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SPOTLIGHT: Musician Mihran ‘Mino’ Kalaydjian

17 Jul

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It is rare today for a classical musician to have mainstream appeal and simultaneously garner critical acclaim. Mihran ‘Mino’ Kalaydjian sells out symphony halls with his talent and star quality. So needless to say, I am ecstatic to have him on my blog today.

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“The piano keys are black and white but they sound like a million colors in your mind.”

~Maria Cristina Mena

Award-winning Solo pianist and composer, Mihran Kalaydjian delivers heartfelt piano melodies with a rare level of artistry and emotion.

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 In his words . . .

On a personal note, I love the outdoors, comedy, bbq, reading and traveling. I worked in the beer industry in college, so I love talking about good beer. I used to be a competitive runner so (like all runners) if you make the mistake of asking me, I’ll tell you about my entire career and PRs. I also spent my youth working in restaurants, so if you’ve done the same, we can swap stories.

Music is more than just notes on a page or a series of different pitches. Music is an art, and through art we are able to discover who we are in ways that we never would through anything else. Music is the desire to draw inspiration from everything we see and hear, to truly be aware of ourselves and our surroundings, and to translate atmosphere into sound.

 

Mihran composed the following musical piece for my poem, ‘FATHER’

Father

by Vashti Q

His brown eyes deepened into polished onyx, and upon them came a mist of tears.

He watched with the facade of a brave man as his baby boy entered the world.

As if his mind and body were not consumed by overwhelming fears.

What are my duties? There are no guidelines. Where do I start?

The babe in his arms felt so natural, yet so alien. A fire blazed in his chest.

“You are a father now.” The words were jolting, yet pleasing to his heart.

 

His brown eyes deepened into polished onyx, and upon them came a mist of tears.

He watched with the façade of a calm man as his son toddled, taking his first steps.

As if his mind and body were not consumed by overwhelming fears.

What if he falls? What if he hurts himself? Then I would have failed as a father.

The toddler tottered to him embracing him with dulcet giggles.

As he held his son, it did not feel alien. His heart gave way for love to conquer.

 

His brown eyes deepened into polished onyx, and upon them came a mist of tears.

He watched with the façade of a cool man as his son introduced him to his first girl.

As if his mind and body were not consumed by overwhelming fears.

What if he falls in love? What if she breaks his heart?

He embraced his son and slipped extra cash in his pocket.

As he held his son, it felt like love, and he rested assured his son was smart.

 

His brown eyes deepened into polished onyx, and upon them came a mist of tears.

He watched with the façade of a brave man as his son grew and had sons of his own.

As if his mind and body were not consumed by overwhelming fears.

Did I raise him right? Did I teach him to be a good husband and father?

He embraced his son, and they were swathed by the love they both felt.

As he held his son, his questions were answered, and he grew calmer.

 

His son’s brown eyes deepened into polished onyx, and upon them came a mist of tears.

He watched his father wear the façade of a spent man as he lay on a hospital bed.

His son’s mind and body were consumed by overwhelming fears.

Am I doing the right thing? Who am I to decide when his time has come?

His face dampened with sorrow as he embraced his father.

As he held his father’s weary body and gazed into his dimming eyes, his questions were answered, and he grew calmer.

 

His brown eyes deepen into polished onyx, and upon them comes a mist of tears.

He watches with the façade of a pitiful man as his son reaches for that plug.

He is ready to leave this world and grateful his son has let go of his fears.

As his son holds his ruined body, and he feels the lifeblood drain from his eyes, he knows he has raised him right.

His mind and body are consumed with overwhelming love.

His son has given him the gift of peace, and his happy spirit travels toward the light.

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Q & A with Mihran Kalaydjian

 

When and why did you start playing?

I grew up in a family of musicians. My mother is a piano teacher and my father was a conductor in Jerusalem, Israel. My mother had a large influence on my musical development; she was the one who introduced me to music. Thanks to her, I was surrounded by music from the very beginning. Since childhood, I remember listening Berlioz’s “Fantastic Symphony”, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto, Chopin Etudes and many other beautiful music compositions. It was one little song that inspired me to start playing piano. I loved the song so much that I would sing it over and over. I was only Four years old, and of course I didn’t know how to read notes, so I tried to pick up the music by ear. When I sat down to play the song, it came easily. It was joy for me to be able to “perform” my favorite song and share it with my family and friends.

I started playing on my own aged around 7 or 8. At 11 I had a handful of lessons by a teacher who struggled to sight-read my Grade 2 pieces.

Actually, although most people find this difficult to believe, there was never a time where I decided I wanted to become a pianist. Instead, my early passion for composing was the driving force in my decision to be a professional musician, and the pianist part just came naturally with that. Inherently, I have great angst when I compose, for I “hear” so much more than what can be created on the piano as it exists now or any other singular instruments for that matter. Having said that, the piano is truly unique and unparalleled.

 

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What was the first tune(s) you learned?

The Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto 2. This was a piece that I’ve always wanted to play, since high school, and I never had the opportunity to. I think it’s one of the most dramatic pieces out there, and I really wanted the opportunity to play it with an orchestra

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Is your family musical?

I grew up in a family of musicians. My mother is a piano teacher and my father was a conductor in Jerusalem, Israel. My mother had a large influence on my musical development; she was the one who introduced me to music. Thanks to her, I was surrounded by music from the very beginning. Since childhood, I remember listening Berlioz’s “Fantastic Symphony”, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto, Chopin Etudes and many other beautiful music compositions. It was one little song that inspired me to start playing piano. I loved the song so much that I would sing it over and over. I was only Four years old, and of course I didn’t know how to read notes, so I tried to pick up the music by ear. When I sat down to play the song, it came easily. It was joy for me to be able to “perform” my favorite song and share it with my family and friends.

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Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?

Mahler at first. A unique harmonious invention and a capacity to be granted no limits in language, nor at the same time to give nothing up.

Then, the composers-pianists Liszt, Scriabin and Chopin, to whom I dedicated several recordings (Complete Chopin Nocturnes, Complete Poems by Scriabin…)

Mine are Andras Schiff (I love his Hammerklavier sonata interpretation in particular, & his lyrical tone) & Wolf Harden for his Busoni Fantasia Contrappuntistica interpretation. But Busoni actually indicated breathing places in certain of his works.

So many it is difficult to pick! I love Pierre-Laurent Aimard, he is an inspiration. Argerich as well. I cannot live without her Prokofiev.

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Who was your first teacher? Other teachers?

I had always loved music and I sang ever since I can remember. My mother tells me that I started singing, quite in tune, even before I talked.

My first piano teacher’s name was Augustine Lama & Colin Stone. Because I was only four years old, Augustine Lama at 65 was older than my grandparents, and looked so old to me as to be very intimidating. On top of that, when he asked how old I was and realized I was four, he told me that I was too young to start piano lessons, and then maybe I should wait another year. I started crying so much that he said, “Okay, I will put you to the test.” He started beating very complicated rhythms that I should imitate, then he went to the piano and played a few notes, then chords, while I was turned around, looking in the other direction. I was able to go back to the piano and play exactly what he had played. When he realized I had perfect pitch, and after seeing how I had a good sense of rhythm, to my delight, he changed his mind and said, “You can start Monday.”

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How do you enjoy performing lesser known contemporary music? Is this more of a challenge as far as selling the audience of the performance?

Learning contemporary music can be a challenge because our starting point of reference is not the same. However, I think any good piece will eventually show itself to be worthwhile and of real value. I think most of us love what feels familiar, even if we don’t think we do, so communicating the unknown to any audience, takes belief, commitment and perhaps some explanation to set the scene. Let’s not forget that all music has been contemporary at some stage or another!

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Describe your first instrument. 

In the beginning, like many people, there was a gradual attraction to music and playing through the years of my very early childhood.

My interest in music and playing an instrument was the result of a gradual process of experimenting and playing around with pots, pans and toy drums, dancing and writing little songs. I remember really liking the tactile aspect of playing percussion instruments. By the time I was in primary school, I became very interested in writing songs. It was strongly suggested I learn piano as a means of developing this interest, but for me, I somehow had a very strong feeling I needed to play drums. I did however, start playing guitar a little bit and wrote songs on that instrument but not with the seriousness with which I studied and practiced drums.

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 What is the most unusual aspect of traveling as a concert artist?

When I travel to a distant city for a concert, sometimes I’ll stay in a hotel, but very often I’ll stay with a “host family”—a local family that is usually the patron of the concert hall I’ll be playing in or the orchestra I’ll be playing with. Living in their homes, I have developed very close relationships with these families who are like substitute parents for me when I travel. My host families have become some of my closest friends in the world.

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 Do you play any other types of music other than solo?

I love playing chamber music. Chamber music encourages interactive collaboration as a value that every musician should learn to have. Being a pianist can be a solitary pursuit; chamber music is broadening the ways in which one thinks about and expresses oneself as a musician. It also opens the door to more performance opportunities, rather than pursuing a career purely as a soloist. A chamber performance uniquely offers the musicians the opportunity to cooperate with each other while simultaneously communicating intimately with an audience in a manner that would not be possible in larger performance situations. As a solo pianist, you spend most of your time practicing alone in a room with just your instrument for company. But with a trio, you have to be in tune—literally and figuratively—with two other musicians. The three of you have to find a common interpretation of the music, or you’re not really a trio—you’re just three people who happen to be playing at the same time.

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What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current projects.

Composing is, for me, an inner necessity: music is a fruit of the spirit that can sometimes lead us to the Absolute. When you compose, it becomes possible to fulfill the desire to create a world of your own, a personal microcosm where you set the rules and also make their exceptions.

Make music that I love and be happy.

My current projects are moving me in two directions, which sometimes overlap. First, I am recording the words of Granados, whose works, including the complete version of “Goyescas,” are not really as well-known as they should be.

I have fallen in love with his works’ distinct Spanish flavor, color, and rhythm. In preparing the music, I immersed myself not just in Spanish music but also in Spanish art and literature; the music is very dramatic.

I will keep enjoying my collaboration as soloist, Composer recording for the music publication ‘Pianist Millennium Production’; a tour in Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, New York for Christmas Melody, Texas,   at the end of the year with other concert activities as usual; and learn more Rachmaninov pieces!

In the opera version, two men meet a woman, flatter her, and fall in love with her. But eventually love turns into a duel to the death between the suitors, and the woman’s true love dies in her arms.

The second direction is finding ways to bring classical music to more listeners though the connections I have established with several world-renowned brands.

Dolce & Gabbana has supplied my concert gowns, and I have performed for Breguet, the distinguished Switzerland’s watchmaker, at the Frick Collection in New York. Right now, I am touring the showrooms of Roche Bobois, the leading French retailer of modern furniture.

While my music can be used to help these brands, I see these relationships as a great opportunity to bring classical music to new audiences.

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What advice would you give to anyone serious about being a classical musician?

Everyone in every business talks about the need to network and socialize. I realize that’s true, even in the arts; I see frequently that aspiring artists are overwhelmed by the business side of things and neglect their artistic developments.

But you can never let these roles take too much time away from the time you spend on your art itself. You should never lose sight of your dream!

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Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

http://www.mihrankalaydjianpiano.com/

http://www.mihranpiano.com/

https://www.facebook.com/MihranKalaydjianPianoMelodies

And finally, a few fun questions… 

A favorite movie?  Lawrence of Arabia
A musical instrument?  Piano
A composer?  Magnus Lindberg
A book?  The Black Swan of Nassim Nicholas Taleb
A city?  London
A song?  Bohemian Raphsody by Queen
A TV Series?  Juncal

“I’m an interpreter of stories. When I perform it’s like sitting down at my piano and telling fairy stories.”

~Nat King Cole

Connect with Mihran on Social Media

Facebook

Google+

Twitter

Instagram

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“I am still more and more aware of the true purpose of music and the people who play it: to heal and unite the planet.” 

~Mihran Kalaydjian

 

SPOTLIGHT: Teagan’s Books | Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

10 Jul

#CreativityFound is one of my favorite hashtags, but I use it sparingly, and only when the person or subject matter is truly deserving. Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene is clearly worthy because she is the epitome of creativity and imagination.

“Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”

~Native American Proverb

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Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, is a true storyteller with a vivid imagination. She enjoys interacting with the readers on her blog and her readers take part in the creation of her serial stories. A southerner by birth, she was “enchanted” by the desert southwest of the USA when she moved there. She had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences in both the southern states and the southwest. Teagan writes many types of fantasy, from what she likes to call “quest type” fantasy, to urban fantasy, to fantasies with a dash of mystery. Her blog, Teagan’s Books contains serial stories written according to contributions from viewers.

Teagan’s major influences include Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

The novella version of the serial that helped establish her blog is now available.

The Three Things Serial Story is a spontaneously written (“pantser”) story. Everything in it — characters, setting, plot, was driven by “things” left by readers of the blog Teagan’s Books, episode by episode. Each week readers left three more things. The story evolved according to what those random things inspired. The serial began with oscillating fan, which brought me the vision of the 1920s setting. The era and narrator continued in two more serials that followed. While it was not great literature, it sure was a fun ride!  Here’s a trailer to put you in a Roaring Twenties mood.

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“Creativity takes courage.”

~Henri Matisse

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Check out Teagan’s other books here.

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Connect with her on Social Media

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Amazon Author Page

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Be sure to visit Teagan’s blog, Teagan’s Books. It’s one of the most creative, colorful and fun blogs you’ll ever visit.

 

Have a wonderful week and join me on Friday for ‘Haiku Friday’!

 

 

 

Pay It Forward – Author Diane Munier

22 Jun

Happy Friday everyone and a warm welcome to my blog!

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I joined a wonderful book club called Rave Reviews Book Club (RBBC). The RRBC is a virtual book club made up of many authors and readers. One of the club’s main objectives is to Profile, Promote and Propel their members. They do this many different ways and Pay It Forward day is one of those ways. So instead of doing my usual Haiku Friday post today I’m paying it forward.

What is Pay It Forward day?

On this day, members agree to give up ALL self-promotion and instead, promote one fellow member/author on their blog and social media forums. It is agreed that the MAJORITY of promotional tweets, Facebook shares and blog posts, etc., will be for the member/authors who has been assigned to the “promoting” member.

My assigned author for Pay It Forward is Diane Munier. As a new member of the Raves Review Book Club I’m just getting to know Diane and the other members of the club. I spent a good while looking through her blog and social media platforms yesterday and I liked what I saw. So here it goes.

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“There is no greater honor than to hear someone’s story. If you feel that way about the tales I tell, I would love to hear from you to keep you informed about upcoming work. Thanks for reading!”

~ Diane Munier

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“I write love!”

~ Diane Munier

Diane Munier broke into writing as a feature writer for a local newspaper. She spent the majority of her working life as a marriage and family counselor. These pursuits have done much to fuel her imagination and her passion/obsession for writing fiction. She grew up in a four-family-flat in the city of St. Louis but has lived rurally for most of her adult life with her husband on their beloved flat land in a small, fascinating farming community. This locale and a large, active family fuel her writing.

Diane Munier has written many books and you can see all her available work on her Amazon Profile Page.

Her latest novel, Running With Monkeys is now available on Amazon.

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BLURB:

1946. The boys are home from the war. Jules is looking for a way into polite society, but it seems like the moogs that didn’t go overseas have moved so far ahead he’ll never catch up. His luck seems to change when he goes to the movies with his buddies Bobby and Audie, the other two monkeys. They had marched across Europe together, and now they were picking up dames, drinking too much, and generally letting off steam, which translates into trouble. Jules meets Isbe at the movies. Close dancing in a smoky club leads to love. The same night, Jules hooks up with the Irish mob. Love is thawing his hard heart, the one needed for survival in his new and violent world. Isbe vows to stand by, but Jules likes it on the edge. That’s a good thing, because Isbe’s father is chief of police and it’s a tangled gray web he’s soon caught up in.

Review Excerpts:

~ Few people can tell a story like Diane. The way she describes people, places, dialogue, and events, is nothing short of transcendent.
~ Diane Munier is one of the most gifted writers I have ever encountered. Her first-person narratives are fascinating…
~ This author’s writing is so very rich. Lots of details that really demonstrate a level of research that is often not present in love stories.
~ Again I am mesmerized by this author and another awesome story. Great twists and turns…

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In her words . . .

Living comfortably in the heart of America with the people I love. I live an extroverted life, but I’m a genuine introvert. An urban kid, I spent much of my youth running in various neighborhood establishments. There I met many colorful characters and I learned to love them and be fascinated by them. My love of story comes from them. I learned to sit on a bar stool or a kitchen chair or in a pew and hear story. Hear the voices telling story. See the mouths move and the hands clutching glasses or cigarettes. See and hear the laughter. There is no greater honor than to hear someone’s story. If you feel that way about the tales I tell…what more could I ask.

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Be sure to check Diane’s blog, Diane Munier Author

 

Connect with her on Social Media

Facebook

Goodreads

Twitter

Amazon

I hope you enjoyed this Author Spotlight. I will be back next week Friday with Haiku Friday! Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

Spotlight: M J Mallon Author

12 Jun

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”

~Maya Angelou

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Hello everyone! A warm welcome to The Writer Next Door! I’m excited to spotlight today the lovely and talented, Marjorie Mallon.

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Marje is a writer, poet, photographer, blogger, wife, mother––let’s just say she wears many hats. She keeps busy on her blog, M J Mallon Author, doing  Author Interviews, Spotlights, and Book Reviews . She is a very supportive member of the writing/blogging communities. In fact, she founded an organization on Facebook called, Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club to do just that.

What is the Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club?

It’s a friendly community of authors/bloggers/book reviewers working together to support each other in a multitude of ways – e.g. by writing or sharing reviews, highlighting author spotlights/book launches/interviews, and posting writing/poetry/blogging tips, or tips about writing reviews, or discussing general topics of interest.

I am proud to say that I am a member of the club. Colleen Chesebro and Debby Gies have joined the club as administrators.

“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.”

~ Anaïs Nin

M J Mallon wrote her first middle grade/YA fantasy novel, The Curse of Time, which is currently in the final editing stage.  She will soon be a published author and is already at work on a second novel.

The quotes on this post are some of Marje’s favorite quotes. You can read more of them here.

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In her words . . .

What can I tell you? Well before we start I’d like to suggest that you might want to pull up a comfy chair, sit back and enjoy my blog, Kyrosmagica, which is all about the magic of writing, my love of books, crystals,  laughter, and much, much, more! I’m writing a second novel, and blogging, of course, writing book reviews here, and on Goodreads, and Amazon, and in fact anywhere else that will have me! Being an open minded type of gal, I like to review a wide a range of genres as possible, including YA, Contemporary, Romance, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Asian Literature, Detective, LBGTQ, and from time to time when I’m feeling brave I read dark thriller, or perhaps a horror story..

I have a penchant for travel and have relatives in far flung places, Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore, (my birthplace.) I grew up in Bonnie Scotland, in Edinburgh, and now live in Cambridge. I love sunny, hot places, particularly Rome, Venice, Portugal, Barcelona, and I forgot to mention the sun drenched beaches of the Caribbean, how could I? I am lucky to have been blessed with two lovely daughters and a six foot hunk of a husband, who I met at the tender age of eighteen, who I fondly refer to in this blog as my black sheep. Considering how long we’ve been together I could call him my swan, but I think black sheep kind of suits him, a charming black sheep! His title Black Sheep originated from a family joke, which you can read about in my post Mother in Laws and Black Sheep! With my passion for travel, culture, beautiful beaches, good food, books, theatre, writing, art, photography and humour, I hope to keep you entertained.

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“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Maya Angelou

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Read more about Marje here

Be sure to visit Marjorie’s blog, M J Mallon Author

Connect with Marjorie Mallon on Social Media:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

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Author M J Mallon

Have a great week everyone and see you Friday for Haiku Friday!

 

 

Spotlight: Olga Nuñez Miret Author/Translator

5 Jun

The devil whispered in my ear,

“You’re not strong enough

to withstand the storm.”

Today I whispered in the devil’s ear,

“I am the storm.”

I introduce to you today Hurricane Olga Nuñez Miret. Author, Psychiatrist, translator, blogger––these titles do not begin to describe the woman. It is difficult to keep tract of all of Olga’s accomplishments, believe me, there are a plethora of deeds. I am certain that you will take pleasure in getting to know Olga Nuñez Miret as much as I have because apart from being a talented author and fascinating woman, she’s also a lovely human being.

Olga is a great supporter of fellow authors, writers and bloggers. On her blog you’ll find many book reviews and author spotlights, so please be sure to check it out.

**Click on the picture below to read about a book event she and her mom helped organize in Madrid, Spain.

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LITERANIA 2017 | A Book Fair and Much, Much More . . .

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Author Olga Nuñez Miret

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In her words . . .

I was born in Barcelona and moved to the UK many years ago. I’ve worked as a psychiatrist, have a degree and PhD in American Literature and a Masters in Criminology. Yes, I like to study. I love books, and I’ve been writing since I was a child. Started self-publishing in 2012 and I’ve published a family saga, a YA story, a romantic book with three endings and a psychological thriller (collecting three stories with a psychiatrist/writer as main character). I publish all my works in English and Spanish. After working in the NHS for nearly 8 years I’ve decided to try other things. I’ll keep on writing stories and will offer my services as translator to other authors. Stories make the world go round. Apart from reading and writing I love to meet new people and learn about them, I also enjoy keeping fit. I’m trying meditation and I hope to stick with it. I love the cinema and going to the theatre. I crochet but don’t have much time for it these days. I don’t eat meat and love fruit and vegetables. I write a blog sharing the work of other writers, random thoughts, reviews (of books, movies, plays…) and anything else….Come along to meet me.

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Olga speaks, reads and writes both English and Spanish fluently, so if you are interested in translating your English books to Spanish follow this link (details are at the bottom of the page).

 

 

BOOKS

Olga’s 1st novel: The Man Who Never Was

(Also available in spanish) El Hombre Que Nunca Existió

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Twin Evils? A YA/Adult novella (paranormal, fairy tale)

Also in Spanish: Gemela Maldad

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Click Me Happy! A romantic novella, where the reader can choose between three endings.

Also available in Spanish

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Escaping Psychiatry A collection of three novellas (Psychological thriller)

(In spanish) Una vez psiquiatra…

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Family, lust and cameras (Psychological Thriller Novella)

(En español) Familia, lujuria y cámaras

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I Love Your Cupcakes (A sweet romance)

 

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**Click on any of the book cover images or follow the links if you’d like more information on any of Olga’s books or would like to read a blurb.

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**Check out Olga’s blog, Olga Author/Translator ~ Books, Writing, Life and Everything Else

 

Check out Olga’s Amazon Profile Page where you can find all her books including the Audible Audio Editions
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If you’d like to keep updated with all of Olga’s news subscribe to her Newsletter

Connect with Olga on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Google+

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Goodreads

YouTube

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If you’re wondering about the little owl pictures throughout the post it’s because Olga loves owls. 😉

SPOTLIGHT: D. G. Kaye ~ Live. Laugh. Love. And Don’t Forget to Breathe.

29 May

“Friends are like bras: close to your heart and there for support.”

~Donna Roberts

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It is my pleasure to introduce today a woman who I greatly admire for her strength, positive attitude, and writing talent: Debby Gies (D. G. Kaye). She is also a very supportive friend. An author of nonfiction memoir she writes about life, matters of the heart and women’s issues. Debby inspires others by sharing stories about events she has encountered and lessons that come along with them.

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Growing up as an emotionally neglected child, she struggled, tormented with guilt, with whether or not she should remain obligated to being a faithful daughter, feeling in debt to her narcissistic mother for giving birth to her. Her first book, Conflicted Hearts is a memoir, written about her journey to seek solace from living with guilt.

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In keeping up with sharing her experiences in life, Debby thought about her turbulent voyage through menopause. No, it wasn’t fun. But in retrospect, she had to laugh when comparing symptoms with friends over some of the craziness of the side effects, so she decided to write Meno-What? A Memoir. The book is a short, humorous accounting of her passage through the hormonal injustice. In that book, she shared some of the many symptoms she encountered, hoping to shed some light and humor on what women may expect or experience at that unpredictable time. She also offers up some helpful hints she found useful for relief.

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Have Bags, Will Travel  is a travel memoir of tales and reminiscings from some of Debby’s more memorable trips, which all factor in the same ongoing issues for her – too much luggage! 😀

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Debby’s newest book, P.S. I Forgive You is Book II to Conflicted Hearts, a journey of seeking forgiveness for her narcissistic mother. As her death was approaching, she was forced by conflicting thoughts to reconcile her feelings about her mother and find a way to make peace within herself for her decision to remain estranged, yet find forgiveness for her to send her off with compassion.

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Words We Carry   focuses around women’s self-esteem issues. She talks about how and why we develop a low sense of self by using her own life experiences as examples. She shares stories about how she recognized her own shortcomings, and overcame her insecurities, hoping to empower others.

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D. G. Kaye’s writing is raw and honest. She hopes that through her writing others would relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

In her words . . .

Hi, I’m Debby Gies. I’m a Canadian author, and I write my books under the pen name of D.G. Kaye.

I love to laugh, and self-medicate with a daily dose of humor. When I’m not writing intimate memoirs, you’ll find me writing with humor in some of my other works and blog posts.

When I was a child, I was very observant about my surroundings. Growing up in a tumultuous family life; otherwise known as a broken home, kept me on guard about the on-and-off-going status of my parents’ relationship. I often wrote notes, and journaled about the dysfunction that I grew up in. By age seven I was certain I was going to grow up to be a reporter.

Well life has a funny way of taking detours. Instead, I moved away from home at eighteen with a few meager belongings and a curiosity for life. I finished university and changed careers a few times always striving to work my way up to managerial positions. My drive to succeed at anything I put my mind to led me to having a very colorful and eventful life.

Ever the optimist, that is me. I’ve conquered quite a few battles in life; health and otherwise, and my refusal to accept the word ‘No’, or to use the words ‘I can’t’, keeps me on a positive path in life.

I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences.

D.G. Kaye (Debby Gies) writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and the lessons she learned from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome some of the many obstacles that challenged her.

Check out Debby’s Blog:

D. G. Kaye Live. Laugh. Love  And Don’t Forget to Breathe!

Connect with her on social media:

Facebook

Twitter

Google+

Pinterest

Is there a narcissist in your life? How does that person affect your life? 

Are you going through menopause? Is someone close to you going through menopause? How are you or they dealing with the symptoms?

Do you enjoy traveling? What’s the funniest, scariest, or most shocking experience you’ve had while traveling?

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I hope you enjoyed today’s ‘Spotlight’. Give Debby some love in the comments below.

 

 

Spotlight: Hugh W. Roberts

22 May

Welcome to my blog, everyone! It is a happy Monday indeed because I have a wonderful guest today, Author Hugh W. Roberts.

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Hugh is one of the sweetest and friendliest people you’ll ever meet and he is also a talented writer. He writes about all kinds of everyday life. Nothing too serious, mostly about the little things in life and how important they can be to all of us. Some of his posts are humorous while others may bring a tear to your eye.

Hugh spends his days writing, reading, walking, cycling and likes to relax in front of the television with a glass of red wine. He’s always been a morning person and does most of his writing during the day.

Hugh’s first book ‘Glimpses‘ is a collection of 28 short stories that allows the reader a peek into the lives of everyday people who are about to have life lead them on an unpredicted path. From a mysterious deadly iPad app, to a hole in the fence that is not all it seems, to a strange lipstick that appears to have a life of its own, you will encounter terror, laughter, sadness, shock and many other emotions on journeys which promise a thrilling and gripping climax. If you are a lover of shows such as ‘The Twilight Zone’ and ‘Tales Of The Unexpected’, then you’re in for a real treat with this first collection of short stories.

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In his words . . . 

My name is Hugh, and I live in both the town of Abergavenny and the city of Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom.

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I have always enjoyed writing and the fact I suffer from a mild form of dyslexia has not stopped me. Yes, I get things wrong with my reading and writing but I now always find those mistakes humorous and always laugh about it. I no longer allow dyslexia get in my way. Now in my fifties, I thought it about time I let my writing become public. Becoming a blogger seemed to be the perfect way for me to do this. I lead a very happy life and always try to stay positive. I share my life with my wonderful Civil Partner, John, and our Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Toby, who I both cherish with all my heart.

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I write about life because I find it so fascinating. I have many stories to tell, some of which I have started to put into a book. I think my life has been incredible and I want to share it with anyone that wants to listen. I am also a wonderful listener and I love to be interactive with other people. I guess you could say I am a ‘people person.’

Hugh’s book Glimpses has gotten many wonderful reviews and it’s available on Amazon as a beautiful paperback or eBook.

Check out Hugh’s blog at: Hugh’s Views & News – A man with dyslexia writing about this and that and everything else!

You can also connect with Hugh on social media:

Twitter

Instagram

Google+

YouTube

 

Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week!

 

Spotlight: Michael C. Hayes (My Book Cover Artist)

15 May

Spotlight: Michael C. Hayes (My Book Cover Artist)


It is my privilege to introduce today a creative and just plain gifted artist, Michael C. Hayes.

His amazing artistry will inspire you. I have always said, art and writing go hand in hand just like poetry and music. I am honored to have one of Michael C. Hayes’ works grace the cover of my upcoming novel, The Fall of Lilith. I will do a cover reveal later on but for now I want to showcase this artist and his magnificent works of art.

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In Michael’s words . . .

If you had told me I would end up painting for a living when I was 17, I would have assumed you meant houses or cars. The idea of creating a representational image out of pigments suspended in linseed oil was so far removed from what I thought I was meant to do in life.

Most other artists I know tell stories of ceaselessly drawing as children and never stopping. Drawing was something I was dragged into against my will. Once I stopped grumbling about it and tried to make the best of the situation, I discovered an unrealized passion. It is funny how a seemingly insignificant high school elective can change your life for the better.

At that point in my life I was set on making the big bucks in the glamorous field of software engineering, so when I learned in order to graduate I had to take an art elective instead of a programming course, I was not happy. I chose animation as the elective; over the  course of that semester, I found that I enjoyed drawing. I was also introduced to a few 3d animation programs, for which I developed an affinity. I eventually decided that animation would be a lot more fun than writing code.

In the 5 years that followed, I studied at a local community college and later at Cogswell Polytechnical College, earning a degree with honors in Digital Arts and Animation. Throughout the years it became evermore apparent that 3D animation was not quite what I wanted to devote my career to. I was slowly spending more and more time and effort on my traditional drawing, painting, and sculpting courses and less time building wire frames on the computer. By the time I was ready to graduate my goals had once again changed. All the years of required art courses and a few influential and supportive professors had made their mark: I was undeniably hooked.

I moved back to San Diego after graduating in 2005 and enrolled at Watts Atelier of the Arts. Free from the constraints of term papers and physics tests, and in a wonderful artistic environment, I began spending almost every waking moment I could spare on a drawing bench or in front of an easel.  I often tell people the crammed 20 years worth of study into my short time at the atelier.  As a result of this effort, and a few extraordinary teachers, my artistic skills began to develop to professional level.

About halfway through 2008 I got my first professional gig working freelance on a game called “Legends of Norrath”.  In the years that followed I began to receive more and more work and took fewer and fewer classes, slowly transitioning from student to full time professional.  Since then I have had the good fortune to work for clients such as: Wizards of the Coast, Blizzard Entertainment, Sony Online Entertainment, LucasArts Entertainment, Night Shade Books, Palladium Books and others.  In the past few years I have received several ARC awards, a Chesley award and a nomination for a Spectrum award.

In late 2013 I decided to make some changes and pull away from the freelance world for awhile. Although I will still take those projects that are too good to pass up I plan to spend a few years focusing on my personal work.

There is so much more art to see. Check out more of Michael’s work and connect with him at the sites bellow:

DeviantArt

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

You can sign up for Michael’s newsletter here.

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The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack

11 Oct

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to my blog! Thank you for stopping by. It is my great pleasure to introduce to you today the fascinating, creative, unique writer and blogger C. S. Boyack

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Craig S. Boyack has released a new book called ‘The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II‘ which follows ‘The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack I‘ and is a second collection of short stories and micro-fiction. These are stories that can be read in a single session and include science fiction, fantasy, paranormal and horror.

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In his words . . .

I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Craig

Questions for C. S. Boyack

 

What were you like at school?

 

I was a good student, and got good grades. More on that in your next question. I was kind of the class clown too. We ran in a large crowd, but it was a small town. Everyone knew everyone else.

 

Were you good at English?

 

Oh, God no. English was my worst subject, and I even flunked it once. Mrs. Munger had us write a short story. She thought mine was “off color” and flunked me for the entire quarter over it.

 

Part of the reason for my dislike of the class is the way they taught it. We spent all of our time diagraming sentences and identifying verbs. They rarely ever let us actually use English either in writing or speaking. I think that short story may have been the only thing we wrote all year in there. We did more writing in science class.

 

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

 

We all have that secret dream in the back of our minds. You know the one, the one where we hit superstardom and can dedicate all our time to writing. I know it isn’t realistic, but it’s still there.

 

In reality, my long game is to supplement my retirement income in some way. An extra thousand per month would be wonderful. I have about ten to fifteen years to get there.

 

Which writers inspire you?

 

It probably seems goofy to say all of them. Writers struggle, learn, and grow. We all have a different pace, but as long as we’re improving it’s all good.

 

I’m sure you meant a roster of names, so I’ll check some off. Michael Crichton, Cheri Priest, and Jim Butcher. There is so much creativity there it amazes me. In some small way, they pioneered new things in fiction.

 

Who is Lisa Burton? Tell us briefly about her.

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Lisa Burton

 

Lisa is my original character. She was the first main character that I felt was worthy of sharing with the world. As such, I’m very proud of her. Her origin story is called Wild Concept, and while it may be a little rough around the edges, it marks the start of my writing career. Lisa is a robot, and it was fun using an artificial intelligence as a main character.

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I recycled Lisa and hired her as my personal assistant at the writing cabin. These posts are usually about my efforts as a writer, but are also a way of sharing some original fiction with my blog followers. I promoted Lisa to spokesmodel for my career, and she now makes blog appearances herself, and has promotional pinup style posters for my books. This year she started hosting Lisa Burton Radio, where she interviews the fictional characters of other authors. It’s been really popular, and I’m sure she’d love to interview one of your characters.

 

Do you have a muse? If so, what is your muse’s name? Tell us about your muse.

 

It all started back in the 1980s. This was a time of the first computers, and they didn’t even have hard drives. You used two floppy disks, one for the program, and one for your work product.

 

My boss just purchased one, and learning the word processor was my assignment. Lorelei, the Muse, approached me and talked me into trying some fiction. (We’re talking after hours, back at the office until midnight or later.) After I figured out the word processor, I gave it up. I was young and single, and there were better things to do.

 

Lorelei never gave up, and as an immortal, she had time on her side. She approached me again as a father of three who couldn’t afford to do much more than write for entertainment. She also makes occasional appearances at the writing cabin. She sends me so many ideas that I can’t use them all.

 

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

 

I believe in adding tools to my toolbox. I’m constantly trying new things. When I wrote The Playground, I wanted to weave together three different stories into a cohesive whole. It’s a cool way to tell the story, and they come together at the end to bring the conclusion. It wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I did it.

 

We never know what we’re capable of until we try. I feel that if a story called for this style again, I could do a workman like job of it now.

 

 

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.

 

I like having power over my covers. Some of them reflect a scene in the story, others give a reflection of what’s inside. I just talked about limited funds, but the cover is one place where I spend the money. It really is the first impression we never get to do over.

 

I tried to hit up the local universities and colleges, but nobody would even return my calls. Finally, I started stalking DeviantArt and looking for artists I liked. I’ve wound up with several different artists, and met some great people that way.

 

 

 

What was the weirdest thing you’ve ever ‘Googled’ while researching a story?

 

Authors are always researching things that are a bit sketchy. For one of my trunk novels, I researched how to make phosgene gas. It was one of three chemical weapons used in World War One. For my lone fantasy novel, I researched how to make black powder. I must be on a government watchlist somewhere by now.

 

What does your writing process look like?

 

I work best with an outline, but it may be different than other plotters use. I make a virtual storyboard. Index cards mark the beats I want to hit, then I free write between the index cards.

 

Do you have any strange writing habits?

 

Silence. Distractions pull me out of my game, and stop me cold. This makes it hard to get quality writing time around my house. Sometimes I set an alarm and get up early. Other times, I take vacation when my wife has to work. I can’t even listen to music and produce the kind of quality I want.

 

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?

 

I hate naming characters. Sometimes it works out well, and other times it just doesn’t seem to work. I tried going with meaning a couple of times, and the results were terrible. I think the sound method works best for me.

 

Funny aside; I like to search through the Major League Baseball rosters for last names. If you search through my old books you’ll see last names like Bench and Larkin. Now I’m writing a book of short stories about a new league, called The Enhanced League. I can’t use baseball names for these characters, and feel kind of lost. Maybe I should check the NFL or something.

 

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

 

Maybe a bit more slapstick than you’re looking for, but I split the crotch of my pants at work. It was a small tear, and I live twenty miles from the office. I spent my day behind my desk and prayed nobody needed me elsewhere.

 

What is your least favorite thing about humanity?

 

I don’t care for the way we’ve devolved into a kind of personal anarchy. The world seems to function around getting what we want and not what we earn. People throw tantrums, lie, accuse, and more to get what they want. There is no reverence for honor, respect, decency, and personal responsibility these days.

 

If I were to poll everyone that knows you, what percent would not be a fan of yours? Then, if I were to interview these people, what words would they most frequently use to describe you?

 

I’d say about half would not be fans. This has more to do with my paycheck job than anything else. Quite often, when I do my job well someone isn’t happy. They might call me nit-picky, draconian, and punitive. (We never talk about the paycheck job in the writer world. I have two lives and try to keep them separate.)

 

What is your writing Kryptonite?

 

Noise and distraction. I need to concentrate to write well. I manage a bit of short form with peripheral noise, but I don’t have to keep as many details straight like major character arc, tracking of time, etc.

 

What does literary success look like to you?

 

A little bit of extra income, like I mentioned earlier. I can put out about three books every two years. As long as I keep improving my craft I’m pretty happy.

 

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

 

Concentrating on the idea that they are the opposite sex. When I find myself doing that, I stop myself and rewrite. Worrying about specific issues is usually wrong. Little things are okay to weave in, like a woman needing a restroom instead of a tree.

 

I’ve been told that I write female characters well. I just treat them like people, and write them like that.

 

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

 

I could sluff off all the bad things here, but I don’t think that’s what we’re going for. My life is pretty darned good right now. My paycheck job keeps the lights on, and I have a great family. I wouldn’t give up any of those things. Writing is important to me, but it’s a sideline to the main things. I guess I’m not giving up anything. I’ll get there through hard work and dedication.

 

Do you believe in writer’s block?

 

No. There are times when a plot issue will stall me, a bit of thought is needed. I use those time to switch to short form, and the answer usually comes to me. Other times, I bull through the problem.

 

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

 

I overheard my grandfather talking about me once. I was quite young, and he said I could carry on an intelligent conversation about almost any topic. The way he said it told me that was important.

 

***

 

Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Vashti. These were some tough questions, and I love a good challenge. I’m serious about a character interview too, whenever you’re ready.

Craig has a large body of works that you can check out on Amazon. His books are unique, fascinating, and well-written. He sells them at a price that is well worth the risk of buying.

Here are some reviews on The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack I:

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Experimental Notebook is a collection of stories that have been written to entertain and not to leave the reader up in the air wondering what was the point of the story. So many times short story writers think they need to do a story that has an obscure ending to qualify as a literary piece. C.S. Boyack has taken a number of different circumstances and crafted stories that have entertainment value. He sometimes takes a bizarre look at a particular situation but in each case when the story ends the reader has the whole package. There is also an element of humor that the author continues to interject in most of the stories. The humor is not laugh out loud funny but carries a more wry intelligent, subtle tone. The reader more than once will chuckle at the onset and then find a smile as the humorous piece finishes much as one would experience with a sip of fine wine.
The creativeness of C.S. Boyack is apparent His stories have that familiarity that the reader would swear came out of the author living an experience. Of course, some of the plots and subject material make this assumption entirely impossible and thus the real talent of the artist is discovered. Boyack writes a story as if he lived it. The characters and plotlines are so simply yet so carefully designed that the author makes this kind of storytelling look easy. The reader finishes the Notebook knowing what looks easy and what turns out to be the types of stories written are at opposite poles of one another. The Creative Notebook is excellent writing, and I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to enjoy a wonderful reading experience. ~John W. Howell

Short and micro fiction is becoming more popular today, and after reading this unique collection of stories, I can see why. The author has done a wonderful job of bringing together a mixture of speculative fiction, oddities, sci-fi, and fantasy. There’s basically a treat waiting here for everyone, each tale unique and waiting to deliver a twisty ending.

You can read these tales anywhere—on a commute, during a coffee break, or even when you’re hovering around the water cooler. Or you might do like I did, and indulge with one right after the other. Whether you choose to savor them individually or all at once, a healthy mix of enchantment, adventure, humor, and shivers awaits! ~Mae Clair

Right out of the gate, you’re hit with a story that has a twist ending. This really set the tempo of the other stories, which kept me interested in the whole collection. Every story has something unique about it, which makes it really hard to do an overview of the collection. For example, ‘The Soup Ladle of Destiny’ is very humorous and rather lighthearted compared to some of the others. If I had to pick the one that really stuck with me it would be a tie between that and ’50 Gallon Drum’. Since many of these are micro-fiction, I can’t say much without spoilers and that would ruin all the fun since the author has knack for surprise endings.

I’d highly recommend this for anyone who wants to be entertained by several quick reads.

~Charles E. Yallowitz

There are many more 5 star reviews but I can’t fit them all here. Check out his Amazon Author Page and check out all his books and reviews.

Follow C. S. Boyack’s blog

Check out his novels

Twitter

Goodreads

Facebook

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I hope you enjoyed this author interview. Please show Craig S. Boyack some love in the comments below. Thank you!

Writers, Bloggers, and Poets, Oh My!

5 Jun

Hello my friends! I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite bloggers. Maybe you can take some time to visit their blogs. I’m sure you will fall in love with at least one of these wonderfully creative people.

*Spotlighted today are a wonderful group of writers, poets, photographer, and bloggers that are sure to please.

 

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On this blog you’ll see many pretty illustrations and the most amazing poetry created by Staci Lys. I really enjoy visiting this blog, it always puts me in the best of moods. I’ve often told her that I’d like to frame her work and put it on my wall. I have to be careful though, because I can easily lose track of time when visiting. I love it. 😉

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The Quiet Journey (Monotetra) by Staci Lys

 Author/Translator Olga

Olga Nuñez Miret is a multi-published author, translator (English-Spanish/Spanish-English), book blogger, and radio personality. She talks about books, writing, life and everything else on her blog. I find Olga and her blog fascinating. Her book reviews are honest and insightful, as well as entertaining. She’s an intelligent, sweet, and charming person and it comes through in all her posts.

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 A Certain Point of View

Alistair Lane is a poet, writer and self-described ‘daydreamer’, and that’s okay because his imagination is powerful and seem to have no limits. I am often blown away by the creativity and uniqueness of Al’s posts.

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Teagan’s Books

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene is an amazing writer of fantasy fiction. Reading one of her stories (she posts many on her blog) will have you convinced she’s a magician of language. Right now she is posting episodes of her story Guitar Mancer which I am currently reading, and my only regret is that I don’t have more time to read all the episodes at once. As if her stories weren’t enough she posts recipes at the end of each episode that correspond with what’s happening in the story. :p FUN!

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Mrs. AOK, A Work In Progress

Dean K has a fascinating eclectic blog full of great posts on topics like Lifestyle, Motherhood, Recipes, and much more. She hosts a link party called Mommy Monday Blog Hop which anyone can join by sharing links to your blog posts. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to meet other bloggers and share your stories, poems, recipes . . . I also love a segment she does called Thank You Notes. Check out her blog you will not be disappointed.

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Cindy Knoke

5,894 internet followers can’t be wrong. Cindy’s blog has over 500,000 internet views. I’m not usually a numbers gal but this is hard to ignore. Cindy Knoke is a writer and nature and travel photographer.
She retired early after 27 years as a psychotherapist/mental health director and moved to the outer limits of no-wheres-ville to a home she calls “The Holler” in rural California. I thought there weren’t any rural areas left in California but I was wrong. Cindy’s photographs will transport and mesmerize you, and coupled with her beautiful and sometimes witty words will entertain you. Check out some of her work below.

Cindy Knoke-photographer-writer-The Writer Next Door The Writer Next Door-photograph-bears-Cindy Knoke Cindy Knoke-pictures-writer-photo-The Writer Next Door

antarctica-photo-Cindy Knoke pictures-photographer-Cindy Knoke Andalucia-Spain-photo-Cindy Knoke photographer-writer-blogger-cindy knoke

Of course there are many other blogs I visit and like very much and I will introduce more blogs at a later time. For now, please visit these blogs––I guarantee you will not regret it. 😉 Have a wonderful day!