Author Q&A- Tony Riches

Today I had the pleasure of talking to best-selling historical fiction author Tony Riches. Tony is a full time author and lives in Pembrokeshire, one of the most unspoilt areas of the UK. Read the interview below!

 Tony  Riches Pembroke

Q: How long have you been writing?

A: Like many authors, I wrote for magazines and journals before self-publishing my first book on Amazon four years ago. It was a short ebook about how everyone can use the principles of Agile Project Management and was a surprising success. I went on to write non-fiction books on subjects as diverse as the story of Scott’s Antarctic ship, the Terra Nova, to Atlantis, about the last flight of the NASA Space shuttle. Now my focus is very much on historical fiction and I have become something of an expert on the rise of the Tudor dynasty.

Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?

A: My muse is my wife, Liz, who always encourages me to write and helps me develop my ideas and characters. It was Liz’s idea for me to write The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham – about her ancestor who was condemned as a witch and imprisoned for life.

Q: What was the main idea behind your series The Tutor Trilogy?

A: Everyone knows about King Henry VIII and his daughter, Queen Elizabeth Ist – but I was surprised to discover there were no books about the amazing story of Owen Tudor, the Welsh servant who married a queen and founded the Tudor dynasty. I discovered several accounts of the life of Henry Tudor (who later became King Henry VII and began the Tudor Dynasty) but there were no novels that brought his own story to life. The idea for the Tudor Trilogy occurred to me when I realized Henry Tudor could be born in book one, ‘come of age’ with the help of Owen’s son, Jasper Tudor, in book two, and rule England in book three, so there would be plenty of scope to explore his life and times.

Owen and Jasper

Q: Have you always been interested in history? What sparked your passion?

A: Yes – and I enjoy visiting historic sites, so the research for my books is always fun. In June I’m off to explore chateaus in Brittany where Jasper and Henry Tudor lived in exile. I think my passion was ‘sparked’ by the Hollywood historical epics, which raised more questions than they answered – and led to me reading the original sources.

Q: Is there a particular time in history that you find most interesting? If so, when and why?

A: I was born within sight of Pembroke Castle, so I feel a special connection with Henry Tudor, who was born there. My historical fiction books have so far been set in the fifteenth century, during what have become known as ‘The Wars of The Roses’ – and I have a wealth of books I’ve collected over the years on life in the period. As a writer I’m glad there are plenty of detailed records of the time – but it’s still little known by most readers, which means they can learn a lot from my books.

Q: If you could travel back in time, when would you go and where would you visit?

A: I’d like to return to Pembroke Castle at Christmas 1460 and find a way to warn Owen Tudor and his son Jasper NOT to take on the army of Edward of York!

Q: Which of your books has been the most fun to write?

A: I’ve particularly enjoyed writing my last book, JASPER, as the hero Jasper Tudor has some great qualities. He never forgot his promise to his brother’s widow, Lady Margaret Beaufort, to always look after her son, Henry Tudor. In the new book he narrowly escapes York’s army and flees with his nephew Henry to exile in Brittany. In an unlikely and daring move, they then return to England with an army to seize the throne for Henry.

Q: How much ‘grunt work’ goes into each of your books?

A: One of the great things about writing historical fiction is that I have the ‘framework’ of my historical research – so all I have to do is ‘fill in the gaps’. I’ve developed a good system of writing 25 chapters, each around 4000 words long, to arrive at a first draft of 100,000 to reduce in the editing by around 5000 words. The whole process takes about a year, as I allow about six months for the first draft, then about three for editing and revisions. I try to have a long summer break, as my main interests are sailing and sea kayaking, so I like to have the best of the weather. When I first started writing novels I kept making improvements to the final draft but experience makes it easier to know when it’s time to publish.

Q: Are you currently working on any writing projects? If so, what can you tell me about them?

A: I’m now researching book three of my Tudor trilogy, which explores the life of King Henry VII. Henry Tudor was born in book one, and book two takes him up to the Battle of Bosworth, so the final book will follow his life from there to his death at Richmond Palace on the 21st of April 1509. It will be published in the spring or early summer next year

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: I’m sure there are many people who know they could write a novel – if only they had the time. I’d like them to realize that simply writing one page a day is a book a year, so even if you still have to juggle other responsibilities, write something, every day, until it becomes a habit, which it will.

Book Trailers- The Tudor Trilogy

Find Tony Online:

The Writing Desk

WordPress website

Facebook

Twitter @tonyriches.

 

 

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April Book Wrap Up

I’ve been seeing book wrap ups all over the web, so I decided to join the club. This month has been pretty productive, especially considering I had my final exams in seven subjects (and passed them all!). I somehow managed to read 8 books in between my studying and am happy to report that I liked almost all of them.

I won’t go into depth about the books, but I’ll give you my rating and some quick thoughts on them. To read the full reviews click on the title.

Lets get started!

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Ruby Red

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Thoughts: Ruby Red puts an interesting new spin on time travel. The book was very entertaining, and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

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Sapphire Blue-

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Thoughts: Sapphire Blue was just as entertaining as Ruby Red. It takes you deeper into the world of time travel, and the stakes are higher than ever.

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Emerald Green

Rating:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Thoughts: What an amazing end to an amazing series. The conclusion was definitely not what I expected, and left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

e-Book Cover (Resthaven)

Resthaven

Rating:  ♥ ♥ ♥

Thoughts: Resthaven definitely kept me on the edge of my seat. There were a lot of twists I didn’t see coming. I do wish it had a bit of a stronger conclusion.

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Girl Online

Rating:  

Thoughts: Girl Online was a huge let down. I couldn’t even finish the book.

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The Tenderness of Thieves

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

Thoughts: The book was beautiful. The characters and emotions were so genuine, and the plot was intricate and enthralling.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

Thoughts: I really liked the book. The pictures added a wonderful medium to the text, and the story was full of surprises.

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The Electric Coma Dream

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Thoughts: The Electric Coma Dream was a very deep book. It delves into the true meaning of self, and is written beautifully.

 

That’s the end of my April Wrap Up! What books have you read this month? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review- The Electric Coma Dream

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The Electric Coma Dream by Matthew Gillies
Published by Flinch Publications on July 9, 2013
Genres: Adult, Dark Fantasy
Pages: 332
Goodreads
Amazon

The Electric Coma Dream is the hyper-realistic, ultraviolent story chronicling one woman’s descent into the nightmarish world of her desecrated inner psyche.

Life has never been easy for Anastasia. She’s been shot, stabbed and abused. She’s dealt drugs, been to rehab and went from having it all to having nothing in the blink of an eye.

Just when things couldn’t get any worse, Anastasia finds herself homeless, jobless and with nothing more to lose. But all that was about to change. At least, that’s what she wanted to believe until an overdose sends her into a drug-induced coma.

Waking up in a macabre world, Anastasia finds herself lost in the labyrinth of her own mind. Stalked by a ravenous beast and tormented by the grotesque personifications of her collective unconscious, she must journey through her repressed memories and confront the monstrosities that plague her every move as she struggles to escape her coma dream.

The Electric Coma Dream was deep. The book was lent to me by a friend after we discovered our shared love of a movie called The Seasoning House. As soon as I opened to the first page, Matthew Gilles pulled me in. His writing drew me onward, keeping me guessing the whole time.

The story starts with the main character, Anastasia, having a heroin overdose. She enters a sort of ‘Coma Dream’, where she not only self reflects, but finds her self. The running theme of the book was self; what is the self and how do we as humans hide and change our true self.

The Electric Coma Dream was not necessarily in chronological order. Instead, it features flash backs, flash forwards, and flash arounds (for lack of a better word). There were a few moments where I had to back track just to be sure when the passage was taking place. That being said, it was surprisingly easy to follow. Anastasia’s story was heartbreaking and captivating, and each twist was a complete surprise.

The contents of the book were much more mature than I usually read. There was a lot of drug abuse and dealing, sex, abuse, and fighting (both in an organized fight ring and between enemies). However, the book goes much deeper than that. It is about the human self to the very core. It does an impeccable job of outlining exactly what it means to be human in the darkest corners of society.

I wouldn’t recommend The Electric Coma Dream for young teens or anyone who doesn’t enjoy going to some *ahem* uncomfortable places. Other than that, I think the book was a spectacular read. It definitely deserves five hearts!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Author Q&A- Christa Wojciechowski

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Christa Wojciechowski, a writer and internet genius. Between writing her blog, reading, and working, she writes some pretty awesome books, which you can read more about below!

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Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?

A: I’ve been writing all my life, as soon as I could scratch out a story with my crayons in elementary school. I wrote picture stories about animals and rhyming poems. As I got older I began keeping journals.

In high school, I passed around outrageous short stories to my friends. Then I went on a long break from anything creative throughout my twenties. I was too busy partying to write, but I accumulated a lot of interesting material during this time.

After moving to Panama, I rescued a pelican who eventually was killed by my own dogs. It was tragic, and I finally felt this compulsion to write about him. That broke the ice, and then I wrote The Wrong David, which I published a few years later. But it wasn’t until November 2011 that I wrote my first full-length novel for NaNoWriMo. Since then, I just kept writing and now I can’t stop!

Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?

A: I’m kind of a muse whore. They all come and go. My muse could be a writer, a painting, an actor, or a song of some kind that gets me going for a particular story. I‘ll wear that muse out during my writing process. I conjure it up everyday, doing my best not to lose the magic between us.

Unfortunately, these relationships are short-lived. It’s like when an addict builds a tolerance to their drug of choice. You just can’t get a buzz anymore. Then I have to let the muse go. It’s always sad and scary, but I have to keep the faith that I’ll find a new one, maybe even a better one.

Q: You offer several services including beta-reading, social media marketing, and eBook and Print formatting and publishing. How did you get started in this business? What about it do you like?

A: My career in internet marketing began when family members asked for help building websites for their small businesses. I wasn’t a pro or anything, just more computer literate than the rest. My aunt soon introduced me to Hubspot, and I went through all of my social media training through them. Then I enrolled in Google Analytics training and passed the SEO certification. Most everything I taught myself. There is such a wealth of free information and eCourses on the internet now that you can learn anything! Now I’ve got tons of experience under my belt, which is not something taught anywhere and is the most valuable asset of all.

Although I would’ve never expected a future in social media, I feel this career was my destiny. Living in Panama and traveling a lot, I have the freedom to work from anywhere. It also gives me the luxury of setting my own schedule so I can have time to work on my own projects. I’m developing an eCourse to teach others how to work as digital marketers from home or anywhere. You can sign-up for the beta course at http://workinginyogapants.com

Q: You moved from the United States to Panama. What was that experience like for you?

A: I’m not going to romanticize it. It was very difficult. As much as I love new places and new adventures, I missed my family a lot. I had to learn the language and how to understand a culture wholly different from mine.

Luckily, I’m an introvert and don’t mind keeping to myself, but excessive isolation isn’t good for anybody. You start to get weirder and weirder, especially when you spend most of your time with characters like mine.

Despite the challenges, it was worth it. Panama is a veritable paradise. The ocean, the mountains, and the city are all within a day’s drive. The beauty here is lush and wild and it never ceases to blow my mind. I’ve lived here for almost ten years now. It is my home, but I don’t recommend it for everybody.

Q: You are a yogi. When did you start doing yoga? How has it changed or influenced your life?

A: I always wanted to try yoga and was envious whenever I saw people performing these beautiful asanas. Would you believe I learned yoga from the internet too? My parents were the best and supported me through years of ballet when I was young. After so much conditioning, my body is hooked on having some sort of physical discipline. Yoga is also crucial to fighting backaches and stiffness from sitting at the computer too long. Yoga has changed my life in many ways. I’m stronger both physically and mentally.

I would suggest Yoga with Adriene for beginners. She’s a total dork and so much fun. Yoga Today can take you up to a more advanced level. Their instructors have an amazing way of describing how you should be aligning every muscle, bone, and tendon in your body. I just started a new one called Yogea that is very expressive and takes you out of the usual traditional poses. It’s great to get the creativity flowing. You can find them all on YouTube or their own websites.

Q: What writing projects are you working on at the moment? What can you tell me about them?

A: I just released Book II of the SICK series. It’s called SICKER. Now I’m working on, you SICK cover 2 sm drop shadowguessed it, SICKEST. It’s a psychological suspense/thriller series about a very, very sick man.

My muse in this case was a nightmare. I wasn’t planning on releasing anything like this. I’d never written anything so dark before, but I’m kind of mystical when it comes to creative inspiration, so I acted on this dream.

I was really scared at first. The subject matter is very disturbing and I was afraid I’d put people off, but I’m so glad I followed my intuition. The series is getting a great response!

Q: Being a self-proclaimed “lit junkie”, what are your favorite books?

A: I am a devourer of classic literature. I have this app aptly called Free eBooks, which has enough classic lit to keep a person occupied for life. My favorites are the Russians (Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy), Oscar Wilde, and the Bronte’s. I was obsessed with Anne Rice as a teen. On the other hand, I love writers like Charles Bukowski, Douglas Adams, and Jerry Stahl, so I’m all over the place.

Q: What criteria does a book have to meet for you to consider it a “good book”?

A: A good book has to move me. I still enjoy books and movies that are purely for entertainment, but for a book to be good, it has to affect me on a deeper level. Life is so complex and confusing. I feel really disoriented as a conscious being here and now, and I gravitate toward authors who either clarify or commiserate with me on the aspects of the human experience I can’t figure out.

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: I would just tell the people of the world to go for your passion. Find it. Live it–­through all the ups and downs.

One of the greatest rewards of living overseas is gaining an outside perspective. Whenever I go back to the US I am shocked at the culture there­–a culture I was born and raised in that made me miserable. Every commercial is either for a shiny, giant SUV or a pill. This is the modern American Dream: work for all these things that are supposed to mean a successful life, then buy a pill to help us cope when we’re not fulfilled.

I believe everyone has a unique gift they should cultivate, and they will only be happy when they follow their passion and make use of it. If you’re a writer, write. If you’re a painter, paint. If you’re just a dude who likes to fix cars, go fix cars like a boss. Buy into yourself, not the American Dream.

I’m distanced from American life and values, and even though I still feel a little bit lost, I’m grateful I’m not part of that scene anymore. It might sound weird, but I feel I’ve got a head start. I know where my happiness isn’t. That narrows things down a lot! Once you let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and start searching for who you really are, that’s when life gets interesting.

Find Christa online:

Website

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Google+

Goodreads

Pinterest

Amazon

Book Review- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Random Riggs
Published by Quirk on June 7, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fiction, Paranormal
Pages: 352
Goodreads
Amazon

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

I did it. After having Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children sitting on my shelf and staring at me for almost six months, I picked it up and read it. And wow, was it amazing.

The beginning of the book was a little slow, giving a lot of Jacob’s backstory. It was very interesting, and introduced his relationship with his grandfather and the magical stories he used to tell.

On of my favorite things about the book was the pictures, which were placed throughout the book. Ransom Riggs described each one before it was shown, making them all the more interesting. Each one was perfectly woven into the story and created an unforgettable reading experience.

The way the peculiar children lived was remarkable. It was explained so well, and I can’t help but think that maybe–just maybe–these so called “loops” really exist.

The end of the book was a huge surprise. I had to reread the page just to make sure that I had understood it correctly. It made me rethink the events of the entire story, and put it in a new light.

I am going to give Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children four out of five hears. I can’t wait to read what comes next!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Book Discussion

Hey guys! Right now I’m in the middle of two books. One I read on my phone when I’m on the go, and one paper back that I read at home. Yesterday, my younger brother gave me a strange look and said “Hey Em, how are you reading two books at once? Don’t you mix up the plots?”

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The answer to his question is no. I’ve never had a problem reading books simultaneously, in fact, it’s something I am almost constantly doing. However, after talking with my brother some more, he revealed that if he starts a book while in the middle of another, he almost always has to re-read the original book he was reading from the beginning.

This has led me to the conclusion that there must be at least two different types of readers: Multi-readers and Single-readers.

So my question to you is this: What kind of reader are you?

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(BTW, I’m loving these eye-brow-raising GIFs) What pros and cons do you think there are for each? Is one faster or more productive than the other? What does your reading style say about you? I would love to hear your thoughts and comments down below!

Book Review- The Tenderness of Thieves

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The Tenderness of Thieves by Donna Freitas
Published by Philomel on May 26, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 352
Goodreads
Amazon

Jane is ready for a fantastic summer. In fact, she’s pretty sure the universe owes her one.

This past winter, Jane was held at knifepoint during an armed robbery and the specter of that night still haunts her. A summer romance with one of the town bad boys — sexy Handel Davies, who takes her breath away and makes her feel like a bolder version of herself — seems like the universe’s way of paying her back.

But bad boys always have secrets, and Handel’s secret just might shatter Jane completely.

I’m not the kind of person who usually reads romance. I bought this book a while ago, mostly because of it’s cover (which is beautiful) and because the synopsis was pretty interesting. That being said, I really did enjoy reading the book.

Donna Freitas has a beautiful writing style. All of her characters seemed so alive and real. It was very easy to relate to Jane and see the world through her eyes.

One thing I absolutely loved was how well the setting was described. I could imagine the little town where Jane lives, down by the ocean. I could see the women watching from the porches of their homes and imaging them gossiping in the background as the book went on. I could see the men coming in on their fishing boats at the end of the day and hauling in their loads.

Another thing I loves was Jane’s girls; Bridget, Tammy and Michaela. They were each their own person, clearly distinguishable from each other. It was almost as if I could hear what they were thinking before I read it.

Overall, I really liked the book. The ending was a bit predictable, but this book really was more about the journey there, which was extremely entertaining (and sexy).

I’m going to give The Tenderness of Thieves four out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥