Pretty Nick Worthy (Clickbait)

Hey you there! Yeah, you, reading the Internet! Look over here! I know you want to read the news or check out the crazy antics of America’s cats, but you’ll have to wait for a moment while I draw you into my website with headlines about items I know you’re interested in reading about. It’s […]

via Did cavemen create the original clickbait? And is it the secret to staying healthy? — nickclaussen.com

Bunnies Belong in Fields, not Mansions

It was announced last night that the last Playboy Bunny Girl, who was part of a specialist breeding program in the 60s, has passed away peacefully in her enclosure at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, California. Candy Fabulous, 61 – real name, Beryl Arkwright and originally from Sheffield – died after a long […]

via Last surviving Bunny Girl bred in captivity dies at The Playboy Mansion — The Whitechapel Whelk

Introducing… Citizen Kill

Stephen Clark’s debut novel, Citizen Kill, is coming out July 4th 2017 and he’s been kind enough to give me a sneak-peak of the book.

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In a not-too-alternative-present, Citizen Kill tells the story of how a new administration reboots the War on Terror after the president’s young son is killed in an explosion. A CIA program targeting U.S. citizens suspected of radicalizing Muslims, has more than just re-education in mind. In this version of events, these people are presumed guilty as soon as flagged and to save any doubt, approved for assassination.

CIA black-ops agent Justin Raines is among the recruits in the new program, but haunted by a botched assignment overseas, Justin has a developed a healthy scepticism for authority and the new administration. And when one of his targets, turns out to be respected educator, who he believes is innocent, he grows disillusioned. Justin knows, if he doesn’t find a way to prove, beyond a doubt, her innocence, he’ll still be expected to eliminate her. And if he doesn’t, they will both be assassinated.

“Washington stops at nothing to protect the nation from terrorists, while Justin Raines risks everything to protect the nation from Washington.”

Check it out on Goodreads here

http://stephenclarkbooks.com

30492f_b6a0fbd90ae047a481eb9df6567d62cf~mv2.jpgStephen Clark is a former award-winning journalist who served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and as a politics editor for the Washington, D.C. bureau of FoxNews.com.

As a reporter for the Utica Observer-Dispatch, he won a New York Newspaper Publishers Association Award of Distinguished Community Service for his investigation into the financial struggles of nonprofit services.

 

Guest Post: Portraits of Montserrat: AP McGrath

This week, Guest Blogger, Photographer and Author A .P. McGrath talks about his novel “A Burning in the Darkness” and his portraits of Montserrat.

“The small town in south Tipperary in Ireland where I grew up had a population of 5,000 and when I was a teenager I began taking black and white photographs of local people in the places where they worked and lived. My mum knew the editor of the local newspaper – everybody knows everybody in a town that small. He liked the pictures I was taking and offered a weekly slot entitled ‘The Town and It’s People’. I would approach shop owners, butchers, pub owners etc. and ask them if I could drop by some day soon to take their picture. I realised they would dress up a little and strike a certain pose, but people reveal themselves through these self-conscious acts as much as they do when they are caught unawares. These folk had a certain pride in their living or work places and I wanted to capture these spaces as much as the people themselves. I was interested in the details of the old shops that were giving way to the more modern out of town shopping. I liked the light and the tonality and the resonances of past times. The weekly portraits were a hit with the townsfolk. Indeed on more than one occasion I remember my mum remarking to me “Oh, I hear Mrs O’Reilly is disappointed you haven’t taken her photograph”. The townsfolk wanted themselves seen in and certain light and, in truth, I probably had my own slightly selfish reasons for taking the photographs. I knew that I wanted to leave.

“Probably all of the world’s biggest airports have a quiet prayer room offering sanctuary before a journey. A traveller might be embarking on a whole new life in a new country. Maybe he or she has planned an escape from an anxious past or is simply going on a welcome family holiday in the sun. Travel can also be a dreary necessity. We may need to make a business trip or a journey because of events that are beyond our control, as in the death of a family member or loved one. One friend told me she was about to go on a business trip when she miscarried her second pregnancy. She was in her mid to late forties and knew it was probably her last chance to give her young son a brother or sister. She entered the quietness of the prayer room and had a think and a good cry before she carried on with her journey. The prayer room had been a welcome and necessary shelter.

Smaller cover McGrath_DRAFT2 #2 Smaller Size (1)“In a novel, place is inseparable from character and events. Indeed it can become an effective character in itself, a protagonist, soaked in mood. My novel A Burning in the Darkness begins in the prayer room of one of the world’s biggest airports. There is a tiny confessional box and in its anonymous darkness a voice confesses a murder to Father Michael Kieh, but a young boy has witnessed the killer go into the confessional. Michael becomes the main suspect in the murder investigation because of a group of pitiless antagonists, but he doesn’t betray the identity of the young boy nor break the Seal of Confession.

“The airport is a cinematic place. It is a frenzied cathedral dedicated to travel. It is also a lonely place. Michael is one of a number of faith representatives tending to the needs of more than 80 million passengers who pass through its gates each year, yet he rarely gets to see members of his flock more than once. His environment is constantly changing and he begins to question his faith. As a consequence, he is drawn to the companionship of an art dealer, Joan, who frequents the airport for business trips.

“Michael grew up in Liberia in the midst of its brutal civil war. His childhood experiences shaped him and made him what he is: a good man. I wanted to explore the idea that he had the freedom to think differently from his environment. He had the ability to strike out against its dominant mood because he wanted the world to be good and not characterised by the destructive madness of war. And he had the strength of character to do it.  

“I studied English and Philosophy at University College Dublin, but I also trained and studied as a photographer. In the late eighties I had the opportunity to go to the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat and used my time there to take portraits of some of its people. Some months ago, after I’d finished writing the novel, I was doing a clean-out of the attic and came across the photographs which had been hidden away for many years.

APMcGrath Montserrat 5aI was struck by the way they explore the intertwined relationship between character and environment. In technical terms the portraits are taken with a wide angle lens so that you see both the person and the surroundings. I was drawn to the looming Soufrière Hills volcano at the centre of the island and it becomes the backdrop to many of the photographs. However in July 1995, the volcano erupted and destroyed most of the main habitable areas, including the principle town, the airport and docking facilities. Two thirds of the population was forced to leave, mainly to the UK.APMcGrath Montserrat 6a

Most of the photographs were taken in parts of the island ravaged by the volcano. This area was designated an exclusion zone and it covers more than half of the island. So there is poignancy to these photographs that capture a world now lost.

Several months before the publication of my novel I realised I had to set up a web site. I’m not a corporate person. I couldn’t see myself in a smiling brochure portrait, passing myself off as a kind of salesperson. But I could see that the photographs of Montserrat might say as much about me as they do about the people in the photographs. APMcGrath Montserrat 4aThe quality of the relationship between the subject and the artist is crucial. The degree of imaginative sympathy for the subject is something that sets a good work of art a part from others. The ultimate skill is not in mastering the camera or a fancy ability with words; it is getting the subjects to reveal themselves – even if the subject is entirely your invention.”

AP McGrath

You can find more portraits of Montserrat on AP’s web site: http://www.apmcgrath.com.

 

Yippee! Free on Kindle. A Burning in The Darkness

Get your free kindle edition here

A Burning in The Darkness by A P McGrath

‘Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.’

Michael immediately recognised the voice. ‘What do you wish to confess?’

‘She won’t be waiting for you.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘I’m truly sorry,’ the penitent whispered, his voice breaking with remorse. ‘This was commanded. I was angry with her. I was angry with you. I’m begging God’s forgiveness.’

‘What have you done?’        

‘The worst thing…’

Smaller cover McGrath_DRAFT2 #2 Smaller Size (1)Michael Kieh is a faith rep in one of the world’s busiest airports. His own experiences during the Liberian civil war compel him to help those in need, but he becomes embroiled in a gruesome murder mystery his own compassion will make him a suspect.

His struggle to prove his innocence will lead him on a charged journey that pitches love against revenge. He’s innocent, he must be innocent….But is there something about Michael we don’t yet know?

A Burning in the Darkness is available for free download on Amazon from June 12th – June 17th 2017.

Get your free kindle edition here

Rainbows and Unicorns! Why your unicorn is a homophobic, has-been ready to die a mythical death.

 

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I won’t do a big intro. We’re all busy and no one reads intros. I’ll get straight to it.

We’re all being bombarded with unicorn things in the tackiest sales pitch of the century. It’s bullshit and we know it.images2 But it’s even darker and more cynical than you realise.

 If you like unicorn shit, you can buy it

Yeah, unicorn fluff, that’s poop and it’s meant to be funny. You can also buy meat, milk, burps, blood and spunk and other ironic unicorn related stuff.
But the spunk is probably the only trustworthy unicorn product on the market.

Because – in mythology a unicorn is an erection… basically. It was a horned beast who would show up if a maiden flashed her baps (English for, going topless). But like all things weird, somewhere along the line it got hijacked, firstly by the Renaissance painters who liked to paint anything that could be interpreted using bare breasted women and later by cartoonists from France to Japan.7eec1992b2ce68565782df8b38769cd0

 Why are we seeing them now?

Nostalgia. Plain and simple. It sells and the Millennials are suckers for it because the world right now is so shitty and unpredictable. Those cartoons that have been doing the
rounds since the 80s, Rainbow Bright, The Last Unicorn, My Little Pony, She-Ra, tended to have a unicorn of two in.

Hang on. Did someone say Rainbow?

Yeah. Me. Rainbow Bright. If you remember your nostalgia accurately, you’ll also remember she didn’t have a unicorn, but ask most people and they’ll swear she did. Why was that? It’s the association with rainbows. In the last few years, we’ve started putting unicorns and rainbows in the same sentence. i.e. “Rainbows and Unicorns!” (Transl. Think Positive).

 OMG! I love rainbows!

Rainbow colours in my hair, on my nails, in my ice cream – happy, happy, happy. I love rainbows. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t. But guess who really loves rainbows. The LGBT+ community. Oh… wait… hang on… marketing trend toe curl… “If we say rainbow when talking about all things rainbowy, won’t we sound, well… a bit gay?”

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Yes. And there is the reason all your pretty, multi-coloured stuff got rebranded as UNICORN. It’s not because it’s pastel. Look at a rainbow. Rainbows are pastel. And none of this stuff has anything to do with horses or horns. It’s because firms like Starbucks want to cash in on your desperation to buy something colourful and happy but they don’t want to risk losing 50% of these potential customers who might have negative feelings towards rainbows.

HUnknown1owever..
Thanks to Starbucks and the like, the nostalgia of a unicorn is now being replaced with real, recent memories, which might not be so sparkly. Anyone who’s had a Unicorn Cappuccino will realise, while your drinking your sugar fluff, your phone still rings, your boss still loses it and people are still using your tax money to drop bombs on children in other countries.

So either way, we’re over it. The Last Unicorn will die soon. But rest assured, something equally meaningless is waiting in the shadows to take its place.

 

How to format your novel / book for Createaspace: The easy / lazy way.

 

So, after pressure from friends and family who still read on paper, I just formatted Dead Memories for Print On Demand on Createaspace.

Here’s the cover, cute eh? 1

But…why oh why? What did I do in a previous life to deserve that?

Maybe it’s just me, but even using their template, formatting a book for Createaspace drives me absolutely mental! The mirrored headers and footers and different sections just jump about all over the place and when you finally think you’ve got it, you hit save, close it, open it again and it’s changed.

I know I’m not alone because at least twice a month, someone asks me to help them format their book. So, this time, when I did it, I wrote the steps down. And here they are.

NB: 1 Before you start, if you’re working from the UK or anywhere else using the decimal system, go to PREFERENCES > GENERAL. At the bottom of this box, switch over your measurement preference to INCHES. The Brits hate to do this, but as you’ll be submitting to Createaspace and they do everything in inches too and as most book cover designs are in inches… well you get the idea.

Here we go…

PART ONE

  1. Open your finished manuscript (Which is already in the right fonts and sizes) and go to LAYOUT > PAGE SETUP > MARGINS > CUSTOM MARGINS. (This is the route in the Word Tool Bar. In full screen, this is the only tool bar you’ll see)
    1. Make the top margin 1″, the bottom 1″, the inside .9″, and the outside .6″.
    2. Tick Mirror Margins and OK
  2. In the same window, hit PAGE SETUP go to PAGE SIZE and scroll down to CUSTOM SIZE (There’s a SIZE under PAGE SETUP too, but no custom options here. So if you’re here, don’t panic. Back out and go the long way)
    1. Pick your size according to the print size options in Createaspace. e.g 5” x 8”, 5.5″ x 8.5″ etc. Click OK
  3. Go to FIND > REPLACE and type 2 spaces into FIND and one space into REPLACE. This will remove any accidental double spaces.
  4. SELECT ALL or APPLE + A and
    1. Change line spacing to 1.5.
    2. Justify your margins.
    3. Still in SELECT ALL go to LAYOUT > Hyphenation and click Automatic. Save                  images

Before we go any further, you have 2 format submission options in Createaspace and now is the time to consider these. If you chose to submit in WORD, Createaspase will convert your doc to a PDF and it may look a little different to your original. However if you submit a PDF you’ll need to make sure your program can also provide you with the size of page you have selected (5” x 8” etc).

PDF is the easier option! Also if you use a PDF you can skip the SECTION BREAK stuff and just make 3 PDFS (Front Matter, Story, Back Matter) and then combine.

It’s up to you.

But if your PDF maker doesn’t give you the right sizes, stay in word and submit in word watch out for SECTION BREAKS (ODD and EVEN) like this…

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PART TWO

  1. Your Front Matter should include
    1. A title page with the title and your name in a larger font in bold. A copyright page plus ISBN. Optional: a dedication page. Optional: “Praise for” page full of nice things people have said about your book. Optional: Table of Contents (for short story or poem collections only. No one looks up chapters in novels)
  2. If you click now on DOCUMENT ELEMENTS > HEADER you’ll see it says SECTION 1. This is your front matter section and it shouldn’t contain any headers or footers or page numbers.
  3. Go to the first page of you story Familiarise yourself with how it looks, bring your mouse up to the top of the screen and the standard tool bar will appear.
    1. In VIEW, select DRAFT. Your manuscript will now look like it’s just come off a 1980s printer but you can see the formatting more clearly.
    2. In Draft, on the page before your story beings, after the text on that page finishes, click in, and go up to the to main toolbar INSERT > BREAK > SECTION BREAK . Insert a SECTION BREAK (ODD PAGE).
    3. Come back to View and select PRINT LAYOUT. Now the view looks like it did as before. Click in a header and it should say SECTION 2. New rules apply to this section as to the last.
  4. Go to the first page of you story Click into a header area, the HEADER & FOOTER toolbar shows up.
    1. Click the box for ODD & EVEN PAGES.
    2. Click the box for DIFFERENT FIRST PAGE
    3. Make sure LINK TO PREVIOUS box is not selected.
    4. Choose your Header Style. (Blank or Basic). Save
  5. Now go to the second page of your story and click into the header.
    1. Do a visual check in the tool bar for HEADERS AND FOOTERS that LINK TO PREVIOUS IS STILL UNCHECKED.
    2. Type the author name in caps.
    3. Highlight and right align it. (Some people prefer their name and title in the middle, but if you get the right, left alignment mixed up, the final version will look off. And this is the easy / lazy version of the formatting)
  6. Next page (third page)
    1. Click the Header and type the book name in caps.
    2. Highlight, left align it.
  7. You’ll now have your name on the left and your title on the right on the mirrored pages. If you prefer them swapped, swap them.
  8. Go back to the first page of the story and make sure nothing showed up in the header. If it did, go back to the Header Footer toolbar and make sure, different first page is still selected.
  9. Check the header hasn’t shown up on the Front Matter.
    1. If it has, you need to select this header, delete it, unclick LINK TO PREVIOUS
  10. Go back to the second page of your story.
    1. Click in the footer
    2. Go to DOCUMENT ELEMENTS in the toolbar.
    3. Choose PAGE NUMBER. Choose Bottom of Page. Choose Outside. (Because you already selected different First Page, you shouldn’t see a number on the first page. If you do, check these boxes again. You can also check the “Don’t show on first page” option, but if you haven’t selected Different First Page, you’ll still need to do this to stop the header showing up on the first page)
    4. Go to the next page and repeat. As these are odd and even pages, word will know to run them consecutively. Save.

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PART THREE

  1. Go to the end of your story and add another SECTION BREAK. This time SECTION BREAK – NEXT PAGE. You can check in VIEW – DRAFT that it’s there come back to VIEW and click in the header. It should say SECTION 3.
  2. Now start your Back Matter: your bio, contact and follow data, thanks and acknowledgements.
  3. This section should also be free from Headers and footers and page numbers. Save

Now check and submit. Convert to a PDF if you like.

TROUBLESHOOTING (aka burying your mistakes)

Troubleshooting-e-faktur

So, some common issues in Createaspace that might come up are blank pages and odd pages starting on even numbered sides. i.e , the first page of your story shows up on the left hand side.

Both of these issues can be corrected with some creative additions of Section Breaks and page breaks. If you have 2 blank pages between your front matter and story, go back to the DRAFT view and see if there are section breaks or page breaks which are invisible in Print Layout.

If you story starts on the wrong side. I.e the left, add a SECTION BREAK (EVEN PAGE) right after the SECTION BREAL (ODD PAGE) as you see it in the draft view.

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I don’t know why we writers seem so inept when it comes to formatting a book, but hey, we do. And I suppose if the templates on CS were easier to us, they would be able to sell any of their $199 formatting packages.

All the best.

 

Here is my interview with Lissa Pelzer

Thanks for the interview Fiona!

authorsinterviews

Name Lissa Pelzer

Age  A lady never tells

Where are you from

The UK originally, but I’ve lived in the US, France, Japan and Denmark. I’m currently living in Germany


Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I first thought seriously about a career in writing during university. I was mesmerized by Patricia Highsmith novels and idolized her work and her lifestyle.


Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I go in and out of phases of considering myself a writer. Once I had a job as a content writer, churning out 3000 words a day for a salary, then I felt like a writer!


Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

Patricia Highsmith’s Talented Mr Ripley. I desperately wanted to create a character than aspirational.


Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I try for an economic, plot driven style, but know that…

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