet for a Web site that could help self-publishers like me. I found several but most wanted me to pay a fee (from USD300 to as high as USD1800) first before I could even upload my manuscript. I thought that these were perhaps not suitable for me if their interest was in the fee first. I managed to find one that was reliable — it was owned by amazon.com– and put authors first.

Createspace.com let me upload my manuscript and book cover for free and only charged me for a proof copy and shipping for the copy.

It was smooth sailing, perhaps, because of my background. I taught myself to use photoshop, illustrator, acrobat, and other software over the years because of my deep involvement in online publishing/content management. These skills stood me in good stead when it came to converting the manuscript into PDF, and creating the artwork for the book cover.

Do you have any advice for our aspiring readers?
Never wait for tomorrow. If you have a good idea for a novel, put it down on paper, plot out a storyline and start writing. You may not know whether you can complete your first novel — as was the case with me writing this my first novel — but once you have made a start, it is plain sailing thereafter. On the other hand, if you just stop at thinking of writing a novel, I am afraid your first novel may remain an unfulfilled dream.

Write at home on your computer. Write on the MRT train using your handphone with its memo feature. Write while out in the streets or foodcourt when you have some free moments. Write whenever the words come into your mind. That way, you keep your momentum going, and in no time you will complete writing your novel.

Raymond‘s book is available on Amazon for sale. A free preview can also be read at Getforme.com.

Want to be featured as an author/mangaka on the AMWC Virtual Book Tour? Check out our simple guidelines and we look forward to hearing from you! =3

Virtual Book Tour #9-All the people imagine by Lee Ju-Lyn

Tell us about your book, All the People Imagine. What are some of the themes you explored in your book and why?

All the people imagine by Lee Ju-lynAll the People Imagine is a collection of my dreams of putting together a bound book and short short stories. I’ve wanted for a long time to put a book together, and I’ve been writing them over the past years on my website.

My stories are surrealistic reinventions of the everyday life. Collectively, they’re about how people might better handle boredom and life’s apparently meaninglessness with their optimistic imagination. (Thus, the title of the book “All the people imagine” refers to, amongst other things, collective invention.)

Subject wise, they touch on very varied things, from talking red chillies, to a gorilla in the Antarctica, to masochistic Snow White and lizard, and odd romances of squirrels, strangers, and fax machines… frankly, they may seem nonsensical sometimes.

But life seems nonsensical, sometimes.

Philosophically, my stories are influenced by my research interests in art and philosophy, and whatever preoccupations, that I come across in my search for the meaning of life. The main themes are: surrealist, absurdist, Daoist (philosophy), existentialist. My parents are kinda farmers (of fresh cut flowers) and I suppose being close to nature is a large part of my growing up, and that’s why I tend to feature elements of nature in my stories.

Erm, in case the book sounds rather dense, I actually aim to tell them plainly (in language and style), so that they would be amusing and palatable to all audiences – regular and non-regular readers alike – and it’s really up to the reader to decide whichever level of depth they want to read into the stories.

Which is your favourite story and why?

I don’t really have a favourite story, but generally, I tend to like stories that I write without knowing how they’d end up – because they’d surprise me, and that’s fun. For example, I may write stories like that when I’m drunk, and when I’m sobered up next day and read them, they boggle my mind how I even had the idea for such things. I also like my funny stories because they’re fun.

If given a chance to start all over again, would you have self-published the book like you did?

Since, my goal was clearly just “to have my book”, it was efficient to attain do my first book by self-publishing, than having to go through the submission-rejection anxiety of publishing houses etc. Secondly, and more importantly, for my first book, perhaps because I’ve dreamt about doing it for so long, I wanted to have control over all the little details of my book, from cover, layout, to paper quality, to fonts, to… well, the entire book design, so, it was easier to self-publish and not have a “boss” to haggle with about commercial viability.

Given the benefit of the experience, I might do some things differently though, like use different software for my layout and re-word some sentences. I will probably do my second book quite entirely differently.

What advice would you give to those who are struggling to publish their own works?

In my previous article to AWMC, I shared some thoughts which I thought fellow-strugglers might find interesting. In a nutshell, I think it’s important for us to be honest with ourselves, to know what we’re doing and what has to be done, what we’re really doing it for, and most of all, that it really is worth the trouble.

You can read Ju-Lyn’s new and past stories at her blog where details of her book can be bought are posted.

Want to be featured as an author/mangaka on the AMWC Virtual Book Tour? Check out our simple guidelines and we look forward to hearing from you! =3

Virtual Book Tour #8-Benny Platonov by Gupter Puncher

Could you tell us more about your story?

Benny-Platonov by Gupter PuncherMy story is very loose, barely even a story. Young-ish guy in Hong Kong is confused. His confusion latches onto the class system, the rich and the poor, dialectical whatever-it’s-called. He watches the homeless, he tries to talk to them, he follows them and pushes their carts. At the same time, all his friends are moving on and out of his life, so that only intensifies his sense of mission. He grabs a box and determines to live among them then become their writing voice…

Does any of that make sense?

What inspired you to write this story?

There was no inspiration, not really. I just sat around the red-light district too many times and started thinking of a story. I was reading Orwell at the time – ‘Down and Out in London and Paris’ and his essay on how the poor die – and wondered more about Orwell and his position in the novel than the homeless guys. Is he really one of them? Can he change his class? Then I saw ‘No country for old men’ and the killer with the funny hair…can’t remember his name, but he was played by Javier Bardem…and his ideas on fate were interesting to me, so I added them into the mix. Can you change your character after eighteen years [childhood] of structured building?

Not sure if all that adds up, but the real starting point [I guess] was: ‘I want to write a character who is confused and often wrong.’ I wanted his philosophy to be a complete mess and I wanted him to be unlikable. Just like Bukowski’s Hank Chinaski or Fante’s Arturo Bandini. That’s what I wanted to write.

What influences did you draw upon when you were crafting your characters?

That last answer was a bit waffly, so I’ll keep this one short. I used people around me. I listened to how they spoke, what they talked about, and I wrote down whatever came into my head for the rest of it. For their psychology, why they do what they do, I just made it up.

What influences did you draw upon when you were crafting your characters?

I’m useless at description. It bores me so I shun it as much as I can. The way I see it, people have movie images and internet pictures in their heads so they’ll supply most of the description for themselves.

What advice do you have for self-publishing authors/creators?

Do it. Don’t expect huge numbers, but still, do it. Also, make sure you give yourself a fighting chance. If you just whack your book up on amazon and expect people to find it then you are wrong. People won’t find it, they won’t care. You have to have a plan. You have to know your market.

It’s also a good idea to find other writers and start some kind of collective. Give it a cool name, something like ‘Year Zero’ maybe. Then get everyone to help each other out and group-market your books. It makes a much bigger splash than doing it all yourself, which won’t get you anywhere.

One more thing. The internet is a useful tool but it’s also overloaded with budding writers like us, all with websites, twitters, Facebook, whatever else. As a self-published author you have to stand out. You can’t disappear into this mass. Make a website, maybe a Facebook group, but don’t put yourself in too many places. I have no evidence for this, it’s just a whim, but as long as readers have one definite place where they can find you then it’s enough.

To get the readers in the first place I think you have to hit the streets. Go to events, make a magazine, showcase what you’ve got to real people with real faces and get them interested. Then sit back and watch as…well, as nothing happens probably, but give it some time and, if the writing is decent, the readers might come via word of mouth.

All in all, give it at least five years then re-evaluate whether or not you think you can become a writer.

Gupter’s book is available as a free sample or in paperback. Do support him by leaving comments or buying his book in paperback!

Want to be featured as an author/mangaka on the AMWC Virtual Book Tour? Check out our simple guidelines and we look forward to hearing from you! =3

Virtual Book Tour #7-Glimpses of a Floating World by Larry Harrison

Could you briefly tell us about your story?

Glimpses of a Floating World by Larry HarrisonGlimpses of Floating World opens in 1963, when prescribing heroin and cocaine to addicts was still common practice in the UK, although this operated alongside laws which penalised unlawful possession. Addicts like Ronnie Jarvis, the anti-hero of the story, received a daily supply of heroin and cocaine, but could be prosecuted if found in possession of unauthorised drugs.

Ronnie is arrested for the illicit possession of opium, and after doing a cold turkey in prison, is transferred to a country mental hospital. His experiences in these institutions are brutalising, and reinforce his identity as a junky.

When he is pressured into becoming a police informer, Ronnie deliberately supplies false information, in an attempt to embarrass the police. Unfortunately for him, his information results in the arrest of a van driver, owing to the routine police practice of planting evidence. This triggers a chain of events which ends in murder and mayhem.

What gave you the idea to pen this novel?

Although Glimpses is not intended to be didactic, and hopefully is quite funny in places, the driving force behind the book is anger at the hypocrisy associated with drugs policy, and the nonsense talked about treatment and law enforcement.

Setting the story in the early 1960s provided an opportunity to revisit a recent history that has been thoroughly mythologised. British television documentaries offer the comforting story of Flower Children who wanted ‘love’n’peace’, smoked dope rather than harmful skunk, and stuck flowers in the helmets of policemen.

In reality, the Sixties were far from being an innocent, peaceful time: when the decade began, the death penalty was still in force in England, and youngsters were routinely flogged for offences against prison discipline. English seaside resorts were given over to mass brawls between Mods and Rockers, London gangsters had celebrity status and police corruption was endemic.

In 1962, the cold war reached fever pitch during the Cuban missile crisis, while the Minister for War shared a lover with a KGB operative. It seemed necessary, in Edward Thompson’s words, ‘to rescue the past from the enormous condescension of posterity’.

Do you have any favourite characters in this story? Who and why?

I suppose Ronnie Jarvis: a 17 year old anarchist, lover of comics and registered heroin and cocaine addict, who sees himself as a member of the Beat generation. He struggles to escape the influence of his father, a senior policeman, whom he despises.

Ronnie is not particularly likeable—cowardly, self-centred, an opportunistic thief—but he has more sense of natural justice than the officials he meets. And, perhaps, Jack Fitt, a postman and occasional jazz musician, who introduced Ronnie to anarchism. Jack is a compulsive liar who lives in a fantasy world, although Ronnie needs to believe in him. Jack is Ronnie’s substitute father, part of Ronnie’s attempt to reinvent himself, and become as unlike his biological father as possible.

What were some of the influences that got you into writing?

My early influences were the professors I worked with at the University of Hull, with their passion for accurate and succinct prose. But I was an academic, writing nonfiction as part of my job, and I longed to write for pleasure, to write what I really wanted to write.

So I took early retirement and freed up the space. Because of my preoccupation with lost history, snippets of the story are biographical, a patchwork of people’s lives. For example, Tony Moss, an older junky who shows Ronnie how to sleep at the bottom of a lift shaft, was a real-life character, who died in Brixton prison in 1964.

Jack Fitt is modelled on several people in the London anarchist and direct action circles. Despite this factual basis, the dialogue is often surreal rather than naturalistic: for example, the confrontation with the ex-soldier in the first chapter is intended to have symbolic overtones.

What are some of the advice you could give to aspiring writers/creators?

It’s been said many times before, but you have to have the patience to rewrite, many times over if necessary, until your work is as good as you can make it.

Larry’s book is available as a free download or in paperback. Do support him by leaving comments or buying his book in paperback!

Want to be featured as an author/mangaka on the AMWC Virtual Book Tour? Check out our simple guidelines and we look forward to hearing from you! =3

Virtual Book Tour #6-Songs From the Other Side of the Wall by Dan Holloway

Songs from the other side of the wall

Could you briefly tell us what your story is all about?

The day the Berlin Wall came down, Jennifer returned to England, abandoning her week-old daughter, Szandi, to grow up on a Hungarian vineyard with 300 years of history. Now 18, Szandi is part of Budapest’s cosmopolitan art scene, sharing a flat and a bohemian lifestyle with her lover and fellow sculptress, Yang. She has finally found her place in the world. Then a letter arrives that threatens everything, and forces her to choose once and for all: between the past and the present; between East and West; between her family and her lover.

What are some of the themes you explored in your novel?

It’s basically a novel about identity. It’s about our struggle to find our home in the modern world. It’s a world that’s not only fragmented by nationality and sexuality, by past politics and family history, but by the divide between our real lives and the lives we live in cyberspace. I’ev used a fairly magical realist approach as a result of wanting to explore the last of these in particular.

The novel inhabits our world, only it’s not quite our world, in the same way you’d find in a Murakami novel, say. For me that means I can get to the heart of the questions without having to worry about the strictures of the laws of physics! So if it helps Sandrine to talk things through with a statue, she can do it, for example. It’s also a novel about families, and about the fragile relations within them.

The novel is set in the art and music worlds, which are the places I love, and which represent places outside of the boundaries we find elsewhere. Art and music transcend all teh rubbish of day to day life, and offer the characters a freedom they can’t find elsewhere.

Who is your favourite character in the story and why?

I can genuinely say I love all the main characters. One of the reasons I wanted to write the novel was to show that you could write an interesting story where none of the characters was bad; where no one had anything but the best motives. It’s life, and circumstance, that provide the conflict.

If I had to pick one though, it would be Yang. She smokes too much dope, and her art is full of its own importance, but she’s absolutely in love with Sandrine, and the lengths and sacrifice she goes to to support her are incredible. But I certainly never got the sense she was a soft touch. She’s capable of saying the tough things – but in a way that lets Sandrine know she’s always there.

What inspired you to write this story?

That’s a long long story. Truth is, I was fed up with my critic group saying I should be more commercial in my writing, so I set out to write something I wanted to read and blow them! Of course, it’s ended up more of a conventional story than anything else I’ve written.

I also grew up at the time the Berlin Wall came down and communism collapsed. I was a student through the war in the former Yugoslavia. I watched Europe fall apart at just the same time many people’s idea of identity was being blown apart by postmodernism. Throw the birth of the Internet into that, and the sense of sheer excitement at the growth of modern art that led up to the Sensatin exhibition, and this was a book I just had to write.

What advice do you have for aspiring creators who want to self-publish their own works?

I run a blog devoted to giving advice to aspiring self-publishers, and have just re-run my “10 commandments for aspiring writers” series on it. I’ve also been privileged to be asked to guest blog on the subject by some amazing people.

I think your question is actually two questions so I’ll pick out two bullet points. For self-publishers, my advice is: make sure you are writing for a small market that you know intimately, and you can reach more effectively than a mainstream publisher; and don’t be afraid to give your work away for free!

For aspiring writers, the most important thing to remember is that the literature business is about people. Be polite, friendly, and helpful in everything you do. Never moan, never bad-mouth. Help other people without expecting anything back. Do that (AND have a great book, of course) and all those doors you were told were closed, you’ll suddenly find open.

Dan’s book is available as a free download or in paperback. Do support him by leaving comments or buying his book in paperback!

Want to be featured as an author/mangaka on the AMWC Virtual Book Tour? Check out our simple guidelines and we look forward to hearing from you! =3